The uncharted waters of online communities have claimed many a landlubber. But, with the right step-by-step plan, we can weather any storm. So how do we set sail in the right direction? (Fair warning: lots of ocean metaphors ahead.)
In this episode, Warren Carlyle shares the 7 C's of building a fanatical community. He is a strategist who has helped thousands of individuals build highly engaged followings. Warren is also the man behind OctoNation, a massive community that inspires wonder of the ocean by educating the world about octopuses!
So how do you find your sea legs and start growing a community around your passion, even if you're not a subject-matter expert?
Warren shares his treasure trove with us today. He and host Jillian discuss everything from finding a perfect audience to community monetization, content creation, time management, team building, and much more.
You'll also be swimming in octopus fun facts after listening in on this incredible conversation. So join us to stop treading water and start creating and managing a profitable membership today!
Warren K. Carlyle IV
As the Co-Founder of Profitable Community Academy, Warren Carlyle is a professional online community strategist who works with purpose-driven brands and influencers to build highly engaged online communities. He's an international speaker who has consulted and taught for Meta/Facebook as well as guided thousands of individuals through his 7 C's of building a fanatical online community.
He is also Executive Director and Founder of OctoNation® The Largest Octopus Fan Club, a nonprofit organization that inspires wonder of the ocean by educating the world about octopuses. With nearly one million members and hundreds of millions of views on his content, he knows how to grab the attention of the right people, making him a valuable asset to impact driven marketing teams or small business looking to grow their brand’s affinity and profit.
- Join the Profitable Community Academy and OctoNation
- Connect with OctoNation on Instagram
In This Episode
- Universalizing knowledge for a broad group of people
- How Warren built OctoNation and became the PR agent for the octopus
- The 7 C's of building a fanatical community
- Finding your why, niching down, and creating a sense of belonging
- How Warren sold $10K worth of octopus stickers in one day
- Time management strategies for community builders
- Why media training has become mandatory for online entrepreneurs
- Discovering your unique passion and creating a community around it
- Why vanity URLs are a life-saver for profitable communities
- The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery [Amazon affiliate link]
- Connect with @TeamSPI on Twitter
The CX 076: Warren Carlyle’s Thriving OctoNation and the 7 C’s
Warren Carlyle: I'm a curator. I facilitate. And if you're out there, don't think that you need to be front facing. You can have just as much of an impact being behind the scenes and curating programming and being like, "You know what? I want this to exist and nobody's doing it." I have no reason to be the owner of one of the largest oceanic nonprofits most engaged on social media. If you look at my background, I'm a classical saxophone performance major. Take the pressure off of yoursel. If you are wanting to facilitate and curate, then curate conversations with professionals.
Jillian Benbow: Well, hello and welcome to this episode of the Community Experience Podcast. I am your hostess with the mostest, Jillian Benbow. Today I am talking to the just absolutely lovely Warren K. Carlyle IV. It's a mouthful, but yes, it's worth it. We are talking all things community with a twist. We are also talking about octopuses because he founded and is the executive director of OctoNation - The Largest Octopus Fan Club! And if you're not a fan of octopuses now, you will be at the end of this. But we get into, and yes, pun intended, the seven C's of building online community. He is a community strategist, but also runs a community that really proves, he walks the walk. So this is a freaking amazing episode. We are very chatty. I hope you stay till the end because at the very end, there's actually really great tip. So that's your hint. All right, I hope you enjoy this episode.
Jillian Benbow: Okay. Welcome. We are in the episode. I'm so excited because we're about to talk about low key, a very interesting topic in my opinion that most people are like, "What?" But I'm with someone who agrees with me. So Warren Carlyle, community strategist and octopus enthusiast, welcome to the Community Experience.
Warren Carlyle: Hello, hello. Can't wait to talk about all things octopus.
Jillian Benbow: I know.
Warren Carlyle: In community.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. I mean, they go together. No one can see this, but before we started recording, Warren showed me the room he's in and there's just octopus plushies everywhere.
Warren Carlyle: Hundreds.
Jillian Benbow: So I think there's a merch delivery. It's pretty exciting. I think I would have a lot of fun rolling around on those octopuses, which is probably not their intended purpose, but they're super cute. So yeah, welcome to the show. Why don't you let our audience know just who are you and tell us your kind of your community story?
Warren Carlyle: Sure. So I'm Warren Carlyle. My title now is a community building strategist, primarily online. And I got my start actually working, I always say I got my start because I'm the middle child of seven kids. Yeah, I always felt like my whole entire life I was universalizing knowledge between my older brother and my younger sibling. And when my mom came home, I would always make sure, I'm like, "Hey, did you do your homework? Hey, did you vacuum the floor?" What emotional state does mom needs to be in so that we can get what we need to get? Or we can go to the movies or something. And I found out that that helps me later on in life when it came to communities and really kind of universalizing knowledge for a broader group of people. So I ended up... It's so weird because I have such a weird story where I majored in classical saxophone performance. My mom got cancer in 2011, she passed away. And I was at this point in my life where I was just like, I don't want to live here anymore.
I went to Barnes & Noble one day, opened up all these magazines and was just like, what do I want to do? What do I want to be? I remember being like, I want to move to New York. I got on Instagram and I started reaching out to... And you'll see this throughout the call, that I'm highly strategic when I want something. I'm like, "Okay, well then how would you do that step by step?" So I was like, I want to move to New York and I want to be an intern for a celebrity fashion photographer.
So I got all these magazines and I started looking up in the magazines who were the photographers, and focused the ones on New York. And I would reach out to them on Instagram and I'd say, "Hey, I'd love to be an intern for you. What does that process look like?" And ended up landing an internship. After about four or five months of working with him, he actually made me his studio manager, which I felt like was just meant I had to do everything for him. I did logistics, I booked the shoots, I worked with brands, I looked at brand guidelines. I made sure that everything was okay.
During that timeframe of working with all those companies and those brands and those influencers, I was like, this is all really cool, but I don't care about fashion. I kind of want to revisit a love of mine, which ever since I was seven, I've been obsessed with the octopus. I saw one for the first time and went to the library, and there were no books on them. I was just like, this is crazy that they have to be alien. Because if there are no books on them, then that means no one's figured them out yet. It wasn't until 2015, still in New York, still doing all that, that I read the book The Soul of an Octopus, and she was like, "You're probably wondering why there's no books on this creature." And I was like, "Yeah, I am actually." She was like, "They've been misrepresented throughout history. They've been shown in Hollywood videos as this weird, complex, slimy creature. And they've just never had a good PR agent."
I remember thinking at that moment, "Oh, this is my gig. This is totally what I was meant to do. I'm going to be the PR agent for the octopus and tell the story of the octopus in a way that is going to change the way people look at the octopus and care about the ocean." So in 2015, I started OctoNation - The Largest Octopus Fan Club! And very similar to what I was doing in New York with fashion companies and influencer marketing, my influencers looked differently. They were anybody that had a commitment to people learning about the octopus. So academics, there were underwater photographers, there were people that had octopus tattoos, there were artists, enthusiasts. I just connected with all of them and came up with programming and interviews and fun activities, and grew OctoNation. So that's kind of how we started and how I kind of morphed into this. But yeah, open for all the questions because I'm sure you have tons.
Jillian Benbow: A zillion. I'm going to try to stay with the conversation, but before I ask a community follow-up question, I have to ask an octopus question.
Warren Carlyle: Yes.
Jillian Benbow: So you mentioned they must be aliens. And I'm curious what you think about that theory, that they are aliens because their blood is allegedly totally unique.
Warren Carlyle: So I'm one of the most woo-woo, but also very practical people you'll ever meet in your life, which is a strange combination.
Jillian Benbow: I actually totally get it. Yeah.
