#62: Jay Clouse (interviewed by Ryan Hawk!) [Commitment]
Turning the tables for a crossover episode with The Learning Leader Show
My recent guest (and incredible podcast host) Ryan Hawk asked if he could turn the tables and interview me for a special crossover episode of Creative Elements and the Learning Leader Show.
In this episode, we talk about my “Why,” how I tapped into my creativity, my journey with podcasting, the Smart Passive Income acquisition, and why I believe Commitment is the most important creative skill today.
Today is a special crossover episode. Last week, I interviewed the creator and host of The Learning Leader Show, Ryan Hawk.
After a while, all podcast hosts are asked by their listeners to spend some time talking about THEIR OWN journey. But it's weird to talk about yourself, and borderline insane to interview yourself.
Luckily, my recent guest (and incredible podcast host) Ryan Hawk asked if he could turn the tables and interview me for a special crossover episode of Creative Elements and the Learning Leader Show.
click to view episode transcript
Jay Clouse 0:00
It's amazing to wake up in the morning and not know what's going to be in your inbox or in your messages, but be excited to find out. Because most of the time, it's good things. You know, that's an amazing feeling versus I don't want to get up tomorrow cuz I don't want to go to work and I don't want to respond to the things that are expected of me. It's a totally different experience.
Ryan Hawk 0:19
Welcome to a special crossover episode of Creative Elements and The Learning Leader Show. Creative Elements as a show talking with one of your favorite creators about how to make a living with your art, and creativity. I'm today's host, Ryan Hawk. Let's start the show.
Hello, welcome to a special crossover episode of Creative Elements and The Learning Leader Show. My name is Ryan Hawk. And I was actually a guest on last week's episode of Creative Elements. Every week on the learning leader show I talk with CEOs, Special Forces operators, entrepreneurs, bestselling authors, professional athletes and more to discover the life stories and wisdom of the world's most effective leaders. And on Creative elements, Jay speaks with top creators about how they've made a living with their art and creativity. But one of those creators has been missing. And it was Jay Clouse himself. When Jay interviewed me for creative elements. I asked if he would be interested in doing an interview, we could air on both the Creative Elements and Learning Leader Show feeds, and he was up for the idea. As a podcast host, I can tell you that after a while we start getting requests from listeners like you to tell our story. And it's hard to do that in a way that feels comfortable and humble, especially if we are typically playing the role of interviewer. So I offered to turn the tables for Jay and interview him for his show, while creating a great episode for listeners of the Learning Leader Show as well. Jay and I have only known each other a short time, but even in that short time, we found a lot of common ground. Aside from hosting Creative Elements. He's a prolific writer, course creator and community builder to Jay co founded a ticketing startup called Tixers in 2014. Just a couple years later, that company was acquired, Jay started building his online community, Unreal Collective in 2017. And then in January of this year, Unreal Collective was acquired by Pat Flynn and Smart Passive Income. He's led product teams, teams of freelancers, and today leads the community experience team for Smart Passive Income. And along the way, Jay has experienced entrepreneurship in many forms, as a founder, a freelancer and now as a creator, but he'll tell you that none of it has come easy. In fact, he says his whole journey has felt slow, difficult and frustrating.
Jay Clouse 3:22
I don't think that I came from a background of anything special creatively, or artistically actually thought that I wasn't creative. And even to get the point where I'm at now, I think just takes commitment. Because you learn by doing, you get better, you figure out your taste. You don't have to have this perfectly articulated viewpoint of the world when you get started. You just need to know I'm going to go on a journey and I'm committed that journey and I'm going to go into it with eyes wide open, knowing is gonna take a while and then I'm gonna have to work really hard, and it's going to be frustrating all along the way.
Ryan Hawk 3:55
Thanks to Jay's commitment. He's built a following for his show Creative Elements, grown his newsletter readership and has created 11 full courses serving 10s of 1000s of students both independently and through LinkedIn learning. So in this episode, we talk about Jays' why, how he tapped into his creativity, his journey with podcasting, the Smart Passive Income acquisition and why he believes commitment is the most important creative skill today. I love to hear your thoughts on this episode as you listen. You can find me on Twitter @RyanHawk12 and Jay is @JayClouse tag us and let us know what you think. But now, let's talk with Jay.
Jay Clouse 4:48
Well, you know, a lot of my tweets come out of a place of frustration. Let me start there. But let me just say, you know, haven't been at this for four and a half years. I've been writing since January of 2017 and for the first year, I wrote a daily blog. And then that turned into weekly because not only did I see diminishing returns in terms of how much I was learning and growing, but it's almost a punishment to send somebody an email every day. It's not what most people want, right? But it built the muscle of consistency. And it helped me figure out what commitment was in this world. Because all of us look up to somebody who's probably a creator in their own right. And we see the success they've had, we see the lifestyle, or assume or project the lifestyle that we think they have. And we say, I want that. And we think that we understand the path to get there. But it's just so much longer in my experience than we think. And it's usually because we are under estimating the pathway that that person took, also, we're skipping over a huge part of their story a lot of the times, but you know, we look at these people, and we see them have what we think are these breakthrough successes and rocket ship to popularity. And usually they come into our world, because they're already on that rocket ship. And they have been for a long time. But sometimes I just get frustrated, because you know, I think I think about all the work that I'm doing. And it just seems so much harder for me than it does for other people. But that's okay, like, I'm still seeing growth, I'm still seeing things improve. And it's because I'm committed to the work, and I'm gonna keep showing up, and I'm gonna keep doing it. But I think it's an important message to tell people because we're sold these stories of, you know, there's so much opportunity, and you just need to put yourself out there. Yeah, like every week for years and years and years.
Ryan Hawk 6:32
I think part of it, though, you in order to stay committed, and to show up consistently each day, there has to be a strong purpose or a why behind it, you and I have both worked with people who are wanting to start a podcast or write a book or create, in some some sense. And the difference I found between the ones who are able to consistently create and to do that, is that there is this this, there's such a strong purpose within them, and a why that's stronger than how hard it is to do the work.
