Steve Vallas – ex-taxi driving lawyer, Businessman, inspiration & digital entrepreneur.

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The Honey Bar's Steve Vallas drops by Hot & Delicious: Rocks The Planet.
The Honey Bar’s Steve Vallas drops by Hot & Delicious: Rocks The Planet.

Hot & Delicious: Rocks The Planet podcast series

Interview #22 – Steve Vallas.

Ex-taxi driving lawyer, businessman & digital entrepreneur, Steve Vallas and I became friends via Twitter.
Now my favourite social media platforms at this point in time in 2015 are Instagram and Twitter. Instagram because I’m a photographer and because I don’t really spend much time on content creation tools at work these days, it’s a lovely creative outlet for me and somewhere I can display my artwork. Twitter on the other hand is something different entirely. Out of all the social media tools at my disposal I find Twitter to be the most social.. sure you’re can broadcast through the channel like Facebook or Instagram (and I do), but what I love about Twitter isone-on-one connection it creates between individuals, people, businesses and organizations – me and my friends, me and people I’ve not met or even me and organisations/businesses/bands/artists that I’m keen to reach out to for various reasons like getting them on the podcast, catching up after a gig or even for customer service reasons. 
And customer service is actually how Steve Vallas and I met. The first time we sparked up a conversation was via his biz Twitter account @thehoneybar, when I was looking for a place in Melbourne to take our agency peeps out for Friday night drinks. I dropped The Honey Bar a line via Twitter because for me, if a business like @TheHoneyBar or Melbourne transport company @YarraTrams is easy to contact via the internet for quick & easy communications that don’t require a lot of conversation or detail then that’s the preferred method for me. The Honey Bar’s Twitter account is a glowing example of how businesses and brand can utilise social media channels for wonderful customer service and personality at the same time.
Seriously, after the podcast is done go check it out and say g’day.. and it’s a wonderful little bar in South Melbourne too. Tell him Dan sent you 🙂
Anyway, soon after our original Twitter chat, I found out that the man was behind the Twitter account was quite involved in the digital and social space and we finally caught up at a Social Media Club Melbourne event a few months back when Nike and 7-Eleven Australia each had their social media manager present to a packed house of social media geeks like myself, who are there for networking and the next generation of community managers who are there to learn and be inspired. Come along next time if you’re keen?
So what I can say about Steve Vallas is that he is a man of action. Wait until you hear this podcast… it’s almost like we’re old friends and to use a turn of phrase I’ve heard on Jay Mohr’s Mohr Stories podcasts, we’re new old friends. Sometimes you get in a room with someone you barely know and it just clicks into gear. Steve and I had barely spent 5 minutes chatting in person previously and this podcast sounds like we’ve known each other for years. That’s the power of kindred spirits and surrounding yourself with people who inspire you, no matter what path you’re on.
I switch-up the questions and banter a little bit today, as Steve is in fact a regular listener of the podcast and knows a lot of the questions so we had to keep him on his toes 😀 Surprise!
We spend a good hour and a half chatting about the challenges Steve’s experienced over the past x number of years with the passing of his sister, his experiences of how differently people treat you as a taxi driver versus being a high-powered litigator, owning your own bar only to have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal battles before you even start and then open doors when the GFC hits… all the struggles of a true entrepreneur and what’s kept him honest this whole time is unwavering persistence and the ability to keep perspective even in the toughest of times.
If you think you’ve got a killer idea, an inkling of talent and harbour some serious ambitions for success and happiness then this podcast episode is for you.

Click here for magic in your ears 🙂    

Free Download: Steve Vallas (ex-taxi driving lawyer, businessman, inspiration & digital entrepreneur) on ‘Hot & Delicious: Rocks The Planet’

Android users – you’ll need to download the free Podcast Republic app then search Hot & Delicious: Rocks The Planet.

Hot & Delicious: Rocks The Planet is weekly podcast where we interview inspiring individuals and successful entrepreneurs from around the planet across a range of industries (incl. music, film/tv, fashion, travel, comedy and more) about what makes them tick as people and drives their hunger for success.

Follow @TheHoneyBar and Steve Vallas on Twitter and let him know what you thought of the podcast.

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Dan Wilkinson works as a Manager, Marketing Strategy & Analysis – Social Media at SapientNitro Australia and is founder of music industry biz, Hot & Delicious Group.

Facebook Mentions – Lighting cigars with wads of brand Benjamins.

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Facebook MentionsWell, hai Faceook.. nice shiny news toys.. Facebook Messenger, Slingshot, Paper, Native Video being optimized and now Facebook Mentions… 

In case you haven’t heard of it, Facebook Creative Labs recently dropped their latest tool, the Facebook Mentions app “makes it easy for public figures to talk with their fans and each other on the go.” Hang on, I hear you say.. that’s what Twitter and Reddit are for.. yes, this is the latest in moves designed to keep social media users within the Facebook family.. buy Instagram, Facebook Paper for news, Slingshot to combat Snapchat, optimizing Native Video to draw advertising $$$ away from YouTube. It all makes sense right? I’m not convinced.