Warren Carlyle: I still believe. You know what I mean? Although I have all of these scientist friends now that are just like, "No, they're not extraterrestrial." They're actually super from this planet. They've been on this planet for hundreds of millions of years. We've just come a long time after them, and so we're not as evolved from the standpoint of octopuses have been evolving on this planet for hundreds of millions of years where we have not. So they have all these really unique things that allow them to be masters of whatever environment they find themselves in. And it works out for them as a result of them surviving through mass extinctions and still being here. So yeah. But I still believe in aliens totally.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. I kind of think it's a fun, like add that to your life bingo card. It's like, and also, aliens have been here the whole time, they're just in the ocean. But what a fun plot twist it was actually.
Warren Carlyle: The more you learn about them, the more you start thinking they've got to be aliens. There's got to have been something that's gone on. I mean, they're so different. But in a lot of the ways, I mean I've, through OctoNation, tried to make them as relatable as possible because I feel like humans, they want to figure out, how does that relate to me though? So we do our best to try to figure out how to take this very complex creature and make it very approachable and fun like a squishy puppy dog.
Jillian Benbow: I mean, I do want to be friends with them, although they're like, "Nope." But yeah, I like this theory of, low key they've actually been running the world and we just think we are. And they're like, "Ha ha ha." So to get back to what you're saying about community though, one, I love that you're just the quintessential goal getter, a go-getter. It's like you see the thing and you're like, "Okay, let me make this work," which of course is great for community. So you built up this entire community and kind of was like, "Oh, they need a PR person? That's me checking in," and created this whole thing around it, which is fantastic. Something we wanted to talk about is just the idea of as someone who helps other people create community, strategizes community and building and growth and all of that, you really walk the walk because you have a community that you created and grew and has turned into this big thing. So talk to me a little bit about how you started getting into the community strategy side of things.
Warren Carlyle: So through OctoNation, I started thinking, I'm like, I wonder if the concepts or the principles that come into play when it comes to building community are applicable to other people. So I started helping my friends, who are artists, build communities. I started helping small businesses that I was passionate about. I started giving them tips and advice on how to do things. And I started to find out that while I was doing this for OctoNation, a lot of what I was doing could be broken down into a system.
I worked with a lot of mentors to perfect that system over the time, but what I realized was that it's really platform-agnostic when it comes to building community. You just have to really think of what are those core principles that people need to know about in a community that allow it to be easily repeatable, people can talk about it, they're very clear who the community is for, who it's not for, and it's fun to talk about. You're almost enthusiastic to kind of bring up a resource for people. Because I feel like people want to help people with the best resource possible, but we as community leaders have to give them the words that they would use to talk about us and not just make the assumption that they're going to come up with the best marketing language. We kind of have to take the reins on that as leaders and be like, "Okay, what can we confidently manufacture out of somebody's mouth when it comes to talking about our community?"
I feel like the reason I say manufacturers is because when I was in the fashion industry, it seemed like everything was made up. I mean, you had cloth, and this cloth was $600 and this cloth was $20, and there was no difference in the cloth. So I felt like everything's made up. So if we're going to create a community around something and put our stake in the ground and say this is what we're rallying around, the clearer we can make that, the more easy it's going to be for people to understand that, "Oh, this community's for me. I understand why I'm here, and I understand the benefit of staying and contributing." And it takes a little bit of work, but yeah.
Jillian Benbow: I'm curious, especially because you mentioned artists and helping artists create community, what those communities look like. Because I know that's often, people are like, "Oh..." You know? I'm sure you know. Right now everyone's like, 'A community, I need to launch it." And then the actual why and who it's for gets a little muddled beyond like, "I should launch a community." So I'm curious how you had those conversations with people in something that's fairly niche. How did you create community around a specific artist or an art type?
Warren Carlyle: It's this whole entire methodology I come back to, which is called The 7 C's of Building a Fanatical Community. And in the first C, it's clarity. Oftentimes this is not a sexy thing to talk about. When I look at people that I've worked with and I look at ads and things like that, people are really caught up with vanity metrics.
When I say vanity metrics, I say, how many followers do you have? Or how many likes did this get? And I don't care about any of those things. I really care more or less about the engagement from a comment standpoint. Are people really getting what you're saying? So within clarity, you have the community vision and the community mission. Something like OctoNation, our mission is to inspire wonder of the ocean by educating the world about octopuses. And our vision is to be a global leader in wildlife education, research, and conservation.
So when I look at that and I have that basis as clarity, then I can move into something like my core values. What is the brand? What is the tonality of our brand? We're really easy to understand. We're fun. I always say that when you read our posts, I want you to almost feel as if, even if you didn't know anything about the octopus, that you could confidently walk away from reading one of our posts and say, "Hey, I learned something today and I know it's kind of weird, but I'm really psyched up about it. I want to tell you about it." And that we're giving them the facts and the information to talk about it.
So with anybody that I work with, like I just recently worked with this couple and they were called Broadway Husbands. They recently had a child out of surrogacy, and they live in Houston, Texas. They said that every single time they were walking around the store with their new baby, people would approach them and they'd say things like, "Where's the mom?" and things like that. They said, "We really feel like there should be a community here." So when I was looking at helping them ideate this community, I was like, "Okay, well, we need some clarity around this. What are you really looking to do?" And after talking to them, it became very clear that they were trying to provide an accurate representation of life at home for gay fathers or gay dads and that they had this vision where any guy who was gay could see himself having a child and be in a healthy loving environment. So when you pair those two things together, all of a sudden you're very clear with how to move forward. Then you can get into kind of core values and then you can get into content.
But oftentimes, I feel people skip over the reason why they're even there in the first place and they go straight into content creation because that's fun. You feel like you're doing something. But I always say every single time you post something online, you're serving to either strengthen the affinity that you have with your community or you're diluting your brand, you're diluting your community. It's becoming increasingly unclear why everybody's here. Right? So when we first started with them and they started creating videos about just life at home as a gay father and buying products as a gay father, how is it different? And they found themselves blow up on YouTube. I think they had over three million views once they were clear on really what they were going after. If you look up on YouTube, I think they start every video out with like, "Hi husbands." It calls out to them or an aspirational husband.
So there has to be this thought that goes into it. It's not just creating an account and then just going immediately into content creation mode. You really want to say, who is this for? And then oftentimes I think marketers, they try to use marketing lingo in communities and it rubs me the wrong way. So they're like, "What's your niche or what's your niche?" And I actually want to remove those two words out of community building. And I'm sorry if... And I'll tell you why. I would rather ask a community leader, who are you trying to create belonging for? Who do you want to feel as if when they show up in your community, they feel like "I belong here"? Because people who feel like they belong, contribute. And people who contribute, create highly engaged communities online. At the end of the day, we want to create a space where people feel like "I belong here. When I contribute, my comments are seen. I feel like I'm a great contributor of this group."
If I'm in OctoNation, if people are at the grocery store, at Walmart or whatever, and they see an octopus, they'll take a picture, they'll upload it in the group. They feel like, "Oh, I can contribute. I see this." And we provide that space for them to do that. I'm fired up about community, so if there're there's anything else in there that you kind of want to ask more on. I could go into the seven C's if you're curious. But that's kind of where I start, is really with that clarity. Who is the community for and what is the community about? And the more vague those two things are, the more you have the potential to alienate members and for them to feel like this community doesn't really apply to me.
Jillian Benbow: That's exactly what I was just kind of thinking about. And just the sense to the point of the community example you were just giving, there's a very clear like this would... Almost like the more, and I know you don't like the word niche. I get it.
Warren Carlyle: It's okay, we can use it.
Jillian Benbow: I'm trying to think like-
Warren Carlyle: No, we can use it. I just talk about when it comes to the idea around niches that you can truly choose it. I really feel like the more and more you look into who you are, who you represent and what your life experiences are, that's not something you choose. That's something you experience, that's like your life. So for me, when I was seven and I saw an octopus for the first time, I can't fake the fact that I like octopuses just because I think it's a cool, abstract, weird thing to go into. And I think a lot of times marketers tell people, "Just choose something. Choose the most expensive flower because you'll make the most money." And it's like, that's not how that works. Your community is going to know that you're not fired up.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah, and it's not authentic. I think that that plays to, I guess what I'm trying to figure out the right words for is, it's not being niche, but if you have this unique experience/perspective, finding other people with that creates such a high quality community versus having... You could have like, "Oh, we have a parent group," versus, "Oh, we have a dad's group," versus, "Oh, we have a husbands or gay fathers or fathers together group," and niching it, again, niching, but getting down to that like, this is a very unique experience that I'm having and I feel like I need a sense of community or comradery about this. There's probably, and there is, there's probably someone else who feels the same way, same with octopus.
