Be The First To Know

Welcome aboard! We are thrilled to have you.
Uh oh, something went wrong. Try submitting the form again.

Sean Cannell

Sean Cannell is the driving force behind ThinkMedia, a company focused on YouTube strategy and growth. He is also an international speaker and coach that helps entrepreneurs build their influence and income with online video.

Video Content

Pick A Side

We’re back with our second episode with YouTube pro and entrepreneur Sean Cannell. Sean is the driving force behind ThinkMedia, a company focused on YouTube strategy and growth. He is also an international speaker and coach that helps entrepreneurs build their influence and income with online video. 

In this episode, Sean and Chris continue their conversation about the importance of YouTube for entrepreneurs and business owners. Sean goes into topics like building a team, figuring out what to focus your content on, attracting the right audience, and why some of ThinkMedia’s most popular videos work. They also touch on “ethical” clickbait and why  a mix of creating value, while also being polarizing, works for content creators, including The Futur.

Pick A Side

Please fill in the form below to download Pick A Side. It will be in your inbox shortly after.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

This form collects your name and email so we can add you to our email list and send you our newsletter full of helpful insights and updates. Read our privacy policy to understand how we protect and manage your data.

What Will You Stand For?

We’re back with our second episode with YouTube pro and entrepreneur Sean Cannell. Sean is the driving force behind ThinkMedia, a company focused on YouTube strategy and growth. He is also an international speaker and coach that helps entrepreneurs build their influence and income with online video. 

In this episode, Sean and Chris continue their conversation about the importance of YouTube for entrepreneurs and business owners. Sean goes into topics like building a team, figuring out what to focus your content on, attracting the right audience, and why some of ThinkMedia’s most popular videos work. They also touch on “ethical” clickbait and why  a mix of creating value, while also being polarizing, works for content creators, including The Futur.

Stewart Schuster

Stewart Schuster is a Writer, Director, Camera Operator, and Editor. He is a graduate of Watkins College of Art & Design in Nashville, TN. He loves making and watching films.

Watch on
Hosted By
special guest
produced by
edited by
music by
recommended reading
No items found.

What Will You Stand For?

Episode Transcript

Sean Cannell:

If you're listening to this right now, there is untold growth for your business, your personal brand, your reach on the other side of you giving up the fear of other people's opinions, the need to be liked, the need to please everyone, and the need to avoid offending anyone. You never could anyways, but you got to crank up that tolerance for that. There's a lot of growth on the other side when you start putting out powerful messaging that you believe in on YouTube and social media.

Chris Do:

Let's get into the book a little bit. I'm an entrepreneur. You've convinced me. I know in my heart already before you even spoke that I need to be getting onto YouTube and creating content for all the reasons we talked about. I also have things I can say. I've written articles. I might have written a book, but I don't have the time, but I do have money. Give me some high level tactics or strategies. If you can afford it, here's what I would do so that you can grow your channel, your authority as quickly as possible.

Sean Cannell:

Number one, taking you behind the scenes to our event, Grow With Video. You were there. On the third day, we had a mastermind, deeper dive business day. One of our speakers was Brad Lea, and he shared the concept of "don't create content, be the content." Now, maybe Gary V said "document, don't create," but I always either misunderstood him or felt like he was saying something different. Like, "Okay, you're not an expert yet. Share the journey. Vlog the journey," and I never actually thought that was a good strategy. I think that there's too many people doing that. It's hard to grow.

But if it's document your life as a business owner or your expertise as a business owner, don't sit down and create, then Brad Lea and Gary would be saying the same thing, "Be the content, don't create the content." The story went like this, Brad Lea hired a videographer. We're talking a business owner with money. Hires a videographer. That videographer starts showing up to the office and they would schedule time so they could shoot some content for social media, for YouTube. The videographer would knock on his door, "Hey, Brad, we need a film," and he'd tap his watch. Brad would say, "I'm busy. A meeting's going long."

Day after day, week after week, this happened for a couple of weeks and he just kept hunting it. He's paying the guy, but he's not actually sitting down to create content. And then finally one day, he was about to go into another meeting virtually or someone sit in the office and he's like, "You know what? Just come in here and start filming." What he did, his strategy is, as simple as I'm about to describe, I think the key is hiring the right people, is he just started to have the camera on, mic'd up with a live mic. Excuse me. He would do a meeting. He's doing a coaching call, or he's talking to his team, or he's giving an instruction to another team member, or he's leading a team meeting.

He's delivering some leadership content, some tactical content, and that videographer's filming. And then he left it up to that videographer and whoever else, maybe a social media manager, maybe the person filming isn't the strategist, but he turns it completely over his team to then distribute on social media. Brad Lea is not everybody's cup of tea, that's for sure. But if you look him up on Instagram, @therealbradlea, the views are pretty staggering in terms of the Reel views he's getting. And then there's also his YouTube channel is very influential. Document, be the content, don't create content is the absolute most high leverage thing.

