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Getting Your Product to Market with Tracy Hazzard

In this episode, I'm talking with Tracy Leigh Hazzard. She's a good friend that I've known for quite some time. She has been a beacon of reinvention, innovation and entrepreneurship. She has been featured all over the media. She has been a leader in the product space, taking over 250 products to retail. She has been working with inventors, inventing and she has patents herself.

We talked about a lot of different things and this is going to be a variety show. If you've got that idea, that invention that you want to get to market, Tracy has some good insights on how you can do that and how you can leverage a lot of tools that are available nowadays to go out and get your product to market.

The other big takeaway that you're going to discover in this show is this idea of being a marketer over being an inventor. This applies to everybody. Everybody should be in the business of marketing whatever it is that they sell, whether that's your own personal brand. If you've got a job, you've got to market your brand within that organization. If you're an entrepreneur, even though you may be selling a product, a widget, a service, you really are not in that business, you are in the business of marketing. Tracy unpacks the importance of that here in this episode.

We also talked about innovation a great deal. In this society, it's to innovate or die. We talked about why it's important to innovate, how you can innovate or how you could reinvent your own personal brand. If you don't, you're not going to be moving forward. If you like the idea of influence, if you like the idea of bringing a product to market or you're wanting to start that business, then you're going to love this episode.

Dustin
It was 1998, you and your husband, Tom, just started selling one of those stylus pens which is coming back in vogue now. I'm talking not just any stylus pen. You were selling the one where it can write on the actual tablet itself or on the PalmPilot, but also write on paper. Within six months of you launching this big, bad Palm, Fortune 500 company comes into the marketplace and essentially steals your design and now launches their own. Tracy, what is going through your head when you made this discovery?
Tracy
Right now, what's going through my head is, "I'm old." It wasn't that long ago. I can hardly even remember my PalmPilot anymore. That is still such a fresh memory in my mind. Anyone who has had employees or had a business that was at such a critical stage where you invested so much into something. Then something goes massively wrong, that heart-clenching like the world is ending feeling, that's what really went. It was one of those things where I held the catalog, where I saw this infringing product in my hand. I wanted to cry right then and there but I had to drive all the way home. I wanted to start crying. It was like, "It's over." That's how it felt. It also felt that way right after 9/11 as well. It's such a difficult thing to try to think about how you would face that when that happens. It's not something that you can prepare for in your MBA program or your entrepreneurship program, whatever that might be. You can't prepare for that feeling of, “Will you be able to rally? Will you be able to fight? Will you give up? What are you going to choose?”
Dustin
When you started describing it, I pictured catalog because going back to the time when all the computer companies and stuff like that, I'd wait for these catalogs to come out. Do they still do that? Do they have this catalog still?
Tracy
Some people do, I guess. I never look at them. I’ve got a Uline catalog, one of those with all the boxes and stuff in the mail, but I immediately tossed it into the recycle bin because I was like, "I'm going to go online if I need something."
Dustin
Do you even think that you have a shot like you're going to take down Goliath essentially here? What's your next move?
Tracy
It took a little while of unpacking it to get over first off the anger. You are so angry that they did that because we had signed a non-disclosure with them. They had seen our product multiple times over the years. It started in 1998 when we invented it, but it was early 2001 when this catalog came out with the infringing product. It had been a few years in there where they had been developing this the whole time and never said anything or did anything. I think they thought in the back of their mind that we weren't going to get our patent issued but we had gotten our patent issued pretty much the week before we got the notice of allowance from the Patent and Trademark Office. Which didn't mean we could go saying anything until we had our little certificate, but it meant that it was going to issue. The timing couldn't have been crazier.
Dustin
You see this and you panicked. You unpacked it a little bit. Your next move is to do what?