Warren Carlyle: Yeah. The example that I give sometime when I'm presenting is, I talk about Disney World and how they've mastered as it relates to having their own sub-communities or things like that. It'd be naive of people to think that people go into Disney and they experience it differently. I mean, there are people that are hard of hearing that go into Disney World. They experience that differently. Instead of somebody who's hard of hearing getting lost into a big Disney World group, why shouldn't there be a Disney World group that's specifically for hard of hearing people so that they can navigate through the parks easier and have a great experience? There are people that have really bad allergies, and they need to know where to eat. There are people that specifically go to Disney to travel and do marathons, so they experience Disney differently. All of those different things require a different attention graph if you truly want to create a sense of belonging,
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. Even just go to Disney World and people watch, it's amazing. Just, it's a treat. It's a feast for the eyes.
Warren Carlyle: I talk about if you have a Disney tattoo or something like that, you feel different. You feel as if you're more of a Disney fan than other people because you've tattooed one on your body. So that could be its own separate group. And you could figure out different ways in which you could create belonging from that. You could showcase other tattoo artists that specifically do really great Disney tattoos. You can have an affiliate program. There's all these different ways that you can monetize it, but you have to first be called in a very unique way to create a sense of belonging for these people.
Jillian Benbow: If you had to have a Disney character tattooed on your body, would it be Ursula?
Warren Carlyle: It would not, although rest in peace, Pat Carroll, she just passed away this past year. It would be Jack Skellington. I've always been obsessed with Jack Skellington.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. Yeah. I think I'd legit, I love Ursula. I think there's actually a story there. They need to do Wicked.
Warren Carlyle: Oh, they totally do.
Jillian Benbow: Without Daddy Disney coming down on them, but she was robbed. I don't think she's actually that bad. I think there's something with King Triton there. There's a story between the two of them we did not explore, and I definitely knew it.
Warren Carlyle: A spicy affair maybe.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. Yes.
Warren Carlyle: I don't know.
Jillian Benbow: I bet if we knew it, we would think differently about Ursula. I love her.
Warren Carlyle: Me too. Yeah.
Jillian Benbow: So going back to community, as much as I want to just keep asking silly questions, and I will continue, don't worry.
Warren Carlyle: Go of it.
Jillian Benbow: Sort of silly, but also community, is it intentional that the seven C's is like the pun on the seven seas?
Warren Carlyle: It is. You caught it.
Jillian Benbow: I thought so. Yeah, I thought so. And I just wanted to make sure because I love it. But yeah, maybe just like a rapid fire, why don't you go through all of them? Because so far this is all just pirate treasure. So we can just continue with the-
Warren Carlyle: Yeah. So we'll start just rapid fire all through them. So clarity is really who the community for, what is the community about? Like I said, the more vague and abstract you make those things, the more potential there is to make people feel like they don't belong. So that's clarity. Then you get into core values, and that's really what is the identity of your community? What do they represent? What do they stand for? What do they angry about? What do they want more justice for? What do they laugh about? You really have to know these things so that you're just aware.
OctoNation, to give you an example, we're a pro-accredited aquarium. We believe that aquarium is on the frontline of ocean conservation on a daily basis. There are people that are really upset about us being pro aquariums. We don't showcase pollution on our page at all. We don't have conversations about those topics. We feel like there's a time and there's a place to talk about pollution, and it's not when you're establishing baseline ocean literacy as it relates to the wonder of the ocean. There are all of these things that make OctoNation what it is that all taps into our value set.
So then you get into content. Content is really, we talked about this before the podcast, but how are you deserving of attention on a daily basis? The reason I ask that is because people just make the assumption that just because they have a community, that they're deserving of attention. And I say, you have to create compelling reasons why. I even go as far as to say, you remember how when we were growing up, we would watch TV and there was programming that was on TV and they had to create really compelling segments? They had to really keep our attention. And I think we're kind of coming back to, now that we own the media and we can be on YouTube, we can be in all our spaces, all of our competitors are really anybody who has screen time. Anybody who's on your screen is really a competitor for the attention of your community member. So just be really conscious about that.
So with OctoNation, we have a program called Interview with an Octopus where we go to aquariums all over the world and we play with the octopus in real time and we bring it into the living rooms or into the phone of people who wouldn't normally otherwise see that. We have drawing with Disney animators or drawing with artists where people learn how to draw an octopus. We have underwater photography spotlight where we don't just show the camera speed or whatever, but we actually educate about the species in a really fun and informative way. So we have all of our programming listed out to where we're like, this is why we're deserving of the attention of our community because we're creating really compelling programming. And if somebody is just emotionally posting on a daily basis, I feel like that's not sustainable. If you are a creator that are doing that, you will burn out. It's just a matter of time. We know it. I've seen it with creator after creator. They wonder why they take two or three year breaks, and it's because what they were doing wasn't sustainable.
Then you get into... What is it after content? It's collaboration. So who else has a commitment to the people who you're trying to reach? It's really important that this early on. What are the podcasts? What are the journalists? What are the influencers out there? What are the brands, organizations? What magazines? Who else out there has a commitment to providing the same sort of content or to the same sort of individual that you are providing content to? And with OctoNation, obviously National Geographic is the next generation of explorers. They're committed. So what you want to do is, you want to figure out what is their mission and vision and what is your mission and vision and figure out is there a way that you can integrate so that you can be better together. I'm really big on this because that's what I love the most about working in New York in the fashion industry, is we were always collaborating. It was always like, who are you strategically collaborating with next to reach more of your audience? so I love collaboration. It's one of my favorite.
After collaboration, you get into connection. This is, what are you doing to make your community members feel seen? Do you have a unique programming that allows for your community members to genuinely feel like they have an opportunity to be seen the crowd of other individuals? Are you sending them merch? Are you providing an opportunity for them to be spot lit? What opportunities are ingrained into your community that allow them to know that they're seen, they're heard? Because those people will contribute more. Even in the comment section, I always tell creators or communities that have millions of members, I'm like, even if you were to respond deeply to five comments and not just do... Because I say surface level comments will bring surface level connections with your community. So even if you took the time to respond deeply to even five people and those became billboard comments, that's still a better representation of your brand and what it stands for than you just leaving heart eyes and applause hands. That is nothing to build affinity within your community. So that's connection.
Then you move over to conversion, and this is if you... Let's talk about the money, how you ethically converting your community to a sale. The reason I use the word ethically is because I'm so anti-fake. I feel like if you have the attention span of your community, you don't need to rush them into a sale. You're providing value with your programming. You're doing all the things you're supposed to be doing. When you present an opportunity to sell something, they should immediately just be like, "Yes, I want that." You can't see this, but we sell all these really cool stickers like-
Jillian Benbow: Everybody should go look the sticker game. The graphics are strong. If you have a octopus aficionado, if you're in our crew, you'll fall in love. I already was like, I need that. I need that. I need that.
Warren Carlyle: Yeah, the Octo-Barista series, which is a series of species, specific octopuses drinking, different types of coffee, like Pour Over Penny and French Press Freddie.
Jillian Benbow: So cute.
Warren Carlyle: So when we went to go launch those, I mean, we probably sold in that first day over $10,000 worth of stickers because our community was just, they were there for it, and we actually made them part of the process. We let them know that it was coming. We asked them, what do you like more, this or that? So instead of building all of it and then being like, "Hey, we worked on this and now we're ready for you to buy it," they were very much a part of that process. So when we finally went to go launch it, they were all on board. So that's conversion. And then you get into the last one, which is consistency. And this is how do you do all of this without losing your mind and-
Jillian Benbow: Do go on.
