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SPI 751: Matt and Pat Talk about the Future of SPI

At SPI, we want to build products and experiences that help you on your business journey.

For today’s episode, I hit record on the kind of conversation SPI CEO Matt Gartland and I have all the time: where we think the industry is going in the next few years and what we’re doing about it.

Join in on a behind-the-scenes look at the future of our business!

We discuss the beginnings of our partnership and how the ideas we had back in 2017 are coming to fruition. But this isn’t 2017 anymore. Things have changed, and we’re skating to where the puck will be in the future.

As you know, our focus is on community. Listen in to hear how our 10x move on that front — the EIR program — is about to expand!

Also, toward the end of our chat, I convince Matt to share our master plan for something never before seen in the small business space. If we pull this off, it’ll change everything. Tune in to find out more!

Today’s Guest

Matt Gartland

Matt is a 5x startup founder/co-founder with three meaningful exits to date. Today, Matt serves as CEO of SPI Media, a venture he co-founded with good friend Pat Flynn to take the SPI business to the next level. His entrepreneurial career spans digital media, ecommerce, and the creator economy. Beyond his own ventures, Matt is an advisor to and/or angel investor in such tech companies as Circle, Karat, Maven, and Supercast.

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SPI 751: Matt and Pat Talk about the Future of SPI

Matt Gartland: We will build into our EIR network so that, at the end of next year, we will have fifteen experts inside our community. I don’t know of anyone else that’s building into this, at least not with our vision and our deliberateness. And then our members, they can tap into that expertise when they need it. They’re in this community with us.

And when you need to think about business development, I can ask Terry a question. Or if I need to think about PR, I can ask Jason a question. We’re recruiting small business lawyers, experts in copywriting, in different aspects of finance. And those are just some nods to the future.

Pat Flynn: There’s a lot of different kinds of content that we have here on the Smart Passive Income Podcast, right? We have interviews with, I would say a lister guests, if you will. You know, the top tier industry leaders and those kinds of things. And oftentimes, we invite people who nobody’s ever heard of before, but they have a very relatable story, right?

Their success story is similar to the one that you will eventually potentially have. And those are really great, and those are very popular. But another popular type of show that we have here are the behind the scenes episodes where we have somebody on the team or I share some of the goings ons within the SPI company or some of the other things I have going on, I’ve talked a lot about in the past year, the Deep Pocket Monster YouTube channel, which is approaching one million subscribers This year, we should hit it pretty soon this year, which is pretty incredible.

But I wanna bring somebody on the show today who’s gonna help me unlock for you a lot of what’s happening behind the scenes at SPI. And there’s nobody who I know who could do this best than Matt Gartland, our CEO, CEO of SPI Media. And if you’re like, Pat, I thought you were the CEO. No. That’s not true.

You might not remember, but there was an episode where we brought Matt on. We talked about how we merged companies. He had brought him and his team over to SPI, and I started working with them. I had originally been working with them as an agency. And then the team has been fully on board since then.

And then soon after that, Matt stepped into more of a CEO role because he is definitely more of that type of person, somebody who can see the business in a way that is beyond the way that I can see it. Very much an operator, but even more than that, somebody with with strategic and financial planning capabilities. And I do have those capabilities, but this is what Matt has come on to master and bring to SPI. And he’s created so many things. And I can just do more of this, being on the microphone, building relationships, being on camera, etcetera.

So it’s it’s It’s been a really perfect one two punch here. And I wanted to bring Matt on today to share a lot of the future of SPI and where we’re going and why. And I’ve talked about this before, skating to where the puck is going, right? This is a Wayne Gretzky quote, I think.

You don’t wanna skate to where the puck is. You You wanna go to where the puck is going. I don’t know if that’s the exact quote, but hopefully, that analogy makes sense. So we wanna plan for our future, and we wanna lead by example with where we think not just the industry is headed, but just where the world is headed, the idea of community. But even beyond that, how do you enhance a community that you already have?

We wanted to talk more about and get into the details of the EIR program. And even beyond that, one or two years down the road, What are some things that SPI might be able to offer you that aren’t even on the road map or well, now are on the road map, but have not even been shared yet? So we’re gonna go behind the scenes. We got Matt Gartland on today, and we’re just gonna go back and forth, tag team on the idea of, well, what’s happening at SPI? What is the EIR program?

How did that begin, and where is it going? Listen in. This is gonna be a lot of fun, and I hope it provides some inspiration for you. And whether you become a part of our community or not, hopefully, it gives you inspiration to think bigger. This is our 10 x move here in 2023 and 2024 to help and serve more people and ultimately help our business grow.

So here it is.

Announcer: You’re listening to the Smart Passive Income Podcast, a proud member of the Entrepreneur Podcast Network, a show that’s all about working hard now, so you can sit back and reap the benefits later. And now your host, he thought Febreze was actually called Free Breeze for over ten years of his life. Pat Flynn.

Pat Flynn: Matt, back on the podcast. Welcome back, my friend.

Matt Gartland: Here we go. It’s awesome to be back. Thanks, Pat.

Pat Flynn: And this will be a fun one because we’re gonna do a little time traveling, and you know me with time travel.

And now that we’re going into our forty ones, we just turned forty last year, and now we’re gonna turn forty one in December. We have a lot to think about for the future. But in order to do that, we kinda need to go back into the past a little bit. And I thought it’d be fun to sort of give people an overview of of really the high level picture of the different adjustments we’ve made over time as a company and when you even came on board and kind of the shift from online courses to what is now known as the EIR program. And if you haven’t heard about that, you’re gonna be introduced to it today and and all what this is because this is a part of a a master plan, if you will, that that we have for the future.

So let’s go back to 2017. 2017 was a big year for SPI. I mean, we could go back further, obviously. I mean, it started in o eight with blogging and just affiliate marketing and niche sites and stuff. But we’re going into when we first finally started creating our own products.

