Our Guest Today: Robbie Samuels
Robbie Samuels is an author, speaker, and business growth strategy coach recognized as a networking expert by Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Lifehacker, and Inc. He is also an event design consultant and executive Zoom producer recognized as an industry expert in the field of digital event design by JDC Events. His clients include thought leaders, entrepreneurial women, and national and statewide advocacy organizations, including Feeding America and California WIC Association.
His books “Croissants vs. Bagels: Strategic, Effective, and Inclusive Networking at Conferences” and “Small List, Big Results: Launch a Successful Offer No Matter the Size of Your Email List” have collectively received 400 Amazon reviews and reached #1 in eleven paid categories. He is a TEDx speaker, Harvard Business Review contributor, and has been featured in numerous leading business publications and business books.
Since 2016 he has hosted the On the Schmooze podcast and since 2020 #NoMoreBadZoom Virtual Happy Hours.
Watch Our Interview
Robbie Samuels and Fei Wu: Learn to Harness Your Expertise & Start Your Next Chapter – powered by Happy Scribe
This Fei from today, Robbie Samuels. We cannot believe it’s been this long that we still haven’t actually done this. Like, in my mind that we’ve done this already over and over again. Bring conversations to you guys. If you’re here, please say hi. And Robbie, before we get started, shall I briefly introduce you?
Brilliant. Thanks for inviting me.
This is super fun, and I really look forward to this. So, guys, if you’re not familiar with Robbie’s work, well, that’s my guest today. He is a multipassionate entrepreneur, or what some people would call a multihyphenate. I love that. In this case, this means he’s a professional speaker, business growth strategy coach, event design consultant, executive, zoom producer, MC, podcast host, author, virtual presentation skills trainer, and I’m very likely to leave something out at this point. He’s been recognized as a networking expert by Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and Inc. And as an industry expert in the field of digital event design by JDC Events. His two books have collectively received over 400 Amazon reviews and reached number one in eleven paid categories. So please join me in welcoming all the way from his hometown in Philadelphia suburbs. Home in the hometown necessary. We have to find out where you’re from originally. Ravi’s a TEDx speaker, an HBR contributor, and a Scrabble champion, at least in his home. So welcome. Robbie. So great to have you here.
Thank you so much for the warm welcome.
Oh, so lovely. By the way, where are you from originally?
I grew up in Long Island, New York, so not too far from here. It’s a few hours away, but I moved to be a little bit closer to home. Excellent. We’re already getting some love.
Oh, I love it. I love it. Thank you so much. Jess, so good to see you here. And Robbie, I feel like I want to go into so many different angles, and I am just so grateful that we’re finally sitting down right here. And for anybody who’s watching, no matter where you are, please ask questions in the description below. I listed some links for you to connect with Robbie as well. But first, you have spent a hell of a few years when I say hello, I actually think you’ve done such amazing work, been so successful navigating the craziness of, like, nobody knew what was going on during the Pandemic. How do we pivot as a speaker all that jazz. Could you maybe just chat with us about where you’ve been in the past three years?
Yeah. So prior to the Pandemic, I spent over a decade working to be recognized as a networking expert, which included doing a talk for about eleven years. Art of the schmooze. Half that time I was employed. And then I left my career to focus full time on being a speaker, then launched a podcast that’s the fancy mic that I have. And a group coaching program and a book on how to network at conferences and then Aetics on that topic. And so in many ways in 2020, I was poised to be an overnight success. Ten years in the making. I was working on a new talk that I was getting ready to sell to association executives, and no one needed anything. I had been known for March 2020. Eye contact, business cards, shaking hands, body language. That was not what people were looking for support around in the moment. So I was focusing on how to show up and add value. And on March 12, 2020, I wrote and shared nine ways to network in a pandemic. And I looked at that list that evening and realized I should do one of these and decided I was going to host a virtual Happy hour, which is how I ended up hosting my first ever virtual happy hour, march 1320, which is the day the world kind of hit pause.
And I hosted that weekly ever since. And that really led to an entirely new business. Soon after created a certification program. People who wanted to become more competent, competent using Zoom companies and organizations, associations, nonprofits, started hiring me to bring events online with less stress and greater participant engagement. And eight months later, in November 2020, I looked up from a Whirlwind year because I was also coaching on behalf of a company that was a more than full time role. And I discovered that I had built a thriving six figure company based on all new revenue streams. So I had to let go of the coaching role that I was doing. And then last year, in 2021, I actually wrote a book, my second book, Smallest Big Results, to talk about how I did that, how I built something from scratch. But it wasn’t from scratch. Oh, there you are.
That is my toolkit that you can get for free. It was really a whirlwind. And I then moved subsequently to Philadelphia area because suddenly have the means to do so.