Warren Carlyle: Yeah. How do you create a schedule for yourself as a community leader where you are providing value at scale to your community members and you're not literally internalizing all the pressure? Like you have your schedule. And I feel like, now more than ever, because everybody has the ability to go live, it's actually kind of going back and being like, okay, what worked really well before having a schedule? When did things actually go live? Give people a time and a date, give them well in advance to make plans to be there, and they'll be there. But the whole idea of just going live whenever you feel like it is not sustainable. It's not fair to your community to miss out on something that they would want to be a part of.
So with the people that I work with, it's like, no, initially, we need programming. I want to know that on Tuesday morning you're going live here and this is why they should be there. What is the incentive of them being there? If you're dropping your podcast on Wednesday, it should drop on Wednesday. Cool. And on Thursday, if you're doing this, there needs to be a schedule there. I mean, there doesn't need to be... Let's be honest. There's plenty of people who don't do this, but I've found that when you get to the community levels that I work with, it lets you have a life. When I first started OctoNation, I remember working 12, 13 hours a day just being like, this is so amazing. I love it, I love it. But it wasn't sustainable.
Jillian Benbow: No. Yeah.
Warren Carlyle: I was doing everything myself. I was buying the research papers, I was rewriting the research papers in ways that people could understand. I was licensing photos. I was doing all the collaborations. And I was fulfilled, but then it got to the point where it's like, I can't, this isn't sustainable at all.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. I'm exhausted.
Warren Carlyle: Yeah. And while I'm-
Jillian Benbow: I like to go do something today that is not laptop.
Warren Carlyle: Yeah. And not feel bad about it and not feel guilty that I'm pulling away, or that I'm not responding to comments, or that I'm not in the know with everything that's going on. So now, like I said, with me, within consistency too, it's like, okay, what is your plan of, who's your first hire? You have to have that in there. I have a blog manager who manages all of that. She manages a team of science writers and then even science communicators that take the science writers speak and communicate it in OctoNation language. Then we have a person who specifically licenses media and footage. Then we have our scientific advisor that looks over everything to make sure, because we're putting out information at scale, sometimes in one day we'll reach a million people. So we can't be wrong about certain things now.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah, yeah.
Warren Carlyle: Before, it would just be like, "Eh, we'll just edit our caption."
Jillian Benbow: Yeah.
Warren Carlyle: Well, now it's like, "Eh." People are sharing us as the gold standard, which is what we wanted, but now with that comes more responsibility. So yeah, those are the seven C's.
Jillian Benbow: The high C's. I think those are great. That really encapsulates the chaos. You can have chaos as the eighth C.
Warren Carlyle: Oh, yeah.
Jillian Benbow: But it encapsulates... There's so many factors, right? I love that you have a community that you can provide real-time examples, the merch and basically making 10K in one day. Your example just reinforces the idea that if you have a strong engaged community, they feel a part of these things. So when this thing happens, when that thing launches, to your point of ethical conversion, they are a part of this. So they cannot wait to get their hands on this. Not because it's like, "Oh, let's do a cash grab." It's because like, "Oh my gosh, Latte Luna is the cutest thing I've ever seen." We've been talking about this and I've seen the design and I need this.
Warren Carlyle: We even created them all. I guess initially we're like, well, this doesn't really even make sense, or how are you branding this? Because a lot of people always ask me that. I guess we call them GIFs or GIFs or however you want to call them, but we created 50 or 60 of them to use on Instagram stories. They don't really have our brand on it. It's just the octopus. Because we wanted to create more things for people to use in our community so that it would just benefited the overall community. It wasn't necessarily about branding and all this stuff. It was like, what can we do to add value to our community so that more people are using octopus in their stories? Because they're not right now, because nothing really exists that's really cool. So how can we benefit the community? So it's really kind of taking all of the ego out of it, but also just providing more things. How can we better this whole entire community? What resources can we provide?
Jillian Benbow: Well, you're thinking about it from the community standpoint and not from money. Right? It's like, "This is fun, let's put these on Instagram so everyone can use them because we love sharing about this," versus, "Let's hoard this and then try to make the most money."
Warren Carlyle: Yeah.
Jillian Benbow: So David, our senior podcast producer, wanted me to ask you this, and I just laughed when I saw it. How many times have you seen My Octopus Teacher?
Warren Carlyle: I've seen it many times. Actually, people are just like, I don't know. People are like, "You should be ashamed to say this." I'm like, "I'm not." When I watched this for the first time, I fell asleep, and it's only because his voice is so soothing, that South African voice is just like... I just fell asleep. I had to watch it when I was more awake. I watched it during the time where I fall asleep no matter what. But yeah, I loved what the movie did for. It finally presented the octopus in a way that made it a compassionate creature, that it was deserving of respect. It had long-term or short-term memory that it could recognize individual human faces and form bonds potentially. So I loved what it did, and it was great because people were looking for a community after that and they found OctoNation.
Jillian Benbow: Oh, nice.
Warren Carlyle: Yeah. So we went up significantly after that documentary came out. We actually were a part of marketing it as well.
Jillian Benbow: I could see that. That tracks, that makes sense. I have a confession in that I have not seen it. And David Grabowski, who has seen it, loves it. And that's why he wanted me to ask you. It's just like you love... We've had conversations about if they're aliens, they're super smart.
Warren Carlyle: It just depends. Because people that if they want to know facts about the octopus and they're input or data nerds, they're probably not going to get what they want from the documentary. This is more or less, it makes people consider the octopus in a completely different light. It's not really there to provide data or facts or habitat. It's really there to just be like, "Wow, I had no idea that the octopus was capable of this sort of intelligence." It's just-
Jillian Benbow: Like opening jars? Yeah. Which I think people hopefully already know. No, actually, the reason I haven't seen it is because I don't want to see one die and I'll lose my mind. I'm like, I know it's coming, so I'm just going to sit this one out. I'll probably watch it eventually, but that stops me from watching a lot of things.
Warren Carlyle: If you Google frequently asked questions about My Octopus Teacher, we come up as number one because our community asked, when My Octopus Teacher came out, all of these questions. We were just like, we're just going to create this long blog that answers all of their questions, but more from a scientific perspective and less from a anthropomorphic type of perspective. But yeah, I mean, we just talked about these animals, especially that species lives for less than a year. I mean, sometimes they don't make it to their first birthday, so it's just a fact of their life.
Jillian Benbow: It is.
Warren Carlyle: It is cool though that they have the ability to regenerate, and you see that in the documentary. I mean, they can regenerate their arms as good as new, completely new.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. Can we figure that out at least for STEM service?
Warren Carlyle: I think we're on our way.
Jillian Benbow: Collagen? I don't know. Yeah, no, it's on my list. I have to be in the right mood for that kind of thing to not get a little too attached and then sad about the circle of life, if you will, but I just haven't been there.
Warren Carlyle: Like The Lion King? The first time I saw The Lion King, I'm like, why am I bawling? Why am I a puddle on the floor right now?
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. It's like a lot of those. I will share a really embarrassing story. When I was a kid, my grandma took me to see the movie All Dogs Go To Heaven in the theater. I was like, I don't know, seven. I have no idea how old I was. And you'd think from the title, that would be a clue. It's like, you know me, this is a bad idea. She knows. I don't know what she was thinking. We had to leave at the very beginning because the dog has to go to heaven, and that requires some things to happen. And I lost it. I haven't seen her since and I never will.
Warren Carlyle: But it's really important. I'm glad that you brought that up because when I'm talking to people and I'm figuring out what sort of community they should start, if that's inherently a part of your value set, that you are sensitive as it relates to those subjects, then when it comes to your community, you can make a steadfast rule that conversations like this actually aren't allowed in this community. I was such a sensitive kid, and I remember going through school and thinking the way that they presented the world, when I was going through school, is that we had already messed everything up. When I saw massive amounts of pollution, that didn't help me as a kid. I didn't know what to do. I always tell people, anger is not a sustainable emotion. And as a kid, I just felt angry and helpless as it related to everything.
