Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 0:01
Once upon a time, there were 10s of 1000s of makers struggling. Every day they built for hours and hours but didn't chip and didn't earn enough income. One day, the no Caldwell's podcast came to help them find a way because of this makers became founders and live the lives they deserve. Because of that, founders live lives of abundance, freedom, and creativity. That's what I'm really all about. Hello, my name is Aziz and from being a poor boy born to a single mother in North Africa, with no opportunities, just sheer hard work to failing multiple startups, yet learning a whole lot to barely escaping alive the war in Ukraine, even living as an illegal immigrant. I've lost everything twice. And now, I'm rebuilding my life. One more time 1% A day sharing the wisdom of luminaries of interviewed on this podcast from Google executives to Amazon, Microsoft, Forbes, Technology Council, Harvard, Goldman Sachs, Financial Times, and even a priest from the Vatican church. Everyone is welcome, here. So let's begin. My guest today is Austin Schlessinger. Austin is an innovation strategist and competitive crossfitter. He has 17,000 Plus Twitter audience and writes about fitness and money. Austin, how are you today?
Austin Schlessinger 1:49
I'm doing great. How are you?
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 1:51
I'm feeling blessed, optimistic, and really glad. And happy to have you here today. And to begin this conversation with something that's relevant to you, that's top of mind. Is there something in your life in your work in Twitter or wherever? That is an insight that you're got recently, a problem that you notice a lot of people have, or something you're trying to change in your life? Because it demands your attention again, and again. And again.
Austin Schlessinger 2:28
Yeah, something that I'm focusing on right now is trying to eat more locally. So trying to find locally sourced vegetables, locally sourced meats. I recently found out that my I have high cholesterol. So I'm trying to find better sourced ingredients and just foods locally. So it's a problem that I have. And as I'm kind of talking to local farmers and talking to community support, CSAs and whatnot, I'm realizing it's it's pretty difficult to kind of pull this together if you don't if you're not familiar with the space. So you know, not Twitter related, not related to writing or not related to work. But that's just one one problem that I'm working on right now.
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 3:21
Thank you. And how did that begin your quest for better nutrition, better health, and better fitness?
Austin Schlessinger 3:31
How did it begin?
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 3:34
Austin Schlessinger 3:36
I think I've always been interested in fitness and eating healthy, like ever since I was younger. My dad would always make me do like push ups and pull ups. I grew up playing a ton of sports. So I was I was fit. And I think nutrition was just, I was first introduced to it kind of nutrition when I was younger, and I was like, I want to get a six pack. And when you google like How To Get A Six Pack, it starts with nutrition. So I was actually just thinking about this yesterday, where when did I first start getting interested in in nutrition? I think it was like, I want to get a six pack. Here's how I can do it. And my philosophy on like, Why eat healthy has changed a lot since then, like I thoroughly don't think it's all about getting a six pack. But that's kind of where it started outside.
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 4:35
Thank you. And there are two kinds of experiences when it comes to this that are on the extreme of the curves. There are people who say, Look, I'm trying to build my future. I don't have time to spend trying to eat healthy to work out because every minute counts at any moment. I can go bankrupt or not have money for bills to pay You're my startup all fail, so I need to sacrifice it all. And when I make it, then I will hire someone to help me with my fitness and all that, while there are other people. Like I remember Mark Mark Sissons book, The Primal Blueprint where he said he looked like a fitness model, he was an athlete, but he was constantly in a state of inflammation that although he looked the part, his health was subpar. So what's your perspective on this? What would you say to either or both of these?
Austin Schlessinger 5:39
I think that you always have to put your yourself first you have to put your health first. Because if you're not able to perform at the highest level, then you're not going to be able to operate a business that or grow a startup in a sustainable way. So I think there's a lot of components that kind of go into that. And I just realized, as I've kind of started writing more that, you know, on days where I'm not sleeping, or I'm not getting enough sleep, or on days, where I'm not eating, the foods I typically eat, or I don't get a workout in, I'm not nearly as productive than if I do do those things. So just like on an interpersonal level, I'm realizing that I need to kind of check those boxes in order to perform at my highest. And I think that it's difficult to understand that until you kind of start doing those things, you're like, wow, I can, I'm being a lot more productive with my time. You know, if I get eight hours of sleep, or nine hours of sleep, or just getting I'm getting higher quality sleep, then I'm going to be able to do better in other aspects of my life.
