Connecting with your audience as a creator with Khe Hy

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Khe Hy left his corporate finance job 8 years ago to pursue content creation. He is now the Founder and CEO of RadReads and has been called the ‘Oprah for Millennials’ by CNN. By his own admission, he’s not the best at going viral, but he still managed to build a viable business around his newsletter.

In this episode of Creators On Air, we talk about what it means to live a happy life, understanding the pains of your audience and how to put your best creative work out there.

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Episode Transcript

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There's a playbook for how to grow online as a creator. What if you don't want to follow the rules? Does that mean you can't build a successful business?

Khe has been a creator for eight years. By his own admission, he's not the best at going viral, but still he's managed to build a viable business around his newsletter RadReads.

Khe: I'm an accidental entrepreneur. So I started, uh, I worked on Wall Street for 15 years and I had a, you know, midlife or hopefully third of a life crisis at 35. And I asked myself, am I really gonna do this the rest of my life? Am I gonna stay on this hamster wheel? And I looked at people who are 20 years older than me and I said, like, that's success in that world.

I don't want. Uh, and so I chose to opt out, but I didn't have a plan. I just had a plan to do things that I found fun, uh, until I ran out of, not ran out of money, but ran out of money that I had put aside for this phase. Uh, and so the thing that I found fun was. It turned out was writing, uh, blurbing a newsletter, and Blurbing turned to writing.

Writing, turned to teaching. Teaching. Turned to videos. Videos turned to trainings, and here we are eight years later. 

Akta: I mean, right now there's a lot, but I guess it started with the blog and newsletter, is that, is that right? 

Khe: Yes. Started with the, the newsletter. 

Akta: And how did you grow that to the point where you.


Khe: Ooh. The monetization question is always a, a tricky one cuz I'm not the best person to talk about it cuz it's took, taken me so long. Uh, it's taken me eight years to learn, uh, to learn how to monis monetize. But I could, I could talk about it in the sense that there's a few chapters. The first was I wrote the newsletter just for.

When I wrote the newsletter for fun, uh, what I realized was people started to get an exposure to how I think, and once people started to get exposure to how, I think then a bunch of opportunities showed up. The first one was people said, we like the way you think. Can you help us think this way? And it was specifically around like, like really being introspective about like, what does it mean to live a happy.

Right. And so they're like, I'm not happy. Can you teach me how to be happy? Cuz we wa we like your thinking from that. A little detour. But I got invited to join a media company and that's where I really learned how to write. So I had this like part-time job. It was a f it was like 5% of what I made working on Wall Street, like income-wise.

But I was learning Oh wow. The ins and outs of digital media. Yeah. From that I started to, my friend Tiago Forte was like, you should just, you have like a. Crazy. I mean, I don't think it's crazy, but you have this out there philosophy on life, like you should teach other people how to do it. And so we did this, like these pop-up workshops that were like 99 bucks, like three hour workshops.

And then from there it turned into probably our biggest product, which is our core supercharger productivity, which is a cohort based course that teaches. This hybrid approach of productivity and philosophy. Uh, and we've run that course for 12 cohorts. It's about done about a million dollars of, of revenue over two and a half years.


Akta: But you said that people were able to see what you thought through your writing, but how did you actually bring people to your writing in the first place? Because I feel like that. Difficult part about newsletters. Is that discoverability? Yeah, 

Khe: discoverability is extremely hard. Um, I would say a few things there was if you write good stuff, Uh, people will forward it.

So we've always had a pretty good referral, um, network. I think that accidentally there were, there were a few breakout moments in the growth of the newsletter. Um, most of them were related to press and podcasts. And so, um, the biggest one though was that on Christmas Eve of 2016, CNN wrote a article about me, a.

That's called me Oprah for millennials. Oh, no way. Which is wanted. So cool. I'm a, I'm a Gen X, not a millennial. Um, so they wrote that piece and I think I got like 9,000 subscribers, uh, over Wow. Like overnight. Basically I went from like a thousand to 9,000 or 10,000. But here's the crazy part, the reason why.

