He did this. Now he invests millions (ft. Landon Campbell)

Landon Campbell: I think a lot of people, they just wanna wake up one day and assume that I'm gonna have my dream job. Really gotta do the work first. I was hyper obsessed with working and a lot of my friends didn't get it. Everything I've done in Chicago has just been from the ground up. That has already shown me that the sky is the limit Landon Campbell, Landon Campbell, an auditor to talk to you, Wayne.

We're trying to do something new, take on a new job, or move to a new city. Sometimes it might be easiest to like just go heads first into it. How difficult. Following this advice for you? I got laid off. I never said I wanted to be a venture capitalist. You know, it became whelming cuz you can't like beat multiple people up on time.

How do you invest? I feel like there are so many investors that are just so lazy. I wanna be a friend, therapist, confidant. Um, like I, it's more than just, you know, investing. Are you, are you happy with where you are today?

Paul Scherer: Welcome to this week's episode of Up Next. Today we're talking with Landon the host of the In Their Twenties podcast, where he talks with really, really successful people like Steve Wasniak, the co-founder of Apple, to learn what they did in their twenties and also the general manager, at Drive Capital's seed, Chicago Fund.

Basically the person. does all the decision making on in which companies to invest and how to allocate the funds capital.

During his time at DePaul University, Landon did 10 internships, a crazy number. He almost worked full-time through his entire college time.

What this together with all the lessons he learned from his podcast interviews, changed in his life and what impact this had on, on his career.

That is what I wanted to find out and wanted to share with you.

Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Up Next. If you do Enjoy, please rate on Spotify, apple Podcast or wherever you happen to listen. yeah, let's dive right into it. This is up next. It's Landman Campbell.

Good to see you, Landon. How are you doing?

Landon Campbell: Doing good, man. Happy Monday.

Paul Scherer: How would you explain what you're doing for a living, uh, right now to a 10 year old?

Landon Campbell: Yes, great question. Um, so I work for a venture capital firm where we invest early, like we're the first investors into companies that eventually, um, can do really special and big things. Um, so I'm building out our office in Chicago, so I'm looking for early Chicago founder. People who have big ideas, um, have unique experiences and all they need is money to get to the next step.

Uh, so I'm investing in those individuals. And then I also have a podcast where I interview successful people about what they did while they were in their twenties. So not what they're doing today, not all the money they're making, not all the success that they're having, but back in their twenties, back when they did not have their lives figured out, back when they were confused on their journey.

I interview people to talk about their.

Paul Scherer: Awesome. That's a great, great answer to that.

Landon Campbell: Yeah. And I love the, um, I love the answer like you're speaking with a 10 year old, because sometimes, uh, that can be difficult to do. But I think, um, for the most part, when it comes to storytelling and explaining something, you should have it so that a 10 year old can understand it. And also a 90 year old, um, someone who's been in the field for a long time, someone who has no idea what venture capital.

Podcast again. So it's still a challenge to me sometimes, but, uh, you're right. I mean, you, you do need to kind of break things up like that.

Paul Scherer: Yeah, that's it. It, it is a challenge for almost everyone I talk to cuz. we are so used to talking about the things we do with the people that are also in the field and like, know everything. Um, but yeah, it was a, a great answer. You actually, um, you actually grew up in Oakland, in the Oakland

Landon Campbell: Yes, totally.

Paul Scherer: so close to Silicon Valley.

I've heard you say more than once during research, how like this uh, influenced you during

like the exposure to entrepreneurship, especially.

Landon Campbell: totally

Paul Scherer: still moved, um, and, and you're to this day, in Chicago, um, how hard was this step?

Landon Campbell: difficult. You sure? I mean, yeah. I'm not special in that sense. You know, I'm many college theaters move to a new city where they don't have any family, no friends. Um, but I mean, I think a lot of people are scared to do that also in their twenties, and I felt like, okay, I'm in, I've been in this place my whole life, the Bay Area, Oakland, and I love it and my family's there.

And obviously, you know, never wanted to be away from my family. Um, I talked to my mom like five times a day anyway, though. But, um, my point is like, uh, if, if you are young, um, and you're looking for the perfect time to try something new, sometimes that first big step can be for college. Um, . Yeah, I, I, it's nice that I was able to do it when I was 18 and I think I could easily do it again.

Um, now that I became comfortable and have proven that I could build something special in a new city where I don't know anybody, um, don't have any connections, everything Everything I've done in Chicago has just been from the ground up. So, um, that that has, uh, really shown me that the sky's the limit and there's so much opportunity out there.

You just have to go out and get it.

Paul Scherer: you, What were you looking for when you, when you moved, what was like, what's the bad side of, of Silicon Valley growing up there? Why didn't you just stay?

Landon Campbell: Yeah, that's a great question. Um, I think that, and this is one of the many reasons why, um, you know, I wanted to move. I think so much success has been seen in Silicon Valley, which is good. I mean, many of the companies that have gone to, um, you know, improve, make our lives much more, um, easier and efficient, um, have been started in Silicon Valley.

So Silicon Valley, I mean, has already had its time to prove to the world. Um, you know, the. Slash how many companies can come out of this area? I mean, uh, many startups again, like started in this area. So, you know, I was looking for a city where I could move and sure. I didn't know exactly like the specifics of my, the next few years, like what I'd want to do, where I'd work.

But I knew I wanted to move to a city that, um, yeah, like, you know, had enough resources but not all the attention in the world. And that is Chicago. Cuz Chicago is a very overlooked place when it comes to entrepreneurship, when it comes. , um, technology and startups, which is ironic because a lot of culture and a lot of, um, talent is in Chicago.

