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SPI 539: The NEW Creator Economy with Roberto Blake

I can’t believe we got here so quickly, but I’m fired up for 2022, because we have a great lineup for you this year on the Smart Passive Income Podcast—starting with today’s guest, Roberto Blake. Roberto’s been on the show before, and he’s just a wealth of knowledge and inspiration.

Today we’re talking about the creator economy and how to approach it this year. With so many people creating content on all these different platforms, how do we stand out from the crowd? How do we approach the work in a way that makes sense for not just the platforms we’re on, but who we are and where we want to go in our lives?

Roberto and I talk about how the American dream has evolved and what creators—especially young creators—can do to set themselves up for success. We even get into an interesting discussion about “reaction content” where you’ll see Roberto’s skill of philosophizing things in a way that takes us way more deeply into them.

If you’re thinking about being a better creator—or getting started as one—in 2022, then you’re in the right place!

Today’s Guest

Roberto Blake

Roberto Blake is a creative entrepreneur and founder of Awesome Creator Academy, a coaching program that helps influencers and entrepreneurs build their brands online.

He is the CEO of Create Awesome Media, a branding agency focused on helping content creators and Influencers.

In 2013 Roberto launched a YouTube channel helping creatives with career development and personal branding. He has created over 1,300 videos on YouTube and has an audience of over 500,000 subscribers.

He is a keynote speaker and host of the popular Create Something Awesome Today Podcast. On the podcast, he interviews guests and dives into deeper topics around the growing creator economy.



You’ll Learn


[The resources below are Amazon affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you purchase using one of the links.]

SPI 539: The NEW Creator Economy with Roberto Blake

Pat Flynn: Welcome to 2022. I can’t believe we got here so quickly, but I’m also very excited and fired up, because we have a great lineup for you this year on the Smart Passive Income Podcast, starting with today’s guest, Roberto Blake. Roberto’s been on the show before, and he’s just a wealth of knowledge and inspiration, a creator himself, and just this year, having gone through a number of different milestones in his business. And we’re not here to talk about his story. We’ve shared that before. We’re here to have a discussion, a discussion about the creator economy and how to approach it here this year. There’s been so many people who have come about to start creating on all these different kinds of platforms. And how do we stand out of the crowd? How do we approach it in a way that makes sense for not just the platforms that we’re on, but who we are and where we want to go in our lives?

Pat Flynn: We end up having an interesting discussion about the new American dream and how things have changed over time, and what a creator, especially a young creator, can do to set themselves up for success. We also have some big discussions about… I don’t know if there’s a term for it, but reaction content, meaning on YouTube and many other places, content that is basically based on reacting to somebody else or something that already exists. And yes, you can make an argument that, well, everything is that. But specifically, there’s been some things happening in the world of YouTube and in the world of creation, where there’s been some big news and big things happen that have an impact on us creators and what that might mean for what we should do and what we shouldn’t do, et cetera.

Pat Flynn: I mean, we’re going to talk about a lot of stuff today, and Roberto has just this way of philosophizing things in a way that allows us to think more deeply. And we’re going to have a discussion today, and I’m glad that you’re a fly on a wall. So thank you for being here. Welcome to the podcast. Here we go.

Speaker 2: Welcome to the Smart Passive Income Podcast, where it’s all about working hard now so you can sit back and reap the benefits later. And now, your host. He’s gotten much better, and only checks his business analytics five times a day, Pat Flynn.

Pat Flynn: This is session 539 of the Smart Passive Income Podcast with Roberto Blake. Here we go. Roberto, welcome back to the Smart Passive Income Podcast, my friend. Thanks for coming back.

Roberto Blake: No, thank you so much for having me, Pat.

Pat Flynn: I have to congratulate you, because in 2021, I think it was 2021, which just breezed by so quickly, you hit half a million subscribers on YouTube. A huge milestone and a big feat for you. Congratulations.

Roberto Blake: Thank you for that. Yeah, I hit it right at the end of 2020 going into 2021, literally in December, and then I believe now we’re at over 540,000 subscribers. You’ve been on YouTube long enough. You know what chugging along looks like.

Pat Flynn: Yeah. And you’ve been on YouTube for how long, just to give people perspective?

Roberto Blake: I’ve been on YouTube since the beginning, but I started this account in 2009. But I didn’t really do anything with it. I’m not sure I could call myself a creator when I was posting, what, two videos every two years until 2013 or whatever? So I believe that I started taking this seriously and can call myself a creator 2013, so it’s been a minute. It’s been almost a decade of grinding on this platform, uploading content. And there was a point where I was a daily content creator for like two and a half years on this channel. So I’ve made 1,500-plus videos by now. I’ve done thousands of livestreams. I was an early livestreamer, just like you too, when Facebook opened up mobile livestreaming. Meerkat, Periscope, Blab. Rest in peace to some of those platforms. Instagram Live. So it’s been thousands of livestreams, man.

Pat Flynn: That’s incredible. Well, you’ve come a long way. You’ve seen a lot of shifts in the world of creator economy, and we’re at a huge boom right now. I mean, the pandemic I think has had a lot to do with that. A lot of people finally getting the courage, and also the tools, making it a lot easier to show up and be present and build an audience. And there’s all these tools coming out, and there’s a lot of money being thrown around into this space. From your perspective, as somebody who was there kind of from the beginning, what is your perspective? What is this creator economy? Where did it come from? And what should we look out for?

Roberto Blake: In a way, it’s that we’re in the modern phase of the creator economy. The creator economy has existed and has been with us technically for hundreds of years, but it wasn’t accessible. It was very elitist. There were a lot of gatekeepers. If you look back, there have always been content creators, and there have been methods of monetizing. Publishing books and getting book royalties has always been a thing. Publishing music and having music royalties has always been a thing. Film and television and getting royalties from your creative work. But that was not accessible.

