8 Questions with Serial Superconnector David Gonzalez

By Johnny B. Truant

Johnny:  Dave’s art is connecting people and we were connected by a mutual friend, Danny Iny, who brings somebody to dinner and it’s kind of like a potluck. You don’t know what you’re going to get. Sean, Dave Wright and I spent several hours with Dave Gonzalez and then Danny was done. Danny, who had connected us, said I’m going to bed, and we were like let’s go get cupcakes and we went and did that.

To say Dave is a natural connector really understates it, and that’s part of what we were discussing. We could say he runs a digital marketing agency, he runs an affiliate management company, he’s a serial superconnector and he’s behind Internet Marketing Party.

(If you prefer audio, you can listen to this episode on the 8 Questions Podcast)

David:  What it comes down it, all told my businesses generate just shy of half a million dollars a year. I’ve got a team of eight people whose families I help support. I feel self-conscious about people calling me a connector or networker. It kind of makes me gag.

I know some connectors and people who use that term and after you hang out with them, you feel like taking a bath. Reminiscent of used car salespeople.

For me, I genuinely love talented, influential, quality people, in the same way that I think some people really like going into a boutique type of store, a craft, curio high quality craftsmanship type of place.

When I see a really well made tool, of any sort, whether it’s for a shoe maker or an architect or a transmission repair shop, I’m just in awe of it. Especially if it’s well made, like if it’s German or Swiss, there’s just some quality of it that makes me go, oh, this is so great!

I just got back from London and going to their open air markets and seeing the quality of craftsmanship that goes into their artisan cheeses and their flatbreads and their milk.

It’s amazing, and that’s the same way that I love people. Not just everybody. I like people who are really talented, really smart, influencial, and I like finding out what drives them and what they’re really interested in doing to make the world a better place.

Then my brain automatically starts to sort and filter for all the people that I know that they’re like at an ethos level, at a character level. I know that they’ll resonate first as people, whether it be at the level of intellect, of how they just are, their constitution.

Then if there’s business to be done, that just makes me ecstatic, even just putting people together.

I kind of feel that that’s my gift, that’s my art, that’s what I was given. So I feel blessed that I’ve learned over the years, and it took me a while, how to turn that into something that I can do as a career that I’m proud of.

Johnny:  It is an art. So, question number one would be what do you think of that art if you’re going to connect people? Because you do do it in a very non-douchey way. You haven’t actually hooked us up directly, you did with Sean, but you haven’t connected me to anybody but we’re connected and it was fast.

It was like you meet somebody and you’re like oh, I’m like this person. What is the skill there – I don’t want to say skill because it implies that it’s manipulative, but where are you finding these gems?

David:  I mean that’s how I do it. The only way that I can connect people well, is by connecting with the person first. Does that make sense?

Johnny:  Yes, it does because then you know it’s a known quantity, right. You know them.

David:  Yes, just the fact that your name is Johnny B. Truant, and how I’ve learned your sense of humor, and that you’re a writer, and that your partners with Sean and Dave, and the dynamic that you have.

I know that if I were to set up a Founder’s Dinner or even just a dinner with some cool people, because I like doing that sometimes, I’m going to invite this person and this person and this person, I know at the end of it we’re all going to be like that was fun!

Johnny:  This is where I mention I’m in town now.

David:  Yes, yes, exactly. I have invited you to a couple of things but you’ve been busy.

Johnny:  Yes, I haven’t been able to pull it off.

David:  I guess that’s one of the things, I really like people, but not just everybody. The very interesting story you told me about one of your past clients, that was so fascinating and how Danny just shared with me the different things that you guys have done in the field of fiction. That was fascinating.

It’s kind of lame when you look at it one way. I’m easily impressed or amused, or there are some people who are really cynical and they’re like oh, yes, been there, done that.

I’m like wow!

I guess I tend to look at people similar to – can you relate to what I’m talking about like finding a really high quality piece of equipment or machinery?

Johnny:  Yes. Everyone’s got a special talent and you’re like wow, I see your special talent and it’s beautiful in its own way. You’re uniquely you.

David:  One of my favorite movies, I just got goose bumps, I tend to like really good documentaries, but one of my favorite documentaries is Gino Loves Sushi. Have you seen that?

Johnny:  I have not.

