David Shands: The Entrepreneurial Mindset, How to Build a Loyal Community and Hone Your Niche for Massive Success | E264

David Shands: The Entrepreneurial Mindset, How to Build a Loyal Community and Hone Your Niche for Massive Success | E264

David Shands: The Entrepreneurial Mindset, How to Build a Loyal Community and Hone Your Niche for Massive Success | E264

Since David quit his job as a waiter at the Cheesecake Factory a decade ago, his successful businesses, compelling story, and unique teaching style have helped him build a large and loyal following. Now, he hosts The Social Proof Podcast and runs the Sleepless Knights Coaching Program to guide entrepreneurs and small business owners to entrepreneurial success. David is empowering a new generation of aspiring business owners and dismissing the myth that entrepreneurship is unattainable for those without social or capital privilege. In today’s episode, David will share some tips on how to build a viable online community and chase your goals on your terms and regardless of your background.


David Shands is an author, entrepreneur, motivational speaker, and business coach. In a few short years, his “Sleep is 4 Suckers” concept has evolved from selling t-shirt’s out of the back seat of his car, to selling his message on apparel across the globe. He is now the host of the successful entrepreneurial podcast, The Social Proof Podcast.


In this episode, Hala and David will discuss:

– Life lessons learned at the Cheesecake Factory

– What David learned from Steve Jobs

– Struggling as a young entrepreneur

– Learning to focus his efforts

– Starting his own t-shirt brand

– Why he started teaching entrepreneurship

– Perfecting his craft on YouTube

– Knowing what your audience is struggling with

– Earning your listeners’ trust

– How to build a niche community

– And other topics…


David Shands is an author, entrepreneur, motivational speaker, and business coach. David worked in various customer-oriented industries by day while building his own apparel business by night. In a few short years, his “Sleep is 4 Suckers” concept has evolved from selling t-shirt’s out of the back seat of his car, to selling his message on apparel across the globe. He is now the host of the successful entrepreneurial podcast, The Social Proof Podcast. He is especially focused on helping entrepreneurs launch their own podcasts.


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[00:00:00] Hala Taha: 

Young and Profiters. I am so excited to welcome to the show. One of my closest industry friends in the podcast world,  And one of the hardest working people you will ever meet, David Shands. David is an entrepreneur, speaker, coach, and fashion mogul. He's the host of the Social Proof Podcast and he's empowering a new generation of aspiring business owners across the country while dismissing the myth that entrepreneurship is out of the way for those without social or capital privilege.

David is passionate about building communities and redefining how people view a successful entrepreneur. You don't have to have a million dollars in your bank account, he says. You can be an average person ambitious enough to chase your goals on your terms and regardless of your background. David, I'm so happy to have you here.

Welcome to Young and Profiting Podcast.

[00:01:56] David Shands: Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to be here. Yeah, 

[00:01:59] Hala Taha: likewise. I went on your show Social Proof a few months back and it was one of my favorite podcast episodes that I ever did. We got so much great feedback on it. I loved speaking with you in person and then we got to hang out at the podcast summit, then again at Podcast Movement.

So now you're one of my industry friends, which I love having my friends on the show. So welcome, really happy to have you 

[00:02:21] David Shands: here. Oh, man, I'm in a podcast space, but I respect what you've done and you're doing it better than me. So I want to do another interview so I can learn more on how you're crushing it.

But yeah, congratulations to all you're doing. Thanks, 

[00:02:35] Hala Taha: David. Thanks. So I found out from my research that you grew up in Jersey like me. I had no idea. I thought you were always from Atlanta, so you ended up. Being in Jersey for a long time. I don't think you moved to Atlanta until you were in high school So what was the young Jersey boy David Shams like 

[00:02:52] David Shands: a knucklehead.

I mean, well, I'm growing up in an environment I'm from Willingboro, New Jersey. So it's about 20 minutes from Philly 15 minutes from Camden which a few years back was the murder capital. I don't know where it's at now. So We have a lot of people from New York, a lot of people from Philly, Camden, if you're driving around in the daytime, you're like, Oh, this neighborhood is nice enough, but it was a lot going on 

I've done all of the things that people from this area aspire to do, but I was so thankful when my mom and dad split sounds weird. My dad moved to Philly. My mom. I moved to Atlanta and I moved down to Atlanta with my mom and I got to see something else. Not that the school that I moved to was even better, but my cousin was more positive.

My family was really a little more connected. So I got to get out of that environment, do something different. I was playing basketball for my school and then I went to school in Alabama. I've had an amazing journey of changes, which were 

[00:04:00] Hala Taha: good.Yeah. and your father.

Was also an entrepreneur. So did you get inspired by him at all in terms of you dabbling in entrepreneurship later on in life? 

[00:04:10] David Shands: Absolutely. 

 my dad was It ultimate entrepreneur. He never really made a whole, whole lot, but he made enough to take care of us. I learned so much from my dad. I'm so blessed to have had him. He's passed away now, but so blessed to have had my dad. He gave me so many life lessons. Like for instance, if I asked him a question, he'd never give me the answer.

It's not like I would ask him a question. Hey dad, which one's the right answer? He would answer my question with another question because he always wanted me to think. And it used to frustrate me so much. I'm like, dad, what should I do? And he'll say, well, what do you think you should do? I'm like, dad, if I knew I wouldn't be asking you.

