Paul Carrick Brunson is an awesome guy who also happens to be the first full time black male matchmaker. He is the creator of One Degree From Me, a matchmaking and relationship coaching service that caters to African-Americans and is popularly known as the Modern Day Matchmaker.
Paul's gotten tons of buzz about his company including a feature in Black Enterprise and penning relationship articles for Essence. When I learned about Paul, I knew I had to interview him because I wanted to go a bit deeper to learn about his background and how he grew his brand online so quickly.
In this interview, Paul & I chat about:
- His background before creating One Degree From Me
- How he decided on focusing on the African-American dating niche
- His different revenue streams and his business model is
- How he uses social media and has grown his Twitter following by nearly 1000 per week
- Actionable advice for someone interested in starting or growing a business
- And tons more
Hope you enjoy!
Audio Only Player
Paul Carrick Brunson bio
In the last 3 years, Paul Carrick Brunson (also known as The Modern Day Matchmaker) has become internationally recognized as one of the most successful matchmakers and relationship coaches. As the pioneering African-American matchmaker in the world, Paul has served over 267 clients directly and collectively through live events and social media, matched over 3,000 people on dates.
Paul’s unparalleled ability for successful matchmaking and coaching comes from really knowing and understanding his clients and their needs. Like his clients, he is cultured, well traveled, well educated and trained – he holds a graduate degree from a top business school, as well as additional certifications. His professional career started as an investment banker and most recently included a senior position with a top international firm. He is also a philanthropist who co-founded and chairs a foundation that focuses on school rehabilitations in the U.S. and Jamaica.
Awesome interview I’m sure it’s going to be today. I’m chatting with Paul Carrick Brunson. Now, for the two or three people out there who don’t know Paul, Paul is known as the “Modern Day Matchmaker” and he is the creator of One Degree From Me, which is an online matchmaking service. I wanted to bring Paul along to learn about his background and experiences and hopefully take some lessons that we can apply to building our personal brands and businesses online.
Hey, Paul, how are you? And welcome to Grind & Thrive.
Paul Carrick Brunson: Torrey, I am great. Thank you very much for having me, man. It’s an honor to be here.
Torrey McGraw: Awesome! Awesome! And I really want to learn more about you and some of the things that you’ve done pre-One Degree From Me and then right now you’re doing to help build that brand. First off, for anybody who doesn’t know what the Modern Day Matchmaker, which you are online, as well as just One Degree From Me, can you kind of briefly explain what that is and what you do?
Paul Carrick Brunson: Sure, sure. So One Degree From Me is our holding company if you will and that holding company includes several different businesses. The largest is the Modern Day Matchmaker that you mentioned and that is our matchmaking and coaching company. So I am, believe it or not, the first and only full-time black, male matchmaker in the world.
Torrey McGraw: You’re kidding!
Paul Carrick Brunson: No. I’m for real, which is amazing. Like when we started this in ‘09, you know, I thought there had to be a couple out there, but we found out that not only am I the first but I’m the only that exists. So we do matchmaking and coaching. We also, another division that we have is called the Quarterly, which we own now the largest urban black, I’m sorry, the largest urban speed dating company. It’s predominantly African American professionals that come to these events.
We also have another live series called Modern Day Matchmaker Live, which is kind of like The Tonight Show where we come to various cities and we do that. And then we also have launched a media company and our media company we’re getting into production so that’s documentary/film production, TV production. We’re also doing a lot of radio as well. So all of that is housed within One Degree From Me.
Torrey McGraw: So I guess it’s safe to say you’re pretty busy these days.
Paul Carrick Brunson: Oh, man. You know, I think we’re all busy. All of us entrepreneurs are really trying to leverage every second of the day. And so I’m kind of busy, kind of busy.
Torrey McGraw: Absolutely! Okay. So let’s start out. I don’t know if you — I don’t think you started out wanting to be matchmaker. Let’s just talk about that for a second.
Paul Carrick Brunson: Sure.
Torrey McGraw: What were you doing prior to creating this company, One Degree From Me?
Paul Carrick Brunson: Sure. I mean you bring up a really good point. At no point ever four years ago and before would I ever have thought I would be a matchmaker, like that was the last thing probably that I would put on my list, and it’s just incredible how the evolution of our life will go.
