World of Speakers E.107: Max Ringelheim | When Going Viral
Ryan Foland speaks with Max Ringelheim, co-founder of 2015’s viral hoverboard fad, a sales/marketing consultant, and a motivational speaker.
In this episode of our podcast series, Ryan and Max talk about how you can feel empowered to want to share your story with others so that they can learn from it.
Tune in for an interview full of ideas and tips on having a full grip on your story so you can communicate it properly as a public speaker.
Listen to the interview on iTunes or Soundcloud.
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Welcome to the World of Speakers podcast, brought to you by SpeakerHub. In each episode, we interview a professional speaker and reveal their very best tips and tricks. You’ll learn to improve your presentation skills, keep your audience engaged, and learn how to grow your business to get more gigs and make more money. Here’s your host, Ryan Foland.
Ryan Foland: Hello, everyone. It’s that time again when you’ve chosen to listen to an episode of the World of Speakers. You’re in luck today because we’ve brought somebody who created something that created a buzz around the world. Now, that buzz also fizzled out and died in a big fiery death, but those are some of the best stories and lessons to be learned. His name is Max Ringelheim. Is that right, Max?
Max Ringelheim: You nailed it.
Ryan Foland: Got a little ring to it, right? Little Ringelheim.
Max Ringelheim: Ringelheim’s got a ring to it.
Ryan Foland: Ringelheim’s got a ring to it. He’s passionate about being a tech entrepreneur and he’s got an interesting story as the founder, essentially of the 2015’s viral spread of the hoverboard, which I have my own unique hoverboard story, and I’m sure we all do, but they’re gone and that’s what I’m actually excited to dig into as well, but that has essentially led him to create a new media brand called When Going Viral. Ooh, the buzzword, going viral, that’s what everyone chases after, “I want to go viral,” but it works and I’m sure there’s a method behind it. So welcome to the show, Max.
Max Ringelheim: Thank you so much for having me, Ryan. Excited to be here and get right into it and chop it up with you.
Ryan Foland: Let’s chop up some story sandwiches because instead of talking about how awesome you are, we want to learn about a story in the moment that changed the way you perceived life, something that impacted you personally, something that made you who you are, just some sort of a story that moved you, shaped you, is memorable, and I think we’ll get to know you a little bit through that.
Max Ringelheim: Yeah, totally. Again, thank you for having me. I think there’s one specific story that I think has certainly helped shape me today. You hinted at it with 2015’s viral hoverboard fad. So myself and two buddies of mine back in late 2014, early 2015, before no one knew what a hoverboard was like they do today, had discovered this device in China.
Ryan Foland: Oh, real quick. Real quick. Real quick. The hoverboard, as far as I knew, was what Marty McSorley was riding around in the future, and so in my mind as a kid I was like, “I want a hoverboard.” But for me, the hovering part… Yeah. Then he put two wheels on it on the side and go forward and here we are with hoverboard. Sorry to interrupt. Keep going.
Max Ringelheim: Here we are. Exactly. I mean, there was a business insider story about our company comparing it directly to Marty McFly, so you’re all good. That comparison certainly got made in 2015. What I can say is that story, no doubt about it, really shaped me into who I am today. There’s no doubt that when he had this opportunity to start this amazing viral company called Funky Duck that literally took the world by storm and created this massive global phenomenon around 2015’s most popular device back in 2015, that type of 15, 16-month timeframe of my life was something that was invaluable for me to experience.
As a 24, 25-year-old entrepreneur at the time in 2015, who was very deeply passionate about tech startups and tech entrepreneurship at the time, every day that went by in that business and seeing the different things that we were exposed to, whether it was doing business with Kendall Jenner or having Mark Cuban reach out to our company to want to potentially get us on Shark Tank or invest directly in our business to, as we all know, late 2015 hoverboards catching fire, viral YouTube videos popping up on the internet of people falling off like Mike Tyson and hurting their back after an unfortunate fall on a hoverboard and ultimately the government banning the devices, that’s a hint-hint of what this story all compounded in this 16-month period of my life.
