Use Your Voice to Change the World with Ronsley Vaz

October 12, 2021
James Whittaker

Check out this episode on the Win the Day Podcast

Our greatest gift lies next to our deepest wound.”

Philip McKernan

Ronsley Vaz is founder of We Are Podcast and award-winning marketing agency Amplify. As the world's first audio marketing agency, Amplify helps clients like Darin Olien, Gary Vaynerchuk, and leaders from pretty much any industry you can think of, to stand out in an increasingly noisy marketplace.

Ronsley’s first book Amplify has helped countless companies, associations, and individuals to raise their voice, boost their brand, and grow their business. Through his range of podcasts, including Should I Start a Podcast and The Psychology of Entrepreneurship, Ronsley has been downloaded and listened to more than five million times in 133 countries.

He’s spoken on stages all over the world and his TED talk ‘The Perfect Recipe for a Deep Conversation’ encourages real connection and inspires people to unite behind a common good.

But all these successes were preceded by one primary defining failure.

In 2013, as a qualified chef, Ronsley leveraged his passion for cooking to open an Indian-Portuguese restaurant in Brisbane, Australia. Yet, shortly after – and which coincided with him being just three months into marriage – the restaurant shut, with almost half a million dollars in debt.

After his dreams went up in smoke, Ronsley hopped back on the entrepreneurial saddle and launched the Uber for cheffing — connecting professionally trained chefs with people who wanted prepared meals conveniently available in their own fridge. To promote that venture, he started a podcast Bond Appetit, which surpassed one million listeners in just four months. Since then, his driving force has become sharing the power of podcasting to help business owners grow. 

Check out the YouTube or podcast version where Ronsley Vaz does the Win the Day Rocket Round, answering questions about his favorite quote, what advice he’d give his 18-year-old self, the one thing on his bucket list, and a whole lot more?

In this episode, we’re going to talk about:

  • How Ronsley went from bankruptcy to 7-figures in two years
  • The #1 reason why most businesses fail
  • How to monetize your passion, and
  • What podcasting can do to 10x - 50x your business.

And if you’re a business owner and want to scale your business using your podcast, download a free copy of The Recurring Results Roadmap for Podcasters. It will give you a step-by-step guide to building a 7-figure business using your podcast.

If there’s a friend or loved one who needs to hear this episode, share it with them right now. 

Let’s WIN THE DAY with Ronsley Vaz!

James Whittaker:
Rons, it's great to see you my friend. It's about bloody time we had you on the Win the Day show!

Ronsley Vaz:
I was wondering when you were going to ask me!

I feel that you've lived nine lives already. You've been a financial planner, a software engineer, a DJ, a podcaster, owner of a marketing agency, a chef, all of these different things.

And you've also had some business experiences that you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy. But as you and I know, our greatest gift lies next to our deepest wound.

So to kick things off, what's the biggest adversity or failure you've faced that you've been able to identify an equivalent benefit from?

Well, I suppose you're referring in particular to the restaurant and that escapade. It's weird because over time that doesn't become the most painful wound, especially when you've gone through it. To me, the best thing about that story is going from $478,000 in debt, and then paying that off and going debt-free in two years and one month. Doing that heals a lot of those wounds that otherwise would have stayed open.

Hindsight is always 20/20, so you look back and go, "I could have done that" and "I could have done that." But the biggest thing I learned was to find an audience before you make or spend money creating your thing. Because when I started the restaurant, people told me "monetize your passion."

And you know this, James. I've cooked for some of the most famous people around the world and had some crazy stories and things happen around food that are just weird to even mention. But people told me to monetize my passion, so I went and started a restaurant. And before opening the doors to get money coming in, I was already $220,000-ish behind because I had to spend money on staff and permits, internal work and external work, and just everything.

The biggest thing I learned was to find an audience before you make or spend money creating your thing.

