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EPISODE 2 – Nicholas Rhodes, Founder of OutSnapped.
Nicholas went from taking photos at parties to shooting for major publications like Rolling Stone and A list celebrities.
He built one of the biggest photo booth experience companies in NYC and then pivoted to virtual events after COVID.
Nicholas even has some super cool stories like how Lady Gaga used a MySpace marketing hack to get his attention before she was famous!
How did he turn his passion into a big business?
How did he pivot after COVID shut down events?
Listen to find out!
Check out Nick’s new course! – How To Create & Sell Virtual Booths
Show notes of all resources mentioned in the episode are below the podcast player.
What’d you think of this conversation? Leave a comment below!
Show Notes:Click here for the raw, unedited transcript:
This transcript was automatically generated using Descript.
Ismail: Welcome to the bound to be rich podcast, where I attempt to reverse engineer people who seem to be successful, no matter the circumstances, so that you can apply those lessons to your life. I’m your host is Mel Hammett. In this episode, we are joined by Nicholas Rhode. The founder of outs snapped a major photo booth company in New York city.
Nicholas started snapping photos at parties, and somehow translated that into shooting for major publications like rolling stone magazine and big name celebrities. We even get into some cool anecdotes about how lady Gaga and Steve AKI were able to get Nick’s attention before they were famous. Lady Gaga in particular had some very impressive marketing tactics.
Nick is now the king of virtual and having incredible success by pivoting into virtual booths. I don’t think there’s anyone in the world that has spent more time personally pitching virtual booths to big brands than Nick. We even discuss a recent example of working with Netflix as an event company.
How did he manage to do better than last year in a world with no in person events? What has he learned from his journey and from song to big brands? Let’s dive in
Nicholas. Thanks for joining us. Welcome to the
Nicholas: show. My pleasure. Thanks for having me pretty excited that you started this up.
Ismail: Yeah. Appreciate your support as always
[00:01:22] Origin of Outsnapped.
Ismail: for people who don’t know the story behind outs SnapEd and how it began. Can you tell us, like, how’d you get into the event industry? What were you doing before outs?
Nicholas: Yeah. So for about a decade before launching outs snap, actually closer to 15 years, I ran a company out of New York city, which was called Nikki digital.com. And it started initially as taking photos of nightlife and events and eventually became a full-fledged event production company. So a lot of the tools that we actually use for outs, snap, we built and designed to create marketing opportunities, to sell tickets, to future events for.
My company, Nikki digital and also our client. And,
Ismail: I, I think this was in the early days of the blogging internet online stuff, you were kind of a trailblazer in New York city for the event scene. Is that right where you were kind of humble about, oh, you’re taking pictures at events, but you were doing some big ones with celebrities.
Is there any ones that you’d car to
Nicholas: share? Well, I, there countless celebrities, but I think what was more interesting is just the time, you know, if you think back to the early two thousands, it was very difficult to take a photo and put it on the internet. And as a result of being able to do that, it opened up a lot of doors.
So I was able to go to an event, take photos and post them on the internet before other people were able to access photos. You know, we, we take it for granted right now because every single person has a really good camera in their pocket all the time with an iPhone or an Android. But back then, literally you had to take photos on film, develop them, scan them, and then upload them.
It was a very long process, like. For those of you are old enough to remember, like friends are in my space days could remember how hard it was to put a photo up there. Yeah, for sure. So we really cut our teeth on that. And like I said, I, I loved music and there’s just not enough time to do everything. So photography was actually supposed to be my hobby at the time that I launched Nikki digital.
It was just a personal blog. And I was working full time as an art director in print design at magazines. Believe it or not. I worked at a bunch of titles ranging from radar magazine to us weekly, a rolling stone and kind of bounced around. And it was a really interesting time, the early two thousands, because I was fresh outta college and really excited to work in print.
And pretty much everyone else was really excited about the internet. Not that I wasn’t excited about the internet cause I was doing it on my own time, but I had just gone through four years of school at Emerson with a media and a major that they were at the time calling new media, which was essentially internet 1 0 1 where we specialized in putting red text on black background.
Essentially, that’s like an old internet joke for those of you who remember. Yeah, by the time I graduated, I was so sick of looking for missing semicolons and code that I really wanted to take my learnings and do editorial design, which if you look at the way web design has really gone in terms of, you know, newspapers like New York times is a fantastic example of how editorial design and UX really are very similar to printed media.
So I think that that’s, that was an interesting thing for me because I saw the parallels back then and I was really excited to work in a static environment where I was taking my learnings from designing for the internet and actually putting them on paper.
[00:04:30] Seeing opportunity
Nicholas: You mentioned that it was really cumbersome to put those images online back then.
Ismail: Yep. What, what made you do that then? What, what, what opportunity did you see to make you say, Hey, I’m gonna take all this time scanning and uploading these.
Nicholas: Well, the thing that made it possible for me was I had a digital camera at that. So I, you know, I had gone to where I was a double major in new media and photography and the photography department there because of my major allowed me to do a lot of digital digital work.
So I did a lot of dark room time, but I also really dabbled with early you know, inkjet printing, we say printing and also Photoshop stuff. So I was shooting at that point either on film or digital or creating graphics in a digital environment and then bringing them into the dark room. So really kind of mixing the two worlds.
So I was building essentially negatives in Photoshop, exporting them on, printing them on clear materials. And then I don’t wanna say Dockering, but enhancing the photos with those grayscale images that I was printing. So there was a lot of like back and forth for me at that point. I would share some of the work, but it’s pretty embarrassing to go back and look at it 20 some odd years later.
But nonetheless, it really allowed me to sort of have one foot in both worlds. And I think that’s something that’s really helped me moving forward is really understanding how different mediums and different types of tech and people can all kind of work together. Right. So it’s like, how do you figure out the tool that’s right.
For this particular thing. And I think that that’s, that’s something that’s always made me really. I don’t wanna use the word successful, but lucky to be able to problem. Well, that’s
Ismail: something that I’d love to have you expand on is from what I know of your story, you seem to follow your passions, right? So you’re, you were operating at the intersection of photography, technology and music.
And I assume that’s because you were passionate about those things, right? But one thing people really struggle with when you speak to everyone, that’s aspiring to do something that they have a passion, let’s say, as a photographer, they love doing it. It’s their hobby and converting that into income or a business or something is very difficult.
[00:06:33] From Avocation to Vocation
Ismail: So from your experience, do you have any advice on how to like take your passion and earn a living from it? Like even with the, with the blog and Mickey digital not a lot of people have figured out how to earn a living on blogs back then.
Nicholas: Yeah. And this is something you and I have talked a lot about this year, especially is just trying to figure it out, you know?
And I think that goes back to what I was just saying about it’s really like people think of being creative as having like an easel and paints and painting a beautiful portrait for landscape. But I really think of creativity as, as problem solving. And that’s why I think like a lot of, a lot of people who are really good at science or math or any real academia are also really good at problem solving as well.
And therefore are often more creative then people give them credit for like, if you think about the way we’ve developed really anything, it it’s like problem solving. Right? So you, you have a goal that you want to get to. And like, sometimes the goal is as simple as like, I need to figure out how to pay rent this month.
Right. And something I always joke about is like, I’m never picking up the phone to call out unless they can’t pay. And then I pick up the phone and I pay rent, right? Like that’s that’s problem solving. So with Nikki digital, what I was initially solving for was being a young 20 something in New York city who had an entry level job who was paying for an apartment and really loved music, but couldn’t afford to go out six or seven nights a week.
Right? So the camera for me was a way to essentially get free tickets and free entre into these events. And then it wasn’t really until 2000. And eight-ish when I, I had made some money off of it, but it wasn’t until 2000. Eight-ish when the magazine that I was, the art director of went belly up pretty unexpectedly.
And I had to figure out how to make a living and what was different this time, I had been at a few startup magazines that had failed before, but what was different this time was that the economic crisis had just set in and everybody was trying to figure out how to lay people off. So there was no way to get a job.
And literally, I always joke that in the magazine, the print media world, they like still have not started hiring our. So the teams went from like a magazine team at a small magazine was 30, 40 people minimum. And now they’re down to like, you know, 10 people making magazines pretty crazy. So what I had to to do in two was figure out how to make rent.
So I figured out how to monetize what had become my hobby. And at that time there was no line item for paying photographers in nightlight, you know, in talking to the managers, in the clubs who were really on the ground with me, seeing that I was bringing people to the events because of the photography.
I was able to work out deals on headcounts. So I got paid per person who showed up and kind of accidentally became a nightclub for
Ismail: that’s the definition of entrepreneur. But I’m, I’m curious, like you just, you, you have your passion, you’re at these events, right. And you’re trying to figure out how do I make money from doing this?
[00:09:24] Your business approach
Ismail: Did you approach those managers or did they ask you, Hey, you’re bringing people maybe we should work out a deal. How did that start?
Nicholas: You know, Those were nights many, many years ago that were often hazy. And I don’t don’t recall which came first, the chicken or the egg. But I do imagine that like I just said, I hate picking up the phone it’s it is one of the hardest things for me to do, to pick up the phone and ask for work.
But when you need to, you need to, and I, so I imagine it was probably me being like, Hey, I just got laid off. If you want me to keep bringing people to your club, we, we need to figure this out. And I think actually now that I’m thinking about it, I think that maybe I had started getting offers from other clubs that I wasn’t wanting to be at.
And I think I was able to go back and say like, Hey, this is where I wanna be on a Friday night, but this other club is offering me. And, and
[00:10:11] Pivot into Photo Booth company
Ismail: how did this all pivot into a photo booth company? Good
Nicholas: question. So, similarly, as you get older, you tend to need more money, like nicer furniture or better food, et cetera.
And as a result, You need to figure out how to make more money. And so, like I had said a minute ago, there was really no line item for what I was doing and I didn’t wanna be getting paid on a headcount because when you’re getting paid on a headcount, you either have to lie to people in Thomas. It’s gonna be amazing night, or you need to have a team that’s also doing their job to create something that’s easier to sell.
Right? So like in New York city, there’s, this is not an exaggeration probably. Well now during COVID, there’s probably not, but there are thousands and thousands of opportunities for every single person to do every moment of the day in new. So to be able to get someone to go to a specific location it has to be based on the quality of the experience, right?
So if you’re working with a team that’s producing good quality experiences and this, you know, obviously parlays into experiential work and marketing as well, the better the experience, the more that people wanna participate. So what I was starting to realize was that some of the clubs that I was working with were not providing the types of entertainment that I needed.
To bring people to those events without essentially lying. And as you know, in sales, if you sell something that doesn’t exist, the greatest modern example of this is the Fyre festival. If you sell something that doesn’t exist, people don’t buy it again. Right. So when you’re working in the entertainment industry, if you’re trying to get people to, to come and experience something with you, that experience has to be worth it.
