On Top of PR

How good PR pitches make good stories w/ Inc Magazine's Jeff Haden

September 09, 2020 Jason Mudd Episode 4
On Top of PR
How good PR pitches make good stories w/ Inc Magazine's Jeff Haden
Chapters
On Top of PR
How good PR pitches make good stories w/ Inc Magazine's Jeff Haden
Sep 09, 2020 Episode 4
Jason Mudd

Learn how to pitch to the media with our guest Jeff Haden. He is a contributing editor for Inc. Magazine, which averages 2.5 million readers a month. He’s also a LinkedIn influencer, bestselling author, and keynote speaker.   

Guest:

Our episode guest is Jeff Haden, Inc. Magazine contributing editor, which averages 2.5 million readers a month. He’s also a LinkedIn influencer, bestselling author, and keynote speaker.

Topic: 

There is a right and wrong way to pitch to the media.

Five things you’ll learn from this episode:

  1. How should you pitch to reporters?
  2. Why should you build relationships with reporters?
  3. How can you build relationships with reporters?
  4. How can you pitch your company in a way that is helpful to audiences?
  5. Why should you vet the reporter before an interview? 

Quotables:

  • “One of my pet peeves of pitching is saying, ‘this would be very interesting to your readers,’ and then it has nothing to do with anything I’ve ever written before.” — @jeff_haden
  • “If I’m going to write about a company or an entrepreneur, I want them to have something actionable, useful, or helpful that people can benefit from.” — @jeff_haden
  • “If you help me, I don’t forget you.”— @jeff_haden
  • “It starts with a story, but the story has to be one that has value and merit.” — @jeff_haden
  • “For ghostwriting, I build your house, but I don’t get to live in it.” — @jeff_haden
  • “There is no job that doesn’t allow you to help people in some fashion.”— @jeff_haden 

If you enjoyed the episode, would you please leave us a review?

Contact info and resources:

 Additional Resources:

Presented by: ReviewMaxer, the platform for monitoring, improving, and promoting online customer reviews.

About your host Jason Mudd

On Top of PR host, Jason Mudd, is the CEO and managing partner of Axia Public Relations. He is a trusted adviser and dynamic strategist for some of America’s most admired brands. Since 1994, he's worked with American Airlines, Budweiser, Dave & Buster’s, H&R Block, Hilton, HP, Miller Lite, New York Life, Pizza Hut, Southern Comfort, and Verizon. He founded Axia in 2002.



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On Top of PR brought to you by ReviewMaxer

Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/OnTopofPR)

Show Notes Transcript

Learn how to pitch to the media with our guest Jeff Haden. He is a contributing editor for Inc. Magazine, which averages 2.5 million readers a month. He’s also a LinkedIn influencer, bestselling author, and keynote speaker.   

Guest:

Our episode guest is Jeff Haden, Inc. Magazine contributing editor, which averages 2.5 million readers a month. He’s also a LinkedIn influencer, bestselling author, and keynote speaker.

Topic: 

There is a right and wrong way to pitch to the media.

Five things you’ll learn from this episode:

  1. How should you pitch to reporters?
  2. Why should you build relationships with reporters?
  3. How can you build relationships with reporters?
  4. How can you pitch your company in a way that is helpful to audiences?
  5. Why should you vet the reporter before an interview? 

Quotables:

  • “One of my pet peeves of pitching is saying, ‘this would be very interesting to your readers,’ and then it has nothing to do with anything I’ve ever written before.” — @jeff_haden
  • “If I’m going to write about a company or an entrepreneur, I want them to have something actionable, useful, or helpful that people can benefit from.” — @jeff_haden
  • “If you help me, I don’t forget you.”— @jeff_haden
  • “It starts with a story, but the story has to be one that has value and merit.” — @jeff_haden
  • “For ghostwriting, I build your house, but I don’t get to live in it.” — @jeff_haden
  • “There is no job that doesn’t allow you to help people in some fashion.”— @jeff_haden 

If you enjoyed the episode, would you please leave us a review?

