Episode 51 | How Traffic Quality Can Make A 10x Difference In Your Business
[00:00] Rob: This is Startups for the Rest of Us: Episode 51.
[00:12] Rob: Welcome to Startups for the Rest of Us, the podcast that helps developers be awesome at launching software products, whether you’ve built your first product or you’re just thinking about it. I’m Rob.
[00:20] Mike: And I’m Mike.
[00:21] Rob: And we’re here to share our experiences to help you avoid the same mistakes we’ve made. What’s the word this week, Mike?
[00:26] Mike: I bought a new laptop.
[00:28] Rob: Awesome! And let’s see. You had Dell for years so you got another Dell. Is that right?
[00:33] Mike: No. Well, I had Dell back in – I bought my first Dell laptop back in 2000 or 2001. I think 2000 and then ever since then, I’ve been mostly using Lenovos. I kind of switched around back in 2005 or so. I tried out MacBook Pro with – using Boot Camp for a little while. Worked for a couple of years or so and then I just ditched it because Boot Camp wasn’t really working very well because of the fan drivers and what would happen is the thing would – it wouldn’t overheat so that it wasn’t usable but it would overheat so that I couldn’t actually use it as a laptop or it would burn me. So …
[01:10] Rob: Right.
[01:10] Mike: … I decided to ditch that and I went with Lenovo for a couple of years and this time, I decided to try out the MacBook Air.
[01:17] Rob: So that’s what you got. And you got the big – the 13-inch?
[01:20] Mike: Yes.
[01:20] Rob: All right.
[01:21] Mike: Got the 13-inch and I was a little concerned about the – not just the fact that it’s widescreen but the fact that the screen resolution is a bit less than what my Lenovo had because my Lenovo was a 15-inch screen but it was 1920 by 1200 resolution and this is only 1440 by 900 resolution. So I was a little concerned about it but I mean part of the reason I ended up switching and getting this instead of just kind of keeping with my Lenovo was the fact that my video card was starting to go and every five or ten minutes or so, the video card drivers would completely reset. The entire machine would lock up [0:02:00] for about 10 seconds or so and then, you know, the driver would restart or whatever and it would kind of come back to normal but my machine will lock up for 10, 15, 20 seconds at a time.
[02:10] In order to get around those crashing issues, what I had done was I actually dropped the screen resolution so that the video card wouldn’t have to work as hard and I dropped it down to 1440 by 900; and it was actually tolerable. So I was really concerned about going to it and so far, it really hasn’t been an issue.
[02:28] Rob: Right. I have to admit. I am so jealous of the MacBook Air. You know, I’ve talked and it’s something I’ve entertained doing, selling – you know, I have a Dell I got maybe four, five months ago and I really like the Dell but it just doesn’t compare to the hardware of the MacBook Air. So I would guess that will be coming on the line. I think it’s like we talked about. The one issue I have with it is I – it seems like four gigs of ram splitting between two OSs. I just feel like I’m going to be disappointed doing that but you said that it has worked fine for you. You give what? A gig and a half to Mac and two and a half to Windows 7, is that right?
[03:02] Mike: Yes, yes, and it’s a 64-bit Windows 7 Ultimate and so far, it seems to be running fine. I mean I’m developing a lot of AuditShark code on it and so I’ve got all these different things running in Windows. I mean I’ve got obviously the Windows operating system itself then I’ve got SQL Server. I’ve got the Azure compute and storage services running. I’ve got Visual Studio 2010 running. I’ve got SQL Server Management Studio running and then plus all of the services and executables and stuff that I’m running on top of that for AuditShark.
[03:33] Rob: Right. So these are beefy apps. I mean Visual Studio alone can suck up a gig of ram. I hope that lasts because if it does, I will be probably upgrading to a MacBook Air but you see, even though I have – I mean I have at least comparable specs to a MacBook Air. I have a 256-gig SSD like you do. I have eight gigs of ram instead of four. Do you have an i5 or an i7?
[03:54] Mike: i7.
