AdQuick Madvertising Podcast Episode #2: Trung Phan

AdQuick Madvertising Podcast Episode #2: Trung Phan

In episode 2, AdQuick marketing team members Chris Gadek and Adam Singer (your hosts) interview popular internet personality and founder Trung Phan to discuss humor in marketing, timeless advertising strategies, AI & more.

Watch on YouTube here, (also embedded below) listen on Spotify here or Apple Podcasts here.

Transcription follows (auto-generated) below if you prefer text, for accessibility or if you'd like to grab any quotes for re-use via blogging or social.


Chris Gadek (00:00:00)

Welcome to episode two of the AdQuick Madvertising podcast with Chris and Adam, where we sit down with industry leaders and subject matter experts to discuss the hottest topics at the intersection of media, marketing, advertising, and technology. I'm Chris Gadek, and as always, I'm joined by my friend and teammate, Adam Singer. Our guest here-

Trung Phan (00:00:19):

In that order, friend and then teammate.

Chris Gadek (00:00:21):

Friend, exactly. Our guest today is none other than Trung Phan, @TrungTPhan on Twitter. He's one of our favorite personalities on the internet, but I'm actually going to let Adam introduce Trung, because they go way back and it just makes a lot more sense [inaudible 00:00:39]

Trung Phan (00:00:39):

And Twitter and Twitter years, just like dog years. If you knew him on Twitter for a year, it's like a decade.

Adam Singer (00:00:44):

So, Trung has been, I think I'm Trung's favorite reply guy on Twitter. I've been a friend and fan of his for as long as I was lucky enough to stumble upon him online. He's one of the more interesting people on the internet. And so, I'm super excited that he has guest too on our podcast. I know it's a bold statement because the internet is the-

Trung Phan (00:01:05):

You guys are gassing me up quite a bit. And first of all, I'm not a subject matter expert. I just want to establish that, about anything. And there are way more interesting people. I think what Adam is trying to get to is, Adam has a very certain internet aesthetic. You've been around the game, you know a lot of people, especially in Twitter, tech or social, and I think we gravitate towards each other because we don't take it too seriously.

Adam Singer (00:01:30):

That's right. And it's interesting you mentioned too seriously in that. I think a lot of people that get really bent out of shape online are either zoomers super young or boomers super old. And we grew up in this time when we started online and forms weren't taken seriously. People were like, what's AOL? What's MySpace? What's Facebook? And then, all of a sudden we shifted from the having fun, [inaudible 00:01:54] posting online to the toppling of empires, that happened kind of quickly. But, anyway, we have a lot of topics we want to talk about with Trung. We want to talk about things that are interesting for startup founders, for marketers, and for S and P marketers. And so, I'll just dive right in.


Trung, my intro, when I wrote an intro about you, I wrote you are a meme lord, an op-ed columnist, a podcaster, an overall awesome internet persona. So, can we just start with meme lord? Trung, you've cracked the formula of what makes an interesting meme online. And I know I can't ask you how to tell people to be interesting, but how have you done so well at just being consistently able to stand out in social, and be this voice that everyone goes to?

Trung Phan (00:02:47):

So, I just want to, the first thing I'd say is, there's obviously so many good Twitter meme accounts. And I think the one thing that I wanted to say separates, but the one thing I do try to do different is, I use memes as a form of, it's why I want to be on Twitter. I just want to fucking make jokes. That's just the reality. It's this thing that gets me excited. And I know that you specifically, we've talked about this, you get really lit up when people are just dropping these low effort threads because it's bait, and it gets followers.


But, the only reason I do threads ever is so I can get more people looking at my dumb memes. And to answer your specific question of, how do I think about it and why does it seem like the "Able to break through" is, it is a little bit formulaic in the sense of, you can't necessarily teach somebody to be funny, but you can learn how to tweet and be on top of the "Cycle" is you got to be, you do have to be on top of the news cycle.


You have to know that there's a main character every day. It's not necessarily healthy, but listen, if you're a social manager, and anyways or your team has one, they should be on top of that. Twitter Blue actually has a really good feature. The product was formerly called Nuzzel, but if you go now it's called Top Articles and it's like, it basically tells you in your network what are the 10 to 15 top stories, not the trending tab, which can be a disaster sometimes, but literally it's like, what are the 10 to 15 top stories that people in your network are talking about? And then, you just have to jump on with a "Meme." And this is actually something, because you sounds like there's some more serious listeners here. The tactical thing is this, download Mematic, which is the meme making app and go to Imgflip, Mflip. Everybody knows that website.


Because, those two places have all the templates, and you just have to basically "Train yourself" on those templates by literally looking at one or two minutes a day being like, oh, this meme template is a representation of anger, or this one is the representation of FOMO. And then, over time you just build all these templates. And as soon as a news story hits you're just pulling in a library of your head that you have built over. So, I think literally, that's what's happened. It's like, now I'm very quick for, if something happens will have the template in my head. Our friend Ramp is a legend in this game. He's been doing it for much longer than me, but he's super quick and I imagine is similar, because he's built up this library.

Adam Singer (00:05:10):

Totally. And so, along the lines of, say you're someone, you work on a startup or a brand, you learn how to meme, you learn how to get attention online, whether it's creating the news of the day or just commenting on it. Can you talk a little bit about, so I'm someone in those shoes, what do I do once I actually get attention and I am consistent at building a following and engagement? Are there certain ways that you've seen work best to translate that to subscribers, to purchases of your e-commerce store, to signups for your SaaS offer? Get me from making funny memes to business.

Trung Phan (00:05:48):

So, I think the one thing I would say is, I'd be very careful with only being funny. And our friend Doug Boneparth actually talked about this. He was on the Not Investment Advice podcast at the end of last year. And he actually told me, before COVID he had written a lot. Writ every week for three years, financial wealth, money management tips, and then during COVID he went all in on just being a jokester online, built a big audience, 250,000. But, he told me after two years he's like, he felt he pigeonholed himself a bit, because it is a little bit difficult. It's difficult in two ways, transitioning from just being a meme funny person back into semi-serious, trying to give, or trying to acquire customers, or give them actually something that's valuable, or a product that you're selling that would be useful for them.


It is twofold. The first side is, mentally you go viral doing these memes and these quick jokes, and it's very difficult if you are "Addicted" to that dopamine of going viral and then trying to post a serious article that gets 5% of the engagement that you might on a meme. And this is literally, I talk to a lot of people that do this and they have problems with doing that, because you're so addicted to throwing out and putting up "Bangers" that when you post something that is actually more long form and valuable and you've actually put a lot of effort in say an article, well Twitter throttles links first of all, and secondarily, you're just not going to get the same engagement. So, it's just like, physiologically it's not going to be as satisfying posting it. So, that's the one side of why it's difficult if you pigeonhole yourself.


The other side is, you're conditioning your audience to only expect one thing. So, what I would say tactically is, try to have a balance, try to barbell it. And what I mean by barbell is this, you should be doing stuff. If you're going to do a thread, make it actually a good thread, like a high effort thread or write a high effort article, and that barbells your memeing and these quick one-off hitters. And then, people will get used to that mix and just over time you just shake the box and filter out the people that will actually enjoy your long form stuff. But, you've probably heard this before, I'm sure you've talked about it's like, the memes are top of funnel, the cast are really wide net, and then you're just shaking the box to see who comes to the bottom. All right, I guess, the actual analogy here is the funnel, but you know what I mean.

