After saving $100,000 at age 25, Tori quit her corporate job in marketing and founded Her First $100K to fight financial inequality by giving women actionable resources to better their money.
Tori Dunlap is a nationally-recognized millennial money and career expert. After saving $100,000 at age 25, Tori quit her corporate job in marketing and founded Her First $100K to fight financial inequality by giving women actionable resources to better their money. She has helped over 800,000 women negotiate salaries, pay off debt, build savings, and invest.
A Plutus award winner, her work has been featured on Good Morning America, the Today Show, the New York Times, TIME, PEOPLE, New York Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, and more.
In this episode, we talk about Tori’s start as a creator, what she’s learned about what works on TikTok, her best advice for getting featured in major publications, and why Service is at the core of Tori’s winning content strategy.
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Tori Dunlap (herfirst100k) 00:00
Literally on vacation with a friend in New Orleans and we were talking shit at a bar the last night and I was telling him about like my, my rebranding crisis. And he's like, I know you've already thought of this but what about Her First 100K? And I was like, no, I have not And I bought the domain that day. And then everything, everything changed from then on.
Jay Clouse 00:17
Welcome to Creative Elements, a show where we talk to your favorite creators and learn what it takes to make a living from your art and creativity. I'm your host, Jay Clouse. Let's start the show. Hello, welcome back to another episode of Creative Elements. Pop quiz, do you know what today, Tuesday, January 18th 2022 is? It's the 2021 4th quarter estimated tax deadline for business owners, of course. I know finance, accounting is not exactly the most exciting subject in the world for most creatives. But what if that is just a story that we've been sold our whole lives? What if we have been systematically trained to think the subjects of money and finance are taboo, or too boring or too complicated for us to worry about? Up until just a couple of years ago, I was pretty firmly in the money is boring, money is hard, I don't want to even look at my bank account camp. But then I decided that I didn't want to be average at my finances. I wanted to at least be above average and take control of my money. And that has led to some great results. I see money as a tool now. Not necessarily a good thing or a bad thing, just a thing, something that I can leverage to achieve the things that I want to achieve. And to leverage it, I need to have it and to have it, I need to earn it, or at least do a better job of managing it. Lo and behold, since paying more attention to my finances, they've gotten much much better. I have automated saving systems, I pay my quarterly taxes on time, I still get a tax refund. Despite being responsible for my own tax withholdings and I can even invest. I have a great retirement portfolio, a small startup portfolio, a crypto portfolio and a home with my fiance. That didn't come from some sudden windfall of cash. Up until just about a year or two ago, I was still pretty broke. It came from simply deciding that I was going to take control of my money and my financial education. That's a choice that anyone can make. You can make it right now in today's guest can help.
Tori Dunlap (herfirst100k) 02:32
Welcome to the Financial Feminist Podcast, your new favorite source for inspiring interviews with badass world changing women about how money affects us differently. And of course, the financial advice you need to get your first 100k, I'm your host Tori Dunlap, an entrepreneur, speaker, educator and founder of Her First 100K, a community of women fighting the patriarchy by getting rich.
Jay Clouse 02:50
That was today's guest Tori Dunlap on her Financial Feminist Podcast. That podcast has spent time ranked as the number one business podcast on both Apple and Spotify. It is not even what Tori is truly known for. Tori is known as the creator of Her First 100K. A growing media empire built to fight financial inequality by giving women actionable resources to better their money. She has helped over 800,000 women negotiate salary, pay off debt, build savings and invest. And Tori herself saved her first 100k by the time she was just 25 years old. And she gives some of that credit to the way that her parents raised her to think about money.
Tori Dunlap (herfirst100k) 03:30
I was lucky enough to have parents who are really focused on providing a financial education for me. And I grew up thinking that that was the norm. I grew up thinking, okay, everybody knows not to overspend on credit cards, and everybody knows how to save money. And of course, you know, graduated high school, got into college and started having conversations with friends and realized that that was a privilege.
Jay Clouse 03:51
So Tori took that education to college with her and imagine that she would apply it to her budding corporate career, climbing the corporate ladder and saving along the way.
Tori Dunlap (herfirst100k) 04:01
I graduated college in 2016, with dual degrees in organizational communication, which is like marketing with less math and a theater, didn't study finance, didn't study even business technically, and went and dove into the corporate world and was working in marketing. And then five months later, Trump got elected, it became very clear to me that I was coming into womanhood and coming into adulthood in a very different America than I think a lot of us expected. And that with that financial education came like the best form of protest. And so I started the blog that later became Her First 100K in like 2016.
Jay Clouse 04:39
That blog was focused on financial education. After a few years and a lot of work and a pivotal rebrand that we talked about in the interview, Tori's content on social media began striking a chord. In October of 2019, she had 8,000 followers when she was featured on Good Morning America. That publicity turned the flywheel even faster for Tori, but she was starting to see growth on Instagram plateau. So in 2020, she decided to give TikTok a try.
Tori Dunlap (herfirst100k) 05:05
I had 30,000 followers at the time we blew up on TikTok and that was in July of 2020. I literally started producing financial content like midway through July, had my first viral video which had like 4 million, I think it has 4 million views now, go viral, I think a week after I started posting content, and it blew everything up.
Jay Clouse 05:26
Today, Tori has more than 2 million followers on TikTok. She has more than 590,000 followers on Instagram. And at the age of just 27 years old, she had earned and saved enough money to retire. So in this episode, we talk about Tori's start as a creator, what she's learned about what works on TikTok, her best advice for getting featured in major publications and why service is at the core of Tori's winning content strategy. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this episode. As you listen, you can find me on Twitter @jayclouse or on Instagram @creativeelements.fm, tag me, say hello and let me know that you're listening. And now, let's talk to Tori.
Tori Dunlap (herfirst100k) 06:12
I started my first business when I was nine. So I owned vending machines, the kind where you put a quarter and you get a handful of candy out like gumball machines. And I had 15 of those by the time I graduated high school, all the profits went to my college fund. And then one of the other things my dad and I did when I was in high school is we'd sneak on a golf because it's so bad. But we'd sneak on a golf courses at like 9:30 at night, when in the summer when you know there was still light outside, but no one was on the course. And we would get into the pond, pull golf balls out, go home and spend like hours in front of the TV out in the garage cleaning them and then we'd sell them on Craigslist. And you know, some of these like title is Pro V1 balls, you know, go for a you know, like a sleeve of three is pretty expensive and so we obviously just counted them. But yeah, that was like probably the craziest way I've made money. And it was just my dad and I just been like, you know how many balls are in this lake. Do you know how many balls are in this pond? Like let's just pull them out and fill them so yeah, it was crazy.
