Our guest today: Michael F. Schein
Michael F. Schein is the founder and president of MicroFame Media, a marketing agency that specializes in making idea-based companies famous in their fields. Some of his clients have included eBay, Magento, LinkedIn, and Citrix. His writing has appeared in Fortune, Forbes, Inc., Psychology Today, and Huffington Post, and he is a speaker for international audiences spanning from the northeastern United States to the southeastern coast of China. His book The Hype Handbook: 12 Indispensable Success Secrets From the World’s Greatest Propagandists, Self-Promoters, Cult Leaders, Mischief Makers, and Boundary Breakers, published by McGraw Hill, appears everywhere books are sold on January 12, 2021.
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Feisworld podcast helps independent creators live their creative and financial freedom. I’m your host, Fei Wu, and I’ll be taking you through a series of interviews with creators from around the world who are living life on their own terms. Each episode is packed with tactics, nuggets you can implement origin stories to make listening productive and enjoyable. We’re not only focused on the more aspirational stories, but relatable ones as well. We also have none interview based miniseries releasing throughout the year to help Deep dove into topics such as freelancing, marketing, even indie filmmaking that would benefit creators like you.
Show notes, lengths and ways to connect with the guests are available on Feisworld.com. Now onto the show. Hi there, this is Fei Wu from Feisworld Media, I got some exciting news to share with you because not too long ago I decided to revamp my newsletters and here’s why. If you guys go visit Feisworld.com for such newsletter, you’re going to you can, first of all, subscribe and you get everything that I’m about to share with you.
And I want to make this announcement because many of us creative entrepreneurs just don’t remember to announce some of the things that we’re working on because we’re always so busy and we’re always just going after the next thing and the next day. And I want to take a pause because I realize there’s a moment in my creative journey that I wanted to share more about what I do, how I got from point A to B to C to D. and show you guys that, you know, sort of leaving the crumbs on the floor or leaving all the Eminem’s for you to pick up, enjoy, I don’t know, spits out or not enjoy some of them.
But I want to show you the entire journey. Not everything is rainbows and unicorns, I usually say. And there are a lot of hardships. There are a lot of moments. I thought, there’s no way I can pull this one through, especially when it comes to my documentary on Amazon. I couldn’t believe that we’re able to launch it there and, you know, before that to be able to finish it. So there has been just a lot of reflection in general.
And I’ve never really taken a time before this moment to compile that and to share really authentically and try to be a teacher, share my journey and please consider that again. Feisworld.com for newsletter. I am super proud of it. They are. I’ll talk about my multiple streams of income, especially during covid. That just meant so much to me. And every little bit counts. And I want to show you guys the progression of how I got to where I am today.
And so without further ado, well, today we have a special guest. His name is Michael Schein, S-c-h-e-i-n. And Michael and I are actually meeting for the first time on the Zoom call, believe it or not. But we have been connected to mutual funds for many, many years, including Michael Roderick. I’ve interviewed Michael Roderick a couple of times here on Facebook. The absolutely love that conversation. And another mutual friend of ours is called Helena Escalante.
Avelina is a brilliant, creative entrepreneur herself. She writes incredibly well. And these multiple languages, Spanish being one of them in English, and she organized these incredible events, stuff going on, other highly recognized influencers and teachers. But here we are. I am finally sitting down with Michael Shine for the first time. And on this episode we talk about his new book and as well as his company called Micro Famous, there’s something about the name of the company I just love.
So if you’re not used to a word, doesn’t don’t understand what micro famous is, it’s basically being in your niche and being known for the niche you’re in. So we call it micro famous. I also have been using micro influencer as a noun sometimes to describe myself because someone else brought it up. I thought it was super cool. You know, I have a small audience, but it’s a very small, yet viable audience for me to test out ideas, for me to make money, for me to grow as an entrepreneur and make a really breaks it down so that the to me, that’s very, very exciting for some somebody to kind of just open up the black box of how a business is run, how he’s able to get to where he is and his journey and his prior career as a writer and how he wants to now kind of tap into it a little bit more as well, and how he’s able to help other people achieve their micro famous and do what they want to do.
That just fascinating. So I always tell these people that I want to I want to be used as guinea pig. They can coach me on call and do whatever is needed for ask me questions, share stories. So thank you so much for sharing this moment, this very special moment to Michael and me. And I really hope you enjoy this episode. If you do, please leave a comment and let us know I’m ADFIS World everywhere, including YouTube, Instagram.
Lets see. You can find me on LinkedIn. I hope you’ll find me and connect with me. So without further ado, please welcome Michael Sheen to the Face World podcast. And I’m here with Michael F. Shine, who I have known for years, through Michael Roderic, through Helena Escalante, but this is finally years later, we’re connecting. Thank you so much for joining me, Michael. I’m so glad you’re here.
Thank you. I’m so excited to be here. As I told you before, I have been a fan of your show. And also the two people you named are two of the greatest people on Earth. And I don’t I really don’t say that about everyone. I really, really think those are two of the best people in the world. So it’s very cool that those were our connection. Yeah.
Wow. Yeah. Yeah. I got to second can you on that because I interviewed both of them on my podcast and Michael Roderic join me live as well. And we’re literally as we’re going live and speaking, which if you guys have any questions, please drop them wherever you are on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook. And even if Michael and I are unable to address them live, we always will come back and answer those questions for you. So please don’t be shy.
I’ve given Michael full permission to use me as a guinea pig and really dove into all the things I may be doing wrong or ineffectively. So let this really be fun. All right. So, you know, this topic that we gather today is around a brand that Michael created called Micro Fame. And I fell in love with the name immediately. I got to admit, Helena and I just got into and that was our conversation for brunch for like three hours in New York, because it makes so much sense.
So, Michael, could you please tell us a bit about micro fame, what it means to you, why you created such a thing?
Yeah, I mean, we can talk about this for about four shows, so I’m trying to think of where to start. I mean, I think the general concept is that in the past, if you needed to make a splash for whatever reason, if you were in business or if you were in the arts or whatever, it was really challenging to, there were only a few people who could really, quote unquote, make it because you had to become famous.
