“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed.” Those are the words of the wisest man who ever lived, Solomon, son of David, celebrated king of Israel.
Once I started working with TV talk, it became clear pretty quickly that I was finally on the path of leaving the corporate world. In fact, just 6 months after I first started working with TV Talk, I turned in my resignation. That’s right, I got to leave on my terms. Handing my boss a resignation letter felt so good and so right. But that’s not the focus of today’s story.
Today starts with those months between starting with TV Talk and before tendering my resignation. Those were a grueling 5 months. During that time, I’d wake up around 7, shower, get dressed, and drive 40 minutes to my corporate job. I worked from 8:30 until 5, and then I’d drive 40 minutes back home. Dinner was usually ready about 30 minutes after I arrived home, and we wrapped that up just about the time prime time TV shows were airing. Once a show aired, hosts had a couple of hours to record their episode and upload it to the server. Once they uploaded it, I would download it and begin the process of editing it. Sometimes it was the show I was hosting that needed to be watched, studied, recorded, and then edited.
I typically finished TV Talk work around 2am. Some nights I didn’t finish until 3 or even 4am. Once I was done, I’d grab whatever sleep time was available, wake up at 7, and do the whole thing again. I also worked on purchasing equipment, shipping it out to hosts, training them on how to use it, training the hosts on how to use our file sharing system, coordinating the creation of music, personally creating the artwork for each show, and meeting with the other TV Talk leadership throughout the week.
It was a full-time job on top of my other full-time job, and as I said, it was gruelling. My wife and I saved nearly every dollar we earned from TV Talk during that period when I had 2 jobs. That decision would turn out to be one of the best decisions we ever made.
Once I left the bookstore, my schedule finally got some breathing room. I still worked nights simply because that’s when the work came in. I really loved the work and I really loved the people I was working with. At the same time, I was trying to figure out what to do with this new line of work I was in. Should I create a brand new company that focuses on podcast production and consulting, or should I do all of that under my established podcasting brand of Golden Spiral Media.
Well, Solomon said to seek wise counsel, so that’s what I did. I asked TONS of people. The more people I asked, the more confused I became. I mean, I seriously asked at least two dozen people, all of them people who knew what I was trying to accomplish and also knew Golden Spiral Media. Their opinions were split right at 50/50. Half of them said I should continue to do work under the GSM name because it was an established podcast brand known all around the world. Others said I should start a new brand because GSM was a brand focused on creating content, not a brand that focused on helping others with their content.
So I made the decision to stick with Golden Spiral Media. I also reached out to my friend Cliff, who at that time was known as the Podcast Answer Man, and was a very successful podcast coach. I asked if he had a need for a podcast editor in his referral network, and was pleasantly surprised that not only did he need a podcast editor in his referral network, but he had an email that had just come in seeking an editor, and Cliff wasn’t sure where he was going to send that person.
Cliff sent that person and a few other people my way, and I also added a client of my own that was a listener of my own podcast. So, coupled with the work from TV Talk, I was fully stocked with all the work I could handle. That is a rare place for a new entrepreneur to find himself.
Then, about 18 months after I first started working with TV Talk, the owner ceased operations. This wasn’t a total surprise. He’d been trying from the beginning to get corporate sponsorship for the network, and he’d come extraordinarily close several times to landing the sponsorship he needed. But funding the operation was extremely expensive, and he’d finally reached the end of the cash he’d committed to putting toward the idea. Once the shows ended their respective seasons, TV Talk shut down.
As I said, this wasn’t a total surprise, and I’d been working to add as many new clients as I could. There was a time when TV Talk represented 90% of my income. The money was great, but I knew that this was a dangerous position to be in as an entrepreneur. By the time TV Talk ceased operations, they represented only 75% of my income. Of course, that’s not as bad as 90%, but that’s still a very bad percentage. I now had nearly all my time available to find new clients. Unfortunately, no clients came for the next month…then two months…then three months…then four months. Remember earlier when I said my wife and I had saved all that money from when I had two jobs? That next egg was was getting eaten fast.
Then one day I got a lead from Cliff. The lead’s name was Linda. When I met with Linda, she expressed concerns about hiring me. She’d visited my website and saw a bunch of podcasts about sci-fi TV shows. She also saw one page on the website that talked about how I edit podcasts for other podcasters, but to her, that told her that editing podcasts was my part-time focus. She informed me that she was looking for someone who was serious. I explained that editing podcasts was my full-time job and it’s how I was providing for my family. She told me she’d think about it.
Oh, how I wish I’d encountered Linda months before! I’m so glad she was forward enough to tell me what she saw when she visited my website. I immediately began work on creating a new brand, a stand-alone brand that would clearly communicate my experience and services. That brand, launched in October of 2014, is Pro Podcast Solutions.
