Skip the Content Gurus and Trust Yourself

Jay Acunzo, Keynote Speaker and Show Host of Unthinkable, joins the Content Pros Podcast to discuss the importance of finding and trusting your intuition when it comes to creating standout content.

In This Episode:

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Full Episode Details

You Know More Than You Think

Part of being a successful content marketer is being resourceful and learning from the best in your field. There are many gurus and specialists out there that are more than willing to share their knowledge and experience with you.

Sometimes, however, the best guru is the one you already know: yourself.

You don’t have to be a keynote speaker or published author to count yourself as a specialist in your area. Nobody knows your audience better than you, and it can be difficult to remember that when you are listening to a pitch by somebody who has done a fancy TED talk or lists “best-selling author” on their resume.

Trusting your intuition is not easy and does not come naturally for many people. But understanding and appreciating your position as the authority on what your audience truly needs for content can free you to become the best content marketer for your business.

In This Episode

  • Why reliably creating great content means realistically wielding intuition
  • How stopping asking questions leads to finding the right answers for content
  • Why getting the best advice means pushing back and asking questions of the experts
  • How the Cinderella story arc sets up a successful podcast series

 

Quotes From This Episode

Nobody actually sets out to do average work, but a lot of our work ends up average. Click To Tweet

“What makes each person an exception is their own intuition.” —@jayacunzo

“If you want to be exceptional, you can rely on your intuition because it’s what makes you an exception.” —@jayacunzo

I’m challenging this idea that intuition something you have or don’t have.” —@jayacunzo

It's not about other's answers. It's about you asking the right questions. Click To Tweet

“If you switch the phrase from intuition to thinking for yourself, then the question becomes, ‘Who should think for yourself inside the business?'” —@jayacunzo

“There’s a lot of, not standing on the shoulders of giants going on, but leaning against them like a crutch.” —@jayacunzo

“Now it is not only about thinking for yourself, it’s also about differentiation in a marketplace full of copy cats.” —@jayacunzo

Resources

 

Content Pros Lightning Round

Tell us about your history in sports and if it still plays a role in your life. I started trying to be a sports journalist in college. I wrote for the student papers, local print publications in small towns in Connecticut, a big city paper, and then ESPN. Sports are such a great microcosm of life, and so you can build up all these big tropes and themes, like the hero’s journey story structure, but through the lens of an athlete’s life.

You could be a sports writer, you could also be a professional model though from what I understand. Maybe you could tell us a little bit about that. I guess, if you consider getting paid the qualification to be considered a professional at something, then I am a professional model. But I by no means would be able to make it in the actual industry. My blue steel stare face is not that good I think.

Transcript

Randy: Welcome to another episode of Content Pros. I am Randy Frisch from Uberflip. As always, I’ve got Tyler Lessard joining be from Vidyard, and today on Content Pros we have an amazing guest. Someone I’ve known for awhile, someone who’s been at some great companies along the way, companies like HubSpot, which I think is where Jay Acunzo and I originally met. Today Jay’s going to talk to us all about how we can own the idea of an episode or a series of content that we can create on all different forms out there. We’ll dig into a lot of that today. Tyler, you want to tell us a little bit more about Jay before we bring him in?
Tyler: Well I am super stoked to have Jay with us because he’s, I think, a real thought leader in an area that’s near and dear to my heart, which is when it comes to content, today, good isn’t good enough and we need to think outside the box and we need to strive to be truly remarkable and exceptional in what we create. One of the pieces I’ve always found missing is what’s the methodology to get there? I know the ideas. I want to do something amazing, but I don’t know quite how to get there. So that’s one of the things I’m excited to peel back here today. Jay, why don’t you go ahead and introduce yourself and talk a little bit about the Unthinkable podcast and what that’s all about.
Jay: Sure, thank you for having me and thank you everybody who’s listening for listening. You have many podcast choices here on the Internets and I appreciate you choosing this one.

I mean that kind of just reveals a little bit about who I am. I kind of make a living with words. It started as writing. I worked in Sports Journalism, and then switched into marketing at Google, and a startup no one’s ever heard of, and then HubSpot. Then, the final stop in my career that had bosses involved was at a venture capital firm where I ran their branding and their content.