They wrote that article was cuz the reporter was a newsletter reader and said, oh, this person seems to have chosen an interesting life path for themselves. And so all these opportunities now in hindsight, there are things that I would've done differently. And this was a different era. This was like five years before sub, four years before sub.

So this is like og like MailChimp newsletter. Oh wow. Uh, so, uh, there's definitely many things that I. Uh, done differently and the rules are kind of different now. Yeah. With like short form and social, like you, you really need to have like a social first strategy. That's true. Even for a newsletter. And I'm not actually, I, I have ideas on that.

I'm not the best at it though. Mm-hmm. 

Akta: Well, what do you think it is about your writing that made people want to actually talk about it and share 

Khe: it? Hmm. I think that, I mean, it's gonna sound a little bit corny, but it was, it was very authentic. Mm-hmm. I would say stuff. Have you ever had a conversation with your wife about whether you should still be married?

Right. And cuz we actually had that conversation. And by the way, um, for those of you listening who are not married, it's very common to have that conversation. And if you don't have that conversation, it's very, very, very, very common to have that thought. And so when you say something so bluntly, so matter-of-factly, 99% of people have thought about and won't say it, and like 50% of them have said it and have dealt with the repercussions of it and know that it's not something that they can talk about, then you instantly create a connection with people.

Mm. Right. Cuz you can't make that shit up. You can't make that stuff up. So again, I, I pick probably one of the, the more extreme examples, uh, but I try to bring. Authenticity, that vulnerability, that like relatability. It's like, yeah, I'm, I can do shitty things as a dad sometimes and I am not the most reliable friend sometimes and I beat myself up when I make a mistake sometimes.

And I think that I writing forced me to have a very keen eye on human nature. And, and really in like the everydayness, not like, like Socrates type human nature, but just like, oh, like I know what you're feeling right now, or, I have a sense of what you're feeling right now. And, um, that built a connection with, with the readership in the audience.

And how do you 

Akta: strike that balance then? Because something I struggle with is I'm quite vulnerable as well on YouTube. Mm-hmm. Um, like one of my most popular videos is about like the struggles that I've had with friendships. And I get like a lot of comments sometimes about, oh, you are just writing about this to get attention on the internet.

Do you know, like that kind of almost sense of entitlement, I guess. Like how do you track the balance where you are trying to be relatable without. You know, uh, I dunno even how to explain it, but 

Khe: do you know what I mean? Yeah, no, I know, I know what you mean. I think, um, comments hurt everyone, like mean comments.

You could be Kim Kardashian and you will read the comments like, and they will hurt. So co like being hurt by comments is a fundamental part of being human. Mm-hmm. And we can. The theory about that, but that's probably not as interesting. But that's just it. It's, it just happens. Like, I like the other, it's why I hate being on TikTok cuz like the comments, I've found them to be the most hurtful Oh really?

On TikTok. Um, and I think it's, cuz I'm older and cuz I like talk about money and like things like that. And so I think I'm like, I'm like the meme for. You know, like the Gen X person with money. Uh, and so it's like easy to attack me. Like even when I'm just like making an explainer video about like how mortgages work.

They're like, yeah, you're the problem. Why people can't have houses? I'm like, no, I'm not. You know, so, so I think one, just like acknowledging that that's, you know, that like we are humans and it doesn't matter how famous or not famous we are when someone says something, To us, it hurts. Yeah. Um, and then I think from that point you can go on and like mitigate, like, you know, for example, I have on my email newsletter, like if I, if I were to do YouTube, I would have someone.

Go through my comments and like delete the ones that are like savage. Mm. Like I, I just took like for my own sanity, just because the other thing is like, you know, it's very hard to remember to intellectualize, but like, if someone is gonna anonymously be mean to you on the internet, like they're the ones that are hurting, not.

Right, but it's human nature. Like you still heard, cuz you still read the thing. And so I think that, you know, if I were, you know, we get emails, we don't get that many like mean emails, but we do get some, like, I have someone go through the inboxes and if they're mean, they're just like, they just archive.

