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Episode 31: What the Truck?! Rewiring for Success with Timothy Dooner

Brent – 00:00:01:

Welcome to Freight Nation: A Trucking Podcast where we explore the fascinating world of trucking and freight management. We dive deep into the freight industry and uncover why the trucking industry is more crucial to our country now than ever before. Stay tuned to uncover the driving forces behind successful trucking businesses and hear from the hardworking truckers and leaders who keep the world moving. Let’s hit the road. All right. How’s it going, Freight Nation? Welcome to another great episode of Freight Nation, a podcast by truckstop.com or truckstop, whichever way you want to refer to it. So really appreciate you joining us today, whether you’re watching or whether you’re listening. Appreciate you being out on the highways and delivering freight or moving freight and making our country continue to move forward. Man, I tell you what, I know I say this a lot about how excited I am, mostly just because I really enjoy the conversation about what stories are the stories that you want to hear inside of freight transportation about success that people have made. And so you can listen to them or watch them and listen to them and glean something from it and move your career forward. That’s really what Freight Nation is about. It’s about the really cool stories, because it’s a giant trillion dollar industry where if you just apply yourself, man, you can create success for yourself. And the guy that I get to have on today is somebody that you think I have a lot of energy, not even close to what this guy has. I tell you what, joining us today on Freight Nation is the one, the only, the man on what the truck, Timothy Dooner. Tim, thank you so much for being on Freight Nation today.

Timothy – 00:01:32:

You look even better virtually than you do in person, I got to say.

Brent – 00:01:36:

Well, I do my best. I try my best. I just try to keep up with you, man. I don’t have quite the beard you do, but no, just thanks for being on. I thank you for the inspiration that you’ve brought to this industry and the platform that you work. I work on the FreightWaves platform, but you brought your own sense of purpose and sense of design and sense of creativity. This is not just a guy who’s a personality on a program that somebody hired to have a personality. This is a guy who’s redefined a platform, redefined what does it mean to report on freight, who has a creative mind, who has had all this that he created himself, that this was his idea. This wasn’t just somebody that got hired to come in and do something. He actually created this genre of really true freight, transportation, freight podcasting. And what goes on with that? So, Dooner, I appreciate, you know, one of the things that I got to see this for you, Freight Nation, you haven’t seen him live anywhere. I know you think you see him live on FreightWaves every day, and that’s kind of live. And certainly he is himself. He is an original character at Original Cat. But to see him live and in person, I’ve seen him on stage, and it’s a unique thing. And what you see on FreightWaves, is the same thing you see live, which is he’s just transparent. He’s real. And one of the great things about it is I love for people to attempt to tell their story on, first off, how’d you get into freight? And so we’ll talk about that. Then I want to tell the Freight Nation watchers and listeners a little bit. I want you to tell them a little bit. How’d you get the idea for what the truck, because that’s a really, really cool story. And then we’ll talk about what drives it, what drives you in that, and what really caused that. What caused you to kind of divorce yourself from one part of the market and go at another part of the market? Because I know you took some big risks and made some big bets on that there. And then we’ll talk about what’s next. So, Freight Nation, get ready. This is going to be a great one. So, Tim, as you were like starting your career in the freight industry, you had a very, what would some call a unique start. So, talk a little bit about that and let us have it.

Timothy – 00:03:23:

Initially, when I first started on the operations side, like a lot of people in this business, I didn’t know anything about freight. The most I knew was like, my dad worked in marine cargo insurance for a company called Roanoke, and I didn’t want to do what he did. I wanted to be a rock star. I went to California. I know. I went to California. I was like, I got to get out to Hollywood and check it out. And so I went out there and I went to college out there. Actually, I went to a school in Vermont. It was too small. It was like 150 people at Bennington. It was too much. I was already pissed off at all of them within a year. So I had to move. So I went to CalArts and I was in the music industry and like Napster and all that stuff came out. So that was drying up. And I decided to move back to Boston. A friend of mine who I’d gotten high school with had a room open up for 400 bucks. And, uh. Figured I could swing it. But after a few months, I wasn’t able to find a job. I thought I might be able to with Harmonix, which is a company who made Rock Band, which was really popular. This was circa 2005. It was extremely popular back then. They didn’t hire me in Cambridge. I thought with my music license experiments, they might. But your loss, Harmonix. While the truck’s still going. Who plays Rock Band anymore, Harmonix?

Brent – 00:04:24:

Nobody.

Timothy – 00:04:24:

Who plays Rock Band? Nobody plays Rock Band.

Brent – 00:04:27:

They miss what they could be today if they just would have saw the opportunity.

Timothy – 00:04:31:

Well, you know, so I went to FedEx Trade Networks and like had no idea. And it was like, I’m in Boston. It’s a $30,000 a year job. It’s just entry. I got to restart my whole career. My overhead was low. I didn’the T have a car. I was able to take the the T. So it was fine. And it was so freight. Like FedEx had just landed a massive Reebok account. So what do they do? They go and hire like three bums who don’the T know what they’re doing off the street and put us in charge of it. It was just great childlike fire. Like I got to learn air freight and ocean freight and how to rate invoices and really how like the global side of freight works. And I did not realize how important that would be until a little later in my career. But it really gave me a whole picture. So to me, like for a while, that was freight. I got into duty drawback, did compliance. I finished at FedEx, their headquarter in Memphis. I was in Boston. I didn’t really want to go to Memphis. I got to a senior drawback position and was like, it still wasn’t that much money. I lived in Boston, so I had to get a new job. So I went, I worked for a shipper and did a CT pat revalidation so I could kind of learn warehouse and how that interfaces. Did some air imports for fish. And then eventually I jumped to the sales side and I did cross border and global on sales and this company called Ocean Air. And it didn’t really work out. I wasn’t a good freight salesperson. I didn’t really know what to do.

