How This Freight Agent Uses Content Marketing
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This episode features Nathan Cheney, founder of Supply Chaney, discussing his experience in logistics, starting a freight agency, and creating educational YouTube content. He shares insights on improving supply chain processes, building company culture, marketing B2B content, and more. He also adds his thoughts on creating efficient content workflows and choosing the right metrics to focus on.




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Show Transcript

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Blythe Brumleve: 0:05

Welcome into another episode of Everything Is Logistics, a podcast for the thinkers in freight. We were proudly presented by SPI Logistics and I am your host, Blythe Brumleve. We've got a special guest for you today and that is Nathan Chaney. He is the founder of Supply Chaney and he's also dabbling in you know a few other different enterprises. I'm excited to talk all about those enterprises, your experience as a freight agent and also your experience as a content marketer in logistics, because, frankly, we need more folks creating content in logistics. So, with all that said, Nathan, welcome into the show.

Nathan Chaney: 0:41

Hey, thanks for having me. I'm excited to be here. I'm just kind of jealous that I didn't come up with the logistics as everything sort of moniker first, because I think it's genius.

Blythe Brumleve: 0:51

Thank you. It's also very easy to spell, which I think is very important when it comes to, you know, a show title. I've created shows in the past that didn't exactly have that, and it was a nightmare for trying to get people to visit. Okay, so I was just telling you before we started that I was listening to your interview with Chris Jolly, the freight coach, which is great because we're both, you know, partnered with SPI and you as well. So this is, you know, a great conversation you know within the SPI family, and one of the cool things that I learned about you during that conversation is that you're one of the rare people that went to school for supply chain and then stuck with it and, like, stayed in the industry. Typically, it's yeah, they just enter and they never go to school for it, or they go to school for it and then quickly just go to another industry once they start working in the trenches. So so tell us a little bit about that experience of going to school and then deciding to stay in the industry.

Nathan Chaney: 1:49

Cool. All right, I like that topic mostly because it's kind of fun. So I was originally thinking I want to be an engineer and then I realized that I wasn't so great at math in my earlier years and so I kind of went business route instead. And as I was finishing up my first two years of school on like a business administration degree, I realized that business administration was way too generic of a field, just felt like I wasn't going to be specialized enough. So you know, I kind of went to the head of the business department and I said, as I go into my junior and senior years, what should I consider doing? And you know this would have been in 2007 or so. And he and the answer was you should go look at logistics and specifically that school up there in Dallas at, you know, the University of North Texas, has a pretty good program. You should go check it out. So I went up there one weekend and you know my favorite color happened to be green. That was the color of the school and I just thought I liked playing with trucks and cars and the mud when I was little and, being typical sort of boy, that sounds like what logistics is to me. I'll do that. So it was about as scientific of an approach to kind of select what I would do for the rest of my life as that and I feel really really fortunate, to your point that it was something that resonated with me and kind of how I think and I've been able to continue staying and working in the field, you know, from college graduation all the way through to today, and you know it's treated me well, I've enjoyed it. There's an endless number of challenges and sort of avenues you can go down within the supply chain and logistics and operations and there's really just so much you can do and a lot of autonomy. And it's a new field. You know, in the bigger perspective, this idea of having a logistics degree wasn't something that people were getting, you know, 12 or 20 years ago and so now it's kind of become its own, it's broken away from the operations department into its own discipline. So I feel really fortunate, I guess, to answer your question that I've I picked the right thing and that I didn't bounce around. So it's allowed me to have continuous sort of progress and one sort of focus in my career.

Blythe Brumleve: 4:05

I think it too. It speaks to just for a lot of kids that go to college. They just pick a major and they have no idea if that major is going to be around for a while, and so that was really smart of your professor to recommend logistics to you at the time, because I you know, I think we as an industry need to be better at educating the younger folks about how just interesting this industry is. And you're pretty much going to always have a job because there's always going to need stuff needs to be moved. So talk to me about your, because you spent time after you graduated. You went to go work at a three PL, I believe, and then you also went to work for a shipper. So what was sort of the, I guess the what was the education versus working in those roles? Like, did you learn? Was it pretty much learning on the job or did you know a lot of this going into each of these roles?

