Figuring Out Numerous Pivots With Raman Sehgal
Ep. 110
| with
Raman Sehgal

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    This week I have the incredible Raman Sehgal on the show. As a self-proclaimed recovering marketer and upcoming podcaster, Raman has spent years building a remarkable portfolio. He began his career climbing the corporate ladder with big brands like Proctor & Gamble and Dannon and, later, left the security of corporate America to work at in the startup scene. While we talk about all of his transitions, it’s his latest one that I really wanted to highlight on the show.
    Raman left the startup world to bring his unique perspective to life across his first 3 (of many?) podcasts: “the P&G Alumni Podcast,” “Model Minorities,” and “Quarantined Comics.” These shows share candid conversations that aspire to provide mentorship, solve racism, and debate Superman’s management style, respectively.
    I wanted to have this conversation on the podcast because most of my past guests had already figured out their transitions. With Raman, we get to hear about how he’s figuring out this new venture right now, his approach to this new medium, and how he decides which projects to pursue. I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation and hope you gain as much from this conversation as I did.
    Find Raman Here:

Show Transcript
Hi guys. Welcome back to another episode. I hope you are all well. I am doing great. And I'm so excited to have this conversation with Raman Sehgal on the podcast today, he calls himself a recovering marketer and emerging podcaster. He, like many of us spent the first part of his career, climbing the corporate ladder at really big companies like Proctor and Gamble and Dannon. And then we will talk to him about how he left the security and cushy job in big corporate America to go and work at a startup. And while that oftentimes, you know, sounds sexy in the news, it is a very scary and unpredictable path because most startups end up going out of business and you are taking a huge pay cut and there isn't a lot of security.

And so a lot of people find it really difficult to go from the kind of tried and true path of big corporate America to the more exciting startup life. And so we'll talk about how he got into startups, but he has since made an additional pivot. He left the startup world because of the amount of hours he was working there as well, once he had his daughter and he has now brought his unique perspective to life across three of possibly many more podcasts. He is the host of learnings from leaders, which is a podcast with Proctor and gamble alumni. He's also a cohost of model minorities, which is a podcast focused on race. And lastly quarantine comics, which is just a fun project that he has with his friend talking about comic books. Now, the reason I wanted him on this show is because oftentimes I think it's easy to look at.

Even people that have taken the jump and then gotten to a place where they are now doing something they love and they are successful at it. And we talk about the journey, but they've already kind of proven out that system and become quote-unquote, I guess, successful. And what I really have wanted to bring on the show and to talk to people that are in the thick of it that are actually figuring it out as they're going, because I think oftentimes it is easy to look at people and think they just had it figured out, or they don't have fear or that they know exactly what they're doing. And I've constantly talked about how that's not the case, how nobody knows that they're doing, but I really wanted to bring somebody on. Who's kind of in the middle of figuring out this new venture, because podcasting is like the wild wild West, right?
There is no tried and true business plan. There are a lot of you know, skeptics about whether it can be turned into a business. There isn't tons of money flooding it for small. I mean, obviously now we see them with the Spotify guys and bigger companies, but not with small independent people. And it's so interesting to me that Ryan is taking this time to kind of see if he can build this into a business because he loves the medium and he loves what he's doing and he's trying to figure it out. And when we had conversations before I had him on the show, it was just so clear to me that he has such a different perspective because so many people get bogged down with the fear of like, how will this work? How am I going to do this? And it's not that he doesn't have that.
And we'll talk a lot about how he, you know, he'll talk very openly about it. He doesn't know what he's doing is just figuring it out. And I think it's really important to see that, that it is a risk. There's always the fear. There's always the doubt. There is no clear path oftentimes, and yet it can still be worth it. Now, obviously everyone's situation is different and we'll talk to him about how he's kind of able to do this, but I think it's a really unique perspective to have when you're considering may be something that isn't the well-worn path. It's not something that has been done before. And yet you feel strongly about giving it a shot. So without further ado, let's jump in and talk to Raman. Hi Raman. Thank you so much for joining me today.
Raman: Golly. It's great to be here. Thanks for having me.
Goli: Oh, I am so excited to have you. There are so many things I want to talk about what you're doing right now with all these podcasts that you're doing and just this journey through entrepreneurship, but why don't you start by us back off from where you started in your career in marketing and how that kind of came about and give us a little background about how you kind of made it to where you are today.
Raman: I used to call myself an accidental marketer and now I call myself a recovering marketer because I never set out to work in marketing, you know, as a kid immigrant parents, me know what the options were. And I disappointed even that, cause it was like, Oh, so you're not going to medical school. You'll do engineering, but you'll take the MCAT later. Right. And you know, when I get into something, I go all in. I hated chemistry. I liked the physics part of chemistry, but I was like... I saw my sister, who's a doctor going through organic chemistry nightmares. I was like, I can't do this. And so it was either be an artist or engineer. And my dad who's an architect was like, there's no money in art, no money in architecture. You play with computers as well, go to this computer engineering thing.
So I did, and I think I did well enough, but I kind of had this realization early on that if I wasn't super passionate about, I remember being in the lab one night and seeing people just rewiring circuits with off the shelf parts that they bought, right. I was like, Oh, you're going to be much happier at your job than I am. So I finished the engineering degree. I got the grades and then I went back and got my MBA, like, cause I got a free ride to get it. And I still didn't know what I wanted to do. I took all these business classes and marketing, as it was taught was very analytical. And I was like, this is fine spreadsheets, whatever I did a frozen pizza case study, but I didn't want to do that. I thought I'd go be a consultant in through college for like beer and travel money.
