Framework For Building An Effective Online Community With Expert Guest Lucas Root.
Updated: Apr 15
Building a community makes a business stronger and more profitable. Rather than creating a list of customers, brands with active communities create a conglomeration of advocates - people who are willing to tell their friends about the products they love and the brand they feel close to. However, despite the amazing technology at our fingertips, it seems as though more brands are isolating themselves from their consumers by focusing on dollars rather than people.
Today's guest, Lucas Root, teaches us how to build a framework for an effective community. For brick and mortar businesses as well as online-only businesses. Not only that, but we get deep into a discussion about empowering ourselves to turn the tides of our lives when the path we are on is not aligned with who we want to become. This episode is not only informative but also interesting and surely one you won't want to miss!
For over 17 years Lucas led numerous teams on Wall Street. After establishing a consistent track record of successes, Lucas started his own consulting business. Lucas works with strong brands with a well-funded great idea, who don’t quite know how to execute. Since early 2019, Lucas has had the wonderful opportunity to speak to numerous audiences in North America, Australia, and Europe, as well as partner with both businesses and VCs for mentoring.
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Connect with Lucas: www.lucasroot.com
All right, good morning. And welcome to another episode of the passive income examiner. I'm so excited today to bring this amazing guest Lucas root to the show today. Lucas, thank you so much for joining us.
My pleasure, Lindsay, thank you so much for having me.
It's my pleasure. And I'm excited to hear more about you. Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about yourself?
I would love to I spent 17 years on wall street doing mergers and acquisitions. while I was there, I always have a side gig going on. My first two side gigs were real estate businesses, which helped me become, who I am today. as I decided that it was time for me to make an exit from wall street, I launched a podcast and a blog for food. I was a big foodie still am. and I used that as an opportunity to learn how to create and engage with an audience, kind of like what you do here. And it was an amazing, learning tool for exactly that purpose. I did that for about three years until I got to the point where I was pretty comfortable, that I knew how to, build an audience and engage with them.
Then I closed that down and launched my first, real business, not side gig, as a consultant. and I landed the Pokemon company which I proudly display here over my left shoulder. For those of you who can see this, I landed the Pokemon company as my first client. I've been with them for six and a half years now. along the way, I've also had an opportunity to start several other businesses. at the point at this moment I own six different businesses. I still consult for the Pokemon company as well as several other clients. I have an amazing opportunity to be able to spend some of my time talking to people like you.
Well, thank you. And thank you for, you know, coming here to share your wisdom with all of us and the listeners. Let me, let me ask you, what do you specifically consult on? Um, or maybe it's not specific, maybe it's general, but what do you, what do you help people with?
Yeah. Awesome. I, love the consulting work. I do. Um, I, I consider myself a strategist. I think that the brands that hire me and brands that typically hire me are brands who don't execute. I think that they think of me as a fractional COO.
So essentially somebody to kind of help direct which direction they're going in. They kind of have their vision, but they're not quite sure how to get there. Is that essentially what you're saying?
Okay. If you could, I'm Sorry. Go. Like, where does that fit in with Pokemon? It seems like a large, yeah. Coming, of course, this is probably what listeners are thinking too, but like how does a huge company like that not have direction? It seems very like something more small business owners or, you know, preneurs might struggle with.
You'd think that, if you look at several of the largest c
ompanies in the world, you're gonna see two very different approaches to being successful. Um, everybody's familiar with the Amazon model, Amazon Google, uh, they do 100% of everything internal. Um, they even build their own systems. They'd rather build than buy. So it wouldn't surprise me if in not very Google in fact builds their own, um, operating system for their computers. It wouldn't surprise me if Amazon starts doing that sometime fairly soon too, like to that level of we're gonna do it ourselves. And I respect that and I, and I honor that, and I think that there's a place in the world for that. And they're not my customer, Google, or Amazon. They're not my customer. Now, if you look at the other two, you know, or two of the other, largest, best-known brands in the world, the apple company, and, um, LVMH, these are companies that prefer not to do everything themselves.
And you know, most people don't think objectively about the apple company in that way, but it's true. In fact, the apple company is a little bit a technology company, much more a brand and almost everything they do. Then, they outsource almost everything they outsource, which means that, um, they don't have to focus on the execution of the things that make them a successful company. They outsource execution. And when a company makes the decision to go in that direction, that's where I come in. Um, and the Pokemon company, like the apple company, uh, they outsource their execution.