Jay Clouse 07:09
I was gonna ask where the idea came from if you remembered.
Tori Dunlap (herfirst100k) 07:11
It was probably my dad. My dad is very, very, very golf obsessed. It's like my mom and I, our dog and golf in terms of priorities in his life. And so yeah, I think we were probably were the kind of family that goes somewhere and is like, oh, how much revenue are they bringing in per day, right? Or how much like, how much how much does it cost to maintain this place? And so we're probably out, you know, golfing, and we're like, how many balls, like what is the value of this lake when you when you hit all the balls into the pond to the lake? So yeah, I think we did it probably six times over the course of a couple summers. And yeah, it was it was, it was really funny. It just became like more of a more about the story than of course about the amount of money, yeah.
Jay Clouse 07:51
I love that though. There's another guy I have on the podcast really early on, his name is Matt Giovanisci. And he said he was the same way we say, I'm the type of guy that drives our neighborhood. And I just look at houses and say, like, wonder what that guy does. And
Tori Dunlap (herfirst100k) 08:02
Jay Clouse 08:02
I I'm in a I'm in a similar place. But it's so weird how taboo it is to talk about that sometimes, like money rules our lives in a lot of ways.
Tori Dunlap (herfirst100k) 08:11
Jay Clouse 08:11
And it's something that we're afraid to ask like, how did you buy this? How did you afford this? How did you get this one?
Tori Dunlap (herfirst100k) 08:18
I have a theory about that. I think I fully believe that it is a patriarchal narrative, right, that maintains the status quo, right? It's patriarchal, it's racist, it's ableist, right? The people already in power, who already have money are telling you don't talk about money to keep you underpaid and overworked, right, and financially unstable. That's the whole thing. So when you hear, oh, don't talk about money, that's taboo, or like, it's really inappropriate to talk about your salary or you know, having data shameful, right? These are all narratives or women aren't supposed to be investors, right? These are all narratives that we're told, in order for us to not become financially educated because they profit off of our silence so they profit of in our action. You better believe that people who have money are talking about money. That's part of the reason they have it, right? And so I think that that's one huge narrative, the societal norm about talking about money is in polite, that I'm really trying to buck because I think it's just yeah, it's not helpful to anybody except the people who already have money in power.
Jay Clouse 09:22
Totally. I mean, how else can you explain not having personal finance classes in like, K-12 really? Like that was never anything we had available.
Tori Dunlap (herfirst100k) 09:31
Right or hearing from your corporations, like we bar talking about your salary with your co-workers, they can't legally do that. That's actually you're legally allowed to talk about your salary with your co-workers. That is purely a power move in order to make sure that you're not figuring out that Chad, who has less experience in US actually getting paid 25% more, right? So yeah, I think it's really important when it comes to money to like zoom out and be like, what narratives were we taught either by society, by our family, by our communities and, you know, how is that impacting the way we as adults now view money? And I have an episode on my podcast, it's the second episode where we do like a really big deep dive into like the psychological bullshit around money because the way we view money has everything to do with your childhood and the way you were brought up. And, and I think that that can have the most lasting impacts on you, whether that's your personal finance, or you know, if you're a business owner or your business's finances. When I started researching the link between how our parents managed money, how we viewed money growing up, our childhood bullshit around money, is I realize they're pretty much inextricably linked. The majority of money habits are actually cemented by age seven. I don't think a lot of people realize that the majority of our money habits are cemented by second grade, meaning the way we manage money as an adult, the way we view money in our society, the relationship we have to money has largely been formed and, you know, established since we were kids. So one of the practices that I like to do with clients is journal through that first money memory. And if you're on a run, if you are in your car, I would encourage you to either contemplate these questions or save this episode for when you can sit down and actually journal. So yeah, I think you can draw a through line through, through all of that.
Jay Clouse 11:26
Because this is like systemically taboo and kind of like dampened. And so have you experienced people being really curious and wanting to talk to you about this or have you had to kind of break people into it?
Tori Dunlap (herfirst100k) 11:39
I think it's a little bit of both. I think once you like even me talking about like, it's a narrative perpetuated by like the system or the patriarchy or whatever you want to call it that blows people's minds. And they're like, oh, of course, right? But we've never had it framed that way because it's just been you don't talk about money, right? And so I think that once people get that they're 100% on board. We're also very voyeuristic when it comes to money, right? You look at a lot of the money media out there. Perfect example like the Refinery29 Money Diaries that are super popular, where someone will literally journal anonymously, about everything they spend money on for a week, like people are obsessed with those, right, or like Graham Steven will break down like, you know, what somebody spent on a $80,000 salary, right? So I think we are and you know, even look at like money media, like the, you know, The Real Housewives, right, we're obsessed with those shows, or like Million Dollar Listing, we really are obsessed with wealth in America but yet, no one's talking about it. So it's like this weird contradiction where we, you know, are obsessed with rich people and luxury and Elon Musk's stock, you know, ownership and shit like that, right? But like, at the same time, there's so many barriers, both systemic and personal for us personally, as an individual to, you know, feel financially confident, not even rich or wealthy, right, but just like, feeling like you're not living paycheck to paycheck. So I feel like there is so much interest for people in talking about money, especially when you frame it in terms of like, this is a form of protest. Because if you are, you know, from any sort of marginalized group, you're a woman, you're a person of color, you're a member of the LGBTQ community, you're disabled, right? You having money is an act of protest against the very system that is structured for you to not have money. So I think when you frame it like that people are like, yeah, let's, let's talk about it.
Jay Clouse 13:39
I love that. So when did you decide or realize that you wanted to make this kind of your personal mission of sharing this idea and helping women and marginalized people to really take the stand?
