I’ve got Chris Krimitsos. I actually call him Chris K. It’s a great Greek name. Chris is the Founder of Podfest. He wrote a book. He’s a cool cat. We go into why podcasts exist, why they are only at the beginning, and why you need to be paying attention to the small little puppies of that industry. I enjoyed the interview with Chris. He’s a solid cat. He’s got some smart things to say and it can help you. Enjoy.
Chris, welcome to the show.
Thanks for having me, Steve.
We met due to a mutual friend, Cole and Sanja Hatter over to Thrive in Vegas. You are the Founder of Podfest. Why is there now Podfest? We seem to have seen podcasts appear and then all of a sudden explode and now there’s Podfest. First of all, let’s work backward. Why are podcasts so important now?
It’s right now because of the on-demand technology and people could consume content on-demand as they need to. As YouTube is a printing out celebrities every day of the week in different niches, on-demand audio is having the same renaissance. We were delayed in our growth because the radio served a purpose inside the car for such a long time and people don’t replace their car every year. About every eight years, so it lagged behind on demand video. There are all kinds of niches that are looking for leaders in the on-demand audio space called podcasting and you’re seeing that renaissance. We’re seeing it, Steve, across all platforms. We forget how corporatized audio had become. Do you remember Orson Welles, War of the Worlds?
Yeah.There's no value to distribution anymore. It's all about content. Click To Tweet
There’s no value to distribution anymore. It’s all about content.
A lot of us studied it in history class, some of us experienced it, but this was when they used to do audio dramas and they’d read full-on scripts and people thought UFOs were going to attack their homes and they went into hiding. This is a real case study. That was the beginning of the radio. Back then, they didn’t know how to monetize it and they know how to use it. What’s interesting, Steve, I see a renaissance in what’s called audio dramas. It’s the same concept. Scripted, fictional, serialized content is experiencing a renaissance again and there are people literally that are getting hundreds of millions of downloads of scripted content that they’re throwing up on audio. Hollywood has taken notice. They’re picking up many of these podcasts and making them into series on different platforms. There’s no value to distribution anymore. It’s all about content, so you’re going to see an explosion even more so than what we’ve already seen. Steve, I’m assuming you’ve done media. Have you done traditional media when you go into the local TV station and stuff like that?
I did but I learned early on that a podcast would be more powerful but I did a host of that stuff.
A lot of us did. What’s the first thing you encounter when you show up at the station physically? What do you have to do to get into the building?
You’ve got security to go through, then you’ve got green rooms to get ready.
That’s the point. When we all were growing up, why was there security keeping us out of the content? Back then, distribution was where all the value was. Honestly, Steve, you’re a great communicator so am I, but it didn’t matter. If we got on one of those channels, we had an audience because there was no other competition. Now you tell a young kid that we had to go through security to get access, they’ll laugh at you. They’ll be like, “What are you talking about? I put a green screen in my bedroom, I’m ready to rock. I’m playing video games and I’ve got 100,000 people watching me.” They don’t even understand that concept that we had to go to security to get access to the airwaves. The airwaves to them is free at all times, and they could consume all they want. Remember, consumption’s going to go up precipitously with driverless cars because then we won’t even have to look at the road when we drive. This whole curve, we’re only at the beginning of it. It’s a lifestyle change, changing how people communicate.There's an audience that is almost absolutely waiting for your story or your show. Click To Tweet
Podcasts and a lot of people, for a start, it’s a slight thing in reverse because this content that we’ve been consuming, we’ve been consuming or teaching ourselves of consuming bites. That little 45 to 60 seconds, but predominantly it’s been video especially with things like TikTok, Vine, Instagram Stories. It has been short stories that we’ve been seeing it visually or hearing it. People are reading less and less, but they’re enjoying hearing and they’re enjoying audio. I know we got lazy with a visual, but it’s good to see people are listening more than laying back and literally listening to a story. Is there is any reason why people go more for the audio and visual now?