[03:55] Rob: Don’t have it there but anyway, yes. I’m happy with what I have but boy, that [0:04:00] aluminum and the – what is it? One point nine pounds or something ridiculous.
[04:03] Mike: Yes, it’s three. My Lenovo was about eight to nine pounds.
[04:08] Rob: Oh, gosh. You’re kidding. Yes, yes. So mine is three and a half so I wouldn’t probably save much on that but anyway, well, congrats man. That’s a good decision. I hope things work out for you.
[04:19] Mike: Yes. I’ve been using it for – probably about a week and a half, two weeks now and the only issue that I’ve actually run into is that – with my old laptop, I took the entire thing and used VMware’s tools and converted it into a virtual machine and I’m running VMware Fusion on top of OS X. And the only thing that I found so far and this is really [0:04:37] [Indiscernible]. I got to go to a Genius Bar over at the shrine of Mac and ask them if they know what’s causing this but if I put the machine to sleep while it is on battery power, it won’t wake up.
[04:51] It just kind of goes nuts but if I have it connected, you know, to the power cable and to the wall and then I tell it to go to sleep and I turn it off and then I turn if back on with it connected to the wall, it’s fine. As soon as I power it up, go to battery power and then tell it to go to sleep while it’s still running on battery power, something goes haywire and basically I get, I guess – I’ve done some research on this. It’s called the black screen of death where the thing wakes up but it won’t do anything. It won’t respond to anything and you basically have to do a hard shutdown.
[05:24] Rob: That’s not good.
[05:25] Mike: No.
[05:25] Rob: Well, but that’s a Mac OS thing, right? It’s not because you’re running Windows on it …
[05:28] Mike: I think it’s an OS X thing and …
[05:30] Rob: Got it.
[05:31] Mike: … I’m pretty sure that it has to do with some sort of process that isn’t shutting down or waking up properly. I’ve also seen some indications that it might be the fact that I’ve got VMware running and it’s trying to access the video card, maybe something with the screensaver. I’m not real sure what’s going on but it’s a pretty specific set of conditions when it happens so I’m pretty sure that I will be able to eventually figure it out or maybe Apple put out an update that will fix it. Other than that one [0:06:00] issue though, I mean this thing really rocks. It’s awesome.
[06:04] Rob: Right. Well, cool. Hey, so we got mentioned on SiliconPrairieNews.com and it’s a guy named Paul Yoder and he has a startup called Donor Elf which is a donor management service for nonprofits and it’s pretty cool. At the bottom, Paul Yoder says, “After bootstrapping the $1,000 cost of this side project and gleaning inspiration by the micropreneur vision from the Startups for the Rest of Us podcasts, he hopes to continue building more with DonorElf and exploring different SaaS products.”
[06:31] So it’s kind of cool. It popped up on my Google Alerts and I wanted to thank Paul for the mention and I also wanted to thank Mark McDowell [0:06:38] [Phonetic]. He wrote a review of us in iTunes on August 8th and he says, “It’s a great podcast for the entrepreneurial-minded. I’m not a tech/software entrepreneur but I still enjoy the many processes, tips and struggles the podcast generates for me,” so that’s cool. So it’s good to know people are out there listening, being impacted by what we’re doing and then the last piece of – this one is a trivia question. Mike, do you know which of our episodes is the most popular at least according to our installation of WordPress? Don’t go to the website.
[07:11] Mike: I remember looking at it a while back but I don’t remember the title of it. I think it was episode 29.
[07:16] Rob: It is and it’s Five Steps to Beating Your Startup Demons and it’s a trip. I’ve heard quite a few people mention this and say, you know, how it was just an impactful episode and I remember recording it and you and I had a good stride in that episode but it has a lot of good content in it. So, that was what? Twenty episodes ago so, you know, if you’re a current listener and you haven’t listened to episode 29, definitely recommend doing it. You may have to go to StartupsfortheRestofUs.com to download it because I don’t know if our iTunes feed goes back that far. Now do you know what our number two episode is?
