Episode 125

Leading with Value! – w/ Alex Sanfilippo

Published: January 27, 2023

Episode Details

Alex Sanfilippo

Founder, PodPros.com

Alex Sanfilippo (Founder, PodPros.com) is the host of the top-rated podcast called Podcasting Made Simple. He is also the founder of PodPros.com, a software company focused specifically on the podcasting industry. Alex and his team have created popular services like PodMatch, a service that matches podcast guests and hosts together for interviews, and PodcastSOP, a project management tool that helps podcasters keep up with their episode releases.

John St.Pierre: Entrepreneurs today, we’re sitting down with Alex Sanfilippo, the founder of podmatch.com, a service Rich that we use here at Entrepreneurs United. What did you gain from today’s conversation?

Rich Hoffmann:  Yeah, he’s excellent. I loved hearing his story, his philosophy of leading with value, and then also who should get in the podcasting and who should be a guest.  I thought those were all really interesting.

John St.Pierre: Yeah, absolutely. And whether you’re interested in podcasting or being a podcast guest, or not, it doesn’t matter. Cause we have a lot of lessons from Alex Sanfilippo as an entrepreneur himself and growing his businesses over the years. So, without further ado, here’s Alex Sanfilippo

Alex, welcome to the Entrepreneurs United Podcast. Excited to have you on today.

Alex Sanfilippo: Yeah. John, thank you so much for having me, and Rich appreciate it as well. We’ve had some great dialogue before we even got started, so I’m already really looking forward to this conversation today.

John St.Pierre: Absolutely. Well, I’ll tell you what I’m very humbled to have you on we as a podcast you know, I guess podcasters, I should say use your platform PodMatch to find other podcast guests that would be great for our episode and use it a lot. And was really excited to hear that as a founder of PodMatch.

We have you on our podcast and so can’t wait to hear more about your entrepreneurial roots cause I’ve learned a little bit about that just. Getting to know you in your bio and profile but then also you started this pod match company in the middle of the Covid crisis in 2020. And it’s grown exponentially since then and you’ve, developed a lot of tools for podcasters.

So can’t wait to just jump right in. But before we jump into what you do today, I really wanna dive into, You were a really young entrepreneur and really got your, you know, your, your licks in there early. and I’d like to learn a little bit more about that and, and your journey as an entrepreneur.

Cause you’ve kind of gone from entrepreneur to corporate, back to entrepreneurism. Love to learn a little bit more about that journey.

Alex Sanfilippo: Yeah, sure. First off, thank you so much for, for using PodMatch that that means so much to me. I mean, we are like, we’re a community before anything else, and that’s why I consider it.

So anytime I get to talk to somebody who is also part of the community like that, that’s exciting for me. So thank you. I’m honored and humbled that you all would use it, so really, really appreciate it. Going back to my story, yeah. I got started at the age of 10. Which for a lot of people listening, they’re like, what, 10 years old?

To keep that story somewhat brief. At 10, I, I’ll never forget it, across the street from our neighborhood that I grew up in all the neighborhood kids would go across the street cuz there was a golf course and all of our parents said, don’t go on the golf course. So what do you think we did? We bee-lined straight for the golf course.

And one day I was out there, I picked up a golf ball. There was one just sitting there, there was no golfer there. I picked it up, I was looking at it, and then someone drives by on a cart and says, Hey kid, what does that golf ball say on it? I was like, Titleist Pro V1 and he goes, I’ll give you $3 for it. And I made that exchange and in that moment, a light bulb went off.

And I don’t know if I had leadership potential at that point, but I was the kid holding $3. And because of that, the other kids were like, what do we do next? I’m like, we go find more golf balls and we sell them to golfers every Saturday morning. We have time instead of lemonade because I’m tired of making $4 on a weekend.

Right, so basically that was more or less my introduction to realizing what I really loved. And at that point in my life, I was very self-aware, for a 10 year old kid. I knew that I wasn’t as good as other kids were at school, sports, video games. My brothers were musicians. I wasn’t. But as soon as I started doing this, which is weird, right?

10-year-old kids sell golf balls to golfers. But I realized that I was in a strength zone of mine. I was able to manage the rest of the kids in the neighborhood. Right. Yeah. I was able to categorize things. I, I learned how to talk to an adult when they’re trying to negotiate with a 10-year-old kid.

Right? Which, first off, what were they doing anyway, but like, I digress on that. But regardless, I learned these skills at that young age, and that only lasted a couple years. I mean, you can only get away with selling someone a golf ball with their initials on while you’re cute. Once you’re not cute anymore, they’re like, kid, gimme that golf ball back.

Right? So yeah. Realistically, somebody bought us out. I think that they had kids and they wanted them to sell golf balls, so they just bought all of them that we had and it was a couple thousand golf balls at that point. And yeah, that was like my introduction. Here’s the thing, like I learned a lot from that experience.

I can’t necessarily give you like a bunch of tangibles, cuz at that point I wasn’t self-aware enough to say, here’s like the 10 business lessons I learned. However, I can tell you that it was the first time that a light bulb went off. It’s the first time I had a spark. It made me realize. I love this business thing and it’s the one lane that I’m aware of, that I know that I’m really good at and, and my life kind of projected forward from there.

This again may be an odd story, but kind of fun. I enjoy sharing that story for asking about that.

John St.Pierre: I love it. I can tell, I know exactly why they started negotiating with the 10 year old because the $3 golf ball started becoming $5 being $10. And they’re like, kid, I’m not buying this $50 golf ball from you.

Right, right. As an entrepreneur would do. Right? So that’s fantastic. So where did that evolve from there, right? So you continue on, you cut your entrepreneurial road roots. You’re like, I really love this entrepreneurism thing. Where did that lead you to as you, as you got a little older?

Alex Sanfilippo: Yeah, so for a little bit I discovered eBay really quick and back then that was kind of like the only thing that you could use. The first time I bought something on there I wanted some GI Joes. Like I think they were three and a half inch or four inch GI Joes or something like that.

And I love playing with action figures and stuff as a kid, but I realized the hard to find. , if you buy ’em in bulk, you can get a better deal, but then if you sell them individually, you can make money. So I just started literally buying and flipping things, starting with action figures on, on eBay.

