Welcome to the Join Up Dots business coaching podcast with Museum Hack’s Nick Gray
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Introducing Nick Gray From Museum Hack
Todays guest joining us on the Join Up Dots business coaching podcast is Mr Nick Gray Of Museum Hack.
Nick is a man who is tackling an issue that all of us have encountered once or twice in our life.
Have you ever been on a school trip to a museum and after the initial “Yayyyy! We’re out of school” wore off, found the whole thing a bit boring.
Loads and loads of statues, stuffed animals, or tiny little plaques to read, which you start off with the best intentions of reading them all and then start gazing at them with blank eyeballs.
As you wonder why you ate your sandwiches so early?
Well I know that I have, and so its with great regret for me personally, but a huge delight for the people of New York, that one man has taken it on himself to bring these institutions to life for the latest generation.
Yep, like Ben Stiller in the “Night of the Museum” films, he alongside his colleagues run daily tours through the The Met and the Museum of Natural History acting scenes, telling stories and generally making it all fun.
How The Dots Joined Up For Nick Gray & Museum Hack
As Nick Gray says on his site “Museum Hacks” he loves nothing more than when someone says to him”That was the most fun I have ever had in a museum”
But like all overnight success stories, his is one of stumbles and falls, successes and failures.
Not least working for 8 years in his family business, making a film of him and his Dad in Thailand, and even appearing in the Oscar nominated, record shattering, American Pie 2….ok it might not have won him an a Oscar, and actually his scene didn’t end up in the film either.
So let’s find out how Museum Hack can together.
What it was like working for his parents for 8 years?
And of course can he still remember the famous lines that now only appear on the American Pie 2 directors cut?
Well let’s bring onto the show to start joining up dots, as we discuss the words of Steve Jobs in today’s Free podcast, with the one and only Nick Gray.
During the show we discussed such weighty topics with Nick Gray such as:
How he believes totally in the phrase “Fake it until you make it” and how he brings that into his daily life!
How I believe that all Americans have ruined museums for everybody else….yes you will have to listen to find out why I am right!
Why he pays to have a film crew around him and has never regretted the expense once!
How he will share the knowledge of what he has learnt in the Museum tour industry with us all!
The moment that he recreated the magical scene in American Pie 2 for all Join Up Dots listeners!
Interview With Museum Hacks Nick Gray
How To Connect With Nick Gray
If you enjoyed this episode of Join Up Dots then why not listen to some of our favourite podcast episodes such as Niall Doherty, Lolly Daskal or the amazing Alfie Best
Or if you prefer just pop over to our podcast archive for thousands of amazing episodes to choose from.
Audio Transcription Of Museum Hack Interview
When we’re young, we have an amazing positive outlook about how great life is going to be. But somewhere along the line we forget to dream and end up settling join up dots features amazing people who refuse to give up and chose to go after their dreams. This is your blueprint for greatness. So here’s your host live from the back of his garden in the UK David Ralph
David Ralph [0:27]
Yes. Hello. Good morning, everybody. How are we in a join up dots land? I hope you okay. Episode 148. And today’s one is going to be a great one because I’ve already been talking to the chat. And I just know it is going to be a fun filled hour of conversation, motivational chat, and inspirational content. So have you ever been on a school trip to a museum and after the initial Yeah, we’re out of school was found the whole thing a bit boring loads and loads of statues stuffed animals, or those tiny little plaques that you have to read, which you start off with the best intentions of reading them all. And then start gazing at the blank eyeballs all the time wondering why you eat your sandwiches so early? Well, I know that I have. And so it’s with great regret for me personally, but a huge delight for the people of New York but one man’s taken it upon himself to bring these institutions to life. But the latest generation Yep, like Ben Stiller in the nightly museum films, he alongside his colleagues run daily tours, Brewer met in the Museum of Natural History, acting scenes, telling stories, and generally making it all fun, as he says on the site museum hacks. He loves nothing more than when someone says to him, that was the most fun I’ve ever had in a museum. But like all overnight success stories, he is one of stumbles and falls successes and failures, not least working for eight years and his family business, making a film of him and his dad in Thailand, I have to sort of delve into that one. And even appearing in the Oscar nominated record shattering American Pie too. Okay, you might not want a man Oscar, and actually seen didn’t end up in the film either. Let’s find out how museum hack come together. And what was it like working please parents for eight years? And of course, the most important thing can you still remember the famous lines but now only appear on the American Pie to director’s cut? Well, let’s find out as we bring on to the show to start join up dots Bo one and only Mr. museum, Nick gray, how are you?
Museum Hack [2:21]
I’m Fantastic. Thank you for that fantastic introduction. I’m so glad to be here for your listeners.
David Ralph [2:27]
Well, it’s not often that we have an Oscar nominated actor.
Museum Hack [2:32]
Listen, I have to be very forthcoming. My tiny little deleted scenes, it was like a one line performance. I am not an actor. And I’ve never take classes. That’s a funny story where as a nerdy kid in high school, I kind of weaseled my way, all the way from the sticks of North Georgia. I got onto the set of that movie.
David Ralph [2:54]
So So how did you do that? Because, you know, I’ve made a few films me time, Nick being adults, you know, when I’m, but I’ve never had any lines to say in them. So how did you actually manage to get yourself on a film set and actually get some lines? Because from what I understand, actors generally get walk on parts. And I do sort of them holding a plate in the background and all those kinds of things. And you actually got lines, how did you do it?
