Leaders as Humble as They are Successful

Refreshingly candid conversations with some of today's most humble leaders. Adam Kaufman dives into topics often left unexplored. His guests’ challenges, fears, and motivations show what it takes to become a humble leader.

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Joe Pulizzi: "The Godfather's" Goal-Setting Practice that could Change Your Life

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Joe Pulizzi is known as the Godfather of content marketing, but he knows the value in setting work aside from time to time. He has helped some of the biggest companies in the world with their marketing efforts and now, his concepts are heard in classrooms all over the world, helping to shape the next generation of marketing professionals. In recent years, a large portion of Joe’s attention has shifted to helping people in need and investing time in those most important to him.

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Adam Kaufman:
Hello. My name is Adam Kaufman and I'm thankful you're joining us today on the Up2 podcast. I want to tell you about a group that I'm grateful for and that is Townhall, Cleveland's most popular restaurant and one that I can say is the only place my wife tells me she can eat every meal, breakfast, lunch and dinner. Townhall was the first all non-GMO restaurant in the U.S. a few years ago and they're now expanding into Columbus, Ohio soon. I'm also very selective about who we choose to partner with for this podcast and it was with open arms that I embraced the idea of partnering with Bobby George and Townhall. To learn more about what they're up to, You can visit townhallohiocity.com

Adam Kaufman:
Hi. I'm Adam Kaufman and you're listening to the Up2 podcast. I've been fortunate throughout my career to be networking and serving and working with some of the most successful and influential who are leaders in America. Eight years ago we started Up2 as a live event series which showcase leaders who I thought were as humble as they are successful. The humility piece is very important as we identified these leaders who can hopefully inspire others. Over the years we've interviewed trailblazers from the fields of medicine, from business, from the military, nonprofit leaders, from politics and more. We really focus our interviews on the non-business aspects of their lives and we found that there is a real thirst to explore their hearts and their minds and maybe 8 typical ways. So time and again attendees have up to asked us to expand the event so that more people could participate and benefit from the special conversations taking place.

Adam Kaufman:
That's why we started this podcast. Our guest today has had nothing short of a remarkable career, a three peat entrepreneur, a five time author and a marketing industry expert. Joe Pulizzi is a household name of some of the world's largest companies, including Microsoft, Walmart, Discover and Marriott. In 2007, Joe founded Content Marketing Institute an organization aimed at marketing education and training as well as responsible for hosting Content Marketing World. A major conference that annually brings together 3,500 attendees from more than 60 countries. Pulizzi's professional success as centered on the concept of content marketing. We'll spend a lot of time on that today. He coined that phrase more than 15 years ago and now the strategy is a component of most marketing campaigns and it's taught in marketing classes and implemented by businesses and marketing consultants worldwide. One of our guest books Epic Content Marketing was named by Fortune Magazine as a five must read business book a couple of years ago.

Adam Kaufman:
He also enjoys public speaking. He's even spoken at more than 400 different events and we'll delve into his nonprofit work today also. When not speaking in person, Joe is recording This Old Marketing, a podcast with a confusing name but is very influential. He co-hosts with Robert Rose, where they discuss content marketing trends, strategies for businesses and the latest on what's happening in the industry. Following the sale of Content Marketing Institute, Joe turned his focus to the Orange Effect Foundation. Joe and his wife, Pam, were inspired to create the foundation after their son Joshua was diagnosed with autism at age two. The Orange Effect issues needs based grants to 175 families a year. Throughout the U.S. who desires speech therapy for children with speech disorders. Joe, welcome to the Up2 podcast.

Joe Pulizzi:
Did you write that yourself? Because-

Adam Kaufman:
What have you been up to?

Joe Pulizzi:
That was a lot of detail because that's more than what my bio says. You've gone through the depths of the internet to find all kinds of crazy information about me. But thank you for having me. I'm honored.

Adam Kaufman:
It is a show featuring leaders who are as humble as they are successful and you truly are humble and that's why we invited you. But I wanted the listeners to hear about our guests accomplishments. I knew you wouldn't share them. All of... it's true though, right? All of it was accurate?

Joe Pulizzi:
Yes. It's fairly accurate. People. The one thing about content marketing, a lot of people say that I coined that phrase. Technically I did not coin it. It was used in 1995 but probably I popularized it and we were lucky it took off and it was needed. I still love everything about the industry because of business. We can get into some of the details of it but the idea that a business can develop a loyal audience and a trusted audience by putting out their own content just like you are with this podcast but they're doing it, I'm going to give a gift to my customers and we're going to create this loyalty and this communication bond with my customers. If we do this really well, my customers will buy all kinds of additional things from us. That's what we've seen companies do successfully. I just love giving out value instead of saying, "I have all these things to sell, would you buy them?"

Adam Kaufman:
We're going to delve into that extensively. But at the beginning I always like to ask our guests, if they've ever been on a podcast before? You have your own show and you've been on many others. Did you tell me that you've been on 200 shows?

Joe Pulizzi:
Probably around 200.

Adam Kaufman:
What do you think of the medium of podcasting? This long form conversation?

Joe Pulizzi:
Let's just look at it from an audio standpoint. Audio is the channel I think is the biggest opportunity going forward. No doubt about it because it is the one area that people who listened to whatever they listened to, can also multitask. I can listen to it while working out. I can move along, whatever they're going to do. You've got the home appliances, like you've got Amazon, you've got Echo, you've got a Google assistant, you've got Apple. They're all creating these home devices. The last I heard, one in every four households has some type of a device like that and those that do have two or three in their house. We need more audio content to fill the speakers of those systems, let alone what we're doing right here in a podcast, which has growing year over year substantially as more people listen to podcasts, as you can tell, I can't rave about it enough.

Joe Pulizzi:
I think it's a huge opportunity. The one example that I share is when I used to go out and do speaking events. Whatever country I was in, I would get people coming up to me afterwards and they said, "Joe, we love what Content Marketing Institute is doing or Joe, I love your last book. It was fantastic or I love your blog post." As soon as we started This Old Marketing podcast, that all stopped. It was always, "We love the podcast" I mean, almost 99%. I can't rave on it enough. Just from my personal experience, let alone what I'm... you're talking to people, your podcast is growing like crazy. It's just amazing what's happening.