I did web design and graphic design on the side. And so this company called Procter and Gamble, who I thought was a law firm. I came from Alabama. I didn't know. They were like, Hey, you've done this internet thing. Why don't you come get an internship in interactive marketing and beauty care? And all I heard was beauty care. All my friends who were getting roles at P and G were getting sexier, sounding roles, like information security. And I was like, well, I want that role. But it turns out I have the coolest job and you know, I moved to Cincinnati and for me it was, you know, I always wanted to get out of Alabama. And since it was a bigger city than the towns in Alabama, I grew up in. And so I fell in love with the city. I fell in love with the company and I spent like eight years working on a lot of really big brands, got a couple of international assignments and met some really great people and including my then-girlfriend, now wife, but she wasn't as happy with Proctor.
And so she quit. I got this ex-pat assignment in Asia for about a year and she came out and took a leave. So she kind of taught me the value of quitting early. And you know, we backpacked around, I remember being on a hillside somewhere in Southeast Asia, deciding when we got back to the States, she would quit and I'd follow her. I'd figure it out. So she did, she quit. She moved to New York and I told the company, the woman I'm going to marry, just moved to New York. You gotta get me a job out there. I'm going to have to quit and go pick it up or Google or an agency or something. And the company is a great company. They were like, okay, cool, hang tight for a year. So we did distance for a year. I, I, you know, my girlfriend was in another town.
We were doing distance. So I had a lot more free time. And so I started volunteering with two organizations. One was this noncreative arts nonprofit Happen. And the other was the Obama campaign. Cause this is Oh eight. You're just literally knocking on doors in Hamilton County. But as we know, that made a difference and it kind of awakened something in me doing that. So then Proctor gave me a job, literally negotiating deals with Google and they didn't see it. So I got to work in New York for Proctor for a couple of years, but always being remote from the mothership. And then eventually all roads lead back to Cincinnati. Dannon yogurt had me come to do kind of a more scale digital media rolls. I did that for two and a half years, but I hit my point of diminishing returns much faster on corporate stuff being slow.
And so I decided I wanted to pivot into tech and take everything I learned about brand building and media and apply it to tech. And it was either start my own thing or go to Google. And the InBetween was a longtime friend and mentor who was also X, T and G what starting a startup. And he asked me to be an employee - one of the first time employees of the company. And we'd do a lot of cool things for three years nonstop around the clockwork. And there was a nice exit eventually but I got to, I don't want to call it breaking point, but a nice pausing point when my daughter was born. And that was kind of taking a sabbatical. It took a few months off.
Goli: Let me stop you for a second. It seems like the first part of your career, obviously like, you know, over 10 years or so is at these large corporations like P and G and Dannon. And you're climbing that corporate ladder and I'm assuming, you know, you have a pretty good salary and pretty good benefits. And I think for a lot of people who may, after 10 years, even if it's a job that you enjoy, maybe you become a little restless things. You know, you're not learning as much anymore. Like you were saying, it's kind of this like diminishing returns and you want something else. And while it sounds very sexy and very cool to go to a startup, it's really, you know, unsafe and scary because it is a leap. And like, w you know, when you look at the statistics of like, how many startups fail, I think a lot of us give into the fear of like one in my, what happens to your resume and all that stuff. And I think a lot of, a little too much weight to that thing. But beyond that, it's a real fear of like, okay, well, my salary and I need, you know, benefits and all of these things. And so people don't make that. So I'm just wondering, like, what was the calculation for you when you were, you know, had it had clearly established a career at these large firms to then decide, you know, I'm gonna let it ride on the startup.
Raman: The one thing I will give the immigrant parent experience, it's not exclusive to that, but we were pretty well upper middle class, but my older sister and I, we didn't know that we weren't allowed to get nice shoes or I need designer things. And this like, value of like, I'm still afraid to use paper towels. I, I'm not lying, but like live below your means my then girlfriend now wife. And at the time when I quit Dannon and we were married, but like, we both had that mentality. So fortunately, you know, we work for big multinational companies, but we kept our cost of living really low. And we're just always stashing. I jokingly say stashing money under the mattress, but saving money. And I remember the conversation with Bob, the ex-P&G mentor who recruited me to a startup. You know, we'd been flirting around me joining for a bit, and there are nevermind the money.
The nature of the work is like, you're going to have to sell you. You don't have all this infrastructure around you anymore. Me, the co-founder and CEO, and you, we're going to be the only guy selling this thing. And he said, look, Roman, I can't afford to pay you what you're making. And that was to your point about the calculus. So let's align on what a number is like, how low can you go? When I got my starting salary at P and G out of B school, I was being paid more than my dad, a tenured professor was my thing. So that was good money. And so that number from 10 years prior. And so I told Bob, and it was kind of a gentleman's agreement, but okay. You're one, just meet me out, what I was making. So I cut my salary in half and, you know, he gave me a number and he expected me to negotiate for a bigger salary number, but I'd already made the decision. I'm cutting my salary. I negotiated for more stock, more equity. Yeah. I mean, it is. It's all funny money. Anytime someone tries to compensate you in stock options, it's assumed it's monopoly money. It's not going to turn into anything.
Goli: Yeah. I was going to say, it's smart. When you know the outcome, like in hindsight, it gives you some art, but if the company went under, then it would have been a Dumbo.