Museum Hack [3:19]
I was incredibly lucky in that the film’s producers were very welcoming to fan based internet. What that means is, I actually got a bootleg copy of the movie that I downloaded online. And I love the movie so much. I was a high school student, that I created my own fan website for it. This is like a crazy story. But I just created a fan website, I wanted to talk about the stars and the story because I knew it was going to hit the theaters and be a real big deal. And the producers and the writer and some of the stars just thought that this was the weirdest, coolest thing ever. And, and I was a very nerdy high school student, I barely got a date to my senior prom. And that was kind of what this movie this movie at the time really resonated with me. And they thought I was a curious case, we became friends. And when the second or third movie came around, I was invited to come out and visit the set. And the director thought it would be funny to put me in a scene and that’s how it happened.
David Ralph [4:26]
So why this is the big builder. Okay. Oh my gosh, can you remember your six lines?
Museum Hack [4:33]
Can I remember? Of course I think about it now just I do know the light Do you want to know the line is
David Ralph [4:39]
set the set the scene? So once I’m remembering this is a family show. So if there’s anything untoward going kind of suggest it. But But set the scene.
Museum Hack [4:48]
You know, I’m flattered that you’re asking me about this. I never talked about this part of my life with my New York City friends, and most of them would have no clue that I had this but if you remember from the American Pie movies, there was a gentleman named Steve Fleur. Yes. Definitely was kind of like the bad boy, he was hilarious. There was a scene in the second movie where they’re having a party. At sticklers house, his parents are at a town. And during this party, all the main characters are catching up and having a beer. And then a guy runs through the party yelling, screaming, the cops, the cops, the cops. The Camera Cuts to me. And it’s my close up and I say, dude, the cops What the hell?
David Ralph [5:37]
And was that exactly as you did it? Or did you do an accent or? That was
Museum Hack [5:42]
exactly as I did it? Wow. I’m just I’m sweating.
David Ralph [5:46]
You’re not centralized it ended up on the directors blog. And are you
Unknown Speaker [5:52]
David Ralph [5:52]
Is that the kind of effort level you put into it? I would have done it as like a Mexican or added some kind of James Bond villain spa.
Museum Hack [6:03]
I’m cracking up I think you would have done much better than I have. I’m going to call you next time and get your actors coaching. You may have a business and you for coaching of actors David
David Ralph [6:12]
well, especially villains they’ve always English people are villains. Atlassian films, they’re always bad days.
Museum Hack [6:18]
They are often villains. Why is that?
David Ralph [6:21]
I’ve got no idea. Yeah, I was wondering now you’ve been in sort of Hollywood. Why are all villains and it’s either, you know, we’re either kind of James Bond spies, or we’re gonna blow up a building is always bad. I,
Museum Hack [6:36]
I completely agree. You know, the British people are always wealthy as well. British people are always spies or devious or businessmen. They’re very sharp. I think that you got the wind at your back on this one.
David Ralph [6:49]
And good in bed as well. Leave me why. Okay, so let’s sort of move away from that line, and actually sort of delve in because it has been one of those kind of lives that when I’ve been looking at it, I thought, yeah, I can kind of see the dots here. I can see how it’s joined up. It’s kind of fascinating step by step by step. Obviously now you’re in the museum doing your thing, which we’re going to touch on a little bit later. But there’s been a theatrical side to you hasn’t there hasn’t been a kind of normal nine to five person. Even though you spent eight years working with your mom and dad in sort of nine to five job. There seems to be somebody aiming for the unusual in you all the time.
Museum Hack [7:32]
I was in the comedy troupe on my college campus. The name of the comedy troupe was the lilting banshees. And in America, we have a lot of fraternities and sororities. And this was kind of like the renegade fraternity where we would put on shows and we would make parodies, and that experience of standing up on stage in front of people. And I didn’t have any theater experience in high school. But for me, I do look back on that very fondly.
David Ralph [8:03]
What was it scary when you did that?
Museum Hack [8:06]
I think it was very scary. It was very scary for me, and seeing everybody up there, but you kind of just fake it till you make it right?
David Ralph [8:15]
Well, is that something that you actually cling to that phrase? Because it seems to be a kind of 5050 split? Some people hate fat? Because they say why should you fake it until you make it IE? Why shouldn’t you just accept that you’re not going to be very good at the beginning. And other people go? No, it’s all about projecting that image about I am good. So that people will buy into it. And ultimately they will believe before I believe.
Museum Hack [8:42]
That’s a great idea. I definitely believe in fake it till you make it with one caveat. And that is that you have to admit sometimes that you’re faking it. And what I mean by that is, these days, people are very quick to sniff out fakers and people who are inflating themselves larger than they are. But as an example, if I’m speaking somewhere and I’m nervous, I’m more apt these days to say oh man, I’m really nervous as I get up there to sort of hedge a little bit trying to pretend that I’m not nervous, but more embracing it. Short answer those. Yeah, I definitely believe in faking it until you make it to kind of gain the skills and the experience as you attempt to the journey. Hey, that’s how I started doing museum tours. Right? I was not a trained museum tour guide.
David Ralph [9:36]
So So did did you have to learn? Did you have to learn? You know, did you have to walk around reading those little plaques that bore you after 15 minutes?
Museum Hack [9:46]
I absolutely had to learn. And there’s so many smart museum people that came before me who did all the research. And who gave the tours that I learned from? I fell in love with the museum. I don’t come from a museum background ground david i think that I used to think that museums were very boring, that they the paintings don’t have anything to do with me that a lot of this stuff was stupid. It was overwhelming. I would leave the museum feeling tired or just not fulfilled. I would I’d leave the museum feeling guilty. Like I didn’t get out of it something that I was supposed to. And everything changed for me about three years ago when I had this incredible experience. I tell you about that
David Ralph [10:32]
you tell us because that means I can sit back and savor this experience and not say anything.
