Kenny Hyder had so much going for him, and then he suffered a massive heart attack that left him with more questions than answers.
[00:00:16.685] – TAMAR:
Hey everyone, I am so excited. This is Episode 50. This is the final episode of 2020. You’re bringing out the year. This is my friend Kenny Hyder. Thank you so much for bringing out the year. How’s it going? How are you doing?
[00:00:33.065] – Kenny Hyder:
I’m glad this is finally over and not that the annual calendar changes anything, but hopefully looking up into next year.
[00:00:42.545] – TAMAR:
So the Jewish calendar, there’s this whole thing of how things would be better when that happens. The lunar year in like September. And you’re right [laugh], we’re not really sure. But I think there’s stuff starting to look a little bit better. I would like to think so. Hopefully the calendar year, it is more than symbolism here,
[00:01:02.915] – Kenny Hyder:
Right. Fingers crossed.
[00:01:04.485] – TAMAR:
Yeah. So thank you so much for joining. Talk to me. Where you from and what’s what’s going on in your world?
[00:01:13.565] – Kenny Hyder:
So I’m from San Diego originally and I currently live in downtown Los Angeles. I’ve been here for about six years. Previous to that, I spent eleven years in Santa Barbara, which is a beautiful place, but it’s also very small. So it’s good to be in a real city. It comes to a point where you want to be around adults and Santa Barbara is kind of a college town, so I hit a critical mass and I had to get out of there at one point. But yeah, I [am a] SoCal native. I understand a lot of people, actually, a lot of my friends are kind of naysayers on California, which I understand. But my family’s here and it was 84 degrees yesterday, so I’m just laughing at everyone opening their doors to foots full of snow. No, exactly.
[00:01:59.015] – TAMAR:
It’s funny. I had a dentist appointment this morning. Thank God I can talk now. But one of the things that they kept texting me. “Can you come? Can you come? Can you come?” And they wanted it a lot more than twenty four hours in advance. And I said, well I don’t know if my driveway is [walkable, if] I’m going to slip when I walk outside. You know, you don’t have those challenges.
[00:02:18.305] – Kenny Hyder:
[00:02:20.645] – TAMAR:
So tell me a little bit that about where you are career wise, what you do and if you have a story. You know, Kenny and I know each other a long time. We’ve actually met in the search engine space. I’m jumping the gun here, but I don’t know this this stuff about you. I’m coming here. It’s interesting. I know some marketing guys, Nick Ayers. I did something a few weeks ago with him and he’s like, “I’m a musician who became a marketer.” And I’m like, oh, I didn’t know that, so it’s going to be interesting to kind of learn a little bit about your story and where you’ve come from and where you are today in that context.
[00:03:02.645] – Kenny Hyder:
Yeah, absolutely. In high school I was a pretty nerdy kid. My schedule was always full AP classes and all that sort of stuff. I had high expectations of myself for a college career and that sort of thing. At one point, I was thinking I would go to college and study pure math and do a real nerdy route. But then I remember very distinctly actually one time sitting down with my parents and talking about college options. I was sending out applications. And my dad looks at me and he goes, “So how are you going to pay for college?” And I was like, “Oh, what?” And he’s like, “You could take out a loan or do this kind of stuff.” And I was like, “oh, I hadn’t thought of that.” At the time, being, seventeen, eighteen, thinking about taking out a loan, which I’d never done in my life, for more money that I never thought of, didn’t seem like a viable option. So to my parents’ detriment, decided, “oh well, I guess I’m not going to go to college.” They were like, well, “you have to go to college,” I was like, “well, I don’t have the money and I don’t wanna take out a loan and you guys aren’t going to pay for it, so you can’t make me.”
[00:04:16.205] – Kenny Hyder:
So I ended up, just out of high school, I got a job doing construction. I worked for San Diego Fence Builders for a while and then actually got a hernia on the job there and then ended up getting sort of shaisted out of Worker’s Compensation just because I didn’t play my cards right. And they’re not really on your side. So I ended up kind of following another year or so of doing other various construction jobs. I worked for a contractor and then I moved up to Santa Barbara and worked for a sheet metal company and was doing rain gutter installation and some light HVAC work and stuff like that, and then winter hit and, you know, it was this is back in 2003 or 4. Basically it was a La Nina year or so in Santa Barbara, it was just raining a ton. And, you know, when it’s raining outside, you’re not allowed to be up on a ladder as per OSHA rules. So all of the workers for this sheet metal shop that I worked at typically just got laid off, you know, for the winter and collected unemployment until weather got better so that they can go back to work daily. So I took that and the company voluntarily laid me off because I asked them to. And then I actually went to a temp agency to find another job. I actually worked for Raytheon for a few months doing some Pascal code editing and manufacturing circuit boards and some kind of technical work and stuff. But that was only like a three month contract or something and then ended up getting another temp job for this equipment brokerage company in Santa Barbara. They bought and sold like large power equipment, like really large transformers and generators and things like that. They basically were kind of a startupy sort of environment. I think they had five employees or something at the time. I got a contract there to basically just do data entry, which was monotonous and terrible, basically just taking stuff off the paper and inputting into Excel spreadsheets. But that first week, I always, like I said, been kind of a nerdy kid. My first computer was a 386 I had to learn DOS for because Microsoft Windows wasn’t out yet. I was very computer savvy. And my first week at this brokerage company, I helped a couple of the people with some of their, you know, computer problems and email problems and stuff like that, and they came to me and they’re like, “hey, you’re you’re pretty good with computers. Do you know how to build websites?” I didn’t, but I said, “yeah, of course.” And they’re like, “because we need a webmaster.” Back in the days when webmaster was a title and they’re like, “maybe we could hire you full time and get you out of this temp agency.” I interviewed there with a couple of people that had already been working with for a couple of weeks doing data entry. At the time, I was living in a house in this community called Isla Vista, which is just outside of UC Santa Barbara. It’s basically like a kind of a square mile area where all the college kids live and go to the college next door. I was living there [in] like a three bedroom duplex, it was me and five other guys, those two guys per bedrooms, just total college environment. But one of the the guys in the house there was this guy named Austin, who I’m still friends with actually today. I’ve gotten to know his family, but he was real big into [Macromedia] Flash design and had won some awards and doing some really cool stuff back when Flash was like the thing to do.