Adam Singer (00:08:15):

Totally. I think you hit on something pretty interesting there. So, hey, I'm going to do these things for attention, get everyone's attention, build, I guess, that trust over time. Oh, I've seen this name, this company enough time and now I'm going to give them something serious to make a purchase. I think companies are instinctively good at the attention thing through products like ours at AdQuick. We let companies basically just buy billboard ads, a lot easier and measure them, and billboard ads, TV cable ads, even social media ads. I think marketers are generally pretty good at, they know what to do. But, I think we dove in here, and everything you're talking about I think is a little bit different of a kind of marketing, because it's not just paying for the space and attention. We're talking about the organic parts of the internet where you have to either earn that attention or I hate this word, but people feel like they have to hack their way into that attention.

Chris Gadek (00:09:21):

You're effectively hacking your way into becoming a publisher, and maybe you could continue on that.

Trung Phan (00:09:29):

Absolutely. If you can do social, well, it's free distribution. It's a cost of your time. But, I know, for example, I have a startup, Bearly AI, AI powered research app. I've done $0 in marketing spend because I don't need to. I do a dumb tweet and then I just plug my app underneath, and I'll just look at some of the metrics. But, I can get 500 clicks right now if I wanted to, because I know I have some banger memes just sitting in my folder, and just the nature of Twitter and what goes underneath. I'm not saying it's a panacea and it's perfect, but the other words that you're talking about, words you hate, if you hate the word hack, you probably also hate the word, owned media. But, there's a reason why all these companies started buying newsletters. Everybody's launching a newsletter. And, not to say that they're all working, but if you own that asset, it's way better than a marketing campaign that's basically useless in a week.

Adam Singer (00:10:31):

I actually don't hate the word rent, owned, earned. I think those are good terms. I don't like hack and guru and ninja so much. And it's interesting because, so you're super interesting and this iconic class voice online, so you can have that upper funnel attention. But, I do think one mistake a lot of start ups make is saying, oh, Elon doesn't buy ads, so I'm not going to buy ads. Ads could be a great thing for you.

Trung Phan (00:11:00):

Oh no, people should definitely buy ads. What I'm saying is that, there is an avenue where you can be very low cost in terms of a monetary. Again, there's going to be a time cost. So, it's not to say that this is "Free" and it's not even owned. I'm on Twitter, that could be rug tomorrow. But, it goes back to an earlier question you had it's like, what's the point of having those attention? So, everybody here will probably have seen it. It's like, something viral. Second tweet is a plug for an own asset, podcast, newsletter or your product. It's a pretty standard move. Unfortunately, that's the best way to do it on Twitter. They got rid of Revue, which was the newsletter that they acquired, but the Revue had a really good feature which is like, it's an integrated button where you just, the email connected to your Twitter. You just one clicked and you got that email. So, even that tiny friction converted like crazy.


They should add that for, I know that Elon's pushing the Twitter Blue subscription. I'm subscribed to it mostly because I really like the Top Articles feature and I've gotten so much personal value out of Twitter that I actually just want to give the company money. But, I think that tool would be super effective to something you asked before. It's like, what's the point of getting all this attention? It's like, can Twitter or any of these platforms make it much, Instagram only makes it really easy. You can shop right on the platform. But, I'd say, listen, you can do, if you're a corporate brand, it's worthwhile obviously trying and everyone does try, but i would just, my "Advice" would be like, listen, barbell it. Don't get stuck being just a joke individual, because it's a bit jarring when you get a bit more serious. So, there's got to be a balance there. That's how I'd frame it.

Adam Singer (00:12:50):

Awesome. And so, Chris, I think that actually leads into some of the questions you wanted to ask about brand stories that Trung had shared.

Chris Gadek (00:12:59):

I think before we jump into brand stories, I think there's one more thing that I wanted to ask Trung which is, there are playbooks and formulas to go viral. Obviously, not all of them are great content. I think you've mentioned this in your Not Investment Advice podcast. What are some formats that people use regularly that you think are just played out and could be retired right around now? Some of the ones I'm thinking about I think are, here everybody does this, they're all wrong, here's how you should do it right? It's tired [inaudible 00:13:31]

Trung Phan (00:13:31):

Or that there's two billion Gmail users, here are the eight features that none of them know about, or here are 11 websites that are so illegal. The thing is this, they work, and they still work, but I personally will never use them, and this is a personal thing. It's not for me and I'll roll my eyes when I see them, but if it fits with your "Brand" just, honestly it works. I'm not saying, and I'm not supporting it, but I'm also understanding that I can't just apply my knee-jerk cringe reaction to things to other circumstances. Some people are happy to do that. And if it's consistent with what they're trying to sell or what they're trying to represent, by all means do that. I would just personally never in a million years do it. So, my answer to your question is, it works. And if you are comfortable doing it, I'm personally going to judge you.

Chris Gadek (00:14:32):

It's kind of cringey.

Trung Phan (00:14:34):

I'm personally going to judge you for about that split second. But, if you don't care, by all means. But, what I will say is this is, personally the things that I've written that have gone most viral have actually correlated pretty highly with how much effort I've put into it. I think people, when they read, people understand it's like, a good thread takes longer to write than a comparable sized essay, and the reason is because of the restrictions. Each tweet obviously 280 characters, and to keep that narrative and each tweet wanting the individual to keep reading the next one, it's actually very difficult from a narrative standpoint. Lists are obviously easy, because each tweet is a list, but a narrative story that keeps going is actually very difficult, because you need every tweet to be able to stand on its own and for a good thread.


The reason I say that is because, you want people to be quote retweeting each tweet in that thread. That's the reason why lists are so easy, because you can quote retweet anything in that thread without context. It's like, you don't need the full context of the thread. But, I put a lot of effort into, when I write a long form thread where, I'm talking about, I put 15 to 20 hours into a thread just because I went down the rabbit hole and I'm like, oh, I might have, and I have sometimes reconverted into essays. But, the whole point is, I put a lot of effort into some of my "Most viral" best work, and I think that comes through.


And again, it depends on what the purpose is for everyone. This is my, I guess, for me, I'm like, hey, I'm going to be somebody that people look to for jokes, but also "Good storytelling" or stories they hadn't heard of, so it was worthwhile for me to put that effort in. So, going back to your point it's like, do I coach against it? No. I don't want to coach against anything. I'd say, if they work, they work, but make sure you're willing to take that brand or personal hit because a lot of people will actually, and maybe even some of your potential customers or people that could buy from you will be like, oh damn, this guy's doing this too, because it comes out with very low effort.

Chris Gadek (00:16:39):

That's true. But, you've put in the effort, and for those of our audience that isn't super familiar with you. Was it safe to say that these high effort threads that you've compiled, I know that you write for Bloomberg, has that helped guide you in that direction? Can you share a little bit more about that and some of the brand stories that you've covered, and maybe some of the favorites that you've had over the last year or so?

Trung Phan (00:17:08):

I think writing in this manner was, it was pre Bloomberg or any publication I've written for. Actually, I was contacted by Bloomberg and the editor because of my writing on Twitter and my newsletter. So, I would say that superseded it, and I was very happy that it was kind of the less serious, but the combination of entertainment and education was able to be transferred over to Bloomberg. I wrote a couple last year that I really enjoyed. Probably one, I know I sent it to Adam and we talked about, it was about Bloomberg, oh no, sorry, about LinkedIn. And we joke about LinkedIn all the time, but it's actually, it's a pretty good platform to use for customer, to build actually a content mode, or if you wanted to build the equivalent of what I'm doing on Twitter or what you guys have done, it's because there is a huge content deficit on LinkedIn.


