Travis Chambers makes scalable social videos and is responsible for 270 million views, 3 million social shares and $30M in sales for his clients.
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The $100 Startup – Travis’ Top Business Book
Media – Travis’ website
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3 Value Bombs
1) Utilize Facebook Groups to keep yourself up-to-date.
2) Don’t partner with anyone unless you completely share the same vision with them.
3) If others can do great things, ask yourself, “Why not you?”
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(click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)
[00:49] – Travis is married and has 2 kids
[01:21] – His area of expertise is in combining video production with social ad distribution
[01:37] – Share something we don’t know about your area of expertise that as Entrepreneurs, we probably should: Most entrepreneurs don’t realize the real power of video and ads spent. Join Facebook groups and be constantly up-to-date
[04:56] – Worst Entrepreneurial Moment: Travis started an agency. A year into the business, they’ve done about $700K in sales. They had a client that couldn’t pay because of the line of creditors after them. $60K worth to write-off’s was a huge amount for 3 partners splitting the profit. When his partners wouldn’t take the leap, Travis decided to separate and go solo – without the money
[06:25] – Being in debt is excruciatingly painful
[06:54] – Don’t partner with anyone unless you’ve worked with them for a long time
[07:33] – Partner based on work
[08:01] – Entrepreneurial AH-HA Moment: Travis was working on awesome campaigns with cool clients. Turkish Airlines said they made the most viral video of all time with 140M views, 2M shares, and did the largest user activation in history with over 650 influencers. Even though there was success, Travis didn’t feel he was following his purpose working long hours. He read a blog that talked about starting a service business before rolling out a product — and that’s what he did. Travis then started Media
[12:16] – “Why not you?”
[15:28] – The Lightning Round
- What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur? – “Fear and just not knowing I could do it”
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? – “Start with a service, live where you want to live, and do what you want to do”
- What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success? – “Constantly reinventing myself and my business model every 6 months”
- Share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation – Facebook Groups and LinkedIn
- If you could recommend one book to our listeners, what would it be and why? – The $100 Startup – “it completely changed my life”
[19:02] – “Live your life based on your non-work priorities”
Travis: I am so prepared.
Travis: Let’s do it.
John: Travis makes scalable social videos, and is responsible for 270 million views, 3 million social shares, and 30 million in sales for his clients. Travis, take a minute, fill in some gaps from that intro, and give us a little glimpse of your personal life.
Travis: I have two kids; I’m married; I swing between LA, Boise, and Salt Lake. Got a studio in Salt Lake. Live a teeny bit of a digital nomad lifestyle, to a degree. Within reason. But started a company three years ago, and it had its ups and downs, and here we are.
John: Well, we’re gonna be talking about those ups and downs—specifically the downs—coming up here in a minute, but first, what are you an expert in? What is your area of expertise at the highest level right now?
Travis: Combining video production with social ad distribution, specifically to drive sales.
John: Travis, what don’t we know about that? What is something that you just see us as entrepreneurs doing wrong, over and over again, that just makes you want to pull your hair out?
Travis: I think not understanding the importance of video, and understanding the power of social ad spend. I think all the – most entrepreneurs now know that they should be doing social ads, but still don’t – There’s so much to learn and to know about production. You used to have these huge agencies making five commercials a year. And now every entrepreneur is expected to do that every week. That is what – I wish entrepreneurs, I guess, would know more.
John: Well let me break in, because that’s much too broad, that’s much too surface-level. Let’s get down deep into a specific tactic or a tool that you just wish that we knew about or that’s working really well for you.
Travis: Oh, okay! Yeah yeah yeah, like an Internet resource. Facebook groups has been huge for me. Joining a lot of those groups – I’m in a lot of cryptocurrency groups, but also a lot of video marketing groups. Being constantly up to date on what is going on in my industry has been – that’s been a huge trick, tactic, help for me. It’s simple, but it’s been really powerful.