Raman: I knew the company had just closed a seed round or an angel round. So I knew how much money they had to burn. Like I knew what the burn rate was. So me asking for another 10 K or another 20 care, another 50 K or whatever the number is meant, the company had less runway. So the gentleman's agreement was here's the number with a lot of stock. And at the one year mark, we knew what the goals were. We got these many logos and contracts on the board. And if we do, we can raise a series, a XYZ valuation. So the gentleman's agreement was when that happens roughly one year out from when you joined, we'll take your salary back up to what you were making a Dannon, and I'm not going to lie. That was the motivation. And so the calculus was how much do I really need full alignment with my wife?
Can I take a risk for a year? We didn't have kids. We live below our means and I'm going to have to work like crazy for the next year. But I was so much more satisfied and fulfilled. I'm not gonna lie. It was hard. The ego took a massive punch. I go from going to conferences where everyone wants to speak to you because the logo on your business card to people who had, once you thought you were their friend, they weren't picking up the phone. They don't want to talk to you anymore because they thought you were selling it. And you don't want to say you learn who your friends are, but you kind of learn who your allies are and the industry, and you kind of learn who's out there to make it transactional. That was the calculus. There was not just the money calculus by all means like you know, the privilege and the savings that we had, but also the calculus of what Bob called me. It was like, this is going to be the first time you're betting on yourself. You're not betting on the Dannon or the P&G logo on your business card. And that's a lot of deep programming to do, but I'm glad I did it. I'm more competent as a result of that early, that first-year experience like eating my humble pie every other day. I wouldn't be able to do the things or make the decisions or the leaps that I made since then. And so taking the first leap is really important.
Goli: I'm glad that you raised that because I think we've talked about it a lot. And from every guest that we've had, you know, when they make the jump we talk about, even though the road is, I mean, in no way, want to give off this false impression that it's all rainbows and butterflies and it's so easy, it's very difficult. But a lot of times, once you make the jump and you look back and you think like, why was I so afraid of this? Like the fear is so blown out of proportion because you start realizing that you can bet on yourself and you can rely on yourself and you'll kind of figure it out and you'll pivot. And I think that opens up so much more freedom as you move forward in your career. And I think so much often, it's just taking that first leap to see like that you will figure it out.
Raman: Well, the other benefit is the rollercoaster effect. Every entrepreneur, I was kind of talking to about this big decision I was about to make leaving corporate said, Hey, when you're at a startup, whether it's your own pizza shop or the sexy ad tech company or whatever, you're gonna experience the highest highs and the lowest lows sometimes in the span of a week. So one example is like, we got a meeting at Nike with my old boss and other ex P&G or, and we walked out of the meeting and the guy, he said, you can solve these three problems, like, well, unlimited flow of media dollars. And we're on Nike's campus. We're coming out of the company store getting a good email from this guy about this dealer because remember seed-funded startup just is about to close a deal with Nike.
Goli: So cool.
Raman: And Bob and I are in the parking lot of the Nike company store. I remember, and we got an email or a Slack from the other co founder of the company. And the platform we were partnering with Pinterest basically said something about our product that was going to make it very hard for us to do business. So it was like coming off the highest high and an immediate punch in the gut and the value isn't Oh, ride the roller coaster. It's I don't get as excited about the highest highs anymore. And I don't get as bummed out when you get that business punching the guy I'd have a more even keel kind of nature to dealing with it because, and I don't think I could have done that at a big company.
Goli: Absolutely. I want to kind of get into it cause you went from the startups and we'll talk about what you're kind of doing now. But one of the things that I love about startups and entrepreneurship in general is that when I remember when I quit law and I started going to these tech startup meetups, and one of the things I loved was just the energy of people. And like people actually being happy, doing what, like being really excited about the thing that they were selling or the thing they were doing, which seemed very different from the law. But the bigger thing that like blew me away was talking to people that had been entrepreneurs for awhile and had been in the startup scene and them talking about their past, their past like businesses. And it was just like all over the place. Right. It was like, Oh, I started, we did this startup and we were selling like media ads.
And then we started doing this and we were trying to like, you know, figure out logistics for whatever shipping, frozen food or whatever it was. And because it was so stuck in the corporate mindset. And I was so stuck in, especially in law, you know, like when, as lawyers, most people pick one field and then stick to that. It's like, you don't hear someone saying like, Oh, I used to be a tax attorney. And then now I'm doing divorce law, you know, it's like, you just stick to one thing. And I remember a liberating, it seemed like, wait, what do you mean? You, you wouldn't have any experience in this. You just started doing that. And it's like, yeah, because you're taking these skills. It's not, you know, the product doesn't matter. It's like, you're figuring out how to run a business, how to market, how to sell, how to set up everything. And then you can apply that anywhere. And I think that's one of the best things that startups do. Yes. It's a grind. Yes. It's a lot of hard work, but I think it just shows you the fact that like you can figure out anything and that really opens up just like a world of possibilities, because you're not stuck in a box to like, even if you try something and then that failed, it's like, okay, what's next? Let's move on to the next thing.
Raman: The idea of thinking laterally versus vertically, like one of the early bosses at Proctor is the guy want to go into Nike and was like, Raman, quit being obsessed about getting the next promotion, just get as broad of an education as you can. And that was the nature of the roles that I took. And even in startup land, it was that one sort of plan. You don't have the resources, right? So you have to figure out your data science guy doesn't have the bandwidth to help you with the thing you want to do for that marketing report. So you better learn to do a SQL query without breaking things. And it's these lateral skills that you build, you should definitely focus on what your strengths are. I'm not saying shore up the things you don't want to do, but the more you try different things, the more repetition at it, the more you figure out what you want to do, what you like to do and what you don't want to do. And you can't get it out unless you try it.
