Chris Krimitsos | Founding Podfest Expo and Setting a Guinness World Record

Chris Krimitsos 2:50
Holacracy is really getting the architecture and hierarchy out of the way and creating circles within an organization. And then those circles kind of overlap. So it’s basically electing a leader and a team around a department. And then they kind of communicate with the other departments. And it’s meant to take bureaucracy out of the way. So for our events, so to speak, we do have a staff that runs it, but it’s a very small staff, compared to how big the event is. So we now are allowing our attendees to organize what they want in the event and giving literally what we will underwrite everything for them. So we’ll give them the room, we’ll give them everything. And then depending on what kind of event is how we work on it, they might pay for the AV or we might be able to find a sponsor to underwrite it, and it creates more value for the event. So last year was our most recent in person event, we have 2000 registered attendees. And we’re, we’re on a massive growth trajectory for this year.

John Corcoran 3:54
So how do you do this? How do you get all the attendees to devote their time to putting together an event? Well,

Chris Krimitsos 4:06
it’s not necessarily they’re not devoting their time to put together an event that it’s let’s say, you’re part of my community. And you say, Chris, I’d love to do a b2b event. I’ll say to you, John, I’ll tell you what, I got three other people. Let’s see if I could help you put it together. Here’s your room. Well, now we’re going to publish our calendar, now people are going to flood into that room. And now we have a b2b. We actually have a b2b event as part of what we do because of that. So we focus on edu b2b. We’re allowing the community to create at the speed of thought so our job is to stay out of the way. I married this with a different philosophy of mine which is called start ugly. Starting ugly is allowing yourself to experiment without guilting yourself for not doing it right. So we took last year, five concepts and we did we use start ugly, we embedded them into our system and what people don’t understand When you bring on, let’s say, someone like you brings on a b2b event to me, and we figure out how we have different ways we could do it, okay? For someone like you, it could be there’s a back end in your business or you’re happy to host it usually that’s the case, it’s easy for us to facilitate that it’s included in our ticket creates more value for the ecosystem. But now, what happens is, because you’re being incubated in an event that already has 1000s of people, the growth rate of that micro event is 10x, because it’s now being fueled by a bigger organization. And it looks better. It’s part of a bigger ecosystem. So the word of mouth spreads much quicker. So we’ve tested this, some of these events that we did last year was podcast editor con, we saw that there was an itch to get the editors together to leaders, it’s their conference, we did a joint venture, they’ve already grown tremendously, cinema voce, which was for voiceover artists, that are Spanish and English speaking. So we’ve tested it. And what we’ve noticed is they grow much faster, because if they were to do it on their own, get 25 people you’re not impressed. But when that 25 flows into a sea of 2000, the attendees are very impressed. And the word of mouth spreads, and it becomes much bigger, much faster.

John Corcoran 6:17
So it has to be something I imagined that people are passionate about.

Chris Krimitsos 6:22
Yeah, it helps if we have sex communicator con. So there’s a lot of sex communicators appeal to talk about relationships. We labeled the conference sex communicator because it gets everybody’s attention. But when I grew up as a kid, there was only three sex communicators, Dr. Ruth Joyce brothers, and then later on the guy from Mars, you know, women from Mars, Venus, Dr. But now there are 1000s of people that are relationship communicators. So now we’re able to give them a home. And that conference is huge. It’s, it’s, it’s growing very quickly for us.

John Corcoran 6:55
Wow, that’s cool. So at the risk of belaboring a point, how do you make sure that all the trains run on time? How do you make sure that the schedule that gets printed, that the speakers get lined up, that all those you know that the lunch happens on time, all that kind of stuff.

Chris Krimitsos 7:13
I have a really good team, we work very hard. I am, I’m big, my philosophy is pay really well. So you don’t like working with the C players, I do well dealing with the players. So I don’t mind paying a premium, it creates less headaches for me, I’m able to do more with less people. And also my schedule, I max it out. So I do 15 minute appointments. It’s rare that I have 45 minutes like this at the end of my day, I’m able to allocate for this, but it takes away from family time. So I’m, I’m very calculated in how I do things. Most of my appointments are 15 minutes or less. And we do more with that. And if I need to extend the time, we’ll create a second appointment. But I try to take as a community leader, you try not to silo yourself a lot of business owners do this. They silo communications. And you really, this is how you know you’re siloed if you’re a business owner, if you have a toxic employee and you’re the last person to know it, that’s usually you have siloed yourself and you’re not seeing what’s going on amongst your team. So for me I’m big on open communications with the community with my team. I want to know everything going on so that’s my style doesn’t mean it’s right or wrong. What works for me Yeah,

John Corcoran 8:28
now you’d been involved in TV years ago which kind of preceded your interest in podcasting as a medium and led to your interest in podcasting. You said you actually got kicked off the TV tell us a story about that.