[00:08:26.695] – TAMAR:
Yeah, I remember. Those are very cool. I used to download all the SWF files that I possibly knew because they were so cool. I probably got some of Austin’s designs.
[00:08:36.925] – Kenny Hyder:
He won like a Webby and all that stuff back then. I kind of went into these series of interviews for a webmaster position, knowing in my back pocket I had a buddy that knew how to build websites. I ended up getting the job and went home and talked to Austin. And I was like, “hey, I need to learn how to build websites.” And he’s like, “what, why?” And I was like “because I just got a job doing it,” He’s like, “are you kidding me? How did you do that?” I just like “I told them I knew how to build websites. I’d figure it out later, you know, I don’t know.” He gave me one of those laminated fold-out things that they used to sell at like Borders with like instructions on basics of topics. He gave me one of those.
[00:09:17.935] – TAMAR:
I had those cheat sheets, too.
[00:09:20.725] – Kenny Hyder:
He gave me one of those for HTML. I studied that and bought some books and started this job and was basically just kind of like deferring work for a couple of weeks until I could learn the skills to actually build the website [laugh]. I had some experience with Photoshop so I kind of designed this really shitty looking (I don’t know if we’re allowed to [curse], I’m really sorry about that.
[00:09:43.015] – TAMAR:
No, go ahead. I don’t care anymore.
[00:09:47.095] – Kenny Hyder:
Anyway, I kind of designed this website that was better than what this company had and built them a website and stuff and ended up working out. I got OK at HTML and CSS and started managing their website and then after a couple of months of that, I was really heavy on just reading a ton of blogs and trying to learn as much as I could. I was getting paid for it, eight hours a day. Three hours of it, I’d spend reading blogs on trying to educate myself. Back then, this whole SEO thing was was kind of new. And I started seeing some blogs. I saw Michael Grey’s Greywolf blog. And that also at the time when Rand [Fishkin] started his first blog. So I started reading all this kind of stuff and just kind of learning and thinking, “oh, this seems doable.” [I] basically went to the president of the company and asked him for a budget to try to approach getting him some leads through SEO because their whole model was basically kind of an old school sales floor thing, and they just had a bunch of guys calling in—guys and gals were calling people and keeping track of equipment that was for sale and then trying to find people that were buying that equipment, and then they just trying to make commissions off of it. Once they’d find a buyer, they’d go buy the thing that they needed and then sell it to him at a markup. I built their online database that just listed all of these pieces of equipment that they had connections to that they could potentially buy if they found someone that they could sell it to. [I] integrated a big database online that ended up getting indexed, and [then] the website started ranking for these terms. So you search for, you know, Gentech generator model, blah, blah, blah, eighteen hundred kilowatts or something like that and our website would pop up because I had a page for each one and just put it online. That first month that we were live and indexed, I got more leads for the company than the entire sales floor which at that time had grown to like 30 people.
[00:12:04.445] – TAMAR:
[00:12:05.705] – Kenny Hyder:
It kind of turned some heads, and they’re like, “oh, wow, this really works.” And I was like, “yeah, I guess it does!” [laugh] Surprise to me! But wow, this is awesome! Then I went to my first conference, which was SES [Search Engine Strategies] in I think that was 2006, it was Danny [Sullivan]’s last SES, [which] was the first conference I ever attended and [I] started meeting some people and went back home with a bunch of new knowledge and this motivation and sparkle in my eye that, [said] “oh, wow, there’s people out here doing this! This is like a real thing! This could be a career path!” I convinced my boss at the job to let me basically go in as early as possible and not take a lunch break so that I could go home and start trying to get my own clients. Eventually, I took on a couple of partners. One guy, this friend of mine now named Rheinhardt, this German guy who was a developer and knew all the languages then and was just really intelligent and had had been writing code for some time. He worked actually for a local ISP in Santa Barbara and built their systems to serve Internet to all of Santa Barbara. So he was much more savvy Internet than I was at the time. So, you know, we basically started soliciting some clients and landed a few clients. I was able to quit my job and start this agency and went on that full time and built that up to ten employees or something like that. We were doing pretty good. I mean, we had like one hundred and thirty thousand in billables monthly or something like that, and then got connected actually to Position Tech, which is still around based out of Chicago with] SEO Jim Staub, who’s on the board of Pubcon and one of the old hats in the Internet industry. And, you know, basically he bought out my agency and bought out my office lease and all the furniture that we had and all that stuff. We merged under his brand. And that was where my career really took off then, because back then and still, you know, Yahoo! Was the prominent search engine and Position Tech actually used to run all of Yahoo’s traffic. All their traffic ran through Position Tech’s servers because of these old products, Search Submit Pro and Search Inclusion, which was like a paid organic product that ended up being deprecated because of a lot of flak that Yahoo! got for organic [traffic], not actually being organic. Funny how things turn out today with Google and everyone’s complaining about ads all over, [the] above the fold real estate. At Position Tech I had the experience of working with some really large clients, Staples and Petco and all these household brands and really learned a lot and picked up a lot. Then I started doing some speaking and stuff like that. Then, after a couple of years, it turns out I preferred not to work for other people. So, in 2009, [I] went back out on my own under the brand Hyder Media, which is what I’m doing today. I was really heavy in SEO. My first few years running Hyder Media, I picked up some sizable clients in the payday loan space and weight loss and gambling and was doing all kinds of that “not so shiny vertical”—
[00:15:47.635] – TAMAR:
[00:15:48.235] – Kenny Hyder:
—type stuff. [I] did that for a long time. Then, five or six years ago as Google started getting real volatile brushed back up on my PPC skills. Under Position Tech, AdWords certified and all that and went through all those programs and everything just because I had to know everything, because we had clients that were very large. I needed to be savvy all around. But after I was back out on my own, under Hyder Media, things took off with the SEO side. I got known as one of the guys that does all those shady verticals and that provided plenty of revenue for me. So I was just solely focused on that. But then five, six years ago, I can’t remember exactly in 2014, 15, I was seeing this huge transition in Google and it was like I think it might be time to brush off those paid skills again. And so now that’s primarily what I’m focused on, paid search and social. I still run a client business. Now, the cool thing is, I still do a fair amount of SEO, but it’s not what I’m expected to do.
