Catch Thom Singer on the #PirateBroadcast™
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[00:00:00] Introduction: Welcome to the #PirateBroadcast™, where we interview #interestingpeople doing #interestingthings. Where you can expand your connections, your community, #kindnessiscool and #smilesarefree. Let’s get this party started.
[00:00:10] Russ Johns: Welcome to the #PirateBroadcast™. We're going to have another amazing episode because I actually have somebody in here that has more podcast episodes than I have. Welcome, Thom, how are you doing my friend?
[00:00:22] Thom Singer: I'm doing great. My day is starting off awesome because you just said you're going to interview #interestingpeople doing #interestingthings things and I'm like, I just got a compliment. That's awesome. That's the way to start the day.
[00:00:33] Russ Johns: It absolutely is the best way to start today. We met through lunch club and which I think is... I don't know what your experience is overall, but my experience is great. I've met some terrific people and had some amazing conversations.
[00:00:49] Thom Singer: So lunch club has been great, except for the fact I've been stood up several times. So like some of the people, you schedule a video call and then at the last minute they're like, oh, something came up. So I've probably about one third of the time I've done it, no one has showed. And that's a bummer cause you block an hour when you don't have a lot of time. And it's that's not going to get that hour back, but the people I've met, I don't think I've had a bad conversation. I've probably six or eight people since I've been using it and I find it to be
[00:01:16] Russ Johns: It led to this conversation here today. So it it does have benefits on occasion. I want to go back. Your primary goal in your business is as a speaker and also you're a podcaster which we'll get to in a moment. Speakers have taken a huge hit right now during the last 18 months of this thing we're going through. And it's all of us, it's not just unique to you, but I want to talk about what you've seen and what conversations you're having with other speakers and people in your industry and unpack some of the things that you're going through so people can understand where you're coming in.
[00:01:53] Thom Singer: Yeah. So for 12 years, from 2009 forward, I made my living as a professional speaker for corporations and associations. And I was usually the opening keynote speaker talking about, I started speaking when the iPhone came out and my take was all of these apps and tools, they're great tools, but they don't replace a good human conversation. So how do we get back to human connection? And the concept worked really well. And I started this during the recession. I had been in sales and marketing before that. And when you're in sales and marketing, you go to a lot of conferences and I would watch speakers and think, wow, she or he, they have a better job than I do. So I was thrilled to be able to build a career doing this. And then 18 months ago, it was like a giant parking break got pulled. And it's been a sort of a rough go for people who made their living with anything to do with live meetings. And the big question you always get is just pivot to virtual and that worked for some people, if they were already famous in an industry, or if they had a topic like resilience. But for me, I did some virtual keynoting, a little bit more master of ceremonies work for virtual events, but it didn't pay as well. And it just wasn't the same experience, I think, for speakers and for attendees and participants. So it's just been a rough year.
[00:03:11] Russ Johns: Yeah. And being on stage and presenting and being a keynote, it's a different energy. It's a completely different, you can read the audience, you can see what's going on. You can adjust your the way you present to the audience based on their response. And it's just, it's more dynamic than being on camera like we are today.
[00:03:32] Thom Singer: Well, and if you're good at it, you're able to feel the vibe from the audience. And like you said, you can adjust and more if you can get people involved. The problem with when you're on camera is I have to be able to connect with the audience. I have to stare into that little circle of the camera. And therefore, even if I put it in the middle of my screen, I've seen people who've mounted their cameras, like in the middle of their computer screen. So it's right in the center. But even so, to look at people, you have to go like this or like this, and all of a sudden, you've lost that connection. And so to be really good at it, you don't as the speaker get any feedback because you're staring into the camera. So it's an entirely different skill sets. I think I was good at it, but, I. I didn't like sitting in the corner of my room, for an hour, and then not having any connection with human beings afterwards.
[00:04:19] Russ Johns: Getting claustrophobic and not being able to make the connection in real life is completely different.
