How These Freight Creators Leveled Up
Episode Transcript
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It’s that time of the year when the days between Thanksgiving and the New Year feel like one giant blur. But it’s also a time to think about the things you want to get done in 2024. So what better way to get a handle on what to be thinking about than a mega episode of this year’s best shows? 

In this episode, we’re highlighting the creators in freight that appeared on the pod in 2023. Freight creators have grown tremendously since COVID and I firmly believe that we are still only scratching the surface of the content to be covered in this industry. 

Titans like Kevin Rutherford and Mike Lombard are noticeably missing from this episode, but that’s because you can find them in the Trucking edition of our best-of series. But for this one, you’ll get the likes of Joe Lynch, Rahmel Wattley, Matthew Leffler, Reed Loustalot, and Kevin Lawton. 

These episodes will play in order of how I think they will be the most valuable to you, the listener, but if you want to jump to a specific part, I’ve got each episode time-stamped as well as the link back to the original episode – which has some handy show links and ways to get in touch with the guest or topic from that episode. 

Lastly, thank you so much for the support you’ve given this show during our first year of going fully independent. While these “best ofs” are airing, I’ll be finalizing the first part of 2024’s content plan with tons of new content on the way. 

Until then, enjoy and I hope you find this episode helpful….




Are you experienced in freight sales or already an independent freight agent? Listen to our Freight Agent Trenches interview series powered by SPI Logistics to hear directly from the company’s agents on how they took the leap and found a home with SPI freight agent program.

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Show Transcript

See full episode transcriptTranscript is autogenerated by AI

Blythe Brumleve: 0:05

It's that time of the year when the days between Thanksgiving and the New Year feel like one giant blur, but it's also time to be thinking about the things you want to get done in 2024. So what better way to get a handle on what to be thinking about than a mega episode of this year's best shows from the Everything Is Logistics Is podcast. Now, in this episode, we're highlighting the creators and freight that have appeared on the pod in 2023. Freight creators, just in general, have grown tremendously since COVID, and I firmly believe that we are still only scratching the surface of the content to be covered in this industry now. Titans like Kevin Rutherford and Mike Lombard are noticeably missing from this particular episode, but that's only because you can find them in the trucking edition of our Best of series. There's also a notable missing person in here, which is Grace Sharkey, which she will have her own special episode. So fear not, be on the lookout for that as well. However, for this one, you're going to get the likes of Joe Lynch, rameel Watley, matthew Leffler, reed Loosalott and Kevin Lawton. Now these episodes are going to play in order of how I think they will be the most valuable to you, the listener, but if you want to jump to a specific part, I've got each episode time stamped as well as a link back to the original episode, which has some handy show links and ways to get in touch with the guest or a topic from that episode. Now, lastly, thank you so much for the support you've given this show during our first year of going fully independent. And while I am serving up these best ofs, I'm also going to be behind the scenes finalizing the first part of 2024's content plan for the podcast not just the podcast, but also our YouTube channel as well, with tons of new content on the way. But until then, I hope you enjoy happy holidays and I hope you find this episode helpful. Obviously, I've been a longtime fan of yours and you've been really, you know. For folks who may not know, you've really been a pioneer in this space. When it comes to this, you know newer newish, I guess, to logistics medium, and that is podcasting. But before you got to podcasting, you actually spent quite a bit of time as a writer, as also working in logistics. So for folks who may not be aware of your career background before podcasting, can you kind of give us an idea of that?

Joe Lynch: 2:24

Yep. So since I've been working a long time, I'll make a bullet point. So I started my career at 19. I went to work for my dad's engineering business and we were in Michigan, dearborn, and he did mostly automotive engineering and I was a draftsman God, look it up, kids. It's like using it was before the CAD systems came and then I went. Eventually my dad had a small company. He had heart attack. I ended up working. I'm running that company. So my hair started going gray and we ultimately closed that business. But I stayed in automotive engineering and product development. I got my degrees at night and took like 19 years I don't advise and I stayed in automotive, kind of moving up through engineering, and then I was a program manager. I launched cars all over the world China, thailand, europe, mexico and I traveled. I had a good life In 2008, 2009, when all the automotive companies went bankrupt. I was doing work with Chrysler. I didn't work there, but I was a supplier and they went on a business Mind should say Chrysler. They went bankrupt, they didn't pay us and I lost my job. I was at this little company that I was hoping to buy someday and suddenly I found myself out of work and at that time I couldn't have bought myself a job in automotive. There was nothing to be gotten. And so I got recruited to this little logistics company and I went to work there and it was great. They had a TMS, they did. It was off the shelf I won't say who, but it was great. And I'd say this life at that time, 2010, as I'm showing potential customers that they looked at me like I was Steve Jobs. They were waving people into the room. You should see this. What do you call this show? I call it the transportation management system. But about that time I also started writing the logistics of logistics as a blog and my purpose was to get business, and what I quickly noticed is yes, I have a successful blog, followed by my competition, other logistics people. So this following, I started the logistics of logistics group on LinkedIn, which now has like 215,000 people in it, but it was just writing to gain some notoriety. I will also say this I can never forget what this felt like to be in an industry for many years in automotive and all of a sudden be out and really unable to find a job. When I went to logistics, I took a huge pay cut and it was a little company kind of in turnaround mode. I was the COO, general manager titles come cheap, but I learned a ton from the founder of that company. We grew the triple the size of the company. Law was there and I thought I'm never going back. I thought I'd be back to automotive after two years but I loved how entrepreneurial this space was and I loved how it was just wide open. And, by the way, there was also automotive is very mature. Logistics is very immature. It's growing up now. But anyway, I started the podcast five years ago. At that time I had left that little logistics company and I was doing some consulting. I was helping, I was doing some digital marketing like you kind of do We've talked about that in the past and doing some digital marketing. I was doing some sales training. I also advise very large shippers on how to select a 3PL. And right about that time, right before COVID, my executive coach said by that time I've been podcasting two years and she said why don't you make the podcast your main business? And I was like, because I don't make any money on it about that and how does that work? And she goes we'll figure it out. And so I do have some sponsors and starting to get advertisers and I still have still dabbling in a little consulting. So that's my long blathering story. But I've learned so much and I've enjoyed it so much over the last five years, really seriously over the last two or three years.

Blythe Brumleve: 6:48

And so it really. It was just a recommendation from your coach to start the podcast. That that was the big reason why you started it.

Joe Lynch: 6:54

I had started it. There was a guy I forgot his name now. He was a blogger in logistics and, by the way, he deleted his. His name is George. He deleted his blog. It got basically hacked and he invited me on his podcast and he said I'm doing a podcast for high school sports in Pennsylvania. We talked about it a lot and then he cared more about that and ultimately he started doing really well on that. But I remember when he said would you be on my podcast to talk about logistics? I was like George, what are you doing Like we're bloggers? We don't, we're not doing that. And then I was like you know, that was easier than writing an article. You know that life, it's a lot easier to hear blowhards like me talk than sit out and write.

Blythe Brumleve: 7:42

Yes, and and I love that you said that you know we're writers. We don't do podcasts, Cause I said the same thing about myself I'm not in front of the camera, I'm a writer. I will never do that.

Joe Lynch: 7:54

At least you look good in front of the camera, Blythe.

Blythe Brumleve: 7:57

You do as well too, and that's and I think, you know and I manifest.

Joe Lynch: 8:01

Somebody said to me you look a lot younger in real, in person, in real life, and I was like, yeah, but who sees me in real life? God darn it.

Blythe Brumleve: 8:11

Oh, that's well, you know, as we kind of. So you started, you know, before COVID, because I think COVID was kind of the catalyst for a lot of different content marketers in logistics, and that's where you saw, you know, a lot of the networking that you know at conferences, where all the conferences were virtual and so everybody moved to remote. And so you, you saw this growth, a extraordinary growth of just marketers going on LinkedIn and you know, making live streams and then turning those into podcasts, and I was one of those folks included. I've been a podcaster since 2014, but I never logistics specific until it was around. You know, 2019 is when I started the digital dispatch podcast, which is now. Everything is logistics. But what did you? What did you make of that? First? You know, sort of, I guess, six months of like the COVID lockdown and seeing all of these, these people making content. What were your initial thoughts?

Joe Lynch: 9:08

Well, I did know just that a lot of them quit after they do it for a while. And I would also say, every once in a while somebody will say, well, that other podcaster competes against you. But I never see it that way, I just see it as first off. I've said this about freight waves. They're like. They're like the Beatles and the rest of us, the rest of the British invasion, kind of following on their coattails. They have long, wide coattails for us to ride. But they created a larger market. When somebody listens to your podcast and they go, oh okay, I listen to life, and then hopefully they come over to mine or some others. There has to be a market for this. So the bigger the market, the better for everybody. And I would also say there was just some conversation. Dan the driver on LinkedIn had said something about what podcast should I be on, and he was saying what are the stats? Show me the stats. And I was kind of making the. I made the point that it's like a community that gets built in these and between other podcasters, but between the audience. And then also, even if a thousand downloads a month is all you have, and you know those people and you start to build that relationship, and that's what happens. Relationships happen. Before we hit record, we were talking about manifest. We're talking about some other stuff. We got to blather it on for an hour just because we've gotten to know each other through podcasters. We've been on my my podcast a few times, so I don't know if I answered your question there, but I, what I made of it was good. Now I do know that some are not going to last and that's fine. It is hard harder than it seems to keep a podcast going. When I was still working on a lot of stuff, I struggled to get my podcasts out.

Blythe Brumleve: 11:00

Yeah, for sure, it's definitely a. You know, I think both of us are lucky in the sense that now it pretty much is our full time focus and so we are able to allocate that, those, that time and that resources. But we're really only able to allocate that time and resources through the support of advertising, sponsorship partners, things like that.

Joe Lynch: 11:19

Um, so for a lot of listeners.

Blythe Brumleve: 11:21

Yes, and you can't get that unless you have those listeners, unless you start somewhere, unless you start building that community like you were talking about, and so I think it's something like 90% of all podcasts never make it past 10 episodes.

Joe Lynch: 11:36

I've heard the same thing and, by the way, there was just um. I listened to a local guys who used to be the rock and roll station DJs in the morning kind of the morning suit thing that doon were always talks about. A drew and Mike are the number one podcasters in Michigan. I listened to their podcast. I drove to work listening to them for many years. Then they got old older I should say and they they lost. They were the number one in the Detroit area. They have a podcast and they were just they were reading off about. They can say this cause they're podcasters, you can't do it if you're on the radio. They were talking about some of the stats and they said the dumb money's coming out of this because we saw every celebrity get a podcast all of a sudden and they don't have time. They have other stuff going on and they aren't content creators. And I will say also, they're used to the idea that I'm the star. I'm the star of the show. If you're interviewing somebody in there and you think I'm the star of the show, so the interview with you, blythe, is secondary. That's not necessarily going to make anybody happy. It's not fun to listen to.

Blythe Brumleve: 12:40

Yeah, definitely, especially if you over the last few years, which is sort of the changing and sort of the I guess the, the mainstream media and how a lot of these reporters and broadcasters think they are the star of the show and that people will follow them, for you know their opinions and it's like, well, maybe to an extent, but you're still. The story is about the guess that's coming on the show, not necessarily about you.

Joe Lynch: 13:07

Yeah, I think I just try and keep that in mind because I have a big mouth, but I always remind myself that you know, when somebody says, oh, I really like your podcast, I said it's really my ability to find good people to come on my podcast and early on I was asking friends to come on my podcast. You were on my podcast very early and I remember it was still still using not squadcast like I use now, not like you use, but I was using, I think, ringer and I remember I was having we were having all these technical problems and you said you had worked in TV and you said, oh, trust me, this happens every day in TV and I was like, oh, so embarrassed, but it was in the beginning. How do I get anyone to do this? But I was lucky. I was lucky. I wrote a million articles as you did. I already had a little bit of a following before I went on the podcast and I think that can't be underestimated to be able to say, yes, I'm brought some people with me to the forum.

Blythe Brumleve: 14:07

And so you, you, you, you spent some time, you know, writing, of course, not some time. You spent a lot of time writing, way too much time and then you start building up your, your, your following on different social media channels. And now, now, as you start the podcast, what sort of goes into your editorial and, I guess, distribution strategies? How are you, I guess, picking the right guests to have on the show, cause that's a that's a challenging thing for me to do, so I would love to be able to hear an experience.

Joe Lynch: 14:39

Well, I did not know the right thing to do in the beginning. After a while I started realizing LinkedIn is your best friend on this because I can look and see how big the company is. So I try not to talk to anybody when they're brand new, because they're going to learn so much and there's also a good chance they're going to go out of business. So I also think I want to talk to companies that are established that can say here's what we do, here's how we do it. So I'm looking somewhat for established companies, but I also will say if I see somebody doing really cool technology that I don't know anyone else doing, or I want them on my podcast. I want to do on my podcast. You were just on I've referenced it many times since. You talked about connecting the digital dots and I was like we were both talking about lead coverage and Cara Brown and I mentioned it when I talked to her that you said most companies don't connect their digital dots and that was something I wasn't hearing from anyone else and I thought, yeah, I don't care how big your company is. You have a great idea. But anyway, as far as how I pick, I pick based on. Is it something I haven't talked about yet. That's interesting. Is it a big company? Of course, if somebody from Merisk wants to be on your podcast, you're like of course, it's one of the largest companies in the world, they're going to have some cool stuff to say. But so is the small guy who's got a brand new tech that no one's ever heard of and you go I would like to talk. You get them when they're when they're brand new, and they'll still talk to you Five years later. They might not take your call.

Blythe Brumleve: 16:18

Well, hopefully they will take your call if you were one of the first people to offer them that platform. So how do you so? I think you know, for folks who create content, that you kind of eventually, especially in podcasting, you kind of get to this fork in the road and I faced it when I was in sports where either you're going to cover the evergreen topics or you're going to cover the breaking news. It's very difficult to do both, because I think you get addicted to those breaking news numbers. But it to me, breaking news numbers just don't have the shelf life of evergreen conversations. You know, I want to be able to have a discussion that is still applicable, you know, six months from now. How do you sort of you know, determine what you're going to cover that? Is it either news or is it you know more evergreen, or is it kind of both?

Joe Lynch: 17:09

I like. I like the evergreen. And what you mean by that evergreen is I didn't do any. There's not one podcast I did, called COVID, and people would say I would like to come on your podcast and talk about COVID. I was like, call Freight Waves, they have a whole podcast about COVID and God bless them, they can. They've got 15 podcasts. They're always starting a new one, ending an old one, right, and that's a good fit. They are a news. Among other things, they're a news company. I like the idea of stories. I think it's, I think we all connect with stories. It's not necessarily a marketing strategy, but, boy, it helps. When you go, I really. I talked to Blythe and I love her story, I love her expertise and I want to work with her and we are irrational beings when I, when I like your story and I believe you can solve my problem because of the way you described my problem, so when? So, to answer your question, I am much more about the, the longterm, the evergreen. I just I like it better.

Blythe Brumleve: 18:15

What about you know from from the lens of you know distribution, where all of these? You know social media has been around for a decade but it feels like there's new strategies, there's new tools, there's all kinds of you know new platforms. How do you choose where to focus is to get the message out about the podcast.

Joe Lynch: 18:34

Yes, I've done a horrible job on some of this. So right now I don't have a TikTok and I, you know, if I was to look at over Paul at Frey Caviar, he's got a great, great TikTok. I'm not on TikTok. I don't have Instagram yet. I will, I'll get, I'll probably get to Instagram. I don't know about TikTok, but I have not gone that way. And I gotta tell you this is a weird thing. It kind of blew my mind. It might might not blow yours, cause you're you're more focused on the social media, but I heard a. I heard Pat Flynn, who's kind of an influencer in the space I think it was him say yeah, if you start a podcast, you should also think that you're going to that's, that'll be the foundation for your business. The YouTube videos are going to be a big part of it. So is the the content strategy for social media and a newsletter. And I was like, and so I was like well, that's so you could look right now and say I do the podcast and the reason I do the podcast is so I can have a whole bunch of video clips and some people will listen to the podcast itself. Others are just going to watch the five minute video clip, and so things have changed. I did not think anything about this when I started the podcast life. When I did the first few first few years of podcasts, there was no video and I would be in a sweatshirt. I didn't shave, I was going to the gym or going for a walk. Now, with the video, you're like oh, I have to worry about my background. I got to still fix, fix my background. That is a challenge and also it's even if I get it right. I still have guests who aren't getting it right. So, but anyway, getting back to it, video changed everything and I do think how you distribute it is really big and I'm not done as good a job. This year I will improve on some of that stuff.

Blythe Brumleve: 20:26

I'm in the same boat as you. It feels like there's so many different components and you have to almost know that platform, not almost. You pretty much have to know that platform inside and out before you even start creating content there. And so I think that that's where I struggle with, especially when it comes to YouTube, because I do want to capitalize on the short form video, with YouTube shorts to the long form video. I think there's a lot of promise there, but there also has to. There's a time and a bandwidth issue. That goes on with making a podcast. I mean, my God, I was just talking to you before we started recording that I, you know, I'm talking to six people today and it's you got to prep for all of them, you got to edit all of them and then you have to add that additional layer of video onto it. I think video is great for recording, but I haven't cracked the YouTube nut yet, and that is, it's a struggle.

Joe Lynch: 21:23

I got to tell you. If you go on YouTube right now, you'll see our buddy Ramel Wadley Truckin' Hustle podcast. I think he has over a hundred thousand subscribers on YouTube. He's done a fantastic job on video and, by the way, I create a lot of videos. We put them up on YouTube but we haven't cracked the SEO and the thumbnails. And when I say cracked, it's basically focused and getting the right people on. And I'm actually doing that because I start to realize that's what some of my sponsors want. So my audience wants and I throw this back out there like every one of my podcasts and every one of your podcasts, you have to make your audience happy. You have to bring them something that hopefully they get value from and it's not entertainment. They want to learn something about the business. And then your sponsors they are all looking. Your advertisers are all looking for favorable attention and that's why we say it's a weird juggling act. You can't go full infomercial on it and go. Yes, I just did a 30 minute advertisement and my audience hates it, but that's okay Cause my advertiser likes it. And you said this to me years ago about news stations. I know you've worked in the news before that. Watch local news. They have sold their soul to advertisers, in some cases.

Blythe Brumleve: 22:46

Are you in freight sales with a book of business looking for a new home? Or perhaps you're a freight agent in need of a better partnership? These are the kinds of conversations we're exploring in our podcast interview series called the freight agent trenches, sponsored by SPI logistics. Now I can tell you all day that SPI is one of the most successful logistics firms in North America, who helps their agents with back office operations such as admin, finance, it and sales. But I would much rather you hear it directly from SPI's freight agents themselves. And what better way to do that than by listening to the experienced freight agents tell their stories behind the how and the why they joined SPI? Hit the freight agent link in our show notes to listen to these conversations or, if you're ready to make the jump, visit SPI3PLcom. Yes, and even like a local radio too. It's all driven by the advertiser model, which is really, which is only opposite. It makes it really interesting to see some of these other platforms. You know, like a sub stack or even like the. There's a new show that I watch, called breaking points, that they're completely independently funded.

Reed Loustalot: 23:55

Listener funded.

Rahmel Wattley: 23:57


Blythe Brumleve: 23:57

I think that's fascinating. I think that that could be a move in in my future is completely being listener funded. It's not the right choice right now because I feel like I'm still building, but what are your thoughts on sort of that independent listener route?

Joe Lynch: 24:11

I definitely. I respect that. I like that. I don't think it's for me and the reason I think this is, I think my, I really like the idea of helping companies kind of craft their message and getting it out there. Yes, but I don't think one has to preclude the other. I also. I look at Jordan Peterson. I just saw this. Whether you like him or not, he's built this fantastic media empire books and video and he has a Patreon. Like the dude is making hundreds of thousands of dollars a month and he has a Patreon. Hey, please support my channel. You're like oh okay, good for you, man. And then he gets an extra 30 grand is going to help.

Blythe Brumleve: 24:59

I mean, yeah, I guess it's just more of you know having different lines in the water and you know the different revenue streams, maybe in case you know, especially in his, in his case, where he could get shut down I think at any moment.

Joe Lynch: 25:10

Yes, yes, yeah, anybody political can. I was at my mom's house and my mom had Drew Barrymore showing and I've always liked Drew Barrymore and Drew Barrymore was like, oh my God, I had such a great weekend, blah, blah, blah. We had some friends over and we decided we're going to play some games and I just bought this new game and all of a sudden, the back of her background turns to this game and it turns into this infomercial with Drew Barrymore talking about this game that she loved. But it it felt like, drew, you would have just been so much better off saying, hey, I got a great new advertiser, as opposed to, like taking us through this fraud. Like I hate that and I feel like that's so stupid. I and we all are, we all have sponsors. We have those people and I always say everybody is on my podcast, whether they're paid sponsor or not. I want them to get business. I want they took time to help me with my content. My audience wanted to learn something from them. I want them to show up. Good, you probably get this too, like everyone's. Like you're not going to ask any. Like got your questions. You're like why would I? What's in it for me? Like, not an investigative reporter.

Blythe Brumleve: 26:28

I'm not right and that's I. I actually I tweeted this out recently because a PR rep, who shall go unnamed, um, wanted me to send over a very detailed list of questions for the guests that was coming on, their client, that was coming on my show, and I said no, I'm you know, here's a brief overview. So I didn't say outright no, I just said here's an overview of the discussion, is? She said okay, great, Can you send over the specific questions you're going to be asking? And I was like this is not a dissertation, it's a conversation, and I think that that's where most folks get it wrong is they treat it like breaking news. They don't treat it like a conversation.

Joe Lynch: 27:05

You know let me throw this out there to you, and perhaps you've seen the same thing I did when I was a blogger. I was, I was still the general manager and COO of a logistics company and I would put that in the bottom. I said you know, this is the way we do it, blah, blah, blah. I would kind of say I am the general manager, coo of a logistics company, so I'm I was not trying to imply that I'm a neutral third party and then I started doing a lot of webinars on how to select a 3PL. Was I honest and open about that? Yes, but I did also say I manage a 3PL, so I'm in this business. Now I did get some work that way. But what I felt happened a little bit in blogging is, as soon as marketing heard, there's a blog, can we get part of that? And then they started saying hey, rather than that title, how about this title? And I used the term fluff and stuff, and I heard that from my friend Jody over at that and she said fluff and stuff is what what some marketers do. And all of a sudden it ends going from something that it felt authentic and real to this jargon filled title. And then, hey, rather than say this, how about you say this and you're, all of a sudden it turns it salesy. The same thing, I feel, can happen to podcasts. You have sponsors, you have advertisers, but really coming on super salesy, super strong, doesn't help you. You're if I've said, I say it this way, you're already on the date, you don't. It's like you're here, you're here, you don't need to sell, and I've said this to you before we hit record. If, if, if, at the end of my podcast, the guest my audience knows, likes and trusts my guests, relates to them on some level, that's a huge win. If they also say I see that person as the solution to the problem that I have, that's just win, that's all win. And and so I this was, this is the medium that your personality can come through, your story can come through and we connect with that.

Blythe Brumleve: 29:11

So how do you so when you you get a guest on that that comes on the show and they maybe get a little too salesy, how do you sort of navigate the, the, I guess the, the complexity of that?

Joe Lynch: 29:22

conversation. Yeah, I, I, I always say the what, what, how to make a bad podcast, and I've made plenty of bad podcasts. How to make a bad podcast is to be salesy, to be use a whole bunch of tech jargon like everybody understands it, to be monotone, Right, um, those things are what? And, by the way, the monotone thing, I kind of feel like we all match the host's energy. So I've done podcasts where some like founders, like I can do it at seven o'clock at night and I was like, yeah, you might be able to, but I will be, I will be low energy and then you'll match my energy and it'll suck. So, anyway, how do I manage when somebody's overly salesy? I don't know that, I necessarily do, but I always say, if it's a conversation like we're having now, I don't ever feel like the need to say yeah, by the way, blythe the logistics of logistics, cause, cause, whatever I say, after that people go oh, that guy's, I don't like that guy.

Rahmel Wattley: 30:24

He's selling.

Joe Lynch: 30:25

We in the West. That's like finger nails on a chalkboard. When you hear somebody start selling your, your, your defenses go up. You're like you're the door to door guys who would say so what's your name? Blythe? Oh Blythe, that's great, I love that name, that's my mom's name or whatever. And then and then when they say something like Blythe, can you see how this might be a value to you and your family?

Blythe Brumleve: 30:53

You go get out Like we hate that, and so I think we're just so, as Americans, we're so conditioned to seeing commercials with everything that we almost kind of ignore them. So I think you know, when folks come on and they, you know to your point, and they're too salesy, you're just immediately going to to tune out the conversation, maybe switch to the show. So it's in the guest's best interest to not be so pushy in. You know, just a traditional conversation setting.

Joe Lynch: 31:25

I think what's also interesting and I'm sure you have the same experience when you have a guest who comes on and there's a lot of founders, a lot of executives, innovators, who are very humble and they have failed more times than they've succeeded and they're happy to share those failures, and you go, oh, this guy's real, I before he was on my podcast, I just thought this is the king of the universe and he's made all this money or she's made all this money. And then you get to talking to him and they're like oh, this I, oh, that company went out of business, I got fired, this happened, this happened. You go, oh, I relate, we all can relate to this. What you can't relate to is the guy or the gal who you know at 19, I started a company and I never looked back and I've I've killed it. But humility goes a long way. Being real goes a long way. I don't care how much, how well you've done in your business. We all, we all go home, to challenges at home, whatever they might be, and you've got teenagers. You're never the boss.

Blythe Brumleve: 32:27

Which my parents would definitely have agreed. You know, all those years ago when I was a teenager.

Joe Lynch: 32:33


Blythe Brumleve: 32:33

Joe, do you? Do you have a few favorite conversations that you've ever, ever had?

Joe Lynch: 32:39

Oh, my God, I've really had. I I've had so many and I'm not just saying this because I'm on your show. I used to connect in the digital dots which I had a conversation with you, I don't know, a few months ago. I love that Recent ones. I haven't even published them yet. I did an interview with Ashley Thomas. She's a she's driver recruiting and they're making a movie about her life. She was a. Yeah, you should have to have her on your podcast. She had this horrible, horrible upbringing when she was young. I'll let her tell that story. She was great on my podcast just because she came from nowhere and made a really successful company. I just talked to Paul Jarrett. He's the founder of a Bulu group, him and his wife out in Lincoln, nebraska, and it's funny, when I started talking to me he said I'm a proud product of the Shamrock trailer park in Lincoln, nebraska, and he has killed it. The him and his wife have really done a great job over there. So those are I mean published those ones. Yet I have I loved interviewing Orinces Lansky from Flock Freight. I've interviewed Andrew and Michael from Leto, from Emerge. I mean those guys that they have kind of revolutionized this industry. I interviewed Doug Wagner, ceo of and, by the way, when you're interviewing Doug Wagner, he's the CEO over at Echo Global Logistics. I was like intimidated, this guy's. He grew a company from 60 million to 4.5 billion in sales in 16 years, but he is humble and thoughtful. I've never had too much of anybody treat me anything less than cordially and like a friend. So I feel this is the coolest. I've said this before I would do my podcast if no one listened, because I have interviewed 350 people, who many have become good friends.

Blythe Brumleve: 34:43

And that's. I think that that is unique to podcasting where you can, because you're, you're sitting in front of a you know a camera, of course, but you're having these really heartfelt conversations about someone's life and you know what got them to the place that they are today, and so that that's an intimate conversation and it's also, I think, podcasting itself is just such an intimate experience because you're in someone's ear. You're in someone's ear while they're they're driving to work, while they're taking their kids to school, while you're cleaning the house, and that's just unique to that medium.

Joe Lynch: 35:17

I think there's also another aspect of it is you do podcasts all the time, so do I, so you kind of get used to doing them. But for a lot of people, even though even if they're very successful in their business, they don't they don't do a lot of them, or maybe they're introverted and they don't even feel that comfortable doing it when you're kind of guiding them through. And at the end when they go oh, I think I came off really good. That is a. Really you can almost not have done a bigger favor to somebody and and I think people really appreciate it Like, oh my God, blythe made me sound like I'm really smart and. But when you're talking to people about the stuff they are expert in, they are really smart. And I think people are so used to being remember we all we learned public speaking in elementary school read this book and then stand up in front of the class and talk, talk about it. You're like all right, well, I'm going to try and read some of the book and then I'm going to try and wing it and I will get over the embarrassment if not knowing. Well, we don't have to do that in our business lives because we are hopefully pretty much expert in the stuff we do.

Blythe Brumleve: 36:25

And I think, too, you know, you hit the nail on the head, for for a lot of these different conversations, because it's it, we're almost the, the, the people who are passing the alley, you to the founders and the people who can dunk the, who can dunk it into the basket, but that's. You know that. I think that's the goal of any good podcast host. So, so, for companies who you know, maybe they started up a podcast, you know, and and 2020, and maybe they let it get a little dormant or they're thinking about starting a podcast, what, I guess what would be some, some tips that you would give to folks who are just, you know, interested in in dipping their toe in the podcast water.

Joe Lynch: 37:01

Yeah, I think I think it's a great way to meet people. Again and again, I think it's a great way to build relationships, and you know a lot of my sponsors. I suspect some of your sponsors and advertisers come because they were on your podcast and they liked the experience, so they get to know you and go. I'd like to work with Blythe, I'd like to work with Joe, so that is a great way to build relationships. I would, as far as my advice on it, I think you have to kind of experiment and figure out what actually works because, um, once we're on a list of some podcasts that I go uh, they don't have the production quality right, they didn't want to spend on that, and maybe the host um, you got to do a lot of these for your any good. You came from a background in broadcasting, so you're good at it. I feel like you said this to me about when I first started my podcast. I said I can't listen and you go oh yeah, I was that way when I was on the, on the sports on TV, couldn't watch, couldn't listen. I felt that way for months, like, and I remember somebody said I really like your podcast. So I was like shut up, shut up. So it takes time to get um, proficient. So you have to kind of get past that. And I would also say you really need to figure out what the right topic is, because if your goal is, we're a logistics company, we're just going to interview shippers, um, you better figure out an angle that makes sense for them, because they're like, well, what's in it for me? Why should I go on your podcast, right? And um, also, you, just you have to watch it becoming salesy, because that's the nature of it. It comes from marketing, it comes from and I'm a sales guy, we're all sales people, but we have to just tone it down in that. And um, I would also say this I'll throw this out there who knows what the future brings, but I do think we're going to end up with more cooperation and more overlap in how these work. Because it makes sense, because not everybody should have to have a podcast. I mean, if you want one and it's it's working, great, but you shouldn't have to have one, it's just just because it just like blogs. When I was doing website development, everyone would say, yeah, we want to have a blog. And I would always say, why don't we hold off until you actually give me all the content for the website, because you don't want to write that. Yet you think you want to blog once a week. You know how you would torture that is.

Blythe Brumleve: 39:34

Cause it's really the the, the time, dedication to it. You know, and and I've kind of come around on this cause for a while I was trying to teach everybody about the value of podcasting and that you should start one and it's, you know, a great way to meet your customers. It's a great way to to interview your customers and, you know, develop that product roadmap. And you know, yada, yada, yada, just singing the praises of podcasting, which I still sing today. But it is very challenging to find a host that is a founder, that is can be the voice of your company, because you don't want them to leave, and then the voice of your company leaves, and so being able to have someone that has the time and the dedication and the talent in order to dedicate to a craft that they are not going to be good at at first. They're going to have to figure out a lot of things along the way, and are you still going to do it after all of those challenges?

Joe Lynch: 40:28

Right, and, by the way, before, just before COVID, I was traveling someone. I remember having to come home on Friday and do a podcast or two and just be like I've just got, I'm jet lagged and just like I don't want to do it, and that's the nature of being a founder. So, like finding the time or finding someone, say there's some challenges. That's why I think there's going to be more cooperation, where you're like maybe you're working with a number of brands and I'm working with some brands, and just because it makes sense.

Blythe Brumleve: 40:57

So what does a typical week look like for you?

Joe Lynch: 41:00

So I published three podcasts a week Monday, wednesday and Friday. So that is always got my attention and then I'm always trying to create more content. So I spent a lot of time on LinkedIn kind of looking at people. Now I've been asking lately on my podcast I like to interview smart, interesting people like you, blythe, who else should I interview? So that's kind of got me networking with a lot of people, which is fun. You get to meet people I might not otherwise have met. But I do spend a lot of time on LinkedIn, a lot of time checking my podcasts. I do spend some time trying to reach out to my existing sponsors and advertisers and kind of reaching out to other ones, trying to spend all day Tuesday doing that. I've never really focused that much on that but as I realized I might want to hire like full time video people, I'm like okay, unless somebody drops. The same boat, unless I win the lottery. I guess I better go get some more sponsors. I'm more advertised. Treat this like a business. By the way, what I did for a long time is I put my head down and said I'm going to get really good at this and that's it. I'll get sponsors as they come, but I didn't have a sales effort and now I'm doing more of that.

Blythe Brumleve: 42:20

So, as you're developing your sales effort, what about for the companies who maybe starting a podcast is probably not right for them, so they would rather just invest in a podcast that is already you know. You don't have to worry about any of those warning signs that we just kind of laid out. So what advice would you give, I guess, maybe to companies who would want to become a sponsor of the logistics, of logistics?