Nathan Chaney: 4:59

Yeah, I would say that theory and practice are two pretty different things in the logistics curriculum and in the real world. So I had the opportunity to have two internships while I was in college, which was great, because I advocate that for everyone and one of the best pieces of advice that I got was to have multiple internships if possible. And it's like trying on shoes. You know you don't buy the first pair of shoes you try on. And so my first internship was in the three PL world. Actually, I was writing SOPs was kind of like. The first thing I did was, right, go visit all the departments and write SOPs for them. Turns out I'm still doing that today. That's still a big part of logistics and operations. And my second opportunity was with a shipper, with PepsiCo, and those were my two. First like formative experiences in the industry was at SEVA and at PepsiCo. And the interesting thing is at PepsiCo I was measuring the carbon footprint of the entire supply chain for PepsiCo, including all the different business units like Frito, lay and Tropicana and whatnot. And what I realized is that whenever I was at the three PL, I was needing to be responsive to the customers you know the people that are shippers. And when I went to go to PepsiCo, it was interesting to be that shipper, to be that customer, and whenever I called up a carrier and said, hey, I need information about your fleet, how many of these trucks you have, what your average miles per gallon is, what your carbon emissions are, man, yes, sir, I'll be right on that right away. Let me get that back to you as soon as I can. And it was such an interesting way to see the different, you know, sort of way of being. We're still doing logistics, but you're just on the customer side instead of the service provider side. And so at a young age I got to kind of experience that and I feel like that was amazing that, you know, for all the students out there or folks that are able to kind of be able to see what side of the fence maybe fits them best, it's a great opportunity. And so when I was graduating, that was 2008, when the you know, the economy was not doing great, and so I was kind of like there was hiring freeze there at PepsiCo, and so I had to kind of make a choice of do I stay an intern for an unlimited or, you know, kind of like indefinite amount of time or do I try to go find a full-time job. And so I was able to get a full-time job in 3PL and that kind of just set me on a path toward 3PL career. So a couple of different stops at a couple of different places move my way up to branch manager, you know, running, opening up new facilities, hiring up all the teams, getting new clients in the door, running, you know, from soup to nuts the entire operations, you know, still in my 20s, and that was really fun and awesome. And at a point I got an opportunity to go to the shipper side and that was Texas Instruments and I kind of wanted to relive, you know, looking back at it, relive kind of what I got to do as an intern, which is to kind of see both sides. And so while at TI I got to run, you know, the raw materials and spare parts facilities going into their fabs and a little bit after that I got to transition and manage their finished goods distribution center here in the US as well. So within that I actually had to see the raw materials going into the plants and manage all of that. And then I got to manage the outgoing finished goods going out to customers. So I feel even though it wasn't my plan, you know, coming out of school that I really got myself a lot of exposure to all aspects of the supply chain, from the service provider side, from the shipper side, from inputs into a factory to outputs out of a factory, kind of everything in between. So again, I don't think I could have accomplished this if I set out to do it on purpose, but I think accidentally, I've just kind of been able to be exposed to a lot of the parts of supply chain.

Blythe Brumleve: 8:52

How do you think your roles at Pepsi and and Texas Instruments have helped you become a better broker?

Nathan Chaney: 9:02

Well, having lived in those shoes and have you know inventory or freight that needs to get you know from a warehouse into a factory or from a factory to a customer or any of those sort of bits, but to be able to speak the same language and just be able to relate right is look, I know exactly how this feels and I think I've got the best solution that's going to. Maybe that you haven't even thought of the solution that can help solve this, but you know, because I've been in that seat as well and have had to solve for it before. Here's maybe some of the things I might have done, and so I think it kind of just helps to give a broader perspective and be able to have that client sort of perspective.

Blythe Brumleve: 9:43

So what was, I guess, the how did you decide that you wanted to become a freight agent? Like what was the jump from you know working at Texas Instruments to maybe you had you know some roles in between there, but what was ultimately sort of the catalyst that you wanted to become a freight agent?

Nathan Chaney: 9:59

It's a fun story. So at the last, I want to say, like kind of corporate job that I had, I, you know, left that position kind of not 100% knowing what I wanted to do next. But I knew I kind of wanted to be an entrepreneur of sorts. I've always had the itch, I've always had ideas kind of cooking in the back of my head and I felt like I was maybe at a right point in my career and life to be able to go do that. So I started kind of just thinking through it and I have a friend that actually has a freight agency and through Landstar and he's had it for 10 years and he's been really successful with it. And so I said, hey, can I just go do some business development kind of stuff for you and I'll go talk to people. I'm here in Dallas, he's like up in beautiful mountain country up in Colorado, and so you know, I can be that kind of boots on the ground where shippers are. I can see if I can come find you some business. So as I went through that process I realized that there were obstacles to bringing on clients under, you know, under that model, under that particular brand, and so when I came across some, you know. Also, what we haven't mentioned is throughout all these years I've been heavily engaged in all of the networking in the industry organizations and so I've got a pretty good network. And so I was going to all these folks and I had the opportunity to get business, but just not under that model, under that brand. And so that actually is what prompted me to say, well, if that's kind of what's holding me back, then I'll just, I guess I just need to go open up my own shop. And so I went and shopped around for different you know logistics companies that I could operate an agency under no-transcript. As I did that, I started to realize and started to be this freight broker, I started realizing that I actually want to help with all aspects of the supply chain, not just transportation. I've gotten to the point where I'm trying to morph into being a full supply chain services provider, with transportation being one of those tools in the tool belt. It's been a great experience working with SPI and that being my first, I'm glad I selected them and they approved me. I guess it doesn't sound like everyone gets automatically just accepted. That's great because it helps make sure that agency network is really strong. It's been a great experience and largely it was just the culture of the company. They're just really friendly people to work with. Then the TMS, the back-end office piece of it, is up to date. It's new and it's efficient. As an operator, I want that efficiency. Those are two of the big components that made me feel compelled to select SPI.

Blythe Brumleve: 12:56

I would imagine that those were maybe some of your questions of when you're shopping a freight agency. Is it really the back office and the tech that are the biggest concerns, or are there other concerns that you wanted to be sure of before you made the choice?