Tori Dunlap (herfirst100k) 13:52
I think it honestly was when Trump got elected, you know, it was my own, probably, you know, it was my own privilege of growing up, you know, in, you know, a middle class white household, right? Even as a woman, of course, you know, every single person has privileged in some way, right? And for me, that was, you know, I never wanted for anything, I had parents who worked really hard to provide a really good life for me, and I think, you know, I graduated college and was like, cool, first woman president, let's go. Literally, like graduated, got my first job in May of 2016. And thought, we will have our first woman president four months later. And of course, that did not happen. And so I think, for me, that was like, I hate even to say, a shock, but it was, you know, and that I think calls out my own privilege that it was shocking that Trump got elected, but I think yeah, I was just really surprised that that was the kind of America that that I lived in and that we all lived in. And I think just realizing that you know, feeling this like draw to like activism and to you know, go into women's marches and having really hard conversations with people and again, coming into adulthood and realizing like, what do I believe? What do I stand for? You know, and both also getting into corporate and realizing that this was not what I wanted at all. So, you know, I thought in college, okay, I'll become, you know, get into marketing and I want to be VP of marketing by 30, like that was the plan is I'm gonna have like my pencil skirt, and my, my little like, you know, my tote bag, or so I don't know, and I'm gonna, like have a Starbucks and like very Sex and the City, like walk through the, you know, the streets of a city and like, conquer it, right? That was like my vision for my life and then got into it and was like, no, no, I don't respect who I work for, I don't like making somebody I don't respect rich, I don't like being told how much time I can take off. I don't like you know, I don't like even if my work is done having to sit here and bullshit like I didn't like any. And also watching I've worked you know, I had I had a pretty good job out of college, the first job but it was also very, very male dominated. It was a bunch of like ex military and ex cops who it was just very, not the environment that I wanted. And I watched female co-workers get paid less, I watched, you know, other women and and members of my team get discriminated against. I was sexualized I had, you know, sexual comments said to me, and so it was just, it was a combination of all of these factors at the same time, which is like, not only is my personal experience, you know, in a very misogynistic environment, where I'm realizing that in order to leave, I have to have the money to do so, right, or I have to get a better paying job in order to do so. But also having conversations with friends, seeing what's going on politically and socially in the States and across the world. It was again, very clear to me that, okay, our best form of protest, our best form of rising up in a society is a financial education.
Jay Clouse 16:53
And I've heard you talk before about that financial education giving you choice.
Tori Dunlap (herfirst100k) 16:59
Jay Clouse 16:59
Something that can really empower you. And in my own privilege, which I've been reckoning with and learning a lot about the last couple of years, I realized that like, that's one of the greatest gifts I've been given is just like all along the way, I've had so much choice and opportunity. So can you talk a little bit about choice in your, in your mind and what that gives to people?
Tori Dunlap (herfirst100k) 17:17
Yeah, I mean, the example I like to give or the examples is, when you give, you know, my work is largely with women. So when you give a woman money, right, her entire life opens up. She can leave the toxic situation, whether that's a job or a relationship that she doesn't want to be in anymore, because she has the money to do so, right? 99% of domestic violence cases have some sort of financial abuse tied to them. So you think about that, of course, money changes everything, right? You can leave a violent, toxic, abusive situation, because someone isn't controlling your money, right? So there's that example,you can donate to causes you believe in, right? I can literally go to my favorite charity right now and donate a bunch of money without even thinking about it. That's so fucking cool, right? I can, again, get married if I want to, not because I financially need a partner but because I love this person, right? I can also not get married, because I don't financially need somebody, right? I can have children or not have children. I can retire early. I can start my own business right there. All these options open up to you. So yeah, for me, like financial stability means choices. And it's also so much bigger than you because my financial freedom now, the ability for me as an individual to have choices, now I'm showing literally millions of women across the entire world. This is what financial freedom can look like. It's taking myself to a five star hotel in Tuscany after I've had like the hardest year of my life, right? It is employing women in my business now. It is you know, again, donate into causes I believe in or buying the thing, buying the dinner, paying for my friend's dinner, right? I think that that's the power of it is it just opens up so many options and choices that somebody may have not had before.
Jay Clouse 19:02
After a quick break, Tori and I explore her path from leaving corporate America to becoming a full time creator, and the rebrand that changed everything. And later we dig into the role TikTok, Instagram and publicity has played in her success. So stick around and we'll be right back. Welcome back to my conversation with Tori Dunlap. Before the break, Tori was telling us about her experience graduating college going into corporate America and really not liking it. That was only a few years ago, but a far cry from where she is today as the creator of Her First 100K. So I want to explore that pathway from corporate America to full time creator a little bit deeper.
Tori Dunlap (herfirst100k) 19:40
I knew I wanted to be my own boss someday. You know, I was again my vending machine story. I didn't invent anything. It wasn't novel. But I loved that idea even when I was younger, of you know, running my own thing. And so I had been toying with the idea of starting a blog for literally years. And again, if you're listening, and you're a person who's an aspiring entrepreneur, you're going to relate to this a lot. I was constantly going, oh, yeah, I want to start a blog. But like, I don't have a website domain, I don't know what I'm going to call it, I don't know what my brand would be, I don't know what my colors would be. So I'm just not going to start. And I did that for years. And it's funny to think about where I would be even now, I'm super proud of where we are now. But if I would have started even years before then, so literally, got just really honest with myself, and I'm like, what's holding you back? Okay, you don't have a website, okay, pay the $25 and go get a website, okay, you don't have a brand, you don't have to have that figured out yet. It's fine. You just need to get started. And this is what I tell entrepreneurs all the time is like, you are putting barriers up for yourself because you're scared of actually starting, and that's okay. But you're scared that maybe it's not going to be good enough, right, or maybe you're going to fail. I would rather you try it and then fail then like knowing and oh, knowing yourself of saying like, no, that's not gonna work. No, I don't know what I'm doing, you will figure out what you're doing, right? So I just got honest with myself, there was one night in December 2016, where I was just like, okay, I'm gonna buy a domain, and I slapped three blog posts up and I'm like, I launched it, no one knows but I launched it, right? And that blog later became Her First 100K. And it was a couple years before I rebranded and was really clear that I just wanted to talk about money and that I wanted to talk about it as a form of protest. But I figured that out, from running up running a blog for two years and figuring out what I didn't want to do or figuring out what did connect with people. It was literally, I've been wanting to do this for a really long time. And I've been putting it off and making excuses for myself. What if I just started on this random Tuesday night? Cool, it's done now, it's launched, now I can figure out what I want to do. So yeah, if you're out there going, like, oh, I want to do this thing, but I don't have it all figured out. You're never gonna have it all figured out. I'm a multi seven figure business owner, I don't have it all figured out now. So you just kind of have to do it. And you figure it out along the way.
