Episode 68 - Kevin M. Ryan on Thuggish Anonymity, Zen + Motorbikes and Cash Multiples
Everyone knows Kevin Ryan. Whether from reading his iMedia Search column, watching him take the SES conferences ever more global or from his SEM work at IPG, Motivity, Kinetic or Walstrom. You've heard of Kevin Ryan or seen him in action at every digital media event. Now discover his latest incarnation. Suz and Kevin catch up on the ch-ch-ch-changes at SES, the future of search engine marketing, the companies he's tracking around the world and one of his favorite authors, Lee Siegel. Lee wrote "Against the Machine: Being Human in the Age of the Mob," and sat down with Kevin at a recent SES keynote. Find out what Lee means by "thuggish anonymity" and how our lives are being "packaged like merchandise."
Speaking of books, Kevin is writing one too. Tune in to get the scoop on DishyMix. Kevin talks about his worst "fork in the road" bad decision; his most decadent pleasure and how he achieved his new Zen approach to life. The hop on Kevin's BMW R12 motorcycle, introduced in 1928 as a bike used by the German military, for an imaginative journey out of Manhattan and into upstate New York as the fall leaves are changing.
Announcer: This program is brought to you by PersonalLifeMedia.com.
Susan Bratton: Welcome to Dishy Mix. I’m your host, Susan Bratton. And on today’s show, you’re going to get to meet Kevin Ryan. Kevin is the CEO at Motivity Marketing and he’s the Advisory Board chair at the Search Engine, Strategies Conferences, which are run by Incisive Media.
He recently had a great run there, kind of reprogramming and revitalizing that whole organization and you’re going to get to find out what Kevin Ryan is going to now and next.
But, before we get into that, I want to let you know that every week when you listen to Dishy Mix, you hear about goodies from my guests. My guests come bearing gifts for Dishy Mix listeners. And I have a lot of schwag and I want to give it to you.
So, let me tell you about some of the stuff that I have for you. I have Dave Evan’s new book, “Social Media: An Hour A Day.” I read it; he’s personally autographing copies for Dishy Mix fans. It’s really good. And he’ll write it – make it out directly to you. And he’s coming on the show soon.
I’ve got John Zogby, who gave me some wonderful copies of “The Way We’ll Be: The Zogby Report on the Transformation of the American Dream.”
Alex Bogusky gave me a couple of copies of “Hoopla,” that’s the book about Crispin, Porter + Bogusky. And he gave me some cycling jerseys, some pink “Hoopla” cycling jerseys. So, if you’re a bicycler, you might to snag my schwag.
Pete Blackshaw, I still have a few copies of “Satisfied Customers Tell Three Friends. Angry Customers Tell 3000: Running a Business Today’s Consumer-Generated World.”
Paul Woolmington, came to us with lots of goodies. He’s got some Naked Communications books called “House of Naked,” and he has some Naked On Tour tee-shirts, which I think are really well designed.
And Gina Bianchini has offered up some NING-emblazoned tchotckes, maybe you’d like a NING coffee cup or some goodie.
So take advantage of these. Maybe you’re listening and you’re saying, “ah, no, the stuff is all gone.” I still have a lot of good tchotckes and one has your name on it.
How do you get it? Just go to my Dishy Mix Facebook fan club. Go to Facebook, search on DishyMix, all one word, you’ll find my fan club, just post on my wall there and tell me what you want and I’ll see if I can get it for you. Make it a good post and let me send you something fun.
So, let’s get on with our show, but I wanted to make sure you got access to some major schwag.
So, we’re going to talk with Kevin today and some of the things we’re going to talk about are, thuggish anonymity, his Zen approach to life. Apparently, this is new found and we want to hear about it.
We’re going to talk about cash multiples, expensive wines and one of Kevin’s passions, motorbikes.
Kevin Ryan: And, you get hooked on the start-up environment. It’s like being hooked on crack, you really need it and the bigger the company becomes, the more corporate it becomes, the more process-oriented it becomes, and the entrepreneurial people among it, it becomes more difficult to survive in that type of environment.
And, all these places that I’ve been in Continental Europe and Asia, it’s really giving me – given me an interesting perspective on the world. It’s a lot less concerned with getting up and getting there than I am with gaining an understanding of what the wants and needs of the people around the world are and what’s the cultural disparities from one market to the next and how to accommodate them.