We actually break down the numbers, and I wrote this for Bloomberg in the Fall. So, LinkedIn's about six to 700 million users. It's not ideally active the way Twitter is. Twitter's much more addictive than LinkedIn for people that are truly addicted. But, we're talking about three times the base and very, in terms of content, just a fraction of the content that Twitter is, so huge content deficit on LinkedIn. So, what that means effectively is that, you can actually shit post on LinkedIn, because a lot of people like-

Chris Gadek (00:18:39):

And some of our friends too.

Trung Phan (00:18:40):

Chris Burke's one of the best on it, and it's like... He's in a different position too. Because, obviously, for a lot of, he's a founder, CEO of his company, he doesn't have to answer to anybody.

Chris Gadek (00:18:48):


Trung Phan (00:18:48):

Whereas, most people that are on LinkedIn, I'm guessing, are associated with an employer, and it limits how much you can shit post and or post anything, but that's why there's a content deficit. Because, listen, if I'm working at, I don't know, I used to work at big corporate bank in Canada. If I'm posting every day on LinkedIn, they're like, what is this guy doing? Is he trying to get another job? You know what I mean? It's like, but that's why there's such a huge content deficit. And that's why if you can be in a position that I am where I don't care what I post, I'm not going to post anything that can get me canceled, hopefully not, but I actually don't care that I'm posting all the time, making these dumb jokes, it's a massive advantage, because there's such a big content deficit. So, that was an article I really enjoyed.


The broader question that you had about the writing style and did writing for Bloomberg or writing here kind of affected is like, I've always wanted to meld humor and education except from the top. My initial instinct to do threads is because I'm like, I know this is how people get followers, but I really wanted followers just so I can make dumb memes. So, humor really is my North Star, and maybe it's not for everyone, but I think LinkedIn is a interesting place because of that content deficit, no matter what you're trying to accomplish.

Adam Singer (00:20:08):

Well, I think you hit on something important is that, humor is a core tenant of great marketing. Whether if you're marketing a product or an idea, you also like the idea of using humor and entertainment as a vehicle for education. So, it's the sugar that you put in the medicine to give people.

Trung Phan (00:20:28):


Adam Singer (00:20:28):

Whether it's by index funds and chill, or whether it's something about your career advice or something boring, you're making it more palatable for people, I think is a good tenant of just marketing in general.

Trung Phan (00:20:42):

Well, I think, well, a 100%. It is not shocking that good and memorable advertisements are funny. It's one of the key human normal reactions. The thing that I'd add to your point, Adam, and you do bring up a good point, and it's super salient now because of generative AI is, you're leaning into what makes you different, and leaning into human, which is a truly human thing, is something that people are going to have to start doing, because generative AI has got the boring stuff covered. And not to say that ChatGBT is a 100% correct, but if you want 80% just dry, here's X, Y, Z, you're out of a job. And that's why you got to lean into these personal things and the things that make you different and things that get reactions out of people that an AI typically wouldn't be able to, and humor is probably the main one.

Adam Singer (00:21:38):

A 100%. And so, I think this leads into you, this is an advertising podcast. We're talking to a lot of advertisers, you're a fan of great advertising. You've had so many threads of how some of the quintessential companies in America built themselves on things that we remember, whether it's the Coca-Cola bears or anything like that. Do you have a favorite thread or a favorite story about a brand either doing cool, creative or something awesome to break the mold?

Trung Phan (00:22:09):

Oh yeah. I wrote about it. We'll laugh about it. I wrote it last week. It was about Absolut Vodka campaign. You guys remember that, right?

Adam Singer (00:22:14):


Trung Phan (00:22:15):

So, longest running print ad campaign ever. I'm sure every listener here has seen one of their ads. It's literally just a silhouette of the Absolut Vodka bottle, and it's the word Absolut, and then whatever they're trying to represent as a visual. So, they'll say, Absolut Los Angeles, and they'll just be a pool in LA in the shape of the bottle, or they'll say, Absolut Warhol. Andy Warhol did a collaboration with them, and it's the Bottle and the painting by Andy Warhol. And, the why I love that campaign is, there's so much of this instinct to literally reinvent the wheel and like, oh, we got to be so original. We have to do something that's never been seen before. And what I appreciate about the Absolut campaign is, so they did 1,500 of these ads over 25 years, longest running print ad campaign ever, and they just did the same thing over and over. And just the repetition, what is the marketing, rule seven? That people won't make a decision, a buying decision until they've seen a brand seven times. Is that right?

Adam Singer (00:23:16):

Actually, I think Google did a study and it was like 10.4 now, it's even higher.

Trung Phan (00:23:18):

Oh, it's higher. It's because there's so much. The attention game is just so savage now. So, call it 10 times. So, there's this instinct where people are like, oh, we have to do something brand new. Everything's been seen before. The one thing I say is that, don't assume that everything's been seen before. And I make this mistake a lot, because I'm fortunate to have been able to live the life I want to live, which is I read and write a lot, and the reality is that a lot of people listen to my podcast, read my newsletter, or read my tweets, they actually have real jobs. And I say real jobs not to say that I'm not doing real work. They have jobs were they can't just be on the internet all day. Exactly. We're throwing the quotes up because I still, when my parents ask me what I do for a living, I still can't even really explain to them what's going on.


But, most people have these other responsibilities. So, I can't be in the mindset where everybody's read everything I've read that day. And I think the same thing applies to these ideas of these ad campaigns that repeat and repeat and repeat. Just don't assume that people have already seen something, or your exposure to it is representative of what they've seen. And the beauty of what the Absolut campaign was, as we said, the rule of 10 now, I guess, but it's also, repetition is such a powerful tool, and I think it's underrated because people have this sense of, oh, this person's repeating themselves, or they'll get a comment on socials like, hey, I just saw this. Didn't you post this last week? It's like, that person's not representative of like, or I'll give you an example. So, just call my followers that are, apparently I have 580,000 followers on Twitter. I don't know how many are bots. Let's just assume that half of them are bots or whatever.


But, every time I tweet, I'm assuming that less than 10% of that network will see it. And, that's particularly true now with what's happening with the algorithm. So, if I repost something in three months, I have more followers in three months. And then, the fact that only 10% saw the first time is like, now we're down 5% saw it the first time. So, not only am I repeating something, only 5% of the people that saw it the first time are even seeing the second time. So, goes back to your original question is, why do I like the ad campaign? I think repetition is underrated and people feel like, you feel icky a bit if you're repeating yourself. But, the reality is that, it's only because you know how many times you've done it, no one else knows.

Chris Gadek (00:25:44):

How do you think about repetition across other channels? So, you post something to Twitter, what is your playbook there would you say?

Trung Phan (00:25:52):

Same deal, just repeat, repeat, repeat. You guys do help with out-of-home stuff, it's the same idea. So, what's the entire point of out-of-home? It's just a reminder. It's like, oh, [inaudible 00:26:03]

Chris Gadek (00:26:02):

Reach and frequency.

Trung Phan (00:26:04):

That's it. So, [inaudible 00:26:07] I just want to add one more thing, Adam. The last thing I'll say about this is, this is the number one thing I think I would say, nobody fucking cares about you. It's like, this is a reality. Nobody cares. Even if somebody saw me tweet the same thing for the 10th time, they're going to think about it for one second and be like, oh, there goes Trung again, and they'll never think about it again. That's it. That's the worst case scenario. And, I don't care if that person feels that way. So, nobody should care. That's a lesson. Just repetition, and don't feel about the downside of like, oh, I'm going to care, or this person's going to care. Nobody cares.

Adam Singer (00:26:42):

I think I agree with all of that. And one of the benefits of, I think when you were on any of your appearances on CNBC, or TV, or an out-of-home ad, I think all of the legacy media formats help you appear a little bit more larger than life, and we still place this added emphasis on them. I think anything in the real world, even you giving a talk at a conference, those clips still, they add a different bit of weight than us being on a podcast.

