The Power of Books

The Power of Books

In this episode of Startup Hustle, Lauren Conaway and David Blake, CEO of BookClub talk about the power of books, David’s experiences as a serial founder, and how his journey leads him to starting his latest venture…backing books.

Covered in this Episode

Literature opens up a whole new world of opportunities. In this digital era where teams have gone online and remote, where we are increasingly siloed in our echo chambers, great books give us a great way to connect, learn, see, and hear others’ worldviews.

BookClub breaks down social barriers and hosts the platform for great conversations. David Blake shares his journey of changing the way we learn.

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Highlights

  • Entrepreneurship journey (04:07)
  • The gap in education (11:15)
  • The impact of great literature (12:29)
  • Story behind BookClub (18:23)
  • How BookClub works (22:39)
  • Connecting through BookClub (30:50)
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Key Quotes

Nationalism, extremism, tribalism, sexism, and racism; what all those things hold in common is at some level, they all have ignorance and a lack of empathy.

I wanted to start working on the kind of education that could challenge people’s worldview and could help create some compassion.

Reading a great book can challenge your worldview and help you see the world through someone else’s lens and walk a mile proverbially in their shoes.

Rough Transcript

The following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode.

00:00.00

Lauren Conaway

And we are back! Thank you for joining us for yet another episode of the Startup Hustle podcast. I’m your host Lauren Conaway, founder and CEO of InnovateHER KC. 

And today’s episode of Startup Hustle is sponsored by fullscale.io, helping you build a software team quickly and affordably. 

Now, friends, I know that I talk often about how excited I am to speak with founders and that holds true 99.9% of the time. I’m super psyched to talk to the founders that we have on the show because I love hearing founder stories. But today, we have a guest with us that I am super psyched to talk to, not only because he is a founder, not only because he is one of the recipients of the Top Startups to Watch in Salt Lake City honor, and you should definitely keep an eye out for that episode. But I am extremely excited to talk to David Blake, CEO of BookClub, because books are one of my favorite things and I just feel like we’re going to have a really good conversation. We’re going to have a lot to talk about. So, welcome to the show David. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us.

01:09.17

David Blake

Appreciate it. I’m glad to be on with a fellow fan of literature. Tell me, what are you reading right now? And I’ll return the favor.

01:16.70

Lauren Conaway

Oh my gosh. So right now I’m reading Sapiens and the 1619 project. And so those are 2 kinds of nonfiction. They’re a little heavier for sure. So I’m kind of taking my time with them.

01:33.96

David Blake

I don’t know the latter, 1619 projects

01:36.35

Lauren Conaway

In the 1619 project, a female journalist of color wrote about some of the historic implications of systemic barriers to access and institutional racism.

01:51.95

David Blake

Okay.

01:53.28

Lauren Conaway

This really interesting narrative around race and history in our country. I’m kind of earlier on in that one because after I finish a chapter I want to make sure that I have time to absorb it. 

02:09.28

David Blake

Got it. I have heard of this Nicole Hannah Jones. Yeah, there we go.

02:10.86

Lauren Conaway

But it’s been a really interesting read so far. It’s a thick one too. So it’s gonna take me a hot minute to finish it. But I think that’s probably appropriate. How about you? What are you reading?

02:24.47

David Blake

So right now, I am reading The Culture Code and just finished Les Mis. I really yeah Les Mis, I know that is also a doozy.

02:42.82

David Blake

But as I’ve tried to get more reading into my life. I’ve read up a little bit on this. And reading more than one book at a time is overwhelmingly considered good form. Your brain does better if it can bounce back and forth. You don’t get stuck.

02:56.17

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, so.

03:01.62

David Blake

Um, so anyways here and you’ve got 2 2 going at once I’m an advocate.

03:07.12

Lauren Conaway

And honestly I feel like I just love the opportunity and the idea that one of the reasons that I love books so much is because you know you could read every single day. For the rest of your life for the rest of you know a thousand lives and you would never be able to encompass or capture all of the knowledge and all of the experiences and all of the stories that are out there and books just make those those things so accessible. and and and I just and I love it and it’s frustrating because you’ll never know all the things and you’ll never read all the things but it’s really really beautiful to to kind of die in the pursuit and so so yeah I read multiple books at a time sometimes I’ll pop like some fluff in there when I need a break and from like the the really like brainy stuff.

03:39.83

David Blake

Now.

03:45.50

David Blake

Love it.

03:51.40

David Blake

And hence.