Tracy
You don't know how you're going to react to this. You don't know how much pressure you're going to feel under. You don't know how you're going to proceed with this unless you have the external pressure. I had thirteen employees at that time. We just moved into a brand-new office space. I was picking up the catalog in the mail there. We hadn't even started the business. We were going to start next week in the office. We came out of our home office into that. We were printing on pens and doing all of these things. We diversified our business into ad specialty where you get logos printed on your stylus pens like doctors, logos and pharmaceutical companies.
Our business was growing, and we had invested so much in the new office. We invested in all these new employees that we were just bringing on that would start the next week. I had thirteen Angel investors including my mother-in-law who I would have to face dinner at Thanksgiving. She is a wonderful woman and I absolutely adore her. She would never hold it over my head, but that wouldn't make me feel any better. I heard Bill Kelly speak and he's one of the Founders of WebMD. He said that you have a sacred obligation to those investors. You also have that same sacred obligation to your employees and so you can't give up. You can't say, "I'm done." If it had been like a licensing thing or if we'd been this passive investor in this, we would have just be like, "Whatever," but we had such an active involvement. We had so many people relying on us that giving up was not even a part of our thought process. It was not a choice, so you have to fight. Then it was, “What means do I have and what does that look like?” We rallied our investors. We rallied our key employees who had been with us since the beginning. There were about five of them, including our attorney. We sat in the living room of my house and we said, "What are we going to do? Are we going to fight this? How much money do we have left cashflow to do this with?" At the end of the day, we had $5,000 which was not much. We developed a game plan of basically a PR game plan because that was all we could think of to do because that was much more grassroots.
Dustin
The PR game plan that you came up with, what was the strategy that got the attention that ended up getting you out of the sticky situation?
Tracy
This is what you would consider being a viral campaign, but this was before social media. We waged this PR campaign where we sent out press releases to all local newspapers mostly in the Palm Computing region where they were. They were up in the San Jose area, so the San Jose Mercury News, the San Francisco Chronicle, all of those papers. Plus, local trade publications because we had been the darling of the trade publications. We'd been featured in all these gift guides. We were in Wired and all that cool stuff that happened to us over the time because it was new and everybody wanted to talk about that industry coming on. This is before the tech bubble had completely burst. It was still a lot in the news about that kind of stuff and still all about the product and third-party developers were new.
We talked about this David and Goliath story about how we were this little developer. If Palm Computing is going to step on us and we're a hardware developer, you can imagine how easy it's going to be to step on software developers. That was the angle we played, and everybody was picking up and talking about it. We went one step further. We did something that no attorney would recommend ever, and I wouldn't recommend it now, it worked back then. We wrote out our exact timeline of all the times we had met with Palm Computing, all of the times when we signed our nondisclosure with them, when we had invented our product. We had a documentation because back in those days it wasn't first to file, it was the first invention. If you had a document that proved that you invented it, then you wanted to have that notarized and we had a bound book. That's how Tom and I've always designed, in a bound sketchbook, which is cemented in time of other products that make to the market and other things that go on. There is a timeline that's very inherently put in. It's not just a piece of paper that someone could have notarized for you. Ours was a lot more solidified. We put all of that out on our website under a caption of their pen and our pen, ours above it, which was a bigger pen. It was slightly bigger and theirs was slightly smaller but the same style looking. It says, "Do we detect a bit of pen envy?" Remember that this was a very male-dominated market, PalmPilot.
 
People picked it up all over the place because that was pretty cool to be sending to your friends this little gift. The pen was clicking back and forth and stuff like that. That was what took off and it was what happened. We did have to spend the $5,000 to file a lawsuit. Without the lawsuit, no one would have published it in the newspapers or the magazines. They wouldn't publish the articles because it needed to be that we filed suit. We did that but it was a total bluff. Nobody knew that at the time, but it was a total bluff because we had no money to take it any further than that. We filed that. Then there was so much pressure for Palm Computing to force IDEO, who was the largest industrial design firm in the world and who had designed the actual pen and had an indemnification clause in their contract. It forced them to settle with us because they didn't want the publicity when they were trying to go public. We got lucky because we couldn't have known all that was going on behind the scenes.
