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Sean Cannell

Sean Cannell is a YouTuber, international speaker, and the founder of ThinkMedia. His mission: help entrepreneurs build their influence and go full-time doing what they love through the power of online video.

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Put something on the line

Sean Cannell is a YouTuber, international speaker, and the founder of ThinkMedia. His mission: help entrepreneurs build their influence and go full-time doing what they love through the power of online video.

In 2022, Sean took a huge risk by throwing a live personal branding event in Las Vegas, NV. He booked guest speakers like Gary Vaynerchuk, Alex Hormozi, and Vanessa Lau, which put tremendous pressure on his team.Pressure to make this event memorable for guests and profitable for his business.

Fortunately, it worked out for the best, but not without making a few mistakes.

In this unique conversation, Sean shares why he hosted an event of this magnitude and what he learned from the experience. He and Chris talk about event marketing strategy, booking high-profile guests, and the value of putting yourself in a challenging situation.

Sponsored by Gusto - https://gusto.com/futur

Aug 31

Put something on the line

Sean Cannell is a YouTuber, international speaker, and the founder of ThinkMedia. His mission: help entrepreneurs build their influence and go full-time doing what they love through the power of online video.

In 2022, Sean took a huge risk by throwing a live personal branding event in Las Vegas, NV. He booked guest speakers like Gary Vaynerchuk, Alex Hormozi, and Vanessa Lau, which put tremendous pressure on his team.Pressure to make this event memorable for guests and profitable for his business.

Fortunately, it worked out for the best, but not without making a few mistakes.

In this unique conversation, Sean shares why he hosted an event of this magnitude and what he learned from the experience. He and Chris talk about event marketing strategy, booking high-profile guests, and the value of putting yourself in a challenging situation.

Sponsored by Gusto - https://gusto.com/futur

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Greg Gunn is an illustrator, animator and creative director in Los Angeles, CA. He loves helping passionate people communicate their big ideas in fun and exciting ways.

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Lessons learned from throwing a live event

Episode Transcript

Sean:

Build a brand, stretch the team, make a bigger bet. If we lose, we will survive and we'll still be better for it, because sometimes you win, sometimes you learn. And that was my mindset. And then we leaned in once he said yes, and we then had to wire the money.

Chris:

Everybody, I didn't know that this conversation was going to happen, but here we are, we're finally here. Sean Cannell, rhymes with YouTube channel. He's written the book YouTube Secrets along with his friend Benji who we've chatted with, right? So if you want to know all things YouTube... And he also has his channel that we're chasing in full transparency, I'm chasing you. We're getting closer and then you put some distance between us and I don't like that. I tell my team, "Let's catch up to Think Media." You review all kinds of camera gear, you have tips, you have a lot of different creators, so there's a diversity of voices and talent.
But I'm not here to talk to you about that. I'm not. Through your generosity, was able to attend Grow With Video Live. I know a couple months ago, in Las Vegas. And first, it was great, it was a well run production top to bottom, yet superstars, Sean, yet had superstars like... Oh, I don't know, like Gary Vaynerchuk, Patrick Bet-David, the Hormozis, and Ryan Pineda. You had a lot of people on stage with you and that was awesome to see. And as a content creator, I want to know what drove you to go to this scale.

Sean:

Yes. Well, Chris, thank you, first and foremost for coming on the show, love and respect your work so much and all the impact you're making in the world. And this could be a fun conversation because it's been such a journey to what was officially Grow With Video Live 5. And so it was our fifth event, it was our fifth year. We never missed a year ever since we started. And we went to a... Like you said, scale. We really scaled up way beyond our comfort level. The story we're about to get into, I guess, in this conversation is the greatest leadership development year of my life. The journey to Grow With Video Live was painful, challenging, exciting, stressful. And I think just a little bit of backstory, the first year, we did it at the Red Rock hotel in Vegas.
Our friend Shelene Johnson spoke and then it was mainly us, a couple of our friends. Cost us a $100,000 and I was terrified. For the size of our business, betting that much money, putting it out there, we lost $20,000. About a hundred people came, maybe 125 when I counted my mom and dad and the people serving water in the room at the hotel. And that was on the peak sessions. It was like 62 other sessions. Then we didn't know if we want to do it again because events almost kill you. They're tiring, they're exhausting, they could be hard to pull off if it's different, but we did it the next year at another hotel. We got better at it. We were profitable the next year. We cut the budget and were able to increase attendance to about 250 in person. And then, we were going to step up, but it was the pandemic year. So we then did 2020, it moved all virtual. And then we did virtual two in a row. And those two virtual years went very well.
And they were also very profitable because now cost was much lower. And it was, as we were landing the plane on 2021, we wanted to sell tickets during that event to 2022. And we wanted to make it... I don't know, you might be able to articulate this better. I think in success or goal setting, there's something about making a decision. Sometimes people say and then the universe orients around that. Once you just jump off the cliff, things starts falling into place. And leading to, we knew the event was coming up virtually in 2021. And then, we knew we wanted to promote... We're back in person in 2022. And I thought to my mind, "Who would be... Essentially, a celebrity guest speaker? Who would be somebody that would push our event to another level, and who would also be that's most relevant for the brand and vision of our event?" And a few people we joked around with because we thought, "Okay, media..." We thought, "Maybe we could get Nicolas Cage."
He lives in Las Vegas and he might only be like $20,000 because if he has to just drive over from his house, someone said that. Who knows if that's true. And obviously, that makes no sense. It might have been funny, we're like, "You didn't know maybe targetable in ads," or whatever. And we're like, "What if Arnold Schwarzenegger?" It's interesting. He's been in media, he's been in different things. And then of course, one of our things was Gary Vee. And we kept just trying to brainstorm around even non-media creator. But when we thought like, "Who not only has A-list, especially in the entrepreneur or social media world credibility and is the most known?" It really is Gary Vee. Even you step into somebody else like Patrick Bet-David. And he's actually one of my heroes, but he's actually in a lot of ways a lot less known.
Really known, but almost no one knows PBD. A lot of people know Gary Vee, there's crossover. So that was that lead domino decision was could we even get Gary Vee? And at first, I talked to my friend, Pete Vargas and my friend Brett Knutson. And they both knew Zach ultimately, who was his guy. And they were like, "Yo, we couldn't get an introduction." We finally got an introduction, talked to Zach, found out his keynote fee at the time was $150,000 plus $5,000 for travel. And when we heard that, I about fell out of my chair. And then you start thinking, "You should negotiate speaker fees, you should... You can try at least," or whatever. But I just was like, "I don't know. He's busy. Let's just go full fee. Let's just..." And so we just were like, "Okay. Well commit, half down."
So that's $70,000, $75,000. That was more than the year previous. The year previous we were able to pull the whole event off for $40,000. So, his total fee was more than I made in my first year of business like, "What are we talking about?" When we really launched Think Media. And so, we made that commitment. And what's so funny was even someone was like, "Dude, you overpaid, man. I've heard people have got him for less. And I asked if he could do a book by because there was the 12 rules book," or whatever, 12 and a half. And this guy was like, "Man, he doesn't need to do that anymore. He's Gary Vee now, dude, V friends. It is what it is. Do you want him or not?" So we got Gary Vee, turns out his keynote fee went up immediately after our event too.
So we ended up with a 20%, 30%, 40%, 50% discount because just supply and demand, he's more in demand, more busy. And so, that started the journey to then what it turned into. So I'll let you ask more questions, but it was the one thing... We already knew about we would, of course, be there and some of the other things we were going to do, but we locked in Gary coming to the M Hotel, which ended up becoming a problem. That hotel, there's all kinds of stories. I mean, just capacity, rooms, restaurants. But it was just actually stepping out and making one decision that led to the domino effect of then needing to back up that bold decision with a lot of other moves. Because to frame that, the eventual cost was about $915,000 to run that event. So Gary Vee was the tip of the iceberg.
I mean, it just really started to add up from there. And we were profitable in ticket sales, which my friends in the industry let me know that that's incredibly rare, if almost never happens. And that also at that level to do a million dollars in ticket sales and to actually be profitable in ticket sales without any other offer. Apparently, is a pretty radical feat. And so, talk about intense though, because these were dollar numbers. I'm a small town kid, college dropout. I thought back in the day, if I made six figures in a year, you could put a fork in me as I've been growing in entrepreneurship. So, we're doing well as a business and we have been for a couple years, but this event was terrifying. We just started making bold move after bold move. And just once that level of commitment is like, "Man, contract is signed," it's all in and we got to push this thing to the max.

