To amplify your growing market, you might want to try looking into podcast networks. Today’s guest is Hala Taha, the host of Young and Profiting Podcast and the CEO of YAP Media, a full-service social media and podcast marketing agency for top podcasters, celebrities, and CEOs generating over $2M in revenue in its first year. In this episode, she chats with host Dolores Hirschmann about her podcast network and how she helps clients exponentially grow through it. It’s not just about production. Their marketing-focused approach is here to guide you through every step of the process for maximum reach and return.
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Building A Successful Podcast Network With Hala Taha
I am excited to bring you this next episode. I met Hala many years ago when she was still working full-time as a Disney executive. She was launching her podcast that was already very successful but as a side gig. I remember having a conversation with her and exploring. It’s more of a guest sharing my idea around clarity, but I remember her asking me specific questions about the clarity to jump off on your own or starting the business. I could sense back there that she was ready to start her thing, but she wasn’t there yet. I am proud and excited to bring you this new episode where I interviewed Hala for our show.
Hala is now the executive of a company that is growing very fast. She has over 70 people on her team and is talking to some of the biggest influencers in the industry. As an influencer herself in podcasts, she has a lot to share around launching courage in the podcast industry. Don’t miss this interview with Hala Taha.
Thank you so much. It’s good to see you. It feels like forever.
I’m happy to be here. Thanks for having me.
One of the things I want to start with is, what has been your cloudy journey? I remember when you interviewed me for your podcast, you were still working full-time. As you said, you are sneaking some podcast interviews at lunchtime or after hours. It feels like yesterday, but it was years ago. You said you have over 70 people in your team and you went from, “Maybe I go on my own to here,” which you are obviously not on your own because you have a lot of support. Talk to me about that. How did that come about?
It was about paying attention to everything around me. I could have been an entrepreneur way earlier. First of all, I was scared to be an entrepreneur. By the time I quit my full-time job, I had 30 people who were already working for me. We were making over $50,000 a month and I still wasn’t quitting my job because I was scared. Even though I had all the signs telling me, “Go,” I was scared and wanted that steady paycheck.
What gave me clarity was understanding that my brand was here to stay and that I had done the hard work to have that security blanket. Honestly, my network was my insurance policy because I had built all these great connections and relationships. I had done a lot of free work for people. A lot of people had my back. I finally felt like, “I can go out on my own. If anything happens, I can always go get another job.” I didn’t feel scared anymore.
Making $50,000 a month and still scared of letting go of the job. That’s a safety net, but I think what I understand between the lines is that, “Is it real? Is it steady? Is it safe?” It’s crazy how many times we feel that a full-time job with a paycheck is safer than your capacity to create value. I remember having a computer with my brother at the time and he was leaving his job. He was saying, “The truth about a job is that at most, you have 30 days of safety. It depends on the contract, but in many cases, you can be out in whatever the severance time.”
$50,000 a month doesn’t go away so fast because, in the entrepreneurial world, we are totally diversified. Let’s talk about a little bit of your entrepreneurial journey and what you have done to transition or transform that mindset of a job is safe and now I know you feel safe in your work. How did that tweak happen?
First of all, it’s surrounding myself with people who believed in me more. At the time, when I was trying to quit my job at Disney, and there were a few months where I was ready, but the people who loved me were telling me, “You’re making the biggest mistake of your life. You got your MBA. You are an executive at Disney. Many people would kill for that job.” I got a lot of, “You are selfish. You are not cut out to be an entrepreneur. You are too nice to be an entrepreneur. You don’t know what you are walking into and you are going to regret this.”
I had a lot of people, my boyfriend, who’s no longer my boyfriend, even my parents, loved me and meant well, but they always thought that I was going to be this executive. Sometimes you need to think about what you want. For me, I was like, “I could stay at Disney for the next twenty years and eventually become the CMO. Maybe that could happen, but maybe it won’t because I’m giving my life to the gatekeepers. I’m giving my life to other people to make their decisions for me.”
I felt like, “I can do this very quickly on my own.” I had a lot of experiences before corporate also that I could lean on, a lot of skills and leadership capabilities and experiences. I decided, “If nobody wants to hang out with me for a little while or whatever it is, I got to do what I have to do to be happy.” I did it. Now everyone, including my ex-boyfriend, is very proud of me. Nobody can see what you can see inside of yourself. I needed to change my environment. It was a big part of it.
I love that because you can’t get nurtured differently in the same environment. What did you launch? We are talking here about what you launch, but what do you do?
I have a number one podcast called Young And Profiting. I also have an agency called YAP Media. We are a social media and podcast agency. We specialize in LinkedIn management, Instagram, YouTube, and end-to-end podcast production. We essentially create LinkedIn influencers in particular. I manage a lot of LinkedIn influencer accounts. I’m one of the biggest influencers on LinkedIn myself. I also create and grow podcasts. What differentiates me from a lot of the other agencies is we not only produce your social and podcast content, we grow it. We are all about performance. We are monetizing podcasts and I launched a podcast network.