Roberto Blake: It was not financially accessible to have the resources, time, freedom, or bandwidth to do any of that until the end of the 20th century put it literally in the palm of most people’s hands in terms of making it much more accessible with the inventions and innovations of the internet and the scale to reach people that that provided, the innovations of self-publishing with regard to platforms like Amazon and Apple, and then also the music streaming services in terms of creators being able to go into Apple, Amazon, Spotify, so on and so forth, and claim royalties and do that without the need of the gatekeeper of a traditional music label.

Roberto Blake: So you had the gatekeepers of broadcast television, radio, the music industry, and the publishing houses that got to say who could prosper and monetize as a creator. The platforms democratized that in terms of social media as well as the platforms that built publication, distribution, and monetization models in. Again, Amazon with regard to the publishing industry disruption, Apple and others, Apple being at the forefront I think for the music side for independent artists and musicians, and YouTube with regard to visual media, television. And then all of your print-on-demand services I think play a role as well, and now there’s even a future market in that. Also, you have to give credit to the ability to make and develop apps, products, and things that help like that with Adobe, the app marketplaces of both Google and Apple in terms of their app ecosystem for the programmers and coders and those things. Tremendous scale that came from that. Amazon Web Services. So these technology platforms have democratized the opportunity to create, market, and monetize, and that’s what I’m seeing.

Pat Flynn: And that’s really fascinating. And so on one hand, it’s like: Great. It’s easier now more than ever to become a creator. There are no gatekeepers anymore. You can kind of do whatever you want to do. But that also comes with the other side, which is: Well, what do I do? And there’s all this competition now. There’s so much noise out there. Is it even worth it? So what would be the approach that you would offer somebody who is a brand new creator, who is trying to discover what their voice is in this space where everybody is also doing the same thing?

Roberto Blake: Well, I mean, I don’t worry about everybody else, and no one else should either. So that’s number one. You shouldn’t worry about, “Oh, the market’s saturated.” Is it saturated with quality? The answer’s probably no. There’s not saturation of quality in every niche, and there’s not saturation of representation in every niche. So why worry about it? Think about it. If you look at any niche, you can’t tell me that there’s any niche where there’s an abundance of where it’s oversaturated with diversity. That’s just one angle. You can’t find one niche that you can show me that’s oversaturated with an embarrassment of riches when it comes to high-quality content. Or, you could go to the other extreme. There’s now an embarrassment of riches of acceptable levels of content that are massively consistent, where it’s reliable on a fixed schedule outside of traditional media companies, where an independent voice is just more consistent and is daily.

Roberto Blake: If you look at that, there’s not saturation there. And then there may not be saturation in a certain genre represented within a platform, because people are following the leader, so to speak, so they’re not even trying to do that. And then there’s always a way to do something different and innovative. So when people say that, I think that it’s two things, Pat. They lack confidence, and they lack imagination.

Pat Flynn: Where do you get the confidence?

Roberto Blake: The best way to probably get confidence is by doing real confidence. So I would say that real confidence is built in application and accomplishment, and I would say that arrogance is built in the assumption and entitlement and belief that you’re deserving of greatness without taking action. Or that all action that you take is deserving of greatness, versus I believe that confidence comes from the consistency of taking action, and then the acknowledgement of the accomplishment of that consistency itself being a reward and being merit in and of itself. So I think if you want to build confidence, you have to take action first. And independent of the result, you have to have the self-awareness to recognize that the action and the consistency of the action is deserving of praise. Arrogance is wanting the praise for just basically showing up, or not even doing anything at all. So I think that’s the difference,

Pat Flynn: The participation trophy sort of situation and that entitlement that can sometimes come as a result of just “Well, I’m on YouTube. I therefore deserve views.” Well, no. And I love how you often say… And many people have said this. I interviewed MKBHD here on the show once before, and he said his first 100 videos were for less than 100 subscribers. And we see his success today and we’re just like, “Well, of course he’s successful because of X, Y, and Z,” but we don’t think about those first moments. And you often say that too for new creators. You just get through it. And it’s going to be bad, it’s going to be messy, but just do it. What recommendation do you have for people to just get out of their own way, and just get out there and not feel entitled and have those expectations of success overnight?

Roberto Blake: It comes back to my philosophy of “make 100 crappy videos,” because it’s commitment to an output, not even a desired outcome. It’s not about getting your first 100 subscribers. It’s not about getting your first 1,000. It’s not about getting monetized. That’s not the goal of making 100 crappy videos. The goal of making 100 crappy videos is a commitment to consistency, a commitment to learning, a commitment to producing data that you can make decisions and make reasonable actions off of, instead of assumptions. There’s nothing to do before, I believe, you have that practice in place if you don’t have previous experience or a previous career and so on and so forth. And the thing is, most people are not willing to do that because they want the sexier story of going viral or of making high-quality content from day one. But you’re not entitled to the ability to make high-quality content just because you want to do it.

Roberto Blake: You’re not entitled to greatness just because you want it. There is a process that greatness demands and ask of us, and we have to be willing to make a commitment to consistency and not forgo the process and the journey just to have the reward. And so I believe that that commitment comes from a place of humility and acknowledgement to say that the people at the top, they’re deserving of greatness because of the process and journey that they went through in climbing that mountain. And so to achieve my own potential, not to have what they have, but to have the best that I am entitled to, the best that I am deserving of, I have to be willing to go on a journey and learn what it’s going to demand of me. And also, I need to taste something to see: Is this something I even like? Or was this just a borrowed dream, a borrowed fantasy, a borrowed ideal, because I thought it looked cool, because I was inspired by Marques or Mr. Beast or PewDiePie? Do you really want this, or did you just admire this person so much and you decided to take their dream for their own? You don’t have any experience of this thing. You haven’t tasted it enough to know if you even like it.

Pat Flynn: That’s so true. I mean, this is why I love those challenges that I see on all kinds of different platforms that are led by people like Brock Johnson, for example, Chalene Johnson’s son who runs these 30 reels in 30 days challenges, because he’s really big on Instagram Reels. And that encourages people to just give it a shot, give it a try. They’re messy. It’s not about what happens after the 30 days, it’s about just getting through those 30 days. But as a result of that consistency and it being about the creation, not the output of that creation, or the outcome, you learn as you go. You find your voice along the way. You adjust. You figure out if you’re a YouTuber, for example, that, “Wow, these kinds of thumbnails didn’t do so well. Let’s try these instead.”

