Peter Shankman

Peter Shankman

Founder of HARO, public speaker & best-selling author

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON March 28, 2016

Discussion

Peter Shankman
Peter Shankman@peter_shankman
Hey guys! I'm Peter Shankman, the guy who founded Help a Reporter, the site that changed how journalists find sources and people find PR. I'm an author, (including two bestsellers on the customer economy), and I spend most of my time nowadays speaking to corporations around the world about the customer economy, being a talking head on news programs, and running ShankMinds, an online business mastermind community for a few hundred brilliant entrepreneurs. I'm also an Ironman Triathlete, Dad, and "B" licensed skydiver. Thrilled to be here, ask me anything!
Ryan Hoover
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Peter! PR and news/media in general, has changed so much in the past decade. What will it look like in a decade?
Peter Shankman
Peter Shankman@peter_shankman
@rrhoover You tell me, superstar! You first came to me with the idea for PH, and I remember telling you you had something, and were going to change the game, just like I did with HARO. And you did. I'm proud of you. Re: News: Much more on-demand - I see reporters/journalists writing/reporting in an on-demand world, rather than assigned times/places.
Ryan Hoover
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
@petershankman that feels so long ago now. 😀 To your point, information and news is traveling faster (and from more people with Twitter, Snapchat, live video streaming) than ever before. It makes me wonder, what won't be documented and reported in the future?
Hi Peter, Would love to know what hobbies or sports you did as a kid. What skills or lessons from them had the biggest impact on your life?
Peter Shankman
Peter Shankman@peter_shankman
@casielane I was big into computers - Got my first Apple iiE, and worked on a TRS-80 in school. I was heavy into music and performing arts, (Went to LaGuardia HS,) and that saved me more than once. Didn't get into sports until I turned 25, started running.
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)@emilyjsnowdon · Operations @ Product Hunt
Hi Peter, what were your biggest challenges when you first set up HARO? How did you overcome these?
Peter Shankman
Peter Shankman@peter_shankman
@ems_hodge Explaining to people that we existed and they needed to use us. The hardest thing to do is to get people to understand there's a need for what you do, when they don't know what you do exists. Once they found out, it was easy. So for me, the biggest challenge was constantly promoting HARO.
Harry Stebbings
Harry Stebbings@harrystebbings · Podcast Host @ The Twenty Minute VC
@petershankman awesome to speak again having had you on the podcast. My question is how have you seen you decision making change when it comes to investing in startups? Always great to speak and hope you are well.
Peter Shankman
Peter Shankman@peter_shankman
@harrystebbings Thanks, Harry! For me, it's all about the team - How well they've done their homework for our first meeting usually sets the tone for whether I'll invest.
Andrew Ettinger
Andrew Ettinger@ettinger · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
What are you most excited about in the next five years?
Peter Shankman
Peter Shankman@peter_shankman
@andrewett The customer economy - That's everything from the Internet of Things to Uber, from Automation to lack of actually "owning." I've gotten rid of about 65% of the stuff I own over the past two years, and it's been SO DAMN FREEING! Of course, my wife and kid have more than made up for what space I reclaimed, but... yeah. Where we are now will seem like ancient history in five years. Could you have told me in 2002 that we'd be ordering food from our phones while waiting for a car to pick us up and tracking it in real-time as it approached?? Awesomeness. I love what's coming down the pike. I'm an investor in @namely, and they're reinventing HR - Imagine businesses not having to have an HR department anymore, because it's all in the cloud? Just awesome.
Ross Currie
Ross Currie@ross_currie
Happy Monday, Peter! With as crazy a professional and personal schedule as you keep, what are your favorite tips and tools (apps or otherwise) for keeping your life organized and running efficiently?
Peter Shankman
Peter Shankman@peter_shankman
@ross_currie Hi, Ross! :D I live and die by Wunderlist, Google Maps, Samsung Smart Things, an app called Productive, TripIt, the @United app, and the @spg app. My house is entirely Z-Waved, so that helps. Of course, my life is dictated by @runkeeper, @withings, and @myfitnesspal - Without those last three, I'd be on the couch, soaking in pizza grease all the time.
Jacqueline von Tesmar
Jacqueline von Tesmar@jacqvon · Community at Product Hunt ⚡️
What's one piece of advice you constantly find yourself giving?
Peter Shankman
Peter Shankman@peter_shankman
@jacqvon I tell people all the time that if they don't have haters, they're not doing enough to change the status quo. :)
Craig App Man Caruso
Craig App Man Caruso@craigcaruso · CarusoApps.com
Is the Instagram feed change a good or bad thing?
Peter Shankman
Peter Shankman@peter_shankman
@craigcaruso If you create good content, people will see it. That's always the case. If not enough people are seeing your content, CREATE BETTER CONTENT. Don't waste your time blaming the app.