So with OctoNation, it's really, I was trying to solve a problem that would, when I look to me as a kid, how can I get a kid who is super sensitive, how can we establish this ocean wonder with them that leads them into a direction of understanding how important the ocean is? Not from a place of you should do this or you shouldn't do that, which is kind of how I was taught, but from a "I care genuinely because I was inspired by something." And I know that with OctoNation, we've even seen it. We get direct messages all the time from parents that say, "I watch your Instagram or your YouTube or whatever with my kid every single night before he goes to bed. Thank you for creating what you're creating." And I'm like, this is exactly what I wanted. This is exactly why we do what we do and why we've chosen not to show massive hoards of pollution as it relates to the octopus.
Or we're not an animal rights organization. We're not going to show people chopping up octopus at a sushi restaurant and then get our community really angry and then do a Change.org petition. That's other organizations' jobs if they would like to do that. That's not what we're doing at OctoNation. So really establish when it comes to your community and creating that sense of belonging that it starts and stems from you. And if you are the sort of person that doesn't want to see that, or that doesn't light you up or move the community forward, then that doesn't have to be a part of your community.
Jillian Benbow: I love it. I'm curious, have you had experiences when people join and are focused on these things that are outside your guidelines and what your community's about? So somebody who's very environmentally conscious joins and wants to talk about plastics in the ocean and things like that. How do you-
Warren Carlyle: I just did this long post the other day because I co-facilitated in a mastermind in Orlando, and this topic came up around media training. I said, media training used to just be for celebrities, for politicians, for people that were in the spotlight. Well, nowadays, everybody that has a phone is in the spotlight. And because TikTok is a content algorithm, meaning you could have zero followers and your content could be seen by millions of people, that could be problematic. From the standpoint, if you're not media trained and you don't know and somebody throws you on mainstream news or whatever to talk about your one video and you're just thinking you can wing it, no. I wouldn't be in a position.
So going back to your question, there are things that we're trained. Our admins are trained. Our moderators are trained. We have these go-to copy and paste things. And then we also have ways that we can customize what we say. If it's something that is, if they use curse words, they're gone, they're blocked. We don't feel like it's our job to explain something to... I always tell people, it's not your really job to evangelize people. Sometimes people are just not a community fit, and you should just let them go. You shouldn't try to convince them on why they're wrong or whatever. It's just like, you're just not a fit, that's cool. If they're coming from a place of genuine curiosity on where we're getting our information from or anything like that, or they're questioning whether or not aquariums are actually good for the environment or education, we just provide real examples.
And we have this rule in our group too. It's called... You know how they call? Well, there's hijacking attention where if you're in a media, you take a popular news story and you put your spin on it. I have something in my group called Intention Hijacking, where if say somebody's standing in front of an aquarium exhibit with, they're holding their daughter in their arms and they're looking up at an octopus, say somebody in the comment section just goes off on "How dare you be teaching your daughter that, blah, blah, blah? I can't believe that you're not out making a conscious effort to go see it in the wild, and you're just teaching this is a capitalistic play on society and blah, blah, blah." That's called intention hijacking. The intention of that post for that individual was to showcase a tender moment, teaching about one of the coolest ocean creatures on the planet. It wasn't to this long thing.
So if you're trying to intention hijack in our community, it's another thing where it's like your comment's gone, and if you keep it up, you are gone. So don't be afraid to really assert your boundaries in your community. It's not a fit. And like I said, your community shouldn't be a fit for everyone. And if it is and it's broad, then you have the potential to not really be creating belonging in your community by choosing to just let people go off on each other. Some people will say, like marketers say, "I don't care what they say. It's great for engagement." They let people fight in the comments section.
Jillian Benbow: Oh, no.
Warren Carlyle: I'm like, okay, it might be great for engagement, it's devastating for community morale.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. That's also against the point of community. It's engagement, it's not community.
Warren Carlyle: Yeah.
Jillian Benbow: It's like, "Oh, cool, make everyone feel like they might get in a fight. Yeah, that's it. That's what I want."
Warren Carlyle: Yeah. I don't want people to constantly feel like they're going into battle all the time if somebody uses-
Jillian Benbow: And then afraid to post because that one person's going to tone police the photos.
Warren Carlyle: Say somebody uses the incorrect plural of octopus or something like that, and just the comment thread is nothing-
Jillian Benbow: Mean.
Warren Carlyle: Yeah. The comment thread is nothing but people just flaming that person. Do you think that really creates a sense of belonging for everybody involved?
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. Will that person ever come back? Or will they be like, "You know what? I don't like cephalopods"?
Warren Carlyle: This community is awful.
Jillian Benbow: These people are terrible. Oh, gosh. So I just want to touch on one thing and then we'll go into what's called a rapid fire questions at the end. So as I understand it, the community is on Facebook. And you've worked for Meta.
Warren Carlyle: So I have a community on... So it actually started on Tumblr.
Jillian Benbow: Oh, nice. I can see that. Yeah.
Warren Carlyle: It started on Tumblr, and it wasn't OctoNation, it was called Octopus Thingz, uppercase O, lowercase C, uppercase, that whole thing. And then even had a Z at the end. And then from there, I went over to Instagram. And then what Instagram didn't have for me, which I was looking for, which was like I wanted to see other people's stuff. I want other people to upload what inspires them. So I found Facebook Groups to be really great for that. It wasn't until I think I had 20 or 30,000 that I started the Facebook group and started telling people, "Hey, we have this. If you want to upload photos of your tattoos, if you're an underwater photographer and you want to showcase your work there, we'd love to have you over there in that community." And we filled up that Facebook group. Now we're on pretty much every single social media platform. Most recently, our TikTok has been going insane right now. So we'll see if TikTok is still around the next-
Jillian Benbow: Oh my gosh, I need to get on octopus Tok immediately.
Warren Carlyle: Yes.
Jillian Benbow: I'm sure it's great.
Warren Carlyle: It's a lot of fun.
Jillian Benbow: Your communities are free and a lot of social media driven, it sounds like.
Warren Carlyle: Yeah. We founded the nonprofit in the end of 2019. And the reason I did was because so many people kept asking, "Where can we donate? How can we help? We really love your posts." And I was thinking at the time, I remember it's this middle child syndrome where I was just like, "I don't need anybody's help. I can do all this." And I'm sure those listening can relate. You're just like, "I can handle it. I'll manage it." And I haven't gotten to that point yet. So I went through that where I was just like, "No, I want to do it all." And then I realized that I wasn't really enrolling people into the vision and mission of our community by not letting them take leadership roles.
So yeah, I created the nonprofit, and then people just let them know, "Hey, we just founded the nonprofit. What do you want to see? What do you want to see more of?" And they were like, "Well, if you look online, there's no place where we can go to look up different species of octopuses." You have to kind of piecemeal it. So we created Octopedia on our website. We launched fundraisers to fund the largest comprehensive field guide of octopus species written in a fun and informative way that was easily readable, digestible. And then they were just like, "We really want a place for art." So we created Artist Spotlight where you can apply and be featured on our blogs. And underwater photographers wanted to have their work showcase, so we created Cephalotography Spotlight, and we just started funding all of these initiatives.
The community wanted these things and they started funding these things. It'd be the same thing for a for-profit though. And I don't want people to hear the fact that I'm a nonprofit organization and think that we don't need the same amount of money, or we don't pay people the same amount of money that you'd have to pay somebody to work for you. My blog manager gets paid just as much as somebody who ran a for-profit would get paid. It's just deciding whether or not that's the direction you want to go, if that makes sense for you.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah, yeah. I think there's something to say, I think a lot of people start communities for a greater good motivation and creating the nonprofit to go with it. That's big, right? It's not easy to create. I'm sure you know, you did it.
