#marketing This Episode Will Help You Be More Creative In 30 Minutes

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This is a podcast episode titled, #marketing This Episode Will Help You Be More Creative In 30 Minutes. The summary for this episode is: DG is joined by Allen Gannett who's the CEO of Track Maven and author of the new book "How to Develop the Right Idea, at the Right Time." They talk about Allen's book and lessons from over 25 creative geniuses, from the Broadway team behind Dear Evan Hansen, to the founder of Reddit, from the Chief Content Officer of Netflix to Michelin star chefs. Allen shares the four laws of creative success and identifies the common patterns behind their achievement. But DG and Allen also go behind the scenes to dig into Allen's writing process, how he created the book, and the secrets (and systems) behind his massive success with LinkedIn video. Follow Allen on Twitter @Allen and say hi to @davegerhardt & @dcancel. Use the promo code SEEKINGWISDOM when you get your tickets to HYPERGROWTH 2018 and save $500 today (just $199 for your ticket). Visit https://hypergrowth.drift.com/ to get your tickets today and come see speakers like Jocko Willink, Molly Graham, Chaka Pilgrim, Amelia Boone, Grant Cardone, and more in September.

Dave: Let's do this.

Allen Gannett: Let's do it.

Dave: Okay. So first we got to do the intro. We're back for another episode of Marketing Money. Did you know we do marketing Monday now?

Allen Gannett: No, but I'm so excited for Marketing Monday.

Dave: Since Seeking Wisdom was so popular-

Allen Gannett: Yes.

Dave: No, I'm just kidding. Seeking Wisdom grew, and it's still growing. But what we heard from people over and over is," Look, we like the book reviews. We like the DC rants and lectures." We have a core audience of a lot of marketers and a lot of salespeople-

Allen Gannett: A little more practical.

Dave: Yeah. And they're like," But where's that stuff?" And we're thinking of new channels and we're like, wait a second. Audio is a format that we're already very comfortable with. I can just get in here and talk about anything. We can bring on guests. And so we launched Marketing Monday, so that's what we'll do with this episode, which is perfect because you actually... Conveniently enough-

Allen Gannett: It's a book.

Dave: ...you have a book out.

Allen Gannett: That's for marketers.

Dave: You just stumbled into town today. It's great. I want to introduce yourself first and we got a lot to talk about today. Awesome. Okay.

Allen Gannett: My name is Allen Gannett and I'm the CEO of a company called TrackMaven. Are we on right now?

Dave: We're on. We're on.

Allen Gannett: Oh, this is really-

Dave: That's how good this is.

Allen Gannett: It's just rolling right in.

Dave: Are you tired of doing this yet?

Allen Gannett: Doing podcasts?

Dave: Book tours, explaining who you are, explaining yourself?

Allen Gannett: No. No. No.

Dave: Okay.

Allen Gannett: Every time my mom listens and she goes," Allen, that wasn't the best intro." I'm like," Mom, I thought we were done being critical of me."

Dave: Well, so now she knows. All right.

Allen Gannett: TrackMaven is a marketing analytics company. We basically track data from a huge variety of big consumer brands. Tell them what's working, what's not working, what sucks, what doesn't suck. And then I have my first book coming out June 12th. Okay. It's all about-

Dave: I mean, if you ask me, the book is out, because it's-

Allen Gannett: Oh, it's right there. It's in front of you.

Dave: ...it's right here. I don't know what to tell you.

Allen Gannett: Yeah, the awkward, thin, print on demand version. And basically, for the book, I was talking to all these marketers and they're all like," I'm not creative enough. I can't do it." And I was like," What are you talking about?" And it turns out that-

Dave: Can you fix this? What the hell?

Allen Gannett: Yeah, I can fix this. Hold on. For those of you listening, Dave does not know how to fold.

Dave: No, I'm not the designer in the room, so we're good.

Allen Gannett: Yeah, yeah. So basically for the book, I tackle this question of whether or not you can learn to have moments of creative genius. I'll hold the answer for later in the episode.

Dave: Yeah. I want to unpack that a lot.

Allen Gannett: Yeah.

Dave: Okay.

Allen Gannett: So it's very applicable for marketers, creatives, entrepreneurs, all of the above.

Dave: Totally. When did you start the company?

Allen Gannett: Six years ago.

Dave: Six years ago.

Allen Gannett: Oh my God.

Dave: You're a young guy.

Allen Gannett: I know, I was 12 when I started.

Dave: You were 12.

Allen Gannett: Yeah, it was really good.

Dave: No, seriously. Tell me the story about the company.

Allen Gannett: Okay. So I-

Dave: Because people want to know.

Allen Gannett: I started TrackMaven about a year out of school. During college I had started a Facebook performance marketing company, back when Facebook performance marketing was just getting started.

Dave: What year was that? That was 2010?

Allen Gannett: This is 2010.

Dave: Okay.

Allen Gannett: You nailed it.

Dave: I don't know, because I'm just trying to unwind. I love thinking about the first person to do email marketing probably was 90% open rate, 80% click rate.

Allen Gannett: Oh, yeah.

Dave: So I was just trying to think-

Allen Gannett: Back then it was so easy.

Dave: ...that's cool. So you got on Facebook ads early?