Brent – 00:05:40:

Oh, you’re not a great freight salesperson. You’re just such a great communicator. Because I’m

Timothy – 00:05:44:

talking about stuff I know. Like I know like exactly what I’m saying. Like what I found initially is I would get too analytical. Like I knew the operations side and I’d be like, you know, you’re talking to the shipper and I’d be like, okay, well, you know, have you tried doing this? And what are your Incoterms terms? And like you’re talking to someone who doesn’t even know what Incoterms terms are. And they probably got annoyed with me. And would tell me to leave. But that created an eventual opportunity for me by being in a bad, kind of a bad situation. My three years in sales were not fun. It was two jobs, it was three years. And the last one I got fired from when my wife was eight months pregnant.

Brent – 00:06:12:

Yeah, hey, before you jump into that, you had a special guest right there in your lap there for a few seconds. I want to make sure the pregnant can walk and understand who that important person is.

Timothy – 00:06:21:

No, this is Randy Savage. He’s a little over, what are you, how old are you now? You’re going to turn two. You’re turning two in just about a month. He’s great. We got him over on Signal Mountain over here. My wife was away on a trip with the kids and we have a 13-year-old lap and she was 11 at the time. And she was starting to look kind of like old there. And I was like, I’m going to miss having it. I got to get another, like, I just got in my head, I need a puppy. And I’m very impulsive. And when I do, it’s very hard to stop me when I get that in my head. So I Googled like black lab puppies in the area and all of a sudden I saw there were some up on the mountain. So I went to go visit them while the wife was away and he walked up and he was so cute. I kind of just had to get him and explain it later. And now he’s here.

Brent – 00:07:02:

So Freight Nation, for those of you that don’t know who Randy Savage is, that’s Randy the Macho Man Savage who talks like, brother. He’s the one that really gave the wrestler speech. He’s the one that came up. You also probably saw him on the Slim Jim commercials. All right, so keep going, baby. So keep going. So you were in Boston. You really didn’t like where you were. Your wife was eight months pregnant.

Timothy – 00:07:26:

We had a kid two years earlier, so I’m on my second kid. And I remember when they fired me, and this will kind of get into the story that led me to where I am now. When they fired me, I remembered getting in my car and being so happy it was a live check because I could go and stop and get a bottle of Tito’s and I was going to get a hammer. But then the next day I got another handle of Tito’s and then like a week is going on and it’s like, what am I doing? And I got so drunk, I finally told on myself. And this goes back a long time. From 15 to 16, I drank a lot. And one time I passed out on the train tracks at a friend’s house and I ended up at a doctor. And then I didn’t drink at all. I went like cold turkey until I got to college. And at college, at a party one time, girl was like, you want some wine? And I’m like, all right. And then that for years afterwards led to basically lifelong alcoholism. I went to rehab once in 2009. I only went for 90 days because I didn’t admit that I was an alcoholic. All I wanted to do was see if I could go to 90 days. If I go to 90 days, I’m not an alcoholic. So what did I do? Then I eventually just got back to binge drinking and this is what was happening with like the kid here. And it’s like, I’m insanely unhappy, incredibly depressed. Every negative thing is going through my mind. I have no idea what to do with my life. And the only sort of saving grace was like, I had a little bit of health insurance left. They didn’t make me go to COBRA to the end of the month because they knew that my wife was pregnant. And they’re like, you know what? We’re gonna extend your health insurance to the end of the month. And I’m like, so I knew I kind of had that in my back pocket and my buddy, I’m not gonna name his name, but my old manager all the way back when I worked in the record label days, he came public about being an alcoholic. And it didn’t do anything at the time for me, it was just like, I just knew that. And it was like, okay, cool. I was still on my run. I was still raging. You know, I may have even called him like a P word or something. No, I didn’t. But you know, you’re like, ah, you know, he tapped out. I’m strong. You make every excuse you can. And this is like for over a year, I hadn’t really been getting drunk anymore. It was more like maintaining. And it was like, I had a remote sales position and the sales weren’t going good. And then you start waking up with the hangover and pouring the vodka in the coffee. And then like, it just becomes like a whole thing. And I was, I was such a mess that I told him, I said like, oh my friend Brian, I said, hey Bren, you know how you shared your story all those years ago with me? Like, are you still doing it? Cause I need a lot of help. Like I need to go seek help. He’s like, Dooner, the first thing you need to do tomorrow is find a rehab in your area and check yourself into it. And we had a great conversation. So then I sent an email to my wife. It was like 3.30 in the morning. Sent an email to my wife, my dad, my mom. And I was just like, hey, I know it’s 3.30 in the morning. I just had a great conversation with my former boss. I know I have to deal with my alcoholism. And if I don’t say take me to rehab tomorrow, you have to take me to rehab tomorrow. Like intervene, take me. I need to go. So it was great. The next morning, we actually didn’t end up going till the next day. I’d been up drinking. I was super hungover. So I was in bed most of the next day and we had to find a rehab anyway. But we found a great one. It was the one from, I don’t know if you’ve ever read the book or seen the movie Girl, Interrupted, but it’s this hospital called McLean in Boston. It’s old, creepy, sort of New England style, like mansion, asylum slash rehab. But I mean, I say asylum, it’s more of a joke on myself. Nobody in there. Like it was a, it was a dual diagnosis facility, which was perfect for me because I had to deal with both depression and alcoholism and that’s what they specialize in. And that’s what I did. I was in there for six days. And while I was in rehab, you know, you talk to your counselor and everything and they’re like, and I’m like, you’re like, I got fired from this job too. And they’re like, well, what are you going to do next? I was like, well, when I was with this other company, I had this idea that I wanted to start a podcast because I wasn’t having the easiest time getting the sales calls. And I’m like, maybe if I could use a podcast as sort of a Trojan horse and I could interview some of the leaders around here, that would be easier than saying like, hey, can I come in to sell you some freight? I can actually get to know them. And from those relationships, we talk about all the time, but they said, no, they’re like, nobody listens to freight podcasts. They all sound terrible. We tried one that didn’t listen. And I was like, I listened to the one we tried and the quality was a bit like, that doesn’t mean it has to be that way. That’s just, you recorded it that way. But it’s true. I mean, at the time, this was late 2016. I go into rehab. I come out, the doctor, the guy was like, start the podcast. I called my friend Ryan up and I was like, remember that podcast? You want to try co-hosting the show with me. I think I’m going to get the shipping pod off the ground. And that’s what I did. And then so like every week, I didn’t know it would become like a career in podcasting or redefine freight podcasting. I listened to podcasts like Bill Simmons and Joe Rogan and Adam Carolla. So I was like, I want to make a freight show that actually sounds like a podcast, not a webinar, because every single podcast that existed at the time sounded like a webinar with like stripped audio is clearly spawn con. So our initial concept, Ryan and I, I was like, what if like, you know, all the funny, hilarious conversations we have before everyone goes up on stage, at the conference, let’s have that in the hallway. Like that’s the show. So that’s initially what I started. Like I always knew it had to be conversational. I always knew, how to be more than just like corporate pap. And that was the shipping pod. There’s this guy named Steve Aborn, who at the time, we moved over to the suburbs. We moved out of South. They were living in Hanover and one town over, there was a company called Aborn and company with the guy, Steve Aborn. They’re called Freight Plus now. But he knew Ryan a little bit. He knew me a little bit from conferences and he starts listening to the show. And he’s like, this could be good content marketing for my company. Like it could recruit. I don’t even know what it seems like. Maybe it’ll get younger people to join my company. I’m trying to build a bigger company and it would get our name out there and everything. So he reaches out to me and my first job, like three months into podcasting was ghostwriting. Like I started ghostwriting their blogs and there’s a thousand bucks a month. I was on bankrupt my first year. God bless my wife. She was still able to work a little bit. God bless my bank account. Obviously, God bless my parents too. Like they gave us like 20,000 bucks. Like we literally were going to go bankrupt. I had barely any income coming in. But we worked through it. And you know, my dad was one of the biggest supporters early on. Because he could see what I was doing. He’s like, okay, this doesn’t exist. He’s like, but there’s a market for podcasts, right? He’s like, then yeah, do it. Like what else are you going to do if you want to get in marketing? So my dad was actually my first interview. We talked about like marine cargo insurance and stuff on the show.

