In this episode, Tim and Brock talk with Austen Alexander.
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Austen was a Master at Arms in the Navy, having served aboard the USS Carl Vinson as well as harbor security in southern California. Austen began making Youtube videos while in as a way to make extra money. Having found success with Youtube, Austen exited the Navy in 2020 to go full time on his fitness series, 'Battle Bunker', which puts athletes and different occupations head to head in military-style fitness events. We hear his funny story of meeting (then Chief) David Goggins at Great Lakes. We discuss the difficulties of content creation while in the service and how to navigate the rules associated that landed Austen as the center of a NCIS investigation. We also talk about what advice to talk in life and how to cut through noise and distractions to hone in on the valuable learnings.
Follow along with Austen on Youtube or on his Instagram.
Whether you’re in the service for four years or twenty, you have learned skills, led teams, and learned what it takes to execute under pressure. While those past successes are valuable, they don’t always translate to a life or career when you get your DD214.
Join Tim and Brock as they break down the skills and strategies current and former military members are using to build a successful careers on the outside the service.
Follow along with us.
• Tim: @Mccaurthor, Youtube
• Brock: @BrockHBriggs
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Brock Briggs 0:19
Hello and welcome to the Scuttlebutt podcast. Our guest today is Austen Alexander. Austen's former Navy and now the founder and CEO of Battle Bunker YouTube series on fitness. Austen, welcome to the show.
Austen Alexander 0:33
Thanks for having me. Glad to be here.
Brock Briggs 0:35
We're looking forward to it. Give us the introduction. Tell us how you got here. Why you joined the military and what brings you here today?
Austen Alexander 0:44
I'm 29 years old, originally born in the small town of Florence, Alabama, and grew up in a household of one brother, mom and a dad. My mom was a schoolteacher. My dad was a mechanic or a builder. And I graduated high school 2002 and I'm giving you the full backstory.
Tim McCarthy 1:09
Yeah, no, please, please.
Brock Briggs 1:11
We actually want you to start like what day were you born? What's your
Austen Alexander 1:16
June 12 at 9am
Brock Briggs 1:19
Hospital name like the nurse like, okay,
Austen Alexander 1:22
Nurse? I was born at ECM, nurse’s name was Emma. I was 9 pounds and seven ounces. I was a fat baby.
Tim McCarthy 1:30
Yeah, you were fat baby. Holy shit.
Austen Alexander 1:32
I was chunky. Yeah. And then basically out of the womb, I joined the Navy. And did seven years, got out of the Navy in 20. When was it? 2020? Yeah. And yeah, it was a great time.
Brock Briggs 1:55
Just a great time that just yeah..
Just so wonderful time
And you were an MA, correct?
Was that the original intent on joining or what? You just want to put people in handcuffs and just yell at people?
Austen Alexander 2:13
Not at all. I would always break the rules. I never saw myself enforcing the rules. But when I joined the Navy, so I went into the office. So I'll give you that story. So..
All right. All right.
There I was, graduated high school, will pick up from there. And I thought, you know, I didn't know what I was supposed to do. I guess it was college, you know. Back then I was, “Oh, I gotta go to college.” So I applied for a few grants and got awarded the Pell Grant because of my parents' income was low, so we qualified for the Federal Pell Grant. So it allowed my brother and I to go to school. He took welding.
And I took electrical technology for installing like electrical and people's cars. So I was really into sound systems back then. I thought I wanted to do it full time. I had not experienced enough in life to know what I wanted to do. And so I just saw that like, well, I guess I'll, you know, be a sound engineer for people's vehicles and boats and whatnot. So I started going to college for that. And then probably two semesters into it. I just quit going. I was like, “Fuck this, I hate it.” Like the college this, the schoolwork was like, I did not keep up with it. I was playing video games. I just wasn't interested. And I mean, that's what it boiled down to. I wasn't interested in what I was going to school for.
So shortly after that, I said, “Well, I guess I'll just take the job route.” And so I got a full time job with the city of Florence cutting grass. And there I learned a lot about responsibility. I learned a lot about you know, taking care of equipment. And about two years after working there, I thought I had it made. I'm gonna work for the city of Florence. This is you know, I've got benefits. I'm making $7.35 an hour. This is great. And
Brock Briggs 4:17
Really making it, you know.
Austen Alexander 4:21
Yeah. I was, I had no aspirations to become more. I just wanted to scoot by, you know, which is sad, because, you know, I wasted a lot of years of my life, just not caring. And after about two years of working there, my friend Taylor says, “Hey, come to the Navy Recruiting office with me.” And I was like, “No, dude, I'm not going there. I'm not going to the Navy. You're not gonna, you know, quarter me into this military thing.” And he's like, “No, just just tag along.” He said I'm going to, you know, get some more information, but just tag along. We can go, jet out or whatever. So all right. So waltz into the recruiting office with him and the Navy recruiter, Chief Thornton just looked at me. And he said you didn't join too? I was like, “Nah, fuck that. I'm not, I don't wanna be in the Navy.” And he's like, “Okay.” And that's all he said to me.
And I thought it was weird because recruiters usually, you know, usually they're on your case about trying to handy pamphlets and getting you to join. And anyways, Taylor was signing the paperwork, little did I know, but he was about to go to MAPs. And when I left, Chief Thornton handed me a pamphlet, a Navy SEAL pamphlet, and I was like, took it home, looked at it overnight. And I was like, “You know what, I don't really have anything else going for me. This could be my opportunity to shoot for more.” And I'm kind of the split decision type person. I like to make decisions and figure it out on my way, you know, on my own. So I went back the next day by myself, I said, “Sign me up for this Navy thing.” And he's, “Alright,” so I filled out paperwork. Next thing I know, I was going to MAPs.
