Unknown Speaker 0:07
Hi, Warren. Hello,
Bret Shuford 0:10
I'm really excited you're here, because you first up are in Texas. So how that to us Texans. But second, like everything you sort of embody is very much in alignment with what I believe and do and work towards it. So I just think it's such a great, you're such a great example of someone who's a business driven entrepreneur, content creator, but also, like, you have a lot of integrity in what you do. So for people who are listening, who don't know who you are, how do you tell people or explain to people what it is that you do? I'd be very curious to hear this. Yeah. So
Warren Carlyle 0:52
I mean, the title has changed a lot. You know, nowadays, community building strategist is typically what I go by. But it's changed a lot. I mean, you know, I've definitely worn a lot of different hats. And, you know, used to be a studio manager for a celebrity fashion photographer, didn't move into, you know, Instagram consulting, and being an Instagram growth strategist. And then realising that a lot of the methodologies that I was creating, we're platform agnostic, meaning they applied on every single platform. And so I developed this methodology called The Seven C's of building a fanatical community. And that kind of took it to where I could just anybody who is building an online platform, I don't work with anybody. I really work with more like impact driven entrepreneurs that have, you know, something really interesting to say they're interested in facilitating like these intellectual conversations online to the masses. I really like working with those, those people now. And so I get an opportunity to do that. And then also, you know, run a nonprofit organisation that inspires wonder of the ocean by teaching the world about octopuses, which is what a lot of people know me for.
Unknown Speaker 2:05
Yes, most people probably know you for running the octo nation, Instagram platform, which has how many followers at this point?
Unknown Speaker 2:14
I think on Instagram, we're up to like, 300,000.
Unknown Speaker 2:18
Incredible. And then you have other platforms that you get? You have a pretty
Unknown Speaker 2:23
so yeah, we have close to 700,000 members across all of our platforms. I mean, we're on Tik Tok, Twitter, Facebook, Facebook groups. So yeah, we're everywhere.
Unknown Speaker 2:34
Where did where along that journey of you moving from fashion studio manager to helping people grow their following? Did you go, huh? octupus.
Unknown Speaker 2:48
Yeah. So when I was seven years old, I took a field trip to an aquarium. And I remember that day, they told us, we're just walking in a single file line, nobody's gonna touch anything. And I was like, I was walking through the line. And I have ADHD. And remember thinking, I can't really see anything. And so I was like, if I dropped to the end of the line, and just drop off, no one's gonna know that I'm like, where the class. And so I just moved to the back of the line. And you know, when you're that age, everybody wants to be as close to the front of the line as possible, for whatever reason, like that was like a stat like being. And I was like, No, I was like, I'm fine with the back of the line. So I went to the back. And then I finally just dropped off. And I remember toward the aquarium by myself, and being in front of the octopus exhibit looking up. And just like that thing is the most alien thing I've ever seen in my life. And I just became obsessed with what is that? And, and I went to the library to look at books, and then none existed. And I was like, wow, it must be really alien, because nobody's ever even written about it. And there weren't any resources. And so, it wasn't until later on, like, you know, fast forward, you know, I'm, you know, working as a studio manager for celebrity fashion photographer, that the book, The Soul of an Octopus came out by Simon Guthrie. And in the first three pages, she talks about how the office is always been misrepresented mischaracterized this, this creature that in Hollywood was portrayed as malicious. You know, Ursula, you know, she is she's not the nicest of she's misunderstood, right. But was always just this creature that was just, you know, misrepresented. And I thought I could, you know, identify a lot with that. And I said, they just don't know the octopus, his story, and it's never been presented in a way that would make anybody remotely interested. You know, and so I started, you know, because in the fashion industry, we worked with influencers. We worked with celebrities, and we paired them with clothing, and, you know, the brand would tell their story through clothes and stuff like that. I said, you know, what if I took the octopus and I essentially rebranded it, and I started storytelling, and I started connecting it with people who I admired And we're making a difference. And so I essentially took that same model, and I applied it to something that I was, was always obsessed with, which was the octopus. Because I felt like there needs to be, you know, more emphasis on this creature because I think it's amazing. And so I started playing around with it, I started writing about it, I started reintroducing the animal as