Matt Stawski is a Grammy-nominated filmmaker and director of Nickelodeon's Blue's Big City Adventure, an original feature-length Blue's Clues & You! movie, premiering Nov. 18 exclusively on Paramount+. Marking Stawski's first feature film, Blue's Big City Adventure is a sing-and-dance-along musical spectacular for the whole family, featuring all-new songs and choreography with the show's beloved hosts–Josh (Josh Dela Cruz), Steve (Steve Burns) and Joe (Donovan Patton)—and fan-favorite animated characters. The movie also features BD Wong, Ali Stroker, Taboo, Alex Winter, Phillipa Soo, and Steven Pasquale's special star appearances.On A trip to New York City, Josh and Blue get help from Steve and Joe, but a greedy man plots to make the Big Apple his own, and he hasn't learned to share. With Blue on the trail, She must go on an adventure and save her friends and NYC before it's too late.Born and raised in Detroit, Mich., Stawski began his career “borrowing” truckloads of gear from his local TV station and filming punk bands with his friends. After attending Columbia College Chicago, he immediately moved to Los Angeles, where he began directing music videos full-time. From 2006-2019, he directed videos for a wide array of artists, including CeeLo Green's epic video “F**K You,” which garnered Stawski a Grammy Award nomination; “Hey, Soul Sister” for Train, as well as Fall Out Boy, The Wanted, Ne-Yo, Paramore, Fifth Harmony, Snoop Dogg and more. During that time, Stawski also began working in television, filming pilots for Awesomeness and Nickelodeon.Stawski is currently in development on an original horror film titled Monster Mash with Universal Pictures. In his free time, he gets lost in the Sierra mountains, practices close-up magic, and hosts a secret horror movie drive-in at an undisclosed location.Enjoy my conversation with Matt Stawski.
112 - Awkward Awesomeness Learn why being awkward has special powers and tips on getting better at difficult things. https://smallstepspod.com/?p=3371 https://www.buymeacoffee.com/smallstepspod https://tytashiro.com/awkwardaweasome/ https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/04/awkwardness-why/524385/ https://www.ted.com/talks/ty_tashiro_why_we_re_socially_awkward_and_why_that_s_awesome
Ciera shares her favorite Instagram accounts that you should all follow. Accounts for when you need awesomeness and humor, an emotional and mental boost, a confidence boost, some motivation or a parenting boost!Awesomeness & Humor@thealisonfulkner @stylefitfatty@abiayresEmotional & Mental Boost@aubreygrossenConfidence Boost@thetiabeestokes Motivation @jodymoorecoachingParenting Boost@simplyonpurpose
This interview features Zach Blume, Co-Founder and President of Portal A. We discuss how he built a 360 monetization strategy for an early Internet video series, launching one of the first branded content studios with his childhood friends, creating one of the most well-known and longest-running digital formats in YouTube Rewind, how Portal A ended up selling a minority stake to Brett Montgomery's Wheelhouse, why feeling like outsiders is central to their identity, and what's up next for the Portal A team.Subscribe to our newsletter. We explore the intersection of media, technology, and commerce: sign-up linkLearn more about our market research and executive advisory: RockWater websiteFollow us on LinkedIn: RockWater LinkedInEmail us: email@example.comInterview TranscriptThe interview was lightly edited for clarity.Chris Erwin:Hi, I'm Chris Erwin. Welcome to the Come Up, a podcast that interviews entrepreneurs and leaders.Zach Blume:We built a business model around it that included merchandise, ad revenue share, ticketed events, and sponsorships. And so we actually ran that show at a profit, even though it was early internet video web series. And the idea was to build an entertainment property on the web that could become multi-season, could eventually travel to TV, which it did. It later became a TV series called White Collar Brawlers. It was super experimental, and I would say, looking back on a fairly innovative for three guys who had really no idea what we were doing and had no training in any of this, we built an entertainment property on the internet that was profitable.Chris Erwin:This week's episode featured Zach Blume, Co-Founder and President of Portal A. So Zach grew up in Berkeley and had a self-described normal suburban life of sports and friends. Zach then went to University of Oregon to study political science and pursued an early career running local political campaigns in California. But an opportune moment reunited Zach, with his two childhood friends to create one of the internet's earliest digital series White Collar Brawlers.After some unexpected success, the friend trio then became the founding team for Portal A, an award-winning digital and branded content company. Some highlights of our chat include his 360 monetization strategy for one of the earliest internet video brands, what it takes to co-found a successful company with your friends, how they landed a strategic investment from Wheelhouse, why feeling like an outsider is central to their identity, and how they're building towards the next massive creator opportunity. All right, let's get to it. Zach, thanks for being on the Come Up podcast.Zach Blume:It's a pleasure to be here.Chris Erwin:From our conversation yesterday, amazingly, I believe this is your first podcast interview ever. Is that right?Zach Blume:It's true. A lot of interviews over the years. Some predating the podcast era, some during the podcast era, but I'm honored to be invited onto yours. I've listened to a bunch of episodes, and we'll see how it goes.Chris Erwin:Awesome. All right, so as is typical, let's rewind a bit before we get into the whole Portal A story, although it actually starts pretty early on. So why don't you tell us about where you grew up and what your childhood was like?Zach Blume:Yeah, I grew up in Berkeley, California, the son of two die-hard New Yorkers who had moved out to California. My dad was born in the Bronx. My mom was from Manhattan. They were part of the New York exodus to California, and I was the first kid in my family who grew up in California and, of all places, Berkeley, childhood filled with lots of sports and playing in the street and all that good stuff. And the really interesting tie to the Portal A story, obviously, is that I met my two co-founders when we were somewhere between four and five years old. The stories differ, but we met in kindergarten, and we're close friends basically since we were little kids and played a lot of basketball together growing up. And the court that we played basketball in was called Portal A, which eventually became the name of our company 25 years later. The founder story of Portal A is very tied up in the childhood story of all for all three of us. I live in Oakland now, so I didn't stray too far from home.Chris Erwin:Got it. I remember in doing a little bit of research for this episode, I was trying to look up Portal A parks around the US, and I kept finding some in Orange County, so I thought you were an NorC kid, but No, you're a NorCal kid.Zach Blume:I mean, I think if there's an opposite of Orange County, it would probably be Berkeley.Chris Erwin:That's probably right.Zach Blume:But the court was actually an El Cerrito, which is an adjacent town to Berkeley, and it still exists. It's still around, and we should probably go play some hoops over there, but we haven't for years.Chris Erwin:Yeah, that'd be fun. So I have to ask, what did your parents do?Zach Blume:My dad has a business background. He runs and, up until actually six months ago, ran an investment advisory firm helping individuals manage their investments. It was a small company, five to six employees, just a great business, really community based, all about relationships and helping people manage their life and their money. And yeah, it's taught me a lot about business growing up, for sure.My mom was a therapist. She's retired now. She was a private practice in Berkeley. They've known each other since they were 20. They actually both went to the Wright Institute, which was a psychology graduate school in Berkeley. My dad was a psychologist briefly for about six months before he went back into business. And my mom was a therapist for 25 years. It was an interesting mix of business and psychology growing up, for sure.Chris Erwin:Got it. And were there any siblings?Zach Blume:No siblings? I'm the only one and-Chris Erwin:Oh, only child. Okay.Zach Blume:Yeah, interestingly, five of my closest friends, all groomsmen at my wedding, were from that same kindergarten class where I met Nate and Kai, my two co-founders. So there's definitely been a brotherly nature of those relationships. And at this point, I kind of consider Nate and Kai almost like brothers. We've known each other for 35 years, and we've been in business together for over 12 years, so it's pretty deep. Those relationships run pretty deep.Chris Erwin:Was there a part of you early on where you thought you might go into business and finance or become an investment manager like your father?Zach Blume:So there was also a lot of political kind of conversation and learning in my house. I remember from a very early age, my dad, when I was like eight, he would try to sit me down and read the Sunday Weekend Review in the New York Times. And it was like torture for me. But I think it got in there somewhere.In college, I actually studied political science and, for years, worked in the political world after I graduated from school. And I really thought that was my path, and it was for many years. I worked on campaigns. I started managing campaigns. I worked for political communication shop in San Francisco for years. I kind of burned out on the world of politics. I've since been re-engaged in a lot of different ways. But when I burned out on politics, that's when I thought I was going to go into business.I left the political world, was studying to go to business school, doing all the GMAT prep, and that's when Nate and Kai came to me and said, "We should make a web series together." Because I had a three-month gap, and it sounded so fun. We had made some stuff together just for fun earlier on. And so, while I was studying for the GMAT, I joined Nate and Kai to make this web series in the early days of internet video. And that's kind of the origin story of where we are today is that that web series, it was called White Collar Brawler. It was totally weird and crazy and awesome, and it started us on our journey to where we are today.Chris Erwin:Got it. So going back even a bit further, I'm just curious because you met your co-founders, Nate and Kai, back when you were in kindergarten, as you said, four to five years old, when you were in middle school, or when you in high school, were you guys part of the theater club? Were you creating any types of videos for your classes? There's something about meeting people early in your childhood, particularly in digital media, that I think blossoms into different relationships. So was there any kind of through line early on where you were interested in media entertainment before getting into PoliSci, which as part of your early career?Zach Blume:Yeah, I think there definitely was for Nate and Kai. There was less so for me. So Nate and Kai started making, maybe not in high school, but in their college years, they both went to school on the East Coast. This is like 2003, 2004, 2005. They started making internet, video, and web series when they were in college. And Kai was a film major, so he had some training, and they started just playing a lot of comedic stuff earliest day pre-YouTube, so quick time player-type stuff.So yeah, high school, I'm not so sure college for sure for them, at least it started building. And then, right after college, the three of us, plus another friend, grabbed a flight to Hanoi, bought motorcycles in Vietnam, and traveled across the country, and we made a web series called Huge In Asia.So it was like a 30-episode comedy travel web series, kind of just chronicling our journey across Vietnam. And then, they went on, I had to come back to the States for some work, but they went on to Mongolia, China, Laos, all sorts of different countries across Asia. That's where it really started for us the idea that you could not be in the formal, either entertainment industry or advertising industry. You could buy a pretty shitty camera, have an idea, start producing content and build an audience. And that was 2006. So the interest in internet video as a medium really started there.Then we all went our separate ways, and all did kind of normal early career professional stuff, but that Huge in Asia as an idea and an adventure was really the starting point for us. So yeah, so I would say the interest in video and film and just the distribution of it online started college years, and then the year after, we went to Asia.Chris Erwin:Got it. So just to add some context here, because I think YouTube was founded around 2004, and then it was bought by Google around '05, '06 pretty shortly after founding. So when you're coming out of college, I think this is around a 2006 timeframe, as you noted, when you guys decided to go to Asia and to do this motorcycle tour, was there a goal of, "Hey, there's an explosion in internet video, we have a chance to build an audience and make money off of this?" Or was it just, "Hey, this seems like a really fun thing to do. We're just coming out of college, we're kind of this in this exploratory phase, we like spending time with one another, let's go do this and see what happens." When you were thinking from the beginning, what was the end goal of that project?Zach Blume:Much more the latter. I mean, it was purely experimental. It was all about the adventure. I think there was a sense that we were at the dawn of something new, and I think that YouTube, Vimeo, I mean all the other platforms in the investment of history at this point, but there was an explosion of internet video technology that was enabling people like us to start making stuff. So I think there was like a sense that something was happening. It definitely was not a money-making endeavor. In fact, it was the opposite. And it was really just to experiment and play and see where it took us.Looking back on it, 15 years later, 18 years later, whatever it is, I think it's 100% served its purpose. We got our feet wet. We started experimenting. We started learning what worked, what didn't work, what audiences responded to, what made us happy. It kind of gelled our relationship as young adults versus as kids. And we never would've known at the time, but it did 100% lead to Portal A, and that's to where we are now.Chris Erwin:Okay, yeah, I hear you. I think, looking back in retrospect, it was definitely a catalyst to the forming of Portal A and where you got to where you are today, but it wasn't because when you came back from that trip, it wasn't like, "Oh, let's found Portal A and let's get going." You actually entered into the political realm for two to three years before founding Portal A, right?Zach Blume:Yep. That was always my plan, and that was the career I was going to pursue for sure.Chris Erwin:So, but the seed had been planted, but yeah, in '06, for the next two years, you become a political campaign manager. What campaigns were you working on?Zach Blume:First campaign was a Congressional campaign in Southern California. That was actually my first job out of college. We got trounced by 22 points in a very heavily Republican district by Mary Bono, who was Sonny Bono's widow. We had a candidate that we really liked, and it was the 2006 election, so it was kind of the midway point or the later stages of, I guess, Bush's first term. And there was a ground swell of just whenever there's a presidential election, two years later, the other party is the one that's like kind of getting their grassroots organizing on.So it was definitely an exciting time. It was an exciting election year. I happened to work on a campaign that was in a... It was Palm Springs. It was like that area, heavily Republican area, but I learned so much, and I was running a third of the district, and I loved it. I loved organizing. I felt like I was on the right side of history and doing the right thing.That then led to this fellowship that I did called The Coro Fellowship. I met one of my best friends on the campaign who had done the Coro Fellowship, and it was a year-long fellowship in political and public affairs. Everybody listening to this podcast will never have heard of Coro, but in the political and policy world, it's well-known and well-regarded, and that was a great experience. I got exposure across a bunch of different sectors, including government, labor unions, business, nonprofits, et cetera.Out of that, I started managing a campaign for the California State Assembly in Richmond, California, with a candidate, Tony Thurmond, who is now the Superintendent of Public Education in California. So he's gone on to do pretty big things. He's an amazing guy.And that led me to work at Storefront Political Media, which was a political media and communication shop in San Francisco that, at the time, ran all of Gavin Newsom's campaigns. He was then the mayor of San Francisco, obviously, is now the governor of California.I ran the mayor's race in Houston, of all places, elected Annise Parker, who was the first lesbian mayor of a major American city. And she was a fantastic executive out in Houston and then had a bunch of different clients, including firefighters unions, individual candidates. Ultimately, I was working for a client that was leading initiatives that didn't necessarily align with my own political values. And that was part of what led me to say I was ready to move on from the world of politics. So it was a fantastic experience, I learned so much, but that's what kind of prompted me to want to go to business school, which is what I was going to do until Nate and Kai came along and said, "Let's make a web series."Chris Erwin:Yeah. When you were working on these political campaigns and also working with Storefront Political Media, which is a national communication media and PR firm, were you bringing some of your grassroots internet video tactics to help build community, to help build influence and sway some of these elections? Was that part of kind of some of the unique flavor that you brought to these teams?Zach Blume:For sure, I was definitely the internet guy at that shop. I mean, there were a couple of us, there was a couple of coworkers who were of my generation. This was just when kind of Facebook was becoming a powerful tool for communications pre-Instagram, pre all those other platforms we're familiar with now. I definitely brought my expertise in video and the distribution of content online to that work. It was an interesting time politically. It was just at the advent of the internet as a powerful communications tool for campaigns.Chris Erwin:So then you're considering going to business school, you take the GMAT.Zach Blume:I got halfway through the class, and White Collar Brawler, that series, came calling. It was all-consuming. It was so fun. And we produced the hell out of that show, and it got a lot of notoriety. We got a big write-up in the New York Times, like big-Chris Erwin:Give us the context for White Collar Brawler again. What exactly was that project, and what were you supporting?Zach Blume:The log line was basically what happens when you take office workers whose muscles have become dilapidated by sitting in front of a computer all day long and train them to become amateur boxers. It just so happened that the two White Collar workers that were the stars of the show were Nate and Kai. So it was very, kind of like meta, we were the creators, and Nate and Kai were also the stars.The experimental part of it was shooting and producing the series in real-time. So there was an experiential element to the show, meaning as Nate and Kai were training to become boxers, fans of the show could actually come out and train with them, run on the beach in San Francisco or go to a training session with a boxing coach. We had events happening throughout the course of the show. It eventually culminated in an actual fight, a licensed fight in Berkeley between Nate and Kai for the Crown. And we had, I think, 1500 people showed up to that site and paid tickets-Chris Erwin:Was it boxing, mixed martial arts? What was the actual thoughts?Zach Blume:No, just old-school boxing.Chris Erwin:Okay.Zach Blume:It was the real deal. And-Chris Erwin:I may have missed this in the beginning. Who funded this? What was the purpose of it?Zach Blume:It was partially self-funded. It was partially funded by a friend of ours who had sold, in the early internet days, had sold his tech company to Google in one of the early Google acquisitions. So he just privately financed, I mean, we're not talking about big dollars here, and we built a business model around it that included merchandise, ad revenue share, events, ticketed events, and sponsorships, which I was in charge of in addition to other things.And so we actually ran that show at a profit, even though it was just an early internet video web series. It was actually a profitable property, and the idea was to build an entertainment property on the web that could become multi-season, could eventually travel to TV, which it did. It later became a TV series called White Collar Brawlers. And so it was actually super experimental, and I would say, looking back on it, fairly innovative in terms of for three guys who had really no idea what we were doing and had no training in any of this, we built an entertainment property on the internet that was profitable.Back to the question, I mean, that's what distracted me from going to business school because I felt like, first of all, I was learning so much, I was having so much fun creating content with two friends, and you just had a feeling that we were onto something and we didn't know what that thing was. We thought we were going to be an original entertainment company that would just make shows like White Collar Brawler, but we knew there was something. We knew there was a lot of activity and interest in this space. And so that took up all my attention and then took up my attention for the next 12 years.Chris Erwin:I will say from personal experience it saved you a couple of hundred thousand dollars and a lot of agony of actually taking that test.Zach Blume:Right, exactly.Chris Erwin:And being two years out of the workforce, speaking from personal experience.Zach Blume:Right. I know, I know.Chris Erwin:So, okay. And look, this is interesting to think about how you guys, as a founding team, were gelling and coming together. When you guys started talking, "Let's do this White Collar Brawler show as a team," what was your specific role, Zach? What was it like? What are you going to focus on?Zach Blume:Yeah, I mean, it actually reflects the role that I now play and ended up playing when we turned White Collar Brawler into a business. So Nate and Kai are more on the creative side, the creative and production side, both had experience. They had both actually before me had left their kind of "normal jobs," moved to LA, and started making internet video with a vision for again, "We don't know what it is, but there's something going on here, and we want to be a part of it."They had background as almost as creators themselves and also some training, actually with the physical act of production. So Nate and Kai were always much more on the creative side and the production side. And then my role was kind of capital B business. I was responsible for sponsorships. I was responsible for the operations of the show. I was responsible for where we were going to have office space, all that type of stuff. Basically the business side of creativity, and that's the same today. I mean, it's kind of like, it was just a foreshadow of the roles that we ended up playing as we were growing Portal A. And we've always had a super clear and complementary division of labor.I would say when looking for business partners, I think that might be, I mean, your rapport and your ability to communicate is lots of things are really important, but making sure that each person, each principal has a clear role and that they actually like that role and can succeed in that role is I think one of the keys to business success. So we've always had very clear roles. We've always liked our roles and felt like we belonged where we were. That's how it started with White Collar Brawler.Chris Erwin:That's awesome. Yeah, I have to give you some real kudos because you take very early on in your career, and in the digital entertainment ecosystem, you take an IP concept, and you create a diversified, sustainable business model around it where you have revenue coming in from advertising, sponsorships, merch, ticket sales, that's what many different IP properties want to figure out today. And many struggle to do that.Zach Blume:The only we could've described it back then as well as you described it now, but yes, that's basically what it was.Chris Erwin:Yeah, you look around at one another, you have this culmination in a ticketed event where there's over 1500 people pay to see the fight between Nate and Kai. And so you guys look around at one another and say, "Hey, we got something here." Is the next step? Let's