Nathan Chaney: 13:11

We all work for a living. At the end of the day, that commission split is also very important Very important. As much as we love what we do, at the end of the day we've got to put foot on the table. I felt like their policy and program around that was really fair. It was one of the best in the industry that I was, from what I was seeing in the shopping I was doing. It touched on all points the culture, the technology. At the end of the day, if you want to say the paycheck all those were the three main buckets that I was looking at In SPI. I checked all of them.

Blythe Brumleve: 13:50

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. I want a 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. And so it kind of sounds like you know, based on your experience, the networking capabilities and the network that you've built, and then also being a freight agent, it almost sounds like you're kind of morphing into not just a freight agent and I don't mean that like derogatory, of course, but it's almost like a supply chain agent, maybe as a fair assessment, that's 100% fair.

Nathan Chaney: 15:02

And you know, it was nine months ago, ten months ago maybe, that I had one of those light bulb moments that I realized that my last name is Cheney and that if I'm going to do this entrepreneur thing and it's going to be in the logistics space, then maybe supply chain would be a fun sort of name for it. Right, and so, taking that sort of as my sort of the mission and kind of the end goal of being supply chain oriented, it kind of just forces me to actually be pretty broad and try to kind of provide a lot of services that all kind of obviously fall within the supply chain space. Of course I have mentors that are saying, nathan, you need to specialize, you really need to focus. You can't be everything to everyone, but I'm like I really appreciate the mentorship, but it's in the name, it's supply chain. So of course I got to go try to boil the ocean a little bit, but that sounds like a fun challenge and I'm up for that. So I have been building relationships with a number of different providers throughout the supply chain that you need to run not only like a supply chain business, like a 3PL, but a supply chain logistics department within a shipper or a manufacturer or whatever it might be. And so I don't have all those expertises, but with my I'm going to say education and experience, I kind of understand how they all need to work together and kind of, at the end of the day, have a successful business, you know, that's profitable, that people want to work for. And so what I've found is that, even though I have a degree in logistics and that's what I've studied and that's what I've done I've started to morph toward a full kind of a whole hearted, all-encompassing business type of perspective, and I firmly believe that everything is logistics at the end of the day. And so I kind of see a lot of companies. Unless you're in insurance or finance advising or something like that, everything kind of to me focuses on the logistics of the business. So you've got inputs coming in, you're doing something to transform some materials or people, and then you've got an outbound product, and so I see everything through that lens, for good or for bad. But there's people, there's systems, there's technology, there's money that needs to exchange hands through all that, that's all the supply chain. And so I've, again, I've been feel really fortunate that, not only that, I find that right sort of passion and career, but my last name turned out to be Cheney, I guess, and that I've at some point had that light bulb moment, and so it's a bit of work for sure, as you know, to kind of get up, get out and try to build something new that didn't exist before, but, darn, at the end of the day it's pretty darn fulfilling.

Blythe Brumleve: 17:50

Yeah, it definitely is, and I hope you don't mind that I'm going to clip that little audio piece and definitely use it as promo for saying everything is logistics. So I appreciate that that was not planned, but I'm going to take advantage of it anyways. Okay, so I did want to. I thought what you said was really interesting about building sort of that SOP process within shippers, especially managing their supply chain department, you know, building their own internal logistics team, which I think is really interesting. What are some of the challenges that these shippers are facing that you're helping to craft for them, that they may not have known about the logistics process?

Nathan Chaney: 18:30

Well, I think one thing and I kind of specialize on the smaller to medium sized businesses is a lot of times they kind of lump in logistics and supply chain in with operations in general. You know. So the person who's been, you know if you want to say making widgets, you know for a long time and you know how to make widgets really well they because you know the inputs into that process have to, are going to them and the finished goods of that process they're also kind of in charge of it just kind of gets lumped into operations and so there's not a lot of specialization within the logistics and supply chain and so you might not have a lot of folks that have much experience on their team in the logistics and supply chain space. And there's a lot of savings to be made if you just package things up differently. If you get pallets that are made, that are customized to your size, you can have a smaller footprint in your, in your LTL trailers. There's just a lot of optimization. And you know, a big part of my actually degree in college was marketing and one thing that I'll kind of always remember is that saving a dollar is the equivalent of, you know, whatever your margin is saving $1 equivalent of selling $10 worth of product. So for every little bit of savings that you can get, you get an exponential return based on the sales equivalent of that savings right. So there's a lot of opportunity for companies to, you know, improve their bottom line. Not worry about the top line so much, but improve the bottom line by just drawing out and driving out costs that don't need to be there, just optimizing. So, and even though there are degrees you know people are getting logistics degrees hundreds and thousands a year it's still, for in the bigger companies you're going to find logistics as supply chain departments, but in smaller companies I think there's that that expertise is still finding their way in and finding a seat at the table and showing their value.

Blythe Brumleve: 20:24

What is? Maybe, if someone is listening to this, maybe they are one of those businesses that needs to, you know, get a grip on their logistics SOP. What are maybe some good overall tips to developing that?

