Mastering the Art of Failing
Mastering the Art of Failing Podcast
The Road to Leadership Was Built on Failed Management: The Story Behind This Series
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The Road to Leadership Was Built on Failed Management: The Story Behind This Series

Season One, Episode Zero: Alex and Elliot look back on the founding of their non-profit and the subsequent fizzling into nothingness.
Transcript

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It’s nearly the holidays, which means it’s the perfect time to release the story behind the podcast. This week, Alex and Elliot revisit how they initially met, the time they conducted a coup that resulted in the launch of a non-profit, and why iffy managerial tactics resulted in a leadership mindset that they still follow today.

Oh, and there was also that time they had to duke it out with the mayor of DC who was trying to take their name.

This is the story of the birth and disappearance of Digital District.

TL;DR

  • The founders of Digital District, Alex Love and Elliot Volkman, reminisced about their experience with Social Media Club DC and the subsequent creation of their own non-profit.

  • They realized that their ambitions extended beyond what the club could offer and saw an opportunity to create something bigger and more impactful.

  • The duo conducted a Coup d'état, with a core team, and launched their own non-profit. They had their sights on world domination.

  • Alex and Elliot recognized the value they created through Digital District but acknowledged the need for a more sustainable structure and a clear succession plan.

  • The non-profit fell apart, falling into the ether.

  • Their experience highlighted the importance of establishing a solid foundation, fostering leadership development, and seeking guidance from experienced professionals.

  • Building a successful organization requires not only passion and vision but also strategic planning, mentorship, and a commitment to continuous growth.

Learn, Detach, Transcend

Being a manager is a title given through roles you accept, but becoming a leader is something you choose.

As far as terrible examples go, managing is similar to herding chickens. It’s the system where you desire to push a flock together, but you can easily become too focused on the specific pathway each of them takes (micromanagement) rather than encouraging them to find their own path.

In agile project management, we borrow from a martial arts concept called Shu-Ha-Ri. It’s where you balance the art of management and leadership skills to guide people to a better version of themself be it in work or in life.

Shu - You learn something new by following the rules. Typically someone trains you to do something.

Ha - As you gain more experience doing something, you start to deviate from the rules as you identify areas of improvement and how you can optimize things.

Ri - With enough experience and broken rules, you are now prepared to share your knowledge about a better way of doing things.

Or put it more simply: Follow the rule, break the rule, become the rule.

Unlike management, leading is entirely about empowerment. You provide the resources and motivation that align with a vision and set them off on their own path. You remove barriers, provide air coverage, and connect people.

Reflecting on a past life where Alex and I built a non-profit focused on expanding our community's knowledge around marketing, communication, and branding, we gave ourselves the title of manager. We were young and never managed more than a couple of people, but we found ourselves with 30 extraordinary personalities who were mission-driven to build with us. This eventually ballooned to well over 80 people contributing at different levels.

While we did build a massive community in DC, we had greater ambitions to expand this concept worldwide. A model that could be stamped and repeated if we found people hungry enough to build their own communities.

But we didn't make that happen. The system was over-prescriptive, and when we attempted to hand off our proof of concept, we were too blinded by the paths people should choose rather than embracing the chaos and allowing them to make their own way. It created a scenario where we could only move forward if we were focused on managing, which was not aligned with our vision. Thus, Digital District slowly unraveled, we stopped hosting events, and the community moved on.

The Birth of Digital District

Alex and I met during our time with Social Media Club DC, an organization focused on exploring the potential of social media. However, we soon realized that our ambitions extended beyond what the club could offer. We saw an opportunity to create something bigger and more impactful, especially as Washington DC's startup scene began to flourish.

Internal Politics and Lack of Support

Internal politics and a lack of support from the larger entity became significant challenges. We found themselves at odds with the club's existing leadership and felt the need for a fresh start. With a successful vote to rebuild the organization, we embarked on a journey to reshape the non-profit. However, we eventually realized that there was a lack of experience and mentorship necessary to navigate the complexities of building a self-organizing, community-centric business.

Lessons Learned and Moving Forward

Despite the challenges, Alex and I see significant value in what we achieved through Digital District. We became subject matter experts, speaking at various events and gaining industry recognition. However, we recognized the importance of establishing a sustainable structure and a clear succession plan to ensure the organization's long-term viability. Regrettably, our efforts to expand led to the realization that relinquishing control of the core team was necessary. Micromanagement hindered our potential, and ultimately, our momentum dwindled.