Very cool. Interesting to know, and that's very, uh, they're very true. You know, there is two ways to go about it. I've seen that as well. So, so let's talk today about one of the strengths that you bring to the table. We kind of chatted about it, prelim, you know, preliminarily before we got on here and that is building a community, obviously, that's important. And clearly Pokemon's done that, uh, very well. So that must be attribution attribution to you in, in your ways. Um, but how do you go about like helping even a large brand, a small brand? Are there any differences between, I guess, let me slow down, cuz my mind just went like exploding with questions for you, Lucas let me just give you what I, instead of rapid fire. Okay. So whether it's a small brand or a large brand, is there any differences in how to build up a community and how to really nurture that space?
Mm-hmm well, yes. Um, there are potentially, um, significant differences, but it's not based on size. Um, although, and, and here's an interesting thing that probably people haven't thought about. Uh, every business goes through pivots every single one, a hundred percent. There there's no such thing as a business that started out thinking that they were gonna be successful at something. And they had $0 in revenue. And when they got to a billion in revenue, they were still exactly on the same track as what they thought, not a, not a one, even Facebook and Facebook is one of the most streamlined stories out there. Even they pivoted, um, every business pivots. I have noticed a pattern in pivots where it happens at predictable intervals. Um, typically the first pivot happens somewhere around 10 times, the first year of revenue. So if you made $10,000 in revenue, when you hit a hundred thousand in revenue, you're probably gonna pivot and it might be a really significant pivot.
You might throw away 90% of what you thought was worth for you and focus on only 10% of that. And then, um, as you continue growing, you're probably gonna pivot again at 10 X again. So you, you pivot at a million in revenue, um, it's it's and each, each of these intervals are predictable. Um, they change, but each of these intervals are predictable. And in the process of going through that pivot, you're not just changing your products, you also change your audience, you change your community, you change the way that you engage with the community. Um, and hope, hopefully you're fine tuning, but that's not always true either. Sometimes you get to the point where you're like, all right, I hit a million and I really am as big as I'm ever gonna get, have to pivot in order to be able to keep growing. And so at that point you're not actually fine tuning. You're throwing spaghetti against the wall again, in order to expand so that you can fine tune again on another pivot.
Interesting. So, so essentially you're saying that whether you're a small business or a large business, it's kind of, I, it just basically means that as you grow, you're gonna have to find new ways to engage. Not necessarily even have to, but it just kind of inevitably will happen, um, in which your community is changing and evolving as well. So how can a brand let's, let's start on a, you know, beginner newbie scale, and then maybe walk through a couple of examples of how that could happen. Like how would somebody really nurture their community space and then how can they even set themselves up? Maybe you can give us some insight to make that transition a little bit more smoother so we can be prepared.
Hmm. I love it. Um, talk to them, you wanna set yourself up for success, talk to your community, get active feedback all the time as fast as possible. There's this is actually the reason why, um, one of the strongest pieces of advice that you'll see floating around in the startup sphere is, uh, get your product into the market as fast as possible, you know, figure out what your minimum viable product your MVP is and get it into the market as fast as possible. And the reason for that isn't so much to get sales, but because the product is your primary communication tool, now that doesn't have to be true, you can have a podcast and have that be your primary communication tool, or you could have, um, a blog and have that primary communication tool, or you could have parties inside your offices once a week, and have that be your primary communication tool.
There are lots of different ways to communicate with your audience, um, depending on where they are and how you have built your business and what your kind of products are. And, um, the, the more of those ways that you engage with the faster, you'll be able to get feedback, feedback on your approach, feedback on, um, who your customer is, which is really important feedback on what your customer wants from you, which is really important. So, you know, get your product out there because that's your first and primary most obvious communication tool realize that it is a communication tool, your product is a communication tool. Um, and then, um, have that con conversation with your customer as often and as quickly as possible.