So what I realized was that I could start producing events to make sure that they were worth attending. And then I would also be the one controlling the budget. So that way I was no longer getting paid on a head count overall, I guess I was because I was getting paid on the success of the event, but then I was actually making money in my head more on my passion versus me saying, okay, I just need to get 20 people on the door tonight.
Like be, and, and that was not a way I liked working. And so once I started creating events and partnering with the nightclubs that I was working with on a larger level to create the experiences, I was able to book talent from around the world. And you also have to remember, like this, this stuff was very, I don’t wanna say easy, but it was easier back then because the internet was a smaller place.
And realizing that like my, what I realized was that the internet has millions of these celebrities that literally no one knows about. So it’s like a very different world than, than celebrity predating the internet. And then early internet celebrity. I ended up being kind of what they called before influencers personal brand.
So any musician who was coming through New York city really wanted to meet me and do things with maybe cuz I was getting on average, like 200,000 pages a day on Nikki digital and really coming from the major market cities like New York, LA Milan, Rome, Paris, like the places where people went for vibrant nightlife experiences.
And so it was also a very unique time in the music world where indie music. Which I really love and dance music, which I also really love converged. And we got this genre, which was, as you can guess, called indie dance, but it was something that I really liked. And it also happened to be a lot of people in my age bracket were very active on the internet.
So we had lots of communities on the internet where we got to know each other and it would open up these amazing doors. Like I would go to Helsinki and just post a message on this, you know, message board saying, Hey, I’m going to Helsinki. Does anyone know anyone there that I should meet? And then all of a sudden, my entire week in Helsinki was taking care of because the people who were doing the equivalent in Helsinki of what I was doing in New York would plan the week for me taking me to all the best night clubs taking the best concerts, introduced me to the most talented artists.
And it was really amazing. It was this community that existed on the internet and then back into real life.
Ismail: So a couple questions based on what you just said before we dive into out snap that I, I have to bring up You mentioned the personal brand, right. And for people who don’t know, you have a really cool mustache, right.
[00:14:21] Building a Personal brand
Ismail: Can you talk a little bit about how to successfully build a personal brand? Even for someone like me, who’s trying to build a podcast or whatever, how in this day and age where everyone’s really interested in doing stuff online, do you recommend building a personal brand? Yeah,
Nicholas: I think, I think there’s a major difference now than then.
And that’s kind of what I was talking about with like the idea of a micro celebrity, having millions of followers versus then a macro celebrity on the internet. So when like myself having like a hundred thousand followers, right. Like I have about 30,000 followers on Instagram, which right now is like hub guest.
But back then, that was huge. Right. And so now you’re seeing a monkey opening presence having millions of followers and that’s content that someone might interact with for a day or two days and come back to and send it around like mem style. But. That person can’t move a needle more likely than not like if that monkey were to take up a cause and be like monkeys for, you know, climate science, everyone would be like, cool, monkey, go back opening presents.
Right. Like we’re here just to see the thing, the one thing that you do. And sorry to pick on this monkey. I gotta look up its name because it really is, it is worth 30 minutes of your time, but not more, but I’ll put a link in the show notes
Nicholas: you use that me . But what I’m saying is like, back then, as someone who had this kind of like, it was a community.
So like, I wasn’t, I wouldn’t call it celebrity. It was like a tightknit community that, because there was enough people involved in it, you really could move the, the needle. Right? So it’s like any three or four of these people pairing up to do something. Like, for instance, my trip to Helsinki, I get there and this network puts together this thing for me to do right.
And because the network stands for me, then everyone in their network is excited to come to a party, have their photos taken by a photographer from New York. And then that opens up a whole new network for me because now I have people in Helsinki, checking out my website on a more regular basis. Just like if someone ha like myself or a DJ had come from Helsinki from New York and actually like I’m harping on Helsinki.
Cuz I just, I did go there one time and had this absolutely amazing trip and this very unique moment that I’ll tell you about, we may have talked about this before, but obviously not on the podcast. I was in the DJ booth and, and one of the DJs or promoters asked me if I was having a good time. And I was like, yeah, it’s, I’m having a great time.
I was like, I’m just really surprised how much this is like Europe, you know? And that was when I started to realize that the internet had really started to make the communities grow internationally. So we used to, as a kid, when I went to Europe, You would go and the fashion would be different from city to city and definitely different than America.
Right? And now you go almost anywhere in the world. I’ve been post the internet post 2010 and everyone has the same fashion trends. Everyone has the same look and feel, people are excited about the same music because there’s no real boundaries, like, which is good and bad. But so I was in this DJ booth and I made that comment and the DJ was like, yeah, well, I mean, of course, but like, you have to realize that the DJ that’s playing this song right now is from Helsinki and this is his song.
And I was like, oh wait, like we’re doing the same thing because this song was actually really big in New York too. You know? So like we’re, co-opting the things that we’re picking up from around the world then. So in terms of that, this is sort of like a roundabout way of saying like when I was doing it, all you really had to do was like follow the, if you build it, they will come model because the internet was so small.
Right. So it’s. I was able to create a community because I was one of the few people who could publish on the internet.
Ismail: Well, the whole system’s kind of like hardwired to enable sharing and, and social media, like all the infrastructure kind of changed to enable the, the globalization of things online.
So that made it a lot easier. Sure.
Nicholas: And I, I, well, and going back to the monkey and current times, and like what you’re asking, I think that it’s a lot easier now to get known for one thing on the internet. So like, if your thing is like, when you should buy and sell a certain type of stock or if you should, you know, like how to pivot, I think those are the things people will tune in.
And it’s like, you look at someone like Gary V who really can talk about anything, but all he’s really saying is like, get up and do it stop complaining. Right. And that’s that same message over and over and over and over again. And like hard work begets more work. Like that’s his message. And he can sugar coat it, candy coat it, tell it any different way, write a different book about it.
But that’s the message from the beginning to the end. Right. So if Gary were to start talking about something else, like, Hey, I’m Gary. I, yeah. I no longer care about your ability to get the job done. Now I wanna like save the earth. Everyone’s gonna be like, yeah, not for me. Who’s the next guy who can like, gimme my motivat additional speech in the morning.
Ismail: Why, why do you
Nicholas: still have the mustache? Okay. So the mustache, the reason the mustache came about was initially back in 2000, and I think 2007, I was out one night and there was a poster of a guy from the circus with a big ringleader mustache. And I, they looked at the woman I was dating at the time and I was like, wouldn’t it be funny if I grew that must.
And she was like, it would absolutely not be funny if you grew that . And then, and that’s when we did it and then fast forward, about three months later, we had this very, like, I don’t think you can do the kind of breakup we had as a, as true adults. We had this miscommunication breakup. Where she had thought I had done something, I hadn’t done the thing that she thought I was, and we couldn’t communicate about it because every time I was like, I don’t know what you’re talking about.
She was like, I can’t believe you’re denying, knowing what I’m talking about. And we ended up having this very confusing breakup. And as a result, I was like, I’m gonna grow that mustache just to show her how, how heartbroken I am that we broke up and later found out six months later, that the thing that was the wedge between us was actually a devious person who had lied about something that wasn’t true and was horrible.
So it really seemed like I was pretending that I didn’t know what I was talking. So that’s how the mustache got there. But what I realized was that people started noticing me by the mustache and especially nightclub bouncers. So if I was showing up at a nightclub and didn’t wanna wait in line, they would recognize me.
You know, they’d be like, Hey mustache, why are you waiting in line? They didn’t like, they didn’t know my name. They just knew I worked in the night club. And you know, with something like this on your face, people make fun of you, but then you also have the pros of, Hey mustache, I’m making fun of you, but cut the entire line.
And you’re like, okay, well that seems like a good deal. And then I also started realizing that people in the nightclubs were really recognizing who I was. And that’s when I started branding our stickers and our merch and our website around essentially my face, which at the time seemed like an amazing idea because I wanted people to recognize me to open those doors, but ultimately led to the reason why digital itself couldn’t scale.
Cause it was a brand built around, built around me, which as a young person who needed those ego boosts made a lot of sense. But as I started to get older and wanted to run more of a business, as opposed to being more of a, a kid in the nightclubs, having a good time and also earning a living I couldn’t scale because every time I sent someone else out.
We like, wait, why isn’t Nick here? Where’s where’s mustache. Yeah, exactly. Where’s the guy with the mustache.
Ismail: I mean, I, I, I think there are pros and cons to building a business on a personal brand and doing it something that’s not as personal. So everyone’s gotta decide what they wanna do for themselves.
There are probably some says where it makes sense somewhere it doesn’t. But, and this is probably a vain question, but I feel like people are so curious about it. So I’ll just ask, yeah.
[00:22:05] Working with celebrities.
Ismail: What, what is it like working with all these mega celebrities? And I think that a couple names that I know, like lady Gaga, a Yoki and I’m sure there’s plenty more, what’s it like working with them?
Is there any cool story anecdote you can share and how do you, how do you get to work with them?
Nicholas: Celebrity is a weird thing. And with the, the group that you listed just now it, you have to remember. That there was a time when I was more famous than those people. And that sounds like an asshole thing to say, but I’m not like I was not like an A-list celebrity.
I was just a person in New York city who was an important connector. And these people came to New York city and wanted something. They wanted fame. Right.
Ismail: Right. And, and lady Gaga started her career in, in small clubs in the city. For those who don’t know. Yeah. Lady
Nicholas: Gaga started her career in a bar. That’s like two blocks from where I live.
And lady Gaga. There’s a whole really interesting story about lady Gaga too, that I can get in if we have time. But what it’s like working with those people is the ones that are really awesome. Don’t forget that you help them their start and they check in on you from time to time. The other ones do not do that.
And it, you know, it’s like you’ll bump into someone who you spent a million days with and you’ll bump into in another city and they cannot place you. I’ve had a lot of friends go from being. Minor, you know, celebrities here in New York city to being very, very large musician traveling act. And it, it’s very interesting to see how fame and celebrity pays a tool on people.
And, and a lot of it, it’s not really, it’s a lot of people think it’s ego and there’s definitely part of that. Like in order to become a celebrity, you really need to have that thing. That’s like the willing to step on other people to make sure you are the best at what you do. And to be a celebrity, you’re essentially just an entertainer.
The time you leave your apartment to the time you come back in, right? You have to smile at everyone on the street. And there are some celebrities who stay out of the limelight, but for the most part, you have to be prepared to present in that way all the time. And it that’s really tiring, you know, as someone who did what I did and was not an international celebrity or was not a celebrity outside of New York city, but I couldn’t walk around the streets of New York city without.
Having to have conversations with people, whether it’s bar owners or club owners, or just someone on the street who wants to know what the next cool thing was, it’s really tiring to always be turned on. And that was one of the things ultimately that made me want to get away from what I was doing when I didn’t wanna be out six nights a week, keeping up the line of business.
I didn’t wanna keep up that smile. You know, I wanted to be able to have a, a grumpy day. How did
Ismail: you get to work with people like that?