Wow. So you had been wanting to move to Philadelphia, and you’re waiting for that moment. And it’s crazy. I feel like some parallels here. Not that I always wanted to buy a house, but somehow during the pandemic, I have the means as well to buy a house. So money is kind of a tricky subject sometimes. It still is today. But yeah, tell us about like, you know, first of all, for me to see that no more bad Zoom meetings. I was so excited for you, and I couldn’t believe that you’re still running it. I remember every Friday seeing that invite come in 5530, and I was like, oh, Robbie is probably going to do this for like 1012 weeks, helping a lot of people, and just kept going. So I actually want to pause and just talk about that for a moment.
Most of us start these things that lasts for a few weeks or whatever.
I’m really into consistency. I’m really interested in creating something that I’m committed to. My podcast is about 300 episodes over six years. I sort of pick a thing, and I’m really committed to it. And I’ve gotten better at running Zoom because of all these free sessions that I was running. And that’s what led to me becoming an expert that people would seek out to pay me. So I became a virtual event design consultant and an executive Zoom producer. And some of the people that I trained and certified on how to use Zoom effectively became Zoom producers that I then subcontracted workout to, which is beautiful, that they’ve created businesses for themselves, and they’re helping me run my business. But those meetings, I mean, initially, that first week, people were, like, thrilled, and it was so funny because it was 20 of us. We did the very typical go around, and everyone said hello, and everyone was like, this was great. I loved it. And I thought, this format is not I’m never going to use this format again. And I said, you all just have such a low bar. You’re just happy to be talking to someone you’re not in charge of feeding.
Like you think your whole social life has vanished. And so I just kept pushing myself to become 5% better every time I hosted or spoke online. And that compounded effort is what led me to surpass a lot of folks and just to learn and try things. And so by hosting this, people would ask me questions about Zoom. And in the very beginning I’ve shared this before. It’s not really a secret, but in the very beginning, it was a little bit of smoke and mirrors, because I’d say, oh, go ahead and write all your Zoom questions and chat. And then I’d say, okay, I’m going to send you off to a breakout room to do this activity, and they’d be in that activity for ten minutes, and I’d be online looking on YouTube, on Zoom, us, search for Google, pull up all these links, save them in a document, and people come back. And I’d be like, oh, so that poll question, it’s more or less this, but if you want to dig deeper, here’s a link.
So true. I do the exact same thing, but I just want kudos to you, first of all, because during that time, there’s so many creators, very established ones, all of them talking about loom. The whole world is talking about the subject, the software that not enough people paid attention to. And here we go. I mean, there’s a question from Adam Leffert. You know, Adam, there’s so many people still today during the Pandemic going online to connect with potential clients, starting their own business. How did you stand out to launch.
Your new business service, show up and add value? I wasn’t really focusing on turning a profit immediately on any of the ideas I had. I was listening. I inadvertently was doing research calls, which is what I’m teaching people in my second book, is what I teach my clients for coaching. People were inbound inquiring how I can help them. And that was leading me to instead of just filling my call, I could have filled my calendar with social calls, but I turned those calls into research calls. That’s how in May 2020 was running a four week pilot that I ran for four months before like, 40 people went in. I had nothing on my website. It wasn’t about marketing people who didn’t know me. It was all about leaning into my existing network, which I’m a huge proponent of. And those people already knew, like and trust me, and they knew I knew something that they needed help with, so that really helped. And then the who I market myself to also for virtual events tends to be associations and larger nonprofits. And I’m a mission driven person. So I think people are drawn to working with me because I’m not just a person who pushes buttons, but I’m going to also support their cause and their mission.
And the one thing I’ve done that I can point out great question, Adam. I also removed myself from the market in a way, so a lot of people early on were becoming zoom producers, is the thing we never heard about before. And my fees steadily increased so that I was not comparing myself to the other people. If you just want someone to push buttons and open up breakout rooms for you, without question, I’m not the person. Because if you tell me that you want to break out room three people for three minutes, I’m going to walk you through a series of questions to figure out what was your intention, what is your purpose, what is your outcome, and I’m going to help you redesign. I’m going to do strategy with you. And if you don’t want that strategy, then why are you paying me all the money I’m charging you? So I’m not an upwork person that’s just being asked to manage chat. I’m doing a ton of strategy beforehand, training speakers. So that, to me, that separated me out and prepandemic. My focus is on teaching people how to network at events. And it was about events being content and connection.