[07:47] Mike: I want to say episode one but it might have been episode 26, 28.
[07:53] Rob: Our number two episode is Movies for Nerds.
[07:56] Mike: Oh, are you serious?
[07:56] Rob: Episode 47.
[07:57] Mike: No way.
[07:58] Rob: People must have passed that around [0:08:00] because we got mixed feedback on that. Some people liked it and some people didn’t but that’s cool and then yes, our third most popular is episode one which I still think is kind of a trip, yes, that it would be that popular still but …
[08:13] Mike: I don’t know how those rankings are calculated to be honest.
[08:16] Rob: I think – I mean it’s a WordPress thing so my guess is its most popular post, it’s the most page views in a given time.
[08:25] Mike: The only thing I can think of though is that you would almost expect episode one to be the highest-ranked just because it has been there the longest, you know.
[08:34] Rob: I’m not sure if the popular thing – popular maybe over all time which is impressive. If episode 29 and 47 have more views than episode one already, that’s pretty impressive.
[08:44] Mike: It just means episode one really sucked.
[08:48] Rob: I think it did. I don’t think I could go back and listen to it now. That would be painful.
[08:50] Mike: Oh, it might be us.
[08:53] Rob: I was speaking in Santa Monica last week. It was this awesome, awesome crowd. It seriously might have been the – like the highest energy crowd that I have spoken in front of. It was a hundred people packed into this room really tight. It was starting to get warm towards the end and it was after work on a Wednesday night and there was beer and pizza and people were just like really into the talk. And of course I just like fed off the energy and that got me really amped and I started making more jokes and more …
[09:18] Mike: Did you do any magic tricks?
[09:20] Rob: I did do …
[09:20] Mike: You did.
[09:20] Rob: … my magic trick and people just ate it up. Yes, it really – it went over really well and there were applause and there was – I don’t know. It was a – there was great energy. There were tons of questions. In fact, I learned I need to put questions off to the end because I got – I probably got 25 questions and I let the people ask them during the presentation and it totally started derailing it. Now, I could keep track but like people who were watching were just like so frustrated with it.
[09:45] So, next time, I’m going to just hold questions until the end but yes, it was cool. It was at the Lean LA Startup group down in Santa Monica.
[09:54] Mike: Very cool.
[09:54] Rob: So I really enjoyed it.
[09:59] Rob: All right. So today we’re going to be [0:10:00] talking about how traffic quality can make a 10 X difference in your business. Today’s topic was requested by a listener and I apologize. I seem to have lost the email or the issue that was sent in but now the info here is also based on a blog post I wrote a while back called The Nine Levels of Traffic Quality and we’ll link that up in the show notes.
[10:19] Traffic quality is a term that we use to describe how targeted or interested visitors are in what you have to offer. So this typically has a direct correlation with how close each visitor is to your ideal customer and how much of a relationship you have with that visitor. So to say it another way, high traffic quality means that each visitor is very close to your ideal customer and they know and trust you whereas low traffic quality might be someone who just stumbles in from, you know, a random link or maybe it’s the first time they’re visiting your site and they’ve come through TechCrunch.
[10:52] Mike: Yes, TechCrunch is a great example of that just because – unless your target market is other startups, the people who are coming to your site from TechCrunch are – you really don’t have a relationship with them of any kind and the fact is that they’re probably only interested in seeing what you’re doing because they’re looking for news or for a distraction of some kind. I mean this is low quality traffic. It may be a lot of traffic but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s high quality traffic.
[11:19] I mean these people are – their intentions are not to buy whatever product it is. However, if you take a look at people who are coming in from AdWords or from SEO that you’ve done, those people are actually searching for the product that you’re offering and those people are going to convert at a much higher rate because the quality of that traffic is so much better than something like a TechCrunch or a Slashdot link.