Warren Carlyle: Yeah.
Jillian Benbow: It's a whole thing. And you could always pick a charity that you want to support or just crowdfund. Or just when people are like, "Oh, I want to whatever," have them help in the community or whatever. The sky's the limit.
Warren Carlyle: I worked with a woman, Dr. Lindsay Weitzel, and again, going back to clarity, she helps business women who suffer chronic debilitating migraines get more stuff done throughout the day. She has a very specific community so that every single time she posts, everybody in the community is like, "I get it. I belong here. Yeah, I'm suffering. I need help mitigating this chronic pain." The way she has it set up, she gets sponsorship and she has a for-profit company. She's a consultant. She helps people as a coach mitigate their chronic migraines. She also gets advertising dollars because of her podcast. She's the podcast host for, I think it's Heads UP for the National Migraine... Wait, it's National Headache Foundation. There we go.
Like I said, everything kind of goes into what she's doing. It started off with that clarity though, because I think when she first approached me, she said, "I can help anybody mitigate their pain." And I said, "That's going to be really hard sell when it comes to you saying that somebody who has lupus, somebody who has Crohn's, ulcerative colitis, somebody who has migraine, you're saying that those are all the same things?" And I was like, "That's not really creating a sense of belonging." So we really figured out that she, uniquely, her thing was suffering chronic debilitating migraine ever since she was two years old. And I said, "We should really lead with that." And as a result of her leading with that, her community exploded. So it's really going in and really thinking about you and who you are the best representation for as a community leader and really what you want to see, what resources you want to see that haven't been created.
There's some people that tell me, "Well, I need to be a nonprofit because the people that I'm helping can't afford me." And I'm just like, "No, you just need to find other people." Like I said, the fourth C is collaboration, find other organizations that have a commitment to the people that you have a commitment to and go get the funding for it. They have sponsorship dollars, they have grants. Grants are a huge thing. I'll find out this next month if I get a hundred-thousand dollar National Geographic grant, so root for me.
Jillian Benbow: Yes.
Warren Carlyle: With that funding, I can create these resources that I want to see in existence and my community wants to see in existence. So the funding and the money is there. It's really just going back to that first C, which is just like, what are you uniquely going to position yourself for and create a sense of belonging around?
Jillian Benbow: Yes, that's kind of the perfect mic drop.
Warren Carlyle: Yeah.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. I guess just to pick up the mic one more time, something I just genuinely love about community and community builders and just our whole industry, if you will, is that it really is, if you can dream it, you can build it. Yeah, we have guidelines and best practices, but there's so much magic in the creativity.
Warren Carlyle: I love it.
Jillian Benbow: That can come out of community building. And even just-
Warren Carlyle: I'm obsessed. I'm obsessed with this new age because I really feel like I can work with... I remember going into a store at Disney and there was this one kid that I talked to for two hours straight. I created this whole entire community strategy around him wanting to... He was like, "I'd love to just be..." I was like, "Well, if you weren't here, what would you be doing?" He was like, "Playing ukulele." And there was a specific type of genre of music he played. And I was just like, "Oh my gosh, would you want to give lessons? What's your story?" And we built something. I can talk about, I built strategies in the back of Uber rides for the person who's driving. I love getting people clear on what is their unique thing, because it was octopus for me. But for some people, it's... There's even a group at Disney called Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Poo, and it's all about the restrooms at Walt Disney World for people that have Crohn's or ulcerative colitis.
Jillian Benbow: Yes.
Warren Carlyle: So they can go to Disney and experience Disney and also know where the restrooms are.
Jillian Benbow: And not have to stress.
Warren Carlyle: And also know that they can get the DAS, there's a disability waiver that they can get.
Jillian Benbow: Oh.
Warren Carlyle: You know what I mean? So it's just like, imagine. You could monetize that group. You could create Poo-Pourri drops that are Disney scented. There's all these different things, I mean, that you could figure out if you are uniquely positioned or feel like you have a cause or a topic of interest or whatever. I mean, the community is there for you.
Jillian Benbow: Now, I'm going to be thinking about funny punny names for Poo-Pourri that's just related. If I think of any, I'll reach out to that group. They'll be like, "We thought of that years ago. Thanks." I love that. Yeah. We live in a terrifying time, but also a really special time. I guess that's how it works, right? You need to have a pretty healthy dose of the world is ending to really appreciate some of the magic.
Warren Carlyle: If you couldn't tell by this podcast, I'm ADHD, so it kind of helps that I have my arms in so many different communities and businesses. But I really do think... One of my other people that I work with is Emily D. Baker, and she is a pop culture legal commentator. I think she's been on one of your podcasts.
Jillian Benbow: I love her. Yeah. She's been on Pat's podcast and I was so much like, I wish I would've known this was happening, so I could have been very inappropriate and crashed your podcast. How dare you? He's like, "Huh, yeah, weird."
Warren Carlyle: So I worked with her when she was first getting her start. I met her at a mastermind and she was doing something completely different. I was like, "This is what we should be doing." I was like, "You realize that you can get paid to talk for a living?" And she just wasn't aware. And I feel like that's a huge thing with people who are, say their age is 35 to 50 right now. Your voice and your expertise is so needed online. And for whatever reason, for the longest time, I think adults, they had this social media aversion because their kids were doing it. I think we need to get over that because we need your voices online.
Because even with Emily being a pop culture legal commentator, but with a career as a 15-year deputy district attorney in Los Angeles, when she came up on the scene and she started talking about pop culture, legal, all these things, yes, she was talking about the Britney Spears conservatorship, but she now goes live, I think, today during the Murdaugh trial. She had 40,000 live concurrent people viewing her stream. That's more than mainstream media on YouTube right now.
Jillian Benbow: Oh, yeah. Well, and she just breaks it down too.
Warren Carlyle: Yeah.
Jillian Benbow: Just to keep going, let's just talk about Emily D. and the law nerds, because obviously she knows what she's doing. She's been in the courtroom, she gets it, and she explains things in a very just like, "Okay, this is what this means." She's your friend that you go have a drink with or whatever, and she'll just... She talks shop in a way that's just so inclusive. You don't feel like you actually need a law degree. And because she takes on, I remember the Johnny Depp case.
Warren Carlyle: Amber Heard, yeah. Amber Heard.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. And honestly, I'm not super clear on what that was even about. I get big picture but I wasn't following it, but I would put her lives on in the background because I just wanted the hot goss on how court cases work. You know what I mean?
Warren Carlyle: Yeah.
Jillian Benbow: I didn't even care about them. And then the Britney Spears conservatorship, it's just so interesting.
Warren Carlyle: She's establishing, like I said, this baseline literacy for the way the law works, but she's doing it through popular culture and through media.
Jillian Benbow: Exactly.
Warren Carlyle: And I told her when we were first working, I was like, "You will be the resource when it comes to mainstream media, when it comes to all these different things because you're commentating on popular culture, but in a way where you're laying down the law and you're saying this is how it is, but in a really fun and informative way." So she uses all the cursy words and she has purple hair.
Jillian Benbow: Yep.
Warren Carlyle: I mean, it is just like she's what's representative of what at the highest level when it comes to you building an empire and wanting... If you're a person out there that wants to be consumer facing, I would say that with OctoNation, people don't know that I run it because they care about octopuses. They don't necessarily care about me as a consumer facing individual.
Jillian Benbow: They're like, "Who's that human?"
Warren Carlyle: Yeah. They're like, "Wait a minute, too much human, we want more arms."
Jillian Benbow: It's like you do not have enough arms.
Warren Carlyle: Yeah.
Jillian Benbow: You're weird.
