In this first episode of the Survive and Thrive podcast, Rachel Meese interviews John Meese about why he started the podcast, his background as an economist, digital marketer, and entrepreneur, as well as what to expect in future episodes in terms of content, format, and the guest interviews to come!

Rachel Meese 0:03
This is, after all, an interview based podcast. But for the first interview, I thought I wanted to do something a little bit different, right? I mean, normally, for the first episode of a podcast like this, you'd expect me to jump on and say, Hey, here is a little bit about what to expect. Here's a little bit about just setting your expectations for the podcast. And I could say all of that, but I thought interviewing myself might be amusing for a moment, but then start to inspire some concern about my mental integrity. So rather than go down that path, I am actually going to turn the tables a little bit today, and for the first episode of this podcast, I will actually be the guest and interviewing me will be one of my most trusted in fact, my most trusted business advisor, strategist, best friend and life partner and wife, Rachel Meese. Rachel, how are you doing?

Hi, John. I'm so excited to be on here. I'm so excited to get to interview you about like, work life. This is a big deal. I'm so proud of your work and I can't wait to talk and like, hear it from this side of the table.

Well, thank you so much for being willing to do this. You know, it's fun. You know, I've had a podcast before and made the mistake of never having you on as a guest. And so this time, we decided to fix that with episode one. And have you interview me for the first episode. So at this point, I'll hand the reins over to you, Rachel, and I will, I will set aside all of my impulses to directly control anything and I'm just here for the party.

John Meese 1:28
Oh, okay. Well, here comes the party. Um, I think you're the guest of honor, though at your own party is that like. . . I don't even know,

I'm a grown up, we throw our own birthday parties. But...

You know what, you're right. That's true. Well, first off, um, who are you and why? Why does who you are matter for the world?

Rachel Meese 1:47
So it's a good question. It's a deep question. I have to think on that for a while probably going on strategic retreat, but in the meantime, you know, my name is John Meese. I am a traditionally trained economist by that I mean, I got a degree in Economics. I, you know, went to a state school I started down the graduate path, I worked for an Economic Research Center (a research lab) in college and that was pretty cool. Got to publish a pretty cool a few papers, I was a Ludwig von Mises Institute scholar, which is being very like Austrian economics school, you know, nerdy thing to do. It's sort of like, you know, chess club for economists, I guess, except for the most economists do also go to chess club. So I started there. But then I kind of ended up getting into digital marketing pretty early. So I was blogging in college, and then shortly after that, you know, launched an online course. And then that turned into my online business where I had online courses and I had consulting and affiliate income. I built a blog,, did a little bit of, you know, email list stuff there, and also started a software company with a friend so Notable Themes, co-founded that company. And then I went to work with Michael Hyatt to run Platform University for over three years. So, as of today, I'm, you know, the Dean of Platform University, where we teach professionals how to build an online brand or personality brand. I also still have my own blog. I have a YouTube channel and now look at this podcast and a book coming out soon. I also, I also still work with little themes. You know, we've got some pretty fun projects coming down the pipeline there. And with you, Rachel, just recently, in January of this year, we're in 2020, we opened a brand new entrepreneur center slash co working space where we are right now.

John Meese 3:36
Yes, yeah, that's been a journey, I think. I mean, I met you when I was 14. You I mean, you were about to be 14. I think it's like first day of high school. Yes.

Rachel Meese 3:47
For Yes, August 9, 2004, one month and a day before I turned 14. So technically, you were 14 and I was 13. You were therefore way older to the me at the time. Now, it doesn't seem as as big of a deal but a few months difference in age we are but uh, but you know, then yeah, but then we you know what you know, but not everybody listening does but we were friends in high school but didn't date in high school you know hashtag friendzone. And then in college, we started talking more and we stayed best friends really close friends and all that time. And then after eight years of friendship, we had our first date. And then two years later, we had our second date, and then

John Meese 4:25
Yeah, sorry about the eight years of friendzone, I mean, the way it happened, but

Ah, it was a great friendship!