It's maybe a courageous move to take the time to hire the talent, and then to allow them to just... Sure, if the meeting's private, then it's not that one, but there's many instances where maybe you're delivering 10 or 15 minutes to your staff or to your team, and then that could just be cut and put on online. You want to talk about leverage. Don't do anything. Yes, you got to set it up. But once it's set up, you just focus on your day-to-day business ops and that person can do what they're doing. Secondly, and you, myself, Brad is also doing the same thing, and many others is I think the highest leverage activity is starting a video podcast because you just kill 36 birds with one stone.

You are, in this case, sitting down to interview somebody or to deliver some kind of a solo round type of content. But not only do you get the YouTube video out of that, you could distribute the audio and the audio platforms, but you also get the clips. That would include clips for YouTube potentially, but it also could trickle down all the way into social media. To summarize, if you said, "Sean, what would you do right now if you have money, you don't have a lot of time and you want to tap into this," I'm going to put my myself in the shoes of Anton Stenner. He is a good friend, real estate investor and my real estate agent up here in Snohomish, Washington.

He's got money. He's very busy. He's doing deals. He's meeting with clients. He's helping me. He is now pumping out his Reels game, but he hasn't started his YouTube channel. If I'm Anton, I'm investing serious cash. I'm going to take a loss potentially for a year or two because I have the money and I am going to, step one, work on acquiring talent. There's a good book called Who Not How. The best person to hire would be a director of even of the other roles. My friend Ryan Pineda puts it like this, hire top-down. Wait, okay, I got to hire an editor. But oh, that guy doesn't know how to actually optimize the YouTube video, so I got to hire somebody to optimize the YouTube video.

But none of these guys have the skill to graphic design. Who's doing the thumbnail? No, no, no. How do I do all that? Hire one person. Let's get real raw. This might be a 70, 80, 90, 100K role, but that would be a mastery level. That'd be the director. Think of it as like the CEO of your media company, the person who is responsible. You find the contract editor. You find the graphic designer. Here's the schedule on my time that I'm going to let you put it in there. You're the producer of the podcast. You're scheduling the guest. You'll eventually get the admin assistant that is going to schedule the guest, but you're responsible.

It's who's waking up thinking about this. That would be, I think, the most intelligent way to do that, assuming you have dollars, and then tracking it all the way back because you might go sticker shock. "100 grand for just the one role? What about the cameras, the other roles, software, all the different things we invest?" Well, Alex and Leila Hormozi, they just keep updating it every single month, but they recently revealed that I think they're spending $125,000 a month on organic content creation, video editors, software, team, cameras, whatever it takes. That is because the ROI is there. The ROI impact to the bottom line, but also the ROI impact to the brand lift, the marketing dollars, all the other things.

Of course, this has to just track back to make sure you've connected in your own mind and with whoever you work with, how does this correlate to ROI? What is the KPIs, the key performance indicators, and the income producing activities in your business that, okay, if we have a YouTube channel and we get more leads and forms filled out for our sales team to call, we know that attributes to X ROI. If our YouTube channel even in the first six months doesn't start to really generate those, but over the next 12 to 24, we only need X leads produced organically to equal X R... Just do the math.

As a business owner, your responsibility would say, okay, when you hire a six figure position, you don't pay them six figures up front. You only got to pay that first month. You can start investing today to realize I'm investing ahead of time. I was in a event where Ezra Firestone talked about how he thinks about hiring people. He goes, "I actually think about hiring people that they're not going to be a positive ROI for six months. I'm actually planning on losing money on the individual for at least six months." What's interesting is many people listening to this, probably yourself, you said that's actually been the case where many times the ROI could be almost instant.

That is a possibility. It could actually be one month, or it could just be they do the role, they fill the role. But in this case, you actually are taking a level of a gamble if you're starting from scratch because you're like, my YouTube channel's not successful yet, whatever. That's the move I would make. What I know from Anton, landing the plane, would be he's got the dollars. Building his brand is never going to hurt him. He also spoke, I said, "What is your ROI?" It wasn't that he could get more people that want to buy or sell a home. That is decent, but that's not why he'd want to build his brand.

He goes, what the real winning play would be is the Grant Cardone strategy and many other real estate gurus would be the raising money strategy. That the bigger your brand, the bigger that you're known. To Grant Cardone, no matter how everybody feels about him, sounds like Grant to say this, "If they don't know you, they can't flow you." It's so funny. It sounds like it sounds like him. But how is he able to raise for Cardone Capital, which I know has come under scrutiny recently, but whether it was branded formally with deeper pockets or different guys, a lot of people building syndications, guys are raising millions of dollars because of building know, like, and trust on social media.