Adam Kaufman:
In addition to the Up2 podcasts, which is of course, one of your favorites, what else do you like to listen to?

Joe Pulizzi:
Fantastic. I flipped... I look for the guests. From a-

Adam Kaufman:
You look fore the guests.

Joe Pulizzi:
I love the James Altucher Show podcast but I'd always look at who the guests are. Similar to the guests that you have on your show. I'm looking for an insight. Maybe it's something financially I'm looking for from a... I need a half hour of downtime. Conan O'Brien, his podcast is fantastic.

Adam Kaufman:
It's funny you say that. Sorry to interrupt. I'm on a five hour drive tomorrow. Today I was downloading podcasts to listen to for my drive and I searched for people not with like a Show Loyalty and I searched, I have to confess Howard Stern. A Conan O'Brien interview of Howard Stern came up. I downloaded that today.

Joe Pulizzi:
That's a good one. I've listened to that one, I mean it's fantastic. It's-

Adam Kaufman:
Do you think Conan O'Brien downloaded our episode for himself?

Joe Pulizzi:
You know that would be interesting to find out.

Adam Kaufman:
Let's just leave that one hanging. Dave Doug, our producer, Dave Douglas, we'll take care of that.

Joe Pulizzi:
We got to make that happen.

Adam Kaufman:
That is interesting though. On a serious note, you search for the content, not necessarily a show. You don't always listen to the same show.

Joe Pulizzi:
Yeah. I probably have subscribed to about let's say 30 podcasts.

Adam Kaufman:
That's a lot.

Joe Pulizzi:
And then I'll see in the new episodes. Okay, that one I'll go maybe five and this one I want to listen to. It's all download that one, that one, that one. But I would probably say I listened to three or four podcasts a week at this point and I always do when I'm running. I-

Adam Kaufman:
Working out as the most common and traveling is what I hear when people listen the most. I don't mean to stay on the business of podcasting here but it seems relevant because it's one of your areas of expertise. In researching you found in several places, we were joking about it before but the godfather of content marketing is what you've been called by many. How do you think about that? I mean, you're younger than me. I mean do you... how are you a godfather of anything and it's a compliment.

Joe Pulizzi:
Well, first of all, it's really strange. The first time that somebody introduced me and it was for a speaking event, I was a keynoting in some event. This is about 2012, 11, 12 or something like that.

Adam Kaufman:
How old were you in 2012.

Joe Pulizzi:
Third... let's see, I'm 46 now, [crosstalk 00:09:06] godfather. That happened and I'm going out on stage and I'm thinking as I'm going, I wanted to be focused on the speech. I wanted to give a good performance but I just heard somebody call me the godfather of content marketing. I said, "What the heck is that?" I was like, "It sounds like James [inaudible 00:09:27] is going to come and cover me up on stage. Is that how it's going to work?" And then somebody tweeted it out and then it just took off. Now I was like, "What do I do with that?" I just leaned into it.

Adam Kaufman:
Yeah, embrace it.

Joe Pulizzi:
So People-

Adam Kaufman:
There are worst things you could be called.

Joe Pulizzi:
Well the other thing is I got from the content council in 2014. I got the lifetime achievement award and I'm like, "Whatever, 43, 44." And I'm like, "What do you..." When you get a lifetime achievement award at 43, do you... are you done?

Adam Kaufman:
Hang it up.

Joe Pulizzi:
I've had a good life. I guess I'll just hang them up and do something else. No, it was a great honor.

Adam Kaufman:
Yeah. It is.

Joe Pulizzi:
But it was...it is curious.

Adam Kaufman:
We know you haven't hunged it up. We are aware of a lot of the different things that you do, different settings, written form, podcasting, live events. You speak at events as varied as major keynotes in Eastern Europe. You have something coming up to small town chambers of commerce events. Do you ever think about who is being influenced by you or who is your audience? Do you think about that that much in the big picture?

Joe Pulizzi:
There's two ways I think about it because I have to go back to when we were growing Content Marketing Institute. I'm an entrepreneur, we're trying to grow the company. We had a goal to sell that company. I'm thinking about this from a marketing perspective. I'm thinking about who's the audience, how can we provide them value on a consistent basis? Growing my network was part of the business model because I'm out there, I'm supposed to make it rain so I can help everyone else out. That's the first part. And then not that I retired or anything but in 2018, I took a sabbatical and took some time off. I want to spend more time with the family. Now as I'm starting to create content again and me being maybe pickier about where I speak, all I want to do is affect people in a positive way. If that's a small business owner in Willoughby, Ohio, I want to absolutely do that.

Joe Pulizzi:
If that's a Marketer for one of the largest companies in the world and I can help them with their job in some way, I want to do that. The Content Marketing World in 2019, Henry Rollins, the Punk Rocker.

Adam Kaufman:
That's your big conference. For our listeners who don't understand, you have an annual conference and it's called Content Marketing World.

Joe Pulizzi:
Content Marketing World. It's held every year in Cleveland, Ohio. They get about 4,000 marketers from all over the world.

Adam Kaufman:
Tremendous.

Joe Pulizzi:
One of their keynotes this year was Henry Rollins. I suggest everyone look him up

Adam Kaufman:
A Rocker.

Joe Pulizzi:
He's a great content producer but he said something about... he said, "My goal in life is to deliver as much value to my audience as possible and I want the content to be so good, I'm going to change their lives." And I just listened to that and I'm like, "Yeah, that's what I wanted. That's what I want to do." I don't have a business goal right now anymore of, "I got to get the podcast." I'm just trying to be helpful, just trying to affect people in a positive way. What's great about this podcast and other things that I do, you get the opportunity to do things and to reach people that you'd never have the opportunity to do.

Adam Kaufman:
You have that platform.

Joe Pulizzi:
It's 15 years ago. 20, I mean, 15, 20 years ago, this would not have been possible. What we did at Content Marketing Institute or what we're doing right now. It's just-

Adam Kaufman:
It's exciting time.

