David Elikwu speaks with Blake Burge, a content creator and Director of manufacturing at Neoinsulation.
We talked all about the overlaps between creativity and entrepreneurship and the secrets behind his overnight success as a content creator on Twitter.
And finally, we discussed a ton of great frameworks for being able to consistently produce great content.
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📹 Watch on Youtube
👤 Connect with Blake Burge:
Excel Course: https://excelfoundations1.carrd.co/
📄 Show notes:
How Blake got started on Twitter [2:03]
The key skill in business and in life [6:53]
I would totally describe myself as an introvert [8:05]
The coolest things about Twitter [8:46]
How one memory helped define my path in life [20:12]
The lessons Blake learned from his dad [24:46]
Blake's Dad had some entrepreneurial ventures [25:56]
The half-fat vs full-fat Entrepreneur myth [29:12]
The truth about building an audience [33:13]
Making $50k selling meat thermometers [35:25]
Blake's first blog [38:14]
Give things a chance to work [40:05]
When Blake took off on Twitter [44:32]
Where overnight success comes from [48:30]
The Climbing a mountain Analogy [49:29]
The first kilometer is always the longest one [52:08]
Figure out what works for you [53:27]
Curating what you consume [57:16]
🗣 Mentioned in the show:
Sam Parr: http://samparr.com/
David Morris: https://twitter.com/wdmorrisjr
Vincent van Gogh: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vincent_van_Gogh
Warren Buffett: https://twitter.com/WarrenBuffett
David Goggins: https://davidgoggins.com/
Sahil Bloom: https://www.sahilbloom.com/#Hero
👨🏾💻 About David Elikwu:
David Elikwu FRSA is a serial entrepreneur, strategist and writer. David is the founder of The Knowledge, a platform helping people think deeper and work smarter.
- Twitter: @Delikwu / @itstheknowledge
- Newsletter: https://theknowledge.io
- Website: https://www.davidelikwu.com,
- Podcast: http://plnk.to/theknowledge
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The Knowledge is a weekly newsletter for people who want to get more out of life. It's full of insights from psychology, philosophy, productivity and business, all designed to help you think deeper and work smarter.
Blake Burge: It just comes down to consistency and being a good human. Man, if you network with people and you're a good human, people like being around you, they liked talking to you, you're going to win. It'll happen. You know, people will share your stuff, they'll engage with your stuff, they'll reach out to you to do podcasts. You know, if that's just the way I'm just a big believer in you put out some good vibes into the world. It'll come back to you .
David Elikwu: Hey, I'm David Elikwu. And this is The Knowledge. A podcast for anyone looking to think deeper and work smarter. In every episode I speak with makers, thinkers, and innovators to help you get more out of life.
This week, I'm speaking with Blake Burge, a content creator and director of manufacturing at Neoinsulation.
We talked all about the overlaps between creativity and entrepreneurship and the secrets [00:01:00] behind his overnight success as a content creator on Twitter. And finally, we discussed a ton of great frameworks for being able to consistently produce great content.
You can get the full show notes and transcript at theknowledge.io. And while you're there, you should subscribe to my newsletter.
Every week, I share some of the best tools, ideas, and frameworks that I come across from business psychology, philosophy and productivity. So if you want the best that I have to share, you can get that in the newsletter at theknowledge.io.
If you love this episode, please do share it with a friend. And don't forget to leave a review because every single one helps us tremendously to reach other people. Just like you.
I mean, you just put your finger on one of the first questions I actually wanted to ask you, which is the fact that you work with David Morris who I just had on the podcast as well. And I really want to understand two people that are both you know, pretty much executive positions at the same company, but also beasting it on Twitter and growing these [00:02:00] huge followings.
What's going on in the Oklahoma waters.
Blake Burge: Oh man. I think, I had to drag David along a little bit. I think. I always describe myself when people asked me, like, how did I start on Twitter? How did I go down this road? I was describe myself as just a trier of things. Like I've tried a whole bunch of stuff I've had a blog, a website I've done dropshipping stuff, I've sold on Amazon. I've sold stuff on eBay. I've tried a bunch of different things.
Twitter for me was just the next iteration, the next thing I was going to try. Went to a breakfast with Sam Parr, just on a whim saw he was driving through Oklahoma city and he put a tweet out saying, Hey anybody wants to meet up, you know, come to this, come to this breakfast.
So I signed up and just me and David are buddies and we're in the same office. So I just said, Hey man, you want to go to this? And he said, sure, might as well. So we went listen to Sam talk. It was super [00:03:00] informal. Just a bunch of dudes sitting around talking really. And towards the end, someone in the audience towards the end just to ask, Hey, you know, if you've always wanted to be an entrepreneur, if you've always wanted to build your own thing you know, where would you start?
How would you start that networking? How would you start connecting with people? You know, where would you go first? And Sam said, man, Twitter's where it's at, twitter's where all the people are. This is where you know, the access you have to people you would never typically run across, you know, in your normal walk of life. It's just insane.
People you can connect with and meet and grow friendships with, build things with, network with in general. So, for whatever reason that comment stuck in my head. I'd always just been kind of a lurker on Twitter. I never posted anything. Use it kind of as a newsfeed and would read it on a regular basis, but never contributed anything.
And after that breakfast two days later I wrote the [00:04:00] first thread and I'm not, you know, like I said earlier the last 20 years, I've worked for two companies in various levels of, management. And, you know, so I'm not a founder, I haven't sold any businesses. I haven't had these huge financial wins, you know, all of the things that are super popular on Twitter, right. Well, I'm not any of those things, so I was like, I don't know what I'm going to write about. So I thought, man, I find business interesting. I find, money interesting. Most people do. So first thing I did was I just started trying to like look up obscure, interesting business stories and kind of write about them, put my own twist on it and was pretty, was pretty surprised at how quickly I got some traction, and people seem to resonate with stories I was putting out there. And I did that. I don't know for, you know, three or four months. And [00:05:00] along the way to, this is a very, long-winded answer to your original question. But along the way, this whole time, I have a ton of respect for David and I've known him, we've worked together for several years now and I knew like he had written just for himself, you know, like a journal or, you know, just daily writing things down from a productivity standpoint, from a just, know, getting things out of your head standpoint. I just knew he wrote for himself on a regular basis and, he runs our business. So I knew his leadership qualities. I knew his talent with other people and, knew he was very well-spoken.