And I found other things and as I got older, I made bigger investments and, and bought things in bulk. Found places you could get distribution from more or less business arbitrage, I guess what you call it. But like, I, I didn’t, I didn’t do a lot of that. It was just something that was always fun for me.

So while I was a high school student, I did a lot of and I actually ended up doing something in real estate as well. I, I did virtual tours of homes, which now is pretty common, but basically back then, I mean, we’re going back to 2004. Mm-hmm. , and it was basically, you take, I’d have photographers take pictures of a room in a house and you could just drag your mouse and look at the roof.

You could spin it all around 365-degree view. Back then, it was super innovative. We were really one of the few companies that I know of that were doing things like that. And I, this is while I was in high school and, and I just built this up and I had people that were doing editing. I had photographers. I worked out of my home.

I was working at home long before that was really a thing. But I love doing that. and to, to kind of fast forward this story into getting into like, cuz you, you mentioned Yeah. I went from entrepreneur to corporate. Yeah. How I got there was, as soon as I turned 18, I really fell in love with real estate because it’s what I was seeing all day.

I was looking at these tours and asking questions to the photographers being like, why did they convert that room later? Like, what was that like? Are they running the place? I just started asking things and as soon as I could, I invested my first real estate, a piece of property and I was so excited.

And this was 2006, I didn’t have the foresight to see what was about to happen. So I went from, man I, got rid of that, like that business where I was starting to, like, I was talking about getting rid of it, selling it, and I started investing in real estate. I had a rental property and then the economy just, I mean the real estate economy, just got destroyed. And in that moment, that business that I had was no longer worth anything. We went from doing 30 some-odd tours a day to maybe one or two a week and my investment property, I ended up having to move into it because it was either that or the bank was gonna take it, like I couldn’t, couldn’t afford it anymore.

So it was one of those things I just had to like, I had to make some big decisions. And at that point in my life, it, it’s not that I gave up on entrepreneurship, but I realized I probably needed a change. But that, that’s kind of my, my years leading up to my early twenties.

John St.Pierre: Let’s talk about that because it’s funny, I was just thinking about this as you were talking about it, buying real estate in that 2007 period is almost similar to if I decided to start a real estate business today. Ironically, righ, real estate prices are very high at some point that may burst down.

And so you can kind of relate to this moment in time imagining saying, Hey, let’s start a real estate business and go buy like real expensive top of the market real estate at high interest rates. Isn’t that a good idea? ? Like, let’s go do that. Right? So it’s an interesting parallel to where we stand today.

But, I wanna dive a little bit and double down into that. Obviously, your route took you to where you are today and all the learnings you had, within that. But for somebody who had gained a lot of confidence in entrepreneurism and probably said, you know what, I’m gonna be the next, Google, Facebook, whatever, I’m gonna really, maybe in real estate, rich Dad, poor Dad, or whatever it may be, because, I’m sure you’re reading those books in those times, like Rich and I were how did, how did you digest that setback to be like,

I thought I had this entrepreneurism thing figured out. Now I’m gonna go get a job and stabilize myself a little bit. Cause I’m, I’m outta college now. I gotta earn money. How did you digest that process within yourself?

Alex Sanfilippo: Yeah, and to go back, I didn’t wanna be the next Google or Apple or, or anything like that.

What was really interesting to me though, I was in a dentist’s office and I was, waiting, and this is, back before you didn’t play around on your cell phone. Like, you had your phone out, you were doing something like you’re calling somebody.

That was it. So I was like sitting there and I saw Forbes 30 under 30. And man, that instantly I saw that, I’m like, that’s gonna be me. I’m gonna do it in real estate’s gonna be my my vehicle. Long story short, that didn’t happen. I’m actually really okay with that. My ego needed to take a little of a hit which has been good for me for being humble is, is a much happier way to live.

That’s a side note there and a bonus for everybody listening today. But at, at that point, I just like, yeah, it took, I took a hit of my ego for sure, but I just realized, I need something that’s a little bit more stable, I think, at least temporarily. And I happened to reach out to my dad who was, also an entrepreneur, and I told him , and, and you mentioned school.

I actually never finished college cuz this point, that’s when I was taking classes and because I took such a hit, I couldn’t afford both. It was one or the other. And I was like, I’ve already got the real estate investment. I’m gonna have to , just kind of dig my way out of this for now.

And so I told my dad, listen, I’m not taking any more. Classes and I need your help. I’m like, I know that my, my dad came, he’s an aerospace guy know you have a name in the industry. Can you get me, can you get me a job somewhere? Like I just need something that’s stable.

And he told me that industry was still holding very strong wanna get in to something that’s stable so I can like build a better foundation for myself. And he’s like, I can get you an interview. That’s it. So I was like, all right. So I got an interview. I ended up taking a job that was a part-time receiving clerk position at a parts manufacturing company.

And that’s code for, I broke down boxes and took out people’s trash and that’s what I was doing. And like I said, it was a humbling experience, but probably the best experience I could have ever had that I needed to have because I needed something to wake me up. I wasn’t invincible and I felt like I was, cuz everything I did up to that point was actually pretty successful, which for an entrepreneur.

I mean, it’s like you swing 10 times, you hit once. Right? That’s how it usually goes. And I was, I was doing very well, but I needed that level of humility. And at that point, like I said, no more school took a really like just entry level job. It was a humbling experience for me, for sure.

But again, one of the best experiences and things I’m most thankful for in my life.

Rich Hoffmann:  What you just said is you mentioned my ego took a hit, and humble is a happier way to live. I’d love to hear from you.

What did you believe about yourself, and then what do you now, what have you learned to believe about yourself?

Alex Sanfilippo: What I believed about myself initially. This is a really, this is a really good question, Rich. I’m glad that you asked this. What I believed about myself then was that I was invincible really, at the end of the day, I was invincible and I had a bit of an entitlement attitude as well, if you could. At that point, I bought a nice car.

It was like a fancy sports car, especially for being 18 years old or 19 years old, whatever I was, I had a really fancy girlfriend. My friends were all doing really well, all that stuff. That’s kinda like where I was. and man, I, I felt invincible and I felt like I was kind of entitled to what I had cause, I worked hard and I was smarter than the average person, right? Like, those are the things that I really believed and felt. And as soon as that took a hit, it’s interesting, hard times. Show you who your real friends are, right? The car didn’t make sense for me anymore. I couldn’t, couldn’t keep that.

