Welcome to the Steve Jobs based Join Up Dots Podcast Interview with Ryan Delk
To subscribe to the podcast, please use the links below:
Introducing Ryan Delk
Ryan Delk is todays guest on the Join Up Dots podcast, ready to be interviewed.
He is the head of Growth and Business Development at Gumroad.
Ryan works everyday to focus on building the company into the easiest and most popular way for creators to sell what they make.
If you haven’t heard of Gumroad, this is the place where creative folk such as musicians, filmmakers and artists can sell their work.
They do this directly to their eager audience using cutting edge eCommerce tools.
So cutting out the middle man, and retaining greater control over their work.
Make an album and put it straight into the waiting arms of your fans.
How The Dots Joined Up For Ryan
So imagine our guest must be having some great gossipy meetings with the rich and famous entrepreneurs of the world.
But Ryan’s entrepreneurial journey didn’t start in Hollywood or silicone valley, instead it was in Africa strangely enough that the bug to develop and assist in start ups really hit home.
And once he had the vision of his future he set out on a path that has led him to “Join Up Dots” with me today.
So where does he get his inspiration now he is moving and shaking with the best of them?
What does he do when he isn’t building Gumroad into a major force to be reckoned with?
Well let’s bring onto the show to start joining up dots, as we discuss the words of Steve Jobs with the one and only Ryan Delk.
During the show we discussed such weighty topics with Ryan Delk such as:
How he created a turf war in his neighbourhood when starting a lawn mowing business with his mate!
Why the most confident people are not necessarily the most confident deep down!
How he quite fancies himself as the lead singer of Coldplay or the Killers!
And how we can create our future by putting ourselves strategically into the best positions for best results!
How To Connect With Ryan Delk
Audio Transcription Of Ryan Delk 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 [0:24]
Good morning, everybody out there in internet land all my happy listeners, welcome to another show. It’s Episode 26 today, and we’ve got quite a different vibe on this show. Because the last few shows that we’ve had, our people that have to be honest, are a little bit more mature than the guy that we’ve got today. He’s 23. But he’s he is a mover and a shaker a zig and zag with the best of him. And you’re here in today’s conversation that he’s really setting the world alight at quite a young age. He’s the head of growth and business development at gmail road, where he focuses on building the company into the easiest and most popular way for creators to sell what they make. Now if you haven’t heard of gum road. This is the place where creative folks such as musicians, filmmakers, and artists, can sell their work directly to their eager audience using cutting edge e commerce tools. So cutting out the middleman and retaining greater control over their work. So if they make an album and put it straight into the waiting arms of your fans, so imagine our guest must be having some great gossipy meetings with a rich and famous of the world. I think I might try and ask a few questions on that. But his entrepreneurial journey didn’t start in Hollywood or Silicon Valley. Instead, he was in Africa, strangely enough that the bugs develop and assist in startups really hit home. And once he had the vision of the future, he set out a path that has led him to Join Up Dots with me today. So where does he get his inspiration? Now he is moving and shaking with the best of them. What does he do when he isn’t building gum road into a major force to be reckoned with? Well, let’s find out as we invite the amazing Ryan Delk to the show, how are you today?
Ryan Delk [2:01]
I’m doing well. Thanks so much for having me, David,
David Ralph [2:03]
know, it’s an absolute delight to have you here. I hope it didn’t sound rude by mentioning your age right at the forefront. But um, you really have packed a lot in Avenue, you’re 24 years old, I didn’t even begin to consider that I needed to get going at the age of 23. And here you are already, you know, with a career path, setting the world alive.
Ryan Delk [2:26]
Well, thanks. I appreciate that. I mean, I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of people invest in me and teach me a lot of lessons along the way. So I consider myself very fortunate.
David Ralph [2:34]
But people only invest in people that are worth investing in. So you must have really been moving and shaking from an early age Can Can you remember, were you the kind of kid that was always looking for an angle mowing lawns, washing cars, and sort of knocking on people’s doors to earn a few shekels here and there.
Ryan Delk [2:54]
Yeah, that was, that pretty much sums it up. Actually, I had a, the first real thing I did was a lawn service. But I did a lot of things before that. And after that, very degrees of silliness in retrospect, but always trying to find, you know, ways to really try to just like create value for people and exchange for, you know, them paying me money. Sort of is what it boils down to.
David Ralph [3:19]
So how do you create value with a lawn service? Other than cutting the grass? Well, what makes a good lawn service man or boy in the How old? were you when you were doing that?
Ryan Delk [3:31]
I think I was when it first started. I think I was maybe 14 or something. And just I remember seeing a I think I saw like a sort of bigger lawn company cutting my neighbor’s yard. And I don’t remember if I read it was like my grandparents yard and I think I just asked them, you know, how much are you paying for that to be done? And they told me and I said, Well, you know, I can do it for less than that. And I guess soon they just decided to you know, give them a shot. So I think it started with just my grandparents and maybe their neighbours and then a buddy of mine through high school. We ended up growing it to maybe I don’t know, 25 or 30 accounts. I don’t know how big it was at its height. But yeah, it was sort of like a small thing. They just started small when I was young and then sort of kept growing. And you actually make pretty good money if you’re, you know, a high school student that just does it on weekends and and afternoons.
David Ralph [4:24]
So it was a tough, warm and your neighbourhood. Was it?
Ryan Delk [4:27]
Yeah, it? Uh, yeah, I ended up working out pretty well. I mean, we got we had a couple neighbourhoods where we had pretty good penetration, and we could, you know, had six or seven yards in a strip, and it works out pretty well that way.