David:  It’s about an 85-year old master sushi chef that has this little sushi restaurant in the bottom of a subway and it seats 18 people max and it’s got a six month waiting period. This guy is like the king of kings, lord of lords, master of sushi chefs of the period. He’s all about making the best sushi in the world.

He’s a one or two star Michelin chef. When you watch this – I’m sure some of your listeners and viewers will have watched it and will know what I’m talking about.

Anytime that someone is into mastery, I’m intrigued and interested, and I realize that there’s something there. They’ve learned rigor, they’re learned discipline.

Sometimes some people are lucky, they just know what they’re supposed to be doing but most people struggle and they go through a lot of dark night of the soul to finally emerge and go that’s it, that’s what I’m here for, that’s my mission, that’s my vision.

Did you ever watch the documentary called Born Rich?

Johnny:  No.

David:  By Jamie Johnson. He was heir to the Johnson and Johnson dynasty. He interviewed a bunch of people who were, from the moment of their conception, billionaires. One of them was a Vanderbilt. One of them was one of the Trumps. Just a bunch of super rich, wealth, off the charts billionaire kids that he was interviewing and asking what’s it like.

A lot of them were struggling with crisis of meaning. People just assume that oh, you’ll never have to work a day in your life. You’ve got it easy. But a lot of them were struggling, like what’s my purpose, why am I here, what am I supposed to do with my time?

How do I leave a mark beyond just being cool and getting into any club I want, and having whatever luxury car and mansion that I want and going to Ibiza?  Living the jet setter lifestyle doesn’t have any meaning.

I think everyone has to find their thing, and when people find their thing I’m fascinated and I want to put more people who have found their thing together.

I think the world is really fucked up and there’s way too much stupidity on the planet. If I could accomplish one thing it would be to put a sizable dent in the amount of stupidity on the planet.

That to me translates to organized religion, and politics as we know it, the current way that the financial structures and systems are set up. There’s just too much win-lose and the world’s kind of fucked up.

There’s a lot of suffering and lot of crap that is absolutely unnecessary.

What drives me is to connect with people that have found their magic, their gift, their talent, their inner tool, that Swiss piece made of Swiss or German fine crafted piece of equipment that they do their craft with and put them together with more people.

Let’s say you have $800,000,000 in your bank tax-free. You’ve already got all the mansions, the fast cars, all the travelling, everything out of the way. What would you do?

Sean’s one of the people I asked this of not too long ago and I asked what would you do, and he’s like what I’m doing now. I’m doing it.

When I find people that are doing what they’d be doing if they had all the money in the world, they’re still doing whatever they’re doing, I want to put them in touch with more people that would be doing that.

I never thought of this before, but when you see those ants that all quickly come together to form a bridge so the ants can crawl across them over water, I think that’s how I’m thinking of collecting and connecting amazing people.

Putting them all together so they can form a bridge so that stupidity can get less.

Johnny:  What I like here is that you’ve actually pre-guessed my final question, which is what would you like your legacy to be?  And it sounds like put a dent in the stupidity of the world is your legacy.

David:  It’s funny because that’s something that’s still a nascent idea for me. It’s crystallizing for me and I haven’t quantified how much stupidity there is on the planet. I just know there’s a lot of it.

Johnny:  Ask Dave Wright about that. He’ll tell you.

David:  Look at the candidates who are running for President.

Johnny:  Yes.

David:  Look at the waste, the way that we use subsidies. There are people who are starving. There are people with no water. There are people with – you get kind of emotional about it. I know this is the kind Yaro would always play forward.

We hang out, I loved that about our conversation. We were irreverent and laughing and acting like junior high kids, and then at one point we did get serious and talked about assholes in the marketplace.

We talked about what really matters. I like that. Being able to go really deep and really irreverent and silly and funny and whimsical, and dive in and out.

That’s the richness of being human.

Johnny:  I was going to ask you about one point and it’s funny because we were being irreverent and everything. Then you were like, I’m kind of a heart-centered person and I do things. And Sean and I were kind of like we just told a bunch of dick jokes, right. Tell me about that, that being your center.

David:  Dick jokes?

Johnny:  Dick jokes. No, the heart.  The heart.

David:  I was just playing with you the way you guys do. I don’t know how to answer. I don’t know that I have a clear question.

