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Sean Cannell

Sean Cannell is a successful YouTuber, and founder of ThinkMedia, an organization and YouTube channel focused on helping creators understand new technology, devise strategies, and create more success on YouTube.

Video Content

Creating Impactful Content

Sean Cannell returns to the podcast to talk to Chris about why YouTube is the most undervalued social media platform, and how to take advantage of its amazing features. Sean is a successful YouTuber, and founder of ThinkMedia, an organization and YouTube channel focused on helping creators understand new technology, devise strategies, and create more success on YouTube.

In the first part of a two part conversation, Sean and Chris talk about why being able to communicate is the most important skill in content creation, and why it must be a life long pursuit. They also discuss other important skills in content creation, why Sean thinks YouTube is the “forgotten” social media platform, and more tips on how to perfect your skills in content creation. As the saying goes, “Attention is a form of currency”, so get ready to take some notes as Sean lays out some truth.

Creating Impactful Content

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May 17

Creating Impactful Content

Be Brief. Be Bright. Be Fun.

Sean Cannell returns to the podcast to talk to Chris about why YouTube is the most undervalued social media platform, and how to take advantage of its amazing features. Sean is a successful YouTuber, and founder of ThinkMedia, an organization and YouTube channel focused on helping creators understand new technology, devise strategies, and create more success on YouTube.

In the first part of a two part conversation, Sean and Chris talk about why being able to communicate is the most important skill in content creation, and why it must be a life long pursuit. They also discuss other important skills in content creation, why Sean thinks YouTube is the “forgotten” social media platform, and more tips on how to perfect your skills in content creation. As the saying goes, “Attention is a form of currency”, so get ready to take some notes as Sean lays out some truth.

Stewart Schuster

Stewart Schuster is a Writer, Director, Camera Operator, and Editor. He is a graduate of Watkins College of Art & Design in Nashville, TN. He loves making and watching films.

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Be Brief. Be Bright. Be Fun.

Episode Transcript

Sean Cannell:

If you grow as a communicator, your income will grow, your relationships will be stronger, you'll be able to enlist more people in your vision, you'll be able to communicate your ideas more powerfully. You will ultimately make a greater impact in the world. It goes back to one of those things that it's like, "Why would I hesitate to invest in something that powerful? If there's anything I'm going to study and improve my game in, I definitely want to do that in communication."

Chris Do:

Everybody. What's up? I'm back here with Sean Cannell rhymes with YouTube channel, and if you've listened to the previous podcast where Sean was the guest, we're talking a lot about live production, the big gamble, scared money don't make money. We're back because Sean's got a second edition, an updated edition of his book, YouTube Secrets. I'll provide links and notes in the show notes.

The approach today is to really have a kind of a masterclass for entrepreneurs who have either dabbled with YouTube, are thinking about getting into YouTube or thinking, "Is this a good strategy for me? Is this a platform I want to invest money and time and energy?" I can't think of a better person to share insights on this because I think, Sean, your primary thing is YouTube, right? You love YouTube, you talk about YouTube, you teach people how to grow on YouTube. So why don't we take it from there and in case you missed the first episode, Sean, can you introduce yourself and tell a little bit of your backstory?

Sean Cannell:

Yeah, Chris, thanks so much for having me back. Today, Think Media is the company I run. We have 20, W2 employees and 10 contractors, and we're on a mission to help people figure out how to create video. So we do a lot of camera tech, live streaming, build your equipment set up to create content, and then the strategy side and our focus is YouTube because I believe that YouTube is the most highly leveraged platform we can get into that, but with all of where we are today, I'm as shocked as everybody else because I'm a small town kid, college dropout and kind of an accidental entrepreneur and really a story of YouTube itself and its transformational power.

I got into video in 2003, volunteering for my local church. The first YouTube channel that I started was for this church an hour north of Seattle, small town. 2007, we started a YouTube channel for the church and a vlog for the pastor, which is way ahead of time. I mean, this was two years after YouTube started. 15 minute upload limits, no custom thumbnails, totally different platform, the technological infrastructure of it.

So I've been in video, social and YouTube for a long time. Eventually started a freelance video business in 2009 and then eventually started Think Media and discovered the power of affiliate marketing, creating content and ranking videos. And the reason I fell in love with YouTube is YouTube is the only platform where your content lives forever. It's the only platform where if you create the right kind of content in the right way, you could post a video today that'll still get views weeks, months, or even 10 years later.

I just looked up one of my videos that is over 10 years old. It grew my channel by 16 subscribers, made $35 in YouTube ad revenue and was actually talking about a lens attachment for a really old camcorder, and people are still watching that video and clicking the affiliate link. So I truly have a passive income generating asset that is over a decade old that I'm doing nothing with. I'm not promoting it, I'm not talking about it, just the power of the YouTube algorithm.

And here's what makes YouTube unique. All of the other social media platforms are content feeds. They call it an Instagram feed, a Facebook feed, a Twitter feed. YouTube is a content library, and if you had a particular problem or pain point, you could walk over to your bookshelf and you'd say, "I want to learn about teamwork, I want to learn about leadership. I want to pull a book off the shelf about mindset. I'm going to pull off a book of the shelf about YouTube. I'm going to pull a book off the shelf of design, maybe design inspiration or branding."

YouTube's the same way. When someone has a particular question, a particular problem or even just intent, they don't actually search a phrase, they just express their intent by their behavior. YouTube's algorithm starts to recommend content to try to meet that person's needs. So every business owner, entrepreneur, creative freelancer should be creating strategic content that either attracts the ideal client or customer they want or that leads to serving and solving a problem, and then you're able to monetize that attention in a lot of different ways.

