Never Underestimate the Power of Community in Life or Marketing

Never Underestimate the Power of Community in Marketing featuring Simon Chou

Episode 11, Tales of Misadventure with Nicole Donnelly Podcast

Feeling overwhelmed and isolated in your entrepreneurship or foundership? You’re not alone!

Simon Chou, CMO of BCjbos and founder of the Marketing on Mars and Innovators podcasts, opens up about his own founder’s experience and about the power of community-led marketing, and the importance of genuine connections.

Some highlights:

  • 2:24 Simon’s spirit animal 
  • 3:48 Going all into being a founder
  • 6:44 Loneliness in foundership
  • 10:29 Building an engaging community on LinkedIn 
  • 18:02 Scaling a service agency from $20k to $2.5 million
  • 21:45 Nurturing relationship and team building for success
  • 31:40 Struggles are real but you need to have fun
  • 43:52 Transparency, self-awareness, and the community advice for future marketers and podcasters


Don’t miss an episode of Tales of Misadventure with Nicole Donnelly by subscribing to our YouTube Channel or wherever you prefer to stream podcasts.

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Hello, hello, and welcome to Tales of Misadventure. I'm joined today by my guest, Simon Chou. I am. So excited to have Simon on the show. He is the founder of not one, but two awesome podcasts, marketing on Mars and Innovators podcast.

And he's grown both podcasts to over 750 views, 750,000 views collectively, which is incredible. And he's also the chief marketing Officer for BC Jobs, which is Western Canada's largest job board. He's an advisor to several B2B companies and teaches them how to leverage podcasting and LinkedIn to build thought leaders.

And Simon is also really passionate about connecting people and building community. He's connected thousand founders, tech professionals, and LinkedIn creators through communities He started.

So, I have been so excited to just pick your brain and learn more about how you've done it because of community. Is like community-led marketing is like all the rage right now. And I think definitely is gonna be what's, you know, more and more companies that are gonna be successful in the years to come are gonna be the ones who are gonna be really successful or the ones who figured out how to leverage that the way that you have.

So I cannot wait to talk about that. So let's, my first question of the podcast is this is when I always ask my guests is, What is your spirit animal? If you could be an animal, any animal, what spirit animal would you be?

Wow. I mean, first of all, I don't deserve that intro. I didn't that guys, that's not me just a regular guy trying to figure things out. We'll, we'll dive into it, but a lot of what happened really just happened in the last two years. Yeah. I'm trying to figure it out like everyone else. So, but thanks for that intro.

Spirit animal.

Now that I've had a little bit of time to think about it I think I'd just be like a cat. I think I'm a cat, like a house cat.

Like a, like a, you know, like a Siamese cat maybe? Or a tabby cat?

Yeah, like a, like a cat in the wild. All right. All right. Cat in the wild that someone picked up the side of the street and then tamed them to be a house cat. And I, and I think that because, you know, for, for me, when I, when I wanna do something, I'm gonna go a hundred percent and I'm all in.

And if I don't wanna do something, I don't touch it. I'm like allergic to it, like how cats are allergic to water or, or cucumbers or what have you. But yeah, I think that's, that's been me and we can talk more about that. And, and why that's the case. And I used to think that that was a huge flaw of mine that I, that I couldn't focus on something that I didn't like, but it helped me focus on things that I love a lot more.

And you can like, so it's been interesting too, and especially the last two years. I've kind of realized this about myself and accepted this about myself and like kind of just dove into that and you just like niched down really hard. Just accepted that part of myself.

Yeah, I love that. So what did it take for you to just realize like, you know what, I'm just gonna go all in on this. What, like, what was the catalyst for you when you decided, you know, this is just who I am, what was there? Was there like an event or did it just kind of happen you just. Started exploring, like podcasting for example, and you're like, I like this.

I'm just gonna keep doing it. Like, what made you come to that, like realization about yourself that you were just gonna go all in like that?

Oh, I, I don't, I don't know if there's one thing is like multiple things. Yeah. And just like every single time I did something that I love, I just kept doing more like events, like running events, for example. Yeah, it's I ran my very first event in November and it, it took a lot of time after work. Like I was doing it at night.

Sometimes my friends would call me out for a beer and I'll be like, sorry, I gotta, I got to sting that. I wanted to plan. I, I wanna see it through. And it was just like 12 people. It was just my very first event that I ran, which was with 12 founders. And we just went to grab some happy hours. A few of them came on my podcast, so like, let's, let's grab a, a couple of my podcast friends and some other founder friends and let's do a founder's happy hour.

Very nice.

So I was like spending a lot of my free time thinking about it and, and some people in the beginning were like, oh, I think you're working too much. A part of me was like I didn't feel like it was work, it was just like getting friends together.


And I didn't know how to explain it at the time to people that I'm actually just having fun. After a while I realized people that don't get it will never get it.


And then people that get it will just be there to support you. And. I don't know what it was. I had founders that I kind of bounced this off of. Luckily I have some advisors that I talked to. I just felt like, am I, am I forcing myself to be someone else? I was like, no, you just, just be who you are.