Jay Clouse 7:09
Ryan Hawk 7:09
Because it is so hard to continually do it. A lot of people can get started, and then they fizzle out because it just gets so hard. What do you think about that aspect? And I'm curious about yours? And what is that strong? Why? behind what you do and the purpose behind it, because I don't feel like you'd be able to continue doing what you do without without having that.
Jay Clouse 7:32
Totally agree. Because your resilience comes from your why. And you need to have resilience along this journey. But I think what not enough people talk about when they talk about your why is they want to know, the best version of your why they want to talk about like the altruistic version of your why, yeah, I'll be honest, for a long time, my why was that I just wanted a really flexible lifestyle. That was my why.
Ryan Hawk 7:55
I think it's a strong one. That's that's kind of like freedom, right? What is freedom? Casey Nice, nice, that's version is waking up. And then in between waking up and going to bed is saying I'm doing whatever I want. That's freedom. I kind of agree, you know, and that and that sounds what you're saying, right?
Jay Clouse 8:12
Totally. But it's not it's not sufficient. It's, it's it can be resilient, but it's not going to get you where you want to go. Because it's inherently selfish, in a way, right? You're doing the things that you're doing for your lifestyle. Okay, why should I care about that? Why should the market Why should the world reward you for that? Well, it's because you need to show up and serve others in some way too. So the why for why I'm trying to serve others is I won't help them do the same. I have gotten this taste of what it is like to live life on my terms, and to, you know, be rewarded for putting my ideas out in the world, the best experiences and rewards I get out of life are all directly attributed to, I put something out into the world, and it impacted somebody and they told me about it. And I want more people to feel that feeling. Because it's, it's amazing to wake up in the morning, and not know what's going to be in your inbox or in your messages, but be excited to find out. Because most of the time, it's good things. You know, that's an amazing feeling versus I don't want to get up tomorrow, cuz I don't want to go to work. And I don't want to respond to the things that are expected of me. It's a totally different experience. And I want people to feel that. And, you know, there are only a few ways to do that, I think and I think they all relate to being a creator. So I want to help more people get that.
Ryan Hawk 9:28
I know this is crossover, but I think a lot a lot of the people and the individual avatar of listening to my show is usually someone who actually works within a corporate america job of mid level type manager who is ambitious and as big goals and they want to exceed them. But a lot of them that I hear from also have this kind of nagging thing they're doing on the side that is like they love it, whatever, even if it's just playing guitar or it's a lot of cases of podcasts or writing. I'm curious Your thoughts on what you say to that person that their Why is I need to support my family, right? I have to pay the bills. And that's why I had this job. It's a good job. Good company. Good job. Good paycheck supports the most important people to me, but also has this kind of, I'm a creator. And so how do you scratch that itch for that person, what advice you have for them?
Jay Clouse 10:23
Look, those, those constraints are real, and you can't ignore them, you have to take them into account. I had a real light ball or you know, kind of like deep breath, relaxing moment, when I read The Artists Way by Julia Cameron. And that's a book that's widely credited with talking about a concept of mourning pages, which is you wake up in the morning, you write three pages, handwritten stream of consciousness, just to get your thoughts onto the paper, and then you can go about your day, you can kind of unlock your creativity. But another part of that book that I absolutely loved, where she talked about this idea of being a shadow artist, where most people who have this feeling of I'm not creative, I'm not good enough, that's actually a signal that you are, and you can find it in the careers that you follow closely, that you haven't really jumped into, it could be the person that's playing guitar. For me, it was consuming just a ton of comedy podcasts. And then learning about the world of Hollywood and watching a bunch of film, like, there's a part of me that really loves that world of production and storytelling. But for a long time, I was also in the world of working a job because I didn't think I was creative, I didn't think that could be me. But by doing the creative act of writing everyday, in 2017, I started to build that muscle, what I really want to tell this person who's in the job, and they feel like I have these constraints, but I'm creative. And I want to do this, I would just challenge you to expand your concept of employment and compensation. Because if you look at your job, what you essentially have is an exclusive contract with a client who's paying you 40 hours a week, who's making you sign non competes, who's also probably offering you retirement, and health care, these are all benefits you can still enjoy when you're self employed, it's just that the makeup of your time looks different. So like just think about the total amount of time you have available to you. In the beginning, you're probably going to sell some amount of that for some amount of money. But if you can retain some amount, and some creative energy to explore the creative side of you, you can start to build up the things that you need to build a life on your terms that's compensating you differently. And it may feel like a leap to leave a full time job. But a lot of the freelancers I work with their first client is their former employer, because you can go to them and say, Hey, I want move to freelance full time, you're not going to pay me benefits, I'm coming to you first to offer you, you know, 20 hours of my week, and a lot of people jump at that because it's painful to hire and train somebody new, that would rather keep you there to keep the processes in place, or at least train a replacement. So it's it's really just thinking differently about how much of your time you're selling, and how you're getting compensated for it.
Ryan Hawk 13:03
What about this, this term that I'm sure you hear? And I hear is, I'm not creative? What about for that person who's like, I don't think this one applies to me. I'm not creative. I'm not really I don't need to be I don't really want to be it seems like a lot of work. I don't know, the benefits of that as well as your response to when somebody tells you that
Jay Clouse 13:22
I had the same exact lie. And it took a lot of things that lie. Yes, yes. I mean, it's it's, I call it a lie. Now, it was at least a limiting belief right.
Ryan Hawk 13:32
Jay Clouse 13:33
I just think everybody is inherently creative in some ways, because creativity is problem solving. I had someone on Creative Elements His name is Allen Gannett wrote a book called The Creative Curve. He defined creativity as something that was novel and valuable. How does Allen Gannett, the author of Creative Curve, think about creativity? Like how would you define what is creative and what creative potential is?
Allen Gannett 13:53
I like the definition from sociology, which is the ability to create things that are both novel and valuable. And I like that, because I think a lot of people mistake creativity for productivity, which is just creating something. But that's actually not creative. Because when you think about like, if I painted a perfect replica of the Mona Lisa, that would be productive, perhaps, that would definitely be skilled, but would actually not be creative.
