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How to Start a Major Festival from SCRATCH

Have you ever wanted to start your own conference, festival, or event?

You know, like TomCon, or the Morkes Festival?

Me too.

Stephen Ananics on In the Trenches with Tom Morkes

That’s why I brought Stephen Ananicz onto In The Trenches today.

Stephen is the cofounder of the The Key West Film Festival, and has a background in acting and film production (if you check out his name on IMDB you’ll see him credited in movies like Pirates of the Caribean and Salt, among other blockbusters).

And while his background in film is interesting in and of itself, I really wanted Stephen on In The Trenches today to talk about how he created the Key West Film Festival from scratch.

Creating any sort of festival or conference is a massive undertaking and I really wanted to dig into the details on how exactly Stephen went from idea to finished product on a project with such scale.

As a quick background on the festival:  The Key West Film Festival was founded in 2012 as a nonprofit independent film festival supporting the South Florida art and film community. It’s now going into it’s 3rd year come this November and is continuing to grow in size and popularity.

So seriously, if you’ve ever been interested in creating your own major headline event, this is the interview for you.

What Stephen Ananicz and I talk about:

  • How Stephen’s background in film allowed him an inside look at the film industry and gave him a ton of experience with film festivals
  • How he first created the idea for a film festival in Key West, Florida in 2010
  • How Stephen conducted his initial market research (and why this was paramount to making the event work…pun intended?)
  • What it was like to see the idea snowball to the point of no return (launch or fail)
  • The precise steps for creating a successful festival from scratch (yes, I had Stephen number and organize them for me)
  • How to build the right team for whatever your project is (and why it was essential Stephen got the local community on board)
  • How Stephen tweaked and pivoted the event so it become more productive and successful
  • And much much more


Key West Film FestivalConnect with Stephen and the Key West Film Festival:

Key West Film Festival’s Facebook

Key West Film Festival’s Twitter

Stephen Ananicz on how to start, finish, and ship a massive project:

“STAY FOCUSED ON ONE THING.” [click to tweet]

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Building a Tech Startup from the Ground Up.

john gWe all hear variations of the following phrases – ‘you need to work like a madman to be successful’ OR ‘you need to work hard…and then work harder to get what you want’ but what does that really mean?

It’s easy to say you should ‘hustle’ but it’s a lot harder to ACTUALLY put in the time and effort to make things happen.

Enter John Genovese – a guy who truly exemplifies the word hustle.

John is the co-founder of Polite Persistence LLC. a business consulting and growth strategy optimization firm specializing in helping entrepreneurs and business owners find success faster.

Their flagship product: the Polite Persistence App, is an email application that is, according to John, “The Fastest and Easiest Way to Send Follow Up Emails, Guaranteed.”

In today’s broadcast, we go in depth on why this claim isn’t an exaggeration by showing you how the Polite Persistence App works, how John has bootstrapped his startup from nothing yet has managed to get the attention of hundreds of entrepreneurs and business owners even though they have yet to launch the final product, and the step by step process he’s using to do it.

Entrepreneurs, business owners and creative looking to sell your work – listen up.

The lessons and strategies we talk about apply beyond the scope of Software as a Service businesses to anything you want to sell or promote (from art, to writing, to your own business to a movement of any kind).

So take out your pen and paper and get ready to take some notes.

What John Genovese and I talk about:

  • How John came up with the idea for his tech startup (and why this validated the business model almost instantly)
  • Why following up with people the RIGHT way is so important for entrepreneurs 
  • How to connect with people you admire (by giving them an offer they can’t refuse)
  • How John bootstrapped this tech startup with NO coding experience and NO background in UI, design, or engineering
  • Why John gives away free beta licenses to prospective customers to get them on board (and how this builds his sales funnel)
  • How John prices his products – and WHY he chose those price points
  • Everything and anything Lean Startup – this is a big broadcast and we talk through the ENTIRE process, from start, to finish, to ship, of John’s software business

Seriously, we probably cover a hundred topics on building a startup from scratch, so check out the episode and learn a little something.


John’s startup Polite Persistence


Awesome Quote from John Genovese:


“Anything is possible with persistence and passion”  [click to tweet]


Where You can Find John Genovese Online:

Polite Persistence Facebook


Additional Resources and Links

Lean Startup by Eric Ries

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Jason Andrew Bond: Bestselling Author

In today’s broadcast, I sit down with bestselling author, Jason Andrew Bond.

Jason is a full time fiction writer who has written several novels and short stories.  His first novel, Hammerhead, has over 100 5-star reviews on Amazon (as of this writing), and hit best seller status shortly after its release.

While that’s remarkable in its own right – it’s rare for any author to hit bestseller status, let alone on their first novel – the most remarkable part is this:

Jason self-published and had no massive marketing push for his book.

Everything he did, he did it himself.

Hammerhead made it to bestseller status through word of mouth alone.

THAT is impressive.

You might think this success, so early and so quickly, has allowed Jason to sit back and relax a little, but nothing could be further from the truth.

As you’ll hear in today’s interview, success isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

So if you’re a writer, blogger, author or just curious about the creative process, take out a pen and paper and download today’s interview.  There is a ton of great stuff to learn from here, including…

What Jason Andrew Bond and I talk about:

  • How Jason started writing early in life and the impact it has had on his writing today
  • What it’s like to have incredible success with a first book, and how to deal with it
  • The single most important factor in finishing and shipping a novel (hint: it’s got nothing to do with luck or circumstance)
  • Why Jason’s bestseller Hammerhead resonates with Veterans – and why he donates 25% of all profit to help and support disabled veterans
  • How to develop a creative routine (writers, bloggers, authors, entrepreneurs: listen up!)
  • How to find inspiration to write consistently every day
  • What Jason did to hit Amazon’s best seller list on his first try…without connections or a huge marketing budget
  • The first thing you need to do after you publish a book (this is the difference between professionals and hobbyists)
  • The most important element of writing books that sell
  • Why marketing doesn’t matter – but relationships do
  • The power of a small, passionate list and why it’s even more powerful than a traditional publishing contract
  • Which types of books you should read, and which you should avoid like the plague, if you want to succeed as a writer (I love this recommendation!)

Great Quotes from Jason Bond:

How to be a great writer: “Go home tonight and write for 5 minutes…do that as long as your heart is beating.” [click to tweet]

The key to success in life: “5 minutes a day of writing, 5 minutes a day of reading and you just can’t go wrong.” [click to tweet]

Where You can Find Jason:


More Resources

Nathan Lowell

Zen and the Art of Writing

The War of Art

Robert Dugoni