Right. So, I mean, on one hand, if you had a business in town and you ran a coffee shop or a print shop or a graphic designer, then you were in a pretty good situation because everything was geographical, right? You walk down the street or drove down the street and went to the local coffee shop. But if you were doing something more ambitious, like like an idea based business, like some kind of big what they call thought leadership now, which is a term I don’t love, but some sort of consulting or selling your ideas or something in the arts, you know, writing books or or music or whatever, something something like that.
There weren’t really many channels to become known. So you had to get famous. I mean, you had to get on on the news. You had to get on network TV. You had to get a little bit later. And Clear Channel’s radio station, there were 40 songs on every format and that was owned by one company. So that was challenging. And the Internet really changed that. So in the age of the Internet, all you can really get lost because there’s so much stuff out there.
At the same time, there are all these little niches. So there are people who are really famous to me. I’m more or less in the world of marketing and there are names like Gary Vaynerchuk and Seth Godin and Ryan Holliday, who, if I and I have done this, if I ask my mother, if I ask my friend Caleigh, who’s a scientist, a clinical scientist, I don’t know who those people are. Right. Or, for example, I have a 10 year old daughter.
And when I was 10 years old, as most 10 year old boys work, I’m forty three years old. I was into certain kinds of movies. So I and everyone I knew knew who Harrison Ford was. Everybody knew who I was before. Everyone knew who Robin Williams was. My daughter doesn’t really know movie stars. You know, she really doesn’t know the big movie stars, but she really, really wants to go to England to meet with the shadow lady who is a Minecraft YouTube her who in the world of Minecraft is a big star.
And I don’t think most people outside of that know who she is, which is millions and millions of you. So the trick today for certain kinds of industries is that if you want to be successful, the good news is you don’t have to become famous. The other news, though, and it’s either bad news or it’s an opportunity, is that you need to find what that niche is. You need to find a very compelling point of view that attracts attention.
And then you need to just blitz that niche in the way that it looks like you’re everywhere at once. So. So that’s that’s the microphone.
Yeah. I love what you’re touching upon, the things that I am doing and focusing on not necessarily to say I’m an expert in. For example, when you say being everywhere all at one’s life streaming services these days, multi streaming or simulcasting services give you that ability, which I found myself in that niche somehow starting in May this year, the moment like I went live everywhere with these interviews, right from Zoom, which is simply on Zoom. I’m not even branding my background or anything.
People are asking me, oh, what’s this like? Why are you live on Twitter, YouTube and Facebook everywhere? How can you teach me how to do that? Can you help me build a business around that? So it really welcomed a lot of new conversations. And you mentioned YouTube as well. I started my YouTube channel last September and now it has become a significant revenue stream for me. I had never imagined, which is a combination of YouTube ads, partnerships, sponsorships and ads consists of nearly 40 percent of my monthly revenue.
I that’s amazing. Yeah, I couldn’t I couldn’t believe it. So, I mean, let’s dove in deep. So it’s like actually the what’s super exciting about this idea is that I think you in a way that you’re able to break this down and help people realize that they don’t have to be even that famous. Or Seth Godin, who’s like two hundred pound book, the Red Book over there, is talking about also the the minimal viable audience, as opposed to MVP, the minimal, minimal viable product and people.
A little bit confused in terms of what what that means is, is that not everybody will like your product or services or even you as a person, and that’s OK because you don’t need that many people to be successful. So, Mike, I would love to hear your take on that to help, you know, how you kind of process that.
I think he’s right and and Seth Godin obviously was a pioneer in that idea in general, this idea, I’ve seen him on stage many times talking about how you really just need enough people to be into your stuff today. And he spoke about that very early. I think I want to add a caveat, which a lot of people in this or in addition, I should say so you talked a lot about and this is where I might sound like I’m pushing back a little and using you as a guinea pig, but you’ve done a very good job at this.
But I think you’ve missed something that you do. On one hand, you got to pick the right platforms, right, but but so am I going to do live streaming? Am I going to do YouTube? Am I going to do this? But those are all just the tools in your quiver. You’ve used them very well. But I can’t tell you how many people I hear who say they buy into this idea. They say, yeah, I need a minimum viable audience, I’m going to become an influencer, a YouTube guru, whatever.
And they just sort of create a lot of content and they work really hard and they can’t figure out why they’re not making a splash. And I think the missing piece is that just picking the right platforms and just getting your ideas out there simply isn’t enough. You know, there’s an element of human psychology and sociology. So the first thing is the bad part about the Internet is that anyone can make stuff now. So you’re competing with the world. So if you have a niche, first of all, you have to say to yourself, OK, what is it that I can say where I’m adding to the conversation that’s already happening, but that’s contrarian enough that stands aside.
And then what I call this hype is what are those ways that I can. I don’t want to say take advantage because it doesn’t have to be deceptive, but how can I really play with the way people really? Digest the information and are attracted to things, so I’ll give you an example, so everyone’s talking today about there’s this woman, Candice Owens, who is a ultraconservative, like media personality blogger, whatever. And she so Harry Styles, who is in One Direction, the boy band, just appeared in some magazine in a dress.
And he was talking about how he you know, I don’t know what was the right play with clothing. And she posted the thing that says I need we need more manly men wearing a dress, blah, blah, blah, is terrible. And then this guy, Ben Shapiro, who also is a media guru in the conservative space and know posted, oh, there are is a difference between men and women wearing fufu dresses. Now, I and everyone else who are not as conservative get worked up into a frenzy.
Oh, are you trans phobic? And you know this and that. And then you take a deep breath and you think about it. These people are so smart if you think they really care that men are wearing dresses, I mean, men have been wearing dresses. First of all, Candace owns wear pants, which used to be considered masculine. Second of all, Kurt Cobain and David Bowie wore dresses. It’s ridiculous. This is a 50 year old argument, but they know that it’s a contrarian point of view.
