Content Creation

#51: Thomas Frank — $100k/month Selling Notion Templates & Decade Worth of Advice for Creators

Hosted by Josh Gonsalves
9.19.2022
01 HR 04 MIN
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Episode Description

Thomas Frank shares an inside look at his side business making over $100K per month selling Notion templates, as well as advice from over a decades' worth of experience as a YouTuber with over 2.5 million subscribers.

About Thomas Frank

Thomas is a video creator, writer, podcaster, and entrepreneur with over 2.5 million YouTube subscribers at the time of this podcast, with a focus on productivity, learning, and personal development.

He's also a Notion power-user and currently making $100K per month selling Notion templates.

In 2010, he started a blog in his dorm room called College Info Geek to share his experiments in studying more effectively and getting the most out of college. Since then, he's applied his interests in productivity and self-development to YouTube, several podcasts, a book, and more.

Check out Thomas Frank's Notion templates discussed in the podcast:
https://thomasjfrank.com/templates/

Connect with Thomas Frank

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Stalk Josh on the Internet

  • 00:34 — Conversation begins
  • 01:13 — Thomas' Notion template business is making $3,000 per day at the time of this recording.
  • 01:49 — Ultimate Brain Notion Template
  • 02:02 — Creator's Companion Notion Template
  • 02:45 — PARA & GTD productivity systems
  • 02:59 — How Thomas first got into using Notion
  • 05:04 — Recreating Evernote & Asana in Notion
  • 06:39 — Thomas’ main traffic source for selling his Notion templates
  • 07:48 — Thomas has been making content online for over 12 years
  • 08:04 — Thomas’ Skillshare courses
  • 08:47 — Thomas uses Gumroad to sell his Notion templates
  • 09:05 — Thomas’ advice for creators who want to sell digital products
  • 10:13 — How Thomas validated his paid Notion template with free YouTube content
  • 13:50 — Thomas’ template support community in Circle
  • 14:35 — The importance of documentation
  • 18:26 — What did Thomas use before Notion
  • 20:02 — Templatizing his YouTube video production process
  • 20:29 — Thomas’ college experience in MIS (Information Systems)
  • 21:12 — Thomas used to run his own freelance web development business in college
  • 22:23 — Over-reliance & backups on Notion
  • 26:58 — Why Thomas made a second YouTube channel for his Notion content
  • 32:32 — How Thomas thinks about personal branding on YouTube and social media
  • 34:43 — How Thomas learned audio and video production
  • 40:05 — Thomas’ biggest advice for consistency as a content creator
  • 45:14 — Thomas’ awakening moment for self-development
  • 47:12 — The Impossible List
  • 54:52 — Thomas’ vision for his YouTube channel moving forward
  • 55:08 — What Thomas is working on now: automated capture system for Notion
  • 58:43 — Thomas' file management system for his YouTube videos
  • 01:02:56 — Thomas’ final message for content creators
  • 01:03:34 — Final question: what is something coming up in the future that Thomas is excited about
  • 01:03:49 — Thomas’ Business 101 course for creators on Nebula

[00:00:00] Thomas: I remember really wanting to hit a million subscribers. And I did it, and then I celebrated for like five minutes and then I was like, okay, now I just feel more pressure. And my brain wasn't like, okay, now I want 2 million. It was like, all right, well, you did it.

[00:00:16] And there's like this interesting thing with the way that human brains perceive numbers, because you would think like 2 million would be just as exciting as 1 million, but it's not. We don't think linearly, we think logarithmically, or even exponentially. So like to get the same excitement factor as you got from 1 million, you would need probably 10 million.

[00:00:34] Josh: Okay. Well, Thomas man, welcome to Mind Meld. It's so great to have you here.

[00:00:42] Thomas: Thanks for having me on the show, Josh,

[00:00:44] Josh: Yeah, man, honestly, it's, it's pretty wild, like speaking with you today because you know, I think like many people, like you've inspired me so much just watching your YouTube content, seeing what you've been putting out on Notion, but even just the years of content you've been putting out.

[00:00:57] So I do have questions about like your YouTube, content creation, entrepreneurial career, like you're doing so much and you're doing probably a million other things that we don't even know about behind the scenes. But I think where we can start today is sort of like your newest venture. At

[00:01:10] least the one that I think that you're kind of focusing on, which is these Notion templates, and you're making $3,000 a day selling notion templates, dude.

[00:01:19] Thomas: Like that. Yeah. I mean, it's, it's stabilized between two and three K a day, and then we just released our video on the Thomas freak explains channel going through it. So, uh, I'm interested to. What that does to ongoing stable sales, because we've had a few big promotions to our list and that results in some spikes, but, um, personally, the, the actual daily sales are very interesting to me and the funnels around that.

[00:01:43] Josh: Yeah, dude. So tell me a little bit about that. So the one that you just posted, I actually just watched it last night after you posted it. That was for ultimate brain. So you have two main ones. Um, is that the one that you're kind of focusing on? Right.

[00:01:54] Thomas: I mean, that is, yeah, I guess the main focus, the main launch right now, uh, it does seem to be the most interesting template for most people, which makes sense because the other one creator's companion is a very specialized tool for serious content creators. Uh, we do have a bundle version and quite a few people do upgrade to that, but I think ultimate brand is gonna be the one that has ultimately a higher reach, because it's just, you know, for anybody who wants to use notion as an all in one productivity,

[00:02:19] Josh: Yeah. And what really kind of struck me with it is like, it really is the ultimate productivity system and notion was the auto, productivity tool, but there was really no system. Like if you don't have a system in place it's kind of easy to get lost and things make things worse, almost like it's all over the place.

[00:02:35] You have random pages here and there and no one's using databases and this pages within pages easy get lost, but you've created this like system that, to me, it's like the perfect mix. Tiago Forte's PARA plus GTD.

[00:02:46] So maybe for people who don't really know about some of these like fancy terms, like maybe you can explain like how you came about those terms and those systems and put them together into this one amazing system.

[00:02:57] Thomas: Yeah. So I'll kind of start at the beginning. When I got into Notion, the original thing I was trying to solve was a company Wiki. Uh, we had gone through all these different options. There was one that like literally took Google docs and created a website out of it, not unlike the Supers and the Potions now that are doing the same for notion.

[00:03:15] Uh, and then I think it was literally when I discovered that Notion had a Loom integration, which is, uh, for people who don't know loom is this amazing tool. That'll see, record your screen, you know, talk out a process. And then the video is instantly uploaded. The URL is on your clipboard. And with notion, you literally can just paste it in there. And boom, you've got documentation.

[00:03:35] I'm like the speed of documentation creation I can do with that is better than anything else. So we're gonna use. And then I started playing with databases and I go, oh, you know what? This is potentially the tool that will help me solve another problem I've been having, which is I want a tool where I can manage my video projects, but then have those video projects become a library of useful information because when we're doing another project in the future, we may have a shot that we want to pull from a previous project, or may want to refer back to a previous video. We did look at the script, that kind of thing.

[00:04:07] So notion was really the only tool that I could find that would allow me to manage the entire content creation process of videos in production to capture ideas, and then to maintain that useful archive. I remember like trying this out and click up back in the day.

[00:04:23] And they were like, well, if you accidentally archive something, it'll be deleted in 30 days or something like that. and I, I think they have, uh, tried to, um, get up to parody with notion in the intervening years. But back then they were like, Nope, we just do task management and it's not an archive. So, uh, we got into using notion for content creation and because so much of my life revolves around that, I kept thinking, well, how can I start to do my note taking in here? How can I start to do my research process and all that kind of stuff.

[00:04:51] And from there, it's just been like this constant four year process of seeing, like, how can I bring the best parts of the tools I used to have to juggle into this one system for managing my entire content creation process.

[00:05:04] So how can I essentially recreate Evernote inside of notion? How can I essentially recreate to doist or Asana inside a notion? Uh, and creator's companion was the first product we developed out of that, which was literally our own internal, um, content creation pipeline across all of our channels just turned into a product and we released that first. It did really well.

[00:05:23] And then, Ultimate Brain was sort of the next step, which was my own personal journey of trying to figure out how can I do a full on productivity system inside this one tool?

[00:05:34] So really it's just been like, this is the stuff that I have wanted myself for this long. Um, and I'm very fascinated with notion as a sort of enabling tool that allows people to create their own tools within it.