[11:43] Rob: Yes. I regularly see a 2 to 10 X difference in book purchases at my book website, StartupBook.Net and depending on the source which obviously dictates the quality of the traffic, I can literally have 2 to 10 times more [0:12:00] sales from a particular link on Hacker News than maybe someone who – I don’t know, who’s coming just from a direct referral through Twitter.
[12:10] So the reason this is all important is because as an entrepreneur, you have to understand where to focus your energy when you’re driving traffic because obviously you could waste a lot of time and energy getting low quality traffic and it’s not going to convert well for you. So if people from an email list you have, as an example, if they will convert at 5 to 10 times the rate of someone who finds your site through Google, then you can spend 5 to 10 times the effort getting people on your mailing list and you can still have a breakeven ROI.
[12:38] Now I’m not saying that email lists always convert 5 to 10 times the rate of someone finding you through Google. That’s just an example but as a rule, if you do have a relationship with someone and they have subscribed to a mailing list that you have, you will definitely convert higher than, you know, someone finding your website for the first time.
[13:32] Now, a conversion doesn’t necessarily mean they bought your product. It means that they did what you wanted and expected them to do. We’re going to put a link in the show notes for you to walk through that process. It will only take a couple of minutes but it’s not something that’s easily, you know, talked about and it’s something that you guys would probably be able to follow a lot easier if you would just look at a video. So we’re going to provide that in the show notes for you.
[13:56] Rob: Yes, and the really cool part about goals and Google Analytics is you can set them up for anything. You can [0:14:00] set up a goal so that when someone subscribes to your mailing list, it gets tracked or when they actually buy something from you or when they hit your pricing page or whatever and then as you’re looking through your – all your traffic, you can narrow it down by referrer and so you can say, oh, everybody came from TechCrunch. This is how many signed up for the mailing list or bought something and people who came from Google through this search term, specifically this term. This is how many bought or converted to email so super powerful. If you’re not using goals in Google Analytics, you’re missing out on a major, major piece of functionality.
[14:35] With that said, we’re going to move on to what we’re calling the generalized hierarchy of traffic quality. It’s impossible to say which traffic is best for every website, right? But based on Mike and my experience with, you know, all of our businesses and the 10 years of doing this, we’ve noticed a definite pattern in traffic quality based on the source. So this is general. It may vary a little bit for you but overall, we’re going to list these nine sources of traffic in the order of what we deem as the quality.
[15:05] Mike: So the first one is a mailing list and assuming that you have a relationship with somebody and you get them on your mailing list and you’re able to continuously provide value for them, they are going to look very favorably upon you when you ask them to do something. And by favorably, I really mean if you will say, “Hey, go out and do this,” chances are much better that they’re going to do it than if you just spammed a whole ton of people and hope that they were going to go click on the links that you were trying to drive them to or if you recommended that they buy a product or that you recommended that they sign up for this ebook or buy this ebook.
[15:41] There are a lot of different things that you can use those mailing lists for but essentially you’re trying to ask people to do something and if they have that relationship with you, they know who you are, they’ve been regularly getting emails from you and they value those emails, that traffic quality is going to be extremely high.
[15:57] Rob: And the number two highest source of [0:16:00] traffic is your blog and that’s assuming you have a relationship. Now, this probably makes a lot of sense, right? If you have a mailing list, you tend to be in someone’s email inbox everyday. Your blog – it’s probably still going to send some targeted traffic but at least from my experience, I know that the reason my blog – often get my blog confused with other startup blogs they read, it’s not as – kind of as filtered as mailing list. They’re just more – you know, at least in our niche [0:16:24] [Phonetic], there are more startup blogs out there.
[16:26] So, you can definitely still have high conversion rates and you can get people interested in the products you have to offer through a blog but it’s not quite as high as a mailing list.
[16:35] Mike: One thing to point out is that as we’re going through these levels of traffic quality, when you’re looking at applying them to your business, just because we mentioned one doesn’t mean you have to do it. So for example, there are a lot of businesses and a lot of products where having a blog, for example, does not make a lot of sense. Some products can be extremely difficult to build a blog for and when you are not posting regularly, it just makes it look worse so you can actually hurt yourself and these things can reorder a little bit based on how well you do them.
