Reflections on 1 Year at The House, and on Friendship

"How would your friends describe you?" is a question that came up almost every day in interviews, college classes, and icebreakers. I hope my friends would use the stereotypical terms when trying to describe me..."hardworking," "smart," and "dedicated," to name a few.

At Bryant University, my brand was "entrepreneurship." I lived, breathed, and talked (too loudly) about that shit. I liked the sound of being my own boss, being a business owner, and making money. I mean, what college business student wouldn't? It's virtually unlimited freedom, and it's a sexy thing to say "I work for myself."


But, let's not kid ourselves - I had no idea how I was going to accomplish that goal, no business plan, and no partner. So off I went into corporate America; you'll get no argument from me that it was a wise decision to help pay the bills, to build a brand, and develop some industry expertise. I like my job - sure, it's not the dream, but it helps to keep busy and set yourself up for long term success, I suppose.


COVID-19 forced Will and I to rethink what we wanted out of our lives. It was a bad time in the world - Will had just lost his job after his company had to lay off 80% of its employees, both of our mental healths were taking a toll, and we we basically had to move in with our parents for a few months until we got back on our feet. We went from hosting the pregames on Friday night to hosting virtual poker nights; from hopping in the Uber to downtown Providence to hopping on our mics to play Warzone; from the daily gym routine to maybe getting outside once a day, if we were lucky.


I came home from work one day, and was totally dejected after feeling that I was getting the run-around from my managers & co-workers.


You could argue the rest was history - and that "brand" came to life.


The "next good job," in a way, came right after.


Podcasting was something Will and I both knew we wanted to do. The brainstorming began - what were we both good at? For starters, craft beer was a passion before we were even 21 (sorry, Mom), we both dabbled around in the stock market, and we were self-proclaimed sports experts. Henceforth, "Beers, Business, and Balls" was born.


365 days later, we've grown steadily. We're not Joe Rogan status, nor will we probably ever get there. But we've developed a steady following, put a blog together, have 15+ awesome writers curating and developing their own content, and, of course, drank a lot of beer. We've met some cool people along the way - some in person, some over Zoom. We've learned what works & what doesn't, and it evolves every day.


I could sit here and write a novel about what House Enterprise means to me, but let's just call this "Reflections" and see what happens.


Creating something is awesome, but hard. Creating "something from nothing" is the ultimate flex - read Zero to One by Peter Thiel and tell me you don't agree. The part that they don't tell you is that it's incredibly difficult. We started this journey awkwardly staring at each other to talk on a Zoom call - wondering who was going to say what, and when, and how we were going to tell our listeners. We played around with different formats, had some episodes that were too long & too short, and realized we'd probably get sued by Bitmoji if we kept our original logo. We're still trying to figure out how to boost listenership (ideas welcome) and make money. We know our strengths, and more importantly, we know our weaknesses - now we just need to execute ways to combat them. We're adding some new podcasts to our brand shortly (did I spill?) - no doubt, it's great for us, but it presents its own set of growing pains.


The bottom line? This is hard. But what's the fun if it's easy?


We've committed to learning more about what we don't know. It means getting in front of other networks of podcasts, collaborating with other brands more, and finding our new listener acquisition pipelines. It's hard - harder than most people's careers, to be honest (@ me if you disagree, I'll fight you to the death) - but we know it's worth it.


A great partner is everything. Thomas Watson from IBM, in my opinion, nails what friendship should be. "Don’t make friends who are comfortable to be with. Make friends who will force you to lever yourself up.” It doesn't take a man as smart as Watson to realize that Will is someone I consider my best friend. Sure, living together helps, but it runs deeper. We've always had similar interests, got along with the same people, and done the same things. The mantra of "don't start a business with your best friend" has some merit, but this journey has taught me that can be total BS, too. Will pushes me & challenges to do more. He's realistic with our goals, keeps us grounded, and has strengths in steering us in the right direction. And of course, Will listens to my ramblings about work, life, and sports. For the serious stuff, he'll be an ear and a voice of reason. For all the flaming-hot sports takes, he'll feed into them...as he should. I learn from Will every day; I'd be fortunate if someone even felt half that way about me.


(Wipe the tears off your face, partner.)

Maybe the novel will come someday...or maybe there will be a biographer hired to write it about us. But one thing's for sure; we've got more coming.


Thank you to everyone who engages with our content. You are the reason why we do what we do.


Onward.


~JZ~

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