It’s the reason people made an effort to get in a car or get on a plane and meet each other. And I just figured virtual events shouldn’t be an exception to that. So the way we had done virtual prepondemic with 45 minutes of death by PowerPoint, followed by ineffectual Q and A and no and moderating chat, we couldn’t keep doing that. And so I just think that my message stood out. And now my message, my newest book and I’m working on my third book, is how Purposeful Design and Online Facilitation leads to Intentional Engagement and Memorable Online Experiences. And that it’s not enough to just add a breakout room to your agenda and just be like, Check, Mark. But it’s all the questions of, like, what’s it for? How many people? What kind of question? What is the outcome? Who’s going to go first? All these ways we can inspire people to really connect with your content and really either think differently and do something differently, feel something differently at the end of your session. So I just feel like they have to upload a from what we were in 2020 and keep pushing the growth that we can have in an online space.
Yeah, so well said. I mean, there’s some parallels to our work too. I also accidentally found myself teaching Zoom primarily towards the fitness and the kind of the creative, the creators online. And, you know, and then in the past year or so, i, too, got hired to facilitate sessions to moderate for different speakers and had the really, like, a dream to interview Steve Wozniak, most recently Mark Cuban, Arianna Huffington. It’s like, wow, I had no idea Zoom could you know, talking about Zoom could bring me to this point, which does not align with a lot of other things I’m interested in. But I just think it’s so fascinating, and I want to kind of just kind of pick your brain in terms of facilitation, because I think you really mastered this point. And just the other day before the interview, I was just putting myself in the position of a busy, freaked out event organizer and thinking about I have now, Robbie, running around at this live event, comforting everyone you’ve been talked about before the event starts, like, who’s greeting them, asking them questions, making them feel comfortable in this very corporate looking venue.
I was just envisioning that, but I kind of want you to speak to it more strategically on, as an event designer, what are some of the events that you have experienced, and what do you actually do at the beginning, like, the before, during, and after?
So you’re referencing one of my biggest clients, or my biggest client is Feeding America. They’re the folks that support food banks around the country in the US. About 200 food banks. So they’re kind of a federation, or you might think of them like an association of organizations, and they still do a lot of online events. We’ve been working together since 2020, but they started having some in person events again. And I pointed out that I had all this experience prep endemic that I could bring into the fray and make an impact. And so one of the things I did was they have concurrent sessions, whether in person or online, I meet with all the sessions to help them design their 75 minutes. So for the in person, I want to be thinking about engagement in a different way. So they’re the content experts, but take a moment and think about the five or ten minutes before your session. There’s always going to be people who come in early and then they were needing to decompress. And we take a little bit of moment out of the chaotic, vibrant hallway. And so they duck in and they sit as far as they can from each other and they get on their phones, and that sets the tone for how that room is going to feel.
So if you and I, Fay, we’re in the hallway having a great conversation as we walk in this room, we’re met with a wall of silence. So we’re like so instead, every session had a greeter. And what’s funny is I asked the participants about their experience and none of them remember the greeter, but I know there were greeters. So the greeters aren’t standing physically at the door, but there’s somebody who was like, oh, hey, come on in. It’s so subtle. They had tables, they had rounds of ten. And some of the sessions had tables marked for different topics or identities or different regions. There was an ice breaker either on the screen on the first slide, or on the table tents. This is all before the session began because if people are choosing this session from all the concurrent ones, these are people who should be given opportunity to talk to each other. So I had ideas like that, and then I had ideas for like, how to open and get people’s attention and create a knowledge gap that brings people into the conversation. How to design panels, what does a fireside chat look like, how do you make a presentation engaging and all these different things?
And then how do you even end so that people are talking to each other at the end and hopefully leaving in groups of two or three back into the hallway together? Because if you and I don’t know that many people, but you do, and I walk out with you, then I’m going to get invited along to lunch or I’m going to have someone to stand with during the cocktail hour, right? So it’s just I’m giving sort of ways people can connect. And I have this you’re one of my five. Is this I don’t even call it like a tool. That all the sessions we’re talking about. And then I also did a 1 minute video for the Plenary. Basically note down anyone who says or asks something that catches your attention. And then those are the people you’re going to want to talk to during breaks, during lunch, during the reception. And then what can you do to be the person who says or asks something that leaves other people to write down your name? And then if you don’t have five names written down by the end of the session, you’re probably not paying attention to your opening line.
When you see people in the hallway, you can always say, oh, hey, you were one of my five. And that would be the opening to your conversation. So whether it’s my first time or my 12th time. It gives everybody a chance to connect with each other physically and use that as the opening line. And I was told people were using it, so it was democratizing. What does Cohosting what does it look like? To create an open and welcoming space where people aren’t just invited, but truly are welcomed into the experience.
Wow. I love event design. I love talking about and listening to it because I’m not sure if you remember how we met, Robbie. We met for the first time during Dory Clark’s entrepreneur launch party.
