273: Tina Hay What it takes to build a profitable content publishing business


Hi. This is Tina author of Napkin Finance and you're listening to my quest for the best with Bill Rangel. Listen up small business founders, senior managers, and rising stars Bill Brindell here host of my quest for the best where ambitious small business leaders discover strategies and tactics to unlock your broke potential on each episode, bringing the inside stories from published and accomplished guests who want to share their knowledge and experiences. So you can be more successful in leading your people managing Your Business and navigating towards more growth than more impact in a changing and challenging landscape. Let's dive in enemy today Tina Hey, Tina's the founder and CEO Napkin finance a visual guide to money found in booksellers as well as on the web. A strong believer in financial literacy, Tina created a platform for users of all ages to learn finance in a simple and engaging way. She's also the author of the bestselling. Book Napkin Finance Build your wealth in thirty seconds or less from harpercollins. NAPKIN finance reaches over eighty million people in the US abroad but working with banks and financial institutions including JP Morgan, chase UBS and US bank among others as a social venture with a focus on financial empowerment. The company also provides content to nonprofits, schools, universities, and. Has worked with the White House Michelle Obama's better make room initiative as well as the US Olympic Committee before Napkin Finance Tina was the founder and CEO of Platinum Test Group Co founder and president of city tripping dot, com and the editor of city tripping Los Angeles she earned her undergrad degree from Ucla and an MBA from Harvard B. School teen is here to help us understand her journey and book Napkin Finance Welcome Tina Hi. Thank you for having me. It's great to have you on the show. Tell me when you were growing up who someone who influenced your inspired you that would be my dad. He has always been an inspiration to me both personally and professionally in the way that he's kind of managed his career and has been entrepreneurial but also very fair and ethical, and just a good human being overall and he's been really inspiring and his always inspired me in the way that I run my business and also live my life. Can you think of an example when you were little were even in school growing up when you made a decision that affected maybe where he went to school or what job you took? And you could trace it back to an example of your dad or some adage or wisdom that he shared with you. Yeah. You know I come from generally a very entrepreneurial kind of community and family, and so I think most of the decisions I've made have stemmed from that viewpoint and that kind of perspective that you can make your own opportunities. You can create your own ventures or businesses and create things yourself without having to do it for someone else I think they really important thing i. Learned. Though was that you know there are no shortcuts you really need to work hard and I think even now today when I see we work with a lot of younger people we work with you know we've worked with a number of creatives but also financial professionals and the one thing that I've noticed that's really consistent is how there is a very big difference between the people who really work hard and are proud of their work and put the time and energy into versus the people who expect. To move up quickly and don't really take time and effort to to deserve that kind of career advancement and so I think. Learning, about hard work and learning to look for opportunities in places, you may not expect were. Two important things that I learned growing up to remember the first time you sort of look back and realize, wow, I got there because of hard work and yet I mean, I think about it all the time I worked hard ever since I was in high school. I I started working. Started businesses when I was very young and of course, many of them didn't work out some. You would laugh at to this day if you heard what the idea was for instance. Yeah I'll give you a great example. was you know a long time ago? One of the first businesses I started was a patented away and this is before like everything became digital but a way that you. Staple and bind a paper at the same time. So you could actually use it within a copy machine or manually, but it was a new way of binding papers together, and this is because I worked in film and we would have all these scripts and there was a very manual process of. Putting, them together I mean, it's incredible. The number of hours that people would spend putting these binding these scripts together. This is totally irrelevant today because everything is read digitally. stapling and binding at the same time through a copy machine. So it really kind of. Made it much easier to kind of have this. Bound copy of the script instead of having a staple but in a way that would actually like really beautifully presented. So there you go. It's. Totally irrelevant today at the time was really interesting. I had a patent that was a you know that we put together for it. We had restarted production or manufacturing in China it was it was ridiculous I what pretty far it was a great learning experience and I, was young and so it was a lot of fun to kind of even just learn about the different. Ways or you need to think about to start a business it's amazing that you put together and what it really ills faces everyone listening who started a business or created a product can relate to the pain you're feeling by having to go through all this additional labor and effort for something that could be automated and you saw that and you ran with it. So you just not only identified but you want a lot of respect in the eyes of people who said you know what I get that I totally understand what you went through and how that product or company came about born of that difficulty you were encountering. Right right exactly. I think and again you know the one thing I will say is it's great to look for opportunities but I, feel like every idea has been taken and it's a lot of it is execution and persistence and timing you know. So ideas persistence are great but more than that. It's like it's really Makes a difference how much you commit yourself to it to finding a solution, but also finding a unique way of approaching it so true. So True Tina take us back to the moment when Napkin finance was born was a conversation with a friend, a doodle that you saw in a book that you've created or someone else created or reaction to a new story. What was the? Genesis. Yes. You know it was definitely accidentally inspiration was