After that experience, I felt super, super empowered and motivated to want to share this invaluable story with the rest of the world because I felt so deep into my core that there were so many remarkable lessons learned that other aspiring entrepreneurs, like the ones that you interact with all the time at UCI, Ryan, could benefit from by hearing my story and sharing these different lessons learned and putting them or even more savvy entrepreneurs who are in their 30s or 40s in a position where they could learn from this story and not make the same multimillion mistakes that we make, right? And so, there were so many different takeaways from it that I just felt really empowered to want to share that story more broadly, part of why I’m speaking with you today, is because I’m just very passionate about paying those lessons forward, right? Ultimately, it’s part of what has materialized in terms of this media company that I’m creating now and When Going Viral. Ultimately, happy to dive more into that if you’d be interested or-
Ryan Foland: Yeah. Well, no, right now we’re interested in you and what happened in that moment and how it shaped you. What’s funny is that when you’re talking about it, I didn’t really hear anything about how terrible it was. We skipped to it happened and then you were super excited about it. So I would imagine that there was a bit of a crash that happened in there. We spoke very 10,000 foot level. I heard hoverboard, I heard viral, and then I heard crash, but I’m actually interested in maybe that inciting incident. When did things change? What went wrong? Because what you just explained, I think we all experienced from the outside. So maybe you can share one or two of those key lessons based on that moment. I want to know how you go from that rise to fall and how that changed.
Max Ringelheim: Yeah. I mean, so for instance, one thing that took place that now I hold near and dear to my heart in business in some of the current work that I do with some of my clients that I represent here in the States was its March, April 2015, our brand goes viral on the internet. We have hundreds of orders coming into our company, right?
Ryan Foland: Top of the world.
Max Ringelheim: On top of the world. Exactly. Yeah. We don’t have enough inventory to fulfill our customers’ orders demand, and we are patiently waiting day by day. And then day by day turns into a week by week for our hoverboards to arrive from China that we-
Ryan Foland: Oh, so people were ordering them, but there was not enough of them to fill the orders?
Max Ringelheim: Correct. Yes.
Ryan Foland: See, I didn’t know that. Okay.
Max Ringelheim: So that experience, right? We would get hoverboards in… We get 50 here, 100 there, but we’re getting tons and tons of orders, right? We can’t keep up with the pace at which we’re experiencing the velocity of sales. It really created a very important lesson learned and moment in my life, where you’re going to be trying to launch a major CPG company, a consumer package good type product line, and you’re going to be trying to work maybe with whether it’s A-lister celebrities, the cream of the crop, or even C-lister and D-listers, right?
You’ve got to make sure that you are in a healthy position from an inventory on hand standpoint to be able to fulfill orders and make sure you have a proper forecast in place to fulfill orders. Ultimately, that was one very important moment that had a lot of other collateral damage, I can promise you, that was tied to that, but that has had a monumental impact on shaping me as a more savvy entrepreneur, more professional business person to be able to handle in the future for some of my current work endeavors. Ultimately, happy to share some more anecdotes that created more shameful events in my life then.
Ryan Foland: Yeah. No, I liked it. That was the kind of story that I think is interesting, where you had the success, but you forgot to figure out the back end of that, and that in itself had sounds like a larger trickle effect because people ordering, they’re not getting them. That probably creates ill-will for the larger brand. And then on top of that, people slipping and falling and then to put insult to injury when they started getting catching on fire and maybe that even as a result of this sort of boom in the first place to just manufacture them as crazy and fast as possible. It’s interesting reflection case study to look back on.
Max Ringelheim: 100%. Yeah.
Ryan Foland: You learned that the hard way and I personally have learned some big lessons the hard way, but it’s personal. Again, it’s interesting, I didn’t hear any of your words that you chose to use about how terrible and awful that was just for your own emotional. You jump right to how amazing of a lesson it was. And so, my question is if somebody would’ve come back to you when you were 19 years old and they said, “Hey, there was this really popular door-stopper back in the day and we went mail roll,” which is everybody had mail-in orders and it was just amazing and a parallel story back in time. And then the person literally was like, “So the lesson is the similar lesson, being prepared for what putting out there.”
I’m curious, and maybe we can transition this into the next section, how as a speaker do you reach that 19-year-old kid with your experience that you personally had? You and I, we learned our lessons because we were involved, our ass was on the line, and relationships are on the line and finances on the line and things get pushed to the brink and maybe you turn to substance or unhealthy ways to counterbalance the stress. All of that stuff is just for me, what is that real slap in the face lesson?
I’m assuming there’s that behind the scenes, but how do you as a speaker articulate that to an audience for them to, I guess I want to say feel the pain? Because if somebody in that story of like, “Oh, this happened. This happened. This happened,” for me without that pain moment, so I can see, and I work with 19 to 20-year-olds at UCI, as you said, that then how important is it for them to experience something like that on their own for them to actually make that versus them hearing it and ending up making the same mistake until they are the one that gets cut, they’re hit in the face and now they’re like, “Oh,” right? So I want to use that as the prompt for this next section because I think so many people have amazing stories, stories of tragedy, stories of crazy heroism.
Max Ringelheim: Heroism.