Right, so 2017 online courses. And, Matt, your involvement with that was essentially helping me produce them because you weren’t a CEO of the company or you were just an agency that I hired to help me with that. I actually would love your perspective to see it from where I was, you know, somebody who had been doing everything for free, not ever selling anything, to now being asked to help produce, like, one of our first sets of courses. Like, what was that like for you, and and what was going through your head at the time?

Matt Gartland: Even in the industry, it was a really exciting time. Right? So we were working on breakthrough blogging, which was the very first SPI course that even predated the launch of Smart from Scratch on Teachable. Smart from Scratch was the first Teachable course. And in those days with winning edits, my creative agency at the time, our creative studio, We had a lot of business from our clients that were really interested in online courses.

So we were working with a number of of different what we would now call creators, you know, so different personalities and folks with a teachable skill, you know, that wanted to diversify their business in this way. So we were doing everything kinda top the bottom in terms of the strategy, helping with the vision, helping to give it shape around the curriculum. And then as we did with you and others for the SPI courses, you know, within absolutely be a part of the production process. And it was the heyday of this stuff. The barriers to entry were higher.

Right? Like anything in any sort of an industry or or a moment in time. There’s always a first movers advantage. Right? If you can get out there, especially in certain teachable domain areas like podcasting or email marketing or some of these other defined areas.

Right? And as a credit to you and others and just even now, You know, our whole team, like, our ability to move into those spaces, take some risks even if you wanna think about that way, you can kinda capitalize on that, and and we did that. So So it worked really well, but those are moments in time. And I don’t mean to jump forward in the time machine already, but, yeah, you you have to be conscious of how interest patterns in terms of the the consumers change, the barriers to entry fall down.

So we’re not living in the 2017 anymore. It was a very different thing.

Pat Flynn: We’re definitely not. And, you know, there there were a lot of macroeconomic things that have happened between then and now, as well as just shifts in markets of what people backed out of things and creators and educators online. You know?

So 2017 came smart from scratch and PowerUp Podcasting was launched, and we had this really good. I mean, literally, a multimillion dollar online course business. Then the pandemic came. And at this point, we had maybe six or seven, maybe even eight online courses at the time with email marketing, webinars, affiliate marketing. You know, we were kind of running the gamut as far as, well, what does a person learning entrepreneurship need.

Let me create the course for that. And and, you know, the winning edits team and your team has helped so much with that. Eventually, Matt and I combined forces, and it just made sense for us. We’re not gonna go deep into the partnership and of all all the things that happened then, but, you know, I essentially acquired Matt’s team, and that makes up the bulk of the team that is now team SPI. And that that was awesome.

So was that move from your perspective a part of a big grand master plan? Like, where did that origin story happened for the the merge, if you will from your perspective?

Matt Gartland: It’s an incredibly exciting and sort of profound sort of time stamp right in this DeLorean journey that we’re on. And it actually does come before the pandemic. So, yeah, I think it’s maybe important to kinda stick on it for a second, which was connecting to courses.

It might have been 2015. We started working on the courses, got some out in sixteen, kinda grew, especially through seventeen, And we did really well, but, you know, we started to then hit headwinds, you know, in terms of the market as were others. So thinking about how important, you know, courses and course based revenue, you know, was to the SPI business at that time. Me seeing that across other clients that we had through the Creative Studio at that time was sort of part of, though not exclusively everything in terms of a new vision that was beginning to emerge. Right?

And that vision was joining forces and being something better together than we were apart. Because other aspects of that vision, at least from my standpoint, I was about seven years into that journey with that that company. And in the in the services space that’s kind of a long time depending on how you wanna measure it. Right? We’d done well and grown a lot, but I was thinking expansively.

And you personally and the SPI brand had always been one of our most beloved clients to be able to work with. We had become fast friends. We were already kind of business partners trading business ideas and advice, you know, back and forth already, right, even before we kinda tied the knot, so to speak. So this was even before the pandemic. We were seeing some headwinds with core sales, and I just cared so much about the SPI brand and the community and all the students and everything.

So it was like, okay, what if we evolved? What if we turned into the same thing? What if we could rethink and and reimagine a learning experience, right for the SPI audience and started to take advantage of some of the newer things we were starting to get some feelers for, right, in the industry around what is community. Back then, not not well defined.

Largely, it was Facebook groups was sort of the predominant idea of, like, what a community was. So that was kind of the bigger vision was, like, you and me together better together, join forces. Let’s go big something bigger, a bigger legacy project continuing to serve in the same way that we always had. Yeah. But do that in terms of a a unified force.

So that was, yeah, merging together at ultimately, at the end of 2018.

Pat Flynn: And I think the word avengers in our lexicon started to come out around that time. The idea that it’s okay not just about Pat Flynn anymore. It’s the whole company. Everybody on the team being able to, in a way, affect a person’s life on the other end to serve the audience, whether it’s somebody like you who is showing up on podcast every once in a while or now with the involvement of community and and evolution into that, people who have stepped up to be the face of certain parts of the community as well, even more than than me.

And that’s been really amazing because it’s allowed us to scale and grow and serve more people and serve them more deeply because what’s the opposite? The opposite would have been, okay, we just keep you supporting the visions that I have, but I’m still very much the person on the front that’s doing everything as far as all the interactions, all the creating, all everything. And it was just either burnout or take this risk. And it didn’t feel too risky because we had been working together for a long time, and and I trusted you and you trusted me. And what’s been really nice is we’ve been able to continue to expand those visions over time together.

We we we often have conversations, and sometimes, Matt, you come to San Diego, and we take walks along a lake and talk big vision and and future and what what we want our lives to look like, and and those often merge into conversations about, okay. Well, what does that mean for now for us? What what decisions can we make that are bold, that can help us get there? Because, You know, we wanna take that ten x mentality, not just kind of do more of what we’re already doing, but how can we think differently? How can we approach things differently?