Contact info and resources:

 Additional Resources:

Presented by: ReviewMaxer, the platform for monitoring, improving, and promoting online customer reviews.

About your host Jason Mudd

On Top of PR host, Jason Mudd, is the CEO and managing partner of Axia Public Relations. He is a trusted adviser and dynamic strategist for some of America’s most admired brands. Since 1994, he's worked with American Airlines, Budweiser, Dave & Buster’s, H&R Block, Hilton, HP, Miller Lite, New York Life, Pizza Hut, Southern Comfort, and Verizon. He founded Axia in 2002.



ReviewMaxer
On Top of PR brought to you by ReviewMaxer

Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/OnTopofPR)

- [Announcer] Welcome to, ON TOP OF PR with Jason Mudd presented by REVIEWMAXER.

- All right, our guest today is Jeff Haden With Jeff Haden Enterprises. Jeff, is a well known for writing for Inc. Magazine as well as writing for many, many other publications and keeping very busy as an author, speaker and ghost writer for our listeners and viewers, Inc. Magazine, contributing editor. He averages 2.5 million readers per month. He's an influencer, bestselling author and keynote speaker, and someone I just love being connected to on LinkedIn because every article I see you write is always interesting and has very apical things I can bring back to either my own personal professional practice to my team or to my clients. And really appreciate all that you do and that you write about. Before we connected here, we have emailed media pitches and thoughts on different things that are going on. I know you have some strong feelings about how to pitch the media, and some of the experiences you have with people sending, you know, just inappropriate pitches. So why don't we just warm up with that, since I know that's something that you're passionate about. And then I love to just dive into how our listeners, our audience can do a better job of approaching you and other journalists with story ideas, Jeff.

- Sounds good, thanks for having me. And I wanna clear up one thing that you said. You called me an influencer and that is not a self title I get, that's not something I call myself. I'm a LinkedIn influencer, so I logged in into it. Basically it's the only time I'll ever be on a list with people like Mark Cuban and Richard Branson, so I'll take it. But I do not consider myself an influencer, that is a given title. As for pitches, that's interesting subject. First, to maybe to give a little bit of a background, like, I don't have a beat that I cover, I don't have a specific niche that I cover, so there are times that people will send me pitches saying, you know, "I saw you wrote about," I don't know, let's make something up, men's skincare, which clearly if you're looking at this on a video, you know, I know nothing about. So--

- Me neither.

- So I'll have someone say, you know, "I know you cover that, so here's another one." Well I don't cover that, I only write about things that I find interesting. And usually what I think is interesting is the people behind it, not the product itself

- Right, I get it.

- Because so few things are, you know, I hate the disruptive word because how many things truly are disruptive. So I don't really like the pitch of, "Here's another skincare," story for instance. And in fact, if I have written something about a skincare company, don't send me a pitch saying, "I saw you wrote about that, "so in effect, here's another one." 'Cause I'm probably good on that subject for the next year.

- Right, yeah.

- So that would be number one. Number two, if we're into my pet peeves would be very interesting for your readers, and then it has nothing to do with anything that I've ever written before, so please don't say that. And so I guess just to sum it up, Oh, and number three would be, I just read X that you wrote and thought it was great, here's something along those lines. Well, you probably didn't read very much of it. Not everything that I write is great, so don't say that. And then again, we're back to the whole... Okay, if I wrote about that then I don't wanna write about it again, right away. So for me, the best way to pitch me, and I get probably 50-75 something like that a week.

- Right.

- And I honestly, we should talk about this, make a little note to talk about whether or not I should be responding to these 'cause I am torn on how to respond and whether I should.

- Yeah.

