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007: The Long Game Podcast: Lessons in Risk, Game Theory, and Winning at Marketing with Bill King

Lessons in Risk, Game Theory, and Winning at Marketing with Bill King

Bill King is the Director of Marketing at Frase, an artificial intelligence platform that helps growth teams drive organic traffic and improve conversion rates with integrated SEO and on-site search tools. 

Bill is a former professional poker player turned marketer. 

He met Alex on Twitter and they’ve gotten along swimmingly since. They share interests in esoteric matters such as decision theory, game theory, experimentation, SEO & content marketing, meditation, sailing and music. 

They both played in bands and seriously considered music as a career. 

In this episode, they cover these topics and discuss Bill’s career arch. Throughout this podcast there are a million gold nuggets that you can take away and use to change how you view work and decision making, especially if you’re in SEO, content marketing, or any acquisition related work. Enjoy!

The Long Game is hosted by Alex Birkett and David Ly Khim who co-founded Omniscient Digital to help companies ranging from early-state to scale-ups with growth strategy, SEO, and content marketing. Allie Decker, Head of Content, joins the conversation as well.

Connect with Bill on his website and on Twitter.

Listen to the podcast

Watch the video

Scan the transcript

[00:00:00] Alex: [00:00:00] Hello, this is Alex Birkett, and you’re listening to the long game podcast today. We’re talking to bill King. Bill is a friend of mine. We met on Twitter and have gotten along swimmingly ever since he and I share many interests in such esoteric matters as decision theory and game theory and experimentation.

[00:00:19] SEO and content marketing, meditation, sailing, and music. We actually both played in bands and seriously considered music as a career. We cover some of these things today, as well as chatting through Bill’s career arc with his most recent position, being the director of marketing at phrase, in my opinion, this was an incredibly fun conversation.

[00:00:39] And if you listen carefully, you’ll find a million gold nuggets that you can take away and use to change how you view work. And decision-making, especially if you’re an SEO content marketing or any acquisition related work. Without further ado. Here’s my conversation with bill King.

[00:01:07] [00:01:00] actually, I want to ask more about the Boston thing, even though it’s not really related to content marketing, which I’m sure we’ll just naturally stumble upon that. Um, in addition to all the other stuff, We’ve talked about in the past, your background in poker and like your lessons you’ve taken from that.

[00:01:21] But, um, in terms of Boston, we talked to David  on the podcast and he moved to Midean, um, based on like a lot of factors, super beautiful there, but like he found his balance of creativity was the best there because they work on event time and not. Calendar time. But in his book, he also mentioned the Chicago, he lived in Chicago and Chicago is conducive for him because it had sort of natural seasons.

[00:01:47] So in the summertime it’s very like boisterous and everybody’s partying and like outdoors and it’s, it’s kind of his relaxation season. And he looked at winter, uh, cause it’s so miserable as essentially the time that he would plug in, get [00:02:00] shit done, go heads down and do all of this writing design. Do you feel that even though Boston has that.

[00:02:05] Miserable winter. Do you think there’s some upside to that too? Or is it just completely, you know, seasonal, effective disorder and like February comes, you don’t even want to work? 

[00:02:16] Bill: [00:02:16] I don’t know. For me, I’m a, I’m a, I’m a routine person. Like, um, I think a lot about like setting good habits that I can follow day in and day out.

[00:02:26] And, um, for me, like the seasonality is nice. I think for a change of pace, I guess that’s like the, the line of thinking everybody uses. But I think for me, like I need to stay focused on what it is that I want to do. And so like when it gets freezing out, it just puts more barriers in the way of the things I want to do, like go out for a jog and you know what I mean?

[00:02:45] It’s like, it puts more friction into the places where I don’t want friction. Now that could just be me being an ultimate excuse maker, which is a hundred percent possible. That’s in the range of things. That could be the answer for that, for that, for that [00:03:00] question. But um, to me, I always think like, how do I make it easier for me to hit the goals that I want and what, and, you know, part of those goals are there’s work goals.

[00:03:09] There’s like personal health and wellness goals and stuff like that. And so, um, while I think that the seasons are valuable because it’s good to change up your. Surroundings that I do believe in the idea that, um, There’s this like mental, I think we’ve talked to this before, like off of podcast time, but we’ve talked about like the idea of habit loops and getting into these really important patterns for me.

[00:03:34] I actually like the idea of getting into patterns for things that I. That I want to drive towards. And then the seasons somewhat impact that, especially on like the health and like just exercise side of things. Cause it’s, you know, when it’s three, three degrees outside, it’s pretty tough to motivate yourself to go outside and take a run.

[00:03:52] You know what I mean? So, yeah, as 

[00:03:53] Alex: [00:03:53] an exercise for me has been the biggest one since moving to Austin where all through the winter it’s actually. It’s 60 degrees today and [00:04:00] sunny, it’s better weather than the summer to actually exercise. So I’ve maintained much more health and wellness in that regard. Um, it’s sort of like automating things, right?

[00:04:08] Like, you know, at a given time, on a given day, you’re going to go to the gym or you’re going to go for a run. And like, it just sort of becomes like a background thing as opposed to like you making that conscious choice every day. That’s right. So are you into sort of, uh, routinization uh, habits with, with work stuff too?

[00:04:23] Do you have like a set schedule every day, every week that you kind of rely on. 

[00:04:28] Bill: [00:04:28] Yep. Yep. Yep. I’ve uh, I’ve experimented a lot with it. I’m just like everybody else. I’m not sure if you’ve read the book when I think it’s Daniel Pink’s book, 

[00:04:37] Alex: [00:04:37] I’ve heard good 

[00:04:37] Bill: [00:04:37] things. Yeah. So that kind of confirmed the things that I’d already noticed about myself, that there are sort of like peak areas of my day where I’m, I’m functioning high at a high level from creativity, or just from a general productivity standpoint, it’s usually between like eight to 11.

[00:04:54] 1130 ish or so. So I try to put the most important things that I want to get accomplished in [00:05:00] that time of the day. 

[00:05:01] Alex: [00:05:01] Is that going to be deep work, kind of, uh, production-related stuff. Yep. 

[00:05:05] Bill: [00:05:05] Yeah. It’s like, uh, because right now we’re early stage, a lot of like process and just general systems aren’t set up.

[00:05:12] So I try to reserve that time for those things to think about how do we get the most out of the resources we have. Um, and I’ll usually reserve my meetings for after like after 12 or one o’clock, um, not because those aren’t important, but because I wanna, I wanna manage my thinking time. Um, and the other thing too is, uh, taking breaks, like.

[00:05:34] Because I worked from home before with the poker thing, I’ve learned that if you do not like, sort of coach yourself to good behaviors, you’ll just do whatever your instinct is, which is usually not the most optimal way to run your day. So I’ll put in like a good amount, you know, like in the morning I get a reminder on the phone at eight to do some meditation.

[00:05:53] So I do 15 minutes of meditation. And then usually like five ish, six ish. I’ll take a break, no matter what. I’m [00:06:00] working on just to take a walk and get some fresh air kind of refresh the mind. But yeah, I think it’s really important to, to manage yourself and I’m sure that people are realizing that that has never sort of been forced to do that before the, the pain them are now realizing how important it is to manage your day, because I’m going every single day in your house with just loaded up on coffee is a surefire way to burn yourself out.

[00:06:21] Alex: [00:06:21] Hmm. Yeah. Frenetic anxiety throughout the day. You’re never fully productive and you’re never fully relaxed. Even though I had been working remote for a long time, I’ve fallen into that trap during the pandemic too, because I had these bookends. You’re like these. Uh, recalibrations throughout the day, like I would wake up and, you know, do my meditation, do my morning routine, get into a workflow of like deep work.

[00:06:43] And then I would do coffee shops and I would kind of get out of the house and that would sort of break up the routine. And by the time I was done, like, I’d come home and that would signal the relaxation. But now I’ve been forced to like, create new, I guess, new routines, new bookends, uh, in that regard.

[00:06:58] Bill: [00:06:58] Yeah. I got like a salt lamp in my [00:07:00] room and I usually like only. Like that up at night. So I know that when I leave my office, it’s like, that’s the chills zone. That’s where like, reading is done. I keep the TV off. Um, those are just little examples. I know people that go to the extreme in those things, but, um, but you know, the, the, the days are passing.

[00:07:17] I mean, like we, I think we went home for the pandemic. Must’ve been a week before March. So it’s almost a year now. And, uh, you know, it’s like any other thing, if you’re going to set habits, you have to be intentional about what it is that you want to do with your time. 

[00:07:34] Alex: [00:07:34] So that intentionality, I totally agree with.

[00:07:36] One thing that I’ve struggled with is, um, Uh, I can have my individual productivity and routines in place, uh, locked down, but the external world puts a throws a wrench in that, especially at large companies. And you’ve worked at all different sizes of companies, HubSpot drift. And now this startup, do you find that it’s easier?

[00:07:55] Do you find it’s different? Um, maintaining a schedule like that clearing your schedule in the morning is something that I would [00:08:00] love to do. And some days I just. Can’t because I have people in Ireland or whatever. So have you, have you had to change your routine? Is it like more optimal now or like what’s the difference between different companies?

[00:08:09] Bill: [00:08:09] Yeah. I mean, obviously you have, you have a lot more people depending on you when you’re in a larger, you know, a larger org. Um, and so ultimately you don’t really control your, your day as much as you do when you’re, um, when you’re the person kind of leading the team. But with, with that responsibility comes a lot of.

[00:08:28] Things, you also have to think about, um, like I’m less managing now to people’s schedule and what they want of me. And I’m more like thinking, how do I maximize my time and my output? Because again, we’re, we’re a small company. We’ve, you know, we’ve, we only have so many bullets in the, in the bank. And so we need to be, we need to be optimizing for the best outcome, not necessarily the most agreeable outcome.

[00:08:51] And I think that’s, that’s something that. I thought a lot about, because one of my like downsides is not being able to say no to things. [00:09:00] And, um, that’s a real problem. Like I always want to help everybody. I want to get involved in the things, but when you’re six people and you can’t say, Hey, What is the most important thing I need to do today?

[00:09:11] That’s going to help us grow for tomorrow in the, in the day after if you’re not super, super clear on that, then you should probably take some time away from work and think about what that is because, uh, just doing whatever comes first to mind, I think is a mistake that, um, becomes more prevalent at smaller companies than it does bigger ones.

[00:09:28] So, you know, bigger companies, you can be in meetings all day. The company’s got plenty of runway, you know, you might, your, your goals might be short, but like, There isn’t quite the amount of pressure that there is when you’re in a smaller company. And you know that every minute does count. 

[00:09:41] Alex: [00:09:41] I love that. So my experience in startups is the exact same where, uh, my bosses would always check me and be like, Hey, is what you’re working on.

[00:09:48] The most important thing you can be working on? Not is it important or is it useful? Is it the most important thing? Because if you’re wasting time, if you’re prioritizing incorrectly, that waste of dollar means a lot more at the startup [00:10:00] stage, whereas a large company, if you. You know, spend additional time in meetings.

[00:10:04] If you spend additional time working on something that’s not fully optimal. I think the best possible thing it’s barely noticeable, but at a startup that can, that can kill ya. You know? 

[00:10:13] Bill: [00:10:13] Yeah, definitely. I mean, especially with us, because we we’re at such a low price point and um, the other temptation is to like, I was a customer of this company and I’m kind of the target buyer.

[00:10:23] So a lot of questions about what should we build? Why, what are some feature adjustments we should make, which is exciting. And I love being brought into those things. But I learned the first few weeks that wow. Time is flying by and I need to pick what I put my attention on and when I’m super important.

[00:10:44] So I’m definitely 

[00:10:44] Alex: [00:10:44] going to ask how you choose to place your time and attention on something and how you prioritize. But first, um, you’re the director of marketing at 

[00:10:52] Bill: [00:10:52] phrase that’s right. Yup. 

[00:10:55] Alex: [00:10:55] What do you do all day as a director 

[00:10:57] Bill: [00:10:57] of marketing? That’s a good question. So [00:11:00] anything that involves, uh, the brand, the design, the positioning, the acquisition, um, I also work on things like how do we reduce churn, et cetera.

[00:11:13] We have a team. We have basically, we have. Sort of like for inputs to how the company grows. We have, we have a head of sales. We have a head of growth, the CEO and myself. And so each of us have our defined OKR is like, we have retention goals for the head of growth. We have acquisition goals for me, but we oftentimes do blend across a couple of different things because some of us have expertise that others do not.

[00:11:37] So we always compliment each other in that way. But ultimately my, my, like, At the end of this quarter, the success or failure of my job is driving traffic and signups for the, for the platform. 

[00:11:46] Alex: [00:11:46] Yours is getting people in the door and the head of growth sounds more product related, figuring out which features are going to cause people to stick around for longer, tell their friends, et cetera, 

[00:11:54] Bill: [00:11:54] et cetera.

[00:11:55] Exactly. Yeah. So Matt, Matt, um, that’s great. He came from forum labs [00:12:00] and, uh, he’s been at Techstars before, so he, he gets the, the small business, uh, you know, mindset and, um, yeah, so we have do, we, we do have crossover, like a good example is. We built a feature where you could basically, um, look at a template to do some content optimization, um, and pull it right into the product and start using it.

[00:12:20] Now those are indexable. So they’re an asset we’re going to use to draw in traffic, but they’re also part of like the overall loops of the system and how we grow. So that was a project we both worked on, but it impacts both of our, our goals. That makes sense. 

[00:12:34] Alex: [00:12:34] Uh, real quick. Can we back up and, um, can you pitch me phrase, uh, what does phrase do?

[00:12:39] Um, I know we, we use it at the agency, but pretend let’s, uh, you know, it was a fresh one. Yeah. 