[00:16:59.125] – TAMAR:
It’s just like a bonus to my clients that I know it really well. So it works out. I work from home. You know, this covid thing really wasn’t a change for me in terms of work lifestyle, because I’ve always worked from home, but I definitely have to get dressed more often. I can’t sit around in my robe because now everyone wants a Zoom call.
[00:17:20.835] – TAMAR:
It doesn’t have to be a robe. It could be an undershirt.
[00:17:25.785] – Kenny Hyder:
Right. Right. Yeah. [laughs]
[00:17:28.185] – TAMAR:
The robe is a little too telling.
[00:17:32.785] – Kenny Hyder:
I’ve got T-shirts. I put on a T-shirt when I got to get on a video call.
[00:17:37.105] – TAMAR:
So we’re not on a video call for anybody listening. I can’t tell if he’s really wearing or anything. [Kenny laughs]
[00:17:45.095] – TAMAR:
Yeah. That’s cool. That’s an interesting story, coming from that world and learning how people have evolved into search marketing, especially because in the early [years], 10, 15 years ago, this was like an evolving period. And if you wanted to do something in web design, you had to be unconventional. I majored in computer science. Why did I major in computer science? Because I was the only thing that got me to work on a computer. But I didn’t like [it], I didn’t want to code. That wasn’t my thing. I wanted to interact with people online. I loved communicating with people online. So what’s the closest degree to that? Maybe psychology. So I minored in psychology. Maybe sociology. So I took a class in sociology as part of my psychology minor. But no, it was because, computer science was the closest thing to do to do that. So like your little foray into web design that brought you into search engine marketing, I mean, it’s cool. It’s a cool story.
[00:18:48.825] – Kenny Hyder:
Back then I like I really wanted to be a web designer. I thought that that was like the cool thing to do. I just, I never was really, really great at design. There was always, like I said, my my friend Austin had won Webby [Awards] and stuff for flash design. He doesn’t do any of that stuff now. But he’s still a better graphic designer than I am. It just turned out that clients wanted to pay me for the marketing side. And I just kind of fell into that. I actually remember a turning point once where I was like, “well, I guess I’m not going to be a designer. I guess you got to go where the money is.” And it ended up working out, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
[00:19:31.515] – Kenny Hyder:
Now, looking at just the state of things today, graphic designers are everywhere, and there’s some that are that are very, very prominent, I guess, and that make the big bucks or whatever. But I think it’s a lot easier to run a successful business in the marketing world than it is to run a successful web design business just because it’s so much so much web, and now everything’s all template-based everywhere anyway. There’s not really as big a need for some illustrious graphic designer to design your website, you know what I mean? It’s all about the performance of the website.
[00:20:12.375] – TAMAR:
Yeah. You could you could pull a very nice logo, just getting a couple of templates. And if not, there’s sites like BannerSnack and Canva obviously. These things are beautiful these days. But if not, you could always use like 99designs.com. It’s hard because there are highly qualified people out there. I still have a designer who I need to focus on, but it’s difficult. Where did I find her?I found her on Fiverr
[00:20:38.175] – Kenny Hyder:
[00:20:39.525] – TAMAR:
Yeah it’s interesting. She’s very, very good and she’s actually in New York. She’s actually going to be on the podcast in a few weeks. It was totally random. She emailed me like yesterday saying “I want to be on your podcast.” So I’m like, “oh, cool.” I’m happy to have her. I think it’s great. Cool.
[00:21:01.545] – TAMAR:
So let’s move into your, the story that I don’t know. Besides the fact that Kenny has broken and he’s nursing a broken leg right now [laughs], that might tie into some of the challenges that he’s dealing with. I don’t think that’s your adversity story. So I think you might have one that I don’t know. So, feel free to get vulnerable here because, sometimes this and I know I’ve thrown it out to you without really giving you that introduction, but we’ve had folks cry on the on the podcast and it gets pretty emotional. If you’re able, if you want to be an open book like this, by all means. But you don’t have to be.
[00:21:39.955] – Kenny Hyder:
Yeah, so, I’ve had a few moments of adversity, I suppose, starting in, I got married at a really young age when I was 21 in 2006 and then subsequently divorced in 2010, which was a pretty challenging time and a very expensive endeavor.
[00:22:05.605] – Kenny Hyder:
But, you know, after that, towards the end of 2010, my career was really starting to take off. I was dealing with this divorce and it was a huge headache. My head was foggy all the time and I kind of fell into a little bit of a spiral and ended up on the other end with two children from two other different women that weren’t my ex wife. That’s been its own interesting and colorful story throughout the years. But really, the biggest moment was in 2015, four days after my 30th birthday, I suffered a massive heart attack. It was a Saturday morning and I was supposed to be heading to Vegas to speak at an Affiliate Summit, which I was a regular speaker there for over a number of years.