After a while, I just stopped trying to explain myself. Just do what I want.

Yeah. I love that. And tell me, how was the, that first event you did, what was it like, what was that experience like for you? The first one?

Yeah. It was, it was just fun. Like, I felt like it was just friends. Like I, I don't even like calling my happy hours events. Yeah. Which is why if you look at my LinkedIn, I just call them happy hours. Yeah. Cause I, I just see them as just friends hanging out. 

Wow. And such a great thing because I think as founders there's a lot of loneliness that comes with being a founder. I've experienced, I've been in business now for over three years and I remember the thing that was most surprising for me, that first, first period after I started my business for the first like six months was, it's so, it was so lonely.

I was surprised by that. Like I knew going into it, this is gonna be hard, it's gonna be a, but I think I was surprised by the loneliness, cuz it really is. It's just something being a founder, right?

Like if there's, it's your, you feel this responsibility, this weight, and even people that you may have worked before with in a different capacity, you're now a business owner. I don't know.

What, what do you think it is, what is it about being a founder that's so, can feel so isolating and what is it about your community that you find kind of helps people in that space find connections?

Oh, that's a great question. I know exactly why I'm so lonely. Because as a founder, you are just the founder. Unless it's a co-founder. Yeah. Then you can bounce some ideas off of the co-founder.


And if you want your startup and your company to do well, you have to be all in like your life. This is your baby and you spend so much time thinking about it that yes, nobody else can relate yes to, to what you're doing.

Except for potentially other founders.


Maybe other founders, that have a similar team size, have the sim, similar challenges in the same industry, maybe same marketing budget, and you guys are all just doing everything. We are kind of like at the same life cycle. Those other founders will understand what you're doing.

Aside from that, your best friends will understand you, your family, your cousins, even your partner that spends, you know, your wife or girlfriend or, or, or whatever. They spend most of their time with you and they can't get it because no one gets it the way you get it, so you hit the nail.

That's the reason why I brought these founders together, cuz I wanted other founders to just kind of learn from each other. Share challenges isn't, it's not a salesy environment. I hate, I hate selling, hard selling. I feel like if you provide value to other people and you tell your story enough, people will pick you up.

People will reach out to you. And I, I, I believe in that type, type of selling. Yes. And just like, don't, you don't have to ask If people see value, they will come to you.

So I love that too. It's all about relationships not selling, right? It's like, how can I create a relationship with this person that's gonna provide them value and give them help rather than, you know, asking for something. Cause I think it's what people think of sales they have. It's like you're, you're asking for something, you've gotta give something rather than, you know so I love that approach.

I think it's, it's just, it's just great marketing. It's just great marketing, great sales. It's, it's great for building long-term relationships. And so what do you hear from your, the people that are in your community?

I love that. First of all, I love that it's in person. I think coming outta Covid, people are just aching for more of that kind of like.


You know, in person connection. And, you know, a lot of the, you know, a lot of us work remotely. I work with a lot of my employees, partners remotely. And when we can get together, It's like magic. There's just something about being in the room with the people that you're working with that's really special.

So tell me, like, what are your, what do you hear from the people in your community about what their, what their experience is like and what they're getting out of it?

I can't speak for what other people think is that. I think a lot of people are just, will be polite and they'll say nice things. So I'll never hear the true, true feelings. But I would say like the community that we have of the founders at least very tight-knit, people hang out after, after the events. They,have their own separate half hours when I can make it. And I think between 50 to 70% of our founders always come out every single month.

It's a very highly engaged community. It's not like I don't have an email list of 2000 founders and 30 come out, so that's like a 3% or like 0.3%, whatever. I'm not doing math properly, but like a, such a low engagement, like our, our, our community, like my list, if I, if I can even call it a list, is just my friends on WhatsApp, other founder friends on WhatsApp, and I have 50 founder friends locally.

Last event we had about 35 founders came out. So that's like a 70%, 60 something percent engagement. I don't know.


But I think what's great about that is that the focus is on the quality and not the size of the community. 

Right. And you, I think when you have a smaller community like that, it really allows you to get more, you know, to get and get that better engagement. That's amazing.


So what do you think, like what did it take for you to like, building a community is hard.

It's hard. It's not.


Or is it?

It's really hard. It's really hard.


So tell me like what do you think, what did you, what Like time investment, like what did you feel like you had to get, do sacrifice to be able to build this community?

So it sounds to the point where it sounds like now the people in the community are kind of helping run it for you.

Yeah, I think the hardest part of a community and I think will always be hard is curation. So, You gotta have the right people in the room. Because if I just said all founders of all size, whether you're one weekend, one month in one year, in five year in, 10 years in, like not everyone, like I said in the beginning, the life cycle.

Someone that has a team of one, like a solo founder, like a free, basically a freelancer. They're not gonna understand the struggles of a, of a founder that has a 20 person team. They have a very different struggle. That 20 person team founder is trying to figure out how to hire their middle mar their middle level managers.