But he always ultimately wanted me to make the decision. And he'll give me like a little nod and say, job son, or I was playing basketball. I was good as a kid, but he would notice in my games. That I was really good with my right hand. So he'd had me dribbling up and down the street with my left hand, working on those weaknesses.

This is before I got involved in kind of like the pharmaceutical sales, but I remember being a kid and he said something to me, he said, give it everything you got. And I want you to aspire to be the best person that you know. So he said, if you are playing basketball, you need to be the best person on that court.

 So it's these little principles that my dad taught me throughout my life. Again, he never made a whole bunch of money as an entrepreneur, but he was always going out there trying to get it. 

[00:05:47] Hala Taha: I love that. So you are now really successful, right? You've got this huge show, Social Proof, you're a huge YouTuber.

Big on Instagram, you've got all these different businesses, all these different communities. But before all of this, you were doing a lot of service jobs, you were waiting tables for many years. So you worked at Cheesecake Factory in the Olive Garden. And you hustled on the side eventually. And no offense to any waiters listening to this podcast, but most people who are waiting tables right now listening to the show don't want to do that forever.

Of course, this is a temporary thing. And I never waited tables, but I worked in my 20s and teens in the retail industry nonstop. So like every store you could think of, Juicy, Bebe, Abercrombie, Bath Body Works, like just every store in the mall I worked at for like 10 years. And it taught me so much. It taught me how to be a salesperson, how to not be shy, how to be confident, how to speak with people, connect with people.

And I still have those skills to this day. And we talk a lot about skill stacking on the podcast. What did you learn from your days as a waiter that you still carry with you today? 

[00:06:54] David Shands: Oh, everything. Goodness gracious. I've always been an entrepreneur. I've always had a job and something on the side. I never just like, just a, just an employee.

Like I was always hustling something, right? And I always wanted to be better. And I knew I wouldn't be at the Cheesecake Factory forever. So, my first few years It was complaining about the job, hate the job. I don't want to be, not that I hated the job, but I knew I wasn't going to be there forever, but something clicked when I really jumped into the personal development space.

I need to embrace why I'm here. And there's a lesson that I'm missing because I come into work and complain about the job so much. So once I started looking for the lesson and why I'm here, I found it. And I realized there's so many things that I can work on now. That's going to help me later. Like for instance.

I knew I wanted to be a speaker. I came across, you know, motivational speakers. I'm like, dang, I want to do that because they talking good. But I, I needed to be able to articulate my words a little better. So I'll go to the table and I have to get the same pitch every day. My name is David. The fish of the day is salmon and mahi mahi.

It comes with broccoli and mashed potatoes. Can I take your order? What can I get you to drink? Right. But I used to slur my words, meaning I would say salmon and mahi mahi. It comes with broccoli and mashed potatoes. Instead of broccoli and mashed potatoes. It's a small change, right? I can say broccoli and mashed potatoes, or I can pronunciate my words a little bit and say broccoli and mashed potatoes.

And I will pronunciate my words a little more because I knew I wanted to be a speaker, but this job is giving me opportunity after opportunity after opportunity to work on my ability to communicate. Or for instance, I understand that my objective is to make more money and the way you make more money.

Is by getting more tips. And the way you get more tips is by making sure the bill is higher. So you'll make more money on a tip if the bill is a hundred dollars versus 20. So I'm thinking of all these different ways that I can get someone to buy more. And we're working at the cheesecake factory. So my objective is to sell more cheesecake.

The cheesecake is like 8. 7, 8 around this time. So I have to really, really sell this stuff. And if it's five people at the table and they all get a cheesecake for 8, that's 40. If we're working off of a tip system and 20 percent is the goal at a 40, that's an extra 8. What if I did that 10 times a shift, that's an extra 80.

What if I did that 10 times per month, that's an extra 800. So I got a chance to work on my sales skills by selling people cheesecake, because I knew if I couldn't sell an 8 cheesecake, I'm not going to be able to sell a 30 t shirt. So there was so many principles I learned from the Cheesecake Factory.

[00:09:48] Hala Taha: Yeah. And also, I'm sure being likable, right? You needed people to like you to get those tips. And that's why probably while you're so bubbly and Easy to like, right? And why people who don't even know you are your fans and 

[00:10:02] David Shands: like you. Yeah, it's a blessing, man. Every journey, and whoever's watching this, there's a bunch of stuff that you've been through, or you're going through, but we spend so much time complaining about the stuff we've been through, or that we're going through, that we don't find a lesson in it.

So, I don't know what it is. You might be in a toxic, terrible relationship, And we're so in it and depressed about the relationship that we don't start taking notes in this toxic situation. So we can start to retrack. Okay. What were the signs that would have told me that this person is going to end up being this person later?

Well, if you learn it now, by the time you get in your next relationship, you can start spotting those signs and you can identify what you want. So you'll be in a blissful relationship because of the one you just got out of. But we still, we complain so much about where we are. We never spend time to identify the lesson.

[00:10:57] Hala Taha: Hmm. I think that's a really, really good point. So while you were doing this waiting tables for many years, you always had a side gig like you were saying. And back then, what year was this around? What were the years? 

[00:11:08] David Shands: I was at the Cheesecake Factory from 2006, 2012, and then before that I worked at Olive Garden for 10 months.

