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Episode 11

James Pendergrass

Join us as we talk with Netflix reality star and budding influencer, James Pendergrass, about expanding your creator skill set and staying relatable above all. In this episode, James chats about persevering through the slow periods that every creator faces, and emerging stronger by being true to yourself. We also discuss the importance of using your social platforms to make a positive impact and help the world around you. Tune in for inspiring anecdotes and a refreshing perspective on what it’s like being a content creator with a passion for fitness, fashion, basketball, and mental health. Follow James across social @jamespendergrass_.

Later Beyond Influence Podcast with James Pendergrass

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Oops! Our video transcriptions might have a few quirks since they’re hot off the press. Rest assured, the good stuff is all there, even if the occasional typo slips through. Thanks for understanding!


Hey, everybody! Welcome to this week's episode of Beyond Influence. I am your host Kwame.


Hey, everyone, this is Scott Sutton, glad to be here today. I got an amazing guest. I woke up this morning and hit the gym. Like, change has been definitely motivating. so excited to get in this one.


Yes, yes. And, before we get started today, I just wanted to make sure to bring a bit of attention to Men's Mental Health Month. Obviously, it is something that kind of gets overlooked on occasion. Men are four times more likely to commit suicide, and I think one of the main reasons for that is the societal pressures and the difficulty and just finding someone to talk to and be open about it.

And so we want to bring awareness to that. James and I are big believers in making sure that you speak out. I know Scott is as well. And so it's, it's three guys in this call who are very, very, bent on making sure that everyone focuses well on their mental health. So I'm very, very happy to have James here with us today because he just put out a really important message about it.

So, James, how are you doing today? Man?


Man, I am blessed beyond measure. I am feeling good. I'm feeling great. God is good. Life is good. I really can't complain. I mean, I'm happy to be here with you guys. It's going to be a good time.


Yes, it will be. For anyone who doesn't know, James is a participant expert in Too Hot to Handle. one of the most exciting Netflix shows out there. He has then transitioned his life into content creation, focusing on health, fitness, mental fitness or mental health, and fashion spaces. So with all those things considered, he's got a lot of information to offer us today.


Yes, we do. We have a lot of information for you guys today. Today is going to be very fun, very special. I can't wait to, you know, debrief and talk a lot about what I do and how I can be better at helping you.


I'm curious, you know, coming off the show, you've been producing a lot of content, engaging, you know, building a really great audience. And it seems so natural, like it just seems like you're bringing the world along on the James journey. you know, talk about, like, before the show, like, you know, what is a normal what is the life of James looks like.

What are your passions? How did that translate through the show?


Oh, man, so before the show, I was actually in college. They picked me up right while I was in my junior year of college. and in my college years, I was the typical college kid. I was going to school having fun, you know, working out, going to the beach. But I don't say this enough, but I went to school in Hawaii.

I went to the University of Hawaii. So college was very, very different for me. but I was the loud, outgoing, and very energetic person that you see on the TV screen. And that's me in real life. I kind of carried that into the TV show by just being as authentic as I possibly could and just staying true to myself, not trying to change myself for the cameras or change myself for the people that were around me.

I have been a very authentic and genuine person throughout my entire life, and I continue to do it. And by that I.


Love to hear it. Man. so tidbits about college life. Did you play ball in college? Because you seem to be pretty good.


Thank you, thank you, thank you, Sam. Compare me to Michael Jordan, you know, in my office. But you know, we're not going to touch on that today. but, yes, I played college basketball. I played at the University of Hawaii, and I played in junior college at Orange Coast College in Orange County. So I've definitely played basketball my entire life.

That's been my main sport. And yeah, everybody sees me and they say, you play football. And my answer is no. I'm a hooper at heart, 100%.


Yeah, you definitely look like a football player, I will say, and. I think, you know, we'll.

We'll get into the bigger picture of everything. But I do like to touch on early life stuff. What got you into basketball in the first place?


so I grew up in Dallas, Texas, and the main person that Dallas, Texas revolved around was Dirk Nowitzki. If anyone if you guys don't know, Dirk Nowitzki is a seven foot German who came to the US and played for Dallas, and I grew up watching him my entire life. I had season tickets to every Mavs game for the entire time I lived there.

And so I watched him. I watched Kobe, I watched LeBron, that was always on in the house every night. And that's just kind of like how my life revolved around it.