found a business, call it Portal A and start doing this at scale. Or did it kind of just naturally happen, saying, "All right, let's find the next project and see where it goes from there."Zach Blume:It was much more, again, the latter. I mean, we did know that there was something brewing; I gave ourselves, at the very least credit for that. Did not have a business model. We did not have a plan. We had a kind of a concept and an idea and a good partnership. And I think that was really important too, is just how well we worked together.When we came out of White Collar Brawler, we had this idea credit to Kai. I believe we really wanted to do a show about whiskey, that that was going to be our next piece of IP that we wanted to develop and the concept behind the show, again because we didn't want, we were just going to be doing original series built for internet video was basically a distillery tour type show, but with a twist where there would be a membership model involved. And for anybody who was in a... 99% of viewers would just watch the show for the entertainment value, any type of good travel show that built that type of audience. But 1% of viewers would subscribe to the show and get a drum of whiskey. For each distillery that we were visiting as part of the show, they would actually get samples in the mail, and it would be kind of a whiskey of the month model married to an entertainment property.And we were coming out of White Collar Brawlers, we were visiting distilleries, getting drunk, trying to figure out this model. And we were super hyped on it. We thought it was a really interesting way to monetize internet video through subscriptions. And we even got into the logistics of shipping, and we were really going down that path, and in the meantime, we were broke, we were like 25 years old and-Chris Erwin:That was my next question. How are you funding all of this?Zach Blume:Well, we paid ourselves an extremely nominal salary. I would call it a stipend when we were making White Collar Brawler enough to survive. And then, coming out of that, we were trying to do our whiskey show, but that stipend went away. So we were without income, really. I mean, I remember going to Bank of America at some point, and there was so little... This is one of our funny stories that we tell each other. I remember this parking lot moment where the three of us had gone to Bank of America, where we had this White Collar Brawler account, or maybe it's a Portal A account. I'm not sure. And there was, I think, less than $1000 in there, and it was one of those like, oh, shit-type moments, and I remember going out to the parking lot and being like to Nate and Kai because I was always kind of the rah-rah guy of the three of us. And just, I remember basically having to give a motivational speech about that we were going to be okay, that this is going to be okay, despite the fact that we had absolutely zero money in the bank.That was where we were at that point. We were trying to figure out this whiskey idea, and then all of a sudden, because of the popularity of White Collar Brawler and some big YouTube videos we had made to promote the series, we started getting some inbound interest from brands. And that was never in the plan. We would think about sponsorships on our original series from brands, but never creative service worked directly to brands, and our first phone call was-Chris Erwin:Explain that difference for the listeners. I think that's a good nuance.Zach Blume:Yeah, I mean, if there was a business model, the business model we were considering was building properties like White Collar Brawler that could be sponsored by, in the best-case scenario, Nike or by Everlast, the boxing company, or by Gatorade or that's who we were pursuing for what-Chris Erwin:So think of title cards and brought to you by et cetera.Zach Blume:Exactly. Or like sponsoring events or merchandise or all that type of stuff. And we had some success, not from the big brands, but we had some success on White Collar Brawler with sponsorships from more regional brands, or like there were some beer companies and some smaller merchandising startups that were part of the sponsorship mix.I will say that we sent out about 500 to 1000 sponsorship emails and got about five sponsors. So we worked hard at it. And so that was the model we were going to pursue even for something like the whiskey show. We were going to look for sponsors and brand sponsors in that way. We never thought we were going to build a creative services company, meaning brands, an advertising company effectively, like brands hiring us as a service provider to create content. That was never, ever something we thought about.We started getting these phone calls. I remember being in a car one time, and I got this random call from a number I did not know, and it turned out to be a marketing manager at the Gap. Her name was Sue Kwon. Shout out, Sue Kwon, if you're out there. She was our first real client after White Collar Brawler. And we started making videos for the Gap, as kind of like a little agency production company.Then we got some more calls. There was a Tequila company that wanted us to make a web series called Tres Agaves Tequila. They wanted us to make a web series shot in Mexico about the origins of Tequila. Then we got a call from Jawbone, which was a hot Bluetooth speaker company at the time-based in the Bay Area. They wanted us to make a music video featuring a bunch of early YouTube influencers or creators.So we started getting these, we called them gigs at the time because literally all we were trying to do is pay our rent and so we could make the whiskey shows. We were just trying to get a little bit of income coming in so we could actually go out and make our dream whiskey show. And there were fun projects, and we weren't making advertising. We were making content, and that was a big difference for us. We weren't making pre-roll ads or 30-second ads. We were making web series for brands and music videos for brands and all that type of stuff. And without knowing it, we kind of stumbled across an area that was in high demand, which was brands trying to figure out what to do on platforms like YouTube and social media with video. We had established ourselves as understanding that world.So that's the origin of our branded content business which became the core of our business for many, many years was just one-off phone calls, unexpected phone calls, taking projects as gigs to pay the bills, and just kind of doing our best and seeing where it led.Chris Erwin:Hey listeners, this is Chris Erwin, your host of the Come Up. I have a quick ask for you if you dig what we're putting down. If you like the show, if you like our guests, it would really mean a lot if you can give us a rating wherever you listen to our show, it helps other people discover our work, and it also really supports what we do here. All right, that's it, everybody. Let's get back to the interview.What was the moment where you felt it evolved from, "Hey, it's the three of us rotating between gigs, hiring freelancers as need be, to what became a business, which is called a systematized and efficient way to deliver consistent quality around a good or service."Zach Blume:I think the first year was the gig model. It was just a patchwork of projects in order to generate some form of income. The second year it started to feel real. There started to be a fairly steady flow of inbound interests, and then a kind of something we be started to become known for a type of content. It was kind of humorous, entertaining, felt like it was native to the internet and to YouTube.I think in that second year was when it started to feel like a business, and then some light clicked for me that we actually needed to do some business planning and thinking, and I had no idea what I was doing. I mean zero, negative. Negative idea what I was doing. But I had grown up where my dad was a small business owner, so I had some exposure, but I just remember being it was just like a vast sea of unknown principles and requirements that I had to navigate.Chris Erwin:How did you figure that out? Did you put together an advisory board? Did you call your dad? Were you calling some other friends in business?Zach Blume:One of our earliest advisors was not a business advisor. He was our sensei in some forms in the earliest days. And this is another shout-out to Steve Wolf, who you may know, who was on the executive team of Blip, which was one of those many early internet video platforms. He really helped us understand the space.We did not have a formal advisory board. We did not have a board. And it was truly trial and error. That's the best way I can describe it. It was just using our brains and figuring things out through mistakes and successes. It is a total blur looking back on it, but I think we were a good partnership. We had our heads screwed on straight, and we kind of learned how to operate.Chris Erwin:Another important part, too, is, like you said, when you all looked at your bank account, and everyone's face went white, but you were the rah-rah guy, which is like, "Hey, guys, we're going to figure this out. Where there's a will, there's a way." And I think that's a very important role. Shout to Steve Wolf. He was one of the execs that oversaw the AwesomenessTV network when I was there in 2014, 2015 timeframe. Super sharp guy, OG in the digital space. So not surprised to hear that he was a valuable advisor to you.All right, so then I think there's another pretty big moment where your business takes an even bigger step up. And I think this has to do with becoming the official partner for the YouTube Rewind project. The moment where you felt, "Okay, we're really onto something here."Zach Blume:Yeah, it was coincidental. We were introduced to somebody at YouTube in 2011 as a three-person team that was making internet video content and mostly on YouTube. And Rewind was just a twinkle of an idea. I mean, it was like there was a minor budget. It was basically a countdown of the top videos of the year. The budget was, I think, $20,000 in the first year to make Rewind. And we shot it in a small studio location. It was one of our earliest projects, and it was before Rewind became Rewind, the big thing that many of us are familiar with. It was a major validator for us to start working with YouTube directly as a client. And Rewind eventually became a project that defined our growth for many, many years to come. But it started very, very small.Chris Erwin:From that project. You've been around for now for 12 years, being founded around 2010. What did the growth in scaling part of your business looks like? With YouTube Rewind and other marquee projects, you're starting to get a sense of what are we actually building towards. Was there a point of view there or like, "Hey, we have inbound interests, we're working with brands and advertisers," all of a sudden we're working with publishers, and were you just kind of being more reactive or was it a mix of being reactive and proactive?Zach Blume:The best analogy I can draw is to kind of riding a wave. This may resonate with you, but I don't think we knew what was around the next corner or what the next thing was going to look like. We were just building momentum in those early years and taking each project as it came. We knew we had something. We knew we had a good partnership. We knew we were starting to bring some really interesting, smart people to the team, clients that were really willing to push some boundaries. And I was learning as I went along how to run a business, and Kai was learning, and Nate was learning how to create amazing content, and there was not a lot of foresight. It was mostly about riding a wave and seeing where the wave took us. Then doing a really good job. That was really important because every project, the success or not success for the project kind of dictated what the next chapter was going to look like.So we just focused on trying to build some good fundamentals for the business, trying to make sure we were profitable because we had to be and just making work that we were proud of. That's the extent of our planning, I think, was just what did the next three months look like and how do we keep riding this wave?Chris Erwin:Yeah, and that's something I think worth emphasizing for the listeners where it's, so often people will say you have to be super strategic in planning every single move and where is their white space and how are you going to beat out your competitors to get it? But I think when you are building a small business, and this is something that I reeducate myself on consistently with RockWater, it's really about the basics, which is know your core service offering and nail it and delight clients, from there, that's really the core foundation from where you grow and where other things can emerge. And I think that's a testament to really what you guys have done for well over a decade is you know your lane, and you operate so effectively within it that is now, over the past few years, created some other really exciting opportunities for you, your success in your lane led to the investment by Wheelhouse a couple of years back. So how did that come to be? Because I think that's a pretty big moment for the company.Zach Blume:That fast-forward a bit over years of misery and happiness and everything in between. We threw ourselves entirely into growing Portal A for the bulk of our 20s. It was all-encompassing, tons of sacrifices that were made to other parts of our lives, which I'm okay with looking back. I do think that 20s are a good time to throw yourself and just be completely focused and passionate about something like this. And we built that branded business. We diversified the type of clients we were working with. Projects got bigger and bigger, Rewind got bigger, and all the rest of our projects got bigger.Starting around 2016, we wanted very badly to return to the original thesis of Portal A, which was creating an original entertainment properties for the web. That's where it all started. And we had spent so many years working with brands, and it was fantastic, and it was a good business, and we got to make really cool stuff. But we had this hunger to return to the kind of to our entertainment roots in some ways. And we're not talking at that point about TV shows on broadcast, but about entertainment that was built for internet consumption.So we started taking steps back in that direction. As we were continuing to grow the branded business and expand in that area, we were committing ourselves to the original entertainment dream and started making shows horribly oversimplified what it took to actually start doing that again. But we started making shows again. We kept the branded business running and growing. And-Chris Erwin:When you started making shows, were you deficit-financing these yourself? So you were developing them internally and then taking them out as a slate to pitch and sell? Or were these being funded by other digital and streaming platforms that were going to put this content on their channels?Zach Blume:We were developing them internally, as a kind of a traditional development arm, and then taking them out to streaming and digital buyers. We were not doing the White Collar Brawler model, where we were building properties completely independently. So we did kind of slot in a little bit more into back into the entertainment ecosystem versus building our own properties, which that could be a whole separate conversation about the drawbacks and the benefits of that.So we were finding our way to making original series, again, we hired ahead of originals a guy named Evan Bregman, who's now at Rooster Teeth who's a good friend. And we started kind of trying to build that business again, and eventually, we started to feel like the branded business was running really well and growing year over year. We felt in order to take the next step forward on the entertainment side of our business. We needed a partner.So we had been a completely independent entire course of our trajectory. We were running a really good business at the time. It was very profitable, and the growth trajectory was really attractive, I think to outsiders. And so we started taking meetings with potential partners with the idea of strategically aligning ourselves to somebody who could level us up. We weren't looking for a sale. We were looking for truly a strategic partner.Chris Erwin:Were you running a formal process here where there was a mandate of, "We seek a strategic partner, we're going to take meetings over the next two months?" Or was it, "Hey, these relationships that we create in the industry, we got some inbounds, let's take these meetings with perhaps a little bit more intent than we would've a couple of years ago."Zach Blume:It was not a formal process in the sense that we had a banker or some advisor who was guiding us through it. But it was a process in that it was fairly intentional. Remember sitting down with Nate and Kai and listing out the players in the original entertainment world, whether that was individuals or production companies, mostly who we think would be good partners for us, and starting to navigate through our network to see who would be interested in talking. And the thing that I've found, especially in that period, which was 2017, '18 was when we were starting to have those conversations, it was a pretty hot period for digital media. I think there was a lot of consolidation going on. Our experience was once we started having a couple of those conversations, and people started to see our numbers and see the fact that we were running an actually profitable business that was growing year over year.It just like word got out, and it was a little bit of a domino. And so I just remember over the course of 2017, 2018, we took like 15 or 20 strategic meetings with potential strategic partners. Again, not running it through a banker or anything like that, but just kind of word of mouth. And it was a really interesting experience, and learned a lot about ourselves and about the space. And we just really clicked with Brent Montgomery and Ed Simpson, who were, at the time they, had sold their TV production company to ITV and they were working at ITV at the time but starting to think about what their post-ITV move was going to be, which would eventually become Wheelhouse and just to immediate connection with both of them on a personal and kind of business level.To them, we looked like a really smart partner. They felt like a really smart partner to us. And that's how that started. And there were other conversations going on at the time, but Brent and Ed and eventually Wheelhouse always felt like the right fit for us.Chris Erwin:From that first meeting with Wheelhouse, did they indicate in the room, "Hey, we want to do a deal, we're going to make an offer," or did it take a while to get there?Zach Blume:Well, this story I always tell about Ed, who everybody should know, Ed Simpson, he's an amazing guy, is that within five minutes of our first meeting he asked us, "Are you Butellas?" And I was floored. I was like-Chris Erwin:Gets right to the point.Zach Blume:I was like, we just shook hands. We were just getting to know each other, but I think honestly it's a testament to directness, and I think that actually really helped was kind of just getting our cards on the table from early days. And I think from the beginning. It was clear that Ed and Brent were looking for their first partners. Brent is also like no BS. He knows what he wants, he goes out and gets it, and the intent for an investment, a partnership of some sort, was clear from the very beginning. The eventual process took very long.Chris Erwin:How long was that process?Zach Blume:I think the timeframe from offer letter or LOI to signed paperwork was about a year. But I think there was a six-month or eight-month, even maybe even a full-year courtship before that. So the whole process from first meeting with Ed, where he asked us what our EBITDA was after shaking his hand, to signing paperwork and then collapsing on the floor because we were so exhausted was maybe year and a half, two years.Chris Erwin:Yeah. It always takes longer than people expect.Zach Blume:Yeah. It's incredible. And there were multiple points where that deal almost fell completely apart. In fact, I was sure it was done. It was toast. And what I've learned from other founders that I've talked to that have done deals, whether it's a sale or a minority investment or some sort of strategic partnership like this, is every time there's a deal, it almost fails twice or three times or more.It's just in the nature of things when there's two negotiators that there's going to be some moments of staring into the abyss. And I actually haven't heard of a deal that hasn't had that. So I learned that, in retrospect, at the time, they were hugely existential moments because we had put so much time and energy, and money into making this happen and having the deal almost fell apart multiple times was, it was really intense.Chris Erwin:Yeah. After having been a part of many M&A and capital raising processes throughout my career before RockWater when I was a banker, and then also at Big Frame, where I hired my old investment bank to represent us in a sale to Awesomeness backed by DreamWorks. And then at RockWater now, there's so many variables. You have different business models, you have different team cultures, you have leadership, you have investors, and to align on, are we working towards the same mission? Do we want the same thing in the future? Do we want the same thing now when we integrate? Where are we complementary? Will we actually succeed combined, or there alternative ways to do this? And I think it really is a special thing. We read a lot of deal headlines in the trade, so everyone thinks like, "Oh, deals get done all the time, it's easy."For all those headlines of the success, there's many, many more instances where deals have fallen apart that we don't hear about. I think the best thing that you guys had, Zach, was your BATNA, your Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement, but also your leverage. You had a profitable independent business. It was you, Zach, and Kai as the founders. You were growing, and you were profitable, and you could sustain with a partner or without a partner. And essentially, that led to a great deal for you guys. So it's awesome to say.Zach Blume:Yeah, it's true. I mean, we were not trying to parachute at our business in any stretch. We weren't trying to sell to then do an arm out to then leave. We were trying to level up, and I agree it was our ability to walk was good leverage for us, but we really wanted to do it because we really had committed ourselves to making this type of strategic move. I think it's very different when you're trying to capitalize on a moment in exit versus when you're trying to make an actual partnership to take the next step up in a business. And we just weren't ready to, and we still aren't ready to sunset Portal A.This is becoming our life's work. We are committed. We are always kind of doubling down on our commitment. Sometimes I can't believe I've been doing this for 12 years. It's unbelievable. And I hope that we do it for many, many, many, many, many more years.Chris Erwin:You found your magnum opus in the first company that you founded pretty rare and pretty incredible, right?Zach Blume:Yeah. I mean it's amazing, but it also puts a lot of pressure on that to fulfill a lot of parts of your being and or your professional desires. When you're focused on one thing for so long, as opposed to a lot of entrepreneurs who kind of jump or leapfrog from one thing to the next. We've had to come to grips with the fact that this is our baby, and it's continuing to be our baby. And it's a long play. It's a long run.Chris Erwin:This is actually a good segue to think about how this business is fulfilling to you, kind of over the past couple of years, some key changes that you've made of, how you're rewarding some of your most prominent team members, elevating them to partner and then thinking about what you want to grow into. So let's get into that. I look at your business. In your 20s, it was kind of the freshman segment of Portal A really starting to become into a real business. Then in your 30s, it's kind of like the sophomore years where you're starting to scale up and start to realize some pretty incredible success. And now you've got this incredible foundation.So not to aid you in front of everyone, but I think you and the founding team are entering your 40s over the next year or two years or so, entering the junior and senior years of your business. And for you guys to continue to be excited and fulfilled, tell us about some of the recent moves that you've made at the company and then where you want to go. What does that look like?Zach Blume:It's a great question. I wonder what happens after the junior and senior year sets. We're definitely at a different life stage, just on a personal level, then we were when we were on the treadmill moving 100 miles per hour in our 20s and in the kind of like the first half of Portal A and the deal with Wheelhouse was definitely like a marker, or maybe it was the dividing line between the freshman and sophomore era as you put it.First of all, I mean the last couple of years have been crazy, the pandemic, the election in 2020, there's been a lot of volatility