Learning By Listening: The Lessons of Mixergy.com

I have recently become obsessed with the website Mixergy.com. Day after day, the site’s creator Andrew Warner interviews people who are working to build online businesses. Some are fully in startup mode, moving from struggle to failure to struggle to failure – and others have had a great deal of success. Each shares their story.

What Andrew has created is compelling for a number of reasons:

  • His interviews are long and detailed, and he commonly slows people down to ask questions about every aspect of how a business evolved. When someone says, “I partnered with my friend Bob,” Andrew will ask a series of questions about that decision, about trust, about how it worked, and how it didn’t. These are the nitty gritty things that fill the lives of those in business, the anguished decisions of who to work with and the day to day challenges and opportunities of doing so.
  • Andrew finds lessons where others don’t. I will read a story about a business, and it will gloss over the details and create a simple story around why they are great or horrible. But Andrew paints a much better picture – one that is nuanced and full of lessons. While many of us would read a story in BusinessWeek about why MySpace is a flop or Facebook a success, Andrew creates a more realistic picture through his interview style, sharing the evolution, phases, successes and failures within every company.
  • The interviews are inherently positive, with the goal of teaching and mentoring. Even when discussing scandals, Andrew has zero interest in the sound bite or striking anything but a tone of “what really happened, what can we learn from this.”
  • There is something to learn nearly every day. His schedule of interviews is packed, and I see he is ALWAYS looking for someone new to interview. He uses Twitter to get in touch specific people he wants to speak with, and will even put out an open call for folks to come on his show. During the interviews, you see he constantly creates a list of new people to speak with.
  • He involves his audience. This really does seem to be a community he is creating, and Andrew is open about sharing what he is learning as it happens. If he wants to try out a new webcasting tool, he brings us along for the ride and asks us what we think.
  • Andrew has strong beliefs about the many ways a startup can operate, but he doesn’t preach, he simply finds example of example via the real-world experiences of those he speaks with. For instance, the value of partnering in order to realize your dream. This seems to be very important to Andrew, and you see how he asks people about how and why they chose to partner and the effect it had on their business. In general, he focuses on things that empower people to achieve large dreams, avoiding cliche’s that you need venture capital or a trendy idea. He seems to relish speaking with people who build strong but unsexy businesses that are somehow off the radar screens of other writers covering startups and the online space.

To be honest, I feel as though I am just getting into Mixergy, I still have a lot of his videos to watch, and am now planning out my month based on his interview schedule. If you are looking to grow your business online, Mixergy is an uncommon and incredible place to help you achieve your goals.