Nathan Chaney: 20:39

Well, one thing that I've come to realize now is the world of consulting that I've kind of found myself in for a bit now is that if you don't have the expertise in-house there are, there's plenty of folks out there that are very experienced and more than happy to come help you out a bit so that if you don't have the budget to have, like, for example, a full-time expert, you know, on staff, you can do that in a part-time consulting sort of fashion, even maybe just a retainer, that they just come on and help, just again in a retainer type fashion, to bring some of that expertise. It can, you know, obviously very much have a really rewarding ROI at the end of the day just for the little bits and pieces of expertise and knowledge those folks have that you know, within your company hadn't thought of yet. You know, I know that there's companies out there that kind of frown upon the idea of having consultants and whatnot, but I've really kind of learned to see the value of just having little bits and pieces of that expertise that you're able to access. The other thing that I think is is a struggle is not investing a lot of time in training and kind of telling those new hires and people that are coming in the door, why All this is happening, why we do things the way we do them and what the best way to do it is. I feel like even with some jobs that I've had, it's very much just on the job training, just get in there kind of get going. And so there are actually ways to be a little more structured and to provide those new hires with the why of why your company is doing what it does. You know why its mission is what it is and also the how you know the how do you do your job from day to day. And so I've actually partnered with some folks that kind of help with those things, if someone's ever wanting to talk about it more. But there's really good solutions out there that can help get that how into everybody's pocket so that there is no question about how to go do this job properly and execute consistently day in and day out.

Blythe Brumleve: 22:36

What are some of? Because, especially for small to medium sized businesses, you don't know what you don't know. So how do you, what are some of, maybe those warning signs that someone needs to get that outside consultant, needs to hire somebody that is an expert in logistics, or at least is familiar with it somewhat? What are some of those maybe like hints or like little red flags that may start popping up, that may signal to them hey, we might need to get somebody in here.

Nathan Chaney: 23:04

Sure, you know, when you start to ask that question, the thing that popped into my mind is you, if you keep yourself within your own four walls of your business day in and day out, you're not going to actually know what other people are doing and you're not going to be able to kind of see what best practices are out there. And so one way to actually do that is to get involved in sort of those industry groups that might be in your area, particularly ones that go on facility tours and visits of other facilities. It can be transportation docs, it can be warehouses, it can be plants or factories that are making something. But I've found that one of the great ways to kind of identify where there might be gaps in your operation is to go look at and see what other people are doing. And that's actually kind of what spurred the creation of my creation by a chain of YouTube channel was to go out and kind of go tour and film those facilities and kind of bring those best practices and give that sort of inspiration to folks in a way that they don't even have to leave their office or their couch to kind of get some of that inspiration. And I know that doesn't 100% answer your question. I think you're probably looking for what KPIs can they look at or what sort of financial returns or reports they could look at to find that there's problems. And I think those questions could also be answered by the accounting team is does this cost look like it's out of spec compared to our industry? Is our transportation and warehouse spend? Is our inventory turnover right? Do we have too much loss going on from? We started out with a million dollars worth of inventory at the beginning and now we've only got half a million. But we sold $700 million of it or 700, just things being off from a business perspective and going to try to find those root cause could lead you down into there's something in the logistics or the supply chain of the business. But I think a really good practice that's easy and fun is to just go and learn and see what other people are doing and kind of benchmark your own business.

Blythe Brumleve: 25:10

Yeah, I would add on to that, especially for a lot of small to medium sized business. They might not even know that they have a local maybe council supply chain managers or a local transportation club or anything like that. But maybe that is a good avenue for people who work in freight to go to some of these other business networking meetings and to meet with those folks and explain what you were saying. You don't know what you don't know. So let me share my expertise with some of the maybe the more casual business networking groups. That seems like it would be a great opportunity for a lot of these folks if they don't know already about transportation management. Spend which can eat up at least 50% of any given product is transportation costs related. So it could be a good selling avenue for the freight brokers out there to go to some of these meetings and educate these business owners. But speaking of educating your YouTube channel, which you've mentioned supply chain, great name you mentioned the catalyst for it Starting it was bridging that educational gap and I think for a lot of people when they start down a content journey, they start out really strong and then they just fall off. What has kept you continuing to make content, in addition to managing all of the other things you've got going on.

Nathan Chaney: 26:36

Well, the model that I'm following at the moment is to bootstrap the content creation part of it. One, because if I'm doing the filming and the editing kind of everything myself, then later on, whenever, say, things take off and I can kind of outsource that production piece and have other people that are professionals kind of help out with that, is that I've already kind of been there and done that, so I know. One, I've already kind of created the look and feel of how I want the episodes to look, so people that are doing editing later can kind of just mimic the episodes that I've already done. And then two, from like a shooting perspective, if I'm going to be the interviewer walking around, then since I've also done the filming part and I've also done the editing later, I can kind of know how to talk, how to take pauses here and there, how to kind of frame the different shots so that later on in production it's more efficient and it can get kind of published and put out faster. And I think that's where I'm having a little bit of fun is that everything is logistics, in that even in content creation there's a way to be more efficient and actually there's kind of an endless pursuit of getting out there and trying to take as little footage and having to capture as much little raw content as possible so that you have less of it to go through and then, at the end of the day, you spend less time having to edit because everything you shot on site or whatever was better, all usable, not a lot of waste. All the kind of metrics that we think about in logistics really applies, I think, a little bit in content creation and at the end of the day, we just want to be efficiently able to tell a story to the audience that wants to hear it.