Nicholas: Well, so at, at first it was that people were coming to New York. Like for instance, Steve AKI people have differing opinions on Steve. Steve is one of the hardest working people that I’ve ever met in my life.
And he approached DJing and the nightlife world as a real business person. And he made investments in himself and his career early on, based on what he thought he had to do to become national DJ name now international. Right? One of the biggest names in the game, and one of the things he would do. He would fly himself to different cities.
He obviously had the means to do so if he would fly himself to different cities and say, Hey, I see you have a really amazing party. I would like to play your party. You don’t have to pay me. I’m gonna fly myself there. But your party looks amazing. Like let’s do it. And I would, you know, we would say like, sure, guy from LA, like what can you send us some music so we can check it out first.
You know? And Steve came to New York and like one of the earliest parties he played was my birthday party one year. And we had an amazing time. And you know, now I don’t, I have no idea how many hundreds of thousands of dollars he gets to play the nightclubs in Vegas, et cetera. But Steve is, he is one of the nicest dudes who always has time for his fans.
And, you know, it’s it. But I, I think people forget how, how tiring it is. Like a lot, most people, when they travel, they get on an airplane to go to a place they’re excited to be. And when you start in that world, like I was touring with musicians and also doing a lot of music festival tours. And one year I think I did 27 music festivals, which puts me out of the, out of my home for essentially half of a year.
And the first few weeks are amazing. Right. And then you realize that you’re getting on the plane, do a thing that you just did the last weekend. And it’s just sort of this like rinse and repeat cycle. So at the beginning, it’s really exciting. It’s like going to sleepaway camp with your best friends, you know, you like get to this festival, you bump into Steve or another person.
You have some beers, you hang out, you talk about the week. And then by the end of the year, it’s like you get off the plane, you try and sleep a little bit. You go to the festival, you stay up working, try and sleep a little bit. You go to the festival and it’s just this like kind of vicious cycle. So what I always joke about is when people have.
Day dreams and fantasies, no one ever tells you about the nightmare, parts of them that you’re not supposed to wish wish in. So it’s like, if you ever want to wish for these things, it’s like, I would like to be a famous musician who has, you know, it’s 36 hours in the day. So I’m always well slept. You know, it’s like, those are the things, you know, or like constantly being, you know, running from the gig to the airport.
It’s, it’s not a very, it’s not as cool a lifestyle. It’s amazing. It still
Ismail: must have been, like,
[00:27:25] Making money strategy
Ismail: I would’ve found it fascinating to be around people before they made it like huge and see what lessons I could take from it. Like you said, Yoki was really investing in himself for the long term. He wasn’t really worried about making money short term or maximizing his money short term.
He’s just trying to get better and better. And that’s how, I guess people get to the level where they’re making hundreds of thousands of dollars per gig. You do some for free in the beginning to up your game, right? Ye
Nicholas: yes and no. I think he is a unique case and I mean, his old, his original DJ name was kid millionaire.
And that kind of like puts it in context, right? So like everyone knows if you have money, you can make money. I, I do, I do like to make a distinction with Steve, you though, because he was really smart and I don’t wanna say narrow minded. He just had his mind, like his eye on the goal. And he executed a plan versus just like being a rich kid, you know, and looking at some, some other people in the world, like it’s not about, I don’t think anyone should work for free to get somewhere, but it, you do have to cut your teeth.
Right? Like one of my absolute best friends was a partner of mine in many events. So I worked with him for 10 years before he started getting national notoriety. He had always been a DJ’s DJ, but it wasn’t until just like, sort of, you know, the time was right for him. And now he’s a national national name and his partner, you know, they DJ the best festivals.
They’re one of the best selling artists, but literally 10 years of just slogging it out. And my biggest, I always complain to him because he’s a true DJ in the sense that he can read a room like a, a really good wedding. DJ can read a room and play the music that the room wants to hear. Right. And back in nightclubs, it used to be like that the DJ would not be the center of attention.
And the DJ would look at the room and figure out two things. One how to make the room dance, and two, how to make the room by drink. Right? And that’s why you have the arc and flow of a night. Cause a lot of the times the, the DJs were working for the promoter and the promoter was the one with the night club connection.
And the promoter made money based off of how the bar it, right? So the DJ had to keep the, the crowd happy and also his boss. Happy. You have to know which side your bread is buttered. And now when you go and see a show, these the it’s more about a hard ticket versus Bart. So the bar now will spend 50,000 plus on a DJ, make their money back on, sorry, not the bar.
That’s more of a larger club. We’ll spend that money on the DJ and make their money back on the bottle service and the, the bar service, right? They’re not necessarily cutting out those percentages anymore. And the people are buying the ticket, which pays for the talent to come in. And the talent is there based on whatever fam or notoriety that they have.
So the crowd that comes wants to hear them play a step. That’s more akin to going seeing a band play. So now DJs will go and play an hour of their music, kind of from start to finish versus playing to the crowd. The crowd is there for the DJ. So it’s become a very different paradigm in, in the us of. Role of the disc jock, the DJ
Ismail: since you mentioned it,
[00:30:34] Story of Lady Gaga.
Ismail: I have to ask, otherwise people will yell at me at the comments.
It’s the lady Gaga story. Okay. So what
Nicholas: do you wanna know about lady Gaga? well, you
Ismail: mentioned that you had a cool story earlier
Nicholas: about her. Oh yeah. So lady Gaga, the way I found out about lady Gaga was that if this, for those of you who are on original MySpace, there used to be what was called the top eight, which eventually became the top 15.
But when it was still the top eight, it was the eight people that you were friends with, who had been on MySpace. The longest, one of the biggest changes MySpace ever made was allowing you to pick who was in your top eight. And it sort of became this like micro networking. So in my topic, I would put my best friends, also my closest nightlife colleague.
And that’s how we ran our businesses out of the message boards on MySpace. I would post that I was gonna be at XYZ nightclub tonight. So one day I had, at that point, all of the advertising on Nikki digital was run through the site called ad role. If I remember correctly and then Google ad sense was pretty new and it was a way to essentially have Google sell the advertising on your pages.
And now we see it all the time. You go to a website and in the blink of an eye, there’s all these micro conversions and micro biddings on buying the time in front of your eye, based on your demographic information. This was predated that so anyone could buy direct on a website that was on any of these platforms.
So all of a sudden, one day, all of the ad space on my website was bought by this lady Gaga person. And I was like, that is cool. I don’t know who this person is. And then the next day it was all lady Gaga stuff. And then the day after that, it was all lady Gaga stuff. And that’s when I started to realize it wasn’t necessarily an accident.
And then I went to. To figure out who she was. And back then you searched my space as opposed to Google, to find out about who people were. And I was like, huh, lady Gaga. And I was in her top eight and I was like, that’s very strange, who is lady Gaga? And then it turned out that it was this girl, Stephanie, that we did know from the nightlife world.
But the reality was they, once she started working with a major label, that was a big part of their play. And this is back in, I don’t know, I’d have to look, but probably 2008 or nine, they were already playing the social media card in this very strategic chess way. Right. So someone would see this lady Gaga thing go to her profile and be like, oh, she’s really good friends with Nick.
I should check her out. I had no idea who she was. Wow. That,
Ismail: that, that is, but that wasn’t necessarily her doing it was the labels. It, it may,
Nicholas: may, it may have been both. Cause you know, I, I don’t know, but it was smart, you know, and it, it definitely helped. And it launched her in a way that. Gave her cred from the very beginning.
Ismail: Wow. That’s, that’s really cool. That’s a sneaky ninja gorilla marketing tactic. A lot of lessons to be taken from that. That’s really interesting. I didn’t know that story.
Nicholas: Yeah. But one thing that is really cool about Steph is that she has always taken care of the people who are there for her in the beginning.
She, you know, a lot of the people that were in that friend group, which was sort of one or two friend groups removed from me, she was in more of the rock and roll rock and roller kind of nightlife scene, which ironically, I wouldn’t say she is now. I think she’s more on the electro side, but there were a lot of musicians in that crowd that she still supports today.
You know, like there were a jazz trumpet player that when she toured with what was, what was his name? Oh, Tony Bennett. And took our friend Brian out on tour with her to play lead trumpet, you know, and was constantly doing things like that for the community that she came out of. So I think that’s, that’s really incredible.
And as a result, there were a handful of times that I got to work with her after she was very famous. One of them being most notably the bar that she had kind of gotten her start in, had changed hands a few times, but had always sort of become this place that she could go back to and could be taken care of in a way that it wasn’t about celebrity.
It was about being a regular person. And there was one night that she and Brian and a handful of others did this pop up jazz concert in the back. And it was really, it’s like one of those unforgettable New York city nights where, you know, to a room of like 25 people in the back room of this nightclub, they did an hour of jazz standards and it was incredible, you know, and super fun.
And I was tapped to, to photograph it. And then her team seated those, you know, to the tabloids, et C. So it
Ismail: was really fun. That’s awesome. I’m sure. I’m sure there’s a ton of stories that you’d have maybe I’ll pepper, you offline but bringing, bringing it back to outs snapped. This is something I always talk about because when I mention photo booth company to like friends and family, people kind of think of it.
Oh, that’s cute. That’s cool. You got, you got that at the parties.
[00:35:23] OutSnapped Success Journey.
Ismail: Can you take us to the beginning of 2020 before the pandemic outs snapped and give us an idea of how big a photo booth company can get, or like give us a sense for how successful outs snapped was?
Nicholas: Yeah, that’s, that’s a tough question. I success.
I think the word success means so many different things to so many people. I think of success in a few different ways. Obviously the easy one is money, right? Like what’s your P and L look like because that’s the one that everyone else determines. But for me, what is really successful is the ratio of how many times a year you stop and go.
Holy shit. That was really cool. I’m really proud of us for doing that. And I think that’s, that’s my main motivator, like money, of course. Yes. That’s, like I said, that’s what gets me on the phone. Gotta put food on the table. But the thing that really keeps me going is that like moment where you’re like, oh wow, we just pulled off something crazy.
Right. And that to me is my true success metric. And without snap, it’s hard to say when it like truly started. And when Nikki digital truly ended, but on paper, it’s January of 2017 out snap officially became an LLC. And when we started shifting business over and, you know, the initially my concept was that we had built all these tools for myself.
I was not wanting to be out multiple nights a week anymore. And changing that lifestyle was also another success metric for me when I no longer had to be out six nights a week to keep food on the table and could feel cool about what we were doing. And with Nikki digital, the success metric, I didn’t realize at the beginning was really about relevance and the, the desire to stay relevant became less than the need to stay relevant to sustain that business model successfully.
Does that make sense?
Ismail: Yeah. I mean, often the, the metrics people point to, and I’ll just throw some out from what I’ve seen. I know outs, Snap’s one of the biggest photo with companies in the city, which is saying something, cuz it’s very competitive out here. You’ve got a large location at the Brooklyn Navy yards and I know the kind of events that you work.