John: Right now Bitcoin’s down to under 12,000, and – What’s going on? Are you nervous about this?
Travis: I’m in good shape. I got in really early, and I’m very diversified. So I’m sitting pretty right now.
John: Now, what is diversified mean in the world of Bitcoin/crypto?
Travis: Just in a lot of different coins. I’m in the other main coins, but I’m in about a dozen alt-coins. Some of them I hold onto for the long haul because I think they’re gonna survive the bubble; others I churn on a two- or three-week basis.
John: Which ones do you think are gonna survive the bubble?
Travis: I think Ethereum is gonna survive, and I think there’s gonna be two or three of these other ones, potentially Cardano, Monero, IOTA. Ones like those. I don’t know which are gonna survive, but I think there’s gonna be three or four – just like the dot-com bubble. Amazon survived, and so did Priceline. There’s gonna be a few, I think, that survive, and I think the rest are gonna get pretty crushed.
John: What’s your long-term on Bitcoin?
Travis: I have no idea. I really have no idea. Some people say it’s like the outdated grandpa that got this thing going but isn’t gonna make it to the end. But other people think that it’s like this store of value that’s gonna survive all of its scaling problems. I really, really, really wish I knew, to be honest. But Bitcoin is the only holding I have held for multiple months. Everything else I’ve churned and burned pretty hard.
John: Well, Fire Nation, going back to the core message that Travis is sharing here: Get into Facebook groups that are in areas that you’re interested in, that you want to learn more about. Keep your finger on the pulse, because how else are you gonna learn the latest and the greatest? You want to be on that cutting edge of information and of knowledge in whatever field you’re in, whatever field interests you.
So Travis, let’s now get to those down moments that we kind of briefly touched upon. And not just the down, but the worst entrepreneurial moment you’ve experienced to date. So take us to that moment, Travis; tell us that story.
Travis: This is a perfect question, because I just wrote this story on LinkedIn and it went viral; like 4,000 likes. It went crazy.
So I had done – I had started this agency, we were a year in; we had done over $700,000 in sales. Which was – it surprised me. I didn’t think it was gonna work. And we had a client who we found out could not pay because there was a line of banks and investors, and they were so in the hole on our net 30 that they couldn’t pay. They owned us $60,000. And at the time, splitting between three partners, that was a lot.
My two partners were still full time at their jobs, and they still would not make the leap. So they had their salaries. Between us three they had a majority of the profit. And so I was the one out fighting the battles every day. And they still wouldn’t jump. So I had to separate. I couldn’t afford their buyout price, I didn’t have the money, and I had to basically start over. And I was in the hole tens of thousands of dollars, after feeling like I had just found a goldmine. And the whole thing just caved in and I had to find another one and to completely start over.
And that’s what I did, and we doubled revenue every year since then.
John: So what’s the biggest lesson you took away from that story, and why do you think it kinda went viral in the LinkedIn community and garnered all those likes?
Travis: A lot of us entrepreneurs have been in the hole, first of all. It’s excruciating. You cannot enjoy anything. It takes over your life.
And then, breaking up with partners is like – it’s akin to a divorce, on a smaller level. So you’re going through all this emotional pain of something you thought was gonna work. You’re feeling kinda betrayed.
And my partners, they’re good guys, it wasn’t like they’re bad guys. It just – we had a different vision. And I think the lesson there is just don’t partner with anyone unless you’ve known them for a really long time, and you have got the same exact vision and the same plan. And then you have to just realize, it may not last.
I went on my own, and I eventually gave my partner—my intern at the time became an employee—and this year I gave him equity in the company. Just gifted it to him. Because I think that is a good way to have partners. Reward the people that have got you there. You know what I mean? And don’t partner with someone based on speculation, partner based on work. Who’s gonna do the work? And who’s gonna really bring the rain, at the end of the day?
John: So let’s talk about one of the greatest ideas you’ve had to date now. I mean, of course getting into crypto early was a great idea, and hopefully you maintain a long-term position that benefits you greatly down the road. But let’s talk about one of those “aha” moments. Take us to that story, and kinda walk us through that great idea. But then, more importantly, how did you turn it into a success?