On the positive side, amidst all the poor management decisions made, there were at least a dozen beneficial ones that brought our community together. Ultimately, this situation provided us with a leadership course that no MBA could offer, even if it was a bit messy.

Show Transcript

Mastering Failing uses automated tools to create a transcript of our show. Please excuse any typos and hallucinations that we’ve come to love from our new AI overlords.

Alex Love: In 2011, I moved to Washington DC and joined an organization called social media club, which is where I met Elliot Volkman about a year and a half onto being into the board, we decided that it was, not the right organization for us and we may or may not have staged a coup.

So we decided to start our own organization called digital district. That's probably how a lot of you guys know us in the DC area. We ran that organization successfully for about two or three years, had a pretty big following, but honestly, at the end of the day, it was a failure. We didn't really get to accomplish the goals that we had set out to.

And so about 2016, 2017, we ended up dissolving it and moving on. But my name is Alex Love. And right now, me as the head of marketing at Reva Solutions

Elliot Volkman: My only objections, do we actually have a proper direction for what we were building? I know we were building this really cool thing filled with, lovely community of hungry people. We were nipping at the heels of whatever DC tech, whatever their thing was, which we could never compete with.

But yeah, do we ever put on paper? This is what our goal is.

Alex Love: If you count our taco nights at the New York State, then yes, we absolutely did have a lot of goals in mind. I think the biggest one that we probably failed at was monetizing it. And honestly, the, the bigger plan was right to, to have it, go not global. That's ridiculous. But, but it was national, right?

We, we wanted to go and expand outside the D. C. area. We had a really good hold in D. C. We thought we had a cool board that would be able to continue in our absence. And we, you and I set our sights on other cities. And that just, that failed miserably.

Elliot Volkman: That's why we have these conversations. If it happened like 10 minutes ago, then I'm not going to remember any of it. So you know what? Maybe this is the fail and I don't have to dig into the absolute dirt hot mess that I'm going to go into maybe in a minute too. But before we jump into it.

Alex Love: episode. That's its own episode.

Elliot Volkman: Oh, yeah, that's fair.

We do have a potential guest which aligns with that. So maybe I'll just slide that in there. But, So to kick this off, what, what are we doing here? This is a new podcast. It is our pilot series. So we're going to have a few episodes with some wonderful guests. Essentially mastering the art of failing is designed to have.

Vulnerable conversations with people who have been in your shoes may eventually be in your shoes. But essentially, these are people that we see on face value as successful. Their CEOs, executive startup folks who have, raised funds. They can be athletes, but, the. Success does not happen overnight much to what we would love to see happen unless maybe we have like mommy and daddy's money to bankroll whatever ideas that we have but failure, realistically, I think is a step that just comes along every path that heads towards success.

So that is what we're doing. We're building conversations. We're trying to enable vulnerable conversations with those successful people. So that's it. My name is Elliot Volkman. I, along Alex, did have a hot mess of a non profit and maybe a little bit of a coup, which is generally entertaining but you probably know me more as a cybersecurity brand builder, a tech reporter, And I guess a podcast producer because now I'm in three different podcasts.

So that's fun. Anyways that's us. That's the context. We'll be inviting some folks on. So we're going to make this a little bit of short episode, but we do want to, I think it's only fair that we dig into our past. I don't think there's really much of a scab there because we did meet a lot of wonderful people.

I think there was a lot of great outcomes. And that's again, some of the purpose that we're going to be focused on, but. Yeah, maybe we let's dial back. Let's let's go back to the days of SMCDC. And all the lovely people there. I was probably the most introverted person in that group. Somehow we shifted around different titles.

You were president, then I became president. God only knows. But yeah, where was your intro point? Like, how did you get into it?

Alex Love: Yeah, good point. So I moved to D. C. straight after college. So I got here in 2011 and because it's insanely expensive to live in D. C., I ended up just outside. So I was looking for excuses to get into the city because I knew that I would eventually, when I could, my salary wasn't my entire rent, right?

I knew that I wanted to be in the city. And because all the internships and things that I had done in college, like I was the quintessential, you're young, you must know how this new social media thing works, right? So I spent pretty much my senior, junior year of college taking on all these internships that were, in comms, in grants, in trying to figure out marketing, right?

