Our Full Story: From RhettandLinKreations To Mythical Entertainment

Welcome to Ear Biscuits, I am Rhett And I am Link, this week at our respective tables of our individual homes

Yes, we're still at home I got to stop saying, yes, we're still at home Hey, we're still at home, like it's a good thing We are discussing the topic that we've briefly touched on many times while discussing other things but we've never devoted an entire episode to unpacking this topic and it's the business side of things, how did Mythical Entertainment develop as a company? Yes, and when we started doing all this, we didn't have a business in mind It wasn't like we're starting a business, it was, we're gonna create things

But slowly over the years, it's gone from two guys making things on YouTube to two guys leading a team of over 80 people, and it's just definitely a business at this point, even though it was never our intention and we never thought ourselves as CEOs So we're gonna unpack that process and touch on some things that we've talked about, briefly will be getting to some new things, but mainly we want to focus on the lessons that we have learned along the way And if you're particularly interested in business, maybe you own a company of your own or you aspire to one day, maybe you can learn a thing or two as we share the things that we've learned Or if you're really not into that, we think there's still, you'd be interested in finding out the path that we took and I think there's applications outside of business as well So thanks for coming along for the ride, no matter what your interests are

The truth is we never thought of ourselves as CEOs or we never said we wanna be CEOs, like you said But when you talked about that, it did remind me of when the Fine Brothers made that video where kids react to Rhett and Link and one kid described you as the businessman and described me as the boy So we became the businessman and the boy So those are now our official titles Man and the boy

The official titles, like when you look at like a legal document that I have to sign, it says Rhett McLaughlin the businessman, and Charles Lincoln Neal, the boy And that makes me think, when we sign things, technically I'm president and you're– You have me to thank for that And you're what? You're not– You know why? I don't even know– I'm vice president Vice president– You know why? You have my wife to thank for that because I was having a conversation with our very first lawyer and he was like, and that was the point in which I basically, I think maybe 'cause my dad was a law professor, I just handled all the business interactions I wrote the agreements and– And I wasn't there

You weren't there, and he was like, "Okay, so just for "legal purposes, one of you needs to be president "and one of you needs to be vice president" And he was like, "So just think about that" And I was like, "Okay" And so then I'm just telling Jessie about the meeting or whatever, and then I'm like, "So one of us has gotta be "president, one of us can be vice president "and it doesn't mean anything" 'Cause I think we asked could we be called presidents? But I think he was like that's a lot more complicated, it's not worth it

Yeah, and we're like 50 50 owners and we have 50 50 interest and we have, it's always 50 50 and Jesse was like, "Well, since you're the one making the decision, "you should make Link president because it would be "a butthole move to be the one making the decision "and to make yourself president" So now, you're the president of Mythical Entertainment The lesson that I learned is that– I'm actually the vice president and secretary You don't wanna be the president, all it means is that I have to sign more blanks than you on things that we still both have to sign Because that was when we created our first business entity, was called RhettandLinKreations, where the K at the end of Link became the beginning of the word creations, if you misspelled it with a K, and another lesson learned, oh, we're full of them, is that if you name your business something people can't understand how to immediately spell, you're gonna be frustrated a lot

It's like Rhett and Link as one word and creations as part of it, but the K is shared and I know that's not how you spell creations I mean we've changed the name of our company to Mythical Entertainment Is it just Mythical now or it's still technically Mythical Entertainment? Business name is still Mythical Entertainment, but yeah And we kept me as the president so I still got to fill in a few more blanks than you, but it's just popping circumstance It was actually, it was a real smart move on my part 'cause I don't like signing things

But the first real lesson that we learned beyond those that I think is what the operating principle that got us off the ground as a business is we had to find the intersection or the nexus, if you wanna use a word like that, of our ability and our opportunity Yeah, we don't need to rehash how we got from point A to point B to point C, from being engineers to then working for crew and then working, hosting a television show called Online Nation We shared all of that in episode one of our last year's series So you can go back and watch that if you wanna know how we got from point A to point B to point C But if point C is we're hosting this show, Online Nation and it got canceled, we were flying out to LA to shoot it and then we find ourselves back in our little basement where we were making videos, back at square one making videos again but we had no income anymore

We just had the money that we made over that show and we were living over that while we figured out what it was we were going to do, we had to develop an entire new business plan And there was no, it's important to note, no one was making money on YouTube directly, there was no YouTube partner program So you couldn't just make a video and then see money roll in So really, there was no such thing as a professional YouTuber So it's a really interesting idea that we were like, "We're going to have a career," 'cause we were like, "Let's make this YouTube thing a full-time thing," but yet no one was making it a career

But again, we were like, "What two things exist here? "We know that we can write a funny song, we can make "a funny music video," we had had success with that, the Facebook song had gone really big, and the second piece of the puzzle was, is we knew that there were businesses out there who wanted people to know about them So it was like, okay, can we put those two things together? Can we put our ability to write a funny song with a company that wants to advertise and put that on YouTube? And it was really just an open question at the time And there weren't a lot of big companies that were sponsoring videos, I think there was some of that, it's not like we came up with the idea out of absolutely nothing, out of thin air, but there definitely weren't big companies investing a lot of money in this platform where no one understood YouTube or digital video that well, but it seemed like our best play because the thing that we wanted to make is the thing that we could also sell or at least sell ad space in And we thought we could do a good job of making it an integration so that it made sense that the ad was a part of it It wasn't like a lot of videos today where you will be blogging or doing whatever you're doing in your video and then you can just insert an ad in the middle and people would understand that