But, you know, I really started off in finance. I did investment banking when I got out of school. That then led me to a career in of all things animal shelter software where I started a business that created animal shelter software. We ended up selling that into the education business right where I worked for Kaplan test pep for a number of years. And then I got back into the finance/education business, working investments for a very wealthy family that invested in educational assets.
Torrey McGraw: Okay, okay.
Paul Carrick Brunson: So I did all of those things before becoming a matchmaker.
Torrey McGraw: What was it about — let’s start off you started out as an investment banker. What was it about being an investment banker that kind of drew you to that field?
Paul Carrick Brunson: The money.
Torrey McGraw: Okay.
Paul Carrick Brunson: You know, I’m not going to make — I’m not going to — Torrey, I’m going to keep it 100 for you.
Torrey McGraw: Please do. Please do.
Paul Carrick Brunson: I saw investment bankers with nice Rolex presidential watches and driving BMWs and wearing phenomenal fly Gucci suits, and so I said, “That’s what I want.” And that was the decision and that was a decision that I won’t say I regret because I think all experiences are experiences that we learn from and that’s how we become who we are, but it’s something that if I were to go back, I can’t necessarily say I would do over again. But that’s the reason why I did it. I can’t think of anything else other than that.
I will also add this. I did it for everyone else but me, right?
Torrey McGraw: What do you mean?
Paul Carrick Brunson: Well, you know, when I was coming out of college, when I came out of college I had really good grades and a lot of people were saying, “Hey, Paul, I’m sure you’re going to go on and do something big.” What’s big? At that time, investment banking was the hot thing, and so I remember a lot of friends, a lot of family members saying, “Yeah, that’s what you should do, investment banking.” Everyone is moving to New York, becoming investment bankers and going off to Harvard after that, and I felt like that was just what I was supposed to do. I had no passion for it whatsoever but that was me doing things for people other than myself.
Torrey McGraw: So if you were doing that for everyone else, then who were you doing the creation of the pet software company? Who was that for? Was that for you? And why did you start that then?
Paul Carrick Brunson: Yeah, that was for money again, you know. That was at a time where a lot of business — that was the .com boom if you remember right all that and so that was when a lot of people were raising a lot of money. Money was easy. I remember literally, we raised $100,000 sitting down at dinner with someone and literally on a piece of paper or on a napkin we wrote our ad hoc business plan and received a check for $100,000 that same week. It was a totally different time, and money was a lot freer then. And so literally, I was trying to build something to literally flip it and sell it.
And I learned something very valuable doing that business is that while I am a moderate animal lover; my wife and I have two cats; I’m not passionate about animals, and I learned with that business that you cannot, you cannot excel in business, in any particular type of business that is, unless you were passionate about it, and that’s the one lesson that I learned from that experience.
And I will say that I probably would not remove that experience. Even though it wasn’t a pleasurable one, I probably would not remove it because I had to learn first-hand that you need to be passionate about what you’re doing.
Torrey McGraw: Absolutely! Okay. So we learned that the pet software, you know, a good idea in the beginning but did it for the wrong reasons, got the business plan started but then kind of scrapped that, what next? You said you went to Kaplan I believe. Was that the next step or where do we go from here?
Paul Carrick Brunson: Sure, sure, went to Kaplan. But, you know, I want to make one note though about the animal shelter software. It is it wasn’t necessarily “bust.” We ended up selling that company.
Torrey McGraw: Okay.
Paul Carrick Brunson: But it was one that it wasn’t like the passion wasn’t there. But as you mentioned, the next step was Kaplan test prep. So Kaplan was an interesting experience because I have always been involved in mentorship, in tutoring. I did Big Brothers, Big Sisters when I was in college. I was always involved in the community and so Kaplan was an opportunity for me to exercise these two worlds that I loved — business, being able to lead a center. The center that I led in Washington D.C. was a big center. At that time, it was about a $7 million a year center so it was like me running my own $7 million a year business.
In addition, I was able to exercise this passion I had around education and empowerment and leveraging education for empowerment. So it felt like it was a very natural fit, a very natural combination.
Torrey McGraw: How do we get to — I mean these are a lot different places from the education to matchmaking.
Paul Carrick Brunson: Yes.
Torrey McGraw: How did we close that gap?
Paul Carrick Brunson: All right. So there’s actually a nice bridge.
Torrey McGraw: Okay. Let’s hear about the bridge.