Honestly, it’s all converging, but the audio, the renaissance, is people are able now to listen to long-form content, which is what you’re talking about. It’s an area that the content creator could create really long stories. A beginning, middle, and end with no interruption. Joe Rogan was talking about this. Joe Rogan’s podcasts are 2 to 3 hours. He said TV had tested back in the day that it had to be this short with a laugh track. That formula does work but what they never tested was long form because it wasn’t profitable for them. That’s allowed a lot of us to create long-form content that people are starving for. At the end of the day, it’s all how you package it. You understand this better than anyone. You package yourself well that you’re in demand. It’s all about how to package what you have that people will consume it and there are a lot of people looking for long-form content, depending on what it is.
My segment of the influencer marketplace is older rather than younger and let me explain what I mean by that. I go to VidCon and Playlist. Those are two video conferences and I go to other conferences. The average age of those conferences is fifteen years, give or take 3 or 4 years up or down. The adults that are there are chaperones. They buy chaperone tickets to be there with their kids. There are few people catering to the eighteen or over demographic, 18 to 55, whatever the ages are. It doesn’t really matter. The adult demographic and that’s kind of who we cater. We cater to that influencer. The person that’s like, “I’ve done this for twenty years. I think I have some value to add to this area. Do you think it would be great for me to create a show or be an audio influencer?” The answer almost always is absolutely. There’s an audience waiting for your story or your show.
I’m 53 and I’m sitting here and I can slightly remember vaguely being fifteen years old. I think the beautiful thing about podcasts and the standing joke is you’ve got a beautiful face for radio. It doesn’t matter on the age anymore. It matters on the content.
The younger kids don’t have the patience yet. Somewhere when they get into college, they get more patient. They watch videos en masse. As you get older, the audio content, it’s more cerebral. You want to learn, you want to ingest. I was at the consult on the first-ever conference for EDU professors at Harvard and they had professors from all over the world come in. Do you know what’s amazing, Steve? They have to figure out how to make the content interesting on top of the fact that they have all this great content and that’s a challenge. All of a sudden, they’re putting ancient Greek texts and Roman times into a podcast format and they have 100,000, 200,000 people all over the world learning at the same time from the highest levels of educational institutions. It’s going to not only improve the intelligence of the whole world, it’s going to bring us all together on this huge journey of increasing what we know and what we could add to the human civilization.
There are a couple of things and then I’d want to go into your Podfest a little bit further on. There are a couple of things that people don’t realize about podcasts. I’m a member and I’m now talking to any entrepreneur out there thinking, “How do I get my brand out to the masses?” I was having this conversation with a successful podcaster, Jordan Harbinger. We were talking about the fact that doing a podcast, setting up your own podcast, is very inexpensive. I’m here with my laptop, I’ve got a Shure 58 mic, I subscribed to SquadCast and I can do a podcast. Setting one up is easy, focusing on the content, things like that, that’s where your effort should be. You meet way more people when you’re on a podcast.
Correct me if you think I’m wrong here. When I was speaking to Jordan and he said, “Steve, I know you want to get on podcasts now because the return is instant.” If you go and get an interview by Forbes, I remember getting interviewed by Forbes, Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal. Your article may not come out for 3 or 4 months. If something happens in the world, suddenly gripping news, your article gets bumped. When it does come out, you’ve got an article in the Wall Street Journal, but there’s no way to spread it.
It’s either a paper content or there may be a condensed version of it online. With a podcast, you can show on all social media and Jordan said to me, “If you really want to get it, stick to the ones that have got great downloads.” I remember listening to that word and go in the opposite way. I had a philosophy about podcasts. I would go on to someone’s podcast if they were breathing and see if they would have me. The joke was I was the original podcast slut. I found that people moved the needle quicker in the niche markets than they did in those with millions of downloads. Do you find that or am I freaking that side?
No, it’s 100% correct. You and I were talking prior to this interview, I published a book called Start Ugly and it did well. My friend who does The Cash Flow Guys, it’s a real estate podcast. He interviewed me about the book. I’ve done a whole bunch of interviews, but his niche is specific and his relationship with his audience is unique. I don’t know how many books they bought because I don’t know how to track it. All I know is my book went to the top 200 within 48 hours of his episode being released. We were down to five books to selling out the second printing but I could track it down it was his podcast that did it. I’ve been on much bigger shows that don’t have the same relationship he does with his audience. I couldn’t agree with you more.
