Transcript: Primal Video Leadership Journey (EP69)
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Brendan: Hello and welcome to The Culture of Things podcast. I'm your host, Brendan Rogers, and this is episode 69. Today I'm talking with Justin Brown aka Chris Martin. Justin, along with his brother Mike, are the founders of Primal Video where they teach entrepreneurs and business owners how to leverage the power of online video to build and scale their businesses. Justin has spent more than 20 years in video production and has worked on everything from Netflix feature documentaries to music videos and extreme sports projects.
Over the past seven years, Justin and Mike have focused their energy on building Primal Video. They target systems, processes, and automation which allow them to work smarter, not harder. Primal Video is now a seven-figure automation-driven business with over one million YouTube subscribers. They help others implement the same approach through their Primal Video Accelerator Program.
Today we're focused on unpacking the Primal Video journey. Justin, welcome to The Culture of Things podcast.
Justin: Thank you very much for having me on.
Brendan: It's a pleasure, mate. Now I had a bit of a slot at you through a lot of your stuff. There's always this reference to Chris Martin. What's going on there?
Justin: We just started getting these YouTube comments through. It's Chris from Coldplay. I had to google him to work out who Chris Martin was, but it's now something that comes up all the time. Apparently, I've got a very good-looking twin is all I can take away from that. Apparently, I look like Chris Martin.
Brendan: I have to say I do follow a bit of Chris Martin stuff and getting to know you through your Primal Video stuff and everything and just even before we got on this recording now, you're both pretty decent blokes. You've at least got that in common.
Justin: Thank you very much. I bet no one wants to hear me sing; let's just squash that one right now.
Brendan: You and me both, mate. I won't ask you to sing, you don't ask me to sing and we will be good.
Justin: Perfect, done.
Brendan: It's a pleasure having you on tonight. The Primal Video story is a fascinating story for me. As I said, my producer and business partner, Marc, got me on to your stuff. Do you just want to give a little bit of a background about it? How about you just share with our listeners a bit about Primal Video just to start, just a summary version of what it is and what it's about?
Justin: We started Primal Video around seven years ago. We kind of started out on YouTube as everyone does at zero and we just wanted to create some videos to help people. We already had previous businesses that I built with my brother and now current business partner again with Primal Video.
I was working on this documentary project because we were still doing our own thing. We were dabbling with these other businesses and one of these documentary projects I worked on, I got to fly around the world and interviewed the top people in online digital marketing. They are really, really nice people, and they built these businesses around just helping people and sharing this stuff they're interested in.
That's what inspired us to start the YouTube channel. It's been a big journey to actually figure it out and make it work. For us, our YouTube channel is the face of our business, it's not our business. That's what we teach now. We teach people how they can create effective videos, videos that get views so you're not just creating something that no one sees, but then how you can build a real business and monetize everything off the back of it so that you can have more impact with your content.
In a nutshell, that's what we do. It's been a long journey. The first few years we really had no idea what we were doing and there was a lot of trying, testing, failing, and learning. Everything for us now is a system. There is a process for everything and as someone who was an anti-process person and hated the idea of being put in a box, I now love what the systems and the processes are doing and how much freedom and flexibility it's actually giving us.
Brendan: Those are some of the stuff that were certainly kind of unpacked. I want to take us back because we're sitting here today, 2022. What was Justin Brown like in high school?
Justin: That feels like an absolute lifetime ago. I think I was pretty quiet. I was definitely an IT geek nerd. I loved anything to do with computers. I have an IT degree as well. I've always been interested in the video side of things as well. That's where I like Primal Video, and what we've built now is it really combines the tech and the IT with the video.
This is what we teach, too, is that if you can find something that you want to talk about, that if someone stopped you in the middle of the street and said, hey, I've got this question for you. For me, it's anything to do with cameras, IT, growing on YouTube, this is the stuff I love and this is why this business works so well for me.
This is why we encourage anyone to look at your hobbies, look at your passions when you are starting something like this, because you're going to push through on those darker days and days where you're not motivated, you'll be able to get motivated much quicker. This is something you're going to be committed to. That was kind of me being a bit of a nerdy geek, always hanging around the beach as well, though, living on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. A beach nerd if that is such a thing.
Brendan: Yeah, it was amazing how these beach nerds go off and do some amazing things, actually, isn't it? Do you guys look back sometimes and just pinch yourself—the Primal Video team—what you've achieved to date, and you've got so much more sort of coming.
Justin: It's kind of a strange thing because you make videos and stuff as well. What we see when we're making the videos, we're just looking at a camera lens. It's a strange thing. My background is behind the camera. I've been a producer, director, editor, a cameraman for a big chunk of my professional career. To actually get in front of the camera, I used to hate having my photo taken and all of this. This has all been a learning experience for me and it's still weird, but I like the outcome of making the videos.
You're going to remember that you get a hundred views, thousand views, whatever it is, those are real people on the other side of that. All of this has been a big growth, a big learning experience, but seeing the results from that and seeing the impact and how much we can help people without content is really what just keeps driving us to the next level.
Brendan: When did the penny drop for you around this whole idea of what now is a successful Primal Video business? Was there a penny drop moment of hey, we need to do something with this and this is what it might start to look like?
Justin: Something that stood out for me really early on and for Mike was, we were going at YouTube for a year-and-a-half, two years, with really not a lot of growth. As a business decision to put out videos, it was becoming a bad business decision to continue doing it because it wasn't working. We could have definitely invested time, money, and resources into other things if we continue without trying to figure it out.
We started to get some comments through, like thank you so much, you've helped me make my first video. Thank you so much you've helped me create a video where I'm raising awareness for autistic children was a comment that came through and that's one that's really stuck with me. It's kind of that light bulb moment. It's not about me, it's not about my fear of being on camera, or how I sound, or imposter syndrome, or any of the other stuff that's pretty common for people when they get into this.
It really became that we need to figure this out because there are people that need to hear what we have to say. That was kind of enough proof of let's really take a step back. Let's look at this. What does YouTube need? What do we need to put in our videos so that people actually will stick around and watch them? That became the journey through all the trying, testing, and everything to refine a process and to build something where we know we're giving YouTube everything that it needs. We're giving our viewers everything that they need so we have the best chance of having our content show up and work for us.
Brendan: It's been a real journey of learning, which is what we all should be on. If you can go back to those early days, that might be the first 12 months, what's that greatest lesson that you learned which may have been off the back of the biggest challenge you had?
Justin: The biggest lesson was how we were approaching our YouTube channel. We weren't really doing any research. I was just coming up with a random video idea, like this is a good tip. This is a good piece of information that people need to know. The problem is people aren't searching on Google or YouTube for the solution or for the tip. They don't know what it is. They need to know it, but they're stuck at the problem. So they're going to Google and YouTube to self-diagnose and to figure stuff out.
How do I fix this? How do I film? Can I film with my phone? What editing software? How do I edit? These are kind of what's evolved now into the stuff that we teach from there but it's taking that step back and saying what does YouTube need and what are the viewers looking for? Let's give them that. Let's meet them where they're at. Then I can introduce them to the tips and things that I know are going to change the game for them. It was a shift in perspective on how we were creating content and approaching YouTube.
Brendan: I know I'm jumping around a little bit of taking it back to school and sort of back to the early days, what does the end game look like for you guys in Primal Video?
Justin: It's a really interesting question and we bounce this one around a lot because we're not ones that really run out there and set these massive goals like we want to have X amount of dollars in the bank, or our business needs to be worth this, we need this many teams. For us, it's more we want to create a lifestyle business where we can have fun and get to work with the people we want to work with. We don't want to be on some hamster wheel of doing sponsor deals and work on someone else's schedule.
For us it really is, if it’s not [...]? Yes or No? If it's not the hell yes, it's a no, and that's kind of our filter. As for where we're going, we just want to show up and help more people with this, which in turn grows the business. That's kind of our goal. I know that may seem very vague or whatever, but it's enough for us to be pumped to do it.