And here's a coupon code and here's what, here's who my sponsor is kind of thing So we wanted to do something that was thoughtful, that we could be proud of, but also make money and feed our kids 'cause we already had kids at the time If you wanna really be driven to succeeded at business, have children Have children first, yeah Have children first, that's right

'Cause they tend to be hungry and demanding and you come home to them and you're like, man, I gotta get after it Well it's one thing to be a starving artist, it's one thing to have a starving family So when you put, other people are suddenly, you're responsible for them, yeah, that's definitely a great motivator So what we did is we wrote "The Cornhole Song" about the classic game, Bean Bag Toss game, that was really popular in the Midwest at the time ♪ Singing cornhole cornhole ♪ An Olympic sport by 2024, we're only four years away

Yeah, we got two more years to find out And we cold called, we would literally look up people who were selling cornhole equipment and we would just find the number or the contact email and we would send a message or call them 'Cause they were internet businesses, it made sense They probably will understand– And they were small An internet video because they're an internet-based business

We weren't gonna call like Coke and say, hey, we've got an idea, we knew that there was no way for us to go to a Fortune 500 company and get our foot in the door, but maybe we can find somebody else who is trying to do what we were doing And after a few different phone calls, it didn't lead somewhere, we had talked to a mom who was selling cornhole equipment out of her garage and she was like, "I love the idea, but I just "can't afford any advertising" We finally connected with the guys at AJJ Cornhole, who were about our age, it was three of them, they were starting their business in Ohio They were exactly at the same place as we were and they were trying to just get it off the ground and do something interesting and they loved the idea and they became the sponsor again, at the time I wrote the contract up just based on some guesswork as, like how much do you get paid to do this? I don't know, you get some initial fee and then you get some money based on how well that performs, that makes sense to us And it was like they paid us a few thousand dollars and then– And then we came

We knew that CPMs were a thing We knew that there was a way to get paid based on performance because of Rever, that website at the time was actually paying people for their videos and their performance, which no one was watching our videos over there But we knew that there was the concept of this cost per million views or whatever, getting some money back So we did that, we wrote a song about how iPods die, called "The Dead iPod Song," we asked our friend, iJustine to collaborate in the video so we could get more views ♪ You pressed the power button ♪ ♪ And what happened was nothin' ♪ I think we even shared, I don't know if we shared some of the integration fee with her or if she just did it as a favor, but it wasn't that much either– Oh, I think we did

iRescuecom repairs iPods, so that was perfect Yeah, they got us off the ground They were the only ones besides ourselves who believed in this But then from there, we got a call to be a part of an Alka Seltzer campaign, which was a bonafide ad agency

Well, that was a big transition That was a big transition I think that was the transition from us having to go out and find these people ourselves to doing it the way that we've done it ever since, which is fielding the opportunities usually either directly from a business or through an agency And that won in 2008, 21 videos for the Alka Seltzer a great American road trip where we went along the, we took an RV trip across the United States and made 21 videos that were food themed, and that was the beginning of us understanding like, oh, okay, once you get your work out there and people see that you're incorporating companies into it, maybe the people will come to us with the integrations and that's what happened, and we basically have never looked back I think that nexus that you're talking about was that we were able to do it in a way that wasn't cringy and we were communicating with our audience at the time

We were telling the Mythical Beasts, "Hey, we wouldn't be "able to make this level of content with this type of "production value if we didn't have the sponsors, "so go support them" And we're very grateful for the sponsors and we conveyed that to the audience And I think that it was, it was in no way cringy, it worked for everybody And so it led to more opportunities Once you start working with agencies, that thing starts happening

When we started making, I mean, Commercial Kings wouldn't exist if it wasn't first for a sponsor, Microbilt The CEO was a fan, he started communicating with us, he sponsored one little video, it went well So then we hatched the idea to start making intentionally bad local commercials for his customer base who were small businesses And who knew that a few weeks later you'd be interviewed on CNN and talking about selling furniture? The vice president of RhettandLinKreations on the line So that led to everything, that led to Commercial Kings, that led to us moving to California

So again, I think that if you're out there listening to this and you want your particular skill to be translated into a business opportunity, I do think that, and this is not a simple question, it's a simple thing to ask yourself, it's not a simple thing to do, but just do you have something that people, that you can do, that you're uniquely good at, that people are willing to pay for? And it sounds almost too simplistic, but we had to start there because we didn't have a choice except to go back and try to use our engineering degrees again, which wasn't something that we were interested in doing We got some other lessons, but first, just wanna give a quick plug to mythicalcom, we've got lots of grooming stuff over there You can groom your lips with lip balm, is that considered grooming? Technically, and I want to acknowledge that I may not look like the kind of person who should represent grooming as a concept, I may seem not well-groomed, but that does not mean that our grooming products are not top of the line We got pomade, we got beard oil, we got lip balm

And they're all incredibly high quality, they smell good, they make you smell good, they work effectively Try it out And they're all available at mythicalcom Gifted, rep your boys

All right, let's get into the next lesson I think one of the ways that we tended to approach everything, and maybe this was born out of desperation a little bit, was we were always looking for another opportunity that we could see, is once people started coming to us and asking us to do things, it was not that we said yes to everything, but that we had this belief that not doing something won't lead to anything It's doing things that will lead to things I will be more specific and say that at the time, we didn't know that we've learned that lesson looking back, I don't think we understood that at the time because typically, with a couple of examples that we'll talk about, we started to do things with some intention We thought that something might come from them and it was very rarely the thing that we intended initially that was the result