Dustin
I've seen you speak, and I heard you say once when you were speaking that this David and Goliath story of how you went up against Fortune 500 is talked about in Ivy League schools. It's a case study. Can you share a little bit of that PR that came after?
Tracy
A professor out of Kellogg University did it as a part of his course structure and then published it on the Harvard Business Review. The school of Intellectual Property and Entrepreneurship teach this, and it's taught in 26 universities probably even more now around the world. They pick up that Harvard Business Review course and teach it in three parts. They teach it in the part of here's who this company is and they’re this little company and they've got this patent and all of this stuff because it's about intellectual property. Then here's what happens to them and they get infringed upon. The assignment is, what would you do? They have the same framework we have. They have $5,000 to work with. Maybe it's gotten scaled up with inflation. Maybe it's $15,000 or something now or whatever it is. They have those same constraints and then they all have to decide. Then they make the presentation and then the third part of the course they hear what we did. Less than 10% of them choose what we chose.
Dustin
Are you like an IP class celebrity?
Tracy
Evidently, I am. It took me a while to realize that. I knew that this had happened because they interviewed us for the course when they were structuring it. They got all this information from us and we've gone through a bunch of stuff at that time. We've gone back and forth with the professor in the school and their interns. I knew about it but it wasn't until almost a decade later when I was getting LinkedIn requests from people who said, "I learned about you and your company in my Master's program," because it was called ttools. I was like, "What?" I started to realize that I was this MBA program celebrity.
Dustin
I've got to imagine you know back then that it was a lot harder to bring a product to market. I think there have been so many advancements. If someone in our WealthFit Nation has an idea or an invention they want to bring to market nowadays, what does that process look like?
Tracy
It used to look like you have a great idea. You go figure how to make it and then make it. You share it with a bunch of people. Then maybe you get it licensed or you decide to go to manufacturing. You raise some funds and go do that. You get it licensed and you make some royalty. It doesn't work like that at all anymore. Now, your number one road to getting a product sold is to have access to a market. The first thing you better do is get a marketplace. Whether that's Amazon or that's to create a podcast, a videocast, or a YouTube channel get your market first in place and find your niche market. Then figure out if they want to buy that or figure out what they want to buy. That's the best way to go nowadays. It's all about the access to the customer, the access to that consumer first.
Dustin
Let's say I have an idea for the new pen stylus, one that maybe works on the Apple iPad if they would allow us to design. Let's assume they will because I don't know all those ins and outs. What's my first step based on all this information?
Tracy
 
It’s making sure that you could get heard. It takes being a third-party developer, are they going to let you into that program? What are they going to do? It's not all that different from what we have been trying to do all those years ago. We were trying to get in their catalog. They never let us in the catalog. We knew why now it's because they had their own in the works, so they blocked us from it. If you can't get in the one thing that is getting straight access to the person who's buying the Apple iPad or who's buying that product, if you can't get straight access to them, then you don't want to be doing anything yet. If you can get straight access to that consumer, if you can get in the box or you can get on their list of preferred suppliers or app developers or whatever those products might be. If you can get on that list, then you need to get a small group of them and beta test first. I'm going to prove it first. Let's test first. Let's make sure that people agree with you that it's a great product. People who will plunk down money not people who love you and say, "This is great, Dustin. I love what you do." Not your mom, not your dad, not your big fans. They’re people who will plunk down money for it.
Dustin
Is it then to take this idea and throw it up on like a Kickstarter without the prototype and build my audience that way and test? Is that the first?
Tracy
Sometimes we do things like that. We are big in 3D printing. If you don't know what that is, it's basically a quick way to make a prototype of something as long as you know what you're doing in designing. It's not quick for everybody. I don't have quite the full-text skills. Thank goodness I'm married to and partnered with somebody who does. You can do something like that and you can pop it up on Amazon and sell a few thousand pieces or a couple of hundred pieces and say, "People liked that. I got good feedback on it." You can make a sample of something and sell some of it or make something similar to it. That's what I like to do first.