David Ralph [4:37]
So, you know, I’m not gonna spend all the time talking about this, but what were the old guys, the old guys who’d been doing the neighbourhood for years, and had this standard, you know, turn up, move along, get paid And away they go. And then you’re suddenly coming in and undercutting them was there was asked all of a bit of arty bargy did you use or get lawn mowers at dawn?
Ryan Delk [5:00]
Not quite. I mean, I think it was mostly just they had, you know, way higher overhead than we had. And also, they, you know, these were adults that needed to make a lot more money, you know, then we had to make and so we were able to do it at a lower cost. And it was mostly like, you know, friends, and then the friends would introduce us to their neighbours, and, you know, that kind of thing. And I think in retrospect, we probably could have grown it a lot bigger than we did, and probably could have made a lot more money than we did, you know, in terms of hiring a lot of employees and, and then, you know, selling it to a larger company. But I’m still I learned a lot of lessons. And it was definitely a good experience.
David Ralph [5:34]
I actually used to go out washing cars, myself, and I used to wait until the coldest most miserable day, because you knew that every single person you knock on the door was going to say yes, who wants to go out and you know, wash cars when it’s freezing cold. And you exact, you could make a fortune on it. But now I rarely see children in my neighbourhood doing anything like that. I don’t know if that’s the same in America, but it seems to be a fear or young kids going around neighbourhoods knocking on doors I used to do in the 70s.
Ryan Delk [6:02]
Yeah, it’s definitely different. I mean, I grew up in Florida. So the lawn service, everything sort of like related to lawns. And all that was in much very, very high demand compared to other places just because the grass was constantly growing, and it was hot, and people didn’t want to be outside and all that. So I definitely had an advantage from that perspective.
David Ralph [6:19]
So you grew up in Florida, but the home of the mouse, and I imagine there must have been part of your time everyone I’ve spoken to seems to have either a net a relative or by have themselves worked in one of the theme parks did, were you goofy at the weekend?
Ryan Delk [6:37]
You know, I might be an exception to that rule. I don’t think I don’t think I even know anyone who you know, has worked at Disney World.
Yeah, I can’t think of anyone I know. That’s weird. Now that I think about it, because it’s such a high percentage of the total employment of that area. But yeah, I don’t think I know anyone that’s worked. worked at Disney at all. That’s That’s the first time I thought about that.
David Ralph [6:59]
Because I got told me and I complete this at all to carry out. I might be ruining this. If, if any children are listening, please put your fingers in your ears now. But all the characters are actually women, because they’re smaller.
Ryan Delk [7:13]
Hmm, I didn’t know that. I should brush up on my Disney trivia.
David Ralph [7:17]
Yeah. So if you ever meet somebody who’s really into Disney, then you’re going to get in there big time. Because you know, those kind of facts? is a good way to pull. Okay, so you’re in Florida, you haven’t been involved in Disney World at all. But you go through Florida University. What were you studying at that time? Did you at that time have a career path planned out? Or were you just going the standard route, which most of us do, or trying to find the education courses that kind of covered standard jobs?
Ryan Delk [7:50]
Yeah, so I, I majored in economics at USF. I thought, I mean, I was I was always sort of interested in entrepreneurship and likes starting random little side projects here in there. You know, from pretty early age, but then definitely through college was constantly doing that. freshman year, I thought I wanted to do, I wanted to do banking of some sort, either investment banking, or some sort of similar path. And so I went, I did an internship at a bank in Orlando, working in the small business sort of business loans department and learned a lot from that experience, the main thing I learned was that I didn’t want to do banking. And it wasn’t like, it wasn’t really a doing nothing comparable to Jim, like an internship at Goldman. So it wasn’t, you know, exactly what I would have experienced. But it gave me a taste of the finance world, and that I didn’t want to do that. So that sort of sent me back to the drawing board a little bit. And then I sort of as through that process, decided I wanted to do, the next summer, I wanted to do sort of the craziest thing that I could think of in terms of you know, what I wanted to spend my summer interning or working. And that’s when I went to Africa, as you mentioned. And that was sort of what I think spurred me along into realising I wanted to sort of dive into the tech world and be more involved in the startups that are coming out of SF.
David Ralph [9:07]
So So what did you parents? So you come back and you say that I’ve been in banking, because most parents I imagine at that age, want you to go into a job that I understand, you know, and working in an office is something that the older generation, naturally, naturally passed through themselves. So you’re in that job? And then you suddenly say, Mom, dad can’t stand this anymore. I want to go to Africa. did they go? Yes, go for it, or was it? Hang on mine? what you’re doing? You’ve got a stable job there?
Ryan Delk [9:35]
No, I mean, I think they, they were probably pretty. I don’t know if they saw it necessarily saw it coming. But I had been I probably pushed the boundaries, or at least the norms with, you know, most of the things in my life, many times before that. So I don’t know, I wouldn’t say they expected it. But I would say they I don’t think they were surprised. I don’t think it was like something that took them by surprise, by any means. I’m guessing by that point, they had probably realised even if I hadn’t realised it that I probably wasn’t going to, you know, just do like a traditional, like, become an insurance salesman in Orlando or something. You know, they had probably realised that I was, that was not what I was going to do. And we’re probably anticipating, I don’t know, I should probably ask them that. But I don’t think they were anticipating me doing a sort of standard career path and probably doing something a little different.
David Ralph [10:22]
That’s interesting that you say that, you know, you think about it, they probably knew that about you before you knew it yourself.
Ryan Delk [10:30]
Yeah, I mean, they were always so I was homeschooled through middle school, which is actually probably the entire reason why I’m anywhere close to where I am today is because they allowed me the freedom to, and they recognised early on that there was a lot of things that I could do, there was a lot of things that it empowered me to do, that I wouldn’t have done if I was, you know, at a standard, like middle school or elementary school. Things like the lawn service, things like that, that I learned so much more from than I ever would have learned in the classroom. And so they were always, like, super supportive. And they, you know, they were able to just basically allow me to get as much flexibility as they could, you know, even through high school, to do the things that I wanted to do, and to learn a lot of things the hard way, without them intervening or trying to, you know, create a safe, you know, environment around the sort of risky things that I was doing.
