Jeff Zelaya: Hey guys. Thanks for joining us today. This is Jeff Zelaya and I am so excited to have a Guinness World Record holder on the show today, my good friend Alex Cequea. Earlier this year, I mean I remember talking about it like it was yesterday. He was telling me, “Jeff, I have this dream of having the longest speech ever and just talking for a record amount of time.”
Part of me was excited for him and part of me was like, “Man, that’s really a long time. Alex, can you really do it?” He came out victorious. This guy exceeded anyone’s wildest expectations and just broke a record, a world record. So Alex, thanks so much for being on the show today and welcome.
Alex Cequea: Thank you for having me man. It’s a pleasure.
Jeff Zelaya: You remember the last chat that we did, right? We were just talking about it. It was just a little baby of a vision and tell us what has happened since then. Give me the elevator summary of what you’ve been through since our last Google Hangout.
Alex Cequea: Well, I went through the record attempt. It was for Longest Speech Marathon. It was the actual title and basically, it’s a series of back to back presentations. So I could take a break after speaking for every 60 minutes. I could take a five-minute break and I just needed to keep it up for almost 37 hours to break the record.
Jeff Zelaya: Wow.
Alex Cequea: So that’s what I did and I did it in June 8th which was my birthday. I made that my birthday present to myself, to do something really hard and it was great. I got a lot of publicity right beforehand. I was on the Houston Chronicle and San Francisco Chronicle picked this up. This is also thanks to you because you helped me a little bit with some of this promotion, sending out press releases and stuff.
So it has been really great. I’ve been giving a few presentations talking about what I learned and what the process was like and preparing for it and it was a trip. It was a trip for sure.
Jeff Zelaya: Man, that’s exciting. I know like my mom told me. She’s like, “I saw Alex on Univision” because you were on Spanish news.
Alex Cequea: That’s right.
Jeff: Tell me about that man. How did that happen?
Alex: Oh, that was cool. So that came through my aunt who had a contact, a friend of hers that knew somebody who knows somebody. So they actually surprised me with that coverage for NBC and Univision. They set it up and when I came back to Houston to visit my family, they greeted me at the airport with a whole crew.
Jeff: Wow. Surprise! Good thing that you looked good. You were prepared. You weren’t half asleep. It worked out well, right?
Alex: Yeah. I pulled it off.
Jeff: Now Alex, I think part of – this is a very inspirational, motivational story for people that are watching because number one, you set a goal that people thought was impossible but yet you prepared. You practiced and you did it. You were victorious and I think that’s a great motivational story for people that are watching this. Set goals. Go after it and you could accomplish it and break a record and I think that’s amazing Alex.
The other part I want to talk about is what you learned and how you grew from not just doing that marathon speech but also in the preparation for the speech. If you could share with me the insight as a public speaker, what were some of the things that you took away from this entire experience besides the record attempt?
Alex: Yeah, I really appreciate you saying that. My goal with this whole thing was to inspire people to do unique things that are out of the ordinary. In terms of preparation and what I learned, a lot, a lot of different things.
I went into it trying to prepare as much as I possibly could. So what I did is I reached out to people who had held the record previously including the person who currently held a record and I tried to just ask them for advice for preparation and I think just as a general rule, anytime you’re trying to do something, look for the people who are already doing it and ask them for advice.
So that’s something that I really appreciated through the process. The guy who originally set the record, he’s a pastor from Florida. His name is Mike Frazier. He contacted me back. He set the record by giving a sermon for 28 hours and so he reached back – oh, you’re muted by the way. Yeah, so he emailed back and he was super helpful, really excited about the whole thing and he said, “Look, I will totally help you. It’s going to be so amazing. I will give you the tips of how I prepared.” So he gave me a lot of interesting pointers like practice what food to eat that doesn’t require a lot of chewing so that I can keep talking while I’m eating.
For example, he told me that the most important thing was to really have my bullet points down for every hour of the presentation and have it all scheduled so tightly down to the minute so that I don’t have to think about that. So I can just be there and go and keep going and trying to do it.
So I used all of that, all of that preparation.
Jeff: That’s awesome to hear because you would think that someone that has broken the record wouldn’t want anyone else to try to break their record. This is mine. I’m not going to tell you my secret because I want to be the world record holder but to know that he was willing to share and give you some tips that actually helped you and beating his record, I think that’s amazing.
The other part about it is that what I really like about this is with – success leaves clues. So you did the right thing by not trying to go about it and figure out on your own but let’s see who has been successful at doing this and let’s ask them. Let’s approach him and you will be surprised, like with the case of this gentleman that he was very open and he wanted to help you in accomplishing and beating what the record he set. So that’s awesome.