It was almost always just the decision to do something that then led to the thing that we actually ended up doing Sure I mean, we didn't know that taking the sponsorship to make local commercials would lead to us having a television show on IFC and moving to Los Angeles But we never would have realized that if we didn't give everything we got to those commercials, some of which a few of them sucked, but a few of them really popped and it made all the difference in the world Good Morning Chia Lincoln is another great example

Good Morning Chia Lincoln 2011, we made the decision to start what was a daily show, the two of us sitting at a card table talking about whatever we had been talking about when we came into work We made the decision to do that simply because we had already decided that we were gonna go and shoot Commercial Kings and we thought, "Well, this might be "this opportunity to make a television show "and we're gonna move to California" A lot of things were up in the air, but we knew that it was a very real possibility We didn't know what that was gonna mean for YouTube, but one of the things that have been happening over the past couple of years on YouTube that we had never participated in at all was a regular daily video People were doing daily blogs at the time and their audiences and their viewers were increasing exponentially because it seemed like people wanted a daily point of contact

Now we knew he didn't want to make daily blogs or family blogs at the time, but we were like, "What can we do every single day?" And the answer was, Good Morning Chia Lincoln But we said from the beginning that it would end only as long as a Chia Lincoln would stay alive, which is about 40 days apparently, which is how long the show lasted 'Cause we knew we'd be working on the pilot to Commercial Kings and also we didn't want people to get attached to it if it wasn't something that we were gonna continue forever So we just put an end date at the beginning knowing that if we wanted to continue it, we could Of course we didn't continue it until after Commercial Kings wasn't reordered for a second season

We found ourselves living in Los Angeles, feeling like we were back at square one again, trying to develop a new business strategy and that was going back to sponsorships and get in that role and again with music videos, but then also, developing contact with the Mythical Beast and re-instituting Good Morning Chia Lincoln as Good Mythical Morning Again, not knowing what it would lead to except that it would span the gaps in between our high production music videos where we were actually making money Well, one thing I think we did know, we had begun to learn that lesson a little bit having done Good Morning Chia Lincoln and we knew that people responded to it and we knew that we were good at it We knew that we could sit down and we could talk about something for 10 minutes We discovered it by trying it

So when you watch that first episode of Good Mythical Morning, I actually saw somebody tweet just this little slice of the video, the very beginning of the video, we're talking about Good Mythical Morning in this aspirational way and we're saying, "We hope that this is the beginning of something special, "something that you will make a part of your daily routine" And I think the reason that we were saying that is because we actually believed it based on this previous experience Then hey, our audience has connected with this, and now we're formalizing it and saying that we're making an indefinite commitment to doing the show for however long and we're still doing it And it was based on that having just made the decision to do Good Morning Chia Lincoln But a huge piece that's a part of the story is, we started doing GMM, but then after doing a couple of seasons of GMM, YouTube came to us with the creative innovation program where they were basically giving people money to make things

And we had a pretty good relationship with YouTube at the time They said, "Hey, do you guys have any ideas?" And we reacted to that by saying, "Yeah, we've got an idea "to do a variety show called "The Mythical Show," it's a half hour long show featuring sketch and music videos and weird games and stuff like that, taking everything that we had done thus far on YouTube and combining it into one product And at that point, we of course needed help to make the show, so that was when we hired Stevie, who they hired some other people to then build the team out for that 'Cause we had a budget All of a sudden, we were given a chunk of money for the first time upfront to make, we were commissioned to make a show and not just to make an integration with the sponsor YouTube was investing in order to see what they could learn from longer form content on the platform

So we hired Stevie just to make those 10 episodes and we also hired her to– 12 12, and then to build out the team So she immediately turned around and hired Ben, who's still working for us and he started to build out the team from there Well I specifically remember 12 because just this may be of interest to you if you're in the video world But I remember me and you sat down 'cause they were like, "Well, come up with a budget, how much money do you need?" And we sat down and we budgeted everything out

Now we have been making videos for nothing So we budgeted everything out and then we added like a 20% buffer and we still landed at $100,000 total Which may sound like a lot of money– For 12 half hour episodes– But that's nothing for 12 half hour Is not a lot of money as we discovered very quickly for a half hour of what is essentially television, which at least in the first episode, had a studio audience So we quickly took the studio audience out, we didn't kill them, but we took them out because no one liked it We could've probably benefited from some advice around pricing of that type of thing because we had negotiated– We should have consulted someone

Yeah, I mean, Stevie as a producer, we didn't bring her on until we had negotiated We came up with a budget Oh, you know what YouTube was thinking when we said $100,000, they were like, "We could have said $500,000," and they would have probably still thought it was a deal We just didn't know But we thought just if you go back, you can still find the Mythical Show

There's still our hardcore fans, still like the show and see it as a sweet, awesome time I know you like it But the reality is that we thought that we had come up with something that wasn't just a good product We thought that we had come up with something that was going to change the landscape of YouTube In fact, the tagline of the show was your half hour of not having to click around on the internet We thought we were gonna change the habits of people on YouTube

And at the time in 2012, people were making three minute videos If you went above three minutes, it was like, ah, this is weird, I don't know if I can hang on Nowadays people will make 20 minute videos and everybody watches them But at the time, everybody was doing these short videos, so we were going against the grain, we thought we were gonna change the way people behaved, but it didn't happen No one really cared about the show beyond our immediate fan base

But again, it's the only reason that we started growing from that point on because we had to hire Stevie who then had to hire a team, and that was really the beginning of the totally new phase of business, which was when we began to delegate responsibility and have a team Yeah, I think that's the big lesson that we had to start learning, which was we had to learn to trust others with our vision And with Stevie, with Ben, with hiring, we hired Jen to start helping tweet for us and do social media, it's like, oh, we can't do everything any more, and we started building the team from there Trust was incremental Stevie was gonna do those 12 episodes, but then we started to discover that, hey, we work well together