a superhero of the sea, that depending on where it lived in the ocean, because octopuses live in every single ocean, they live along every coastline. And depending on where they live, they have a unique adaptive trait that allows them to be masters of their environment. And so I use that as the symbol of, you know, resiliency of, you know, you can be the master of your environment. You know, if you're a kid, you're growing up in a really strange place, like figure out how to adapt in that environment and get through it and become resilient. And so it started blowing up, I started getting featured by Ellen DeGeneres, people like Joe Rogan, started sharing my posts. You know, celebrities started following us. And but it was all very strategic. I started collaborating with underwater photographers building campaigns out, and then realised a lot of my friends were like, how are you doing this? You know, is it just because the octopus is a great niche? I'm like, no. It's because like, I know how to build campaigns, I know how to strategically collaborate with people that cater to my audience. I know how to, I'm just marrying my passion with marketing. And so I started working with some of my friends and helping them with Instagram. That's how Instagram kind of take off, where I started building out campaigns for them, they started going viral, and they're like, You should do this. And I was like, Okay, well, how much? How much would you pay for this? And they're like, Well, you built my whole entire brand. So I started working with, you know, my now husband, Roberto, and him really explaining value in money. And you know, what other people were charging. And I started, you know, essentially launched my career as a consultant and started doing that full time.
Unknown Speaker 7:01
In what ways are you are in your life? Have you been resilient, like an octopus?
Unknown Speaker 7:08
Um, I mean, my house I grew up, like I said, seven brothers and sisters. My mom, you know, did the best that she could with all of us. She was divorced and with with three other guys. At the same time. You know, we went through this, this, like growing up where it was just kind of like chaotic, and we really didn't know, you know, where was next, my mom got into an accident, she became a prescription drug addict. So there was a lot of me, instead of focusing on my life, and how sad it was that I'm in this circumstance, or whatever, I used it. As a way to become a high performer. I was first chair in band, I was editor of the yearbook, I was in JHS. And I just kind of removed myself from the situation and became the best that I could be in that environment. And so yeah, so I would say that just you know, kind of using that, because like I can kind of create whatever world I want to create really helped me out.
Unknown Speaker 8:15
No, it is fascinating, right? I think that so many of us, especially creatives, and I think even people part of the LGBTQ community like us, I think we've all learned how to adapt to our environments, you know, and I think it's, I think it's necessary. Yeah.
Unknown Speaker 8:32
And I would say to that, growing up, I mean, I didn't come out until after I graduated high school. And I remember having this fear that, you know, because a lot of times people ask, like, why, why were you such a former? And honestly, there was this underlying feeling that I had, where, you know, if, if, for whatever reason, my mom, you know, I wasn't okay with it, or my parents weren't okay with or the world was okay with it. I could be like, Well, look, I am I'm such high performing and all these all these things. I'm a good person, like, Yes, I have this, this thing about me, but look at all these other things. So it was kind of like I was kind of overcompensating with being a high performer because I was like, at least, you know, they could see that I'm, I'm a worthy person based on all these things. Because during the time, I guess I was growing up. I mean, I mean, it was just, it wasn't being gay wasn't really looked at like it was now. It was like, it wasn't cool.
Unknown Speaker 9:31
I know. I remember. Yeah.
Unknown Speaker 9:34
And so it was something it was a point of like, wow, like you. There was a lot of feelings around it. And I remember my oldest brother. I mean, he was very much like being gay was like the worst thing that you could be. I mean, he would be named calls all the time. And, you know, I was kind of effeminate when I was growing up, and I just remember him saying, like, you're going to like, he would call me gay ever since I was like five years old, but It really put me into a position was like, I don't even know what that is right? And so but he was kind of redefining you know what that meant, and it was the last thing that you ever wanted to be. And I remember growing up thinking, like, wow, like, at some point in time, I'm gonna have to confront the fact that he was right. What can I do? You know, is there something I can do? Yeah, sure. I'll make straight A's Sure. I'll be, you know, NJHS. So I was kind of resilient to that thinking like, Okay, well, you know, I don't know. So I don't know if anybody else can relate to that. But that was totally me growing up.