David Ralph [11:22]
So So is homeschooling, you know, a common thing in the United States, because it is not in the United Kingdom in any shape, or form. I think most of us go through what we call comprehensive where all the girls, all the boys get pushed into classes, 30 year class, and you you come out the upper end in five years time, but you can actually separate yourself from the education system and be schooled at home.
Ryan Delk [11:46]
Yeah, so for i think it’s it’s definitely more common here. There’s probably there’s a certain stigma around homeschooling, that isn’t necessarily accurate. All in all cases, that certainly wasn’t accurate. In my case. I think it works really well for some people, and probably works really horribly for a lot of other people. Like, I have no idea if I would homeschool my kids. But for me, it worked really well because I was pretty driven. And I was pretty, you know, excited about what I was doing. And so it was a perfect fit for me. And we also did a hybrid sort of a hybrid thing. So when I went to a private high school, and it was totally, the transition wasn’t difficult at all went to a you know, a big public university. It wasn’t difficult at all. So for me, it was perfect. And like I said, I mean, it was it was probably the best possible thing that’s happened to me so far in my life in terms of my own personal development and the things that I learned because of that, but I think for other people, you know, and my mom was also just incredible at what she did. So I mean, she went to school, and majored in education, like she was amazing. So I think for a lot of other people that probably didn’t have that, you know, that sort of level of resources around them. And that framework probably wouldn’t work as well. But for me ended up working really well.
David Ralph [12:58]
Easy, not lonely, both.
Ryan Delk [13:01]
No, not at all. I mean, I had a core group of friends in my neighbourhood, the guy that I started the lawn service with, was a guy who was also homeschooled, and I mean, we, I probably had a better tighter friend group than I would have. I would say I had a better and tighter friend group when I was in middle school and elementary school being homeschooled and I did or at least comparable to that I did in high school. When I was going to a standard private school.
David Ralph [13:29]
I can’t imagine I’ve got kids, and I can’t imagine them paying attention to me if I was trying to teach them a home.
Ryan Delk [13:36]
Yeah, I think it definitely it depends on the family, and depends on the kids and the personalities and all that kind of stuff. My parents did something different with each of us, we I have two brothers and sisters. So it was they they were very, they like sort of looked at each of us figured out the way that we learned what styles work for us. And it was by no means this thing where they’re like, we’re going to, you know, we’re homeschooling our kids are homeschooling you through to college or whatever, like it was very, you know, I’ll buy child basis based on how we learned and how we what was best for us. And so, you know, each each of us enter the Unity their private school or whatever, at different times. And it was it was very much like from the perspective of the way that we learned our each of our sort of like traits and habits and personalities and all that.
David Ralph [14:20]
So So you go through homeschooling, and you then go through the education system, as you say, and you have this moment of I don’t like banking, which is very common. I I did banking for 20 years, and then I did insurance for about 10 years after that. So I can understand that totally. And when you actually kind of lost at that moment when you come out of it. Were you in that situation that so many people are where they can tell you what they don’t want to do, because I’ve done it and didn’t like it more than I actually know what I want to do with my future. I don’t
Ryan Delk [14:59]
know if I would have. I don’t think I felt that way necessarily. Because it was pretty early on like I was it was just after my freshman year. So I didn’t feel like pressure to figure that out necessarily right then. But I definitely I mean, it was definitely sort of back to the drawing board moment. But I had a lot of other things that I was really interested in and that I figured I could dive into. So it wasn’t like a panic thing, are we feeling like oh, I need to figure this out right away. Because any of that would have happened like junior year or, you know, after I graduated or something that I definitely would feel that way. But I don’t necessarily think it was it was as big of a deal just because it was still so early on. And I was really young. Because I
David Ralph [15:37]
think you are extremely lucky if you don’t realise this, and I’m sure you do, because you seem a very well rounded individual. But you are so lucky to you know, find your passion, find your path so early on, because so many people don’t. And so many people will float through job after job off the job until they even have a family and then feel almost trapped or throwing it up in the air and trying something new because I have to support that family. So I think it’s you know, is an enviable position that you found yourself in, but I know because we’re going to come to it. But you’ve got there through hard work and perseverance. But it’s a good position to be in.
Unknown Speaker [16:15]
David Ralph [16:17]
So you finally over to Africa, and you get off the plane in Nairobi, was it? Yeah. Okay. Obviously stupid question. Culture, shock. But was it so radical? Or did you kind of embrace it because it was so different?
Ryan Delk [16:37]
Now, I loved it. I mean, Nairobi is a great city. Kenya is a great country, there’s, you know, incredible community. They’re super, super talented. You know, I mean, it’s a, it’s a, you know, a huge business city. It’s, you know, just like sort of any other major city in the world. But specifically in the tech world, there’s a huge tech scene there. Super, super talented developers, designers, engineers, a bunch of cool startup founders. So it was definitely I mean, it’s, I mean, it’s not America, but like, there’s a lot of things that I don’t like about America, either. So there’s, you know, I was super excited to be there. And it was a great, you know, great experience, and I love the culture there. I love the city. I love the people there. It’s absolutely an incredible place.
David Ralph [17:25]
So ya know, I’m ob, why did you go there all the places on earth that you could have gone to what drew you there?