Okay. And so is there any specific, uh, um, I guess rules, best practices is the best word I could think of to say like in, in sort of how to nurture and build that community to begin with. And another question on that note is like, should we launch a product before we have a community? Or should we have a community before we launch the product? Like, it's kind of, you know, what came first, the chicken, egg
Well, um, awesome question. Maybe we can talk about best practices next, but you caught me with this. When should we launch the product? Um, you have a community. Everybody does. There are probably for everyone who's listening. There are probably an average of 200 people. That'll answer the phone and know your first name when, when you call them. Um, so you have a community and your product through you as a community. Now that relationship is gonna flip flop. At some point, you'll, you'll have a com a relationship with the community of your business, through your product at some point. But when you're first starting out, your product has a, a relationship with your community through you, right? So, um, there isn't really any time when you don't have a community, there may be a time when your product doesn't, but it has a community through you.
Now you have 200 people that will answer the phone for you. And, um, you have 2, 3, 5 employees that are helping you get there, or co-founders, or, or advisors that are all helping you get there. And they have 200 people that will answer the phone for them. So you've already got a community of, let's say a thousand people already right now. Um, if you want to be a successful startup, you need to call every single one of those thousand people, every single one of them on the phone with your voice, spending your own personal time, not automated text messages, because you are right now acting on behalf of your product and your product doesn't know these people. And these people don't know your product, which means you have to make it personal. You have to make it personal. Okay. So you have a community launch your product into your community as soon as possible.
Yeah. I like how you personify the product in a way, like make it, I, I really like the way you're describing this, because I think it's, it's good for people who are just getting started. I think a lot of times, especially it's easy to identify if our product is us, you know? And so when people shun that product so to speak, or it doesn't take off the way we want it to, we get very vested in that feeling as if it's attached to us. So it's really cool how you kind of separate that into its own space, but like, look at it, like you're basically introducing a child into the world.
that's exactly. You're right. Yeah.
I like it. That's great. Okay. So that's, I mean, that kinda actually touches on the mindset piece, which I wanna dive into a little bit too. Um, maybe we can, we'll, we'll get to the best practices, but let's talk about the mindset because that's something that initially we kind of we're gonna lead into. And that was a good segue as far as, you know, how can business owners separate themselves a little bit, pull themselves back from their business and really look at it objectively to be able to help make those decisions that need to be made with clarity.
Hmm. Tough question. BA you you're hitting me with the hard ones, Lindsay.
So, um, start with, and, and this is gonna sound a little bit weird, but it, but it's real and it works start with meditation. Um, a lot of people have a really hard time separating their thoughts from themself. Okay. Um, and meditation is the place where that happens, where you, you spend some time observing the thoughts that pass through your mind as though they're, um, separate from yourself and meta observation. Um, it's, it's a very weird process. The first time you do it, and then it gets comfortable and you settle into it. And you're like, all right, I get this, I can do this. So start with that. The reason you need to start with that is because the process of taking yourself out of, okay, sorry. The, the process of taking yourself out of being in the thought flow is the same process that you have to go through as a business owner. Um, as though you are, you are the executive processing, the observing body inside your thoughts and your brain, your business works the same way. The thoughts flow through your business, the processes flow through your business, the people, the actions, the activities, the products all flow through your business. And in order to be able to separate yourself and observe that as though it's a third party, you have to have that same practice and those same skills that you use when you're meditating your capacity to meta observe.
Very nice. I agree with you a hundred percent. So it doesn't sound weird to me. and I think for anybody listening, who maybe hasn't tried it, it is very effective. I agree. Uh, it's definitely something that gives me clarity and kind of gives me that piece before I, especially when I'm feeling really chaotic or overwhelmed. One little piece though, sometimes I do struggle with, and maybe you can add some insight to that is really, I can get clear on myself and like the processes I wanna put out there, but sometimes I feel disconnected with what maybe my audience is wanting. Let's just say in meditation, you're not gonna necessarily get insight to that. Maybe. I don't know. Maybe you have experience with that, but like, how would you know, um, let's say, for example, let me just get, put a scenario together. Let's say for example, a business owner has launched a product they've reached out to people and it's not going anywhere. They feel flat, you know, that stagnant feeling and they're not sure what the next step should be. Right. Mm-hmm so how does somebody like that know, should I tweak my product? Is it that I'm not talking to the right people? You know, how do they kind of get clarity on that?