It was almost like I never caught up. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't catch up. Not to mention, the business model for a restaurant is so broken that if you make 10% in net profit, you're one of the top 1% of restaurants in Australia — and that is a really bad stat. I don't know what our government is doing about that because a lot of the money goes into permits and stuff like that.

My point is, I was already behind because then I had to convince the audience that, "Hey, this is something that you need to try." And then, every time they left the restaurant, I had to re-market to them again. So there were these massive problems, and I was too young in my entrepreneurship journey to fix them all in one go, or even foresee them.

I didn't learn that lesson immediately, but when people asked me for help to start a podcast, I said, "Okay, I'll take eight people," and at the end of the week I had $32,000 in my account, which didn't stay there because I had to go pay this debt off.

I found a way to pay off the debt, but also create with the audience, as opposed to, "Hey, I've got this thing, please buy," and then it doesn't work for them.

So much to unpack there. First of all, how has your process of dealing with failure evolved or shifted since you've been on this entrepreneurial journey?

The definition of the word "failure" has changed quite a lot for me, as it has with "success" and "goals" too.

What have you realized are the attributes that a good sustainable profitable business has?

The biggest one is that the founder grows with the business. In my opinion, looking at different companies that we've helped and working with different clients, the biggest one is the founder growing with the company. As founders, we go into a company with a lot of our personal baggage and a lot of personal wounds, and then business exposes those wounds.

Therefore, as a founder, our first reaction is to hide those wounds from the world, by overcompensating in some way, whatever that looks like for different people. And the growth for a business only comes when the founder identifies the wound and can heal it.

I don't think we make that connection immediately. It takes a while before different things happen to make that connection.

What happens is that the founder tends to focus only on the numbers and think that there's no other correlation to the numbers other than the staff not doing their job. That's another common thing that I see in terms of blame — I will blame my team, but if I was in that situation and I did it all myself, I would not blame myself as much as I would have blamed my team, because, hey, it's not my responsibility.

And then suddenly you realize that because of that wound — I'm speaking for a friend here (joking!) — this is my personal wound. You realize that it comes back around and you see your team blaming other people, and you're like, "Where did this come from? Holy shit, it came from me." So it's a very humbling journey but it can be taken the other way because it exposes a lot of wounds.

And even me saying that right now, I can feel in my heart that it's not even closed yet, that wound is so raw for me even now, I can't even imagine that I did that. I wouldn't want to do that, but I did that, there's no lying about that, the fact that it happened. So, I wish it was that easy to fix, but its not.

It's directly aligned to parenting as well, like how kids model behavior. If we raise our voice, or worse, if we raise our hands to our children, that's the way that they're going to be dealing with those things. And if you are a business owner who's going to be leading a team and wants to have a big impact, you better lead by example.

How has your life changed since that defining moment of getting involved in podcasting?

Everything has changed. Everything around me is because I started a podcast eight years ago. Even my relationship with Rochelle, my wife, I think is very different because of the podcast and the people I've been exposed to and having those conversations and doing this week in week out.

The growth for a business only comes when the founder identifies the wound and can heal it.

Because there comes a time for an interviewer where you start to dread the interview, because it's going to go deep. You get to a point in a career where all your conversations get very deep, and if you're not in the right mental state, which is obviously something that we've not learned growing up, and it's something only now that it's coming out, and you're like, "Oh, that's what it is."

If you're not in a good mental state then, I want to avoid those conversations, it's not easy to sit in that uncomfortableness and be present. So everything, James, you and I, everything around me is because I started a podcast.

You and I have connected with so many amazing people around the world, yet there aren't many where I actually remember the very first conversation that I had with them, but I remember the very first conversation that I had with you. Your TED Talk was based on authentic conversation, as is your podcast, your business philosophy, and all of your relationships.

Why is that authentic conversation so important to you? And what awareness or growth has that created for you personally?

