Ask Amanda About Marketing – Episode 18: Wait. Do You Have a Content Code? [Ft. Tommy Walker]

Sometimes we all need to do some soul searching, like figuring out what it is we want out of life…or our brand’s blog.

, Ask Amanda About Marketing – Episode 18: Wait. Do You Have a Content Code? [Ft. Tommy Walker]

Sometimes, the difficult part about writing a blog is getting in all the information along with the right tone. That’s where the content code comes in–giving you guidelines on how to find the soul of your blog.

Tommy Walker of Shopify Plus joins me this week to give us some insight on his content code. His 10 rules allow writers to get a better grip of what it means to write on their blogs and what their work stands for.

Here are some of the tips he covers:

  • Don’t paint idyllic pictures
  • Don’t talk down to the reader
  • Do the research
  • Ask better questions
  • Tell a story  

, Ask Amanda About Marketing – Episode 18: Wait. Do You Have a Content Code? [Ft. Tommy Walker]

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Full Transcript:

Amanda Milligan: Welcome to Ask Amanda About Marketing, a podcast in which I, Amanda, or occasionally a special guest, answer your questions about inbound marketing. straightforward, right? If you want to submit a question, email me at [email protected]. I’d love to hear from you. Let’s get right to it.

Today’s episode features a great interview with Tommy Walker from Shopify Plus. However, I do want to note that my computer decided to just not recognize my podcast mic and instead use the built-in computer audio. So I am not at my best quality audio-wise in this episode and I apologize for that.

However, the good news is that Tommy sounds fantastic. So tune in to the episode. Let me know what you think and enjoy.

Tommy Walker from Shopify Plus is joining me on this week’s episode to answer the question: How do you find the soul of your blog?

We’ll get into what that means in a few minutes. But first, I’d love to have Tommy talk about his position now his work with Shopify Plus and maybe a little bit of background about Shopify Plus itself. So welcome to the show Tommy.

Tommy Walker: Thank you so much for having me. So yeah, so I’m one of the content marketing leads over at Shopify Plus. The blog that we have is for being honest about high growth or what it takes to run a high-growth, high-volume business that can deal with anything from shipping problems to management issues and dealing with growth in a hyper-growth company. We ourselves are a hyper-growth part of the organization, which is awesome. So we have a lot of that experience of what it means to go from 15 people to 300 people in such a very short period of time.

What we do, what Shopify Plus specifically is for, is for the high growth high volume merchants people, who are growing really fast and they need more from their platform and more for their from their business and we have anybody ranging from mid-market players to you know, giant retailers. We have people all across the spectrum there. So large organizations like General Electric have brands with us, Nestle, Kanye West, right? So dealing with a lot of high volume very visible people.

AM: Well, thank you for that breakdown of Shopify Plus. So, how do you fit into this picture here in marketing? What do you, what is your day to day?

TW: I run the Plus blog and I do most of the editorial duties anything from content planning to working with partners and bringing in partner content to running my team which is all about running the day-to-day. We do case studies. We do tactical and strategy-based stuff as well as work on different formats, including video and things like that.

AM: Got it. So I think what we should focus on today is creating a quality content code so I’d love to hear what that means to you. What is a content code? So everybody kind of is on the same page and well, let’s just start there before I get to any of our questions. So what how do you define a content code?

TW: Sure, so when we started the Shopify Plus blog, I had run a blog before this. I was the Editor in Chief over at Conversion XL before I came over to Shopify. One of the things that I had noticed in my previous editorial experience was that a lot of guidelines are around how you write for our blog, which is like, articles need to be eighteen hundred and fifty words and images go every couple of paragraphs and things like that. But as an editor, one of the things that I always felt was lacking from what we were doing but also from my guest blogging experience was, what is this blog about like, what is the soul of this blog? What is the essence? How do you avoid those awkward conversations when a draft is turned in where it’s like, yeah, technically this information is right, but that’s not how we would say it, right?

