Erik Huberman Founder, CEO, Marketer, and Speaker

Interview on the Jason Hennessey Podcast 01-05-2022 - Episode 12
Erik Huberman

Founder Erik Huberman explains the Hawke Method to reach success

Today’s guest has been hustling and brainstorming creative avenues to make money and live a fulfilling life since before he can remember. Erik Huberman is a self-made e-commerce guru, author, advisor, and consultant who has revolutionized the marketing ecosystem as we know it.

Erik and his team at Hawke Media are the recipients of numerous awards that include being listed on Inc.‘s “5000 Fastest Growing Companies” of 2020 and Fortune‘s “50 Best Workplaces in California.”
Personal awards and recognitions for Mr. Huberman include Forbes‘ “30 Under 30,” and Best in Biz‘s “Marketing Executive of the Year.”
Join us as we talk about how he grew his company from the ground up with zero outside funding, to ultimately managing media marketing for over 600 brands, ranging from Red Bull to Eddie Bauer.
On top of running his business, Erik is a contributor to Forbes and Entrepreneur magazines, produces and hosts a podcast, and will publish a book very soon.
We also learn more about Erik’s life and dive into his interests outside the office, as we get to talking about his many exotic vacations and adventures with his wife, and his overall philosophy of life.
We wrap the show with our signature “Hennessey Heart-to-Heart” segment to get a peek into Erik’s deeper thoughts about himself and the people he cares about.
Thank you for listening, and we hope you enjoy this motivating episode!

In this Episode

[00:53] Jason informs us that he’s met Erik Huberman once before, naming another way they know each other as the Young Presidents’ Organization.
[01:28] Jason would like to know who Erik Huberman is and what he does. Erik gives us his zodiac sign, and shares some background about the businesses he’s helped to start and grow.

[03:15] Jason invites Erik to reflect on how he discovered he was an entrepreneur. Erik recalls visiting different businesses as a kid, and his very first business venture.
[06:02] Jason tells Erik that he’s one of his favorite people to follow on social media, since he’s always doing a lot of bucket-list type activities.
[07:23] Jason is interested in knowing how Erik got started doing marketing and running agencies. Erik recounts his early ventures in music and clothing, which eventually led him to discover his knack for getting to know how people tick.
[10:06] Jason asks Erik if he has a ‘vivid vision’ of how he wants his businesses to grow.
[10:58] Jason and Erik discuss the importance of having a good work-life balance and having systems in place to take time off, especially as an executive of a company.
[14:53] Erik gives us reasons why it’s hard making any kind of profit in business, whether it’s your first $10 million or your next $20 million.
[17:10] Jason recommends getting a coach to help Erik manage the challenges that come with running a business. Erik reveals how coaching has helped him be more open to criticism.
[19:20] Erik and Jason share their beliefs about what qualifies a person for a certain job, and how a college education might not be as important today.

[21:01] Jason asks Erik what it is that makes him get up every morning and be excited to be the CEO of Hawke Media. Erik mentions the “sandbox” concept that allows him to create and shape his business.
[24:36] Jason is reminded of a friend’s mantra about becoming everything you were meant to be, and asks Erik if he feels he’s lived a fulfilling life.
[27:10] Jason asks Erik to reflect on how a 10-year-old Erik would look at himself today. Erik never imagined being a social media “influencer.”
[31:03] Jason and Erik play a game of “Never Have I Ever” to get to know each other on a personal level. They’re questioned about everything from sending eggplant emojis to forgetting wedding anniversaries.
[42:57] Jason recommends Erik’s new book, The Hawke Method, and to listen to his podcast called HawkeTalk. Erik gives us some details on what each is about.
[48:32] Jason and Erik start to wrap up the show with a segment we call “Hennessey Heart-to-Heart.” Erik opens up about the things that cheer him up, some of his nicknames, and how he thinks his mom would describe him.
[57:39] Jason and Erik exchange thank yous and farewells to close out the show.

Transcript

Jason Hennessey: Erik, thank you for coming down to Hennessey Studios, man.

Erik Huberman: Yeah. Thank you for having me. This is cool.

I’ve only met you once, right? We had lunch that one time.

Is that the only time we’ve hung out?

That’s the only time I think we’ve ever met.

Social media just makes you feel like you hung out a bunch.
Exactly.

Yeah.

But we’ve got a lot of commonalities, agency life, same people that we know in the industry, YPO. I’m in Pasadena.

Are you?

Yeah.

Got it. Awesome.

And you’re in the Santa Monica Chapter?

Yeah.

For those that are listening, “YPO” stands for “Young Presidents’ Organization.” And it’s an amazing, life-changing kind of a group. So, for those that don’t know you, tell me a little bit more about who you are and what you do.

Who I am and what I do. I’m a Scorpio. I just had a birthday. [laughing] Background is e-commerce. I built and sold a couple e-commerce companies 10 and 12 years ago, or actually no, sorry, 8 and 10 years ago, but started them, starting about 12 years ago. And about eight years ago started advising and consulting for a bunch of brands on how to do the same: build, grow, drive revenue growth using marketing, and a lot of what I had pulled from my own experiences, and just found that the marketing ecosystem sucks. That as a founder, as a head of marketing, et cetera, it is really hard to find good talent or good agencies. It’s 99% of agencies out there have no idea what they’re doing when it comes to marketing and actually growing a business. And the few that are good, I found tend to get really expensive, want long contracts at minimum, something that makes them hard to work with and just got sick of it.

 

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So hired a little SWAT team of my own, each with their own expertise, so like a Facebook marketer, email marketer, web designer, fractional CMO, et cetera, and went back to these companies and just said, “Hey, it’s all a la carte, month-to-month cheaper than hiring in-house. But the idea is you can spin up exactly what you need when you need it, having it flow and change as you need to, and get, really, access to great marketing.” And so, that’s how we started and now we’re about 270 full-time people, growing fast, and at this point we have a venture fund that we invest in marketing technology. We’re actually raising our second fund now. That’s gone incredibly well. We have a financing arm where we do equity- or debt financing for our clients as they grow fast, a lot of times working capital becomes a problem, so now we help with that. And then we manage marketing for over 600 brands.

You need to pick up your game a little bit.

I know, I feel lazy but I get tired sometimes, I’m getting older.

It’s insane. So let’s dissect that a little bit.

Let’s do it.

There’s a lot there. How did you know you were an entrepreneur? Like, go back.

Sure. I took it for granted for two reasons. One, dad and grandfather were entrepreneurs. So I just grew up knowing that that’s an option. It wasn’t that I had this dream of being a business owner. I feel like the sex appeal of entrepreneurship started around, it was like 2010, 2011, whenever The Social Network movie came out. All of a sudden, being a founder was this in vogue thing that, it used to be actors and movie producers, and now it was being a startup founder. I just thought that that was one option. And that’s what you could… If you were going to, you could get a job or you could do your own thing, it was all options. And because my dad and grandfather both were entrepreneurs, I think from a very young age, I just assumed that at some point I probably would run my own thing, too.

Because my dad and grandfather both were entrepreneurs, I think from a very young age, I just assumed that at some point I probably would run my own thing, too.