[00:04:25] Thom Singer: Plus the lights and my ring light and everything, my eyes get tired after about a couple of hours of doing this type of stuff.
[00:04:31] Russ Johns: Also you're podcasting, which is a slightly different medium that still connects with individuals, but on a completely different level. And you've been doing it for... you're like an OG. You've been doing it for a long time.
[00:04:45] Thom Singer: How do we start? I started my show. It was originally called cool things entrepreneurs do. And it's an interview show where the idea was I would get access to really smart people, who were doing really interesting things. It would be like my own little MBA program by interviewing really successful, up and coming as well, entrepreneurs and it was a lot of fun. It was a good, it was a good show. I thought I would do it for six months. I'm seven years in, it's now called I changed the name. It's now called making waves at C level. So I'm trying to find larger company executives to talk about how they shake things up. But it is a different, my show is audio only. And so it's, it's an entirely different, way of using your voice and being able to connect with people. But, I'm not a hugely successful podcast, but for seven years I've had really good numbers and it's been a lot of fun.
[00:05:34] Russ Johns: For me, it's always a great way to start a conversation and I don't know what motivation you have ultimately with the podcast, but it's a long game. It's not just like we were talking before the show, a lot of podcasts last 12 episodes, and they're gone.
[00:05:53] Thom Singer: Yeah. The pod fade is a real thing. People get into it and they think, oh, I'm going to be bigger than Joe Rogan. And seven weeks later they're getting, 23 downloads. And they're like podcasting doesn't work or whatever. I monetized my podcast early on, but it came from getting speaking gigs. So I would talk when I'd interview people, I would tell them, I make my living as a professional speaker and master of ceremonies for corporate and association events. And I would just work it into the conversation. And both people who I interviewed who often were CEOs, or they belong to associations would say, hey, you'd be great. I like your personality. You'd be great for this conference thatI do. Or people who listen to the show would tell their boss let's consider this person for our sales kickoff. And so I monetized it in the first six months by spinning off keynotes.
[00:06:38] Russ Johns: Yeah. That's a brilliant move. And a lot of people miss out on that small nuance of podcasting. Because if you're talking to the people that you want to work with, it's so much easier to build a relationship. And that's the whole premise of the #PirateSyndicate™ and the #PirateBroadcast™. And the whole pirate attitude is just start a conversation, build a relationship, make the connection and develop a business as a result of those conversations and relationships. It's a simple equation.
[00:07:09] Thom Singer: Which is what I teach. That's what I've been talking to people about for 12 years is how do you get out there and get beyond likes, links, shares, and follows and get to that real human connection. Cause that's where the magic happens.
[00:07:21] Russ Johns: I want to give a shout out to a few people that are in the room now today, Elise. Hello, all pirates. I'm so happy to be here. I am so appreciative of you being here, Elize. Thank you so much, Wendy. Amazing. Good morning pirates. I often take video calls from the deck of the pirate ship. Admiral Russ is a master of human connection. All swabbing and rowing stops cold when a pirate phone rings. Thanks for the call yesterday, Wendy. I, always appreciate talking to you. And Bidyut, hello. How are you doing my friend? And Wendy says making waves at sea level. Welcome to the #PirateSyndicate Thom. You're born to be here.
[00:08:05] Thom Singer: So it is C with the letter C like CEO, but I hadn't thought about it for the pirates at Sea Level, S-E-A.. I should have changed the name. I should've changed the logo behind me just for today. That's great.
[00:08:17] Russ Johns: It says, hello. I'm also happy to be here. Authenticity is so key in any relationship. Howard's a individual that I met through the pirate broadcast, and we become fast friends and we, going back and forth and do a business together. And that's an example, Wendy, same thing, they're individuals that have been in the circle, we've been able to develop and grow business. And as a speaker, it's a little more challenging. However, the same thing takes place. And I think you mentioned that you were on a couple of other podcasts as well, Thom.