Before that, I worked at Applebee's for like four or five months while I was in college. So 

[00:11:21] Hala Taha: like you were doing this for six, seven years and side hustling really wasn't a big, now everybody is like a side hustler. Everyone is a freelancer. The new way of working, because everybody realizes that having a corporate job is actually not secure and everybody wants to be at least half their foot in entrepreneurship, right?

 So what was it for you? Because there wasn't many role models who were working on the side and working during the day. Why did you decide to side hustle? What was your motivation? 

[00:11:49] David Shands: Well, I mean, my dad was an entrepreneur, so he was an herbalist and an iridologist.

So my dad, he could take a flashlight and like a microscope and look in your eye and he could tell what's wrong. So I remember one day he was looking in my eye with his flashlight and his microscope. And grab my foot and pressed a part of my foot. And I said, Oh, what's that? He said, Oh, I can see it.he said, your eyes are connected to your entire body and you can see what's wrong with the body then.

And he prescribed like not prescribed, but he was so herbs. And, um, I always just saw my dad doing it. And another thing is, I don't know what gives someone the thought to go make money, right? So I live in a neighborhood, houses, grass, front yards, backyards. I go down the street and in the fall time, there are leaves on the lawn.

My friends see the leaves on the lawn and they say, Oh, perfect time to play football because you can play football on the lawn leaves kind of shelter a little bit, but I go down the street and because my dad made me rake my leaves. I don't know what makes me think, man, I can go knock on my neighbor's door and maybe it'll pay me to rake the leaves and I can go buy more basketball cards.

Or we had snow days where in New Jersey, the snow has to be like at your neck for you to go to school. But my mom had to go to work because you had to play on the streets. All my neighbors would have to go to work and they have to shovel the driveway. So, so that my mom can go to work. My dad would say, all right, you don't have school today because it would show that you're out of school.

I have to shovel the snow out of my driveway so that my mom can get out and go to work because they already plowed the streets. My friends would call the house and say, yo, we don't got school. Let's play football outside. You get your coat, you get your socks, double socks, thermals, you're out there, you're hanging out with your friends.

We're chilling because we're excited. We don't have school. I don't know what makes me think to myself, I'm going to go knock on the doors and shovel snow and try to make some money. Again, I can't say I attributed it to personal development or my dad. I had a coach saying, go out there and hustle. That's why I think sometimes entrepreneurship is innate because I can't explain why my brain.

Thinks that way. I don't want to play with y'all. I'm going to go make some money. I don't know why I have 

[00:14:19] Hala Taha: no idea. I'm with you. I was the same way. I was selling so much since I was a young girl, always coming up with the next idea, putting my cousins to work, my friends to work, and always like the ringleader of some little business.

So I'm with you. I don't know where it came from either. Probably like you seeing my dad sort of do the same thing and just wanting to grow up fast and make money. 

[00:14:41] David Shands: But you know, also. You can't. 100 percent attributed to environment because I grew up, but me and my brother, we were in a house, my brother may have seen my dad not make a whole bunch of money as entrepreneur.

I saw my dad not make a whole bunch of money as entrepreneur. My brother didn't become an entrepreneur, but I did. So again, maybe I'm just trying to create a conversation for the audience in the chat or wherever you're at to identify. Well, what made me different or what makes you different? And I think we all have our own unique thing.

Like I was watching the Steve jobs movie and at the end of the movie, Steve jobs looks at a computer. Cause at that time it was a computer and your audience is young. So I got to explain it. There was a computer and on the sides, there was two speakers and that's how you listened to the audio from the computer.

So at the end of it, Steve Jobs sits there and he's in a company of all engineers. He walks over to the computer and says, Why don't we just put the speakers into the computer box, then we won't have to have these speakers that are connected to the computer. What makes them think that? I think we all just have these gifts and I think we all have a unique brain and we really need to start to think, why do we think uniquely or why do we see things uniquely?

And oftentimes there's a business in that. I 

[00:16:10] Hala Taha: totally agree with you. And I think it's an important point to note because some people are natural at entrepreneurship. They're really good. They're good at it. They're good at making money. And some people do really well going on another path and you don't have to be an entrepreneur to be successful.

Okay. So let's talk about experiences. I'm with you in this. For you, you did so many different side hustles.

So you did landscaping, wholesaling, network marketing, hand painted t shirts, right? So you did a lot of different things and a lot of these initial ideas don't exist anymore. They essentially failed, right? So talk to us about why you think some of these initial ideas didn't stick for you. Was it a marketing thing?

Was it a mindset thing? Tell us about that. It's not that 

[00:16:52] David Shands: the business didn't work, it's just I didn't. I mean, I had to. All of into an entrepreneur who sees myself doing something and I stay focused on it. Most of the reasons that I am not doing a bunch of the things that you just mentioned is because I just stopped doing it or times got hard and I had a slow season and I'm like, Oh, I can't do this anymore.

I need to do something else. But it was like a slow month or a slow two months or, I'm doing something and that thing starts to work, but then I see my friend doing something or somebody comes to me with an idea. And because the thing that I'm doing is working, they come to me and say, Hey, you should do this with me.

And I say, okay, let's do it. This business is working. I'm going to do this with you too. And they both fail because success takes focus. So any one of the things that you mentioned, I could have made millions doing if only I stopped stopping and stop getting distracted, stop getting out of our feelings.