Joe Lynch: 42:45

Well, like I have sponsors and they come on my podcast like once a quarter and I interview somebody from the company and we talk about what they do and how they do it, and once a quarter hopefully doesn't feel like it's an infomercial at that point. I also am careful about sponsors. I don't want to, I don't ever want to have to bring a sponsor on. That I feel doesn't bring something new to the party, right, and I listened to other podcasts and once in a while you hear the advertiser. This is not a logistics thing. This is often separate from logistics. I would never have that as a sponsor just because it like if you listen to a lot of sponsorships, it's like they've got the whole network has the same sponsor. So I would say, getting back to answer your question, I would say collaborate with some of the. If you're a company that doesn't want to have your own podcasts, I think there's some real value. There is a social proof by being on your podcast or being on my podcast that you're, you're there, right, and that's not just ours. The freight waves on Chris, jolly and Ramel we mentioned so many others. I would say it makes sense because they're, you're going to have an audience. They're going to have the expertise, they're going to have the production, and you don't want to have to do that. Not I'm wrong way of saying it. If you choose not to do that, then go ahead. You can still do lots of podcasts with all the people I just mentioned and not have to invest in. I think the biggest worry you already brought it up is I hired a person to do the podcast and then they left. And now what?

Blythe Brumleve: 44:32

And two, I as far as like the production quality too, because I think for a especially you know, as someone that worked in radio for years it was so easy just to show up and just be a part of the show. But when you have to start doing it yourself and the only reason I started doing it myself was because I wanted more airtime on the radio and they wouldn't give it to me the way I wanted it and so I was like, well, I'll just start doing my own thing. And I started doing my own thing I was like, wow, this is actually pretty, pretty difficult. You got to get all the equipment. You got to. You know, make sure that your tech savvy, you got to get it, the, the, not just the show planning, but the equipment, the recording, the editing, the uploading, the distribution and so much to it. So to your point it really is. You know there is a full workload of items that you may not know, that you realize. So you can still start small and enter the game with, you know, just a really cheap microphone and you know, an iPhone. You can get started that way, of course, but having a dedication to improve those little aspects of all of those different important parts of podcasting is really important to continuously approve, improve on, because otherwise people aren't going to stick with you for very long.

Joe Lynch: 45:44

Yeah, I've, I've. I've noticed and it's kind of shocking bad audio quality. And, by the way, I have also launched stuff with poor audio quality, usually because of a bad connection with somebody, because I'm doing remote like this today. It sucks and it's. You don't think it matters until you're listening to good podcasts and you switch to one and you go what's going on over there? Why am I hearing all this noise? So there is, there's some value in, in partnering up with existing players who have an audience. The production quality is there and it just works better. We're seeing that we're. That's why people come to come to me. And, by the way, I should also say this I don't edit anything myself. I have Natalie works with me, she is actually works with one of my sponsors, Lean Solutions Group, and it's just so much easier for me not to have to do the editing, because it's hard enough to get three podcasts a week out.

Blythe Brumleve: 46:47

Oh God, I, yeah, yeah, I only do two a week, and so you're already like a machine, like putting three episodes out a week because that's that you can think, natalie, because I, you, you do the actual touching of the audio file.

Joe Lynch: 47:00

I can't fix that.

Blythe Brumleve: 47:01

Well, I, I used to, so it was important for me especially early on to know how to do it because in case of an emergency or even, you know, in last minute situations where there is something that I really want to cover it, I want to get it out, you know, sooner than my podcast editor will be able to tackle it. He is typically pretty good at tackling editing shows within 48 hours of recording them, but sometimes it's just it's immediate I need to get it out, like today. So I have I do. You know I'm what's the famous line Like? I know enough to be dangerous, but I trust the that I think that that's the biggest thing is sort of a founder as a podcaster is being able to trust that someone else can do that for you, and I think that that's a big step for every business owner that they have to make. And that's essentially what you're doing as a podcaster. You're running a business and you have to be able to trust other people to to care as much as you do.

Joe Lynch: 47:55

Yeah, and I'll throw this out there. We talked a little bit about YouTube. I feel like we see this convergence between YouTube and podcasting. So all of us who started as podcasters, like myself, slowly but surely creating more and more video clips, and I feel like when I look at big companies in our space some of some of whom are my sponsors many of them haven't invested in YouTube yet, but I feel like when it happens, we're going to find every billion dollar company is going to basically have their own network on YouTube, and so I feel like we're still. It's still early, as much as I watch YouTube more than I watch anything else, but we're still early in all this and I think what we need to start thinking of. The podcast is not just audio. Some people will listen to the podcast while working out or going for a walk or at going to the grocery store, but there's other people are going to watch video stuff online and we're going to get more and more sophisticated there.

Blythe Brumleve: 48:55

I echo that. Youtube is such an integral part of just my viewing habits every day, and if a podcast has a has a video option, I will watch that, even if it's just too, you know, like like we're doing here, two talking heads even if it's just that I I'd like to see people's faces and their mannerisms when they're speaking.

Joe Lynch: 49:13

Yeah, and, by the way, a friend of my pointed this out to me not so long ago. He said your videos, no one will watch 50 minutes of an interview on YouTube. And I said why not? And he goes there's only one camera angle for each face. He says with the stuff we watch has multiple camera angles and it cuts every second. And he goes it's visual and he goes you can watch a five minute or a 10 minute stuff video If you're interested in the topic. He said but you won't watch an hour and I was like interesting. So Joe Rogan's a perfect example. He got a little more production quality now, but before that it's hard to watch, unless you're cleaning the house and it's in the background.

Blythe Brumleve: 49:55

Yeah it. It's one of those things where it's you want to do it not just for the sake of doing it, but you also want to do it right, and I think that that's kind of where my conflict is with YouTube is that, yeah, I have uploaded videos that are just kind of like this two, two talking heads for that are speaking for an hour. What I like to make you know, more YouTube friendly videos, of course, but it's also a bandwidth issue and it's also a resources issue. So how do we get that next sponsorship in order to sponsor the YouTube to, you know, to sponsor the newsletter, Cause then that helps creators like us, you know, be able to justify that extra time to be able to hire someone to handle, you know, the editing portions of it or the uploading portions of it, and you do the things that you do best, and then you hire other people that that can do the things that that they do best. Now, Joe, which, which I guess podcasts or YouTube channels, or maybe both are, bring you regular inspiration, that that you find yourself watching and listening to.

Joe Lynch: 50:55

Well, I do like Drew and Mike. They're low, they're in Michigan, but so many people from Michigan spread out like everywhere else, so they were always on the radio so I listened to them. They're around four days a week, five days a week. So I like them and I I listened to them just for him going to bed Sometimes fall asleep listening. That's kind of gives me some Detroit flavor stuff, right Cause I don't listen to the radio, I watch Peter Zion. That's Z E I H A N. He is a geopolitical guy.

Blythe Brumleve: 51:30

I have his book right here, right yeah. I love his book, so his book the end of the world is just the beginning.

Joe Lynch: 51:35

Yep, and the end of the world is just the beginning. Is mind expanding? I mean, I can't believe how good that book is. Uh, yesterday I talked to a guy, um, from the near shoring company near shore company, and we talked about that at great length, um, but basically Peter's iron is a geopolitical guy. He has a YouTube channel every day at lunch. I w I watch him wherever he's at in the world and he's in New Zealand today and it's like a three minute video. He's talked about TikTok today and he took talked about how TikTok is going to be banned and it should be banned. And that was interesting to me because he's usually put pretty much a laser, laser fair and laser fair.

Blythe Brumleve: 52:20

Lase, lase.

Joe Lynch: 52:21

Lase fair. Yeah, guy, he's even said that um better than I did on the on the YouTube, but he did like a three minute video. But he talks a lot about the changing um trade patterns. So we're going to do less with China A supply chain guys need to know that. We're going to do more with Latin America. We need to know that Um. So I love that. I love Peter's iron. I love um um, I've everyone's from while I watched Joe Rogan and, by the way, I don't ever look I don't ever look at him as like a political guy at all. He's just a guy and, by the way, I know his guests are phenomenal. He also does. He. He would always say I'm just a dumb ass comedian. I think he smokes dope, I don't know. But by the way, he always says I vote was going to vote for Bernie Sanders. I'm not necessarily. I would not vote for Bernie Sanders. He's not my guy but I guess I don't care because he's just such a regular guy. But he became kind of a lightning rod. But I think anyone who thinks he's real political isn't watching Um. So I've enjoyed um. Not always, I've enjoyed a lot of his stuff. Um, who else I like? Megan Kelly's got a podcast I listen to sometimes. Again, she's more of a middle of the road news person, which I like. Um. You mentioned uh the with Christo and Sager.

Blythe Brumleve: 53:36

Uh, yes, I love them breaking points breaking points.

Joe Lynch: 53:39

They have a uh, he's from the right, she's from the left. I like that. I like you know. What I always say is I want politics and news to be boring again. It used to just be boring and I just waited. Hurry up, get to the sports and weather. I want it back in that box.

Blythe Brumleve: 53:57

And that's unfortunately. I don't think it's ever going to be back in that box, because you, you see, you know you just mentioned Megan Kelly Like you see, some of these bigger name broadcasters John Stewart is another one that have left their traditional roles and started up their own shows.

Joe Lynch: 54:11

I've. I will say I've listened to Bill Maher. I've, uh, I've enjoyed his stuff. He's a funny comedian and John Stewart, of course, you mentioned. So I love watching some of these short clips from some of these guys and I don't always listen to their podcasts. Some of them listen to the podcast, but sometimes it's just it's really easy to commit to a 10 minute video online where you're like that's John Stewart, he's funny, that's Bill Maher, he's funny, that's Joe Rogan. I like this.

Blythe Brumleve: 54:37

And then, before you know it, you've watched seven of their clips from the same show, and they're they. Kind of goes against the grain of the argument that the gentleman was making earlier, that no one's going to sit and watch a 50 minute interview. Well they'll, they might watch, you know, five clips in a row and that's pretty close to 50 minutes.

Joe Lynch: 54:51

Yes, I, I think, I think there's um, there's so much, so much great content out there. I've also. I was talking to Ramel Wotley and I said I love my first million podcast because that's a great show. And so I've listened to that one a lot. I'm trying to think who else I listened to.

Blythe Brumleve: 55:11

What about in the industry? Anybody in logistics that's making great content.

Joe Lynch: 55:15

Oh, I listened to your stuff. Every once in a while I've listened to Ramel's. I try and like so when you're coming on my podcast, I listen. Ramel Wotley's got a different audience than I do, but it's interesting, um, to listen, because I say this more on my podcast now this whole industry talks about tech and this, that the other thing, but it's built on the back of truck drivers and warehouse workers and dock workers and no one wants to do that job. We have to make those jobs better and so, um, I listen. I like listening to Ramel's because it feels like it's very much ground level and he's got a huge audience. He's done really well over there and he's met him and his wife at manifest. Well, I was talking to you, I think, when he walked up.

Blythe Brumleve: 55:58

Yeah, well, I only saw him in passing because he is one of those like bucket list people that. I really had him on the show a couple of times, but it just he. It almost feels like he's not getting enough attention that he deserves because he is doing it on just an upper echelon level. He for folks who may not know, ramel is the founder and CEO of truck and hustle and he has amazing content that comes out as as you were just talking about, you know from folks who are in the trenches entrepreneurs.

Joe Lynch: 56:27

He's got video. Video angles different cameras.

Blythe Brumleve: 56:30

I was like hell yeah, he travels with a video crew to different conferences.

Joe Lynch: 56:34

All his interviews all his interviews are live.

Blythe Brumleve: 56:37

He doesn't do remote like I will do a fly in to the company location and do the interview on site, and I just think that that is such a I don't know that anybody else in our industry are really just podcasters in general that are doing that at that level. So shout out to him for for really setting the standard of where and making the rest of us feel like, oh crap, we're not working hard enough, Right.

Joe Lynch: 57:02

I I always say, though, is there's, just there's. When I started listening to him, I realized he's talking to the guy who who started with one truck and bought two or three. I typically haven't talked to those guys in my podcast, not cause they're not important. I just that was not where I started. I kind of always wanted to deal with the talk about freight tech, but I do. I have had drivers on my podcast, and I do like having people who are closer to the ground, who give you the reality, and when I went to manifest I love being at manifest, cause I talked to all sorts of people and that's a little shot of reality, because I get the sense oh, everything's working out this way in the, in our business. Well then you talk to shippers and they're saying, no, not exactly. We do this manually. We do that. Oh, it doesn't AI do that? Doesn't machine learning somehow do that? I don't know how? Isn't it API or something you mentioned?

Blythe Brumleve: 57:55

all those phrases to a truck driver and you'll probably get hit over the head with a chair because they don't want any of that. You know sort of. You know big government privacy concerns ELDs. They don't want any of that. They just want to be able to do their job skillfully, like they've done for so many years, and it's important to hear those stories too.

Joe Lynch: 58:13

Yeah, and I will say I do like listening to other podcasts out there, but when you publish three a week, that means I'm listening to mine three hours a week. Plus I'm doing three or four.

Blythe Brumleve: 58:24

You're sick of logistics by that point.

Joe Lynch: 58:26

Yeah, and what else I also feel this way sometimes is I never want to copy because and I've listened to your podcast I'm not you, I can't be you, I'm not going to try to Same with Dooner. I listened to Tim Dooner's podcast and I remember thinking oops, I'm sorry, that's an amateur mistake, we are a little over, so yeah. I listened to. I listened to these podcasts and go, yeah, okay, listen to it, but don't, don't take it to heart, don't make, don't. All of a sudden, I can only be the second best Blife Brumley Stop.

Blythe Brumleve: 59:03

That's the problem.

Joe Lynch: 59:05

I guess, if I start copying you, I'm never, going to be you Exactly. So you kind of have to play your own game.

Blythe Brumleve: 59:11

Yes, and I think that that's so important for creators to remember, because it really is easy to see and I fell into this trap when I was working in sports broadcasting is that I saw what other companies were doing and they were getting all this attention and accolades and it's tough to not want to do those things in order to get those same accolades. But I was very intentional about when I started this show, about the things I would talk about, the format I would have, and I think you still have to constantly remind yourself when you see other podcasters, you know maybe getting a little bit more, you know, attention, whether it's in this industry or outside of this industry. You really have to remind yourself of that and I think you know, obviously you are sort of I think you and Ramelle are really at the top of the podcasting game in this space.

Joe Lynch: 1:00:00

I think you're saying that, but I really do have to remind myself of this is it's ultimately can't be judged that easily, can't just judge it by downloads, because Freight Waves has created this massive community and you kind of that matters you. Just I feel like I know certain podcasts. I saw Tim Dooner for the first time at Manifest. I felt like we were old friends, like so um. And also there's these communities. You're building one yourself, so you know how that is. It's there's relationships and engagements, so I can have a million downloads. And then, by the way, this happened with my group on LinkedIn. It's got 215,000 people in it. I remember when I had 20,000 people in it, I felt like I knew everybody. Now it's 215,000 people go wow, that's a huge group on LinkedIn. Is it is same with engagement? No, because there's different languages. There's people selling Mercedes from Qatar in there. I have to constantly delete people out. I would have. I would have had tears in my eyes to kick someone out of that group 10 years ago. Now I'm like so I guess my point is I don't like to focus on numbers, because one day the numbers are saying you're great. The next day they say you suck. It's the relationship, the engagement, the communities that we involve with, and that all sounds so hokey, but it's the truth.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:01:23

And I think that that sort of it signals to your sort of North Star for your show and why you continuously improve on it and get great guests. And really to go back to talking about shows, that I listen to your show all the time and I find that when I'm trying to do research on a guest that I'm going to talk to, I'll do a search in YouTube and you'll be the result that pops up and you have single-handedly saved my research process there are a lot of different interviews I've done.

Joe Lynch: 1:01:54

I saw a founder at Manifest and he said I was on your podcast. And he goes and everybody I've interviewed since for a job has listened to that podcast. That's awesome. And he said so I kind of like did you listen to the podcast? Yes, I did. And, by the way, my friend Chana from Robot he was on my podcast when they were still small and they're killing it over Robot. They are the king of the backstation. And Chana said I did a podcast interview with him. He worked at six warehousing companies in three months as a founder. He wanted to understand how these warehouses worked. And he said I put that podcast in my signature line on my email and he goes. People always ask me about it. So I always think, yeah, this can work.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:02:47

Oh, wow, what a marketing ploy to, or play is to, get the guest to link to the episode in their email signature. That is fantastic.

Joe Lynch: 1:02:56

Make everybody do that.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:02:58

Yes, everybody should do that right now.

Joe Lynch: 1:03:01

When you're not listening to this podcast. You should be fixing your email address. But yeah, I really do feel this way. I have a really cool job. You have a really cool job. You're talking to people every day who are really getting after it. You know they say you've become the average of the six people you talk to. Well, look who we talk to. Like, we are talking to people who are killing it, and that's not just founders. I talk to lots of people who are killing it in other ways. They're not necessarily not everyone has to be worth a ton of money to be having a big impact. And I love, I love what I do, just because of the people.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:03:40

Because we're going to be talking a lot about content in this, but I want folks who may not you know for you know if you've been living under a rock. You may not know about Ramil. What's your backstory? What was? Were you in trucking before you started making content for Truckin' Hustle?

Rahmel Wattley: 1:03:55


Blythe Brumleve: 1:03:55

You know, give us a little bit about that background.

Rahmel Wattley: 1:03:58

Yeah, okay. So I'll get into that, but first, before I do that, I want to congratulate you, blythe, on all your growth. You are like a rock star. I've seen and been watching, been taking notes. Watching Logistics Podcast is amazing. It's so smart and just amazing content. I love it. I'm a big fan. I want to put that out there first. All right On the mail. Now answer your question, all right. So my background, my background, is definitely heavily transportation rooted I. I've been in transportation half my life. I got into business around 22, 23, getting my CDL, got my CDL as really a means to an end because at that time I was on unemployment and I didn't have anything else to do and I was looking for a job. Previously to that, I was a realtor. I was like one of the youngest realtors in the, in the city where I lived that Well, not really a city, more so a suburb where I lived that and I real estate was very difficult, you know, although I was. You know, trying to make my rounds and get some contacts and so forth is very hard to. You know, list people's houses, especially when you're like a 20 year old kid and most of the people that you're listening to house are like 50 and 40 and they're like I'm not giving this kid my most prized possession to control, right. So you know, did really safe for like a year. Didn't really work out. So I went and got a CDL. After I got my CDL I quickly learned that driving a truck wasn't for me just because I wasn't comfortable behind the wheel. So I passed my test, got my CDL, but I knew driving wasn't going to be my thing. So I was like you know what can I do within this industry? But at the time I still had the CDL, so I was going to figure it out. I was going around looking for different driving jobs and I ended up meeting somebody who's a young guy. He worked for a company called Bond Transfer. What Bond Transfer did? They were on location with a place. They had an onsite office at a place called Ball Plastics. Now what Ball Plastics did was they made Pepsi bottles. So we would. The resin would come into that ball plastics facility, the little resin balls. I don't know if you're familiar with it, but they would put it in a machine. This whole thing would happen and they would blow up into little Pepsi bottles, right. So those bottles would go onto 22 pallets. We'd ship them out all over the country. So that was so. Basically, I was looking to potentially get a job there as a driver. But when I met the guy you know, I explained to him that, listen, driving is really not my thing. I'm not very comfortable behind the wheel, but I'm just doing it as a means to an end. And he was like hey man, would you ever consider being a dispatcher? Now, at that time I didn't even really know what a dispatcher was. So I was like what is that? So he was like you know, it's basically managing the guys. He was like you know, you seem very personable, you seem like a nice guy. It seemed like the guys would listen to you. Are you comfortable with managing people? Like you know, how do you feel about that? And I was like, yeah, I've had some experience doing that previously. So I was like, yeah, sure, that sounds great. How much is a job paying? Right? Cause, ultimately that was the key. Like I need to make some money here. He was like 40, it was like 40 to $45,000 now in that time, 2003, 2004. Like that was a lot of money, right, only for a kid who didn't have a college education, any background like that. I didn't have any background in the industry, I didn't have a college degree. So for me, getting the job that was a salary job at 40 to $45,000 as an entry level position was amazing. I was like there's nowhere else that I can find this opportunity. So I was like sure, let's do it. So I got the job, ended up you know doing very well, learned very quickly. The guy who actually hired me ended up getting fired because they were like falsifying, like creating, like fake companies and they were creating fake companies and like they were paying he was paying himself, right. So he ended up running this mom and pop mom and pop company up for like $300,000. Right, and he ended up getting let go. So because the company was actually in Baltimore, maryland, but we had a location in Cinnamon St, new Jersey, at Ball Plastics. So because of that they had nobody really there from their company. It was only myself, the guy, and like two other people who were like administrative people, like you know, kind of working on payroll and so forth and like you know more so like scheduling and all that planning. So it was a very small office. So because I kind of knew the most at that time I ended up running that account. So about a year later after being hired, I ended up running that account. It was a multi-million dollar Pepsi account and I really learned a lot about transportation at during that time, so fast forward that they ended up going out of business. They ended up losing the account not from, not because of me, just because of their own. You know their own thing. I was doing my thing, I was okay. But you know they had their own financial problems on their small family business, like a generational business that had been in business for a while and kind of like the kids took over and the kids weren't as passionate as the, you know, the grandfather, the father and so forth. You know that whole thing kind of goes. They didn't have the discipline so they kind of wanted to sell it off and get rid of it and just do something different, right, when things weren't going as well as they may be saw it going. So they ended up selling. I ended up working for Ryder Ryder Integrated Logistics, which is their RIL division, right, and that's basically like their local accounts, and I worked for the CVS account. So CVS you know it was a very arduous, grueling account. We just delivering to CVS is 24, seven, 365. I ran about 60 drivers or so and it was just like a very, very it was a lot of stress, a very stressful job, right. I did that for about seven years. I worked my way up through the ranks at Ryder until I finally decided I want to do something for myself and I wanted to explore other entrepreneurial exploits. So, just kind of thinking about the different businesses I wanted to do, I had been in trucking for, at this point, almost 10 years or so, and I was like you know, it makes sense for me to continue being in the transportation industry. You know, what can I do? What kind of business could I start While I was working at CVS? One of the things that would happen was, like I said, we had about 60 drivers that were always, you know, our regular driver, our regular driver pool. But because CVS has so many seasonal spikes right, whether it was Thanksgiving, or rather it was Christmas or Valentine's Day, and they would always have like a lot of additional loads during these time frames, we would do something. We would outsource drivers and we would get what we call temp agencies or lease companies to kind of work. So we would bring these drivers that were employed under another company but they would come and work for CVS or for Ryder as if they were Ryder drivers. So I saw that as an opportunity, because I'm dispatching all these guys, I'm building relationships with all the drivers, so I know I'm calling them, I'm booking them and then also I would speak with the dispatchers on the driver leasing side and the owners and I was just very curious about the business and in addition to that, I was able to see like the paperwork, like the billables, like how much money were they billing for these drivers and so forth and how much money were they making, because I knew how much the drivers were getting paid. I knew my say we're billing. So I'm like doing a math, I'm like, hold up, there's like a good like $13, $14 in between there that you know somebody's getting and it's not the driver, right? So I'm like that's an interesting business. So I ended up starting my own staffing agency in 2015. And I left Ryder and I started doing that. I grew that business. I built that business to about $1.2 million in the first year purely off of just demand. I didn't have any idea what I was doing, but because there was such a heavy demand for drivers. At that time I was able to create a lot of relationships. I had some post office contracts and some other things and we just blew up really fast on the flip side of that, because I didn't understand business. Well, I ended up owning about $200 to $300,000 to workers comp Right. So even though I made a bunch of money, I was still in the red because I didn't understand business Right and that was just a big struggle for me. You know myself, it caused a lot of issues between myself and my partner and we just kind of went through it. We ended up I ended up selling that business to him because we just we weren't seeing eye to eye on a lot of things and there were some other things that he did that were kind of unethical and so forth. I won't even get into that. But I ended up selling that business. And when I sold that business was when I started trucking hustle Right. So that was like the interim, because I had some money right From the sale of the business. I wanted to start over but I was just like kind of drained and just burnt out from just that whole process. So I started trucking hustle because during that time I was an avid podcast listener. I love podcasts. I love, you know, self development and I would always listen to podcasts about, like you know, like e-commerce or, you know, box or just general business or self development advice, right. And I was like I would love to start a podcast, but I don't know what to start it about. Right, just not really thinking through the whole thing, I've seen a big picture and I was like what can I start a podcast about? Cause I always wanted to use my voice for good, to help people. And then one day it just hit me. I was like, man, I've been in transportation for so long and I've had, you know, all these ups and downs and I have a story. Let me start a podcast about the trucking business or about transportation, about logistics, right, and I just did it. So I kind of, you know, before I did it I kind of surveyed the landscape, so what was out there? And, number one, I didn't find a lot of podcasts out there. There wasn't a ton of things out there, but everything I did find out there it wasn't very interesting to me, right, full transparency. I found some stuff and I'm like I don't know if I'd really listened to this, right? So I wanted to create a show that would have all the benefits of what those shows had like in terms of education or the information, but just had some soul and just kind of had some, some stories and and has something that was a little bit more interesting to people, right? Because my overall goal in starting the podcast was number one I wanted to talk about you know my, my experience, but I wanted to shed light on other entrepreneurs and just talk about that journey. So I did my first podcast. My first first podcast with was with a guy named Dante Dean. Dante actually worked for me, worked for Ryder with me. I was his dispatcher, he was one of my drivers right, and I watched Dante transition from being a company driver for Ryder to getting his own truck and becoming a owner operator working in the ports right Doing intermodal freight. So I watched his transition and, on the flip side, he watched my transition going from working to Ryder to starting my staffing business and actually now sending drivers to Ryder right, and from that when I startedивается, I starting with McKinley in Selvester need to re-managing my home town came up to do my 보통 as opposed to working for Rider as a dispatcher. So we just talked about that whole you talked about earlier, like going back to the first podcast. That was it. It was me and Dante Dean talking about that full circle moment of us both leaving the same place Rider him going off on his journey, me going off on my journey and where we kind of, you know, met there right. So it's just really interesting having that conversation. After that just started reaching out to some other people in the network. Then started reaching out to some other people who were just strangers and just looking for amazing stories, people who I thought were cool, just using like Instagram or LinkedIn or different social media channels, just kind of like stalking people's pages, like, oh man, I like that. You know, come on my podcast. And eventually just really grew legs, man, like the traction was crazy. People received it very well and they just started to want to. You know, it just became a thing like oh man, I can't wait to the next episode, I want to hear it. And you know it just turned around from where I'm reaching out to people. Now people are reaching out to me like they want to be on the podcast. So it became very easy to book guests at that point, because now they're all DMing me and like I want to get on, I want to get on, and that was the start of trucking hustle. That was really the beginning and that's kind of how everything started. And you know, I look back and that's been the last four years and it's been history ever since. And since then we've, you know, we kind of go into the story of what we built after that, but that's kind of like the origin story of everything.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:15:35

So it sounds like you had a very like business oriented mind ahead of time, not just sounds like, I mean, clearly you did, because you've sold businesses. So how did you, I guess, approach the business aspect of content? Because, I mean, it's very, I think, challenging for a lot of business operators to even start thinking of creating content, because their immediate question is, well, what's the ROI of this? Yeah, so how did I think it would be interesting to hear, like the business case that I'm going to start up this, this content journey, and see where it goes, or did you already have in mind of how you were going to monetize it, how you were going to make a business out of it?

Rahmel Wattley: 1:16:14

Yeah, that's a great question and I had no idea Blife like I. Literally it was a passion project for me. I didn't think about it from a because, again, when I started it it was an interim. It was like a break for me and it was just something I wanted to do for fun, really, because I was exploring a new space. Like I said, I always wanted to use my voice for good and to help people. So for me it was like, let me just get on this microphone and talk to my friends and talk to people in my network about this business and about entrepreneurship and have fun. At that point I saw the opportunity in it but I didn't. I didn't really fully like evaluate the complete opportunity or what it could really be. You know, I didn't really start understanding that until maybe like a year later, when people start reaching out to me and start trying to leverage my audience and they're like hey, you know, we want to get in front of your people, how can we make that happen? Like that's. When it's like oh, okay, this is a business, but really, going into it, it was very organic. It wasn't a, it wasn't for the, for the, because, truthfully, in podcasting you know, there's not a lot of money, right? You have to create those other, those revenue streams and you have to make a business out of it and figure out how you're going to monetize it. So at that point, for me it was solely just getting on, getting a microphone, you know, doing virtual interviews, and that was it. I'll just publish them and then you know, whatever happens happens after that, just build an audience. But there was no end goal at the time, which is completely opposite to what I tell people now who are looking to get into podcasting. But for me, you know, I didn't take my own advice now, I just got into it just for fun. I wanted to see where it would go and I just literally had. I was just having fun, that's all. That's all. It was a break for me, it was an outlet. It was a literally outlet for me, that's all it was.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:17:55

That same for me. Like I came from, like the sports entertainment world, and that was always just fun. Like there is no money in sports entertainment unless you, you know, say some crazy stuff and, you know, get on, you know, one side of the political aisle or the other. So that just wasn't going to be for me and I said, well, let me start up a podcast to promote my business digital dispatch and then the podcast just sort of took off faster than the business did. So now it's like well, I guess we'll do this podcast thing, you know, and then see you know, try to make a business out of that. So it's trying to, you know, kind of, I guess, walk the fine line of being a business owner and creating content and how those worlds kind of mesh together and it kind of sounds like that. Was it that the same journey for you too?

Rahmel Wattley: 1:18:38

You know, you know it's so funny and like literally like I started another staffing company very shortly after I sold my first one, right. So I stayed in the business. I had all the same contacts and everything. So I just really just stopped just to really stop being with my partner and just started all over again, right. But I never even plugged my company Like that's how much of a passion project it was. To this day a lot of people don't even know I own a staffing business. It's kind of like I just there were separate entities. I didn't really want to combine the two and if I was smart I could have been getting tons of leads to my own company, but I never talked about it. It was just a separate thing for me because, again, it was literally just an outlet. So it wasn't for lead generation, it wasn't anything. It was just solely to just just talk on the microphone and just hear people's stories. It was just fun for me. That was it, yeah.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:19:27

How did it go from? You mentioned you were doing virtual conversations, but I would argue that you're more known for flying to the sites in person and doing those interviews there, which is unheard of Nobody else is doing that in the industry. That's where you get the best conversation. So how did it go from you doing virtual to you deciding no, this is something that we need to really invest in? Camera, crew microphones, onset flying to these guests. How did it evolve from to that?

Rahmel Wattley: 1:19:58

Yeah, it was one podcast that I did. It was with DeMarco Thomas from Metro Max. It was the first actual in person, in person podcast I did. I flew out to Atlanta because I was actually attending somebody else's conference at the time and you know I had spoken with DeMarco and you know I was like hey, I'm coming to Atlanta. You know, while I'm there, let's just shoot a podcast, right, I had never done it before, so we did that and that podcast blew up, right. And then when I put it on YouTube, that podcast right now has about almost 800,000 views right Right, right Right. So at the, at the at the time it was, it wasn't as it wasn't that big, it wasn't, you know, it wasn't as down views, but it was probably like, maybe 2030, 40,000. I'm like, hold on, you know, like this, there's something to this YouTube thing, right? Mind you, I used to like mess with my, my, my daughters about wanting to be on YouTube and wanting to do all this YouTube content. I'm like you're not going to beat, there's no future in being a YouTube creator. Like, why are you wasting your time YouTube and creating videos and all these different things with slime and all that? That? They were doing it and I'm just laughing at them like man, y'all are wasting your life and I end up being a YouTuber. I'm the king YouTuber of the family now, right, and I was the one who was just totally shutting it down back in the day. But when I saw that video have so much traction and I realized that, how many people can just stumble upon your content? Right, because it podcasts, is very specific, is very niche, specific. If you're not a podcast listener, nine, nine times out of 10, you're not going to real people are going to stumble upon your podcast, right? So you already have to be kind of the podcast ecosystem and you will look around for other podcasts about the, about your interests, but if you're not a podcast listener, you're not going to find it unless it's somewhere else. So I was like, if I want to grow this thing, if I want to take it to the next level, I got to get on YouTube. That's where it's at right, that's where I'm going to have the opportunities, where people are going to stumble on the content and that's going to help 10 X the growth of not only just the brand but also it'll trickle down into the audio podcast as well, which it did. So that one video. So if you look at like the content, you'll see like the difference between when that was shot and then the next set of videos were shot. There's like a year gap, right, because it's. I was still doing virtual after that, but then I looked back and I was like this video is doing so well and then I said you know, we got to double down. So I talked to, I got with my childhood friend who's my executive producer today. His name is Quaku. He was actually working for Vice Media at the time and I told him about trucking out, so he knew about the whole journey. He was there from the start, the idea and everything. But it was still a virtual thing and I was like, hey, man, you know, it would be great if, like, we could just like join forces and if I could have somebody who could shoot for me all the time. We could do this in person content. And he was like, you know, let's do it, his, his, his, his, his vice situation wasn't like a permanent situation, it was more like a as needed basis, so he wasn't working full time with him, so he had time to fly out with me and do different things and we just teamed up and then that was it, man. We started going out and just shooting everything and once we shot one, it was like we're not going back to virtual, it's over, it's like all on location from here on out. And if we're not on location, we're in a studio, we're doing something. Because once you get the feeling of like that in studio and you're seeing yourself shoot, shot on the camera, and you're, you're just seeing all those cuts in those shots, it's hard to go backwards. It's like you feel, like you're like it's a real production now right. So it's just hard to go back to the virtual. So yeah, that's kind of like that was the origin of the in person content and we haven't really looked back. We've done some virtual stuff but for the most part maybe 90, 90, 95% has been all in person.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:23:47

How are you choosing? Because you mentioned earlier about you know now folks are reaching out to you to come on the show. How do you sort of vet who's worth the investment? Of flying out and all the equipment and the time and the energy. How do you know if they're going to be a good interview?