Her book had I thought that was the first time we met. Yeah.
Barnes and Noble, Heinz Convention Center. And I remember you were filming the event. You’re very intentional. You’re already organizing that event. I know it wasn’t a big one, but you really stood out. And I remember the first thing I read the book years ago, but one of the books that really kind of struck me from you is, you know, I just tell everybody Robbie is the CORSANA bagels guy. Okay. I don’t remember the exact croissants versus bagels.
I like it. It’s close. I’ve heard. Donuts I’ve heard. But, yeah.
I love it because the idea of first of all, I love both, but I never thought about Croissants in that way of kind of like, you know, opening to a group of people. So oh, my goodness. There it really resonated. And it’s so true.
What we’re talking about is in person. And it’s funny to hear that this is now a question I’m getting because for two years, it wasn’t a relevant conversation. So I’m really happy to hear that it’s not relevant. Again, my TEDx Talk is honest as well. Robbie Samuels.com TEDx, where I actually brought people on stage to demonstrate it. But essentially when you’re at an in person event and you’re trying to figure out how to navigate those reception moments where everyone’s cocktailing and networking, most people are standing in these tight clusters, these shoulder to shoulder huddles that are impossible to break into, and it makes you feel like you don’t know where to go. You’re hovering on the edge. But if one person in that group shifts their body language to make space, now you’ve got this croissant. They both look for those croissants but also be the cook. So if you and I are standing and talking to each other, we can stand with both our feet parallel facing each other, and that’s more closed. Or you can do that, but I can shift my body language a little bit, and then Adam can join us.
It’s like remembering your intention of going to this event was to meet people. In fact, there was a study by the International Association of Exhibitions Events found that 76% of people surveyed so that networking was a top driver for why they chose to attend their event. But you and I both know that three quarters of the people going to an in person event are not leaving thinking I met all the right people, they’re like, follow through on that intention is rather low and so prepandemic. That was what I was trying to close the gap on. And now post, I don’t want to say postponedmic because we’re not postponemic, but now that the world is opening up again after two year hiatus of live inperson events, I think we’re all out of practice. And since some people hadn’t quite figured it out beforehand, we need even more thoughtful design. And so what I love now is I’m not doing the logistics, I’m thinking about the culture, I’m thinking about the engagement and my role on site. So I do all this prep work ahead of time and then I’m invited on site as the connections concierge.
I run a connections lounge, which is sort of a macro networking opportunity, and I’m just there to help direct people, answer questions, make introductions, make connections, make sure people aren’t standing off in the corner by themselves. I know enough about events to just be in the right place. And every time I see a staff member, I’m like, what can I do? What can I do? You need help, what can I do? So I’m solving a problem before it becomes a problem. And I love it. And I love it. And if you work in the same community over a while, you just get to know people. So I’ve had a lot of fun doing that in person. And then virtually it’s like we don’t want to replicate what we did in person, we do want to reimagine what we did in person using all the digital and even some analog tools that are available to us. And so I’m not trying to do exactly what we did in person and bring it online, I’m trying to understand the outcome and then design the online experience with that in mind. And that will tell us whether we’re going to do polls or breakout rooms, etc.
And I’m a real fan of using as many zoom tools as possible and not all the third party because you can lose some people. And if people aren’t comfortable facilitating on mural, mural, et cetera, then they sometimes get lost themselves. So I’m really low key. I’m all about technique over tech. I bought this in December last year and I’ve never plugged it in.
Wait a minute, is it the Elgato thing?
Yeah, it’s a stream deck. Yeah. And I didn’t even know at the time that there was a six button one available because I’ve never seen the 40 and the 14. I don’t know, they’re huge and people would robbie, what do I do with all these buttons? I’m like, I don’t know. Why do you have that? I don’t know. My speaker friend told me to get it. I’m like, what are you using for? I mean, I had a woman say I have four monitors? Robbie, what are you using for? I’m like, do you have four monitors? Because you have space in your desk for four monitors. I know some people built amazing studios. I’m not that person. I got a second monitor in 2021. But I built a six figure thriving business running virtual events, and I teach speakers how to take what they have. And I already had the mic, I already had the light. There are certain basics you need to figure out, and you don’t need this microphone and fancy. But I’m just like, how do we just get a little more intentional? And I’m really focused on online facilitation. I mean, you understand this because you’ve got all these amazing tutorial videos you’ve done, but if I hear one more speaker say, Go ahead, go and chat and raise your hand, we wonder why there’s zoom fatigue.