Allen Gannett: So back then you could get perfect clicks for any ad for 5 cents a click, any ad. You could be advertising the dumbest thing.

Dave: But you were in college, though. Why are you playing around with Facebook ads??

Allen Gannett: I started a company that was doing lead gen, so we were a lead gen company, which is not the most fun thing in the world. Basically, figuring out how to get people to convert on lead forums. It was literally growing up in data driven performance marketing.

Dave: Got you.

Allen Gannett: We sold that company for a very small amount of money.

Dave: Yep. Enough to get a nice jacket and...

Allen Gannett: Yeah, this is a nice jacket that I bought is ASOS crosstalk dollars. Then I took a job as CMO of a venture backed startup in town, because people were like," He's young, but he kind of gets it.:

Dave: Yeah. He knows the internet.

Allen Gannett: He knows the internet. He knows Facebook marketing.

Dave: Right.

Allen Gannett: And then from there I spent about a year doing that and I realized, one, I really don't like working for other people. I'm really bad at it. And then two, data and marketing is oil and water, but it shouldn't be. Most marketers are like," I'm a creative." But then most marketers are also like," Shit. I need to use data." And there's this weird tension there. I was like, I love data. I can talk about data all day. The whole idea for TrackMaven was, and our logo is a dog, so excuse the pun, but to be a marketer's best friend. We're the ones. We suck in all your data. We give you reports. We give you visualizations. We give you answers about what you should do differently.

Dave: Did you bootstrap the company? Did you go and raise money? You're a marketing guy. I'm assuming you weren't building the tracking software behind the scenes?

Allen Gannett: No, so we raised money right from the start. We had a PowerPoint. It was me and a PowerPoint.

Dave: Nice.

Allen Gannett: Yeah. And we raised a seed round. Then I hired a team. And then we built it. Our first customer was Martha Stewart Living.

Dave: That's awesome.

Allen Gannett: Love her.

Dave: How did you get her?

Allen Gannett: It was a random intro through one of our investors. This is a fun story.

Dave: Hit me.

Allen Gannett: I saw Martha at a cafe. I don't know her. I'm just calling her Martha because everyone calls her Martha.

Dave: What are you going to call her, Miss Stewart? Of course, it's Martha.

Allen Gannett: I see her at a cafe, this was three months ago. I go up to her. I think it's her, but it's not quite clear. I go up to her and I'm like," Martha?" And she's like," Yes? And I'm like," Just so you know, you were my first customer, and I so appreciate that." And she goes," Oh, Josephine," who I guess is her assistant," Josephine, come here, come here. Give Josephine your card. What's the company's name?" I was like," TrackMaven." And she was like," Oh, I'm sure we love it. We love it."

Dave: She's like, I've never heard of them in my life.

Allen Gannett: Yeah, I never heard of them in my life. And by the way, this was literally-

Dave: I'm sure we love it.

Allen Gannett: This was two weeks after they canceled after four and a half years of using us.

Dave: I'm sure we love it.

Allen Gannett: I'm like, oh great. Love Josephine, too. She was very kind. And she's very loving in person.

Dave: That's awesome. I want to focus on marketing, but I can't help not ask this question. This is a huge question. What have you learned from six... What year is it now? 2018. Eight years? Eight years of this company? Are you still having fun doing it?

Allen Gannett: Yeah.

Dave: Do you still get to do marketing?

Allen Gannett: Yeah. It's super interesting. As you build a company, your role changes. The company now, yes, it's six years old. I've been doing marketing as a thing for about eight years. When you first start, you do everything. And then you learn really quickly that's annoying everybody as you get bigger, because all of a sudden you have 20 people and they're like," Can you please stop doing my job?" You're like," Okay, I can stop doing your job."

Dave: But you can't not care, though. Especially if marketing is your thing, you're not going to care about how your website looks, the headline, the subject line? That feels hard.

Allen Gannett: 100%. So for me what's been fun is, as we get bigger I find pet projects to scratch my marketing itch. Some years it's been our user conference I lean in a lot. Right now it's a book. Sometimes it's been our content marketing strategy.

Dave: Yeah, that's cool.

Allen Gannett: I basically need to find something, otherwise I just go crazy and annoy everyone with...

Dave: Yeah, that job sounds fun. You just get to pick the marketing things you crosstalk. That's awesome. When did you know you want to write a book? Did you have that in your-

Allen Gannett: I started giving this talk about three years ago to marketers-

Dave: I feel like a book is one of those things where I'm sitting here like, I've seen so many people... I'm like, I could write a book. I want to write a book.

Allen Gannett: You could. You could.

Dave: Yeah, but then it comes to actually writing the book.

Allen Gannett: Oh my God, you can totally do it. It's hard but not hard. If that makes sense. So basically, three years ago I was giving this talk at marketing conferences about how marketers think creatives are just born with these magical skills. But when you actually read the autobiography of great creatives, they're like," It was seven years of very hard work. It was very intentional." They're all systems thinkers.

Dave: Also, I mean, we could talk for so long about this, but the whole art of being creative, you can't see it that's a good sign.

Allen Gannett: That was dramatic.