I mean, there's a lot of cool stuff that happens in the Midwest and everybody knows of Chicago. Uh, but I, I saw a gap for sure, um, and still see that to this day. Um, we have a long ways to go in Chicago, but I'm now, uh, just really fortunate that I can be one of the contributing forces that helps, uh, build the city rebrands the.

Um, and maybe it has the city compared to Silicon Valley. One day

Paul Scherer: You've been in Chicago for like six years. Uh, right.

Landon Campbell: about six. Yeah.

Paul Scherer: six. That's, that's a, and, and then during those six years, you built, basically everything, right? Like to what you have today.

Landon Campbell: Yes.

Paul Scherer: your for, for someone moving to a new city, starting from zero right now, to, to and professional?

Landon Campbell: Yes. Yeah. So first off, um, I talk about this a lot. It's called working backwards. I think like when we're trying to do something new, take on a new job or move to a new city, sometimes it might be easiest to like just go heads first into it. Um, and, you know, let the universe, um, Kind of figure it out, out for you.

But whenever I take on something new in life, I always like to work backwards. So if I'm taking out a new job, I don't need to know exactly like how long I wanna be at that job, but I do like to say, okay, like what do I want to get outta my first year? Specifically what I want to get outta my first two years specifically, or if I join a club or an organization on campus, like, what do I want to get out of this?

Okay, so I'm all for like doing a lot of stuff in your twenties. See what you like, see what you don. , but at least before you go into something, try and work backwards and actually write down the specific, um, um, and it's, it could just be guessing too, but like what do you want to get outta this opportunity?

Um, and I think like if you're now in doing something for a month, doing it for half a year, doing it for a year, and you are not touching on any of the stuff that you originally planned on doing, um, that might be a problem. That might be time to change in what you're doing. Um, you know, seek different mentors maybe in the organization, talk to someone about like how you can get closer to accomplishing your specific goals.

Um, because when it comes to goal setting, like I'm all for transferable skills, and you only do that by making sure that you're setting these specific goals going into something. Um, and then at the end, like when it ends, you're able to say, okay, like I gained this specific skill from this opportunity and I can now bring it over here to this next one.

Um, so you gotta work backwards. And that isn't like a principle that I. Um, Amazon, uh, I think Jeff Bezos really, um, has a working backwards type culture, um, at Amazon that he, uh, implemented there early.

Um, so again, like take ownership over your own life. Know what you want to get out of these certain things. Um, and it can be as simple as you know, which, um, like clubs to join all the way to which, um, jobs to join. Like know specifically what you want to get out of these opportunities.

Paul Scherer: I often talk about intention and I feel like this is really, really such a big thing.

Landon Campbell: Yep.

Paul Scherer: thanks for sharing that.

Landon Campbell: Yeah, no, I think intentionality is super important. I believe that too.

Paul Scherer: Yeah, agreed. During, during high school, one of your things was directing and even play riding for theater. If I had asked, um, one of your high school teachers, um, back then, how would they describe you?

Landon Campbell: Yeah. Well thanks for doing your research. Um, I think that, yeah, I spent so much time in theater. It was, um, really how I built my personal brand, like in high school. So I think, yeah, many of my profe or teachers at the time, uh, would've guessed that I'd be doing something along the lines of, uh, theater. But this is an example of working backwards.

Like I knew, I, I felt like I got everything outta theater that I wanted to get out of it. Um, and uh, going into college, I just knew I wanted to try something new theater's what brought me to DePaul. But, um, you know, I kind of had this quarter life crisis early and said I wanted to do something new, like something to.

And get closer to maybe some of my other interests, entrepreneurship, et cetera. So it's so important for me to take those transferrable skills and put them into what I, you know, started with, um, at the beginning of college. Um, so when I was able to look at theater and say, okay, what did I get from these experiences?

I said, public speaking for sure. Creativity, um, you know, like collaboration. , um, critical thinking. Like these are a lot of skills that I still use every single day from theater. Um, so that helps me be a little more intentional about my next move, like what my next internship looked like, um, what the next opportunity I went to pursue looked like, uh, because I had these transferable skills and then I was able to start something new and say, okay, let me use these, but then also work backwards like, for this next job, what do I want to get out of this?

And the first job I. My freshman year, I was an unpaid internship at this, uh, social media marketing company. Obviously nobody wants an unpaid internship, and that was tough, but I knew like I had no resume. Um, I had no connections. I had to start somewhere. So that's another, another example of working backwards, um, where yeah, like again, I didn't walk into that saying, I want this unpaid internship.

Like, go ahead first towards it. No, I said I'm taking this because. Um, it will help get me to this next job, which will help get me to this next job. So it's not like we have to have tunnel vision. Like I need to know exactly what I wanna do in, you know, by next year in two years and 10 years. But I think it is important to at least work backwards, um, and try and get closer to at least, you know, the.

Passions that you really want to do full-time. So for me, I never said I wanted to be a venture capitalist until maybe like two years ago, but I always knew I've loved entrepreneurship and working with founders and VC is a vehicle to do that. So, um, I've been very intentional about getting to where I am today for a while.

Paul Scherer: I, I'm curious, what do you think was your, like, definition of success going into university? Like, what's the idea? What do you think success mean?

Landon Campbell: Yeah. How I worded it, I mean, how I've been wording it since freshman year is be able to, um, well, experiential learning. So I, I'd have my classes and do well in the classes. , but also I wanted to be able to do these other things like outside the classroom and use those skills from what I was learning in the classroom, um, in these internships, experiential learning opportunities, and then vice versa, be able to take the skills from the internships outside the classroom and bring 'em back into the classroom.

So that's always been how I measured success in college. Um, I never went into it saying like I wanted to have 10 internships, which I. Never went into it saying I wanted to be working at this company. Eventually it was more, um, working backwards. I wanna be able to continue to grow intellectually by taking the skills from the classroom, putting it into the real world, and taking the skills from the real world and putting it into the classroom.