Right now, we're still growing the team, we're looking at how we can do things more efficiently and refine the process. It's never one and done. There are always improvements that can be made, and that's kind of the fun piece. Mike and I love problem-solving. I love looking at systems and automation and things that we can do. For me, I'm always looking at how do I improve my on-camera performance? How do I improve the research? How do I improve how people are receiving the information as well. That's kind of the stuff that drives us.
Brendan: Tell us a little bit more about that self-reflection or that improvement process for you. What does that actually look like, that self-improvement side?
Justin: It's kind of like the atomic habit, the striving for that 1% on everything. I know that you hear that thrown around a lot, but it really is a lot of little debrief meetings, whether that's just me reflecting on okay, I filmed today. What are all the things that went well? What are the things that didn't go well? What could I do better? If there's anything at all, what could I do better?
We take that into everything, into our weekly meetings, into everything that we're doing in the business. That's the kind of people that we want to get on our team or that we are getting on our team, are people that are just looking forward, that just because we've always done it this way doesn't mean this is the best way to do it.
We were geeking out a little bit before this on some tech and it's the same. There's always a new thing popping up and this is what excites me about it. Phones are always changing cameras, always changing. Ways to record podcasts and video interviews are changing. That's the stuff that I like.
There's always something, there's always a next level, and it will save you time, it will save you money, it will give you a better end result. But too many people I think are just stuck. Alright, this is how we've always done it, that's how it always has to be. For us we want to be fluid with it and we enjoy it.
Brendan: I just want to clarify something you said. It wasn't me and you geeking out it was you and Marc geeking out. I was like a third wheel on a dime to be honest.
Justin: You're in it.
Brendan: All this stuff's going over my head. I'm like what's going on here? In regards to the feedback, has there been a moment where you've received, maybe in the timing of it was pretty brutal feedback, but it's been the best feedback to get to really help you?
Justin: Constantly. Mike, he's my brother, the way this works really well is that we have conversations that you probably couldn't have with an employee or it would be an awkward conversation. We're straight shooters. If I've messed up, or if he can see that there's something better, and it goes both ways that the feedback is just direct.
It did take me a little while to receive that in a way where I wasn't just defending it straight away, oh, that's because of this or you miss this. The excuses, playing the victim there, getting all defensive, it's really taking the time like there's clearly something in this and whatever it is, let's receive it, let's take it on board, and let's look at what we can do to change. I think if you're not doing that, it's very hard to grow.
It was hard to receive a few times. We had to spend a bit of time looking at the different personality profiles. That's a whole different area of how you can communicate, and how do you communicate more efficiently and effectively, which flows through to our video stuff as well.
If I know what Mike needs in a conversation, if I go to him with an idea, and it's literally just an idea and I haven't fleshed it out, his personality profile type wants to question it. What about this? What about this? I'm just like, hey, this is just a random idea. I haven't fleshed it all out. For him, he wouldn't present an idea unless he thought it through more.
It was those kinds of conversations where he'd be frustrated because I hadn't thought it out more, but I'm just getting my brand new idea shut down. It's that kind of stuff that could definitely compound if you don't fix it or at least look at things from the other person's perspective. That's been a bit of soul-searching and understanding the different personality profile types.
That's now what we take into our hiring process as well for the different roles that we have. We get them to do the Myers-Briggs test. There are lots of other ones as well like the DiSC profile and everything. It’s more just to gain some insight into how does this person think? What are they going to need from me? If I'm coming to them with something, a problem, or a task for them, how much information are they going to need? In what way am I going to need to say this so that they will be sort of excited to go and take it on board, that we can progress the conversation from there.
Brendan: Thanks for sharing that. A lot to unpack there, and I will circle back to it. What I'd like to just also ask around that feedback side is has there been a time where you've delivered feedback and it's been really challenging for you to deliver that feedback, but the benefits as we know are enormous when done the right way?
Justin: Yeah. Even fairly recently with staff, we kind of have this rule. We have processes and systems for everything, and then do that, but then you can build on top of it. This is always a tough conversation with people where you want to be delicate with it, with the feedback and tell we miss this, or we miss this, and it's not the first time it's happened. It's not a process problem, it becomes a person following a process problem. That feedback is very hard for people to receive if it's not done right.
Again, people are going to get their defenses up, or it's because of these excuses or reasons. They're all good, but what I'm trying to say is it really comes down to integrity, and just owning 100% responsibility. This is something that we look for, and that we try to hold as well. If I'm taking on a task, or if I'm showing up for a podcast, or whatever it is, there is stuff that could happen, but what can I do to make sure that everything is as best received from both sides as it could be?
If I get stuck in traffic, it's beyond my control. I could play the victim card. Sorry, I wasn't there because I got stuck in traffic. Or what do you do in that moment? Do you jump on the phone straight away? This is the situation, here's the best I can do. Here's my ETA. It's full ownership, full responsibility for every little task. There have been some conversations around that, but it normally falls back to that ownership just slipping on tasks. I'm not sure if that landed or that made sense, but it's a pretty big thing, but it's hard to do.
Brendan: From where I sit and the work I do it makes extreme sense, perfect sense. Have you ever had a situation where that extreme level of ownership just hasn't worked? You've taken on a team member and they've just not been able to handle that extreme level of ownership, because it is a special ability to do that. There's huge power in it happening, but not a lot of people can handle it.
Justin: We have definitely had previous staff members where the ownership piece was slipping constantly. it's something that definitely can be learned, but it's got to be want to want to be learned. Some people would just want to take their 9–5 ‘hey, I've done my hours’ and leave. The people that do have that responsibility and that ownership in it are the ones that are pumped to be there. They're enjoying their role. They love to come to work on a Monday. It is finding the right people.
For us, we'd like to hire through the mailroom strategy where we're getting people across a lot of different tasks and we tell them this. We have our goal for the role, but we also want to test them and see what they like, because if we're able to put projects, tasks, and stuff that are in their wheelhouse that are going to light them up, they're now more likely to enjoy it, to have more fun, to pursue that, and grow in that role, in that direction, but also take that responsibility on board.
It's not just here, this is what you have to do. It's crafting the role around the individual as well, which is where finding the right people to join your team and matching personalities and things is a huge thing, not just saying I just want a video editor, this is all you're going to do. You're going to sit there at that desk and edit videos. They might like that, but not 24/7. It is shaping that okay, they've got a really good creative outlet. Let's give them some other projects as well or ideally, they're putting their hand up to say I'd really like to take this on board so they're mixing up their day.
Brendan: It's all common sense stuff and we know that saying that if it was common sense everyone would be doing it. What you've just spoken about is not everyone's doing and actually, it's in the minority rather than the majority and leadership. Where did you learn this?
Justin: We've been in mastermind groups for years. We're big advocates for just getting peer eyes, different businesses on your business, and learning from people in different industries. It is something that Mike and I read a lot of books, we listen to a lot of audiobooks. Again, no one's done. There's always the next level. There's always more you can learn, but it's also through our own experience.
If we have an employee that doesn't work out, then we'll sit there and do that debrief. What didn't work? What can we do next time in our hiring process to find that trait that we're looking for? It is something that we're constantly evolving. It really is, again, that drive, if you've been in a position where you don't like the outcome, and you don't change anything, then you're likely going to be in that same outcome again.
What can we learn? What can we do differently? What can we try? There's no guarantee that the next thing is going to do it. For us, we're always trying and testing new stuff, we're trying and testing new content, and not all of it works. Seven years in, with a channel the size that we have, we put out the occasional video that totally tanks, but it's a test for us and that's our approach. That way, if it's a test, you don't really have an attachment to the outcome. It doesn't matter. It's like good, we learned a lot, let's not do that one again, or try this one a little bit different, but it's never a bad thing. You've learned a ton from it.