Hmm. I love that question. That's fantastic. So, um, there are lots of different kinds of communication tools and you have to think of the out those communication tools, um, objectively. So a podcast, for example, and a product are inherently one way communication tools, right? So you are communicating out. Um, and then when somebody chooses to purchase that product, they're engaging in a one way communication tool back, they're giving you cash for your product. So it's, it's the intersection of two different one way communication tools. And you can draw some, um, you can take some data from that and draw some conclusions based on how that happened and, and you know, whether or not it matched your expectations, but it's still just a one way communication tool. If you wanna have meaningful insight from your audience, that that doesn't come from a one way communication tool, a podcast, an email blast, um, a text message blast offering a product for sale. Those are all one way communication tools. Then you need to open a dialogue. You need to invite a two way communication scenario. So that could be calling people on the phone that could be, um, inviting a group of people to come for a focus group, um, that could be interviewing people. Um, the nice thing about a podcast and a blog is that it gives you an opportunity to interview people. The challenge is that most people who have a podcast or a blog are interviewing other people like themselves, they're not interviewing their customers.
So, um, use your communication tools for what they are, get the information you can from them. And when they're not serving you, you're gonna have to move to a different communication tool.
Yeah, that's true. And you know, it's interesting that we're having this conversation because it seems like recently this has been a hot topic among some of the other guests and just in general, other business owners I've been talking to is how to build that community. And really what's, what's really more fascinating is as people are moving into these online businesses, more and more people, right. It almost seems as though we're becoming disconnected. We're I don't know if we're isolating or if it's just a nature of the online space and in a way it's kind of like a byproduct, but, uh, you know, I think being more mindful of taking that extra step to build that community and, you know, create relationships with people, I think is such a key piece that we're missing, uh, beyond just disseminating information or educate. I think it's really more about like that heart space and like connecting with people beyond the product, even, you know? Um, so can you maybe give some insight onto how like larger brands do that? I mean, it seems like very difficult for something like Pokemon to connect with all of their users, obviously there's millions or billion. So what would a company like that do?
Um, it that's a, that that's less fun. It's less fun because, um, the, the bigger a brand gets the less interested they are in having two way communication. Um, and that's true across the board. I mean, I, how many of you have tried to get a hold of Facebook support? Facebook is a community like a community platform and you can't talk to anyone inside of Facebook. Like there's no one to talk to. There's no way to talk to them. Um, and that's more or less universally true across the brands. They're just, as they get bigger, they're less interested in having two-way communication.
Do you agree with that?
No, I think it's a, I think it's sad. Um, I think it encourages the wrong kind of behavior in the world. I, um, the more disconnected we are, the less, I think, I think that con connection and community are elemental to human and the more disconnected we allow ourselves to be the less human we are.
I agree. That's great. And that's true. It'd be nice to see that change. I mean, just to go on a little bunny trail, it'd be nice to see that evolve and really, it'd be cool to see a company come out that can actually master that two-way communication with people effectively and, and in a way that like doesn't cost them a lot. Cuz I understand, you know, from a business perspective, you end up having to hire people and they have to have these conversations and then you know how to do that. But with the technology that's coming out, who knows like something really magical may come out, you care, I'm interested to see, especially if you're connecting with these amazing people, like what happens.
I think that there are some franchises that do that really well. Um, like, uh, that a lot of the different franchise gyms actually do that really well. Each of the local franchises, you know, maybe it's TKO that you're going to, or maybe it's a CrossFit box. Um, each of those local franchises, those are, uh, you know, a large community of franchises and each of those local ones is a community in, and of themselves. Hmm. But I think the franchise model actually lends itself more to ironically a more human model, a more connected more community model.
Yeah. So let's talk about like some mid-level brands, right. Obviously, on a small scale, it's, a lot easier to engage with people one to one, but mid-level brands where maybe
There's and in fact, you have to.
Yes, I agree. um, if there's a CEO and then they have employees, let's say a car dealership or you know, a, a contractor or something like that, how would a brand like that? Um, maybe what are some best practices that they can apply to their, to their business and how can they execute on those?
Ooh, fun. So, if I were running a mid-level brand myself, I probably would create, a certain kind of event that goes well with my product. I would create it in a way that allows me to go to some of my hotbed areas. Let's say you're a mid-level brand and you're in, um, New York, Chicago, LA, and in other places as well. But let's say 50% of your business is in those three cities. I probably would have, um, a, a flagship store in each of those cities, actual brick, and mortar. Um, I probably would have a, a periodic event maybe quarterly in each of those cities that I personally attend me personally, as CEO I'm there, I'm meeting people, I'm shaking, people's hands. Um, I'm having conversations. I'm allowing my consumers to, to meet me, to talk to me, to share their frustrations, to share their wins and joys. Um, I think that probably is a really good start. And from there you'll come up with ideas.