[00:23:08.245] – Kenny Hyder:
I had borrowed, one of my friends had this kind of like camper van with a bed in it and stuff that I’ve been borrowing just for fun. I was supposed to be heading to Vegas. And she calls me up and was like, “hey, can I get my van back before you go to Vegas?” And I was like, “oh, sure.” So I had to get my stuff out of there. I’m rushing because I’m supposed to be hopping in a car to Vegas to get there on time. I’m in this van, you can stand up [in it]. Well, I could almost. I’m 6’3″. I could almost stand up in it. I’m just trying to get stuff out of there. And all of a sudden something came over me and I broke out into a sweat.
[00:23:47.095] – Kenny Hyder:
And my left arm went numb and then my right leg went numb. I was just standing there in this van, sweating through my jeans, like “what is going on?” My girlfriend at the time was like, “oh, my God, what is it? Are you OK?” She had a friend that was a doctor. The friend I was borrowing the van from is actually a labor and delivery nurse.
[00:24:14.245] – Kenny Hyder:
I really didn’t know what was going on. Maybe I’m having like a panic attack or an anxiety attack. I don’t know what’s going on. After about 45 minutes, [I] ended up driving to the hospital, which turns out was the wrong thing to do. Always call an ambulance is the moral of the story, which I didn’t think of.
[00:24:34.060] – TAMAR:
[00:24:34.465] – Kenny Hyder:
Well, the reason is because an ambulance can treat you as soon as they get to you. They can treat you during the time of travel.
[00:24:44.755] – TAMAR:
So then you’re waiting in the waiting room in the hospital. I see.
[00:24:47.395] – Kenny Hyder:
Right. So I get to the hospital and walk up and there’s this nurse, the intake nurse and she’s like, what’s the problem? I said, “I think I’m having a heart attack.” And she looks at me and she goes, “How old are you?” And I was like, “Well, I just turned 30.” And she kind of chuckled. She’s like, “you’re not having a heart attack.”
[00:25:06.265] – Kenny Hyder:
And then she, you know, put a blood pressure cuff on me and she’s like, “oh, you are a bit hypertensive.” And I was like, what does that mean? She’s like, “well, your blood pressure’s high, you know, let’s do an EKG.” They put me on this table and hooked me up to an EKG machine and they run this EKG and the doctor comes up to me and shoves this EKG in my face while I’m laying on this table. And he goes, “Did you do cocaine?” Still to this day, I’ve never done cocaine in my life. I go, “no.” And he goes, “Did you do cocaine?” I was like, “no, I didn’t do cocaine.” He’s like, “Are you sure you didn’t do cocaine?” I was like, “Doctor, I drink too much and I smoke weed every day, but I’ve never done cocaine in my life.”
[00:25:52.315] – Kenny Hyder:
And he goes, “Well, you’re not having a heart attack. You’re having a massive heart attack.” He’s like, “we need to get you into an operating room now.” And I just, wow I guess [I see why] people break out into tears. I just broke out crying and I was just like, “oh, oh. Is this it?” Wow, I didn’t really expect to expect to cry to tell a story,
[00:26:24.965] – TAMAR:
There you go! There it is! There it is! All right. No, I can’t ruin that moment. I would give you [a hug]. We’re as far as can be because you’re in California and I’m like, you know, the other side of the country. But I’d give you my my virtual hug. It’s completely there. It’s a nice warm [hug].
[00:26:47.255] – Kenny Hyder:
And anyway, I just remember at the time, so in Santa Barbara, there’s a a little town just north, you know, that’s basically part of Santa Barbara called Goleta. The Goleta Hospital was the closest one because that’s where my friend with the van lived and they’re like, “oh, we need to get you to Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara now,” so they put me in an ambulance and drove me down there and in the ambulance, you know, they were they given me a bunch of morphine and a bunch of nitros, which open up your vascularity and stuff like that.
[00:27:29.005] – Kenny Hyder:
After I think they put an I.V. in me and they give me, I think, like four doses of morphine or something. The EMT in the back of the ambulance with me is like, you know, “how do you feel?” And I was like, “well, I feel really high, but it’s hurting a lot still.” He’s like, “OK, I don’t think you need any more morphine. I don’t think that’s going to help,” I just remember getting rolled out of the ambulance. This was in January, my birthday’s in January, but it was like 75 degrees out and sunny. And I remember just, you know, getting pulled out of this ambulance in broad daylight and I see my friend Cheryl and my ex-girlfriend there. I just, was like “please call my mom,” you know?
[00:28:21.955] – TAMAR:
[00:28:28.255] – Kenny Hyder:
That was the last thing I remember until I don’t even know how much time had passed when I woke up on the operating table because they were defibrillating me.
[00:28:41.035] – TAMAR:
That’s terrifying. Was that after? That was before…
[00:28:47.005] – Kenny Hyder:
It was during the surgery. They were operating on me. And I was awakened the third or fourth time they defibrillated me and it woke me up and then they did it again and I sat up and they’re like, “lay down!” And I was like, “stop doing this to me!” They’re like “this hurts!” And they’re like, “Yeah, but you need it! Lay down. They ended up defibrillating me 10 times.
[00:29:15.295] – TAMAR:
[00:29:16.615] – Kenny Hyder:
It’s actually funny. After [the operation] the nurses that were there during the operation came in to visit me the day after in ICU. And we’re laughing as they were like “you were hilarious.” They’re like “you were telling us to fucking stop.” And they’re like, “no, you need it.” I was just cursing at them well, “fucking let me sleep.” And they’re like, “no, that’s what we don’t want.”