And by having all these internships, I was really able to do that. Like, you know, I was a fan favorite of my professors because, um, you know, in a nice way I wasn't. , I was able to like, help them kind of teach their classes a little bit, um, you know, from just direct experience that I had out in the real world.

Um, so yeah, I really recommend any students, uh, start to get, um, plugged into the ecosystem early, wherever you're trying to, um, go after. Doesn't have to be through 10 internships, but, um, I'm glad I really got on that early.

Paul Scherer: Yeah. So let's talk about those, uh, internships. You, you did 10 of them during, uh, university, uh, which is like, I, I did some like adding it up and it's like almost three years

Landon Campbell: Yeah.

Paul Scherer: experience during your four year studies. Um, do you think there were, uh, there was like, um, maybe even apprehension, like people finding it weird or

Landon Campbell: Oh yeah, for sure. Yeah, no, I mean, I've been, I was hyper obsessed with working and like, uh, getting these internships and a lot of my friends didn't get it. it Um, of course, you know, I think a lot of people start interning junior, senior year, but they would just be always questioning like, why are you interning, you know, so frequently as a freshman or sophomore and to your point, yeah, not three years, but I think pretty much four years of, um, full-time experience.

Um, for the most part because I was, um, uh, a lot of times I was taking online classes, working full-time, and I'd work through the summers as well. Um, I think, and we were on a quarter system, so the, the only time I wasn't working was the first quarter of college just to like, kind of get acclimated and, uh, you know, learn about the area until I kind of settle in.

So my point is like, um, I, I, I, that's all experience that I've been able to add to my story, especially like, you know, for post-grad opportunities. You, you know, a lot of these companies say they're looking for someone with X amount of full-time experience. Um, I was able to compare myself to, you know, so let's say I graduated when I was like 22.

Um, I kind of had the equivalent of someone who's probably 25, 26 at the time working. So, which is why, I mean, I feel like I've already been ahead, um, by a few years just because I sacrificed a lot of time, um, you know, while I was younger working and. . Um, I talk a lot about like, the importance of storytelling.

Um, I think that, uh, I just knew like this would always be a part of my story. Like, let me work, let me try new things, see what I like, see what I don't like. Um, document like the skills that I learned in this thing that I could use in this later thing. Um, cuz there were a lot of jobs that I didn't like, but I mean for sure, like I learned a lot at those jobs that I still use today.

So I think, um, when it comes to like telling your. , it's important to start with a base of like, or foundation of just having a lot of experiences. Um, so when I work with founders today, I have like this, um, kind of like a inventory of advice and knowledge just from skills that I've had, things that I've seen in real life happen, people I've spoken to.

Um, and you really start that. You build the foundation just by doing a lot and trying a lot of things.

Paul Scherer: Yeah, that's, that's super helpful and, uh, resonates, uh, with, with me, I guess. Um, a additional, one of your, your key messages from, from, uh, the TED Talk, for example, you did, um, is focus on growth

Landon Campbell: Yes.

Paul Scherer: in your twenties.

Landon Campbell: Mm-hmm.

Paul Scherer: back at this early stage of your career, How, how difficult was following this advice for you? Um, and, and what were like, what were the difficulties, um, and how did you overcome them?

Landon Campbell: Yeah, for sure. I haven't been so well at this all the time. Um, there was a point where like maybe I was on like my fifth or fifth, sixth internship and, you know, I was just doing 'em, it became like so robotic, um, for a small period of time, uh, where, you know, I started to crave like the actual status, like, you know, I deserve like this title and this, um, you know, like, But, um, I had to like really go back to understanding like why I was doing this.

I was doing this to build up my skillset, be able to stand out in the future, and overall just grow. Um, so at the end of every internship, during every internship, it became even more important for me to like, again, document my experiences, um, talk about what I was doing, uh, talk about where I was growing.

Um, and that means like I was doing that both internally but then also external. and then that's when I started to figure out the importance of building a personal brand. Um, and since then I've been so like loud about kind of like, you know, my own growth, the mistakes that I make, um, the risks that I take, the growth that I see at these, um, jobs.

Um, because again, I think it's super important to focus on your growth and know what you're getting out of these jobs. Um, and that is, goes back to my point of working backwards as. Like, I'll never do something new without knowing specifically like what I want to get out of this opportunity, um, where I need to be a year from today at this job.

Um, and, uh, that's all growth. That, that's the definition of growth.

Paul Scherer: What was your to actually like succeed in those internships?

Landon Campbell: Yeah. Um, , so it's funny looking back at this. You know, obviously I made the podcast about, I think two and a half years ago, speaking with influential people about what they did. Uh, but that's like something I've been doing for a while, like not in Podcast Forum 'em, but I was always excited to go outta my way to book meetings with these, um, you know, leaders and managers and mentors at these companies.

Um, and just listen, listen to their experiences, um, ask them really good questions. Um, again, people love talking about themselves and. , I'm someone that, like, I, I view it like a, you know, a chess board. Like I wanna be able to hear about all the options that exist, see what's out there, hear what worked for someone else, uh, what didn't work for someone else.

And then I can pick and choose what works for me. Like it's impossible to copy what every single person did. And I realized that early, um, because at the beginning probably I was trying to do that. Like, okay, this is someone that I admire, let me like, and they did this, like, I need to do exactly this, and this person did this.

You know, it became overwhelming cuz you can't like be multiple people at one time. Um, and the only way to do that is to really just listen, learn, and pick and choose what works for you. But then you gotta make your own calculated risks as well. So, yeah, to answer your question, like from the beginning though, like just very curious about the journeys of other people.

