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Smart Friends

David Senra + Mitchell Baldridge #3: Recap Capital Camp, Lunch with Sam Zell

Tue Jun 27 2023
podcastingentrepreneurshipconferencesenergy drinkscreator economyfocuswritingbuilding connectionsmedia businessholdcospersonal communitytrust


This episode covers various topics including the journey of being founders and creators, supporting the podcast through multiple businesses, the creator economy, Capitol Camp conference, exceptional hospitality at events, energy and passion from attending conferences, intensity and focus in podcasting, dedication to podcasting and building founders, personal audio and writing as powerful tools, learning, conviction, and success in entrepreneurship, monetizing podcasting and building a profitable business, building a media business and combining profitable ventures, content to commerce and building a personal community, focus, holdcos, and entrepreneurship, the power of focus and building a personal network, building a holdco and making connections, the power of writing and sharing ideas, lessons from Sam Zell and building trust, taste, trust, and building connections, promoting the podcast and writing books, repeating what works and finding success, and the commitment to podcasting.


The journey itself is the reward

Humans are not made to be satisfied with reaching a destination. The podcast emphasizes the importance of enjoying the journey.

Supporting the podcast through multiple businesses

The hosts discuss various ways to support the podcast, including starting multiple businesses. They mention Jacoco as an example.

The creator economy and Capitol Camp conference

The episode explores the concept of the creator economy and discusses Capitol Camp as a gathering of finance and business nerds.

Exceptional hospitality at events

The organizers of Capitol Camp go above and beyond to ensure everyone's needs are met. The conference is described as a high-touch boutique service business.

Energy and passion from attending conferences

Attending events and conferences can provide energy and passion, which are superpowers for building an empire. The hosts share their experiences at Capitol Camp.

Intensity and focus in podcasting

The podcast host emphasizes the importance of intensity and focus in podcasting. He recommends reading books by successful entrepreneurs for motivation.

Dedication to podcasting and building founders

The speaker defends his dedication to podcasting and shares the positive feedback received for episode 305. He reflects on the importance of personal relationships formed through podcasting.

Personal audio, writing, and connections

The episode highlights the deep personal relationship quality of personal audio and the power of writing to make connections. It emphasizes the importance of taking work seriously.

Learning, conviction, and success

The episode discusses the importance of learning, developing conviction in one's own opinion, and the journey to success. It explores the evolution of the podcast from casual to serious.

Monetizing podcasting and building a profitable business

The speaker shares their journey of monetizing the podcast and building a profitable business. They discuss the challenges faced during this process.

Building a media business and combining profitable ventures

The episode features Kevin as an example of building a successful media business and combining profitable ventures. It explores the opportunities for creators in niche markets.

Content to commerce and building a personal community

The episode discusses the concept of content to commerce and the importance of building a personal community. It highlights Capital Camp's involvement in deals and the abundance of swag received at the conference.

Focus, holdcos, and entrepreneurship

The episode emphasizes the power of focus in entrepreneurship and discusses holdcos as a business strategy. It explores the trend towards holdcos in the entrepreneurship community.

The power of focus and building a personal network

The episode highlights the importance of focus and building a personal network. It emphasizes the advantages of being focused on one thing and accumulating friends instead of enemies.

Building a holdco and making connections

The episode focuses on David's goal of building a holdco and other projects. It highlights the meaningful connections made at Capital Camp and the usefulness of the conference app.

The power of writing and sharing ideas

The episode explores the power of physical books, the difficulty in finding certain books, and the importance of sharing knowledge. It reflects on the passing of Sam Zell and his impact on younger entrepreneurs.

Lessons from Sam Zell and building trust

The episode shares lessons learned from meeting Sam Zell and emphasizes the importance of trust in building relationships. It reflects on Sam Zell's life and his enthusiasm for his work.

Taste, trust, and building connections

The episode discusses the role of taste in building trust and connections. It highlights the importance of having excellent taste and how it can lead to unique experiences.

Promoting the podcast and writing books

The episode suggests strategies for promoting the podcast, including creating a secondary podcast feed dedicated to writing books. It emphasizes the power of providing valuable information to increase sales.

Repeating what works and finding success

The episode encourages repeating what works and finding joy in the journey. It shares insights from successful individuals who have achieved extraordinary success through focus and dedication.