But now I’m out on my own and I basically spend time across three categories of things, public speaking and creating, hosting, or producing original series, which you mentioned in the intro, for brands, and then hosting my weekly series called Unthinkable. It’s a podcast that basically explores this idea of intuition and what it is and how we can use it in our marketing in a way that’s proactive and practical. There’s a lot of squishy-ness around this idea of intuition, but I’ve always found it fascinating when, for example, an individual writer can look at a blank piece of paper or a blank screen and be like, “Aha! I have it. This is what we should write,” and another writer down the hall takes hours and hours pouring over keyword research and talking to people and still can’t come up with it. So there’s something about that first person that I’ve always been fascinated by and want to explore. How do people pull out answers from within? That’s kind of the topic of the show.

Tyler: So you’ve been doing a lot of great content in that area for a little while now, and I’m curious, of the various topics you’ve explored, the people you’ve talked to, the research that you’ve done, as it relates to this idea of intuition and it’s role in the content development experience, what are a couple of things that you’ve really learned along the way? If there are two to three takeaways that, and it’s probably many more … But are there a couple of things that have really popped that you really like to share as the best practices or the real standouts that people can think about as they’re trying to understand when and how can I embrace intuition more in what I’m doing?
Jay: Where this started was really this phrase that a friend gave me. I was kind of upset about some of the ways that marketing was treating the creative and the substance of content. We were having beers, as so many of these conversations go, and I was complaining, and he just paused me and he’s like, “Jay. You want to work with people who are bothered by suck,” and I was like, “Okay. Yeah. That’s a great way to describe it.”

So I started think about why is there is so much average stuff out there? Nobody actually sets out to do average work, but a lot of our work ends up average. When you talk to people they’re like, “Well, I actually do aspire to do better work. I want to do something exceptional.” So I’m focused on that gap between the two. It’s never been easier to just figure out what the average is because you can ask somebody on social or Google it or go to YouTube and find a tutorial. So average is not our problem. Our problem is going from average to exceptional. If you look at the word “exceptional,” again I do the words thing for a living, so I’m fascinated by the make up of a word, exceptional has that root word “exception.” So what makes each person an exception is their own intuition.

If I handed in an assignment of a blog post to a hundred different content marketers and I gave them 90% of the draft and the same headline, those hundred people would return 100 different articles because each individual would have a different sense or style or taste or creativity, whatever you want to call it, to produce the final piece even though that piece just requires just a little bit of polish. So I’m fascinated by how, if you want to be exceptional, you can rely on your intuition because it’s what makes you an exception.

So that’s kind of the why. Why is this interesting? Why do we need to talk more about it? We have plenty of tools. We have plenty of how to. I think this is sort of the “how to think.” Now that you have the why, you go over to the how and the what and that’s where things fall of the rails because it’s all over the place. It’s totally murky and quite frankly, hard to just hold in your hand.

So you have everything from Einstein, who you wouldn’t suggest as a person who would talk about intuition. He has a quote calling intuition your “most sacred gift,” and he said, “The rational mind is a servant of that gift.” The quote’s in debate but people mostly attribute it to Einstein. Then you have social scientists or authors who think about that stuff like Gladwell. Malcolm Gladwell in Blink talks about rapid cognition or snap judgments. It’s just, whether it’s internal guides or the creative muse, it just doesn’t ground itself in reality. So I’m sorting through all of this mess trying to be like, “Okay, how do we actually ground intuition in reality?” I’d like to hold it in my hand and wield it proactively, not just throw myself against a problem and rely on the fact that, “Oh your brain does magical things.” That’s just not satisfactory to me, especially in the workplace.

Randy: Jay, just to jump in there, it’s funny. I mean, as people are listening to this and they’re trying to relate, I’m going back to high school and I’m thinking, remember when we all used to get up there and do that public speaking or the debate where we had to actually write out our whole thesis and then debate it out loud and everyone from the class debated the same thing? So to your point, you have a hundred different perspectives, and some people were just naturally great at this. You could just see them thriving up there. Some of us were not, but our teachers were telling us, “No worries. You practice. You’re going to get better.”