And, of course, everybody's like, “Oh, I wanna be a Navy SEAL, wanna be a Navy SEAL.” I did the same thing. I went there and said, “I wanna be a Navy SEAL.” They said you can't, you're outside is too bad. But you can be EOD or Dive. And I was like, well, diver looks cool. So that's how, I'm sorry, they gave me the right of IT, Informations Technician. And I was taking physical screening tests for seven months, every month, sometimes two or three times a month, in order to get contracted for Dive. And seven months later, I did. I earned the diver contract and went to boot camp and they have division as indie or Navy Diver.
Tim McCarthy 7:00
Were you in good shape back then? Because obviously your whole like YouTube channel and it's very much so revolved around fitness. So you're obviously in good shape. Were you pretty, like physically fit? I know, you'd said that, Taylor was like, we'll go to the gym after. Were you in good shape then?
Austen Alexander 7:16
You know, it was basically just decent body composition. You know, I was 6’3. I was like 180 or 190 back then. I had started to lift a little bit. I'd gone through this journey of you know, throughout high school, I was really, really skinny. And then I just started eating like shit. And I just gained a lot of weight and I got fat. So yeah, when I started to take those physical screening tests, it was a kick in the nuts because I had to run a lot. I was swimming literally every single day and every single morning at the YMCA. I ran so much.
I was running around the small track that I was constantly like this, like, running on the side, you know, and I messed up my hips a little bit. I got to where my hips would hurt so bad because I'd never ran the opposite way. Which was stupid to me. I don't know why, but my right leg became longer than my left leg because I was running around that track so much. That's how much I was running. And yeah, been doing a lot. I mentioned that to kind of put emphasis on how much I was working towards getting that contract.
And yeah I earned the contract, I think it was sometime in like October 2013. And they may be November, and they put me on the first bus out to bootcamp December 9th, 2013.
Brock Briggs 8:49
Where's the transition to the MA? Where's that break happen?
Austen Alexander 8:55
So I graduate. I'm sorry. So I get an infection in my knee called cellulitis. And it was really bad. I was in a hospital for seven plus days. My leg was, I told this whole time, nobody believes me. My leg was literally double the size as my left leg. And because I had waited so long, I had popped a bump on my knee. This is getting towards like two weeks away from graduation. And my leg had become so inflamed and so infected. I was trying to not go to medical and just pushed towards the graduation.
But I had waited so long that infection had spread throughout my whole leg and I was hospitalized and I could barely walk. The pain was so bad. And it swelled my bursa sac, which is the protective, it’s like an airbag under your kneecap that protects your knee joint. And it was swollen so it prevented me bending. So after I came back, they put me on LLD, in a temporary holding unit in boot camp, which sucked. I was on hold in there for like three or four or five weeks. It was a nightmare. Stay on hold in there and I was chatting with a lieutenant. She was a medical lieutenant and I would go get checkups with her like every three days or whatever.
And basically I said, “Look, LT, you've got to clear me fit for full duty, please. I can't take it in THQ anymore. I'm depressed, blah, blah, blah.” So she wrote me off for fit for full duty. And I went back to a random division, didn't know anybody in there. I went through the final PRT. I passed the final PRT. Final run was like 12 minutes and 10 seconds, like, barely make the cut off. I think it's 12: 30 for..
Yeah. And that same night, I went to battle stations, and graduated battle stations. After that, I went to across the street to training service center. And that's where I classed up for dive prep. I went through four weeks of BECC, Basic Engineering Common Core, which teaches you stuff about the ship, like a bunch of random shit that I probably didn't even need to be learning at the time. And then we went into three weeks of pool week and first week was cool. Second week was cool. Third week, that's where I wasn't able to pass the final and water procedure. They sent me to reclass. And I saw this, the shortest ACE school on there was MA, my whole career to that point was just a big hole. And I was like, I need to have a rate and I need to go and go ahead and go into the fleet or big Navy or whatever.
So picked MA, from there, I was on another three week hold, which is really, really fun. Because I was, you know, out of boot camp, I had a little bit of liberty. I made a fake phase three Liberty card. It was great. And yeah, yeah because at that point..
I was in the USS Cole at training service interview. Any of you guys go there?
Okay, so it's right across the road from RTC. I was just having a great time. And this, I'll tell the story. I haven't really. I've never told this story on a podcast before, so you guys are gonna get it if that's okay.
Tim McCarthy 12:43
Okay, let's hear it. Let it rip.
Austen Alexander 12:45
And again, nobody believes me when I tell them this, but I'll tell you guys anyways. So I was in the USS Cole when I was going through Navy dive prep. And the pre BUDS class was there too. About two weeks into my training, they tried moving the dive guys from the USS Cole to the Nimitz, which they named the barracks after ships. So a lot of my dive guys and classmates went over to the Nimitz, and it was like a big party over there.
But for some reason, they didn't get me. I was still rooming with this guy named Brilvitch. He was like 6’4, 210 pounds solid. He was a pre BUDS guy. And so that means their inspections were my inspections because I was in the room with, I was bunking with Brilvitch. And then you had a guy next door name's Slangger, and I think another guy's last name was Tash or something. They were all pre BUDS and I wasn't.
The reason I was stuck in the coal is because I got there at an awkward time because I was on hold from dive prep. And they weren't used to having dive guys come in yet, so they just kind of stuck me in the coal. So, David Goggins, Chief Goggins at the time, was the instructor, was one of the lead instructors for pre BUDS over there. A lot of people don't know this.
Brock Briggs 14:20
But now we're getting into something here.
Tim McCarthy 14:23
Austen Alexander 14:25
Yeah, as soon as I got there, that's all I heard, Goggins this, Goggins that. That was before he was an author, before you know, everybody, anybody knew a lot about him. But he was active duty, and he was one of the instructors and you would always see him like, running with the pre BUDS guys. He'd be the first person out the gate. They would go through, you know, 7,10 mile crazy runs. And everybody around campus would be like, “There's chief, there's chief,” and you know, he's just leading the pack.