How do you hire them and retain them and, and develop, start developing leaders when you get to that 2030 employee team? Team? Like those conversations and those challenges are very different when you talk to them. And I, and I know this cause I've built teams of, of, of 50 before and I know the, the challenges, but I also understand the, the solo one or two or maybe three employees person, that is a very different challenge.

Like you basically are family members with these three people, and you guys are, you guys are like the, you guys are the captains and the co-captains and the janitor and the house cleaner. Like you're doing everything. Right, and that's a different challenge because you need to hire people that are loyal and people that can see your vision.

That's a different challenge, right? You're not looking for mid-level marketers, you're looking for people that are doers and leaders, right? That's a different challenge and, and people like, it's just gonna be different. You're not gonna have the same conversations. And so I had to be very careful with who I brought on.

I've had to say no to a lot of founders. Like I've actually got, I get a lot of DMs on LinkedIn when I, whenever I post and they're like, can I come? And I look at their LinkedIn and they have, they're a solo founder, totally cool, but just not the right fit in the room. Most of the founders have between five to 20 employees.

And so I, I want them to be able to talk about similar challenges. Right. So what I did was I created a separate com community just for those solo founders. I called it a young, Young Tech Professionals Happy Hour. So I can connect those solo founders slash freelancers with other tech professionals in marketing, sales, and, and, and tech like developers cuz that's what they need.

They need to poach other talent and bring them and convince them to join their team. So that is a, is a better, you know, group for them to be in.

I love that. It's so intentional. Very, very thoughtful. You, you know who to say no and when to say no. That's great. Man, Simon.

It's hard.

Yeah. What's hard about it?

First saying no to people cuz I genuinely, I think one of the reasons why, I am open to doing. by the way, I do all these communities unpaid. I don't, I don't have sponsors. No one pays me to do them.

The reason why I do them is because I'm genuinely very curious about people. I've been very fortunate, like right off the bat when I started my marketing career, I, I basically was hired as person number two to build out an agency.

And it was like a crypto currency slash B2B agency, which was the best place for me to start cuz I worked for, I grew the, the agency grew from something like 10, $20,000 in, in, in monthly revenue to about, I think at the peak they were doing 2.5 million. So basically grew it almost a hundred x I don't know if I'm doing the math right, but going through that whole journey.

I got to connect with people all over the world, different types of marketing, and talent. And so it was just really cool. Like I became a team builder and for me I had to be very intentional as well with who I bring on the team. So I really like to understand people's stories. And so that's why community for me, like comes like kind of natural.

Like I don't feel, that's why when, when I told you the story in the beginning, People telling me like, why are you working on the weekends? Why are you working on the evenings? Like, I don't feel like it's work. I'm just connecting with other people that I'm actually genuinely interested in.


And I wanna hear these founder stories and so, so yeah.

I love that. I mean, I think that's true. Like for, for me too personally is like, I love to work because I'm. Just so passionate about it, you know? And I think that's true for so many founders. It's like you just, it doesn't feel like work because you're building something.

You know? You're just building.


Building and building is fun. Oh my gosh. I gotta ask you a question though. Like, you helped scale that company massively. And as someone who's really trying to scale my own business, and I think a lot of our listeners are trying, are in the same situation where they just wanna grow.

They're, you know, scaling is hard, especially an agency, a service-based business is so challenging. Like balancing, you know, utilization versus it's, you know, scope creep and like that chicken and the egg. Is it time to hire yet? And knowing that magic formula is so challenging.

So, and, and just like so I would just love to hear like, what do you think helped you be able to help that company scale? So quickly, cuz that is a huge, like, you know, my, my little tiny, my little tiny micro business has grown 80% in the last year, which to me feels like awesome.

Sometimes I feel like the weight of the responsibility and it just happened so rapidly. Do you know what I mean? So like, how do you, how did you do that and like mentally handle it all, you know, like what's your, what, what would you advise there for someone who's really wanting to grow?

Yeah. I would say like the service business is really hard. I was so lucky that my first role in marketing basically was I, I joined an agency. I think that's the best way to learn.

One year in agency is equivalent to three or four years, depending on how hard you work. And it's like, you just learn. So, so I spent three years in agency. That was like nine years of like actual work. It was, it was a lot. And you're right, like the hardest thing about agency.

It is like balancing. It's all talent. It's all it's talent and sale you need to be able to sell. Right. I was very, very fortunate. The, the founding team they used to work at, like Microsoft and you know, big companies like Stripe, they had really good relationships so they were able to close deals very easily cuz it was just their friends.

That they used to work with that really trusted them.


And so my main thing is just balancing talent. So that in itself was hard. Just making sure that you had enough contractors. We had about over a thousand contractors.


On the bench at, at one given point. When we hit the peak, when, when we're doing, they were doing about 24 million, 25 million per year. Right. And so, I was more focused on the talent management side. I didn't really touch the sales side too much, but I was doing client relations, a lot of client relations.