Paul Carrick Brunson: And you know what the bridge is? The bridge is the Bosphorus Bridge.
Torrey McGraw: Okay.
Paul Carrick Brunson: You know where that is? Torrey, I’m going to put you on the spot. Do you know where the Bosphorus Bridge is?
Torrey McGraw: I don’t. You’re going to have to educate me.
Paul Carrick Brunson: The Bridge over the Bosphorus, I’m sorry. It’s the Sultan Mehmet Bridge but it’s the Bridge over the Bosphorus. It is the bridge that connects east to west and so that’s the bridge in Istanbul, right? So literally, Istanbul divides Europe and Asia, and so Turkey is the connection, is the literal and figurative connection between the stories.
So when I was at Kaplan, I ended up meeting a very wealthy family from Turkey and they ended up bringing me to Turkey so I ended up going and visiting them in Turkey and striking a really cool deal with them that allowed me to create a foundation that I’ve always wanted to create. So they were able to provide funding for this foundation.
In addition, I went on to work for them and to help them to grow their assets outside of Turkey. So it was 2003 that I left Kaplan and I joined them. The name of that company was [0:10:46] [Indiscernible] Educational Institutions. It’s a Turkish word but it was a remarkable experience and it’s that experience that led me into matchmaking and I’ll tell you how.
It’s because I was working for this Turkish family from 2003 until 2008 so for five years, and so for five years I had the opportunity to travel all over the world. And I would typically travel with people that did not speak English, right? My boss, the head of this family, he did not speak English; but yet, we were able to communicate very effectively for five years.
But here is the interesting thing is that at the end of the day, we all shared three bits of commonality. One is that everyone loved to talk about politics no matter where we were in the world. Secondly is we all loved to talk about sports no matter where we were in the world. And third is we all talked about relationships.
Torrey McGraw: There we go. That’s right. That’s right.
Paul Carrick Brunson: No matter where we are in the world.
Torrey McGraw: Okay, okay.
Paul Carrick Brunson: And what I’ve found is that at the end of the day when the business was done, the conversation would typically switch to one of these three topics, and when it switched to relationships, I was the go-to for questions. “Well, Paul, you’re the married guy. What do you think about this?” or “Paul, what do you think about this?” And I found myself reading more and more about relationships and providing just this off-the-cuff advice on relationships.
So then we fast forward to 2008. And remember, this family had funded this organization for me, this non-profit, and so the non-profit had been running for a number of years. We were providing on-the-ground academic services for underserved youth in D.C. and also in other states like Georgia.
And in 2008 we ran a summer program in D.C. and this is the moment that changed my life. We’re running this summer program in D.C. We have 100 students in this summer program. I was actually working the registration table. Not one of the 100 students that came across my registration table said that they had two parents in the household.
Torrey McGraw: Not one.
Paul Carrick Brunson: Not one. And it completely moved me and I just couldn’t believe it, and I saw how it impacted them throughout the summer psychologically, socially, academically. And I remember talking to my wife about “Well, what could we do to help strengthen this, to develop this?” because these were mainly black and brown students.
And so this led me to creating these basically single mixers that my wife and I used to have at our house where we would invite people over to our house and they were singles and we would have, you know, it will be a good time of people having an opportunity to meet. And this became successful and popular, and so I remembered thinking to myself, “Well, let’s start attending some of the conferences in the love and mystery and see what other people are doing.”
And the light bulb moment, the moment that created One Degree From Me was at the end of 2008, I went to a matchmaking conference in New York and I was completely shocked to see out of the 250 of the top matchmakers, relationship coaches, all of the people that support the love industry, shocked to see not one person in the room under the age of 40, not one person in the room that was black, and maybe 5 out of the 250 men.
Torrey McGraw: Wow!
Paul Carrick Brunson: And that was the moment when I thought to myself, “Wow! There’s something here. There’s opportunity here especially in the African American space, love space.” And that’s when the light bulb came on.
Torrey McGraw: Interesting you say that because I’m just thinking when you mentioned that the first time, and you mentioned it again, about not seeing any African American matchmakers or at least black male matchmakers. I’m trying to process in my brain as you’re mentioning it. I can’t think of any — and most of the relationship advices that I can think of that are geared towards women oftentimes came from websites or magazines for women and so you’re absolutely dead on there.
So once you realized that and that light bulb, that a-hah moment came to you, what did you do?