Or they say, oh, up here in the top right corner, and they’re pointing to the top left corner. That’s the stuff that cognitive dissonance. That happens because the speakers don’t know enough about the platform to give clear instructions. I tell my speakers that if mirroring confuses their brain too much, just use words and stop pointing.
Yeah, you just stop pointing. I got to pause and ask a question because I noticed that you are in the line of your or the work that you’re doing, networking. I assume you like it and you get this level of satisfaction. So I was just wondering, because when I hear the word networking, especially as an immigrant coming from China for the first ten years, still today, I actually get really overwhelmed when I walk into a huge venue. Lots of people I’ve never been a fan, frankly, in my twenties, and especially even during the last few years, like a few years or last year or two during college. Like, now I got to do this. And I’m always exhausted. I find myself incredibly not strategic. I go into an event, I’m like, what is my purpose and intention? Oh, I even talk to my parents. I talk to as many people as you can. And of course, I always end up talking to like, one or two people. And so how do people go about thinking about designing their own experiences? How do they be prepared? There’s so many different answers and experts, like, kind of shouting at us.
Well, I think you mentioned some of the pieces, and a lot of it is about being clear in our intentions, particularly for an in person event requires way more effort to go to. So why are you going? And I think part of it is, for instance, I remember meeting professionals, international NPI. I got in my head that it would be helpful prepondemic for me to connect with them. And so I committed that I was going to go frequently enough to become a regular. Like, I could have gone to the three times over the year randomly. And I’d always be new, but that’s the strategy that most people take. But I’m always like going deep. So what I did was I actually connected with a board member beforehand and let them know I was interested in writing through a newsletter. I had content in the newsletter in January, the week before I went to my first event, I found that board member. She used me to other board members. I took selfies with all the board members. A month later, I posted the selfies on Facebook and LinkedIn because I connected them in the meantime, saying I was looking forward to seeing them.
I walked in again and again. I had another newsletter post, right? And so the thing is, you go three times with real intention, then if you don’t go the fourth month, people will still remember you. It’s the same effort to go three times in three months versus three times in a year. But if you’re really clear about what you’re trying to achieve, you can have a big impact quickly. And then when you’re not in the room, people still refer you. And so the same thing, the National Speakers Association chapter meetings. I would go to the annual conference in July, the chapter social in August, the September, October, November, December meetings. And then I think, maybe I’d go to one if that the other half of the year. But when I showed up, I donated to the auction. I bid in the auction. I caught early. I stayed late to set up. I offered to oversee something or check people in if it brought things to the potluck. I stayed after clean up for the pot luck. I did the things that made me known in that spaces and offering value, right? Like, in that way, people still the other half of the year, when I was off doing MPI, they remembered me.
It wasn’t like where’d Robbie go? And also if you meet a few people. And then now we’ve got zoom as a modality that we’re more comfortable with. I no longer wait to see people in between monthly or annual connections. Like, I would have set up a call to catch up with people so that we start to form relationships and friendships outside of the meeting. And so that’s when it really, I think, becomes something more helpful. I went to my second event for a local LGBT business chamber in my area. It was a blended event with another chamber. So, I mean, I hadn’t met very many people the first month. The first time, which had been two months earlier. And then I went. So I was like, kind of what you’re saying? Like, what’s my purpose for being here? And I had a lot of inane conversations. I had one guy who talked to me for 20 minutes and asked me a single question about myself. But as my wife pointed out, he left the conversation thinking I was fascinating. Because people think that you’re fascinating if you find them fascinating. So I left a really good impression, but the person knows nothing about me.
But I was more almost observing that moment, like, wow, people still do this?
That’s so funny.
When I realized I wanted to get to know the people running my chamber. And so in the end, I had a 20 minutes conversation with the current president and vice president and offered to help out with one of their upcoming events. That was my goal. If I happen to meet other cool people, that’s great, but I wanted to make an impression with the people. So I don’t know. I think you have to check your metrics of what’s important. I’ll give you one more thing before I pass the mic back over. Write a draft of your follow up email before you go to the event.
And that was written up in inc and in Life Hacker. I’ve talked about that before, but if you just put your brain in and you’re like, who would I hope to meet specifically or generally? What are the kind of people I’m hoping to meet? What do I want to talk to them about? What I want to know about me? And you draft that message, it just will get your brain engaged. And what I want you to notice is you don’t have to stay and stack chairs like I do. I stack chairs because I’m an extrovert who doesn’t have in the home. But that’s not everybody, and even these days, it’s not me. I’m so tired from being around people compared to how I used to be. I’m kind of getting what extroverts and introverts are different. But now I’m like, wow, I can’t appreciate the needs of me to go home. So drafting you want to send before you go to the event, get really clear on your purpose on being there. And if you set aside an hour after the event, like within a day or two to actually send fault messages, you’re more likely to do that.