[00:05:48] So along my own path of building this stuff, I was making video tutorials and people enjoyed them. So I realized, I think there might be a little side business. That's also like potentially viable here and, uh, it's, it's doing better than I initially anticipated. At first, I thought it'll be like an extra, you know, 5k a month on top of my sponsorship income. At this point, it may replace my sponsorship.

[00:06:12] Josh: Wow. Okay. So that's a big thing right now, right? Like a lot of creators are finding other ways to monetize their content creation. So of course you have. Your Google AdWords, you have like sponsorship, but a lot of people now are doing like products. Like whether that's like merch and now with digital products, it makes so much sense.

[00:06:28] And it's so embedded to what you're talking about and what you're the content that you're putting out. So I'm actually really interested to hear, like now that you have it all set up, what would you say is like your main, like traffic source? That, is it your YouTube? Is it purely like monetizing YouTube or is it the other way around?

[00:06:46] Thomas: I would say that it's not a great direct traffic driver until, well, literally yesterday we finally published the ultimate brain tutorial on, on YouTube. Uh, I think we had a couple of videos that had mentioned there's a wait list because I published those before the product had launched.

[00:07:01] But, um, I have like the classic internet marketer funnel where I've got free stuff. And then if you want to, you can sign up for my newsletter. Uh, and I actually provide a bypass cuz I don't like products that force you to get on the newsletter, but you can.

[00:07:17] And then, you know, first thing is like, Hey, we also have this premium product if you want. Um, I do believe on the ultimate tasks landing page, which is the free task manager, uh, template.

[00:07:26] There is a little thing that's like, Hey, if you wanna full on notes, projects, goals, and tasks system, you can upgrade to ultimate brain as well. So there are several ways people can find the sales page. What I don't have right now is like really robust analytics to tell me exactly where people are coming from.

[00:07:44] Uh, it's something I would definitely like to do, but I guess for some context into my history, I've been making content for 10 years. Full-time, uh, uh, 12 years since I literally started the blog, but full-time as my job for 10 full years. And it took me eight years to make anything that I sold of my own.

[00:08:04] I mean, I had like Skillshare courses that's on Skillshare. So I'm, you know, completely relying on their marketing platform. Other than me just telling people to go to it. I had like an Amazon book, but making my own product took me eight full years to do. And it wasn't as if I had the idea eight years in and did it.

[00:08:22] I had the idea probably two, three years in and then constantly procrastinated because I thought, well, my funnel's not gonna be perfect. Or I don't know how to deal with that tax, or I don't know how to deal with analytics and I'm gonna lose my UTM tracking if I don't get this exact perfect tool. And I, I literally spent like five, six years.

[00:08:38] Not putting out a product, not making money because I was mired in this perfectionism. So for creators, companion, I was like, you know what, I'm just gonna go quick and dirty. I'm just gonna choose whatever works gum road. Cool. People seem to using gum road. It has some cons. Sure. But I'm gonna use it. I'm gonna use WordPress in elementary. I don't care.

[00:08:56] And I just got it out there and I just started using, you know, the tools I had access to. And from that point, I've been able to start slowly changing things up. So I guess that's my main message to anybody who is also thinking about doing their own digital products is just get something, working, get an MVP, get some data from your customers, and then you can always improve and tighten the funnel later on.

[00:09:19] Josh: Yes, man. That's great advice. And it's funny. And like one of the reasons literally, why I have you on here is because I wanna ask these questions specifically about this. Like you I've thought like, oh my God, I have all these systems in my notion that like, all I have to do is duplicate it and make it available for people and why stop at making it free?

[00:09:36] Why wouldn't people pay for something that they would use all the time, like a daily journal that has like everything you would ever need in your case, like an ultimate second brain, like why wouldn't people do this? It's going to speed up their workflows. It's gonna improve their life. And if they're already using notion, it's a no brainer for them to just integrate.

[00:09:51] And it's like really cool that you can build these products now with no code tools. Like you can basically build an app, like you essentially build your own productivity app, not having to code it and not having to hire a developer. You're able to do it in notion. but while we're on this topic of the notion templates, what do you really think actually makes for a successful notion template?

[00:10:11] Like obviously you have the second brain thing. What was it about that that you're like, okay, I wanna make this a paid template that people might wanna buy.

[00:10:18] Thomas: so a part of it was, this is what I wanted. Uh, so there was a lot of my own desire put into it, but I also realized there's like judging from the questions that come into my content. There's a lot of demand for this kind of thing as well. People are asking, how do I take notes in notion? How do I do task management and notion?

[00:10:36] I can look at my own YouTube stats and get useful information. Based on that. My task manager tutorial has 500,000 views on a really small channel, you know, only 60,000 subscribers now. And that video gets over a thousand views a day and it's coming up on two years old at this point. Like I need to remake it.

[00:10:53] This Notion has changed a lot, but when there's 500,000 people watching an hour long tutorial on how to make a task manager, that's useful information from a product design standpoint, these people are signaling. This is what we want inside of notion.

[00:11:08] And if they want task management, do they want better project management? Do they want goal tracking? And you. Combined with that data. We can just literally listen to what our audience tells us and information that way. So that sort of guided my, um, selection process. I also noticed that there's just this growing interest in the PKM space or, uh, personal knowledge management space in general.

[00:11:30] People like Tiago forte are starting to get a lot of, um, notoriety. He's got a book coming out, Ali Abdal, uh, all these people who talk about note taking and PKM are getting a big audience. So people are obviously very interested in this space in general. Um, that is sort of also what informed my choice for going with, uh, para as my organizational philosophy inside of ultimate brain.

[00:11:54] Um, partly because people are already very interested in it. I think it is actually a very good system. And from a product design standpoint, I think that it's not always useful to try to invent every single wheel. So I knew there aren't a lot of, second brain templates out there. And I don't want to go like, try to copy someone else's anyway, I wanna build this myself, but I don't want to also try to come up with my own organizational philosophy at the same time.

[00:12:20] So can we build this around PARA can we build this around established getting things done principles that actually gave me sort of like a north star from an in the trenches sort of technical product design standpoint? Um, I think another thing that helps us be successful is I am willing to do a ton of work to go beyond where I see most templates stopping.

[00:12:44] So most templates are like, here's the template. Maybe here's a couple of tutorials, that's it? No refunds, which makes sense because you can't return an ocean template.

[00:12:54] But my thought is how can I make the customer experience as great as it possibly can.

[00:13:00] Well, number one, make it risk free. So we offer refunds. We have actual support in a support forum. We have world class tutorials written video. Uh, we buy, I literally just spent like 570 bucks on captions. The other day we buy human created captions for our tutorials. We do interactive tutorials, anything we can do to make the customer experience better, we're gonna do it.

[00:13:22] And that means it's a lot of work. It means I'm gonna have to hire people. I will have to scale my business past where it is and get outta my comfort zone, but I think that's what it takes.

[00:13:33] Josh: Right. Cuz you're building an actual product here, whether it's a template as part of another product, like it just kind of changes my view anyways, of like what a tool is or what like an app could be. Cause you basically built an app within notion as the platform.

[00:13:47] And on that note too, like you went even more like the extra mile, you have a whole community, whole support community built on circle, I believe.

[00:13:55] Thomas: Yep. Yeah, we use circle and then I've got an actual, uh, part-time support person who's in there every day. We use loom to record screencasts to answer questions, basically like try to go as far as we can, to help people with any question they have

[00:14:08] Josh: Right, and like what kind of questions do people have? Like when they're, do they have problem setting things up or is it like they're using it for a couple days? What are the biggest kind of problems you're seeing people.

[00:14:16] Thomas: I mean, it runs the gamut. So we'll have like the basic questions, like, Hey, I don't know how to unlock my database so I can make a customization to, uh, how would I integrate my CRM template? And, you know, we, we can't go as far as like, here is, you know, eight hours of consulting for free, but we do go pretty far.

[00:14:34] And, um, one principle we have is that if we are going to be answering support questions, we turn it into documentation.

[00:14:40] This is something that I learned when I was in college. Actually I had a job at the campus, it center. The rule was, if there's not a support article about the problem, you just help the customer solve in our database.

