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This episode is sponsored by Clariti.
Welcome to episode 400 of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork is chatting about four takeaways that he has observed during his interviews with experts, food creators, and friends over the last 400 podcast episodes.
Last week on the podcast, we shared 5 takeaways from our recent member-only Q&A with Casey Markee about food SEO. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.
4 Takeaways from 400 Episodes
In this episode, Bjork reflects on podcast interviews from the last few years and discusses four themes that came up time and time again in these conversations, and in some way contributed to the success of the guests.
Over the course of the episode, Bjork unpacks each of these themes and provides examples and takeaways to help listeners apply these themes to their own businesses.
As we celebrate 400 episodes, we wanted to thank YOU for listening to The Food Blogger Pro Podcast – we couldn’t do it without you!
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- The four themes that Bjork has noticed over the course of the 400 podcast episodes he has recorded
- The importance of leaning into time, talent, and learning in your business (and hoping for some luck, too!)
- Why you should cultivate a bias toward action
- How to prioritize the skills you’re naturally good at
- Why you might want to embrace your “grind”
- More details about our upcoming habits mini-series on the podcast
- And more!
- User Controlled Analytics: The 3 Most Important Types of Analytics in Your First Year of Blogging
- Atomic Habits
- Connect with Bjork via email
- Join the Food Blogger Pro Podcast Facebook Group
About This Week’s Sponsor
We’re excited to announce that this week’s episode is sponsored by our sister site, Clariti!
With Clariti, you can easily organize your blog content for maximum growth. Create campaigns to add alt text to your posts, fix broken images, remove any broken links, and more, all within the Clariti app.
Sign up for the Clariti waitlist today to receive:
- Access to their limited-time $45 Forever pricing
- 50% off your first month
- Optimization ideas for your site content
- An invitation to join their exclusive Slack community
- And more!
If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for interviews, be sure to email them to [email protected].
Transcript (click to expand):
Bjork Ostrom: This episode is sponsored by Clariti. That’s C-L-A-R-I-T-I.com.
And I’m going to give you a really specific example of how you can use Clariti if you sign up today, and that is post or page specific tracking of changes that you’re making. And you can use the notes area within Clariti to make a note anytime that you make a change. An example of when you’d want to do this, let’s say that you’re switching over some of your YouTube videos to be AdThrive or Mediavine video players. You want to make sure that you’re tracking to see, when you look back three months later, the change or the impact that that had. And personally, what we’ve noticed as we’ve worked on content is you forget. If you don’t have a system, if you’re not making a note of that somewhere, you’ll forget. And so, within Clariti, there’s the ability to leave a note anytime that you’re making a change or improvement on a piece of content, to allow you to go back and see how that change impacted things. There’s lots of other ways that you can use Clariti, but I thought it’d be helpful just to give a really specific example.
If you want to see what those other ways are, you can go to clariti.com/food to get 50% off your first month. Again, that’s clariti.com/food, to get 50% off of your first month. You can start taking notes on the changes you’re making and explore all the other features. Thanks to Clariti for sponsoring this episode.
Hey, everybody. This is episode 400 of the Food Blocker Pro podcast. That’s incredible. We’ve been at this for a while, and maybe you’ve been with us for a while. If you have, thank you. If this is your first time listening or checking it out, thank you.
What we thought we would do is something a little bit different for this 400th episode. We’re going to talk and reflect, and by we, I mean me, it’s just me sitting in a room here. But I like to think of it as we, as if we’re sitting down and having a conversation. But I’m going to reflect on these last 400 episodes. And my goal with it was to pull out four different themes, four different things that I felt like came up time and time again with the interviews that we did, the conversations that we had with experts, with people who have had business successes, with people who have potentially reflected on struggles or failures. What were the themes that came out of it that kind of were through lines in all of the different conversations that we had, whether we actually addressed those in the interview or not.
If you look back at it, you can see these different things as a part of the theme, as something that comes up time and time again, and is, whether mentioned or not, a part of somebody’s story after they reach a certain level of success, whatever that might mean for them. Success looks different for everybody. But these were the four things that I pulled out, and I’m going to talk about each one of those and highlight a couple examples of what that looks like and how that plays out. So the hope for it is that you can take some time to reflect, maybe think about what that looks like for you, and how it can fit into your story of success as well.