They don't even, I never even know that they exist. Yeah, that's a good thing. It's different if it's like, if it's constructive criticism. Then absolutely. Like, um, I was, I was watching, uh, the, uh, there's a bunch of like washed, like washed up N B a players and athletes that are like creating new careers on TikTok and YouTube and so on.

And so I've, you know, we're like around the same age, so I've been watching them and one of them, Richard Jefferson, he's a, a retired basketball player. He said, if you don't have my, if you have something mean to say to me, text. Oh, if you don't have my number, that means I don't care. I love that. 

Akta: That's great.

I'm so using that about that. Yeah, definitely. And I guess the other thing that can affect you other than comments is also like the content you see online and how that affects your thoughts. Um, so when I go on Twitter, like I follow you on Twitter, so you are one of the few people I, Phil, who. Things very differently on things like money and work and things like that, which I find so refreshing.

How do you kind of keep your own thoughts and your own perspective when you're flooded by everyone else's thoughts 

Khe: and opinions? I, I think it comes back down to like, what is the life that you wanna live? Hmm. Right. If you wanna live. Look, and, and I said like I could do, I'm not that good at them, but I could do the list of goals.

So, you know, eight things to do to, you know, be rich before you're 25. And I would probably get, have way more followers. Right. They'd be the, the bad kind of followers cuz like, they, they ultimately wouldn't, it's not who I am. And so, you know, in the long game it would be destructive. But I, I, so I think it's like, one is like, I wanna be a creator.

I'm 43, I've been doing this for eight years. I, I wanna be a creator till I'm like 65. Hmm. Right. So that means I would be a creator for 30 years. Which means that I need to endure the game. Yeah. Right. And so, and I, and, and I'm not trying to get rich, like I'm trying to pay, pay my living, like make a living off of it.

But I'm not trying to get rich and I'm not trying to get famous, like, you know, you know Instagram famous in that regards. And so recognizing that like if you wanna do anything for 30 years, it has to be in alignment with what you stand. Hmm. It has to be things that you care about. It has to be with people who support you.

It has to be in a way that is genuine to how you feel. It has to be in a way that protects your mental health, right? And so I constantly think about all these things, and I have gone down through phases, you know, like I have gone down this, this rabbit hole of like trying to do like the corny, like tweet threads.

And I've tried to go down the, like the, you know, like the super grabby tos and like I know how to do it. But it doesn't work because it feels disingenuous. Mm-hmm. When I do it, it feels disingenuous. So when people see it, they feel, they know that it's disingenuous. Mm-hmm. So it's just kind of like, what's the point?

Let's just save all of ourselves the hassle and just be like, you do you. But I, I'll tell you like it's a struggle because like I look at. Um, like saw Hill Bloom. Mm. Who's a friend of mine and he is so good at the, the, the tweet storms and like, he's so good at it and he's super talented and like, we're friends.

Like there's, there's no criticism. He has a 250,000 person newsletter and no one online had ever heard of him two years ago. Crazy. So I can't help and. What the fuck? Like, I've been doing this for eight years and I have 40,000 subscribers, like, and he comes out of nowhere. But he has his strengths, he has his own goals.

I, I don't know what his goals are, but they're probably different than mine. Mm-hmm. And he has his own life circumstances. Right. And he has his own team. And so like, I just need, and by the way, I have 40,000 people, like that's a fucking lot of subscribers to like 99.9%. You know? So it's like, it would be like me, you know, comparing myself to like, um, MBAE and I'm like, why can't I like play as well as, um, MBAE.

It's like, cuz you are in a different league. Him, you know? And. And that's okay. You know, but I, I, again, it goes back to the point you made about the YouTube comments. It's like, I'm human too. Like I mm-hmm. I, I see people doing what seems like the same thing as me. Yeah. And I'm like, that's not fair that, you know, and I, I, I feel bad about myself.