Jay Clouse 22:02
In the beginning, as you're starting to knock down some of these dominoes of like, okay, I put the blog up, I put the blog post up.
Tori Dunlap (herfirst100k) 22:08
Jay Clouse 22:08
What was your social contract with yourself after that? Was it, I'm going to publish weekly or monthly or, you know, a lot of people, even if they do get that point, now they feel like, now what, now I'm stuck because
Tori Dunlap (herfirst100k) 22:19
The consistency of it.
Jay Clouse 22:20
I'm not seeing attention or I'm not getting the response that I wanted. How did you approach the next steps?
Tori Dunlap (herfirst100k) 22:25
I don't know if I so much made a schedule with myself as I was just like, I'm going to learn as much as possible from people I really admire. So, you know, I was looking at people whose type of businesses I wanted, and consumed their content, and figured out oh, why does that work for them? Oh, because they have a call to action in their Instagram post, right? Or, oh, they're, you know, they're opening up their DMS for people's questions. Oh, that's interesting, right? Or, you know, oh, they're creating that product, how do they figure out how to create that product? What's the course, right, figuring out all of that? So I think for me, it was actually less about me producing content at that point, although I was, you know, I was coming out with a blog post, I was doing Instagram. It was like, who do I admire and what can I learn from them. And it wasn't just again, like their podcast or their, their website, it was seeing actually what they did in their business. So especially early on, she's had kind of a reckoning during the Black Lives Matter movement. But Jenna Kutcher was a big, big, like, influence on my work, especially in the beginning, where, you know, you know, she had her podcasts I listened to I went to her website, and I'm like, why does this work for her? I just started looking at the content she posted on Instagram, right? Or just looked at, oh, she does this quiz on her website. And that's how she gets emails, right? So just not only consuming the content that they're, they're presenting for you to learn from, but actually learning from what they were doing, if that makes sense because I think those are two different things, right? Consume the content that's there that they're providing for you to learn but also watch what they're doing in their businesses. And you can do this with me, right? You can come now and see, oh, she's doing that thing for this goal. And here's the outcome, right? That's that's I think really powerful. So I just watched for a really long time and I like was running my blog and obviously you know, still at my nine to five and and figuring out you know, what I wanted to do and what my voice was and what my niche was, but also really like, you know, being a sponge and absorbing as much of that as I could.
Jay Clouse 24:36
That's such a good meta point. This is something that I remember and then say, I'm going to do that then I forget this idea of like, anytime you take action on something
Tori Dunlap (herfirst100k) 24:44
Jay Clouse 24:44
Pause and say like, why did I do that? What got me to do that and might not might not have been bought be buying something, I might be like, why did I land on this website? What got me here?
Tori Dunlap (herfirst100k) 24:54
Why don't I give them my email? Why did I like that Instagram post? Why did I you know, why did I even come on TikTok in the first place, right? And I think that, yeah, that for me, that's, that's so great that you said that because that's my rule like for marketing because the I worked as a marketer is I always put myself in the other person's shoes of like, when I as a consumer, yeah, consume content or, or buy something or click on something, what's going through my head. And I think that's hugely insightful, when you're creating your own stuff is putting your, you know, putting your mind where the other person is, or you know, putting what is the walk a mile in their shoes, right? It's just like figuring out like, what, what is going to prompt them to take a certain action that you want? And again, what is the outcome of that action then?
Jay Clouse 25:45
So at this point, were you thinking, I'm going to be a blogger or were you thinking I'm going to be like, an influencer? Like, did you have a title or a model in mind, for what, how this is going to work?
Tori Dunlap (herfirst100k) 25:57
Yeah so I was blogging and thought I had a good friend who, who still runs a blog called GenTwenty And this is the classic thing of again, learning from people. I literally found out she was in Seattle, was a huge admirer of hers reached out was like, hi, can I just take you for coffee? And she has been like, such an amazing resource. And now we talk all the time of like this brand reached out, they pay, they want to pay this, right? So like, we're friends, we're like good friends now. So that's really cool is like finding people that you can connect with, and again, learning from them. So, you know, learning from her, I was like, oh, I think I want to be a blogger. But then you realize what you're being measured on as a blogger. And I found my content was really great. I knew my content was valuable. But blogging, especially if you want to get paid for it is a lot of like, what are your pageviews and at the time, my pageviews sucked, like it wasn't great. And so after about two years of really trying to like build up my blog and create a lot of content. I was just like, okay, I don't want to play the page view game, like, I don't want to do that. And I was also starting to grow my Instagram and I kind of plateaued. I was probably two years in at like, 4000 Instagram followers. And maybe, gosh, I'm trying to remember my website views at that time, I don't know, 4000, 5000 a month maybe. And was just kind of like, okay, something's got to give. And I knew that I wanted to rebrand. I knew just for my own marketing prowess, that Victory Media didn't tell you anything. I ran my businesses, Victory Media, that was my blog. I knew that Victory Media didn't tell you anything about who I was really or what I did, right? It was like a play on my name. And so I knew I wanted to rebrand I knew that was important. But again, I got into the like, well, I don't know what to rebrand. I don't know what to call it. I don't want to niche myself down too hard. I knew I wanted to talk about money, but I didn't just want to be the person, or the budget person, or the investing person. And so I was at like a mastermind group and it was my first time there. And for whatever reason, I felt called to tell these complete strangers about my own savings goal. And I had told, I think my boyfriend at the time, and like my parents, and my best friend, and no one else knew but I was trying to save $100,000 by 25. That was my goal is like, if I can do this the day before I turned 26, it still counts. And it was completely arbitrary. It was just like, let's see if I can do it. I'm a big, like, numbers motivated person. And I ended up telling them about that goal. And one of the women there was like, well, that's your brand. That's your new brands. And I was like, what, and they're like Your First 100K. And I was like, yep, that's it. And then I went through like a three month crisis where somebody owned the domain for Your First 100K. And I didn't know what I was gonna do. I was like, do I buy the domain? I don't have the money to do that. Do I do like You Our First 100K? Or do I like spell it, you know, went through all that drama. And then I was literally on vacation with a friend in New Orleans. And we were talking shit at a bar the last night and I was telling him about like, my, my rebranding crisis. And he's like, I know, you've already thought of this but what about Her First 100K? And I was like, no, I have not and I bought the domain that day. And then everything, everything changed from then on. When I rebranded and got really clear as to who my customer was, that's when everything changed, right? Your or Her First 100K, right? Her appealing to women or women identifying people, first 100k, right, it's not your first million, it's not your 600k, it's your first 100k and it's flexible. It can be whatever 100k you want, 100k debt paid off, 100k earned, 100k saved, right? So I think that that was where everything transformed for me was being really clear as to what I did. Okay, I talked about money. I talked about other things too, because money affects everything. Money affects your career. It affects your travel, it affects your lifestyle, but really clear that I was the money person who talked to women who were just starting out, and that's when everything changed for me.
