The Lucky Titan

Persisting with your passions with John Bennardo

June 07, 2021 Josh Tapp
The Lucky Titan
Persisting with your passions with John Bennardo
Show Notes Transcript

I was born in New York but moved to Florida at age 10. I was always writing - short stories and poems into high school, then I covered sports for a local newspaper. At the University of Miami (FL), I also covered sports but discovered a passion for movies and changed my major. I got a Master's degree in Screenwriting at The American Film Institute and nearly sold a script years later. Worked in the biz for a while. Moved back to Florida and started a videography company, which combined my love of filming things and writing. I taught at a college and continued creative pursuits by making 2 short documentaries and one award-winning feature film - about $2 bills. Grew my business enough to support more creative pursuits; I made a mobile puzzle app but am most proud to have gotten back to my true writing roots to complete my first novel, which is available on Amazon. My intent is to continue to build my author platform and keep writing.

My new humor novel:
My author webpage:
My Twitter:

Josh: What is up everybody, Josh Tapp here again and welcome back to the lucky Titan podcast and today we are here with John Bennardo, and I'm stoked to be here with him because John and i just had a really good conversation prior to this he's got such an interesting story, you know, he started out as a writer, then ended up going into documentaries into videography he's launched those and then he has kind of gone full circle back to writer and has written a new book, which is going to be an amazing one that I want to talk about here but just such a cool story, and I am excited to talk with him about his journey and really, you know, you're going to see with this episode is going to be a little bit different than our typical episode, I've been trying to throw some of these in here, because it really helps break up the business tips, right? Sometimes you just gotta have a great, amazing guest so like  this person is just a good human being. So that's what John's here for today and John, first off, say what's up to everybody, and then we'll hop in.

John: Hey, what's up, everybody, thanks for having me, Josh. 

Josh: Yeah, it's gonna be exciting. So, John, first off, I want to ask you about the documentary side, because, I mean, what got you to most people think documentary like the boring, right but what got you to that world? 

John: Well, I got to go backwards for a little bit, because my nature is as a writer, was always a writer and I love movies as well. So as I got older and went to film school, obviously, you combine the two loves instead of writing books and short stories, you write films so as I got older, I found the easiest film to make it doesn't have to be financed, financed and scripted to that ways to do documentaries on my love education and learning more about things, I did a couple of short films one about Sai Sperling, the Hair Club for men guy, the guy that said that he recently passed away, you know, not just not just on the also client, right, not just the owner, and also a client, if I remember that, I did another one on a race car driver and I said, What's going to be my next project, you know, I love having my own self projects, and I have $2 bills stuffed in my desk drawer, as many of your listeners may have one tucked away in their wallet and whatnot and I said, you know, I'll explore this a little bit, I'm gonna do something fun with this and again, this is coming from my humor background as a writer and long story short, I mean, I discovered so many unbelievable things about the $2 bill and the thing just took off, I raise money on Kickstarter. Once I started researching, and people reaching out to me telling me that they were involved in the rerelease of the $2 bill in 1976 and it just blew up into this amazing film, which ended up winning some awards on the film, festival circuit and whatnot but it's not so much that I'm a documentarian per se, it was that I was looking for a topic to tell a story about and do so in a fun way, because the $2 bill is a quirky piece of currency and it just evolved into this little bit more of a serious educational documentary, with some humor in it, that became like one of the greatest things I've ever done, I mean, the project is exceptional people watching are always surprised that there's so much to learn about $2 bills, starting with the fact that they're not rare we can go a long time on this podcast if you want, but they're not rare they're still in print and that right off the bat blows people away and that's just barely anything that I'm telling you about in the film that's just scratching the surface.

Josh: Well, and I love that you've you've bridged it with something else you're extremely interested in, which is humor, right because I know for me, I'm actually a real documentary nerd. I really like watching documentaries so shoot me the link to that love to watch it but it's, it's really intriguing, because the ones that just suck you in, it's not the what's his name, the National Geographic guy, I cannot remember his name. Anyways, the voice of National Geographic, right? It's not the boring, like, here is the penguin, right? The documentaries that are amazing other ones, right? A really truly documents the story and it's and it pulls you in and kind of sucks you in based off of good storytelling and then incorporating humor into it as well. And you've kind of done that same thing with your book, right? Because now the book is about a whole other like social cultural issue, and putting humor with it, right? Because other people are gonna write books about the goods and the bads about this, right. You're saying let's let's make this a funny book.