And then I remember I'm like, you can't, like, you tried the tweet threads thing and, and it just didn't work for you. Like, so you couldn't do it. Five weeks. Like how on earth would you do it for five years, la, la, la. Like 25 

Akta: years. No, I, I think it's good to keep things sustainable, like you said, especially if you wanna be a creative for the long run.

But I feel like even you are in a different league too, like a lot of the creators, I mean, a lot of people look at you with complete admiration. I mean, I saw a tweet of yours the other day that said that you generated $658,000. In 2022 for Rad Reeds. Mm-hmm. What were your income streams? So even though you have, yeah, I wouldn't even say it's a small audience, but like 40,000 subscribers has translated to that, which is insane.

How have you Yeah. Managed to do that. 

Khe: It's, it's crazy cuz they're, I know people with 20 million followers that can't make a hundred. Exactly. Yeah. And I know people with a thousand followers that can make a million dollars crazy. Uh, so it's kind of like, it's, it's a crazy thing. And, and thank you. The, I think, you know, like, it's like the mb mbae thing.

It's like you, you just like, you just look at people who are 10 times better than. And you're like, why can't I be like them? It's like, cuz you're not trying to be like them. You know? It's like, uh, and so it's so easy to get lost that like, for every time I look at a Sawhill Bloom or a Dickie Bush, or a James Clear, and I'm like, why can't I be like them?

There's a whole nother set of creators that are like, I can't wait to, you know, be like, hey, and, and you know that again, it comes back to the human nature of it. Uh, so I, for context on that tweet by the. We, it was our best year ever. Uh, those are revenue numbers. So 658,000 in revenue. That translates into, I think it was like $250,000 in like, like revenue to province.

Um, and so, uh, I don't have the exact bi pie chart in front of me, but I think 50% of it was from our cohort based course, which we might be shutting down. So we could talk about that. Okay. Yeah. Um, 50% of it's from what was from our cohort based. And then 15% of it was from, uh, a community, a paid community that comes from the cohort based course.

And then the rest was sponsorships was the biggest. Remainer. Email, sponsorships. And then there's like random, oh, I'm sorry. We had a consulting business that we shut down. And then like miscellaneous, like little bit of public speaking. 

Akta: Mm-hmm. Okay. So let's talk about why you are shutting like big revenue streams down.

So what, what's happening with 

Khe: that? Um, we grew really quickly during the pandemic. Uh, and because it was the golden, you know, you look at Peloton, you look at Zoom, like we were like, everyone wanted to take our courses and so on. And so, even though we had, um, our best year revenue. Our costs got really outta control.

We had a team of five, I built a team of five people and in that same article, I had to share that, you know, I let go of three people, you know, some of them like within months of making them full-time employees. So they were like contractors. Full-time employee, full-time employee for like. Three weeks late later.

Oh no. And I think this is another mistake that people online make is they always talk about revenue numbers, but they don't talk about it cost numbers. Mm-hmm. It's like you can make a million dollars, but if you have $900,000 of expenses, like who cares? Right? I mean, it's still a hundred thousand dollars, or you can make a hundred thousand dollars with five, $5,000 of expenses.

So, um, so in that case our, um, the trends for that business, it was basically like, looks like Zoom stock charted, like skyrockets during the pandemic and starts to like really crash, uh, in 20, like the middle of last year, the middle of 2022. So that, um, our costs got out of control and our revenue is starting to come down.

So even. The aggregate number for the year was really good. The trend was actually very bad. Like it kept, the course kept going. Like the, the biggest cohort was like January of 2021. That was like $140,000, uh, in like one month. Uh, wow. One four week cohort. And then that same cohort two years later was 40.

Wow. Okay. So I was basically getting ahead of the, the revenue decline and the costs going up. Mm-hmm. Uh, and so from there we just kind of like, you know, everything happened so quickly and I kind of went back to the drawing board and said, you know, cohort based courses were really a thing. Of the pandemic.