So the first theme coming out of 400 episodes is this equation. Now, for those of you who aren’t math people, don’t worry, it’s not an actual equation. But it’s really these four things, these four variables that play into the ability for somebody to get to a certain level or to have a certain level of success. Again, whatever success might look like, we all have different things that we are after. But these four things are a part of that success variable. Time plus talent, plus learning, plus luck. I’m going to say that one more time. Time plus talent, plus learning, plus luck.
Now, how about that first one, we think about time. I’ve said this before and I think it’s really true, “People underestimate what they can do in a decade, overestimate what they can do in a year.” That’s not a quote for me. It’s some other person… It has been attributed to multiple different people, so I don’t know who it actually was.
It’s kind of like that Office episode, where Michael is quoting Wayne Gretzky, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take,” and he quotes Wayne Gretzky, but then he attributes the Wayne Gretzky quote to himself, which is classic.
But anyways, I think about that idea a lot. And I think what happens sometimes when we set out on a new pursuit, we are after something that we’re really excited about. We think about goals in one year. Where do we want to be in one year? And I think that’s great. Set a goal for a year out, strive for that goal, or a quarter out, or a week out. Small goals are awesome, but I think sometimes those one year goals are really ambitious and maybe too ambitious. And I think the mindset that you’re going to commit to something for a decade is a much different mindset than committing to something for a year. You approach it differently, you think about it differently, and you maybe have a little bit more patience.
And a lot of the interviews that we’ve done are people who have been at it, whatever it might be for them, for a long time. And sometimes it might not be that they’ve been at it on their own. Starting to work on their blog full-time as an example, they maybe haven’t been doing that a long time. But oftentimes, we have kind of a prequel to our story of entrepreneurship or whatever it might be that also is a part of our story in terms of growth and learning, which I’m going to talk about in a little bit. But it takes a long time to master something, to get really good at something. There’s this concept of 10,000 hours. Macklemore references it in a song and Malcolm Gladwell talks about it in terms of this number that you need to get to to unlock mastery.
And if you think of a full-time job, that’s 2000 hours a year, so roughly 40 hours a week for 50 weeks, and that would mean five years of complete dedication, 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year. That’s a lot of time. And I think we forget about that in the context of businesses or pursuits like ours, because in some sense it can seem so easy. You create a video and you publish it to Instagram, or maybe there’s a tip on how to do SEO really well, and you understand it and you implement it. And you’re like, “Why isn’t it working?” Well, I think it takes a lot of time. Plus, the second piece of the variable, talent. And I think sometimes the tips and the tricks and the tactics can get lost in the fact that it takes talent in order to do the things that we do, in order to create content that’s compelling and engaging, in order to understand the technical elements of a website, or to understand algorithms and how they work and try to create content that is favorable towards algorithms but is also still human first.
All of these things are abstract and they’re talent based. And I think in this space, sometimes we forget about talent being a really important thing because there are so many tactics. And I think sometimes we can misplace tactics and put them in front of talent, but I think talent should always be in front of tactics, and tactics would support talent.
So what are some examples that you can think of to help fill that picture out? I like to think of things like being an artist, painting. When you first start painting, chances are you’re not going to be very good at it. You’re going to have to practice a lot. Our daughter, who’s four, is starting to color and she’s just getting to the place now where she’s coloring within the lines and picking different colors that match well. It’ll probably be 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 years of her continuing to explore that art before, if she does decide to go down that path, where you start to get to this place where it’s like, “Wow, this is really cool, the things that you’re creating.” I still think they’re really cool now. But point being, it takes a long time to develop talent.
You can think about that from a music perspective as well. A lot of kids maybe will start in fifth grade, learning the violin. And it’s not till they’re in a senior in high school or maybe they’re in college, that they really reach a level of mastery. And I think for us in this space, whether you’re into photography or video or recipe development or writing, I think that we expect ourselves to get to that level of talent sooner. Or that we should just have it, even though you really have to work on it, whether it’s 10,000 hours, or thinking of it as a decade. But really focusing on talent and developing your talent as a creator, if that’s what you’re after. Or a business owner, if you’re interested in the entrepreneurship type elements within what we’re doing. It takes a lot of time, which is that first variable.