Chris Krimitsos 8:43
Yeah, I have two shows where we had a millionaire mindset which is very easy and business owners talking about how they made a million dollars actually very boring after a while but it’s very formulaic and works well. Here’s what the person did, here they became successful and awesome. actually loved that shows. It was really peaceful. But the other show was a political debate show. That one would give me headaches, but it was the one everybody loved. We’d have polar opposites debating each other we would have you know, like democrat republican was not what we would go for that was like bread or nuts like peanut butter and jelly. We will go after at the time constitutionalist or socialist or religious fanatic verse atheist, and we would have polar opposites I got thrown off the air because what at 1.1 of the guests got enough argument and they walked off the air and threw a chair at the gas it got carried out all over every network in the country it was known as the chair incident you know, political debate goes Jerry Springer whatever. They got me just like politics, they get you for technicality. It has nothing to do with that, but that’s what they want to get you for but it’s not in the policy procedure. So I was able to get a First Amendment attorney Lularoe who represents most of the porn industry is one of the best because that’s where a lot of the best first amendment attorneys are. He got me pro bono he right, you know, and I was able to get back on. And then a year later they found some kind of loophole and got rid of me forever. That being said, it was a greatest training grounds for political debates how people think all the top lobbyist would come on what I loved about the people and the people that are true political animals, they were all buddy, buddy, after they talked to each other, they could debate each other, disagree, but they understood that they would never agree on certain issues. But if it truly was a family, we would all break bread after the show and debate issues. It was an amazing time. I loved it. But

John Corcoran 10:34
that was, that would have been a good show right there when you’re breaking bread afterwards. That’s when the truth,

Chris Krimitsos 10:39
We would only say that was the best show because that’s when they would Yeah, I mean, back then there was a likely election fraud isn’t like a new issue. But I remember back then one of the solutions, one of our democratic strategists said, we might as well just do urine testing to solve the issue because basically, you’re never gonna, he’s gonna argue about all the ashes, but it was this, we would find characters add funny solutions. And it’s a very, very fun show to produce. It wasn’t anything I wanted to pursue long term. But I enjoyed it. And then from there, I got into live streaming. At the time, Ustream was a military application that came out. And we were playing around with the live streaming on February 14, I believe, is 2004, which is Valentine’s Day YouTube comes out, I joined February 15 2005. I’ve been entrenched in video for a very long time. And I’ll tell you how I got into podcasting, because I think you’ll find it interesting. We created the community for the business owners out of the one show millionaire mindset. So I was able to transition and create 300 active members, and we were doing great.

John Corcoran 11:42
And this is but this is before like Facebook and social media. So what did that community look like was

Chris Krimitsos 11:46
just it was just being born, it was just being born. So all this stuff was just being born. We had to teach people web 2.0. I mean, you did understand the landscape of where we came from. And it sounds like you and I have a parallel track here. We would teach Facebook and people we had a one old timer come up to us and said I’ve been to every bookstore in the area. I cannot find the facebook, sell like, this is where people were coming from at the time, right? So people understood it. So we started teaching marketing groups, little meetups all over the town, teaching Twitter, web 2.0. At the time, WordPress was not the HTML Joomla. But we would crowdsource so we learned WordPress when we started using it very early, which gave a lot of us a leg up. But there’s a gentleman doing videos about his dad’s wine store. And I reached out to him and he came to speak, we booked them in 2009. And lo and behold, he wrote a book called crush it. That was Gary Vaynerchuk. And I remember at the time, he was trying to figure out his next steps. And he was going to be originally a venture capitalist, but he didn’t like taking the risks because he wasn’t sure. After a million people asked him to do their social media, that’s where he transitioned to. But I remember at the time, John Howard is charging $5 a meeting at these local restaurants. And what I didn’t understand, and this is what I’ve learned about business, it’s all about timing. But understanding the timing, Gary understood the timing of social media was an international play. And you understand doing a book would get them on everybody’s doorstep and be International. I was doing the very same exact thing. But in local restaurants, not understanding that people from Naples and Jacksonville were driving to pay five bucks that the value was much more than the $5. I was charging. So I promised myself the next time I saw a trend that was worthy of pursuing. I would go all in and that’s when in 2012 2013 I started watching podcasting grow and emerge. And that’s when I jumped into the podcasting space. The on demand audio side.