So you got team building, you got client relations, and then you got sales. You need all those three to do well at the same time.


Cuz you can build the best team and have good client relationship, but you have no sales. It's not gonna go anywhere. The car's not gonna move. Or, or, or the other way around. Some people are really good at sales. You're selling like crazy, right? And you get good client relationship, but then you don't know how to team build.

And so you're gonna close all these deals, but you can't deliver so true. Or you build your team too much and your expense is like seven 80% of your revenue, well then your plan is screwed. Right? Or some people, they just focus on selling. They don't even think of a client relationship, right? They sell the thing.

And then whenever the client messages you, you don't respond 5, 5, 5, 5 days because you just don't have the, the team do it. Right. So like for me, my shtick in the beginning was team building and client relations.

Interesting. Right.

And then I had a really good founder team. Like I saw how good they are with sales and it was all relationships. Like, to your point, in the beginning it was all about relationship building. They, they just built the best. They had, they had a really good reputation mm-hmm. For, for a long period of time. They never did the wrong thing.

When they like working with integrity, you would say when, when they always did the right thing, like they just were, had massive integrity. They said what they were gonna, they did what they said they were gonna do and all of that. So, yeah.

Yeah. Team building seems to be a major superpower of your assignment, and I know you're so modest you would, I'm sure you would never admit to that, but from what I'm hearing, it does seem like that is a strength, a core strength of yours.

You're building a community that's takes team building. What do you think it takes to build an awesome team? I,

I'm just like very honest.


With myself and with the team. When something is not going right, I'm, I'm the first to tell them and like, Making decisions that are, that are tough, right? Sometimes, and you, you've put a lot of, a lot of listeners and you yourself have experiences. You hire the best person and, and they're, they're amazing for about five months and you love them and you've gotten to, because you have to invest in them and you invested so much in them, but things are not working out for whatever the reason is.

I'm already letting them know in month three that it's not working out. I'm not gonna wait until month five. And, but when on the flip side, you, you have to be very fair. When people are doing really well, you need to give them love, you need to reward them to let 'em know that this is what happens when things go well, this is what happens when things don't go well and I'm on and I'm fair on those sides.

Right, right. That's so good.

Need people need to know the vision of what you're trying to build. Because a lot of the times when you're, when you're hiring, some of your best hires are probably that junior level hire and you grow them into a mid, mid-level marketer or a senior leader. Those are the best hires cuz tho, tho those hires will, will see the value, like see that you've actually grown with them and, and that you're very fair to them and they're just gonna be around forever for you because you, you guys are truly a team.

Right, right.

Whereas so many, I think especially in agency, I've seen this, I've seen this happen a lot. Just talking to other agency owners, owners, like people think about themselves and their profits so much and they don't think about the people in the actual team. Like they have a living that they, that they want to, like amount of money that they want to make.

They have goals. If you don't even know their goals, then that's like a, that's a huge issue. I know exactly how much each of my team members wanna make cuz I'm, I believe in radical transparency. I, I tell them how much I think that they will make in, in a year and I'll tell 'em, I'll get you there. If I don't get you there, I'll find you a role that will pay you that.

There's few times where I knew that I couldn't get this person to the goal, this goal, and I told them, you know what? Work with us for 12 months gaining experience, and then you can look for a job. I'll even help you with your resume and cover letter and we'll, I'll give you like the best reference letter.


Because I know that I can't take them there.


But I always try to have my best to bring people on my team where I know that I can actually make a difference in their life. Right. So it's like super transparent with everything.

I love that. Radical transparency. I love, like, I love what you said about bringing people in Junior. Cuz they're so hungry. They're so hungry and they want to grow. And if they, and if you treat them well, they'll be so loyal. Like if you treat them well and reward them.

And they're building it with you so they feel invested in what it's like they're part of it. And it, there is, you're right, there is something really special about that first growing, starting part of a business.

I remember I interviewed someone on the podcast and I asked 'em, I was like, what advice would you give to someone who's just starting out? And you know what he said? He said, enjoy it because those first days are so fun. Like, it's just like the best. So just like live it up, the, the highs, the lows and all of that.

Like the first phase of starting a business, you're just like, just enjoy that phase and it's gr it's right, it's true. When you find the right people and, and, and when it's small, they have to be, they have to be the right people, you know, pretty quickly if they're not, yeah. So, yeah. Wow, that's so, such great.

But like, even, even as you continue to grow, I think where companies fail as they're growing. They think they don't have to be so strict with every single hire. Like for me, with the, with the agency, every single contractor mattered.


It's not, it's not like, oh, just the first five mattered and after, after five just hire whoever I want. No, like every single hire matters. And that's how the agency was able to grow from, you know, 10,000, $20,000 per month. To 2.5 million.


Per month in revenue. Every single hire matter matters because in a, especially in agency, you don't have inventory.


You don't have, you don't have like products. Your product is your people.

Your product is your people.