And they were all social media based. So social media club seemed like a natural sort of fit for me to say hey. These are other young people who, understand that social media is a thing. So let me just join the board here. I think I joined on the sponsorship committee. I really wanted to be on your committee, which was like digital, right?

Like the cool one, cool kids around digital, but the easiest way to get in with, with sponsorship, cause no one wants to go out there and sell the organization, like bring in vendors and things. So super easy to get in. Joined that for a while, met some really cool people and eventually got more and more in depth with the organization, right?

I think we, you and I, at whatever point we ended up linking up a couple events in really started to put some shape to it. I think Rachel King was at the helm when we, when we first were there. And so I think at some point she departed and that probably left a pretty big hole for, some leadership to come in.

And I think that's when you and I started talking about hey, what's the next evolution of this thing? Because really the, on the sponsorship side, when I was out selling, when you tell people you're a part of a club, it doesn't sound that professional. It doesn't sound that cool. And especially in a town like DC where everyone's a fed, everyone, works in these very serious industries.

But social media was something that we were like, no, guys, listen up. This actually has some legs to it. It's not something that you should be giving to your intern. This is a growing field. We do need to put some professional development and some money behind it. So we really wanted to put more legitimacy, I think, behind what we were doing, behind what social media and the power could be.

I sound so old because social media is such

Elliot Volkman: Yeah this is who even uses this crap anymore? God.

Alex Love: This is like decades ago, talking about the beginnings of social media. But I think that's where the original idea of Digital District came about was, we're still the same organization doing the same thing, but we wanted to break away from, the larger genesis of this, global club that wasn't really giving us too much and then really removing that name club because we were just, getting stonewalled in certain places that were like, cool, you're a college club that's great, you guys are doing cool work.

Elliot Volkman: Yeah, I think on paper, jumping ahead here, but in DC, it actually meant something to a lot of organizations. If it was on your resume, and you, participate, and you were part of it, people will recognize it, they go to our events, I don't know how big events, they could be small, somewhere 20, we've had Other ones we've done career fair and we had a ton of people.

So there was definitely a lot of brand recognition that came eventually. But when we had like social media club of DC, it's just it was very inclusive just to the people who showed up. So I, I think there's a lot of credit to what was developed there. But maybe we, do you want to dig into the fun dirt part?

Like I, I'm more than happy to, cause I dealt with a good bit of it, but yeah, there were reasons we, we shifted the brand and focus and not just on social media too. We expanded to other aspects and ended up basically being like the modern day, focus on just marketing as it would be today. Maybe not quite as hefty.

We don't talk about like the unhinged marketing tactics that you see on like TikTok, but that's, that's what it would be if we were doing a round today.

Alex Love: yeah, that's fair. I guess we would be doing doing a lot more tic tac dances if we had

Elliot Volkman: No, absolutely not.

Alex Love: 15 years ago. But yeah, God digging back into ancient history, though, we definitely had internal politics. That was a part of it, too. We had a president at the time who, who

Elliot Volkman: yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Scratching that memory again.

Alex Love: Didn't have a good reputation, I think, across, had burned a lot of bridges, wasn't doing us any favors in terms of actually stepping into that leadership role. So I'm pretty sure we voted him out sitting in the basement of Rocket Bar. Do you remember that?

Elliot Volkman: Oh, I certainly did. Wait, is that the one that had weird teeth on the wall or was that something else?

Alex Love: it was the one in Chinatown that was like the basement that we walked down into. Yeah, that served absolutely no food. We had a lot of meetings there for some reason.

Elliot Volkman: that one, that sounds about right.

Alex Love: yeah, yeah. But we like rewrote the bylaws to write him out. And essentially voted him out. And I think he walked out of that meeting being like, screw you guys, I'm out.

So the plan worked essentially because we're really good at paperwork, we found out, um, between all the things we pulled between, how do we actually, pull away from this larger organization incorporate our own organization, put the leadership helm in that we need to be able to make these moves.

But yeah, internal politics you the Was definitely a piece of it. And then just absolutely no support from the larger entity, I think was a big part of it too. It's cool to have this large global network of stuff that's happening, but when they're not providing you any value and they're just taking money from you to be a part of their membership, like why would we continue to pay, pay that?

We could do a lot more with those, a couple hundred bucks or what have you a month to put on happy hours, get more speakers in the door do cooler things with our network.