Trung Phan (00:27:15):

I agree.

Adam Singer (00:27:16):

I honestly think that's why Joe Rogan, who has a number one podcast is smart by having the Joe Rogan experience behind him. And I think, I'm not a professional podcaster, but if I was going to, I would actually have a physical world logo.

Trung Phan (00:27:29):

You know who nails your exact point? You know Saagar and Krystal from Breaking Points, the YouTube show?

Adam Singer (00:27:35):


Trung Phan (00:27:36):

So, Saagar Enjeti and Krystal Ball, so they said this, he left, I think the political of The Hill, she left MSNBC, and he said that the reason he wears a suit, even though he does independent media is because, when that clip of him gets shared around between families and WhatsApp groups chat, the people that don't know him, he wants that instant veneer of respectability or kind of like, oh, this is a serious matter. Whereas, if I was telling that news, they touch on very serious topics and people ask them it's like, why don't you look like the rest of these YouTubers, really dressed down and very informal? Because it's like, the topic matter I'm trying to do is quite serious, and I'm trying to take this audience away from Fox, CNN, CNBC, and if I'm doing that, I have to play the part a bit. And I think it goes to your point is like, being a "Media Personality," even though I've got zero direct tangible value from going on CNBC, it plays into this part. It gives this more weight, as you said.

Adam Singer (00:28:46):

And I think that Lex Friedman does a great job of that as well.

Trung Phan (00:28:50):

Oh, he wears a suit. Exactly.

Adam Singer (00:28:51):

And it's funny, because we all look up to tech billionaires that are wearing Lululemon, and it's such a vibe, but I think we're a little bit, we need to not be so removed from the fact that your aesthetic and what you wear does matter. Chris actually-

Trung Phan (00:29:09):

Oh, we're such in a low bubble. We're in a tiny bubble.

Adam Singer (00:29:12):

Bubble, totally.

Trung Phan (00:29:13):

Tech Twitter is such a bubble. 90% of people have, 99% of the, my close friends don't know what's going on in Twitter. I'll tell them a story about a Twitter story. They'll be like, Trung, what are you talking about? They have no idea what's going on. This goes out to the point of like, I make the mistake of assuming people have my context. And, I just wanted to add to your point, Adam, the reality is that this idea of living in this tech Twitter, Lululemon, shout out to Vancouver company, is that aesthetic is 99% of America. That's just not their thing, or 90% of North America.

Adam Singer (00:29:49):

You know what's so interesting is, so we say this, and then at the same time, and this always breaks my brain a little bit, is when traditional media take a small thing in social and blow it up to be a firestorm of polarization. And it's like three people with 20 followers said something and now its, people are saying, so it kind of goes both ways where it's like, they're using these examples for attention, and then people in social are using their 32nd clip in traditional media for attention. So, it's almost become this really post-modern landscape where-

Trung Phan (00:30:24):

It's reflexive, right?

Adam Singer (00:30:24):


Trung Phan (00:30:25):

It's like the whole George Soros thing is like, these things are, I heard a very, I can't remember, it actually might have been Rogan and Saagar, because Saagar was just on the Rogan show talking about this phenomenon. It's like, you read these Times articles where they're like, oh, social media's blowing up, and it's like you said, it's literally a person of three followers, probably some psyop account being outraged, and they'll say it, but then people will take that Times headline and be, oh, look at The Times. They're misrepresenting this story again. And it is very reflexive like that.

Adam Singer (00:31:00):

Chris, should we ask Trung questions about the balloon, or should we stick to our initial...

Chris Gadek (00:31:05):

Oh, I'm tempted.

Trung Phan (00:31:06):

We're not talking about the balloon boys.

Adam Singer (00:31:07):

We're not talking about the balloon.

Chris Gadek (00:31:11):

We could go, transition into TikTok. No, just kidding. I know you just did a thing about that.

Trung Phan (00:31:17):

I'm happy to talk about TikTok. Well, it is probably not in the right platform for it but, listen, and you guys know this. You're in the game. It is a beast. It is an absolute customer acquisition beast if you do it well. I just think the whole thing should be banned, so that's it.

Adam Singer (00:31:34):

If I had to place my chips on one, I would still put it on YouTube over TikTok for a laundry list [inaudible 00:31:39]

Trung Phan (00:31:39):

Oh, I would. I think too, the monetization [inaudible 00:31:42] is just unmatched. But, you know what's funny? It's not funny, but I think Microsoft's going end up buying TikTok, and Satya Nadella is literally just going to be the greatest CEO ever.

Adam Singer (00:31:52):


Chris Gadek (00:31:54):

I can see that.

Adam Singer (00:31:54):

That's a bold call.

Trung Phan (00:31:54):

Well, who else can do it? Who else can afford 50 bill, 30 to 50 bill? It's literally Oracle. The original deal with Trump was Oracle and Walmart, right? Microsoft was in an early bidding. You literally have five companies that can do it. It's not a difficult call. Microsoft obviously has a little bit of antitrust heat right now with Activision, but I think that deal's going to go through, but they're the only ones that could pull up. Facebook would never be able to buy TikTok. Google will never be able to buy it. Microsoft's going to buy TikTok, man. It's going to be hilarious.

Adam Singer (00:32:25):

All right, Chris, do you want to keep going through [inaudible 00:32:27]

Chris Gadek (00:32:27):

So, we were talking about how politics and the macro situation has been influencing a lot of people's marketing campaigns, what they're talking about. What do you think folks actually need to know about what's going on in the world and how it's going to affect maybe their messaging to the world? Is it a time to be a little bit more serious, or is it a time to be a little bit more funny?

Trung Phan (00:32:53):

That's a great question. I think online, specifically on Twitter, I think the humor just never ends. It's like, I saw this tweet that perfectly captured it. On the day that the queen died, Cardi B wrote this tweet, she's like, I can't believe you all doing these tweets, but I can't stop laughing, you know what I mean? Or something to the effect of, I'm going to hell for laughing, you know what I mean? I remember when that happened, and I'm Canadian, it was a big deal for a lot of people that I know, and obviously the queen still represents Canada. But, I remember going on Twitter, I'm like, oh, literally just scrolling every two hours was just like this, I was like, oh, that one's bad. And it was just the instinct of, I think, on that platform, very much different than obviously a LinkedIn or IG.


It's specific to every platform. It's like, what is the personality of that platform? I think IG would be a lot less receptive to just shit posting about that type of story. I may be wrong, but I think it's all dependent. Twitter specifically, I think people are more than happy to use humor as a way to cope. If you use, or are on crypto Twitter over the past year, all you saw were jokes, as everyone literally just got completely wiped. And so, I think that would be the frame I'd use. Jokes are still worthwhile and usable, and I'm not going to say anything about, hey, do I think it's recession or is it bad? Just my personal anecdote based on people I deal with and companies I deal with its like, everything we've seen with tech at 200,000 layoffs in the past three to six months, it's bad. And, it's bad and maybe a lot worse for tech than it is for the rest of the economy.


Ben Thompson, from Stratechery actually wrote about it today. He's like, I think you guys should look at it. The economy's recovering. We got 500,000 new jobs blowing out the estimates. I think last week it was supposed to be a 100,000 new jobs, it came up 500, the prim. Not to say that that's speaking to the entirety of the economy, but it's tough to have a recession when you're adding way more jobs than you expected. But, tech is, I think, quite specific, I think are way ahead of it skis, and if a lot of your advertisers and marketers are dealing with tech, I think the pain will continue through this year because these 200,000 firings, the ripple effect of that is these people not spending money anymore. And those startups not buying other SaaS tools, or even AWS is slowing down more than Azure, because AWS caters to startups. So, you're all going to see that ripple effect until probably through the rest of this year. So, I think there's going to be pain. I don't think it's done for tech specifically, but humor has been very useful.