[17:06] So the third best traffic source that we came up with was a referral link from a targeted website with a positive write-up about your product. And this can be as simple as having your product highlighted or sold through one of Amazon’s stores for example, if you have a book, and you’re selling it through Amazon or if you have distributors or there are other people who are affiliates and they have a sales process and they have – they allow people to come back and write reviews on your products.
[17:35] Those things can convert very, very well because people will follow those links and come back and check your site for more information because generally, the manufacturer or the developer of a product tends to have more information and more up-to-date information on any given product on their website than the distributors who are trying to sell it. So the traffic that comes in from those can actually convert pretty well.
[17:58] Rob: And the fourth best [0:18:00] traffic source that we found is direct traffic and now, we call it direct traffic because that’s how you will see it in most analytics packages. What direct traffic tends to be is when someone hears about you or your product on a podcast, even if it’s your own podcast. If they read about you in print media or in an online article where it’s not actually hyperlinked or if you get tweeted and someone is using TweetDeck and they click through then it will have no referrer. So direct traffic is, you know, anyone who’s doing any of those things as well as if the person is a repeat visitor and then they have typed your URL directly into the browser bar.
[18:37]So again, direct traffic versus a referral link so that was, you know, what Mike just said and what I’m talking about here. I mean they could – I could see them swapped and I have a couple of websites where these two are swapped but in general, direct traffic, we rank it right below a referral link.
[18:54] Mike: And the fifth traffic source is an organic search on either your product or business name. And this kind of goes a little bit with the direct traffic that Rob was talking about because if you have a product where the domain name for that matches what people commonly search for, it will convert much, much higher; and again, that’s just the nature of the beast, the way SEO works. But anyone who’s doing an organic search for your product name and it comes up on the first page of Google or Bing or whatever [0:19:24] [Indiscernible] web search engine is out there at this point, those things are going to convert very, very well.
[19:31] Rob: So the sixth level of traffic quality is Google AdWords and again, organic search in Google AdWords are very close and I have some AdWords campaigns that have outperformed organic search and vice versa so five and six can be easily swapped. The idea is that Google AdWords, it really is – you’re targeting someone at the point of need and so it ranks higher than, you know, a few of the other things we’ll be talking about in a minute but it’s definitely [0:20:00] lower than any kind of traffic where you have some kind of relationship with them.
[20:04] Mike: And the seventh traffic source is all other organic searches and this is a little different than number five whereas number five was a search on your product or business name. Number seven is all other searches that do not directly include your product name. So for example, if you’re selling Dot Net invoicing software and somebody searches for invoice software, they didn’t put Dot Net Invoice in it. They put in invoice software so that is a targeted search term that you probably do in SEO for when you’re trying to attract people to your website who are searching for that but it doesn’t match your product’s name. And there are a lot of variations around that where there are keywords that are related to your product that do not necessarily match your product name.
[20:48] Rob: And traffic source number eight is a referral link with no write-up or from a non-targeted website such as TechCrunch and this is in line with what we said earlier that it’s on the lower end of the spectrum to get a referral link where someone is not really endorsing you but they – maybe you just get a link kind of in the middle of a blog post somewhere or if it’s again a website that’s linking to you that’s sending traffic that isn’t necessarily within your demographic or has really never heard of you such as TechCrunch.
[21:16] Mike: And the ninth source of traffic is banners and other advertising. If you look around the internet, there’s advertising just about everywhere. Any website that you go to that’s news-related or products-related, virtually every single one of them has banners or ads of some kind there. And with the exception of something like Google AdWords where it’s embedded directly into the search engine, banners are more for bringing out awareness of a product and they don’t necessarily convert nearly as well as a lot of the others because they’re trying to bring awareness to the product and they’re not necessarily surfaced to the people as a result of something that they’re doing or something that they’re searching for. They generally get pushed out there for everybody. [0:22:00] It’s kind of similar to like a newspaper ad where that newspaper ad goes out to everybody whether they may have an interest in that product or not.