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
If you had a billion dollars what would you do with it?
Peter Shankman
Peter Shankman@peter_shankman
@bentossell Put $10mm in tax free bonds and live off the interest, give away $800mm to good, well managed charities, and give the last $195mm to my investment guy at Oppenheimer and let him take care of it. I don't need a lot to survive. Quite the opposite, in fact. The majority of my investments are for my kid.
Tony Amoyal
Tony Amoyal@tonyamoyal · Founder, Sidewalk (getsidewalk.com)
Peter - Can you tell us about your writing practice? Do you have any daily, weekly, or repeated exercises that you've found groundbreaking to get yourself from idea -> finishing a book?
Peter Shankman
Peter Shankman@peter_shankman
@tonyamoyal I write on planes. I use OmmWriter on my Mac, and when I really need to focus, I buy a plane ticket. Honestly. I wrote Zombie Loyalists on a round trip flight to Tokyo and back. I didn't even go into Tokyo. I flew from EWR-NRT, wrote chapters 1-5. Landed. Got off the plane, went to the lounge, took a shower, ate some food, got back on the same plane, same seat, two hours later, flew from NRT to EWR, and wrote chapters 6-10. :) It works for me.
Jake Crump
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
What does a typical work day look like for you?
Peter Shankman
Peter Shankman@peter_shankman
@jakecrump Up no later than 4, usually earlier. (Tomorrow I'm doing a 12 mile run at 3:30am. I'm not a normal person.) :) But once done working out (mandatory every day to help manage my #ADHD,) I'm usually in the office by 7am, answering emails, writing blog posts, putting deals together. Otherwise, I'm on a plane, I travel about 250k miles a year for corporate keynotes and the like. I'm very lucky. :) Currently, most of my time is taken up by working on www.fasterthannormal.com, my new site that attempts to change perceptions of ADHD/ADD from a curse to a gift, and with shankminds.com, my virtual mastermind group with about 130 people in it. (Hint: We're looking for new entrepreneurs to join us!)
Jake Crump
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Peter Shankman
Peter Shankman@peter_shankman
@jakecrump Hopefully still spending time each day with my daughter, who will by that time by 8 years old. Damn. :) Hopefully with another book or two out, and hopefully having helped change the conversation about ADHD, teaching millions of people why it's a gift, not a curse, and hnopefully helping all of us cut down on the number of meds we give out to battle it. ADHD is a benefit - there are much better ways than meds for most of us. (And hopefully still investing in companies, starting new ones, speaking, etc...)
Jake Crump
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
How did you get into skydiving?
Peter Shankman
Peter Shankman@peter_shankman
@jakecrump I took 150 CEOs skydiving as a PR stunt. You know how you give 100 people something addictive, and one person will get hooked? Hi. I'm that one person.
Jake Crump
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
What's you're favorite bit of advice to give to people?
Peter Shankman
Peter Shankman@peter_shankman
@jakecrump Two pieces: 1) If you can't change the people around you, change the people around you. 2) If you don't like where you are in life, move. You're not a fucking tree.
Lesley Wu
Lesley Wu@deleted-407305
@petershankman @jakecrump im agree with 2),but i can't understand about 1)...
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
what's something you used to believe that you now see as fundamentally misguided?
Peter Shankman
Peter Shankman@peter_shankman
@eriktorenberg I used to think it was important to conform to what other people thought about me. The day I realized it wasn't, was the day I became free. The only two people whose opinions I care about now are my wife and child. (and my parents, ok.) But that's it. And great, great question, Erik.
Peter Shankman
Peter Shankman@peter_shankman
@eriktorenberg I'd also suggest that there's a MASSIVE difference between dressing casually, and dressing like a slob. Took me a few years to learn that.
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
if you knew then (when you started HARO), what you knew now, what would you do differently?
Peter Shankman
Peter Shankman@peter_shankman
@eriktorenberg I'd be MUCH more careful with who I hired. I hired people because I thought they could do what I could - That was a mistake. I should have been hiring people who could do specifically what I COULDN'T.
Irina Smirnova
Irina Smirnova@irisciaphoto · Photographer
What place in NJ would you recommend for skydiving?
Peter Shankman
Peter Shankman@peter_shankman
@irisciaphoto Skydive Sussex. First place I ever jumped. :)
Irina Smirnova
Irina Smirnova@irisciaphoto · Photographer
@petershankman I jumped there too. Was hoping so. Coming back for my 40th birthday :p
Jake Crump
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
How do you train for the Ironman Triathlon? When did you complete your first triathlon?
Peter Shankman
Peter Shankman@peter_shankman
@jakecrump Lots of swimming, lots of biking, lots of running. It's all about priorities - If you want to do it, you give up other things like going out at night, partying, etc. And that was fine for me. In fact, I made this video after my first Ironman, in 2010:
- But in the end, just start with a sprint, that'll tell you if you're the addictive type. Trivia: Triathlon has the highest number of recovering addicts of any sport.