Paul Carrick Brunson: Well, I know you have a lot of entrepreneurs and business folks that watch this so I think it’s important for me to mention that as soon as I realized this was something I was interested in, I began planning strategically a capital allocation to support the startup of this business. And I think that’s an issue that a lot of entrepreneurs run into is they come up with these great ideas but they don’t have the capital to execute on the ideas. So I put away the capital, right, to execute this idea.
So literally, what happened is the idea came up and we started developing the idea a little bit more. I stopped working for the firm in Turkey and then I spent literally the entire year of 2009 studying, and literally, I studied. So I went to every matchmaking conference I could. I became certified as a life coach. I went and did training under Rachel Greenwald who I consider to be the top matchmaker in the world. She went to Harvard Business School and I went out to Denver to train with here. I consumed every book I could from anthropology to biology to sociology to anything on human behavior as related to relationships, and really just spent time honing because of what you just said. You mentioned about others giving expertise.
And what I realized in a lot of what I was reading online, and even watching a lot of the talking heads, was that a lot of it was knee-jerk reaction advice. A lot of it was I went through these problems and so therefore, I’m going to tell you about what I would have done differently. And that information is good but what’s better is when you can dig deeper and look at the sociology or the psychology behind it. What’s deeper is when you think about attraction and you understand the biology and how dopamine and these things drive attraction.
And so that’s why I knew it was important for me to study, but at the same time we had to put the capital in place because we’re talking about not generating any revenue. So that’s what I did in 2009. It was securing capital. It was studying and preparing so I guess that’s the R&D of it and really preparing for a launch. So we launched at the very end of 2009.
Torrey McGraw: So in your research phase of that, I mean I’m sure you were aware of the websites that existed, the E-Harmonies, the Plenty of Fishes, the Match.com where in this microwave-quick society I can go on those websites in an hour, create a profile, and then find people who match my interests and that sort of thing. So seeing that information, which you are a very bright fellow as we can tell, why did you go ahead and proceed? Because you’re kind of doing it looks like the old-fashioned way, the one-on-one type relationship versus the website method.
Paul Carrick Brunson: Yeah. In a sense I am. I’m doing it old school. Nothing wrong with old school.
Torrey McGraw: Oh, no. Old school music, I just tweeted out yesterday I was listening to Christopher Williams’ Promises, Promises, so absolutely.
Paul Carrick Brunson: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Old school is good school, but we’re also mixing it up with some new school flavor if you will.
So I think it’s important to realize that the love industry is big. It’s over a billion dollar industry. According to who you talk to, it’s growing at anywhere from 10% to 20% a year. It’s probably closer to 10 but it’s growing. But what’s most important is that the technology is proliferating at such a rate that we now are accepting the utilization of these tools, and what I mean is that there’s very little stigma now that comes with online dating, right?
But think about 5 years ago, or actually 3 years ago, when you said you were using an online dating site, it’s like, “What!? Torrey is using an online dating site? Do you believe this?” Like this guy is a whack for doing this. But now, it’s cooler and not only are all these online tools becoming cooler and more acceptable, but because of those things our paradigm is shifting and offline things are becoming more. So this is the reason why you see a resurgence in speed dating for example. This is why you see singles events becoming popular again. This is why you see different ways for us to connect becoming popular.
What we are doing with One Degree From Me, the vision is we are a conduit for people to connect, for good people to connect, and that’s ultimately what we’re about. And we do that in a variety of ways. We do that old school through our offline matchmaking and coaching. We do that online. We’re the very first people to matchmake via Twitter. We use Twitter as a platform to matchmake. We do that online by leveraging video and web series to engage and interact with individuals. We then flip it back offline with our Flow Dating events which are kind of like speed dating events. So there’s a variety of kind of product and service that we’re leveraging, and so it’s a mix of old school and new school the way that I see it.
Torrey McGraw: Okay. And so that’s the way you kind of — that’s the approach you took to separate yourselves from the competition, and plus, like you said, it can’t hurt that you’re a good-looking guy, a good-looking black guy at that, that I mean so you’re saying, “Let’s keep it real. Let’s keep it real. Let’s keep it real.”
Paul Carrick Brunson: Write them a check.
Torrey McGraw: Yeah. How big a part has your looks played in attracting clients and people to your brand and building your brand online?