[22:09] So for example people are advertising for car sales in the newspaper. Well, some people buy cars but there are not a huge number of people who are reading the paper and looking for a car at the same time but there are enough that it makes it worth it to do that. So banner ads can certainly help out but again, it’s on the lowest end of the traffic quality spectrum.
[22:32] Rob: Yes, so that’s our list. I think the idea is that if one of these approaches applies to your niche, then do it. Start at the top and if you can possibly build a mailing list within your niche, then start with that and if you think that people would read a blog or that, you know, a blog will help with SEO so people are searching for your type of product online, then do a blog. That’s number two and then three is a referral link from a targeted website so that means you’re – you know, have relationships with bloggers or that you’re doing some PR to get people to write you up.
[23:03] And number four is direct traffic so that means, you know, either start a podcast, go interview on podcast, try to do something that goes viral on Twitter and then number five was organic search on your product name. Six is Google AdWords. Seven is all other organic searches. Eight was a referral link with no write-up and nine is banner and other advertising.
[23:27] Rob: Well, cool. Today’s question is from Felix Leong and he posted a comment on the blog and he said, “The TechZing vibe seeps into this episode when I listen to the fun banter between you two. Certainly fun to listen to. I’m interested to hear from both of you about your reading habits and approaches. Like when would you usually decide to stop reading a book? What criteria do you use to determine the next book to pick up? How many books do you read on a monthly basis, et cetera? This question came to me as Rob mentioned reading only the first half of Crossing the Chasm and I’m pretty sure Rob doesn’t read most books from cover to cover.”
[24:00] Mike: [0:24:00] He’s saying you’re a slacker.
[24:01] Rob: That is what he’s saying. He said …
[24:02] Mike: [laughs]
[24:04] Rob: Read that as Rob is a quitter. So no, I’m just kidding. Mike and I know Felix so thanks for the question, Felix.
[24:10] Mike: So there are a few different questions that are kind of embedded in here and I guess I’ll just start at the beginning. What are my reading habits and approaches? I think that when I find a book that kind of comes across my desk, that I’m very interested in, I generally take the time to read it and I’ll start reading it sooner rather than later. When do I decide to stop reading a book? I think that if I get to a point where I’m bored or I don’t feel like I’m learning anything new, I’ll start skimming. And if I start skimming and I’m still not picking anything up, I’ll start skimming faster and faster until I get to a point where I would just say, “The heck with it,” and I just close the thing. I don’t even bother reading the rest of it.
[24:51] I think for books that probably happens a lot more than it does for movies for me to be honest. I mean at most movies, I’ll watch them to the end just to see how bad they really are. I’ve probably only ever stopped watching I think two or three movies in my entire life but with books, I probably stopped reading quite a few more.
[25:08] Rob: Yes, my approach tends to be similar. In general, I skim a lot of books anyway. It’s very rare that I will read a book word for word. I just kind of start skimming from the beginning and I will tend to slow down if the book really grabs me and engages me. Now, I don’t have a high tolerance for books that are either repeating something I already know or really are taking a lot of time to get to the point. I think you find a lot especially with business books that it’s essentially something that could have been like 30 pages but they beefed it out to 250 or something because that’s how big a paperback has to be and that starts to piss me off pretty quick.
[25:44] If that’s the case, I will either go online and find, you know, an online synopsis of it or I’ll look for like an abridged audio version or I will just try to get the gist and ask someone about it. But I refuse to read 250 pages when there’s only, you know, 30 pages of content in it and that’s actually why [0:26:00] although I love Seth Godin and Malcolm Gladwell and those kinds of books, they kind of have one point and then they spend 300 pages showing examples of that point and I don’t tend to get a better understanding of it by reading all 300 pages. So I will either skim through it or like I said, you can read, you know, a one-page synopsis of it and really get the gist of what they’re saying although maybe without all the anecdotes surrounding it.