Brendan: All these things you talk about require a level of what is called strong professional relationships. In order to have strong professional relationships, you've got to work on it, at it, you've got to be deliberate. What do you guys do in your business to develop those strong professional relationships, which enables the candidness, the openness in conversation, feedback, and people not taking it personally?
Justin: You've got to try and find it before you hire the person, or at least try and find it in their onboarding or their trial period. We'd have a three-month trial or a six-month trial. Obviously, that's a paid period. You need to try and work those things out. Are they a fit for the team? Are they someone who is a self-starter who is motivated, who is actually going to enjoy their role?
What we say to our team is that there really is no limit as to where this job can go. The more things you take on, the higher you raise yourself. These are the tasks that have got to be done, but it doesn't mean you need to do them. You could have a team of VAs or hire someone else under you. That's perfectly fine and we'll help you and support you with that. The more responsibilities that they take on, the more value they are to the business, to the company. How we find those is really through our interview process and it's asking questions that aren't your standard interview questions.
One that I really like as a random question, I got to frame it this way. If you had a billion dollars, what would you do with it? You get all different things, donate this to charity, or do this, but what you're looking for in there—and sometimes you get to dive a little deeper from the surface level answers—is that there are some people that are just happy to retire on a tropical island and do nothing with their day. That's perfectly fine. That's one type. There are other people that will get bored, and they've got to be learning, they've got to be doing something, you got all the money in the world, what would you do?
Then you'll see we want the people that aren't going to kick off, switch off, and read a book on a tropical island. That sounds amazing. That's not me. I can't switch off easily, but I also really, really love what I'm doing. To me, it's not something I need to switch off for. An owner of the business will find it much easier to play in that space, then you can't expect your employees to do the same. The personality traits and the way that they answered those types of questions is really how you can find the right people.
Brendan: What other interests or what other traits are you looking for in these team players, I'd call them?
Justin: I think the biggest one would be attention to detail and that integrity as we spoke on. We ask them to share an example of where they might have been out of integrity and what they did to fix it. You can see that they can take ownership. I was late, or overcharged a customer, or whatever it is, missed a deadline, but it's what they did.
That's going to show did they take ownership? Did they feel bad about it? What did they do to fix it? Everyone makes mistakes, but it's what are you going to do when that happens, not if that happens. Those are the kinds of things that we're looking for. Did I answer your question there?
Brendan: Yeah, mate, you did. I just turned a team player because watching your stuff and being involved in the community that you guys are leading, there's very much that team feel that comes through and the support that your team offers.
To me, you must be deliberate about this stuff, because that stuff just doesn't happen naturally. If it did, workplaces would be a much better place. Leaders need to be a lot more deliberate about and that's why it's just really interesting to unpack what you're talking about because there's so much sense coming from it.
We need to talk about the other part of this bromance that you've got with your brother, Mike. Tell us a bit about the partnership.
Justin: We are 50-50 in the business. It's just easier. If we were looking back at where we started, if one of us had employed the other one in this business, we would have fired each other early on. We had to work out how we could communicate and how we could give the person everything they need in every conversation to make it a good conversation and beneficial.
But we worked so well together. We share a lot of similar traits, but at the same time, a lot of the personality stuff are also complete opposites. It just brings something different to the table. Mike is definitely the more process systems–oriented person, whereas I'm more of, if I come up with a random idea, let's go try it.
It's good because he's constantly shooting down my ideas, but every now and then one goes through. I think it is a good mix and it does work with the same approach of looking and striving for that next level and that nothing is perfect, but what's the next thing? How do I refine this? How do I tweak this? How do I do something better? It's something that we both share.
With this lifestyle business, it doesn't need to be a 9–5 thing. We only released one video a week on YouTube and we've automated a lot of our business, including a lot of our membership site as well. We now get to choose the tasks and things that we take on.
For Mike, he spends his day jumping between coffee shops, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, yoga, and works i- between. Whereas for me, I've got kids. I want to be able to pick them up from school, drop them off at school. You kind of build a business around your nonnegotiables and if you can get a team that can kind of want to play in that space, too, where they feel that they can go, do yoga, or something in the middle of the day, then it just creates a great environment for everyone to work.
Brendan: Just for clarity, too, Mike's in Singapore, you're on the Sunny Coast in Queensland. Where's the rest of your team located?
Justin: Up until two years ago, I think it was, we had an online team, so a lot of VAs and online graphic designers. We made the call that if we really want to build this, we want to build the team culture. Do we build an office in Singapore? Is everyone there with Mike? Do we build it here on the Sunny Coast with me? for me, even with all the amount of international travel and stuff that we use—
Brendan: I'll take the Sunny Coast any day.
Justin: Yeah, same. We ended on the Sunny Coast. We now have two full-time in the office on the sunny coast. We're hiring our third, but we still have a few online VAs and graphic designers and those kinds of things as well. We don't need everyone in there, but just having people in the same room in those higher-touch positions, they're across so much more on the business.
They're so much more value even if they're just listening in on conversations or meetings. They pick up things. They bring more ideas to the table. It's very hard to get that if you're only sort of just sending a task to a VA and there's no real back and forth with them. They're going to miss a lot of things. That's kind of what we wanted to build and just find some cool people to have some fun with at the same time.
Brendan: Just stay specifically with yourself, Mike, and the leaders in the business. What's the biggest downside for you, if any, about having yourself and Mike in different locations?
Justin: I think the best part is I don't need to see him every day.
Brendan: I'm asking for the downside.
Justin: Oh, right, the downside. The downside is that we don't see each other every day. We talk a lot. With the time zones, we're pretty lucky there's only a two-hour time difference. In Singapore, typically people will sleep in and don't start work until sort of 10–11 o'clock, but they'll work later at night.
Again, this was all stuff that we kind of had to work out because at 10 o'clock my time, that's 8 o'clock. He is still working but I'm done. This was stuff that we had to kind of work through. Yes, there are always things that will pop up and it's never a problem, but it's how do we form the working relationship where there is downtime, there is switch off, and unless it's urgent, it waits until tomorrow.
That's where we've built the business in a way that there really is nothing urgent unless we’re in the middle of a launch or something like that. Is it a big deal if we release a video a day late? There's nothing that's going to take down the business that they can't wait a day, or get pushed off, or anything like that. We've designed it that way to build that flexibility. But if we were in person more, it's just those extra conversations or little things that we wouldn't have to be filling each other in on constantly.
I'm just having the team here. Mike actually hasn't met any of the team in person. It's good and it's working, but I think he would have a deeper relationship with them if he was able to come back and hang out with them as well. We're hoping that happens soon.
Brendan: I know Mike's equal partner in the business and owner in the business, but what do you do to make him feel like he's not a second class citizen, let's say? Because it's very easy for people to feel like second class citizens–like when they're outside of the office and the main team.
Justin: I wouldn't say Mike's an introvert. I'd say he is a shy extrovert. If we go to a conference or something, it must be weird because I will get recognized, but then there are a lot of people who don't know who he is yet. He does equal, if not, more work behind the scenes to grow the business.
I don't know. When we have that conversation, he would turn down most podcasts, most interviews and things. There are a few that he jumps on, but for him, he doesn't need it. He'd rather not have it.
To be honest, I don't need it either. We literally scissor-paper-rocked to see who was going to be the face of this when we started. I thought I was the behind-the-camera person. I'm like, no, no, I'll film you, Mike, I've got to film you. And he said, I can't talk about video stuff, I'm not the video guy.
It is an interesting one, but we're happy to try and do different things, and to mix it up. There is no rigid this-is-how-it-has-to-be. He has made a few videos on our YouTube channel. He does offer a lot of the training inside of our accelerator [program as well. It's more like who is best suited for what task, which ones do we want to do, which one should we try it out, and also get someone else to do.
30:41 Brendan: When you say Mike doesn't necessarily like to do podcasts, we've got to throw the challenge out to him. You've done this podcast. If he's any sort of brother, he's got to make sure he gets on The Culture of Things podcast as well, mate, doesn't he?