They know that if they say that exactly what happened, it’s going to happen because people love to form tribes. People love to take a side. And I found myself falling for it. Oh, you know, David Bowie or address. So what are you talking about? And then I think to myself, that’s exactly what they want. So the point is there are people who just get their ideas out there, but there are people on every side of the spectrum, at every point of view who are just so savvy in hyping themselves up.
And you need that. You just do. I mean that it doesn’t work without that.
And it’s such an interesting example that you pointed out, and I see people do there’s a lot on LinkedIn these days out of all places. And to basically throw an argument out, very especially very controversial topics people love, like making you pick a side, making every argument very black and white. And, you know, sometimes, to be honest, like I’ll use myself in the example, I really struggle with that because I you know, it’s I always trying to spend the first and the first 20 years of our lives trying to blend in.
And there is some lingering effect to say, I don’t want to stand out, I want to be neutral point. And then all of a sudden we realize in order to go viral, for good or for bad, you have to be kind of controversial. You have to have enough people to agree with you, enough people to disagree with you. And I remember Seth Cohen said a book will rise up to The New York Times. What our number one seller, which doesn’t agree with in general, but is about having the people who buy books buy the book and people who never buy the book will also buy the book.
That’s how you become that number one. So interesting before you set that I actually haven’t thought about in a long time.
And I think it’s funny because a lot of times I think what sets apart the people who are really good at becoming micro famous and even famous in general versus the ones who struggle, is that the ones who struggle? They think too much about the way the world ought to be, like a lot of people say, well, if yeah, you know, being picking fights and getting people to take sides, that might be useful. But it’s not how I want to operate in the world, blah, blah, blah.
And and then the other people say to themselves, well, this is just how humans are. And I have to think of a way to do it ethically. So to tell you how much that’s the case, they’ve done studies that there was an archeologist who found this little niche on the somewhere in South Noindex like an alcove in South Africa where they’re pretty sure that there was this mass extinction event in Homo sapiens almost died out. And there were these few little tribes that went to this area and found shellfish.
And so they didn’t have to hunt and they didn’t have to look for food in the areas where everything had dried out. It was a climate change event, however, because the food was so easy to get, the only thing that was stopping them was other tribes. So over time, the members of our species that survived were the ones they formed very tight bonds and cooperated with their own tribe and had a lot of antagonism toward the other tribes. And now we as humanity spread back out across the globe, we all have that.
So it doesn’t have to be that you’re a jerk and you insult people or troll people. But everybody has this tribal mentality. I’m a Democrat. I’m a Republican. I’m I’m I’m a capitalist. I’m a bear. Some of that we all have these strong beliefs. And the only thing that’s ever going to unite humanity is when aliens attack. You know what I mean? We’re just very it just that that that antagonistic state. We all we all do it.
Even the even the most kind of happy go lucky people. I mean, so that’s just what it is.
I mean, as well as Game of Thrones is like a lot of these were why no one TV series phenomenon a really based on and through the Lightworkers from the show. But right beyond the Lightworkers, you’re right. All of that game playing and just being honest about human nature, right?
Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And so the one area I think I kind of totally distracted you for a second, but you’re getting into something really juicy there, which is we talk a lot about passive income, scalable income, but nothing is quite passive. And I to know a lot of people, even people trying to sign up to work with me, especially during covid, are people who asked me if I see that you’ve had some initial success on YouTube.
That’s exactly what I want to do. And I want to create content. And I love love content creators and and they say how I need to begin monetizing right away so I can pay for your service and all that, but it’s completely backward. And we all know that because, you know, there’s so much work and effort and quote unquote, risks and exploration that happens before you can even see the first penny. I mean, literally the first penny, not even like two dollars.
That’s very true. Usually you’re losing money in the beginning or at least burning through your savings.
Yeah, exactly. How. And yet, for me, I will say that I am so addicted to content creation. It gives me so much joy to be able to connect even with just one person. Only if you guys are watching those. You’re the one person that makes me happy and I cannot stop myself from, you know, to say, oh, it’s not worth it. I need a minimal viable audience. I just have to do this.
I think as a result, somehow that propel me forward to say, all right, that’s fine. I’m happy to collect my thoughts years later on. But how do you Michael, how do you coach your clients, work with your people to say, look, dude, this is a really terrible idea versus while you’re on to something like how do people know that they’re making progress? That’s a very common question.
Yeah, I think there’s two different questions there, but I think they’re connected. I mean, I think that what I always try to tell people, especially if they’re thinking about working with our agency and work on my grapheme media. So it’s there are a lot of types of marketing. That we don’t do I mean, we are specifically involved at finding a niche coming up with that point of view and then figuring out which activities turn them into the authority and their niche.
And the reason I bring that up is because if someone comes to me with an idea for content, not so much the product, but content that they’re just sure is the right answer, I just don’t know. Or even worse, if they say I really want to hit it big on Instagram and get a lot of followers, I’ll say to them, you’re telling me that you you’re really into hammers and you’re really into screwdrivers, but you don’t think nails are that great.
How do you know those are tools? That’s like saying I’m really into TV. So when you say I love creating content, that’s true. I love writing. However, writing what? Romance novels, business articles, poems. I mean, epic poems for lyrical verse, computer code. I mean, so so these are tools. So it comes down to experimentation. First of all, it comes down to knowing how human beings work. They’re just principles of how humans interact in groups.
And you need to understand that. So you’re not doing things totally randomly. But after that you have to conduct experiments minimum viable, I don’t know, minimum viable. But go out into the world instead of saying I’m going to invest a hundred thousand dollars in Facebook ads and I just know it’s going to work, why don’t you instead create three Facebook ads and spend one hundred dollars and focus more on what’s that idea that might work and make all three of them totally different?
So so let let the solutions tell you what’s good. I mean, I don’t know, I what what do I know. I’m just a guy.
Yeah. Well what makes it. That’s interesting. What makes someone appear. Someone we’re a company or individual to be a good client for you. How do we evaluate them to say, you know what, they’ve done enough work, enough experimentation for for us to really collaborate and work together?