- But if you really have to almost have a relationship first in some fashion, and I don't, it doesn't have to be deep. But instead of sending me this blind pitch where you forgot to copy and paste my name correctly because you're doing the same thing for 50 people, send me a little note and just say, you know, "Hey, here's the stuff I do." If I ever have anything you're interested in or here's something you might be interested in or here's something that might be useful to you. So try the networking approach as opposed to the pitching approach. And then if we become buddies, even in this kind of very superficial way, then we'll probably be buddies for a long time. I have PR people that send me stuff that I've worked with for years. And I've even gotten to the point where it may not perfectly fit what I would want to write about, but because I like the person, I can find a way to make it work. And I'm happy to find a way to make it work because we have a relationship and I know you and I'm glad to do so. But the blind thing just doesn't work, and the tried and true, you know, pretend that you were interested in something I wrote and you know, give me a compliment that seems sincere and all that stuff. It just doesn't, it doesn't work for me, and I don't think based on the people that I know that do the same thing I do, it doesn't work for them either.

- Right, right. Well, two thoughts come to mind. One is when people ask, send you a pitch that's not very good, maybe you can link to this video and say, "I did a whole interview "on what you're messing up on, check it out." You know, that's one option. The other thing I've started telling people recently, is every good story has characters in it, and so, you know, you didn't go see Star Wars because the Death Star was featured and they went around and talked about the specs of Death Star and it's technology and all that. No, in Star Wars, there were characters who had a problem, who had a challenge, who persevered through it and whether they were successful or not, the story is the characters in it, not the corporation, not Death Star incorporated, right?

- Right.

- And so how many, you know, and so I see my peers in PR, and occasionally I'll catch somebody at our agency, you know, where it's the company, this company, that company, that company that, and I'm like, there's gotta be humans here, There's has to be a story worth telling. So Jeff, you mentioned this earlier, you write about a broad range of topics, but they all seem to center around leadership, management, and other things. Are you kind of like... tell me how you, what your process is, You seem to be kind of a free agent who has a lot of autonomy because of your, you know, reputation and in your cloud and influencer status on LinkedIn.

- Well, I don't get assigned anything. I do get, I do get edited, but the editing is really just a cursory, let's make sure that I've forgot three typos that I missed because I tend to do so. so yeah, I do have a fair bit of freedom and that comes from, well, you know how that goes. If you are successful or if you do well at something, and those people tend to get a little bit more freedom. So I do tend to enjoy that, so that is really cool, but I like people stuff. And so if like, say you sent me a pitch and you said, "Hey, I've got this company I'm representing, "and I really would like you to write about them."

- Right

- I don't care about the company, like you said. And I kinda don't care about the product, but I am really interested in the people who developed it, the people who figured it out, the people who found a way to get it to market, the people who made a difference in their customers' lives, you know, they bask in the halo of what that person did. So for me, if I'm going to write about a company or an entrepreneur, I want them to have something actionable, useful, helpful that people can benefit from and using their own business or their own life or whatever it may be.

- Right.

- And if they do that, then your company and your product wins and you will create that branding that you are looking for because you actually helped someone, instead of just trying to find this catchy way to gain attention, you know. But that goes away, almost instantly. But if you help me, I don't forget you.

- Yeah, yeah. Well, I think so often people confuse, news content, with advertising content and they just, I mean, I feel like it's something that should just be taught in school, just to get it out of the way, right? 'Cause you know, we all understand the difference between, you know, writing a check and using a credit card, but I don't think people understand the differences between, you know, what you're doing for living and what they think someone else is doing for living. So, tell me kind of, give me some examples, if you don't mind, of, you know, great stories you've been able to tell and how you got connected to them.

- Wow, so this will probably be far afield for your audience, but hopefully they can bridge the gap. I really like stories of musicians because, you know, Inc. is an entrepreneur, focus magazine and every musician, every professional musician, is in the business of him or herself. So they are entrepreneurs. And so I really like those stories and I think it's fun for people who, you know, maybe you run a retail store or a restaurant or whatever. They kinda realize that, "Okay, we're all in this together and I bear, "I have similarities to those folks." So those were actually hard to get into the magazine and on the website at first because even the Inc. editors would say, you know, Kirk Hammett in Metallica, cool guy.