Ryan Delk [17:32]
Yeah, so there’s a guy. His name’s Eric Hersman. He’s the founder of a company called Lucia Hedy, and also founder of the I hub, which is the place that I worked in Nairobi. And most recently, the co founder of a company called brick, and he, I knew him, we had some mutual friends in Orlando and sort of knew each other sort of like as acquaintances. And so he, he was the founder of this co working space sort of tech community there called the I have had about three or 4000 members at that time, and was basically the one of the tech hubs for all of Africa, and sort of the hub of all the cool tech startups that are coming out of there. And so I just emailed him and said, Hey, you know, I want to come out there for the summer and, you know, help you help run the business side of this thing. However, I can, you know, if it’s working on the hub, it’s working with individual entrepreneurs that are within the community, if it’s startups that are there, whatever, I’m down for whatever. So was sort of just his like, right hand guy for the summer, essentially just working on whatever projects he thought were most valuable. And yeah, it was, I mean, I learned a tonne from him. He totally took a chance on me. And I’m super thankful for that. And he put me in a lot of opportunities that I was super uncomfortable with, but was forced to step up and just make things happen. And I feel like I did, and I learned a lot through those experiences.
David Ralph [18:55]
But I was going to ask you the question, but you you kind of already sort of lead into it. He took a Johnson you are what do you think he saw in the young Ryan doke. Why? Why did he sort of give you those opportunities?
Ryan Delk [19:08]
I don’t know. I should ask him that. I think I mean, I he definitely put me through like a little bit of like some tests. He, I think he emailed me like a week or two before maybe like a week before? Or emailed me I emailed him and he said, Hey, okay, I’m going to be in Orlando, you know, do you want to meet at, like 7am in Orlando is like two and a half, three hours, two and a half hours from where I was at school, you want to meet at like 7am at this coffee shop, to chat or whatever. So there was some like, he put up some beer like bars. And in retrospect, I saw what he was doing. He was sort of testing like, How bad do I want this? You know, what type person am I? And of course, I said, Yeah, let’s do it, like, see there. And he so he hires basically on two things. He has people that are smart, and people that get things done. And I remember sending him my resume. And he said, He’s like, I’m letting you know, open that attachment, because the only person I’ve ever hired based on their resume is the only person I’ve ever fired. And I really liked that quote, and that mentality, because he just, he’d much prefer just to talk to you and spend 30 or 45 minutes with you and figure out if you’re smart. And if you get things done. And if those two things are true, then, from his perspective, you’re going to succeed, you know, at some role within what he’s working on, and he can help you be successful. So that was sort of his metric. And I guess I qualified.
David Ralph [20:27]
I think that’s brilliant, though, isn’t it, you know, to actually sit down one to one and not look at the resume, because at the end of the day, and I’ve been saying this to people for years and years and years, because I’ve been in corporate land, but it’s not about what you’ve done. It’s about what you can do. And in most companies, they’re going to train you in what they want you to do. They just want you to be able to do it. And I’ve always said that a resume is it’s kind of a waste of time really is a Paperchase you know. Because, you know, you you list your responsibilities. You bless what you’ve done over the last few years. But of course, everyone’s done those same things. Because if you’re working in a corporate land, you’re going to get there. It’s about mindset isn’t it is about integrity is about honesty. And you’re only going to get that by actually having a conversation and thinking, I’ve got a connexion with this person, and I trust them.
Unknown Speaker [21:17]
David Ralph [21:18]
What was it that he trusted about you, Ryan? In that coffee shop in Orlando at seven o’clock in the morning? What?
Ryan Delk [21:27]
What in terms of like responsibilities? Or
David Ralph [21:29]
Yeah, cuz I’m, you know, I am fascinated because, you know, at that stage of your, your career, I wouldn’t imagine other than having a hustle muscle to get things going. In your regards, you know, the fact that you were willing to email this person and saying, I will do this, and the fact that you’re willing to get there at seven o’clock in the morning. But a lot of other people would do that same thing. So what do you reckon he saw in you that separated you from from the other people that he was probably we’ll be seeing about time?
Ryan Delk [22:02]
I don’t know. I mean, we chatted about some ideas for for the I have, I had some questions for him. Which I think in retrospect, like when I’m interviewing people, that’s always a really, really good size, if they have good questions that are not available on the internet, by you know, googling something for you about your business or about what you’re working on. So I think I had probably some good questions for him and some, hopefully good ideas for things that I would work on. And then I’m pretty sure before that, that he probably reference cheque to me with mutual friends that we had, and just asked, you know, what they thought about me or what, you know, if I’d worked with them, like what was, you know, what was that like? So I think he probably reference cheque me and went in with a little bit of a bias towards thinking it might work out. And then after the conversation, figured it was worth taking a chance on.
David Ralph [22:51]
So as we say, Hey, now what skills have you got, but other people in your environment your peer group haven’t got? Because the avatar at the show is the people who want to change their life, but are kind of frightened to take that first step? Do they need all the skills that you’ve got now? Or is that something you can learn? Is there something tangible something almost, you know, about your personality that sets you apart and get you to the position where you’re on the show today?