You're probably listening to this and this is not your business model, but I think that's the key. What am I also working towards? What is it I'm trying to build? I mean, let me go the polar opposite, Chris. Why even do this at all? I mean, I know I want people to get YouTube secrets, and I know I want people to be on YouTube, but unless we start with first principles and we start with the end in mind and we are purpose driven, I think it's really important to get super clear on what winning looks like three years from now, five years from now, 10 years from now. What are you trying to build? Do you want to be known and have a brand?

Are you also investing ahead of time? Because when you have attention, when you've grown your email list, when you have subscribers, your next five to 10 to 15 moves, you may not even need to monetize right away. Like Anton, for example, he doesn't need to monetize this year, next year, next year. He could be playing a long game. Then you hit that tipping point, to what you're saying, where in a year ad revenue offsets all of or the majority of the cost to produce the content, so that's kind of cool. But what you're really playing for is maybe the fund or the investment or the multifamily thing he wants to build years later.

That's how I would do it today, is I would staff around it and treat it as a small business, as a new division I open, treat it as a media company I'm starting and hire from the top-down and essentially hire a CEO of your media company running your YouTube channel and the team that supports it.

Chris Do:

The theme that I got from all that you said there was integration. That if you're thinking about a social media strategy, whether you want to go on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, or wherever else, it's you can't think of content creation and content marketing as a separate thing that you have to do. It's got to be a big part of who you are and what you do, because those that are able to tap into that will have a competitive advantage compared to those that don't. The question I get asked a lot is, what would you do? What would you tell your younger self? I would say get on the content game sooner.

Make that a part of who you are and what you do, so it's not a separated activity. With Brad Lea's example, it wasn't like I'm going to go create content now. What I'm doing is the content. I just need someone to document that, and because the greatest way that you could demonstrate your expertise is to show people, literally you coaching a team, giving advice, doing a sales call, whatever your expertise is. We see a lot of these kinds of videos, at least on my feed on TikTok. I just like watching blackhead extractions. What does that person do? They're demonstrating to you what it is that they do.

These are so addicted to me. I can't stop watching them. That's really what you need to do. It's not like you stepping outside of your environment, putting on your YouTube base, putting on your radio voice and doing that thing. Just do what you do and be brave enough to bring the world into this little place, and hopefully over time an audience will show up for you. I also like that tip that you said. You know what? Especially if you have money and you've made this commitment, don't try and figure this out yourself. Don't try to be the director. Just hire the director and make a commitment.

I also like that you broke it down. If you're thinking it's $100,000 salary, it's divided by 12, which is divided by 30, or 365. It could just be broken down into little pieces, and you're not spending all that money up front. Smart play. I want to get into something with you right now, which is, like I said at the beginning of our conversation, I need to catch up to Think Media. The future has to catch up to you. I have to do it. You're going to say, "No, you're not, because we're going to keep outpacing. It's a game we'll play." I want to ask you, what has been some of your highest performing videos? Tell us the video.

What is it that you think that made it tick? Because I would love to be able to make hits all day long. It's not possible. I want to learn from you. I'd love to trade back and forth and compare notes.

Sean Cannell:

Well, man, as we dig into this little bit, I think one of the questions is it can be difficult to define what winning looks like, because is winning impressions, is winning views, you could have a lot of views, or are you getting the right views? Let me tell you the top 10. I'm pulling them up on Think Media, top 10 most viewed videos of all time on Think Media. The first one... Let's go in reverse order. We're going to go top eight. The eighth most viewed one is 2.5 million views, how to make YouTube videos on your phone beginner's tutorial. Couple reasons why that one. Everybody has a phone. Broad appeal is a big key in getting maximum amount of views.

Now, this is on brand for us because we teach people how to make videos and how to create actual content. But if we were to say how to make YouTube videos on your Fuji X-T4, I don't think it's possible to get 2.5 million views because not that many people have that camera. On your phone is a broad appeal. How wide is the audience? Second key would be beginners. Beginners is also always a larger market than intermediate or advanced. The most people in anything are always beginners. Next, two years ago, how to make a YouTube video for beginners start to finish. This video is two hours and five minutes.

I'm a big proponent in extra long form content. Our friend Lewis Howes and Evan Carmichael, their top performing videos are two, two and a half, three, and even four hour videos right now. They're doing these super long videos. The key is they're really rich. In their case, it's rich in maybe an individual or a topic with lots of experts sharing information on a topic. But how to make a YouTube video for beginners start to finish is basically like a free deep dive class that delivers on the promise of the title. That'd be another key. You make a promise in a title in YouTube videos and then you deliver on that promise in the video.