Now I understand if I have a few bad months in podcasting, I have a few bad months in the morning meetup or a few bad months with income in anything that I'm doing. I understand it's not the end of the world, it's just a few bad months, but I couldn't handle that. I wasn't entrepreneurial. Mature enough to understand this is just a season and it's going to happen every single year, every single year, since I've been a full time entrepreneur, I've had a bad season, every single one of them.

Like, it's not like I had a year where every year, everything was amazing. I've had some good years, but there's always been a month or two where things get shaky. And that's the point where people quit. They start doing something else. They start hiding their tail and they start scrambling. But yeah, any of those things could have worked.

I just, I was the 

[00:18:46] Hala Taha: problem. Yeah. And you have said this quote in the past, which I just want to read. My biggest mistake has been allowing other ideas to distract me from the idea that's in front of me. I've learned that suppressing my creative ideas are hard to do, but it's necessary for my success. And I think a lot of people have this problem.

They're sort of want to be entrepreneurs are just going from idea to idea to idea to idea and they never just focus. So how did you get yourself out of that pattern? Like what was like the big turning point where you were like, I had to just focus on one thing. 

[00:19:16] David Shands: Uh, I mean, you start and stop a bunch of stuff and you realize you got to stop doing that.

I mean, you do anything long enough, you start learning little lessons. And then I started thinking about, again, personal development for sure. And then I started looking at all the people that I admire. And all the people that I admire have been doing the same thing for a long period of time. So a lot of people are going to buy a course from somebody, right.

And they're going to jump into the course and they're going to do it. And they're going to start for a little while, but then they're going to buy a course from somebody else. But all the people that they're buying courses from are like the people that you admire and want to be like They've been doing the same thing over and over and over again for a long period of time They don't treat it like a side hustle.

We treat our businesses like a side hustle if it works great If it doesn't i'll just do something else, but you learn these lessons. You gotta lock in have to do something For a long period of time and keep getting better at it

. Okay, 

[00:20:23] Hala Taha: so let's talk about the idea that did stick, Sleep for Suckers. At what point did you come up with that?

[00:20:28] David Shands: Uh, I came up with the idea in college and I had this, I had an email address, sleepisforsuckers at gmail. com. And I don't know where I got it from. I think I might have, when I was painting t shirts in college, I might have like made a t shirt or something like that. And I was like, Oh, that's a cool name.

But then I moved back to Atlanta from Alabama. And. And I stopped using it. I don't remember how I started using it again, but I was like, let me recover this email address. And I sent somebody an email from that email address. And I was like, yo, that's a really cool name. And I said, great. I'm gonna start making t shirts.

That's how it started. I just started pushing the message. I didn't stop. So that's kind of how I remember the concept, but I don't remember how I came up with the 

[00:21:14] Hala Taha: name. It's just. Yeah, it sounds like it's been your matcha for a long time. So now you are really big on YouTube. You've got over 450, 000 subscribers and I'm a YouTuber and it is so hard to grow on that channel.

So I really respect you. I always tell you like, damn, your YouTube channel is so fire. When did you start? I really only started seriously on YouTube like maybe two years ago, so it's been early. I've been doing podcasting for like six years, so my audio is so much bigger. 

[00:21:42] David Shands: I started my channel 13 years ago.

Yes, 13 

[00:21:46] Hala Taha: years ago. Exactly. So it's like I hope to be where you're at and 10, five years or something. Hopefully it takes me a little less time than you, but when did you decide to start your YouTube channel, or what triggered you to take it to YouTube? 

[00:22:00] David Shands: I had this t shirt brand sleepers for suckers 2010. I started it and I'm always just thinking of ways I can get the message out because I tried to sell the t shirt, but I found out that I'm just bad at design.

I'll get something that I like, but a lot of people don't like it. So people weren't buying the design. When I started talking about sleepers for suckers geared towards entrepreneurship, but anyone is willing to lose sleep to get what they want out of life. Sleeping isn't just sleeping in a bed. If you work the same job for 10 years.

And you're in the same position that you were in 10 years ago. When you started, you technically been sleep for 10 years. When I get a chance to start talking about it, people are like, okay, I'll buy a shirt. They weren't buying the shirt. They weren't buying the design. They weren't buying the quality.

They were buying the message. So I said, I'm going to make a video and put it on YouTube. And anytime somebody wants to hear about the message, I'll send them this YouTube link. So it was started watching it and it was good. And I just kept making videos, on and off, spotty, start, stop, take a year, not make anything, get really inspired again, then stop again.

But once I got consistent, that's when it started to pay off, but it took ten years to get consistent. 

[00:23:14] Hala Taha: And there's a big lesson in all of this. Pay attention to the demand that's around you. You started selling t shirts, but really people wanted to hear you speak. And so you ended up leaning that way, evolved the brand, and it stuck, right?

So always pay attention to what people are asking you about, what people think you're the expert on, right? So at what point did you start making money? When did you start to monetize your YouTube and your entrepreneurship advice? I 

[00:23:44] David Shands: started monetizing advice on entrepreneurship when I started the t shirt brand because it became like me teaching entrepreneurship.

Even while I was still working at the Cheesecake Factory, I had this job and this t shirt brand that I'm building. And you should have seen me. I was like I was hustling. If I wasn't at work, I was selling these t shirts and people would come on a Friday night to come get t shirts from my job because I had them in the car and I'd have my phone and say, Hey, you're going out tonight.