So, I can tell you that there are some really exciting areas in the vertical interest categories, like in the areas of healthcare and some of the other recreational activities that are really gaining ground and really doing well.
Everything we say and do is being placed on tight social sites like Facebook, My Space and, in addition to that, we have, you know, the downside of some of these – the vertical sites is that all of our information is being placed for public consumption. And, how much time do we have left actually to really enjoy our lives?
Susan Bratton: Welcome, Kevin Ryan.
Kevin Ryan: Well, thanks for having me. I’m just sitting here mapping out all of the expertise that Google has lost over these last couple of years and trying to find out where everyone is going.
Susan Bratton: Oh, right, so you call this the Google Diaspora, is that right?
Kevin Ryan: Actually, it appears in Esquire Magazine, last month and just appeared in the, I saw it in, Search and Demand as well.
Susan Bratton: And, everybody’s leaving Google now? They’ve vested their stock options and they’re getting picked off?
Kevin Ryan: You know, it’s just amazing, I look at the number of people who are still at Google, who have vested.
Susan Bratton: Yeah.
Kevin Ryan: And, you know, it’s really interesting to me what compelled them to stick around. There’s this, obviously, quite a few people, they named 35 or so on this list, that, you know, gone on to do something else.
They have these, these are entrepreneurial people that they have the burning desire to go out and do something different. They miss the start-up environment. You know, when you get hooked on the start-up environment, it’s a little like being hooked on crack. You really need it. And, the bigger the company becomes, the more corporate it becomes, the more process-oriented it becomes and so the entrepreneurial people among us, it becomes more difficult to survive in that type of an environment.
Susan Bratton: Yeah, I know that when we started Personal Life Media, Tim and I, it was our eighth start-up between us. So, once you’re good at that, it’s a unique environment and it’s a very compelling environment and so I certainly understand that they’re going to lose people. People can’t stay at those campuses forever. And those campuses are ginormous and, I’ll tell you, if you’re over 35, you go there everyday, you feel a little old. I mean, it is a lot of kids there now. Don’t you think?
Kevin Ryan: It’s a lot of kids and I wonder – I‘ve actually been some more Google offices around the world than I think I have been to Incisive offices around the world. And, it’s just amazing, the consistency of the culture at every office, the consistency of the mentality of the people there. It’s absolutely impressive, but at the same time, overwhelming. And I do feel old. [laughter].
Susan Bratton: So you’ve really – for the last, probably almost year and a half, you’ve been, I wouldn’t call it reinventing SES, but really making a lot of changes.
I always have the sense that SES had become a little formulaic and it seems to me in looking at the work that you’ve been doing over the last year and a half, that you’ve made a lot of changes.
I know that now you’ve kind of segue way’d out of there, you’re moving on and you’ve got a lot of other things you want to do, which I want to hear about, but just tell me what you think in your perspective where the biggest changes or the most impact that you had in your time as really the hands-on person rather than more of the advisory board person for SES.
Kevin Ryan: Well, sure, what was really necessary, I think, from the perspective of the company was that they desperately needed a restructuring so that the company wasn’t so entirely focused on the single point of failure. It’s creative…
Susan Bratton: …you mean, Danny, is that Danny Sullivan, the single point of failure?
Kevin Ryan: No, and I mean, and this is, well, in Danny’s instance, it was a single point of success. I mean, the man created this amazing event series in the portal.
Susan Bratton: Yes.
Kevin Ryan: But once, he was no longer there, the company was in dire need of restructuring. And, the event was in dire need of restructuring…
Susan Bratton: Yup…
Kevin Ryan: …I think.
Susan Bratton: I didn’t mean that negatively, by the way.
Kevin Ryan: Yeah. I actually, very much admire Danny and the last time I was out in California, I stopped in to say hello.
Susan Bratton: Right, he moved back to Orange County, right?
Kevin Ryan: Goodness, yes. He’s actually about two or three blocks from - blocks, New York Talk. Blocks from my old haunt in Newport Beach there.
Susan Bratton: That’s funny.
So, you – what were the big changes that you made at SES? Or maybe something that you feel like was your most proud mark?
Kevin Ryan: I think, you know, creating really the sibling brand of the line extension brand to the form events in Europe. Western Europe was often a very distinct sort of challenge for SES. When most of us think of Europe, or most Americans think of Europe, they think of Europe as one entity.
But, actually, there are – each country has its own unique demands, its own unique culture and its own unique structure. So, it was very important to create geographically relevant and culturally-relevant events and that’s what we typically reform event series. And also breathe some new life into the U.S. events as well.
