Today’s Guest Rich Brooks
Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Rich Brooks, a digital marketing whizz who's been riding the online wave for a whopping quarter of a century! As the brain behind Flyte New Media and the Agents of Change conference and podcast, Rich is the guiding light in the universe of search, social, and mobile marketing. Author of 'The Lead Machine,' he's the go-to resource for businesses eager to conquer the digital space. With regular appearances as the "tech guru" on Maine's NBC affiliates, Rich is quite literally the face of modern marketing! Buckle up for a fun digital ride with our very own tech-savvy superhero!
- Adaptability in Business: Rich emphasizes the importance of staying adaptable and evolving with technology in the digital marketing industry. His experience highlights how businesses can thrive by embracing change, particularly during unexpected situations like the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Personal Well-Being and Hobbies: Rich underlines the value of having hobbies outside of work, such as gardening and woodworking, to maintain a healthy work-life balance. These activities help him recharge and offer a contrast to his professional life, demonstrating the importance of personal well-being for overall success.
- Positive Social Impact and Business Ethics: The conversation reflects Rich's commitment to using his business as a force for good. Initiatives like the scholarship for students of color and his views on creating a value-driven company culture show the significance of corporate social responsibility and ethical entrepreneurship.
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Rich: [00:00:00] Uh, it's a constant battle. Some days it feels like I'm pushing that boulder up the hill the entire time, right? Um, there have been times that things have gone more smoothly and there are times where it's, uh, a complete cluster. And it's just so frustrating and you can't seem to get out of your own way.
Um, sometimes you just have to understand that if you are in this for the long haul, there will be ups and downs. And sometimes no matter... How smart you are, how clever you are, how well positioned you are. Things just don't go your way. And there have been times where I'm like, wow, things are going really well.
And then I'll look at like the last three or four projects we brought in. And I'm like, it was so random how we got those jobs. Like, what would my life be like if we hadn't gotten those jobs, if they hadn't discovered me, all that sort of stuff, which can be a dangerous game to play.
Matt: Well, hello and welcome to Push To Be More. I'm your host, Matt Edmundson, and we're about to dive into another deep [00:01:00] exploration of what truly fuels the journey of life. Oh yes, today, joining me today, I have an exciting guest, Rich Brooks from Flight New Media.
And it's fair to say that Rich and I have been on a fair few podcasts together. We're going to be delving into his unique life experience. Experience the hurdles he's had to push through, the way he kind of recharges his batteries and what steps he's taken to be more. Now don't forget, you can find all the show notes and the transcript of our conversation on our website, pushtobemore.
com. And while you're there, why not sign up for our newsletter? Each week we'll zip all of the show's insights, links and goodies, uh, directly to your inbox. Absolutely. Free. How cool is that? Now this episode is brought to you by aurion Media, champions of meaningful conversations and creators of powerful podcasts.
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com. That's [00:03:00] A U R I O N Media. com. Ladies and gentlemen. Let's meet Rich Brooks, a digital marketing whiz who's been riding the online wave for a whopping quarter of a century. As the brain behind Flight New Media and the Agents of Change conference and podcast, Rich is the guiding light in the universe of search, social and mobile marketing.
Author of The Lead Machine, he's the go to resource for businesses eager to conquer. The digital space with regular appearances as the tech guru on Maine's NBC affiliates. Rich is quite literally the face of modern marketing. So buckle up for a fun digital ride with our very own tech savvy superhero.
Rich, welcome to the podcast, man. It's great to have you. It's great to be talking to you again. How are we doing?
Rich: I'm just blown away by how good you made my bio sound. [00:04:00] I mean, you improved it tenfold over what you probably got off of my website or when I filled out the form. So I really appreciate that. Serious question. Did you ever take voice lessons? Because I'm listening to you and I'm like, I will buy whatever you're selling right now.
And I listen to my own voice and I'm cracking, it's like up and down like I'm 13 years old and going through puberty. So I don't know what you did, but you, you did it right.
Matt: Oh, bless you. I have no idea. Um, I, I, cause you, you've obviously, I mean, we were talking before we hit the record button. You have now, you're honing in on your 500th podcast episode on the Agents of
It is within reach.
Matt: Which is amazing, uh, and quite frankly, uh, I think it deserves some of this. Oh, yes.
I always like to be able to use my sound effects. Now, um, so, you know, you and I have done podcasting for a fair few while. We've been on each other's podcasts [00:05:00] a few times. And, um, One of the things that I learned early on was when you do stuff in podcasts and video, it, if you just talk like you normally talk, it kind of sucks any kind of feeling or intonation out of your voice, doesn't it?
You kind of have to over exaggerate a little bit for it to work on camera and for it to work on audio. I don't know if you've found that, at least that's what I was told, which is why I get a little bit more excited when I do the, uh, when I do the intros.
Rich: I do a little bit more. I kind of have my stage voice on. Uh, it's interesting though. Years ago, I interviewed a guy who, who was at the time running the Art of Charm. Uh, podcast
Matt: Oh, wow.
Rich: And he was talking to me about, um, how fake everybody was when they do podcast interviews. And I felt awful because I'm like, Hey, and here's Jordan from the, you know, it wasn't that bad, but you got to find that balance.
Rich: I, they're the perfect person is the person who definitely [00:06:00] brings energy to that conversation. Rises and falls as necessary, and at the same time doesn't come across as if they're a carnival barker, if they have those kind of things across the front.
Matt: No, but
I know what you mean.
Rich: that's the balance you want to find, I think.
Matt: Yeah. That's very true. That's very true. Uh, and it, it helps me when I read, I mean, I've mentioned this before on the podcast, uh, to, so if you're regular listening, you know what I'm talking about, the bios, um, that you, that, um, Sadaf, the show's producer gets, when she gets them, she, she started doing this thing where she rewrites them.