And then I also, my friend’s dad, when we were in eighth grade, every Wednesday, we took a half day to go explore a different business around my hometown of Ojai, small town, north of LA. And so, doing that, I met the owner of the bank and the owner of the local health food store and the owner of the, actually Lynda.com, which ended up being on multi-billion. It started above the Radioshack in Ojai. I went there when there were 12 people working and actually met Lynda. And it is, again, when I was in eighth grade. That was a very pivotal moment for me because it started to highlight, I probably will work for other people to learn so that I can go start my own thing like these people did. And it resonated with me. And I was always sort of hustling from a young age to find ways to make money and that kind of thing too.

When I was a kid, I would go, I don’t know, maybe 13 years old, and I would walk into, like, a pizza shop, and while everybody’s like sitting there, all my friends are getting pizza and whatever drinks and stuff, I’m sitting there thinking, “Man, wow, this is such a cool location because it’s right by a school.” You got all these kids coming in. There’s, I don’t know, like 20 kids standing in line right now. They’re all spending six… I’m doing the math. It was kind of weird as a kid, when hindsight thinking back like that.

Yeah. I was also lucky enough, I was the oldest and my dad did very well and was always scared that I would be the spoiled rich kid because he made it as I grew up. So he went the opposite. So at eight years old I told him I wanted to get an electric guitar. And he is like, “Yeah, good. Get a fucking job.” Was his response. So I-

As he should.

Yep. And so, I started buying and selling Beanie Babies, because that was a time when they had hyped up. And I made I think it was about $4,000 as an 8-year-old selling Beanie Babies. Bought the guitar, bought a BMX, saved money for a car. That was the first little taste of success in business I had, but I still was, tunnel vision on I was going to be a rockstar when I grew up, I was going to be a guitarist. And then I was about 12 years old I realized I’m not that good at guitar. I love it, I still play, but I wasn’t good enough to be a professional. And so, moved on and that’s also when I came to terms with the idea of having a great hobby is okay too.

Sure. You’re like one of the people that I love following on social media, because you’re accomplishing most of your bucket list items, it looks like.

Yeah. 2017, thankfully business was doing well. And my wife and I, girlfriend at the time, I was like, “We should just go do all the shit we would put on our bucket list.” Was like, “Why not?” We did the Monaco Grand Prix. And I went heli-boarding and went to Tokyo, and then that just kind of catapulted and we should just keep doing this, and if we hear something cool… We did our honeymoon on safari two years ago. And on it, a bunch of people told us, “You got to go try hiking with the gorillas.” And she’s like, “Yeah, that sounds like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” I was like, “Yeah, we could do that next year too. That could be the-” And we signed up, then COVID, so we postponed it. But we ended up doing it a few months ago.

Makes great photos on social and videos, it’s awesome.

I’m all about experiences and memories.

That’s what life is about, right?

Yep.

But it’s interesting. So you don’t have kids yet?

No.

So you can still-

Everybody that has kids knows that.

But what happens once you have kids, because we got three of them, is all the stuff that was on your bucket list gets erased and your kid’s bucket list starts to get moved over to your bucket list.

Yeah, and we’re not far off from that period in life, not pregnant yet, but could at any day. And so, now we’re moving even faster on some of this stuff and signing up for every random thing that we’re like, “Yeah. Let’s just go do that because who knows, this might be the last time we actually want to go do that.”

Yeah. So this agency it’s… So when I started my SEO agency, and I know you don’t like too many SEOs, but hopefully I’m one of the- [laughs]

It’s not that at all.

Listen, there’s a reason why most people don’t, is because there’s a lot of-

It’s the snake oil.

It is snake oil. There’s a lot of that.

But again, search engine optimization is a thing. If you’re doing the right things, it’s super valuable.

So what’s your path to understanding that, “Hey, maybe I should get into the agency world”?

So I went into real estate out of college one week exactly before Wayman brothers collapsed, made $350 that year, which is not enough to live in LA just for people that don’t live here. $350 is not a good annual salary. So six months in, out of necessity, I just started scrambling and figure out what else I was going to do to make a living, and I ended up launching an online music company,, and then I had a t-shirt subscription company, and then a women’s activewear brand. And the common thread between all of them was fulfillment, operations, supply chain, all that. Don’t worry, right now it’s a pain in the ass, but in general, it’s not that hard to figure out how to solve those problems. I can get a t-shirt, I can manufacture activewear, I can figure out how to deliver business coaching to musicians.

When there’s a logical outcome, I had a pretty easy time with it. The hard part is getting customers because it’s a constant moving target. It’s difficult and it’s competitive and it changes all the time and it’s something. So just out of nature since I was the founder, I went for the hardest part of the job, because I could go hire someone to ship t-shirts, I could go hire someone to… I could hire business coaches. When I tried to hire someone to do the marketing, it was always, they cost a lot of money and they didn’t execute like I would. And so, I just found that I had a natural talent for sales, which led itself to marketing. I just understood how people ticked. And so, I just started focusing on it.

I just understood how people ticked. And so, I just started focusing on it.

So after three companies later, and two of them having exits, I’d built a lot more chops than most people in LA around digital marketing and e-com. And so, then it just catapulted from there because then I was one of the only people in LA that had built and sold two subscription e-commerce companies that was now independent and trying to figure out what I wanted to do. So all these other companies that wanted to get into it could hire me. And so, then I built a team around myself and then immediately worked.

And then we had credibility around, not only was it me and my success or before that, but now we had actually been as an agency, had success and built some companies and did really well and started early with some really good brands. And so, from there it just catapulted. And I went from, “I’m going to build a little SWAT team,” to, “Oh, this works, we should start extrapolating this.” Never planned on building what I’ve built now. I’d say my vision now for the long-term future is a lot clearer than it was when I started. I didn’t have one, I was just doing what was right in front of me.

I’m the same. We’ve built the agency now, we’ve been working on… This is my second, so I already built and sold the first agency. I started the second one and I never had the vivid vision, like Cameron Herold. I never had that. And so, just this year we created our vivid vision. It’s a 3-year vivid vision and it makes so much sense to know: where are we going? Get everybody to buy into it. So you have a vivid vision?

Not in the sense of the Cameron Herold sense, but in general, yes. I have a very clear vision that I articulate regularly to our team of where we’re going in the next three years, five years. And then right now it’s really more articulated over five years, but I also have articulated, and what it could look like after that.

Interesting.

And what’s interesting is since I put it into place, we’re now moving faster than we’ve ever moved on that vision, which the 5-year vision might actually get accomplished in 3 or 4.

So now when you were building the business, I’d imagine you’re probably going on vacation, you’re out on the beach, but then you got that call at two o’clock, you got to go and run upstairs and… When you’re building a business, takes away sometimes the quality of life. And so, did you go through those turmoils, or?

Yeah. And this is a really big part of what makes me tick, because I never thought of myself as a victim in it. Meaning, when I thought about the quote-unquote “sacrifices,” it was a choice. If I didn’t want to do it, if I didn’t like the end result better, then I would’ve just gotten a job. And I knew I had that opportunity, I knew I could do that, but I hate working for someone else versus being an entrepreneur. And so, yeah, and I guess I also love what I do. So having to take a moment away from sitting on the beach and go like… One thing I didn’t do, like I hear people that are like, “I haven’t taken a vacation in four years.” That doesn’t impress me.

I hear people that are like, “I haven’t taken a vacation in four years.” That doesn’t impress me.

No, totally doesn’t.

That means you have no scalability, you have no ability to run an operation to build processes. If you were that critical of your business, you built a shitty business.

Exactly.