Like, if you got, you don't have good people, you don't have, you don't have a company. You don't have good company. Right. So

That's so true.

And I was very fortunate. I, I had a mentor He, he grew one of the largest product agencies in Vancouver. He's been in the business for 25 years. Like he's a legend in this space. His company does about a hundred over a hundred million dollars per year in revenue. He came on to my podcast as well, which is why I love podcasting and I love giving back. And going to other people's podcasts as well. Cuz I built the best relationships through, via the podcast and then it turned into communities.

Never thought I was a community guy. I just, I never would've imagined, I never was part of a community before. I always liked to do everything on my own, right? Like most founders, cuz they're so lonely. And so I just embrace the loneliness for years, for years, right? And I'm just like, once I started connecting with other podcasters or my guests and, and did a couple of happy hours, I truly did feel happy.


I actually did feel happy. I'm like, wow, I can actually talk about these things with someone and people understand. Whereas before, I would always just tell my friends and they're all doing something different.


Somewhere in like nursing, somewhere in like, In, in, you know, in the dentistry field. And I love them with all my heart. I, we can't talk about the deep things about building a business like other founders. And when you're a founder, that's what you wanna be talking about, man. And sometimes like when I'm with my friends and family. It's just like all I wanna do is think and talk about the business.

You know, it's so hard to turn it off and they don't, they don't get it. They don't really care like you care, you know? So I totally get what you're saying. Like, I love and appreciate, like I have, I love my LinkedIn community and I love, I have this support. Well, we have a LinkedIn community, well, not like a real, just like just people on LinkedIn.

I don't have my own community yet, but.


But someday.

We should talk. We should talk.

Yeah. I would love that. I have, I have a LinkedIn.

I think. I think you saw. So I have a group of LinkedIn creator friends that they create very regularly, and we meet on the last Tuesday of every month. We're all, we're all from different parts of the world, and we're just gonna talk about our, our, our struggles.

 love talking about struggles because like, you get to be vulnerable and, and you're actually sharing things that are happening in your business rather than just, you know, gloating and talking about all the rainbows and butterflies that are happening.

Like what? What can we learn from that? I maybe with some, some from that, but it's the challenges that where we learn the most.

So since we're talking about struggles, what are you struggling with right now, Simon?

What am I struggling with? I'm trying to, I'm struggling because my friends are outside by the pool.

You're stuck talking to me.

I'm just kidding.

Don't worry, you're gonna hit the pool soon. Come on. This is way more fun than being in the pool.

This is way more fun.

I am like so honored that you would spend time on your vacation talking to me like. To me, like that just shows me how committed you are to building relationships with people. So I, I just really appreciate that. But, but, but like, there is no vacation as a founder. It's, it's always on.

It's always on. It's on, it's on when you go to bed, when you wake up in the morning, it's no matter where you're in the world, you know?

Doesn't matter.

Yeah, I haven't, I haven't taken a real vacation in probably like, two years. But you know.

What is a real vacation? Because in my opinion, like if you love what you do, it's just integration. You know, like I've talked to people on the podcast before and said, you know, what's your ideal day?

You know what? They all tell me, oh, I'm gonna be on the beach catching up a little bit on work and da, da, da, and then I get to spend some time at the be It's like integration. It's like you're doing what you love in a place that you love. And, you know, that's a beautiful thing. Like, you know, so I think if you're doing that and that's what you wanna be doing, that's, that's a big change. I love this.


This is great. This is great. I don't want anyone listening to this podcast to feel bad for me talking, Nicole. I wish you guys could see what I see. Nicole, you saw it. I saw, saw it. It is like turquoise gold.

Amazing. Oh, it's beautiful.

Yeah. Yeah.

Your question, I'm sorry. I'm struggling with not being able at the pool, but.

What are you, what else are you struggling with?

Yeah, yeah. Okay. All right. All right. The real, no more joking around. Okay. The real struggles right now our biggest struggle right now is I'm trying to decide I whether to continue to do communities like I'm doing because it's getting larger.


Like my founder, just my founder stuff started with just 12 founders and it grew to 20, 25, 30. Our last event two weeks ago, 35 founders came out. It's getting large and harder to manage. I don't get paid for it, so I'm trying to decide and I've, I've had people reach out potentially to sponsor and I need to push back, like if I, if I gonna take any sponsorship monies to help out. I need to do it my way.


Cuz I cause my events, the reason why they work is cuz I focus on the people in the room. There's no guest panel. You don't have to listen to some people talk for like an hour. We can do that right now. Like we, we can go on YouTube and we can listen to any podcast and we can listen to the top speakers, speak for an hour.

We can pause it, go make a sandwich, use the washer, use the washer and whatever, come back and we can play. But when you go to an event, You're taking your time outta your day, you're driving into downtown, you're parking your car, you're paying money, potentially, you have to pay for a babysitter, sit down, you want to connect with everyone in the room, and you're stuck listening to a panel for an hour.

Yeah, I agree with that.