Unknown Speaker [10:37]
Museum Hack [10:40]
It was about three years ago in New York City, when a beautiful woman took me to the Metropolitan Museum of Art on a romantic date. It was our third date together. It was in the middle of December, on a Saturday night. around seven o’clock after eight o’clock, the Metropolitan Museum, it’s in New York City if you’ve never been there, it’s the biggest Museum in New York City. It’s the most popular Museum in America. It’s the second most popular Museum in the world. And yet too many New Yorkers like me, it was just a tourist attraction. I didn’t have a relationship with the space, I’d go there when my parents were in town. But anyhow, this woman brought me there. And she took me on a date. And she showed me her favorite sculpture and furniture, and paintings. And I really liked it. I don’t know if it was the, the lighting of the space that night or that nobody was there. Or if it was just having a very attractive woman talk to
David Ralph [11:50]
me. There you go. you’ve nailed it. you’ve nailed the last one.
Museum Hack [11:56]
And that’s what she was doing. Right? She was talking to me about things that she was excited about. And for me that that changed everything I love that experience. I I started to go to the museum again and again. And again, I was captivated by this idea of a space that for me could be a center of inspiration and really curiosity about history and art that I never had before. I would go to the museum, maybe have a glass of wine or two and just sort of wander, stumble around and find my own way do the museum’s audio tours, I came up with the idea that I moved to New York City for things like that. I really like big cities. And maybe I was just going to dive bars or something, nothing against dive bars on the weekend. But I said, You know, I think I moved to New York to a big city for things like this. So I started to go there on my own. And eventually I started to lead tours there. And that’s kind of a start of how I started to like museums,
David Ralph [12:58]
because I actually believe that Americans have actually ruined museums for everyone.
Museum Hack [13:05]
Now that might love to hear about this is a very controversial topic. Please tell me it’s a
David Ralph [13:09]
very controversial, but it’s true. And as I’m the host of the show, it’s going to be doubly true. Now I find it if you come to the United Kingdom, and you go around anything in the United Kingdom, any tourist attraction, it’s pretty crap. To be honest, it’s it hasn’t moved on since the 70s. If you go to a museum, it’s very much as you would imagine a boring museum. And if you go to a sort of attraction, you will just get a 70s waxworks Standing Bear but seen its better days and nothing moves and nothing is animated or anything. Now you go to America, and you go to these theme parks, and you go to you know, anything, Americans are brilliant at making things come alive. And they use robots and they make dinosaurs come alive and stuff. And I think that has kind of ruined museums, we like that we like but we like the fact that these things are roaring we like the fact the fact that it’s so real, that we almost feel that we’re in it. Because I went to the National History Museum, natural history museum saw it in London. And the most exciting bit was an animatronic T rex that just stood there and roared. And I thought, that’s what I want. I want everything to come alive. And I think I have been seduced by the excitement that the Americans brilliantly do at their theme parks and wherever they go. And over here in the United Kingdom is become a bit rubbish. So I think that’s what we need. I think we need you, of course, doing your thing. But I think we need the sort of, you know, not a statue, we need something that looks like a statue, but moves. I like that that, essentially, and correct me if I’m wrong, but what you’re saying is that theme parks and other things have essentially raised the bar, it’s become like an arms race to capture your attention spot on. I’m so thrilled by what I see at least theme parks. But everything else seems a bit humdrum. And I kind of, I’m so excited. I’ve been I remember going on years ago, first time I went to America was 1990. And the very first day, we steamed round to Universal Studios. And I went on the Back to the Future ride. And it blew my mind. I couldn’t believe I was flying in this car. Now I look back on it. And I kind of know how they did it. But it was just so amazing to me. And I think really, that once your excitement level goes up to a certain part it’s got to keep on going out is always almost like a drug. And the next time you go and you go on to the future of it, you kind of think oh, it’s not as good as it used to be. But of course it is. It’s just that you’ve seen even better things, and more improvement and more exciting technology. And it’s getting more and more real. I just think naturally we kind of screwed ourselves up by giving ourselves better and better things that everything’s got to sort of match up to
Museum Hack [15:59]
us nailed it exactly that. I think what you’re saying is today, you have to be entertained, or you’re not ready to be educated.
David Ralph [16:10]
Yeah. So it wasn’t controversial, was it? It was spot on? Well, I think
Museum Hack [16:13]
it was a little biased to blame everything on Americans. But yes, you were, you were spot on. And I want to give a little bit of a caveat here to say that a lot of people in the museum world are doing really great things like we hear from people all the time at small museums, and even a large ones who are doing good things. But you know what, I do believe that the vast majority of museums, and especially of adult museum tours, can no longer compete with everything else that is seeking the audience’s attention. Things like Instagram, things like video games, television, movie theater, and theme parks. These days, audiences have said one thing to us they say if we are not entertained, then we’re going to to now. And so that’s what we lead our tours with. We start with entertainment. We start with storytelling, fun games, cool photo activities, and the education and the art and the facts comes afterwards. And that’s kind of that’s very controversial idea in museums. I’m not saying that, or the exact right way to do it. But it has resonated with a very large audience.
David Ralph [17:25]
I think the brilliant thing about what you’re doing though, is effectively you’re doing something that looks great. And and I’ve been looking at what you’ve been doing on your website, I’d love to go around the museum with you guys. It’s just looks fun. Because I’m going into that building, expecting it to be rubbish. And they know coming along, and you’re making my rubbish expectation. Brilliant. You know, and I think you’re setting out on a bar, that the the bulk of the population, especially adults, I used to have to go to museums when they were just rubbish. You you would entice me in, I’d go around that museum every single day with unique and it wouldn’t have to be a romantic date on a Saturday night either.