I had a client who wanted to make a juicer-blender all-in-one. Let's find a juicer and a blender. Let's sell both of those on Amazon first. Buy a thousand pieces or something and get them selling. Let's get a few hundred people who will agree to be a part of our beta group. Then we will test the product with them. We’ll test the concept of it and send them renderings. We’ll go along the way and treat them like a market test group. Then you can find out, "Do they like this feature? Do they even need it? Do they want it? Will they pay $150 for it? Will it need to be $200? What is it?" You have lots of people who already bought something from you, so you know that they've put down money. They're interested in this market and they're willing to give you viable feedback rather than someone who's not interested and not in that market. It's too broad, it's too general. We like to niche down and make sure we've got the right feedback loop going. When you've got that then you go ahead and say, "I'm ready. Now, I should make it.” I don't love Kickstarter because it's 70% male with no money. Are you going to get good feedback when the consumer market is 86% or more women? No.
Dustin
Are there other platforms out there that you favored?
Tracy
No, I don't. Amazon is the best reach to get to women. Not every product can be tested that way. Sometimes we'll create an ad campaign on Facebook and get a small beta group going there but they know what they're buying into. They know that they're being treated like a kick-starter. We're transparent with them, “We're seeking you because you bought this and we'd love for you to help develop that with us.” They become also your biggest fans and the first people who will write reviews for you. This does help to jumpstart and to kick-start a project or a product much faster.
Dustin
It's interesting because what I hear you saying is be a marketer.
Tracy
This is a product designer telling you to be a marketer first. This is what I've come to over years of doing this. I've discovered that it is much more valuable to be a marketer first, but having a better product at the end of the day gives you more profitability and better longevity. If you've got your marketing skills down but you do not have the best product out there, you better go get it because you could do even better. Getting that marketing piece down and making sure you have that access, I find that in a lot of digital marketers it's because I don't see it as much in the traditional marketing world. It's still a little costlier to do it in the traditional marketing world.
In the digital marketing world, they jump ship the minute it starts to decline in conversion or revenue. They jump ship and go find another niche market but maybe it's just your product. Maybe if you spent a little bit more, find a better product, put a little innovation in there, you'd be surprised how long you can mine it. My best clients are the ones who dial deep into a niche, found a great niche and don't go find it. I'm sure you've heard it before because it's a cliché. It's a lot harder to get a new customer or a new client than it is to service the ones you have, to mine the ones you have. Why would you go and build a whole new market and a whole new niche? Why wouldn't you find a better product for them?
Dustin
There's one thing that I want to key on in this conversation. I definitely want to talk about innovation because you're a big innovator. You talk about selling and marketing at first, building this audience. I know what people are thinking. It's like, "No, I want it to get it perfect."
Tracy
We're all perfectionist at heart in the invention world.
Dustin
The thing that I want to unpack here is this idea of patency. The next biggest fear is like, "Tracy, if I go and market this thing even my prototype, what if it's not patented and what if Palm steals it?" Talk to us a little bit about this idea of when the patenting process comes in?
Tracy
Out of my entire career of making over 250 products, there are only three times that I have ever been knocked off out of all those products. Some of them were not patented. We only have 37 patents. That Palm example is a very big exception, it was rare. They shouldn't have done it which is why it ended up working in our favor and it rarely does work in the inventor’s favor. Most lawyers look at that and go, "You won? You settled? That's amazing." It never happens. They'd spend millions of dollars and they'd never win. We got lucky. I absolutely know it was just a convergence of events and we got lucky there. The only other times that has ever happened and I source products in Asia every single day, is it is when a mass market retailer wanted it to happen. I was knocked off by Staples and by Walmart. They made the factories produce them and they made the factories knock us off. It was not a factory that did it. I have never been knocked off and I have never held back from sharing my stuff. When we make stuff in China, we share our stuff all the time. We go straight to market with them. We don't wait for patents to issue ever. We file patents when it's right, but we file provisionals first. We've never been knocked off except at the behest of a big retailer. They don't want to knock you off if they don't think there's a market for it. Why would they waste their time?