03:56.23

Lauren Conaway

Um, but I just I love books and it it begs the question for me, you know, tell us about about BookClub tell us about you tell us tell us about your journey and how you got started in all of this. But.

04:07.71

David Blake

Absolutely Um, so I tell people to know me is that I’m an education reformer by choice and an entrepreneur by Necessity I am absolutely not that kind of natural-born lemonade stand as a kid entrepreneur.

04:25.19

Lauren Conaway

Is sure.

04:27.22

David Blake

Um, in many ways I’m pretty antiethical to that. Um, and kind of the the short version of it all was I was coming through high school competing at the top of my class. An excellent student sat for the actin my case and. I just kind of had my mind blown that that is the dumbest possible way to sort people in and out of their futures and when I was 17 and sitting in this auditorium on a Saturday morning, I just was kind of floored is like this can’t be like for real. This isn’t how we actually. Sort everyone in and out of college and which college and you know this test is half of the equation for if and what college you’ll get into which is sort of half of the equation for what opportunities you’re going to have early in your career and it’s just like you know this can’t be this can’t be real and.

05:16.17

Lauren Conaway

Sure.

05:22.45

David Blake

So I’m old enough it was Pre-google I had to go to the library I wanted to find out where this test came from and um, you know my rural suburban library did not have anything on high-stakes testing but I did find some books on like the history of education and started devouring them. And had an epiphany that would then kind of set the course for my life which was while I was at the top of my class and while I was a straight day student and while I was this really excellent student I had this epiphany that these books were the first thing I had ever studied that a teacher hadn’t assigned to me and I realized. That while I was an excellent student in truth in reality I was a very terrible learner and you know there are some dissonance in that but like once I appreciated that Really what being a good student meant was I was kind of this like product of a system. I began to see it as a system I began to see what it you know, optimized for which is in large part is test-taking and memorizing information and being good at taking tests you know and I didn’t value that like I didn’t value what the kind of um, what this system had turned me into and so I committed to myself that I was going to be a great learner. Even if it came at the expense of being a great student and that kind of set the course of my life I just kept learning about education learning about learning and that’s informed the kind of trajectory of my adult life and can talk more about what I’ve done. You know since I was 17 but that’s what set me off in this direction. Okay.

06:53.43

Lauren Conaway

You know I Love that you you went back to the genesis of your path and there were so many things that you were saying that just resonated with me. So So not a lot of folks know this but in in at least for part of my career. I am not an educator but I actually worked for an organization that promotes experiential learning in our educational systems. You know the fact that exactly what you’re talking about like so many educational institutions they are.

07:12.61

David Blake

Um.

07:22.51

Lauren Conaway

Ah, they the practices in the pedagogy was developed at a time when we were you know Agrarian Society or industrial society, and so we have teachers who have yeah they have been kind of stymied into teaching to the test and producing people who can work in factories. Ah or on farms. When in fact, that’s not our economy.

07:27.62

David Blake

Now movement.

07:37.72

David Blake

Ha.

07:41.85

Lauren Conaway

Anymore And so when you’re when you’re looking to create generations of critical thinkers and entrepreneurs and people who ask questions and people who know how to think, our educational system doesn’t necessarily serve that capacity. And so so I love that that is the genesis of your journey. Um, very cool and I feel like this could be like a whole nother episode. So Let’s let’s stick a pin in that for sure.

08:05.63

David Blake

And in.

08:11.13

Lauren Conaway

Um, but yeah, I do want to talk about what you’ve done since you were 17 Let’s let’s dig a little bit into that. What have you done since you were 17 David.

08:18.46

David Blake

Since I was 17, yeah, and so um, you know fell in love once or twice got dumped went to school. You know, found the the true love of my life. There’s there’s been a lot the relevant resume if you will, so it is all really education-related. Um, I actually had a really hard time figuring out how to springboard into it which I think is pretty normal. Um I didn’t want to be a teacher like it wasn’t I didn’t want to be in the classroom I wanted to you know fix the system and I just as a you know young kid didn’t know how to kind of head off in that direction. So as a management consultant to start. And then my wife went to high school with a guy who was doing a startup and its motto is students are more than a test score and so it was like exactly the note that had kind of struck me and got me so passionate about education and they were creating a platform that helped students to in college admissions represent themselves holistically. So rather than just test scores and Gpa to be able to have this like holistic representation in college admissions. So um, join that we grew that we sold it to check which is now one of the larger publicly traded education companies. After that I helped to launch a university its mission was cost disruption to be the most affordable accredited university and us after that was my first time as a founder and I started a company called degraded which is now a unicorn saas startup. It created a category of software called the learning experience. Platform.