Chris Gadek (00:35:31):

And there's one thing that Adam, I think mentioned earlier last week on Twitter where he was like, it's exceptionally shitty to be dogging on people that are going through this right now. And Adam, maybe-

Trung Phan (00:35:44):

I agree with you at a 100%. The one thing I think, actually, Adam, was it you that posted this? When people were making fun of the Google employees and look, I totally get the idea of overpaid Silicon Valley employees. I get it. I work for a startup that was well funded on the East Coast that had similar vibe, but getting fired, it's fucking awful. It's one of the worst things that can happen to people psychologically. And it took every bone in my body not to try to make a meme about it, and I somehow didn't, because all I saw were really, again, it was the same thing. You're just shaking your head looking at these things. You can laugh, but have a sensitivity. It's like, it's not cool. Even if people were extremely "Overpaid," there's a psychological damage that everybody should be sympathetic to.

Adam Singer (00:36:29):

You don't know anyone's situation, whether they're getting divorced, they have a lawsuit against them, they're [inaudible 00:36:36]

Trung Phan (00:36:35):

How many kids they got, exactly.

Adam Singer (00:36:39):

You can't make those assumptions. It's striking to me how it is nearly always finance bros that are shitting on tech bros.

Trung Phan (00:36:48):


Adam Singer (00:36:48):

Because, it's almost the, I had to put in however many years and work hard, so everyone else should, which is a weird mindset. It's very boomer esque. I had to do this-

Trung Phan (00:36:59):

It's the investment banking mindset. It's, oh, I work a 100 hours. I'm like, okay, cool. This 10X engineer works one hour. He is delivering value to a billion users. It's like, he's worth it.

Adam Singer (00:37:08):

It's not the same sector and they pattern match that, everything is investment banking. You should have to spend weekends of your life working in spreadsheets to move up. And, otherwise, if you didn't grind enough, you're not worthy. And it's pretty mid to think like that.

Trung Phan (00:37:25):

I agree with you. It's like, so to go back, when I say use humor, specifically myself is, if I do use humor is to punch up our inanimate objects like corporations. There was a period where I actually got called out. I hit, I think I hit 400,000 followers. I think I made a joke about an individual on LinkedIn. You remember who it was? He was crying the crying CEO on LinkedIn, and it was a cheap shot, even though he brought it on himself. I'm like, ah, I don't need to dump on this guy. Somebody messaged me. I felt bad. He's like, Trung, you've gone to a point where I think enough people follow you and you can put enough attention onto something that it might not be like this. You don't need to do this.

[NEW_PARAGRAPH]He's like, this is not worth it. And I agreed with him, because it felt like punching down, not that just punching down even, it's like, what I'm saying is, I'm sticking to corporations and I'm punching up at max. It is like, people that, you know what I mean? Some people can take it. The Drakes of the world can take a little meme or here or there. It is like, these guys are on set different levels, but I think, you know what I mean.

Adam Singer (00:38:38):

It's really interesting, because I think people like yourself that are influencers in the business world, they understand the time it's appropriate to say something and not. I think for the most part brand marketers know when it's appropriate to make a meme or not. But, I think there's going to be infinite more examples forever into the future where you get someone who doesn't know where it's appropriate. And, I think the challenge for a lot of people is for them it feels like that line is not only different for everyone, but then it's also moving for everyone.


So, I think it's a really hard challenge, not just online and on Twitter, not just in billboards, not just in TV, I think everywhere of knowing what you can do and where you can go, I think that's both exciting as a creative person, if you're an advertising creative, what can we get away with and what's fun and interesting? But, now also it's really scary because, could my brand be canceled? Could my job be canceled? And so, I think one of the ways to stay ahead of that is to follow the culture, but it's also kind of an impossible task and challenge.

Trung Phan (00:39:52):

You're right. Well, so I'd say this, I know Don from Know Your Meme, he's the editor. They have actually a B2B product for brand safety around memes. I've checked it out. It's something worth exploring. So, Know Your Meme Insights, I believe it's called. The other thing I'd say is, to your point, Adam, it's tough to stay on top, but I think there's a heuristic you can use. It's kind of to the point I'm saying. If you actually look at some of the "Best performing" memes I've made, they're about corporations. They're about fictional characters and TV shows. They're about ideas. They're not about individuals. And, it took these, a couple people messaging me being like, Trung, that was pretty shitty. I think this individual, it's quite targeted what you're doing, and you don't even know this person. I'm like, you're right.


Corporations are completely fair play to me. Fictional television shows, movies, completely fair play to me, and that's kind of where I've moved with my "Memeing" or the top 100 richest people, they're always fair play. Nothing too mean though. Honestly, it's like you said Adam, you just don't know. You don't know what these people are going through. So, when I do take shots or if I "Take shots," they're more of the line of making fun of maybe a product that this person released, or a very specific thing they said. But, I think that heuristic of going after inanimate objects is a good one.

Adam Singer (00:41:21):

Chris, I also think if you're a brand marketer and you're making ad creative and you can't use Don Draper or one of these characters, I still think if you were to follow someone like Trung and look how he uses archetypes, you could come up with your own creative based on what he's doing with memes, just with your own characters and your own narrative. And it's like, you could almost steal from what shit posters online are doing and have it be really sticky and not have to focus group anything. You could just take things that are popular and borrow them.

Chris Gadek (00:41:52):

Absolutely. And this is one thing that I wanted to circle back to. Earlier you said Trung, I have a folder. I know I got some things I could drop 500 likes right off the bat, I got these bangers. Let's unpack that folder of yours. I was listening to Not Investment Advice over the weekend. It's becoming one of my top podcasts to listen to.

Trung Phan (00:42:14):

I appreciate that.

Chris Gadek (00:42:14):

And one of the things that you said is, you used this term, curated information flow, which is what I imagine is gathering the inputs for the work you put out. And so, can you walk us through how you think about that, and how do they fit into the workflow? Because, our audience obviously is marketers, advertisers, they have their hands on the keyboard. I would like some of our podcasts to cover some process workflow stuff. So, how do you think about that folder of yours? How do you gather information? What can our audience learn from you in that regard?

Trung Phan (00:42:50):

So, the actual gathering is extremely sloppy and probably sounds, I'm sure a lot of people will do this, it's literally just Google Docs and Apple Notes with just endless bullet points. Every time there's a dumb idea, I'm bullet pointing it. And I'm sure you guys have done this too [inaudible 00:43:06] where you email yourself. I have this 85 long email thread that I just started a week ago. I'm like, oh, this might be the best way because it's always at the top. I don't use Roam, I don't use Evernote. I've tried all that stuff. It doesn't work for me. If it works for you, amazing. But, it just never worked for me. But, to your point, the information flow is, it's nothing surprising. I cover what I need to do. So, I have the Wall Street Journal app on my phone, Financial Times, New York Times, Bloomberg, subscribe to probably 30 newsletters, and every morning that's it. I just cycle through it.


And, I say this knowing that being on top of the news is actually not the best use of my time for long form writing, because the newsy stuff is actually not super effective. I've been better off just reading books, but because I like to fire off some dope memes, that's the reason I do it. But, I think have that routine where you're going through your sources. I'm sure the marketers and advertisers have their marketing newsletters or advertising newsletters. They're reading Ad Age every morning, but have a folder. Just have something where you're dumping ideas. And I don't know how best to do it top of mind, but I apologize if there's not a good process around it. I just know I read and I drop ideas, and it goes back to something I mentioned earlier.