[00:12:46] Bill: [00:12:46] So everybody knows phrase, uh, the people who know about phrase. No. What about the ability to optimize your content for search engines? Um, but th the general premise that the company was built on is that today we’re in a, what is called an answer economy.

[00:12:59] Where people [00:13:00] want answers quickly and easily. And so, um, we help people drive traffic from search engines by optimizing their content for. Voice search for featured snippets for long form content, all the types of things that, uh, that are great for, for traffic growth. On the other side of the business we have in artificial intelligence product that basically accelerates the path from when somebody lands on a landing page to the point that they become a customer.

[00:13:26] So some use cases of that are, um, and to be more specific. So. Basically the, the, the bot crawls your website and creates a Google like index of your content so that when somebody comes to the site from that article, you just created, they then have follow-up questions naturally. So if you wrote a post about like, let’s say, like AB testing, right?

[00:13:48] Maybe one of the, um, maybe somebody lands on that because there’ll a beginner in AB testing, they have natural followup questions, like how to run an experiment, how to et cetera from the content. And so. Most [00:14:00] websites are not designed very well for these types of paths. They have, uh, they’re very heavy on architecture.

[00:14:06] They’re heavy on links. They’re heavy on CTS, but what this does, is it, it, it knows everything about your website’s content and proactively suggest next steps or next, next question, so that you can drive people deeper into your site. Okay. Because 

[00:14:20] Alex: [00:14:20] that’s like a recommendation engine. So if I land, is it just blog posts?

[00:14:24] So if I land on a blog post, like what is. Customer churn. Um, then that’s pretty high intent or, I mean, high, uh, Sorry top of the funnel. Um, and this is something that’s going to suggest to me the next sequential article, essentially in that customer journey to get me further and further bottom funnel to the point at which I’m like, all right, I know what customer turn is.

[00:14:44] And now I understand that there’s tools that can help me reduce customer churn. Is that sort of the gist of it? 

[00:14:49] Bill: [00:14:49] That’s one application. So a good example, like that would be a top of funnel example where you’re looking to acquire people from one piece of content to the deeper in the funnel, but you can also index your help [00:15:00] articles, your technical docs, your, uh, you know, anything related to the best use cases about your product.

[00:15:06] Um, you can put the bot anywhere that is, you know, has a live URL. Um, and you can also index any live content that is indexable. Either through, um, like a site map file or crawling the site manually. Um, we give everybody the flexibility to basically create the experience they want. Could this be like 

[00:15:26] Alex: [00:15:26] a conversion optimization tool as well in that you could put it on like a pricing page or like a whatever landing page that people typically have questions maybe it’s like, does this integrate with MailChimp?

[00:15:36] Does this trip, you know, all that stuff, it seems like it could answer some of those questions right before the purchase as well. Yeah, 

[00:15:43] Bill: [00:15:43] totally. Yeah. The, the nice part about us too is, you know, it operates similar similarly, like search site search where, uh, you know, if let’s say the pricing example, um, there might be a thousand questions asking you a pricing page.

[00:15:54] So what phrase does, is it clusters the questions by topic? And so on the [00:16:00] back end, you can say, okay, What’s my strategy here. People are asking these questions about pricing. Um, I can work some of those into the page content. I can train customer responses from the bot where I don’t want that to be public indexable on the page, but it’s a critical question to how somebody, uh, would convert or not.

[00:16:18] Um, we give you sort of like the flexibility to optimize the experience depending on how you want to go about it. 

[00:16:24] Alex: [00:16:24] Mm. So now, now that I hear it like this, it’s this mixture of like SEO optimization and CRO kind of optimization, it seems. Like if this role found you kind of seems like a perfect match.

[00:16:36] Bill: [00:16:36] That’s actually, so the, the story of how I found out about the company, I, uh, I sent a tweet out and I was, you know, I was still running a CEO and an acquisition at drift, and I’m like, I’m drowning in content operations. Like, how do I help the team scale up? Because you build an editorial sheet, all your keywords are in there, your titles, et cetera, you send it off to your team.

[00:16:54] Ultimately what happens is the content comes back, not the way that you expected, and everybody can relate to that. Who an SEO, right? [00:17:00] So I started writing these really detailed content briefs to basically give people really good guidelines. Like here’s, especially, you know, in the space we’re in, you know, th the drift is in like that’s a highly competitive, uh, space and content quality is super important.

[00:17:17] So I was, I was looking for a solution that would help me kind of scrape all of the right data sources. So I could quickly create these briefs to scale up and found that phrase actually does that as well. So I’m using it and I’m talking to the CEO and I’m getting real excited about it. And you know, and I’m also on customer calls while I’m at, at drift.

[00:17:37] And I’m thinking, man, some of the questions they’re asking about just getting people quicker to the destination on their site, but do it in a, in a conversational, engaging way. What, like, it seems a lot easier to do that with this technology, which actually understands your website content, versus it being almost like a.

[00:17:57] Decision tree, like fragmented kind of [00:18:00] like experience where you have to do it manually. Um, just an interesting take on how to understand a website and drive people deeper. So I, uh, I, I watched them develop this product while I’m using it on the, on for, for our content operations. And I’m like, I get it.

[00:18:15] Now, the light bulb went off to me that this is basically a way to pre-train the AI model versus starting from scratch. And there are great sites that could use this big site with a lot of content who have a great knowledge graph for it to learn. And that’s, that’s how I got really pumped about it. It sounds 

[00:18:33] Alex: [00:18:33] like it starting from a place of, uh, uh, humility or ignorance instead of like, I find a lot of marketers with personas and customer journeys.

[00:18:44] Seem to know everything. It’s like, Oh, Hey, this blog post. And then we got to put this CTA for this next blog post. And this follows up with the landing page offer for this ebook. And it’s sort of orchestrated from the top down, but I don’t think anybody ever second guesses that and says like, is this [00:19:00] the proper customer journey?

[00:19:01] Is this the way the rebel should flow through? And this is sort of a bottoms up way. In saying, like, let’s watch the customer walk through the website and see how they actually like navigate and what sequential content should be, as opposed to planning this out as if you knew what the customer wanted.

[00:19:16] Bill: [00:19:16] Yeah. Th I think the, the gold is the data. Like if you could somehow go into your customer’s mind and say, I know every question that that person has on this topic on this page, in this entire journey. And we can optimize for that in several ways. We can either answer it directly on the content, you know, that that helps you draw more traffic.

[00:19:37] We can, uh, have follow-up questions that. Get them to the next stage in their journey. Um, a lot of those other approaches are great, but they’re really hypothesis driven. Like, Hey. I know Alex, he’s interested in CRO and AB testing. Here’s the things I’m going to put on the site. We’re going to test it.

[00:19:54] We’re going to get your sample size. We’re going to continue to do that. Whereas the opposite is like, [00:20:00] I don’t know what Alex wants. I actually am just going to wait until I collect data. And I can input some of these ideas I have, but ultimately it’s about like, how do we solve for what actually the intent is and get people deeper in the site.

[00:20:13] So it’s just an interesting way to think about it because of the, uh, you know, we’re getting into an era where a lot of these platforms, like they’re just not giving you the data they used to. And so how do you get usually data that’s actually useful can actually impact your conversion rate. So you studied journalism.

[00:20:31] Yes, that was my, my major in school. Yeah. Uh, why? Um, she might, so my, my initial, uh, passion was baseball. I wanted to be a baseball stats and like, you know, I was all into, into, um, the science of baseball. Um, Boston university used to have the sabermetrics seminar, which is like the geeks paradise of the world for baseball.

[00:20:54] You go to Boston university. I didn’t go there. No, but I, but I, um, the conference was held in their, uh, their [00:21:00] science center and, um, they would have Scouts from emboli teams, guys work in the big analytics offices and it was, it was really cool. And I got really into it early on and, uh, like storytelling and math has always been something that I’ve been like attracted to.

[00:21:15] And I’ve noticed that later on in life, I’m like, well, that’s pretty good combination, but it started there. That’s, that’s what I, that’s where I found the love of like telling stories with data. If that makes sense. Yeah. 

[00:21:25] Alex: [00:21:25] W you were a baseball fan. Who was your team? 

[00:21:28] Bill: [00:21:28] I don’t really have a favorite team. I, uh, because of like the, the stats kind of like fought mindset is like, there’s amazing players on this team.

[00:21:37] There’s amazing players on this team. And I grew up in Boston, so that always confuses people quite a bit when I’m like, I don’t really have a favorite team. The red Sox. If they win or lose, I don’t really care, but exactly. Yes. You played against them last week and he was amazing. That’s that’s my, that’s my general idea.

[00:21:55] Alex: [00:21:55] That’s interesting. So the journalism background, uh, the poker background are you, [00:22:00] you’re a Michael Lewis fan. You have to be. 

[00:22:02] Bill: [00:22:02] Yeah, Moneyball. I mean, who hasn’t seen the movie, if you haven’t seen it, Moneyball is fantastic. Definitely it out 

[00:22:07] Alex: [00:22:07] immediately. What I thought of, I was, I was going back and I listened to a bunch of interviews that you had done, um, which was kind of weird because like we talk and our friends, but I was like, Oh yeah, just like going back and listen to the Bill’s interviews.

[00:22:18] But I didn’t know the baseball connection. And I thought that was fascinating. Cause it does now it makes so much sense. In retrospect, the storytelling plus the statistics and data background. 

[00:22:28] Bill: [00:22:28] Yep. Yeah, I, I, um, I had my own blog was called MLB perspectives and then I, I started writing for the cycle fan sided and was doing like player analysis.

[00:22:38] And in the meantime, it just, it was my like creative outlet, you know? And, uh, actually when I went to go apply for a job at HubSpot. I talked more about the baseball blog and driving a subscription and getting a newsletter started, all that stuff on my own. They actually were way more interested in that than they were like, Hey, you went to school for this, or, you know, you’ve done this or that.

[00:22:59] It [00:23:00] was like real world application. And at the time I actually didn’t know that I was doing marketing. I knew nothing about marketing at the time. So I just knew that I wanted to be involved in this space and I wanted to meet people who are interested in, in this, in this stuff. And it just so turned into a career, which I didn’t intend.

[00:23:17] Alex: [00:23:17] When did you start the blog? Was that in college or directly after. 

[00:23:21] Bill: [00:23:21] Yeah, it was in college. I used to, um, I used to go to the, you know, I would sit behind home plate, ask the Scouts questions, they’d be writing their, on their notepads with their radar guns. And when I was a little kid, I would be like, what are those guys doing?

[00:23:31] Like, this is going to be something amazing that they’re doing, but I don’t understand. And so when I got into school, I was like, what do you know? I wanted to, to write, but I wanted to write about something. I love like writing for something that I don’t love is not something I, I was really interest and baseball was, that was that thing for me.

[00:23:49] Yeah, you 

[00:23:49] Alex: [00:23:49] must, you must have had some, uh, example or inspiration to have started a blog like that in maybe you didn’t even call it a blog banner. I don’t know what you thought of it as, but I, I thought [00:24:00] of this, like I was in the music and I wrote for the music magazine in college and wrote some stuff on like music and all that.

[00:24:06] And it sounds similar. Like I looked at it. Not as marketing. I didn’t think about marketing at all. I looked at it just like a journalistic kind of interest based thing. Is that kind of the lens that we’re approaching it from? Like, this is journalism. It’s not like, I don’t know. You’re planning on like monetizing via affiliate or building a membership site.

[00:24:23] Like it was just the. The content, 

[00:24:26] Bill: [00:24:26] the journalists, that’s, that’s a hundred percent. Right. And I actually still see that in the content that you put out today, it’s like, very, like, it’s the way that you break down. Ideas reminds me of like the way I would think about like breaking out a player in baseball.

[00:24:38] It’s like, here’s what it is. Here’s why, like you, you go into these like, like really well thought out sections. And when I was, um, when you, when you write about something you’re passionate about it, it shows in the quality of work. And when you’re, when you’re just starting to launch something, like whether it’s a music blog or, um, a baseball [00:25:00] blog, you can always tell if somebody really, really goes the extra mile in their content, or like has some sort of like, they’ve done their homework, you know?

[00:25:08] Um, I’m sure with music, there’s tons of people who are just pumping out blogs all the time, because they have to, but if you’re doing an interview and you really love that space, I think it comes out in the quality of your content. Yeah. I th 

[00:25:20] Alex: [00:25:20] I think that style of writing is both fulfilling and frustrating because for me, I, I’m never satisfied with like the surface level answer.

[00:25:29] The deconstruction is really like the name of the game. And I asked like, all right, AB testing is important. Why and why, what evidence is there for that? And then I’ll, I’ll dive in deeper layer by layer and be like, well, what is an AB test at its core? It’s like a research method. Well, how does that help you?

[00:25:45] And I’ll just dive deep too, for this layer down of like first principles. And then I realized I’ve spent fucking four months, right. Writing a blog post I’m like what is AB testing? And it should’ve just been published for beginners or something like that. Yeah. And it reminds me of this. Uh, I was [00:26:00] studying German, kind of dropped it since, but I remember coming across this word.

[00:26:03] They have tons of stuff like this, but, uh, passion is translated as like, uh, light and shaft. I believe I might be getting this wrong, but it loosely translates to the craft of suffering. Sorry. I found that to be pretty intriguing. So there was a level I can also 

[00:26:20] Bill: [00:26:20] appreciate the suffer I got back. 

[00:26:22] Alex: [00:26:22] Oh my God.

[00:26:22] Yeah. So to this, there’s, there’s a level of purity that you don’t often see in marketing and SEO content. Do you, do you think there is a dichotomy between that and something that you’re incredibly passionate about versus making work on like a business acquisition level? I mean, a lot of SEO driven content.

[00:26:38] It doesn’t on the surface. It doesn’t seem like a lot of people are really diving deep and deconstructing like a journalist would. 