Tim McCarthy 14:57
Like he's some sort of a celebrity before he was really a celebrity.
Austen Alexander 15:02
Exactly. Well, we just saw him as like a beast mode chief and..
Sure yeah, yeah.
We got him before but he wasn't as renowned as he is now. So Brilvitch was the class leader, lucky for me because they would always fuck with Brilvitch and his room and which was my room and everything. So there was, it was like probably 2:30 in the morning.
I had just came down with a fever and I was SIQ in my rack, so I had the SIQ chip that you had to tape on your rack in ACE school and so you're out here, Goggins running down the hallway, looking for Brilvitch trying to get the class leader up and making sure the rooms were inspected and everything and you hear, “Brilvitch, Brilvitch!”. And Brilvitch has already up you know, he's shaving whatever putting on. I mean, like, getting his gear on, put his boots on everything. And they didn't know when the inspections are supposed to come. Are you at the sands, too?
Tim McCarthy 16:10
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. That I used to dip a lot when I was in the Navy, and you can't really do that when you sell cars. So,
Austen Alexander 16:23
Off subject here. You gotta keep it on your tongue for like a good minute to moisten it up and then put it in your lip.
I'm gonna give it a whirl. Hold on.
If it gets locked in your lip, it doesn't get a lot of moisture. Yeah, there you go. I’m a Xin pro anyways, okay, back to the Goggins story.
Brock Briggs 16:41
You’re also a Xin influencer as real
Austen Alexander 16:46
Use my code now at the gas station, it’s Austen10. That's the whole jingle it's like, use Austen10 for some good Xin.
Brock Briggs 16:55
Oh, man. This is why he needs to get it on the camera.
Austen Lieberman 17:02
Oh, okay. Serious business, this is about Goggins.
Tim McCarthy 17:04
That's right. Let's lock it in.
Austen Alexander 17:07
So yeah, here Goggins run down the hallway. And Brilvitch is up, you know, Slangger’s up there. They're up, cleaning. They're getting the rest of their classmates or whatever. And then everybody's lining up outside for inspection. They're getting inspected by like five or six SEAL instructors. And David Goggins just going ham running down the hallway, jumping off the walls, beaten on stuff, like just super..
Tim McCarthy 17:35
As you would expect from David Goggins. Yeah, yeah.
Austen Alexander 17:39
And then, I'm sitting there, like, “Oh, fuck! Like I'm not a part of this, this sucks.” And then all of a sudden, you hear David stopped at our room, and it was a straight shot that looked from the front door into my rack. And here comes Goggins running straight towards me. He's like, “What the fuck? Get out of your fucking rack,” like just going ham on me. And so I'm like, startled, thinking, like, I didn't know I was a part of this.
So I start to get up. Brilvitch runs back. He's like, “Instructor Goggins, instructor Goggins. He’s dive. He’s dive guy. He’s dive guy. He’s not pre BUDS. He’s not supposed to be doing the inspection, blah blah blah.” Goggins looks back from television, looks at me. And I'm like halfway startled out of my rack with the SIQ chip. He looks down. He looks at the SIQ chip. It's somewhat a little dark in there and looks at me. He's like, “Get back in your rack.” And I was so traumatized. Like, I didn't know what to do. Seconds ago, this guy is telling me to get out. Now he's telling me to get back in so and he leans down, grabs the covers, tucks me a little and he's like, “I'm sorry about that. Sorry, you know, get some sleep. You’re sick,” really calmly.
Brock Briggs 18:50
So I can tuck you back into your rack
Austen Alexander 18:54
Turns back around
Tim McCarthy 18:55
I don't know how many people can say David Goggins has tucked me into bed before, but you're one of maybe seven, eight. I don't know.
Brock Briggs 19:05
That’s the only one. I don't know if he's married, but his wife hasn't even been tucked in by him.
Tim McCarthy 19:09
That’s right. Yeah. Don't look too uncomfortable.
Austen Alexander 19:13
I think because he knew that he could get in trouble for
For that happening. Especially like in the Navy. If you're SIQ, you're like, basically untouchable. So I think that's why he did that. But I don't tell that story a lot because a lot of people they're like whatever you know, but like recent true story.
Tim McCarthy 19:36
I believe that's funny.
Brock Briggs 19:38
That's crazy. Yeah, I remember being SIQ for an inspection that was happening like in some other division and you don't really realize that you are untouchable until kind of like later on. And I remember just like laying there like perfectly straight and just like maybe if I don't move they like won't see me, you know. Like you're just like trying to be like, attention like in your rack, you know.
God! Go ahead. Sorry.
Austen Alexander 20:06
No, no, that was, yeah. 100% I mean, back then I was scared of everything. So I didn't even know that SIQ meant basically like, invincible. So yeah, that's why he did that. I'm sure he just wanted to be nice, so I wouldn't mention it to anybody or tell anybody.
Brock Briggs 20:24
Yeah, have you ever reached out to him or talked to him?
Austen Alexander 20:28
No, he wouldn't. You know, he experienced hundreds of new people a day back then, being an instructor, so no.
Brock Briggs 20:38
If you ever get a chance to talk to him, that would be a really funny story to..
Austen Alexander 20:43
I was on his live the other day. And I was requesting him and I was gonna mention it. Like, you know, almost made me get on my rack back in 2004. Early 2014, I was you know, SIQ and he thought I was a part of the pre BUDS. I was gonna mention Brilvitch because I know he would remember Brilvitch because Brilvitch was a stud and he would remember.
Yeah, that’s so funny.
Tim McCarthy 21:09
Maybe, like you can go tuck him in one night, you know or..
Brock Briggs 21:15
Even the scoreboard a little bit.
Austen Alexander 21:17
That's a little weird. Hey, Goggins, can I tuck you in one night?
Yeah, yeah that’s true.