Chris:

There's a lot to unpack there. But I want to highlight the frame of mind that you were in when you made some of these decisions. Now, everybody can relate to the story. We sit around and we say, "Well, what if we got all our dreams come true and we're granted our wish, what would we ask for?" And you're like, "Well..." You started going up around names and then you said, "Gary Vaynerchuk." And this is where most people stop. They stopped the dream and like, "Oh, that was cool, that was a nice fantasy role play exercise, whatever, it's cool." But when you put into action, actually getting in touch with his people, finding out the fees, and then that commitment check of $75,000 to just get things going. Tell me what was going on in your mind? Good and bad or otherwise, am I going to really do this? Take me back there. What was going on in that moment before you knew everything was going to work out?

Sean:

So, a couple things. One was as scary as this is, it's only going to go up from here. Because I actually have been following Gary around, meaning I've had friends... A couple years earlier, my friend Keith had him come and that was #AskGaryVee book. So he was able to do a book by Derral Eves, he's had him at VidSummit and there was... I think the mindset was you can always look backwards and be like, "Oh, I missed it. Because "Gary or whoever, it was more affordable yesterday." Buying a house, "Oh, I missed it." It was more affordable yesterday and current economy, it actually might be more affordable in three months. But ultimately, we can always go, "It was more affordable yesterday," but the other way to frame it is someone like that, their trajectory, he might be even more unreachable or probably will be more unreachable in a year. It'll actually be more expensive.
So as scary as it was, it was still... And then turns out, so I never could have known that we were actually... Literally, had I waited a month, his fee would've been different because of supply and demand. So what seemed shocking and scary, and of course, we had to back that up with revenue, what ended up actually being a good deal. And so, the first thing was just not letting fear or hesitation once I had wanted to make the decision. The second big answer to your original question was also Grow With Video Live's intent versus... This was a brand play. So I've been around long enough, I've done enough of the events to say, "What's the purpose of the event?" So you could say is the purpose of the event to have financial arbitrage, to make as much money as possible.
Not a bad reason. Okay, how could we keep costs low? Maybe not even try to blow up attendance, not even do paid ads. Let's say, let's do email marketing because our community that loves us could come out. Therefore, expenses are low and we could have... Profitability could be incredible. Is the purpose profitability? Is the purpose brand building? And that was the ultimate goal of this. I was also going into it knowing if we lost another question, would be how fatal... What happens if we lose? What's the worst case scenario? So of course, we'd recover some income to pay off the fee and other whatever. And I just started thinking, "Would even $150 just lost kill our business, $50,000?" It wouldn't. So thank God, we're in a place where it would sting but it wouldn't be fatal. So years ago, a $100,000 scared me, but that wouldn't have been fatal then either, we could have recovered.
So we are making intentional risks but... We're taking risks for sure, but not betting the entire farm like, "This better work or else we're going to have to lay off the Think Media team and this whole thing's over." So it was a very scary move, but it was reasonable within adding up and doing the math. And so, I was committed that if we ended up $50,000 negative, a $100,000 negative, but the brand building and the exposure that came from it, would that be worth it? Yes. I think the other piece was it was not even the event itself that was valuable. What I learned, once we made this lead domino decision, that even in just the promotion of the event, all of a sudden people started paying attention to Think Media and Sean Cannell a different way like, "What? You're having Gary Vee? What the heck's happening?" Even to the point where a lot of people were more pumped about Alex, but yet, they still saw Gary first.
It was like, "Wait, they're both there. Wait a minute. PBD, Alex, and Gary are all at the same event?" So, it was this idea of there was the pre event branding. The actual event was turned out great and people loved it. But now, we have all the content on the back end. And so, I started to realize, "Okay, that was the original intent and it completely..." So now in hindsight, and of course, easy to say in hindsight since we were not only profitable in ticket sales, not only did the whole thing work out which is all astounding, but then I also in hindsight, look at it more, I'd say... I would do it again, but I would encourage somebody else to count the cost, but I would do it again to say, "The value, the brand value is worth much." Because we made more an offer, but it wasn't even just the ticket sales at this point. I'm like, "The ROI was already there."
But now we have definitely the rest of the year, but probably the next two years of this content being going out of vertical. So, it is one of my best investments I've ever made in my entire career. And that was what I set out wanting to do. Much more terrified not seeing as clear as I see now at all, but that was... It went according to plan. It was like Gary is an awareness brand play. And I had friends telling me this too and I knew this intrinsically that the other key about Gary was leveraged to invite other speakers. As soon as he's confirmed, for example, Vanessa Lau. Now, she had spoken at our event virtually the year before. But literally, this is what I said, "Hey, would you be interested in speaking?" She looks and sees Gary's there and she told me later, she goes, "As soon as I saw it, I stopped thinking. I just said, yes."
And I was like, "I don't even know if I'm available those dates, but I'm going to figure this out." It's that whole lead domino idea really was my thinking. And there's a recent book called becoming your future self, Be Your Future Self Now by Benjamin Hardy, great book, I love Benjamin Hardy, Dr. Benjamin Hardy. And he says that if you want to keep being pulled into the future you're called to as an entrepreneur, as an artist, as a designer, building a company, you got to keep making bigger and bigger bets. I remember early on in my career, right? There was bets I made that were terrifying then. The bet could have been when I bought Kajabi to host our... Originally, to host our online course. And I paid for the founder's deal which was $997. And you locked in for life so they had all the bonuses and perks and they were just starting.
I just talked to the CEO of Kajabi. I just spoke for them at VidCon. And I told them I'm a founder. I go, "I got the best deal in the world, five years because now, it's monthly and I have unlimited sites, unlimited courses, unlimited emails, unlimited everything because I was a founder." But that $990, I didn't even have that stuff yet. I was starting and I saw that it was a good deal. I knew that if I put down that $997 on the software, the SaaS to build that education side of our business, it would also be a domino. And humbly said, now I look back and there's zero financial friction on a thousand dollar decisions for me now. You know what I mean? It's like, "Yeah, if it's going to make sense for the business, the team can make all kinds of decisions of more money than that." But it was a risk, it was a bet, it was terrifying. 2015 when I'm starting Think Media for what this era of it. So, you got to keep making bigger and bigger bets, and that was definitely one of them.
So the mindset was it was even pushing myself into personal growth. I also knew it would push our team into greater leadership development. I trusted that it would not kill them, it almost did. I mean, in the sense of you want to talk about exhaustion, push to our limits of our skills, it was an... Just playing the game at that level of doing the event was very stretching, but I also had confidence and it proved to be true. We were built for battle and we need greater challenges. We need bigger mountains to climb, giants to slay within reason, not giants that we're not ready for. But I felt like, prayerfully all the intersection of all those things. Build the brand, stretch the team, make a bigger bet. If we lose, we will survive and we'll still be better for it, because sometimes you win, sometimes you learn. And that was my mindset, and then we leaned in once he said yes, and we then had to wire the money. So, we knew we started the journey.