And the girlfriend was only really interested if I had the money and the car, . And the friends were like, Ooh, Alex, in a bad place, I don’t really wanna deal with that. I realized at that point I’m like, man, everything that I thought, like I thought was invincible. I’m clearly not. And also I felt entitled.

But really that was all false. It was just luck at the end of the day. Maybe blessing, whatever you wanna call it. Like it was just, it just happened. And. For the first time ever, I was having to come into my own and show my true colors of who am I gonna be when times are tough. Cuz at the end of the day, I believe that the person that we actually are is who we are when we’re going through something difficult.

Not when you’re on cloud nine. When you’re on cloud nine, we can all be happy and smile all the time, but when you’re having a rough time, that’s who you really are. And for the first time I was having to come to terms with that and look at myself in the mirror and I’ll, I’ll be honest, it was very uncomfortable for me to do that.

Rich Hoffmann: Thanks for that. Talk to me now. The juxtaposition. That’s who you thought you were. You thought you were invincible. You had a fancy car, you had a great girlfriend. You worked hard. You knew that you were smart at some level. All that made you feel like the world owed it to you. Today based on your quote of Humble, is a happier way to live today.  Presumably, you don’t feel that way about yourself. Can you describe today how you feel about yourself? Yeah definitely. What do you believe?

Alex Sanfilippo: First and foremost, if I go back to that time when I was getting into that job, and it was a humbling experience, right? Being this guy who felt like he was doing a lot to breaking down boxes and taking out people’s trash part-time guy, right?

Like that, that, that was humbling, like I said, and I kind of walked around, defeated for a little bit, but I had an experience at that. At like the new house, not the new house. The place I had to move into that was supposed to be an investment property, right? Got something in the mail one day, and this is back in the day when we would look at our mail and it wasn’t always a bill, it was something that might be interesting.

And it was actually a flyer for a church that was down the street and I, I knew it was down the street cause I looked at the address, I’m like, oh shoot, that’s like, I could walk there. Like I know where this is. This is right down the street. And it was for a young adults ministry. And I was like, I’m a young adult.

Like I might as well go. I grew up in church, but I kind of got away from it in my late teens and into my, my early twenties at this point. And when I walked in, I remember thinking to myself, these people are gonna judge me so hard because I’m a failure. Like that was my first thought. As soon as someone’s like, what do you do?

I’m gonna tell I’m a part-time receiving clerk. You know, like not excited about that. And it was one of those things where, As soon as I did, I realized that the people that were there weren’t judging me For that they really did love and appreciate me for who I was. And in many ways that helped me develop a relationship with God.

And ultimately that’s how I redefined who I was and realized I need to walk in humility. I need to come from a place of service and I, I need to just be happy and joyful no matter what happens. The circumstance that happened . Sure. Maybe a few people could have called that real estate crash.

But most of us couldn’t. And so we just, I, what I needed to learn to do is roll with the punches, and I’ll tell you what, it changed my entire life. So like I, I just changed this, like, this mentality of I’m gonna walk in humility, I’m gonna walk in a place of service toward other people and being just full of gratitude for whatever happens in my life. And yeah there’s tough days where it’s like, man, this sucks. Right? But at the end of the day, I need to just remember that I firmly believe that because I’m following Jesus, I’m going to be taken care of at the end of the day. I know like this is an entrepreneur’s United podcast, not a not Faith United podcast, right?

So but we don’t need to dive too deep into that. But for me, that’s been the foundation of my life. And at that point, that was like a really pivotal point. I went from that real low to redefining myself through my faith in Jesus. And that’s what really kind of set me forward in, in that career.

Rich Hoffmann:  So you went from this kinda, the world owes it.

To me. Feeling to almost, I owe the world something. I wanna walk in service and humility, and it’s my responsibility to be happy and joyful. What is your expectation on what life owes you today?

Alex Sanfilippo: I mean, nothing at this point, honestly. I’ve had so many people like, just gracious and great to me and John Rich, when we started, the first thing y’all did was talk about something that, that, that I did and how we can, how, how it’s helped you guys out.

Like that’s, that’s amazing. I don’t feel like anybody or anything, , I’m not owed anything at this point. And I’m very thankful to have done well as an entrepreneur and I did well in corporate as well. But I don’t feel there’s anything owed at the end of the day. I’m just trying my best to continuously give back and to, to lead with value is really, If I could put it down in just a single sentence there, like to lead with value is what I seek to do.

So really nothing. I’m just showing up and doing my best to contribute to make the world a better place every single day. When I say the world, I mean one person’s life that can actually impact cuz that’s really all I’m capable of doing.

Rich Hoffmann:How do you lead with value today?

Alex Sanfilippo: So everything that I do, like you all probably get this, like with, with Pod Match or anything else.

Our goal is to make sure that if somebody’s paying us for something, that they’re getting more out of it than, than we’re taking from them. And so everything we do, we make sure to constantly be reaching out, chatting with people, figuring out how we can improve, how we can make it better. So for me it’s, Hey, I’m gonna show up to serve, not to be served.

Like what can we do to help someone? Obviously there’s the byproduct in business of you bring profit. But I always say that like profit isn’t the first initiative. It’s the second one after the value that we add it’s the reward for us actually paying it out that way. Right. Or like paying it forward, if you will.

And so I know that’s kind of like a, a lot that I said there, but it’s just really important to me that again, we lead with that value and that just means, hey, we’re gonna show up in a way that we’re giving more than we’re ever taking. And I just do my best in my own personal. To really reflect that every single day, even in the small things, cuz it helps just penetrate and impact that mindset on a bigger level.

Rich Hoffmann:  Makes sense. Let’s dig into PodMatch just a little bit. John and I are familiar with PodMatch. I wouldn’t say either of us could rattle off statistics on, you know, what is the business and how many users and can you describe PodMatch and how many users do you have?

How many matches do you create? Like what is the current span of influence that you have with PodMatch?