And to fast forward to kind of the launch of SPI Pro in 2020, which was big. I mean, this is after the pandemic happened, and we really wanted to still continue to find ways to serve the audience. At this time, we had learned that online courses were probably not gonna be the way to best do that over time. And already, we were starting to see a little bit of a lack of energy from students who went into those courses. We still had higher success rates compared to others in the space.

But even then, it was not going the direction we wanted it to, so we had to make some changes. And, Matt, I gotta give credit to where credit is due. This was largely due in part to a lot of the 4D chess that you were playing in your mind with how to move things around and get the right people involved. What was the origin of or how did you strategize for the next three to five years when the pandemic happened to to get to where we’re at now?

Matt Gartland: Again, it was actually about just a pinch before the pandemic officially started.

So this was the very transformational year of 2019.

Pat Flynn: FlynnCon year.

Matt Gartland: This was the year that FlynnCon right in the middle of the year. It was both an exciting year and a hard as get out year on a lot of levels. Right?

Because we were officially together. We were evolving and putting to practice a lot of the the visions and the concepts that we had more like on paper, making some mistakes along the way, but but learning a lot in adapting as well. And where I think the rubber really started to meet the road was connecting together the assets of the company. Right? So you take the courses, you take the audience channels, the podcasting, And you think about how you can, like, evolve and almost repackage and kind of, you know, reconnect them in different ways.

And one of the very first things, I even put this text message picture on a slide, you know, with the team the other week in New Orleans on our off-site events was, you know, being able to think about turning into a more subscription based company where we could be more invested into the relationships at a more deeper level with our students and eventually what we would now think of it as our members, be able to reinvest, you know, ourselves at an energy level as well as our financial resources back into the company if we had a more subscription based approach to the market in terms of how we operate, which we didn’t have back then, like, not even close. Not at all. So I had texted Ankur, the the founder of Teachable where we sold our courses of like, hey. Like, do you have anything close to a capability where we could start to do this? And they kinda had some workaround solutions, but they really didn’t have an engine for that.

Right? But it fit into this diagram model 4D chess sort of, you know, note card approach that I’m classically known for doing of, like, pulling in different concepts that were, at the time, pretty sticky. So you think about, like, meetup.Com for, like, organizing community based events, like, in your local community. You would take exclusive discounts maybe through, like, a product hunts sort of the exclusive wing of of their business. So I was calling together, like, comparable thoughts from different parts of, like, the Internet industry So what could be unique and different for us with the center point being sort of a reimagination of how we can deploy our courses and build more interactive learning around that.

We now think about that as community, you know, fast forwarding to today. And there certainly were membership based offers and programs and even technologies out there, but not so much like in a deliberate learning ecosystem. Right? That was kind of the jumping off point for us. So we were, To our credit, your credit, the team’s credit, like, we were willing to kinda take a bet on that in 2019 and begin to put the tracks in place for that.

So we were working on this BI Pro in the latter half of 2019, especially after FlynnCon happened in the summer well before the pandemic hit. So and sometimes in business, like, a little bit of luck helps. So we got a little bit lucky that we were already front running into this before the pandemic hit. And then when it did hit, right, in early 2020, Then we had to jump start on this. We were already working on it and then we launched it in the summer of 2020.

Pat Flynn: Yeah. The launch in the middle of summer of 2020 performed very well. Over five hundred students came in to basically vote and say, this is what we need. This is what we want. We even ran a survey when we launched SPI Pro, which again is for people who were established business owners, right? So not even a majority of our audience, but just a segment that we knew we could talk to and connect with and see if we could provide value to. We ran a survey for those incoming members who basically told us that they didn’t want more content. Right? They wanted connection.

They wanted networks. They wanted masterminds. They wanted collaborations and those kinds of things. And those things have been happening and still continue to happen. And many of our founding members are still completely active.

Most, in fact, are are completely active in showing up and now even helping some of the newer members that are coming in. And this was, like, phase one of what SPI Pro is gonna be, you know, this community approach. And it really just validated that this is what people wanted. Right? It was It was the stuff that was happening at FlynnCon between all the talks, between all the content that was now able to be accessible online, especially during the pandemic.

So, again, even though the pandemic was terrible and it kind of shut the world down, it definitely helped us fast forward our way to building this and create something that people saw immediate value from because they needed it. I mean, they they were craving it at that point. So that was amazing. And, you know, there were a lot of team members involved that were hired to specifically put this into place. So like Matt said, this this was a big bet.

You know? Because in a way, we could have just continued to do what we were doing. We could have continued to sell just online courses like we were at four hundred to six hundred dollars per course. And when a person purchases those courses, they just kind of they’re on their own. And they did work, but they were dwindling like we said, but we could maybe hire better copywriters.

Maybe we can start running ads and sell more into that because we know it worked. But, no, we decided to go a completely different route and change our business model. And now it’s changed pretty much entirely because our products are no longer courses. Our product is community and community powered courses. The courses are still available and accessible to people in the All Access Pass, which was sort of like phase two, I guess.

And then phase three is sort of we’re in now in this grand master plan. Was it always the master plan for you, Matt, being the more strategic person, the person who can see and have visions five, ten years into the future. Was it your plan when SPI Pro is being formed that the All Access Pass would be phase two in the EIR program, which is now being released as a part of phase three. Was that in your vision back then?

Matt Gartland: I I’d say yes, but loosely.

Right? So when we talk about vision, like, there is there is a direction. Right? Like, you have a bearing. Like, you know, kind of where you want to go and and make some bigger bets in a direction as as we did, largely brand new, largely turning the ship in a very different direction.

Right? But as you approach it, you adjust your course a little bit. You’re still generally heading in the same direction. Right? And then the fidelity of that vision comes into more vivid ness, I would say, like, higher fidelity.

