No moss grows under serial entrepreneur, Peter Shankman. The founder of Help a Reporter Out sold his company to Vocus within two years of its inception. He travels the world delivering keynotes and consulting on topics such as customer service, social media and ADHD.
He penned a book about succeeding with ADHD called, “Faster Than Normal: Turbocharge Your Focus, Productivity, and Success with the Secrets of the ADHD Brain,” and hosts a popular podcast, also called Faster Than Normal. He’s founder and CEO of boutique social media, marketing and PR firm, The Geek Factory, Inc., and created ShankMinds: Breakthrough, an online mastermind group.
We caught up with Shankman to find out how he filters feedback, why entrepreneurs should prioritize self-care and more. The following conversation has been edited for clarity and brevity.
StartupNation: You recently marked 20 years as an entrepreneur. What advice would you give yourself 20 years ago?
Peter Shankman: I think it took me way too long to stop worrying what people who had no effect on my life thought. I should have stopped caring nineteen and a half years ago, because they provide me no value. They didn’t help me pay my mortgage and I wasted way too much time caring what they thought.
StartupNation: How do you differentiate between the random haters and people who do have feedback that could be useful for your business?
Peter Shankman: Listen to everyone, but be very aware of whose advice you take or whose advice you internalize. After every speech I give, I call the client. I go, “Client, I just wanted your opinion and feedback on how I did; good or bad?” That’s a lot different than making the news and reading the comments mentioned underneath your article.
StartupNation: What do you see other entrepreneurs doing well or not so well on social media?
Peter Shankman: I think that the key component of any social media campaign is, before you put one thing out there, to first do your homework and figure out where your audience is and how your audience is interacting. (Learn) what information they get from the world, then get them the information you want to share with them the way that they prefer it. If you give ’em the information the way they want, you will do much better at growing your audience, keeping your audience happy. Having an audience is a privilege, not a right.
And the best way to earn that privilege every day is to focus on giving the audience the information they want, the way they want it, when they want it, without wasting their time. That’s why 99 percent of all the content I create I give away free. When it comes down to that one percent, people wind up buying it.
StartupNation: What is the best way to find out how they prefer to get that information?
Peter Shankman: Ask them a simple question. “Just curious how you like to get your info: Text, email? How can we do a better job?” But be real about it. Those emails that come from a big corporation that come from ‘Do Not Reply’ or whatever don’t really benefit anyone.
StartupNation: You’re working on a documentary about ADHD. Anything you can share about that or “Faster Than Normal?”
Peter Shankman: I have the number one product out for ADHD currently on iTunes, called “Faster Than Normal.” My belief is that having a faster brain is better. The key is obviously to use that faster brain, so you have to work it. You have to understand that.
Once you know how to use that faster brain, it’s a lot better. I’m a big believer that it doesn’t necessarily always have to be medication. It could be other things. But again, you have to know how to use that faster brain. You have to put the right things into play the right way.
StartupNation: How did you find what works for you?
Peter Shankman: It was years of not understanding how things work and just thinking I was weird and then finally over time, putting things together and understanding the difference. And then understanding what did work and why I need to continue doing that.
StartupNation: One of your speaking topics is self-care for entrepreneurs. So why do you think that’s sometimes ignored and why should we be paying more attention?
Peter Shankman: Entrepreneurs were running around trying to create the next greatest thing and we tend to focus on hustle as the most important thing in the world. But the problem is that if we’re not taking care of ourselves, our hustle won’t matter. And we need to put ourselves first. We are the longest project we’ll ever have. We need to first take care of ourselves before we can go out into the world.
StartupNation: Anything else you’d like readers to know?
Peter Shankman: One of the key things for entrepreneurs is to make sure we don’t feel alone. I run a mastermind called ShankMinds. And the whole purpose behind it is to make sure that when you have questions, when things happen, you have a group of people to talk to, because entrepreneurship is a lot of fun, but on bad days it feels as lonely as hell. And you need to make sure you have a group of people you can talk to. It’s primarily for the solo entrepreneur, like the CEO who has maybe employees under him but doesn’t necessarily have anyone at his or her level to talk to there.