Craig App Man Caruso
Craig App Man Caruso@craigcaruso · CarusoApps.com
What are your thoughts on the current live streaming market? FB, Periscope, Snapchat? etc...
Peter Shankman
Peter Shankman@peter_shankman
@craigcaruso I LOVE LOVE LOVE Facebook Live Video. Blab is fun, too - For me, it's sharing what I'm doing in real time, because I'm having so much fun doing it!
Jake Crump
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
I know you've said you were big into computers, what are your thoughts on VR?
Peter Shankman
Peter Shankman@peter_shankman
@jakecrump I just saw a video of someone on a roller coaster using Google Cardboard showing them flying around the city. Do you have ANY IDEA HOW COOL THAT IS TO ME?!!?
Andrew Ettinger
Andrew Ettinger@ettinger · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
How do you feel about the future of Twitter?
Peter Shankman
Peter Shankman@peter_shankman
@andrewett I've said it since day one - Mobile is the future. That's where we're going. But Twitter is simply a pipe to transport that content. It may or may not survive. Sad to say, but true. Nothing but mad respect for all the gang at Twitter, and I hope they solve the problems plaguing them now, including lack of growth. I remember working at AOL in the 90s, and everyone thought their platform was there to stay forever. Not quite.
Jacqueline von Tesmar
Jacqueline von Tesmar@jacqvon · Community at Product Hunt ⚡️
Where is one place you want to visit that you haven't been before?
Peter Shankman
Peter Shankman@peter_shankman
@jacqvon North Korea, The North Pole. (Two places. Sorry.)
Jake Crump
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
What are the first tabs you open on your computer every morning?
Peter Shankman
Peter Shankman@peter_shankman
@jakecrump In order: Facebook, Email, Calendar, Google Drive, Google News, Dropzone.com, Tweetdeck, Wunderlist, Fasterthannormal.com, ShankMinds.com (I have them set to open on Chrome's startup.)
Jake Crump
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
What was the most important lesson you learned from founding HARO?
Peter Shankman
Peter Shankman@peter_shankman
@jakecrump Be transparent. Be relevant to your audience by asking them all the time how you can improve. Be brief - We've only got a few seconds to make an impact. And finally, be top of mind - Just a few beats better than everyone else is all it takes to win the war, and let's face it - it's not that hard - Most people suck. :)
Jake Crump
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
Do you have any plans for any future books? Anything you can share?
Peter Shankman
Peter Shankman@peter_shankman
@jakecrump Working on a Followup to Zombie Loyalists (www.zombieloyalists.com) and also working on a companion book to www.fasterthannormal.com - I'm really, really passionate about changing how people think and react to ADHD. We should be embracing the kids who are different, not throwing them on meds and hoping they shut up. Seriously.
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
what do you think you are best at? what is your core competence?
Peter Shankman
Peter Shankman@peter_shankman
@eriktorenberg I'm great at ideas. I'm great at coming up with random thoughts and implementing them into plans that can make money. I'm terrible at implementing from a 1-foot view. I.e., I suck at scheduling. So I hire people who are good at the things I'm not.
Tony Amoyal
Tony Amoyal@tonyamoyal · Founder, Sidewalk (getsidewalk.com)
Hi Peter - How long did it take you to launch v1 and what big changes (pivots, for example), if any, occurred from idea -> launch? How did you test the initial HARO idea as much as possible without investing too much capital?
Peter Shankman
Peter Shankman@peter_shankman
@tonyamoyal Wish I could tell you some awesome program I followed. I launched HARO v1 as a Facebook group. We outgrew it in 20 days, so I moved it to the web as a mailing list. That's literally it. I listened to every email that came through, and followed up with EVERY single person who unsubscribed, asking them why. (Some might say stalked.) But I got the info I needed to constantly keep improving HARO, and eventually took it to 250k members who were reading 3 emails per day from me, with a 79% open rate. That was OBSCENE, and I'll NEVER create anything that addictive again. It just won't ever happen. I accidentally created email meth. :)
Jake Crump
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
What's something you would ask yourself if you were us?
Peter Shankman
Peter Shankman@peter_shankman
@jakecrump I'd ask for pure honesty. I don't lie, and I'll answer any question put in front of me. Here's a hint: Ask me about addiction, ADHD, or anything related.
Jessica Malnik
Jessica Malnik@jessicamalnik · Community Manager & Blogger
Hi Peter, As a kid, did you have a teacher or role model that you looked up to? If so, what did they do to inspire you?