Paul Carrick Brunson: Well, this is the first time I’ve ever had that question, Torrey, but I’ll say this, man, is that there’s no doubt — I was actually at an event last night speaking and I said that we bet on the jockey and not the horse.
Torrey McGraw: Right.
Paul Carrick Brunson: That’s how we operate. So we operate in business, non-profit, for-profit. That’s how we really operate in life as it comes to people and ideas. We bet on the people. And I think that what is important is that when you’re in this space and what has really differentiated us in this space is that I’ve been married now. This is my tenth year of marriage. I just had my first child. My friends and family that know me since I was little know about my values. And so I think our ability to not just talk but walk the talk is something that people resonate with and they appreciate.
And that’s not me knocking folks that have had trials and tribulations in their relationships because I have as well, but that’s just saying that when people look at One Degree From Me, I think what they’re doing is they’re betting on me, and that’s something that humbles me and that’s also my drive to continue to be passionate about the work and to be diligent about the work and be really good about the work. So betting on the jockey and not the horse is something that I buy into as well, and when people do that with us, it really humbles me.
Torrey McGraw: So if they’re betting on you, so you’re going to have to establish trust with these folks because I mean when you start dealing with people’s emotions and plus you’re trying to help them with a need that they have and their need is finding a mate, and then you’re still on the other hand, I mean I don’t know how much you’re trying to do this for free, but I assume you like to get a check every two weeks or however, you know.
Paul Carrick Brunson: Yeah.
Torrey McGraw: So how do you balance that to make sure, “Hey, I’m getting paid but I don’t want to come off scammy; but then also, I still want to help these people with their desired needs”?
Paul Carrick Brunson: Well, I think that’s a challenge that every single service provider and I’ll say professional service provider has in the world, and what’s interesting is that we as professional service providers really have to get good at this because as each year goes by, we as Americans abdicate more of our responsibilities to “experts” now, and so that’s something that is not just a Paul Brunson issue or a love industry issue. It’s a global, global challenge.
Now, how you do that is I think that you have to go back to what my man Gary Vaynerchuk says all the time, and that is that we are in — you know, actually, just right here on my iPad, the first book — I just got my iPad last week. The very first book I purchased was Gary Vaynerchuk’s Thank You Economy. And in this book, you know, I’m only — sorry, I’m only like a chapter in, but in this book, he’s really talking about how we have to truly appreciate our customer, our consumer.
So it’s not so much that “Hey, buy this, buy this from me” but it’s “Let me make sure that you are getting the answer to your question, and whether or not you end up buying a product or service from someone else, the fact that I care about that you getting that answer is the most important.” And so the point there is that we truly have to care about our consumer.
Now, how do I convey that? Well, what’s interesting is that on Twitter right now, our Twitter following has really been growing.
Torrey McGraw: I saw you had about 13,000 I believe I looked.
Paul Carrick Brunson: Yeah. You know what’s crazy is as of today we have almost 16,000.
Torrey McGraw: Oh, wow!
Paul Carrick Brunson: Yeah. It’s growing at over a thousand a week right now, and I think the reason for that is I spend literally — I block out segments of my time every day now and I literally sit, answer questions via Twitter, and I put out a substantial amount of content.
Now, a lot of my friends in the coaching and the matchmaking industry say, “Paul, what are you doing, man? Are you crazy? You could be charging hundreds of dollars for that.” But the point of the matter is that ultimately, I have to make sure that the base of folks that follow me, that ultimately their questions, their needs, their answers are being taken care of, and that I truly care about that happening. So if that is me is giving out free content, if that is me answering a call at 8 p.m. on a Saturday when I could be doing some stuff with my family but then answering a question pro bono, that is me conveying that passion that yes, I care about you and I want you to succeed in your relationship.
So while we’ve been doing that, that’s a philosophy that we started, and I’ll tell you something interesting. We have never spent one penny on advertising; but yet, there is a waiting list for our matchmaking as well as our coaching services. Almost every Quarterly event that we do, our big speed dating event, it gets sold out prior to the event happening.
You know, all of these wonderful things are happening and I don’t think that they’re just happening. They’re happening because we are being very diligent and very methodical about making sure that we care about what’s happening to everyone, to our followers, to our consumers. So ultimately, I think that’s the answer is that I think that we have to go back to what Gary says and we have to really care and we have to live in this thank you economy.