So this whole time I was just, harassing him basically saying. Man if I'm writing stuff and putting it out there and it's working you could do the same thing and eventually after enough badgering he started to put some, put some stuff out as well, but that's, I think [00:06:00] once he started to see that it wasn't just a flash in the pan that I was getting some traction and once he started to see, I think more I think what attracted him was some of the people I was getting to meet and some of the interactions I was getting to have. So I think that was fascinating to him was just the ability to meet interesting people and talk to him, you know, with, with no motive, with no agenda, just it's fun to meet interesting people and hear about their walk of life and their journey and how they got to where they are and what they're building.
And, all of that kind of stuff is just, we're just, you know, we're both curious interested people. So I find it interesting to hear what people are doing, what they used to do, where they're going now, how they're doing it. I just find all of that interesting and, and I think David was the same.
David Elikwu: That makes a lot of sense. I think that's probably a key skill in business and in life in [00:07:00] general anyway, is just being able to be innately curious about other people and actually being able to follow that curiosity. And like you guys going to the talk with Sam Parr, I think these are the things that opened you up to optionality.
And it's so interesting how I can't remember where I was listening to something not not too long ago. Someone was talking about this idea that essentially you can't drive a parked car, right? And when people think about the things that they want to happen in their life and they want to be able to meet people and talk to people and have great things happen, but then they stay inside and they don't talk to people and they, you know, and they're still very insular and it's not, obviously some people are definitely introverted and all of these things, but it's just that by pushing your boat out slightly, and by just doing some of these very small actions, like going to attend something or going to a bar or going to network, or just being on Twitter, as an example, just puts you automatically in a space where suddenly the opportunities open up a bit [00:08:00] like a flower in a way. And suddenly you can start to connect dots and do a lot more things.
Blake Burge: Yeah. I was, I would totally describe myself as an introvert. When I replied back to the post that Sam Parr put out totally outside of the norm for me you know, I don't know, divine intervention or what, I have no idea what the, why that day I decided to reply back, but I did.
But normally, man, I was the guy that would have seen that and thought that'll be cool for somebody else to do, right. and then I would have read about it and thought, man, I should have gone, after the fact. And I just said, I'll do the next one. And then the next one comes around and you don't do it either.
so I definitely think there's some validity to people. I just taught a course here recently on audience building with Sahil and one of the questions people always ask is they're like, they're super worried about putting content out there and how it will be received, are people gonna think they're [00:09:00] dumb?
Are they gonna piss people off or are they gonna get some facts wrong? And they're going to get, crucified by people for not knowing what they're talking, all of these things. One of the things we tell people is what's cool about Twitter is if it doesn't work, it really doesn't work. No one sees it. So who cares? So, and if it works then it typically works in a fairly big way. So it's a rare medium where there's a pretty, small downside with a pretty large potential upside. And that was something that just stuck in my head early on was that, Hey, if I put some stuff out there and it doesn't resonate with anybody or they don't think it's any good. No one's going to see it. They're not going to retweet it. They're not going to share. They're not going to comment on it. Like it's just not going to go anywhere. And the way that the Twitter algorithm works is it's going to push stuff that people are engaging [00:10:00] with and finding value in and on the other side of the coin, it's going to suppress things that people aren't interested in.
So if it doesn't go anywhere relatively quickly after you post, it's not going to go anywhere. So once I got over that mental hurdle, it was more of like how many shots on goal can I get, right. And just how many times can I put something out there? And, contrary to what I, hear advised a lot of times I'm more of a fan at the beginning of focusing on quantity a little bit over quality is you're going to figure it.
You're still figuring it out. Right? So, everything you put out at the beginning let's just face facts isn't going to be great. I don't know any other way to get better other than to keep publishing stuff. And when something hits, then you learn, oh, okay. That one worked and then you can dive in dissect it. Okay. Why did this one [00:11:00] work? What was different about my hook? What was different about the body content of this piece that I wrote, you know, and you start to build kind of a library of, okay, this is what works, this is what doesn't.
And then, the other thing people seem to get caught up a lot in like what are they going to write about? What is my audience? What kind of content are you going to put out there? And what I tell people is, you know, humans in general are interested in multiple things. So, I'm sure you're interested in lots of different things, I'm interested in lots of different things. So what I tried to do at the beginning was I wrote about two or three different things that I was interested in now the counterpoint here is if you want to grow any kind of audience and build a following you can't write about completely random 50 different things a week.
Cause no one will know what to expect from you or why to follow you or anything like that. But I think it's fairly safe at the beginning. You can write about two or three different [00:12:00] things and your audience will tell you what they want to hear from you. You'll figure out like which topics get traction for you and then which ones don't. And then just double down on pretty simple, double down on what works.
David Elikwu: Yeah, there's so much from what you just said that I want to, like, I want to go down all of those holes. I think there's probably,
I've been mentally trying to keep track of them probably
Blake Burge: Feel free to jump in and cut me off too. I have a tendency to run on.
David Elikwu: Sure. No worries. Okay. So one thing I wanted to double tap on quickly was this idea of quantity. And then after that, we can go back into some of the other things, but I loved everything that you were saying about this idea of quantity and about, not necessarily quantity over quality. Ideally you want quantity that leads to quality. And I think that's the part that people miss. And so in one of my recent newsletters, there was two things I was writing about. One was two examples I gave one was from art and one was for music. So with art, I was talking about Vincent van Gogh.
And the fact [00:13:00] that, you know, if I ask anyone on the street, oh, what do you know about Vincent Van Gogh? They say, oh, he was this great painter, all of these things. But actually when he first started, first of all, he had no intentions of becoming a painter. He'd actually tried to become, I think he first tried to become a preacher.
He got fired from that job. Then he was like, okay, I'm going to become a teacher. He was bad at that. I got fired from that job. And then he decided to pick up art and no one can fire you from playing with pencils. So he just kept doing it. And he just kept creating stuff in his very early stuff was not that great.