- Yeah,

- They sold a lot of albums, but how does this have anything to do with entrepreneurs? But then it turns out there is a lot there. So the music people would pitch me, but they would always do it in a sense of, "Here's a guy who started from nothing, "figured this, this, this, this is out, "Found a way to make a living, doing what he loves," which is what we are all hoping to do.

- Yeah.

- So that's a perfect angle for me, I like people who have had to overcome things in order to get somewhere, those are perfect angles for me. I really don't like the ramen noodle maxed-out credit card, you know, seven days a week living in my mom's basement stories because quite frankly, every entrepreneur feels like that happened to them. Whether it did or not, in their experience, it was incredibly hard, and so it was. And so those don't really work for me, but I'll write about pretty, you know, I've done actors, I like entertainers and things like that, but I do like the straight up tech stuff or retail or restaurant as long as there is something that comes with it that is meaty for the reader. I just don't wanna hear the, "Wow, this is really hard. "And then I got my breakthrough "and now my life is wonderful." Who benefits from that?

- Right.

- It's a neat story, but no one benefits from it.

- I would guess, unless of course, they've got and developed, you know, "Hey, these are the five things I figured out "you have to do to be successful in business," or whatever it might be.

- Yeah, like I talked to, I'm not gonna remember his name. Okay, so let's go with Eric Ripert. He's French, so I didn't pronounce his name correctly, but he runs Le Bernardin in New York city. It's a 3-star Michelin restaurant, you know, huge thing. So we had a great conversation about, I said, you know, if I'm aspiring restaurant tour, which millions of people at least were until recently. If I'm one of those folks, and I'm trying to think of my concept and he cut me off and we talked about concept for 30 minutes because he said, "everybody talks about restaurant concepts, "but there is no such thing. "It's food, and it's food, and it's food "and it's service." And you get those things right, and it doesn't matter what else you do. And on the flip side, if you don't get those right, I don't care what your concept is, I don't care what your branding is, I don't care what your message is, none of it matters. In an ongoing way around the barn in my very Southern way, but it reminds me of, I've been watching the Michael Jordan documentary the last day

- Yeah, yeah.

- And so Jordan is saying, you know, "I've got all this endorsement stuff, "but really none of it mattered "if I didn't perform on the court." And so for me, if I was going to sum up the question you just asked, it would be, bring an example of someone who performs on the court and can explain why they made it work and how they made it work. And then we have a story that we can tell.

- Right, yeah.

- But if you don't do that, then none of the rest matters, but I get a lot of pitches from people where I can tell that there is no real meat, but they're just using the tools of the trade to try to engage me and get me to write about it, but there's nothing there. And if you don't have anything there, then what am I supposed to do with that? So it really does start, I know this sounds cheesy and it's a cliche, but it does start with the story, but the story has to be one that has value and merit.

- Well, a perfect example would be, I took last week off, and we had a deal come in where a client needed to get a news out about something really quickly. And my team jumped on it, they did a nice job, but there were some people they just couldn't get through. And so first thing I, you know, come back to work Monday and they're like, "Hey, I need you to call these five people," right? I'm like, "What for? And they're like, 'cause you know them and whatever. And sure enough, I contacted the five people that I have relationships with and even though I said the same things or had the same content for them, they took pause and they listened a little closer because it was me, someone they knew and they liked, knew and trust and have worked with before. And, you know, they're like, okay, "I've done good things with Jason before, "let's see what he's got this time." And I just said, "Hey, it's about relationships, "it's about building clout, and ideally you would have gotten to know these people before you needed something from them. Just like any other relationship in life. So, you know, it's--

- I'm sorry, it's funny that you bring that up because one of the longterm relationships I have with a PR person, she pitched me and I don't know why I said yes because it was like this. It was like a computer repair place back when people still repaired their computers and I thought, what is, I thought about it, I thought, "Why did I say yes to that?" And so then she says, "Hey, can we do a quick call "just so I can talk to you about it?" And I was like, "Okay." I usually don't do those, but I thought, okay, because if I say yes, I already know what I'm going to do, so I don't need the introductory call, let's just go.