If I do the math correctly, you launched in the pandemic.
My father passed away in May 2020 because of COVID. I launched my business while he was in the hospital.
How did that come about?
How did I launch my business and how did this all come about? I don’t know if you are asking about my dad or the business.
However, you want to take the question because I think there was timing that there was a decision made while that was tragic.
It was super pivotal. I’ll go through it because I think it’s a great story. Around March of 2020, the whole world was starting to catch wind of COVID. If you are not in the New Jersey area, many of you might have heard that New Jersey was one of the first states that were hit. My family was one of the first families that were hit. I remember getting a call from my sister. I was living in Brooklyn with my boyfriend at the time. She’s like, “Mom and dad have COVID. Our aunt and uncle down the street have COVID.” My sister’s a doctor. She’s like, “I’m coming home to help. Are you coming?” I was like, “I guess I am.” Of course, I am. I want to help my parents.
Within twenty minutes, I packed up. My sister picked me up and then I didn’t go back to Brooklyn for three months. That was also the end of my relationship. All that stuff happened because this is what happened. I ended up going to my parents’ house. My parents were very sick. I got COVID because I was taking care of them. I ended up quarantining. At the time, when people got COVID, everyone was scared of you. I didn’t see my friends for three months. The moral of the story is I had a lot of time. My dad went to the hospital. I was working from home from Disney and I no longer had to commute. Everybody at Disney’s working from home.
I had no friends to hang out with me because I got COVID. Nobody wants to hang out with me. I was like, “I have all this time.” Everybody keeps asking me to launch this business. I’d get all these people coming on my podcast and they would ask me the same question, “Who does your marketing? How did you grow your LinkedIn? How did you grow your podcast? Can you do it for me?” I’d always say no until finally, I had time to say yes. I said, “Sure.” Heather Monahan was my first client. She’s a big influencer on LinkedIn and an author.
She’s like, “Please do my videos.” I started with her videos. It was a very small contract, then I moved on to Cathy Heller and other podcasters doing their videos and micro-content. Eventually, I started to take over everyone’s social and podcast. I’m taking it all over and slowly building a team. I recruited my creative team from the Philippines, my ops team from India, all my social media people were interns at first and then hired them from the US.
Surround yourself with people who believe in you more.
I created this little scrappy team. Six months later, I had major clients like Kara Goldin of Hint Water, who’s doing all the marketing of Hint Water, and a buzzing team, and full-time employees in the US. It was a big deal to me at the time because I had a lot of employees overseas, but that’s much different than having a full-time employee in the US. I finally decided that it was time for me to leave Disney. I was too big of a fish for that pond.
There are many things here. It is about that moment with COVID, your parents, time and that chain of events that say, “It’s time.” Now you are basically the wind behind the wings of these major influencers that you are working with. What is your secret?
My secret is I’m passionate. I designed a job that I love and that I’m good at. I’m not scared of building a team, of letting go when I have to let go, training people and letting them become leaders. It’s my leadership and management style that allows me to grow, take on more and be able to innovate because now my team members run the agency, and now I’m working on building this innovative podcast network. It’s all about designing any job that you love.
People think, “I’ll launch a company. I’ll look at people to help me. I’ll get some contractors,” and then you run payroll for the first time. That’s a big moment. I remember that when I run payroll. It’s like, “I have to do that again next month.” There’s something there that you said. “Without the people skills or the management skills, it’s almost impossible to do what you did.” Now that you have this nicely run agency and you are building the podcast network, tell me, where are you going? What are 12 months, 2 or 5 years from now?
That’s going to be the podcast network. What happened was when I started this, the lead generation and the monetization of my podcast was the agency I use the podcast as a lead generation tool. The guests who would come on my show would want my marketing and become my clients. Literally, almost everybody that I do marketing for was a guest on my show first. I never sold them. It was a good impression. They saw everything. They would be curious, which would lead to them becoming my client or now I get referred like my clients referring other people that I may not know.
That was the first way that I monetized. I figured out how to monetize my podcast because I was able to get money to reinvest in my podcast and grow it very large. I learned how to grow my other shows very large. I started to monetize those shows. We did such a great job at monetizing those shows. We were sold out until April 2022. That triggered me to launch my own podcast network.
I’m actively recruiting shows. I feel like I’ve been building this network without even realizing I was building the bones of this network all along throughout the years of this podcasting journey that I have been on. If you had asked me when I first started the podcast, what I want it to be in five years, I would have said, “I’m going to have the biggest podcast network in the world.” That’s what I used to say many years ago.
