Audience Growth

Shaan Puri, Saagar Enjeti

Growth Summit 2022

How to build a loyal following and turn your audience into customers



[00:00:00] Aadil Razvi: He anchored the first internet morning show of its kind called Rising from the Hill. Before, he and his co-host Krystal Ball broke off and started their own show called Breaking Points. Now they have 839,000 YouTube subscribers and run their own independent media company.

Please show some love to my childhood friend, Saagar Enjeti. Say hello in the chat everybody.

Energy. Energy in the chat. All right.

The co-host of my favorite podcast, My First Million previously, he founded Beebo, which was acquired by Twitch and currently runs a successful e-commerce brand. He has 315,000 followers on Twitter and teaches a power writing course on Maven and has the biggest crypto newsletter called Milk Road.

He refuses to come out to a cold room. He literally keep a log off right now if we don't see some action in the chat. So please give a warm welcome to Shaan Puri.

[00:00:54] Shaan Puri: That's right. I need that energy. If I don't get that energy, I'm outta here. I'm going somewhere that will give it to me.

[00:01:00] Aadil Razvi: Last year, man, I loved that you walked in, you were like all drop, 0 to 10.

How are you feeling at, if you're at a 10, how are you feeling at the beginning of the the session? And that just set things off. So let's kick it off. So you're to 10, How are you feeling at the start of this session? We just did a bunch of breath work. So everybody should feel pretty pumped.

[00:01:19] Shaan Puri: Yeah. How good is other ship? By the way? This whole thing is my portfolio, by the way. Invested in other ship, invested in Goldcast . What else you got for me? Maven? Yeah.

[00:01:27] Aadil Razvi: Maven, Yeah. We just went through your portfolio and started DMing . Alright. Cool. Let's go ahead and keep things off.

We'll start high level. I'll ask you all about your feelings on audience building today. We'll go into a new segment that I'm calling, Repeat that tweet. I'm gonna show each of you some tweets from your Twitter and get your feedback on more context and and why it worked.

And then we'll get into some more tactical, what specific tactics worked for you at different stages of your growth. But let's go ahead and kick things off. How do you think about audience building and what does your audience mean to you, Shaan?

[00:02:10] Shaan Puri: Oh, wow, emotional question. How do I think about it?

I think about it like I don't really think about it. It's the byproduct of what I do. So the way I approached it was after I sold my company, I said, Alright. I could do whatever I want now. So , hey, time to face the tough question. What do I actually wanna do? What do I actually care about in my life?

What? Those were big questions that kind of scared me. So then I trimmed it down. I said, All right how do I just wanna spend my days? What would be a normal, what would be a great day that I could do every day? And the thing that came to me was like, the thing I enjoy doing the most is just getting curious.

I'm generally very curious about things, and if I have to go do work and then put those on the side and hopefully get to them when I get to them. That seemed that was not great. But if I could just make my work that I could just be curious about these things, whether it's crypto or it's audience building or some new science tech thing, or it's, where the hell, do peanuts grow on trees or from the ground?

I don't know. Let me go find out. Whatever it is. I was like, I wanna be professionally curious. All right. That's cool. The curious part's easy. How do you be professionally curious? One way was let me turn that curiosity into content. So I'll take these questions that I want to go look into, and then I just gotta package up my learnings at the end and share them with others.

All right, Cool. That'll make it more fun for me, and it'll turn into something that actually generates. A bunch of income, which will let me just do this all the time. That was my thought process. So audience building and content was just a kind of a necessary means to an end or a byproduct of the main thing I wanted to do, which was just be professionally curious, be able to wake up and just dive into the things that's most on my mind that day, and have no other restrictions beyond that.

[00:03:57] Aadil Razvi: Got that. Saagar, what about you?

[00:04:00] Saagar Enjeti: Yeah, I think that building an audience is a lot like making money especially in the year 2022, which is that you have to provide something that doesn't exist and then people will commoditize it with their attention. Or, if you're a business and you're building, you're trying to get revenue.

So with the way that I built my show and the way that I consistently think about building and getting more audience is just to continue to fill niches. You started out filling one particular niche, built niches and niches. Put an underlying philosophy that GERDs that and then continue to try and build more on top of that, which just results in overall top line figure that continues to go up.

It actually don't think it's really that complicated as a concept. It's just incredibly complicated to execute which is why not a lot of people do it, and there's really, not that many people at the very top of the game and why, in the whole influencer market, all returns are exponential.

Both, the top 0.01% of podcasts get just so many more downloads than even the top 1% of podcasts. Like what I figured when I found out what was even in the top 1%, I was like, wait, like 20,000 downloads? How can you, I was like, I don't even know how you make a living for something like that.

And then, you compare that to what the top are. So I think that execution is harder than anything else in this game, probably exactly the same as business. It sounds easy to fill a niche but actually doing that, doing on a consistent basis over years and years through changing conditions, changing market conditions for business, changing information environment.

For somebody who's in the content game, that's where the scale all comes into play.

[00:05:33] Shaan Puri: Simple, not easy, right? It could be simple what the answer is, but not necessarily easy. We did this like getaway, like this getaway where wet play basketball with a bunch of interesting people, and one of the people that came was Mr.

Beast, the number one YouTuber in the world. So he knows a thing or two about audience building, and it's if you talk to him, you're like, Hey, Awesome. What's the secret? What's the trick for getting huge on YouTube? And he's like I just wanna make the best YouTube video as possible, make great videos.