I have to imagine the Texas to Hawaii Transition's got to be pretty wild.


Dude. It was one of the weirdest things I've ever experienced in my entire life. Mainly because I'm not used to seeing the ocean all the time.

Everywhere you look, there's just beautiful blue water and mountains and it's crazy hot every day. It's humid. It's it's. Let's just say it was a very rough adjustment, but we made it work. You made it work also.


So you came straight out of school and you got picked for this show. Were you still in school during filming or kind of how did that timeline go now?


So I was actually going into my finals week before I went onto the show, and that was probably one of the hardest things I've had to maneuver, was sweet talking my professors into giving me a different exam for every single class. So I had to take all my exams a week before, with not not the best amount of studying done, but, I don't know how I passed them all, but, yeah, it was definitely a tough challenge.

But once I got out of taking the test, I was going to Turks and Caicos, so I can't really complain.


And not too bad.


Yeah, yeah. Not bad at all. And obviously as you go through the show, you have, you know, your spotlight moment, you become part of the Netflix family. I'd love to know what life is like as a college student transitioning to graduating to becoming a Netflix star. Like, how did you take all of that? You know.


So believe it or not, the show came out a year after I was finished, so I didn't really get to experience what Netflix life was like on campus, but I could only imagine that would have been probably the craziest experience I ever had. I really wish that I could have experienced that and, you know, lived out that, I guess fantasy.

But the man just made me. I can go anywhere in the world right now, and people still know who I am. And that's honestly a blessing in disguise. So, I'm living it day by day.


So it's awesome. You know, you wrap up with the show, you have this, this whole new fan base. How active before the show were you on social media, or is it like, you know, you had to dive in? I'm sure. So the transition was like.


So during that time, we filmed the show in 2021, 21. And the show came out towards the end of 2022. So I had a whole year to prepare for being a content creator. So after I got done filming, I went straight into trying to learn how to be a content creator. I was posting 3 to 4 times a week.

I was sending out cold emails to brands. I was. I was learning how to be good at what I do now, and that was all like the practice I had until the show came out. And then boom, now you're officially a content creator. It was a very fun transition.


Yeah, that's, you know, that's super cool because, like, it's funny when I think about my journey into it. I remember the year leading up to it. I really did not like I did not think nearly as, I would say like strategically about, like landing on my feet as a content creator. I was just like, all right, this show is going to come out, and then something else is going to happen.

You know, having the knowledge to, like, start reaching out to brands and start, like already building those kinds of relationships and even, even if nothing works, you at least New Year templates and you knew what would at least get responses or reads. So I really loved that you were doing that. Now when you got closer to it, did you decide to go with a management company or an agency, or did you just say, I'm gonna do this one myself?


That's the funny thing. It's like when I, when the show came out, I was 23 years old and I hadn't been able to talk to anybody from the previous cast on how this actually worked. So my thoughts in my head, I was thinking, okay, the show's going to come out and all these management companies will be hitting me up, agencies will be hitting me up and it's going to be flooding my DMs.

That didn't happen. Didn't happen at all, actually. I maybe got hit up by two people, but that's a story for another day. So I had to do a lot of soul searching and try to figure out how I was going to go from this step to the next step in terms of getting more work done and how far my reach can actually go.

So I actually went out and set and got my own management company and my own modeling agency. When the show first came out. That was probably not the best experience because you're never supposed to take the first offer that comes. And that's what I did.

So it definitely, it definitely, bit me in the back a bit, but, I mean, it's a matter of trial and error. So, I mean, I learned to live and I like to tell stories now. So here's what it is.


I'm curious. And just as a lesson to new creators, like, what were some of the things you were to watch out for or maybe, like, protected yourself in the process?


I, I think what I would tell myself going back in time and where I was then was, know what you're trying to achieve before you go into these meetings, like, not have a preconceived notion of what you're trying to go after and what your goals are trying to be a what where you see yourself the next 3 to 5 years have that kind of in your mind to play and take that to the management companies and agencies and you market that and you say to them, this is what I want.

Can you do that? And if they start coming at you, you will see we've never done that before, but we've done this then that's pretty much your answer right there. but you kind of have to have a preconceived notion of what you want to achieve before you walk into those meetings.