[00:26:44] Bill: [00:26:44] Yeah, that’s a good question. I think like there’s a, and even at jobs that I’ve, I’ve, I’ve been at, usually when I first start they’re excited, they’re like, Hey, let’s go, you know, we’re gonna, we’re gonna grow our traffic.

[00:26:56] But, um, the thing you have to keep in mind is that the [00:27:00] Internet’s a huge place. Right? So, um, some of the formulaic. Things you see out in the marketplace, um, it feels formulate because maybe you have gone into that content with a pre sort of disposed, like, um, top, you know, a predisposed understanding of the topic.

[00:27:17] And so there are many people just like I was when I first started getting into marketing who don’t know about that topic. And so over the years what’s happened is in order for people to capture. All the intents that people have on a specific topic. What it’s turned into is kind of like this formulaic structure that you quote unquote have to, um, you have to create to, to, to, to draw in that traffic, but like all things with search.

[00:27:46] Um, that’s how it is today. It doesn’t mean that I’ll be like that forever. Um, I think that there are just some sort of rules that you have to understand when you’re creating something for search that there’s a lot of people in this world, and there’s [00:28:00] a lot of different ways somebody could come about a specific topic.

[00:28:03] Um, and it’s super important for you to sort of see from different perspectives. If you’re going to do a really good job on writing for something, understand that, you know, the grandmas in the room that have never heard about this topic might be reading that as well. And people who are really sophisticated might be using.

[00:28:18] That same exact term, but their behavior when they get on that page might be different. Um, writing for passion versus writing for SEO is something I hear folks talk about all the time. I think it really depends on what your goals are for, for what you’re writing about. If you’re writing about search, you need to go into to the understanding that you aren’t writing for yourself.

[00:28:41] You’re writing for the people who are going to read it. And when you take that, like that hat off of like, I feel badly about this and you think more like, how do I make an amazing article that’s going to help the person that I want to help understand this topic? Well, that’s when I think that the light bulb goes off for a lot of writers [00:29:00] who, um, sometimes like, they’ll feel like I don’t get to express my ultimate creativity or like my unique perspective on this, but.

[00:29:08] That’s because you’re looking at an intrinsic way. How do I feel about the content when there are millions of people out there searching for information, if you can really deeply understand what other people want and you can help them achieve that goal, if you have that motivation, I think that’s really important to keep in mind and, um, there’s room for content that doesn’t, it doesn’t align to search, or maybe it’s about creating an opinion that is different from the norm.

[00:29:31] And there’s plenty of places for that type of content. But when you’re, when you’re driving. Uh, search traffic. You have to understand there’s a millions of different types of people out there looking for, um, looking for information. And so you have to, you have to take that hat off for a second and really think about how you can solve their problems.

[00:29:48] Mm. 

[00:29:49] Alex: [00:29:49] Yeah, it’s, it’s some, a way of aligning incentives, I guess like your look Google’s incentives. If you just look at it from a first principle perspective is to keep people on their search engine and searching, [00:30:00] using Google as a search tool. So basically they have to provide value to do that. And for them to provide value, they should be giving the best possible answer to the queries.

[00:30:08] So if you map that, if you like try to align the incentives, like your job is to answer the question that people are asking in the best possible way. And it seems like there’s wiggle room within there. That’s right to say like maybe the top 10 aren’t answering it exactly the best possible way. And like, I can match that expectation.

[00:30:25] Still create the similar format that would be appropriate for answering this query. And then add some on top, add my angle, add my like passion, add like whatever additional context I have. And that’s maybe a way to blend the two worlds, but it seems like you have to start from the perspective that like, this is a query.

[00:30:41] People are expecting something in this format. If it’s what is X, they expect a short answer and like kind of a pithy thing that they can walk away with with, if it’s like how to do X it’s like, you know, steps. I stepped listicle format and it’s like fitting that into that box is important. But then from there, maybe you have 

[00:30:56] Bill: [00:30:56] some wiggle room.

[00:30:58] Yeah. I mean like what [00:31:00] you said is super important. It’s like, what, what are you, what are you trying to do? Um, I there’s so much room for just like mind blowing content that changes your perspective on something, but it depends on, on who you’re speaking to and where they’re at in that, in that journey. Um, if somebody just wants a quick answer, you need to understand that.

[00:31:19] And this is what I love, what you just talked about. Let’s talk about Google’s. Alignment and what they’re focused on, they’re focused on removing friction, getting people quick answers and getting ultimately ad clicks. And part of you optimizing for that experience means that you do have to foot fit your stuff within a certain framework if you want to be successful.

[00:31:41] But if you do that really well, then you get the permission to then tell your story after that. So it’s so important to understand there are rules to this game. And there are certain ways you can optimize your content and I’ll take your content. For example, I’m always championing all the stuff you put out because I think it’s fantastic.

[00:32:00] [00:31:59] That’s a great example of having your own perspective, going deep on a topic, but understanding that there are rules to the game. If you want to be found, you have to play within those rules and you can add your own element to it, which I think is, is probably one of the hardest things to do in content is to take the art and the science of both of those to make it all into one thing.

[00:32:20] Mm, 

[00:32:21] Alex: [00:32:21] a hundred percent. Those have been my hardest pieces. I knew I wanted to rank for brand awareness for some reason, actually that one started as like a query in my own mind because I heard people say, um, Hey, this campaign didn’t succeed in our KPIs, but actually it, you know, got a lot of engagement. So the brand awareness was great.

[00:32:36] And I was like, Whoa, that seems. Not right. Like, I don’t know about that from a data skepticism perspective. So that led to me thinking I should write an article about this and I searched the keywords, you know, like what is brand awareness. So I wanted to fit it within that framework, but to do so, it would’ve been very easy if I could just say, all right, I’m just going to.

[00:32:55] Basically copy what the top 10 has done and maybe add like 200 words, but I couldn’t do [00:33:00] that because I had this purity. So I was trying to blend the two worlds. And that was the hardest possible thing is trying to blend kind of like the passion, the take that I had on it with the answer that people expected, the short pithy thing that was like, what is brand awareness, but yeah, it was impossible.

[00:33:12] Um, but eventually it happened. It took a long time. Right. 

[00:33:16] Bill: [00:33:16] You have to earn the right to get in front of people. And before you can do that, you either pay to do it, or you write something that Google clearly thinks is the best fit for this specific answer. Once you’ve earned that, right, then you can do whatever you want.

[00:33:30] Like, I think it would be a shame if somebody was researching AB testing and didn’t find something you’ve written on it. Cause I feel like the content is really, really good. You have unique perspective on it. So it would be in your best incentives to understand how to take. That perspective and then get it in front of as many people as possible.

[00:33:47] Um, and you know, you can make it easier on yourself. Like a good example is you can write something that you are, you’re going passion first, and then adding the layer of performance on top of it, you can start with [00:34:00] what are people looking for and then add. The more thought provoking content you can do just content.

[00:34:06] That’s just designed for a search and then say, when they get onsite, I’m going to go also show them other content. There’s a lot of different ways you can do it, but you have to, you have to understand that there are rules to the game. And Google has incentives that are different from the content creators, their incentive.

[00:34:21] Like you said, keep them onsite, keep the answers coming and create the best experience possible. And you know what I mean, that loop is going on and on. So, do you consider 

[00:34:32] Alex: [00:34:32] yourself a generalist or a specialist or a T-shaped marketer? Like where do you fit yourself? 

[00:34:38] Bill: [00:34:38] Oh my God. I think that’s definitely gone towards like more of a generalist the past the past, like few months because of, you know, the, the.

[00:34:46] Um, the responsibilities that you have to be the, like the head of marketing at a place. I mean, I actually had a really good conversation with Kevin Indeck, who just went over to Shopify about this. And we were both right before I was deciding whether or not where I wanted to go [00:35:00] next. And I think that, um, I consider myself more of a generalist now, but with the, the weapons to go do specific things.

[00:35:09] That will help the funnel grow like with SEO and, and acquisition. Um, but like, I feel like I’m the most motivated now to do things that I almost didn’t care or appreciate as much about like messaging copywriting, like, you know, like more like stuff that’s more. I don’t want to say fluffy, but like my mind has always been in the data, always like the funnels and thinking that way.

[00:35:32] But as I zoomed out and I’ve seen the other parts of marketing done really well across all these different companies, it’s, it’s opened my eyes up a bit to like, Hey, actually, maybe there is some exciting stuff over here on this other part of marketing. 

[00:35:44] Alex: [00:35:44] Yeah. So following that, this may sound weird. Uh, it’s meant to be a compliment, but, um, You seem like a generalist who maybe accidentally became a specialist.

[00:35:53] Like, I don’t know if you stumbled into SEO, but like your brain, when I talked to you, you sound like somebody who connects patterns [00:36:00] really easily. You obviously have a diverse background on like journalism and, uh, poker and baseball and music, and like all these different interests. And I see you connect them via like different mental models and different frameworks.

[00:36:10] So that, to me, that’s what I do. And I consider myself kind of a generalist in that sense. Yeah, but now I’m wondering like, how did you get it? Cause SEO would be your specialty if you had to say right. SEO content 

[00:36:20] Bill: [00:36:20] potentially paid. Yeah. The acquisition in general. I think it’s, this is the thing I’m like, if I could pick one thing to do for the rest of my life, it would probably be that cause I liked the psychology and the math and all that stuff.

[00:36:32] But, um, but again, like. That go back to the, to the music example, I realized real quick, I would be way better off being an observer than being in a day to day. And once you do it, you realize that same thing with baseball. I realized, Hey bill, you’re five 10. You have no athletic ability. Um, probably time to go write about it then to play it, but you don’t get those like, You don’t get those, uh, learnings until you, you dive in.

[00:37:00] [00:37:00] And I think, I think you also do the same thing. Like you find something you’re passionate about, you go do it. You’re probably like if I fail, what’s the downside. There really isn’t any, you know, like you want to manage to like, What are the things I, uh, I’m really passionate about? What are the things that are just like that, that I can go do.

[00:37:19] And sometimes you fail and sometimes you realize this isn’t quite what I thought it was going to be, but you end up taking something from that and then applying it to other areas that you can potentially benefit from. 

[00:37:30] Alex: [00:37:30] Yeah, I’m still trying to find my specialty or what I want to spend 10,000 hours on.

[00:37:35] I’ve done a lot of dabbling, the music. Thing’s interesting. Did you want to be a musician at one point? Yeah, and I, 

[00:37:40] Bill: [00:37:40] I stunk. I was not very good at it. Bass guitar. Yeah. Um, I had like a two or three year sprints where I went, like, I, I fell in love with music when I was a kid, but never, never really got into it.

[00:37:56] And, um, In high school. I [00:38:00] used to go to the American Legion, uh, shows around my area. Like I was really into like, you know, like the punk scene and stuff like that when I was a kid and I met this guy, um, Casey, so he he’s actually the singer for a band called the deer Hunter. They’re really, really good. Um, this is way back in the day, but he showed me how to use pro tools.

[00:38:18] Um, and reason and all those other like music production, uh, softwares. And so I just went for it. I like dove in for a couple of years and, um, realized I couldn’t turn into a career, but it’s a passion that I still love today. And I just love music. And, um, it’s been, uh, it’s been a big, uh, Big thing in my life.

[00:38:35] Alex: [00:38:35] How, how old were you when you met Casey and learn pro tools and all that? 

[00:38:40] Bill: [00:38:40] Probably like 16 or 17 or so I was a young, young, young man. Um, and I also like, you know, um, just, just being exposed to people who are the best at what they do is just mind blowing. You know what I mean? Like I never, I never had any future in music at all, but being like in the universe of people who like [00:39:00] were actively doing, it was kind of an interesting experience and like, I got the same exact feeling when I was like doing the baseball stuff.

[00:39:06] It’s like, you’re within striking distance with people who are doing something really cool stuff. And that gets you fired up. Same thing with marketing. You go to these conferences, you meet people who are like the experts at it. That’s, that’s where I like to be. Right, right. Where somebody is doing something interesting that you can learn from.

[00:39:21] Yeah. 

[00:39:21] Alex: [00:39:21] So that’s interesting, Mike, I got into music probably the same time, maybe a little earlier, but I grew up in a really small town in Wisconsin and nobody was really into music, especially the type that I was into punk rock, same thing. Um, so I started college as a music major because I thought that’s what I wanted to do.

[00:39:37] I was in a band, it was a big thing. So like I had seriously considered this as a career. And the moment that I got to college, I was surrounded by all these people who had been playing piano since they were three years old who had perfect pitch. And I’m like, you know what? And I went through a semester and did the classes and I felt like I learned a lot, but it wasn’t fun anymore.

[00:39:56] And towards the end, I just felt like I was kind of struggling and like dissecting [00:40:00] the music in that way. Wasn’t what I liked. So it was actually really relieving that I got that out of the way. And I realized that this isn’t the career for me. This is just something that I want to engage in with the rest of my life, because it’s such a creative output.

[00:40:10] Did you have a moment where you realized, Hey, this isn’t the career, this is just a passion. This is something that I just want to like engage in on the side. Like, what was that moment for you? 

[00:40:20] Bill: [00:40:20] A hundred percent. I feel like we’ve had this moment a few times. So like in conversations, but same thing happened to me.

[00:40:25] I switched my major to music. I realized, Holy crap, these people are way more prepared. If I have way more time, they’ve dedicated their life to this. Now you could, when you go through those moments, you have kind of you’re at a crossroads, you can say, Oh my God, I suck. I wasn’t able to turn this into. My career, it’s sad.