John Corcoran 13:46
Yeah, that’s smart to jump into that way. But it was slow going there. Early days. I think you had 13 people and that was your first meetup. Right.

Chris Krimitsos 13:56
Yeah, the first meeting was so we were doing meetups and the speaker Steve Cherubino, who we affectionately titled the podfather local here in Tampa, the original podfather’s Adam curry, but for Steve, we call them the pod father and he, um, after we were done, you know, I hosted a meet up 13 people spent all month promoting it. I said to him, how many people do you have listening to your show and he had a show called Android app attics. All they would talk about is Android apps. So in my head, you know you’re thinking 100 people’s good 50 people. I just met 13 people at Mimi’s cafe. He says you have about 4000 that goes out yearly. He goes no like every week I go how many shows you’re doing week goes one. We have 4000 people listening to you talking about apps. He goes yeah. And I was stunned. And he looked at me and he said, I know I know. I’m trying to get my numbers up, Mike dude. We just finished. I spent a whole month with 13 people. You got to go home in your underwear. You got 4000 people listening to what app you like. I think I think I need to learn what you’re doing. And that’s when he said, You know, this guy just bought my course and he’s doing pretty well. You should follow him. I go Who is he goes to school, a kid named John Lee Dumas seems like He’s gonna do well. And I started following John Lee Dumas. And he hadn’t started his program yet but seeing his growth, and he wasn’t that good when he started told me that this area is going to really grow. And that’s, that’s why we went from there.

John Corcoran 15:13
I remember I met John, three months after he started his show. And he was surprised I met him at actually it was called Meet New Media Expo, which is kind of similar in Vegas. Yeah, yeah, exactly. And he was surprised that I had heard of his show at that point. But he was smart, because everyone else was going this way he went that way everyone else was doing these weekly shows or monthly shows. And he said, I’m going to do it daily. And he also put a system behind it. So he, you know, crammed it down, got all the work done one day a week, and then systematized all the rest, which is really smart. So we’re recording this in January 2021, COVID hits about a year ago, and you’ve got a live event business, what happens for you? What did you know? What was that? Take me back to what that was like, Who knew what was going through your mind? What did you decide to do?

Chris Krimitsos 15:58
So December, January, February, we’re promoting like crazy tickets coming through the roof over 2000. attendees were like about to shatter records for us. And we’re really excited. And then I go to this meetup. We’re holding in Orlando, some kid shows me some Instagram videos of these hospitals getting over in China. And it looks like the zombie apocalypse. And he’s like, this is coming for us. And I’m like, I go, how sure are you and I started paying attention somewhere. late, early February, and I’m like, this doesn’t look good. had a friend in California and a nurse . He started telling me information. For the first time in my life. I’m nervous. Not about am I going to hit my numbers, all the other business metrics, but are people going to survive? attending my meeting? And am I putting people’s health at risk. And I remember driving and almost blacking out at the wheel from the pressure of thinking someone might die from something I create. I’ve never had that pressure in my life ever before. I went home to my wife, my wife happens to wear a full time podcasting couple. So I’m on the event side, but my wife is one of the largest guided meditation podcasters in the world. So she luckily says to me, can you control these things outside of your scope? I said, I can’t. She goes, if the state or the government shuts down your event, you have no control over that. Is that correct? I go Yes, that’s correct. She goes in, there’s no point in worrying about it. Just take it one day in one moment at a time. Thank God for my wife and having such an amazing being in my life. I then just focus one step at a time. First thing we did is we created one of the first who now is commonplace, but we have to create a safety protocol and procedure. We create a color coding system of people having the badges I sent. Instead of having other peers that were marketing heavier in the noise, I addressed the noise. And I said I know that this is what’s going on. And I got hundreds of Thank you emails for addressing the noise that was going on. Of how are we going to keep everybody safe and what are the protocol masks where nothing at the time you have to understand this is pre the thing. So we had our event. We finished on March the eighth. The next day the country effectively goes into shutdown. It doesn’t happen till A week later. But on that Monday is when they start showing the cruise ships 24 seven on a feat so no one’s gone to any events after that everything is being canceled real time. So we were able to lock in what we did. And then I went home and we actually didn’t do an event like two days later here locally in Tampa but then I went home and I remember what was weird for all of us that attended Podfest because our event is very community based very much like you we in our closing keynote is the audience we close with gratitude. Let the audience come up to the mic. So our closing keynote is the audience is a very rare, unique thing but I remember we left on a high and all of us went home and it was weird to go from that kind of high to like there’s nothing to do like it’s shut down. And that’s when I started I went into Tiger King mode and watched Tiger King, went down the Netflix rabbit hole. Honestly, I know, I was like one of those people my hair grew long beard. By the end of March I had absorbed what was going to happen. I thought at the time at the end of the year 2020 we probably would be back to normal

John Corcoran 19:17
Were you depressed during this time period?