Rachel Meese 4:31
It still is. All the time I've known either I've seen you grow academically as well as just as a person. I think we've opened a business with every child that we've had, we now have a voice and I've seen you grow from like, you know, the Justin Bieber haircut with braces and you know, Yes, it did. And, you know, all the way to even watching you become a father and a business owner and then Cowork Colombia is our first brick-and-mortar business and you're writing about to finish your first book? It's yeah.

Yeah, it's a lot of things. So and you've been with me throughout all of it as a friend as a then as a girlfriend that as a fiance and as a wife, and then as a business partner. And so we've gone through all these different stages together, so. So while my face may be in the front of a lot of things, you're always behind what I do, and I really appreciate how supportive you are and how much you really do fill that role as my best strategist and my advisor for every business decision. And I appreciate that.

John Meese 5:32
Well, cheers to your good work.

Rachel Meese 5:34
Yes, well, thank you. So but yeah, how that kind of led us to where we are today though, is that you know, we opened the Cowork Columbia, our you know, we intentionally started built this entrepreneur center co working space in our hometown. We opened on January 15, of 2020. 58 days before we had to close our space temporarily because of COVID-19 because of the novel coronavirus. And so that was a really rough

Yes, that was a hard blow. There's a hard emotional load to have a baby, get the keys to our building, open the building, and then close the building indefinitely. And I want to say we, I mean, we were self-employed by the time we opened back up or shortly thereafter, like it was just a it was like an emotional hit, or they are a hit on the business, on finances, on job security on all the things that we were expecting to the time and so your book came out of this place of like, Okay, how can we move forward and put the past behind us? And how can we survive and thrive and in such a weird climate that no one's ever, you know, articulated before for this century?

Yeah, and I think that, um, you know, as things were changing, you know, I started pulling out my socio-economic background and started looking at what was going on in the economy, nationally and globally, but also really, just personally, I mean, we were in there, right? We have, at this point, we've got a couple of online businesses and we've got a brick-and-mortar business. We've got you know, kids who are suddenly not in preschool. We've got, you know, we're in the midst of all of this, and we're looking around and all these other entrepreneurs around us who are really struggling. And so, you know, thankfully, we have the support network that we were able to survive and thrive, we were able to thrive, even in the midst of that. But that really, you know, led down the path to this, this series of interviews are really just making sure to really, really just diving into what other people were doing in the midst of all that.

John Meese 7:26
Yeah, so I mean, I know you're very data focused, you will read books on demographics and trends and marketing and, and just, you know why people are the way that they are and psychology and the enneagram. And you just kind of put your fingers in all these things to help understand the universe. And but given the pandemic, you decided to write a book. So the book is really what comes after the podcast, you know, they're paired together. So why did you start this podcast and what do you hope to accomplish with it?

Rachel Meese 7:56
So it's a great question. I think that I felt this need when looking I just all the small business owners and entrepreneurs across the world really that were struggling so much in the face of not just COVID-19, but the lockdowns that came with it, the economic shake up that came with it. Seeing all of that happening, I really, I knew that I needed I was actually already planning to write a book. But I hadn't had a rough idea of the direction of that this year. And then that happened then just became crystal clear that I needed to, I needed to document what I had learned so far about the core really fundamental principles in building a profitable business, in the midst of any crisis in the economy, you know, not just when things are booming, but also even when things get rough. And so as part of that, I just kind of started down writing that on my own and very quickly realized that I wanted to incorporate perspective from other people, the best and brightest minds in business. And so this, this podcast was my way to actually pair those two and just say while I'm writing this book, I'm gonna actually go and interview a lot of different business owners small business, you know, small business owners with brick and mortar shops who We're like on the ground and the day to day of how they're adopting. And also some of the best and brightest minds, authors and consultants on the planet about what they what they're doing and what they recommend other people do, just in their human experience throughout the COVID-19 crisis, the great lockdown would eventually become to be known as the Great Reset by economists. So that's been a Yeah, I mean, that's really inspired me to do this. And so even though we're recording this, the first episode right now, is this will be the first episode of the podcast. It's actually the 25th interview I've recorded. So it's kind of it's

John Meese 9:37
quite a list. It's quite a list. That's a lot of work. But you've learned so much in these interviews, and then you've incorporated the data into your book. I think that's, that's brilliant. So how did you decide or rather, what was the filter for who to interview? I know we've talked a little bit about the age of insight and how you're moving from massive amounts of information. But finding the expert on the information. And can you explain that a little bit? And then how you picked your guest list?