09:36.39

Lauren Conaway

So.

09:50.33

David Blake

Which helps people to track and get credit for all of their lifelong learning. So Our mission was to Jailbreak the college degree and by that we mean, you know, um to make it. Ah so it doesn’t matter how or where. You learned your skills just that you get credit for your skills and are able to transact on them in your career and that is now used by half of the world’s largest companies. Um I actually step down.

10:08.48

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

10:16.47

David Blake

Um, at that point as Ceo to start a political nonprofit so I spent 2 years doing political advocacy and political organizing clipboard in hand across America um, and in 2019 came back from that. Um you know and and this is the doorstep of book. Love and so in my political advocacy work.

10:36.53

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

10:36.40

David Blake

I wasn’t able to sustain the fundraising I had started a political nonprofit called Americans for common ground was out trying to make a difference against what I would say is this like moment that we’re in this, you know, increased tribalism and extremism and misinformation and racism and um. You know all of the the things that have really kind of permeated this cultural moment and you know tried to make a difference on the political front and when I couldn’t sustain that effort um came back and it was kind of the first time in my adult life and career that I didn’t know what was next for me.

11:13.32

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

11:15.37

David Blake

And what kind of led to BookClub I mean there is a couple of threads. But what I would say most simply is you know is you come over that the underpinnings of this cultural moment This nationalism this extremism this. This tribalism this sexism The the racism the misinformation. You know what? Ah, what do all of those things hold in common and really came to frame it as at some level they all have ignorance and a lack of empathy ah in Common. And once I got to that word Ignorance. You know, I really kind of um that was a word you know that that lines up with education and and started to see this as maybe education can make a difference in those in that problem and. You know so I wanted to start working on the kind of education that could Challenge. People’s worldview and the kind of education that could help um, create some compassion and walk you know help you walk a mile in someone else’s shoes and how do you do that? Like how do you do that kind of education and that’s.

12:26.13

Lauren Conaway

Right.

12:29.44

David Blake

Eventually, What got me to the power of great literature and I just think there’s very little um, more powerful than great literature that we as humans have really ever come up with and the power of reading a great book can do those things So very well challenge your worldview and help you see the world through someone else’s lens and walk a mile proverbially in their shoes. And so then you know well how do you do that at scale and as an ah entrepreneur who had scaled Businesses. You know that was the brains soup that came together for BookClub and BookClub is um, author led virtual BookClubs. You can think of it a bit if you’re familiar with masterclass and good reads We see.

13:03.75

Lauren Conaway

Now.

13:06.99

David Blake

Is kind of a ah you know brainchild of of what masterclass meets good reads might look like, and we started it in Covid Twenty-twenty.

13:15.98

Lauren Conaway

So there’s there’s a lot to unpack in in this piece of your journey and what you just said I do want you to know and I want our listeners at home to know that I definitely just texted Jessica who’s one of the producers of the startup hustle podcast and I said and I quote holy shit I love him. So so just know that that happened because as you were talking. There were so many pieces that I was like wait I want to talk about this? No I want to talk about this wait hold on. Can we drill down on this Ah but I think the the correct. Yeah no I really there. There’s so much here to to.

13:35.83

David Blake

Ah, oh.

13:43.86

David Blake

All the things I’ll talk fast.

13:53.69

Lauren Conaway

Delve deeply into first of all, thank you for your work to create because it seems like you have kind of a unifying thread throughout your career. You know you’ve you’ve had multiple startups multiple initiatives that you founded but they all kind of come back to 1 thing. How do we create access for people who haven’t historically had it. How do we share stories and create understanding between people would that be accurate. Yeah, and and that is um, those are some of my favorite things to talk about.

14:15.52

David Blake

No.

14:26.14

Lauren Conaway

But the thing that I want to talk about right now and I feel confident that we’re gonna delve down into some pretty cool shit later. But the thing I want to talk about now is starting BookClub in the middle of a worldwide pandemic you you mentioned you know we’re We’re kind of at a a point of sea change.

14:25.15

David Blake

Good.

14:44.49

Lauren Conaway

Ah, socially speaking sociologically speaking in this country and worldwide. You know we have a pandemic. We are finally kind of paying attention to talking about and trying to address some very deep systemic issues as they relate to isms racism.

14:48.80

David Blake

Natural.