There's a lot of things in my life growing up and the bits that I remember where I could not speak, or I didn't feel like I could, or I didn't feel safe enough. Or even when I did feel safe, it came out wrong. It still comes out wrong, a lot of the time. If anyone on the planet has foot in mouth disease, it's probably me! I'd say some crazy things, and it's weird because it's almost like the other person needed to hear that, but I didn't know that at all. And it happens way too often where I will say something that's not meant to be said.

Not because I'm trying to be a dick, it just comes out in an entirely different perspective. It is just a question, but it ends up being the wound that gets exposed. Man, I feel like coming to Australia, speaking English my whole life, saying words that were made fun off, even though I'm like, "Wait a minute, when I was in India and I spoke Hindi, they made fun of my Hindi because it was apparently with an English accent!"

So when I came here [to Australia], my English was with an Indian accent. All those little things contribute. Also, I hate gossip, which is why I don't follow the news. I wish I could follow a new source that was authentic journalism, but it's not — it's all gossip and it's changed so much.

In 2019, you launched The Psychology of Entrepreneurship, which an awesome podcast. It's also the only podcast I've heard that actually gives me chills just listening to the trailer and the intro!

What was the big problem that you wanted to solve through that podcast? And why does that project in particular mean so much to you?

No one really asked me this question before, which is weird! I started The Psychology of Entrepreneurship because a few of my friends had taken their lives — some of them were entrepreneurs and some of them were not.

And I believe that everyone is an entrepreneur in some capacity if they recognize it. So, for me, I was worried that — even though I majored in psychology with my MBA — if an entrepreneur friend of mine was dealing with a lot and came up to me and said, "Hey, Ronsley, I'm struggling," I would not know, genuinely would not know, what to do. That was primary reason for starting the podcast.

Second, there is a psychology to our decision-making when we're in performance mode, when we're out of performance mode, when we're in rest mode, when we're in strategy mode, when we're in breaking new ground mode. There's all these different levels and phases in an entrepreneur's journey in creation.

The psychology of our decision-making is so important that a small decision made continuously over time creates this big gap.

The psychology of our decision-making is so important that a small decision made continuously over time creates this big gap. And then you realize that you have this big chasm to cross because of this one bad decision, or a decision that you ignored because of a wound you had.

So I decided that if I could become a student of the psychology of entrepreneurship, what would that look like? And if I were to take my interviews deeper, what would that look like? So that's how that all came together.

I also wanted to create something that had never been created before in the sense that if we could use frequencies, and use sound, and use voices to actually get a physical reaction out of the listener, then that will be something that we could implement for our clients. So, putting that all together, that's how The Psychology of Entrepreneurship was born.

As you mentioned, the best entrepreneurs are the ones who are doing work that deeply aligns with their passion. Yet, there are still so many people out there that don't believe they can monetize their passion.

If someone right now was to come up to you and say, "Here I am, I'm passionate about something. I don't know how to monetize it," what are the types of steps that you would take them through?

Well, the first thing I would say is, if you've... going back to my chef's analogies, because I actually really love food.

I love your food too!

I love everything about food! I love even looking at chefs in a restaurant. They're like an orchestra getting this one plate ready for you. It's just beautiful, how all that comes together. And if you take the time to realize where all the ingredients came from, it's just such a beautiful process. But the reason I'm bringing it up... sorry James, what was the question again!?

About helping people monetize their passion. What are the steps that you would take them through?

The reason I brought up the chef example is because when you taste someone's food at a restaurant and you say, "Wow, this is awesome!", that chef has made so many bad dishes, I promise you. There's been a lot of burnt pans, burnt limbs, some have had fingers cut off, a lot of ingredients wasted.

When someone is thinking about monetizing or getting into business, especially for the first time, the idea is to avoid breaking anything. And you can't make an omelet without breaking eggs, is a common phrase. I just want people who are getting into business to realize that, to do business properly before COVID, people used to go to business school for years to understand the principles of business. So don't be too hard on yourself.