Sure, I'd be happy to. I think that's a that's a really important concept is one that I do talk about in my book. But also one that's, you know, there's more and more literature coming out that we've been in this shift from the age of information for a while, that I mean, starting in the mid 1960s. With like the computer and information revolution, we entered into this information age where there's, you know, unlimited access to everything you can possibly want to know about every subject in the world, you know, just a couple clicks away on the internet. And that was pretty cool and exciting for a while. And that caused a massive spike in innovation as people started connecting different ideas or different industries and but over time, what that's meant is also the the dark side of that has been people have been really overwhelmed. I mean, we saw this with COVID-19, where a day one we were drowning in data, but no one knew what to do with it. Right? How many cases where are they happening? What can we do what's been done? Massive amounts of data. I just put that but the data information wasn't enough, you had to know what to do with it. Well, a trend that had already been going on for some time then became accelerated, where as humanity across the world started looking, really filtering out all the data to say, look, we need to look to the specific experts who have the experience, who know how to interpret the data, and give us insight. And so the World Economic Forum, to my knowledge, they were the first to come out and say, you know, look, we've talked about this and as far as as far as we can tell, while the the we the age of information is over, the age of insight is here. And that's really where the demand is moving forward, is that people are saying I don't want piles of data. I don't want access to massive spreadsheets or analytics tools. I want insight and insight comes from experience. It comes from wisdom and it comes from specific expertise and niche you know, very niche specific even and specialized expertise. And so my objective with this podcast is I selected these guests in which I'll continue to do you know, I've interviewed, this is the 25th interview but even though it's the first but I intend to record other interviews in the future my intention was to get a healthy mix of different balance you know, different views and so thankfully because of my relationships I was able to bring in you know, people like Michael Hyatt who's just a really he's a champion among business leaders and business thinkers. You know he's best selling author of Your Best Year Ever, The Vision Driven Leader he's got a book coming out soon called Entrepreneurs Will Save the World there's so much going on with Michael Hyatt but then I was also able to bring in Mike Michalowicz who wrote Profit First who wrote Fix This t, sorry, Fix This Next. And he has all these different amazing frameworks for for business and really for making sense of things. But then I was also able to bring in guests like Ray Edwards is a master copywriter and salesman And the list goes on. I mean, Pat Flynn, who's a dear friend of ours, and also he's he's really advocated for servant hearted entrepreneurship with his book Superfans. I mean, that's a huge part of his book, but also Smart Passive Income, I mean, still making money, right? Let's do the both those two, both of those.

So taking care of the person in the business so that they both are healthy, and they both can survive and thrive. So you went to experts who balance it in their life personally, as well as in their business and how that how you can move forward even in a in a pandemic.

Yeah, and with each of these experts, I felt like it was important to get their expertise about what to do and like what we should all do. But I also find that there's so much value in just diving into what people are doing themselves. And so I actually started to interview by diving first into how the specific people, you know, they're human beings, right, how each of them reacted to this current crisis, how they reacted personally, what they're, you know, how they reacted professionally, how they pivoted their business, what things they'd already done in their business to set them up for success. So I do give them a chance to interact You know, to dive into what they recommend that all of us do. But I wanted to start first by saying, Well, what did you actually do yourself though, because I think there's so much value in just looking at those actions. So I do interview I have interviewed, it will continue to interview a lot of, you know, in really experts, I mean, truly the best and brightest minds in business. But as part of making sure that we, you know, we were staying relevant to everybody's experience as a business owner. I've also interviewed some boots on the ground entrepreneurs that I know and respect. And I, you know, like, you know, our friend Bryson Leach, who owns you know, not just a graphic design, a small graphic design company, where he designs logos and signs for a lot of businesses around Columbia, Tennessee, where we live, including the Cowork Columbia logo, but also he owns two different retail shops that are well loved in our community, right. He owns needle and needle and grain, which is a home goods store, and then also Little Neighbors, which was a new toy store that him and his wife launched right in the middle of the pandemic. So yeah, and also even interviewing Caleb Mathis, who is a Another good friend of ours, but also the owner, operator of our local Chick-fil-a, who, in the middle of the pandemic, had their best month ever in sales and revenue. And he talks about a review about how that happened. Yeah. So while everybody's I mean, we don't want to minimize the fact there's many industries that were turned upside down and so many people suffering. But my my goal is to, is to come in and look or look around for what's working, and what can we all do, to respond to