The U.S. events are absolutely ginormous and they require a lot of attention. And now, with the new competition in the marketplace, challenging dynamics in the world of economics, the world is a different place, so it definitely needed some new thinking, some new thought leadership and I think that was my biggest contribution.
Susan Bratton: You spent a year and a half, really, on the road, going to all of these places. And you said that traveling around the world in this last year has given you much – a much more Zen approach to life.
Tell me how this Zen approach to your life has manifested.
Kevin Ryan: I, you know, I spent the early part of my career being really edgy and hell-bent for leather on, you know, getting successful and getting known and that sort of thing. And, over the last year, it seems spending so much time immersing myself in these cultures, from Tokyo to Paris to Hamburg and the U.K., and everywhere in between, all these places that I’ve been in Continental Europe and Asia, it’s really given me - given me an interesting perspective on the world.
It’s a - I’m a lot less concerned with getting up and getting there, than I am with gaining an understanding of what the wants and needs of the people around the world are and what the cultural disparities from one market to the next and how to accommodate them.
Susan Bratton: Interesting. That could give you a lot of good opportunity in whatever you do next. And we’re going to talk about some of the things you’re doing next. But I want to go back to a question that I’d asked you in preparing for this. And, I asked you what was your worst fork in the road bad decision was that you regretted. And you said, launching a professional services company that you didn’t structure the company correctly and no matter what you did the cash multiples would never be there.
You know, you’ve been in the events business, you’ve seen that model. You’ve done the service model, apparently, incorrectly your first time out of the chute. What are you going to do with all of this knowledge and how does it apply to what you’re doing now, going forward?
Kevin Ryan: Susan, talking about professional services companies, no matter what you do, no matter the amount of work and blood, sweat and tears that you put into these things, it’s only going to be worth 2-1/2 times revenue on a very good day. And, at the end of the day, that’s an awful lot of work that just won’t scale.
And, as we come more and more excited with a lot of the verticals that are establishing the vertical interest categories, the vertical interest sites, not unlike sites like Personal Life Media, they’re doing some amazing things that will scale out to millions of people very, very efficiently and there have been a number of companies that have kind of approached me to either sit on their board as an advisor or help them facilitate – facilitating coming into the market.
Susan Bratton: So, you’re thinking maybe more, less of a services, more of a product, even if it could be a virtual product or an online property as something that you might like to try next?
Kevin Ryan: Absolutely, and, in fact, I mean there are some of them that I’m doing now, unfortunately, I can’t say which specific companies they are because there are often confidentiality agreements that come along with the type of assistance that I provide, so I can’t say which ones. But, I can tell you that there are some really exciting areas in the vertical interest categories, like in the area of healthcare and some of the other recreational activities that are really gaining ground and really doing well.
Susan Bratton: Well, I want to take a break and when we come back, I want to cover a couple of things. I want to know what you mean by “thuggish anonymity,” because you’ve coined that term, perhaps? And I want to hear more about that.
I want to talk about the digital mafia with you. I want to talk about your book and when it’s coming out. I want to hear your perspective on the future of Search, I’ve got a lot of questions.
We’ve got to talk about wine and motorbikes. So, we’re going to go to a break and thank our – my sponsors who let me have this time with you.
I have some new sponsors too, so I’m hoping that, if you’re listening to the show, you’ll also keep a keen ear for my sponsors. There’s some nice offers that people custom create just for Dishy Mix and I hope they’re germane to you.
So, we’re with Kevin Ryan, he’s the CEO at Motivity Marketing. I love the name Motivity, Kevin, you did a great job with that. It’s a really catchy name. It has a lot of motion, activity, it’s really good. I just love it. It’s a great sneaklet.
So, we’re going to go to a break and when we come back, we’ll talk to Kevin about all kinds of fun things.
I’m your host, Susan Bratton. Stay tuned.
Susan Bratton: We’re back and I’m Susan Bratton. We’re here with Kevin Ryan, CEO at Motivity Marketing.
So, Kevin, tell me what this thing is “thuggish anonymity.”
Kevin Ryan: Well, it’s the discussion about Lee Siegel really talked about it in his book and I asked him to come in, you know, in San Jose and we just did a fireside chat and we talked about the world as we know it and the social constructs that exist now on the Internet with – on the basis of everyone has a voice, everyone has an opportunity to express an opinion. And that’s something that we never really had before.