Jay Clouse 29:47
So cool. Did you have any trepidation around like, well, am I cutting out half my market? Because I know a lot of people when they focus down whether it's on gender versus anything else, it's just like I'm cutting out half the people.
Tori Dunlap (herfirst100k) 30:01
Yes. Thank you for asking this question. If you're listening, grab a notebook, I want you to write this in the biggest letters you possibly can. If you are trying to be everything to everybody, you are nothing to nobody. If you are trying to appeal to every single person, it will not work for you because I did exactly that. I was like, okay, I'm just gonna talk about personal finance and lifestyle, I think for women, but if men want to come to and like, I guess it's millennials, but really, anybody can use this advice. It was so crazy because, again, put yourself in somebody's shoes. I'm gonna come on some of these website and go, wait, who is this person? What do they do? Is this for me? I don't know. I don't feel I don't know who this person is. I get no concept as to what they're an expert in or what they can provide for me. And I don't even know if it's for me. Yes, if you're a Dave Ramsey follower, and you're coming to me, my content is not for you. And you are going to be very vocal about that, Lord, aren't you but I don't care. I don't care. Plenty of men consume my content, right, or plenty of non female identifying people consume my content and love it. But I am here largely for women ages around really my target demographics like 25 to 34. Like, that's my big demographic. And so yeah, I think when you're trying to be everything to everybody, you're nothing to nobody, it ends up just really blurring, blurring your message, blurry who you are. And so what I recommend for new entrepreneurs is like, don't be afraid to be controversial. I'm not saying like, say racist shit, that's not good. But like, if you have a statement that, you know, might piss some people off, but it's what you believe that's okay, right? For me, it's like, I'm blatantly feminist. I'm here telling you that a personal finance, you know, education is your best form of protest. That's not for everybody. If you're conservative, if you are on, you know, if you are on the right, you're not going to love my content, right, it's called financial feminist, you're not going to love it but that's okay. Because the people who do love it are totally bought in. They are total brand ambassadors for what we do at Her First 100K. They are so so into it, they're ready to go, like tattooed on their forehead. And that's what you want, right? And you want to build an audience of people who know who you are, who get you, who identify with what you're trying to build, as opposed to somebody who's kind of like, I don't know, I don't know about this person. And so I'm not going to subscribe or I'm not going to follow or I'm not going to consume their content. So yeah, I think there is a hesitancy, especially when you're first getting started that you're going to lose customers. And you might, you might have in the beginning, but I promise you, it's more impactful to figure out exactly who you're talking to and talk to them.
Jay Clouse 32:42
It's a challenge I issued myself pretty frequently also, and usually failed to deliver on which is like polarization, being polarizing, having strong opinions isn't necessarily bad in this world, it can really help you grow quickly it seems because it is a very clear signal of this is who I am, this is what I'm about, this is what I believe, this is how I can help.
Tori Dunlap (herfirst100k) 33:01
Well, I would argue in 2021, it's almost expected from brands and influence. I mean, we look at again, the Black Lives Matter resurgence of last year, if you weren't posting about it, that was a huge red flag to a lot of people. Like if you were if you had any sort of platform and didn't acknowledge what was happening and didn't commit yourself to being better. That was a huge red flag, right? That was a big reckoning. Whether that was big brands, like, you know, Nike or Amazon to just small creators. So I think honestly, it's not just a smart business move at this point. I think it is expected by consumers. I think they want more from you than just the content you produce. They want to know, either who you are or and or what you stand for.
Jay Clouse 33:49
At the risk of going too in the weeds here. What about what about cursing? Like you are not afraid to say fuck, you don't mind that at all, was that
Tori Dunlap (herfirst100k) 33:57
My parents hate it.
Jay Clouse 33:59
I was gonna say like, is that you pre Her First 100K or is?
Tori Dunlap (herfirst100k) 34:03
A little bit um, I it's actually very interesting. My parents, this is a conversation I won't have very publicly but there's a lot that my parents and I disagree on how I run my business and that's one of them. I think I've heard my mom say a curse word probably once in my entire life. And it was like damn, or hell, it was like nothing. Um, no so I mean, that was just me honestly, just growing up and figuring out like, yeah, the F word was not part of my vocabulary for a very long time. And thought it was very scandalous and a word that I would never use. And now it's I say it all the time. No, again, it does piss some people off. But I feel like if you're the kind of person that can't see through that to the kind of content I produce and why it's valuable, then again, you're not really the person I want to talk, right? I get criticized and this is the misogyny of the internet. I get criticized a lot for not being quote professional, which I don't know who decided what professionalism is or is not, right? And that's just I think the territory of being a woman on the internet, right? It's like, they have a very, very clear idea of what professionalism is, and I'm wondering who to find that for them. But yeah, that for me was a decision that is just that's just who I am. And it was also, I think, I think it does shock people in a certain way. And I'd be lying I think if I didn't think about that, as part of my marketing, I'm not out here trying to play it safe. I'm not out here trying to get you all to like me, right? I am very clear as to who I am and who I talk to and how I'm going to present that information. And I feel like it's worked for me. I don't know if that answers your question, but
Jay Clouse 35:44
Oh, yeah, definitely does. And sorry, I know my mom's listening this also so sorry, mom that I just said fuck. When we come back, Tori and I dig into the nitty gritty of her creative process and we even get some of her best advice for being featured in major publications. Right after this. Hey, welcome back. One thing Tori mentioned earlier about her college education was that she had a dual degree including theater. I don't know how much that served her and her brief stint in corporate America, but I figured it was probably very useful as a content creator
Tori Dunlap (herfirst100k) 36:17
100% true. No, a lot of people are shocked to hear that and then as soon as they consume my content for like five minutes they're like okay, that tracks. A lot of us actually, especially women in the personal finance space have backgrounds in theater Erin from Broke Millennial, who's a friend, these are all friends, Stephanie O'Connell. I think there's another one too. There's another prominent woman that yeah, we like all have theater backgrounds. It's very wild. Oh, Farnoosh Torabi does stand up. Like it's very interesting. So yeah, on paper, right? You're like, how does this work? This doesn't seem relatable or you know, real in relation to what I'm doing now. But I mean, I'm comfortable in front of people, I can improv when I need to, right? I can think on my feet, I can present very well, I can storytell really well. And that's why I went into marketing if I this is the kind of like the crisis I went through when I was younger is I had a really candid conversation with my parents where I was like, I want to do theater and they're like, that's not practical. And I was like, you're right, it's not. And I chose the more practical route because I in financially, I didn't want to struggle. I didn't wanna, I didn't want to worry where I was gonna live or like when I was gonna get paid next. So what I did was I found a primary degree that gave me a lot of the things I loved about theater, you know, the storytelling aspect connection with other people. That was more quote unquote, practical, right? So yeah, majored in communication and my second degree my almost like, hobby degree was theater. And so yeah, I think that has been a huge influence and of course, how I run my business and how I show up for my business because yeah, it's like storytelling and connection with people. That's a big thing in Her First 100K is is how do we tell a really good brand story and also how do we create a community as people who are like minded and trying to do similar things? So yeah, I think 100% theatre is why I'm here or one of the reasons that makes us different.