It's two and a half hours. This video is not easy to make. It's in-depth. I talk about the gear. I sit down and film it. I take them step by step through the editing. I take them step by step through the upload process. It is literally delivering on how to make a YouTube video start to finish has 2.6 million views. Next is 2.6 million, How to come up with a YouTube name, three tips and mistakes to avoid. Again, how broad the question is? How much interest the question is? This is why keyword research or topic research is still worth doing, because there's a million topics you could talk about next on YouTube.

If one had 10 people a month interested in it and one had 10 million a month interested in it, which one is giving you a bigger opportunity of reach? The one with the broader interest, by and large, majority of people. Next, six years ago too, 2.9 million views, The best cheap cameras for YouTube, six budget camera reviews. Cheap and budget are the key there because there's more people are on a budget and are looking for a cheap option than are looking for a premium option.

Luxury, as I know that you probably have taught a lot, it'd be better to pursue clientele on the high-end because it'll be easier to work with, you could work with fewer clients, and you may need to sell less items at a premium price than cheap. But nevertheless, if you think about, again, broad appeal, 2.9 million views, cheap cameras for YouTube, budget cameras for YouTube, six years ago, this video... None of these are actually viral videos. Viral maybe by age, but usually what a by definition viral video is something that quickly accumulates a lot of views. I did a video called How to get free stuff on Amazon, and it shot up.

I think why is because quite literally that was true. This was back when there was these websites that would send you free stuff if you'd leave a product review and you would just fill out your information. It could be pretty cool. They'd send you a little phone charger. The appeal of that locally and globally in the US and around the world was pretty wild, and it delivered on the promise. You're at home and you could just invest a little time and someone's shipping you free stuff from Amazon. People are pretty pumped and it spread like wildfire. The final three. Number three, the bronze, the best video editing software and video editing tips.

I would admit that today this might be hard to repeat. This is maybe being first. It's not too late to start YouTube. I still believe it's a blue ocean and saturation's a myth, but I think you got to go more specific. The riches are in the niches. But at the time, this was a seven minute 35 second video that delivered a good answer to the question. But in the thumbnail is a picture of Final Cut and Premiere, which there was a lot less options then. That doesn't even say that in the title, but visually someone who's maybe trying to decide between those two would see that, and delivered very valuable content and answering a question that many people ask, best video and software and video editing tips.

And then number two, the silver, best copyright free music for YouTube, top three sites. I've got headphones on. Good. I'm holding up a phone with a little music logo on it. The text and the thumbnail says, "Free music for YouTube videos," which, again, cheap and budget's going to do good, the word free is historically untouchable in marketing, free gift, free prize, free. Free music for YouTube videos. And again, people could argue, well, is this clickbait, or that sounds hypey. The key is that you want to have ethical clickbait. You want to bait the click, but it's honest. Clickbait by definition means it's deceptive typically.

It's like you click and then the video doesn't deliver. That video literally gives you three options for completely free music that you can use in your videos with no copyright claims. It got 3.8 million views. Being arguably maybe one of the best videos on the platform of just delivering great information and great solutions. Again, the title makes a promise and the video gives an answer. But number one, gold, this will be a surprise, and this I think is a good example and a joke internally on our team because how is success really measured? Even though this is our most viewed video, I would say it's not even near our best video.

It got 4.6 million views. It was posted a year ago, and it's 30 plus funny sound effects YouTubers use, with a meme guy in the photo, funny sounds, and then parenthesis royalty-free. This video just is stuck to our top of our realtime analytics. Always getting views. People are searching it probably because a 14-year-old video editor is looking for a fart sound, searches this, finds this video, and then in his home movie that he's going to upload on TikTok or YouTube, finds this video and puts it in there. Now, of course, maybe others are finding that as well, but that's probably who the audience is.

Therefore, it goes back to yes, while it does have 4.6 million views, for someone listening to this that maybe wanted to get a few high paying consulting gigs a month, that would be the wrong video to attract your ideal audience as many views as you get. What we joke about, because there's that one and another one that stays stuck to the top, which is royalty-free sound effects pack YouTubers use, is I always joke, I go, "We're sound effects channel." I go, "And sure enough, we are still the number one downloadable sound effects channel," which is not who we want to be.

Now, to be thoughtful about my brand, it's not so off brand that we're going to make it unlisted or private, but these are some key strategic distinctions that you don't want to get into trend surfing, or rather chasing. You don't want to just chase trends or just pursue as many views as possible as if that's the only metric. What does impact look like? What type of videos would attract the ideal audience? But it's a mix of both. So many leadership principles and truths are held in tension. It's the tension between reach, impressions, brand growth, brand impressions, top line reach, and also impact depth.

It's not really either/or. It's both and, and being a content strategist, being thoughtful of your top video. Those are the top eight and maybe a few distinctions we can learn from them.