in the world over the last few years, but what we're trying to do in the face of that volatility and kind of coming out of the Wheelhouse partnership, which again marked a new chapter for us is, create A on the business side sustainability and kind of consistency. And we've been able to do that. I mean, we've been profitable, consistent from a numbers perspective for many years, but it definitely felt for many years, we were running on a treadmill trying to keep up.And over the last several years, we've been trying to do as we enter into new periods of our lives personally, as we bring other people into the business as partners is create a business that doesn't feel like you're about to gasp for air and collapse at the end of every year, but actually create something that's sustainable and supports other parts of our lives that are really important to us. Family, having kids, all that type of stuff.I think on the business side, it's like, and I think we've done this over the last several years, but how do we move from sprinting to running at a good pace and building something that feels sustainable over the course of the next chapter of our lives as our lives change. And that's been really important, and you mentioned this, but bringing, we brought four new partners into the business. Our head of production, our head of business operations, our managing director, and our head of talent partnerships all had been with us for five to seven years each. And we made them partners a couple of years ago.We've invested in our team in a way that we always try to take care of people, but we truly doubled down on that over the last several years so that people feel like they're working at a place that they can work at for many years and feel very taken care of and part of a community, et cetera.Chris Erwin:Quick question on partnership front. So when you elevate these individuals to partners, does that mean there's a compensation bump but is also a bigger voice at the table for bigger strategic decisions for the company? What is the value exchange for that?Zach Blume:They went from kind of executives to partners. I mean, they're always executives, and I think what a partnership means is they participate in the profitability of the company. They participate in an exit. If there is a future, another deal on the horizon, they would have a stake in that. And then they have visibility into all aspects of the business and a seat at the table for really important business decisions around the type of work we take on, the type of things we invest in, the vision that we lay out for the company, the priorities for the year or for the next few years, et cetera.So it's been incredible, and I think it was a big moment. It was always Nate, Kai, and I sitting in a room, staring at each other's faces and trying to figure things out. And to bring in Robyn, Emma, Elyse, and Brittani, they're all so incredibly smart and powerful in their own ways, and it's just made our decision-making much more thoughtful, multifaceted, strategic, and I think intelligent, that group of three became a group of seven. That's been a major milestone and moment for us.So that was a big part of things. And investing in our team and doubling down on the team's wellness and creating a pace of work that was sustainable, not working over Thanksgiving, all that type, taking long breaks, giving days, all sorts of steps we've taken over the last several years to make Portal A sustainable business entity over many years.So that's number one in terms of what this chapter looks like. And I think number two is we just want to make good shit. At the end of the day, when we put ourselves in the future and try to look back on what will feel most valuable about this whole experience, what we make because we are a creative company is at the top of the list. So investing in the quality of the work that we do, investing in projects that may not be the most profitable or they may even not be profitable at all, but that are important to us creatively experimenting in new content formats, longer form, feature-length type stuff, short film, all sorts of getting back to kind of our roots in some ways as experimental content producers and investing in the quality of the work that we're making either on the original side of the business or on the brand side of the business that has become kind of central to our whole vision and identity is just this relentless commitment to quality.Chris Erwin:I want to touch on that because when we were preparing for this interview, something that we spoke about was, yeah, your commitment to creative quality and craft. Sometimes that is undervalued, sometimes that feels like it's going against the grain, and like you said, Zach, maybe there's a near-term impact where these new IP concepts, they're not profitable immediately, but there's actually long-term value to it where adherence to that mission keeps the leadership and founding team galvanized and fulfilled. It also keeps your business exciting for new team members that you want to recruit, building towards future opportunity where there can be much more meaningful revenues to generate in the future.So that's hard to do when you face kind of the near-term headwinds of those decisions, but you got to be steadfast in that it's clearly worked for you guys for over 12 years, and I think that that's just an important reminder that this is a founding value of our company and that's what's going to continue to drive long term success for the next 10, 20 plus years.Zach Blume:Everything you just said, I would like you to come speak to our company, and we can all talk about it together. I mean, that's exactly where we are at. What we'll define the next five, 10, however many years of this adventure will be the quality of the work that we're making. I don't want to speak too soon, and I'm going to knock on wood, but I feel like we've cracked the code on how to run this business well and how to find good people, take care of our people, take care of ourselves, find our lane and operate really well in our lane. And what's going to define the next chapter is how good is the stuff we're making. Is it something we're proud of? And that's both from a kind of, almost like, a spiritual or existential level, but it does layer back to business because we believe what will differentiate us is the quality of the work that we're creating. And so it will lead to new opportunity and new horizons when we're making really good stuff.Chris Erwin:Last one or two questions before we get into rapid fire and we close out here is, are there any current projects that you're working on or things that you're thinking about that maybe are good signals to the listeners of the type of things that you're going to be doing more of going forward?Zach Blume:One really interesting one is completely different from a lot of the work that people may know us for, but my partner Nate is developing a feature documentary. We've done one feature-length documentary, we did it with YouTube original called State of Pride, all about the origins and the genesis of Pride festivals across the country. And it's a beautiful film called State of Pride. It's on YouTube. Nate did a really cool, together with Portal A, did a really cool 30-minute documentary in 2020 about the response from the Trump administration to the first year of COVID.So we've definitely played with longer-form documentary projects. This project is called Fault Lines, and it is a longer-formed feature documentary about housing in America and about the shortage of housing in America, which is driving up housing costs for everybody. Kind of like the deep backstory on where that all comes from.No brands associated with that project. It's going to be financed by foundations and private funders, but we're really excited about it, and it's that kind of getting back to telling interesting stories, experimenting with new formats. It's not going to be the core of our business for the next several years, but we are going to be investing in those types of projects where we can kind of make a name for ourselves in new spaces.And then, of course, we're doing all sorts of cool stuff with our brand partners like big, splashy campaigns that are coming out later this year that I shouldn't talk about yet, but doing a lot of work with Target and Google and we have long-standing partners at Lenovo, the computer maker and all sorts of cool branded stuff. We have original shows in the pipeline.So I think the business mix for us is branded content. Again, nothing that we make should ever feel like a commercial, and if it does, we've failed ourselves and our partners. So content that is made in partnership with brands feels like something you'd actually want to watch. That's one pillar. The second pillar is original series. We just released Level Up, which is a show on Snapchat starting Stephen Curry mentoring a new generation of athletes. So there's all sorts of series like that that we're working on.Then this new area, which is short films, documentary feature films that we're investing in as a loss leader, like truly a loss leader, but as a way to diversify the type of content we're making and invest in quality like I was just talking about.Chris Erwin:That's great. You guys are doing a lot. Last quick question before rapid fire, how would you succinctly describe how your leadership philosophy has evolved now, being, call it 12 years into the Portal A business?Zach Blume:When you're building something, especially for us, we started from zero. We didn't come from the space. We didn't have any relationships. It was completely homegrown and organic. When you're building something, it's like you're captaining a tiny little ship in very rocky waters, and it is survival in some ways. I mean, it's both like I'm just picturing someone on the deck of a little dinghy in the middle of the ocean, just like yelling and surviving and getting thrown all over the place, and you're just trying to survive and make it through the first few years. And I think that was in many ways what leadership, just getting through the choppy waters and trying to grow and survive, was what it looked like for many years in the early days of growing our company.I think now that we've made it through those choppy waters and kind of established ourselves and built something that has a foundation underneath it. I really focus on sustainability and vision. And so that means creating an environment where people can be fulfilled creatively in terms of the people that they work with in terms of the pace of the work, both for the team that works with us and also for us, for ourselves. So creating that kind of a rhythm that feels not like you're like a tiny boat in a gigantic ocean and just trying to survive, but that feels steady and sustainable and solid. So creating that kind of consistency and strength, and that's one side of it. And then, for many years, it was just eat what you killed. And that was so many years of growing the company.Now it's like, "Okay, who do we want to be and who are we and who do we want to be?" And I think I spend so much time thinking about that and then communicating that back to the team and then repeating it over and over and over and over again and giving people something that they can understand and hold onto and feel like they're working toward a common cause has become so much more important now than it was when we were just basically in survival mode. So I think, yeah, sustainability and vision have become the most important pieces.Chris Erwin:I love that. Very well said, Zach. All right, so last segment from me giving you a bit of kudos at the end of this interview. Look, a lot of the people that I interview on the show, I've known for years, if not decades or more. I've actually interviewed people that I've known for over 30 years on this show. I've really only gotten to know you over the past. I think like two to three months through a handful of conversations. But I will say some of the kudos is it feels like I've known you a lot longer than that. I think we have a really shared sensibility, and I think that that's a testament to in this space.What I really like about being at the intersection of digital and entertainment is that there's just some really good people in it. And I think that's not the same from a lot of other industries that I've worked in. And I think you really embody that spirit. I think you really care about your people. I think you really care about your clients and your team and your partners, and that's really valuable. And I can even sense that in what the audience isn't hearing in between these segments is I really just love that note, how you are like the rah-rah spirit for your team. You've even been that for me, talking me up about me as a podcast host and supporting our content work where I'm going through a bit of my own existential crisis with RockWater on, I can feel that very positive energy from you, and I think that makes you a very, very, very compelling leader.Lastly, just to reiterate one of the points I made earlier, you have this extreme focus on your core service and product and on your team and doing right by your client partners. And I think that is actually shows incredible strategic focus and vision versus some really complex framework for how Portal A is going to take over the entire digital entertainment ecosystem with 10 different business models. You guys have nailed your core, and it's given you so much opportunity for what I define as the very exciting junior and senior years that are going to come for you. So massive kudos to you and the team for what you've built exemplary, and I look forward to many more conversations in the future.Zach Blume:Thank you. It feels like you understand us, and I really appreciate that. So thank you for that.Chris Erwin:For sure. Easy to do. All right, so to the rapid-fire, I'm going to ask six questions and the rules or as follows, you'll provide short answers. Maybe just one sentence, maybe just one to two words. Do you understand the rules, Zach?Zach Blume:Yes, I do.Chris Erwin:Okay, cool. All right, first one, proudest life moment.Zach Blume:Birth of my daughter.Chris Erwin:What do you want to do less of in 2022?Zach Blume:Worrying about the state of our union?Chris Erwin:Okay, what do you want to do more of?Zach Blume:Making work that we are proud of and stands the test of time.Chris Erwin:One to two things drive your success?Zach Blume:Focus and commitment, and loyalty.Chris Erwin:Okay, last three here. Advice for media execs going into the second half of this year and 2023.Zach Blume:Brace yourselves. I mean, I don't want to fear monger or create an atmosphere of angst or anxiety, but I definitely can see that there are headwinds ahead and many of us have been through these periods before, and we can make it through, but it's definitely a time to focus on fundamentals and be aware of your costs and brace yourselves for what could be a choppy period.Chris Erwin:Yeah, well said. Any future startup ambitions?Zach Blume:Not beyond what we're doing. I mean, if there's ever sunset to Portal A, I would love to get involved again in the political world. And we've done a lot of political work over the years through Portal A but at the moment, continuing to double down on what we're building.Chris Erwin:Got it. The easy final one for you. How can people get in contact with you?Zach Blume:I don't know, old school email, I mean, really old school, I guess, would be a landline, but email Zach, Z-A-C-H@portal-a.com, or you can find me on LinkedIn, but that sounds really lame, so just send me an email.Chris Erwin:Okay. I think LinkedIn is great.Zach Blume:No, I love Linkedin, but I just don't want to be the guy hawking his LinkedIn profile.Chris Erwin:Got it. All right, Zach, that's it. Thanks for being on the Come Up podcast.Zach Blume:It's been a pleasure, Chris. It's a great service to the digital media, community and world and really appreciated being here.Chris Erwin:All right, quick heads up that our company has a new service offering. We just introduced RockWater Plus, which is for companies who want an ongoing consulting partner at a low monthly retainer, yet also need a partner who can flex up for bigger projects when they arise. So who is this for? Well, three main stakeholders. One, operators who seek growth and better run operations. Two, investors who need help with custom industry research and diligence. And three, leadership who wants a bolt-on strategy team and thought partner.So what is included with RockWater Plus? We do weekly calls to review KPIs or any ad hoc operational needs. We create KPI dashboards to do monthly performanc
Officially “Command Line Week” starts at 8am (Eastern) on Wednesday.But I'm just too excited. So I recorded the podcast episode and am posting it about 10 hours early. Let's do this!Here is a quick outline of the schedule of events (all times Eastern):* Wednesday, Oct 12 @ 8am — Command Line Week kickoff podcast* All Week — The Community posting all manner of Command Line goodies at Lunduke.Locals.com* Saturday, Oct 15 @ 11am — Video Hangout for Founding Members and Lifetime Subscribers* Saturday, Oct 15 @ 12pm — Text Chat for all subscribers over on Lunduke.Locals.com* Wednesday, Oct 19 @ 8am — Wrap-up podcastPlus: Over the course of the week, I'll be posting articles related to the Command Line (Linux Shells, etc.) on The Lunduke Journal — like the recent “The History of the First Computer Shell”.And don't miss Gabe's Awesome List of TUI Software! It's a fantastic place to start on your Command Line journey!Make sure you have a Lunduke.Locals.com account!This is key to unlocking the full enjoyment of Command Line Week!While Substack is absolutely amazing, Locals provides the community features we need to fully enjoy the awesomeness of something like this — including the ability for everyone to make top-level posts, live chats, and more. It simply is not possible entirely via Substack.To make getting a Locals account easier for folks, I'm going to have a very specific sale… that is only available if you take advantage of it through Lunduke.Locals.com.I know. I know. I said I wasn't going to have any more sales this year. But I am so excited about Command Line Week — I don't want anyone to miss out! Plus… I'm the boss. I can change my mind if I want to. ;)How to take advantage of this dealRepeat: This sale is only available if you create an account on Lunduke.Locals.com. The whole point is to bring more of you over to Locals to enjoy the good times! However, both of these options also come with full access on Substack as well! Best of both worlds!* Go to Lunduke.Locals.com/Subscription.* Choose “Card” and “Annual”.* Enter the amount of the subscription you want (choose from the options below).* Lunduke will follow up with you to make sure you have full access to both Substack and Locals. (This usually only takes a couple hours.)Founding Member Subscription - Cost: $125 / Year $75 / YearBenefits: Everything from the Standard Subscription, plus:* A monthly video hangout with Lunduke & other Founding Members* Full access to both Lunduke.Locals.com and Lunduke.Substack.com* Founding Member Email Newsletter* Personalized Audio MessagesLifetime Subscription - Cost $350 (one time) $200 (one time)Benefits: Everything from the Founding Member Subscription:* For life… pay once, and and you get all of the perks… for as long as The Lunduke Journal exists. Which, considering Lunduke has been publishing articles and podcasts for over 15 years, is likely to be a good, long time.I highly recommend the Lifetime Subscription. It is just such a good deal.Note: This deal cannot be combined with the “Upgrade System of Awesomeness” (where you can apply your current subscription towards an upgraded one. It's already too good of a deal. Stacking them would just be… insane. :) This is a public episode. If you'd like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit lunduke.substack.com/subscribe
Welcome to episode 3 of Watching the Underground! The internet's only podcast binging, recapping and annotating AwesomenessTV's The Underground. Your hosts are the boys of This is Awesome? - Joaquin, Frank and Chuck. In this episode we are discussing The Underground episodes 10-13. Covering the final episodes of the season, we watch three blow off matches: a raucous triple threat, a traditional tag match, and a wild tornado ladder match for control of The Underground! Find every episode of The Underground HERE to follow along.
Nancy Cooper, First Nation Communities READ coordinator is here to tell us all about the program, this year's 2022/2023 selected titles and how you can learn more and get involved. Links from the episode: First Nation Communities READ website Goodminds.com First Nations Public Library Week website FNPLW Poster Follow @FNCReads Follow Michelle @citybrarian
Matt is an Army vet that still serves as a reservist. He loves Phantom of the Opera and filming airsoft unboxing videos.He is unboxing an Evike Box of Awesomeness in this video!Follow on IG and YThttps://www.instagram.com/phantomoftheairsoft/https://www.youtube.com/c/PhantomOfTheAirsoft/videosSupport the show
Chrissi is a native of Virginia, and Real Estate Professional since 2007, Chrissi is a natural leader with a passion for both people, and the Northern Virginia region. Whether you're a professional looking to grow your career or a potential client, you'll find Chrissi a remarkable non-competing manager balancing her knowledge of Real Estate compliance, marketing, and negotiations with enthusiasm, inspiration, and joy. Chrissi is committed, along with Coldwell Banker Realty, to nurture an exceptional life for her staff and agents by embracing the company's CORE 4 VALUES: Production Power, Coaching to Confidence, Culture of Awesomeness, Wealth Builder. With Chrissi leading the way, the Prince William Parkway office enjoys a culture which thrives and grows in respect, morale, success, and a bit of fun. Friends and colleagues alike say she remains positive in the most trying of circumstances. Her grit and love of life make her a force in both family and career. On a personal level, she loves to get her hands dirty gardening, get exercise by hiking trails and battlefields, scour thrift shops and antique stores for quirky stuff, write poetry and short stories, and enjoy reading books in the tub with a glass of champagne. She also loves to listen to 80's music, sing karaoke, dance like no one is watching, and party like it's 1999.
Today's devotional offers insight into the power of grace to transform both our past and future. If you would like more insight into today's devotional topic, listen to Dr. Michael Youssef's sermon series The Awesomeness of God's Grace: LISTEN NOWShare the peace of Christ with friends and family with Dr. Youssef's pocket-sized book Finding True Peace. Don't miss Dr. Michael Youssef's new book, Is the End Near?: What Jesus Told Us About the Last Days. This eye-opening work will answer your questions about end-times issues by examining statements that Jesus Himself made about what was and is to come. You will be encouraged as you anticipate Christ's return. Secure your copy today!
Friday's final hour of The Matt McClearin Show began with #FridayTnA, your Tweets/Texts & Matt's Answers like what 3 breweries would Matt move here to Birmingham and who could be Alabama's next OC. 23:21 - Matt lays out the Saturday slate of games. 35:09 - Just The Sip! Matt, Conrad, and SaBerre enjoy some local & regional craft beer, thanks to The Beer Hog in Pelham. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Danielle is here! Danielle is my Director of Awesomeness and she is an absolute goddess. In this conversations, she shares a bunch of manifestation stories for the first time. We talk about being an active manifestor (Danielle) vs. a passive manifestor (Kelsey) and dive into some real talk about specific (Danielle) vs. non-specific manifesting (Kelsey). We cover everything from how Danielle manifested us working together and how easy and magical life can be when you set that as your intention and then get out of the way. This is a fun, magical episode with one of my favorite people. Listen up and take notes!!!Learn more about working with Kelsey here.Check out the shop here.Get your free Human Design chart here.Get a free love note for your Human Design energy type here.
Tony Acosta is a top-performing Real Estate Broker, author, trainer, speaker, and podcaster! He is the host of The #AskTony Show podcast and Director of the Utah Podcast Coalition. In this episode he introduces us to his new Silver Dollar Express program designed to help you reach your business goals a whole lot quicker. Strap-in and hold on for the ride with this dynamic business leader. Learn more at OnePercentListsWasatchFront.com
James Roth is not only one of Utah's Top Producing Realtors, he is also the longest running board member for the Honoring Heroes Foundation. We discuss the importance of giving back and the impact that we can have when we do so. We also discuss what keeps him driven to stay at the top of his game and what awesomeness means to him. Enjoy! Learn more at HonoringHeoroesFoundation.org or OnTheMarketUtah.com
A monologue inspired by the my fading awe at Gralha, our nearest coastline in Portugal (-:QUESTION: How can we stay open to the miracle of being alive without being overwhelmed by the sheer awesomeness of it all?!