And within that, it takes a lot of talent. But you don’t have to have that talent naturally, you can achieve it by practicing and developing, and the third variable, learning. And one of the things that I’ve seen in the interviews that I’ve had, the conversations that I’ve had, people who are reaching a certain level of success are always thinking about how they can continually learn and figure out what’s coming around the corner and they’re curious and they’re wanting to constantly evolve their skills. And all of this, it could be applied to whether you want to be an entrepreneur, whether you want to be really successful within your job, whether you have, maybe it’s like a nonprofit that you’re building and you want that to be really successful.
So the learning element, it applies across across the board. It doesn’t matter what specifically success looks like for you. But in order to unlock the next level, you have to have new information coming in.
So we have time, we have talent. And one of the ways to better your talent is through learning, which is that third piece. And you can start to see how all of these kind of layer in. So if you have a long-term mindset, you have the time. If you are pursuing talent as opposed to just tactics, you’re going to be leveling up skills and creating kind of a moat. Talent is one of the hardest things to emulate. It’s easy to emulate tactics or best practices, but true talent is really hard to emulate because it’s hard to achieve. It takes a lot of time and effort. You can get that talent through learning.
And then, the last piece that I think is worth acknowledging is luck. And there’s a component of luck in anything that we do. Maybe it’s being at the right time, being at the right place at the right time. Maybe it’s a fascination or an interest in a subject that’s really trendy or hot. Or maybe it’s the ability to produce content in a way that is optimized for certain algorithms.
I think now of people who are really good at video and they are really engaging, it’s going to be great for them on TikTok or Instagram Reels. It’s going to be a natural platform for them, and it’s good timing. People are lucky to be able to have that talent in a way that is a good fit for the platform, or the way to create content on a platform that is kind of trendy or that is favorable towards the algorithm.
So this first theme, while it’s a lot of different elements, really comes down to this: time plus talent, plus learning, plus luck. And if you can think about that as you pursue your goals, as you try and reach a certain level of success or have a certain level of impact on a certain group of people, what I think you’ll find is the combination of those four things. Luck is not one that you can really control, but it is a variable. You can control the other three: time and talent and learning. But if you think about how you can do those better, as opposed to just metrics…
And one of the things that I wrote a blog post on a long time ago is this idea of user controlled metrics. And the idea is these are things you can control. And the symptom of these things will be the actual metrics, like analytics or followers or impressions, whatever it might be.
But if you can control time and be patient, if you can control your talent and pursue the continual upgrade of your skills through learning, the third piece, constantly thinking not just about, “How do I do the work?” But, “How do I learn and how do I improve my knowledge base?” That’s so much of what we do, is we are in front of a phone, we’re in front of a computer, or maybe we’re in the kitchen, and we’re applying our knowledge to craft things. If you can control those three things, chances are your luck will increase. I think that will be true, and you’ll be able to achieve your goals, as opposed to just thinking about the metrics or the goals themselves and striving after those and using those as the things that you’re tracking.
So one more time: time plus talent, plus learning, plus luck. I’ve seen that a lot as we’ve had these interviews on the podcast. That’s theme number one.
Theme number two, this one won’t be as long, now versus later. Other people would call this a bias towards action. And I think there’s kind of a divide between certain people. And one of them is, “Hey, I’m going to do this now.” Something comes up, “I’m going to pursue it now. I’m not going to think about it. I’m not going to tinker. I’m just going to get after it and I’m going to learn as I go. And I know that I’ll never have all of the knowledge that I need to know in order to do something perfectly, but I’m going to get after it and I’m going to push it forward.”
And then there’s a group of people who maybe are more contemplative, kind of drag their feet a little bit, are hesitant to implement something, versus moving forward and actually implementing it.