Paul Scherer: How did you translate that into, like bringing value to those companies where you interned at?

Landon Campbell: in, in different ways. I mean, so I, I, I think like when you do have an opportunity to like, listen to someone's needs, what they're going through and what they're struggling with, like, it's almost like a cheat code. I mean, they're literally telling you what they need and how you can provide value.

So, um, yeah, I'd say like whenever I meet new people now, even back then, I'd be so eager to like hear about, you know, like, yes, like just the day, their day to day, like what's missing. And sometimes like they wouldn't just say it out loud, like sometimes I would have to like connect the dots. But right when you realize what someone needs, like that's how you can provide value first.

And I think in any relationship it's so important to provide value first. So that's how I stood out. Someone would, I would listen, I would. Um, and I would execute on like something that they need, something that they want. Um, couldn't do it for everybody, but sometimes I'd say, oh shit. Like, you know, I have a unique skill that actually can fill a gap for them here.

Um, so I would totally, uh, press the gas and, um, help them with something like that.

Paul Scherer: That's, that's great advice. Uh, thank you. during university, you also, uh, was like, you were part of the, the student buddy.

Landon Campbell: Yeah.

Paul Scherer: Since you're, like, since you're always, uh, working backwards, what was the intention behind like your political, uh, career?

Landon Campbell: Yeah, totally. Um, so I wanted to, I, I know he was only like on a university, um, but you'd be surprised, like just how, um, you know, political things could get, you know, on college campuses. Um, and especially with adminis. . Um, and I wanted to start to meet some admins and, uh, you know, see how, um, I could collaborate and work with them today.

And it's so funny. I mean, what I do today, you know, I work a lot with, um, college campuses, universities and their administration. Um, so it was nice to, uh, start to plant the seeds there. Um, I wanted to learn how to lead as well. Um, so I, I was interning at a lot of these places and obviously when you're interning, you're like, you're not gonna be given the keys to lead a whole.

Um, so I said, okay, like, let me see who else I could lead, like maybe more on my level, or at least on my college campus. Um, so it didn't start like that. Like I was first a senator, but then I became vice president of the entire student body and got to practically, I mean, lead a whole group of, uh, senators.

Um, and got to really understand what it's like to lead and manage a, you know, a busy group of people. Um, a diverse group of people. . Um, and those skills that I gained managing, um, individuals there, like, um, I still, I used today. I mean, you know, for the teams I manage, et cetera. Um, and teams that I'd manage after.

Um, so I'd say, uh, connections with administration, management, um, and like leadership. And the third, I'd say, um, I was like trying to, uh, for sure make a difference. And we did. I mean, we, we rolled out some great initiatives on campus. Um, I think. , you know, everybody goes into wanting to do something like that, saying like, they wanna make a difference and change.

Like obviously that's why you're doing it. So I was intentional with like, what I wanted to do while leading, um, like what change I wanted to make in the year. Um, and I, uh, I focused on like, rebranding and I wanted to like market better, like what the student government was doing. Um, so I built better relationships with press and media.

Um, I wanted to bring, um, uh, free. Menstrual products to campus for, um, you know, students that needed those. Um, that was something that people have tried to do for a while at DePaul and we were able to finally do so. Um, like I made that a big, um, objective of, uh, my president and I, and we work backwards to see, okay, like what's already been tried, what has been done, like how, how can we change this?

And ironically enough, it was because we were so respected by administration, I believe, and had such great relationships with. That we were really able to do it in such a short amount of time. Um, so I mean, they all kind of tied in with each other. Um, so yeah, no, that was a great experience for sure. It was a lot of fun.

But yeah, to your point, like I didn't just wake up and say, Hey, like time to run. Um, I said, okay, like if I'm going to do this, this is what I have to get out of it. Uh, this is how I'll know at the end, like I got something out of it. And I did. It's a lot of fun.

Paul Scherer: Looking back at your university experience. The experiences you had interning, but then also like the learnings you had in class. Was it worthwhile and also was the most important, um, or yeah, most important part of the experience.

Landon Campbell: Um, yeah, I mean, I'm really glad, like I got out and worked in college. Uh, to be honest, like my experience would not have been the same if I didn't, I would not be doing what I'm doing today if I didn't get that head start. Um, and just started to like build that, um, uh, the mentality early of working backwards, building up skills, um, and just trying a lot in my twenties.

So, um, yeah, you know, I had a lot of great professors for. But I just really craved like so much more than what I, what I was learning in the classroom. And, um, you know, now having like been a college graduate, I'm glad I did like DePaul, you know, grade school. Um, I learned a lot. But, um, yeah, I mean I, I think I for sure gained way more, uh, in my college years from working.

Um, then, uh, the classes for sure, again, you know, I kind of ask that a lot. Um, and I speak with it a lot with my family, like, Be doing what I'm doing today if I had just, you know, went to classes or if I just had the internships and just started working early. And I think, like, it's for sure the latter. Um, I, I, I don't think that I needed, um, my degree to, you know, get to where I am today cuz I figured it out and obviously it was, it would've been more difficult.

But it was difficult. I mean, I, I'm in a space where the traditional path sometimes is like investment banking. You gotta go to this school, you gotta do these things. And I got into BC through a podcast. So I mean, I, I made my own, um, path into doing it. Um, so I think that more 20 somethings, again, need to take ownership over their, over their own lives and identify like where they want to go.

I try not to say like what they want to do, because that, that can change all the time, but where do you want to go? Like in what direction? Um, and, uh, you gotta take ownership and figure out a unique way to.

Paul Scherer: Yeah. So, your, your advice would be, would be to, to make this decision very, very open-Mindedly versus like thinking about how you can enhance your, your college experience.

Landon Campbell: exactly. Yes.