Chris:

Okay. So, you sound like a thoroughbred entrepreneur. You sound like you're built for this stuff. I'm curious, was there a coach, a mentor who helped to change your mindset about making small bets to making big bets and you need to do this brand marketing play? Was there somebody in your corner pushing you to do this or helps you to unlock this or part of your mind, or did you do this on your own?

Sean:

Definitely did not do it on my own. I think that no man is an island and we need other people. Your circle matters. Show me your friends, I'll show you your future. And my commitment to lifelong learning has been helpful, it's always been that. So it's been books, podcasts, but over the last few years, I have found that proximity to people at a higher level than you, that challenge your thinking is incredibly helpful. And I'll give you one exact example that helped me with this, and then just a few cluster of others. The cluster of others is I'm a part of a men's Zoom prayer group with Christian guys that are in speaking or personal development, leadership, coaching, authors, and just a few of us. And some of the guys on there, we meet every single Monday and this is what I've learned.
There's some things that are more caught than they are taught. So you read it in a book and you can learn it, head knowledge, but when it's caught because of proximity from someone that you've built trust with and there's relationship there and you were getting to know them, and it just challenges you to do big things as well. It reminds me of a biblical example of David's mighty man. There was this guy, Benaiah, who went down... It says he went down in a pit on a snowy day to fight a lion, which is just a very obscure story, because you're like, "What the heck for?" But it's a guy who's just... He's just got to do some exploits, man. He's got to do something. He's bored, he's got to go fight a lion on a snowy day.
And you hear that, you're like, "Well, maybe I can take on a lion." You see David take down Goliath, courage transfers to everybody else. So being around guys placing bigger bets, doing bigger events, talking about budgets and then also hearing their mindset, hearing that they're also... Sometimes, we put people on pedestals. They're terrified. Guys, can you pray for me? I just put the down payment on the hotel because we're doing this big event. And they came back to me and they needed another $30,000 for the VIP room. And so, thing's really thin. So that's been a big one for me. I'm in another peer led mastermind, which same thing, whether it's just people making bigger bets. And these, in the last few years of my life have been the absolute critical communities. But one particular relationship is... And she spoke at our event.
Shelene Johnson, her husband Brett Johnson has been a powerful mentor in my life and they've really helped me to think bigger. And here's the phrase, Brett actually has this tattooed on his arm and it's, "Scared money don't make money." He literally has that written on his forearm. And I've heard him say that, but it wasn't even just the phrase, it was watching them as well. So I got to speak for Shelene. I'm one of her students of Market Impact Academy from way back in maybe 2016. And so, she also trusted me and believed in me. It was the first time I had spoken at event that size. I was terrified. And just having someone to give you a shot. Also, I got off, I was like, "How did I do?" She's like, "All right." It couldn't be some good. I mean, I knew you would be good enough for me to invite you, but...
And I think she text me as one of her students, she said, "Hey, would you be willing to speak at my event if you'd allow me to coach and mentor you through it?" And I'm like, "Willing." Talk about the greatest gift in the world, any mentorship or coaching, are you kidding? And so, from being exposed to the events, they were doing the size of the stage, the moves they were making, scared money don't make money. And so that phrase has never left the vernacular of Think Media. It's one of our mantras to where you got to... You're really not going to have those big forward movements in your business if you don't take those risks.
And I think this journey is perfectly modeled that because a $100,000 was terrifying year one, and then by year five, that wasn't even the entirety of one individual's keynote fee. So it's like, "Could we just continue to make bigger bets?" And I would think and hope that it gets easier. And what I'm learning is it does not. The numbers obviously, yes, they get bigger but as we did this one, I was like, "Man, it was good." Sometimes, I think you have to be self aware of your mental health, your team's health, the season of life you're in. Not every season is the season to go down in a snowy pit and pick a fight with a lion. But I think that there's seasons where you maybe need to self-identify.
Have you been complacent for a while? Do you need to shake things up a little bit? And simply, the virtue of putting yourself in pressure situations, I think is important in certain seasons to force personal growth. That is the mindset that I understand that it's not me getting up and getting self motivated that will help me grow the most, it's me committing to something and putting that original money wire on the line that helped... It was the greatest leadership development year of my life. It started from a decision, it started from a couple questions, some inquiry, and then it started from making a decision. And so, "Scared money don't make money." That's the mantra.

Chris:

Wonderful. So I got this other question. I mean, it is a lot of work to put together an event, especially one of the size of investment that you're making. You're committing yourself to making a million dollar investment with questionable profitability, breakeven, lose money, you're accepting of the consequences if it goes south, it's a brand marketing play. What toll does it take on your mental and physical health leading into this? Did you lose weight? Is the team stressed out of their mind or is it just smooth sailing?