Jay Clouse 38:21
I want to pick back up on the story a little bit here, you were plateaued around 4000 followers on Instagram, you rebranded now you have 470,000 followers on Instagram and millions on TikTok. So how did those platforms grow so much?
Tori Dunlap (herfirst100k) 38:35
Yeah. So I rebranded in early 2019, things started picking up, I think I hit 10,000 followers on Instagram, which was at the time a big thing, because you got swipe up in October, I think it was October of 2019, and then quit my job in November of 2019 to run my business full time. TikTok changed everything, everything.
Jay Clouse 38:56
And that was after 10,000 followers on Instagram.
Tori Dunlap (herfirst100k) 38:59
Yep. So there was a lot of things that we did, right? And it's very easy to look at my business and be like, okay, cool, TikTok overnight success. And it's like, I worked for three, four years to figure out what I wanted to talk about to gain the trust of people, to gain credibility, to be featured in all these publications in order for me to do well on TikTok, but yeah, TikTok has changed everything. So we have 1.8 million followers on TikTok and I think 1.5 of those were in a year, which is crazy.
Jay Clouse 39:30
And if you were starting to produce TikToks in, is it that the word? Is it TikToks?
Tori Dunlap (herfirst100k) 39:34
Jay Clouse 39:34
When it's multiple? Yeah, we're starting to produce TikToks in July is your 2020 but like early to mid 2020. Did you feel like you might be late to that platform at the time?
Tori Dunlap (herfirst100k) 39:44
Yes. I honestly also thought Gen Z is not going to care. I was born in 94. I'm technically still a millennial. I think Gen Z starts at 96 but I'm like right in between almost I can kind of straddle the line. I do identify more with millennials though than Gen Z but no, I thought, okay, Gen Z's for dance videos or Gen Z excuse me, TikTok is for dance videos and like, no one's gonna care. And I, like many people got on TikTok during quarantine where I was like, I'm bored this seems fun and then was just a consumer of content for like almost six months. Yeah, to be honest with you, I was like I'm gonna start producing financial content. I honestly don't think it's gonna work. I don't think anybody's gonna care. And then I went viral and I was like, oh, okay, they actually care a lot. And I think that this is the narrative that gets brought up with every generation and I hated it about millennials, and then I found myself thinking it with Gen Z of like, okay, they're not gonna care, like they don't give a shit about anything like adulting and then it happened and I was like, oh, okay. And then of course also realizing that like, yes, my audience is skewed younger, now that we're we've blown up on TikTok. But there's plenty of people my age, you know, in that again, like 25 to 34 or even, you know, up to 40 demographic that are on TikTok. So, I think that that was also the misconception is that, oh, it's a bunch of like, 16 year olds. Yeah and it's a bunch of 32 year olds. So, yeah, I definitely thought getting on TikTok. I was like, they're not gonna care. I'll talk about personal finance and they won't give a shit. But they did very, very, very much, though.
Jay Clouse 41:16
Was the content you're putting on TikTok in the beginning, the same thing you're doing on Instagram? And if so, what was that? And if not, what was different?
Tori Dunlap (herfirst100k) 41:22
No, we got to the point where we realized, you know, after Instagram started promoting reels that, you know, it was advantageous of us to work smarter, not harder, and just take our TikTok, rip them and put them up on reels. And that's done really well for us in terms of increasing our Instagram audience. In terms of the types of content, I mean, my big business ethos is start before you sell. And I think it's really important for us to provide value before we ever try to get somebody's money, somebody's follow, somebody's email, you have to prove to somebody why their time energy that they're going to devote to you is valuable, right? And you prove that by providing value, you prove that by serving before you sell. That doesn't mean you're doing compensated work, doesn't mean you're doing compensated labor, it just means that you're leading with a service focus mindset, right? And I think that that's part of the reason why we did well on TikTok and we had perfected that over on Instagram, we had perfected that type of content but we were not doing videos on Instagram. TikTok was a whole another beast and I had to learn how to edit on TikTok, I still actually, it's kind of archaic, but I still edit my videos actually in TikTok itself. So I think that yeah, the themes of the content were very similar. It was a different format, which was yeah, video or trend heavy. And that's the other part about TikTok that we could spend like two hours talking about is, it's a whole another beast compared to any other platform. To see any traction on TikTok, you need to be posting at least three tiktoks a day. That consistency that schedule is wild. It's unsustainable. It's absolutely crazy. And it's something that yeah, I have a lot of thoughts on but that was very different time commitment. Yeah, just very different format of content than we had created before.
Jay Clouse 43:16
You're saying we and us when you're talking about Instagram in like 2020, pre TikTok growth. Was there more than one of you on the team?