Alex Sanfilippo: Yeah, definitely. I appreciate the opportunity to even talk about that. I’m actually gonna, I’m pulling up. As we’re talking here, I’m pulling up podmatch.com because we actually post that on the homepage and that’s the, I’m not wanting to dive too deep into the data.

Other people do that on my behalf, but I can actually just, we put on the homepage so that Alex could see it when he needs to share it with somebody. . So , we like to be transparent like that. So first off, pod match, like what it is at its core, it’s a software that automatically matches ideal podcast guests and hosts together for interviews.

It works very similar to a dating app but instead of connecting people for dates, it connects ’em for podcast interviews. So if I wanna talk about being a .start being a startup founder. It’ll find me a podcast that says we’re looking for a startup founder to share their story and it’ll make that connection. And it’s not just business.

We have like, all kinds of things. We have like comedians. We have a, a very big golf network inside there. I don’t golf, so, but I sold golf balls, so maybe I should be on some of those shows. Who knows . But we’ve got people that actually, like, they are either golf professionals or they are coaches or they run tours.

I don’t know all that stuff. So it’s very, at this. Covers a a multitude, and right now I’m looking at the homepage as we’re sharing this. Anybody can at any point can go to podmatch.com. Scroll down a little bit, you’ll see these same numbers. So we’ve generated just over 48,000 interviews among 13,000 members, just over 13,000 members, and 72 interviews happened in the last 24 hours alone.

Those are, those are kind of our numbers, and at one point we had more people, but again, like going back to leading with value, we’re very big on purging, for lack of a better term, our member base. So we don’t call anybody users like again, we have that mindset of these are our members, this is a community, we’re in it together.

But if someone’s there and they’re not responding to anything, they’re not showing up, they’re inactive, they stop podcasting, we actually automatically have our system remove those people. So we’ve removed, at one point, I believe we had 28,000 people on the platform, but we cut it down to just the ones that are active, that are actively using it.

And we did some outreach. We’re not deleting people and being like, sorry about your luck, right? Like, we’re not doing that. We’re making sure that they’re actually gone., They decide they’re not gonna podcast anymore. They’re done being a guest. And so, I hope to always keep that number fairly low because that’s how you make it a powerful community when it’s highly engaged, that’s really important to me personally.

Rich Hoffmann:Hmm. Is PodMatch successful?

Alex Sanfilippo:  Yes. Yeah.

Rich Hoffmann:  How do you know j

Alex Sanfilippo: Again, looking at the. 48,000 interviews. Those are interviews that have actually been published and released. So there might be even more in the queue at this point, but to me, that’s what it’s all about.

If we can help people get these episodes out, most of which 99% of them are in some way, shape or form, helping a listener go further, faster in their life. Man, I, I feel like we’ve made a huge impact. I don’t need to be mentioned in those interviews. I don’t care about that. It’s successful because we’ve helped 48,000 interviews go out.

Again, if one life is impacting each of those, that’s huge. Like you could change the world with something like that. And that’s my metric of success with it. Like I said, I don’t dive too deep in the numbers. A lot of people think I’m like a crazy founder. I can’t tell you exactly what we make. I know we have enough to pay the bills and to pay our staff and to pay out podcast hosts cuz we, we do a, a rev share with our hosts.

And at the end of the day, if all those numbers are green, I just see all those, those flags, I don’t really need to know the rest. It’s maybe not my business. Cause I don’t want greed to, to settle in there and be like, well, can we make more? Right. But yeah. Sorry to answer your question in a very long way, we’re successful because we’re helping people release episodes.

Rich Hoffmann:Yeah. And to your point earlier,

That’s not your focus, it isn’t pushing the green higher, pushing the profit higher. Right? Your focus is value. So I, I hear you. So long as all those numbers are green, you can stay focused on value and just keep giving.

Alex Sanfilippo: Yeah and again, that, that’s, that’s exactly it.

That’s how I like to live my life. It’s how I like to run the business. And again, I’m not, I’m not a stupid founder. If something in there changes from green to a yellow, I’m going to dive into all the analytics at that point, and that’s when I’m fresh. I’m like, okay, what’s happening? Let’s figure this out.

Here’s where we need to make a fix. Here’s where I need to do some more outreach. Here’s where we need more sales and marketing. , but if everything’s green, it’s like, Hey, let’s take care of the people that are trusting us today and do better and better for them, and they’ll help bring more people to the platform.

And that’s the network effect we’ve had since day one. We’ve actually never done a paid advertisement or anything like that. It’s just, I’m not against it. We just haven’t needed to. We’re just gonna, we’re gonna take care of the people that are trusting us right now, and if everything stays in the green, then we’ll keep on working with them.

John St.Pierre: Alex, I I’m so happy that we had a chance to meet because, I feel like my story, although much different than yours, connects at so many different points. Where you as the real estate crash, I had a.com crash that sent me spiraling you know, going, oh man, I thought I had this world figured out you know, with stock options, this and that, and the other thing.

And, and ended up, you know, taking a job you know, trying to refine myself. Get back to entrepreneurism. But I didn’t learn the lesson enough the first time. I still thought I was invincible. I still thought I could grow it to where I wanted to grow it. And crashed and burned an over 50 million business and lost everything after 17 years of building it.

And I had that moment of moving from invincible. Oh, I guess I’m not invincible. This was in 2019. Took a full year sabbatical, had to rewire myself much like you did. And all the things you talk about here hit me pretty deep, right? I needed that level of humility. I needed to get. That knockdown punch to really, you know, wake me up like you said.

So I, I connect so hard with that. I even connect with hard times. We’ll show you who your true friends truly are. I learned that lesson pretty deeply as well. So really connecting with a lot of the stuff that you’re talking about. And I really love what you talk about in terms of. Providing service, not having expectations of what people owe you and living in a zone of happiness because, you know, if you don’t have expectations of what people are gonna do for you, then you can’t be disappointed, is what Rich would always say.

Right? So I, I really love that and everything you talked about there really connect with it. And and share a lot of that same stuff. And Rich PodMatch. I mean the statistics you’re hearing about, this is a 2020 launch , so this is a three year old launch. And obviously podcasting is something that has been growing.