Brent – 00:13:03:

Your dad was your first guest?

Timothy – 00:13:05:

Yeah.

Brent – 00:13:05:

No way. That’s legendary.

Timothy – 00:13:07:

Yeah. Then eventually I had him. I’ve had him on the freight wave stuff since I’ve like gotten onto that side of it. But yeah, eventually like he brought me on as their marketing director and I started a show called Consulting Logistics for them. They were a 4PL. They did like a lot of LTL, optimization, RFPs. So we would take on topics like that or like a show would be a topic about like accessorials or chargebacks for late deliveries. That kind of thing.

Brent – 00:13:30:

The real sexy things.

Timothy – 00:13:31:

Yeah. Yeah. And to me it was like, I knew this was close, but it wasn’t it. And I don’t say that as any offense to like Steve or Abel and I love them for doing it, but it was like, I have two strong ideas to just be like contained in a company brand. And it was cool to make money and all that, but like then there was the RFP like that make it do the RFPs and making decks and things. So eventually I see Craig Fuller in February of 2018. He’s launching this thing called Freight Futures. And to me, everyone seems huge at the time. Like any person on land, you would have seemed huge. Craig, would anyone seems huge at first? Even though like in our industry, we’re all pretty down to earth, but I think like from afar, it seems like, I don’t know. But shot in the dark, I asked, I DM’d him on LinkedIn. I was like, hey, I saw you promoting these Freight Futures. I got a Freight podcast. I’d love to interview you about it just to get an idea of what that is. And in the back of my mind, I’d also, you know, by the time I was ghostwriting all that year beforehand, I had been Freight News, Freight Tech, Supply Chain News every single day. And there was one company I noticed that kept going up and up the Google search analytics. And there was this company called FreightWaves. And they look so different than every other news site. And their events looked like I had just been an event out in Boston that was at the big convention center they had there that was called, I think it’s called like Insider or something. It’s a huge marketing event that they have there. And I went and it was, they didn’t have bright lights on like most freight conferences. It wasn’t all, it wasn’t all down lighting and everything. It was up lighting. And it looked like you’re at like a rock concert or something. And I’m like, ideas like that have to come in a freight conference. And I saw like some pictures from one of FreightWaves and I’m like, they’re getting kind of close. So I interviewed Craig and like, this was like maybe a couple of years from now, Craig will like, you know, I could work with FreightWaves but no, he listens to the interview. And a few days later, he just DMs me on LinkedIn. He’s like, if you ever need a job, I’ve got one for you in Chattanooga. And I was like, I almost dropped the phone. I almost dropped the damn phone. I was like, I can’t believe the plan is kind of like, did that work? Did me putting myself in it? Like really? So I call him up and he tells me that his plans for podcasting and FreightWaves TV. And I came out and I remember the one like real question he had for me during my interview was, do you think this can be a full-time job? And I was like, I not only think it can be a full-time job, I think can support an entire team, multiple shows and can continue to grow because nobody’s doing it yet. And nobody’s doing it well yet. And so we built and like, he was like, that’s all he wanted to hear. Cause that was his plan anyway. And then he kind of let me run with it. Like I moved out to Chattanooga. Oh, wow.