my own experiences and challenges learning about money and finance I was in business school at Harvard and came from a liberal arts background. I'd come in from working in film and in the startup world, and so for me, I've always been in visual learner I'm not a numbers person and I found finance to actually be very. Confusing and intimidating, and so I always used sketching and illustrations as personal tool. And after business who I went into finance for a bit and then started a company. That was focused on millennials and money and one aspect was education but it was really that that the content around money and finance that took off and people were really interested in and so it was almost an accident, but it's it was really interesting to see that there is such a demand for people easy to digest content around money and finance, and so that became our focus and it's been amazing to see the traction we've had ever since and how much people are really looking for in craving content that can help them make decisions in moments that matter or life decisions for themselves, their kids their families. It's a huge need to have something that not only explained mixed people feel. To have conversations and even ask intelligent questions. If you haven't had the opportunity to get your copy of not can finance or view of some of the illustrations. It's an set of educational illustrations to better understand, money and finance. It's out of charts and graphs. Now wait a second that doesn't do it justice. Think of this to me. It's like Matt groening Creator, the Simpsons and Warren Buffett the MIC is successful investor had mind meld inside your brain? And ideas to capture a key idea principal and then define it illustrated and show to begin to apply it on a single page. When I was in college, we were given a couple of courses the opportunity to bring in one sheet of notes to the final. So we had to synthesize twelve to fifteen chapters of physics chemistry, numerical computing page, and it was a lot of work, but it was so much fun. I love the challenge of it and obviously the more work you put in the easier the final was because into understanding, boil it down to something so. Clear and so accessible you really had to understand thoroughly is that kind of the approach that you take with creating each page each chapter of Napkin Finance. Yeah. So if y Cristeta because it's incredibly hard to make something especially a complex topic, really simple and. Easy to read and I, think people underestimate how much time that takes. So what's interesting is that we have a team of creatives but also team financial experts that has to come together to do that because the condon has to be accurate. And especially since we work with banks financial stitches, it also pasta pass by their compliance legal departments, and so there's a lot involved in making the content, really high end high level and accurate, and you know and also fun and engaging. So it takes a lot to get even one Napkin done incomplete it. What else is the name of Napkin Finance? What if I not covered that you? WanNa make sure that people understand about this not only as a book, but also as a community and as. Your mission. Yes. So I think what what the beauty of what we do is we don't sell any product so we're never trying to sell you a credit card or anything else are content is purely advocating for our readers in transparent and so I think that's the beauty for us and for our partners. So we we make sure that we maintain that education is our priority, and so that's really important I. Think most financial content comes from someone who has an agenda, and so it's really Important for anyone who's looking for resources in there are a lot of actually wonderful resources out there other than NAP could finance, but it's important to see what the source is, and if there is you know what what, what they're asking for. So oftentimes, it's really important to understand and of what your goals are and make sure that you're getting the best advice and it's in your interest and not you know to guide you into a product or service. So I think an integral part, of Napkin. Finance is the experience that it involves not just the technical theory but like you said to make it accessible in-includes, fun facts that makes the topics approachable and also cheeky humour that makes it memorable and I think it builds a relationship with the content and also with your brand for example, the mutual funds chapter ends with this original quote invest in diversified mutual fund to lower the risk of your investments invest in a gym membership to lower the risk of love handles care of nut can finance. Right yes a we it's interesting. We use humour because again, just making it more believable and you know a topic again like money and finance really turns people off of the humor has been just fun I mean we do a lot of it on our social media as well, which has been great. You know we have a lot of we call the one liners, and so we use those we kind of use them within our book we have them on the site, but we also have social media as well, and so that's been really fun a fun part of. Our messaging in our friend, it's a social mission as well as a business mission. So how do you see making money accessible at this point in time to be something that has a social mission because of were recording this now we're in the midst of the pandemic lockdown. Sure. We've also had black lives matter come to the fore and we're in the midst of a lot of confusion and misinformation. How important is it to your mission to make sure that this information accessible to noxious people who have the resources to get excellent education but also people who are struggling. To, get by and to have conversations about financial topics to make it more central and a successful in their lives. Yes. So a few things first of all of our content is free but what I would say is that now more than ever it's more, it's it's important to understand your finances in such a great time to kind of check in and have a maybe have a review of your financial plan and take action and so. I, think most people and I you know my my belief is that the smartest people we know don't know much about money and finance and defer to other people often times especially women to take their to really control their finances and make decisions. But what we've learned over the last four five months is that that's a dangerous thing to do. It's really really important to be on top of your finances. Knowledge is power to make decisions or understand how people who are managing your finances or maybe eib whether it's your CPA. Or financial adviser attorney anyone who's giving you advice. Everyone it's it's in