Rahmel Wattley: 1:24:05

You know that's such a great question. The good thing is we're because we built a community like we have a network of people that tend to refer other people to be on the show, right? So a lot of the people who are on the show are friends of people who are already on the show, right? So a lot of times, like that is one level of vetting that we already don't have to do Because it's like, all right, if they vouch for you, they're good, right. Now it's just a matter of having a conversation, just kind of setting expectations, and then everybody's on the same page. But most of the content that we shoot is usually a friend of a friend who's already been either in our network or already on truck and hustle. And then there's other people who will just check them out. You know, we'll check out their LinkedIn, we'll check out their profile, we'll look up their MC numbers, make sure they are who they say they are, because that's very important to us nowadays, right Before you do an interview, because listen, man, it's a lot of people, you know, let's, let's be for real, like this. This industry became very trendy during the pandemic. There's a lot of people who got into, like the course creation business and they're selling information, and a lot of people selling information don't even aren't aren't really who they say they are. So, in order to keep the integrity of our platform, we have to make sure that anybody we bring on the show is who they say they are, and that doesn't mean that they have to be some super large success with millions of dollars. You could be just starting and have a great story, it doesn't matter. But you just have to be genuine. You have to be who you say you are, and that's really what's important to us and for us. We just look for stories that are just out the box, that are just different, that are unique, that you know. People that I like to say like you know, we want to be the first to expose people to our audience into the world, like we want to make like stars in transportation and logistics right, so you've been working hard, your nose has been down, you've been grinding. Nobody has, nobody knows about all this work you've been putting in, but when you come on truck and hustle man, you're a celebrity. Now it's over, it's game over, right? So now, yeah, your emails blowing up, your inbox is blowing up, and then it just takes people to another level in terms of just notoriety, which is amazing. Their business and everything they were doing before that was already what it was, but now they just get to get that credit and get that spotlight put on them and just people be able, you know, give them that love that they deserve Because, at the end of the day, like their job and what they do is so super important and what they built needs to be recognized. So that's that's what I pride myself on, like I love taking somebody who no one has really heard about and bringing them on truck and hustle and then they just explode. Like that. That brings me joy, you know, because I feel like we're we're forever ingrained in the DNA of that person's. You know, whatever they do, moving forward that's why I call it the hustle fam. It's like your family now, like you can't, you can't shake that. We're a party. Now, right, we're a party of stories. So I love, I love like finding those, like breakout stories. That's what we really pride ourselves on.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:26:53

And now you're starting and I don't want to say you're starting because I'm not sure, you know, with the pandemic, you know with people's comfort levels, if they're going to go to conferences or not. You know that that was all kind of like, you know, evolving for a lot of different folks. But for you, when did you, I guess, start turning because you fly out to do all these in person interviews but then you're starting to do more conferences and things like that. How did that evolve into going to conferences and shooting content there?

Rahmel Wattley: 1:27:22

Yeah, so you know, when we started doing the conferences and networking events, you know, covid was still a very real thing. Like people were still, you know, talking about it. It was in the conversation, it was dying down, but there was still like a lot of restrictions and a lot of you know, just just the road roadblocks and barriers, right, they were even talking about like what was the other one, monkeypox was with all this thing, right, and now it's like everything's like all these different variants. So it was scary, right. Like like doing that because number one, just for our own health, and then number two, obviously for the health of the general public, and then number three for just the health of our business, like our people are going to actually come to these events, right. So taking that leap of faith was interesting. I think we we kind of just made the decision earlier that we felt comfortable, that people were in a space where they were willing to come out just kind of looking at the general landscape and seeing what everybody was doing. This was around 2021-ish, right, like you know, okay, we're starting to see people are moving out, moving around a little bit, and that is funny. That was one of the reasons why we did our first conference in Texas? Because we knew Texas was one of those states where, like you know, they're outlaw. Like they, they don't care, right. You know, you got like Nevada, you got like Texas, like they're the place where Florida, you know, it doesn't matter what's going on in the world, they're going to do whatever they want to do, right. So we were like, if we do do it, you know, obviously we looked at our data, our analytics, we saw where our listenership was, where people were watching us from, and those were the places also. But it just kind of turned out where we were like, hey, so where do we have the most the biggest chance of this not getting shut down because of some type of you know, quote, unquote pandemic or whatever that's going on right now and that was one of the places right. So that's one of the reasons why we chose Houston, texas, to do freight fest. And you know, man, you know, thankfully, like we did it, we pulled it off and it was an amazing success and we've just been moving forward ever since. But it was really just. We had to just go on faith life, like it was just. We didn't know what was going to happen. We were. I was, you know, nervous through the whole process, you know, until I started seeing those sickest sales kind of rolling and I'm like all right, people are coming and if they're not coming they already spent their money so they better come, because the mind coming in money back, you know it's too late now. So so when we saw you know sickest sales rolling, we're like all right now we feel comfortable that we're going to be able to make this happen and it got a little bit better. But it was definitely scary because we started our conferences and networking events during the pandemic on the tail end. I mean, we're supposedly still in the pandemic, but it was on the tail end of it. It was starting to die down, but it was still very real. It was still very real.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:30:04

Because I remember I went to my first conference in the summer of 2021. And I'm I'm in Florida. So the pandemic I don't know that it ever really happened.

Rahmel Wattley: 1:30:13


Blythe Brumleve: 1:30:14

Shut down for like a month and then things started opening back up. But I remember the distinct feeling of and I kind of sounds weird to say, but I remember feeling like I need to go to this to show other people that we need to. It's important to get back together in person again and we need to be. There's a certain level of energy and magic that happens. You know, virtual conversations are one thing, but nothing can replace that in person conversation. And it sounds like that that's exactly what you guys did at your first freight fest.

Rahmel Wattley: 1:30:48

Yeah, for sure. I mean like it's a very like sensitive situation because it's like a lot of people, you know, lost their lives to COVID and, like you know, there's a lot of tragedy, but it's like we have to move forward at some time. We can't just stay in the house and we have to move forward. So, yeah, we just felt like we were willing to take that risk. Of course we were safe, we made sure that any, you know, we took all the COVID protocols, safety measures and, you know, made sure it wasn't a bunch of people in the room and all that. And that was another thing. That was another thing. Like the people, like when we were doing interviews and stuff like that, people were very open to it, like there wasn't a lot of resistance. So that was kind of like the indicator, like, oh yeah, we want to do an in person interview. All right, cool, come on through, are you sure? Like yeah, no problem, but what are you talking about? So that was an indicator okay, people are ready to start moving forward and doing some in person stuff. So, and it really paid off for us because we started we started that while everybody was still home, right, so because we're willing to go and do the what everybody else wasn't willing to do, it gave us that little bit of an edge, you know, in terms of just content and production and everything like that. So it was pretty cool.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:32:00

What's the difference between putting on an event and putting on a show? Kind of the same.

Rahmel Wattley: 1:32:07

Yeah, yeah, yeah, so we have. We have two different types of events that we do right now. Right, and we'll be adding some more because we have some other things that we're planning, but we have what we call our reset, right, our reset is our quarterly networking event. What? And we just had one in Philadelphia. If you look at my Instagram page, you'll see it was crazy. It was about the crowd is nuts, it was bananas. But yeah, so we do that quarterly. So the first one we did was in Atlanta, georgia, june 2021, right, june was a 20, no 22, 22 last year, I'm sorry. June 2022 was our first one. We, we, we, we, we. We planned for 80 people, right, we had a small venue. We said this is our first time we're going to try something like this. We're going to do a networking event 80 people. That event ended up selling out. It was like 150 people in there to the fire marshal had to come and say you can't have anybody else in here. We literally had to turn people away at the door. No one else could come in, right? So when that happened, we're like all right, we're on to something here. This is the week we're on to something here. People want to come out. People want to get together. We turned around. Two months later July, august, august, I think it was August 28th we did a networking event in Houston, 450 people, 450 people. It was crazy. It was like wow. And then the feedback like everybody was like oh, this was the greatest event. So now we're like this is a thing, right, this is a thing we're not stopping. We got to keep on doing it. So that was like the birth of like the idea, like we're going to keep on doing this and we're not going to stop and we're going to like, go to every single city in the country, right. So then we kept them moving forward. Then we did Orlando, now we just did Philadelphia and now in the 29th we're doing Chicago. So the reset is our quarterly networking event. Well, with these two in July, it's not really quarterly. We had to squeeze them together because we have freight fest coming up too. So, and what it is is it's a brunch, so we have brunch. So we always choose a restaurant or a venue that has amazing food. We go, we taste, test the food, make sure the food is a one, right, so it's a brunch. We always give, like free mimosas and stuff like that. So people, could, you know, wind down and relax the adults, of course, right On top of the brunch we do a, we do some networking games. So we play actual games. We take it back to third grade and we do games to encourage people to get together and network. Because you know what we saw when we did the first initial events people will come, but they're like introverted, right, so they'll be in the corner and they're like ah, you know, I want to talk, but you know nobody's talking to me and I don't really know what to say. And you know, can you introduce me to somebody? So we're like eh, we got to stop that. Right, you came here, you spent your money, we got to make sure you make a, make a good connection. So we started doing games and the games are like the game changer, because now we literally like I get on stage and I'm like all right, this is how the game is going to go. If you have a yellow tag, you need to go and network with somebody with a red tag. If you have a green tag, go with a blue tag. You got five minutes, go right. And everybody goes and get together to network and we just have this big experience. And then we have another game that we play where we like pass around a ball and when you catch it you got to edge all these different games we were playing. So we have the gaming aspect of what we call like speed networking or like kind of like force networking, right. Then on top of that we have a live panel. So we do like a live presentation. So in Philadelphia we had Amika Sahr, who is a great friend of mine. He has a company called multi funding. He is, I believe, the seventh or eighth largest funder in the country, like, like with the banks. So it's like you know, like Chase, you know I'm a Kassar, like he's up there, he's up there, right, but he's he's the president of a company organization called entrepreneurs organization. He's very into community work and he wants to give back. So any opportunity that I'm he gets to help, he's always there and he's. He speaks at Freight Fest and he's just always he's gonna be in Chicago with me to. He's that's my guy. So anybody who doesn't know I'm a guitar Google him. Like his stuff speaks for himself. And then we had Hyro Cruz, who's a dump truck entrepreneur. He has 27 dump trucks and he also has about 40 dump trucks that he, you know, brokers and puts to work. He pretty much runs like the whole, like North Jersey. If you come to North Jersey and you go on a turnpike, you're going to see like Hyro's trucks all up and down the turnpike. So we did I'm he presented. He did a presentation like a 30 minute presentation about funding, making sure you know how to prepare yourself for funding, how to you know, you know, know if you're on the right track, wrong track, so forth, and so on. And then we did a live podcast with Hyro talking about dump trucks. You know everything you need to know about the different bills that are being passed, sort of the money that's being put into the, the government for dump truck companies and so forth, talking about the opportunities from a real business person's perspective, actually what he's going through right now, right. So we do that. And then, lastly, we have some form of entertainment or some type of celebrity guests, just to like really round it out. So in this Philadelphia we had Walo, who is a very popular podcaster. They have a podcast called million dollars worth of game. He's very popular in Philadelphia, so he was there. He gave like a it was supposed to be 30 minutes, he ended up going like an hour and 10 minutes. He just he just kept on going. He was, he was loving it, he just wouldn't stop. So so Walo went up in there and did his thing. So prior to that we've had like 112 perform. We've had who else did we have? I forgot who else are performers. We had a guy named trade the truth in Houston, just different people, and that's another thing. We always have people from the city. So it's like that's a part of like us showing love to the city. We bring a performer or entertainer or a public figure from the city to kind of come in there and be a part of the event as well. So it's like a four tiered event. So you're going to come, you're going to eat, you're going to network, we're going to make sure you make some connections, you're going to get educated, you're going to learn something about a niche, because we can't teach you about the whole industry in one, in one sitting. We're going to talk about one niche and then we're going to have some sort of entertainment and somebody, just just for fun, just to kind of round it up. So that is what the reset is Great Fest, on the other hand, is our conference. That is our you know what I like to call truck and hustle on steroids, right, where we bring all of the different people that you've seen on the truck and hustle platform together in one place. And it's just like Voltron, right, like all, like if all those questions that you've been wanting to ask you could ask them all right here, because they're all here together in one place. So that was the whole idea, like how could we get? Because you know, like I said once, once you come on the truck and hustle platform, the DMs are getting blown up. It just is what it is right. So it's like, how could we get all these people in one room to present on one stage, to share, to add value? And that's what Freight Fest is. So we leverage our, our amazing network and then other people who haven't been on the show. So we have a ton of people that are in a pipeline, that we haven't gotten to release their episodes yet, or we're still talking to them about what the episode is going to look like, and it's just like, but they're already in the family you we just had. You haven't seen them yet. You know what I mean. So we just start bringing those people together and that's what Freight Fest is and it's, you know, last year it was really about just kind of introducing a bunch of niches to people and a bunch of things that people may have not been aware of in terms of educating them on it. This year we really focus it around opportunities, right, because we've obviously, we know transportation trucking is just it's been brutal right Last couple months with everything going on rates and all that good stuff. So it's like how could we add the most value to our attendees? How could we create opportunities to wear? Not only do they go and they get to network and meet people, but they could leave with actual business opportunities. So I've brought people like Greg Reed, you know, from USPS, who's going to be talking about how you can become a carrier with the post office, right, like, like. Like you know people that are going to be able to bring in a portion. Jackson from the Houston OBO, the Office of Business Opportunities, talking about federal, local contracts with the state of Houston that are sitting there that are just not being taken advantage of because nobody knows about them. You know what I mean. So it's all about this year. So we're going to obviously we're going to still have our trucking also family but it's like where are the opportunities are at? Because that's what people need right now. They need opportunities. So we really focus on bringing together people that can give opportunities to people, and that's what Freyfest is going to be about this year.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:40:41

So okay. So if I have it all correct, you have this like multimedia empire on social media like millions of followers collectively, like on all these different platforms. You got the YouTube, you know plaque in the background which, by the way, do they just automatically mail that to you Like how does that work? Like yeah, yeah.

Rahmel Wattley: 1:40:57

So they reach out to you. So once you hit that target, that 100,000, they'll send you an email, you know, through your back end, and they'll say hey, you know how do you want your plaque? What do you want written on it? You know, do you want to ribbon? Do you want it to be want to ribbon on it? Do you want to be delivered DHL or UPS? I'm just joking about all that stuff.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:41:13

But I was about to say, I want all the bells and whistles, I want champagne, I want to guide a top hat delivering it.

Rahmel Wattley: 1:41:18

I want to get it right on them Like no, no, it's literally just type your name in and then they just send you a plaque and that's it. You know, I would like to believe it was all that stuff, like that's how it felt when I received it, but it was literally just. You know, here you go, here goes your plaque, just like everybody else, but uh okay, so all right.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:41:34

So you got that. You got the YouTube, you have social media, obviously, that you're dominating on. Then you have all of the, the micro events and then the one big event. Do you foresee, like keeping up with this, you know, sort of frequency, because it's such an amazing output of frequency for a content creator. Like, how do you do all of this and not get burnt out?

Rahmel Wattley: 1:41:55

Four letters T E A M. That is a four letters T E A M. Man, I would be nowhere without my team. I have a team of amazing people who make all of this stuff happen, who cover everything, end to end, from the, from the back end to, you know, our sponsorships and selling, and you know, to the visuals, to the content that's put out every day. All I have to do, literally, is just guide the ship. That's it. I love that I'm able to just look, big vision, make the connections we need to make you know and just guide the ship. This is where we're going. Guys, help me get there, and that's and that's what they do. So it still is very stressful, it still is a lot of work, but the team makes it easy.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:42:44

They make it easy. The team look like does it, you know maybe five people, 10 people, give us a little bit of the behind the scenes. Look.

Rahmel Wattley: 1:42:50

Yeah, so my team is about five people and I also have an offshore team that I work with for content. So my my internal, like you know team is five people kind of dealing, and in addition to that, I'll talk to you about the podcast network too, that I just got an extension of my team. But. But yeah, so my team is really like you know. I have somebody who works in sales, somebody who works in kind of like guess relations, like customer relations, kind of interfacing with our current sponsors and, you know, any opportunities coming up, just kind of scouting new opportunities and so forth. I have Kwey Gu who works on the visuals, the visual side. My wife also works with my, with with me on the events, so she's putting together the events. My daughter's work with me with the merch, so yeah, so our team is about like five, five, six. And then we have a team that works with us for social media, so all the content that we create. We have a strategy on posting and how we're going to put content out there. So yeah, so altogether our team's probably about 10 with the social media team offshore, but then it's like five here in the States.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:43:54

How do you, I guess, decide what's what's worth being published? And because there's so much, I think you know, coming from like a my personal perspective, I'm getting emails all the time of people who want to be on the podcast, which is it's a great problem to have, but also it's it's sort of frustrating at times because it's sometimes you feel like you're just interviewing other people and not working on the actual business itself, and it kind of sounds like that's where the team comes into play and really helps, you know, manage the little aspects of the things that that you don't technically need to be doing, and then so you can focus more on the things that you need to be doing.

Rahmel Wattley: 1:44:33

Right, right. So to answer your first question, how do we decide what's worth being published? We have, like you know, we have a North Star or we have a mission right for truck and hustle right, our vision is to globally connect transportation and logistics professionals. Right, that is our mission. So if the content isn't about connecting people right in some way, shape or form, then we're not going to put it out there. So we're not really into like gossip, we're not into like gotcha moments, we're not into, like you know, the things that would potentially give us tons of views, like, yeah, we could probably create, you know, stir up controversy and stuff like that. But we're not into controversial content and that may be like a longer game, because our platform is we want to have a clean platform. We want to have a platform that's inviting to everybody. We want everybody to feel like they can be a part of it and they can share their story and they don't have to worry about us stabbing them in the back once they turn around. So we keep everything very clean. We keep our relationships very clean and we don't. We want to make. We want to make everybody shine in their best light, right? So I tell everybody I interview is like hey look, I'm here to make you look your best, I'm here to make you look amazing, right? So you know you don't have to share everything, like I'm not. I'm not forcing you to share everything you know, because every everybody has some, some everything's are always peachy and creamy and, you know, glitter. Like everybody has something that's not great, that you may not want to share. If you want to share it, that's fine, but that's not what we're about. We're not because there's a lot of media out there that's just looking for gotcha type of moments to try to put that out there and that's what, because that's what gets to views, honestly, that's. People love controversy, people love drama, but we've chosen to take the high road of just like. We want to just make everybody shine in their best light, because we feel long for longevity. That's what's going to make us stand out and make us be the platform that everybody wants to be a part of, because without the whole, without everybody, we can't exist, right? So we need the community to want to buy into this thing. So we're very conscious of making sure that content is very positive and always rooted in positivity, love and caring and sharing and learning and all those good things and that's kind of like what my that's. That's who I am. You know that I'm not perfect, but that's who I want to be, that's who I strive to be. So I try to make the brand an extension of that. So all the content that we do, you know, has to go through that filter. Like, is it, is it on in line with our values and who we are? And if it's not, then we won't put it. Like we get people send us like you know, you know different clips of different things happening all the time in the industry and sometimes we'll share it, but sometimes we're like, nah, that's a little bit too much, like that's too negative. We don't. We don't want that like on our page, right. So most of the times it's like you know, it's always going to be something that's going to uplift you, right. And now and we got to we got to cover the news too, and the news isn't always great. So we cover news. But my goal is like, how can we put a positive spin on things? How can we show the silver lining in things? Like, even though things are bad, what's the good that's going to come out of that? Let's always try to look for that, always try to find that. So that's what I always challenge my team to do and that's that's kind of our North Star and we feel like by doing that, it sets us up to be accepted by everybody, because that's our goal. We want everybody to accept us as a platform and want to be a part of it, because we're not trying to just be. You know, some people take the road of like, you know, we have a niche audience and we're going to cater to that audience and we're going to talk, that talk and you know, and that and you and it could make you, you know, blow up in that space and you could be huge in that space. But that's not really our approach. Our approach is yeah, you know, we know we can't be everything to everybody, but we can be fair to everybody. We can be, you know, decent to everybody and then, hopefully, and being fair and decent and being responsible, everybody will want to be a part of what we're doing Right. So we're not taking sides, we're just being right in the middle, we're just walking that line, but always keeping love and just, you know, that kind of spirit in the forefront and that's what you're going to see and a great thing. Like is it resonates, is it is it shows when we have events right, there's never any issues in our events. You got hundreds of people stacked on top of each other with drinks. You know what I mean. Like this, everybody's loving each other right. Like everybody's hugging, high, fiving, smiling, connecting, because that is a tone that we set, that is the energy that we put out there, so we reciprocate that energy. Nobody comes into our space or our environment to and brings anything less, because they know what we're about already. So I think we've done a great job of just putting a understanding of who we are Like. Even and there's even when there's trolls on social media come on our page and say little stupid stuff. I'm like man, I wish you the best comments. That sounds great. You're entitled to your opinion. I wish you all the best. And then guess what? They shut up. They ain't got nothing else to say You're not, you're not fanning that flame, you're not, you're not fanning that flame, and that's all people want is attention. They want you to fan the flame of negativity and we're just not into that, cause I'm not. We're not going to argue with somebody we don't know. We're not going to go back and forth with somebody who's we don't know who you are. You don't have a profile picture. We just like a ghost. You could be like 12 years old, somewhere in the room somewhere, and we're going to waste energy on you when we could be using that same energy to pour back into all these people that love us. No, we're not going to do that. So we just, we just we channel our energy in the right direction and that's it, and that's what we do.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:49:58

I love the mindset of, even if you know something crazy is going on in the world or in the industry, you're still going to find those moments of hope and positivity, cause that's. You know that. That was something my my grandma used to tell me. She's like look for the hell in times of chaos, look for the helpers, and with your content and a lot of the messaging that you're putting across, you're helping people find those different opportunities. I want to switch gears a little bit because there's we have a new social media app on the horizon that has, you know, entered into, I think, a lot of our, our, I think, a hundred over a hundred million, as, with threads that just came out last week, fastest app to you know, a hundred million users and record time, which is insane, and so from like a social media perspective. So you do all this work on on, you know, the guest booking and making sure the conversation fits within the brand and the North Star. But then, after the interview was recorded, talk to me about what your social strategy is. How do you decide what platform to put your energy into and which platforms to kind of say, I'm going to wait on this, cause I saw that you're you're you're on threads now. You had the podcast announcement, so so tell us a little bit about your podcast announcement and then your social how you think about social media.

Rahmel Wattley: 1:51:17

Yeah, so great questions, blake, you have good questions, all right, so, all right. So I'll tell you about the podcast announcement first, and then we'll go into social media. So we talked about team. We talked about, you know, trucking hustle being being nothing without the team. And then not only our internal team, but also our partnerships and the people who are behind us. Like you know, otr solutions, you know some of our other sponsors FleetDrop360, gtt commercial tires, adp, now, just our different partnerships that we developed along the way. Right, so we're nothing without those partnerships. So, with the, with the podcast network announcement, what we found was we had a ton of inbound leads of people who wanted to work with us that we just did not have the, the, the bandwidth or the stamina to keep up with. Right to to vet, to follow up with, to make the phone calls, to sit down to have our conversation, another follow up our conversation, another one with their leadership team and all that. We don't have the time to do that, and I'm sure you know right, because it's a process, right, we're dealing with it right now. Yeah, yeah, yeah, there's levels to this. Right, you got to talk with the first level and the next level, the next level and after that is like another three levels, right, just to get to like a simple like yes or no, just cut the check. Just cut the check man. Cut the check you. You. You called for a reason, right, you know what you want. You called me up, what it's taking so long, so, yeah, so it's in order to alleviate all that stress and drama. We started looking for a network. We need we, we, we, we were like we need to. We need to join with somebody who can help filter all these opportunities and help follow up and all the and vet all these opportunities properly, because we're leaving, transparently, a lot of money on the table. One and number two just, you know opportunities, because there's so much that come through. You know, we, we, we. We have an advisor that we work with now, peter Morris. He's from. He's formerly a bar stool sports and you know he told us he was like you know he worked with bar stool, he worked with a funnier die. He was a part of that. He was a CEO of IMAX. So this, this guy is like big in the industry, right In the podcast and media space, and when we connected with him he was like man, like he's. Like I've never seen this amount of inbound inquiries of people wanting to work with you and I've worked for some of the biggest just inbound leads. He's like this is crazy. So he was like you guys have to join forces with somebody to manage all this, because it's a lot for you to manage internally If you don't have the sales team already built in. And we didn't, we were managing in ourselves. You know, between myself and, you know, a couple of my team members, and a lot has fallen through the cracks because we're still trying to plan events, create content, work on the merch business, work on other business that we're doing in, and still have a bunch of phone calls and have meetings all day. So you know, we had a few different meetings with with different networks that were all very interested in our numbers and just our niche, because our niche is so very specific that it opens up a whole new door of sales for these networks, because there's no, there's not, I don't know, I don't want to say nobody, but there's not a lot of people doing the numbers that we're doing in the transportation, in the transportation and logistics space. So that opportunity is like amazing because now you're opening up a world of, like you know, goodyear, tires and I don't want to name anybody but tire companies or fuel places in this and factoring and insurance and all these different verticals that they would have never necessarily had conversations with, because that's not who their primary target is. So it was just a win-win for both of us. Right, it opens them up to a whole entire new opportunity or world of people they can do, business, they can sell to. And for us, it gives us a sales team that we need in order to be able to facilitate all these relationships and inbound leads that were coming to us. So, you know, we got together with a couple different companies and we landed on Evergreen podcast network. They're an amazing network. They're. I like them because I felt like we could grow with them. I didn't want to join somebody who I felt like we just be a number. Right, like they have a bunch of other like really really super highly rated podcasts and we have to fight to get somebody on the phone because they're busy doing other things. I wanted somewhere where we could fall right into place and we'd be a priority, right, and they have amazing podcasts, amazing downloads, amazing distribution. But we were able to fit right into that ecosystem and immediately impact what was going on there. When they saw we were bringing to the table, it was like, oh, we need a team on this. We need to bring a team on truck and hustles account, and that's what I needed. So we had opportunities to do with some other ones that maybe more people would have heard of her. But I was like no, we want somebody we could grow with together and let's build them up and they build us up at the same time and we and now we're like, you know, it's just a better relationship for us. That's just how I like to do things. I like to, I like to grow with people. I don't want to. I don't, I want to be a priority to you, you know. So if I'm not a priority, then for me, like I'm kind of wasting my time, I'd rather just get in, deal with your priorities and just let me fly. So when, when I got that feeling that we would be a priority to them and they just kind of were like you know, we love what you're doing, we're so excited about the opportunity, they flew us out to Cleveland. We went out there to go meet with them, go meet their staff, and they were just so excited about everything. It was like all right, this, this, this is going to work, let's do it. So we went ahead and we. We made that partnership and you know it's been great. You know it's, there's, there's. The challenge is helping them to understand who we are right, because they've never sold you know transportation related content right.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:57:10

But as they, as they show up and start learning and we do more meetings, it's like they're getting great at it and they're going to be they're going to be a powerhouse soon and yeah yeah, probably freeze up your staff and you and your staff to kind of focus on the areas where maybe you should be more focused on and the stuff like on camera stuff, you know, dealing with guests and things like that, like the stuff that you should. The only person can really do is is you versus they're handling some of the other stuff where you can kind of offload it to them 100%, because the thing is, at the end of the day, the, the.

Rahmel Wattley: 1:57:45

There's a book called what is a book called the. Is it the? Q is something about the queen B role. I forgot what it is, but it's a good book out if it's probably my office somewhere, but anyway the book talks about. You have to identify like what's the queen B, like what's the main thing that drives everything else in your business, right, and for me it's content. That's it. If we, if we are delivering content and we're getting in our numbers and analytics are where they need to be, it drives everything else. We don't have to sell because it sells itself, right? We don't have to, you know, convince you to put a truck and hustle shirt on because everybody wants one. It's like that is. The main thing that we need to focus on is content, content, content, content. So all I need to think about is how can I take truck and hustle and do more truck and hustle and keep on stacking truck and hustles on top of truck and hustles in different way? Because, if that's the only important thing, because without that, everything else stops right, nobody comes to the event if they don't know what truck and hustle is, you know you don't have hundreds of people or thousands of people in the ballroom if they weren't watching the podcast to begin with. So it all starts back at the content. That is the queen bee of everything, that makes all the honey. So to your point, yes, I needed to free up my time to focus on vision and content. How could we create just different types of offerings that people are going to be interested in? Because I don't want to get complacent with just truck and hustle. That's not the end, all be all. That was just the beginning, that was just a springboard. That was. You know, it doesn't stop there, it only begins there. So I have to focus on how can we keep on up in our game and keep on doing different things. That just makes this, you know, media like. You call it an empire. I don't think it's an empire yet, but you know this media conglomerate, you know what makes it work right. So we have to just keep on like just being just thinking outside the box. I'm always paying attention what everybody else is doing. When everybody else is zigging, I'm zagging, I like, okay, they're doing that, I'm not going to do that, I'm going to do this, Like that's why I look at things. I'm like, if they're doing it, it's too late. I don't want to do that, because you already spoiled it for me. I don't even. It don't feel good to me anymore. Right, I want to do something different. So it's like I'm always trying to figure out new ways to present different things. So that's what it's all about. It's all about the content.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:00:02

And then, at the end of the day, Okay, and I want to change my social media question because you know, I think for a brand like you, you kind of have to be on every platform and but with a lot of the folks that you're talking to, you know, I don't mean this as like a slight, but they're small to medium business size owners, even they're doing millions of dollars.

Rahmel Wattley: 2:00:22


Blythe Brumleve: 2:00:23

Very successful. For a lot of these businesses, they don't think about content, they don't think about marketing. For those folks who have a successful business, and based on your experience with running content, what advice would you give to some of these other small business owners out there of the power of content and how they can get started and maybe not be on every single social media platform, but maybe one or two? What advice would you give to a small business owner to help use content to take them to the next level? So that could be a future guest on Truck and Utsull.

Rahmel Wattley: 2:00:58

Yeah, so great, great question again. So I would say to any small business owner, any business owner in general number one you know you have to have some sort of social media presence these days if you're going to compete. That's one. So let's just get that out the way, right. Let's just that. Whatever belief you had, like, let's just get that out the way, because, yeah, you can be the business that we don't need that, but you're going to very quickly put out a business by somebody else who has it right. Number two you know, if you're running a business, you have content, right. If you're an operator, like for real, if you're in the field, if every day you get up and you are running a business, man, not only do you have content, you have amazing content. Now it's just a matter of figuring out how are you going to translate what you do every day and project that onto the screen, whether it's through visual content, whether it's through the written word, whether it's through quick threads or quick tweets, whatever that is. You need to figure out what's your strength, right, and how can you translate that onto social media in some type of way and for every. It doesn't have to always be visual, but you have to start somewhere, right. That could be tweeting. That could be what are you calling threading now, is it threading the needle? What is it thread?

Blythe Brumleve: 2:02:11

I get threads, thread yeah.

Rahmel Wattley: 2:02:13

They don't have the little thing yet, right? No, they ripped that off yet We'll get to that too. So whether that's going to be your things, because you could build a business with the written word, just like you could build it with visual content as well. So I think the thing is is you have to, number one, find your comfort zone and find your strength to start right Before you get out your comfort zone. I want you to find your comfort zone right and I want you to start there, and I want you to take what's going on in your business every day and just be very open and very transparent with your business. I think we are coming into the age where everybody knows all your business anyway. You can't hide anything. So you might as well be the first one to control the narrative. You know what I mean, because there's nothing that could be hidden at this point. If people want to know your financials, they could find it. If people want to know how many people work for your company, they want to know about that lawsuit last week, they will. You might as well control the narrative, because they it will be found out regardless, right? So I say, control your narrative. Figure out what is the best distribution channel for you and I think all of them are good because there's millions of people everywhere. It doesn't matter whether you want to go LinkedIn heavy, whether you want to go Twitter, you want to go Threads, instagram, youtube, everywhere you can find people, but it's just, it's a matter of not getting caught up in oh, what's the best one? Okay, well, facebook has 500 million and Instagram has 700 million, and I want to go with the 700 million choice, because you don't have 10 in any of them, right? You don't have 10 followers in any of those different platforms, so why does it even matter? So, I think, find a platform that's most comfortable to you. If you're, if you're not really like, like, tech savvy you're not into, like you know, you don't know how to do reels and all that good stuff, do whatever is simple for you, and I would say, figure out the best way to translate what you do every day in your business and create content with that. That could just be your thoughts of the day. That could be you know different business opportunities that you're thinking of. That could be you know, just your projections of the, the the world as you see it, whatever it is, but always related, and bring it back to your business with some sort of call to action. Hey, dm me if you like this, this comment, or, you know, check us out. You know, check out our website. You know where we have more of this some. You always want to have some sort of call to action to make people come back to find you if they like what you're doing. So you do that, you do it consistently. Create a cadence for yourself. I always tell people when they're starting to do content, create a bunch of content at first, right, like if you have a bunch of thoughts just just like right, like 50 or 20 or something down, and then that will be like your first months worth of content to start getting you going Right. So that way you don't fall behind, because one thing you don't want to do is, once you start, you don't want to stop, you don't want to feel like, oh, I don't got nothing to say today. So plan it out like ahead of time and just get that, get that like that, that that running start. So now you can start working while you have your running start already kind of going. You already have your content, kind of planning. You can start building off of that. And now you're already kind of getting feedback. You're feeling some love, you're feeling good about it and now you're like all right, cool, I want to keep on doing this because I'm getting the feedback that I want, because, ultimately, a lot of what stops people a lot of times is not receiving back what they feel like they're pouring out, right. The reason why people stop podcasting is because when they go on the app and they see that 24 people listened, it's like what am I doing this for, right? So that's very discouraging if you're doing it for a couple of weeks, a couple of months and you're seeing your numbers aren't growing. So you know when, when you, when that hits you. If you don't have the the the resilience to keep on going, you're kind of like I'm wasting my time here. This isn't for me, right. But if you have a bunch of content planned before, it's like I've already done this, it's already done, let me just see where it goes. And then you start working while that's being published, while that's being produced, and now you're building some momentum, right, now you start building some momentum and then it starts, like I said, you need that, that, that that encouragement to kind of keep on going. And I would say also, on top of that, you know if, if you're just kind of lost, like, look at other people's content, man, copy people's content. If you don't know what to say, just you know, go on Craig Fuller's Instagram, twitter, and just copy and paste what he did and just put it on yours. You know what I'm saying? Go on Blythe is just say everything of logistics. I've read your tomatoes this season. That's my post for the day. Just start.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:06:36

I'm gonna call you out if you steal my post. That's all I'm gonna say.