Warren Carlyle: But with people like Emily who want that consumer facing brand, that she is the brand. I'm more or less, I'm a curator. I facilitate. And if you're out there, don't think that you need to be front facing. You can have just as much of an impact being behind the scenes and curating programming and being like, "You know what? I want this to exist and nobody's doing it." I have no reason to be the owner of one of the largest oceanic nonprofits most engaged on social media. If you look at my background, I'm a classical saxophone performance major. So if you're out there and you're thinking, "Well, I haven't gone to school for this, I haven't done this," it's like, take the pressure off of yourself to have the accolades. If you are wanting to facilitate and curate, then curate conversations with professionals. That can happen too. With Lindsay Weitzel, the one who helps women who suffer chronic debilitating migraine, she interviews. She interviews professionals as it relates to different types of migraine, like cluster migraines and there's all sorts of different types. So yeah.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. Well, just to... Okay, we'll end it after this. But with going back to Emily, she is not for everyone. That is abundantly clear. I love her in the sense that I am not for everyone. She is loud and she's funny, but can be crass and stuff and sarcastic, and those are the things that attract me to her. That's why I'm like, "Yep, law nerds unite. We ride at dawn." Other people would probably tune in and be like, "Oh my gosh," like clutches pearls. So that's not their person, and that's okay, because it goes back to that having that hyper-specific community. So when people find you, they're like, "Yes." And just immediately, how do I be a part of this? I'm going to subscribe. I'm going to do this. I'm going to do that.
Warren Carlyle: When I first met her with her values, she's very much an Enneagram 1 and she's very much, fairness is really big to her. Obviously it led her into the career of being a district attorney. So she can be all of this personality but still remain incredibly fair and just with how she talks about things. And I think people love that bridge, where it's just like you know at the end of the day that she's not going to bad talk anybody. Again, she's about facts not f-ery, and all of those different things. Right?
Jillian Benbow: Right.
Warren Carlyle: She has all these sayings that just make her brand hers. But like I said, that goes back to when we were first started working together. It was just like, what is going to be your messaging? Everyone's favorite legal commentator. Now she's the go-to legal analyst because she's in our primetime era, which means she's on court TV all the time. She's on ABC all the time. She's in a lot of Netflix and Hulu documentaries all the time. So we have her messaging now. She's the go-to. So now everybody's just like, "Why would you go to anybody else? Emily is the go-to."
Jillian Benbow: Right. And that's the thing. Even though she has... Which by the way, if I saw a lot Law Nerds Unite or Facts, Not F-ery shirt or something, I'd lose my mind because it's like, "Oh my God, what did you think about this?" And it's just like, that is the example of how special you can make things. But yeah, she is just-
Warren Carlyle: You have to get her onto a community podcast.
Jillian Benbow: Oh my gosh. I'd die.
Warren Carlyle: She can go more into that.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. Yeah, please. And I think to my point that she's not for everyone, but that's okay because at the end of the day, even if I'm there for the snark and whatnot and just the details, I want to understand how it's all working. She's very engaging. It's very interesting to hear her talk about those things. And that's what's extra special. She has a way. Her personality just shines. And it's almost like, you almost forget, this person is actually highly, highly qualified and all of it.
Warren Carlyle: If you look at it on the surface level and if you break down the strategy, you're like, wait a minute, this is a woman who is pulling up court contracts and she's just reading them line by line. How could anybody make that even remotely entertaining? And yet, 30 to 40,000 people live concurrent watching. And now she has more programming where it's her live commentary, where she's essentially like a sports commentator for the courtroom. I mean, like I said, that goes into content where it's very strategic programming. There's nothing that she's doing right now that hasn't been really thought out from just the people around her and our team that we have. When we first started, it was just her on live and her producing everything, and now we have this team that we're building behind her so that she can stay the talent and not be overwhelmed. Like I said, that last C, consistency, and not just get burnt out.
Jillian Benbow: That's amazing. What a special little extra nugget I didn't expect in this interview. Okay. Well, I want to be respectful of your time.
Warren Carlyle: Are we going to do the rapid fire? Or no, we don't have time?
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. Oh, no, if you have time.
Warren Carlyle: Okay. I have time.
Jillian Benbow: Like I said, I'm nosy, so I want to make sure I get the answers. Okay. So I'm going to ask you a series of questions. Just quick, whatever the first thing that comes to mind is your response. I will try not to then ask follow-up questions because I am nosy, but it's supposed to be rapid fire.
Warren Carlyle: Okay.
Jillian Benbow: So Warren, when you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Warren Carlyle: A neurosurgeon.
Jillian Benbow: Nice. How do you define community?
Warren Carlyle: Wow. I should have a media-trained response for this one. Community, creating a space where people feel like they belong, and as a result of that, they contribute, they feel seen, they feel heard, they feel affirmed, and they show up on a daily basis.
Jillian Benbow: Love it. See, now you have one. I am going to ask you two bucket list questions. So if you have a bucket list, cool. If you don't, just think life goal kind of stuff.
Warren Carlyle: Okay.
Jillian Benbow: What is something on your bucket list that you have done?
Warren Carlyle: That I have done? So Sy Montgomery is my mentor. She wrote the book The Soul of an Octopus. She's the reason that I created OctoNation, and I actually got to go to her house and hang out with her for the day. Quality time is my love language, and so I was just the happiest person on the planet just getting to hang with my mentor. And we actually went over to somebody's house and he has all these turtles. They're writing a book on turtle. Seeing my mentor, who makes you fall in love with an animal that you've never met before, she writes all these books, she's a naturalist, and seeing her interact with animals, it was like she was in her own little world. And I just remember just being like, "This is the most amazing day I've ever had." So I'd say that was crossed off of my bucket list.
Jillian Benbow: That sounds amazing.
Warren Carlyle: Yeah.
Jillian Benbow: All right. The flip of this question, what's something on your bucket list that you have not yet done?
Warren Carlyle: Let's see. I haven't produced a documentary. I really want to produce a documentary of octopuses in a way that I feel like would just take the world by storm, that would really showcase the different species in all their glory. And really, I want people to say, "Why is this the first time that I've ever heard about this?" Because there's just so many cool species, not to geek out, but there's an Antarctic octopus that has anti-freeze proteins in its skin. There is a hot water volcano octopus that can survive almost like 200 degree hydrothermal vents. So like I said, depending on the octopus species, they have a different superpower that allows them to be masters of whatever environment they're in. And there's over 300 stories. So if I can work with producers to film a series, that would be an incredible bucket list item for me.
Jillian Benbow: I'm loving that. I agree. Plus one. All right. I think I might know the answer to this question, but what is a book that you love and wish everybody would read?
Warren Carlyle: Yeah. It's going to be The Soul of an Octopus.
Jillian Benbow: Heck, I already have it queued up in the card.
Warren Carlyle: Yeah. The Soul of an Octopus, there's a reason why, even today, it is number one on Amazon in two or three categories. Since 2015, this book has literally been on a bestseller's list of some sort. And it has so much staying power. And I think it's because Sy is just, like I said, she has this way of talking about an animal in a way that is so relatable. You just feel like, even though it's an octopus, you're thinking, how has she made me fall in love and be so deeply ingrained and fascinated? It was really that book that I was just like, I want to carry this torch in an online environment on behalf of Sy. I remember reaching out to her after I read that book and I said, "I have this idea." And I told my brother first, and he was like, "That's dumb." He was like, "Why would you create a fan club for octopus?" He was just like, "Why don't you choose a species that's endangered? Are octopuses even endangered?" And I was like, "No, I'm not going to tell you anything."
Jillian Benbow: It's like, nevermind.
Warren Carlyle: Yeah. I asked Sy and she was just like, "I think this is amazing." And I think it was one of the first or second emails that she called me an Octo King. I was just like, okay, if Sy Montgomery is going to dub me the Octo King, then I'm going to take this very seriously and I'm going to make her proud. So I'd like to think that through the course of since then to now, we've accomplished that.
Jillian Benbow: How does your brother feel now? Is he-
Warren Carlyle: He wears all of our merch. People stop him at the gym. It's funny, he was like, he wore a tank top that said OctoNation on it and somebody came up to him. He was like, "Oh my gosh, you follow OctoNation?" And he goes, "Oh yeah, the guy who founded it is my brother." They're like, "Wait a minute. What?" They freaked out. So he's-
Jillian Benbow: There's a human behind this?