As you learn more, you get feedback from customers and members. The ideas get refined a little bit. Everything just gets that much sharper. So, you know, with, I guess, the foreshadowing of EIR, Right? That does even hearken back to you mentioned a moment ago, like, the avenger sort of reference rate that I pitched to the team at the end of 2018, you know, when we were joining forces, which was to say that a part of being better together wasn’t just Matt plus Pat.

You know? It was the team. And, yeah, even in context of, yeah, broader five, ten years strategic thinking for not even just our company, but almost any company, that largely, it’s a safer and smarter strategic bet not to be indexing entirely on one person because on any one person in any one company, then you create a single point of failure. If that person burns out, if if something happens on in that person’s life, there is when you do a proper SWOT analysis for any business or any company, Right. That would register as a threat, you know, on the t in SWOT right? So being able to think about diversification of a business, being able to think about how you’re adding greater levels of differentiation into a brand and into a business, which is really the essence of what good strategy is, is differentiation. Right. Like, we can be better together if we involve and elevate and basically build our own Avenger team. Now that notion, that vision for that did evolve over time, and the best station of it is not what we have today with EIR, and I know that we’ll stick on that topic by itself in in just a moment.

But yeah. So that was always there and it evolved. Same thing with All Access Pass. Honestly, All Access Pass was the first idea. That was that was the notion that I was texting on core about in 2019, which was to say, could we create a subscription based product that was incorporating of our eight, nine, ten courses?

You know, it had a lightweight community offer, but was a little more content focus first, right, by way of the courses. Now I think we did it right. Got maybe a slight happy accident on some of us. Again, luck plays into it sometimes where we ended up leading with a better bet a better thesis that you’ve already described, right?

Which is like, you know what? Especially going into the early stages of the pandemic community, which is to say a private network, not public network, not social media. People are increasingly tiring of social media in different respects. I don’t think social media ever, like, goes away. But in terms of just anxiety levels and other things that are happening in the social media landscape, not to unpack that may be too far.

But It’s like people want more private connections, safer places, deeper levels of dialogue, more personal connection. These are private incubated facilitated spaces. Right? That’s not what social media is. Not to me.

So that was the bet we ended up adjusting into for the launch of pro, which ended up being, yeah, phase one of our sort of community approach. And then we brought phase two online later, which was what we eventually then labeled All Access Pass. And, Jill, our community director gets credit on the team for helping me refine that part of the vision and coming up with the notion of pathways. So actual scripted learning journeys through our curriculum. So, again, this is where, like, refinement over time brings a bold vision into a sharper focus and makes it that much more exciting to implement.

Pat Flynn: And shout out to Ashley as well who we brought on board specifically to help with the All Access Pass, and it’s been incredible with the accelerators. And just The feedback from the students has been absolutely amazing, and it’s just so I mean, there was a lot of risk. There was a lot of anxiety from everybody, including you and me on the team, when we made this bet and when we were putting this together, and we’re so grateful that we did do the research and we did do the work, and and we we invested into our people, and and it’s definitely paying off now. I think there was another luck related issue to this, which was the timing of a platform called Circle that just so happened to come out right around the time that we wanted to do this and was basically the solution that we were looking for now. It wasn’t a perfect solution, and nothing is ever a perfect solution, and there’s always improvements that can be made.

But it definitely allowed us to have that community first, community centric approach to what SPI was becoming versus, like, what would have been a teachable and course first approach with a lightweight community on the side. So focus on community first that happens to also get access to our courses so that it just doesn’t become more food added to the buffet, if you will, which is we’re all in overwhelm right now and so bloated with content. The community needed to be first, and I’m so glad it was. You know, I’m probably guessing that Superfans and the success and the response to my book Superfans was a part of our conscious and or subconscious reasoning for going down this route as well, but it’s definitely where we believe the future is is for all of us as community, right?

Because information’s getting that much more just accessible and and free and even, you know, with AI coming, it’s the human elements and the communities that you create are gonna really stand out for your brand. So we we do like to take what we call spicy opinions or or strong takes on things. And and one of mine is if you don’t have a community in your brand, no matter what niche you’re in no matter the size of it. If you don’t start thinking about not just you talking to them and them talking to you, but them talking to each other, having a space for them to find each each other, you don’t do that, you’re you’re going to lose eventually.

Like, pretty soon here, I think. You have to be focusing on ways to bring your community together because that’s going to be your defence across all these things that are working against us as creators right now. That that’s a spicy take that I have with regards to community. Are there any Spicy takes that you have in in this world, Matt?

Matt Gartland: Several. We can add a couple of peppers here, right, and kinda level it up.

Pat Flynn: Yeah. Ghost peppers, cayenne.

Matt Gartland: Yeah. To kinda stitch together a couple of these things as a very spicy opinion.

I, I have real concern for some of my friends or our friends together that we know or just others out there that are continuing to try to build their brands around a personality, like a singular individual. Right? And it’s not meant to, like, knock any one person. But to think about, again, the viability and the long term sustainability of a company online as any number of dynamics are changing online regarding, say, AI’s impact on SEO and search in the future, like, what search is gonna hold for online businesses like ours in terms of, you know, what team building and how important team building is to the success of of an entrepreneur to think about how people wanna connect with the person. Right?

You know, so something that we have to double tap or double click on that, you know, with you in particular, Pat, right, for SPI. So very deliberately build other access points, not just to you, but to other people, like to me, to members of the team, and now to the EIRs to enrich this ecosystem, you know, that we have built so that it’s not just indexed on you. You said that not all that pressure is on you. So that should something happen, not that we want anything to happen to you, but, like like, again, there’s a very thoughtful strategic, both offense and defensive plan here.

So, again, the spicy opinion is that those that are only building around themselves, you know, it works. And I’m not saying it doesn’t work, but the load is different. The risk is, I think, higher. And over time, is that something that is sustainable in five years or or even ten? Right?