So what I did before we started hiring anybody into the content team was I wrote out basically 10 rules for what it means to write for our blog and what we actually stand for. So one of them, for example, is don’t paint idyllic pictures. Another rule is don’t talk down to the reader. Another rule is opinions are b*******, do the research, you know, ask better questions. Tell a story, right? So the idea behind this is not to say, here’s the sort of meta information of what the blog needs to be about. But if—do you mind if I read through one of the sections?

AM: Go ahead.

TW: My favorite section here is opinions of b******* to the research and that’s rule number four. And this says strong writers with uninformed opinions are your mortal enemy. They spread misinformation like a virus. They have support and numbers and we are locked in an eternal war to win the hearts and minds of those who deserve to be informed. Opinions are easy. They are formed out of personal bias in an unwillingness to challenge our own personal beliefs. All in opinion needs to flourish is a strong position and another person to buy in without questioning why. War slavery and genocide or products of people in power having strong unchallenged opinions. We avoid publishing opinions whenever possible. You say simple websites are better? Show a steady that validates your point. You say segmenting your audience leads to more revenue? Provide proof of several case studies.

And don’t stop there. Go beyond the case study and discover. Why. Why does this segment work? Why do behaviors exist and what are the psychological factors of play? What’s the research to support this? And then one of my favorite authors Robert McKeith has in his book story, a quote that says “Do research. Feed your talent. Research not only wins the war on cliche. It’s War. It’s the key to victory over its fear and its cousin depression.” There’s a number of other things that go into that but you captured that captures the idea of like this isn’t why we do the research or this isn’t just to do research for your post. But like this is why we’re doing it. The code is filled with that type of you know language to really get that essence of what we’re trying to go after and evoke that feeling that we’re trying to go after with the blog overall.

AM: That’s really interesting because I’m sure I’ve seen breakdowns of rules like that or like a style guide that will say, don’t do this, don’t do that, but not necessarily kind of the mindset that went into making that decision. Hearing that—do your research—that sounds straightforward and then the background you just provide a kind of gives it this entirely different context because obviously, this kind of philosophy is important in the fake news era we live in now so it makes total sense where you’re coming from.

Then just the perspective as well, that having evidence for what you’re saying is just going to be more effective as a blog post anyway, like, people are hopefully, you said some people will just take you for your word. But since you’re trying to provide value to customers or potential customers, they want to see why you’re saying these things. They want the proof. And anyway, that’s really interesting. Thank you for reading part of that because I think that’s the perfect example of giving that context. How to communicate a philosophy rather than just like a series of rules. I think I don’t think a lot of people do that.

TW: No, I mean I guest blogged for a really long time ever before I ever became an editor and that was the thing that I always felt was missing was like, where’s that sort of shared middle ground between yourself and the writing team? And how do you know when something is right, when it feels right? So much of what we do—I come from an acting and film background before I ever got into content marketing.

So a lot of my work is sort of based on not just what do we publish and when do we publish it but what sort of feeling are we trying to evoke from this stuff. For me the content code, writing that out—I wanted to demonstrate in the code itself and in the text of the code itself like that feeling that we’re trying to go after. It’s part scary. It’s part inspirational. It’s part challenging and you know, one of the things that I say in here is like, challenge the reader to get on your level.

So much content that’s out there sort of panders to the lower lowest common denominator. But if we’re dealing with high-growth and high-volume businesses, I want to challenge them because they’re willing to challenge themselves. Not go, if you put video on your product page, you’ll get increased conversions like yeah, but why, right?

There’s a lot of research to back that type of stuff up and I’m going to assume that a good portion of people who have gotten to that point have a little bit in nerdom about some of the stuff that they get really into.

AM: Right. So when you built this code, when you figured out, okay, this is what’s going to work best for us. And you said you use it for hiring. How does that work? You show them the code and then they write the post and you see how it matches up and then that’s how you would decide that they were a good fit or what was that process?