Chris Do:

That was fantastic. I think the industry term is its long tail content versus short tail. We talk about the lifespan of a piece of content and the reason why I think people get anxious about creating content is because if your content doesn't hit within the first three hours, 24 hours, it kind of disappears in the feed because YouTube is powered by YouTube search engine. You're right. It's like just this kind of idea of just in time learning, the habits and behavior. People are much different on YouTube and therefore I think, and I want to get your perspective on this, is it a social media platform?

Sean Cannell:

It is the forgotten social media platform. I think one, it's never listed people. You typically don't put it in the list of social media platforms. I think two, because it's not quite as interactive as other platforms. There's no DMs, although they're thinking about adding those back. At one time there was. And there is comments and debates and conversations happening in the comments, but it's different than other places. And because you're not posting photos the same way as you would on Facebook, although you have a community tab which very much is like a Facebook feed and photos or polls or words in a way to talk to your audience and YouTube is for better or worse, I believe it's better and almost every platform is doing this, but it's a challenge no matter what is they are trying to be everything. Whether it's YouTube Shorts, there is a stories feature, YouTube Stories, there is the community tab, which is text, photos and a feed.

There is of course your main videos. There's live streams, there's long form, so it could be kind of overwhelming. And podcasting is one of the things I'm actually super excited about A leaked document from Alphabet, the parent company of Google and YouTube revealed that they hired a podcast executive. They acquired 20 NPR shows. They invested 500,000 into other creators that were only doing audio to get them doing video podcast.

And the stats actually revealed that at this moment, YouTube is the number one podcast destination for listening consumption to podcast. That surprises people because how could it be bigger than Apple or Spotify? But I think it's because of the factor of times. YouTube is bigger in general, and so if you're listening to your podcast, you're listening to Lewis Howes, Impaulsive, Logan Paul, H3H3, especially some of these famous YouTubers.

YouTube is much larger already in terms of a podcast destination and they're thinking about ingesting RSS feeds. So I would dare to say to put it bluntly that it is irresponsible for any serious business owner, entrepreneur, creative to ignore YouTube. I mean, if you care about your message and you want to reach people and you want to go, if you're comfortable where you are today, then by all means don't invest in YouTube. But if you want to not just maximize your impact today, but also position yourself be recession proof for the future, protect your brand, I think that your YouTube presence is an essential.

Chris Do:

Sean, not mincing words here. It's irresponsible of you as a business owner to ignore YouTube. Before we get into some more of this stuff, I do want to say there's one thing that makes me consider YouTube not a social media platform, and the biggest one is shareability. If I love a video, I don't go on YouTube to share it with other people who are on YouTube. It just doesn't seem to work like that. Or maybe, I don't know, Sean. I take the video and I go and share it on Twitter somewhere else where that kind of active sharing happens. And so I put YouTube in a very special place.

Now, both you and I, I think, and I'm speaking for you here and tell me if I'm wrong. I have a special connection to YouTube because I didn't do social media before I actually learn how to create content on YouTube. And YouTube is what I would always consider for the foreseeable future, our home base of operations. I've since ventured forth as you have as well, but I consider a very special place.

Now, somebody might be listening to us and think, well, why is this so special for me? It's special because YouTube's one of those rare companies that takes an interest in helping you as a creator make a living doing this thing with monetization. They produce events and they used to pre pandemic have creator spaces where you can come and shoot. They have advisors or managers who help you and they're constantly talking to you with you to help you figure out a way to make money. They had the merchandising thing, they had a subscriptions to channel. Now they're adding lots of ways to put real money into your pocket, not to mention the affiliate deals and the sponsorships that you can establish outside of YouTube.

I've checked my earnings on Instagram. I'm not sure it's enough to buy a meal yet, I'm not sure, but on YouTube it's revenue or expense neutral for us, meaning we generate more revenue passively just from AdSense than it costs us to produce the content, which is a crazy model if you think about it. Many of you will run a campaign to onboard new customers and you'll spend money. It's called cost per acquisition, and you're looking at ROAS return on ad spend. What if you can make content that people consume that is marketing material for you, but they pay you to consume it? This is a phenomenal idea and you and I were there with Hormozi at your conference and he's like, "You know what? I used to spend all this kind of money doing ad spend and now I put it into content and I'm getting a 10x return". So you're probably right. It's probably a responsible.

Sean Cannell:

100%. And we experienced the same thing. Erika Kullberg has kind of known, probably most people here have seen her, and you might see she is the same person in a TikTok as the customer that says, "I want to return these Nikes". And then they go, "It's past our pool date". She goes, "No, actually it says I can if there's a tear in them. And they go, "Ah, who told you this"? And she's like, "I'm Erika, the social media lawyer".

So she revealed her numbers, and this is true, as you mentioned, your Instagram can't probably buy a meal, mine is similar, and I think she said she hadn't qualified for some reason for Instagram, so that was zero. TikTok was a couple thousand, like three. Facebook was a few hundred and YouTube was 36,000 in this particular case study. I know she's earned more than that, but those are the kinds of factors of dollars in the YouTube world.

And what's fascinating is, YouTube Shorts is about to unleash a whole nother level of monetization, which is going to be disrupting in the market. YouTube is already attracting a lot of people from other platforms, maybe build a brand somewhere, but they want to move to YouTube because that's like where the big kids live. It's like where the serious brands are established, and so they leverage their authority somewhere else, but they want to be on YouTube and it also pays the best. And so when that rolls out, it's like going to pay even more for those doing YouTube Shorts, I know you do a lot of YouTube Shorts and the CMO of HubSpot said that "YouTube subscribers are the most valuable subscribers on the internet". So to your point of Alex Hormozi mentioning that "You literally get paid to essentially grow your brand and get a positive revenue".