Yeah, I think the experimentation is what we’re good at. I think, first of all, I’ll run into a lot of clients who have been successful in one area. And they think they have another idea, so they’ll be successful and have made money in this very brak brass tax area, and then they have this really big idea and they want me to make it get attention no matter what. And when I tell them, yeah, I mean, this has some good stuff in it.
But we have to test not only to see if we can bring attention to this idea, but if your idea is good, because if the marketplace has invalidated it yet, just because you have one business that’s a good idea, it doesn’t mean another business. And a lot of times people come to us with their new ideas because a lot of times they’ve already figured out how to make this stuff that they the stuff they’re bored with work. And if they’re close minded about that, that they’re so convinced their idea is a gift of genius, that’s really tough for us to work with.
That’s one thing I think also. Yeah. I mean, the basics to just like there are certain clients who are a little bit entitled, you know, who who feel that just because they’ve paid a marketing agency means that no matter what they do, it should work. And if it doesn’t, it’s on us. So setting up interviews with them, to use a blatant example, and their job is so important and they’re so busy that they reschedule 14 times, four times with important podcasters, and then we can’t make it happen for them.
They get angry at us that we didn’t get enough exposure. So so it’s a partnership. Anyone who is open to adjusting their ideas, if someone already has a great product or a great service, especially a great service, and it’s delivered results and they’re making a decent living at it, but they know that it could conquer the world if it was if it was marketed the right way. That’s my favorite kind of client, because that kind of person has already demonstrated that they have followed through.
They’ve already demonstrated that that their service or product has legs and they just need a marketing expert to make it happen on a bigger scale. That’s my favorite kind of client.
I hope I can reflect as you’re talking, I want to just maybe reflect on some of my favorite clients as well. I feel like we’re talking about something very similar that whenever there’s a client comes to me, I said earlier, failure. You look good on You Tube. OK, let’s make that happen for me. Three months, Manti’s and I said, sorry, I’m not going to lie to you. I won’t take your money for three months and tell you it hasn’t worked out right.
My contract protecting me from giving you guarantee results, I’ll tell you right now I can is a very slight chance of that happening. And what I did notice, believe it or not, running podcast for six years, I didn’t realize there are people from all walks of life who have listened to it and some of them listened to, I wouldn’t say every episode, but their subscribers and they really try to catch up whenever they can. And when they hire me, my contract goes out.
They sign a return to within a couple of hours, no questions to ask. And they tell me I want to invest in working with you for the next two to three years.
That’s a fantastic that level of of trust then kind of putting themselves in the hands of the process, I think is a wonderful thing.
Hands off at the same time.
At the same time, you can’t this is me. If someone pushes back and they have some mistrust, I’m OK with that. And I’ll tell you why, because there are a lot marketing is a squishy thing. It’s not like you’re selling sheet metal or ball bearings, right? I mean, sheet metal gets to your factory or it doesn’t. It’s pretty easy to figure out what marketing I mean, especially digital marketing. It’s really easy to smoke and mirrors the thing, I mean, what is a good result, and it doesn’t mean you have a lot of Facebook followers.
I mean, I I worked with a contractor once who promised me a bunch of Twitter followers and got them for me. And when I dug into what they were, it was like, I don’t even think these were real people, to use an obvious example. So it’s very easy or somewhat a PR person to get you in 10 magazines, but you don’t make a penny as a result. Right? So people are a little gun shy and I get that.
But if they don’t do their part, if you set a date in the sales process, if you set a date to have a decision and they go to you and then call you back four weeks later and then don’t. I mean, you can it is a partnership. When you become someone’s agency, you’re exchanging money for something equally as valuable. You’re not their servant. Exactly right. So that that’s a bad sign, too.
I love the two points on Michael’s. You know, I want to summarize and really kind of dove in deep to number one, whenever I work with a virtuousness assistant, my editor, I have three people on the federal team, which is really quite small. And I have contractors who are not hiring a full time basis. Now, what I learned, I did something I thought I was so unusual because people told me what you you ask your virtual assistant to think with you.
You’re asking her to be in a strategic partner. And yeah. And I said this. Yes, that’s that’s what I did. No. One, I’m thinking I can’t afford to have I can’t hire you for a ten thousand dollars. OK, now you’ve granted yourself permission to think with me, I, I leverage them as human beings and I cannot tell you how helpful they’ve been and some of them much younger than I am actually. All of them are younger than I am.
And they’re giving me insights that I never thought it was possible. So that’s one thing, Michael, as you pointed out, like trust that people trust those people. And number two, very recently, one of my clients and I are so excited to start a new email sequence. For those of you guys who don’t know what that is, you don’t have an email list is basically a sequence of emails that you pre construct. Right. And some of them are kind of in some sort of logical sequential order and you’re trying to teach them one or two things.
And the original effort might the way I did this was we’re trying to grow the list a little bit. We know it wasn’t going to grow tremendously because he’s he’s a senior executive. So we we thought, let’s attract more of the right people. Now, what the secret agenda and I we kind of vocalize to each other is that we really want to nurture the two hundred people he does have. Right. Right. Those are the people who have worked with him.
Super warm leads. And as soon as we finish the sequence, only five emails over the course of eight days, one of his clients came back and signed up with him. We’re talking about significant project.
That’s a big deal. And that’s very smart because you basically it’s funny. I see that all the time. I’ll ask people prospects or whatever, and I’ll say how I want to get a million Twitter followers. OK, how how much is one sale worth? Fifty thousand dollars. And like do you think that of a million Twitter followers, like that’s your that’s your audience for people willing to spend fifty thousand dollars, I would rather have a thousand CEOs.
It’s important to think of these things. And it sounds like I mean, this is what you do for a living. You’re very good at it. This is that’s a smart approach.
Thank you. Thank you. I just I was so excited. And by the way, the celebration with a client, because I got to admit, I love the people I work with. And I think love comes in many shapes and forms. And I, I think of them as family, as thinking partners and people. I truly care about that. A couple of my clients recently had non-life threatening surgeries and literally nothing too serious, but it’s still serious because it’s operational.
