Creative Endeavors: Right Goals + Right Team = Everything!
Hustle Or Bust started in December 2012 after my wife Kim & I went out to dinner. It was Kim's idea and she gets the credit for getting it off the ground. She thought it would be a good idea to learn the world of digital marketing with a hands on project, while simultaneously putting pen to paper on a host of mantra's, musings, rants I've had for years.
To be honest, the thought of taking limited personal time to figure out how to build a website did not make my top 5 list of fun things to do on a Saturday morning. BUT, I saw some therapeutic benefits to writing, so I got that . We dove in, grabbed the domain/name, slapped something together on WordPress, and I started blogging. It started slow, commenting on pop culture, then I slowly started to pull in lessons learned about all areas of business I've picked up, either through successes, or pain!
That was 10 years ago. A decade is a pretty big chunk of time, and fun to look back on. Here's the big things I remember about late 2012:
We were plodding our way out of the great recession
Life had us in Memphis TN, year 4 of an 8+ year great run
Social Media was now mainstream, BUT the country's largest businesses were STILL in denial mode, 5 years into talking about the thing we were all consuming our time on as "a fad." The biggest and best were missing the sea change of an entire generation, putting themselves in catch-up mode.
Here's the thing about blogs, or websites in general: If you don't completely revamp them over a 10 year time period, they absolutely will look like the oldest, most run down house in a neighborhood.
The bones may be OK and it still may be safe, but the house is old and in need of updating. Updating can be hard however. A coat of paint? Pretty easy. Changing those Formica kitchen counters to quartz and adding a bathroom? Not so much.
!We are currently in the planning (design) stage of renovating our home in Fanwood NJ. It's a borderline historic home. That's a realtor term that means it's a freaking money pit! Our house is so old (I kid you not), on our side door there is a metal box that can be opened for.........wait for it.......Milkman deliveries!
So as we work with our contractor and architect and the blue prints come out, a basic question comes up:
How do we incorporate the dining room with the kitchen, and make space/tables for both? Dining room? My wife and I had different initial instincts on this, the need for a dining room. So I ask a basic question:
"OK, we've lived in Norwalk, Clifton, Cinci, Memphis and back to NJ, 5 places over 20 years. Does the number of times we've used the dining room go past 5 fingers or not?" It MAY have been 5 times.
Clearly our lifestyle is more about hanging in the kitchen than formal dining, so that drives design, give us a really big island with bar stools around that and open space vs 2 separate areas. Thankfully this was not a cause of marital conflict!
In the world of websites and digital marketing, Blogs may very well be the Olivito reno equivalent of the dining room. Still there, but as useful as they were back in the day? Maybe not.
Podcasts on the other hand? Feels more like the Kitchen great room with the big island. They are kind of a throwback to the old days when the radio would be on in the background......occupying someone's ears on the treadmill, their commute or background music seems to be a more natural media for today's multi screen generation.
So a podcast anchors Hustle Or Bust site:
The Hustle or Bust Podcast, Powered by PAVERART.
The merging of PAVERART gives us the real life learning lab, or playing field to directly tell the stories small business owners, entrepreneurs and individuals looking to grow will relate too. And to be honest, bring the PAVERART brand into HB "ups the ante" for doing this right at a really high standard. Extra motivation never hurts.
UNLIKE 2012, there's ZERO chance Kim & I are going to pull a podcast off without help, wouldn't know where to start and quite frankly, I don't have the patience to figure this one out. So outside resources are needed.
There are plenty of agencies, independent contractors, etc to help you us get there. But I had other ideas.....
Enter Dominic, the 14 year old that shares my last name.
I'm biased, but I knew he'd be a great partner and wingman. He's entering his third summer working at PAVERART. He's sweated in the engraving room and worked on designs. He knows the team. He saw the business when we acquired it in August of 2018 to where we are now, double the production/revenue, team members, branding stronger, team stronger. He's lived through the grind of getting us to this point. On the side he's learning Blender (3D animation) and for fun he's taking a Harvard 13 week course on video game programming and will try and cram that into the summer. While he's into programming, I suspect there's also a twinkle in his eye of doing this at 14 and bragging rights to taking a Harvard college level course going into his sophomore year of high school, and the course is also free, so nothing to lose. I wrote about "Re-immagining education, through the eyes of a 14 year old on the Brick By Brick Site.