And I think Lee may have actually started to use the term “thuggish anonymity.” Basically, people feel falsely empowered when they’re blogging, when they’re anonymous on the web, they can say anything they want. They can do whatever they want. And they don’t think about the consequences of their actions and what they’re saying and doing, what it actually means.
And, there’s a great deal of them in the search category that care nothing about accuracy, care nothing about the implications of what they’re saying and their primary interest is gaining some link equity, getting a lot of people to link into the site because they’ve used something that’s just absolutely, it’s not even thought provoking, it’s just controversy for the sake of controversy.
Susan Bratton: So, I was reading a little bit about this Lee Siegel. I’d like to read an excerpt and then talk about it with you. May I do that?
Kevin Ryan: Sure, yeah.
Susan Bratton: Okay. So, Lee Siegel wrote the book, “Against the Machine: Being Human in the Age of the Mob.” Now, what I’m reading you is an excerpt from a review by Louis Bayard on Salon.com, about Lee Siegel’s book.
He says: “Siegel may have liberal credentials, but he is making, at bottom, a conservative argument: in favor of gatekeepers and cultural elites, against the cacophony of untrammeled opinion.
In the same way that Edmund Burke regarded the guillotine in the Place de la Révolution, Siegel regards Gawker and YouTube. And when he writes that “the Internet is possibly the most radical transformation of private and public life in the history of humankind,” he doesn't mean “radical” in a nice way (any more than Burke did). Bad times are a-brewing. The “borders of truth” are eroding. Knowledge is “devalued into information.” Americans are producing, not enjoying, their own leisure. Our interior lives are being “packaged like merchandise,” and “the sources of critical detachment are drying up, as book supplements disappear from newspapers and what passes for critical thinking in the more intellectually lively magazines gives way to the Internet's emphasis on cuteness, novelty, buzz, and pursuit of the ‘viral.’”
I loved that. I thought that was very interesting. What struck you about that as you were listening.
Kevin Ryan: Well, I first, I see a lot of people talking about their – the new social construct, if you will. How we’ve become detached from our own emotions and everything that we say and do is now a matter of public discourse.
Susan Bratton: Right, we’re twittering – not frittering our lives away, we’re twittering our lives away.
Kevin Ryan: We’re twittering our lives away. We’re stumbling upon things. We have a new,. annoying Facebook application every day. Everything we say and do is being placed on sites, social sites like Facebook, My Space.
And in addition to that, we have, you know, the downside of some of these vertical sites is that all of our information is being placed for public consumption. And, how much time do we have left actually to really enjoying our lives is something probably entirely separate in the sense of discussion.
Susan Bratton: So, let’s move right there. I can’t resist a fabulous segue way – really enjoying our lives. Let’s talk about expensive wine.
Kevin Ryan: Well, it’s – good wine does not have to be expensive. Good wine is often expensive.
Susan Bratton: Yeah.
Kevin Ryan: Which is a complication or byproduct of production, I think, and supply and demand.
The combination of the Euros rise over the dollar, along with what’s happening with Italian wine producers is just, they’re producing some amazing wine. Gaia Toscosai [sp}, Torasi Radici [sp] and some of these labels that people have never heard of and never associated Italian wines with this level of luxury that their Barolos are just absolutely amazing. Everybody that I know in the wine world is absolutely obsessed with Italian producers right now.
In fact, Sergio Esposito just – the Italian wine merchant’s brand, just released a book called, “The Passion on the Vine,” which is a great read.
Susan Bratton: So, I have made a change to my consumption of wine recently. I noticed that I’m actually not drinking as much wine as I used to. I’m sure that’s a sign of my age. But, I also noticed the $15 and $20 bottles of wine that I would have with dinner weren’t satisfying me. I was disappointed continuously. So, I decided to try a little experiment and I said, “all right, well, I’m drinking less, so why don’t I pay a little more and see if it’s worth the money?”
Now, when I go to the grocery store or the wine shop or wherever I go, and I actually am buying a lot of wine right now, because when Tim and I were going to sell our house, we essentially sucked all the wine down out of our wine cellar. We just got rid of it, started drinking it, popped the old stuff, because we weren’t going to transport it if we were moving our house. So, we have nothing left.
Kevin Ryan: I’m really sorry I missed that part, by the way.