So, we got offered to sell the company at year-end, and my partner and I turned it down, but really had a conversation about, “Okay, like we’re turning this down, but that means we might be stuck with it. So we should make this more of a marathon than a sprint. What does this look like? What would you do if we sold that would be the highlight?” What was mine, and at the time it was, he wanted to play golf every other Wednesday morning, and I wanted to go on two really cool vacations a year. And that was 2015 when we had that conversation. We started. I started traveling, he played a lot of golf.

Now three kids later, his priorities are a little different, mine are not, but it was just figuring out what makes it sustainable. And then that sort of sacrifice, it wasn’t a sacrifice, it was just a different type of harmony. It was a different existence, not a worse existence, where it’s like, “Yeah, I can take off and do whatever I want.” And kind of, as you mentioned earlier, live my bucket list. It might mean that I have to answer an email on the beach in Mexico, but God forbid.

it wasn’t a sacrifice, it was just a different type of harmony.

For me, my pivotal moment was I think it was 2018. At the time my margins are like 60%. I don’t have a lot of staff, don’t have a… And at the end of the year, I made a lot of profit. But I was that guy that was on the beach having to go upstairs. And my wife was like, “Come on, really? Another call?” So I’m like, “Holy crap. Why am I doing this to myself?” And so, that year is when I started to invest in- I brought a president, a COO, I brought in a CFO. And then from there it’s just like building out the team. They basically gave me back my time to be doing cool things like this. There’s no way I’d be able to do this three years ago. Give me the freedom. And now the agency is just growing without me. So what was your “aha moment” in business like that?

Thankfully, I came in with that mindset. So my business partner was my original strategist that I knew. He ran the music company that I’d started. I left after two years, he ran it for three. And he basically from the beginning, just intuitively said, “You go do what you’re good at.” Which was like waving the flag, beating the drum, meeting people, getting the name out there, but sales for a long time. And he was like, “You go make promises, I’ll deliver on them. We’ll balance that.”

So I had that from the start and so did he, because he didn’t have to go be on the road all the time. I mean, I was at a different event every night for years. Pre-COVID I was traveling every other week. I was on 68 flights in 2019, maybe more than that. I think it was 68 flights on Delta plus 5, 10 more on some other airlines. It was a lot.

But I enjoyed that and he enjoyed his part, and so that’s a great balance. And then through that, that also got us in sort of the habit of scaling. And so, because we already had each other, then it was like, “Okay, I’m getting bogged down by this. We’re going to hire someone else. We’re going to hire someone else.” And we kept replacing ourselves over and over again to this day. That’s how we built the company.

So now would you say getting to the first $10 million in revenue, was that harder than where you are now and as far as your goals go?

I think it’s all hard.

It’s just all hard. Okay.

But I would say, no, getting the 10… I mean, listen, it had its challenges, it’s running a business, you’re grinding, so it’s hard. But I would say what I’ve seen with agencies is the $10 to $20 million range is probably the hardest part because you start to need that senior level infrastructure and the talent and the expenses. And you need HR and you need legal and you need all these things, but you don’t quite have the revenue to really support it all so you end up really tight.

We now buy a lot of agencies so we see a lot of P&Ls. And I see this 95% of the time, agencies in that $10 to $20 million range are not profiting very well and they’re grinding through it. And that’s why you see a lot of agencies at that scale end up selling because getting through that phase can be multiple years of really thin. I mean, one of the bigger agencies in LA, one of our peers that I won’t name because I’m sharing something, I know that they spent three years at $15 million in revenue and just sat there, no profit and then broke through, but that period… And that wasn’t us, thankfully we continued to grow, but our profit was not much to speak of for a little while.

See, my thought process is if at $15 million, maybe they’re just kind of investing into the infrastructure to help them get, right? You know.

You are, but it can take more time for that infrastructure to actually… Our business is people. So it’s not like you bought a new machine in your factory that now produces more efficiently. You hired a person that’s going to take months if not years to get up to speed and maybe that’s the right person. Or maybe you have to fire them and bring in a different person. And who knows what’s going on in the market at that point too. It’s a lot of moving parts. And then you break through that and you can start to go again.

And then once you get post 20, then profits start to kick up again, because a sub-10, it’s easy to profit. You’re mentioning 60% profits when you’re tiny, that’s very easy to do. I shouldn’t say very easy, but it’s doable. But in that $10 to $20 range, it’s not as doable. And then after that, you see a lot of these agencies start to catch up again and then the profit comes back again and they start… Depending on how they’re reinvesting, but you can really start. That’s where private equity starts to look at that stage too.

That’s why with our leadership and our team you start looking at profit sharing stuff. But sometimes that’s the wrong way to look at it because a high growing company doesn’t care about profit right away, you’re just trying to grow. And so, anyway, that’s kind of why I got a business coach. Like we talked about Cameron Herold, he’s helping us kind of see that. Do you have a coach or mentor?

Yeah. For the past year, I think it’s been.

How’s that working out?

Great. I mean, if anything, it holds me responsible to think a little broader. We meet every other week and it forces me to sit down and actually have more, instead of getting stuck in the day-to-day firefighting building, it’s like, “Okay, now take a step back. What are the biggest things you need to be focused on?” So, there’s that step back every other week. And now we hired a new COO that I have joining me on it, that it’s gotten him and I, it’s an hour and a half every other week that we spend with a coach talking through the bigger things and the issues we’re having. And he’s great. I mean, I was having trouble with an executive and I brought it to him, and he, basically, with a lot more words was like, “It sounds like you’re the wrong one here.”

Sometimes you need to hear that.

You need someone that’s going to actually give it to you straight.

Yes. If that’s the case, you always need to hear that. And he was right. I took a step back and then had another conversation with the exec and got back on track. I need someone who’s going to bounce that. And generally, if you’re the CEO, your executives aren’t going to do that. You need someone that’s going to actually give it to you straight.

Yeah. You have to be humble, hungry, and open to criticism as a CEO, and welcome it from your subordinates.

Yeah. But I got to say, even if you encourage it, welcome it. Even if you’re like the best at receiving it, there’s still just, people are brought up to fear authority. Most people are raised in our education system, calling our teachers Mr. and Mrs., they teach you to respect authority, not challenge it. And I had a different upbringing. I went to a hippie school and all this stuff. So I was taught the opposite, to the detriment of my teachers, because I was like the most outspoken problem child in school. But it also taught me, I don’t care who you are. I can respect someone, it doesn’t mean I have to fear someone or not speak up for myself either. And so, try to encourage that with my team. But I’ve noticed it’s very hard to ask.

I don’t care who you are. I can respect someone, it doesn’t mean I have to fear someone or not speak up for myself either.

So I was on a call recently actually with our coach and we’re talking about we’re looking to hire certain people for different positions and I think somebody came through and they came all the way up and they’re like, “Yeah, we want to offer you a position.” And they’re like, “Oh, I didn’t think you were going to hire me because I didn’t have a college degree.” So then Cameron was like, “Well, is it important that people have a college degree? Is it on your job description?” And we’re like, “Yeah, it is on our job description.” He’s like, “Will you hire somebody that’s awesome that doesn’t have a college degree?” And we both looked at each other, “Yeah!” It’s like, “Well, then take it off the job description.” So what’s your thoughts about that?

I think college is a great indicator that someone can commit to something for four years and complete it. But it’s not the only way to show that.