So I think those are the metrics people generally point to, but I, I definitely hear what you’re saying that you wanna look back at your year and be like, wow, I had a lot of those great moments, but
Nicholas: if you think about it, that’s, that’s intrinsically built into my business model. Right? So as opposed to being the person, who’s like, Hey, I just need to make a lot of money.
I’m seeking out opportunities. That will make me proud of what we’re doing. And thus, but us, I believe in a slightly different lane on the freeway as our competition, if that makes
Ismail: sense. So that reminds me of a question had
[00:38:03] Operate at a premium end.
Ismail: I’m glad you brought that up because from what I know of you, you don’t, it seems like every opportunity that you get, you like to operate in the premium sandbox you like to play in, in the higher level, right.
As opposed to taking on things that you don’t necessarily enjoy, you don’t find cool. I’m sure you do some of that obviously to pay the bills, but you, you tend, you tend to lean more in the premium area, the upper end. Can you tell me a little bit about the mentality there? Why do you do that? Is it conscious?
Is it, yeah,
Nicholas: that, that’s interesting, cuz that kind of goes back to what I was saying about why I, I opted to eventually sunset Nikki digital and really make it just a personal project again. So much of what was important about running that business was staying cool and the definition of cool changes by the second.
Right. So I was in this hamster wheel of having to stay relevant all the time. So before I made any decision, the metric of deciding whether or not to make that decision was, would other people think this is cool, right? And that meant ultimately making decisions sometimes where I knew it was a bad business decision for the company, because it ultimately would have negative long term results, but we needed the cash infusion.
Right. So when I started the new business, I went into this thinking like, okay, we’re gonna have different lines of work. Right. You sort of have your premium model and then you have your mid tier and you have your low tier. And I thought that we would really be focusing on wedding, you know, weddings, bar mitzvahs, small things like that, because that was a market that we hadn’t been.
And naively, I was like, that’s just gonna be so much easier than dealing with all these like high stress corporate events. Right. We’ll just go into a wedding, we’ll take our money. We’ll what I didn’t realize was that when we do these high end corporate events, yes, they’re high stress, but it’s 99% of the times.
They’re real professionals running these things and they run mostly as they’re supposed to. When we started doing weddings, the profit margins were initially where I thought we wanted them to be. But then the amount of work it would take to get to and from this wedding was just like, you know, from the time of booking to the time that the wedding ended was just astronomically different than I imagined.
So, you know, we’ll have a, a, a perfect example. We did a wedding like two years ago, a bride emails me at the middle of COVID early, mid middle of COVID saying, Hey, we bought a hardcover coffee table book from you. And we just realized that there’s a typo. On it. And I said, oh, great to hear from you. I hope you’re doing, you know, well and good during the during COVID.
And she goes, how soon until you can replace this book, like no pleasantries at all. Right. And I said, well, we’d be more than happy to replace the book for you. The cost is X. And she goes, why do we have to pay for it? And I said, well, we cut and paste everything that is in that book from the questionnaire you sent us.
So if there’s a typo, it would be your mistake. We’d have to, we no longer have your books. We’d have to get the files, rebuild it and redo everything for you. And that’s the kind of mentality that it always seemed to be with these smaller events. It was not people who were in the professional world who knew that once an event happened, it had its sort of window.
Like we could have made good on that. You know, whether it was our fault or not a few weeks after, because everything is still able, you know, it would’ve taken us 10 minutes and a hundred dollars versus. The, the cost of goods, plus two or three hours to rebuild this, but she didn’t realize that she was not the only thing I was doing that day.
And that kept being that way with a, a lot of our clients. So now I ironically in the virtual space, we’re feeling that a lot because a lot of the folks that were dealing with on some of the smaller set events, the office events, these people have never planned a virtual event before. So they’re calling me up in like, you know, their head’s on fire because they’re trying to manage this virtual event that they didn’t really put time and an energy into because they thought it would be easy because it wasn’t an in-person event.
And they’re saying, we need this thing right now. We need it right now. We need it right now. And I commonly say like, Hey, that’s why we have a seven day period on this. That’s why you were supposed to get it to us on this date. And that’s why, you know, we’re doing the best we can to accommodate you. But I completely understand how you’re feeling because I’m managing 25 other people like you this morning.
Right. I don’t say that to the client, you know, but that’s, what’s going on in my head of like, yes, now I tune freaking out because you waited till the. So I think it’s really about I lost my train of thought on this, reel me back in saying in the
Ismail: premium. So to me, the irony is that people don’t think that they can operate at the premium end or the high end, but it ends up, there’s like less competition there.
Right. And generally speaking, like you said, the work, I don’t wanna say the work is easier because it’s not, but there’s more professionals working there. It’s just a different level and yeah. It’s less
Nicholas: competition. Think about it. Like any other experience you do. Right. So, so much of what I, I was talking about getting a Christmas tree with my sister and I was like, oh yeah, I’m, you know, I’m probably leave the city to get it because I think it’ll be cheaper.
And the guys who normally sell me in my Christmas tree are not on my corner this year. Like I was gonna support them. But if they’re not here, I’m, you know, I have no allegiance to anyone else. And if I have to get in the car, I may as well, you know, drive and make a day of it versus, you know, drive for, you know, uptown to get a, and she said, well, You may be surprised.
We just got a tree and it was really expensive locally. And I was like, oh, why? And she goes, I don’t know. And I said, well, tell me about the day she goes, well, you know, well, we got there, we parked, we were shown where to park. We got out of the car we’re I immediately given hot cocoa, taken to a place where they told us all about the experience that was about to happen.
You know, one person walked with us and helped us find the perfect tree for us. They let my niece and nephew, her daughter and son, you know, try and cut the tree down for a second. Then my husband did it for a second. And then ultimately this guy finished it off, carried the tree back down, wrapped it up, put it on the top of the car.
And then we left. Right. And I was like, okay. So what you actually paid for was a full day experience, right? So if you think about the premium versus the rinse and what we call rinse and repeat or low hanging fruit, you’re paying for that white glove service, you’re not paying just for the product that you get, because time is money.
When we do cost of goods, my time internally. It’s not my, my time. I put a two 15 hour just because that’s what, as a photographer I got. So in my head, that’s still what I think I’m worth. That changes a lot, especially now that the organization of the businesses change a lot back in March pre COVID. We had 13 people on the team and now we have me and some part-timers and then devs one we need.
And you know, I have a graphic designer that I brought on for freelance projects because I’m too busy to, to handle right now. So I don’t think my hourly rate is still that, but that’s still like where my head thinks. So when I do a project with someone, if I’m gonna spend 40 hours on it, I gotta get 40 times, two 50 plus cost of goods to break.
Even if that makes sense. Also like, you know, with, with sales, which is really new to me, like we prior to COVID obviously we did sales, but we did them very differently. We’ve been very lucky to work in a referral pool. And what that means is by the time someone got on the phone with us, They were already a very warm lead and were likely to wanna buy, right.
So people would come to us when they were like, Hey, we have this concept where we want to turn a phone booth into a photo booth with a two with a one way mirror. So we can see into the photo, the phone booth, but they can’t see out of the phone booth. And the reason they got us is because they had probably called two or three other event producers before landing on my phone line, or maybe even another photo booth company was like, Hey, we don’t do that.
But call at snap, they’ll do that. Right? So by the time they got us on the phone, they were already a warm lead. And then the sales process was the white glove service of talking to them about it, really understanding what their goals were, what their KPIs were about the project and figuring out problem solving, going back to the creativity at the time.
So I’d be on the phone problem, solving with them to figure out how we were gonna achieve their goal, whether it was just the build. And it was just about a fun activity for a bar or bot. Or if there was a real marketing reason why this thing was a phone booth, what the experience was gonna be, why it was gonna be, and ultimately what was gonna make their boss happy that they worked without.
Right. So that’s, that’s what goes into the premium model.
[00:46:41] Mindset about competition.
Nicholas: I I’d
Ismail: love to hear you talk a little bit about how you think about competition, because you know the saying, people say, if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere. We kind of alluded to how many events there are going on in the city.
How many people there are, there’s so much competition. I imagine if you started voted with companies somewhere else, it’d be a lot easier for you to succeed. How do you think about competing? Because people are always complaining, I’m losing business to lower cost competitors and stuff like that. So what do you, what’s
Nicholas: your mindset on it?
Yeah, I think it goes back to sort of some of the examples I’ve shared with you, just in the sense that it’s hard, it’s hard to say it’s hard to say what it would be like to work in different major markets. You know, there’s really big players in the scene that we all know like. LA photo party is probably the biggest one nationally, I would say maybe Basco.
And those folks are doing a ton of work. They’re doing quality and I
Ismail: mean, there’s, there’s a ton of people that are yeah. Out there doing it. How do you
Nicholas: beat them nationally in those major markets, New York, you know, Chicago, Austin, probably LA there is enough work for everyone, period. End of right.
Like there literally could not be too many photo booth companies in New York city. Maybe not during COVID obviously, but there literally could now and now with virtual space, literally everybody is in every single market, right? Like one of the things that’s been so cool for me is about waking up. And my first call, the day will be with someone in Europe.
And my last call, the day will be within someone in Asia. And it’s like, literally like the globe follows my schedule and it, or I follow, follow their schedule. Probably more humble way to say it, but it’s been really cool. So now I think more than ever there’s opportunity for people to do things at all the different prices, right?
Like we have no shortage of people hitting us up for $300 photo booths, virtual photo booth. Right? So the cost of goods on a photo booth may still provide profit. But I don’t know if you remember what I said in my head as my hourly rate is two 50. So if I’m having an hour long phone call with someone to sell them a $300 photo booth, I’ve already lost money.
So we’re doing less of that right now. Now that we’re very confident in our product and we’re focusing more again on those higher tier, they, they don’t tend to be they’re higher tier price points because they’re higher tier project. If that makes sense. Right? So we’ll have someone come to us and say, Hey, we have this TV, premier, or this, this premier.
And we built a website for it and we don’t want people to notice that they’re leaving. Our website to use your photo booth. So now instead of saying, okay, well our photo booth costs X, what you’re asking is gonna take like 40 hours of dev time. Probably. So now this project has to, we have to charge this to even break even on it.
Right? And those are really interesting conversations to have with someone who’s not used to event production or used to the concept of building for the internet, because people have really been trained to think that the internet is a free place to play. And the internet mostly is a free place to play because you’re paying for it with your demographic information that then sells ads to you.
But there’s a real cost of goods involved in each session, the amount of time and energy that it goes into building each of these things. And yeah, so I think like we’re shifting back into that lane where I’m turning down projects that I’m not excited by, that are not challenging. And therefore typically also have the lower prices.
So Nick, you
[00:50:21] Learn as Leader & Manager.
Ismail: in your past life being an employee you now run this company. Do you have, like, I guess what have you learned from being a leader
Nicholas: and a manager? So there’s a few things that I’ve learned. I’ve learned that being good at one thing does not mean being good at, at running a business doesn’t mean that you’re good at being a manager.