Susan Bratton: While you were in like, Western ‘Bulgabia’, you know, reinventing SES, dude, we were out here in California sucking down some good stuff. [laughter]
But we don’t have any wine left, we’ve got an empty wine refrigerator thing in our kitchen. So, I’ve been buying a lot of wine. Well, I upped it to $20 to $25, sometimes I’ll creep into $30. And, I’ll tell you that my satisfaction has increased 100% on the wine that I am consuming now. It’s almost like that threshold has really moved up in the last ten years. There really aren’t very many good $15 or even $20 bottles of wine now.
And, if you’re going to pop a bottle of wine, you’re actually going to savor something. Throw another five or ten at it. That’s my motto. And it’s working for me.
Kevin Ryan: [laughter]
Susan Bratton: And this is my day, my daily stuff; that works, that’s a price range that I can support and works for me.
Kevin Ryan: I think that’s a great philosophy. And I’d even say, enjoying the wine doesn’t mean that you – that you have to be consuming mass quantities of it. There’s a lot of – there’s a lot of great stuff, I think. Just my personal opinion is that California is a bit overpriced. I think Napa’s a little bit in love with itself.
Susan Bratton: Yeah, and I’m tired of them.
Kevin Ryan: It’s the, I mean, just the Phelps Insignia, I’m on basically, in New York, you have only, you have a couple of choices to buy wine and none of them are inexpensive. So I actually have everything that I’m drinking shipped in from California.
There’s a huge store, an online store, called K&L…
Susan Brannon: Yeah, I love K&L, K&L Wine Merchants.
Kevin Ryan: Oh, it’s great stuff. They just – they have some imports coming in from France that the running joke in French wine is that they send the Americans the garbage that they don’t want to drink. But K&L actually has some really decent stuff.
So, actually, I’ve gone out to all the websites of the producers that I like and I get their wine club shipments and they, you know, October is a fun time to be hanging out with me because all of the producers in California start shipping again and all their releases come out.
Susan Bratton: Oh, that’s great.
Kevin Ryan: But I do think California is falling in love with itself just a little bit too much, particularly, some of those Napa producers like Phelps Insignia is not worth $200 a bottle, I’m sorry.
Susan Bratton: No, it’s insane. I agree with you.
I recently put together an ad program for a lot of the shows on my network. I have a lot of green and sustainable living and what I would call “LOHAS-oriented content.” You know what ”LOHAS” is? Life styles of health and sustainability. So people who want to choose products that are better for them. And I thought, “wow, a really good potential product would be organic wine for my listeners.”
Because I have “Living Green” and “Green Talk Radio” and “Buddhist Geeks” and all kinds of fun shows like that. And so I found the company that had the highest search rankings for organic wine and it was the organic wine – the French Wine Company, and they have a URL called Ecowine.com. And I was like, “oh, sweet.” And I actually worked with them to put together a three-pack of wine; a white, a red and a sparkler. It’s a French brother and sister and they grow all the grapes on their own property and then they – and it’s all organic, and so they put a package together, a three-bottle pack.
I wanted an offer that would be good on my podcast. So you get a free bottle of wine when you buy the three-pack, you only pay for two and they pay for shipping. And so, I’m testing that offer right now. This is a fairly new campaign running through a lot of the different shows on my network. And, you know, testing my assumption, I think consumers would be interested in wines grown in a family vineyard that are organic and get a free bottle of wine. And so, I’m trying that out.
So, just – if you want to try it or [laughter] anybody that’s listening wants to try it too, you can get this too, you don’t have to listen to the ad, you just use promo code “green” when you check out. You just go to ecowine.com and buy the French Bouquet Sampler and use promo code “green,” and you’ll get your free bottle.
And so, I’ve tried that wine. I really like their wines and I like the fact that they are organics. So, it’s a nice gift, I’m thinking about gifting that out over the holidays to people and things like that too.
So, I’m dabbling in the eco-wine world myself and that’s fun.
Kevin Ryan: Yeah, there’s smaller producers and some of – there’s absolutely some amazing stuff coming out of them. There’s a producer, I believe it’s in Westport, which is part of Napa, correct?
Susan Bratton: Yes, it is. Uh, huh.
Kevin Ryan: Called Lewis Cellars and they produce every year a blend, a Bordeaux blend called Alec’s Blend…
Susan Bratton: Okay.
Kevin Ryan: …which is Alec’s Blend and it’s just absolutely amazing and it’s not ridiculously – ridiculously expensive, it’s probably $50 or $60 a bottle.