Elliot Volkman: Yeah, and I think realistically, those two actually had an intersection point of why we switched from SMCDC over to Digital District and founded our own thing, which was, it was like a fun club and we had nice gatherings, but. Yeah, we did have aspirations to build something a little bit bigger, which again is why we're focusing on this particular topic to kick this off.

But yeah, we wanted to, evolve this something larger to have actual groundswell where there was value and importance. And you're not going to get that out of just like beer and an occasional talking head in front of some people.

Alex Love: Yeah, because at the time DC had such a swell of like entrepreneurs and tech, and it was really this like big push to say DC is more than like federal contracting, right? There is a cool startup scene here, and so we were a big part of of that under, the waves of that. It's like, how do we ride this with all these cool entrepreneurs coming to town, all these access to startups?

How do we latch on to that community? So that was a big part of it too.

Elliot Volkman: Yeah. And I think to be, I don't know, I want to be slightly more. PCNR and so we didn't just rip this thing out of existence I think reality is like we just left it behind. So that other say a faction I don't know they could have retained it and they did it and I think actually someone tried to rebuild it at some point while We were doing our thing But that all said I think the reality is we ended up creating something that provided more value than what was out there yeah, it was basically just people out of college wreaking havoc, trying to create a company, essentially.

It, it definitely got bumpy outside of the fact that on the groundwork of what we built, just, it was people at an inexperienced level trying to create something massive, that doesn't necessarily always work out unless you have guidance. And while we did have wonderful people that sponsored our stuff help initially, be part of that, I don't know, we had paying member, annual members at the gate, but we didn't have people like, our experience level to be able to help guys do that.

And I would say that definitely contribute to some messy situations, which maybe reduce the longevity that would have allowed it to become something else. Because.

Alex Love: Yeah, no, I agree with that. The amount of situations I found myself in that I was like, why are people listening to me at the time? I was like, I'm 2524. I had a we have that lecture series at a university, like one of the huge company invited me in to give their social media talk. The amount of legitimate places I found myself being called like a subject matter expert and being like asked to come and be invited to Participate in some of these things like it blew my mind every time I would walk onto the stage and be like, I am so young.

I have no business being up here being treated at this level. But at the other side, it was so cool because it's look at this thing that we built so quickly. And just to go back to our original point of the power of social media, right? We did it all through Social media through networking through community, building through personal brands that we had at the time So it was like wow, this actually does really work I'm a proven example that I'm up on the stage talking to you guys about this I'm 25 and I have no business to being here But here we are It's the magic of digital district back in the day

Elliot Volkman: I, I will say the functional experience that we had in the roles that we were talking about. I think that obviously had value because we wouldn't be invited to NASA panels to talk about social media. Functionally, we could chat through that any day of the week. We could focus on the ethics and being authentic and similar stuff that I'm, I definitely use every single day today.

But yeah, structurally. Yeah, definitely. An organization that is built basically on the backs of volunteers, including ourselves. We know we got paid. It, it definitely did not have the foresight dealt into where it would have been successful. I also maybe selected their own non profit scenario where we couldn't even even accept donations.

Cause it was a non profit based membership organization. So you're only able to do memberships and kind of sponsorships. So it's just like a funky setup. I don't know. I never set up like an LLC before. So what, how the hell do you navigate that?

Alex Love: like a C4 or something, right? We were like, a membership org. So yeah, that definitely was a weird structure choice looking back at it that maybe that wasn't the way for us to expand into other cities because we were so reliant on membership fees and how much money is someone actually can give us to be a part of this organization, right?

It's just a professional development organization at the day. You participate or you don't, you get out what you want. So it didn't give us a lot of leeway to make investments or, go out and do the work that we needed to do.

Elliot Volkman: Yeah, exactly. And if we look, unfortunately, again, I think this is like that lack of experience and lack of mentorship and guidance pieces. Just, you don't know what you don't know. So we took what we knew and we try to build something out of it. But there are organizations today, obviously, that are community centric that have memberships.

Some have fees, some don't, but there are other functional things where there are revenue that allow them to grow and expand and invest in what they're doing. So I don't know if it's a product marketing alliance or whatever they call it, but there are different organizations that do similar things in scope to what we were trying to do a decade ago that now have like certifications and all these education programs, all these things that could have been what we did, but

Alex Love: Looking back, there's definitely a different way I would have approached it today. I'm sure we would have been a lot more successful had we taken this on, today, given what we know and the experience that we have versus, 10, 15 years ago when we were just like, this is fun. Let's figure it out.