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 7:11
Thank you. And my next question will relate this to innovation strategy so nicely, which is this? Yes, there is a lot of value in performing at your best doing elite level of whatever you're doing. But just like using, you might think about innovation where you can do everything perfectly, but the stars don't align, and nothing comes of it. While sometimes some things could be done in a duct tape kind of way and bootstrapped and become a unicorn or get results that are beyond the imagination. Well, the same people who might be in the hustle culture or founders who say, Yes, I would need to perform at my best if I was, I don't know, a blue chip, fortune 500 executive where everything is stable and can be expected. But I'm dealing with a dynamic world where every second things are changing, or every day or every minute. So I need to throw more darts at the wall to see what sticks. And therefore it's not about me performing at my best, it's about me doing more and taking more massive action. Because once I find that thing that works only then as a startup or entrepreneur or founder can have the luxury of trying to be productive at my best. What are your thoughts on this?
Austin Schlessinger 8:48
Just so I'm understanding correctly. So what you're saying is that, like when you're you know, you're working in a corporate environment, there's less variables, there's less things that go wrong, it might be easier to prioritize your health and whatnot versus working in a startup, there's more variability, you have to take more risks, and it might be more difficult to create that routine. Am I understanding that
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 9:17
Austin Schlessinger 9:20
Yeah, so I think that that's 100% True. I mean, it's, that's kind of like a dichotomy, right? You have the corporate side of things where most of it's kind of you understand the work that you're doing every day, depending on your line of work. And then you have the startup side of things where things are variable and things are changing and moving quickly. I think that personally speaking, you know, I've, I've worked in startup environments in the past and just knowing myself I think that you It's kind of prioritizing the things that were within my control, I guess just getting like small wins. So instead of go to the gym for, you know, an hour, just going in getting like, you know, going out for a 20 minute run, instead of, you know, planning out my meals to a tee, it was just saying, Okay, I'm going to prioritize eating protein cutting back on on carbs, I think it's, it's small adjustments, as opposed to, I think a lot of people think it's like it prioritize your health is this huge like task. And it really starts with small habits, it's, you know, I need to get, it's, it's creating a sleep routine, where, you know, I'm maximizing the time that's in bed, you know, I'm cutting caffeine in the afternoon, because I know that I'm not gonna be able to sleep, it's understanding when you're most productive, like some people are much more productive in the morning. So they're going to prioritize, you're getting to bed earlier, so that they can get up and they can work and hit the ground running. So people work better in the evenings. And it's just understanding that. So I think that for people that are kind of working in environments that are more variable, it's being introspective and being understanding of the best way that you can work. And I understand there's certain times where it's like, you know, shits hitting the fan, you're gonna have to You're, you're way out of whack, you're not going to be able to do these things. But I think that just by understanding who you are, and when you work best is just kind of a great starting point.
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 11:47
Thank you, that's a great answer, and to move on to audience building, because you have a lot of experience with that, especially on Twitter. First And fundamentally, why not LinkedIn, because as someone who works at Deloitte, you expect or people would expect you to be more LinkedIn focused where the growth will come from there. So why Twitter? How does it compare to LinkedIn? And how was that it happened, you became someone with an audience on social media?