Susan Bratton: Well, what I’ll do is I’ll make sure I put a link to that in the episode description of this show. So, anybody who’s listening and they’re on their airplane or whatever, we – can just come back and find it. So, I’ll do that.
Before we end the show, one of the things that I want to make sure I do is tap your intelligence on the future of Search. Now that you’ve been all over the world and you visited every Google HQ in every country, you know, and you’ve spent this time immersed in this marketplace, you know, you’re kind of at that edge where you’re pulling back enough that you have some perspective. Would you net out where you think Search is going or what you think some of the hot, upcoming trends are or however you would filter an answer like that so that it would be valuable to my listeners and maybe something that would be actionable for them?
Kevin Ryan: Sure. Well, I am into every Google office, but I have been to quite a few.
Susan Bratton: Okay.
Kevin Ryan: And, you know, like I said, I was pretty impressed with them. I think over the next few years what we’re going to see is a lot of convergence in terms of the media buying models that exist today.
We see a lot of success with the auction-based model and Google’s achieved formidable levels of success at the auction-based model around the world. So, I think a lot of that will come together. I think you’ll start to be able to amass buyer media in one or two locations or multiple locations using an auction-based model. And, most of the folks today I talk to in media today are very interested in keeping an eye on this because that world is very dynamic and it’s changing tremendously.
Beyond that, keep an eye on Eastern Europe. I have plans to head over to Moscow as far as the new vice president doesn’t start a war with Russia. I’m praying that she doesn’t [laughter] that in that position – not to go political. The debates are on tonight – the vice president debates. Nothing will guarantee McCain never being as fascinated than having that vice president.
But I’m watching what Yanbex is doing in Russian – Y-A-N-B-E-X.
Susan Bratton: Okay, what’s that?
Kevin Ryan: It’s – Yanbex is a big Russian search engine.
Susan Bratton: Oh.
Kevin Ryan: And they’re experiencing now Google-like growth year over year. The growth that we saw here in the United States from Pagesearch around 2002 to like 2004, which triple digit growth year over year. It was the time when the search industry went from hundreds of millions to billions, seemingly overnight. So, I’m keeping an eye on what’s going on there.
And, along with the auction-based model, I think that’s absolutely the future of what we’re – the future of media buying as we know is going to be in that auction-based environment.
Susan Bratton: Okay, that’s good to know.
I’m thinking about, what was the auction company - Right Media – that Yahoo bought? Where you can...
Kevin Ryan: Right.
Susan Bratton: …bid on media?
Kevin Ryan: Yeah.
Susan Bratton: So, it’s different that an ad network?
Kevin Ryan: It’s the moral equivalent of an ad network, the pricing model that is auction-based.
Susan Bratton: Yeah. You see a trend there?
Kevin Ryan: I’d say, I’ve seen enormous trend and these people want accountability and they are assigning value to everything that they buy in ways that they hadn’t been before. Where we used to be immediately concerned with the CPM and backing that out to a conversion metric. We’re now backing out the auction-base and providing a range of what we can afford and what we can buy and what we can’t buy.
And, that’s forcing an absolute transmogrification of the analytics industry and more and more people are investing, you know, we talk about vaguely what’s happening with analytics and success measurement. There was a great study that was released earlier on this year that talked about what advertisers are going to be investing heavily in over the course of the next year. And, overwhelmingly, what they talked about was the heavy investment in analytics.
What we didn’t see in that particular report and any of the reports that I’ve seen subsequent to that, yes, we know that people are going to be investing more in analytics but we don’t know exactly what they’re going to be investing in. And, my educated guess says that they are investing in trying to determine what, what the range of success metrics will be appropriate for them.
Susan Bratton: It’s interesting, I just had dinner last night with Jim Sterne. He’s the chairman of the Web Analytics Association, better known as WAA. And, you know, Jim Sterne, right?
Kevin Ryan: Absolutely, love Jim.
Susan Bratton: Love him. Isn’t he just the best guy.
Kevin Ryan: He really is like a genuinely good guy in the business.
Susan Bratton: Yes, he is. And, so I happened to be at the Web Video Conference yesterday and he was at a conference that was concurrent with them. And, I saw him across the room and I’m like, “Jim.” I go running in fake slow motion across the room, you know. So, we ended up getting lucky enough to have dinner together and we were talking about the web analytics. We were talking about, you know, the financial meltdown and the industry and what – was it going to have a downturn? And Jim’s wearing his little WAA button and I said, “so what do you think?” And he said, “well, I think we we’ll be the last ones to go down, because when people tighten their belts, they care more about analytics and we think we’ll do very well and we’re in a growth spurt right now.”