People just keep coming for some reason. So we're like, we got something here. Let's just write it.

Elliot Volkman: yeah, exactly. And then I had the, I think, bright idea of, hey we get all these people asking for consulting help and freelance help. Maybe we'll just build this mini agency scenario. That won't, that, see, that is the complete fuck up on my side. Excuse the language. This is not rated E for everyone.

But yeah, I was just like, yeah, we get tons of that. I can't do it all. I got a day job. There's only so much side work I can pick up. But yeah. When you try to tag people in because they were members and like contributing doesn't necessarily equate to people who are well experienced to hand them over and be like.

These people are great here, but did they do great there? Not necessarily I definitely ran into a lot of that

Alex Love: that was true. I forgot about the agency side, so that was definitely true on the agency side, but that was a big part of the failure of why the organization was really built upon You and I, right? Like us going above and beyond in these roles and really doing a lot of the work with support from a ton of other people, but we did not have the succession plan that we needed to be able to step back, which I think was our plan was like, Hey, we've got DC rolling.

It's in a good spot. We just need to empower somebody else, hand it off. Step and repeat in these other cities. And as soon as you and I started to pull back, we were like, Oh, wait a minute. There was a really big difference between the quality of volunteer that we have that are, managing the social feeds or like reaching out to speakers or doing smaller jobs, and we had never trained or prepared anyone to really step into either of our roles to be successful.

And so that was really where it was like. This is starting to fall apart, and we're either gonna stay in this DC chapter forever, and this is just gonna be something that you and I do literally for the entire rest of our lives or, the whole thing is just gonna start to fall apart.

Elliot Volkman: Yeah. And I, I want to make this clear that that's not like on anyone else's head. That's us.

Alex Love: Oh, I just voted for us.

Elliot Volkman: we, it was, if we're creating something and we made it our baby, and obviously we Like, we had a lot of core people who really made stuff work, and I'm not gonna start running through names but we love them all.

But I think the reality is just if we're invested, it's hard for, it's the same thing with a company. If you want people to show up and put in their best effort, that's why there's stock options and equity and all that stuff. We obviously don't really

Alex Love: Yeah, I know that, right? We were like, come do this for free.

Elliot Volkman: equity in something that made no money. To share that vision? I think, again, there's that mismatch of we just didn't have some structure where there is that potential. I think the best that we ended up having is there was that brand recognition. People respected what we did, so it helped, but today I would never hire an intern and not give them money.

And it is a similar scenario. It's like we grew up when it was just like, we work for free. You, you, you grind through it, you create your own shit if you have to, but yeah, it's it's different now, even then it's still you're not going to get people fully invested in something like that because there's no reason to, there's no money, they don't really see there's going to be direct connections because it's a gamble.

I get it. There's only so much free time you have and we're all like young, young, dumb idiots and we're just getting hammered around D. C.

Alex Love: Yeah. I will say, a lot of the connections that we made back then are legit I work at Riva now, and that is because of a connection that I made at digital district. I don't know if you remember this, but when we used to have social media day and that huge party back in the day, one of our original sponsors was Riva solutions.

And that was right when they were coming up, they were doing a ton of digital work. And so I met our CEO, Naveen. Years ago, right? He was one of our sponsors. And so we lost connection. We're still connected on LinkedIn. But when I was looking to make a job jump a couple years ago, saw they were hiring, reached out, and he remembered that, right?

He came to our staff. He knew that's actually part of the reason why I do events at Reba, right? Just because he knew that I had

Elliot Volkman: Sorry.

Alex Love: I know, right? It's a lot of work, but, but that was a cool connection that it's you never know who you're going to meet at these things. 10 years later, this manifested into a job and it's a place that I love.

So I, I have that, SMCDC and, and digital district to thank for that.

Elliot Volkman: Yeah, I, I totally agree. So I think this is a really good pivot point to, it was a hot mess. We did have a lot of fun. Structurally didn't really go an amount to anything in particular. And obviously you made some connections to get you where you are, but what did you take away from those scenarios?