John: Yeah, in fact, the book is about canceled culture, something we're living with in a big way and I like to satirize things, I don't think we should take things too seriously in this world. I think that's one of our problems is everybody is so easily offended, which is kind of what the book is about, as well but, you know, we just when I spend evenings laughing, I'm in a better place in my life, I'll put a look for something on Netflix, I'll end up watching a comedy or just a comedian do a one hour thing, the more I laugh, the better I feel and when I write, I make myself laugh. And I also know that if it's funny enough, other people will laugh and that's kind of the value that I like to bring to people is how can I make you laugh, I can have you sit down and entertain you forget your problems for a little while and read this and just laugh and laugh at yourself, or laugh at others in society so we're living in this world with canceled culture where the slightest thing that you do wrong, gets you in trouble and could end your career and I said, we're just this is outrageous everybody's so offended by anything and I'm sure somebody is listening today who might not want to admit it, but they probably fit into that category where they get offended when they really don't have to be. So the book is about a celebrity who has a typo in a tweet and innocent typo and it turns from something positive to something extremely offensive, and then once he's offended the LGBTQ community with this, then he becomes a bad guy in the press and while everybody's piling on people from his past come out and say, well, this thing he said 20 years ago offends me and this thing he did 30 years ago offends me and this, like everything that he's ever done in his past as dredged up and used against him to make him one of the most hated people on the planet and he's guilty of nothing, I mean, he's just the most innocent sweet guy who is being dragged down because of a typo and that's the name of the book, just a typo and it really just satirizes this world we live in where you can't make a mistake, or you're in serious trouble and your career is over.

Josh: It's almost like a Mr. Bean esque book. Right?

John: A little bit a little not that slapstick yet.

Josh: The guy who just like, everything's going wrong for him.

John: Yeah, I mean, it's Halloween pictures from 25 years ago, you know, and there was a senator, I forget who it was. So few people this happened in real life, it was wearing blackface in his yearbook, like 30 years earlier and yeah, okay, I'm not gonna sit here and defend it one way or another. It was 30 years ago, when times were different and the kids probably out drinking, and that's his costume he doesn't. He's not thinking about who he's offending. I mean, cut the guy a break. But then 30 years later, now, he's a senator, and now you're racist because you had blackface 30 years ago, Yeah, uh, maybe it's not for me to say again, I'm not gonna pass judgment on that but the point is, is that this is 30 years ago, you know, and now you're offended. You weren't offended for 30 years, right until he became a senator and there was an issue that something came up that he voted on in Congress, but it's just ridiculous and something that you say to somebody 25 years ago now is offensive, in fact, just in the news today, just to date, when this show was record, I just read that the The Muppet Show, remember the old Muppet Show? they're putting it on Disney plus and it's coming with a warning label now that there are racial stereotypes and things in it, because some of the shows have, you know, a skinny people on it, or someone from the south, and they're out in the deep south, they got all the costumes so they're trying to avoid being branded as offensive, right? This was the Muppet Show. We you and I grew up on the show a long time ago. But so it's I saw it on Twitter today and I saw it on the news. It was actually on, I think, good morning America and have a piece on it this morning that people are trying to avoid a backlash from the Muppet Show from 25 30 years ago, because of some of the set design and some of the Muppet characters. I mean, it's ridiculous, but they have to do it.

Josh: Yeah. And then unfortunately, yeah. And I mean, we don't go into huge, like social issues here on the show but I think what this what I love about the book, and the idea it's bringing forward is that, especially for entrepreneurs, we get very hyper targeted for bigotry, racism, all these different things, right and so it's our job to say, Okay, how can I? How can I bring light to things without having to like, cross over those lines, right? I really like working with people who they're like, you know, this is what I believe, they're unapologetic about it but they're saying, they're not trying to force their beliefs on other people and they're the funniest people to work with as well, because they're so they're passionate but like, this is just what I believe, do what you want and I don't hate you one way or another.

John: Yeah, I'm just making a point. I'm not really making social commentary, I mean, to a degree, I'm saying, as I said before, that I believe we're an overly sensitive society, that's the extent of my, there's no agenda, there's no politics in the book at all. There's no politics at all, is I just want to shine the mirror up, shine a light on you and hold a mirror up to you and say, This is who we are, right and this is who we become and I think what makes it so funny is that you recognize the behavior, right? Just like the Muppet example, that would have put it in the book if it if I couldn't go back and rewrite it but this is the behavior where we have to take them up. It's from 20 years ago, and we now have to put a warning up on the screen, because I don't want somebody from another country to get offended, because there's a muppet dressed like an Egyptian, I mean, you know, come at this, that's where we are and so So, here we are, here's this book, where I say, let me just show you now everything that we do and it's a lot of fun. I mean, you'll sit down on your lap and then you know, there's no political conversation that goes on after it it's just you laugh, and you put it down and shrug your shoulders and move on to the next thing so a lot of fun I had a great time writing it. And I know people who read it will really enjoy it.