And one of the things that I’ve seen in the conversations that we’ve had, the hundreds of conversations that we’ve had with experts or creators or just smart people, is a lot of times, most of the time these are people who have a bias towards action. They ship, they show up, they push stuff out, they’re okay with things not being perfect, and they know that part of the process is doing it, improving, and then doing it, and improving, and doing it, and improving. As opposed to improving, improving, improving, learning, learning, learning, thinking, thinking, thinking, and then maybe doing. It’s that element of constantly shipping while also constantly improving. We talk a lot about it as 1% infinity, tiny bit better every day forever. But part of that is just showing up and actually shipping and getting after it.
So, here’s my challenge with theme number two: if you are somebody who’s been listening, who’s been thinking, who’s been contemplating, who’s been information gathering, but you haven’t yet taken that first step, whatever that might be for you, I think you know what it is. And usually, we do know what it is. My challenge is for you to take that as soon as you can. Maybe it’s tonight, maybe it’s tomorrow, but as soon as possible, take that first step. And it’s going to feel uncomfortable, but it’s going to feel better to do it than to wait. So, take that first step. If you do take that first step, I would like to hear about it.
So drop me an email, [email protected], or you could send a note, [email protected], and let me know that you took that first step, because I want to build in a little challenge to this episode to encourage people to move forward with that and to make something happen.
So first theme: time plus talent, plus learning, plus luck. Second theme: now versus later, or having a bias towards action. Meaning, you take action as opposed to waiting. And number three, one of the themes, the third theme that I’ve noticed in these conversations, these interviews, is… I thought of the movie A Few Good Men. I think that’s what it’s called. But this theme is actually a few good things.
And this theme is all about specialization. And one of the themes that I’ve seen in the conversations that I’ve had with people, experts, creators, people who have been blogging for a long time and had a certain level of success or have a certain number of followers or whatever it might be, is that they are good at a few things, but not all the things. And it doesn’t mean that the brand they’re building or the company they’re building isn’t good at multiple other things, but they as the creator, or maybe key employee within a team, or expert consultant, whatever the role is, have specialized in a few good things, and that’s where they offer a lot of the value. And then, from there, they build out support around them.
So an example for me is bookkeeping, accounting. While I love the numbers part of business, what I don’t love is the process of compiling all of that into an Excel document, information gathering around those numbers. What I do like is looking at it and analyzing it. But there are some people who love the process and are really good at the process, of compiling all that information and putting it all together.
And so, we’ve built in people on our team, Pat and somebody on his team named Will, they do a great job compiling that information from us and then they send it along, and then it’s our job to look at it and analyze it, as the folks who are running the businesses day to day.
Another example could be Lindsay and what she does with Pinch of Yum. As much as possible, what she’s done is she’s prioritized her time around content creation, recipe development, documenting with video for things like Instagram and photography. Those are all the things that she is really good at. But what she’s not doing is getting into the weeds of Google Analytics or keyword research or whatever it might be.
To contrast, there are some people who are really good at things like keyword research, and they love that. The point is, there’s lots of different ways to be successful, but you are uniquely equipped in a way that nobody else is. Or maybe a certain group of people are similarly uniquely equipped.
But it’s important to not look at what somebody else does really well, and to think that you need to do that thing in order for you to do well. And it’s important instead to have the self-awareness of the things that you truly are wonderful at, the things that you really love to do and also are really gifted at.
And this comes back to that first one: the time, talent, and learning. As you think about the few good things that you’re good at, those should be the things that you’re spending the most time on, that you’re trying to level up your talent within, and that you’re spending the most time learning about. The things where you’re naturally drawn towards are the things that you should spend the most time thinking about and spend the most time trying to get better at. And it’s okay to not be good at all the other things, and know that eventually you can bring people in around you to support you in those other areas.
It might not be right away. In the early stages, you might have to be the head cook and dishwasher, is that what they say? Literally and figuratively in this case. But you might have to do additional things that you don’t want to do, especially as you’re starting. But over time, you can bring people in to support you with that.
And I will say, there are a lot of things you don’t actually need to do, even though it might be best practice. You don’t need to do all of the social media accounts. You don’t need to do video for every single piece of content that you’re creating, if that’s not where you’re naturally drawn towards. You don’t need to do a blog if you really love video, maybe you just focus on video. And eventually, you can bring a blog into the picture, if that’s something that feels like a good fit.