So it's a win, win, win, win, win win when you're really doing YouTube right. And so I agree, YouTube is a very unique place and of course in this conversation, it's not to say it's easy. It's not to say that what you've built or what I've built has happened overnight or is something that isn't going to take work, hustle and resources and all of the above, but I think it's about as business leaders, we're always kind of strategically deciding where to invest our time and money. And so I want to invest in a good investment.

I want to invest in something that even if there's a heavy upfront investment in my mindset, my labor, maybe hiring, delegating, learning the skillsets, getting it set up, it's just saying, is that all going to be worth it? And YouTube is good ground to plant on, and it's also not like it's about to stop. It is the number one video platform. It has absolute market dominance. No matter what numbers TikTok claims, there's a few more minutes of watch time among Gen Z on a day by day basis, it doesn't even speak to the depth.

Again, the CMO of HubSpot, "YouTube subscribers are the most valuable subscribers". We see the numbers too. Our TikTok is blowing up. I am passionate about other platforms. We started really late and we're almost to a quarter million followers, 5 million likes, this thing is... but even when I measure link in bio clicks, even just depth of people wanting to go deeper. It doesn't even come close to Instagram, which has smaller numbers, but it doesn't become close to YouTube in terms of revenue generated, but also actions taken, meaning clicking a link in the description or clicking the link in a pin comment or following a verbal call to action.

YouTube is where people go to be... they want to seriously learn. It's where professionals go. It's where people that are in a more of an action, they have their credit card out to make a purchase, they are in an action learning mindset, and so respect to TikTok, but you're in a more passive consumption entertainment mode. Of course you could do education there. Of course it can lead to business opportunity, but it has nowhere near the depth. And so these are some important facts about YouTube. So you can make an educated decision about how you're going to invest your time, your money, your human resources, your financial resources.

Chris Do:

Okay, so much for us to follow up on. The one thing I wanted to point out that you mentioned earlier about podcasts is I believe Joe Rogan is the number one listen to podcast in the world maybe.

Sean Cannell:


Chris Do:

And I got to tell you, I've never listened to his podcast, but I watch him on YouTube all the time and didn't occur to me that that stat would then line up. And I think you're right, and I think for some people who might be like, "Oh, I'm experiencing the same thing". We've recently found success by video podcasting now, like this is a podcast, you're going to listen to this. And some of you will actually see this on YouTube, and there's a visual, so you can see Sean's face and you can see his passion and his steel blue eyes and just looking right at you piercing through the screen, you might be able to see that.

And we're seeing that people like long form content, especially the data we've seen on our channel, not just shorts. Now, you talked about a couple things about the mindset of people who are consuming content. And I think you're right, and I'm just looking at myself too. I'm holding up a mirror here. On other social platforms, it's really passive. I want to be entertained. I have short pockets of time. I'm not really in this active learning space. I'm just leaning back.

Whereas on YouTube, I'm not on YouTube unless I'm looking for something. I'm looking for help. I'm looking for some topical story about what's going on in the world, and this is where I'm going to get my news and entertainment from. So it's an active lean in mindset. I want to pull something out and the data seems to back it up.

The audience that's on YouTube is the most valuable in the world of all the different platforms because of the behavior and the mindset. Okay. If you are sitting there driving, listening to this wherever you are and you're like, "You know what? You're right. You're right. I need to get on this". Okay, there's some challenges, obviously some big barriers to entry, Sean, and help us get us through this. Recording, editing, producing, publishing a video requires the most amount of effort. The least would be a tweet at the opposite of the spectrum on the creator side. What can you tell us about that barrier of barrier to entry that can help someone put this into action?

Sean Cannell:

Yeah, I think that also is one of the reasons why there is opportunity, because it is arguably the most challenging platform. All of the skillsets come together. It's not just a still image on Instagram. You need to make a still image for your thumbnail. It's not just good copy. You need to write good copy for your title. You don't just need to be on 15 seconds like a story on Instagram, but you need to probably thoughtfully put together a video that is 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 minutes long.

And there is no ideal video length in today's world. It's just as long as it needs to be, but as short as possible, delivering value. And then production, I think that still what can happen is because of all those moving parts... I've heard in sales a phrase that says, "A confused mind never buys".

And I also think the confused entrepreneur doesn't take action. As soon as you start thinking about your YouTube strategy, you go, "Okay, I listen to Chris, I listen to Sean, and okay, I do have a camera, but I don't know how to use it or I do have"... then you kind of just stop. And I think a lot of people get stuck in that journey. So we encourage people, you got to just punch fear in the face, punch perfectionism in the face and press record.

I think the simplest thing to do is to realize that your smartphone, you could just flip it to landscape. It doesn't have to be portrait like the other platforms. You can plug in a good microphone. Audio matters. What we teach is AVLS Audio Video Lighting Stabilization. Audio, you could get a simple mic off of Amazon. There's some really cool ones for iPhone or USBC that plug right into the port and then hook to your shirt that are wireless for as cheap as $25 or less.

That's kind of the third party brands. You could pay a lot more for slapping a logo on there, but you don't need to. You can sit in front of a window or connect a simple... there's $50 light soft boxes. And then stabilization would be a tripod to just be able to get your smartphone mount, sit on a stool, get the camera angled properly, and then you could just hit record. And additionally, if you just shot on your phone, you could walk behind the camera, press record, sit down, start talking, and just move the front and the back end of the video, no editing, meaning you just kind of trim, starting it a little bit and then upload that right from your phone. And for most people, the best place to start would be to answer specific questions. We call it the ASQ method.