So he was copying a bunch of different people and picking up loads of different techniques. And so by the time that he died, he had, he had completed over 900 paintings. And on top of that, you have countless sketches and drawings as well. And that's just within 10 years. So I think on average, he was doing a new piece almost every 36 to 38 hours.
And, it's not just about that. First of all, that tells [00:14:00] you one thing. But then I think the other insight is the fact that he doesn't have 900 famous paintings. He has a handful. And I think this goes back to what you were saying about.
With the tweets, right? Even though he's a famous painter, he has a handful of famous paintings out of 900 that he did, but it's only because they hid the 900 that he's able to have these few famous paintings.
And then the other example that I gave was from music. And I think there was a really interesting study that I came across, where they were doing some research on musical composers. And so they looked at the data and it's so crazy that if you take the combined work of the 250 greatest composers in history, while, I mean, greatest who's to say, but the 250 most recognized composers in history, you combine all of their works together. 16 people created, I think something like over half of all of that work. So out of the combined work of 250 [00:15:00] people, 16 people did the lion's share of all of that.
And then taking that down another level, only three of them. So I think it was a Bach, Mozart and someone else, it's terrible that I've forgotten, but only three of them actually combined did 20% of all of that work, which is insane.
But when you think about, if you were to ask someone, oh, who was some classical composers that you know, those are probably the ones that are going to name and it turns out they did the lion share of the work out of
And part of it might be because they were so good and the quality is higher, but the other reason is they just did, they did so much.
Blake Burge: You know, I've told some people in the course a couple of weeks ago. They said, well, man, you've just grown at this, you know, insane trajectory, which I have grown pretty fast. But I told them, I said, man I also. For the first six months.
So I started in, I started in May of last year was the first one I wrote. So it's been [00:16:00] right at about a year. And I said, man, for the first six months, I wrote two threads a week, every single week for six months straight. So people like to go back and say, man, you had this thread on this subject that went viral.
Yeah, there was five in the two weeks before that did nothing. And then after that one went viral, there was five more after that one that did nothing. And then I'd have one hit, then I do five or six. so that would go nowhere. So it's just, it's one of those oddities of life, right.
That people notice, people only remember like the hit. So it's like the whole myth of an overnight success. Right. Doesn't exist. There's no second. anybody that is a quote overnight success odds are 99.9% of those people have been grinding behind the scenes for years before you ever heard of them.
Now, once they got discovered Yeah, it can hockey stick, right. And, and you can [00:17:00] growth can grow it at an extremely rapid pace, but what people typically forget or just don't think about is they don't think about all of the, failures, all of the trials, and tribulations and, and things that didn't order say same with me, man, on just like Twitter, I think it's safe to say for, for whatever reason Twitter is working for me closing in on 250,000 followers so, It's pretty insane.
But like I started off at the beginning, man. I had a website for a while that, or a blog for awhile that I wrote on no one read that thing. No one came it got, I ain't got no, no interest, no traction whatsoever. So I got rid of it. I sold stuff on Amazon for a while. I sold about 50 grand worth of plastic meat thermometers on Amazon.
50 grand sounds. Okay. The truth is to keep it on the first page of [00:18:00] results. I was turning around and dumping any money I made back into Amazon's pay-per-click engine. So on that 50 grand, I ended up losing about three or 4,000 bucks is what I did. So I know I learned a lot. You know, it was, it was fun to do. And I learned a lot about, you know, sourcing products from overseas. And, how selling on Amazon worked and, and all of that. So it was interesting. But it was far from a success. Same thing on eBay. I flipped shoes on eBay for awhile and sold some but not anything life changing, not anything that anyone would consider some massive success.
So I've, like I said, I've spent 20 years or the last 20 years wanting to start my own thing, be it have my own business, do some kind of entrepreneurial venture. And it hasn't happened, you know, I've continued working for other people in their businesses that they own. and I've worked for two great companies.
No shot against them. I've enjoyed both of the places I [00:19:00] worked for, but just say all that to say that the success I've had over the last year that has led to some other opportunities, surfacing for me has been, long time. A lot of different things have been tried to lead up to this point where something might actually happen.
David Elikwu: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I want to double click on what you were just saying in terms of, so you had this journey the last 20 years you've worked really just two companies. So I'd love to know, because I think from listening to your whole story previously, I kind of probably would split that into maybe three chapters.
So one is the early stage to the career that you've had, but then also this, you know, your attempts at entrepreneurship, having a blog, having the eBay selling and at Amazon selling, and then maybe this chapter now as a creator online, even though there's considerable overlap on shore between those different chapters, but I'd love to maybe dig into each of those and get an idea of maybe what you learned.
So thinking about your [00:20:00] career, even from whether it's from going to university or from before going to university what's maybe what is one of the earliest memories that you think helped put you on a particular trajectory in life?
Blake Burge: For me, I think a lot of it starts just with how you were raised, man. I was raised, my dad worked both my parents worked but my dad worked, in the oil field not in the field, but worked for energy companies. And I learned early on in life. The oil field is a very up and down industry.
When it's good, it's really good. If you work in that industry, when it's bad, it's really bad. It's lay offs and closing field offices and, not much fun. And so what I grew up in was I had a father who worked hard enough that, and was good enough at his job that we moved 13 times before I was in eighth grade.
And all of those moves were because of fluctuations in the oil and gas industry. And [00:21:00] basically the companies that my father worked for coming to him and saying, Hey, we like you, you do a great job for us. We'd like to keep you, but we're closing our office in Denver and we need you to move to Houston.
If you don't want to move to Houston, that's fine. We just don't have a job for you here anymore. So we would move. And the example that set for me, it was just, you know, my dad prioritized work and providing for his family over, anything else. So he went where the job was and where the work was to provide the life. To provide a living for us, for me and my sisters and my mom. So, my whole life, it was just kind of ingrained in me that hard work was the first step to anything that you want and then luck and opportunity and advancement and higher pay. And all of those kinds of things generally are hanging out around where hard work is going on.
So [00:22:00] if you're working hard, you know, doing what you're supposed to do, all those kinds of things will, flow your direction generally. So for me, that's kind of, you know, I went to college got out of college, had no clue what I wanted to do. No idea. And local business in the town I live in, I knew the lady that owned it.