Museum Hack [18:07]
Thank you so much for saying that. It’s good to hear. And it’s refreshing for me to hear from real citizens and real people who have had an experience maybe as a kid where they’ve just maybe it was a negative experience. And they just were very bored at the museum. And they’ve essentially written off that side of their life. They’ve said, I am not a museum person, I don’t like them. I think that they are boring. I will go as a cultural obligation, but I do not leave them feeling inspired. And what we want to do is we want to bring you to the museum so that you can have fun, so that it opens you up to coming back. And hopefully you’ll come back and maybe you’ll develop a relationship. Maybe you won’t, but we hope that you will. And the museum can be a place to inspire you with new ideas
David Ralph [18:57]
help you integrate into that because I am imagine when you guys came along, and it’s quite a few of you, I was looking at your your team of of actors and warriors and musicians, and God knows what that you have going around. I imagine there must have been an old guard in the museum who were just doing the tours as you always had some old guy with a big mustache, it would walk around at a snail’s pace telling you things. And so how did you actually manage to get in there and work side by side? Or was it like a turf war
Museum Hack [19:26]
at her for like a throwdown between rival museum tour guide gangs, that’s a great film in it. And the
David Ralph [19:34]
audience, if you move in six months in that one,
Museum Hack [19:38]
you museum hack doesn’t see ourselves as a replacement for the existing tours. Many museums have docents and volunteers that are at the core of their visitor services, we see ourselves as a supplement. And to be very clear, we are not officially employed by any of these museums, we operate as an outside tour vendor. So when you as a customer come, you can take a free museum tour. And they’ve got plenty of them at all the museums, we operate that, but we make our money and we exist as a business because we sell a premium service. We sell a paid product that was otherwise free beforehand, or a private company sort of working on top of the public sphere.
David Ralph [20:28]
So if I wouldn’t want back in time, and obviously you’ve been at college, and you’ve been doing the comedy kind of thing, and these are the acting up on stage, which you’ve found scary. It seems bizarre to me in many ways, but you then replicated that scariness. So is it something like you get these night stand up comedians, but a really miserable on a daily basis, but they just had this disk drive to stand up on stage and make people laugh? Is it an entertainer in you, a kind of tortured soul entertainer, but actually doesn’t like doing it? But you know, you’ve got to do it.
Museum Hack [21:06]
These questions are very humbling. And it’s neat to think about, I wish everybody had the experience to look inward at that level. I don’t I think I’m a generally pretty happy person. And I love hosting social events for my friends. In New York City, I started to host these cocktail parties and loft parties. And that’s kind of where these museum tours forked out of was I wanted to get my friends together. So no, I don’t think I’m a tortured soul who has a miserable life. I’m very thankful. And I’ve been very, very lucky.
David Ralph [21:41]
Right? Okay, so what’s that? what’s what’s the big lucky Enos in your life that you would say, we classify as the big dot. And on the join up dots timeline, quite often, it’s something that is not a good time in your life. And it’s forced you mentally and physically to take a leap and create your future where it gets getting was comfortable in your life, you might have just kept on going going waiting for the next paycheck waiting for the next paycheck. So where was your big dot that actually made you become Nick grave I’m talking to today.
Museum Hack [22:13]
The thing that I’ve done most recently that I’m talking to you today about is the business called museum hack. And the big dot there, that made me ultimately take the leap and focus full time to shift it from a hobby to my driving force and my passion every single day when I wake up was, and this is another, I guess, lucky thing. It’s going to sound like a fancy thing. But I was working with an executive coach. Who have you like heard about these guys? Or have you ever worked with one or met somebody who’s an executive coach, and sort
David Ralph [22:52]
of a like a life coach or professional coach?
Museum Hack [22:55]
Yeah, it’s very similar to a life coach. This was used in the workplace, they help you with your management skills. And usually, they do a survey of people who report to you and they, yeah, it’s very much like a life coach, but it’s all about workplace things. And I was working with an individual his name was Dale, who’s very helpful. And he started probing me with some questions. And these questions were very intense. These questions were simple questions like, What do you want? And why are you doing this, this meaning the job that I was doing at the time? And I would give a little bit of an answer, you know, what do you want it say something simple, like money and power? And he would say, you know, why do you want that? And I would think about it some more. And just very simple questions that if you listen to people that work well with others that all they do is ask questions, right? And as I thought about that, that was a big turning point for me that as he helped me play out why I was doing certain things. And what would I do if money was no object? And what would I do? If I could do anything? As I would do museum tours, I love giving these tours, I was doing this, basically, as a full time hobby on the side, not for money just for my friends, I worked 40 5060 hours a week. But as soon as I was done working, I went straight to the museum and gave tours for free. And these conversations, also with some product and support for friends really helped me make that jump. Does that answer a question? Oh,
David Ralph [24:36]
he does. But I’m kind of interested. Did your company pay for this man to come in?
Museum Hack [24:43]
The company did pay for the executive coach service? Yes. Because
David Ralph [24:47]
over here in the UK, if we had somebody come in, who was basically asking you questions, that were deep enough for you to consider your position at that company. That would be company music, and that would be something bad by obviously would take away from this. So the fact that he’s in that position? Did you think he was asking those questions because he’d been asked to ask them or that he just saw something he knew. But he thought, actually, you’re not a right fit for this company. This guy’s like a coiled spring, he should be doing something?
Museum Hack [25:22]
That’s a great question. I don’t know the answer to that. I don’t think that he was prodded at all to ask those questions. But when you’re an individual working for your parents, who has entrepreneurial tendencies, there are questions that arise, right? Like why, like, why are you doing this? Why aren’t you doing your own thing? And those were some interesting questions to think about. I loved working for my family and loved working at that business. It’s fantastic. And I’m thankful for that time. But the journey that I’m on right now, gosh, I wish maybe wish I would have down a little bit sooner. I don’t know. Do you think you could
David Ralph [25:59]
have taken it to a different position? Yeah. Because I’m actually going to ask you a question. Because it was question I thought up right at the very beginning. And when it came to me, as you were saying, but if you know, I was going on my little bit of a rant about how Americans have ruined museums, and it’s a quite, quite accurate rent. It I gave you an infinite amount of money. Would you recreate basically what I’m saying in a museum sort of sense? Or would you take a museum and make it into like a theme park?