Jay Clouse 14:20
And we're all doing things that are novel and valuable all the time. It might just be finding a way to make sure that your new bench that you set in the entryway doesn't rock on the floor, because the floor isn't even when you find a solution to that. It's probably a novel invaluable solution to your your wife, your fiance. That's a creative solution. There are creative acts in our everyday life. And once you realize that you are capable of coming up with them and you stop playing that tape that limiting belief if I'm not creative. You get out of your own way and allow yourself to see the things that are creative.
Ryan Hawk 14:53
After a short break, Jay and I talk about storytelling and his ambivalence towards A+ work. Right after this Welcome back to this special crossover episode of Creative Elements and The Learning Leader Show. I've been connected with Jay on Twitter for a while, and one of his recent tweets caught my attention. I spent a good part of my early career at LexisNexis, working in sales 60 to 70 calls per day low base salary, but extremely high upside if you did the job. Well. And Jay recently tweeted, quote, sales is a scorecard for storytelling. And I wanted to understand what he meant by that.
Jay Clouse 15:39
You know, a lot of people talk about money is a scorecard itself, and in some positions that make some sense, but you have a an easy way to know how good you are at storytelling by the conversion of sales or or getting that outcome, you know, because a sale is usually just the story itself. There was a period of time where I had one of those sticky envelope mailer things on my wallet, and I wrote on it, why are you buying this so that I remembered every time I pulled out my wallet and pulled out my credit card, that I was telling myself a story in that moment, why I needed that thing. And it wasn't that I was trying to save money, although that was a byproduct. I just wanted to recognize what is the subconscious story I'm telling myself to justify this purchase, you start to realize that everybody is impacted by stories. And if you help them tell the story to themselves, why is this a good purchase? They're gonna do it. So if you like really focused on storytelling, and you have something to sell, you can directly measure you know how good I am at storytelling by how much am I converting into sales right now.
Ryan Hawk 16:44
One of your episodes of your show was with a mutual friend of ours, I did a live podcast in Columbus with James Clear, you also attended a live show I did in Columbus, because that's where you live with Jenny Burton Bauer, but the part of your James Clear conversation that I really liked, and I want to talk to him about next time I speak with him too, was the idea of doing A+ work. Because I think A+ work applies in any industry in any line of work, regardless of what you're doing, have this mindset of doing that, what is what is A+ work all about? And how do we, I guess, engineer the mindset to value that and strive for that.
Jay Clouse 17:23
I think James does break it down really well in that episode. And he thinks about it as kind of a power law.
James Clear 17:30
Tim Urban and I have talked about this the difference between doing A+ work and A- work. And it sounds like a fairly small thing. And it's like hey, and A- or B+, like that's pretty good, good, you know, nice job. But actually, in any sort of media, books, podcasts, YouTube, social media, the internet provides Infinite Leverage. And so all the returns are at the tail end. And so doing A plus work is it's not like 1x, or 2x, or even 5x. Better, it's like 100x, or 1,000x better.
Jay Clouse 18:02
And this is this is mathematically what a power law is. That basically means that the number two results, think about it from a Google search terms, because it applies to Google search terms, the number two results on Google gets half the number of clicks, as the number one result, the number three result gets a third the number of clicks as the number one result. And if you go down to the 10th result, which is still on the first page, it gets 1/10 the number of clicks as the first result. And if you visualize that it's an exponential growth curve. So A+ work is saying, I realize there are far higher returns, at the far end of the spectrum, in that growth curve, where I can be that number owners are number one result, I'm going to get twice as much attention as the number two result in the world. That is an incredible resource. But you have so much more value, if you are the number one result. So when you're creating something, when you're creating anything, anything that you want to get attention, being that A+ level of quality, is where it's unlocked. Because if you think back to grade school, in A+ was, you know, like a 98 and above, which is literally on a 100 point scale number one or number two, right? So to get A+ work, you need to be above everything else out there, and it's a huge threshold to cross. But if you cross it, the returns are just so much higher.
Ryan Hawk 19:27
I think if this is if you're going to do it, then do it. And what I mean by that is, like let's say for a leader in a business, who's gonna host a town hall meeting or they're sending an email to 500 people because that's how many people report up through them. That is very important and that needs to be A+ work. The Town Hall, you need to practice you need to prepare you need to treat it that it It must be A+ work, that email should be edited. So your your mentor should look at it before you You click Send, that's important. Or if you don't, if you say, Hey, man, you don't understand I don't have the time for that, then delete it. Don't send it. I think A+ work applies to leaders who value excellence. Like, this is why you could even sense me getting emotional about it, it's so important. If you're going to decide to do it, then do it. Instead of saying, like, let me just put out a bunch of Cs. Because I'm just trying to spray and pray type of approach, I really identify with this A+ work.
Jay Clouse 20:29
Yeah, I have ambivalent feelings on this. Because in the beginning, when you're trying to find your way in, you're trying to find your voice,
Ryan Hawk 20:36
Jay Clouse 20:36
it's probably not worth trying to chase A+ work, because it's arguably beyond what you can create at that time, until you get a lot of reps,
Ryan Hawk 20:44
Jay Clouse 20:45
And I tell people like in the beginning, you need to pass what I call the regret test, where if you say, Hey, I made this, you should check it out. If somebody takes you up on that, they just need to not regret it. So the next time you do it, they'll do it again, if they regret it, they might stop forever. So in the beginning, it's like, I need to pass a regret test, I can be B+ level quality with A+ level consistency. And that's good. But you get to a point where if you want to really, really go far, I think you do need to focus on the quality. And I think a lot about the term remarkable, like the literal definition of remarkable. And I want to make remarkable work. Remarkable meaning that when somebody sees it, they can't help but talk about how different it is how impactful it is how much better it is, because in a world of infinite choice and infinite information, only the few remarkable things catch on and get shared. And sharing is like one of the two biggest drivers of growth. And probably the more important, you know, if you think about organic search, I'm talking very much in terms of content right now. But there are really two channels of growth, one of them being organic search, the other being sharing from the audience, right? organic search is great. But the most interesting, people aren't just searching on Google for certain things all day and coming across your work, it gets coming to them because they have a highly curated world around them. And the best things get passed to them. They're not finding it in search. It's really great to build an audience in mass through search. But it's not always the most high level aspirational reader subscriber, things like that. To get there, you really have to focus on quality, make something remarkable, do this A+ work.