Sean:

Stressed out of our mind, it would be the toll. I mean, the first thing that also happened was, again, I think of that you have to soberly evaluate the health of all parties involved, what they can take. And I think there's something to say about do we have enough for today? So, did we have enough money in the bank to make the first decision? We do. Do we have enough skill sets to get the ball down the field for the first couple months leading up to this? We did. But one of the big things that happened was an absolute legend on our team, Melissa Caputo, she's our marketing director. She was basically our key point event planner at first. We knew that it was a weight that was beyond her eventually, but it started with being entirely on her shoulders. And she's just an absolute... Checking in with her, she's ride or die, Think Media.
But at first, it was super heavy and we just would adapt as we went, meaning eventually midcourse, we then hired an external event planning company, Jessie Schwartzburg, who had worked with Tony Robbins and then other events of that style over the last 20 years. Now, she has her own company and her and her team got involved. And these are the things that also started to become really scary. Because now, we're spending multiple tens of thousands of dollars adding that on. But what I started to realize was this weaving through a lot of things. So yes, there's my health but here's my greater concern would be Melissa's health. If we keep going on this, she would have a breakdown. And also, we would not get to the end result we want to. And so it'd be a lose, lose, lose.
So then it would be like, "Shoot, we're already have a lot of money on the line, but we got to bet even more money for multiple reasons." The end experience, the quality of the event, but also the team's health. Then of course, there's the AV side of things. I will say actually, this is a huge ingredient, us pulling off this scope and deciding to do hybrid, deciding to do virtual and in-person was a whole another challenge, was me going to my friend Pedro Adao's event and seeing that he had two companies, Crescent as audio, video and lighting, and then SAGE as handling the virtual side in Zoom rooms with 20 MacBook Pros, stitched together through their proprietary software. And everything is more complex than you think, but having spoken at his event and seeing both sides, I go, "There's the key." I go, "We can do virtual. Let's see if we can hire these two companies."
What ended up happening though was that SAGE did not end up working out because of their schedule. And we did not know that until way too late in the game. So those are the problems that started coming our way. So in answer to your question, macro... My health did not suffer. And I think it's from the prioritization of I continue to... I have separate health challenges of some repetitive stress injury from typing, a carpal tunnel. I just went through a 21 injections, but that was preceding this. I maintained spending time with family, running is one of my favorite things to do to protect my mental health and have ideas and eat healthy, et cetera. And I think part of it was also, there was a level of letting go of things I could not control.
I think I could have just... I heard worrying is like chewing bubble gum thinking [inaudible 00:27:50] like it'll change the situation or just like in a rocking chair, going back and forth. And there's no doubt about it, these things were weighing on my mind and the pressure, the finances, but I just had to keep letting things go. I thought most about my team's health, protected my own health. And then, I had to not be gun shy. It was that first decision forced me to make a hundred more bold decisions and to not be slow about them. That's one of the biggest things I learned leadership wise. I was like, "Hey, we're already in this." It's the analogy of skiing where if you've ever skied before, there's something about you have to fully lean into the mountain to where it's scary where you're looking down. And if you only lean in halfway, you're still going to fall backwards.
And so it was like, "Okay, we tipped over the edge of the slope, we're going now but I can't actually hit the brakes now, I actually need to hit the gas." And from the other side of the coin, that also could be delusional, that could be like, "It's all sunk cost, but you're so bought in. I'm going to keep going into Bitcoin, it's just tanking and who knows, maybe it'll all..." But it's like it could go either way, I suppose, because I could have been like, "Let's go all the way up to a million," and we just get crushed. But I was making strategic decisions along the way. We need to add the event, people as well. Waiting, waiting, waiting. We can't do SAGE. How are we going to do the virtual thing? What software do we need to buy? Okay, who else do we need to hire?
And so, we started to rally around the necessary people. And that goes back to that whole thing of you make that one decision leads to a million other decisions you have to make, but seeing things start to happen in your favor. Problems, you start to articulate to friends, and they go, "I know somebody that can help." And every second of the year leading up to Grow With Video Live mattered. And the other thing I should add to the equation that made it the most stressful on our corporate health of our team was also that we basically kept our business running the same way it runs anyways. So, I learned a lot that the idea and the audacity to go try to do an event of this scale, and you're not an event company. This is not something you normally do, is extremely taxing and we didn't really hire new staff for that or anything.
In hindsight now, I realized that, "Okay, if we worked with Jessie and her team from the beginning..." And of course, we learned so many things, that's what's really nice. It truly leveled us up where we made a decision as much positive feedback as we got. Even before the event happened, we made a decision that we're not doing it next year. And we're actually not going to do it 2023 or 2024 as a team director team before it happened. And once it did happen, half the team started saying, "Oh, just kidding. Look at how good the feedback was. Literally, it was off the charts." But the self-awareness of that we are not an event company. And yes, even though it would be smoother now. The other part was I was like, "I don't really know where we go from here because we could have Gary back, but he's more expensive now. And that wouldn't be as cool. What is the combination of speakers? What do we have, Joe Rogan next? And are we just trying to one up ourselves?"
It accomplished the purpose for which we set out. We will keep doing events that'll be like, send an email to our list and be smaller and more focused on... Less going the celebrity speaker route, more like friends. But I threw a lot at you there, but that was as far as the health goes, it for sure put some tax on our team. And to throw a couple things that I thought about, I think casting the vision, a highly recommended book is called At Your Best by Carey Nieuwhof. I actually had him on our podcast, really great dude. And it's about working your green zone, your red zone, your yellow zone. And one thing though about if you're in a season that's an unsustainable pace, the key is a finish line.
So I think one of the things we said for our team was we're like, "There is a finish line. This is too much. It's too heavy, we couldn't carry this for life, but we can carry this leading up to this event. We're going to be thoughtful. If you need something, we'll purchase it. If you need a break... We'll figure this out. If you need help, we'll staff around that, temporarily contractor." And there is a finish line though. And another decision we made which was not simply based on this, but for our team in general, we just got back a month ago, we took our entire team kids, wifes, spouses, everything to Disneyland. And that was also on the calendar. So we were being thoughtful. We were like, "We know there's the side of this that is very heavy, that could really..."
What good is it if we get to the event and we're bitter, mean, mad? We got to pace ourselves. We got to focus on this, but how do we also invest in our team? Show our team that we value them while we're absolutely pushing them to the limits, guard our own health. And then the final thing I'd say though is again, I don't look back with any regrets, but my friend Pedro says it this way. "Yeah, events cause a lot of brain damage." And he's like, "You got to count the cost of the brain damage." And it's a good way of putting it. It's just the mental pressure stress. There's only so much running in ashwagandha, vitamin C shots you can take to try to knock down that stress. It's just real, it's just heavy. And I think you have to make a decision if it's sustainable, if it's something you want to keep doing, but I am really glad we did it in this case because we did survive. That's for sure. We made it through the other side.

Chris:

You made it.

Greg Gunn:

Time for a quick break, but we'll be right. Welcome back to our conversation.

Chris:

Was the fifth iteration of Grow With Video a big win in your book?

Sean:

Oh, huge win. I mean-

Chris:

Okay.