It's a bit like all the bios were a bit static and a bit boring, no offence if you've been on the show previously, but all bios are a bit sort of LinkedIn y, aren't they really? And so she's got into this habit of rewriting them in quite extraordinary ways, to the point where I think we should probably charge for this as a service,
Rich: agree. I mean, after me, obviously.
Matt: it's freebie for anybody who's a guest, you can use it,
Rich: I will tweak somebody's bio, and, and a lesson that I learned from, [00:07:00] um, was it Michael O'Neill of the Solopreneur? Our, I believe, was who told me, you never say the guest name until the end, like as if you were in the talk show. And ever since he said that, I'm like, oh, that's actually really cool.
So that's what I started doing. So I do minimal stuff where I'll pull their name out, uh, and then I'll say, and today we're talking to Matt Edmundson. And after I. Kind of built you up quite a bit. And I do like that, that kind of energy. Now, of course, people who see the podcast before they play it, know who it is.
And then I'll, you know, if I've got like, uh, you know, their website that I have to mention is like, you know, Google Ads by Jill, then it's going to be less of a surprise. But, at the same time, That's, that's it. I'll punch it up occasionally, but um, what's your assistant's name again?
Rich: Sadaf. She did a killer job on my bio.
I'm totally stealing her work and calling it my own.
Matt: Yeah. You totally should do that. She'll be very flattered that you did. There's no doubt. So that is amazing. Uh, but no, I always, I always enjoy, I never [00:08:00] read the bios before we get into the, so as soon as I hit the record button and we do the intro, that's the first time I read it, which is why I often find myself giggling or laughing or smiling because I just think this is so well written.
Uh, I'm, it's just as phenomenal. So New Flight Media, um, is your company. Just tell the good listeners what that does.
Rich: Yeah, so about 26 years ago, I started a company which, which became Flight after a while. Um, and we do digital marketing. And so we build websites and we do branding, we do SEO, paid search, paid social, some organic social as well, a lot of content creation for clients and just a lot around the strategy. So businesses come to us when they want to generate more leads online, as simple as that.
Matt: And how did you get into it? Did you, was this something you sort of stumbled into? Was this an evolution of a digital business over the years, or was this, uh, I don't know, something that fell out of the sky and sort of into your lap?
Rich: I've [00:09:00] always been interested in computers and technology. We had an Apple IIe growing up, and I learned how to do simple programming on it. And so I was always kind of connected to computers, uh, went off to college, come back, and all of a sudden there's all these articles in the, uh, Boston Globe at the time, uh, reporters talking about.
The Internet, and I'm like, it pissed me off that reporters knew more than I did about computers. So I went out and I bought a new, I think it was the Mac Performer at the time, which was probably not the best computer ever to get on the internet, but whatever. I did that, taught myself how to build web pages and do all that sort of stuff, brought it to my company I worked for at the time, it was a medical supply company.
I was doing a lot of sales on the road. And I. Build them a website while they weren't looking and they liked it so much They took me off the road and put me in the office Which meant there was only six months before I was gonna quit because I couldn't stand being in the office there But that was basically the beginning.
I I just figured I'll start making websites for people I [00:10:00] thought maybe I had two years in me before either Programmers learned how to design or designers learned how to program. I'd never taken a business course, so I didn't know you could hire people more talented than you to do the things that you don't do well or that you don't enjoy doing, which painfully I discovered over the next 26 years.
Um, but yeah, that, that's kind of how it was. It was a little bit of just like professional jealousy that I didn't know as much as I wanted to. And it was also something that I really enjoyed doing. And even though I never thought I was really all that interested in business, I find it really fascinating to sit down and talk to people about their business and figure out how they can get in front of the people they want to.
Like that's probably the one part of the job I can't give up is that piece of it because I love that strategy piece. So, but that's kind of what led me to the Path of Mod right now.
Matt: fantastic. You know what, we share very similar stories because, um, in the mid to late nineties, a friend of mine came and said, Oh, I need a website. Do you know anybody that does [00:11:00] them? These things call a website. And I said, I remember the conversation really clearly. I, there's some friends of mine in Liverpool who had a company that did, they just literally started a bit like yourself in the late nineties.
And, um, I said, well, there's these guys that were called the web shed back then. They're now called Mando and they're a massive agency. Um, And I said, there's these guys, but they charge a small fortune. Um, I said, but I know there's a bit of software out there and if you buy the software, I'll figure it out.
And, um, I was working installing saunas and steam rooms at the time. Uh, and so did the same thing. We just started building websites, having a little bit of fun with it and see, seeing where it went. And here we are all these years later, having conversations about how we run digital businesses. It's funny, isn't it?
How. These things sort of present themselves and you've no idea where it's going to lead to, um, but just that small opportunity at that time has resulted in something quite big for you, right?
Rich: And like you, you know, you and I both started just building websites. And, but early on, I [00:12:00] actually used to have a newsletter that would go out, not an email newsletter, a physical print newsletter before everybody had emails. And most of it was just to educate people about websites. But I remember like my second article was about search engine optimization and this predated Google.
Like I was writing about how to get high up in Alta Vista and Yahoo. Um, but so it was also interesting to me because. It wasn't just that I wanted to build websites, I wanted people to really get money out of them. Like I wanted it to make sense for them so I didn't feel like they were giving me charity.
And so that began way back then, like also understanding the marketing side of things and building things a certain way so that they get found and all the other things along the way that we started to use to basically create relationships with our customers.
Matt: Fantastic. So when did the podcast start? I mean, I've done a lot of podcasts, Rich, I'm not going to lie, but you have definitely done more than me, 500 episodes. Um, when, when did that start in the whole process?
Rich: Yeah, so I mean, 500, if I do them [00:13:00] weekly and maybe a couple times a year, I don't actually hit my due date. So that's close to 10 years of doing it. And I remember I was going to events like Blog World and New Media Expo and South By, and there was these podcasters there, and I tried podcasting once before, and I hated it.