Paul Scherer: almost like, or over, uh, over two years ago, you started a podcast called, um, in, in their twenties,

Landon Campbell: Yes.

Paul Scherer: Together with a friend who sadly passed away in 2021. but you carried on. Um, and in like 112, 12 episodes, I think it's, number like guests like Steve Wasniak, um, and I Don Ev Williams. So very impressive people. do you think content creation is something more young people should be doing?

Landon Campbell: Content creating has led me to meet some amazing people, build my network in a way that like, um, you know, I was already doing before, but, uh, this has just allowed me to do it in a, at a whole nother, um, rate of exchange and scale.

So, um, that's been helpful, uh, personal branding. So I, I think like if you've, you know, if you sort of build a community and like if you're transparent with your network about your interests and what you want to do and what you are doing and what you're looking for, like, opportunities will start to come your way for sure.

So, um, I let people know that, you know, I, I, I want them to think about me when they think about Chicago, when they think about startups, when they think about venture capital or when they think about podcast. Um, and I don't wanna always have to be in the room for those conversations with other people thinking about.

Um, but because like I'm so consistent about sharing my experiences with those four things, sharing my thoughts on those four things, I've had a lot of people reach out like, Hey Landon, I heard you're the guy to talk to. If like, I'm interested in moving to Chicago, I heard you're the guy to talk to. If I'm interested in starting a podcast, like, how did you find me, for example.

Um, so I, I think that, uh, when it comes to personal branding, like it's really important to just be loud, proud about what, um, you're looking for, what you're doing, what your interests are, um, and. Um, you know, you'll start to, uh, build a, a steady pipeline where again, you don't have to always be in the room for people, you know, thinking about those things.

Um, I think that, um, another thing, um, so I got laid off, uh, earlier this year. Um, you know, it's nothing to be embarrassed about. People get laid off all the time. Um, but like I was just, you know, reflecting a lot like shit. Like if I didn't have this whole other thing. I was putting in so much time with on the weekends and like my extra thing, my brand, my voice, um, it would've been just way more difficult for me to jump back in and find something else.

Um, and we're gonna talk about what I'm doing today, but like, it's so funny. I really got, I literally got laid off on a Monday and had a new job by Wednesday. Um,

Paul Scherer: That's

Landon Campbell: and like, it's like our paths crossed at the perfect time. Um, but how they heard about me and like why we started talking is all like through my brand mainly.

and what I had built and especially, uh, you know, the company drive, they're looking to do something very specific in Chicago that like, you know, I filled the, I filled the, uh, gaps with and was able to, you know, um, do that for them. And I have so much fun doing what I'm doing now for them. Um, cuz back to do the work for you at the job.

I mean, I was already doing a lot of these things already. Uh, just, you know, because I was interested in them, passionate about meeting with founders, meeting with VCs, um, scouting Angel.

So my point is, um, yeah, I, I, I think like, uh, when all is lost in the world and you feel lost and, um, things aren't going your way, like your brand can stay constant, like what you do on the side will always be there. Um, and you can leverage that and use that to create new opportunities for yourself.

Paul Scherer: Yeah. And you, you can't be laid off from your podcast, right.

Landon Campbell: Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. The only person who can tell me to stop doing what I'm doing is me, um, on the podcast in front. Um, Yeah, I, I think that, uh, if it doesn't get into the way of work, um, a side thing is really healthy to have.

Paul Scherer: Agreed. Um, and, and also like looking more specifically at your, your podcast, what. um, what are starting and growing this podcast and also talking with all these, these guests, um, that I've, I've mentioned what, what did you learn from, from this? Probably a lot. But what do

your like, I don't know, three key lessons?

Landon Campbell: Yeah. Um, consistency always wins. Um, the fact that I was, you know, and I've taken some time off in their twenties just so I'm still in a transition phase with work. Um, uh, I think, uh, for so long I was posting every single week, uh, like over a hundred weeks. Um, and I, I think that, uh, that was important for me to, you know, be repetitive and do that and keep grow.

Through the challenge, challenging days through the good days, but also for the audience. Like it was so important for the audience to like hook onto a day and say, okay, Landon's sharing these every Monday, if that makes sense. Um, we're gonna start listening more frequently. So consistency is always very helpful.

Um, I think, uh, number two, like, um, access for sure. So a lot of people see the people that I speak with on my show and. think like, oh my God, how did you get in touch with this person, this person? And I'll be honest, like, um, you gotta start small first, but once you start building the flywheel, like it becomes really easy.

Um, because there's this thing called seven degrees of separation. Like everybody knows of someone. There's, you know, like the world is way smaller than you think. Um, and I worked at Cameo briefly as an intern and I learned that because I got the Celebr, I was getting the celebrities on cameo. Uh, cameo is the marketplace where you can get custom videos from your favorite celebrities.

And I was like, wow, these people are way easier to connect. And think other people assume. Um, sometimes you gotta be a little more scrappy and, um, you know, reach out this way, that way. Um, be short, simple to the point. But like, you know, I'm getting these celebrities on the platform. I bet I could do this in a podcast format and I did.

So you start small. Um, but then, you know, if you're, the more consistent you are, you're able to build a flywheel. Um, and yeah, my podcast, at least getting guests has evolved. Like I went from getting a lot of nos and me reaching out to now I'm at a place. . I work with like a lot of, uh, public relations teams and they just send me their clients, um, for free and stuff.

So, um, it's like the more you do something, uh, the easier it becomes. Um, and also I, I'd say the third thing, like, um, so when I started the podcast, like it was, uh, you know, at least the objective for us was to have it, you know, become this big media company and grow and you know, so we worked backwards to make that.