Rahmel Wattley: 2:06:40

Just start, but just get comfortable. No, but site, but site the person, if you have you know, whatever. But I'm but my point is, you know, sometimes don't even got to be original content, it's just content that resonates with you, just like start posting and start doing something and then you'll start building it up, you'll find your own voice and then you'll, you'll, you'll get there eventually. So that would be my advice.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:07:04

Like all the like, the top 100, you know freight tech companies or top 100 carriers or whatever. It's crazy how many of those companies have no idea what they're doing when it comes to their marketing and it comes to their content. So real quick, like case studies is you can pull that list and then go look at each one of their social profiles for those top companies and then see what's performing the best for them and then replicate it for your own business. I mean, that's the easiest way. You have a full. That's the great thing about social media is you can see right off the bat, like what performs the best and which content doesn't really resonate for you know a variety of reasons. But you can, you can finagle it, you can kind of massage it a little bit to work for you.

Rahmel Wattley: 2:07:43

Yeah yeah, yeah For sure, because at the end of the day, if you think of content in a whole, most content is an aggregation of other people's content, right? So there's nothing wrong with taking other things from other places and putting your own spin on it. That's all. Content is people you may look at. You may go to one page for all your news, but all that news is other people's hard work and labor and they put it on this one website and they're getting all the money and all the view and all the praise for it. It's crazy, but that's all it is. It's just other people's stuff. She's got to become good at finding that, finding what's good out there.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:08:19

So that's it, the curator. And sometimes if you, if you're not going to be the creator, be the curator and that will lead you into becoming, you know, the being, that creator yourself. Now I know you said that you have to go soon, but I just have a couple more like rapid fire.

Rahmel Wattley: 2:08:33

I'm good. I'm good, keep rolling. I'm having fun.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:08:36

I always have fun with you, blife, I mean literally an hour just went by like super quick, Okay. So I have a few like recurring questions that I like to ask each guest, Okay, To kind of get a good feel on where they're at. So, attention economy question how to? Well, I guess this doesn't really apply to you because it's a you know how do you market your business and your personal brand, which this whole brand and business marketing. Just point to the logo. Okay, this one Favorite social platform, and why.

Rahmel Wattley: 2:09:12

Oh, so my favorite? Okay, great question. My favorite social platform right now is LinkedIn. The reason why is because I was late to the party and I'm and I'm learning it now. So it's a challenge for me personally to figure out how do I crack the code of being a voice, a thought leader, on LinkedIn, and that's what I'm really working on. Everything else I've kind of figured out. So, for me, the, the, the, the one that's my favorite is the one that's the biggest challenge, because everything else is kind of easy. We got to understand how those other ones work. But I love LinkedIn and, honestly, it was about to be Twitter until threads came out. And now I'm like I don't know, do I need to? Should I even focus on this Twitter anymore? Because I don't know what this threads thing. So I'm still kind of up in the air with that. But I think LinkedIn is like one of those platforms that I I was, I was always on LinkedIn, but in terms of participating in the everyday conversation just wasn't me. I was like I'm good. But then when I started realizing the power of LinkedIn, I started making so many great connections on LinkedIn I was like, okay, I like this platform, let me start working it, so that's. My favorite platform right now is LinkedIn.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:10:21

Everybody hates on LinkedIn. But they don't believe me when I say like that's where the money is, like that's where the people and the the the barrier, because I think for LinkedIn they're looking for creators and they are. They need creators making good content there, because for so long it was kind of like the cringy, and some of the cringy stuff still exists, of course, on that platform. You know people kind of like patting themselves on the back and you know showboating and things like that. But if you come from an educational standpoint, of a learning standpoint, which obviously is the truck and also brand, then it's just, it's a matter of time before that brand is going to take off. Yeah.

Rahmel Wattley: 2:11:00

It's. It's I'm going to cut you off, but I was just thinking like, when I think of LinkedIn, it's like it's so funny because it's like you know everybody on LinkedIn is like you know. It's like the representation of who people wish they are, wish they would wish they could be, or whatever. It's like they're not being their true selves a lot of times, right? So my thing is like the way I'm going to crack the LinkedIn code is just by doing what everybody else wouldn't do, like saying things that you know are just real and genuine to me and not trying to be this perfectly perfect, uh, corporatized person. Like that is not who I am and I'm not trying to fool you. That that's who I am, right. So I'm just like on there being my authentic self and that has worked. Like just saying like if I just have a thought, I'll just put it out there and say it Still rooted in the same type of you know who I am, but it's like, like just being a little bit more unfiltered. Linkedin is a super filtered it and that's what made it boring. It's like, come on, man, that's not who you are. I was out with you at the TIA event last month. I know you don't act like that in public.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:12:05

My attitude on Twitter is way different than my attitude on.

Rahmel Wattley: 2:12:09


Blythe Brumleve: 2:12:10

That's too different. I got my corporate face on it.

Rahmel Wattley: 2:12:13

The link the profile page sets the tone. It's like you know the pro, like you just got the perfect little profile picture, you got your tie and everything. It's like come on, man, I know this guy, you know, get out of here. That's not who you are. But yeah, it's interesting. But I plan to play a different game on LinkedIn. So let's see, we'll come back in a year and let's see where we're at with it.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:12:31

Heck, yeah, okay. Next question Favorite you've talked to a lot of people, so favorite supply chain or logistics fact that you've heard from all of your conversations.

Rahmel Wattley: 2:12:41

Wow, that's a good one. Favorite supply chain or logistics fact Like you asked some great questions, man. Favorite fact you know I'm dealing in so many, so many stories. It's like I'm just more so. It's hard to think of the facts that people give me, because I hear a lot of facts in the stories, but I'm more focused on the story. I'm trying to think of a good one. Man Blythe, I think you might know I don't mind being on the spot. I love this. It's like a great thought exercise. I never thought of a great fact that I learned, and I've talked to people with a lot of good facts. But could we skip this question and come back to it? We could come back to it and you come back to it if you run out. It's like family feud.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:13:30

I'll come back to that one, maybe this next one, all right so any kind of you know? Obviously AI has come into the mix, especially with content generation. How are you feeling about you know AI and using it with content? Are you, are you pro AI or do you dabble in it? What are your thoughts behind it?

Rahmel Wattley: 2:13:47

Yeah, I don't think it matters how I feel about it. I think it's just a necessary evil. It just is what it is. It's crazy because it's like some of the things that I would take like two days working on, I can create in two seconds. It's like a slap in the face. Oh my God, this is ridiculous. But you know, I'm just trying to. You know, I'm very, very like bullish on it, like, for sure, 100%. Like I'm trying to incorporate everything AI into what I'm doing for automation, for sure. It's just that I'm still trying to find out, find like okay, where do we insert real person in this process? Because I feel like there still needs to be that, you know, has to have a spirit somewhere, right? So I'm like, how do we still insert real person? And just trying to figure it out. But yeah, I'm 100% Like like 90, 90% of the business could be AI and I just need to keep 10%. You know, for us, real people out here. And I'm good with that, because this is what it is. It's not. It's not. It's only getting crazier and crazier every single day. So if you're not, if you're not trying to, you know, crack the code and learn the different, you know tools, then you're just going to get left behind. You know be, especially when it comes to like velocity and and, and, and, and, and and just content and quantity, like just being able to pump out a bunch of stuff. You can't keep up with that man. These tools are crazy. So we've already implemented a ton of AI and like our clips and you know different things that we're doing. I mean, we've had, we've had episodes where our mic, the microphone went out and we've had an AI voice as a person talking. We there's this, there's this tool where you just plug it in and the person is talking like the mic never went out, sounds, perfect, quality. You don't even need mics anymore. It's like the mic went out, but no, it's perfect because it's AI tool. So it's like it's fixing a lot of the things that we had issues with before. So it's amazing, as long as you know, know where the tools are and know how to find them, and a lot of them are free too. You know you got them for them.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:15:41

They're all free. Do you have a favorite, like one or two AI tools that you've used?

Rahmel Wattley: 2:15:45

Opus uh clips. That's one game changer. Oh my God, it changed the whole game. It took away like a whole job. Like sorry, but we don't need you to do that, no more. Sorry.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:15:57

I said the same thing to a freelance team. I was like I'm not paying, y'all three grand a month.

Rahmel Wattley: 2:16:02

Yeah, that's kind of not, because still work together, but not in the same way. And then also the voice one that I told you about. I forgot what the name of that one is.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:16:13

Synthesia or Descript.

Rahmel Wattley: 2:16:15

I think it's Synthesia. I think it's Synthesia. No, it's Descript, descript. That's it Descript. That's the one. And then what's the other one that we're using? There's this other one that will take your content and, um, what does it do? It's some sort of writing tool, like. It takes the content and then it like you have a conversation, you have a meeting, right, and then it'll take and it'll break down the meeting for you in like different bullet points and you could like literally send like a recap of the entire meeting, or yeah, I think that's what it is. It's crazy. It just surmises all the important pieces of the meeting in this in two seconds. It's crazy.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:16:55

It sends everybody a copy of it too. Sometimes like they get freaked out like what is this robot? I was like you'll understand after the meeting is over, it's so crazy.

Rahmel Wattley: 2:17:05

So, yeah, those are like my top three and I'm still learning. So I'm like a part of all these different groups and they like have like these lists, like top 20 AI tools, and I just sent it to the team and like go through every one of these and let me know which one is the best and then let's talk about it, let's figure out what we could incorporate. So, yeah, that so, but those are my three that I'm familiar with. There's probably other ones that I don't even know that we're using right now, that the team has just found. They're working with them, but that's the three that I'm familiar with for sure.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:17:29

The next one on my list that I haven't found a good solution on and maybe we can, you know, talk offline about. But analytics, website analytics, content analytics I think that that's the next big and you know it's funny, no one is doing analytics.

Rahmel Wattley: 2:17:43

Great, like I don't know why the creator economy is like the biggest thing in the world right now and no one is creating a tool for proper analytics. If you do, if you do get it, it's like oh, for one or two platforms. You just can't get something to aggregate all your analytics, to be able to package it nicely, to say, hey, this is my listenership, this is who watches me, this is my demographics. Like, why is nobody working on that? I don't understand. It makes no sense to me.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:18:10

It's a billion dollar opportunity for AI developer out there that wants to do this. I'm waiting for Google to do it, like you have all of our data anyways, right? You have Google analytics installed on the majority of websites. Search console, like why are they waiting for this?

Rahmel Wattley: 2:18:26

product. But you know, when you think about it it's like is it a bad business? Like because they had? I mean, I know there's people way smarter than both of us it definitely me. So I'm like, what if we could think about it right now in a quick podcast? I know somebody else has thought about this. So why are they not doing it? But what is it about that business that's making people say, nah, you know, I'd rather create something else. I'm fine with that. You know what is it about? I don't know. But yeah, that would be amazing. I'm waiting. Maybe we should create it, maybe we should do it.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:18:54

I wouldn't know where to start, but I got a good problem. I got the problem figured out. I just need to reverse engineer the solution. That's the start.

Rahmel Wattley: 2:19:03

That's the start. All we need is the problem. Follow me, go from there.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:19:06

Let's set the scene for today's show, because there's so much drama going on in freight. You have TQL getting sued, you have Convoy shutting down abruptly, you have Slinkio I don't know what the hell's going on with that situation. So this is why I wanted to have you on, so you could help us break down these complex industry things that are going on and then how we can sort of see the pathway out. So first, I guess, welcome to the show.

Matthew Leffler: 2:19:37

Thank you for having me, blinth. It is always a pleasure to be able to talk with you, break down topics, find understanding, find that place of compromise where we can both agree that we need more people to be fans of Lord of the Rings, even if all of the material that comes out isn't perfect. We don't want the perfect to be the enemy of the good, and even if it's not good, it could be better, and we want people to be encouraged that they should watch everything Lord of the Rings. It's very important.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:20:04

Well, hopefully my little increasing your volume there just didn't mess up as far as like computer notifications. So if you heard that, I'm sorry. I apologize that he was in the middle of a speech, but maybe I can remember that for later on in the show. If you start complimenting Rings of Power, I can just adjust the volume.

Matthew Leffler: 2:20:18

Is mute me. Is that the?

Blythe Brumleve: 2:20:20


Matthew Leffler: 2:20:20

That's that's. I'm glad you have the power. This is what I always worried about when you had all the power. Would it corrupt you and apparently like the one ring? Oh, it absolutely would.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:20:31

No one can put it down.

Matthew Leffler: 2:20:32

No one can give it up voluntarily. I understand.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:20:34

I understand Well thank you for having me. I'm so excited to be here. Yes, they well. Thank you for coming on the show, especially with such short notice. Like I said, there's just so many industry news topics that are dry. It feels like one after another. You can't really catch a break. It's almost similar to very much to like world news of all the you know worldwide drama that's going on. And then we have freight. That has its own little just not little, but a lot of industry drama. What I'm kind of hoping for is that we have a few different situations, especially around the freight brokerage space. So kind of wanted to talk about. You know, what's going on with three PLs right now? What's going on with freight tech? How do we move forward? So let's let's first start with the TQL situation. Now, TQL is one of those brokerages that is made fun of a lot, especially in the meme space, but they are one of the top dogs, if not the top brokerage, in the entire industry. So what's going on with them and how should industry professionals, I guess, learn from this?

Matthew Leffler: 2:21:36

Yeah, so I have my TQL pen here. I got this from a dear friend of mine, charlie Safro. I love TQL. Let's let's set the stage. So a lot of stuff we're going to talk about is really market driven right About, like how the market and the freight recession has been going on and it'll continue for a period of time. Tql is this story, for TQL has nothing to do with the market. This has to do with incredibly bad leadership that is going to result in a massive amount of liability. So let's set the stage. Tql is the second largest freight broker in the United States. They do about $8 billion a year in revenue, that's billion with a B. This is a big business and they have been brokering freight for over 20 years. Leader of this company, ken Oaks. So we're going to talk about Ken quite a bit. This case is really interesting. So here's the story. Tql has this program and the program is for junior freight brokers. They call them in the lawsuit, laets, the Logistics Account Executive Trainees, and once you pass this trainee period, you get to be something another name. They call a Logistics Account Executive, but they call them a junior Logistics Account Executive. This is what it's all about. Are you exempt or are you not exempt from overtime? This is the fundamental question that has been answered and asked over and over again in every single industry. Tql took the position that if you are a Logistics Account Executive trainee or a junior Logistics Account Executive, you don't get overtime. And what we find is those folks, those men and women, who go into the business of brokering freight, have about, at the minimum, 26 weeks of being a Logistics Account Executive trainee something like that, half a year and they're working 60 hours a week. 60 hours a week. They're doing phone calls, track and trace, cold calling all of the things that junior freight brokers do. So in 2010, tql gets sued and they get sued under this thing called the Fair Labor Standards Act, essentially the statute that says who's exempt and who's not exempt. Lawyers were exempt. I don't get overtime. I can sit in a windowless office for 16 hours a day and it's always the same amount of money. I don't get more for working more, but in other spaces you do get overtime, and this was the fundamental fight. Blythe is whether or not these young though, these junior executives or junior brokers, deserve or require to be paid overtime, and this litigation started in 2010. It went to trial in 2022. The verdict came out in September 26, 2023. This is 13 years of litigation.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:24:09

Why did it take so long?

Matthew Leffler: 2:24:10

This is what we call bet the farm litigation, which is to say, this is the most challenging and difficult litigation you're ever going to experience as a business. If you lose, you can lose your business. So you fight tooth and nail about who the plaintiffs are, how you look at a class action suit, and so in this case, it's 4,500 brokers, all in the state of Ohio from 2008 to 2016. That is the class of people that are suing and it went to trial and TQL lost.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:24:44

Okay, okay, all right. First of all, tql. First of all, I have a bunch of questions. Oh I love this, I love it. Okay, so TQL had 4,000 brokers that were affected by this in just the state of Ohio.

Matthew Leffler: 2:24:57

Yeah. So the way to look at this is TQL admits in their own depositions and in the discovery 95% of people who go into their program leave. They burn out, they go. So this is a meat grinder, this is an old school. Bring them in, break them over the wheel, throw them away and the cream will rise to the top and you move on. That is why you see me all the time talk about non-competition agreements, because that 95% that fail out all have a non-compete. They can't go back in this business. So that's one of those little kind of caveats to remember about this stuff.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:25:31

So that makes a lot more sense now, while there's so many folks in Ohio that are making this or making this judgment or participating in this judgment. Now my next question is how does TQL get to determine who is exempt and non-exempt from overtime?

Matthew Leffler: 2:25:50

Yes, that's a great question so that is the fundamental inquiry for this lawsuit is who told you to make them exempt or non-exempt? What was the reasoning behind this? And it's revealed in the deposition of Ken Oaks that he got that advice from the Transportation Intermediaries Association. He went to TIA and said hey, I have these people, what should I do with them? And they said well, the other participants in the space call them exempt, we call them exempt, they don't get overtime. So those 60 hours a week weekends, nights, holidays, whatever they're not going to get overtime. That decision was again made by TIA, or recommended by TIA, and Ken Oaks followed it. He didn't go to his outside counsel, didn't go to his internal counsel, just said I'll take that advice. That's so strange. Well, this is what I get. This is the part that makes it so interesting. So these people that were working this job average salary was about, let's say, $36,000 a year. So if you're working that, you're probably making like $17 an hour or something in that range. If you're making overtime, your rate is time and a half like $24 an hour. The liability in front of TQL right now, right now, for this one case in Ohio, on the most conservative estimate, is $100 million. On the high end it's like $200 million. Now why it's important to know these numbers and we'll talk a lot about it because it's amazing, but these are numbers that are uninsurable through your general liability policy. This is paid out of your operating capital. You have to take money from your bank and hand it to the lawyers and say here is your money and TQL lost. They tried to make the argument that these freight brokers were administrative personnel, kind of like your HR department or your marketing department or your whatever payroll department, which can be considered exempt in certain manager positions. But for the brokers they were doing clerical work. They were all clerks, they were calling everyone to call them, but they were just doing clerical stuff Because they were misclassified. And we look at these average amounts of 20 hours of overtime per person per week and you take the 4,500 people, you can start doing those math. You can start getting those numbers. That is why the litigation is so interesting, because this is how our industry operates. It is a systematic issue of how you classify a trainee. Once they start getting commissioned, you're done, you don't have to worry about it anymore. But if they're just getting straight salary draw with no other commission or variable component, they're likely going to be considered exempt. I mean sorry, they're not exempt, which means they must get overtime. Exempt being they don't get overtime. It's fascinating.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:28:40

I still have a bunch of questions about this one. Is it only exclusive to Ohio or does it have a chance to spread out to all states?

Matthew Leffler: 2:28:49

This is a contagion. So it's only Ohio. This one here is only Ohio. People keep asking, matt, can TQL handle a $200 million verdict? Of course they can. That's probably one quarter of their operating capital, their earnings, so they're going to lose an entire quarter of profitability. If you have four or five cases like this, your knees start to buckle. You get 10 cases like this, you're out of business. I don't care how big you are, how smart you are, and so this has the absolute potential to spread any place where TQL is doing this program and for any other freight broker who followed the guidance that was offered by TIA is also on the hook. Now, two really cool things about this case. Oh good, where did those? balloons come from. Apple has a thing If you do this, it'll make balloons. I don't know how to spell it.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:29:42

Sorry if you're just listening. He just had a bunch of balloons go up in front of his face and I didn't know if that was a software thing on my end.

Matthew Leffler: 2:29:50

No, it's on my side and I should know about it because I saw some of them do it.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:29:53

Did you do that on purpose, based on the topic you were talking?

Matthew Leffler: 2:29:55

about. No, I moved my hands. I talk with my hands. I'm kidding, I'm kidding. Well, so the first thing that's really interesting is this thing called liquidated damages. Liquidated damages is only awarded in these cases if it's shown that you didn't act in good faith. So there's a question that's given to Ken Oaks and TQL. When you were asked are these people exempt or not exempt? How hard did you work to get the answer? Did you go to outside counsel? Did you go to local counsel? Did you go internal with your own company? How hard did you work Under deposition, under the penalty of perjury? Ken Oaks says no, I just went to TIA, I just asked them. That's all I did.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:30:33

Well, how normal is it to ask an association about hiring practices? You would think that if you've been a brokerage business for at least 10 years, you have established hiring practices. So why, in that moment, did he feel as if he had to go to an outside association to ask a question that he probably already knew the answer to?

Matthew Leffler: 2:30:55

Yeah. So that's a really good question. I don't think we know the answer. I think there's a combination of. He knew TIA would likely give him the answer that he wanted to hear, because if you were to go into the wayback machine, you're going to add probably $10,000 to $20,000 in payroll expenses per person to do it the correct way, and that's really if your operating margins aren't super great, you're not going to want to make that change. Number two a lot of these trade associations and I love them, I really do they make you think that they're indispensable. They make you think that they know everything about the law and compliance, and they don't. They're not fiduciaries, they're not out here saying I'll put myself in your shoes and give you the best advice. This is what everyone's doing. Okay, that seems like what I want to do. So liquid data damages was essentially taking the total amount that TQL had to pay in backwages and doubling it. So that's how we get to the number from $45 million in backwages to potentially $90 million with the liquid data damages and if it's higher and I've heard inside people saying they think it's going to be closer to $200 million that's why it's so imperative like you have to do the job that you're hired to do. Now the part that I really find interesting. If you're a corporate officer of one of these businesses and you're found to have violated the Fair Labor Standards Act, you are individually, personally, jointly and severally liable for the entire amount. So if TQL can't pay that $200 million and I can for this one it's on hook for Ken. And if you're a freight broker out there and I can't emphasize enough how important this case is if you're a freight broker out there and you follow this pattern in practice of how you classify your trainees, you are on the hook. You can be sued individually for everything that you have. I can pierce the corporate veil, I can get to your car, I can get to your bank account, I can get to your home, I can put a lien on your property and force a foreclosure. I will get paid. And so people have to understand. When you make these shortcuts in making hiring decisions and classification distinctions, it's at your own risk, because if you don't know the law, it doesn't matter. We don't need you to know it, we just need you to know that we're coming for you.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:33:15

You know what this kind of feels like when you're driving down the highway and you see all those billboards that are like have you been in a truck accident? Call us and we'll get you the money you deserve. Is that kind of maybe what the future holds for freight brokerages? Absolutely.

Matthew Leffler: 2:33:31

I mean, I cannot emphasize enough the amount of people who have reached out to me, whether it's through Reddit or Twitter or LinkedIn, and said hey, do you know anything about Florida or Illinois or California, whatever? And these cases are going to come. They are going to come. And the other part that's important to note is, again, there's no insurance you can buy for this. Number two, you're personally liable for it. And number three, it also erodes attorney's phase. So if you win, if you're the plaintiff and you sue and you win, you, the employer, have to pay the lawyer's bills for your side and their side. So the liability is substantial. And TIA, they made a statement when this case came out, when Ken Oaks was deposed, and they said they didn't agree with the ruling, which is to say, like they're not denying what they said, like they're not saying we didn't tell him that. They're saying we disagree with the interpretation. So I'm telling you, freight brokers, like if you think TIA knows what they're talking about as it relates to this issue, I would be very skeptical. I would take a beat and make sure that you actually are doing it correctly. Now, this is the part of life I get really excited about because it makes it really keck. So let's say you are doing it wrong and you want to do it right. You're going to go to your freight broker and say, hey, guys and gals, we're going to make you, guys, we're going to make you pay you hourly. And they're going to say, well, that's weird, why is that happening? And they're going to Google it and they're going to see the case against TQL and they'll see people like us talking about it, because this case happened to Robinson, this case happened to Echo and they lost those cases. But those cases got buried because no one talked about it. This is why what we do is so important because young people don't know their rights. I have a bunch of pieces of paper on my wall that talk to me about how I know people's rights. So this is why this case is so interesting.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:35:12

It's really fun and it's crazy. You say that because, just thinking of the model of freight brokers, I started working in one more than 10 years ago. It actually went out of business 10 years ago, so it closed. Like 15 years ago is when I worked in one and it was just. It was a constant effort for us to go to the college, down the road, find some people that were just fresh out of graduation and recruit them to come work for the freight brokerage and you just make them hammer the phones. It sounds like that. That is just a normal thing that happens across freight brokerages. Is it safe to say that hiring practice will still continue? But they need to just classify them correctly.

Matthew Leffler: 2:35:56

Yeah, I think that that'll absolutely, because it'll happen. So we need in this business, meat for the grinder and the meat can be off-shored labor which has a lot less rights to deal with and a lot easier and cheaper to do with. A lot of brokers have moved in that direction, but they still need young people in the United States to come and do these cold calls and do all the tracking, tracing, all this and they're going to do the same practice they always have. If they make the challenge, they decide to classify them as exempt, they're not going to be successful long-term. They will be. They will come, and that they will come soon. And the liability is astonishing. It's astonishing and it's a massive amount. So we'll see what happens. The next phase in the TQL litigation is the damages phase. So liability has been established. It is absolutely the case in Ohio. In this case, you have to pay overtime. The next probably month or two, we'll start getting the data about how much that's going to be and then it'll be settled or it'll be gone. The verdict will be issued and then it'll be appealed. Like there's no doubt in my mind, tql will appeal this thing, no matter what.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:36:56

That was going to be. The next question is how long is this actually going to take?

Matthew Leffler: 2:36:59

Yeah, I mean. So a good example to think about this is there's a Werner Enterprises case down in Texas, a horrifying tragic accident. $98 million verdict. Werner's appealing it. There's a lot of facts that are interesting in that case. But it's already over $10 million, maybe closer to $15 million, in interest. So if you decide you're going to appeal, you have every right to do so. But that interest doesn't stop. It just keeps ticking up.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:37:27

I had no idea there was interest on settlement awards. Oh yeah, in terms of it makes sense.

Matthew Leffler: 2:37:34

Otherwise there's pre-trial, there's pre-trial interest and there's post-trial interest and it's absolutely collectible. So what the people in the TQL litigation are going to be entitled to is all of the backwages, the liquid-aid damages which is doubling the initial amount attorney's fees, pre-judgment, post-judge and interest and any costs and the costs like TQL is going to have to make a website probably and send out letters and emails to every former person in Ohio and say hey, you're probably part of this class, you're probably entitled to some money. Here's how you file your claim to get your capital and it's going to be wild. It's going to be very interesting over the next couple of months.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:38:09

Do we know if TQL changed their hiring practices like this when the suit first started, or did they continue as business as usual?

Matthew Leffler: 2:38:18

I don't know the answer, so it's conflicting. I've had former TQL people say that it's still done as a salary. Some have moved, said it's actually become hourly. It varies state to state but this is a federal statute so, all honestly, they will all have to be hourly as trainees. There's no doubt in my mind, and other big brokers that have been following the same pathway, will have to adopt a new strategy, because you cannot do this. It's not sustainable.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:38:43

I just find it so just fascinating that they would not conduct inside counsel or talk with them. I mean the brokerage I worked for. I think at our peak we made close to 300 million. It's a drop in the bucket compared to $8 billion, and you didn't have in-house. I would imagine you should have an entire legal team of dozens of people and set an $8 billion operation.

Matthew Leffler: 2:39:10

So one of the things that's important to note in this litigation was this question of willfulness willfulness of TQL violating the law, and what willfulness means in the context of this case is the statute of limitations, like how far they look back goes from two years to three years. So if you knew the law and you made the wrong decision, your exposure is increased. So there's always an incentive, I think, for some people to have plausible deniability. So in this case, tql was not found to have willfully violated the law, even though they didn't act in good faith to validate the right answer. So here's the question If you go to outside counsel and they go to me say, matt, what should we do? And I say yeah, you should classify them as non-exempt, because they're non-exempt. And they say that's going to hurt our business model. And I say I don't care about your business model, I'm talking about the law. And they'd say, well, we'll do our own thing anyway. So there's a level of being able to put your head in the sand and not actually be found to know the answer when there's no doubt, like they all knew what they were supposed to do, they just chose not to do it, and I understand that mentality to an extent.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:40:18

Do we know how? Originally because if you say, like 95% of the brokers that came through this meat grinder end up just washing out, how did they start to first formulate that this is wrong. We shouldn't be doing this. We all need to get together and do something about this.

Matthew Leffler: 2:40:36

It takes one person. It takes one brave person who's like I think that this is wrong and I'm going to make a claim by myself with a lawyer and then that lawyer can then explore are there ways to get more people involved? But at the end of the day, most people don't want to be seen as litigious. They don't want to sue their former companies. They don't want to get that mark on their resume that says I sue former employers. So for their own preservation, they're not interested in doing that necessarily. The other part of it is it's a culture. If everyone tells you and your HR people tell you this is the legal way we do it, you don't know any better. I mean, they're not hiring a bunch of lawyers like me to be brokers at TQL. If they did again, that'd be a bad decision. I wouldn't recommend it. But that's the issue. We don't actually know how many people find out or how they learn about this. But what they're going to do is they're going to see, they're listening to podcasts like this, they're going to look at articles in freight waves and other publications and they'll understand they do have rights and then that hopefully gets them moving to make the phone call to the attorney and understand. Do I have a claim? What's the process for filing one?

Blythe Brumleve: 2:41:42

Do you have any kind of guesses on how prevalent something like this is happening across all freight brokerages? How much is it? 30%, 40%.

Matthew Leffler: 2:41:52

And we're going to find out. I guarantee you the next round of these litigations are not going to be just opposing the senior leaders of the folks at the company, they're going to oppose the folks at TIA and they're going to say tell me how many more people you told this to, because there's going to be freight brokerages out there. I guarantee you 10, 15 people, shops that have four or five employees that are considered exempt, working $32,000 a year at 60 hours a week. There's no doubt in my mind and in this environment which we'll talk about convoy, we'll talk about slink you don't have a lot of margin anymore. You don't have the war chest to fight that litigation, and so if you're already on the cusp of insolvency, this will destroy you. Litigation like this costs a company $20,000 to $50,000 a month, and that's before it's a trial. That's just doing discovery. So this stuff, oh life, it's so exciting. So much for the lawyers out there. They're chomping at the bit. They're like oh wait, there's a billboard. They're going up, they're going up. Every loves, every TIA pilot flying J, call me, I'll get you money, I'll get you paid.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:43:00

Do you think this is still prevalent in the industry right now?

Matthew Leffler: 2:43:04

Oh yeah, absolutely 100%. I have no doubt I mean just from the inquiries that I've been fielding that it is absolutely prevalent. It still exists. As to how pervasive it is, I don't know, but it's clear that it's not a rare phenomenon from my encounters with folks in the business.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:43:22

How do you think this reshapes brokerage as a whole?

Matthew Leffler: 2:43:26

I would be very skeptical. If a broker can survive in that kind of environment, what I will say is it will exacerbate and accelerate offshoring and automation. Like a lot of the work that these entry-level people do can absolutely be automated. Like there's no doubt in my mind.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:43:43

So it will just increase.

Matthew Leffler: 2:43:45

Yeah, you'll find ways to reduce your cost and reduce your liability. Offshoring saves your life. I mean it saves you in this. There's no overtime when you offshore. Maybe there is locally, but not to the extent we experience the United States. So I think it just continues the trend that accelerates to automation and offshoring. And the people who survive and want to do it all domestically they'll have to make some changes and that means less operating margin probably.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:44:07

And probably more investment in technology, which brings us to our next freight drama piece, convoy. Unexpectedly or maybe expectedly, depending on how closely you follow the news declared that they were going under. I don't know if that's the right phrasing to use, but they ceased operations in their current form just a week ago and, depending on when you're listening to this, we're recording this in late October. So just a week ago they ceased operations in their current form and now are exploring technology buyouts. They first entered the scene, I believe, and you probably know more about this than I do.

Matthew Leffler: 2:44:44

Yeah, I'm not sure. I think it was early 2015-ish, 2014-ish.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:44:48

I was going to say 2013.

Matthew Leffler: 2:44:50

Yeah, they're not super old. They're founded by non-drucking people. Go figures, and that exciting. The reality is that Convoy came out thinking that they were going to create an application that truck drivers would use to accept loads. So what Convoy? Their thesis was if shippers use our platform to find drivers, we can automate the finding of the driver, and in that development, they ended up adding trailers into their fleet. They had about 4,000 trailers ultimately, and their belief was they could automate and remove brokerages. That was wrong.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:45:25

That was a dumb idea. The digital freight brokerage movement, I think, is what they coined.