[00:14:52] You have to write one after you get off the call. Uh, this ended up with some, uh, some pretty funny results sometimes cuz we would get some pretty zany people calling in. I had a call once where the lady was like, I have a raccoon on my deck. How do I get rid of it? And I'm like, this is it. I mean, I guess you could write the email, write an email to the raccoon but I literally had to write a support article about how to get a raccoon off your deck and put it in our support database because that was the rule.

[00:15:20] But it saves so much time because there are very common questions and sometimes they have a technical explanation and sometimes you're hiring brand new support techs who don't really know what they're doing. Well, if there's an article, they can go. They can easily just guide the customer through it. So that's one of our principles create documentation out of anything that could feasibly be a repeated question.

[00:15:40] So we're just getting this growing database of really useful support documents, which we can easily point people to. And that means that principle means sometimes it is worth taking literally two hours to answer one question. So, uh, one tutorial that did not exist in our getting started guide at first was how do I integrate read wise into ultimate brain?

[00:16:03] It's actually not a very easy answer because read wise does not allow you to select which notion database you're sending your highlights to. They create one for you, which means if you really want to do it, you have to basically like integrate the read wise database into the product that took me a couple of hours to figure out, but I'm like, well, now I have a full video tutorial that just comes with the product and I can go make content on this, cuz it's something that people wanna do in general.

[00:16:26] So it's, it's just kind of an interesting insight. Customer support makes you better at your product. Gives you a deeper knowledge, because they're gonna ask to do things that you would've never thought of and what you do to answer their questions often gives you content ideas. So it's just always worth doing.

[00:16:43] Josh: Win, win. Yeah. A lot of people try to avoid it, right. Or like, they'll have like, again, like the community group, like, oh, ask someone else in the community. But again, going the extra mile, it's just gonna feed right back and it's this great flywheel. That's gonna keep turning.

[00:16:54] Thomas: Yeah. And we, and we did choose circle. We did choose the community model because I did want to have the option of other people coming in and sharing what they've done. Uh, and people actually do to my surprise. There's like customers, people who have given me money to then like help people out in the support community, which is cool.

[00:17:10] Maybe I'll hire them at some point. Um, but also notion being such a customizable tool, people love to share like what they've done to change ultimate brain for their own workflows. And there's some really, really creative stuff people have done and stuff that I would've never thought to do. And the cool thing is like, you know, when you're like building a productivity tool, you're only ever doing it from a bird's eye view.

[00:17:30] Because you can only really get a surface, look at what people in any given field are doing, but once somebody gets their hands on it, then they can tweak it to like, say support a PhD, dissertation, workflow, something I couldn't do very well because I've never written a dissertation, but they can come in and be like, well, here's the tweaks I've made to support my dissertation research.

[00:17:50] And it's just such a cool experience seeing them share that

[00:17:53] Josh: It is cool. And what's really awesome about the template and what you've built is it's just like, it's pretty agnostic, right? Like it's not specifically for like your other one, but it's purely for content creators, which I would imagine now ultimate brain has a wider audience because of that.

[00:18:06] Someone who's a PhD student will be able to use it. Someone who's like also a content creator could also technically use it. Um, people in everyday work in life. It's really, really interesting. And it truly is. The ultimate way to use notion. And I love that you're saying before how, like, you're like, I'm basically rebuilding Evernote in notion rebuilding to doist.

[00:18:24] So I'm actually interested, what did you use before notion and like, what was your aha moment when you like discovered notion to be like, okay, I need to just need to do this and just go all in. Or do you use other tools?

[00:18:34] Thomas: Uh, I mean, it was, it was Evernote for notes and that was like, boy, almost 10 years. I think I started Evernote like 2009 when I was in college.

[00:18:42] So that was pretty much my notetaking app for my whole adult life. Um, mostly to doist for task management. I came from wonder list before that shutdown back in the day, remember the milk earlier than that for anybody who's ancient like me, um, I still use Google calendar.

[00:18:59] That's one thing notion's not great at as calendar stuff. So I still Google calendar for that. And I've still got, you know, like Slack and that kind of stuff. But, um, at this point, you know, really what I wanted was a dashboard. If I'm working on a project where I can see all my tasks and do whatever I would need to, with those tasks, give 'em a status due date, whatever, and all the notes in research.

[00:19:22] And some of the times my projects have ridiculous notes in research. And I just wanted a place where I could see all that in one spot from any device. And notion gives me that otherwise I have to jump back and forth between Evernote and to do us and stuff like that.

[00:19:36] Um, and, and to do us, doesn't have great template support as well. You have to like import a template as a CSV, which is just very weird to me. Uh, and that was a big thing for me, as like, as a content creator, there's like a zillion little things I need to do for every video and I need a checklist so I can create a template. Boom. I think that was really what it was, um, is this ability to create these database templates and then apply them on every project.

[00:20:02] That was like one of the biggest ahas for me, cuz I'm like, well, cool. If I have something like video production where I'm going through this multi-step process every week, I don't have to reinvent the wheel every time that I'm doing a new video, I can just boom. Start from template and I've got my shot list. I've got my checklists, got my script area. It's all there.

[00:20:20] Josh: Right. And what I noticed is you're really good at that of like systematizing things. Do you think that is from your background in, is, was it software development technically?

[00:20:29] Thomas: I went to school for MIS, which is, um, information systems. So it's really like, I, I mean a little bit of software dev, they teach. It's um, more of a general major that sort of mixes business and technology.

[00:20:42] A lot of people go off to infrastructure. A lot of people go off to project management, business, um, development kind of stuff. A lot of people are like the go between between the techies and the people who don't know anything about technology.

[00:20:54] Josh: And that's

[00:20:55] Thomas: Um, I personally, I think so. Yeah. I don't think my classwork really built that system's mindset for me. I almost think that my on campus jobs did more

[00:21:03] Josh: oh, what did you do on campus?

[00:21:05] Thomas: like doing the it support stuff, learning that documentation process.

[00:21:09] Um, I worked in the web development department on campus as well. I did my own freelance web dev on the side. So there were a lot of opportunities to understand the value of building systems. Um, especially when you're doing your own business. You know, time is money and you're trying to get things done for a client really quickly.

[00:21:26] You wanna build systems that help you out, even something as simple as utilizing the quick link sidebar and your windows Explorer. So you can get to your, the folders that you're working on as quickly as possible. Like that's a systems mindset at work

[00:21:39] Josh: It is. And I mean, it makes so much sense using the notion database and the way databases connect to each other. It really is like building like software databases that will speak to each other. I remember I had that aha moment when I first discovered like air table and I wasn't really into like, like databases.

[00:21:54] There was actually air table and, uh, Webflow CMS. Cause Webflow has a very similar. Data structure as, uh, a Notion or a air table database. Why a lot of people use that for their no code, uh, stack, but then when notion came out, it was like, shit. It's like all these things in one plus, uh, Evernote, plastic, your task management, and they're only adding more features. And I'm sure there's so many things in the pipeline that are coming. Um, it's been crazy.

[00:22:19] Do you get kind of scared or like, I, I don't know if scared's the right word. Do you ever get like nervous that like everything is a notion? Like if something, if something goes wrong, goes down, do you have any backups? Like how do you mitigate all that stuff?

[00:22:33] Thomas: Yeah. I mean, honestly, uh, a lot of that stuff is relying on notions, database charting and their, their own backups. Um, admittedly, I don't, I don't have like a religious export process

[00:22:45] when I, when I ask myself, like what would happen if they went down tomorrow? Uh, a lot of my stuff, like, I guess most of what's in there is stuff that's already been done.

[00:22:55] Josh: That's

[00:22:56] Thomas: there would be some recreation, I guess like the way I think about it is it's I don't see it as a likely event. way, like I don't see. Yeah. Like I don't see my house going into a sinkhole as a likely event.

[00:23:08] Josh: But again, insurance, man, do you think we'll have like some kind of like digital insurance? Like, I don't even know how that would work, but I feel like more and more of our life is online. Whether it's like people who

[00:23:18] have all of their memories stored on iCloud from their iPhone and their notes on notion and Evernote. I think maybe that's a new billion dollar industry, man. Digital, uh,

[00:23:29] Thomas: yeah. I mean like, like if there was, if there was a like export, true export button and notion, I would love that and I want that, but there's the reality that we're in. And I guess like, you know, with the time that I have dedicated everything else, it just doesn't seem like it's worth sitting around fretting, trying to come up with some, like, I don't know, two hours I spend every Sunday exporting everything or something like.