It's like, if you have the templates that you've built up for these memes, that's where that kind of connective tissue happens. So, if there is something more tactical it's like, do you try to spend a couple of minutes a day if this is relevant to your job, but looking at Mematic, looking at Mflip. Follow some of the top meme accounts on Instagram and Twitter and look at what those templates are. Because, I could tell you, so I have one, one million liked tweet, and it was a template that I sat on for a year. So, you know what I mean? It's like, I saw it and I'm like, oh, I'm just going to sit on this one when something perfect happens. And it was just the perfect time, right moment, a million likes. Insane.

Chris Gadek (00:45:05):

What was that moment?

Trung Phan (00:45:05):

50 Million impressions. New Years. It was something, a New Year's meme. I'll post it later. But, the whole point is, I sat on that template and you guys will know it. It's really famous. It's a blinking eye guy, but I'd never seen it in the template they had done. You know the GIF for the guy that looks at something and just blinks. But, somebody had done it where, so it's three panels. The first panels is his eyes open, second panel is he blinks, and the third panel is his eyes wide open. But, they'd done so like, each one is kind of telling a different story. It was a three by two. Anyways, I'm butchering it out. It got a million likes. That's all you need to know.

Adam Singer (00:45:42):

I like what you said though about personally curating ideas. And I think to your point, the tool set doesn't matter. The fact that you are personally curating whatever-

Trung Phan (00:45:52):

Oh, yeah. I'm very intentional. To your point is, I'm very intentional of having those apps on my phone in one folder. I just rip through them.

Adam Singer (00:46:00):

Mr. Beast is on record of doing the same thing. He just has a long Google Doc with a 1,000 ideas in it. And it's like, for a creative person you're either, I think everyone's on the spectrum of either being super creative or wildly organized. And it's like, it's super rare to get people in the middle, almost doesn't exist. Chris is in the middle. He's actually organized and creative and there's like no other Chris. I can't find them where all these are weirdly creative or technical. And then, tools help but almost, if you're just a super creative person, I think if you get that in one place, you're wrangling the chaos of your-

Trung Phan (00:46:36):

Listen, this has nothing to do with me, but go look at the final picture of Albert Einstein's desk. The there's a photo online.

Adam Singer (00:46:42):

It's a mess. It's chaos.

Trung Phan (00:46:43):

It's just a fucking disaster. And listen, no one here ever is going to be Albert Einstein, but it is like, if this guy can do what he was doing with that, it was like, you don't need Roam and Evernote to write your weekly meme newsletter Trung.

Adam Singer (00:46:59):

I worked on Google Analytics, the world's most popular analytics software.

Trung Phan (00:47:03):

Name-drop, easy buddy, easy Adam.

Adam Singer (00:47:06):

And one of the things, and I still say this users with Ad Quick as well, is there is no easy button in marketing software analytics software. And it's like people want this easy button for a creative process for anything else. And even with ChatGBT and whatever, I've used it to spin up a skeleton of an idea, but if I wasn't there to edit it and curate it, it's not interesting. It's like [inaudible 00:47:31]. It's not interesting. It's like a stock photo or stock video of going through [inaudible 00:47:38].

Trung Phan (00:47:38):


Adam Singer (00:47:38):

It's just generic.

Trung Phan (00:47:39):

Well, I'll tell you what the generative AI stuff is. Listen, it is obviously very impressive, but you kind of get a sense. You read it and you're like, oh, you can tell the difference. You can really tell the difference. And it goes to what we've talked about is, that's why having your personality is such an important piece of the puzzle, because I think people can tell. It's like, look at all this art that came out from DALL-E and Stable Diffusion and Midjourney. It's cool, it's awesome. But, after seeing a million of them, I'm like, oh, cool. It's like, doesn't really matter to me anymore. Not to say that you can't make really good stuff. I've seen people joke about prompt engineering, like writing the correct text to create these images. Some people are incredible. But, you get a sense get, if you see more.

Adam Singer (00:48:32):

It's not going to be different than being a really good Googler and being able to-

Trung Phan (00:48:33):

No, it's the same. But, what I say is, I think the learning curve for being a good Googler is a lot shorter than being a learning curve for problem engineering, specifically because of how back and forth degenerative models are.

Chris Gadek (00:48:49):

For Google, all you need is a good bullion string or whatever.

Trung Phan (00:48:52):


Adam Singer (00:48:53):

The other problem I think is also distribution. So, great. It can create the infinite content. But, unless you have a Trung behind it to curate and take this infinite world of things and condense it to something interesting, it's worthless.

Trung Phan (00:49:13):

Well, it's Ben Thompson's, his various aggregation theory again is, in the world of infinite content, what wins? It's on the demand side. And who wins on the demand side? People that can curate. So, individuals, brands, or services like Google that can offer you discovery or search. So, I think, generative AI just makes the trust in the individual that much more important. And it's a great point. That's a great point.

Adam Singer (00:49:44):

So, I have a question for you Trung, because you're super well connected, you're a creative individual. Any marketing team would be like, they can't hire you because you're not going to be a marketer. But, how should a marketing team go about actually finding a new creative director in the internet age, or for the internet age?

Trung Phan (00:50:03):

People ask me this a lot and something, I think the places you can find a lot of undiscovered talent, not undiscovered talent, but you want to see people that can actually operate in the internet is again, you got to be super, are you online? Are you very online? You'll find individuals that have these skillsets or the sixth senses that I've talked about. I know a bunch of 17 year olds that are sending fire memes every day and they're terminally online, and you see them tweeting and being on top of the news cycle and having fire memes at a very young age. It probably helps that they don't have any other responsibility, they can be online a lot. And those individuals are the ones that, you don't want to look at somebody's CV to try to hire them. You got to see the output.


And so, when people ask me, they ask a lot about newsletter writers. I wrote for the Hustle for a year and a half, a business tech newsletter. And people ask me, hey, how do you find this individual's like, you actually know great place. Go check Substack. And if you find people, it doesn't have to even be a big one, probably don't even want a big one. You want to see people that are publishing consistently, because the main muscle you need that I haven't even talked about is honestly just consistency. It's boring a say, but if you could show up every single day and do it, that's going to be better than almost anything else. That's just a reality. And ways to do that is look through people's Twitter feed.


This probably sounds archaic, but Jimmy Fallon, when he was hiring writers for the show, he would just go through their entire Twitter feed. That was the first thing he'd do. He's like, okay, cool. You sent me five jokes. Let me see what your output was on Twitter. Were you on top of different news stories? Were you actually dropping funny jokes instantly? So, I think if you're trying to find people, if you guys wrote it in the chat here, it's like terminally online and you can tell, and consistency. Has somebody published a 100 Substacks with 10 subscribers? That tells you a lot about what that person.

Chris Gadek (00:51:29):

Go ahead, Adam.

Adam Singer (00:52:05):

I was going to say, so I'm someone who's terminally online sometimes, but one thing that I've tried to get back into being at an out-of-home advertising company is to get offline more. And a reason is, I still think, I only have, people are like, I have 80,000 followers on Twitter and have maybe Substackers. People are like, how you have that? And I'm like, it's not from posting online. It's actually from a decade of being on the speaker circuit and going to an event and I would get 500 new actual human not bot followers. And so, I still think and about, I actually worry sometimes about the fully terminally online people, because that time offline ultimately gets you to a creative space. You can do good things online. So, we have to get the kids in the real world too.