It's about actually looking at what the real journey looks like — looking at that journey in the face and going, "Yes, I want to do this."

I remember the first time I learned to surf, I was wondering why this person was spending two hours on the beach, getting me to stand on this board. The water is just there! But then when I got into the water, I realized that I couldn't even get on the board.

Most of the time, we're not even ready to talk about our wounds yet. So we don't even know how to express them, to tell someone that, "Hey, this is something that I'm dealing with or I've dealt with." And this is something that you got to look out for, because we don't know how to process it ourselves.

So, someone who wants to monetize your passion for the first time, I want to say, first, that it's possible.

Second, you might have an illusion of how that journey is going to go, and it's not necessarily about bringing you down to earth or any of that stuff. It's about actually looking at what the real journey looks like — looking at that journey in the face and going, "Yes, I want to do this." Not, "I want the easy route. Show me the 10 steps to become an entrepreneur."

Gabby Reece actually said to me, "I want to be involved in things that inspire me and motivate me to action, even on the rainy days." And I think that's very, very important, because it's totally aligned with what you said about understanding the real journey.

You and I do a ton of work together on podcasting. You've produced podcasts for hundreds of companies, individuals, and brands — some of the most successful on the planet. What exactly does a podcast do to help a business grow?

Oh my God, a podcast is everything! In my opinion, a podcast is everything. When I think of a business, there's a bunch of people who could work with you but they have no idea whether they want to or not. It's always the case. Every conversion in every business happens in a conversation. It doesn't matter whether you're getting a team member on board, a client, a partner, a sponsor, investor, it doesn't matter. All those conversions happen in conversations.

And if you can create the voice of your business and allow people to hear that voice — even before they know or want or care about working with you — the power of that alone, is what 90% of what no other business has. Google has done a study that found it takes 11 touch points, seven hours and four different platforms, for someone who doesn't know you to trust you, to buy from you. That tells you that you need to keep your audience engaged.

So, if that is the case, then the only form of content that can be kept engaging for the longest period of time is audio, because it can be consumed while doing other things. Everything else you've got to stop what you're doing to consume it, whether it's a book or a video or whatever. So the power of consumption and engagement with audio for a business in particular is worth so much.

Every conversion in every business happens in a conversation.

If you just think about the last minute that I've been talking, I can go on forever, but that is just the tip of the iceberg, not to mention the conversations and the people you meet. And I could literally stop everything right now, start something new, and send my friends a couple messages and say, "Hey, I'm starting this new thing, can you help?" And that's it. And it's only because of the podcast.

I am very passionate about businesses having a podcast for their business, to the point that I started [one of the world's first] podcasting conferences here in Australia in 2015 with no return at all, because I was like, "It's just a conference, I'll bring people together, and show them how powerful podcasting is."

I did that every year for five years until you came along and went, "Hey dude, time to step it up!" So, my point is, I think podcasting is so valuable for business and we've barely scratched the surface of it.

Agree 100%. If you have the right plan for your podcast, as a host you get a massive ROI on that show before anyone even hears the episode, through things like forced learning of the subject matter, research on your guest, relationships you can establish, specific ways to add value to your community, and so many other opportunities.

And as you mentioned, when COVID hit, you and I joined forces during the most uncertain time our generation has ever faced. Because we wanted to help people who were struggling with the economic impacts of the pandemic, we were able to leverage our greatest asset, which was the relationship capital that we had.

It's what enabled us to, in one year, feature 100+ of the most successful entrepreneurs and podcasters on the entire planet to be able to help our community so they could monetize their passion, grow their business, and build their audience, all at a time when most people were going backwards.

You know how big I am on relationships. For you personally, what do you focus on when you're looking at creating and maintaining relationships with really influential people?

I'm genuinely curious about how people operate so, from a relationship standpoint, I tend to keep relationships with people who I look up to, or I know that some aspect of their life is going to rub off on me.