Ryan Foland: Heroism. Just when fate landed the wrong deck of cards and all is lost and one of the most amazing things that the lessons learned from it create great material for keynotes, great material for lessons because they’re not just book learnings. This is where I want to know the art of your ability to communicate this. How do you tell this tragic story in a way that is empowering? What tactics and mechanisms? Because one, I would think, would be really sharing with them what really happened, so maybe they’re like, “Oh my gosh.” And then at the same time, is that too scary, and what’s the threshold of that? I know I just spoke a lot there, but-
Max Ringelheim: No, you’re fine. I totally follow you and I’m going to try and do my best and just if you want to unpeel it further.
Ryan Foland: Yeah. So as a speaker, let’s assume people who are listening, they’ve got their own crazy, crazy story. Mechanically, what are these elements or tactics to get it up on the stage in an effective way so that people actually learn with you and not just sucks for you and then they do it themselves?
Max Ringelheim: Yeah. Yeah. So I think one thing that in your question I want to make sure I stress is when you have one of these types of stories, and there’s many of them out there, it’s really important to be able to speak very humbly about it and be a complete open book and be positioned. This is how I conduct my workshops in my public speaking endeavors that I am personally invested in and continuing to push on is by showcasing that authentic, humble way of sharing this story, but with a smile on your face and not feeling you’re in the gold drums. You’re feeling so empowered to want to share this with others that they can learn from it and they can pretty instantly realize pretty quickly that you’re there to try and equip them with some new skills, new different ways of problem-solving and critical thinking to get them excited about that, that’s one way that I want to definitely call out that’s really important.
The other thing that’s really important about how I try to really emphasize for those who are participants in my workshops and in my talks, how they can take those lessons learned and apply to their own business is essentially what I do throughout my workshops, and many other facilitators I’m sure try to do this as well, I try to really put my audience in the driver’s seat, in my shoes back in 2015. And so, the way in which I structure and walk people through my story is month by month, scenario by scenario. When we get to really mission critical moments in the story, Ryan, where there are multimillion-dollar questions that got to be answered, I’ll leave my audience on a cliffhanger. I’ll stop the story right there and I’ll say to the audience, “Hey, here are the questions faced in the business right now. Based on what you know and without me giving away the rest of the story, how would you try and answer these questions based on what you know?”
I’ll typically leave a couple of minutes at that moment for them to ask me any questions so I can fill in any gaps that they might have, and then I give them an opportunity to work collaboratively and try to come up with these answers. People then return to the audience, share their answers. I give them feedback on it. And so, I think doubling down on the humbleness and paying those lessons forward and putting them in the driver’s seat, these aspiring entrepreneurs or first-time entrepreneurs or anyone at a Fortune 500 company that’s looking to learn more about virality, whatever audience it is, they are all of a sudden really feeling invested in the hour, two hours, sometimes three or four hours that they’re investing into this interactive workshop. Ultimately, we end with those lessons learned and takeaways and we try to cater it to whatever audience it might be that’s listening to make sure that they’re able to take that into their workplace or into their startup. Does that make sense?
Ryan Foland: Yeah. Choose your own adventure, it sounds like.
Max Ringelheim: Yeah, to some extent, for sure.
Ryan Foland: I don’t know if anybody remembers, who’s listening to this, but there used to be these choose-your-own-adventure books, where you get to the end. It would be the person hanging off a cliff and what would you do, A or B? And then you make a decision. So there’s a bit of, as you said, the driver’s seat. I do like that as a concept, and I was interested also that you’re having people pair or partner up and it creates this conversation. So I’m curious when they come back and once they answer, are you like, “Right answer, wrong answer, here’s what I should have done”? Just thinking formulaically for other people who want to structure their talks.
Max Ringelheim: No doubt. So, when the audience returns and they share their answers and everyone gets to hear everyone else’s answers, I’ll give feedback immediately to each group as they’re presenting their solutions and what they came up with.
Ryan Foland: Do you keep stuff in the bag? For example, if somebody actually guesses and did exactly what you did, but that was the wrong thing to do, are you telling them that in this evaluation?
Max Ringelheim: Oh, totally. Yeah. I’m explaining to them, “Hey, make sense on the surface, but here’s why that’s not the right answer.”
Ryan Foland: Okay. So then you reveal what it is based in real time versus getting everybody’s answers and then the big reveal?
Max Ringelheim: Correct. Yeah. I’ll hear everyone’s, and each group’s answers and I’ll give feedback on each group’s answers as they present them, and then I’ll continue on with the story afterwards. If one of the groups obviously provides an answer that’s really, really wise and really foreshadowing the future of what might happen if they don’t implement that solution, I’ll certainly say that without giving away the rest-
Ryan Foland: You’ll be like, “Ding, ding, you got it.”
Max Ringelheim: Yeah. I’ll say like, “Hey, that’s a really, really smart tactic that you’re thinking about taking as a group, and I really could get behind supporting that because you’re about to hear what unfolded that was the opposite of that,” right? You know what I’m saying?