Um, and then I had like this switch where I said, oh, I could use this to get an adventure. Um, and it was okay to make that switch. Um, you know, I, and I went fully towards that and started to work backwards and said, okay, what do I need to make that happen? So, um, I, I just saw, I think podcasting is a growth hack to a successful career.

Um, you'd be surprised you can get into a lot of new career paths through a podcast.

Paul Scherer: Did you have like a, a guest where you had to like, had this, what the fuck moment of, oh, like

actually, I'm talking to this

Landon Campbell: oh, yeah. No. Oh my God, are you kidding me? All the time. Um, like, yeah, I think, um, the Williams one was crazy for sure. Like, I remember like. , like just sitting there like, wow, , this is happening. Very cool. Um, and uh, I'd say Steve Wozniak is an obvious one as well. Um, yeah, that one was really cool. Um, because yeah, that was a big episode, episode 50.

I was a little like, numb though, like going into it cuz I think like a, like a personal matter had happened right before. , uh, on, on his side. And like, we had to push it back like a few weeks and had I'd been like stressing like, what if it doesn't happen? And then I just became pretty numb and then it just happened.

Um, so I felt really good about it. Um, I'm trying to think who else better O'Rourke. You know, he was running for president at the time. Um, that was really cool cause that was like an early interview. Um, but yeah, no, um, a few of these have been pretty shocking. I'd say. Uh, the F Williams one, uh, the.

Paul Scherer: that's like all of the, uh, the, the episodes you just mentioned and, and basically every single one, uh, is, is worth checking out

Landon Campbell: Yeah.

Paul Scherer: Um, yeah, you're, you're doing a, a great job at that.

Landon Campbell: Thank you.

Paul Scherer: so let's, let's, uh, yeah, let's look at your, like, postgraduation career. Career. Your first full-time position was at, uh, motor. um, where, where you had already like, done an internship, previ previously, um, and you worked there for almost like one, one and a half years.

Landon Campbell: Yeah.

Paul Scherer: How was this experience and especially, um, like finally transitioning into like a full-time theme.

Landon Campbell: Yeah, so I interned at Motorola first. Um, had a great internship there. I got a lot out of it. Um, and then I became, I, I became, um, a full-time hire. Um, yeah, I'd say, uh, a few things that working backwards like I wanted to do there, like I wanted to master sales. sales is so important. Um, and I think it's a great way to start at a company because you learn like about all the products really quickly.

We learned about the customers very quickly. Um, and, um, I just wanted to, you know, I'd been a sales intern previously, but like I wanted to be. . Okay. Full-time sales role. Let me see all the things that I have to do to become really successful at this job, because I still use, like, selling skills every day today.

Um, included. And you know, the companies that I work with today that like are working on hiring, uh, early sales force, um, it's nice to be able to share advice with them, um, based off of my learnings. Um, and uh, I think, uh, I wanted to lead internally as well. So I joined, um, you know, the young professional group at Motorola.

helped, uh, you know, put together some events that was a lot of fun. Um, and, um, yeah, I, and listen, like it's okay, like there's, there's been some repetition like for my, uh, you know, working backwards objectives at a few of these jobs. But I'd say, yeah, at Motorola, like comparing it to, um, you know, the time being vice president, like I wanted to lead, I wanted to master sales.

That's the new one. But then also I wanted to, um, Create better relationships with like the, you know, executives at the company, which I did very similarly to, like creating better relationships with the administration at this university. Um, so I was able to do that. Um, and uh, yeah, once I did those three things at Motorola, I felt like I was at a good place.

Paul Scherer: Then you, then you left, right? Like, I suppose really this, this intentional of, hey, like that's what I wanna do. Like I basically like checked all the boxes and then you moved on.

Landon Campbell: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I moved on, um, and you know, right before Motorola I worked at a startup. I was at Cameo as an intern though, but it was like a, it was close to a year long internship that got extended. Um, so I just knew I wanted to go back to a startup, um, and take those, um, skills from working at the big company for a year and a half, close to two years, and be able to use those at assertive.

Um, and you know, I started at this company called Inside founded by, um, someone I interviewed on my podcast. And, um, yeah, like I remember they, they gave me the, um, job, um, acceptance and they wanted an answer for me. And, uh, you know, the role, you know, was super cool. Work at a media company, start up, um, have a chance to potentially, you know, I do X, Y, and Z, but before I like said yes, um, I emailed them back like these three things that I wanted to.

Um, and I asked like, you know, would I be able to start these on day one? If not, like, what would I have to do before doing these? Because I knew, like before I started at, inside that inside would be probably the last job I had before I got full-time in adventure. Um, so it was all like a part of the journey.

I didn't know how long I was gonna be at inside cuz I never put a time limit on it. And more said, okay, if I want to get into venture next, what do I have to do? Um, and the three things, I emailed them back. I said like I wanted to make a podcast specifically focused on venture capital. , um, to meet more VCs.

Um, I wanted to lead a team, um, so I wanted to be like an operator slash leader. Um, and I wanted to, um, be able to, uh, work with the sales team to source and, uh, you know, send them opportunities. Um, so for two of those, they said yes. So you can start these on day one. Um, as for the leadership one, they said, okay, like, we're not gonna let you read on day one, which totally makes.

Um, but if you do blank, blank, blank, we'll let you lead a team. Um, and I did that and I had an opportunity to lead, um, the events team. Um, so once I did those,

Paul Scherer: right?

Landon Campbell: yeah, pretty quickly.

Um, because I was only at inside for about 11 months. So all this stuff, you know, happened really quickly. Um, but yeah, it's just funny because I got laid off, but like the timing was perfect cause I had accomplished everything I wanted to.

Um, I was able to use that story to help leverage, uh, my next opportunity.