And that’s something that I’ve spent a lot of time the last few years, really, really digging my, trying to improve on. The other thing that I learned is that literally your job is never done and I’m not talking about answering emails. I’m talking about innovating and making sure that the projects that you’re working on are always new and cutting edge.
So one of the things with Nikki digital, and I think we touched on this earlier is that that that business was all about staying relevant. And that meant knowing the coolest music, knowing the coolest places, stopping, going places you like, because they were quote unquote not cool anymore. And like all of these things that when you run a business, you don’t realize that you’re inadvertently doing.
And it’s really just like, kind of keeping up with the times. Right? So with out snap, I’ve been very conscious about, you know, as opposed to the, the one step forward, two steps backwards. I’ve been really trying to get to one step sorry, two steps forward, one step backwards. And I think that’s something like, you just have to keep an eye out of, like you have to be working on today, but you also have to really think about tomorrow and next year and the five year and like where you’re going.
So I’m not, does that answer your question? Yeah.
Ismail: I feel like when you become a leader or manager of your own team, you were kind of reflect back on how you were as an employee. Oh yeah. Or you sympathize more with your prior managers yes. Yeah, but it’s, it’s interesting that you touched on balancing the short term versus the long term.
I think that’s something that everyone has. That’s like a balancing act that everyone deals with.
[00:52:13] Responsibility as CEO.
Ismail: If you take us back to like the beginning of 2020 and the prime of outs snap, can you give us a sense of like, what does the CEO do? Like what do you do on a daily basis?
Nicholas: I, you know, I don’t really like the term CEO for myself because we’re not like a huge company where I have a defined role as the CEO where I’m like, you know, in a nice office with the corner office, with windows everywhere, you know, I have a full team under me executing my whims.
It’s not like that. I’m in the thick of it. And I really, and this goes back to what we were talking about with the managerial. So one of the things that’s been really difficult for me is I see myself as in the trenches with everyone else. Cause that’s what it feels like. But everyone else looks at me like everyone else on the team looks at me like I am their boss, which.
Makes perfect sense. Right. And therefore I am somehow above them, which is not how I operate in work or in life. And so that’s something with, in terms of company culture that I’ve really struggled with. It’s like, how do you let your staff know that they can come to you with anything, but then also retain the power to actually be their boss.
So when you tell them to do or not do something, it’s not a question it’s, it’s a, it’s a task that’s given. Right. So I think that’s something that’s like really, really tricky for me is because, like I said, I still feel like I’m not a boss. Right. I still feel like I’m, I’m going to play every day. Right?
Like I’m going to work. And you know, I have emails I have to respond to and I have bills I have to pay and accounting, but I also get to play every day. Right. I get to like make cool things every day. And I get to talk to customers every day. Like I had a customer call last night and it was my last call of the day.
So I didn’t have a rush. And it was this person that, you know, randomly came via an inbound campaign. We have running. And he was such a nice guy that we ended up chatting for an hour and a half. And like, I got to hear all about this line of business that I knew nothing about. And he had worked in the event world for a while.
And, you know, we, we realized that we had, there’s no way we hadn’t been in the same room multiple times and we just didn’t know each other. And like that to me is what running a business is. Right? Like the ability to make my own decisions about where and how I should invest my time. And that’s what gets, goes again, as tricky when you have a, a staff where you’re saying the same thing, like, no, no, no.
You’re just like me, except you have, except you have to do these things. When I say you have to do them as opposed to getting to make your own schedule. Like I do. Right. And like, I think go, just going back to, like, what I said is every day, I feel like I’m getting to play. Of course I have chores just like when you’re growing up and you gotta do the laundry or just like your adult life and you growing up and you gotta do lunch.
But the thing that keeps me going and the things that make all those other things that no one ever wants to do worth doing is the fact that I, I really truly feel like I get to play all day. And that’s something that’s been tough this year as I was reinventing business, right? Like we went from, I went from really having an idea and a five year plan of where I wanted to go and what I was excited to play with.
And, you know, we had to scrap all of that. And along with scrapping that we had made major investments in our one, two and five year plan in January of this year, you know, like we were all at PBX. So I guess this is not a podcast AED with center podcast, but PBX is a, the international interactive photo and video conference that takes place in Vegas every year where people who work in photo, the photo interactive photo industry gather.
And that was literally the week before everything shut down. So I was out there making deals. With our vendors who we, you know, licensed software from who we work with, we collaborate with vendors who make products that you never think of. Like, you know, ink cartridges that we get. And we had, like I said, made major investments in our 20, 20, 20, 21 and 2025 year plan.
And literally on March 11th, everything just came to a grinding Hal. And if you think it’s a lot of work to run events, it’s surprisingly a lot of work to cancel events, too. so like, you know, we canceled over 200 events or postpone 200 events in a three day period. And I shouldn’t say we canceled our clients, came to us and needed to cancel or postpone.
Ismail: like 300 events in a three day period. That’s is that what you said? Right? Yeah.
Nicholas: That’s crazy. You know, what’s crazier is that literally here we are several months later and our calendar for next year does not have one person, right. We have a few weddings, a few like, you know, direct to consumer stuff, but our corporate planners, not a single person planning in, in person event for 2021.
Right now we have had a few, a few righteous people who have said it’s easier to go from virtual to real life. So we’re gonna do it that way, but literally that’s 1% of the planners that we’re talking.
Ismail: Okay. So I’m glad you started talking about the pandemic. So I guess this, this is, I was trying to think back favorite subject.
Yeah, this , this was, this was when we started talking a lot more. So that was one of the be I guess benefit. I don’t wanna say there’s any benefit of a pandemic, but that was one of the silver lining silver lining. Yeah. Yeah. Speaking a lot more. And I was trying to think back to our conversations. But before we get into a couple things that stood out to me, I guess,
[00:57:33] Pandemic effect on business
Ismail: let me ask you, you mentioned all the cancellations and very stressful time.
The business has turned upside down. How do you think you reacted. Or what did you do?
Nicholas: That’s a good question. I mean, I think one of the things that sets an entrepreneur aside, and I don’t, I don’t like titles like entrepreneur. I think one of the things that sets me and people like me aside is that it’s very rare that I finish a project and say, oh, I did that perfectly like that could not have gone better.
Right. Any time I do anything, my first thing to do is find the places that we could have done better, whether that’s efficiencies in work or literally like oh, we crop these slightly wrong or, oh my God, this logo is slightly off center. And it was supposed to be centered. Like, it’s, it’s that constant.
Like when you finish an event, in my opinion, it’s not done until you have quality controlled. It made sure everything was as close to perfect as possible. And when things aren’t perfect, you own them with your clients immediately. So they know that you are aware and care and you make good on them.
Right. So I think. The way this relates to COVID is like, yes, we have somehow managed to pull ourselves out of the, what we thought was impending doom and have a very successful year. And I don’t, I think we could have been more successful. I think we could have been less successful. I don’t know how to say it.
It’s like the things, you know, you and I talked almost every day since March, which is like, it is a fun silver lining, and you’ve gotten to see a lot of our, our problem solving. And there were days where I know I was just hitting my head against the wall, trying to figure out and iterate, you know, and there are days that you were doing the same.
And then we had our little victories along the way and slowly, it really kind of emerged for both of us, you know, what we wanted to do. And I think one of the, the key, the thing, one of the things to me that was really interesting about the beginning of the pandemic was for the first time, at least in my life, every single person that I interacted with.
Whether I knew them well or not, or whether they were the same, like demographic as me, same city, same place. Everybody was paralyzed in the same way. Every single person was in the exact same position for a small period of time. And I’ve never felt that I’ve never felt, it was like oddly a weird unification, but around such a terrible thing.
And then as we got into like, you know, week 2, 3, 4, or five, you started to SEP see the people separate out again. And I always use like, when people ask me how my friends are from college, I’m like, oh, they’re exactly the same. Like the kids who are really productive are being really productive. The kids who sat on the couch and smoke pot were still sitting on the couch and smoking pot.
Right? Like that’s what we started to see again when, when the smoke cleared, right? Like the people in my network who are constantly doing things that I think are really cool and awesome iterated and figured it out. And the people who don’t have that skillset. And this goes back to creativity, which we talked about earlier.
People think of creativity as pulling out your, you know, your Bob Ross canvas and painting, happy little trees, but creativity is figuring out how to get yourself out of a hole. Right? And I also talked earlier about how I hate picking up the phone and asking people for help or for business. But when push comes to shove and you literally have no choice, that’s when you literally have no choice, you have to figure out how to turn, you know, water into wine.
That’s, that’s what
Ismail: we did. That’s so fascinating. The way you described it, that some people like the people that are creative and iterate, that’s who they are. And they find a way to do that. No matter what the circumstances are. Right. And that’s kind of the that’s who I’m appealing to with this podcast with bound to be rich is people who feel different.
Nicholas: feel that they’re bound name, reveal. I didn’t know the name now. Oh, I didn’t tell you the name before. There you go. No, but now I’m, I’m excited. I’ve always wanted to be rich. So this is news to me.
Ismail: There, there’s a couple things that I remember you saying in our conversations, and obviously this, this journey is not always a, a clean journey, right.
It was a really messy period getting from there to where you are now. And it was really fascinating to see the growth for, for me. Right.
Nicholas: And I, and it’s still messy. Like we present, like it’s not messy and I’m sure this is similar for you. Like, it’s all about presenting the fake it till you make it right.
Like that is, that phrase exists for a reason. Right. It’s because it exists in reality. People are on a regular basis, faking it till they make it right.
Ismail: One comment that I remember you making in that time was no matter, like it was, it was a very uncertain period. Right. And even in that uncertainty
[01:02:15] Explain: “Can’t go back to being an employee”.
Ismail: where a lot of people were considering other careers and getting a job and whatever you made a comment to me that something along the lines, like I just can’t go back to being an employee.
I don’t know if you remember that, but can you elaborate on that mindset a little bit?
Nicholas: Yeah. So I have, I’ve had obviously a pretty long journey and there’s a lot of things that have gone into this sort of like mindset that I’ve built. And, and one of those things was like coming out of the gate being accidentally, fairly successful compared to my peer group.
And just, you know, what, at the time felt like accidents falling into good opportunities, which I now realize was me seeing opportunity and seizing them, which is what I, I think of when we talk about creativity again. And one of those things was, you know, like I accidentally at the time started this very successful website which gave me foray into a lot of the things we talked about earlier and has really informed and paved the way for me in the rest of my life.
You know, I made what I call at the time, a mistake of saving money because I was literally working too much to spend it. And that cushion has also provided me the ability to take risks and be successful throughout the rest of life. Right. So there’s a lot of things that growing up felt like happy accidents to me.