15:01.65

Lauren Conaway

Ah, you know sexism I don’t know all of the isms that are just growths. Um, you know, but we’ve had some social unrest We have all of these things going on and you decided that that was the time to start a startup. What has that experience been like.

15:03.35

David Blake

This is.

15:17.57

David Blake

Yeah, um I don’t want to complicate. What is a little bit of time that we have together but I’m actually the founder and Ceo of two startups. So I started 2 startups in Twenty Twenty So one is called learn in and the other is is BookClub which we’re here to discuss. But um.

15:26.26

Lauren Conaway

Oh Lauren.

15:34.85

David Blake

You know in truth they both kind of just snuck up on me I think I got time back in 2020 like I I used to travel every week I traveled I would take 3 trips every two weeks so it’s kind of one and a half a week you know and then had a commute and when I got all that time back in you know 2020? Ah, you know I was hungry still to be pushing against these um these issues um I really did feel in many ways coming off of kind of my my political advocacy that I had failed in it failed to make the impact and difference I I had wanted you know and was just just hungry to you know like keep pushing on it. We don’t. You know and Twenty Twenty only made so much of that feel more poignant. You know and BookClub was a little bit of the so BookClub was the second startup so learn in was more intentional of I’m going to start this business but I had had this idea. Around BookClub and when covid hit that was kind of this moment of like sort of a shit I can’t I like I just can’t put this off. This is an idea whose moment has come the concept of virtual BookClubs. You know in a pandemic when we’re sheltering in place and quarantining. Um. Like that just felt like an idea whose moment had come and I didn’t want to to kind of miss the window. So that’s how I ended up doing 2 startups at once. Um, you know in 2020.

17:02.58

Lauren Conaway

This amazing. Well, one of the things I think that intrigues me most and I’m going to go back to BookClub here because that is the top startup that that we’re talking about but 1 of the things that i.

17:14.78

David Blake

Nope.

17:18.31

Lauren Conaway

I love about BookClubs and this is not BookClub The the startup this is BookClub as a concept. Um, you know I feel that books much like much like so many cultural touchstones music food. You know things that.

17:22.65

David Blake

Oh yep.

17:34.40

Lauren Conaway

We as human beings as part of the human experience that we we tend to all? Enjoy. Um, they have the opportunity to create community and in in BookClubs are simply an extension of that and so at a time when we can’t necessarily create. You You know that community those human touchpoints and access points in person you know doing so virtually I feel like you kind of hit upon a really fantastic opportunity to continue that work to highlight that opportunity while leveraging some technology to make it happen.

17:55.56

David Blake

Oh.

18:07.70

David Blake

Um, yeah.

18:08.52

Lauren Conaway

Um, how do you feel about I mean is that is that kind of your your thinking in in Bookclub. The the reason behind it tell us a little bit more about that like when you were when you were thinking about starting BookClub What was the opportunity you saw.

18:23.50

David Blake

Yeah, so um, 2 quick thoughts I mean 1 is when covid hit for the first time ever. My family like my parents and my siblings I’m the second of 5 kids. Um my youngest ah sibling she started a family BookClub. Ah, and. You know the power of it was when you actually pick up a great book it poses questions that you just might not otherwise be asking yourself and each other and it led to some of the most um, kind of earnest authentic deep conversations that I’ve had you know with my adult siblings. You know, kind of ever. Um, we get together. we have a lot of fun um we like traveling together. We um, you know I mean we have a lot of fun together but like it it really did catalyze just a different level of conversation and on topics that we might just not otherwise naturally have gotten to I think there’s a real just simple power in that. And I think you know the power of putting it online is you know I actually think BookClubs are a world where there’s an enormous amount of non-consumption and what I mean by that is if you ask how many people would be interested in a BookClub. You know you get a huge overwhelming response and if you ask how many people are actually in a BookClub. It’s much smaller. And I think that’s because in past you know BookClubs were this geographically organized thing so it was typically you know like some friends in a neighborhood or a friend group but it tended to be in people’s living rooms and so it was this like bounded by geography and. The power of the internet and what it’s done for you know now decades is literally giving you the chance to go find kind of your people you know your niche and so you know I have great friends but they might not like reading you know sci-fi I’ve got great neighbors but they might not be interested in. You know, hit and hard political topics.

20:06.13

Lauren Conaway

Grant.