Thank you for joining me friends. I have a new journal-based episode revolving around a lot of really cool things I was a part of this week. I love you all :-). Thanks for listening! I will see you on Monday. Have a great weekend!
Hey guys here's all the links you will need!—————————————————-Go visit Linktree: https://linktr.ee/Hoodlums_Gun_Bench ———————————————————————— ⬇️⬇️⬇️ Check out KE Arms: http://www.kearms.com/defend-2A-Patch.aspx go visit my friend @lineonegear Use code: HOODLUM to save 10% https://www.lineonegear.com/ Also now available are slings! He has ear pro wraps, Ammo bags, Belts all 100% US made and made by him. He is making great gear at a fantastic price. Go give him a shout! Links for others in the comments. Content not for children.
Join Drew, Mike, and Randy as they discuss macOS Ventura Beta performance, the iPad Pro's future hardware potential, and Apple's long term strategy with services!Drew:https://twitter.com/TailosiveTechMike:https://twitter.com/GamerikeRandy:https://twitter.com/RandyVazquezPublished: 8-6-2022, Recorded: 8-5-2022© Tailosive Podcasts 2022 | All Rights Reserved
This interview features Mike Grisko, CFO and Co-Founder of Atmosphere. We discuss running an NCAA tourney at age 7, getting laid off during the Great Financial crisis, almost selling the Chive to Playboy, the challenge with professional politeness in UK work culture, raising $150 million in growth capital and quadrupling the team in 5 years, and what he looks forward to next.Subscribe to our newsletter. We explore the intersection of media, technology, and commerce: sign-up linkLearn more about our market research and executive advisory: RockWater websiteFollow us on LinkedIn: RockWater LinkedInEmail us: firstname.lastname@example.orgInterview TranscriptThe interview was lightly edited for clarity.Chris Erwin:Hi, I'm Chris Erwin. Welcome to The Come Up. A podcast that interviews entrepreneurs and leaders.Mike Grisko:We have this concept internally, like giving up your Legos. Your job description changes every three to six months when you're going through rapid growth. 18 months ago, we were less than 100 people. Yeah, today we're close to 450 employees just at Atmosphere. And so that requires you to change your roles. Some of the things that I was doing back in 2018, 19, 20, it's just not scalable at that level. And so being able to hire great people, reassign tasks and responsibilities is absolutely critical.Chris Erwin:This week's episode features Mike Grisko, co-founder and CFO of Atmosphere. So Mike was born in the south side of Chicago and was the oldest of five siblings. He then studied at University of Illinois and his early career started in finance and consulting, including Pricewaterhouse Coopers in London and Moelis & Company in Chicago. While at Moelis, he met the founders of The Chive and was recruited for his first C-suite role as CFO. Soon after relocating to Austin, Mike partnered up with The Chive's leadership team to co-found Atmosphere, where he is helping to grow and scale the leading streaming TV service for businesses offering free audio optional TV. Some highlights of our chat include running an NCAA 20 at age seven, getting laid off during the great financial crisis, almost selling The Chive to Playboy, the challenge with professional politeness in UK work culture, raising 150 million in growth capital and quadrupling the team in five years, and what he looks forward to next. All right, let's get to it.Chris Erwin:Mike, thanks for being on the podcast.Mike Grisko:Yes, absolutely. It's a pleasure to join you on The Come Up. Really looking forward to getting into it.Chris Erwin:There's a lot of stories to tell here. As always, we're going to rewind a bit and we're going to talk about where you grew up and your childhood. So I think you're a Midwest kid. Tell us about that.Mike Grisko:I am a Midwest kid. Grew up on the south side of Chicago. 103rd and Pulaski for any local Chicago listeners. Was the oldest five kids. My mother was a ER nurse. My dad worked in engineering sales. It was a great spot to grow up. It was very much a blue collar neighborhood. We lived right across the street from Tally's Corner, which was famous for just so many cops and firefighters that had to live within the city limits. My mom was one of seven. My dad, one of four. And everybody lived within a couple miles of each other. So just cousins everywhere. So yeah, it's a fun neighborhood to grow up in. I don't know what your childhood was like, Chris, but it was very Stranger Things for us. You just go on your bike, you'd be gone all day. You just got to be back before the street lights came on.Chris Erwin:Oh, I hear you. I was born in '82, so I'm an '80s, '90s kid. And in the suburbs I was born Rumson, New Jersey, an hour outside the city. And it was about like, you get on your bike and you just travel all around the county and you get into trouble, you find dirt jumps, you go meet up with your friends late night. I remember taking the bikes out at 3:00 AM during sleepovers. It was the best.Mike Grisko:It was the best. Was Chicagoan through and through before. Now residing in Austin, Texas.Chris Erwin:So, okay. Being the oldest... I have two brothers, I have a twin and then a younger brother who's six years younger. And so you're the oldest of five. What was your role? Did you have a patriarch type role amongst the brotherhood?Mike Grisko:Absolutely. Especially my dad traveled quite a bit for work. It was definitely more of a patriarchal role took on but still. We were just very tight knit crew. Still are.Chris Erwin:Getting into middle school and high school. What were some of your passions back then? What did you like to do?Mike Grisko:We were always playing sports. You had the neighborhood crew. You're playing fast pitch against a parking lot wall. In addition to doing sports, it was also a bit of a nerd. Constantly reading, just super competitive in school. It was less about the learning, it was more just getting better marks than anybody who was around me. But yeah, that stuck with me for quite a while.Chris Erwin:Got it. Well, look today, you're the CFO and co-founder of Atmosphere and you've also had a CFO role at Chive. So were you big into the quant side and into mathematics and other science and other similar subject areas?Mike Grisko:Yeah, there's a bit of that. And then I've just always been incredibly fascinated by business and markets. Grew up in the '80s and when I was a... I think it was six or seven, my uncle started calling me Gordon Gekko. I think because I was the only-Chris Erwin:It's a great nickname.Mike Grisko:I know. I think it's because I was like the only seven year old who was running an NCAA tournament and I was doing betting spreads every NFL Sunday going down the line. Yeah. So it definitely makes sense, the career path that I chose, doing finance, doing the investment banking thing and choosing this direction.Chris Erwin:Kind of makes sense because you end up going for undergrad to the University of Illinois where you focus on finance and accountancy. So when you went to school, what were you thinking that you were going to do afterwards?Mike Grisko:When I got down there I wasn't really sure. It wasn't until I actually did study abroad program, which was in Melbourne Australia, which was some of the best months of my life. It was just absolutely incredible. Yeah, the fact that my best friend and I both got full scholarships to go down there was just such a deal. I mean, we got accepted. We just could not believe that they took both our applications.Chris Erwin:What did you get into? Did you do any surfing while you were out there?Mike Grisko:Did do some surfing, played Aussie rules football. We tried to get stuck into everything, just being able to travel and just the people and just such a fun environment. But that's really when I took a step back and started looking at like, "Okay, when I get back, I got to figure out an internship." And that's when chatting with a bunch of folks, really started to lean towards trying to get on an investment banking track. And so it's amazing. Sometimes you do really need to take a huge step away to start to piece that all together and figure it out. Because I really had no clue probably up until then.Chris Erwin:It's funny. It's almost a bit of the reverse, but it reflects your personality and your interests. Typical consultants or Fortune 500 executives or bankers will go on a sabbatical and say, "I don't want to be in these industries anymore. I'm going to go do something different." But you go to Australia, have the time of your life and you're like, "I need to go into hardcore finance. That's the path." I went in a very similar direction. I was an investment banker right out of undergrad too. All right. So that becomes your focus. What's your first internship or your first role in school?Mike Grisko:So I did an internship for Wells Fargo. Got to see the lending side, their corporate lending group, so did a summer of shadowing the analyst doing underwriting. And it was great. This is in the high times of banking. This was in '07. So the summer of '07, everything's riding high. I remember winning the internship competition. So they flew me out to San Francisco with my brother just for first prize for winning this thing.Chris Erwin:He was your plus one? You're like, "I'm going to bring my bro."Mike Grisko:Yeah. Yeah. And it was a very good learning ground, but I still... There's a few guys who I was friends with at Illinois who had gotten into the investment banking side. And so I decided to double down and just... Thanks Wells Fargo, but I really wanted to take a dive into the IB side and learn how to do M&A and capital raise and the rest. I'm sure probably similar sort of path as you. Must have been at least 20 to 30 different places I was submitting applications doing interviews with. Just running through the whole process.Chris Erwin:Yeah, it's a very intense process. But it's funny. Hearing from the people that have interviewed on the podcast, I think back to Michael Cohen at the Whistle, which was acquired by Eleven Sports. He started out as a credit analyst at Wells Fargo in Atlanta, before he went into do investment banking. And we actually worked at the same firm and I started out as a credit analyst at Bank of New York, which is now BNY Mellon. And you, you now run a free ad supported streaming platform for businesses. You started as a corporate credit analyst and then went to investment banking. If you're going to do finance and media, that feels like the path.Mike Grisko:Yeah. It's got to be. It's tried and true then. You got three examples right there.Chris Erwin:So then, okay, you graduate and then you go full time into Lincoln Financial. And you're an analyst there for about a year. What were those early years like?Mike Grisko:It's a mid-market investment bank, heavy Chicago presence. It was a good shock to the system going from your university environment to full corporate world and pretty intensive as I'm sure you remember from your banking days. So I had started in August of 2008 and so I think it was six to eight weeks before Lehman went under. Things looked like they were riding high and then all of a sudden... I just remember being very new, but then also seeing the senior bankers just going ghost white as deals are just being paused or put on hold or it went from they were closing close to a deal a day, M&A or a debt advisory deal, and then it just completely dries up.Mike Grisko:The first deal I ever did, it was automotive wire harness business. I was being spun out of Alcoa. And it was just bleeding money. Went from, if you remember, with all the automotive ODMs just shuttering production, they were like the fifth player in that industry. Basically overnight, they went to negative 80 million [inaudible 00:09:46] and trying to find a partner for that. That was great learning ground. But I ended up getting laid off into that second wave of layoffs they did in March 2009.Chris Erwin:Laid off in March of 2009 after the debt crisis hit. Yeah. I have some stories of what happened at my bank and I'm curious to hear yours. So yeah. What happened to you and what was going through your head?Mike Grisko:It's a big shock to the system. It's a kick in the teeth. It did a couple things. It really hardened me to, "All right, this is the actual professional and corporate world. Nobody's spots guaranteed." And I think it even that much more determined and more resolved to like, "Hey, whatever is next. I know I'm going to have to really outwork everybody else around me."Chris Erwin:I hear you. I joined the workforce in 2005. I was at my investment bank when the 2008 credit crisis hit. And I was still a young professional. And I felt like, "Oh, I'm insulated. This is a tough time for everyone. But I'm young. The leadership's going to take care of all of us." And I remember getting called into the manager's office one day. Everyone at the company's salary was cut drastically.Chris Erwin:And I was like, "Whoa." I felt the impact personally, in a very meaningful way in that day. And I was like, "All right, this is legit. This is the real deal." And I had to make changes to my lifestyle. I actually negotiated down my rent from my apartment in New York City, down 25%. Something I'm actually still very proud of. I built a nice spreadsheet defending that. But it does gut check you and it questions, "Okay. Is there a job for me here over the next year or two? Is my career derailed?" Is my whole future grand plan that I had sorted out in undergrad have to be completely reset?" But I think it's helpful for it to build resilience, right?Mike Grisko:100%. I thought for sure coming out of school, it was, "Hey, do two years to three years as an analyst. Hop over to PE. Maybe go get an MBA. Just follow the very traditional path." But I think that moment really drove me in a very different direction.Chris Erwin:Tell us about that new direction, because I think you end up going to Pricewaterhouse Coopers in Chicago for a few years before you end up at Moelis.Mike Grisko:In that period after getting laid off March '09, basically bottom tick the market. It was slim pickings out there for jobs. I even looked into potentially doing a program to get into medical school and doing a complete 180, picking up some undergrad science credits so I can apply to med school.Mike Grisko:But then by time, two or three months in, I was starting to get some good looks. And I had an analyst role on a corp dev team in Chicago, and then also got offered a position as an analyst at PWC in their corporate finance group, which they were just restarting. And so they had basically shuttered their investment banking practice, but then were bringing it back. And so I was the first analyst they hired in the US and I thought "Here's an opportunity to get it back on track." And a lot of corporate carve outs, cross border M&A was their big MO and huge selling point for me was they committed that, "Hey, you do a couple years here and hopefully we can get you over to London or one of our other international offices to do a two year program," which I ended up doing in 2011.Chris Erwin:So you went to London in 2011 for two years working for PWC?Mike Grisko:Yeah. It was fantastic. I mean the great, great mid-market M&A group over there. It was one of the coolest experiences of my professional career. Just being able to live and get fully immersed in a culture, especially in a professional culture. Anybody who ever has the opportunity, I highly, highly recommend. Because it really just does stretch you and challenge you in different ways. You knew how to do your job, but it's almost like the gravity's just off a bit.Chris Erwin:Okay. I like that. I've never heard that description, but I'm into it.Mike Grisko:All new faces, all new companies, all new lingo, trying to pick that up and then still trying to understand folks who have Manchester accents.Chris Erwin:What was one of the biggest cultural differences in doing business over there that you learned?Mike Grisko:I'd say the biggest one, you don't realize, there's just a professional politeness in the UK. So both with your superior is just not being fully direct with you in feedback. In addition to when you would be delivering direct feedback to analysts. They were offtaken. You might not be getting the full picture. We tend to be a little bit more direct and blunt here in the US than the Brits are.Chris Erwin:Something I think about is when I studied abroad in Spain, I met a guy named Tim Slee, who co-founded an ad agency with Steven Murphy. Shout outs to these guys. They're still very close friends of mine too today. And they would talk about their professional work culture was every day at 5:30 PM, they're hitting the bars. And they are buying rounds for all their clients and all their team. And they're like, "That's just how business is done over here. You drink a lot of pints and that gets revenue in the door." And I was like, "That's a lot to sign up for after a full day." I remember as a banker, I was just running spreadsheets till midnight.Mike Grisko:I don't know how you could socialize or network or do a professional career if you don't drink over there. I definitely learned how to go to the pub for a pint or two, and then be able to go back to the desk and start banging things out in the evening. It was just an incredible experience. My wife and I, we got engaged over during that two year stint.Chris Erwin:You brought your girlfriend who became your fiance on that trip. Okay, got it.Mike Grisko:Yes. That's a story for a different podcast. Having the conversation with her dad about her quitting her job and moving over with me.Chris Erwin:You're like, "I'm choosing her instead of my brother this time. Now I'm going to take my girlfriend on this trip."Mike Grisko:Yeah. And we ended up getting engaged shortly into our trip over there. But in two years, I think we visited close to 45 different cities. We were just so good about travel. It was a lot easier, didn't have kids then, to be very mobile on the weekends. And the Brits are great about taking time off.Chris Erwin:All of Europe is really good at it.Mike Grisko:When they said four weeks of vacation and they're like, "We expect you to use it." I'm like, "Absolutely will."Chris Erwin:Yeah. Maybe you bring that back to the Atmosphere culture. All right. So look, you spend around five years there. And then before we talk about your rise up at Chive Media Group and Atmosphere, you were at Moelis & Co for around three years. Tell us about your work there.Mike Grisko:I was starting to get to the stage I'd done enough smaller middle market deals. Enough corporate divestiture work. Really wanted to start seeing some more higher level capital markets and some larger transactions. And so I started shopping around at some different banks. Opportunity came up at Moelis and I jumped on it. Everything I was looking for just to gain from an experience level, next level on debt and equity capital raise to deals to getting to work on my first restructuring bankruptcy work to working on hostile defense deal with Ken Moelis.Mike Grisko:There was a pretty cool experience that really did give that next level of professional training. And I think that's the one thing like I started to realize being in investment banking, the true value of the relationships that you build, and just being able to sit in the room as well. In the room with the exact team observing and or advising on the actions to take and some of the biggest transactions or moves that they're going to be making. It's a great ground to just really absorb a ton.Mike Grisko:So in addition to like the financial training, the Excel sheets, and everything that comes with deals and running process, the network that I was able to build, just what I was able to observe and absorb, I think for some very talented professionals, both within the bank, but then the executives I got to work with, incredibly valuable. You just cannot replace that and the level of reps that you get in the career.Chris Erwin:I very much agree with that. You think about the 10,000 hours thing and the amount of time I spent creating investor decks and confidential information memorandums, AKA CIMS. And all the financial models, the merger models, the LBO dilution analysis, et cetera, the most rewarding experiences were when we were in meetings or had conference calls with private equity owners or family offices that own these cable, media, and telecom companies. And they're thinking about how do we drive more enterprise value?Chris Erwin:Do we spin this off? Do we go acquire these other companies and do a roll up scenario where there are synergies and thinking about, we have this network of management teams, who do we want to place based on the strategy that we have here? How are we going to finance with debt or equity or some other more alternative vehicles and just to hear the decision making in the rooms. And it was like, where are these men and women? Where are they being slow and calculated? Then where are they trusting their gut and moving really quickly? Just to be a fly in the wall was so valuable for my career.Chris Erwin:And I take a lot of that into the work that I did at Big Frame and Awesomeness in thinking about when Big Frame made a decision to sell itself and the work and the advice that we give our clients now. And often days, I wish I still had access to some of those calls every week. I get it through my client work, but just to be a sponge and just be able to just listen as a mid 20 year old. So valuable.Mike Grisko:Incredibly valuable. Yeah. That's well said, Chris. That's the big thing. And I have so much appreciation for it now. Just having seen both working alongside a lot of incredibly talented professionals in addition to some ones that were making bad decisions.Chris Erwin:Can we steer them the right way? TBD.Mike Grisko:But honestly, yeah. You're able to just listen, observe. You're just kind of building that muscle memory for when things are coming fast, as they really have over the last couple years, in my current role as an operator, it helps you just really break things down into first principles and what are we really trying to drive towards? It's helped make my decision making very formulaic. I think that's incredibly valuable. I like to say that... I'm sure we'll talk about Atmosphere in a second, but operating, whether it's startup, growth company, et cetera. It is a wicked learning environment. The variables are always changing. The dynamics are always changing. And so you're constantly going to be seeing new things. And so the ability to read, react, and adjust is super critical, a really valuable skill set that banking taught me.Chris Erwin:Well, let's talk about that transition, Mike. So your role as an advisor, as consultant, as a banker, now you make a decision, as they say, you go to the line. You go to one of the portfolio companies. So in 2017 you transitioned to Chive Media Group. How did that come to be?Mike Grisko:Well, it's twofold. I go back to the point on network and I got an opportunity to... One of the deals I worked on at Moelis back in 2014, 2015 was advising Chive Media Group. John and Leo Resig co-founders of The Chive back in 2008, starting in 2012, 2013, they really started to catch fire. I mean, it was a true social movement. You had folks wearing Bill Murray t-shirts and Keep Calm and Chive On. Folks wearing the shirts everywhere. So they brought Moelis in to take a look at strategic alternatives. And so over an 11 month period, we looked at everything from buying up smaller competitors to doing [inaudible 00:20:56] recap, to even potentially selling.Mike Grisko:And so we actually got pretty far down the path with Playboy, but Leo and John couldn't get comfortable with the deal and the management team that was there at the time. They decided to pull out. And so that was in mid 2015, but stayed in touch with both Leo and John. And when the prior CFO, who was part of the founding team was looking to move on in 2017, Leo called me up and I jumped at the opportunity. So that's some of the backstory just on how I came across the opportunity. Leo tells me now, I think I was the only person he reached out to.Chris Erwin:He was like, "I think I like this guy, Mike, he was on our deal team. Let's take a bet on him."Mike Grisko:It's very tight interview process, but it goes back to the point that building network from that seed in banking is just incredibly valuable. That wasn't the first time that I was offered a job by a client. You get so close to your clients when you're working alongside them. But this is the one I jumped at. The biggest thing is if you know Leo and John, they're just real salt to the earth humans. And that meant a lot to me. To be leaving banking into something that was a lot more unknown.Mike Grisko:Yeah. I knew whatever happened with the business, they were going to do the right thing by myself and my family. And I think that was the most critical thing I was looking for is I really wanted to jump into an operational role. I'd spent a little over nine years advising CFOs. There was some that I had incredible respect for. There was some I thought I could do that job better. The opportunity to jump right into this was just too good to pass up. And then there was the personal side of this, which at the time we were making this decision, I had a 11 month old son and then my wife was pregnant with our daughter.Chris Erwin:Oh, wow.Mike Grisko:Yeah. So the ability