Blythe Brumleve: 28:14

Yeah, definitely. I've talked about this with clients too. It's like your content is a totally different supply chain. You have to find out where your original materials are going to be coming from, what your distribution plan looks like, what is that last mile of your distribution that plan looked like? So it really is like that supply chain can really be applied to content as well. How are you with creating content and the ventures that you have going on? What does sort of a typical day to day look like for you? Or maybe a week or a month is a better way to phrase it.

Nathan Chaney: 28:50

So, content-wise, I'm kind of shooting for a couple, two or three episodes of being filmed and kind of published each month. I think that's kind of it. The publishing or going out to shoot mostly just kind of looks like, if you want to say, cold calling a few interesting looking businesses that might be around or talking with friends that are in my network and just going and setting it up, telling them why I'm here and what I'm gonna do, and kind of getting it on the calendar. Going out and shooting and the, if you want to say, the B-roll. It's been about an hour doing that and about an hour doing the actual interview and walk and talk, so that's kind of happening. Those are points on the calendar and then in addition to that, I do some fractional sort of operations work for some folks, and so that is also a kind of big part of the schedule. I'd say half my time is spent talking about how to make a logistic company more profitable, how to keep their folks more happy, retain and recruit talent and just run the business and run the operations. That's 50% of my time, give or take. I've also kind of got, if you want to splash in, a little bit of an MBA that I'm working on as well in there, and then the freight brokerage and other sort of bits and pieces of the business where I'm just helping people execute their business and get things done. And again, in all of those things it's always a constant striving for efficiency. And how much can I accomplish all these things with this little sort of waste and time kind of involved? So I keep myself busy. I haven't learned yet how to relax. Being busy and having my hands kind of in a bunch of different buckets is actually just kind of how I get a fulfillment in life, so I enjoy it a lot.

Blythe Brumleve: 30:43

I think you're approaching content the right way. You even to this day. I'm lucky enough that I do have people that help me with my content now, but that is only a recent revelation or a recent addition, but I still think it's really important to know how to edit it, know what you're looking for, know what the kind of overall story of what you're trying to tell, before you ever even get out to onsite, because then, once you're onsite, it's very much like the sales process I call content like the new golf course, where you can go and you can meet people and you can have a conversation with them and then you develop that relationship with them that is so much stronger than trying to send a cold email and just hoping that they would notice you. I'm curious as to, with everything that you've learned from content this year, how do you sort of think about adjustments or changes to the process, the efficiency of it, as you're going into 2024?

Nathan Chaney: 31:44

Well, a little bit of new gear. I think that when you're just starting out, you kind of start out with some starter stuff and then you kind of figure out what is important to you and whatnot. So one of my strategies actually is to intentionally not need more than what will fit in like a backpack to show up to onsite and have everything shot. So I got the drone here, I just got the Pocket 3. All my stuff is all DJI, so it all kind of works and plays well together. But literally everything that I need will fit in a backpack. And if I come to, if I should somehow get an inquiry to do some work where they're like wanting some really good lighting and some cinema quality stuff, then I outsource that because that's not where my place is. And then I think the other part of it is getting better with editing. So I've spent a good amount of time just watching YouTube videos on how to edit video and what kind of shots. You know I'm actually working on a shot list now of what all those different shots are and knowing what those are gonna be, you know before you walk out there. And I think that from an efficiency perspective, the fact that it takes hours to make a one or two minute short clip is mind blowing. I don't think people that don't know this yet but it's almost. The shorter the clip is, the longer it's gonna take to get it polished and looking good and run through all the different sort of sequences, get all the words and all the audio in it, right. So my recipe at the moment is I go and shoot and then I make like a two or three minute sort of episode preview and then I take that and I basically just stretch out all those clips and make that into a 10 to 15 episode and so I'm again, from like a logistic sufficiency perspective, just figuring out how can I spend as little time on site, get the content that's needed and then spend as little time editing later on as later on so in 2024, I'm actually looking to expand on the content that I'm creating and packaging it up into what I'm gonna call supply chain. Academy is the working. Supply chain academy is the working title. But I do a lot with students. I do a lot of mentoring with a lot of the college students here in DFW and I also do a lot of interacting with people that are hiring students in, specifically, supply chain, and I think I've kind of thinking of figuring out a way that I can help match those two together and use content that I'm creating through the channel One to kind of educate the students, to kind of get them real world exposure to what life is like really in logistics, because that's kind of what my episodes are a lot. They're all behind the scenes, taking a peek behind the curtain of what really happens within logistics or operations or factories or whatnot. So using that experience and the content to be able to kind of educate and prep students and get them connected up to employers for internships and full time jobs. So that's actually the big thing I think I'm gonna be launching and trying to make happen in 2024.

Blythe Brumleve: 34:57

How do you, I guess, from like a marketing standpoint, how do you think of marketing your company versus you?