Dave: The whole art, you can't plan it. You can't plan it, right? It was in one of Steven Pressfield's books where he's talking about being an ad guy back in the day, and people would come to his desk and be like," What do you got for me?" And he's like,"It doesn't work like that. I need to make 10 things in order to get one that's going to be a game changer."

Allen Gannett: And here's where we go. I think people misinterpret that. When people hear that, they go," Well, I don't have that random great idea." And the issue is that when you actually look at the stories of creativity, the stories are actually... Well, sure, it's difficult and it's confusing, but there is actually some method to the madness. The talk led to this idea of, hey, there could be a book here. And then as I was working on the book, I realized it's more broad than just marketers. The whole idea for the book was what would happen if you interview 25 living creative geniuses? So billionaires, Oscar winners, Tony award winners, startup founders, super eclectic mix. And if you just ask them about their creative process, what would you find out? And it turns out there's actually a lot of interesting stuff there. So one, there's patterns. You find over and over again, I talk about in the book, there's these four things they all do. There's four things they all do that actually enhances their creativity. The second thing I did was I talked to all these academics who study creativity. Creativity is actually one of these things that is super well studied. There's tons and tons of research on what causes creativity? How do you get better at creativity? Is it nature? Is it nurture? These questions have all been answered.

Dave: Can I tell you a personal story?

Allen Gannett: I would love a personal story.

Dave: I have just in the last probably two or three years realized that I'm creative.

Allen Gannett: That's great.

Dave: Can you guess what changed in my life for that to become the case?

Allen Gannett: Okay. Someone gave you positive feedback on something creative you did.

Dave: No. No. Okay. I'll just tell you because there's no way you'll ever guess.

Allen Gannett: Yeah, yeah. This is a hard game.

Dave: I never read books. I hated reading. I hated reading. When I really started to get interested in marketing DC started giving me all these books. Old school.

Allen Gannett: He's a reader.

Dave: He's a huge reader.

Allen Gannett: David Ogilvy crosstalk.

Dave: What was amazing is, I was so lucky to have him two years ago, two and a half years ago start sending me.... He was my curator. He's like," Here, take this book." And I'd be like, okay. And I would read it and I'd be like, oh my God, this is awesome. Because I'd never read something that... I hated reading in school and in college because it never applied to anything that I was doing. But for the first time I'm reading a book and I'm like, oh my God, this is exactly what we're trying to do with our website right now. And it was written 80 years ago. I'm like, what else you got for me? And he starts giving me more and more. And it was once I started reading all those books, then I would just catch myself like, oh, I got an idea. I got another idea. I got another idea. And now it's like Popeye and spinach. The more stuff that I can consume... And Ogilvy says it in the book, you reconsume all this stuff and then you go away and you unlock your subconscious. And then you're like, oh shit. Here's what I want to talk about.

Allen Gannett: So Dave, I think we have to have a little talk, because we're now going to talk about... In the book I talk about the four laws of creativity and the creative curve. The first law, consumption.

Dave: Consumption.

Allen Gannett: So let's talk about it.

Dave: Love it.

Allen Gannett: One of the things I found is exactly what you experienced. All of these creators I interviewed over and over again had some story that went like this. This book is just falling. So here's the book out on the table. Had some story like this, like Ted Sarandos, the chief content officer of Netflix. I interviewed him. He at 18 years old got a job as a video store clerk. And he watched every single movie in the store.

Dave: Amazing.

Allen Gannett: Beverly Jenkins, a famous novelist, she lived right by a library. She was poor, her escape, she went to the library, read every single book in the library. And so over and over again, you see this trend of these creatives consume huge amounts of content.

Dave: I love that.

Allen Gannett: Huge amount.

Dave: I love it because probably Ted's right. I bet you he doesn't have a framework for creating new content, right? He doesn't have some method that it-

Allen Gannett: It's subconscious.

Dave: Just give the guy a whiteboard and it's like this, it's like this, and this.

Allen Gannett: The reason why it's actually really interesting. So basically it's cliche when you talk about creativity, talk about right brain left brain, but we're going to do it because it's important. So your left brain is going to do-

Dave: I still don't really know the difference between both.

Allen Gannett: ...logical, step by step processing. You're solving a math problem and it's all conscious.

Dave: Or not solving a math problem.

Allen Gannett: Or not solving, yeah. You're carrying the number, you're doing long division, you're doing this whole thing. And every step you're thinking about it. And then you finally get the answer. You're like, I got the answer, good for me. You're right brain is where you store more distant metaphorical associations. Think about when you're watching a standup comedian, you get the joke. That's your right brain just getting it. Unless it's Adam Sandler, then it's not funny. Your right brain does all this subconscious processing, but what's interesting is that your right brain, how it does this processing, it's not actually special. It's just different. It's just quiet. It's just that this type of processing happens below your level of awareness. And only once it finds these ideas, once it connects these distant ideas together, only then does it pop into consciousness. The thing is that people mistake this for magic. It's actually not magic.

Dave: It's funny because everyone says that, which is that idea that hits you in the shower or at the gym or on a run or somewhere else.

Allen Gannett: But why does that happen? Think about it. It's because your left brain... When you're in the shower your left brain isn't firing away and trying to answer these very present questions.