Yeah. Where people were like, I have 45 hours of free time to just get on pointless Zoom calls and just talk to friends like for hours and hours and hours and just, the reality is people don't have that. They don't have that time anymore. So because they don't have that time anymore. That's not an interesting product to them anymore.

Mm-hmm. In that format. Mm-hmm. So what that means though is that we just need to go back to the drawing board cuz like as you said, we've got a great following, we have a loyal following. We have people who know what we stand for and we want to, um, We want to basically think about how to, to redesign our business around that in a way that's more sustainable with a much smaller team.

Again, I'd rather have to use that extreme example. I'd rather have the a hundred thousand dollars business with $5,000 of expenses than the million dollar business with $900,000 of expenses. Yeah. Cause the, that bigger one has a tremendous amount of complexity. Yeah. 

Akta: And how do you figure that out? How do you figure out what's the right fit for your audience, you know, for your next, for your next revenue 

Khe: stream?

It's brutal. It's extremely, it's, it's really, really difficult. It's a few things. You have to, you have to, and this is where we're not particularly good at. Um, you have to understand the pains of your audience. Mm-hmm. So that's the first thing. You have to understand the pains of your. And that's not easy, right?

Because you know, we struggle a little bit cuz we're such generalists. Like we talk about career change, we talk about money, we talk about growing your social, you know, it's like those are very different pains for different groups of people. So you have to understand the pain point. Of your audience, right?

Are they looking to change careers cuz they're like really unhappy in their job? Or are they overwhelmed by the amount of email that they get? Or are they um, uh, not being the best parents that they could be because they're constantly on their phones? Right. Do you have to really like, Take it. We have these like documents of these, like, and this comes from like customer research, talking to your customers, testing things out on social and blogging and seeing which videos do well.

Like there's all this like analysis to it. Uh, some of it you just kind of look at it and make educated guesses and other, other times you actually like really specifically, you know, analyze like, oh, this, this theme of video gets the most comments. Mm-hmm. Like that means that there's something there. So once you understand the pain points, then you have to design.

The solution, right? Mm-hmm. So if someone's pain is like, I can't grow my new. They might be, uh, rad Reeds reader. Someone else's pain might be, I hate my job. I need to get out. They might be a rad Reeds reader as well, so then you need to, they're obviously very different pains, so then you have to like pick which direction you're gonna go.

Mm-hmm. Right. Mm-hmm. And so we probably will, we've always said like, we're not in the business of helping other people make more money. Like that's not, we don't want to teach people marketing. We don't want to teach people how to launch courses. We want to get closer to the actual pain than the meta pain of like, help people.

Help people. Yeah. Um, and so then, so let's say it's like helping people leave a job that they don. Right. So we might write a series of content on it and just like see like, are people responding to this? Are, are they clicking, are they sharing it? We might make a, a bunch of tweets around different angles on like that.

And are people retweeting? Are people commenting on it? Uh, we might do a free event. That's like, hey, like, Kay, you know, Kay, quit his job on Wall Street and he's gonna answer any of your questions, and we might see like, how many people will attend a free event. Mm-hmm. Then we might say like, we'll do like a paid workshop, like 99 bucks, you know, can we get a hundred people to pay 99 bucks?

Mm-hmm. Right. Um, and it's just, it's a long, long process because, Oftentimes it's, you're wrong about your thesis. Yeah. Uh, and so then you need to pivot. But again, that, that's like, uh, that just assumes that you're going to sell. Solutions to people's problems. Like that's a business model. Like I will, you will pay me and I will solve your problem.

Mm-hmm. You could do it through coaching, you could do it through courses. You could do it through a book. Right. A book is kind of like solving someone's problem. Mm-hmm. But there's whole other models, right? It's like, well, what if we just get tons of people to follow us and then we just sell sponsorships?

Yeah. Right. That's a different model, but that means we already established that K in particular is not. Like Dickie Bush where he could just like push a button and just like add 10,000 newsletter. I was doing the math. It would probably take us, if we continue at our pace, we'll add 18,000 newsletter subscribers this year.