So here’s my question to you. Can people get more intuitive over time? Is this idea of intuition either something that we have or don’t have? Or is it something that you believe that we can hone those skills?

Jay: That’s what I’m challenging. I’m challenging this idea that it’s something you have or don’t have. On my show, for example, we’ve done episodes about the muse and why in Ancient Greek times people would evoke the muse because they didn’t believe they had the power to be creative, and then you fast forward to today and people still have that problem, but maybe they just don’t look for a deity, they look for an expert or for a guru or for a secret. I think what it boils down to for me is, again, like I went with the root word of exceptional, the root word of intuition in Latin is intuir, and all that means is knowledge from within.

So, that’s not so scary. That’s also pretty grounded in reality. How do you find knowledge from within yourself, your team, your own specific context, your customers as opposed to everybody else’s? It’s not about finding everybody else’s answers for things, and there’s plenty of those flying around the blogosphere, podcasts, etcetera. It’s not about other’s answers. It’s about you asking the right questions.

So I think if you flip the script from, “I’m out to find an answer. I’m out to find the hack, the cheat, the secret, the best practice,” over to, “I need to ask myself the right questions or my team the right questions. We can start pulling out answers from within,” and I think that’s what intuition is. It’s just the ability to pull out those answers from within or if you want to say it another way, in an era full of experts, it’s the process of thinking for yourself.

Tyler: So, Jay, as you talk about that. I recognized within our own team, we try to practice this as much as we can to try to bring out the creative aspects within our team and challenge our various folks to think a little bit differently, to bring their own personal humanity to these challenges. Sometimes I struggle with who, within the creative process, should be embracing intuition and my gut says the answer is probably everybody. But we’ve got content marketers and writers. We’ve got designers. We’ve got product marketers who are pitching and messaging ideas. We have executives who have their own perspective. Is intuition a part of everybody’s job within the creative process? And are there those where’d you say, “You know what? You’ve have great intuition. You should really be at this nexus of the creative process, whether it’s the writing or the design.” Where do you see the most value come from those people who seem to have a great grasp of using their intuition wisely?
Jay: Yeah, let’s switch the phrase. I mean it’s a great question, but if you switch the phrase from intuition to thinking for yourself. Then the question becomes, “Who should think for yourself inside the business?” And I’d hope most companies would say everybody, right? Obviously you have some corporations that you might point to from the outside and be like, “Those people treat their employees like cogs,” but I would assume everybody listening to this show is thinking, “Yeah, I’d like to think for myself. I’d like to come up with better, more differentiated answers and ideas, and I’d like my team and my boss, my peers, my direct reports to do that too.”

So I don’t think it’s … It’s not so much that it’s a tool or a job, it’s just a way of thinking and the way of thinking is important today because today we have access to all this expert advice, all these list articles. We just have so much stuff telling us, instructing us what we should do, and we have to blend that with our ability to think for ourselves. There’s a lot of, not standing on the shoulders of giants going on, but leaning against them like a crutch. It’s like this is the guru, this is his or her answers for things, let me just do that. You need to start asking questions. Does that make sense in my context? What about my team? Are we equipped to do something like that? They’re saying that podcasts are great as, whatever, emotional, story-driven NPR shows or interviews. Is that true? Aren’t there other formats? Just asking questions starts to unleash your own ability to think for yourself.

So, to answer your question, I think it’s everybody’s responsibility to do that in any job and if you do have a creative production-related job, it becomes all that more important. Because now, is it not only about thinking for yourself, it’s also about differentiation in a marketplace full of copy cats.

Tyler: Yeah, and I couldn’t agree more on the differentiation requirement these days. There’s a ton of … Problem is everybody’s a content producer now. What we certainly find is to stand out, you’ve got to be interesting, you’ve got to be different, and I think you’ve got to be a lot more human in what you’re creating and frankly how you’re thinking about it, which I think aligns with much of what you’re saying. One of those things that you’ve started to do, and hopefully this was based on intuition from your side, was to look at new formats of content. I know you’re a big advocate of content series as something that brand should be thinking about as opposed to producing one off content pieces here and there. Thinking about where and how can you dive into a series of content, whether that be threaded based on the type of medium, the type of topic, the type of audience you’re going after.