Dave: Exactly. And it's really hard. I think a lot of people struggle with the creativity part, especially if you have a busy job or something that you do is very taxing or stressful, there's a lot of stuff happening, right? It's so important to be able to step back and get away from it-

Allen Gannett: 100%.

Dave: ...because that's when you're going to have the clarity.

Allen Gannett: There's two things that really drive to aha moments. So aha moments are really well studied by researchers. And the first one is, you have to have prior knowledge about what you want to have aha moments about. So same thing where you were reading all these books, the reason why consumption was such a big pattern was you need to, if you're Ted Sarandos, watch a lot of movies to have all those mental models in place to connect.

Dave: I realized that I just actually don't like reading still, I don't. But when I do it for the focus, I say, I will read books about business and marketing.

Allen Gannett: And you go deep.

Dave: And then I can go deep. And that's when I get the good stuff.

Allen Gannett: Totally. And that's the first step. The second step is you need to give yourself the space for your left hemisphere to calm down. This is why running, commutes, drives, all these things are so important. If you don't make time for that... And what's amazing is, I interviewed all these super successful people. Literally, David Rubinstein, he's a billionaire. THey make time to think. If we don't have time to think... We're not billionaires, right? We're just these people running around. These people who have way more responsibilities, they even know how important it is.

Dave: I have this personality where I think that I have to write everything down, because I want to have good notes, I don't want to forget anything. I never want to be the person that's like," Hey, Dave, you know that thing we talked about last Tuesday?" And I'm like, what? I always want to be on top of that. I should always be ahead.

Allen Gannett: Just nod your head and smile.

Dave: Just managing ahead, right? But what I realized was, the more that I read and the more that I consume and do stuff, I'm cutting myself short on how much I'm remembering. So then I'm trying to like, hey, remember this framework of Ogilvy or this framework from DC or this other thing. And then if you asked me randomly on a Saturday morning out for a run, I'm like, oh, here's how it works. You're like, oh shit. Okay.

Allen Gannett: Totally. The thing is that when you look at all these things, we experience these as... We don't really understand where these ideas are coming from. And because of that, we ascribe all this divinity to it, but it doesn't actually mean it's divine or supernatural, it just means we don't understand it.

Dave: I love that because one of the things that DC, we talk about a lot on Seeking Wisdom, which is where this is obviously-

Allen Gannett: Can we call you DG? Is that a thing? DGDC?

Dave: Yeah, yeah, people call me DG. Yeah, yeah.

Allen Gannett: Okay.

Dave: Actually, funny stories. When I started at Drift, he sent me an email and there was seven people at the company at the time. And so basically everyone that starts gets first name @ drift.com for you.

Allen Gannett: Except for you.

Dave: Except for me. He's like," I couldn't get you dave @ drift. com." Even though you don't call him Dave, it's David. I still couldn't get Dave @ drift. com. He's like," But I set up dg @ drift. com." And so then just that became a thing.

Allen Gannett: Now everyone calls you that.

Dave: I don't know what I was going to talk about.

Allen Gannett: One of the things I think in the book that I think is really applicable to marketers, and this is a big concept, so I'll go high level and we can go as deep as you want.

Dave: Yeah.

Allen Gannett: One of the things I've found, when you look at all the studies around creativity, is researchers actually have really got a good understanding of what makes people like something, which I think is so important for marketers. So here it is. What they have found is that there's this specific blend of familiarity and novelty that drives a huge amount of preference in liking. If something's too familiar, it's boring, we've seen it, we've done there, we've been that. But oftentimes when we think about creativity we think about novelty, originality, innovativeness. But actually, we don't like things like that.

Dave: Well, if it's too far on the other spectrum... If nobody's proven it, if you go to that new restaurant on Yelp and there's no reviews, you're not going there.

Allen Gannett: Yeah. You're like, what's going on?

Dave: Exactly.

Allen Gannett: This is why Star Wars was so successful. It was literally a Western in space. It is the same story arc. There's good guys, bad guys. They're chasing into the Death Star, whatever.

Dave: No, this is really important. We talk about this a lot, which is pattern matching.

Allen Gannett: 100%.

Dave: Which is most marketers just still forget to do that. They're like," Oh, I got an idea. I'm going to make it up." No.

Allen Gannett: No.

Dave: Do you know what the great marketers do before they go and create the next video or write the next article or write the next book? They go and find other examples. It's not copying. It's going to find what has been proven, what already works.

Allen Gannett: 100%. Updating. Kanye West literally just tweeted about this.

Dave: He just tweeted about it.

Allen Gannett: Just read about this.

Dave: Yeah. And I posted it on my Instagram because I said-

Allen Gannett: I was like, oh my god, he's part of my book campaign.

Dave: Same thing. It's the same thing, right? And now it's so much so that we have this conversation so many times in the marketing team here at drift where now, if you don't go and find it, I want to know. Okay, hey, Allen, this is great that you wrote this new article. Who was your inspiration for this article? I don't have... What? Well, I would be going and looking at what headlines have already been popular? What format has been popular? What video? So that's a huge piece.

Allen Gannett: There's actually a lot of interesting studies around this with music that I think really make this point well. They basically played a song for someone that had never heard it before, and they played it over and over and over again. And what happened was the first time you hear the song you're like, what is this? The second or third time you're like, okay, this is not that bad. The 10th time you're like, I love this song. And the 15th time you're like, please stop playing Hotline Bling. We're over this. Right?