Matthew Leffler: 2:45:30

Yeah, exactly, they really did think that that category would remove the general freight brokers. The story of Convoy is fascinating. These guys and gals raised almost a billion dollars from a whole bunch of very sophisticated people and they played a game of how they valued the company. So for your listeners who have a little mind for finance, the way we talk about value in transportation is a thing called EBITDA Earnings Before Interest, taxation, depreciation, amortization Silly buzzword, but it really just says how profitable are you? If we take out all this other stuff, how much money do you still have? These digital companies, these software companies? They don't have that. They take a dollar and then they spend a dollar or they spend $2. They don't ever actually have general profitability. So when they go to market and they say, how valuable are you, they look at their revenue and they times it by 10. So if I'm a $300 million dollar freight broker, like you mentioned before, and I'm a technology company, I'm actually worth $3 billion, which is what Convoy's highest level of valuation actually was. It's absurd, it's pretend, it's pretend money, it's a pretend way of communicating what you do, because they're all trying to say we're going to be the Facebook of freight, or we're going to be the Amazon of this or that and we're going to be the Uber of this, and so they get this crazy amount of pretend stuff, but then ultimately the money runs out. And when the money runs out you don't have a business anymore. And that's a story of Convoy. Convoy was doing great. I mean, they had all the great marketing, they had their logo on all sorts of places, but for them they weren't actually making money, they weren't profitable. They still had a need for investor capital to help them continue operations. And in this environment there is no more money. No one's coming out there and saying I'll give you $500 million to keep your brokerage alive. And for Convoy, when the money ran out, the business model imploded. So, as of this recording on October 25, they're not in bankruptcy yet, but they are certainly on the cusp or likely preparing those same files. So this is a freight brokerage that had some software, and now the story we see now is someone might try to buy just the software, not buy anything else, just the tech and we'll find out what the value is. But I heard stories of this company going to big enterprise brokers and saying would you buy me? And they look for how much? Oh, we want a billion dollars. We want our investors to be made whole. People who gave us money want to pay them back and they're laughed out of the room. They're laughed out of the room. I heard a number someone had offered Convoy $50 million. Now, this is wild speculation. Don't take anything you hear from this as being accurate. But this is the rumor that I heard, and what a far cry that is. You take a billion dollars in private money and you only have $50 million to show for that. That is absurd and this is a tech.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:48:24

Who's giving these valuations? How are they on two different sides of the spectrum here? Is it basically just you're worth what somebody's willing to pay?

Matthew Leffler: 2:48:35

That's to an extent. I think the story you tell is if I can take the market share, I can turn it into money, I can make it really profitable. So give me money and I will buy my way into being a real player and then eventually I'll have so much market share I can make some adjustments on the sides and now we're making a ton of money. So this is how technology has always been done. You look like Theranos, right? Elizabeth Holmes or Elizabeth, I can't remember her name. She went out there and she convinced people. She made a testing machine that can do all this magical stuff and she never did. But the investors, they have a fear of missing out. They don't want to miss the next Facebook. They don't want to miss the next Amazon and these companies if they have the right pitch man, they can make you think that they're going to be that thing. So who gives money to Convoy? Well, bezos did. Amazon did Like oh my gosh, how could they fail if Amazon's throwing this money at them? And this was the kind of the behind the scenes thinking is the smart money will throw at us and we'll eventually get to a place where we're dominant. The challenge they ran into, like everybody is moving freight is not easy. Just because you have an app that a driver may be able to give you track and trace information doesn't mean they're going to do it correctly. And you still have to call if the driver doesn't show up. Like there's still all those other problems. So this is why Convoy ultimately was unsuccessful and I think they were too soon. I don't think that their hypothesis is wrong. I just think that ultimately they're not ready in this business. They didn't have enough freight people who understood it.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:50:01

And so this might sound like a really stupid question. Did they have any traditional brokers that worked in the Convoy office?

Matthew Leffler: 2:50:08

Oh yeah, they became a brokerage. I mean they would take the investor money and spend millions and millions of dollars getting more technologists and getting more software developers, but they absolutely had brokers. They probably needed a lot more brokers, Just like when Uber Freight bought, I think, Transplace. They had to buy the right mentality and I think that they mistook how valuable actual brokers are, and the brokers that are real, like the real brokers, didn't have a seat at the table, as far as I could tell with Convoy. They was all technology people and they didn't understand what, when the market shifts because it always shifts how you prepare yourself for it.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:50:50

Do you think that at its core? Because, from a lot of reading just after this news dropped reading between the lines I've never used Convoy software. I wouldn't have a need to highly respect what they were trying to make waves. Ultimately, you shoot for the moon. Sometimes you miss, especially if you have. The biggest criticism I've heard is that they took so much money, but I've still heard that the technology is quite good.

Matthew Leffler: 2:51:16

Yeah, I mean, I think that's someone will find value in good technology that can connect you to drivers, like there's something really important and useful there. But the reality was you go to the trucker subreddit, to the freight broker subreddit and you see the money that's being posted. It's not great, like it's not a terrific software. It doesn't really do anything revolutionary necessarily. I think if you were to put a fast forward like 10, 15 years, yeah, you'll have autonomous trucks that can take digital requests from a technology like Convoy to go move a load for Proctor and Gamble. That makes sense. That'll happen. But as of right now, most drivers multi-home you cannot, as a truck driver, you cannot live off that app alone and be profitable. You are still going to DAT, you're still going to truck stop, you're still doing whatever you can find. So it was never a solution for everybody. It was a nice to have. When Convoy presented that to shippers, they didn't present it that way. Or to investors, they didn't present it that way. They'd say we have 80,000 truck drivers or 100,000 truck drivers. How many of them are used to your software every day? How often do they open the app up? Oh, once every two weeks? Okay, then you don't have 100,000 truck drivers. You have a fraction of that. So it's all about how they put this together, and I think the investors are not as sophisticated as they think they are, and I think that the technology companies don't do a very good job of understanding the space they actually want to occupy.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:52:34

So what do you think is next for these digital freight brokerage?

Matthew Leffler: 2:52:39

More bankruptcies. I mean, I think that the real takeaway for me. I think the real take sorry, by getting some lag on my side, so I apologize I think the takeaway is going to be we're going to see a lot more bankruptcies. Many of these companies were not designed to operate in this environment economically and the access to cash is not going to be there. The access to debt is not going to be there. Interest rates are high. So the takeaway is going to be some of them will survive, many of them will fail, and that is probably the best possible outcome, because we need to have the market reduce capacity for everything, and that may be useful. The bigger takeaway is, I think, then, the central thesis is correct you will not need brokers to do everything. There will be so many other pathways to automate that process. I just think convoy came in too soon and they didn't have the right leadership to figure out a way to actually transition to a real business.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:53:35

Are there any brokerages out there that we can point people to that are doing things just from an outsider's perspective, doing things the right way, balancing relationships, sales and technology that are combining those three things the right way?

Matthew Leffler: 2:53:52

Yeah, I would say companies like Freight Vana seem from the outside to know what they're doing. I think Load Smith is also kind of learning that same idea you need to have access to for these digital freight brokerages. I think you have to have access to trailers. Like you're not going to make a great business model without having some trailer capacity you can promise to a shipper. But I think there are some that have not been. If their operations are dependent upon investor capital, they're all going to fail. If their businesses are actually profitable or break even without taking out a bunch of capital or debt, then they're in pretty good shape. So I think there are some that are out there, but those companies don't market themselves as technology companies. They're very clear we use technology. You can't run a business without technology. But you're not a technology company. You're a freight broker that has access to technology.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:54:41

Which I think, when everything is all said and done. I saw someone say this. I apologize for not crediting you, but the best thing that Convoy did was to force other brokerages to adopt newer technology.

Matthew Leffler: 2:54:51

Yeah, I think absolutely that's a great line. I mean, I think that's exactly right. We are in a below average industry. It's a massive industry but it is not as good as it could be, and there's a lot of things that are wrong. And one of the things that I think is wrong is technologies that aren't connected and not being innovated. Now you look at someone like JB Hunt, 360 or Werner with their technologies for dropping hook and power. Only they're all going to catch up. They're all there already and I think we'll see just more of that over time.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:55:19

Do you think, when you say more of that over time, do you see a world where we just have, like a I don't know, five to 10 really big tech focused brokerages? Or because to me, like a freight brokerage has always been that thing where you could start and you could as a blue collar job, like you could well kind of blue collar that you could start and see a pretty good amount of success even just being a broker, being a freight agent, things like that. Do you see a world where those roles still exist in that way?

Matthew Leffler: 2:55:51

or is it?

Blythe Brumleve: 2:55:51

a world where, like five or 10 companies are going to dominate at all.

Matthew Leffler: 2:55:55

I think it'll always be highly fragmented and the value of a broker is not going to go away because they're going to know things that are just not on the technologies out there. That being said, it's not efficient In my mind. That's not efficient at all. I think you look back at the idea of like before deregulation when, it's all you know, a handful of trucking companies did everything that was a simpler and likely, you know, easier to install model, but it's more expensive. So I think you're going to have this, the same kind of challenge you see today, just at a different level. So it's still going to be fragmented, still going to have freight brokers, still going to have technology. I do think that it would be nice if we could get a singular system that everyone can understand and use. But everyone is coming out and saying, well, we can do that, just let it be our platform first. It's like, well, we're not all going to jump to you, we're going to go to you and all of them to me. So it's still going to be fragmented at some extent.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:56:44

Which I think is good for overall competition. Oh, absolutely.

Matthew Leffler: 2:56:47

I think when autonomous trucks I mean if we see the FMCSA come out really hard with a level four and level five automation, like truly no driver in the truck, then the need and the desire and the ability to do a platform that doesn't involve brokers becomes a lot easier, because those robots don't take meal period breaks, they don't take a.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:57:04

I don't know that autonomous trucks are going to happen. I'm one of the. I think the truckers have got to me. I was definitely like, when you see these trucks up close and people don't Truckers don't kill me for saying this, but they look incredible. The technology is so crazy. The LiDAR and I love archeological fan, I love that sort of stuff, so like LiDAR cameras, the fact that these things are on the side of a truck, and if you've seen them I've seen them at Manifest, the Future of Logistics conference. It's coming up in January. Check my link in case you want to buy your ticket. Save $200. Okay, quick plug. But a lot of those trucks. They're so impressive that you can walk up and the LiDAR cameras are by far my favorite just because you can see it in action. Where there was one of these trucks that they had a TV on the hood of the truck and then you could. People would be walking by on the trade show floor and you could see the LiDAR camera picking up every arm, elbow, finger, foot on every person that was walking by. Very, truly impressive. But I just Seeing a lot of what's going on with crews out in San Francisco, a lot of those issues with the bottlenecks, with the cars actually running someone over and, I think, dragging them for like 20 feet or something like a lot of those things. And that's just residential. I think residential is incredibly tougher for autonomous vehicles. I just don't know that. I see, I think one bad accident from an autonomous truck, especially on a long haul, and that's gonna be it. It's gonna the government's gonna shut it all down.

Matthew Leffler: 2:58:44

I don't disagree with you. Here's what I would say. First, I'm gonna introduce you to a friend of mine, michael Viesinger, from Kodiak. I want you to talk with him, so you can get him out.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:58:53

I have interviewed the founder, dan. Okay, there you go, so he's great.

Matthew Leffler: 2:58:57

Yeah. So they are moving freight today with autonomous trucks. They are moving things in trust state Within a given state. There is a safety driver who is sitting in the truck watching it go. The thing you have to keep in mind is the way I look at this stuff. If it's possible, it becomes inevitable. So deregulation was the biggest innovation our supply chain had in 50-some odd years. Independent contractor even more so. The ability to control somebody but not have to pay them all these and slay benefits. So there's no doubt in my mind that these trucks will ultimately be more pervasive, they will become more affordable and I think there'll be a place where certain routes will be preferred to have robots do it, because there'll be consistency. It'll be cost savings. The two biggest costs in transportation are labor and fuel and they kind of rotate which one is the biggest. Usually it's fuel, but if you can reduce labor costs, that is a way you bring down cost of goods and you look at things like Outriders, an autonomous spotting truck manufacturer this is on non-DOT regulated soil when they're moving these trucks around inside of a warehouse or a rail yard. So I see it as an inevitability. Now is it five years, 10 years, 15? I couldn't tell you that, but there's no doubt in my mind that if you look at the ATRI surveys like what motor care is the most about? Their biggest concerns are about driver compensation, driver retention, driver shortage and all of those buzzwords are ways of saying.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:00:21

I say that's going to get people triggered too. You say driver shortage.

Matthew Leffler: 3:00:24

Yeah, I see, I'm with you. I think we have a shortage of drivers who want to do terrible jobs but don't pay very well. That's the issue. We can't find enough drivers to work for 20 bucks an hour going over the road. They don't want to do that. So, yeah, I'm with you. I do think that we'll see robots sooner than later. And for the robots listening, I'm on your side. I will betray the humans in a heartbeat. I love the humans they're great, but I'm on your side.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:00:47

Yeah, listen, if you can do all of my marketing and cut a good clip for YouTube shorts, I'm on your side too.

Matthew Leffler: 3:00:52

There you go, see where we're going.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:00:54

So I do think I think fully autonomous. I couldn't even guess if that would ever happen in my lifetime, but I do see a future with having autonomous trucks plus a driver. I still think you need someone there to take over. If there's congestion on the road, you have to have somebody make that quick adjustment inside the truck and override the technology. Sometimes I just think that we're over reliant on technology. When the human mind is still there that can make a good driver is invaluable. An experienced driver is invaluable. The problem is is that it is similar to the meat grinder of the freight brokerage industry. You have the meat grinder of the recruiting process of these CDL mills and getting drivers that are being trained by drivers that are, you know, have only been six months on the job before they become a trainer. That is a level of danger, Even though I'm pro driver, but that is such a level of danger that there's folks out there that are doing a good job of spreading awareness about that. So I think that we need to have a happy medium with the experienced drivers and technology. It has to somehow come together, because having inexperienced drivers in charge of something that's 50,000 pounds, if not more, is just a recipe for disaster. Oh you're exactly right.

Matthew Leffler: 3:02:12

I mean, I think, just to build off that, we saw Governor Newsom in California veto a bill that was going to mandate a safety driver in autonomous vehicles for trucking, and so even OIDA, who's the owner-operator of their interest group they had tried to make sure that Newsom did not veto this, which was again letting someone not have a driver inside the truck. If the safety case can be proven out, I think it becomes impossible to stop At this stage. It's a really good collision avoidance system. We have cameras facing the driver, facing outside, all these things, the sensors are everywhere. It is a matter of time before these things become more pervasive and for my purposes, I don't see how it doesn't happen in a way that is profoundly changing to our industry.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:02:57

I mean it could also have a massive effect on just autonomous technology in general. I was reading a story the other day that was talking about or I was watching the All In podcast and David Freeberg, who is my favorite person on that show. He was talking about how much of just from a theoretical perspective, that we as a nation have become so risk averse, that we have there's one cruise car accident and we halt the whole damn thing and we stop progress because of one incident, whereas if you compare it to human drivers, it's still the drunk driving, impaired driving, distracted driving not wearing a seatbelt are all leading causes of death just across the country, and so if we can have some of these technology solutions that can still give power to the driver, I think there's a happy medium, maybe that we can meet in the middle, where you still have the driver that's empowered to make a decision when it calls for it. But for a lot of the everyday decision making, just taking maybe that decision making out of the hands of the dummies who are drinking and driving and who are impaired driving and causing accidents and ruining families.

Matthew Leffler: 3:04:08

Absolutely. I'm with you there, absolutely.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:04:11

All right and more positive news. The next one on this list is Slink. I'll be honest with you with Slink. This one came out of nowhere for me and I'm trying to understand where it fits in the overall sort of I guess news landscape outside of the owner just stealing money, essentially.

Matthew Leffler: 3:04:35

I think we can kind of bridge it for both the convoy discussion and the TQL discussion. So TQL, fundamentally in my opinion, is a failure of leadership. It's leadership that was not proactive in being compliant. That's why they got hit. And then convoy was. You know, capital markets shrank, they couldn't raise any more money and they had to wind down. Slink is a combination of malfeasance of the owner, so Kirchner I think it's Chris Kirchner's name, I don't know, I never met him. I found one of the CEO of this company, slink. I to this day do not know what Slink did. It sounded like they did something with data and machine learning and algorithms.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:05:09

I think they did integration, software integration.

Matthew Leffler: 3:05:11

Oh, perfect, yeah, that's what we need. We need more of that. So they had raised about $70 million or so over the course of however long they were doing it, and their CEO Kirchner he had their, I think it was their Series B, maybe in Series A had that money directly funneled to his bank account and then he bought a jet and the Securities Exchange Commission said we don't like that, that's not what investor money? Is.

Rahmel Wattley: 3:05:36

That one does yeah.

Matthew Leffler: 3:05:37

Exactly so he got in trouble. He's under indictment, he's got all the legal stuff going on. But the reality was Slink is a technology company that had been valued at almost $300 million or some bizarre number they had gotten to, which was a function of their revenue times a multiplier, and we see this filing. It's a very strange filing. It's called an assignment for the benefit of creditors and I'll break it down because it's really interesting. But Clarissa Haas has a great article that came out with Freight Ways talking about this thing. I might have been mentioned in it with some background information.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:06:13

I did read that article. Great, I love Clarissa. She's phenomenal, she's great, she's fantastic.

Matthew Leffler: 3:06:19

But the story is like if you're going to go bankrupt, you have to file bankruptcy. A trustee is appointed to administer the state, like the bankruptcy estate, and then that trustee takes whatever assets you have and hands them out, pays off your legal defense, pays off the trustee court, pays off your secured creditors, pays off your unsecured and whatever's remaining if there's anything remaining that goes to the former shareholders. They get their money, whatever's left on a proportional basis and they're done. What Slink opted to do is not do bankruptcy. So bankruptcy has two main things. The first thing is called the stay. The bankruptcy state says all of your suits, stop, now they're done. And the example I'll give you is in Yellow's bankruptcy, the biggest trucking bankruptcy in US history. They had gotten sued for a violation of a war and act. It essentially is like if you're going to do a mass layoff, you got to tell your people. You got to tell them hey, we're going to lay you off in two months. Well, that lawsuit, that litigation was stopped and it got brought into the bankruptcy court. Because the bankruptcy court is saying I don't care what's happening anywhere else in the country. This is the only thing that we're talking about is the bankruptcy. Everything else is stopped, so the stay is incredibly powerful. The other thing at the end of bankruptcy is the discharge. All your debts are gone, walk away. Maybe there's a payment plan, maybe not, but you get to get your debts discharged. So the ABC, the assignment for the benefit of creditors, is like a bankruptcy light, for lack of a better word. The company chooses who will be the person who they're going to assign their rights to. So imagine you have your own rights as a person. You just give them to someone to be your power of attorney. Britney Spears giving that power to her parents. That's an example.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:08:04


Matthew Leffler: 3:08:05

Exactly. A conservatorship is very similar to an assignment for the benefit of creditors You're giving all of your rights to this other entity and they're going to deal with everything. So what we find with slinks filing, it's really sad. They have about a million dollars. They have about half a million dollars in cash on hand and about half a million dollars in accounts receivable. They have a bunch of laptops and then they have their intellectual software technologies and they owe about $1.5 million. So whatever valuation they have, whatever amount of money they've brought in, that is all that's left is about a million bucks in cash, bunch of laptops and some intellectual property, and someone will buy the intellectual property, Someone will buy the laptops and if there's money left over, the shareholders, like Goldman Sachs, will get some of that money.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:08:56

So how is the so with the TQL incident? The executives are on the line for some of that financial obligations, but not in slink situation. The executive not only.

Matthew Leffler: 3:09:08

So slink situation like raising money and failing to make a profitable company is not a crime. That's just bad luck as a business and your shareholders, your investors, will lose out their money. Well Kirschner did is a crime If you say I'm going to use this $25 million and I'm going to hire the best developers out there and I'm going to hire the greatest marketing people you can imagine, and then you say put it in my personal bank account and I'm going to buy a plane. That's a crime. You're going to have problems. He'll have to reimburse the company and it may or may not be a good amount. It probably won't be able to be reimbursed. They'll sell the plane wherever else he has.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:09:45

I was going to say why don't they just sell the plane?

Matthew Leffler: 3:09:47

Oh yeah, they'll sell everything. They're going to sell it all and he's probably going to go to jail, I suspect and then that money will go back to the estate or the company that's been assigned its rights to some other entity and it might still survive. Slink may still live at some point, but as of right now it's not bankrupt, so it's still alive as an individual business. It's winding down.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:10:12

I mean it's a lot. But I also, especially when the convoy news dropped, I just couldn't help but think, because I went through a business closure, an abrupt business closure. Asset based 3PL 10 years ago shut down abruptly and it was so traumatizing to have these outside bankers come into the office and start dictating what you should do, what emails you're allowed to send, just dictating your role as an employee. And they start doing a lot of shady things and you see all of the TVs and the chairs and the printers and the computers. They start getting post-it notes on them depending on who they're going to sell all of your equipment to. It's like you just watched your entire life, career-wise just be put up for auction and you have no control over it whatsoever. So I have deep empathy for everyone at convoy, at maybe at Slink, if they're going through the same things. What is there any positives we can take out of these cases? Is it maybe readjusting the market back for better market conditions? For the rest of us who have survived? What does that look like? So?

Matthew Leffler: 3:11:31

the most effective companies in the space are able to flex when markets are good and when markets are bad. And I've been in transportation for a minute. My dad's a roadway guy. My grandpa had a small fleet of grain hauling trucks Ebs and flows is the business. This is how it is. The reality is we don't see a path to real recovery and freight until at the earliest Q2 of next year. I've heard Q4 of next year. I've heard even Q1 of 2025. And if that happens, many companies will fail. Many people experience what you experience, which is watching a company wind down, be auctioned off, chopped up and pieced out to make the shareholders and make the debtors get their money back. I don't think there's any real silver lining other than we must have the capacity removed. Come heck or heck or high water, there's a great number of companies that will not survive.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:12:30

And, like you said earlier, the cream rises to the top.

Matthew Leffler: 3:12:32

Yeah, I mean, this is the way it's always been. That's the thing is like this is a bad turn, maybe worse than two, maybe I'm par with 2008. But the reality is like this is how it's always been. It's always been feast famine, feast famine, and people get sent home because the day there's no work for you today, and I think this will just encourage people when they look to make jobs and make changes and look for companies that are really stable. Publicly traded multinational corporations are probably going to be fine, like they're going to be fine. It's the small mom and pops he's privately held, or any company that exists off of investor cash. If the business is all about like we finished our series B, we raised $10 million, that money will be spent in 12 months and then you have to get more money and if you haven't shown the thesis that you're correct in your assumptions, that will go bankrupt too.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:13:23

So I guess sort of the next phase of this conversation. Hopefully you don't have to go anytime soon.

Rahmel Wattley: 3:13:29

No, I have a little time in the world for you. We're good, we're good.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:13:33

Because I wanted to say, too, that, unfortunately, that company I worked for 10 years ago closed down, but they were also started in late 2008, 2009. So they started in the middle of a downturn, probably one of the worst freight recessions that we've ever seen. So I do think that we're going to see that's where the new businesses are. Sort of what is the analogy? That, like the forest fire, burns everything down, so new growth can start. So I think that that's probably a safe analogy moving into 2020, 2024 and 2025. But I also think it's a good indicator. If you are maybe you're listening to this and you're one of those unfortunate employees for so long, I'm sorry that you're going through all of this, but I also think that it's an opportunity maybe to think about entrepreneurialism, which is something that both of us have taken the leap on. And for you in particular I'm just curious you have armchair attorney. You are still a practicing lawyer.

Matthew Leffler: 3:14:33

Yeah, absolutely, I practice like dabble.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:14:36

Okay, and what else do you have? I know you got a bunch of other things going on, so I wanted to talk to you about that as well.

Matthew Leffler: 3:14:42

Yeah, so my background is eclectic, as you kind of mentioned. So the armchair attorney is a law firm that I own and operate. I have a very small client base. It is my hobby. I'm very clear about that. It is a hobby to run my law practice Very, very limited client base. I like it that way. I have a software company that is for the inspection and repair of commercial trailers, because I love trailers, and then I am currently the vice president of sales and marketing for a company called Contract Leasing Corporation, a 32 year old trailer leasing business with over 18,000 trailers in circulation. I work underneath the founder, mike Gore. It's a fantastic business and I finally get to put my love my love of commercial trailers and my desire to help people understand things together, and so those are the things that I do. I'm a gecko enthusiast. I have four children. I have a 10 year old, a seven year old and I have twins that are one year on November 15th.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:15:40

They are so cute.

Matthew Leffler: 3:15:41

They're ridiculous. Oh, I have no idea what I'm doing.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:15:45

It's a favorite part of my Twitter. Slash X feed is seeing the updates of your children's growth progress.

Matthew Leffler: 3:15:51

They're walking now and they're making noises. It's absurd. It's not what I anticipated at all, but it's going fast. They say the days are long, but the years are fast, and these years are very, very fast.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:16:06

And so one thing that I don't hear people often say is I love trailers, yeah, so where does that stem from?

Matthew Leffler: 3:16:14

Oh my gosh life, this is my most favorite thing to talk about. So in I mentioned my father, a roadway guy. 1976 first job was night supervisor At their facility in Chicago Heights, managing union mechanics suit and tie every day, every night really. It wasn't until 1991 that he had a chance to bid on a garage for a company called RPS. So RPS instead of search for roadway package systems. So the old days, cf, which is probably afraid ways roadway and Yellow were the trucking companies. They were everything, everything we see today. Like people say, oh, I'm ex Google and ex Apple. No, no, no, are you ex roadway, you ex yellow? Oh, I want to talk to you because that's interesting. But our job with my father's company called outsourced fleet services was maintaining equipment for RPS, and RPS only had trailers and dollies the things that connect the trailers together when you have pups. That company eventually became FedEx ground and so I was the big. We were the biggest vendor of maintenance for FedEx ground for 20 years and what we did was we fixed trailers for money. So trailers are something that I deeply, deeply care about. Now we talk about Transportation and transportation is really an exercise in trailers. So Something is made and it's put into a container and in that container is a type of trailer Tossed on a boat. The boat brings it to a port, the port takes it off the boat and either puts that container, which I think is a trailer, on to a train, which is a type of trailer, or onto a chassis, which is absolutely a trailer. Those things then go to a distribution house or warehouse or Break bulk center and they get taken off the one container and they get put onto a dock and then likely Into a trailer. Now that trailer blight, that trailers journey can go anywhere like a truck stop or a warehouse or a distribution center, and that Stuff in the trailer gets unloaded and then put on a shelf or brought to your front door, and so trailers are all that matter in supply chain. The track and trace of project 44 is the four kites. All of these guys and gals are looking for information about the truck. Where's a driver? What's he doing? Was he gonna be there on time? It's all a proxy for one thing the trailer it's. Where is the box with the things that I want? You asked me, matt Lefler. What do you, what do you want to know most about the shipment that you have coming in. I want to know when it's gonna be here. Like I don't care if drivers on his this rest period around his 10 hour Around, you know, sleep or birth, I really just want to know about that box. So there are five million trailers in the United States five million. About 80% of those are dry vans with with swing doors. So I love to. I can talk about those forever, but I love trailers.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:19:03

You're kind of blow my mind right now because I I just assumed it's gonna sound like such a dumb question. It is all are all semi trucks, technically trailers.

Matthew Leffler: 3:19:13

So I know, a truck is not a trailer. I mean, truck is the proxy, it's the power source. So in in our business, okay, we look at, we ask a choice to a motor carrier how many piece equipment do you have? It's power, which is the truck? It's a. It's either a box truck, it's a straight truck, it's a, you know eight, a class eight, truck, sleeper or day cab. That's the power unit, the trailer. Okay, okay the trailers gonna and a tractor trailer. Tractor is a term of art, tractor, trailer means trailer, so it means like the 53 foot trailer, the 28 foot pop, whatever, but the trailer is the thing. That is where all the freight goes inside. But you can't put freight in the bed, in the sleeper.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:19:49

You got to put it all into this beautiful, beautiful box with so well, I used to, because I have speaking of, I have this book back here called the box, which talks about the revolution, or I guess that the the revolutionary concept of creating a container, containerization, absolutely, and how it just it. It's the single greatest invention because it brought the most people out of poverty All across the world, streamlined shipping and and transportation options. So now it may be and our trailers, more revolutionary than the containers.

Matthew Leffler: 3:20:23

So the contain. So containerization was about bringing a Process and a set of dimensions that we all agreed with. So it's really funny because, like, we say Containerization but there's two types of containers. They're either 20 feet long or they're 40 feet long, so they calm. If you look at this stuff, that comes out like on any you know board about this, like data. They calm te use 20 foot equivalent units. So a 40 foot container is actually to 20 foot equivalent units because it's just, it's just two of the 20s, but so the container. So in a container setting a container is like a marine container. It's intermodal, it can go to multiple forms of transportation, so it can work on a boat, it can work on a train and it can work on a truck. So that's what makes the containerization model so amazing. You can get all of the cranes that lift them up to be uniform. That Uniformity brings a level of consistency that was never there before. It was always like hey, I got this trailer full of you know floor sweepers like what do you want me to do with that? I don't know, move it to Dallas. So this is why Containerization is absolutely one of the biggest innovations. But it was predicated on the chassis and the trailer and being able to move those things together. So containers are, in my mind, a form of trailer, and I think the chassis that they sit on top of is also a trailer.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:21:45

That was my next question. I'm like what's the difference between a chassis and a trailer? Okay, so?

Matthew Leffler: 3:21:50

so chassis a chat. This is beautiful, this I. This is like four more hours of this one good shape. So a chassis is the, the subframe and the tires. So a chassis really is just a BLT breaks, lights and tires. It's beautiful and delicious. You have the chassis Pulled by the motor, the power unit whether it's a drage company or motor care, whatever they are that container gets on the chassis and it gets locked together with a pair of pins and those pins make it so if it doesn't fall off, because that would suck if it fell off. So the main types of trailers in our country. There's about this about maybe 700,000, 800,000 chassis in the United States. Most of them are owned by three companies. Those three companies are DC, li Track and flexi van. Those three own 80% of all chassis in United States and likely in North America. They are at the rails or at the ports or everywhere. Then there's like people who own their own chassis, like JB Hunt or Schneider, and there's companies like me, clc. We lease them. So I own about 3,000 chassis. I lease them out to people whenever they want them there. It's a really cool business. And then the trailers are the big vans and all that there's about, like I said, 5 million of those guys and About 80% or 53 foot vans with swing doors, because that's for truckload. And then if you're talking LTL, it's it's pups, 28 foot pups with roll-up doors, doors, and how are they evenly?

Blythe Brumleve: 3:23:16

I guess we said you know three companies own the majority of chassis. What about trailers? Is it? Is it kind of the same dynamics or is it more? That's a really good question.

Matthew Leffler: 3:23:25

I would say there is a disproportionate amount of trailers owned by the mega carriers, though small fleets also have it. So in the old days I mean like pre-de-regulation you used to have one piece of power With about seven to ten trailers. So that was the dichotomies you'd have one to seven or ten. As Time has gone on, we have connected systems, we have telematics. There's not the need to have so many. These days, the, the, the margins tend to be one power to probably One and a half to three trailers. So if you're a company, it's an asset-based company. You probably and you run trucks, you probably have a handful of trailers. So it's the same kind of disbursement you'd have with just power units. Generally the vast majority of trucking companies are less than six trucks, but they're mostly power only. They're mostly just drivers and sleepers. And the other side of the mega fleets that have hundreds of thousands, like extra Lease, owns a hundred thousand trailers in their fleet. That X has a hundred thousand trailers, hunt has probably two hundred thousand if you count the chassis, the containers in the van.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:24:28

So and I imagine this is where your software Comes into play.

Matthew Leffler: 3:24:33

Yeah, if you're ready to talk about it.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:24:35

I'm not sure?

Matthew Leffler: 3:24:35

Yeah, I love to. So my software stuff was a labor of love. If you look at the numbers, one in five commercial vehicles on the highway at any given time are unsafe, like they're not legally allowed to be on the road. That's one in five, that's 20%, like blight. If I said to you, hey, I have five gallons of milk here. One of these gallons of milk is unsafe, but I don't know which one, you're probably gonna say, matt, I don't want to buy any of those milks. And I'm gonna say you don't get a choice because that's all that it is. So my thought process as a lawyer has always been if you maintain things properly, you are gonna have a lot safer vehicles and a lot less, you know, injuries and and Uninterrupted freight delivery is really important, like on time, undamaged, safe is critical. So my software I incubated with Michelin last year. We got our seed capital from Michelin to build out the prototype, the MVP. That was finished in, I'd say, september and Over the last few months We've been we've been getting ready to put to deploy it and it's initial testing and it's it's really about scheduling Trailer services. So I've read the company's called Lefler Technologies, but the product is called trailer PM and the PM stands for preventative maintenance. Like car wash is a phrase, trailer PM is the same sort of thing. It's like you want to get your trailer inspected. Well, I have people who can inspect your trailers and then you can document it digitally, and it's just about making the process of Scheduling a service easier, because most people don't necessarily know how to do it and, having been a vet, I've done hundreds of thousands of services with trailer companies for my career, so I know like a thing or two about trailer and I love that.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:26:17

That's. I mean, I just I'm sitting here and I'm thinking back to like 2020, when we're all stuck in our offices and we can't go to anywhere and we can't network with anyone, and so you see this sort of just massive boom of content creators within the logistics space going on. You were one of those folks and now you have a whole-ass business, a Whole-ass software offering SAS product that you've likely connected with other folks using content marketing. I just I think it's. You have such a great story of Seeing what's going on in the market, giving your perspective on it, and then seeing problems that you can expertly fix Based on your experience and your expertise, and then going and doing it. I think that's such a beautiful thing and I think that your story is. You know, as we Started off with the first hour of this show talking about all the bad things that are going on, I think more light should be shined on folks like yourself, who, who did it the bootstrapped way, who have a Business that will probably be profitable like right from the jump. I just you know, congratulations on on all the movements and things you've been doing, and I just I Think it's the power of content marketing in this space.