Unknown Speaker 10:31
No, I think I think we can I mean, I was the same way. Right? I have three brothers and and it was very, very much had to be busy, and be really good at something because of this thing that I was trying to hide the whole time. And and, and I think that for many people who are listening who are part of any marginalised community or, you know, can probably relate to understanding like, you know, that the reason why I even started this podcast, right is visibility is like our visibility. diminishes that, that need to overcompensate for what people around us see as not acceptable. And so I think just even us speaking to that is really helping somebody today. Thank you. Okay, so what is your sort of hope and your and your passion? You know, as you've as you're saying, like, you're you're really trying to create more of a storyline around this underrepresented undersea creature? But what do you what are you hoping to continue to to grow? Or do with that brand for yourself as as you support other people in their journey as well?
Unknown Speaker 11:49
Yeah, I think AutoNation is really a model for that, you know, many people can replicate from the standpoint of, like, we're a very, like, educational based community. I mean, you see our captions on Instagram, they're to the max, they're the longest captions you've ever seen. And they're written in such a way that, you know, when I was thinking about the content, and I was thinking about education, I thought about, you know, what, you know, if two friends met at a coffee shop, or something along those lines, and they saw a post on automation, how could I empower that person to really be like, You know what, this is worth a conversation with my friend today, you know, and I feel empowered by what I learned to have a conversation about it like automation empowered me to be like, Hey, did you know that an octopus has a tongue like a cat? Like, I just learned that today? I don't know why I feel like like sharing it with you. But like, you really have to look at this account, like octopuses are, like really cool. Like, I want to think about how do you empower someone to facilitate these conversations around something that they think is wondrous or miraculous? And I feel like, you know, oftentimes people with their content, it can be very ego driven, where it's like, what do I feel inspired to say today? And I kind of take it a step further, where I'm just like, what conversations can I facilitate between other people about something that is meaningful for them? Or how can I create like, with our merch and things like that, you know, how can I create a conversation where somebody walks up and be like, where did you get that shirt? I really like it, and then have a conversation around? Well, I got from AutoNation. It's the largest octopus fan club and being like, I love octopus, too. So I really think about the conversations that could potentially happen as a result of our brand and how we're facilitating that. And I really do that with everybody that I work with is thinking outside of you, you know, what is the impact that you really want to make? And how can we facilitate those interactions. It's just, I guess, a next level of thinking through education. And I feel like that's where we're at right now. I feel like people are really desperate to be educated and for information. And so you can become now that, you know, everybody has their own kind of like attention graph out there in the world, you can become that point of information, even if, like me, I don't have a degree in marine biology or science whatsoever. And yet, I'm facilitating conversations that no one has ever been able to figure out how to facilitate in a way that's like really approachable and accessible. So a lot of times people with imposter syndrome, they'll like immediately count themselves out and be like, I don't have experience in that. It's like, you don't necessarily need experience, but you have to be passionate about the thing, enough to curate those conversations and really get down to the bottom of something. So say
Unknown Speaker 14:21
that again, say that again. I think people need to hear that. So people with imposter, a lot of times people with imposter syndrome. There's different types of imposter syndrome. But you're saying that those if your imposter syndrome shows up as I need to be an expert in that field, I can't make content even though I'm passionate about it. Say that?
Unknown Speaker 14:44
Yeah, it's not necessarily about you at all. It's about you being passionate about that area or that industry, and being like, Okay, what conversations can I facilitate in this space amongst people? And that's what I really did without donation is like, yeah, we have a team of I
Unknown Speaker 15:00
love that. I love that. To me, everything you're saying just just just to comment on this is like, it's about connection. And I think that that's what people miss out so much in social media, because they're so busy being promoted to that they think some they think that content is about promotion. And everything you're saying is really about connection. I just, I just love that.