But the trend, the theme that I’ve seen in the interviews that I’ve done is people know what they’re really good at and they do whatever they can to stay in that lane, while also bringing in people who are excellent in other areas to support the business that they’re building. And sometimes, it also means that you’re not bringing in a bunch of people. And this is a little bit of a side note to this, but it’s okay if you want to have a really simple business. You don’t have to have 20 people doing 15 different things and systems everywhere. It’s okay to run a simple business that’s maybe you and a few people supporting you in what you’re doing, and that’s okay. That’s good, and it’s good enough. You don’t need to pursue growth at all costs.
We talk a lot about the idea of maker versus manager. And if you’re somebody who loves to create, who loves to make things, don’t feel pressured to then transition into manager. Again, to go back to conversations with Lindsay, Lindsay knew that she loves the process of making, that’s what she wants to do. She wants to develop recipes, take photos, create videos. The goal isn’t to build Pinch of Yum, in this case, into a multiple contributor blog that scales to hundreds of millions of page views. The goal for Lindsay is to do the things that she really loves and connect with readers.
There are other people who have built massive sites, because what they love to do is build a system and bring in multiple contributors and create… The system is the thing that they are drawn towards, as opposed to the content creation process and managing that system and building that system. And that’s the thing that they’re good at. It’s a few good things, not all the things, and trying to be good at all the things.
So time, talent, learning and luck, it’s the first one. Now versus later, having a bias towards action, the second one. A few good things is the third theme. Being good at a few things and not trying to be good at everything. And then, the fourth theme that is…
I want to explain it a little bit, which I’ve done with all of these, but there’s a little bit of a nuance to it. So I’m calling it find the grind. And sometimes grind can have this negative connotation. And the connotation can be grind equals misery, and you just got to embrace the grind. It’s super unenjoyable, but you just got to do it anyways. Push through, hustle, kind of hustle culture. But what I mean by find the grind is it’s almost more of a nod towards this idea of flow or flow state. So what are the things that you do that you really enjoy, that you are naturally drawn towards, and that you can grind away at while also feeling like this is enjoyable?
And the one that Lindsay always gives me a hard time about and our friends who know us well always give me a hard time about… I have this theory, I don’t know if I’ve shared this on the podcast, that if you… Pandora, so Pandora’s the listening music station, and it does, at least when I used to listen to it, it does kind of random selection based on one song or one band. And so, I have this theory that you can start Pandora on any station with any band, any song, and if you listen to it long enough, it’ll eventually play a Coldplay song.
And Lindsay has a theory that you could start any conversation with me and eventually it’ll come to taxes or legal business considerations. And what I mean by legal business considerations is business structure or business entities and personal and business taxes.
But it’s an area that, for whatever reason, I’m just really interested in. I’m really interested in how businesses are formed and the structure of businesses and business ownership. And I’m also really interested in taxes, not even in ways that affect me, but just interested in the tax system and how that works. And that’s my grind. For a lot of people, they would be so miserable reading about it, or listening to a podcast about it, or thinking about it. It’s the last thing that they want to think about. Even for some of you, you’re like, “Oh man.” When I even say taxes, it’s like, “No.”
But if I have an interview with somebody who’s an expert in business structure or somebody who’s a tax expert, I really look forward to that. For whatever reason, it’s just an area that’s interesting for me. That’s my grind. My grind wouldn’t be photography or recipe development or writing a blog post.
What are the things that you are naturally drawn towards, that you can grind away at without it feeling like a grind to you, but other people would maybe feel like it is? Those are the things that are going to be your unique competitive advantage, because you’re going to be able to do those things for a long period of time, and it’s not going to feel like work, or it’s not going to feel like most work does, not that it doesn’t ever feel like work. But what are the things that to others feel like a grind, but to you feel like an opportunity or something that’s really fun to do?