Matthew Leffler: 3:27:33

I Appreciate that, but I learned a lot from you, like you don't know it, but like I we've talked about this before, but you were one of the first people out there who were making Consistent content. That was really interesting and useful. Like I didn't watch freight waves, most of time I watched your content because you're good at what you do. I found it to be cathartic for me like I started off making things. They were just for me, like if you find my earliest stuff is if Really really really rough, and that's okay because I found joy in the process. What I found the most interesting over time was the amplification of Important things, and so we talked about the TQL thing is a good example. The echo and the C H Robinson lawsuits around Misclassification those are forgotten. No one knows about industry. Folks that are really were involved. No, but young brokers have no concept of this. The power we have in our voices to talk about things that matter is Incredible and people like you can put their thumbs on the scale and put out messages that people in the past could never hear. So this has been like an amazingly positive part of the journey. I will say that I'm I don't view myself as a content creator or an influencer. I look at myself as a Megaphone screaming into the void and, like some people listen, they go. Man, I love that thing and some people don't. I assume no one listens anything that I do. But then I get feedback and people reach out and they say I've enjoyed it, I like it, I want to learn more and you know, the more you dig into this industry, it's fascinating and it's also very depressing.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:29:08

I Say on the show all the time, we have so many stories to tell, so many, and Within your own organization, of what kind of freight you're moving and versus, like the the stories that that you're telling and shining a light on, I'm curious if there's any Underlying you know, maybe legal issues or crime stories. You know fraud is obviously a huge issue going on within the industry. Is there anything that we should be paying more attention to? That isn't getting a lot?

Matthew Leffler: 3:29:35

Yeah, so there is. There's so much and I'll say that the one case that I'll go I'll start with is when I briefly alluded to, called Werner Enterprises, and it's down in Texas. This story on. You've probably seen it. Most people, your viewers, have probably heard about this, but the story goes truck driver is driving in the snow and he's going 50 miles an hour under the posted speed limit, never loses control. In the opposite lane, opposite the direction of traffic, another pickup truck is driving. That pickup truck loses control, crosses the center line, smashes and head burst into that Werner truck. One child dies, another child is permanently injured. Question is who's at fault? Who's responsible? It goes to trial, goes to trial and Werner is found to be 70% responsible. 70%. This is a truck trucking company that never lost control of the asset under the post speed limit. The verdict the verdict 98 million dollars. 98 million. And here are the facts that were not in Werner's favor. The driver had been driving for less than seven days, brand new CDL driver. The trainer was asleep in the berth, wasn't paying attention. The dispatchers hadn't warned this driver about driving in bad weather. This driver had never driven in bad weather and he was told you must make this time. You must make it there. So why this case is so interesting right now is one Should anyone expect someone else to lose control of their car in the opposite side of traffic and hit you and you could be responsible? That's crazy, that's bonkers, it's absurd. More importantly, if you are following this thing called f4 preemption the idea of broker at liability you could be a broker who brokered that truck to move that low. Let's say it's not Werner, I say it's someone, a random trucking company. You'd mr or mrs Broker could be the one who gets sued for a hundred million dollars and you would have no way to protect yourself. So this thing is going to the Texas Supreme Court. That will. It will go there and that's where it's gonna live and die. It can't go to the US Supreme Court. It's a state issue only. But if this type of stuff happens, werner self-insurers for ten million dollars. They have an umbrella policy for anything above ten million. With the interest we talked about there over a hundred fifteen million dollars right now this case should make everybody go. What?

Blythe Brumleve: 3:32:02

Yeah, I cannot believe that that would even be something that could be brought to trial.

Matthew Leffler: 3:32:08

So Werner thought that that the same thing. Werner thought they were gonna do a much. They're gonna get get a dismissed and say, look, this is no, there's no legal liability for us, because our guy was going safely. He wasn't. He didn't lose control, he didn't go crashing someone else. Someone else, like literally from the other side of the road, smashed me and they made the critical error that any lawyer who worked their medal and I don't want to put flag at other lawyers you never go to trial for the dead child involved. You just don't do it like doesn't matter what the jury hears you say. All they're gonna say is how much liability insurance so the pickup truck driver have? Oh, like a hundred thousand, twenty thousand. How much do you have? Oh oh, unlimited. Yeah, this kid's gonna need therapy for us their lives. This was mother lost her son like this is why you don't take those cases to trial. But Werner may, may be successful on appeal, hard to say, but if that stands, the liability insurance that people are gonna have to buy, it's gonna be very expensive. It's already very expensive.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:33:08

It's a lot isn't it heavy a lot.

Matthew Leffler: 3:33:10

We have a.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:33:12

I know, I know, I, I. I do Feel like I have to say that I Mean. Obviously that story is tragic and it's something that you know could be industry changing along with the Tql, tql verdict. I'm tired of talking about these. I don't know how to segue into something a little bit more, like I thought we did.

Matthew Leffler: 3:33:40

The thing is like the trends I think are important. The things to note for all your audience is If you're a worker, you have a lot of rights. You don't know about those rights. Schools need to do a better job of educating people about what their rights are, especially things like non competition agreements and how to negotiate those things. I feel like we are seeing as the as the industry continues to be in this dark slump. There are positive things coming from this. There's more accountability and we're seeing the fraud. Like in the good times. You don't see the fraud, don't see the theft. You just see everyone making a bunch of money. When the tides lower, every ship begins to sink and you can see who the bad apples really are, and that's important. I mean, we all have to behave Like someone is watching us, because someone probably is. So I think there's some positivity coming out of this, in so far as it's Showing us the actors we didn't like, like TQL, are actually worse than we thought, which is great. They won't let me follow them on Twitter. I'll be honest with you. I've tried. They won't let me. They will not.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:34:51

I thought they had their tweets protected.

Matthew Leffler: 3:34:52

They do. I can't even look at them. I For a while I was harassing them on LinkedIn. I would say harassing, it's not the right word. I was coming, I was engaging, it's engaging with them. They weren't very big fans but for some reason, if I ever go and look like who's looking at my profile, it's a lot of people from TQL.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:35:10

It's a lot of the poor social media manager. Let me post it piece.

Matthew Leffler: 3:35:16

We just gave them a great thermos. Why are you talking about non-competition agreements?

Blythe Brumleve: 3:35:20

Where are we at with non-competition agreements? Is that is? Is that an issue still?

Matthew Leffler: 3:35:24

Yeah, I mean so. For for those of you who've been following this, there's been this thing called the Federal Trade Commission and they put out a proposed rule that would ban non-competes for everybody. So let's talk about some statistics. About one in five, thirty million American workers have a non-compete thirty million people as a condition of employment. About 30 to 40 percent of those people make under fifteen dollars an hour. So it's, it's. It's a really interesting thing. They are disproportionately affecting, you know, all sorts of different protected classes. That's just the fact that the history of these things is also fascinating. But the FTC came out and said look, we believe that because of non-competes, american workers are making $300 billion less a year than they're supposed to be, because the non-compete makes you can't go and get another job or make your own company. So it artificially do they depress is your compensation. So the FTC said we're gonna ban these things and over 20,000 comments were made. One of them was made by the American Trucking Associations. They believe they're great, no figure. But the FTC will have a final rule, probably next year, and it'll likely ban non-competes. The problem is that it is unlikely that the Supreme Court would allow that type of rule to pass. So there's this thing, and I'm gonna this is gonna be esoteric, so I apologize. There's a thing called the non-delegation doctrine. All it means is, if you're Congress, you shouldn't give authority to an administrative agency, unless you've expressly said that. And the case I'll use is you might remember, during COVID, osha said we're gonna mandate vaccinations for people with over a hundred employees. And everyone was like what? Like when did OSHA get the authority to mandate vaccinations? Like, who gave them this authority? So that was sued. It went to the appellate courts, went to the Supreme Court. At the Supreme Court they asked the question does OSHA have the authority to mandate vaccinations? The liberal minority said yes, they can. The conservative majority said no. No, if you want to give people vaccinations, go back to Congress and ask them to mandate it, don't come to us and make us do it. So that is the example of the non-delegation doctrine. So the FTC is gonna put out a rule and say we want to ban non-competes. What American businesses are gonna say is why are you getting involved in a contract which we mean my employee? They can choose not to sign it. I don't make them sign it. Why are you getting involved? And the Supreme Court in this environment is likely to say Go back to Congress and ask for something. So there is another thing. It's called the Workforce Mobility Act. It is a bipartisan piece of legislation in both the Senate and the House that is stuck in committee. That would ban non-competes as well. If that were to get passed and signed, that would ban them and be okay. I think the FTC's action is likely not going to be effective. I think it's gonna be overridden. I don't think it's gonna be Legally enforceable. I could be wrong, but our court is very conservative and very hostile to things like this.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:38:37

And I've heard of even like fast food workers, like if you work at like a sandwich shop, yeah, you're being forced to sign a non-compete so you can't go work at another sandwich shop.

Matthew Leffler: 3:38:47

So that was the Jimmy John's case. This is great, the great sandwiches, freaky fast. They also had freaky non-competition agreements, these guys, they had a two-year non-compete. They would affect anybody within three miles of a Jimmy John's store. So if you work for the Jimmy John's, you can't work anything within three miles of a Jimmy John's. If that company had 10% of their revenue coming from like cold sandwiches and they were suing, they would sue people. Trunk club in Chicago, like you would send us your dimensions, will send you outfits that look really nice. The designers, non-competition agreements. You can't go work for another company designing outfits. It's pervasive. This is the thing that I think is this is towards the end. I like this part. So the history of non-competed life. I've ever talked about the where these things came from.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:39:32

I don't think so, but it sounds like some kind of like corporate America BS.

Matthew Leffler: 3:39:36

Oh, it's so much worse than that. So after the Civil War, we had this freeing of indentive slaves. We freed the slaves and One of the things that the South did was say, well, how can we prevent our former slaves, now Workers, from going and working somewhere else? Non-competes began. They began as a Method to circumvent the slavery of abolition. They became the way you'd say you can't go work over here. I have been trying for my the last year or so for people to understand that non-compete Agreements are not about contractual rights between workers and their bosses, though they are. They are an aspect of diversity, equity and inclusion, because they were designed and they disproportionately affect people that are in protected statuses, because we knew what we were doing. We knew exactly what it was. You're not gonna go work at the neighbor's plantation because he'll pay you 25 cents an hour more. You're gonna work here. If you go there, I'll sue you and the old days, like you, could a lot of things that happen in the old days. So these things exist because of that. That is their history, and Companies who don't understand or do understand and just don't care. They're wrong. They're wrong, but that's the brakes.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:40:53

I know why. Why treat your employees better? No, you could just sue them into oblivion or scare them into you know that you're gonna threaten legal action.

Matthew Leffler: 3:41:02

Absolutely. We look at TQL, it's like the poster child. They sue everybody. They hire people knowing that 95% will not stay. Those 95% will never get a job in transportation, at least for a year, because the non-compete. And they also steal from their workers like if any company should fail, it should be them. That they're not going to because they're making a bunch of money. So Very fun. That's why they're inviting me to their cocktail parties.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:41:30

Yeah, I don't think you're. You're gonna get an invite anytime soon.

Matthew Leffler: 3:41:34

And I think it's.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:41:35

It really is an important thing, because think of all of those people that we turned away from the industry that maybe could have found a really good home and excelled and made a really good life for themselves, and instead they were put through the meat grinder, as you say, and and now, though, they'll probably never come back because of the way they were treated and this is that.

Matthew Leffler: 3:41:55

This is the thing I think is so Diabolical is. It means that you're not gonna become an entrepreneur, you're not able to grow as a in this space. We want talented people that are excited about this business and we do everything to make it impossible. And so I look at this and I get. I get excited because people are finally Talking about it and they're finally motivated like the people that I hear from all the time. They're they're pushing back and I like that, but it is a very dark, dark chapter in our country. I look forward to the day that non-competes are gone.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:42:29

And I am happy to welcome in a very special guest, read loose Stallow, founder at lost freight and maker of the popular please advise hat, and if you were watching on YouTube then you see that hat and all of its Shining glory and you've probably seen it on various different social media platforms. You know, for this conversation I'm not exactly sure what direction we're gonna go in, but I think we're gonna talk a little bit of freight tech, a little bit of freight marketing and then see where the conversation takes us.

Reed Loustalot: 3:42:58

Why, what's up you, first of all? First of all, hold on where the heck is your hat? This is, this is, this is BS.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:43:05

It's um I I tried to look for it. It's in my, it's in the closet, I think.

Reed Loustalot: 3:43:11

I need to make more Focus. I use that term loosely. I I need more Female friendly hats because I I have to beg the women in my life to wear to wear the trucker hat. Not a lot of them are super inclined to wear it or purchase it. So what, we'll get there. You can be a consultant for me on that.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:43:36

Yes, I would. I know that a Kaylee nicks was Freightways host for it was now host and she was very Persistent on getting the dad hats, and so I thought to myself, shoot, I should have waited to buy that one, because I think I was in your first run of hats that I purchased one and then I Didn't really know what the heck was gonna come from it. But it looks like it has fostered this sort of you know, beautiful community of Freight brokers and truckers and everybody kind of in between, a lot of people from the tech space. So you have you started a little bit of a movement.

Reed Loustalot: 3:44:15

Yeah, I mean, it's all, it's just a vibe. You know like it is. Maybe it's a movement, maybe it's a community, maybe it's a bunch of other things. I don't know what word we want to use, but we can get into that. But yeah, no, it's definitely, it's definitely been cool and Was not on my bingo card for this year, I'll be honest. But but, yeah, we can get into it. So what do you want to start with?

Blythe Brumleve: 3:44:40

Let's start with the folks who Probably saw you like pop up on LinkedIn Within the last couple of months and have no idea you have come from. They're probably like raising one eyebrow up very high. I can't do it myself. But for folks who may not know anything about you and wonder where the hell you came from.

Reed Loustalot: 3:45:03

Give us a sense of what your backstory is my love am I, like I am do making a concerted effort to not curse all the time?

Blythe Brumleve: 3:45:10

Oh, you can curse, okay, okay.

Reed Loustalot: 3:45:12

I might, I might, let flip a couple.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:45:14

This is podcasting. We can do whatever we want.

Reed Loustalot: 3:45:16

Okay, we're not on, we're not on, we're not on some. Some other people shows yeah, okay. Um, I was there. I was out of college, I Started a job as a carer sales rep At at echo that was in 2016 Graduated, like a lot of people who get into this industry, graduated from college I have a philosophy degree I Like wasn't really sure what I wanted to do and you know, it's probably overthinking everything and was just in kind of very aimless and obviously I needed to make money Somehow. So I had a buddy who had graduated here before me and he was like hey, like I can get you know, why don't you come work in freight? And I was like, okay, so I applied and I had moved to Boston my now wife who was living there and so I moved out there after college and got a job at the echo Boston office and Ended up spending five years yeah, five-ish years there, mostly in Boston, and then I moved to Chicago in September 2019, then coven happened and move back to Boston. So I spent, you know, five years in the brokerage side and then, after that, I left and when I went to trimble Big TMS company, which most listeners probably have interacted with in some way, shape or form, I would assume I Was there from January of 2021 until March of 2022 and I was working on a A bunch of stuff. Don't need to really get into that, but I was I got laid off. March of 2022. I had been Looking to build my own thing, whatever that meant, for a while, and new kind of. I wanted to but didn't have any good ideas. I was always writing ideas down, getting super excited about an idea and never actually doing anything about it. So I did that for years. But I started teaching myself how to code, got okay at that and then when I got laid off, I was like, okay, I can either like, do the sensible thing and go get a job, because I just found out my wife was pregnant and yeah, so I could do the sensible thing, but I just didn't. And it's been like a year and a half and I've got a kid now and I've got a couple different things going on. So Back story that's kind of my back story fell into freight on accident and I've just kind of ran with it. So Were you a freight broker at echo. Yeah, yeah, I was. I was a care yeah, care sales. So, like I, you know, looked at the big list of shipments and went out and found trucks for them.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:48:04

So, and so was it one of those situations where you come right out of college, they sit you down and tell you to start smiling, dialing.

Reed Loustalot: 3:48:11

Uh-huh, yep, exactly. Yeah, it's really. It's a very simple job. It's gather, figure out where the trucks are, match it to loads, offer the loads, the carriers Look the loads, track and trace them, deal with all the nightmares that arise in that process. So I don't know how many loads I did when I was there. It was probably north of like 15,000, I think I did the math one time. It was a lot. So I was a decent. I was a decent rep. I wasn't the best, but I was. I was pretty good, I was pretty.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:48:45

What was it like? I guess maybe going from like the freight broker or carrier sales role into like tremble, because that's a Selling back into the audience, like kind of like yourself.

Reed Loustalot: 3:48:57

Yeah, well, I was. I was. So tremble had acquired this company called Cubix which was a shipper TMS and it was the first shipper TMS they had really acquired, to my knowledge at least, and I was kind of joy I joined because my former boss, the guy who had hired me at echo, had since Left and started working at tremble and so he was like, hey, I'm doing this thing. We're kind of like trying to connect this shipper TMS with all of the carriers who are using the tremble carrier TMS is and build Like kind of like a marketplace type thing. And I was like that sounds cool, like I wanted to get in technology. I Was just generally very Interested in getting out of the, the kind of the day-to-day broker role, which is very, very I'm sure all the listeners will not along and say that you know that's full to do that for a long time and it's hard to. Sometimes when you're in it and you've been doing it for a long time, it's very easy to be kind of Grass is always greener like I will literally go do anything else but this, even if you're making good money. So I, that's basically where I was, that I was like I'm gonna go do this new thing and see what happens. I was, I was just looking for something new. I had moved to Chicago, actually because I was interested in figuring out, like where the headquarters was at Echo's, interested in kind of Trying to sink my teeth into some bigger stuff outside of just pure sales and and Would say that I didn't really actually try that hard to do that when I moved there and just thought it would just naturally happen, which is not how things work. So so, yeah, I was, I was looking for more and I certainly found something different Not gonna speak ill of my former employer, but did a bunch of stuff and Learned a lot of things, things you should do, things you shouldn't do, kind of saw the inside of a technology company, which was interesting and yeah, so how did you?

Blythe Brumleve: 3:50:57

I thought you were West Coast based well I.

Reed Loustalot: 3:51:01

So I went to college in Milwaukee and Marquette, so I lived in Wisconsin for college and then I moved to Boston immediately post college and then spent between there in Chicago seven years and then moved back to Scottsdale where I grew up. Arizona is where I grew up. I moved back there in April of 2022. So, like literally Right after I got fired, we I found I got fired, found out that we were gonna have a kid, and moved across the country like so so yeah, now I'm, my residence is now in Arizona, but I've been in California all summer, so not be in Arizona because it's hot as hell.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:51:47

You have to be really close to water during these hot-ass summers yeah, I never said hopefully, hopefully that makes sense.

Reed Loustalot: 3:51:53

I think I've just kind of said a lot I don't know from it. Anyway, I'm like I'm just some guy you know worked in, worked in fray for a while, you know, booked a lot of trucks. I spent a brief, a very, very brief amount of time as like a cradle grave, like independent agent at Armstrong transport. Like after I got fired I was like I had a buddy who runs an office for Armstrong. He's like, hey, you want to come broker some freight? In the meantime I was like, yeah, sure, screw it. So I, yeah, I did that. So I've done. I've kind of worked in the split model. I've worked in the very briefly in an agent model. So I've kind of seen the brokerage role Pretty, pretty good. But yeah, I don't know, I'm just figuring it out as I go.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:52:35

I think that's sort of the the life of any you know entrepreneur, especially when you get into freight and you, you, you in, you go through like the entry level positions, because that's how I got Start. I was an executive assistant, so I guess Pretty much entry level, but then I also got to hear everything that was going on, like the broker floor, because my desk was right next to it and it was one of those things that as soon as I heard people like slamming the phones down, I was like that's a job I never want to do. So kudos to you guys for actually doing that job day in, a day out, you know, for five years, like you said. But there comes a time, you know, when you you probably want a little bit of a change and then you know it just kind of happened, I think, maybe all at once for you and and so for the entrepreneurial side of things you also own, or you co-founded, I believe, lost freight or you are the founder of lost freight. Can you tell us a little bit about what was the, I guess, the catalyst of wanting to start that company based on your? You had had experience at tremble and you had experience at echo. Why, why start lost freight?

Reed Loustalot: 3:53:40

Yeah, so I Guess I'll get into it. So I I like I said I started. I got fired, knew I wanted to do my own thing. That was March of 2022. Didn't know what that thing was or what it was gonna be. All I know was that I wanted to do my own thing. Quote-unquote right whatever, the heck that means. So I I flew out to Chicago to visit my buddy who runs their Armstrong agency that I was gonna go, you know, work with, and so I was just gonna go out there and spend some time with him, learn the system, just kind of hang out and Figure it out. And I, in the background and previous to this and, like I said, been learning how to code, and when I was out there he was like hey, like you know, I know, I got a code, you know how to code, like, can you build this very basic like tracking portal? And I won't get into the details of what that even means, but just just take it as that. It was a very like dumb as rocks tracking portal for Shipments that they wanted to be able to give tracking information to, to some, to some, some of their customers. And I was like, sick, yeah, I can build that. Sure, I've never built anything that anyone actually uses, but like I'll figure it out. So I I basically did it, built this thing myself, started the company lost freight, which is the name lost freight is just literally my last name LST like my last name is loose to low, but my dad's family pronounces it lost a lot and I built this, this moniker I Kind of claimed. This moniker read is lost as like an email that I'd used for years before that, and so I literally was just like every you know endeavor that I would spin up, I would just use the word lost in the name and so I was like, oh sure, lost freight. And then I spelled it fr8 because the domain was cheaper, so so that's, that's why it's called lost freight. So I started that it was gonna be the tracking portal. I was like I'm gonna go find some more kind of like SMB brokers, smaller brokers who might, you know, want to subscribe to this little tracking portal I built, and so I signed my buddy as a customer and they started poking around with it and I very quickly realized that I had no idea what I was doing with regard to like Actually running a software product that people use for anyone who's built, like actual, like written code and, you know, try to stand up like a, like a kind of a more modern web app. It's like there's a lot that can break and you press a button a thousand times yourself, you know, and it works, and then somebody new presses it who's not you and everything breaks and you have no idea what's broken. So I that was basically me I know no clue what I was doing. These guys were trying to use this thing. I was building and there are all these issues, but I I'm not. I don't even want to sell myself short, because I, I do. I tend to do that like it was pretty cool, like what I was, what I was able to build myself, and I learned a ton, but I spent a so much time doing it and I was basically learning from scratch. So it was. It was very informative as good experience. I didn't know what that I was doing was way over my skis, and I had previously met probably Ten months before that I had met my now co-founder founder on Twitter talking about golf and crypto, and he turns out he was a, like a software engineer. And so just Previously, over the last ten months, we, every time I would work on a project and it would like get stuck or I would break something I would always just kind of put up the bat signal and be like hey, jake, can you come help me? Like can you fix this for me? And he would come in. He would be like read, this is like You're, what the hell are you doing? Like this is all fucked up, like what is this? And I would be like oh, whatever, just fix it. Like. And so he did that with the tracking thing. He basically was like hey, I'll fix this, but like, what are you doing? I tell me about what you're doing. So I Told about what I was doing at that time, I had also realized that maybe this product wasn't you know what I was gonna inevitably build and stick with. So we kind of put our heads together and came up with this new direction. I was thinking about capacity and I was thinking a lot about the experience that I had had when I was a carrot sales rep and Just things I could build for carriers because a lot of my friends are carriers. And so we landed on this new idea, which is the current iteration of the business, which is a tool for carriers to kind of house Capacity data and then share with all the brokers and shippers they work with. We can get into what that means briefly, but we want. We settled on that idea in October of last year. Jake was like you're not doing any more coding. I was like, all right, good, that's, that's probably for the best. So I kind of have since just done everything else and he, over October to January, basically built the products and then we launched it in January and kind of the rest is history. And all the, all the other BS that I've done since then that we'll talk about has just been a Result of me just doing stuff online, trying to market Without really knowing how to do it and without having really any resources to do it either. So because we've raised no money, like we've Who'd strapped everything and just kind of figuring it out.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:59:10

So and and for folks who I guess maybe a little bit of a Back story. So back when I was an executive assistant, I was also in charge of all of the marketing, and one of my biggest like a heavy list still to this day that gives me a Little bit of PTSD is trying to get brokers to use an email marketing platform in order to send out they're available loads and available equipment every day to their targeted base, and so it was always a pain in the butt. The some of them did it, some of them didn't, but for your product in particular, you actually help carriers. I in correct me if I'm wrong, but you help carriers send out their equipment lists to their broker connections, right?

Reed Loustalot: 3:59:52

Exactly, yeah. So basically what I realized, just reflecting on my experience as a broker, working and interfacing with carriers was a big part of my day as a carrier, sales rep and brokerages employ armies of these I was going to say kids, but they're obviously not kids, but armies of reps who just literally call carriers, uncover their capacity, call them and ask them where their trucks are, enter it into a system, get it matched with loads and then offer loads Like that's what like. So the first portion of that just gathering capacity info is was the vast majority of my day. It was like I had my carriers, the guys I was working with, who I'd worked with forever, and then I would always be looking for new ones and I would just ask them a very basic set of questions every single day, multiple times a day where are your trucks? Where are your trucks? Where do you need freight? What do you want me to look for? Like whatever permutation of this question. And so I was like you know it'd be, there were some carriers who were proactive about sharing that info with me, like they would send me an email truck list or like we'd be on Google chat or they would text me like, hey, I've got a truck here, whatever form this took, like the ones who proactively shared that info were way more I was way more likely to work with them and I was way more likely to spend time to go find them freight, because they made my life easier, like if I didn't have to pick up the phone and call them to get this info that I needed to go find them loads. Then I was like I could just passively scroll on their email or whatever. Like I was. It was better for them, it was better for me and it was just kind of the the water, so to speak, of the relationship. Like if our relationship broke, a carrier relationship was like a seed, like that was like watering the seed, essentially, to use a use a kind of a metaphor. So we really we do provide a platform for carriers to house capacity data and then share it right, and one of the ways they can share it on the platform is with an email truck list, and I've kind of backed into the understanding that this is like email marketing for a carrier, you know. So we've got a nice, clean, kind of pretty simple way for a carrier to build like a profile, like a company profile, and one of the things that's a component of the profile is their capacity, their truck list, and they can share it on their public profile. That exists, like you know. It's just a link they can share with whoever they want. And then the other way that they can share is the truck list, so they can go in and build an email list as many brokers as they want and, you know, when their truck list is up to date and they want to send it out, they can press like two buttons and send it to their whole list. We've also got a list of like preferred brokers that are people that they don't know but have signed up to like receive truck lists. So it's like just a very simple way for them to introduce, get introduced to new people through the platform. So that's a new thing. We're not new now, it's like a month or two old and that's been really cool. But yeah, I mean it's really really simple and I guess you know from a, from a tech standpoint, it's like you know, we didn't reinvent the wheel, you know. I mean it is very, very, very simple and I want it. I was very purposeful about wanting to go from. You know, for a lot of carriers, this info capacity lives in their head. It doesn't really live anywhere. Like I want to go from it lives in their head to it lives here and we'll figure out what to do with it. Now that it's here, we'll figure out ways to share it. We'll figure out ways to integrate it into other people's systems. But like I'm not obsessed with integrations like off of that, right, we got to have it here first. And if it's too much, if it's too like tech pro-y, like you're never going to get carriers anyway, so yeah, what do you think it is?

Blythe Brumleve: 4:03:46

Because it sounds like such a beneficial thing for both sides to do. But I guess, with the context of brokers versus carriers, like the dynamic of that relationship, we all know that like a good broker carrier relationship is best for everyone involved. But it seems like there's a lot of like stuff boiling underneath that's ready to sort of like explode out with like truckers versus or carriers versus brokers. Why do you think that is when there are tools and solutions like yours that that exist to make that relationship a little bit smoother.

Reed Loustalot: 4:04:26

There's a lot, there's a lot that goes wrong and there everybody's kind of constantly at each other's throats in this world and there's a lot of people who are, you know, carriers have a bad taste in their mouth a lot of times when they're talking to brokers that they don't know, you know, and it's, I think, also their suspect of technology, because so much of the technology that does exist is for the benefit of brokers and shippers and is kind of for carriers, is like an afterthought or like their presence on any platform is more for the benefit of the people who actually write the big checks, which are brokers and like, if you look at the tech that's built, it's like and people say this to me all the time and they could very well be right, but it's like most of the stuff is built for brokers because brokers are the ones who pay for technology. You know what I mean Like that's the market. So if you want to make money and you want to be able to charge people, like, go after the customer that writes big checks that doesn't churn, that is open to technology, right. Don't go to the customer that is penny pinching, is churns a lot, that is high maintenance and that ultimately has a really low like LTV, like they're not going to pay you a lot of money in the grand scheme of things. So I think carriers are suspect of technology and so I mean man, there's just so much that goes into it. But just, I think really what I was maybe foolishly, depending on who you asked trying to do is I really don't want to worry about brokers. Like brokers receive these truck lists, brokers can go on a carrier's profile and consume the info passively, but like we have no product for brokers right now, it's all carriers. The funny thing is, as I get way more inbound from brokers than I do from carriers, so like everything's, it's all, it's all screwed up, I mean it's, it's just interesting to me and I'm very much like I try not to get like jaded about, like how, how that actually is. Like it's just frustrating that I'm trying to do something for carriers but sometimes they just are like they just assume that it's not for them, even though it is. So it's an interesting, it's just interesting for me. It's been a very it's been a. It's been a journey full of learning so far.

Blythe Brumleve: 4:06:54

And I think, too, we're almost like skirting around the the topic of like just technology and trucks in general, and I think that it's sort of almost like left drivers with a bad taste in their mouth of like adopting any kind of technology and because of how they've been kind of like screwed over in the you know autonomous trucks or ELDs or you know cameras that are facing them while they're driving, you know things like that. Yes, the mass surveillance not respecting of their time. You know, I think, gord, who is Twitter? He was Twitter famous. He's not on Twitter anymore, but you might have read a stub stack or listen to his podcast. He's one of the voices that I really try to listen to as far as like the driver perspective, and it feels like there's just almost like a resistance to a lot of transportation tech. Do you get that feeling too?

Reed Loustalot: 4:07:48

Yes, 100%, oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean I think that you know if we can lump, very crudely lump, the existing tech into buckets, it's like, and then how it relates to carriers or how they view it. It's a lot of it is surveillance to them, right, like ELDs, even if you can make the argument that it's not, or you can paint a picture where it benefits them great, like I'm not saying that there's not those cases, but like surveillance, like tracking, visibility stuff, like all of these things that all these products that all the brokers use, that carriers end up having to interface with. I just think that they have a bad taste in their mouth about it all, for better or for worse, whether it's a deserved or not, like that's just the reality. And when you build something new and you go out and you try to sell to carriers, it's hard to avoid getting lumped into that bucket as well. So, yeah, so I yeah.

Blythe Brumleve: 4:08:48

It's probably a lot at one time, though, too, because a lot of these I think. What was it? The ELD mandate went into effect. What maybe two years ago, a few years ago? So?

Reed Loustalot: 4:08:58

it was 2018, yeah.

Blythe Brumleve: 4:09:00

But it's still. It felt like a lot at one time. So it's the ELDs, it's the tracking, it's install this app on your device, install this app in your truck. It feels like a lot all at one time, where it almost, you know, is maybe just a tech overload problem, where you have five different apps for one job, functionality to work with 10 different brokers.

Reed Loustalot: 4:09:27

Yeah, I mean everybody. That is another problem. App fatigue is real and, and you know, if we're talking about like capacity posting your trucks or like a loadboard type stuff, I mean all the major brokers, all the big ones at least, are all working on or already have their own kind of proprietary private load boards. And then there's a bunch of companies that have kind of risen to the task of providing that same sort of feature set to SMB and mid-market brokers, right and so. So everybody wants their own app, and for good reason, because there is. You know, if you're a big broker, you don't want all your freight posted on a board where your competitors can go and search for it or where you're not able to tightly control who can access it. Right, because you're opening yourself up to fraud, like somebody might be able to piece together who your customers are. I mean, there's just a bunch of different reasons why you don't want that and why you prefer to just have your own experience. So the byproduct of that, the end result of that, is everybody's built their own thing and all these carriers are on 100 different apps and each app is asking them to provide the same basic set of data, which is you know what lanes do you run? Where are your trucks? Where do you need freight? How do I get in touch with you? Like all this basic stuff and everybody wants it, but at the same time, nobody is going to share it with each other. You know what I mean. Like if I'm a carrier and I download CH Robinson's app and I can enter my capacity in there, like CH Robinson's never going to be like, oh yeah, sure, echo or Coyote or TQL, here's this capacity data that this carrier entered into my app. Oh no, they're not going to do that.

Rahmel Wattley: 4:11:08

Why would that?

Reed Loustalot: 4:11:10

And so really like, at least in theory, in an ideal world like I would very much, you know, at least in what I've been envisioning from the beginning is like a carrier, like a carrier who has, you know, kind of this one to many platform to just house this very basic set of data in and maintain it in lost freight, and then we can dig the channels to share it in other platforms. I mean, that was like a very obvious idea from the start, and other people I mean that's not a new idea either Like people have tried that. But really like what you're trying to solve for is okay and what you need to be able to say to carriers is hey, you're going to come here, you're going to log in here, you're going to put this data here, but it's going to benefit you in your relationship and your interactions with all your other brokers. Like this isn't just you enter it here and it only benefits one person, it's you enter it here and you can add all your brokers to your email list and interface with all of them. So yeah, and funny enough, even that like that message is lost on a lot of carriers too. That's what I was going to say like, how are you combating?