Tori Dunlap (herfirst100k) 43:26
Yeah, I made a really intentional decision even when I was running Her First 100K as a side hustle when we started 2019 to hire somebody. I could only afford to hire somebody for five hours a week. But they were there to help me write blogs and to help answer emails and to help engage in Instagram. And that's a huge tip for entrepreneurs. If you can afford somebody, again, even if it's just for a couple hours a week. That is a very, very, very smart decision. You don't earn brownie points by doing it all yourself. I think you're a smart business owner, when you outsource. You're not a smart business owner if you burn out. And if you decide I have to do it myself because my ego is a business owner. I've gone through that, I just hired a COO a couple weeks ago and I had like a full reckoning with myself of like, okay, why do you feel like you would be less of a business owner to stop doing operations and hand that to somebody else? Okay, it's because you watch creative people not be able to run a business and you're really excited and proud of yourself that you can also be creative and make money. That's great for but you need to hire somebody. Like your ego is not helping the business and actually, it's making it worse. So yeah, I mean, even again, when it was just a couple hours a week, and that's all I could afford. That was super helpful when I was trying to work a nine to five and also running the business. And I also just say we because as cheesy as it sounds like Her First 100K has been bigger than me the entire time. Like it's been it's been much larger than just me as an individual. It feels very much like a weight and it pretty much always have.
Jay Clouse 45:01
You mentioned three TikToks a day is the pace that you're talking about.
Tori Dunlap (herfirst100k) 45:05
Jay Clouse 45:06
I'll actually resist the urge to dig into that. But what I really want to know is you sit down, you're saying, okay, we got to create new content for TikTok, and maybe Instagram. What's this the framework of how you figure out like, what you're going to share? And do you batch it at all?
Tori Dunlap (herfirst100k) 45:19
Definitely batch it. That's where my social media marketer days is you batch every single piece of content you can, I literally, it's gonna be funny, but literally about content when I've done makeup. So today is a batch day because I came on this podcast and did make up for it. And so now I'm gonna, I'm gonna film content, because I don't love putting makeup on. I don't love putting a whole face of makeup on. And so typically, it's like, okay, if I'm doing an interview, or I'm doing some sort of press, alright, this is my batch day, because I look pretty. So yeah, I think that is just literally what it's come to, especially in quarantine.
Jay Clouse 45:54
So do you have like outlines ready to start recording that you've already like, prepped, here's what I'm gonna do?
Tori Dunlap (herfirst100k) 45:58
A lot of it is literally just what questions are people asking. So what are they commenting? Whatever they either some people are like making videos that then ask us questions. So like, again, if we're serving before we sell, we already know the types of content people want to see because they're asking us so that's huge. I typically have some sort of video ideas, I also will just typically get on and just I know, because I'm so tapped into the audience like what they need or what they're asking for. I also gotten to the point where I can almost predict a video that will go viral before I post it. So I almost know what like I posted one last week that went viral, and I had a really good feel I was like this will probably go viral. So I can't produce those videos every time. I know that there's a lot of filler content that ends up coming out on TikTok, just to like placate the algorithm. But I also know I'm pretty tapped in and I know which videos will do well. And they're typically very value driven, like scripts, or things that somebody can walk away with where they know exactly that value piece. So yeah, the video that went viral last week was me talking about how to answer the what are your salary expectations question in a job interview? And gave literally like a scripted answer. And that I think, at the time of this recording has 1.2 million views. And most of those came in the first like 24 hours. So yeah, I pretty tapped into the point where I can almost guarantee if yeah, if I produce this kind of video, with this kind of messaging, it will go viral.
Jay Clouse 47:35
What role does press play in your story? Because some people tell me like, press is huge. Some people say like, press was a total bust for me. And you've gotten a lot of press so talk to me about that.
Tori Dunlap (herfirst100k) 47:44
I think a lot of well, this is my question back to you. A lot of the people who say press was a bust? Are they selling a physical product?
Jay Clouse 47:52
Um, no, actually, people who sell physical products seem to get more out of press.
Tori Dunlap (herfirst100k) 47:56
Jay Clouse 47:56
People who are like just trying to drive traffic and like, yeah, I went on this TV show and nothing.
Tori Dunlap (herfirst100k) 48:01
That's really interesting because I've found, if you're going on press to try to sell, it's not going to work. Like if you're there to sell, I don't know a candle, I found that that's not really going to work very well or at least you have to have a pretty big press fit for it to work. I think press for me has been big in terms of just credibility, right? And just in terms of showcasing that my advice and our community is credible. Yeah, I think that that's, that's been the most important piece of press for us. It's also typically like a six month lifespan, like let's say somebody found me from Good Morning America, and they follow me, they're probably going to be consuming my content for at least three months, probably six, before they buy anything from us or before they actually, like take one of our recommendations. And I think, especially with financial media, somebody is people especially women are just so worried of making a mistake or so worried that they're going to fuck it up somehow that they need to research and they need to really like trust the person that's giving them that advice so we kind of expect that. Typically we do get like an influx of traffic or an influx of followers but in terms of like actual ROI that might take a while and we're okay with that. We're again, we're building trust, we're building credibility, we're serving, we're proving to you the consumer while your hard earned money is safe with us or your email is safe with us or your follow is you know, is going to going to be okay or good for you. So I think that that's something that we're planning for constantly. The other thing about presses we just, we take it and we milk it for all it's worth. For on Good Morning America, I'm putting the GMA logo every again tattooed on my forehead like it's tattooed on my forehead, right? It is in my podcast press kit. It's on our website, it's on our Instagram bio, it's everywhere we can possibly put it, right, because that is a huge signal of credibility. And so for me press, the primary goal of press is not traffic, it's not sales, it's not conversions. It is getting in front of more eyes at the top of the funnel and also another like notch in the lipstick case of credibility.
Jay Clouse 50:20
I heard you on The FI Show talking about pre GMA, you had like 8000 followers. And then at the time of that interview, which is like in 2020, at some point, you had something like 2 million. Well, was that more like correlation and causation? Are you saying that presses more credibility and the content you made on TikTok and Instagram has been really the driver of growth?
Tori Dunlap (herfirst100k) 50:42
Yeah, they all interweave. When I say it's 100% TikTok, it is. It's 100% TikTok driving that traffic, literally, I mean, this will blow your mind and you'll appreciate this. We had a video go viral earlier this year that now is our most viral video. It has 6 million views. At the time, I think it had a couple million in a week, we got 100,000 email subscribers just from that video.
Jay Clouse 51:05
Crazy. And you're putting a CTA in that video, like go to the link of my bio?