Joe Pulizzi:
It's wonderful to have to talk to people that you'd never get a chance to meet.

Adam Kaufman:
let's back things up a little bit. Back before you started your business, your first business, you were working inside a somewhat large company. Was there a moment when you decided you wanted to go out on your own and start a business or were you always wired that way, do you think? Or is there something that really crystallized your motives to make that big leap?

Joe Pulizzi:
I was a kid that had a notebook with me at all times. I still do. I always scratch down business ideas, which were all silly, like, "I want to start this newsletter for farmers." Or whatever it was. I would scratch this stuff down all the time. I had an opportunity, I was working at a big business to business company. This is a... what year is this? This is 2005 2006 and I've got two small kids at the time, three and six. I'm working in the corporate environment, learning about marketing and I kept talking over and over to my wife about, "Boy this business idea. I really would like to do something with that." She finally told me and this was in 2006, she said, "Joe, you keep talking about this every day. You need to make a decision. Either go do it and stop talking about it."

Adam Kaufman:
That was about a year of thinking about it?

Joe Pulizzi:
It's about... of that particular idea of just thinking about it and what-

Adam Kaufman:
It takes some courage though to make the leap and leave that secure paycheck every two weeks environment.

Joe Pulizzi:
Entrepreneurs will understand this, you wait... as a first time I hadn't been an entrepreneur yet. I've been thinking about it my whole life. I was waiting for the right moment. And as you know, you know the right answer. There is no right moment. There's always something that gets in the way, because I'm thinking, "My kids are three and five, three and six years old, there's no way, now is not the right time. We can barely afford our mortgage."

Adam Kaufman:
Risk reward.

Joe Pulizzi:
One of the reasons is my wife believed in me enough in this crazy idea. She said, "Look, we'll be okay." We had the Bologna and Ramen noodle in years and we made it through and we cut corners and we said, "We can live with it. We've had one car." And I mean that-

Adam Kaufman:
But it's great your wife had buy-in, so she was with you on this big decision to leave the [inaudible 00:15:07]

Joe Pulizzi:
She supported me. I finally said, "Okay, this was the end of 2006." I said, "Okay, we're going to do it." We agreed together as a couple that by the end of March in 2007, I would make the decision and jump.

Adam Kaufman:
You gave yourself a deadline.

Joe Pulizzi:
I gave notice in February of that year. It was funny as my last official day at the corporate... in the corporate environment was the last day of March in 2007 on an April 2nd, 2007 what became known as Content Marketing Institute began.

Adam Kaufman:
Awesome. There are a lot of would be entrepreneurs who listened to the show. I hear from them and they're still inside that corporate world and they haven't had that April leap yet that you just described. What do you say to them about their own analysis of should I do this or not? I know it's hard because you don't even know these people but any words of wisdom now that you're on the other side of that big decision?

Joe Pulizzi:
I can say no regrets or go bigger, go home and all those cliche things, which I totally believe in by the way. But I think the most important thing is who do you want to be? Who do you want to affect?

Adam Kaufman:
Who do you want to be? Who do you want to affect?

Joe Pulizzi:
Who do you want affect in a positive way? When you see yourself in five years, what do you see? Ask the tough-

Adam Kaufman:
The tough questions. Yeah.

Joe Pulizzi:
... questions because the one thing... you and I have talked about this before. I'm a big, big proponent of goal setting.

Adam Kaufman:
Yes.

Joe Pulizzi:
I have my goals in different categories and I keep them in a notebook at all times. I review those goals on a daily basis. I would tell those would be entrepreneurs that first of all, figure out what are your career goals? What are your financial goals? What are your-

Adam Kaufman:
Independence.

Joe Pulizzi:
Yeah. What are your spiritual goals? Look at all of them. What are your family goals? What are your physical goals? I look at all those things because it's not just about career and financial with entrepreneurship, it's a lifestyle.

Adam Kaufman:
It is a lifestyle.

Joe Pulizzi:
It affects everything you do. Once you have an idea of really what you want and by the way, these answers don't come all at once.

Adam Kaufman:
And it didn't happen overnight.

Joe Pulizzi:
No.

Adam Kaufman:
But that's what we're asking for now is your wisdom looking backwards now and you have the ability to do that.

Joe Pulizzi:
I knew that I wanted to start a business and-

Adam Kaufman:
Be your own boss.

Joe Pulizzi:
Never report to anybody again. That's a goal I could write down. Let's just take that one goal. At the end of every evening before I went to sleep, I would read that goal. [crosstalk 00:17:37] So that I would subconsciously think about that in my brain. A lot of times when you watch like Olympic athletes right after they perform their gold medal winning feet, they say they pictured themselves crossing the finish line or doing the triple flips. You're envisioning you making this big decision with this goal. I am totally into the whole visualization thing. If I review that the night before and I review it when I get up in the morning, what it does is... and you do make a lot of decisions without thinking when you have this in your brain-

Adam Kaufman:
Subconsciously.

Joe Pulizzi:
... and your brain is thinking about it-

Adam Kaufman:
Because it's part of you.

Joe Pulizzi:
Let's say for example, that that's your goal. Your goal is that you want to start this business at some point, whatever it is. Maybe you're not going to dig in email first thing in the morning because you got to work on your project.

Adam Kaufman:
That's good.

Joe Pulizzi:
Because you'll... then you'll say-

Adam Kaufman:
The goal dictates your decision making.

Joe Pulizzi:
The goal dictates your behavior or this... and this has affected me. It's like, "Maybe I shouldn't dig right into Facebook and Twitter in the morning because I need to work on this other project somewhere. I need to write this article, I need... because that's my goal that I just read." It makes a huge difference.

Adam Kaufman:
Maybe I shouldn't eat pizza tonight because I'm giving a speech in Geneva next week and I want to look a little less heavy on stage.