Ryan Delk [23:21]
Um, I don’t know. I mean, I don’t think I feel like I’m still learning a lot. And I think I have a long way to go. You know, from a, from like, a job, like a role perspective, and learning how to build gum road, and how to make government more successful. And also, from a personal perspective, I think, I mean, I’ve definitely been the benefit of a lot of people, you know, taking time to either Teach me things or invest in me, or like what Eric did, and what a lot of other people have done, put me in situations where, you know, I was uncomfortable, or I felt like I was in over my head, and they, you know, pushed me to succeed. And, you know, those situations are definitely things that I learned, you know, so much from in a very hyper condensed period, you know, that I would have never learned otherwise. And so I think those those types of situations and trying to get yourself into positions where you’re in those situations is really important. And the other thing I looked for, particularly when I was thinking about, like internships and colleges, trying to work for the people that I wanted to be like, in five or 10 years, and find those people, and then try to, like work directly under them or directly with them. And bad, I think was like, that definitely informed my, you know, wanting to work with Eric, and Nairobi and not, you know, I learned a tonne from him as a result. So I think, yeah, I mean, I don’t know exactly how to answer that question. But that’s probably, you know, the biggest contributor so far. Yeah, I
David Ralph [24:42]
think you’ve answered that fully. And in the phrase that I picked up from that was, you were very proactive about getting yourself in positions. You You, you knew what you wanted, and you found the angle to get it. So many people? Well, I heard a stat where they say, only 1% of the population who ever been on the world have taken action or created something or invented something. And you seem to be somebody that is an action taker, and will make things happen. And people might be listening now and going, yes, it’s all right for him. But of course, you, you you, you’ve joined up those dots, you’ve made those things occur in your life by taking the the steps in the action, but but perhaps other people wouldn’t have done.
Ryan Delk [25:25]
Yeah, I think I mean, there’s definitely, that framework can definitely be super helpful, particularly if you’re young, and you’re trying to figure out what you want to do with your life and where you want to be and how you want to create value for people.
David Ralph [25:35]
Do you see yourself as a role model for for younger Ryan Delvaux coming up? Did you get people sort of emailing you asking for your your help and your assistance and your knowledge?
Ryan Delk [25:49]
Yeah, I definitely get a lot of emails from people asking for, you know, for help or insight. But I mean, I think that I’m I have so far to go and have so much left to learn that I definitely try to share anything that I’ve learned most of it is from making mistakes and doing making stupid decisions that I learned from. And so if I can save people that time, then I definitely try to do it. And you know, there’s things that have worked really well for us the gum road that I’ve learned that I definitely try to share, but I don’t I feel like there’s so much room for me to learn from almost everyone I talked to, you know, even people that call in, you know, asking or call me or email me asking for advice. Like, I generally learned stuff from them as well. So, you know, I’m trying to, I’m trying to do the same thing that they’re doing as well, you know, perhaps just with different people or different circumstances.
David Ralph [26:33]
But the theme of the show is about Steve Jobs speech back in 2005, when he talks about not being able to see your future, without at that moment is only when you look back and you join up the dots. And I’m going to play that now. Because what you said there was there was a lot of stupid decisions that you made. But lots of those stupid decisions, were actually the ones that kind of put you in certain positions, because you had to react to it, you had to operate in a different way to perhaps how you would have done if everything had gone your way. Yeah. So let’s listen to Steve Jobs and see how relevant This is
Steve Jobs [27:12]
to you. Now, 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 [27:49]
So you say you’ve made stupid decisions in the past, and I’m sure you’re going to make stupid decisions in the future, because that’s how life is you just saw you do some really good things, you do some amazing things and do stuff that just doesn’t hit the mark. Have you got more faith in yourself at those stupid decisions can be worked out to to your benefit? Because you’ve already gone through that in the past? And you and you’ve seen that? Do you have gotten intuition? like Steve was saying, bear? Because even in your age, at the moment, you can already look back and connect those dots.
Ryan Delk [28:24]
Yeah, I definitely feel that way. I think, you know, I see that both I see the dots connecting for me both in positive things and negative things. Both in times where, you know, I took chances and was in a, you know, a risky situation, or put myself out there and ended up paying off and in a big way, or in situations where you know, I didn’t make good decisions, or I took a risk and it failed or whatever. You know, and then that led to something that I would have never gotten otherwise. So yeah, I definitely see that I see the dots connecting, both catalysed by poor decisions, but all or not important issues, but just poor, you know, circumstances. And then also by, you know, things that took a chance on that ended up working
David Ralph [29:06]
out really well. But most chances are the ones that normally have the big pile phone like that got to
Ryan Delk [29:12]
Yeah, I definitely I think, you know, I can talk more about this later, in terms of the advice that I would give myself when I was younger, but I think risks always seem bigger than they are, at least up until a certain point. And you know, in retrospect, the things that felt like these huge deals, and this really scary things, you know, when I was 19. Now, four years later, don’t feel like they were that risky at all, or at least feel like very small risks. And I think probably the things that I feel like are super risky right now that I’m doing or choosing to do are, you know, in four years not going to feel like they were that big of risks. But I think the payoff can be, you know, really, really high, particularly if you’re taking risks that are calculated, and that you you know, that you’re putting yourself in a position to see success.
David Ralph [30:01]
But there is a theme that runs through all the shows, and I mentioned it all the time. It’s a daily show. So I have to sort of repeat myself quite often. And one of the things that a lot of people talk about is the leap of faith. And they they reference the scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade when Harrison Ford has to take a leap of faith and he steps off the cliff, and you expect him to plummet to his death, but he doesn’t he kind of lands on this bridge. And then he sort of walks across and he gets hold of the Holy Grail. Um, do you do you remember that scene in that film?
Ryan Delk [30:33]
I think so. It’s been a while, but I’m pretty sure I know exactly we’re talking about
David Ralph [30:37]
now, most of the guests are saying that they’ve all had those leaps of faith where they wasn’t sure that it was going to pan out. But they just knew that it was something that they had to do. Is that a calculated risk? I don’t know. Because I didn’t really know that there was going to be a positive response to it. Is there any in your life that you could go? Yes, that was my absolute leap of faith. And yes, it’s pen down, because you’re here talking to us today. But at that one moment, you were more scared than any other time in your life up to that point?