So as a professional, you're already doing this. There's already the top 10 to 20 questions you get. And you could turn one question into one video. And think about it, what do I say? What if I get nervous? Think about it like having a conversation at coffee with a friend. You're going to sit down across from them at the table, grab your coffee or your tea, and you're just going to deliver value.

If you were in real estate, they'd just say, "Yeah, but I'm just kind of overwhelmed. How do I know how much house I can afford"? And you go, oh, here's how you calculate it, how much you made, and you could probably... anybody listening to this, in your area, these basic answers. And that's a key. I would encourage individuals to not think that you have to get super advanced to not assume that because maybe this question's already been answered or there's already competition. No, the place to start is with beginner and basic answers. And the curse of knowledge keeps most people from even going here because they assume it's too obvious.

They assume everybody knows this. No, there's always new people and there's always people that are looking for clear answers to specific questions. Even better would be what is the housing market update in King County or Snohomish County? Like we just got an Airbnb going in Snohomish County, and you'd be shocked in a 2023 world, you'd think, "Ah, it's probably already saturated with agents and loan officers sharing market updates and real estate information and in a place as busy busiest Snohomish County, which is north of Seattle".

And there's like one person who's consistent, and he's not even that consistent. His name's Zach McDonald. We went to high school together. And so I'm like, are you kidding me that in a 2023 world, all he does is sits down in front of a phone at his real estate office, got a journal out, it's okay to read off it. One of my favorite channels is called I think clear tax value or clear value tax, something like that. He stands in front of a wall with good lighting, good audio, a clipboard, and delivers information basically real time in about seven to eight minutes. And he's pulling 200,000, 280,000, 400,000 views a video. And it's because the information's good.

People are not worried about the production value. I would argue his presentation is not that charismatic. I love him because he's clear, he's brief, he's concise, he delivers the point. And so if you're listening to this, I think that's the opportunity to just start simple with the phone you already have, to start before you get $75 of accessories from Amazon and our YouTube channel Think media could points you to those or you could just seek them out and all of a sudden you can hang with anybody in terms of your production quality. But that is not what people are asking about.

And I would go so far, we have so many students that have already proved this point. They have done everything wrong. They framed the video wrong, their energy is wrong. There's nothing fancy about how they delivered whatever. But let me put wrong in air quotes, it's not wrong because I'm thinking about Andrew, who's a real estate agent in Vegas. This first video he posted on a terrible webcam, framed up wrong with horrible echoey audio in his office has 305,000 views because he just talked about mistakes buyers make when talking to an agent and buying a house and delivered value. So if you understand that it's the content value, not the production value, and certainly over time you can enhance everything. In fact, that's key. Like anything, we should be getting 1% better with every upload always working on our craft.

You're one of the biggest proponents of this about mastery, skill development, about owning your craft and really being an artist and delivering all of that, but that's overwhelming at the start. That's part of the journey. And you can watch it all evolve over time, but don't overestimate the barrier to entry. Keep it simple. Figure out how you're going to create the video with your phone. Answer some specific questions. Be brief, be bright, be fun and be done in the content and then upload that thing to YouTube and then just keep going. And of course, that's why channels like ours exist because yes, you might be like, "What about these other million things"? Hey, one thing at a time and one upload at a time. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. And then pace yourself and you'll be shocked because your hesitation is why 99% of your competitors are not going to take action.

So when you're the person that takes action, that becomes the opportunity. And again, this is kind of a polarizing statement or just say for what it's worth, I believe that saturation is a myth. I think that I'm not ignorant or denying that there is competition or that there's a lot of competition in some industries, in some niches. But Steve Jobs said it like this. He said, "Business is a game of attrition".

If you just keep standing, if you're just still there six years later. And that's what I've now had the privilege of being in this for so long that I'm like, man, those that are just consistent, they improve their content a little bit with each upload. They keep adding value. You might not strike. Here's the key. This is not a get rich quick thing. You might not strike gold in year one, year two or year three, but you might on the flip side, you will have an empire on year seven, eight, and nine if you just commit to your craft. And what'll happen is, again, a lot of your competition will fall off because business is a game of attrition.

Chris Do:

Time for a quick break, but we'll be right back.

Welcome. Back to our conversation.

If you're the person who's doing the content yourself, a lot of what you're saying applies. And I just want to let people know because I came back from Adobe MAX earlier this year. In using Premier, it auto transcribes the words that you're speaking and you can edit the video like you would a Word document and it puts the cuts in for you. So tools are coming out if they're not already available that are going to make the whole process of creating a video even easier.

So it comes back to the real problem, which is what do you have to say? How do you create value for others? How do you serve other people? And the ones who can do that the best will win this game eventually. You just have to stick it out long enough so that the algorithm can find you, that your community, your audience can discover you.

And it might take a year, it might take more than that. It might take multiple years, but you need to do that. Now, I want to say this, and I think I mentioned this last time, but in case somebody's not watching, you know how to motivate my team, I tell them Sean is at 2.2 ish million subscribers. We're at 2.02, so he is 200,000 ahead of us. And it's difficult to catch someone who's a prolific creator whose business is to help others grow their YouTube channel. But I said, catch Sean. Love him. He's a good guy, but catch him please because it motivates us. Like what do we have to do? How do we have to grow? How do we need to change and improve and connect and use all the tools that are available to us because it's like you've ran four laps ahead of us and to catch you at this point, unless you fall asleep, it's not going to be easy.