Paul Scherer: Yeah. So, um, do you feel like when you got laid off, although all these like three things, uh, like yeah. Like you got everything out of it that you wanted to.

Landon Campbell: Um, yes, so I got everything out of it that I wanted to. Um, I, I haven't shared the full story of like how I got laid off and stuff, you know, I might talk about that one day. You know, it was, uh, it was uh, you know, it was still tough to have to deal with that for sure. Um, cuz in, in one way or another it was still unexpected.

Um, but everything happens for a reason.

Paul Scherer: So it, it's like, it, it's three months ago, right? That you, that you joined,

Landon Campbell: Yeah.

Paul Scherer: Capital

Landon Campbell: Yeah.

Paul Scherer: a gm.

Landon Campbell: Yeah, I joined Drive Capital about three months ago. It feels like I've been there for three years. Um, like they, they keep me busy. I love it. Um, this is really like my dream, my dream job. Um, I'm doing everything I wanted to do. Um, I didn't know I was gonna be with Drive. I didn't know like it was gonna be at this capacity, but like, this is what I mean by working backwards.

Like, um, I'm just so lucky and thankful every day to like be able to do something that, like I've been trying to get towards some for so, , uh, also be able to make a difference in my city. Um, you know, like I would, I wouldn't trade what I'm doing now for anything

Paul Scherer: How, how does a day in your life currently look like?

Landon Campbell: Every day is different, but, um, for the most part I'm meeting with a lot of founders, um, averaging maybe like two to three, sometimes four founders a day. Um, I'm supporting the current founders that we're investing in for the pre-seed fund cause I'm building our pre-seed fund in Chicago and I'm building our Chicago office.

Um, companies are starting to come in, so it's supporting them. Um, you know, I, I don't wanna be the GM investor, the VC that like, you know, it's just, let's give them the money and see you later. Like, I, and I've learned this from, you know, some VCs do it, some VCs don't. Um, I wanna be like the hyper involved, um, investor, which means.

Um, energy can get rained sometimes cuz I want to be able to like, connect the dots to the best of my ability. I wanna be a friend, therapist, confidant. Um, like I, it's more than just, you know, investing. Um, and I, I feel like there are so many investors that are just so lazy. Um, and they, um, you know, they have so many companies and they just kind of like forget, um, to care about, um, each one.

And not to say you can give a hundred percent of your energy to each one, but I mean, it's like, you know, I go into every. With these companies, like, um, okay. What's your current challenges? Like, put every, like, just, I listen, like, just talk and tell me what you're currently going through, what's wrong, um, what's the high of the week, what's the low of the week?

So then I can start to connect the dots, um, and at least be the best GM that I can for each individual company. Um, so again, like I, I love it. Um, being able to work hard for the companies because I want them to succeed. Um, and I wanna be able to, um, contribute in their. . Um, so yeah, it's tending of the companies that we're investing in and also, um, yeah, just continuing to grow the brand of drive.

Um, yeah, and that's not just in Chicago, like, you know, I've been traveling a lot to other Midwest universities and areas, um, to meet with other VCs, student founders, um, just continuing to help drive, you know, build our brand, um, in the Midwest. But, um, eventually you, I'll be able to get a lot of these founders that we invest in if they're not in Chicago to move to Chicago.

Cause I want Chicago to. Uh, the next hotspot for sure.

Paul Scherer: How do you invest? Like what's your, what, what are you looking for?

Landon Campbell: Yeah. Um, so I usually start if whether or not the founder can see themselves doing this, uh, for like 10 plus years sometimes, and I know that's using ar arbitrary number, but I think, uh, some people, myself included and why I'm not, uh, a founder right now, like I haven't found the one idea that I wanna focus on forever.

Um, and. founders need to make sure that they understand that this is a long-term journey. Um, you're gonna have a lot of highs, but then also like during the lows, what keeps you there? Like, what, why do you wanna stay? So, um, it's important for me to understand whether or not that founder wants to be working on this for a long time.

Um, we, we talked a lot at Drive about the why now, um, like why is now the time to build this? And, um, what I say often is no idea is a new idea. Um, you, you might think that you're the first person to do. , chances are it's not true. Someone's tried it in one way or another, but they failed because the timing wasn't right for the most part, or the founders gave up.

Um, and I, I always get the Uber example like Uber's. Why now? Um, because many people tried ride sharing before Uber. Um, Uber had a very clear why now of the rise of smartphones, the rise of 3G and the rise, or the use of, um, Google Maps release their api, um, that allow companies to use in their own apps, et cetera.

Um, and see the inside of Google Maps. So without those three things, I don't think Uber would've succeeded. Um, so it's important that founders can communicate like why is now, like what's the critical insight that you have that says that now is the time to build this? Um, and market size is also very important to us at Drive, but every market's big for the most part.

And it's so easy to just Google and say, okay, like this is a 60 billion market, or this is a 50 billion market, and it's not what I'm talking about. Like, I, I want you to share the. But I want you to break it down in a very, um, uh, you know, articulate way. Like, and then also what's the insight there? Like, why do you think it's growing?

Um, why is the market the size right now? How many people are made up in this market? so yeah, it's important to communicate that as well.

Paul Scherer: you, you also Angel Invest, right? Like in in and stuff. Is that the same approach or why do you Angel?

Landon Campbell: Um, yeah, very similar approach. Uh, with Angel investing, I think I have like, Little more flexibility sometimes to invest in like, uh, friends also like, and support them. Um, but uh, yeah, you know, I just invested, or I invested in my first, uh, last year and they just raised a series A I got in pretty early, so that was exciting.

Um, and those guys are just friends, uh, that I met through the podcast. So, um, yeah. Uh, the podcast has opened up a lot of doors for me, for sure.

Paul Scherer: That's, that's so cool.

