Alex is the co-founder of Ike Media and a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Alex is the host of the top rated Green Bay Packers, Milwaukee Box, Milwaukee Brewers and Wisconsin Badges Podcast on the Apple Podcast Platform. He loves producing original music with, you can find that at Ike Music on Spotify and currently resides in Oslo Norway, where he has been working to expand the influence of the Ike brand internationally.
How has moving to Norway added value to the IKE brand and impacted you as an individual?
Well, it's been so big for the international presence of Ike. So Ike, we've always had this goal of creating an international brand. That is something that we strategically thought about from the beginning when we set up the brand and how do you make that a reality, right. So, the first step actually was, when I was in school at Madison, I was invited to an international sports conference in Switzerland. I was one of 50 international global challengers, that's what they called it, or disruptors to the sports industry because of what we did on Twitter and that kind of really just got my brain going because I got to meet all different cultures here, all these different perspectives on sports, make all these great connections all over the world. And it just felt like my time or my chapter in Europe was not over. It just wasn't that we got the conference. I had to continue to expand those relationships and the influence of the brand.
So, when I moved to Norway, it was definitely one of the craziest things I ever did. And sometimes I can't even believe that I did it. I think the word that describes it was brave but it's something that's so, I think, relatable and people have to take a chance in life at some points, whether it's starting a business or moving to a new city. And what always happens if you embrace that opportunity is good things and that's been exactly what's happened for Ike. We've been able to not only connect with athletes then in the United States but sprinters or athletes in Europe, soccer players, models, all sorts of new people and it's expanded the way I view the world. I view it through a much larger lens now, and that has been so great for my personal development as well as Ike's content strategy, it's positioning, it's brand positioning, the type of music we create. So, it really stems down deeper into the brand. It's not like I can point to one thing that it's specifically changed, but it's had a huge impact and influence on the brand. And it's brought in a ton of international listeners. That's something we're very proud of on our podcast network is that we have over a hundred countries listening to our podcasts. And so, sometimes you have to pinch yourself that you can go to Norway. And one of the best athletes in Norway is listening to your Milwaukee Bucks podcast and then you talk over that and it's just kind of a smaller world than you would imagine. But it's really helped define that Ike is not just a United States brand, it's an international brand, a global brand. It’s definitely something that I think I'll remember forever. I can speak a second language now so that's always been a personal goal of mine as well, and to learn a second language without being bilingual. That has also given me the confidence that I can learn other things that are complicated.
For someone who wants to start a podcast, but hasn't yet, why should they create one in 2022?
Because it's how you create genuine connections with people today. It's so hard in a world of social media, a world of constant small and shorter content. We're all trying to intake shorter content to really create a genuine connection with people. And the real way I first kind of got the hint was through the music we produced, is that people who listen to your music, they don't just listen once they listen multiple times and then they feel like they almost know you at a personal level. And so, podcasting is kind of a continuation of that. You can share your story, you can let people get to know you, it can be vulnerable, and that's how you grow genuine connections. I think about the last time I sat down and watched a video on YouTube on my phone for 30 minutes, it's really rare that I'll do that, but podcasting, I can ingest that in so many passive ways. I think that it's just reaching more people each day and it's very forward looking. So, if you want to set up something that's not going to disappear in five years and that will be around for 10, for 20, for even 50 to a 100 years, I believe that is podcasting. I believe that's audio based content. And so, that's why I'm so excited to encourage people to take a free consultation with us, hop on the phone with us, let us talk about podcasts, explain it to you and really how it can help your business or brand, create real revenue and value through networks.
How can podcasts really create value for B2B businesses?
For B2B businesses, it's kind of a lot of people think, oh, you know, I'm not trying to reach the customers, the C level, but the B2B it's the network building. So, if you have a podcast, for example, in the FinTech realm, getting business in that realm either requires going to conferences, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to attend these big conferences in Amsterdam, such as Money 2020, or you got to put up a lot of money, but the podcasting is a way to make that connection with someone. You can invite them, instead of trying to say, "Hey, I want to sell you something". You can say, "Hey, I'd love to have you on my podcast". You get to learn about that person. You get to connect with them, see how well you vibe, almost develop a little bit of a friendship during the show. And then that leads to business, that leads to staying in contact and it's almost like a foot in the door in a lot of ways that you can't normally get that foot in the door. I find that the conversion is much better to just say, "Hey, would you like to join my podcast; would you like to have a conversation"; rather than saying, "Hey, would you like to purchase this? Or would you like to explore this sales-oriented mindset?" So, I think for B2B they can really benefit from just the network of it, not only the network of it, but the way it can help grow your brand within an industry too. If you want to be a thought leader, a podcast is a great way to become a thought leader because you get to talk about the industry, talk about what your business does, why it's different, what makes your technical advantage better than your competitors. And, I think just getting that word out, getting that out on the internet is so beneficial. I've seen the results time and time again. That's why I always encourage people. It's not just about having a huge audience. It's also about your guests a lot of the time. Are you connecting with the guest and that's really an important thing?