Brent – 00:15:47:

I want to go back to something because, Freight Nation, if you haven’t heard it, Tim has an excellent podcast. It’s a podcast, but it’s actually a TED talk. They did a TED talk in Chattanooga. It’s excellent. He tells a lot more extended parts of the story, but I want to go back to a phrase because I want the Freight Nation watchers and listeners, Tim, to hear this. I want you to talk about a second. Then I want you to talk about what happened at FreightWaves and what built into that and what went well and what didn’t go well and how you iterated and you kind of kept moving forward and with all the different things in the industry. I want to go back to a phrase that I took off of your TEDx talk. Which was, you had to rewire with a sense of purpose. I hear a lot of great phrases. I hear a lot of them and they’re all good. That’s one of the best ones I’ve ever heard. So talk a little bit about that in what did that do to you? Because when you change up here first, everything else follows, right? If you try to change the body first, the brain battles you. You rewired with a sense of purpose. What does that mean to Tim Dooner?

Timothy – 00:16:45:

When I went into READ, they make you journal in there. And I wrote this journal called The Happiest I’ve Never Been, which to me was really effed up. Because I have a kid. I have a great wife. I’ve got another kid who was just born. I know that I’m unemployed, but we’re going to figure this out. We’re going to rise up. But walking into there, I was in such a bad place mentally. I felt like everything was over. I was a complete loser. What are we even going to do? We’re complete losers. I failed this family. I failed myself completely. And my therapist was like, shut up. You’re beating the hell out of yourself. It’s not going to do anything. What you need to do is rethink. He didn’t give me all the skills, but it kind of started small. And it was like, I mean, not being an alcoholic. Oh, it’s easy. Because then you don’t allow all that negativity to get external. You stop starting crap online and looking for everyone else’s problem when you have a problem. When you have a problem, you refuse to deal with it. There’s people on LinkedIn who start crap every single day. I’m not going to name the guy, but he starts a feud with people every single day. I guarantee that guy probably has a drinking problem and is probably very, very unhappy. Because I’ve been there. I’ve been there. And I’m like, dude, you need rehab. You need Jesus. You need a podcast and a journal. But then I realized, look. I’ve got to stop blaming everything else. I’ve got to start here. I’ve got to rethink this. And one of the first things I would do. Because when you’re in a bad place, you get triggered by people on Instagram, people online. And I was like, instead of doing that, only like things. Just only like things. Only like things. First, you don’t have to like things you don’t like. But only go there and like things. Go completely positive to give back to the world. Stop thinking about being critical. Because the reason you’re doing it is because you can’t be happy if you think these things are better than you. Because you’re in such this messed up place. You know? And rewiring has changed so much about how I think about everything. But it kind of just started with that little bit of positivity. And then also being able to get addicted to something else. To create a positive addiction. You can’t just be like, I’m going to stop drinking. And then that thing inside of you that’s like, okay, but what am I supposed to obsess over? You’ve got to give me something. It’s going to come at you either way. So it’s like, that’s where the podcast came in. And that’s why I think that. And I don’t mean to do my homework, but I’m a little hard to compete with in this space for a lot of people.

Brent – 00:18:49:

You’re good at it. Yeah.

Timothy – 00:18:50:

Because I’m obsessed. It’s survival for me. This got me out of a very, very, very dark place. I appreciate it. And I respect it so effing much. Because I know what the other side looks like. I know what it looks like if I stop climbing up. And I don’t want to look back down.

Brent – 00:19:06:

Oh, wow. Yeah. Well, Freight Nation, look. I made Tim come back to that. Or I asked Tim to come back to that. Because I get to see a lot of great motivational things out there. And if you find yourself struggling. If you find yourself in a situation that you feel like there’s no way out. I love that phrase, you just said. Rewire with a sense of purpose. And find a positive addiction. Something that you can be obsessed about. That’s going to reflect well on your life and your career. You can talk about things personally as well. But I love that. Rewire with a sense of purpose. Because we all go through these things. We all go through these things. And so that’s one reason why I was so excited to have Tim on the podcast today. Was because I got to hear a part of the story back in November of last year. And so to me, I was like, wow, that’s incredible. And I know people can take encouragement and motivation for their life. Just hearing your story, Tim. So, all right, look. Just keep rolling. You got to. Craig said, hey, Dooner, dream big. All right. And so. But here’s the thing, though. And this is what I know about you. I know about your past. You already had the creative muscle in there. You already had some of the industry experience in there. You already had a sense of purpose and direction that was driven by desperation. Because you got to a point and said, this is not going to be me. I have more in me than that. And so you get to this big stage. Where this person named Craig Fuller is creating this giant platform that continues to rocket up. And you’re part of that success. Because you’re not just information. Because I love that when you talked about your first podcast that was more and more sort of an academic part of the marketplace. You were more information at that point. But you said there’s more than that. Because you’ve been to Hollywood. You know what it’s like. You know that entertainment is what keeps people engaged. And so what the truck may be informational, yes, in many cases it is. Mostly it’s really entertaining because people learn the best when they’re happiest. So, all right, so let’s rock and roll. You get to FreightWaves you start rolling things out. Tell us about the process. Where were some of the things that went super well? Where were some of the things that you challenged and had to change?