Johnny:  Let’s explore this together. It sounds to me that everything you’re doing with the connecting and all that stuff is coming from a place of heart rather than say you want to make a bunch of money.

David:  Yes, yes, yes. And I do want to make a bunch of money, but I want to make a bunch of money so that I feel more at home with some of the influencers that I know that have made a bunch of money.

Sometimes it matters. People can tell. I’ve also seen examples like a friend of mine that’s Muslim that was in Dubai and hanging around with a bunch of billionaires and they were all dressed to the nines and there was this one guy that looked like a slob. They asked who’s that guy, and they were like he’s worth more than all of us combined.

Once you’re at fuck you money, then it doesn’t matter what you dress like. Or if you’re really that talented and you have that much awesome going for you, that’s your way.

I don’t feel that I’m there yet or I don’t know that I ever will be.

I like being able to dress in a way that I feel good. I live driving a car that I’m like yes, this is a nice comfortable automobile that if I picked somebody up at the airport they’re going to be like oh, nice car.

I want to make enough money so all of that stuff is just handled so I can have a nice enough place downtown Austin, or near downtown that I can host really nice dinners and stuff. Right now I still live in a relatively humble home in a suburb in North Austin. It’s a 1,600 square foot place with a pretty small backyard.

It’s not the place I want to bring some of the influencers that I’m doing more and more, and spending more and more time with.

A lot of times I’ll find myself leveraging my friends that have big beautiful homes and penthouses and like hey, we’re having a dinner at so-and-so’s place. I’m still kind of second rate and so I do want to make enough money so that I can do that shit at my place instead of someone else’s.

I just wanted to speak to that because I don’t want to make it sound like I’m some sort of…

Johnny:  No.  High five on that because I agree with you. I want money for those same reasons. But that’s not why I think either of us do what I do as a primary, right?

David:  Right, right. I would probably be worth at least four or five million dollars, based on my network and my resources, if I was just in it for the money and I was more just a hustler and just a typical hardcore entrepreneur.

Johnny:  Networker with a capital N, the thing you didn’t want to be seen as.

David:  Strategy kind of thing. I think networkers with a capital N don’t make several million dollars, they make $200,000 or $300,000 a year and then they just kind of stay there and they’re just dirty. I don’t know.

I think all edges of the bulk are like your Sean partners and people that are really good at biz, they have the whole package, they look like models. I feel like I’m scrappy.

I’m a little short Hispanic guy who knows a lot of cool people. A lot of them are in the direct response and the marketing space and they’re scrappy entrepreneur hustlers and stuff.

I don’t know how well I would fare if I went to Wall Street or straight into the heart of Silicon Valley.

Johnny:  I think that’s the heart-centeredness. Because you’re not looking for what is the dollar to dollar conversion between two people. I’ve said a few times that one of my goals is I want to do cool shit with cool people. That’s my mission. You’ll notice there’s no high dollar value in that. I feel that that will follow, but it’s let’s do cool stuff first. I think what you’re describing is more like let’s attach a dollar sign to everything.

David: Oh, yes, yes, yes. It’s kind of frustrating though because I do want to make more money than I’m making. I’ve talked with Sean and it’s kind of like that struggle with the artist. You want to do your art and you don’t want to sell out. You don’t want to be that guy.

If you make enough money so you don’t have to give a fuck, and just do cool shit with cool people, then it’s like always inching forward to just do maybe a little bit of uncool shit with uncool people so that I can make this much money so then I can do more cool shit with more cool people.

Johnny:  Sell out just a little bit so that you can do more of the cool stuff.

David:  I hate to say it, I really do, but I do sometimes. It makes me dirty.

Johnny: So, let’s shift then towards the artist because you mention the artist struggle. Do you have other creative disciplines that you do, write or paint or anything that is an artist thing?

David:  I don’t really. I’ve always had a penchant for drawing and doodling. There have been times when I’ve felt like man, if I just sat down and consistently drew. Sometimes I see art in a place and not like oh, I could do that, because I get the rigor and the structure of when people do art over time and there’s visual style and there’s a feel and you can tell it’s been practiced.

But I feel like I have that naturally in me but I don’t practice it. On the writing, there’s been more coming to the surface. I’m an extrovert so I much prefer to get my thoughts out by speaking, if you can’t tell.