That’s specific. I think you nailed it. I went to college. I had a lot of fun. I can’t say that I learned that much. I don’t know. I think college is a great indicator that someone can commit to something for four years and complete it. But it’s not the only way to show that. Especially if you’re talking about someone later in their career where they’ve had jobs for several years. The only thing I would maybe… If they have the experience and they show that they’ve been able to see things through, I wouldn’t worry about that. Because for a younger person, that’s what I think the one benefit in terms of being on a resume it shows is like, so you committed to something for four years. You saw it through, you finished, you did well, depending on their grades and stuff. You committed to it. That’s all it tells me. I’m sorry, I wish the education system was better, but when someone has a digital marketing degree or a marketing degree when they come in, that doesn’t mean anything to me.

Agreed. Yeah.

My marketing classes sucked, but.

No, granted. I mean, if I’m a law firm, if I’m a hospital and I need a doc, right? That’s a whole different circumstance.

Engineers, medical, science medicine, it’s different.

Totally different. So what excites you? Why do you get up every morning? What excites you about being the CEO of Hawke Media?

There’s a few things. With life in general and you commented on with the hobby thing too, I’m not a very religious person, very agnostic. And I know this sounds like a weird tangent, but it’s going to come back. So I have no idea what happens after we’re here, after we die, et cetera. So with that, and I mean I’m not atheist, I think that’s as ridiculous as being hyper religious in terms of how atheists talk about hyper religious, they’re ignorant. I’m like, “So are you. How can you make that call?” So I’m very by definition agnostic. And why I say that is, I don’t know what happens after this. So I feel like I better take full advantage of everything that life has to offer personally, professionally, family. I want to experience everything because I don’t know whether we die and that’s it. I don’t know if we die and we have an afterlife. But because I don’t know, I’m going to hedge against that and just do everything I can here.

I don’t know what happens after this. So I feel like I better take full advantage of everything that life has to offer

And so, what that means is I want to experience everything that sounds fun to me, and that includes professional. I love the idea of building something, leaving a legacy, and so what drives me in businesses, we call it the “sandbox.” But because we built this thing that has a great mission in something that can really help tons of people, which is really fulfilling too. And that is a big part. It also allows me to try new things all the time. Like we’ve bought six agencies and we’re hopefully going to close one or two more by the end of the year. We’re now trying to buy a piece of software. We’ve never done that before. I’m going to try it out. We just expanded into Canada. We’re now expanding overseas. We’re working on expanding into Asia and Europe at the same time.

These are all things I have no idea what I’m doing, but that’s what drives me, is like, “Let’s try it. I don’t know. Let’s figure it out.” Not to get too philosophical, but this whole framework of how we’ve built capitalism, and the world runs, it’s all construct, that’s kind of bullshit. What, does the opposite? What takes the energy out of me, is when I’m dealing with the same over and over again. Which again goes back to delegating and hiring and building and building infrastructure and process. So I’m happy to solve challenges and problems, that’s par for the course of running a business. But if I’m solving the same fucking problem that we’ve already developed processes to, it drives me nuts. But it’s being proactive about that and getting it done.

That’s the secret to business, really. You’re going to make a lot of mistakes.

Oh, hundred percent. It’s never going to end. And that again was one of the biggest realizations I had in business, which made it more fun was, if you’re running a business, it is going to be a shit-show, permanently. It doesn’t end, there’s no finish line. Look at Jeff Bezos, look at Mark Zuckerberg, look at the biggest CEOs and founders and whatever in the world are always going to be dealing with crap. Look at Mark right now, he’s having to deal with Congress and trade wars and all these different things. Apple, Tim Cook, same thing. It’s not like their problems went away because they got rich. It just doesn’t ever happen.

If you’re running a business, it is going to be a shit-show, permanently.

They just sometimes become bigger problems that you have to solve.

And so, once you stop acting like it’s happening to you and you go, “No, I chose to do this. That’s part of it. I signed up for this.” Then it’s not as big, it’s not a problem. It’s just a challenge and part of the job. And once you get through that, it becomes fun.

Sometimes it’s interesting when, so like, one of the things that we started to do is becoming vulnerable with the mistakes that we make and actually creating blog posts about it. Like being horrible, like, “Hey listen, we’re all human.” One of our people, they forgot a digit on a phone number and it went live on the website. And so, the client called us up and was like, “What the heck? I’ve been losing calls for the past three days.” We’re like, “Oh my God, I’m so sorry.” So then what we did was we built a script that goes out to every single client’s website every single day and checks to make sure that it validates.

And that’s the key is mistakes will happen, it’s figuring out a solution that it just doesn’t happen again.

Yeah. I want to go back a second. What you just talked about was so powerful, building that fulfilling life. And there’s a friend of mine that has this mantra. He’s like at the end of our journey, however spiritual you are, he gets the impression that you’re going to shake the hand of the person that you could have been. And how aligned are you with where you left the world with that person? Are you that person?

And for me personally, I think yes. I always like the give back side of things too. And to make the world a better place has always been part of, and I’ve always been passionate about better education. We talked a little bit about it in terms of my lack of enthusiasm around the current state of affairs. But I realized earlier that I also had a knack for business and I could probably, we’d be the one, as I used to put it, could fill the cup instead of shake it. And so, building a business that allows me to support these things, we’re building our own nonprofit around education. So that part I get to fulfill.

Again, I’ve been offered many times to sell the company for more than I’d ever need to live off of, or my grandkids would be fine. But the question is, consistently been, then what? Cool, I have a pile of money, which sounds ridiculous and I get it, but you get to a point it’s a pretty low bar before you’re making enough money to pay your bills and cover the lifestyle you want to live, unless you’re ridiculous. And then frankly, anything above that becomes a bigger house, a bigger yacht or a bigger jet. And I’ve watched this over and over again. So, like other than that, the lump sum of money doesn’t really change. So I realize if you’re passionate about what you’re doing, and you love it, and you’re able to do all the things you want to do… why would you change that?

If you’re passionate about what you’re doing, and you love it, and you’re able to do all the things you want to do… why would you change that?

I have this fun balance in my life where one of my childhood best friends dropped out of high school, worked at a skateboard company for a little while, for lack of a better word, then taught English in Philippines then ended up in Thailand. Our friend ended up helping her buy a bed and breakfast on the beach in Thailand. It’s like a tree house, it’s five bucks a night to stay at. And now she’s got two half Thai kids. She’s lived there for, I don’t know, a decade plus now. And she just chills on the beach in Thailand all day. And does a little like marketing work with the local community in Ko Lanta, Thailand and has her bed and breakfast.

And that’s a whole ‘nother path that totally appeals to me. There’s this fork that I could always lean over. I’ve joked with my wife several times, “We should just go and open a taco shop in Mexico.” I want to do that too. And maybe at some point that actually becomes the priority. But for now I like the actual job and the platform it creates for me to do everything I want to do has been big.

Interesting. So looking back, if you met your 10-year-old self now, what would he say about you? What you’re doing, who you are?

That’s what’s funny, as I realized, I’ve been very fluid in my career versus very planned. When I was 10, I thought I wanted to be a musician. I’m a guitarist, but I also admired my dad as a businessman and I liked business too. And so, I think it would’ve been like, “Oh, that’s interesting, cool.” I have a fun job and I have a fun lifestyle that I think my 10-year-old self would be like, “All right, that’s cool.” I didn’t become something that no 10-year-old ever dreams of. I think running a company that gets to grow companies and brands and work with all these other product companies and things like that.