When you combine Dom's competitiveness and some real experience in our business, we have our wingman. Anybody that's worked with creative agencies can attest to the fact that their Achilles heel is simply not knowing the business, the culture, the struggle. How do you capture/bottle all of that WITHOUT this understanding? Clearly I'm biased in this area and my experience with third party agencies may be spotty in terms of great results.
What else is needed? A podcast Wingman (co-host).
Enter Mike, a co-founder of PAVERART and our General Manager. Mike's a great storyteller, smart as a whip and most important, has seen PAVERART from before day 1, all the struggles, to what I've tried to do and invest in it over the past 4 years. 20 years of experience at PAVERART, that's 100% of the picture of a small, specialized Manufacturing business with a premium brand that's gone from startup, high risk, "stasis" to accelerated growth and sustainability. Moreover, Mike spent 10 years as a young lad playing the accordion, and I can't stop laughing at the banter that resulted because of this! Chemistry does matter.
So Mike is deep on PAVERART, small biz. I have some depth their too, but have also worked in larger company's and acquired (and sold) other businesses. That's a somewhat rare outcome that could benefit others that look to build enduring and valuable businesses.
In short, the Hustle or Bust Podcast Powered by PAVERART has a small little team in myself, Dominic and Mike. Mike & I tell the stories, confront the topics, Dominic pulls it all together and makes sure we are proud of the end product.
Hustle or Bust 1.0 was a one man band with help from Kim on the startup. Hustle or Bust 2.0 is a team. Good teams tend to produce better results.
Like Hustle or Bust in 2012, there's a commitment for staying at this. We are committed for 52 episodes, 1 per week, even if ZERO people tune in.
One of the key learning's from Hustle Or Bust was the motivation and expectations for starting it. It wasn't to build a following. It wasn't for "personal branding" or monetizing the audience. It was simple, 2 key reasons.
I was leading a marketing team, and I thought we were a bit behind the times in the world of digital, and that started with ME not having enough dirt under the nails.
I thought it would be fun and simultaneously stress reducing.
Be consistent, and write, at least weekly.
That's it. Anything that resulted to the positive outside of 1&2 = bonus. But that wouldn't be the driving force. Simple expectations
And what are our goals with Hustle or Bust 2.0? I see 3 goals...
Clean Out the Closet. Cut The Lawn. Change Out the Counters.
So the website house is more respectable and the lawn is mowed! Dom updated the logo. The blog posts are much more visual vs laundry list text links. The formica is being updated and the dining room ditched (launch of the podcast). That's goal #1.
Let's have some fun and grow (personally).
I respect and admire Mike, and he seems to be enjoying this and the first 5 episodes seems like we are clicking and we can get better at it. And we've laughed pretty hard at times. Laughter is great for mental health. We work pretty hard at PAVERART and the last thing we need is a chore that doesn't add to the quality of our work lives....so let's not do that!
It IS a tad daunting to think of 52 episodes and creating that content calendar. The first 5 we've done relatively little planning, and 2 of the 5 episodes were completely off the cuff. So that needs to be solved.
I get to see Dominic get dirt under his nails. In many ways he's the epitome of what I envision for the Brick By Brick Apprentice: The New School way of advancing your education, portfolio of skills and making an impact along the way, without burying yourself in debt. He'll have the 52 episodes in his toolkit but Independence Day 2023, before he even gets his drivers permit. But he's also in HIGH SCHOOL, so we need to figure out a way to manage all the editing and production WITHOUT coming down to PAVERART on a regular basis outside of the summer and have him work this into HIS schedule.
Let's add value to the world!
The world has 2mm+ podcasts, and growing. It's a crowded world. But are there people that can be helped from OURS? Clearly we think that answer is yes. About 1 year into Hustle or Bust, somebody I met only once came up to me at a tradeshow and said "Loved GBE!"......a post I had written about job candidates and articulating Great Business Experience. It was a bit surreal, and the first sign that there was people getting some benefit from the writing, which was not my initial expectation. I thought I was just being clever tying a cringeworthy Jersey shore reference (GTL-gym tan laundry) into an interviewing post. Knowing that is a real possibility now (helping others), let's make that a goal and make sure we are adding value, helping others that are open to a variety of topics.