There are so many people who want to get into music that they’ll do anything. They’ll sell their soul just to talk to the right guy. The barrage of input that they get at record labels and all these places is too much to go through and most of the stuff they get is utter crap, just bad music. Nick Nanton of Celebrity Branding Agency learned early on that people do not know how to sell select, and that he had to had an entertainment attorney but none of them would talk to him because he was only sixteen and his parents didn’t have the money. Nick says that the crux of all of this is that in order to get through the door, in order to do anything in life or business, you have to earn a seat at the table. Nick talks about how he earned that seat at the table and shares how to make yourself a celebrity to your target market.
Listen to the podcast here:
Celebrity Branding: Positioning Yourself To Your Target Market with Nick Nanton
We have a very special guest, Nick Nanton. Nick makes people famous. Nick publishes books. He does movies, he’s got an Emmy on the wall. He’s got an insane amount of social proof, a preponderant of how he’s helping entrepreneurs and business owners take it to the next level with all different forms of media. Nick, thank you so much for joining us.
My pleasure. Good to be here with you and Kevin.
Let’s talk about the suite of services that celebrity media that you provide all the way from bottom of the barrel to Emmy winning documentaries.
Let’s tackle it from why. I started playing guitar at six, started writing songs at 16, put out my first record at 18. Music has been my drug of choice for years and years. Just one of those things you cannot escape from. Most of what I do stems from my frustration as a kid in the music business. The internet’s changed a lot of things but there are so many gates to go through. I was so frustrated as a kid. I was sixteen at that time, there wasn’t the internet like we had prodigy in America Online was starting to come in. We didn’t have like just Google it and find it.
My parents were in the music business. I was a kid in the suburbs of Orlando, writing songs in my bedroom. Where do you go? What do you do? Who do you talk to? I bought some books. That’s the first thing I can think to do and one of them is called All You Need To Know About The Music Business. It is the quintessential music book by this UCLA Law Professor. The biggest secret in this book is you’ve got to find the music lawyer, entertainment lawyer or else no one will talk to you. That’s BS because if you’re spectacularly good at what you do, all the gates fall down and everyone runs to you.
There are so many people in music and the world has become this way now with the internet. For me, there are so many people who want to be in music, who want to get into music. They’ll do anything. They’ll sell their soul just to talk to the right guy, that the barrage of input that they get at record labels and all these places is too much to go through and most of the stuff they get as utter crap. Just bad music. People do not know how to sell and select, I learned that early.
I had to have an entertainment attorney, but none of them would talk to me because I was 16 and my parents didn’t have the money. They didn’t have friends. We were immigrants. They didn’t have a friend that can call to and say, “You’re an entertainment attorney. Talk to my son Nick and I’ll do you a favor.” Back in the day I opened the phone book and started cold calling and they would hear my voice. I was 16 but I was a bit of a late bloomer. I was like, “Hi, I need some information on music.”
I ended up getting through to one guy and it is a funny story. He was Matchbox 20’s lawyer. You remember those guys from back in the day. They were out in Orlando. He was a big deal. He took the time to answer a bunch of my questions. Fifteen years later, I joined this Bible study and that guy was in the Bible study. I was like, “I’ve got to tell you, you were legit. You’re one of the guys who helped me. You’re one of the very few people who helped me along the way.” He’s still doing the right thing but I got lucky there. The crux of all of this is that in order to get through the door, in order to do anything in life or business, you have to earn a seat at the table.
I learned how to seat at the table. The way I got my best seat at the table in music was by going to law school. It’s so bizarre because all of a sudden, I was no longer just a kid writing songs in my bedroom. I was like this kid is in law school writing songs in his bedroom. That’s interesting. That’s different. He must be smart enough to get into law school. All of a sudden, all these doors open and nothing changed. Nothing about my talent level. I was like, “Positioning is just a bizarrely interesting thing.”