to go into something that had a little bit more flexibility or control over your hours was big for me.Chris Erwin:You were moving too. Because you were moving to Austin from Chicago.Mike Grisko:Yeah. The full go. And I think it's that personal relationship with John and Leo, that we're two feet in. Sold a place in Chicago and moved down to Austin, away from family again.Chris Erwin:Your 30 cousins and brothers.Mike Grisko:Right. Yeah. And rest is history.Chris Erwin:Hey listeners, this is Chris Erwin, your host of The Come Up. I have a quick ask for you. If you dig what we're putting down, if you like the show, if you like our guests, it would really mean a lot if you can give us a rating wherever you listen to our show. It helps other people discover our work. And it also really supports what we do here. All right, that's it everybody. Let's get back to the interview.Chris Erwin:You make the transition. And I hear you on the point of it's all about relationships. I think I was having a call the other day with Jason Rapp from Whisper Advisors who I've just gotten to know. And he had a note that I really liked. He said, "Companies are not sold, they're bought." And I think the implication there is it's about there being a clear strategic fit, but also this notion of there's relationships developed with strategic and commercial partners over time, and more often than not an investment or an acquisition is made from two companies who have many data points, a trend line of building a rapport and a relationship. And I think that also speaks to how executive hirings and placements, particularly at the C-suite level are done. You weren't out of the blue, it was long term relationship building where Leo and John had been exposed to your work. So I think that's important for our listeners to just be mindful of. We always say that. Say start planting the seeds now.Mike Grisko:I think that has been incredibly important. Those relationships and the relationships that I quickly developed with the other C-suite members at The Chive who are now at Atmosphere. You want to be working with good people. It is just so difficult to get a startup business into a true growth path and on a true path to success. Being able to do that with folks that you trust and truly enjoy working with is so critical. It starts at the top. If you want your entire company growing the [inaudible 00:25:02] in the same direction, it really does start with having a cohesive leadership group.Chris Erwin:So let's talk about when you show up, what are you guys working on? What are the goals in 2017, 2018, fast forward a few years, where do you guys get to? And that's going to set up the story for how Atmosphere was incubated, but take us back to that.Mike Grisko:I walked in at a pretty critical time for the company. There was a lot of different initiatives that Chive Media Group was chasing. It became pretty apparent quickly that we couldn't do all of them. The business needed an overall guiding direction and overarching focus. And so my first three months on the job, Leo and John asked me to, "Hey, just give us your full assessment as an outsider." And spent just a ton of time on a listening tour, diving into data. Became pretty clear that we were sitting on something incredibly powerful with Chive TV, which at the time was maybe in a little over 1000 locations and had six or seven dedicated employees to that product line. We knew that we had something incredibly powerful.Mike Grisko:We thought we had something incredibly powerful with that business, but we also had just many other initiatives, everything from original content creation with Chive Studios to some large initiatives, both on the digital ad sales side to a lot of different facets that they were chasing on the e-commerce side. So everything was set up for big strategic meeting in December of 2017. Myself, John, Leo, Eric Spielman, our chief strategy officer, and Alen Durbuzovic, our CTO. And we made some very critical decisions to really lay out, "Hey, here's our vision for the next three years." It included shuttering some business lines, re-orging some groups. All on the guise of trying to take the Chive TV product line and turn it into a real business.Chris Erwin:You start and pretty soon after you start, you're making some very big decisions at the company, contributing to that to allow you guys to focus on where you think the biggest win is. Atmosphere, I think technically founded in 2018, but Chive TV, you guys were working on this probably well before that, is that right?Mike Grisko:Yeah. So Chive TV was the original proof of concept. It was started in late 2014, early 2015 as an audience extension play. As the landscape got more and more competitive competing for eyeballs with Instagram, Facebook, and every other platform, Roku opened up their marketplace for content companies to build apps. And so they decided that technological opening allowed them to build a streaming TV app. And then they also were able to leverage the strong community on The Chive to help get distribution because the content programming, they realized quickly like, "Yeah, this is good for in-home, but this actually works incredibly well in bars and restaurants." And so that was the initial, "Hey, can we build an app? Can we distribute it? Can we actually make this work?" And that's where in the early days, I mean, they're a lot of learnings the guys talk about.Mike Grisko:And so it really teed up into 2018 where we had to go from, "Hey, this is a product with potential. How can we actually turn this into a real business?" That was the big mission of 2018 to see how we could really craft the story around Atmosphere as a platform. So Atmosphere, as it exists today, streaming TV platform for businesses. Over 50 different audio optional channels. We like to say we have a channel for every type of venue, whether you're a pediatric office or gym or a bar restaurant, we got a channel that's programmed for you. Everything from Chive TV, which is now a channel fully owned by Atmosphere to we have a Happy TV channel. We have Paws TV with cute puppies and kittens. We have partner channels such as America's Funnies Home Videos, Red Bull TV, and Disney's X Games. So we have quite a few.Chris Erwin:Mike, you have this content network, you have all these different channels that cater to different offices, different business environments, et cetera. And you make a decision as a company that it's like, "All right, foot on the gas. This is not just going to be an exciting new growth initiative out of Chive. This is its own standalone business that will probably require a separate growth plan, separate capitalization, and more." So when you guys convene, you, Spielman, the Resigs, and whoever else, what decisions do you make to really amplify the opportunity here?Mike Grisko:You summed it up pretty well from you, Chris. It really came down to this business has the ability to be a platform and like an N of 1 platform, the actual network that can tape over this niche of streaming TV for business. That's a big ambitious plan. So obviously would require risk capital to fund it if we really wanted to chase the velocity that we thought was there. It couldn't continue to be self-funded by The Chive and really drive to where it needed to be.Mike Grisko:Putting together that plan, and it was complications. Spinning the business off all of the shared services that were going to be required to spin it off. The conflict of interest was a big issue for VCs who were concerned if they threw millions of dollars into this new Atmosphere, entity in business, if it wasn't going well, would the entire founding team just turn around and go back to working at Chive Media Group and say, "Sorry, unfortunately, that didn't work out." It was a tough one to sell through. And if you remember in 2018, nobody wanted to touch ad supported startup businesses. Everyone was focused on subscription.Chris Erwin:Oh, how the world has changed. Just think of Netflix launching an advertising platform.Mike Grisko:Exactly. There was several times we thought about pivoting and driving resources hard into venues paying subscriptions. But luckily we stuck with the plan because we saw how much leverage there was in advertising to this massive underserved market.Chris Erwin:All right. So when you think about there's the big, exciting stuff to do, which is all right, what's the new growth plan who we hiring for this go raise venture capital, then there's all the administrative stuff of... All right. Yeah. Like you said, allocating shared services, who works on what, how do we communicate that, how do we set up a dedicated legal entity and put the right resources into that? All these little things that you as a CFO probably had to take care of.Mike Grisko:Yeah. And this is also where you and I met. As I'm pulling a lot of this stuff together with the group and bringing on lawyers, getting advisors all set, you and I got connected through Jason Anderson and you guys did an engagement for us both to... Well, number one, be that initial test run before we hit the market just on materials and the story, the model, just the entire thing, which was incredibly helpful and just help us. Like most VC fundraising rounds, it really comes down to the product, the team, and the TAM. And so helping us to find that overall opportunity in isolating our unit economics. There was a lot there because again, it wasn't just another enterprise SAS software business that was easy to digest and easy for VCs to give seed/Series A funding.Chris Erwin:I will say thank you to Jason Anderson for that intro. And it was a delight to meet you and Eric nearly five years ago now and have gotten to know the Resigs a little bit. But really, yeah, Mike, you're the first point of contact. I remember working arm in arm with you on some of this stuff. I have an image in my head of one of the financial runway slides of "Here's the traction for what we did last year," which I don't even know if it broke a million. "Here's our five year forecast," which was maybe at the low tens of millions. And the numbers that you guys are putting up on the board today are much bigger than that.Chris Erwin:But you guys were very hopeful, very optimistic. You saw a need in the market, but we also could sense that it wasn't a guarantee. It was a big swing. Chive was a business that had been around for over 10 years. It was time to find a new growth opportunity. And also, not just from a value creation perspective, but I think just for the team and for the brothers of an exciting new thing to dig into. And there was conviction and excitement, but it was clear that you guys were taking a big risk and there was uncertainty. I'm curious to hear the early days, when did you realize you really had something special here? Because you hit some big headwinds during COVID and maybe even a little bit before that, but things did change. Walk me through that.Mike Grisko:So our first headwind that we fought through was we'd agreed to heads of terms with a VC in early 2019 to do our initial funding. And they pulled out. They had internal issues that they had to sort out and they just could not do any fundings. And so we had to go back to our underbidder, who was Charlie Plauche from S3. And Charlie didn't try to take advantage of the situation. He stood up and honored his initial term sheet for the most part. And S3 ventures, if you don't know, Austin based VC, and Charlie was willing to roll up his sleeve, all those things we talked about with the conflict of interest, he and the team were willing to do the work because they saw the big potential. And his read on it, not only was this a massive opportunity, but this is a team that's done it before. And so it's an advantage that they've had The Chive business and been operating successfully for 10 plus years.Chris Erwin:Wow. Yeah. He probably had a chance to bend you guys over a barrel. But instead I think he was probably exhibiting the type of partnership behavior of, "Hey, this is how I'm going to act when you guys are in a moment of need and I'm going to be a resource for you guys and positive asset in good times and in bad." That's a fantastic move on his part.Mike Grisko:And then you flash forward a year, we did a series A extension in bringing on Valor Equity. And we closed that deal on March 6th. And if you remember, I think on March 8th, that was a Sunday that oil tanked 40%. But Jon Shulkin and the team at Valor, they never for a second wavered just on their commitment. And that's a rocky time to be stepping into a new investment, especially one with its end markets being bars, restaurants, gyms.Chris Erwin:Just to be clear, because we glossed over this quickly, when oil had that precipitous drop, that was essentially the week during the massive shutdown for COVID in the US and throughout the world. So the times fundamentally changed.Mike Grisko:Our end users of our service are all out of home venues. And so all subject to lockdowns. It was a trying couple months, but great support from our investors. Having a cohesive team to make some moves to change up the cost structure. And we got through it. Very little turnover and an employee base that was just still so bought into the story. And so to your question on inflection point, really then in Q3 of that year, right around mid August, we really started to see things uptick in the dailies. And so the big question on the business back in 2020, great, we're starting to understand that you can truly build a network in a fairly economic way to get distribution into these B2B customers. Get them signed up, get them to stream. The question was, all right, so if you build all this supply, are advertisers going to come? And that started to be answered in Q3. If you remember, everybody pulled back in the advertising world in Q2 of 2020. As they reassessed, they started to redeploy more and more money into connected TV environments and streaming TV environments.Mike Grisko:And we were one of the benefactors of that, especially in the programmatic open exchange. And so we started to see that coming through in the dailies and then the narrative really flipped. And then in October we did an inside up round. So, it's all of a sudden like now the story was almost flipped with VCs looking to preempt because they saw the traction was starting to build for what we were building.Chris Erwin:And then that leads to, I think in January of this year you announce a blowout round. You announce $100 million in new capital. I think 80 million equity and 20 million in debt.Mike Grisko:Yeah. You flash forward to 2021, which was just one of the most memorable, positive years in my career. But I'm sure there was others that shared that sentiment, but Valor Equity preempted and led our series B raised 25 million in April. And then Sageview led our series C that we've announced in January of 2022, an $80 million round plus a $20 million debt facility with bridge. And so over that three year path, we've now been able to raise $145 million worth of capital and really have been able to put that to work incredibly efficiently in building this network where you go back five years, about 1000 venues. We're now streaming in over 29,000 venues today, reaching close to 40 million people on a monthly basis and generating a lot of ad inventory.Chris Erwin:And just to make this exciting for potential venue partners. If you want to grow your network, people listening to this podcast, what is the value that you bring by putting Atmosphere on their walls?Mike Grisko:Yeah. I like to sum it up as it's better, simple, and free. So it's better content for at least TV. You think TV for business was never broken. It just was never right to begin with. Everything that you see out in bar, restaurant, or gym is content that was built for in-home consumption with audio. It is talking heads. It is entertainment that's going to require the voiceover. We purpose build everything for that audioless experience.Mike Grisko:So it's fast paced. Our news and sports channels, heavy typography that allows the viewer to really just consume visually. So it's better content for these screens and it gives you an alternative to live sports because not everybody is a sports fan and there's not always a relevant game on. And simplicity. There are no monthly contracts. We overnight you a device for free. It is a five minute install process, logging onto your wifi and away you go. And for the venue, it's free. For a free product, you're getting better content to entertain your patrons. And depending on the type of venue you are, we have multi TV locations and single TV locations. So if you're single TV location, such as a waiting room, auto repair shop, you're a car wash, why are you paying for cable? This gives you a cut the cord option in providing entertainment in the waiting room. And then if you're a multi TV location, this is just a great alternative for those other moments.Chris Erwin:I think that sums it up quite well. I like the notion of "It's not broken, it was just never right." So what would you say to wrap up the Atmosphere segment before we go into the rapid fire and we close this out and as a leader, you're at a company like you were saying that at Chive, I think you guys were around 50 to 75 people. Now Atmosphere, it's over 400. What are some of the lessons that you've learned scaling an organization this quickly? How have your responsibilities evolved? What does that look like?Mike Grisko:We have this concept internally, like giving up your Legos. Your job description changes every three to six months when you're going through rapid growth. 18 months ago, we were less than 100 people. Yeah, today we're close to 450 employees just at Atmosphere. And so that requires you to change your roles. Some of the things that I was doing back in 2018, 19, 20, it's just not scalable at that level. And so being able to hire great people, reassign tasks and responsibilities is absolutely critical.Chris Erwin:And what is something as you think about inspiring your team, inspiring the culture there personally. What is something that maybe you do different today than what you did three to five years ago?Mike Grisko:Something our exec team talks about a lot is authenticity. I think if you are just real with people, you show them a bit of yourself, but then also give them an environment that allows them to just come to work as they are. They don't have to pretend to be someone different in a professional setting than they are outside of the office. You give that to them and it just engenders great environment, creative problem solving, and just people with good energy that want to be part of this mission.Chris Erwin:Yeah. I think it's a great mission. I think a lot of people should join the Atmosphere wave. A final note from me, Mike, in the spirit of authenticity to give you some kudos. Something that came across to me when we first met back in 2018 was just, this is a really sharp guy. He's building something exciting in this business, but he also feels very genuine and very grounded. I have always gravitated towards people from the Midwest. I went to grad school at Kellogg in Chicago, have had a lot of team members at RockWater and some of the other companies I've been at from the Midwest. And there's always just something special about them.Chris Erwin:I think you 100% fall into that category. I think of the days where you had so much conviction early on, but you were willing to work so hard to manifest this future that you guys had thought about. And I remember getting late night and early morning emails from you being like, "All right, I've been refining our business model. I think I have a new idea for the TAM. Let's talk through it." You were burning the candle at both ends to really will this thing to life. And it's awesome to see now looking back what you've accomplished for your career. And you guys haven't even had your big exit yet. So I think there's so much opportunity ahead of you and you deserve a special shoutout.Mike Grisko:Thanks, Chris. As amazing as this whole run has been. Yeah. I don't know if I'd want to redo 2017 through early 2019 again. A lot of decisions that we made back then in building this thing out that seem obvious now were not obvious then. It was a lot of rigor and work to really position this thing to set it on the right path to where we're at today. But it's great to see the traction and how far we've come as a team.Chris Erwin:It's amazing. So we're going to move into the final segment, Mike. It's called the rapid fire round. Here are the rules. I'm going to ask you six questions. Your responses are to be brief. They can be one sentence or maybe just a couple words. Do you understand the rules?Mike Grisko:Yep.Chris Erwin:All right, here we go.Mike Grisko:I'm in.Chris Erwin:Proudest life moment?Mike Grisko:Outside of my family and kids being born, I would have to say the proudest professional moment was our last all hands and seeing how big this company has gotten and the number of folks that are now underneath the Atmosphere umbrella is pretty incredible.Chris Erwin:What do you want to do less of in 2022?Mike Grisko:I'm really trying to do less time on my phone at home. The less screen time at home, more time present with the kiddos.Chris Erwin:What do you want to do more of? Well, I guess you just answered that. More time with the kiddos.Mike Grisko:More time with the kiddos and also more sleep. That's been a big thing this year. So far, so good.Chris Erwin:What one to two things drive your success?Mike Grisko:I go back to, after getting laid off, I laid out two rules for myself and it was "Always work harder than the guy next to you" and "Do things the right way." It's pretty basic, but that's always how I attack everything.Chris Erwin:This is one I actually just want to expand on for a second. When you say "do things the right way," just give us a little bit more context there.Mike Grisko:It's treat others how you want to be treated. It's be fair. Work with integrity. That will always get you much further in the end.Chris Erwin:Got it. Well said. All right, last couple here. Any future startup ambitions?Mike Grisko:I actually helped co-found a business last year. Project Bankman. It's a crypto services business that is building solutions for brands on the blockchain. And so we were looking for a solution for Chive Media Group for effectively a branded social token that could replace our loyalty points. Wasn't really one out there. And so we partnered with a gentleman, Gavin Gillis, who is a ton of experience in the crypto space. And we put together a business plan. We're able to raise seed funding and that business is doing incredibly well in signing up new clients, including The Chive and some other financial institutions and airlines just to build them solutions on the blockchain.Chris Erwin:That's awesome. All right. Last one, Mike, this is very easy. How can people get in contact with you?Mike Grisko:LinkedIn.Chris Erwin:Okay. Hit up Mike on LinkedIn. All right, Mike. That is it. Thank you for being on the podcast.Mike Grisko:Chris. This was awesome. Thank you very much. Incredible host. Thanks for making me look good.Chris Erwin:Of course.Chris Erwin:All right. That was a really fun interview with Mike. That has been a long time coming and I'm very glad that we finally were able to make that happen. All right. Quick heads up that our company has a new service offering. We just introduce RockWater Plus, which is for companies who want an ongoing consulting partner at a low monthly retainer, yet also need a partner who can flex up for bigger projects when they arise.Chris Erwin:So who is this for? Well, three main stakeholders. One, operators who seek growth and better run operations. Two, investors who need help with custom industry research and diligence. And three, leadership who wants a bolt on strategy team and thought partner. So what is included with RockWater Plus? We do weekly calls to review KPIs or any ad hoc operational needs. We create KPI dashboards to do monthly performance tracking. We do ad hoc research ranging from customer surveys to case studies, to whitespace analysis. Financial modeling, where we can understand your addressable market size, do P&L forecast. ROI analyses, even cash runway projections.Chris Erwin:We also do monthly trend reports to track new co launches, M&A activity, partnership activity in the space. And lastly, we make strategic introductions to new hires, investors for fundraising, and then also potential commercial strategic partnerships. So if any of this sounds appealing or you want to learn more, reach out to us at email@example.com. We can set a call with our leadership. All right. Lastly, we love to hear from our listeners. If you have any feedback on the show or any ideas for guests, shoot us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. All right, that's it everybody. Thanks for listening.Chris Erwin:The Come Up is written and hosted by me, Chris Erwin, and is a production of RockWater Industries. Please rate and review this show on Apple Podcasts and remember to subscribe wherever you listen to our show. And if you really dig us, feel free to forward The Come Up to a friend. You can sign up for our company newsletter at wearerockwater.com/newsletter. And you could follow us on Twitter @TCUpod. The Come Up is engineered by Daniel Tureck. Music is by Devon Bryant. Logo and branding is by Kevin Zazzali. And special thanks to Alex Zirin and Eric Kenigsberg from the RockWater team.