Torrey McGraw: Absolutely! Let’s focus for a bit more about social media and then I want to talk about just your business model overall.
Paul Carrick Brunson: Okay.
Torrey McGraw: So you talked about you’re growing your Twitter following about a thousand followers a week now. Now, I’ve noticed yesterday, I kind of peeked in to the Modern — hold on, let me see, the Modern Day Matchmaker Wednesday event. Let’s talk about that and what that is, how that contributes to building your following online.
Paul Carrick Brunson: Yeah. You know, it’s interesting that you mention that because that’s probably the number one catalyst behind why we get such a pop in Twitter. I think it’s interesting. With these Web 2.0 tools, what’s very important I believe is that we continue to innovate and innovate and innovate and push the envelope, and not necessarily utilize tools as they’re prescribed to us, right?
And so with Modern Day Matchmaker Wednesday, it came that it was a fluke. It honestly was I was on Twitter on a Wednesday at noon, I just was on the phone with my brother, and at that time I had 2000 followers, and this was the end of last year. And he said, “Paul, man, you have 2000 followers. That’s a lot of followers.” He said, “You know, I’m new to Twitter. Can you help get me some followers?” So I said, “Okay, I’ll do that.”
So I go on to Twitter and I said, “You know what, good man alert, good man alert.” And then a couple of people said, “Good man alert? How do I know he is a good man?” And I said, “Well, he has a job.” And they said, “Well, where does he works?” I said, “This is where he works.” They said, “Well, does he go to church?” I said, “Yeah, this is where he goes to church.” They said, “Well, how tall is he?” I said, “Well, this is how tall he was.” And it continued on and on, and then ultimately, the question was, “Well, let me see a picture.” I thought, “Hmm, okay. I’ll show you guys a picture but let me wait a little bit. Let me give you a little bit more about him before you just make the decision off the picture.”
So long story short, I end up showing the picture, and within seconds, the picture had a couple of hundred views; and I realized right there that that was something special, so I said, “You know what, folks? I’m going to come back next week. I’ll have rules and I’m going to launch this thing called Modern Day Matchmaker and I want to see how many of you guys come back.” I did it the following week. It’s been growing ever since.
We’ve had celebrities now that have come on as bachelor and bachelorettes. We’ve had athletes do it. We’ve had good people in the community do it. It’s been a large drive for us. And what I have learned about that, and as it impact social media, is that it’s very important for us to listen and to innovate, right, so to listen and not necessarily use the tools as they’re given to us, but to listen and to innovate.
So we actually just launched something that I’m very excited about. It starts next week. It’s the first book club on Twitter. So it’s called Modern Day Matchmaker Book Club. We’re reading a book. I’m sure, Torrey, you’ve read this. We’re reading Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People.
Torrey McGraw: Absolutely!
Paul Carrick Brunson: Yeah, yeah. It’s a great book, and so every Wednesday at noon, every other Wednesday, I’m sorry, at noon, we’ll be discussing that book for the next month.
Torrey McGraw: Okay. So you’re really utilizing these platforms to engage, just not talk to. You’re listening, you’re interacting, and that over time is really number one, built trust, built your following and built your brand. So that’s great to hear.
Paul Carrick Brunson: Thanks. I appreciate it, man. I appreciate it.
Torrey McGraw: The business model, how you make money, let’s talk about the different ways under your brand, the Modern Day Matchmaker, you’re actually making money. You don’t have to tell the amount because that’s irrelevant but just how do you earn money through your brand.
Paul Carrick Brunson: Sure. So first, I want to say that I think there’s a lot of different philosophies around startups and revenue models. There is the one model that a lot of people subscribe to and that is “Hey, focus on one thing, do that well, and then you start introducing slowly other revenue models, oh, I’m sorry, other revenue streams.” I say that “Hey, when you have a mortgage and you have a new baby, you better be bringing in the money anyway you can.” So that’s the model that quite frankly that I use.
So when I broke down those categories to you earlier as far as approaching a matchmaking or offline events between the quarterly and the live events, our media company that we’ve started, every single one of those we generate revenue from. So every single one of those we generate revenue, and I think what’s important is that folks have as businesses, they have multiple revenue streams, multiple revenue streams.
And the reason why I think this is important early on is because we are innovating so fast. The dynamics of business, especially social media, is moving so quickly that you don’t know areas that you can truly leverage. I’ll give you an example. So I never knew I would be in matchmaking right now, right? I’ve never been a part of a business financially that’s grown as fast as this business. I never thought.