So I’d be interested in exploring that a little bit and getting your perspective on why are you leaning so far into this idea of series of content and really where did it start from?

Jay: I think it was the convergence of two things in my world that lead me there. So one is I’ve been in tech and internet start ups or an internet VC for my whole career. So in tech, at really good tech companies, the most revered people or the people who have seemingly the most important role are product managers because they’re like mini CEOs over the product. They have to understand the customer’s view, the engineering, the marketing, just the design, everything. And product managers, and companies that build great products, do not stop at just acquiring users or customers for those products, they spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about the retention of those people.

There’s all this business model and financial forecasting you can do to understand why that’s so crucial. But, for example, when I was working for HubSpot as a software service company, the golden goose is to reach something called negative churn, which if you’ve been in SaS is like the holy grail. You want more people to be upgrading and spending more money than churning off of your product, in terms of the revenue provided by the business. So let’s just put a pin in that. So product people are really focused on retention.

The other thing is if you look at attention in the world. So people are getting more distracted. It’s harder to acquire people’s attention, and as a result, a lot of marketing is focused on just getting in front of people, getting you to stop long enough to hear me out.

If you blend the two together, I think where you land is you really need as a marketer to think more about, not attention acquisition, that’s important, but attention retention. In other words, it’s never been easier to get in front of people. We just have so many channels, so many way, and so many methodologies, but it’s really really hard to get people to pay attention over time, and that is the time you need to convert people, to build relationship, to upsell them to more content, to a subscription, to a product, whatever your goal is.

So product people are great at doing this. Content often mimics product, but late to the game. So I think an original series, something that ties together and uses good story telling technique to drive people from the moment of, “I’m paying attention now. You’ve acquired my attention,” to “over time, I’m going to come back and consume repeatedly. I think that is where we move from content marketing as a glorified replacement for banner ads, one piece, one spot, to content marketing as true media. I’m going to gain your attention and earn your trust over time.

Randy: Jay, that makes so much sense, and I love the way that you simplify that for people. I think it’s something that as all of us learn about content marketing, as you pointed out, we start off with just creating individual content marketing assets. This is really getting to that idea of, “How do we tie it all together?” So, I want to dig deeper into this. I mean, for a lot of people who are just starting out with content marketing, before they get to this point of understanding how it all comes together, I also want to call everyone to a great class that Jay Baer has put together.

So, Jay Baer is the man behind Convince and Convert. Content Pros is part of the Convince and Convert family of content that’s created. So we’re a series ourselves, and Jay’s actually put together an amazing course called the Content Marketing Class. If you go to contentmarketingclass.com, you’ll be able to sign up and actually start to learn some of the basics that Jay’s talking about right now, the Jay on this podcast, not the Jay Baer. Then, once you do that and once you hear from a couple of our other sponsors right now, we’ll be right back to dig a little bit deeper into this idea of how do we acquire and retain people.

We’re back on Content Pros with Jay Acunzo and we’re digging into this idea of attention and retention and the idea that with our content, we shouldn’t just spend time getting people in but actually spend time getting them to stick around. This all ties back to the idea of creating a series. It’s interesting, as you talk about this Jay, because as you do so, I think of the modern definitions of series we’re all use to even outside of how we educate ourselves professionally. Netflix has kind of redefined the idea of the idea of a series and the idea that we start with one piece and we’re not done. They suck us in, too. As you described it, not just take a piece down, but retention, keeping us around, getting us to consume more. So what are some of the easy tricks that you’ve seen that people have been able to do to create that in the world of content marketing.

Jay: Yeah, let’s get people to stop hyperventilating into paper bags when they’re like, “Wait, really? I have to create this pillar series now? I’m struggling just to put a piece on my blog. Okay, we can calm down. I think Tyler had a good point earlier, which is, how do you actually go from okay stuff to great stuff? We all think to ourselves, yeah we need great content. But then all the teaching that goes on and all the practicality in our industry seems to be based on distribution and measurement. So, the good news, the reason I want you to stop breathing heavily into that paper bag is that this is teachable stuff. You can zoom into the insides of your container, the episode of podcast, the strung together episodes of a series, and you can actually break it up into component parts and learn it in the way you’ve learned marketing and how to use different tools and channels.