[26:26] Now, lately I’ve actually moved to doing audio books which just works much better with my life because I have more time where I’m able to listen to audio stuff and I’ve chewed through a lot of books. I’ve stopped listening to several. There’s one called Talent is Overrated and it’s about how – it’s not about talent. It’s about practice and about two chapters into it, I realize, wait, this is very similar to like discovering your strengths and StrengthsFinder 2.0 and I skipped into a few chapters more and it was just – I don’t know. It wasn’t anything new that I hadn’t heard so I ditched that one pretty quickly.
[26:59] The other book that I was really disappointed in lately was Reality Check which is a Guy Kawasaki book and it kind of collects 50, 70 of his blog posts and I had heard so many positive things about it. Typically, when I hear positive things, I go on to Amazon and I look to see if other people think so as well and if they’re – I read the negative reviews obviously because I’m really trying to weed things out. I certainly don’t need – I don’t think any of us need more books in our queue. We actually need less.
[27:23] This one just got so many positive reviews from everyone but, you know, when I get into it, it just – it felt super general and I wasn’t taking any – I call them action notes. I wasn’t taking any notes of anything that I can actually implement and if I don’t do that, I know that I’m pretty much going to forget everything, you know, within a couple of weeks anyway.
[27:40] Mike: I think we talked about this before. You read Derek Sivers new book though, right?
[27:44] Rob: Yes. Well, I listened to it on audio. It was like 90 minutes and I’m actually listening to it a second time. I just enjoyed it. It’s a quick listen and there were some action notes towards the end that I didn’t take that I remember making a note of. Like I need to come back and listen to this. So yes, I’m actually in the middle of it right now.
[28:00] Mike: [0:28:00] So you made an action note to say to come back and take an action note?
[28:04] Rob: Yes, exactly. Well, I remember – I was like making dinner at the time and I want to stop and make notes and I knew it was a short book that I would enjoy listening to again.
[28:11] Mike: Got it.
[28:11] Rob: So …
[28:12] Mike: Do you listen to a lot of books on a monthly basis? I mean I certainly don’t. I know that.
[28:16]Rob: No, I do. I actually signed up for the Audible monthly subscription and I think it’s like 15 bucks a month and you get two books and the books typically that I’m buying are like $25, $30 audio books. And so, it’s quite a deal and actually my wife and I split it so she gets one and I get one but I found pretty quickly as soon as I started listening, I just turn through them and – because I listen to this – you can listen to it double time like the podcast and so I can take, you know, a 12-hour book, an audio book and get through it in six hours and retain everything as if it was – you know, I listened to it at normal speed.
[28:50] I mean that’s only six hours so if I go on, you know, one drive down to LA, there and back, that’s a book and so I found that I’m buying at least three or four other books each month. It has basically replaced – anytime I hear a recommendation for a book now, I go to Audible first and I look for it in audio and then if it’s not there, then I go to Amazon and, you know, look for it on Kindle and if it’s not there, I’m probably not going to buy it. I really am not going to buy anymore paper books, I’ve decided, unless it’s a unique circumstance.
[29:17] Mike: Yes, that just seems like a lot of time to be spending reading books so I just – I don’t even have that time. I understand a drive down to LA and back for you is three hours but it just seems to me like – I don’t find that I’m driving in that sort of a stretch where I want to listen to a book.
[29:34] Rob: Yes. Well, I mean I’ve – gosh, I was working on the house this weekend, as an example. I was out working on it. We have a koi pond and I was trying to fix a crack and I spent about two or three hours with tools and I just had the one earbud in the whole time. I was listening there.
[29:47] While I cook dinner every night, I have it in. I just have it on the iPod dock and that will be – I don’t know. I’ll get – you know, again, it’s maybe – maybe it only takes me 20 to 30 minutes to cook dinner but at double speed, you’re getting through almost an hour of a book. [0:30:00] And when I run errands, I’ll go run out to the store or run to pick the kids up. It may only be – you know, again, it’s a 20, 30-minute roundtrip but again, the whole time, I have one earbud in. So I’ll get three hours of audio, listening to them on a trip to Costco.