[00:23:53] Josh: Which would, and I'm assuming as it grows and grows and grows, it's only gonna take longer and longer and

[00:23:57] longer. And then there's redundancies every single time you do it. Cause it's like, okay, well, if everything passed that point from last week or last

[00:24:04] Thomas: mm-hmm

[00:24:05] Josh: that's yeah,

[00:24:06] Thomas: yeah,

[00:24:06] So I mean, I guess that's the thing I say is like, if, if that's more of a concern to you, the same thing where if it's like, you know, I want peer end, end encryption. It's not the tool for you because it was built from a multiplayer standpoint, it's built from a, you know, software as a service standpoint, something that's local first, like obsidian is more built from that.

[00:24:22] Okay. Here's my vault. It's mine. I it's on my computer. That kind of thing. If that's your value, that's the tool you should use, but you do give up some of those multiplayer aspects. You do give up like the real-time collaboration aspects. You, you literally can't do that in obsidian.

[00:24:36] Josh: True. There's always gonna be trade offs for everything. Do you use other tools, like, do you use Roam or obsidian?

[00:24:42] Thomas: I mean, I've played with both, but I end up back on Notion either.

[00:24:45] Josh: True. And I'm guessing like you have a growing library of notes and stuff. So do you find yourself like the people who probably use Rome and obsidian, they love to connect ideas a little bit more. I think now notion has like an inline, um, page referencing and back links, which is awesome that they have that,

[00:25:01] Do you find yourself like using that, do you find yourself, um, getting compound interest from your previous notes and previous projects and previous database entries?

[00:25:11] Thomas: I do it on an as needed basis. So like, there are people who religiously, like if they type a term and they know, oh, I have a page for that. Or atomic note for that, they do that. I don't do that at all. Um, I tried it, you know, I definitely try like the whole roam thing building the knowledge garden. It's just, I fall off of it so fast.

[00:25:29] Um, I think, you know, if I need to find something I'll search for it or I'll use my organizational structures for it, my brain for better, or for worse works hierarchically. I understand my folder S. I understand my areas and resources structure. Um, I don't really need to create like a big knowledge graph, but when I'm say doing research and I realize like, oh, Hey, it would be smart for me to link to this specific page here, because I do think I will need to click that and get to it faster than I will do it.

[00:25:54] Josh: Purely out of productivity, not knowledge management, just to quickly get to where you need to.

[00:25:59] Thomas: Yeah. It's more like, okay. I'm uh, let's just say for right now I'm working on my new task manager guide that it's gonna be updated for 2022. So there's a technical reference. There is a formula guide that the users will actually use. There's the actual template itself, um, inside of my project for that, I'll be linking to those things.

[00:26:17] Josh: And like, as you're saying this, it's funny, like the next question that really just pops in my mind is like around these tips and tricks of becoming a better notion user to like, do these things a little bit quicker, but I'm like, I'll just link your TF explains YouTube because that will have everything I don't need to ask about the nitty gritty.

[00:26:33] Like these are like one hour fucking deep dives that you go into to like really explain like certain things. Or like if a new, um, feature comes out. You're like one of the first people, if not the first person that comes in my YouTube, um, recommendation, uh, to watch these things. So maybe we can kinda like switch corners.

[00:26:49] I want to get into this content creation. TF explains, um, kind of workflow here because. I think we talked about on Twitter, actually, I was like, oh, why did you end up making a second YouTube channel specifically for notion? Why didn't you just put on your main channel and then have those people who are searching for notion, find you and then find your other videos and then grow your main channel. So I'm wondering

[00:27:10] Thomas: you know, you look at my channel. I have like a few notion videos on the main channel and they've done pretty well, but I wanted to create the resource for anybody who wants to become. Knowledgeable and learn how to build their own tools using notion, which means that not only are we gonna have the build guides that probably could have worked on my main channel, but there's also gonna be more in depth technical videos.

[00:27:35] So there's like notion fundamental series where it's like, here's how to link pages. There's eventually gonna be a video on sharing and permissions. And that kind of video would just utterly tank on my main channel because the purpose of my main channel is to in general, help people become more productive, more capable, more organized.

[00:27:55] It's a general self-improvement channel. So there's just, I think a threshold of technicality that if you go beyond it, you're gonna alienate your audience so hard that you've risk starting to damage the channel, especially if you do it over and over and over again. So in the case that Thomas spring explains there's 30 videos on the channel now, and I have probably hundreds.

[00:28:18] I got, you know, planned and ideas. And if I made all of those in the main channel, uh, not only would they start to dilute what that main channel is, I think they would actually outpace the flow of new content that really fits the channel. Just because it doesn't take me very long to film a notion video, especially if I already know what I'm talking about, you know?

[00:28:41] Uh if I wanted to, I could probably do two videos a week. So my thought was okay, let's let the main channel still be what it is and we'll go build a whole new resource and that will be people in like the idea is in people's minds. The go to, when I wanna learn notion is Thomas spring explains. That's where I go, not let me go to Thomas Frank, and we find the bright playlist or sift through all these videos to find the notion

[00:29:03] Josh: true. Why didn't you call it something like, like, uh, Notion with Thomas? Why, why TF explains

[00:29:10] Thomas: Uh, so I tried to come up with a name. Um, I did, I specifically was not going to put notion in the name. I never want to build anything of mine that is branded around another company.

[00:29:22] it's either gonna be branded around me or it's gonna be a brand I come up with because, you know, and I don't want this to happen, but someday what if notion goes under?

[00:29:30] Or what if notion changes so much that it's no longer in alignment with what I'm trying to do? Well, now I've stuck my name with them, essentially hitching my wagon to their train with no guaranteed that it's always gonna be going in the same direction. So my goal is to make the ultimate notion resource, but it doesn't have to be branded around notion.

[00:29:50] And we tried to come up with a names. We we'd literally like sat around for two hours with a brainstorming session, came up with 70 different names. I hated them all, or the ones that were good, all their social handles were taken. So I'm like, you know what? I'm sitting. Spending weeks just like paused on any content production, because I can't think of a name.

[00:30:08] Screw it. I'm just gonna call it. Thomas Frank explains. I'm gonna register no social handles and it's just gonna be under all of my own social handles. It's just gonna be me. And that allowed me to just get past that hurdle and start making content.

[00:30:19] Josh: So this is the second time now that you've inadvertently given really, really, really good advice of just getting started, just doing the MVP, making it nitty gritty, just, just do it. Um, you know, first there's the gum road and just using, uh, WordPress and now it's just like screw the social handles, just I'm just call it my name and use my own social media. I think that's brilliant, man.

[00:30:40] Did you have that kind of inclination when you first started content creation, like 10 years ago, do you have that same mindset or has it shifted? How has it changed?

[00:30:49] Thomas: when I first started. So I guess like the, the beginning of my content creation story is I went to college and there was a blog I was reading at the time called hack college. It was essentially life hack. Written by college students for college students. Uh, and I just loved it. I was reading every article they put out, I was laser focused on being the best student I could be because I went to school right after the 2008 stock market crash.

[00:31:15] So I went into college thinking the world is ending and I have to be as competitive as possible. Otherwise I won't get a job. That was my mindset.

[00:31:24] Josh: Wow.

[00:31:25] Thomas: you know, luckily the world basically recovered. And, uh, as it turns out, you didn't have to work that hard to get a job, but the effort still paid off, I think, but that was my mindset.

[00:31:33] So I'm like, okay, well I have to literally it ring and squeeze college for everything it's worth. And I read literally every college prep book they had in my library before going to college. And then I found this blog, uh, and then at the end of my freshman year, they said, Hey, we're looking for new writers.

[00:31:48] And I'm thinking, this is gonna be a great resume booster opportunity. And I like to write, so I, I sent them my application. I wrote this full guest post for them and ended up getting rejected. So I'm like. I wrote this whole guest post and they're not gonna take me. I'm just gonna make my own blog. And because I wanted to write for them, I basically just used their model and I'm like, well, I can't just call it Thomas frank.com.