So every single business should, and this is where it would fall apart if you don’t, should have a story they want to tell that’s differentiated from the market place, and story itself has a lot of different frameworks. But the best place to start here isn’t the series and it isn’t blogging or individual pieces, it’s the thing that underpins all of that. What is your companies story? There’s three parts to a story, a status quo, conflict, and a resolution.

So, status quo. People today are trying to get in front of other customers and everybody’s struggling to build a relationship with your audience. That’s not a story. I just gave you a fact. Status quo.

Conflict. But while you try doing that, you realize it’s never been harder to compete for that attention because there’s so much media flying all over screens on mobile phones, on laptops, on desktops. There’s just so much stuff that people access via screens. How can you reach them during work or during their leisure consumption time?

All right, resolution might be something like, try a podcast because audio can reach people when they’re not staring at a screen. It’s a multitasking vehicle. You can reach them at the gym or on their commute or whatever.

Now, I haven’t said, “I have a product for podcasting.” Personally, I don’t, that’s just an example. But I could say, “Hey, if you like that story. That’s my company’s story. If you agree with it, if that’s your story, well I have a product to talk to you about.” So you need that first story, status quo, conflict, and resolution. Then the next step is okay, how do we manifest the story into the world, individual pieces, fine, but if you do an original series, now you have something to mold into this step by step episodic installation of that story.

So I want to stop there. We haven’t gone into series yet, but you need that first story for a series to work. Does that makes sense?

Randy: That make a lot of sense, yeah. I think if people are trying to visualize that, if they Google, I think it’s classic story arc, is usually you end up seeing exactly what you’re talking about there, right? Where it’s very much like Cinderella. The status quo I think was terrible stepsisters who were persecuting her and all these terrible days. You’ve got the conflict which is her going to the ball, but things don’t work out as planned, and then the resolution is the glass slipper, right?
Jay: Right, right, and let’s say we mashed together your two companies. So we’ve got Vidyard and we have Uberflip and it becomes Vidflip, and it’s all about experiential content. Great experiences. That’s your resolution to your company’s story is you need to make your content a great experience. If somebody believes that or likes that story, you can then upsell them very easily from, “Yeah, that’s the resolution this story, experiences, to oh by the way, we have a product that does that, or we have more content to teach you that, or we have this brand you might want to subscribe to. Story is wonderful to move people along a journey, to hold their attention, and then if you’re thinking sales and marketing, it’s an upsell vehicle because you’re already mentally prepared for me to give you that call to action.
Tyler: So how do you take that story arc and … I think people can easily conceptualize, “Great. I can take that. I can write a piece. I can write a single e-book, or a guide, or produce a video.” But how do you think about now taking that story and in practice, turning it into a flourishing, repeatable set of content that is going to help not only draw people in, but back to our point, retain them and bring them back in? Is it about exposing depth at different layers throughout a period of time or what are your ideas about how you manifest that now into episodic content that feeds your engine and keeps people engaged?
Jay: Sure. So the first thing to do is not to start with the medium. That’s probably most tempting for most people listening, is I’m going to start a podcast or a video series. That comes last and that actually gets decided for you based on a number for things we’ll talk about. But, the first thing, is you need to hone this concept of the series. The reason I think TV executives, for example, throw up so many pilots during pilot season is they hear the same kind of pitch over and over again, but it is actually really effective, which is we’re going to create a show, a series, which is this meets that. That’s a very easy place to start creating a series. This meets that. So my show, Unthinkable, it’s basically, I don’t know, This American Life meets Marketing. That’s kind of the hook for my show. So the first thing you need to get is a hook. Basically, it’s a way to reel somebody in in the moment, because you can distinctly articulate a reason to subscribe and it keeps them engaged over time.

So if I were to say to you that science is a very popular podcasting topic, don’t launch a show in science. Well Gimlet Media in New York, last year launched Science Vs. They have a tremendous hook. The hook is pitting the facts against popular trends. Nobody else is doing that. They could come up with a generic, yet another science show in the way that a lot of B2B shows, it’s yet another marketing show, yet another sales show. But instead, they just took an angle on it. They have a hook.