Justin: Yup, that's it. You guys heard it here first.
Brendan: Absolutely, mate. Absolutely. Throw down the gauntlet. You'd spoke a little bit about how the roles and working that stuff out in the roles. Just talk us a little bit through how that came about, like the conversations you had and the sussing out of, hey, you know what? I'm actually going to be much better for the business in doing this stuff and you're doing that stuff.
Justin: I really think it just came down to trial and error. It's easier now having a team to look at your frustration points. But there is still stuff that we do that we don't want to do, we'd love to hand over. I think to a point, there are always going to be some things like that, but how do we make them most enjoyable or limit your time doing those tasks?
Again, for anyone, if you're showing up to work and you're not enjoying it, especially if it's a business that you've built and you're not enjoying it, then that's not a great place to be in. I've been there with previous businesses I've had and production companies where I'm working with clients that I'm doing it for the dollars and hating the work. That's one thing that we looked at and said, when we started, it's a startup business. We all got to pull them, we're all going to wear multiple hats.
I like that we have a small team still today that do wear multiple hats. They're not just, this is your role and there's nothing outside. No, anyone on the team could put their hand up and say, hey, I need some help with this, or I'm overwhelmed, or I'm just really not enjoying doing this. What can we do?
Just having, again, those other eyes is not an ego thing. We're all there to help each other out. I think that is a really big part of them working out who wants to do different tasks and which ones we either stopped doing or we tried to bring someone else in to do them.
Brendan: Do you think you could have built this business yourself with a team or Mike could have built this business himself with the team? If so, why and if not, why not?
Justin: I definitely would have stopped a long time ago if I didn't have Mike there pushing. Again, it comes down to the systems, and the processes, and stuff. Even as a professional video person, I wasn't treating our business as I would a client. If I went to film for a client, I would make sure that I had checklists and everything, all my questions and everything sorted. Yet, when it came time to film a YouTube video, a lot of that stuff just went out the window and I don't know why. They say, the electrician has the worst wiring. It was a bit of that.
It took me a while and a lot of frustration because if I was filming and something happened, it's then Mike there—these were those conversations—saying, how did that happen? Why? What did you miss? And if you've missed something, it's because you didn't follow a process. And part of me was like, yeah, but I've been doing this for years.
There was a difference between just doing it or just shooting a quick YouTube video and then going and working on a documentary for Netflix or whatever. They were too different. But it wasn't until we started to look at the processes and stuff around it, like how do I treat this as a client? Because this isn't a hobby. This is something we want to be successful. It was something that just freed me up massively.
Again, these are all the internal struggles and stuff. It's the stuff I know and I used to help people on camera, but getting in front of the camera myself still does push comfort zones. It's still something I am still trying to get better at. I just think editing is there for a reason and if anyone saw how much footage I'm still shooting today to create a 10-, 15-minute video, you don't need to be perfect. They're definitely not one-take videos. There's a process to make it easier. To get the outcome you want is huge.
Brendan: It really is fascinating to me that whole editing part, and looking at your videos, and even the stuff that yourself and Mike are doing on the Primal Video Accelerator stuff. But I remember watching something that you guys did a while back as well, where you think you showed some out. It might have been on your one million subscribers celebration, and you showed some outtakes, and stuff. But not being a video person, that actually gave me huge comfort to think, yeah, there's a lot of [...] that happens in the background that you just don't see gets cut out. And fantastic for one million subscribers celebrations.
Justin: Yeah, they really got me with that one. It's Jen, our editor.
Brendan: She did a fantastic job.
Justin: Yes. That's the stuff that she has to put up with. To your point, we don't try to hide that. I agree with you, I saw someone early on. I think it's Tim Schmoyer from Video Creators. He released a video, where he went live and he was creating YouTube videos. He did exactly the same thing, like hey, it's Tim. Oh, do it again. Hey, it’s Tim from Video Creators. Oh, I’ll do it again.
Unless you've tried to do it, you can definitely get in your head so much. Some days, you're on and just everything flows and everything works. There are other days where it's really pushing stuff uphill. It's knowing what is normal, what is not a good day, and having the ability to go, you know what? We'll come back tomorrow and let's try it again. Or have to get this done today because of a deadline or something, which adds more pressure.
When you're on a deadline, there are always other stuff that comes up. The neighbor will have his leaf blower on or something like that. It's being okay with that, that there was another big lesson or learning piece. Where I am right now? I'm in a small co-working space.
Up until recently, it was really, really quiet. But then it's taken me all week to shoot two videos because of different things happening here that made it really hard for me to shoot videos. It's still a growth thing. It's still something that I'm okay with now, but I know if this was me starting out, then these are the things that I'd be really stressed over.
Brendan: How do you think this level of, what I would call, authenticity that you guys have in your business has helped the growing of your business? Particularly, I know your business is more than YouTube. I can't remember what the figure was, but there's a very small percentage of channels that have achieved one million subscribers today. You've achieved something that not many people have. How does the authenticity or the authentic approach do you guys take that you think has helped your business?
Justin: We look at the content that we want to watch. We always wanted to connect and we watched like-minded people. The stuff that I watch isn't the overhyped one where someone just feels like they're selling to you. That doesn't gel with us and I don't want to be selling or pitching something. I also am not someone to run out and create a short film where I'm creating cinematic B-roll in the middle of a tutorial. I'm the kind of person like if I clicked on this video where you said you're going to do something, just tell me how to do it or you're going to show me how to do something.
That's our approach to this. How do we give our viewers everything that they need? What would I look for in this? Looking at them, what would their comments be? What would their feedback be? But how do we give them everything? We package all that together and give them everything that they need, so they don't need to go and watch five more videos after.
We've opened Pandora's box for them and have created more headaches than before they clicked on it. We take that approach through everything. It's like, how do we show up? How do we identify where they're stuck, what their pains and problems are, and how do we be the one that shows up to help them?
Again, it's just us sharing our thoughts and opinions based on our experiences. This is why the opportunity for YouTube for podcasts are like, if someone else is already doing what you want them to do, that's not a bad thing. This shows you that people want that stuff. They might want a different opinion. They might want to hear it from you or they might need to hear it from you versus someone else. That's the thing that keeps growing for us. What other things can I share about? What are the biggest pains, problems that people have?
I remember saying to Mike, I never want to be a video marketing channel. I never want to tell people how to get views on YouTube. I said, there are too many of those people and I don't want to be one of those people. And he agreed at the time, but yet, here we are.
The more we learnt and the faster it grew, we were looking at the advice and things that people were giving and it wasn't what we did. We've only done one video a week. But there are people saying, to grow on YouTube, you need to do daily videos. I'm a video person. I love making videos, and I couldn't imagine doing daily videos. So you don't need to do it.
We take advice from anyone, but then, how do we make it work for us? I think that's part of the authentic piece that we're just doing what we want to do. We're helping people with the stuff that we're interested in. I'm not off talking about topics and stuff that I don't know. I'm only talking about the stuff that I've had to research or that I've experienced myself.
Brendan: It's a really, really great explanation of that. I want to go back to that decision-making tool you talked about before—scissors, paper, rock, really important stuff.
Justin: Scientific, yeah.
Brendan: Very scientific and it solves so many problems in life. I definitely agree. But here's your chance to maybe spill some mud where you've won an argument. Again, yourself and Mike, in this partnership, when have you really seriously disagreed with each other and maybe then you've won the argument?
Justin: It's a really good question. To be honest, I think I'm a really easy going person. I think if I'm in a conversation with anyone and they're just confident, they're adamant that that is the way that something should be, I honestly don't really care. I'll give anything a go. I will always voice my opinion, but I don't hold grudges.
If Mike is adamant that he wants to try something, or the other way won't work or probably won't work as well, I'm all for just going with the flow. That actually has never come back to bite me in the ass. I trust Mike and I value his opinion. He is leading the direction for a lot of our business decisions, but nothing is made without both of us on the same page. There are times where it's the same back the other way. What was your question? Around where have I lost one or I had to tell him I didn't agree?
