Why I Say No to Most Interviews. (With Small Audiences)

I get a dozen emails or messages a week asking me for an interview, and I say no to 95% of them, mostly because of their lack of reach or audience. The tricky thing is, declining or saying no, is also a waste of time and actually ends up making that person more angry, upset, or annoyed than if I had just ignored and not responded in the first place. But here's the reason why most people worth interviewing ignore your emails or requests. It's not because we didn't see your message, or that we don't like you as a person, it's because it's simply not worth our time being interviewed for a small audience and our efforts can be better used elsewhere. 

If you don't think 5 minutes of our time is that much to ask for, either you don't value your own time, or your time isn't worth anything. 

The worse requests are ones from university students working on their masters thesis who want an interview or survey to be filled out. They somehow think it's a benefit that the responses will be anonymous. I feel bad ignoring their requests or saying no, as I too used to be that college student and would get annoyed with successful business people were so "greedy with their time" or hard to reach. But now I realize why they ignored me or said no, and why I was actually the greedy one for asking in the first place. Here's why I wish I knew earlier in life that would have helped me get to where I am today. 

Real Life Lessons

It's the professors fault for not teaching you real life skills, and instead, wasting your time and everyone else's time. The truth is, most college professors have never actually worked in the real world. They simply went from undergrad to grad school, got their PhD then started working at the University. They have no idea what time or value is. 

Simply put, as a successful person with knowledge to share, it's a complete waste of time to use it on a small audience, when I could just the same, share that information to a large audience. 

The biggest problem is, if we spend our time answering questions to your small platform, we won't want to repeat ourselves somewhere else, even if the second one will inspire and impact more people. No one likes to repeat themselves, and often once we've put something out in the world, that's it, we won't do it again.

Why inspire and impact a few hundred people when your words can impact and thousands? This is why we spend thousands of dollars professionally recording and editing all the talks at the Nomad Summit. We know how valuable our speaker's time is worth, and even though they will inspire and reach 300+ people in person at the event, we want to also give them the potential to reach thousands later on by making it ever green, and linking back to their websites and info. 

If you have less than 1,000 subscribers or views per video, work on getting that number up first before you reach out to successful people. I'll explain more down below on how to build up an audience from zero. 

Am I Greedy?

You're the greedy one for thinking anyone who's time is valuable will take the time to answer your survey or interview if it's not going to help a lot of people. This is true especially because a 5-minute interview or survey, never takes just 5 minutes, and a 30 minute interview usually ends up draining your entire morning or afternoon.

It takes the same amount of time to email back and forth, set up a zoom call, test the equipment to make sure it works, to schedule a small interview that reaches 100 people, as it does a large one that reaches 10,000 or more.

The other issue is that all research surveys are inherently skewed as no one who actually values their time takes them. So you're left with results from a handful of people who either aren't successful or otherwise aren't worth listening to in the first place, making it an even bigger waste of everyone's time.

So instead of asking someone to do an anonymous survey for your research paper, tell them that it'll be emailed out to 3,000 university students and will be linked back to your website from the .edu blog which will give them credibility and some trust. 

If I was actually greedy with my time, I wouldn't have wasted 40 minutes writing this blog post to share this knowledge. I would have just ignored your email or message and left you in the dark. I'm writing this because hopefully it changes the way people reach out to those who have knowledge worth sharing. 

Stop wasting our time, even reading your email, needing to decline, or delete your message is a waste of their mental and physical energy. Don't "follow up" a week later and definitely don't send a third email that's not answered as usually that goes to spam. We often feel bad for doing so as you may be a nice person or are doing it for a good cause, stop putting us in that position. 

How to get Successful People to Say YES

The easiest way is to promise (and actually deliver) a good use of their time. 

Grow your audience first by interviewing other people who have just started out, or better yet, do case studies on successful people by going through their past interviews, blog posts, or writings. 

Six years ago, when my audience was too small and I was still not big enough to get an interview from people like Charles Ngo on my podcast or blog, I decided to instead, write a blog post to share information he had already put out publicly.

It helped him reach a bigger audience. I linked back to his website. And it added value to both my audience and his. You can read that article here. Best of all, I didn't need his permission to write it, and you don't need Warren Buffet's permission to summarize his books, posts, or interviews. If it creates value, you can rewrite it as a nice article, add some photos or video and repost it to your site as a piece of unique content. 