Yeah. I think that's a beautiful evolution of becoming a content creator. Is that there? You know, previously, even in the last two, three, four years, there has been an abundance of growth in resources for people to understand, like what to look out for nowadays. Like I might I myself going into it, I didn't really like, I didn't know where to look or what to expect, but now it's it's really funny looking at season six, Love is Blind, participants like the minute their seasons came out, they like, already had like 3 or 4 ads ready.

So it means yeah. They're finding ways to educate themselves, get into it, and understand what's going on before they even get exposed to the world and their community. So I do think there's obviously a smart way to do it. You don't jump out and just think like, I'm going to be super famous, right? But once you get through an opportunity like this and you get on, you know, TV and you know it's going to be a global TV show, you do have to consider what's going to happen and how to prepare for it, you know.

So those are very important things. So I appreciate the evolution of that. With us having more at our fingertips. I would say when you first got that management company in that modeling company, did you look out for and we've touched on this a couple of times in recent conversations, like do you look for exclusives and non-exclusives?


Yeah, it's crazy. There was so much knowledge that was lacking at the time for me to know what to look out for, going into it. And now looking back at it, it's like, wow, I only wish I knew what I was signing up for at the time, but I didn't look out for things like that, I did.

All I was looking at was, what brand? What brand do you have? You got it for? Who do you know? Who do you not know like me? That's all I was looking for. I was looking to like the fine print. And of course, I don't have lawyers at my disposal. Disposal to go read through the contracts and go through everything that's in the fine print.

I'm reading this on my own, and I'm a college kid trying to go through these big old pieces of paperwork. It's just it's. Yeah, it is. Yeah. Not fun. Not fun at all.


I love what you said. And I think it's maybe more profound than just talking about brand deals like I think about. And for all of our listeners, whether it's in life, in relationships and work, in brand deals, knowing and coming up with what you want to accomplish and making sure that the other person has a similar three five year vision and their values are aligned, and they're willing to take the time to get to know you and walk through that.

It's just such a valuable part of any relationship. And I think, you know, becoming more self-aware of what you want, what you hope, what you hope to accomplish, what you want out of a relationship, what you want out of a management contract. It only serves to land at a better outcome. So I love that, you know, you learned early and I think it, you know, shapes how you would approach that.

I think the other piece is don't beat yourself up over it and use it as a learning exercise. Like clearly you've arrived on the other side of that experience and you now are wiser and you can make different decisions. So I think that's a great lesson for anyone on any walk.


Thank you. Thank you very much.


Yeah. I think, like putting all those things together. You know, you've gone through and you've experienced it at that level and I'm sure you've had your failures. but I'd love to have an uplift form and talk about your successes. You know, since you have stepped into this realm of becoming a creator, I'd love to open up a bit on, like some things that I've just worked out really well for you, that being, you know, either some content creation ideas, some kind of methods that you've been using or we'll then transition to maybe some brand deals that were really good for you.


Man, it's after you turn that corner of all the hardships that come from being thrown into the mix of being a content creator. Once you can finally turn the corner and really see how beautiful life can really be within this world of content creation, it is eye-opening, honestly. You know, it's, I think I took the methods of sending the cold emails and knowing being in the right rooms to meet the right people and like understanding how to network with brands.

I think what makes content creation so special in this space is that you're able to really perfect your craft in front of numerous people, and you don't know how far your reach is going, but you know that what you're doing is making an impact. And I adapt new things within my content creation techniques daily.

Like, for example, I just learned how to do a shortlist. I want to say 2 or 3 months ago. Like, like a shot list is so vital for your content creation, and turning the video into a short reel into a, like a basically a short term movie, like it's you can really learn how to fine-tune your work and take it all over the world.

And you can take it to multiple brands and you can show people that, hey, this is what I'm capable of. This is what I want to do for you. And this is how I think we're going to work well together. Like it's it. Once you turn that corner, the opportunities are endless. And I think that's probably, like, the coolest thing that I've figured out about consecration is that the opportunities are so vast that the work is limitless.


Do you mind before we transition a bit as we keep talking about the successes? Do you mind detailing a little bit about what a shot list is and how you went about coming up with and learning about it?


So I think one of the craziest things that has happened in the last two years is the idea of short-form content, and how fast short-form content is going lower and lower in time. So at the beginning of last year, you would say real was probably like the '60s. Now you probably can't scroll the algorithm without going through maybe six seconds of a video.