[00:08:50] Thom Singer: Yeah. So I had to get really creative over the last two years or year and a half because watching my income go from a fine number, it wasn't, I'm not, I wasn't like super famous. I wasn't making a million dollars a year, but I had a pretty good little thing going for a decade. And to watch it go to zero was really painful. And, I could only cry in the corner for a couple of weeks and I had to get scrappy. I had to get out there and figure out, I, I had a kid who, right when the pandemic started, like two weeks in, she got accepted to an Ivy league college and it's so interesting, the Ivy league still wanted full tuition, even though all the kids were going to either be remote or living in dorm rooms, just on computers for classes. I laughed, I called the university of Phoenix, Ivy league. But I had to figure out how to... she did get a scholarship, but I did have to figure out how to make money and how to do things, et cetera. And it was hard. And one of the things I was already doing was I was hosting a podcast for an association who wanted somebody with experience, with a good personality, with the right voice and the ability to do interview questions rather than just from a list. And they had hired me. And so then I put the word out that, oh, I could do more of these. So I now host three shows where I am the paid host, if you will. And my take on that is that's just another way I've monetized my own podcasts. Cause those almost 700 episodes I've done taught me how to do interviewing. And that led me to having these three paid podcasts that I host. I don't sell advertising per se on my show. I do a little bit, but I don't make a lot of money from it, but I've monetized it by either speaking or these other podcasts that I host have been the payoff, if you will.
[00:10:24] Russ Johns: I think there's a huge opportunity. You're going to be evolving because two things, one video is becoming increasingly more popular. Live streaming has opened up the door to a lot of conversations for business owners. And now I'm seeing, and I've been promoting this idea for years, is that as a business, if you can create content using live video streaming and stripping it off as audio and creating a podcast and then taking sound bites of each one of those individual pieces that are discovered during the conversation in a podcast or a live stream that creates an enormous amount of content that you can use to build authority and build your brand and be present online. And I think a lot of business owners are going to start to see that as an advantage and people like yourself that can do a great interview. Two individuals in a company that may not be as familiar with the online space. It's a huge advantage. And I think there's an opening for you.
[00:11:27] Thom Singer: I think you're right. And one of the things I do with either companies or associations that are having meetings, if they want me to either speak or be the master of ceremonies, I tell them as long as I'm there either virtually or in person, as long as I'm going to be part of your event, use me to do interviews of sponsors. So much like what you're doing with the video broadcast. Right now we can do a side-by-side virtual interview with sponsors talking about why they sponsor the event, how they care about the industry. And it's so much better than the sponsor getting five minutes on stage to do a commercial about their company. And we've all been to conferences where our speaker will be introduced by boots.com and somebody gets up and says, hi, I'm Bob. I'm the president of boots. We make boots. They cover your feet. Nails don't go through our boots. And then they read the bio of the speaker and you're just like, oh man. But if I get in there and I go, why Bob? Why boots? Why not slippers? Why'd you make boots. And then he starts getting passionate about why he loved boots. All of a sudden that video becomes something that is great for the sponsor during the conference, but it also becomes something that the company can use later to promote the company and show the passion they have for their product.
[00:12:35] Russ Johns: It's the long tail play. And they can actually use that content for however long they decide they want to use the content. And and I know that established businesses that have sales teams that have marketing directors and things like that, it takes a little longer for them to adopt, unless they're super creative and I've seen companies do it, and it's incredible the outcome that they can have. And the results, look at Red Bull. Their whole premise was this drink that tastes nasty and it gets all kinds of performance and their videos are engaging and disruptive and just incredible. There's a few ideas there that we could actually share with people. So I look forward to having people like yourself become a very niche, say for instance, if you wanted to do a vertical, like I'm talking to people in the wholesale industry and creating a show and developing a show from people in business and the trades and having somebody that's a professional. An interview person would be phenomenal. And I think it's a very engaging conversation. And I think that there's a lot of, like you said, the passion. Why boots? What's going to be the turn of events here. That's going to draw people to your product and I think that conversation is worthwhile.