Travis: I had gotten into the ad agency of the decade, Crispin Porter + Bogusky in LA, and I’m working on these awesome campaigns with these cool clients. Turkish Airline says, “We want the most viral video of all time.”
I had prepared myself for that moment, and we made it happen. 140 million views, over 2 million shares. We did the largest influencer activation in history with over 650 influencers. We had over 6,000 press features. It was the most amazing success, still, to date, I think, of my career.
And it never had even dawned on me that maybe I was an entrepreneur. But then I started to get kinda worn down by the hours, the commute. And there was just something inside of me that I realized, I wasn’t fulfilling my destiny, per se. I read The 4-Hour Work Week, and honestly, I was like, this is a crock. Come on. This is not reality here. But there was something true about the concept.
And after that I could not stop thinking about entrepreneurship, starting my own company. Which had never, ever been in my life plan. My dad was a corporate guy, climbed the ladder; that’s what I was trained to do. Didn’t have any entrepreneurs in my life. No one that I associated with or my family.
And then I read The $100 Startup. And it’s just a book full of stories of people who started companies with $100. And that was what was blocking me in my mind, is I just thought, well, entrepreneurship, starting companies – that’s for other people with certain life experiences. That’s not me.
I saw a friend of mine, Jake Larson, he had a YouTube ad-buying agency, and it was working for him. And then I read a blog post by James Altatriv that said, “Start with a service before you roll out a product.” And I thought, man, between all of these things I’ve just learned and seen, I’m just gonna start with a service. I just had this huge campaign that was wildly successful – I’m gonna go ahead and productize all these things I did on this project and make it into a unique agency offering. And just start with a service.
And I made the leap, and it was hard; by the time we got our first big client, my credit cards were maxed out. It’d been a few months. But it worked. It happened. And I just jumped off the cliff, made the leap, and it’s paid dividends with time I’ve spent with my family, how I’ve been able to develop in a way I just never could have as an employee.
John: So what was the concept that you really thought was a crock in The 4-Hour Work Week?
Travis: The four-hour part.
John: Which was what, if you could describe it?
Travis: I believe that working four hours a week and making a good income – I think it’s probably possible, and maybe if someone has a really amazing info-product, or they’ve developed an ecommerce company and they’ve put people in place and they can sit back, they’re taking a back seat – But I think for a majority of businesses, I don’t think you can work four hours a week and make the money you want.
John: Well I also agree with that comment, but I actually saw the concept of the four-hour workweek not as that at all, but the concept being, hey, why not take what you’re doing with your crappy systems and your inefficiencies, and learn how to get that down to the four hours a week, so that you can use the other 30, 40, 60, however many hours you want to work doing something that you enjoy. Or a big picture that can really hit a home run and a grand slam. That’s kinda what I thought was the concept of The 4-Hour Work Week.
Travis: And I took it as that too. And I took it as – like, “I’m working 60 hours a week now. Hey, maybe I could work 35 hours a week, like a normal human being.” And there’s not a lot of those jobs in the ad industry, right? From the experiences and the tools that I had available to me, I was like, okay. The four-hour thing’s not gonna happen for me. But if I could make the 35-hour thing happen, and I can choose when I’m working, and I can work remotely? Then I’m happy.
John: Let me challenge you, Travis. In just one sentence, what do you want us to get from the “aha” moment that you have? What do you think the biggest takeaway is for Fire Nation?
Travis: Why not you? There’s all these people around you that have started their own companies and they’re doing really well and they’re finding ways to do the things they want to do. If they wanna run an Ironman, or they wanna write a book, or – All these people are doing these things. There is no reason that it can’t be you. It doesn’t matter what your life experience is, or who you know, who you don’t. The Internet has made all this information accessible.
John: Why not you, Fire Nation? Why not you?