Through the mentoring and helping my business partner Jack, whom you know as well, Kevin, over the last fifteen years I’ve really delved into positioning, branding and how to get a seat at the table. What gets me to coauthor a book with you, Kevin, we’ve done that before. What gets me to interview, Richard Branson and Tony Robbins and it’s so interesting to me that it’s all of it and we don’t have to focus on this, but I’m fascinated by it. It’s all in approach and positioning. Whether you even get to have the discussion or not, the deal may not happen. If you even want to have the discussion, it’s all within approach and positioning.
Why I got into what I’m doing because now with my bio set, you make fun of it because it’s funny. I can have a conversation with practically anyone I want to have a conversation with because I have seventeen Emmy nominations, five Emmy wins. I made the documentary on Rudy. I just interviewed Larry King to tell his life story. I’ve interviewed Tony Robbins. I’ve interviewed Will.i.am. from Black Eyed Peas. All of a sudden, you’re a player in the game. If all these people let you do it, “You must be something. Let’s talk.”
I love what you said. Getting you a seat at the table. That means you’ll get a good meal, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to be this big celebrity the rest of your life or anything. It’s funny because people have asked me that when we talk about the Shark Tank thing and everything, I was able to get the meeting with Mark Burnett, that seat at the table. That came because I wrote books and was putting out content and interviewing some cool people like you’ve done. Having the book and then promoting the book was the real beginning of me getting that seat at the table, which is what you do for many, many people. This is one of your revenue strains that is very successful is what you call it, collaborative book publishing. Is that the terminology?
Yes, that’s one of the ways you can call it. We help people get a seat at the table by helping them publish a book the fastest, easiest way. That’s still credible because you and I both know, I was not the first person that game. I will not be the last in the game, but there are so many people who have cheapened to this process so badly. They’ll take $20 from anybody and put out a Kindle thing. Life really revolves around positioning and credibility. It is what it is. Everybody pays their dues one way or the other. We offer that as a service but we do it in a credible way. We have a publisher, we’re distributed by Ingram. We edit the books, we did hardcover books.
We hit Amazon bestsellers. We haven’t owned the National Academy of Best-Selling Authors. We’re about to hold our ninth annual Quilly Awards. The Quillys are made by the people who make the Emmys and the Oscars. These are all things that we created. Someone created the Emmys, someone created the Grammy’s. We’re just early in the game, almost a decade in by the way but it’s all about how this all fits together. So few people do a good job of putting the entire package together from the point of view of what is it that their client, their prospect really wants and what’s going to give them the most credibility.
Price is rarely ever an issue. It’s about what am I getting for the money. I can tell people all day long, “Would you put $500,000 in the marketing?” This is a very broad question. There are so many people who will say, “Could never afford to do that.” I intentionally didn’t ask the whole question. I’m going to ask you a question now. If I could show you how to make $1 million every week, if you could put $500,000 a week in marketing, could you do it?” We have to beg, borrow and steal from everyone they can find. The fact is that’s the value exchange. Most of us as business owners are asking people for the figurative $500,000 without any hope of showing people where the million is on the other side. That’s a very simple example. The point is when we’re packaging things up, we’ve got to be able to find the value in it. There are a lot of things so many people put value on the selling process, put too much value on monetary return as opposed to some of the other returns you can get. I can tell you the positioning returns out I’ve gotten out of the things that I’ve done. I’ve been positioned with so much better for bigger games than if I were watching dollar values.
People asked me, “Did you make money on Shark Tank?” I’m like, “As investments go, I had $500,000 in one deal, close the doors down, lost $500,000. I lost $100,000 on this one and money.” On the actual investments, I probably didn’t make money, but it was the positioning that created a powerful thing that did make me ultimately the money. That’s why I go back to start at the book. I don’t know if Seth is familiar with this, but Nick and I did a book where I realized the power of having my own book. I was doing radio talk shows to promote my book. Mark Burnett was out listening to different things, saw me on the internet, the stat, the book was out. All of a sudden he said, “Come have a seat at the table. Let’s have dinner together at the table for me to decide whether you’re the right kind of guy to be in the show.”