Yeah. Which is great. But it's 40 to 68. 58. It's not like, you know, you're, if you're selling sponsorships, you're making the same amount of sponsorship money. Yeah. At between 40 and 58. Right. You need like a hundred to get into a whole nother stratos. And so then the question is like, well, do we know how to get to a hundred?

And that's its own set of quick conversation, cuz that then you're back to the question about writing tweet threads and, and doing all that. So it, it, it's, you're it's, it's kind of like a game of I don't have this, is this game? Um, or you're in England? Yeah, in the uk. Yeah. Um, like whackamole, like at Carnival.

Yeah. It's like a game of whackamole. It's like you figure out your prob your customer's pain, but then they don't want to pay. And then, or they, they tell you the thing they want to pay for, but you don't want to create it. Mm-hmm. Or you realize that you need a different business model, but then you have to do all these activities that you don't want to do to support that business model.

So it's this kind of, which is why if you want to do this for 30 years, you, it's gotta be, it's gotta be sustainable. Right. Very true. Those questions come up all the a hundred percent. They're not, they're, but again, they're not easy to answer. But if you find joy in the process of it all, mm, then you have the best shot of doing it, and you have the best shot of doing it in a sustainable way.


Akta: No, I, I agree with you. There's so many challenge challenges when it comes to being a creator. How do you try and balance both those things? So like growing the audience versus growing a business model, like are you trying to do. Both at one time or are you always focusing on one 

Khe: or the other?

There's an interesting lever in all this is that you can always be a creator and then do time for money, meaning coaching and like one-on-one work consulting and so on. So there that's always kind of in the sphere of, it's like always in the equation and it's kind of a dial that's much easier to like turn up and to turn.

Right. So right now we are pausing on our courses, but we just turned the dial up a little bit on coaching. Okay. And so that will, like, that will give us income to like, make it to the next, you know, like as we figure out what's next. So there's always like the, the different dials to push. I, again, I fundamentally believe like we are creators and so as creative people.

You have to put your best creative work out there. Mm-hmm. Right. And so I've dialed down our revenues like engine right now, but I've dialed up our creative engine. So like I went from writing, you know, 500 word essays on the weekends, and my last two essays have been like 3000. Oh, wow. So they're much longer.

They use, you know, 500 words will take me two hours, 3000 words will take me like eight hours, like a, mm-hmm. Like a day, probably more. 10, 12 hours. So there's a change there. Again, you're not gonna see it in money terms, but if you're consistently putting out 3000 word essays, like people are, the right people are reading and you know, people are reading them.

Like you're getting, you're deepening that connection. Right? Yeah. So that's kind of the, the, the way we play with the different dials. Uh, and then there's always this other dial, which is. You know, you know, top of funnel. It's like, how do people, you know, 3000 word essay, it's like, it's for your people, right?

There's not, you know, there's not new people finding it that often. Mm-hmm. Like, and 3000 word essays usually don't go viral. Um, so then it takes us back up to the top of funnel question, which is, you know, it's, it's where we struggle. It's like, how do you communicate your more deeper nuanced? You asked the question in a slightly different way.

How do you communicate your more deeper, more nuanced idea? In a way that is not super transactional. Super clickbait. Mm, super disingenuous, and we haven't figured that out. But one of our creative projects right now is to find a way. It's like, how can I do shorts? And TikTok videos that are not so candy, right?

It's like we don't wanna like serve you broccoli on TikTok cuz literally no one's on TikTok for broccoli. But like, maybe we could serve you like a lightly salted almond or something. Uh, as opposed to like everyone else that's just like jellybean, jellybean, jellybean, jellybean. Jelly being jelly. Being jelly being jelly.

Be jelly bean, right? Yeah. And so that's a creative challenge. I don't. If we'll crack the code like it's been three months and we have not had much success in our lightly salted almond contents. Uh, but again, it's, we're having fun. It's a great, I never did video other than live events, and it is a great way to learn editing.