[00:29:40.705] – Kenny Hyder:
It was scary, it was very scary. Still to this day, I’m on blood thinners and a number of prescription medications for my heart. It’s always a shock. When I moved to L.A., I had to get a new cardiologist. I’m always the odd man out in a cardiologist office because it’s just me and a bunch of old people. At that time, it was really eye opening.
[00:30:07.135] – Kenny Hyder:
As I’ve mentioned, I’ve had a number of other issues with the other mothers of my children. There’s been a lot of struggle and strife with that whole situation over the years. After the heart attack, it really just kind of opened my eyes, like there’s really just no reason to be upset in life. Really, you got to really just enjoy every time you have.
[00:30:35.215] – TAMAR:
And it’s funny because a lot of people think —
[00:30:38.095] – Kenny Hyder:
It changed my outlook, you know.
[00:30:39.325] – TAMAR:
Yeah, yeah. And a lot of people think it’s cliche, but it’s hard to identify with that until you actually get in that moment, you know?
[00:30:49.135] – Kenny Hyder:
[00:30:51.235] – TAMAR:
I have never had, I might have had, but it’s more fleeting. But obviously when you have it, it’s a prolonged thing. I’m happy you’re here. I will say that.
[00:31:02.815] – Kenny Hyder:
[00:31:05.065] – TAMAR:
When it’s a prolonged, when you really have had like you had to endure like something like this where it’s like really like a near-death situation. You need it. You don’t want it. That’s where you get you like you’re one hundred eighty degree perspective. I think everybody recognizes but no one ever embraces it until they get to that moment. Like there’s always some sort of turning point, some light switch for some sort of change catalyst for change in our lives. It’s hard it’s hard to like get that those shoes from the outside perspective of not having to live through a heart attack in in their 30s. You’re like only 29. Like 20s. That’s a perspective that people don’t really have. And it’s so important. It’s so important. I don’t know how to, I wish I could emphasize that for you, but I have to get in that min. You see, last night, I think one of our mutual friends tweeted, you know, I just got bad news. Please hold your friend, family and friends tight. And we always do. But an hour later, you forget you got that news.
[00:32:15.205] – Kenny Hyder:
[00:32:17.425] – TAMAR:
I wish there is a way to, like, hammer it into your minds. I don’t know.
[00:32:25.455] – Kenny Hyder:
Thankfully, I made it out the other end. I was lucky also just because, basically the condition, I was healthy and I had gone through, you know, a severe weight loss thing a couple of years before this and had been exercising and dieting. I was a healthy 30 year old. It turns out I had a very rare genetic condition that had gone undiscovered. The best that they can figure out, the cardiologist, I was lucky to have [when I] sought it out after the fact that there was likely that I had a disease called Kawasaki’s when I was a child. And apparently like less than one percent of cases, Kawasaki’s affects the arteries in your heart. So I actually had an aneurysm in my heart, which, after, however many years allowed a blood clot to form, which forced this massive heart attack. I was fortunate because that day the cardiologist on call was, Dr. Watson, Thomas Watson. I’ll never forget him. He was the head of the Santa Barbara Cardiovascular Group, basically, the most veteran cardiologist in all of Santa Barbara, who had a very illustrious career and actually retired a couple of years ago.
[00:34:02.355] – Kenny Hyder:
The next day, Dr. Watson was off and his partner came in who was easily 15 or 20 years his junior. He came in to visit me and he said, “I want you to understand how lucky you are,” because basically the surgery that they performed to save my life, the technology had only been developed three years prior.
[00:34:29.265] – TAMAR:
[00:34:29.655] – Kenny Hyder:
And the other cardiologist came in and he said I want you understand how lucky you were that Dr. Watson was on call yesterday, because I don’t think myself or any of the other cardiologists could have performed that surgery and executed it. It was a very difficult and very long surgery. And so I lucked out to have the most senior cardiologist operate on me and save my life.
[00:34:52.755] – TAMAR:
[00:34:57.105] – Kenny Hyder:
I remember actually talking to the dad of my friend Austin who had talked about earlier. His name’s Dave. He’s a grandmaster, a ninth degree black belt in hapkido, one of a handful of them in the world. He’s always been kind of a mentor to me. He and I, when I lived in Santa Barbara, we used to have lunch every couple of weeks and just kind of you know, he was like one of my kind of coach figures throughout my 20s. I remember talking to him and telling him, “wow, how lucky I was that this cardiologist was there and everything worked out and I made it through.” And he’s like, “yeah,” he’s like “it washes out because you were unlucky for that to happen to you in the first place, you know?”
[00:35:48.285] – Kenny Hyder:
But it really was a pivotal moment. After that, every other problem I had in my life, either relationally or financially or whatever, just kind of went out the window and I was just like, “well, you know, it’ll work out or it won’t and it’s not going to kill me so it doesn’t really matter.” I just got to do what I got to do, and don’t sweat the small stuff. Everything’s small except for life and death, you know what I mean? I think that’s really helped me. I’ve had a fairly successful career, of course, just like any other, you know, self-employed, entrepreneurial type person. There’s ups and downs to career work and finances and all that stuff. There’s been times when I was extremely stressed out about money or a bad relationship or something like that. And that moment just really kind of took all of those stresses away from me, you know? And I really there’s not a problem that can’t be worked out. If you go broke, who cares? It turns out I’ve got a great group of friends and family that support me and have for many, many years and all of the all the details, they either work out or they don’t and you do something else. As long as as long as you have your health in the end, as long as you have your support group of, you know, friends and family, there’s really nothing that you can’t tackle in life.
[00:37:24.625] – TAMAR:
Everything happens for a reason, and truth of the matter is it’s probably to make you stronger, but I hear you and that’s not something you need to have a near-death situation to kind of appreciate in terms of “don’t sweat the small stuff.” And I’ve been to the same thing, sometimes financially I’m struggling like right now I need to buy a new boiler and I also have a sewage issue.