- Yeah, yeah, sure.

- But she calls and it turned out she was vetting me to figure out if I was going to be right for what her client was trying to do, and if I was going to write something that had value. And I thought, "Wow, nobody does that!" 'Cause they're just happy they got me.

- Right.

- No matter who I am, at the time I was not anyone worthy of being gotten, and even if I am now, I definitely wasn't then. And so, but I thought, well that's really cool because she cares about her client enough to make sure that she's putting that person into situations that are appropriate. And so that kinda warn me from then on because it's like, Okay, you're not just trying to fish with as many hooks as you can and reel in as many as you want, you want the right ones. And so people that pitch me where I can tell they think that I'm right for that and it will be a good match and then I will actually enjoy the conversation 'cause that's important, then that's a win.

- Yeah, that makes sense. Either that or she did some great Jedi mind tricks on you, but yeah.

- It could be that. But even there, I have respect for that too.

- Yeah, yeah, its kind of a--

- You know what, it doesn't matter.

- The reverse psychology of who's in control, but I would ultimately say yes, you know, looking out for the best interest of your client, whether that is, you know, the CEO of your company or you're at an agency and it's your client themselves, but yeah, I think it's too tactical of, "Let's get as much coverage about this as possible." versus looking at it saying, "I have this much opportunity to give my CEO "or thought leader access to the media, "what I wanna go and cherry pick "where I'm gonna spend his or her time as I do that." So for sure.

- It's funny, I'll tell you a silly story, but sometimes I try to connect with people just 'cause I think it would be fun to talk to them and meet them. And of course I write about them and I do things for it, but there's part of it is that I'm interested in. So Dave Grohl, from the Foo Fighters and was in Nirvana. He's my white whale. I have yet to land an interview with Dave Grohl and I think he's perfect for what I would want to do. And I've talked to his PR person a number of times and we get along great but I've never managed, and I'm the one pitching now., I've never managed to put something in front of them that you know, goes, "Hey, that's cool" But his guy does exactly what you just talked about. It's like, okay, this is coming out, Dave's only going to do a certain number of things, let's make sure we find the right ones and let's make sure we find new things for him to do.

- Right.

- So that he doesn't feel like he's just Groundhog Daying

- Yeah.

- And can kinda cruise along, and so I've been unsuccessful in finding, whatever that new thing is that would make them say yes, but that is the best he's filtering and he should. And I think that's why that works.

- I think you should too. It's interesting 'cause there's always this challenge, right? Of you have the client who needs more visibility to gain credibility, but they're like, "Oh, I don't wanna do small interviews, "I only wanna do big interviews." And it's like, well, you got to earn the right to do the big interviews too, right? And so it's kind of like, you know, the writer, I'm watching that series on HBO about the Newsroom, right? And it's the new one, not the old one. And the idea is, you know, certainly you just don't work in a small town in television and suddenly get your own show. So you kinda gotta pay your dues a little bit, and some entrepreneurs don't understand that, right? They want it all and they don't understand why, you know, I had, a client company recent, I was talking to them, they're like, "We wanna be in the wall street journal "as soon as possible." I said, "Great, tell me about your billion dollar company." And they're like, "Well, we're a startup." And I'm like, "Okay, great," You know. So I had to explain to them, you know, once you look at the wall street journal for a couple of weeks and count on one hand how many stories are about a complete startup, right? Who either doesn't have ties to billion dollar companies or a billion dollar market cap or something like that, you know, or a potential for a billion dollar market cap.