Okay, great. Let me get you a shirt. Come up to the job. They will come up to the job, be at the front. Hey, is David here? They say, well, yeah, you want to sit in a section? They're like, no, I just want to talk to him. I go to the front. They give me the money. I say, hold on. I go refill all the drinks for the people at my table.

Make sure they had bread. Make sure their food was good. Make sure the order was in, run to my car, go get the shirt, bring it to the person. They leave. I come back. Take care of my guests. This was my life and people saw that. And I started telling people, listen, I'm not going to be here long. I'm making money outside of my job and with my job.

And this is really cool. And I'm telling my friends and coworkers how they can do it too. And they began to be inspired. So when I did finally leave the job in 2012, October 1st, 2012, I opened a kiosk in a mall selling the t shirts, but everybody that came to the kiosk got this little lesson and a mini motivational speech about entrepreneurship, not sleeping.

And then 2013, I opened another kiosk in the same mall, 2014, I opened a storefront in another mall, closed down the second kiosk in the first mall. But then the mall made me move my store. They told me that a bigger store, a more national store wants my spot. So I have to leave a few months after I opened it and I was devastated.

But the cool thing was throughout this process, I was writing this book. So when I lost the store, it gave me more time to complete my book and the whole book called dreams are built overnight. We finished the book because I didn't have as much time running the day to day business. And that came out, it was teaching entrepreneurship.

Then I started speaking about the book and then I went on tour with Eric Thomas teaching entrepreneurship because I had the book out and then I started coaching. And that was pretty much a, what, I don't know, 10 year journey in about three minutes. 

[00:26:11] Hala Taha: Amazing. It sounds awesome. And you know, we're all about actionable advice on the podcast.

So I have to ask you for anybody who's starting their YouTube journey now, like you said, you started 13 years ago or something like that, but 2023, it's a whole different game. You're still crushing it. You still know how to get views and all of that. So how can we get more engagement on YouTube, more views and subscribers?

[00:26:34] David Shands: One, you have to be good at it. I don't have a one, two, three step for someone that's not good. That doesn't ask good questions or put up amazing content, come out with shareable stuff. There's nothing I can do for you. You have to practice the craft. It's really cool because for two years of actually doing the podcast and putting it on YouTube, I wasn't thinking money 10 years.

I mean, while I was doing it, so I started 2010. I didn't start monetizing until 2020. Those 10 years, I'm not even thinking that YouTube makes money. I never even thought about it. My only thing was, are people liking this content? Are they sharing it? Are they commenting? And I was focused on having a good show and being a good interviewer and being engaging.

So that's where I'm blessed because I came before the era of jump on YouTube to make a million dollars. I had time to perfect my craft. So. One, you just have to be good at it. I don't care if you're super consistent, you have the best camera, best lighting. If the content isn't amazing, it's not going to work.

So practice your craft. You really need to find a niche that you're passionate about and that other people are passionate about. And you have to brand yourself around this conversation. So I brand my whole world is branded around podcasting and entrepreneurship. One, I've been doing it for 10 years or longer than my whole life, really.

But. This whole podcasting thing, uh, and entrepreneurship, my whole world is that my bio says it. If you talk to me long enough, we're going to talk about podcasting or entrepreneurship. That's my brand. So I have a niche, I have an audience. I know all the things that my audience is struggling with. That's how I can tell you.

All right. So you got to stop stopping. One of the worst things that can happen to an entrepreneur is a little bit of success because other people that see that little bit of success and they start inviting you to their thing that they're doing, and it's going to take you off path. The reason I know that is because I've been through it and I've been coaching entrepreneurs for the last decade on this space.

So I know my audience, I know exactly what they're going through. So you need to know your audience know exactly what they're going through. You for sure need to be consistent. So the best way to do that is have a consistent day that you record, whether it's every Wednesday, every Thursday, we record our podcasts every Wednesday.

For sure. Now somebody can't do Wednesday and they're a big enough guest. We'll do it on Thursday or do it on Tuesday. Cause I'm on the studio. So it's cool, but I have a specific day that we record. We have a specific day that we release. It is consistent. If you think of your favorite shows growing up, it wasn't sporadic when they delivered the content.

It was the same time, same day, every single week because people put your show or your content into their life. So I released my podcast at seven in the morning because I know there are people going to work and I want them to listen to my podcast on their way to work because I want them to be inspired.

I want them to be motivated and this is their thing. It's in the routine. If anything ever happens, like there's a misfire on the scheduling or something like that, I get messages. Hey, you ain't released episode. What happened? What happened? What happened? I'm like, Whoa, Whoa. Let me find out what's going on because they, I show into the.

The framework of their lives and you can't disappoint or you'll break trust. So if you say every Monday at seven o'clock, it's going to release. And sometimes it's at seven, sometimes at 2 PM. Sometimes it releases on Tuesday. Sometimes it just doesn't release that week. You're breaking the trust because now I can't trust you to put this in my schedule anymore.

And also looking at the trends, studying your craft, studying what's working here in your industry. If you put all of those together, and you're good at it, it will grow. Period. 

[00:30:42] Hala Taha: I feel like you hit so many, so many great points. I agree with everything that you said. Also didn't think about money for the first two years, just thought about service and being a great host and being engaging.