[00:13:58] Thom Singer: Yeah. I'm trying to figure out how to market it to people. I can help you create a podcast. We can do these types of video interviews and, I position it... my friend and I started a thing called the conference talk show and we interview people in the conference industry. And part of it is it's a great way for us to meet these people in the conference industry. But we also give out an award for people who have done things during the pandemic that really went beyond the call of duty in the industry. We call it the conference hero. It's a video show like this, where it's broadcast straight onto facebook live and we do these interviews and then some of them, we've got these great little clips that can be used for other things. And, we haven't monetized that show yet, although it has spun off some MC work, but she and I positioned it like it's Ryan and Kelly in the morning. You want to have really good hosts who can engage, who can make it fun and who can do more than ask canned questions. That's one of the things about podcasts or live streams. So often every time you watch it, the person asks the same question. The interviewee answers and then they immediately go to the next question. There's no followup, there's no discussion. And I watched a couple of episodes of this the pirate show for coming on. And you do a great job because every interview is different. You tailor it directly to who your guest is and you ask follow-up questions when they say something, you don't just let an idea or a theory hang out there and then move on. It's not your agenda. You guide the agenda. And that makes for a great show.
[00:15:20] Russ Johns: I have no agenda.
[00:15:22] Thom Singer: That works.
[00:15:24] Russ Johns: I love the spontaneity of it. Like you said, the morning show where they're just riffing on whatever happens to be available to them at the moment. And to me, that's the dynamic that I like to achieve and it's not always easy. There's some guests that you have to pull some information from on occasion. And I have a tendency to ramble a little bit as my producer would say. And so I just have to make an adjustments along the way and do what I can to improve. So it's fantastic. I want to ask you about the. The opportunities because we're going to have to talk afterwards. Cause my brain, my, my gears are grinding. Now. I really think this paid host could actually yeah. Explode for some people like yourself that are talented and have the experience of interviewing and have been, the technology, isn't an issue you can actually show up and turn a light on and, make your camera work. And people don't realize how much in the backward ground has to take place. So you've been doing this a while so what are the technical changes you've seen over the years by doing this kind of activity.
[00:16:29] Thom Singer: None of it's expensive. I don't think that to do any of this, you have to have the highest end studio quality stuff, but you have to have the basics. Like you have to have an exterior web cam from the built-in one in your computer. So when I started podcasting again, mine's audio, but I record it over originally Skype. And then five years ago, six years ago, I moved to zoom. I was using zoom before people knew what zoom was. People were like, I don't understand what this link is. And it's just click the link. It's going to, I promise you, it's going to be fine. Yeah, it's fine. But I was using my laptops built in deal and I was just using natural light in my bedroom, or in my studio. I'm sorry, my studio which is actually my oldest daughter's bedroom. She went to college six years ago and I moved from the kitchen table with the podcast into Jackie's room. And the walls behind me are still there. Light blue and green, which were colors she chose at 14. And every now and then she'll stumble upon something I'm being interviewed on and she's like, really dad, it shouldn't be 14 year old girl colored walls. And I'm like, I'm too lazy to paint. But when I upgraded to a larger tech webcam, exterior cam, and it's not the highest quality, but it's a good enough quality. And then when I got a ring light, the two things changed everything around video. And then the same thing for the audio quality. When I got my road caster pro and I got a professional studio level microphone, it just upped the game a little bit. And none of it costs me a crazy amount of money. I'm probably into equipment for $2,000, maybe less, $1,500. And yet I go on shows and people always say, oh, your lighting's great. Or your sound is great. And yeah, and I know it's not like I was in a CBS studio. But you don't have to go overboard. You just have to do something.