Travis: Why not you?
John: So we’re about to entire the Lighting Round. And of course, Travis is going to keep dropping value bombs. So don’t you go anywhere, and we’ll be back – when we get back from thanking our sponsors.
Travis, are you ready to rock the Lighting Round?
Travis: Let’s do it.
John: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Travis: Fear, and just not knowing I could do it.
John: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Travis: Start with a service, live where you wanna live, and do what you wanna do.
John: Let’s kinda maybe talk for just one minute, just quickly, about a service. What does that mean to you, exactly?
Travis: Figure out a way to take what your skill is and sell that to somebody. And leverage that to do all the things you wanna do. That’s what I did: I took a skill that I developed, I leveraged it into a productized service. Now I have capital—three years later, now I have capital—and now I can launch actual products without needing investors or funding.
John: Fire Nation, I’ve said this before: Do things that don’t scale. If you’re willing at first to do things that don’t scale, then you will learn what the real pain-points are. What the real obstacles and challenges of your clients are that you’re providing this service to, and you’ll make some revenue, and then you can actually launch something that does scale down the road. Something that actually has a chance to succeed.
Now Travis, what’s a personal habit that contributes to your success?
Travis: Constantly reinventing myself and my whole business model every six months. I’m in the media industry, and it changes so quickly. These algorithms change. We used to do ad-buying only, then we started doing influencer marketing, then that got taken over by tech tools—we realized we weren’t that valuable in doing that. Then we changed to doing video and direct response. Now we’re focusing on the whole sales funnel for clients. If we wouldn’t have reinvented ourselves and innovated every six months, we would have been dead.
John: Fire Nation, you gotta stay cutting edge. You have to have your finger on that pulse. Now, recommend one Internet resource.
Travis: Once again, I’m gonna say Facebook groups. I know that – I sorta said that, but it has been the biggest resource for me. In getting to know people in my industry, and that has – it has introduced to podcasts.
And the other thing I’d say is LinkedIn. LinkedIn is giving so much retread right now. Two of my last three status updates have over 4,000 likes. That’s just inanity. It’s insane. That’s for five paragraphs of text. Use LinkedIn; it’s incredible for reach, if you’re in an industry where you need reach and you need people to know who you are as a person.
I was really focusing on my agency brand. The second I started doing the Gary Vaynerchuk thing and focusing on my personal brand, it started working way, way better.
John: Recommend one book and share why.
Travis: $100 Startup. It completely changed my life. It made me realize exactly what you said; I didn’t need to start with something scalable, I didn’t need to have capital, I didn’t need to know certain people. With $100, I could start offering a service and start making revenue day one.
John: Fire Nation, I know you love audio, and if you’re not an Audible member, get that book for free at eofirebook.com.
Travis, let’s end on fire so give us a parting piece of guidance, the best way that we can connect with, you and then we’ll say goodbye.
Travis: You can check out my podcast, “How I Sold Your Attention,” which you can hear a more in-depth version of my story. And then the other best place is LinkedIn. Just look up Travis Chambers on LinkedIn. I’ve got Forbes 30 Under 30 listed there in the job title in my self-promotion ways. And you’ll find me there.
John: Parting piece of guidance?
Travis: Live your life based on your non-work priorities. Family, friends, and being able to do things you want. And don’t just work your life away and let it pass you by.
John: God, I love that. And it’s something that’s becoming so real to me, Fire Nation. You have to keep that at the forefront of that cranium of yours.
And you’re the average, Fire Nation, of the five people you spend the most time with. You’ve been hanging out with TC and JLD today. So keep up the heat and head over to eofire.com, just type “Travis” in the search bar. His show notes page will pop up with everything that we’ve been talking about today. These are the best show notes in the biz. Timestamps, links galore. And how could you not listen to a podcast that’s called, “How I Sold Your Attention?” Check out.
Travis, thank you for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. For that, brother, we salute you, and we’ll catch you on the flip side.
Travis: Thank you.
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