Not in the vocabulary of a 10-year-old. Yeah.

It’s not. But I also think if you explained to a 10-year-old, they’re like, “Oh, that’s cool.” I have an 11-year-old sister, actually, that apparently her and her friends talk about our company.

Oh, really?

Marketing’s become an in-vogue thing apparently, and it sounds kind of cool.

Yeah. So marketing’s become an in-vogue thing apparently, and it sounds kind of cool. You even see movies as a kid about advertising firms. There’s always a ton of, sort of, rom coms and stuff with ad firms. I just remember as a young kid, never thinking like, “That’s weird. Why would you ever want to do that?” It’s like, “Oh, that’s kind of fun. You have to come up with some slogan or something.” I will say, though, in college I made fun of marketing majors. So it’s like, “What do marketers do? Like you drop pretty pictures, the hell are you studying?” Then I had no room to talk, I was a management major, which literally meant nothing as well. But I never thought I’d be in marketing early on.

Well, nowadays, I mean like these 10-year-olds are kind of like, they see the opportunity of becoming TikTok famous and Instagram famous, and reviewing toys, and becoming influencers.

Well, we partnered two of the biggest TikTok stars to create a Gen-Z agency because they’re two of the best content creators for Gen Z. So we created a creative agency around Gen Z and now I am the admiration of all of my friends’ kids and my cousins’ kids. And all the 10- and, to 15-year-olds around my life are like, “How do you know these guys?”

Where do you think your life would be if we had social media back when you were 10, 12 years old? Do you think you would’ve been an influencer back in those days?

No, I’m still not, honestly. I know I do a lot speaking and I’m a quote-unquote “influencer” in my space, but I’m not an influencer by the standard definitions. I don’t have that big of a social following. No, I was a late adopter for a while of this stuff because… And that’s actually what I think what benefited me in marketing is, so many people chase the shiny object, like now it’s NFTs. Don’t get me wrong. NFTs might be great, some people are going to make money in it. I don’t know that there’s a huge audience and it’s got compelling for major brands yet. It’s something else to capture. Sure, go for it. But I think the sort of shiny object syndrome that people get in marketing is a very bad thing.

And instead, I was a guy that I finally got on MySpace, I think after everyone in my school was on it, it’s like, “All right, fine. I’ll get one.” I never used it. And then I got Facebook pretty early because you’re single and freshman in college, and every girl’s telling you to find them on Facebook. And you’re like, “All right, fine.” TikTok I got, because I was stuck in Seoul, Korea airport for six hours and it was middle of the day for me, but middle of the night here. And so, I had nothing to do and I was like, “Oh, I’ll check this thing out.” But it’s never been like, I got to be ahead of everyone. And so, even social media was out when I was in high school, we had MySpace and my friends were all on it and I was on it sometimes, but not really that into it.

So for me it was a little different. We didn’t even have the internet at all growing up. If I wanted to go meet a girl, I’d have to get my mom to drop me off at the mall, right?

I mean, we had to do that too. We had an AOL Instant Messenger though. That was big.

It was so bad that when I needed a ride home and I didn’t have money, I would use the payphone and call my mom collect. And be like, “Please leave your name.” “Mom, I’m at McDonald’s.” Boom.

It’s one of my favorite commercials. “We-had-a-baby, It’s-a-boy.”

So awesome. All right. So now I know the business side of Erik. Now I’m going to get to know the personal side of Erik and we’re going to play a game here.

A game?

Some cards right there in front of you.

“Never Have I Ever,” all right. Could be really inappropriate.

No, we picked out ones that are not. Super simple. It’s not really a game. It’s just to get to know you a little bit more. You’ll flip over a card, talk about it. And then I’ll do the same.

“Sent an eggplant emoji.” I mean, I’ve been with my wife since the eggplant emoji was a thing. So I might have, but probably not in the-

That context.

Not in that context, maybe as a joke, but not really.

Yeah. You haven’t been living the single life for a while. So I’m sure there’s many eggplants-

Almost eight years.

… Being sent from single people. “Gone through an entire vacation without luggage showing up.” No, I don’t think my luggage has ever gotten lost.

Really?

I don’t think so ever, but one time I was going to be real late, and you know how you only have that hour and they’re like, “Oh, we can’t check it.” I might put my luggage back in the car and then I got it on the plane because I couldn’t miss the flight. And I’m like, “I’ll figure it out when I get there.” And it was like a week-long stay in Pittsburgh.

Nice. I had a great, real quick experience with that. I went to a 50th birthday in Napa, a really fancy one, and I packed my luggage and they lost my luggage. And then they found it but I flew in for the party. So it was like, I got there at 4, the party’s at 6. They told me they found it, I’m like “Well, it has to be here by 5 because I have to change.” And the guy tells me, Delta, love this airline, they’re like, “Listen, if we’re not there by 5, go buy a new outfit and we’ll just pay for it.” Like, “I’m sorry. But I need a suit and I’m in Napa. Which is an expensive place. I don’t know what I’m going to…” Like, “Just go buy.” And I didn’t quite trust it, I wish I did. Because I went like halfway between spending a crazy amount, but I spent a lot of money on a whole new outfit. Sent me a check a week later. Was amazing.

And that’s why you’re loyal to Delta, it sounds like.

One of the main reasons. I mean, they’re just good with their people. So, “had someone else do my work and pretended it was my own.” Oh, I’m sure. So I don’t do that with Hawke and my employees or anything. I’m really big about giving credit where credit is due. But in school I gave two shits about school. So I would say I didn’t have someone else write an essay for me, but what I did, like in high school, my two best friends that are still close today, they were avid readers and studied and all that.

I’m really big about giving credit where credit is due.

And I’d sit with them like 10 minutes before class and have them just tell me what it’s all about so I could go take the test, because I picked up things and remembered really quickly and got the gist and frankly had a good… was able to bullshit my way through school in a lot of ways. So in that way, I didn’t actually study, but I did really well because my friends would just tell me what’s up. They’d read a book and tell me the synopsis. Instead of reading spark notes, it would just be, sit with 10 minutes and like, “What’s it about? Okay. I’ll go write an essay on it.”

So I’ve got a little fib to make. So my son was really stressed out once because he had this English paper that was due. And he’s like, “Dad, can you help me?” And I’m like, “Ah, I don’t want to be sitting here. It’s like 11 o’clock at night, now you tell me, you want me to write an English paper for you?” I’m like, “I’m going to use some AI.” Because they, like, will use Copyscape or whatever tool they use to go find, but they’re not going to trace AI. And I’m like, screw it. It’s better than you failing. So I popped into subjects, I spit it out like a 1500 word essay. Bam, gave it to him, sent him along the way. But then I changed the password so he can’t ever use that again. And he got like an A, so hey, man, AI works even for school kids.

And it’s about getting the job done sometimes. School is not built necessarily for what’s best.

“Lied about my occupation.” No. So the only time I remember doing that was when I was in the Air Force, I was stationed in Vegas and we’d come down to Newport Beach or Huntington Beach with some friends, and it was just a game we played. We would meet people and tell them, “Oh, I’m an astronaut.” And you know what I mean? It was just a game.

I’d, that’s, same thing. I’ve never lied because of an actual, real intent. It was more just fun. Like, “I’m going to tell people I’m a garbage man tonight.”

Just why not go with the story?