Sean:

Yeah. Once it was all said and done, it was an absolute win. And I think by every metric, I think monopolize would say that, event sales agency would say that, crest and audio would say that, Jessie would say that. In fact, Jessie who's been in event industry, the event planner, she was also hearing... She said this about our attendees. She said, "In 20 years in the industry, I have never met a better group of people," which speaks to maybe who we attract or who the speakers attract. So she said, "This is one of the best events I've been a part of, and the vibe and the energy..." She was like, "People were kind and respectful." So things like that were a win. You always get a few complaints, but they were very minimal. I mean, extremely minimal. Most people's report was this is the best event I've ever attended. The content turned out great so we got the content out of the other side.
I mean, personally even, I was doing so much logistics and fighting other battles in our business and life back in Grow With Video Live one. So I was doing my slides and my sessions the night before the event started. Even just the runway by having enough team members. I still had plenty of pressure, but I went into it as rested as I could ask to be. And so net-net, it really turned out smooth team, loved it. Again, challenging, pushed some of us to the physical limits because events are like morning tonight. You know what I mean? You're in this 6:00 to 12:00. Every day, you just get... Depending on who you are on the team. So all that to say is, yeah, it's historic. We have all of our marketing for, especially the speaker's face, but I want to turn it into a movie poster. It is a defining moment in my life career and for our team and for all the scars... I think I speak for our entire team and I spoke for the other teams.
Coming out of the other side, we look back with gratitude, humility, appreciation, saying it's a win. And then financially saying, "And we made it." We were positive. And then some, because were positive on ticket sales and we then made our own offer. And I mean, it's all relative but I've heard others that do crazy with it. We'd never really done an offer like that. And that went well, we learned from that. But financially, it was a win and brand building wise, it was a win, and relationship building was a win. And I think from the other speakers, the speakers' feedback. There could be a part two, it would be the 10 part series. It's helped me being in the church world, but I really value something I don't see much anywhere else which would be honor. And I've spoken at maybe a hundred to 200 events now.
I've never experienced what we did for our speakers, whether that was how they got to the hotel, having someone to host them, giving them gifts. I shot videos for every single one of them and had video cards and all of their rooms, the way we treated them as speaker lounge and all these different things. And for us, that's based in the principle of honor which is, of course, one a reflection of the culture we want to create at our company. But also two, the idea of we want to make an investment.
That was part of it too. If we can use all these dollars to invest in people and in brand and in content, that's what we're investing in. We're not actually investing in the financial arbitrage of this one event. So I'd like to spend more, like everybody that was a speaker. We said on the video, I said, and "Hey, if you wanted to take advantage of the M spa," or whatever. Now again, I don't know if other speakers are listening to this and you've been to some events, I've been to some amazing events and I've been treated decently well, but I've also been on the other side of the spectrum.
I've been shocked by how poorly speakers can be treated. So we absolutely were intentional about every detail of this event from me being in all these different experiences I had, we added them all together and we truly set out to try to do the greatest event from an attendees standpoint, picking volunteers, having the volunteers take care of the attendees, trying to appreciate all across the board. And the result was I actually feel proud and that we got pretty dang near to as good of executing our intent as possible.

Chris:

So, it would've been all right for you. Still would be considered to win if you produced this event and lost some money. Most people don't go into the event business because they plan to make a ton of money most. They know it's a lost leader for other things, for you it's a brand play. You also mentioned that there was an offer. Do you mind sharing with us, you did a million dollars in ticket sales. What did you do in your offer sales?

Sean:

So our offer was $5,000 and we did 80 units and we did not even all at the event, but that... This is part six of the 10 part mini course we should create. It also forced us... This was part of the growing pains. It forced us to rethink our whole business and customer journey because one, we didn't want to do an offer because if it wasn't right. And if we didn't have one, we didn't have anything that's higher ticket than a thousand in our business. We also though, and part of that, not knowing we would've been profitable on ticket sales was also part of a, not putting our company in a vulnerable spot by using that offer to fill in the gaps. Like worst case scenario, maybe we break even without, or worst case scenarios maybe we are a $100,000 negative with that. But we also weren't just going to force something for the sake of that.
We were measuring our own energy, our team's bandwidth, measuring brands, we start a new brand, do we off like... There was so many different things and through lots of plan succeed through a multitude of white wise council through a lot of processing. We actually found the iteration of I believe... And I did not want to do something reactionary though, just to solve one problem in the event.
So there's a lot of pressure when trying to plan an event to also architect where I think our company should go, but we found a synergy of that. So when we launched what was called the Grow With Video Live Bootcamp, it's now something we'll just do quarterly, which was our first time of doing coaching and accountability. Like time with Heather, time with me, six weeks cohort environment. And we really eventually dialed that in. So, it even had to do with reworking things where sun setting our other membership program. It became a domino that affected all these other dominoes that in the power of focus and essentialism was arguably not even the right time to try to even think about that stuff, but it was all converging.
And so, we ended up coming to together with that. So what is a hundred units on that's half a mill? And so, that ended up being 400 and not all collected at once, but therefore we ended up at one and a quarter with about $350,000 profitability, which is actually incredible. I have a friend that runs one of the biggest running events in San Diego year over year, multimillion dollar budget. And they're running on events, profit margins of 15%, 20%. And so, I'm not good at math. You might be, but we were a good 30%-

Chris:

You outperformed that?

Sean:

Yeah, yeah. It's 30%, 35% profitability. And we checked all those other boxes and pulled out what we hoped to be no stops. Whether that was, because you were part of the platinum experience and the business day. So whether that was the event and the food there, and you want to talk about... I mean, there was times when our VIP room filled and we had to move VIP which you were in those lunches to the pavilion, which was another $40,000. We were just in a place where I was just numb to it. They'd be like, "Listen, if you we're packed here, but if we move it to this next, it's going to be another $40,000 and then food and bev." And so, you're just playing at that game. You're throwing around $5,000 and $10,000 like it's a joke. Like it [inaudible 00:42:04]. I mean, whatever. I just got to sign off on it. And trust me though, I was numb to it but I was still calculating it.
And it was like, "Yeah, I know. We got to keep making bold moves." And the momentum we have. So when we moved to the pavilion, there was only one week, but the event sales agency was in place and they had... Then I talked to Brian and I was like... He's like, "Yeah, we have a lot of leads to still follow up with." And I'm like, "Well, if we're full on VIP now, how many more VIP or platinum tickets we'll we need to sell to pay off doing the pavilion?" And if it's like, "Well, if we do two platinums and da da..." And so I was like, "Okay, calculated risks at each step of the way."
So anyways, yeah. So it was great. So it turned out really good and that's a whole another win, the pressure. My friend going all the way back to the lead domino, that was my intent. I was like, this pressure applied to... If it's not going to kill us and it didn't, will make us better. It made our company better. It streamlined our product line. It just put us into a pressure situation that forced a lot of things. Of course, it could have gone the whole other direction, but that's a whole nother aspect of the win. I believe our product suite and our customer journey is more dialed and more clear now because of needing to get it right because of the pressure of this event.

Chris:

Here's just something I remember that was really funny. There's two moments. Quick answer, two moments. One was when Gary was doing his own thing, how when he would finish talking, you would just soldier on like, "Let's just go right back." He's dropping F bombs, he's saying crazy things. And then, you just kept going on like the Terminator, just having a conversation. I remember it got a good laugh from the audience just because you're so determined to get through it. The other part was you went to do a talk and you talked about something about fishing and there was a metaphor. And then, you were stumbling through it. Was that a planned fumble or was that just you, "You know what? I lost my place in it. I'm just going to own it and just move on," because they both got really good reactions.

Sean:

It's funny you remember that fishing moment. No, that was an absolute blunder because that was my most underdeveloped talk in terms of showing up prepared.

Chris:

Yeah.