I knew the man that owned it and his daughter that would come down at years later. And was talking with him one day and they just said, man, what are you doing now? And I said, well, I'm, I'm working over at this place for my father-in-law. And I'm more just killing time because I don't know what the heck I want to do with my life. And they said, man, why don't you come work for us? While you figure it out. And I said, okay. You know, I'm not planning on being there very long. But I'll come work for you. Just to do something different, try something new and kind of long story short. They're a big automotive company that basically installs equipment, aftermarket equipment on vehicles for large national [00:23:00] accounts.
So I basically went to work there, serviced bodies for pickups after they came out of a paint booth for $9 an hour is what I started out doing. And ended up staying there for 15 years. And over the course of the next 15 years, I basically ran or managed every facet of that business in one, in one form or fashion except for accounting.
Wasn't too interested in that. but everything else the biggest thing that that company did for me and I will always be grateful to them for is they put me in jobs, in roles within that company that I had no business being in. And they were willing to live with my failures and you know, kind of let me literally learn on the job.
And you know, as I proved myself over time and, once you're there 15 years and you know the people really well, they know what you bring to the table, you know them, that that afforded me the freedom to try some of the side hustles that I mentioned earlier. [00:24:00] So all of this side stuff that I've tried has all been while you know, working full time at one of these two companies.
David Elikwu: So I'd love to know where, where do you think this entrepreneurial streak came from? Because the other question I was going to ask is maybe some of the, what were some of the lessons that you learned from your dad? I know you mentioned that he had this a long career doing one thing, but then while there is stability and maybe the type of role, there's some instability in the work itself, and maybe having to move around and having to do lots of different things.
Do you think that is something that maybe pushed you to wanting to have alternative sources of income or was this more of an afterthought and you were more just seeking a stable job and career that you could stick at.
Blake Burge: A couple of things for me. One while I have a tremendous amount of respect for my father and, and the work ethic that he displayed. Man, he also traveled a lot when I [00:25:00] was a kid, so he was gone and even when he was in town, you know, he would typically leave for work pretty early in the morning and he'd get home, you know, pretty late at night.
So while I have a ton of respect for that I also have always, you know, I've basically been doing the same thing for the last 20 years where I leave early in the morning. I get home late at night and now, you know, I've got a wife, I've got a seven year old son. I just have this desire to carve out a bit of a life for myself where you know, what's the most valuable thing that we all have, right. It's time, can't get it back.
So what's fascinating to me, or what's always been a driving force is just to carve out a way to still provide the life that I want to provide for my wife and son. But also give myself some more freedom of time to just do the things that I enjoy doing. So that that's one aspect of it.
The other aspect of it is you know, over the years, my father [00:26:00] my father tried to, he had a couple of different entrepreneurial ventures or opportunities that came his way to own his own business or own portions of a business with a couple other people. And for one reason or another they never panned out.
So for me that was probably some of what sparked it originally was just seeing him try those things and thinking that would be pretty cool to do. And then, the people that I've worked for you know, that own businesses, you know, I've never been I've never put myself, I guess, in the camp of there are people that see like the owner of a business and see the lifestyle that they live and some of the things that they get to do and look at that maybe from a point of jealousy of, oh, you know, it must be nice to take two weeks off and go to Europe, or it must be nice to come in late. If you want to come in late, or it must be nice to make X amount of dollars because you own the [00:27:00] business. And I've never quite looked at it like that. I've looked at it from the standpoint of one. Typically if they own the business, they also own all of the risk. If the business doesn't go. So yes they're going to reap the lion's share of the reward when it does well. They're also the one that is on the hook if it doesn't. So I've always thought I've always thought the idea of owning my own thing and running my own business was appealing from the standpoint of man, if it works you're the one that gets to reap the benefits of that. But I've also tried to go into it, you know, eyes wide open and say man, if it doesn't work, you're also the one that could be out on the street trying to figure out what you're going to do the next week.
And full transparency, that's probably why I haven't done it. You know, I've never fully jumped ship to try and do something a hundred percent on my own because there is this balance of man, it's nice to have that guaranteed [00:28:00] income that guaranteed paycheck which I guess nothing is really guaranteed. But working for someone in an established business that's working, that's up and running, that's, you know, generating revenue, generating a profit. That is, there is less pressure there. As far as like a, every two weeks, I'm going to get a paycheck you know, as compared to, if you're completely on your own, then you have to generate whether it's content or a product or, you know, whatever the, whatever the avenue is. It's I think that's something that kind of gets overlooked sometimes is, yeah the lifestyle sounds nice. It looks pretty cool. Those people are also on the hook to make sure that they keep producing and keep turning out, you know, whatever the product is. that's allowing them to live that life.
So that that's kind of where I'm at right now, to be honest is you know, I have a good job. I enjoy it. I like the people I work with. I like the people I work for. and it's a good job. I do still have this [00:29:00] entrepreneurial itch where if I could figure out how to make this work on my own, I might give it a try. You know, I don't know. We'll see, but that's the mental you know, back and forth that goes on.
David Elikwu: Sure. I think that's the interesting thing though. I think a lot of people have this perception that entrepreneurship is either half fat or full fat and full fat entrepreneurship means you have to be doing it full time and going whole hog. And this is all you do.
But I think they are two distinct flavors and one might be tasty at one point in your life. And one might be the best thing for you at different point in your life. And I don't think either, I don't think there's necessarily a trade off in terms of intensity or in terms of what is best. So as an example, I've done both. So on one hand, I've run a few businesses as side hustles while I was working full-time and then I've also done the full-time thing going off and doing my own consulting business for, for a little period of time as well.
But I genuinely think in some ways they have each [00:30:00] their own benefits, just like you saying, there is huge pressure, particularly something like consulting. You need work that is coming through. I mean, you're doing job one job. It might last for a few months, but then you you're already thinking in the back of your mind.
Okay. What's the next
Blake Burge: Yeah, this is going to end three months from now. I need keep filling the hopper. So I've got something in coming in next, yeah totally.