To your point, if you don't have good content, you've got too much competition out there. You've got to study your craft. 

[00:30:59] David Shands: This is why And it's a little, it's a bit much and it's doing a lot and it's heavy lift. Sometimes I don't do virtual interviews, not because I don't want to talk to the person, but I'm just so used to it.

And that was like the best way for me to do it at the time. I started before COVID. So we've got a lot of virtual stuff after COVID or door to code because we couldn't, right. But even now, if I got to fly to somebody, I'm going to go because we're thinking information first and quality. First, but also you have to start looking at the trends in your industry.

There's a point where I'm getting tired of interviewing people. I'm good at it and people love it, but I can't just keep interviewing people. And that is the whole thing. I have to like spice it up. So I'm interviewing successful people and the people love it. I'm not going to stop it. Right. But it started to get a little bit redundant.

And I started seeing a whole lot of other people interviewing successful people, which when I started in, when I started this podcast in 2018, there wasn't a lot of that. You didn't see a whole lot of influencers or entrepreneurs that you didn't know getting interviewed. You just didn't see it.

Celebrities. Yes. Radio interviews. Yes, but an hour long conversation with someone has been successful. You just didn't see it. So at that time it was cool. 2018, 2019, 2020 is going down 2021. And then we hit a point where, because everyone's at home and they're seeing this and they see shows like mine growing or like earn your leisure or people that have been in space for a minute, the market gets flooded with other people.

So the same guests. That I get, you can find 10 other interviews with them being interviewed. When I started, it wasn't like that. I did a lot of people's first interview or second interview. Now there are stars and now they're all over the place because there's so many outlets to get to, and even the mainstream platforms are now interviewing influencers and entrepreneurs that you've never heard of.

It just wasn't like that before. But now I see I'm starting to get bored with that. So now. I'm interviewing beginning entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs that are struggling. And I'm doing it in an entertaining, almost like pearl clutching way because I'm real aggressive. We call it the hot seat and it's really, really uncomfortable.

But now I'm just uncovering something that hasn't happened in my industry. You don't get a whole lot of content from people that are not successful yet. So now I'm going to bring you people that are not successful and I'm going to coach them and it's going to be entertaining and I'm going to be slightly disrespectful.

But it's also going to be helpful because I'm coaching them and that's the pivot. So there's always something going on in your industry that is soon going to be boring and soon going to be commonplace. And if you stay stuck in that, there's going to be somebody that comes out to eat your lunch because they're going to do something innovative and they're watching how, okay, everybody's doing this.

Let me do this now and they're going to take your audience. So I want to put that out there. 

[00:34:17] Hala Taha: It's a really, really great point. It's super smart, but let's move on to another topic that I want to make sure we hit. I want to talk to you about building a niche community. You mentioned this earlier and you are a master at networking, building community.

And so I was honored to speak at your Miami podcast summit that happened earlier this summer. And you put on this event in just a few months. It was executed flawlessly, it looked amazing, super well attended, really popular people were speaking. And I'm confident that it's going to just become like a yearly staple podcast, like one of the biggest podcast conferences out there.

There's not that many out there that really get that big. So, my question for you is How are you able to attract a specific audience? So let me just give you a little bit more color. So I'm Arab American, right? But my audience is like 0. 01 percent Arabic. Like there's no Arabic people listening to my stuff because I don't talk about that.

I don't brand it that way. People might not even know what my, they know that I'm not white, right? But they probably don't even know what I am. So how are you able to attract? Black creators, because really it just seems like this podcast summit just attracted so many black and diverse creators and You really spoke to them.

They pulled out their wallets and flew out to Miami with very little notice And I was just like so shocked I remember I talked to one of my best friends is the CEO of PodFest and when I told him about your ID He's like he's not gonna get anyone. He hasn't started marketing yet Oh, it's dead. Like don't even show up and I was like, I think he's gonna get some people, you know And he ended up working with you in the end, and you guys are cool now, but like, when he first heard the idea, he was like, oh, this is gonna fail.

He hasn't even started promoting yet. And I was like, well, you don't know David. So talk to us about how you were able to get people to come out to this conference and 

[00:36:08] David Shands: support you. I'm glad I know that. I didn't even know that. Yeah. That's interesting, but yeah, I mean, one, it's something that hasn't happened yet.

And I'm not saying. There hasn't been podcast education conferences, but there hasn't been one where there's predominantly black people there sometimes speak a different language than other nationalities. Right? So for one, I've been doing conferences since 2018. So. This isn't my first one, 2022, me and a partner of mine did an event called Black Equity Con and we had 2, 200 people there.

Now this one's a little more niche, it's specifically for people that want a podcast, but they haven't seen it. Like they didn't see podcasts or podcast movement because those audiences, those summits or conferences. Aren't targeting us. So my audience, this is the first of its kind that they've seen.

They're like, Oh, wow. I didn't think I can go anywhere for podcast education. I'm like, all right, cool. I got you. And plus I've been an entrepreneur in a community for again, a decade. So I mean, it's a heavy lift and I lost money, which hopefully I don't lose money this year because I'll get sponsors, but I'm just so used to doing everything myself, I just put my own money up and I want the money to come back, but we had about.