Blythe Brumleve: 4:12:12

like the messaging to carriers knowing everything we just talked about, it's probably got to be a challenging sell to them.

Reed Loustalot: 4:12:19

It's really hard. I mean it's on the one hand, there's just generally carriers and truckers are everywhere, right, they're across all social media platforms. They're not in very well concentrated in any one place. And then with regard to what I'm selling, like the product I'm selling I don't necessarily want to just sell it to like a driver, like I'm trying to sell to a fleet owner, right, and so I've been thinking a lot about this. Like I have no formal like marketing training, like I'm figuring it all out on the fly for better or for worse. So I'm, I'm and I've also been like allergic historically to just like marketing in general, naively, not not like for any good reason, I've realized. But I in many ways selling to carriers, especially small carriers, is, is not just like B2B, you know what I mean. It's, in many ways it's kind of like B2C. So it's got this weird like kind of hybrid thing going on that just makes it extra challenging. So just get a message, even in front of them, is hard, you know have you had any sort of like lipo moments while you're?

Blythe Brumleve: 4:13:30

you're figuring out, because I think that that was definitely the case for me. I have no formal marketing training outside of going to conferences. I was a waitress that you know. My boss invested in me and sent me to conferences to learn. So that's the extent of my training, but it was learning by doing, and you know, let's throw something up against the wall and see if it sticks. That that's sort of been my go to method for 10 years. It sounds like you're. You know it's a little bit of what you're focusing on doing right now, but have you had any like light bulb moments that you've said to yourself like, wow, that this is really working?

Reed Loustalot: 4:14:08

I wish that I could say I have, specifically within the domain of getting carriers to sign up for and pay for loss for it. I am still searching for that, honestly, and I don't know if, like I know, it will come, and there's a ton of things that I need to be doing that I know I need to be doing to further push that product. That I'm just not doing because I'm, for better, for worse, a very like kind of distracted person and I do and run around and we'll probably get into this. But I've done a lot of other things since I started trying to sell this to carriers, to, and, and, so my attention is all over the place and I've raised no money. So I've not been able to hire anybody to do the things that I'm not focused on doing that I should be. So the light bulb will come. I have some ideas about what the light bulb is like where the switch is. It's just doing the work. To flip the switch is like I need to do that more. Yeah, if I'm honest with myself, yeah, I feel you on that.

Blythe Brumleve: 4:15:19

Because it's it's when you're an entrepreneur, when you're a founder, like you're you, the ideas are so easy and writing them down is, you know, one of those things where it's like, wow, look at all these great ideas, but if you don't actually execute on them, like nothing comes from those ideas.

Reed Loustalot: 4:15:36

Yeah, I do. If you're listening and you're like, oh man, like I don't want to share this idea, somebody's gonna steal it. No, one's gonna steal your idea Like. Your idea sucks Like, I guarantee you, your idea sucks, all my ideas suck Like. Anyway, sorry go on.

Blythe Brumleve: 4:15:54

Well, I was going to say well, speaking of ideas, maybe ones that don't suck let's get into a little bit of the the police advice hat phenomenon. How did it get started?

Reed Loustalot: 4:16:09

Well, I mean, when you're a broker, when you're in this world, we send a lot of emails and stuff's always going wrong and we would very much like to, in many situations, say a lot of things that we can't say, and so, in lieu of saying to a carrier, or saying to a coworker, or saying to a customer who has done something wrong or is doing something wrong and you're trying to figure out what's going on like, you would probably prefer to say hey, like what the fuck? Like what are you doing? But instead you just say please advise. So I've always enjoyed the phrase. It's a good phrase, stripping with meaning. You can do. You can use it a lot of different ways. It's like a Swiss army knife. I love it. It's a good phrase and and so that, put that over here. In February I built, so put that over there. I like the phrase put over here. I like building shit. I like buildings, I like building. The idea of building something very, very simple, like a very simple website, and then getting it to go viral and just like using social media and using just like word of mouth to like try to spread something is like. Also something I'm interested in just the general idea of like virality. And so in in February I built this site called please adviseai, which was use the GPT API from open AI and prompted users for a warehouse name and would generate. And the idea was I was going to get I was like what's the most useful thing I can use AI for for truck drivers? I was like excuses. Like these guys are late, like they're too busy to like come up with an excuse, so like we'll just let AI do it. So you type in if you're going to try it. It doesn't work because I need to refresh the API key, so you'll just watch Braveheart spin for anyway, sorry, yeah. So I built that in February and just kind of like put it out there and just made like a stupid TikTok. That was like hey, do you need an excuse? Like here you go. And so that was cool. And then I was like I don't know, I just like this phrase. So I wrote it on a piece of paper and cut it out. Like well, now you can cut it out. Like ripped it apart and kind of made and then taped it on top of a hat I already had, which maybe, maybe you've seen pictures of that. So I did that and then I wore the hat on the first time I ever went on what the truck with doing, or which was maybe in March, I think. So I wore it there and just for fun, I guess, just because it's outrageous. And then I actually initially I found I last night I was scrolling through LinkedIn. I took to see when I started posting on LinkedIn, one of the first things I said was like hey, like, would anybody want a hat? That says please advise on it, and like one person this might have been like March. One person was like yeah, like, sure, like, and the funny thing is that person hasn't even bought one of the hats yet. So it was literally like nobody, ever nobody said anything because I had nobody following me and it was just like a very stupid thing to say like in this professional setting. And so, anyway, I hit up this hat company. It was like I'm just going to make these hats, so I made 12 and I put them on Twitter and like a stripe link and sold 12 of them, and then I ordered some more, and then I ordered some more, and I ordered some more and I've sold a lot of them.

Blythe Brumleve: 4:19:47

So I'm like, oh, you've also built like this community too around it where we've talked about it on freight friends with great. She comes on once a month, but we were, we were talking about the. To be able to see other people that work in freight who have bought this hat and to see it on a map is just really fun to it, almost like it. Like you can all how do I say this? You can put a face like with social media, we have faces to names but you don't, I guess, grasp the entirety of sort of like a freight friends group until you see it like laid out on a map where it's like wow, there's, there's 10 of us.

Reed Loustalot: 4:20:32

Yeah, no, no, it's, it's. So I guess the thread that connects all the things I'm doing is just like just literally making it up as I go, like I have very like maybe I can in hindsight draw a strategy, you know, kind of try to pull the thread through all the things I've done. But I just really have, for better or for worse, just figured it out with a bunch of other things and I'm realizing now in hindsight that it's cool and there's a lot you can do with it and a lot will be done in the near future to try to take what I've done and turn it into something more formal and try to do even more cool shit. So that's vague, but that's vague, but we'll get there.

Blythe Brumleve: 4:21:30

But oh, go ahead.

Reed Loustalot: 4:21:33

Go ahead.

Blythe Brumleve: 4:21:33

Oh well, I was gonna. That was a really good lead into the discord community because I don't know that a lot of folks in freight were familiar with discord but now like 500 of them are and you built up this community. How did you? Did you start this specifically for lost freight and then it kind of evolved into something more? Or or did you start it with the bringing the whole sort of freight community together in mind?

Reed Loustalot: 4:21:58

No, no, I started it because initially, well, jake and I used it personally amongst ourselves to communicate about just like building the damn thing back. So we I started it. I think I started it September 13. And it was just that whole time was just me and him and then like a private channel, just talking. And then I thought, okay, maybe I'll like invite some customers use and use it as like a feedback channel. But very quickly, as soon as I started getting more active on Twitter, I just started inviting people to it and it's just just kind of taken on a life of its own. I haven't really, yeah, just in just only recently, I've started to do more like actual formal stuff within it, but historically it's just been kind of a chat room and whenever I talk to people who are, who seem interesting, I have a lot of conversations. Like, for better or for worse, I'm super, like I said, I'm distracted person. So somebody reaches out and they're like hey, you want to talk? Like, at least for now, like I've been sure, yeah, why not? Like I like talking to people, so, and usually the end result of that is me inviting them to the discord and then buying a hat, or they may be already bought a hat. They just want to participate. So, like I think it's, it's. It was not on purpose. I had no intention of doing the things I've done from the beginning, and but we have whatever it is like 400, almost 500 people in there now and we're doing formal events and there's a lot of good, there's a lot of good conversations that are being had and there's a lot of things yeah, there's a lot of good conversations that I don't think are really happening anywhere else.

Blythe Brumleve: 4:23:52

Yeah, I would agree, because the freight community, especially with as long as I've been doing marketing in this space, it has always been so fragmented it's it's always been challenging to try to do something a little bit creative. I always thought, you know, I come from the sports and entertainment world too where, like sports and entertainment kind of set the bar so high as far as like how entertaining you can be, but then on the freight side of things, it was always like, well, this is what everybody else has been doing, so I guess I'll just do some of the same. But it really wasn't until 2020 when COVID hit. Those conferences that were in person first went digital, and so that's where, like a lot of social networking started, especially on LinkedIn within the freight community, but it was always on LinkedIn and it wasn't on any other platform. And but now, with Twitter, slash X starting to grow, now discord is in the mix. It feels like there are starting to be like these solidified places where some of those, in my opinion, more interesting conversations are happening. Because for folks who may maybe I should back up a little for folks who don't know discord is almost like a Reddit, it's almost like a Slack, kind of married together and for that, I guess, sort of the user experience, you can have different discords that you're part of, but then within each discord like the lost freight discord you can have different channels, like one is for tech, one is for AI, one is for truckers. Then you also, like you alluded to, you have these different events. You have tech bro Tuesday, you have freight therapy sessions. I believe you also have regular like AI sessions where if you're working in any capacity, you're interested in AI whatsoever, like I've learned. I feel like I'm pretty in that, like the freight AI community, and I've learned things that I never even thought about just by simply joining the discord, because you can host audio events. Last week there was one of your discord members, garrett. He was actually showing how to build AI tools and if you're interested halfway interested in any of this, like this is the place to go and learn and to talk about it, which I think is really cool and no one else has done until you guys. So I mean obviously like kudos to you. Did you think any of this was going to come out of it, or it was just kind of like rolling the dice and seeing what's going to stick?

Reed Loustalot: 4:26:22

I think I started in February, or yeah, in like February, right when I started selling the hats, which was April, I think I that's right when, when I sold first of all, when I told, like, when I told my wife, when I told, like my partner Jake, like, hey, I'm going to go sell these hats, like everybody was like you're insane, that's not going to work. Like what are you talking about? Like that is like the dumbest thing I've ever heard. And I was just like, okay, whatever, like maybe it is. And so, right in April, when I sold, when I put the first link up, like when I put, when I first ordered the first 12, and I put a stripe link up that didn't have a picture of the hat at all, like I didn't know what it was going to look like, and and I just said, hey, if you want a hat, like buy one here. And I sold them all on the first day I was like, oh, this is like haha, like jokes on you guys, like I'm going to be, like this is going to be sick, and still, like I sold whole hats. You know what I mean. Like it's not. Like whatever it is, it's. I was a three figure e-commerce founder, that's what.

Rahmel Wattley: 4:27:24

I titled myself Anyway.

Reed Loustalot: 4:27:26

Yeah, so around that time is when the discord started to like kind of tick up a little bit, I, right then, and there I was, like this is, these are like three different businesses that are like right here in front of me and I had, I kind of started thinking pie in the sky coming up with all these probably horrible ideas. But some of them won't be and some of them will become true and some of them already have that, like when you know, when you get a group of people together in a very like informal setting that's driven by kind of jokes and fun and just like good vibes, like there's a lot of cool things you can do but that, but that environment is very hard to foster and it's really easy to ruin. And companies it's just companies are, I feel like especially in freight are really boring and are not equipped to do something like that, for better or for worse. And if you set out with the explicit goal of like, oh, we're going to build a community or whatever it's like when things are forced, it like it doesn't work sometimes. So I've taken a hands off approach, but at the same time I've been like, okay, I know, we're going to be able to do cool stuff, but like I can't force anything, and so I'm just kind of like stirring the pot, so to speak, and I'm letting it tell me what is possible and I'm doing what I can to kind of nudge it in the direction of what I think is going to be possible as a result. I know this is all vague, but like I think that's a good way to put it. So I mean, we've got the tech pro Tuesday event I started it's only been a month since I started doing that and we've got, like yesterday I don't know how many people, like 30, some odd people, like it's like almost midnight on, like a work night, and people are talking about like EI, like in the Discord group, like and we've got people who are, like you know, equipped to actually do something about things right, people who can build stuff, and so I already know there are people in the Discord who are like building their own products, like they're already demoing them in the event. So, long term, I mean, who the hell knows what's going to come out of this? Like it's going to be really cool and at the same time, like, as time goes on, the bigger the group gets, the bigger our distribution is as a group, the bigger my distribution is. I'm just going to be in a position to say to people hey, if you've got a good idea, here's a group of people who are users, here's a group of people who are potential customers. Here's a group of people who are like, maybe there's a fuck, maybe there's there's partners or employees or integrations or whatever all here and you can just come right here and, instead of starting from zero yourself, you can plug into this platform I've built and everything's there. And if you have an idea and you want to build it, like I can help. You know, like I don't want to do it myself, but I can help you, like I can send a couple tweets. So you know, we started with the tech pro Tuesday thing. That was super cool. I mean, we've been doing freight therapy, which is a Twitter space. We've been doing that for a couple months and that's just been. That's just like memes, like screw around, like have fun on Thursday nights. So we're still doing that. But I kind of put the, I kind of put the call out to the group. Maybe like a month ago, I said hey, if you have an idea for an event like, here's a space to host it in. I'll help you market it, but it's your thing. And I like, because I can't do everything myself, you know. I mean I can't do everything myself and I don't want it to be about me, you know it's not about me. And so I kind of put that call out there and Garrett answered it and started his like AI thing. He's like an engineer I don't know if he wants me to say where, but he works at a big company as an engineer professionally. And so he, he started his thing. We're playing with the name. I think he's calling it a, I take over. But I think somebody else suggested the name dot AI boys, which I thought was just like really funny. Like all these companies who use the domain, like the domain dot AI, just that's pretty funny. But anyway, so he started that and I was like, hey, like I'll do some tweets, like, but you, this is your thing. And so I think the first time he did it he had like almost as many people as we get on tech pro Tuesday. So like that's pretty damn cool.

Blythe Brumleve: 4:31:54

And these are all people in the trenches, like at various sectors of the freight industry. So you have drivers, you have engineers, you have executives, you have just brokers. It's you have a good mix of a variety of the community.

Reed Loustalot: 4:32:14

Yeah, I mean the whole point and that's really what I wanted from the beginning was like I don't, I mean you, it's so cliche to say that the industry is siloed, but it's so true. I mean it's like and it's very. You see that online too, right, you've got all the brokers and all the tech pros on LinkedIn, just like hitting each other with these like gobbledygook, buzzword, six paragraph posts that say very little. You've got that and they all like it. I'm not even shitting on it Like, they all like it and it works for them. Great, but there's no drivers hanging out Like maybe there's a couple, but they're not like. It's not like going to Facebook to like a Facebook group where all the drivers are, like you know, talking about broker transparency or like whatever. Right, and so drivers and Facebook, for better, for worse, brokers and tech people on LinkedIn and then Twitter has just always been this kind of like whatever, just like very amorphous thing. But but I always wanted from the beginning to try to just get people from every group right, because when you can do that, when you can get people talking to each other and all kind of bought into the same vibe and under the same umbrella, so to speak like there's a lot of cool things that could probably happen in the results of that. So a lot of these engineers, like a lot of the tech, a lot of the people in the tech chat like are building stuff for drivers or brokers and have literally like never talked to one. You know like it's crazy and you think you know if you're building for somebody you would talk to them, but it's not always that simple, for better or worse. So like we've we had a. We had a. We had a guy last week I've been Kevin Rutherford, who's got his, his stuff. I participate in a decent amount of his Twitter spaces and so I've met a ton of drivers in there. He's got a huge driver audience, owner ops mainly and so a couple of those guys have trickled into the tech bro chat and are just like I don't know what the hell you guys are saying, but I'm going to sit here and listen, and so you just never know what will happen when you can do that.

Blythe Brumleve: 4:34:13

There was one during the, because I was in on the the AI takeover session and there was one moment that it just it stood out to me as far as, as far as, like the power of this community, because they're you know, you got Garrett that's building an AI tool like right in front of your eyes, but then you also have a driver that's talking about how some of her drivers are going to the. English is not their first language, and so they're going to a lot of these different truck stops. Everything is in English. And so she was like I need an AI to help my drivers understand what's going on at these different locations and I thought why hasn't anyone? It seems like something that is so simple to a simple tool to give to your drivers, and that is one thing that I was like wow, where else in online are these conversations happening?

Reed Loustalot: 4:35:06

Yeah, I mean, there are, I think that's the only place. I agree, I agree and, and the conversations are good, but what I really want to be able to provide is a place to really tighten and expedite this like iteration process to where somebody who's got an idea like can come here and, in one place, get access to feedback, users, distribution, so that they can go quick. And because right now it's like it's hard to go fast in this industry when you start from zero and you're building like a piece of tech, even if it's super simple, like last race. Really, I mean, it's a very simple idea, but I started from zero and it's not and it's hard to. It's hard to start from zero, especially without raising money. And so what you see is, you know, in the startup scene in freight is like, for better, for worse, a lot of people starting from zero, and the end results of that is like you have to go and raise a bunch of money. You have to like maybe, maybe do things the way you wouldn't want to do it to be attractive enough to go and raise money and like, if there's a lot of like stealth mode stuff and there's a lot of just like not rapid iteration, and I just like want people to be able like, if you ask developers and engineers who hire engineers for the logistics base, they're all just like, yeah, it's hard to hire the best talent because it's not sexy or it's not, doesn't pay what it does. If you go work at Google and all that stuff, I think a lot of it, you know in another question I guess I've asked a lot of the engineers is like, especially the ones who have hired people for these roles is like you know, or have teams, manage teams is what do you like? How often do you have an employee of yours who, like comes to you and says, hey, like I built this thing for freight in my spare time, like can we build this product or can we do this? Like cool ideas and like a lot of most of them have said never, like that's never happened. And to me, like that isn't just because everybody's lazy and we have like no good people in the industry. Clearly that's not true at all. I just think it's like you need the environment to do to launch those sorts of things and in other industries that exists and there's like very, you know it's. It's like if you talk about, like developer tooling or if you talk about crypto, like for better or for worse. Crypto being like a very open and like composable system, allowed people to come in and really sink their teeth into and build ship quick, like, and iterate quick, and there was like kind of a right market like. That's like a good environment for people to like latch on and start to try stuff. And I know this is like super messy, but like what I'm saying, but really I like want to try to bring that same sort of thing and make it possible in this world.

Blythe Brumleve: 4:38:07

I don't know if that makes any sense, but well, there was this article in Business Insider this week that was talking about how a lot of millennials and Gen Z they are not posting to traditional social media platforms in a traditional sense. So, for example, instagram you the picture that you post. There's probably 30 other pictures just like it and you picked the perfect one in order to post, and so for a lot of millennials and Gen Z, they are now avoiding posting altogether and instead moving to these smaller niche communities. They're moving to group DMs on these platforms and that's where the growth is happening in the social space and so like. As you're talking, it's. It makes a ton of sense. Why the community has grown so much and these conversations are taking place is because there hasn't really been another form for them to have that a little bit of an outlet, whether it's their current job or their current social media landscape. It feels like that maybe this community is giving that to them.

Reed Loustalot: 4:39:15

Yeah, no, I agree. And I think really, like when I started in the industry, I was looking for like if this, if what I'm building now in this group, existed and I could like have joined it in 2016,. When I started, like that's really what I was looking for and I was looking to like kind of sink my teeth into it and interact with people and like informal setting, to like learn more and talk about ideas and do all this cool stuff, and like it didn't it just it just doesn't really existed. And maybe it has, and I don't know about it. Like I'm open to that idea, but like I don't know if it has. So I'm yeah.

Blythe Brumleve: 4:39:53

I was good, Are you? Would you have been nervous to share your idea?

Reed Loustalot: 4:39:59

Probably because I had never built anything and I didn't know, I wouldn't have known that the idea is, like, essentially meaningless. Like you know, ideas are just like. There are no really like there's probably no idea we could come up with in this industry that hasn't been thought of right, or it like and very, very likely hasn't been tried. So, like it's, the idea is not like and I'm not even being cynical, I don't think like ideas are fun. I love ideas, but like the hard part and the hard part isn't even building like a product. Like we talked about this a lot yesterday like the hard part about building a product and launching a company and and growing it. The hard part is like distribution. The hard part is selling it. The hard part is bringing it to market. The hard part is getting people to understand what it is, getting people to use it. Like that's the hard part. The hard part is not building it. Like we got plenty of engineers, you can hire a dev team for you know wherever to build product for you and and people do that and great, but like that's not the that's not the hard part.

Blythe Brumleve: 4:41:01

Yeah, it's definitely the execution of consistently.

Reed Loustalot: 4:41:06

People need to share too. Like. So just on this point, generally it's like, man, I'm gonna, I know that in, you know, I know that I can say confidently now that I owe every bit of success, quote unquote I've had so far. So, like, just sharing and oversharing, you know, like really it's, it's. I try to encourage people to tweet because even if the tweets are stupid, like it doesn't, it literally doesn't matter, like just everyone's gonna forget. Like if you say something stupid, like nobody's gonna remember.

Blythe Brumleve: 4:41:34

And is it?

Reed Loustalot: 4:41:35

gonna show it to anyone anyways. Yeah, and especially if you have no followers, like I encourage everybody to to overshare, literally, because you just never know what's going to happen. It's like the internet is very magical, you know, and it's hard for us to. It's. Sometimes it's easy to forget that whoever is on the other side of a chat or on the other end interacting with one of your tweets or scrolling past whatever an email newsletter, whatever a piece of content like those are like actual people, right, and if you do that enough and you put ideas enough out there, like somebody's gonna latch onto it and find it and say something to you and you do that enough like crazy, you know, magic happens. Like it's just, it's just reality. So if you're listening, you should start tweeting or xing, whatever the hell we call it now we're gonna stay calling a tweeting, I refuse to call it xing or whatever.

Blythe Brumleve: 4:42:30

you posting, I think, is what he, what Elon, prefers us to call it. But Twitter is just so iconic brand, iconic verbiage, Like if you invent a verb, you should use it forever.

Reed Loustalot: 4:42:44

I tend to agree with you, although I and I'm not like an Elon stand by any means, I do, but I am interested. I don't think it's going to matter in the long run. I think I think it's going to be fine, but we don't have to get bogged down on that. But let me let me say this I am in the process right now, and this is some alpha for the show. I'm in the process of kind of putting some stakes in the ground and launching like kind of the please advice thing as its own thing, and so there's going to be. It's basically like a media company, honestly. So more to come on that.

Blythe Brumleve: 4:43:23

I know what else do you got to share about that. You can't just leave us hanging like that yeah, no, I mean, I think.

Reed Loustalot: 4:43:28

I think that there's a lot of, there's a lot of good conversation and conversations can be good content and a lot of times the conversations are about content and there's kind of this like little loop in this situation that I'm want to tap into, because there's a lot of good, there is good freight content out there. You know what I mean. Like there's you, there's insert other podcasters, insert other. You know, gord, you mentioned like there's a bunch of people kind of bubbling under the surface and I very much would like to be able to lend the platform that I'm building to them and create almost just like yeah, just lend the platform to them. So I have a bunch of ideas for that and we're going to be doing more events in the Discord. We're going to be figuring out new and interesting ways to kind of package the conversations that are that are being had as content. I think there'll be there's going to be a lot of opportunity for to do some cool stuff that you can't really do anywhere else. So that's probably a little vague still, but we're going to do more events, mostly online. But I mean, I've been, I've been traveling a decent amount lately and I've been doing these kind of like get togethers. I've done two of them. I guess I should say so it's not a lot. But you know, I last week, on Tuesday, I had a meetup with Mike Bush and Long Beach and we got like seven people to show up, just you know, but from me, us just posting some of the stuff, just you know, but from us just posting like we didn't send out an invite or anything, we literally just posted. And I had a couple dudes show up from Twitter, which was sweet. And then last yeah, and then last week we, we, I was in Chattanooga doing some stuff and we did one on Thursday and had some freight waves, people come and you know. And then a couple people and a couple people from Twitter, including like a trucker parked his truck with his girlfriend at the truck stop nearby, went out a route, parked this truck Uber to meet us at the bar, which was sweet, and hung out with us all night. So like I'm really interested in just gathering all these different people together and that could be in discord, that could be in real life, that could be whatever all over the place, so welcome.

Blythe Brumleve: 4:45:49

Yeah, that's definitely really cool to see almost like the growth of it where it happens in these. I call them like digital handshakes, but then they turn into real life relationships that can only be enhanced further by those digital connections, cause we're, you know, we're all busy, we all have things to do, our attention spans are, you know, 30 seconds, if that, and so where we choose to spend our time online and then where we choose to spend our time online, that moves in person. I think that that, you know, somebody might hear, like an executive might hear oh, only seven people showed up, but, like you said, there was no marketing behind it. A couple people from Twitter showed up Like you can't measure the ROI of that because it's going to just continue to snowball on on top of each other. But you can't build the snowball without getting started at first.

Reed Loustalot: 4:46:39

Yeah, I know that's. That's a very good point. I think it's going to be, especially in the beginning, in the beginning, a lot more figuring it out and how we inevitably are able to to monetize it is. I mean, there's going to be kind of the more traditional ways you monetize media. But, like I do, I do think that there is a serious opportunity to for me to be providing a very engaged and bought in group of people like this audience is not just, like you know, newsletters, like a newsletter audience, right. These are people who are like bought into the brand, like are there, participating, right and and are super engaged, which is awesome, which is like and you can't have that unless there's like actual good energy, you know, and so really, like I just want to continue the energy we have and just the good vibes and just figure out how to grow it, not for not growth at all costs. Like it's not just a numbers game, like numbers is like a vanity stat. Like I want, I want like and in many ways it's hard to measure. Like you can't measure vibes. You know what I mean. Like how the fuck do you measure vibes? Like and I've been joking around with like the sonar people from the beginning. Like the please advise vibe index. Like put that in sonar. Like and it's always up into the right like and like it never goes down, literally never goes down. Like I like I joke about that, but it's like, how the hell do you measure that? I don't know. How do you? How do you benchmark that? How do you chart performance? Like you're an advertiser and you want to like advertise in this space. Like how do you? Like, how do I go and say, hey, we've got 400 people but they all love each other. Like you should pay me more because that I don't know. Like I'm gonna figure it out. Like I'm not I'm not naively, maybe I'm. Maybe I should be more worried about it because I do need to make money. Like I need to make money somehow. Like I don't have a job. You know, like I've been doing all this stuff for a year and a half, I feel like I've, you know, delivered some value, hopefully, to people and they tell me every day that I do, which is cool, but I need to. You know, there's a lot you can do when it's more formal, but always we need to maintain the vibes.

Blythe Brumleve: 4:48:58

I'm happy to welcome in Kevin Lawton. He is the founder and host of the new warehouse podcast and we're going to be talking about well, you guessed it, we're going to be talking about warehouses. And then we're also going to be talking about content, the content creation process and kind of the growth of content creation within the logistics industry as a whole, which has been super fascinating to watch over the last few years. So, Kevin, welcome into the show.

Kevin Lawton: 4:49:24

Yes, blythe, happy to be on the show and happy to finally connect with you too. I've been going back and forth for a while and I feel like I know you very well from listening to your show, so it's great to be a guest on and definitely happy to be on, I guess the other side of the mic here a little bit too as well we could say Heck yeah, is this your first like other side of the coin interview? No, no, I've done a couple other ones, but I've just kind of started trying to do that in the past year or so as, like, I've kind of figured out my podcast and got it in a bit of a system and now, like you know, trying to get on other people's podcast, and especially more too, as, like, more and more podcasts in our space have been coming out as well, like there's been more opportunity to do that, I think.

Blythe Brumleve: 4:50:17

Yeah, you definitely coming in with the branded merch here. For those who are just listening, you got the new warehouse shirt on and then you also have a really cool sign in the background. It looks like it was made out of, like metal works or something.

Kevin Lawton: 4:50:31

Yeah, actually that's part of our booth that we take to conferences. It's like a sign, and here in New Jersey there's a local artist that made the whole booth for me and he did that. It is metal off of which has been like plasma cut and and then he built this sign kind of behind that to be a palette-esque. I guess we could call it yes, or palette chic. Maybe We'll throw that out there.

Blythe Brumleve: 4:51:00

No, that's definitely keeping it on brand for sure, because I mean I noticed the metal part, but I didn't notice the palette part until you just mentioned it. So yeah, very an industrial chic.

Kevin Lawton: 4:51:11

Yes, definitely a little subtle palette hint there.

Blythe Brumleve: 4:51:15

I'll say Now for folks who may not have listened to your show. I think your show is fantastic. It's one of that's made it into my regular rotation, especially when it comes to logistics industry podcasts. But for folks who may not be aware of, like you, your origin story, give us a sense of how you got into the logistics industry as a whole.

Kevin Lawton: 4:51:37

Sure, definitely. I mean I think, like most people, I found my way into logistics industry not on purpose. I didn't, like you know, grow up or anything trying to, you know, pack boxes or anything like that. I wasn't doing that on the playground pretending that I was in the warehouse or anything. I went to school for entrepreneurial studies and then, yeah, I didn't really know what I wanted to do. I knew at one point I wanted to have my own business, but then I graduated and you know I needed a job, I needed to work. So through somebody I knew there was a temp position as a inventory control specialist at a book publisher here in New Jersey at their distribution facility. So I took that role quickly, got offered a full-time position, so really started in the inventory control arena of logistics and warehousing and then kind of enjoyed that, took to that like with the numbers and everything, and then, you know, spending time kind of really harnessing and developing my Excel skills and working in Microsoft Access kind of data mining and then translating that into the physical processes of the warehouse itself too. So I spent some time there and then moved on to another company where I got more involved in the warehouse operations side and then eventually became warehouse operations manager, inventory control manager, plant manager for a while as well, but somewhere along the line. Because at first I was like this isn't my career, right, this isn't my career, I'm going to do something else. I'm going to do something else in the back of my head. And then at some point I was like, let me embrace this a little bit, right? So then I went and I was like, how do I learn more about this industry? And I was. I guess I'm like my late 20s at that point. So you know, I was looking for something interesting. I think this was like 2017, 2018, like that I could digest. And I had been like very into blogs when I was younger. I was big into like sneaker collecting in high school, early college, so all the information I would get from blogs and things like that. So my first thought is like, let me find some cool blogs that are talking about warehousing and logistics right. At that time it's pretty much non-existent, right? It was like you take like an old trade publication and just regurgitated online and in digital form and I was like, oh, this isn't like not interesting, like I'm not getting much enjoyment out of trying to find this so funny enough. Like I had a friend, a college roommate, who was working for a company called AutoBlog which was, I think I think, a Yahoo company or something like a blog. They ran about cars and things like that and he was doing part of their social media stuff. And I was looking at that and thinking like oh, how come there is like not something like this for industry side, like how do we take this kind of idea and make some interesting content around that side of things? So my initial thought was I'll start a blog about warehousing and I quickly realized like I don't have time to sit down and write and then edit and figure out the distribution. And I was working full time as an operations manager and we had just started a new facility and we were putting all this automation in. It was like super long days trying to get everything up and running and fix issues from the go live. So I was like I don't have time for this. And me and my boss who actually we worked together for a long time and he's actually he's guest on episode two of the podcast, actually he brought me along with him for like three different jobs, actually, three different companies. So we had a very good relationship and I had been talking to him about this idea. He's the one that was like, why don't you do a podcast? Like I hear podcasts are getting big right, and they're taking off and all these things. This was like, I guess, like late 2018. So I thought about him like, hmm, okay, like that could be easier. Right, I sit down talking to a microphone instead of having to sit down and write and then edit to like I don't have to edit too much with the podcast, right? So, so, yeah, so I decided to try it. And then in 2019, that's when we we launched the first episode, the new warehouse podcast, and it's kind of just taken off from there. But yeah, my background is very much rooted in what I talk about on the podcast warehousing.

Blythe Brumleve: 4:56:28

So so how long did it, did it take you to go from the idea being suggested to you to the first episode being launched?

Kevin Lawton: 4:56:39

I think it was a couple months, I would say so I guess part of my background too is that I was working part time in real estate as well and through that at my alma mater, rider University, there was an opportunity there to do a real estate radio show. So I had done that in the past. So I had some like experience on the mic right. But none of the behind the scenes thing there was, like student producers like I would you know, roll in for an hour once a week, do my thing, student producer, take care of everything.

Blythe Brumleve: 4:57:21

Oh, that's the best.