Do you know what this reminds me of, this reminds me of my dad. So my dad started his business. He has a flooring contractor, but it was like the 1970s when he started. And he got his business going through the chamber of commerce, through networking events and networking events were different back then. It wasn't like it. Wasn't just let me stand up and give you my 32nd elevator pitch. You know, it was you, they, they had mixers, they kind of hung out together. They supported each other, they did community activities together. It was about, you know, really creating this network where you referred business because they bear your buddies, you know? And in a way, it just really symbolizes that to me. I like, I like your message because I agree with you. I think we need to go back to that. Like 1970s, way of communicating before online space was such a thing. Ironically, it's so much easier now because of the online space.
It's so much easier now if you go to the community rep.
Yeah, definitely. Okay. So what are some of the ways that, you nurture community within your businesses?
Just like that? it's funny that you said contracting, I own three retail flooring stores in central California. and then, the number one consistent message that I give to my store managers is to go out, spend time with people in the community, get to know them, get to love them, refer them business, and they will do the same. And that's how you're gonna grow. Just like that.
Interesting. Well, how about that? We just went full circle.
I love it. All right. Good deal. So, I mean, these are all great, great topics to do. Um, is there any other kind of experiences that you can relate to that would share with the audience more in maybe some stories or things that you've seen? How, how building a community was successful for somebody?
Yeah, fun, in my consulting business. Um, and yes, I own lots of other businesses as well, but in my consulting business, I have, have never advertised. Um, if somebody were to go look my website up right now, they would get the the big flashing red thing that says, don't go here cuz your, your security will be compromised. Um, on my website, this is actually very true, cuz I haven't updated my consulting website in over three years and it is still my primary source of income. Um, I get 100% of my consulting business through referrals. Uh, it's been six and a half years and it makes me good money. So build a community, build a community of people that you, that you love, people that you want to support. Um, and, and, you know, take that as seriously as you possibly can and they will support you back, but don't do it because you want them to, to support you, but do it because you love them and you want to support them and, and then do support them.
Absolutely. I have to go on a bunny trail here because
You know, you're inspiring me and you know what, you're really speaking to the people here. Like those of you that are listening to this, if you're a business owner, especially, especially in the online space and you've been listening to everybody else about, you know, how to have social media, best practices, how to have the best online business, how to have, you know, Google this and Google that all of that is wonderful and it works. And there's definitely, no I'm not putting any strategy down. What I'm saying is if it doesn't align with you, listen to your heart and I'm gonna give you an, this is something that's actually been coming up for me. I have hired three business consultants in the last 18 months and they all have amazing strategies. They all do it differently and I've learned all of their strategies, but two of the three don't feel aligned every time I try it out, it's just like I'm pushing myself harder than it just doesn't. It just feels like I'm rubbing myself the wrong way. I guess. I don't know what to say. Like, you know, it just doesn't feel right. It's like sandpaper, like
By razor this morning.
But then there's this one that I keep coming back to and it doesn't involve social media and it just, it literally is podcasting with people here building a community, right. And, and offering that consulting and I keep coming back to it and I find that it lights me up. And the reason I'm saying this is because like if what Lucas is talking about is lighting you up and you're just like, man, that just sounds so nice. I just wish I could, you can he's
You can yeah. Yeah. Four, four of my six businesses are run a hundred percent. direct referral only, no online, no social media, no marketing.
And do you participate in things like BNI or networking groups to build and leverage that community space?
not for, not for consulting. Uh, I, I mean, I certainly could, but, but don't need to but, but yes, my three-floor stores, yes, they're in the chambers. They go to BNI, they go to, you know, whatever they go to, to big store openings and, and spend money. They, they take lunches out on the town and, and overtip their waiters and I'm a hundred percent on board with that. And, and I approve those as expenses.
That's great. Yeah.
Be in there be a part of the community, support the community, share with the community, um, you know, love them, love them enough so that you can't imagine spending your time doing anything other than serving them and they'll serve you back. It will just happen.