A 750 people there. We want to double that this year, but I looked at it as not winning how he thought it wasn't going to win. Cause we thought it was going to have 1500 people there this year. And we only had like seven 50 and I'm like, dang, this isn't good. But everybody had an amazing time. It was just phenomenal.

So I've been in a space for a long time. I've been very consistent. And when I say I'm going to do something, people can trust it. Yeah. 

[00:37:57] Hala Taha: And they show up, but. Really, I want you to think about this question in terms of how are you able to attract the specific audience, the niche audience, Black and diverse creators?

Because, like I said, it's not an easy thing to do to attract a specific audience and these people are buying from you, they're watching your show, they're coming to your conferences, you've got them on lock, right? So what is your advice on attracting a niche audience? 

[00:38:26] David Shands: I'm not 100 percent sure. I can somebody just starting out.

I'm not 100 percent sure I can give them the answer to the question other than the fact that I have been doing this for 10 years and I'm black. It's not like I'm saying, okay, I'm specifically wanting black people to be here. I did, but it's not like I even have the option of getting another audience. I don't have another audience.

I was just telling your producer before the show, he said, you know, what's some of your goals with social proof? I said, I'm trying to get some more successful white people on the show. I just don't know it. I only know black people because I'm black. It's just who I am. A black person that goes to a predominantly white school will have white friends in the worlds that they're in will be white and they can call white people and say, I need help with this particular thing.

If a white person goes to a predominantly black school, That person will have black friends and if they need something, they call their black friends and say, Hey, I want to do this. And you embody that culture. I've only been in the black community my entire life. It's all I know. So once I start promoting, I'm speaking the language of the people I've been involved with for the last 38 years of my life.

I'm not a hundred percent sure how I can tell somebody who's not black. Yo, this is how you need to get the black community. I mean, I'm sure I can. You know, we did a consultation, but in this answer, I am black and I know what my people want. I know what my people don't have and I'm speaking their language and I'm delivering it in a way.

I went to both the other podcast conferences and I did not have a good time. I didn't really learn anything. I didn't learn anything new. It was hard for me to receive the information. I was a little confused at what was going on. No fault of their own though, because they're not speaking my language. And I'm 100 percent positive that they don't have people at the helm of this conference that look like me, that represent me because they just don't know the language.

No fault of their own. Okay. I'm probably not going to attract a lot of white people. Why? Because I don't speak their language. Nobody's fault. I don't speak French. I don't speak Spanish. Spanish people may not speak English, so we're going to have a disconnect. I'm not going to understand what's going on.

So we have a different flavor, not better or worse. We have a different flavor. We have a different flair. We have a different way that the conference needs to move for my audience to say, This is good. I have to connect my people. And then I got to bring some names on the stage that my people recognize and say, Hey, I want to meet this person in person.

 It's a great 

[00:41:26] Hala Taha: answer and I am a branding expert and just a few things, people like people who are similar to them, right? People like people who share the same identity, part of the same group, part of the same community. And also people are attracted to brands that resonate with them. And so when you're thinking about creating a brand, you actually need to mirror your audience.

So you are your perfect audience and you. Take it upon yourself to talk directly to that community. For me, I never bring up that I'm Arabic. I never talk about it because I don't identify with that, right? I grew up in America. I just feel American, right? And so for you, you identify with that. You speak about that.

 in my opinion, that's why people are really attracted to it because you are fostering Black community and creating communities. And speaking about it, 

[00:42:15] David Shands: you don't actually the reason because I came to you and I said, Hey, I think you should partner on this next podcast summit and it's not just because you're an amazing speaker and you are an amazing speaker.

We did the survey and you were one of the top speakers at the event. So we'd love to have you back next year, but I just saw how you were able to get white people to give you money and I'm like, yo, Alice speaks their language and I want this to be a multicultural diverse event now. We're not changing the way we do things in terms of bringing that flair that we bring.

So we're going to run it the same way we did last year, but I'm, I need you to attract people that I can't attract. So that's why I asked him like, Oh, we should probably connect. I was talking to Jessica too. Like, yo, we need to like do some stuff together because you all figured out how to get. Why ain't people give you money?

I haven't figured that out yet. All 

[00:43:06] Hala Taha: right. I'll give you a hand next time around. Sweet. Sweet. All right. So my last question, because I know you got to go. The last two questions that I ask all my guests is, what is one piece of actionable advice that our young improfiters can do today to become more profitable tomorrow?

[00:43:24] David Shands: if you have a product, go ask more people to buy the product. And it sounds simple. But a lot of people in this day and age in entrepreneurship, they don't ask people to buy their product. They make videos, create content, and they say, click the link in my bio. But if you have a product, you're going to have to walk up to Holla Taha and say, would you like to buy this?

Not just the story behind it, not just, hey, this is a cool design. And then Holla says something like, all right, well, I'm going to check you out. Send me your website. You send her the website. No, you need to ask. Would you like to buy this right now? If you adopt what I'm saying, you will make significantly more money today.

So I was in the mall selling t shirts and I tell people all about the brand, how cool it was. And they'll say, Hey, you've got a website. And that was the moment I knew you weren't buying anything, but someone says you got to ask for the sale and asking for the sale. Isn't check me out asking for the sale is, would you like to buy this?

And it was so incredible how sales. Doubled, tripled when I started asking people to buy. And here's another thing I made them tell me, no, three times. Would you like to buy this? No, not right now. Okay. Well, really, I'm going to ask you another question. Would you like to buy it just right now? You're here. I have the product.