I've always known that my environment would dictate my success. But it's never really been more accurate than over the last couple of years, because through COVID you only connect with the people who you want to connect with. It's so fascinating because then you get deeper into the ones who you want to connect with, yet you somehow don't find the time for the ones who you don't want to connect with.

I've always known that my environment would dictate my success.

So, for me, it's about the reps. And one of the things that got exposed over the last few years was how many reps I had with my parents or my immediate family. I see them every day and we do mobility exercises for 30 minutes, which is crazy because Rochelle's grandmother is 82 years old, my father-in-law has Parkinson's, and they have not missed a single day of this WhatsApp call, and it's extremely weird to think that I see my family, my wife's family every day. Its so weird!

You have no excuse for skipping it if they're showing up!

100%. And I have to say that there have been days where I wanted to skip it, but knowing that they're going to show up and I'm letting them down, it doesn't allow me to. And it's not much — we're just rotating our wrists, lifting our knees, turning our backs.

But you can tell the difference it's making in their life in general. For me, relationships obviously start at home, they say it a lot, but for me it did not, I had to learn how to have conversation with so many other people and go deep and then come back, ended up with my family. So, I definitely think that COVID has exposed that part for me.

You and I have been working on this Roadmap to help business owners grow their business using a podcast.

Can you give us a quick overview of The Recurring Results Roadmap for Podcasters™, or maybe take us through two or three of the elements that you think are worth highlighting?

When we were talking about the Roadmap, one of the things that came up over and over again was that we definitely wanted to make sure that business owners who had a podcast (or were thinking of starting a podcast) would get results.

And for business owners, there's so many spinning plates, so the first thing we need is focus — what things you need to specifically work on based on where you're currently at in your business journey. Our goal was to give the business owner focus and give them a step-by-step roadmap to be able to deliver the results that they were after.

I've been obviously helping businesses start a podcast for a while now, and I wrote a book about it, and the book is based on Marketing 101, which is: to get sales, you first need to get attention; then you have to take that attention and convert it into engagement; then take the engagement and convert that engagement into sales.

It's very simple from a marketing principles perspective. So that is the focus when you think about it.

For businesses, we wanted to create a base that they could build off. So The Recurring Results Roadmap for Podcasters™ was created in a way that allowed the business owner to, first, get their Base 10K in recurring revenue, by focusing on attention, engagement and sales, and then adding an amplifier.

After that, they have different items to focus on that will generate the added $20k, $50K, and $100K in recurring revenue. The entire thing is results-oriented. And we've got units in each training that allow the business owner to get the results that they're after.

Through our We Are Podcast members group [We Are Members], there's been so many amazing transformations. While we've seen their businesses transform, arguably the most powerful transformation is what happens to these people individually.

Is there a particular transformation you're most proud of from that members group?

I don't know whether I'm more proud of one person in particular, but I do feel extremely proud every time they show up differently. The recent one was Melanie, who's recently gone totally deaf in both ears. She showed up to our live coaching and was literally schooling everyone by saying, "You know what? Don't be like me. I've been here for over a year and did not do anything, and now it's taken me to go deaf in both ears to tell you that I'm going to start a podcast being deaf!"

That was not necessarily the most impactful part, even though I was blown away by Melanie. It was Elizabeth who also has been around since the start, sending me a private message saying that Melanie is different. She would always look down and now she's telling other people to look up when they talk so she can read their lips. And I was like, wow, that is phenomenal.

So like that we've had crazy results. I mean, looking at Byron, who used to do video for me and who's filmed We Are Podcasts, I think in 2017, maybe, and 2018, if I'm correct, and spoke at We Are Podcast 2018, to see him create his podcast and create his dream and create his vision and have adoring fans, literally drool over his content.

Yeah, he's had 15+ million likes on TikTok and more than 300,000 podcast downloads. We had Byron on the show very recently.