[00:40:46] Uh, I’m not going to get over it, or you can say, Whoa, awesome. Got to, uh, get exposed to all these cool things. Now I see music from a different lens and it’s actually increased my, my enjoyment of, of music. [00:41:00] Um, but I never really saw it as like a failure, I guess. You know what I mean? Like, um, you try things and you move on and that’s kind of the way I think about business.

[00:41:10] Like. And, uh, you know, that that actually helps with just investing in general. It’s like, you don’t want to get into the sunk cost mentality. Like we both went through the music phase, probably went to a lot of shows when we were in high school, said, wow, really love this. Let me go try it as a professional application, you realize, Ooh, this isn’t quite what I expected.

[00:41:32] This is actually different from, from what I was enjoying it as. And it’s okay to stop doing something. If you don’t feel the passion for it. I think the mistake is not going for it. Never knowing that you and I could have been musicians. And then when we wake up and we’re 80 years old and we go, man, I wonder what would happen then I want to avoid that as much as humanly possible.

[00:41:54] That’s that’s the thing I run away from the most. So I’d rather try something and fail. We just have some cool [00:42:00] stories and experiences and then go find something else, you know? Yeah. Well actually 

[00:42:04] Alex: [00:42:04] I don’t think it’s a failure at all. I actually think of it as a success in my life. Um, I’m going to be a fucking nerd and relate to this to AB testing.

[00:42:11] So there’s a couple of approaches. If you, if you have an idea in your head, you could be really passionate about it and put it on paper. You can execute it and, you know, put it live on the website. And if you never test it, it’s like you could keep going on and on, and that could actually tank your conversions.

[00:42:26] It could be a horrible thing for your website. So you might as well AB test that and make sure that you can like parse out, like whether it’s a winner or loser losing shop it to the next thing. So I think a little mini AB test in terms of like the career stuff. And we realized that, all right, music’s not the winner for the career, but there’s probably stuff you can learn in my, in my specific instance, I remember our band was pretty musically.

[00:42:48] Bad. We could, I think we wrote decent songs, but we are not musically talented. Sure. But during our shows, we would always have the most people in the audience. Uh, so we were very good at marketing and I realized that quickly [00:43:00] after, uh, the music thing kind of flamed out, cause I was like, all right, what do I do next?

[00:43:04] What do I major in, you know, it’s, uh, exploration time in, um, college. And, uh, I realized like business marketing, like we booked out venues, we booked bands. Like we brought people in. That seems like a lead. Did you, did you have any lessons from your kind of music trials that led you to believe that? I guess journalism was your next standpoint, um, that led you to that next step that you took?

[00:43:26] Bill: [00:43:26] Yeah, I think like after you do a few things that fail, if you think deeply about them, you’re like, what are the things I want to do in my life? Like I want to be financially successful because that brings me the ability to do things that I can’t do otherwise it’s not the only thing by far, but it does afford you the ability to go do things that you wouldn’t be able to do otherwise.

[00:43:45] Um, I wanna be able to take care of my family too, which is something that’s really tough to do if you’re a musician or you’re a journalist, those are the things that I thought deeply about. When it came time to make a decision. And so I said to myself, what are the aspects of those things that I enjoy [00:44:00] most from music it’s being creative and not, and understanding that you can create something from nothing that didn’t exist before.

[00:44:06] And there’s no rules in place. Just go figure it out. Um, with journalism, it was like telling stories and like, Working really hard on something that I like, I really want to like get live and create something. So those, those learnings of the creative process were the things that I said to myself, what can I do?

[00:44:29] That’s quantifiable that I can see lasting in the future that have aspects of that. And for me, it was like, you’re already doing part of it with the, with the blog. You have the creative aspects of it. And then, Hey, As I started to research marketing, I’m like, Oh, there’s a quantitative part in this, this isn’t like, this is my thinking back in the day, it seems relatively, uh, you know, simple, but, um, I was thinking like marketing was like billboards and creative and like PDFs and flyers.

[00:44:59] But I didn’t even [00:45:00] know that the quantitative side of marketing existed, this is like 2007 long time ago. I’m an old man. So back then, like ad-words and everything was still becoming kind of like a big deal in the early, you know, middle two thousands. I think I just, I got at the right time too. You know what I mean?

[00:45:15] Like right at the time when analytics was really becoming. A big thing. Um, but yeah, I mean like ultimately the more you’re exposed to in your life, the more, you know, can, it’s like an AB test, which I know we’re going to go back to that all the time. You can use. The losers. And sometimes there are like fringe winners, right.

[00:45:35] Where you’re like, Oh, that’s really cool about that. But I don’t like that part. Um, like you have to expose yourself to a lot of scenarios for you to build up that knowledge base. And I’m not saying by any means, I haven’t even figured out, I mean, who knows? Like I’ve always said that. In the future. I want to do like some non-profit or something in education to help people learn.

[00:45:51] Cause that’s something I’m passionate about too. Um, so maybe marketing is actually a springboard for that will fit. We’ll see, you know, I got a lot of time left on the, on [00:46:00] this planet, so 

[00:46:01] Alex: [00:46:01] I’ve always wondered that too. Like what’s the next step? When you look in hindsight, it always seems so obvious, but like what’s, what’s this a springboard force.

[00:46:08] That’s a really good question. I’m gonna come back to that because I actually do want to follow up on that, but I want to tie back, uh, with the music and the journalism. Cause we had the. Weirdest similarities in our background. I studied journalism too. And the music thing. Yeah. So journalism for me. It made me inquisitive and maybe under like everyone, I want to get down to the core truth of something, uh, tease out first principles, tease out the actual story music.

[00:46:32] One big lesson I took outside of just the fact that I was good at the marketing side of it was that I enjoy activities that engage both the left brain and the right brain. So the quant side and the creative side. Um, and I think music has. Probably one of the best examples of that. You’re following a pretty rigorous framework.

[00:46:48] Music theory is highly mathematical and highly technical, 

[00:46:52] Bill: [00:46:52] but if you 

[00:46:53] Alex: [00:46:53] totally it’s, it’s impossible. It like hurts my brain. I started going back over and over the pandemic a little bit and I was like, man, I [00:47:00] forgot how hard this was 

[00:47:01] Bill: [00:47:01] very difficult, you know, 

[00:47:04] Alex: [00:47:04] look at like the music theory and just play that side of things.

[00:47:07] Like your music’s never going to have soul. And if you just do the creative side of things, it’s never going to have structure. So you have to blend the two together and that’s what I’ve found. Especially in the world of conversion rate optimization in content marketing. We just talked about that.

[00:47:19] Literally. We just said, like to do SEO content, you have to fit it in the format. You have to like, see things, pattern wise, you have to like do things logically and sequentially, but then there’s this open space as well. Do you think that’s the case with you as well? This is something I’ve noticed in so many marketers with so many of us have a background in music.

[00:47:35] There has to be connection with this like left brain, right. Brain, uh, synergistic kind of working style. 

[00:47:40] Bill: [00:47:40] Right. Yeah. I mean, I think there’s a lot to it and I, the more and more people I meet that are in marketing that have come from all these different, uh, avenues of life, it almost. I hate to say this.

[00:47:53] Cause there’s probably a lot of people who went to school for marketing and work in marketing. But I feel like having these experiences opens your mind up to [00:48:00] like how to speak to people more effectively or how to like design something in a way that is unique outside of the, every day that we’re doing every single day, you need to have, you need to have influences in your life that are outside of what you do day to day.

[00:48:15] Um, and I, I think like from the content and like the AB testing side of things, it’s like, okay, With a song with an article, with a website page, you’re starting with a general hypothesis. Like, Hey, here’s the thing I want to go create. Here’s the general rules I have now, how do I fill in the blanks between all those different things?

[00:48:36] And, um, over time as you hone those skills, you become more directionally accurate with how you start those hypothesis. So like when you first create content, you’re like all over the place. Like I had no strategy, I’m just writing whatever I want in the blog. And then eventually I’m like, Oh, wait a second.

[00:48:51] These worked really well. These worked really well. These worked really well. Why is that? Then I started thinking, why did the content perform well? And how do I [00:49:00] like learn more about that? I think some folks are just naturally drawn towards that. Like, I’m I want to figure out why it works, not just that it works.

[00:49:09] And I think that, um, like the more and more experience you have in your life, if you’re really inquisitive about things, you’ll figure it out. Like we don’t do that Harvard job. If you think about it. I mean, it just people, uh, places that they talk, and then there are rules on those systems for how you. Uh, how you generate interest for a specific product or service outside of that, it’s really just like up here, like, how do I want to talk about this person?

[00:49:33] How do I, or this product, how do I want to, um, build a brand? Like those are all very ambiguous things that you could do, like this podcast, for example, you know, you could have had a podcast. That’s all about. SEO and content marketing. Uh, but you chose to do it in a way, that’s you, and it’s your, your thing?

[00:49:53] Um, I think that’s going to be like way more magnified in the future, because I think deeply about this. I’m like, man, but [00:50:00] quantitative side of things, like maybe that’s figured out in the future and all it is is just creative because everything else is just a math problem. And like, as technology evolves, like where’s the next generation of skills, like, is it going to be.

[00:50:12] What we’re doing right now versus how to rank a page and going through a formula. Like those are the, the things I think all about. And I think the people who are going to be successful at the next era, the creative side of marketing is going to make a comeback. And it’s going to be more about storytelling and like these types of experiences, you know, 

[00:50:31] Alex: [00:50:31] I think that I would, I would bet on that too.

[00:50:32] That’s something we talked about with David  and that if you can make a checklist out of it, it’s probably going to be automated. Sure. There’s some sides of quant that is actually more creative than most people realize. Like analytics is a highly creative field. If you have the autonomy to choose your own analysis and your AB tests, stuff like that.

[00:50:48] So you touched on one thing, um, about like structure and like seeing repeated patterns over time. And, uh, I. I definitely saw the connection with music. Like I remember when I would write [00:51:00] songs in the early days, I was basically copying blink one 82. Didn’t know what I was doing. Never sounded okay. I would basically put down on paper and then through time and experience, I learned music theory and then I was like, Oh, okay.

[00:51:11] That’s why that worked. Like, that was a C followed by a G followed by an F. And that’s like the common major chord formula or whatever. Like I would start to recognize those patterns. But I wonder, I think it helped my songwriting in a way in like the beginning, but I wonder if sometimes you can get entrapped by, um, that layering of structure and expertise and experience.

[00:51:31] Um, and in some cases, maybe just the free flow you end up stumbling upon formulas that you may not have, have been able to construct from like a, um, Is it convergent first divergent thinking is what I’m kind of going for here, where you’re connecting pieces together in a very like critical top-down way versus like discovering and just kind of exploring.

[00:51:50] Um, the reason I ask this is because the music connection, um, I watched this guy on YouTube, Rick Beato. Do you heard of this guy? Nope. None. I’ve heard him. He’s amazing. And he would love him. So he’s a [00:52:00] producer and he like breaks down songs. Like why, why they work? Why people love him so much. And I listened to one on Radiohead and I’d never been interested in radio head that much.

[00:52:09] Like I like to creep a little bit, you know, but you never know, man, you’re going to be great. A guy in Patton, right? Yeah. Yeah. So I listened to this breakdown of one of their songs and it was so complicated. It was like the most intense music theory I’ve ever seen. And I just thought like, did radio had actually mean that?

[00:52:27] Or did they just kind of fuck around and like, you know, play some notes. And it just happened to be that way where it’s like, Oh, this is the inverted seventh with the added sus nine blah, blah, blah. It’s like, where are they thinking about that? I don’t know. Like sometimes I struggle between like this idea that we can kind of understand and he’s everything out in hindsight.

[00:52:44] And like, if that’s the way that actually people create moving 

[00:52:46] Bill: [00:52:46] forward. Yeah, that’s a good question. Like I think that, I think I know the exact song you’re talking about it. Was it, uh, I can’t remember it. I know it’s on, in rainbows 

[00:52:58] Alex: [00:52:58] talking about [00:53:00] seven something. 

[00:53:01] Bill: [00:53:01] Yeah. Structure. Yeah. Um, that’s interesting.

[00:53:05] So like, I think that that’s such a level of mastery to basically approach something from a technical perspective and then make it beautiful. Those are the types of like, when I see those types of things, I’m just like, okay, this is, I know that this is not, that reminds me of back in college when I’m like, wow, that’s, that’s a beautiful song on top of an incredibly difficult, uh, structure.

[00:53:28] Like that’s a beautiful thing. That’s a level of mastery that you have to like overtime. That’s a, life’s work to be able to do something like that. Cause I think like you’ll find people and I think this is especially true in business. You’ll find people who like are really good with the creative stuff.

[00:53:43] But they don’t want to know or don’t want to approach the analytics side of things. And then you’ve got the inverse, you’ve got people who are really analytical, but don’t care about the creative side of things. And I think that that’s, that’s a shame because, uh, you have to have appreciation for both of those things.

[00:54:00] [00:54:00] Like in the, in the song example, it’s really hard to find someone who can go do that. Right. Who go. Approach a song from a technical perspective and also make it credibly beautiful. Um, that’s just so mind blowing to me because I think that’s what I’ve, that’s my, then my evolution with, with marketing and with, with growth and all this stuff is like, it started with the more quantitative cause that was the easiest thing for my brain to relate to.

[00:54:24] But now it’s like, I’m starting to see. Some of the impacts of, of the more creative side of the process. It’s actually like opened my eyes quite a bit to it. And for music, it was the inverse. I love the creative aspect. I liked the idea of not having like rules and that was really appealing to me. But then when I started going through courses and realizing, Oh, like song structure, and like, like theory and this and that, and it took the joy out of it.

[00:54:49] So to me, like there’s a lesson there. If there’s something that you think you love. You need to like, if you can love it from both the technical and quantitative [00:55:00] side, but also from the, the, the creative side, I think that’s like a home run for, uh, whatever it is you want to do with your life. You know, I love 

[00:55:06] Alex: [00:55:06] that.