Chris Krimitsos 19:21
I wouldn’t call it depressed but I would call it more like rudderless is the word I would use. I knew I was gonna do virtual events. But the reason why I was impacted is all my peers just lost what they did for a living and I love my peers. I’m like a collaborative human being. So I like seeing other competitive events too. I don’t like seeing people do not do well. I don’t think that’s a good thing for anyone. So I’m in an abundance mindset. So I started a group on Facebook Coronavirus support group for live events, you know promoters and then I just started supporting my peers how I could help them. But at the same time, I didn’t have much to do because I had to calibrate for the new thing in May when we did our first one day virtual event. And then that started what people in tech would say the flywheel towards where we are now with virtual events. But we didn’t calibrate till May.

John Corcoran 20:56
All right. So you ended up doing a virtual event for podcasters that actually set a Guinness Book of World Record, which is really cool. An official Guinness Book of World Record. Tell us about that.

Chris Krimitsos 21:08
Prior to that, we did a one-day test and what I would call it was kind of like a half assed virtual event where I pre recorded and then released some live ones because I was scared. I saw that that wasn’t a big deal. We had 874 people register. So we saw that people loved what we had to offer. And I was talking to a friend and he said, What are you going to do next? I guess I go, I guess I’ll do a virtual event. And he said, Why do you go for a Guinness World Record? And I’m like you think so does he have yet the same amount of work? Probably he goes, you’re gonna do it anyways. So I contacted the Guinness World Records, obviously they were shifting for virtual records. podcasting is very trendy. They said we’d love to be part of this. And they set the bar at 5000 attendees. We did what we did, because we didn’t know if people would go for it just to do it at that level, the cost, just based, cost around $50,000.

John Corcoran 21:57
Wow, you have to pay $50,000 to get the record?

Chris Krimitsos 22:00
No, not just get like that. Yeah, just software. If you’re talking to people, Guinness Guinness, there are licensing fees, for sure. Then you need your Facebook ads to run, you know, all the books, instead of doing like a low end event where you make some money. Got it. This is a very high Expense Type event. So for virtual anyway, so we said we’re all in. But what we did was we crowdfunded it to our community. And we figured, hey, if we could raise $5,000, in discounted tickets people could get behind it. What happened for us is we raised $20,000. And sponsors like Lipson came through. And we were able to do the event. And lo and behold, we were able to set the record by three,

John Corcoran 22:46
Wow, wow, that is close. Man, that is like,

Chris Krimitsos 22:52
calling up friends. They’re like, hey, if you want to be part of it, so we got part of the adjudication, though, would Guinness be a lot of people didn’t count. So your speakers don’t count certain things didn’t count. So even though we had like 5700 and change, once you took them all out, we made it by three. So imagine if we went the other way, we would have been screwed. But we were able to make it and the rest is history. Since then. We did. We’ve done two more events after that. And they went really well. And now we’re doing one last Guinness World Record to shatter that one.

John Corcoran 23:26
And then we’ll put it to a great lesson about putting yourself out there being willing to stick your neck out.

Chris Krimitsos 23:32
Yeah, I think it would. Honestly, if you asked me how much extra work was it might have been an extra 40 hours of work. But the difference it made in the trajectory of our business is night and day.

John Corcoran 23:44
That’s cool. I want to wrap things up shortly. But before I do that, since you are at the heartbeat of podcasting, watching it very closely. Where do you see it going from here? What are you excited about with the industry, the field?

Chris Krimitsos 24:00
Audio drama creation is a really growing field that’s like Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds we’re seeing those get picked up by Netflix, and they’re making series out of them. So you’re gonna see a lot of that because it’s written, fictionalized content, theater of mind. We’re seeing growth in India. Europe is growing in meditation, health and wellness is growing, I believe directly due to COVID. We’re seeing listeners be more sophisticated, more come online. So I don’t think we’re gonna see another growth phase here in the next five years. And just new voices being found. So we’re really excited right now. I try and teach people how to, to grow through our events, but there are ways to do direct audience acquisition through different resources, but we’re seeing a lot of amazing growth and new tools that like right now there’s no tool to buy and sell podcasting shows so You’re gonna see that tool pop up. There’s a lot of tools that haven’t been created yet that are still yet to be created.