Or will they need to potentially adapt as well? So something to to potentially think about. The the second or, I guess, maybe now third even spicy takes that I’ve already started to register is, You know, not necessarily anti social media per se, but is, again, the notion that private networks, I think, are more of the future. Right? And that overlaps with, you know, community.

It is being able to build and facilitate, and and facilitation being such a critical business skill more than ever. Not just content creation, not the content generation, Right? But facilitation, communication, being able to read a room, being able to lead people, being able to lead a team. Right? Being able to deal with conflict in private settings.

Right? You know, because when you put a lot of people together in private spaces that are debating really good ideas, sometimes they aren’t always aligned. Right? And that’s sometimes even the beauty of it. So it’s a whole different or it’s a very expansive and therefore different skill set that I thing online entrepreneurs are going to and already are kinda come into exposure with and, like, the need to explore and develop and practice all in service of members and all inside private networks.

And, again, I think private networks are one of the the most amazing and defensible assets, you know, that an online business owner can potentially build right now, which overlaps with your point just around, you know, community building.

Pat Flynn: Yeah. I We can go on and on with where we think the industry is headed, but let’s talk about what we are doing about it right now. And we’d mentioned the EIR program. I’d love for you, Matt, to define this for us and give us a little story about where it came from.

I obviously know and I know where it’s going, and I’m so cited, but you were the mastermind behind this. So I’d love to to hear your thoughts on the EIR program when what it is exactly.

Matt Gartland: The embers of it, again, existed in the the very first take, the very first version of joining forces at the end of 2018 and thinking about more distinct and amazing talent, right, that we could bring into the fold of SPI in service of the people that we have the honor of serving, the audience members are now especially our community. Where business is hard. It’s multidimensional.

It’s not just audience building. It’s not just about marketing or even very specific aspects of marketing, like podcasting or email marketing. To be successful and successful for the long term to be healthy and sustainable, you have to think about operations and finance. You have to think about sales and business development. There’s an array in a complementary nature to these skills that, Pat, by yourself, you don’t possess.

I don’t possess myself. Right? So we need to think or at least that was the vision was to how do we bring the right talent that can bring a fuller picture of the entrepreneurial skills and experience, you know, to the table and be able to expose, again, our audience members, you know, to that, to for their benefit. So it has evolved a little bit over time, but that’s not what EIR is. So EIR stands for experts in residence, and we have recruited and will continue to recruit amazing, bona fide, tremendously well established business professionals from with different backgrounds, diverse perspectives, interesting opinions into our community to live out and manifest that vision.

And we are thrilled to share and announce that our two Founding EIRs, in addition to you and me, are Terry Rice and Jason Pfeiffer. Jason Pfeiffer is the editor in chief of Entrepreneur Magazine. Terry Rice is a business development expert, also contributor to Entrepreneur Magazine. They’re amazing individuals. We have a lot of shared values, but they have a lot of distinct opinions and and distinct skills.

We will continue to build into our private network of experts, our EIR network, which lives inside SPI Pro to be specific next year so that at the end of next year, we will have fifteen fifteen, one five, experts inside our community as a part of this network. And that includes, again, you, me, and then community director Jillian as a part of that fifteen. I don’t know of anyone else that’s building into this, at least with our vision and our deliberateness to sort of a three sixty view on what it’s what’s required to be really successful as an entrepreneur. And then our members, they can tap into that expertise when they need it. Right?

It’s not meant to be a forced function of, like, obligation or create overwhelm, but, oh my gosh. I to learn from all fifteen people, you know, while we’re at that scale. It’s more like they’re in the room. They’re in the private space. They’re in this community with us.

And when you need to think about business development, I can ask Terry a question, or I can go through some experience that Terry is facilitating exclusively within SPI Pro. Right? Or if I need to think about PR, which Jason is an expert in. Right? Maybe that’s a a part of an expansion play for my brand.

Well, I can ask Jason a question, or I can go through an experience, maybe an accelerator that Jason might offer inside SPI Pro. And those are just examples. We’re recruiting small business lawyers. We’re recruiting experts in copywriting. You know, we’re recruiting experts in different aspects of finance, and those, again, are just some some nods to the future.

Pat Flynn: Yeah. So imagine if you are an SPI Pro member, many of you listening to this are already, but, you know, even if you’re not, let’s say, for example, that you are gonna be adding a coaching element to your business. Right? You offer digital products and you wanna offer some one on one for a larger price point.

Well, instead of either waiting for me to reply to something and by the way, I don’t do a ton of coaching, so that is actually not my expertise. Terry is. He is somebody who can serve you with that. He has those systems. He knows how to sell and how to get more clients, how to keep clients, how to coach properly.

And a lot of the things that he’ll be offering in there will be related to that amongst several other things that he’s an expert in as well. But that’s just, like, a very specific example of how powerful this will be, and already it is, because we’re gonna have a lot of different people who are gonna be there to serve you. And This is different than just having a expert come in to create a course that then lives in SPI Pro. There may be a day where some of these people create courses that then the pro members get access to, but that’s not what it’s about. Again, community led.

These amazing people are coming in to show up and to be there and to be a part of the community. The play from a business standpoint, from our perspective, is and again, I love that you’ve heard me say this before, everybody. It’s like, I love it when we can create things where it’s a win for everybody. And For us at SPI, this is a way for us to not just tap into amazing intelligence that’s out there and and feature these creators and build relationships with them at the same time and share them with you. But this allows SPI Pro to grow because many of them are gonna also be promoting SPI Pro because that’s where you can get access to them, and that’s what their community wants from them.

The thing is, many of these creators and business owners have an audience, but they don’t have a community. We are experts at having community and building that community and managing that community. So hey, Terry. Hey, Jason. Let us host the community that your people wanna join.

They can join forces with our community. And you just come in here, and we’ll altogether work on it. And, of course, there’s business deals and structures related to that with these creators. So there is been a lot of paperwork and lawyers getting involved just to make sure things are squared away and everybody’s happy and everybody’s getting what they deserve as a result of this, but, I mean, this is big time. This is like, oh, woah.