I never said I wanted to be the CEO of a marketing agency. That was just the steps that I needed to get and was the bones of this network. Now, we will be able to do cross-social media sponsorships, cross-channel sponsorships and we are better equipped than any other network out there to do that because we have a whole agency and nobody else has that. All the other networks have audio production, but we have a whole marketing agency. It’s amazing and I feel like I’m so excited about that. My full focus is to network, recruiting podcasters and building this network to be the biggest network in the world.
I have many connections for you that we’re going to have to spend 30 minutes after we’re done here. Let me ask you a question. What do you feed yourself? I know you changed the environment in which you were operating and that supported this big shift that you have done, but where do you get ongoing support, new ideas and challenge?
First of all, I purposely have a mentor that is much more successful than me and that’s Jordan Harbinger. I talked to him every single day. He gives me challenges because he’ll talk to me about things and I’m usually the one who knows everything about podcasting. He’s got ten years on me in this space. He’ll teach me new things and that’s a great way for me to learn. I feel like I’m on the cutting edge of this industry. I’m always the teacher and it’s nice to sometimes be the learner, in some instances, so that I learn.
I like to be the glue of the community. One of the things that I did early on was recruiting all of these influencers and podcasters into a WhatsApp chat and starting a mastermind group. I have like a Podcaster Pod, I call it. We support each other on social. We have calls and many of them have become my good friends who have met up for dinner or, if we are in the same city, meet up or the same podcast festival. That’s been rewarding and a way for me to bounce ideas and things like that. I honestly treat my employees and my executives on my team like my friends and they’re my best friends. It’s nice to be building a company with people who are my age. We were rocking it together and all super passionate and rewarded.
How big do I need to be to call your agency? Who do I need to be? What kind of podcasts or entrepreneurs do I need to be to pick up the phone? You sound so amazing in everything you are doing. I know you work with a lot of influencers, but what about the small business owner? Are we a right fit?
It depends on your budget. We do have a monthly rich scanner. Typically, we work with the CEOs of $100 million or $1 billion companies. A lot of times, their company is what’s funding the presence of their CEO because the valuation of their company increases when their CEO has a great personal brand. We are a white glove. There are many social media agencies out there. We go straight, publish, DM automation and pull out all the stops. It’s on the more expensive side of a social media agency, but a lot of agencies don’t perform. They are just creating content to create content. They are getting two likes on their stuff. We go viral and get crazy results. That’s a big differentiator for us.
In terms of the podcast to join the network, all you need is 5,000 downloads per episode on average and I can help you monetize your show. That’s something people don’t realize. A lot of podcasters out there think they need to be having hundreds of thousands of downloads to monetize, and that’s not true. You can join the network if you are getting those downloads and grow your show because I’ll be helping everybody grow their shows by leveraging each other’s audiences, trading commercials and doing innovative things. We can help you start to monetize that show.
One of the last questions here is, what book, podcast or Netflix series should we be watching?
I don’t watch TV. My favorite book is The Like Switch by Dr. Jack Schafer. He was also my first guest on the Young And Profiting Podcast and came on a few times. If you guys want to learn about that and you prefer to listen, you can check out my podcast. If you want to read the book, it’s all about human behavior, gaining influence and landing great first impressions.
Where can people find you?
Thank you. This is a lovely conversation. You can find me on YoungAndProfiting.com. All my links are there. You can also find me on LinkedIn at Hala Taha, on Instagram @YapWithHala and on my podcast, Young And Profiting. We interview the brightest minds in the world. I’ve interviewed Matthew McConaughey, Dolores, Seth Godin, Robert Greene. It’s a great podcast. It’s super nerdy. We talk about how to gain influence, productivity, the art of entrepreneurship and so much more.
Any parting thoughts? What do you want to leave us with?
If you have passion, you should follow it.
Thank you so much for taking the time to be with us.
Thank you so much.
Hala and I had the best conversation. It was all around the personal experience of launching her company, how fast she is growing and now she has been managing that growth, because to go from 0 to 70 people in your team in a few years is a lot of growth in a very short period of time. She shares a little about what her vision is moving forward, what the future holds for the podcast industry and how she is leaving her mark.
- Podcast – Young And Profiting
- YAP Media
- The Like Switch
- Dr. Jack Schafer – Young and Profiting Episode
- Hala Taha – LinkedIn
- @YapWithHala – Instagram
- Matthew McConaughey – Young and Profiting Episode
- Dolores Hirschmann – Young and Profiting Episode
- Seth Godin – Young and Profiting Episode
- Robert Greene – Young and Profiting Episode
- @YoungAndProfiting – YouTube
About Hala Taha
Hala Taha who is the host of Young and Profiting Podcast, frequently ranked as a #1 Education podcast across all apps. Hala is also the CEO of YAP Media, a full-service social media and podcast marketing agency for top podcasters, celebrities and CEOs generating over $2M in revenue in its first year. She is well-known for her engaged following and influence on Linkedin.