Conclusion and commitment to podcasting

The episode concludes with a commitment to podcasting and the goal of saving the world for the next generation of tech entrepreneurs. It encourages listeners to engage with previous episodes and invest alongside the speaker's investments.


  1. Introduction
  2. Supporting the Podcast and Energy Drinks
  3. The Creator Economy and Capitol Camp
  4. Exceptional Hospitality at Capitol Camp
  5. Energy and Passion from Events and Conferences
  6. Intensity, Focus, and Podcasting
  7. Dedication to Podcasting and Building Founders
  8. Personal Audio, Writing, and Connections
  9. Learning, Conviction, and Success
  10. Monetizing Podcasting and Building a Profitable Business
  11. Building a Media Business and Combining Profitable Ventures
  12. Content to Commerce and Building a Personal Community
  13. Focus, Holdcos, and Entrepreneurship
  14. The Power of Focus and Building a Personal Network
  15. Building a Holdco and Making Connections
  16. Building a Personal Community and Leveraging Connections
  17. The Power of Writing and Sharing Ideas
  18. Lessons from Sam Zell and Building Trust
  19. Taste, Trust, and Building Connections
  20. Promoting the Podcast and Writing Books
  21. Repeating What Works and Finding Success
  22. Conclusion and Commitment to Podcasting


00:00 - 06:42

  • Humans are not made to be satisfied with reaching a destination, as the journey itself is the reward.
  • The podcast host introduces his guests, David Senra and Mitchell Baldrige.
  • They recap their experience at Capitol Camp, a conference in Missouri.
  • They discuss what they learned from various speakers, including Jocko Willink and Sam Zell.
  • David yells at Mitchell and the conversation touches on the highs and lows of being founders and creators.
  • Capital Camp is described as a small conference for investors and business nerds.
  • The podcast host mentions his involvement in Rolling Fund, an early stage tech fund he manages with partners Al and Bo.
  • He highlights some of the companies they have invested in, such as Aylo and a next generation battery company.
  • Listeners are encouraged to join the fund if they are interested in supporting transformative companies.
  • The podcast episode concludes with a conversation about Jocko Go, an energy drink started by Jocko Willink.

Supporting the Podcast and Energy Drinks

06:12 - 12:14

  • The podcast host and his co-host discuss various ways to support the podcast, including starting multiple businesses.
  • One of the businesses mentioned is a company called Jacoco that sells energy drinks.
  • The host shares his personal experience with caffeine addiction and how he discovered Jacoco's energy drinks through another podcast.
  • He praises Jocko for expanding his distribution network and creating a successful business in a short period of time.
  • The host mentions having insider knowledge about the production costs and scale of energy drink businesses.
  • Several examples of successful energy drink brands are mentioned, such as Rockstar, Red Bull, Five-Hour Energy, and Monster.
  • The connection between energy drinks and podcast creators is discussed as a current trend in the creator economy.

The Creator Economy and Capitol Camp

11:48 - 18:15

  • The podcast hosts discuss the idea of the creator economy and how individuals can establish their own domain expertise.
  • Jeremy Giffon, a favorite Twitter follow, is mentioned as someone with interesting insights on the topic.
  • The conversation shifts to a black market for energy drinks at school, where kids are paying up to $20 per bottle for certain brands.
  • The hosts reminisce about their own early entrepreneurial ventures, such as selling candy and cigarettes in middle school.
  • They talk about the importance of fostering entrepreneurship in young people and how it can lead to long-term success.
  • Capitol Camp, an event organized by Brent B. Shore and Patrick McShaughnessy, is discussed as a gathering of finance and business nerds in Columbia, Missouri.
  • The hosts praise Clayton, who runs Capitol Camp full-time, for his thoroughness and organization.
  • A late-night encounter with Clayton and other members of the Capitol Camp crew highlights their dedication to ensuring everyone's needs are met.