And Alex, I would hate to have you on this conversation and not take some of your expertise to help see if we can improve our podcast for a few minutes. And I also think there’s a lot of people that listen to this, that may have thought about starting their own podcast as well. So first off, For those who are thinking about starting a podcast you know, one of the benefits I think Rich and I have is not only have we been friends for 25 years we don’t really have a product we’re trying to sell here.

We’re trying, as you are to make an impact and to give and for us, For him and I to connect every week to have a conversation like this, to reconnect with a friend, a best friend is a no-brainer for us. We could do this forever. I think a lot of people start podcasts maybe with the wrong intentions of what it can do for them, and they go seven or eight or 10 or 15 in deep and they’re like, ah, I’m not making the money that I thought I was gonna make doing this.

Can you talk to us about why someone should start a podcast, what their intentions should probably be and where you’ve seen that success?

Alex Sanfilippo: Mean, John, you said it all right there. I mean, like what you and Rich are doing here, like, that’s the right way to start it. A podcast should, unless it is like a branded podcast, which means a podcast specifically for a product or service or business already exists, that’s different.

But if you’re an individual saying, I think I wanna do a podcast, it needs to come from a place of it being a hobby. It needs to be interesting to you. And you two know this, as soon as you get into it, you realize why I’m saying that, because it’s a lot more work than you think. Mm-hmm. , when we’re done. I’m gonna go get something to eat and I’m done.

And you all are, you and your teams are going to talk about when it’s coming out, what needs to be edited, what Alex said that was ridiculous, right? Like all the things that you have to do. There’s a lot of work involved is that labor of love is what I call it, but it’s a labor of love that works if it’s a hobby.

So the first thing I always tell people is, you gotta get that mindset right, because the, the number one le reason people leave podcasting, I’d say it’s 50% of people who even let’s just cut it down the middle. 50% of people who start a podcast, they leave for this reason. And I hear it all the time. Oh man, I’m stopping cuz man, I, have you heard of Joe Rogan?

That’s what people say. I’m like, yes. I, I’ve heard of Joe Rogan. I expected to basically build a show just like he has, or yeah, I was really expecting to quit my job and be a millionaire by now, or I expected to, to be pretty much famous at this point. And these people are five weeks into their podcast and podcasting is just not a vehicle for that.

And I tell people that are starting that, tell me that. I’m like, Hey, you should quit right now. And they’re like, what? I’m like, go get on TikTok or do some YouTube shorts. Those are some hot things right now. You’re gonna. I mean a hundred to a thousand X attraction with a fraction of the effort put into it.

I’m like, if that’s your goal, you’re not gonna I never tell ’em this, but you’re not gonna do that anyway. That no one actually is able to do that. It’s very, very rare. It’s like 1% of 1% that can actually monetize and get famous off of this stuff. Yeah. But you’re gonna have a better chance doing it over there.

Right? You have exactly a 0% chance of making it big in podcasting. It’s just, it’s just not how podcasting works. And so people are like, well, why the heck would I do it? I’m like, exactly, you should just go. Right. So, and I just nicely push people to the door. I’m like, it’s just not for you. But if someone says, and they come in with the right mindset, so I’ll give you the shift there.

Yeah. Somebody says, I wanna do something that’s fun, I wanna be able to connect with my best friend. We wanna have a conversation about this. I wanna learn this. I wanna help people learn how to do this and that. I wanna educate in this space. I’ve got a passion, I’ve got a purpose behind it. I don’t care about the money, I don’t care about the fame.

If those things happen, great, when I meet somebody like that, I’m like, can I help you? Is there anything I can do? I’m even doing, sometimes doing like, here’s some money. Go ahead and start that. I think it’s a great idea. Like, let, let’s get you, let’s get you launched into that space, because that mindset is all has to shift for it to do really well.

Even somebody like Jordan Harbinger, he has 15, he’s like one of my favorite podcasters. He has over 15 million people listening to his podcast every month. And I asked him what his best advice was for podcasters. Like he said, start it as a hobby. He’s like, I had no plan on doing anything with it other than having a good time.

And he’s huge now, right? Like giant. So that’s the first thing I find people get wrong, is just that, that wrong mindset about what it can be. And I, I think that that’s the thing I, I shared first with you.

Rich Hoffmann:  Alex John and I think our number one key to success in longevity runs counter to everything else we do in business.

Our number one key to success is we have no goals.

we don’t care how many listeners there are. Now we estimate through LinkedIn and Apple and Spotify and YouTube, we probably hit somewhere around a thousand people per episode for some at least small portion of it. That sounds great.

That sounds cool.

If it was 500, we’re like, okay,

We’re gonna keep doing it. If it was 200, okay, let’s keep doing it. If it was 10,000, okay, let’s keep doing it. Like we literally have no goals. When you have no goals, there’s no reason to quit. Our whole goal is just meet interesting, really smart people like you and

have a conversation that frankly benefits us on the bet that we have listeners who wanna benefit the same way.

So it that, I just think it’s funny to share with people when there’s an opportunity to share that one of our secrets to longevity

is don’t have goals. you.

Alex Sanfilippo: You know, if I could, if I could add something there, I know I just downplayed podcasting. Here’s the power of it though. If there was 50 people, listening.

It’s the same as 50 people sitting in seats. That’s like, that’s where podcasting is different than social media. They’re not apples for apples. So if you have a thousand people listening, it’s imagine going on a stage. If you’re a listener, imagine being a guest on the show. It would be John and Rich inviting you on a stage with a thousand people listening who want to hear your message for the next hour.

That is, again, I’m not downplaying the power of social media, but that is a quick scroll and maybe a tap or maybe a quick comment. Right, and that’s it. This is the same as an audience who wants to learn from you. The power of podcasting, I feel is there’s no second place at this point, and I know that some people are like, yeah, YouTube’s pretty powerful too.

Some people are watching it for entertainment stuff, but people that are listening to podcasts are listening cuz they want to grow, they want to get better. I agree with that. I don’t, people ask me all time, how many downloads does your podcast get? I’m like, I have no idea. I, I haven’t checked in forever.

Like, I turned off all those notifications. I don’t care. Now my team knows, Hey Alex, we just lost 80% of our listenership. Then I’m gonna go check. Right? Same thing. Okay, there’s a fire. We gotta figure out something broke. Let’s fix it. Oh, we’re not an Apple anymore, right? Like, but aside from that, it, it doesn’t matter.