Kevin Lawton: 4:57:22

Yeah so. So I had like that experience on the mic and, to be honest with you, like you know, very comfortable now speaking on the mic, you know, networking with people, going to conferences and all this stuff. But prior to that I was not very good at that Like I would be, you know, very kind of anxious in group settings or networking opportunities. Trying to talk to people and doing that original radio show was a way for me to step outside of my comfort zone and push me to that, Because I thought, like, like I talked to the microphone, it's not really like I'm talking to people, but I am in a way, I guess. So I built up my comfort level through that. So then, yeah, so then it took me a couple of months to kind of you know, I guess, convince myself that I do want to do the podcast. I guess, like you know, is this a project I want to take on. And so I figured it out and I got like a mic and then, you know, I tried to figure all the tech side of it which, like I say, like I'm not very good at that audio tech and everything like that. So I ended up, luckily, I needed like a quiet space to record in. And at the time my son was like I want to say he was 2019. So he was like five, six, so he really didn't understand that. Like hey, dad's in the basement like can't be, like running around upstairs because he's trying to record something. He didn't get it. So I'm like I need a quiet space. So I found a co-working space locally and it just so happened when I was registering for the co-working space, the manager there was like oh, you shouldn't meet this guy. He does podcasts too. So I met him and he kind of really showed me how to do everything he set me up with like how to create an RSS feed and, you know, come up with all the distribution, and he had like his own kind of independent hosting platform at the time. So I went through him initially and he kind of really showed me all the ropes and all that stuff and that kind of. That kind of made it a little easier for me. And then, yeah, and then from there it was kind of I guess it just kept going and going and going. And you know, here we are like four years later, 400 plus episodes later, and it's been a pretty wild ride. I never thought like it would go this far, but it keeps going.

Blythe Brumleve: 4:59:51

So is it like I don't want to say because I call myself like a full time podcaster now but it doesn't take up. I guess traditional, like full time, you know, a traditional like eight to five, you know Monday through Friday, it's a lot of weekends, it's a lot of nights, it's varying hours, it's a lot of travel to conferences is are you managing like other roles because I know that you're also a professor too, right? So are you managing those roles on top of the podcast as well?

Kevin Lawton: 5:00:25

Yes, yeah. So for the first three years of the podcast, like I was still working the nine to five as a warehouse manager and then, like I would be done at like four o'clock and I would like bolt home and record like like a podcast at like four, 30, five o'clock and I would do that maybe like three, three or four nights a week to do that, and then I would, you know, spend time, family time, do whatever I needed to do and then, like you said, late nights, like stay up trying to get things together, do the blog post that goes with the episode. And I did find actually a student was able to hire, initially as an intern. He was able to get credits to do like the audio production editing for me and actually he still still works for me now like as a contractor all this time and he does all the editing and everything for the audio, and so that that was helpful, definitely kind of like delegating that piece, because I I tried in the beginning to figure out the audio editing and I was just like this is not for me, like I don't have the patience for this and and I'm a pretty patient guy but I was like you know, this is not lining up with this and like I got to get somebody to do this for me. So so, yeah, for a very long time I was managing that, and then I started teaching as well. So I was managing that additionally, but then, as of last year in March, I went full time with the new warehouse. So I do the podcast through the new warehouse. I do teach as well, as you mentioned, as an adjunct professor. I teach one one course in person, one virtually, but actually this semester I'll be teaching to one person, one virtually at Ryder University supply chain courses. And yeah, and then we also, at the same time that I went, left my I guess, corporate gig, you could say and and went full time like entrepreneur. We also launched a fulfillment center under the new warehouse brand too, as well. So, yeah, so it's managing all of that at the same time. So, yeah, it's like it's like a nonstop kind of thing, but it's, it's all over the place. I mean it's, it's organized in a way. Whatever you could say is like organized chaos a little bit from time to time. Yeah, that's logistics in a nutshell, I think yeah yeah, I mean it's very, very similar to the actuality of what we're talking about.

Blythe Brumleve: 5:03:10

Yeah, so, you, you, the podcast is called the new warehouse. Why that? Why new in the name.

Kevin Lawton: 5:03:19

Sure. So, yeah, it's pretty interesting because I was trying to figure out what do I call this, right? And and I was starting to look around more in the industry, and I think one thing to do at that I quickly realized when I was getting this started is that you know a lot of people. They work for the same company for a long time, you know multiple years, and they only get necessarily exposure to the technology and things that are happening that their company is interested in or willing to invest in, right? So so I started seeing like, oh, there's a lot more technology happening in our space, and I really even realized that it's just someone that was working in the space, right? So so I started to think like, oh, I kind of want to highlight more of that. So it was the idea I think in the first we're talking about like the modern, modern warehouse or something like that. And and then I think one of my friends was like, well, what about like new warehouse or something like that? And so it's really the idea of like what does that new warehouse look like? What does the you know, what's the newest thing that's coming out, and and how is technology playing a role within the warehouse environment. So it's really that, that newness of the tech around that and kind of what's happening within the space.

Blythe Brumleve: 5:04:46

And so, as you're, you know you're, you're talking about, you know, launching this show, or you're not launching the show, but you've launched it in 2019. And now you're at a point where it is a full time focus for you. So what does sort of, I guess, your cadence look like? Or a typical work week look like you said that you're, you're teaching classes, you know, two in person, one virtually, but how do you fit in, like, the podcast, in between all of that? Like, what does a typical work week look like for you, if that exists?

Kevin Lawton: 5:05:20

Yeah, typical. It's funny, I do have a virtual assistant that helps me now that I've hired this year, and we actually had a meeting yesterday talking about this. Because she's like you need to like, you need to like get a schedule, like going, because you're just like taking meetings left and right and then you're here and then you're there. It's like you need to kind of say like, okay, these are my meetings.

Blythe Brumleve: 5:05:45

The VA is having an intervention.

Kevin Lawton: 5:05:47

Yeah, yeah, and I told her too, I'm like, I'm like, yeah, you need to just like take the calendar over and this is like this is out for me. But no, I mean it is like a lot of bouncing around. But what I've been able to figure out and why I've been able to take on like additional projects, like the teaching and like the fulfillment business as well, is because over time kind of take, you know, from very into and still very into standardization within operations and warehousing and standard work. And I actually maybe this makes me like crazy nerd but actually really like creating standard works and standard operating procedures. So I kind of, at some point, it kind of like clicked. I'm like, well, why don't I, you know, take that kind of systemization and systematic kind of belief and apply it to the podcast too? Right, like why don't I these things that I'm doing, you know, repetitively? Like why don't I just figure out? Okay, like if I'm doing this all the time, like let me create either, like you know, a document that I can use every time. And you know how do I organize this in that way? So it's like the same steps, same processes every time. So I've been able to do that, and then also leaving the nine to five, typical nine to five job, that's also allowed me to have these kind of batch recording sessions. So for me, when I do podcast, typically, like I will take one or two days a month and on those two days all I will do is just record episodes. So so I'll schedule people sometimes two or three months in advance with them, and then that day, like I'll do five or six episodes in one day, like I just I just sit right here all day and that's it. And then, like I'm good for a while because we do, we do an episode every Monday and Wednesday, so that covers me for a while. So, like, so as of right now, recording this like in the beginning of August, like I'm good through pretty much the end of October right now. So, wow. So I learned at one point because there was too many times I was scrambling like last minute trying to hit like the release schedule, like it was like like if you go like way back in the library like there's pretty much every episode I have, there's a guest, I think, maybe there's four, that is just me solo, and those were like we were releasing episodes in the beginning just on Mondays and that was those are like recorded. Probably I like midnight on Sunday, like like or I need an episode, so like let me just come up with something and just improv here. So so yeah, I learned that like I don't like the scramble part, so I'm like how do I address that? And that's really where that kind of batch recording idea came from. So I do that and then like a weekly cadence. I mean I have been able to kind of hire some contractors and have like a small team as well. That helped me out. So I have somebody, so kind of the things that I was seeing that were time consuming and unnecessarily. The most enjoyable part I mean the most enjoyable part for me is talking to the people, right, I mean that's what I like to do. I like to have the conversation and learn within the podcast. So so, like the writing of the blog post, like I have someone that does that for me. Now the audio production I mentioned, I have something that does that, and then my VA, she kind of coordinates all that and does the project management side of that. So that's really helped to kind of, you know, thin out my days a little bit. But I still, you know, like on Sunday, sunday night, usually before we released the episode on Monday, like I'm going through and I'm reading the blog post, making some tweaks here and there, and then same thing Tuesday before the Wednesday episode, and then really now for the podcast side, there's more focus on we started a video series on Fridays. So it's more focus on trying to figure out how to get that more, which we've been pretty good at having it almost every Friday, just trying to build up that content and get that going and get that to a point where it's something in addition to the audio podcast that people are interested in. So my typical week, aside from the podcasting stuff, like I'm in and out of our warehouse, helping out there picking, packing orders, especially the summer and summer is good. I'm not teaching in the summer, so I have a little extra time. But past couple of weeks has been crazy because we just moved into a new warehouse actually ironically there, but so that's been a little crazy moving from the old space and getting that up and running. But yeah, typically like I'll either set up meetings like in the morning and then I'll pop into the warehouse for a couple hours and maybe might do some meetings from there, might be on the floor picking and packing, doing some process improvement and then, yeah, and then really the podcast is kind of almost on I wouldn't say fully autopilot, but it is at a point where it's very systematic in that process. So there is like more time now where we're focusing on trying to see what other opportunities are there for the podcast in terms of working with companies, whether it's sponsorship or figuring out how do we do something creative by getting on site with them and really kind of showcasing a little more through video. So there's more focus on like building in different ways than like actually kind of getting that audio podcast done, like because it is at the point now it's like I sit down and do the conversation and then upload the file and you know, the team takes it away basically. So I don't know if that really gives any idea into what my week looks like, but that's kind of like the balance in between everything and then, and then when I'm teaching, I teach on Monday and Wednesday. So I kind of focus like Monday before teaching like I'll be in the warehouse because I'm you know, I have like half a day, so I'm like, oh, let me spend time there Wednesday, the same thing. And then, yeah, then I go and teach and and figure out the rest in between.

Blythe Brumleve: 5:12:36

Do you find that you're, since you know COVID and like sort of I guess general supply chain awareness has increased since, especially since that you know the Ever Given got stuck in the Suez Canal? Do you find that, like your students are more interested in just supply chain in general?

Kevin Lawton: 5:12:54

Yeah, I think absolutely. It's interesting because the one class that I've been teaching and the second class I'm going to be teaching this semester is new to me to teach, but the one that I've been teaching is a mix of it's a supply chain focus course, but it's a mix of regular business students and supply chain majors. So it's been interesting to see and I started 2021 was my first semester, so like, right, it was the first semester that they were back in person actually. So it is interesting to see over those couple semesters, like how the regular business students, their awareness has certainly, I think, increased in supply chain and also, you know, some of the things that they're they're interested in knowing about. Like there's, you know, in the beginning, like it was kind of like oh, do you guys know that? You know we use robots and automation and all these things and in supply chain, and you know it was like not that awareness. And now it's people are like, oh, are we gonna, you know, learn anything about robots or automation in this class? Right, so it was definitely like more awareness, I think, overall and even like, even I say like just in general, like people, like in the general public too, like I think there's just more, more awareness to like when I started the podcast and telling friends and family, they're like, you're gonna do a podcast about what? Like listen to that, right. And now they're like. Now they're like, oh, like my, like my friends from college they were group chat and like when some of that stuff was happening they're like. They're like, oh, what are you going to do about this? Like I didn't cause the problem, right. Yeah, but certainly certainly an increased awareness around that. And I think we're seeing to like as a supply chain department at the university, like more interest in incoming freshmen wanting to pick that as a major, whereas previously it was like business majors were switching over sophomore and junior year because they chose to take intro to supply chain as like an elective or something like that.

Blythe Brumleve: 5:15:10

Yeah, that's super interesting and it's been awesome watching just the growth of, like, I guess, sort of the younger millennial, like Gen Z, interest in supply chain because even like posting like certain content to TikTok it like retail majors I did a story on like the logistics of lipstick and the retail majors that were watching that video and then sharing it with their colleagues, just they didn't have any idea about that side of the process and so I think it's just it's one of those things that you don't realize. It's almost like the CIA where you don't realize you know it's a route, supply chain is around until something messes up.

Kevin Lawton: 5:15:50

Yeah, yeah, definitely. I mean I think it's, it's pretty wild. I mean, you see, I'm not I haven't ventured into the TikTok side yet but you should, robotics would kill it on there. Yeah, I mean, I've been thinking, we've been trying to, we've been like really focused in on LinkedIn and we're just now kind of looking at like how do we because we've been getting like more video content now so now we're trying to see like, okay, how do we like disseminate that in different ways, whether it's, you know, instagram reels or or TikTok potentially. But, yeah, but like, even personally, like I'm not on TikTok either, so I'm like very like not familiar with it, but yeah, I mean, it's pretty wild to see that and how some of these things that are involved in our space are getting picked up like from a I guess you could say a mainstream perspective as well. I think it's pretty fascinating, like even like Corey Connors right, like he's has like a big TikTok thing going on around. Yeah, I think he's got on there and like, yeah, I mean it's crazy, like who would think that you know some like packaging stuff? Would just like catch someone much attention and blow up. But it's pretty fascinating, like what the newer generations are like really interested in. It's pretty, pretty amazing, I think.

Blythe Brumleve: 5:17:10

So when you're thinking about, I guess, the, I guess from the lens of a warehouse operator, what does the state of warehousing sort of look like right now? Is it a lot like trucking, where you have some companies who are, you know, diving headfirst into technology and then other companies are just resisting? Is it similar, or is it safe to say that that's kind of happening in warehousing too?

Kevin Lawton: 5:17:37

Oh yeah, I would say it's very similar because I think you know warehousing for a long time and traditionally, like when you look at the small to medium size warehouse company, small to medium size shipper, you know that's very traditional, in a sense you could say, and pretty old school. Like you know, they've been around for a long time and they've always done things this way, which is, you know a terrible phrase to say. I will say that directly to the camera, but you know, I think it's like you know well, you know we've been running our business this way for, you know, 20 years. Like you know, why do we need to bring in robots? Or why do we need to bring in automation? Or, you know, systems, or like, why do we even need to get rid of our spreadsheets and get a WMS or something like that? Right, I think it's. It definitely is that contrast, but definitely, you see, like tons of companies that are diving in, like you said, headfirst into the automation and robotics. But I think we are at sort of a pivot, a little bit, where these small and medium size businesses are starting to look and say like hey, like I think I do need to figure this out and I do need to put this in my roadmap and I think part of that, too is if you look at some of the barriers of entry. You know, in the past couple of years, it was certainly like huge operational, huge capex investments in that, which the robotics companies, I think, have taken notice certainly, and they've, you know, moved to more pricing models that are like robotics as a service, which is essentially like leasing the robot, or even some companies are now doing like pay per pick and all these different things. So so I think, like those are pushing people more towards that. And I think, even if you look at some of the conferences too, I mean, you know, the first conference I went to was 2019, shortly after I started the podcast, actually, and there was like a couple of companies with robots. And now, like I went to ProMat this year in March and yeah, it was like Every other booth, if not every booth, had like some kind of robot in it. So it's like you can't escape it. But I think that, yeah, I think definitely there's that pivot happening and I think a lot of it too is because more of the, I think at first like there was a little friction contrast because, like the robotics, high-tech side of the warehousing industry was like coming from like Startup, you know Silicon Valley type right, who, who maybe necessarily had the idea for the tech but then found the practical application within our world the warehousing world, logistics world but never really spent time in a warehouse or had that kind of background. But now you're seeing where like that's being embraced and and they're really starting to understand like okay, how do these really apply in here and how can they work for these shippers to start to implement them and, and you know, augment their facilities to to be ready for, like, the future?

Blythe Brumleve: 5:21:00

Yeah, I think you made a great point about sort of the, the conference landscape and how robotics has kind of just taken over. Because, you know, I got my start in freight working at an asset-based trucking company, so I didn't even really know about the maritime Silo or the warehousing silo or the intermodal silo, and using this podcast is kind of like a way for me to Explore though those different silos and how they're all interconnected into logistics and just sort of the greater you know overall supply chain. But I wasn't. I didn't know, I guess, the, the coolness factor of robotics until I went to the first manifest conference and Out in Vegas where they had a true sort of expo floor where you could see these demos you could see wrote, you know robotics with like the, the picking and the packing and the sorting and you know, I think even you know at this year's conference they had spot, you know, from Boston Dynamics. You know, even though I don't know that they have really anything to do with like warehousing or you know traditional warehouse robotics, but it was just cool to see that growth of that sector and part of, I think Maybe why the sector hasn't grown faster than it should. It's definitely reasons that that you just listed. But I also think, from like a psychological level, like I've heard of like a six river systems, that they host regular webinars. It's a warehouse robotics company and they were talking about how part of their onboarding Includes that the psychological component of Training the employees to look at the robots as helpers and not someone that's going to take their jobs. Do you see that as still like that psychological barrier still existing, or do you see it kind of you know that that's a worry of kind of yesterday?

Kevin Lawton: 5:22:51

Yeah, absolutely. I mean I think that, like you said, like the, the robots that grab your attention and you know they're very cool Definitely, and it's cool to be, I think, working in industry that's able to see that kind of technology and a practical application. But certainly there is that huge Change management aspect to it and I think that's a very, very important thing To be focused on as an operator that's going to be Bringing in robotics and automation and being able to explain that to the employees. Because I'll say from my experience and actually the in the position that I left to go, you know, full entrepreneur mode, we were looking at some robotics to bring in and we had brought one in Just as a demo and like, almost immediately, like one guy on the forklift drove up and he's like, oh, you're bringing in that thing to take my job right, like right away, and this was, you know, this was only a year or so ago. So so I mean, I think there's still definitely that skepticism, but I think, from the point of view of like a leadership level, I think the skepticism is gone in that aspect, but I think it is the employee that's on the floor doing that day-to-day work that a robot or automation solution is going to Either like, augment their job in some way or change what their job looks like. That is Skeptical, but it's really, really important to, as you develop that plan, to bring that in, include change management within that. Like, how are you going to explain to your employees why you're doing this right? And the reality is that you know, I think, if we look at it, there's very few, I think, cases where you know they're completely like taking people out of the warehouse, right. It's more in the sense of you know they're making people more productive because it's a Assisting them with travel time or the pick time. It's taking away repetitive tasks, things that you know traditionally people don't even really want to do anyway. So you know it's really important to come in and explain that before you just, you know, just plop a robot on the floor. And say in a way where we're working right, because then you're gonna you're gonna give met with some some friction, definitely, because people are gonna, you know, be thinking like like, once this thing is up and running, like am I Out of here in like a month, or something like that, which I think is, you know, pretty most of the times, not, not the case. But it is important to set that precedent and explain, you know, why are we going this route, like, why are we starting to use these different types of tools that? You know, maybe change what you do a little differently.

Blythe Brumleve: 5:25:49

With all the conversations that you've had on your show and then also from the experience of managing a warehouse, what do you think sort of the next, what maybe the next five years? Or maybe the ideal relationship between you know, automation and AI and a warehouse worker? What does that sort of perfect marriage look like?

Kevin Lawton: 5:26:11

Perfect marriage. Well, the Disney warehouse look like the Disney warehouse there's lots of fairy dust and so, yeah, I mean the I think the perfect marriage. There is really where you're figuring out how to Kind of get your, your core team In there, like your top performers, and then how do you make their job better, right? And then how do you also you mentioned AI in there Like, how do you also, you know, make better decisions faster, right? So so you're bringing the robotics in to help, you know, replace those jobs and tasks that, like I said, people you don't really like doing anyway, you know, I think that the industry says the dull, dirty and dangerous, right? Is, you know, getting rid of those types of tasks and allowing them to kind of elevate a little bit in their role. And I think, you know, we see, over the past couple years, there's there's so much discussion about, you know, shortage of labor, you know, getting people to even want to work in warehouses, right. So, and I think that's we're gonna become, you know, even bigger and bigger because there's more opportunities out there, there's different types of flexibility that people can have, and, you know, going to, you know, stand on a concrete floor and then pick or pack orders all day long is, you know, becoming less and less appealing, right? So, so that you have your top performers and you know if you have them Understanding the robotics or the automation that you've put in place, and how they can work with that and become, you know, you know, however, much more productive. I think that you're seeing probably a leaner team With that and a team that you know sees the value in there and really enjoys that work, augmenting their jobs so that they feel more comfortable in the workplace right in there, you know, not working or not walking miles and miles a day within a warehouse, just doing so many steps through, picking or whatever tasks they're doing, and I think that's kind of where the robotics comes into play there. And then on the other side, kind of the back end, that AI, where AI comes into this, this marriage here, as you mentioned, you know, ai kind of comes into play, I think, to really be able to make those decisions about what's happening in the operation In a much faster way, in a much proactive way. Right, I think that you know, and being a warehouse manager, you know you can Be like running around like crazy, like you know, it's just like you have these days where it just seems like everything that wants to go wrong goes wrong, right, like you know, maybe you have, you know, an issue with an employee, or you know maybe the system goes down, or you know somebody drops a pallet and off the forklift, you know it. Just you know random things can happen. So, so, getting time to to sit down and, you know, look at data and make database decisions Uh, oftentimes, like that gets pushed and it gets pushed and it gets pushed. It's like, oh, this is a project like so you know I can look at it, like tomorrow, yeah, and then it's like tomorrow, and then all of a sudden it's, you know, four or five weeks later and you know you still haven't looked at it. But if you had the time to do that, like you could have made a decision that you know for those four or five weeks could have Potentially dramatically impacted your operation in a positive way. And that's where I think ai is going to come into play to be able to give that kind of warehouse manager, supervisor More power, to be able to harness data and understand that, because I think too, in my experience, um, you know, a lot of times there's not that data analysis background for for a warehouse supervisor or a warehouse manager either. Um, and you know I've managed supervisors and managers, managers that are like, oh, like, I hate data or I hate excel, like, don't show me excel. You know it's like, and I think, like you know, in that sense, like I mean I do like excel and I do like data. You know I'm totally having myself as a nerd here on this podcast with you but, um, yeah, it's, uh, yeah, I mean you have that balance and and I think it takes away like all of that because it takes time to do that data analysis. But with ai, I mean you can do it Incredibly quickly and you can even get to like, what is that decision point? And I think more and more companies like wms companies are putting that into play and figuring out other ways to to do things with ai. So being able to kind of make those decisions quicker, um, to also then benefit the employee. I think like that's where you get that win-win, where you know the employee themselves the worker on the floor is is happier because you know they're, the job is becoming less strenuous, they're getting more productive, so you know they feel better about themselves and then also the management is able to make Better decisions faster to also continue to make that work environment better for them and and be more efficient in the operation. I think that's kind of like where when that perfect marriage aligns in the the next five years, as you mentioned so it kind of sounds like with introducing ai automation Robotics into warehousing.

Blythe Brumleve: 5:31:30

It sounds pretty similar to almost the I guess the light bulb moments and the the fearful moments it's happening with ai and, like content and writing and marketing it, it feels very similar where folks are feeling stressed out that they're going to lose their jobs, but it in a lot of ways ai is I mean Anecdotally is definitely helping me do my job faster on the content creation side of things. Uh, it is that a fair comparison where it's almost like the the same Psychological things that are going on with robotics and automation and warehousing is the same thing that's going on with ai and content writers and just creatives in general.

Kevin Lawton: 5:32:10

Yeah, I would say so because I think, um, you know, even if I look back, when I started the podcast and started initially learning about this robotics automation side and Very much the conversation was, you know, going to the dark warehouse right where, like you know, there's maybe only a handful of people within the warehouse and Is that what it's called a dark warehouse? Yeah, yeah, like lights out warehouse, basically right, like you don't need to have the lights on because nobody no people are in there actually. So I mean that was like A lot of the conversation in the beginning, but I think, like that idea of the lights out dark warehouse is pretty much. I mean, it's still there. There's still companies that are like pushing towards that and working towards that um, but that overall narrative and conversation has kind of, uh, died down a lot and it's more on the Collaborative side, right, like you know, you look at um, like locust robotics probably the biggest one or six river you know they're, uh, notably known for having what they call a collaborative robot, where you know the robot is collaborating with the human to be able to To move things, um, and take away some of those, the travel time and and do things like that. Um, that the human, you know, essentially was kind of wasting time doing right where they could be, you know, grabbing items or doing something where you know they need to think um, so, so, yeah, I mean I think that it is similar in that regard where you know, a couple years ago, uh, when you're seeing robots, people like we're like, oh, this is gonna take my job and stuff like that. But I think that conversation has certainly Uh, died down. I mean, obviously, I think there's still some skepticism out there, as I said before. But yeah, I mean I think it is very, very similar to that as, like you see more and more applications of Collaborative efforts where people are realizing like, oh, okay, like this is how they can help my operation, um, get better, without you know going in a totally kind of I don't know dystopian route or anything like that, and you know going like full lights out and you know like kicking people out and all those types of things.

Blythe Brumleve: 5:34:22

So so, yeah, I mean I think there is definitely some, some parallels there in terms of the overall kind of, uh, cultural reaction I guess you could say and so when I I guess for a lot of of warehouses it's very much maybe like a a strong mix between those who have adopted, you know, new technology For for warehouses in general, what is the table stakes? Is it just a wms? And I say just you know kind of hyperbolic here, um, just because of the wms is can be just so intricate, but is that sort of the only table stakes that exists in warehousing? Or is there other software that you kind of you can't just like jump into? You know buying a warehouse and you know opening one up, or is it that easy?

Kevin Lawton: 5:35:11

Uh, you could I wouldn't advise it but I I mean, believe it or not, there's still. There are still operations out there that just kind of strictly run out of excel, um, and you know, just utilize spreadsheets and and for Some operations I I would say that you know, while I don't think it's a smart thing to do, because it is certainly opening yourself up to some risk, and you know, data loss and and errors and things like that, but I mean, for some operations, I mean it's, it's straightforward enough where you could easily manage it in a spreadsheet. Like we had One company I worked for, we. We subleased for the summer, we subleased like part of our warehouse to Uh, a water company, and I think they had like three SKUs and they loaded it up twice and moved it out twice. And you know you don't really need a wms to do that, like you, you can do that through a spreadsheet. So might I tell you what the ship, when the ship it, and you know you just pull that stuff. But but more and more, I think the operations that we're we're seeing, especially as we have, you know, more e-commerce coming into play, more omni channel fulfillment Uh, you definitely need to have that foundational software to help make that run and manage that Um. And and yeah, I mean certainly the wms is, it's kind of the the starting point for that Um, and then I think it starts to branch out. I mean, there's, there's a lot from a tech standpoint that you can do Before you get to the point of getting a robot like and you should do too, like you um. I think one of my, one of my favorite quotes from um my podcast, was from um, like, like field of uh, you see, of uh raven corporations, big forklift, uh company and and he said that you need to, you need to optimize before you automate. Basically right, so and basically uh. He said that uh, I don't remember the quote verbatim was a long time ago, but uh, he, he basically said that like, if you're taking a process that you're doing and the process is not optimized yet and it's not a great process yet, and then you go to automate it like you're just automating a bad process, like you're not really going to get the results you're expecting from automation, so so there's a lot of steps in between there. But uh, yeah, definitely that foundational component is is the wms, um and you need to understand, like, what are the capabilities of that wms and how can that wms grow and expand with you? So you see, now there's a lot of uh, cloud-based wms is um, um, where you can add different components to the wms as you need them, right? So, uh, like, one of the big ones is um Manhattan, and I was just at their user conference, uh, a couple of months ago and, and you know they've since, since, since moved to to cloud um within the past couple years cloud-based system and and they have multiple components. So like to have like the core wms but then you can just turn on certain aspects of the wms because it's cloud-based, and then, if you get bigger, then, like, you can also Tie in their tms component and you can also tie in their yms component, um, they have the lms component too as well and you, as you start to grow, like you can scale through that Um and there's and there's multiple others too that are doing similar things. But that definitely is like that core foundation, like get that wms in there, um, and then understand what can you do from there, because if you Just get a warehouse and you're like I'm gonna put some robots on the floor, like you know, the robots also need to like communicate with something which is that, which is that system, and then you'd understand like when are the orders and you know where do I go for the orders and and your wms is kind of going to guide that. And some robotics companies have like built in Uh, wms is as well or or um, different types of systems that will navigate that Um. But just starting out like, yeah, you certainly need to to get some kind of foundational system in place.

Blythe Brumleve: 5:39:19

What does that? If someone says like, oh, I want to add I'm sure it's a much more um, complicated or intricate Conversation than I just you know, I want, I want to add robots to my warehouse what does that? I guess, uh, what does the cost look like for something like that?

Kevin Lawton: 5:39:34

Oh, the cost. I think that's hard to say because the cost is, I would say, all over the place, um like this really depends on your operation. Yeah, I mean, it depends on your operation, it depends on what Uh process you want to use robots for. Um. So, like you know, if you look at like a picking process, like I think, well, first I think like palette movement, you know, just moving palettes from like point a to point b, um was really kind of like that initial thing that got perfected, I would say Um. And then picking was really kind of the big next focus and I think that you know companies have kind of perfected what does that look like? Um? So like those ones that have been around for a while, like you're probably going to be Easier to to enter on those right from a cost perspective, um. But then like some of the newer automation robotics that are coming out, like Um. At pro-mat, one of the big things was that there was multiple companies for the first time showing Truck unloading robots Um, where they're unloading cartons from from either floor loaded containers or floor loaded trailers, um, which has been always like a very challenging task, um, I would argue one of the One of the worst tasks to do in the warehouse is unload a floor loaded container from overseas. It's just a night america. They stuff it like to the brim to maximize the cube. And you know, especially like, if it's the winter of the summer, it's like hot in the container, it's cold in the container, um, you know, I don't don't envy those guys that have to do that. So, very long overdue automated, I will say that's not bar there. But um, yeah, the. I think it depends on where you're looking to automate, um and at what level. So, like you have when you would get, maybe like an auto store which is an asrs automated shuttle retrieval system, uh, where you know you could be talking hundreds of thousands of dollars, millions of dollars potentially, depending on how big you go, uh, whereas you know you're looking at, like uh, I mentioned locusts and you know they have a robot as a service model when you're paying just like a monthly fee on that robot and then you're able to Scale up and down depending on how many robots you need. So like, if you're going through peaks, like you could get an extra you know 20 robots in because you're gonna have more volume, and then, after peak is over, like you can send them back um, and those prices vary too as well. But, yeah, I mean, I think it's it's all across the board Um to be honest with like minimum, probably 500,000. Uh well, no, if you're looking at like the robots as a service type of model, um, I think, like some of them are are in the hundreds per month or low thousands per month for for one robot. But then you know you're limited to what can that robot do too. So I think, like really to Understand pricing, like you got a Pinpoint, like okay, what process do we want to focus on? And then figure out, like what are the companies we're going to go with and what are their pricing models, because they've Come up with so many different things, like even, like I mentioned, the auto store, like they you know it's pretty, uh pretty inaccessible for like a small shipper, medium sized shipper Maybe even to make that type of investment in an auto store. So they've actually come out with an offshoot company called po Um which uses the same technology, um, but the price structure is way different. Like you're not paying for this full-on build out Um and then they have like a paper pick model as well, um, which is pretty, pretty interesting Approach to it and it really lowers like that initial Cost of trying to get into it and then, as your business grows and you can essentially graduate from that to a full-on auto store system. So it's pretty, yeah, it's pretty interesting and it's definitely a wide range of uh pricing structures and numbers as well.

Blythe Brumleve: 5:43:46

And it sounds like, too, there there's more flexible options as well, because I just had somebody from um nimble on the podcast, jonathan Briggs, and he was talking about how they are just building their own warehouses, fully automatic, and if you want to try out you as a shipper, you want to try out automation you can just ship your products to them and they will do it for you in their warehouse, versus you getting the space and setting it up yourself and um. So I thought that that was a unique model too. It so it sounds like there's a bunch of different options Depending on the level of where in the commitments probably the real estate commitments that that you're already, maybe you have or maybe you don't want to get. Um, considering the market is so challenging, right?

Kevin Lawton: 5:44:32

now? Yeah, absolutely, and I think there's a lot of different models, like, like the one you mentioned. Um, but for the, the real estate perspective, I think one of the the interesting things about the automation and robotics too, is there's a big focus on like maximizing cube and space. Like, um, like, like the auto store I mentioned mentioning them a lot but, um, like they can fit like so much more products in like a square footage aspect versus like if you were going to take that same square footage and and and put racking in with palettes or or shelving or something like that. Like they can, it's pretty astounding like how much they could fit per square foot versus what you could fit in like a traditional rack or something like that. So oftentimes, like, even though maybe your process is okay, but you know you don't want to move to another Buildings or you need more space, like you might lean towards automation to be able to to maximize your cube better. So so some of the solutions are Not only focused on being more productive but also helping you with Utilizing your, your space in a in a better way and it kind of maximizing that.

Blythe Brumleve: 5:45:50

I hope you enjoyed this episode of everything is logistics, a podcast for the thinkers in freight, telling the stories behind how your favorite stuff and people get from point A to B. Subscribe to the show, sign up for our newsletter and follow our socials over at everything is logisticscom. And in addition to the podcast, I also wanted to let y'all know about another company I operate, and that's digital dispatch, where we help you build a better website. Now, a lot of the times, we hand this task of building a new website or refreshing a current one off to a co-worker's child, a neighbor down the street or a stranger around the world, where you probably spend more time Explaining the freight industry than it takes to actually build the dang website. Well, that doesn't happen at digital dispatch. We've been building online since 2009, but we're also early adopters of AI, automation and other website tactics that help your company to be a central place to pull in all of your social media posts, recruit new employees and give potential customers a glimpse into how you operate your business. Our new website builds start as low as $1,500, along with ongoing website management, maintenance and updates starting at $90 a month, plus some bonus, freight marketing and sales content similar to what you hear on the podcast. You can watch a quick explainer video over on digital dispatchio. Just check out the pricing page once you arrive and you can see how we can build your digital ecosystem on a strong foundation. Until then, I hope you enjoyed this episode. I'll see you all real soon and go Jags.

About the Author

Blythe Brumleve
Blythe Brumleve
Creative entrepreneur in freight. Founder of Digital Dispatch and host of Everything is Logistics. Co-Founder at Jax Podcasters Unite. Board member of Transportation Marketing and Sales Association. Freightwaves on-air personality. Annoying Jaguars fan. test

To read more about Blythe, check out her full bio here.