How to Embrace Your Weirdness & Make Money From It

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Chrissy - 00:00:00:

Why are you doing something that is already just being done no one's going to care if this thing lives or dies and how do you get people to care about a thing that's so generic but it feels like a safe choice because everyone else has done it so i've got my little rant pants on now but do something that is sacred to you that people are going to see how real it is and how passionate you are about it that if anyone else tries to duplicate it they'll look like a dickhead.

Louis - 00:00:38:

Bonjour, bonjour and welcome to another episode of, the no-fluff, actionable marketing podcast for people sick of marketing bullshit. I'm your host, Louis Grenier. In today's episode, you will learn how to win friends and market your weirdness. My guest today is political advisor turned sausage queen turned cult leader. After her last decade-long relationship ended, she went to a pottery class to learn how to make boob mugs out of all things. Cried in her car because in her mind, she would meet friends and new people. But it didn't happen because most people are turning where couples or people in groups. So that's why she started Chaotic Socialite. It's a very cool concept. She hosts classes about the weirdest of shit like creepy doll making or stand up comedy for beginners with guest experts, which is a way for people to meet friends in their adulthood. Her TikTok is worth a watch. It's Chaotic Socialite. And I just can't wait to dig into your story. Chrissy Flanagan, welcome aboard.

Chrissy - 00:01:43:

Thank you for having me. I'm very excited.

Louis - 00:01:45:

So on a scale from 1 to 10, how miserable were you as a political advisor/media advisor/communication specialist?

Chrissy - 00:01:55:

This is sort of the controversial thing. Not very miserable because it's, really cool feeling like you're in the middle of, and I'm not saying like state government in Australia is necessarily the center of the universe, but it felt like it when I was there. I started doing that as a 21 year old. My goal was to be a press secretary by the time I was 30. Did that from 21. And so I was like, Fancy, important, necessary. And so it felt like horrible, horrible, horrible hours. It didn't take me very long to realize that I was extremely replaceable and I was in fact just living in their really cool playground and I was one. I was like one of a treadmill of 20 somethings because it's a young person's job. But yeah, long story short, no, it felt sick. Like it very high burnout rates, but it was cool as shit. And then when I went into government and was an executive by the time I was 29, and I also thought that was pretty cool. And I was wearing suits and I thought I was fancy. Again, as it turns out, I hate managing people. So that's unfortunate. But It felt like worthwhile work. And that's, you know, I did 20 years doing that stuff. That would be a long time. I know people do stuff for a long time and fucking hate it, but I'm lucky that that's, I just found something I love even more.

Louis - 00:03:19:

When you say working long hours, let's be specific. So I can picture it in my mind and hate it by hearing you saying the word. But how many hours are we talking about?

Chrissy - 00:03:28:

This was when I first started as a 21-year-old. This is what my life looked like. The fax went off at 4 a.m. So I'm obviously ancient.

Louis - 00:03:38:

That's how old you are.

Chrissy - 00:03:40:

That's how old I am. The fax went off at 4am. I was barely past dial-up modems in those days. Actually, I'm not sure we were. Anyway, the fax went off and I would, between the hours of 4 and 5am, whatever was in the newspaper that related to my minister's portfolio. I had to write up what they were going to say about that because at that time, these things go through cycles, but we're very engaged. We want to be proactive in the news cycle. At that time, I was working for the minister for transport. There was transport shit in the paper every fucking day. He just, every day, got up at 5:30, read what I had written and his chief of staff had approved for him to say on the radio. He just called every radio station in Sydney and just said that shit. Then it was on the radio by six o'clock. That was how I started.

Louis - 00:04:33:

How long are we talking about here? How many hours then typically of that time?

Chrissy - 00:04:37:

Oh, yeah. Well, and so then I'd just be on the bus in the way and blah, blah, blah. And I'd be in the office from sort of 7am until 7pm as a minimum. And then depending if something was particularly blowing up that night, if there'd been kind of big train delays or like a ferry crash or something, there were lots of overnighters. Yeah.

Louis - 00:04:57:

It's not funny. It's not funny.

Chrissy - 00:04:59:

It's not funny. It's very, yeah, I'd be home, I guess, generally by sort of nine or 10.

Louis - 00:04:04:


Chrissy - 00:05:04:

But then someone, it was my job, anytime someone was hit by a train. Someone, 24 hours, someone had to call me and just tell me. I had to take that phone call. And that happened nearly every night. I would be woken up by someone calling to say, yeah, this person's thrown themselves in front of a train. And I just had to go, okay. And then text my chief of staff, oh, fatality in this place probably won't affect the morning peak or these are particular circumstances around it. But it was just important that I know. So yeah, that's what I did for a few years.

Louis - 00:05:42:

Did you get diagnosed with PTSD after this?

Chrissy - 00:05:45:

No, I think childhood. PTSD say yes from this snore. Yeah.

Louis - 00:05:52:

Oh my God. Okay. So 20 years of this or as you matured, you work less?

Chrissy - 00:05:59:

Yeah. Basically, you do these horrible, horrible hour jobs when you're young. And then that kind of propels you further up into the public service. So you get to skip 10, 20 years in what you'd otherwise have to do in career growth because it proves that you're so hardcore. And it's obviously amazing for networking and that sort of thing. Then I think by 27, I was engaged and buying a house. And I just thought I need like in Philly burnt out. I was like, oh, I've got to settle down and be an adult now. Get 27. I've done this crazy stuff for too long, six years. And then went into the bureaucracy and then, yeah, then was promoted to the executive on one of the government organizations by 29.