[00:32:12] It has to be a thing. It's gotta be a publication. Uh, same thing. I couldn't think of a good name. So the first thing that came to mind in college info geek, I was just like, let's just do it.

[00:32:20] It's three words, a lot of syllables, but whatever it got me, my domain, so I could start writing. That was the biggest thing.

[00:32:26] Uh, and for the longest time, I was like, yeah, it's gotta be a publication. It's gotta be a publication. But then as I started getting into social media, and as, especially as I started getting into YouTube, I realized like there's a lot of brands that are being built around people, not around brands. And if I start to shift the branding around me, I can act like me.

[00:32:46] I can be me on social media and I enjoy that more than tweeting under the college info geek, Twitter handle. So personally, and I realize there's some. So there's some downsides to this, but personally I enjoy branding things around myself and just sort of being me. It's like, Hey, I made this, here's the thing.

[00:33:02] Um, and obviously like the big, the elephant in the room, the big downside is that makes it harder for me to exit. If I ever wanted to, um, I don't have a huge desire to exit what I'm doing. And I think at this point I've proven to myself that I can execute pivots where I can leave things behind that I don't necessarily wanna do anymore.

[00:33:21] And I can do different things without, you know, feeling limited by the fact that I'm blinded around myself. In fact, being branded around myself honestly makes me feel like I have more freedom. Cuz back when I was college info geek, I'm like, well, what if I wanna write something for people who are out of college?

[00:33:37] We have a ton of great articles on college info geek that people will probably never read because the site is called college info geek.

[00:33:44] we got, we got, uh, investing articles. We have articles on like how to get started with your 401k, how to buy a house. But. Who's gonna read them if they're not in college with that name.

[00:33:55] So at this point, like, honestly, the content that we published on college in poke is almost like an incubator for, for videos I could make later on.

[00:34:02] Josh: That's super cool. And I guess like, you don't have to worry about like, failing as much because it's kind of like this tighter niche and not as many people are gonna see it. Like I'm seeing some of your most popular videos on YouTube yet seen by like 6 million people. Like that's huge, man. Like your channel has absolutely blown up the, I mean obviously like the quality you're putting out is so good.

[00:34:21] The information, the content itself is so damn useful. Like there's no way it could fail really. I mean sure. In your mind, you're like, fuck, I guess can all go away overnight, but I don't think so. I think you've built a pretty good trench for yourself. Um, and it's pretty funny. Like just you going through that story kind of answered like literally four questions I had about, about these kind of things, which is really, really cool.

[00:34:42] So I guess going back then, How did you start to learn audio and video production? Cuz you didn't study that in school, but you started creating this content first writing and then into video, how did you start learning this stuff? And like what was your process to get started?

[00:34:53] Thomas: pretty much everything I've done started off as I was following somebody and really enjoying them doing it. And then I go, well, I kind of wanna do that myself. And one of the biggest concepts I've always taught on the, the CI G blog and on my main channel is, uh, the idea of being a solution finder.

[00:35:10] So if you have a question, go out and find the solution because it is out there, especially with the internet now. It with everything I've ever done, the solution has always been out there, whether it's going and finding a guide, somebody wrote or taking a class, or, um, often just like digging into the code of people's websites.

[00:35:28] I use inspect element a lot to figure out how people do things. So that's how I, that's how I learned web design and code. I just used inspect element and I read people's code and then tried it out for myself, uh, for podcasting. So I'd been running the blog and I was a huge fan of, uh, pat Flynn and smart, passive income.

[00:35:46] And, uh, the biggest thing I was a fan of was the podcast. And I remember like listening to him, sort of reflect on this fact from the perspective of other listeners, they'd say, they'd come up to him at conferences and say, uh, I love the podcast. I love the podcast. I feel like I'm hanging out with you.

[00:36:02] They kept mentioning the podcast. And I was like, you know, He's right. I feel like I know pat, even though we've never spoken, I feel like I know pat, because I listen to the podcast, the blog is a little bit of a secondary thing almost in my head. So that sort of gave me the idea of, okay, I wanna do a podcast.

[00:36:17] Well, how do I do that? Turns out pat had a whole series of articles and videos on his site that I followed to the letter to get my podcast off the ground. I bought the blue Yeti mic, like everyone starts with, and I followed his exact instructions to do album art and get it submitted to iTunes, get hosting and all that stuff.

[00:36:34] And boom, I was off podcasting. Um, and then for video, it was sort of the same thing. I started watching a lot of YouTube it's cuz I was enjoying it. Uh, partly from a business perspective, I was watching like the fizzle guys. I was watching, um, Sean McCabe on Sean West TV. And then I was also watching stuff that I enjoyed just for fun, like video game reviewers, like, um, I think like John Tron, peanut butter gamer, those kind of people.

[00:36:59] And I really liked their editing cuz it was very energetic and crazy and had graphics all over the place. So again, it was like, well I enjoy watching this. I wanna try it. So I started making videos and started off with this, like this kind of crappy camera that I had. I lit myself with desk lamps and then just like had this very slow process of learning every single video, something new, because I was inspired by something I saw and I wanted to figure out how to do it.

[00:37:25] You can go back and look at my early videos and you'll see like, okay, well, this first video has almost no graphics whatsoever. And then the second video has some like rudimentary animations. Well, that was what I was interested in. And then another video has like background music. My brother made me some like really basic background music when he was trying to build rap beats for himself.

[00:37:43] And I'm like, cool. I wanna figure out how to mix that in with my dialogue. Um, I use this principle called the 1% rule for my video production process, which is I put myself on a schedule. It was once per. And with every video, I try to learn something new. Just get like a little bit better in some area.

[00:37:59] And it could be whatever you're interested in. Like I'm gonna be better at having eye contact with the camera this time, or I'm gonna try a new lighting setup. I'm gonna do an overhead lighting this time, or I'm gonna try doing like particle effects and after effects to do like dust around me or something like that, literally anything.

[00:38:14] And you'll notice that if you're on a schedule and you're doing this consistently, then one day, you're gonna wake up 10 years down the road. You're gonna go. Holy crap. I just gave myself a Hollywood level film, school, education without paying for it.

[00:38:25] Josh: Dude, literally like if you were to seek anyone, who's listening to this, just go to the, go to the YouTube version, please, or just go to Thomas's YouTube channel. Cuz like, even for the podcast, like it looks like you're on a professional film set, which it is, that's literally what you have built. And that's like DEC that's all decade basically.

[00:38:42] Right. Of like getting here of like small steps all the time. It doesn't really. Happen overnight. I'm sure now it could happen overnight. Technically if you have the money to buy the equipment, they can watch some of your videos. Watch some of Matt Della's videos. He has a whole course. Um, Allie, I think has a course now, like you can, or just on YouTube, there's like film makers who have these like tutorials of here's how you do it, learn it, set it up.

[00:39:04] And maybe overnight you technically could nowadays, cuz it's cheap enough to actually do it, but it took you like a decade man. And it's like, it's crazy to see over a long time horizon. How things change? Like has it, has it blown your mind? Like how has YouTube changed for you and like the kind of content that you're building now?

[00:39:20] Thomas: I mean, it's, it's cool to look back and see everything. I'm not sure if it's like mind blowing there's that?

[00:39:25] I think they call it gates law. I don't even know if bill gates said this, but it's like you, uh, everyone overestimates what they can do in a day, but they underestimate what they can do in a decade.

[00:39:34] And it's like, so it's so true. You always wake up and you say, oh, I'm gonna get this, this and this done. And then you don't, which always happens. But if you stick to something for a decade, you'll

[00:39:45] be absolutely astounded at what you can do. And I don't even think it's a decade. Like it's a couple of years, if you, you know, got into content creation or no code or whatever it is.

[00:39:55] And you, you gave two years of true 1% rule effort where you're getting cons consistently better, and you're practicing deliberately, you're gonna be able to do so much.

[00:40:04] Josh: Wow. What's your biggest advice for consistency? Cause that seems like that's the number one thing. Just doing it over and over again, over a long period of time. Like, what is your biggest tip for people who like, I know consistency is the biggest hurdle for a lot of people. They'll do it once, twice kind of stop what's how do you keep going?

[00:40:21] Thomas: you have to get some kind of external motivator. So. Uh, I will recommend a video I made last year called the five levels of self-discipline.