Dustin
I know you as this innovator. You've reinvented, you create products, you're an innovator, you interview people on innovation and you write a number of articles on it. I like to think that you're on the cutting edge of innovation. I'm curious what your big takeaways are in the area of innovation?
Tracy
I am always exploring what's new in innovation and I'm also the biggest skeptic. Tom, my partner, will be the first to tell you that I did not want to go into 3D printing. I thought it was useless. Keep in mind that 3D printing for us had already been around about twenty years when 3D printers were starting to make news and MakerBots were coming out into the world. It was old to us and I was like, "If it didn't take off by now, why would it now? Why would we need it if it didn't work before? It's just a prototype thing." We used it so it wasn't amazing. I also am a big believer in making sure that I have deep skills. I understand this innovation deeply because my clients depend on me to understand it for them and explain it. My column readers also depend on me doing that because I write a column for Inc. I make sure that I'm deep in something.
It is always when I see disruptive technology or disruptive innovation. When I see it start to hit a note of application, when you start to see something being applied in against needs in the marketplace or opportunities and holes in the marketplace, that's when I go, "There's something significant here." I saw that in 3D printing years ago. We were seeing this happen where it was just starting to hit things like aeronautics and marine applications where you go on underwater ROVs which made a lot of sense. You didn't want to mass produce these things. When we started to see applications like that I was like, "Do I see a consumer play for it? I’m not so sure," and I'm still not so sure on that. We're doing some more tests though to try to get more to find out of it, is there a place for it in the consumer?
I'm still skeptical about it. There are certain areas like the personalization that makes a lot of sense. We do it all the time for product testing. We'll test stuff. We'll sell it 3D printed so we don't have to pay for a mold and no one knows that it's 3D printed. At the end of the day, consumers don't care that something's injection molded or metal formed. They don’t care about that. Why would they care if it was 3D printed? That's what people in an industry of innovation think about themselves. They are in their bubble. You have to look at it from this filter, from outside, from a consumer's perspective, whoever that consumer is. It could be business to business but from that perspective. I look at it different than an investor does, which makes a big difference. Investors like to come in when they think it sounds hot and when it's being hyped when they see other investors coming in. I prefer to invest in something when it's starting to be applied into.
When it's being applied, it means that they figured out enough of the quirky systems and the kind of things like language that doesn't work together, where things aren't compatible and you end up with stuff not working with each other and software. You end up with all those problems. They're all gone by that stage. It may not be the hottest return on investment ever but what you will see is a much more consistent return on investment. That's what I like to see. I'm seeing that right now in blockchain. I see it in machine learning, in blockchain and in AI. Those are the areas that I am interested in. I'm still skeptical about cryptocurrency. There are a couple of good applications for it, but I'm still skeptical about it overall because there are a lot of legalities to still be worked out and that makes it high risk.
Dustin
Do you subscribe to this idea of innovate or die or is that some cliché?
Tracy
It's our purpose on Earth to innovate. I guess I do. I never thought of it like that. I don't think I could stop doing that. It's the ingenuity of human beings is what makes us amazing. That's why I like machine learning, AI, blockchain, and a lot of these other things. I'm excited about them. They free us up to do more of those things. To be less afraid, to be innovative because the blockchain is documenting that I'm the innovator of this. Why should I be afraid people are going to steal that? It's built into the system. The AIs are coming in and are going to take away all the stuff that I don't want to do like the mundane things. I have free time to be able to get my research done by the AI and be able to utilize that data to make a better product. All of a sudden, I see a lot of these things making it so that I can spend my brain power on being innovative. I have a little daughter. I have three daughters. I have a four-year-old. She said to me, "Mom, how do I get to be smart?" I said to her, "Vanessa, you have to think a lot. You have to read a lot and you have to ask good questions." She looked at me and she paused. She's mulling this over in her head and she says, "I can't read." The implication was, “I've got this thinking and question thing down, but I can't read yet.” I go, "This is your year. You're going to learn to read." She's on her path to being smart. In my mind, it was the question of, "How do I get to this place of being myself, forming my own opinions and forming my own innovation?" That's where it comes from.
