Episode 5: Growth Hacker Marketing with Ryan Holiday


Ryan Holiday is a bestselling author with 3 books including Growth Hacker Marketing, Trust Me I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator, and The Obstacle is the way.  He’s the former Marketing Director for the notoriously controversial advertiser American Apparel. His marketing work is used for case studies by Twitter, YouTube and Google and he’s been written about in AdAge, the New York Times, Gawker and Fast Company.

Questions for Ryan:

1. What is the definition of Growth Hacking?

Growth hacking is what marketing and growing a business would look like if you inventing it from scratch using the tools we now have available to us.

2. Was there a specific event that got you started on the path of growth hacker marketing?

2-3 years ago Ryan had read an article titled “Growth Hacker is the new VP of Marketing” by Andrew Chen whom he’d met at a party which led Ryan to write an article

3. What keeps you passionate about the practice growth hacker marketing?

The book was the process of discovering a community doing amazing things in his space doing things he was not particularly good at – such as coding.

4. Is there a quote that like for new growth hacker marketers?

“The best marketing decision you can make is to make things people want.” Paul Graham

“Growth Hacking is a mindset, not a toolkit.” – Aaron Ginn

Ryan’s example:

“This is how you find the social network that’s going to grow and you’re going to grow with it, and your going to use that program to grow your brand.”

5. Do you have a favorite story of Growth Hacker Marketing in action?

Instagram (Listen to hear this great story.)

6. What would the syllabus for a Growth Hacker Marketing class be like?

Very hands on with plenty of work study

Additional Resources:

Ryan suggests reading Eric Ries’ book The Lean Startup, search for related blog posts, looking at the Growth Hacker questions on Quora, and checking out the blogs from some of the pioneers including:

Patrick Vlaskovits

Andrew Chen

Aaron Ginn

Noah Kagan

Josh Elman

7. Broadly speaking what would the first day on the job as a Growth Hacker be like?

Marketing is usually a scramble at that level: how do you get users, how do you keep users. Marketer’s should consider: how do I pay for myself, how do my efforts bootstrap and fund themselves.

8. What is the best or most comprehensive resource to help budding Growth Hackers?

Andrew Chen recently launched an 8-week course

Slideshare has some great material about Growth Hacking

9. To what do you attribute your personal successes in Growth Hacking?

The best thing that a Marketer of Growth Hacker can do is pick a really great product that people actually want. Otherwise, you’ll work 10x harder and your chances of success are 100x more remote.

10. In your book, you talk about how a specific trend can become played out. Do you think the field itself has a shelf life?

Ryan, doesn’t believe the concept has a shelf life but tactics do.

“As those formerly  blue oceans become red oceans, the return on investment for your time becomes lower and lower.”

11. What do you think the future of Growth Hacking will look like?

People who have become Growth Hacking Rockstars will take on more responsibilities at bigger brands, their advice, and expertise will be more in demand.

13. What inspires your style of leadership?

Ryan described himself as a big reader of classics, studying history, examples of and on how to live, be an honorable person, and have the life you want.

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12. What is the best place for people to learn more about you and to reach you?

Ryan’s books including Growth Hacker Marketing are available on Amazon:

Twitter: @ryanholiday

Check out ryanholiday.net list to get his reading recommendations.

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