At the end of the day, that’s not why I’m doing it. I’m doing it to educate the people that have trusted me, and I send people episodes when it makes sense for them. And if that one person hears it, that. The other 10 or 20 or whatever people listen to it is a bonus. And so I love the attitude that you guys have, cuz you’re not gonna, you’re gonna hit all your goals.

A hundred percent of ’em, aren’t you? Every time. . Yeah.

John St.Pierre: Alex, let’s, maybe take the shift off of why we’re doing it and maybe the question I asked and, and shift it maybe a little round to the entrepreneurs that are listening to this, if, if they have a business of their own or they’re within an organization, why should their business or their organization consider.

Being a podcast or starting a podcast for the purposes of educating their client base to drive more business for themselves, and or why should they consider being a podcast guest, potentially without even having your own podcast to get the word out there and talk? What’s, what’s the value proposition for even looking into it?

Alex Sanfilippo: Yeah, it’s a good question. I think every entrepreneur should have a podcast. But I understand it’s a lot of work. So start as a guest and see if you like it. If you’re an entrepreneur that absolutely hates it, don’t do it. But I do think it’s valuable, and here’s why. If you have a podcast, it’s a credibility boost instantly.

So like John and Rich, if, if anyone knows or finds out or you mention you have a podcast, their first question is, oh, what’s it about? Right? Like, you now have that credibility of, okay, this is an expert. Where are they an expert? Like you have that even if no one listens, you still have that. Additionally, you all have access to people.

I wouldn’t do this, but there’s some people who’ve been on your show that I know would charge you thousands of dollars for an hour conversation with them if it was a coaching call, right? But if it’s a podcast, you have access to that person and now you’re connected with them. So you build that bond between guests and hosts as an entrepreneur, man, that is powerful.

If you have this platform, you’re going to get access to people. You would never get access. That alone right there from the credibility standpoint of people that you’re meeting and getting access to connections you’d never be able to connect with. Having a podcast, I believe is worth it.

The other thing that it does, if you’re a company and you’re like, okay, well if it’s a branded podcast and you’re around our product or service, I just mentioned everyone like it. It’s the same as being on a stage, right? Yep. If I’m sitting in an audience watching three people on a stage, so let’s imagine it.

John Rich, and you know what I’m going to call out one of your old episodes, you did an episode with Nicky Billiou. It was episode one 18 and really powerful. The dude is animated. I would love to have been in a live audience to watch that, so I encourage everyone go check that out. It’s a really good episode. And we might get into some of the points they made there anyway, but if I’m sitting there in that one hour time, three things are gonna happen.

I’m gonna know if I know, like, or trust this person that’s talking, I’m developing that KNOW LIKE, and TRUST. Again, not to downplay social media cuz it has its place, but I can’t tell you if I know, like or trust somebody based off of one picture, one video. But if I listen to someone for an hour, I have a pretty good understanding of it.

I think I can work with them. And here’s an example of that. A couple years ago I was looking into some S M S marketing, which is just basically text message marketing. So I wanted to send texts to people that were in my network and I knew nothing about it. So I went to Google. That’s what we all do, right?

And I found three companies that do it, learned kinda the ropes. And I was like, okay, let me find out if there’s any podcast about it so I can see how to succeed with. Those three companies, one of them had their CMO, I’m guessing is what he was, he was going on podcasts as a guest to talk about, not his product, but how to be good at SMS marketing.

And I listened, found all of his content, was diving into it, and guess which product I went and bought at the end of that?. I bought theirs. Because you know what I felt like, man, this person was like, I know, like, and trust him in his company now because he was devoted my education before getting a sale from me.

And here’s the thing, I went back later and I just outta curiosity, I went and checked it was the most expensive of the three services earned my business and he could charge more because he was actually doing the hard work of developing our relationship with me beforehand. Again, on either side of the mic, I just shared some really powerful reasons to get into podcasting.

John St.Pierre: Extremely powerful. I can’t wait to hear Rich’s response to this one. No pressure Rich being guest and host, and how strong. That can be, you wouldn’t believe, Alex, the number of guests we’ve had on this podcast, about 120 so deep that Rich has developed a bond with and or purchased their services for something, or hired them as a keynote speaker or has attended their summit.

I mean, just between the bond in this hour conversation that we’re having, it’s being established. I mean, Rich, that connects with you I’m sure at a high level.

Rich Hoffmann:  Totally. I think we’ve had probably a dozen or so guests who we’ve used at CertaPro painters to benefit the franchise owners somehow, some way, whether it be we had somebody who.

Was a believer in being guests on podcast as marketing for themselves. That person we did a focus group with to John mentioned we have somebody who was a keynote speaker at our thousand-person annual conference. And that person actually this year continues to be the coach of our general session speakers who speak to the thousand people.

That person happens to be a coach of them too. It’s Michael Allosso so yeah, and frankly, it’s an unexpected benefit of having the podcast. I never expected that I expected. John and I would be able to get together. We’d be able to bond, we’d learn things that would make us better at what we do.

We’d have fresh stories. I never thought, oh my gosh, the connections, the bond between speaker and host and those being extended well beyond the time of the podcast together. I never expected that and it’s been quite

Alex Sanfilippo:  You know, I’ll be real. When I got started, I didn’t expect that either. Like I just didn’t see that coming.

And the first thing that happened is I had somebody, was one of my very first guests, she was on, she says, Alex, this was great, call me next week let’s see what else we can do together. I was like, what? All right, . But yeah, you’re right. Like you just get that opportunity, which I think that can’t, that alone can be limitless.

Like you never know where that could take you and how you can find, like you two have a great friendship and working relationship, like someone could find a relationship like the two of you have through podcasting, which is like an exciting thing.

John St.Pierre: Yeah, I can tell you that bond is so important too, right?

It’s just like accountability coaching. We’re into a new year here in 2023, and I find, and, and Rich and I do this together, and I also do it with a best friend of mine in terms of weight loss and training. Having that accountability partner to know, I had to show up today because my partner, Rich is expecting me, is no different than a gym workout partner.