Joe Pulizzi:
My God. It's so funny about that. I'll tell you one of my physical goals. One of my physical goals and I've had this goal for 10 years now, is to stay in 34 pants because... and I've struggled with that. There was a time very recently that I was busting out of my 34 since I was eating way too much pizza. And I'm like, "Okay, I'm reading this goal. I'm not abiding by, what do I need to do? I've seen exercise a little bit more. I need to not snack so much at night." You make some changes. I'll tell you what? It works. It seems almost silly because-

Adam Kaufman:
No. Its does work.

Joe Pulizzi:
... it's like writing this thing down but I... and I also say, write it down. Actually use a pen or a pencil and paper because writing that down, I believe in the research that I've seen really helps in addition to reviewing it every day. And then the other thing... the last thing I would say to answer your question is tell some people you love, tell some people in your life what you're trying to do.

Adam Kaufman:
[inaudible 00:19:47] accountability.

Joe Pulizzi:
So that they can support you.

Adam Kaufman:
I like that.

Joe Pulizzi:
That does make it... so I would tell my wife, "Hey, this is what I'm trying to do. I'm trying to stay in 34 pants. So maybe we...

Adam Kaufman:
You can give me some heat when I want to eat pizza.

Joe Pulizzi:
Yeah. Give me some heat. Maybe that chocolate cookie is not a good idea but that chocolate cookie looks so good right now.

Adam Kaufman:
You're touching on something I planned on bringing up. That's your three R's, is goal setting. It drives my family a little crazy. I have listed all, I have weekly goals, monthly goals, daily goals. I actually write things down in part for the joy of being able to cross the line through them. It just feels good seeing the list of things that are complete. What are the three R's? Tell our group, our audience here about your three R's.

Joe Pulizzi:
I have a speech that I've been giving that and I've written a lot on it and I talked to entrepreneurs. My mentor about this strategy and this is the good, this is the way that you start as I think, as just being a productive human being. And Then one his record we just talked about that write down your desires, whatever they may be in those categories we just talked about. That's record. The second one is review, review those goals on a regular basis. We just talked about that. And then the third one, which we haven't talked about is remove. So what-

Adam Kaufman:
Is that the crossing through that I just mentioned.

Joe Pulizzi:
A part of that. But the bigger thing is what is in your way that you are not accomplishing those goals?

Adam Kaufman:
I see.

Joe Pulizzi:
Remove that. For example... I'll give you an example-

Adam Kaufman:
Remove a barrier.

Joe Pulizzi:
One of my friends wanted to accomplish something in their lives and they told me that they didn't have any time. But then as we were reviewing what they were doing on our daily basis, I said, "Okay, well according to what you're telling me, you're doing it on a daily basis, you're watching two, three hours of television a day. And I think that that's stopping you from accomplishing your goal." They didn't really realize it. It was just an, "I'm getting... I'm watching this on YouTube or I watched this series. No but I want to. I love big brother."[crosstalk 00:21:43]

Adam Kaufman:
Screen time.

Joe Pulizzi:
Whatever, screen time. I'm like, "That's fine to have some screen time but you got to realize that two to three hours a day is really valuable time. You have the time. You have to make some decisions to get rid of." That could be, "I have people in my life that are bad influence. I need to get rid of those people like it or not, that's going to... I'm doing things in my life." Maybe there's health things that you're doing, you're eating things, you're drinking things, whatever it is. You have to get rid of those things to accomplish, number one and to review and make number one happen. Those are the three R's. They're so incredibly simple. I've been doing this for 20 years. That it actually worked.

Adam Kaufman:
Did you come up with those ideas on your own or did someone teach that to you? Do you have any mentors?

Joe Pulizzi:
I mean, I'm a voracious reader these days. I mean I look at Stephen Covey. Pick all that up from...I mean, I read Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert Heinlein, which is a fiction book, which I pulled some of this stuff out of, which I absolutely love. A number of other books that I would recommend. I love Seth Goden from a marketing standpoint. He talks about these things a lot.

Adam Kaufman:
Really into planning and goal setting and goals achieving.

Joe Pulizzi:
Absolutely. This is nothing new. You can find this on any self-help book.

Adam Kaufman:
Because you're choosing to implement it. It's harder to do than people realize.

Joe Pulizzi:
I tried to do all that I did was I simplified it for me. This process works for me. I mean, when I speak, I use a Bruce Lee, the martial artist as an example because he wrote down, he called it his chief aim.

Adam Kaufman:
Martial artists slash movie story star.

Joe Pulizzi:
Movie star. in 19... I can't remember the date, 70 something, 72, 73. He wrote down his mission. It basically, he set his goals.

Adam Kaufman:
He wanted to be a movie star.

Joe Pulizzi:
He wanted to be the biggest Asian movie star on the planet. He wanted to have more... I think you said to more than $10 million and you want to be the most successful ever. He accomplished that goal. Something like four years from when he wrote this.

Adam Kaufman:
Pretty quickly.

Joe Pulizzi:
Unfortunately, he passed away soon after that but he accomplished all of those goals and he did it because he wrote it down and he reviewed it on a regular basis and I'm like, "This is this amazing."

Adam Kaufman:
Tremendous.

Joe Pulizzi:
This is just so simple.

Adam Kaufman:
You are listening to the Up2 podcast. We'll be right back. Right now. I'd like to take a moment to talk to you about Calfee, Halter & Griswold, a full service corporate law firm with attorneys throughout Ohio and in Washington D.C. Calfee's mission has been to provide meaningful legal and business counsel to entrepreneurs and investors, private business owners and nonprofits, public corporations. I've referred many successful entrepreneurs and investors to Calfee, knowing how well they'd be taken care of and it's for those reasons that I would encourage you to visit their website, calfee.com that's C-A-L-F-E-E dot com. Thank you very much to Calfee.

Adam Kaufman:
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Adam Kaufman:
Welcome back to the Up2 podcast with Adam Kaufman. Our guest today is Joe Pulizzi. You in starting Content Marketing World and the Content Marketing Institute, what came first? The idea for a conference or a company? I've been really anxious to ask you about that because I love live events.