So if I see the episode today is Organic Foods, I know they’re going to pit the facts against organic foods. But I see a different one tomorrow and the next day, and I’m lighting up. I’m like, “Oh, I totally get the concept of this show,” and I can decide very easily if I want to listen today and subscribe over time. So the first thing you need is a hook, and I mentioned a very easy way to come up with one which is basically just mashing up something you admire from outside your echo chamber with your topic or your industry.

Tyler: You know, we recently had Oli Gardner from Unbounce on the podcast, and one of the things we had talked about that I thought he had done so successfully was created a series around videos of him critiquing people’s landing pages live on camera, where he would go in and talk about a campaign and look at how you would orchestrated it, and then provide some very candid feedback on things that could be done better or otherwise.

When I dove into that, and I first started, watched the first episode, exactly to your point. I think I got really pulled in and it wasn’t because the content itself was miraculous or the medium was incredible, it was the hook and the tension that was created by taking these live examples and then dissecting them and thinking through, “how does this really work?” I think he did a great job of exactly that, bringing a hook to that idea. All he was trying to show was best practices for landing pages, but bringing that hook and that tension of doing something live and dissecting somebody else’s pages and giving specific examples, I think, was done super well, and he mentioned that’s been their most effective campaign. So, a great example. Have you seen other types of examples that can sort of bring this to life for people that can help them conceptualize different types of episodic content?

Jay: Yeah, so if you look at social media, obviously there’s a ton of social media podcasts and I think the longest running is from Michael Stelzner. So he just basically has this social media marketing podcast. Now, he didn’t need a hook because he was basically first. So if you’re first, you have a lot of advantages. Very few categories have a first left to claim. So what you end up doing if you launch yet another show is your yet another show just generically talking about your topic. So this hook is a differentiating factor.

So in social media, you can’t just do a yet another social media marketing show. So along comes Buffer, and Buffer creates the Science of Social Media show. And if they’re competing with Hootsuite, Hootsuite either had a show or maybe still does, there’s was kind of yet another social media marketing show. It didn’t have a hook. It didn’t articulate how it was any different, and basically the hook becomes the brand, so if you already like or know the brand, okay, I might listen to that show. But Buffer has this great name, the Science of Social Media. So if I’m really into optimization, if I’m really into efficiencies, I might want to subscribe to that show.

Now what does their product do? It helps you with optimization. It helps you with efficiencies. It all aligns across the brand, not only from their product to their marketing, but from their marketing assets stand alone blog posts, to their assets to their series. It all aligns. So that’s a great example of a hook. There’s so much stuff in that industry. There’s so much stuff in that niche, but if I just say to you it’s the science of social media, your brain is already starting to turn and you’re deciding mentally is that for you or not.