Sean:

I also felt the stakes were higher. Lots of people that didn't know us, if you will cold traffic or whatever that came to the event from other people. So I wanted my talks to be good. I felt like my first one went really well. In hindsight, I felt like the second one was all right as well. But as I was preparing, part of it was I had notes in the PowerPoint. So on the confidence monitor, I had notes in the PowerPoint and I knew where I wanted to go with those. But for the listeners, it's like... I was trying to use the example of getting attention online and fishing. You have different lures for different fish. So you're creative, your thumbnails, your title, your things should be thoughtfully intentional and different lures attract different fish.
But really I absolutely have zero. I don't even have enough. If I had more time, I could have watched two hours of YouTube videos and actually absorbed. I have zero fishing knowledge. And so, I tried to tie it into a story my... Which was true. My stepdad Phil had taken me fishing a couple times and I learned some stuff there. And so, it was arguably it was a strong analogy. It was just very underdeveloped. And eventually, I hit a point in preparation for Growth Video Live where that was not my main battle to fight.
And once I found myself in stage, it was part of my deck, but I had zero rehearsal and I lost my place and felt like I was floundering, floundering absolutely sinking. And so I was like, "Oh, whenever you get the point." So I'm glad it went over well, but literally, and-

Chris:

It did.

Sean:

I'm a pretty smooth speaker. And normally, there may be a zero blunder, at least maybe I know about the blunder, but that was one I literally just dead end. And I was like, "Okay, you know what? Forget it, whatever." It kind of move on and definitely was disrupted from my cadence.

Chris:

Because you were dropping jokes and doing your thing, that my friend Mo and I were... I'm like, "No, I think Sean lost his place, but he just owned it." And it's very lovable that you did. And then Mo turns me, "No, that was scripted. He did it on purpose just to win the audience over," but either way-

Sean:

I'm glad it worked out.

Chris:

... The impact, whatever. It worked. It really worked.

Sean:

The Gary thing I did, it was a weird vibe. I mean, all I need to do was the question I asked him, but what was also funny was that the way my mind works. Yeah. I am asking a question also out of curiosity. I'm asking questions based on the audience, questions based on what I think will also be good on social media later or whatever. I'm thinking about questions that are relevant. And because of my... It's the desire to close the loop. So, it's funny as you said, you're right. There was times where I'd ask a question and then he would just rant and let me ask it again. And there was six deviations he would do. And I would just keep coming back, right?

Chris:

Right.

Sean:

Or whatever it's because I didn't know where else to go. I was like, "Okay. Yeah, but the questions still... But Gary, yeah." The loop is not closed. So I am going to persistently fight and to close the loop.

Chris:

He didn't answer your question that was the problem.

Sean:

And actually, yeah, he never answered it. So I was like, "All right."

Chris:

He didn't answer it.

Sean:

That's so funny. No, I mean, I love it. I love hearing your observation from viewing it from that vantage point. It wasn't very interesting interview. And I think what I learned there though, was just letting the margin happen and letting things breathe. And ultimately, letting Gary be Gary. One of the big frustrating points there was me giving the ground rules for the Q and A and wanting to get to as much Q and A as possible. And as you remember, I was like, "Okay, don't pitch your thing. Don't tell your life story. Pre-write your question. Be very concise." And then the guy gets up there. It's like seven minutes, it's literally life story. It's literally an... And then not even a question because some people once they get to the mic, they're like, "I want to tell Gary my story." All that to say... I mean, I'm in my own mind too.
Mainly, I'm just sad for other people. I go, "All I know is this is eating up time." I go on. And because I had given up expectation, it wasn't that... I was like, "Whatever. I mean, what are you going to do?" And then, I'm deeply trying to weigh, "Do I interrupt him? Is it my place?" Now, I was trying to be a good leader of the whole conversation by giving ground rules. He's breaking them. I'm sure the audience has empathy for that. I avoid confrontation. I like being diplomatic. I don't want to be passive though. And so at that point, Gary's kind of... I mean, you want to talk about just... Yeah, these are just the onstage juggling acts and the amount of things going on in my mind of just constant moments where I feel like the ship is sinking. This is the Titanic. I'm lost on this illustration. We're going down. Is there hope? Is there any recovery? And trying to do just smile and push through, but in your mind, the building's on fire. Wow. And man, it's an emotional roller coaster up there sometimes.

Chris:

The thing about Q and A is as tricky because people do not listen to the rules and it was broken from the jump. The first guy goes up, does a testimony and just doesn't even ask a question. And then it sets the tone. So the next person's like, "Fine. They got away with it. I'm going to get away with it." And it's tough because you don't want to be rude and you're trying to be respectful and you feel the heat from the audience like, "Ugh, what's going on? And you do what you got to do." I personally, because I'm more confrontational I'm like, "Stop, stop. What's your question? Let's go." Nope, you're selling, stop.

Sean:

Yeah. I should have had you up there because... Yeah. I just thought guy go on and on.

Chris:

I would do it for you. I'm the executioner.

Sean:

Yeah.

Chris:

The way that you would ask the question, Gary would do his thing. You try, "But Gary," he would do his thing and he'd... "But Gary." And we were just all watching this, feeling your pain. What do you do with a person who has his own mind, but you're still trying to get it back on the tracks if you will. But the train left a long time ago.

Sean:

It left a long time ago.

Chris:

Yeah. You're so good at like, "Let me try this one more time." You just didn't give up. And it's very admirable and it's very... I know this is weird term, but it's very endearing. It really is like, "Look at Sean, he's going to just keep trying and then eventually, okay, time is up."

Sean:

I think my mentality was also from my experience on stages and events and speaking elsewhere is also to keep your cool-

Chris:

Yeah.

Sean:

... Keep smiling and just keep pushing through. Because what I have seen is on the other side, I've seen speakers lose it, their slides aren't working. And I've been in these situations like AV teams, letting them down or something on their own that you messed your own deck up and you lose it in the middle and just also remembering, or also resting B face. What do you look like when you're not asking the question? I mean, I really take... Or when you're not talking even what is your expression on panels. A lot of times people, especially I know in your industry as well, they might go to an industry event and they're typically not panel people. They have no clue. So it's like, when they're not being asked the question, they're just looking off.
Because why would they know? And it's not something, but on the opposite side of it. And so, all that to say was part of that was me and my mind being like, "You know what? Here's my job, keep it cool. Don't..." What I'm necessarily thinking don't show it on my face because it's not going to be helpful if I look annoyed or if I get mad or if I look frustrated or if I lose my cool or if I'm just... And so, that was at least the vantage point. And I was trying to get in that zen place that generally realizing that, especially at the event, once we had so much team around me and people we'd hired and so on and so forth, my number one job as the leader of really the whole thing is actually just to protect my heart above all else, to guard my heart, guard my mindset and just stay in an emotionally empowered spiritually strong place.
Even when it's just the train is off the rails, right? And I think great leadership is to keep your calm is to... And I've watched people lose it or they lose it because he never knew what to expect from the other person. Because there's so many curve balls.

Chris:

Right.

Sean:

You get into a territory of, "Okay, where even are we? I have no idea where we are." And then just trying to navigate back. All right, let's keep it going. Let's stay on track here. Smiling. And not let's stay on track here from a frustrated like, "Oh man." So anyways that's where I was coming from.