Alex: Yeah, absolutely. He was very helpful and just to clarify, somebody had broken his record. So he wasn’t currently the record holder but he was so excited about somebody trying it. I mean he was just super supportive, really, really cool guy. So really cool.
Jeff: So having you win was like payback for the guy that beat him. That’s what he wanted to do, right?
Alex: Yeah. It was revenge. I was avenging his honor.
Jeff: Yes. So you did the Guinness World Record. You got great fanfare, were in the news, national news, all over the country and then you did the tour right afterwards so you went to different colleges and spoke about your experience. How has that been so far, like after this world record attempt?
Alex: It has been really cool. I haven’t done a lot of speaking specifically about the world record afterwards but I have given some talks about it and mostly in the context of how to get a publicity and media for a thing. I’m a big fan of doing events to get publicity because when – all the information is accessible all the time right now. But when you have an event, it’s a place and a time.
So inherently in the event, it kind of forces people to pay attention at least for that time and you have a good excuse for getting media stuff. You can tell them this thing is happening at this place and at this time. It’s not an ongoing thing that doesn’t have timeliness to it.
So I’m a big fan of using events to get media and so I’ve been giving talks about that aspect of it, of how I was able to get media. I also got like the local ABC News affiliate in Iowa to interview me and feature me and stuff. I was on the news.
Jeff: That’s awesome. I think that’s something that I really love because I am a marketing consultant. I work in PR. So a couple of things that I love what you did. You got out. You build a lot of buzz around this day of the event. You had a day set. This is the time you were doing some live streaming. You partnered with your university as well and they were promoting it a lot, your alma matter.
Jeff: You got out that press release. That broadcast, you sent it across; the associated press. You had family which is great. People, your connections helping you out, going up to that and saying, “Hey, you got to interview this guy. He’s going to be coming from this flight.” So you’ve had a lot of cool things that you were doing at the same time to really promote this awesome event. What else were you doing behind the scenes or in conjunction with all those different channels?
Alex: Well, I was reaching out to a lot of people individually too. I almost got Red Bull to be a main sponsor of the event and that happened through it, via Twitter. Craziness. I was about –maybe two weeks or a month before the event, I did a trial run where I just stayed awake for as long as I could and made notes about how I felt so that I would have a sense of like when I should eat and what times I usually get tired and all of that. Just get a feel for doing the whole thing.
Originally I wanted to do the entire thing, like actually in my living room, like give the whole presentation for 37 hours and take the breaks when I was supposed to. But as the time drew closer, I was afraid that if I did it, I was going to be wiped out and then I would have to recover to then do it for real. That was going to be insanity. So I just stayed away. Go ahead.
Jeff: Tell me about your recovery because that’s an interesting point, right? You went through this probably adrenaline rushing excitement that you completed it. You’ve been up hours and hours and hours on end, probably pump full of caffeine. What was the reaction afterwards? How did you recover from that amazing event?
Alex: It was pretty brutal. Right after I finished, I went into a hysterical laugh attack and I was just like cracking up with my friends right after it happened because just I was so tired and my mind was completely gone and it was just so funny to me.
What did I just do? Just started cracking up. Then I went home and I slept for two days, just on and off. Yeah. On and off, just sleep, wake up, in a haze and then go back to sleep, wake up in a haze, go back to sleep for two days straight. Yeah.
Jeff: Wow! Hats off to you, Alex. That’s amazing that you were able to go through that and that’s pretty good. Two days to recover and then now you’re back. After that you’re back to your normal routine and speaking of normal routines, I know you. You did this kind of as a side project and a part of you, your fulltime job with iPhone Life Magazine. So tell me a little bit about your day job. What is it that you’re doing during the day? How does public speaking tie into that role as well and marketing and PR?
Alex: Well, I’m one of the owners of iPhone Life Magazine for your viewers who don’t know and that’s kind of my main job. Actually iPhone Life Magazine is one of our products. We’re a publishing company Mango Life Media and we also do some software and some other things. But our main, main thing that we do is iPhone Life Magazine. We’re actually in the process of launching an Android publication. So we’re going to end up having iPhone Life Magazine and Android Life, so very exciting, a lot of cool things happening in the business front.
Myself personally, I actually want to go back to the point about publicity and just for your viewers in terms of promoting a website or SEO, I had a surprise after the event which was that because I was trying to get publicity for the actual day, but it didn’t occur to me a side benefit was going to be all this amazing link backs from really reputable sources.
So like you said, my university was a sponsor and was helping to promote it. So I have a nice dot edu link back which if you know about SEO, you know how valuable that is and then I have link backs from news organizations, from major news organizations. So that’s really valuable.