And we're like, Okay. Yeah. But yeah. How'd you do it? How'd you become number one? He said I just try to make great videos. Every day I just wake up and I'm like, All right, what's a great video? How do I make that? And it's like simple, not easy in the sense that he didn't overcomplicate. Okay what makes a great video?

Something that gets your attention, something that holds your attention, something that makes you feel something at the end, laughter or, feel good moment or outrage, whatever it is you could choose. And you could break it down from there and add a little more detail, but fundamentally, you're not gonna get some answer that's damn.

I'd never thought of that. Wow. They had this insight that's just wasn't available to me. And now that I have this insight, now I too can go succeed. It's like the people who are the best do the simple thing just better than everybody else.

[00:06:51] Saagar Enjeti: Totally agree.

[00:06:52] Aadil Razvi: Is making great content is that really the bottom line here? If you were to say what separate that top 1% thats was mentioning from the other 99%. Is it as simple as just make great content or..

[00:07:07] Shaan Puri: You went through YC, right? Although you guys, Were you in YC?

[00:07:10] Aadil Razvi: Yeah, we did. Yes.

[00:07:11] Shaan Puri: Yeah. What's the YC motto?

YC, The greatest startup accelerator in the world bar on as the greatest track record, created almost half a trillion dollars of value of the companies that went through it. What's the secret? Make something people want is their motto, , just try to, Hey, startup, don't get distracted by fundraising and press and all these other things that you could try to Growth hacks.

Are you making something people want? Of course. Really tell me how do you know what gives you that feeling? And then they sort I don't know, I just assumed I was, it sounds so simple that I just assumed I was already doing that. Same thing with content or audience building. Are you making content that people want?

That's the thing is I just make great content is make content that people want. That's what great content is. When he talked about picking niches and then figuring out how to serve that niche, that's what he is doing. Making content that people want in that category and then doing it better than others and doing it consistently so they build a habit, etc.

[00:08:07] Saagar Enjeti: I completely agree. Yeah. I get approached by a lot of people. Will this light do it for me, Will this camera? I'm like, Camera's not your problem, bro. I'm like, Your content's problem. I'm like, Make content good. Everything follows the Math. I recently spent $60,000 on cameras, and that's after three years of doing this, but needing 4K cameras was an added benefit for my existing audience, not

what I needed for a requisite to start, like sure, there's the baseline level of production, I think a pop filter like a Yeti USB mic and a basic webcam. And that is not a high startup cost. And everybody's what about my thumbnails? What about my listen, thumbnails matter, headlines matter, all that other stuff matters, etc.

But what Shaan is talking about, which is that all Mr. Beast does is he knows exactly how to rank a retention, thumbnail all of that, stack it all on top of each other, iterate it a million times, and then come up with the quote unquote secret sauce. He has the exact same YouTube dashboard that I have that all of us have that you have access to.

He just figured out how to read it. Better than anybody else. So I always say, is the content good? That's my number one concern. Is it good? Is it compelling? And that, as he said, it's simple. It's not easy. At a certain point it is strange. Like it is really one of those you know it when you see it.

I can listen to something and be like, that's compelling. And I can listen to something just ah, I don't know what it is, ma'am, but this needs work. And it is tough to exactly explain what that is.

[00:09:33] Aadil Razvi: We listened to a session on product-led growth yesterday, and it was almost like everybody was what's the hack?

What's the tactic? What's the secret? And our speakers were very simply you need an A+ product in order to have any sort of product-led growth. And I feel like the principle stands true for any form of of audience growth as well.

Now both of you have pretty distinct personal brands as well as like a business brand that you're both independently growing, either on accident or on purpose.

How do you think about the sort of brand building as a company, as an entity versus personal brand building. Do you have any heuristics or ways of thinking about it Saagar? The way that you use your own Twitter versus breaking points.

[00:10:23] Saagar Enjeti: Yeah, that's interesting. So from a business perspective, obviously it has to be whenever, and Shaan you too.

You're like, you're in a partnership, right? So this is inherently not something that you have total and a hundred percent freedom on. So whenever I'm doing something under the VP umbrella or, business or hiring, it's not necessarily just a reflection of me, it's a reflection of the ethos and the principles that we decided that we were gonna grow on, mutually agreed on together.

Within that framework, everything is being branded, is being used. That's a reflection of us, of our philosophy, etc.. On my personal brand to be honest, I just have a lot less capacity for caring. If I'm interested in it, I'm just gonna explore it. I, frankly, I'm at a level where I can do that if I want to, and if people have me, I'm just like, I literally don't care.

Either Instagram...

[00:11:09] Aadil Razvi: you know how hard it was, Saagar to find tweets that I'm able to show..

[00:11:13] Saagar Enjeti: Yeah. I was like, I was a little scared whenever you were like, I was like, Oh man. I was like, we're gonna piss off half the audience. But that's fine. I'm used to it. Yeah. In this line of work, and that's what I'm getting at, which is that there, the business has an orientation, which is A make money B perpetuated itself for me, personally, obviously my personal brand, I probably thought about this very differently whenever I was younger and I was like on the up and up, but at this level, I actually just do whatever I want to do.

And so that is, The only dichotomy between the two.

[00:11:44] Aadil Razvi: How do you think about it, Shaan?

[00:11:46] Shaan Puri: So what kind of answer would be interesting to you here? What's like the... I try to figure out what's the question behind the question? So the question, the surface question is what's the difference between your pod brand and your personal brand?

But what is the question behind that?