And he said, well, no, not right now. And I said, well, why not right now? Now is a good time to buy. You would be surprised how many people bought on the second or third note. It's incredible. So if you have a product or a service. You will make more money if you just ask people, ask more people more often to buy what you have to sell, period.

[00:45:11] Hala Taha: Love it. And what is your secret to profiting in life? And this can go beyond business, beyond the topic of today's episode. 

[00:45:19] David Shands: Building a community, getting people to like you. I started out with a couple of people. I'm saying, Hey, come over to the house. Let's just figure out some ideas. I'm going to order a pizza.

Come over. I've been doing that since I lived in a one bedroom apartment and it's grown now, but. I've been building a community for a long, long time now. So one of my theories in life is if I'm around enough positive people, I'll be positive. If I'm around enough successful people, I'll be successful. If I'm around enough people who want to be more successful, eventually we will all become more successful together.

I have to get around an environment that pushes me, inspires me and motivates me. Period. So you need to start building a community. And I'm not saying you have to start your own community. If you're not going to start your own community, you need to be a part of one. That's why we have the morning meetup.

We have over a hundred people that join a call every single morning at 8 a. m. Eastern time. And we have a theme for the month. We read about 15 books a year together. We discuss the books or on the call every single morning, and I'm teaching entrepreneurship. I've been on all week and I'm there every day.

It's not like I've, I hire other people to do it. Or somebody sits in my place. I do have other speakers come on to join and things of that nature. And we have a team, but I am on that call every single morning. And my friends say, yo, how do you do it every single morning? I love the community. It's not a money grab for me.

I tell my community, I need this morning, meet up more to you do. I love being around you. I love seeing the bright faces in the morning. I love the testimonials of the wins. I'm in his community every day. So right now start building a community by being a part of one first. 

[00:47:02] Hala Taha: So this is called the morning meetup.

And I think you said there was a hundred people every day, but it's a thousand. I think you misspoke. It's almost a thousand people every day. Join his morning. There's 

[00:47:11] David Shands: about a thousand people in the community that joined it. Somewhere between 125, 200, but we're looking to go to 10, 000 this year. 

[00:47:19] Hala Taha: So amazing.

So how can people join morning meetup? How can they learn more about you, David? 

[00:47:24] David Shands: Oh, absolutely. Go to the morning, meetup. com the morning, meetup. com the morning, meetup. com. Also go to your Apple or Spotify or YouTube device and go check out a social proof podcast, just type in social proof podcast and hit the little follow or subscribe button and.

All the things that I do are right there and I guarantee there's so much valuable information, not only for me, dozens, dozens, dozens of other really, really amazing entrepreneurs, people that really have the game and we're freely sharing it. So just the podcast alone has helped so many people quit their job, build six and seven figure incomes.

It's incredible. So. Go to social proof podcast on your app or Spotify device or YouTube, and check me out. 

[00:48:11] Hala Taha: Awesome. I'll put all those links in the show notes, David, you're awesome. I loved our conversation. Thank you so much for being here. Thanks for having Having my good friend David Shands on the show and hearing his story really took me back to my early days working in retail at stores like Abercrombie and Bath and Body Works. Working in sales is such good training ground for business and for life. My days in retail taught me how to be a salesperson, how to be confident, how to speak with people and connect with them in a short amount of time.

So many skills I still use to this day as an entrepreneur. I loved hearing David talking about how he would try to boost his tips by upselling customers at the Cheesecake Factory where he worked. He learned a lot from that time in sales and from his days hustling to make it where he is today, and I appreciated his candor about how tough that hustle could have been at times.

Like David said, success takes focus and sometimes he would have so many balls going at once that he would drop them all. And with so many false starts and so many distractions, he got lost at times. Eventually he came to be comfortable with setbacks and not losing focus. And even if he had a bad few months when it came to earning money or creating content, he learned to just take those knocks and keep pushing ahead.

And ultimately, he took those hard knock lessons and those insights that came from them and shared them with wider audiences, helping others learn from his mistakes. And doing that, David has created a vibrant community on his podcast, on his YouTube and in his morning meetups. He has touched the lives and the businesses of so many other entrepreneurs with his knowledge and his passion.

And he's earned their trust and loyalty in return. I appreciate your trust and loyalty, Yap Fam. Thank you for listening to this episode. If you listened, learned, and profited from this conversation with the wonderful David Shams, please share this episode with your friends and family. You can help us build a vibrant community of fellow young improfiters.

Just hit that share button and text the link to this episode to someone you know who could benefit from it. And why not drop us a five star review on Apple Podcasts while you're at it. Help us make sure that others can find us and learn from the same amazing conversations. You can find me on Instagram at Yavath Hala or LinkedIn by searching my name, it's Hala Taha.

I also want to shout out my amazing production team, my executive producer Jason, Amelia, our assistant producer for Khan and Hasham helping us with guest outreach, Greta and Sean for supporting our research, Kriti, Ash, Garima, Ambika, and Aaron for helping us with sales and add ups on the network. Thank you guys so much on the production side, on the network side, and of course, everybody on our social media agency side.

You guys are absolutely amazing. I am so blessed. This is your host, Hala Taha, AKA the podcast princess signing off. 

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