Josh: See, and I think if you're laughing out loud yourself, when you're writing it, you're probably gonna like this or they're just not going to get your humor all together and you're gonna

John: It's been well reviewed so far but I do know that humor is there certain sensibilities and some people may not get it, and the people that do will find it outrageous, I mean, I kind of liken my writing to like Dave Berry, just absurd, I mean, there's some silly situations and there, there's a little bit of juvenile humor, and Eric kind of dips into that a little bit here and there. It's just, it's what makes me laugh and I stopped worrying about that, I love my audience to love it. But I'm trying to write what what I enjoy because if I can't enjoy it, make myself laugh. My audience is never going to respond to it so that's kind of one thing I learned growing up and doing everything I've done is that You do what makes you happy and then that should shine through one of the reviews I got back on the book said that you could tell the writer is having a great time writing this book and that's like the best compliment I can receive so when you read it, you'll know that, hey, this guy's having a great time, I'm gonna have a great time as well reading it.

Josh: Yeah, I love that. Well, and I know it name is talk about us at the beginning, but but about going this direction, I'd like to kind of talk about how to incorporate humor into boring topics because I mean, as entrepreneurs, we struggle with that a lot, right and I think, so I'll give some context on this, we recently hired a guy who's going to build out our Instagram, if you know me, I really do not like Instagram, I'm not an Instagram guy. I'm not the picture taking guy, I'm not gonna go flash my cleavage so that I can get it get likes, right and he's been really, and he's actually kind of opening my mind to how we can grow without me having to be that way as I'm just kind of curious how you, you would say, okay, teach a business concept, which all of our listeners are teaching business concepts, right? If you're teaching a business concept, how do you incorporate humor into that?

John: Well, what I would say is that you just have to think of like Superbowl advertising. What are the most memorable Superbowl ads you've seen, they're the ones that make you laugh, right? The ones that are being talked about the most The next morning, the Doritos commercial, where the guy goes into the Time Machine thinks it's a time machine, right, he comes out and the kids been replaced by an old person. These are the ones that you remember so I think when you use humor to grow your business, you're branding yourself as, like one of the guys doing the air quotes here but you're one of the guys, you're like me, we're hanging around, we're having fun, we're shooting the breeze but people are gonna remember you more if you make them laugh, I mean, that's like a universal truth. If you make somebody feel good, they're going to like you, they're going to remember, any relationship is based on that. If you insult somebody and act like a jerk, you're not going to get very far. If you smile, and you engage them and you can make them laugh, they're always going to remember you, right? Who the most popular guys in high school made the girls laugh, I mean, my wife says one of the best things is I make her laugh, I mean, so again, to your point, it's just businesses can and should use humor and if you don't know how to do it, hire somebody who does because by branding yourself as someone who may be very serious about whatever business you're in, but also can look at the light side of things and not take everything so seriously my opinion is you're going to stand out amongst your your clientele that way.

Josh: Yeah, and I love that because I mean, you if you're not good at it, hire somebody else, right? That's just something we talked about all the time on the show but it's so funny, because when, when you're trying to write or do something with humor, right, I mean, in a commercial for example, I like the Liberty Mutual commercials for some reason, those just those just poke my fancy, right they're very funny to me, but my wife thinks that the dumbest thing on the planet, right but it's really interesting, because no matter where you're at on the spectrum of thinking, it's funny, it's memorable, it's so funny to watch. I mean, you watch a lot of these like videography tech companies yeah The Harmon brothers. What's his name? I can't remember his name off top my head anyways, they build these commercials as a way, it's completely built around humor but it's, it's really not even highly produced a lot of times, that's, that's crazy to me but it does it locks it into your brain.

John: Yeah, you don't need to do anything special. I mean, some of the successful YouTube channels even that you see, there's a dad, I think that just runs around with his phone and films, his kid playing with toy sharks, I think, I don't know if that's still one of the more popular YouTube channels, but they had millions of subscribers. All he did was sit at the dinner table with his phone and go right around and just pretend he was a shark and the phone back and forth and thing had millions of views. There is no production value at all, which makes someone like me upset because I put production value in anything I do, that's what takes a little longer to produce content. But you don't need you just need to make somebody laugh. That's really all it is. And I can't make it any more simple than that and so for me to write a book that makes people laugh, I just, you know, can sit home on a Saturday afternoon read this book and giggle and laugh and I feel like I've done my job if that if that's if it works that way. 