And so it dovetails exactly what you were saying, Kevin.
Kevin Ryan: Absolutely, yeah. Oh, God, there’s no money left and we have to figure out how to better spend it.
Susan Bratton: Exactly.
Kevin Ryan: I think the meltdown will only add napalm to the fire, so to speak, in terms of the growth that we’re seeing in that area.
Susan Bratton: So, what’s your book about? You have a book? You’ve written books before; you’re a writer. And you’ve written for iMedia forever. Are you still writing for iMedia? I should know that.
Kevin Ryan: I wrote for – I was actually, I’ve approached them with the concept of having a search desk editor a long before Search became popular. But, I’ve been writing – I wrote for iMedia for I think five years. When I came into Search Engine Watch, I actually started to write for Search Engine Watch as well.
Susan Bratton: Yeah, because that would have been competitive. Yeah.
Kevin Ryan: I mean, maybe it is; maybe it’s, you know,…
Susan Bratton: Yeah, yeah, I know.
Kevin Ryan: It’s hard to say.
Susan Bratton: It’s all ego anyway.
Kevin Ryan: Yeah, I mean, for me, it’s really hard to juggle multiple publications and that’s kind of what I’m doing now. But I’ve been approached by another author to write a book about the next generation of opportunity on the web. You know, there’s a lot of people talking about how we – how people have made money in the first around or the first generation of dot com millionaires and I think we’re approaching now what we would refer to as the more sane or second generation of that.
So, that’s what the book is about. We’re expecting to get it out right around December or January. One of the reasons I moved out of Incisive and into Motivity is so I could spend more time and actually finish the book.
Susan Bratton: Yeah.
Kevin Ryan: I’ve finished the first round of the book.
Susan Bratton: How does it feel to be writing again – writing a book?
Kevin Ryan: Yeah, which is very different…
Susan Bratton: Yeah.
Kevin Ryan: …by the way, than writing a weekly column.
Susan Bratton: Is it hard?
Kevin Ryan: Putting those thoughts together is difficult.
Susan Bratton: Yeah. What do you do to focus yourself?
Kevin Ryan: I eat a lot of mushrooms. I go to Amsterdam and consume massive quantities of mushrooms.
Susan Bratton: Um, hmm.
Kevin Ryan: And, whenever I wake up, I just start typing.
Susan Bratton: That’s good because they have the freshest mushrooms in Amsterdam.
Kevin Ryan: Than anywhere. [laughter]. Yes, mushrooms have been decriminalized in Amsterdam. By the way, if you want to write anything, the worse thing you can do I think is probably take any kind of drug.
Susan Bratton: We know you were joking.
Kevin Ryan: Yeah, we hope so. I can see the quotes now in the sluggish anonymous blog, Kevin Ryan says do mushrooms.
You know, what I do is try to attach myself. It’s very difficult to write in New York. You know, you may have heard in the background there, sirens going. I live about two blocks from Ground Zero, partially because I wanted to be here and watch them rebuild it because I wasn’t here when they came down.
Susan Bratton: Partially because you like to know when the sales really happen at J&R Electronics.
Kevin Ryan: Yeah, I live in the biggest electronic store in New York. So, yes…
Susan Bratton: And you’re a toy and gadget freak. We really know the answer – bullshit – I’ll call them “bullshit” on the Ground Zero thing. It’s because you like the best price on your toys.
Kevin Ryan: You know the point is – an interesting sidebar but really stupid, crossing the, circumnavigating the globe is one thing that…one store in New York City that people worldwide, Eastern Europe, Central Europe, Asia, know all about. I mean, in Bulgaria, they know this store. It’s called Century 21.
Susan Bratton: Oh, yeah.
Kevin Ryan: It’s a huge discount store.
Susan Bratton: Yeah, discounted fashion.
Kevin Ryan: So I can pretty much walk into any country around the world and say I live two blocks from Century 21 and everybody will know where that is. [laughter]
If I say I live two blocks from Ground Zero, they’re like “nay, so that’s in Manhattan, right?”
Susan Bratton: Well, it’s a – we all love to shop, don’t we?
Kevin Ryan: Absolutely. So, I mean to answer your original question, I…
Susan Bratton: What was it?