I have a laundry list and I, I will ramble a minute, but yeah, let's, let's go into yours. Obviously connection got you to a, high, a powerful position in A well-equipped role in the heart of dc

Alex Love: Yeah. Yeah. That's obviously the big one, right? Is, is having a lot of external leadership to show that, yeah, maybe I'm still, in the front half of my career, but still able to step in and get that buy in that you can come and build and build this department at this startup or this small company, right?

Because we know we've seen you do it before. So experience was, was a huge part, we weren't getting paid for it, but it still and was get into to business school, right? When I wanted to do those interviews, um, we were still, I think, very convinced that we could have taken this thing and monetized it, and so that was my pitch going in was, why should you get into business school?

What are you trying to do with it and was able to leverage the story and the success of digital district to say I don't know what I don't know, but I know that there's a lot that I don't and business school seems like the place to learn it. I'm like, let me in. I want to learn. I want to be an entrepreneur.

This is, a track record that I'm already on. So I think those are probably the two biggest things that I got out of it. For sure.

Elliot Volkman: Yeah, that makes sense. And I think the biggest one for me is really just like the leadership is a weird word 'cause I don't think you can like self apply that, but it's more like managing of people. At our age, we had no. Business necessarily managing 30 plus volunteers, which ended up at some point ballooning up to 80 volunteers that would float in and out.

All right, so I think realistically the biggest benefit that I got out of it outside of you know We built a non profit and no experience doing that is you know old I was at the time Mid 20 low 20 something but I had no business really managing people and you know Having 30 to 80 different volunteers at any point that that is a lot of people to managing out and taking into account again that This is a volunteer based organization.

There's no money to be able to persuade and encourage them to be part of this thing that would benefit them without any monetary benefit is a pretty big thing, but yeah, I absolutely take that into account for how I manage my teams today and my freelancers and anyone I interact with because, There are obviously some people and I think it's healthy to have this mindset of a monetary connection to what you do because the job is job, but, I personally don't necessarily take that approach and I just model whatever that is to each person individually and what they look for.

So some people are just absolutely hungry to attack things and keep going. They will work horrible amounts of hours. I do not encourage it, but that's how I function and then there's other people who show up and get their shit done, show out hell. Yeah, but I think be able to find balance for your folks and be able to encourage and, push them to their, where they want to go.

That's all you really can do. A lot of that is what I actually picked up probably through DD and managing the army of volunteers. We had,

Alex Love: Yeah, that's a good point. We had so many different types of personalities right on that team, like tons, like big ones, little ones, weird ones. It was all across the board and definitely people that I wouldn't have interacted with or even probably worked with in an environment because everyone had different day jobs, right?

Car salesman. We had people who were in comms. We had people who just liked it. We had people who worked on the hills. So it was a really diverse group of people. I had a diverse age group too. A lot of us were in our early 20s, but we had people all the way up into their 40s, 50s who were helping with things.

Yeah, it was a really good lesson in, like, how do you manage, how do you encourage, how do you sell this vision, which I think I've definitely taken with me, too, as now a manager and, part of the senior leadership team of, I have to interact with a whole bunch of different people from different backgrounds all the time.

I now have a Gen Z on my team, which is the hardest management challenge, right? They're just so different. Again, making myself sound really old, but yeah, critical leadership and management skills that we got for free. I guess not for free. If you can hear all the hours we put into it, but experience that we wouldn't have gotten, at that age at our jobs for sure.

Elliot Volkman: Yeah, totally. And then, outside of that, it's just pretty obvious, sTructurally building something like that is pretty chaotic, and I tend to thrive in chaos now because of those scenarios. You build events, you know on the surface what people see. They like to see all the cool, pretty things, but like in the back end, we're freaking going absolutely crazy, running around with our heads cut off because of a single thing.

That we know is wrong, feels the world is falling, but again, no one on the outside sees that. It's a, those kind of situations have definitely, probably made us a little more level headed.

Alex Love: Which is probably why both you and I thought it was a good idea to start this with you with a new baby and me six month pregnant. When is a better time to reconnect and start something new with a new parent and a soon to be parent?

Elliot Volkman: Yeah, hey, it's just conversations, that's what editing's for, the mute button. One day, she'll be able to hear these horrible podcasts with her crying in the background and be like, Oh, look at me, I'm a, an influencer, right out the gate. Or she'll kill me, but we'll

Alex Love: she have an Instagram handle already or no? You're

Elliot Volkman: No, we're doing none of that.