But that's what gets us up in the morning. I just want to put that out there. It's not a negative competitive thing, it's a positive competitive thing. We have to catch you somehow. And you got an amazing team. I saw them at work at your conference. Okay, let's rewind the tape here. I love the way that you phrase things. You have the cadence. You're almost like a freestyle sermon minister, just dropping bombs and things like that. How did you develop this skillset? And then I want to get into, like if we want to grow YouTube as a team, there's a whole team of us and we have money. We'll get into that a little bit. So how did you develop this cadence, this flow that you have?

Sean Cannell:

Thanks for the question and the kind words and one other tool along with how great Adobe premier's getting is Descript. Descript is a really cool tool with captions, but also editing and with AI and different things, the technology is just going to make it easier to go further faster, creating content with less stress, less pain. How did I develop this skill? I think the first thing was the intentional decision that I wanted to grow as a communicator. I'm a big believer in having a PDP, a Personal Development Plan and a big believer of being clear on what do you want to grow in, but also being clear on what you don't want to grow in. I'm not working on my golf game right now. I'm not working. I'm not trying to become a better basketball player. I'm not trying to be an expert in millions of fields.

I've narrowed my focus and I've thought, okay, what do I want to be great at as it pertains to what I do. And communication is not only one of the most high-powered skills in general, but especially if you're going to be a content creator, that's the essence of what it is. And of course, communication could be verbal, it could be your cadence when speaking, but communication is everything down from the crafting of the video itself as it weaves into all the little parts.

But in relation to essentially public speaking and on camera speaking, the first thing was a decision. The second thing was getting resourced. I remember back, might have been 2008 or 2009 where I got on eBay and I bought a 12 CD set on how to be a better communicator. And so yes, CDs, not MP3s, and it was John Maxwell and Chris Weidner, for the disks were on just a bunch of vocabulary words and they're actually teaching on teaching.

I think what was also helpful is one of sometimes the missing pieces, I believe that the e-learning industry is one of the biggest opportunities right now. People packaging what they know in an online course, it's going to be a billion dollar a day industry soon. And however, a lot of people are just going half-heartedly or they're jumping into it. Do you know how to teach? Do you know how to structure your content? Have you ever studied teaching itself or adult learning theory? So I've had the privilege of... I was a part of a small bible college and then I taught in that same school. So these early years forced me. And then I was also in school. I was learning how to prepare a sermon, preparing a good sermon is actually preparing a good YouTube video. You want to have a hook, you want to get the listener engaged. You have a premise, you have a point you want to make, and then you're building around that point. There structure to it, and then going deeper if you're actually taking someone through a curriculum.

So all of that served me, and it was not passive. It's kind of like Malcolm Gladwell popularizes, the 10,000 hour rule. People think it's 10,000 hours doing the thing or 10,000 hours of practice, which is an incomplete truth and not what he discovered. What he discovered was one distinct word. It's not 10,000 hours of practice. It's 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. And that changes everything. Being deliberate is the fact that you are there taking notes, observing the details. One of the things that breaks my heart the most is I don't see people take notes anymore. I'm a big faith guy, church guy. I don't see people take notes in church. I think it's their loss.

However, I'll go to all kinds of conferences, social media conferences, marketing conferences, I'm shocked people aren't taking notes. And I'm like, man, you bought a ticket. You hope to learn what you're absorbing. I hope you want the end result. You want to learn what the session is teaching, retain it, apply it so that your business grows, so that ultimately the money hits your bank account for you and your family. And so you can make a bigger difference in the world. What else are you going to do right now? A, why are you scrolling on Instagram? But B, even if you're paying attention, why aren't you not taking notes? All the data would reveal that even if you never refer to it again, it's going to be more sticky and by writing it down, you're going to retain it better.

But if you review it once, your retention goes up like 4x. And so I not only will take notes through... basically everything, I take notes all the time. There's kind of a rabbit trail, but I think there's value here. I took notes on our team's Enneagram presentations once, because I want to... our whole team went through Enneagram personality tests and I was like, I want to know them better. And so I'm going to take notes this entire time as opposed to just passively listening or getting distracted. And so the punchline is not only was I always in a deliberate practice mindset, but no matter what session I was sitting in, it might not even been the content I was interested in. I would take notes on the delivery. I would have those two parts of the observation. What can we learn here from the person that's speaking? What can I learn at this conference? What can I learn from studying great communicators on TED Talks? How can I reverse engineer?

There's a good book called Decoding Greatness, man, it's one of my favorite books. You'd love it if you haven't heard about it by Ron Friedman. And it's actually about the skill of reverse engineering and saying that all the greats look at the masters and model the masters and break down the pieces and reverse engineer. Talks about how Steve Jobs was so mad at Bill Gates because he is like, "You stole our software and I can't believe", and he goes, "Steve, actually we both stole it from Xerox. They have had this". And so to that end, it was somebody else inspired them. And so communication best practices are, it's an lifelong journey, lifelong learning. And so being intentional and getting around great communicators and then deliberately learning and then asking questions.

When I had the opportunity to get feedback on my sessions, when I'd maybe speak on stage, Hey, what could I have done better? If I could get coached from somebody? If you can enroll in somebody's program to become a better speaker. I've done all of the above. And then I think the final thing, that's also a missing piece for many. I heard one person say, and I don't know if I respect this, but maybe they're busy, whatever, they go, "You know what? I post stuff online and I never watch it back". And I'm like, why are we bragging? I heard somebody else say, "Yeah, I don't take notes anymore". They've really arrived at some kind of success. I'm like, why are we bragging? I take notes on sessions I already know. If I actually know it, I'm still writing it down because repetition is the father of learning and the mother of mastery, I'm trying to absorb this.