Louis - 00:06:47:

Tell me about that moment. In that pottery class. That you attended. So that's after your political career, that's after you had founded a company restaurant to just summarize things. And when did the light bulb happen about hold on a fucking second. That could be interesting. Tell me more about that.

Chrissy - 00:07:11:

Yeah. So I'd been playing with more interactive because something I had really become known for were my unhinged debauched sausage classes and, Literally sausage classes, just so everyone's super clear. I was at that time known as the sausage queen of Sydney. I just don't want any ambiguity. No, no shame. No, we're like, anyway, and so I... Having looked at, just to do like a little recap that is necessary, I had had my life business partner, been my life partner for the last 10 years and my business partner for the seven years as well in the last seven years. And I had split up a year ago. It was the breakup anniversary this week. And so when that happened and it was clear we weren't going to be business partners anymore, I was like, okay, what I'm looking at all the different parts of the businesses that we had then. And we had a restaurant, beer manufacturing, a record label, sausage making classes. So I was like, here's all the stuff. What's just shitting it in? What am I doing in my sleep that people just want without me pushing it? Too hard, what sells itself? What sells its tits off? What has a good margin? For me, that was the sausage classes. Well, it also, well, so it's what just works, what has a good margin, but also what is something that I can do that no one can fucking touch me on.

Louis - 00:08:34:

This is so good. All right, so let's dive into this because you naturally talk about this. Obviously in hindsight, it's obvious, but let's backtrack a bit because I don't want to put the knife in even more, but at That must have been a tough personal situation, emotionally and everything. It must have been quite a difficult time. So what made you ask this question, which is a very important question, which is very powerful? What is the thing that could say very well that I have an advantage in or something that no one can touch me on? Where did you learn that to look for that?

Chrissy - 00:09:07:

That's been a really strong theme through my life and development because I was, I'm sure it's very hard to imagine, but quite an unusual child that didn't necessarily go down that well. Not everyone's into rugged individuals in childhood. So I had a lot of invalidation through that, but just nothing could shake me from just wanting to be authentically myself. So I feel that's been really hard one that I hold to that. But it also means that in wanting to be completely authentic and realizing that people responded to me better when I was in fact completely myself rather than being a watered down version. It'd be like be full weird rather than like a bit, like a shitty weird, you know, be like full weird, just go there. So that I'm always thinking and have always sort of been thinking about, okay, then what is that? Because if this is this thing that's incredibly important to me, then you have to at least be able to put your finger on, on what that is. And I think I naturally come from a position of marketing things. I've never been a marketer per se, but it is just my sort of default skill set. Because I'm always putting a lens over of what's the special thing? What's the unassailable thing? Because it's like people are opening cafes all the time. It's like, oh, my God, concrete floors. Do you have some flower pots? Like all the same fucking shit. It just kills me. How much people are... So conservative in their ideas, why are you doing something that is already just being done? No one's going to care if this thing lives or dies. And how do you get people to care about a thing that's so generic, but it feels like a safe choice because everyone else has done it. So I've got my little rant pants on now, but do something that is sacred to you, that people are going to see how real it is and how passionate you are about it. That if anyone else tries to duplicate it, they'll look like a dickhead. Because that's, yeah, that's a strong position.

Louis - 00:11:22:

Okay, so let's backtrack. There's so many questions. So... You have this kind of question in the back of your mind consistently. I'm not just saying that. It's exactly the same for me. That's my number one thing. I fucking love to spot, you know, the things that others don't see. I love to spot those little angles that make people tick. Throughout my high school, I was called by one of my teachers an intellectual terrorist because I was always trying to find angles that was like pissing him off and all of that. Very similarly in my childhood as well, your parents did not necessarily understand and knew how to handle that weird part of me where I was constantly trying to find the contrarian viewpoints to piss them off. Anyway, so it really, really talks to me. But that's something that almost comes, not almost, it comes naturally to you. It's obvious to you, but it's not obvious to others, clearly, because again, so many people open yet another coffee shop. So. At that point, let's go back to that moment in time, like struggles really, like where, you know, it wasn't super nice for you. But you still had this question in your mind. So did you literally sit down? Your office or whatever, or in a cafe, and literally wrote down, okay, those are all the things that I have in front of me. What is the thing I need to double down on? Or was it more of a continuous search?

Chrissy - 00:12:41:

I'm pretty obsessive by nature, obviously. Really? So I know that's very surprising. I mean, you can partially kind of attribute to the autism and the ADHD because there's a lot of obsessiveness and like impulse, focus, strong focus that comes through those things. But it feels like it's even beyond that from talking to other people with those sort of situations. But once I love, like I love business because it's just the most challenging thing. I've had challenging jobs and they've been hard, but nothing is hard like business is hard. Creating something from absolutely nothing, making people give a shit about it. Yeah, so I'm always brewing that, yeah, as soon as I knew that I wasn't going to be staying in the business model that I had, I started reflecting on, yeah, what had and hadn't worked. And also what, yeah, was the bit that was really, really me in what we were doing collectively. I'm not like really a food person. So yeah, I mean, that was sort of something that I had become more interested in through my partner. He was the chef in the restaurant. So I knew I didn't want to have a restaurant without him. I just knew I wouldn't touch that, even though I loved. So I was the host maitre d', if you will. And that's probably the happiest I've... Ever been doing a job. I just love so much looking after people and anticipating their needs. Yeah, so I'm still really sad about that. But I knew that that wasn't something that I was going to pursue on my own. So I went, okay, where are the other bits that I love? And that, yeah, I'm, the people have a really unique experience.