[00:18:11] Russ Johns: Having been in radio and television, some of the things that happen, they can make it look so good and it's not necessarily so in real life. So I want to shout out to a couple of more people here that joined in. Kevin Turner, what's going on. Love the real human connection, Russ Johns, Thom Singer. Thank you so much for showing up. Russ Hedge, good morning, Russ and Thom. Kenneth Dunner. Savor the flavor of the awesomeness in you, sir, and sharing this delectable goodness with us. It's a pleasure. I love it. Russ Hedge loved the sponsor interview idea too. Russ has a show as well. He's been doing some great work. If you ha, if you're not connected, you should be. You have such a good taste. Kenneth Dunner Jr. Savor the flavor of the awesomeness in you for sharing your delectable thoughts with me. I love it. And he says, Russ Johns is a delight of a gentleman in human being and friend of mine, millions who share his goodness with the others, betterment of humankind, savor the flavor of the awesomeness of that. It's great. So yes. Awesome interview. People love genuine conversation, Thom, and I think that you've probably had some genuine conversations over your period of podcasting and in live streaming and keynote speaking as well. And so what makes a great conversation take place?
[00:19:38] Thom Singer: The first thing is, so I'll give you a little background, right? So I was the kid who in second grade, the teacher sent the note home to my mom that says he talks too much in class. So I'm that kid, I'm an extrovert. I'm the one who, everybody in the family had to sit on the couch while I put on a show. And probably not probably I did when I was a kid, I wanted to be an actor and I just didn't have the balls to go try it. And Russ, to tell you the worst part of that story. I grew up in Los Angeles. I literally grew up 15 miles from Hollywood. But there was no internet, if you didn't have a connection, I didn't know how to do it. And I wasn't brave enough to do it, but I was that kid who was the big personality talk too much in class. And so I've had to learn as an adult. I've had to learn to shut up and listen more. I think a great conversation comes when both people are invested in learning about the other person. And so often, it's easy, especially if you're a big personality, you like to tell a story. I come from a big Irish Catholic family where I'm the youngest of 26 grandchildren. So that was a big family. And there's a big gap. My mom was one of the youngest of 10 kids and she was 40 when I was born. So I don't have a first cousin within six or seven years of age. And I don't have a brother within nine years. I have three older brothers and they're nine, 12, and 14. So to get attention, you had to be able to overtalk to get attention in a family of that size. But if you're really going to have a meaningful conversation, you have to want to learn and listen. So one of the things I try to learn for myself, and one of the things I try to teach other people is we learn so much about networking and meeting people that you have to have an elevator pitch. And I do believe that you should be able to clearly and concisely talk about yourself when the time comes. The problem with that is we're teaching people that when you meet someone, flick a switch in your back and just lead with yourself. So it's hi, my name's Thom Singer. I've written 12 books. I host four podcasts, blah, blah, blah, just verbal vomit all over the other person that does not lead to a good conversation. So it's better if you memorize three or four questions that gets the other person to talk. So I live in Austin, Texas, and the population of Austin, the 31 years I've lived here, has tripled in size. It was 700,000 people in the greater area. When I moved here, it's now 2.3 million. And more are coming every day. So the number one question, when you're at an event here, it's great, you can ask people how long have you lived in Austin? Because the odds are two thirds of them moved here in the last 20 years. And if you can get people to talk about something that interests them. So that question leads to where did you come from? Why did you pick Austin? What part of town do you live in? If you can get the other person and you're genuinely interested, you can get them to answer four or five questions. Most people will turn around and ask you questions. Then it becomes that give and take where it becomes a really engaging chat versus elevator pitch to elevator pitch.
[00:22:26] Russ Johns: Yeah, and open-ended questions where they can't answer yes or no. So I wanna share with people how to get ahold of you, and , I'm going to bring this up here. So if you want to connect with Thom, just go to ThomSinger.com. Very simple. It's like RussJohns.Com only it's thomsinger.com. The .com is very universal.
[00:22:46] Thom Singer: It's spelled Thom, T H O M like Thomas without the ass. Most people are just T O M. However, if you forget that and you go to tomsinger.com, you will still get to my website because I own both of them.
[00:23:00] Russ Johns: Brilliant move, Thom. Brilliant move. I love it. Marcia says your personalities played beautifully off each other. So enjoying this, thank you so much, Marcia. Tamra shutting up and listening is such a great conversation is so vital to a great conversation. I'm enjoying this one. Thank you so much. Wendy says, so few podcasters are picking up the conversation cues and running with them. Those unique, special minutes are gold. Use them properly to bring others into the fold.