TW: No, that’s a great question. So when we started hiring the original group of people to start out our content team, I wrote the code first. It was the very first piece of text I ever wrote because I said, I wanted to make sure that the people that we brought on were that so I wrote my ad immediately after finishing up the final draft of this code. That ad was a distilled version of this, right? These are the things I expect. This is who I’m looking for, etc. When I wrote my original ad, it had, you know, submit three pieces that you feel is the best representation of your work.

I used that to judge on those pieces, whether or not people had these sort of principles in their own writing already. Then what I actually did—I did something that I don’t think of and I wouldn’t be able to do it today—but I actually went through a full edit of each of those pieces from the people who I was looking at and there’s no skin in the game from them at that point because they already wrote the piece. It’s already published somewhere. Like, there’s nothing else really that can be done with it.

But I wanted to see how that feedback was taken and then I would send them the code afterwards and say, this is the expectation I have of the content that we have. Do you think you would be interested in living up to that? And what it did was it simultaneously attracted the right people and repelled the wrong ones.

AM: I can totally see how that would happen.

TW: Right because they were like, wow. This is really intense. And the handful of people that I ended up bringing on in the very beginning looked at this and said, you get it. You’re somebody who I want to work with because of the way you think about this stuff. What’s important is that’s such a big part of the team dynamic right in any team. It doesn’t matter if it’s my team or anybody’s team. If we got the essence of what we’re going to be going after—and this is the foundational document for our day-to-day work—this gives us that sort of shared common ground.

What we ended up getting to do once people were brought on and contracts are signed and we started actually writing with each other is we got to hit the ground running on, you know, here’s a post. Let me take a look at it. Okay, cool. We didn’t have to do a lot of that back and forth tweaking, which is really common. Words like no, this is good, but I wouldn’t say it that way, maybe we should phrase it this way.

There’s just always that really awkward onboarding period between writer and editor and I wanted to avoid that as much as possible. So this created that shared language in the very beginning and people were started writing immediately.

AM: So I love that concept and it’s funny because you mentioned that when you were hiring writers that you asked them to get on the level you’re expecting just like you were saying you want the writers to do. It sounds like this brand attributes are even coming through how you develop the code and represent this code.

So what about the people who have a new product or new brand. They’re listening and they’re thinking, how do I even nail down what the qualities I want to demonstrate are? Or what do I really want to hold as the core of my editorial work? How do you go from like brand attributes to content attributes?

TW: That’s a phenomenal question. And I don’t know if I’ve ever examined it in depth that way. I mean, I wrote this at the very beginning of Shopify Plus. So I think what this code is, I’ll try my best. I’m freestyling now. So what this code is that sort of middle-ground between who were trying to attract and target for our customers and what we need to do in order to get to that point.

So this isn’t the first content code I’ve written. I’ve actually written another one for a completely different company, totally different market, and it was an interesting exercise going through it a second time because that market was like small businesses, right? Mainstream businesses, you know, a guy who runs a mechanic shop and a local bakery and things like that. When I was going through that and thinking about the product that we were trying to sell, the ultimate end goal was like, we’re selling accounting software.

The question I had to then ask is, who is this reader and what do we need from them? And then come up with the code from that standpoint. So in that code, we’re looking at, these people aren’t trying to rule the world, right? So we’re not going to talk to them as if they’re trying to put their dent in the universe entrepreneur and take over everything. They’re just trying to they’re happy to make a couple hundred thousand bucks and get by doing the thing that they love to do.

Ultimately, I don’t have any real tactical advice on that I suppose, but think about who it is that’s going to be consuming the content and then what do you need to do to be both authentic to your brand but also become a reflection of what that reader is going to want.

AM: No, I think that makes total sense.

TW: And then develop a framework around what the rules of engagement are from there.

AM: So when you’re trying to understand your audience, where do you go? What is your process there? Where were you looking?