[00:37:44.640] – Kenny Hyder:
[00:37:44.685] – TAMAR:
So then you think about sending four kids to school. All of the sudden it’s like, “oh crap, that’s my annual salary.” It’s hard to work through that. But at the end of the day, I have faith that everything is going to work out in the end. While there’s still that element of stress, it’s not something you can completely eliminate. It’s like it’s a matter of trust. And you’re here, you’re proof that that perspective works, I guess. You know?
[00:38:18.875] – Kenny Hyder:
[00:38:20.815] – TAMAR:
So I know we talked about all of these things and we talked about how you’re nursing a broken foot and should you had not been nursing a broken foot, you talked about how you were doing exercise and weight loss and all those things. I don’t know what you’re what, especially with covid and everything else, what you’re dealing with in your self-care regimen but tell me a little bit about that, if you can.
[00:38:44.335] – Kenny Hyder:
Yeah. So back in I guess 2011 far before the heart attack, I had actually seen some pictures posted of me at a conference that I was at. And I remember thinking, “oh, I need to lose weight.” Like, I didn’t realize that I was getting fat. I’m 6’3″ so it’s easy to hide because I’m a big guy anyway, but at 6’3″ I’d gotten up to like 240 pounds or something like that, and then kind of had a wake up call just by seeing a picture someone else had taken up me at an unflattering angle. I went on a real serious kind of health kick and read Tim Ferris’s 4 Hour Body and went all in on that diet and everything and lost 40 pounds. Then [I] kind of hemmed and hawed a little bit, kind of yo yo-ed a bit several years after that.
[00:39:54.535] – Kenny Hyder:
When I moved to L.A., which was at the beginning at 2015, L.A., you either love or hate L.A.I always, I grew up hating L.A. because I was, you know, from San Diego and living in Santa Barbara, so the vast majority of my experience of L.A. was just sitting through traffic to get from one place to the other.
[00:40:18.325] – TAMAR:
[00:40:19.495] – Kenny Hyder:
But after having moved here, being a person who works from home and I live downtown, there’s a grocery store in my building, you know, I don’t have to go anywhere really to live my life. It’s a great place when you don’t have to deal with traffic. One of the other things that has kind of been beneficial for me from an L.A. perspective here it’s, let’s call it what it is, it’s a pretty vain city. But it kind of forced me to care even more about my health and physical appearance, really. So I got back into working out and going to the gym. Then after years and years, friends of mine who were yoga instructors and yoga fanatics telling me, “oh, Kenny, you going to try yoga. You’d love yoga,” because I’m a pretty flexible person just naturally. [I] ended up getting into yoga and loved it. [I] signed up at a studio and started doing that and kind of like combining gym sessions with yoga and then a couple of my friends are certified nutritionists. So a few years back, I did a full on exposé and recorded everything I put in my mouth for two weeks and got a lot of feedback on all of that stuff and just got really focused on the health and wellness thing. I also have, a couple of my really, really close friends are personal trainers and just giant beasts of men who have put lots and lots of time into developing their bodies. It was really kind of motivating. For me, it’s been really helpful just to be surrounded by a bunch of other health freaks, you know what I mean? I
[00:42:03.865] – TAMAR:
It helps. It’s all about community. And I found that’s same thing. I actually kind of fallen out of the community just like the last month. And I think I’m seeing it in my results for me. I’m still focused on working out every single day. But I haven’t, when I say working out, I’m walking on the treadmill for like forty five minutes versus I would be on the treadmill for 20 minutes and then I’d be doing like an hour workout and then doing this and that.
[00:42:25.255] – Kenny Hyder:
[00:42:26.115] – TAMAR:
I don’t want to lose that momentum because we only have nine more days left of the year, but at the same time, I lost the momentum.
[00:42:36.825] – Kenny Hyder:
Well, this year I think everyone has. Gyms have been closed here in L.A. Fortunately, my girlfriend has like a couple of twenty five pound adjustable dumbbells, which isn’t really enough to do a strength workout for a person my size, but at least, I was trying to keep some motivation to stay at home and do push ups and do some jumping jacks. Actually, one of my friends rented us a stationary bike for a while because one of the gym owners that he is connected to had to shut down its gym, so he’s renting out equipment. Unfortunately, the gym owner, he wanted it back so I reluctantly had to give them back this stationary bike, which the gym owner ended up regretting because he still doesn’t have any revenue source. I mean, there was a there was a brief moment for like a month in like like August, July, where gyms are starting to open up again. And then, that lasted like three weeks and then L.A. was like, “nope! Everyone else has to close again.” So I think this year has been really challenging for everyone. It’s hard have, I see a lot of our mutual friends and stuff built these home gyms and stuff. But if you haven’t done that before 2020, you’re kind of SOL. Well, because, you know, dumbbells on Amazon are going for like nine hundred bucks apiece. That’s not affordable. No one can build a home gym when a dumbbell costs nine hundred dollars. You know what I mean? You need two dumbbells.
[00:44:06.435] – TAMAR:
I’m going to share a little bit of a story that I did. I ended up buying a pallet of stuff from China. First time ever.
[00:44:14.955] – Kenny Hyder:
[00:44:15.405] – TAMAR:
Yeah, I still am trying to make my money back. Part of the problem was that I ordered twelve hundred kilograms of stuff, but I don’t think I got all twelve hundred. I’m missing what the equivalent of I think of one hundred and seventy pounds of stuff. Whatever it is, it’s one seventh of what’s missing. I don’t know who to [blame]. This is my first experience buying from China, so I don’t know who to put the blame on. They weighed when it was there. That pallet was twelve hundred twelve hundred twelve hundred. And then when it gets off the truck, I don’t have everything that I that I asked for. I told the truck company, and they were like “well, she saw everything.” I don’t know, I think there was theft on that side. I’m learning, I’m learning that part. But I have I have dumbbells. I just don’t have anything more than twenty five either. Yeah, I do have lots of fives and tens because apparently nobody wanted that even though *everybody* wanted that in the beginning!