And maybe, maybe they were, but I’ve definitely learned from them and they are how I now present and create new opportunities. So moving to 2 15, 16, when it was becoming clear to me that I was no longer enjoying my, my last business, Nikki digital, the way that I I had and the way that I was passionate about.
And that particular business was not something I could continue if I wasn’t actively passionate about it, because it required so much energy and so much schmoozing and so much the one that one thing I keep coming back to is relevance. Like you just had to be, I had to be the coolest teenager. Every single day of my life, because teenagers were my audience.
And as a 30 plus year old person that was starting to feel very uncool and weird. And like, I wanted to figure out my next. And so part of what I thought my next move would be. And this is something that, you know, other people who work in ad agencies and marketing agencies, where I was like, oh man, just like start applying and you’ll get some like cushy creative director position somewhere.
And like, and I actually knew people who had done things like this. And so I was like, okay, that’s not like super out of the realm of like, you know, get a cushy position, show up every day and do my, do my thing and then go home and have my life. And when I started meeting with head hunters, I had been out of the corporate world for so long that I literally, at that point, like last time I was in the corporate world, the internet barely existed.
Right. And so fast forward to now, You have all these positions, you know, HR is called like head of employee experience, right? Like, I didn’t know what the job titles. So I went to the head hunter and was like, look, I can do anything. Right? Like, I’ve run my own business for 10 plus years. I’ve worked in marketing.
I’ve worked in advertising. I’ve worked with clients like this. I’ve solved these problems. I, you know, I’ve had staff under me. I I’m prepared to do pretty much anything that will make me this salary point that I, and the head hunter was just like, it doesn’t work that way. And I was like, I understand that it doesn’t work that way, but I need you to work with me.
Like, you’re gonna make a big hunk of change off of me landing this cushy position that everyone keeps telling me, that’s gonna be no problem for me to get. And literally, I couldn’t find a head hunter who would work with me because my career had been so undefined that they didn’t know what to do with me.
Y you didn’t, you didn’t fit in a box. Exactly. And then, so I started like looking at job descriptions and even like, kind of like reaching out to HR people. And putting myself on the radar of some folks. And I literally couldn’t get through the HR door. Right. Like, and to me that was, was really scary. Like here I am, I’m in my mid thirties, I’ve had a very successful career thus far.
I wanna make sort of a shift. I can’t even get an entry level position because they look at my resume and they say, you’re too qualified for this. I can’t get a position that I think I would be great at because they say what, you’ve never worked. You haven’t worked somewhere for 10 years. And you’re like, well, I ran my own business.
Right. And it was really kind of a scary thing. And so the opportunities that were presenting themselves at the time were just not that exciting to, and I didn’t, I couldn’t imagine giving up all the freedoms you get for working for yourself to go and do a job that I didn’t wanna do. Right. And which, which, you know, there’s, there’s a, it’s not really a saying, but there’s a thing that I always do.
It sounds really dumb, but if you ever think you’ve made a decision, get on it and see how you feel, if you win or lose, like I’ll flip a coin on something and be like, heads is the decision. Like, like I’ll get a job and if it lands on heads and you feel like crap, I really didn’t want that to land that way.
Like, it’s this weird internal thing that happens where you think you’ve made a decision, but then your gut kicks in when the, the bet happens and the results come in. So that’s actually something that I do more often than I’d like to
Ismail: admit. I was gonna say one other thing that you had said, and I, I love this because, so back in that period where with all the uncertainty, everyone was like whining about the government and we need and rightfully so, like people needed help.
Right? Yeah. But there was one thing that you said that still sticks with me, cuz I, I just loved this where you, you basically said something along the lines of,
[01:07:45] Explain – “Being your own Stimulus”
Ismail: you know what, I’m gonna be my own stimulus. I’d love to hear you elaborate a little bit on that
Nicholas: mindset. Yeah. I mean, this, I think goes back to what I was like saying a minute ago, about how for the first time in my life, everybody was in the same position.
So for a moment, I really felt like I was like everyone else. And everyone else was like me. And as I fought with the government for the things that all of us were supposed to get, and it became a full-time job to figure out why my health insurance got canceled incorrectly figure out why I wasn’t getting unemployment that I was supposed to be getting.
I just got to a certain point where I was like, I’m literally spending 40 hours a week trying to get the government to do the things that they have promised us. And even if that happens, it’s barely enough money to live on. Right. So why am I spending 40 hours a week on this? When I could be doing what I do every other day of my life, which is spend my time figuring out how to be successful.
And I use that word because I think other people relate to it cuz it means different things to people who I spend my time trying to be excited about what I’m working. Right. And also pay the bills. Yeah. But
Ismail: if I remember back to this period, when you said that it was like a, it was like a switch turned on because after you had this mindset shift, I remember you just put your head down and you were working nonstop on ideas.
So it just to me stood out because there’s, there’s a little bit of confidence in that where I guess it comes from all the experience you’ve had working on your own, where you have this confidence, Hey, I can, I can figure this out and I can be my own stimulus. A lot of people didn’t have that. I
Nicholas: would love to say it was confidence.
It was desperation. Right. And that goes back to the exact same thing about what I was saying about like, I will never pick up the phone if I don’t need to, to call, you know, call and ask for something. So if I’ve ever called you and asked you for something, that means I really needed it. So if you didn’t say yes, I, that it was, I guess, a mindset shift for me.
And, and the best way I can explain it was just realizing that. This was, it felt different, but it was no different than any other day of my professional life. Right. Like wake up in the morning and figure it out, wake up in the morning. How can I be excited and also pay my rent and make right. Like, and I think that that’s, that is something back to your last question that I didn’t feel like I would have the opportunity to do when, when, or, or if I took a job with someone else.
The other thing that happened, I believe it was around that same time period. I, I had an opportunity to land in my lap. That was interesting enough to me. And I think it would’ve actually been a really cool experience to, to a part of a job that I’ve always worked around, but never actually had that role.
And that was the role of a photo editor and not editing in Photoshop, but literally having clients, it was at a photo agency, clients come in and say, Hey, we’re looking for content that looks like X, Y, Z. This particular agency was really interesting because they were working primarily with user generated content prior to COVID.
And then when COVID hit, they got busier than ever because the creatives that most a agencies went to could literally couldn’t create content, right? So they had to go through these pools of user generated content. So the role was essentially getting you wake up in the morning and you’re like, Hey, we need photos of X, Y, and Z.
And then the day would be spent searching the internet for user generated content on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube. And so it’s like a world that I live in and we create content just like that for our clients. But it, the position literally paid at 40 hours a week, less than unemployment. And to me, it wasn’t about it.
Wasn’t about why would I work for less than unemployment? It wasn’t about that, which I think, you know, we heard a lot about on the news was like, no, one’s trying to get jobs because jobs pay less than unemployment. For me, it was taking this position. Doesn’t provide more of a safety net than unemployment does.
And if I take this position, I can’t figure out my next step because that’s what it’s taking away from. And so I didn’t even end up getting unemployment for 90% of the time. I was unemployed. I don’t know about the rest of the people on the, this, but as a self-employed person was very difficult. Get the things that we were promised, but it just, for me, felt like I was already in a hole.
It was better to make that particular hole a little bit deeper because I knew that once I dug up the right idea, I’d be able to get myself out of it.
Ismail: And, and you kind of talked about put like you and I both were trying different things during this period, trying to figure out what to do. And that could be a whole podcast of, of itself.
But I remember, I dunno if I remember this correctly, but we were talking about what is our passion? What do we wanna do? And you said something along the lines and please correct me. I, if I’m off here,
[01:12:32] Convert in-person to digital.
Ismail: but I think it was something about, you’re passionate about translating. In person experiences or events into a digital experience, is that right?
Or am I off there? Yeah, I,
Nicholas: I, I don’t recall the conversation, but that does make sense. Cause a lot of what I’ve always done is really play on that line of in person and digital. Right. And that’s one of the things that kind of springboarded me in the very beginning is that I was able to take things from real life and put them on the internet before other people could figure out how to.
And that’s always a line that I found really interesting, like what is, and, and now even more so like what is real life and what is internet like? Right. Like a great example of that is like you look at someone’s Instagram account and it presents as real life, but it’s a very, very specifically curated version of that.
Person’s. For better or worse, you know? And I think playing in that sandbox that goes back and forth. It’s like, you know, a portal from real life to the internet and the way we create things and like as a photographer and that’s kind of, you know, when people say, what do you do? I, I typically will say, I’m a photographer.
And then my friends around me will be like, why don’t you tell them what you really do? And I’m like, I don’t know. That’s what I do. I take photos. And they’re like, no, but you run a company. And I’m like, oh yeah, that, and to me, that’s always been interesting because being a photographer creates a lens for the way you see the world.
Right. And one of the things that has intrigued me about photography when it comes to my we’ll call it for lack of a better term, my day job, versus the things that I like to photograph when I photograph for myself, which I don’t do enough of anymore. I’m photographing the things in life that stand out to me and why they’re different from the things around them.
And that’s constantly what I’ve always been doing. And, and one of the reasons as a street photographer, I love New York city is because maybe not so much during COVID, but you would see an equation in, in, in a busy area and say, okay, I need a man with a blue hat to walk by to finish this equation that I see right now.
And if you’re in Midtown, that’s like a three minute wait. Like the dude that you need is just gonna walk by the same way that the vendors in times square make oodles of money every day, because they literally have millions of people walking by them every day. And one of them needs a graffiti baseball cap, right.
Or more than one of them, lots of them need. Right. And it’s when it comes to the experiences that we create for outs snap, versus what I did with Nikki digital, Nikki digital was about finding those beautiful moments and, and showcasing them. And one of the other things that I stopped liking about Nikki digital towards the end is people there’s a, a Everyone wanted to look and feel like everybody else.
So those wallflower moments where I saw something really special were harder to find because people were all trying to be more so they like, they would see my camera imposed for me, as opposed to me seeing someone taking a photo and interact. So when it comes to outs, snap, we ironically create repeatable experiences over and over and over again.
Right? So with a photo booth, it’s all about creating an environment and taking someone, anyone, and putting them in it and creating an experience that’s as close to the last person and the person after them again. And that’s why looking at a gallery of photo booth images is not usually that fun, unless you really know everyone photos because their personalities stand out to you.
Whereas if I photograph a party, even if it’s a really boring party, people will look at every single photo for.
Ismail: So, so after I guess that whole messy middle of trying to figure things out, you found something that lined up with this passion of yours. Going digital. Right. And I think I would love to have you, I guess, talk a little bit about this topic that you’re doing really well with right now of a virtual booth.
And before I hand it off to you, I, I just wanna say that,
[01:16:20] Potential of Virtual Booths
Ismail: I think I know that you are the king of virtual in the industry, because I’d like to say that I’m pretty intimately familiar with a lot of the top players globally. And from what I know, I don’t think anyone does it better than you. So I would love to hear how that’s going, cuz I’m sure a lot of people are listening from that industry.