TW: Lots of interviews? So, you know there’s a few years back, there was a company that came out with—the LeanStartup machine came up with the Validation Board is what it was. That included a lot of, you know, how to get something out the door, and basically different steps that were necessary in order to validate your idea. So for me that was like for the content code for Shopify Plus, it was a lot of interviews with some of our existing high-growth, high-volume merchants, right? What are the things that you’re looking for? What do you not have in the content space? Like what do you wish you could read right now, but you don’t have?

If I were looking at it from a brand new perspective, complete startup. We don’t have anybody left yet. I would actually include a lot of those validation interviews as part of this process, right? Because to me, a good blog or a good publication is a reflection of what the person on the other side is thinking. When we write content. It’s not just a matter of going, let’s put words on the page, but we’re trying to engage with the inner voice. Answer some of those questions proactively.

So yeah that process is a lot of interviews, just a lot of conversation and then taking what we have out of that conversation that validates the original idea to then turn that into a reflection of that. I might also look at anything from you know, it depends on the business—if it were a software company, what are different product reviews for competitors? What are the different reviews that are happening out there, all the publicly available information? What are other people saying is missing or do well on the other site and then sort of form that character from there?

AM: Yeah, I actually used to do that in terms of blog content, looking at other posts and what people are asking in the comments and what people had a problem with. You can always find like the little controversies or questions in the user interactions with other things, right? Yeah, I like that strategy. This is all great we’re talking about solidifying what the code is but now let’s talk about the content itself.

You manage the blog, you have posts on the blog. What have you found in terms of the content type—and I know that’s a very broad thing to say, but in terms of content type, what did you find to be the most successful? And I’ll have specific questions for you about things I saw in there that I thought were really interesting. But what have you seen overall? Is it the how-to’s like solving problems? I saw a couple of case study-based posts on there. What have you seen to be the most successful?

TW: Sure. So for us, it’s primarily the case studies. Case studies are the most like genuinely—they drive the most traffic and they get the most engagement and I think that’s simply because people like seeing what other people are doing and learning about other people’s businesses.

AM: Back to what you were saying before about showing the evidence. It all plays together.

TW: Absolutely and I will talk a little bit more about case studies in just a moment because we have a very specific direction that we took with those in the very beginning that I think makes them kind of unique to the way we approach them. But the other thing that works really well is, let’s take a commonly viewed subject but then flip it on its head. So for example, where do people look when they view your website, right? Like there’s there’s a lot of heat-mapping data and then we can you know outline that and say, you know people look here here here here and here and then break out a bunch of other articles based on that, which turns into like, how to optimize your navigation, and you know, what people look for in headlines, and, here’s how to get a really great hero image.

So that stuff that helps people understand if we’re looking at the user experience side. Understand what’s going on through a visitor’s mind when they’re looking at the page and the sort of like micro-interactions. We try to get really deep into that. Then the other side is like on the more tactical side. You know, how do you offer free shipping? Right? Like how do you do this thing that everybody says you should do but nobody tells you how to do?

The content marketing space is filled with that right? Like it doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, a lot of people say, create awesome content. But what does that mean? A lot of e-commerce sites will say offer free shipping. Okay, but how where I still stay profitable? So we sort of look at those things in depth and then what we’ve been doing a lot more of lately is—it’s not just my team anymore that’s doing this but we’re bringing in the ecosystem, right?

We’re getting interviews or like quick little snippets from merchants. We’re getting partners within our partner ecosystem to contribute as well, you know, and really flush that out to show overall that we’re all here for you and that there’s not just one of us that gives advice and then everybody else goes along but that Shopify as a whole is this broader ecosystem of really talented people.

AM: So how do you go about that last part? That’s interesting. I haven’t heard too much about that from other people.

TW: That’s a lot of emails. Basically, it’s a lot of emails. Hey, we’re writing an article that’s based on this thing. Do you have anything else that—

AM: I like approach though. Not just keeping it to the couple people who contribute to the blog or what have you but making it more of a brand communication. We have all these people who are experts at these things that we’re more than happy to go and ask them these questions and involve them. That’s pretty cool.