Joe Pulizzi:
I don't want to go too far into this because I could tell you the whole story. But in 2007 the initial thought was we were going to offer a matching service. It was like the harmony for God to marketing. That's what we... we were actually launching a product. Well it failed miserably, it didn't work at all. I couldn't get the agencies to pay for the service. It was like a lead gen service for content marketing agencies couldn't get into pay for it. In 2009, I'm ready to give up. I'm actually looking for a job. I'm like, "This is not going to work. I have totally failed." I felt sorry for my-

Adam Kaufman:
How many... that was, Let's see 2007 you started, so it was two years.

Joe Pulizzi:
Two years later. A little over two years later.

Adam Kaufman:
I didn't know this. You actually had a little bit of a curve in the road in that way there.

Joe Pulizzi:
I mean I had to do the pivot like that. You hear the... so 2009, I had this moment where I'm not going to make it. And then I still-

Adam Kaufman:
Who were you leaning on then to help you. Was that an alone situation?

Joe Pulizzi:
It was-

Adam Kaufman:
Because on the phrase it's lonely at the top really is a true phrase. And the higher the top the lonelier can be. I'm always interested in knowing how people get through moments like that.

Joe Pulizzi:
I was basically... my wife, my wife is my best friend.

Adam Kaufman:
You could lean on that.

Joe Pulizzi:
Yeah. I was leaning on her but I wasn't telling anybody else. I certainly didn't tell anyone I was looking for a job because I thought that, "My goodness, this is the biggest form of failure that I have to go get." But we had... we couldn't pay the bills. I had to figure something out. We were totally in the red with this.

Adam Kaufman:
How many employees did you have at that point?

Joe Pulizzi:
No. We had none. We were all contract based. And then I'm like, "Okay, well," I started... I took about two weeks and then I started to look at the feedback coming from my blog and people sending me emails. So my blog, luckily I started at the same time, I started a regular blog on content marketing and I've starting to build an audience and I'm like, "Okay, nobody's buying this stuff. Nobody's using the service that we're trying to launch. What do they really want?" I just started to listen to my audience, which was the first mistake. I should have done that in the first place.

Adam Kaufman:
Listen to your customers. Some phrases cannot withstand the test of time because they're true.

Joe Pulizzi:
And I started to listen to them and looked at these emails that they were sending me and they were saying, "Joe, we really need content marketing training our staffs doesn't understand it." "Joe, is there an event for content marketing?" "Joe, is there a place that I can go for regular information on how to improve my content marketing skills?"

Adam Kaufman:
There's a real hunger for what you were about to do.

Joe Pulizzi:
Then I said, "My goodness. It was..." and I came from media and I was like, "It's looking at me right in the face. I didn't do it." And I said, "And I remember because I think I was having a drink at the time when this whole idea came to me." Because [inaudible 00:28:32]I wrote it on a cocktail napkin. And it said, "Okay, we are going to be." And this was when I wrote down that goal.

Adam Kaufman:
This is your Bruce Lee moment.

Joe Pulizzi:
This is it. I said, "We are going to be the leading providers of information in the content marketing industry." The number one online destination, the number one in person event and the number one print magazine. That was in 2009, we launched Content Marketing Institute officially in May of 2010. In January of 2011 we launched the magazine Chief Content Officer and in September of 2011, we launched Content Marketing World and we accomplished all those goals by basically 2013.

Adam Kaufman:
In four years you hit your Beehag.

Joe Pulizzi:
Yeah.

Adam Kaufman:
That's tremendous.

Joe Pulizzi:
It was a miracle.

Adam Kaufman:
It was some resilience on your part, some humility knowing you had to pivot and an execution. You clearly had to execute well on your ideas. What do you think led to the success of the live event? Me, I have this observation in the digital age we're in with everything available at our literal fingertips. There's a real thirst for in-person, curated content and the higher the... not the higher the level. The more discerning the individual, the more thirsty they are for trusted content. I feel more than ever these live events can resonate with people if done right. Is that what you have found?

Joe Pulizzi:
I am. I'm totally biased now but I am a huge believer in events and Whoever's listening to this, whatever industry you're in-

Adam Kaufman:
Convene people.

Joe Pulizzi:
... You need to make it a point in your career and your growth and whatever you're going to do to go to the events in your industry. They're important. I always say, because the... basically by October you'll know what events are going on in the next year. You should sit down and go through, here's the events I have to make an appointment-

Adam Kaufman:
Privatize your [inaudible 00:30:26]

Joe Pulizzi:
... because Content Marketing World would not have existed, would not have grown unless in 2005, six, seven, eight, nine and 10, I was going to all these events, meeting all these people, because all of those people that I met ended up speaking at the first content marketing role and helping to make that a success. So-

Adam Kaufman:
This podcast, I have guests that I'm really surprised are willing to fly here to be with us because I met them in other settings at other conferences and started a relationship. I know what you mean. And I think we as an American business society, we underestimate still the value of live events. Even though Wall Street Journal, Fortune Magazine, they're now in the events business.

Joe Pulizzi:
That's right.

Adam Kaufman:
But there's still plenty of room in the marketplace. I think for more, if you were going to say outside of audio content, I would say in-person content is right there because you're right with... especially with social media and people communicating on a regular basis, these people still want to meet each other. We're human beings. We need social interactions and we just can't have them all dating.

Joe Pulizzi:
Social media doesn't solve everything.

Adam Kaufman:
But it can lead to really good in person situations, which is what I would recommend too. Do you think it was a hard decision to sell Content Marketing Institute or was that something that was obvious what you should do? Do you mind talking?

Joe Pulizzi:
No. I don't mind. I talk about it a lot. Because entrepreneurs often really struggle with that decision to sell or not. I made the decision early on and it was one of my goals, my financial goals to sell the company. When we started the crazy business matching service in 2007 I had the number that I said basically by 2015 I wanted to sell the business.

Adam Kaufman:
You even had a time goal before you achieved that scaled success.

Joe Pulizzi:
I had a time goal and a number goal. I said that by this time for this number. I knew when we got in... when Content Marketing Institute and Content Marketing World started to grow. I knew the revenue and the profit that we had to get to in order to go and take it out to market. Now unfortunately we didn't hit it in 2015 we hit it in 2016 but I was one year off. But reading that goal on a regular basis-

Adam Kaufman:
It helped drive you.