Repetition's the key to training. I want to repeat something so much, not just so that I remember, but so that I never forget. I want it in my spirit so that I can be world class. The final thing though is watching game tape. And Kobe, may rest in power was famous for watching his game tape back whether he won or lost because he wanted to learn and be a master of what he was doing.

So it's watching back your YouTube videos or a web class you do or anything that you've done. I just noticed on a recent podcast, every few words I said, and so on and so forth, and so on and so forth. And I'm telling you about that now because I watched this morning and I was like, I need to have a better go-to phrase or more variety in my reset phrase.

I want to be thoughtful about not saying and so on and so forth 38 times in one podcast. Mind you, I just got out of a sauna with Andrei Jikh, weirdest podcast I've ever been where I was with him and his co-host in a sauna at five levels of heat. So I might not have been in the greatest state of mind. Nevertheless, I'm like, still a good podcast, not overly critical or I don't catastrophize and spin out. I just go, okay, that's a good distinction. I want to work on that by reviewing my game tape.

So I hope those are helpful. Taking notes, deliberate practice, reviewing your game tape and then having kind of a grace based productivity and a grace based growth process that you're not comparing yourself to anyone. Of course, when you start communicating, you might be saying a lot of ums. You might not be super sharp, you might not be super polished. It's a big journey. It's been deliberate practice over decades now for me of being intentional with this.

So just pacing yourself, having grace on the journey, but making a decision that growing as a communicator, forget YouTube, it's just one of the most important and powerful skills that you could ever grow in. If you grow as a communicator, your income will grow, your relationships will be stronger. You'll be able to enlist more people in your vision. You'll be able to communicate your ideas more powerfully. You will ultimately make a greater impact in the world. It goes back to one of those things that it's like, why would I hesitate to invest in something that powerful, if there's anything I'm going to study and improve my game in, I definitely want to do that in communication.

Chris Do:

I'm going to ask you a question and before I get you to answer, I want to remind our audience, who we're talking to, we're talking to Sean Cannell. He co-wrote the book, YouTube Secrets. They're on their second edition. He co-wrote the book with Benji Travis, who I know as well. And we're talking all things YouTube today, strategies, high level concepts for you, the entrepreneur who wants to grow a channel, to develop your authority, create opportunities for yourself. May be even to develop passive income. Who knows what your motivations are, but we're here to help you. I want to ask you this question because I get this question asked a lot. They'll say, Chris, you're a great communicator. You're a great public speaker. I like how you speak about things. You tone your cadence and all that. And the question they ask is a strange question, but I get the spirit of it, which is, how do I become you?

Now, I'm going to ask you this question more specifically. You just gave us a bunch of notes, but I want to ask you kind of maybe a side question here, which is, who do you model yourself after? That's a little bit off and weird that people didn't know. I'll answer that question as well because how do you learn to speak and to present and get your flow from? Is there a person living dead, somebody you're watching, listening to that you're like, here's a person and I picked this up from them and I'm trying to do that myself.

Sean Cannell:

I'll try to go fast. I mean, there's so many, and in fact, in the back of YouTube Secrets, the acknowledgements is a very meaningful portion and it was updated for the second edition. One of the biggest privileges I've had was also being a video editor. And one of the things I learned about Joel Osteen and who's probably the most, maybe the most influential communicator, broadcasted most widely globally in terms of television and radio, and he's a preacher in Texas. He was a video editor for his dad, and his dad was the pastor of the church before him, and they started a TV show.

So Joel would edit his dad's messages while most preachers, they talk long, 45 minutes, 52 minutes, an hour and three minutes. Well, he had to edit his dad's sermons into 27 minutes for TV. So week after week, he was sitting down listening to good communication, but learning how to be precise, learning distinctions and finding ways to maybe say more things in less time.

There's another good book out right now called Smart Brevity that I'm reading about, I think an important skillset for today's world. And he, as a result, took his communication to another level. So being a video editor myself and having freelance clients, one of the people I learned in particular, humor timing from was a guy named Dr. Dave Martin. So I was doing freelance social media and video editing for him for a couple years.

I learned a lot of things. I learned that he had mainly one message or two messages that he would share everywhere because he would speak new places, which popped the myth that I always had to be saying new things that it actually spoke to that if I could craft core messages and actually say a few things really well, that that's more poignant than trying to always come up with something new.

Nobody could can effectively do that. It's very difficult to always have a polished. And so I learned that. He would include a lot of jokes in his material. So I would list literally second for second because I'm editing video. So I would learn timing, cadence. That is one genre that is very worth studying. See, and many people already would probably watch Netflix specials of comedians.

Comedians are the greatest communicators on the planet. They test jokes in different environments. They get the good ones, they learn the timing of them. You'll notice their vocal delivery, vocal change, the tone, whispering, speaking it louder, and then even mannerisms that reinforce what it is that they're doing. I hope, maybe after listening to this podcast, everyone's future is ruined because they can... it's like people who learn storytelling and can never watch a movie again because they understand three act sequence and then they're like, "Ah, I know it's going to happen because the antagonist and the" ... you maybe won't be able to watch a comedian without deliberate practice now.

Okay, I'm watching Kevin Hart, I'm watching Dave Chappelle through a new lens of how and when and pausing, leaving some margin in how they speak. And so Dr. Dave Martin's one, John Bevere would be another one in the church world, and people maybe have different background if they've been a part of any church where they'd say, "I did not get exposed to a world-class communicators in church in my experience".

I think maybe because of the types of churches I was exposed to, communication beyond even just preaching or teaching was elevated to an extremely high level where I've had the opportunity to sit in rooms with some of the world's probably greatest communicators, especially in the church world. And whether that's a T.D. Jakes or a Joel Osteen or working for Benny Perez in Las Vegas, again, an incredible communicator and certain jokes or timing or even mannerisms certainly have influenced me from guys like him. And then watching a lot of Gary V, there could be things that have come through. Or watching Casey Neistat where there'd probably be nothing visual or that I'd say, but just as you study storytelling or as you study editing or also as you practice a lot. So there's a ton of influences in my communication, and those are a few.