Some people were skeptical about the potential of virtual booths. Some people didn’t get it. Yeah. When I, when I explain it to people that are not in the industry, they’re like, I just, I can just do this on Snapchat. I don’t get it. So if you can riff a little bit. Virtual component and how well you’re doing it with it right now.
That’d be awesome. Yeah.
Nicholas: So I am the first to admit, and you and I had several of these conversations at the beginning, you know, people were coming to us, my clients, and also the vendors that you and I both know well and, and work with were coming to us and pitching us on this idea of the virtual photo.
And I remember you and I got off the phone with another third party and like kind of had a sidebar. And we’re like, that is stupid idea. Like there’s, this has no legs. And we both felt that way. And one of the things that I felt was really interesting was how I started to see it being a successful tool.
And it took a much longer time for you to get on board with it. And you were, you were open to it because you saw, I was making cool things but much like me. I just didn’t think people would interact with it. You know? And one of the things that allowed me to kind of pull out in front of the curve was the fact that I was looking at the.
And when everything, you know, when my clients who had canceled in-person events started reaching out to me and being like, Hey, we’re starting to put this back together. We’re gonna go virtual this year. Like, is there such a thing as a virtual photo booth? And I was like, I mean, yeah, kinda like we could do it kind like very begrudgingly did a few of these events because I didn’t think I had a choice and I didn’t really believe in it.
And prior to COVID, I was very lucky that the sales that I did never felt like sales because someone had typically gotten our name, they would call us up about wacky project and they were already warm lead. They were already wanted to buy by the time we got on the phone with them. And it really just came down to like timing and budget and, you know, they knew that we could do what they wanted and they knew that we could help them iterate and make their idea better.
So when I started having to do sales for the, the virtual photo booth, I for the first month of it, didn’t believe in it. And I was like taking phone calls with literally anyone who I could get on the phone with. And pitching them on this thing that I didn’t believe in. So go going back to fake it until you make it right.
And then when we started seeing some of the user generated content, we did the the Norton antivirus global summit, which for anyone who doesn’t work in the corporate world, like you typically have a yearly all hands and very few of them to date have done it virtually. One of the cool things is, you know, all the people from all the different offices will converge upon a city, typically a lost Vegas or an Atlantic city, a convention center city, you know, Chicago.
And they will have some sort of big hands on meeting all hands on deck meeting, and then they’ll be some, you know, exciting party and it’s, and it it’s serves two purposes. One to. Kick off the sales year, right? Get people excited, two to network with the people that you work with on a regular basis, but maybe work on the other side of the world with, and three for a lot of these people to have a fun, exciting time outside of the household.
Right? So a lot of these people are this. They may have to go get to go on vacation every year. So this is partial vacation, partial work. Right. And what a lot of these companies started realizing was that they weren’t gonna be able to do it this. So a lot of our early calls were with these folks were doing these big, you know, 2003 person, international virtual events, where all these people were used to going to a place, having a party and hopping in a photo booth.
So when I started seeing some of the content of people from around the world, taking photos and smiling and enjoying it and taking multiple photos, I started to really believe in the product. And that for me was like a really key moment. and one of the things that often comes up in my current sales calls, like even the guy I was telling you about that I spoke to yesterday.
One of the reasons why we ended up on the phone for so long was because I, he was like, I gotta tell you, you know, I got this email about this product and I just thought it was the stupidest idea ever. And I said, you know, I’m happy to admit to you that when we first started getting requests for it, I also thought it was the stupidest idea ever.
And I walked him through the things that changed my opinion about it. And he related because he had just experienced them himself by part playing with our tool. So I think it’s, I, I know I’ve gotten away from the question, but I think that you have to iterate and try things. And what I started to say in the beginning of this is like, thinking about the future and the present at the same time.
One of the things that I did that allowed me to pull out in front of the rest of the group who were trying these things is. As soon as people started reaching out to me about it, I bought a lot of ads on the search terms, virtual photo booth, right? And so anyone who Googled virtual photo booth trying to figure out if it existed, ended up on outs, snap.com.
And this was a time when advertising on the internet with Penn on the normal dollar, because literally everyone stopped their ag campaign March, April in may. And so for pennies, I think I was spending $500 a month. And once I ramped up, I was literally on 30 calls a week of people just found me because they search virtual photo booth and we built out SEO stuff around it as well.
But that’s that little leap that I saw that like, you know, 10 minute deep dive, just looking and seeing a spike in people searching.
[01:22:20] Working of Virtual Booth
Nicholas: That is one of the things that’s made this entire year possible. And that’s that thinking and thinking in the future while, you know, digging yourself out of the present.
Ismail: Is there anything you’d be willing to share regarding like who some of your clients are, how well this is going compared to, you know, things in the prior years, et cetera.
Is there anything that you can paint the picture of how well virtual’s going,
Nicholas: it’s such a different experience from my side that the success metrics are completely different for me. And you, as someone like you, who I’ve talked to on a regular basis, like there are days when I’m like really psyched.
We did some cool. And then there are weeks where all I do is complain about the fact that I’ve been on 35 zoom calls. So success metrics for me are very different. And going back to that, like waking up and being excited about what I’m doing, like, I don’t wake up on most days, excited to get on zoom.
Like the week of Thanksgiving, which is a three day week I woke up and my calendar app, which is I use drift. I woke up to an email Monday morning saying, congrats, you have 38 meetings book for this week. And I was like, oh wow, that’s a lot for this week. And then I realized as I was like pulling into the day that it was a three day week, and I normally do 30 to 35 meetings and a five day week.
And it was the scariest thing that I’ve faced. It was almost scarier than the beginning of COVID. I was like, I don’t know how I’m gonna get through this, but in terms of success metrics like financially, we are somehow going to pull out of this year, very close to what we did last year, even without income for three months almost four months.
So take that for what you will. I’m pretty proud of the fact that we were able to do that. We’re working with clients that are really awesome. One of the things that’s been interesting for me is that, you know, we have a bunch of now, you know, what I would consider to be dream clients, people that I would have always wanted to work with.
And because of that little Diddy that I told you about before of just buying those keywords. They all came to me. Right? Like we have clients that, like I said, are dream clients that hold called me asking if we could do projects for them, without us ever having to like, get our foot in the door. These are people that like we had emailed and never our emails never got open.
Right. So that’s, that’s my humble way of saying like, I’m very, very proud of the clients that we’re working and we’re getting to do really, really fun, interactive stuff with some TV clients. A lot of, like I said, these household name, large corporations that are doing these global summits. And I’m really hoping that a lot of this, these relationships translate back into hybrid events and then in person events.
Right? So this, for me, going back to that one year three year, five year plan for me so much of this year and virtual booths for me was initially about the investment of getting. Getting people on the phone with me so they could meet me so that when things got back to normal, we could sell them in person experience.
I really didn’t expect to be creating the level of work that we are. And you know, the complex and interactive stuff. It’s really like, you know, I worked on a project last night or a Netflix press junk kit. That’s going live on Thursday. And, you know, I was up pretty late working on it, but I was so excited.
It was like, I felt like a little kid and I, I will name drop here. Like I grew up, I was a kid of the karate kid era. So we’re doing the virtual photo booth that the press junk Kitt is using for the, the Cobra Kai that comes out, I think the end of this month. So it’s gonna be the, the interactive piece that press is going to use when they premier this.
And it’s really cool. I got to dissect the key art and make this create like really cool creative, interactive experience with people who are my childhood hero.
Ismail: That’s awesome. And I know there’s, I know of many, many other examples like that, but this is kind of reminding me to quickly touch on something that I find fascinating about your personality.
It’s unique to you where you don’t like, I don’t know how else to say it, but you don’t brag. It’s, it’s interesting because I know many of the largest companies in the industry, I know like the most recognizable names and I speak with them and they’re out there. Everybody knows them. But they tell me, you know, we lose a lot of business with that guy, Nick.
And I’m like, who’s this guy, Nick, everybody keeps telling me about ,
[01:26:49] WORK IT behind the scenes.
Ismail: but somehow you’re more of a behind the radar behind the scenes, a top performer. And I’m just curious if you could riff quickly on, like, why are you more, I guess, behind the scenes and not really in front of everybody about
Nicholas: it. I don’t, I don’t see a reason to be in front of everybody about it, but it’s like, what?
And this goes back to success metrics, like, what are the things that make you happy? And sometimes making other people feel like I’m I’m like choosing my words very wisely here because I’m, I don’t know what goes on in other people’s mind for me. I don’t need other people’s approval to, or admiration to feel like I’ve had a successful day for me.
I feel successful when I go to bed at night. Just like that experience. I just shared with you of being like, that was so cool. I just worked with this project that was like a childhood, like hero of mine. Right? Like these are kids, you know, like that particular project, like when I was a kid, Brody kid was like the coolest thing you could possibly be.
Right. Who didn’t say wax on wax off way too many times, you know, like all the, all the stuff. Right. So for me, what, what do I need someone else to know about that? Right? Like. Just to me that isn’t a success like.
Ismail: Yeah. Yeah. I, I guess I would just kind of say for people listening that I, I would describe you as the needle, the haystack, because you are probably, I can’t think of, I’ll say it this way.
I can’t think of anyone else that is as successful as you, that people don’t really know. So that, that speaks a lot to your, your personality and what you value. And, and it’s also why I find it’s such a huge win to have convinced you to create a course, teaching other people about the virtual booth business, because I know given my role in the industry, I know there’s a lot of people struggling with this and they see some people doing really well with it.
And they’re desperate because their business is not doing as many in person events and they need to generate income. And they’re looking to learn about this, but there’s no real good resource for learning about this. And you, you kind of mentioned a lot of different things where you’ve been on. God knows how many zoom calls and how many hours you spend pitching this.
You’ve built a lot of cool different things. So I thought if I wanted to orchestrate a course around this, you were the best person to do that because you had the experience building some of the best virtual experiences that I’ve seen, but you also had the experience of selling it. And I think that component is what people really wanna learn and understand.
[01:29:20] Outline of your Program.
Ismail: So if you could talk a little bit about the program you put together, I think people would really be
Nicholas: interested. Yeah. I don’t, I don’t know when this podcast is gonna drop in relation to it, but one of the things that I’m really excited about is now the way that we’re you and I have talked about doing sales.
So we have sort of an outline of what this program is and that’s going to include obviously the 1 0 1 stuff like what is a virtual photo booth and why should it exist? Because I think that’s the number one question that people have is why should people pay money for something that’s not physical or showing up in real life to all the different softwares that are available to us.
That I’ve played with and the pros and cons with each of those. Of course we’ll show you some examples of the work that I can share that is not NDA. And I will also I think you and I talked a little bit about maybe even having some mock sales calls that we can do. And I think what I’m really excited about is that when we send the teaser out for this, we’re gonna get to hear what other people also want us to add to that course list.
Because when you’re in the weeds with these things, you don’t realize what people need to know. You know, it’s like, I don’t, I recently started working with a salesperson on my team and it’s the first time I’ve ever worked with a salesperson. And they sat in on a ton of my calls and they asked me a lot of very specific questions about like, why did you say X, Y, Z?