Ryan Hawk 22:33
I don't know if there's anything more powerful than a genuine referral from somebody I trust. There. I mean, if he's like read this book, watch this documentary, whatever you check out this podcast. I mean, for the people in my life that I'm close to that I believe in that I understand that we kind of are on the same trajectory of growth and learning. I just go and do it. And so I think, to think about, am I creating something that is shareable, that someone's going to want to refer to others, as I said, whether it's as an independent creator, building a business, or a leader within a business where your email is so compelling, and so inspiring, and this is possible, I've seen him that people are forwarding it to their friends who don't even work there. That's what I would try to think of when writing when when when writing I like look at my look at the leader, I'm fortunate enough to work with. Look what she says, this is this is amazing. And, and this is what I'm striving for, like, I don't see any reason not to strive for that, not to think about that. I remember having a conversation with somebody about excellence. And he goes, you know, what's number one, when it comes to excellence is a big thing with my show. And I'm like, what's that? He goes, you have to value it first, like good point, you have to value it first. To actually like care enough, then that something is excellent. And I really again, identify with that.
Jay Clouse 23:55
Yeah, the bar unfortunately gets higher all the time. Yep. You know, I think back to like early 2000s when YouTube maybe existed but maybe didn't exist yet. And you would find videos online on like eBaum's World you know, inside these three minutes super grainy, really weird videos that would go viral like that the Numa Numa video of the guy dancing right.
That was the type of thing that went viral back in the day. That is like nothing now you know, you have to have the most incredible beautiful well shot, thoughtful, differentiated type of thing for someone to share it because the level of quality and our expectations are so much higher and it's not only going to keep going in that direction. Luckily, you know, The Creator tools are improving all the time. So you can look good enough. And it's more about the message behind the medium. But it's harder all the time to hit that a plus level.
Ryan Hawk 25:11
Yeah. Jay may claim to be ambivalent about A+ work. But one of the areas he clearly strive to achieve A+ level quality is in community building. He's become well known for his thoughts on community building, especially after his Unreal Collective community was acquired by Pat Flynn, and Smart Passive Income. So I asked him where this fascination with community comes from.
Jay Clouse 25:38
The Internet is so funny, you know, everything that is old becomes new again. And now communities having a moment, as if building community is a new thing. But it's like the oldest thing in human existence, it's it goes all the way back to just people being around each other. We're social animals. And we always have cared and will care about each other, and will want to be around each other and benefit from one another. So, you know, my, my fascination with community is the same as everyone else's innate primal fascination with a community, which is I just want to be around people I care about and to help them and serve them. And that's one of the most important things to me, psychologically, physiology on this planet, we had a really interesting year in 2020, where our access to community changed a lot for most people, right. And I think that's part of what accelerated this conversation of online community, because we needed it. If we couldn't be around people in close proximity, which we've been sort of systematically been forcing for centuries. Now. You know, we've, we've gone from small villages where we all lived super close together to now we have these highway grids systems, and we live in houses as independent people, we've just forced ourselves away from physical community in a lot of ways. But in 2020, a lot of us were forced into our homes and didn't get to see our people. But we still had this need for connection, belonging, being around people that we care about, and that care about us. And, you know, that's something else that I want to help facilitate, because I think I've learned a bit about it. But it wasn't when I was focusing on it. It wasn't the topic that I was doing, I was just trying to connect people because I saw the value in it. You know, when I started building community, it was at events, hosting Startup Weekend, these 72 hour marathons of how to start a business. That was actually what people thought they were going for, they thought they're going to this thing to start a company, they left saying, My life has changed, because I just met 100 new people who think like me and care about the things that I care about. That was the what stuck. You know, that's how people started to regard those events. And that was the mission that I was on when I was doing that is I want to help people change their environment and the people around them, you know, it goes back to that old Jim Rohn quote, of being the average of the five people you spend the most time around, you can control that and more than ever, now, even if it is not in person all the time.
Ryan Hawk 28:06
Yeah, I mean, I, I'm a firm believer, you will rise or fall to the level of your peer group and, and that's what you're so focused on. And you build a business called Unreal Collective, which I know started small, like any business started small and then grew to the point to where the likes of Pat Flynn and his company wanted to acquire the business that you built. Can you share more about the building of Unreal Collective until the eventual acquisition by Pat and his team?
Jay Clouse 28:36
Like anything else that I do is not that I started with any type of master plan, you know, it's really hard to choreograph and look out and say, here are the exact steps I'm going to take. And here's the outcome that's going to happen. When I started Unreal, it was what I thought would be, you know, a good economic engine to build the rest of what I wanted to build. We started an interview talking about freedom and my why around wanting to build a flexible lifestyle. When you were working for yourself, your most precious resources time, anybody's most precious resources time. But I needed to figure out how can I provide value to people and earn an income from it, but not use all of my time in those services, so I could retain some time. And then it was more about just like exploration, I wanted to hold some time and space to explore what I wanted to do and what I wanted to build. And then it became Okay, actually, content is really interesting to me. I like podcasting. I like writing. I like making courses, those things take a lot of time. So I need to find an engine that can pay the bills, provide value to people and save the time and space to do that. So Unreal, came out of a conversation I had with Kwame Christian, who has been on the podcast and is also a Columbus guy. I was telling him that I was about to leave my job and I didn't know what I was going to do. And he said, If I were you, I would consider facilitating mastermind groups. And I had no idea what that word was. And he explained he's like I'm a lawyer. I meet with a few other lawyers who were also business owners, and we help each other grow our practice. And I had a pretty good network then because of things like Startup Weekend, because I've been building community sort of implicitly. And I thought, Oh, yes, I understand there is value to be derived from getting people together, helping them, talk, facilitating discussion that's going to help them do the things that they're trying to do. If I can help other people get to their goals, that's valuable. I think I can do that. So I just started doing that I started putting together small groups of people that were running similar businesses, I thought it's gonna be startup founders very quickly became mostly client service providers. At the end of the 12 weeks, which is length the program that I worked them through, I wanted to keep in touch, I want to keep supporting them. So I create a slack community. And after you finish the program, or even during the program, you got put into the Slack so that even if we weren't on a live call, you can communicate with anybody else in the community ask questions to get support. And that grew for three years to nearly 115 people that I'd worked with directly. And because I was very slowly integrating new people into that community, I implicitly did a really good job of introducing them to one another and building ties between them, which is what a strong community is strong one to one ties a bunch of times over, that is not, you know, controlled or dictated by one person, and SPI. They saw what I had built. And they said community is something that we're really invested in for the future of SPI. And we would love your expertise to come in and help us build that community. And in fact, why don't you stop splitting your efforts and bring Unreal into the SPI community to?