Joe Pulizzi:
You make decisions based on that. Now, some entrepreneurs don't want to sell but when I talked to entrepreneurs, I say, "You don't have to sell but you need to have an exit strategy." Should I like, "Is it going to your kids? Do you have partners?" Because you're not going to do... you're not going to be around all the time. You're not going to do this. What's your legacy going to be? Just think about those things. And when, usually when I talk to entrepreneurs, most of them don't even have what the exit's going to be, let alone that they're going to sell.

Adam Kaufman:
None of them. I mean, my day job is venture capital and none of them have a date in a dollar amount like you apparently did.

Joe Pulizzi:
No.

Adam Kaufman:
That's amazing.

Joe Pulizzi:
It's a lot easier to make the decision to sell when you made it five, seven years before it was even an inkling-

Adam Kaufman:
That's tremendous.

Joe Pulizzi:
... possibility to do that. That's what I would recommend. If you're an entrepreneur and you're listening to this, you'd say, "At some point I would like an exit for $10 million and 15 million." Or whatever it is. Write that down. I mean, that could change. You could change it.

Adam Kaufman:
There's no goal [inaudible 00:33:37] other than you.

Joe Pulizzi:
But right now if that's what you want or you want to keep this and you want to give it to your son or your daughter what you-

Adam Kaufman:
Go public.

Joe Pulizzi:
Fine. Yeah, go public. You should have those things now because you have to start making decisions now so that in year 10 you can reach that goal.

Adam Kaufman:
Now I know that after you sold and before now in between, you had a bit of an unplugged period in your life. What was that like? What inspired you to unplug? I know you were totally off the grid but you did really scale back a lot of things.

Joe Pulizzi:
It was November and my last official day at Content Marketing Institute was going to be the end of 2017 and everyone was asking, "Joe, what are you going to do? What's next? What's next?" That's how I thought about the idea of a sabbatical because I was talking to my wife and I'm like, "I don't know what to tell them." And then we thought about, "You know what, let's really spend some time with the family, not focused on doing anything. And really take the time for you."

Adam Kaufman:
What an enviable position to be in.

Joe Pulizzi:
By the way, anybody can do it but we can talk about that in a second. I basically said, "Okay, I'm going to do this sabbatical." But part of that was, the first 30 days I was going to completely the disconnect. No social media, no email, no phone. Only used phone for messaging for my kids and my wife.

Adam Kaufman:
For a godfather of content marketing, that is particularly hard to do. I mean it's hard for anyone but this was your life marketing, social media. It was... I was always being on.

Joe Pulizzi:
I was itchy the first couple of weeks. But I'll tell you what, once I got through that itchiness period, it was, I can't recommend it enough.

Adam Kaufman:
Do you think now you might do that like one week a year or you might keep some aspect of that in your return to all of us in the crazy world of excel spreadsheets and selling and closing deals now.

Joe Pulizzi:
I do a couple of days a week where I'm not doing anything.

Adam Kaufman:
Awesome.

Joe Pulizzi:
Basically, Today's a Friday. Friday is sort of a work day for me. Thursday and Friday are workdays. Basically Monday and Tuesday. No[inaudible 00:35:41]

Adam Kaufman:
You're able during this 30 days to make your kids school lunches every day or breakfast. Did you say like you saw them every morning?

Joe Pulizzi:
Every morning. I still do school lunches. That's my thing. I don't... nobody's taking that away from me.

Adam Kaufman:
Awesome.

Joe Pulizzi:
I'm getting up in the morning. I wake them up in the morning and I do their lunches and my job in the house and that's what was interesting because I was all the time, I traveled more than 50% of the time.

Adam Kaufman:
More than 50. I'm 50% and that's a lot.

Joe Pulizzi:
It is a lot. You know how it is. I wasn't around to do the laundry, to be around, to do some of the things around the house that needed to be done. Now I'm home and I'm talking to my wife about some of these things and she's doing her... what she's always done. I said, "I need some jobs. I'm not smart enough yet to just notice things." We agreed that there were certain jobs like doing the dishes. She's not allowed to touch the dishes. I do the dishes if she... when she does the dishes, I get furious because I'm like, "You took my job." That, "Don't take my job."

Adam Kaufman:
You need your space.

Joe Pulizzi:
I need those types of things. And then the other 11 months we had... my wife and I and the family, we had a bucket list of all the things we wanted to do as a family. We took a cruise together. We did a roller coaster, trips. My son loves roller coasters. So we went to all kinds of amusement parks. I spent more time with the kids and I felt like got to know them.

Adam Kaufman:
How do you put a price tag on that? That's just tremendous.

Joe Pulizzi:
And I'm trying, I'm hopefully I'm doing a good job trying not to lose that-

Adam Kaufman:
All of it.

Joe Pulizzi:
As we go on. But what I would... people always... and I get it, I could make that decision because we didn't have any financial constraints. But what I would say is anybody can take a weekend. Anybody can take a day. So put the phone down, put work away and really think about what's really-

Adam Kaufman:
Good encouragement.

Joe Pulizzi:
What's really important to you, because-

Adam Kaufman:
Just one day at a time.

Joe Pulizzi:
Anybody can take a sabbatical. But most of us, I see a lot of my friends that they're working-

Adam Kaufman:
Always on work.

Joe Pulizzi:
There's working on Friday night, Saturday, Sunday. They're checking their work email all the time. I'm like, "man-"

Adam Kaufman:
To what end?

Joe Pulizzi:
"...your family's right here. Your kids are going to be grown up and they're going to be out of the house in two seconds."

Adam Kaufman:
You ended the unplugged period with some meaningful memories and some ongoing aspects of your home life, which is terrific. But what have you been up to lately? I think you were writing a novel?

Joe Pulizzi:
Jeez. Yes. I've written five books, all nonfiction, all marketing books and I always had a goal that... you know, I've talked a lot about my wife and my best friend on this podcast but she never read any of my books. She never was never interested in reading my books and I said, "My goal-"

Adam Kaufman:
Did you write this for her?