Podcasts: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Awesomeness, it's six year mission to seek out Strange New Worlds and exciting new television! Oh. look we found it! Join us as we boldly go into our review of this new take on old Trek at warp-factor 5! With Jill in the Captains chair, Dion as Number One, and Quinny as Red shirt number 23 all we can say is: Hit it! https://youtu.be/WxEOT56uJuE A huge thank you to every single one of you space cadets joining in on the live-chat during the Twitch stream this week and every week each Tuesday night... If you haven't done so before join us in in exploring strange new ideas 7:30pm next Tuesday! Special love and thanks goes to those of you who have financially bolstered this podcast via our Ko-Fi jar and now also by subscribing on Twitch! Your generosity (and Latinum) in helping us get closer to buying our very own Starship... not quickly. If you feel inclined, "drop us a sub". The more subscriptions we get, the more Emotes you.The more emotes we get, the closer we get to a "But Why" Emote! Every bit of your support helps us to keep the magic happening. Don't fret if you can't be there for the recording though as you can catch them on Youtube usually later that very night. Make sure to subscribe so you don't miss them! WE WANT YOUR FEEDBACK! Send in voicemails or emails with your opinions on this show (or any others) to email@example.com Please make sure to join our social networks too! We're on: Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/TPToA/ Twitter: www.twitter.com/TPToA Facebook: www.facebook.com/PeriodicTableOfAwesome Instagram: www.instagram.com/theperiodictableofawesome/ https://youtu.be/ZJ_uXEV5BBM https://youtu.be/mCkuP2Rlx8E https://youtu.be/XL4iCAB6MFo
This week we are exploring the walk of life with the founder of Awesomeness Lifestyle and coach Lillian Victoria. Lillian's previous career was working with A-list Hollywood talent and she leverages her knowledge and insight from that time along with her own journey to help entrepreneurs and executives. Lillian shares her wisdom with nuggets from her own walk of life as well and how she applies the lessons she teaches in every day circumstances. Music by Misha Zarins. Show Links: Awesomeness Lifestyle Website: https://www.awesomenesslifestyle.com/ Awesomeness Lifestyle Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/awesomenesslifestyle Walkshow Website: https://thewalkshowpodcast.com/ (https://thewalkshowpodcast.com/) Walkshow Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheWalkshowPod (https://twitter.com/TheWalkshowPod) Walkshow Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/the_walkshow/ (https://www.instagram.com/the_walkshow/) Walkshow Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thewalkshow/ (https://www.facebook.com/thewalkshow/) Walkshow Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Misha YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCf1hf_KEOaqnq3q6Yb3_hbw (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCf1hf_KEOaqnq3q6Yb3_hbw)
Welcome creators / executive producers Peter Hasting and Shaunt Nigoghossian to discuss the continuing adventures of everyone's favorite Ailuropoda melanoleuca, how we're more than our titles, and being versatile in animation. More about Kung Fu Panda: The Dragon Knight: In an era when terrifying beasts roamed the seas, monster hunters were celebrated heroes - and none were more beloved than the great Jacob Holland. But when young Maisie Brumble stows away on his fabled ship, he's saddled with an unexpected ally. Together they embark on an epic journey into uncharted waters and make history. Starring: Jack Black, Rita Ora, Della Saba, Chris Geere, Rahnuma Panthaky and James Hong More about Peter Hasting and Shaunt Nigoghossian: Hastings began his career in entertainment in the music industry. He then entered the world of animation, working as a producer and writer on “Animainacs” and “Pinky and the Brain.” He was also writer and executive producer for “Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness.” Nigoghossian was most recently the supervising director and showrunner for Netflix's “Blood of Zeus.” Previously he worked on “Transformers Prime”, “Be Cool, Scooby-Doo!” and “King of the HIll”. “Kung Fu Panda: The Dragon Knight” is streaming now on Netflix. Find us at: www.werewatchingwhat.com youtube.com/thedhk twitter.com/thedhk instagram.com/thedhk facebook.com/thedhkmovies
Episode 111 Recording Date: 6/13/2022 Craft Beer Bucket List Podcast Links: https://linktr.ee/craftbeerbucketlist Beer Reviewed Brutal Beer Works – Texas Ragers Lost Rhino – Ride the Tide Episode Sticker Sponsor Pecan Street Brewing 106 E Pecan Dr, Johnson City, TX 78636 https://www.pecanstreetbrewing.com https://www.facebook.com/pecanstreetbrewing/ https://www.instagram.com/pecanstreetbrewing/ Craft Beer Bucket List with Mike and Big Ray. We review "Beers you have to try, before you die!" Be sure to follow us on social media for behind the scenes action and photos of the Craft Beer You Have to Try Before You Die! https://www.facebook.com/thecraftbeerbucketlist/ https://www.instagram.com/craftbeerbucketlist/ https://twitter.com/TheCBBL Mike and Big Ray have been best friends for over 20 years. Mike, who is a professor at Arkansas Tech University, a previous brewery owner, and does research and consultant work in the brewing industry. Big Ray who is a PMP certified Project Manager and part time You Tuber residing in Broken Arrow, OK travels frequently for work and enjoys craft beers across the United States. _____________________________________________ Lost Rhino Brewing – Ashburn, Virginia https://www.lostrhino.com/ https://www.facebook.com/LostRhino https://www.instagram.com/lostrhinobrew/ https://twitter.com/LostRhino Brutal Beer Works – North Richland Hills, Texas https://www.brutalbeerworks.com/ http://facebook.com/brutalbeerworks https://www.instagram.com/brutalbeerworks Episode Sponsors DroneOcle Licensed and insured aerial video and photography services based in the Tulsa Metro Area. We offer hourly rates and packages based on your individual needs. We use the latest consumer technology available to process all work in house. https://www.facebook.com/DroneOcle Red Dirt LLC Red Dirt is a parks, recreation, and tourism services agency. Our goal is to provide the tools, information, and leadership to help plan, guide, and market your organization. www.reddirt.us Please remember to always drink responsibly! - #DrinkLocal --- This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/craftbeerbucketlist/support
What do you get when you throw together two of the craziest, most interesting talents to emerge from late 80s/early 90s Seattle and let them talk about the "good old days"? Awesomeness. Pure awesomeness. Such a great time catching up with two of our favorite people in Betty X and the Amazing Mr. Lifto. Join us as we discuss such topics as artists utilizing eggs and poop as projectiles, special cocktails with Leo DiCaprio's posse, footwear of Seattle front men, ashy pancakes, love of Candlebox....and soooo much more! We can't wait for part 2!! --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/undetermined-podcast/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/undetermined-podcast/support
SEASON 5 of the Shades of Strong podcast PREMIERES JULY 19TH…and it promises to be ALL THE THING This season we're showcasing Black women who are daring to do strong differently – Black women who have made a conscious and deliberate effort to give up a life of caping, masking, and hiding in exchange for one of play and ease. After years of playing the role of superwoman, they're telling society, religion, their family, and friends to kick rocks with no shoes on, because they dance to the beat of their own strong. They've taken off the mask, ripped the S from their chest and are unapologetically embracing their vulnerability and humanness. TRUST ME, each episode is going to be EPIC! Every week I'll be bringing you an amazing Black woman sharing her unique story of how she's been there, done that, overcome that so that you can find the courage to do the same thing. You are not superwoman and I know you're tired of pretending that you are. So, if you don't want to miss the AWESOMENESS that is season 5, head over to our website, type in your name and email address to get notified when new episodes drop.
This interview features Adam Rymer, CEO of OpTic Gaming. We discuss what he learned from running Harvard's campus store, adapting to Napster at Universal Music, why entertainment doesn't value innovation, being on Universal Pictures' greenlight committee, scaling Legendary Digital and working alongside Chris Hardwick and Amy Poehler, how to create communities for gamers, why he plays Fornite with his son, and how to follow your own roadmap.Subscribe to our newsletter. We explore the intersection of media, technology, and commerce: sign-up linkLearn more about our market research and executive advisory: RockWater websiteFollow us on LinkedIn: RockWater LinkedInEmail us: email@example.com Interview TranscriptThe interview was lightly edited for clarity.Chris Erwin:This week's episode features Adam Rymer, CEO of OpTic Gaming. So Adam was born in Fort Lauderdale and was a self-described '80s internet nerd. That meant hanging out on internet bulletin boards and attending internet meetups at bowling alleys. His online passions paid off and he ended up going to Harvard after writing an admission essay, comparing entertainment dollars versus grocery store dollars. Adam's early career included Universal Music where three months after beginning his new role Napster was launched. And Adam had to figure out questions like, "What now? And who do we sue?" After rising up to the exec ranks at Universal Adam then struck out on his own to co-founder production company that worked on projects like the Rover and sci-fi hit arrival. He then became president at nerd and legendary networks where he helped build a multi-platform media business alongside stars like Chris Hardwick and Amy Poehler today. Adam is the CEO of OpTic Gaming, where he is helping to grow and scale one of the world's most exciting companies operating at the intersection of gaming and entertainment.Chris Erwin:Adam, thanks for being on The Come Up Podcast.Adam Rymer:Great to be here, man. Good to see you.Chris Erwin:Yeah. So where are you calling in from?Adam Rymer:I am in Dallas, been here about two years now.Chris Erwin:Are you in the Envy offices right now?Adam Rymer:We are. I moved here in the middle of COVID and we've been, believe it or not, working mostly in the office since I got here.Chris Erwin:Like to hear that people getting back to the office environment. Well, we're going to talk about Envy more, but actually want to rewind a bit, Adam. So going back a few years here, I want to hear about where you grew up and a little bit of what your childhood was like to see if there's any kind of glimpses into this media and digital executive that you've become.Adam Rymer:I am a Florida man. I grew up in Fort Lauderdale. Born in Miami, grew up in Fort Lauderdale, '70s and '80s which whatever anybody thinks about Miami and south Florida now is not what it was like when I was there. It was retiree paradise. And then the occasional spring break debauchery but of course, I was too young to really understand and appreciate any of it. So I just saw all these college kids coming in and thinking that would be awesome. And then by the time I was actually old enough to enjoy spring break, that it all gotten kicked out of south Florida and moved to Daytona and Cancun and wherever else. So missed out on all the benefit of all of it. But Florida was an interesting place to grow up in the '70s and '80s. Left at 17, never really went back, but definitely helped shape my desire to stay someplace warm for the rest of my life.Chris Erwin:Okay. So I have to ask you, what was your household like growing up? Were your parents into the same things that you're into now, media entertainment, digital gaming, gaming, what that looked like back in the day was very different, but what did your parents do and what were some of your early inspirations?Adam Rymer:My dad was a physician. He was an immigrant. My mom helped run the household. I had a younger sister who was six years younger than I. And so we were not overly close partially because of the age difference. And partially because we were just into different things, I was probably what you would call a quintessential nerd back in the day when it was very, very uncool to be a nerd. I got an Apple 2e when I was, I don't know, probably like eight or 10 years old and was goofing around on that with floppy discs and playing Zork and all the text base games and whatever else I could get my hands on. I remember connecting to BBSs back in the day. That was how I spent a lot of my free time.Chris Erwin:But BBS?Adam Rymer:Yeah. BBS was a bulletin board system. It was the modern, the old precursor to, I guess what you'd call like a social media network today. It was dial-in multi-communication platform where you could type and talk to other people and play games with people online, text-based games for the most part and south Florida, believe it or not, was actually the hub of some of the biggest BBS companies in the .country every now and then we'd go to meetups with people who were on these, these services, but you'd get online and play trivia and you'd play just chat with each other. And I guess back in the day, you'd consider it pretty weird. And today you just call it WhatsApp.Chris Erwin:So question, you said we would go to meetups. How old are you and who is we? Are you going with your parents or friends?Adam Rymer:Yeah. I was like 13, 14, and I'd have friends that would drive me around. We'd meet at like bowling alleys and family entertainment centers like arcades and mini golf places. And there'd be people from 14 to 40, but everybody was just connected through these online environments of being... At the time, I guess we were outcast and ostracized. And like I said, we were big old nerds.Chris Erwin:Were your parents supportive of some of your interests here with these meetups and the BBSs?Adam Rymer:Yeah, I mean, they didn't really know what was going on. For me, it was just a way to meet people and make friends and met some really interesting folks. Met some really odd, strange folks through it. Some people went on to greatness and do some pretty cool things. Some people faded off into obscurity. I think it definitely helped define and set my career in motion from being part of something that was just on the cutting edge of interactivity and technology. And 'cause there was a lot of steps to it, right. We had to, you had to get a 300-baud modem. You had to connect a phone line to it. You had to pay for time on the service by dropping off some money at a house or sending something in somewhere else. And I mean, it was really complicated, but we made it work. It was a weird time. It was like during the days of war games, if you remember the movie War Games, it was like that sort of universe.Chris Erwin:I've known you for years now. This is the first time I've really asked about your upbringing in your childhood. And within one minute, learn something completely new, but it makes sense. Everyone nowadays talks about how do you build community? How do you build fandom amongst different media brands, participants, creators, and users, et cetera? And you have now three to four decades of experience of building fandom on the internet. It's all becoming much more clear. So as you go to high school and then you're applying for college, what did you think that you were going to do?Adam Rymer:It's funny so we used to go to Disney World a lot in Florida, right? Because it's only about two-hour drive from where I lived. And I was always, I guess, kind of a weird business-focused kid at a certain level. I remember writing my college essay about Disney, but not about the cool entertainment factor of Disney about the business of Disney and how I found it super interesting that when you would go to someplace like Disney World, that you would be totally open to spending $8 on a Mickey bar ice cream that if you were just at a grocery store, you would totally freak out about highway robbery. You would just never spend that kind of money. And, I wrote my essay about like entertainment dollars being different from regular dollars. I did, I guess-Chris Erwin:So precocious.Adam Rymer:... I was a weird kid and at the time I was like, "I want to be Michael Eisner." Michael Eisner was my idol at the time not knowing a whole lot about anything, but knowing Disney and seeing how that was working, I was like, "That's my aspiration." Right? So went off to college. And at the time I was focused on engineering because as a nerd, geeky kid, I thought I was going to be an engineer, but within a year of college, I shifted over to being an economics major and really focusing more on business and really put most of my efforts into pursuing kind of game theory and business and economics.Chris Erwin:You went to Harvard up in Cambridge, right?Adam Rymer:That's the one. Yeah.Chris Erwin:So your essay must have been something special to get into that school. Right?Adam Rymer:God. To this day, I don't know how I got in. I'll tell you, I mean, it's my 25th reunion this year. I look around and I see other people from my class and I see kids today and I mean the quality of students and applications is just phenomenal. And to this day I count my lucky stars that I went there and got in there and survived. It was the hardest experience in my life. I can't even tell you, I felt overwhelmed half the time, lucky half the time. I mean, it was something.Chris Erwin:Well, if you're going to a reunion, my dad, I think is Harvard '70. And I think he's going to his reunion this year as well. So maybe you guys can bump into one another there. So you're at Harvard, you're feeling overwhelmed, but feeling lucky and grateful. And do you think you get more clarity on what you want to do when you're graduating?Adam Rymer:Yeah. Well, look, while I was there, I had my first real work experience. So we had this thing called Harvard Student Agencies. And what that is a bunch of student-run businesses on campus that are sanctioned by the university. And they let students sort of operate businesses through a platform that the university puts together. And I started out running something called the Campus Store, which basically sold futons and refrigerators and class rings and all the stuff you need for dorm rooms. And then my second year I became vice president of the organization. And one of the things that organization also did was produce the Let's Go Travel Guides, which might be a sign of another era, but it was books that you would use to go travel abroad and low-budget travel through Europe and other places around the world.Adam Rymer:And it was a team of hundreds of students that would write these books and go out and travel and run these businesses. And I did that for two and a half years of my time at school. And I found my time working and helping to run these businesses to be maybe the best education that I got over my time there. So by the time that I was graduating, I was pretty dead set on being in the business world, operating, trying to figure out some way to be an executive in some way, shape or form. Didn't necessarily know exactly what type of business to run. So I ended up going into management consulting, coming out of school because to me that seemed like the best landing spot, where I could get a sense of a bunch of different industries, bunch of different businesses, try to solve some problems for different companies and then figure out what I wanted to do from there. Or just do that for the rest of my life. Because from what I heard, that was a pretty cool thing to do.Chris Erwin:Got it. You go to L.E.K. Consulting in the late '90s. Was the experience what you expected it to be?Adam Rymer:So, so late '90s, I got to take you back a minute. I mean, at the time computers were still relatively, they weren't new, but they were not as useful as they are today. Everything was hard. The internet was slow. The amount of data that you had access to wasn't quite there, Google wasn't quite there. So I was building a lot of financial models. It was hard to do the research. We were printing things out on overhead projector slides for client presentations. PowerPoint was not as user friendly as it is today. I think I, when I started there, we were using Lotus 1-2-3, not even Excel. I was working probably 80 to 100 hours. I found the work interesting. I found the rigor interesting. I found the type of things we were doing interesting. I did not find the clients. I was working on overly exciting, and that was a big epiphany for me.Adam Rymer:I found it really hard to stay focused working for industries that I didn't have a passion for. At one point I was no joke... People say these things as jokes, I was working for a vacuum cleaner manufacturer, literally a company that made vacuum cleaners and I was helping them reallocate their sales force across the country. It was just hard. I was on the road and I was looking through maps and I was looking at different DMAs and I was trying to help them figure this out. I also spent a lot of time working in the biotech space, trying to look at different drugs that were coming to market and how they should be priced and talking to a lot of doctors and physicians about whether they would use the product and whether they would get approved by the FDA.Adam Rymer:And look, it wasn't my background. I mean, I purposely stayed away from anything pre-med I don't think I took any biology classes past ninth grade. The work was fun. The hours were rough, but not being passionate about the day to day subject was a real challenge for me. So about a year in, I was trying to figure out what was next.Chris Erwin:I hear you. I mean, I was a banker, right when I graduated from school undergrad. I think from like 2005 to 2010. And yeah, we were able to pull down 10-Ks and SEC filings, from the internet and able to get a bunch of financial information using Excel to create models. And I just remember all my MDs being like, "We used to have to get the 10-K's physically mailed to us." They didn't have Excel and they were doing modeling by hand on paper or in these really basic computer systems. And I was like, "Either that sounds terrible or it was better because you could just focus and do less." Where when you have access to technology your bosses just expect, "Well, you can work on five assignments at the same time." Right? You're equipped. But anyway, I digress.Chris Erwin:So then, okay, you do that for a couple of years and then I think you make a decision that instead of being an advisor and consultant, you want to go work for a company. You go to the line, quote, unquote, "some people say." And you go to Universal Music. So how was that transition for you?Adam Rymer:I mean, it was a magical transition for me. I mean, it was a happenstance lucky break for me and my career and the whole rest of my career, to be honest with you. And it goes down in something I think about still on a regular basis is having been a nerd. I mean, this goes back to the BBS story is I had built a PC. I was living in Cambridge. I was downloading the first MP3 files off the internet from really obscure search engines, like web crawler and LICOs. And I bought the first MP3 player that was ever made. And I would take this MP3 player to the gym and the use case for a portable MP3 player I found fascinating. The other options available at the time were a Walkman with a tape that you had to make a mix tape for, or a CD player, which for those who don't remember them, trying to get a CD player not to skip when you're at the gym or on a treadmill is almost impossible.Adam Rymer:And so I, part of me just realized like this digital music universe is going to be the way to go. This is just going to completely take over the future as the technology gets better. And I went to the consulting company I was at, and I said, "Look, we should sell a project to the music business and help them figure out the future of digital music, because there's no doubt in my mind that this is going to change the whole face of