Right, exactly. You went astronaut, I went garbage man. “Slipped some cash to the maitre d’.” Probably the bouncer at the club. I don’t know about the maitre d’. Getting a table at a restaurant has never really been that difficult. And I always felt weird. Like, “Wait, I can’t have a table, but if I give you $20 bucks, I can have a table at a restaurant. Isn’t this backwards?” So no, I didn’t. But yeah, club for sure.

“Bought a concert ticket that ended up being fake or invalid.” About a year and a half ago we took my son, one of his favorite artists was Juice WRLD who recently passed away. And so, I got him these amazing seats and it was in a bench. And so, when we got there, it was supposed to be, like, front row. And for whatever reason, the guy lied. And so, when I got the tickets, we got in, but it was the bench was way at the top of the Greek Theatre. I’m not sure if you’ve ever been there, there’s all of these seats and then there’s a bench up there. And so, when you’re looking at the tickets, it doesn’t look like that. And so, anyway, we were not going to sit at the bench. We ended up getting new tickets, but yeah.

Nice. I don’t think it’s happened.

No. Huh?

I haven’t done that much scalping. I usually just buy direct, so. All right. “‘Had to do scrambler box to steal cable?” No, it’s more outdated, I feel like.

Yeah. I had one of those.

Did you?

I totally did, man. That was like a thing in the early ’90s, late ’80s.

I did not have a TV in the early ’90s. I snuck a TV into my room when I was like 12, which would’ve been late ’90s.

“Tried to hide something from hotel housekeeping.” Oh, all the time. I’ll put like a watch in one of my shoes. It’s like the beach. You know what I mean? Nobody will look at my sneaker, right?

Exactly. My wife also really loves “Le Labo,” which I think it’s the Fairmont uses. So every time I end up staying at a Fairmont somewhere, I always grab a bag full. And funny enough, I went to a marketing conference up in Banff. On the way back, I’m hanging out with the guy that’s now the CMO of TikTok, Nick Tran, buddies, great guy. And I was chatting with him and talking about maybe doing a partnership and I get through security in Canada and they’re like, “We need to open your bag.” And I open it up and it’s this trash bag full of the little hotel bottles of “Le Labo.” And he’s standing next to me, he looks and like, “Nice, dude.” And I’m like, “My wife likes it.” He goes, “Yeah, I’m sure.”

You’re that guy.

I was that guy. “Said I’m never drinking again.” I stopped drinking when COVID hit and actually have pretty much stuck with it.

I stopped drinking when COVID hit and actually have pretty much stuck with it.

See?

Yeah. So yes, I’ve also said it in the way they’re phrasing it, which is I had a bad night and I’m never drinking again. But yeah, when COVID hit, I just wanted to be healthier and not deal with hangovers and just decided to stop doing it.

For me, the one time I said I actually stuck to it. And I’m not a big drinker, but I got really wasted off of this thing called Zima back in the day.

That’s painful.

And you put, like, a Jolly Rancher in there, give’s it this amazing peach flavor. And I ended up in a berry bush, in front of a bowling alley, and I just never did that again.

Not fun.

Yep. “Forgotten my wedding anniversary.” Never done that because my wife and I got married on April fool’s day. So it’s pretty hard to forget the wedding anniversary, when it’s a holiday.

Feel that’s a recipe for disaster sometimes though. You’re trying to balance both, you mess with her, but.

Well, that was it. I half-jokingly asked her to get married after knowing her for a month and a half and we just did it. And we were 21 and 20.

That’s amazing.

Yeah. And we’ve been married 23 years.

That’s awesome.

Yep.

“Gone on TikTok binges.” Yeah. As I mentioned, first time I got stuck in Seoul, but yeah, I’ve done many TikTok binges. They’ve done a great job.

It’s so easy to do.

They’ve done a great job with the algorithm.

Yeah. And you’re probably looking at it from a marketing perspective too, right?

I’d love to say that it’s a professional thing, but no, it’s just better-

“Cheated in golf.” Yeah. I suck in golf, so I will just be upfront. And when I play golf, they put happy faces or sad faces for every hole. So that’s kind of how I play.

Yeah, I mean, I’ve done- I wouldn’t say cheated in the sense of I’ve tried to play it off, like, I did better than I have, but same thing. I’m not good, I’ll just do it, whatever, kick the ball back into the fairway. “Put someone’s hand in warm water to make them pee.” Yes, definitely.

Everybody’s done that.

All those pranks as a kid that we had to do.

The best.

The tickle the nose with the shaving cream. There were so many good ones.

One time we did that and it didn’t work. We’re like, “Screw it.” And we just poured the water on him to make it look like he peed himself. Screw it. “Had a crazy run on the Craps table.” Absolutely. I think I was up, like $25-grand from like $2,000.

That’s amazing.

If you just start rolling, I’m the kind of guy that’s, I’m just aggressive. I’m going to lose the money quickly or I’m going to win a lot. And just keep that pressing, pressing.

Yeah. The first time I played, I won, I think it was like $1,500 bucks, which I was betting, I think $20 a bet. Kind of like I had a hundred dollars on the table and it went up to $1,500 and that got me a little hooked on Craps. It’s fun.

Totally does.

Plus the camaraderie of it. “Made a business call on the toilet.” All the time.

All the time. That’s a quote.

It’s back-to-back. You’re working for home.

“Kept the tags on a piece of clothing and returned it after wearing it.” Absolutely. So in LA, everybody does that when you get head shots. You just basically-

I just got head shots, I should’ve done that. I actually like-

See. Especially with three kids and they’re in the industry. Oh, absolutely, we do that.

Oh, good call. Last one, “Slept at the office.” Yeah. I mean, not in the sense that most people think. I hate commuting, so I’ve always kept my office close to where I lived. And they actually say the number one indicator of where an office location is where the CEO lives then I fall right into that statistic. So I’ve never had to be like, “Oh, I’m just going to sleep here because I can be here in the morning.” That never made sense. I can go 5, 10 minutes to my… It was always like 10 minutes to the office. But I’ve definitely taken naps or been up all night and been like, “I just need to do, like, a 30-minute power nap.” That kind of thing.

“Showing up at the wrong airport or flight.” I’ve done this twice. One time in New York, I’ve got the whole family and we got the rent-a-car and we end up going to LaGuardia when it was supposed to be JFK. And I’m just like, “Oh.” And then my wife is all stressed out, “We’re going to miss our flight. We’ve got kids. What are you thinking?” So I’ve done that once. And then by myself, I do that all the time. Not all the time, but it’s either Burbank or LAX. And so, one time I drove all the way to LAX thinking, “I got to catch this flight,” and I was supposed to be at Burbank. So I got there early enough where I could drive all the way to Burbank. Has that ever happened to you?

Once. And it was a fun story. We were going on spring break my sophomore year of college from Tucson to Cabo. And we got a flight that went through Phoenix. We showed up, and we showed up an hour late because we thought it was a four o’clock flight and it was a three o’clock flight. And something happened that we were late, but we looked at the time and I was like, “We have a long enough layover that we can make the Phoenix fight.” And so, we got them to make… Because you’ll usually get canceled, but we got the airline to handle that, jumped in the car and just irrationally and unsafely got our ass to Phoenix in time to catch the fight. So we caught our way over by driving.

Is that right?

Yeah. It was fun.

Talk about a journey. So, well thank you for playing. That was fun.

Yeah. That was good.

Got to know you a little bit better there. Call you and get your business advice while you’re-

Yeah, exactly.