And the follow up is what makes the meeting meaningful. Business cards.
Absolutely. The follow ups is key. We’re constantly trying to find the overlapping themes. I see that people are much more likely to reply to me if there’s a personal intro. Oh, we both know dorie, Clark. We belong to the Rexer group. Oh, I graduated from Asthc and Adelaidenba. Also on Cohort number eight. Like, people all of a sudden have trust you that much more. I’m so curious. The reason why I want to jump in on that question is because what were you like as a kid? Did you always have these qualities and skills and interests as a kid?
You’re taking a page out of my interview book. I love it. Payback my father had a flea market business when the age was, like, eight and a half and 14 and a half. I got to go to that and I love being around people. By the time I was ten I was being paid to work there, by the time I was twelve I was hustling and making $100 sales and carrying the stuff to the car to get a $2 tip so I can go buy a hot chocolate. It was the Christmas mayhem that all hands on deck but I’ve always been that. But I also can say that I had an easier connection with adults than I did peers and I have memories of being at camp. I went to daycamp and so I didn’t sleep away but I went to daycamp and at twelve years old I wasn’t old enough to be a counselor, to be 13, to be a counselor in training, but I don’t know. Again, I helped out in the office, I helped out in the kitchen, I helped out in the art studio. The art teacher didn’t show up and I ran it for two weeks before they noticed because I finally said we need some more supplies.
That same summer I went up to a group, to a bagel of campers and my adult brain will say they didn’t see me but my child brain felt like I wasn’t being invited in, that I was being excluded and so I have a lot of feelings of like oh, I don’t know if I belong here, I don’t know if I fit in. Now, over the next 1020 years I came out as queer and trans and I don’t know whether that was part of some of that, but I was an overweight kid but I do think like, I was never shy, I was never introverted but did I belong? Did I fit in? And so I tend to host as a way of creating a space that I would be welcomed but I host in a way that includes other people as well and I’ve always been a fan of bringing people from all walks of life so I often had friends in lots of different circles in high school and by then I started to find my people. I think that’s part of what helped me feel connected and feel like I belong but I love bringing them all together and doing mashup parties and people would connect with ordinary I wouldn’t have and I still it’s sort of my fun hobby.
What do you mean by mashup parties?
I’ll use vernacular here so the nerds and the jocks and the geek and the music like the rock band guys and I had friends in all these different circles and I felt like a bit of a chameleon who could sort of fit in all these different places. I didn’t know if any of them were all of me but I didn’t have a problem with it. I started defining in a really empowering way that instead of being like oh, I don’t fit in, it was more like oh look, I can fit in all these places, but I would have a party where I would invite people from all these social circles and create the opportunity for people to get to know each other.
Do they like it?
Normally, yeah. I went to a really big high school where you had a graduating class of 1300, so you could really not know other people if you didn’t travel in those social circles.
So interesting. I wonder if anyone ever felt like they belong. There’s always one kid that everybody loves in school. I want to interview one of those people because I think all of us feel at one point maybe still today, kind of alone, isolated, don’t fit in. Do you know anybody who actually fits in?
Well, you know what’s funny about that? I just got off a get to know you call with someone who won the highest honors at an event that I was at, and she’s been part of this group for a very long time. She’s always person whose name I knew. I always liked her up on stage, and we were finally having one to one, and she was saying how she’s not sure she fits in. She’s been going there for almost 20 years and how, like, there are nights where she doesn’t get invited to dinner. She ends up back in a room by herself. And I’m like, you know, and it’s the stories we tell ourselves, and it’s not that people are snubbing us, so because I don’t want to wait for the invitation that may or may not come. There was a couple of years before the Pandemic, we had an event that was in Disney in Orlando, and we got tickets to Epcot for the day after the conference. And I spent two days lining up eight people to go, me and seven others to go to Epcot with me because I would not want to walk around upcoming by myself.
That’s not something I would enjoy. And when we all met up in the lobby, they didn’t know each other. Each person was so grateful that I had created the space, and they’re, like, giving me accolades. And I’m like, just to be clear, I’m doing this with self preservation. Like, this is a coping mechanism. I’m really glad you’re here, but it was perfect. We went around together. We had eight people for dinner. To me, I don’t know, people are going to remember to invite me, or they’re going to assume I already have plans or whatever it is, and so I tend to both make the effort. But the other thing I did this last time I went to the National Speaker Association conference is I started a text thread with a community of people, and when people were looking for plans, they just texted and then got invited to join dinners last minute and stuff. So I love that I was creating a tool that I didn’t have to be the one to introduce people or I didn’t do the one who organized a list of people to go to a specific dinner that they were able to connect with each other.