Goli: A hundred percent. I think that's the biggest takeaway on this podcast. And the number one thing that people always ask me is how do I figure out what I want to do? And I wish, you know, it's as if you could give an assessment or you can give a quiz and then, Oh, the perfect career will pop up for you, but it's all trial and error. And it's like, until you figure out the things from each thing that lights you up and like pay attention to like, Oh, this is where I feel the most energized. And this is what I love doing. And you start kind of putting, I feel like it's like a puzzle. You're figuring out like where your strengths are and where you have the most fun. And one of the things you love and you kind of start putting that together. And then you figure out what this like, quote unquote, passion that people are like searching for all week.
Raman: There is no perfect answer ever. Like, I wouldn't be lying if I said I figured it out because I haven't, it's about getting enough pieces in the puzzle or knowing what you know, and knowing what you don't know and even having your own decision criteria, like one other thing. So when I was thinking about leaving Dan and, and go into this startup apology, there was this really, really successful entrepreneur that I don't want to say we were friends, but like I had the privilege of, I wanted to like schedule a meeting with them every three months I could go sit in his office and this guy had already sold a company. It was on his way to selling his next company. And I laid out a couple of startup and tech ideas I was looking at. He told me something, which I still use to this day.
He said, you know, I invest in a lot of companies now as an angel investor. And I see two, two types of founders come across the table. Let me be very clear. I'm not a founder, but he said, I see the kind of people who are doing something, cause it's just kind of cool. And then I see the kind of people who are building something because they can't live in a world where that thing doesn't exist. And he said, I invest in those guys and that became, look, I'm not investing my dollars, but I'm investing my time into other people's companies and other people's ideas. And I can sniff that out pretty well. Like is goalie doing this podcast because she's wanting to do a podcast and be an influencer, or you have a message and a story you need people to hear, like you can't live in a world where this message and this learning doesn't exist.
And that excites me more about the kind of people I want to work on. And even myself, I'm in the middle of cooking, a nonprofit slash superPAC idea right now with a friend independent of the podcast. Right. And it's lighting me up because I can't live in a world where this thing doesn't exist and I will stay up later nights. I will have less sleep. I will make tradeoffs with some exceptions on what it takes to get the work done or how much money to make, et cetera. Because I actually believe in the thing I'm working on...
Goli: To what you were just saying about, you know, there's never anything, there's never like this perfect thing, and we're all figuring it out. But I think when you take that pressure off of not figuring out the thing and realizing that there are so many opportunities and there's so many ways to kind of pursue your curiosities, see what lights you up and then go after the thing that you can't stop thinking about. And all of that takes kind of this trial and error approach. But it really is just a matter of like taking the next step and the next step and seeing where that leads you to, until you find something and you're like, Oh my God, I love this so much.
Raman: You have to provide yourself the parameters to do that. So like another, this weekend, I don't know when this episode is going to air, but like, so John Lewis passed away and John Lewis is someone I cared a lot about over the years I grew up in Alabama, I did the school trips to Selma. I've read March has graphic, novel, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And we want to do something from one of my podcasts. And my cohost was on vacation with her family completely turned off. And you know, I went and looked up a couple of speeches and cut a couple of clips, but I spent the whole weekend doing it, but I didn't do it at the expense of my family. I got up early on Saturday, let my wife sleep in, let my daughter watch probably far too many cartoons, but I sat on the couch with my headphones in while she was watching her cartoons and working on this John Lewis project that I wanted to work on.
And I guess the point of that is I know kind of what those moments are you in those tradeoffs, like, okay, I'm not going to get to sleep a couple of extra hours, right? But it's like, you have this itch or this urge and you can't satisfy until you get something done. But the trick is how do you create the systems and the process. And that can be with money with time, with relationship and expectations with family and friends. If you don't do those things, you can't roll the dice more and try those new things.
Goli: Oh my God. I love that. And actually, I think that's a good segue to talking about what you, you kind of left the startup world. Well, maybe you haven't left, but you're now doing these three podcasts. And I want to talk about what the podcasts are and why you've even decided to kind of go in this direction. But I think, again, this really highlights. What were we were just talking about? It's like giving yourself the space to just try things. I think, you know, when you are not stuck in this perfectionist world, like corporate world, where you have to, like you were saying, just kind of climb that ladder vertically. And you're always worried about like, what if this fails can allow yourself to just really see what works and what doesn't and what drives with you. And I think what you're doing now is just such a good Testament to being giving yourself the freedom, to just roll the dice and see like, what is this? Is this going to work for me? Is it not? So tell us what you're doing now with your body.
Raman: Yes. Well, again, I have to caveat all this stuff with, like, I have not figured this out and I have so much, like we're staring down the barrel of a potential depression and I have some anxiety about like, what am I doing?
Goli: Let's stop there though. Thank you so much for saying that. We talk about that all the time on the podcast. I'm constantly having it thrown up on my social media. I think that, that is the entire point though, is that nobody has it figured out. Like I don't, you know, I don't ever in any way try to like sit here and say that like, Oh, I have it all figured out. And it's a matter. And I think the, really the point of this podcast is to show that like, everybody's just doing their best to figure out what's going on. And like, you can never, you know, like how could you have ever planned for a pandemic and like a recession of this size. It's like, there's no way to... You're waiting your whole life to try to like plan for the perfect time. It'll never happen.