And so I remember just checking in with them and I actually felt like I truly feel better and let’s get back to work and or relax as needed. So super powerful. So I’m going to give it a little bit because I feel like I can talk to you forever. We definitely will talk about the book in a second, too, just for my audience who are maybe watching this right now. Sure. I work with clients who are senior executives and all that who have become really successful entrepreneurs.
But I don’t know what’s going on with covid covid-19. I now see a lot of experts who were backed or worked for a giant organization, whether it’s we’re talking of huge agencies or hospitals and there are experts and then there are building new companies, either leaving their jobs or like really trying to build something brand new during covid. Which is I’m sure it’s very scary to them, but how do you recommend people maybe leverage their expertize and what do they have to pivot?
Because I definitely see people struggle on many different levels to realize the skills they need in order to actually make a splash or make a living on their own.
Yeah, I mean, before trying to pretend that I have all the answers, I don’t I have some ideas, but I also want to give some sympathy and empathy because. This is really hard. I mean, this is this is not like a regular recession. This is a weird thing that’s going on. I mean, this is a once every hundred years kind of thing. So, yeah, I want to pay. Credence, or whatever the word is to the idea that everyone is out there, especially in our world, in the entrepreneurial world, everyone kind of does the wrong thing, or else you wouldn’t be able to get up every day with all the uncertainty.
So they say turn lemons into lemonade and usually hard times or opportunity is in disguise. And that’s all true at the same time. This is really tough. I mean, if you were in the speaking business, yeah, you can do digital talks and there’s a way to do it. You can create products. But it kind of sucks that you can’t get paid 20 grand to show up. And that’s why you’re used to you know, I mean, that’s that’s hard if you’re in our world.
In the marketing world. Yeah. You know, the big campaigns are coming back. That being said, it’s a lot harder to close the deal when people don’t even know if they’ll be in business in three weeks. And people are worried about the political situation. I mean, we’ve never had a situation where there might not be an orderly transfer of power. I mean, so so so that uncertainty is not good for business. So the first thing I want to say is just I don’t know.
It’s tough. That said, you know, I do think so. So, I mean, I don’t want this to sound like a plug for the book because I know we’re going to talk about the book, but it’s but it’s been on my mind a lot. So the book that I wrote is called The Hype Handbook, and it’s basically about looking at the techniques of really unconventional promoters like like some some really fun people, some really bad people.
So for propaganda artists, cult leaders, but rock managers, people in hip hop, carnival, barker kind of people. And the idea is to apply those things ethically because they have those kind of people have a really good understanding of group psychology. Now, the other thing, though, is that I took the name the Hype Handbook from hip hop because in the word hype is usually considered a bad thing. You’re hyping something that isn’t that isn’t real.
But in hip hop, there’s always a character called the Hype Band who’s part of a group like Flavor Flav, right? Yeah. And they get the crowd excited and they lead the street teams and they rap. And I think I thought about that. And why does that why did that come out in the hip hop even in the early days? Because African-Americans are perpetually going through a pandemic, you know what I mean? I mean, they they they don’t have the same opportunities as other people.
Some do. But it’s interesting, like the book Forty Eight Laws of Power, written by Robert Green, which is this green, which is it’s really Machiavellian book. It’s like a modern Machiavelli. It’s like very clear eyed about what it takes to be powerful. And people have really criticized it because it’s it’s too harsh. But it’s really, really popular in the African-American community in terms of percentages. It has a lot of African-American buyers and rappers have rapped about it, because if you’re black in America, you realize that it’s a luxury to play by the rules.
You know what I mean? So a lot of. People who who are African-American, who do happen to do well in our society, say to themselves, I got to you shortcuts, I got to use workarounds, I got to hack the system, you know? And so I think that’s one thing. If if if if you want to be realistic about what it takes to make it in this very crazy time, you might have to throw out the window.
All of your traditional ideas build sales funnels like this, this and this. Write a book and get fifteen thousand dollars speaking gigs through the sales process. You might have to take the page of the book of people who have lived on the margins to get really clear eyed about the world. How it really is right now instead of how you wish it had been, was because we all wish it were different right now and then figure out how to use that as raw clay to make stuff happen.
Because I don’t have a recipe. I think you got to look at the Masters and figure out how people on the outskirts have always done it when things were going well.
Yeah, let’s look at that. I’d love to hear a bit more about the books, too, because like you said, some of these people are and good people, but they were able to get around the traditional system. And, you know, I see a lot of very successful people in businesses who don’t play by the rules and they become very successful and they end up helping people. So I would throw out one tip, perhaps, is to look at where the opportunities are and break the barriers of what you are familiar with.
And I know that feel so uncomfortable. I mean, come on, if we change shampoos and lotion lotions when they like your skin gets all like very reactive. But, you know, for me to think about a lot of the content presented on YouTube, if I use doctors for, for instance, there are a lot of psychotherapists and therapists and doctors who are really gaining momentum on YouTube, like I’ve never seen them before. And guess what? They used to be PowerPoint presentations, audience, terrible audio.
You can hear them. They’re talking directly to other doctors and people and learn from them. Now, I see a lot of these therapists talking directly to you, to the audience, oh, you’re struggling with this. And I’m sure you have difficulties accessing hospitals. These are the things that you can you can ask your primary care doctors. These are things you can think about and giving them additional resources that are, frankly, very hard or inaccessible to people right now.
So I think those are just like thinking outside the box. I don’t necessarily love that term has really played well for a lot of people.
Yeah, I mean, there was a guy that I know named Robbie Samuels. I was actually on his podcast. I don’t even think it’s out yet, but I was just interviewed on the shmooze and he had done a really well, sort of doing a very in-person oriented business, you know, about presenting and things like that. And his business got murdered in this thing. So what he did and he’s done very well, he basically, after probably laying in bed for a week or whatever he did, he got up and brushed himself off and he said, OK, there was all these people doing stuff on Zoom.