And so I’m all about democratizing this effort as well and giving people the opportunity to be hosts and guests themselves.
I think that I love the childhood stories and all these eminem’s that kind of lead to how you are today. I think the baby Robbie is exactly the same as the grown up Robbie, which is awesome for speaking of consistency, and I want to really mention the recent giveaway that you started for a variety of reasons. I know, you know, we don’t have all day to chat. I think we really can. I feel like I’m missing now on something for not spending more time together with you, is that recently you started the thing, and I think I even want to pull it up real quick. Let’s see if I can actually share my screen right here. Unable to share. Okay. Like, I need to add a source or something, but I’m going to actually leave a link for people who are checking out. So this thing you started, which is called your Next Chapter Starter Pack giveaway between August 18 and August 26 of 2022. So we have about, like, a little over a week left at this point. At the beginning, I was little, I was like, wow, what is this? I didn’t quite get it.
But the moment that you kicked it off, it was really great. For people who are not, like, one of the nine experts who are part of this campaign, this giveaway, we’re all kind of individually operating on our own. Just imagine us kind of doing our hard work as creative entrepreneurs, as coaches, as speakers. And Robbie, you’re the reason. You kind of, like, brought us together, and you provided us with different email templates, social media, copy for us to consider. And I take it. It just makes my rewrite repurpose much easier, and it’s very activating. But really, it’s been over a week, like, ten days or so. I’m looking at my email list. It’s growing interesting. Conversations are starting. So I gotta say, I was like, whoa, how come I didn’t think of this? So a lot to break down here. So, number one, let’s start with why are you starting this? Why are you trying to help people who are thinking about starting a business but maybe a little afraid or don’t know where to start?
So the concept is called a giveaway. I have participated in three, and it’s the first one that I’m organizing myself, and I will say the first of many because I have full intention to continue doing it, and I’ve really enjoyed it. And each contributor, each expert has a lead magnet that they share, and they have their own landing page to convert people into their list and deliver that lead magnet. What I’m doing is creating a meta landing page that people opt into to get access to each of those resources. And then the people can decide which of those nine lead magnets they want to opt into receiving. And I’ve been on Giveaways that has 30 plus people. I’ve been on Giveaways that were less focused, that were a mix of nonprofit and sales and everything under the sun. And I wanted what I was doing to be really sort of honed in and focused. And I work with entrepreneurial women, not exclusively, but primarily, who were in their fifty s and beyond, who are looking to grow their impact and income through some kind of new revenue stream. And I thought about, this is the coaching part of my business, and I thought about what would they need before, during and after working with me?
What are the questions they have? And so the nine experts include people helping you write and publish a book, people who help you with LinkedIn, with getting on podcasts. It’s just all the stuff like for you, it’s like managing YouTube strategy. My friends talking about resilience to keep going with all this. And so I wanted to give the people who are looking to kind of grow their next chapter. So I think pretty much all the people I’ve worked with have been later in life, again, not exclusively, but they’re really committed to creating something new based on their expertise. And that’s the next chapter. And then the starter pack is that I want people to be selective about which of these resources they download. Because if you have 33 options, which somebody had, and you choose nine, now you’re on nine new email lists, which basically means you probably ignore all of them. It’s overwhelming you just like you unsubscribe. So I want to be nine to twelve experts where you’ll select three or four and then you’ll actually stay in touch with those three or four. Now, if YouTube wasn’t the thing they need to work on right now, they don’t download your resource, but they put it in their head, robbie knows someone who knows YouTube strategy.
And then when they need that, they’ll say, robbie, who was the person you knew? And then I’d make an introduction. So it’s like, I want people to act on the thing that’s the next thing they need. Instead of getting all caught up in shiny objects or noble obstacles that aren’t actually revenue directing, they’re going to get in the way of creating good revenue ideas. So that is the reason for doing it. I’m doing it again in the beginning of November. I’m going to run it again with a different cast of experts. And I also want to say I just love the idea of boosting the visibility of smart people. And I made a list of all the things I wanted and then made a list of all the people that could do that. And then I also had a list of people that I thought, oh, I wasn’t sure which of your things I was like, faye is somebody I’d want to invite to do this. They will let me know what’s the tool that you could support? And I do. Follow Friday as a hashtag. Follow Friday every week. And I just love finding new ways to kind of boost up the people in my networks.
This seemed like a great, fun, collaborative way to do it. And I highly recommend people steal the idea.