Ryan Foland: Right.
Max Ringelheim: I won’t give it away because I don’t want to give away the story, of course, but I will certainly tell that group, “Good on you for thinking that way. That was so well done.” The groups that maybe come up with a solution that wouldn’t have worked out so well, I’ll constructively explain why that wouldn’t work out so well after they present their solution so that they are well aware of why maybe in a quick thinking mentality, they’ve got to be a little bit more open eyes to what else might go wrong by doing that.
Ryan Foland: Yeah. No, that’s interesting. Does this strategy apply to a keynote where you don’t necessarily have that small intimate audience with groups and you’re up on stage 45 minutes or an hour even hour and a half? Do you have a structure that works in an efficient way with a large audience?
Max Ringelheim: Yeah, totally. So I think my story, it’s 16-month long story. I can slice and dice my workshops to fit a four-hour-long workshop or a 10-minute or a 40-minute-long keynote, et cetera, et cetera. I think when folks want to invite me in to do a keynote, I’ll provide the necessary snippets of my story depending on what topic they want me to speak on, maybe in this case the hoverboard, to give them enough context around what went down and what went on and obviously provide the right motivation, inspiration, education to their audience around what they’re looking for. No doubt about it.
My workshops that I’ve been working on and really feel like I’ve now perfected over the last now six years, and we’ll get into that, I know, in your third portion of the interview, so I don’t want to give it away, but it takes a while to really understand and really have a full grip on your story so you can communicate it properly as a public speaker. Ultimately, in a keynote setting, there’s no doubt that I’ll truncate the story into short form and I will reveal whatever outputs that particular organization or audience is looking for off of particular elements of my story or many of the other lessons really that come from with that.
Ryan Foland: I’m sorry to interrupt, but with this specific… I’m just looking from a tactical standpoint, the idea of a workshop that you have a story and you are sharing your story with cliffhangers, choose your own adventure, engage the audience. They talk about it. They reveal it. They either guess it or there’s a learning lesson. I think that’s a fun structure and it’s a great format for a workshop. In the keynote setting, I totally understand all that. It’s very custom to the person and you’re hitting the marks on the head for them. But do you employ that strategy of a cliffhanger pulling the audience, getting feedback and mechanism, or is that really just more for a workshop?
Max Ringelheim: Yeah, I would say that the type of interaction that I do typically in my workshops is much more conducive for that 30, 40, 50, maybe maximum 100 type per audience size. It’s smaller form. I don’t think for other public or aspiring public speakers out there you can have the same type of dynamic take place when you’re talking maybe in front of 1,000 or-
Ryan Foland: Right. You would’ve to modify, but I was just saying, I’m just curious because that seems like a pretty compelling strategy as this sort of strategy of a cliffhanger, not telling that end and getting… I was curious if you implemented that in the keynote format. It would obviously have to be a different format, but it might be the same cliffhanger. And then like, “Everybody raise your hand if you think I did this,” or “Everybody that…” I’m looking for this as a unique tactic for people to take employ. If you haven’t done that, they might have an idea to do that, but-
Max Ringelheim: Yeah. No, your example is something I haven’t done to date, to be clear. So yeah, I wouldn’t want to try and attempt to convey how that would work, but I think if you created in a short format manner, you might be able to.
Ryan Foland: Yeah. No, the concept is totally agnostic of your story, and this idea seems like a really cool spot of… It’s a choose your own adventure tactic in your speech, stopping, and then I can imagine polling the audience. It’s one way or the other. If the majority is like that like, “I love you guys, but you went down with me.”
Max Ringelheim: Yeah. Yeah.
Ryan Foland: You can see that.
Max Ringelheim: Yeah, that’s a good… I like that.
Ryan Foland: This really stitches back to where I was most curious in your story about how to get the lesson across to people because everyone has these lessons, but I still feel, and maybe it’s… I don’t want to say it’s this generation, it’s just people in general. If you share this tragic story from rise to fall in the lessons that you learn, sometimes I think half time like, “Oh, that’s okay. It’s entertaining. It doesn’t really…” Yeah. I mean, however much we want to tie it to deliverables and the action items and the mission critical that they’ll recognize.
When they’re in the moment, they’re like shit’s hitting the fan for them and just so that… Because I think there’s so much power in learning from lessons, but how do we do that? This idea of giving them ownership and maybe that wakes them up in the middle of the show, they’re like, “Wait.” If they do make that decision and you commit to a final answer, “That’s what you guys do? Yes, you do it,” and be like, “You just went broke up. You’re bankrupt. You lost your car. You lost your wife. You lost your thing, your house.” Maybe that’s just to give them a little bit of that personal ownership and I think that happens in the workshops.