[30:14] Yes, it’s that kind of stuff. I mean yes, it’s not necessarily something I would recommend for everyone but I find that like ebb and flow where I really want to consume a lot at some points and then other points, I just want to kind of create more; and I’ve been in this period of really getting a lot of new ideas in my head and so this has been very helpful for that.
[30:31] Mike: Got it. Yes, I’m at the complete opposite end of the spectrum right now where I’m in create mode as opposed to consume so …
[30:37] Rob: Yes, yes. No, that makes sense. So, Felix also asked, “What criteria do you use to determine the next book to pick up?” And I think I mentioned a little bit about it, how I did it already but basically it’s almost all recommendations. Someone will mention it on a podcast or a blog or I’ll just hear about it, you know, maybe in-person and what I always do, my steps are always go to Amazon. Look at the reviews and I try to read the bad reviews and the good ones and get an idea of whether I’m going to invest the time because obviously it’s a big time commitment.
[31:08] Whether you’re doing audio or reading the thing, it’s a lot of hours of your life. So, I want to be sure that the thing is going to be a unique perspective, that it’s not going to be something I’ve heard 10 times before. And then I will typically, like I said, go to Audible and try to add it there or put it on my wish list for Amazon and get to it eventually.
[31:26] Mike: Yes, I do something similar where I will look at the reviews on Amazon but, you know, I just hear about them from different places or I’ll see them mentioned at a conference or something like that and I’ll take a look at it. Maybe if there’s a synopsis available, kind of give me an idea of what it’s about and if it sounds interesting or if it sounds applicable to anything that I’m doing or going to be doing in the near future, then, you know, I’ll try and pick it up and give it a shot. But like I said before, I mean with movies, I’ll give them a lot of benefit of the doubt and just to be able to say how bad it was in the future but books, I don’t do that [0:32:00] as much because – I don’t know. Most of the people I talk to don’t read so – or at least they don’t read the same things I do.
[32:06] Rob: So there’s actually a couple of books I would recommend to people. I know this is not what Felix asked but I listen to The Pixar Touch and it’s the story of Pixar. It’s really good as well as the book Fascinate by Sally Hogshead. I’ve listened to those in the past couple of months.
[32:19] Fascinate is a really good book for, you know, entrepreneurs because it talks about how to position your product essentially and then the other one I think I’ve talked about before is called In the Plex and it’s by Steven Levy and he spent a bunch of time at Google.
[32:31] So those are kind of three recent recommendations and actually if you like – not a ton of applicable stuff for me but it was a great story is Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh, the founder of Zappos. Unbelievable what he went through to get Zappos going. He basically had made like 30 million bucks from his first company and over time, he invested every penny back into Zappos to keep it going.
[32:52] He kind of – says he sold all his real estate. Like he had nothing and if Zappos went under, he would have been broke again. It was – but he’s an entrepreneur, you know, and he has a confidence that he can turn it around and build it up again. So it’s a cool story. Like I said, I didn’t take any action items away from it but that one was more like entertainment.
[33:11] Rob: Well, thanks Felix for the question. We really appreciate you writing in and as Mike does the outro here, you can figure out if you have questions for us. We can answer on a future podcast or may even devote a whole episode to them.
[33:23] Mike: So if you do have a question or comment, you can call it into our voicemail number at 1-888-801-9690 or you can email it in MP3 or text format to Questions@StartupsfortheRestofUs.com.
[33:35] Our theme music is an excerpt from “We’re Outta Control” by MoOt, used under Creative Commons and if you enjoyed this podcast, please consider writing a review in iTunes by searching for “startups”. You can subscribe to this podcast in iTunes or via RSS at StartupsfortheRestofUs.com. Full transcript as always is available at our website, StartupsfortheRestofUs.com. Thank for your listening and we’ll see you next time. [0:33:56]