Even for us in the sports world, like connecting with a player rather than just doing it for the fans of its sports team. It's to build those relationships with the players which then might lead to an N.I.L deal or something like that, which is exactly what happened for us in the case of Caesar Williams, the Wisconsin cornerback. We started off on a podcast and a lot of relationships have been built that way. So, I encourage people to also think about the relationship building potential of podcasts.
Can you share with our listeners one of your most successful or favorite networking experiences that you've had?
Yes, it actually comes from one of the first times I went to Europe. There's this common expression you'll hear from people as an invitation. It's, would you like to take a coffee? Lori, would you like to take a coffee with me? And what that really means is you just grab a coffee with that person and you sit down and you talk while you drink that coffee, whether it's on a couch in a cafe. And it's something that I just kind of noticed that these business people that I was around people that I was looking up to were using as an easy way to start the conversation because it's, if you say, "Hey, do you want to sit down and talk about podcasting?" People might put up a hesitation saying, "Hey, not right now. Maybe later or let's get it on the calendar", but if you say let's just take a coffee or something simple, it's that same weight with the podcast invitation we just talked about. It's an easier way to get your foot in the door and I found that whether the person doesn't drink coffee or not, it's just almost a casual way to invite them into your world.
How do you stay in front of and nurture these relationships that you've created and fostered?
I think Ike is a big component of it. So Ike, for those listening, we've reached hundreds of millions through social media impressions every year. And that is a way of people almost feeling like they're up to date with what you're doing in a certain sense, because Ike is so all close to our passions in the sports world, but on a more personal level, it's not always that easy, but I think it's the power of giving them like a quality amount of time, whether that's like 30 minutes or a 1 hour phone call being present during that. And that's more powerful than me consistently checking in. I do have some friends that I'd love to consistently check in and just put things on the calendars just to have conversations with. But I try to do these deeper conversations, which brings it back to podcasting. It's longer like ingested content because you're spending more time in a continuous bunch. I know myself, I have a decreasing attention span. I think we all do just as a result of technology. And so to spend that quality amount of time, maybe 30 minutes or more with someone on the phone or in person, I found that to be very, very powerful and help maintain those relationships.
If you could go back to your 20 year old self, what would you tell yourself to do more of, less of, or differently with regards to your professional career?
So I was at UW Madison. I was a software engineering student, so that's actually my educational background and one thing I think I wish I would've done more is probably in college, I think it would be to further like my relationships with older individuals at that university, or just, because college is such a great opportunity to meet people. I find that the whole reason the Ike podcasts have grown to what they are is because of some of these relationships I met in college, for example, the Ike Badger's podcast. When I was 20, I met Zach Baun. He's now a linebacker for the New Orleans Saints. And we met just the old fashioned college way. We became friends because he had a golden retriever like the most old fashioned way you meet someone through a dog and we've stayed in contact. We've helped each other professionally, both ways. I did his podcast interviews when he was in the draft process. I was promoting him to help him get his name out there. And he's helped us in return through connections. He connected us with many Badger players. And so, I think just how much has stemmed from him. I imagine more could have been stemmed if I had maybe done more networking events, been out of my comfort zone a little more in a little more open to meeting people of an older age. When you're in college you almost want to just meet your friends and do the college things. And I was so heads down in that but those relationships you meet at that age are super valuable for the future. So, I think it would've been maybe probably networking a little more. And yes, I think other than that I'm pretty proud of graduating as a software engineer. I'm proud of the decision to move to Norway and move out of my comfort zone. And, I'm also proud that back then when I was 20 years old, we were putting out Ike content. It's been around for that long. And so I'm very happy that we did it. I think if I could give myself some advice, it would be less Twitter more like more other forms of content or something like that. Or maybe always listen to podcasts that would've been a great one, Lori. If I was listening to podcasts when I was 20, ingesting the great information you can get in podcasts, I probably would've been a little more ahead in terms of the new social platforms. I would've been earlier to those. I would've been ahead on the trends. And so that, I think would've been a great thing to tell myself is, "Hey, less trap music, more podcasts."
Any final word or advice to offer our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
Your focus determines reality. Where are you focused? That is something that I have struggled with having multiple passions. Maybe not at first knowing what I exactly wanted to do in life. And so, having that focus I found has been really important like going after a certain type of client, being more niche oriented in a certain way, targeting very important people rather than just a larger group of people. And so, we found great benefits through that. I think podcasting is one of those ways and tools to grow your network through a focus. Every podcast has to have a focus in order to attract listeners. Whether it's a sports team, whether it's FinTech, anything having a clear focus is going to help you network within that group and lead to good results.
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