[00:40:30] And the real crux of the idea in that video is that people are compelled to do things either because there is some kind of intrinsic interest in the moment I E it's fun.

[00:40:43] Like I want to do that or because they have a duty to do so. And duty is the word that I like to focus on here. Not necessarily self discipline, but duty. What, what do you have a duty to? Is it a duty to your past self and how have you systemized that and externalized that? So your past commitments are real and have teeth, or is it a duty to somebody else?

[00:41:09] So I can break it down really quick. The, the first level is duty to yourself and that is codified. And made more real through using external tools. Uh, the one that I used was called B minder, and it is literally a website where you can put in a habit that you wanna track and you bet money on it. So, and it has all these API connections.

[00:41:30] So the way I did it was I hooked it up to my YouTube channel and it would look for at least one new video being published on my channel per week. And if it didn't happen, it would charge me money. And for like three straight years, I never once was charged money on that. And I had a video every single week.

[00:41:46] I used to do the same thing for getting outta bed on time. There's a, there's an article on CI about this also video, but I used to have a tweet scheduled and buffer that said, I'm sleeping in. If you see this reply for $5 and I would have to wake up every day, turn my computer on and delete the tweet or move it forward today.

[00:42:06] Otherwise it would go out. It was also hooked up to be minder. So be a double whammy B minder would charge me and then anybody who replied would be able to charge me too. Uh, Never once did I sleep in? There was one time I got up on time, but forgot to do the tweet. So everyone saw it and I had to show out like 30 bucks.

[00:42:23] But yeah, like build systems that codify your commitments to your past self that's level one, and then levels two through five are all about bringing in other people to help you be consistent in your journey. So the second one might be an accountability partner, just somebody who is actually gonna hold your feet to the fire.

[00:42:41] Uh, and this, I think you have to select strategically. A lot of people just go, Hey to the friend who's like on the couch, eating Cheetos, I'm gonna start running every day. And their friend's like, okay, that's cool. And you feel good? She's like, yeah. I told my friend, I was gonna start running it every day.

[00:42:54] And then you don't and they don't do anything about it. Uh, you gotta find a friend who actually cares. So my friend Martin is somebody who actually cares, uh, a few years ago. I was like, Hey, I wanna read nonfiction every single day. So here's what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna read 25 pages a day. For the next three months, every day without fail, I'm gonna log my progress on a spreadsheet and I'm gonna give you access to that spreadsheet.

[00:43:15] If I skip a day, I owe you a hundred bucks and he's the kind of guy who would check. And some days it would be like 11:00 PM and I hadn't read yet. And he is like, are you gonna read cuz otherwise I'm taking your money. And I'm like, they're reading at 11:50 PM to finish my thing. But he's also not the kind of friend who really wants to sabotage me cuz he cares less about the money than he cares about my progress and me improving as a person.

[00:43:40] So find yourself a person who cares about that. If you don't have somebody directly in your life, there are accountability groups online. You can get into there's Reddit like subreddits for that there's uh, Habita or habit used to be habit RPG. They have like these guilds just, there are tons of people out there who want to help you be accountable and want help being accountable.

[00:43:59] Level three is hire. So that is just bringing your accountability buddy into the professional realm, which can also bring with the benefits of coaching expertise. You bring a subject matter expert who can actually guide you and help you, um, learn faster and get better as well. Level four would be getting yourself into a team where your effort and your consistency is also integral to the team's progress.

[00:44:21] So a good example of that would be like, okay, I wanna get better at basketball. I'm gonna go join a league because then my progress actually helps my team as well. And if I slack off, I'm hurting them. And level five is leadership that is less of a hack. I don't think you should take on a leadership role specifically to like try to hack your own motivation.

[00:44:39] But when we're talking about this model of how duty augments your self discipline, when you're a leader, the duty to your, to the people who you are leading is highest. So that's the, the highest level of the.

[00:44:50] Josh: Wow. Okay, dude. That was incredible. Thanks for sharing that here. And I'll also link the video in the show notes for this podcast, for people who wanna dive deeper into that. That's incredible. I think I actually remember. Watching that video, I think last year in the summer, sometime that is so awesome. And for you, like, how do you, how did you learn all that stuff?

[00:45:08] So like, you are obviously really big in the personal development and self even discipline stage. Like, what was your awakening moment for that? Were you always like that, like as a kid or was there something that kind of like pushed you towards this to becoming, um, you know, not just on the productivity side, but also just in self development to become better into

[00:45:26] Thomas: I don't think there was any sort of aha moment. even growing up in high school, I've always been pretty driven.

[00:45:31] Uh, I attribute some of that to my parents. They were pretty strict and pretty demanding of me growing up. Um, some of that was literally graduating in the middle of the stock market crash of 2008 and having to go to college and having a very uncertain future, um, that was compounded by the fact that my parents couldn't pay for my college.

[00:45:47] So it was like, you can either get scholarships if you wanna go to four year or you can work full time and go to community college cuz we can't pay. So I was like, cool. I have to figure it out. Otherwise I'm gonna be stuck here in my hometown while my friends go off to college and I wanna go to college.

[00:46:02] So, you know, I would spend like three hours a day signing up for scholarships and stuff like that. Um, so it's, you know, partly like I, I always had big goals that I wanna, that I wanna pursue. I've always been very fascinated by a lot of pursuits. So I've had to just figure out how to be disciplined, to, to be able to make progress in a lot of.

[00:46:22] Josh: Totally. And do you attribute that to like your dad? I know you've mentioned in videos before, like he got you like weight lifting really young and stuff like that. Has that been part of this, like, kind of that self-discipline of like working out and the body building and lifting early on.

[00:46:37] Thomas: I mean, I definitely think it's part of it. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, both my parents definitely instilled a work ethic. My dad would have me do like book reports outside of school.

[00:46:44] Josh: Wow. That's

[00:46:46] Thomas: He's like, school's not hard enough. I'm gonna assign you this book and you have to write a book report on it. and you'd always grade way hard on my teachers.

[00:46:52] I don't think I ever got an A

[00:46:53] Josh: I love that. That's amazing. and I guess on that note, too, um, you, you just said that you do a lot and you you're, you're interested by a lot of different things. I kind of wanna get this in, cause I know we only have a couple more minutes. Um,

[00:47:06] You have the impossible list. I'm gonna link it for people who wanna learn more about it. Dude, like what, first of all, What is an impossible list? And then how do you, like, how do you tick those things off? Like you, you said you're, you're interested in a lot of different things. How do you find a balance? How do you juggle?

[00:47:22] Thomas: Yeah. So the impossible list was created by a friend of mine, uh, Joel Runyon.

[00:47:27] And I I've got a whole episode with him on my podcast, the college of boogie podcast. So if you wanna hear the full story, it's like episode 48 or something like that. But, uh, he basically created this twist on a bucket list and his idea was a bucket list is not that active.

[00:47:47] Like you go do the thing and then you cross it off and that's kind of it. And a lot of times people just sort of hope it happens to them. So. His story was he also, he graduated college in 2009. So he actually came out of college in the middle of all that stock market crap. And couldn't find a job and was like, I think he was like living on a sister's couch for a while.

[00:48:09] And he said, one day I just like sat down and I made a list of all these things that I thought were impossible to me. And then I started asking like, how could I do these things? And the twist that the impossible list brings into the equation is after you check off a goal, you iterate on it. So if I'm like, okay, I wanna bring a thousand visits to my blog in one month, which was, I believe one at 1.1 of my things, I crossed it off, but now I made a bullet bullet point underneath it.

[00:48:32] Okay. Now I wanna do 5,000. Now I wanna do 10,000. Like how can I keep iterating and getting better and better and better on these goals? So the impossible list is like this constantly growing log of my achievements. And, uh, I guess new goals are added that are even harder to reach or even bigger. So it's like constantly thinking bigger, constantly evolving as a person.

[00:48:54] And Joel made it public on his blog and I was very inspired by it. So I was like, well, I wanna make my own. And that was probably 2012. So I've had that up there for a decade. Um, and it, you know, it's like it's there and it's not like I'm constantly trying to juggle a ton of goals from it. It's more of like a fun thing that helps me always remind myself to keep progressing, but I still sort of follow whatever's interesting to me, to me now.