It’s painful for me to write, because I always feel like I’m editing as I’m creating and it’s very painful. But when I do just push through it, I usually feel pretty good about what I write. But I almost always keep that private.

A lot of that has to do with the fact that I’m friends with a lot of really good copy writers, like world class copy writers that are just exquisite with words. I know a few writers and it’s so difficult for me to not compare what I do, that Ira Glass thing.

Johnny:  Yes, I know that Ira Glass thing very well. You tend to undersell, you sell not to you personally but globally. One thing really stands out. Dave is very self-depricating anyway, but Sean and I love ourselves and love to hear ourselves talk.

You seemed anyway, genuinely fascinated with everything that we were saying to the point where it’s like he’s not humoring us, he’s really fascinated by us and that’s cool.

That’s one of the things you seem to have that is one of your talents, is the ability to be fascinated, and that is a connection thing. Do you feel that is a learnable skill, the ability to be fascinated?

David:  I think so and I think some of that is nature, but some of it has to do with the fact that I don’t often talk about it a whole lot. I did a lot of NLP studying. I studied with Richard Bandler, the guy who co-founded Neuro Llinguistic Programming 

I was going to get my Ph.D. in Psychology and I said fuck it, I’m going to go study a real functional thing instead of just a degree that doesn’t have terms in anything.

I went in and interviewed a bunch of psychologist and psychiatrists and they were like yes, I wasn’t impressed. Everybody I knew that was good at NLP was doing cool stuff, so I went and studied that for a long time.

I learned a lot about how to engage with people, have sensory acuity to pay attention to positioning, postures. I think I got so good at it that I just do it naturally. Then when I find somebody who’s really fascinating then I just turn all that stuff on, but it’s not like a ploy. It’s not a technique, it’s just ingrained.

At one point I was with one of my younger brother’s girlfriends. He was kind of on the outs with her and she was starting to get annoying and I just demolished her linguistically. She was like don’t use all those NLP tools on me. Why would I learn things, to not use them? It just doesn’t make any sense. Sorry.

At some point you learn certain skills in your behavior that you can’t not use them, because then you’re like I know how to walk, but I’m going to crawl. Because then I’m going to feel like I’m being advantageous? No. It’s just ingrained.

I think it’s an overlap.

If it was a Boolean diagram it would be my heart centered thing about really wanting to have an impact on the planet, and so I realized the best way for me to do that is to build meaningful, trusting relationships with influencers. They’ve already put in all the work of mastery of their thing. And I haven’t.

I just like people and I don’t feel like I’m mastering my thing. I feel like I just do it.

To me there’s a difference between rigor and interest, and I have an interest. I don’t spend a lot of time reading books on networking and connecting. I don’t go to a lot of classes on how to connect better.

Sometimes I think I should, because that’s what I like about other people that are masters of their craft, so I think there’s some of that self-discovery in that piece there.

Then the second piece has to do with the fact that I did study and train and learn about social dynamics and communication so much that that’s just ingrained into who I am.

And then the third piece is that nature part, that I do naturally like people. I’ve always been fascinated with cool shit or cool things or cool people. That’s not something that’s every changed.

I used to be a huge KISS fan. In second grade I took my KISS albums to school at Show and Tell. I used to love bb guns, and I’ve always been into things.

At some point I got really into cool people.

Another thing is because I’m short. There was one year in sixth grade there was another guy who was shorter than me. Other than that I was often the smallest boy in school and I was often smaller than many of the females.

Once I hit puberty I noticed things started to shift and change. I started liking the pretty girls but the bigger, stronger athletes were getting all the pretty girls.

I wanted to somehow stand out so I started being a class clown and funny.

I realized I was starting to get enough attention that when I was vying for the attention from the prettier girls or from the cooler people, it was like aggression started happening. So, I learned early on to saddle up with the bigger, stronger, cooler kids.

That’s where I learned to connect. It was a self-protection mechanism and I was always like the side kick. You know what I mean?

Johnny:  Yes, I have this perfect mental image.

David: I just did a therapeutic brain dump.

