Randy Wilburn is the founding father of Encourage Build Grow, an company that focuses on management growth, communication and private growth for design professionals. In Randy’s phrases, he helps engineers and designers, environmental consultants, and planners “be higher leaders, higher communicators, and in the end higher folks.”
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Randy, who was featured in our first quantity of “Black Entrepreneurs Speak Out,” can also be a self-professed “serial podcaster” whose newest venture has an particularly native taste. I Am Northwest Arkansas covers the intersection of enterprise, tradition, entrepreneurship, and life within the Ozarks of—you guessed it—Northwest Arkansas.
“I began that podcast right here as a result of I did not know something about this space,” Randy says. “After I left the corporate that I moved right here 5 years in the past to work for, I did not actually know anyone. I knew the gate brokers at my native airport higher than I knew folks on the town. So I stated, let me determine, let me be taught a bit of bit extra about this place.”
Whereas “Northwest Arkansas” won’t readily gentle up the psychological map, this area close to the borders of Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri is the house of retail stalwarts Walmart, Tyson Meals, and J.B. Hunt, in addition to the College of Arkansas in Fayetteville, the place Randy lives along with his spouse, Nicola, and their three youngsters.
A Household Tree of Entrepreneurship
Randy has at all times possessed an entrepreneurial spirit that blossomed from a basis of household go-getters. Quite a lot of his relations have run profitable companies, together with his nice uncle, who owned the primary Black pharmacy in all of Western Pennsylvania.
Randy was additionally drawn to on-line enterprise due to a need for flexibility. At this time his three youngsters are fifteen, 13, and ten—however ten years in the past, when Randy started having designs on the web world, they have been 5, three, and a new child.
“I had my palms full, and I needed to determine other ways” of working and making a dwelling, Randy says.
He was additionally “by no means an enormous punch clock puncher. I do not thoughts placing within the time. But when I needed to examine the 2, I’d like to do it on my phrases versus someone else’s.”
And so, in web time and phrases, Randy turned himself right into a little bit of a pioneer. Late within the first decade of the twenty-first century, he found out put an electronic mail record collectively and provide companies on-line. He and Nicola finally spun up various corporations centered on actual property, consulting, design, and even child meals corporations out of their dwelling.
Method again in 2008, they have been even featured in a Businessweek article referred to as “Mom-and-Pop Multinationals” for the way they used digital assistants—on the time nonetheless a cutting-edge follow—to develop their on-line companies.
It was round this time that Randy got here throughout Pat Flynn, who was additionally a member of the Web Enterprise Mastery group run by Jason Van Orden and Jeremy Frandsen.
“I have been around Robin Hood’s barn” on the subject of on-line enterprise, Randy says. “And I’ve at all times tried to determine, okay, how can I actually leverage this and create passive alternatives? And likewise simply to leverage the web house to make life simpler when it got here to work? And so it’s simply been a unending conquest to determine that out.”
Podcasting: Off the Floor and Into the Sky
On-line entrepreneurship is the airspace wherein Randy has been hovering for over a decade—and podcasting is the engine that’s propelled him.
“I’ve kinda adopted that pathway to attempt to have a greater understanding of run my enterprise on-line, make my mark.”
He’s helmed greater than 600 episodes of a wide range of exhibits, together with a podcast for his outdated agency, Zweig Group, referred to as the Zweig Letter, which is 173 episodes deep and going robust. He’s additionally been a visitor on many different exhibits. “And I bought skilled by the perfect.”
“One of the best” is a fellow by the title of Cliff Ravenscraft, who additionally gave Pat his podcasting wings.
Randy took Cliff’s Podcasting A to Z course method again in 2011. He had accomplished some podcasting earlier than that however “actually wasn’t sure about it. And Cliff actually crystallized some issues” for him. By the course, Randy realized construct his podcast episodes on a strong basis “with a transparent starting, a transparent center, and a transparent finish, and in a method that I can form of inform a narrative by means of no matter info is given to me.”
Randy began I Am Northwest Arkansas a couple of 12 months and a half in the past, and he’s already 83 episodes in. “It’s created a chance for me to form of prolong myself and have a greater understanding of what the market wants, as a result of I am speaking with the market frequently, by means of the podcast, by means of social media platforms.”
That communication has led to various progress alternatives, together with partnering with native sponsors to assist cowl podcast bills. He credit the area of interest nature of his viewers—the “four-hundred-plus-thousand people who dwell within the better Northwest Arkansas space”—a demographic that gives an apparent draw for native companies that wish to work with him.
A few of his sponsors have even been previous interviewees. “I got here again to them they usually have been like, ‘Wow, that present was nice!’ And I stated, properly, there are different methods so that you can be part of this. And sponsorship is a type of.”
Past this native focus, the built-in economics of podcasting have additionally been helpful. “The fantastic thing about podcasting is that usually your podcasting viewers tends to be the next revenue bracket right here in the USA. And that’s one thing that is by no means been misplaced on me.”
What Issues Extra Than Your Podcast Tech
In his decade-plus on the mic and behind the scenes, Randy has grow to be a podcasting grasp in his personal proper. So it’s no shock that he has a ton of nice recommendation for different podcasters, particularly these simply getting began.