[00:12:02] Aadil Razvi: The question behind that? Here, let me start with the problem. So the problem is that audience building as a brand is hard, It's hard to create affinity when it's not coming from a human face. And people often find, at least in the folks that I've chatted with even personally, honestly, Demand Curve's Twitter has been difficult to grow

versus personally like individuals as, like Julian, for example, has a much easier time with his growth than we do as a company account. Yeah, the question behind the question, that's a great question Shaan is how ought to like how should startups and companies be thinking about audience building when they have yeah, but they have got like the personal brand and their...

[00:12:52] Shaan Puri: Now I understand. Yeah. The question really is what am I doing wrong here with Demand Curve? Eh but more generally speaking I don't know, I haven't cracked this nut what's the difference? I've noticed personal brands are easier to grow, but I also, I do, I want my company thing to grow, blah, blah, blah.

I think that here's my like, very simple slash controversial take on this, which is, I think if you're a company, You should be using individual faces to grow, you'll grow faster that way. If you're an individual trying to grow like a media property, you should put it under a brand umbrella mostly because you can't ever sell you.

So if you wanted this to be an asset and not a job, you need it to grow its own brand. Like you need breaking points. Or like in my case, like I had a personal newsletter and a personal Twitter that grew really fast. I grew my personal Twitter from like 10 or 20,000 followers to it's at 300,000 in a year, basically a year and a half.

In a year, we got to 200,000. Then it just trickled up. But great, what am I gonna do with that? I'm I don't really wanna be some like influencer and and great I can't hand this off to anybody. It's my voice. It's my name. It's my face. So it's a job now I need to maintain this thing.

And it's cool cause like I just don't get, like I'm like, I just don't care. So I'll go six weeks without tweeting cause I'm not trying to maintain some schedule is not a business of mine. But when I created the Milk Road, it's intentionally not called Shaan's crypto newsletter, which actually would've been easier at the start to get subscribers for, because people already had bought into the Shaan franchise.

So going for, oh, Shaan's gonna talk about crypto and do crypto analysis and crypto opinions. Great. I wanna know about that , but instead, I called it the Milk Road cause I thought one day, I'd like to not be the guy writing this thing. One day, I'd like to not be the person maybe even owning this thing. I'd like to sell this someday.

I want this to be an independent asset. And so for that, again, me as an independent media content creator, I created a brand umbrella for those reasons. But let's say it was my startup, I would be saying, Hey, I'm Shaan, the growth guy from Beebo and I wanna talk about growth over here. The Beebo account doing it because it's gonna get less play because people would rather follow people than companies.

And so you got to use, you make that trade off when you're already a company. Then use the fact that people would rather follow people. If you're an individual, you take a little hit by putting it under a brand umbrella, but you get this big benefit of it's not tied to your name and face forever that way.

So it's a strategic bet. That's my opinion on this.

[00:15:28] Aadil Razvi: That's super helpful. And it points to the problem that we originally had at Demand Curve where so much of our brand equity was tied up in Julian's brand equity. And being able to build that up under a new brand has certainly been something that we've done over the last couple of years.

That's super helpful. Okay, we yeah, let's go ahead and start the, Repeat that Tweet segment. We're gonna experiment with screen sharing for the first time. See how this goes. And yeah. Both of you all, the idea here is for both of you all to just react to the tweet.

What were you thinking when you tweeted it out? Why do you think it took off? Why did it work? And yeah. Any other context that you think we'd find interesting?

[00:16:17] Shaan Puri: I wonder what percentage of these I'm just gonna be like, I have no idea what I was thinking. , I don't believe that. That's stupid. .

[00:16:24] Aadil Razvi: These are bangers only.

So hopefully hopefully you remember. Shaan you did this hot take about everybody being wrong about the metaverse obviously was a very hot topic at the time when you did this. What can you tell us about this?

[00:16:38] Shaan Puri: I'll tell you okay, I'll tell you my point in a second, but I guess that's a little less interesting even than just the What made this work?

So this thing reached, I think I don't know the exact stats. I think it's like like somewhere between 10 and 20 million people in the US. But then it also was, it got shared like crazy on Instagram and it shared in China, like some big Chinese, like social media influencers were posting it, so it got like millions of views there. Logan Paul was talking about on his podcast, Mark Zuckerberg referenced this in Alex Freeman interview, so it like went really far and I was like, Why did this go so far? And I think it. Because it basically had three things. Number one, it was timely, so this was right when Facebook had rebranded to Meta.

People were talking about the Metaverse, and I think everybody had this Sixth sense. And it's little sneaking suspicion that everybody's bullshitting about this. But nobody knew. It was all smart people, like big names that were saying how the Metaverse is the future, but nobody was saying what the hell the Metaverse is or why it's the future.

And so I think everybody kind of smelled bullshit but didn't know how to call it. So it was timely. I was calling bullshit, which generally is like something people are gonna want to click into and read. And then last thing was, I think I backed it up. I think I had a good point that could get you to agree with my conspiracy theory if so to speak, was not so far fetched and basically what all I was saying was like people hear the word Metaverse, they think about this like virtual reality shit.

Oh, I'm living in some thing, I'm an avatar now. And I said, Actually, I think it's more like this concept called the Singularity, which is in artificial intelligence, which is like this moment in time, this tipping point where computers, have reaches super intelligence and they're so vastly smarter than humans.

And they are so smart, they just program themselves to become, it's like runaway intelligence. They program themselves to become smarter and I thought, Oh, the Metaverse is like that. It's basically this tipping point where a lot of my friends are online now. I think I have this experience.