how the music industry works." To their credit they let me help work on selling that project and they successfully did sell the project. To not their credit they didn't let me work on the project.Chris Erwin:You can be the idea, the inspiration, create the pitch. And then it's like, "And you're off the team."Adam Rymer:So I left and that was the impetus for me leaving. I applied for a job at Universal and I was very fortunate to get an interview and then ultimately get hired to go join the strategy group at Universal Music in New York in, I think it was 1999, early 1999. It was a life-changing moment because the beginning in 1999 MP3 files and digital music was starting to be a huge subject of conversation. It was on the front page of USA Today. I was quoted in a bunch of things. It was something that everybody was talking about and knew was coming. But what nobody saw coming was Napster and Napster happened about three months after I got to Universal.Chris Erwin:Oh wow.Adam Rymer:So all of a sudden I was thrown into the fire with, it wasn't just me we had a team of people. But it was the, "Okay. Piracy is real. It's not going anywhere. How do we solve this?" Do we start suing the companies? Do we start suing our customers? Do we create our own technology? Do we create a subscription service, which is no joke, an idea that we presented at the time in 1999. What do we do? How do we solve this problem? Because it's not going anywhere and technology isn't where it is today.Chris Erwin:Follow-up question on that. Adam, did you feel that the leadership, did they understand the weight of the situation? Were they really panicked, very concerned or it's like, "This is an issue we should sort this out over the next five years, but take your time and be thoughtful." What was that sense inside the building?Adam Rymer:I'm going to answer that in a couple ways. I mean, this is a problem that I have seen throughout my entire career, which is that at traditional entertainment companies, the leadership is rarely incentivized to try to really innovate solutions to the biggest challenges that are in front of them. There's a lot of reasons for that. And I don't necessarily blame the leadership that's at these companies. A lot of them are publicly traded. They need to hit their quarterly returns. They're incentivized to hit those quarterly returns. Innovation is very rarely valued at these companies the way that it needs to be. Oftentimes they can buy innovation when they need to. Right? They're big enough. They've got public stock and if there's a startup, they can often buy the company that's going to solve their innovation problem. The difficulty in these cases is when you're dealing with something that's inherently illegal or theoretically illegal, you can't just buy the illegal thing and make that part of your repertoire.Adam Rymer:So the answer that was given was essentially like, "Look, let's let the courts figure this out." It was somewhat of a, "Well, obviously this is illegal. So the government should just stop this and get in front of it and shut it down because we have the right to sell music on discs and all these other things." And I think there was an inherent unwillingness to accept the fact that the consumers get to decide these things. Consumers get to decide how they want to consume content, how they want to live their lives. And ultimately it's the entertainment companies and the media companies who have to answer to the consumers on these things. And that's where I saw the biggest disconnect. And it wasn't just at the music industry. I've seen that through most of my career.Chris Erwin:Yeah. You were at Universal Music for about one to two years. So, and clearly had some early exposure to digital, but we're seeing that this is a theme from very early on in your career and your childhood. But then shortly thereafter you go to Universal Pictures. Why'd you make that transition? Did you feel, "Hey, there's a lot of inertia here, things aren't changing and I want to go to another part of the house," or was it something else? What was that catalyst for change?Adam Rymer:Well, for anybody who remembers the advent of Napster and piracy, also the crash of 2000 from a tech standpoint, just really killed the entire music industry. I mean, the music industry was cratering at that point. People were losing their jobs. Revenue was cut more or less than half very quickly. And I had an opportunity to go to business school. So I jumped and I decided I was going to ride out the storm of 2000 and everything else while I was in business school. And if there was still a music industry to go back to, I loved the music business. I would've gone back to music after business school, but between 2000 and 2002, while I was in school, the music industry kept falling. They couldn't quite figure out the solution. And I spent my summer at Universal Pictures looking at a another side of entertainment.Adam Rymer:So after school that turned into a full-time offer. My thought on it was the biggest challenge the music industry had was technology hit them like a title wave because the technology at the time had already caught up to the feasibility for music, meaning you could download a song in a reasonable amount of time to make it useful for the end-user, right? It only took a couple minutes, 5, 10 minutes at most to download a song, if not an album based on where technology was in 1999. When I graduated from, from school and went off to film the technology, wasn't there to download a movie, right? We were still a long way off from maybe not that long, but technology hadn't quite hit the film business in terms of feasibility for the piracy and the not having enough time to get in front of.Adam Rymer:So the way I saw it was this is an opportunity to get into the film business and try to help them stave off the problems that the music industry faced. How do I take the learnings from music and apply it to the film business and try to do some things differently here that we couldn't do there?Chris Erwin:You go there and you have a seven-year run and you end up rising to become I think the SP of digital for Universal Pictures where you're managing an international staff of, I think over 20 people across the US as well as London and Tokyo, if I'm right. Did you feel that at that point that you were coming into your own as an executive where you have a vision, you know how to solve problems, you know how to build the teams? And did you feel like that was a transformational moment in your career?Adam Rymer:I thought so. I thought so. It was the, "Hey, this is great. My career's really advancing. I'm at the senior levels of a major studio. I'm getting to present to some really cool people." I'm continued to have some really lucky experiences. Got involved in some very cool projects. I was always very much on the business side of it. I was pretty far removed from I'd say the creative side. It wasn't until the very end of my stint at Universal that I got put on the green light committee at Universal, which is where you actually get to have a say over which films get made at the studio, which was a pretty cool experience. Although it didn't last very long.Chris Erwin:How big is that committee and how much weight did your particular vote from the digital strategy side count?Adam Rymer:I'm not sure how much weight anybody's individual vote has, except for a couple of people on those committees. There's about 10 people on that committee across the studio. You've got home entertainment and marketing and production and the head of the studio and those kinds of things. It's fascinating. I mean, it's very kind of closed-door sort of, sort of setting very private, almost Illuminati-ish, but it was pretty cool to be in the room for some of it. But my job was to weigh in on what the digital and alternative revenue streams could be for the titles that we were working on. So things like video games, YouTube content, ancillary products. At the time we were talking about things like ring tones. What's the other stuff that we can do out of these films to generate revenue.Adam Rymer:And then I would be on the hook for delivering those numbers against the P&L for that particular title. It was pretty neat. And I felt like things were going pretty well for my career at that point, for sure. Now the downside was during my time there, we kept getting acquired. And for most people getting acquired sounds like it's a pretty awesome thing. Usually, there's like, "Hey, you got paid out. That's a big success, big exit." Well, in the big giant corporate world, those kinds of acquisitions usually get met with, "Hey, we're just kind of sitting on our hands for a while." So Universal was a big company. And when I started working for them, it was owned by Seagram. Then it was owned by Vivendi. Then it was owned by GE. And when I left, it had been acquired by Comcast.Adam Rymer:And we were always the acquired company, which meant that the acquiring company was taking their people, having them learn about the business that they were buying, meeting with everybody trying to figure out what everybody did, which resulted in a whole lot of work for all of us to educate them. And usually, that met with a whole bunch of reorganization and strategy redesignChris Erwin:Hey listeners, this is Chris Erwin, your host of the Come Up. I have a quick ask for you. If you dig what we're putting down, if you like the show, if you like our guests, it would really mean a lot if you can give us a rating wherever you listen to our show. It helps other people discover our work. And it also really supports what we do here. All right, that's it everybody. Let's get back to the interview.Chris Erwin:So, Adam, I totally feel you on if you're always the target and you're being acquired the reeducation of the new leadership. It's a lot. I mean, I remember when Big Frame was bought by Awesomeness TV and then Verizon, and then Hearst then invested thereafter, and then Comcast NBC U came and bought Dreamworks, which had owned Awesomeness. And there's always the strategic goal shift, the mandate shift there's reorganizations. And there's a point where you're just like, "I just want to get to work." And look, that's the nature of the beast, but was that a reason why after your seven-year run, you then started to explore entrepreneurship? You were the co-founder and COO and CFO of Lava Bear Films. And you did that for a few years. Was that the reason why you made the switch?Adam Rymer:Yeah, look, I mean, there were management changes and to be honest, I had been part of a very big company where I was an employee number. I still remember my employee number to this day, which says a lot, and it was an eight-digit number. So I was just a little tired of being in that kind of structure and part of me who likes solving problems and actually making things happen and not having a whole lot of red tape. There was an opportunity in front of me. The chairman of Universal had left and had an opportunity to start a film production company and asked me to help him put the business plan together for it and raise some capital and go after it. So I thought it would be a great chance for me to not only learn how to start a company from scratch but also learn about the other side of the business, the creative side of the business. How do you actually make content from start to finish?Chris Erwin:Well, you must have been doing something right at universal if the chairman leaves and wants to bring you on board to his next venture, right?Adam Rymer:I would hope so. I would hope so.Chris Erwin:So you're there. You learned the creative side of the business, which I think is, I've talked about this on a few podcasts, right? Usually, in entertainment, you're either on the business side of the house or on the creative side of the house. It's rare for people to speak both those languages. I think of people maybe like Bob Iger or David Zaslav at Discovery in Warner Media. Right. So it's smart to build out that muscle and I think that you are an executive producer on The Rover and you helped finance the movie Arrival?Adam Rymer:That's right.Chris Erwin:Produced by FilmNation and [inaudible 00:28:25] and Glen Basner and they're good friends of ours.Adam Rymer:Great guys.Chris Erwin:Yeah. They're the best. And so you do that for four years and did you see like, "Hey, maybe there's a world where you stay in the creative side of entertainment?" Was that interesting to you?Adam Rymer:Look, it was an amazing experience. I always wanted to see how the whole sausages gets made from start to end and really got to do that. I was going around to film festivals. I was reading scripts. I was handling some of the talent deals. I was negotiating a lot of the financing for the films. We were selling the projects internationally. We were dealing with the studios. We were looking at the marketing for the films when they came out. But for I'm sure you've talked about this on some other podcasts the filmmaking process is very long and very slow. And so for me, it was I like being on the creative side of the business or having involvement on the creative side. But I don't know that filmmaking was the place for me to explore that in the long term, because I'm so used to being in areas where things move very quickly, right?Adam Rymer:Even the music business moves relatively quickly. And on the digital world, I was watching things happen. Snapchat was starting to happen and Twitch wasn't quite there yet, but YouTube was really starting to take off and there were all these other things that were happening in the background. And I just felt like I was missing some really cool, innovative opportunities that were going on. So I had an opportunity to go join Legendary, which was at the time a pretty cool independent studio started by Thomas Tull. They had made Godzilla and Hangover and King Kong and 300. And he asked me if I would help them build their digital businesses over there.Chris Erwin:Was it an immediate yes? Like, "Oh yeah, this makes sense. This is an incredible studio with some incredible IP. There's a lot I can do here. Let's get to work." Or were you evaluating other things too?Adam Rymer:I wasn't evaluating other things. And it was pretty hard decision because you this was a company that I had helped start and I was a pretty big piece of, but the opportunity and it was a blank slate. I was kind of handed a, "We don't know what the right answer is and we need somebody who's got enough experience on both sides of the equation here that understands making some content, understands distribution, understands the business side of it to really help us figure out what we should do with this asset that we have." They had just acquired Nerdist and just didn't have a solid business plan on how to start making real revenues out of it. So for me, it was a puzzle to solve right back to the things that I love, which is trying to put pieces together.Adam Rymer:At a certain level the film business has a very defined path, right? There's not much to solve in that. There's always new innovations that are getting made. There's new ways to finance a film. But for the most part, the business model of making movies is relatively defined. You might say that Netflix has changed that in some way, shape, or form, but there wasn't a whole lot of, "How am I going to do this for the next 20 years and innovate and do some neat things?" And at Legendary, it felt like there was a real chance to try all sorts of new ideas.Chris Erwin:When you enter their first year, they've acquired Nerdist and I think that was... Was that founded by Chris Hardwick?Adam Rymer:Correct? Yep.Chris Erwin:And so what did you think of, okay, these are the wins that I want to get in year one. I think that we are capable of doing this. It also feels innovative. And then I think it's going to set you up to have an exciting career overseeing digital at Legendary going forward. What was that first mandate for you?Adam Rymer:First thing was really figuring out how are we going to generate consistent revenue? Because at the time the video part of Nerdist was founded as one of the funded YouTube channels. Some people might remember that YouTube was putting a lot of money into funding channels for the purpose of creating more premium content on YouTube and right around 2014, they stopped funding those channels. And so a lot of these channels ended up in no man's land of figuring out how they were going to keep their business running. And so for me, the first step was okay, well, now that we don't have this stipend coming from YouTube every year, how are we going to find ways to just generate consistent revenue even if we're still operating at a little bit of loss, something that we can project to keep it all moving. So at the time we had the Nerdist podcast and we had some content that was existing on YouTube, and my first step was, well, how do we start monetizing podcasts in a better way?Adam Rymer:So I was able to take Chris's podcast and structure a deal with Midroll and that helped get us really kicked off with our first seven-figure deal, which let me hire some more staff and start to figure out some new lines of business.Chris Erwin:Did you feel like, "Hey, we figured out a digital revenue model here for media brands and fandoms built around big personalities"? And so did that then inspire you to say, "Well, let's start buying some other companies to add onto this roster"? Because I think you then acquired Geek and Sundry and then Amy Poehler's Smart Girls at the Party.Adam Rymer:That's right. So the idea was, well, if we can create enough of scale around these celebrity-driven community content businesses, then we can justify having an infrastructure that can support all of them the right way. So that allowed us to have a sales team that could support all of them, and start doing branded content deals that could leverage the communities that were built across all of them simultaneously bring some staff efficiencies together, and allow content production to be more efficient. So we had our entire... We had our own content production team. We had our own studio where we produced all of the content that we're making for the YouTube channels ourselves and for our branded content features. And ultimately that led us to start a Twitch channel with Geek and Sundry, which is where I started to learn quite a lot about Livestream.Chris Erwin:So do you feel at this point it's like, "All right." You're attached to a big studio, you have a lot of resources, you have incredible IP to work with, but you also, you're running your own division, which has its own P&L. It seems like you're on both the creative and the business sides of the house, where you have a real strong point of view of what content we're creating. How do we monetize it? What's getting green-lit? What new platforms are we experimenting with? You're building out a team against your vision. Did you feel like, "Hey, I feel like I have it all right now"? This is checking all the boxes for my career.Adam Rymer:In hindsight, I guess so. I mean, at time it felt very stressful. At the time it felt like we were building the plane while we were flying it. And there weren't a whole lot of examples for us to point to say, "Hey, we're doing it like these guys," or we've got somebody else that's done it in front of us. There were the MCNs out there that were aggregating a bunch of channels together. And they had a somewhat different business model, but there was nobody who was really trying to create more premium level content on a regular basis. And I mean, I had to answer to a pretty senior studio executive. So I had a lot of pressure from that side, but I did have the luxury of a good balance sheet. So I wasn't having to deal with trying to raise capital on a regular basis to keep the thing afloat.Adam Rymer:There was a couple years there where it really felt like the coolest, most fun job that I ever could have thought I've had. We were going down to ComicCon. Chris was moderating panels for us in Hall H. Got to go backstage and hang out with the cast of all the Marvel films before they got on Hall H. we had all sorts of fun people coming by the studio to be in the content, got to watch and be part of a lot of the content that was being filmed at our location. I think most of the people that were there at the time will tell you that it was a pretty magical place to be for a couple of years.Chris Erwin:I mean, I remember going to your offices a couple times during that period and just looking around at the different sets and the studios. And I was like, "This sounds like a pretty amazing gig, Adam." I knew that you were working really hard and that it was a lot and you were kind of figuring things out on the fly as you said, but I think everything in retrospect, you get some clarity of like, "Oh, that was a pretty cool moment." You know? And I think that was a very cool moment for you. And clearly, you learned a lot, which has bolstered your career. But I'm curious to hear you so you started experimenting with Twitch. I think that's just an interesting precursor to some of the channels and the partners that you work with today, particularly in gaming, similar to when you saw the power of MP3s when you were up in Cambridge.Chris Erwin:And then you saw how that was going to disrupt the music space. When you were first exposed to Twitch, did a light bulb go off on your head and say, "Hey, there's something incredibly exciting about the power of live?" What was that moment like for you?Adam Rymer:I'll be honest. I wasn't the biggest, "Hey, we're going to figure out how to monetize this immediately live streaming." I was the suit in the room on it. I had some people from Geek and Sundry come to me and they said, "We think that we can create a channel for Geek and Sundry and stream different kinds of content, just do some stuff out of our office. And we will minimize the cost that it takes for us to do it and we'll give it a shot. And they did it and they got it up and running and they spent as little as they could to create a set and livestream and got a bunch of equipment donated. And it was okay. And Felicia came on and streamed with it and that helped build an audience for it. And it was programmed. I mean, the thing that was most interesting about it was it actually had a schedule.Adam Rymer:There were shows that were on certain times of day, certain days of the week, it was a live-streamed TV network. Maybe one of the first of its kind. It started to gain some traction, but it was when Felicia brought in her friends at Critical Role to stream their Dungeons and Dragons game that we really started to see the magic of what live-streaming could be.Chris Erwin:What was unique about bringing Critical Role in live-streaming Dungeons and Dragons? What did you feel was special for the audience or to help amplify marketing? What was that?Adam Rymer:Well, I mean, what was amazing about it was it found a community that never had a place to call home. So most of Twitch was watching people play video games. There was some what you'd call today, just chatting going on, which is mostly what Geek and Sundry was. There was some game playing, but nobody was really streaming D and D at the time or doing things that were a little more creative like that in a meaningful, well-produced way. And all of a sudden this show found a home and started to spread by word of mouth and it had some great talent attached to it, right? Everybody who's on Critical Role is professional voice actors in their own right. And so they brought a level of confidence to it that don't think many people have seen before. And Matt Mercer's just a genius as a DM at the end of the day. So giving this community, which is spread out around the world a home one day a week, where they can all get together and share an experience at the same time, really became a magical place to be.Adam Rymer:So Twitch loved us because we were bringing in a community that wasn't necessarily there naturally again, because most of Twitch was more based around video gaming and the D and D community loved it because it was giving them a place that they had never had before. It was a little bit like lightning in a bottle.Chris Erwin:It just goes back to, I think I was listening to a podcast by Ben Thompson a couple weeks ago. And I think