Brock Briggs 21:25
I’m gonna change the subject line, you know. He's like, I don't even sleep.
Tim McCarthy 21:31
Yeah. Oh, my gosh, that's funny. So you do that. You go and I assume you ended up choosing MA and you transfer. And then you go through that schooling and you do that. You start doing YouTube while you're in, right? Like, well, okay, what is that? How does that happen? Like, are you, it all started out with fitness? Am I correct? There was like a couple things with fitness. But then you're also focusing on like, military life like day in the life of MA or sailor, whatever. Yeah, I'm sure it blew up.
Austen Alexander 22:09
Yeah. So I was in a lot of debt. I don't talk about this a lot, either. I was in a lot of debt. I had racked up a lot of debt from foods on credit cards, and just stupid spending. And I guess at the time, it didn't click that I was gonna have to pay it back. So when, yeah, when I got to sail beach, that's where I met Sara. And honestly, she made me wanna be a better person. I needed to get better with my finances. I just, that's when I really started trying at life.
When I was about 25 or 24 years old, I said, you know, there's more to life than just kind of just easing by and I had joined the Navy and everything. But I was never this gung-ho type of motivated person. Of course, I would go to work and go to the gym. But that was about it. I didn't care about bettering myself mentally, didn't care about getting better, really at all until I met Sara. And, you know, she's just as well put together woman from Ohio. She had her Bachelor's degree. She was a travel nurse making really good money, way better money than I was. And I never told her that I was in all this debt. But when I met her, came back to Sylvie, she moved in with me. And I was on night shift and I was the thing that turned me on to all of the entrepreneurial stuff was I watched this video and this 19 year old kid was doing like million and a half on Amazon or whatever I was like, “There's no reason I can't have that.”
So I started studying ways that I could get out of this debt: Amazon FBA, E-commerce, stock option, trading, everything except YouTube. And I tried all that stuff. This was 2018 throughout the year, you know, it started in like February, and then March, April, May, June. And Sara said, “Why don't you try?” Once you know, I think she said, “Why did you quit wasting your time with all that and just start posting YouTube videos,” which is what you know, I think I had like one or two videos on my channel at the time. I had created a deployment video back in 2017.
And that's what led to the success is I just enjoyed doing it. I didn't care how much money I'd made. I didn't care, you know, if I was earning or not. I just really enjoyed posting YouTube videos. So that's how I started. I just would think of topics, how to join the Navy, why you should join the Navy, day in the life, you know, fitness, chest day, fitness and military. It was my life. It was everything that I did. And I started learning the editing softwares again and cameras and just started filming and making videos.
And it wasn't until a few months later that I got my first paycheck by the end of the year. I think it was like 30 bucks or like 13 bucks or something like that. I never saw it as a viable source of income. Until the next year 2019, May. I made a video titled Miss Bikini Olympia attempts the Navy Physical Readiness test. It was just a friend of mine. I'd filmed videos for her before. I said, “Hey, let's make a YouTube video,” invited her out and I conducted the PRT with her. And the video posted it, regular performance. It got like, you know, 1000 views or whatnot.
Like two weeks later overnight, it had shot up to like three and a half million, 4 million views and it completely changed the outlook of my channel. I learned a lot from it. I just basically use that video as hey, I need to create more like this. So I started branching out CrossFitters attempt to Fisker Ray’s test. Caitlin Ohashi doesn't recur off a horse Markiplier, James Charles. And I just kept posting, and the subscribers kept coming. And the revenue kept increasing. And that's how I got my start on YouTube.
Brock Briggs 26:38
So I guess for anybody who is unfamiliar with you, and you've been doing this for like, some time now. And even when you had the YouTube channel, I've listened to a couple of your former interviews and you talk about like, kind of always being interested in videography, and like creating videos. Is that something that you just used to do for fun? Or just pick up a camera or not everybody? Like a lot of people feel uncomfortable getting in front of the camera, you know.
Austen Alexander 27:08
Yeah. And I did, too. Yeah, I was always behind the camera type of guy. I produced a show in high school called Current Events. This was seventh grade. So 2010 minus five, this was 2005. And I had this little JVC, a very old camera, that which I had saved up and bought. And we are going to this new class called Current Events. So the teacher said, “I’m gonna be honest, guys. This is my first time teaching.” She was like, 22 at the time.
She said, they put me in charge of this class called Current Events. It's an elective, I don't know what to do. And immediately I stood up, I said, “Let's make a new show for the entire school weekly. And we'll watch it on, you know, Monday or Friday.” She said, “I love that idea. Let's do it.” So I brought the camera to school. We started filming here and there. We structured a little six minute news show called Current Events. And I was the guy behind the camera and I was doing all the editing. I had pirated a version of Sony Vegas Pro 8. And I was editing with it.
Brock Briggs 28:22
Different times back then.
Tim McCarthy 28:24
Downloaded it off of uTorrent and
Austen Alexander 28:29
I actually think it was Livewire, something like that. I don't know.
Tim McCarthy 28:33
Oh, wow, old school. Oh, yeah.
Austen Alexander 28:35
Yeah, yeah. And we whipped up the show, and people loved it so much. I started burning them on DVDs and selling them each episode for $5. Or, like, all the episodes combined for $10. And I made like 90 bucks, you know. I mean, it was great. Back then it was 90 bucks, can go a long way in Alabama, 2005.
Tim McCarthy 29:00
Oh, yeah, especially as a high schooler.
Austen Alexander 29:02
Yeah. Yeah. So I just really enjoyed when other people were watching Current Events, I was watching other people, I was seeing their reactions. I fell in love with being able to control the storyline, and then seeing somebody else's reaction to it. And then thinking like, hey, we create this from scratch. Now it's forming a mood and an expression in somebody else. So I really love that fact. And,
Brock Briggs 29:29
Was it like the mood or like expression that you are going forward. Did you enjoy, I don't know the format of the current news was it like?