Exceptional Hospitality at Capitol Camp

17:45 - 24:14

  • The organizers of the conference go above and beyond to ensure everyone's needs are met
  • They had a throat-lozenge guy on hand to help a participant with a sore throat
  • Clayton and his team work tirelessly to plan and execute the conference
  • The conference is like a high-touch boutique service business with exceptional hospitality
  • The mix of people at the conference makes for interesting conversations and networking opportunities
  • Attending the conference can be inspiring and lead to new friendships and meaningful connections
  • A one-day event may not have the same impact as an immersive multi-day conference

Energy and Passion from Events and Conferences

23:44 - 29:19

  • Attending events and conferences can provide energy and passion, which are superpowers for building an empire.
  • Meeting podcast listeners in person was a cool experience, and they expressed gratitude for the podcast.
  • The speaker lineup at the conference included a billionaire who bumped the podcaster from his opening talk.
  • The conference ended with a surprise trip to a beautiful farm for a cookout and fireworks.
  • The podcaster encouraged someone to listen to his podcast because it could give them an edge in competition.

Intensity, Focus, and Podcasting

28:51 - 34:48

  • It is important to listen to the podcast 'Founders' if you want to compete successfully.
  • David Senra is described as a maniac on a mission.
  • The intensity and authenticity of the podcast host's energy translates into real-life interactions.
  • The host encourages others to bring the same intensity and focus to their work.
  • Reading books by successful entrepreneurs can be motivating and inspiring.
  • Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy is recommended for its powerful messages about excellence in advertising.
  • David Ogilvy's confidence stems from his extensive experience and expertise in advertising.
  • The podcast host's thesis has remained consistent over time, with minor changes in tactics.
  • The host is committed to his mission and takes podcasting seriously, including reading every day.

Dedication to Podcasting and Building Founders

34:22 - 40:51

  • The speaker defends his dedication to podcasting and reading every day.
  • Episode 305 received positive feedback from impressive people.
  • The speaker relates to the hunger and desperation of young Lyndon Johnson for political power.
  • The outro of the podcast reflects the speaker's feelings about building founders and making podcasts.
  • The speaker considers podcasting a miracle and is grateful for the opportunities it brings.
  • Personal relationships formed through podcasting are underrated.
  • Handwritten letters can have a personal touch that scales differently than audio content.

Personal Audio, Writing, and Connections

40:26 - 46:33

  • Personal audio has a deep personal relationship quality that is underrated.
  • Having a podcast can serve as a calling card for high-performing individuals.
  • David gives a fuck about what he's doing and makes it easy to interface with him.
  • Patrick has a gift for naming things and looks for maniacs on a mission.
  • High performers in various industries often seek out other A players to connect with.
  • Writing can be a powerful way to make connections and demonstrate passion.
  • Casual approaches to work are not interesting; professionals who take their work seriously are preferred.
  • Distribution-led businesses can benefit from writing and sharing ideas publicly.

Learning, Conviction, and Success

46:11 - 52:00

  • Writing in public and getting feedback quickly is a great way to learn and improve.
  • Invest Like the Best podcast episode with Sam Hinkie, 'Find Your People,' is highly recommended.
  • Sam Hinkie's approach to writing and working on long-term projects is admirable.
  • Being alone in your opinion for a long time can be a sign of conviction and dedication.
  • Building relationships through podcasting enhances connections with listeners.
  • The journey of developing conviction in one's own opinion can be nonlinear but rewarding.
  • Initially, the podcast was casual, but it became more serious over time.
  • Making money from podcasting was not initially expected or considered.

Monetizing Podcasting and Building a Profitable Business

51:42 - 57:45

  • Initially, the podcaster didn't think they could make money from it.
  • There was a belief that you needed at least 50,000 listeners to monetize a podcast.
  • The podcaster had a strong internal passion for podcasting and received external indications of success.
  • Solo podcasts have a more intense following compared to podcasts with multiple hosts or recurring guests.
  • The podcaster had faith in their ability to figure out how to make money from podcasting.
  • It took two years for the podcaster to stop losing money and start making a profit.
  • During this period, the podcaster faced financial stress due to having a family and decreasing savings.
  • The podcaster became serious about podcasting in 2020 and has maintained a consistent upload schedule since then.
  • The podcaster prioritizes podcasting over socializing and is dedicated to producing episodes on time even when sick or during travel.
  • The podcaster finds excitement in dedicating entire days to reading and creating podcasts.
  • Conviction in pursuing podcasting as a career grows stronger over time with trial and error and self-discovery.
  • Once bills were being paid consistently, the podcaster decided they would never do anything else professionally.
  • Leaving traditional employment offers more opportunities when responsibilities are minimal, allowing for simpler living while pursuing independent work.