Austin Schlessinger 12:21
Sure, so I actually started on LinkedIn, back in 2020. So as a little bit of background, I graduated from college, I graduated from Rutgers in May of 2020. But in March, that's when COVID the pandemic had started, and everybody went home. So classes were online, I had a lot more free time. I started recording, I started a podcast recorded a bunch of episodes. And the number one growth factor in like growing, my podcasts was posted on LinkedIn. So that's where I started. That's kind of where I kind of under started to learn about copywriting and understanding, you know, how to get people to actually listen to your show. So I started on LinkedIn. And then once I started my job, I was a little uncomfortable, kind of like posting all that stuff on LinkedIn, because all my coworkers are seeing it, they're asking me about it. And I just think I was a little bit uncomfortable with being that open about everything that that I was doing, especially because I was just new to a job near the corporate world didn't really understand things. So fast forward a little bit, my friend talked to me about Twitter. And in the past, Twitter had only been for following my friends at my high school friends and posting about sports and keeping up with news and whatnot. And my buddy was like, no, no, it's much more than that. You need to go on there, you're gonna meet a ton of awesome people. And that's kind of where the journey started. I started writing on Twitter for I've been writing on Twitter for two years now. And I think the advantage to writing on Twitter versus writing on LinkedIn is, it's a different audience. So whereas Twitter is kind of more startup focused, there's a lot more creators. LinkedIn is kind of more corporate. And I kind of had that corporate network and I wanted to branch out and meet more people that were kind of doing similar things like me and taking, taking risks, like starting a blog or starting a podcast and creating content and whatnot. So I just kind of gravitated towards that. I'll caveat that by saying a lot of creators now I'm seeing are pivoting over to LinkedIn. And I think there's advantages to that as well. LinkedIn is very shareable and that once you post something, if you like it, it automatically shares it with someone's entire network at think that I'm pretty sure that that's what happens. But in terms of audience building, in general, that's kind of like, you know, my background in terms of where I started, and whatnot. I had personal blogs in the past. But the issue with personal blogs is that the distribution is really crappy, because you write, and then you have to send it to a bunch of people. Whereas honestly, if you're writing on a social network, or you're creating content on a social network, there's algorithms and things that will help distribute it for you. So I think that answered your question. But if I missed something, just let me know.
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 15:41
That's a wonderful answer. Now you did answer it. And imagine today, you had to start from scratch on Twitter, and you knew nobody. What would you do to build back your audience again? Or how would you go about it starting totally from zero so that maybe some of the listeners can be inspired, learn or follow that plan to get their voices heard on a larger scale?
Austin Schlessinger 16:12
It all boils down to three things. So number one is identifying what you want out of building an audience. This is a piece that a lot of people miss, this is something I like, totally skipped over. And it wasn't until I've created like a baseline of content that I kind of understood it, but it's like, why are you building us in the first place your goal, if your goal is to build an audience of 10,000 people, or your goal is to kind of get your first 1000 or first 100 followers? Like what's, what's kind of the purpose? And what's kind of driving you to get there? And that's something that I'm still working on. It's like, you know, I have this audience now. And know what, what I want to for it, you know, why did I want to do it in the first place. So I think it kind of starts with being introspective and just kind of understanding, hey, this is the reason why I want to do this. More tactically, it's once you kind of understand what you want to do, it's writing content for the audience that you're trying to build. And the best way to do that on Twitter is through writing Twitter threads, that's just kind of like the fastest way to to build your audience a very captivating way to display content, your it's gonna force you to learn how to write more concisely, to tighten up your ideas to make it engaging, you're going to learn how to write great copy, because people aren't going to read your super like informative, dense threads, they're going to be pithy and quick. And it's going to be things that people want to, you know, engage with, and they want to see. So just to recap, I think it boils down to Hey, know, why are you number one? Why are you building the audience in the first place? Number two, what is the audience you're trying to build, and then three, if you're building on Twitter, stick with Twitter threads, in terms of the cadence, if you can do if you can put out one really quality Twitter thread per week. And you do that for six months? I'd be very surprised if you didn't build some sort of an audience on the platform.
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 18:32
Thank you. And some people who are have never experienced a large audience don't understand if that or how life changing that be. That can be like the experiences when you have there. Can you share more from the other side, as well as which number began this change? Like, did it wasn't when you reach 5000 10,000, whatever that you noticed, more opportunities, more networking connections, whatever it is that happened that you can speak about, when you reach a high level of followers on Twitter.