She brings a lot of strengths, she thinks through things in a way that we don't and she executes things too in a way that we couldn't, and it frees us up in a way that we only dreamed about or we didn't even give ourselves permission to dream about That was not an easy thing No And as we've talked to creators over the years, especially back on this podcast, on Ear Biscuits, when we used to interview other creators, what we learned is that this is the common challenge for every creator, which is trusting somebody else It's something as simple as trusting somebody with an edit

If you keep doing it, you're gonna always be doing it It's you never learn to stop, you never learn that someone else can do it unless you give someone else a shot at doing it and you may have to go through a few people We didn't know that, we didn't know that I guess what I'm saying is I think the Mythical Show was the beginning of that lesson learned because for Mythical Show, we were over the shoulder of the editor, we were making very specific decisions about the edit, we put our heart and soul into that But then by the time we got to the end of that, almost by necessity, we were like, "This is too much "content, we can't do everything "and we can't be responsible for everything

" And by the way, everything that Stevie has come in and contributed to and overseen, she's done an incredible job So then once the Mythical Show was over and we made the transition back into Good Mythical Morning, it was easy for us at that point to say, you know what, I don't think we're going to actually watch the edit, 'cause this is a daily show, I mean this is gonna be a big part of your day if you're gonna be responsible for making the show and then sitting down and helping to put together the edit and improve the edit At that point after the Mythical Show, we set that aside and again, we saw the show continued to grow and to get better and to grow audience without having to be super involved in every single aspect Jason, who was working for us through the Mythical Show and then when we restarted Good Mythical Morning, like I said, we were over his shoulder like you said, as he was editing So that was an incremental level of trust, then with Stevie we were able to build on that, and then you add more people to the team and you start to realize that people can do things better than we can

And slowly, you move to a point where you start to, we were able to start to focus on the things that we wanted to do and the things that we wanted to bite off and try to figure out, and it drove us to trust people even more because we'd started to learn that lesson And I think that in some ways, we're constantly learning and applying that lesson of, what else do we wanna be doing with our time that we will be the best at? What else are we doing right now that we can ask someone else to do and give them an opportunity to do it better, to delegate? So it's– Well, we asked ourselves that question I would say one of the biggest exercises, the most important exercises that we do every year, we do it multiple times a year, but there's a time every single year where we sit down and we look at everything that we've done, we look back at our schedule and we think, what did we do this year that we don't have to do this year? What did we do last year that we don't have to do this year? So it's like– And who else can we trust? At one point it's like if I'm sitting there and I'm like, why am I sketching out a concept for a t-shirt when that's not what I really wanna be doing right now? I can get excited about it– And we're not good at it Yeah, we're definitely not as good at it as Caleb, who's working for us now and Feldman, who's working with him and that entire team with Dana and then, hey, you got this team, you need someone to start to manage this team So you bring in somebody like Raz and you start to build a team of people who can give focus and they can also pour their passion into it in a way that we were just trying to get it done

And if we pour too much passion into it, it will be the wrong type of investment Well it's the transition from getting people to do exactly what you want them to do to getting them, to inspiring them to do what they can actually do better and that they want to do And that's been a slow incremental process, but now, using Merck as an example, we see the t-shirt designs when you see the t-shirt designs, we see them when they're in the store most of the time And multiple things, it's like I've got the three different Good Mythical Morning mugs right here And again, these were on the desk and I know you tend to, it's more difficult for you to take yourself out of the details

But for me, the first time I saw these mugs was when they were on our desk on the show And I saw them once, and I gave a limited amount of notes but that was a level of discipline that I've learned And I've also learned to trust them that they can design something that is gonna connect with Mythical Beast even better than I can And that's just something I had to change my mind about, and I think it may seem weird to say that, it's like well people are attracted to what we're creating but we just try to be, it's what our, I'm proud of what we as a team create, and I also trust them to come up with the stuff that's gonna connect and they prove themselves again and again And that doesn't mean we're not involved

I do wanna, 'cause there is a balance here, so the thing is that again, still using this whole merchandise thing and really you can use anything as an example because we're not making films, we're making internet content So if we see something and it gets out there on the internet and then we are like, I don't like the way that looks or I don't like the general direction that this is going, that's actually where we get involved because we are watching a lot of stuff that we're doing, we're analyzing people's reactions to it And so when we think that there needs to be a shift in a certain direction in any one of these departments, we do get involved at that point knowing that hey, you can course correct, it's not that big of a deal So it's not like we're completely hands off, but the development and the execution of those things on a very minute level is something that we have necessarily removed ourselves from, and we're just managing it from a higher vantage point I think you're also touching on the fact that we're not just developing let's say a t-shirt design, we're developing a t-shirt designer who can then embody Mythicality from scratch and Caleb can express himself and have fun collaborating with his team and with his team leader and present something to us that is surprising and that connects, but also sometimes doesn't, and then that's a lesson, you can't tell somebody something and let them learn, you've gotta experience that, you learn that as parents, at some point the kids gotta jump out of the nest

I have a nest in the backyard, I make my kids jump out of it, it's kind of a bird analogy I thought you were talking about your birds, I thought you were talking about your family of birds that you've been raising No, it's my family of humans I've to make them to learn how to jump out of the metaphorical nest, I pushed them out of a physical nest that I've built in the backyard That sounds like a product that we could sell