Dave: Some people, I'd say that.

Allen Gannett: Yeah, it's a whole thing. So basically what they found, this is why the is called The Creative Curve, is there's this bell curve relationship between familiarity and preference.

Dave: 100%.

Allen Gannett: The more you see something, the more you like it, but only up into a point, then you get bored and you want something new and more novel.

Dave: I actually have this in a slide. I'm genuinely enjoying this conversation, which is great. I have this in a slide for a talk that I give. I stole it from Andrew Chen who was growth at Uber. He calls it the law of shitty click- throughs.

Allen Gannett: Yes. I've seen this.

Dave: Right? I love this chart. It's a law of shitty click- throughs, and it's the same reason why, if you're any good at Facebook ads, that frequency is so important, right? The frequency is the amount of times you see an ad. Five or six is a sweet spot. One, it's not very good.

Allen Gannett: You have no idea what it is, yeah.

Dave: 10, 15, you're showing it too much.

Allen Gannett: You're done.

Dave: This is the same thing.

Allen Gannett: And they've seen this. What's amazing is scientists have studied this and they found this bell curve relationship when you look at paintings, advertising. But here's one of the things I think is really interesting. Scientists have found this bell curve relationship, but only for complex things. When something's really simple, like your logo color, like your logo or your brand colors, it's actually the more you see it the more you like it indefinitely. And the reason why is that scientists call it perceptual fluency. And it's basically the idea with things that are very simple, we basically just say, oh, we've seen it before we know it. And the fact that it's so easy to process, we mistake that for liking it. So that's why in marketing and branding, colors are so important, logos are so important. It's because these subtle things-

Dave: Is that all in the book?

Allen Gannett: It's all in the book.

Dave: Those lessons that you're talking about?

Allen Gannett: Those lessons are all in the book.

Dave: Okay. No, because it's cool. I didn't have a copy, so I didn't do a deep dive, but I didn't expect you to have so much psychology related lessons, which to me is actually... That's the most exciting stuff. The creativity stuff is one thing, but we love learning about the things that are rooted in science.

Allen Gannett: Totally.

Dave: We love Robert Cialdini's book, obviously the six principles there. Baking all that stuff into your marketing is-

Allen Gannett: The books are going in the familiarity novelty thing where I tried to do is I've read a lot of business books. My biggest hangup with business books... I love like narrative storytelling. There's usually not enough science, and every chapter just serves an anecdote supporting the original thesis. So this book, the entire book, every chapter is a new concept and it's all science supported. So there's 5, 000 pages of notes at the end, all that kind of stuff, made it a pain in the to write, but it's hopefully actually actionable.

Dave: So people can go get the book, right? Does it matter when we release this episode?

Allen Gannett: It doesn't matter.

Dave: Doesn't matter.

Allen Gannett: If you do it the week before the week of it makes me really happy.

Dave: When are you launching the book?

Allen Gannett: June 12th.

Dave: Okay. All right. So we'll do that. We'll do that, because I think it'll be a better story. So we'll do it June 12th- ish, week- ish. I don't want to give away all the book, make people go and check it out. It'll be everywhere. Amazon, I already saw the links and everything. Go check it out. I want to dive into the writing process, because I was going to ask you... I think I could go write a book right now, but it'd be like, Dave's thoughts.

Allen Gannett: Sounds great.

Dave: There would not be 500 pages of reference notes in the back. Why did you go and take on... Are you in the library doing research? where did you get all this science from?

Allen Gannett: Basically, for the book I did a couple of things. So the writing process took a while because I have a job.

Dave: I want to actually go all the way into this. So tell me, you have the idea. I'm going to write the book. Officially, I'm going to write it.

Allen Gannett: I'll start from the very baby beginning.

Dave: Yeah.

Allen Gannett: I was giving this talk. Someone was like,"This would make a good book." I was like, okay. And so then I talked to one of my friends who had sold a book that did really well. And he was like," Oh, you should talk to my agent." And I was like, okay. And so I talked to his agent, and the book world, it turns out, it's a lot like startups. There's a lot of gatekeepers. Everything's a warm intros. And so his agent turned out to be this guy who I later found out was the business book agent. He's 71. He did Marc Benioff's book, Satya from Microsoft, Eric Schmidt from Google. It was like, okay, I got the picture. I talked to him and he was like," Hey, I really like this idea, but it's not where it needs to be yet. Why don't we develop it for a few months?" So I basically started writing the book, getting mentorship and advice from this guy who is literally 71. He's one of the biggest business book agents in the world.

Dave: Writing the book, you're just in a Word doc banging out chapters?