Many you guys do look at this like experience we're having now. A lot of my work is now digital. My social identity, like my profiles, my followers are all digital. If you buy NFTs, cool. Some my art is now digital. More and more things, more things that are important to you are now like, They live on the internet, and so at some point all of your digital stuff matters to you more, and you spend more time and energy and focus there than you do in your physical.

That doesn't mean you'll never go eat or walk or exercise or anything like that. That's not what it means, but it just means like there's this tipping point where before rewind 20 years where it didn't matter. I had a computer room in my house that was like, there was a computer room and everything else was non-computer.

And now the computer's attached to my body, basically, so it's like you've seen this transition already. It's just gonna continue. And hey, don't think it's this crazy virtual world. It's just this tipping point where at some point when we've been creeping towards at some point we're just gonna value our digital stuff more than we do our physical in the sense that

we're gonna spend more time and energy and effort and money on the internet than we do offline. That was the idea. So that's my Explain this tweet.

[00:19:47] Aadil Razvi: Super helpful, man. It was surprising to me during your podcast with Hudson Minaj that he was he was genuinely triggered by the tweet.

It affected him at an identity level. Yeah.

[00:20:00] Shaan Puri: He called me, he was like, hey, can I call you? I don't know the guy, by the way, I didn't know him before. He had followed me from one other tweet that went viral about Clubhouse and he then he called me and he was like, Bro, I do stand up comedy in real crowds with real people.

That energy, that is my home, that is my craft, that is my favorite feeling in the world. And God, I don't want this like Metaverse bullshit talk me through it. And I was like, I don't know what to tell you about. I think it's going in that direction. I don't think, I remember people being like I love waking up, getting the newspaper, bringing it in from my front lawn and the feel of the newspaper, right?

And it's true. You probably did like that thing, but guess what you liked more. Instant real time news constantly flooding into your brain. Turns out that was more addictive that being able to get news from all these different sources rather than just your local provider.

That turned out to be really important. Being able to access it on the go on your phone turned out that wasn't really important. And yeah, you like the feel of it, but there's all these other benefits that like ended up crushing that. So that was that's what happened after this tweet.

[00:21:11] Aadil Razvi: You contextualized it.

You talked about the benefit of accountability. It's a double edged sword here where, get the upside and the risk involved in that. Super interesting. Saagar, yes, like I said, challenging to find tweets I can share with everybody here. But love to hear..

Yeah, actually I think your most viral was two days ago. I just saw that. Yeah. Very cool up there. Yeah. Talk to us about why did this tweet work? Like what is this speaking to and like, why do you think this resonated?

[00:21:48] Saagar Enjeti: Yeah. I'm actually, it's interesting, I pivoted to becoming the gas guy politically.

This really is really just purely a function of what I talked about earlier, which is that I, if you were to ask me why I think my show is successful is, I think because I cover things in a way that most people feel are not being covered by existing sources of information. That's very basic like thesis statement.

That's why I think it does well. I've always noticed that coverage of gas is skewed in a particularly partisan way. So one of the things that I like to do is just highlight basic texturize. Think that every American has to put into their car on average a couple of times a week, or at the very least, like once a week, a couple of times a month.

What did I do there? I said, The average American Nets X amount of money after taxes at $5 a gallon, that means that they're spending approximately 10% of their take home pay on gas. When you include food and housing, it gives you a picture of how bad things are. That's not a political statement, that's just like a statement about where things are that got shared as Shaan was saying, people screenshotted it, It was shared on Instagram.

Both ways. It's like, why, oil companies need to stop profiteering. Here's why Biden needs to start drilling. You can put it any particular way you want. In general, my most viral content actually, although just speaks to more putting out like facts and then contextualizing them in a way where people feel like they can be used to something that is very meaningful to their life.

I'll give you another example. One of my most viral posts recently has been about mortgages and it really was just a basic about Hey, in 2021 you could buy X House, price house for this monthly payment, mortgages price has now gone up. So now you get less house once again. Like you can read that whichever way you want.

Like you could be like, Congratulations Jerome Powell. You could say, Screw you, Jerome Powell. Like you could put it any particular way. So I think to piggyback on what Shaan is saying, I think timeliness is everything. Everything. So timeliness is you. Timeliness is number one. It has to be timely.

Number two, it has to be the most viral stuff, I believe. Has to be able to resonate with somebody and not tell them how to think. Just give them the ability to then form something. And then three I think is also concise, which is why Twitter is very helpful.

[00:24:03] Shaan Puri: That's great. By the way, this it's like you handed them like a hammer and you're like, go beat up whoever you wanna beat up with this information.

And this can be used on any, anybody , just used it to serve your agenda, which is like the I don't know, cynical take on content creation, which is you will blow up faster if you gas up an audience around something that they already have a bias or belief system of, and you feed that.

This happens. For example, it doesn't even have to be political with crypto. This happens all the time, which is like, Oh, just be anti the dollar, anti fed, antiwar, buffet, anti whoever, and you just keep feeding information that like riles up this zealous crowd that already believes, and all they're looking for is they're not looking for real information.

They're looking for information that just fits their worldview only. And I don't mean that to pick on them. Pretty much everybody does this and everybody's looking for information that feeds their worldview. So one useful way of thinking about it is what worldview do I like and respect?

And maybe share what worldview do I understand? And then that's the worldview that I can serve by producing good packaged nuggets, because I know what will hit with that audience. And then I'm focused on that versus just generically producing content and then not really thinking about the worldview that it's gonna go live in.

Oh, by the way, what's the tweet that went viral two days?

[00:25:26] Saagar Enjeti: Oh, that was about Dr. Fauci.