It's a, a great way to learn storytelling without the huge upfront cost of YouTube. Yeah. Uh, and so we're building a new skill. People are finding us. It's not at the crazy rate that, you know, you would think, uh, you, you, you hear the stories of, you know, Alex Earl and that kind of stuff. Uh, but people are finding us.

But most importantly, we're having fun. We're learning are a new method of creativity, a new vehicle of, of story. And if you trust that you're getting better at that, like it, it will work out. Yeah. 

Akta: And I know you don't like being necessarily boxed in by a single mm-hmm. Niche or topic, but I feel like on Twitter especially, you're quite well known for the 10 K work Yeah.

Method. What mm-hmm. What is that? Like? What, how would you describe that to people? 

Khe: Yeah. The, the 10 K work method is, uh, is a way to be strategically lazy, uh, and. It really starts with a fundamental premise that about productivity that people miss, which is that all tasks are not created equally, right?

Mm-hmm. So someone might say, oh, I can like respond to Slack messages for the next 20 minutes. Or I could work on a long shot book proposal for 20 minutes, which is exactly what I did leading up to this call. I put my wifi, my laptop on wifi, and I'm like, I am working on a book proposal, right? And I did it for an hour, and like that hour was so dense in ideation and, and potential.

Yeah. But it was also very, it's like so non dopamine rewarding, right? Mm-hmm. Like I finished it, like I didn't even have anyone to share it with. Right. You know, uh, and so 10 K work is basically that idea that not all tasks are created equally, and you have to have this portfolio of these like quick dopamine inducing tasks like replying to your email and so on.

You have to do that. That's $10 work. A hundred dollars work is like setting up systems and like being more efficient and like how you do things, but efficiency will not make you more creative, right? You know that as a YouTuber, it's like efficiency helps for. Mm. Uh, and if you're in an inefficient YouTuber, it's gonna be penalizing and brutal.

But if you're the most efficient YouTuber, it doesn't make you a better storyteller. Mm-hmm. It doesn't improve your camera presence. It doesn't improve like this. Right. So then you get into a thousand dollars work, which is, um, the thing you're good at. So it's like being a YouTuber, right? Or being on camera.

Uh, and the skills that come with that. Again, camera presence, storytelling, editing, like things like that. And then there's 10 K work, which is like, Like, do I have a niche or like, how do people talk about me? Or how will people find me? Or I do, do I use unique formats to like, draw, draw dry people in? Or is my strength in editing and cinematography, uh, that is like, like the strategy?

Your YouTube channel would be your 10 K work. So everyone needs to sprinkle their work across the four quadrants. There's no like one quad, like don't do only $10 work, which is kind of like that low value work. Yeah. Uh, but sprinkle it across the four quadrants and especially that 10 K work, which is really planting seeds for the future.

Yeah. And really thinking strategically about your life and your. And your relationships, anything that's important, uh, in your life so that you make sure you get the most out of your, uh, out of your life. 

Akta: And how have you then applied that to your own business when you've also got team members and, you know, you are quite busy?

Like how do you balance, you know, the different areas of work across a team even? 

Khe: It's, uh, so the, it's a great question. Uh, it's, it's not easy. I think that the most powerful thing is that we have a shared. So we'll go into a meeting and we're like, that's $10 work. Like we were, we were debating some little editing thing for a little bit too long, and we're like, this is $10 work.

We need to stop talking about this. Yeah. Right. And then we'll go on the opposite side of things where it's like, You know, let's use like our short form video strategy where we're just like, for months we just like pumped out videos with no, like cohesion. We're just like trying stuff. So the 10 K work we said today is like, okay, we're gonna optimize for one thing for the next month.

How do we get the most comments? How do we create videos? And we'll get the most comments because then we're gonna reply to comments with more video com with like videos. Mm-hmm. Which has probably been the one insight that I've had on TikTok that was like, oh wow. Like the most score that I ever got was replying to a comment with a video.