Like, I absolutely hated it because it was not an interview show, first of all. So I loved blogging. I could knock out a blog in like 20 minutes. Kind of blogs that used to be very popular. Now eight hours, but whatever. Um, but back then I could knock out those blogs so quickly, but the podcast did not come easily to me because I'd write out the script and I'd.
Practice it multiple times and I'd read it and the recording and I was editing and all that. It was like six hours for these 10 minute bits and I just didn't enjoy it and I stopped. And then when I started going to these blogging events, but then podcasting was starting to catch on, that's when I said, well, maybe I'll give it another try.
And it was actually Michael Stelzner [00:14:00] who runs Social Media Examiner. He's got his own podcast. Who kind of like... It took me under his wing so to speak. And he was really, really bullish on podcasts back then, still is, and suggested that I would do well to have a podcast too. And so I was like, well, if I'm gonna do this, I'll turn it into an interview show, which I find is a lot easier than coming up with 500 unique topics and talking about them.
Rich: I found that there were so many things I enjoyed about the podcast and so many benefits to my company, but also to my professional growth that I probably wouldn't have found any other way. So that was kind of the beginning. And originally it was called the Marketing Agents. And the Agents of Change was a conference I had started.
And then after like, A hundred episodes. I'm like, this is killing me. I've got my company. I've got the marketing agents. I've got agents of change. Each one has all their social stuff. And agents of change and the marketing agents were basically the same content talking to the same people. So I just kind of folded the marketing agents into the agents of change.[00:15:00]
And um, And that was it. So I, I just continued on. Nothing much changed except the branding and the voiceover at the beginning and, uh, the music. It was a little more of an Indiana Jones feel versus kind of like the, the steampunk superheroes of the Agents of Change. But other than that, it was the same kind of content.
And so I just kept on rolling. How
Matt: Fantastic. Well, congratulations again. Let me, um, congratulations, uh, on, uh, the milestone of 500. Let's just
Rich: do you afford the studio audience? I mean, you've got to feed them.
Matt: And they just clap on demand as well. They're very obedient. Uh, but the, um, I mean, it is a big, a big milestone, isn't it? 500 episodes of a podcast. Do you have any ideas on how you're going to celebrate that? Or is it just going to roll into 501?
Rich: It probably will, on a certain level, roll into 501, because right now I'm so focused on, uh, Bringing Back the Agents of Change [00:16:00] Conference. I was kind of hoping that it was going to work out like the 500th episode would be like right around the time of the conference, but it's going to be a couple of months earlier.
Um, and I didn't feel like stalling or putting it on hiatus just to make that work. So, um, I'll probably do something looking back on 500 episodes, but I don't have like a team behind me where I can go like get the greatest clips from the last 500 episodes and we'll do a retrospective. So I think I'll talk a little bit about how the show's grown and what kind of things I like doing and why I pursue it.
But I have not figured that out and I've only got about a month so I've really got to get on that. Um, for 300, you know, you remember that movie 300?
Matt: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Rich: and it's, I forget the guy's name, begins with a G, but he's got his shirt
Rich: I made
Matt: Um, Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
I made a joke of I put myself on the movie poster, just my head
Rich: on his body, so it's quite a step up for me.
When I celebrated the 300th episode, um, and then somebody in my office, who no longer works here, but blew it up into a [00:17:00] poster size and wanted to hang it on the wall. I'm like, I, I love what you did. I'm not hanging that up. It's just so embarrassing. Um, I don't know if there's a movie, 500. I mean, there's the 500 Days of Summer, but I don't think it has the same resonance as
Rich: what I can do.
I'm, I'm sure there'll
Rich: thought of this before. Reach out to like everybody who's ever been on my show and be like, Hey, can you give me a little clip for my 500th episode?
Matt: Yeah. Yeah. 500 little
Rich: that down right
Matt: Yeah. Yeah. Do that. Get some clips from people. The other thing you could do, of course, is get Michael Steltzner and say, listen, come on the show and interview me about the journey of the show. Cause you started this thing. And so you could have, come on and show some with
Rich: I did on my 100th episode have a friend of mine interview me so we could talk about what it's like hitting 100, but, but bringing Mike back on, I mean, he's been on a few times. He's actually probably, I don't have a lot of people who come back multiple times because I'm always looking for new voices, but he's been on probably more than anybody else anyway, so might be worth reaching out to him.
Matt: Mate, I
Rich: idea. Great
Matt: a thought, um, so, [00:18:00] business then, um, you've been doing this business, uh, for a fair few years, it's fair to say, um, again we were laughing a little bit about this, uh, beforehand, where people just go, you're so old, we get this all the time, you're so old, um,
Rich: You don't say that, but you hear that for
Matt: ha, ha,
just in that intonation,
Rich: so long, and your hair is very grey.
Matt: Yes, were there, were there, were there inside toilets when you were a boy, Matthew?
Rich: Right, exactly. So are you using coconuts to originally record your podcast?
Matt: Get you? It's brilliant, isn't it? So, um, so it's, it's fair to say we, uh, both you and I, uh, Rich, have been around a little while. Now, business, has it always been straightforward or, um, what sort of, I guess where have you had to push through on a few things to sort of get to where you are now? Uh huh,
Rich: Uh, it's a constant battle. Some days it feels like I'm pushing that boulder up the hill the [00:19:00] entire time, right? Um, there have been times that things have gone more smoothly and there are times where it's, uh, a complete cluster. And it's just so frustrating and you can't seem to get out of your own way.
Um, sometimes you just have to understand that if you are in this for the long haul, there will be ups and downs. And sometimes no matter... How smart you are, how clever you are, how well positioned you are. Things just don't go your way. And there have been times where I'm like, wow, things are going really well.
And then I'll look at like the last three or four projects we brought in. And I'm like, it was so random how we got those jobs. Like, what would my life be like if we hadn't gotten those jobs, if they hadn't discovered me, all that sort of stuff, which can be a dangerous game to play.
Rich: But what I try and do is figure that over the long, it's kind of like investing in stocks.