Museum Hack [26:31]
Wow, that’s a unique idea. Would I make a museum into a theme park? It’s an interesting idea. I think that some science museums are going in that direction. If you’ve ever been to like the MIMO Science Center in Amsterdam, there’s I’m sure there’s great ones in London and New York science museums and kids museums do a great job of doing that hands on experience. If I had an unlimited amount, money, you know what, I just think that it’s the live tour experience. Have you ever traveled to another city and hired a tour guide or gone on like a guided tour, maybe a food tour or something like that?
David Ralph [27:11]
Yeah, I went to LA once, and a card was put under my door in a hotel room. I don’t know why I even did this. And it was, I will take you around LA, I’m an insider in LA and I will show you the things that you want to see. And this bald headed chap turned up, who had half of his head cut away at the back. And we had to sit looking at these kind of this huge gaping wound in the back of his head. Until we said to him, you know, how did you get that I can’t bear this anymore. How did you get there? And he said, I was doing this tour one day, and then somebody just put a machete right into the back of my head. And I thought, Oh, this is interesting. And he took us around LA and showed us the kind of the the insider’s view, the underground stuff, the kind of things that may be la didn’t want us to see. So he kind of showed us, you know, where we’re Phoenix died and where this thing happened and where that thing happened. And I found it fascinating because it was one person’s perspective. And it was not favored by what they wanted me to see. It was flavored by what that person was presenting to me. Does that make sense?
Museum Hack [28:15]
Yeah, it absolutely makes sense. It was that live experience of a human and a curated experience, right? I like that in museums, I’m very interested in the live tour guides and finding people who can communicate their passion and excitement about otherwise dry subjects, right. This is the whole very nature of why great teachers exist. I think everybody has fantastic memories about some teacher that they had growing up who did an incredible job, explaining and otherwise dry subject. Hmm. And now we’re doing that just in museums in a different way.
David Ralph [28:55]
Well, let’s play you a speech. Now. This is one of our motivational speeches. And I’ll be eating interested to see whether this has resonance to you. This is this is Jim Carrey,
Jim Carrey [29:05]
my father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe that that was possible for him. And so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant. And when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job. And our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.
David Ralph [29:32]
Well, that’s that’s what we’re saying about you. But the interesting bit at the beginning, is when he said, You know, he took a safe job. And I’m grappling with what you’re doing at the moment, because in some ways, I think, well, this is safe. He’s got people coming to the museum’s time and time and time and time again, who are just set up to be bored. So he’s got an audience ready for him. And so this business can’t fail. But on the other side, I’m thinking, well, all businesses can fail and learn. He does it right. So it was a risk that you stepped into it, you’re obviously doing something that you’re passionate about, like Jim Carrey said, and it’s something that you love doing. And you mentioned that you wake up first thing in the morning, but when you did take that leap of faith, and you let your mom and dad so business, Was it scary? Or did you know yeah, I’m really on to a good thing here.
Museum Hack [30:21]
It was very scary for me, because I was leaving a reliable source of income that I wasn’t going into when I left my job. We weren’t charging for museum tours, yet. It was a big leap. That being said, I did do a lot to save up money beforehand to ensure that I could keep paying my rent and enjoy a somewhat comfortable living experience. The biggest risk that we had I mean, if we’re talking about risk is when I first started to give tours, we didn’t have permission to do the tours. I mean, in some aspects, we still don’t really have permission to do the tours. And to me, that’s very risky to people working in museums, it’s not just risky. It’s downright blasphemous. Today, that speeches inspiring because I don’t think I take enough risks probably right, I should probably take a little more risk, no risk, no risk, no reward. I think that will be helpful. Thank you for sharing that
David Ralph [31:22]
clip. Have you not heard about before then?
Museum Hack [31:25]
I’ve heard of the speech, but I haven’t listened to it entirely. Because it
David Ralph [31:30]
is a fundamental flaw, isn’t it. But we will quite often as humans, go for the easy option. And what I’m finding out more and more in these conversations, and by getting emails from people and conversations that I have with my listeners is, more often than not by following a path that isn’t even their own path. It’s a path that they believe is the right one to take is either a path for generations have done in their family, so they kind of understand it, and their parents understand it. So they feel comfortable within that realm. And when I talked to them, they kind of go Well, to be honest, I never really wanted to do this. Anyway, I always wanted to be a vet, or I always wanted to be a tour guide. And so for you doing what you’re doing, I think it plays totally into the words that Jim Carrey was saying, but you found the thing that lights you up inside, and you’ve taken a chance on it. And if you can find that thing. I don’t think it’s much of a chance, do you Nick?
Museum Hack [32:29]
I don’t think so either. I guess that’s a great way to look at it. I’m a very, I should be very thankful and lucky that I get the chance to do this all the time.
David Ralph [32:39]
But you did it, you got off your backside and you did it.
Museum Hack [32:42]
I did it. I did it.
I did it with the help from a lot of people. And still with the help from a lot of people. And today, it’s a lot of fun. We lead about 20 tours per week. And we have a staff of 14 or 15 people now here in New York City,
David Ralph [33:00]
and D museums close at all. I’m sorry, do museums closed and I close on Sundays or Saturdays or whatever.
Museum Hack [33:09]
The museums don’t close the ones that we operate at. They do not close on a specific day. But they do have times at night that they close. Yes, sir.
David Ralph [33:19]
So So how would it How is it structured? Ben, so you are the CEO, you’re the sort of owner of the company and you have employees that you have bought on? Or is it a kind of combined company, but a few of you own together?