Chris Do:

That last one, your top one, it's like a prank video, right? Isn't the title How Successfully Measured and it's got funny sound fart effects?

Sean Cannell:

It's literally just like a motion graphics background with an audio wave and it goes like fart, swoosh. It says what it is on screen. It just goes through all the sound effects, and that's it. It is a very search utility, practical. Again, someone's in their high school video editing class on the internet looking for funny sound effects YouTubers use and they just download that video using 4K Video Downloader, throw it in their final cut project, and never know who we are and never see us and never subscribe. But on the flip side, whatever. It is a utility that is on brand for Think Media. But I mean, if I go deeper, let me mention a few things.

Actually I think one of these, and we may have lost this money, somebody copyright claimed maybe one sound and I don't know if we could fight that. Maybe they did. It should have earned 13,300. This one's no copyright content. This video has earned us 13 grand, so that's kind of crazy in its own right. The audience is 18 to 24 is 46%. 13 to 17 is only 10%. It's great, and it's led to 12,200 subscribers. I think just the thing to be considerate of, and again, happy to leave this video public, I think it's still on brand enough for us, but you want to be cautious to not attract subscribers. You don't want to attract the wrong subscribers.

It's not a race to who can get the most subscribers. The goal would be who could get the right subscribers and the most maybe engaged audience. I would say we're doing both. Think Media has kind of got a mass market approach, but we're also trying to be thoughtful about then how we reach those. And by the way, for as much as I hope what we do, we're just trying to be Guinea pigs. We're just trying to be test subjects that can go through successes and a lot of mistakes, pass along that information to others so they can go further faster, make more intelligent decisions. Again, it's one of those things where I'm like monthly...

In fact, every single month YouTube gives you a top 10, the top content in the last 28 days. Our top two videos are always 30+ Funny Sound Effects YouTubers and Popular Meme Sound Effects (For Video Editing). That's the other one. I'm like, so we're a sound effects channel apparently. No one really cares about any of us, the deep information or Nolan or Omar or Sean, the content creators or anything else, but we are known for being the sound effects channel.

Chris Do:

Time for a quick break, but we'll be right back.


From Wondery comes a new series, Flipping the Bird: Elon versus Twitter, a story about what happens when the richest man on the planet decides to acquire a powerful social media company in the name of free speech. But does he have what it takes?

Speaker 1:

It started off promising.


Or is this all just about Elon?

Speaker 1:

He's essentially mad that his tweets aren't performing as well as he would've expected them too.

Speaker 2:

But really just felt like, okay, this really is just a platform being ruled by a dictator who does things on his own whims.


And what will be left of Twitter by the time he's done.

Speaker 3:

Basically my entire team was gone. By the end of it, infrastructure was just completely gutted. He'll tweet a thing and then everyone's like, "We got to work on that now because he tweeted it."

Speaker 4:

I'm supposed to believe this man as a genius.

Speaker 5:

It just felt like everything was kind of descending into chaos.


Follow Flipping the Bird wherever you get your podcasts. Hey, Prime members, you can listen to episodes ad free on Amazon Music. Download the Amazon Music app today.

Speaker 7:

It's The Jeff Ward Show.


The two oldest presidents in history coming back for round two. Shouldn't we be proud? One is drooling on himself and the other is the pied piper of the nut jobs, and the pied piper of the nut jobs is going to win. For the people that are sincerely worried about fossil fuels, these kids with mullets I'm going to say are not helping you. They're hurting. Shut up and go vape.

Speaker 6:

Get The Jeff Ward Show Podcast wherever you are listening right now.

Speaker 8:

We made USAA insurance. For veterans like James, when he found out how much USAA was helping members save, he said.

Speaker 9:

It's time to switch.

Speaker 8:

We'll help you find the right coverage at the right price. USAA, what you're made of, we're made for. Restrictions apply.

Chris Do:

Welcome back to our conversation. Here's what I wrote down, broad appeal, utility, know your audience, and have strong hooks that appeal to a lot of people.

Speaker 4:


Chris Do:

Okay. Now, I start to realize our desire to catch up to you might be ill-advised and not possible, because we don't have a lot of content that has brought appeal. I'm reading your things and your titles. I'm like, oh my gosh, how do we even compete with that? I got to go back to the drawing board and talk to the team here. What the heck are we going to do?

Sean Cannell:

Well, exactly what you're saying. You could have the wrong goal. By the way, by all means, catch up to us and surpass us. But I think this is a powerful truth, and I'm speaking to myself as we discuss this and I hope it adds value to the listener. Your clarity on what winning actually looks like is everything. You taking the time to get crystal clear on defining your end goal and maybe the bigger thing to agitate for the listener is that the way you're defining it now could be wrong or incomplete. It maybe doesn't have enough detail, or maybe if we keep asking, well, why is it you want to achieve that and why is it you want to achieve that, that we need to make it a little bit more distinct.