finding out who's doing what's right, and what's moving us forward? on a large scale or even a local scale? I think that's, that's excellent. Finding the people that are doing the most good and making the most progress. Exactly. That's great.

Rachel Meese 15:40
So it's a mix of names you may recognize from your bookshelf, and people you've probably never heard of who are really smart things to say.

That's brilliant. Well, you're obviously one of those people that I'm not just saying that because I'm married to you, but I knew when I met you that you were brilliant, even at 14. Yeah, so we're can we find you and learn more about you?

John Meese 16:03
Well, if you want to learn more about this podcast, so of course, the first thing I would say is, please subscribe in whatever app that you're in. So you know where there's usually a subscribe button right there. Depending on whatever app you're in, that helps you find out when these new episodes come out. And so that you can tune in, you can learn yourself. In addition to that I can you can go to to learn more about the resources that go along with this podcast. So there's transcripts of each interview. And there's also you know, links to the different websites from the guests and any resources they mentioned. We also created I mean, I do have a book coming out soon. We're still final as we're recording this, we're still finalizing the exact date, but soon. And so if you're interested in learning more about that book, and getting yourself a copy, you can go to But we also in the meantime, I wanted to create something I took a lot of the insights that are included in the book, but I also took a lot of the insights that come from my own practice is in business and with others that I've worked with. And I took that and distill that into a single assessment, this is something that I wanted everyone to be able to use right away. And so it's completely free. You can go to to find that. And it's just an assessment that allows you to assess your business based on where you're at right now. And so there is no shame, there's no guilt attached to this, that the goal of this tool is to identify what's wrong with your business. And so whatever your score is, you probably want it to be better. But this is a score on a scale of one to 100. So I mean, you could get, for example, you could go through the assessment, you could get a 68. And along the way, realize that there are some key missing pieces in your marketing strategy. And so you'll get that information with your score. So go to your threat if you want a complimentary assessment of your business. And then of course, I also publish also other videos and articles on, which is kind of the hub of everything I do. So that's a lot of different stuff. You've got options here, for better or worse. If you want to pick one thing I would say subscribe to this podcast. And listen to a couple more interviews to, you know, just to see what kind of value that I can provide and serve serve you with. I mean, that's my goal here with the show if you like it, if you find it helpful, please leave a positive review, that does a huge benefit in terms of just allowing us it's a free way that you can help us get this podcast into the hands of more people who need it. Because that's my goal with this, right? We don't have any paid sponsors on this podcast. This is not a huge money making endeavor. This is a way to share insight as we're all trying to figure out this new world. So Rachel, did I miss anything there that you want to highlight?

No, I'm excited that we don't have sponsors. I don't like ads. I mean, like money, but I don't like ad so as a listener of the podcast, I'm really excited about that. And, I mean, I know that you want to help as many people as you can with the expertise that you have. So I'm excited for the podcast. I can't wait to listen to the first episode already exists. Well, okay. I mean, the second

No, you should say like, I want to know Well, yeah, listen. With the kids, it'll be fun.

Oh, the kids would go crazy over hearing us on the radio in the car. Yeah. What was I saying? I was saying,

I'm not sure I probably threw you off. But we do have three beautiful boys who will be super excited to hear mom on a podcast.

Yes. And yeah, this podcast is gonna be great. I can't wait to, to learn from everyone and to read the book when it comes out.

Rachel Meese 19:21
Great. Well, so that's episode one. Please go ahead and dive into the next interview and start learning. It all starts today.

Yep. See you then.

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