And I didn’t have a good answer. And then I explained that I had over the course of talking to 30, 35 people a week. Had found that this is what got me the best response. Right? So like one joke I always have in my cadence is I show people that we can upload a photo. And I upload a photo of Bruce Willis, which I randomly had from something else.
And I say, here’s a photo of me where I look just like Bruce Willis and every person laughs. And so instead of just uploading the other photos that were on my desktop to show, I just stuck with Bruce Willis. Right. And like, these are all things that happen from iteration. And so it’s like kind of, we all know what the term AB testing is.
We do it that’s, that’s what we call learning. That’s what we call growing up. Right. Like you do something stupid when you’re a kid and you usually realize you shouldn’t do it again because it yielded bad results. Right. So when I’ve been on all these sales calls, like as a, not salesperson who doesn’t know sales tactics, I literally, it was like standup comedy for me where I was literally like dropping things in.
And if they work, I tried them again. If they didn’t work, I modified it and tried it again. So now with my sales person, who’s gonna help me build out the rest of our sales team. We have this playbook that literally has answers to almost every question that I’ve been lobbed in the past, like six or seven months going from, this is a terrible idea.
Why should I spend money on it too? Is this possible? And it’s been, that’s a really cool experience that I’m excited to share with people too. And something else that I think that you and I are hoping to do is also have one on one calls with people and maybe even prior to building it so we can really get an idea of what people want to hear.
And I think that, that to me, like if I got to choose how my education was growing up, that would. Way cooler, because I would’ve definitely asked for things that would be more useful in my life than biochemistry.
Ismail: I, I would be terribly surprised if there was anybody on the planet earth that , that was in more pitches for virtual than you.
So you definitely have the experience there for people that are interested.
[01:32:53] Link to the course.
Ismail: There is a link in the show and notes of the course, or you can just go to w.com w I S D a.com and check it out. And as Nick mentioned there, there will be the opportunity for students to book private sessions with Nick to go over whatever they want.
Those are very limited. So if anybody wants that, you have to act quickly. I think there are a couple questions I’d like to wrap up each episode with Nick. So I’ll just love em your way and sure. See what we come up with. I
[01:33:16] Any hint of a future successful entrepreneur as a young kid.
Ismail: one thing I’m curious about, cause I don’t know this if we, if we zoom back in time and had the opportunity to see young Nicholas or people around young Nicholas, how would they have described you back then?
Were, were there any hint. Future successful entrepreneur. Anything like that? Bring anything to mind.
Nicholas: I don’t brag often, but one thing I will brag about is that if you Google New York times, Nick Rhodes, magic rabbit, anything having to do with magic in me, I was a magician when I was a kid and I thought I was the coolest person in the world.
And the other thing that I will also add to that is that I’m really, really happy that for whatever reason the articles are archived, but the photos of me in tuxedos with various magic props are not archived available online. So you have to, you have to DM me for the, the, the photographic evidence. I don’t know, I guess like that’s a really so magic for me is not something that I’m involved with on a regular basis anymore.
And actually, interestingly, at the beginning of the pandemic, I actually Reed a bunch of magic books that I had as a kid. Cause I wanted to reread. About the psychology of magic. And like I said, I don’t practice it every day, but I am very much aware of the concept still like misdirection, right? Like sales is all about misdirection.
Someone asks a question and you don’t wanna answer it, or you don’t want them to know something or like, you know, don’t buy this. It’s, it’s the worst by this thing, you know, it’s like, it’s, it’s really, it’s all relevant. And also my ability to public speak is directly from that too. My training as being a performer as a kid, you know, I had a coach who helped me and taught me a bunch of things about performing and speaking, one of the Audi, one of the things he always said was never show the audience, your butt.
And in that case it wasn’t because I had a weird butt was because as a magician, I’m gonna go to magic health for sharing this. A lot of the times you hide things behind you, but it also, you don’t show the audience a things you don’t want them to see or B things they don’t want us. Right. And so that’s something that I use on a regular basis.
So, and also as a kid magic. I wanted more than anything to start a business where I was performing at children’s birthday parties. And I did that as a teenager and my best friend like drove me around cause I didn’t have my license yet. And so I gave him a cut and I was making like 50 bucks a weekend and I thought it was so cool because I was also, you know, a magician.
I, I assume answer is yes. And I hadn’t thought of that.
Ismail: I, I assume you felt different then compared to your peers and friends, right? Yeah.
Nicholas: I don’t know that I had the wherewithal to like, know what or why. And it’s like there there’s an example from my childhood that I always use. So people, my mom is a works in mental health as a, as a therapist and people are always like, oh, what’s it like having a shrink for a mom?
And I don’t get into explaining what the different shrink in a therapist is with them. But I do explain it with this one story. Like as a kid, I, I hated peanut butter and jelly. right. And as a result, I was the kid with the tuna fish sandwich every day. And because everybody else ate peanut butter and jelly, I either got made fun of or felt different.
And something that I always joke about is the conversation with my family. Wasn’t like the reason you have a tuna fish sandwich is because you don’t like peanut a butter and jelly, and then you’d be upset about that too. It was. How does it make you feel? Like, what is, why? Like, why are you upset about this?
Like, and really unpacking what was different about the situation, rather than just being like dismissive of it and saying like, you don’t like peanut butter and jelly, do you wanna take it and then be miserable for a different reason? Right? Like, it was really about understanding why we as humans are all different.
So I was aware as a, as a kid that I was different than other people, but I don’t think it was until I was much older. And even like on a regular basis, you know, you realize the things that make you different. And that’s something I touched on a little bit earlier about. There was that moment where we were all the same this year mm-hmm , you know, obviously was exceptions, but then we all started pulling out into our different directions again.
And I thought that was, for me, was really eye-opening to see the, the path that I took and the path that other people took. And I mean, when also coming back to mental health, like that was such a rough period for everyone and everyone had to handle it differently. But one of the things that got me out of that rut and out of that despair feeling was that thing.
You said a little while ago about me realizing that I’ve always been my own stimulus package, so why, why is now any different? Right. And that’s when I was like, I can do this. Right. And I think it, it, I would like to once again say that it was confidence, but it really was just desperation. It was like, it wasn’t necessarily, I can do this.
It was, I have to,
[01:38:07] Role of Luck in your success.
Nicholas: how much
Ismail: of a role would you say luck has played in your success? You mentioned happy accidents earlier. But I’m curious luck versus like ability, hard work intelligence,
Nicholas: stuff like that. Look, you know, people always say you’re in the right place at the right time, but you’re never going to be in the right place at the right time.
If you’re not working your butt off to be in the right place at the right time. And I think that happy accidents occur, but it’s about having the wherewithal to know and to learn from them. And that goes back to AB testing too. Right? So it’s like, oh I did this and it yielded this result. I did this and it yielded a bad result.
Like you have to iterate. Right. And it’s like, you’re not gonna know that you’re in the right place at the right time. If you are open to being in the right place at the right time. Does that make sense? So I think like luck is a big part of it, but it’s also about, and I’m not like a Woohoo, like you can manifest your future kind of person, but you gotta put yourself in the right place at the right time.
It’s like playing the lottery, right? Like you, you aren’t gonna win the lottery if you don’t play the lottery. So if you don’t put yourself in a lot of places or try a lot of things, You’re not gonna have those happy accidents that other people call luck. Luck is luck is also, I think, in this particular case word for trial
Ismail: and error, this, this is the question I end each episode with you, you mentioned
[01:39:29] What is a rich life to you?
Ismail: how you had different success metrics in regards to business.
And we talked on a lot of different things in this conversation, but I’m curious to hear like clearly rich life, isn’t just about money. So what is a rich
Nicholas: life to you? Wow, that is, that is a whole other three hour conversation in and of itself. I think that there’s this really funny meme a few weeks ago that I, I unfortunately related with really well and like, you know, everyone talks about being asymptomatic with COVID, but there was a meme that had someone who looked so horribly depressed and, and despair, and it said, and the caption.
You are very happy. You’re just asymptomatic. And I thought that that was like really, really, really funny and dark. But I think that it’s about the same thing that I’m talking about with going into work every day. Obviously my commute is from my bedroom to the home office between the couch and sometimes a desk.
So I use that term loosely at the moment, but I think it’s about also having high levels of engagement in the rest of your life. Something else that happened to me at the beginning of COVID, that’s really informed well this year for everyone, but I think the future of my life is that I prior to COVID was someone who was socializing five or six nights a week, going out to dinner five or six nights a week.
That’s a success metric for me, being able to afford to go out for dinner in new York’s and not worrying about. How much it costs cause it’s not cheap. Right. So, but, but once again, that success metric is, is about experience for me, right? Like I’m not happy about the money itself. I’m happy about the fact that I can afford to experience good food with good friends on a regular basis.
And I think that that goes into that same, like I want high levels of engagement all the time with the things that I wanna be engaged and something that I realized at the beginning of COVID was that I, all of a sudden was forced to be self quarantined for. I think there was like times where I would open the door of my apartment and realized I hadn’t opened the door for times.
Like there was weird dark times in there and a lot of my friends were starting to go really stir crazy. And I had this kind of like rebirth where I had realized that I had not spent any time with myself years. Like for better or for worse. I had not just been alone for a day or two days, three days.
Other than being like sick. That’s the only time I’d be at home and in bed and, you know, rebuilding, but I had like a good month and a half of solitude and everyone was like, very, my family was very nervous for me, but it was, it was actually a really incredible experience for me because I got to really spend time with myself think, and you know, a lot of the thinking was just about how the state of the world and what the hell was I gonna do.
But I also had time to reflect and like read, you know, I read more in the first month than I have in years and really got to sort of like rebirth my brain and, and have the ability to decide what I want when go back. And I think like, yes, I still really love socializing, so that will be a big part of it.
But I also will now know going I’m back that I need to create alone time for myself to really rest mentally, physically and figure out what I want next steps.
Ismail: What a fantastic and thought provoking conversation. Nick, I, I definitely love the specific example of like going out to dinner with friends. I, I think a lot of times when you ask that question, people stick to very generic things.
So it’s helpful to have a specific example to tie those things too. Yeah.
[01:43:11] Thank You & Wrap up!
Ismail: Thanks so much for coming on the show, Nick, I, I enjoy the conversation and I’m sure people listening will as well.
Nicholas: Sounds good. I look forward to talking to you again very soon. Let’s let’s figure out another way for me to hop back on for another episode,
Ismail: maybe around two.
Let’s see. All right, Nick. Thanks so much. Talk to you soon then.
Nicholas: Yep. My pleasure.
Ismail: And there you have it. If you enjoy this episode, please remember to leave our review. I may even give you a shout out and reach yours out on the show for any and all resources that we discussed. Check out the show notes or head on over to bound to be rich.com until next time.