Pat Flynn: And you have now more iterations to get that done, versus maybe just seeing what somebody else did, trying it, and going, “Oh, well put my toe in the water. Doesn’t feel very good. I’m going to try something else now.” You need to stay consistent, and I love that commitment to consistency. And it reminds me of James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits, where if you want to lose weight, for example, it’s not about the losing of the weight. It’s about the habits that you build that then is a byproduct to help you lose weight. It’s about getting up in the morning, and every day making it easy to put on a shoe or two shoes and go out on a run every morning. And just doing that consistently obviously is going to get you the results. Running a couple times because you’re just excited about it, but then you give up on it, you’re not going to get those results. You’re not going to gain endurance. You’re not going to lose weight or gain muscle or any of that stuff that you might want.

Pat Flynn: So I love that perspective. Thank you, Roberto. I want to switch to conversation to trends, trends in creation right now. You’ve seen many trends come and go, and we’re seeing a lot of micro content now with TikTok and Instagram Reels and Shorts. We’re also seeing creators being a little bit more creative as well. Where are you feeling like people who are creators today should be focusing as far as… What is working today? Or maybe even future thinking, what can people look toward to help themselves stay committed, but also grow faster and get some results?

Roberto Blake: Make platform-agnostic content. Don’t think of yourself as a YouTuber, TikToker, Instagrammer, Snapchatter, whatever. Think of yourself as a content creator. Make platform content that is not just super niche to the platform. And don’t use language like, “Oh, subscribe.” If you’re going to try to drive subscribers to your YouTube channel, instead say, “Hey, make sure you’re subscribed to my YouTube channel and that you’re following me on social media,” so that when you post that anywhere, you’re not using language that makes this video native to YouTube. You’re making this so that it can live and be booted on any platform that comes along in the future so that your body of work can stretch a lot further. You can get much more out of it, because if it’s not working here, then it’s agnostic. You can take the same content and you can post it on Facebook or Spotify or LinkedIn.

Roberto Blake: And you need to understand the differences in these platforms and whether or not you can make content that at the beginning either allows you to do no editing, and have that and just boot it, or to be able to know that you’re going to build into your workflow a way where there’s very precise, minimal editing to make these things work in these other platforms, building into each video the opportunity to milk a short piece of 30 to 60-second content out of that same individual video so that it can be put into a place where it might have more reach and virality by being an Instagram Reel, a TikTok, and YouTube Short, or can live in any of the other short-form platforms that duplicate that.

Pat Flynn: I’ve noticed that with a lot of the things that I’ve done that were live and longer, taking little moments out of that, pulling it out and putting it back into YouTube, back into a TikTok, back into a Short or Reel. And what I heard really interesting lately was this idea of repurposing. I got it from Sean Wes from Daily Content Machine, because he has a service that helps people take their long-form podcast video and then chop it up into a bunch of different pieces, and then put on all these different platforms. I was like, “Okay, well how do we measure this? Do we determine how many people on Twitter who see that micro content from that larger piece? How many of them become subscribers of my podcast?” That’s what I was thinking that we should track.

Pat Flynn: And naturally, some people might see that micro content and go, “Oh, I didn’t even know you had a podcast. Cool. Let me check it out.” But what Sean said, and I’m curious your thoughts on this too, is “No, no, no, that’s not the primary motive here. The primary motive is there are people who are only going to see things on Twitter, and literally stay on Twitter. That’s their home. So create content that’s native to that platform, because that’s where they are. And so what if it’s just a minute? That’s the minute that they will see and consume stuff that you’ve created elsewhere.”

Roberto Blake: So I’ll hit you with something you’re going to love. We need to stop worrying about how we’re going to extract value from the things that we create so much. If we really just stop thinking about how we’re going to extract every ounce of value from what we create, and we think a lot more about why this is valuable to somebody where they want to consume it, how they want to consume it… And that, okay, if we aren’t showing up there and accommodating them, someone else is. We’re leaving chips on the table. And if we just believe in the brand and the ecosystem… Sorry if you guys can hear a lawnmower or leaf blower out there.

Pat Flynn: No, it’s all good. I have that coming on Tuesdays for me, so I-

Roberto Blake: Yeah. So the main thing I would say is that we have to really come from this perspective of put the audience first, because then our actions are always going to be in serving the audience. And if our actions are always serving the audience, the thing is we’ll build the loyalty that’s deserving of having someone become a super fan. And so the thing is, I’m not as obsessed as I used to be as a marketer with tracking every inch of that data, every part of that journey or whatever. I’m much more concerned with building a brand. I’m much more concerned with… I’m jokingly telling everybody, “Just build a cult.” Just think about it. You don’t need to measure this. Just build something that is so thoughtful toward the person consuming it that they absolutely will devote loyalty to being a part of this community.

Roberto Blake: Just put community above everything else, and you’ll end up having a brand like Apple, where you literally have a diehard cult of followers, and anybody that’s outside of that’ll be a heretic. And that’s just primal branding 101. So essentially, I’m saying that I don’t really think we need to be measuring every inch of “Did this grow my YouTube channel? Did this grow my…” You can. And in the beginning, maybe a little bit of that in the beginning to reach certain unlocks, monetization, getting this thing, getting that thing. If there’s a personal milestone you want and need to hit, so be it if you want to track it for those purposes. But once all of that’s said and done, I just believe that you build the best brand that you’re capable of to represent you and your content, and you build the best community that people would love to be a part of and would fight to be a part of.