Museum Hack [33:34]
The business now is a limited liability corporation. And it’s a sole proprietorship and that so I am the entire owner of the company. Our tour guides operate very much as their own guides, I do not tell them what to talk about. I don’t tell them the object, the galleries that they need to pick, we think it’s important for the guides to pick their own material so that they can talk about things that they are excited about
David Ralph [34:09]
that you know they have right then how do you know that they’ve learned and they’re not just making it up?
Museum Hack [34:13]
That’s a great question. The risk that I’m more concerned about is like we take facts very seriously. And occasionally we’ll have art historians or art history majors come and audit the tours and give us feedback about facts that may be a little questionable. But I’m more interested in their energy levels, and how do they manage the crowd? And do they make people feel comfortable. So don’t get me wrong, the facts are important. And it’s really important that we say that. But when we dive into a little bit of the gossip side of the art, much of that can’t really be verified. So we do our best efforts. And we try to verify from as many sources as possible.
David Ralph [34:55]
And that’s what makes it interesting, though, isn’t it? I was a financial trainer of the year years and years and years, and I used to do very boring training courses. And I we used to do them as game shows, I used to do all kinds of silly things. And was it on a message you can involve? Did the audience Get it? Yes. Did the audience love it? Yes. And so I kind of went with it all the time. And it became my sort of name really, but I would find a way of making something entertaining. Even if it wasn’t 100% accurate to what the company wanted.
Museum Hack [35:30]
I like that I can just imagine you being running around financial traders. data information, get everybody pumped up and excited. I love that.
David Ralph [35:40]
Yeah, I used to do um, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. That was a good one. I used to do sort of training courses and other and I think deep down there’s a kind of game show host element to me. That is certainly coming out on the mic here is one of those kind of things that once you start touching on, on vibes and and passions and enthusiasm, you kind of more into something something slightly bigger and I suppose more accurate to your authentic self? Did you find that? Are you doing your performance and it is a performance is a tour? But do you have it sometimes when you actually almost have an out of body experience where you know the content so well, that you hear it coming out of your mouth? Even though your brains thinking about what you’re having for lunch tomorrow?
Museum Hack [36:26]
Wow, I’m so glad that you brought that up that has happened to me before. And I have to really be careful. Because you know what, when you’re doing a live tour, and people are looking at you and they’re inches away from you, they can sense that immediately. Like, for me to record or to record a speech or something. That’s okay to go into the speech. Right? You may have heard it before, as I told that story of the first night when I was at the museum. If I go into a scripted routine during a tour, and I’m not still connecting with people making eye contact with them, it’s a great, fantastic thing. But people can also know oh, this guy’s like not really here right now. So. So I love those out of body experiences. Sometimes I get so wrapped up. But if it’s a scripted thing that I’ve said before, I really try to ground myself and bring myself back down, maybe even add in some hesitations and my speech or verbal fillers to just connect again with the audience. Does that make sense?
David Ralph [37:28]
Yeah, no, it totally makes sense. And the reason I asked about it is many times in my life, I would know the content inside out. And I would find myself having these outer body experiences. And I used to love them. It was really interesting. And I had one without actually split into three parts. And this is a bit weird, actually. And I’ve shared it on a couple of shows the earlier ones when I was at work, and I was really stressed. But I didn’t know I was stressed. And I was doing a training course. And I thought I had a heart attack. And I was talking to the audience and I was on the board writing away and then suddenly, Wham in my heart. I thought, Oh my God, I’ve had a heart attack. But I didn’t stop, which I should have done looking back. I should have just said excuse me, I don’t feel very well, I think I’m going to pull pull this to the to an end. I carried on doing it. And as I was doing it, I was thinking to myself, my God, I’ve had a heart attack. what’s what’s the symptoms of a heart attack? Is it is it the left arm? Is it the right arm? Is it supposed to be fizzy? Have I got those symptoms. And then I started thinking, this is weird. My mouth is still talking. And I was talking about the sort of thing that I was supposed to be talking about. And then my brain kind of went, this is amazing. He’s doing bad. And you’re thinking about heart attacks. And I had split into three parts. And it was the most fantastic sort of experience other than the fact that I was having a heart attack. And it turned out it wasn’t it was just stress. But I’ve never had that before in my life. And I’ve never had anything weird ever happened to me in my life tool, nose or ghostly experiences or anything. And that’s the closest thing but I can’t quite work out how I became three people just for that period of time.
Museum Hack [39:09]
As you were telling that story, I felt like I was going with you along on that heart attack or I think it it certainly shows your perseverance that you didn’t just stop and you kept giving your speech.
David Ralph [39:20]
Where would you would you have stopped? Because you, you you you’re actually in a different situation. I was paid to train people, but people have paid you. So if you’re a tour guide, and they’ve made a whole day to do it. And then suddenly the tour guide says Excuse me, I’m going to stop this because I think I’m having a heart attack. Would you have just carried on David
Museum Hack [39:41]
Are you asking me if I would stop a tour if I had a heart attack? Because while I am very passionately committed to my business, I do respect my health. And I think I I don’t think I can take the hero’s journey to die. In my light of work. I may take a momentary health check, break. Please forgive me. But but you
David Ralph [40:02]
don’t know if you’re having it. Do you? That’s the thing is true. You know, if somebody says to you, excuse me, you are having a heart attack, you would go Fair enough, I’m stopping it. But if you don’t really know what the symptoms are, you’re just getting this this pain. You kind of think well, I don’t want to stop here because I might look a bit stupid. And it might be indigestion. Or it might be why last night or whatever. Yeah. Would you stop? If you didn’t know, but you’ve got all these kind of symptoms going? I wasn’t expecting to talk about this in the show. But it’s interesting because you’re a fellow stand up talker.