Nathan Chaney: 35:09

Or is it kind of all the same that one bucket or one umbrella yeah, at this point I think I am intimately tied into the company, like I am the company, right. But I realized that in the longer term I need to get to a point where it can stand on its own and operate on its own and does not rely on me to be part of it, and so I'm obviously very still early days in the whole thing. But I've got some ideas and dreams, I guess you could say right, of having a company that stands on its own, that one provides the services that executes logistics for folks, right. However, that might look in transportation, warehousing and whatnot, but also has a kind of a media component to it. The idea that I've kind of been thinking about is, if I've got all these episodes where I am out and about and I'm talking to people that make this and that sell that and distribute that and I've seen all of these things than that as a salesperson or selling the services I'm providing, I feel like that is a pretty compelling reason to hire me, because I've seen all of these things and I have all these connections with all these folks. So you can go watch the episode yourself and you can learn how pallets are made, or you can learn how concrete is made and distributed. But at the same time, if you want, you can have direct access to that person who's actually gone and seen and touched and felt all those different operations. And I wanna be able to try to move a lot of that knowledge that I'm getting, that's in my head and share it with other people through the content, through channels, so that it's not all just trapped here but I wanna kind of pass it along. And so I want the company to kind of represent that best practices and logistics and kind of fostering the industry and the expertise not the expertise, the logistics or know how into the next generation.

Blythe Brumleve: 37:13

Like your experience, especially with having that experience across so many different silos of logistics, where that's where content really shines a light and can really help this industry move forward as a whole, because everybody just between maritime intermodal warehousing, everybody operates in their own silos, and when you operate in your own silos going back to what you said earlier you don't know what you don't know. I'm curious as to do you have a favorite story that you've told so far? And then is there a dream story that you would love to tell in the future?

Nathan Chaney: 37:48

Yeah, that's a good question, it's a really good question. So if I think back through the few that I've filmed, so I would say that and I have got a quick little visual. The interesting thing is, as I mentioned a while ago, is that as I've kind of gone through this journey in the supply chain sort of career and industry is that it's becoming less and less about the technical ins and outs of transporting things and warehousing them and more about just being a good general business practitioner and kind of just being a well-rounded company that people want to work for. And so to that end, I've got an episode coming out here pretty soon. That is what they're gonna call the work wear safety. And I think of many companies that I've been a part of, they seem to be the most intentional about how they've developed the culture of the business, and you can kind of see it in just how well they could recite exactly what their mission was, Exactly kind of the ways that they each expect each other to act toward each other, how they all expect to deliver for the customer. And so there's this internal component to their culture and then there's this external sort of customer facing component to it and, as in the episode Coleman, who's the president CEO of the business says he says, at the end of the day, culture eats strategy for breakfast. And I think that as we grow kind of in our business sort of levels of how you think about a business and whether it's logistics or anything, you start thinking at a higher level. It's more about the people and the culture and that's what's gonna carry the business forward, Not so much the technical expertise of how well your rate tables are structured with your suppliers or something right. And so it's in that episode with Workwear Safety that I think I really got to highlight a company that cares about its people and has intentionally developed a place that people want to work in. And at the end of the day again, your SOPs can be the most amazing ever, but if it's not a place that people want to work, then you're gonna have trouble recruiting and retaining folks to do to run those SOPs.

Blythe Brumleve: 40:04

So I just made a note in our show notes to include that video in the show notes Just in case people want to check it out and check out more of your work, and real quick. Do you have a dream company or a dream story that you would want to tell in supply chain?

Nathan Chaney: 40:20

That one is tough. I haven't thought about it. That's maybe the next episode that I'm on.

Blythe Brumleve: 40:28

I could it could be okay. So you're on the verge of telling it.

Nathan Chaney: 40:33

No, honestly, I gotta think on that one. It's kind of like saying what's your favorite song. Do you have a favorite song?

Blythe Brumleve: 40:41

Yes, but it changes so often so I don't know if maybe I have five different songs at any one time, but I would say, if I'm thinking a favorite, because I do a lot of we have a series on the show called the Logistics, of which I just rebranded to Source to Porch. So Source to Porch I shouldn't use the proper name for it, but for that it's been Disney Logistics. I am anxious to get In fact, I did meet someone at a recent conference that was in charge of Walt Disney Logistics and she was trying to keep her name badge on the low so no one else would see it, and I think I freaked her out a little bit because I've been wanting to tell the story for so long. Just the theme park logistics how they reopened, how they got all their suppliers back in order, from everything from the food and the people to the fireworks. It's just an incredible display of logistics, and so I've told it independently a couple of times. But my dream supply chain story would be I don't know, maybe even not like a US-based theme park, but maybe it's like Tokyo's Disney Sea, which is regarded as one of the most beautiful theme parks in the world. That would probably be the upper Mount Everest of stories that I would like to tell, so I don't know if that helped create any ideas for you, or maybe you have a new one that you want to hit.

Nathan Chaney: 42:12

My equivalent of that would be a movie set.

Blythe Brumleve: 42:15

Oh cool.

