by Charlie Mathews & Morgan Botha. Transformation, at its essence, is an expansive movement; it’s about reaching out, listening, learning and challenging yourself to be and do better, whatever “better” means to you. It takes hard work, and part of that is finding the right role models and mentors or education to propel you forward.


“In business, I’m a beast. Like, I will always be successful in business. I was, from six years old, and I am now.” This self-confidence juggernaut is the marketing machine-cum-internet personality and best-selling author, Gary Vaynerchuk. Speaking on The Garyvee Audio Experience, he talks about looking at himself in the mirror when he was 30 [he’s now 44] and realising that he was losing his edge. “I revisited my hustle on my 30th birthday, and I’ve never worked harder since. And it [the hard work] has been compounded. I am working harder this second than I have ever my entire life.”

But this confidence doesn’t just materialise; it takes a real toll. In a 13-minute piece called “Hard Work Is the ONLY Thing You Can Control”, the marketing master talks about a time he wasn’t on top. “I lost my hustle… around 29,” he confesses. “There was a six-to-nine month period where it was clear to me that I was complacent.” He recalls when his reckoning came: “I remember riding to the store on my 30th birthday, looking in the rear-view mirror and saying: ‘You’re full of shit. Your mouth is ahead of your actions.”

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Transformation is hard, hard work

Vaynerchuk is hard on himself but he’s right. Transformation isn’t achieved with cruise control. Striving and toil is how Garyvee moved forward, and work is one of his highest defining values. He is relentlessly hard-working — but he works smart, too. A case in point is the recent 270-page deck he put out on how to create huge volumes of marketing material quickly. At the core of this thinking is what he calls pillar content. The idea is this: make meaningful long-form content and then “slice and dice” it cleverly so that one piece creates enough content for all your channels for a month. This helps to build vast libraries of content, which, if you iterate and understand SEO, gets better the more you make it.

Before we go any further, here are seven clever content tips from him that you can start using straight away to boost your social marketing:

  1. Screenshot your tweets and turn them into Instagram posts
  2. Download your TikTok clips and post them on Instagram stories
  3. Take pictures with partners, customers, or clients and add long copy for context. Post on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, and/or Twitter
  4. Cross-post your Instagram stories to Facebook Stories and Snapchat
  5. Create lightweight memes with the Preview App or Microsoft Paint
  6. Screenshot your Twitter interactions, and post on Instagram stories
  7. Use polls on Facebook and Instagram for market research

Always real and relevant

Always relevant, the Garyvee Audio experience offers marketing advice that fits the now, whether he’s speaking about how to market to Gen Z or offering insight on how TikTok may be used as part of a marketing strategy. What’s valuable about the podcast is that he’s also created a space that acknowledges what a terrible time human beings are experiencing currently, and he offers pragmatic advice on how to deal with it. Vaynerchuk addresses people who, in his words, ‘feel stuck in life’, and it’s refreshing to see how plainly and authentically he counsels people not to feel overwhelmed.

Podcast consumption has soared in recent times, thanks to the pervasive growth of smartphones, the device most preferred by people for listening to this kind of digital audio. Reuters Institute’s Digital News Report for 2020 interviewed 80 000 online news consumers in 40 markets, and half of those under the age of 35 had consumed at least one podcast over the last month. “Across countries, half of all respondents (50%) say that podcasts provide more depth and understanding than other types of media,” the institute for the study of journalism reports.

The Joe Rogan juggernaut hits gold

Today, Spotify is the world’s biggest destination for podcasts, which is why Joe Rogan’s move to the Swedish-born streaming company has been such big news. In May 2020, The Wall Street Journal announced that Rogan and Spotify had inked an exclusive deal, valued at over US$100m, to move the comedian-turned-podcaster and his massive audience to the digital service. This means that he will now earn much more money than most of the musicians currently on Spotify.

Ted Gioia, music historian and critic, put this into perspective with his tweet: “A musician would need to generate 23 billion streams on Spotify to earn what they’re paying Joe Rogan for his podcast rights (assuming a typical $.00437 payout per stream). In other words, Spotify values Rogan more than any musician in the history of the world. Sound fair to you?”

This deal is likely to make the MMA commentator the wealthiest broadcaster in the world.

Does this mean that you, too, are likely to become rich and famous by starting a podcast? The BBC addresses hopefuls head-on by saying: “It is generally difficult to make large amounts of money in the crowded world of podcasts. As most podcasts are free to download, many presenters and producers attempt to make money from endorsements and advertising. A platform-exclusive deal such as this is very rare.”