I would think that as well. I actually think you absolutely could surpass us, but do you even want to go broader? The opposite could be true. Actually, let's grow slower. I mean, imagine if that was a goal. Team, actually, I want to slow down our growth, because what I would rather do is get the precise perfect subscribers for the mission that we're on and who we want to help as opposed to just reaching for a top line number. What does that mean? And by the way, if you really do some deep thought work and deep personal processing, you still may come to the conclusion that absolutely the goal is to grow as big as possible.

Within creative constraints, we do want to keep pushing for bigger numbers. Well, great. But yeah, in today's social media world where mainly vanity metrics, impressions and views are the main way we measure winning, or even ad revenue, because again, I might go, "Oh wow, that video made $13,000. That's actually pretty cool. However, it's actually a drop in the bucket compared to our other revenue." A lot of times good is the enemy of the great and we get distracted by these lesser things. There's a good book called The Pumpkin Plan and it's basically applied to business about how to grow a prize-winning pumpkin is the fact that you have to cut off the little pumpkins.

Recently, we sunseted a program this year that was earning about $24,000 a month. That sounds ludicrous. That actually sounds for a small town kid college dropout that thought earning six figures a month was like the pinnacle, as a business owner, I have to work on my mindset to say, okay, well, that's a good thing. It's $24,000 a month. That's incredible. But we had to make the hard decision to sunset it because compared to some other things, it was hurting the prize-winning pumpkin. It wasn't even a little pumpkin, it was a pretty good size pumpkin, but it's sucking energy, resources away. Where the real magic can happen is when you actually simplify down and maybe let go of...

Anyways, I mean, I don't know, should I make the videos unlisted? I don't know. You could really dig deeper into analytics to see how many returning viewers versus new viewers are related to this video that come to it, and you keep doing your best.

Chris Do:

The lesson to learn there from some videos that might help your channel grow in terms of subscribers, but it will grow the wrong audience and ultimately that'll hurt you. Because as you release new videos that are on brand, on channel, that this other audience who came in are like they're not watching it. It shows a lower percentage of your audience who are shown the video actually watching that can hurt you. My goal is perpetual growth, and I will use anything within my arsenal of mental tricks to just push us to keep trying new things and finding more effective ways to teach and to grow.

I think it's a Jim Rohn who said the goal is important, but it's not as important as the person you become in the pursuit of the goal. We know our channel. We know the content. I'm not doing dance videos. I'm not doing whatever it is that I need to do to grow the channel. I want to grow while delivering on that clear message and the value that we've been able to do in the past. The top three of the five videos that are in our channel are the same video, Sean. People are like, what? The top most viewed video that we have is 49 million views. It's a short. And number five is the same video just cropped vertically so that it's more for shorts content, and that has 3.2 million views.

Why are they top three? There's a couple things you can learn from this. First, we made this longer video, which is, I don't know how long it is, it's 36 minutes. One segment in there that we cut together is that long video, squeezed down all the juice into the most bombastic thing, and that was released as a short, that then got us like 700,000 subscribers, that one video. Now, here's what I put out there. I think I know what the formula is for our channel and every person's channel is going to be different.

When I am doing something that is contrarian or highly polarizing, you could be for it, you could be against, it doesn't matter, when I'm doing something that feels like it's real, some emotion, like this is reality TV, I'm arguing with a potential client and we're going through stuff that you're going to be on one side or the other and it stirs up all kinds of emotions, and then there's a piece of value that's baked into that, that seems to be the winning formula for any video that pops for us. Those are the components.

Sean Cannell:

That's a formula though that I do think applies to almost any niche and any platform. The polarizing one is a big one. If it could be triggering... And again, the goal would be I think to do that ethically is you're not sitting down to just make something up. You're digging deep into self-awareness of what is your true values, principles, convictions, and then not being afraid to share those. Also, something that hurts, I think social media virality is hedging. One of the things that helps it is by stating something in an absolute. I think what we have to remember is that even truth is held in tension, that there could be two sides.

This is a mistake for me because when I do think about every audience I like to hedge, that's not what triggers and goes viral. What goes viral is by making a statement. What we're afraid of is people then go, "Yeah, but what about the other side?: You could say, "Well, this was a 16 second short." It's not that I'm saying there's not another side. This is a power principle. I remember going to the Traffic & Conversion Summit opening session. Ryan Deiss actually spoke about five elements of creating movements and five elements of you essentially should create a movement, even a cult. That's a strong word.