Timothy – 00:21:03:

It’s interesting because you get in there and it’s such a great environment for me. But a lot of people struggle mightily because like what was great for me is I don’t like to be told what to do. If you tell me, I’ll leave. If you try to tell me what to do too much, this doesn’t work. Like, just give me some tools. You think I’m a good builder. Let me go build and let me have some people I can execute with. That’s how I function best on a team. And the great thing is that Craig let that. There was this guy, Chad Prevost of What the Truck. Like, he was just like, okay, like, you want to take over the format of the show? Go and take over the format of the show. And I’m like, good, coz, I am anyway, no.

Brent – 00:21:34:

They’re going to do it anyway.

Timothy – 00:21:37:

But like, I mean, with the truck, that was easy. That kind of worked right away. But my task wasn’t just to do like one podcast or a podcast for myself. It was to build an entire network. And we needed a lot of content. And back in the day, it’s not really the goal anymore. But back in the day, Craig’s goal was to have a 24-7 streaming network. My goal was just to have like a bunch of podcasts, create a podcast network that could convert to that. You know, and that’s sort of the model. And I remember like when they first started FreightWaves TV, they’re like, oh, what are we going to air? And I’m like, well, just so you guys can learn the production, everything, put a mic in the What the Truck booth. And we’ll be your first TV show, which is great because then that gave me clips and all sorts of stuff.

Brent – 00:22:09:

That was just an idea like off the cuff. Like, yeah, just take a mic over here. We’ll take care of the rest of it.

Timothy – 00:22:14:

Yeah, basically. Let’s put a camera in here. Pretty much. You know, and then from there, like I used to do a lot more because what the Truck was one day a week. So I would do every morning. I used to do like the morning minute, which was a 60 minute like headline read. I used to show up FreightWaves Insiders, which was like this. It was one on one conversation for like 45 minutes to whenever we launched. I put that coffee out with Kevin Hill. I launched a shell show for podcasters. Did that for a bit. And like Freightonomics, that show’s still around. And it’s actually still our second top show over here. Great team over there. Originally, Anthony and Zach and now Tony Mulvey and Zach are running that one. So that’s always been a great show. But the more and more What the Truck grew, the more and more like my role became mostly What the Truck. So we initially expanded. It was just Mondays. And we’re like, okay, let’s have a Friday show. And then sponsors wanted more and they were willing to pay for more. And it made sense to program more because it was killing everything in the ratings, so, let’s do a Wednesday show. And there was a point where they almost tried to make me go five, and I’m like, look, I do so much of this on my own that I really need like that Tuesday and Thursday to get all the guests together and to arrange everything. But what I’ve done to fill in the blanks is I started a newsletter about four years ago. I was a big fan of the Morning Brew and I was like, the Freight needs a Morning Brew. So I started a newsletter. Now we’re over 15,000 subs on that. It goes out every Thursday. We got syndicated on SiriusXM in March. SiriusXM approached us and was like, hey, what if we were to replay What the Truck, the one you do at noon at 5 p.m. And 11 p.m. Eastern, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. And I’m like, hell yeah, sure. Well, you know where that helps us too, right? Because you probably think about this too on the partnership side is like a show like mine. What’s really awesome and unique about what we’ve built with What the Truck is that I have the C-suite on. I have truck drivers on. I have students. I have people from all over. But like the reason I always tell the drivers is the C-suite is important because if this is just truck drivers talking, if I only talk to them, C-suite is not going to listen. Nothing we talk about will ever enact any change whatsoever. I need you all to listen to each other. So I got to build a platform that does it. But sometimes with sponsors, they’d be like, well, who exactly does it hit? And I’d be like, well, it’s like 33%, 33%, 33%. But the nice thing about Road Dogg is you can go, well, also now it’s on radio. And that is like, what, 95% probably drivers that listen to Road Dogg. Like who else will listen to it? It just makes it easier. And that, again, is a lot more gasoline. Every time we do that, I spend more time investing in the show. And last year was a little bit like I think everyone was reeling a little bit because partnerships. We’re down. Money was like everyone was more like surviving than being like, hey, can we sponsor this? Or let’s do this really cool event.

Brent – 00:24:41:

Most people don’t understand media is hard. Media logistics is hard. Media is hard. It’s not easy.

Timothy – 00:24:47:

Brutal. If you meet someone who is successful in media, I guarantee you they are a scrapper if they’ve been doing it for a while. And not just like a fad. If people have been doing it for years, you got to be scrappy because it’s hard. It’s probably harder than sales, but it’s easier in the sense that like, because it is sales, everything sells. I have to sell the listeners. I have to sell the sponsors. I got to sell the company behind me to not think I’m, especially when I started out. Like, because by one challenge when I started and Craig would be like, numbers don’t lie, but What the Truck’s not my cup of tea. The original, like the first two years of it. He’s like, numbers don’t lie, it’s not my cup of tea. Because, you know, for him, he wanted to build like the Bloomberg TV. So he was hoping that maybe like a little bit more professional looking person would be the face of like the TV and he gets me instead. But since then though, he’s like, what was I even thinking? He’s like, this is freight and trucking, man. It’s a t-shirt and jeans world. Like you put this suit on and start talking to people. I guarantee like 85% of the audience will tune out. You might get like some age kissing, like executives who listen so they can say they heard you. But in general, like that’s the webinar. That’s kind of like the boring thing.