In the long run, you'll always make money investing in stocks. But the day you invest, you may lose 20, 000 the next day, right? So it's like, you can't look at the short term like that. You've got to have that long term mentality. So, you know, there have [00:20:00] been times when I'm, I remember distinctly one time I'm like, okay, well, We know how to write HTML now.
We'll never need to really improve our skills. And then it was like HTML 4 came and CSS came and I wasn't really paying attention back then. And all of a sudden I found that our websites just didn't look as good or perform as well as others. And I, we had to go to the team and say, we need to figure all this stuff out.
And I try and remember that every time I think things are really moving smoothly, that this is a temporary situation and you will have to keep reinventing yourself. And you know, the ages have changed. That's kind of like a mantra. It's
Rich: I had an employee once who complained that things were always changing.
I'm like, change is our friend, because if things always stay the same, everybody could get to where we are. But if we can be more adaptable than any other business like ours out there or near the top of that that food chain. Then we'll always be successful, sometimes more than others. But the bottom line is we will be playing the odds and we will always be successful.
But, but that's [00:21:00] definitely a challenge and growth is a challenge. And these days finding the right employees are a challenge or sometimes even finding any employees are a challenge. I mean, we're, I don't know about the rest of the world, but in the U S we have a huge, uh, worker shortage. And so it's, it's very challenging, especially because we like to hire local.
And so we live in the top right corner of this, this, the country. It can be a challenge to bring in people who fit with what we want to do and have the skills that we're looking for.
Matt: Yeah, it's too true, I know, I mean, and you didn't, you guys didn't even have to go through Brexit, uh, which England went through Brexit, and of course, half the Labour forced up and left, um, and so, yeah, I was in the States a few weeks ago, and it really surprised me, um, like in the, in the town where I was staying for a few days, the, um, what's that donut franchise called, um,
Matt: Krispy Kreme, that's the one.
Rich: Krispy Kreme?
Matt: Yeah, yeah, Krispy Kreme, uh, their shop, or their store, you know, the, the, um, everything was shut [00:22:00] down, um, and they closed it down like a few months ago because they just literally couldn't get the staff to keep it open, um,
Rich: We've lost a lot of good restaurants in town for the same reason, like the people are like, I just can't find the staff to keep us open.
Matt: it's fascinating, um, why is there a sudden, has this all come out of COVID, is this also the back end of COVID, people not wanting to go back into work kind of a thing?
Rich: I've literally gone online and asked people smarter than me, explain it to me like I'm five years old. Where did everybody go? And this is not one of those rants about like, you can't find good help anymore because people have been saying that since the day they started employing people. I think it's a combination.
Because of COVID, you had a lot of people who were nearing retirement. You also had a lot of people who realized that their companies didn't give, I don't know what I can say on the show, but two craps about them. Like they just didn't care about them as human beings and they were like, we're fed up with this.
And, you know, it just became one of these things where a lot of people opted out of the system. COVID definitely kept [00:23:00] people at home. Um, and then when companies started saying, you have to come back to the office, a lot of people were like, I don't want to go back to the office. So some of it I think was kind of a writing of the ship because I think that even though I'm an employer, I'm a good one.
I think employers had a little bit too much power and we're, we're not respecting the fact that we rely on others to help us be successful. I think that was, you know, part of it, not here at Flight. I love my employees. Everything's wonderful.
Matt: and they're all
Rich: but I do think that's a challenge, and I think that there's a lot of, in the U.
S., I think there's a lot of mental health issues going on right now, in part because of COVID, in part because of the political situation, and it just makes it harder to find people who want to work either in your office or even remotely. It just becomes a challenge. So there's, I think there's a lot of factors going on.
Matt: it's a fair comment. I was just very grateful the Chick fil A was open because, you know, I can't go to the States and not grab myself a Chick fil A. The, the, the sort of [00:24:00] the, the journey through business, you've got New Flight Media now, you've got your stuff. How was COVID for you? Was it, was COVID, if I can put it this way, um, you'll know what I mean, but was COVID good for you guys or was it a bit of
Rich: Right. Isn't that an awful thing to say, but no, um, uh, COVID was good for flight. I don't like to say it quite like that, but what, and, and you probably, I'm wondering if you had the same experience. Um, what happened is after the first couple of months where everybody's just absolutely freaking out and we said as a company right off the bat, um, we did a couple of things.
At the time to mitigate the fallout because we didn't know how long it was going to go. We certainly didn't think it was going to go on as long as it did. But, you know, we reached out to our clients and we said, if you need to update anything like a COVID message or anything COVID related on your website, we're just going to do it for free.
Um, we also like clients who had contracts with us, but they were in things like, um, one was a, uh, A doggie daycare. Well, nobody's going anywhere and no one's going to work. [00:25:00] So the doggie daycare basically had to shut its doors. Um, and then we also did some travel business stuff and we were just like, don't even worry about it.
You don't have to pay us. You just, you're done. We don't, we're not going to worry about it. Like you're out of your contract if that's what you want. And they needed to, um, so that was part of it. And then I spent a lot of time. on video and in emails, basically trying to help other business owners navigate this.
And I offered a free hour to any of our clients. Like if you just want to get on the phone and kind of talk through what you're going through and if we can be of any service, but the call is free. It's just because we want you to succeed. We want you to survive. Um, which ended up of course, getting us more business even during those slow times.
But once that was over, the next thing that happened is all of a sudden everybody realized, Oh, we're in this for the long haul. And we're going to have to deal with this and people are not coming to our stores anymore and they're becoming much more comfortable being online and all this stuff. So all of a sudden all these businesses realize they really need to up their digital marketing and their websites.
So we [00:26:00] saw 2021 was the best year in company history. Like we could barely keep up and it was, you know, fantastic on one level and people would say, how are you doing? I'm like, I don't want to say this out loud, but I'm doing great. I know the world is falling apart, but honestly, like, I'm basically quarantined with my girlfriend.