I realized that got me the seat. I then sold it getting on the show and boom, the rest was the future for me but I said, “How do we help the average guy get a seat at the table?” That’s what you’ve been doing. The collaborative book, we had 38 people that got on the cover or a chance to be in the book with me. Then they got their own chapter, and this is the collaborative aspect of it. Bestselling status. They get an award that is the Quilly. That’s even. Seth, you’ve got to see the program that Nick has put together. It’s unbelievable because you come up, you get interviewed, it’s all video, it’s shot. We get you to come on up to get your award. It’s a cool marketing program. You do books, you do videos, you help people market themselves, build their brand, which ultimately opens doors. It takes them to the next step. Is there a long-term program that you bring somebody through all the way?
At the end of the day, I can build you a reputation like no one else, but if you can’t fulfill it, it’s not a whole lot I can do for you. I can position you. I have the connections and then we have the media skillset that we love that we can create. We can put you on an hour special on CNN if you want if that’s what you need. That’s typically not what most people need. A lot of businesses, people just say, “How do I keep the slight edge over the dentist down the street?” I’m not putting that down. That’s when you’re competing at that level. It’s awesome that doing one or two things in an old-fashioned style business where everyone else is competing the old way, you can just do a couple of things and you can crush it all the way up just very sophisticated media strategies. For instance, I’ll tell you about when I was working with one of the most successful hedge fund managers in New York City there is. He brought me in because he realized that he’d been doing it so long. He had so many traders and stuff with them that they were forgetting their own lessons and making bad decisions sometimes, because he wasn’t able to always be there and remind them of how things had gone in the past. As well as he wasn’t always able to even remember after he made a mistake, “Twenty years ago, I made this mistake I should remember.” He said, “How could you help me?”
He brought me in as a consultant. I said, “Here’s the deal. Tell me some of these things.” He basically had these rules of engagement of when they do things. When they never do things when it looks like this. When they look at this, there may be an opening. He had all of these kind of anecdotes from doing this for 20, 30 years. We came with a strategy and one of the strategies was, “Let’s write a book on these strategies.” That is for the external marketplace so that you can give it to any business owner and they’ll appreciate your hedge fundy mind around common concepts. They only thing you need to create, whether it’s published or not, these 70 or 80 whatever isms that you have. Create a list of them and every day at your daily huddle means so that’s what they do. You need to tell two or three of these stories and every year you would have gone through all of them three or four times. Every day you give a couple more of them and you’re always constantly indoctrinating everybody. That’s two pieces of it. Here’s the thing, when your clients come in, they were selling mostly to pension funds, hundreds of millions of dollars at a time. I said, “Here’s what I also want to do. I want to take one of your favorite strategies, the reason why you compete successfully in the pension fund market. Tell me a great story.”
He tells me a great story about a pension fund success he had. Let’s get an original artwork commissioned that helps tell the story. Then we’ll have it painted, we’ll hang it up really big in your conference room. When someone comes in for the pitch, you say, “Look, see this painting.” There’s a reason we have it up in commission because let me tell you a story. They’re going to fall in love with you. They’re going to fall in love with the art. Then when they go home, you’re going to send them a reprint of that artwork for their boardroom. Now of all the gift they got, they remember the story. Every person that walks into their office and go, “Let me tell you about our hedge fund manager.” I try to find unique ways to utilize media and art forms in order to become the most present thing in people’s minds.
It’s a great little lesson learned on that one. You do charitable work. You take your wife, you go to Mexico and you have a lot of things that you give back. That’s what impressed me about you. I have been to your offices and hung out with you in a bunch of different events and stuff. I do the same thing. It’s just great to be able to achieve certain levels of success and then also understand that it’s also about giving back to the world and society. What’s your nearest and dearest thing like that that you do?