Austen Alexander 29:36
It was funny.
It was all funny. It was like..
Brock Briggs 29:39
Okay, so probably making people laugh and stuff, is probably like really satisfying.
Austen Alexander 29:43
Exactly. We would do fake commercials and stuff like that. And when everybody would laugh, they would look back at me and I'd be like, “Yeah, I know, buddy.” So yeah, I just really enjoyed seeing people laugh and being able to control their emotion by video. And that's where that's what gave me the interest to create the deployment video. I said, you know, it'd be cool to create a video, and I brought a little camera with me, took me seven months to make this seven minute video on YouTube.
And that kind of broke the ice for me, posted on YouTube. I always thought, “Hey, YouTube's only for the big dogs, you know. I'm not good enough to be on YouTube, bla bla bla.” And I finally felt that video was good enough to put on YouTube. So I did. And it kind of broke the ice for me. And it allowed me to keep posting more.
Brock Briggs 30:45
That's crazy. Because that was literally so early for YouTube. I mean, like, we're still kind of expanding the balance of like, you know, the viewership and the reach of YouTube. But like, that's so anecdotal to so many things that like, you don't really know how early you are in something, because there's always gonna be somebody that's like, at the top, and you're like, just how just somehow starting out and like you're comparing yourself to somebody who has been doing it forever, you know.
Tim McCarthy 31:15
Yeah, well, and I feel like that so we were talking before we started recording, but that's one of the things that I do for fun is I have my own YouTube channel that I have like 500 subscribers on. So it's like not big at all, but like I started it a year ago and it's the same thing where it's like, man, there's like so many top dogs in here with millions of subscribers hundreds of 1000s of like, why would I do it other than the fact that I enjoy it, but you get like a one year first video that gets you know does decently well and then you start seeing the subscribers go up and comments of people like, “Dude, thank you! Like, love this video.” And it just like motivates you to like keep going. You're that one that you're talking about was Miss Olympia?
Yeah, Miss Bikini Olympia. Yeah.
Miss Bikini Olympia. So that was like one of your, was that your third, fourth video that you posted on your channel?
Austen Alexander 32:10
That was like my 40th video.
Tim McCarthy 32:15
Oh, okay. God, I apologize. So
Austen Alexander 32:17
Spent a lot, was working before that video.
Tim McCarthy 32:21
Gotcha. Gotcha. So like, what is your, what did your channel look like before that, like subscriber wise views, stuff like that?
Austen Alexander 32:29
I think I was at like, 20k, 25k subscribers.
I was monetized. Finally, I was making like 30, 40 bucks. And then that was my first video, over a million views. And it was just, I mean, life changing for the channel, for me, because I saw the potential of earnings and how to make a good video. And yeah, it just kind of opened my eyes a lot.
Tim McCarthy 33:01
Like a big big light bulb moment there. Yeah, like, “Oh, this is like, this is it?” I got you.
Brock Briggs 33:07
What was your like intent going into, you know, you talk about Sara encouraging you to like, make YouTube videos. And I'm not sure where that lines up in the story. Were kind of like bouncing back and forth. But you know, you putting up your deployment video talking about like getting the courage to like, finally put that up, like. Do you just think, oh, like, maybe this is something that like, my friends and family will watch. I think early on, there's this concept of not only are you instantly comparing yourself to the best people in the space, but you're also like, who gives a shit about this?
Like, I think that it's easy to see, like “day in the life” type stuff from like, really, really big people that have been around for a long time. And you're like, oh, maybe I should just do that. But then you also don't realize that like, nobody knows who you are yet. Like they don't care about that “day in the life” stuff until you're kind of you've established kind of some rapport a little bit or, like you've been around for long enough where people are actually interested to hear about that. So I guess what was your kind of motivation for posting?
Austen Alexander 34:16
I had made a few short videos before I did, you know, draw to island and went to Dubai, kind of like blog style stuff. Never thought about sharing them to YouTube because I just thought they weren't good enough. I was just making to share them with family and friends on Facebook.
A lot more comfortable with Facebook. You know, I saw Facebook as like this enclosed little space that I can share. And I saw YouTube as just this wide open ocean of content and viewers and everything. So I was afraid of the judgment from YouTube.
So that's why I never posted but with the deployment video, I had YouTube in mind. I said this needs to be so good. That in case I wanna post it on YouTube, I, you know, have the willingness to do so. And that's what I did. I created the video, posted on Facebook, everybody's like, you should post this on YouTube. So I ran a startup channel that probably didn't even name it. But I posted it. And the video, it didn't really blow up, it got like 100 views, 300 views, you know, up towards probably 15,000, 10,000, 15,000 at the time.
And when I started posting, I didn't have 1000 subscribers. I had like 120. I found a picture in my phone the other day. I screenshotted, it said I was like 124 subscribers. And I'm gonna try to find the picture. So it was still a really, really small channel when I started posting consistently. Yeah, and I can't find it. Yeah, so, Sara, to answer your question. She knew that I wanted to be a YouTuber and post on YouTube. So that's where she got the, “Hey, why don't you, you know, post videos on YouTube,” like stop worrying about all that other BS and trying to make money because she didn't know I was in debt. She said, “Once you keep posting on YouTube, you know, share your videos, do this, do that.” So okay, so I started doing it.
Tim McCarthy 36:36
What is the, sorry, go ahead, you can finish, my bad.
Austen Alexander 36:39
I was about to say after the deployment video, I would do random videos, like I said before, increase your push ups for the military test, how to do this, like a lot of how to use military money, stuff like that.
Tim McCarthy 36:52
So you started kind of producing YouTube videos. And then you have this one that gets like millions of views. What is the monetary increase like? I assume you got a big payout for three and a half million views, which is like, oh shit, like, I'd need to double down on these.