This isn’t this is definitely not about Pat anymore. Right? Pat’s still here, and I’m also grateful that I am now officially in EIR instead of the program as well because this will actually give me more structure around when to show up, and and that helps me just stay more on top of being involved in the community. And for a while, it was occasional here and there kind of thing. And I I’d still show up and answer questions, but this is like you’ll see me regularly in there, and you’ll see Terry and Jason and Matt and Jill and the other people coming down the road.

And I think this is gonna provide more options for people to find what part of SPI inspires you most. Right? This is what we’re trying to train our students on, which is, here’s a resource. You don’t have to and shouldn’t watch every video, read everything, come to every event. Go to the things that matter to where you are going. And now we’re gonna have more resources to support you, more people, personalities, and expertise to support you with where you are going, more options, more choose your own adventure from this opportunity, which I love. And this is a stark difference compared to, here’s a course about affiliate marketing. Like, everybody on the list look at it, take it, get in there now.

It’s the one and only thing we’re promoting right now. But but then the next month, we’re promoting this one, and then it’s an additional several hundred dollars. Right? And then the other thing that’s great about this and, you know, talk about adjusting to the market. You know, the market was not wanting to spend that much money with us anymore with those one off courses.

So now the ability to get into SPI Pro and have access to something like this, the barrier to entry is much lower. You get access to more things. You get access to more people and community and support in a safe space. And once you finish with one course in the All Access Pass, you can move on to the next thing. Because if you’re in Pro, you also get access to the All Access Pass, by the way.

Anyway, this has just got me really excited for the future because I’m imagining down the road, there could be Live events where the speakers on stage are the EIRs, and you’re learning from your experts. So you’re getting to know them in person. You’re you’re getting to hang out with them in in person, Just like we’re we’re gonna do online anyways. So anyway, Matt, what’s on your mind now? Because we’re here.

We’ve launched the EIR program, and then we’re gonna grow into that even more in 2024. Yeah.

Matt Gartland: Experiences is the is the most important thing. You know, it’s continually not about, like, the content. Jason Terry, future EIRs won’t be creating courses, you know, in that kinda traditional definition of courses.

Right? It’s about coming in and doing programming. Live experiences, asynchronous experiences, but emphasis on experiences, learning experiences that you can show up to when you need them. You know, if it makes sense for you right now in the phase of life and phase of business, you know, that you’re in, and we get to evolve together. So we are deliberately building, and Terry and Jason and future areas will have a voice in this as well, which is a whole other kind of layer to this, which is for us, they are sort of a built in advisory council, right, to to thinking about and further informing on the business that I’m driving it or that, you know, and that we are still, you know, a part of.

You know, we have a very clear and very vivid vision, but, again, this is steering, not aiming. You know, we we need to kinda course run and adjust along the way. We have the direction that we’re going, but we desperately want, you know, desperately because we want to stay in tune with the market from different aspects and sides of the market. You know, the folks that Terry and Jason and others will, as you mentioned, you know, invite into enriches and diversifies our community of members. So we should listen and have those voices in the mix for sure.

Right? And it’s, again, all experiential in nature. It plays into number two, our competitive advantage. You know, talking again about When you think very critically top down with business vision and business strategy, how are you different? How are you expanding your quote unquote moat. Or moats, plural.

How do you stack that together to insulate your business from risk and from threats, both in external threats and internal threats, marketplace threats and other forms of threats? Right? And I know that’s, like, I don’t know, maybe scary language, but it’s it’s like MBA level business stuff. Right? It’s like it’s how you should think, quite frankly.

So, you you know, these folks are coming into our community exclusively. As you even teed up, Pat, part of our thesis, which is starting to play out pretty well, is that a A lot of people want community of a certain caliber, but community is hard. It’s not passive. It’s exciting, but it’s challenging. So if you have a certain type of person with certain type of background and it makes sense to kind of fit into our model, then, like, we can be your community, essentially.

So, like, SPI is now Terry’s community and is Jason’s community and then future folks. Right? And we’re in it together. Right? And it’s all serendipitous, and it all works.

Number three, the paperwork side. You are thrilled to not be involved in that side of it, Pat. Yeah. Thank

Pat Flynn: you so much. Oh my gosh.

Matt Gartland: This is big leagues business development. I mean, I pitched Jason on this vision when we were walking around Brooklyn together in the spring. Right? And he got really excited, and it’s Certainly refined a little bit since then, but then you gotta be deliberate with getting the paperwork right. We go through a deliberate process.

It’s not that convoluted, but it does take time. So, yeah, it’s just all to convey if maybe if anything, just how devoted and committed we are to this vision and its value potential for our members and what this means for not just the future of, like, SPI and our brand, but ultimately, what it means for our members’ businesses, because it’s not just learning of one independent skill, right, like email marketing. It’s about how you think about incubating and accelerating the growth of your business, right, in a safe place. And you can come into our ecosystem, And you can learn from Pat. You can learn from Matt.

You can learn from our team. You can learn from our EIRs. You can have, you know, a you know, any number of different experiences that you can choose to go through when it’s right for you so that your entire business can grow in a lot of different ways. And you know that you can come to essentially one place. You can come to the SPI system that we’re building.

Pat Flynn: Yeah, man. It’s so exciting. And these are these are big business moves. I mean, just I and SPI have come a long way since the OG just blogging and niche sites and just kind of, like, me doing my own thing. These are big moves so that we can help more people and get more people involved.

And I’m just so grateful that we’re taking these bold actions because with bold actions and, you know, a little bit more risk come bigger results, and that’s really exciting. So what might we be able to, as we finish up here, Matt, tease or share about the future of SPI and where we’re going and some of the things that we hope to do and or accomplish even beyond the roster of EIRs that we hope to bring on board next year.