Last year — let’s look at a more granular case. Last year, this time yeah, I was matchmaking but never would I have thought, “Yeah, I’ll be using Twitter to matchmake.” Now we’re using Twitter to matchmake and businesses are willing to pay to sponsor our Twitter matchmaking sessions. Revenue stream right there.
So my point there is that always be open. Always listen. And I think that it is important to experiment to early on with multiple revenue streams.
Torrey McGraw: Absolutely! You’ve been on a host of websites and blogs. You’ve been Black Enterprise I believe. On Essence I think you’ve had interviews and written blogs and advice columns and that sort of thing. How did that relationship begin? Are you reaching out to them? Are they reaching out to you? Have you hired a publicist to do this on your behalf? Can you share some of that?
Paul Carrick Brunson: Sure, sure. But I’ll say this, and once again, I’m being very forthcoming with you, is that when we first started — when I say first started, it’s literally the end of 2009, beginning of 2010 — we hired a publicist, and what was interesting about that experience is that it didn’t work.
Torrey McGraw: Okay.
Paul Carrick Brunson: Right? And what was fascinating though is I remember talking to a lot of people about whether or not, you know, people that were building brands whether or not they utilize or they had publicists and most didn’t. I’m talking about B list celebrities that were booking their own stuff. And I realized that ultimately, if you were the — not only do you need to be the CEO of your business, you need to be the CTO, the chief talking officer of your business. And sure, there could be administrative things that need to be done, but when it comes to pitching, no one will pitch you better than you.
Torrey McGraw: Give me an example. I’m sorry to cut you. Give me an example without throwing the person under the bus of why it didn’t work. What was something that just you hoped would go underway and it didn’t go? Or what was the root cause of not working out with the publicist?
Paul Carrick Brunson: You know what, it really could be my issue as it relates to expectation. I have very, very high expectations, very high, and so when expectations aren’t met that’s where you get displeasure. And there were certain instances where I thought there would be more exposure and I think that at least for me, the layman, you look at okay, well, if we do event A then we should have — there should be ten media hits. We should see 20 mentions of the event or et cetera, et cetera. And that wasn’t materializing.
But then what was happening is as the year was going by, I noticed that unprovoked, people were coming to us. So all of those folks that you mentioned, those were all entities that actually came and approached us. And literally, we got to the point at the end of the year and we’re at the point now where it’s a blessing where every day we may receive four to five “media inquiries” and we’ll decide, “Okay, which one should we take? Which one should we take?”
And so that happened organically and the lesson for me was really two-fold. One is that while I am the most impatient person on earth, it does help to exercise a certain amount of patience in certain areas of your business. There are certain things that you just can’t get day one, right?
Torrey McGraw: Like what?
Paul Carrick Brunson: I mean you can’t come out of the gate day one and think that you’re going to have, you know, like you’re going to be on the cover of Black Enterprise, that kind of thing. I mean that doesn’t happen, all right? You have to exercise patience in certain areas of your business. Other areas I think it’s critical to be impatient but you have to exercise patient. That was one thing.
The second thing that I realized is that ultimately, we are all in the content business, every single one of us. What you’re doing right now, Torrey, with your program which I love, I think this is hot.
Torrey McGraw: Thank you.
Paul Carrick Brunson: This is a great, great, great idea is that you are putting out — hopefully, folks think this is good content, at least my side, right? Everyone knows your side is good.
Torrey McGraw: Right.
Paul Carrick Brunson: But you’re putting out good content. Content truly is king and what’s great is that it’s so accessible now that the good stuff goes up here and the bad stuff drops out. And so the good stuff that’s floating up here, we all want to get access, more access to it. And so this is the beauty of Web 2.0 and this is the beauty of where we stay. So as it relates to public relations, is that the folks that I think are putting out really good stuff or innovative stuff, they’re always going to be the ones that are contacted. They’re always going to be the ones that there’s interest in.
Torrey McGraw: Absolutely! Absolutely! I just wrapped up the interview that I posted today actually, the day that we are conducting this interview with Johnica Reed and I asked her, “How are you getting these hits? I mean you’re in Ebony in May and you’re on Huffington Post and you’re getting all these inquiries to get you to write something” to the point where she is having to turn them down. I said, “How do you do that?” She said, “I build relationships. I put out great stuff and they know when they need something, essentially, they know they can come to me” which is exactly. So I’m glad you are following up on that point.