[00:55:06] Yeah. That, that does seem to be a good indicator that you should just follow that path if you enjoy both sides of the equation. I wonder too, I’m thinking in a business context now. So like that was like the artistic side, the creator side. And that totally makes sense that one person should embody both of those.

[00:55:21] And that’s like a very good signal that. That path is for them, but I’m thinking of like a analogy with AB testing. Like there’s two approaches and, um, you know, I’ve actually shifted my ethos to like the opposite side on this one, but there’s one set of ideas that says we should. Gather research. Every AB test idea should have sufficient evidence in order to put it on the roadmap to prioritize.

[00:55:45] And those with the most evidence get prioritized first. And then there’s the other side that kind of approaches from epistemic humility and says, we don’t know what we don’t know. We don’t know what customers are going to want. And we can’t ever describe why and AB test one. So let’s create the most [00:56:00] different, the most variable, um, the most wacky ideas and throw them out there because we we’re capping our risk.

[00:56:06] Anyway, you know, it’s only gonna run for two to four weeks, but I could wake up from a power nap in the afternoon. Hey, you know, it’d be cool. We threw like animated fireballs in the background, you know, like crazy ideas like that. And there’s those two approaches and the way I’ve. Reconcile these, I think there’s different stages of companies that deal with different styles, but on one side, it’s kind of like a capped risk.

[00:56:30] Like, you know, it’s, it’s a little more predictable. Um, you know, it’s not going to lose by a lot and may win by a lot of may not. And then there’s this other side, the experimental ones that may lose by a lot, but they may be total breakthroughs that you could, could never have guessed before. Yeah. So I found building a portfolio that manages to have both of those in different buckets.

[00:56:50] You know, maybe 80% predictable ones, 20% experimental ones has been a way to allow that creativity while also not burning [00:57:00] down the building because you have no 

[00:57:01] Bill: [00:57:01] structure. Sure. Yeah, I think so. That’s something I think a lot about is like, um, It’s important to you call this barbell strategy, right? Where you have to have high risk, high reward, and you have low risk, relatively predictable like types of outcomes.

[00:57:18] So the beautiful part of working in a, in a small company like I am is that you have to be comfortable with risk when you’re doing things like when you’re working at a six person startup, because ultimately the, like, let’s be real. The math is we’re not going to succeed. We’re not going to survive and we’re not gonna succeed.

[00:57:34] Right? Like the, ultimately most small businesses don’t. Succeed. They have a small amount of runway. They either have a big winner or they don’t. Some of them grow linearly over time. They grow slowly. That’s that’s that’s that’s good. But I think like in our case, the risk of not taking big bets is actually the biggest risk, because if it comes down to me versus another company that’s can be most and they have more money and more cash and that’s ultimately what’s going to win, then we’re not going to [00:58:00] win.

[00:58:00] Right. Um, like with AB tests, You can launch like a, a totally random idea. And if you consider that, if it fails, if you consider that a failure, then I don’t know. I mean, there’s so much to learn from things that go wrong. And I think that the conversation we’ve been having forward is like, we’ve, we’ve had things that we’ve, we don’t do day to day today, but there are things that I’ve applied from those learnings to help me.

[00:58:29] In my day to day, um, like I don’t think I’m a natural born marker at all. So when you think about testing, you want to be able to take big shots because you have to understand what is it going to take for you to win a specific outcome? Like, you know, if you’re, if you’re the small guy and you’re creating, it’s a large company, you don’t take any big shots.

[00:58:49] You’re going to be in a tough spot. You’re going to be in a really tough spot. Um, but this goes back to that, that risk, but th the, the whole concept is really about risk, right? [00:59:00] Like every single input that we do costs time on your own energy. And so when you go to test something, you want to at least break, even for those things, or at least learn something, so you get better.

[00:59:09] And I don’t feel like that’s a, that’s a loss, as long as you’ve learned something and get better out of it. Um, You know, th there’s, uh, there’s always the clock ticking. Like you have to take a certain amount of shots to give yourself a chance to win. I feel like I’m rambling on this topic a bit, but, um, but what you said is, is, is I’m sure you deal with this every single day, like in your, in your day to day, it’s like, how am I, how do I understand the amount of risks that I’m taking on is appropriate for the things that I’m doing?

[00:59:36] And. 

[00:59:39] Alex: [00:59:39] Well, this is, this is the bread and butter. I feel like this is, this is the topic that I think you, you and I could have a four hour conversation about and decision theory, because I’m just, I know you have a background in poker, um, and I’m gonna ask you to like, tell the audience about that background soon.

[00:59:54] Sure. Um, but I’m imagining. The guy at the [01:00:00] table, um, with like almost no chips and a guy at the table with like all of them. And that’s like a large company versus a small company. And the risk of going all in for those two people is way different, right? The person with no chips on the table has to take big risks in order to like ante up or that’s the wrong phrase.

[01:00:18] But in order to like build up the portfolio in the first place, whereas like making a poor decision. At the level when you’ve already got a lot, you have to like protect the downside much more. 

[01:00:28] Bill: [01:00:28] That’s right. Yeah. There’s a, there’s a poker concept actually for this, there’s a, there’s a, a concept called ICM in tournaments, incremental ship management.

[01:00:36] And it’s all about like, when you’ve got a smaller stack, the other guys get a bigger stack. Every single time. The hand is dealt, you’re losing a certain percentage of your stack because your blinds come up. Every eight hands. Right? So the average hand is worth X dollars. You’ve got this many chips, you’ve got this many rounds that you can go before you go broke.

[01:00:55] This other guy covers you. So his risk is that if he puts you in a 50 50 position, [01:01:00] he is not at risk to lose, even if he flips with you. And he loses. He’s still got chips. He’s still in the game. So what is the value of those? So they can just, he can 

[01:01:10] Alex: [01:01:10] just bleed you dry by just, just keeping money on the table.

[01:01:13] Bill: [01:01:13] Essentially. Now we’re talking about business, right? So like every startup is like a poker tournament. Some people have a lot more chips. Some people have a lot more skill, but if you’re able to deduce the risk of each move and understand, like, this is the time to press, I’m willing to gamble at this certain thing, because I realized that the upside is.

[01:01:32] Great. And I’m okay with the risk or, Hey, maybe I should fold until this other guy goes out and it reduces my risk and my overall value goes up. Like, I know we’re going way down the rabbit hole here on like the strategy side of things. But poker poker is really just one big game of business. There’s risk there’s chips.

[01:01:52] There’s bets. That’s pretty much it. 

[01:01:54] Alex: [01:01:54] In the super simplistic terms. Does that just mean as you’re smaller, you’re allowed or you have to take bigger [01:02:00] risks and as you grow larger, you get more conservative. Is that like the simplest way to sum that up with probably missing pieces? 

[01:02:06] Bill: [01:02:06] Yeah. I mean, like, you know, that’s the general rules because you have a lot more at risk, right?

[01:02:11] Like as you have more people, you have more on the line, the general mindset is to. It’s tough to manage to downside. That’s like the, the, the thing we talk about all the time is like, um, if you make a bet with half of your, your company’s cash and you’re a huge public company in that fails too much exposure, pretty much pretty big mistake, 

[01:02:32] Alex: [01:02:32] but there’s a case to keep 10% of your budget for those risky bets, right?

[01:02:36] Because then you still keep 90% and the chance that you lose all that 10%, like you don’t lose your shirt, you’re still in the game. 

[01:02:42] Bill: [01:02:42] Exactly. That’s that’s, we’re going back to the same exact concept like that. The reality is every single day you’re putting chips out there. They’re called money every single day, you’re burning cash.

[01:02:51] And so eventually if you don’t do anything, you’ll run out. So the question is you’ve got these chips. How do you use them? You can do them. You can use them in a, in a [01:03:00] very list or low risk, high probability. You can build a very, very great business with that with you and your friends. You’ll make a lot of money and you’ll be, you’ll be happy.

[01:03:08] Some people are more risk averse and more risk tolerant. Sometimes the board wants more aggressive goals for your, for your company. So you’ve got to make bets that you, um, maybe you have to take on more chips and you lose less of your equity. Like there’s a lot of, a lot of things at play, but I think like for.

[01:03:26] As a lesson, when you’re thinking about how do I build a strategy for whether it’s marketing or like in your day to day, you have to really think about that. Like, am I, am I the person who thinks. Am I a risk averse person? Like, do I not like risk? Am I not willing to take a chance on something? Sometimes it’s good to push yourself because it brings you into these new ways of thinking about something, just 

[01:03:49] Alex: [01:03:49] so we don’t sound totally insane.

[01:03:51] Cause I’m going to ask you more poker questions. Can you please give a background here? You are a professional poker player for many years, 

[01:03:58] Bill: [01:03:58] right? Yeah. Yeah. So [01:04:00] I, uh, was in school. Um, Played a small tournaments with my friends. And I noticed these two guys were winning all the time. And, uh, I was like, how can that be?

[01:04:10] This is all just gambling. Like, I didn’t understand. So I went to borders as, as I did every single time I wanted to learn something. It was like, Oh, this is interesting. Let’s go to borders and figure it out. So I would go to the, to the, to the cafe and I read like a, basically like a beginner’s guide to it and understood like, Oh, okay.

[01:04:27] So. Every single time I do a certain decision. There’s something called expected value. If you have a really crappy hand and I go all in and Alex, you know, Alex, uh, calls and it’s up to the hands to, to play out. If you have a really good hand, I have a bad hand over the course of time that expected value will be in your favor.

[01:04:47] Um, the re the reality is that most. Players don’t play enough hands for that to, to shake out. You go to the casino once and you play with your friends and then you never come back. You either win or lose, but if you play enough hands [01:05:00] over the course of time, the skill will in the edge will play out. So there’s systems and rules to that where you can manage your, your money.

[01:05:07] And so I, I learned all this stuff and, um, I basically just went, this is right when music was like not working out. And I was not sure if I wanted to go with journalism, I was in like a real crossroads of my life. And I was like, Let me go take a shot at this. So I worked really, really hard, built up a skill on that.

[01:05:23] And then, um, one day the U S government sees the IPS of all the, the major poker sites. I had about like 90% of my net worth tied up in these accounts. And when you went to the login screen, there was just a big flag from the FBI that was like, these domains have been seized by the government. So I had a choice either move to Canada, like all my friends, a bunch of people went to Vancouver and bought places up there.

[01:05:49] And, and, uh, some of them are still doing that today, um, or stay in the U S and pivot. And so I chose to pivot. So 

[01:05:58] Alex: [01:05:58] in saying, did you [01:06:00] actually lose all the money? Like, did you ever see it again? Or like what, what happened with that? 

[01:06:05] Bill: [01:06:05] So, um, it’s a long story, but basically one of the sites actually was dipping into player funds from their marketing expenses went bankrupt.

[01:06:13] So the government, so there was $300 million in player funds out there. Total us government realize this is a disaster. So they incentivized PokerStars to buy out, um, the company called full tilt poker so that they could re issue their refunds, where I had a lot of my money, uh, online. So I had to wait a year and then I had to fill out a bunch of forms.

[01:06:34] Um, But yeah, that was, that was definitely not what I was expecting, but the thing to keep in mind is, um, even before this, I was already planning, like to move out of poker because I realized something is coming, but no matter what happens legally and that’s AI and that’s software, and I was already using software to help me track all my playing, um, uh, statistics, understanding player, you [01:07:00] know, player tendencies.

[01:07:01] And it became pretty clear to me that that the future of this is not, not very bright. So, um, so even before that it was like, man, this is going to be a tough road ahead. Um, and today, like the scene today is not even what it used to be. Now. It’s like a lot of guys are using real-time assistance and software has really like, just absolutely crushed the, the actual playing of the game.

[01:07:24] So, uh, you know, like all the lesson from this, if anybody’s listening to this right now, If you find something that’s really profitable and you can crush it, just go, just go as hard as you can. And then, you know, like take advantage of the opportunity while you can, because you never know what it’s going to be gone.

[01:07:41] Alex: [01:07:41] That’s a meta example of tail risk and expected value. The fact that it could be swept all. I mean, you got it back, but let’s say like all that money was just gone. That’s, that’s sort of a tail risk scenario, right? Like that’s a. 98% probability that you’re going to end up positive. Well, not maybe not that high because you’re still playing poker.

[01:07:59] So you’re still [01:08:00] risking your money. But then like this lots of swing, very, very small sliver of a chance that you could lose it all versus like, if you were, um, I dunno, a local farmer, right? Like the upside, isn’t going to be that high, but you’re almost certainly not going to lose everything. You still have, like your land or something like that.

[01:08:16] It sounds like that’s almost an example you could use to like say the expected value of a given career. You know, given it’s like upside and downside kind of 

[01:08:23] Bill: [01:08:23] probabilities. Yeah. Going down that, that Gardner exempt poll, like if the gardener had only one small crop of land and a storm hit they’re out of business.

[01:08:33] Um, the same thing with poker instead of, uh, vegetables, you’re talking about chips and money. So I would never play a game that I was not properly bankrolled for, because I knew that no matter how good I thought I was or how good I thought I was playing, there is an expected. Edge and each game and you have to play a huge sample for that to play out.

[01:08:54] And that’s like something that poker has really taught me about business is like, um, you really have to think [01:09:00] strategic about like the, the bets that you make, whether that’s like in marketing or with people like politically, like you want to, you want to pick your battles and make sure that you’re, you’re, you’re being smart about your money because there isn’t an endless source of it.

[01:09:14] Alex: [01:09:14] So two questions on the poker, um, theme. The first one is a quick one. How did you, did you learn statistics and quantitative stuff from poker or because this was in college, as you were sort of studying journalism, is this your first education in probably 

[01:09:29] Bill: [01:09:29] a hundred percent? Yeah. Yeah, it was, it was a tough road because I didn’t like.