A few years later when my audience was big enough and I had earned his respect, I reached out to him and asked him to come on my podcast as guest. He happily said yes to the interview, and he said on it that he had googled him name, read the post and was happy with it as it was positive, accurate and linked back to his site. You can listen at Travel Like a Boss Ep 258.

If I had asked him a few years prior, before he knew who I was and that I had a large reach and delivered value, he would have ignored my email like he does most interviews.

So next time you want to reach out to someone, ask yourself honestly first, "How Can I Make it Worth Their Time?" or "How can I provide value first, and show them i'm not a leecher." 

If the answer is I can't yet, then instead, case study them and write a profile from the information they've already shared. Here's another one I did with Grant Cardone that he ended up retweeting and sharing to his audience. 

I hope this helped and you didn't just skim though it with your mind already made up that I'm an asshole. Trust me, if I didn't care, I wouldn't have taken my time to write this or to share it with you.

My Interviews and Features

I've been interviewed and featured in big publications like Forbes, Entrepreneur, Fact Company, BBC, and a bunch others all in my About Me page. These big publications I happily say yes to, because they have large audiences and it's absolutely worth my time to spread my knowledge, experience and expertise. 

However, I've also said yes to many smaller publications, blogs, podcasts and youtube videos as well if you do a search for my name. But the reason why I said yes to those is because there was some other type of value, such as reaching an audience outside of the normal digital nomad community. A professional photoshoot, or videographer that comes along with it.

Sometimes I also say yes because it's a podcast that I see a lot of growth potential in, but even then, I tell people to ask me again after they've published 10 episodes and have gotten 10 reviews on iTunes. If they can't even do that, it's just not worth my time as 90% of interviews are never even published or heard by anyone, especially when they're from a new content producer. Even John Lee Dumas admitted that he almost though away 50 interviews when he first started Entrepreneur on Fire as he was too worried about getting started. I feel bad for those 50 people he almost wasted the time of by almost not publishing. 

Best Wishes and I hope it's a YES!

Johnny FD

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  1. What was your biggest takeaway from the article above? How do you normally respond to requests?

    1. Good article, and seeing someone help explain their perspective like this really made me think.

      I'm not at your level yet, but having some success in some areas has brought a lot of questions at times from other people. I've come to realize you just have try and keep it brief and help the people you (to the best of your ability) think are really sincere and will apply your advice.

      It's frustrating to have someone ignore it and that means they clearly don't value my time I gave them. Great point about surveys as I'm pretty much done with using my time on those.

      I think a lot of people don't consider how the person they're asking things from feels and just like you said, don't offer some kind of value in return.

  2. I’m guilty of thoughtfully responding to broad and vague questions and I need to stop it. Cheapskates and tire kickers relentlessly ask questions and never follow up.

    My best inquiries always come from my target demographic, want to do business, and value time over money— like me!

    1. 100%. If someone doesn't value their own time, or yours, it's a drain for everyone.

    2. Yeah, I seem to keep having issues with reader questions on one of my sites in which they don't give me specifics, despite me even CLEARLY spelling out it's important on my contact page for example. And yet it still keeps happening. For technical topics that's silly.

      I'm tempted to just not respond to these types anymore. Also, I've noticed these same types don't have good manners and say "hello", "please", etc like other people. I think it's laziness and a lack of respect for someone's time & effort.

      I don't mind helping people who are nice about it.

  3. Hi Johnny,

    It makes sense to focus on the things which matters most to one. I agree with your decision in rejecting these interviews. Time is of the important essence and I believe that you are producing good stuff to the majority of the public. An example is the you-tube which is commonly accessed and available to almost all. Well said.


  4. Shame!!! Parker and I wanted to interview you for our OnlyFans.

  5. I am really so surprised to read this. We watch you daily giving 5 minutes to random people on the street for dinner, or 5 minutes for random hot blond Eastern European girls. Why is 5 minutes to an up and comer so hard?

    Those of us that have followed and know you for years know you were a poor mofo.

    So we are talking about 5 minutes. The value you can give in a 5 minute interview to some random youtuber or blogger is far more valuable than playing basketball on the street, or a pull up contest, or whatever else content took 5 minutes to record/edit.

    1. In person is different. I'm always happy to give someone I meet 5 minutes of my time as long as the are polite and respectful. But online is a completely different story. I get 50 messages a say with life and time energy draining questions or people asking for handouts.


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