Trung Phan (00:52:54):

Fair enough. A 100%. I guess, my only rebuttal that'd be is, its well harder to tell if somebody is consistent by being like, oh, they're like, oh, hey man, I write every day in my notebook. I'm like, okay, cool. You going to send me pictures of your notebook, buddy? You know what I mean? I agree with you that having offline ability is important in having kind of the sense of it, but the tool's already there. It's just like, can this person just do the job? You can tell instantly. It's like-

Adam Singer (00:53:25):


Trung Phan (00:53:25):

If this person has a 100 Substacks and zero subscribers, this motherfucker cares and he's going to get the job done. Because, he's already publishing and nobody reads it.

Adam Singer (00:53:34):

So, in terms, we talked a little bit about how to find talent. Who are some of your favorite people online that if I'm a marketer or advertiser I can follow that are going to break the mold for me creatively, help me think differently, other than the people on your podcast who we all already follow?

Trung Phan (00:53:52):

I got to double down my boy. I'm going to say Jack and I will say this, and I'm going to say this for the reasons that we've talked about and build repetition, if you got the best one, and it's pointy and pointing in the sense of his skillset, and because the thing with Jack is, he literally preaches everything he post is the aesthetic of, so people that don't know Jack Butcher, he does Visualize Value. It's a kind of artistic visual communication education consultancy, the whole nine. And he does, you've probably seen his graphics, they're black background, really simplified white lines, and a lot of people have tried to copy the aesthetic, which is fine. The whole great artist copy, steal thing. But, the thing about Jack is he's so consistent about it, and I've done a podcast with him for two years with our buddy Bilal. He actually really truly believes these things that he puts out. And you see, I don't know if you guys are aware, but he has the top NFT right now in the world and it's doing the-

Chris Gadek (00:54:59):

The checks one?

Trung Phan (00:55:00):

Yeah. And [inaudible 00:55:02] just did a riff on it. It's literally, it's not like, oh, randomly at the bottom of the bear market you have the top NFT project. It's like, the buzz on this thing is insane. And Budweiser drift on it, and they did a whole ad-ca, a mini ad campaign on Twitter around it and it's just the aesthetic that he's been working on for years. This is not overnight. And the reason I go to Jack is his idea is he's internet first. He uses all the tools of the internet. He built his entire brand off Twitter and Instagram, and the repetition and simplifying is what made this, for example, this NFT project take off, it was just an extension of what he already does. He writes too a lot about his approach. So, I'm going to double down on Jack. I know you said don't hit somebody up on your podcast, but I think there's a lot to learn from him.

Adam Singer (00:55:51):

It's fine. I like Jack too.

Chris Gadek (00:55:52):

So which way do you want to Adam? I was thinking we can go, we already covered what we covered the limitations of shipping bangers with generative AI. Obviously you got to add the human component to it, but where it can help, and I think this is going to be a great segue into Bearly, Trung. It's like where it can help is in the sourcing and the research and understanding what a piece of content's about, and we'd love to learn about how Bearly came about. Maybe give us a little scoop on what it is and what you've been building.

Trung Phan (00:56:34):

Sure, I'll do a [inaudible 00:56:35]

Chris Gadek (00:56:35):

I don't know how long you've been building it, but go for it.

Trung Phan (00:56:37):

Quite short, it's about three months. Bearly AI, B-E-A-R-L-Y.AI. That's a pun. It's a really dumb pun, but I'm a dad, so I'm allowed to do it. It's a AI powered research app. It helps you with reading instant summaries on any articles, PDFs, long reads, writing. So, a lot of the tools you probably probably seen with ChatGBT, but I'll tell you the differentiation and why, how we're kind of positioning ourself versus ChatGBT in a second. We also do image generation. I'll tell you the funny thing about image generation is we didn't think it'd be a big thing, but we got asked by so many users for it. It's because, one of the main ones right now is Midjourney. It's a Discord. You have to sign a Discord and go to Discord server. Do you think a 45 or 50 year old is going to sign up to a Discord server? It's never happening.

Chris Gadek (00:57:29):

Or a 35-year-old?

Trung Phan (00:57:30):

Seriously. No, I'm actually serious. It's like, you're right, Chris. It took me, I basically started using Midjourney just to check it out a week ago, and it's been around for months and we were on tech Twitter. I saw it every single day. It just never bothered me. I'm like, I can't deal with another app.

Chris Gadek (00:57:45):

I'm still waiting for a friend to show me how to do it. One of my friends out here in Seattle, she's fantastic at it.

Trung Phan (00:57:51):

This is what I mean. It was crazy. So, we found with, so we built, so our entire insight and the point about Bearly AI was this. So, a lot of people had been like, oh, cool, you just did a UX on top of open AI language models, they called it gooey. You just put a gooey on open AI. That's kind of the diss that people like to say, but that's the entire point. Open AI, even with ChatGBT, they're not a consumer facing company. They're research first. Their entire job is to get to artificial general intelligence. That is a purpose of that organization ChatGBT was a massive consumer success that didn't expect to happen.


The reason they released it was they saw there's a lot of competitors in the space and they're like, look, we need the mind share and it worked out brilliantly. They had a 100 million users in two months. That was the headline. So, the fastest ever a 100 million. But, ChatGBT and everybody here has seen it. Everybody that's listening has seen it is, it's a little bit Excel in the sense of if you have to be good at Chad GBT, can you guys do macros in Excel? I can. I'm not a Power Excel user.

Chris Gadek (00:58:53):

I wasn't always a marketer, but yeah.

Trung Phan (00:58:55):

You know what I mean? It's like to be good at ChatGBT legitimately good and to justify the $20 a month, you got to be that level, people that can really interact with the language model to get, when you're asking it for code ideas or a front end code for HTML, you got to actually have to be good and probe it, right? I'm not that. What I wanted was a tool, and that's another tab. I wanted something that I know what my workflow is. I work in Google Docs, I work in Microsoft Word, I work in Substack email editor. I work in sale through the email editor and my own personal Gmail. That's five places where I've text. I don't want another tab open. I want to use AI whenever I need to use it. So, Bearly AI is just, it's a keyboard shortcut for the app.


It's like you hit command shift P and it just pops up whenever you need it. It's ubiquitous and there just whenever you need it. And that might not be for everyone. Maybe some people like to sit and ChatGBT and master it. Clearly a hundred million people have tried it, right? But we've found that there's been a pretty large ask in use case for what we're providing, which is this keyboard shortcut with access to all these tools, reading, writing, image generation. We also have a Chrome plugin for reading instant summaries and a web dashboard because you got to have it. But, I think when you look at the landscape of these AI tools, the actual language model itself is going to be commoditized. Google's language model is better than open AI is by a lot of accounts. They just haven't released it for regulatory and business reasons.


They're going to have to do it. So, the language model itself, they're all going to converge to approximately the same quality. So, if you think about those language models as effectively the cloud, the whole point is that you want to build better UX and have good distribution on top of it. So, we are competing with distribution in UX, and I know for a fact that there's thousands of people in the world that want to use it the way that I want to use a AI tool like this. And I know that because we have many, many, many users, and as a business, I only need 5,000 paying customers to have a seven figure business. So, that's how I think about it. I'm not trying to build the next Google. There's a very powerful, you know what I mean? It's like there's this tool that's made widely available. I've found a use case for myself, and now my job is to find the 5,000, 10,000, 20,000 people that want to do that exact use case.

Adam Singer (01:01:24):

That's awesome.

Chris Gadek (01:01:25):

I was poking around in there over the weekend, and I love the breadth of use cases primarily. I think there was a fun one on your website that you had a screenshot of, but you have the Chrome plugin and then you go to an Amazon book page and I think it was an Nicholas Nassim collab or Black Swan, and then you just hit the button and then it just spits out the summary, and then he does the takeaways and the counter-arguments, and then it's, the takeaway is like, this guy's an egomaniac and he's tough to digest.