You know, it's like, how can I hold somebody's attention for that six seconds? And one thing that I learned is that if you add a shot list, which is basically changing your camera angles, changing the vision, changing the view, changing the perspective of the eye of the beholder that can keep people engaged way longer than a 62nd video.

So, a short list is basically, what I use it as is. I will go medium angle, low angle, short angle, high angle, low angle. I keep changing the positioning of the camera in order to better grasp the idea of a story. And I do that for almost all of my videos now. It's something that takes a lot more time and a lot more effort, but it adds a whole different variable to the idea of content creation.


It's funny you saying this now as I was watching back, you know, certain content, there's a brand deal that you shot, going to a basketball gym and you're, you know, you're showing throwing the sneakers down and lacing them up in a tight shot. Then you're like, doing the wide shot of the whole gym. You've got, like, there's all these shots.

And it's funny because, you know, the moment you're consuming that content, you're not thinking about the kind of cinematography or the construction of that piece of content, but it does show up. And I was watching it and I said, like, I think of any piece of content that won. I sat there and I watched every transition and I was watching go through and even though I knew it was a brand deal, it carried my attention the entire way through.

And there's something mentally stimulating, visually stimulating through us. It's cool to hear you kind of put that together. And then from my user lens or, you know, watcher lens, how I perceive that it's interesting.


And it's crazy because it's just a matter of trial and error. Like, I'll tell every content creator that I come in contact with. It's all trial and error like you can learn and piece together from multiple creators on how they did it and what you can do to kind of emulate or kind of replicate what they did. But it's all a matter of what you find to be most beneficial for you.


Think that that is really cool because you think about content creation more so now it is like telling a story than anything. Yeah, and you're right. People are somehow squeezing an entire relationship into six seconds where it's literally like a shot of them, a few words on the screen and everyone's like, oh my gosh, that's so relatable.

That is the talent of content creation now. And it is. It's so incredible to see people be able to just do that day in and day out. there's this influencer, I forget what her name is, but all she does is she makes relatable content for women. and it's hilarious. Like, you'll see you if you go through her feed, you'll see, like, Cesar and Rihanna, and like, they'll all comment because this girl is so big now, and she just makes these, like, reels that get like, yeah, I got to go look up her name again.

I'll see if I find it. I'll throw it on the screen somewhere. But it's just she makes, you know, ten-second videos with some words on the screen, and then you'll see all these hundreds of thousands of comments about. Yeah, I've been there before. Yeah, I've been there before. And so it's really, really critical, I think, in being successful as a content creator, to be able to tell your story before people get bored.


See, it's in my opinion, it's always about how you can make the viewer not understand you but feel understood. It's that level of relatability that makes people really want to dive into who you are as a person.


It's funny. Even back to that basketball video, I was thinking about the talk track you had and you, it wasn't this I'm about to whoop it up. I'm so awesome. It was actually like, hey, I'm struggling. I'm having kind of a bad day. I need to get back to that shape. And it's like I was like, oh yeah, I've been there.

Like, I know that feeling of like, I sit there and I just like break shot after shot and then you're like, okay, like the end of the session. You're like, you know, you're draining shots. But I think that's what makes it relatable. And it's funny because like, you know, you're super fit, a great basketball player, played in college and you could produce content that's completely unrelatable.

It could be. That's why I'm never going to be there. That guy's got better genetics. He's, you know, better at basketball. But I think it is that I'm like you, but I still achieve this. That gives people hope. It gives people inspiration. It gives people a connection. It's really cool.


Yeah. No, I think that's probably one of the hardest realizations that I had to come across when I first started consecrating was that I was very big on bodybuilding and gym content. And I am as large as I am, I'm lifting like in squatting, like five, six plates on a squat. And I'm like, I'm starting to think to myself, why are people that resonate with this?

And then I'm like, oh, normal people, can I do this? This is, this is not normal stuff. Okay.

I think that maybe one of the hardest realizations is that, like, I'm tweaking my videos to make it so that people can actually feel what I'm feeling at the same time as they're watching the video.


It's funny you mention that because, like, everyone went crazy when Sam Select blew up because the dude, he's a bodybuilder, young guy, but he's just right. But his videos, it's just like him and his car driving to the gym, and he's just talking about, like, I gotta figure out what to do today. Maybe I'll do some legs, like, hey, is my leg?