Building a Media Business and Combining Profitable Ventures

57:17 - 1:03:42

  • Kevin is an amazing example of a young entrepreneur who started with a blog and grew it into one of the biggest gardening media brands in the world.
  • He realized that his media business would cap out at a million or two, so he started selling products based on audience demand.
  • The majority of his business now comes from selling products related to his content.
  • Kevin has taken on outside capital and made three acquisitions to grow his business even further.
  • He believes that creators can accumulate entire categories by combining profitable media and e-commerce businesses.
  • The addressable market for lead creators in certain niches can be as high as 50% over time.
  • There are many opportunities for creators to buy or start businesses in niche markets and create a large moat around their content.
  • Kevin shared a story about how wearing a brand's hat every day for six months helped build trust during an acquisition process.

Content to Commerce and Building a Personal Community

1:03:21 - 1:09:08

  • A story about a person wearing a brand's hat for six months as a small gesture of support
  • The importance of small gestures that mean big things
  • Capital Camp's understanding of content to commerce
  • Recommendation to listen to Patrick from Invest Like the Best podcast episode on content to commerce
  • Colossus provides transcripts for founders' websites
  • Capital Camp's involvement in deals, including Barstool and Dug DeMuro and Cars and Bids
  • The abundance of swag received at Capital Camp
  • An interesting concept called 'power leak' discussed by Zach, related to focus and limiting distractions
  • 'Focus is a superpower' and its impact on successful entrepreneurs
  • Interest in reading biographies on founders with holdcos
  • The absence of holdco-related episodes in the podcast list

Focus, Holdcos, and Entrepreneurship

1:08:52 - 1:15:15

  • Most successful entrepreneurs focus on building one world-class business instead of multiple mediocre businesses.
  • Holdcos (holding companies) are often formed when a business generates excess cash that cannot be reinvested into the core business.
  • Focus is underrated and can be a superpower in entrepreneurship.
  • Building a good business, hiring talented people, and learning are long-term games.
  • Podcasts have the advantage of being immune to regulatory risks and cannot be easily undone by external factors.
  • The trend in the entrepreneurship community is leaning towards holdcos, but there are relatively few examples of successful holdcos among great entrepreneurs.
  • The speaker emphasizes his commitment to focusing on one thing and not being distracted by what others do.

The Power of Focus and Building a Personal Network

1:14:47 - 1:21:13

  • Having focus is crucial in podcasting and other endeavors.
  • Treating podcasting as a side thing and being distracted by multiple projects can hinder success.
  • Being focused on one thing can lead to significant advantages.
  • The internet has made it possible for individuals or companies to be either very small or very big, with the middle ground being less viable.
  • Building the number one best podcast in a specific niche can yield greater benefits than being on a lower spot in the rankings.
  • Power law people, like Robert Moses and Lyndon Johnson, achieve extraordinary success by focusing intensely on their goals.
  • Accumulating enemies can have long-term negative consequences, so it's better to accumulate friends instead.
  • To achieve great success, one must be willing to make sacrifices and devote everything to their goal.
  • Insane levels of focus are characteristic of highly successful individuals like Robert Moses.

Building a Holdco and Making Connections

1:20:56 - 1:27:56

  • David is focused on building a holdco and other projects that all fit together.
  • The goal is to complete these projects quickly and effectively.
  • David's podcast will remain his focus, but the other projects will generate significant income.
  • Favorite parts of capital camp include Gabe Laden's talk on work culture and David's meta open letter about AI.
  • Private conversations at capital camp were meaningful and built trust quickly.
  • Eric also had positive experiences with programming and meeting family offices.
  • The capital camp app is a useful tool for organizing connections throughout the year.