Trung Phan (01:01:59):

Well, the whole point is like, no, Chris, I know exactly what you're talking about and I'll explain our thinking around it, and I think you nailed it, right, is it's just the idea. And that one's probably more playful, but I know if you're a product marketer, this is a very useful tool because what it does is it literally takes the 50 most helpful comments on any Amazon product, and we just take the most common comments, right? Because people do that manually. But, the idea is to, that's really funny that the top comments were like egomaniac.

Chris Gadek (01:02:29):

There's thought provoking ideas in the book, but there's like, well, this guy's a little much, but I just thought that was special because if I knew I that if I read through all those reviews, that would be my takeaway. So, just having it in one click was pretty cool.

Adam Singer (01:02:42):

This isn't related to the product exactly, but I think you talking about how, you know, created this awesome use case for yourself, we only need a business of 5,000 people is kind of the antithesis of the Silicon Valley. We need hundreds of thousands of paying business users, and I think there's a great way of thinking of starting a SaaS business like that. It doesn't have to be for everyone. And maybe the future is people creating these really niche tools where it's super interesting if you're a sub writer or a graphic designer or you're a contractor or something, and it doesn't have to be this big horizontal thing for everyone.

Trung Phan (01:03:18):

Well, it's like you asked me earlier, it's like, what's the point of getting all this attention and I've been approached to advertise X, Y, Z or do A, B, C. And honestly, I mean, have I taken on some ads that looking back maybe I shouldn't have, it's not as crypto scam stuff, don't worry. But, when I say I shouldn't have it's in the sense of I don't actually use that product, is what I mean. So, I show Bearly pretty aggressively, but it's like it's always in the flow. If you read some of the ones, just go to my profile and type in Bearly and search on my name. It's all jokes. It's it we're making fun of how I'll make fun. I'll show a chart of going downwards. I'm like, guys, my first SaaS company is this good? And it's just a downward chart. It's just jokes and it's just like, but it's a way, again, top of funnel trying to get some people into it. Actually, I don't know if I've done that one. I might put someone tomorrow.

Adam Singer (01:04:11):

I think you also are just such a genuine and kind human that along with the jokes you've sharing-

Trung Phan (01:04:20):

I appreciate that, bro.

Adam Singer (01:04:21):

... your newsletter or your product, it's like, how would I not want to check this out, right? It's like I want to support what Trung is doing. It's like a no brainer.

Trung Phan (01:04:28):

Well, I know talk a lot in the DMs about it, but you get a sense of, and I do mean this, what you get online is almost exactly what you get in person. That is who I am. And not to be one of these conies, oh, I'm authentic guys, but just like, I don't know, why would I waste my time? I don't have enough cycles in my head to be another person. I got to deal with my kid. I can't have this other personality because I literally don't have the bandwidth, right? It's like, yeah, I have to be the same person or too chronically difficult to handle all these different things I'm trying to do.


But, man, I think hopefully it comes across. It sounds like at least for Adam, he gets it. Chris may or may not get it. I think it's early, but I think you're getting a sense of it. But, no man, I think that's a good pin on this combo in the sense of I'm enjoying myself internet and if you want to come along for the ride, awesome. If not, I totally get it. I'm not for everyone.

Adam Singer (01:05:23):

Awesome. This was such a great conversation Trung. And you're one of my personal favorite people online. I consider you a friend. I'm excited to-

Trung Phan (01:05:23):

Appreciate you, bro.

Adam Singer (01:05:32):

... have a coffee one day. I know we've been internet friends for probably forever, but it's been so fun to talk. Is there anything else that you want to promote and share to our listeners? I think we've promoted your startup, your podcast. What else do we need to share?

Trung Phan (01:05:56):

Just, my Substack is trungphan.substack. It's called SatPost, S-A-T-P-O-S-T. I should probably change it, but the original reason I made it is because there's a port man too of shit posts on Saturday. So, every Saturday morning people know they get it, but I think I overthought it. That's it. I've done my show bill. I know you guys gave me that [inaudible 01:06:10]. We're like, I came on. So, behind the scenes people, I just rolled into the recording with these guys. I'm like, guys, can I shell today? They're like, you can shell.

Adam Singer (01:06:20):

We're marketers. We appreciate people-

Trung Phan (01:06:22):

You get the show.

Adam Singer (01:06:23):

... that believe in their product and want to share it. Because frankly, especially if you're a voice online. If you were to share something like you mentioned crypto, if you were to, like Logan Paul shared a bullshit NFT, and now the whole internet is attacking him. So, it's like, why would you spend however many years building half million followers being a writer of Bloomberg and oh, I'm going to torch it all for something dumb. That guy, someone needs to advise him how the world actually works because it's stupid, right?

Trung Phan (01:06:50):

Well, Adam, actually, the last thing I will say is this is my closing thought is, and you guys, I know you will appreciate this. You're in the business of it is literally no one else will do it for you. If you're an individual or you're starting a new startup or you're a two person team, literally no one else will shill as hard or should shill as hard as you. And I'll give you the best example. I remember once Upon a time in Hollywood came out Leo, Brad Pitt two of the biggest stars in the world, and I was randomly on YouTube and I was fed like a Malaysian Hollywood channel. Brad Pitt is talking to a Malaysian fifth tier Hollywood channel to show his movie he made with Leonardo DiCaprio and Quentin Tarantino, three of the most famous people in the world, definitely two of the most famous people in the world. And these still have to show Bill. So, I'm like, if these guys have to show, I'm going to be showing nonstop.

Adam Singer (01:07:43):

Wow, that's an awesome story actually. But,

Trung Phan (01:07:46):

You know what I mean. It's like, you've probably seen it James Cameron, oh, for Avatar two, this guy's like a billionaire and he's the most famous director in the world. He's on fifth rate like Hollywood shows, and to show Avatar two.

Adam Singer (01:07:59):

I actually appreciate that they, and also Elon will go on a random punter's YouTube channel to chiller even just talk because he's helping that person get attention, and he doesn't have to do that, and yet he's shilling. But, I actually appreciate that they go on these unknown channels. It's like-

Trung Phan (01:08:17):

You're right. I agree.

Adam Singer (01:08:17):

... you could probably ask them on your podcast, and they might say yes. It's like, shoot your shot, right?

Trung Phan (01:08:23):

A 100%. And the preamble to shooting your shot is just no one else will do it for you. That's it, right?

Adam Singer (01:08:30):

Love it. Chris, do you want to take us home?

Chris Gadek (01:08:32):

Yeah, I think that's a good place to end. But, again, I'd like to conclude episode two of the Madvertising podcast. I'd like to thank our guest, Trung Phan. Give him a follow TrungTPhan. That's T-R-U-N-G-T-P-H-A-N on Twitter. Next week, I think Next week, Adam, we'll be talking brand safety with the co-founder of Check My Ads, Nandini Jammi. And she's building a company that's becoming ad tech industry watchdog. So, stay tuned. It's going to be more exciting stuff. But, if you like what you hear, I've been studying how to become a podcast person.

Trung Phan (01:09:10):

You should tell her to use Bearly AI if she needs a summary tools.

Chris Gadek (01:09:15):

I'll be plugging you from here on out. Don't you worry. But, if you like what you hear Leave us a review on Spotify. Apple, we're coming soon. And then, tell your friends. Thank you all, and-

Adam Singer (01:09:15):


Chris Gadek (01:09:26):

... thanks for listening.

Trung Phan (01:09:27):

Thank you guys.