Brendan: I was actually giving you the opportunity to tell us where you've won one.
Justin: Oh, where I've won one? This stuff is popping up all the time with little things. Nothing big comes to mind like, yeah, Mike, I told you we should do it this way. Really, everything for us is something, like let's test it, like let's just do webinars.
For me, I wasn't putting my hand up because when Mike says, hey, I think we should do webinars, back in my mind goes, I've never run a webinar. Now I'm assuming it's not Mike that's going to run a webinar because no one knows who he is. It's all well and good for these ideas to come through, but at some point it means I'm going to have to do something I've never done before.
I like it now. I like pushing the comfort zones. I read the book, years ago, The Obstacle Is The Way, and I'm so glad I read that book where there would be an easy decision and you could take the easy way, or if you if you look at the obstacle and say, if I actually do this, then I've now done that, then my comfort zone is now at the next level.
While I look at those decisions and things, those ideas that come through and think, that's scary. I've never done that before. I don't think I've ever really said no to it. In a previous client I was working for, I had to learn to skydive. I'm not afraid of heights, but it was never one of my things, where I need to skydive.
I've done it in tandem, loved it. I think everyone should do a tandem skydive. But to do a solo one, if something goes wrong, it's all on you. It's kind of, do I need to be in that position? No. Am I glad that I've done it? Yes. I hesitate to jump out of a plane and I haven't had a parachute. I'm sweet, but it was never like, yes, today we're going skydiving.
I've done 53 jumps now. I only have one near-death experience. That's a good ratio, but it's the same as speaking on stage. I used to identify someone who was not a public speaker, scared of public speaking because of school and university experiences, where I had to get up and speak on a topic that I wasn't excited about, and probably hadn't done any research or anything on. It was an absolute disaster, but all the stuff playing out in your head.
My first public speaking thing for Primal Video was in a room of 770 people and I was absolutely shitting myself. Right up until it, I was looking for ways to get out of it. I was pumped that I had the opportunity, but I was that scared about doing it. I was like, all right, if I pretend to be sick, then Michael has to do it. That's fine, but I couldn't do that to Mike.
The moment I walked up on stage, I was like, this is actually fun. Now, it's not a problem for me. I'll go stand on stage, speak, help people, and whatever. Now, that's a tick in the box. It's not that I'm looking for that stuff, but we're open to challenges.
If you don't try stuff, you'll never know. There are too many people just sitting in the box. That's not me. I can't do that. It's all right for you, but it wasn't all right for me. I think that's the piece that most people don't understand. The first podcast I was ever on, I was so nervous. Now I think these are awesome fun. I love connecting, I love sharing, love helping, and thanks again for the invite.
Brendan: It's been fantastic fun already, mate.
Justin: All these things that people are just switching off to so much that they could be doing based on past beliefs or stories that they're telling themselves.
Brendan: It's always about challenging yourself, isn't it? We need to rewind back to this near-death experience. You can't leave us hanging. What's this near-death experience you've got?
Justin: I was like, should I mention this? Is this going to [...].
Brendan: You certainly have.
Justin: Right, sorry. Yeah, I'll give you the real quick version. I've jumped 50. I've done 53 total. A storm was coming in, we were trying to get numbers training up, and they decided instead of jumping at 40,000 feet, you'd only open your chute down at around 4000–5000 feet. You then have plenty of time to land on your mark to cycle down.
This one, though, they said, look, before the storm comes in, let's do a hop and pop, which is essentially, where you hop out of the plane and pop open your parachute, and you're jumping at around 2000 feet instead. When you're training, they tell you that your reserve or your backup parachute may take 1000 feet for it to open.
All this is going through my mind. I'm jumping at 2000, I'm going to fall pretty quick for that first piece, and then if something happens, I need to reserve and it may take 1000 feet for it to open. There's not much room for error.
Base jumpers and stuff, some of them jump higher than this. Of course, all the times I have an issue jumping, I jumped out. I counted to two, as I've said, pulled my parachute. It was all bunched up and twisted. I had half a parachute, so I'm just spiraling down.
It's that moment where you're like, this is not a good situation. They say that time slows down. Yeah, I felt like I had all the time in the world to fix this, but really it's only a matter of seconds. I quickly worked out what was wrong with it, that normally with a parachute, you've got two straps coming out of either side of your shoulders and they were both on the one side, so it was caught up in the backpack.
Options, I could try and fix what I have or I could try and cut that one away and pull the reserve, but it's already twisted in the bag. What if it doesn't cut away properly? What if I launched my reserve chute and it opens or it launches into one I've currently got, then I've got nothing. All these things, I'm like, why am I in this position where I need to be making this decision on do I cut away a parachute or not? Long story short, I survived.
Brendan: Thank God for all of us.
Justin: I just thought I've got to fix what's here. I've got half a parachute and it's better than no parachute. I didn't want to risk it. I'm over trees, so you might get skewered or stabbed on the way down through branches and stuff, but the situation could be worse. Let's put it that way.
I think it was five or six times on my climbing. I tried to pull myself up to let it go and to drop back into the bag to release the rest of the chute. It was like the fifth or sixth go. It came right, I did a half turn, and landed straight on the X. I think we did two or three more jumps that day, and then that project lost funding. It's not a bad situation, but still today I'm not like, yes, let's go for a skydive.
Brendan: Mate, that's crazy stuff. All I can think about really is that, of the two brothers—yourself and Mike—it was probably better that it happened to you because you come across as that guy that can just make quick decisions, let's just do it. Mike would probably be playing for the last 1000 meters and maybe hit the ground.
Brendan: Again, I'm probably more of a Mike-style generally. I'm a bit more process-oriented. I like to feel like I'm making the right decision, not just a decision. I'm not saying you don't, but someone's taken a bit more. We've got to make sure we've got a right plan before we do it, not just sometimes jumping to do it. That means I'm not necessarily great in a crisis. That means Mike may not necessarily be great in a crisis, but somewhat, you may think on your feet a little bit quickly.
Justin: It could be the wrong decision, though.
Brendan: It can be, but you've made a decision. You've obviously made some sort of right decision in that scenario because as you said, you're still alive, mate.
Justin: I made it, yeah.
Brendan: With some of that personality type, and you've touched on those, and again, it's not a podcast about personality types in this episode, but really important in the work that we do and understanding people, you mentioned about what you used to do with your clients and the preparation of stuff. In your own business, maybe you didn't have the level of preparation, but I sense that getting to know you a bit more, that's probably more your style that sometimes just jumping in and doing stuff is okay and less preparation.
You and Mike talk a lot about the preparation needed before you just point and shoot in your business. Keeping the focus on you, how much discipline have you needed in your own development to make sure that you stay true to that because you understand the value of it?
Justin: Seeing the value of it and the moment I started to see the value on it, now it's normal for me. I look back to the things that I used to do, like, just push, go live, and wing it, and they're the worst live streams. That was stressful for me. They wouldn't have been fun for anyone to watch because there was no real plan.
There was one where I literally freaked out, shut the livestream down, and made it look like there was technical difficulties. It was all because there was no plan. I didn't even have a few bullet points down of, all right, quick intro, these are the topics we're going to cover, then open up for queue.
This is now the stuff. I wouldn't jump on anything without some points or some idea as to what was going to happen. It makes it a better piece of content. It makes it way more fun, way more enjoyable. You're like, okay, absolute worst case, I've got stuff we can talk about. Or you're looking at the worst case scenario, and how are you okay with that? What can you do to make the worst case scenario not really a bad thing? It really is from having those experiences where you hit the worst case scenario.
I like now that live streams and stuff are fun. I used to be really scared of doing them. Again, I used to do them as part of a business. I used to run them for Australian Government live streams. They couldn't go down if you got that many people watching them.