Brent – 00:25:50:

The boring, you know, freight’s not, not pretentious. So it’s grassroots and it’s very genuine and authentic. And I’ve just had to learn that over my almost 30 years doing this, which is just be yourself and bring that every single day and make sure you’re delivering quality across the board and the rest of it take care of itself. All right. So you’ve gotten to where you are now, where I would go as far as to say that FreightWaves and with the truck, they’re very synonymous with each other because you are such a giant part of the content, the platform. So you said that you’re doing tremendous amount of all of the sourcing of the people that come on.

Timothy – 00:26:24:

Oh, every, yeah. Everything I want to chug. I mean, aside from like the production side, but like the assets, the art, the logos, that’s all me or my wife. And I turn to 95% of the guests booking. I mean, obviously sometimes there’s partnership relationships and there’s the team side that handles that, but all every single earned media reach out and all that kind of guestry. I love to do it. And the reason why is this goes back to sales. Like if I pass this off to someone else, it’s like, why? I want to own the relationship. I have this opportunity to talk to these massive business leaders. I can extend the olive branch. Why would I want to pass that off to someone else? I think it’s very important.

Brent – 00:26:55:

For sure. So Tim, you own the brand of What the Truck.

Timothy – 00:26:58:

Well, I mean, FreightWaves like owns it, but like, I think that like, if I were to be like, Craig, I’m going to go like, people always ask this. They go, why don’t you go independent? And I don’t, I’ve been independent. First of all, Craig, for example, is an amazing partner, right? He’s able to get this big giant studio. I would not be where I am without that Freightways studio, that network and that sort of backing. I mean, I know that I’ve met a brand that can stand out beyond that, but Freightways takes care of me. So there’s no reason for me to really be like, I need to go somewhere else. Like I already do my own things on like from the influencer side already anyway. So I’m able to work for them, do my own. Like we have a very good sort of marriage going on. So there’s no real reason to divorce that. And every year I always have a talk with Craig too. And we evaluate how like the show’s doing and if we’re drawn enough and I’m hyper aware of how much revenue the show does. And I’ll be like, hey, you know, and Craig is, you know, Craig, he’s a smart guy. He’s a businessman. And he’s like, yeah, this is fair. And I think right now I have a very, very fair deal.

Brent – 00:27:55:

Yeah, no doubt. So talk about that for a second, because if somebody wanted to get into their own podcast and create this thing, talk about a couple of things. Talk about the creative process that you go to. And then I want to talk, I want you to kind of give the Freight Nation watchers and listeners kind of a one-on-one on what’s the need for distribution? Because FreightWaves allows you not just a studio and nice technology and nice pieces of equipment and a few resources, but it gives you distribution. So talk a little bit about the creative process and talk about the power of distribution.

Timothy – 00:28:27:

Distribution is huge. I mean, that’s another reason why, like, why would I divorce? Like my show gets to be featured, literally playing on the sidebar and hosted on a site with millions of viewers, like millions of people coming by there. So I already have great real estate. But along with all the other social media stuff, we built it. But like, just as a home base, you have that brand and backing and like having a name and a logo attached like that, opens doors like the SiriusXM partnership and stuff, which again is even more distribution. And again, puts us ahead of any other, you know, I don’t like look at a competition that much in freight podcasting, like get concerned or anything. But like when you see someone’s kind of gliming up a little, I’m like, I’m not letting them get even a mile close to me. Like I got to go that much further. I’m going to run faster. If I even smell you anywhere near me, I am speeding up. I’m speeding up. I’m looking for new partnerships. I’m looking for new way to dominate.

Brent – 00:29:16:

Smelling you anywhere near me, I’m speeding up. Another great quote. I smell you anywhere near me. I’m speeding up. All right. That’s fantastic.

Timothy – 00:29:28:

But it’s great to see. It’s awesome to see stuff like Frank Caviar, for example. He does a great job on the newsletter and meme side. And it’s like, oh, cool. But we don’t have a rivalry. When he started out, when he was coming up, I’m like, here, come on the platform. I was there before. Let me help you guys out. Get your message out. And here’s the thing. If I can help you grow on your own and you can help Oscar. I feel like this is a very small industry. And if we can make those kind of friends and you can sort of leverage yourself early on and make those friends, you’re going to have great partnerships moving through. And that’s kind of my approach to everything. Like, does this make sense? Can we make it great? And how can I help you? Like, there’s not everybody I want to help, but there’s definitely some people I want to help.

Brent – 00:30:05:

Well, yeah, no, that’s one of the things that I’ve found so endearing about trucking in my tenure here has been, it is amazing how well and how much people that even are in a little bit of competition with each other even want to help each other because, you know, it’s a trillion dollar industry. There’s a lot of opportunity to go around for people. All right. So talk a bit about the creative process, because one of the things, and I mean this sincerely, Tim, your show is way past podcast. Your show is entertainment because all this stuff, even just the promos you have, not many people use things to explode on their promos, but you do. So my point though, is that you’re continuously iterating your entertainment value because look, all of the Apple platforms, the NBC platforms, the Hulu’s, the Amazon, they’re not building podcast platforms. They’re building entertainment platforms because humans like entertainment. Your show is entertainment. And to me, that’s why I think you’re in a category of one. I don’t think. I don’t think there’s anybody like you. And we at Truckstop would never pretend to be like, what you’re doing, that’s not what we do. We’re in the freight matching platform business. We’re in that part of the way a freight beneficially moves. You’re in the entertainment part of it. So like I said, to me, you’re a show of one. So talk a little bit about the creative process, because this is where the Freight Nation Watches list. I know that some people out there, if you own something unique in the market and you want to talk about it, well, you’ve got great distribution because this thing called the internet, you know, as my dad used to say, the internets. I don’t know how I got plural, but with Timberwolves.