Peter Shankman
Peter Shankman@peter_shankman
@jessicamalnik Ms. Glassman in high school noticed I was always writing in my notebook - not just notes, but stories. So she gave me my first journal. Probably cost her three bucks - But it started me as a writer. Two best-sellers under my belt later, Thanks, Ms. Glassman. :) Mr. Lirtzman told me it was ok to be different, as did both my parents. I'm thankful they all embraced my weirdness. Because I'll be honest... I was the most socially awkward kid you'll ever have met in your life. I PRAY every night that my daughter didn't inherit that part of me.
Jake Crump
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
What's the biggest misconception surrounding ADHD?
Peter Shankman
Peter Shankman@peter_shankman
@jakecrump That it's not really a disease, that we just need to sit down and focus. Sorry, but it's not that simple. We CAN focus - But we need specific ways of doing it. You'd never say "Oh, please, it's just cancer, stop using it as an excuse." Fact is, tons more entrepreneurs have ADHD than you'd ever imagine. Truly successful entrepreneurs - Hell, anyone who ever did anything major, like found this country, was probably on the ADHD spectrum.
Ross Currie
Ross Currie@ross_currie
What do you think it is about ironman competition that attracts former addicts?
Peter Shankman
Peter Shankman@peter_shankman
@ross_currie we're trading one addiction for another. If I can't drink all night, then shit, I might as well get up and swim 2.4 miles, then bike 112, then run a marathon. It's something to do, requires a ton of training, and at least it'll fill my day that I could be spending doing something less-than-beneficial.
kishore
kishore@nandanamudi
Did you face in issues with ADHD in your childhood , particularly at school?
Peter Shankman
Peter Shankman@peter_shankman
@nandanamudi No doubt. Was always in trouble for talking out of turn, disrupting the class, etc... Got through school by the skin of my teeth until I hit college and discovered new ways to learn, to take tests, etc. That was the game-changer for me. But it's the same thing now - I can't work for anyone else, or have a regular job. I need to do things the ways that work for me, in order to be successful. I wrote this about it: https://medium.com/@petershankma...
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
What is one of the worst pitches you've seen?
Peter Shankman
Peter Shankman@peter_shankman
@bentossell Someone who tried to pitch me on a new device for the GoPro and didn't do any homework on me. He brought a GoPro to show me, not realizing I'm a skydiver, and was the FIRST SKYDIVER TO JUMP WITH ONE. Jeez. Do your homework, people.
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
Do you think that addiction to "work" is a thing and if yes, how big of an overlooked danger is it?
Peter Shankman
Peter Shankman@peter_shankman
@bentossell Most definitely. It's like any "holism," alcoholism, etc. It needs to be addressed if it's taking the place of other important things in life, or preventing you from living a full life.
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
Do you think bringing newspapers and their model to the web (similar to blendle) will be sustainable or do you think a complete disruption is due and will happen in the news industry?
Peter Shankman
Peter Shankman@peter_shankman
@bentossell There's always going to be a place for the newsman, and the newspaper reporter. How they disseminate, however, I believe will shift to more of an on-demand issue.
Jake Crump
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
Who is your favorite author?
Peter Shankman
Peter Shankman@peter_shankman
@jakecrump More than one: Sun Tzu, Tom Clancy, Joseph Garber (trust me, read Vertical Run, it'll blow you away.) Shakespeare, and Byron.
Peter Shankman
Peter Shankman@peter_shankman
Advice I wish I knew when I started...
Peter Shankman
Peter Shankman@peter_shankman
I'll say this - And I'm not self-promoting - I wish I knew how damn LONELY entrepreneurship gets at times, and I wish I'd learned to reach out to people earlier when I needed to, instead of trying to do it all myself. I've lost a few entrepreneur friends to suicide, simply because they were too proud to call someone and say "you know what, I'm fucking HUMAN, and I need some HELP." It's bullshit, man. There won't EVER be a startup as important as YOU ARE. If you're not taking care of yourself first, you'll NEVER amount to greatness. Seriously. IF you take anything away from what I said here today, make it that, ok?
Peter Shankman
Peter Shankman@peter_shankman
I'll take it a step further - It's one of the main reasons I launched the virtual mastermind group I run - shankminds.com - So we'd all have a place to talk, without judgement, and get help, both professionally and personally, when we need it. Life's too short to do all this shit alone.
Peter Shankman
Peter Shankman@peter_shankman
Feel free to reach out after this is over, too - I'm @petershankman on all of the socials, and live online at shankman.com and shankminds.com as well as fasterthannormal.com :)
Peter Shankman
Peter Shankman@peter_shankman
Thanks for having me, ProductHunt! Happy to chat offline with anyone who still has questions, find me on all the socials at @petershankman - I'm off to the gym. :)
Tony Amoyal
Tony Amoyal@tonyamoyal · Founder, Sidewalk (getsidewalk.com)
Peter - do you have any decision making frameworks you repeatedly use and love?
Peter Shankman
Peter Shankman@peter_shankman
@tonyamoyal If my gut says no, so do I.