Unknown Speaker 15:24
Yeah, it's every single time I think about and this is just from my background in the fashion industry, you have to think about, you know, when brands, they essentially have, I mean, all these brands are selling cloth, right, and they're selling different forms of cloth, some looks one way or another, it looks another way, a brand's job is to essentially breathe life into this, this fabric or whatever, and create a lifestyle with it, create a feeling create, you know, and so I think anybody can do that with whatever you're interested in. You can breathe life into it, it's just thinking about from a campaign standpoint, you know, how are you going to achieve, you know, what you want to set out to achieve. And so, like with me, with automation, our mission is to inspire wonder of the ocean by educating the world about octopuses. And we can do that a lot of really cool ways. So like one of our campaigns was interview with an octopus, where we would, I would go to aquariums all over the world. And I would go on Facebook Live, and I would introduce people to the octopus in a way that they probably never seen it before, you know, interacting with a person live on camera, and realising that they're not a malicious creature, they're actually pretty affectionate. They're like squishy puppy dogs, and, you know, giving them an opportunity to ask their questions and to, to really have fun with the Aquarius and meet them in a way that they've never met before. So a lot of people can't afford to go to the aquarium or in landlocked cities. And so this was an opportunity to be like, wow, you know, to teach somebody who's in a landlocked, you know, state, about how wonderful the ocean is, and how, you know, miraculous this creature is and how, you know, that they, you know, don't have a blind spot, they can see 360 degrees around their bodies, and, you know, just trying to think of really creative ways in which to be that spark, where people can be like, oh, like, I didn't really realise why I should care about the ocean. You know, before because nothing was really presented to me in a way that was compelling. But oxygenation. Wow, this is a really great gateway into something that I'm, I start, I want to start studying. And so when people will see off donation as Oh, well, he's an octopus fan club. That's so weird. That's such a niche. I'm like, you can apply what I'm doing to what you're doing my passion for what I'm doing into building a campaign that really gets people talking about what you're doing. And so I really try to incorporate that with when I'm teaching or giving a presentation. It's just like, figure out what is that one thing that you can't stop talking about? We can you can build an attention graph or a career around a community around it, and really go to town.
Unknown Speaker 17:50
Yeah, so what do you think is the biggest obstacle for people when it comes to really clarifying that that part of like building a building a platform of of being visible?
Unknown Speaker 18:04
Hmm, that's a really good question. I mean, the way I kind of dealt with it the beginning, because as far as being visible, was concerned, is hiding behind oxygenation. And really, yeah, and really being like, Okay, well, I don't necessarily want to be seen, but I can really promote, you know, this animal and get behind it. It wasn't until later that I started warming up and being comfortable with, you know, being face face to camera and talking about, you know, how I was doing these things, just because I thought, you know, the whole imposter syndrome, like, okay, yes, like, I did all these really cool things. But at the end of the day, like, I came from this house of, you know, my past and blah, blah, blah, I'm like, nobody really cares about that. So, um, so my advice really would be, you know, start out facilitating conversations with other people, it doesn't always have to be, you know, all about you. It can be who you choose to bring to the world, you know, and what conversations you choose to have. You know, Oprah is a really great example of that, as far as, you know, having people on her show and bringing what Oprah was really good at was universalizing people's messages to a broader audience. So she was really great at bringing on guests that you know, had written books, or that were just, you know, celebrities. And she would essentially take what they said and be like, okay, so what you're saying is this, and she would turn it into this universal knowledge that we all were just like, wow, that's really good. You're really smart, you know. And she just had this, this gift of doing that. And so we attribute a lot of our wisdom to Oprah, when in fact, it was really a conversation between two people and so, like, if you're that sort of person that like is just, you know, brave enough to facilitate conversations in a given arena. Sometimes that's enough. You know, if you want more than that, and you're not doing it, that's when I would probably be like, Okay, well, maybe it's therapy, you know, you know, Honestly, like therapy, for me has been huge, and just a lot of support. Like, you know, I hired an executive leadership