Tell me nests Think about Mythical Kitchen I think that's another very current example of that team developing content within certain parameters and vision that we've helped set up that in order for Mythical Kitchen to really develop a life of its own, it needs to be an expression of Josh in that team working together to passionately put stuff out into the world to recreate the experience that we've had and we'll continue to have on the content that we're directly working on Not only do they know the kind of content that would work from a culinary entertainment standpoint better than we do because that's what Josh would have lives and breathes, they're also better at executing it I think that our role in that was just knowing that we wanted to develop our culinary team to the place where they're not just making food for Good Mythical Morning, but they are also, this is an opportunity to create content that a whole new fan or also existing fans could connect with because people like this kind of food-based content

And then helping to empower Josh to see his potential as somebody who could have his own audience That was pretty much the vision, the nebulous vision that we had But then the specific execution of well, what is gonna be on the channel and what the nature of the video is going to be, that's the Mythical Kitchen team with the help of Stevie leading things creatively and then working together as a creative team, that is something that we're just shepherding loosely and it's a better product because of that Because as soon as, I mean, have you spent a bunch of time watching recipe videos on the internet? No, have I? No Maybe more than you have, but not enough, it's not like I'm an expert on that

But now we can see what the content is and we can offer some feedback, but again we don't have the time or the ability, it wouldn't happen if we insisted on being the ones who were involved, it would never happen And if it did happen, it wouldn't be as good as it is right now I think another shift that we've made, just to move to a new lesson learned, is shifting from being solely reactive to being proactive I guess it's not saying much to say if you're running a company, you should have a plan and you should think into the future It's been extremely difficult as you're walking on the sidewalk of internetainment, you can see it forming right beneath your toes

There's not a lot of people that have gone before us that we can emulate So it has been difficult to take a longterm approach or to have that proactive stance when it's like, I don't know what the next opportunity is and we just need to say yes because saying no leads to nothing It's like well, at a certain point, we got it, we got to think, more forward And as difficult as it is to develop a three year or five year plan, we are getting better at laying out our longterm vision, knowing that it's gotta be flexible given the environment that we're in But I think an example of this that crystallizes it down is the way that we have grown in terms of the physical space that we're in as a team

So going from, of course we had the basement and then the studio and Fuquay but moving out to California where all of a sudden the mortgage on my home was, or the rent on my home was five times what the mortgage on my home in North Carolina was, or six times, things were suddenly very different and it wasn't like, oh, I can pay this rent and also we can have a studio Like no, we weren't making enough money for that So we thankfully had a garage that we were in at the time and of course it was the two of us and Jason in there, and then even the first meeting that we had with Stevie at her first day of work, she was in there with us and we were very quickly realizing that this is not gonna cut it, we gotta have a space, but we're so conservative in the way that we estimated what we're gonna have to pay and we were operating, I would say fear based It was practical, but it was a little bit like don't bite off more than you can chew So do you remember that first time that we went out and looked at different spaces in Burbank before we found the first spot? Well, I specifically remember looking at that place, I don't know what street it's on, but it's like a storefront, it has like a glass front, it looks like a hair salon and it's on a major thoroughfare that people could just walk in, which incidentally is what we had in Fuquay, but Fuquay is not Los Angeles

And I remember seriously considering that and of course what we ended up going with was a very nondescript place that no one would ever, even though people did knock on the door every once in a while, I don't even know what that place was, but– Downstairs is where we had a room to build a set for Good Mythical Morning Set is a very loose term there It was a dedicated place where we could go downstairs and film episodes of the show and then we could go back upstairs and just work at our desks, 'cause it's not like we had to turn the camera in and it's not like we had to set up the camera so that our desks were in the background, this was definitely a step up And we got to a place within a few years of being in that spot where everyone was working pretty much on top of one another We had not literally stacked desks on top of each other, but that was the only logical place to go next

And so we were like, "Okay, let's look for a new space" And do you remember the place that we were very close to renting? Yeah, the guitarist for the doors, the Jim Morrison band, the doors was renting a storefront We never met him, but the agent showed us around and in the back, it was just like a cement slab and it was on air conditioned, but we were like, "Well, we can build two sets back here" I mean it's on air conditioning so it's gonna get to like 110 degrees It was very warehousing

It had a giant beam that went through, there was a giant beam that went through it, remember there was this conversation about what we could do with that giant beam 'cause it was gonna be in all the shots, it was– It was just storage They were shipping stuff, they had shelving, it would've been horrible, it would've been a downgrade, but we were seriously considering it But we were, no, we weren't just seriously considering it, we got down to the place where we said, "If this guy is willing to do this, "if the landlord is willing to do this one alteration, "then we'll rent it" In the meantime, while we were waiting on an answer back for that, we went to the studio that we're currently in and now this was a legitimate studio It had a real set with soundproofing, television shows had been shot on this set

It had a recording studio, it had all these things that we needed and wanted, but we were looking at it not, we weren't really looking at it to consider it, we were looking at it because our realtor like, "Here's another spot, this is way out of your price range, "but you should look at it just and see "that what's available" And I remember walking around our space and thinking, man, this is awesome, but I can't imagine, I can't imagine filling this place up with people, I can't imagine getting to a, how could we ever get to a place where we would have enough people to work in this place? And then I think me and you were on the same page, which was we can't afford this and it's too big, and then Ben, who was working for us at the time, I remember he pulled us aside and he was like, "Guys, I know that the place that we looked at," 'cause everybody, we all went together to look at the places 'cause it was our very small team "I know that the place that we looked at yesterday "is like the Ferrari of studios, at least in our minds" "And I know that it seems like it might be too much, "but I just wanna say that," I can't remember his exact words, but it was essentially, I know that we could use it and I believe that we could do great things there And I just want to, almost from a technical perspective as your cinematographer, the guy who makes things look a certain way, I just want to let you know that this would be the real deal and we ended up doing it