Randy: Well let’s all agree that amongst the three of us, so that none of us get in trouble with Jay Baer later, that the best of the social media podcasts out there is Social Pros. I think the hook alone there is Jay Baer. So …
Tyler: Your Jay Baer …
Randy: I’m just making sure I have a backup job as a podcast guy.
Jay: Now, I don’t know if Jay listens to this, but if Jay is listening, imagine what Jay could do. If Jay Baer had Social Pros and put a firm hook on that show because then you have Jay Baer and an amazing hook? Like oh my god, stand back, the world is your oyster. Someone who does this really well is Anthony Bourdain. Anthony Bourdain is a big name. So you could have “The Travel Show with Anthony Bourdain,” and literally millions of people would watch. It’s also on CNN, so that’s helpful. But Anthony Bourdain’s show has a hook. It’s called, “Parts Unknown.” So you immediately are like, “Oh, they’re going to visit parts of stuff, maybe the world, maybe our country. They’re going to travel to things and see things and do things and taste things that are unknown until they do it.” That’s a hook. And you have a formula for how to create an episode with that hook that him and his writers have come up with. So I could go and host his show, it’d be about a .01 out of 10 compared to his 10, but there’s like content IP. It’s not just dependent on the name.
Tyler: Gotcha.
Jay: This is where marketing falls flat. It’s always dependent on the name. That’s a mistake. Because once you’ve had the not ready for prime time players in your industry on the show once, where else do you go? It’s just going to get worse, and worse, and worse. So don’t depend on the name as much, get a hook. And if you’re Jay Baer and you had a hook, oh my God, world domination.
Randy: Well listen, I’m now kind of curious what you think our hook is here at Content Pros or what it should be. One of them that we always have is at the end or towards the end of a podcast, we get to know the person who’s joining us. So Tyler and I’ve been doing some digging on you to try and get to know you and make sure everyone tuning here knows a little bit behind yourself. Digging up, what’s interesting is, you’ve dropped a lot of analogies today. I love metaphors too,. I love analogies. Amazingly, none of them have been sports analogies, but you do have a history in sports. So, tell us how that happened and how you’ve managed to move away from there or if it still plays a role in your life.
Jay: Yeah, very good digging. So it does play a role, I’ll get to that, but I started trying to be a sports journalist. In college I wrote for the student papers, local print publications in small towns in Connecticut, a big city paper, and then ESPN.
Randy: That’s a small organization.
Jay: Small little paper. Yeah, a little … I think it’s a weekly. And I won a scholarship for it in school as well. That was just what I loved. And the thing I’ve kept with me is the reason I was doing it in the first place … Yes, I love sports. Yes, I’m a fan, and I do love games. But what I really loved were these really dramatic and almost cheesy stories about athletes. Because sports are such a great microcosm of life, and so you can build up all these big tropes and themes, like the hero’s journey story structure, but through the lens of an athlete’s life. So what I’ve taken with me from my days in sports is kind of like my north star with the stuff I create, which is just … It’s a very simple phrase I keep in the back of my mind which is, “Make them feel.” Like make people feel deep, big, complex, messy emotions with what you make. That’s something I just tore out of the sports world from all those big feature pieces or videos that I used to admire.
Randy: That’s awesome. It’s funny, digging deeper on you, and I already alluded to before when I was kissing Jay Baer’s butt in terms of keeping this as my back up, you seem to have a lot of back up options. You could be a sports writer, you could also be a professional model though from what I understand. Maybe you could tell us a little bit about that. I definitely don’t have that as an option. Tyler, I don’t know. You have a better chance than me. But how does that come to be?
Jay: Well, I’ll save you because right now people are like, “Is Randy hitting on him? What’s going on?” The reason you’re bringing that up is I guess, if you consider getting paid the qualification to be considered a professional at something, then I am a professional model. So when I was a kid, I think 10 or 12 years old something in that range, I used to take cooking lessons from one of my mom’s friends. Just fun, weekly things we would do for a few weeks in a row, and she started getting interested in making cooking show.

So I was actually on the pilot they used. It never went anywhere. It never went public. Part of the process of shooting the pilot, was to take photos to help promote the idea behind the show to networks. So I was standing next to these child size salt and pepper shakers and holding up oversized spatulas and leaning up against them, and I had people telling me, “turn this way, turn that way.” Then, I got a small check that my mom promptly deposited somewhere into a bank account. I never saw it because I was 10.

So, technically speaking, yes I suppose I am a professional model, but I by no means would be able to make it in the actual industry. My blue steel stare face is not that good I think.

Randy: Oh, nice. Nice drop of Blue Steel. You just won a lot of our listeners over, I’m sure there. A little Zoolander drop. Jay, this has been so much fun. Maybe you can just share one last thing with us which is where can people follow you more in terms of podcasts, in terms of content, what is the destination to hook them in?
Jay: I think it’s my most fun project, and I think it’s my best as well. It’s my podcast, Unthinkable, and you can get that at Unthinkable.fm for the email subscription option or wherever you get your shows. So the name of that show is Unthinkable, very story, very high production type of show.
Randy: Amazing Jay, and you actually lined up my closing where I always say, you can find Content Pros wherever you find your podcasts on iTunes, on Stitcher, on Google Play, and I’m sure at the same time you can find Unthinkable which Jay Acunzo. Jay this has been a ton of fun. On behalf of Tyler over at Vidyard, I’m Randy at Uberflip, this has been Content Pros which is part of the Convice & Convert family of podcasts. We thank you so much for taking time to tune in and spend some time with us.
Jay: Guys, thank you. And thank you everybody for listening.

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