TW: Yeah, my team is doing a really great job of it and it doesn’t happen overnight, right? What’s been really great about my team when we started taking this approach as I said. So, you know one of the guys on my team, start mapping our internal networks because Shopify has a ton of people now, right? So let’s start mapping our internal people and get their expertise on things and that’s anyone from our UX department to Merchant Success to Sales. Just start talking to people inside the company and start bringing them into the pieces.

Then one of my other guys who does more of the case studies, Nick Winkler, I said to him, start, building relationships with the merchants that you do case studies with so we can call on them for other stuff but also start talking to partners more often so we can start bringing those people in. So now as a team, we’re not just operating in our own little silo but we’re trying to build a map of the entire organization that will help us with any given piece.

AM: I love that and having the writers themselves get involved in that as well. So you may have already answered my next question, which is how do you come up with ideas? And it sounds like you’ve already named a few so, answering questions that your potential customers have, Turning an idea on its head and seeing what other perspectives you can get from that practice. Is there anything else that comes to mind? Like maybe you’re sitting there building out an editorial calendar like places you go, tools you use, anything of that nature.

TW: So I’m always working, much to my wife’s behalf sometimes. I mean, ideation comes from a bunch of different places. My boss Hanna Abaza is amazing when she brings up the quote: “Marketing can’t live in a silo,” right? And can’t live in a silo and we have conversations kind of constantly, that mapping out the network, for example, is really great because if our UX people are talking about something with the merchants and they’re learning something there, we can get a lot of insight from them.

If our Merchant Success team finds that people are asking common questions. We have that relationship, we can start to build that feedback loop, right? And then from my perspective, when I’m just kind of ideating on my own, I just think about different experiences that I have when I’m looking—like, when I’m on a website, right, and I go to use the search. Because I’ve been doing this for so long, I really think about what that experience is, kind of observing myself as I’m doing web stuff.

Why this stuff works and what works and what doesn’t work and if there’s ideas that come up through that process then that’s something that also—you know, I’m old school. I just keep a notebook on me and I jot that down and say, you know, let’s explore this later. Good brand experiences and good buying experiences—and we’ve experienced it, everybody’s experienced this—you’ve gone through the entire checkout process and bought something you didn’t need at all. You know what you were doing as you were going through it, but you were so compelled throughout each step of the process, right? So and why is that? Why did I buy that thing?

So thinking about it from that perspective. What are those steps that keeps that momentum up as people are going through that experience? How do we build that into the thing and like yeah, just how do you experience the web and what are those different experiences that draw you in and keep you in an observational mindset?

AM: It’s so funny because those things that are the most effective are the ones we don’t notice and you wouldn’t just be like thinking, I need to focus on this how is happening? Because it’s performing so well that you’re so sucked in. Which is so funny to think about like, those are the things we need to be paying the most attention to. I like to do creative writing in my free time and people always say you gotta read to become a better writer. Well, the books that I really like, I’m not even reading them from that perspective of like what is making this work? I’m just so engrossed in it that I’m reading it in a day and you almost have to go back and revisit it and take it step by step and think, what is it about all of this that made it so engaging?

TW: Yeah. I mean the best buying experience is to me—there’s a company, Lootcrate. Have you seen these guys? So Lootcrate’s a Shopify company. I’m a huge nerd if you haven’t picked up on that already, but they’re this company that sends out the subscription boxes that are based on like nerd culture, right? So it’s like video game-themed stuff and zombie-themed stuff and comic books and pop culture and like that type of thing.

They had such a great top of funnel experience that every time I saw one of their ads show up in my newsfeed on Facebook, it’s this really great video or these really compelling ads were it’s like, this boxes theme this month, we’re doing a space theme and it’s like a little bit of mystery, but also you get to see like, oh they do pop up like vinyl or the vinyl toys and things like that.

But then like as a customer, I’m thinking, I want that and I need that and I click through and I’m observing and I’m looking at you know, are they answering the objections that I might have because 20 bucks a month might be a little bit of money. Do I want to spend that? Do I know what I’m getting in the box? Like all of that.