The interviews that I’ve had, what I’ve noticed is the people have… They’ve found that thing, the thing that they can continually do over a long period of time, day in and day out, that is valuable. So it’s not just playing video games, it’s something valuable that other people get value from or find value from, but it’s also something that not everybody necessarily enjoys doing. It’s kind of their unique area of interest or passion. So that’s the fourth theme that I’ve noticed in the 400 interviews that we’ve done.
So as a recap, what do we have? Number one, time plus talent, plus learning, plus luck. In those first three, the more that you lean into those, time and talent and learning, the more luck you’ll have. I believe that to be true. The second, now versus later, having a bias towards action. I see that time and time again for the conversations that we have on this podcast, that people are having a bias towards action. Number three, doing a few good things. There’s not 100 things that you’re doing well, it’s a handful of things, you’re really good at it. And doing whatever you can to focus in on those. And then number four, find the grind. It’s kind of your quirky thing. You love this thing in a way that maybe not many other people do. And yet, it’s still valuable for others. You can do it over and over, but for other people, they maybe wouldn’t want to do it, or wouldn’t be interested in it. But when you are doing it, when you’re putting it out into the world, people are finding value with it. And that’s going to be different for everybody.
But with the interviews I’ve had, whether it’s somebody who’s really into Google Analytics and they could just sit in Google Analytics all day. Or maybe it’s somebody who’s super passionate about keyword research, and they could just look at a keyword research tool for hours on end. Or somebody who just loves writing and that’s what they want to do. They could sit down and they could write over and over and over. Or somebody who’s really passionate about doing live video. They love turning the camera on and the energy that comes from being in front of people, and virtually, at least. And that’s something that they really love. All of those to me are examples of a grind that most people, vast majority of the population wouldn’t be interested in, but a select few would be, and that’s their grind.
So we are here, 400 episodes. It’s amazing and extremely grateful for this community. One of the things that’s been most fun for me to hear is either somebody who listened to a podcast and they’re able to take action from it, or learn from it, or have a small twist or evolution in their story based on information from the podcast. Or the second thing, and this just happened today, we got an email from somebody who was on as a guest, where they followed up and said, “I’ve just gotten so many sweet messages from people that were so encouraging after they listened to the interview,” and this person was just reaching out to say thank you. That’s the other thing that’s really fun, is making those connections happen on the podcast.
And I’ve learned a ton from the last 400 episodes we’ve done, as well. So I’m extremely grateful not only for the people who have come on, but also for you as a listener, because we obviously wouldn’t do this if there weren’t listeners. And so, you’re able to give us kind of the fuel to keep this podcast going. And for that, we are extremely grateful. So we are excited to continue to publish additional episodes moving forward.
One of the things that we’re going to do is a little bit… We’ve experimented with this before, but we’re going to do a little bit of a miniseries coming up. And I’m going to be talking about habits. And in this book, Atomic Habits, which is a great book, James Clear talks about… I think it’s in Atomic Habits. What we’re going to talk about is this idea of habit stacking. And this next miniseries that we’re doing, I’m going to talk about some habits that you could consider folding in to a part of your routine, whether it be daily or weekly. That, hopefully, if you do them over a long period of time, to come back to that again, will result in a big impact for you. So that’s coming down the line. Something to look forward to.
Thank you for 400 episodes. Excited to continue the conversations here. We will catch you on the other side. Bye-bye.
Alexa Peduzzi: Hey there, Alexa here, and thanks for tuning into this episode of the Food Blogger Pro podcast. We really appreciate you being here. And if you really liked this episode, we would so appreciate you leaving us a review on Apple Podcasts. It helps the show get in front of new listeners, and it just makes us really happy. We read each and every one, and it’s just so great to hear from you, what you’re liking and what you would like us to improve or change in upcoming episodes.
So all you have to do is go and find the Food Blogger Pro podcast on your Apple Podcast app, scroll down to the ratings and review section, and then you can rate the show and then leave a written review if you want to be even more awesome. And while you’re there, we would really appreciate if you subscribe to the podcast, so that you never miss an episode. But maybe you talk about one of your favorite interviews on the show, or maybe you just talk about the show as a whole, but regardless of what you talk about in your review, we appreciate it so, so much.
So thanks again for tuning in today. We’ll see you next time. And until then, make it a great week.