I'm not a huge fan of that. So if I were to do anything with sponsorships, it would have to be like, I might have to incorporate my hot sauce that somehow how Keep it fun, keep it light. So that's my biggest challenge is like, As it as it grows. There's always gonna be challenges, like growing pains.

And right now it's like the size. We just recently did an event, and I posted about it a few days ago. We had about 110 people in a, in a room. Just HR, just people in HR, recruitments, tech. We did a panel, so. I had to balance that out and I brought like a K-pop dance crew that after that came right after the, the panel, balance out the vibe. It was not too serious. Too serious. Find right away. So yeah, like that's my, my biggest challenge is like thinking about how to manage the, the events with the communities.

I love what you're doing though, cuz even when I was watching your podcast episodes with your hot sauces, You do bring this element of just fun to what you do, Simon, and people are look like we, we are looking for that. Founders are looking for that.

They wanna have fun while they're working. They wanna be able to do that. So that k k-pop, that sounds amazing.

Oh yeah.

Yeah, man.

We spend 60, some of us, especially founders, we're spending 60, to your point, maybe even 70% of our waking days. Thinking about work or working,

Oh, it's 90%.

Like even maybe 90. Seriously, if you're not working, you're thinking about it. Right? You're thinking about it.


You wake up in the middle of the night thinking about it, you know? It's for sure.


And then you go out to these events because you want to grow, you wanna meet other founders, and then it's all so serious sometimes, and it's just like, why are you just so serious?


Like this is, this is our livelihood. We do this for a living. We're, we're thinking about it all the time, like, work is life for us. Why can't we do it fun? Like serious work versus fun work. If you had to choose one, what would you do? Right.

Oh, so true.

And I, and I think the, the light bulb moment for me, obviously the podcast, like you mentioned, taking shots of hot sauce, realizing that we've had companies like CMO, Snack Overflow came on our show. That's a $2 billion company. He took hot sauce shots with me on a podcast.

We're getting another company that's gonna come on the show. Not gonna release it yet, but they do, they do 600 million in revenue and we're gonna be doing hot sauce shots. She's so excited, so excited about it.

I think after doing this podcast and obviously living through Covid made me realize that I think the world is just, we're not, we're not so serious anymore. We spent two years during Covid locked in. We were working in our pajamas or sometimes not wearing pajamas. And, and life was fine. We were still professional.

We were still, we were still able to grow and maintain and keep the team and everything. We don't have to put this like thought of like corporate, you know, very formal kind of thing. I think people just want to have fun. Oh. And people are just want the, they want the authenticity and the and just the trans, like, I just think people are looking for that.

You know, like I, it's one of our values at our company. It's fun. It's one of our values. You know, when we work with you, we're gonna, it's gonna be a fun, we're gonna have a fun time together. Like, and I think our clients really appreciate that. Like, we come and there's a lot of energy and. Laughter and it just doesn't, you know, and they, they're, I just think we're craving that kind of experience wherever we go.

So I, I love that you're, I love that you, you're building that.

Do, do you do a lot with community and like events and stuff?

Not yet. No. No. So we are just starting, we're actually in the brainstorming phase of actually creating a community for our customers where they can come once a month. And we do like a kind of like an informal q and a where they can all come and meet each other.

We work with a lot of solo marketers. So we're just starting to test that out. We've been talking to them about and see. Would, is this something you'd be interested in and come to? Of course they're all like, yeah, I wanna come. And of course they want it to be informal, right? Like, they're like, we don't wanna come here spiel, we just wanna come and I just wanna talk to other people, you know, like, so like, like in their similar shoes.

So we're starting to kind of like test the waters with that, just like with our clients. But it is something I think as a marketer that any business needs to be thinking about. Is how you can leverage the community of your customers and have them sell for you by creating this really awesome experience.

So I haven't figured out how to do it. I know that it's important and it's the future, but I haven't gotten there yet. Like you have, Simon.

I think as long as like, yeah, like you, to your point, as long as you keep it fun, it's fine. You'll, you'll do fine. Like, look, look at a very, very good example here. You remember the news, watching the news and all that, like that's probably the most formal still in suits and everything.

I can't remember the last time watched news. Watched the news.

Yeah, I can't either.

I don't know who watches the news, but I'll watch like Instagram short updating me about all world events. I'll watch that cause it has nice animations and it's fast paced. And it's not really super formal. Like, I'll do that. I don't know.

Or I'll listen to a podcast. I listen to podcasts that are like really fun. And, and I'll do that like I'm a huge consumer of podcasts. Learn.

What podcast are you listening to?

Well now I have to add your podcast onto the list, that's for sure. I wanna know what everyone's spirit animal is. That's, that's a good first, first question. I listened to, All In podcast.

All In. Okay. I wanna make a note for that.

My First Million.

Oh, I've heard about that. My first million. I've heard of that one.