Relevance and news drive listenership

However, podcasting has been used exceptionally well by news brands to build loyalty. The New York Times has a podcast, The Daily, which currently has some 2m listeners a day and which attracts substantial advertising revenues. Plus covid-19 has produced its own breakthroughs, such as a podcast created in Germany by one of that country’s top virologists, Das Coronavirus-Update, which is top of the podcast charts in that country.

Given that there are over a million podcasts to choose from, you will need to curate your podcast list to ensure you get extreme value. To get you on your way, has selected the most-inspiring and -useful transformative business, life and marketing podcasts for you to enjoy.

Five transformative podcasts for transformational marketers

The Hustler’s Corner

DJ SbuSouth African celebrity, DJ Sbu, has created a podcast that is informative, authentic, and laid-back. With episodes such as “How to Take Advantage of Lockdown”, he encourages self-improvement and staying accountable to yourself. Sbu doesn’t shy away from the tough, gritty issues such as HIV or dealing with the difficult parts of working and parenting. His focus is on the authentic — genuine people, something big agencies sometimes lose sight of. The Hustler’s Corner can be the wake-up call for creatives because it peels back the layer on the very humans that agencies create campaigns for.

Matt Brown Show

South African best-selling author and entrepreneur, Matt Brown, has transformed his message into one of accepting the new world for what it is. “Suffering only happens when you have a problem with reality,” he says, opening his show. “When you don’t accept the fact that this is what’s happening to you, that this is the reality now, it’s not what you planned for, it’s not what you hoped for, it certainly wasn’t in your control, but yet you’re the one suffering the consequences.” This podcaster doesn’t pull any punches, and Brown uses his platform to inspire, to expand minds, and share experiences. Each episode features an entrepreneur and, in the discussion, he talks about the hard stuff such as marketing in a recession, and “the certainty of uncertainty”. He doesn’t avoid difficult topics such as race and poverty, and his conversations are well-researched.

Marketing School

With short episodes of 10 minutes or less, Neil Patel and Eric Siu break down easy-to-understand marketing advice. These episodes air daily and offer actionable steps for everyone, from a beginner with a small online store to a CMO of a massive corporation. Benefit from new perspectives — Patel and Siu have those by the bucketload. This dynamic duo teaches how to adapt to the times, and how to ensure your business survives the novel coronavirus.

Patel and Siu are transformers who’ve found a smart way to help a busy audience thrown into the deep end of unfamiliar marketing waters with intelligent insights. This podcast is great for anyone who wants to reevaluate their tactics or marketing spend. In short: bite-sized insights that are easy to understand and that cover everything you need to know about content and how to become an ace marketer.

The Indie Hackers Podcast

This is a very ‘real and raw’ show, in which Courtland Allen hosts people who’ve started and grown businesses online, both large and small. These are usually developers, but the show is fascinating because it digs deep into how to grow digital products and projects, the fundamentals of how to start a business, how to test your ideas, where to find a market, how to hunt for your first customers and how to grow, grow, grow.

The Tim Ferriss Show

Right up there with Joe Rogan, The Tim Ferriss Show is the top business podcast on Apple and was selected by readers of Fortune in 2016 as their favourite podcast. Guests have included the likes of Tony Robbins, Maria Sharapova, Malcolm Gladwell, LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman, and many more of the most-successful thinkers, intellectuals and business icons of our time.

If you’ve never listened to Ferris before, dive right into #124: Jamie Foxx on “Workout Routines, Success Habits, and Untold Hollywood Stories”, where the American actor, singer, comedian, songwriter, television host and producer tells Ferriss how he used US$400 to match a US$1m party thrown by Puff Daddy, and how he built up his network with Pharell, Kanye, and Jay-Z. You get to hear Foxx do impersonations of Ed Sheeran, Kermit the Frog, Sammy Davis Jr, LeBron James, and Mike Tyson. You also find out what he learnt from his grandma, and what his workout routine is.

See also

Until debt tear us apartTransformers Transform 2020” is a special series produced by MarkLives and HumanInsight and sponsored by the Association for Communication and Advertising (ACA), running Jun–Sep 2020. Our objective is to explore and map new paths for brands and marketers to transform, adapt and build resilience while the world adapts to covid-19 and its resultant social, political and economic toll. This is an independently managed, journalism-driven research project.


Charlie Mathews Morgan BothaAs founder and CEO of HumanInsight, Charlie Mathews (@CharlesLeeZA) leads research on #HopePunk, #Transformation #DigitalEcosystems, and works with the world’s most-transformative technology brands. Morgan Botha is a columnist for, where she co-writes #AdChamps. At work, she is a content strategist for Newlytics, a digital marketing platform that makes understanding online analytics easy and simple.

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