Earlier this year I started some re-branding and wrote “The Savagezen Story” to explore some of my principles and personal vision / mission. Also, in the beginning of 2021 I released a podcast episode titled “Success and Struggle in 2020.” That podcast does a pretty good job of covering the tumultuous details of achievements I accumulated in spite of what was, for everyone and in a variety of ways, a struggling 2020.
What’s not covered in that story is the process and evolution of the brand I was establishing (me). It’s not too far of a stretch to connect the dots and see that my online handle(s) savagezen bare the same duality as my newsletter — and now re-branded podcast — cultured warrior.
The mission of the podcast / newsletter is simple: to provide “thought provoking essays, research, and inspirations from the realms of mental health, philosophy, ancestral health, and combat sports.”
In early 2020 I had just gotten my purple belt in BJJ and bought a house. By the end of March I was facing an evermore unstable job market. However, in the meantime I had just that; time on my hands. This is where I really started to go deep down the nutritional and podcast rabbit hole. So it went, the first incarnation of The Kombat Kitchen was a successive series of e-books and 30 day challenges.
Lesson 1: No body read the books. This actually wasn’t a heartbreaker. While it took an outrageous amount of time to compile and write the over 80 pages and 400 references, the process itself was valuable. It helped prove to myself that I knew what I was talking about. My employment situation continued to decay even though it had “stabilized”; it was anything but a “happy medium.”
Trying to see beyond the big picture, or at least work ahead of the curve; I pursued a nutritionist certification with Precision Nutrition. Admittedly, this was “just to get letters behind my name”; there were some other benefits, but I knew that I needed some sort of validation — not to mention a safety buffer regarding scope of practice — if I were going to build up a successful coaching practice.
Lesson 2: Most people would rather do burpees until they vomit than be told how / what to eat. This may not be universally true, and there are many people out there like myself who do do their own homeowork. However, my observation is that people are much more willing to pay a “personal trainer” than a “nutrition coach.” Of course, as we all know that is all the more the indicator that the real battle is in the kitchen, not the weight room.
The next step in The Kombat Kitchen’s evolution was to launch the podcast itself and begin affiliate marketing. This was around late summer 2020. I would also be rebooting my competitive fighting career. The image that took hold in my mind was that I could earn money through private coaching and affiliate sales to pay for competition entry / travel which would allow me to create content and gain exposure to further sales. That image didn’t totally fail or even implode; it, indicative of this entire process, just needed some remolding. Or rather, it just grew to a different form than what I had originally conceived.
Lesson 3: Podcasts are a lot of work. I didn’t really discredit this process in the beginning, but what started as a genuine adventure to meet interesting people through social media and legitimately interview them for selfish reasons just to learn what other cool people were doing in the world, became quite a chore. I gained a lot of valuable information, not to mention friendships (new and old), through those interviews. At the same time, researching and recruiting guests, post-production clean up, editing and marketing content — all of the stuff you don’t see behind the scenes — takes a tremendous amount of time and effort.
In short I still thought the process was valuable, I just wasn’t convinced that I was seeing an appropriate ROI to continue. After a podcasting hiatus, what’s worked out well is to create a very similarly inspired newsletter for “long-format” content. Lesson 4: If you build it, they will come.
I’ve tried to be careful in my languaging throughout this essay. The Kombat Kitchen didn’t fail, it evolved. When I decided to actually put some effort behind my personal endeavors and kanoodle them into professional aspirations; I had a whopping 220-ish followers on Instagram, no podcast, and ghost-town of YouTube and Twitter. Now, those later platforms are still in development for me, but in a year-ish time I more than 5x’ed my Instagram following and, very proudly, have maintained my marketing affiliations.
But for me to go out of my way, create content and use my audience I need to believe in you as a person and a business.
The Cultured Warrior is quite a natural successor to The Kombat Kitchen. It also leaves room for a bit more creative (and content) liberties. If you’ve followed my work or have known me for any amount of time, you know that I fit quite well in to the cultured warrior / warrior poet TV trope. Due to trademarks, some wordsmithing had to come into play as Warrior Poet Society and Violent Hipipe are already branded — and totally awesome!
I suppose in some ways this is like a personal corporate structure. By maintaining “my personal brand” (identity) as “savagezen”; I’ve got a few more liberties for the mediums that fall under that umbrella: various social platforms and media outlets. At any rate, cheers to The Kombat Kitchen 4.0 (e.g. The Warrior Poet) and crushing it!