Matt Gartland: The first thing that deserves a ton of emphasis is more diversity in the EIRs themselves in that network as well as the sorts of entrepreneurs that we will have, hopefully, you know, the privilege of serving. On the EIR themselves, I wanna acknowledge upfront that we have four guys, you know, that are founding it, and we don’t have women. We have though a very deliberate and named road map of amazing female entrepreneurs and founders that we will be recruiting in.

We also care a ton about racial and ethnic diversity. So we want to build and and have every intention of building ton of real bonafide diversity, see, you know, into the EIR network and to have that be represented in any number of ways, you know, across our membership as well. And then that gets into another really critical dimension of diversity, which are just the types of businesses that our members are running. You know, this isn’t only about those that are building creator based businesses and identifying them. Obviously, we love creators, and we are ourselves in a big way creators, and and we have a special place in that in that marketplace.

But freelancers, coaches, independent business owners with mom and pop local businesses, coffee shop owners, people that have flower shops even, folks that do DTC retail or different forms of retail. So we’re a place where we can serve because the principles are often the same, you know, in terms of how you cultivate a marketplace position, in terms of how you differentiation into your business model and your brand in terms of how you serve your customers and try to foster repeat customers, whether they be subscription based or not. There’s so many transportable business skills, right, that we can serve that aren’t just like creators or freelancers or or just one thing. We are here to serve entrepreneurs in their many wide array and beautiful variants. And I think that’s an important part of just this expansive vision that we have and that we’re going after.

Pat Flynn: Could we get into a little bit of the three to five year plan vision that we have and some of the maybe keywords that might peak interest. We don’t have to get into detail, but I like Alright. Again, I just wanna represent for everybody out there how big we’re thinking because we definitely want to not just continue to expand this mode that we have in the space that we’re in and do things differently because I think we can. We have the team. We have the resources to do this, and it’s happening.

Just, again, a little bit of a more to paint the picture of of some of the.

Matt Gartland: You’re twisting my arm. I’m I’m happy to take the twist. Okay. So the three to five year vision in terms of some other vocabulary to get really fun with this is to create what I don’t genuinely think exists in our side of the Internet, you know, like, our corner of the market, which is a a bona fide incubator of small businesses, online entrepreneurial based businesses. That term, if it resonates at all to anyone listening, certainly is well established in the tech community.

There are tremendously successful and well established organizations like Techstars and Y Combinator that have really proven in concept, like, the value of these forms of organizations, right, for an addressable market. Now their addressable market certainly are tech founders. We have a a few tech founders in our midst, and we would never turn them away. But it’s predominantly not the sort of entrepreneur, you know, we serve. Some are, again, in the mix, But I wouldn’t call it, like, the average.

The average, again, are fantastically beautiful array of founder led, founder funded, bootstrapped, sometimes largely service based businesses, and I love service based businesses, at least often starting with a with a service based approach. Right? So, again, coaches, freelancers, artists, designers, you know, developers that are maybe building technology, but they have service based businesses themselves. Folks that are running lawn care companies that maybe wanna be just better with their digital marketing, right?

I mean, so many things are kind of service in nature. And And there isn’t really an option for them that is as inclusive, as comprehensive, as committed to their long term growth as these forms of organizations exist, like, in the tech world. Right? You know, this notion of an incubator. Along with those things come other forms of resources.

At least, again, if you benchmark like I have against those organizations where it’s not just content, nor is it just even access to experts. You know, there are financial resources. There are other forms of professional resources that get offered and brought to bear inside those private incubators, which is very attractive to me and and the team in terms of what we would want to build into in our own unique way and aligned to small business owners and entrepreneurs, you know, in our midst. So this is the next three to five years. It’s as you’ve said, Pat, you know, I can’t imagine being more different than how this thing got started back in 2008.

Right? Right. So it’s a it’s a legit business business and not to, I guess, have that maybe come across in a way that I don’t intend it. Anyone doing a small business is is beautiful. We just feel compelled to serve and level up in this way.

We’re fortunate to have an opportunity to do that based on where we are and the resources we have, including a lot of just amazing relationships to leverage. I would even say as maybe a bit of a spicy take on this is, like, shame on us if we don’t. We have a responsibility. Right? Sort of a classic Peter Parker Spider Man sort of reference.

Right? With great power comes great responsibility. Like, I I feel like we have this power. And if we don’t freaking do it, like, shame on us if we don’t, honestly.

Pat Flynn: Yeah. Seriously, that’s that’s how I feel too. And what I love about the incubator model is it’s not just about potentially financial help if a company might need that. It’s the resources, the support, the guidance, the mentoring that can happen in in that regard, which is so needed. And I think a more direct opportunity to help companies in that way in these industries that you just talked about is just so exciting to me to to have an even bigger role and the opportunity to help them. And then, Matt, you and I have been doing a lot of advisory as we work for a lot of companies and co advising together, which is great.

We we often when we are approached by or approach other companies with the opportunity to advise formerly a company. Matt and Pat are often a a package deal that we offer because we just have such complimentary skills that can support a company on their way up. And we’ve been supporting a lot of companies. I mean, Circle’s been a really amazing success story lately, but then we’re working with several others, Supercast and Hey Summit as well as Podcast Talk. I mean, we could go down the line.

But, anyway, just Just a shout out to to those companies. If any of you are listening to both of us today, I know you might be curious because you’re hearing from advisers of your company. Just we care for you. We’re we’re grateful. We wanna do more of that in the future as well, which is really exciting.

Matt Gartland: And even to bend that back, if I may, quickly Yeah. Right to the the theme and the story of all of this in terms of the time travel and, you know, where we’ve been in the past and very much now blasting forward into the future. We are privileged to be able to tie in for everyone’s greater benefit. I guess Circles may be the most notable example, right, in terms of the advisory that we have done with them from the very beginning. I was in New York with Sid, Andy, and Rudy four weeks before the world shutdown back in 2020.