David Elikwu: And there's nothing else beyond that. If you, if you're sick or if you want to take a break then it's all on you. Whereas, you know, being able to have a job, I've run a few businesses. So one, I probably the most notable was when I was running a travel company.
I was working in corporate law and I was just using all of my annual leave to run these trips to various countries around the world. So it was a lot of fun, but I definitely needed the income and the income was facilitating me being able to do this. And I think, yeah, actually, even now there's other things that I run and I think it's quite great being able to have, you can all almost so the way that I envisaged it with [00:31:00] starting one of my current companies is I'm almost using my full-time job, like a VC for my part time stuff. So if I can use this side stuff to make some money and I saved the rest from my income, then it's almost like getting an extra 1000, 2000 pounds or dollars a month that can go into your business if that's the way that you want to do it.
And whereas you wouldn't have that, if you were only relying on the income that comes directly from it, because you would still need a good couple of months to get up to speed.
Blake Burge: Yeah. And it's a strange place to be because there is there's this pull to, in your head, at least for me, there's this pull in your head that says if I would just take the jump, I could make it work. If I had the time to devote to it full time, I know I could make it work. Then the other side of your brain says I've got all these bills, I've got these things I need to take care of. I'm responsible for my family. I've [00:32:00] got these, you know, investments that for retirement that I'm trying to grow, like you, you've got all these other things that are pulling at the it's like the. You know, the devil and the angel on your shoulder kind of thing, where you know that the angel might be Hey, you know, calm down. You've got this steady income over here. You've got this good job. You liked the people you work with. You know, all of these things are good. What are you doing? You idiot. why would you risk this? You know, and then over on the other side, you've got this. Yeah, but if you did this, man, what could you turn it into?
What, so what, when I talk to people, I tell man, kind of kinda what you were saying is if you're able to do it. If you can find this balance where you can kind of test the waters on entrepreneurial type stuff and start to build, build a clientele or build a revenue stream, or, you know, especially in today's world with you know, digital products [00:33:00] if you can carve out, you know, a few hours, you know, an hour or two every night to work on building, you know, some sort of product that you can build once, and then, that that's there.
I'm jumping around a little bit here, but like that's for me, like that's the balance of, or that's the benefit of having an audience, right? Is once you, once you scale a big enough audience that follows you and is interested in the subject matter, you're putting out then it's a fairly natural progression to, you can create courses or digital products or even physical products based around the content that people have followed you for. And those things are more of a build it once, sell it a thousand times type of thing. So if those are, those are more, at least for me personally, kind of where my head is at is I'm, I'm transitioning a little bit in my head [00:34:00] from, okay, I've built this audience now. That's cool. And it's fun. And I love the interaction and the people it's let me meet.
No, that's all great. It's all, it would also be pretty cool if I could turn this into something that actually changes like my day-to-day life and my family's life. and then kind of the mantra behind the audience building course that I did with Sahil a couple of weeks ago. Then man, I would genuinely liked to help other people accomplish the same thing.
I would like for people that really want to do something like this, that it doesn't take them 20 some years to figure it out. Like it's taken me. You know, there's plenty of snake oil salesmen out there that are just trying to make a quick buck and, you know, selling stuff that doesn't really provide value.
So one of the things that I've always tried to tell myself was if I ever quote made it and, you know, got a big enough following or found enough success [00:35:00] that I would try and, you know, pay it forward and teach other people how to do what I've been able to do.
David Elikwu: That makes sense. I'm about to ask you a question that is specifically about audience building, but I know that I won't forgive myself, if I don't ask you about this, meat thermometer thing is this, is this an Oklahoma thing? to me, maybe because I'm city person that sounds like a very random.
Blake Burge: Oh, no, it's super random so I like, so I like cooking out, right. Smoking food or grilling outside. Right. And, here my thought process was this, I was going to try and build a suite of products, that I would offer on Amazon around like a man-cave type stuff, grilling, cooking out type stuff. So it was going to be like, you know, spatulas or like, gloves for cooking out or tools to clean your grill, you know, different, different things [00:36:00] around just like, cooking food outside, smoking food outside.
And the reason I picked, so all this little meat thermometer was just a way, like, you know, if you're cooking a steak outside to put the meat thermometer and see what temperature it's at, right to cook it correctly. And why I landed on that, was One, it was a terrible idea if I'm being honest, because if you get on Amazon and search meat thermometer there's about 50,000 of them.
So it was a, it was a highly competitive item. So bad job by me on research there, but. The other reason I picked it is one of the guides I had read, you know, on how to choose a product to sell on Amazon was basically pick something very small, lightweight, that could ship in a small envelope, to save on shipping costs.
And that when you were shipping it to Amazon FBA through their warehouses, that the smaller, the [00:37:00] footprint of your item took up in their warehouse, the smaller their fees on the back end order, so that was, that's why I landed on that was just tried to pick something in like the outdoor cooking realm. Cause that's where my idea was at. And then couple that with picking something small, lightweight, easy to ship.
David Elikwu: Okay, I think in context
Blake Burge: Not that exciting of an answer, but that's the truth.
David Elikwu: Yeah, no, that makes a lot more sense in context. Now, I think, you know, that niche is still there to have your. Blake's barbecue range.
Blake Burge: Yeah, right, right.
David Elikwu: It's got a ring to it. So, okay. So let's get into audience building. I'm really interested in, I think there were two things that you said.
So one part of it is the blog that you were doing before. What was your intention in doing that? Was that a thing where you actually trying to build an audience or you just had something that you wanted to share and you wanted to put that out there. And then the second part of my question is then you mentioned going to have this, [00:38:00] going to speak with Sam Parr and meeting a bunch of people there and starting Twitter from that was your initial inertia on Twitter that you wanted to build an audience, or was that something that you discovered as a secret later on.
Blake Burge: Okay. So the first question, the blog Was man, this is a I'm going to date myself like I'm an old man, but this was, this was back in the days of like, I think it was on Blogger, So, it was, there was really no rhyme or reason to it, to be honest. It was kinda like, man, the internet is growing.