Austin Schlessinger 19:12
It's a number of opportunities that you're presented with. So when you start writing about specific topics, you're going to start gravitating or people start gravitating towards you, and assume that you kind of know something about what you're talking about. So there were two events that I can trace back to that were pivotal for me or kind of like helped me understand like, Hey, this is the this is the value of building an audience. The first one is, was when I started growing my following and people started hitting me up saying, Okay, how do I do this? So, when people started asking me I was giving out all this advice to those that want to help building an audience on Twitter. And although that wasn't like a topic that I was passionate about, it was like, hey, you know, I would love to kind of teach people how to do this, because it took me a while to figure it out on my own. So when people started asking me that I, you know, wrote up a bunch of points. And when people would ask me, send them these key points, and eventually, people were like, you know, I understand that this is how to do it, I just want you to do it for me. So then I started doing some ghostwriting. So helping people write their right Twitter threads and helping them build on mine. And now I have three ghost writing clients. So I'm making some money on the side through through writing, which is been super awesome. So that's kind of the first first thing I'm like, hey, I can make money with my writing, which is cool.
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 20:57
Thank you. And one thing before you go, just let's say someone has a dream of growing an audience and becoming a ghost writer, without saying anything specific, how much can they expect to be paid for such a service? Because you said you're making money on the side, but you have a good job. So I assume you're not getting paid peanuts or whatever for it. So it can maybe encourage some people to focus and to go through the growing pain period by knowing more about the possible outcomes?
Austin Schlessinger 21:30
Sure. So what can you expect from Ghost riding? I would say, it really depends. So when I started, I think I've been doing it for around a year now. And what I did is that I took my
annual salary, and crunch that down into an hourly rate. So it was like, How much am I making in my full time job. And what I did was I charged time and a half on whatever I was doing, because I figured, hey, if I'm doing work on the side, I want to get paid more than when I'm getting paid on my day job. So the time and a half to start, and kind of extrapolated that like, hey, it's gonna take me this amount of time, it'll take me 10 hours to write a Twitter thread, I'm charging time and a half. This is the amount of money that I can expect to make. I can I can share like specific numbers. But I think it really depends on what you value your your time at. So I think that the range that I've seen through my friends, and kind of what I've done is anywhere from 2002, all the way up to $10,000 a month for creating content. And again, like it's depending on your cadence, how much time you're spending on it. But the TLDR is you can make a lot of money with ghostwriting.
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 22:53
Thank you. And please keep on sharing more, you said there are more than one thing that you notice when you grew your audience the opportunities that presented themselves but you mentioned it takes you around 10 hours to create and publish a thread. Is this like an example? Or is this the average you do? And if so, are you working in corporate environment where you have, I don't know, eight hours a day doing that? Where do you find the time? Or how do you organize your day to give time to do thread creation where I don't know maybe at the end of the day, you're too tired? Or maybe after the gym or whatever. So how do you carve time that is productive for Twitter? Or is it a priority? Or do you go to work first, and then when you have time left over? You do it for Twitter.
Austin Schlessinger 23:52
It's definitely a priority. So I'll touch on, kind of tactically, tactically what I do, and like where I spend my time, and then I'll loop it back into the other benefits of kind of building an audience online. So 10 hours per thread. That's the way I came up with that number is that before I started writing for other people, I was writing threads for myself, and I was just kind of pumping them out. And some of the ones that were very research based were taking me 10 plus hours. It was crazy. It was like, you know, I'm writing these, and I can share examples with you as well. But they're very research heavy. And I was writing stories about founders and businesses and the way that I was my research process was that I was literally listened to every single interview that the founder was on explaining his business, a store or their businesses store. So we take a lot of time. Tactically how I do that is that I I have an alarm set for 5am every morning to get up sometimes I'm getting up at 530 but a lot of times, I'm getting up to five. And I'm one of those like morning writers, like when I get up in the morning, that's when my ideas are flowing, that's when I can, you know, nobody's up yet nobody's paying me for my full time job, I can just kind of sit down and create content. So that's when I do it. Looping back to the other benefits of building an audience online, first thing was making money. The other thing was that creating opportunities for for yourself, whether that be job opportunities, or investment opportunities. So for example, a few months ago, I think back in February, I wrote a thread on the future of sleep technology. And I've tested a few like sleep wearables, like aura, whoop, and a few others. So I kind of had a little bit of background, but I'm not asleep, scientists, by by no means I'm friends with sleep scientists, I'm not on their level at all. But long story short, I wrote this thread. And the guy that totally blew up had a bunch of engagement. And I had a bunch of like founders and venture capitalists reached out reaching out to me like, Okay, I loved your thread, I want to talk to you about the future of the sleep tech industry. And I'm like, Dude, I've only tested these products like this is just my theory. But short, like, I would love to have this conversation with you. And that's been one of the more rewarding aspects of building an audience. Besides making money online, besides getting the job opportunities, it's like, it's pretty awesome that people, you're sharing your ideas, and you get to kind of share them with the world. And people kind of look at you, like, you know, you're doing even though like, you might not know all the nitty gritty details. But I found that, you know, when you're writing, and you're putting your ideas out there, some people want to dig a little bit more. And having those conversations are super rewarding, because you get to learn more, you get to share, share what you're learning, and through that there's been investment opportunities, and also job opportunities that came my way. So that's just another example of one of the benefits of building an audience online.