John Corcoran 25:05
Yeah, that’d be a smart one if you don’t hear about people talking about that as much, but there’s, there’s plenty of shows out there that people have started and stopped. But it still has subscribers and people that would listen to it, so be smart to buy them. Now, before I wrap things up here, we were in or connected through Alexi Cashen, a client of ours, The Alexi Cashen Show, go check it out, especially if you’re in the wine industry. And you are president of your Tampa chapter for Entrepreneurs Organization, which is a wonderful organization. And you know, one of the big benefits of it, what I talked about a lot is the importance of building relationships and building a network connected with other like-minded individuals who are on a similar type of trajectory as you are. So talk a little bit about the role that EO is played being a participant in it for your business.

Chris Krimitsos 25:53
Yeah, it’s been great, because I get to meet other business owners that are growing and meet a lot of really great people. I actually like going to their regional and international events. So I love I’ll be at nirv later on this year, which is for the East Coast region. And it’s just been great to meet really like-minded people. So for me, what’s interesting is that because each one has its own pod, I’ve connected with some members and other pods, as if they’re in my home chapter because our values align very well. So it’s been great. And this year has been definitely a test to keep the momentum in the growth of our chapter because we’re a small chapter. So we had to really focus in to keep growing it during COVID. So it’s been a great lesson for me and leadership and how to kind of be of service to a committee in a group and in a community.

John Corcoran 26:46
Right, I’ve heard that from a lot of different chapters. That’s certainly the case. And I think that the EO overall deserves credit, because I have not seen an organization jump into action so quickly, when COVID hit every day, I’m getting an email and a text message with a list of five to 10 different events that were just designed around helping their membership to keep their head above water, keep focused, and it was just really a case study and, and how to handle your membership. It was really amazing.

Chris Krimitsos 27:17
They were very proactive. And you know, we, those of us that became president we took over in June, in July. So it was like talking about a trial by fire. But luckily, they had already kept like you said, they already calibrated by that point. So we had all these amazing options to keep everybody afloat.

John Corcoran 27:35
Right, for sure. All right, wrapping things up two last questions. I’m a big fan of gratitude. When you look around at peers, others in your industry, maybe others who are in the event space, who do you admire? Who do you respect? Who would you want to give a shout out to?

Chris Krimitsos 27:50
My fellow EO president out of Atlanta, Brad Stevens. He’s been there and I’ve been really great collaborators. And I guess we’re young fathers with the young family. So it’s just a shout out to Brad for all he does with his, you know, virtual assistant company and what he’s done helping people so he’s got to givers gain and really respect and appreciate him.

John Corcoran 28:12
Cool. And then the final question. Let’s pretend we’re at an awards banquet, much like the Oscars or the Emmys. And you Chris are receiving an award for lifetime achievement for everything you’ve done. Up until this point, what we all want to know is who do you think are your colleagues? Who are your friends? Who are the mentors, business partners, investors, who are the people you’d acknowledge in your remarks?

Chris Krimitsos 28:29
First and foremost, my wife is just an amazing partner in crime. My uncle Jimmy, he was very talented , he’s still around. Very talented business owner in New York City. He was the largest ice cream wholesaler and he was pretty. He has the best stories of dealing with the mafia and stuff. But he taught me a lot about appreciating life and not getting caught up in making money. And my Uncle George, who I love to death, but his kidneys went bad. In his late 60s, I remember him telling me, I had all the trappings of success, but I never enjoyed any of it. I worked my ass off and everybody saw my cars, my houses but they didn’t see the fact that I spent most of my life in a restaurant between four walls and he said now that I have some time to enjoy it. I’m an old man. I shuffle my feet like the old men I used to see come to my diner. So I love them to death and yeah, a lot of wisdom. I don’t care for money even though I need it for my family to have a comfortable life. The reason why I’m in the events business, I love experiences, the fact that I get to meet you through this confluence of your podcasts. I think experiences are what color life when you talk to the uncle Jimmy’s of the world and my neighbor marks the firefighter who helped people his life.

John Corcoran 29:56
That’s great, Chris, such a pleasure. Where can people go to learn more about you and connect with you?

Chris Krimitsos 30:02
Yeah, And, you know, my podcasting site is for the events that we do.

John Corcoran 30:09
And I’ll just say, you know, I know so many people that have been to your events, your podcast events and rave about it. So if you’re interested at all in podcasts and podcasting, check it out. We’ll all be back together again soon, Chris.

Chris Krimitsos 30:23
Thanks so much. Thanks, John.

Outro 30:25
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