Chris Do:

I promised I would share some of my own, and it was kind of interesting how much of our life is different but overlap at the same time. I have to give my hat off to Joel Osteen because I've watched him speak. My wife's a born again Christian, she was watching for a period of time, so I kind of was able to peek over her shoulder and look, this gentleman is very good at storytelling, pulling you in, making complex concepts very simple to understand and repeatable, and he's very charismatic in this way. He's a powerful speaker, but he also doesn't put himself on a pedestal. He brings himself down by referring to a daddy always says, and he speaks like that, like you're a grown man with children yourself, but he refers to his dad this way. And so it makes you feel like, I can relate. I can get on this train and ride this with him.

The other person, the types of people you mentioned are comedians. I watch comedians for different reasons, mostly for stage presence and storytelling. And so I remember this one where Kevin Hart goes out into football size stadium, maybe all of his concerts are like that, but he walks on with a swagger that I'd never seen before, and he's a small man and he knows his physical comedy and how he does things right. He's swinging his arms around and I think I need to steal that.

And so I'm watching it, rewinding it, and I'm practicing the exact same walk. We talk about modeling, about editing and studying and reverse engineering greatness. My wife walks in the room, what are you doing? This is a little strange like you're caught doing something weird. And then I do the walk for her and she goes, "That's really cute. You should do that". And getting that sample for approval of my wife's like, okay, I might try this on stage next time, but I want to just bring this right back to you, which is this. How would you describe your communication style? What makes you unique and different? Sean, I'm just curious about your self-awareness and how you perceive the way you come across to people.

Sean Cannell:

I don't know. I would actually be interested in your response, and I don't know how strong my self-awareness is, but a few things I try to do, I do try to be self-depreciating, and that's a powerful communication thing. Again, a lot of times people's defenses are up. So if you could be vulnerable or transparent, I think vulnerability and transparent, I like to be known for just real talk.

Perception, of course, might not be perceived that way, but for just being a complete open book on almost any podcast, I'll go, they'll go, "What's off limits here? What can't we go"? I'm like, I don't know why anything would be off limits. As far as I know, my phone's tapped right now, the internet facial recognition, I just uploaded my face to an AI generator on the trend, and privacy has got to be gone, so why wouldn't I tell you anything?

I'm happy to share all my numbers because I share them with the government and I trust you way more than the government. They know my numbers, and so I'd be happy to tell you mine. So, kind of a vulnerability, raw, want to be known for truth. And then I think a huge word for me would be clarity. And I don't want to waste people's time. So when I sit in a communication situation, the way I get frustrated, and I wouldn't say frustrated because I'm still learning, you could learn from the wins and the losses, the mistakes that you observe, we've all probably been there too. You're like, where's this going? This person lost me. Then I'm thinking, they lose me. They're opening up. I'm not sure what we're talking about. How are they framing this? What's happening? So my pursuit is to be clear.

And then I think probably the other big word for me would be teacher. So even on my YouTube videos, I have some live streams, minute for minute, no editing, 45 minutes, one's on its way to 3 million views. I teach off of a slide deck. I just talk on the webcam, USB microphone. I teach off a slide deck, which by the way is a good crutch, is a helpful crutch. I got notes behind, not afraid to look down and read my notes, so that I can read a pre-written poignant paragraph because I want to deliver clarity. I'm not worried about someone saying, oh, he looked down and read his notes. I'm most worried about the information being clear and effective. And so it's really coming from a teacher hat, which as far as almost anybody, maybe my competitors or whatever, they be teachers as well.

But I think I go back to that almost studying and wanting to have teaching best practices, very points driven. A lot of stuff I'll teach, will at least have three, five points. So there's organization to it, and you could argue that it would probably be in fact on stage that the preacher from my experience, especially in ministry, comes into how I would deliver business content as well. And some of the attributes of preachers that I love the most is, again, if it's clear, if it's engaging, if there is humor to reset attention. My years in youth ministry I think is helpful. Fast forward now to kind of TikTok, and I don't think it's an age thing.

I think that adults appreciate it as well, but especially if you want to connect to the next generation, one of the things you learn is you can't drone on and be monotone for very long without losing their intention. So it might be the consistent insertion of a joke, of a pop culture reference of something. All of those little details have found their way into my communication style over the years.

But I don't know if we have time. I'm curious from your observational standpoint. I might not be able to see the forest from the trees, if there's anything you think is distinct about my communication style.

Chris Do:

I think you're spot on. I would use different words and I wrote down my words, so I'll share them with you so that there's a reflection here for you. One of the top attributes that come to my mind is high energy. If I don't know, and I don't know, I would guess you're an extrovert. I remember walking by the auditorium when you were speaking at Grow with Video. I was like, oh my God, that's like coffee for your brain. It's like, woo. Sean is just on it right now. He's cranked it from 4 to 12, and he is high energy.

You are very clear, intentional, deliberate speaker. You're very persuasive. I believe there's that same teacher DNA, whether it comes from youth ministry or whatever, there is the preacher vibe in you. Not to say that you're preachy, but people who know how to command the word and a phrase, and control the energy in the room and moderate their own energy, you definitely have that. I'd also add the word stoic in there that... and you're very persistent. When you want to say something, you're going to say it, and you're not super concerned whether or not somebody's going to be like, "Wow, why is he saying that"?