- Well, that's, it's interesting that people don't think about it this way, but I had to take the same approach as I built my profile in what I do. So early on, I wanted to talk to Richard Branson or Mark Cuban, or people like that. I'm not getting anywhere close. So I was talking to the guys that created cat litter out of coconut husks and stuff like that. That was the people that I could get. And so what I thought was, "Okay, well I've got to work my way up," so if I do a awesome job on the cat litter guys, and then that might lead me to something, which it did. And if I do well at that and if I keep building and I have things to send people that are one notch up the ladder that I'm trying to climb to say, "Here's the kind of thing I do, "here's what I would like to do with you guys." And I can build and then suddenly I am in the room with Branson, Cuban and those kinds of folks, but I had to build to get there and it was a slow build, but you earn your way into that, you don't gain your way in and you don't figure out the clever hack or whatever. You've got to build the body of work that gets you there and I'm sure the same thing in reverse on your side.

- Yup.

- You only get there by having done good work along the way to build your way up.

- Yup, yup. Speaking of Phyllis in on your career path, Jeff, where did you start? How did you know you wanted to do what you're doing now, other than maybe playing in a band and needing to pay the bills?

- I worked for R.R. Donnelley, which at the time, were the world's largest commercial printers. And I started at the very bottom, so I was the college boy on the shop floor, which made me have to work harder than most people because they assumed that I wouldn't. But my goal was to run a plant. And so I worked my way up through a variety of jobs and it was all great in terms of experience and everything and ran a plant.

- Yeah.

- Got there in about three years into it thought, "Oh, this was my dream, "but I don't wanna do this anymore." And so, I would say that I was talking about it. My wife would say that I was whining about the fact that I didn't like my job anymore. And so she said, "What would you like to do? " I said, I don't know why, but I just said, you know, "It probably be fun to write," but I didn't have a journalism background, I don't have any of that kind of background, I'd never written anything other than stuff for work. And so I talked about that for like six months now, I would like to write, but I wasn't doing anything. So one day she came home and she said, I got you your first gig, I met a guy, he's got a start up and he needs a press release. And that's it, I don't know how to write a press. And so she said, "Well, you got the job so you better do it, "figure it out." And I was still working by the way. And so it took me about five hours to write this one page, press release, worst pay per hour of any job I've ever done in my life. But I figured it out and he liked it and he asked me to do a couple other things. And then she got me on ELance, I think it's now called UpWork. But it was one of those marketplace type things where freelancers and companies connect. And I started doing stuff there and I would work nights and weekends and got a little better at ghost writing and figuring it out. And one day said, "Okay, I can't make as much money as I am making, "but I can make some." And my wife said, you know, "Do it for a year "and if you get to the other end of it "and you're not doing very well, "you can always go back and work for somebody "but give it a try." And so, you know, 12 hour days and seven days a week and you know, 'cause in my head I needed to replace my income.

- Right.

- Which is hard to do when you start over.

- Absolutely.

- But that's kind of how I did that and then one day she said, you know, ghost writing is a little like fight club, first rule of ghost writing is, you can't talk about who you go straight for. And so it does make it hard to market yourself. And she said, you know, you need some stuff in your own name, and I said, "Nobody wants to read anything by me." Even though I had ghost written bestselling books, they weren't by me, you know, they were by someone else. And so I pitched four or five sites and I ended up on CBS MoneyWatch, at the time. It was actually called BNET, but then it became MoneyWatch and wrote for them for a little while, did really well, figured out how to get page views and build an audience. The editor there went to Inc. said, "Do you wanna come with me?" I said, "Yes." I started writing for Inc. And so still goes to write, still do a lot of speaking and all. But all of that came from me actually, it all came from my wife coming home and saying, "Here's your press release, right?

- Yeah, right, nice.

- And go get it. And then, you know, like anything else, you have to figure it out, you know, I for ghost writing, I'll write your book. You know, I build your house but I don't get to live in it. And that's okay. And you need to be happy with what I built.