My family is in their own little pods, but they're all healthy and safe, and my company is busier than we've ever been. So from that standpoint, it was good. And then coming out of COVID, still stronger than it was before, not as good as that one year. Um, but I've also found that I'm talking to a lot of industries right now that went through something similar.
Like... Hardcap, uh, Hardscapers and Landscapers. And then just the other week, um, uh, people who, who were in the stove business, like, uh, wood stoves and stuff like that, everybody was turning their homes into castles during COVID. And so they were all super busy because we had no money to spend to go anywhere.
Um, and now of course, all the people who would. Be buying things now while they've already gotten taken care of it the year
Rich: how do you market [00:27:00] yourself when all of a sudden there's a lot less interest in your industry?
Matt: yeah, it's a big, it's an interesting one. And we were the same in a lot of ways, um, our business, I mean, I sold one of our e commerce businesses during COVID because everybody wanted to be in e commerce at that point in time. Um, and so we sold that business. Um, yeah, I mean, it was, it was fascinating and sort of coming through it.
What's, um, what's the journey then been like the last two years for you sort of coming out of COVID, uh, sort of adjusting to the new normal. Um, I'm curious to know what it's been like for you Rich at new flight, but also what you found with your clients, you know, what you talked about, you know, Um, the fire guys and the, and how they, they do life now where the demand is maybe not as great as it was, but what else have you sort of discovered?
Rich: Well, a big change was just the office politic, not [00:28:00] politics, but the way everybody at Flight New Media works together because we hired like three or four people during COVID. I had never met them in person. Um, it was interesting. The first time we all went together, we, we put together a schooner trip out of Portland and, uh, I was like joking online.
I'm like, I'm meeting some of my employees for the first time ever, like, I have no idea how tall they are. I don't know what the back of their head looks like. I assume they're three dimensional, but I really can't be sure. Um, but then trying to get people to come back into the office, which I was always like, let's use the carrot and not the stick.
And to be honest, one of the things I think a lot of us learned during COVID is we can actually be more productive at home. For certain types of work than we can in the office. Um, and there were a lot of big companies in America, really pushing people, demanding people come back in. I didn't want to be like that.
I actually did have a couple of people. Who are kind of like part of my leadership team, they wanted to bring people back into the [00:29:00] office and we agreed that we would require two days in the office. I was waiting for some pushback from people, but people didn't really give us any pushback. They just said, OK.
And, uh, it's been a You know, it's been primarily good, but trying to find that balance and develop a company culture when not everybody's in the office on the same days, uh, has been a challenge because there's some work we do. And I'm sure it's similar to your business, some work we do that is very, uh, head down, you know, you're just doing research or you're doing writing or you're doing recording and then other stuff that's very collaborative where you want to bounce ideas off each other and the clients as well.
So I think it's about what do you take? What were the good things, and I put that in air quotes, but what are the good things that came out of COVID? And I think there were a lot of good
Matt: Yeah, yeah.
Rich: we learned to use technology in new ways. We learned to work remotely. We made a lot of more face to face connections with our clients than we ever did when it was just phone calls.
But just recently, [00:30:00] I've been pushing the team to go out and meet with our clients at their place of business. We just came back from a trip the other day where we went up and met a couple of our Uh, clients who have manufacturing concerns and got tours of the place. So that was great. And we have a couple more coming up, another manufacturer, another person who does like a, kind of a food hall area.
And I want my team to be there, A, to just kind of make those connections with people, because it is different when you meet people in person. Um, and also because I think it's really important if you're a strategic company like ours to really get into the physical space of your clients to really understand what they're going through, how they deal with their customers and everything else as well.
Matt: No, fantastic, fantastic. So, um, what does, what does the future look like for you? What does growth look like for, for the company? Yeah,
Rich: For me and the company, um, I'm not looking for huge growth. Like that's not my number one thing. I do feel that we're a little bit understaffed right now where everybody's [00:31:00] just completely, you know, to the wall with work right now. And so it's tough if somebody's going on vacation, maternity leave, whatever it is.
So we should be at 10 people at least right now, and we're at eight. So I got to fill those two roles. I think that a perfect size for a company like ours would be 15 to 18 people. So that's probably what I'd like to get to. That just means I can be too deep in all the most important positions in the company where right now it's like we've, we don't have anybody on the bench.
Um, and the other thing is I'm outside of like that number. I'm not looking to grow exponentially. For me, I'd rather be. profitable and focus on the profitability and doing quality work. And I know anybody who would come on the show would be like, and we care about quality, but it's true. Also, it's like if we're doing quality work and getting quality results, it makes.
The sales part of my job's so much easier 'cause I can just show the results. So, you know, we've talked about should we be taking on fewer clients and just really putting more emphasis on those [00:32:00] clients Or how can we scale up? How can we use AI? Because what I want is I wanna, after 25 years in business, now over 26 years, Things change for you.
this is the old man coming out at me right now, but
Matt: on old man, let's
Rich: I believe that, like, there's a lot of anti capitalist sentiment in the world right now, and I totally get it. But I don't think capitalism is the problem. I think extreme capitalism is the problem. And it's when you look back on some of the tax rates in the U.
S. when... Everybody had an opportunity, and there were jobs for everybody, and the roads were good, and there was, all those things happened, the rich were being taxed at like 90%. Now they're taxed at like, you know, Jeff Bezos pays less in taxes than I do. That's wrong. And I think that America has this idea like, Capitalism is good and there's no limit to it.
And the truth of the matter [00:33:00] is that anything in the extreme becomes bad. Religion in the extreme, politics in the extreme, love in the extreme. When you get to the extreme, you've gone too far. And I think we're in a state where it's gone too far. And I believe that we can put When we have somebody who is ethically and morally in, in alignment with the way things should be, that we should support, support those businesses.
And I want to see more people who have, uh, you know, and obviously different people have different ethics and different moralities, but I want to see more people who want to do good in the world get into business and get into entrepreneurship. Because I really think that business can move the world forward in a positive way faster than almost anything.