Dustin
I've always admired you working with your spouse and you have additional family members who are in the business. What's your advice there?
Tracy
It's not for everybody. People look at this like it's going to be a train wreck or, “Are we going to watch this happen?” We've been doing this on and off for years, Tom and I together. We don't have the same jobs. We're not stepping on each other's toes. The compatibility of how we work together and how we make decisions has come a long way over that time to be the way that it is right now. It's a shorthand. On the flip side of that, it's amazing. Whether you believe in some of these woo-woo things like energy being exchanged and consciousness being out of your mind, in the ether between you or whatever that might be. We have a shorthand between us and so there's a high level of trust factor. When I say, "I'd like to go in and check out this blockchain stuff and consider going into that for our business." Tom will go, "Let's do that," because he's going to go, "She wouldn't say that because she's super skeptical." We don't have to have this lengthy debate about that. That helps us move through business at a faster pace than most people. For us, it's been wonderful.
It's been an interesting dynamic bringing our oldest daughter into our business and bringing her in as COO. She has done amazing things for the business. She's put in systems. I'm great at tech and she blows through it at a pace that even I can't. Her world has never existed without the tech thing. That pace that a Millennial can bring into your business is amazing, but at the same time, we have difficulties with clients who don't respect her because it's like, "It's just their daughter," and it's terrible. We have to realize that we need all ages and all different diversity in our businesses now to make them work. We try to model that here. Those that have gotten to work with her in a deeper way know how much respect she's earned and how much she's blown this business away for us. I like to make sure that I verbalize that credit out there because she deserves it. Not many companies, your parents will take the risk on you because we needed her, and we needed her desperately. We needed someone and she was the right person for that. Would a business take a risk on someone who wasn't a family member? That's a shame that they won't.
Dustin
Are you the type of family that when business is done it's done, or are you able to be at Disney World or wherever you are and the conversation comes back to work? How do you do that?
Tracy
Not to be crass about it, but it doesn't happen in the bedroom. There's a clear delineation there. Beyond that, we don't draw that line. We used to but it was unnatural for us because innovative thought and things happen at all hours. I can't shut that down in my brain and I can't ask Tom to shut that down in his. We decided at some point, we can see clear signs between each one being overwhelmed and it's not a good time. We don't delineate that. The daughters tend to say occasionally, "No talking about work at dinner tonight. It's all about me." We respect that on their half. It doesn't tend to have a line for us but it feels more natural and it feels less forced. For us, that's worked into being a better harmony.
Dustin
I want to talk a little bit about your expansion and reinventions in this conversation here. It's this idea that you have continually reinvented and you've added business. How do you know the difference between an opportunity and maybe the dreaded entrepreneurial shiny object?
Tracy
That's because I talk to people what shiny object syndrome is every day. I do know when it's their thing. A lot of times, it's taken us a lot longer to go into things than other people. We started our Brandcasters podcast production business because clients dragged us into it. They begged us to take it over. We'd been doing it for ourselves. We're always making stuff easier on ourselves, inventing systems and processes to take things over, organizational maps and anything we need, we do all of that within ourselves. Other people are like, "How do you get this much done? Will you do it for me?" We take on a few people and we refine it. We get it a little better and find out what they need. We have this test, refine, move forward, test, refine, move forward model because we believe in this prove it first. We don't like to get a bunch of money dumped into us and then say, "We'll prove that our idea was any good." We think it's on us to prove our idea first before we go and get funding, financing or any of those things. Nine times out of ten, you don't need financing or funding by the time you're done with doing it that way. That's how we believe it should be self-sustaining along the way and that's how we've always modeled it. For some people, it's lower but at the right time, we go ahead and we push the accelerator. We say, "Now is the time. We're going to push the accelerator,” and for us, that's next year. Next year is going to be our big acceleration year.