Ryan Hawk 31:38
Wow, what was that? What was the, I'm fascinated by like acquisitions, and you don't have to get into the details of the money. And if you don't want I understand that aspect of it. But I'm just curious, like, how it went from this conversation of like, let's work together to the full blown and acquiring your business. And then you working with with SBI
Jay Clouse 31:56
what started with consulting for them, I was basically doing a small amount of work each month to help them get their community ready. And then I helped them, you know, shepherd the beginning of that community, I helped them hire her full time Community Manager, Jill, who's fantastic. And it just became apparent that they had a lot of big plans for community, but they didn't necessarily know the best path there. And they thought I knew it better. And Matt Gartland put it out to me said, would it look like for you to come do this full time. And I said, I just have too much going on. I can't do that I have too much going on. And he said, Well, what if we purchase Unreal, and brought the community into SPI that'll take something off your plate, which was at the time like a huge chunk of my time. And that was really interesting to me because the SPI audience community were the same type of people I was working with Unreal. But now I could serve even more people, I could introduce the Unreal community to more business owners that they could learn from. And I could implement a lot of the assumptions that I had about how to build community at a higher level of scale. And I could independently because Pat's been doing this for 13 years, he has a huge following SPI has built a huge audience. And to do community Well, at a level of scale with that audience, I thought long term was a really cool thing to learn how to do is very cutting edge, there's just not too good of an opportunity to pass up. So you know, we hashed it out, and came on team in January of 2021. And have been running that team in that community effort for the last almost seven months.
Ryan Hawk 33:32
What are the key ingredients to a great community meeting if you're a leader of one, and this again, this can all even broaden out what community is this is this is also kind of your culture at work. This is the culture you're trying to build one of community. So for the person who's like, hey, I need to do a better job at this. I don't think I'm intentional enough about the community building aspect of culture building part about my team or my work, what are some of the key ingredients to that?
Jay Clouse 34:00
It needs to have a clear purpose for existing. You know, I encourage people to think about community in in a jobs to be done framework. What is somebody quote unquote, hiring your community to do or solve for them, you need to have one clear purpose because if you don't create a purpose and socialize that there's not going to be a filter on who joins and why they're all going to fill in the blank with their own expectation of what your community will do. Which means now you have to fulfill a large number of expectations that may not even be clear to you, for that community to be successful for that person. So you need to have a really clear purpose upfront. And then you really need to get into a service mindset of how do I fulfill that promise, that obligation I've made for my community members as quickly as possible so that they trust they made a good decision here. And that work pretty much never stops, then, you know, I get a lot of people who build communities They, in a well meaning way, try to focus on engagement metrics, how many topics are being posted? How many comments how many active members? And to improve those numbers? They start thinking, How do I just drive more comments? How do I drive new topics? And they'll make their their whole strategy on those questions, which is serving to increase your engagement, quote, unquote. But is that making a better experience for the community member? Is that actually solving the problem they wanted to be solved? Or are you creating busy work? are you creating more stress that people feel like they have to keep up with this, they have to contribute in this way. And now it's almost like work for them, as opposed to something that they're really glad they're a part of, you need to come from a place of what will make this a gratifying experience to my community members, what will make this something that they'll say, I'm glad I participated in that because this happened, because it's a gratifying experience that will keep them coming back. And we'll get them coming to a space that isn't Facebook. You know, if you want to build a community off of Facebook, you need to make it something that people are excited to go check out and they don't mindlessly find themselves seeing because Facebook has engineered us to open Facebook, it doesn't work that way. And a lot of these community platforms, you have to create an experience that people consciously say, I want to engage in that. Yeah.
Ryan Hawk 36:23
When we come back, Jay, and I talk about the art of interviewing and how you should approach podcasting if you want to get in the game today. So stick around, and we'll be right back. Hey, welcome back. I've been podcasting since 2015. And Jay started in 2018. And that time, we've both seen a lot of changes in the podcasting landscape and a lot of new competition, too. But there's still a lot of opportunity in podcasting. And I wanted to get Jays perspective on the landscape. So I asked him what new and aspiring podcasters should consider before starting their show?