[00:23:33] Thom Singer: And Wendy is so right about that. So many people learned to podcast by having eight questions and a lightning round, and they don't even care what their guest says, or if their guests, says something interesting. I was interviewing a guy he's the CEO of a major, like really high-end technology company. And it was like way over my head, what they do. I know nothing about quantum computing and this and that. Early in his career. He was a homicide detective. Now he's CEO of a major company and he worked for Homeland security when Homeland security department was first founded. And so he's had this amazing life, but then he mentioned he started his career as a cop and was a homicide detective. And I asked him the question, I go, running a tech company, especially something heavily, deep technology like quantum computing, I go, do you ever use any of the skills that you learned as a homicide detective? And he was like, wow, no one's ever asked me that before, but yes and then he starts talking about what you do when you interview people in a homicide case and how that's what you have to do when you're running a big company and you have all these people and clients, and he lit up like a Christmas tree. When I asked that question, he was so bright and excited about it and he said, nobody has ever asked me that before. And to me it was like, I don't know, that'd be the first thing to ask.
[00:24:51] Russ Johns: That's the first thing that came to my mind is what's the bridge that brought you from point a to point B. And then what skills did you transfer? It's like crazy. Thom, this has been an amazing conversation. And I know that the two of us could probably carry this on for a couple hours longer. And I know that life has to take place. I just want to make sure that people understand that you have a gift. You have a message. And when people contact you, what can you help them with, what are you focusing on? I know speaking events, podcasting opportunities, share with us what you want to get away from the pirate community.
[00:25:31] Thom Singer: Like I said, I got real scrappy in the last year, so I do some business development coaching for lawyers and others. I'm helping some podcasters who want to learn to become paid speakers. So I'm doing some of that coaching type work. However, my main focus is I'm a speaker and a trainer, so I love to come into companies and associations to their meetings. And usually I'm like an ideal opening keynote speaker because I kick off the events with this whole thing about how do we get genuine? How do we be authentic? How do we connect on a human level? And then halfway through the talk, if it's like a multi-day conference, I go oh, I have an idea. Why don't we make this conference a human laboratory? And then what happens is I call it being the conference catalyst. People will network better at the event and let's face it. We've learned over the last year. That we can deliver content virtually through all of these, video platforms and others, but that human to human connection piece that happens. The serendipity of hallway conversations is really hard to replace in a virtual situation. So people are going to come to live events because they want to have that connection to other people they want to meet who else is in the audience. So that's what I focus on. If you have a conference that needs human connection, the conference catalyst is the way to go.
[00:26:44] Russ Johns: I love it. I love it. Liz Wilcox. Welcome. Welcome back. I met Thom in Austin through Justin Schenck at a bar a few months ago. Hi Thom.
[00:26:54] Thom Singer: I remember that bar. Yes.
[00:26:56] Russ Johns: She was on the show yesterday. So small world.
[00:26:59] Thom Singer: That is a small world and Justin is awesome.
[00:27:02] Russ Johns: Yeah, Justin is phenomenal. So I've met through Justin through my connection at Chris Ross and WinJect Studios. So love to stay connected and have conversations along those lines. Thom, thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate it. If you want to connect with Thom, go reach out ThomSinger.com.
[00:27:24] Thom Singer: And my emails just firstname.lastname@example.org.
[00:27:27] Russ Johns: There you go. Super simple, easy access. Hire him, get him in your show, get them in your eventsand hire him as a speaker. So thank you everyone for being here. If you like, comment and share this with all the social shenanigans that need to go on with the the algorithms. Love and appreciate you. Also, if you think that somebody might be interested in hearing this show, please pass it along. It's a gift free to you, as you see fit. So also because #kindnessiscool and #smilesarefree, so you #enjoytheday take care of it.
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