… Doing your thing.

I always mute that when I flush, don’t worry.

“I always mute when I flush,” you said. So you’ve got a lot of things going on in addition to fast growing multiple businesses. So, you’re writing a book?

Yep.

So is this your first book?

First book and not writing, it’s done.

Nice.

So we pre-launched it. Thank you. Called The Hawke Method. It’s on Amazon, it’s on Target. It’s on Walmart. We have it on hawkemethod.com. We’re launching it March 1, but we’ve pre-launched it and the whole goal. So the book is basically, we’ve grown over 3,500 brands at this point successfully. And it’s all our marketing methodology and things that we use and our framework on how to analyze marketing, how to look at what the needs are, find the holes, and what you’re doing in marketing, and just give people, basically, a strategy to look at on like, “Am I even doing things right? How do I even look at this?” Because it’s one of the most common challenges we see with entrepreneurs, with heads of marketing, et cetera, is like, “I don’t even know where to start.”

And so, that was the idea, is like a very easy read. It’s 200 pages, but an easy read 200 pages around just the overall marketing strategies we use. And the goal is to get 20,000 books sold before we go live on March 1, because that locks us in, hopefully for a New York Times BestSeller. So-

Is that right?

Yeah.

Wow.

We’re working hard on that. Have a firing on all cylinders, marketing it and getting it out there.

Congratulations.

And hoping it provides a ton of value. Because again, our mission at Hawke is accessibility to great marketing, and we feel like this is another way to accomplish that mission, is now buy a $16.95 book. And you hopefully- at least gives you a start where you can get going on your marketing.

And I don’t vouch for too many books, but this is a book that I will vouch for and I will pick up and I will read for sure. Absolutely, yeah. I wrote a book myself, in COVID. I kind of just buckled down and my book was about law firm SEO, teaching law firms how to do it. Mostly because too many people get taken advantage of and I was sick about that. So I’m like, “I just want to, like write a book so that people just stop getting taken advantage of.” Not so much to hire me to do it, just don’t get taken advantage of.

And I know, as you do too, go do this on your own and if we can be valuable, great. For me, it’s like, hire me if I’m valuable. If I’m not, I don’t need to be, I’ve never been someone that wants to… That’s why we’re month-to-month.

We’re the same way.

Exactly. What I can be reliant on is this: if we’re valuable work with us, if we’re not, don’t.

Fire us.

Yeah, exactly. If my value can be summed up in a 200 page book that you can read in a day, then don’t hire me. This is hopefully just going to give you the highlights of what you can do yourself and then come to us because bandwidth is a big part of this too. If someone needs to execute this stuff too, so that’s part of it. But we wanted to get it out there for all the people that may not hire us, may hire… And honestly, part of this is we’re sending it to every client we have because now it’s like, here’s what we’re doing all day. You need to be… this will help us have a conversation with you, having to educate you as much because you already have the basis, and we can just be talking strategy and getting into the weeds.

Yeah. No, totally. We park our cars in the same garages there, for sure. So usually, you’re on the opposite side. You’re really sitting here because you also have a podcast too.

I do. HawkeTalk.

HawkeTalk.

Yep.

I was actually listening to the Gary Vaynerchuk episode on the way here.

Yeah. He’s a good dude.

You guys have a little bit in common too.

Yeah. We share a birthday.

Is that right?

Yeah.

I didn’t even know that. Okay.

Exactly 11 years apart. We’ve done a bunch of business together. I admire him a lot, to be honest, and not in this celebrity sentence, but more just, he’s a really humble, good guy that’s really bright and really jumps into trends the right way and seems to know how to capitalize on them. But has not burned people along the way, has just built a great business. And I actually sent him a note on our birthdays, just thanking him because when I first met him, I was just getting started and he had already built something solid, and he took a lot of time with me. He helped me along the way, even coming on my podcast, in some senses we’re quote-unquote “competitors.” We rarely compete, but it could be seen that way. And he knows by being on my podcast, he’s helping me a lot more than I’m helping him, but he even said it, I think on the podcast where he talks about like, “What goes around, comes around. We’ll figure it out.”

That’s awesome. For this podcast, there’s really no angle. I’m just interviewing interesting people. Last week before you were here, we interviewed a professional mermaid.

That’s fun.

Right? And now you’re here.

I wonder, are professional mermaid’s recession proof?

I think so. She’s living a pretty good life.

There you go. Nice.

Yeah, she is. So there’s really no angle. It’s just me being curious.

Yeah. Similar motivation. What it was I was just meeting tons of really interesting people that had nothing to do with me professionally. Gary Vaynerchuk is, frankly, a bad example, but like the first five were Colin O’Brady, who hiked across Antarctica, Anthony Scaramucci, who was pretty infamous at this point. Brandon Webb, who was a Navy seal sniper. He ran sniper training for the seals. It’s not all entrepreneurs building marketing campaigns. The idea is these are people that are highest achievers in their field. And I started wanting to understand, what gets you there? How do you decide you want to do that? And then how do you accomplish that?

The guy, Colin, who hiked across Antarctica, it’s 54 days towing a 350-pound sled behind him by himself, just walking in the middle of what looks like a shaken snow globe. It’s just white. And like, why? And not just why, how? It was him and a British SAS guy were the two to try to do it and he won. And he’s a scrawny kid from Oregon that went to Yale. It’s those kinds of things that, how do people become these, whether it’s a top athlete, et cetera? So I was like, this is really fascinating to me. I want to ask these people this, it was really originally just, I want to hear it, I want to talk to the person for an hour, how and I might as well record it and show it to people. And now it’s taken a little bit more of a branding approach.

That’s awesome. All right. So we’re going to end us off with something called “Hennessey Heart-to-Heart.” It’s pretty simple. I just ask you pretty simple questions and you just answer them. So what is something that cheers you up?

What is something that cheers me up? My dog.

You have one dog?

Big dog guy. I have one dog, but I’ve had dogs my whole life.

His or her name?

His name is Jefe. He’s a tiny little rescue. It’s like eight pounds. That’s why we named him Jefe, because I was like, and that’s- you’re laughing exactly how I get to laugh every day. It’s a little like, he is the boss and he’s a very funny little dog that my wife jokes about because she’s a very sensitive person and has that side. I’m really goofy and don’t take myself seriously. And we have a dog that’s somehow a mix of the two of us. He’s sensitive and moody sometimes, but then he’ll be really goofy and weird and it’s so fun. So I’d say that’s-

That’s what cheers you up. I could see that. Have a stressful day, Hefe’s going to greet and jump on you.

I mean, now we work from home. He’s there all day. It’s hilarious.

What is the goal of yours for the coming year?

To either build out the first phase or acquire the first phase of building out the software backbone I want to build for our company. That’s the only one.

If you can get rid of one of your bad habits, what would that be?

Ooh. I’m trying to think of what I’d want to get rid of. Because I have bad habits, but my wife let me know yesterday that I tend to talk over people, which I’m like, that is a bad habit, but I don’t know if I’m fighting to get rid of it. I think it’s the, if we go back to my coach, seek to understand first, don’t try to assume where someone’s coming from.

Like when I’m working with my executives instead of finger pointing, which I try not to do anyways, but I think I could come at it more productively in the way that I would approach challenges with my executives. And that’s why I’ve brought in a COO because I know I’m not good at that, but I think I also can work on being better at that myself too.

Good answer. What is one of your most prized personal possessions?