A lot of then, again, those processes when I'm just going live, I didn't have backup internet, or I didn't have a plan, or run sheet, which I'll be giving them. I just thought I could wing it. Now the thought of that to me is just crazy. It's way more fun and less stressful when you have a plan.
Brendan: Mate, here's our opportunity for some B-roll, maybe, when we do some editing on this. What's the worst video you've done that's still on YouTube accessible?
Justin: I have to pick one?
Brendan: Yeah, just any, mate.
Justin: I think early ones. I think the first three videos, I didn't blink. There is next to no energy, they're around topics that, again, people don't want or they can't find because they're not searching for that. I thought it'd be a great idea to go and shoot an editing tutorial at the beach or editing tips video at the beach just because we live in a nice spot, good background. No, it added nothing to the video, it made it really hard to shoot, there was just too much wind, and the wave noise, and whatever.
Those videos are tanked, but at the same time, I was so nervous. I hadn't practiced, I hadn't worked out what I wanted to say, and they're all still there. Feel free to go and have a laugh. I would encourage everyone to go and have a look because it is a growth thing. Just because you start there, it doesn't mean that that's where you're going to finish.
Every new video is more practice you're going to have, and not just for anything, really. The more you do something, the better you're going to be at it. I still say I'm nowhere near perfect. To me, it's how do I do it better? How do I do it faster? How do I bring the energy to the video where I'm excited about it, even if it's a topic that I've talked about a thousand times or I'm not that excited about?
That's a hard one because if you're not excited about the content of the thing that you're teaching, your viewers can't be excited about watching it. Little things like that have been great lessons to learn. It's now a process, like this is what they need. Remember to smile, remember to have fun with it, and that there are people on the other end of this that need to hear this. It's those kinds of things that are in the process.
Brendan: Have you guys ever thought of taking down some of the older stuff?
Justin: I've thought about it. Mike won't allow it. I'm okay with it now. I think in all of our channels, besides one video that we had to take down where something changed and it was then going to be misleading people, so the content was incorrect. I think we've only pulled down one video and it was an early video that I just thought was really bad. But then I've looked at the other ones that are still there, it's exactly the same.
I'm not blinking in these videos. I look like deer in headlights and there are still some there with that. It's not detrimental to the channel's growth. A lot of people think that everyone's going to watch everything or everyone's going to listen to everything. They don't. They're going to find the one that they need, or the one that YouTube suggested to them, or whatever the platform. They're going to find that one.
That's where your goal is. No matter what content you're creating, how do I make this one amazing, so that if someone is meeting me for the first time on this piece of content, that they get some personality, they most likely get what they need and don't have to go somewhere else afterwards?
Brendan: When I think of that, the series undertone for me is that your whole journey is accessible on YouTube. If you look at a Primal Video today—and they're fantastic, and so much value-adding content—and then you look at one maybe, three, four, five, six, or seven years ago, then the series undertone is that's the journey. That's what you're saying. You're always learning, you keep shifting, and I actually think there's huge power in what you guys have done.
Maybe a lot of YouTubers do that but just having that all stuff there because people can see that this is where we started. You don't start at the top. You start here and you learn, you build, you grow, you change, you test, all those things you mentioned. And it's all part of the Primal Video story, isn't it?
Justin: Yeah, and without a goal to help people with this and to really just go through the journey that we have, but do it much faster and much easier, and without needing to learn all the lessons the hard way, then we have to leave those there. I want to leave those there.
People need to know that their first videos are going to be their worst videos. That is a growth journey that they need to push forward and learn. Too many people give up too early because it is difficult. We weren't born to do this. It is a skill. You want to do it, you need to learn. You need to learn to refine and adapt, but too many people give up too early.
Brendan: All right, let's talk about this not so small community you've built. I think when I checked, it had 1.16 million subscribers on YouTube. I think the Facebook closed group with the PVA had 800 or so members. What responsibility do you take as a leader of that community? How important is that to you?
Justin: In terms of YouTube subscriber numbers, it's an interesting one because to me, it's a crazy number. It was never a goal for us to have X amount of subscribers. I know when we started, Mike and I thought, you know what? It'd be pretty cool to get 20,000 subscribers. That seems like a credible number and that's enough for us to go and speak about some of these things, and they help people create their videos.
It just kept growing. To me, it's a little strange, it's a little weird knowing that we have this following. At the same time, there are real people behind it, but the value is in the connections, not in the number on the screen. That's the thing I think I want everyone to remember. As we said earlier, the views, they're real people. If you have 1000 views, those are real people. The ones that have chosen to subscribe, they're the ones that want more from you.
To me, it's motivating. It's encouraging to see people like what we're doing. But at the same time, our approach hasn't really changed from the 10,000, the 5000. Besides, what we're actually doing to make it work, it's still to show up and help people with this stuff. I think that's the important piece.
If you're coming from that place, the rest of it, the business and stuff, it will come. But if you're doing it for views, if you're doing it for subscribers, I'm sure you probably could make it work, but it's a totally different business, and a lot of people will see straight through what you're trying to do.
I'm not sure if I answered your question there at all. The vanity metrics, yeah, it's nice to have. I'm not going to say that it's not, but it doesn't really mean anything. Having that amount of subscribers doesn't mean that our videos are guaranteed to go to the front page of YouTube. It doesn't mean that more people are going to subscribe.
If anything, YouTube and a lot of other platforms are moving away from those numbers. For anyone listening, if you've been to YouTube recently and you've watched some videos on there, did you actually subscribe to those channels yourself? I know, for a lot of the channels that I watched the content, I don't have to subscribe, I just go to YouTube and it's recommending all this stuff.
I'm not subscribed to a lot of the content that I watch. You don't need to. The algorithm is getting so good that you don't need to be following, subscribing. Same as TikTok, same as Instagram with Reels. It's showing you content that it thinks that you want to watch. You don't need to follow. You don't need to subscribe.
I know it may sound weird from someone who has a million subscribers, but the weight of that is nothing compared to what it used to be. Now it's about adding value in your videos, entertaining your viewers, giving them what they need, and then they can go about their day. But next time they're coming back looking for something or they want to be entertained, your content will go straight to the front for them.
It's about getting the right people on your videos and then they will see more of your content if they stick around and watch it. They don't need to subscribe. The vanity metrics is something, YouTube started rounding them off. You said we have 1.16. It's not all written out there. It's all rounded now. And Instagram removing likes, and those kinds of things.
Where I'm going with this is if your goal is to get X amount of subscribers, I'd say that maybe to start with. That's not a bad little milestone. But if you can shift it to, how do I get an impact goal? Or even if it is a monetary goal. There's nothing wrong with that either because it means that your content is working. If you're creating those goals, they're much more beneficial for the business and how much impact you can have with your content moving forward.
Brendan: I guess in a nutshell, what I understand you're saying is that you focus on delivering value. If you focus on that, then people that like that value will join and they may just subscribe as well, but that needs to be the driver of delivering value to people's eyeballs.
Justin: Yeah, and you don't need to be for everyone. You will get negative comments. We still get some today. They're a lot less than they used to be. Just a lot of Chris Martin comments and I don't think they're negative.
It really is, how do you show up and help? Those are the, as I said, from that documentary project I worked on when I was first starting out with this, super successful businesses, nicest people, and they're just helping people with the stuff that they want to talk about. That's the approach that we've taken.
Brendan: You mentioned before about making things work and this is building the community. Can you put your finger on that single biggest thing you've felt that has worked for you to build these communities that you're leading?
Justin: I guess getting found. You can have a full team to help you and all your plans on how you can engage with this community. But if you can't attract people in or if they can't find you, then what's the point? The same as all the people spend I'm making their videos and not marketing them or not giving what YouTube needs to actually put them in front of the right people.
You end up spending all this time making something and then no one sees it or no one buys it if it's a case of a course or a membership. Our whole thing is to, how do we get people to find us? We don't have to go there door-knocking, hey, I'm Justin, come join my thing. It's, we’re showing up when they need us.