Ryan Delk [31:09]
Yeah, I think I mean, I think that that risks can be calculated, even when you don’t know the outcome, I view like a calculated risk as something where you’re thinking about, okay, the risk, there’s a risk here, but it’s, it’s the potential upside is much higher than the potential downside. You know, which is sort of, hopefully why you make any decision in your life. But for me, that was a lot of how I viewed it, where, you know, there’s certainly a risk, there’s certainly a potential, you know, negative here, but that’s, you know, very heavily outweighed by the potential upside, or what could come of this. So, yeah, I mean, I think, you know, going to Africa was definitely a risk, it was something that I there was a lot of uncertainty around, you know, but I definitely, absolutely 100% would not be would not have the opportunities that I had, after that way, if I hadn’t got, if I had done, you know, a different internship or work somewhere else, or whatever. So, there’s definitely things I mean, I’ve seen a payoff, you know, in situations like that pretty heavily. And, you know, the risk wasn’t massive, I mean, the biggest risk was that I would go there and, you know, not create any value for summer. And, you know, they would say, hey, you didn’t do a very good job, or whatever. I mean, that’s not, that’s not actually that big of a risk and retrospective through, you know, spending three months of your life. But that that felt like a really big risk at that point. And, you know, but the payoff was was very, very high.
David Ralph [32:35]
You see, internal conflict, isn’t it? Everyone has those voices, that some, the voices, they allow them to control them, and other people can just silence them. But no matter who you are, no matter where you are, no matter what level what salary, whatever, we all have those voices is a human element that we we have to overcome.
Unknown Speaker [32:56]
David Ralph [32:58]
Do you do you ever have those voices when you can’t overcome them? Ryan? You seem supremely competent. But do you ever have those moments when you you sort of lay in bed? You know, almost stomach churning constantly, because you think, Oh, this is too much for me to deal with at the moment?
Ryan Delk [33:14]
Yeah, definitely. I mean, I, I do try to be confident, but I’m also I mean, I definitely question myself a lot. I think everyone has a lot of insecurity that we don’t let out, or don’t talk about. But I think that everyone has that. And then it’s important to, you know, to talk about that, because it’s new everyone deals with no matter how confident they seem on the outside. And I actually have a theory that people that seem confident, are the most insecure. Because I feel like it’s true with me. And I think that’s probably true with a lot of other people. But yeah, I mean, there’s, there’s moments all the time, I think, anytime that you are, you know, really, really deeply, whenever, whenever you really deeply care about something, you know, whether it’s a company you’re working on or someone you’re something you’re building something for, or an opportunity you want to get like you’re if you’re really emotionally invested in that, at a deep level, there’s, you know, you’re going to feel that sort of like stomach turning, not being able to sleep, either, you know, nervous about how something’s going to work out or frustrated about a decision that you made. You know, I can definitely identify that both gum road and, you know, in some I’ve worked on in the past.
David Ralph [34:20]
And, and now at gum road, as I said in the introduction, you You must be meeting, you know, celebrities, artists trying to get their workout. And these are the people that you would imagine, are supremely confident, because they have to get up on stage, they have to sing they have to put themselves out there. Have you met anyone without giving any names? I’m not interested in names. But have you met any celebrities that you have been really surprised, but their public persona was not the person that you were meeting?
Ryan Delk [34:48]
Yeah, I think, I mean, there’s very few people that
you know, the the persona that you see on TV, or you know, in interviews or whatever, you know, there’s very few people where that line up, you know, closely with who they are as a person, and sometimes that’s completely intentional, you know, because it becomes, after a certain point, it becomes easier just to have sort of an alter ego of sorts that you use in the public that is, you know, very calculated and very controlled and safe. You know, and then you have sort of who you really are, I think there’s a few people that definitely, you know, are sort of just who they are all the time, and I don’t think it’s, I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all, to have, you know, two separate sort of at least two separate sort of personalities of the way that you handle things, because I think that, you know, it’s just, it’s actually really, really tough being in their shoes. And there’s, you know, a lot of negatives that, that go with that life. And I think a lot of times, you know, they’re, they’re also there’s a lot of people who are really insecure, you know, they, they’re, they’re very, very good. I think we’re all like, we have things that we’re really, really good at, that we we come across as very confident and and we were very, you know, calculated and under control and that environment, but then, you know, there’s other environments where we feel like a fish out of water, we have no idea what to do. And I think that’s true about everyone, regardless of you know, the I think you can sort of maximise the amount of, you know, situations where you are confident or you feel like you have, you know, a really, really good, you know, handle on things. But I think there’s always going to be those that you know, you’re not, you don’t feel like you’re in your core competencies.
David Ralph [36:19]
Yeah, well, or your unique self, you find that competence, because you’re playing to the strengths, which are inherently yourself.
Ryan Delk [36:28]
David Ralph [36:29]
So if I took you right now, and I said to you, and I asked this question, we’ve lots of people, I’m quite interested in this. And I said to you, okay, I’d like you to stand in front of a boardroom of 60 people and do a presentation for 45 minutes on a subject, you know, very well, would you be able to do it? Yeah, absolutely. If I said to you, I want you to sing it in front of them for 45 minutes. Would you be able to do it?
Ryan Delk [36:57]
I wouldn’t like it. But I definitely had a I had a small little side music career that I wanted to take off in college, so I i definitely, I definitely could do it if I needed to, but probably wouldn’t, wouldn’t be my ideal situation.
David Ralph [37:11]
So Ryan Bell with a sort of Rockstar money, was it back in back in the day?
Ryan Delk [37:18]
I mean, the day was only really three or four years ago. So the mullet wasn’t quite the
David Ralph [37:24]
same old fan. Yeah. But I’ve been for Yeah, I still I’m still economy in the money video. I’m not sure what’s happening. Nice. So So what instrument did you play? Or was it singing? Was it? What did you do?