Celebrities, market need and the need for Facebook to have their fingers in every pie.

Now I’m not a celebrity (yet 😉 ), but I’ve been around the music industry for years and for me there’s two types of celebrities.. those who like to be seen schmoozing with other celebrities and sharing it with the world and those that like to be left alone or if connecting with other celebs, are not trapped up in making a big deal about it, so to me Facebook Mentions in it’s current format doesn’t make sense.

And what about Facebook’s perceived need for “world-domination” of all social media tools in the broader social media market?

We live in an ever-evolving technological age where consumers are spoilt for choice and each of us have our own little suite of social platforms that we use in varying frequencies depending on what drives and inspires us as an individual. Like my food and travel destinations I crave choice and variety in my social media; I enjoy Twitter for one-on-one connections with influencers, meeting every-day people I come across in the digital world whom I’ve never met who love similar things to me, friends and making new business contacts, Instagram as a photographer for daily inspiration/sharing and yes, even Pinterest has it’s place to occasionally inspire me and make me laugh when I’m struggling to get the day started and coffee just isn’t cutting the mustard. Like most of us. I want to at least “feel” like I have this choice and while Facebook Creative Labs is a cool initiative in theory, some of those smarts would surely be better utilised in improving Facebook’s user experience, as what Mark Zuckerberg & Co seem to fail to realise is you don’t need to own own every single human connection on social media. Sure, it’d be nice ($$$) and social innovation is certainly key, but you can’t be everything to everyone and when spread yourself thin over a 100 different opportunities invariably you open yourself up to falling flat on your face.

Last year I spoke with one of our top guys in Singapore about his philosophy on innovation and for his own personal development he endeavours to focus on 3 big projects a year and to do them well, nay, absolutely nail them. I come from a similar school of thought. In 2010, I burnt myself out working 12-14 hours a day 6 – 7 days a week managing 3 bands/singer-songwriters, working on a snowboard show on TV, building a business and flying around the country running various events, whilst trying to make ends meet. Now translate this to Facebook. For them it’s burning resource. It’s all very well to want to build creations designed to combat competitors and blow them out of the water with innovation, but creation’s just the first step. Once you’ve spent millions of dollars building a viable platform, to stay current and to continue to evolve, it’s necessary to continue pouring money into projects just to keep them relevant and competitive, which leaves two considerations – (a) The aforementioned market need and (b) Where’s this money coming from for development?

So my Advertising Dollars are funding this?

Yes, now comes the “fun” part. “Where’s the money coming from for your shiny new toys Facebook?” – mutter agencies, brand and marketing teams around the world. And yes, pure and simple. Brands are paying for it.

Working in social media I accept that part of my role is explaining to clients that the natural evolution of successful digital technologies into paid channels is nothing new (e.g. Google) and another reason why each brand’s social strategy should remain platform neutral and be tied to business objectives, rather than specific social platforms. But this? Uh uh.. in it’s current format and in an already saturated social media market I fail to see the necessity of Facebook Mentions and sure if it took off there may well be financial benefits in influencer/brand cross-promotions in the future, but they will be affordable for the few and when life’s already been made more challenging with the “death of Facebook Organic Reach” conversations, this is not helping.

I’ve been sitting here thinking you’ve been making some shrewd moves of late, Facebook, with your finger on the pulse and as always I’m happy to be proved wrong, but I’m concerned that this just smacks of an itchy trigger finger and you’re shooting blanks.


Hot & Delicious Group.. Passion, Creativity & Community

Culture, travel, music, news & sick live photography from around the planet:

Twitter @hotndelicious 
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Dan Wilkinson works as a Manager, Marketing Strategy & Analysis – Social Media at SapientNitro Australia and is founder of music industry biz, Hot & Delicious Group.
Dan Wilkinson works as a Manager, Marketing Strategy & Analysis – Social Media at SapientNitro Australia and is founder of music industry biz, Hot & Delicious Group.


Exploring North Melbourne café secrets – Delicious!

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Di Bella Coffee Roasting Warehouse
Di Bella Coffee Roasting Warehouse, North Melbourne

Coffee: ★★★★☆ (4.5 stars) coffee
Staff: ★★★★★ big grin
Food: ★★★★★ cook
Puppy friendly puppy dog eyes

Bam! Shook off last night’s craft beers with a delicious Colombian dark roast and hit Queen Vic Market for my Saturday AM happy place!

Freshly ground Colombian coffee beans, caviar dip, fresh farm eggs, fruit & veg. Check! North Melbourne brunch. Check! Speaking of check, next time you’re looking for somewhere new for Saturday AM breakfast/brunch, check out Di Bella Coffee Roasting Warehouse.