Paul Carrick Brunson: Can I mention something about Johnica?
Torrey McGraw: Sure.
Paul Carrick Brunson: I don’t know if you know this but Johnica is a good friend of mine.
Torrey McGraw: Okay. No. I didn’t know that. Wow!
Paul Carrick Brunson: Yeah, she is, and this is the other thing that maybe she didn’t mention, but I think this is also important, is that because of social media, right? Tom Freedman said the world is flat, right? And basically, he is saying that it’s incredibly small and we can access people, but social media makes it that much smaller.
Torrey McGraw: Absolutely!
Paul Carrick Brunson: And what’s interesting is that it is so easy, it’s very easy to “check” someone’s credibility or their validity. Is this a good guy or not so a good guy? Is he a hustler or not? Is she a hustler or not? And what I have found is that good people also rise to the top. Johnica is good people. I know Johnica going back to my foundation when we talked about 2008. She had reached out to me to work pro bono with my foundation. That’s when I first met her, so phenomenal person. So part of the reason for her success is because she is also a good person.
Torrey McGraw: That’s great. And actually, another tie-in, she is from Fort Worth. I live here in Dallas Fort Worth area here in Texas. So interesting, you know, really small world here.
Paul Carrick Brunson: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.
Torrey McGraw: Wrapping up, this could go on all day. I see we’re at about 42 minutes. Great information. I think everybody is really enjoying this. If you had to give a piece of advice for anyone building a business right now in this age where you say content has to be good, people can check us out, social media, any bits of information or advice you can give to somebody wanting to start a business today?
Paul Carrick Brunson: Sure, sure. A couple of things. One is that be passionate. Make sure that you’re passionate about what you’re doing. I learned that through the animal shelter software that you can’t deliver a business; you can’t be in it for the long haul, for the long term; you can’t stay up repeatedly till 4 a.m. and then wake back up at 6 a.m. if you’re not passionate about it. You have to be willing to believe your business. So passion is definitely important.
Secondly, and I guess I’ll just throw out three. Secondly is that capital is very important. A lot of people have asked me, “Paul, you’ve grown fairly quick in the last year. How have you grown so fast in the last year?” Part of that quite honestly was because of capital. Being able to supply your business with fresh capital at the start could literally make the difference between your business making it or not. So having a strong early startup plan, capital allocation plan is important.
The third thing that I’ll say, and this is very key as it relates to your comment around content and content being king, is that make sure that you are an expert, but your expertise is granular and specific and you’re not necessarily a generalist. I think that there are so many generalists running around in every category. Oh, yeah, I can talk to you about this, this, this, this, this. But when you start to peel back the layers and get deep, you don’t get deep because there’s nowhere to go.
Being a subject matter expert is something that I think is underrated right now. There are so many people, especially, you know, I talk to a lot of colleges that are graduating without specific areas of focus or expertise, and I promise you that if you are at the top of any field, I mean you could be a subject matter expert on Smurfs. You could be on Smurfs. That’s how granular it could be. I promise you, you could monetize that because there’s a market.
So basically, what I’m saying is that be a master, not a jack of all trades. Be a master of your trade, and if you do that, you work out the capital allocation and you bring passion to the table, you’re going to have one hell of a business.
Torrey McGraw: Awesome advice. I really appreciate that advice. I appreciate your time. Paul Carrick Brunson, he is the Modern Day Matchmaker, the cofounder of One Degree From Me. The best way to reach out to you and say hey would be?
Paul Carrick Brunson: You know, I like Facebook so I could actually see who I’m talking to. So Facebook, I’m at PaulBrunson, you know, facebook.com/PaulBrunson. Also on Twitter, I’m PaulCBrunson on Twitter. So those are the best ways for me.
Torrey McGraw: Awesome! Awesome! We’ll be sure to link all that information up in the show notes.
Guys, thank you so much for watching another edition of Grind & Thrive. I know you’re really going to enjoy this. Leave us a comment. If you have any questions for Paul, I’m sure he’ll swing by and answer your questions in the comments section. So do that.
Guys, thank you so much for watching. Enjoy this interview and we’ll see you next time. Thanks.
Connect With Torrey