But if you look at Jim Collins Built to Last, good organizations, good teams have cult-like elements. All that to say was one of those things was you said that the greatest movement leaders speak in absolutes. He mentioned characters like Grant Cardone and Gary V. You oftentimes hear Gary V say... I remember back in 2011, I went to a live talk and he said, "My friends, if you are not using daily, you will not be in business five years from now." There could be no further false statement from the truth. First of all, everybody in that room is probably still in business five years from now.

None of them went home and used Everybody could probably get away from not never using Twitter search strategically or whatever, but his conviction and the point he's trying to make. Now, me also too, as a background in PR communications, I was the director of communications at a church, I always want to tell every side. Unless you're this, or maybe it's not true for every industry, it's not true. All that to just go a little bit deeper on that polarizing thing, I think that if you're listening to this, sometimes you just might be afraid to put something out there. Or if you are like me and you're like, "Yeah, but what about this?"

And by the way, add on top of that cancel culture, add on top of that you're putting something on the internet, but how could you possibly speak to every different background, economic background, cultural background? You're like, well, in certain contexts this could be offensive. All the greats are willing to push past that. If we're defining greatness by reach, they're not afraid of being misunderstood. They're not afraid of triggering people. I think the myth is a lot of us like to be liked and we like to be perceived as kind. We don't want to offend anybody. And listen, all of these things can coexist at the same time.

That could all be true about you. But if you want the growth and the reach, you got to put it out there and be okay with somebody saying, "Yeah, but what about the alternative?" You're like, "Well, there's an entire video podcast. This was just the short of it." I break down the other side, or there's more to it, or for you to assume or color in, you leave a little mystery. You're leaving it, yeah, but what if? You got to be okay with the 10 what ifs and make the statement. And that was one of the attributes was that these movement leaders, and you could argue with social media, these viral videos, because it's really getting a lot of reach, is it's polarizing.

You're stating something. You're making a conviction. There's emotional tension there, arguably triggering. But Chris, knowing you, you're doing this from a place of integrity, your experience, love for the audience. I'm sure we could look in the comments and see a lot of people that are upset and offended potentially as you talk about how much you should pay. A lot of people, "I can never charge that much. Why would you tell people this?" All that kind of stuff. Those are your most viewed videos. You're listening to this right now.

There is untold growth for your business, your personal brand, your reach on the other side of you giving up the fear of other people's opinions, the need to be liked, the need to please everyone, and the need to avoid offending anyone. You never could anyways, but you got to crank up that tolerance for that. There's a lot of growth on the other side when you start putting out powerful messaging that you believe in on YouTube and social media.

Chris Do:

Sean, before we get out of here, I just want to say a couple things in reaction to what you just said. The criticism about social media that people lobby against me and just social media in general is that we're not having these nuanced, thorough analysis conversations, and there's a time and place for that. But what we have to do is we have to stop someone to get them to pay attention long enough so they can learn something, they can take action on and improve their lives that day. I find that when I try to phrase something that's so nuanced, it just loses all the bite and the punch. It's like it's been watered down.

I need to say in a way that someone who needs to hear this today in this moment can hear it. I said recently, theory is lonely. It loves action. Don't keep them apart. That is not a nuanced statement. I'm clearly have an opinion and a point of view to this, and that's the post that's people are like, "Wow, let's reshare this." And that's what happened. But if you were to sit there and give a dissertation on that, people would yawn. They're going to move on to the next thing. Whether you like it or not, the attention span has been so reduced. If you can't capture them in that hook, the headline, the thumbnail, they're not going to watch the video.

The first minute of the video, if you can't keep them, they're out. You have to learn the art of storytelling and this Jenga effect, which is I kind of know what's going to happen, but I can't turn away. You're going to keep pulling apart until it looks like it's going to fall apart and then it's done.

Sean Cannell:

I think that's brilliant. I said it a little bit earlier, it was one that comes out I try to repeat it was I also said it's irresponsible for you as a business owner to not be on YouTube. Strong word. And that was one I've cultivated, so it stings a little. Again, that's kind of, hey, taking a page from Gary V. Someone might say, irresponsible? It's offensive, kind of. What are you, attacking my character? I think I'm a responsible father. I think I'm a responsible business owner. Again, sure, there's so many different ways you can survive in business. Yes, you probably will be all right if you don't get on YouTube, but you don't want to leave that up to chance.

Just meaning because your lead sources or your awareness could dry up in other places, so it's nice to be diversified, but that's not me defending the statement. The punchline is to let it sting, is you're trying to get people to pay attention. Of course, I can back up the statement, but I think one of the things we're both saying, and this is even powerful for me because it's always making me think about what are my core convictions, but also what are new ways I can package those to stop the scroll and get attention in a way that's in total authenticity and integrity, but also that's not afraid of being triggering, and that actually is even being intentionally a little bit triggering.