Jay Clouse 37:04
Well, again,I think you should get really in touch with your why as to why you're doing this podcast, I mean, both sides who you're trying to impact, but also, why am I doing this, so I can know if this is being successful or not. And then needs to be aligned with the possibility of your show and the likelihood of success. Like if your why is that you want to become a better public speaker. Podcasting can be great for you, even if you have no listeners, you know, if you want to get more clients, it's going to be tougher, because it's just a different type of show that you want to do. If you want to access people that you typically wouldn't have a reason to talk to. That's also something that podcasting is good for, if you're trying to build a massive audience, and sell digital products possible, but a longer path, right? So figure out why am I doing this, because you need to know what that is, because it's gonna get hard, and you're gonna have to get through it, then realize that podcasting is an audio medium, and you need to make the audio sound good. It sounds so simple, but the bar is getting higher all the time on how good your podcast has to sound. And not because people have a conscious understanding of good versus not good. But they'll hear something. And if it sounds like low quality, they'll save themselves, this isn't good. They'll they'll implicitly know that you're not taking it as seriously as you should. And so why should they. So it's going to be a lot of work. I encourage people to think about the format of their show, also, it needs to be something that is marketable, that is solving a need for people in a way that they're not having solved by someone else. Because again, if we think about this a plus level of work, you have to be doing something novel and valuable. And there are a lot of shows out there now. So if you want to interview experts in their field, you're gonna be competing with Tim Ferris, you're gonna be competing with Ryan in a way, sometimes you think about more abstractly, but the more that you can be novel and valuable, the better chance you have to build a really big show because you're differentiated. And you do things differently. And you don't have to do some of these things that we assume we do. Like you don't have to do a weekly show. You don't have to do an interview show. Your show doesn't have to be an hour long. You know, these are all inputs, you can change, you can do a solo show that you post twice a month, that is 15 minutes or less. And that might actually be pretty compelling. Because the shorter your show is especially starting now and 2021, the more likely someone coming to it fresh will say Oh, give this a chance. I'll hit play the first time. And when they hit play the first time, it better sound good. They better enjoy it or they're not coming back for number two, you failed the regret test. I'm also finding now I'm surprised when people hear about Creative Elements. They go back to episode one. They listen to my episode with Seth Godin. And I'm so glad that episode one was with somebody like Seth and Episode Two was with somebody like James because it's a really great audition for your show to a potential listener from the beginning. They know Oh, this is legitimate. And I think you need that to stand out. Now, if you're trying to play the audience building sponsorship revenue game.
Ryan Hawk 40:11
If you analyze where you were, as a communicator during episode one, and leading up to episode one versus where you are now, compare and contrast for me.
Jay Clouse 40:22
I mean, I've definitely gotten less nervous, on average, talking to people I talked to like, talking with Seth Godin, I held my own pretty well, but I was nervous man, he showed up at a sound booth with tea and professional video, like he was ready to go. And I was like, Hi, Mr. Gordon, here's what I'm talking about. I think, Well, you know, 45 to 60 minutes if you have that. And he said, 45 minutes sounds good. Okay, yes, yes, 40 to 45 minutes does sound good. But luckily, because of Upside, the other podcast that I've been doing for more than three years now, I feel comfortable speaking on mics, and even I actually credit most of my public speaking comfort with again Startup Weekend, because I would lead those events and have to get up on stage in front of 100 people literally right in front of me, and not only hold their attention, but like command their respect, or that room devolved into just mayhem, you know, but you get a little bit better all the time, you get more efficient with your workflows, you realize, you know, how to craft a narrative arc, even in the order that you're asking questions, so that you can hit the points that you want to hit within the time constraints that you have, you know, like interviewing is its own form of creativity, it has its own constraints. And I tell podcasters all the time, if you want your episodes to be 30 minutes, don't do 60 minute interviews, because you're gonna have so much work in the Edit. And it's going to, you're going to be invited to ask questions that aren't really that additive to the experience. If you want a 30 minute podcast, do a 30 minute interview to a 35 minute interview. So that you're forced to ask the questions, and build the story that you want to build in real time.
Ryan Hawk 42:00
I think getting the reps, especially since it's an audio medium, you get to actually hear yourself learning or hear yourself improving. And to me that is really motivating. When you can sense that you're becoming a better communicator, which is a vital skill for just about any job or anything you're going to do or leading a family leading at work, whatever it may be. And that to me is one of the I didn't really think about it going into it. But is a massive benefit to regularly speaking on a microphone because you probably don't hate the sound of your voice. I don't. Most people do because they rarely hear it and then they hear it think that that's that's not how I sound. I don't feel that way, maybe at the beginning.
Jay Clouse 42:45
But exactly how I sound now.
Ryan Hawk 42:47
Yeah, and hopefully you like it, you know, and I think you grow to to hear to me, hearing improvement is a really motivating factor in this work. And it's part of what keeps me going that and certainly feedback from others. And that's the one part I wanted to bring up with you is you've you've tweeted about this recently, and I completely agree. And that the juice for me and I'll say this respond to the emails with it like this is the juice the juice is when you've impacted somebody's life that is a complete stranger. And they may live on the other side of the world. And they listen to it at the dinner table or or they talked about at the dinner table from what they listen to during the day. And that is the juice man like that is the fuel that that keeps you saying like, this is why I need to prepare. This is why I need this to be good because it's impacting lives and they let me know and talk about talk to me about the feeling you have when you when you can get a note or told from somebody that your work has helped them.
Jay Clouse 43:47
It's incredible. It's like unmatched, it's insane. Even you know, it's you spend so much time building this stuff, making these things and most of the time, it feels like you're shouting out into the void. And then sometimes you start to get a good sense for like, well, nobody's listening actually know, like the five people who are listening, and someone comes out of the woodwork. And it's like, wow. And they'll say something like, I've been listening to this for last six months. And you're like, Wow, really, if that one person is motivated to reach out and tell me this, they must represent some, you know, multiple on that people who are also in that same boat that just haven't reached out to you is just the best. I encourage people all the time. Like if you are impacted by somebody whose work, reach out and tell them they will see it. I guarantee you they will see it. creators get a little bit more like closed off and numb to requests of their time because the more successful you get, the more that somebody wants a piece of you. But I feel like you don't get tired of hearing from people that you're making the work for saying I appreciated this. I don't see it every time.