But just as a strategy, I’m saying for listeners, using that, give them the choice and that really puts them in your shoes and then makes them like, “Wait, just imagine, everybody, raise your hand, imagine right now if literally your wife then left you and you lost your house and your car got repossessed and just physically think about that for a moment based on that one decision. Now everybody else over here, congratulations, you ride the train. You did this. You guys are making all kinds of money, but it could be that close.” So that is a concept now I’m really interested on where I can implement that or where other people could. So, thank you for going on that journey. I wasn’t trying to be difficult, but it was like-
Max Ringelheim: Yeah. No, you’re very welcome. Glad it’s helpful. Hopefully, for those that are listening, they can take tips from it.
Ryan Foland: How about this, we’ll name it something? We’re going to name it the Max Ringelheim… What could this be? This could be the Ringelheim Adventure.
Max Ringelheim:The Ringelheim Adventure, I love it.
Ryan Foland: What it does is like… Oh my gosh, this is so stupid. I love bells, but I could actually… I have a bell usually with me and I use it, but I could be like, “And then ding, ding, ding,” ring the bell, be like, “Time to choose. I’m offstage for a minute.” Maybe it’s like the Ringelheiman decision like, “What would you do?” And then it’s a tactic where you stop, make people commit to it, and then actually tell them, “This is now what you have experienced.”
Max Ringelheim: Totally. What I would also add is I think that there’s… I don’t do this that often. I’ve done in the past, but one of the ways that I think my workshop can really be helpful for audiences is at the very end, after sharing my lessons learned, takeaways, all that good stuff, you set up one other additional exercise and that exercise-
Ryan Foland: Ringelheiman situation?
Max Ringelheim: Well, the actual companies participating get a chance to try and leverage some of those lessons learned and the tactics from the story within their own business and maybe some upcoming decisions that they have coming up.
Ryan Foland: Oh, so pick a decision and say, “Okay. Guess what, new situation, you happen to work at said company,” which is their company. “It happened to be this date at this time, and in 10 minutes you have to make a decision,” right? And so, it comes back on them and then literally they decide which that will be interesting to get them to interact. And then it’s the real cliffhanger, “All right. Get out there, make that decision. Let’s see who’s right,” and gives you a chance to follow up.
Max Ringelheim: Yeah, no doubt. I think it’s really relevant in the world of… And I’m trying actively to work with more companies. As I say this, it makes so much sense to me. It’s why I’m liking this conversation a lot because it always gives you a new angle to think about your own stuff that you’ve been doing for a while.
Ryan Foland: Yeah, it could give you as part of your onboarding and you’re like, “Okay. I need one really, really heavyweight problem that literally could mean the difference between bankruptcy or IPO. What are your board members the most fearful of? Okay. I just need to know. Great. Go, don’t worry about it.” And then you plus that out in the end.
Max Ringelheim: Yeah.
Ryan Foland: I’m like this, where I would maybe even put on a different persona or a hat and come out impersonating the boss, be like, “Hey y’all, this is so and so.” I mean, you got to be careful with that, but that’s just more of the… I think if you make the situation fun and lively, it becomes less serious and they can-
Max Ringelheim: Totally. No, 100%. It’s definitely one of the things that I’ve noticed has worked well for me over the years of doing this, iterating, modifying. Ryan, and I think you would appreciate this, I did this talk for the first time in mid-2016 after I had left the hoverboard space after the government banned the device so you couldn’t sell them anymore. It was just amazing. The first time I had done it, a couple of the audience members came up to me and were like, “That was maybe the coolest story I’ve ever heard in my life.” It was only a 10-minute presentation at the time. You heard that a couple more times after repeating it a few more times. And then a university in New York invites me to do it in a classroom setting.
Ryan Foland: We are transitioning into the next right here. You’re transitioning for us. So I want to talk about how you build your business. Literally, you just started with this idea that you tested a talk for 10 minutes. You’ve got some feedback. So we’re now in the part where you’re going to tell us how you have built your business, how you were selling into your course, how you’re building this thing and leveraging the stage for it.
Max Ringelheim: Totally. Yeah. I mean, for me, and I’ll go right back there, start off with a 10-minute presentation, had people come up to me afterwards that were just like, “That might have been the coolest story that I’ve ever heard in my life.” You hear that a couple of times in a row because you get a couple more opportunities to share it and that light bulb goes off your head that maybe there’s something here that people want to hear on a consistent basis. All those talks, for everyone listening, all done for free. There’s no payment. I’m not even thinking for a second about any sort of payment, right?
Ryan Foland: Yeah. But you notice the bomb dog that comes up next to stage and sits down to identify that you’ve got something worth looking at here.