Dustin
I'm excited to be a part of it. For those who don't know, Tracy's team, the crew helps us here with the Get WealthFit show. I'm very fortunate to have them advising us and helping us produce the show. I want to talk about this idea of podcasting for all my entrepreneurial friends, part of the nation. Why did you start your first podcast and what's that story?
Tracy
It was a test model. We had started 3D printing and we realized how hard it was. It was hard to learn how to 3D print for making an end-use product, which is the idea at the time. We were like, "People are going to give up on this." We amassed all this great information in a short period of time because we had all these good product design skills. When we would go to a Meetup, people would be picking our brains, "How did you make that? What did you do?" We were like, "We should share this information somehow." We started to explore the ideas and this was a little before live stream came about. YouTube was big deal right there. It was a decision between being a YouTuber or a podcaster to get the information out. While YouTube may have made more sense because 3D print objects are visual, I didn't want to have my hair done every day. I know that sounds vain and silly, but it was a choice. I also didn't want to do something and then have these videos that you had to edit, and it was more intensive. Audio seemed a little simpler at that time.
That's how we got started podcasting and this was in 2015. We researched and I spent three months figuring out how to start a podcast the right way. We went in and did it all full on. It was a model for us to say, "Could we access an audience? At the end of the day, could we get enough feedback to find out if we should be in a 3D print business?" At the end of the day, we decided, “No, we shouldn't.” I'm glad we didn't spend any money to do it and we just started a podcast.
Dustin
That's really curious because you didn't get into the business. Do you still do the show?
Tracy
The show still goes on. It's called WTFFF?! which is Fused Filament Fabrication, which is the geeky term for 3D printing. The WT is for What The. My mom thought it was a swear word for a long time. We still do the show. Mostly, Tom does it now. We don't do as many shows as we used to. We've done over 550 episodes though. There are plenty in there for newbies. We utilized it and we had done something unusual at the time. We had fully blogged everything because we needed to put those pictures in. We put videos in because we needed to show videos of how the machine works sometimes. We were doing this, what we call Brandcasters, which is video, audio, blog altogether as one multicasting. We started doing that way back when and we found our site had this tremendous site traffic power. We were approached by a company that has 1,000 revenue generating websites to say, "What are you doing? Can we have more of this? Can we do it with you?" We started monetizing that website. We have a passive income website. That's how we make money off of our podcast advertisements on that show and off the website itself. It's its own business essentially even though we don't treat it like one.
Dustin
Do you think every business can benefit from a podcast?
Tracy
There's a lot of them that can. There's a few that I found that they go, "I don't know about that." When you're in a big corporation or when you're in a heavily regulated industry, it becomes extremely difficult. There are some within it. We do have a couple of corporations that do internal podcasts so it's for their employees. Maybe they don't syndicate themselves on iTunes, Stitcher and other places like that but they put them up on their company internet. They utilize them within the blog posts to create them for their clients and membership groups and things like that. There are ways around that if it fits you. It's the fastest way to build a know, like and trust factor. Think about it like the TV show, The Voice. It’s a Blind Audition. You don't see them at all. You don't have a preconceived notion about what they look like.
This came very clear to me after we had done over a couple of hundred episodes. We did our first live stream ever on Facebook on our 3D print podcast. One of the people who had been emailing us back and forth, we knew his name. He would ask questions and he has been a longtime fan. After the live stream, he says, "I didn't know that that's what you look like." I said back to him, "What did you think we looked like?" He said, "Tracy, you look taller and Tom has more hair." I said, "That's how we both look in our heads too." That's the reality. It didn't matter to them. We were reaching out to them and getting right in their ear. I have it happen all the time where people will walk up to me at an event and talk to me like they know me. I don't think that could happen in too many other ways at any given time. Live stream has helped that and that you are doing it off the cuff. You're more casual. In the conversational nature of the podcast as well, it's right in my ear. It's getting at the heart of how I feel about something and when you hit my heart then I want to know more. That's the fastest path for me to be able to get an emotional center in someone and get them to inquire more, find out more, listen more.