So after the attempt, I actually wanted to rebrand a little bit around me as opposed to Public Speaking Guy. I have a website http://www.PublicSpeakingGuy.com where I talk about public speaking and all that. But I found that I was writing and talking a lot about technology and social good and PR and public speaking kind of in a larger context, so I wanted to rebrand.
So I stopped updating my public speaking sites and I didn’t look at the analytics for about for like two or three months. Then when I came back, after there were record attempts, I had a big spike that day and then it just kind of died down and then slowly, no update on content. The traffic just started going up on its own.
Then I look at my analytics and 90 plus percent of my traffic was coming from Google, from search referrals, from search results. So I started appearing in all the search results because my site has more authority because it’s getting link backs from all these other reputable sites. Right now, I’m getting over 1000 unique visitors a month on my sites and I haven’t updated it since June.
Jeff: That’s amazing. So I mean it goes to the point of having an event. Not only is it good because you get tons of eyeballs the day of the event but the residual benefit of what went into that event, all the work, all the publicity, all the PR, the press release, talking to the media, the partnerships.
Over time, all these links bring a lot of value to your website. Now they’re pointing to you saying, “Alex is the authority,” and over time Google recognizes that and you become more of a leader in this public space or in the public speaking space and because of that, you’re getting great organic traffic. What do you plan to do with that? Now you have this visibility. You’re earning that audience. Are you going to rebrand? Are you going to just add on to what you’ve got?
Alex: Well, it’s a good question because I was torn. I was like I don’t know what to do now because I have all this traffic coming to the site and I definitely want to rebrand and I actually did rebrand. I just launched a new site www.AlexCequea.com, just my name, where I write about tech and social good and any experiments that I’m doing because I’m always doing kind of fun stuff like that, like the world record attempt. So I launched it and what I do with my old site is I say hey guys – I was going to close it down.
But no, there’s so much gold in that. So I just left it up and just kind of point it to my new sites for people who arrive there and say, “Hey guys, if you want to check out my new site. This site is not going to be updated.” So I will leave it up as long as possible, as long as I can.
Jeff: I think that you did the right thing by not taking it down because it’s kind of like people talk about like how to get their credit score better. You don’t do it by closing down credit cards. You do it by keeping them open because they have that time that they’ve earned. You can never get that time back so they’re aging and that’s a good thing actually in Google’s eyes.
So that’s awesome and then you redirect the traffic that does come in there. Hey, there’s great content already there but if you want the newest or freshest stuff, come look at my personal blog www.AlexCequea.com and then I think that’s a great strategy to take.
With the public speaking, another idea is to open that up for guest submissions because I mean you are connected with a lot of public speakers. Myself, one of them and you have other friends that are also in the public speaking business, so maybe having it as look, this is kind of a resource for public speakers. If you got something that aligns with my blog, go ahead and submit it to me and just post it on there and it just becomes its own kind of entity and separated from you but still has a life which is great.
Alex: Yeah, that’s a great idea. I hadn’t thought of that. Cool.
Jeff: Then now you get the SEO benefit, still alive and pumping which we want to definitely – the result of that, great, it’s traffic. But what about people that are coming up to you and saying, “Hey, Alex can you come talk to my group?” Have you got any leads or opportunities to speak because of this traffic, this awareness that you now have?
Alex: I have. I’ve gotten a few people come up and say, hey – now that I’ve built this reputation of being the guy who speaks and breaks records and stuff, some people want to come and they want me to come talk to their group or talk at their event or something like that. Another thing that has happened too is that after I did my Guinness World Record, I got Google Glass. So I’m one of the –I’m a Glass explorer. I’m one of the 10,000 that Google picked to get Google Glass early. So I’ve also been giving some presentations about that because people are very curious about it. It’s cool technology. Actually I have them right here. I can put them on.
Jeff: While you’re doing that, I will take this time. I know we got a couple of minutes left. Just to recap the valuable insight that I gained from our conversation or hangout, I think number one, the most important lesson here is whatever goal you achieve or whatever goal you could set, you can achieve.
It’s a possible goal. How is he going to do that? People said, “No, you can’t do it.” A lot of people didn’t believe that he was able to do it and he proved to everyone. He did it. He made it happen. I think that’s a great inspiration and motivational story. When you set your mind to something, you are able to accomplish that.
If you take away all the PR that went into making this into a success, it was a lot of different things. It’s not just one thing that he focused on. Alex is very diverse in how he promotes. He used partnerships, the traditional friends, network, this established network to help him in promoting this and raising awareness.
He did press releases. He had people talk about it and tweet about it and he looked for sponsors. He almost got Red Bull as a sponsor. He got Prezi. I know Prezi was one of the sponsors. So a lot of partnerships came because of your social …