From the days that we started in social media, I absolutely do not like social media whatsoever anymore. I will consume it I very transparently will fall into a TikTok rabbit hole God knows what weird stuff's on there. But, yeah, I don't like social media anymore. And functionally,

Alex Love: because I feel the same way. You tw we were huge on Twitter back in the day. I'm obviously off Twitter and definitely not on X. I Will post the occasional Instagram post, I'll post some stories, but it's really just me at the gym or like my dog. Those are the only two things that I get posted.

And yeah, I have a TikTok because I have to watch the content, right? It's still very much a part of my day job. And I think the information on there can be good, right? I've learned a ton of stuff about is this normal for my pregnancy? And all the things, coming my way with the new baby.

But I have never posted and I probably will never make a TikTok. Now I leave that to my team to be the, the more hip, cool people that I'm like, yeah, whatever you guys need you let me know it's trendy and I will participate.

Elliot Volkman: It's a good thing. I'm producing this on our behalf because I'm gonna have to create a TikTok account and post our videos on there. At least like little clips. That that's our audience people who are hungry for stuff. Not necessarily the

Alex Love: I haven't had an excuse to, let me say that. And also working in the federal contracting space, obviously TikTok is not the place where we're posting our content. Steal a lot of trends from TikTok and we post them on Reels, because that is the appropriate place for government contractors to be.

So yeah, I keep up with that. Although I will say I don't get trendy content anymore. I really just get other pregnant women complaining about... Being pregnant, essentially. So my feed is, I'm like, okay, I get it. Like the algorithm, like we know I'm pregnant. I could go back to some dogs or some cool content at a new point.

So hopefully soon maybe we'll return.

Elliot Volkman: Yeah, I'll send you some weird stuff that shows up in mind. So you can start getting into the weird parts of it.

Alex Love: The algorithm. So I get it back.

Elliot Volkman: Yeah, there's this guy, I don't know, he has a terrible username, but it's called Pissed Off TV or something like that. I don't know, I think he's... In France, but he just has this long fork and he'll sit in a diner and start eating people's food.

It's so weird. That, that is the side of the internet that I'm on. But yeah, like you and like the federal space where it's a little iffy, people don't really like that. Cybersecurity people, they do not like it. You will be shunned! I don't know. I will maybe point our first episode towards my current audience because I run a cyber security podcast and they'll be like, what the fuck is all of this?

This is not at all the same thing. And then they'll be like, sorry, we're not listening to either of these anymore. Goodbye. Yeah, so we'll see how that goes out. All right. So I think this is about does it for our first episode. We'll keep it nice and short. It's going to be a little bit bumpy of a ride for those of you joining, if you listen to my current podcast, you know how that first season started off, that is pretty much where we're going with this.

So we're going to find folks who, again, on face value are decidedly successful be it CEOs, founders, athletes, anyone in between and we would love your recommendations for people that you would like us to have conversations with. Who you feel would be comfortable being vulnerable about how they got to where they are.

And that's it. We're just gonna pick at these situations, help de stigmatize the concept of failure, and basically re scope it to help people understand that That's just how this stuff works. That's how the world works. You cannot typically get to a finish line without a whole lot of bumps and things that just were unexpected along the way.

So that's it. That's ST up. Hopefully like what we're going to put together for you. Maybe give us some feedback along the way and that's it. Alex, you want to sign us off? That's it. That's the exit. Perfect. Print it. All right. Thank you all for listening. Alex, appreciate you letting me rope you into this as with everything else that I've done in the past. Hopefully I'll actually get a proper plan together with you so that we have a focal point and we can say in a few years, Oh, we actually did that, but we'll see.

Alex Love: be re com having this conversation, talking about our podcast on our next podcast.

Elliot Volkman: 10 years when we reboot this and no one listened to any of these episodes be like, that was it. That was the

Alex Love: It'll be something different, though. It'll be like virtual reality, or we'll be in the metaverse or something,

Elliot Volkman: Oh, yeah, totally. We'll, we'll be in the matrix again.

Alex Love: Yeah, that sounds right.

Elliot Volkman: All right. Thank you all for listening. Stay tuned for the next episode.

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Mastering the Art of Failing
Mastering the Art of Failing Podcast
Join your hosts, Alex Love and Elliot Volkman, as we dismantle the stigma surrounding failure and empower you to transform these challenges into opportunities on your own journey forward.