Allen Gannett: So basically my process was, on the front end I was doing two types of interviews and one type of reading. So I was interviewing creatives. At this point I knew I wanted to write a book about how creativity can be unpacked. So I figured, okay, I'm going to interview people who are really successful. I just started cold emailing people. I had the social proof of, I had this agent who was a rock star agent. So I was like," Hey, the book's not picked up by publisher yet, but my agent's Jim Levine. He's done the books for Eric Schmidt and Mark Benioff and all these people." I got a couple of interviews that way, which was really great. And then I started interviewing academics. My whole thing was, I'm going to interview all the leading academics in creativity. And creativity is studied in neuroscience, psychology, sociology, anthropology. There's a lot of different fields that touch on it. By the way, no offense to the academics listening, but academics really like to talk about their work. So that part's really easy. And then I went and I basically pulled the papers for... Literally, this was thousands of pages of peer reviewed research on these different topics. I started putting in this giant WorkFlowy document. So WorkFlowy, for those of you who've never checked it out, is this awesome outlining tool that has infinite sub- levels so you can create outlines within your outline for indefinite times of periods. Basically, I started putting all my notes in there and anything that I thought was interesting I could put more research in and actually put it in. And so I was doing these interviews, I was transcribing them using rev. com. I was putting all the notes into Workflowy. And it started to come together. As I was consuming all this information, I started making connections-

Dave: Did you edit the transcripts?

Allen Gannett: No. I had a VA who basically took the transcripts and went through and made sure they weren't crazy, if that makes sense.

Dave: Yeah.

Allen Gannett: At that point, basically... Is this too much detail?

Dave: No, I love it. This is the detail I wanted.

Allen Gannett: Okay.

Dave: Yeah.

Allen Gannett: At that point, as the outline started coming together, only then did I start actually writing chapters. And so for the book proposal process... One of the big secrets of writing a non- fiction book is you don't actually write the book first, which is great. It's like a startup. You do a pitch deck. So you write one or two sample chapters and then you write this 15 page plan, the most important section of which is the marketing plan, of why this book, why now, why you?

Dave: Tell me about the marketing plan, though. You have to tell them, hey, we're going to email it to this 100,000 people? What do you get out of that?

Allen Gannett: So basically, as a marketer, that was the most fun part because I was like, oh, I can write a marketing plan all day. Basically, my whole plan with the marketing plan was I'm going to put so much stuff in there that it's obvious that this guy's crazy.

Dave: They're just going to be like, yeah, this is going to work.

Allen Gannett: This guy's fine. Yeah.

Dave: So tell me what was in there. What did you put in there?\

Allen Gannett: I put a list of, I think, 40 events I'd spoken on the last year.

Dave: Yep. Where you into... I want to try to go back to all of these.

Allen Gannett: Yeah. Plus a list where I'm like here's 20 I know. I put a list of the top 10 editors and major publications who I was friends with. I put a list of 100 podcasts that I can probably get on.

Dave: Shout out.

Allen Gannett: Shout out. And then I also put a whole bunch of stuff around the audience I'd built with TrackMaven and showing that, hey, this is something I know how to do, coach others on how to do. And so it was very, very actionable.

Dave: Right. And it wasn't necessarily like, on June 12th we're going to do X. And then on the July 4th, we're going to do Y.

Allen Gannett: It was just, I'm resourceful.

Dave: Can I show you that this is a good investment?

Allen Gannett: Exactly. Yeah, exactly. Basically, how it works is, you put together the proposal, and then it's a lot like VC. Your agent sends it to all these different publishers. And then you get back responses. The ideal is to have multiple. There was 15 publishers we sent it to. One was like," This is terrible." And I was like, noted. And then 12 were like," We like it. But think the market's too small," which I don't understand, but it's okay. I'm over it.

Dave: Anyone who does marketing.

Allen Gannett: Yeah. And then two were like," We love this book and want it." And so that was all it took. We ended up signing it with Currency, which is part of Penguin Random House. That's been a super cool experience, because you have an editor and there's copy editors and they have audio departments. I've just recorded the audio book.

Dave: Tell me about, then they say yes.

Allen Gannett: Yes.

Dave: And then you're sitting in your house somewhere and now you're like, oh my God, I have to write this thing.

Allen Gannett: Yeah. And so it's basically more of the same. So it was just doing more interviews, more research, more outlining.

Dave: Mentally, did you map out the whole thing? Here's the outline. And then literally go chapter by chapter, by chapter in order?

Allen Gannett: It was more of, I basically did as much research as possible, and then it organically started to come together. The book, the first half is basically disproving this idea that creativity is this mysterious wondrous thing that has no rhyme or reason. And then the second half of the book is these four patterns I found among the creative geniuses that actually are things you can do that are actionable. So as I was researching, I heard over and over again these things like," Hey, I consumed an entire libraries worth of books." And I was like, oh, this is interesting. And so that formed into a chapter.

Dave: And then are you thinking, oh, this would be a great section to have a graphic with?

Allen Gannett: Yeah.

Dave: And then you'd start drawing? Or is the editor being like, we need something that's going to show this?

Allen Gannett: Yes. The art of a book is really interesting. So basically as an author, you're responsible for delivering the finished manuscript, including all images. I went and found an illustrator who I liked, who happened to be my neighbor. I wanted a zillion images and they wanted 15. I think I sent 40 and they were like," Let's stuck with 15." And they edited out the one they didn't like.

Dave: And you put them in where you want them?

Allen Gannett: I put them in where I want them.

Dave: Also, every business book is 250 pages.

Allen Gannett: That's a thing.

Dave: So it's perfect.

Allen Gannett: That's a thing. The cover is actually really fascinating.