Timothy – 00:31:32:

It’s like in Boston. In Boston, we can’t pronounce the letter R, but sometimes it just like will end up in another word that it just doesn’t belong in perfectly, completely enunciated. Even though you can’t say car, car, you know, like it does just feel like I can’t even think of a word off the top of my head, but it comes up.

Brent – 00:31:51:

Such great stuff. So I got two kids in Boston. I hear it all the time, man. So talk about the creative process. And then I want to spend the last few minutes. I want you to talk a little bit about kind of what’s next, because in any business, you have to continue to iterate. You have to continue to innovate and improve. And as I just used three eyes, they’re kind of cool. But you need to use that because the sort of reinvention is something that we as consumers want in every product, no matter what it is. So talk a little about the creative process and then kind of transition into what’s next for what the truck and what’s next for Tim Dooner.

Timothy – 00:32:21:

You know, social media played such a big part in my creative process because my show is like news, crazy things that have happened and people. And the only way to really get a direct pipeline of that into your brain constantly is to like be on Twitter and LinkedIn. But like I’ve integrated into my whole process. So like the one thing I don’t tell you before you become a podcaster is that you’re actually becoming. A social media marketer like, yeah, you’re making it, but that’s the easy part. Like we’re just recording crap. This isn’t hard. I’m just talking. That’s easy. What’s really hard is capturing attention by promoting stuff and getting people to come back and to like and to share. That’s the real challenge. That’s the grind. I think that’s probably what wipes people out. They expect numbers to come way too quick. They don’t realize that one thing in B2B is.

Brent – 00:33:04:

Hold on for you said B2B. Make sure you define that for the Freight Nation watchers and listeners.

Timothy – 00:33:09:

What I mean is, and I hate, I kind of hate that term, but we are in a B2B space and I don’t think we’re businesses talking, but we’re the people within those businesses talking. That does create somewhat of a circle, right? It creates somewhat of like a parameter as loose as you want to make it. It’s still sort of like my audience is within this circle. Now I have to draw more circles within that. Like, who are they? Who do I want to hit? What’s the age group? In clothing, they’ll be like, like when I was at Talbots, they’d be like, who’s my Jenny? And that’s like, who’s their girl? Who’s the woman that goes in the store and buys the dress? In a podcast, who’s the person that puts this in their ear and is going to listen? Who is the person at their desk that’s watching what the truck? So you always have to sort of be cognizant of that. But like you said, you’re one and it’s kind of true, not to my own horn, but there’s very few people who support themselves completely and well by being a freight podcaster. Like they’re accessorial to marketing something else. Maybe they’re marketing like a store or they’re marketing their company or it’s like content marketing like I used to do on that side. It has some aspect. You can’t plan. I didn’t plan that. And that took like sort of years of making this move to make that move happen and just smart business decisions. If you really want to do this consistency, it’s like anything that takes time. It’s consistency, right? Like so many shows wash out by number 11 because people go, I did 11 of these and it’s not really getting the audience that it needs. We’ve even had like on the pro side, people only do 11. Like people have been hired by us to go do a podcast. And like there’s two people in life. There’s some people who come in and they’re like, I have an amazing idea. I’m going to run with it. I just need a little bit of your help. Then there’s some people like, what do you need? It’s hard to make someone creative who needs to be told what to do.

Brent – 00:34:42:

That’s a fast way to failure. You can’t force the creative. You either got creativity or you need to be surrounded by people that can bring you creativity.

Timothy – 00:34:49:

You got to listen to the audience too. Like what have you been afraid talking about? Like that’s a creative process. Like it’s time consuming, but it’s not like rock. It’s like, okay. Oh, everyone’s talking about his in shortage right now. And they’re talking about this new data on the freight recession. And they’re talking about that dash cam video of the truck going off. Okay. These are all red pills, right? Like people are already a bloop, whichever pill, which is the one that people want to take. I forget, but the one that people want to take, it’s already top of mind. So you’re kind of hitting on things and elaborating on points and bring on guests who can help elaborate on the hot stove. Things that are already kind of happening.

Brent – 00:35:19:

Right. Well, same thing on my end. I mean, we’ve got a great team at Truckstop that helps me put on Freight Nation. As a matter of fact, I told them that we’d been wanting to start one, but mostly because I kept watching yours and a couple of others. I was in media for 15 years. I know the ins and outs of it. And so also no really good entertainment. So you held my attention. I’m like, okay, well. Well, Truckstop kept asking me to do a podcast and I kept saying no. And they’re like, well, why not? You’ve got an audience. People know you, you know, we’ve got Truckstop. And I said, you got to have resources because I want to produce quality. Just like you want to produce quality. So if you’re thinking about a podcast Freight Nation Watchers, and it’s just quality is the number one thing. And then you got to be compelling. You can’t be boring. You got to earn the watchers and listeners right for them to listen. You got to earn that right. Every single time you come across. And so the idea that you want to continue to produce genuine quality all the time. And genuine responses to people. This is why I love to watch it. I mean, your stuff, every time I turn on FreightWaves, I always click the audio button and turn on and find out what you’re talking about today. You know, just because I learned a lot from that. So creativity, you talked about this. Okay. So let’s talk about what’s next for Tim Dooner. And then we’re going to wrap it up.