Anything can, faster than governments, faster than non profits, but if you let extreme capitalism win, then basically it pushes out all the people who could have done good by creating businesses of value. So I just want flight to be a business of value. [00:34:00] I want us to be profitable, but I want everybody from employees to clients to vendors who interact with flight to come out better than they went in.
And that for me would be a very successful legacy. Whenever I decide that I'm no longer interested in doing this, which will probably be when I'm dead. But the bottom line is like, that's where I am right now in terms of my entrepreneurial journey. It's like, What do I want Flite to be capable of? Yes, quality work, but more than that now.
Matt: yeah. It's interesting listening to you talk, um, Rich, because, again,
Rich: interesting because my girlfriend never says that. Maybe that'll, yeah,
Matt: There's a really interesting book that was given to me by a friend of mine from Dallas, Texas a guy called Rich Rising and in that they track the different decades and how people respond in the different decades of [00:35:00] life. Um, and how the sixties are your most, uh, most productive decade, which, uh, thrills me with joy. So, you know, I'm, I'm, I'll be there at
some point. Yeah. Yeah. But what's interesting is when you're in your.
30s, 40s, you know, they sort of, you're going through this sort of, there's this change in your brain where you, you move from what they call success to significance. Um, and so life stops being necessarily about success. Success is not a bad thing. But the focus becomes much more about significance and given that most businesses started or started by people in their 40s who are in the significance sector, um, I totally agree with you that business
actually is a force for good, and I think a lot of people now are focused on, or wanting businesses to step up and do more because I, they realize that actually it's probably better to buy from a better company than, um, get involved in, [00:36:00] in very polarizing politics. And so I find, I find that fascinating listening to you talk cause I've, I've seen the same thing here.
So what does a business of value look like for you? What does that, what does that phrase mean? How do you, how do you. What is the value you're trying to create, if that makes sense?
Rich: Right, yeah. And so I, obviously this is gonna vary person to person and what I may think is valuable is not valuable to somebody else. But for me, I want to see professional growth in all my employees. Like I don't want them to feel stuck or static. I want them to be continually challenged and learning new things.
Um, for me personally, I want to be learning new things. I want to keep on being interested in, in things like AI that come up and change our businesses. Um, I want to be doing good work, work that I'm proud of, work that does, that offers value to the client. I mean, when people invest in a marketing firm or a branding firm like mine, they're expecting to get more money out than they put in.
And we really have to, uh, [00:37:00] make sure that we're taking care of them that way. Um, and that doesn't mean we're always going to do it. I mean, like every business, we have some. misses along with our hit. So it's not about having a perfect record, but it's about striving to get better all the time. I think it's important for me to be taking the excess out of the company and putting it towards something good and creating value.
So We were talking earlier about COVID and in COVID, I stepped up, I say, you know, I, I started talking about how companies should, should treat their employees during this period of time, how to stay sane when you're locked down all day. Like I spent a lot of time kind of getting on my soapbox and talking about how businesses should be run and how employers should be treating their employees.
And then in the U. S. George Floyd gets married, uh, murdered. Sorry, that was a terrible, weird, tight, uh, slip up, but he gets murdered by the police and you know, the, the Black [00:38:00] Lives Matters movement took off
Matt: hmm, mm hmm,
Rich: I didn't know what to say because as a white male. who lives in the first or second whitest state in the nation and currently has no non white employees, I didn't really feel like I could say anything.
And yet I also saw some people saying, I can't believe these companies aren't saying anything. So I felt kind of like stuck. And I felt that like anything we do might just be looked like as, you know, whitewashing or posturing. I ultimately settled based on a story I'd heard on creating a scholarship at our local high school for students of color.
And for me, that was, it was like, we're a business and we care about business and we care about entrepreneurship. And when I say we, it's me pushing it forward, but I have a team of people who more or less agree with me. The ones who don't just don't seem to care one way or the other. And so I started a scholarship, which I call Black Minds Matter, which I was that might be kind of.
A little bit, um, [00:39:00] some people may not like it, whatever side you're on, but it just felt like the right thing to say at the time. And we've been running that for three years and we give a thousand dollar scholarship, uh, every year to a student, uh, of, of color who's looking to get into business. Because I really do believe that if we can put some of these students in a position where they can create their own positive impact on the world, then we've done something of value.
So for me, that's one of the things that, you know, I. I'm happy that we did, and I'm really proud of continuing on that tradition, and I want to see it grow.
Matt: Fantastic. That's really cool, man. I like that because like you, I was... You, you, uh, you do get trapped between this, I need to say something, I need to do something, I, is this going to be tokenism, is this going to be white splaining, is this man splaining, is this, you know, with, with everything that's going on and you, sometimes you just don't know what to say and when to say it.
And I, I remember reading, um, the book and listening to a lady called Chinny [00:40:00] MacDonald, um, and she wrote a book called God is not a White Man, um, and it's one of the most extraordinary books I've ever read. And I thought, actually. Um, we do need to somehow engage in this and the fact that you did the scholarship fund, I think is a, is a great idea actually, and, uh, and super genius, um, which fascinates me, uh, you know, that this whole topic came up, um, out of that, because I, I remember when I, I used to live in North Carolina, um, back in the early nineties.
So, uh, I, I spent a year or two living in North Carolina and the racism was. Just extraordinary, um, at the time, well meaning, God fearing, loving people, but were extremely racist and, and didn't see it, didn't understand it. And it's, it's one of these things that's become sort of something that we talk about more and more and challenge more and more, which is a good thing.
Uh, and I'm pleased to see a lot of [00:41:00] changes has, has been made. Um, that's really cool. That's really cool. So you're running the business, you're trying to build and grow into being a company of, of value, of, of more value. Cause obviously you're doing some great stuff now and there's some going to be some great opportunities for you in the, in the future.
How do you keep yourself charged? How do you keep yourself sort of on your game, if you like? Um, how do you recharge your batteries?