Mick is another one who is a business owner and has found amazing results with these podcasts. He's found his voice and his true calling.

So, getting those results has been really cool. Looking at Scott BC and his transformation as a person, as a human, not even bringing up the results in terms of money, but just the person that he is and what has changed so much. Scott M, definitely different, you can see that.

We Are Members is very confronting, we call it the WAMily. The WAMily is very confronting because, there're other people in there that also are very similar in the sense that they find a way to step up or they find a way to grow. And seeing those transformations — Rebecca is another one — there's so many, and it's just so cool to be part of that.

You've had so many cool experiences with people you've worked with. Is there one moment in particular that stands out as a bit of a pinch me moment, or when you feel like maybe you'd made it?

Oh, I don't know about making it. I've never had that feeling or I don't even know what it feels like to make it, and I can't even relate to that idea or question, even trying to decipher it now, oh, I don't know what that means.

I think for me the thing that stands out and will probably always stand out for me is one morning when I woke up and I checked into my Slack channel and it said, "VaynerX has joined this Slack channel." I took a screenshot, it's somewhere. But I can't wrap my head around that, because even though I've worked with some amazing actors and politicians and influencers that are way more, I don't know, popular maybe than that, I remember being in debt, listening to Gary Vaynerchuk's book Crush It and watching his Wine Library TV.

Check out the YouTube or podcast version where Ronsley Vaz does the Win the Day Rocket Round, answering questions about his favorite quote, what advice he’d give his 18-year-old self, the one thing on his bucket list, and a whole lot more?

For the people who might not know, in 2012, Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk was one of the books that really got me prepared for that entrepreneurial journey. It's an incredible book.

So 2013 was my year of debt, so I read Crush It in 2013. And then going from there to... he was meant to speak at We Are Podcast 2016, he was meant to come to Australia. Then in 2018, I was on a sales call and someone said, "Hey, Gary told me to buy whatever it is that you're selling, so can you please send me the paperwork?" That was his opening line!

And I went, "Gary, as in Vaynerchuk!?" Because I could not... he didn't tell me that wasn't going to happen in terms of he's going to refer clients to me or any of that stuff. For them to become a client and us to do their podcasts and become the expert for VaynerX in podcasting is just... I still can't wrap my head around that whole thing.

So, that stands out, even though the podcasts got million listeners and all that stuff. And the TEDx Talk being made a TED Talk, that's another one that just, I still can't wrap my head around that because I have no control over any of that stuff. Someone from my hometown in Goa wanted me to do a TEDx Talk for them and they sent me a message telling me that they would love to have a TED speaker speak, and I'm like, "No, I've done a TEDx Talk."

And then they told me, "No, it's an official TED Talk, it's on the website!"

I'm like, "Wait, what?" So those two moments stand out for me for sure.

Great moments. On your best day, what's an affirmation you would write on a flashcard to show yourself on your worst day.

“I love you, Ronsley.”

A lot has changed in the way I talk to myself, and now my default is those lines and just keeps reminding me. And it's crazy because you can't love anyone if you don't love yourself. So, that's the pieces behind that.

Final question, what's one thing you do to Win the Day?

I wake up every day at 3:59 AM and I have a morning routine. I never miss it. And sometimes that routine just means me spending time with myself and looking out the window, but it's transformed me and transformed everything.

I also meditate like crazy, it's been the best thing, I can just sit and meditate for an hour in silence, which I can't even imagine I'm saying that, but I can, and I've done it and it's been amazing.

Resources / links mentioned:

📈 The Recurring Results Roadmap for Podcasters™. Learn how to scale your business using your podcast.

🎙️ ‘Amplify: Raise Your Voice, Boost Your Brand and Grow Your Business’ by Ronsley Vaz.

📝 We Are Podcast group on Facebook.

📷 Ronsley Vaz on Instagram.

🚀 ‘Crush It!’ by Gary Vaynerchuk.

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