your best interest to understand where your money is where it stands. You know what your opportunities are, where you can manage your credit and your debt and so on and again, make it relatable and simple, and then put it on autopilot because again financial education's really key, it should be working in the background. It's good to check in at some point, but it's important and critical because it's also tied to your wealth. Your wealth is tied tight your health, and so having your finance finances in order means you have better lifestyle you have less stress. You know it's it's so related to every aspect of your life whether it's working your. Family kids saving investing anything that you really how you live your everyday life planning vacations everything is related to finance it. So it's always important to be very aware of where you stand, educate and empower yourself to make better decisions and also bring on people and help that can make you that can help you with things that you don't understand. You know we always advise people to deferred of advisors and financial experts to make decisions. You know it's it's dangerous to kind of, do it yourself with a lot of financial areas in your life, and there are a lot of great qualified people who can make you help help make you make better decisions Tina. As people, you know friends, family colleagues, classmates. WHO PICKED UP NAPKIN finance they've come to you and told you some of the differences it's made in their lives. Can you share a story about someone you know who wasn't able to have certain conversations or review certain reports but now is able to and how it's made a difference yeah. So I can give you Have many examples but one interesting one is we work with a lot of women who work with people of all ages, and so we work often with women who've never understood where their money is coming in and out of how much they're spending their budgeting and so one of the interesting things has been empowering women and older woman as well. Over the age of, let's say you know not millennials, which is oftentimes our core or everyone's core demographic but older women who May, be going to divorce or are widowed or just want to be empowered about their own money. So week at a lot of it, you know a feedback from them where this is the first time that they've actually learned about budgeting or basic things like you know starting to invest their money or taxes and how again what's going on with their money and how they can make better decisions instead of deferring to someone else. So I can give you one example of gene. Who is a very affluent comes from a very affluent family has money has resources. She came to us at the age of I believe about fifty five or. Sixty and she had never budgeted her money. She didn't know how to budget. She didn't know what a budget was and so for the first time, we help to put together kind of a worksheet. She used some of our resources and for the first time in her life was able to understand her income and her expenses and to save money for things that you didn't even know that she could save money for, and this is someone who has had an his college educated who had a lot of opportunities in their life comes from opportunity but has found are content to be helpful even after this many years of different other people are having her spouse make her decisions. So, we we love hearing things like that. That's just one example we have other people who are. Making decisions around spending. Let's say another woman her name is sally who's about to take on student loan debt who came across our content, our Napkins and sweets like paying for college saving for college and was able to power herself in sign up for Fafsa and secure more funding for college and understood the impact impl- implications of taking student loan financing what that meant for the long term. If she couldn't pay it back, you know helping her understand how much she should take out how much she should save how much she should be able to kind of kate yearly and not end up in ten years from now with this kind of huge burden on her shoulder and so we love stories like that helping empower people when they're making the decisions instead of when it's too late. That's so important I'm sure every business leader listening to this now has opportunities to learn more about financial areas of their business whether it's the P. and L. Sheet or whether it's in their personal finances or taxes or investments, and I bet you that there are. Pages. Or chapters or topics with a napkin finance that can help you become more educated. So encourage you to take the time to dive in and find something that's relevant and useful in your work life or professionalize. Tina. What was the biggest challenge in writing the book? Was it getting started slogging through the middle or bringing it to completion? Lena the biggest challenge was, it's interesting. It was it wasn't necessarily the content or the the visuals they infographics. It was getting it all done very quickly. We had a very short window to complete the book, and so the team came together and we really kind of jammed through a few months of kind of night and day round the clock working and and to get the book done that was the biggest challenge was really just kind of the short window to get the book created in an up and running, but otherwise everything came together very beautifully. So in a matter of three months or six months we put the book together in less than six months, which is very, very short time for a you know the number of his and other kind of visual assets incorporated in the bug and the quizzes and so on. So there's a lot of content that we had to fit in and also make it visually appealing and funds. In just a very short window. Emphasize consistent. It wasn't like you could see the last three that got done in a short period of time. You just had to get out the door it is consistent throughout and that's really a tough thing to do. So Kudos to you and the team for that. Thank you so much. Did you have the vision from the beginning that you wanted to publish the book and also have it lead to a community? For the book, we were excited to have another way for people to engage with the content because it's been so. Fantasy kind of reach people in different. You know places in different places in their life making different types of decisions. So the book we never expected to have the impact that it has, but it's been amazing to see. You know it's been fun to see the different age groups to see the press around the great reviews but we always really we've always believed in the content. We feel like it really offer some amazing visual resources and really fun unique content