I mean, if we really go to probably the modern GOAT, greatest of all time, at this moment, very polarizing figure would probably be Andrew Tate. He got canceled and just has a particular way about him of just saying things that are sometimes not new ideas, but he's certainly saying them in a new way. He's saying them in maybe some new energy and saying some things that... These appear to be his deep convictions. I didn't even really know them until he got canceled, but I think it's a good example.

And to that end, if we put some handles on this for the listener, one of the things I think we don't take time to do as business owners necessarily is sit down and say, "What are the five to 10 things you're most convicted about? What are actually some of your values and ethics and principles?" But it also could be YouTube, like facts about YouTube. YouTube is the best social media platform because it's like a fine wine, it gets better with age. It's the only platform where your content lives forever. It's irresponsible for you as a business owner to not be on YouTube. Craft some of those a core beliefs, but then how can you power up some of those?

Those could become some of your core pillar messages. What do you believe to be true about the world? What do you believe to be true about your business in the world? What fires you up and gets you mad, sad, angry? What are you deeply passionate about in relation to what's happening? I know some people say, "Hey, you're a business channel. Don't talk about politics." On our podcast, the Think Media Podcast, we recently had Patrick Bet David, and he shook me a little bit because he said, "You actually need to start sharing where you stand on issues. Because if you don't, people won't trust you."

Actually more, whichever side you stand on, maybe the most extreme people you'll push away. But some people will be like, okay, I know where he stands. I follow him for YouTube. I don't agree with him on that fact, but at least he's being open. His point was a comparing contrast between Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. Elon being very public, very outspoken, very polarizing, just blowing it all up. Some would say maybe negatively, but positively in terms of his personal brand, businesses, et cetera. We'll see how it all plays out. Jeff being a lot more hidden and him saying, Elon is essentially kind of doing it right, and people could be very mad at him, but he's outspoken and he's sharing beliefs.

This is maybe the key. What are you willing to take a stand for? Vanilla doesn't work in 2023 on social media. Pick a side. Pick a fight. But don't just pick a fight for picking a fight's sake, that's being a jerk, that's being rude. What is the fight you actually care about? And then what would you be afraid? Make a list. What do you deeply believe would you actually be afraid to say on social media? What do you deeply believe about your industry, about your competitors? Who's your enemy? Chris, you know this in good marketing and branding, the best businesses have a good enemy.

The enemy could be greedy course sellers who put out horrible information and give course graders a bad name, greedy internet marketers that all they care about is image and Ferraris. I go that, that's one of my enemies is the lifestyle of it's all about money and wealth. I'm like, it's all about family and impact. I'm going to take a stand. Whatever. These are some handles where I think you take some of this material and you put this into your future YouTube videos, vertical videos, podcasts. You're going to take those things to a whole nother level and reach a whole nother level of impact.

And then be ready for the backlash because you have crucified the fear of other people's opinions, a fear of man, a fear of backlash, because they didn't even know you anyways. Now they do know you, and so you're getting the negative comments. But what about the people you're called to reach? For every person that you polarize, there's somebody else that now has discovered you and you're able to impact them with your product services, your mission, and your message.

Chris Do:

What a way to end it. That was straight fire. Sean, if people want to find out more about you and Think Media and the book, where should we send them?

Sean Cannell:

Chris, thank you again for having me on and so much love and respect for your audience. You're such a person of integrity, vision, excellence, and I know that people who follow you follow you for those reasons. Massive love and respect to your community. The book's on Amazon. Physically on Amazon, ebook on Amazon, and then Audible for the audiobook. Brand new audiobook recording Benji and I did in the studio. If that's the way you love to consume books, definitely check that out. The second edition, three new chapters, deleted chapter, all rewritten, 90 new pages, brand new appendix with all kinds of free resources and training and videos.

I think it's a good investment of 499 for the ebook if you're interested in doing YouTube, and happy to help and answer anybody's questions. I'm Sean Cannell rhymes with YouTube channel on social media accounts. Hit me up, reach out, tweet me, DM me. Here to help and really believe that YouTube could be a key vehicle to helping you reach your goals in the future. My name is Sean Cannell, and you are listening to The Future.

Stewart Schuster:

Thanks for joining us. If you haven't already, subscribe to our show on your favorite podcasting app and get a new insightful episode from us every week. The Future Podcast is hosted by Future Cheer and produced by me, Stewart Schuster. Thank you to Anthony Barrow for editing and mixing this episode, and thank you to Adam Sanborne for our intro music. If you enjoyed this episode, then do us a favor by reviewing and rating our show on Apple Podcasts. It will help us grow the show and make future episodes that much better. Have a question for Chris or me?

Head over to and ask away. We read every submission and we just might answer yours in a later episode. If you'd like to support the show and invest in yourself while you're at it, visit You'll find video courses, digital products, and a bunch of helpful resources about design and creative business. Thanks again for listening, and we'll see you next time.