They're searching for something, they're typing something in, what is the best editing software, how do I do this? And our goal is to show up there, build up that reciprocity, and add value. That might be it with our journey with someone. That's all good. Someone's watched our video. Hopefully, we've helped them or entertained them. That could be it.
There are others that will click the affiliate links and they'll bring revenue to the business. There are others that will go on and join our courses and programs, but you don't need to have that. We're not selling. We're just coming from that place of adding value and the right people will want to take that next step. They're like, I really liked how much you helped me on YouTube. How else can I work with you? That's kind of our approach.
Brendan: It leads into something else I wanted to ask, which is about the various platforms that are out there. My knowledge and involvement with Primal Video and the Accelerator Program is that you're very concentrated and focused on YouTube, and you put a bit of stuff out on Instagram now. It seems to be ramping up a little bit more on Instagram.
Why those platforms as per end and not all of the other platforms as well? I know you're on LinkedIn, but you're not that active. There's Facebook's and all that sort of stuff. Why is YouTube the thing and Instagram as well for you guys?
Justin: Great question. This is where we see so many people feel like they need to be everywhere and where they end up being is nowhere. I speak to everyone, you speak to no one kind of thing. We'd much rather see people go all in on one platform. Just pick one as your primary thing and then grow that, have one audience.
For us, all roads are pointed to YouTube. Yes, we're growing a Facebook page, but the only thing we post on there is links to our YouTube video, which is probably the worst thing you could do to grow on Facebook. But we want we'd rather manage and build one thing than be like, oh, I need to do a post, and a reel, and I got to tweet this, and whatever. It's way simpler and easier just to focus on one.
Recently, we've ramped up our Instagram, too, but that was because one of our amazing team members put their hand up and said, hey, can I take over your Instagram, can I try some stuff on there? Which is a big yes from me, but why Instagram and not the others? We did play around on LinkedIn a little bit. We did a six-month test releasing two videos a week there, and it's not the place where I go.
The apps that I open, I like watching people's stories on Instagram. Let's play in the places that we like to go to, whether we're creating content there or not. TikTok, that's not me yet. Never say never. The dancing and things, we'll leave that for Chris. That's not for me.
Brendan: You'll do great, I'm sure, mate.
Justin: For us, it's go all in on one or all roads point to that one. Then it's much easier to direct people to other places as well. I will say, off the back of this what our business is, actually, is the email list. The front of our business is the YouTube channel, but our goal with the YouTube channel—besides showing up and helping people—is to grow the business piece, which is the email list, the direct communication without an algorithm or without any filtering, where people are signing up because they want to hear more from us.
If something happens to our YouTube channel, our business isn't done. We would feel it, but it's not over because we have a direct line of communication through our email list. We can deepen the relationship with them with all the automations and stuff that we've built out to help adding value and direct them to our library of content. All of that's happening on Autopilot 24/7, which does bring in more people into our Accelerated Program and clicking our affiliate links. It brings in money as well as adding value to them.
Brendan: Once again, you raised a great point. Maybe if you can just talk to that a little bit in some depth. At the end of the day, Primal Video doesn't own YouTube. Google owns YouTube, so if it's not there, you said you've got strategies in place and that list is the goal, but how important and how fundamental is it that people get that mindset? Because if your business revolves around anything that you don't own, that's a massive risk, isn't it?
Justin: For sure. How many people have we heard they're getting their Facebook ad accounts shut down recently? If that's your sole traffic source, imagine you're coming into a launch, and you want to run a webinar, and you go to turn on your traffic, and it doesn't work? That's a place that we don't want to play.
For us, and this is why we like YouTube, is the organic traffic you can build off the back of it from just one video a week or one video every other week. The lifetime of that content sticks around so much longer. We have videos that are still coming up on seven years old, that are still bringing in 1000 views, people still are signing up to our email list off the back of it, still clicking our affiliate links. That's a seven-year-old content.
Obviously, every week has been another new video since then. You build this amazing, organic traffic engine, where we run a webinar or anything. We don't run ads. We can literally send an email out and get a ton of people to sign up for it because we've already built up that reciprocity and because they want to be there, instead of us trying to grab their attention with an ad.
It is a much longer strategy. If you need fast eyeballs on something, if you are running a webinar and you don't have that, then add paid traffic, for sure. The long game and our goal has always been, we don't want to be reliant on the pay-to-play systems. We don't want to have to spend money to get people in. How do we build up enough value in reciprocity where they're coming to us and they're filtering themselves through? So that's what we use our email list for.
If something happened to YouTube, we can contact them. We can say, hey, here's our new channel, or, hey, we're growing on Instagram, or whatever it is, have you checked that out yet? Again, it's coming from that place of adding value because that is the business. You don't want to be spamming and selling stuff, and pissing people off. It's there to deepen that relationship.
Brendan: Mate, once again, thanks for explaining that. I mentioned earlier in the show about you guys always seem to be having fun. I remember seeing some images on Instagram. I think it'd be a Christmas party and you had Chris Martin faces going, just fun stuff. What's the most fun thing about doing what you do?
Justin: The Christmas party thing, I had no idea I wrapped up and they all had little face masks that look like Chris Martin.
Brendan: That's awesome.
Justin: Not at all. They waited until I went in to order food or something. I came out and there were all of them there wearing these masks. Because Mike couldn't make it over here, they even had a cardboard cutout of Mike there too. Yeah, a bit of fun.
Brendan: Just speaking to that very quickly, that, coming from your team, that's just the essence of the culture in your organization. That's okay for them to do that actually and it's embraced. It speaks volumes of what you guys have set up, the way you act, and the way you run your business.
Justin: Yeah, that's what I was going to say. That was all them. They know that we're here to have fun. We don't want to be not enjoying working and we don't want them to be in that position as well. Yes, there are going to be days and some tasks that they don't want to do. But at the same time, there are just as many, if not a lot more tasks that we know are in their wheelhouse and we know that they're putting their hand up to do.
We try to have fun. We try to break it up. Our office is right near the beach. Literally, most mornings, if it's sunny, which is a lot here, we walk down and grab a coffee. That's kind of our team meeting, team catch up, but it doesn't even need to be work-focused.
It's more just kind of setting the day. While it's nine o’clock start, it doesn't mean that we have to be in there kicking goals. Part of that is the lifestyle of it as well. That's our thing. We want people to enjoy, have the flexibility, but then when they're working, they're enjoying it, and they're focused, and they're kicking their goals then.
Brendan: Mate, is there a story in the community that you've grown that has given you most satisfaction? I'm talking more of a member of the PVA community. They don't have to have made it to you and subscribed, but just one that has given you the most satisfaction in how you guys have been able to help them.
Justin: If we really had to pick one that stands out was when the pandemic hit. A lot of people lost their income. It's nothing new here, but some of our members—one in particular—had already been implementing the strategies and stuff that we teach.
When her in-person coaching programs and stuff shut down because she couldn't do them, she pivoted to online using the stuff that we teach. She very quickly recovered her full-time wage and now is a lot more from just switching to the online stuff. That's something that we think is awesome because we want to help people build a business or build an income doing the stuff that they enjoy.
We don't all need to be in a 9–5, stuck doing the stuff that we don't want. If you're listening to this and that's hard to take, everything is a decision. You might be in a place of life where you have to do what you got to do right now. That's awesome, but how do you start doing in your downtime? Maybe stop watching Netflix as much or whatever. How do you start looking at the things that do light you up?
It doesn't mean you need to go start a YouTube channel, but maybe that's an option. Or at least helping people, or offering some coaching, or consulting, or volunteering in the areas that you want to be playing in and that you enjoy spending your time. Look at how can you help and what help do people need in those areas.