20:14.12

David Blake

Um, but the power of the internet means you know there’s always kind of a ah community out there who is ready to go talk you know, kind of about the the hard topics about our democracy democracy right now or there’s you know people out there that are interested in having that mental health BookClub. Um, and so the power of putting it online is that you can then go find. Conversation. You can find other people interested and sort of earnestly having the discussion. Um, and books have the power to bring us together in community, the power to make what I believe is like really authentic relationships very quickly out of, you know, kind of 2 people 2 strangers when you’re brought together by a great story. Great narrative with hard questions. You know with interesting sort of catalyzing themes and you know one conversation on the back of a great book and you know your friends for life.

21:05.44

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, I love that and and I just feel that creating more connections in this world. You know through whatever mechanisms and means that you can do so you know creating more opportunities for that can only be to our benefit. 

Folks, I do have to pop in here really quick and talk about another thing that could benefit you probably as entrepreneurs. But today’s episode of Startup Hustle is sponsored by fullscale.io helping you build a software team quickly and affordably and you know we love it. We love full scale. Around the Startup Hustle offices. You know they are our producers they are rock stars. We have a whole team of amazing people who make startup hustle happen and Full Scale is such an integral part of that. So thank you for Full Scale. Definitely check them out if you’re looking to bring a tech product to fruition because they’re gonna help you do it. They’re going to take things off your plate. They’re going to make it efficient. They’re going to make it easy and they’re going to make it affordable and accessible which you cannot always say about some tech development firms. 

Ah real quick just ah, just a quick reminder. We are here with David Blake Ceo and founder of BookClub. And up until now, we have been talking about. You know the power of books and connection and the power of access. We’ve talked about a lot of really cool shit. But what I want to talk about now is the tactics. So BookClub, how does it work? Can you take us through kind of the user experience? Tell us a little bit about that.

22:39.75

David Blake

Yeah. Think Goodreads meets Masterclass. And so there are 2 real components to it. So the first is the platform. The ability for you to come on and to create a book group or to join a book group. You can do so around really sort of any genre or topic and we have been launching BookClubs that are available for anyone to join that are typically hosted by an expert a thought leader, a celebrity, or an author. So example, we’ve got Barbara Corcoran of Shark Tank who launched an entrepreneurship BookClub we’ve got Franklin Covey who launched a leadership BookClub. We’ve got the Washington Post journalist Nicole Ellis who launched a BookClub around the kind of current events and critical conversations. 

We’ve got more BookClubs being launched every couple of. Kind of every month and a half at the moment. Those kind of big sponsored BookClubs. But anyone can come on and create a club around any genre any topic or any organization and um, then for each book what we’re doing is slowly building up. Ah, there’s the ability for the community to post. Um, reviews and comments and quotes and insights and questions around each book, and then we as an organization are out there working with authors to increasingly bring authors onto the platform to create kind of behind the scenes content and this is where you start to meet the masterclass kind of side of the vision.

24:14.71

Lauren Conaway

Clear.

24:16.44

David Blake

So we go out and we do kind of full production video with authors asking them about the book going deep on the book giving people the chance to ask questions of them that you wouldn’t really get to hear unless you you know if you live in New York or la you can pop into bookstores when authors are doing their book tours. But. Um, myself having grown up in Middle America, you know I never ever kind of had that opportunity. Um, and so it kind of democratizes that access to the author for the rest of us and so we work with authors and we develop content kind of this behind the scenes go deeper content with the authors themselves. And that library is growing. You know every week every month on the platform.

24:58.84

Lauren Conaway

That is absolutely incredible. Um, so so we have a couple of institutions here around the Kansas City area where they prioritize speaking with authors, and so I’ve been very very fortunate to see folks like Stephen King and the authors of ah Freakonomics and you know have.

25:16.79

David Blake

Oh.

25:19.60

Lauren Conaway

Wozniak at 1 point like just you know and being able to hear an author’s perspective on a piece of art that they have created and I don’t think anybody would imagine that that writing a book is an easy thing to do if it was everybody would do it. Um, you know, being able to hear that perspective and the insight beyond the page I can imagine. It’s really crucial to understanding and appreciating the content that’s put forth no matter the genre I mean it could be sci-fi it could be there. There are always those kind of. Under underpinning themes and you know how can we delve deeper into understanding the concepts presented so that that is super cool. Um I have to I’m going to fangirl here for a minute and I have to ask? Do you have any fun experiences or maybe even just a memorable experience that didn’t turn out like you expected.

25:54.16

David Blake

Now.

26:11.39

Lauren Conaway

Anything like that that you had with some authors that you you’ve worked with.