Warren Carlyle: Yeah. He's completely sold on it now, and he is really proud.
Jillian Benbow: That's good. Showed him, huh?
Warren Carlyle: Huh.
Jillian Benbow: Okay. I happen to know you live in Austin. If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would you live? The ocean, I'm sure but-
Warren Carlyle: I have so many friends from Australia that live near the water and that are marine biologists. It's kind of the people of Hawaii as well, they have this deep found appreciation and love for the ocean that surrounds them. And talking to them just fires me up. It lights me up. So the idea of living around people that share that affinity or share that love, they inspire me. A lot of them, I've never met. What's crazy about my community is we have hundreds of thousands, we're approaching a million people across all platforms, and I haven't met the majority of the people who have really inspired me on a daily basis to make the organization what it is. So I think I need to do this tour where I go and I meet the significant individuals that literally... This comes up in every community leaders thing, where you're wondering, is this worth it? Should I continue? Should I just close the group? This is getting... There are certain people along the way that was just like, I needed that comment to keep myself going. So yeah, I would probably say Australia. Yeah.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. I mean, that'd be amazing. Great Barrier Reef, hello.
Warren Carlyle: Mm-hmm.
Jillian Benbow: Also, Australia, it's gorgeous. I feel like that could almost play into your documentary around the world. Okay, final question, Warren Carlyle, how do you want to be remembered?
Warren Carlyle: Let's see. Outside of OctoNation and inspiring wonder of the ocean, I really want to create the new model for mapping wonder to the ocean as it relates to any animal. I really feel like that what I'm doing with OctoNation could be replicated for any ocean creature. Anybody that has a calling or wants to make somebody fascinated with something, there's a way that we go about educating in OctoNation and there's a way that we go about universalizing knowledge in a way that is just fun. It's informative, it's not stuffy, that I think if the National Audubon Society or the penguin or whatever got a hold of it and started utilizing some of the tools that we do and incorporated a lot of the experts that we're incorporating in a way that makes them feel seen, heard, and affirmed, then we would be able to inspire more people. So I think mapping wonders to the ocean is something that I want to be known for. Yeah.
Jillian Benbow: It's like the tech modern version of Jacques Cousteau.
Warren Carlyle: Yes.
Jillian Benbow: I'm here for it.
Warren Carlyle: Yes. Because I feel like it is a privilege to even go to an aquarium. It costs money to get to an aquarium, and it costs money to travel. There's a lot of people who were like me when I was seven years old and lived in a house with seven other kids, we couldn't afford to do a lot of things. So the idea that I could create this online space in which a child could go to it and be like, wow, I want to pursue a career in this. Not as a result of even seeing anything or physically touching something, but just as a result of how these words are drawing me. Something very much Sy's book drew me into.
I was the studio manager for a celebrity fashion photographer, and then I turned into an executive director, founder of an oceanic nonprofit organization. Words and visuals have the ability to profoundly change our lives. And I feel like that you can create that online as much as you can create it in a bad, negative way. And you could be very nihilistic and say everything is not going in a good way. You could also be the light. So if you're cold to do that and be that, then like I said, really get clearer and maybe revisit those seven C's and ask yourself, what are you doing in each one of those areas?
Jillian Benbow: Yes. Wow. What a way to end. I love it. Thank you so much for being here.
Warren Carlyle: Oh, for sure.
Jillian Benbow: This was a blast. I did not get to all the octopus questions I would've asked, but for the sake of everyone, I'll just not. I will instead focus my energy on buying some of these stickers because they're amazing.
Warren Carlyle: Octo merch.
Jillian Benbow: Also, the Instagram. Oh my gosh. Yeah. I'll Get them.
Warren Carlyle: Yeah. We actually just created AdoptAnOctopus.com. You can't see that here.
Jillian Benbow: Ah, cute. Well, I saw you could adopt one. I didn't realize they had their own URL too.
Warren Carlyle: Oh yeah. We're big on vanity URLs. That's a pro tip towards the end of this podcast. If you made it this far, buying vanity URLs to direct attention to the things are a lifesaver for your community. So I have an Adopt an Octopus for the octopus stuff animals. I have OctoMerch.com for all things that are Octo merch. I have OctopusFacts.com if you want a daily text fact. Creating these attention drivers for depending on... Because you're in an Uber and you're trying to convince somebody to follow your thing, you're not going to go to facebook.com/group/this.
Jillian Benbow: Mm-hmm, yeah.
Warren Carlyle: So I just told them, go OctopusFanClub.com and it'll send you right to our group.
Jillian Benbow: I love it. I also love buying links. So it's like the best of both worlds.
Warren Carlyle: Yes.
Jillian Benbow: What else is funny?
Warren Carlyle: Buy them all.
Jillian Benbow: Or cute. Yeah. Well, yeah, thank you so much. You just rattled off a bunch of websites that people can find you at, but what's your go-to if people want to learn more about the work you do specifically and then obviously OctoNation?
Warren Carlyle: Yeah. I think if you're curious, if you want to get a masterclass in what's working right now on Instagram as far as captions are concerned, you can always go to our Instagram, @OctoNation. We receive hundreds of comments on all of our posts, and there's a reason why. If you look at our capture, you can kind of-
Jillian Benbow: Yeah, it was solid, solid Instagram.
Warren Carlyle: Yeah, you can kind of look at that. But that came after, like I said, thousands of posts and me figuring out what is going to get the most engagement and things like that. So that would be good for that. But if you just want to look at our website, octonation.com. If you're curious about more of the work that we do, we have, like I said, Profitable Community Academy, joinpcanow.com. You can look at that too.
Jillian Benbow: Awesome. All right. Let's end it with just, what's your favorite octopus fact?
Warren Carlyle: Okay, so my favorite octopus fact, and you all can't see this, but what's really cool about the octopus is that they have these horizontal-shaped pupils. So you've probably seen a goat. The goats, they have these horizontal-shaped pupils. But imagine two panoramic cameras on the size of your heads or your head, and octopus has no blind spot, so they can see 360 degrees around their body. They can see directly in front of themselves and behind themselves because they're like a squishy floating protein bar in the sea.
So I've always been really enamored with the fact that an octopus can see nearly every direction, so you can't sneak up on them. Their eyes are what captivated me the first time I saw them when I was was seven because I looked inside of them. And it's very similar to if you're looking at your dog or your cat, you can tell when they need to go outside. You can tell when they're hungry. When I looked at the octopus, I thought, there's something unique, there's something going on here, and it's captured and held my attention since. So if you can get an opportunity to visit an aquarium and look into an octopus's eye, I strongly recommend you do it.
Jillian Benbow: Do it. And ask if they've escaped and eaten fish in a different aquarium at their back.
Warren Carlyle: Yeah. Ask about their plans for the eventual cephalopod takeover of the planet.
Jillian Benbow: Right. I'm here for it. I'm here for it. All right, Warren, thanks so much being on the show.
Warren Carlyle: For sure. Thank you.
Jillian Benbow: And that's the episode with Warren. Oh my gosh, I hope you enjoyed listening as much as I enjoyed having that conversation. It's really nice to see someone who's doing community work, have their own community that they can show actual examples from. I'm sure all of us enjoyed that. And if you haven't, go check out OctoNation. It is a great website. It's just the best. Obviously, I am pro octopus. So I hope you enjoyed that and got some ideas. I thought there was a lot of really, really great ideas. And yeah, that's the show. Thanks so much for listening.
You can learn more about Warren and all the amazing cephalopod work he's doing by just searching up OctoNation. You can go to OctoNation.com. You can look up OctoNation on pretty much any social media, and it'll come right up.
Your lead host for the community experience is me, Jillian Benbow. Our executive producer is Matt Gartland, our senior producer is David Grabowski. And our editor is Paul Grigoras. Sound editing by Duncan Brown. Theme music by David Grabowski.