[01:09:33] I didn’t really have like a mathematics background. My dad was an engineer, so I think I had like somewhat of like a, a mathematical mind, but, um, but yeah, it was, it was tough. Like I would, uh, almost goes back to the example. We were talking about the art and the science. When I first got into poker. I thought I understood it.

[01:09:52] Like every, every great thing I was like, Oh, I, I, I can see the sky, like reacting this way. And like, I know that that’s [01:10:00] a sign that he’s weak. And I was so confident that, that I had that strategy down until I realized I had absolutely no idea what I was talking about. It’s like that your first, like, you know, what’s the comparison people make all the time, like the Dunning-Kruger.

[01:10:14] Yeah. Yep. Yep. You think you’re an expert and then you realize, Oh my God, I have no idea what I’m 

[01:10:18] Alex: [01:10:18] doing. It’s like the beginner’s confidence of sorts, 

[01:10:20] Bill: [01:10:20] for sure. For sure. So when I, when I discovered like the application of game theory, along with, with poker to how to so. It’s a people’s game, right? Like people have tendencies and maybe like Alex plays more aggressively in certain spots than other people, but in the aggregate, there’s a certain strategy.

[01:10:37] That’s fundamentally sound. And I didn’t understand that until I really dove into the math of the game. And I was like, Oh my God, even though this, this play works against this type of player, it’s actually a losing play overall. And here’s why. And so taking that and blending it with the, the side, the art side of things was, was really, really fun.

[01:10:59] And, and, uh, [01:11:00] it gives you like a new, it’s like the music thing. Once you got under the theory side, you’re you have a, you have a crossroads. You’re like, wow, do I really love this? Do I really want to do this? Do I want to do I really want to put in the work to, to make it a career for, for poker? That that was something that I was like, okay.

[01:11:15] It’s me. I can do this. I can control this. I don’t have to worry about, you know, uh, getting into school or getting gigs, whatever. Like I know that if I sit down and I work really, really hard, I can control the outcome. And I know that I can succeed at that. Um, so that, I think that there’s like good lessons in that, but there’s also like that isn’t scalable, right?

[01:11:33] Like you go to the business world, it doesn’t matter how good you are at AB testing or SEO. If you can’t work with other people and you can’t like communicate your vision and you can’t do this other things that. Uh, you can’t succeed. So I think there’s, there’s good and bad parts of that. 

[01:11:48] Alex: [01:11:48] Um, so that was my other question is it’s almost a cliche to say that poker is a lesson for life or like a analogy for life.

[01:11:53] You can learn lessons from it, but, um, what do you think are some of the most applicable lessons, [01:12:00] frameworks, mental models that you’ve taken from poker and applied, not to life per se, but to business, to marketing, to content marketing and SEO. What do you think are the most applicable frameworks that you’ve learned from this.

[01:12:11] Bill: [01:12:11] Yeah, I think, um, we’ve talked about dealing with risk, but more so assessing risk. Like I think a lot of people, because we don’t, we don’t, most of the time we work for a company, we don’t put our own like money or our resources behind it. Maybe you have a budget, but it’s not the same, um, that has maybe respect the entrepreneurs who are out there just putting it on the line and every single day that’s been really cool.

[01:12:36] Um, I’ve thought deeply about that. Um, I think dealing with imperfect information is probably the most important thing. Um, like you can run a test, you can do a project. You don’t really know what’s going to happen, but those aren’t binary ways of thinking about it. Like it’s either gonna work or it’s not going to work well, if it doesn’t work, then what do we learn about what do we learn from it and how much energy do [01:13:00] we want to put behind it?

[01:13:01] Um, those are all the things I think deeply about is like, there’s a million things you could go do, but. We don’t know what’s going to happen. So how do we assess the problem? Like, could I go invest a bunch of money and paid ads? Sure. Um, do I have a reasonable expectation of work? Sure. But you have to assess like, is that the right play for you and your, your team and the risk in the situation you’re in today?

[01:13:24] Because it could change tomorrow. Um, I think, uh, outside of that, um, it’s taught a lot of system thinking, um, for me to, I wasn’t in a really good at the quantitative stuff initially. So I had to think about it in systems. Like I had to break them down to like more simple, uh, parts of the process. So like when, um, a situation hits you that you don’t have the information already, that happens all the time.

[01:13:50] So how do you put in frameworks to make the decision when you don’t know what the, what the right answer is? So. Somebody does something in poker I’ve never seen before. I already had worked out in my [01:14:00] mind from training and going through like scenarios a million times. How do I think about this problem?

[01:14:06] So if somebody puts me in a spot that I’ve never been before in poker. Okay. What have I seen before? What’s the math? Tell me, what do I think is going on with this person’s mind. I have like buckets of things to check off and then I say, okay, do we want to push it over 5% this way? Or under 5% this way?

[01:14:23] Um, but you need to have systems in place for your decision making criteria. It can’t just be random all the time. Right. So if you’re working on a project for work and you’re thinking yourself, how do I. If you have to basically recreate the answer from the ground up every time it makes it really hard to make decisions at scale.

[01:14:38] So I think the people who are best at making decisions like that are really, really difficult, or they don’t have great information, they already have a system for breaking that problem down are these, 

[01:14:47] Alex: [01:14:47] these are decision trees, rules of thumb, heuristics that you have. If you don’t specifically have certainty on the answer, if there’s some cloudiness, remember listening, I think it was a podcast that I listened to with Annie Duke.

[01:14:58] And she talked about how she learned [01:15:00] poker. I want to say it was her brother or a friend or something like that. Yeah. So, uh, he taught her essentially stop loss, uh, functions where if, if they had this set of cards, she’d just fold. Um, and she later learned that, like, she didn’t need to be with that rigid, but like to learn, to start to get like some structure, she had very simplistic rules, um, that she could just follow in a given circumstance without even knowing really like the theory of the game or probability or anything like that.

[01:15:27] Just upfront. 

[01:15:28] Bill: [01:15:28] Simple rules. Good example is like, you’re, you know, you’ll, you’ll be playing with your cars with your friends and you’ll have a hand that’s your hand at this moment, but are all, what are all the hands you could have in this scenario? And how would you play each one of them? If you. If you had all those hands, same thing in business, like sometimes you’re in really sticky spots or like something isn’t working the way that you expected to, but what are all the ways that this problem could play it out?

[01:15:53] If it goes really well, what do you do next? If it goes poorly, what do you do next? If it goes right, as you expected, what happens next? Those things [01:16:00] are like the types of frameworks that I, that I’m talking about because it sounds very, Hmm. So just 

[01:16:05] Alex: [01:16:05] scenario planning in essence, sitting down and saying like, all right, we’re going to launch this campaign.

[01:16:10] What is the worst case? What’s the best case. What’s the probable case, just laying it all out and seeing what happens. And you’re kind of making predictions too. I know there’s some. CA like there’s a prediction thing you can do. I can’t remember the system, but you essentially assign probabilities to each outcome.

[01:16:26] And then you calibrate after the fact and you there’s a score. You can give yourself, I can’t remember what the score is called. Um, but you go back and you essentially like see the weight that you assign, that probability, if it happened, the frequency that you were right. And you can look back and say, like, I have this level of.

[01:16:44] Accuracy predicting future scenarios or something like that. Yup. Yeah. 

[01:16:48] Bill: [01:16:48] That’s that? I think, I think that’s really, that’s really cool because like doing, making a business comparison might be like, okay, you’ve got, you’ve got a problem that you need to solve this week. And, um, [01:17:00] irrespective of what actually happens.

[01:17:03] It’s really important to think to yourself, how you could approach the problem. Like what are the wide degree of ways that you could solve the problem? Because I think to me, that’s like that’s putting in the work to, to make good decisions versus just saying, what do I think I should do here? Okay. And doing it.

[01:17:19] I think there’s a, there’s a, there’s a mentality. I think I see that in, when you talk about the barbell strategy all the time, like there are the, the, I think some people just naturally go to the low risk, low upside decisions. But what this framework I’m talking about is going and saying. What are the crazy high, low probability high bets that we could make?

[01:17:39] Do they exist at all? And like, am I thinking too shallow on this problem? Um, that’s when it gets really exciting, when you start thinking about things like that, 

[01:17:48] Alex: [01:17:48] we’ll actually sit down and calculate. So in those scenarios, you’re kind of, you’re calculating a little bit of expected value. Um, I guess a little bit of, um, like a variant score too, in a way with the highly [01:18:00] variable kind of experimental ideas.

[01:18:02] Do you sit down and calculate that score for a given blog posts or is it on a per channel basis or I guess like, how do you apply that on a really granular level to content to SEO? Do you say all right, this keyword, we’re going to put it in this, this non-expert, this is going to be the predictable bucket because it’s got.

[01:18:21] A thousand search volume, the difficulties low enough. We’ll probably rank for it. And if we don’t, we just waste 500 bucks writing the post. 

[01:18:26] Bill: [01:18:26] Yep. Yeah. I mean, that, that’s exactly what we’re talking about. Like that framework of like hypothesis expected outcome, like the it’s just the AB testing or like, you know, framework, but it’s essentially the same exact thing.

[01:18:40] Um, but if you play those scenarios out a million times over, you’re going to end up ahead. If you have a really good framework for how to, how to make those plus expected value bets. Um, now, like if you, if you, if you take the, the content example, let’s, let’s go through like a, an SEO project, right? You’ve got a key word.

[01:18:58] You’ve got, like you said, a thousand searches per [01:19:00] month and it’s this low difficulty. Um, I would expect that over a certain amount of time, we’re going to get this much traffic. It’s going to be worth this much money in money. I’m going to have to spend this much money to get to, to get to that, to that point, whether it’s from outreach, creative copy, et cetera.

[01:19:14] And I think I can get cashflow positive in six months now. The fact that you went through that and broke all that down and created a process around it makes you a better person, a better, a better thinker and a better marketer. Um, now if you miss, you have to loop back around. Why did I miss? What was the reason?

[01:19:33] Why did I not factor for something that is a muscle that is applicable in poker, in business and content? Anything you want to do? Um, So I, that, I love the idea of thinking, how could this play out in, how do I, like, how do I model out what that opportunity is now we’re busy every day. Like we might not have the ability to do this for every decision, but for big decisions.

[01:19:57] I think it’s really important to go through those, those frameworks. 

[01:20:00] [01:20:00] Alex: [01:20:00] You mentioned a quick sentence, you said was, uh, you know, if you do this a million times over the long run, you’re valuable, we’ll be positive. Um, that leads me to this, uh, idea of resulting is the, uh, is there a difference between a bad idea and a bad outcome?

[01:20:17] Bill: [01:20:17] Oh man. That’s the question. That is the question of the day. So yeah. I always think all the time. There’s so many entrepreneurs we’ve never heard of that took a big shot and failed. They might’ve had the right test criteria, the right sample, everything, and it just went poorly. So the question is, are they winners or losers in that scenario?

[01:20:40] Even if they had the right strategy. And I think only they can answer that. Like there, there are some people who are, who are super comfortable, risking everything that they have and failing. And there are some people that it’s a disaster for them. Uh, that’s such a tough question. I mean, [01:21:00] like, I, I try to frame my mind that I’m just trying to make good decisions and let the chips fall where they may like not to make the, the analogy, but, but.

[01:21:12] To me, the process is more important than the outcome. Now we’re in the real world. Like there are outcomes that we have to hit. There are certain goals that we have to do, um, to be successful. So yes, there is, there’s obviously like a ton of, um, a ton of like impact to the things you do every day. But I think it comes down to like intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation.

[01:21:36] Right? Um, if you’re okay with failure, you have to be okay with rewarding yourself when things go well, too. Um, so I don’t know that that’s a, that’s a tough one to answer. Cause I think that’s, that’s dependent on the person. Um, like I’m not, I’m not one of those people who like needs to be the right person all the time.

[01:21:56] I’m totally comfortable being wrong and owning up to [01:22:00] it. Um, if you’re not one of those people then do the lowest thing, you know, um, whatever makes you happy, I guess. 

[01:22:08] Alex: [01:22:08] Yeah, totally. My idea here is that if you, if you have the proper system, I don’t know if like any given idea can be good or bad. Um, if the system is in place, right, if you’re running AB tests and like you have a certain portfolio or you have a certain bucket for predictable ideas in a certain bucket for like, Yeah, that shit crazy ideas like you can’t say about shit.

[01:22:28] Crazy idea was bad just because it failed because then the sixth one might pay for the previous five losses. Right. So I think that’s where I was going. In terms of like the idea versus outcome, at least, I don’t know if it’s possible. That’s what I’m trying to ask is like, I want to believe there’s a world where we can iron out survivorship bias.

[01:22:49] Just by looking at the longterm and building a system that over the long run over repeat iterations. Yeah. Any given failure doesn’t necessarily mean that over the long [01:23:00] game, you’re a failure, right? Like, so your, your inputs, your process, um, the workflow is all right. It’s the right decisions, but maybe like you suffer a loss.

[01:23:10] One out of five attempts. Um, but the other form may make up for it or whatever. But I think, I wonder, I don’t know, is it about system development or like. 

[01:23:20] Bill: [01:23:20] Yeah, it could be that just some people just don’t try again after they failed, because the failure is so painful to them, whether it’s like the social impact or like the financial financial impact that they don’t try again.

[01:23:31] I think there’s, there’s probably a lot of that, you know, um, you do something that doesn’t work and it’s, it’s, you know, you might be embarrassed by it or maybe you don’t get the outcome. You, you were desiring, so you don’t try again. Um, but I, I think that’s super, I mean, like,

[01:23:47] Th the ideal world is one where we’re always making the best decision irrespective of the outcome. Then the real world is the outcome is, is the only thing that matters. So I think it goes back down to like what [01:24:00] motivates you as a person? Um, 

[01:24:05] Alex: [01:24:05] It seems like also, you want to make sure that you stay in the game.