Max Ringelheim: Yeah. Worth pursuing. As public speakers, typically, you’ll feel hopefully really empowered by the story you’re telling, right? That’s why you’re dedicating the time to do it. So all those check boxes and dots connect. From there, you get an opportunity by putting yourself out there, which everyone listening should be trying to do. Always be putting yourself out there.
Ryan Foland: So let’s get specific. We know we got to go out there. So, what did you do to put yourself out there? What is the tactic that you specifically employed? Because I find our listeners love it when people find the examples because we know that we have to go out there and put ourselves out there, or what didn’t work for you, which is just as important to help us save time.
Max Ringelheim: Yeah, no doubt about it. I think approaching different school institutions, whether on the high school level or the university level, are the perfect place for you to start, because typically if you’re more of an educational speaker, which I like to consider myself, that type of environment is a complete match. A business class at whether UCI or Baruch College or Fordham University-
Ryan Foland: Or Santa Barbara. Go Gauchos.
Max Ringelheim: … are going to appreciate what story you have to tell in this capacity. From my side, putting yourself out there with a free workshop for an hour-long to equates to the start and end point of a class, wherein a 16-week-long semester or whatever it might be, X teacher can feel really confident that your story’s going to blend into what they’re going to be teaching maybe during their digital marketing, two or three-week long phase or their e-commerce, getting your early customers, product-market fit phase, whatever it might be, that’s just like a square peg and a square hole fit.
When you’re in the world of building a business, which creates a public speaking career is just building a business within a different vertical than a traditional mom-and-pop store or whatever it might be, you got to throw a lot of, as I say, and hopefully, you’re okay with this, throw a lot of shit at the wall and see what sticks and that is one way of doing it that certainly has helped me. I wanted to share that with your audience, it’s a marathon. You’re not going to be on huge stages from day one or even day 100, or even day 2,000. You’re going to literally be out there sharing it with audiences of two people, which no one should be upset about doing, to be very clear.
Ryan Foland: Well, hold on, I’ll make everyone not feel bad and I’ve probably said this before, but my mom always told me not… I mean, this is way before I was wanting to become a professional speaker. She always told me, “Ryan, it just takes one. If only one person shows up…” Now, if nobody shows up, she’s clear and transparent that’s not good, but if just one person does, it can make all the difference. So my mom says it’s okay.
Max Ringelheim: Okay. I would agree with that completely. One of my business coaches, who’s just an amazing, amazing individual, his name is David Meltzer. From my side, David Meltzer as a coach of mine and someone that I just admire so dramatically, he has shared on multiple occasions. Doesn’t matter if there’s two or 20 or 50, if you’re inspiring and paying your lessons learned to one individual, like your mom said, and you’re just remark is there, that’s more than enough, right? You just ideally change someone’s life.
Ryan Foland: I’m curious here, just from a strategy standpoint, if you are just at that one or whatnot, how have you been utilizing social media and capturing these interactions to create your own virality? Because I would assume that if you’re teaching about virality, you have some tips based on your lessons about virality. So speaking to that in particular, what does that look like for a speaker? How do you become viral as a speaker? Is that something you can actually attain or go for or as a whole myriad of factors for actually to be viral? You’re not necessarily going to blow up, but it’s like, “Here’s some things to get you on the way.” Talk to me about that.
Max Ringelheim: Yeah. I mean, I think the opportunity for any one speaker to just think whether it’s one talk he’s done or 50 talks he’s done-
Ryan Foland: Or she, by the way, just for everybody out there, or them, just being super cool with everybody.
Max Ringelheim: No doubt. It’s unlikely just think after that one particular talk that, “Oh, wow, we’re going viral and instantly,” right?
Ryan Foland: No, we know that. We know that doesn’t work. Because you’re literally the viral expert with the company and media brand that is, “Let’s go viral.” So I want to know some viral tips for speaking or some of the concepts that we can apply.
Max Ringelheim: No doubt. I think this idea of capturing everything that you’re doing, so you have this loop of continuous content that you could be promoting out, but in a consistent manner because consistency is so important in this discussion when we’re talking about that.
Ryan Foland: I’m just being pointed here just to get the good stuff. Is consistency a requirement for virality? Because sometimes maybe the argument, and I’m curious of your answer, is it that if you’re constantly showing up, you have a better chance of one of those things going viral? But there are some people, literally it’s the one thing that they do that goes. So, how does that equate?
Max Ringelheim: Yeah, totally. So in the world of virality, and hopefully your speakers can take some tips from this, I’m very big personally on trying to create what I call these jaw-dropping, eye-popping type moments, huge emotional triggers. Okay. So for me, if I’m going to advise a speaker on attempt to try and go viral experience, some virality-
Ryan Foland: Or tap into or use these tactics days to get more exposure, because viral is an extreme level.