Pat Flynn: And we see this. I mean, I’m big in the Tesla community, and Tesla’s… Once a person has a Tesla of their own, or drives one, they tell everybody who they know about it. They invite them in the car and… And anybody who is shorting Tesla, or anybody who says anything negative about it, I mean, people without even asking are going to fight those people. And it’s almost like blasphemy for anybody to say anything negative. I mean, this is where the… We joke about it. “Oh, you’re an Apple fanboy,” or, “You’re a Tesla fanboy or fangirl.” Yeah, I kind of am, because I really believe in that brand and their mission, and they just injected themselves as a part of my life now.

Roberto Blake: I’ll go to war for Elon.

Pat Flynn: Yeah, right. And some people are going to disagree, and that’s okay too. You create your own community, and you create something people can get involved with. And when people get involved, they become invested. And when that happens… And the beauty of this, and I talk about this in my book Superfans, is people will grow your brand for you from the inside, and they’ll bring new people in. And that recommendation from somebody on the inside is going to be so much better than you going out and focusing so hard on search engine optimization, or paid traffic. And those things are good and still useful, but a recommendation from the inside goes much longer, I think.

Roberto Blake: I love what you had to say about that. I’m listening to Superfans for, I think, the fourth time this year, because I just keep getting inspired by it in notes and nuggets. And the thing that I think is really interesting about the creator economy is the 1,000 fans thesis means that if you build an ecosystem from a… Let’s talk about the business side path, like monetization. I genuinely believe people are very frustrated right now. We see what’s happening with the Great Resignation. We see all of these people leaving their jobs. The creator economy and the gig economy are parts of that. I’m not always sure that people are fully prepared for what solo entrepreneurship really looks like. It’s much more taxing than people think, and not just on the tech side, but mentally, physically exhausting.

Roberto Blake: And so one of the things that I’ve been thinking a lot about is… Well, a lot of people will neg on, “Oh, well this many people in it are the elite, and they’re millionaires, and everyone’s going to be PewDiePie or Mr. Beast or Lilly Singh or whatever.” I’m like, “Well, you don’t have to be successful in this.” And there’s also even this concept of how can you make a certain amount of money into it ethically, without exploiting people. And I’m like, “We live in an era where it’s never been easier to do that, to make millions upon millions of dollars.” And you don’t need to do that. You can make very good… What’s wrong with making $55,000 doing what you love? What’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with doing that? That’s modest, and it’s fine, and it’s completely reasonable now.

Roberto Blake: It may not have been 10, 15 years ago. For me, it’s frustrating to see people using the world that existed quite literally before the smartphone. The world that existed before the smartphone is not a good thesis for what’s possible today. It’s not even close. It’s not even relevant to bring up what the world was like 20 years ago. It’s not even relevant, on my opinion, to bring up what the world was like 10 years ago into the conversation of today. The technology and opportunities and culture is moving way too fast to justify that historical data being meaningful. It’s not meaningful. Today, we are watching 17-year-old kids with very little experience outside of being a digital native. Again, not just the ones that are being millionaires, Pat, but you’re seeing this yourself. You’re a parent. You’re seeing this.

Roberto Blake: It’s not just about the people who are the outliers who are making millionaires. It is becoming more normalized for a young person under 20 to be able to make tens of thousands of dollars a year doing something they like, and not working at McDonald’s. It is a very different world in terms of what the starting point for a young person to earn money is… Is radically different, and the ceiling is exponentially higher for what their earning capacity and earning cap is. The earning cap for somebody who’s 18 years old today… It’s not unreasonable that an 18-year-old person can make $50,000 instead of just doing an entry-level temp job, or fast food, or food services. It’s not absurd.

Roberto Blake: It’s not absurd, because we are in a shared economy as well, where people vote with their wallet. And you have the ability and accessibility, even at a young age, to build a fan base of loyal people who might have between 1,000 of them… Or be part of a community where you have people with disposable income, and you might be able to create value for them. And you might be able to be a good representative of a brand and its culture at this point. It’s not an unreasonable thing between 18 and 21 now to make a salary level that was reserved for somebody in their thirties. It’s just different.

Pat Flynn: It’s totally different. I mean, the American dream has changed completely. Although still, especially older generation, we still put that on our kids, or we imagine that nothing can be different. How would you describe the new American dream, based on this creator economy that we’re in and what you’re seeing with young kids making lots of money, and perhaps what their potential ceilings are and what their goals are?

Roberto Blake: I think lifestyle design can give somebody the ability to achieve their American dream. I mean, what used to be the time horizon for achieving the American dream? What was the time horizon?

Pat Flynn: I mean, it was a couple decades to get to the point where you have home with 2.5 kids and a white picket fence.

Roberto Blake: So 40 was the time horizon for that, right?

Pat Flynn: 40 from the time you start working to the point at which you retire and then can enjoy the fruits of your labor, yes.

Roberto Blake: Okay, so the thing is I don’t think that the American dream is dead in that regard. And I’m not just saying that because I just recently… Minus the wife and lovely kids that you have, I’ve now become a homeowner. I’ve achieved some semblance of that. I work for myself. I look at all those things. I look back, though… There was a knowledge gap, and there was also limitations in the technology of my time when I was 18, 19 20. The world was radically different. I’m 37, so you know that path. The world was radically different 20 years ago. Now I want you to imagine this new world, and imagine us at that age, starting as young adults now with the education that exists because of people like you and myself. The education that exists is radically different. The platforms and technologies now exist. If you roll back the clock, our potential and our timeline horizon, it would be radically different and much faster for us to arrive at the point that we are today at this age in our lives where we’re about to turn 40.

Roberto Blake: We would’ve arrived at this same stage in our lives probably a decade or more earlier, just because of the acceleration of what would’ve been available to us, and the fact that our early limitations in our career wouldn’t have existed. They just wouldn’t have. And the scale at which we could do things would’ve been exponentially faster and would’ve had a much higher ceiling cap. So I look at it today… I don’t really think that, for somebody who is thoughtful and intentional, that the American dream is dead. I think that if you are still playing in the old world by the old rules, you should feel like it’s dead, because I don’t think the path to that is traditional employment anymore. I’m not even convinced that it was back in those days, to be very real with you, outside of going into a very high-brow profession. I think that if you abandon the traditional model, you could have those traditional things faster at this point, just because the math, the mathematics supported a lot more quickly.