Austen Alexander 37:13
It wasn't a big increase like you would think because on YouTube, as you know, there are five different Ad types. There's banner ads, desktop ads, skippable, non-skippable, and overlay. And I would never enable all those. I would just enable one, like display ads, because I didn't wanna cram the audience experience blah, blah, blah. And when the Miss Bikini Olympia video was popping, I had one ad type enabled. And I saw the analytics jump up. But the money, it just jumped up like 50 bucks or like 150 bucks. And I was like, okay, cool. You know, that's a start. That's a lot more than what I had been earning.
And after like a million, million and a half, 2 million views, somebody in the comments was like, “Dude, you should put all the ad tabs on this video. What are you doing? This is you know, get paid.” And I looked into it. And I was, “You're right,” so I've enabled all the ad tabs, and then another million views, million and a half views. It did like, 6 or $7,000. And I was like, wow, this is, you know, this is pretty nice, biggest paid from YouTube. It was, you know, a few $1,000. I was like, dang, if I could do this on this one, then I'll just enable all ad tabs for the next video.
So I did a video, very similar. CrossFitters attempted Fisker Ray’s test. It blew up 3 million views. I think I did like $10,000 off of it. And I was like, well, I'll just do it again. And so I just kind of kept replicating that process. And this was without mid rolls because I didn't know about mid rolls how to properly place the ads and progressing into 2019, I found out how to place mid roll ads, which is a game changer. It can.
Brock Briggs 39:15
Okay, so Tim is into YouTube, I am not and I'm going to assume that probably a bunch of people on listening are have no idea what that is. What is the mid roll? Give us kind of explanation of like how ads work with YouTube.
Austen Alexander 39:28
Okay, so for example, you have this, let's do this remote. This is a video, this is from start to finish. Okay, so you know, this is a 10 minute video. On YouTube, when you start watching the video, you see an ad right here. And then usually when it ends, there's another ad which a lot of people don't watch but right here somewhere in the middle, maybe two or three minutes in, you can place a mid roll ad so they're watching and then bam you get hit with an ad and then you keep watching and then and you get hit with an ad right here.
And then it ends and you get hit with an ad, you can add those mid rolls yourself. So when you're watching a YouTube creator, and you're like, you see that thing that says ad three, two, one, it shows an ad. They're placing those, it's not YouTube, it's the creator. And I had learned about those in 2019. After these big million view video hits, and everything, so I said, “Okay, I'll just replicate the process. And I'll add a few mid rolls in there.” I made a long video, 17 minutes, it was, US Marine Attempts the Navy Physical Screening Test. And it was an ad revenue project. I said, “Let's make some formula enough to get this video up in views, and with ad revenue and everything.” And it worked and had a high click through rate and had a high watch time. And I placed a few mid rolls in there. And that was my highest earning month on YouTube so far. I mean, like, since I've started, yeah, up to that point.
And I think I'd probably did $22,000 in December of 2019. And I was still working with the Navy getting paid, you know, 4200. And I'm like, well, this doesn't really make sense for me to keep staying in the Navy. So we roll into 2020. January was a great month. February was a great month. I was earning, you know, 7 to 10 to 15 to $20,000 on YouTube, not even taking any sponsors in. And I said, “Well, this is great.” You know, I'm slaving away for the Navy making like 4300 bucks a month, good benefits though. And here, I'm on YouTube doing this part time just kind of piddling around making 10, 15,000 a month.
And then I started working with a little sponsors, increased, you know, the revenue to like, consistent 10k across the board, you know, sometimes it will be 15k, 20k per month. And it got to the point where I had to say that I had that I wanted to get out or stay in. And I love the Navy. I had a blast in the Navy last seven years. But it came to this point where I needed to pursue creation full time. Because just part time, I was doing pretty good numbers. I was able to fund a lot of stuff and a lot of projects and getting new gear and just keep expanding. And that's what I did. I got out in November 2020.
Brock Briggs 42:51
I'm curious, so you've been making time for like creating videos while you're in. One, that's kind of an impressive thing anyway, because we've had this conversation on other recordings and I just something that I talk about a lot is there's just not a lot of people that like do things like that, that are in, like that people are having like side gigs and like extra jobs and like content stuff like people don't do that.
Like it's the military and just maybe the Navy's, it just feels like kind of a wait and it almost feels like it keeps you from doing other things. Did you feel that? How did you overcome that? And what are people around you kind of thinking about during that time? Are they like making fun of you? Are they like saying we're making cracks at work? Like probably not if you're being like well I made 20 grand in YouTube revenue last month but
Austen Alexander 43:53
Well, I would never share that with anybody there because that's a quickest way to, you know, add fuel to the flame of them not being happy with what I was doing. When I first started posted on YouTube, they're like, “Oh, dude, I saw your video you know,” nobody really cared but it wasn't until the Miss Bikini Olympia video that I started to get some hate. I had chiefs saying, “This guy from San Diego shared the video with me you know. What fuck you doing wearing that? That gold bill that's for chiefs only.” I was like, “Well, I got it from my chief in Bahrain.” I was expeditionary and like just picking out every little thing in the video because they still had some viewership. And I think there was a little bit of jealousy involved in there.
My close circle, the people that knew me well, didn't care. They're like, okay, it's cool. You know a cool video dude. Like, I was the same off camera than I was on camera. So they had no issue with it. But it was until I started to get into the people that didn't know me. They're thinking oh, here's this douchebag sailor that's posting these videos and doing official stuff that's kind of unofficial. And that's when they started kind of to chase me down a little bit. They didn't know my earnings, never shared my earnings, which I mean, I could have, but that's the quickest way to make people around you in your direct circle, either angry or feel some type of way.