I feel like crap today. Like cardio sucks. I gotta do it. You gotta do it. We all got to do it. And it's just yeah, he's like super down to earth. Yes. He's lifting more weight than any of us could lift. But there is something. He wasn't just trying to be this super boastful guy, just like flaunting everything.

He's walking you through the normal struggle of a day. Like waking up, not feeling motivated to work out, and still crushing it. I think it's, it's the kind of content that's working right now, for sure.


Absolutely, absolutely.

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Yeah. I mean, I think the way that I see it at least is, you know, you've always had, the community or the average human being. and then on all the way on the right side, you have these, like, ultra celebrities, you know, like the Brad Pitt of this world. And what's been cool is, I think the emergence of the creator and the influencer is this bridge between all of it.

And so it does feel like the average human being is significantly more connected to the influencer and the creator than they are to this ultra celebrity. And so they indulge in their content a lot more. which then leads to hopefully right then being more interested in the things that they use and the things that they do, and the brands that they collaborate with.

And so I do think it's a beautiful bridge right in between it where you can have access to these people. And we talked to Kate Brown last weekend. And one thing that she said, which is important for her, was as she was growing her podcast, one thing that she did a lot was spend time replying to messages and comments about people being like, oh, like, we love listening to this.

And like, she would have full-on dialog because at the end of the day, if you like, if people are investing their energy and their time into you, like, you have to show that you're investing something in them as well. And that's what makes us all so much more relatable and connected, and then ultimately makes the influencer and the creator such an impactful resource that connects brands to people.

You know, we are all connected there. So I mean, with that transition in place, have you had a collaboration with a brand that you just thought, wow, this was amazing. I really enjoyed this. Like what has been, you know, if not just one, maybe a couple of your favorite collaborations so far?


Oh, that's tough. I think my favorite one would have to be Sony. I did a collaboration with Sony and Sony Electronics, and that was probably my favorite one because they took my early stages of content creation. And I'm talking about the early stages, like the stages where I was like, you sure you want me? I know they took my videos from that stage and they created a mood board, you know, like a mood video of what they liked and what they wanted me to recreate for them.

And I think that was one of the most Eye-Opening experiences, because first off, I'm a big camera guy, and Sony even reached out to me and started seeing my work as a huge deal in my opinion. but the fact that I was able to convince a brand of that stature that even my early stages content was good enough to be on a global scale, that's that was probably like probably one of the best brand deals I've ever had, was just that it was, I'm sorry.

Globally televised through multiple streams and it was all over the world. I thought that was the first deal that I'd done that went all over the world. and it was just really it was giving me a sense of reassurance that I was and headed in the right direction. And that was probably it came at one of the craziest times when I wasn't getting brand deals a month was really slow.

No money was coming in. and that was like the reassurance to say, hey, keep going. And that was the best deal for sure.


Yeah. You know, if I could speak to that man, that feeling, that feeling meant. So, you know, I actually struggled as a content creator to start this this year. I didn't get any offers sent to me until March. Right. And imagine I can imagine for people who are, you know, creating full time, they're just like, that would be so draining.

And it would feel as if you were, I guess, like so unaccomplished, so ineffective in what you're trying to do, feeling like you were so stuck. And so I know that feeling. And that could be such a big moment. And I think that that speaks volumes to what people have to do in those times don't give up on your content creation.

Lean into it. Right? Because it seems like they came with a package of what you were doing and they said, this is like, this is the stuff you're putting out. This is why we came after you. Like, imagine if you were like, I haven't gotten something in a month. I'm going to stop creating, you know? So I think that that is really important.

And it's funny because I constantly talk about wanting to become a better content creator, and I feel like I'm just getting to that point where I'm putting up more consistent content, how I'm talking about things that are on my mind and being real. And I feel like since March, up until now, I've had probably my most successful three months or so in terms of deals coming in the door because I'm just being me.

I'm just going out and I'm having a good time, and next thing you know, I'll get an inbox message from some brand that I'm like, and, you know, I have a brand that I'm about to partner with now that I can't really mention about, but literally, if I could talk about one of my partners, like dream partner brands, it most definitely would be them because it's an app that I use literally.