Roberto Blake: And by that, I mean this example, Pat. Realistically, if you’re not going to be a doctor, lawyer, engineer, I don’t know that you need to go into massive, massive student loan debt anymore and start your adult life in debt. I think that it’s not unreasonable between the ages of 18 and 25 to maybe, if you have a good relationship with your parents, stay at home, and you can work part-time to have reasonable stable cash flow, be a content creator, and also do some gig work and refine and learn your skills and learn your trade. You could even go to a trade school. You could do a number of things. You can learn online. You can pick up valuable future-proof skills: graphic design, copywriting, editing, social media management, marketing. Could become part of the community. You could end up working for somebody that’s an established entrepreneur.

Roberto Blake: You can refine your crafts and your abilities. And it’s not unreasonable that with what little money you think you’re earning in that situation during that entire time to save the majority, make a handshake deal with your parents, save the majority of it, go into a reasonable down payment on a home. Sure, not financial advice. Maybe it’s a higher interest rate, but you’re in a house. Now you’re not making somebody rich with rent at the beginning of your adult life, and you’re not squandering money on rent for the illusion of privacy, and partying, and doing things that may not even benefit you long-term. You could be intentional about your life early. Basically kind of get into what’s the FIRE movement. And you could do that as early as you want to, and you can do it doing things you like.

Roberto Blake: And it might be a season of hustle, and I know that’s unpopular now. Hustle is demonized now, but it’s a season of hustle that frees you from a lifetime of hardship very early on in your life, and allows you to establish a career on your own terms. Because where are the gatekeepers, if you go the route that I’m suggesting? And I’m not saying forgo education altogether, I’m saying forgo the debt. You could go to trade school. You could go to community college. You could put yourself in a position to where you stay in state longer, instead of going to a name brand school. What are you going to do, pay for a name brand? You could do the things to qualify for the grants. You could either work and earn the money out of pocket now in a reasonable way…

Roberto Blake: You do a couple years of community college. It offsets the cost. You graduate still from a four-year school, if you’re worried about that, to say you have the degree and you have the backup plan. That’s fine. But I’m saying give up the partying on the nights and weekends during that college experience to build something for yourself as your real plan A, or as your reasonable plan B. Does that make sense when I say it?

Pat Flynn: Yeah. No, it definitely makes sense. I’m curious to hear what the viewers and listeners think. This begs the question… You had brought up things being very different than when we were kids. When we grew up, the path was already sort of laid out for us. And in a way, that was actually a huge blessing, because we just had to follow that process. There was no need to discover who we were really yet. And that can often bring a lot of sometimes painful things, or hard moments in discovery. Mental health is a huge, important thing for me, and mental health awareness and foundations like NAMI and other things that I support. I think this conversation around… Okay, well for the young kids today especially, how do we encourage them to think for themselves, and find themselves, and who they are and determine their own path, versus… Again, it was kind of easy for us, because we just followed the path that was already laid out for us that everybody else was following. Thankfully, though, I got let go from that position in architecture to then sort of wake up or-

Roberto Blake: Same with me and marketing and design, yeah.

Pat Flynn: Yeah. So on one hand, I’m grateful because I followed this path and it took a tragic moment of getting laid off to then discover this. I don’t know if I would’ve been able to determine what I would’ve wanted to do when I was 18, for example. I don’t know if I am… I don’t know. Because I have two kids now, and they’re growing up in this economy.

Roberto Blake: Well, Pat, you did, though. Nobody told you and groomed you to be an architect. You had a passion for it on your own, and then you did the work to be good at it, and then you made it. You made a self-determination of what your career was going to be. Architect is not usually what I imagine is the traditional career that you saw your friends and family have. Am I wrong about that?

Pat Flynn: You’re not wrong about that, but it was up there. It was a higher-brow sort of position that came with a lot of authority, a lot of prestige. And I’m not going to lie, part of my decision to go down that route was because I thought that’s what would make my parents happy.

Roberto Blake: And that’s not an unreasonable thing to do. I think that we culturally already are at a place where people are moving much, much more away from a desire to acquiesce to social norms, social pressure, cultural pressures, and familiar pressures. So I believe there’s a massive culture shift that’s happened since we were adults, where there’s more of that spirit of independence. What I think is lacking, though, is the intentionality and self-awareness, which is why I love the philosophy of ikigai. You’re familiar with it, right?

Pat Flynn: Yeah. Ikigai, which is the combination of the things that you’re, for example, great at, the things you’re passionate about, things that lights you up. And there’s a great book that Chris Ducker recommended to me with the same name that I would highly recommend everybody pick up.

Roberto Blake: Yes, exactly. The framework in ikigai that we’re looking for here in terms of intersectionality is, to simplify it for the audience for anyone not familiar with it, is go ahead and draw yourself a plus sign. Go ahead and just draw yourself a plus sign, a cross, and just go into these four quadrants. And then think about what you’re passionate about, what you actually like and enjoy, what’s meaningful, what gets you excited, because you’re deriving energy from that. Then you need to look at where your skills, abilities, and aptitudes lie and what is easy for you to learn and grasp, because this is where your accomplishment and your acknowledgements lie. And this is where you’re going to derive confidence from, from a job well done. Now, you need to look at what pays well that is aligned with those things because you need to know that you’re going to have sustenance, you’re going to have the lifestyle that you want.

Roberto Blake: And you also should read the book Your Money or Your Life, and you should really think about what lifestyle it is that you want to have. Because Pat, the problem with the lack of intentionality is that people are taking on jobs… They know what lifestyle they want. They know what outcomes they want. Not the fantasies, not the Lambos, not the… But the realistic lifestyle they want. And they know that the job they’re working can’t provide that. They know the career path they’re on can’t provide that. They need to put those things into perspective and alignment. Of course someone in this situation will not be this successful, or will not be wealthy, or will not be rich, or will not retire at this age. Of course not, because that thing is not designed to produce that outcome.