I wish I could tell you that the change was immediate. Okay, I’ll do that. Because you know what, the change was immediate. By that time I’d gone 5 months without landing a client, and the month after launching Pro Podcast Solutions, I added Linda. Okay, maybe that’s not a fair attribution to the PPS brand. But the month after that, I landed another client, and the month after that, I landed 2 clients. In fact, since I launched Pro Podcast Solutions, I’ve added new clients every single month.
One day I got a message from a potential client who wanted to hire PPS for his agency. That is, he had a few clients that he was coaching, and he wanted them to have podcasts. He had a podcast, and it had been a great source of leads for him, so he wanted to teach his coaching clients to do the same. However, he did not want to be in the podcast editing business. So he was looking for a company where he could outsource the editing, but not the clients. In other words, his clients would never know I exist.
Once again, I really struggled with what to do. After all, my relationship with my clients is everything. The idea of having a middle man in the communication loop didn’t sound appealing. Furthermore, if the clients didn’t know I exist, I had no chance of gaining referrals from them. So once again I reached out to Cliff.
Later that day I went shopping with my kids, and we happened to be at Ross Dress for Less when my phone rang. It was Cliff. I made my way to the back of the store, plopped down in a bean bag chair, and explained the situation to him. After taking a moment to consider the situation he said, “Darrell, I’m going to ask you two questions, and after that, you’re going to be able to make the decision yourself.” His first question was, “Is the job for work that you want to do?” That was easy. The answer was, “yes!” His second question was, “Does the job pay what you want it to pay?” That was also easy and was also a clear, “yes!” The answer was so simple. Just like that, I had my answer. Solomon also said, “Those who trust their own insight are foolish, but anyone who walks in wisdom is safe.” I reached out to the client, let him know that I’d love to work with him, and it turned out to be a great decision.
I still seek out the wisdom of Cliff. I’ve added to my circle of wise counsel trusted friends and fellow entrepreneurs Mark Des Cotes, Jeff Brown, Shawn Smith, John Dennis, and Jodey Smith. Most of all, I always seek advice from my wife, Kari, especially in matters that may impact us as a family.
Seeking the counsel and perspectives of others is simply one of the best things you can do. But what I’ve learned over the years is that I need to be selective in who I seek counsel from, and how many people I seek counsel from. When starting out, I wanted to get advice from as many people as possible, because I thought it would give me a better pool of data I could use to make my decision.
However, that turned out to be a false assumption on my part. Even though each of the people I sought counsel from were people that knew me or were professionals in a particular subject matter, it didn’t mean that getting all that advice was helpful.
Look at how this dynamic has changed over the years. I’ve gone from seeking the advice of over 2 dozen people, to seeking the counsel of half a dozen. These are people who know me VERY well. They know my business, my talents, my character, my ethics, my long-term goals, and my current goals. Furthermore, these are people who are also entrepreneurs. Their business may not be in the same industry as mine, but they understand the world of an entrepreneur and are better equipped to give me the advice I need for the situations I face.
What are your values? When you need advice, make sure you’re seeking it from people who share the same core values and principles as you. I don’t simply mean business ethics. Beyond that, I’m referring to how you spend your time, how you value your family, faith, finances, and free time in relation to your business. These are just some of the factors that must be considered when faced with difficult decisions, and having a group of advisors that understand these things from a first-hand perspective is vital.
Lastly, seek advice from people who have been where you are, or are where you are now. I always, and I mean ALWAYS seek advice from someone who is 3-5 years ahead of me on their entrepreneurial journey. People who match up with my values, and also have already achieved many of the things I currently have on my 3-5 year road map. The chances are, they’ve already crossed the obstacles I’m now facing, and they can guide me to the best path. Think about that story I shared about Cliff. He was able to take my dilemma and show me the answer in less than five minutes with two simple questions. Why? Because he’d face similar situations in his entrepreneurial journey.
One more thing. These principles apply to every area of our lives: finances, health, parenting, marriage, faith, you name it. Find a group of peers related to that area you want to grow, make sure they share your same values, and make sure you have at least one person who has blazed the trail before you. Remember what Solomon said, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed.”
I’m Darrell Darnell, and this has been Stuff I Learned Yesterday episode 570, “Counsel of the Wise.” Next week is the penultimate episode of the season! I hope this season has you motivated to dream big. Get ready to take steps forward next week. There are just 2 episodes remaining in this season, and I’d love to hear how this season has inspired you. Please reach out to me and let me know. And if I get enough responses, I’ll put together a bonus episode in between this season and the next one. You can reach out to me on Twitter at GSMPodcasts, Facebook, or our feedback page.