You know what you want to do and you're there to deliver whatever it is your intention is. And it's okay that some people misread that, and I think that's a good thing. You're not so caught up in yourself that you are second guessing what it is that you're saying. I would consider your sense of humor, like there's some dad jokes thrown in there and I'll like it. And people like that. Some puns and pop culture references, I saw you sprinkle them in. You don't do it too heavy because you're not trying to be a comedian on stage, but you do that because it brings some levity and it makes you way more relatable. So those were my words.

Sean Cannell:

I appreciate that. And the funny thing about humor, I was listening to a talk about this recently. That's a tough one. I don't know if I'm good at it because the problem is depending on the room, depends on how good the humor hits or not, because is the pop culture reference understood? I think the dad joke is funny. But historically dad jokes, your wife doesn't think it's funny. And when your kids are old enough, they don't think it's funny either. It's like the dad joke is for the dad and it's terrible. And so that has actually been a pitfall I've fallen into is that sometimes you definitely want external and I appreciate you giving me some feedback. And it was all kind. And so I'm always open to critical feedback. In fact, that's my preference because that's how you get better. Iron sharpens iron. I like that pain.

But humor's a tough one. And that's one I would want to improve on because I was listening to a talk that's saying, to your point, Kevin Hart, any comedian they test in small clubs lots of jokes to narrow down one, oftentimes one set for an entire year that can impact a larger group of people. You're in trouble if some people get it and only a portion of the audience gets it. But probably one of the biggest mistakes you can make it as a communicator is also alienating another part of your audience.

So how do you, maybe at times do that a few times, but not too much so that you don't push anybody away and you at least include as many people as possible reaching people where they are. John Maxwell wrote a book called Everybody Communicates, but not Everybody Connects.

What is our Goal here? He said The number one question for any communicator is, first, none of the stuff we just talked about. It's who are you talking to, your degree of understanding. We say the creator who understands the viewer best wins. So on YouTube, the creator who understands the viewer best wins. When you have empathy and understanding and clarity of the problems and ambitions of the viewer you want to reach on the other side, that goes everything.

Because what we could argue, this person's funny or this person's not funny, this person's a good communicator or this person's not. It's actually kind of subjective. It's the combination of them plus the audience. In fact, not everybody thinks Kevin Hart's funny or is a Kevin Hart fan. So really you understanding... I'm going to use the word called who you're uniquely called or graced to reach or impact. You're not everybody's cup of tea. I'm not everybody's cup of tea. Not everybody loves the future. It's fine.

So actually it's kind of finding your community, finding your voice, and also finding your people, finding the way you communicate, being yourself, having that authenticity and improving and then being okay with the people who don't resonate with you, but going deep with the people who do and having as much empathy and understanding for your audience.

I'll briefly share a story. I speak at Social Media Marketing World every year. Mostly over the last few years, my friend Michael Stelzner. And two years back, this might have been pre pandemic, so there was a couple years where it didn't happen. So this might have been 2019. I got my reports. They do a great job of surveying the audience and I bombed, terribly bombed. Phil Mershon reaches out to me, he's like, "Hey, we've known you to be really a loved speaker here, but you got one of the lowest scores out of all of the speakers". And they have like a hundred speakers. So I was like-

Chris Do:

Oh my gosh.

Sean Cannell:

It was heavy. I was like, Ooh, shoot. What happened? Well, one, what had happened was I completely misunderstood the audience. What they wanted was no fluff, tactics, et cetera. But what I did was, I was on the community floor, so I thought, oh, it was a newbie beginner, so I thought it'd be more story driven. And it was very beginner, it was heavy story and it absolutely disconnected. Tactical social media managers that were there didn't want any of that. It was kind of a waste of their time and they didn't think I was funny. Maybe also because of the value I wasn't delivering, and I really learned about A, knowing who your audience is. Also learned to take full ownership. Like my fault, I could have done a better job to make sure I knew who I was talking to, et cetera, and then I wanted to get better after.

And the mistake was that exact talk. Because I just did a talk I had just done previously. Crushed two weeks earlier at a different event. What was the difference? Who is in the audience and the understanding of delivering it to that audience. Mike said, "Hey, you want to come back? Can you do better than last time"? I said, Mike, I really think I can. I know who I'm talking to now. I know that you just want no fly. I don't need to tell a story. Let me open up my deck. Let me share some screenshots of analytics. I can go as tactical as you want, bro. Let's go deep.

But taking full responsibility for my mistake and learning from it, man, knowing who you're talking to, their education level. Are you as a beginner, intermediate, advanced? What's their background? What is maybe some humor or some stories. Spoke in Florida earlier this year to a lot more Gen X and baby boomers, and inserted last minute a story about my grandfather who served in the Army Air Corps. And my grandmother, they met, she was in the Air Corps as well as a mechanic on planes, and I shared this story. I had people coming after me.

That was the story that resonated because I thought this room will relate with that and family and legacy, these were insurance providers and financial man. I was like, this story matters here. I don't know if this story would matter as much if I'm speaking to a Gen Z audience. Those details matter. Really understanding who is it you're talking to, that could be the key to power up your communication.

But it hit me hard, because if the things I'm committed to, I want to do my best. And it always is a bummer to disappoint people or to strike out. But hey, we're all going to strike out sometimes, you get up, learn from it. Failures are the stepping stones to success.

Stewart Schuster:

Thanks for joining us. If you haven't already, subscribe to our show on your favorite podcasting app and get a new insightful episode from us every week. The Futur Podcast is hosted by Chris Do and produced by me, Stewart Schuster. Thank you to Anthony Barrow for editing and mixing this episode. And thank you to Adam Sanborne for our intro music.

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