Roberto Blake: So what is? What is designed to produce the outcome that you want that fits the things that give you energy and the things that make you feel accomplished and confident, that you have natural ability, or have the ability to learn at least, in terms of your aptitudes? And then there’s the final component. What is aligned with what will make the world a better place or aligned with what you believe makes the world a better place, and is not contributing to what you feel is harmful to the world? Because you could be very good at something that makes a lot of money, but if it’s not in alignment with your values, it’s going to be very hard for you no matter what to derive real satisfaction from that on a long enough timeline. A lot of people, they make a lot of money, but they don’t like what they’re doing, so it’s draining.

Roberto Blake: That’s where the burnout comes from. That’s where the “Ugh, hustle…” That’s where all that comes from, is, well, they’re blaming work and they’re blaming hustle. They’re blaming the culture. It’s a misalignment of your own innate passions, desires, the things that lift you up. You’re forgoing that because of money or because of a certain amount of money, when it’s not as if there’s no version of something that you don’t hate that makes money. It doesn’t have to be your number one passion. It can be number three, because maybe you don’t want to make money from your number one passion, because maybe it will be less fun and you’ll be less passionate about it if you tie an incentive to it. And maybe, even if you’re passionate about it, maybe you’re not good enough at it to make the money for the lifestyle that you want.

Roberto Blake: And so you have to do that. And then of course, you have to do something that you think makes the world better. It’s going to be very hard to sustain doing it otherwise one way or another. And you can’t do something you love that allows you to live in poverty, because then you’re going to have misery as a consequence. You’re going to resent those choices. That’s not reasonable or fair to ask someone to pay you very well for something you’re bad at. So again, we need this reasonable framework for understanding how we work and how that works with the world. And I think that if we normalize intentional thinking and intentional living with mental models like ikigai, you can get a lot more happiness from people. And I think there’s a lot of the creator economy that results in people stumbling into those things.

Pat Flynn: I agree. Ikigai, I-K-I-G-A-I, there is a book that has over, or nearly, 20,000 ratings: Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life. I highly recommended it. I’ve read it. Chris Ducker recommended to me, and that’ll be a great starting point for this. Now, to finish up our conversation, Roberto, I want to switch gears a little bit and I want to have some fun chatting with you about something that recently happened on YouTube. So about a week ago, a creator that many of us know, Mr. Beast, had published a video, and it was a video about Squid Game. Squid Game, probably the biggest phenomenon of 2021. It was a series on Netflix out of South Korea that was very popular. And you’ve probably, unless you were living on under a rock…

Roberto Blake: Massive, massive acclaim.

Pat Flynn: It was epic. I don’t know if you saw it.

Roberto Blake: I love crosstalk. I’ve seen the whole show. I’ve watched it multiple times. I’ve dissected it. I’ve commented on people’s videos about it. I’ve had spirited debates with people in Twitter about deeper meaning of the writing, regardless of what the commentary is, and I love what Mr. Beast did with it. I love what he did with it.

Pat Flynn: Yeah, he created a real-life version of the game, not where people… I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but nobody dies in Mr. Beast’s version of this.

Roberto Blake: Without spoilers, Squid Game is Battle Royale meets Saw.

Pat Flynn: There you go. I like that, I like that. But Mr. Beast came out with this video, and he basically broke the internet. There were over 100 million views in about four days with it.

Roberto Blake: Yeah. With about 80 hours, bumped his channel to achieving the most subscribers in a 30-day period that a channel has ever had, most views for a non-music video, non-movie trailer in a 24-hour period, 42 million views in 24 hours. I actually predicted that. I predicted 40 million to 50 million views in 24 hours. Paddy Galloway predicted exactly 42 million, so shout out to Paddy for that. But yeah, broke massive records.

Pat Flynn: Paddy has a amazing video dissecting how this video was performing so well, and certain things that Mr. Beast did. I’d love to chat about not necessarily the tactics that he used… We can watch that video from Paddy, because that’s really great at dissecting that. There was a number of different things that all YouTubers, all creators in fact, should pay attention to with how that was released and whatnot. But there was a very interesting article that came out I read that basically had the title… Perhaps you came across this, but it was essentially comparing the fact that Mr. Beast created this in three weeks or so, filming it and producing it, and it cost him over $3 million.

Roberto Blake: 3.5 million.

Pat Flynn: $3.5 million, and it saw more views than the actual Squid Game series, which was more expensive and took years to produce. Therefore, Mr. Beast was better, or something of that nature. But I’d love to discuss this, because in a way, Mr. Beast wouldn’t have been able to do that if it wasn’t for Squid Game. And what are we saying about creators? Are only the good creators creators that sort of trend jack? Is that what you have to do to have videos-

Roberto Blake: Trend jacking is… There’s nothing wrong with trend jacking, and traditional media has done trend jacking all the time. Traditional media has done trend jacking all the time. I find that a lot of times, the media doesn’t do fair commentary of YouTube and original creators, and ironically, it sticks up for its own, AKA establishment media. So again, this is advocacy in this case. I look at it as this is advocacy for, oh, all the… And hats off, by the way, to all the talented people who worked on this: the writers, the producers, the folks at Netflix, that greenlit it, absolutely. However, even with that, most media today… Look at Hollywood. Look at all of your favorite franchises. Most media is itself a regurgitation of what came before. Look at how many times the Spider-Man franchise has been rebooted. Think about that. Think about how many times the Superman franchise has been rebooted.

Roberto Blake: Almost all current works of media are derivative. And the thing is when many people who are trying to do, for example in media, inclusion and diversity, a lot of the criticism will come, “Well, why don’t you make an original character instead of changing something about an established IP, an established character?” So I can make the same… And level the same criticism of that. And they say, “Well, it’s because the original idea will not necessarily have the scale,” or, “It’s a risk to do that to have the scale of this and everything.” So traditional media defends its ability to do derivative work all the time. Reporters are basically essentially doing commentary. Commentary in and of itself is derivative and relies on fair use. It’s not original content. Op-ed is not original. It wouldn’t exist without the thing that it’s commentating on, so to speak.