coach for the past two years, to help me delegate things because I wanted so badly to control everything around me. And every single thing that was going on, and all the wording and whatever, that it was, like, stunting the growth of my organisation. And so I was like, I really want to get out of my own way. And I don't know how. So what's the answer here? It's like, obviously, it lies outside of me. Do I want help in this arena? Yes. Okay, I'm gonna seek help. And then going through that process of like, what is it? Why don't Why do I like, Why do I not want to let go so bad, you know, and really getting to the root of that, and just being like, oh, it's because you're a middle child, you know, oh, it's because, you know, just all these different things that come up, that you're not aware of. But I, my mom would always say it's Don't Don't be focus group of one meaning, you know, if you've already counted yourself out, and you've never had a conversation with any anybody about something, then that's called focus group of one where it's been like, you've only consulted yourself, and you've already counted yourself out, you truly want to do something, then start opening up the conversation to, hey, I really want to be better, or I really want to grow this. So this is my vision, I can't get there and start looking for help in that arena. You know, so yeah,
Unknown Speaker 21:19
I love that focus group of one. So it's, I mean, I think so many people do that, too. Or, you know, the thing I talk about a lot is the comparison game that people play, just because we're consuming so much content these days, you know, as, as an entrepreneur, as an LGBTQ entrepreneur, I've noticed, there isn't a huge amount of openly gay CEOs, you know, leadership, content creators are people who are even you, you don't really see that in that space. And I think that I do think it's changing and evolving. But why do you think that is? Like, if you had an opinion, or why, what do you think it is that's keeping our world or our community or even the CEO, the entrepreneur community of really embracing leadership in that in within a community like that?
Unknown Speaker 22:13
Yeah. I mean, there's, there's a lot of different reasons why, I think, I mean, I can only speak from really like, my personal, like, personal standpoint, from when it comes to, I always say, or the excuse that I gave myself when I was growing up. And when I would see other people who were who are, like, out and proud and doing all this was just like, it wasn't like, the main thing that represented me. I felt like, you know, I don't want this to be like the part of me that everyone's just like, now looking back, I'm just like, okay, was that was that I just saying that to protect, you know, some part of me to not be fully you know, who I was, probably, I mean, there's probably still some trauma there. It could be just a lack of platforms that are brave enough to have this conversation. So unless you are building a platform that is allowing people to come on and tell their stories, you know, so I think as people start creating the market in certain things, like with automation, you know, me creating the market for, you know, octopus curriculum for octopus books for octopus, when I first started off donation, they kept saying, the market is too small to write a book about octopus, we're not interested in that. And now there's a lot of books that are going to publication for octopus, you see, so I think it's very much like that until, you know, somebody is brave enough to prove a market in a given arena, then we just don't see it. Yeah. And so I think that that's a, that could be a huge reason why it's just like, okay, where it where previously has this been celebrated on and, you know, and just looking kind of, like, it's at, where's the attention graph of that now? You know, so yeah, so it's kind of like,
Unknown Speaker 23:56
I also think, you know, we're just kind of balling here a conversation, but I asked, but something I've observed at least is I think that you're limited globally when it comes to being an openly LGBT business because like I very recently i think i i went on like Upwork or something and needed somebody to do some sort of graphic design. I can't remember what it was I just was like hiring some I was like, pitching something to somebody to have them help me with my website or, or something and I didn't even look at where they were located but they were located in like India, or Syria or some some foreign country and they literally wrote me back and said, I can't help you with this because for probably husbands for me and my husband's Oh, as far as scratch Squarespace website. They said I can't help you because this is against my religion. Hmm. Right. Like, but this is business. I'm paying you honey like and they're like, they're like Sorry, right? Yeah. So like, and I look at some of these words. leaders who who are these sort of like, you know, Tony Robbins, or like these big, huge motivational business leaders? And and I've always been like, I don't I mean, they're great. They're teaching great stuff. But I'm not them like I'm not, I can't see myself in them.