Yeah, so I listened to that. I get a lot of inspiration from them because they're just like friends talking super casual. They'll swear on the podcast and everything. And then obviously hot ones, the spicy chicken wing challenge. So I, I, I love that, that inspired me a lot, obviously. Just whatever I watch, I just like watching people that are super authentic.


And like, just unapologetically themselves. They don't, they don't to be someone else on camera. And so that's why it's so consistent. It's always them. They always show up and even when they go, like even if when you meet them in person, it's the same, same person.

Yeah. Right, right.

So I love that.

Very cool. So I, man, I just wanna keep talking to you. You're so fun.

We can, we can forever, forever.

Don't go to the pool. Just keep talking to me. So what do you do? Like, so one of the other things questions I have is just like mental fitness. Cuz I think of course along with the loneliness, there is a lot.

Like, it's a, I'm not gonna, you know, entrepreneurship is a rollercoaster. It is totally a mind mindset case.


You know, like if you want to build resilience and you wanna like build a, a healthy headspace, be an entrepreneur. Cuz I swear it challenges you to just like really cultivate a healthy internal self-talk, right?

Because you're constantly doubting yourself. There's so much uncertainty you don't know what you're doing half the time people are looking to you like just being real. Like, I, you know, yesterday I was just, I was honest with my team. I was like, guys, I'm, I'm having a little bit of imposter syndrome today.

You know, and they appreciated that I said that they were like, you know, they were totally there for it. And you know, some people would be like, you should never share that with your team. But I'm like, you know what? Whatever. That's who I am. You know? I don't know. But what do you do for like mental fitness?

What do you do to like cultivate a really healthy, healthier, not he, but like healthier mindset, way of approaching the challenges that come with running a podcast and running a business. Besides going to Cancun and going to the beach.

Yeah. Yeah. That's nice. Yeah. That's, that's, that's nice. I, I think, yeah, I, I, I travel two, three times a year.


Kind of gives me something to look forward to.


And it, usually when I travel, I usually stay at a place for 2, 2, 3 months at a time as well. So I'm actually living there, so for a while. This time I'm only gonna be here for a week, but last year I was in Mexico for three months. That keeps me kind of motivated, like something to look forward to and then back to what you were saying, I think just being super open, like radical transparency.

I share so much with my team.


Things that they probably like. Some other people listening to it, they'll be, wow, you, you shared that with your team.

Yeah. Gimme an example.

We, last week or two weeks ago I wanted, I wanted my team to experience what it's like to interview on the podcast. So, I, so I flip the switch the, the, the script a little bit. So they asked me tough questions and if I can't answer, I gotta take a shot Hot time, where my show, I'm asking my guests, right?

So I've made it so that they can interview me. We recorded it and think we're, we're probably gonna post something on TikTok. What questions they asked me, they asked me like, really tough questions. They asked me like my most embarrassing story. And I told them a few that were pretty embarrassing. Which I don't know if I'll tell here on, on this podcast.

That's okay. You don't have to.

But Yeah. But you'll, that's cool that you don't has like, I love that you're saying there, like, one of the things that you do for mental fitness is just be transparent, be self-aware.

Don't like push down the feelings that you're having. Embrace them and accept whatever it is that you're feeling. And let it be what it is, instead of feeling like you need to feel a different way. So last, three weeks ago I did my, a Founders Happy Hour.


45 founders came out. It was huge. And we, we posted something, we had like 10, 12,000 impressions. On that, on that post on LinkedIn, over a hundred something likes 112 or something. I think it's still still going. 90 something comments.

And then I woke and then I woke up. My, my team right away was like, that is, that was such an amazing post. I was like, one of our best posts. And then I just stopped him and I'm like, I feel like I'm a, I'm a, I'm an imposter. Like, I, I don't think I deserve this.

I just started, I just started these events literally just five months ago. So I told my team, I actually, I actually sat my team down very seriously and I'm like,


If we are gonna post, let's not boast about it.


Because we're not, we're not who we think we are. We're just five months in. My team was so excited about it, but, but I, I told them, don't, don't do that. Like, that's, I love people. We're doing this for other people. I'm really glad that people can come together, but we're still trying to figure this out.

Like, if someone hires me today and says, can you run events for me? I was like, I can do it based on my experience, but I'm not, I'm not the expert that you think I am. I'm just, I'm still figuring it out. And I think that that's, that's what I like, that's what I tell my team all the time. It's just, yeah, I don't, we're, we're all still trying to figure it out.

Just massive humility and I think that your team really resonate, like when you're humble in that way. I. Okay. And you can admit maybe that you don't have it figured out and you tell your team, look, I'm not sure, or I don't know. I haven't figured it out. It just builds those little, it builds connection with them and they just, they just, I, I find that they just wanna follow you even more rather than if you just come across like you've got it all figured out and you know the way, you know, that's yeah.


Maybe. Yeah. But, but I, but I feel like I do that because I want my team to be honest with me too.


Like one of, one of my team members had a really tough year last year. There's like a death in her circle. She, and she took it really rough and I said, just take your time off. It's like you don't cancel all the team meetings.