Roberto Blake: So again, I’m not going so far as to aggressively call that hypocrisy, but I will say that they think that anything is tone deaf. They need to be reflective about… Well, you’re being very tone deaf in this sense that the nature of everything you do is to derivative as well. And so why not acknowledge that? At least be tongue-in-cheek enough to acknowledge that your own work is derivative as well. And even Squid Game arguably could be considered derivative, because remember, I was easily able to say Saw meets Battle Royale, and you immediately are like, “Oh, you’re right.” A lot of these things are derivative, but that doesn’t devalue them. I love Squid Game. I’m not devaluing it because it’s derivative. People thought Hunger Games was a rip off of Battle Royale. I defended that, because I said, “No, both of those original writers both were using the source material of the gladiatorial games, and their own references and language…”

Roberto Blake: I would say that Hunger Games leaned much more on the original source material of the gladiator games, since it named the continent Panem, and it’s a reference to bread and circuses. And a lot of the spectacle and thing was that was, again, about the coliseum gladiator games. So my issue that I take with the media criticism of content creators is it’s largely intellectually dishonest a lot of times, and divides people on their loyalties to brands and franchises. The concept of originality… Well, how original is something? Are we going to grade that? Or do we even care? Versus, why can’t we just enjoy things? Why can’t we just enjoy things? And why can’t we just look at what they did well? The other thing is I think the article called, in the title, Mr. Beast Squid Game a rip-off, and I think that’s disingenuous and unfair because they did a lot of things that the original did not do.

Roberto Blake: I can’t spoil a lot of that. They did a lot of things, and they did a lot of things radically differently. They also made it for an American audience. So what, is every localization of media a rip-off? Is every Bollywood title a rip-off? Is that not valid? And the thing is, I don’t think that that would be fair. American soap operas, they borrow from telenovelas. Are they ripping it off, or are they inspired? At what point do we get to say… Has everybody who’s ever made a laser sword stealing from Star Wars or Gundam? What is allowed to claim the title of originality? And does it even matter at this point, if the audience is there for it?

Pat Flynn: Thank you for that, I mean, really colorful commentary on that, for sure. I want to talk now about the creator, him or herself, understanding whether or not reacting to things is good enough to be content for their audience, because we’re starting to see… I mean, Mr. Beast has his own reacts channel. There’s a lot of people who a majority of their content is just literally watching another video, and then commenting on it. I’ve been noticing a lot of people… I’m a big Harry Mack fan. Harry Mack is a rapper who can just fly things off the top of his head like it’s nothing. And there’s been all these channels, musicians and rap coaches and stuff, who just watch Harry Mack now for their content. And I think it’s really smart, because you are taking advantage of the fact that, well, there’s a trend of people watching Harry Mack, and there is value there.

Pat Flynn: They are sharing now their own side of the story, and maybe even pulling things out that I didn’t even notice, because they’re the experts on something. So I do appreciate that, but at the same time, there’s other people who are now getting into creation who are just like, “All I’m going to do is jack other people’s stuff,” essentially.

Roberto Blake: But they don’t criticize their own peers, or they don’t criticize the people they like that do it. These same people won’t criticize one of my formerly favorite YouTube channels, Wisecrack. They won’t criticize Wisecrack for doing its breakdown and analysis of Rick and Morty, or its breakdown of Squid Game or any of those things, when it’s literally the same situation of “Well, your thing can’t exist without the previous thing.” So they’re not going to break down the ones that they like. They’re not going to break down the commentary and news channels that react to social events, not the ones that they’re aligned with. They’ll break down the ones they disagree with. So again, the criticism is not balanced, and it’s not intellectually honest, in my opinion, because again, you’re also ignoring the fandom. You’re ignoring the fandom, and you’re saying they’re wrong to reward this. Well, who are you to say what’s right for a community and for an audience that you’re not a part of?

Roberto Blake: I think that’s tone deaf. You want to throw the word tone deaf out. And again, I know I’m being slightly aggressive on this, but I’m genuinely invested and passionate about this, because I think it disrespects the communities that are saying there’s a demand for this, because I respect markets. I respect markets, and I respect that the consumer gets to decide. Consumers get to drive culture. Consumers get to decide what products get to stay and which ones go. They get to decide that with creators. They get to decide, and it’s not for the elite media to say… They have the opportunity to gatekeep all they want. This is democracy. This is democratized. This belongs to the community. This belongs to the people. They got to decide, and they get to have their platforms, and they get to gatekeep, so I don’t think they get to dunk on us for what we want to watch.

Pat Flynn: And the people will vote with their views, with their likes, and the ability to have then algorithms showcase the great things that those fan bases do love, and kind of bury everything else. So I think I’m in agreement. And the reason I’m bringing this up is because many people who are listening may be encouraged to create videos that are similar, and I want to encourage you to do that. I want to do more of that as well, because number one, A, I forget that people actually value my opinion inside on things, number one. Number two, it allows us to have discussions like this, where we can go deeper and learn from each other at the same time. And number three, it also, in a way, honors that original content, because this is good enough to talk about even further, and of course always giving credit to where credit is due.

Roberto Blake: And it introduces it to an audience who would not care otherwise.

Pat Flynn: Exactly, 100%. I mean, always just make sure you give credit to the original as much as you can.