I know a lot about interpersonal presentation skills. So in a very short period of time, you sort of become the preeminent kind of expert, teaching people how to use Zoom properly to get their point across and make money. And he’s done well with it. So that’s a good example.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m familiar with his work as well that I’ve been following his on the shmooze Zoom hang out every Friday.
So there you go. There you know it. Yeah, exactly.
You know, it’s like we we have this close knit network of people always doing experiments. Yeah. It takes a it takes some guts and not everything has to work, but you just have to kind of go at it. And no matter what age you are, I know that for some folks would be like, oh, I’m, I can’t look like a fool to anybody. Well, let’s just come and look at the situation. I mean, take a risk now or never.
So but the reason I gave that preamble also is because I think it’s really important not to beat yourself up because we read these books and you think. Robbie did it, I should be able to do it and it’s hard he just happened. He’s a smart guy, but also he just happened to hit the right thing. I think if you fail a few times, you got to give yourself a little credit. These are really tough times. There’s no playbook for what we’re going through.
Exactly. Well, speaking of playbook, you didn’t write a playbook, Michael, and that’s coming out in January. Twenty twenty one. And their links in the description below, again, as a reminder, throws any questions. We’ll check in and and respond to all of them for you guys. But, Michael, tell us about the book. Who will be a good audience? We have creative entrepreneurs watching those entrepreneurs, people who just left their jobs are struggling with their jobs.
Like what? What can they get from the book? Who do you want to target?
Yeah, I mean, I think anyone who doesn’t have a direct path or a well trodden path for getting attention for their stuff, which is sort of everyone right now, because the world is sort of falling apart or reassembling itself, you know, but I mean, if you have a small business, if you have a piece of art, a book, if you have anything like that, and you need to figure out how to sort of attract a lot of attention and move people emotionally to take an action, whether that’s buying your thing or investing in it, it’s for you.
I mean, I think that everyone in the world today I mean, in the in the old days, if you were working for Procter and Gamble or any kind of marketing organization, did you need hype? No, not really. I mean, you had your supply chain secured. You had your advertising budgets fixed. You had the ad agencies that already knew how to create great ads. I mean, there was no real reason to hack the process, which is why you learn a lot more about this stuff from the Sex Pistols manager or something like that than you would from Procter and Gamble.
At the same time, Richard Branson was an upstart. He started a record label and then went on to start an airline. And he was an upstart in every new industry that he did. And he used all of these practices. And I define hype as any activity that you any series of activities that get people emotional, a number of people, so that they’ll take the action you want them to take. And that can be a great action, a bad action, a neutral action.
But but that’s how I define it. And I created this whole concept because I went on my own. I mean, I had a job and I learned a lot there. But I after a while, I was really unsatisfied and I left and I became I was a writer before I was anything. And I wanted to be a marketing writer just because I knew that there was money in it. I mean, I had wanted to be a novelist at one time, and I like writing and there’s more money in marketing writing than than a lot of other things.
And I knew I was good at it and I got some jobs, but I could not systematically get people to buy from me. I just didn’t know how to attract attention. And I read every traditional marketing book and it was like, so I learned a little, but it was either hyper vague, like I like Seth Godin stuff, but it’s really vague. He’ll give you the idea of like ask permission before, you know, markets. I’m like, yes, you just completely change my framework, but I have absolutely no idea how to do that.
Or, you know, or it would be hyper specific, like, yeah, set up six landing pages with a sales funnel and the sequence of May, June and July. And I say, what, what? What about what? So I didn’t really learn a lot. I learned a lot, but I didn’t make an extra dollar. And so I went back to my past. I mean, I used to be an artsy kind of kid.
And I really like learning about like rock managers. I played in bands and I was a little bit of a weirdo myself. So like we used to, I played in a band in New York that while we didn’t make it, quote unquote, we had some success. We sold our clubs and had a residency and we weren’t even on TV at one point. And I don’t think I’m a pretty mediocre singer. I mean, I was a really good punk screamer, but then we started writing real songs and whatever.
So but we would do things like I would put posters up everywhere that the Dave Matthews must die because he was really popular at the time. And like, I would dress like a nun and make sure the press was there to see it. So I was like, well, that was all marketing. But like, why didn’t I think of it as marketing? Why am I reading about sales funnels? Like, what is this? So I said, what if I started to study these people?
So I’m being very desperate. I had a niche. I am not famous. I never have been famous, but I’m well known in nature. I mean, you heard about me before we ever met. So the way that started was I had read this principle, which is one of 12 of how people type artists, as I call them, almost always create us versus them dynamic, as we talked about before. So I didn’t like the advice Gary Vaynerchuk was giving.
I think he’s a great, great, great talent. But there was one part of what he was giving, his advice to young people that I thought was really. Leading them the wrong way, so I wrote an article called Why Gary Vaynerchuk is Flat Out Wrong on Ink, and he responded that night and I was a nobody and he was really aggravated. And all his fans were like all pissed off in the whole deal. But I started to gain all these followers and I started to get clients.
So it’s like there’s something to this. So there was the concept of micro fame, which is sort of the meta thing, like you don’t have to get famous, you have to have micro famous. And I named my agency after that. But then it was a question of what? Where do you learn what to do to get microphages? I don’t want to be just Seth Godin, who I think I would love to be Seth Godin, but I don’t want to just be like get micro fame as.
So that’s the answer. You get Micra famous, but what do you do to get Micra famous? So that was my question of like, let’s study the people who. Really know how to get famous, and it worked, but it was always important to to apply it ethically. I don’t want to I didn’t leave a job to become a con artist, you know what I mean? Quite, quite the contrary.
Yeah, exactly. There’s a very fine line there. So there are many methods. I think 12 how many tips?
12 tips and 12 distilled from like I, I read so many biographies, so many books on psychology. And then I tried to use different things and see which worked and which didn’t. And I felt you could I found you could really Buckett that wide array of things into 12 strategies. And it seems to have been the case.