Then from the other side of that is trying to reverse engineer that consumer experience. It’s like well, what’s really working here? How are they handling those natural questions that pop up in my mind? I think my acting experience comes into that quite a bit. Not from the performance standpoint, but from that observing, right? Because when you’re an actor, you have to constantly be observing your own behavior in the world around you so you can create a character out of that.

That’s ultimately what we’re doing with writing to write for the web. You’re observing what’s going on around you and then taking little bits of that and then diving deep into that.

AM: Right, so that’s really helpful for building audience personas to quote-unquote “characters.”

TW: Yes. I mean, yeah, exactly. I mean that’s from when we went through the personas exercise. It was like, let’s take a look at the case studies we’ve already written and then start to categorize them because we found that the same narrative beats started happening over and over again. So like if we know that these narrative beats are going to happen because all of these people are experiencing a similar type of story, how do we then start to classify those and then build a character around that?

AM: Right, it all ties together somehow it’s funny when other pursuits or backgrounds end up being so valuable to marketing, you know, like you’re talking about acting and creative writing. It really does kind of shape the way your perspective when you approach these things, but I always love talking to people who have backgrounds like that and how its evolved.

TW: Yeah. I mean, when I first started my marketing career, I made a very distinct decision that people today don’t view this computer screen that you and I are talking on very differently than they did TV screens or movie screens of the past. We just have an expectation to be involved with that narrative. There’s a little bit more interactivity, but there’s foundations for all of this because it’s still the same screen, right?

I actually got really deep—and this is maybe tangential and you’ll probably end up cutting this—but I got really deep into video game design for a little while, researching the behavioral design on video games because when you look at the way the video games work in e-commerce, that’s actually very similar.

You need to be able to have small interactions right in the very beginning of the video game to get the reward in the payoff, to establish the rules of the game in the world. And then from there, you build out these more complex harder experiences. World 1-1 of Super Mario, for example, within the first few steps you jump on an enemy, you hit a box, you get a power-up, and you kind of get all the rules of the system within you know, just a handful of frames.

How can that be mapped over to website design and how do you give people those feedback loops as they’re going to find out like yeah, you are taking the right steps. Good. Let’s keep going. Let’s get a deeper investment.

AM: Yeah. I am a huge fan of drawing those connections between different fields and because no matter what you’re producing, everybody’s trying to accomplish the same thing. It’s engaging the person in the audience or the consumer, the user, and there’s always some kind of lesson you can learn from how other people are succeeding in that, I completely agree.

It’s already at the half-hour mark but I wanted to talk quickly about a few more things. First, you said you were going to come back to case studies. Let’s talk a little bit about that.

TW: Sure. So we took a different approach. We’re actually—we’re evolving this now because it’s necessary because of where we are. But when we started doing case studies I said, you know, what don’t a lot of case studies do? So in the very beginning I had said, what do most brands do when it comes to case studies? And we’re taking this approach now with different kinds of case studies, but it’s problem, solution, result, right?

Everybody does problem solution. And that’s fine, right? I think that’s fine and it works and we’re starting to do that too. So I can’t knock it. But the question that not a lot of people have or a lot of people answers, what led to the problem? Everybody looks at that problem, but there was actually several steps that led up to that problem. And what I sort of thought about when we were doing these case studies is like, what if we did these more like a Rolling Stone interview? Bring me to that moment where it’s like 3 o’clock in the morning and you’re standing outside and it’s super cold out and you’re just wondering like, what the hell am I doing, right?

Bring me to those moments where I have to really think about that sort of isolation or the loneliness or the frustration or any of those other things that makes it so you go, something has to change. A platform, which we are, can be such a big part like overall. We’re invisible. You try to be invisible because you want people to be able to do what they need to do. And then that’s that but that can lead to so many frustrations where it’s like, it’s going to take me another 30 minutes to do this thing that I don’t want to do.