Roberto Blake: That’s all you have to really do at the end of the day. And that’s reasonable, that’s fair, that’s respectful, and that’s the way it’s always been, is just give credit where credit’s due. And the thing is that’s been done. And between you and me, I can tell you that this is not something you get to do at this level of this scale without a organization like Netflix giving their blessing, or saying, “We’re not going to interfere with you doing it.” I think it’s disingenuous to suggest that Mr. Beast, Jimmy, is not thoughtful enough to have done that outreach. I can talk to you about this, but I’ll just say publicly I cannot confirm or deny that I have knowledge of that conversation. I think it would be remiss of somebody reporting on this to suggest that this thing is not something that a creator would be thoughtful enough to look into, and that a company as big as Netflix wouldn’t be aware of this thing that was publicly announced and going on, and would’ve made their position and view on it, at least behind the scenes, clear as to whether…

Roberto Blake: Red light, green light. Pun intended there for Squid Game, red light, green light on this. I think that the narrative and framing there, I would challenge the intellectual honesty of that, of “Oh, do you really think that they are turning down this level of publicity? You can’t pay for this level of publicity. And oh, by the way, you’ve just made the publicity more valuable by writing this.”

Pat Flynn: I remember reading that in South Korea, they were featuring Mr. Beast’s video on the news because of-

Roberto Blake: Favorably.

Pat Flynn: Favorably. Yeah, exactly, exactly. And I just love that, where we can all sort of… As long as credit is to where credit is due… And Mr. Beast did a great job of always talking about how he was inspired, and wanted to give credit to the writers and the actors, directors there.

Roberto Blake: And how cool it was. And again, was massively thoughtful, was very, I think… I understand some of the sensitivity and how triggering… And again, no spoilers here, because there’s a lot of people who haven’t watched it, but the nature of Squid Game and the desperation of the contestants is triggering for some people. Mr. Beast turned something like that into something very lighthearted where nobody loses. Which I don’t think the argument of saying, “Oh, Mr. Beast is tone deaf to take an anti-capitalist thing and then make it the most capitalist thing ever…” Well, no. Literally, that’s actually the point, is taking a situation where people are hopeless and in despair, and then making something good and lighthearted and encouraging and inspiring people and doing good in their lives is what everyone should do. Everyone should do that. Everyone should sit there and say, “Gee, wow, that’s a really crappy story about communism or socialism or whatever regime and stuff like that.”

Roberto Blake: Boy, wouldn’t it be thoughtful if somebody internalized that, and instead of being negative, said, “I’m going to take what I learned from that or watching that experience, and I’m going to do something good for people”? Just because the version of how they do something good for people is not necessarily the one you agree with… Which is really weird to me. How is it they’re dunking on him for giving away money? I’ve never understood the criticism of giving away money. It makes no sense to me. That seems very counterintuitive in the dynamic that we’re talking about. I think it’s safe to say that they’re determined to find a way to find a way to be negative. And I’ve always respected Jimmy, because he always finds a way to be positive, and show that positivity can still win in social media, when even me… I’ve become cynical enough to doubt that sometimes. Jimmy Donaldson gives me hope.

Pat Flynn: I was also on a tear the other day, watching all the other behind-the-scenes videos that other creators made who were a part of that. I thought that was also genius of Mr. Beast, was to invite other people who were also creators, to then allow them to share their behind-the-scenes experience. Some of them got to participate, and we got different angles, and just the story continues. This one video has turned… Oh, it’s not stopping yet, and here we are talking about it now.

Roberto Blake: It’s making some people’s whole careers. So it’s not even just the participants that have benefited. And now it’s building out whole new communities, other people who talk about movies and film. There are now channels catered to talking about Squid Game, and not just about Squid Game the original, but also talking about Mr. Beast, and these other channels, and the cultural phenomenon. This is good for everybody. For some people, I think Squid Game is now going to become what Game of Thrones was culturally, in terms of its relevancy. They’re going to do another season. That’s already a foregone conclusion. They’ve announced it and everything. There’s going to be people making content about this, dissecting it, the mystery boxes, the puzzle, the aesthetic. Even on my lo-fi music channel, Pat, I have released a Squid Game cover for the song Pink Soldier. And I think this weekend, we’re dropping an hour-long version of it.

Pat Flynn: Well, send me a link to that. I want to hear it. My Halloween costume was one of the troopers with the triangle on his face.

Roberto Blake: Yeah, the pink soldiers, yeah.

Pat Flynn: And it came November 1st, so I wasn’t able to wear it. So this is good news, because I can maybe wear it next year.

Roberto Blake: Yeah, absolutely. Or again, you can just get in on some memes. You can just make some memes, dude.

Pat Flynn: Oh, totally. I should. I have this Pokemon channel. I could probably combine the two in some way, shape, or form. I’ll figure that out. Anyway, Roberto, this has been a fantastic conversation. Thank you for diving deep with me here. I always love your philosophy on things, and just your nature of just allowing all of us to understand that we have within us the power to determine what our own path is, and to use our own creative elements to be able to do that. So I appreciate you. Where can people go to check out what you have going on this year? And again, thanks for starting off this year for us with a bang.

Roberto Blake: Not a problem, Pat. Thank you just so much for having me. I’m always happy to talk to you anytime I can, and I can’t wait to have you over on my channel. Speaking of which, all of you can find me in social media at Roberto Blake, and you can also find me on YouTube at That is the number 2. And it’s always a pleasure, Pat. Thank you so much again for having me.

Pat Flynn: Thank you, man. Appreciate you. All right, I hope you enjoyed that conversation with Roberto Blake. A great way to start the year, some really interesting conversations. We have, like I said earlier, a huge lineup for you this year, some big names, and we have some fun things going on in the SPI brand that I cannot wait to share with you as well. In the meantime, make sure that if you haven’t done so already, hit that subscribe button so that you can get more content coming your way. It’s all free. It’s all here to help you on your entrepreneurial journey, and really excited for seeing what we can do to help serve you this year.

Pat Flynn: Thank you again, so much, and we’ll see you in the next one. Peace out, and as always, team Flynn for the win. Thanks for listening to the Smart Passive Income Podcast at I’m your host, Pat Flynn. Our senior producer is Sara Jane Hess, our series producer is David Grabowski, and our executive producer is Matt Gartland. Sound editing by Duncan Brown. The Smart Passive Income Podcast is a production of SPI Media. We’ll catch you in the next session.

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