26:14.18

David Blake

Yeah, let me give you both like kind of a poignant powerful moment and then more of just like a fun one. But so with one of the books that we’ve got on the platform, um read the book and it was all about this. Um, the story of an immigrant family moving to the suburbs of Texas and the theme of the book. Ah was this There’s this like repeating theme of sleepwalking one of the main characters sleepwalks through the whole book. And when I got the chance you know to ask the author like what was that about it kind of changed the whole perspective of the book for me and this is just the power of like what really can be released by getting to connect with the author directly and go behind the scenes and go-go deeper on these same but you know said look the um. The feeling I wanted to elicit for the readers was that of low-level threat. You know he said most immigrants don’t have you know, extremely dramatic stories of how they faced. Um. Racism or um, you know other sort of bigotry or a hatred but you know every immigrant has these stories of kind of the persistent low- level threat and sleepwalking was like a way of embodying that like most of time sleepwalking is benign. It’s.

27:47.97

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

27:47.12

David Blake

You know it’s not that dangerous, but it can be you know and and it was just like this terribly insightful you know overlay to to come on top of the book and you know and so those type of insights I just think you know really do have the the chance to bring things alive in a different way. Um to help you enjoy. Kind of your read and just a much more poignant powerful way. Um, fun. Ah so it’s not released yet. So I won’t say who, but we’ve got, um, one of my favorite comedians. Ah, who is launching a BookClub on BookClub and was able to go behind the scenes when they were touring. Ah, in Salt Lake City where I live and because we’ve been working with them on their BookClub and so got to go behind this behind ah backstage with one of my favorite comedians. Ah, which was just you know a rad experience, and that’s been. The joy of this business I feel like I could do this business till the day I die getting to talk to authors about their works and getting to work with the host who are just such fun and insightful people. Ah you know that’s a whole new world for me as an entrepreneur is is just ah, a person is unlocked.

29:00.29

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, I have to admit I’m I’m a little jealous over here. But you know I cannot imagine someone better positioned for for that piece of the journey now. Oh heck, yeah oh I.

29:00.10

David Blake

Just such fun moments.

29:12.73

David Blake

Yeah, let’s get a started hustle BookClub on it’s new. There is there is more than enough books for us and more than enough authors for us to go get a BookClub going.

29:19.28

Lauren Conaway

I see now I’m going to have to talk to Matt and just be like man come on. Let’s do it with this also could be. There are so many out there I like like I said it’s like 1 of the most beautiful frustrations of my life like no matter how hard I try I’m not going to be able to read all the books ever ever.

29:35.66

David Blake

A.

29:38.28

Lauren Conaway

Even though I want to It’s so frustrating. Ah, now let me ask you this you have created a you’ve created a platform that you know as you as you stated, you know it kind of has 2 goals like number one let’s encourage people to read. And let’s let’s encourage people to connect over that reading. But then let’s encourage people to also delve more deeply and think about their reading material through the eyes of the author through the eyes of other readers. You’ve created. You’ve created an experience around reading beyond the tactile open the book read the words turn the page.

29:53.41

David Blake

No.

30:04.75

David Blake

No.

30:11.42

Lauren Conaway

Um, and that’s that’s truly impressive but 1 of the things that I really really want to ask you is as someone with kind of like the bird’s eye view of some of these experiences and being in it all day every day how have you seen the reader’s experience change. As they engage with BookClub and is they engage with authors they love and books that they love.

30:33.98

David Blake

Sure, let me answer that in a bit of a forward statement like where how I hope we yet change it. Um, we’ve done really cool things already. But here’s what I think is the most interesting kind of opportunity which is.

30:41.37

Lauren Conaway

All right.

30:50.56

David Blake

You know good reads does exist there. There actually is an entire social network already for readers to connect around books you know so like why did the world need anything you know, New. Um, and there’s other book apps and kind of you know track your reading and there’s there’s just a lot out there. Really great. Products. But what I’d say has been missing which I’m really excited by is BookClubs right now. Essentially you kind of disperse you pick your book. You disperse you read it, you know or you don’t sometimes but then you come together for this conversation and. So right now. It’s really only social at the very end of the experience. That’s when kind of this conversation is happening. That’s when like the social the reconnection the convening the friendship the chatter you know, but why not have a social reading experience through the whole book and the biggest. Barrier to that has been for everything. The internet has invented.. There’s actually nowhere for me to go see a place where who’s reading what and how far they are into their reading and the thing you have to fix is spoilers. So That’s what no one who’s reading a good book. Wants is to. Come into some forum or into some chat or into some social platform and have the rest of the book spoiled and so what we’re going to do at BookClub is really start to break down all of the content and the conversations and be able to pin it by where you are in the book so that you can connect with.