We don't have to get into that one. . Come on. We'll talk about that one though. What are we here to do?

I'll go into it. I don't care. Sure. There not to derail your not to derail your entire.

For those who are not familiar with something called the lab leak theory, the theory is that coronavirus leaked from a lab. And so the underlying facts and circumstances around this are pretty interesting. The tweet that I did was again, actually speaks directly to what you just talked about, Shaan, which is that if you're unfamiliar with the characters who are involved, there's one particular guy

who served as the cutout as cutout of funding from the NIH to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. His name was Dr. Peter Daza. He's been intimately involved, in the cover up of any facts or evidence around the lab league theory. This was all old news at this point, basically two years ago, that we've known all of this information.

Dr. Fauci on his waiting days as the head of N I A I D, actually just granted a $600,000 grant to the same individual for the same type of research, which possibly led to the Escape of Coronavirus from the Wuhan Lab. That was it. There you go. It's right in front of you. Fauci is waiting days, as you said.

I'm like, Here's information. Why do I think it went viral? That's not difficult because nobody else was reporting it. And millions and millions of people are interested. That's literally just a screenshot from a governed website.

[00:26:58] Shaan Puri: By the way, you said something like, I know a lot of people care about gas.

Like I know that gas issue, something a lot of people care about that they don't feel is being adequately covered. How do you know that you're reading YouTube comments to get this information. You're talking to people where, how are you figuring out both what my niche is interested in and then where there's a lack of service on that topic?

Is it because you're not seeing it and so you're like, Oh, I am the customer. That's how I know. Or you do, you have some feedback loop? How do you.

[00:27:30] Saagar Enjeti: At this point, it's art and a science, so I have a general intuition of this is not being covered. Also, the reason why I got into gas was because I could see that my segments on inflation were, you're going astron, like dramatically high

Really what it is I did a monologue months and months ago. Just, it was very basic. I was like, Hey, we are gonna have an energy price crisis. This was actually before the entire Russian invasion of Ukraine because we were still having problems in our gas supply. And I was really obsessed, like, why these specific market conditions?

And it just went mega viral. And I got all these emails from these people being like, Hey, man thank you so much. Nobody talks about. Like heating oil in Vermont and like what contracts look like for these things. And for me and my family, I only make $50,000 a year. So when I have to lock in at X price, like it really hurts.

And I was like that's interesting. And so then again, you throw a couple test segments and you like do some segments on it. Each one either consistently performs or does more been normal. I'm like, Okay, clearly people care a lot about this. And so what I do then is like use my insider ability as a guy who worked in the Washington press card more to cover it in a professional manner.

And I think that was the way that I could discover it. But I also have a general sense of, I work in this media, I work in media, I live in DC. I know what the people in power are talking about and obsessed with, and my general orientation had to bet against whatever that is and cover anything else. And in general, that serves me very well.

So there you go.

[00:29:02] Shaan Puri: That's cool. I like that.

[00:29:04] Aadil Razvi: One thing that Saagar shared, maybe when we get into more tactics later, he can cover this, but one of the things that worked for him early on was I think you had just posting transcripts of what different people would say. So if Trump would say something, all you would do

snip the transcript and just sweep that out and let people to have whatever take they wanted on it.

[00:29:24] Saagar Enjeti: Yeah, I can share that. So my first 50,000 followers I was really obsessed with Twitter like obsessed which is not a good thing I should say when I was younger and I was like, I wanna get more Twitter.

I remember my goal, I was like, I want 50,000 followers. I had 4,000 at the time I had a job. I was a White House correspondent. I'm like, Okay how can I take advantage of this? All I did was I just got really proficient at using live transcription services, which literally watched cable television and then spit out rough transcripts, copy and pasting it, taking out the cast, editing it for clarity, and just trying to be one of the first people to be like, Trump said X, or the Secretary of State said

why, And as you said Aadil you're just pumping information out into the world. This is why also, I think I probably have a timely bias, cause I work in the news business. Like for us, timely is everything. If you're two hours late, like you might as well be dead, you're a zombie. And so for us, like microseconds, especially in the like information distribution game, you're competing against the associated press, against Reuters and like major multimillion dollar.

Professional organizations, it really just turned out to be getting pretty good at tweeting out transcripts. So I think my first 50,000 followers all just came from people who were following me in order to find out like what was going on that day in politics. And since that was literally my job, I was both doing my job well and I was building an audience.

[00:30:51] Aadil Razvi: Yeah there's a lot of ways that people in this audience can apply that. You're all in your own niche. You all have the influencers and the leaders in those niches going out and doing appearances. There's ways of adapting this strategy, not just in a news and timely this context, but even in the in..

[00:31:10] Shaan Puri: I have a quick timeliness. Exemplifies it. So I created or so there was this big news event that happened in crypto where this token called Luna crashed, and it had been one of the high flyers, and then it goes to zero, like overnight. And I had a position in Luna, so I ended up losing what was like a million dollars

in that crash. And I also had an interesting take cause you need to have a take on everybody knows what happened. What they wanna know is, either why it happened or what it means and so I had a good take and I decided, okay, the way I'm gonna do the and two things happen.

A I was a little bit busy that week. I was like on vacation, stuff like that came back, all right, A couple days go by and then I was like, okay, what do I do? Either I'm just gonna post this as like you know a couple tweets, a thread or what if I made like a video on this? And so I go on YouTube. I end up creating this almost like the John Oliver show, what is it last week, tonight?