Tori Dunlap (herfirst100k) 51:09
Yep. Go to link my bio for our free quiz. Remember I was talking about Jenna Kutcher's quiz. It's almost like I made a note four years ago. So yeah, like that was in crazy. But again, this looks like overnight success, right? But the GMA interview I did two years previously, is a way for me to showcase that I am worth your follow. I'm worth your email, right? So plenty of my TikTok content is literally me green screen in front of a press hit being like, hey, I was featured entrepreneur today. This is so cool, right? Because then even if it's a little tiny, but I've planted the seed in their brain of like, oh, this person was highlighted in this place that I trust. Cool. I'll give them my email eventually. It might not be today, but it might be in two weeks, or it might be in two months, right? So all of these things relate together. And again, I'm doing press, not necessarily for conversions, right, I'm doing press so that I can use that press hit for like years and years and years as a way to showcase that I'm credible and I'm worth your time and energy.
Jay Clouse 52:13
And what makes a compelling pitch to a press outlet that you should come on the show or you should share your message?
Tori Dunlap (herfirst100k) 52:19
I love this question. I actually have a media pitch template guide that I sell on my website for pitching podcasts, pitching media. The key actually is Twitter. I slide into reporters DMs on Twitter. They get millions of emails all the time and they don't read them. But they read their DMs because a way less people are in their DMS and it's also directly to them. So I have gotten I get more press hits of them like reaching out to me now but especially in the early days. Yeah, I got GMA because I was on the cut, which is New York Magazine. And I got New York Magazine because I slid in the reporter's DMs. So it was like a domino effect. But like really I got GMA by pitching the cut. So yeah, same thing. New York Times gotten the New York Times by sliding into reporter's DMs. Got CNBC multiple times sliding reporter's DMs. And always think again, right back to our advice of like, if you are a reporter, what kind of email or what kind of message do you want to read? It is not one and you can't see me but like with the lot like a text that says the length of your body, right? You don't want to read that.
Jay Clouse 53:26
Have a CVS receipt.
Tori Dunlap (herfirst100k) 53:27
No and also it's so tempting. I did this in the early days, I want to tell you a part of my story. I want to tell you, I was born in 1994 in Tacoma, Washington, and I have parents who were really committed to educating me about personal finance. And then I started my first business at age nine and I am 15 then, right? Like, I can tell you that story when you interview me. That's what the interview is for. I'm not trying to give you the interview in the DM, I'm just trying to get the interview. So don't give the interviewer in the DM. Tell them why they should talk to you and why your story is valuable to them. Because that's what reporters are doing. They're constantly like, oh my god, I have this deadline and I don't know who I'm going to talk to him. I don't know what pieces are gonna go, right? I have no idea and I just need to talk to somebody. You are the answer to their prayers, you've slid into their DMs and given them the story that will hopefully do really well for them. And you're like I would be honored if you would tell my story that will most likely work for you. And sometimes it doesn't and that's okay. It just might mean it works in six months with the same person or it might mean you reach out to a different person but yeah, slide in to reporter's DMs on Twitter. Don't be obnoxious. Be super polite, be super to the point, and it'll work great for you.
Jay Clouse 54:35
My last question, you know, you said in 2020 when you started on TikTok, you felt like you might be too late then people listening to this probably feel the same way now. One, do you think that's true? And two if not, how would you encourage people to get started on TikTok?
Tori Dunlap (herfirst100k) 54:49
Perfect example that you're not too late. I'm trying to remember her last name, but she's blown up on TikTok. Her name's Erika. She's like a lawyer who's creating financial content. I think she maybe has 20 videos. And she has 3.4 million followers, like I have done in terms of legwork so much more legwork. And she's double my amount of followers without even like blinking because her contents really useful. And it's really you can again, go on her account and see what she does. She creates super useful content with exact scripts. And then she always tells you how to follow her. Always she goes, I learned this from Erika, that's why I follow her. It's brilliant. And she got started on TikTok, I don't know, like two months ago. And so I do feel like TikTok's going the way that we knew it would, which is there's a lot of ads, the algorithm changes all the time so I don't think it's too late. I will encourage you though, to not do TikTok, one, if your audience isn't there. And two, if you can't keep up with the cadence. Just it's a commitment that you really have to think through. Yes, for me, it was utterly life changing. That's why I've continued it because it's changed my business. But I've made a deal with the TikTok devil at this point of like three to five times posting a day and that's a lot. And we're having to now restructure the business to figure out like, how do I hire somebody to support me because I'm the only one creating content right now and that's a lot in addition to running the business, in addition to doing everything else, so don't get on TikTok. Don't get on any platform unless you have the bandwidth and your audience is there. It's another reminder as well that you are building on borrowed land. TikTok could hypothetically banned me for life, they could delete my account. The TikTok could just as we saw, was it earlier this year? Or maybe it was I think was was Trump still where you know, he was like wanting to shut down TikTok, right? So TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, any of these can disappear at any time, emails and SMS are not going to disappear. So if you're going to start another platform, you are building a road land and you need to consider that that's okay. But you need to have a backup strategy. You need to be getting people's email, somehow you need to be getting people's SMS or their their numbers, you need to be contacting them in a way where you are not dependent on the algorithm subject to the algorithm, or dependent on yeah, they're the ebb and flow of one of these social platforms. So yeah, it's not too late. Just make sure that it does, does make sense for you and your business and what you're trying to do.
Jay Clouse 57:24
It's been crazy watching Tori's growth over the last couple of years. She first came on my radar from my fiance, Mallory, watching her content on Instagram. And I feel like I've had a front row seat to what seems like insane exponential growth. But what is really heartening about her story is that this growth really happened from July 2020 and onward, four years after she started her blog initially in 2016. I know it's tempting to compare your journey and your timeline to that of others. But if you're a creator today, regardless of when you started, you may just be in your slow growth phase. Slow growth isn't no growth, but slow growth almost always comes before the exponential growth that Tori has experienced. If you're there, don't worry, I'm right there with you. Be patient, keep going. Get a little bit better every day and keep your eyes open for opportunities to try something new. TikTok changed everything for Tori, what will your break look like? If you want to learn more about Tori, you can visit her website at herfirst100k.com or follow her on TikTok or Instagram @herfirst100k. Links to all of that are in the show notes. Thanks to Tori for being on the show. Thank you to Emily Clouse for making the artwork this episode. Thanks to Nathan Todhunter for mixing this show and Brian Skeel for creating our music. If you liked this episode, you can tweet @jayclouse and let me know and if you really want to say thank you, please leave a review on Apple podcasts or Spotify. Thanks for listening and I'll talk to you next week.