a point that was made is never underestimate the ability of the internet to reach these incredibly niche fandoms all around the world. There is interest in anything at a minimum, at least one person will be into something if you put it out there. But I think Dungeons and Dragons has this massive community and like you said, but they didn't really have a place to call home and you guys created that for them. I think that was just like so beautifully articulated. I love that. So you're doing your thing at Nerdist and Legendary you're there for five years, but then at the end of your five-year run, you go into this exploratory phase where you're advising a few different companies.Chris Erwin:I think you're reimagining cinema with a company called WeVu. And I remember being in your living room, having some brainstorm sessions around that with a few mutual friends, shout out to Adam Sachs. And then you end up as at the CEO, as of Envy Gaming, a big bet on the gaming space. How did that run come to an end? And then it kicked off. I'm going to make a bet on the gaming space. What did that look like for you?Adam Rymer:Sure. So Legendary sold to a big Chinese company called Wanda and I'll make it a short story. It was just the fit for me at the new version of the company wasn't quite the same as it was under the previous leadership. So I left and started advising companies that I just thought were really interesting and cool out there. Did some work with [inaudible 00:40:44]. Did some work with Participant. Did some work with ranker.com, other friends of mine that I had known over the years that I just had a chance to really help out here and there. And then out of the blue, right before COVID hit, I got a call from a recruiter about this position with NB Gaming. And as I've said, I've been a gamer geek nerd most of my life. And I've been paying attention to what's been going on in the gaming and Esports space for a long time.Adam Rymer:At Universal, I was responsible for all the video game work that was done. We had produced a couple games while I was there. We looked at buying a big video game publisher while I was there. So the video game space wasn't totally new to me, but the video game lifestyle space was a little bit new. And I had been following the growth of Twitch, the growth of what you'd call the celebrity influencers and creators that were emerging on the platform. And I had seen some of these Esports organizations. I hadn't necessarily known of Envy at the time, but I did know of a couple of the other ones that were out there. And I saw the potential, right? I saw the early days of a new form of brand and community entertainment, which was emerging on Twitch and other platforms because it was interactive. And when I started meeting the people that were here at Envy, it really felt like the next phase of innovation for me.Adam Rymer:And if you think about the path of my career, which has always been trying to find where's that edge of entertainment and technology and consumer behavior music with Napster and film with digital distribution and Nerdist with community-based content. This really feels like the edge of the universe at the moment, in terms of where the community is starting to emerge, where you've got a new generation of people who are not watching traditional television. It felt to me like this is a place to plant my flag for a while and see how I can help this develop.Chris Erwin:So you end up moving. You were based out of LA. Your family was in LA but the role was in Dallas. Did you just move there full-time in the beginning or were you commuting like four days a week in Dallas? And then back to LA on the weekends?Adam Rymer:I moved here to Dallas in the summer of 2020 having never met anybody at the company in person because we were all working from home. And my family stayed back in LA because of the pandemic. And I would fly back home every two weeks to see them. And we did that for about nine months while my kid was finishing the school year. It was an interesting time to be away from home and in a new city that I knew absolutely nothing about. I had never really been to Dallas before. I knew nothing about the city.Chris Erwin:Did you take on the role without ever meeting anyone from the founding team, the leadership, or the investor group in person? It was all Zoom calls and then you signed on the dotted line?Adam Rymer:Yes.Chris Erwin:Wow. That's a big decision.Adam Rymer:Yes. That's how convinced I was about the future of this space and also the people that were involved with it. So the interesting part about that period of time is I have a son who at the time was eight years old. And the way that he and I would stay in touch and I think this is telling to the future of this space, the way he and I would stay in touch while I was living in Dallas and he was in LA is we would play Fortnite together. Several times during the week I would get home from work, we'd both load up Fortnite and we'd put on the cameras. And while we were playing Fortnite, we'd catch up on how school was going and what his friends were up to and how he's doing. And that to me was the whole reason why I'm in this space.Adam Rymer:Because yes, we were playing a game and we were shooting people and we were like having a good time, but it was really just about us spending time together and talking to each other and interacting with each other. And that's what I think we're going to remember at the end of the day and not what skin we were wearing or any of that kind of thing, which to me shows how gaming is just the natural way of interacting and communicating for people today.Chris Erwin:That is so cool. I mean, I think about from our generations like Gen X and Millennials, oh, early memories of your father, it's like going fishing together, right. Going camping. And I think that your son, right, these like Gen Alpha, their memories will be like, "I remember when we used to play that old game Fortnight and we used to talk and catch up about our what was going on in school." It's just going to be a whole transformation of memories of childhood and with their parents, you know?Adam Rymer:Absolutely.Chris Erwin:I love that. We always say for us, you need to be where your clients are at. Tell our clients to don't resist or to be forceful. And I really like you're meeting your kid where he's at. If you look at the stats, we just did a big research project for a toy retailer of where are parents and kids independently and then also as a co-viewing unit spending their time online. It's on social media and it's in these big gaming environments, like Fortnite, like Roblox, like Minecraft. So I think that's pretty smart parenting, Adam. I am not a parent, but I think that it seems like smart parenting from afar.Adam Rymer:Absolutely. It's a new world. I keep trying to explain to people who are in a, I don't even want to say older generation, right because I don't feel like I'm old these days, but I'll just say anybody who's Gen X and older, we tend to use the word gamer, right? As like, "Oh, there's gamers." People are gamers and it's a misnomer now. It made sense for our generation because gaming was such a new thing for people to do. Not everybody had an Xbox, not everybody had an Atari. Gaming wasn't a natural course of business. But for this new generation, for the younger generations, asking somebody if they're a gamer is like asking people in our generations, if they listen to music or if they go to the movies.Adam Rymer:Well, you might talk to people and say, "Hey, what TV shows are you watching?" And there might be people who say, "I don't watch TV" and you're going to say, "Okay, well, that's strange. I mean, most people watch TV." But in this generation, I think we are increasingly reaching the stage of saying, "What games do you play?" Not, "Are you a gamer?" Because to me that is the given for this generation.Chris Erwin:I love that. Such a poignant point. Couple quick questions before we go onto our closing rapid fire. But when you got in there, I remember I'm like, "Adam, so what's your initial focus there?" And I think that you had a point of view like you've done at your other companies of what is the 360 monetization model? How do you take these teams, these players... How do you build media brands around them? How do you build fandoms? What is the talent-driven model to really take this business to the next level? If you could just tell our listeners what your initial re-imagination and growth vision for the company was in year one.Adam Rymer:A lot of it is applying principles to it at a certain level. What we do, isn't very different from other forms of media and entertainment that I've been involved with. And other people have been involved with in the past, which is we have a brand that has stature and meaning and association. It has a community around it. And through that brand and through the content that we create, we reach our users, we reach their eyeballs. It helps our brands and advertisers reach their eyeballs and it helps us connect with them. And so that's no different from any other form of media, whether that was magazines back in the day or television, or filmed entertainment, it is at a certain level. It is reach and it is scale. And so when I came in here first, it was really just understanding the dynamics of the industry.Adam Rymer:Where does monetization happen? What platforms does it happen on? How do we actually get in touch with these people? What kind of data is available? But then it was what are the assets that we actually have and what levers can we pull and what is our programming? So when you start thinking of the brand and your programming, you start saying to yourself, okay, well, I've got teams and I've got content creators, and I've got original programming that we put out. And you start looking at the pieces of your organization as what reach to each of those pieces have. So I've got this team and they play a certain game. Let's call it rocket league. Well, what audience does that rocket league team bring to me? Where are those people from? What demographic is that group of people? Are they mostly in the US or are they mostly international?Adam Rymer:What age are they? What states do they come from? What do they care about? What brands and industries are they interested in? And then I've got our call of duty team. Same thing. What reach do they have? Switch over to our content creator side. Okay. Well, if I'm going to bring on a new content creator, what's the audience that I'm getting from working with that content creator? It's not overly different. I mean, it is, there are differences in nuances, but if you are Discovery Channel and you're thinking about filling the 8:00 PM slot on Thursday, well, what are you going to put on in that 8:00 PM slot? You don't want to put on something that overlaps with another show that you already get that audience from. This is the whole definition of programming. It's the same reason why Game of Thrones and Westworld aren't on at the same time for HBO. They sequence those things because they want to optimize the programming and make sure that people stay subscribed to HBO for a longer period of time.Adam Rymer:So understanding your audience, understanding who's coming in, understanding the reach that you get with the assets that you have available starts to get the company thinking about us as a media property. And once you shift your mindset to thinking about it as a media property rather than necessarily a sports team, you start to build business processes around that in a different way. And that's what we're focused on at the moment.Chris Erwin:I don't think I've heard a smarter encapsulation of a media strategy than your past couple minutes, Adam. So very well done. So I'm curious in putting that strategy in place, just over the past almost two years, what are some of your favorite moments of some wins with the team? I was reading on LinkedIn. There's the Valorant Championships and the Green Wall, the Fandom really coming alive, having over a million concurrent viewers of the competition. Is that one of them? Are there others? What has that been for you?Adam Rymer:To start with our Call of Duty team won the CDL Championship within a month of me being here at Envy, which was mind-numbing. It's like, imagine joining the Chicago bulls five days before they won the NBA Championship, right? It's that kind of thing. And all of a sudden you've got a ring and you've got a trophy and you've got all this stuff and you barely started to understand what this world is all about. It was a pretty phenomenal moment. It was an amazing way to get indoctrinated into the space and get excited about it all. So now I've got a championship ring that's sitting in my office and that was a pretty fun, pretty fun moment. But yeah, about a year later, we merged with OpTic Gaming, which some of the listeners might know is one of the biggest, most passionate fan bases in the world when it comes to gaming and Esports.Adam Rymer:And that has been like wildfire for us. Hector Hex, just an amazing individual who's knows how to work with his audience and knows how to create content, and knows how to bring the audience into the brand in a really phenomenal way. And he's been educating us on a bunch of things that we didn't quite understand, and we've been working with him on some of the monetization things and just really couldn't have put two better organizations together. So within two months of bringing those organizations together, we won the Valorant Championship in Iceland, which is, as you were mentioning, had over a million people watching it. And just again, just another one of those too picture-perfect of a moment for us. Great memories that we're going to have forever.Chris Erwin:That's awesome. A final question for you is what's next for Envy gaming? What should people be watching for in some of the upcoming announcements, some new business initiatives? I think I was looking at from your team, there's some new virtual character immersion like CodeMiko. I'm pronouncing that right? Maybe some web three activations. What are you working on right now?Adam Rymer:What I think you're going to see out of us over the next year is really continued expansion of optic from a brand perspective, in terms of the areas that we're in. Just really trying to explore new ways to reach our fan base and build communities. I think the whole world of Web3, and I think a lot of people talk about Web3 without necessarily... I'm not saying I'm an expert in it, but I don't think a lot of people quite understand some of the dynamics of what makes Web3 different from Web2. And the biggest thing to me about Web3 that makes it different is community. If you don't have a community tied to some Web3 initiative, then you're missing it. I'll give you an perfect example. Web2 is about user acquisition on a one-to-one basis.Adam Rymer:So you've got a game like Candy Crush and you spend 50 cents to bring somebody in to Candy Crush and they spend a $1.50 on the game. You've made a dollar in profit and you can just keep doing that cycle all day. And you find new ways to bring more people in and you get a huge user base. There's a community that maybe gets formed online on Reddit boards and whatever else talking about Candy Crush, but the community is not an inherent part of what makes Candy Crush successful. In Web3 it's a little bit different. Web3 is if you bring somebody in, if you spend 50 cents to bring somebody to your Web3 platform and they get there and there isn't a whole community for them to connect to, they're going to leave. There's nothing for them to do. The community actually makes your project valuable.Adam Rymer:So in game terms, it's like bringing somebody in to play Fortnite, and they're just sitting in the queue, waiting for the game to start. And because there aren't 90 other people for you to play the game with, you're just sitting there and you're just waiting and waiting and nothing happens. And so it doesn't matter how much you spend on user acquisition, you didn't get your value for it. So we're going to be spending a lot of time on how do we build our community in new ways? How do we get the information about who our community is? Where do they live? What are they looking for us to do? How do we bring value to them? And how do we find partners that want to provide value back to our community? So how do we find those really interesting partnerships where we can take the Green Wall and OpTic and Envy and work together with those platforms to create really interesting dynamic opportunities together and not try to just have everything operate through our own vertical.Chris Erwin:Well said, something that we talk about at RockWater is the sense of valuing your community and communal ownership. I think that there's been a lot of literature over the past, call it year, particularly as you look at the building of different game franchises, where these users, their engagements, all the dollars that they spend on the games, all their engagement that can drive advertising revenues, right? And in-game purchases, the value that they create for a few stakeholders or investors or game owners, and it really gets siphoned to just a few. So the question then becomes, "Well, how do you reward the community for all the value that they're creating?" And I think there's actually a much bigger win there where if there's more of that two-way street, in terms of value sharing, the overall pie gets a lot bigger and everyone can win. And so I think that's a really, really smart mentality.Chris Erwin:Adam, I'll close it out with this before we get the rapid-fire. I just want to give you some kudos here. I think we were first introduced when I was probably at Big Frame and Awesomeness. So this is probably around maybe like 2015 to 2017 timeframe.Adam Rymer:Wow.Chris Erwin:And I know dating us a bit. And I just remember when I met you, you were running Nerdist and Legendary Networks at the time. I was like, "This is a guy who's a super sharp operator." He totally gets it. He's got both sides of his brain activating. I very much thought on the business side, on the creative side, I thought you really understood talent. You knew traditional entertainment, you knew digital. And I thought you were a very, very special mind and operator. And I remember when you were in your, what I call here in my notes, the exploration phase. So like after Nerdist and before you went to Envy Gaming, I think there was a period where you are wondering what really excites you. What's really going to get you going. And I think a lot of things that come across your plate that you weren't too thrilled about. And I just knew, I mean, I don't know if I ever shared this with you the right thing's going to come across Adam's desk and he's going to crush it. And it's going to be a really exciting moment for his career. Now I look back at all the success that you've had with Envy over the past, less than a couple years, and I am not surprised whatsoever. And I can't wait to see what you do there over the next two to three years. So I wanted to just share that with you.Adam Rymer:Thank you, my friend. It was definitely an adventure after leaving Legendary. There were points where I felt like I just needed to take something for the sake of taking something. I will wholeheartedly recommend people holding out for as long as you possibly can to find the right thing that feels right. If you can. Obviously don't sacrifice your family in your future and all those kinds of things. But if you can find the right thing, it definitely pays off.Chris Erwin:Very well said. All right, Adam. So we're going to get into the rapid-fire six questions. The rules are simple. It is short answer one sentence, or maybe just a couple of words. Do you understand the rules?Adam Rymer:I think so.Chris Erwin:All right. Proudest life moment?Adam Rymer:Birth of my child.Chris Erwin:What do you want to do less of in the second half of 2022?Adam Rymer:Less stress, more outside.Chris Erwin:Less stress, more outside. What one to two things, drive your success?Adam Rymer:Paying attention to everything going on out there.Chris Erwin:Advice for media gaming and Esports execs going into the remainder of this year?Adam Rymer:That's a tough one. Bear with the downside. There's still a huge opportunity in front of all of us, but manage this downside economy at the moment. And there's a bright light, but follow the path.Chris Erwin:Got it. All right. Last couple. Any future startup ambitions? Can you see yourself starting something from scratch in the future?Adam Rymer:For sure. Never a shortage of ideas that I've got. In fact, I think it's probably maybe a problem that I have. I am hopeful that I'll be launching something again sometime soon. We'll see. We'll see. if you got any ideas, send them my way, but yeah, definitely be starting some things soon.Chris Erwin:I think you got enough on your plate. I'm going to hold back on sending you too much, but maybe in a few years time. How can people get in contact with you?Adam Rymer:I'm pretty easy. It's Adam@Envy.ggChris Erwin:Adam. This was a delight. Thanks for being on the podcast.Adam Rymer:For sure. Great to be here. Let's do it again sometime.Chris Erwin:All right. That interview was just awesome. I don't think I've interviewed anyone in the gaming space yet to date. And I stand by my point that I think Adam is one of the sharpest minds that's operating at the intersection of content community in commerce. He's been in the business for a really long time who really understands the business fundamentals. And he's got an incredible set of stories. So a real gift to have him on the show, very excited for what he continues to build with OpTic Gaming. Okay. Also, as many of you know RockWater is market research and strategy advisory for the media technology and commerce industries. We've just introduced a new offering, which allows us to work with more partners. It's called RockWater Plus. It's an offering for companies who want an ongoing consulting partner at a low monthly retainer yet who might also need a partner who can flex up for bigger projects.Chris Erwin:So we've worked with a large range of companies from big and small. Big Fortune 50 like Google and YouTube and big cable networks and studios like Viacom, CBS, and Warner Media to a variety of digital publisher, upstarts and retail brands, and more. So with Plus, we do a variety of things. We can have weekly calls to address any immediate business concerns that you have. We can set up KPI dashboards that allow you to make database decisions around how to best operate and grow your business. We can do ad hoc research, ad hoc financial modeling. If you're doing market sizing need to do P&L forecasts or valuations to assess your business before you go out to investors and so much more. So if you're interested in this and you think it could be helpful shoot us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. And then lastly, we always love any feedback on our show. If you have ideas for guests for just feedback on the format, shoot us a note at TCUpod@wearerockwater.com. All right, that's it. Everybody. Thanks for listening.The Come Up is written and hosted by me, Chris Erwin, and is a production of RockWater Industries. Please rate and review this show on Apple podcast and remember to subscribe wherever you listen to our show. And if you really dig us, feel free to forward The Come Up to a friend. 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In this episode, hosts Katherine Troyer and Toni Tresca discuss a classic that is also a remake of a classic...the 1979 horror film Nosferatu the Vampyre (German title: Phantom der Nacht). Episode Highlights: We talk about the tone-setting (albeit odd) cold opening of the mummies and how, even if--as Toni proves--it is meaningful, Katherine kind of hated it. We explore the ways the film pays homage to as well as deviates from the 1922 film (and the original Dracula narrative), and how Herzog created a film that serves as both a powerful remake and a unique film in its own right. We look at the film's examination of the chaos of a plague/pandemic, the beautiful and haunting shots of rats and empty streets, and the characterization of Lucy. And Katherine suggests that this might be one of the gayest films ev