Ryan Hawk 44:55
I was on a meeting with a leader today earlier and he said why If it's kind of mottos for living, is that compliments are for the living. And he's a leader of a lot of people on his team. And I said, he goes, you know, a lot of people, they, you see somebody dies and and there's all these, this outpouring of love and affection for their work and for them. And his whole mantra was, well, that's great, don't you know, you should continue to do that, but there, but you can also give the compliments to the person why they're alive. So when you sit, when you see somebody who has done something that you like, tell them, tell them and you're like in look at the look on their face, if you happen to be with them in person, like look at the look on their face, when you give them a genuine, specific compliment on something to do, and certainly have a creator who a lot of our work is done on our own by ourselves in a room writing or putting something together or recording or editing, whatever may be, and then you put it out in the world to be judged. And it could be terrible, right. But it also could change somebody's life. And when you're told about that, that's the juice. I mean, that that is the fuel that I don't think ever I've talked to John Maxwell and Simon Sinek. about that. I mean, they get a billion compliments a day and they like no, it's awesome. I love it. This is why I do it. This is why I do it. I mean, they get them constantly. So I think that's a that's a really critical point. This is really flown by Jay, I'm, I always love like learning about like people as people. And this is sometimes hard. But you've you've put on your website, you've put the end of blog posts or things that you've published, you'll say, if you buy this course, it's going towards the down payment on my house, or I just got engaged to my fiance, and you know, we're going to pay for the wedding or whatever it may be, like you, you'll say your money is going to pay for this. And I think that takes some guts to take some vulnerability. I'm curious about bringing your personal life, your whole self, to your public life, because I feel like you're pretty much the same guy, I've met you in person, we've talked a lot. And you're no different in any setting, whether recording or we're not talking about that, that part of the authenticity to you and your story.
Jay Clouse 47:11
Well, it's part of the whole reason why I'm doing this right is the same, you know, I said, my my why was to have personal flexibility, but it would be incredibly constricting, if I was spending my time trying to be somebody else or not be myself. Now, of course, like, there are filters and we all wear a mask to some degree of you know, who we need to be for certain situations. But I really want to get to a point where it all feels just very aligned and comfortable. Because it's it's similar to like when somebody says, you know, the hardest, like, when you start telling lies, you're gonna get caught because you can't keep them all straight. If you start putting on the mask of something that you're not, it's gonna become really easy to spot in consistencies and incongruencies, with who you are in your character, and super easy to lose trust, right. So, I mean, for me, I think that we're in a moment where we're thinking about who we're learning from and who we're connecting with, and what our community is. And we're looking at people more as people, you know, instead of necessarily going to a university and getting an education from those professors, because that's who the college has pulled together. We're doing at least our own continuing education through individuals, we're choosing like, this is why we'll learn this from because I trust them or I like their perspective on this. And we build like our own tribe of mentors, as Tim Ferriss has, has called it right. And I think a lot of that comes from who you are, because there are a lot of people who are going to functionally be doing the same things that you're doing. But we resonate not just with the function, but the form in the the ethos, the the the Wabi-sabi of who somebody is. And I want to introduce that into my work, because it's just easier.
Ryan Hawk 48:57
Did you say, Wabi-sabi.
Jay Clouse 48:59
Ryan Hawk 49:01
Was something there. Have we talked about that before?
Jay Clouse 49:03
No, well, Wabi-sabi is, I forget the language, but it's I think it might be Japanese. It's just like this term for things that are very distinct and unique in their own ways, even if they don't look symmetrical or precise, or technically beautiful. Everybody has their own Wabi-sabi. Our mutual friend Jay Konzo calls it the waggle, you know, the thing that you do before you go up and bowl or swing the golf club or swing the baseball bat, distinctive thing. People want to see that it's easier to be yourself when you can just be yourself. And I think people appreciate it too, because we've all through social media, understood, the good feeling of patronage, you know, for a long time to be like a patron meant patron of the arts and you, you had to have a bunch of money and you were going to support artists and whatever. But now we support each other and our friends and creators we love just by liking their work or retweeting their work. People do the same for us. We understand what it feels like to be supported, and have patronage. And I think the more that you lean into who you are, the more you invite people to support us specifically.
Ryan Hawk 50:10
Well, speaking of the things I just mentioned, big, big life changes for you, man over the last year, I guess, right? I don't know the exact dates, but you bought a house, and you got engagement take me inside the process. I'm more curious about the engagement. Like how did that go? How do you plan it? You being a creative guy, a lot of pressure, like how was it?
Jay Clouse 50:30
Oh, gosh, it was hard, man. I mean, Mallory and I, we moved in together into an apartment in February of 2020.
Ryan Hawk 50:37
Oh wow. And then that lived together prior to that.
Jay Clouse 50:40
We had not lived together.
Ryan Hawk 50:42
What a what a time. And your time.
Jay Clouse 50:45
Yeah, so shortly thereafter, you know, we're spending every minute of our lives together. And it worked, it was good.
Ryan Hawk 50:51
You're gonna learn, you're gonna learn something really quick.
Jay Clouse 50:53
Yeah, it was better even. And we got to a point where through like a pretty rough beginning of 2020, we exited 2020, both having a lot of momentum in our careers and personal lives, and we'd loved each other. And we knew that, you know, we are in a position where we can stop renting. So like, let's look into buying a house. She's a realtor. She's an incredible realtor. And that's a huge commitment. And in the back of my mind, I knew that was the second commitment that I had made to this woman, you know, in my mind, the commitment was, this is who I'm going to spend the rest of my life with. Let's make that official before we buy the house. And that will probably be like a psychological load off for everybody involved. But it was, it was quarantine It was during the pandemic, and we were taking it super seriously.
Ryan Hawk 51:37
Jay Clouse 51:37
I had no idea how I was going to get a ring. And surprise her with this. So I talked with a friend of mine. And the initial idea was actually to get a ring doorbell and give this to her as a gift of like significance of saying, This is my commitment to you, in the form of a house, this will go on our house. But it was a little little too teasing a little bit too much of a reach.
Ryan Hawk 52:02
Jay Clouse 52:03
And I had just had a chance conversation with a friend of mine, Nico. And he said he'd just gotten engaged. He bought the ring online. And he said something to me just off and he's like, do you know, girls just tell their friends the type of the ring that they want? I said, Is that true? Is that real? Because I was thinking I would have to like, take a wild guess. And bring her into a shop, which seemed not that special. He's like, yeah, they just tell their friends. So I started like asking around to our friends. And sure enough, I found out exactly the ring that she wanted.