Chris:

It was good. Okay. Let's reflect back on this. I would like to ask you this question, of all the different things that you did to drive ticket sales and to try to sell out the event. What was the number one biggest driver in your opinion or based on the data?

Sean:

Well, there's a couple things we did, I think very strategic. One, I don't know which one was the biggest I should mathematically as the leader, but I think there's just five strategic moves maybe. The first one was pre-sale the year before at a really low ticket rate. And I think we did 250 ticket sales. Now, this also speaks to maybe how many people show up, because I've heard if you sell under $497, and even at that price point, people go, "Yeah. I mean, it's not even worth it to get on a plane now. Life has changed. My kids are," whatever. But nevertheless, we sold those and we also had VIP. And these are $200 tickets a year ahead of time. And then VIP met, you got lunches. And we sold like 75 of those, which was created that initial momentum.
The second thing we did was challenges. As a separate note, we did challenges that had three ticket levels. Normally we do a challenge. We sell our online YouTube course. And what we did was you could get our YouTube course in a virtual ticket at no extra charge for a thousand. You could get our... But the three offer levels, during these two challenges we did, six months out and three months out. At a $1,500 level, you could get a GA ticket and at a 2K level, you get the course, some other bonuses, and you also get a VIP ticket. I would argue those were the biggest move. You want the juicy marketing nugget. I knew that most people burn up way too much money marketing events. They're panicked, ad spends going through the roof. It's what pushes it not into profitability. So, instead of wanting to do the majority of our ad spend on marketing the event, we did the majority of our ad spend on challenges which we already knew worked and tied the event to the challenges.
Another way to put it would be when we do our challenges, we have spent $50,000, a $100,000, $150,000, $200,000 on ads, maybe more than that, maybe quarter mill. And we already knew we could do them profitably. So then my thought was I would rather do that. Also, have the email list build, also have the digital course which we can scale profitably and also promote the event. So, if there was one thing, it was the two challenges where you could call it. It's all gravy too. Is that make sense? Maybe on the second one, we spent a $100,000, but I wouldn't even count that towards the ad spend budget of the event because the challenge in and of itself was profitable with the offer. Yes, of course, we had fulfillment. And I'm not even sure how we did the math.
We did not calculate that ad spend because it was unnecessary to calculate that ad spend in that. I mean those ticket sales, I'm merking it up or messy middle of all that. And then, you finally get into the last push. Organic could be a big one. I mean, Think Media people who know us, the videos on Think Media, there was definitely some strategic, creative, our podcast listeners. So we hit all our email list educating. And one guy who is worth studying. I don't even know where he could get this content, but Dan Kennedy is a legendary direct response marketer and he does have some teachings out on selling out events. And his first thing is events selling out an event or getting butts and seats, as he would say is a hundred times harder than you think it is.
Take whatever marketing efforts you think you should do and literally a hundred X them. We were not passive about this, integration and podcast, organic YouTube content, multiple... Reels, TikToks. And I also think overcoming the idea of, are people going to be upset if we talk about it too much, if we post about it too much and letting that mindset go. If that offends you then great. This is the time that this is where we part paths, because this is a no fail thing. We got to push for this and we need to do a hundred times more activities than we think we need to do. And then, the final push would be the actual ad spend on ticket sales which was maybe $50,000, which would be... It was low. So the ad spend to the challenges was even more but was done profitably. So I think that would be a huge for any listeners where it's relevant.
That's a big unlock was market something that in and of itself is effective and have your event on the back end rather than try to go cold traffic ads just to the event. I think it could be too hard. Of course, it depends on so many factors of how good your creative is, how good your event is, how good your speakers are, how good your a buyer is, how good a lot of things, how good follow up or retargeting so many distinctions, but those are things.

Chris:

Okay.

Sean:

So, another way to put it is literally we did it all. There's a verse in Ecclesiastes that says, "Plant your seed in the morning and water in the evening, because you don't know which thing will actually produce the result." And that's what we said. We're like, what are effective marketing channels or things we could do?
Let's do them all at as best level as we can, 10 times to a hundred times more than we think we should do them. And then mind you, Chris, this is crazy, right? At most, we had 800 people in the room. The 1200 tickets sold, the amount of reach that... And by the way, virtual is a thousand people about concurrent like 700, 800. So there's the whole virtual side and that's amazing too. There's recordings and all kinds of things. But the level Gary Vee, Alex and Pat like Vegas, like communication is... And by the way, you're in a pandemic world, flights are up. Life is happening. Do I actually really want to get on a plane? Am I even going to show up in every session? I'm just going to go to the pool and just go to Gary's session. The level of difficulty. And as Dan Kennedy would put it getting butts and seats is absolute insanity. So it's not for the timid. If you want to on the back end, say room is full though. Event is fire. Things are amazing. Yeah. And here's what it took to ultimately reach that level.

Chris:

You mentioned challenged. Can you tell me one of the challenges that you ran, just so I can understand what you did, because that seemed to be an integral part of how this became a success for you.

Sean:

So we do the Tube 1K Challenge, how to get your first a thousand subscribers and earn your first $1,000 with YouTube five days, five days of free content in a Facebook group, or you could do it Mighty Networks or Discord or anything you want to do, but it's challenges were made popular back when to be a fitness challenge, like a seven day bootcamp to lose 20 pounds. But it's one of the best marketing methods for almost any business and people do three day challenges, five day challenges. And that's another podcast episode in itself too. We found that it would be very powerful. It's the focused intensity. It's the level of free content. It's the actually a challenge we're going to give you daily homework and all that kind of stuff. And we had done them. Fortunately, this might have been challenge eight or nine for us or 10 for us.
So, the confidence that was my marketing strategy was like, the challenge works. Let's get more virtual tickets at the exact same price point of what we've done in the challenge of the past. And then let's add these other two ticket levels. And so, that then is just a push forward to say, "And then, by the way." So here's the cool thing, you can watch online from anywhere in the world at what it already has been. And we already knew... So we knew how to do... We already had the content on the challenge which we always try to improve and make better, but we already had the ads sequences down and the branding. So we've repeatedly done. We've done the Tube 1K Challenge, the Youtube Influence Challenge. I think it was called Tube Influence Challenge, we've done. And they've been similarly, we've done a seven day, we've done a five day. We just keep... We do maybe three a year.
And so, that was also... Once we had our one big thing that our business was mapping to, not at the expense of everything else. It was just orienting our energy towards while simultaneously, but all being towards Grow With Video Live. So Grow With Video Live became the countdown. So is this chance of, if we do this, let's also tell people about Grow With Video Live. If we have a challenge, let's also tie this in some way. If people meet us somewhere else by the book or join somewhere else, let's just hit it from different things. And so, it was the intentional weaving in of Grow With Video Live being a part of that. And so, that's what a challenge. That's how we did it.

Chris:

Very good, super clear. What's one thing you would do differently?