Raman: Yeah. If anyone tells you they've figured it out, they're lying. And I honestly, before we started recording, we were talking a little bit about social media. Like we talked about giving yourself the infrastructure in this space. When I quit Dannon United, I've done a couple of international assignments. My wife and I, you know, we made a lot of international backpacking trips before my daughter was born. But now I'm at the startup and I'm working like crazy hours and I'm not getting to speak on stage at conferences and not getting the cool trip to Paris for the global meeting or whatever. And a lot of my friends are getting the sweet spot assignments. One of my friends went to Google and I remember going to like this big industry conference in France, where I had to hustle and work it.
But my friends at Google and all the brands are saying, Hey, come on on my yacht or whatever. And I'm like hustling, staying up all night to like work a deal and getting up in the morning to like pitch at a pitch event or all these things and the anxiety, the FOMO, right. Fear of missing out social media is the worst at it. And I had already experimented around with trying to turn off my brain back in Oh nine from social and like just observing the FOMO of everyone, putting their best self forward. I was like F this I'm out. I just don't care. I'm literally the only reason I still have a Facebook account is when I go into an organization or on profit and I have to run their Facebook. I need to have an account. I'm not even hating LinkedIn. I'm not going to lie because it's all like I go into LinkedIn to, Oh, let me look up goalie. What do we have in common before this meeting? But I find myself distracted in the feed with all the other crap people are posting. And I do that as well with the podcast now. And I hate it. Amount of mental freedom and space I get from ignoring social media and turning it off or putting it in its place. Oh my God. It's like a breath of fresh air. How do you do that with your brands? This is why your podcast is bigger than mine. Goli.
Goli: No, but I mean, let's say like you, so you left, did you start these three podcasts at the same time? Like you just decided I'm going to, I haven't done a podcast. Let me just stop.
Raman: Yeah. I'm pretty diluted. Well, no. So last year before I turned 40 so I was always like podcast obsessed and with the medium and like the intimate experience of hearing smart people talk, not just like serialized narratives, right? But like actual conversations with smart people because you feel like you're a fly on the wall. And so before I turned 40, I decided I'd do this thing called the interview project where I wound up interviewing 50, but I was going to be 40 people from my life old bosses, my mom or coworkers, couple of ex-girlfriends. And these are just zoom conversations recorded, transcribed. So I can put them on a book on the shelf later. And only the person I interviewed had a copy of the recording. It was very much like this conversation we're having now with a little more structure.
Cause I was trying figure out what I wanted to do. And through that process, it was always kind of a subconscious precursor to doing these podcasts. And so I connected deeper with a handful of friends and we have all of us have a couple of different thesis. There are three podcasts, the P and G alumni podcast learning from leaders model. Minorities is the second one. And in quarantine comics and they're all flip of the same coin, it's my voice, but to a different angle of interest, right? So the PNG alumni podcast is like interviews or conversations with big brand leaders. And it's kind of the one I have to do. I'm on the board of this global network. I have access to these executives and instead of doing the standard executive interview, I do a conversation just like this. Like I really want to know their hopes and fears and failures because that's exciting. And that's interesting to me, if anything, I'm getting like professional coaching and therapy out of it. The second line model minorities is conversations on work and life through the lens of race and gender. And you know, the time we're living in right now, it might seem obvious and needed, but I've been frustrated about the level of discourse we've been having on this topic for years. That's kind of what Sharon I do. And it's such an important topic.
I mean always, but I think now people realize like the urgency of having these conversations. And so I think really brave before this moment to have realized like this is the conversations that we need to be having and that people need to be listening to.
The thesis is we're not going to, I joke that, Oh, we'll stop. Racism will never solve it. But generating greater empathy and understanding by walking a mile in someone else's shoes and hearing what their experiences, whether it's the Puerto Rican ad executive who can't tell the difference between firecrackers and gunshots, whether it's someone coming out to their parents and their parents not accepting it. Like whether it's talking to a female guests and hearing how their male colleague who's really nice to them, doesn't let them get a word in edgewise. Like I am as a proxy for the audience becoming more hate this word woke. But if we can do that for anyone who listens to our show, look, whether you're black, white, gay, straight boy, girl, it doesn't matter. We just want to uncover these truths in these conversations. And it's the one in the platform I'm probably the most passionate about because the executive interview one, it's great.
Don't get me wrong. These are some amazing people that we're pulling force conversations with, but I don't think that makes the world better for my daughter. This other one model minorities does when the kind of emails we have this guest, she's the female employment lawyer from Kentucky errands, her name. And I'm actually really close friends with her husband, but I knew I wanted to interview Aaron and we did the interview. It was really good. I got a text from her husband Carl later on. He was like, Aaron's family listened to the podcast and didn't realize a few things it's being shared around the family. It's kind of the indirect uncomfortable truths that people need to hear. You could tell that to your family, but they're not going to listen. But when they hear you speaking publicly about it, and that wasn't the reason she said whatever story she said, and we've gotten so many emails like that, not just from guests and guests, families, and friends, but independent people. And that's how we know it's working. And you know that the focus is how do we scale this thing? And the last one is quarantine comics to report her body. And I doing a comic book book club, but I'm passionate about comic books. And we, we literally treat a medium with a heavy amount of seriousness, but also fun. And it's a forcing function for me to read a new comic book every week. So it's fine.
Goli: I love that. I love that. Okay. Tell me what the plan or the idea behind starting these three podcasts. I mean, do you just start a podcast network? Is this like a business venture or is this just for fun as a hobby? I mean, what's the idea behind it.