Prized personal… I would say, probably I think about if there was a fire in our house-

What’s the first thing you grab?

What’s the first thing I grab?

Yeah.

Obviously my wife and dog are, but I don’t want to call those possessions. So a material thing, I went to Tokyo in 2017 with my business partner for the weekend, because my wife had to be out of town for my birthday. And so, I was like, we decided to go, it was her suggestion. We’re like, “Okay, we’re going to Tokyo for the weekend.” Got really drunk at a lunch we got recommended to, it was Kaiseki and Sake pairing. We had 12 bottles of Sake between the two of us for lunch. I started demanding that the chef find me a Katana, in a fun way, he was laughing. But he hands me some Japanese characters and he goes,”Taxi.” I go to an antique shop and I ended up, long story short, buying a sword, not knowing, I was close to blackout drunk, no idea what I bought.

And then I got a certificate with it. I showed it to my Japanese friend and he goes, “You bought a sword.” I’m like, “Yeah.” And he’s like, “Yeah, it was made in the early Edo period by this swordsmith.” I’m like, “Early Edo period. Isn’t that like 1600.” He’s like, “Yeah, your sword was made in 1580. It’s a samurai sword.” So I have this real samurai sword, that I had no idea I had bought, that they then… And also there it’s kind of like guns in California. There’s a cooling off period. You buy it and you have to wait 30 days to get it. So they shipped it to me. I was worried that I’d never get it. And they ended up shipping me this antique samurai sword.

I have this real samurai sword, that I had no idea I had bought

That’s cool. Is it hanging in your house somewhere?

It’s in a safe actually.

It is. Okay, that’s right.

It’s not that expensive. I mean, not enough to have to be locked in a safe. My wife made the point of, we still are in that age where half my friends are goofy as shit and might grab it off the wall. So-

Of course, alcohol.

We’re not there yet.

What is something abnormal or daring that you’ve eaten?

Bunch from Guinea pig.

Oh really?

Cricket scorpion.

So you’re exploratory like that with food?

Yeah. I don’t enjoy any of it. It’s just so I feel like, again, it’s explore, what life has to offer. It’s hard for me to say no to things like that just because I’m like, “I got to try it.”

That’s where me and you differ. Guinea pigs on the menu, I’m going with the kids’ menu.

It’s called “cuy.” It’s a delicacy in Ecuador.

Ah, see. What’s one of your favorite quotes?

So I will quote something that I know is a misquote, but it was really impressive to me. I was doing an “Immediation” where we were doing in, again, it was pre lawsuit kind of thing and we were arguing with this lawsuit, the person had just made up 50 things. It was a completely false lawsuit. They just made it all up. And I’m talking to the mediator and I’m like, “Just let me get this straight. They can literally make up anything in… oh sorry, arbitration. And they can make up this list of shit, and go to court with it, and sue us on it?” And there’s nothing we can do in recourse in California by the way.

And he is like, “Yeah.” And I’m like, “But it’s all made up. This is literally fabricated. It’s not even arguable. We can disprove all of this.” And he is like, “Yeah.” And I’m like, “Can I counter sue him for perjury or something?” And he’s like, “Not in civil court, not in lawsuit.” I’m like, “But on principle that seems really fucked up.” And he’s like, “Yeah.” And you know what Winston Churchill said about principles, “They’re kind of like top hats, they’re great to try to stand on.”

Wow.

And it comes up over and over again when we’re trying to, what’s the outcome you want versus what principles you stand on? I don’t mean like, have no principles. I just mean when you’re trying to argue based on your principles and fight for something, a lot of times it’s not worth it. He’s like, “Yeah. Okay, cool. Yeah, we get it. It’s not fair. Life’s not fair. Move on. Now, get the outcome you want.” And I think that, and by the way I looked, I googled it. I don’t think Winston Churchill actually said that, which made me, that arbitrator or the mediator was just unimpressed. He definitely got what he wanted out of me. Just shut up and get this done.

Move on. What’s one of your favorite desserts?

Probably ice cream.

What kind of ice cream?

Chocolate or some form of that. “Phish Food Ice Cream” at Ben & Jerry’s for a while. Didn’t really like them taking a stance on Palestine in Israel, I thought that was a little ignorant.

I see. Interesting.

Which is the first time I’ve seen a company take a stance, I’m like, “Ah.” Kind of honestly that, and when Chick-fil-A like went the anti-gay marriage way. I was like, “Come on, guys. Just stay out of it.” But for a long time it was definitely that.

Got it. Have you ever had a nickname?

Yeah. Ekik.

What’s that come from?

A little girl that couldn’t say Erik, just was like, “Ekik.” And then my brilliant fraternity in college, I was apparently the first Jewish guy most of those guys had met in Arizona. And so, instead of Huberman, my nickname in college was “Jewberman.”

“Jewberman.” Okay.

Which I don’t think would be very well cultured these days, but I didn’t mind it. I was like, “Sure, fine. If I can be your token Jew friend I have no problem with that.”

I was at a dinner the other night with some Jewish friends and they were talking about somebody that they knew and he was like explaining. He’s like, “Yeah, she’s Jew-ish.” I’ve never heard that before.

Yeah. Lewis Black said a great line. He’s like, “Judaism, everybody gets to pick their level and anybody more Jewish than you is crazy. And anyone less Jewish than you is not really Jewish.” So I look at my friends that are Kosher. I’m like, “You’re nuts.” And they look at me, they’re like, “Yeah, but you’re not really Jewish.” It’s really funny, but that is the dynamic in Judaism, for sure.

What’s one of your favorite songs?

Killing In The Name Of,” Rage Against The Machine.

Okay. I saw them here actually.

Did you?

Yes.

I was bummed. I had the tickets to Coachella last year, but COVID.

It was their comeback tour, they haven’t performed in years and I just happened to be in LA and I got it.

Just grew up on them and it’s not like I’m some rebel that actually, the music resonates. I’m obviously pretty capitalistic and I’m pretty sure the machine they’re raging against is capitalism. But at the same time, I think just as a band, they’re so talented and it’s really good stuff.

Awesome. And then we’ll end with this one. How would your mom describe you?

Huh? How would she describe me? I’m thinking, like a hundred different things. My mom’s been a very supportive part of my life.

What’s your mom’s name?

Trudy.

Okay. Here, put it this way, she’s at a Starbucks and she meets an old friend, like, “How’s Erik doing?”

She’s always proud of me. Always reminds me to lead with my heart.

She’d say, “He’s doing great. I’m so proud of him.” She’s perpetually proud of me for doing anything I do. So it has nothing to do with like thankfully the objective level of success I had. It doesn’t matter, I could have done whatever, she’s always proud of me. Always reminds me to lead with my heart. It’s a big thing for her. And her and I are very close.

“But what does Erik do for a living?”

This marketing thing.

“This marketing.” [laughs]

Listen, my dad-

“He works for the computers.”

Yeah. My dad used to always say, “I don’t know what you do, I don’t get it at all. But as long as it’s legal, I’m proud of you.”

My dad used to always say, “I don’t know what you do, I don’t get it at all. But as long as it’s legal, I’m proud of you.”

This marketing thing.

Neither of my parents ever understood this stuff.

Erik, man, you’ve been such a good sport. I appreciate you being on this show. Thank you for coming down here.

Of course. Thank you for having me.

Important Links

Erik Huberman’s IMDb Page
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