I go and I create this I'm like, I do this rant. I rant about Luna, I rant about why Blue? Why it got big and then white crush, I got devastated and it was, had jokes spliced in. I hired this editor, the editor's amazing. We're working on this, we're iterating on it, we're making great content, and we put it out.

Now, two and a half weeks have gone by as we put it out. You could see this if you go to YouTube, Luna, Shaan or something like that. And the video has I don't know, 17,000 views or so 20,000 views maybe at this point. But it never went viral. And I consider that sort of like a flop of a piece of content, especially one that I tried really hard on.

And the funny thing is I knew. Like the smarter thing would've been if I literally had opened up my phone, typed out a thing in the notes app, screenshotted it, and just posted it immediately. When it happened, it would've been less great because it was not, the joke weren't as good. There was no video production, there was no nothing.

But it would've been on time and on time matters way more than great. And it, when it comes to this type of reactionary, what does everybody care about right now? Because by the time three weeks have gone by, just nobody cared about it anymore. The world had moved on. There was two other crisis to worry about.

And that was an expensive of time-wise lesson of how much effort I put into something that did not go viral compared to shit that did go viral because I did it. Good enough at the right time is better than great at the wrong.

[00:33:39] Aadil Razvi: Good enough at the right time is better than great at the wrong time.

That is the the quote and heck of a some art here that you got going on, Shaan. I love it. Okay, cool. Let's rapid fire through one more each. Let's see. So Shaan, we have your clubhouse one, but I feel like it's pretty close to the metaverse one as to why that. Do you wanna talk about this Elon one or do you want to talk about this learning one?

[00:34:10] Shaan Puri: Yeah, I'll do both real quick. The Elon one is actually, like saga was saying. One of the threads that went viral was not no original insight. Elon was on clubhouse. Elon popped onto Clubhouse when Clubhouse was hot. And just a guest appearance by Elon Musk is not something you get very often.

And also Clubhouse was like overloaded. It was like invite only and it was overloaded. So I just go for those who are locked out of the Elon thing here's what he's saying. And I just live typed and transcribed everything interesting he was saying in a thread in real time, and I was the only guy doing it.

And on one hand I felt a little silly. I was like, Oh man, I've become like a professional note taker on a fucking beta app of clubhouse. Geez, what does my career come to? And then also I was like, Oh wow, this is like 7,000 likes already. Okay, nevermind. Shut up. Go. And I just just did it.

But it was like it talks about that same thing, which is like some people think they need to have. Really great insight or amazing, perspective or whatever. And sometimes you're just providing a service better than others. You're just clipping good content and you're posting it and you're doing that consistently, and people will follow you for that.

You can build a huge audience as simply a curator or remixer of content. You don't even need to be an original content creator, I would say in most cases you do not need to be. So that's what this one was, which was, I just pulled, this was separately. I just pulled out this great quote by Elon and this is another one where it fits people's worldview.

My audience is mostly entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs love to have this chip on the shoulder, this badge of pride about like how hard it is to be an entrepreneur, which I find pretty stupid in general, but I can play to it. And so I played to it here, which is Elon was like if you need a words of encouragement for doing a startup, don't do a startup.

Oh yeah. That's right. We are the special breed and we don't need this motivational speeches, whatever. So I knew that this would play and just throughout there and sure enough it hits. The other one that you shared was Oh yeah. This was meant to trigger people.

So everybody thinks that things like education and healthcare are like highly nuanced topics, and I find it also that really funny and stupid I think that nuance is something that smart people love to hide behind because it's so easy to just say, Ah it depends.

And it's not so simple. It's not so easy. It's not so cut and dry. It's not so black and white. It's not so binary. They love to do this nuance thing. And so I knew I could trigger everybody if I just said here I could fix education in a tweet. And it's Oh, classic tech bro thinks he could fix education in a stupid tweet.

And I know how to just bait the animals with here you go. And it's something I do believe, which is most people, when they wanna learn something, they start by trying to learn it. They go read about it, they watch about it. They go attend seminars and workshops or take courses about it, and they'd be better off just going and trying to do the damn thing.

And then when they get stuck, they should go look up how to get unstuck. I do believe that's true, but if I had just said that it would've gotten a 10th of the likes by adding there, I fixed education. I was able to trigger a bunch of people. And that was, these are the geni mind tricks of the great content creator.

[00:37:29] Aadil Razvi: I really hear that you relate to Twitter as a game. It's not like a thing where you have to tell like what you believe exactly the way you believe it. You're there, there's a bit of a game that you're playing. Is that how you would relate to it?

[00:37:42] Shaan Puri: Yeah. Don't take it too seriously I don't take anything too seriously, but definitely not gonna be Twitter.

of the things I take too. I barely take parenting and things like that. Seriously, I try to be playful and silly and lighthearted with those too. So I'm definitely not gonna take Twitter too seriously. And the other thing is I I'm lucky that Twitter is not where I like, Twitter's not my real job, like I've basically been successful outside of content creation.

So I had this security that I can just f around with content creation and do what I think is interesting cause I'm not doing this in order to become successful. So I don't have to, So I didn't have this mental block of I need to play things a certain way. Saagar was talking about this too.

Once you get to a certain size, whether you did it outside of content or even through content, you can start playing much looser because at the end of the day, your life's short. Just do whatever you wanna do, say what you wanna say. It's a lot more fun, rewarding and fun and interesting that way. And You could do that you could buy yourself that, right?

But most people have this mental block where they're like afraid. And they take everything so seriously and then it becomes an unpleasant experience for them. That's like why I think a lot of people don't enjoy social media because they don't treat it like a game. You enjoy games, you don't enjoy things that are ultra serious.