Museum Hack [40:34]
Yeah, I think the example that you’ve presented is one where you chose not to stop, and you push through. And you had ultimately, sort of a life altering, or at least a sincerely memorable experience. One in which your personality kind of divulged into three instances, if I knew that I could push through the pain to guarantee that type of situation. You’re damn right. I would push through it. I would not even think twice a
David Ralph [41:04]
day ago, Nick, you see, this is the nuts and bolts on join up dots he wasn’t expecting to have this conversation.
Museum Hack [41:10]
So no, I love it.
David Ralph [41:11]
So if we went back in time they’ve been out. So we’re really interested me and I laughed when I was reading as well was that day that you you hired a film crew to follow yourself and your dad around Thailand, which, for my experience of people going to Thailand, the last thing you want to do is take you dead anyway. But you were there with a film crew? How did that happen?
Museum Hack [41:34]
We did have some family friends who live in Bangkok. And so I’ve been going there. I had an internship in college, I know a very different side of Thailand. One in which I worked downtown in a skyscraper. I insists that will I can’t say that I insist. But I really prefer these days to only travel with film crews. Because it makes your experience obviously so much better. You you feel like a celebrity where you go and the film crews guide you to all the best spots. I decided that I wanted to do this as a present for my father to capture a day as we explored the city. And I looked on Craigslist, and I searched all over the internet with the help of someone to find a film crew that I could hire just to film kind of slice of life, you know, to awkward American tourists walking around downtown situations, and found an amazing film crew and they were more than willing to oblige. It wasn’t a fancy video shoot, there was probably a crew of, you know, one or two or three people. And they followed us around and they put the video together. And it was just the best photo. I think that’s one little pro tip that I can give to people and that is that I have never once regretted spending money to hire a photographer or a film crew. I did this for a friend of mines birthday a few months ago, one of my best friends His name is Charles, he had a birthday party and actually hired a professional photographer to come to the bar as he was having the party that just snap photos of him and my friends together. And that was my present to him. You can hire photographers relatively affordably, it was about the same cost as buying a couple drinks or a moderately nice present. And it was so fun. We we just looked great at the bar and everybody was really enjoying and he got a kick out of it. He felt like a very famous person.
David Ralph [43:30]
So So would you quite like one of these kind of reality shows following you around this kind of
Museum Hack [43:36]
overhead. No, no, no, I would hate it. It’s funny for me to do it when I get to hire the crew. But I don’t think I would like to be in front of it now.
David Ralph [43:44]
Well, the last thing I’m going to talk about, and he’s a I’ve got a good question here. And this is one I’m just going to hold back on for a moment. But he’s come to me three or four times during the during the conversation. But when the film The Night of the museum came out, was that a big book to your industry? The people when’s dancing museums in a different way? Or has it had no, no impact at all in any shape or form?
Museum Hack [44:09]
Oh, it’s absolutely had a positive impact, I think because people simply talk about museums, anything that gets people talking about museums, anything that shows people having fun inside the museum, I think is a great thing.
David Ralph [44:24]
So so you would the Islamic night, the museum free coming out soon, you would like it to just keep on kept going on for five, six.
Museum Hack [44:33]
I think nights and museums are very magical. And whenever you can go to a museum at night, I highly recommend people. Yes, I would love to have Night at the Museum four or five, say I could do nights at the museum all over the world. I could watch this non stop?
David Ralph [44:48]
Well, you have segue to my last question across the world, because obviously, we’re talking about a business opportunity that you have created in New York in the mat and the Museum of Natural History. But based print support that you’re talking about, could be replicated across the globe. So it is totally scalable. And I imagine with the amount of audience that we’ve got, there’s going to be one to 10, 1520, whatever, people listening to this thinking, I could do this, our local museums really boring. I’m in a big city, why are they not doing it? And they could basically take your idea and create a business? Would that be something that would actually excite you, but you are inspiring people to bring museums alive across the world.
Museum Hack [45:32]
I would love that. I think that would be fantastic. And if you’re listening to this, and you’re even contemplating it, listen to me, you can do this, I worked at an electronics company. I’ve never taken an art history class, I just started doing tours showing my friends, things that I liked. And as the experience that David talked about with the gentleman he had in Los Angeles, it’s that real experience, right? It’s, it’s having fun with your friends and showing them things that you want to talk about and that you’re excited about. You could do this at a museum, you could do this in a downtown area. I think if you were looking for a side hustle, or a little gig, to do on weekends, that this would be a great opportunity,
David Ralph [46:15]
because a great opportunity for you would be you’ve been sort of training, isn’t it? It’s the scalable aspect. You’ve been doing this for a few years, you have learned what works, what doesn’t, how long a speech should be, how much interaction you have to have with the kids against the adults and all those kinds of things. So you would actually have a blueprint that would be very valuable for somebody who’s sitting there thinking I could do this,
Museum Hack [46:39]
I think, yeah, we definitely have a lot of knowledge that could be shared, I’m happy to share a lot of that for free with your listeners, the thing that we’ve come down is we have a formula, right? The the tour business and to be clear about this, if you’re thinking about starting a museum tour business, you’re not going to get rich doing you’re not going to become a deca millionaire. museum tours are low tech and high touch. Right. There’s not a lot of technology that’s easily scalable. You have families and kids and and visitors who show up to your tours each have their own needs and distinct things. It’s a great business, and it is incredibly rewarding, because you get to see people face to face, and I love working with that. But just know that if you’re going into this, right, it’s got its kind of a little bit of can of worms, I would suggest if you want to start to do these tours, just go out, do true with your friends, show some things that you love, send me an email info at museum hack.com and will love to share them up on our Instagram or something. But tours, I think you know, and this is one thing that’s important, the future of entertainment is the live experience. Right? People are going to want more of the live experience. That’s that’s my future of entertainment that I think that people are going to want and are going to pay for getting out of the house getting off of the video games, stepping away from the computer, and interacting with an individual.