32:20.26

Lauren Conaway

Sarah.

32:23.19

David Blake

Other people who are at the same place in the book. So that way you know I mean just think of I don’t know if you are a game of Thrones reader or watcher. But you know when you get to the red wedding. Ah you know like a lot of people want to connect then not you know when they’re done with the book. They want to connect then right then.

32:35.65

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, because there’s such a a visceral reaction to what has happened like at least in the case of the red wedding and as a a G O T you know fan.

32:41.00

David Blake

But.

32:49.66

Lauren Conaway

You know I know exactly what you’re talking about, but there’s like this very like knee jerk like I can’t believe that just happened who can I talk about it with um, you’re exactly right that is.

32:56.45

David Blake

Exactly Yep So That’s what I hope we are going to. We are going to work against the problem until like as you’re Reading. You can be looking at content videos Audios. You can be connecting with people and having conversations, and it’s all kind of protected By. You know everyone’s at the same place you are.

33:16.87

Lauren Conaway

That I I cannot tell you how how powerful like I’m I’m I’m just you know I’m gonna like sign off here and sign up for BookClub like immediately because there are so many things that I’m I’m hoping to accomplish at it. So there is this have you ever heard of Haruki Murakami.

33:25.30

David Blake

Love it.

33:35.83

Lauren Conaway

He’s a he’s a Japanese writer He they’re typically translated So so he he’s what I would call he writes fiction and his fiction work is is very Avant-garde and generally you know I was I was actually an English lit major in in college. So I’m I’m general.

33:36.87

David Blake

Knots That’s ringing a bell.

33:49.50

David Blake

Um.

33:52.83

Lauren Conaway

Pretty good at like breaking down thematic elements and figuring out like tone and things and things like that. But with Mirakami he has this book and it’s called Kafka on the shore and I read this book. You know at least once every year it’s

34:07.40

David Blake

M.

34:08.36

Lauren Conaway

Just beautiful language beautifully presented but it’s a really weird fucking book and I can’t like to this day upon multiple readings like I tell people I’m like please read this book and tell me what you think it means because there are so many odd kind of disjointed pieces of the narrative that I just.

34:14.12

David Blake

And.

34:27.73

Lauren Conaway

Simply don’t understand, and I’ve tried to, you know, read different theses about it and like I just I want to figure out this book and so I swear I’m going to come on to BookClub and I’m going to start a Kafka on the Shore thread.

34:32.63

David Blake

Ah huh.

34:38.19

David Blake

Start The thread Kafka on the shore.

34:41.65

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, cause I just like I’ve gotten I think like 2 or 3 people to read it and like I’m always I always start the conversation like I love this book I have no idea what it means I need you to tell me what you think it means and then I’ll see if I agree and that of course is not an extremely productive conversation. Generally.

34:53.86

David Blake

So yeah.

35:00.69

Lauren Conaway

But um, yeah, like just having the opportunity to kind of break down a book piece by piece, particularly when it’s heavier or more I guess, provocative or even more confusing or opaque in its.

35:10.67

David Blake

Yeah.

35:17.84

Lauren Conaway

Presentation like having the opportunity to create touchpoints around that and talk about like when I have a question. Let’s talk about it then I love that um one.

35:27.28

David Blake

And we’ve been on the journey long enough I’ll just say very quickly. One of the things that sparked is you know we originally set out with this thesis that let’s just you know, go get the author behind every book and you know there’s so many authors and so many books we’ll spend our lifetime doing so but um. We’ve been at this now for coming up on 2 years which is long enough to Appreciate. We’re also finding people are hungry for kind of, at times very critical conversation around the book where like they don’t want the author in the content in the room, you know because they they don’t like the book.

36:04.38

Lauren Conaway

Um, yeah.

36:03.56

David Blake

Or they don’t like you know and some it’s just been an interesting dynamic of you know if you kind of put the author in the room it. It tends to stay polite if you will um and we’re we’re seeing people are also hungry for at times kind of this extra author.

36:12.31

Lauren Conaway

Right.

36:21.39

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, well and I love that too you because I think we all know that it is much easier to be um, critical sometimes rudely so when you’re not presented with that person the individual you’re being rude about face to face and in.

36:21.26

David Blake

Conversation as well.

36:32.50

David Blake

Movement.