Rich: So yeah, that feels like two different things. So I would say... I'm still endlessly fascinated with the kind of stuff that's going on right now in the world of technology. And that's what keeps me sharp and engaged. Things like, you know, AI right now is just, for me, absolutely fascinating because I've always been fascinated by technology and how it impacts people and then how people create new technology.
So this, to me, is like such an interesting time to be alive. And I, I, I'm just amazed by it. I'm fascinated by it. You know, I want to see how it all turns out. To me, AI [00:42:00] feels as big as the internet. Like, when the
Matt: it does. It really
Rich: that seismic.
Rich: So, just that kind of stuff. And also, what also keeps me engaged is as I've shifted my role in the company, trying to train people up and really, like, trying to make them the best they can be, that also kind of keeps me engaged and sharp and excited about what we're doing.
The other part of the question is how do I recharge my batteries, because even though I can have a great energetic day at work, it can be depleting, and I often will talk about the fact that like when I get on stage, which is my favorite place to be, like I just love being on stage, doing live, not performances, but live presentations, and I get so excited it's like a drug.
But like any drug, then there's the crash afterwards. So usually you'll find me at the end of the night curled up in a ball somewhere. Um, because I've spent all my extrovert credits for
Rich: Um, so for me lately, and this came out of COVID too, is I [00:43:00] discovered a lot of hobbies that didn't require screen, or didn't require much screen.
So, um, I got a, I got the master class, the thing where celebrities teach you how to do
Matt: yeah, yeah,
Rich: and the best one I found, there were two that really hit me during COVID. One was, um, I'm gonna forget the guy's name, but he was the OG, the original gardener, and he literally started gardening in South Central LA.
It's an amazing, Robert Finley, Robert or Roger Finley, Great story, and his was one of my favorite of the masterclasses that I've watched, but he talks about gardening, and I learned a whole bunch about soil, which then got me into making compost, which then forced me to make a compost bin, and that actually got me slightly into carpentry, and then all of a sudden I inherited some tools, and I started getting into woodworking, and I suck, right?
I suck, but I love it. I love going into the garage, And I love using the power tools and sometimes the non power tools and making things that like probably don't deserve [00:44:00] to be in the house, but I'm just so damn proud of having finished something. I actually used to say, I don't make anything that doesn't go in the garage or out back, but I did make some cutting boards that there's a maker studio near here.
I took a course, we made some really nice cutting boards. And then I actually made a record player stand because we got a record player for Chrismukkah, as we call it in our house. Um, and yeah, since I'm Jewish and she's not. Um, it was. Anyway, that's a whole nother podcast. But yeah, so I mean, I'm just I enjoy making it and I enjoy like learning about the craft of that.
So for me, that's recharging just and also guarding to a lesser degree, just like getting out there and doing something where I'm not in front of a screen the whole day. Because me, I will get up in the morning, I will rush to work, I'll spend 10 hours in front of the computer, I'll go home, eat dinner, and I can play Diablo for the rest of the night.
And then I'll go into bed and I'll play another game on my iPad until like So tired, I can't hold it. Then I'll switch to my iPhone and then I pass out. So that's not healthy, right? And I recognize that even though I have trouble [00:45:00] stopping it. But that's what I would do if I was single and by myself. So, um, yeah, finding those hobbies for me that don't require a screen, um, that's been really, that's how I recharge my batteries these days.
And of course, My girlfriend, and my daughters, and my friends, that all makes a big difference, too. Um, but yeah, and exercise. Actually, it's, I forgot that one, too. I, I like going to the gym. I'm not huge or, or, or, or swole or anything, but I like staying in shape, and I like feeling good about it, so I hit the gym about three times a week.
Um, and, uh,
Matt: fantastic. The more you talk, Rich, the more I think we're like brothers, um,
Rich: I'm like, why are we living so far away? Like, why, like, we should be going out and, and grabbing beers and going for bike
Matt: We should totally be doing that. I, when I sold my, um, beauty company during COVID, we moved warehouse. Uh, so we moved to a bigger warehouse, despite me selling a big chunk of our fulfillment. We moved to a [00:46:00] bigger warehouse, and in the back of the warehouse, there's like this section which we didn't really need, and it wasn't massive, it's maybe, what, 400 square foot, something like that.
It's a, it's a nice little area in the back of this, uh, warehouse. So I, I built a wall, I fenced it off, and I just told to the team, that's my space. And um, as a little treat to myself, I filled it with some new woodworking tools. And so, so yeah, so I, I put in a table saw, I put in a bandsaw, and a planer joiner, and or thickness planer, so depending on which side of the Atlantic you are.
And we added a few things in there, because I'd always had like a little workshop in the bottom of my basement, but now I have a slightly bigger workshop at the office, and I'll be heading there tomorrow to carry on making my daughter's bed, so I love the fact you're into
Rich: Yeah, you're ahead of me on that, but I definitely, yeah, I've got the table saw. I don't have a bandsaw. That would be nice. I think my next thing is I'd like to get a jointer. We, I have a planer, thickness planer, um, which is really good [00:47:00] for, Here's how I am. Like, I'm at this point in my life, I'm like, I'd like to make this project because it's going to require me to spend 500 to 1000 on a new tool that I'll use once. So for me, woodworking is as much about spending money I shouldn't be as it is about actually
Matt: yeah, it's so true isn't it, because you're just like, um, oh I can, I made some plantation shutters for that, for mine and Sharon, my wife's bedroom. So I made these plantation shutters out of beech, and I really enjoyed making them, and the materials, uh, were way cheaper if I made them, and I made them out of solid beech, and they were way cheaper, better quality, etc, etc.
Of course, the tools I needed to make said shutters, I just put the cost of them in a different ballpark, uh, and, you know, I have used some of those tools again, but it, there's just something quite giddy and joyful about getting a new power tool. I don't know what it is, but I just love it. I love the shopping for it.