I know there's opportunity here. I know there's blogs were kind of the thing at the time that that people were doing and you were hearing stories about, oh, you know, so-and-so has got this blog, that's getting X amount of traffic every month and they're selling Google ad words on it and just making ridiculous amounts of money. Right. So I think I had this pie in the [00:39:00] sky, idea in my head that I'm gonna write some blog that, the message were just going to flock to. And I would fill it up with banner ads and, you know, get rich and go retire to an island somewhere I think is, is probably what I had in my head.
David Elikwu: Was this a personal blog?
Blake Burge: Yeah, just random. Whatever I wanted to write about, like I said, it really had no, no rhyme or reason to it. And, I think it peaked at like five visitors a month. So it was not very popular, but, and I didn't do it for very long and I didn't do it consistently. I didn't publish consistently.
David Elikwu: So what changed then? Your, your second go around? What changed? So now you have this, you go to this thing with Sam Parr you're starting to get interested in being online and building a presence online, I'm assuming. So what was the difference in, you mentioned, you know, you're doing two, at least two threads a week. So how did you change that?
Blake Burge: I've lived a lot of life since I did the blog. [00:40:00] The blog was 10, 15 years ago, man. So, I'm a different person then I was now. I have a lot more appreciation for, if you want things to work, it takes a consistent effort over a sustained long period of time. And, I try to have more of an outset now that, if I'm going to do it, I'm going to do it and I'm going to do it for like one thing that people, I think they miss is, or I don't know if miss is the right word. They give up too early. They don't, you know, people don't give things a chance to work. It's and, and I'm guilty guilty of this myself, whether it's, you know, health and fitness or building an audience online or learning something new, whatever it is. At least for me, I think people tend to come out of the gate fast.
And if they don't see some immediate returns, they start to slow down and it's like new year's resolutions, right. [00:41:00] January man, everybody's changing their life and they're going to change the world in the next year. I don't remember the statistic, but I read somewhere that it was something like 97% of new year's resolutions are gone by March 1st.
Like within the first couple months nobody's doing it anymore. So what I, what I just told myself was okay, I'll answer both of your questions. One, my idea from the outset was scale. From the very beginning of starting on Twitter. My idea was if I can build enough, if I can build a big enough following opportunities will come. I don't know what those opportunities are. I have no idea what I want to do. I have no idea where this wants to lead, but I believe that scale is undefeated. If I can get a big enough following opportunities will come to me. And I have no idea what those will be, but that was my, that was my original thought process was, who knows if this will work or [00:42:00] not.
But that's, my goal is my original goal was a hundred thousand in a year. And I ended up exceeding that. But that was the, that was the original goal was a hundred thousand a year. And just see what happens. And, but with a, with a goal in my head of a hundred thousand in a year that kind of had some built in staying power to it where I didn't set a goal to say, I'm going to hit a thousand in a month or 5,000 in three months.
I set a goal for the year and then, I've had plenty of goals that I've set for myself that I didn't stick to for whatever reason. I did stick to this one and I'm sure full transparency. Part of the reason I stuck to it is because it started working. And I started seeing some results. You know, it's a lot easier.
If you start eating healthy and you're trying to lose weight and you see your belly getting smaller, it's easier to stay motivated and keep doing that right. Or if you're lifting weights and you see your biceps [00:43:00] getting bigger. Oh, well, it's easier to keep doing this because I can physically see and same thing with Twitter when I'm writting and I see people that's one of the cool things about Twitter is it's a pretty immediate feedback loop. You put something out there and, you know, pretty quickly whether it resonates with people or not. And then it's a bit of a, you know, an addicting dopamine hit, right? When, when things do hit and they do go viral, then you're kind of chasing that for the next one.
David Elikwu: Yeah, but going into your analogy like working out and building muscles, I think there's maybe two dopamine hits there. There's one, which is when you're actually working out and it feels like, oh, you know, you feel the pain and the pain must mean that something is working. And so during the process, you feel like something's but then I think also.
It might be a few weeks. It might be a few days later. It might be a few weeks later, but then suddenly you start to notice your physique [00:44:00] changing. So I'm interested to know with the Twitter thing, I think obviously there's one, there's the initial inertia boost of you get a few likes and you get a few retweets right away.
But when was that point where it clicked that this is genuinely going to work and you're going to be able to hit that scale, because I know that you gave yourself this huge goal, but I think, you know, there's a lot of people on twitter that even in 10 years, they won't get to a hundred, a hundred thousand. So what was the point where you thought, okay, it clicks that this is going to be able to scale significantly for you.
Blake Burge: Couple of things, that's a good question. So in, in regard to, just to go back to like the fitness, reference. So you, you just made me think of something when you were talking. So another thing that happens in like that three to four week timeframe, and you've been consistent, or even if it's a couple months timeframe, somebody else says something to you, somebody that's in your orbit, that's in your life, says, man, David, you looked good.
And [00:45:00] man, that, feels when it's unexpected and you didn't see it coming. And you know, the work you've been doing behind the scenes and somebody just randomly says, man, David, have you been working out? Have you been exercising? Have you been, you look good, you look better. Your skin looks clear, you know, whatever it is, they give you some tour sort of compliment.
Well, that's basically what happened to me on, on Twitter was I had a couple of large accounts, which at the time, you know, I was probably at when this happened, I dunno, 10, 20,000 somewhere in there. And I had a couple of accounts that were over a hundred K, which at the time to me just seemed like this astronomical number, right. Reach out to me and like unprovoked, just reached out to me through Twitter DMS and compliment me on something I wrote. And give me tips on, Hey, you should [00:46:00] change this or if you would have added this or structured it this way, it would have worked better. And man, it's pretty amazing when, when that just comes out of the blue.
Right. And those were, those were a couple of things that, that happened to me and I thought, oh, maybe I'm better at this than I think I am. Because I think this person is great at it. And if they're saying. Hey, this was good. I liked it. Maybe I'm better than I think. And I still, I mean, I still struggle with that.
I still put stuff out there. I mean, there there's some stuff that I've unearthed that, I'm pretty confident when I put it out there that I, that it's going to do well. There's other stuff I put out there now that I still think, man, this is terrible. No, one's going to read this. Why is anybody getting no, one's going to care about this. And I'm always a little bit surprised at the reaction. So Yeah, but to circle back that was really the thing for me. It [00:47:00] was just some, validation from some people that I respected. Some people that I looked up to that, just came around and said, man, that pretty good. Or I've never seen anybody do that, or a man I had people DM me and asked me, man, how did you do this? and that was kind of an unlock or I said, oh, okay. This is pretty simple to me, but just because it's simple to me, it doesn't mean it's simple to everyone else. So just like, I'm sure there's things you understand and you know, that I have no clue about, that works for everyone.