And it made a difference And he was right We ended up, when the other side of the building came up for lease, we had a different mentality We were like, "Okay when would there be an opportunity "to rent the contiguous space and double our capacity, "it will not happen again if somebody else scoops this up" So it was like that really worked out

Well, we didn't have an idea at the, again by that time like you said, our mentality had changed We got into the space, we used it, we quickly got to capacity there 'cause that seems to be what always happens And then when that space next door became available, we didn't have any plans for expansion, we didn't have any specific ideas to fill it, but it was one of the first things that we've done that was a bigger risk that was very proactive And it wasn't waiting for somebody to come along with an idea or an opportunity that we can then execute in that space, it was very much, let's get the space and let's expect the opportunity And lo and behold, right after we started renting it, like literally months after we made the decision to rent it, YouTube came along and said, "Hey, we wanna fund a bigger "version of GMM," and that was when all of a sudden we had to hire like 50 people and we had to put them somewhere and lo and behold, we had the space next door

And just to move on to the next lesson, it's interesting how our culture evolved and how our understanding of what it meant to be leaders in a growing company and how to tackle the challenges of actually providing leadership and how to give our vision to our employees and then empower them and then just shape a culture where we could continue to work together and achieve our goals and also the ideas that they could come up with There was a lot of adjustments in there that we really started to come to grips with We are running a business here and I think a lot of the culture The lesson very specifically is that we learned that we had a culture That wasn't something that we had ever thought about

We had been two guys who were executing a vision, trying to create things and hiring people to contribute directly to that and empowering them and delegating But it wasn't until we got to about 20 people when it started to really hit us I remember, we were still doing things like, still doing the books ourselves and just it was like we were unwilling to admit that we had a business, it was a small business, but we had a small business and that intentionally or otherwise, we had established a certain culture and people could read it, but it wasn't something that we were doing on purpose, it was something that was just happening based on our personnel And I think when we hired Brian, a very strategic hire for us as our chief operating officer and head of business development, he was able to bring a perspective into all of the conversations that we would have in terms of opportunities to start to understand and reshape our culture Because we had this family atmosphere when you would just hire people and they would be just as much friends as they would be employees

And like you said, when you get to about 20 people, we personally don't know what every person's working on from day to day, we're zoomed out from that And we started to become interested in instituting another level of accountability where it's not just, hey, if we hire you, you're a member of the family, no matter what, basically, accountability was lax and there wasn't specific goals in mind So there was a shift that Brian really helped us lock into from moving from a family culture to a team culture And that can sound, just wanted to acknowledge, that may sound, oh, that sounds a little bit harsh, you mean it's not a family anymore? But I think that, this was a helpful way for me to understand it because I was initially resistant to the idea because we're nice guys and we're actually pretty conflict avoidant and we're very loyal and I think that those can be good to a certain degree But what we were finding is that if you think about a family like, okay, here in my family, especially as we're isolated here, it's like everybody's expected to do things, the kids have their days where they're supposed to clean their rooms or unload the dishwasher and they don't always do that

No, they don't do that Does that mean And even if one of my kids decided that they were gonna refuse to ever do their part, will they no longer be my son? No, they're still gonna live here and we'll get through it, they're still a part of the family

But if you run a business like that, you run into some pretty obvious problems But if you shift to a team mentality, it's like, okay, when you think about an athletic team, it's like, okay, the people who are on the team are the ones who believe in the vision, are team players, but also can execute and do things well It's like you get to be a part of the starting five if you're one of the best players and you get to be actually on the team if you're a contributing player And if you can't contribute or if you just refuse, there's no birthright to being a part of the team, it means that we might have a difficult conversation and we might have the ultimate difficult conversation which is to say we're gonna have to part ways And I think we learned that there is such a thing as a cultural fit that not every single person that we think will work will work

And just as often, that person will be the one to discover what I'm actually interested in and what I'm most gifted at and where I want to invest my passions is not in alignment or it doesn't, it's not, I'm not a puzzle piece that fits here As we started to discover that, we started to set expectations So when we would bring someone new onto the team, we would say, "Okay, our policy is there's basically "a six week trial "At the six week mark, we're gonna have an assessment "and it's gonna be a conversation both ways, "just to know if this is gonna work or not" Because you just can't hire somebody even in the most diligent way and know if it's gonna work out

It's not reasonable, but I think that we were bringing this mentality that, hey, if you're here, you're here for life And we got that feedback from some people that we brought on on a contract basis just to work, or that's how they wanted to work, especially in this town So we learned from that and I think we started to benefit from that expectation that six weeks down, we're gonna have this assessment to see if this is a good fit for everyone Well, another piece of that is this idea of very direct candid communication, and continues to be a difficult thing for us to do just naturally because we're not those kinds of bosses But it's an important thing again if you're the coach of a team and you're watching your player do something or you're watching the tape back, you wanna be like, hey, come here, take a look at this, you see what you did there? I'd rather you do this