Ryan Delk [37:37]
A little bit of everything. Mostly guitar was sort of the main thing. But
David Ralph [37:41]
so who did you base yourself on? If, if I said to you, what kind of artist in your head when you was, you know, doing your stuff? Who did you think you were?
Ryan Delk [37:53]
I mean, I, the artist, the frontman, that I really liked would be I mean, I think Brandon Flowers from the killers is one of the restaurant men and music Chris Martin from Coldplay. So probably a lot of the a lot of the sort of go to cliche ones are probably my favourite.
David Ralph [38:09]
I’d like to see that I’d like to see the Ryan Delk album, because in gum road, you could make an album and you could put it straight into their hands.
Ryan Delk [38:18]
Yes, I’ve I’ve thought about, you know, putting out some of the some of the old stuff, maybe I’ll do one day, I had some friends that I you know, collaborated on? A couple little couple little projects. So it’d be fun to put those out there sometime.
David Ralph [38:30]
So so in your role with gum road? What do you do on a daily basis, then because this, this is a new concept to me. And when I started reading about it, I thought to myself, well, this is kind of genius, that artists can make the album stay in total control of it, it seemed to me, and then almost get paid for it before they make it by the fans, and then give it to the fans. Is that? Am I right on that? Or is that a sort of simple view of it?
Ryan Delk [38:58]
No, I think that’s I mean, that’s sort of the foundation and the whole, the whole model is that, you know, the, the economics of creativity right now are broken. And in order for basically, most creators don’t get fairly compensated from their for their work. And they’re, you know, they have an audience, and they’re not able to make a living off that audience, in most cases, and they have to have a second job or, you know, a primary job, and then they make their art or their work on the side. And then the ones that have a big audience, you know, they see a very, very small percentage of the fruits of their labour actually ending up in, you know, in their pocket, and I’m not, I’m not one that there’s a lot of people that say, like, you know, artists should just be entrepreneurs, and they should just have their, you know, they should just be able to run everything themselves. And, you know, once you once you take a closer look at the music industry, and you know, the film industry and all these different industries, you guys like, everyone along, or most people on the value chain are actually adding a lot of value, and they’re, you know, they’re taking a cut from the revenue for that value. You know, but a lot of it is very necessary, you know, managers add a lot of value to an artist’s career, there’s a lot of roles that that can be said for. But for us, we’re trying to, you know, empower those people that are in those roles and working with the artists or the filmmakers, or whoever it is, you know, to be able to get the most amount of revenue from their their work and not have to deal with, you know, a commerce platform, or a marketplace that takes 30% or 40%, or 50%, you know, or more of the revenue from a project.
David Ralph [40:25]
So was that an artist that kicked this off? Or was it gum road kicking off? Was this an idea that was been floating around for a while, but you’ve kind of realised it in your company?
Ryan Delk [40:38]
Yeah, I mean, there’s artists that have tried this before, you know, with various tools, whether it’s, you know, authors or filmmakers or, you know, direct distribution has been, as was definitely a thing before government existed. And Soho has the founder of gum road, and whose brainchild This is, he actually, you know, started it not for any piece of music or film or a book, but for a Photoshop icon that he had designed, that he you know, spend a lot of time on ended up not using, and thought, hey, there’s probably people on Twitter who would want to buy this, you know, and it would save them a lot of time, if they could just buy this pencil icon. And so, you know, he ended up basically just packing this thing together so that he could sell this pencil icon to his followers on Twitter, and then realise the potential of it, you know, for all types of creators and began to scale it from there
David Ralph [41:27]
is one of those ideas, isn’t it as soon as you you hear it, you think, God, I should have had that idea that it just seems so perfect in so many formats. And even with my, my narrow minded entrepreneurial brain, which generally will trigger into excitement, when I’ve seen somebody already do something, you kind of look at this, and you can see every avenue that you could go through it. This is this is like life changing for so many people, even though it’s a company, but until a couple of days ago, when you confirmed you’d be on show and I started so doing some investigation on you. I’d never heard of in any shape or form.
Ryan Delk [42:06]
Yeah, I mean, we, you know, part of it is the blessing and the curse of the type of platform we’re trying to build, and we were not a consumer facing. You know, it’s like a marketplace that people go to Gmail, com and download all their favourite stuff. Our model is that we give the power of distribution to the creator’s themselves. So you know, ideally, when you go and buy something from a creator, it feels like you’re just buying it from them, it doesn’t feel like you’re buying it from gum road. And, you know, as we’ve scaled, like, we started to build, you know, a bit of a consumer facing brand where people see the payment flow, and they say, okay, you know, I realised this is gum road, that’s awesome. You know, but for the most part, we want it to feel like you’re just buying it directly from that creator. And, you know, because of that we’re not like a consumer facing marketplace, you know, in any way, shape or form.
David Ralph [42:51]
Are you excited by Oh,
Ryan Delk [42:54]
yeah, I’m absolutely pumped. I mean, the the reason why I think I think the world will be a better place, if, if something like gum road scales, you know, in a big way. And gum road becomes, you know, if government becomes the primary way that a lot of creators are distributing their content, the world is going to be a better place, because they’re going to be making more money off what they make, they’re gonna be able to make more art that everyone loves, you know, consumers, and fans are going to have more direct access to that content, you know, there’s not going to be as many barriers up to getting the content, and then people will be able to do what they love. You know, we have so many people that have so many storeys of people that have, you know, we’re working a job and sort of whether there was writing books or doing films or recording music at night, and then they were selling it through the traditional means and not making much money. And then they realised, hey, I can sort of build an audience own my audience sell directly to them, get all the data from the transactions, learn from that, and sort of repeat that process. And I can make as much work in some cases much, much more money than I was making it my full time job. And those storeys are the things that we want to scale you not from a couple of hundred or a couple thousand of creators, but we want to have hundreds of thousands and millions of creators that had that same storey and they’re able then to do what they love, and that their audiences just thrilled by it, because they get more art and content that they enjoy.