You know, I have to talk to six different people in order to get a video up on the website or something like that, right? What does that look like? And how does that frustration like start to seep into that and how can we explore that and then talk about what happened next?

AM: Yeah, including the broader context and I think that makes them even trust you more because you’re willing to acknowledge that these other things had to happen for you to arrive there and maybe you know, they’ll think oh, it could be prevented next time rather than we getting sucked into this again.

TW: Yeah, and the broader thing that I try to do, like coming at it from that emotional connection, I want the reader to be able to identify their situation in the story that we’re telling, right? Somebody who goes, “we’ve grown too fast and now we have to spend $600,000” to because “we had a high-traffic day in our site crash because we weren’t prepared.”

I want that person who’s also experiencing that to go, you know, these other people experienced it too and felt that sort of loss and disappointment but then decided that this was the better way to go.

AM: This is exactly what I was gonna ask you about because I saw the post relating to the approach of Black Friday and Cyber Monday and it was in second person and I never see that and it’s so funny because in the creative writing classes I took a college, it’s like second person, like it’s scary. Don’t do it. It’s tough to pull off and seeing that—I have it pulled up there. I’ll link to it in the notes, but I wanted to talk to you about this.

Let me see if I can just read part of it to people: “It’s like there you are addressing the company at the 2016 Q4 annual kick-off, smiling. You’ve just finished showing the campaign slides for this year’s Bosses Day promotion, etc, etc. Your hairline dampens and cools—” and it’s all in second person. Putting the person in that situation. Yep. So is that why you decided to use second person there because like you said you want to connect with the annoyances that are happening or the things that are frustrating for people and like really connecting with that?

TW: Yeah, that was actually an experiment on my part because as the editor, I don’t often write my own stuff anymore and I wanted to explore something that we’ve heard a lot but we wouldn’t have to tack on any individual founder. This is an amalgamation of stories that we’ve heard quite a bit. But if you were to sit, if you had one person sort of owning up to that feeling, right, that could put them in a really tricky or vulnerable position within their own organization.

So they’re never going to do that. However, I don’t think that there’s enough speculative fiction—is what we call that—out there in the B2B space. This was something that I felt like people would be able to relate to and it was really personal for me to write as well. Thinking about getting into that headspace of like man, I messed up. You know, how do you own up to that? And what does the effect of that have? So yeah, I wanted to put that out there so we could really explore that inner dialogue that people aren’t willing to say. That’s your deepest, darkest secrets right there. I wanted to be able to put that out there. So I’m glad you like that one.

AM: That was cool. It kind of forces you to be extremely honest like they’re saying like you had a reach in and think about a time when you were vulnerable or felt like you had failed in some way. Talking about that so frankly definitely caught my eye for sure when I was looking through the blog. So I just wanted to ask about that. It’s fun to know that was an experiment on your part. If you do more of them, let me know. I’d love to hear what resonates with people just even stylistically, you know, I don’t see this kind of style a lot.

TW: We got quite a few emails coming in and Slack messages from other employees that were like, that’s so true. Like that’s so real. I felt that and it’s like, good. I’m glad that I was able to speak to a deeper part of somebody than like, here’s how to get free shipping right? There’s more to the business aspect. There’s so much personal stuff wrapped up in business that nobody talks about. So yeah, I’m hoping to do more of that too.

AM: I write too and to me, that’s the best compliment if somebody comes up to you is like I totally understand, I feel that, know exactly what you’re saying. That means you definitely succeeded. Well, thank you so much for being on the show, Tommy. This is super interesting and I think going to be really applicable. Everybody needs to grapple with this and what their core values are and how that’s going to translate to their content. So, really appreciate it.

TW: Awesome. Thank you so much for having me.

AM: Thanks again for listening. If you enjoyed this episode, click subscribe. Don’t leave me with the realization that I’m talking to no one and please rate and review on iTunes so I can keep making this podcast better and your lives easier. Take care.

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