Max Ringelheim: For sure. You’ve got to be ideally triggering a really important emotion inside of your audience, again, whether it’s five people or 50 or 5,000. Obviously, if we’re talking to 5,000 people at once and you nail that emotional trigger right there, per math likes to indicate that we’re going to have a better chance of really experiencing some heavier traction.
Ryan Foland: So do we need to get more emotional?
Max Ringelheim: Yeah, I think a little bit more emotional is really important in that world because that’s one of the key things in some of my studying of virality in the topic. That’s a very important consistent trend that I see is this idea that via, for instance, social media content and such that we’re able to create these different real impactful emotions on people that then want to share that emotion with others, within their network, et cetera, right? That’s where you start to see.
Ryan Foland: Now, if you’re saying the consistency is where you have to start… And I still am curious to that question, is consistency a necessity for virality, or really, is it just as possibly random that you do once and it works if all the other elements are secure?
Max Ringelheim: Yeah, I would always advise towards consistency, for sure.
Ryan Foland: So my next question is then knowing that we need consistency as a baseline, can’t just plan on a one-time shot flashing the pan, we get that, you’re talking about creating these emotional triggers, but if you’re emotionally triggering consistently, I feel like that’s what people are scared of. So, is it you’re just creating high value content and then every once in a while, you try to pop and get super emotional, or do you wait for an authentic real life event to happen and then like… Just the mechanic stuff because people are curious about this stuff, so I’m consistent. But if I’m consistently trying to emotionally impact people, people might be like, “I don’t want to follow this guy because he’s emotional all the time.” How do we balance that?
Max Ringelheim: Yeah. When you take that step back, it’s also a part of figuring out who your audience is going to be that’s hopefully going to then trigger that eventual huge amount of traction that you’re looking for, right? You’re not supposed to be everything for everyone. In the world of business, we know about target audience, et cetera. So ideally, I’m a huge Gary Vaynerchuk fan. I’m a huge David Meltzer fan. I can listen to their material all day long in a consistent fashion and it’s always going to resonate.
Ryan Foland: Okay. So let’s pull with those two because neither of them are highly emotional every time, but what is it about some of their particular content that might perform better, or is it just they’ve built this brand over an eon of time and it’s like… So this is that I feel like the word virality, I’m just really trying to get it because is it attainable for speakers? Is it this like 20-year overnight success? So specifically to David and to Mr. Vaynerchuk-
Max Ringelheim: Gary Vaynerchuk.
Ryan Foland: … tell me from your experience, the content that keeps you coming back, that makes you want to share. What are some of the elements that they share?
Max Ringelheim: I think they’re both very huge on this idea of consistently telling the stories and the lessons learned from their own individual stories. That doesn’t need to be necessarily a business that they started. It could have been a particular experience that they went through. They’re very consistent and I would venture to say that.
Ryan Foland: Well, but yes, they are consistent. We got that as a baseline. But what in the one out of 30 posts, what qualities, what is it that has the most potential for them to jump out and that may be post to be viral? Based on your research and your studies and trends, one we know is this emotional trigger, but is there a length amount of time? Is there the two-second grabber? Is there the six-second? Are there some of those real tactical things so we can-
Max Ringelheim: Yeah, no doubt. I mean, short-form content continues to dominate, right? They’re amazing hooks and ways in which they introduce their videos and ways in which they showcase the different, going back to that emotions of their audience that are listening to them in that content, where they’re speaking with a group of only 10 people and yet the people that are there are just completely in tune on what they’re having to share at that point in time. There’s amazing things without having to reinvent the wheel that you can take from that. I think that they’re always consistent on trying to provide a particular piece of value in every one of their pieces of content that come about. They want people to leave that 30-second or 60-second remark or seven-second remark with something that they just got provided for them for free, right?
Ryan Foland: Yeah. I totally agree. One example just came to mind, some of Gary’s, I think, reels or popup or things on Twitter that go more viral from what I’m seeing is when it’s literally 18-year-old or 39-year-old, he’s basically asking him side by side question, camera’s on them, their mic, and it’s got text layover so you can listen or hear exactly what’s saying, and the person is like, “I’m 18 and I’m unmotivated.” Gary goes, “Well, I’m X amount of years old and it took me 20 years to get to here, so you got way ahead of me at this point.” They’re like, “Really?” They’re like, “Yeah. Dude, you got this. Go get it.” But Gary’s not speaking to the camera. He’s talking with the person and you see that emotional impact.
So I’m just listening to what you’re saying and queuing in on that to where that has these elements, where it’s humble because he’s not talking into the camera. You’re seeing that he’s talking with a real person and so you can be an observer. And then if the person asks a question that you actually have, it almost feels like Gary’s giving you the answer. And so, that I feel has those elements of virality without being a single camera emotional crying to the face or trying to pull the heart strings you try to.