So can we tease out maybe one of them? Like, obviously it’s not equivalent to reading the entire chapter, but what would be one tip that could lead people towards the right way?
I’ll give you a few, because I already talked about us versus them. And I think that’s about picking an idea. You don’t have to bash a person. You can pick an idea that you disagree with. So say to yourself, what’s a point of view in my sphere, in my niche, in my industry, that every time I hear it, it’s considered gospel and I think it’s really misguided. Do the opposite. So I thought at the time Gary Vaynerchuk was all about hustle culture.
Is this a tweet from the toilet at three o’clock in the morning? And I thought that was really, really misguided. So I just said hustle culture is stupid, you know, and that got a lot of attention. So that’s one another one know that there are a lot that that would take a long time to go into. One is about being theatrical and you can be theatrical without dressing like a nun. You can do that in whatever industry or in one is called milk before me, which is about introducing bold new ideas in little increments because we can digest that better.
One is called Make It Scientific, where you can take simple ideas and wrap them. So this is a good one. So Simon Sinek, right. However you feel about him, if you watch him, most people would guess that he was some sort of researcher from a university. He’s got his little spectacles and he uses words like dopamine and epinephrine or whatever, these various things. And then you find out he worked. At an advertising agency, the guy hasn’t, as he has been a professional marketing and sales guy from the day he graduated college.
So why does he do that? Why does he talk with dopamine, epinephrine in the neural pathways into this and that? It’s because if he were to just say, start with why, it’s really important that you love what you do and that you have a reason for picking, you know, shit, Sherlock, you know what I mean? But if he starts with the human firdaus in the brain, Neural Pathways says the meaning applied to work. Suddenly he’s got a TED talk.
And so people use mental shortcuts, like if you if you see a doctor come in with ripped jeans and like dirty t shirt or whatever, you’re going to be like, get me a new doctor right now. And he might be the world’s greatest doctor, but why do they wear a doctor with a stethoscope even if they’re not going to listen to your heart? And they used to wear white coats. So that’s because we use mental shortcuts in deciding who’s credible.
And so if you have simple ideas and you want to set yourself apart, wrap it in all kinds of jargon. So if if you’re trying to set yourself apart, don’t use jargon at all, use simple language. If the idea is very I mean, if the idea is new, I’m sorry if the idea is really radical and really brand new use terms they already understand. So the reason Martin Luther King was very successful is because he he he was introducing a very radical idea for America.
And he always talked about from sea to shining sea and the Declaration of Independence, whereas defund the police is the worst slogan of all time because it sounds you hear that and it sounds like we’re going to dismantle the police and we hate America. And whether that’s true or not, that’s very scary to people. So if you have an idea that’s challenging. Use very plain language and introduce it in small steps. If you have an idea that’s really run of the mill, but you just happen to do it well, but you’re in a crowded space, put all kinds of jargon around that, neural pathways, epinephrine, you know, whatever, you know, or whatever is applicable.
So that that would be a couple of tactics.
I love that. Thank you so much. Because I started an experiment maybe just a few months ago that I to be honest, if you guys go to phase WorldCom on the on the front page, the hero image, and there’s a call to action that says how how I explain what I do in plain English. And frankly, I already had my services paid in plain English. That’s kind of my model the whole time. But still, I realized I came from business consulting and advertising there a lot of jargon that we are so married to that we don’t even realize it takes a while to kind of offload them.
And I saw what if I can write something that an eight year old, literally an eight year old, can read and explain to his or her auntie, uncles or whatever and two other eight year olds? I’ve done something really interesting there. And to be quite honest, I also don’t know a lot of big words myself. So it was a.
But you hit upon a good point because you have to have nuance with all of this stuff. So the reason you did that is because everyone else in your field is using this meaningless jargon. So if you hear words like thought, leadership and brand and all these brand identity, you don’t think to yourself, wow, that person is an expert. You think to yourself, that person didn’t have the deep they didn’t think deeply enough. They didn’t have enough.
Understanding of what they do to go beyond the cliches, so that doesn’t give you authority, so by being plain in your speech, you’ve set yourself apart from all of your competitors. Now, if you were at the same time, if you were selling something that was very run of the mill and then everyone else used plain language because it was just so basic by by using exalted language, you will give it an air of authority that makes people think it’s a cut above.
It’s why someone will sell there’s hand lotion or face lotion, whatever that that sells for a thousand bucks like that. Jennifer Lopez uses what could lotion really do? But the mother of Pearl extracted into a fine distillation process. I mean, it’s lotion, it’s cream, you know, so that’s what I’m saying. It’s a nuance kind of thing. So you’ve done the right thing for your specific circumstance. But then if you have something really run of the mill like cream, you know, lotion.
Yeah. But then you need to kind of use words to puff it up a little bit.
So if you guys, whoever is watching those of you work for, like, I don’t know, L’Oreal or like, you know, make sure you come back and attack Michael a little bit and start the conversation. But we all know it’s true. I mean, you know, I mean, some lotions are better than other lotions. But let’s be honest, there’s not a lotion on Earth that’s worth one thousand dollars in terms of pure value.
Oh, my God. So for for my someone up there who so believe in what is called La Mer, I don’t.
Yeah, that’s yeah. That’s one of the ones I’m thinking. Yeah.
Five hundred dollars were a tiny little jar. When I go back to.
That’s the one I’m thinking of. It’s not a thousand five hundred is ridiculous.
Yeah. I love the exact. I don’t know how to say God bless them, God bless them. They were able to make that happen. I mean you know like. Yeah.
Tiny jar. OK, we’re not even talking about like your four ounce ones, like they’re one point seven ounce. One is like three, four or five hundred dollars. And I go back. Doesn’t matter, especially to China. All my girlfriend from high school. You could be living in Shanghai. Macao doesn’t matter. Everybody has a jar. In fact, it’s such a tribe. When I pull out my CVS’s products and they go, Oh, so you do not have a jar of La Mer like you could use whatever anything else, but you got to have a jar of like sorry I just, I can’t afford it.