Yeah, I was just actually been thinking about that for a week and a half now. And you mentioned avoid shiny objects, which is a topic inside your book, small list, Big results. I love that topic. I love the title, the idea, the belief, if I’m behind it because I’m on to someone who believe in and I write about profitable small creators. A lot of people think you gotta make money only when you reach half a million, a million subscribers or more. Sometimes the opposite is true. You know, I know people have much smaller lists and, you know, smaller followings actually generate multiple of what I do. So what are some of the shiny objects, Robbie, people should really pay attention to so they can avoid them?
Well, I think that what happens is people misdiagnose the problem of what’s getting in their way and growing their business. And when that happens, they then go about implementing a solution or seeking an expert who will sell them a solution that is not the right thing. So, for instance, if you think the reason you’re not getting enough sales is you don’t have a big enough list, and by this I mean email list. And by the way, big is the eye of the beholder. 5000 for one person is huge, for someone else’s, tiny. But whatever it is, you decided, oh, that’s the issue. So you decide that you need to boost your emails. So you’re going to run Facebook ads and then you’ll find a person who will help you run Facebook ads. Now, that person is not a business strategist. So they don’t stop to ask you questions about whether this makes sense. They just tell you on how to set up Facebook ads. But if you’re directing Facebook ads or any kind of ad to a landing page, that is not converting because it is the wrong message to the wrong audience, you’re wasting money and time.
And so I just think a lot of times when people get excited about building some kind of new solution, new offer, new product or service, they are doing it sort of in their own head or they’re tinkering in the basement and they can go away and figure something out. And then when they show up to the marketplace, the marketplace is like, who are you? What is this? I don’t need this. And we’re like, Lord, because we know people need this, but people don’t know they need this because the people have a different understanding of what the problem is. We are experts, so we have a bigger vantage point. So we see the bigger problem. We’re creating a big solution. The people we are trying to serve, they don’t see that they have a problem. Some would call it a symptom. They’re very symptom aware. I call that little pee problem because I think calling it a symptom is not putting ourselves in the shoes of those people. They don’t think of it as a symptom. They think it is a problem. It’s just a little problem. And so you have to think about how can you offer people this is what lead magnets can really do a great job.
Offer people solution to a little problem, but educate them that there is a bigger problem. Do not make them think that your 1 hour lunch and learn is going to solve everything. But if you can in that conversation, whether it’s a sales call, I get to know you call an email list with social posts. If you can help them understand that bigger, like, oh wow, I didn’t realize that was what was going on. They’re going to think, wow, well you’re the one who helped to find this. Give me suggestions. And that’s where you can bring people along into buying those bigger priced solutions, maybe more time intensive solutions, but we jump that gun and we skip to that and we spend money. Another one would be recording tons of video content for an online course that you have not sold anyone into.
How many people think that that’s necessary that they have? I mean, I did this in 2015. I went and bought some sort of learning management system. I think it was Thinkific. I didn’t have an online course. Why did I need to pay for thinkific I scaled back. And then meanwhile, when I did my certification program in 2020, I mean, nothing was on my website. I did it all through Google Docs and I have fresh books and I was like taking money through PayPal. I mean, whatever. I just think we get ahead of ourselves. And you need just a few things to really launch something. You need a problem that people are wanting to solve. The people who want to solve it a way to teach them, like a way to communicate the information and a way to charge them.
Yeah, please go ahead.
That’s it. Conclusion. That actually reminds me how brilliant this whole giveaway this collaboration is. Because not only you know what works for you and your business, you’re introducing other experts. So if you see a trend or recurring questions of wow, like this LinkedIn Magnet is really working, this LinkedIn coaching and there’s resilience coaching, that really works for me. And that will give you as an organizer, an idea how to connect with us creators, but something to, maybe something to kind of pinpoint and break through in your own business as well. I think it’s really fascinating. Like one I know there were almost a time, but can you go over five minutes?
I can go over like three minutes. I have a call at 35 after. But I want to mention that there’s something I’m doing that I haven’t seen other giveaways do, and this is my own little twist that I want to encourage other people to do, is I’ve already invited all the contributors to a Debrief call in September, which is part Debrief. Like, how did we all do and learn lessons learned and all that, but these are all people that should know each other.
I’m going to create an opportunity for as many people that can be there live as possible to actually start building either new or deeper relationships with each other. They’ve all been part of this now for like, three weeks. They’re like, oh, I actually been talking about your stuff. So that I think that will help us build those networks. Referrals will be stronger. And so I’m excited. It’s sort of like I’m doing all this to have that really cool event where we hang out together.
Lovely. I actually think it’s super lovely to end on that note. And I think it’s beautiful that you’re experimenting so much and I encourage people to check it out. All the links are in the description below, including how to connect with Robbie, and we shall continue the conversation in the near future, for sure.
Awesome being here.
Thank you so much, Robbie. I’m going to take us offline now. Bye, guys.
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