[00:45:14.475] – Kenny Hyder:
Yeah. The cost of shipping when you’re literally just shipping weight is prohibitive.
[00:45:21.015] – TAMAR:
Yes. Right. So I have to do a local. I have them on Facebook Marketplace.
[00:45:25.155] – Kenny Hyder:
[00:45:26.775] – TAMAR:
But I will tell you, if you were to buy for me, you’re not going to pay nine hundred dollars, you’ll pay eight hundred dollars.
[00:45:31.735] – Kenny Hyder:
Right [laugh]. Hey, savings.
[00:45:35.115] – TAMAR:
Yeah I know. You got a hundred dollars off!
[00:45:40.425] – Kenny Hyder:
Yeah. It’s kind of disheartening, but just keeping the mindset that this isn’t going to last forever. Things are going to open up again eventually. And I really miss going, one of my favorite things ended up becoming just hot yoga. I was doing these hot yoga classes and they’re so great because you just end up drenched in sweat and it’s good music and it’s dark and you’re not only getting kind of peacefulness and mindfulness, but also just a rigorous exercise and stretching and all that sort of stuff. But now, there are some programs. There’s actually there’s this high intensity interval training course thing here called F45, which I think is—
[00:46:30.285] – TAMAR:
Oh yeah, yeah. I was actually doing F45. That was the last gym class I took before covid.
[00:46:34.785] – Kenny Hyder:
So there’s an F45, I live in a big multipurpose complex in downtown L.A. and there’s an F45 here in the building and they’re doing workouts outdoors. The problem for me is I can’t really do HIIT training with my heart now. I took a couple other classes, and I lost a third of my heart tissue, so I don’t have a full capacity heart, and I’m on blood thinners and all these other things. So, HIIT training just doesn’t really work for me. But, yoga is, the whole thing about hot yoga, you gotta be inside. You got to be in a studio and you’re breathing, it’s all about breathing, you know what I mean? So that’s out the window until who knows when? You know what I mean? And it just kind of like, “OK. Someday we’ll we’ll get back there someday,” you know. There’s hope that everyone will be back eventually.
[00:47:28.665] – TAMAR:
Well, there’s vaccinations. My father got vaccine already because he’s a physician.
[00:47:32.665] – Kenny Hyder:
Oh, beautiful. Nice.
[00:47:34.015] – TAMAR:
So, I mean, we’re slowly easing to that. It’s going to happen. I believe it.
[00:47:38.095] – Kenny Hyder:
Yeah. Yeah, I believe so too.
[00:47:41.545] – TAMAR:
We got a, like you said, 2021 might be “symbolic,” if you will, I said that. But I think we’re going to see by the end of the year, hopefully some resuming of the normal, the things that we’re used to—although for me, I don’t know if I’m ever going to be ready to go back to the gym. I set up such a nice home gym, and it’s not—I’m not working at the same high capacity level, but I also don’t think I can work out as strongly as I did before. I think that having had covid, I think that I don’t feel like I’m hitting my 100 percent that I used to.
[00:48:16.795] – Kenny Hyder:
[00:48:17.245] – TAMAR:
It’s hard to describe. Medicinally, nobody sees that. Maybe it’s all in my head, but but I don’t like I’ve been running slower and trust me I don’t, I’m not doing that willingly so I don’t know what it is.
[00:48:32.665] – Kenny Hyder:
Well, you know, I think who knows? There’s so much so much that we don’t know about all of this whole virus and everything. But good for you still actually doing it. I was doing pretty well here until this recent injury with my foot, I can’t really do anything but trying to still get in three or four workouts a week. I feel pretty good about myself. I have, there’s a gym here in my building that’s part of the community. It’s just closed. They shut it down. It’s not like I was paying for a gym membership somewhere. Part of where I live, that’s part of the amenities. It’s still closed. I can’t go. It’s right downstairs and I can’t go to it.
[00:49:17.935] – TAMAR:
Yeah. That’s so annoying.
[00:49:21.352] – Kenny Hyder:
The doors are locked.
[00:49:24.325] – TAMAR:
I was trialing out the F45. It literally had opened on February 29th. And March 2nd was the day, whatever it was, March 3rd was the day we shut down. So that was the last thing I went to. So it totally sucks. Did Orangetheory. Did Planet Fitness. I closed my Planet Fitness membership and Orangetheory is on the fence right now. And at F45, because it was a trial, they never really opened me up. I just feel so bad. You know, these guys are like the Orangetheory was also had just opened in November of last year. I got an email, “congratulations on your one year.” I’m like, “not really.”
[00:50:07.975] – Kenny Hyder:
[00:50:10.195] – TAMAR:
But anyway. Yeah. So we’ll get there. We’ll get there. So I’m going to offer you the last question. No preparation for this one. It’s the moment of reflection. It’s the Common Scents question from the Common Sense podcast. If you were to give an earlier version of Kenny some piece of advice, what would you tell him?