And then I said to them back then, I and I was even drawing things in the way that I do on a whiteboard in the room, but I wanna get to the point, guys, where I can say that my business runs on Circle the same way that so many amazing DTC retail brands say that my business runs on Shopify. Right? And they’re they’re been building and getting closer and closer and closer, you know, to that big idea. And then we can turn that around, and we can teach on that. We can make that approachable to our members and to our students.

We can try to find deals, you know, when they make sense to from time to time. I do think that we continue to kinda operate through that very classic kind of Pat Flynn motif from however early on it was, which is like the crash test dummy of, you know, online business. Like, we’re still, I think, doing a lot of that, making mistakes, again, as we go, But trying to play that forward, right, and be able to bring in the right partners in the right way and and speak from a genuine place of authenticity where we use this stuff ourselves and just have that be an opportunity for everybody.

Pat Flynn: For sure. I’ve been really grateful to see people respond to the way that we’ve done things and say, oh, can you teach me how you’re doing that?

You know, we’re often used as an example in instead of the circle community as a community that’s doing it right, and and that just feels really good and again, further validates the direction that we have been going and the direction that we are going. And just we wanted to share some thoughts here at the end of the year and and kind of Allow us to time stamp this moment before the next time we get together, Matt, in a show like this where we can talk about where we’ve come since today. So I think it’s gonna be really amazing, and I’m just grateful to have you as a friend and a partner. And just we got a lot more fun things in line for us and and the team as well. Shout out to the team and all the hard work that they’ve been doing.

This every everybody deserves credit for what we’ve been able to build here, including you, the listener. I mean, you’ve helped us get here. Some of you have been fans of SPI since 2008. Some of you have just found us. But the company has definitely grown up, But we don’t want to just continue doing what we were doing because it once worked.

What got us here won’t get us there, and we have some big goals for you as well that we’re gonna take you along the ride for. So Any final parting words, Matt, before we finish up?

Matt Gartland: Just to echo a lot of them. Appreciate you, buddy. It’s been amazing.

You’ve been so receptive to an evolving vision, you know, from me, not exclusively, but it’s my job now to to lead on a lot of that for us to get the other, you know, bigger names in the mix and to to continue to expand in that way. And maybe for folks listening, right, that all are also observant of just others in the space. It’s not to be expected always that someone in your position is open minded and receptive to evolving away, potentially, right, from sort of What might be labeled as, like, an ego position or something? Like, you’ve never had that, which is what’s always made our friendship and our partnership really sing and be special. For For everyone listening, like, Pat’s not going anywhere.

It’s just, like, again, a very intentional and a very exciting expansion and diversification, right, of the value and the perspectives and the opinions that we can incorporate into the mix with this bigger swing in service of everybody else. So, yeah, I think we’re all on this journey together, and and we always wanna continue to hear and receive feedback, what we can do better along the way now that more of this division is out there. So if anyone’s listening and they wanna share, you know, we’re here for it.

Pat Flynn: Yeah. To wrap up, I think When I started this journey as an entrepreneur teaching the stuff, it was never about look at me.

It was look at all the things I’m doing and and, like, learn from it. Look at all the stuff that I’m I’m trying, crushed us dummy wise, like you said. But now it’s not even just that. It’s look at all of us and all the things we’re trying and doing. And with that, there’s more opportunity to help more people.

And with the EIR program, getting more experts involved over time and diversifying that, it’s just gonna be a beautiful thing in 2024. So thank you all for being a part of the ride. Head on over to SPIPro.Com if you wanna check out the EIRs learn more about them and and join, and I highly recommend you do because we’re here to serve you as you can tell, and you can come along the ride with us. So Thank you, Matt. Appreciate you.

Matt Gartland: Love it. Awesome. Thanks for having me back, Pat.

Pat Flynn: Alright. I hope you enjoyed that conversation with our CEO of SPI Media, Matt Gartland, and it’s always just a pleasure to talk business with him.

We have these kinds of conversations all the time, but it’s really fun to have the microphones turned on and the recording button on to be able to share a lot of this stuff with you. And like we shared at the end there, we have some big things planned to help and serve you, and I cannot wait for that. So, Anyway, thank you so much for joining in and listening in today. I hope this was potentially even eye opening for you. When I think about where I started back in two thousand eight and two thousand nine.

I would have never dreamt to get to this point, to have a business with eleven employees, somebody else coming on as CEO to help run the company so I can focus more on the things that I love most, which is connecting with you and focusing on the relationship building with other industry leaders and, of course, getting behind the microphone, learning how to tell better stories. It’s been amazing. I mean, I’m just I I feel really, really great here at the beginning of the year and with where things are headed, and I’m looking forward to taking you along the ride as we go along. So make sure you hit subscribe if you haven’t already. And if you haven’t done so, please check out SPI Pro.

That is where the EIR or Experts in Residence program is held, And Jason and Terry have been doing an incredible job there. We have more people coming. We have a whole line of people who are experts in their own right, who are gonna be sharing and providing value to those members there. And remember, SPI Pros for those who have kind of established business already, who who wanna talk strategy, who want to scale up the business they already have. If you are just getting started, I’d recommend joining the All Access Pass where you can get access to all of our courses.

But beyond that, it’s the community, my team to help guide you, the accelerators, etcetera. We have whatever you need for community, we are here for you. So definitely check it out on the page. Appreciate you for listening in. Hit that subscribe button, and I’ll see you soon. Cheers.

Thank you so much for listening to the Smart Passive Income podcast at SmartPassiveIncome.com. I’m your host, Pat Flynn. Sound editing by Duncan Brown. Our senior producer is David Grabowski, and our executive producer is Matt Gartland. The Smart Passive Income Podcast is a production of SPI Media, and a proud member of the Entrepreneur Podcast Network. Catch you next week!


Smart Passive Income Podcast

with Pat Flynn

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