Right? So, that was another kind of hurdle that I had to get over was, what seems simple to you and what you may do in your daily life, or something you've done for years that comes easy to you? There's a whole world of people out there that 10 years behind you that haven't done that, that it's interesting.
It's new, they don't know how to do it. So, those were kind of the two things was one. When I [00:48:00] started posting things that are got a lot of reaction from, like, I could tell people are finding value in it and that they were learning things that was motivating. That was fun. And then, like I said, when some larger accounts that I respected, either quote tweeted stuff I had done or reached out to me directly to compliment things I had done, that was kind of a, that was kind of an unlock it. Oh, maybe, maybe I'm a little, maybe this is maybe this is working better than I think it is. I might ought to keep going.
David Elikwu: Yeah,
and I really want to tie together two things that you mentioned here, which is, you know, this is where the overnight success comes from, right? It comes from being able to get these incremental boosts because all of that doesn't come at the beginning, but if you stick it out long enough, then you get to the next level, you stick it out long enough, you get to the next level.
And just like you were saying earlier, this idea that for a lot of people, they do give up too early. And what is so funny about this idea of an overnight success is that it makes perfect sense when you [00:49:00] understand the law of compounding and how compounding really works. Right. I think that a great example is Warren Buffett. There's, I don't know the numbers off the top of my head, but essentially if you take out, I think he. Basically more than 90% of his wealth came since he turned something like 60.
Blake Burge: Yeah. It's yes, no, you're exactly right. It's like, since he was 60 or 70 years old is the vast majority of his wealth, just because. The number got big enough to compound on itself that it's just gone and same, you know, to reference David Morris, that we were talking about earlier, me and him were talking once and he said something to the effect. I won't get it exactly right. But he said something to the effect of like the analogy he used was climbing a mountain that, you know, when you're, when people climb a mountain, there's, there's a level like call it 80% of the way to the top that you're in the tree [00:50:00] line. right? And you can't see anything below you except for trees and above you.
All you can see is trees. You can't see your way back down and you can't see what it looks like at the top. And he said to me, one time you said, man, just think about it. Like, what if everybody just stopped in the trees and got frustrated and then turned around and went back down. You would never know what it looked like from the top.
So he said, man, the trees is where everybody gets stuck. You know, you get lost in there and it gets frustrating and it's a pain to keep climbing. And he's a man, all the shots you see on your TV or national geographic or whatever, you know, he said all the cool pictures you see is the people that got through the tree line and they're standing on the top of the mountain and you see this majestic view of, you know, and here's what [00:51:00] I accomplished. Right. So he said, that's what, like everybody says, here's all these people that climb Mount Everest, right? They don't, they don't publicise, all the people that made it halfway and went back down.
David Elikwu: Yeah, yeah. I'd love to see those numbers.
Blake Burge: You know, so, same thing with anything you're trying to accomplish in life is, you know, I keep going back to this, this fitness, when you know, the fitness magazines, don't put the dude on the cover that stopped halfway through and started sitting in a beanbag chair, eating Cheetos again. All right. You know that guy's not that that's not motivating. They put the end result. They put the person that everybody in their mind, like you want to look like that person. So, and that's what gets glorified, you know, it's just, you just got to focus on, it's all the, it's all the small steps. Taken one after another, [00:52:00] after another, over a consistent period of time that lead to, you know, that lead to that ultimate result we're all trying to get to.
David Elikwu: And another example I was just thinking of that you reminded me of is just the idea of walking. So I walk every day and I try to walk every day. I managed to do it. Sometimes I get caught up some stuff but today, for example, this morning, I probably walked for, just over two hours. I don't know how many kilometers that was or miles for you, but I think it's so interesting how the very first kilometer is always the longest one. It feels the longest, it takes. So I have a smart watch that tells me, you know, well, once I've hit the first kilometer and it's so strange, how, it feels like I've walked a very long time before you get the first one, but then before, you know, it it's 3, 4, 5, the rest of them come so fast and mile is a mile, a kilometer is a kilometer the distance doesn't change, but it's the inertia and momentum that you build. And even when I look at the tracker, almost every single kilometer, that i [00:53:00] walked gets faster and faster from the first one. And it's not that I'm necessarily trying to walk any faster. It feels like you're doing the same thing, but it's just being able to build that momentum and not noticing what you're doing as much when you're going full pace.
Whereas why at the beginning, when you're first starting your legs, you've just gotten out of bed. It's slow, it feels like you have to, it's a bit more of a slog, but once you're in your stride, everything becomes easier. Even though it's the exact same task that you're doing.
Blake Burge: Yeah. And say, you know, to, you made me think of a couple of things there. You know, just to take my example of writing things on Twitter, once you figure out what works for you, you get in a rhythm, you get in a cadence, right? So it doesn't take me near as long today to create something. That's going to provide value and do well as it did six months ago.
And when I first started, I was spending several hours to write one thread. Now I can do one in under an hour [00:54:00] most of the time, but it's just because I've through repetition. I've, I've developed a process that works and kind of in the same vein it gets easier over time. You know, cause you learn what works for you. You build a process that works for you. I mean, even down to like the time of day I do them and the room I do them in and my setup, like I have all that more refined now, so it's just a smoother process. But the other thing you made me think of was, I'm not sure. I'm gonna assume you're familiar with David Goggins just because he's super popular and you know, in this world of, you know, productivity and getting things done and you know, but his, in his book, he had this and again, I won't nail it exactly, but he had this portion in his book where he talked about one of like the hacks for him and life was, how much he's like, I hate running every day. I hate it. Everybody thinks I got everybody looks at me and thinks that this dude is just this hardcore machine [00:55:00] and he loves running and he's like, I freaking hate running. I hate doing it every day.