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 27:18
Thank you very much. And I know, I'm not asking you to reveal all your secrets. But since you're willing to commit 10 hours to researching something, how do you decide or come up with or know that a topic idea or thread idea will work for you? Is it that you see what's going viral? And you get inspired from that? Or do you have another way so that you decide on the idea and go for it because otherwise you spend 10 hours of research, and then it just falls flat, which is can be demotivating
Austin Schlessinger 28:01
definitely had threads where I've spent a ton of time. And I'm like, this is the one like this is gonna blow up. And it just doesn't perform. So it sucks. But I have created systems to reduce the amount of times that that happens. Or I've tried to create systems. And what that looks like is that when I'm going to write something, there's kind of two things that are two options for what I can write about. It's something that I've done. So my personal experience, and I'm only 24. So I don't have too much experience, or it's something that I'm looking into, or it's my my opinion. I'm not an expert in anything right now. So I can't speak to like, you know, I, I'm a startup founder, and I've raised $100 million, here's how you can do it, too. I can't do that kind of thing for what I can do is like, Hey, I've spent, I've spent, you know, 10 hours researching this, the startup story. I know the nitty gritty details, I know more than the average person and here's the story. So it kind of starts with that. What have you done? What's your opinion on something kind of process and then from there, there's certain templates that I've seen, just through scrolling through Twitter that do very well. And once you kind of start being more cognizant of understanding and finding these templates, you see them everywhere. So if you follow like a group of people, or if you just scan Twitter, and you look at the things that have gone viral, you'll see consistencies in the thread for formatting in terms of what is the hook look like? For those who don't know, the hook is like the first the first tweet, how is it structured? What makes it engaging. And then there's other nuances in that, like in the thread, and I'm talking specifically about Twitter just because that's what I know. Like, instead of numbering things, you use bullet points, or there's lots of formatting things that make things more readable, that you'll start to see as you start being revised and trying to look for these templates. So like, tactically, it's, you know, what I want to write about, the next thing is, hey, here are these templates. How can I, how can I fit that into that? Because I know that this format is has worked in the past. And because it's worked in the past, it's likely to work in the future. I'm not sure if that answered your question. But that's kind of how I think about it.
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 30:54
It did. Thank you so much. And before we finish, maybe a hyper tactical question. But some people love hashtags on Twitter, while others say they don't matter anymore, therefore, amateurs and all that. What's your perspective on hashtags?
Austin Schlessinger 31:12
I don't use them.
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 31:16
Is it for a conscious reason? Or did you notice it with big accounts? Or like, how did the decision come to be?
Austin Schlessinger 31:24
I did a bunch of research on how to build an audience on Twitter. And there's nothing that says to use hashtags. I know in other platforms, it might be advantageous. But just from doing that research and noticing that none of them were recommending using hashtags. And then also looking at the people whose accounts I enjoyed, and I kind of want to model I wanted to model my account after none of them. Were using hashtags either, so I just never used it. I don't really know why. But just because other people aren't using them was enough for me to say, Yeah, you know, I'm not going to use them either.