Joe Pulizzi:
I wrote this for her, so I wrote... I know it's sappy-

Adam Kaufman:
Touching.

Joe Pulizzi:
... But it's... I can tell-

Adam Kaufman:
No. It is.

Joe Pulizzi:
My God. I really want her to read a book that I wrote.

Adam Kaufman:
Isn't it hard though to creatively, I mean, it's certainly a different type of writing than nonfiction, which is either your opinion or facts that occurred.

Joe Pulizzi:
So nonfiction is not terribly difficult because I write every day on [crosstalk 00:38:50]write a blog, usually blog posts almost every day or every other day. That's not a problem.

Adam Kaufman:
How do people subscribe to your blog post, by the way.

Joe Pulizzi:
Just go to joepulizzi.com. You can subscribe to my new thank you. Just subscribe to my newsletter. It's right there.

Adam Kaufman:
Got it.

Joe Pulizzi:
Fiction is so much different. I asked some friends, first of all, what do you do? How do I write a fiction book?

Adam Kaufman:
You were inspired about a certain topic or theme or-

Joe Pulizzi:
I had an idea. It was a bottom marketing guy.

Adam Kaufman:
Imagine that.

Joe Pulizzi:
I grew up in a funeral home. My grandfather and my uncle were both funeral directors.

Adam Kaufman:
This is true or this is a true story.

Joe Pulizzi:
This is a true story. I had an idea to bring the marketing world and the funeral home world together. I sort of had an idea for it and I go to my buddy and I say, "What should I do?" And he said, "What you should do is you should take the scenes and write like an outline and then you write out those scenes." And I said, "Okay, great." I get back and nothing happens. I couldn't write. I had total writer's block and this happened for months. I really could not figure this thing out.

Adam Kaufman:
Where did you write? In your home office or-

Joe Pulizzi:
In my coffee shop? I had tried everywhere.

Adam Kaufman:
I asked because I've tried too.

Joe Pulizzi:
Initially it was just the office and then that didn't work. I said, "Let me go to Panera Bread or Starbucks or something or Five Points in West park." No, nothing. I'm like, "What? Okay, this is not going to work." And then I listened to... and I can't remember his name but it was a James Altucher podcast and it was a writer and he said, "Look it, here's my advice to any writers, would be writers out there. Just sit down and write at least 500 words and whatever it is just right." And I'm like, "Okay, I'll give that a shot." And when you know it? After the first couple of days I started to get into a rhythm.

Adam Kaufman:
He was saying 500 a day.

Joe Pulizzi:
500 a day. I would write... I wrote 500 horrible words the first day and then 500 equally crappy words.

Adam Kaufman:
Were you still at a coffee shop or what was the setting

Joe Pulizzi:
No. I'm in the office.

Adam Kaufman:
Would you tell people like don't bother me because I one time thought I would write a book, this is before I went the podcast route instead and I decided I'm going to go to my favorite town of San Diego and have a personal retreat and write so much. But I forgot to tell the world that I was doing this and so I still got inundated with all of my normal work, a stimuli, emails, calls, texts, et cetera. I got nowhere. It ended up being just a nice vacation in San Diego.

Joe Pulizzi:
There you go.

Adam Kaufman:
I blocked out the time that I started.

Joe Pulizzi:
That's smart. Once I got into this rhythm I'm like okay, I can do this. Basically every morning for two hours I was stay in my office and my wife knew was like, "Don't bother Joe."

Adam Kaufman:
You're writing,

Joe Pulizzi:
I'm writing and the kids are in school. No big deal.

Adam Kaufman:
Especially since you're writing for her.

Joe Pulizzi:
She didn't know this at the time.

Adam Kaufman:
She knows now.[inaudible 00:41:30]

Joe Pulizzi:
She knows because she read it already.

Adam Kaufman:
It is the book out, is it done?

Joe Pulizzi:
It is done. I just finished the final version. I had multiple editors go through it and multiple reviewers.

Adam Kaufman:
Congratulations.

Joe Pulizzi:
It'll be out in Mid-November and I'm really singing an audio. Of course after this conversation It'll be released-

Adam Kaufman:
Real soon in November.

Joe Pulizzi:
It will be released- there's an audio version.

Adam Kaufman:
What's the title. Are we allowed to preview [inaudible 00:41:54]

Joe Pulizzi:
Yeah. It is the called The Will to Die.

Adam Kaufman:
The Will to Die.

Joe Pulizzi:
It is a mystery thriller. The main characters called Will Pollitt. He is a marketing guy who runs an agency. [inaudible 00:42:03] You a little bit, I don't know, maybe a little bit as at least my experiences-

Adam Kaufman:
since you [inaudible 00:42:07]

Joe Pulizzi:
He's a good looking bald gentleman. It's been a great experience and that was the learning from... the learning from me was the whole do the scene thing. Never worked for me. What worked for me is just everyday grinding it out. What happened is the initial thought for the idea is nothing like what Tim turned out. I'm in the middle of this book writing and I come down stairs. I talked to my wife and I said, "My God, you didn't never believe what the character did today." She's like, "Don't you know you're writing?" I'm like, "No. I had no idea. Just happened." This is the kind of stuff. The book is totally different from the original idea.

Adam Kaufman:
You had this pivot in the storyline that isn't in the same goal, three R's listing that you put your regular nonfiction life in.

Joe Pulizzi:
That's right. It's a more creative side of your brain and your heart may be coming up through the-

Adam Kaufman:
Fiction.

Joe Pulizzi:
The only thing that I did was... one of my goals was I wanted to finish my novel, my fiction book by the end of 2018 so that was the goal, which by the way, I didn't hit because I was still writing it. I read that all the time and I'm like, "What does that mean?" Like, "What do writers do?" And all I learned was writers right. So then my daily goal is get up every day and write whatever it is. That's the process. If you think about how do you take a big goal and break it into chunks. My chunk was Monday through Friday. Every morning for two hours I would write at least until I got to a thousand words.