[01:24:08] That’s one criteria for a good decision is if the risk is, is high enough that it takes you off the table in the poker sensor, in the business context, if you spend all of their money on one initiative and it fails, like that’s a bad decision, because then you don’t have a chance for repeat iteration. So having some.

[01:24:25] That’s what you were talking about with like assessing risk, right. And uncertainty, and like figuring out what the actual downside is. Because if you spend all of your money on like one given AB test or content marketing campaign or whatever it is, and you lose it all well, I mean, you’re fucked, any learning you had from that doesn’t, you can’t even apply because you’re not at the table anymore.

[01:24:44] So that may be one thing. Yes. 

[01:24:46] Bill: [01:24:46] That takes down the site and the business runs out of money. That’s a pretty bad outcome. Um, but like, Running a test that like has, uh, you know, like impacts the number a little bit and it’s, it’s [01:25:00] there’s psychology and then there’s quantitative that’s, that’s the thing I’m trying to like tap into is like, There, there are just general rules of math, where you can only raise so much because if you risk too much, you will lose.

[01:25:13] I mean, we saw this with the financial crisis, like way over levered the system just, just crashes, same thing with business. Right? You can make too many high vault volatile bets, and you’re just putting yourself in a bad spot. The opposite is true. You can make low risk, low pro you know, high probability bets, your whole life and never get anywhere.

[01:25:32] Or maybe you’re just comfortable there because you haven’t put yourself in a spot to take a risk. There’s, there’s nothing wrong with that. And I think some people are very happy being there. And there are some people who want to be in those highly, you know, high risk situations, look at the entrepreneurs and all the guys who are putting their, their, you know, their reputation on the line to, to start a company.

[01:25:50] Th those are high, high, high risk situations. Um, but I think it really does come down to like, what makes you happy? Some people are really happy with, with comfort and kind of [01:26:00] like day to day. Some people need a little bit more of a, of a, of a kick in their button. They need a little bit more risk it to make them fired up about something.

[01:26:07] Um, that’s where like the psychology of like who you are and the way you like to manage your day comes in. 

[01:26:12] Alex: [01:26:12] Where do you fall on that spectrum? 

[01:26:16] Bill: [01:26:16] Um, Hmm. I hate to say this, but you know, just getting older, like you, you tend to take less risks, right? Like I just turned 36. Like I’m definitely not in my twenties anymore.

[01:26:29] And like, I’m not going to like, go like, you know, go to Vegas and play like the world series and like all this stuff, like I’ve got other commitments and stuff like that, so that my life is, is definitely different now. Um, but I think everybody needs that. Like, I think that I definitely, I think I definitely.

[01:26:46] Sort of catered towards like the more, the more careful side now, because I have things that in my life that are in my life that I want to, I want to make sure that are there every single day. Um, and like, I [01:27:00] wanna, I want to go work in like Fiji for a summer. Like, those are the things that like, are they high risk theoretic?

[01:27:07] Like. Just money, I guess. But like the risk is I’m away from my family and all the other things that like are going on in my life. And so I think those types of things too, and I’m like, man, am I just getting soft now? I don’t want to, I don’t want to take those, those high risk situations anymore, but. The puzzle is just gotten a little more complicated.

[01:27:25] And I think that happens, you know, over life. 

[01:27:27] Alex: [01:27:27] Um, yeah, I felt the exact same thing. And I’m glad you used the word getting soft because I’ve said the same thing to my friend. Uh, my buddy David  here in town. We talked about that with, with, uh, career and, uh, entrepreneurial risks and that early in my career, I feel like I was, I don’t even know if I thought about decisions.

[01:27:45] I just kinda jumped in and now I do feel a lot more. Contemplative slow moving, um, and typically safe. And sometimes I wonder if, if that’s the right. Path, if I should open up like a bucket and the Bartman, the [01:28:00] barbell strategy of my life, should I have a 10% basket where I have some, you know, big swings and I don’t, it’s, that’s a tough one because going back to the poker metaphor, um, and what what’d you call it?

[01:28:11] The, um, Uh, chip management or as you grow 

[01:28:14] Bill: [01:28:14] incremental ICM, it’s called 

[01:28:16] Alex: [01:28:16] ICM. Yeah. Yeah. So you start out small and, and you got to take those big swings. Career-wise like I joined a pre-seed startup in Austin, thousands of miles from where I grew up and I’m not going to do the same thing now. I’m not going to.

[01:28:29] Drive up to Seattle to join, you know, three random people and join a startup. And because there’s more to protect now. Right. So there is some semblance of just that’s the natural progression progression of life. But I don’t know. I always wonder, like, you know, what’s, what’s missing, what’s behind that curtain on that little more experimental side of things, 

[01:28:46] Bill: [01:28:46] for sure.

[01:28:47] Yeah. This, this reminds me of the conversations we’ve had like, offline about, about, um, like what we want to do with our wives and stuff like that. And. I think over time, like your, your brain, you’re just more exposed to like different things that could happen. [01:29:00] Um, because you have more things that are, that are complicating your decisions.

[01:29:04] And I, I think like not to be like too out there, but, um, like there’s, there’s something to be said for people who keep their lives relatively simple around the things that they, they get the most value out of. And they, they are okay to saying no to things that maybe don’t add a ton of value and complicate their, their decision-making.

[01:29:22] I think a lot about that too. I’m like, You know, you, your, your life is a finite amount of time. You have a decision about who you spend your time with, who you work with, like where you spend your money, things like that. And, uh, over time, your brain does start to think, Oh my goodness. Like, what if I lose all these things?

[01:29:42] But ultimately the risk today is actually no different from, it was day, day, one of my life, you know, it just like. Your, uh, your mind thinks to yourself what happens if I lose this, but, um, going back to that, like barbell strategy, it’s like, what is the big bet I could go make? If you can’t answer that?

[01:29:59] That’s, [01:30:00] that’s a tough one because you want to have dreams and aspirations and things you could potentially do in the future. Um, I know we’ve talked about that, like privately, but it’s just, uh, you know, it’s interesting to think about it that way. 

[01:30:10] Alex: [01:30:10] Yeah, well, one way is doing side projects. We, that’s why we did the agency and it’s not necessarily like a big risk taking thing, but it is a bucket that could have high upside if we do it well.

[01:30:20] So I do get kicks out of that and I’ve seen, I mean, you seem naturally entrepreneurial. Um, have you done, or do you plan on doing any side projects or any like future goals in terms of like building your own thing? 

[01:30:33] Bill: [01:30:33] Um, I used to do a lot of that stuff and I I’ve, I sort of backed off from it. Cause I think my, like my aspirations in life have changed from like when I, when I was, when I first got into marketing and like was all excited about, you know, I wanted to build like an e-com business and do all this stuff and I, I think.

[01:30:50] I over time, my I’ve been trying consciously to be more balanced about things and being more balanced, I think has had an impact on that like risk [01:31:00] assessment because, um, while living a more balanced life and having, you know, better relationships around you and, and, and doing more like things, it does spread your bets out a little bit.

[01:31:12] So, um, it makes it tougher for you to take those risks, but I don’t know. I think, I think I’m pretty happy with just like, Reading a lot being, you know, working really hard, spending more time with my family and, uh, trying to be like a well-rounded person versus the person who like work is the only thing I do.

[01:31:32] And, you know, success is the only thing I do. And I, that might’ve answered the question we were, were talking about before about this idea of like, whether or not I’m comfortable with risk. I think I’m comfortable with risk, but there are some things I’m not willing to risk because I think it leads to a better quality of life.

[01:31:48] You know what I mean? Yeah, 

[01:31:49] Alex: [01:31:49] I totally agree. There’s like the total opposite end of the spectrum with like somebody like Elon Musk taking all the money he made from one company, putting it all into the next one, like [01:32:00] potentially going broke, but also now being like the richest guy in the world. And it’s not for everybody, it’s not for me, but, uh, I respect people who do have that level of skin in the game.

[01:32:10] I think it’s, that’s a very unique way to live. 

[01:32:14] Bill: [01:32:14] Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, like, you know, imagine that’s a great example. Like the Ilan example that guy could have totally mailed it in had zero risk, his whole life, plenty of money, but took the insane risk. But now you have to consider that for you to go work for somebody like that.

[01:32:30] You have to have a relatively high tolerance for risk as well, because ultimately your, your day to day is on the line with, with them. Um, so I think, I think that’s, that’s the type of risk I think I’d be willing to take in the future is like, A project that has relatively low expectation. Like, I don’t know a specific example right now, but something that could be a passion project that could lead to success in the future, but doesn’t.

[01:32:56] Require the risk that some other things would do, like quitting your [01:33:00] job and starting your own business. You know what I mean? Yeah, totally. 

[01:33:02] Alex: [01:33:02] So kind of related, do you fall down like rabbit holes and get obsessed with things easily? It seemed like poker was something like that. I’m sure music was back in the day.

[01:33:11] Do you find yourself like. I dunno, just subconsciously getting attracted to like a new interest and just like fucking reading about it and watching YouTube videos and like, yeah. Yup, 

[01:33:21] Bill: [01:33:21] yup. Yup. Yeah. Like I, uh, what’s something that I’m like that with now. Um, well, it’s been the pandemic, so I haven’t been doing too much, but like, I, I definitely get that, like that, like I had, um, what was it.

[01:33:35] I got into, uh, sailing recently, I started taking lessons and so just being me, some people like they go to, they go sailing to have a good time and they’re like, wow, that was great. I wouldn’t sailing on a vacation probably like four years ago. And I just was obsessed. I go on YouTube, I’m starting to learn how to sail.

[01:33:55] Alex: [01:33:55] Like I, like, I 

[01:33:57] Bill: [01:33:57] want to learn like all the, the vocabulary of like how to [01:34:00] sail and like, What are the boat’s done? And then I was like, Oh my goodness. Like, could I start a marketing, like business around sailing? And that’s just, I just go all in, like you mentioned, um, who knows, maybe there’ll be something that I’ll, that I’ll do like music where I’ll I’ll I’ll get into it and I’ll realize it’s not exactly the, the, the thing that I want, but.

[01:34:18] Um, yeah, I’m sure you’re the same way I can tell. I’m definitely 

[01:34:22] Alex: [01:34:22] the same in sailing. It was even something I tried to stumble into, but the sailing sucks here in Austin. The wind is really weird. We have lakes, but it’s just, I can never get out because it’s either dead or like completely changing directions and wild.

[01:34:35] But if I were in Boston, if I were in new England, I think that would probably be the next rabbit hole that I fall down. I think my next one is probably. It might be jujitsu. I went to a class. Yeah, I understand. I get it. Like, it’s something that, uh, was super, it always starts like this. It starts with something I’m intrigued by.

[01:34:55] It looks cool. I know people who do it, they speak highly of it. And then the first [01:35:00] time I do it, it’s overwhelming. Almost like there’s a bunch of new jargon. It’s a very technical thing. It’s something that I can see myself spending hours and hours pouring into. Like, it’s not simple on the surface, but I always have to kind of get it.

[01:35:12] Like I have to like. At least click, it has to click once in that first session or two. Right. Um, and I think jujitsu did that because it’s like, uh, I had a pretty good teacher, I think. And, uh, I was able to like, I dunno what hold or. Choke it was called, but I figured it out and I was like, all right, I know we were going slow.

[01:35:30] And I know you guys are going easy on me, but like, I could see myself diving into this one, but yeah. And it 

[01:35:35] Bill: [01:35:35] might be that like, because, um, with Juju too, the, the risk of not doing it well, forces you to be so present when you’re doing it. Oh, that hundred percent very, like, I think about that all the time.

[01:35:47] I’m like, dude, it’s the same thing as you’re feeling though. Yeah. If I crashed my boat or like go off in the middle of the ocean, like I’m probably going to die. So that there’s, that that’s like jujitsu, you could get seriously hurt if somebody doesn’t, if you don’t pay. [01:36:00] So like for somebody like, maybe like you’re probably the same way I am.

[01:36:04] My brain’s always going all the time. So when I find something that I can go a hundred percent into it, I think there’s, this is meditation taught me a lot is like, there’s something to being super present on, on something that you’re passionate about when you’re a hundred percent all in on it. And I’m sure you’re like you’re taking these judicial juicy lessons and you haven’t thought about like work or anything else going on in your life.

[01:36:24] So you’ve been able to really sit and focus on that. 

[01:36:28] Alex: [01:36:28] Do you get, uh, on the flip side, do you get bored easily? 

[01:36:32] Bill: [01:36:32] Uh, yeah. That’s, that’s definitely a, it’s something that I think is, uh, a terrible quality because, um, like, as I’ve been more thinking about that, it’s like, you should be happy with less. You know what I mean?

[01:36:43] And, uh, like that’s a lot of, you know, I don’t know if you don’t who Sam Harris is, but I use meditation. I use the same one. Yep. Waking up. Yeah. By the way, if anybody’s listening, waking up is amazing. It’s like 

[01:36:55] Alex: [01:36:55] psychedelic almost. 

[01:36:57] Bill: [01:36:57] Yeah, for sure. Yeah. No, I, I w we have [01:37:00] similar lodge, Alex. I feel like it’s so it’s, but, uh, like a lot of, a lot of his lectures about, um, about how to be present.

[01:37:08] About how to not always be looking at what’s coming next is something I struggled deeply with. And, um, it’s like, it manifests in like poor sleep quality with not being present and not like thinking deeply about this current moment. I’m always thinking about what’s going next. So that’s something I’m trying to really tackle.