Timothy – 00:36:27:

What’s next is I just opened a store, WTT Gear. So we finally got our designs. You can get the shirt, you can get the hat. We’re doing a live show in Miami. We’re doing a live show in Los Angeles. We’re doing a live show in Chicago. And we’re doing a live show in Atlanta this year. So we’re also making sort of like some special edition designs for those. We already got the Miami Vibes logo. It’s actually, it’s sold really well. We made, my wife is super smart, man. My wife is wicked. Oh, listen to your wife, guys. Especially if you’re going to like market something to women. I was asking my wife when I was opening the store on Wednesday. And I’m like, I want to put an item for women in there. What is that? Is that a pink hat? And then like, here’s how out of touch I am. Like, is that a baby doll shirt? She’s like, Tim, no one’s worn a baby doll shirt since like 2005. And I’m like, oh, well, like what do girls wear? And she’s like, crop tops. Just throw a crop top on there. And I was like, okay. So she just helped me like throw some designs on some crop tops. And it turned out to be a big hit. I guess a lot of girls want the crop tops. So thank you, ladies. I appreciate that.

Brent – 00:37:17:

So what you’re doing is you’re extending your brand into other parts of the market. You’re taking your brand. So Freight Nation, remember, your brand is everything, right? When people buy somethin or watch something. And when people buy What the Truck, that means they’re watching it. Okay. So when they buy it, they first come because it’s kind of unique or they may want it. They continue to buy it because of the brand value that they get out of it. And this is why What the Truck comes across with such great brand value. Because he’s never going to bore you. He’s always going to bring new things in. He’s always going to bring high level, mid-level, low level, or just, you know, high interest, mid-interest, and low level interest things across the board. And so as you’re thinking about launching your own podcast, think about the same thing. And also think about this. And Tim does an excellent job with this Freight Nation. He thinks about the different audiences that he’s appealing to. Because Freight has a tremendous variety in audience. So depending on who you’re going to go after, make sure that you’re customizing your content towards each one of them, because it’s a very variety in the audience. So you’re continuing to extend the brand. So that’s fantastic for you.

Timothy – 00:38:14:

Well, and our friend, Craig Fuller, the other bald man who’s not in the room, Mr. Craig Fuller, he has a great brand now too. He owns like, I don’t know, even know how many magazine brands we have under fire crown now.

Brent – 00:38:24:

Thank you for bringing that up because I wanted to ask you, you’re the executive creative director of Firecrown. Is that right?

Timothy – 00:38:29:

I’m an executive creator, which basically means I control the Weather Truck brand under there, but I can also extend into other stuff. My goal is to at some point, it’s just Weather Truck is so time consuming. And if this year was like last year where I didn’t get booked to do a ton of like live shows and the partnerships are a little bit different. And then when we started this year, we started as like I initially thought I was going to transition to building more stuff. But then like Weather Truck got red hot again with like the deals. So now I got to go do all these live, which is fine. I love Weather Truck. But we do have some other brands. And I know we got like a Lego seller’s license. And I think there might be some opportunity for me to dive into maybe some of my other passions that have synergy within Firecrown. So I have ideas. There’s ideas. There’s no limit to growing.

Brent – 00:39:08:

You’ve got to continue to iterate anything. The audience wants to see new things and wants to know that you’re continuously improving it. So, man, you’re such an inspiration to this marketplace, not just in business, but also personal, Tim. You know, Freight Nation, I hope you go and listen to the TEDx talk that he’s got because he goes a little further into the whole story. It’s a worthy listen. You’ll find great motivation out of it. And I know you do that because you just watched him. He continues to move forward. You continue to create success. You need to change and improve things to find that success. Tim, thank you so much for being on Freight Nation. I want to do a little recap here. We’re going to talk about rewire with a sense of purpose to create a positive addiction in your life. What a great thing. I love that you also said no money is not a barrier to success.

Timothy – 00:39:51:

Dude, I started out with a $10 condensed your microphone off Amazon and a $250 used laptop and an $89 mixer. And we didn’t even have mic stands when we started. We just held it.

Brent – 00:40:03:

Don’t forget to have your dad as your first guest, no matter what you do. Have a parent as a first guest because that’s a surefire way to find it. But what a fun thing to listen to, a way in which you’ve kind of continues to work hard, surround yourself with people that can help you, but continue to, like you said, if you smell somebody close to you, you’re going to move faster, but to continue to move forward no matter what. But what a great, inspiring story. I really appreciate you being on the show today, Tim. This was one of the funnest one of them.

Timothy – 00:40:28:

Well, thank you for having me. I appreciate it.

Brent – 00:40:30:

Well, that’s fantastic. All right. Well, Freight Nation, that’s a wrap, man. I’ll tell you what. And I’ll close with something that you could probably hear out of Tim’s mouth, just like you hear out of mine every time. Don’t forget to work hard, to be kind, and to stay humble. All right. That’s a wrap, Freight Nation. Thanks for being with us, Tim. Thanks for being with us. And Freight Nation, check us out on the web. Sign up. Forward it to your friends and let us know how we can continue to serve you. Thanks a lot. See you next time, Freight Nation. On behalf of the Truck Stop team, thanks for listening to this episode of Freight Nation. To find out more about the show, head to truckstop.com/podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, make sure you hit subscribe so you don’t miss any future episodes. Until then, keep on trucking and exploring the open roads with Freight Nation: A Trucking Podcast.

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