Nathan Chaney: 42:16

And I don't know how you could bubble that down to just like 10 minutes because there's so much that's got to go into it. But I mean just the logistics of getting people, I mean the people component. If you talk about all the extras that are in the background of a war scene or whatever, all the makeup and the costumes and then the special effects and the safety that's got to be taking place, oh my gosh, I would be really interested. You know, myself I'm curious about how the logistics of a film set in a movie happen. But to be able to kind of tell that story would be pretty cool.

Blythe Brumleve: 42:53

I will say I so I'm a big Game of Thrones fan and so it's season eight. I know a lot of people have their their feelings about it, but on HBO they have a like a special episode of filming season eight or filming seven and eight, and they talk about some of those logistics. It's really fascinating. Highly advise everybody to go watch it. But you're you're right that all of the extras they in. One thing that I remember specifically from it is that they had different large tents just for people who are getting makeup than people who are ready to shoot, and it was just like you're moving people from like tent to tent. It was a really fascinating watch. And just, you don't even think about the fact of like a show or a movie. It's not filmed in chronological order, it's filmed based on logistics, based on where can people get to in time, where can they, where locations are on site. You know it's. It's really focused on logistics first and then the story comes like after the fact. So I would co-sign that one too. Ok, last few questions, because we haven't really talked about any of like your distribution or how you think about distribution when it comes to content. So do you have like a you know a favorite social media platform. Are you using email? How do you sort of think about, you know, not just creating the content but getting it out to the audience that you care about?

Nathan Chaney: 44:16

I think that is in phase two. I feel like I'm still kind of in phase one, which is like just getting those first 10, you know episodes shot, I think that. So in phase one I'm kind of just getting my sea legs as far as creating and getting the vibe and sort of just feel of how things are going to go. I think in phase two is where I either need to do it myself or just bring someone on or, you know, just help, get some outside help that will just help kind of be able to tell that story in more channels. So right now you know it's very un-magical, you know it's a YouTube channel and then I post on LinkedIn and kind of try to share there. But what I think I've learned is that, like, the LinkedIn algorithm doesn't really like it if you send people outside of LinkedIn, like so if you're linking out to a YouTube or something, then it's going to kind of rank you lower and you're not going to get the sort of you know. So I'm just getting into how, all that sort of stuff, you know like how you should make your thumbnails, what your title line should be, and all that sort of good stuff, and so I'm still learning, still in phase one of just getting things kind of learned, but I feel like here pretty soon I should be able to get to a point where I am going to be able to take the content, write a blog summary of the episode, of what I learned from that tour. Because that, because whenever you try to take an hour discussion and turn it into 10 minutes worth of finished content, you don't actually get to tell the whole story and maybe even some of the main points are not going to actually come through because they weren't caught in a conversation or they weren't caught on video. It was just the what you feel and what you experienced that you can't exactly tell through the video. So you know, I've gotten more plans of how to be able to share kind of the experiences and get that content out, but for right now I'm kind of keeping it pretty simple, but I hope to really expand on it.

Blythe Brumleve: 46:12

Yeah, I think that that's the way to go. Like, don't I think too many people, when they start creating content, they want to be everywhere and they want to be on all the things and they get quickly overwhelmed and then they quickly burn out. The key to longevity is you know very it's very similar to what you've been talking about. You know throughout your entire career of being almost obsessed with the process. And if you're process obsessed and then that leaves room to optimize, that leaves room to get better, and if you're not obsessed with the process and getting that part better, then the end result is always going to be subpar. So, whether that's you know running a supply chain consultancy, running a freight agent business, you know creating content, you know be obsessed with the process and then you'll ultimately, you know, get to that, that carrot at the at the end of the road. Okay, so what? Anything else for 2024? You got going on. Is there anything that I should have asked but didn't, that you think is important to mention?

Nathan Chaney: 47:13

I want I love that question because it's a question I try to use whenever I'm talking to folks is what did I not ask you that you think it's important? I love that question. You know that's that's a. You know I'm kind of taking it if you want to call it an episode at a time or a week or two at a time in exactly where it goes. You know I'm kind of letting things organically grow. I don't know where things could be a year from now. I'm kind of excited because if things work out really well and it's just a whole lot of fun and success I don't know what that could even be, but I just imagine it could be really cool. On the other hand, if, if it all just kind of leads into something else that just all this is just preparation for, then I think that that's also good too. You know you kind of win at life through your successes and your struggles, and so I guess you know it's kind of you got to have a little maturity, you know, in order to look at a failure and say I learned from that and I'm going to be able to go do something better now, but so just kind of continuing this kind of experiment that I've been on for a little while, which is, you know, trying to operate and run, you know, independent and get something going. It's, it takes a lot of work, you know to to not have someone that you rely on, you know, to kind of pay you a paycheck at the end of the day that you've got to go out and fish for yourself, and it's, you know, it's not for the faint of heart and to anyone out there doing it, if it's a freight agent or if it's any sort of means of just driving income yourself. You know, my hat's off to you all because it's, it's man, it's a ton of work, but it's also extremely rewarding and really fulfilling, right. So that's, that's really it. Actually, if I could ask you a question, the one question, I'm going to use my question back to you, which is in this B2B content creation space, because we aren't making fun cute, like there's a cat, you know, doing something, funny videos. It does seem tough to get viral and it also kind of just getting followers and viewers seems like a little bit of a slower process than than what I, I, I, you would be slow, but I think it's pretty slow, but I just kind of want to get your sort of take on what it's been like for you kind of. You know, feeding content into the supply chain market, and earlier you mentioned that there needs to be more content creators. So that that's a positive sign. But can you kind of tell them about your experience and what you're seeing?