[01:37:27] And I think going back to that, like, what do you want to do with your, with your life thing? That’s something I want to be really intentional about. And so, um, part of that comes with accepting that you can’t do everything and you have to say no to stuff. Like I want to go do all these other passion projects, but like, Hey bill.

[01:37:45] How about you stopped doing that for a second and go spend time there, family, or call them and do stuff like that. Like, those are the balancing type of things that, I mean, that, that I think is, has been a struggle for me, but I’m really trying to take that serious. Now, 

[01:37:57] Alex: [01:37:57] are you trying to become more comfortable and accepting of [01:38:00] bored, boring activities and boredom in general?

[01:38:02] Or I guess what’s your, what’s your striving in that direction? Because this is something I deal with too. I, I am bored quite easily and when I’m bored, I’m stressed and. I dunno, it’s almost like I’m less stressed when I’m stretched out when I’m like challenged intellectually or physically. And like, I’m not like that.

[01:38:20] I don’t know. I just get this restlessness. 

[01:38:22] Bill: [01:38:22] Yeah. Yeah. I’ve thought I’ve thought a lot about it in there. There’s there’s like two sides of it, right? Like when you’re motivated to do things in you’re fired up and you want to go do stuff all the time, that the root of that is why it allows you to be successful in, in certain parts of life.

[01:38:37] But the alternative. Is that you’re not able to slow things down and really appreciate things. And I think I got really trapped in this mindset, um, like three or four years ago when I moved down to Charlotte and was like, I’m going to go be successful. I moved away from my family. I had so Polaroid to one side of the spectrum, but had kind of completely forgot about the other [01:39:00] side of the spectrum.

[01:39:01] And I realized that like, like I’m always like that where I find something, I go all in and then I forget about everything else. I’m trying to be much more balanced in the boredom thing is like, you don’t always have to be doing something next because presence of mind just being, as you are, instead of always trying to do something else actually helps you refocus on what you want to do.

[01:39:24] You know what I mean? Like, I, I that’s, maybe I’m not explaining that well, but like, um, you don’t always have to be active and busy and doing something you can just spend time thinking or spend time talking to your family. You’re like, Be a little bit more chill versus having to always do something all the time.

[01:39:42] Um, something that I really struggle with. And I think like the mentality of always wanting more and more and more press on the gas until the tank runs out, I think is good in some aspects, but it’s also, you know, it’s not great in others.  yeah. 

[01:39:54] Alex: [01:39:54] These, these are things that I’m constantly telling myself and forgetting and trying to tell myself again, I find [01:40:00] too, if you there’s extrinsic, uh, You stress, the good stress there’s extrinsic challenges and things that are extrinsically interesting.

[01:40:10] But if you can. If you can find that intrinsically you can make anything interesting. And, uh, I complain all the time about meetings. Like, uh, I have way too many of them and I still, I don’t think that’s probably a good thing for my like actual output in life in terms of the work and quality that I put out.

[01:40:27] But I found that if I’m in a meeting and I’m not necessarily a central role, um, if I act like an anthropologist and then it is really, really like, View how people behave and like how they talk and like, you know, what’s their strategy and try to get into their heads. It becomes way more interesting. It’s like watching a movie or I’ll make a 

[01:40:45] Bill: [01:40:45] perfect comparison poker when you’re not playing a hand.

[01:40:50] Don’t you think it’s valuable to watch how other people play their hands? I think that’s the type of presence. What I, what I, what I’ve been thinking deeply about is like, [01:41:00] if you took interest in things, instead of waiting for what’s gonna come next. Life becomes a little bit more interesting and maybe it slows down a little bit, but like that concept of boredom, I think is a, is actually just a, it’s a mental block.

[01:41:13] It’s like your brain has decided this is not important. So let’s go focus on something else, but you can realign that attention to the things you’re currently focusing on. And maybe you have a new perspective on it. And maybe this is like way too, like, you know, theory based. But the example of the meetings is like, Hey, we’ve all been there.

[01:41:31] Like who wants to be in a meeting and listen, everybody else talk, but. If you slow down things a little bit, and you’re like, Hey, what’s this person saying, what perspective are they coming from? Maybe the next time we talk to that person, you’ll be able to communicate with them more effectively. Um, 

[01:41:45] Alex: [01:41:45] So a hundred percent it’s useful as well.

[01:41:47] Uh, we could stop here, but I’m not going to, I’m going to ask you like three or four random questions. If that’s cool, let’s go. Let’s go unrelated to anything we talked about. I want to, I want to know the actual content going to have some real [01:42:00] content. I wrote them down because they’re the only ones that I wrote down here.

[01:42:04] So I’ve got, um, do you have any unusual hobbies that I don’t know about? Oh, 

[01:42:11] Bill: [01:42:11] man. Um, 

[01:42:16] Alex: [01:42:16] even things he dropped, I suppose it’s a weird time during the pandemic.

[01:42:22] Bill: [01:42:22] I don’t know if this is a w I don’t know how many other people do this, but I get like really obsessive with either a movie or an album. Because I, if I listened to an album that I like, I will listen to that thing a million times over and over and over again, to break down every part of it. And then I will almost forget about everything else that’s going on and like other music that’s interesting to me.

[01:42:43] And I realized that because, uh, I got called out for it. Somebody saw that they, they, they, my Spotify that I was playing the same album over and over again. And, um, that’s kind of a weird habit is like, um, like overly. Obsessing about something. I know we talked, I was just going to go, but, um, [01:43:00] but yeah, that’s something that I, that I, that I do all the time that I wish I did less of, but like, to me, I don’t know, maybe this is the old school mindset of like an album is a piece of artwork and it’s like, meant to be experienced from the beginning to the end.

[01:43:14] Now I sound like the old guy on the podcast talking about how it used to be when you used to buy records in the store, but that’s fine. We’re fine with it. 

[01:43:23] Alex: [01:43:23] Uh, vinyl, uh, about a record player right at the start of the pandemic. And that’s been awesome. Like I’ll just listen to the full record, Bryce and vinyl.

[01:43:31] Bill: [01:43:31] I will send you some, you can have of, of stuff that I bought in Chicago at some of the record stores and stuff like that out the same and stuff. Oh, that’d 

[01:43:37] Alex: [01:43:37] be amazing dinner. You get dinner with one person dead and one person alive. Who are they? It doesn’t have to be related to marketing. 

[01:43:46] Bill: [01:43:46] Dream dinner, essentially dream dinner.

[01:43:49] Yes. Um,

[01:43:56] that’s a tough question.

[01:44:02] [01:44:00] Um,

[01:44:08] wow. I don’t even know how to answer that question. Um, there’s just so many different options. I mean, This is going to sound lame, but alive person is my mom. She’s the coolest I, uh, I, I, I didn’t spend enough time with my, with my family. They’re they’re awesome people, um, dead. Um, geez, that’s a tough one.

[01:44:35] There’s just so many, so many mean fronting through my head. Um, I would love to have dinner with Jimmy Hendrix. That would be cool. I feel like, I felt like he was in a, uh, such a absolute insane time and was at the center of like just a lot of stuff happening in the world. Um, I’m sure I could come up with a million other ones, but I’ve always found his story to [01:45:00] be just like super interesting and.

[01:45:01] Um, the time of life and it’s not too far away where I can relate to what he was talking about, but it would be, it’d be a fun guest. How about yourself? 

[01:45:11] Alex: [01:45:11] Well, I don’t know. I always ask the question. I’ve never asked question. Hendricks is an interesting one. He’s an alien to me because I can listen to most other guitarists.

[01:45:20] And I know that with time and applied pressure, I can learn their music and I could play it. But I know that even if I can play those notes, I can’t sound like he sounded. Yeah. So he’s like an alien, um, I don’t know, alive, um, 

[01:45:33] Bill: [01:45:33] a dead. I would 

[01:45:34] Alex: [01:45:34] pick Anthony Bordain. 

[01:45:36] Bill: [01:45:36] Uh, one of my favorites, I actually saw him live with Eric repair right before he died.

[01:45:40] They did a little tour. Yeah, 

[01:45:42] Alex: [01:45:42] amazing. I just think he would be the ultimate dinner guests in general and I’m a huge fan. He was a big inspiration growing up in a small town in the Midwest, uh, to see the world and just know that there’s more out there and to connect with people in that way that he did.

[01:45:56] So I love that. Yeah. Um, 

[01:45:59] Bill: [01:45:59] that’s tough. [01:46:00] He died. It was like the whole world related to it, which is kind of, 

[01:46:04] Alex: [01:46:04] yeah, that was, that was a profound one for me, for sure. And, um, I don’t usually get shaken up over like celebrity deaths, but that was a big one, uh, alive. It might be. I’m looking at my bookshelf. It’d probably be an author.

[01:46:16] Um, Nassim till that would be a cool one or Rory Sutherland. I really, really liked his book and his Ted talks. Um, yeah, it would probably be somebody like that. Cause they’re very like polymath. Uh, the subjects would be wide ranging. They’ve got deep expertise and they seem like fun, boisterous, like heavy drinkers, a fun dinner.

[01:46:40] I think that would be mine. Um, and then here’s one more, um, w which, or I’ll do two more, uh, who do you admire professionally and why?

[01:46:52] Bill: [01:46:52] Um,

[01:47:01] [01:47:00] let’s fuck you. Somebody, you know, actually, you know who I am. I professionally is a, do you know what Julia Halligan, she think she used to lead customer success over it over at, uh, at HubSpot. And I worked with her at drift and, uh, I, I admire her for multiple reasons. Number one, incredibly bright person.

[01:47:18] Number two. Uh, The most personable person I think I’ve ever worked with. And, um, like. Th there’s something to be said for people who are, who are smart, who get the quantitative side of things. And then there’s something to be said for people who just bring people together and like make everybody a team and is always like excited to be around things and always fired up.

[01:47:41] Um, like as my career has evolved, I’m like, you can find people who. Have great Kwan skills or have great design skills or like are really good with code, but it’s really hard to find people who are really enthusiastic and like generally care about the people that are, that are around them every single day.

[01:47:59] Like, [01:48:00] I feel like every great company needs to have at least one person who’s like that person for them. If they’re going to be a great company, um, Anyways, but she’s always been somebody that I’ve, I’ve really admired just from working together. And also just the way I see her treat other people around her because, uh, at the end of the day, like we’re, we’re, we’re in business where we’re working really, really hard, but it’s the people that you remember 20 years later, who made you feel, you know, great at that moment when you weren’t feeling that great.

[01:48:26] Those are the people you need around. Hmm. That’s cool. 

[01:48:29] Alex: [01:48:29] What blogs, podcasts and influencers do you love to follow right now? 

[01:48:36] Bill: [01:48:36] Oh, geez. Um, logs is a tough one. I think there’s just so much content out there. Um,

[01:48:51] I like Lex, well, let’s start with podcasts because I’ve been doing a lot of the podcasts these days. Um, I like Lex Friedman’s [01:49:00] podcast. That’s a really good one. Um, He started. Yeah. A huge fan. So he, you know, speaking of jujitsu, he actually trains Stu Jitsu itself, Boston down the street from me, like literally down the street.

[01:49:11] He’s a boy, I don’t know. But he talks about on his podcast and he was like, Oh, this is the guy I trained with. He lives in. So Boston did this. I was like what? I was like, Oh my God. Down the street. So, um, if I was a sophomore, I would, I would go, uh, I would go way up for him. He’s like my 

[01:49:25] Alex: [01:49:25] spirit animal. And he’s like an AI researcher plays the guitar jujitsu, got his podcasts.

[01:49:31] Like I’m like that’s aspirational for sure. 

[01:49:34] Bill: [01:49:34] Yup. Yup. Um, I think, geez, I don’t know. Um, I don’t, that’s the, that’s the one that I listened to the most consistently. And then, um, One that helps me sleep is the podcast called sleep with me. Uh, it’s not, uh, you know, not in that way, but literally like they just tell these fragmented or like completely random stories.

[01:49:59] And [01:50:00] every single time I’m having a tough time sleeping. That’s my podcast. So you just turn it on. Nothing makes sense. And all of a sudden, boom, you wake up in the morning. So two things I like to do. Number one, think about. AI and, and crazy future of the world and a number two sleep really well. So those, those are my two.

[01:50:16] Those are my two favorites. I just 

[01:50:18] Alex: [01:50:18] subscribed to the sleep with me. One. That sounds awesome. Actually give it a whirl, give it 

[01:50:22] Bill: [01:50:22] a whirl. 

[01:50:24] Alex: [01:50:24] All right, cool. You want to wrap up here? Oh yeah, yeah, 

[01:50:26] Bill: [01:50:26] yeah. Uh, Sam’s waking up book is the book that I most often gift. Um, let’s see. Uh, Oh, the book that taught me everything.

[01:50:40] About, um, poker, uh, it’s Matthew Janda, it’s called, um, applications of no limit Hold’em it’s about game theory in poker. That book I’ve read probably four or five times. And, um, it’s, it’s obviously like a, uh, it’s a poker focused book, but. [01:51:00] It’s it’s really about systems thinking about how to deduce problems.

[01:51:05] Um, I I’ve read that book probably three or four times. That’s one of, one of my favorite books. Um, so those, those two are my favorites. 

[01:51:12] Alex: [01:51:12] That’s awesome. Is there anywhere online that people should follow you that you want to point them to? 

[01:51:18] Bill: [01:51:18] Sure. Yeah. Bill King is my website. Um, you can find me on Twitter at inbound  it’s like inbound with a Y.

[01:51:28] Um, and, uh, yeah, those are the two easiest places to find me. Awesome. Thanks bill. Thanks for having Alex.

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Alex Birkett

Alex is a co-founder of Omniscient Digital. He loves experimentation, building things, and adventurous sports (scuba diving, skiing, and jiu jitsu primarily). He lives in Austin, Texas with his dog Biscuit.