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 32:13
Thank you so much. And it now you know, to finish, can you just share about your mission right now what you're working on? Where can people find out more about you, and I'll make sure to write your Twitter in the episode description.
Austin Schlessinger 32:31
Awesome. So what I'm working on, or my mission, I'll start with that is to help 1 million people live healthier. So what that means is not only like your physical health, but your, your mental health, your social health, vocational health and your financial health. And I can dive into those if we if we want to, but health across various domains. So that's kind of my mission. The way that I'm doing that is that I write Twitter threads. And I also run it write a monthly newsletter on the first Friday of every month, kind of breaking down each of those categories. And where you can find me is at Austin Schluss, on Twitter.
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 33:19
Thank you so much, Austin, this was my privilege, my honor. And I wish you a great day. Keep going. And again, to confirm it for the people who might not understand the work involved in this. I think you mentioned your ghost writing for two accounts. Correct. Three accounts. Okay, so are you spending 1010 10 1040 hours a week? Researching threads for Twitter? Or how does that logistically work as well as? What's your thought about daily tweeting? So what's the purpose of daily tweeting compared to threads?
Austin Schlessinger 34:03
I think it's really up to you. I think that individual tweets are a great way to test the ideas behind threads. So if you have a larger idea, and you don't want to put a ton of research into it, and you want to test it out, boil that idea down into one tweet, and share it once, maybe share it, rewrite it and share it again and see if your followers engage with it. And then if there's traction there, then write a full blown thread. I've experimented with a lot of different cadences in terms of like how often I'm doing individual tweets versus threads. I've seen the biggest bang for my buck and pouring my time into an individual thread and distributing it to a bunch of people. You know, I'll write it out and I'll send it to a bunch of my friends be like, Hey, here's my latest thread. I think you'll like this, and hopefully they'll engage with it. So That's kind of where I've seen the biggest bread and butter. But I've also seen a bunch of accounts do very well with individual tweeting. But personally, threads have been the have been the most impactful for me, in terms of like the amount of time I'm spending on ghost writing, I think that the, the average is 10 hours, I would say. And, you know, I spread that out, I'm always working on the weekends. But I don't mind that, because I've really enjoyed doing it. So I think you could probably crunch that down, I could probably crunch it down and be more efficient with it if I had the right systems. But right now, that's kind of how much time it's taking me.
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 35:43
Thank you. Again, this was fascinating. And I wish you to keep going. And this is really cool. You know, to think about it in this way that we didn't live in a world where you can get paid well for writing tweets, and suddenly, you know, nowadays, we have so many opportunities to live life in a way where we maximize our strength, that to our parents or grandparents will sound totally insane and incredible.
Austin Schlessinger 36:17
Yeah, it's so funny, like, explain to my parents and what my friends like to my friends what I do, it's hard for me to explain what I do at Deloitte to people, like I was at the dentist last week. And that's like, Oh, what do you do for a living? And I'm like, I'm an innovation strategist at Deloitte. And he's like, what's deployed? What's innovation strategy? And I'm like, I can barely explain this to you. I don't even know how to explain to Twitter ghost writing. But you're right. It's, it's crazy. There's so many different ways to make money. And the one thing about writing is that the medium might change. But writing will always be valuable. You know, whether you're working in a corporate setting, or a startup, I know. There's always value in writing a good memo, writing out a good process, telling a story. So I think if I can leave this podcast with any setting, if you don't have a daily writing habit, I would highly recommend starting to write more frequently, because it'll create a ton more opportunities for you. If you're publishing online, it'll help you clarify your thinking. And it's a great way to just put your mind at ease. And it's a great like meditation tactic. I've learned that if I have a bunch of stuff going on, if I sit down at the keyboard and type away for 30 minutes, it can solve a lot of my problems, and they can chill out a lot of it.
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 37:43
I agree 100%. Some people say that you cannot think in your brain because it jumbled up but externalizing your thinking on paper by writing, then you can look at it, examine it and actually think properly, rather than be confused. Again, I've been I love this, we could go on forever. But I respect your time. I know you're be back to do your research and writing and all your important work. So I wish you a great day.
Austin Schlessinger 38:16
Thank you so much. And thank you for having me.