Louis - 00:14:30:

Did you literally sit down or was it just in back of your mind, like you were just thinking of that question for months until you knew, okay, this is it? Was it a short time of thinking or? Was it a-

Chrissy - 00:14:44:

From a kind of a financial business sort of perspective, I was already conscious that the sausage making classes were the best margin. And having the first business that we had was sausage manufacturing and then that just like we, you know, struggled to make that work financially because we're making a good quality product. I don't know what sausages are like where you are, but they're shitty here. So people don't want to pay trash and get a good sausage. It doesn't work. And then having more recently been really focused on our beer business, that was most of sort of last year for me, and trying to grow that, scale it, get our non-alcoholic beer into Woolworths. I had just kind of got jack of physical product. So I was like, fuck product. I never want to have a physical product again, so there's that. I know that I don't really like managing people. So it has to be something where the main product is actually just me. And then that whole something that I know no one can do better than me and something that sells itself. So when I put those lenses over it, it was just really obvious that that was the sausage classes. But then I was like, I don't think I can have a full-time sausage class business. That feels very specific. So I was then for a couple of months after that really kicking around a few ideas of, well, what does something that has that structure where I would need a consistent sort of premises, where I could market it cohesively, where those classes fit, but they're not the only sort of thing. So I just kind of turned that over, talked to a lot of people. And, you know, people say, don't tell anyone about your ideas. They'll steal them, whatever. I just find you just have to because that's how you figure shit out. And I took that further than just having personal conversations. I was having these conversations on TikTok and I've had indispensable feedback from my community on TikTok. They've saved me from making lots of stupid fucking mistakes. Yeah. But even from my thinking about it, the offering has evolved significantly from when it opened five months ago. So all the talk and all the feedback and all the surveys in the world don't tell you how people are actually going to behave when there's something that they can book into.

Louis - 00:17:06:

It was clear that the sausage making class. This is where the most interesting to you, something that you were literally the only one that could do this that way. There was good margins out of it and whatever. So you knew there was something there. And then was the little story about you going to this event, expecting to meet people. Is it real or is it more like political advisor writing a good story because she knows that people connect with personal stories?

Chrissy - 00:17:32:

No, no. That story is completely real. Completely real. That happened in early. January of this year. By that stage, the restaurant was already closed. I think I'd come up with the name Chaotic Social by then. I knew I wanted to be some kind of events, classes, people meeting people. I was already three months out of the relationship then already very lonely, very lonely, feeling very isolated and devastated through the loss of the community that I'd had through the restaurant. So I'd started narrowing down. It's Sydney's a cold place. It's got to be like that there's something to people meeting people and knowing that I want to do some kind of class event, something. But I hadn't figured out... Many more details than that. And then, yeah, going to this class. So my friend had booked in. Then she was sick at the last minute. So I've had a lot of social anxiety. Yeah. In my past, I come across as very, very outgoing. I have like a horror of approaching people. That's actually my worst nightmare is a networking event. I've kind of coached myself into getting better at in the last few months. But yeah, that's actually something I'm horrible about. So I knew it was terrifying going into this thing being alone because also I've been to craft classes before and I know that if people, if it's not their job to talk to you, they just won't like they just see you as not their problem so I wasn't premeditated going in like oh yeah I'm gonna prove how good my idea is and how shitty normal craft classes are I just was sort of in the car beforehand psyching myself up to and that video is still on TikTok of me going like I'm going to this thing. I'm terrified, but I'm just going to be friendly, but I won't force myself in it. So I was like, okay, this is how I'm going to approach it. And then the people I was on the table with, it was really clear that I didn't have anyone and that they had come with, I think there was four of them. And yeah, they were just perfectly happy for me to cool my jets completely fucking alone for three hours. So it was... Yeah, people just don't see it as their issue to just, they're like, well, I came to hang out with my friends, so you're not my problem. And yeah, it was a super... Super upsetting experience.

Louis - 00:20:07:

Sorry to make you dive into this.

Chrissy - 00:20:09:


Louis - 00:20:10:

I think the silver lining here, and I want to tell you that directly, is that It's incredible that you're willing to share that story like that, transparently, honestly, because you know that, but I'm going to repeat it. You have no idea how many people you're helping right now, listening to that story of yours, to be willing to admit all of those stuff, to share that story, all of the struggles, but yet those incredible marketing insights that you just started to share as well, which I'm taking notes about and I will come back to. But I really appreciate you doing this because, again, it's rare to have people willing to accept and describe all of those things very well like you're doing. Thank you for that. It's very inspiring to me as well. So, you went to that event. It was as shitty as you expected. Even worse.

Chrissy - 00:20:55:

Shittier, yeah.

Louis - 00:20:56:

Shittier. So... When did this Chaotic Social life, Chaotic Social, when did the first idea of it became clear to you after that?

Chrissy - 00:21:07:

I think I had the name by then, but I really didn't know what it was going to consist of. But after that, It's not like all the actual products fell into place in terms of I'm going to offer this kind of class, I'm going to have that sort of event. But a lot of the philosophy did, such that I, on the back of that, sort of rode up. What I was going to have as a blurb in my, when people booked into anything, which I'm pretty sure I still have to this day, which is basically like, Did you come with your friends? Cool, I don't care about that. You're going to talk to everyone and you're going to like it. And if you don't want to be friendly, don't fucking come. It's not for you. Like, I'm not having... There's no, well, this is my friend and I'm just here to hang out with my friend. Absolutely not. You're here. This is part of community. You're going to talk to everyone. You're going to enjoy it. There are going to be games. You're going to wear a name tag. I don't want to hear it.