If you have someone that has like the limo driving business podcast and they only have 200 downloads, that’s a show I want to be on because those 200 people are listening to everything that an individual is telling them and that is a great show to be on. Those niche shows are phenomenal. I asked Mike Michalowicz of Profit First. He has that book. He does a lot of interviews. He says the same exact thing. He says, “It’s those small little niche audiences with the unique relationship with the host always moves the needle in book sales. I’ve seen it every day of the week.”
Why did you do Podfest and what does it do? You’re doing 2021, correct?
We grew the community by focusing on our attendees and their experience. The experience was paramount to us in the community over having great speakers. We always had the best speakers, but big-name speakers, we didn’t focus on that. We focused on the community and the experience. We’re going to have close to 1,800 people and it gives me a lot of pride to help the next generation of content creators and watching them succeed in creating an environment that allows for excellence. I always say to people, “We treat our speakers and our attendees equally well. There is no distinction on who’s going to get treated better.” I think that’s a huge fail that a lot of promoters do. Both parties get treated with white-glove service. That being said, we do have a lot higher levels like VIP and inner circle and they do get added perks because they’re investing more money into the conference. Everybody across the board gets treated like family and the team that we’ve built up over the years.
In the future, we have Vidfest that we incubate, which is a YouTube conference at Podfest. That’ll be spun off on its own. We’re doing live event profits, which is for influencers learning how to do their own live events and be successful at it. We have a lot of different things that we’re doing and I consulted on cheap podcast live first ever. Independently owned brand for females. There will be in Phoenix later on. Any of those things would be great. You look them up, they’re all great things. Join the communities, there are Facebook groups for all of them. Our group has Podfest. Be part of it and we’ll help you along your journey as a content creator.
That was going to be my question. Is this for people that are thinking of getting into doing a podcast or for people that are thinking of appearing on one or for both?It's always better to be discovered and promoted. Click To Tweet
All three. You mentioned three people. We have a beginner track for beginners. People already have one that wants to grow. We have an audience-building track and then we have people that want to learn how to utilize being professional. I call it professional guesting, having a strategy of how to be a guest and do it right. We have a lot of training in that area. The professional guests start their own podcasts almost always if they do well with it because then they want to establish their own home base, but it’s a great way to get started. I always tell people, “If I said to you twenty years ago everybody you hear on the radio or on TV is in a room where you can meet them personally, would you not run to that room?” That’s what’s happening. We have 1,800 content creators. You don’t know who’s going to be the next big mouthpiece with a huge audience. Meet them all, make friends, and then content creators, which is a huge value to whatever endeavors you’re trying to do.
One thing I want to bring up is the beautiful thing about podcasts is when you subscribe, no matter where your episode, I’m talking about the person that was on the podcast. If I was on podcast episode three and someone was fantastic on podcast episode ten and you subscribed to that series, you would get me on your downloads. The beautiful thing about podcasts, I’ve been popping up in people’s feeds where people have gone, “My buddy was on a podcast,” or “I was listening to this subject matter. When I downloaded it and I was running all the episodes, I came across you.” It’s constant. It’s like the same article being thrust in people’s faces time and time again. It’s evergreen. It’s beautiful.
I always tell people it’s one of my favorite things. If you have a good show or the show notes, a lot of people don’t know what that is, but they literally put notes on their website with a link back to your things. Imagine having 100 of those. It spreads your message. My wife has Women’s Meditation. It’s a guided meditation. I go when my wife is sleeping. There are 2,000 people that are downloading what she did a week ago, every day. The impact of that is tremendous. Imagine if you’re on a show and that podcast hits big and now everybody that’s subscribing is looking at the back catalog. You’re being marketed every day. That person is ingesting you because they’re choosing to listen. That’s the best marketing that you could ever ask for. They’re finding you instead of you having to advertise to get them.
It’s always better to be discovered and promoted. I want to talk about your book because it’s quirky, it’s fun, it’s got a great point. The first question is, why did you write a book?