We’ve got a bunch of more. It’s important as we’re talking about business and mindset. A lot of people are waiting for a day to come when they can finally do that. You’ll find if you start now, the rest happens. If you start living that abundance and giving, the doors that opened are amazing. Every year, typically, I couldn’t go this year because I had a graduation to go to. My boys and I, and my daughter’s getting old enough, my wife will not come to. We only stayed in an orphanage in Mexico with some other friends of mine and we go every year and we do Christmas party. We helped fix up things. We helped raise enough money to build a new boys dorm, we do stuff like that.
I’m real passionate about an organization in Dominican Republic. We made two movies on where they give microloans to women owned businesses to help them create their own businesses. They’re giving to women because the men run off with the money and drink it away. The women have families to raise so they create businesses. They do great things. I’m actually about to start filming a doc about a really cool organization called K9s For Warriors. They take rescue dogs out of shelters and teach them to be service dogs. Then give them to wounded warriors or PTSD and to do life with. It stops them from committing suicide and literally eradicate suicide because going to go through life. That’s a killer story we’re in the middle of telling right now.
It’s great to connect with you on all levels.
Nick, for those folks who are resonating with what you’re saying and want to get their own story told in a compelling outside the box artistic way, what is the best place for them to reach you?
They can go a NickNanton.com or they can just Google me. I’m not hard to find. Any of those contact forms typically end up making their way to me. I’d love to have a conversation. I have several agents in the office. I’m not filming a lot. I’m working on eleven productions right now, eleven films. If I’m not there though, I have other people come start the conversation. See if it might be a good fit and if it is well we’ll figure out. We’re working with one of the fifteen largest companies in the world right now telling their story through a documentary. We’re working with a private company that’s over a billion dollars in revenue. I’ve done movies on financial advisors and dentists and lawyers. One of my favorite ones is I did a three-part documentary series. I’m a financial advisor who ended up combining the pieces together to create his origin story that was about an hour. He stopped going to his own seminars. His staff would introduce the movie, the movie would play and he was getting appointments at 1% less than if he was there in person. He can be running a seminar in every town every night. I’d be there like, that’s a good gig.
Smart stuff. Keep up the good work.
About Nick Nanton
An Emmy Award-Winning Director and Producer, Nick Nanton, Esq., produces media and branded content for top thought leaders and media personalities around the world. Recognized as a leading expert on branding and storytelling, Nick has authored more than two dozen Best-Selling books (including the Wall Street Journal Best-Seller StorySelling™) and produced and directed more than 40 documentaries, earning 5 Emmy wins and 14 nominations. Nick speaks to audiences internationally on the topics of branding, entertainment, media, business and storytelling at major universities and events.
As the CEO of DNA Media, Nick oversees a portfolio of companies including: The Dicks + Nanton Agency (an international agency with more than 3000 clients in 36 countries), Dicks + Nanton Productions, Ambitious.com, CelebrityPress, DNA Films®, DNA Pulse, and DNA Capital Ventures. Nick is an award- winning director, producer and songwriter who has worked on everything from large scale events to television shows with the likes of Steve Forbes, Ivanka Trump, Sir Richard Branson, Rudy Ruettiger (inspiration for the Hollywood Blockbuster “Rudy), Brian Tracy, Jack Canfield (The Secret, creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul Series), Michael E. Gerber, Tom Hopkins, Dan Kennedy and many more.
Nick has been seen in USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, BusinessWeek, Inc. Magazine, The New York Times, Entrepreneur® Magazine, Forbes, FastCompany, and has appeared on ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX television affiliates across the country as well as on CNN,FOX News, CNBC, and MSNBC from coast to coast.
Nick is a member of the Florida Bar, a voting member of The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (Home to The GRAMMYs), a member of The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (Home to the EMMYs), Co-founder of The National Academy of Best-Selling Authors®, and serves on the Innovation Board of the XPRIZE Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing about “radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity” through incentivized competition, best known for it’s Ansari XPRIZE which incentivized the first private space flight and was the catalyst for Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic. Nick also enjoys serving as an Elder at Orangewood Church, working with Young Life, Downtown Credo Orlando, Entrepreneurs International and rooting for the Florida Gators with his wife Kristina and their three children, Brock, Bowen and Addison.