I didn't tell her. Because I have another ring on this answer. I said, I know that I wear a lot of silver. I don't actually like silver. It's just that like a lot of old gold. Or like rose gowl. You like rose gold? Yeah. Okay, hold on. Let me show you my. And I sent this to my friend. Question. I was like, who would ask you what to bring you should give me show him. There's so there's a website called Brilliant Earth. It's all ethically sourced diamonds.
Jay Clouse 53:04
I ordered it online had it shipped to my parents house because we couldn't I couldn't ship it to our apartment. Every package that came she said, What is that? Where did it come from? Let's wipe it down. So shipped to my parents house over Christmas, went and visited them, took it back and proposed at Franklin Park conservatory during their annual lights show. Because it's one of the few things we could do. But felt like safely outdoors and altruism for good photos and good romantic setting. didn't want to just do it in the apartment where we spent the last eight months of our lives.
Ryan Hawk 53:35
Jay Clouse 53:35
Yeah, it's a special time.
Ryan Hawk 53:37
Congrats, man. It's awesome. One more question for you, man. So, you know, I know a lot of people reach out to you who are probably earlier in their career, and perhaps they just graduated from Ohio State or another great university, from anywhere in the world. And they're not quite sure what they want to do other than the fact they know they want to put a dent in the world, they want to leave their mark. They want to positively impact others. But outside of that, not quite sure. I know this is tough. But I'm curious, what are some general pieces of life slash career advice you give to that person?
Jay Clouse 54:15
I've been there. I know what it feels like. And I know it feels like I should be able to skip the line and do this now. Like, anyone can do this at any time. Why can't I just change the world right now? And maybe you can, but also realize there's a lot to be said about experience. And sometimes it takes life experience to find out what you're good at what you like to do what people value, because for the most part, people who come out of college are one in 10s of 1000s. You know, you've been given the same education, you've probably done a lot of the same things. You haven't started to forge your own path yet. And it takes doing some of your own path finding to do something unique novel invaluable, you know, as I was saying about creativity. So I think the most important thing is to start getting in touch with what you want, and your interests. And that takes trial and error. When I went to college, I went into the exploration program, which is undecided. And my advisor said, okay, congrats, you're in undecided. But this is not a magic bean, you actually need to try stuff. So you can figure out what you want to decide on. Same is true for the rest of your life, you got to try stuff that you're drawn to, you'll find out the elements of it that you like, the elements that you don't like, you can cancel out, or like, try to pursue things that maximize the things you like, and eliminate the things that you don't like. And to me, that's just the pursuit, that's the work is just the lifelong, continuing to pursue the elements of my work that I enjoy finding ways to eliminate the things that I don't, or at least outsource them, right. And it takes time and space, to give yourself the freedom to try things out and reflect on how you feel about it.
Ryan Hawk 56:00
And I feel like you intuitively have done a really good job of building quality relationships. And that's what is kind of the makings of a great life and career. And I find that, that being part of part of that that's, that's sitting right here with this mindset of of, it takes time. It takes actual experiences, meaning you have to do the work, not just think about it, but actually do it. And then along the way, building those relationships with people where they're mutually beneficial you but you both add value to each other's lives, and then having a series of those and not in a transactional way and not in a networking way. But in a way of building real genuine relationships. That's what's led to the good moments in your work. And I know it's it's led to the good moments in mine as well.
Jay Clouse 56:47
You can feel when you're around somebody that you vibe with and who is bringing out the best parts of you. And that's another thing that you need to tap into and feel when it happens. Because that will guide you towards the people you want to spend more time around. The people want to spend less time around. It's just like exploring your interest. It's exploring the social circles that you want to find yourself in. Because again, we're social beings, we want to be around people. But we don't have infinite availability to be around people, we have to make choices. And that's totally your control. You can you can spend your time around who you want to spend your time around. And in fact, I think you should be fairly ruthless about making the decisions.
Ryan Hawk 57:25
Yeah, yeah. Jay, this is awesome, man. You know, I could talk to you all day. I really appreciate it. Creative Elements. Learning Leader Show awesome crossover here. I'm glad we got a chance to do it. I doubt it will be the last one. We'll keep at it. One, one last thing, though. I just just remembered. I heard you have a secret ambition to write a book. Is that true? What's happening?
Jay Clouse 57:47
I do. And it may or may not be happening in real time as we're doing this podcast because, you know, I was blown away by the elegance of how Tim Ferriss wrote Tribe of Mentors. Yeah, and maybe something similar is happening right now with the Creative Elements.
Ryan Hawk 58:05
I love it. Love it. Oh, well. I'm excited for that, man. Thanks so much for being here. I know. We're gonna continue our dialogue as we progress, man. It's been so cool.
Jay Clouse 58:13
Hey, thanks, Ryan. Really appreciate this.
Ryan Hawk 58:15
This crossover episode was a lot of fun to put together I hope The Learning Leader Show listeners enjoyed meeting Jay and I hope the Creative Elements listeners enjoyed hearing a little bit more about the man who was usually on the interviewer side of the mic each week. If you haven't already listened to episode number 61 of Creative Elements where Jay interviews me, I'll put out the shameless plug to go give it a listen. You can subscribe to both The Learning Leader Show and Creative Elements wherever you get your podcast and links to both are in the show notes. Last thing if you enjoyed this episode, go ahead and leave a rating and or review on Apple podcasts. I can tell you it goes a long way and we will appreciate you for it. You want to learn more about Jay you can follow him @JayClouse on Twitter or Instagram or subscribe to his newsletter at JayClouse.com. Thanks to Jay for putting this together with me. Thank you to Emily Clouse for making the artwork for this episode. Thanks to Nathan Todhunter for mixing this show and Brian Skeel for creating the music. If you liked this episode, you can tweet @RyanHawk12, @RyanHawk12 or @JayClouse, and let us know. We'd love to hear from you. Thanks for listening, and we'll talk with you next week.