with the humor built in that can engage people in a way that traditional financial education. Content can't one of the reasons I asked that question because as people write books in our our authors and thinking of putting together a book, not everyone has the idea of being able to distribute it online and use it in a lot of ways that you have with the licensing at what point did that idea come to you and how was that part of your negotiations with the publisher? Yeah. So actually all of the content in the book is unique. So it's a great question because it is very tricky how we have all we have. Content on our site with content for partners and we have content in the book and we also licensed content businesses. So we're very careful that all of it is very unique and very specific to that kind of platform where it lives. So the book content is different than what you will see on our website. Some of it overlaps some of the Evergreen content is difficult. You know if you're talking about budgeting to make it very unique in one way or another, but we try to make it all fresh depending on what form it's on but. Licensing is always a consideration were very careful. We create everything in house, but we're also very careful and we we really want everyone to have a different experience depending on whether they go to our website or they visit the buck. Dean are you ready for the Mike? Quest for the best lightning round? Yes. Let's get started. So early asked you a person who inspired you're growing up when you talk about your dad and his example when you're in your teens, what's a song that you found inspiring? I. Would in my teens I was obsessed with And I mean again, it was unless early inspiring but I just. You know the love their music, and it was just really fun to listen to I guess where the streets have no name. What's the most effective way that you find to get the word out about your mission with Napkin finance each week over the last six months. So I think social media is the most powerful plots warm to get out of engagement and to reach many people as you know, as we can because most people that's where they live people live on social media. So it's been a great way for us to engage with our readers and also get feedback. Has Been Twitter Instagram pinterest with what have you found works best for you. Yeah. Mainly, instagram in the last six months what would you say is the best hundred dollar purchase you've made I would say the last six months I've bought. Several books that have been really inspiring to me. So I would say that's probably been the most the best investment has been buying actual physical books one or two titles on them as a book by Maya Angelou to my daughter another book I read by Wayne Dyer bleep it's called making the shift I'm reading letters to. A poet with love. I try to kind of expand out of the business world for I. think that's great at night. I. Make sure that once I. Turn off the computer. I'm always looking for something to read that's fiction to take my mind off that area as well. What would you say is the most important habit routine or belief that you've stopped in the last year? That's Brought you the most pleasure personal satisfaction I would say I've stopped or I've made a more conscious effort not to go backwards or look in the past and I'm very kind of analytical and I look back and I kind of always assess like how I could have done things differently or better. But I think what I've learned especially in Cobra's life. So unpredictable. You just have to continue moving forward and since you've made that decision, what's it opened up for you more joy more free time or relaxation. I would say less more peace of mind more opportunity more excitement about ways that I can make an impact moving forward. It's great. The took more napkin finance and what would you say is one of the biggest misconceptions that people have about napkin finance I would say that it's it's aimed at younger people because it's more visual. And kind of sketching. But an illustration humor but interestingly, it's been resonated with people of all ages the what's really the most rewarding thing is hearing the people fight for themselves read it, and then buy a copy for a friend or a family member or child, and that's been the most exciting thing because with this book, we haven't had to force people everyone who's read. It has found some value ended now maybe. Someone may not care about cryptocurrency, but they will care oftentimes about something else investing or improving their credit. So there's something for everyone in the book in you know. So that's that's been exciting to see. The people are not only enjoying it themselves passing. Will Tina youthpass lungs so many great ideas today on my quest, the best I just want to thank you so much for talking about. First of all, your dad helped you understand that you make your own opportunities and hard work will take you places that just expecting doors to open won't an execution persistence timing pays off as an entrepreneur we all need to be reminded the value of that. WanNa. Thank you for helping us understand how you coordinated your team of creative financial experts to bring together this product and that it's different both online as well as the printed book and the humor is one of the techniques and ingredients used to make it. So relatable and fun for people to learn about a topic that's ordinarily dry and I love your mission about helping people understand such important part of our lives finances. And doing. So in a way that helps us grow and understand and look at things that we probably haven't been interested motivated to look at in a long time. So WanNA. Thank you so much. Tina for joining my quest for the best today. Thank you so much for having me a pleasure. Dina before we say goodbye for now where's a place that we could find out more but you and your work on line? Sherzer where www dot napkin dot com on social channels where at Napkin finance and the book Napkin Finance Build your wealth in thirty seconds or less available anywhere books are sold. But we're GONNA linked to all of the places that people could buy your book and Follow You and interact with you on social media in the show notes. So it's real easy people remember Napkin finance dot com, and when you go to this episode on my quest for the best, you'll get all the links to other topics that we talked about during the interview, as well as all the way to connect with you and stay current with what's going on at Napkin finance so. Tina, hey author of NAPKIN finance. Thank you once again for joining me on my quest for the best. Thank you so much. Really appreciate in. 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