Raman: I - Did my mom put you up to that question?
Goli: We want to have an intervention and figure out what you're doing with your life.
Raman: The beauty is look, the activate, you know, this, the activation cost or energy to launching is harder than the ongoing maintenance, right? And so I'm definitely spending what we're in Q three right now, figuring out how to make it even more efficient without sacrificing the quality. So I can focus on the growth because they're all passionate projects, but they can't eat up as much time as they were when I launched them. I fully intended to do these while I was working at my last ad-tech startup, and then the opportunity presented itself to take a sabbatical. So I did, I am still doing consulting and freelance work right now. And I'm also starting to like light up my networking, but you know what, one thing that's lit up in my brain is because we had a partnership conversation come up for one of the podcasts and I decided to pivot it to, Hey, don't just take on the podcast, bring me on as an employee of your company.
And let me apply all those like marketing BizDev commercial strategy, you know, things I've got in my brain to the podcasting industry. And that's like the best of both worlds, continuing a content creator. But now, instead of applying my business skills to the world of ad tech or consumer packaged goods, having apply them to this nascent medium that continues to scale and grow. And whether that's going to a big company like Spotify or iHeart, or going to something smaller like Pushkin who works with Malcolm Gladwell or wondering or two to your point, starting my own network. I don't know because I've started in this conversation is one of them I've started to meet a lot of likeminded purpose-driven podcasters. I'm in real operation of the work that they're doing. I care. And honestly, the comic book one doesn't count like the comic one is just a fun thing I was going to do.
Anyway, this guy, Ryan and I, we were already arguing about Comicon, silver bond, me and the city before the pandemic. So now we're just doing it every other Sunday night, but I've had the opportunity to meet some really interesting likeminded people. So if we build something, I don't know what the answer is from a monetary runway standpoint. Like I can extend my runway, the more consulting I do, but I don't want to be a consultant forever. I want to work on something towards something with a team of people. And I just need to find my way there.
Goli: And that's why honestly, I mean, it's so you and I spoke before this podcast and we'd met when I'm going to be on model minorities podcast. And we were just speaking. Honestly, the reason I wanted you on this podcast is because I love that you're in the middle of this discovery phase. And oftentimes the guests that I have had a successful career quit and then have gone on to figure out the other thing too, and kind of make it a quote-unquote success or whatever they're doing is a little more established. And what I really wanted to highlight this conversation. And what I love that you're doing is really what I tried to advocate to people all the time is like, really just experimenting. Now I understand that there are limitations to some people on it, and it's going to depend on the amount of money you have saved or the amount of runway you have, or if you can do freelancing and consulting, or if you can do these other things.
Raman: But I love that a lot of people in your position could just go back to the corporate world and get another job or go to another startup or figure out like, okay, what is the next thing? And I feel the same way obviously about podcasting. Like the reason I started a podcast is I just am so obsessed with the medium. And I love listening to podcasts so much that I was like, I have to be a part of this. And I think that it's so amazing in this day and age that you can, I just want people to see that, like people don't go into these things, having everything figured out, it's like, Oh, this is the 12 step business plan that I have and I'm just going to start it. And then I'm going to monetize my year one. And it's kind of like until I put it out there and see like, do people resonate with this?
Can I grow? This? Is this something? And sure. I mean, everyone obviously wants to be compensated for their work to be able to do it because that's the only way you can do it. Like if it takes up time, like you were just saying, and it doesn't have a return at some point, you're going to have to get a job or keep doing other things. But I just love that. Like, there is no plan, but there's a million different avenues. Like maybe this leads to a job that has more to do with podcasting and you go to one of these companies and like you're putting yourself in a position of figuring it out and opening up more opportunities. And I just, I love that you're doing that, especially with something that you feel very passionate about.
And I think you have to set parameters around it. Like I do have a time limit on some of this, right. But at the same time, I will probably continue to do some of these. I just have to find a way to make it efficient, to be done. And so the comic book podcast, my cohost Ryan, we typically review a book every two weeks. There's been a little bit of pressure on both of us like, Oh, we should just record every week. And like, we're building up a bank of episodes, but Ryan said something really interesting the other day. He's like, Roman, we need to, when it feels like work, it's not going to be fun anymore. And every once in a while, we'll record every week. But if we feel, Oh my God, it's the pressure I have to read this book before the Sunday or the Saturday night recording, then it's not fun.
And I feel like I'm the first person to say, I have immense amount of privilege that I earned some of it, but I didn't own all of it. And I'm doing this on the back stuff. You know, my parents getting me an education and all of these different things, but I also have a responsibility, Bob, the mentor who brought me to his first startup, which had a nice earn out, which is somewhat funding, the sabbatical I'm on to do these podcasts back when I was at Dan and I was starting to get really frustrated at approaching that point of diminishing returns. He was like, Grumman, I hear you being frustrated. And this is before he started the company and started actively recruited me. He was like, ramen, I hear you being frustrated, but you got to shit on and get off the pot. And he was like, it's okay to just stay at Dannon and go do your four hour.