- Yeah, yeah, for sure.

- So that was a long winded answer, but--

- No, it was a good one. Thank you, thank you. You know, it's very true. I mean, as we talked about earlier, you have to have something that's of interest and that adds value. So anytime, and I've actually got it right over here, a little checklist I keep at my desk and it says, "Is this helpful to the audience?" Does this help the audience get better or does it help the audience with their job? And if the answer is not yes, then we're not doing something right, you know? And so I think ultimately, as we're doing this video recording, the whole point of this is to help our audience to have a better day or make them more successful in their job, right? And so, kinda just circling back to that, what are you working on right now that's got you excited, Jeff?

- Let me take a step back. Everybody talks about work life balance and it is as if there is work and then there is life, and two don't meet. And I've tried real hard and it's taken a long time to blend or to get to a point where the work stuff blends with personal. So I'll write about, you know, I like writing about fitness, for instance. And so I'll do fitness things because I'm interested in that, that I can then write about and that lend themselves to me professionally. I like motor sports, so I tend to write about motor sports stuff because it gets me behind the scenes and I get to meet some of the people involved. I like music, so I do the same thing. So what I like is the ability to take a personal interest and find a way to bring that or weave that into the work stuff.

- Right.

- So then they both win.

- Right, sure.

- And I think what's funny is that--

- Self directed career.

- Well, but a lot of people that, like back when I worked for a company and I was a manager and then a plant manager, you know, if I think about it back then, I really did think there was a separation between work and life. But even in a job like that, it is possible to blend them because let's say you like helping people, well, there is no job that doesn't allow you to help people in some fashion, and so if you think about it that way and you go to work and say, "Okay, I like having new people "and so I'm going to mentor those two folks "because they really need it." Or, "I'm going to do this extra thing for a customer "because I can tell that would matter" Or whatever it may be. If you think about it that way, suddenly your work carries a little bit more meaning because it has that personal connection to you and you have managed to blend those things. So I can't think of a job that doesn't allow at least a little bit of latitude for you to express something personal and to incorporate that.

- Sure.

- And then it's more fun, and then you will probably perform better too because you're doing things that have meaning to you, and it's not just a job, it's a little bit more.

- Jeff, help our listeners understand, how did you make it big on LinkedIn? I mean, clearly you have a following, they've designated you as an influencer. I see your posts every day when I log in. Clearly you didn't start from that point, so what did you do to make yourself stand out on LinkedIn? Like most things in my life where I've succeeded, there was a big dose of luck involved. So to take you back early on, LinkedIn had LinkedIn today, which was where they aggregated stories from other sites and they would do so, there was a little bit of editorial manual tweaking, but for the most part it was an algorithm that looked at velocity of shares among users. And if a lot of users were sharing something within a unit time, then they would pop it onto a category page or would go into the homepage. And if you got on the homepage, you were guaranteed 500,000 to a million views of that article, then it would just snowball. And so I was writing for Inc. and a lot of my stuff for whatever reason, was ending up on category pages and on the home pages. And so when they started the influencer program, which was their way of allowing a finite number of people to actually publish content directly to LinkedIn, now everybody can do it, but at the time it was only influencers.

- Yeah.

- They reeled in a whole bunch of big names. And that was to my advantage as well because they realized, or they've sent me a note and said, "Hey, we'd like you to be part of this "because we can tell, you know, "how to write to our audience." And that was awesome. The big names weren't that interested in publishing very often 'cause they were big names and they had other things to do. I was more than happy to publish fairly often because this was a wonderful opportunity for me on a variety of levels.

- Right.

- And so, that snowballed from there and so I picked up a million followers or so just because I got lucky to be in the door early, and then I got lucky that not a whole lot of people were trying to stay in that room all the time. and I was more than happy to be--

- You're faithful, yeah.