I don’t have one.
Where are you from. In China by the way. This is off topic.
Oh Beijing. I was going to ask you about your man. We got you got to come back. We have to talk about I’m like obsessed with China now. I went there a year ago and I had such a good experience that I’m like really into Chinese culture. Like, I really I went in twenty eight and it was like a tourist trip and I didn’t get that much out of it. And I was invited by two Chinese people who have become very good friends with.
And I spent the whole time with them and I just fell in love with the country and the culture. Yeah.
Oh my God. There was so, it’s so lovely. I grew up there until I was seventeen. A lot of people don’t know that. Even though my friends can all more or less hear my accent or where I get very slight, I hear it, but it’s extremely slight. Yeah.
And then also like this, it’s the size of package, rather certain whole accent and cultural things are very different because in addition to the slight accent, people can see that I respond to things differently or what I’m into or when they name a toy they used to play with in their childhood, they were like, wait a minute, you’re the same age. How come you’ve never heard of this? I it’s like, oh, let us introduce you to announce.
What’s that, Candy? You have that or like Tootsie Rolls. I brought about White Rabbit. Is that what it’s called. Rabbit. I brought I brought back a thing of them for my daughter. Yeah.
Know it’s so funny because we been white rabbit is this milk candy that we never had it. Yeah. We don’t have it.
Yeah I know. There’s a green tea version like a macho version of it. Many different flavors like Strawberry Version, but the milk one is the most traditional and my American friends used to say, oh so disgusting. Who eats like milk candy. And it’s delicious.
Like I that’s actually it’s actually good. Yeah.
Yeah. And then I remember you learned Chinese way food or is way, way OK. Is that how you pronounce how people call me like instead of. Oh by the way they say oh because it’s this backwards way food. Right. Right, right. Yeah. I forgot the name or our names are backwards but. Yeah.
Right, exactly. So you learned kung fu as well.
Oh yes. So that’s a totally so because I mean it probably had something to do with it. But when I came back, just for various reasons, I happened to a I met a teacher who is not Chinese, but I started it’s called Wing Chun, which I’m sure I’m not pronouncing it man, you know, Branch and I’m really enjoying it a lot.
Yeah. I got to I think I may know the original I need to find the original master Moyock was one and yeah. It man. Which I trainee’s is a funny language, Mandarin, because I took Spanish all through school and I learned a little bit of it, but I’m not fluent, you know, and when I went to China, like people that I met there would tell me to pronounce something and I couldn’t even remember it. Like after they told me the tones are so crazy.
So then I was in the elevator of the hotel and I met these two Spanish people from Madrid and I felt like they were talking English. I mean, it was so much it’s like I could understand them better than I would understand Spanish because the languages are so much closer than Chinese. I don’t know if English is hard for Chinese speakers, but that is a really different language then.
Oh, it’s very different. It’s all the Latin, Latin or. Yeah. Which in general sort of a woman. Languages are all very difficult for Chinese people, my friends. And I’ve never really learned Japanese Korean seriously, but I’ve heard from my Chinese friends to say that they they do feel a little bit easier to ask the right pronunciation. Yeah. And they just it’s just so fascinating. People always ask me, what do you which language do you dream in?
And it really depends if it’s my parents I’m talking to my parents, probably Chinese, everything else is in English. And they always ask you, like how your brain is speaking of neural pathways and dopamine, dopamine. So, you know, it is very different for for us.
So but I really I really gained and you just see all of the like every country has its faults. But like, when you when you go and you actually spend time with people, you just realize that, like people are people. You know what I mean? That that’s true. Yeah.
Everything you hear and you learn exclusive from the news, but where you get your news from. But just in general, it’s so different than making friends. And even even if you’re in America, you’re not going to travel to Asia any time soon. Probably make a couple of friends go to Chinatown, sit there and actually just be immersed in that environment, even though Chinatown doesn’t really represent China, frankly. Still, it’s just getting to know people, having that conversation, eating their food, asking question.
I love the food, by the way. That’s a funny thing happened. Oh, I don’t know. I like these like this like shredded potato stuff that they would always serve in the meals. I thought that was really good.
My mom makes the best ones.
Yeah, those are really. But it was funny because one thing I noticed about China, we’re going to run soon. But one thing I noticed about China is that they don’t, as a rule, drink coffee first thing in the morning like they have it. But it’s not like the thing people wake up to. And I’m like, I can’t really function without it, you know? So I would I would be like at this place and they didn’t have coffee.
So we went on this team building thing and we went to this amusement park. It was in Shenzhen and we got there. And the only place that had coffee was a KFC. So I went into the KFC and I got a coffee and I come out. It was like 10:00 a.m. in the morning. And the guy we were with who didn’t speak English that well, but who we got to be friends. You want a hamburger? And I’m like, you just totally stereotyped me.
I’m going to get a hamburger at ten o’clock in the morning. Some American, you know, I a cup of coffee if you ever want to ever, you know, seriously. So it just so funny when I take my friends go to get them some in Boston and even know they were talking about, you know, like when the waiter comes over and be like, this is what American people like, you should be like, no, no, no, they’re not here for that.
They’re going to eat what I eat. Right? Yeah. It’s so wonderful. I love this part because I am running. I need to run to a meeting, a new and I will let you go.
I will definitely pick it up. My meeting attendees are all actually watching this conversation. They’re like, I’m meeting attendees. Hi Ana. Thanks for what I know you love this part of China. So we got to let let’s have a let’s have a part two of this. I feel like it.
I’ll be come back any time you want me. I had a lot of fun with this.
Awesome, awesome. Michael, so I’ll keep you posted on, you know, we’re going to again, everybody, this is live, but then it’s going to be part of the First World podcast as well. And Google, Spotify, Apple. And this is amazing. Michael, I’m going to take us offline and we’ll. Yeah, I’m going to take us offline first by guised.
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Michael F. Schein website – michaelfschein.com MicroFame Media (marketing agency) – www,microfamemedia.com