Max Ringelheim: No, 100%. You’ve noticed it. I’ve noticed it. I agree completely with everything you just mentioned and that’s awesome. I think that’ll be great for your audience to hear from because I think it’s amazing. I consistently am saving those videos. I’m consistently re-sharing those videos because it sometimes feels like they’re talking directly to me in a particular circumstance.
Ryan Foland: But you’re also one party removed and you don’t have that pressure. And so, I like that because that gets right back to what we’re talking about in the beginning, which is how to communicate with your audience about your story. It’s in a humble and authentic way. If somebody’s asking you for advice and you’re just sharing your humble opinion and not trying to sell somebody into something, I think that has that emotional connection that you had mentioned, and tie that all in with what we talked about in the last section about giving people ownership in the conversation and knowing that this interaction and the importance of the emotional experience, not just that you’re creating to the viewer, but that you’re creating to people in the area.
If I were to tape what we’ve talked about here and just think about defining what going viral is, maybe it’s just consistently helping people understand that if they have an emotional connection with your content, which could be conversation, could be this, could be that, could be that, then they’re more likely to share and people usually share… I’m fascinated with the difference between a like and a share and then when somebody likes and shares. Usually, when somebody likes something, it’s like an arms distance, they don’t necessarily want it on their feed. But when you share it, you’re actually creating that content in your feed and so it has to represent your brand. You have to be proud of it. You have to know that if somebody’s going to hate on it, they’re going to hate on you.
Max Ringelheim: Yeah. You’re getting at the point of other audiences, it being worthy of this emotion that you went through.
Ryan Foland: You want to share it. People share stuff that makes them feel smarter. And so, if you watch something and you feel like you became smarter, you want to share that with your friends because you want them to feel smarter. So these elements of virality, sometimes I get… I’m trying to find the right word. Sometimes the word itself can be a bit buzzy and a bit selly because it sells this large promise to get to the top of the mountain fast. Sometimes when you take shortcuts, you have to really watch where you’re stepping. You can step on a landmine.
It goes back to to become viral, it’s just constantly showing up, being yourself in an authentic, humble way and using the technology and platforms to give people a chance to share that to their networks. If you can tap into that network effect, it’s not as much about 5,000 people have shared or 5,000… It’s like people want to share this. If they want to share it and then they see somebody else shared it, then it creates momentum. And then at the end of the day, the internet is like whatever content gets shared the most gets viewed the most, otherwise you’re stuck in an algorithm. So that’s my little stump speech on virality and I appreciate you helping to create some context and connecting some of those dots.
Max Ringelheim: Yeah, it’s a web. It’s a web out there. It all can be as interconnected as you want it to be when those triggers are tapped into emotionally and ultimately other audiences want to experience what you just experienced.
Ryan Foland: I feel like we’ve gone through an emotional journey here today, bro.
Max Ringelheim: Good. That’s good. That’s what I wanted, right?
Ryan Foland: If people want to emotionally connect with you or see some of your content and decide for themselves that they want to share it because they’re emotionally impacted of your consistent content, your workshop, blah, blah, what’s the best way to find you and get in touch?
Max Ringelheim: Yeah. So it’s just Max Ringelheim, and I know my info will be on the episode, but that’s just R-I-N-G-E-L-H-E-I-M. So Max Ringelheim is my handle on all social media platforms. My company, When Going Viral, the handle is just @whengoingviral, just like how it sounds. My email is just first name, dot, last name at Gmail. So anyone here that listens that’s looking for advice, guidance, support, you name it, in any capacity within the business world, I’m very, very passionate about providing that advice and guidance, so don’t hesitate to reach out. You can consider me a friend if you took the time to listen through this episode and certainly warrant that as a quality connection if someone wanted to reach out, and ultimately, yeah, from my side, would love to be in touch with anyone that ultimately listens to this podcast and found some value out of it and be a resource to them, and as that mentor mine, David Meltzer would say, be of service to them. So, no doubt about it. Please don’t be shy. I appreciate the time here today.
Ryan Foland: All right. Thank you. Thank you. Everybody should also check out SpeakerHub.com, a place where you can put your speaker profile, find and connect with other speakers, go to a call for speakers, people can hire you for speakers. If you want to find me, you can find me on SpeakerHub.com. You can also find me at ryan.online. It’s just my name dot online. I’m the only one out there. I’ll see you next time. Max, thanks so much. Next time that I see at the airport the hoverboard with the big cross out on it, I’ll think about you and the lessons learned. All right, everybody. Take care. We’ll talk to you soon.
Max Ringelheim: Awesome.
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