It's true. Yeah. I love it. This is great. Okay. So it's just cool. It's cool to have so many different VI diverse guests on the show. I just really did. I just love what I do. This is so fun.
I, want to add to that. I'm not doing that cuz it's not my, because it's my only approach. Um, my guess is that you looked me up and your guests will as well. I have a very robust social media presence. Um, I'm, I'm not it. You know, the 17,000 followers I have on Instagram is not particularly big, but it's strongly middle of the road. Um, I, have 3000 connections on LinkedIn. I absolutely could be using social media in the way that people tell you to use it. I don't, I don't, social media is not out there for me to get business. Social media for me is a platform for me to show air this, to help people out, to build a community of people that I love and want to support and maybe they'll help me out. And maybe they won't and that's okay.
Yeah. Well, and in the end, I think a lot of people are following you because of the connection you made with them. Not necessarily just because you see where I'm coming from. Yeah. So yeah, it just is evidence of your community and of the givingness of that to me anyway. awesome. Well, so Lucas, how can you help people? Like I guess, where can they find you if they do wanna connect with you? If the the website isn't necessarily the best place to go
well, the consulting one, um, Lucas, route.com is updated and is kept current. Um, cuz that's where I share this. And so, um, while I don't need to keep my consulting website up to date, I do need to keep this up to date. Okay. Cause this is important to me, sharing, sharing with you and you're on and, and giving them something that, that, that they want and that they need. And that I've come by through the school of hard knocks. Um, that's important to me and that it, the reward is, is it's self-rewarding.
I wanna backtrack on one little thing you just said, like you mentioned, I think we breezed over it and I think part of it is just coming to me. You mentioned you scratch your start in wall street. Mm-hmm that must have felt like a very UN space. I don't know. Cause it Very much was.
Okay. So how do you get from a space like that, to where you are? I mean, what transformation happened for you?
Well, do you do you share the video?
I haven't but I have considered it. My son is considering being my YouTube manager.
let me share something real quick And I can, I can send this so that you can include it in the show notes.
All right. So this right here is a picture of me and, you can look at the two, you know, side by side, my, my current and that, that past. and again, I'll send it to you. this was my, uh, this was my wedding anniversary in 2013 while I was on wall street, And I look at that picture and I see somebody who's on the doorsteps to death. Um, and thank God, my wife is the same. She looked at that, that man across the table from her at our wedding anniversary. And she said you look like death. that was because I was allowing my wall street career to kill me. it doesn't do it all by itself. You have to open up the door and let it suck you dry. And I did, and I opened up the door and I was letting it suck me dry.
You saw the picture, I was also paying the price for that. Um, and she loves me enough to, push me, to get out, you know, start that food blog, uh, start building your path forward. So we did, we started the food blog and we built that path forward. We learned how to engage with a community. And the next thing we did was start my consulting business and it worked, it took some time don't get me wrong. In my first year consulting, even with the Pokemon, which is an enormous brand. I only made $8,000 that year. But, it was not zero. It was a path and it was a way for me to get out and, that's what I did. it started from a moment of, not so much pain. I, wasn't feeling pain in that body. But when, my wife said to me, you look like death. I mean like that, it, it came down on me like a ton of bricks. I was like, holy crap. I'm, I'm not the man. I want to be, I'm letting my job kill me. And that's not the life I wanna live.
I understand. And can relate. And I'm so grateful for you and for anybody else, who's gone through that transformation. And thank goodness your wife was there to speak the truth on such a poignant day, even.
Yeah, it was our wedding anniversary.
Yeah. That's great. Thank you for sharing. Well, Lucas, you're an amazing guest. You're an amazing human. And I just wanna say thank you. I think the world is better because you're here. And, uh, do you have any last, uh, tips or wisdom that you'd like to share with us before you go?
yeah. Uh, read, read a lot. It's one of the things, even then, it's one of the things that has given me the capacity to make real change, meditate, and read, um, find some time to do some meditation and some reading every single day. It, opens your life up to self-reflection, and self-reflection is the thing that gets us out of everything. Right. Um, you know, this, your guests probably have heard it before. Uh, take it seriously. Read a lot. Meditate.
10, four. Roger that.
All right. Thank you so much for being a guest!
My pleasure. Thank you for having me. This was great.