I wanted to do what I do in my event space naturally like what I was doing at calls. To have a book someone could then pay it forward to someone else. My objective with my book is to sell one million copies and I’m on my way. I was very intentional about what that book had to be in and it’s 99 pages. It’s an easy read. A ten-year-old could read it. I took all complex words out of it and it’s a 100-year-old case study talking about innovation and change. I wanted it to go to all kinds of people, young and old, to see this example and learn from it in this day and age. It’s a parable. It’s a story, so it’s unique in that it follows the who moved my cheese model and it’s very simple, and people love it. We’ve already gotten 55 five-star reviews on Amazon and growing, so it’s been amazing.
Give us a rundown on the book.
The book is about a gentleman in the early 1900s that wants to start a lumber mill and he wants to innovate the lumber mill on Manhattan Island. He creates an R&D facility. He starts measuring the swing of the lumberjack’s axes, how they swing it. He provides them assistance. He then gives them days off to replenish their strength and even has an R&D lab to make sharper, lighter axes. The young man he hires, his name is Jeffrey, to do the R&D lab. One day, he is riding his bicycle into Manhattan Island into the lumber mill and they had put down brand new telephone poles. He ran aground into a telephone pole and his bike chain got caught up on it. When he got in, he started thinking about creating a bicycle chain with teeth and seeing if it could cut through wood. His boss, Mr. Sharp, said, “Son, I hired you to make me a lighter, sharper ax. Do me a favor, don’t waste time on a bicycle chain. That sauce, it will never happen.” Long story short, Mr. Sharp gets three warnings of people telling him you should pay attention to what this kid is doing. He eventually fires the kid after a failed prototype and gives him all rights to his waster parts, as Mr. Sharp would call it. He says, “You could have your waster parts,” and gives him two weeks’ pay, which in 1900 is revolutionary. The kid winds up getting an investor and almost puts Mr. Sharp out of business.
The story has a great end, but it’s a nice short story about dealing with change. What I’ve learned is the people that are successful in life are the ones that are willing to start ugly and then perfectly execute along the way. What happens is success tends to trap many of us and we plateau. We’re afraid to start ugly again because we have an image of ourselves. Other people have an image of us that we’re afraid to experiment again and that actually limits our growth. If you look at the greatest innovators of our time, Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, look at Sara Blakely with Spanx. They’re not afraid to innovate over and over again and start ugly and that’s why they become successful. They also perfectly execute as they start ugly. Too many people start ugly and stay ugly and that’s part of their problem. That’s why they haven’t improved on the original prototype, whatever it is. That’s the philosophy and the book was made as a collectible to sit on your bookshelf, to stare back at you, to increase your productivity. When you have the word start ugly staring back at you, it robbed you of your excuses.
I want to make it clear, Start Ugly is the name of the book. Where can we get that book?
Go on Amazon. I think we have a handful left for the next printing that is still available and then it will go into our next printing. We’re on our way selling out our second printing. It’s the only book of its kind. It’s a Post-it note that says Start Ugly and the story is amazing. It’s a 40-minute read. If you’re a slow reader, it’s 1 hour and 5 minutes. It’s a short read and easy. There are a lot of visuals. We made it for people that want a story to grab onto, to get out of their own way. The book has helped me double my conference size because we launched micro cons. We’re incubating ten different conferences at Podfest and then we’re going to spin them off. It’s Start Ugly because we didn’t have the systems, we didn’t know what the systems were. We’re discovering how to do the systems right. The team and I are going to suffer a little bit, some extra hours and figuring it out but we started ugly. We know what to do and we know that what we started will double our attendance numbers next time to anywhere to 3 to 3,500 attendees.
Are you going to do an audio version of the book?
I’m doing a scaled launch. The next thing is we’re going to do a Kindle version. I’m going to spend some extra time. The book is short, I have to create more content for the audio version. Otherwise it would be 45-minute audio. We’ll create a special audio series and we’ll launch that out. We’re excited. We’ve already sold 1,000 copies. People are buying them for their retreats. Consultants are buying them for their clients because sometimes you can’t tell someone to start ugly. It’s good for them to read the book and then, “Let’s discuss what we saw in this.” I always love when a successful business owner says, “I already started. I don’t need this.” I’m like, “It’s funny you should say that. It’s about a successful business owner that can’t get out of their own way.”