One of the most exciting parts about living in Melbourne CBD is the plethora of choices to eat, drink & be merry! Decided to explore North Melbourne this morning and the folks suggested Di Bella Coffee Roasting Warehouse. Amazing!

Probably the friendliest staff I’ve seen since my last trip to Johannesburg (South Africans nail customer service), great coffee and the most delectaballs (smile emoticon) fruit platter with strawberries, melons, passionfruit, vanilla yoghurt, chia seed syrup & Vietnamese mint.

10/10 Di Bella!

Dan Wilkinson

Di Bella Coffee Roasting Warehouse
19-21 Leveson Street North Melbourne
Melbourne 3051 Ph: (03) 9329 2973

Hot & Delicious Group.. Passion, Creativity & Community
Culture, travel, music, news & sick live photography from around the planet:

Twitter @hotndelicious 
Instagram @hotndelicious

Dan Wilkinson works as a Manager, Marketing Strategy & Analysis – Social Media at SapientNitro Australia and is founder of music industry biz, Hot & Delicious Group



2 days ago I woke up to a beach sunrise over the ocean, sand & the waves at my feet.. 2014.. I’m ready..

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Photo credit: Dan Wilkinson

2 days ago I woke up to a beach sunrise over the ocean, sand & the waves at my feet..

This year I went from 80% self-employed in my own music industry business, Hot & Delicious Group to coming out the other side of winter working full-time for America’s #1 Digital Agency, SapientNitro, driving social strategy for one of Australia’s largest brewers.

A year of contrasts & definitely not a quiet one, but coming through my 3rd brain tumour operation in 15 years just a year & a half ago, looking back on previous years and knowing all the cool shit I’ve nailed over the past 3 years, it definitely feels like one where I’ve treaded water a little more than usual [to put it in perspective I’ve still created sponsorship partnerships for The Aussie BBQ series of international music showcases with Virgin Australia and Studios 301 in the USA, travelled to LA and Austin (Texas), captured images of Australia’s top musicians/providing social media services for The Aussie BBQ/Sounds Australia at the world’s largest music conference SXSW, project-managed Federation Square’s Helix Tree – Light In Winter installation and starting working with a range of beer/cider brands (incl. Miller Genuine DraftPeroni Nastro AzzurroCarlton Dry, Sweden’s #1 cider KopparbergBulmers and Strongbow cider)] to name but a few projects. Treading water’s not the right phrasing.. a better one would be working in the thick of projects, rather than keeping the eagle eye view from above..

The new job’s been hell-for-leather since Day 1, but I am excited about the team we’ve built, working with people who inspire me, the prospect of being in a position now to present wicked new ideas & game-changing concepts in the new year, access to global resources/networks to achieve our goals and a regular salary (vs working contract-to-contract), which will help allow me to focus on an as of yet unfulfilled music career and a bunch of new Hot & Delicious Group projects in my “downtime”.

The craziness of the past 5 months in particular means I reached the Xmas/New Years holiday period completely exhausted and ready for a solid mental break. As a result, I took the measure of banning myself from all forms of social media for a week from Xmas Day – New Year’s Day. That rest from social channels, family holiday at Portarlington, camping/fishing/skindiving with a bunch of mates on a beach down the Great Ocean Road and today’s trip down to Republica Cafe (St Kilda Beach) to soak up the 25°C blue skies, led to clarity and this explosion of thoughts on paper, which may or may not make it to my Hot & Delicious blog (I’m leaning to yes.. Ha ha.. :D). 

That insight is that during the ups & downs on the roller-coaster of life this year, I’ve managed to have amazing experiences, but these “Good Times” have been accompanied with “Capture this, Update that, Tweet this person, read this article, write that article, watch that TV series…”. It’s true that Sundays have pretty much been kept for me and generally-speaking I’m broadcasting/checking social less on Sundays, but in reality there’s been very few times outside of work or on days off where I’ve made an effort to go out, do something fun & just soak up that particular moment in time for what it is, without feeling the need to update one of my social channels. Connected, Connected, Connected.

I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve created for myself through hard work & the ability to see opportunity in the gaps of the patterns & differences of the world around me, but my #1 goal for 2014 is to soak up the joy of this life by taking more time out for me including chilling & focusing on projects that I love. More passion, energy & happiness will no doubt ensue. Sure.. Capture this, share that is a big part of who I am and what I do.. the reality being that social media is a big part of my life at play/work and an extension of my personality, but it doesn’t define me. 

Living in the moment is what I want to see more of from myself this year and not a concept that’s new to me, but taking time out to reflect & enjoy is where we get fresh energy, a sense of calm and it’s in this headspace where the fresh ideas & magic flow.. 2014.. I’m ready..

Dan Wilkinson.
16:04pm, Tuesday December 31st, 2013.
Republica Cafe, St Kilda Beach
Melbourne Australia.

Hot & Delicious.. music news & sick live photography from around the planet:
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