Sean:

It was probably a hundred things as far as... I mean I made decisions fast as I could. If it was one thing, I would've made decisions even faster and not... The two things I should have done that are everything's on me, but that were just really on me for the sanity of my team. One could have been meant I hustled harder, so the even better thing would've been to reduce things on our calendar. So the biggest mistake I made was whenever you say yes to something, it is a no to something else, right? And actually whenever you say no to something, you're saying yes because to having more free time, because you just said no to this. I could have really discerned how heavy this was going to be. And given us more margin rather than just allowing us to basically keep our day to day the same.
I Think Media while also trying to run a million dollar event, which is insane in of itself. That's its own business, by the way. If all the business did, a seven figure business with a 30% profitability. If all the business did was spend a million and come out at 1.3, after you pay all the staff and everybody else, then that's an incredible annual seven figure business. We did that and the 48 other things that we do in Think Media. So for myself and the team, if I would've said allowed us to say no to a couple projects, to create a more margin which affects the second mistake which would've allowed me to make key decisions sooner. If we would've got Jessie's team on sooner, there would've been more peace about it, like the event planner sooner. So, in the first three to six months by allowing, by being like, "Oh, Grow With Video Lives a year out" and not neglecting it in that regard.
But realizing there are just some strategic decisions. If I give myself less or the team less said less to one or two projects so that some clear thinking and some just hustling through to make some key decisions earlier, it would've saved so much that downstream consequences would've just meant more peace of mind, more health. And not only do I have to own that, but that's a big lesson of the pressure of leadership is trying to think through of the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth order consequences of making a decision or delaying a decision and who that's going to affect six months or nine months later. And not that I need to justify or give myself grace in it, but this is why I hope that this episode's also been valuable is... This is why it's been the greatest leadership year of my life. Because the grace that I would have for myself is just like, "Yeah, what do I know? What do know about running a million dollar event? What does our team know?"
So the list of lessons... This is why it's so hard to not do it over the next two years is because I literally feel like we're built for battle now. We just know so many things we do different and I do believe... Again, we will still do events and it'll look different and maybe we'll come back with a major bang in 2025 and who knows 10,000 people Mandalay Bay Arena, T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, who knows? But you sometime like that? That be my encouragement for the team. "Ah, we could have done this better." I'd be like, "Are you kidding? Yes. It was a Grow With Video Live 5, but this was literally the first time we ever attempted something like this." So the fact that it came out the way it did, how much more if we were to do it a second or third time. All the artists and designers listening to this know that their first attempt or that your first time trying something, it was nowhere near you becoming the master craftsman of a little while later.
And so anyways, definitely thinking through making hard decisions, creating the margin to make the right decisions earlier and not delaying because the downstream effects are heavily affected by important decisions.

Chris:

It sounds to me, if I were to sum up the two lessons that you just shared with us, I could probably say it in one word would just focus.
Doing too many things. You focus in, you would've caught whatever decisions needed to be made, but you had too many different things to do. And it is a herculean effort to try and produce an event of the scale in which you did, which takes me to my final observation reflection on all this and a little backstory that you may or may not know about, which is I'm in Las Vegas like a month before. I'm at a MoGraph meetup and our mutual friend, Jace says, "Hey, are you going to Sean's thing?" I'm like, "I don't even know what Sean's thing is. Tell me about this." And he told me about this million dollar gamble that you're going to make. And I'm like, "Why would he do that?" You're not going to be financially whole, this is the craziest thing ever. And I wonder what the media play is going to be like, okay, I understand the brand play.
I get it. I understand. And so you and I were alike, but different in several different ways. We're similar in terms of our YouTube channel, in terms of our subscriber, similar amount of time building our content online. I started in 2014 just as a hobby. I think you were 2015, and seeing your growth and all this stuff. This would be an interesting case study to study how two entrepreneurs work. You saying, make bigger bets. You got to go for it and scare money, don't make money. And me just tried and truly just steady as she goes. I'm super curious. What happens in a year, two years from now? We look back on this moment where you made these huge gambles had this greatest year of leadership growth and how that transforms you. We didn't even get into those bits, because we're just so focused on the event itself.
You have changed as a person because of the event. So forget about the money or the profitability of you've built a second business or not. I'm just super psyched to plant that seed here today to just market in time that a year, two years from now, we'll look back in this moment like, "Oh, Sean makes some big moves, he's balling now." And here we are, we didn't make those moves. And we took a different strategy. So, I'm just super excited. I'm happy for you. You're a man of faith. You're a family person. You've overcome adversity. And you're a person who, as you described like college dropout and you did your thing and here you are in your groove in your moment, doing the work that's important, that's meaningful, that's impactful to you.
And it's evidenced by the community which is coalesced around you because I've never seen a more enthusiastic, generous audience. They literally did a standing ovation for almost every speaker before they even walked up on stage. That is nuts to me. And so, that observation by Jessie was spot on. I've never seen an audience like that. I've seen generous audience before, but not quite like that. They're a 100% there I think to support you and they wanted to see you do well. So congratulations to you, Sean.

Sean:

Thank you so much. I really appreciate your kind words and man's been super fun talking about this and I appreciate the detail of your questions and this is some geeky content, but it's been quite a journey. And I look forward to continuing to connect and building together over the years.

Chris:

Likewise. Now, Sean, if people want to find out more about you, where do we direct them? How did they continue this conversation with you?

Sean:

Yeah, I mean you said at Sean Cannell rhymes with YouTube channel at Sean Cannell on Instagram. And I think YouTube Secrets, if people are interested in YouTube, the second edition book just came out and it's 80 new pages updated for a new decade. And then yeah, you can look us up. I think Think Media is the YouTube channel and Think Media podcast is a weekly podcast that we do on YouTube and audio. So, anywhere would absolutely love to serve, love to help. And we're on a mission honestly, to double the crater economy and specifically through the vehicle of YouTube. And we're a team of creators now trying to help people with the best practices of starting channels, growing channels, growing your business with YouTube marketing. And so, check us out, think Media and Sean Cannell on social media.

Chris:

My community, when they heard about you coming on, I'm like, "When is this episode? Just relax everybody. It's just coming out." So they're geeking out too. And I told them, I'm going to ask you all these questions that oftentimes I don't get an opportunity to ask, but also because the person doesn't want to tell me the answers and this is one of these perfect moments. You're very transparent. I am too. You're very open about everything, strengths and weaknesses. You're super humble and grounded. And I love that. I appreciate you. Thank you for your time today.

Sean:

Thank you. My name is Sean Cannell and you are listening to The Future.

Greg Gunn:

Thanks for joining us this time. 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, Greg Gunn. Thank you to Anthony Barro for editing and mixing this episode and thank you to Adam Sanborne for our intro music.
If you enjoyed this episode, then do us a favor by rating and reviewing our show on Apple Podcasts. It'll help us grow the show and make future episodes that much better. Have a question for Chris or me, head over to thefutur.com/heychris, and ask away. We read every submission and we just might answer yours in a later episode. If you'd like to support the show and invest in yourself while you're at it, visit thefutur.com. You'll find video courses, digital products, and a bunch of helpful resources about design and creative business. Thanks again for listening and we'll see you next time.

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