Steve, you’ll appreciate this. I do a lot of speaking on it and a surgeon says to me, “I have trouble with this idea.” I go, “Why is that?” He goes, “We can’t start ugly on you when we’re in surgery.” I said, “Yes, but the book is about innovation. How did your surgery ever come about?” He smiled and goes, “You’re right. Okay.” “All those surgeries have to start ugly somewhere. There had to be a guinea pig somewhere along the line in order to protect it.” He laughed. He goes, “You got me.” He goes, “You’ve got a good point.” I go, “I’m not telling you to start ugly on the patient now, but if you want to innovate what you’re doing, someone’s got to start off with somewhere along the way.”
The story is a fictional story, isn’t it?
A lot of people think it’s real, but I made it up and I deal with many business owners, you can almost hear the language, so it’s real.
As I was listening to your story before about someone being bought along with the concept of new technology and then the old guard ignoring it, it was straight away making me think of Kodak. A lot of people don’t realize that it was Kodak that invented the digital camera and then discarded it thinking it was a novelty and they’re not quite happy about that now.
Steve, the examples of what you said are endless. We do have some case studies in the back of the book like what you’re talking about. Sears was a catalog company. What’s Amazon? It’s an internet catalog company. Why didn’t Sears beat them to market? They got lazy.
It’s also great that one of the concepts that I want to come and draw attention to it is the fact that you use each one of your platforms, whether it be the audiobook, the book, the Podfest, podcast. You use them to link to others. We’re in a society where it’s not a one and done philosophy. Your book helps perpetuate your podcast. It helps perpetuate your following and there’s a lot of that integration that people need to be thinking about. You don’t do a podcast. You do a podcast, it could potentially have your book deal with it and you could have a speaking gig with it. People need to think that there are other things you can use to get away from or to come above and get onto other platforms and you’re using them a lot.The people that are successful in life are the ones that are willing to start ugly and then perfectly execute along the way. Click To Tweet
We made a documentary film about podcasting. It’s called The Messengers. It’s a podcast documentary. We made a full-length documentary film and we had distribution out of LA. We took it off and put it up on YouTube free for everybody to see. When you see the quality of the film, it costs about $50,000 to make the film. We travel all over the world, but we have different things for each platform. For me, I had to ask myself, “What’s the tie in on everything I do?” The tie in as I want people to achieve greatness in whatever it is that they want to and I use vehicles like Start Ugly, Podfest, live event profits to help content creators. For me, I like dealing with creatives. Content creators, especially ones that have a business background, helping them achieve greatness by growing their audiences. That’s what gives me a lot of pride. You’re right, everything that I have, if you look at it, that’s the common thread across the spectrum.
For a lot of people that have known me from an early stage and I still use it now, one of my original websites was Ugly Sims. If you go to UglySims.com, it will boot you over to me. The reason that we did that was moved over to the Steve D. Sims website, was quite simply my book publishers at the time didn’t like me having a phone to myself in an ugly fashion. I wasn’t offended because I looked at the way that you’ve said about how you got to get ugly to get things going. They didn’t like it, so I had to change the domain. It’s a small world. How do we get more of you?
Look me up on social media. I have ChrisKrimitsos.com or if you go to the Podfest, I’m linked to all of that, so I’m not hard to find. Hit me up, send me a DM on whatever your favorite platform is. I’m on most of them at all times, checking things on a weekly basis. If you want to send me an email, Chris@PodfestExpo.com. Feel free to email me. I love to interact with people. It’s one of my passions. My wife is always like, “I don’t know how you do it.” She goes, “You talk to all these amazing people.” If I go on vacation, I want to go on vacation with my friends or meet people I already know there. I know that about me. I like new places, but I like doing it with other people. I’m an extrovert at the highest level.
Chris, it’s been great. It’s been enlightening. I want people to do two things. I want people to start paying attention to podcasts if they are not. Not only as a guest, if you’ve got an interest in the story, but also set your own podcasts up. I think Podfest may be the place, may be a cool way to find a little bit more about it. Make sure you’re on there. I’m thrilled about the book as well, and I quite honestly can’t wait to read the thing.
Thank you, Steve, and I appreciate your hospitality inviting me on and having me on the show. It means a lot. I appreciate it.
Look after yourself and no doubt I’ll see you on a stage somewhere soon.
We’ll run into each other. Be good.