He kind of did the four hour workweek. Like you can get all of that 40 hours done in four to 10 hours. If you really wanted to, you don't have to be top rated. You don't do the best work was like, and then you can apply all your energy to that fun stuff you want to do on the side. So look, everything is a choice. I don't think you have to quit your big job. I would argue don't quit your big job, force yourself to do that project on nights and weekends. And you care enough about it to do it on nights and weekends and do a great job at it. Like I was doing the interview project before I quit my last startup and that was 50 interviews and like two and a half months. And I squeeze in the time I might've done some of those, like on coffee breaks and hiding in like a phone booth. But I also stayed up at night and did the work that maybe I didn't get done during the day, but that, because that's what I'm, that guest was available to talk. You'll make the time for the things you want to do, but you have to be the one who makes those decisions and sets those parameters. No, one's going to hand it to you
Goli: A hundred percent. And I think you're absolutely right. Again, like it's absolutely true that there is no like equality. Everyone doesn't have the same situation and there's tons, you know, a lot of us have a lot more privileges and a lot more maybe flexibility, but then there are tons of people who are doing it as side hustles on nights and weekends. And it's a matter of figuring out what you can do. And we've talked a lot about this on a podcast and kind of this like just compound effects. You know, I think so often we think that we have to make these huge sweeping changes in our lives. But if you use three hours a week in a year that comes out to four 40 hour work weeks. And so it's like, if someone told you, you could take a month sabbatical to work on a project, that would be a lot of time.
Raman: Obviously there's a quotes of like, we overestimate what we can do in a year. And we underestimate what we can do in 10 years. And I think a lot of the point of the group programs I have and the challenges they put on and this podcast is let's not look at like, okay, fine. You're unhappy right now. And maybe you can't do anything in the next six months or a year. Like you have to keep this job, but if you can start planning for like, where do I want to be in five years? Where do I want to be in 10 years? And how do I start kind of cultivating these interests and trying these things and maybe starting a podcast or a blog and getting out of my own perfectionist tendencies and the fear of what other people think and all this other stuff, and let myself explore and be curious and be a human and grow. Then I can start, you know, making the moves I need to do to get to the other place there. I agree with you a hundred percent that I actually don't think you should quit because it just puts more stress until you can kind of give yourself some time to explore.
Why would I would challenge everyone if it's something you're flirting with, literally like get a spreadsheet out or a notepad or a sheet of paper and write down how you spend all of your hours in a week, waking hours and sleeping hours, you know, are you sleeping in on the weekends? Are you spending a combined total of, I don't know what the stats are, but people spend like two hours on social or an hour on Netflix. Like I remember in college, I quit watching TV for two years straight because I was like, I'll have a job I can watch West wing later on. And I did that, right. I actually, I listened to less podcasts now because I'm working on them. But, but even learned by not listening to podcasts, that makes me a podcaster. So now I forced myself to listen, go for a walk and not listen to my, you know, the episodes I've got to edit or the prep for a goalie podcast, but go listen to, you know, pod save America or pivot because it inspires and it fuels me. So it's like, everything has a cost and everything has a benefit. And until you kind of map that out for yourself, you don't know what the trade offs are.
Goli: Absolutely. And I think that goes back to what you were saying too about social media, which I-I'm interested to know, like now having these three podcasts, how you kind of limit that because, so when this air is the last episode that I did will be a book review on deep work by Cal Newport. And I've been giving a lot of thought to this of like just the state of constant distraction that I live in. I know like obviously everybody does, but I've realized for myself, like I I'm really just doing shallow work and not giving myself the space to do more in depth kind of planning. And I'm looking to make a lot of changes, especially with social media. And we were talking about this before we started recording. I think it scares me. And then I also have all of these thoughts that I've just, you know, made up or adopted other people's like, you can't not be on social media or you can't, you know, and I'm, I'm realizing how ridiculous that is. And so I'm flirting with that, you know, different ideas of like how to take a sabbatical or how to limit it. So how have you been able to do that so that you have these focus times of using your time for the things that are important to you?
Raman: Again, it's some of it was for my own anxieties to get rid of them. And I just got the benefit of time afterwards. Delete all the apps on your phone. Seriously, like Facebook. I mean, look, if you don't know enough about the evils, Facebook and Instagram, like I'm just delete that off. You're like, and even like, you know, Pinterest, all, everything. Like I don't, I think I had to install Quora the other day, but then I uninstalled it as soon as I did the thing I needed to, but none of that stuff exists on my phone anymore and then turn all the alerts off. So yeah, Slack and email, if you're getting push alerts or stuff, other than like direct notifications, turn them off, make hours to go in here. And so on the podcast, I literally have calendar invites for the mornings to go into social and promote this episode.
And when I do that, you know, first do the one task, like the nondistracted task, upload the MPEG, dumping the copy, or write the copy if I haven't, but then go kind of curate the responses. Like, yes, people want a response yesterday, but trust me, they don't care. They don't care about you. And this could be why my podcast isn't growing, but it's like, I would rather look in where you can hire out, like on the P and G one, we have a social media manager. So I feed him the content and the intent. And we work with our guests to make sure they promote the stuff. Same thing on model money or it's quarantine comics. Like it's the secret underground comic book podcasts that we're not promoting. Cause Ryan are doing that one for ourselves. But, but the model minority is one like this John Lewis thing, I literally dropped three hours to get the John Lewis episode. And the gentleman was audio gram done at the expense of other stuff, but it was focused time. It do, I think it'll make an impact. Do I think you've been thinking there's some risks to be blunt. Yes. But it felt important enough to do, but everything else is like, delete it. I'm not deleting my accounts. I'm just deleting the time and the distraction elements, the push alerts, the apps on my phone, et cetera.
Goli: Yeah. I've definitely need to do that. I mean, I've eliminated the notifications, but the addiction is real. And I think it's buying into this narrative that, that is kind of like the FOMO, you know, in the fear of missing out. And I think you're right. It's like this sort of idea that we're more important than we are and people are waiting for your response.