Like I might just be obsessed with, like. You know, you know, when you get it.


Into bed and you like, you have those 2 or 3 apps that you always open up, like this is one of them. Right? So I think this was an important moment to reiterate to everyone that like, if you are feeling unaccomplished, if you are feeling like you are not doing well as a content creator, don't let that discourage you from creating content because there's somebody out there and all it takes is one post.

For someone to see, hey, I liked this content. I liked this person. I like this style. They have to just like one thing about it and next thing you know, you can get a deal in the door I guess.


Yeah, yeah, go ahead.


Yeah, I love that. I think it's hidden in that message too as you just started to connect and show people who you are and be vulnerable and you don't need to go overboard. But I think you just brought people along and showed them who Kwami is. And we talked about that before. And I think people want to connect with you.

They, you know, they don't want to see highly stylized photos or some kind of, you know, done-up content. They want to see the real you, and they want to see your everyday life and connect with you. And, you know, you guys have great personalities. And the more of that shines through and people can see that person that sparks that they connected with when they started following you, that that shines through.

So I think, you know, to persist, not quitting, but then to like opening up, being vulnerable and connecting with your audience for sure.


And so James, with the platforms that you're on now, man, with being on Instagram a little bit, being on TikTok, it seems like you're having some success. Where do you feel like you like to focus your energy? Where do you feel like you have the most success as a content creator?


I would say I get noticed the most by brands via Instagram. occasionally TikTok brings in brand deals and occasionally it's a bit more scripted if they come to me from there. But if it's Instagram, I 100% love the brand deals that are coming over there. Our Instagram is definitely a place where I feel like I can be myself the most, and I show my vulnerability the most over there, I would say.

So I put a lot of energy into that one.


So I'm curious. We talked about, you know, favorite brands that you have. What is one brand that if you got this brand deal, would just be like a completely aspirational, complete dream brand to work with?


I got one, it's very it's going to be probably a little strange, a little random. but I'm, I'm partially like a travel influencer and a travel creator, like, I do a lot of concentration based around traveling. And, one kind of brand deal that I love doing the most is hotel deals. I work with a lot of hotels, and one of my favorites is the J.W. Marriott Marriott.

Amazing. One of the one of the best, one of the best deals I've worked with. but the one I would like to have the most at the moment is probably the four seasons. I would. I would go to any Four Seasons location and do brand deals with them almost immediately. Like if they call me and say, hey, we need you tomorrow, I'm on a flight.

I'm by myself. I don't care. I love doing travel deals, I love doing, I love being able to go places and stay, accommodation free and be able to just display the hotel to the best of my ability. This is one of my favorite things to do, honestly.


So that's awesome. Well, we'll have to hook up at the Four Seasons and, and try to get you there.


Please, please. I never say that one. So I'm really. I'm really looking forward to it.


yeah. They definitely don't come with a small price tag. I remember, I yeah, I remember reaching out, Chelsea and I were going to go to, one of the big cities in the States, and we reached out to a bunch of hotels and, well, at least, like, through my experience, what I've realized is partnering with smaller hotels is definitely more fun for us because, yeah, the perks are there.

the services, they're usually when you get there, there's like, champagne for you with a note or something, like they really think about you, whereas like the larger chains, you know, not as much. And they expect a lot more from you. I've noticed that, but yeah, we did get a reply from the Four Seasons to have the like, executive penthouse, which was priced at like 20 5KA night.

We ended up not following through with that and going with the smaller hotel because I know I know.

I know I think about it every day, but the list of deliverables was insane.


Wait wait wait wait wait wait. How many days were you staying and what were they asking for?


So we were going to stay for? I think it was. Then we stayed for 3 or 4 days. and they were asking for, I think it was like six riyals. It was like 20 story posts per day. Per day? yeah. It was like, I know it was like something so large that Chelsea and I looked at each other and we were like, we really want to do this, but we can't, you know, because I think the biggest thing about us, as well as why we were traveling, we wanted to experience the vacation.




You know, and so we're not going to be in that room much. It just doesn't make sense to take 20 Stories, but that is a recurring theme. I feel like every time we talk to a creator about what they want to do more, except like Marcel wanted toilet paper. But, from him.