And I think that's where most people get it wrong

[00:39:09] Aadil Razvi: Got that. Having that block of Oh, I need to get it right, I think is the kind of the internal conversation that keeps people from even taking that action in the first place. Saagar let's see, we have this on student debt or this on CNN plus.

Which one would you like to chat about?

[00:39:26] Saagar Enjeti: I like that one. That's a good one. Narratively that I always enjoy that. That one was, yeah, so just for those may have be watching, The failure of CNN plus in lapsing of Obama's wife are related. So why is this tweet successful? You take two viral events that are being discussed.

You pair them together, and then you put a thesis statement on why exactly. It supports a broader meta narrative, shitty establishment content previously forced fed to us in cable. Monopoly era simply cannot compete in the free market of streaming. The revolution has just begun. So revolution has just begun punchy feeds the thesis.

Most of the people who follow me and I in general, anybody below age like 50 doesn't like the cable monopoly and cable news. So obviously huge market there. Biology actually said biology, stream of auction once said something to me is always bet on chart. It's just, you gotta find the right chart to bet on.

And so I always say that the right chart for me is trust in the mainstream media, which is 13%. That means my market size is 87% of the United States, so I only have even more to grow. And if you include globe on that, it's even bigger.

[00:40:31] Shaan Puri: You're like, man, so I feel sorry for CNN serving this niche. 13% of the audience, it's poor guy.

If they need some help, I got you.

[00:40:39] Saagar Enjeti: It's about flipping things on its head and it's no. It's like you're the one who is only serving the need. So putting these two things together, the Obama, Spotify contract, CNN, like two legacy established political both brands in their own right.

Everybody knows, but yet not in a lot of people are consuming. And then putting them together and saying, and trying to describe a market condition that is arising that can tell us about why these two things have failed. That goes against the way that people who actually work in professional media explanation are able to tell you.

To date, I have not seen a dispassionate view. Maybe out of one or two people, I can count on one hand Sarah Fischer over at Axios. I think she's awesome. There's Dylan Byers over at Puck News. I think he's a straight shooter too. Those two are pretty much the only ones I've seen with an actual rundown of like why these things don't work compared to the amount of money that are being invested in them.

The Obama Spotify contract is the same one. It. They paid the former president of the United States millions of dollars, and it just didn't do that well when he was paired one of the biggest rock HEROs on Earth. That's insane. You have somebody who, hundreds of millions of people knew their, know he's net billions of people probably know his name.

You have somebody who received like 10 hundreds of millions of votes collectively over two elections, and yet he can't even crack the top 10 on podcast. Like, how does that, how does a former MMA Cage fighter beat this? How's that possible? And so that's a very interesting story. Now, nobody wants to tell that story because, when you work in the quote powers of B, you're gonna offend the wrong people.

And so it, again, that's just a niche that opens up for me, to come in and to fill that. So I think that's why that it took off. It was, it's not even a difficult one really to explain.

[00:42:31] Aadil Razvi: Cool. No that's, I like that. Take two viral events, get it together with a thesis statement and cater to that 87% of the audience who doesn't trust in the mainstream media.

Very clever. Cool. Let's go through some rapid fire questions, tactical questions and some questions from the audience over the next five to seven minutes. And then we'll call it a day. Saagar talk to us, you mentioned the strategy that you did early on kind of just taking scripts of what other more influential people are saying.

Like what were really the inflection points or tactics that took you from that first zero to a hundred K let's say Twitter.

[00:43:12] Saagar Enjeti: Okay. So zero to Twitter is actually not that hard, which is that most of the people follow only a few amount of accounts. So get those few amount of accounts in order to follow you and get them to retweet you.

And that's basically the secret to growth. I don't think it's that gonna be complicated. So what does that mean? It's find that niche, the 0.01%. What do they need in their feed that they're not getting provide that service for me, I was the first guy in order to tweet the transcript, which means that they were all following me, which means that they're all retweeting me and exposing me to their millions of followers, which means that some people would then follow me.

So for me it was, I would say around 10K is a big jump. For some reason in people's minds, it's like when you cross 10,000, that is a point where you're gonna get exponentially more new numbers of followers. What I've discovered across all my platforms, the more followers you have, the easier it is to get followers, which is so frustrating whenever you're starting out.

You're like, when you're, oh man, 5,000, that at that point, if I had 5,000 followers on Instagram, which you know, once upon a time. Was the case, if I got 50, I was like, Oh my God, I lose 50 a day to now actually more, probably more like a hundred and yet I'll net out, at a thousand a week or something like that.

And it's simply because of like the churn, the burn, the way that your algorithmic treatment is offered. So I think 10 is a big inflection point. I think 50 is an even bigger inflection point. That's where things really begin to go vertical. And, this is probably the same startups, which is just getting that, first initial customers and then compounding that to a sustainable ish business is like the really most difficult, requires the most amount of thought.

Because at the end of the day, that's where you're filling the niche. That's where you're discovering the niche. That's where you're playing around. That's really the time of the most experimentation where you have really high stakes. So I would say it's there. And then also on the other end where, after I reached 300K, actually after I reached 200K on Twitter, I was like, I just don't care anymore.

I was like, If it goes up. I could care less. My business is almost entirely dependent on YouTube. I, frankly, I care more about Instagram. Then I do about Twitter. I think I have much higher quality engagement just from what I've seen, my ability to sell either my subscription tickets any of those things are there.