[00:50:35.175] – Kenny Hyder:
I would tell him, “take more responsibility for your actions.” A lot of people in our industry have seen a lot of success and a lot of it happened really quickly because of the nature of a budding industry, is that there’s got to have to be people that fill all the spots and these are spots that have never been there before. And I was in that fortunate timeframe of getting into search marketing when search marketing was taking off. There was a time in my early 20s where I was making so much more money than I’m making today. I thought, “oh, this is great. And it’ll never stop. It’s only going to get better.” And that’s that’s just not true. I wasn’t very responsible. I’m terrible at managing money. I’m great at spending it [laugh]. Really, it’s kind of interesting because at the same time, I contradict myself because I wish that I had been more prudent and frugal and forward thinking and more of a squirrel and planner, but at the same time, the truth is, it was a very real scenario that I could have died in 2015. If I died without being an asshole of a spender, what’s the point of dying with a bunch of money when you’re 30? I’m glad to have gone through a lot of really crazy and awesome experiences that a lot of people don’t get to do. But there is a balance where live your life and enjoy things and do what you want. But do it within your means, you know what I mean? For example, there was a time when I was 25, I was going through a divorce and all this stuff. I bought a convertible Porsche. It was just kind of living it up. It turns out—it was a beautiful car and really great. It was a really great experience and all that sort of stuff. I was paying a thousand dollars a month car payment and at the end of the year, I’d only driven 2,000 miles out here.
[00:53:20.485] – TAMAR:
[00:53:22.615] – Kenny Hyder:
Why am I spending so much money for a car that I don’t ever really drive? I work from home. I don’t commute. Basically it was just kind of driving around town and a few trips to Vegas a year. It’s just like, that doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense. It’s not like I was a millionaire. If I could have bought it [in] cash and not worried about it, maybe that’s a different story. But I was living beyond my means to an extent. It’s not that I couldn’t afford the car at the time. It’s just that I shouldn’t have afforded the car at the time. And [I had] a lot of other kind of similar experiences that I’ve gone through with things like that. But, hey, if I had died at 30, at least I would have died having lived a really fast life, you know what I mean? But now I have a lot more hope for, living living much longer in the future and just kind of being mindful of that and, “live your life, but drink responsibly.”
[00:54:26.455] – TAMAR:
I get it. No, I get it. Listen, you need to talk to my husband. He wants to get every car. “I want this car. I want this car.” You know, the only thing I want is a Tesla. I do have a life goal for a Tesla. I don’t even know which one, but we want the one that has free charging everywhere. They don’t have it anymore. So it’s apparently a rare breed.
[00:54:50.395] – TAMAR:
But like I said, I have I have a sewage issue and a boiler issue. It’s not cheap! Getting a boiler ain’t cheap. It’s like a $3,000 product, which would be a little more palatable until you realize that you’re tacking on $11,000 of labor on top of that. It’s just, are you kidding me?
[00:55:09.595] – Kenny Hyder:
Oh goodness. Yeah.
[00:55:10.128] – TAMAR:
And then tax and permits. The next thing you know, you’re paying like thirty thousand dollars [with the permits] for a minor, not even an aesthetic repair, that’s not even additive, to replace—
[00:55:22.915] – Kenny Hyder:
Just a necessity.
[00:55:26.155] – TAMAR:
Yeah, because right now we don’t have hot water. We don’t have heat.
[00:55:31.075] – Kenny Hyder:
[00:55:31.945] – TAMAR:
[00:55:32.245] – Kenny Hyder:
And it’s snowing there? Oh, no, no.
[00:55:34.115] – TAMAR:
And it snowed on Thursday and we’ve been relatively cold. The kids are sleeping in one—we have, a lot of our neighbors came in and provided us with heaters because we can’t go anywhere else. It’s covid. So the kids are sleeping all in the same room, which is a little crazy because, you know, they’re all like different ages and one of them is like in quarantine. He tested negative, but he had to be in quarantine because his teacher tested positive. And it’s just covid, it’s #lifein2020.
[00:56:05.815] – Kenny Hyder:
Yeah. Crazy time.
[00:56:07.285] – TAMAR:
And fortunately, my children don’t need hot showers, but I do. So I had to go to a neighbor’s and it’s been fun. Ialso have to figure out how to, you know, I can’t shower every single day anymore, which, I’m not going to my neighbor’s house every single day to do that. It’s an imposition. So.
[00:56:27.925] – Kenny Hyder:
[00:56:28.555] – TAMAR:
Whatever, whatever. I was just trying to keep myself [warm]. That’s also I can’t break too many sweats.
[00:56:33.298] – Kenny Hyder:
[00:56:36.085] – TAMAR:
I was thinking to myself. I’ve been so diligent about like really like I even have a goal every single day, a daily goal of breaking the sweat. But I stopped doing that in the beginning of the month. And I’m like, “why? Why am I falling off the wagon?” I’m like, “oh, it must have been because it was mental preparation for this,” because I don’t think I would have been able to account for that mentally.
[00:56:55.315] – TAMAR:
But anyway. Where can people find you online?
[00:57:03.775] – Kenny Hyder:
I don’t have a real active presence, I’m on Twitter at @kennyhyder. I’m on Instagram under the same handle. I have a Web site that’s actually been neglected for years and I’m hoping to relaunch. I’m in the process of a redesign and I hope to kind of pick up my writing again in 2021. But don’t go there now. The site’s broken. But I’m @kennyhyder everywhere. So you know, if you’re interested in finding me, just search.
[00:57:43.495] – TAMAR:
Cool. Awesome. Well thank you so much, Kenny. It’s been really a lot of fun.
[00:57:47.755] – Kenny Hyder:
[00:57:47.755] – TAMAR:
And I can’t wait to share this with the world.
[00:57:54.175] – Kenny Hyder:
Yeah, this has been great. I, you know, pulled some tears out of there.
[00:57:59.275] – TAMAR:
[00:57:59.965] – Kenny Hyder:
That’s beautiful. I love it.
[00:58:01.075] – TAMAR:
Yeah. Yeah. This is a good hybrid of my past life and my current life to really get into that.
[00:58:07.315] – Kenny Hyder:
I like it.
[00:58:08.575] – TAMAR:
Sweet. Awesome. All right. All right.
[00:58:10.825] – Kenny Hyder:
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