Um, and so, so again, that was the strategy. So now the strategy is like, okay, we're gonna create videos for the purpose of attracting comments. Mm-hmm. For a month. Yeah, that's a 10 k, that's a strategy. Then we'll go back in and then we'll like go ideate on the videos, script them, film them, edit them, comment, reply to comments on them.

Then it's gonna get all these, these different levers. So we always try, we do a lot of thinking in our company, so we call them 10 K brainstorms. So where someone will, it's, think of it as it's a notion document, but like think of a a Google doc that's like, um, what experiments should we do on video shorts?

This. And then all those people will comment on it and then we will like, then we'll go for round two and we'll like distill the comments. And so we're like, okay, this month is all about engagement. Mm-hmm. Next month's gonna be all about um, skits. Like, cuz skits can communicate nuance. And that's actually something we're really excited about, cuz.

Skits because we, we are nuanced, like that's our strength is nuance. Yeah. Uh, and the skit is actually like a, you know, a jellybean way of communicating nuance Yeah. To people. Yeah. And so we're like, well, let's lean, but they're much harder, they're much harder to write, they're much harder to edit. So we always come up to these documents, these 10 K, and we make time to think, and then we'll like turn them into these like smaller implementation.

And then if someone's like, there was way too much $10 work, we're like, oh, like can we hire a contractor to help us do this? Or can we, do we even need to do this? Like we were debating, um, Should we put, uh, so a few people have told us that you want to caption the videos inside the platform. Mm-hmm. And, and we're like, we can't do that.

That's like too much $10 work. And like maybe there's like a little, little algo boost from doing that. Or like, we're not like, we can't play that game. We will lose that game cuz it's too much $10 work for our business. Yeah. And so again, that shared language, that constant reeva. 

Akta: Yeah. No, that's great. So I'm gonna end now with a quick fire round.

So I'm gonna Okay. A ask you some questions that I ask every creator that comes on air, starting with what's your favorite thing about being a creator? 

Khe: Oh, uh, my favorite thing is that every day is different. Mm-hmm. And I am the kind of person, like, I don't like Starbucks, I don't like, um, fast food cuz like, I don't, I don't want things to be the same every day.

I love when they're different every day. 

Akta: Yeah. No, I like that. And what's your favorite tool to help you create? 

Khe: Favorite tool To help me create, um, or as 

Akta: a creator. So like, just something that helps you with the creator business. 

Khe: I'm gonna, I'm, we're probably like, uh, skewing a little bit towards video these days, so I'm gonna say Des.

Oh, okay. It's so pow. It's been like a very powerful bridge from zero experience to video and editing to like, being able to make respectable videos without wanting to, um, you know, pull your hair out. 

Akta: Yeah. And what gives you the most inspiration for what you create? 

Khe: Oh, uh, reading paper. Yeah, I like reading paper books too.

No laptop? No, no. Not even Kindle. Just like same pen and paper folding stuff. Stumbling, you know, sticky notes like, 

Akta: yeah. Oh, it's cool. I like it. And what's something that helps you with your creator? Work-life 

Khe: balance, being a dad. Aw, that's 

Akta: sweet. Yeah. Nice. And what's one piece of advice that you would give to other creators?

Khe: Follow the things that make you come alive. Mm. Because I know that we all, myself included, are we want to chase the, like chase the trend. Chase the hot new thing, chase the format that gets the most followers. And like by all means, do that, experiment with that. But if that becomes your rek, then you're never gonna.


Akta: No, that's great. Thank you so much for coming on air. Honestly, it's been such a refreshing conversation because I feel like authenticity is obviously such a strong value for you, and that has obviously shown up in your creations and in your business. So thank you so much. I really 

Khe: appreciate it. Oh, thank you.

And thank you to all the, uh, listeners, the pleasure 

Akta: of mine. I love how Kate is making his creative journey sustainable by following his values, embracing the challenges, and considering what 10 K work looks. You can find Khe on twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. And if you are a creator and you want to do sponsorships the easy way, check out passionfroot.

I'll see you in the next one.