David Ralph [48:11]
So So you think he’s going to come full circle.
Museum Hack [48:15]
I don’t think it’s going to replace Oculus Rift or things like that. I think those are going to be fantastic. And I’m excited for those video games are only going to get better podcasts and website qualities are only going to improve. But I think there will be a very distinct, active healthy market for that live experience.
David Ralph [48:35]
But we’re seeing that in sort of music, aren’t we? Generally people buying less and less CDs and albums and stuff and go to concerts more and more subsequently the price of a concert? Yeah, there’s a famous band, I’m not sure what they were huge in, in America called queen. And I went to see Queen they were my second ever concert when I was a 15 year old and at Wembley Stadium, and I found my ticket the other day, and it was 23 pounds to go and see Queen Wow. And that was an 85. And now you’re probably paying sort of 120 pounds and stuff. So they have worked out that the value is in the live performance.
Museum Hack [49:12]
It is right, that’s something that can’t be easily replicated. It’s harder to copy. Surely, that’s a business that I’m interested in. I love live experiences. I’m a sucker I did. I did a food tour recently here in New York City. And I had a lot of fun.
David Ralph [49:28]
Well, just before we put you on the sermon and the mic, I normally play this a little bit earlier, but is the theme of the show. And I’ll be very interested in your, your grasp on this and whether you think it’s relevant to you and your life. This is the words of Steve Jobs that he made back in 2005. And is, as I say, we play on a daily basis. So this is Steve Jobs.
Steve Jobs [49:48]
Of course, it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards 10 years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something, your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leaves you off the well worn path. And that will make all the difference.
David Ralph [50:23]
So all those words that now you your age, you can go Yes, they are relevant to me.
Museum Hack [50:29]
Yes, those are relevant to me. I like that that was beautiful.
David Ralph [50:33]
Have you not heard that before?
Museum Hack [50:35]
I’ve heard it before. But I haven’t heard it enough, right? Some of these fantastic speeches that that’s the second one you’ve played, I could probably do to listen to that every day as a source of motivation. You know what you should get them join up dots
David Ralph [50:47]
is a daily show.
Museum Hack [50:51]
I completely agree. If you’re not already listening or subscribed, join join up dots and please leave us a review on iTunes.
David Ralph [50:58]
Yeah, absolutely, man, the way to do it. So I’m going to send you back in time now, sir. And this is the part of the show, which is the end, unfortunately. But it’s the part that we join up your thoughts and we send you back in time like a young time traveler. And if you could go back in time, what age Nick Ray, would you speak to him? What advice would you give? So I’m going to play the theme tune when it fades out of up and this is the Sermon on the mic.
Unknown Speaker [51:29]
With the best
Unknown Speaker [51:30]
of the show,
Museum Hack [51:44]
dear Nick from years ago, be mindful and kind to your body. It is the only one that you have. Thank you encourage you to swing for the fences Go big or go home, care less about the little things and keep having fun.
David Ralph [52:07]
That’s it. Do you think he would have listened to those?
Museum Hack [52:12]
That’s a great question. I think absolutely not.
I think it’s so hard to, to take the advice that is so easy to give now, in a completely different headspace. It’s nice to have these moments to think about things and reflect. I’ve been struggling myself to develop a meditation practice. I talked to so many successful people that have encouraged me to meditate. And I’ve really struggled to get it down. I just it’s boring to me or for some reason I don’t do it. But maybe one day, I’ll look back and say I should have done that earlier. Absolutely. That’s what the show is all about.
David Ralph [52:53]
So Nick, how can our audience connect with you?
Museum Hack [52:57]
The name of my businesses museum hack h A ck. We love it a shout out to us on Twitter, we’re museum hack. Our website is a museum a hack that calm if you’re coming to New York and you are a listener of David and join up dots go to our website, send us an email will give you a little coupon code to say thank you. And I encourage everybody if you’re thinking about doing a museum tour, or just starting your own, your local museum will embrace you with arms wide open.
David Ralph [53:32]
Next time I’m in New York, and I’ve been there many, many times I’m going to go to the museum because I’ve never been to the museum. And I want you Nick. I don’t want any of your underlings. I want you. And I
Museum Hack [53:43]
can’t say that. My underlings are there now. First of all, but they are way smarter than me. I don’t know if you really want me my tour will just be about the top 10 things I want to steal.
David Ralph [53:54]
But do you wear that bow tie but I’m looking at in the picture every single
Museum Hack [54:00]
Have I ever abandon the bow tie for the summer of 2014 in an attempt to find a girlfriend so I’m less bow tie centric,
David Ralph [54:08]
because it was very doctor who wasn’t it the last doctor who we’ve just moved, moved into a new doctor who he was wearing a bow tie enough. Oh, that’s where you’ve got that for.
Museum Hack [54:17]
Thank you. Thank you for the compliment. When you come to New York, we’re going to make sure that you are a VIP at the very best museum and the entire world. The Metropolitan Museum of Art will take you up on that.
David Ralph [54:29]
Nick, thank you so much for spending time with us today joining those dots. And please come back again when you have more dots to join up. Because I do believe that by joining the dots and connecting our past is the best way to build your futures. Nick Gray, thank you so much.
Museum Hack [54:42]
Thanks for having me. listeners have a great day
David doesn’t want you to become a faded version of the brilliant self you are wants to become. So he’s put together an amazing guide for you called the eight pieces of advice that every successful entrepreneur practices, including the two that changed his life. Head over to join up dots.com to download this amazing guide for free and we’ll see you tomorrow on join up dots.