You're, you're still super young, like that's safe to say you're in your twenties,

Landon Campbell: Yeah.

Paul Scherer: But, but nevertheless, you've done like a lot of impressive stuff and you, uh, you've seen, um, so many different things from different perspectives. Um, are you, are you happy with where you are today?

Landon Campbell: Yeah, but I was so hungry, uh, for more so never get too comfortable.

Paul Scherer: What

Landon Campbell: never. Um, yeah, I'd, I'd say, um, the big thing that I've been saying like forever, and I think like, you know, so relevant is, uh, freedom for sure. Like, you know, freedom of my time and like, not to say I don't love what I'm doing, but I mean, you know, once we get older, like once we become more experienced, um, you can start to see like, okay.

If I want to do this full-time, I can do this thing. If I want to like fully dive into this, I can do this. So I think, uh, most people for sure are like chasing for that freedom and that's okay. Um, cuz I'm still living in the moment, like I'm still, you know, I love what I do and I'm gonna continue to do what I do right now.

Um, and you know, I'm way more free and following obviously what I wanted to do long term now than I was last year or two years ago, or three years ago. So I think that's something that's always fine to chase. But yeah, other than that, what else am I chasing? Like the growth of Chicago, it's really important to me.

Um, that feels like a overwhelming challenge sometimes, but I think that we're gonna, we're gonna make it happen. Um, we just need, uh, to continue to, um, build great things in the city. Um, build a community as well, um, and give founders a reason to wanna stay here. So, you know, my, my, my objective is to, like, I want $10 million companies in Chicago, and I want them to come through what we're doing at.

Um, it's easier stuff than done though. So, you know, just every day just kind of focus on my tasks and goals for the day. But like, if I have to work, uh, say like, what am I working backwards towards? It's that,

Paul Scherer: What's your definition of success right now? Is it like money? Probably not, but maybe it is money

Landon Campbell: yeah. No, no, not money at all. Um, I'd say, um, wow. Yeah, good question. I mean, Yeah, I, I love people that come up to me and say, Hey, like, I got into X, Y, Z because of you, or thanks for the advice that, you know, you shared on this, and like, now I'm motivated to do this now. And yeah, I think just overall impact is something that I've always been, passionate about.

Like, I, I love, uh, um, people get closer to, you know, following their dreams. and I think you accomplish your dreams when you meet other people, like close to accomplishing theirs or able to accomplish. So to the people who have been influenced by me to start something like from scratch or start something on the side, um, like that's, that's all I could ever ask for.

That's been amazing. And sometimes it's like, wow. Um, thank you. Like, but it's, uh, yeah.

Paul Scherer: Paul Griffith week said he's determining his success. by like whether or not he's stopping traffic at his funeral.

Landon Campbell: Yeah, . That's a good one. I saw. Yeah. Maybe I'll get there one day. We'll see.

Paul Scherer: that's a, that's a, i I I feel like that's a great tweet.

Landon Campbell: Yeah, is a great tweet.

Paul Scherer: yeah. Um, so what, what do you think is your, uh, or was your, your biggest failure and what did you learn from it?

Landon Campbell: Biggest failure. Um, well, I mean, I fail all the time. and I, I love when I fail, cuz you learn from those failures. I mean, yeah, just starting certain things, like starting different projects that didn't work out. But like, um, I don't view that as a failure because, you know, I, yeah, while it didn't work, I could say, Hey, like this is why it didn't work, this is what I would've done differently.

so I think that, um, you can turn failures into a positive, like if you're able to reflect and know specifically like what went wrong. And then failure is bad when you make the same mistakes twice. Um, so yeah. Like, don't fear failure, welcome, fail, uh, mistakes, but just yeah, don't make 'em twice.

Paul Scherer: Yeah. Um, and like almost in the opposite way. Do you, what, what were, I don't know, two, three key decisions? That where you like went left when everyone, uh, went, went right. Um,

be, be like golden life changing.

Landon Campbell: Dude, great question. Um, and let me tell you why I think that's a great question. I think it's because we have so many decisions that we have to make every day that really stress us out and will continue to stress me out. But I think that at the end of the day, like there are only maybe three or four big things that, like if you decide in your life, like, I mean the, the big decisions that really matter.

So yeah, I'd say moving here, um, not to say like I had doubters and heaters and stuff. Um, um, but yeah, it was a big thing. I mean, a lot of. From where I'm from and ended up just staying there. Um, so maybe I'd even add like staying in Chicago after graduating, that's for sure. One of 'em. Uh, launching the podcast for sure.

Um, and just, yeah, how much like I worked in college as well. I'd say those are like the three major, um, things that I'm glad I did.

Paul Scherer: I love it. That was, uh, super cool.

Is there anything you wanna, you wanna promote? I, I'll definitely link your podcast in the, in the description, and show notes, but anything.

Landon Campbell: no, nothing I didn't talk about today, but just, Paul wanted us to say thank you so much, um, really enjoyed this episode. Spoke a lot about working backwards. Spoke a lot about, um, focusing on your growth, um, and spoke a lot about just making an impact, so thank you.

Paul Scherer: Thank you so much.

And that's a wrap for this week's episode of Up Next. If you want to unlock more secrets to success, then make sure to hit that subscribe button so you never miss an episode again. And if you enjoy the show, I'd be super grateful. If you could take a moment to leave me a review on your. Favorite podcasting platform.

Your feedback helps me to continue bringing you the best content and guests. Remember, you have the power to shape your own future. You are up next Till next Wednesday, I'm Paul signing off. Bye-bye.

Creators and Guests

Landon Campbell
Landon Campbell
General Manager at Drive Capital, Host at inTheir20s Podcast
He did this. Now he invests millions (ft. Landon Campbell)
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