So I was just doing my thing, you know. I just having fun with it, not really caring about people in the comments, “I'm a chief from, you know, whatever command,” and like just using rank over a YouTube comment. I just thought that was the stupidest thing ever. Like people trying to flex their rank. “I’m a lieutenant at Miramar and you shouldn't be doing this”. Anyways, I didn't take anything serious unless he was in my Navy email, personal email. I didn't really care if he would hop in my personal email time and say, “Your boot was untied. Blah, blah, blah.” What do you do, shipmate like just trying to flex so hard..
Brock Briggs 46:08
Hitting him with a shipmate.
Austen Alexander 46:11
I still get that.
And so anyways, yeah, to the direct people around me, it wasn't a problem. But for people that didn't know me, that's where it became a problem in the Navy. And I was investigated by NCIS. And then an admiral from Chief of Information came down and said, “I love your videos, keep doing what you're doing.” He gave me a coin. It was a crazy rot.
Brock Briggs 46:39
What's people's problem with it? I mean, obviously, there may be some jealousy at the lower ranks or whatever. But where, what is NCIS get involved for?
Austen Alexander 46:47
So I posted a product sponsorship on the same timeline on Instagram that I had been posted in military uniform. And they were like, well, he's promoting products in uniform. But no, let's investigate it because he doesn't have a product in a uniform photos. So their issue was, it can be perceived that the Navy was sponsoring this protein powder. Even though there's no leak and no connection between the two. Somebody from a ship told NCIS. And a week prior, I had reached out to that ship. I said, “Hey, my name is Austen. I like to make YouTube videos, can I come on and do a tour?” And the PAO was like, “No, I'm sorry, we can't allow that.”
And then he looked into my stuff. And he just tried his hardest to try to find some to take me down. Which there was nothing out there that I could get in trouble for but NCIS had investigated because this was coming from a Navy PAO, public affairs officer. You guys know what that is. So yeah, they just put me under investigation. I was like, okay, so I was adhering to everything, you know, went in, chatted with Lt. He's like, “By the way, I watched some of your videos. I see no problem here.” You know, you have. He said, “I had to watch like 20 hours of your videos to find something.” He said, “I couldn't find anything.” I said, “Well, I know.”
Brock Briggs 48:26
Thanks for supporting the channel.
Austen Alexander 48:29
Exactly. I'm pretty squared away, so..
Tim McCarthy 48:32
Do you have to be like conscious of that? Or was it like a happy coincidence that like, they didn't find anything? Or did you know the rules like okay, I obviously..
I knew the rule.
Austen Alexander 48:42
Knew the rules. I had gone through an Ethics training class. I had, I was very well versed with the book, even though there were a lot of gray areas. I knew that you can involve sponsorships with military uniform or military rank, so I couldn't be like, “Hey, I’m Austen Alexander, drink super coffee. This is great.” And plus, I think that's pointless anyways, it's not. I've seen some people do it, to try to increase sales or whatever. But I was my own entity. I was Austen Alexander, you know. People would reach out to me and say, “Hey, MA too.” I say, stop, it's Austen.
And so here's the fun part. About two weeks into the investigation. And everybody on bases, “Oh, Alexander's on investigation. He's gonna go under blah, blah, blah.” I didn't care regardless because it was like, gonna kicked me out, I'm still gonna keep making videos or keep me in, I'm still gonna keep making videos. And one day, came to work, they said we have an admiral coming in today for a check ride. And everybody was panicking, “Oh shit.” So I got my books ready. Got the daily brief, you know, the underway brief ready. Okay, we go outside, we all get in ranks, and Admiral walks out, his name is Charlie Brown, Admiral Charlie Brown. He's the Chief of Information.
So he is in charge of all the media that's released from at America's Navy, at US Navy, and All Hands Magazine. And he's, “Hey, guys! Guys, relax, relax. I'm just here to see MA2 Alexander and I'm thinking, “Oh fuck! I'm gonna get kicked out or whatever.” He's like, front and center. So go out there. And he's like, shook my hand. He's like, “Dude, I just wanted to meet you. I love your videos. I think you shine such a great light on the Navy. You're an incredible sailor and we really love your videos, that Chief of Informations. And I was, “Oh, thank you sir.” He gave me his Admiral coin. And I get a call from the lieutenant from NCIS, he's like, “Hey, don't worry about the investigation. It's off. You know, you're good.” So the admiral, probably in reality, had come down and excuse..
Brock Briggs 51:05
Let's be easy on that investigation. Let's, the shredder over there. Let's go over that.
Austen Alexander 51:11
Exactly, yeah, and they just, you know, caught off the investigation and I got an Admiral coin and
Brock Briggs 51:17
You were living a crazy life out here. Like the rest of, 99% of the Navy and people in it are just trying to like be under the radar, just take it nice and easy, no unnecessary attention. And you're just like spitting in all those people's faces. I will not, that is so funny.
Austen Alexander 51:34
I had gotten to the point where people, you know, we would drive the boats down to San Diego and very, very hefty task. Like I mean, driving two hours down with this big ass you know, 6000 pound boat on the back of a Dodge 350. It was a big task. It was dangerous. It was a dangerous route. I was pretty much
Brock Briggs 51:57
Work security. Is that what you were doing?
Austen Alexander 52:00
Yeah, harbor security. Yeah. Okay. So our mechanics were down in San Diego. So I was pretty much the only person that would take the task, you know. I used to pull lawn mowers behind on a trailer. So I said, “Hey, let me you know, let me drop the trailer. It was a good way for me to get out of work for the day. And I was pretty much the only person that would take that liability.”
Brock Briggs 52:21
Those boats are not small, like..
Austen Alexander 52:25
They're not in. It’s hard to stop, you have to start stopping like 100 yards before you want or your truck will go through a bridge or whatever. It's a dangerous route. So I would drive to San Diego back and forth or whatnot. And when we're getting the boats looked down and worked on, we would go to McDonald's and like Starbucks, maybe the BX and people would recognize me. “Hey, I'm chief so and so. I've seen your videos, and I don't think you should be wearing that belt.” Or I think you should, you know, out just random stuff.