David Ralph [44:15]
I think that’s one side of it. And the other side, I feel is that the artists have got the ability to grow. And they’re not like the artists that you see for American Idol and X Factor as it is over here, where they will release a single and if it doesn’t do very well, they might get a chance of another single and then that’s it, they’ve gone forever, by people actually sort of self publicising and creating their own work, they can actually grow and they can make live mistakes, can’t buy and do a great album. And then the next one may not be as good, but not like the record company just dropping them, they can actually develop and they can learn from their mistakes and keep on joining up the dots in their own sort of creative career.
Ryan Delk [45:00]
Yeah, I mean, the the idea and the the opportunities that come from owning your audience are very powerful. I mean, when you have, you know, the email addresses of your fans and are able to see, hey, here’s where my fans are coming from, here’s where they’re purchasing from, you know, here’s the platforms that they’re engaging with me on, it’s really, really powerful, because you can make a lot of decisions based on that, you know, almost everyone who uses gum road has, you know, product launches, or, or releases content that doesn’t do as well as other content they’ve released. And, you know, you learn from that, and then you move on to the next one. And you still have, you know, an audience there that, that you can distribute things to and that you know, is excited about getting your work and the idea of owning that whole process, and really owning your audience and not just, you know, sort of viewing it as one of many marketing channels that you can sort of shoot things out to, but really an audience that you own, you’re cultivating and you’re engaging with, it’s really empowering, and it allows you to, you know, make mistakes, and, you know, sort of more sustained Emily, you know, grow your career, grow the money, that you’re making the revenue, all that good stuff.
David Ralph [46:05]
Well, I love the fact that you are pumped, as you say, so every day you you, you must love coming into work, you must love that you’re creating something, and you are an integral part of it, because you are really the avatar of the show you are the kind of people that I’m trying to reach out and say, you know, you can have a kick ass life, you can really do stuff. And you’ve just got to overcome those fears, you’ve got to start, you’ve got to challenge the status quo, to be able to have all that, and you seem to me as the sort of the poster boy of what I’m trying to achieve. So you know, I salute you credit to you
Ryan Delk [46:43]
are Thank you, I appreciate that.
David Ralph [46:45]
But so bringing us to the end, Ryan, just so that I can let you go off and have more celebrity lunches with people. This is the bit that we call the Sermon on the mic. And this is a bit when I play a little bit of music. And I’ve been step away from the mic and let you go back in time and give advice to your younger self. And it can be any age of younger self. But what kind of words would you say to that person? And to be honest, they’re not going to be that much younger than you are now. But I’m going to play the music, I’m going to go quiet. And this is the Sermon on the mic.
Unknown Speaker [47:22]
Here we go with the best bit of the show.
Ryan Delk [47:39]
Yeah, so if I was, I was talking to a younger version of myself. I’ve been thinking about this for for a couple hours now thinking about what I would say. And I think that the two things that I would say is one, you know, there that I mentioned it earlier, but I think that the risks that that seemed very big, or the seem very big, in the moment, in retrospect, often are much, much smaller than you see or feel much smaller in retrospect. And that that manifests itself in a lot of different ways. But the most important way, I think, is that the failures that could happen from taking those risks are actually much smaller. You know, there’s been moments within gum road within, you know, when I was in college with an internship that I had, where I felt like I had made the most catastrophic mistake, you know, assuming that it was going to impact the company in some massive way, or whatever. And what you realise is that there’s, there’s actually very few mistakes that you make, that have any sort of lasting, you know, implications, and there certainly are those that do and that are, you know, very bad, but the ones the sort of, like everyday mistakes that a lot of people make, you know, really don’t have a lasting impact. And they’re actually pretty easy to spring back from. And, you know, as you move forward, and as you learn from them, they can actually be a thing catalyse a lot of growth and a lot of future opportunities. And the other thing I would say is, I think it’s, it’s really difficult when you’re young to to play the long game. And it’s easy to feel like you need to be accomplishing more, you need to be farther along. Or you need to optimise your life for sort of short term, either goals or happiness or whatever. But, you know, you realise that, and I’m still realising this, that the the people that you admire, and the people you look up to, often they’ve been doing the things that they’re doing for, you know, 10 2030 years sometimes. And there’s, that’s a very, very long arc, you know, of time that you can make mistakes, and that you can learn from that you can grow from, and if you play the long game, and you’re, you know, those people that you admire, if you want to be in their shoes, and realise that you have a lot of time to accomplish, that it can help you, I think, make decisions that are going to be for you long term. And it might mean, you know, not not taking as many opportunities that are going to, you know, whatever it is give you more notoriety or more wealth or whatever in the short term for things that are investing more in your future and the long term goals that you have. And so yeah, those are probably the two pieces of advice that I would give, I would give my younger self if
David Ralph [50:21]
I could. And I think there are two pieces of advice that everyone should take on board. Certainly I’m taking those on board, because I think I’m still learning and and Ryan, it’s been a learning curve for me tonight, because you are so focused, you’re so tunnel vision, but you’re doing it the right way. And you come across as a lovely bloke, and I really wish you all the best. And as I say to all the guests, if you ever have anything that you want to share again, please come back on, because your history is going to continue to keep on growing. And we’ll have more opportunities of looking back and joining up those dots and by joining those dots is the best way to build our future. Ryan Delk. Thank you so much.
Ryan Delk [51:00]
Thanks for having me, David.
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.