And like, I've read enough books in tech to know like these tools are built to like give you literal neurotransmitter addictive things. And I mean, different like stunts psychology studies in Germany that show like depression is linked to overuse of these things.
Raman: No, I know that's a thing it's like exactly. It's like, you know, the negative events. And I think for me, and I think so many people that may be listening that are thinking of like, I go back and forth with this because a lot of the pushback I get from people when I tell them like, okay, just start that, like, let's say you want to sell, I don't know, jewelry, start that at T shop, you know, start that Instagram account. Okay. You want to start a podcast, start it. Like it's not stop making it as big of a deal. And the it's again, just the self limiting beliefs of, Oh, I don't wanna be tied to social media. I don't want to get involved with, or I don't like being in front of the camera and all that stuff. And so it's like, how do you balance these things that really are marketing tools that you need?
And you kind of have to be, you know, it's like, if you have a podcast, people are going to come search for you on Instagram and you're gonna kind of need something like a, maybe a face. You don't need it, but I'm just saying like, it might help when you're a new podcast or, but then not getting swallowed up by that beast and making it like you were saying kind of work for you where you have a specific hours. You're like, okay, I'm just going to upload it and respond during this hour and really sticking to that. And I think that's, that's the fine line. I'm trying to walk right now,
But I haven't figured it out. So please let me know when you have, but I definitely will.
Goli: So helpful. If do you have any parting advice for somebody who was where you were at Dannon? Right? Like climb. The corporate ladder had been there, had established a name for themselves, but were feeling burned out and didn't know what the quote-unquote right next step is. But they just knew that that wasn't it.
Raman: Two things. One operationally find a way to clear the agenda, clear the space, get yourself the head space to think operationally, it can be done people with less time. I've done it. The second one is more emotional, you know, close your eyes. Think of yourself in 10 or 20 years. If you have a family, do you want a family? Do you want to have been to XYZ countries or whatever? Literally find something audacious in the future, right? That you want. And once you've established that work way backwards from it, what are the experiments? What are the things you need to try? And then just set. Give me a little goals. It's just like, like by the end of three months, I wanna have done this by the end of this year, I want to have gone to Nicaragua or whatever it is. Right. I want to have interviewed 40 people. I want to have found my podcast. Cohost. It's not going to land on your doorstep. You've got to put the hours in and it comes back to the first thing you got to free up the bandwidth and the runway to do it into your point. Goalie. It's, what's the plan to get there. Cause it's not, no one's going to drop a bunch of money in your lap. No, one's going to dump a bunch of time in your lap. You have to make those things.
Goli: Absolutely. That is wonderful advice. We will leave it on that. And so I know we just talked about limiting social media, but if people want to follow along with what you are doing, where is the best place for them?
Raman: I actually don't know the answer to that. Right? Look, I'm on, I'm on LinkedIn. I seem goalie will spell my name correctly, but you know, go look up the podcast on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher. Yeah. You can look them up on social. You won't be that impressed. The audio grams look nice, but P and G alumni podcast model minorities or quarantine comics, just check them out, give them a listen and let us know what you think.
Goli: Definitely. I will link to all of those in the show notes. So you guys can find all those. You should listen. They're incredible. And you, especially, I think the model minorities right now is just such an important new narrative to introduce into your life, to listen to other people's experiences. So make sure you check it out from, and thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me.
Raman: I loved this conversation is a lot of fun. Thanks for having me.
Goli: I love that conversation with ramen. Here are my three takeaways. No one has it figured out. I say this all the time and I really want to hammer it home because it is easy to look at other people and think that even when they love what they're doing or seem successful, they're constantly filled with questions and fears and doubts and wondering of where it's going and if they're doing it right, it's just a natural part of the human brain.
So don't think that it's just you who hasn't figured it out to give yourself space, to think in this ever-connected world, we are even more distracted than before. And it's really difficult to be able to look at the kind of the grand picture of your life and the vision for your life. When you're constantly just go, go going. And I think so many of us get to the end of a year and think like what happened to this year, right? It requires giving yourself space to take a step back and look at where you're going and where you want to go and make decisions from a place of not exhaustion, but actual clarity and three find the thing that you just can't imagine the world without and do that. I loved this part of the conversation and talking to ramen even afterward and looking at the thing is that he's kind of pursuing because so many of us put ourselves in a box and we decide that like we've done this thing.
So it has to be focused in this area and speaking to him and seeing all the various areas that he has an interest in and the fact that he's letting himself explore those areas. And within those, he's finding things that he just gets so jazzed about that he cannot imagine the world without. And then he started focusing even more on that. Like that's the only way in this process. I know so many times we want to think our way through it and find that thing before we actually start. But it takes doing to see like, Oh, well, this wasn't as exciting as I thought, or I really can't stop thinking about this. I wake up every morning thinking about it. So I know that this is the direction I need to go. And that's the only way to get this type of clarity. It's not a quick fix.
It's not a quick answer, but if you want that life of fulfillment and purpose and passion and all these big words that people talk about, there is no shortcut. So I hope you enjoyed this episode. If you did make sure to check out Ramin and his podcast, reach out to him and let him know. And I will see you guys on the next episode. Thank you so much for listening. I can't tell you how much it means to me. If you liked the podcast, please rate and review us on iTunes. It'll help other people find the show. If you want to connect or reach out, follow along on Instagram and Facebook at lessons from a quitter and on Twitter at Twitter podcast, I would love to hear from you guys and I'll see you on the next episode.