Unknown Speaker 25:19
Yeah. And that's what we're always looking at. And that's, that's why it's really important that people who are listening who are just like, you know, why me or like, what, what about my story and they're like, constantly be a focus group on cancelling yourself out even before giving yourself the opportunity to create something. It's like people are desperate to hear your voice are desperate for you to be visible. So they can be like, Oh, I finally see my place I finally see that I can create or this is possible for me. And you know, I totally agree with Tony Robbins, and just everybody you're like, okay, but do you understand? You know, what it's like to XYZ? Yeah, you know, and we're looking for our specific place. And that we see that a lot in like communities, like I work with somebody who runs migraine nation, which is like the community for women who suffer chronic debilitating migraine. Mm hmm. And they have a completely different worldview. Because unfortunately, like, their date just doesn't go by like yours. My day goes, they are completely debilitated by chronic migraine. And so when they're looking for thought leaders or looking for people, they're like, Yeah, but do you currently understand that I'm only I'm only productive for maybe an hour out of the day, or like two hours before I completely crash. So yeah, people are looking for the other other people that are out there in the market that are representative of them. So we need more, you know, people that are creating the platforms to facilitate conversations around different things, even if it's a lot of the same. Even if it's, you know, teaching social media, you know, there's a lot of different niches within social media, I always tell people, you know, go look at Facebook's or meta now. But if you look at metas Facebook page, and you look at the groups that they feature, they're all very niche, like, I love hot sauce, or like, all these different niche groups that have tonnes of different followers because of whatever, you know, you can create your own community around
Unknown Speaker 27:13
that. I love that. Okay, so where do you see your oxygenation going? Or where do you hope it'll go?
Unknown Speaker 27:21
I see. oxygenation, I see the octopus being used as an animal. Because it's, you know, octopus has been on this planet for longer than dinosaurs, and they're still alive, and they're still thriving. I see. I see them being used in a lot of different ways. Symbolically, they're just a creature that represents so much from you know, regenerative qualities, because they can grow, you know, their arms completely back from their outer nerve bundles, to the suckers completely 100% brand new to, you know, being a really cool entry point, almost like, you know, Pokemon gotta catch them all. Like, kids, I feel like when they're younger, like figuring out how to gamify and get them interested at a very young age, about the ocean through something that is actually compelling, not through something that a teacher is just like, you should care just because it's important. It's like, unfortunately, it's aren't wired that way. And so I'm essentially creating what I wished would exist when I was seven, and I was kind of battling between why I should care about the ocean. And unfortunately, I won't say the education system failed me. I was just really apathetic about the ocean, all through middle school all through high school, very nihilistic and the way that I thought, and it wasn't only until I started, you know, championing the octopus, and really getting down into how incredible this creature was, and how worthy it was of people really understanding how incredible the world is in the ocean is through things that are in existence and happen in existence prior to even us that I thought, this is a really compelling idea in conversation. So as far as where I see it going is just not that octopuses are going to save the world. But it's just like, they're, they're going to be a really interesting animal, because they previously weren't. And I think that I had a conversation, someone earlier this morning, who I mentioned, a lot of times people want to have a conversation about sustainability or not using straws, or they show massive amounts of pollution, or they show the mistreatment of animals in the wild. And that to somebody who doesn't have an appreciation for the ocean right now just is just like, wow, like we've really screwed up. There's no going back from here, I don't see any end in sight. Whereas if like they're first deeply anchored by something that that impresses them, like the octopus or they sort of get involved with at an earlier age, and they're like, No, we should fight for the ocean because actually, I know so much about this creature. And, you know, this is their home too. I feel like it just changes the conversation. Anger isn't a sustainable emotion or feeling. And I feel like there's a lot of companies that are trying to reverse engineer people's giving a shitness about the ocean. And I feel like you're getting to a point where you sound too Evangelical, you sound like you're trying to evangelise people into caring. And that's never gonna work. So first, you have to start from this place of like, okay, what is palatable? And what is going, what are they going to truly walk away with and understand and figure out how to incentivize them and get them interested? Yeah, so I mean, I feel like, I'm still kind of working on it. I've been doing this, you know, since 2015, founded the nonprofit in 2018. So there's a lot of different collaborative efforts that I want to want to talk to like neuro psychologist and biologist and really figure out, you know, am I going down the right path? But I think we're at a really good start. Right now, do you?
Transcribed by https://otter.ai