[00:49:21] So right now it's like building this notion business. So a lot of the stuff like, oh, go travel to all these countries. Like I'll get to that eventually. And I don't give myself a bunch of anxiety, but the fact that I'm not doing it right now, um, one little thing that I added to it was the last five. So at the top of the page, like you can see everything, but the, the first section is the last five I accomplished with their dates.

[00:49:42] And that's just sort of there as like a, okay. Make sure that I'm not resting on my laurels idea. When's the last time I crossed something off of here.

[00:49:50] Josh: Dude. I love that. And is it purely tracked on your website or do you have like a notion page for it and then you update your website?

[00:49:56] Thomas: Uh, it's purely on my website. At some point I may track it. Like now that I've just finished building ultimate brain is the whole goals thing. I might bring it in there, but yeah. I mean, it's just, it's been on the website for 10 years and that's where I've always just gone to track

[00:50:08] Josh: I love that because you also have a now page that was inspired by Derek sys, which I've been putting that off. I'm gonna do it right after this conversation. It's one fucking page I put on my website. I need an now page. So it's like, I love having the now page and that like impossible list as these kind of like ever evolving, updating, um, sort of like a extended bio, right?

[00:50:27] It's like, here's what you're doing now. And here's like all the things you've accomplished and that you're also trying to continually to reach. I I love that so much.

[00:50:34] Thomas: never thought about it as an extended bio, but yeah, it kind of is isn't it

[00:50:37] Josh: It almost is. Yeah. You can like link that in your main bio. Like here's what I'm doing now. Here's my, my list. I, I love that so much, man. more social media, uh, channels need to have something like that. Something a little bit more dynamic than just. 200 characters of what you do, but that's besides the point.

[00:50:52] Um, I have a question about the impossible list though, for you. What was the most difficult thing on that list and and what is maybe now the most difficult thing for you that you're trying to reach?

[00:51:02] Thomas: that's a good question. Oh boy, that's a question I'm not pre I'm not

[00:51:07] prepared

[00:51:07] Josh: I wasn't preferred to

[00:51:08] Thomas: And, and difficult is like difficult is definitely a loaded question because I could refer to something like, um,

[00:51:18] you know, climbing my first mountain. And I remember that was like an incredibly difficult experience in the moment, especially since we stupidly decided to climb it in may.

[00:51:27] So there was like still just full of snow and every step was like to our hip in snow. Uh so we did that, like, that was very difficult, but I think in terms of like, The one that I perceived as the most difficult that might not ever happen was actually the one that just happened, which was making a hundred thousand dollars in one month from a product launch.

[00:51:47] I was like, I'm gonna put that on there. Cuz I've seen like pat Flynn do it. I've seen people do it, but I'm like I'm a hundred grand in a month is a lot, you know, maybe a hundred grand, like over the course of several months, but a hundred grand a month. But then when I, when I was building ultimate brain, I'm like, it's time.

[00:52:02] It's time to see if I can do it. And I mean, no joke. This is literally on a joke on the last day of the month at 11:00 PM is when it hit a hundred thousand dollars.

[00:52:13] Josh: No

[00:52:13] Thomas: up at night refreshing the page cuz we were so close and I'm like, we're gonna do it. We're gonna do it. And yeah, it was like literally 11:00 PM on the last night of the month.

[00:52:21] Josh: Oh, congrats,

[00:52:23] Thomas: So it was like total skin of skin of my teeth kind of thing, which it seems like that's often how goals are accomplished. Like you usually don't ever smash through a goal. It's like, you just make it and then you set the next goal and that's how progress happens. um, so yeah, I would say that one was like the most, I, I think like perceived difficult

[00:52:41] Josh: And it's funny now, you're looking back on that already and, and what's the next goal for that? So now you finish that. You said you add onto it.

[00:52:47] Are you looking ahead now?

[00:52:48] Thomas: I guess I should, I guess I should set one. I don't think I like sat down and did the next one, but maybe like two 50 with the number ones. I found that like, at a certain point, I don't want to do the next one. Like with YouTube subscribers, I hit, uh, I think I had 2 million as my last one. And I think, I think there's 5 million on there, but at a certain point I'm like, okay, I don't necessarily care anymore.

[00:53:12] Like I remember really wanting to hit a million subscribers. That was like, uh, a north star. I was like, this is I'm gonna do it. I'm gonna hit a million subscribers. And I did it, and then I celebrated for like five minutes and then I. was like Okay. Now I just feel more pressure and it was like, uh, my my brain wasn't like, okay, now I want 2 million. It was like, all right, well, you did it.

[00:53:39] And there's like this interesting thing with the way that human brains perceive numbers, because you would think like 2 million would be just as exciting as 1 million, but it's not. We don't think linearly, we think logarithmically, or even exponentially. So like to get the same excitement factor as you got from 1 million, you would need probably 10 million.

[00:53:57] And at that point it's like, okay, do I really want to be grinding for subscribers up to 10 million? I don't think I care that much. I sort of like fall, like what, what do I actually care about? What are the goals I care about?

[00:54:08] Uh, a hundred grand was like a really cool thing. And I could be like, well, yeah, I now wanna do a million dollar product launch, but I don't know if I like truly care to make a million dollars in a month. It would be cool. , but I don't feel that same, like visceral, like that's a really cool goal. I want to go for kind of thing.

[00:54:25] Josh: True and with numbers too, right? That's so, so elusive. And like it keeps growing and, and going, especially with like subscribers, like, I, I would imagine that'd be an easy way to get really unhappy, especially after like a year or two goes by and you're like, I'm not at 10 million, like yet, like, what's wrong with me?

[00:54:39] Meanwhile, you're just focusing on like the input of like, just creating great content and clearly like, you're, you're doing this full time. Like you've been doing it for like 10 years. Right.

[00:54:48] So, I mean, I guess what is sort of your next goal, or maybe not even goal, what is your vision for the YouTube channel? Just to keep going and just putting out great content? Like, like what is it for you? That's your intrinsic or even extrinsic motivator for doing YouTube now?

[00:55:02] Thomas: Right now, I mean, YouTube wise is, is like a little bit, I guess in terms of my vision, YouTube is a little bit back burner because what I want is at least in the short term is to figure out how can I get any idea I have instantly into my second. Whether it's something, I wanna say something that I want to write down, something I wanna save that I find, how can I build a complete frictionless process for capturing everything into an organized place?

[00:55:28] That's so interesting to me right now, and I'm not there

[00:55:31] Josh: Oh, so I, I think

[00:55:32] Thomas: but I see the path.

[00:55:34] Josh: I smell some software coming up. Is that the next

[00:55:36] Thomas: I mean, I, I see the path. I don't know if it's software or if it's just figuring out the right automations with tools that already exist, but that's like where my interest is right now.

[00:55:44] Josh: And so for you, like, like, I mean, just high level, what are those items? Where are the places that they're coming from? Like where are the inputs? And then, I mean, you wanna get into notion obviously, but like what kind of things would you be saving? Like, is it like tweets? Is it like a website inspiration?

[00:55:58] Like what are the types of content and things that you wanna put in there and how are you currently saving them

[00:56:03] Thomas: yes, all of those. And, uh, the biggest one right now is I, I take a lot of voice notes, so I want perfect transcription of my voice notes automatically on Notion. Which I, I think I actually figured it out. I just need to codify the process with current tools. Yeah. Uh, and make a tutorial on it. But yeah, there's all these like interesting questions, interesting tech problems around, how do I capture everything my brain could create or everything that I discover and stumble upon and get it into this system where I can actually use it interestingly in interesting ways to do cool work.

[00:56:40] So that's sort of like completely filling my brain right now. Uh, that, and the, and then just like the, the process of getting everything set up, having support processes in, in place having, um, my content creation process in place and making sure my team is taken care of and that they're able to reach their goals and they're able to, um, financially move up as well.

[00:57:00] Josh: Dude. That's incredible. I'm very excited for whenever you figure that out and you have a tutorial on, I'm gonna be just refreshing TF explains until it finally pops up, or I guess what, what do you think would that go in your main channel or would that be ETF explains? Cause it's notion specific getting into notion.