- Yeah. Now, it has changed. The power of that has changed significantly since those days because when it opened up and when lots of people started to be able to write for, or basically everyone, LinkedIn tried really hard to be a lot more inclusive with how they promoted stories and how they got things out to people and they didn't want to seem like they were favoring the influencers, even though I still do get an advantage of sorts. But it's not nearly as as big of a thing as it used to be. But I'm still tickled.

- Yeah, yeah.

- I'm still tickled that I get to do so.

- Well, it sounds like your wife is a great agent, so I'm sure that she's worked that to your benefit.

- Yeah, I've married extremely well. Let's just put it with that she's really smart and really ambitious. And the only downside to that is that, you know, I walk around the house and I think, all right, if I ever feel really good about things I've accomplished, then I'll look at her and thank God, she's done twice that already. You know, just today. So it's a high bar to set, but it's our high bar to reach, but it's okay.

- Well good for you, hopefully you'll play that for her soon and she'll be able to hear that part of the interview where you're giving her--

- Oh, I tell her all the time. There's some, I forget the research study, I could find it, but basically there's some study that shows that if you marry, you don't have to marry someone necessarily smarter or all these other qualities, but if you marry someone that is conscientious, meaning, you know, does what they're supposed to do and stays after things and you know, attention to detail and things like that. That like your earnings over your lifetime are about 30% higher, you tend to go a couple levels higher on an org chart and stuff just because you're watching that other person and you start to pick up some of those behaviors. And that has definitely been the case for me.

- Nice, so you're a LinkedIn influencer, but she's an influencer on your career?

- Yeah, Oh, yeah.

- There we go, I love it, I love it.

- Anything that I've, how do I say this? And I think this probably, your audience can relate to this. The imposter syndrome thing, is a very real factor. And so you can say, "Oh yeah, you're an influencer." And in my hand I'm thinking, yeah, but I locked into that and you know, I've got 15 qualifiers to go with that and always do. And so whenever, like, when an agent asked me if she said, you know, "You really ought to do a book, "you've got a big audience, you really should do a book." My first thought was, "Nobody wants to read my book."

- Right.

- And so, my wife actually pushed me and said, "Look at this, you've got X, Y, Z, whatever, "why not you?" So, you know, her big line usually is, "why not you?" And that is something that I try to remind myself of, and I'm sure your audience probably struggles with, should I try to do something, well, why not you? It shouldn't be, why me? Not the Nancy Kerrigan, Why me, thing, It should be, "Why not you?"

- Right.

- Because, why not?

- Yeah, absolutely.

- And that's if I could, if there's one lesson that I've learned from talking to you, and I'm lucky that I've gotten to talk to a ton of incredibly successful people.

- Oh, absolutely, for sure.

- If there's one lesson that I can take from all of that is that, they're not necessarily smarter or more talented or more connected. Some of them are wealthier now, or more educated. They all just worked really hard at something that they wanted to do well and they stuck with it. And so they are incredibly successful in a slice, but they're not, you know, superhuman. And so anyone, if you pick something that you really want to do and you work hard at it and you persevere, you can get to some really great places.

- Yeah, I think it's also identifying what are your strengths and realizing what's not your strength and having people come alongside you to support you in that effort or, you know, whatever it might be. And you know, imposter syndrome can empower people as well, like realizing, "Hey, this is my shot, I better not blow it." Anything that, you're working on that I can be helpful to you with?

- No, I am good to go, I enjoy talking to you and would be happy to do it again, sometime.

- Yeah, I would love to have you back sometime and would love to stay in touch with you and just keep doing what you're doing 'cause literally every day I check my LinkedIn feed, there's something from you on there. You must write an article every day, is my perception

- Pretty much.

- Yeah, yeah, that's great. Well, good, Jeff, thanks for being here. We really enjoyed it, it was my pleasure to have you. I was glad you were here and if there's anything that I do for you, let me know.

- Thanks.

- [Announcer] This has been ON TOP OF PR with Jason Mudd, presented by REVIEWMAXER