Blythe Brumleve: 49:44

Sure. So I think the caveat for me is, when I launched digital dispatch, I already had this radio broadcasting experience and I didn't see anybody really doing that in freight, except for like Dooner, like Timothy Dooner. You know what the truck and I use and I knew I wasn't coming from a sports background. I knew I wasn't going to be in the news game. When you create content, you really have to pick one side or the other. Are you going to create editorial style content or are you going to create new style content? Now you can add a little bit of editorial to news, but if you're focusing on news, like you are, you have to constantly be online. You have to constantly read and listen and watch everything, because what you may need for that day's show or that day's news program might not be applicable for that day, but you might need it six months from now. So it's really almost emotionally draining to run a business and try to play in the news game. So I made a very conscious decision that I need to be editorial. I need to have certain content buckets that I focus on and not steer away from unless there's revenue to justify it. So all that to say is when I first started the show. It was called the Digital Dispatch Podcast and it was really just about trying to get clients trying to figure out where their pain points are, because I knew if I knew those pain points ahead of time, then other people are probably experiencing that at the same time. Then the show did okay and then I got picked up by Freight Waves. So when you're on Freight Waves, it's a different beast that you're creating. You're creating a show. You're not just creating a topic that we're going to explore or a customer interview that has specific marketing questions, things like that. So there's a little bit of a fine line that you have to walk. So my biggest advice is don't ever expect to go viral, because in B2B it's just probably not going to happen. But the value is that you were talking, hopefully, to there's 12 people that are watching a video. Then hopefully 10 of them are in your target audience and that is significantly more than if you were to go viral and say, like I've gone viral a couple of times on TikTok didn't bring me any new customers. It actually brought a lot of headaches, a lot of bad comments, nasty comments. So there's a lot of baggage, I think, with going viral that people don't talk enough about. But I usually advise people to say don't pay attention to the vanity metrics. Pay attention to the right metrics and you as a business have much more avenues of opportunity if you focus on the 12 people that are going to buy from you, versus 12,000 views from folks who are never going to buy from you. So focus on having those customer conversations through video, through content, and then figuring out a way to build stories on top of that. I think for a lot of marketers and freight, those stories exist already within their company and I think the challenge is to explain to the executive team that no, you're not going to go viral from it, but the insights you're going to gather from talking to your carriers and talking to your customers and talking to your vendor partners is you're going to get answers to questions that you never knew to ask and you're also going to get insight that is going to be significantly more than what is people are sharing online or even that you can get from SEO keyword volume. You know stupid things that you know marketers still pay attention to. That. Just don't move the needle in today's marketing world. I believe it's content first approach and it should be a content first approach for most freight companies is telling those stories that are already inside internally of your business and then you can start maybe playing in the news game. But that should. For the overwhelming majority of people who are working in supply chain, that just shouldn't be. You know, let freight waves and doon are that's their full time job. You still have to run a business and hopefully content can complement that. So hopefully that answered your question. Hopefully it did anyways.

Nathan Chaney: 54:18

Tempered expectations, I think is and kind of go for what? The meaningful sort of quality over quantity type of engagement.

Blythe Brumleve: 54:28

I think too, but it's also it's gaining the direct insight from your customers, who, if they have certain questions from you, then there's likely other businesses in their same demo, very similar customer profiles that have those same exact questions, and so I think you know, coming from the place of having those conversations with your customers. First, I think using content as a way to get your foot in the door is brilliant, and it's a strategy that I've used throughout my whole career is hey, come on my podcast, let's talk, and then you can gain those insights and gain those business solutions from those customers, because the last thing you want to be is like one of these SaaS companies that creates a product and tries to figure out where it fits in to the mix, instead of going direct to customer and figuring out what they're dealing with and creating products and services and solutions around that.

Nathan Chaney: 55:20

Sure yeah.

Blythe Brumleve: 55:22

All right, Well, I guess that about does it for for this conversation. Where can folks you know obviously I will link to your YouTube channels or any other way or any other platform that folks should check you out. If they want to get in touch, if they want to connect on social media, where should they go?

Nathan Chaney: 55:39

Well, it's kind of simple. Yeah, just basic website at this point in time, which is just supply chaincom and, like I said, kind of phase two would be to get out there on the more channels and more ways to sort of engage, just kind of keeping it lightening.

Blythe Brumleve: 55:55

Yeah, definitely protect your piece, so get out there when you can. No, don't spread yourself too thin. All right, Nathan? Well, that was awesome. Thank you again for coming on the show and we look forward to watching your YouTube channel grow.

Nathan Chaney: 56:08

All right. Thanks for the support.

Blythe Brumleve: 56:39

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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.