That's not the way you communicate with your family 'cause if you do, if you try to, and I'm guilty of this sometimes and I'm sure you are as well Sometimes I'll go into business leader mode in my family in trying to get my kids to do things and it doesn't work in a family atmosphere where everybody knows that they're gonna be here forever But on the team atmosphere, it's like, hey listen, no, this is actually your compensation and your longevity at this company are based on your contribution to the bottom line in a lot of ways, and so we're gonna have to have some difficult conversations from time to time and that that can become just an expectation and a part of your culture, the healthier everything's gonna be, not easy to get there I think we got into problems when we wouldn't think someone was a good fit or they wouldn't beat their performance, just consistently wouldn't meet our standards or our goals, then it was hard to have those conversations But when we didn't have them and we skirted the issue, it made everything worse

And then we're talking about partying ways and somebody feels blindsided and sometimes you have to learn lessons, we had to learn some lessons in a more painful way And there's a right way to talk about it, but not talking about it is bad news I think another thing that we had to come to grips with was we couldn't just lead by osmosis of what our demeanor was and the fact that we would show up as performers because people would interact with us when we were performing, shooting Good Mythical Morning and other things But there was also an interaction that we needed to have as leaders and being visible as our company grew, especially to 80 people of, okay they are providing leadership, I understand what this company is ultimately interested in and made up to be and what is the culture and what's the vibe and what does the company care about, because what do Rhett and Link care about? And do they care about me? All of those things led to making practical decisions like having a company-wide meeting every month That for month after month, we would have to convince ourselves that we needed to keep having it because we had to realize there was value in everyone hearing from us and then realizing there's things that we could bring to the table in terms of giving perspective on here's an anecdote that we heard from a Mythical Beast

We're gonna share it with all of you in order to help you understand the difference that all of the work that we're doing makes in people's lives Even if some people knew it here or there, it's helpful for them to hear it from us and just to hear and experience our passion for what we're working on But also to have a little bit of fun, I mean I don't know how we started opening every meeting with people share if they've had a run in with a celebrity, like a fight, like a lot of people who work for us, they get in brawls with celebrities No, they just spot celebrities So I wouldn't call that a running

I think somebody just told a story at one point and then, yeah, now it's how we open every meeting and there's always, when you got a company that size and you're in Los Angeles, without fail, someone has seen a celebrity and it's almost always a funny interaction or a situation And it's fun and it's connecting And then we go through an agenda of all the different areas and what milestones and things that we're excited about night, and it took a while for us to realize that there was value in that It took us awhile to realize there was value in it because again, there's been a slow transition over the years of us seeing what we were building at Mythical Entertainment as a vehicle to allow us to do the things that we were most creatively excited about Again, we didn't get in this to be business people, we got in this to be creators

But then once you realize you've got this business that needs to be led and you have to be involved, sometimes you have to say, okay, well I'm actually not going to be able to just throw myself into this creative project and just be the artist guy all the time that can come in when he wants to and just waits until he's inspired It's like, no, you actually have to provide the structure and the leadership for a company to be healthy And so those are two different things in two different modes And so a lot of this just comes down to scheduling for us and making sure that, okay, now we've got the meeting, we gotta be ready for it Do you think that when we have our company wide meeting and there's the big boardroom table and everybody's around the table and then in the bleachers behind the table and here we are both seated next to each other, shoulder to shoulder, behind the table facing them, not unlike, we would sit behind the GMM desk and then there's like the business banter version of Good Mythical Morning, I wonder if they feel like it's a bit of a business show

Not that it's fake or that it's insincere I don't think they would think that, but just that it's a bit like the business version of GMM I'm sure that it's a little unusual for like an intern who has been watching the show and then they come to the first meeting and, oh they're just sitting at a desk like they do other shows I've never really thought about it, but yeah, but it's not as entertaining as the show No

For sure No And it doesn't need to be, that's not what it's about I'd say another aspect of this is that, so we're still learning a bunch of lessons about that, about what it means to try to be creative and try to lead a company and we have a lot to learn But because we have sorted out some of this and learned some of these lessons and put some of these things in place and we felt like we had gotten to a place where it was like there's a nice balance of having creative freedom but being able to provide leadership but also being able to entrust people to lead teams really efficiently and to create a great product, that made the decision to acquire Smosh last year an easier decision for us

Again, not something we ever set out to do, we never thought we were gonna be acquiring other internet businesses And even if you had to ask us at the beginning of the year that we did that, we would have been like, you know what, that's not something we're interested in It was serendipitous, we told that story about how everything aligned up perfectly But because we had a culture and we had a system in place, it wasn't that big of a stretch to incorporate a whole other team, a whole other company into our company and apply a lot of the same principles because we had gotten to a place where we were comfortable with people who had their own creative vision In fact, that was what we were after

And we just were like, but here's the business structure and the production side of things that you can put in place to make your content dreams come true, but you guys are the ones that are gonna have to be in charge of the creative, you know your fan base, you've got more subscribers than we do, you've been doing this for longer than us And that was an interesting experiment of just being able to say, all right, let's take the things that we've learned and apply those lessons to this acquisition But we've already got creatively motivated people in place and I think that that's one of the reasons that it's worked so well for both sides And I think hearing feedback from Ian and from Smosh, it makes me feel good when they talk about the contrast from their experience before to being under the wings of Mythical because they describe it as a different experience being in a creator led company And I really think it comes down to, there's definitely business accountability and there's lots of structure and there are of course corporate aspects to what we do now, with these many people, there has to be

But it's all built on the foundation of belief that if you're passionately expressing yourself in a way that's committed to reaching your audience and connecting with them honestly, and you've got a proven track record, that's earned trust So the creative quotient is a lot higher than in some companies where it's just, okay, we might, I don't know how other companies would do it in terms of how they would calculate and factor in creative decisions But there's just a level of trust and belief there, subject to parameters and this doesn't just apply to Smosh, it applies to us and we just convey it to them as well that that's what leads to success You can't underestimate the creative component and the passion involved in it And the latest aspect of this, recognizing that you have a culture, embracing that culture and trying to shape that culture that's been put into a bit of a test with what's happened with the coronavirus and we're very much as you can tell by the fact that we're at home, we're obeying the social distancing requirements and no one is working at the office, everybody's working from home