Louis - 00:22:10:

You had this kind of overarching, whatever you want to call it. You call it philosophy, could be fucking mission, vision, whatever the fuck. But basically you had this kind of, the ability to summarize that concept in a sentence, in a blurb, something that felt cohesive. And something that felt like, okay, I could definitely do that, right? Now, before we dive in more, you mentioned, that through TikTok, you kind of transparently talked about all of those things and those problems that you're trying to solve, right? Through that idea. And you said you made... You could have made a lot of mistakes that you didn't make thanks to feedback and stuff. So for example, if you had to remember, what was the number one, the biggest mistake that you've avoided thanks to people's comments or whatever, like replying to your video? Was this the main way?

Chrissy - 00:22:57:

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I'm highly engaged in my comments section. And if I have a specifically knotty problem, I will also go live and actually just back and forth. Debate it because I have... A few hundred people who anytime, 24 hours, I want to talk about something will just like show up and shoot the shit with me. Whether like I've got a dating pickle or I'm trying to figure out a brand color or looking at different logos, there are people who are invested enough in all aspects of my life to be happy to discuss that. All of them.

Louis - 00:23:35:

All of them. So you're doing live, interact with people directly through comments and stuff like that. So what was the number one mistake you managed to avoid, you think?

Chrissy - 00:23:44:

Well, I'm trying to think of what I managed to avoid. Because I think probably something that I got some advice about and then I actually just dismissed and cracked through with it was at launch. Because I was like, okay, it's not for everyone, right? It's everyone is welcome, but you can't, specifically include everyone. And so quite a few people had told me, oh, so the entire interior of the place is painted orange. And some people had told me that that was too overwhelming for them and they wouldn't be coming. And I was like, and that's fine. Because basically, I mean, a lot of it is I have a very large neurodiverse market that comes, but there are sensory seekers and sensory avoidance. And the sensory avoidance, I understand they can't come because an Orange Room is just very overwhelming. But the good news is that nearly every other room in the fucking world is white. So. You can go to those places. But there aren't many environments that are actually catering to the sensory seekers like myself. Although, yeah, and I don't regret that at all. I'd probably been, I don't know if I was too dismissive of that. So yeah, I guess that's something I was like, okay, I'm just going to make a call on that. And I still think that's the right call because not everything can be for everyone. And I don't think that means that you don't make something that is specifically for a group of people. But some good advice that I actually dismissed was that I had at launch quite a few sort of vagina themed craft classes as a way of specifically including AFAB people. And I also just thought, well, everyone likes vaginas. Like you don't have to have a vagina or identify with your vagina if you have your vagina to be supportive of vaginas, like up with vaginas. Do you know? No. Like no vaginas, number one. But as it turns out, yeah. And a few people had sort of said, I'm non-binary and that just makes me feel a bit uncomfortable. And I was like, you don't like vaginas. Like, you don't like, like, you don't like, but they're like, no. I was like, oh, okay. And then later on, a few more people have said that just made them feel excluded. And I'm definitely not, I don't want to exclude people. Yes. I think I'd sort of thought of it from a different perspective. I think I'd sort of thought of it from a different perspective. I think I'd sort of thought of it from a position of like, well, men can suck my dick, you know, like they can come, if they're going to come, you're going to make a vagina earring and you're going to love that. And those are the men that we want there, like men who are, you know, supportive of vagina crafts. And yeah, but I sort of hadn't thought through vaginas. More of the nuance and yeah. And that being sometimes vulnerable population, not something that I was looking to it and flicked on people.

Louis - 00:26:38:

Okay, so this is interesting because there is a nuance here that is very, very important, I think, to pay attention to. The nuance between knowing that you're not for everyone and having that confidence to say so, to exclude the wrong people, or at least the people who are not in the right mindset right now. Or to make them behave in a different way. Right? Just positive to say, when we say when people like you like we know their stuff about marketing, even though they're not market to say, excluding people, it's actually almost never means excluding people, their entire identity, it's more like, making them behave or putting them in the frame, the mindset that they need to be put into to enjoy that thing, whatever that is, right? I don't know if you agree, but most of the time that's what happens. You're like basically pre-requiring them to behave a certain way. Now, obviously for your type of event, I can pretty much guess the type of people you really don't want to and they untie yourself in there. I agree. But still, I think there is a difference. So anyway, going back to you, You were the difference between Going for that orange color, Not caring about that. But then going for that vagina-themed classes and caring about that. Like making changes. So you slightly mentioned that, but how do you see the difference between the two? How do you advise people listening right now? You know, when is it time to listen? When is it time to go with your gut and exclude more people?

Chrissy - 00:28:05:

Just as a precursor, it's worth noting there's a difference between excluding and just not making it for people. For instance, men. Used to having things built just for them as a default. That's like extremely well documented. Just take any medical trials where they're trialed on, men as a standard group and then like have like a weird side effect for men. Well, we didn't test for that because they're other, you know. So it's like historically we have just centered the experience of men. I think it's very hard to argue with that. So to then have a space that just isn't centering as one demographic, men can be considered exclusionary, but it's not that it's, they're literally not being excluded. And I have lots of men who do come and who love it and feel very comfortable. It's just not centered around them. And they're not the only demographic it's not centered around. But I think that's sort of one that comes up, you know. But it's not like about women, only for women, like a women's club. It's just, yeah, it's got a slightly different sort of vibe.

Louis - 00:29:23:

Is the difference then between the Orange Room and the vagina theme between... You felt like with the vagina theme, you were excluding people more than you were... Not catering for their needs, right? Versus the room orange, which is more like the other way around.