Josh: Yeah, I love that. Absolutely love that. Yeah. And it's it's funny to watch that there's so many people. I mean, I know it's like my dad for example. He's he's kind of an old timer entrepreneur had a construction company and a lot of traditional businesses and but he'll he'll watch these kids 14 years old, do these just stupid things and make hundreds of 1000s of dollars off of their videos. And it used to frustrate me too. But now just it's really intriguing to watch because like, what was the science behind this? Because a lot of them it was a one hit wonder right and then there's others of them who they they just goes and goes and goes one of my new favorites is this guy. He's he does. He has a YouTube channel about stigmas between a husband and wife. It's it's a really, really funny channel because he's talking very sarcastically in a sense, but it's his wife asked him to do something and he's like, I would absolutely Love to do that even though I want to be out with my friends playing poker, whatever, right? Funny, funny channel, but all of his videos are hitting and he's one of the few people I've seen who can really nail it with every single video and continually get good average, it's funny to watch the science behind it so okay, what did they do? It was it was nothing, it was all it was was relatable humor had nothing to do with being like super creative, it's those dumb stigmas we all know about, but he just documented it.

John: Yeah, it's just one niche. You need one niche to figure out then people know exactly who you are that's branding. And then people will be drawn to you. Like I mentioned, at the beginning of the conversation, I made this documentary about $2 bills, and I built a YouTube channel around it. Because people were interested, I had all this extra material, and I've grown that channel to over 20,000 subscribers problem is, it's some, I enjoy it. I love to dollar bills. But that's not really my niche, I kind of built it up because it's there and it's growing and I create new content for it and plus, you can only take it so far, many videos can you make about a $2 bill, I'm trying to branch it out to like more currency and there's a following on YouTube for people interested in currency, believe me, and I've tapped into it. But you know, it's hard to make those videos funny. It's, it's, I have to change the brand to do that so now I've got my other brand here as a humorist, and maybe I start my own personal channel and do more fun stuff in those lines but it is interesting that you just need to have one niche and if you can make people laugh at it, with it, at it with it. You can be very successful but you have to have that vein, like I said, if you don't know how to be funny, you got to hire somebody to get somebody to help you because either got it or you know,

Josh: yeah, I love that. I think the $2 bill space would be funny to go through and actually buy things with $2 bills and just record people's reactions to it.

John: that's what I was gonna do. That's why when I first started the documentary to go back, that's what I was going to do is like, well, what is this going to be, it's going to be running around with a hidden camera at 711. But then as I researched it and learn more about it and found then it was an incredible story about the $2 bill connects people, a woman's husband died in 911, the way they identified his bodies, they found his wallet with the $2 bill that they had shared it when they engaged, this is Touching interview I had to do and put up the film, people are crying during the movie and there's other sections where we have hidden cameras, and it's quirky and fun but what an experience that was to do that I kind of lost my train of thought so but the $2 bill is just it's an amazing thing and it took me to a place but now I'm in another place. Now I'm back to being the humor guy was when I was younger and writing stuff. That's funny.

Josh: Yeah, and I love that. I mean, honestly, what's so funny to me is most of us think that it's this big, complex thing but I would challenge all of our listeners that look at your messaging and say, How can I put humor into it? Nobody likes this the boring like you open those emails for people and you're like, this is ridiculous. I don't want to read through this, right? You just delete them. There's there's this guy, Ryan Deiss. If you know who he is big marketing guy, I love his emails, because every single one, it's funny. I don't even care if the content is but I read it because I just it gives me funny ideas that we could put into our emails but they're the ones I remember and weirdly enough, I've probably spent 10s of 1000s of dollars with him. Probably because of that, you know, I prefer to directly drag it to that.

John: Absolutely would say that's the reason it's because he makes you laugh. I mean, and even if you're not funny yourself, you appreciate people who are and you're always attracted to the person you're with, as I mentioned earlier, you The girls are going to be attracted to the guys that can make them laugh. And the business client is going to be attracted to the business person who is funny, even if his business isn't funny, if you have a fun personality. That's, that's authentic. So yeah, that would be something I encourage people to do is find a way to get humor into your marketing, or your product or anything, just have a few jokes handy. My dad was a lawyer, but he would be asked to speak on occasion, he had this book of funny one liners and before he prepped any speech, he would find three or four good zingers or lines and work them into what he was talking about that he wasn't giving a 15 minute boring speech, he was giving a 15 minute speech with a really good joke every five minutes. Yeah. So it's a way it's a way to be engaging to Yeah,

John: yeah. What I read this book a couple years ago for my MBA program, and it was about a talk like Ted Carmengail that's the guy who wrote in such a good book, but that was actually so what they do is they analyze 200 TED Talks, the 200 talk TED talks and said, What are the similar factors throughout these that make a good talk and humor was absolutely one of them. If you don't have humor, it doesn't it doesn't hit none of the interviews that work that have passed that hundreds of millions of views have been dry. All of them are hilarious, and they're shocking and hilarious, but it just pulls you in. So anyways, that's Yeah, that's intriguing. I love that.