Or you know, if you’re go trying to go on a diet, having a partner that could be there with you, right? So that, that is huge for us. And, and a big thing, Alex. I wanna take everything Rich said earlier and push it to the side a second when he said We have no goals. Assuming we did and we wanted to continue to improve what we’re doing for ourselves and for our audience on a continuous improvement track.

A lot of times we end the recording and we ask our guests, what are a few things we could do better? What are a couple things you like liked? What are a couple things we could do better? And we try and get learnings when the recording button’s off, just to try and improve ourselves on a continuous improvement track.

But here we’re sitting with an expert in podcasting and I would love to just get some tips from you on, you know, we’re into our fourth season here you know, 120 plus episodes and, and we plan on doing this a lot more years and a lot more episodes. What are some things, some small things that we could do to improve.

What we provide are our listeners in terms of, I don’t know, the software we use, how we promote the product how we, how we produce the pro podcast, post production, you know, things like that, sight unseen cuz you don’t really know how we do it today necessarily. What are a few tidbits you’d say, here are the top five things I tell people if they really wanna take us to the next level, these five things, not starters, but just kinda after you’ve gotten in a few years.

Here’s a few things you could. Elevate the game with, and

Rich Hoffmann:  I’d say feel free to criticize us. Like we’re very open, very vulnerable. Like is there a way that we can connect with guests better? Is there a way we can introduce guests better? Is there, like, what, what can we do to do what we do better?

Alex Sanfilippo: I love it.  I’ve never gotten do this on a podcast, so I’m excited to hear I’m gonna, I’m gonna kinda break into three categories, and this isn’t specific to your show. I’m gonna try and make it a little bit more, I will use your show with some specifics, but also go a little bit general here as well, just to help everybody.

First off, there’s the old saying that riches are in the niches, right? It’s so important in podcasting to really choose a lane, and go back to that. I, I referenced it earlier, episode one 18 of entrepreneurs. Is Nikki Belu talked about how in that episode he mentioned that you can’t be all things to all people like you.

You have to stop trying to do that. And a lot of podcasters, when I ask them like, who do you speak to? , they’re like, oh, everybody, like, it’s got some comedy in it. It’s got like some sports references. It’s got a little bit of business in here coaching, right? And that’s trying to be all things, all people, people are not looking for that.

So the, the very first thing I tell people that even if you already have a podcast, like I’ve had to rebrand my show, you want to get it really specific to what it is, to what it’s about, to who you know it can speak to. And a lot of people are like, oh man, Alex, you know, like, I just have a bigger vision than that.

But I always say like, if you’re gonna be all things, all people, like you’re not really speaking to anybody cuz nobody’s everybody, right? Yep. Can’t be for everybody. And really, I think it actually takes more courage from a podcast host standpoint to get really narrow niche because it’s making you vulnerable.

You are saying, this is who I help to the whole world. I’m specifically this per helping this person. And I, I think that when we do. If we set ourselves up for success or possibly failure if we really can’t help that person. But I always tell people, niche down as far as you possibly can. And the way that I like to do that is I take the show title, description, and cover art, and I look at somehow making sure all three of those things really are expressive to what it’s about.

And I’m, I’m not telling you all to change your show, just somebody you starting, like I, here’s an example. Even though I’m a little bit of, I have a little bit of a name in, in, podcasting, I would never name a show, Alex two point. . Yep. Like you don’t know without listening, you have no clue what that’s about.

But my show is called Podcasting Made Simple. It’s about podcasting being made simple for people that are in it, on either side of the mic. And that’s what it’s all about. So the, the title, the cover art and the description just reinforce that that is who I’m speaking to, A podcast guest or a podcast host that wants to go further faster.

And that’s the only people I talk to. If you’re an entrepreneur and you wanna listen, great, but it’s not really for you. It’s for podcast guest or podcast host who wants to go further. And so that’s the first thing I always share with people. So that’s kinda like the outward side of it is really getting focused on that.

And if someone’s like listening to and they’re like, oh man, but I already have. My plan or my show rebranding is not a problem. As a matter of fact, your listeners may even love it if you make it an event, right? Basically be like, Hey, we’re changing things up. Here’s where we’re kind of focused. Here’s how we’re gonna move into that.

It worked really well for me when I had to do that.

Next thing I’ll mention is the actual data side of the show. Now I know we don’t have like a ton of goals and stuff like that either, like any of us really necessarily, but something I think is important to do is to see if you’re effectively reaching your audience in the way they want to be reached.

And what I mean by that is if you go to Apple Connect or Spotify and you look at the data one, the one point I’m talking about specifically is the completion rate of an. You can actually see the average listener, they leave at X percent complete of an episode. If you’re finding that people are only listening to 70% of your episodes on average, that means they’re 30% too long.

They need to be shortened, and that’s really scary cuz tightening them up can be really difficult. But again, if people are not listening to all of it, you’re better off to shorten it can get all the meat in there. At first, when I started my podcast, I was doing about 50 to 55 minute episodes and I talked fast.

And most of my guests ended up talking fast as well, and I get it. 55 minutes of someone talking really fast is just too much. Both of you are much, you have much better cadences in your voice. I’m learning from both of you by being here today. But especially go back a few years, I talked even faster.

And so I learned when I cut my episodes down to 35 minutes, I went from a 70% completion rate to a 99% completion rate. So I met my audience with what they wanted from me, and I used the data to show me that in. . The other thing I like to do is not just trust the data, but talk to listeners. Anytime somebody continuously is engaging or reaching out, ask them for a 10-minute phone call and just talk to ’em about it.

You might learn something by just kind of documenting that after a few times and be like, every person I talked to said their favorite part about the show is the very last question I ask. I need to make sure I ask that question every time. or maybe it needs to be in the middle of the episode. Right.

Things like that. And that’s, again, that’s the data side. And then now last thing and then I’ll digress here is the actual experience of listening to an episode or watching episode, whichever people are doing, it’s really important to, to always be leveling up in this space. And I don’t mean spending thousands of dollars on studios and mics and stuff, but how can you make it a great experience for the listener and of the day as a podcast host?

That’s, we have to ask ourselves the person’s listening, are they going to enjoy that experience? And so things like example, I use a I’m, I’m not great at these mics. I use a dynamic microphone. There’s condenser and dynamic and I believe I got that right. Maybe I’m using condenser. I’m so sorry, but this is a sure MV seven.