Chrissy - 00:29:40:

I think it was more... No one, this is quite the sentence, no one needs vagina earrings. Do you know, whereas I feel like there are people who need orange rooms? Yeah, and... The Orange Room is sort of something no one else... Is going to do probably because of, yeah, there are people who object to it and it doesn't make sense for their brand and their identity and their demographic. So if it's going to exist, it's going to be done by me. And I feel it's important that that exists. Thing about vagina earrings is like you can go to any earring class and make vagina earrings if you want to like if you want to do that enough you can do that without that kind of impinging like affecting other people's sort of experience and yeah like I didn't invent that vagina earrings existed before and will exist after me so that's like i guess the orange was kind of closer to the core of the brand value than the vagina earrings

Louis - 00:30:51:

So it was distinctive to you?

Chrissy - 00:30:55:

Yes. So the thing about the space, because the space is very, I mean, obviously literally the ceiling's orange, it's not just the walls, very immersive and you just can't mistake where you are. And I partially did that from like a visual brand perspective reason because when people took photos in the venue, I don't need them to tag me. Anyone who's ever heard of Chaotic Social knows where they are, whether they say where they are or not. So having one strong, unapologetic distinctive brand color does that just in like a technical social media marketing way. However, it's also just a feeling when you come into the room. It just tells you a lot already about who you're going to be and who else is there and that there's something about it being so over the top. That it actually ends up feeling safe. It's like everyone's in this weird place with this unhinged woman in this strange Orange Room and then there's kind of solidarity. Between them because they found themselves in this extremely orange wonderland and it just takes you out of yourself and you leave kind of all your mask and armor and Yeah, at the door.

Louis - 00:32:21:

So it's basically the intersection of a distinctive thing that you can own that is unique to you and a need that is there that actually serves a purpose. It's not just orange flow. The sake of it is, as you said, sensory seeking people. And also it gives you a vibe. It puts you in the frame. While the other, which the vagina earrings are not distinctive to you, as you said, others can learn that others, you can buy them whenever. And there wasn't really, you thought there was a need that was solved through that. Maybe like sending a statement about the fact that it's not just for men or whatever, but you were excluding people would be a good feature doing that. So I've actually drew. Let me show you what I do when we talk. I need to write. I need to draw when I talk. I drew this. It's not a vagina. It's a graph.

Chrissy - 00:33:13:

It's not a vagina.

Louis - 00:33:15:

Distinctive and need and the orange part is you right right yeah so how did you learn that where did you learn that specific thing which is like okay i need to own a specific thing when people take fucking pictures of this you know they'll put all over social media how did you make that part of, okay, I need to do this.

Chrissy - 00:33:36:

Probably that was honed in having the restaurant because people took a lot of photos in the restaurant, don't necessarily tag it, but people still send me screenshots of people in the The Sausage Factory, which is the name of the restaurant, when they come across them on dating profiles. Lots of people have photos because in the end, I'm a lifelong knitter and I realized that I needed every surface that was going to be visible. I didn't want to put logos all over it. That would be kind of off-brand and naff, but I needed to be winking at what the place was if it was going to be in photos. And not just for the photos other people took there, but also because I created a lot of content there and I also wanted to be subtly promoting The Sausage Factory even when I wasn't talking about The Sausage Factory. So, yes, I ended up knitting an entire ceiling of sausages. The entire window display was of knitted, hangs of knitted sausages. And so, yeah, I realized the potential for... Quiet, charming, distinctive visual aids for communicating, feeling and place and traction on social media. I mean, I tried very hard to create visual moments where people would want to take photos of themselves in front of those things to put them on social media. So out the front, because our beer brand was Sausage Queen and I had a huge pink sausage crown, like it's a crown made out of sausages and people would stand underneath it like so that the crown looked like it was sitting on them because I knew that would be good marketing, you know, and it's other than the cost of the actually quite expensive sign, free. And it just works the entire time you're there. It's like it's doing your work for you when you're not. And so people have tagged me in photos of like drag queens having gone down that street, famous drag queens and having seen the sign and taken a photo with the sign. So. I think I'd had to work so hard though and spent quite a lot of money on creating those different things in The Sausage Factory to get that result that when I was building Chaotic Social, I was like, Color is underrated, just like one color that communicates the feeling that is... Bold and yeah undeniable because then you just like you've got the whole thing done do you know and yes I've added then I'm building on top of that I've got like a wall of stuffed toys in a horrifying creepy display and I sewed a glove for a giant orange hand chair like you know stuff like so there's additional things as well but I'm coming from a place of just having put orange fucking everywhere I'm started without spending already many tens of thousands of dollars to create an unbroken visual identity.

Louis - 00:36:38:

A lot to unpack. I want just to repeat a few things that you said, because it's all extremely interesting. From childhood, really, you had this obsession about figuring out what people notice or what are the things that everyone else is doing that they shouldn't be doing or how could I do things differently? Anyway, you seem to have this intuition or this feeling that you're not like the others and you cultivated it instead of trying to fucking repress it. You were working your tits off as a political advisor for 20 years. You don't regret it. You learned a lot, but you also learned to be fully weird instead of just a bit shitty weird, as you said. And you made this kind of inventory of all the things that you could be doing after that restaurant stopped. But you don't want to do food. You knew you love the hostess part of the job. You also knew that making sausage, helping others make sausage through the class was definitely the thing that seemed to tick all the boxes in terms of margin, how much you enjoy them, how much you can be different and distinctive. And. After a failed poetry class experiment, you kind of had this core. Yeah. Idea or like crystallize the idea that you had of creating Chaotic Social. With a very simple blurb that kind of encapsulates the philosophy. Not exactly this one, but you said like, it's not for you if you want to talk to your friends type thing. Like I think it's a tagline or whatever. A very good summary of it. And I'm going to stop here and ask you a very leading question. But do you feel that if you're not able to summarize or encapsulate the essence of an idea of a business in such a simple sentence. You don't have a business yet. Or at least it's not clear enough.