Then it just became a complete game after that. I just genuinely did whatever I wanted. So those are the interesting inflection points.

[00:45:26] Aadil Razvi: Yeah, I like the idea of finding, look, there's a few accounts that everybody follows. Like it's almost account based marketing at that point where it's getting in touch and making an impression with those nodes, those sort of super nodes in your industry.

Shaan, do you have any anything to add?

[00:45:43] Shaan Puri: That's smart. I wish I'd done that. Yeah. Didn't have that insight, but I learned something great today. Yeah, mine was sort of like, actually it was the same, but I did it in a much slower, stupid way, which was the first kind of 25 people mattered a lot.

And so it's not the number, it's who those 25 are. For me, I built those relationships in person. So Ryan Hoover had a popular Twitter and I had known Ryan in person, for seven, eight years at that point. And so once I started getting active and started saying it to things, he was happy to like share.

I never asked him to, he just, He followed me already. He thought some things I said was interesting and he would share it with his audience. And and then that happened with 25 important people in tech that were already well known, but I had built in person relationships with them, built in person credibility with them.

And so it's the same idea actually, but just very slow version of what he just talked about. And I didn't think about it like creating content that serves them or that they would wanna share with their audience. I just thought it just accidentally happens, along the way.

The main things that I would say is figure out your, the domain you're trying to build your authority in. Get really tight on that. The tighter, the better. But it's very tempting to be broad. And I've made this mistake many times of just like being like it's that, but it's also these other things that I like, and it's also this, and it's also that.

And actually you'd be better off just starting off there. Then there's basically like some tactical things like, for example there's this theory called the Red Pill theory, I think in politics this has a different definition, but , I heard it when I talked to the guy.

There's two guys who do weight, but why? And so there's like Tim, who's like the writer, the famous guy, and then this his friend Andrew who childhood friend who helps run his businesses. And Andrew, I talked to Andrew and Andrew was like, Yeah you need to have your red pill, which is you need to have the truth that you can say that people, that wasn't like it's not the thing everybody's saying, but when you hear it, people, like some said, say one of the people will nod their head vigorously, right?

So what is the, and other people call this your spiky point of view. It's like what's your thing, right? Maybe your thing was like that inflation is a way bigger problem. The government is playing this down. Boom, that's your red pill. And you could base your whole brand off that for a period of time.

And then you have to eventually swap out and create a second red pill, which is you need to be giving people. And by the way, red pill comes from like the matrix, where it's do you want. If you take the blue pill, you go back into the matrix, you just live like a sheep again, and you just don't question anything.

Or do you want the truth? And that's the thing. You're trying to give people the truth in a way that they're not, that they haven't been told, and then you can become known for that. And so I think that's important. That's a very useful tool. I think some other tools are speaking from the eye. I found great success in this which is

a lot of people in the more successful that they get, they'll just keep saying you like a fortune cookie. Oh you got to do this, you got to do that. When you feel this way, you gotta try doing this. And it's it's much more powerful when you're like, I was feeling this way or I was going through this, I had this experience and it made me think this, but what I need to do differently is I need to do this.

It's a much more, I think in general it's good for personal accountability to speak from the eye, but secondly, I think it plays really well to content cause it's different than what everybody else is doing. So same thing, personal stories. And speaking from the eye, I think works, but like the high level things is, you could be either a generous expert sharing your knowledge and expertise, or you could be a curious novice.

And a curious novice is somebody who's just going through, like you're saying, you're just typing out the transcripts, you're just finding interesting clips and sharing it. You're remixing, packaging, curating and presenting, stuff as a beginner's point of view rather than saying I know everything.

So you got to know what areas are you an expert in and what areas are you gonna be a curious novice. Use both in your content. And the last is just, I don't know, don't quit and go viral like that. That's ultimately if you wanna win, don't quit and find ways to go viral or you won't grow.

If you just, you're only gonna remember two things on the strategies don't quit and go viral, I would say is the takeaway.

[00:50:05] Aadil Razvi: I could talk to both you all for another hour. This is awesome. Yeah, just the nuggets at the end nonstop. I think we're gonna create an illustration of this to capture a lot of those things.

So stay tuned for that. Yeah. Thank you both so much for spending your time with us today. This was a ton of fun. Go ahead and drop in the chat, you all. If you had a good sessions. You're at a 10. How would you rank this session?

All right. We got some tens. We got some nines, we got some 10 outta 10. It was a banger. We got some elevens. I love to see it. Thank you both so much. Yeah. Let the people know what you got going on in your life and how they can get in touch, Saagar

[00:50:48] Saagar Enjeti: Sure. Breaking points on YouTube, esaagar Twitter, Instagram etc.

[00:50:55] Aadil Razvi: And you, sir?

[00:50:57] Shaan Puri: Yeah, you can follow me on Twitter. I'm ShaanVP, so I'll type it in the chat. But on top of that if you are into growth and content and audience building this stuff, you should go to and subscribe and you'll see. A bunch of the little things that we're doing on a daily basis.

Like we've grown this now to over 200,000 subscribers in less than a year from scratch. And if you wanna see how to actually build one of these content brands, like you're, you can just track it over time and and you'll see what the little techniques that we're doing.

I'm not gonna explain all of them, but if you just subscribe, you'll be able to look at it and be like, Oh, I get why they're doing that. I get how they did that. And it'll show you, You can back calculate how you could do this too. Yeah. Smart

Action pack session. Thank you both so much.

[00:51:47] Aadil Razvi: Check out Milk Road. Check out Breaking Points. Your life will be enriched.

More recordings from Growth Summit