Dustin
I'd like to move us to the WealthFit round. It's essentially rapid fire. First question, what's been your most worthwhile investment?
Tracy
My girls. Raising children has been probably the most worthwhile investment of my entire life. It’s investing in my marriage and my kids. You have to invest in those relationships and your family. At the end of the day, none of it is worth it.
Dustin
What's that investment you'd rather not talk about?
Tracy
There have probably been a couple of inventions over the time that Tom talked to me into that I wished we hadn’t done. For us, because of the way that we work, it's more like investing in a client because of royalty. The client is like, "Let’s go all in on this and we'll share you royalty." I regret those every single time.
Dustin
What's your guilty pleasure spend, maybe your splurge?
Tracy
For me, it's my hair. If I could have it every week, I would have somebody wash and blow out my hair so I didn't have to do it myself. It's that quiet time of lying there and getting your hair done. Nobody talks to you if you don't want them to. To me, it's like downtime.
Dustin
I feel like you're a pretty grounded person. In the last year or two, what have you become better at saying no to?
Tracy
I've been working on no because I'm not good at it. I've worked on saying no to clients. I have worked on saying no to projects. I want to help so many people and I realized it was spreading me way too thin. I've worked hard at saying no to clients and finding a faster way to refer them onto someone else.
Dustin
Do you have any secret success routines?
Tracy
I don't know about routines. I'm a big reader. Probably that is the biggest thing for me. I do a series of quick scans every single morning of the news. I'm not talking about national news or political news, I'm talking about industry news, invention news or innovation or whatever that might be, whatever I'm writing about or listening to lately. I do a quick scan of all of those things and see if there's anything urgent that I need to know that just happened. I save them all and I never go a week without reading them all by the end of the week. It is something where most people will scan the headlines and then think they read it. I make sure to read them all the way through. I do that usually on my Sundays. It's my quiet time to get through them all. Having invested time into being a speed reader has helped me.
Dustin
Since you mentioned reading, what's been a book that's had a profound impact on you?
Tracy
I'm a big fan of a couple of different books I've been reading. It's one of the books I mention all the time when people ask me this. I'm a big fan of Shane Snow's Smartcuts. It's a fascinating book and it has lots of tech on it. It is about how to find that quick cut between Point A and Point B that is smart and that is going to make you more efficient. I love that book. That's one of my very favorites. I am very intrigued about this emergence of the world in which whether or not our consciousness is creating matter, or matter is creating consciousness. Which way is our thinking going and does our consciousness exist out in the universe? Is it going to live beyond us?
Mark Gober wrote a great book called An End to Upside Down ThinkingI just finished that and wrote an article about him. He's amazing in how much science and data is on these woo-woo things. These things that we think would be insanely crazy like remote viewing or ESP. There is a lot of science and data that he pulls behind it and saying, "If we can't explain that and yet we can't debunk it, then why are we not investing more and learning more about it?"
Dustin
Tracy, thank you big time. I truly appreciate having you on the show. If folks want to know more about your empire and you've got a lot of things going on, where can people find out about you if they want to create products and market those products, the podcasting stuff that you do and the writing that you do?
Tracy
The fastest way to find me anywhere is to find me on LinkedIn. Tracy Hazzard on LinkedIn, it's not too hard to find me there. If you want to connect with me directly that's the best way to do that. Feed Your Brand is our podcast for podcasters or videocasters. Product Launch Hazzards is our product-based podcast. Those are the best ways to get to know me and get to know if there's something that you're interested in and how I might help you.
Dustin
I truly appreciate you taking the time for us here at WealthFit. Thanks again.

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