Chrissy - 00:38:15:

I've thought about that a lot because I've already gone through, even post-launch, two different things. Catchphrases, if you will, and taglines for Chaotic Social. Of course, I thought that people were going to be embarrassed, just in my particular example, I thought people were going to be embarrassed about wanting to make friends. I knew that that was the core offering. I knew that the classes and the events were just kind of, surface level product but the actual opportunity was in meeting people and making friends but I thought that we were all going to need to pretend that they just actually happened to want to be there to learn to crochet or whatever and then secretly you get to make friends and then as I did more surveys and people actually I saw what classes people actually came to the classes that I thought were going to bomb but I just really wanted to give a chance like speed mating which for context in Australia a mate is a friend just yep again for clarity I thought people were going to be too embarrassed to come to say like oh I want to do I want to make I'll like to be prepared to say I want to make friends I'm going to come to an event that is exclusively about making friends and that's been one of the most popular things I've done and so after a couple of months I went I've got this fucking wrong so my initial tagline was after school care for adults which is basically you know it's like fun shit we're going to do some crafts there'll be people there but like you know it's about the fun crafts variety and just in the last month I've gone to do stuff meet people Because the meeting people is the core and apparently we don't need to pretend like people realize enough that it's a safe enough space for, to say that they want to make friends and that they are there to make friends. And I see every night someone saying, do you want to be friends? Like saying an adult, an adult saying to another adult, do you want to be friends? Let's exchange contact details. And when, when does that happen? We're all walking around pretending that we're so busy and we don't need anyone. And you know, So sometimes you have to start to actually figure the thing out. So I would say, no, you don't actually need to be able to. I think you need to really understand what the value is. But I don't know that you necessarily need the perfect words. If you can survive long enough, though, and not lose your audience before you figure out the perfect words, which are a really big risk. And I would also sort of note I only kind of got that grace. Because I had an existing audience through The Sausage Factory and through TikTok. And I would not be in the position I'm in with Chaotic Social now had I not had those two things beforehand. I've been in the black the whole time, which is unexpected from a standing start really with a business, but it's that existing kind of audience and just the audience's trust that whatever I'm doing, whether they understand it or not, they just trust me and they'll just come for that. And that's what made The Sausage Factory work as well for the last sort of six months. Every night, I'd say about half the people who were there were like, oh, I don't necessarily even like beer or sausages, but I follow you on TikTok and I just wanted to see what's important to you. I wanted to meet you. So then the rest of all the time since then has been me just trying to get closer to, well, what's the most important thing that I can do? And I've been doing that for something that my audience actually wants as a product that where they're not doing it for me, where they're doing it for them. What is something they want? Like better marrying up my demographic. And I don't get to choose my demographic. The people who care about me, care about me, but I get to choose what product I'm offering them. But I'm going to be more successful. The better that that is like a natural fit with who those people are.

Louis - 00:42:26:

So, yeah, I didn't mean to say... Unless you have perfect wording of fucked, But very much like what you're saying, like the value behind it, like the essence of it. If you're not able to summarize it, at least in your head, then it's trouble. That's what I was implying. But I like the fact that my leading question led to not at all the answer I was expecting, which is great. But it went all the way from like, you know, you are now able, like five months in only, but you have a lot of experience. You're now able to summarize your entire business in four simple words, right? Like do stuff, meet people, right? And that's powerful. When I started a podcast, the brand like seven, eight years ago. I remember that was, I had a very long introduction about the podcast and who it was for. Initially, it was for tech marketers. And then I realized exactly as you said, people following me are not tech marketers. So now it's like, very simple, like the no fluff, actionable marketing podcast, people sick of marketing bullshit, like marketing bullshit, people sick of marketing bullshit. I simplify it, simplify, simplify. So I completely connect with what you said. You profitable with that business as of today?

Chrissy - 00:43:35:

Yeah, yep. I've been profitable the whole time.

Louis - 00:43:37:

So what's the model then? Just if you go, is it as simple as people pay for the class and you also pay the instructor or the expert comes in or maybe not? And you make more than the cost of everything else?

Chrissy - 00:43:52:

Yeah. And I think I'm not the best financial manager in the world. So I knew I wanted a simple model. So, yeah, I was just bare bones. What is like a cheap... Space and I spent a lot of time choosing the space realizing I wanted to be near a pub because I didn't want to do food and I didn't want to have a bar like whatever all the ways I didn't want to have any fixed staff so if it means that you have dinner at the pub rather than like I have to have then what like a kitchen and someone running it and whatever because that's not the business I want to be in so then I had to be near a pub and then I wanted to be able to paint an orange well and I wanted it to be because I knew the brand was going to be so distinctive I wanted to be on a main road so that it sold itself It just itself was a billboard, but people have to see your billboard in order for your billboard to work. So it's on a really busy road. Yeah, that sort of thing. So I got like a really, really cheap space. I posted on TikTok saying, does anyone want to come paint my place orange? 20 people I didn't know came one day and we did a shitty job painting it orange and had pizza. You know, that was great. Yeah, I like stripped back bare bones. And then my initial model for the first three months, it was all other than me teaching the sausage classes. It was otherwise all sort of independent contractor teachers teaching everything else. And that also has changed by now because I've also realized, yep, that wasn't where I was getting the best traction on classes. And initially I just stuck to, I was like, no, no, I just have to market it better. I just have to push these particular classes more. But I'm now in a. There are some things that I announce and all I do is put up one Instagram post about it and it's sold out, you know, in a day like book club. It was like, cause, and I thought. Fucking book clubs. Does anyone need... Apparently, but people wanted this book club. So book club is now sold out every month. Normally they're free. You have to pay to come to this one. It's a mystery to me, but it works. And I've got to a point where I'm like, That's fine. Want a book club? I'll give you a book club. I started a choir because really just I wanted a choir. I hadn't been able to find a choir in Sydney that I wanted. And then, yeah, choir sells out such that I now have two choirs. This week I'm starting a second choir. I'm like, well, that was never in the plan. And people had specifically told me they wanted things that were just standalone, one-off events. And then the feedback was like, oh, it's harder to make friends when you're only meeting them once rather than meeting them every week. And I'm like, are you guys fucking kidding me? Like, okay, all right, so we'll do fucking choir. So choir book club and, like, this tomorrow night I'm starting, if I'm well enough, like sewing classes. People have been asking me for months to do sewing classes. So in all these things I'm running now, now so I'm relying a lot less on external teachers. So, yeah, I'm teaching a sewing class. I have, like, a former opera singer turned psychologist who's running the choir because, you know, I'm not, in fact, a musician. But, yeah, stuff like that. So the model has changed slightly. It's become even, like, more financially viable than it has been because there's fewer people that I'm bringing in as outside experts. But that also has become more viable as I've realized it's more about the people. If there's fewer people who are there than the shit they are learning, that's just like a... Almost a cover story sort of thing, the shit they're learning. So I'm simplifying as I realize, well, it's a value engineering, isn't it? People aren't there for the elaborate craft. They're there for the human connection. So there are ways that I can make it cheaper for them. So it's more appealing to more people. And then it's still also more profitable to me.

Louis - 00:48:01:

Very nice. I hope. Folks listening, extract all of the lessons that you just shared there. There's so many. Like letting your audience kind of pick things for you is a massive thing. But with a big caveat, which is Don't ask them what they want. Figure shit out first. See what works. See what doesn't. And then infer. Feedback from there, right? Because people don't know what they want. It's your job, right? It's our job.

Chrissy - 00:48:27:

Yes, except I would note people do love to be asked. And I'm not saying do false engagement, but I'm saying there is value to bringing people along with you.

Louis - 00:48:40:

Right, exactly.

Chrissy - 00:48:41:

And then feeling a sense of ownership. Yeah.

Louis - 00:48:44:

Yep, yep, yep, yep, yep. Yeah, you're way too smart. Yeah, way too smart for me. But yeah, it's kind of the 4G chess. It's like, yes, you bring people along because building in public and being visible is so important. And they feel invested because when people do something that they work on, they value it more. But you don't listen to everything. Because if you were, then you'd be creating a Frankenstein of a thing.

Chrissy - 00:49:06:

Absolutely. And you can't satisfy everyone and you can't chase every rabbit down. And that's something I learned in when I was manufacturing sausages, because I was like, okay, they're going to be free range, whole cuts of meat, no preservatives, no this, no that, whatever. And then like gluten-free, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And what I realized, no one absorbed that message. In retrospect, I would again probably just do like one or two of those by doing absolutely everything because some person had said, oh, it's really important to me that XYZ. I was like, I have to meet every need that made it an extremely expensive product, made it less viable so that the bulk of the people who really only cared about like one or two things were then also paying for all these more expensive things, except no one was paying for those more expensive things because it was financially ruinous. Yes. So now I'm, it's value, value engineering is very much a constant top of mind to me and to the numbers. It's great that if a few people like really, really love this thing, that's great. But if that isn't going to sell well and it's not going to be viable, sorry, like I can't, I can't help you. And there are, yeah, I guess there are exceptions. There are some things that I just back in because I think that that is the direction things are going. So for instance, I've just recently started a series on almost kind of like coaching for dating and sort of in person. Dating things, because I think dating culture is starting to absolutely boom. I mean, just on a demographics level, a lot more people are single now than used to be, but not like chastely single. They're single and just having very active dating, but not necessarily like they're looking to just find someone and shut it down and then that be done. Perpetual dating culture is much more of a lifestyle now. So those classes haven't sold as fast as. Book Club , but I believe that's the direction and I want to own a piece of that and I can't see it being done well other places. So I'm prepared to take a bit of a hit financially on that and grow it. There is still except you're still going to back your instincts, but if it's still like not getting traction, you know, in a few months, then I'll fucking kill it. You've always got to be willing to kill your babies.

Louis - 00:51:41:

Okay, I'm going to need time to fucking digest all of it and create a good video highlights of all the stuff you shared. Honestly, it's been really, really, really interesting for you to be able to like distill all of those stuff. And it's clear that throughout your experience, throughout like, you know, your different industries you're up with, you kind of picked up on a few things that mattered so much. So picking a distinctive asset like the color orange, taking very conscious decision about being near a pub, being on the main road because you didn't want to work extra for this kind of world of mouse, leaning on a trend or like being early in something that is happening in society that, you know, you can basically piggyback on instead of trying to create demand, which is absolutely bullshit. I'm sure I'm forgetting a couple, but fuck. It's been super interesting. So I know that people listening, there's one thing they're wondering. They're like, she has a ton of experience. She's been working 20 years in that industry. She had a restaurant like for 10 years and doing this. She has an audience. She has all of those things. She seems to have this certainty about herself. About what she likes, what she doesn't, what she wants to do, what she doesn't want to do. But what about me? I don't have that much experience, don't have an audience, whatever. So what is the number one advice you would give people listening who are not where you're at in terms of this knowledge about themselves and what they like and whatever? To start figuring it out.