However perhaps his most necessary piece of podcasting recommendation isn’t actually podcasting recommendation per se—it’s simply good enterprise recommendation—knowledge he’s carried with him because the starting of his on-line journey.
“You’ve bought to construct a listing. You must provide one thing that makes a distinction for whoever your viewers is. You must discover your tribe, and that is the one factor that has at all times stayed constant all through. Every time I’ve developed a podcast, I’ve tried to search out my tribe for that podcast and communicate to them, with the understanding that I can not attain all people. I can’t be all issues to all folks.”
Viewers first. Discover your tribe. Supply one thing that makes a distinction. That is the core, important stuff of any profitable on-line enterprise or venture.
Podcasting can also be about know-how and course of, elements that may be both thrilling or overwhelming relying on who you’re speaking to.
Talking of know-how, though he’s a self-professed audiophile, Randy swears by the AudioTechnica ATR 2100, which he calls “the gold commonplace of newbie mics.” He additionally has a Røde NTG2 (the same shotgun mic Pat uses in his studio) and a Zoom H6 for recording on the go (“The sound is superb”), however the AudioTechnica is Randy’s podcasting bread and butter.
One factor Randy sees folks fret an excessive amount of about is sound insulation. For the report, once we spoke, Randy was in his insulation-free storage rocking his ATR 2100—and he sounded nice.
The underside line of Randy’s gear-light method? “The barrier to entry for actually good audio isn’t as excessive as you assume it’s. It is not almost as costly because it was earlier than to get within the podcasting house, which is why I am principally telling everybody, ‘You might want to begin podcasting.’”
Randy emphasizes that getting began and determining how the items of your podcasting system and course of match collectively takes time and legwork. However, he says, when you get right into a rhythm and get your course of down, it may be clean crusing.
He figures that for every episode of I Am Northwest Arkansas, he spends “all of thirty-five minutes from begin to end enhancing, placing the whole lot collectively, and placing it out and throwing it up on Libsyn and pushing it out to the world.”
“If you already know what you are doing, when you be taught it, the fundamentals of it, the inspiration of get good sound and qualify to your house and know what areas are good, what acoustics are going to be like in any sort of atmosphere that you’ll be in, you develop that over time. That is not one thing that you’ll be taught in a single day. You then stand a significantly better probability of placing out a superb product.”
He’s presently creating a web based course for his native public library referred to as Suppose and Begin a Podcast (a play on Think and Grow Rich, the landmark guide by Napoleon Hill). A part of the impetus for this course was a technique Randy sees many would-be podcasters holding themselves again: focusing an excessive amount of on—sure—the tech that they overlook to create a compelling product.
“If you do not have nice content material, I do not care. I do not care what gadget you are utilizing to report your podcast with. I do not care what microphone you employ. You may have fifty Heil PR 40s in your workplace. It’s not gonna matter as a result of no one’s gonna hear.”
Randy factors out how the booming podcast house nonetheless has quite a lot of room to develop for these prepared to create nice content material. The business solely lately hit a million exhibits, which nonetheless pales compared to the variety of channels on YouTube.
“When folks ask me, ‘I wish to begin a podcast,’ I am like, ‘Do you have got an iPhone? Nice. Go report in your iPhone. Let’s take heed to that, and let’s put one thing out.’”
So, if you wish to get into podcasting, fear much less about having the perfect of the whole lot and extra about placing within the work to create one thing nice.
“On the finish of the day, when you’ve got a ton of shiny new objects however you may’t put the work in, it does not matter anyway.”
COVID: The Silver Lining for Black Enterprise House owners
In terms of certainly one of 2020’s most impactful phenomena, Randy doesn’t mince phrases.
“COVID-19 has simply modified the whole lot. I do not care who you might be. Black, white, purple. It does not matter.”
However he’s equally fast to level out that the pandemic has had an outsize impression on Black enterprise house owners. This impact has been borne out in analysis by the Stanford Institute for Financial Coverage Analysis displaying a 41 % plunge in energetic Black enterprise house owners (440,000) as of Might 2020, a bigger drop than another demographic’s in proportion phrases.
Nonetheless, Randy sees an opportunity for struggling African American entrepreneurs to embrace the potential of on-line enterprise and digital advertising and marketing to remain afloat and even prosper within the midst of the pandemic.
“Now’s the perfect time to consider, How might I take my enterprise on-line and put it aside?”
He sees “a chance for a number of of these corporations which have closed up store, except they’ve simply completely gone bankrupt, for them to form of pivot, to do a web based market. I feel the web market gives so many extra alternatives than you notice, and that simply sufficient persons are not on there.”
“As African People, now we have some information of on-line advertising and marketing and digital advertising and marketing, however now we have by no means utilized it to the power that it is out there to us.”
For example, he references the entrepreneurs which have rapidly constructed on-line companies making and promoting masks. “They began out from nowhere… and these are all minority Black and Brown entrepreneurs that noticed a necessity and stated, ‘We will fill it.’”
Adventures in SPI Land
“I can not get sufficient of Pat,” Randy says.