I don't want to get up and do it every day. And he said that kind of the hurdle that the hack for lack of a better term that he set for him self was, he said, the first thing I do is I just, I get up and I put my shoes on. I put my running shoes on and he said, what I have found is once I have those shoes on, it's a lot, it's more of a mental hurdle for me to say, man, I'm losing out, if I stop and I go to the effort of taking my shoes back of and I'm not going to go run. He said, once I've got them on, then it's easier, you know, to your point that once he took that first step of putting those shoes on, then it's like, now what now? What kind of a joke am I, if I take them back off? right. So I'm going to go do it.
So say same thing with Twitter, same thing with anything else is, that do that first [00:56:00] step. And, and you're much just keep putting one foot in front of the other type thing. You know, you're much more likely to accomplish things. If you can just take it you know, a single granular step at a time. And before long those are a lot bigger piles of sand than what they started out at.
David Elikwu: Sure. And in terms of content, I find it interesting that you were mentioning before the fact that when you were first starting, you know, it's not as though maybe you. Your build own business in the past, or you've sold hundreds of thousands of meat thermometers or whatever it was, but you were very intentional about curating what it is that you want to write and what you want to talk about. And that's what I find quite interesting about your approach is that, okay. On one hand you do share lessons from your own life and lessons from things that you've learned and things that you've done, but then at the same time, you're also curating this knowledge about lots of other things. And you could do some random threads, like one about Excel spreadsheets or one that's about a story from someone's life.[00:57:00]
I would love to know more about your curation process. I think that is a, I think one of the things I actually tweeted about recently is this idea that your inputs determine your outputs. And I would love to know how you curate the things that you consume in order to create what you create.
Blake Burge: Just to, to touch on those, on those specific threads software related stuff. My thought process behind those is pretty simple. I try and have a mixture of three things, things that are simple enough that I can explain it in a tweet and a 32nd GIF and people can actually do it. They're complex enough that I don't think everyone has heard of them.
And then, somewhere in the middle, like a few easy ones mixed in, cause everybody wants to be able, you know, if they go look at that stuff to be able to go turn around and do it right. So my general thought process around curating like that kind of information is if I'm reading, you know, blogs [00:58:00] online, watching YouTube videos, just instructional information around a given software. I use the framework of I've worked in Excel or Gmail or some of these other softwares for 20 years now.
If I run a cost some little hack or tip or trick that I wasn't aware of, I'm far from, you know, this genius that knows everything about these softwares, but I have worked in them forever. So if I run across something that I haven't seen or that I wasn't exactly sure how to do, I feel like it's a fairly safe bet that there's going to be a decent amount of people that didn't know that either.
Man, as far as just content I consume, I totally agree with the idea that inputs determine outputs. What I, can't, what I can't give a great answer to is how I determine my inputs. It's pretty random. What I can tell you is, when I'm struggling to think of things [00:59:00] to write about or content to put out, I can generally I can tie that back to pour inputs, recently, meaning, instead of trying to think of a good example, you know, instead of reading a book, that's actually going to teach me something.
I spent an hour on Netflix, bingeing a cooking show or something, you know, something that I just found that was fun. And I definitely think there's a place for that. Like it can't be all, I'm only consuming content just to learn. I think there's obviously a time and a place just for things you enjoy and they're just fun with no strings attached. But typically, the software kind of stuff that I write about, that just comes from my day to day life. I do a lot of that just in my day job. So, when I find things that when I run across things I'm trying to do in my day job, that I'm not sure how to do it, or I think man, there's gotta be an easier way to get at this.
Then I'll go research those. And when I find things interesting, I, just keep a notion [01:00:00] doc that I track that kind of stuff. And then I throw it into a thread later on. The life advice type stuff I write, man, that's just cause I'm getting old. I turn I say, I'm getting old. I turned 40 this year. So it feels old or it feels like I'm getting older. Beards turned in a little gray. So that stuff is just, my general thoughts on life and what things work. And I just enjoy writing that kind of stuff really. And I figure I've kind of my content at this point has kind of been split into two camps.
There's kind of the life advice type stuff and then the software stuff is kind of the two main things I write about now. And I'm trying to keep a decent cadence of doing both, simply because if I had to guess, I think there's probably a fair portion of my audience that, could care less about Excel and about Gmail. And, and I also think there's probably a fair portion of my audience, that doesn't give two shits about what I think. [01:01:00] About how they should live their life, but they like, learning Excel. So, you know, I just put out, you know, I've been pretty fortunate. I think that, man, I've written stuff that's interesting to me. And, and been lucky enough that it's, it's resonated with people and I've found a couple of lanes that are, that seem to be interesting, seem to be a good mix of interesting to me and I like writing about them and researching them and seem to be interesting to other people as well.
David Elikwu: Sure. So I guess following on from that, you've mentioned that you have this course that you did with Sahil, which is about audience building. I'd love to know. I mean, we've talked about quite, quite few different things and a few different ideas around audience building. Is there a key lesson or a few lessons that you talk about on your course that we haven't covered, that you would be able to share?
Blake Burge: I wish, that's, we've covered most of them. We've covered most of them. I mean, the main things we preach is, you know, consistency publishing. And then, you [01:02:00] know, the course itself gets into a lot more like, frameworks behind the scenes of how to specifically write things or how the Twitter algorithm works, things of that nature. But from a high, from a high level perspective, man, it just comes down to like so many things in life. It just comes down to consistency and being a good human. Man, if you network with people and you're a good human people like being around you, they liked talking to you, you're going to win. It'll happen. You know, people will share your stuff. They'll engage with your stuff. They'll they'll reach out to you to do podcasts. You know, if that's just the way I'm just a big believer in, you put out some good vibes into the world. It'll come back to you.
David Elikwu: I love that. So being a good human being consistent, not giving up too early, I think we've covered so many like key lessons, which apply equally to know audience building or building on social [01:03:00] media, but actually just life in general. I think these are all things that, yeah. implement them can make you infinitely more successful.
Blake Burge: Yep. Totally agree, totally agree.
David Elikwu: Thank you so much for tuning in. Please do stay tuned for more. Don't forget to rate, review and subscribe. It really helps the podcast and follow me on Twitter feel free to shoot me any thoughts. See you next time