Dave: Tell me about the cover.

Allen Gannett: The cover-

Dave: Did your illustrator friend neighbor do that?

Allen Gannett: No, this was a different one. So the cover is one of these processes that you have as an author very little ability to veto, but you have some influence over. Because you're like, I'm going to sell the book for years of my life. The cover was one of these processes where you're like, do we make it very businessy? Do we make it very creative? What if we want to aspire to young people, old people? It turns out, guys, people judge books by their cover.

Dave: I'm sure they do.

Allen Gannett: It's really important.

Dave: Yeah.

Allen Gannett: So basically I hired this guy, Rodrigo Corral, who's a baller. He did Jay Z's book. Diaz's books, all the Chuck Plenty cookbooks.

Dave: How'd you find him?

Allen Gannett: My agent. This was, again, I'm kind of a little bit of an idiot sometimes. It was like," Oh, you should talk to this guy." And I talked to him, he was like," Oh, I'll work with you." And then I Google him and there's this New York Times article about how he's the cover guy. And I was oh, okay.

Dave: And then you use all your advanced money to pay for him to do that cover?

Allen Gannett: Exactly, there's no money. Basically, it was cool though, seeing that process because it went from, okay, do we go very, very formal? Do we go very, very artsy? And we ended up with something in the middle because we realized that this is a book that aspires to help creatives achieve great things. But also it has a lot of applicability the CMO of a big fortune 500.

Dave: Totally.

Allen Gannett: So you need to hit that crossover.

Dave: All right. I love it. I wanted to talk about that because I know you're going to 100 other podcasts and I think that they're not all going to ask you about the book process.

Allen Gannett: They're not.

Dave: But before we wrap up, I got to talk to you about something.

Allen Gannett: Okay.

Dave: I want to know your LinkedIn video process-

Allen Gannett: Oh my God.

Dave: Because this is the guy that I got this from. For the last two months this LinkedIn video has blown up, but you were there even earlier, and you were the one that DC was sending me all these videos, all these comments, all these views and you have a crazy system. Can you tell me about how you got on? Actually, I want to know all the way back. When did you start doing LinkedIn video?

Allen Gannett: Okay, the LinkedIn video story is really silly.

Dave: Tell me.

Allen Gannett: Okay.

Dave: It's always silly. It's never calculated.

Allen Gannett: It's really silly. A big part of the book is about timing. As I was writing this book, LinkedIn video came out, and I was like, oh, a big part of my book is about how anytime there's a new platform there's all this opportunity. I was like, oh, well this is meta. It was in private beta and I was thinking way too much about this. I'm not dorky at all. I had a dream. This is a really embarrassing thing. So I literally had a dream, and for some reason in this dream Jeff Bezos owned LinkedIn. Let's just go with it. My dream got confused with Jeff Wiener and Jeff Bezos. And so I was on a rooftop hotel bar. This is 100% true.

Dave: Okay. I believe you.

Allen Gannett: crosstalk that Jeff Bezos... I'm talking to him and I'm like," Jeff, you own LinkedIn, I don't know why. And you really need to give me access to LinkedIn video. You really do." And he was like," Sure, man," and gave me access. And I woke up-

Dave: On the roof inaudible.

Allen Gannett: I woke up and I was like, that was a bizarre dream. And then I was like, I should post that on LinkedIn. I bet you someone will find it funny on LinkedIn and give me access. So I posted on LinkedIn, I changed Jeff Bezos to Jeff Wiener because that part was too nuanced for the internet.

Dave: People who would normally get it.

Allen Gannett: People would have no-

Dave: You just got a thousand comments," He's not the CEO of LinkedIn, you idiot."

Allen Gannett: Yeah, exactly. So I post this and it was like," I just had a dream that Jeff Wiener gave me LinkedIn video beta access. I think this officially means I spent too much time on LinkedIn." And that was the post. And literally all these comments. And literally eight hours later, Jeff Wiener posts." No, it just means you can see the future." Smiley face. And he gives me LinkedIn video access.

Dave: He did that personally?

Allen Gannett: He did that personally.

Dave: And what, you got to email?

Allen Gannett: No, it just turned on.

Dave: That's amazing.

Allen Gannett: And then that post got a ridiculous amount of comments and likes. And so then I started posting-

Dave: You were already primed to be the video guy.

Allen Gannett: I was, there you go. It was like, okay, what can I do on video that I would enjoy, and other people would enjoy? I spent a lot of time of my life, just because I'm a customer facing market facing CEO, meeting people. I was like, I'll just harass my friends to do videos.

Dave: I love that, because what I liked about your videos a lot was...

Allen Gannett: We're going to do a video after this.

Dave: We're going to do a video after this.

Allen Gannett: That's how it happens.

Dave: They never seem to be script. They weren't scripted. And what I love is, it always seemed to be like you were at a conference and you ran into Joe Chernov and you're like," Joe, let's do a video together." And he's like," Fuck, do I have to do this?"

Allen Gannett: Yes.

Dave: Right? And then you do a video. And then you started doing all those. But what I learned from behind the scenes, DC told me this, you have an awesome system behind the scenes that made this work, which is not surprising now that I know your book process, it seems similar.