He’s been an SPI Podcast listener “since day one” and has discovered himself impressed by extra episodes than he can rely—”Pat’s had a gajillion nice folks on his present”—though some current and not-so-recent exhibits that includes David Siteman Garland, Jacques Hopkins, and Jessica and Cliff Larrew have been particularly impactful for him. In reality, the Larrews’ episode impressed Randy’s spouse, Nicola, to begin her personal arbitrage-based enterprise promoting gadgets by means of Success by Amazon (FBA).
Randy can also be an enormous fan of various SPI programs—and of programs typically.
“Build Your Own Brand is superb. For anyone that’s beginning out within the on-line house, BYOB offers you the inspiration that you simply want. You realize what they are saying, is how if you happen to construct a home on strong floor, it will not falter. And Construct Your Personal Model is a superb instance of that.”
“There’s lots of people on the market within the on-line house that hold the whole lot near the vest. They do not share the whole lot. They do not wish to. It is as if it is all a secret, however it’s actually not. All this info is on the market at your disposal. You do not technically ever need to take a course.”
So why take a course, then?
“To save lots of you time, so that you simply’re not going over right here, you are not going over there. It is all proper there in entrance of you. And if you happen to’re like me and you’ve got a tough time, as a result of each time you see a squirrel you begin trying round, then you definitely want a superb course to maintain you grounded and to maintain you centered.”
He additionally credit Pat’s dedication to streaming daily on YouTube. “It is simply been a testomony to who he’s. He is simply been throwing nuggets over the bow. Daily is one thing new.”
“I inform folks on a regular basis, if you happen to’re making an attempt to get began on this house, I could not consider a greater place” than SPI.
Why You’re By no means Too Previous to Chase Your Dream
“Our time right here on earth is—we do not understand how lengthy it’s. A few of us can dwell to 100. A few of us can dwell to fifty. And daily is valuable, I assume is my level. So I at all times inform folks, if you happen to nonetheless have not gotten to the place that you simply wish to be, do not quit.”
Randy’s hero is his grandfather, a person named Mal Goode. In 1962, on the age of fifty-four, Goode was a author for the Courier, a Black newspaper in Pittsburgh.
That very same 12 months, ABC Information was trying to rent its first Black community newscaster—the primary on any community.
Goode was good pals with Jackie Robinson—sure, that Jackie Robinson—who Goode used to cowl on his beat for the Courier. The Corridor of Famer inspired ABC’s information director to present Goode a shot. So ABC Information invited Goode, together with about forty different African American candidates, to audition for the function.
“My grandfather knocked it out of the park. He beat out quite a lot of youthful folks for the job. He was fifty-four years of age, and he bought his shot.”
Goode went on to cowl the assassinations of John F. Kennedy assassination and Malcolm X, the Poor Folks’s Marketing campaign march, Martin Luther King’s funeral, and the Cuban Missile Disaster. In keeping with Randy, he was additionally a mentor and good friend to each Ted Koppel and Peter Jennings and various others who got here by means of the ranks at ABC information.
“He needed to do issues at a youthful age, and the doorways weren’t open to him as a result of he was an African American. However he persevered, and saved pushing the envelope and pushing the envelope. And in 1962, he broke by means of.”
“At a time when folks weren’t used to seeing African People on TV interval, he was there.”
Studying how his grandfather bought his break properly into his middle-aged years gave Randy a crisp perspective on what’s potential no matter your age.
“If you happen to really feel like, Man, I nonetheless have not met my calling, it is by no means too late to try this. And I feel that doing one thing on-line creates leverage and creates a chance that you simply would not essentially get with a brick and mortar enterprise. And I simply assume that if you happen to be taught to grasp this house, the sky’s the restrict.”
His personal expertise as a serial podcaster and digital pioneer has solely fortified Randy’s perception that “nothing is unattainable,” particularly on-line. He additionally nods to Pat’s personal story of making entrepreneurial lemonade from life’s lemons.
“You realize, [Pat] talks about, when he bought laid off from his architectural job and he had simply been named the job captain and all that stuff. After which he simply realized that, You realize what, I’ve to be grasp of my area.”
House & Away
Discover a want, then go serve it. “Easy,” perhaps, like Randy says, however probably life-changing, too.
“I feel all of us come to that place, you already know, these of us that select this path. All of us come to that place the place we’re like, You realize what? I’d relatively simply name the pictures. And generally the pictures are going to return up brief, however generally I will knock it out of the park, and that is when you may have some actual success.”
Maybe Randy’s most inspiring story of overcoming a seemingly insurmountable barrier got here early on in our interview. This Boston sports activities fan was grilling him for tidbits from the seventeen early life he spent in Dorchester, a suburb of Boston.
“I at all times inform folks, ‘By no means say by no means.’ I grew up in Northern New Jersey, and I at all times stated I’d by no means go to Boston. Hated the Celtics, hated the Purple Sox, Yankees fan rising up, and positively did not wish to have any a part of Boston. However it took my coronary heart and launched me to my spouse. And all three of my boys have been born there. So I’ve nothing however love for Boston.”
Discuss knocking it out of the pahk.