Everyone wants to check it out. But the beauty of this one is if I stepped five feet away from it, you can’t hear me anymore. And because I live in a city, I live in Jacksonville, Florida, it can be loud outside my window sometimes. Or my neighbor can be cutting their yard every day or whatever, right? Like.

But you don’t hear that here. So it makes for a good experience and that’s why I invested a couple hundred dollars in this mic so I can make sure everyone’s listening. It’s not like Alex’s podcast is great, but his neighbor’s always mowing the lawn, right? Like that has never come up cuz you can’t hear what’s going on in the next room.

And so making sure that you have a good mic, a good camera set up, I think is so important. And then also, if there’s multiple hosts, one thing that I like, and this might be a good place for you guys to improve, is figure. How you can make your voices not sound similar, but be at the same level and sound at the same quality, almost like you’re sitting in a studio together.

That creates a really good experience, and I say that because if I’m listening to this podcast on my phone or on the computer or in the car, it always sounds a little bit different. But when you are all coming from more of a studio setup, , it sounds better in all those different devices, so I’m not like turning it up when Rich talks and turning it down when John talks.

Not that that’s what’s happening here, but I’m just giving that example. I listen to some podcasts where it’s like constantly like, oh my gosh, I’m turning it up and down because one is using a different kind of mic or clearly in a different environment, and it’s just up and down, up and down, up and down.

And then if you have a guess, Making sure that somebody on the other end can mix it. So again, the levels are all the same, so the listening experience is really positive for people. And I will stop, I just said way more than I’ve probably ever said at one given time. Yeah, that’s awesome. That’s

John St.Pierre: huge. I really appreciate that.

Tons of information here in terms of how we can, and I love the word level up. That’s what we wanna keep doing, is just kind of level ourselves up, keep learning. And you know, we always joke. Looking back at our, at our past and say, let’s go back to episode one and see and

Alex Sanfilippo: see how we, that’s good. That is a smart move.

I actually really respect that cuz you can hear areas that you need to improve or have improved, which encourages you or motivates you to try something new. I, I love that it takes a lot of courage to go back and listen to episode one, by the way, especially when you’re 120 some odd episodes in . Yeah,

John St.Pierre: Absolutely.

Well, Alex, thank you very much for your time today. This was phenomenal and I appreciate all the tips and look forward to continuing to use your platform. Continue to be part of your community.

Alex Sanfilippo: Yeah. Alex, John Rich, I really appreciate you guys. This was awesome. I enjoyed this conversation. Can’t wait to share with everybody and everyone who listened.

I just hope that you get value from these guys cuz they, they are doing such a good job with the show. I’ve been binging it and I will continue doing so. Really appreciate you guys having me. Thank you.

John St.Pierre: Please stick around for a few more minutes while Rich and I break down this episode.

Rich Hoffmann: John, when he talked about Podcasting being a hobby, it’s obvious that’s what we’re doing. Yeah. And he talked about for people considering it be a guest first. And then maybe consider hosting. One of the benefits that he found was access to great guests. And you know, we’ve never gamed the system per se, and said, Hey, instead of spending $10,000 on this keynote speaker, let’s have ’em on the podcast cuz we could get it for free.

We’ve never done that, but, We’ve had that, we have had access

Rich Hoffmann: to some horrific guess a lot because of pod match and some of ’em are personal connections and networked and but I, I just found so much of what he shared in this episode to be very true for what we’ve experienced. Yeah, absolutely. Not only in the podcasting side.

I certainly connected with Alex in terms of his story. You know, as entrepreneurs, we all, to a certain degree believe that whatever we start-up or whatever we’re doing as a business is gonna be successful. And sometimes it’s not. And sometimes you gotta pick yourself back up and, and find a new path forward.

Just like Alex did, I love hi him sharing a little bit of his story of his roots and where he is come from, and I think that comes through in what he is trying to do. In, in service to others, right? Hey, if I just do good value, I provide good value, the profits will come later. I’m not too worried about that.

I’m gonna give, give, give, give, give, give, give. And ultimately that will serve me well and I’ll be happy cause I don’t have these high levels of expectations that I’m invincible and I’m gonna become the next this or that. And I think too often as entrepreneurs, and I face this myself, You know, where you believe you really, you know, have it all figured out.

And I think life has a funny way of knocking you down sometimes when you have that, that level of invincibility. And I think, you know, it’s very surprising when you hear someone say, yeah, you know what? My ego needed to take that hit. Yeah, I needed to lose all that money. I needed to experience this entire failure cuz that made me who I am today.

Rich Hoffmann:  And I love his philosophy on looking at the financial KPIs, those key performance indicators. And hey, as long as

those are all green, I’m just gonna focus on providing value. And if they’re not all green, if one turns yellow, yes, I need to dig in.

I think that is such a servant’s leadership heart on how he goes about that. Where you ended there, by the way. I have an area highlighted that’s who you are is when you go through tough times. Yeah, man. I believe that is so true. I feel like success in money and even power or fame or notoriety, all those things are an amplifier of who we are.

I find that people who have more money and more success or more power in a role that they. We find out who they really are, and then we also find out who people really are when times get tough and when they have to bear down. And then you had spoken to, you even experienced hard times. Show

you who your

real friends are.

Yeah, yeah. To your point when hard times come, It not only is a test of who you are, but it’s a test of who everybody else is around you as well. And who’s, who’s gonna stick with you and help you rise back up. And I could tell you right now, rich this is something that I’m seeing a lot. You know, there are a lot of people that are having a hard time right now.

You know, I don’t think we’re out of the woods yet. We’re three years into this pandemic, situation. The inflation is crazy. You know, not to digress from this whole podcast conversation, whatever you just said there, there’s a lot of people around us that are going through some tough times and sometimes you don’t know that they are because they may have this sense of invincibility or, you know, lack of vulnerability.

But there’s a lot of people to help out there. And when you see what Alex is doing, and certainly, you know, provides me with a lot of humility in terms of what we’re doing. Just trying to provide value. We’re not trying to get anything out of this other than provide value. I think that is something that warms my heart, but also we need to seek out people that need help.

And that’s a true testament to who we are.