Allen Gannett: Yeah. So basically, the process is, I do these videos, I record them on my iPhone. Super simple.

Dave: Super simple.

Allen Gannett: Not fancy. I have a microphone, a Shure iPhone microphone.

Dave: Yeah. I've got one of those now, too.

Allen Gannett: It's good.

Dave: I got all the apps. Oh, that's the Baby Shusher app for Annie. But I have Deshake-

Allen Gannett: Deshake, amazing.

Dave: Typomatic.

Allen Gannett: Amazing.

Dave: Whatever the other ones, 4. 99.

Allen Gannett: What happens is, I shoot the video. We're going to do one after this. It literally takes three minutes to film. It's a 90 second max video. I upload it to Dropbox from my phone. I email it to my intern.

Dave: Which takes forever, by the way.

Allen Gannett: Yeah.

Dave: That's the worst part.

Allen Gannett: Yeah, ugh.

Dave: And then if you lose service...

Allen Gannett: Internet these days.

Dave: Yeah. Kids these days.

Allen Gannett: And then email it to-

Dave: I just wanted to say that because I wanted to make sure you didn't have some special hack, because-

Allen Gannett: With DropBox?

Dave: Yes.

Allen Gannett: Oh no, I don't.

Dave: Okay.

Allen Gannett: Okay. Maybe we should go to box. net and then-

Dave: Box. com now.

Allen Gannett: Maybe. And then my intern uses Deshake, which is this app that for$3 makes it look like you had a stabilizer, at least decently. Yep. Then we send it to this other guy on Fiverr who, for$ 10, captions it, trims it, cleans it up, sends us back a Dropbox link. And basically there's a Dropbox folder of just an army of backlog of videos. So right now I'm kind of low, which is why we're doing a video.

Dave: Okay. I have two questions then we'll wrap up. Number one is, I totally get the captions thing, but I want to... And I don't know if I should test this or not. I probably should. I feel like when I see a video with captions, though... So for a while I believe that captions is what you needed because everyone's scrolling with the sound off. But now I believe more that when people see captions they know that it's some marketing video. Where if it's me walking down the street... I don't know, maybe we'll figure it out.

Allen Gannett: Okay. So Dave, I can promise you with 100% percent accuracy, captions, mind boggling.

Dave: Okay. I'm in. I'm going to copy your system.

Allen Gannett: That's the marketing aspect. And the second aspect is-

Dave: Accessibility.

Allen Gannett: Accessibility. So two for one.

Dave: You're right. Yeah. So all my videos will start. Yeah, so... And man drinks coffee, stumbles, says inaudible. I like that system. I don't know what my second question is. Oh yeah. Okay. Here's my other problem is I want to post this video now. I don't want to wait.

Allen Gannett: You have to wait.

Dave: I got to wait.

Allen Gannett: You got to wait. Yeah. On LinkedIn, I find that the morning's the best because people are getting to work, they're rolling in.

Dave: But tactically, do you have something on your calendar that's like, today post LinkedIn video?

Allen Gannett: Basically, on Sunday afternoons I write all of my copy for the week. And then my intern posts in the morning. Because otherwise-

Dave: On Monday?

Allen Gannett: It's every weekday.

Dave: Every weekday you post a video?

Allen Gannett: No, no. I post a video Tuesdays and Thursdays, but I post something on LinkedIn every day.

Dave: Got you.

Allen Gannett: But otherwise, if I have a breakfast meet, it's just a little too much coordination to go on.

Dave: I like that. I like that.

Allen Gannett: Yeah.

Dave: All right. We got to jump. We're going to go record a video. You'll check it out on LinkedIn. You're Allen Gannett, which by the way you're @ Allen on Twitter.

Allen Gannett: Check it out.

Dave: Shout out for being early on Twitter when you were running Facebook ads back in the day.

Allen Gannett: That's not the story, but we can't say it on... There's a much darker story.

Dave: There's a much darker story, yeah.

Allen Gannett: Someone's dead. They're in a ditch somewhere.

Dave: And you stole their @ first name Twitter handle.

Allen Gannett: Yeah, I pushed them down the hill. It was a whole thing. It's just an X-rated bully cast.

Dave: All right. Allen, thank you for doing this.

Allen Gannett: Bye.

Dave: All right, we'll see you.


DG is joined by Allen Gannett who's the CEO of Track Maven and author of the new book "How to Develop the Right Idea, at the Right Time." They talk about Allen's book and lessons from over 25 creative geniuses, from the Broadway team behind Dear Evan Hansen, to the founder of Reddit, from the Chief Content Officer of Netflix to Michelin star chefs. Allen shares the four laws of creative success and identifies the common patterns behind their achievement. But DG and Allen also go behind the scenes to dig into Allen's writing process, how he created the book, and the secrets (and systems) behind his massive success with LinkedIn video. Follow Allen on Twitter @Allen and say hi to @davegerhardt & @dcancel. Use the promo code SEEKINGWISDOM when you get your tickets to HYPERGROWTH 2018 and save $500 today (just $199 for your ticket). Visit https://hypergrowth.drift.com/ to get your tickets today and come see speakers like Jocko Willink, Molly Graham, Chaka Pilgrim, Amelia Boone, Grant Cardone, and more in September.