And that's created its own unique challenges from a technical perspective, which we've overcome, but it's been a unique challenge in terms of the cultural aspect of the company because what is the culture now when everyone is just at home all day and communicating via video conference? So I think one of the things that we decided to do early on is like, well let's have our company-wide meeting, but let's do it as a big Zoom call and everybody's gonna be on there, and it was interestingly or surprisingly connecting and we got a lot of feedback from people We did the thing that we always do, we started it off asking people to tell celebrity spotting stories There was actually one, somebody saw John Ham on a balcony, and it's like it's a sort of a different flavor when we're all social distancing But what we realize is that having made the decision to set up this regular touch point where we're communicating with our company and our company is communicating with each other, it wasn't a difficult thing to carry that into this weird time, that we're just talking on video conference But there was an added weight to it just coming to the realization that this was a leadership moment where we could communicate what the plan was and give as much as we could, a sense of security like okay, we are moving forward

This is a difficult and trying time but we're in this together So yeah, there was, it's like I feel needed as a leader, I feel like this is an opportunity for us and it's not easy I think when you look at this scenario or looking back on everything, there was never a point where we felt fully ready Saying that we were blindsided by the CEO ness of it all is something that you just, you take every day and you take every opportunity for what it is and we learn from our mistakes and we try to learn from everything I think these lessons again are still for us as we're continuing to learn and hone those and

I don't know, especially in light of what we're dealing with now, I just have this added perspective of it's a privilege to be able to lead a company even though I never knew I wanted to do that and sometimes it's still very frustrating and it doesn't seem like the main thing that I wanna be working on, I do have this sense that it's not only a weighty obligation, but it's a privilege to do that and to shape a culture and a company that not only cares about what we're creating, but it cares about, and we care about all the people that we're working with And as certainly, I'm as grateful as I've ever been for everybody who works for us, given what we're going through right now And I think that's a good way to wrap it up with one final lesson, and that is, we're having to learn to always be looking for the lesson that we're currently learning

A lot of these lessons are things that you don't see them until you look back until there's some perspective after the fact But I think that over time you get a little bit better at being like, oh, actually, there's a lesson happening right now If I can actually figure out what it is and anticipate it and learn it right now, then we can begin to apply it And I think that this crisis and this change, the way that our company has been forced to adapt, we're learning new lessons The big thing that we've been trying to do in more recent years is figuring out what does Mythical mean beyond just the two of us? What does it mean in terms of content? What does it mean in terms of just the company and the leadership? And there's only so much that the two of us can accomplish as leaders and as creators, but the concept of Mythical, thanks to our incredible team and also to the incredible fans who have bought into what we're doing

It's given us, we're learning this lesson that hold on, whether we want it to be or not, this is already bigger than us But how do you manage that wisely and how do you continue to grow it in a way that it doesn't lose what makes Mythical Mythical and continues to give us opportunities to, we still want to personally create things that are awesome We're not done creating new things It's not like we're about to walk off into the sunset and say, hey, this is what we've made and now we're done, we still, and we probably always will think this way, we still think our best work is ahead of us But also, we've been forced to embrace the fact that oh, this Mythical thing is just happened and it has a lot of potential, let's do this wisely, let's deliver

I think our best work now that we come to grips with it also includes prioritizing not only our own health, but the health of our team, that they're not just employees, but they're people And if creating a culture is something that I am increasingly passionate about because it's a great opportunity and also to continue to make things that make a difference It's not just making this stuff we wanna make, but making it in a way that continues to make a difference in people's lives and like you said, continuing to learn lessons along the way from not only our successes but our shortcomings So it's an amazing position that we find ourselves in and I'm very grateful for it Very

You got any other lessons or you just have a wreck? Oh, yeah Well just to get very practical, at the top of the year, we took all of our team leaders and we said, "Let's go through a book together that we can discuss "in how we can all be better leaders" And so I recommend that book to you, it's called "The Making of a Manager" by Julie Zhuo, last name is spelled Z-H-U-O If you're interested in tackling some of those issues about how to inspire the best and as you manage people or manage people who manage people or you're managed by people, "The Making of a Manager" is my recommendation And I think it's very helpful, especially for people who find themselves thrust into a new position of having to lead, which is something that starts happening as companies grow

You go from everybody doing their own thing to like, oh, now I've got a team It's super practical, easy read, very helpful I also recommend it Well, thanks for coming on this business journey with us, use hashtag EarBiscuits as always to continue the conversation I'm curious what stood out to you or how our conversation has been mirrored in your own experience, or I just gave you food for thought even outside of the business world

And also let us know just as a concept of getting into this kind of thing, which as Link hinted at the beginning, it isn't necessarily for everybody, not everybody is directly interested or involved in this kind of thing But did you find this information intriguing or interesting, even if you don't have a business of your own? 'Cause we could keep talking about lessons that we're learning in the future All right, well, we'll speak out to you next week You're fired! Just kidding I've never actually said that to anybody

To watch more Ear Biscuits, click on the playlist on the right To watch the previous episode of Ear Biscuits, click on the playlist to the left And don't forget to click on the circular icon to subscribe If you prefer to listen to this podcast, it's available on all your favorite podcast platforms Thanks for being your Mythical Beast

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