Everyone has talked about wanting to do more travel content. Like, I feel like I'm a big travel influencer, guys. Well, so we have to have a massive I don't know if we grab a cohort or like, a group that just likes pushes, just like travel. We got to just figure out a travel agency for creators.

That right there, there's a hidden nugget in there.


Absolutely, absolutely. No, it's that one of the coolest forms of consecration is traveling. because it's now you're, you're learning just as much as the viewer is going to learn, like you're experiencing it just at the exact same rate as somebody who's watching a video is. So, I mean, it's one of my favorites for season 20 story posts.

That doesn't even sound like you mean, I even know how you would. I work ten for you and ten for her. Like, I don't know, that doesn't even sound right. Yeah, but for seasons, I got aligned. At some point, I gotta land it.


I'll just say I think it's a good lesson, too, for brands. You know, the, you know, your audience doesn't want to see 24 seasons Stories in a day. It's just too much. And I, I think there's, there is this kind of trade-off of investment and pay off and whatever. But, you know, there are better ways to accomplish it.

And I think the ultimate goal at the end of the day is to gain awareness of the brand, gain affinity for the brand. And I think it's such a fine line, between oversaturation, between creating meaningful content that resonates and shines through. And there's no way that if you're producing, you know, 60 stories, it's going to all be genuine and it's going to be unique and authentic.

And I think that I love some of the bigger creators. They focus on doing less content and better content. I think about the huge channels like Mr. Beast, Mark Rover, and Mark Rogers putting out one video a month on YouTube. That's such a small amount of content for his core channel. He's also got like 20 million subscribers because those videos have a ton of thought and a ton of investment behind them.

and the focus is on quality engagement. And so, you know, obviously, in the Instagram world, you can't be putting out one piece of content a month, but I think there's some natural threshold where too much is too much. And creating and focusing on quality and meaningful pieces of content is way better.


I didn't even think about the quick math. He just did. He told 60 stories. That's just, bro, like, you're engagement for all of your stuff would be in, in the garbage can like it would be horrible I think. Wow. 60 stories over three days I yeah.


Because as you're, as you're creating these stories in these clips, you have to make sure of that and it's tough to maintain that authenticity. That makes it exciting. Right. So after a clip like nine on a day, it's just like, look at this velour couch.


it's so funny that the first thing I do, though, and I bet, I bet you guys do too. If you see, if you click on stories and someone pops up and they've got the, like 20 little tiny timelines and it's like, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, I don't even look at him. It's like, I don't need to see 27 pictures of your Spanish vacation.

Like one. I get it, you're in Spanish like it's cool, but yeah, it's definitely it just completely goes the other way.


Yeah. And it just like, relates back to being able to tell those stories, in shorter frames, in a shorter time span. How can I elaborate this beautiful Spanish vacation in 4 or 5 stories for the day, so that you feel like you're there with me, but you don't feel just inundated with every single thing that I do, you know?

So I think that is important. And as we, as we transition here to kind of get closer to the end of this, you know, I know we've talked a lot about, brands and partnerships and creation. I think I wanted to end, obviously with a really important note for the day, kind of in the mental health portion of things.

You know, as a content creator who has a focus on making sure that, you know, you, you keep yourself astute in the mental like area, and you kind of focus on making sure you're building blocks there as well. When you think about transitioning from, you know, too hot to handle being on a Netflix show to becoming a creator, and then when your regular life, I'd love to know a bit about how you keep yourself together, how you keep yourself focused, how you keep yourself.

yeah. Just in that. In that mental space. Yeah.


Oh, that's a, that's a, that's a heavy hitter right there. Goodness gracious. I'll, I'll say just to begin with, I think going from too hot to handle when that show came out, my phone obviously blew up. Right. You know, I had everybody hitting me up from people in middle school to people I met yesterday.

Like, everybody's asking me like, like crazy stories. Ask me what it was like. There were a lot of people crowding my brain for a long period of time. I still get these questions all the time. but I think what I do the most to practice and protect my mental health is really try and practice, a lifestyle of mindfulness.

And what I mean by that is being able to separate myself from places that aren't real and things that do not affect me. For example, Instagram. Not a real place. TikTok. Not a real place. Netflix. Not a real place. You know, like there's things that you kind of have to really understand and look at what's around you and look at things that are things that you can touch and things that you can control.