Um, so yeah,[00:48:00]
Rich: I love everything about it, even when it is on the screen, like my favorite woodworking channels and seeing how these guys who are years ahead of me are doing it, I just find the whole thing fascinating.
Matt: Well, keep your eyes peeled because at some point soon I'll be launching my woodworking YouTube channel. Uh,
Rich: will be your first subscriber.
Matt: Fantastic, I'll let you know when it's done. We've done four projects already and I just need to get one of the guys in the team to edit them. With my, my idea being that probably I, you know, I've turned 50, I'm, I'm now approaching 60.
At 60, I might have a following that I could maybe do something with and just do woodworking. I don't know, but we're going to give it a go and see, see how it gets on. But, um, but why not? One of the things that, um, is a little known fact, Rich, about me. Is that I cut three of my fingers off with a table saw once being very stupid with a table saw making a kitchen.
I was making a kitchen as a favor to a friend of mine who worked for the health and safety, [00:49:00] uh, which is an office in the government, which is just mad keen about making sure you, you, you are connected to safety standards when you're working. And he was the health and safety inspector for woodworking machinery and at his house.
I managed to cut three of my fingers. Now, fortunately, the, you know, the doctors, uh, managed to sew my fingers back on. They all work, although the tip of my right finger has, has, uh, is no longer there, as you can see if you're seeing on
camera. And, um, one of the things that I did, because I did this 19 years ago, one of the things that, um, I did, uh, was, as my kids were growing up, I've got three kids, they're all, um, you know, uh, all, all, uh, all in their twenties, all eighteens, and, um, as they were growing up, the kids would just look at your finger and just look at you like something's not quite right.
Uh, or their friends would just come round and you'd be like, something's not quite right about him. And so, uh, they would look at my finger and they'd go, why [00:50:00] is your finger funny? And so I'd say to them, well, and I make up different stories, my favourite story was, I was massaging Sharon's foot and it just melted off.
And so these,
Rich: if they would know what to do with that. Yeah.
Matt: well no, these young kids just wouldn't go anywhere near Sharon for a little while, they just stood further and further away from her. Oh, I got into trouble for that, Rich, not gonna lie. But you know what, it was worth it.
Rich: I was curious to know if you got a skill saw, is that what it's called, uh, for your table saw? The table saw is a little bit scary to me and I have, I had an older one that literally I got the kickback like they show in the
Rich: it hit me in the stomach so hard that I had to take a knee for like five minutes.
And I had like. Aurora Borealis, like bruising across my stomach and chest, um, so, but the skill saw, I guess, you cannot cut off a finger because the second it feels flesh, it
Matt: Oh, you're talking about [00:51:00] Sawstop. Uh,
Rich: stop, that's what it is, right? Yeah,
Matt: Well, again, uh, I'm sorry, dear listeners, if you're getting bored of woodwork, we'll stop talking about this soon. Um, my dad was in the States and I, this was, I saw the Saw Stop Saws and because obviously I cut my finger off, um, I, I, my dad, I said to them, I said, go and see them because he was near where their head office was.
I want to understand what's going on here because I want the import license into the UK. This was maybe 10. 15 years ago, um, and we just couldn't get it to work because I thought actually, I mean, we're a safety conscious sort of place, uh, probably over, overly so here in the UK, and, um, I thought actually we could do really well with those, um, but we, we never could get them here until recently, Festool have taken that technology and put it on one of their sites also, But yeah, I wish we had them because I would have bought one.
I bought a Laguna table saw with a cast iron bed and it is as smooth as butter, man, let me tell you, it is
Rich: yeah. Yeah, I went cheap [00:52:00] and I got one with more of a plastic one and I started hating it the minute I bought it, so that may be something I replace, but we'll see.
Matt: Well, the more you stick with it, the more you'll invest in better and better tools. This is the way it is. Listen, Rich, we could talk about woodwork all night, but I dare say we should probably move on. Um, if people want to reach out to you, if they want to connect, find out more about Flyte Media, maybe work with you, what's the best way to do that?
Rich: Uh, they can visit our website at take flyte, f l y t e.com. Uh, if you wanna learn more about my podcast or the conference, you can go to the agents of change.com and if they want to just connect with me. I am the Rich Brooks on just about every platform out there, and LinkedIn is probably where you'll get the fastest response.
Matt: Fantastic, fantastic. We will of course link to Richard's info in the show notes which you can get along for free along with the transcript at push2bemore. com or they will be coming direct to your inbox if you sign up to the newsletter. Uh, Rich, listen, I, I don't, I've lost count [00:53:00] of how many podcasts we've done together now, but thoroughly enjoy every single one of them.
And it's just a joy and a privilege man to talk to you. Thanks for coming on the show. You are an absolute legend.
Rich: I appreciate it, Matt, and you asked some of the best questions out there, so thank you for inviting me back.
Matt: Oh, you sweet talker, you. Well, that's a wrap on another fantastic conversation. A massive round of applause for Rich, oh yes, for joining us today and shedding light on his journey. A huge thanks again to aurion Media for all you change makers out there contemplating podcasting as your new vehicle of expression and connection.
Definitely connect with them at aurionmedia. com. Now remember to keep pushing to be more. Oh yes, don't forget to follow the show wherever you get your podcasts from because we've got some more seriously compelling conversations coming up and we don't want you to miss any of them. And in [00:54:00] case no one has told you yet today, you are awesome.
Yes you are, created awesome. It's just a burden you have to bear. Rich has to bear it, I've got to bear it, you've got to bear it as well. Push To Be More is produced by aurion Media. Oh yes, it is. For transcripts or show notes, swing over to the website, pushtobemore. com And a big kudos and shout out to the team that makes this show possible, the wonderful Sadaf Beynon and Tanya Hutsuliak.
And a big shout out to Josh Edmundson for the incredible theme music. So, from Rich and from me, thank you so much for joining us. Have an awesome week, wherever you are in the world. I'll catch you on the flip side. Until then... Keep pushing. Bye for now.