Johnny:  You just did a cleanse there. Last question, let’s talk about being a generalist versus being a specialist. Here’s specifically what I mean. I think that you and I are similar in this way that we both seem a little ADD about things. I have a ton of interests, I can’t succinctly describe what it is I do, and I have to list this, this, this and this.

It seems that you’re a lot the same way, that you have a lot of irons in the fire. I just wanted to get your thoughts on doing a lot of things versus saying you know what, this is what I do, I’m a painter or something, and that’s what I do. Rather than I do so many things I can’t describe what it is that I do.

David:  So, what do you want to know about my thoughts on which is better or my thoughts on where I fall in that? I missed the question.

Johnny:  I don’t actually ask questions.

David:  The ADD brains.

Johnny:  Right.  My MO is just I say things and then I see if somebody picks up on it.

David:  So, I guess I’ll touch on both.

Johnny:  Riff on it.

DavidI think which is better is not valid. I think that for each individual, you’ve got to find your way. There are times and places and context where it’s better for someone to really buckle down and become a specialist even if they are a generalist. But that may not be the way they should be forever.

Some people should be generalists. I’m a big Buckminster Fuller fan and that was his thing. I mean the polymath. Back in the day we were all generalists. You couldn’t survive if you weren’t back in pre-industrial revolution. You had to know a lot of stuff or you would die.

But now we are post-industrialism, information age, and I think we’re moving back to generalists but there’s value in being for money, for sure.

I’ve heard a bunch of my wealthy friends say the trick to getting wealthy is just really focus and double, triple, quadruple down on a skill that has a lot of financial value in the marketplace. Typically there’s not that many people who have doubled or tripled down on it, so it’s really not that hard if you have more than half a brain and some discipline.

I think there’s a lot of value in specialization and being a specialist. So that’s my riff on that.

For me, that’s a perpetual struggle for me and one that I do similar to the selling out versus heart, selling out versus heart. I specialize just enough so that I can be known, or have credibility, or have expertise so that I can get to the next level.

If I hadn’t specialized, for the longest time I didn’t, as creating an affiliate management agency, because I’ve been running Internet Marketing Party for almost eight years, and I only started my affiliate management agency three years ago.

So for the prior five years people were saying what does Dave do? I had sold a million dollar a year hypnotherapy center and I had a staff of twelve. I had money and I didn’t pay enough attention and I burned through that money over the course of those following five, six, seven years.

Then I had to specialize and that’s how I ended up meeting Danny. If I hadn’t specialized I’d just have been that guy that’s like I don’t know what he does but he’s always networking at events.

That’s what I mean by most networkers, part of their problem is they’re ADD and they love people and they loving connecting, but they never…

Johnny:  They never do anything with it.

David:  They always stay at comfort level of never like bam, feet to the fire, shit hits the fans, fuck I’ve got to make something happen.

I have some good mentors and great friends that help me be like dude, I see the pain and the struggle and the angst that you have and it’s always going to be there because all your friends are multi-millionaires and you’re driving a beat up car and live in an out-of-date house.

It was really weighing on me. I was starting to get really depressed to the point of it being really bad. A couple of my friends pulled me aside and they were like dude, you’ve got to start focusing on base heads, get your ego out of the way. Pick one thing, do it, do it, do it again, keep doing it until you build something that you can build, go from there.

And that’s how my agency started and now I wouldn’t say it runs without me, but if I went away for a month, it wouldn’t go away. I feel blessed and lucky to say that’s the case.

So, that’s my riff on specialization versus generalization.

Johnny:  Good riff. I could ask you eighty more questions but I won’t because your assistant’s going to kill you and then it would be the eighty questions podcast and that doesn’t make any sense. So, we’ll close this up but thanks so much for joining us on Eight Questions, Dave.

David:  Thank you so much. Johnny, I really appreciate it. It’s been fun. My hope is that at the very least you and ideally your listeners have enjoyed it as much as I’ve enjoyed sharing, because I enjoy the fuck out of this. I like talking. So, I really hope at least one person got value from it because then it won’t feel that I was just a selfish bastard.

Johnny:  I’m sure that they did

Johnny B. Truant is the author of the Fat Vampire series and The Bialy Pimps, in addition to everything he has written with Sean at Realm & Sands.

Johnny and his family live in Austin, Texas (after several years of planning to move and complaining about life in northern Ohio).

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