If you can start to build something out from that, even if it's just a side hustle or a couple of hours here and there, you will join it because you enjoy those things. Then when it starts to grow and starts to bring an income, that is the best thing. We want to try and get people to that point, where they can see not just, oh, cool, affiliate marketing works or YouTube works.
They need to see it for themselves because when you get your first affiliate check or YouTube check or whatever comes through, for most people, it's going to be really, really small when they hit that first one. But even that just shows you, it's proof that you've done it. That's where we want to get people to. Then they're like, okay, this works and this made my first dollar online. How do we get more of that?
Brendan: Flipping the coin, mate, what really pains you when people come into the community and you're not seeing the success you'd like to see for them?
Justin: I would say, normally, people just have a different approach or attitude to what we want to nurture and build in the community, that they've uploaded three videos and they haven't hit 1000 subscribers or something. Their expectations are definitely a little out. With YouTube, specifically, it's definitely not as fast to grow or to get views as some of the other platforms.You could post a video on Facebook, you might get 1000 views. You might post the same video on YouTube, you might get five views or no views.
Viewers cause different things on different platforms. People will then go for one over the other based on, again, the numbers, the vanity metrics, but the lifetime of that content on YouTube is going to stick around for years or can stick around for years. It might take three months for that one video to take off.
The thing that annoys me the most—and this is part of what we do; I enjoy it—is still where people just come in and their expectation is not aligned with where it should be. Yes, you hear about those channels that blow up overnight, but that's not most people.
We've been doing this for seven years. The first few were definitely dabbling and not very productive on the growth side of things. That's what it took us to figure it out. But that's not why we're pumped to share it. We want people to get where they want to go much, much faster.
Brendan: As we said, that's an important part of the learning journey. Have you ever broken up with a client? They've come into the community and it's just not the right place for them. They've created waves and you need to say, hey, bye-bye?
Justin: There are (I think) only two. We have, I think, just over 1050 members right now. As you said, not all of them have joined the Facebook group. We have members that are just happy to pay and never sign in based on them saying, thank you for the YouTube content that we're putting out for free.
It's crazy what some people sign up for, but our goal is we want the action takers in there. The same with everything. Our YouTube content is not for everyone. Our courses and programs aren't for everyone. We want to use that as a filter. Are we aligned? If you like our approach and what we've built, then this is what we can help you with.
But yeah, we had to ask two people to leave their expectations for the price point of the product. We weren't a fit. And you’re expecting to get my phone number and call me 24/7 when they have a question for a 37 US price-point product, yeah, just a mismatch of expectations.
Brendan: I have to say from personal experience, it's unbelievable value for the price point. I know there's PVA 2.0 or whatever coming in and a change in pricing, but I'm sure it's going to be an enormous failure again because it's amazing what you guys do. So well done on what you guys are doing. Keep doing it.
Justin: Thank you very much. It's awesome to hear. It's the success stories and stuff that come back through that we're really trying to encourage because there are a lot of people in every space that they're watching what's happening. Again, you can either see someone in your scenario or your similar situation succeeding with it that might be enough to ignite it or you actually take action yourself. But once you start, that's the thing that you're going to be motivated to keep going.
Brendan: Justin, I always like to come to a close by asking our guests, what's had the greatest impact in your own leadership journey? If you can share that with us, that'd be fantastic, buddy.
Justin: It's a great question and a hard one to answer because just to pick one thing. I would say, just having the approach of always be learning, always be trying and testing new things that, yeah, there are going to be failures along the way, but they're not bad things. We've definitely hired and fired quite a few people that haven't been a fit or were a mismatch for what we thought the role should be.
It's always just looking for the next, like, what can I do to improve that? Doing those little debriefs on every little thing, whether you're filming, or you're scripting, or anything like that in my case. It's looking at where you're spending your time, where can you free everything up. It's just trying to refine everything.
I know that that sounds very generic, but it is huge if you actually start to do it. What's one little thing you could improve this week based on how last week went? Because I was just looking at what went well, what didn't go well? The brainstorming piece of it is a whole interesting, fun exercise.
Nothing's off limits. Come up with crazy ideas because at some point, they could be possible. It could be the things that really shift the business forward. They won't be always crazy. It's striving for that improvement.
Brendan: Mate, I love it. As I say, leaders are learners. You've demonstrated a lot of that through what we've spoken about today. Again, just anyone goes on to Primal Video's YouTube channel. Hit that subscribe button, definitely do that. Have a look at the videos and have a look at the journey that the guys have had. It's fantastic.
It really builds confidence that, hey, people can do this with the right discipline, that sort of true north, always learning but staying true to where you're going, and have belief in yourself. I've seen a lot of that through the conversation we've had today. I've thoroughly enjoyed this conversation.
You're a fantastic dude. You're a pretty decent beach geek, I have to say. I haven't met too many beach geeks, but you're probably top of the list, I'd say, mate. Thanks very much for coming on The Culture of Things podcast today. I really appreciate you, buddy.
Justin: Thank you very much for having me on. It was good fun.
Brendan: Reflecting on the interview with Justin. What resonated with me overall was the alignment to the five laws of stratospheric success, made famous by Bob Berg and John David Mann in their best selling book, The Go-Giver.
The first law is the law of value, which states your true worth is determined by how much you give in value than you take in payment. The Culture of Things is a member of the Primal Video Accelerator Program. I can tell you, the value for money offered by Justin and the team is second to none.
The second law is the law of compensation. This says your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them. There are more than a thousand members in the Primal Video Accelerator Program and this continues to grow. What about the one million–plus YouTube subscribers? Justin and the team have a system in place, which can serve an infinite number of people.
The third law is the law of influence, which states your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people's interests first. Justin and the team are truly focused on helping people grow their brand and scale their revenue with video. Every single bit of content they create supports this focus.
The fourth law is the law of authenticity. This says the most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself. Justin is 100% authentic. He shows up as his true self whether he's doing a YouTube video, some Instagram same content, or doing a podcast interview. What you see is what you get. And this is consistent across the platforms they use. He's also 100% focused on being a better version of himself by improving a little bit every day.
The fifth law is the law of reciprocity, which states that the key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving. The best example of this reciprocity is the Primal Video affiliate revenue. Because Justin and the team share so much knowledge, product reviews and recommendations, and ideas to grow your brand and scale your revenue with video, their loyal community repay him by buying the products and tools he recommends. This provides another fantastic source of revenue only available because they are open to receiving off the back of the value they're providing.
In keeping with the law of value, here are my three key takeaways from my conversation with Justin.
My first key takeaway, leaders are clear on their purpose and passion. Justin's purpose is to create a lifestyle business, where he can have fun. He's also focused on only working with people who he actually wants to work with. His passion is helping other people create their own lifestyle business that allows them to control their own life. Being clear on his purpose and passion is what drives him every day.
My second key takeaway, leaders know there's always a next level. In Justin, there's an intrinsic drive for improvement. He's striving for the 1% improvement on everything, every day. He's seeking feedback constantly and input from the team. As he said, if you aren't taking on feedback, it's very hard to grow. It's this mindset that helps him and the team consistently move to the next level.
My third key takeaway, leaders mitigate risk. Justin made it very clear, they are growing an email list. The email list is their business and it's something they can control. YouTube is the front of the business, but it's not the business. They can't control it. Never be reliant on something you can't control. Leaders focus on identifying risk and mitigating it.
In summary, my three key takeaways were: Leaders are clear on the purpose and passion, leaders know there's always a next level, and leaders mitigate risk.
If you want to talk about culture, leadership, or teamwork, or have any questions or feedback about the episode, leave me a comment on the socials or contact me at thecultureofthings.com. Thanks for joining me, and remember, the best outcome is on the other side of a genuine conversation.
Outtro (music): Thank you for listening to The Culture of Things podcast with Brendan Rogers. Please visit thecultureofleadership.com to access the show notes. If you love The Culture of Things podcast, please subscribe, rate and give a review on Apple podcasts and remember a healthy culture is your competitive advantage.