John: This conversation is kind of crystallized that because I know we were talking before we went on air and it wasn't really we weren't talking about that as much. Here we are. Now that we started the show, and that's where we're going I think, because you and I both realize even more now that we're sharing these ideas and stories, that humor is where it's at. So that makes me happy that I wrote a humor novel. Maybe I should be branching my business out to write humorous speeches and commercials for people and there you go, like invents a new business right here on the air, Call me if you need something funny written, I can help you out. As I've done that, for my clients, I do videography for people and there's not a lot of humor in there. But I do have one legal client who used to hire me to do their annual seminar video and they made that funny, like a welcome video to all the people that came to their seminar and that was the best job I ever had because I was helping them come up with funny stuff to play off their personalities and just, it's just everything about humor is I think the summation here we're talking about, there's no downside to being funny or having humor and something that you're doing no downside at all.

Josh: Yeah, love it. Well, and let's just let's tie this up with a pretty little bow. First off, where can people connect with you? I mean, obviously, they've we've been talking about the book so first off, where can they get the book? And then how can they connect with you?

John: Yeah, so what you're saying is, I brand myself a couple of different ways, because I have a video production company. But that's not where you can find me, it's one place but as far as my book goes, I have my personal website with my full name, and it's, there's information about me and a couple, I've actually written a book about $2 bills, in addition to making the film so I have a second book out there as well. But that's where you can find me John, there's links to Instagram and Twitter and all those places there so that'd be that'd be the place to start. The book is a very, I think, to have the book here, for those of you that are able to watch this, and we're also being audio, but I'm holding it up here for the screen. It's called just a typo. It's available on Amazon and it's like I said, a great quick fun read that, it's gonna make you laugh, I guarantee.

Josh: So so you can send them a very hateful message and make him cancel if it doesn't make you laugh.

John: we're all one step away, right, I mean, if you have all these podcasts that you're doing, Josh, and if you make one mistake, or say something inappropriate, just takes one person to come out and criticize you and I mean, that's the world we're living, I don't even know how comedians get by because you can't say anything without offending people.

Josh: Yeah. And I think it's the ones who rock it because unfortunately, and or fortunately, is the haters are the ones that are they're your best branding, they yell about how dumb you are. But then the people who disagree with that opinion will love you and it's it's really intriguing, because people are trying to, to hide from that. It's like, just embrace your opinions. Doesn't matter. I mean, if Facebook kicks you off, I mean, if our podcasts got kicked off iTunes, I'd be really sad but that's just that's just the nature of what it is, right? I mean, you just move forward, do what you can, and you'll you'll grow a following. So

John:be who you are,

Josh: Be who you are. Love that. So I do want to ask you, John, one final question and I do want to caveat, I need to interrupt this for a second say everybody makes you go to I will put a link in the description for that as well but to finish this off, John, what is one final parting piece of guidance you could give to our audience as a way to finish this off?

John: I would say because I have another business that like I think I need to get into the whole story but I have a video production business because I love movies and film and I turn that into shooting things for people. I wrote the book that I wrote, because I felt like I was burning out a little bit on that. I mean, it was a nice way to find this surprise business as a youngster and start doing what I love, quote unquote but eventually, I wasn't in love with shooting corporate events all the time, I wasn't being creative. So a couple years ago, I said, You know, I need to get back to my roots and I wrote this humour novel. And it was a one of these the word cathartic thing for me because I really enjoyed it, I got back to who I was, as a child, I actually was listening to music from the 70s as a kid that I remember when I was 8, 9 10 years old, those songs brought me back to that place and reminded me who I was. And so the advice I would give is, if you're, you know, in a business, and you're making six figures, and you're doing really well, but something seems like it's not satisfying you figure out who you were as a kid, where were those dreams and where it was that excitement and if it was something creative, go do that. Don't worry about can I sell it because you know, I don't want to waste a year writing a book I can't sell do it for yourself, find the time if you're only interested in making money, and that's what you're doing. Keep doing it but I guarantee there's a lot of people in your audience, Josh, who are having a successful career but maybe not a successful life internally, find the thing that drives your passion and do that in addition to or instead of whatever you're doing.