You don't have to come to our team meetings, go on vacation or whatever. Take your time off. We'll find a way. We'll find a way to get things done, right. So yeah, like, I just, I, I just think being honest, it's just such a good practice in life. Like you, if you had a choice between being honest and not, like, why not?

Just be honest. You, things will always come back. Every, I believe in Karma. If you're just gonna, if, if you're gonna be, if you're gonna be lying, if you're gonna be unethical, it's, it's gonna come back to you, right? So, No, I think just live honest, honestly.

Love that. Live honestly. Drop the mic live, honestly.

Throw, throw this mic into thel pool.

Well, I know you have a pool to get to, so I don't wanna take up, but I do have one, well, two, two more questions for you. Okay. The fir, the next one is you've grown your podcast like it's, it's pretty remarkable how quickly you've grown your podcast. What would you advise to people, and I know your massive humility is, I like totally appreciate, but like maybe from your experience, what would you advise to anyone out there who's looking to build a podcast or market their business even today?

Like what would be your marketing advice on what's worked for you?

Be really active in the community. If you can't, if you don't have time to start the community, cuz it does take time.


And it's gonna take, and it's gonna take your evenings and yours and your weekends. If you don't have, if you don't feel like you wanna invest in that and you, and you don't have, you know's, totally understandable.

Join the community. Be very active.

I started being very active last November, October-ish. And I've seen the biggest change. It's been, it's been amazing. Amazing. For my, for my personal LinkedIn page for the podcast, cuz they kind of work hand in hand. Hand hand, right. I am the podcast. The podcast is me kind of, and now, now I added one additional pie piece to the pie, which is community.

Now the community is my podcast and me, it's like a little triangle that kind of, builds on each other. Community. Just, just keep, keep telling the story. It took me 40 episodes, no, maybe like 60 episodes of podcasting to be able to really sell myself well. Like I was really bad, really, really bad.

The first 30 episodes of my new show, there was, there was not a company larger than 20 million in revenue that would come on the show and so many rejections. I think it was like probably two out of 10 companies would say yes from our outreach. Now we're getting eight outta 10 companies say yes and also companies referring other companies to our show. And bigger companies are coming on the show, but, and it's all because of community.

So when you say community, is it because you had created a separate community for all your podcast guests to come to?

This is your events, right? Or were you like engaging in between shows to continue to build those relationships, you know, like through LinkedIn or whatever the case may be?



Yeah. I was doing both. Very cool. Yeah. Yeah. I have a, and, and also I have a, I have a list of people that I really want to connect with.


And rather than asking them, for help or for their time. Instead, I just supported what they're doing. Every single week I went on their page and I just supported everything that they do. I like a comment here, even if, even if they never give anything back to me, I just wanna give them some love and I wanna help them grow.

Right now my LinkedIn is, is a little stronger, so I have a lot more power to influence. And I still do the same thing. I haven't, I haven't changed that philosophy cuz why, why change? What has made me who I am now?

Yeah, absolutely.

Right. There's no point changing now. So yeah, just community and just keep giving.

I love it.

To 12 of other people and things will come back to you tenfold.

I think we need to end on that. That's like the best now.

Now I'll drop the mic.

Now we drop the mic. Community and giving and you, it'll come back to you tenfold. I couldn't agree with that enough. That is like such a way to end our podcast today and our conversation.

And I, man, I just think it's, it's pretty amazing to see. I just appreciate your transparency and your authenticity.

It really comes through and I can see just from this conversation how you've been able to successfully build a team. Because just from talking to you, you can tell that people will trust you because you just are someone who truly cares. About the people that you connect with and that you really wanna help them and that really, you know, that really helps people.

Appreciate it, appreciate it. Feel connected. So yeah, I mean, you cared enough to come on my show while you're at the beach, so thank you.

Yeah. Awesome.

This has been such a pleasure.

You’re a fantastic interviewer.

Oh, thank you.

Well, I'm learning, this is episode 11, so

Ooh, wow. You're gonna be fantastic once you get to 50.


Oh, over 50. It's gonna be crazy.

Oh, thank you. Well, thank you so much. I appreciate that. But you know what, I would love to get your feedback. Like as someone who's been doing like, I really enjoy doing this podcasting a lot. I just like this conversation has been so, like I've learned so much from you. It's been super fun. I'd love to stay connected with you and. Be part of your LinkedIn community, like.

Let's do it.

That would be super awesome.


When, yeah. I'll send you I'll send you an email

That'd be cool.


And, and you can come out to the LinkedIn com.

I think it'll be great to have you there.

Simon Chou is a connector, a community builder, and a marketer of excellent caliber. His two popular podcasts, Marketing on Mars and Innovators, don't just bring in an impressive 750,000 views, but also demonstrate his knack for communication and a value-oriented approach. 

BCJobs, the largest job board in Western Canada, has benefited from his savvy strategies as their Chief Marketing Officer. Above all, Simon strives to break the isolation bubble many entrepreneurs find themselves in.