Chrissy - 00:53:04:

It's overdone, of course, but it is authenticity. I had years in my early 30s, I had maybe a year and a half of just kind of like wandering in the mental wilderness. I was doing some consulting in government. I didn't really love it. And I just didn't really know. I didn't feel like I had any direction. And I was just depressed and turning it over for a few years. So it's not like I've. This is a very recent manifestation of me, I would say, and I think people I come across as a lot more confident and sure of myself than I am, but I've just come to accept that that's how I present. So, you know, it all takes time. Just kind of the courage. People can smell authenticity and they're so attracted to it. Because It's something, I think it's what at core most people want to be is their authentic selves. And they feel like they can't, that they're scared of it. I have messages every day from teenagers saying, I've been so scared to be an adult, to turn 18, like it's so gross to be an adult, but you make me feel like maybe it'll be okay and I don't have to be like this sort of adult I'm being told I have to be. It's like, yeah, bitch, it's the best. Like, because you get to do whatever you want. You have freedom. Like whoever's telling you that it's horrible is lying to you. And I'm so sorry that that's the message you've got. You can be whoever you want to be. Yeah, and so I'm inadvertently this sort of like lighthouse for the weird youth, but also kind of the adults who feel like they haven't. Been allowed to be themselves, that I am strange and unapologetic. Yeah. But I think the other thing is I had a bit of a crack on TikTok for like a few months with no traction. And I was just like, okay, fuck this. I'm not going to try to appeal to anyone anymore. And then as it happens, as soon as I was like, I just want to be able to be my authentic self on camera. I don't feel like I'm being able to do that. I set myself the challenge at the start of last year. So I only started growing the start of yeah, January, January 1, 2021. I was like, every day, I'm just going to make one video on TikTok. I'm just going to talk about whatever I am thinking about that day. I know no one's going to give a shit. It's not for them. It's for me that this is a challenge I'm setting for myself to evolve my voice. All I want to be is myself. I'm not trying to be anyone else. I'm just trying to show up authentically on camera. And then once I did that, I think by the end of the year, I was like, okay, I'm going to be my authentic self. By mid-January, I'd had a viral video with 500,000 views about a woman licking my face. Long story. And then a couple of months after that, I had a viral video about my landlord, who was about to become the prime minister. And then that made national news. And so I guess it's like, this is all very fresh. But everyone who looks like they're doing well looks like they've been doing well forever. It's not real. You know?

Louis - 00:56:19:

I know. It's never real.

Chrissy - 00:56:21:

We don't come out of the womb like this. Like, to a certain extent, yes. But, like... This has not been my experience of life has not been just glowing self-acceptance and certainly not societal acceptance. This is extremely recent and I sure intend to live the rest of my life like this, but it still feels very, very new.

Louis - 00:56:45:

No, I appreciate you sharing all of those caveats and all of that. Which is also why we started with that story of yours, which doesn't start, you know, happy in a silly place, right? But that's any good story starts with something that is fucked up in some ways. So your advice, if I had to reword it, your last advice for folks listening today is to try to write or create for yourself first and forget about the others, forget about what they might say, what they might think, or what if people get whatever. Completely agree with this, I do the same. And instead, just try to find that flow in you, like this space where you can do that thing forever and you don't feel like it's work, you don't feel like it's tiring, it just feels natural to you and very obvious, right? Instead of forced. And that's difficult to grasp. But after you do it for a while, you will find that place, I believe. So that's such a good advice as well. Look, we can keep going for 12 hours, I would say, but... I actually need to have lunch and you need to go to sleep. So because you are like across the world. Last question for you before I let you go. You've been so generous with all your knowledge. What do you think people today should learn that would make them... Relevant or will help them in the next 10, 20, 50 years. And by people, I mean people listening, who are into marketing in some way, shape or form.

Chrissy - 00:58:06:

I'm obviously a devotee, but I would just say don't leave the emerging medias to... The youth or write them off like that. Because there are people, there are adults who'll still say, oh, TikTok, isn't that kids doing dances? I'm like, you're missing out on a huge market. So for example, TikTok's been transformational to my life. Everybody, everybody's on it. One in 100 people in total who live in Sydney follow me on TikTok. That's not of the people who are in, on TikTok. So the cut through is real and the algorithm is so powerful that it's being pushed to people who are relevant to your audience. The children who do dances aren't seeing what you're doing. It's a way of authentically connecting with other. So I just think something like that is really underrated for people who aren't for businesses, but you can't do the same shit on new media. If you make ads or you sell on the emerging social media, you're going to just, you're absolutely burning money. You're wasting your time because the youth culture is permeating up that they aren't prepared to accept fake And that is transmitting through the rest of society, which I think is highly overdue. But it means that the culture is changing. We're doing something just because everyone else is doing it and doing it in a safe way, just because you think you won't get in trouble with your boss, even if it doesn't go well, but it doesn't go like badly. That's not good enough. Get out of marketing. If that's what you think marketing is now is just doing how it's done. Stop doing marketing.

Louis - 01:00:00:

We had people learn more from you, watch your weird videos of your old dog barking at you nonstop.

Chrissy - 01:00:09:

Yeah, I would encourage you to follow me on TikTok, which is Chaotic Socialite. Yes, I'm in other places, but that's the place where you get all the dating stories, which are like, you know, quality. Yep.

Louis - 01:00:21:

I agree. Chrissy, you've been a pleasure. Thank you so much for your time.

Chrissy - 01:00:25:

It's my pleasure.

Creators and Guests

Louis Grenier
Louis Grenier
The French guy behind Everyone Hates Marketers
Chrissy Flanagan
Chrissy Flanagan
Chaotic Socialite at Chaotic Social, Queen Of Chaos & Sausage Queen
How to Embrace Your Weirdness & Make Money From It
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