Building a Personal Community and Leveraging Connections

1:27:30 - 1:33:27

  • The value of having a personal community of vetted people is high
  • Building a network of people who can solve interesting problems is important
  • Advertising on the podcast requires knowing and vetting the founder
  • Filtering for high-quality individuals in a network could be valuable
  • Having access to contact information of vetted individuals is valuable
  • Personal connections at events like Capital Camp can lead to exciting interactions
  • Meeting someone you've been aware of for years can be thrilling
  • Considering publishing books through Stripe Press

The Power of Writing and Sharing Ideas

1:38:43 - 1:44:31

  • The speaker discusses the power of physical books and expresses interest in publishing a book
  • There is a mention of Bernard and the difficulty in finding information about him, but someone has been translating French biographies about him
  • The speaker praises Straight Press for republishing books that were previously hard to find
  • A book called 'Port Charlie's Dominique' is mentioned as one of the most formative books the speaker has read
  • The lack of Kindle or digital versions for certain books is highlighted, leading to the need to scan physical copies
  • The speaker mentions Sam Zell's recent passing and reflects on their meeting and podcast episode with him
  • Sam Zell was known for his dedication to sharing knowledge with younger entrepreneurs
  • The speaker talks about reading a book that influenced Sam Zell's life and how he felt an obligation to repay that knowledge
  • The cancellation of a scheduled dinner with Sam Zell due to his illness is mentioned, unaware at the time that he would pass away soon after
  • After sharing lessons from meeting Sam Zell on a podcast, the news of his death spreads quickly

Lessons from Sam Zell and Building Trust

1:44:06 - 1:50:27

  • Received numerous messages and emails about Sam's passing after discussing him on the podcast
  • Grateful that more people now know who Sam was and his important lessons
  • Felt guilty for taking two hours from Sam when he didn't have much time left
  • Sam wanted to invest in spreading his lessons through the podcast
  • Optimizing for freedom was a key lesson from Sam, allowing control over what you work on and doing what you love
  • Sam prioritized freedom over money or prestige
  • Sam lived life to the fullest and had fun
  • He bought a generational business and was excited about it
  • He wanted to give away money to charity but made money faster than he could give it away
  • His enthusiasm for his work was contagious
  • Doing something you're interested in makes it easier to connect with others

Taste, Trust, and Building Connections

1:49:57 - 1:56:04

  • Building relationships is easier when you have shared interests and a similar calling card to the world.
  • The editing and taste in someone's work can reveal a lot about their personality.
  • Jeremy Gaffal has become known as a tastemaker, propelling him into a world of people who admire his discernment.
  • Jeremy's unique life experience and talent have attracted many people who want to work with him.
  • Rick Rubin is trusted for his taste and has access to unique experiences because of it.
  • Jay Z invited Rick Rubin to work on his album because he trusted his taste.
  • Good taste exists and can be seen in the decisions made by successful individuals like Steve Jobs.
  • Having excellent taste allows people to trust you at scale.

Promoting the Podcast and Writing Books

1:55:39 - 2:01:21

  • The speaker suggests promoting the podcast in a similar way to how Lyndon Johnson campaigned, by working harder than others on promotion.
  • The speaker mentions that their tweets receive high levels of engagement compared to their follower count.
  • The speaker encourages the listener to create a secondary podcast feed dedicated to the books they are writing as a way to promote and engage with their audience.
  • The speaker believes that sharing micro lessons from the book on the podcast feed can help warm up the audience and increase book sales.
  • The speaker references Ogilvy's idea that providing helpful information in ads can lead to increased sales.
  • The speaker suggests testing new strategies for podcast distribution that other business podcasters are not currently doing.
  • The speaker emphasizes the importance of focusing more time on writing books, as it can lead to additional book publications and a larger audience.

Repeating What Works and Finding Success

2:07:02 - 2:13:00

  • Reusing what works is not complicated and should be embraced
  • Reposting popular content can perform even better the second, third, fourth, and fifth time
  • Stick with what works to hold ourselves accountable
  • Finding a climb that you enjoy is more important than reaching a destination
  • The journey itself is the reward
  • Novak Djokovic's success in tennis is attributed to his love for hitting the ball

Conclusion and Commitment to Podcasting

2:12:36 - 2:16:06

  • He's tied for number one in tennis grand slams.
  • Many podcasters have misplaced motivation.
  • The speaker enjoys making podcasts and will continue doing so indefinitely.
  • The speaker values durability over growth.
  • The goal is to have the best audience, not the biggest audience.
  • The speaker aims to save the world for the next generation of tech entrepreneurs.
  • Listeners are encouraged to check out previous episodes and invest alongside the speaker's investments.
  • A call to pay attention to the leverage possible in modern society and get involved in the revolution.
  • A reminder to take quiet moments for oneself and breathe deep.