And that's kind of like the main thing I try and focus on my day-to-day life is that you know, I can't control everything that goes on in my life, but what I can't control, I need to be the best at it, and I need to make sure that it protects my peace at all times. a man too hot to handle gave me a run for my money.

I'm not going to lie to you. I was in a relationship with a woman that was another race in me. And that was probably one of the craziest things I've ever had to navigate in my life. But, you know, going from there to now, it's like I've learned so much on that journey, and I've gone through a lot, and I've experienced what it's like to be just on a good day and a bad day.

And I'm thankful for all of it.


I think it's interesting because with the show, you know, we often talk about how some of the things that can be the best opportunity in your life and one of the most life-changing experiences can also be one of the things that test you the most. And I think about whether that's a workplace that's super, super tough and pushes you really hard.

It's a sports team that challenges you mentally and physically and shapes who you are. It can also be a source of unhealthy habits. Unhealthy standards you set for yourself. And you can kind of get disconnected from who you are. And I think it's great to have that transparent view of the good in things, the bad and things, and being able to dissociate.

You know, the show is not my identity. It is something that impacted my life. It's something that gave me an opportunity. And I can choose to be associated with pieces of it. I can choose to not be associated with pieces of it, and I can choose how I show up. And I love what you said about what you can control as yourself.

And at the end of the day, like after the show, after that opportunity, you have the ability to control the narrative and decide how you want to live your life.


Yeah, I really love that. You know, I was going to say something myself, but I think we could almost, and on that one that was a really, really beautifully said. I think, you know, I guess too, to get into it for maybe my 20s because I do think it's pretty relevant for our situation. I don't think the wider world or maybe like us, our fans within our experience, know the amount of abuse that comes from being on a Netflix reality show in general.

Right? Being in the public eye, it can be really difficult especially when it comes to the race thing, I think that that is something that people find really, really easy to focus on. because it's probably our most noticeable feature, right? That's the first thing you notice about someone. Right? And so it's like, okay, what can I take within that?

And then in some way turn it to really, really hurt them. And I think, yeah, when it came to being with someone who was a different race than me, there was a lot of abuse coming from both sides. So that is a really, really difficult thing that I think we deal with. I hope people going into situations like this, have resources and if you don't have resources and you hear this podcast, feel free to DM me.

I'll talk to you about it. You know, I think that especially when we think about the mental health space, there are some things that really, really will attempt to break you down. And so I want to make sure that everybody knows that there are people out there who are going through the things that you are going through, and if you need to talk to someone, you can find someone to talk to.

And if you can't find anybody within the space that you are in, there are hotlines that you can contact as well. Right? So we want to make sure everybody knows they have access to this. And talking is always the start of it. First, you have to know you want to talk and then you have to reach out and talk.

So with that being said, obviously a heavy subject, but it's something that has to be touched on. It's something that's important to all of us. I want to give you, James, the last word here. you know, do you have anything that you want to share with the world about yourself? Either your content creation or your Netflix journey or something that's important to you that you want to just share with everyone as we part?


I think that the best way to really end, especially after that topic right there, is definitely not to highlight me. It's to highlight everybody else out there that's potentially watching this. I think the best advice I could give you in your life is to always live for others, live for, and live for means that are greater than your own.

Live to try and give back to the people that you love and you care about. You know life. Life. Was it meant to just be all about you? Life wasn't meant to just be a solo act. You know? There are 7 billion people on this planet. What are you going to do to give back to others? You know, like, I mean, everybody's got an Instagram right now.

We don't all have an Instagram so that you can show everybody your Starbucks order. No, everybody, everybody. Like, what can you do with your platform to give back to the people who are in need or the people who are reaching out and letting me help, like, what can you do to live for others? That's one of the biggest messages that I could portray or give off to anybody is, how can you be better for somebody else?

And inevitably, the world would be a lot better place if you carried that mantra.


I love it. I think that's a great place to wrap up. So, you know, if you have a position to give to help others, to think about others and give back, you know, something we could all be more mindful of. I think many of us are blessed with way more than we need and a whole variety of ways.

So, amazing having you on, James. so an uplifting conversation. You know, even given the tough subject, I walk away feeling inspired that there are men out there, who are supporting everyone and focusing on tolerance and acceptance and lifting each other up. So, great conversation with everyone. Thanks for watching the episode. We'll see you on the next one.


All right. Bye, everybody.

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