Kevin Ryan: What do you do to stimulate the creative juices.
Susan Bratton: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Kevin Ryan: You know, I try to get away from it. I get out of the city as much as I can.
Susan Bratton: Yeah.
Kevin Ryan: I do some of my best writing when I’m flying.
Susan Bratton: Yeah.
Kevin Ryan: I do some of my best writing after, you know, four hours on a motorcycle.
Susan Bratton: But this is – wait, that’s my segue way right there.
This is how I want to end the show. You can say no if you don’t want to do this, but here’s what I want you to do.
I want you, and I know you can, because you’re a writer. So I want you to evoke your visual mind and I want you to put us on your motorcycle with you. I want you to tell us about your motorcycle, put us on there, drive us out of the city and into the country and right out of the show.
Kevin Ryan: [laughter]
Susan Bratton: Will you do it?
Kevin Ryan: Speaking of taking mushrooms…
Susan Bratton: [laughter]
Kevin Ryan: Sure.
Susan Bratton: Okay, we’re ready. I’m just going to sit back and relax and you’re just going to take us right out of the show. We’re ready – take us on a trip.
Kevin Ryan: You have to control your breathing. You have to be very aware of your surroundings. The background on the bike is it’s a German bike, it’s right out of Bavaria, it was a very limited production BMW R12, which was their cruiser model. They made, I don’t know, 400 of them. And I bought it accidently on September 4, 2001 and there’s a – it’s black, there’s not a lot of chrome. I’m not a big chrome guy; I’m not into shiny things.
And riding gives you a level of freedom and it’s very difficult to describe to anybody that hasn’t done it, but I’ll give it a whirl.
You don’t think about anything other than staying alive and enjoying the environment around you. And, you experience it in ways that you could never do riding around in a cage. You smell everything; you see and hear everything over the noise of the bike. The world around you, you become very aware of just how fragile you are. You become very aware of everything around you that you can – the sights, the smells, everything, it’s all there and it’s in your face.
So, for those of us with overactive brains, who spend a lot of time thinking, who have the type of overachieving imagination or overachieving mentality, that often precludes us from being able to just sit back, take a step back and think, riding actually allows you do to that. And it allows you to do it in a way that you can clear your mind, that you can become far more aware of your own mortality and the things that are around you in ways that you just can’t imagine.
And that, for me, is pretty much the riding experience; that’s why I love it so much. That’s why I wish I could do it more. It’s why I’ll probably end up back in California in the not-so-distant future so that I can spend some more time riding.
Susan Bratton: Umm, nice. And you ride out of Manhattan and up into the countryside of New York?
Kevin Ryan: Well, I actually have the bike permanently stored in Upstate New York in the wine country region, so I pile my very large, hairy child, which is a seven-year-old German Shepherd into my mom car, and I drive up and then I can pick up the bike and go riding. I ride around the Finger Lakes Region, which is a very, very beautiful part of New York.
Susan Bratton: Beautiful time to go there now, with the fall leaves changing, right?
Kevin Ryan: Absolutely.
Susan Bratton: Yeah.
Kevin Ryan: Just wear that winter coat.
Susan Bratton: Nice. Well, we have a welcome mat out in the State of California for you, Kevin Ryan. Want you to come back home anytime you can. And thanks so much for being on the show today.
Good luck getting the book done. I know it is no small feat, but you have what it takes to do it and we can’t wait to hear your opinions about that and anything you want to write about.
So, congrats on the change back to Motivity. I’m sure it’s going to be freeing – freeing and expanding for you in so many ways. So, keep us up to date with what you’re doing.
Kevin Ryan: Sure, absolutely. And thanks for having me.
Susan Bratton: Oh yeah, you know it’s my pleasure, always my pleasure.
Last little bit, don’t forget the schwag. I want to give you some goodies, so go post what you’d like to have and let me give it to you.
And, also, Tim made me a really nice URL. You know how I’m always asking you to take my Dishy Mix listener survey so I know more about your opinions and get some demographic information for my sponsors? Well, it was awful hard to find my survey.
So Tim made me a URL, it’s Survey.PersonalLifeMedia.com. And, if you can remember that one, it’ll take you right to the survey. It’s anonymous and it takes less than five minutes, it’s like, you know, five or ten questions, something really simple. And it helps me and I know you want to do that.
So, thank you so much. I am your host, Susan Bratton. Have a great day.
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