36:39.70

Lauren Conaway

So like having an opinion that that’s not being rude and let me let me rephrase like having an opinion and not liking a book that has nothing to do with courtesy or Politeness or what have you so I can definitely see that. Um, so so good on you for for realizing that sometimes not liking a book is part of the experience.

36:43.93

David Blake

Yep yep.

36:56.67

David Blake

Um, yeah.

36:58.87

Lauren Conaway

You know that that’s absolutely beautiful too. Um, you know we’re kind of winding down here, and I have to ask you? Do you know what are you seeing as the future for David Blake I’m going to open up this piece of the conversation and I’m going to say you know we’ve talked a little bit about how the direction that you’d like BookClub to go. But. Tactically, what do you see happening. What do you see with some of your other startups? What is the future of David Blake and his family of companies you serial entrepreneur here?

37:27.00

David Blake

Um, I’ll bring it back to where I started education reformer by choice entrepreneur by necessity I also run ah a micro-school which has been a grand experiment and a lot of fun. 2 of my 3 kids are in that micro-school. It’s an apprenticeship based. Ah. Micro school called BookClub academy all the kids apprentice for BookClub so little have to talk about that one day. Um, I’m working on my second book, which is a political tome and my first one was about skills in education but kind of taking some of the learnings for my 2 years in political advocacy and trying to get that into a book. And um, so always staying busy and more to come.

38:07.33

Lauren Conaway

Well I I wish you so much luck in all of your endeavors because they all just sound so worthwhile and awesome to me. Um, you know I I thank you so much for sharing now I have a.

38:15.21

David Blake

Um, start Apostle BookClub coming 2023

38:22.39

Lauren Conaway

Heck yes, well and also I I want to do an innovator BookClub as well. Like how can we talk about badass women you know autobiographies and feminist theory and like you know all of that stuff. Ah so so you know I I tend to be like an oversubscribed and like an overture, so I’m gonna come in and I’m going to like start 10 BookClubs.

38:40.72

David Blake

Of it ready.

38:41.81

Lauren Conaway

So watch out for that. Ah, but I do have a question, and usually I don’t do this, but this is actually going to be related to the conversation that we’re having at hand just because I love talking about books. But if you were stranded on a deserted island and you could only take 1 book with you. Can’t have your Kindle. You don’t have wi-fi access you have to take a physical book. What would it be.

39:07.81

David Blake

I’ve been asked many times the books that have changed my life. Um, and I’m recency biased here but Lay it is such a beautiful story that I’ve always felt just very anchored in and having now read it. Ah. It could keep you engaged for a very long time which would be important if it’s the only book you have on your Island So with a little recency Bias I’d I’d go with my lamas.

39:29.65

Lauren Conaway

Okay, and and sometimes the one that just hops into your mind is the one that you know that’s the one and and I have to tell you like that is a the story for those of you who have not read lemans like the story of Jean-Val Jean is a complicated and dark and dirty.

39:35.33

David Blake

Nothing.

39:48.87

Lauren Conaway

And at times beautiful 1 Um, so so highly recommend I definitely I can see that it’s it’s a pretty. It’s a pretty thick book so it would keep you occupied for quite some time.

39:49.29

David Blake

E.

39:57.70

David Blake

Ah.

40:03.35

Lauren Conaway

You know I got to tell you David thank you so much for taking the time to sit down with us and chat and and really getting me pumped up and excited now I’m like I just kind of want to you know, fuck off the rest of the day and read and then join BookClub and make people public club. Yeah, but thank you.

40:16.77

David Blake

That’s always a good day Carpe dm.

40:20.73

Lauren Conaway

Thank you so much I mean this has been a really fun conversation for me. Well good. And I’ll tell you, friends, I would be remiss if I did not remind you that today’s episode of Startup Hustle is sponsored by fullscale.io. They can help you build a software team quickly and affordably.

40:25.58

David Blake

Likewise really enjoyed it.

40:39.50

Lauren Conaway

And would also point you I don’t know if you all know this but we have a pretty deep social media presence and one of my favorite parts is Startup Hustle chat. You can find that on Facebook you can and enjoy the conversation talk to hosts like myself Andrew Morgans, the Matt squared, as I like to call them. Definitely check that out. We do continue the conversation there you can find us on Instagram, Linkedin, and pretty much anywhere. Get your social media consumables, and we would love to have you join the conversation and join the hustle. Thanks so much for listening, friends. We really appreciate that you join us week after week. And we will catch you on the flip side.

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