Finding Direction: I Get Interviewed About Creating Your Own Luck & Betting On Yourself
Chris Van Vliet is interviewed by Stu Massengill (@stumassengill) on the podcast "Finding Direction". Stu works for Tony Robbins as a National Trainer and Peak Performance Strategist. He is also a master interviewer and asks me some amazing questions which leads to me talking about a lot things that I've never opened up about publicly. We talk about how you can create your own path by being in the right place at the right time, how you can start and grow as a content creator, the biggest lessons learned from interviewing A-List celebrities like The Rock, Tom Cruise and Oprah Winfrey, why it's important to bet on yourself and much more.
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“I am a television host, content creator I think that’s what the new title is. I have a podcast you can listen to called Insight. But I am fascinated with telling people stories, way too often we see the finished product and we don’t see the process along the way. That is what the podcast is about and what the YouTube channel is about. I then put the clips on TikTok, Instagram, Twitter… I hope through all of that people can find my content.”
“The term content creator did not exist. I grew up in Canada east of Toronto in a town called Pickering. I was just fascinated with broadcasting, I had a Fisher Price tape recorder with actual tapes, and I would pretend to be the radio host that I heard on the radio. So I was 4 years old when this all started talking into the microphone and I loved the idea of performing. Whether it was in plays or doing the morning announcements, I loved the idea of having a mic in my hand and getting a reaction out of the audience. We had a mini TV studio in my high school and we would produce segments and take it in turns on the positions. We would go from VTR to camera to audio to floor director to on air talent.”
“So when it came time to pick a major at 17 years old, which is crazy, well communications study was fun, and that was where the process began for me. I dipped my toe in and tried to get a job in television. It hit me in high school that we had to go to work for the rest of our lives, which was when I decided I didn’t want to hate work. I reached out to every TV and radio station to get some experience and that was where my journey began. I reached out to every station to just hope that they would see some value in me.”
“We are now living in a world where anything is monetizable in some sort of way, which is incredible. The internet existed when I was in college, but now it is on a different scale. I would say to lean in on what you are passionate about, but don’t quit your job right away. Start off by doing this in your free time, a lot of people pull shoot way too early by getting out of the job that is paying them. I love diving in to things, but you need to make sure that you pay your bills. Also, bring value to whatever you are doing. What can you bring? In most cases this will be time, which you can exchange for experience. A lot of people want to be paid, but you can exchange this for experience that will get a high paying job later on.”
“Think about all the different scenarios in the world. You can see where people are speaking or doing boom tours, put yourself in the way. I can't guarantee that it will work, but put yourself in the room and see what happens from there.”
“I had a realisation when I was working at MTV 2 in Canada. The old model of broadcasting was that if you are watching this channel at this day and time, then you won’t see it. At the time I was interviewing bands with huge followings, but they wouldn’t see it because they didn’t live in Canada. So I started taking those and putting them on a random YouTube channel without my name. I just put the interviews up there and it got 1000’s of views, so it was like OK, now this is shifting. So I created this channel with my name and did the big interviews with names like Tom Cruise and Anne Hathaway, they would go on my channel after they aired and I hoped that people would appreciate it. Some of the Twilight interviews blew up and some of the Marvel interviews did really well. This was when I realized something was going on here. So then I was like well what if I went to this show or this convention, which no one was really doing at this time, so I was ahead of the curb.”
“I knew I had access to some of the back channels that people wouldn’t think of. So for example, Chris Jericho, who I am a huge fan of, wasn’t doing a lot of wrestling at the time in 2012. He was on tour with his band Fozzy. I was like well if I can get in touch with the venue to talk about the tour, maybe the venue can put me in touch with the tour manager who can set this up. It was like I was opening the third door before I knew what that was. I would also send emails with people who my guest might be friends or colleagues with, so that they would go ‘Oh he has interviewed them, I will do it too.’”
“This is so actionable, I love it. Number one is to get comfortable on camera and with your voice. The rest of the world hears you like this, it is how you sound. We have our smartphones, it is easy to get comfortable on camera. When I started, there were actual cameras with tapes. Number two is to just start, too many people put too much into backgrounds, lights and cameras, just start. Take all of the entry barriers away and think about the equipment 5 episodes from now. Look at Mr Beast’s first few videos, they are awful, you just need to start. Thirdly, figure out how you can become an expert on this thing and dial this niche in. Niche down on that niche and become the person people go to for that.”
“I think you have to be consistent. A lot of people fail because they are not consistent. There is this stat that 80% of podcasts start after just 7 episodes. Just be consistent, one video a week on YouTube every Tuesday, make that commitment that it will go out no matter what. Also, find someone in your space that is crushing it and reverse engineer it. Maybe they are at step 63 and you are at step 2, go back from 63, 62 and so on. Number 3, find people who are the same size and collaborate with them, once you grow with them, you can all collaborate and grow together.”