Joe Pulizzi:
And then I actually finished the first draft, I think the third week of January. I missed the goal by three weeks and now it took six months of editing as you know, to go through that process. It's a little bit of both.

Adam Kaufman:
One of my goals today was to make sure we talked about the Orange Effect. Tell us about this foundation, you and your wife lead and what the mission of Orange Effect is.

Joe Pulizzi:
Thank you. The Orange Effect Foundation is dedicated to providing grants for children with speech disorders for families that can't afford them. Most of the kids that we provide grants for, between the ages of two and seven, a lot of them are on the autism spectrum and the families don't have the insurance and don't have the funding to pay for regular consistent speech therapy. That's what I believe in. That's my son who was diagnosed at two years old. He needed regular speech and play therapy 'till now he's 17 and he's looking at colleges. His things are fantastic.

Adam Kaufman:
Tremendous.

Joe Pulizzi:
But without that speech therapy that we could afford at the time, I don't know-

Adam Kaufman:
Some Insurance or people who don't have insurance, can't.

Joe Pulizzi:
Some insurance don't cover all of it. Maybe for example, they'll say, "We'll cover it one a month or two a month. Frankly, you need one two a week to really make an impact. What we do in Orange Effect, we'll say, "We will at least cover one a week." We try to cover 52 sessions.

Adam Kaufman:
Tremendous.

Joe Pulizzi:
Or somebody. We're a fundraising organization. We don't do the work. We identified the need, we get all kinds of applicants on a quarterly basis and we've got a great board that reviews all these. And then the money that we get goes straight to the speech therapist or the hospital.

Adam Kaufman:
Do you ever get to meet the families who benefit from your donations? What's that like?

Joe Pulizzi:
Yeah. It's pretty humbling actually. I've seen video. I saw... the one that I met is about a month ago, went out to Cleveland hearing and speech and some of our kids are out there and the one I've seen in videos but I didn't meet in person and I was able to meet him and her and the advancement that they made from going to not being able to have a conversation with somebody to actually talking to me was just, even doing God's work. It's just a little thing. It's a little thing that people don't think about it. Helping teach somebody how to communicate. They can't figure it out because their brains are wired a little bit different.

Adam Kaufman:
Because the family is benefiting from it.

Joe Pulizzi:
Man.

Adam Kaufman:
It's huge.

Joe Pulizzi:
We get the... I mean, when we do our... I have a golf outing every August and the families come in and everybody's crying and it's just... one of those types of things. But-

Adam Kaufman:
Do you think about legacy much. You're young but you are a godfather, so to speak. So do you think about legacy? David Brooks, one of my favorite writers, thinkers, former white house speech writer. He talks about the two documents, your resume and your eulogy, which do spend more time working on, and this is like a legacy initiative here with your foundation. Clearly It's not a resume pursuit.

Joe Pulizzi:
I don't think about it as... I need to start thinking about it as clearly as Mr. Brooks does. First and foremost, I always think about my two boys because that's me.

Adam Kaufman:
It begins there.

Joe Pulizzi:
It starts there. So do I... can I sit with them in the morning before they go to school? Can we have family dinner together? Those are the things that I think about now, spending time and Orange Effect is one of those things. Spending time with my wife and the people around me.

Adam Kaufman:
Do the boys get to be involved in the foundation. Now they're a little bit older.

Joe Pulizzi:
Yeah. I mean, so Joshua was the star of the whole thing and God bless him. He is okay with us using him in the latest campaign we have gone out, we're trying to fund 60 kids.

Adam Kaufman:
60 kids.

Joe Pulizzi:
It costs about 2,500 a kid for a year to cover their speech therapy and he's the... we took home video, home videos of him and put it together and then get him talking from grunting and squealing at age three and not having a vocabulary to telling a joke at our golfer autism event in August. Speaking clearly and well understood and he's a good, happy kid. Most important thing. That's what I think about is how many kids like Joshua weren't able to have that opportunity.

Adam Kaufman:
Your energy level is constantly high but your posture even goes to another level. When you talk about the foundation. It's really a noteworthy. What is the website for our listeners to visit if they want to learn more about-

Joe Pulizzi:
The orangeeffect.org is Orange Effect Foundation into Google. You'll see it everything when you get to the site.

Adam Kaufman:
Well put that on our website too.

Joe Pulizzi:
Thank you very much.

Adam Kaufman:
I want to thank you. The hour almost has gone so fast

Joe Pulizzi:
My goodness. That was fast.

Adam Kaufman:
I only wish we had more time. I may have to ask you back. Thank you for being with us today. It's been a true pleasure, Joe.

Joe Pulizzi:
Anytime my friend.

Adam Kaufman:
Congrats on all your success.

Joe Pulizzi:
Thank you. You as well.

Adam Kaufman:
What a jam packed episode today. Joe is so easy to speak to. These are the things I'm taking away from our conversation. Number one, writing down your goals and sharing your goals with the people you love will help you achieve them. Number two, pay close attention to people or events in your life that may be distractions. Number three, everyone should make it a point to attend the most important event in your industry. And finally, number four, Joe explained that anybody can take a day or a weekend to unplug and to just focus on the people most important to you. I could do a better job with that.

Adam Kaufman:
I love getting feedback. I tell everyone I accept all forms of feedback and we get it in the form of text messages, phone messages, email messages and of course live conversations and I do like to periodically share some of that feedback with you, our listeners. Today's feedback comes from Sam Corey, the CEO of Rebel Development Company and he wrote, "I listened to five new podcasts per week and your Up2 episode with Doug Holiday, is the first one I've ever decided to save. I've already listened to it twice because there's so many life lessons that he shares.

Adam Kaufman:
I want to incorporate them into my own life. Thank you so much Sam for sharing that with us. I'm thrilled that you found that episode to be so valuable. For any of you who do want to provide us feedback, you can email me directly at adamatuptofoundation.org and I hope you will consider rating and reviewing our show wherever you listen to the podcast. It really helps us. Up2 is a production of Evergreen podcasts. Special thanks to our producer and audio engineer, Dave Douglas. I'm your host, Adam Kaufman and thank you so much for listening to the Up2 podcast.

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