[00:57:16] Thomas: Uh, I think there's gonna be both. I think TF explains is gonna have a series of tutorials on how to set up everything. And then I'll probably have like a video eventually on the main channel and like how I capture everything and then it'll just be like almost a showcase, like, all right. Well, what about if you wanna take a voice note, here's how you would auto transcribe it. Bam. And there's a tutorial on that tutorial on this

[00:57:36] Josh: is amazing. I'm so looking forward to that, cause you're right. That is exactly the next step. And that's something, I think a lot of people struggle with myself included. I have like four or five different tools. I have like pocket for, uh, articles I use, uh, drop mark and raindrop.io for like website inspiration.

[00:57:51] Like there's so many different tools and it's all over the place. It's captured all in one place. Um, I have one last question until we get to our little like final section here. Cuz you mentioned the voice transcription. Have you used descript or have you played around with that?

[00:58:07] Thomas: I have not played around with Descript personally. I have a few friends who do, for me, the problem I'm trying to solve is getting ideas, turning the transcriptions and descript does not have a mobile app. So I use Otter for that, uh, otter.ai. But, uh, I do have some friends who I think they do a lot more like voiceover work.

[00:58:24] So they are kind of reading off of a actual script. And for that script is apparently very good editing tool. Um, I'm not sure if it would fit our workflow because we're very server based. And from what I know, you have to actually upload your video files to the cloud, to work with them in script. And like our files are huge. So

[00:58:43] Josh: Yeah, I would imagine. Um, yeah, I think I remember in one of your videos, like, okay, so I'm gonna wait for the 60 gigabyte video upload of our server.

[00:58:51] Thomas: Uh, yeah, the video that I shot two days ago was 348 gigs. So , that was just the, a roll . I mean, we've had videos go over our terabyte.

[00:59:01] Josh: Geez. And that's just like really long videos, like 4k, what are you shooting in?

[00:59:07] Thomas: 4k and I mean, you know, it's like 4k 10 bit log footage, um, and some videos it's like, it's not even that long of a video. We just shot so much B roll. And then we go through that, that it ends up, you know, we've had a video be a terabyte before because of that.

[00:59:21] Josh: crazy. And do you think it's like overkill because you're like, oh, it's gonna get compressed on YouTube anyways. Or is this like, screw it. We want the highest quality. Keep it in the archive,

[00:59:28] Thomas: I mean, I mean, I guess it's technically overkill for YouTube now, but I want to have the files

[00:59:35] Josh: True. True. And just quick question on that. What do you use for server? Is it like a custom thing or are

[00:59:42] Thomas: we use basically what LANs tech tips uses. So it's a 45 drive store.

[00:59:48] I think we have like 170 terabytes. Uh, we have it in an it rack and then there's a 10 gigabit per second ethernet, um, Nick or network interface card on that. And then we have those installed in our computers too. So I've got three ethernet cords running off of that onto all the computers out here.

[01:00:06] Josh: awesome. It's just local. So you guys have it all in there.

[01:00:08] Thomas: Yeah. And because it's 10 gigabit ethernet, we can actually edit the files on the server because 10 gigabit ethernet is actually faster than six gigabytes, uh, gigabits to your internal drives. So as long as you have enough hard drives striped in the correct rate configuration to get really nerdy for a second, you can essentially use platter hard drives on a remote server as fast or faster than an SSD would be.

[01:00:36] On your computer

[01:00:37] Josh: that just blew my mind.

[01:00:38] Thomas: Now, an NVMe, like a literally onto your motherboard might be still faster, but the long and short of it is we can edit straight off a server with no problems. It doesn't need to be over the internet. Like Internet's always gonna be like our Internet's always gonna be gigabit, but we're talking about local network.

[01:00:55] Josh: True.

[01:00:56] Thomas: As you have the tech that supports 10 over every device that you're passing it through, then you can get a 10 gigabit connection to your server.

[01:01:03] Josh: Okay. That's awesome. I'll be honest with you, man. I could probably talk super nerdy tech with you for hours. Uh, I don't wanna keep you here for too long, cause I have million questions again, like just from you, from having a decade of experience with like content creation and now, like I didn't even get into stuff with like what you're doing with like Nebula and standard.

[01:01:19] Maybe we can do a part two of some point later on. I know you've got a busy, uh, summer ahead of you and congrats on the wedding coming up too, by the way, man. That's gonna be awesome.

[01:01:29] Thomas: Thank you. very excited for

[01:01:30] Josh: I bet it's a big, big, uh, milestone a.

[01:01:33] Thomas: Definitely is. Yeah. I mean, I've been with my fiance for almost 10 years. I proposed over two years ago. And then, uh, I don't know. I don't know why we just couldn't get married for some reason for two straight years.

[01:01:46] Josh: I wonder what that was, man. This is so weird. We have so many, um, interesting similarities. Cause I've been with my fiance for eight years. recently got engaged with her and now we're getting now we had to wait again another year, so it's gonna be 10 years for us as well. Uh, so, so weird. Such a weird

[01:02:00] Thomas: well, congrats in advance on your wedding. Ours is finally

[01:02:05] Josh: Yeah, I know, right. It's like, oh, wonder why we couldn't do that for the last two years. So hopefully nothing else comes up like that was it. Come on guys. Like let's move forward now.

[01:02:14] yep.

[01:02:15] Hopefully man. Um, yeah, that's awesome. Congrats, dude. It seems like you're really going into a whole new area of life in so many different ways.

[01:02:21] I mean congrats on huge product launch, you know, um, engagement. It seems like this whole new chapter of life is happening for you. So it's been an honor to be able to speak with you now again, after seeing your face on YouTube for years, it's been an honor to speak with you, man. I really appreciate you taking the

[01:02:36] Thomas: Yeah. Well, thanks for having me in your show. This was a great time.

[01:02:39] Josh: it, dude. And before we do go, I do have like few like last questions. I'd love to end on like a high note, but before we get into that, is there anything that like, maybe I missed that we were chatting about anything you wanna plug, um, any kind of parting wisdom for content creators before we, uh, wrap this up.

[01:02:55] Thomas: I mean, the, the main thing I'll harp on is that 1% role find a way to create your consistency and get better. Just follow your interest and get better.

[01:03:04] Josh: That's awesome. And, um, you know, for anyone listening, we spoke about a lot of specific stuff. It's all gonna be in the show notes. Um, I will put, um, all of the notion templates, if you guys are interested in checking that out, I'll also link the video where you walk through it, um, in here as well.

[01:03:18] So there'll be tons of resources. You talked about podcasts that you've done. You talked about videos, I'll put them all in the show notes. So guys, if you're listening, just go into the show notes, you will find everything linked there. And I guess the last thing now, man, I'd love to kind of end on high note.

[01:03:32] But I kind of know the answer now, I guess it's like, what is something coming up that you're super excited about that's coming up in the

[01:03:38] Thomas: Getting married, dude.

[01:03:39] Josh: exactly. That's awesome.

[01:03:41] Thomas: yeah. Yeah. I mean that plus, uh, I guess the, the two work things I have going on right now are just solidifying the notion template business. And then, uh, over on Nebula, we did just recently release a classes site or a classes part of the site, so I have a class on, um, business 1 0 1 for creators. So I'm pretty excited to get some promotion going.

[01:04:01] Josh: Oh yeah. That's super fresh. I gotta check that out, man. Congrats on that too. See, so many things, so many things, and like I said, we didn't even get into, uh, Nebula. We didn't get into standard. So maybe at some point we could do a follow up or something. Um, but you know, I really appreciate taking an hour to speak with me and, and chat.

[01:04:18] And it's been an absolute honor to speak with you on the podcast, man.

[01:04:20] Thomas: for sure.

[01:04:21] Josh: Excellent. All right. Thank you for everyone listening. Um, I'll see you in the next one. Take care.

Thanks for coming this far! if you're reading this, it is no accident. The universe brought you to this corner of the internet for a reason, and you're on the right track. I already know that you're an amazing person and I can't wait to connect with you!

— Josh

Episode Transcript

Josh Gonsalves
Mind Meld Podcast Host

Hi, I'm Josh Gonsalves, the host and producer of Mind Meld. I'm also a Canadian Academy Award-nominated director and Co-founder of Contraverse, an immersive media company. I'm a multi-media experience designer living and working in Toronto, operating at the intersection of design and exponential technologies to develop solutions that change the world for the better.

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