And I just talk to my chain of command. You know, “Chief, honestly, I don't really care to talk to my chain of command. If you wanna, you know, to try to get me in trouble, talk to my chain of command,” because I knew I was invincible through my chain of command because they're gonna say, “Well, Admiral, you know, Brown came down here, and there's nothing really we can do about it, you know.” But people would try, Chiefs and LTS and even Master Chiefs and Senior chiefs would always try to tell me something or flex or a lot of them said they liked my videos. So that was good. But a lot of them were like, “Who's your chief?” I would say chief De Sica or chief mental, you know, give them a ring. You know, because I knew I was kind of like invincible.
Tim McCarthy 53:49
Do you ever have a point where you're like, you know what, this is like too much. I think I'm just gonna stop or by the time you start catching heat, you're so big that you're like, what, like, I'm making way more with YouTube than with the Navy.
Austen Alexander 54:03
Honestly, it wasn't really the money thing. I just wanted to be loyal to my audience, keep providing a good experience for them, and I just wanted to keep creating. And it wasn't like, “Oh, I'm rich, y'all can't touch me.” It was more like a, I would just really like to continue making these videos. And you know, I was still respectful of what people would say. And I was still, you know, hear them out if they had something to tell me like, “Hey, you need to do a video about this or you need to do this,” you know, be respectful about it. But after the admiral came down, it was more like accepting. People accepted the fact that I was doing this on these platforms. So, it was more calm and relaxed. Yeah, does that answer your question?
Tim McCarthy 55:01
Yeah, it does, absolutely, for sure.
Brock Briggs 55:05
How would you recommend people maybe that are in that are like maybe trying to get into this space or something similar trying to build something for themselves, build what we call, like maybe a personal brand, but are in the military? How do you recommend people tow that line while like staying within? You know, not just going out and getting in trouble purposefully and affiliating the Navy. Is it just about know the rules and know what you can do? How do people do that?
Austen Alexander 55:40
There are a lot of gray areas with social media and the military now and they're starting to crack down on a lot of them. I don't think the Navy is because we have a pretty, you know, Social Media Conduct and Ethics book and roles. I recommend that you look that up to anybody that is in the Navy. And they're trying to go through a similar journey. Be very familiar with the Code of Conduct and Ethics on social media. Because there are a lot of gray areas that you want that you can tater, really. But there are a lot of hard written things that you cannot do. And you need to familiarize yourself with those that way, if somebody says, you know, you can't be posted in uniform, you can come back and say, “Well, Chief, that's not true. I don't receive anything monetarily valuable, or I don't receive any gifts or payment from this, whatever.”
And, you know, if you wanna rattle off, check out the Code of Conduct section eight group three, then the chief will be, you know, a little taken aback. And he'll calm down because he understands that you know what you're talking about. That he knows me all the time. So be knowledgeable with the Code of Ethics in Social Media. Be confident in what you're doing. Don't never back down and say I'm sorry for posting that video, blah, blah, blah, because it insinuates that you think what you're doing is wrong. Always believe that you are in the right and always do right by the content that you create.
And obviously, they're not gonna allow an active duty person to get on there and say, “Well, let me tell you all what happened in my chain of command today. This chief is a shitty leader and blah, blah, blah,” they're not gonna allow you to do that. So if you don't have anything nice to say, while you're active, you don't say it. That's just a rule.
Brock Briggs 57:35
I see a lot of dabbled in TikTok a little bit and I think that you do as well. And I wanna talk to you about like, platforms and what you think is valuable and maybe where the space is going. But I see a lot of people post on there. Like, this is not affiliated with people in uniform, like doing stupid dancing videos. And like, I love those ones were usually Marines, they like do like a cribs episode of their barracks, like that's classic. So good.
Austen Alexander 58:04
That's good content right there. I just don't like when women sexualize a uniform. You know, it's not.
Some of the, you can do, it's lame, it's not cool. It's, you know
Tim McCarthy 58:18
When I think to kind of go back to like, how to get started one thing from my own personal experience, like, I had tried to kind of, like get into streaming on Twitch when I was in the military, and I think but and I kicked myself for this just like having thick skin. You know, it sounds like, you'd handled it way better than most people would.
And especially me, like, I'd streamed some gameplay, like video games on Twitch, a handful of times and before, you know. Like people in my squadron are, you know, busting my balls about it. And I'm like, okay, like, I'm just, it's not worth it. Like, I'm just gonna stop, where I had thick skin and like, kept going, I'd be like, four or five years into it now. Who knows where I would be with it? You know what I mean? So maybe just kind of blocking out walking out the haters, if you will.
Austen Alexander 59:09
You definitely have to have thick skin. I mean, regardless that, when you start putting out content or putting out a product, that's, you know, a digital like some type of digital content. The first person, the first people that will say something are gonna be the ones that are closest to you. The ones that know you. And it's sad to say but I mean, I would do the same thing. You know, sometimes, like people knew that I didn't care at work, but closer friends from back home or friends that I've made it another command. They would reach out and be like, “Oh, so you mister YouTube famous now bla bla bla,” trying to post in vehicle.
Brock Briggs 59:50
Those are the worst, man, like, oh
That's what stings the most too, you know what I mean. Like thunderpants29 on YouTube, like who gives a shit. You have to say, but like, when your buddy Jason is reaching out to you telling you that it's stupid, that's what like stings, you know what I mean. It's a tough one.
Austen Alexander 1:00:11
So yeah, it happens. You just gotta be confident in what you're doing. And know, people are not gonna have nice things to say about it. Some people are, but you just gotta not give a shit. That's what's been the most freeing in my entire life is, don't care. Like, somebody calls me a name, don't care. Like, it's something that I've learned is constantly having that shield up of like, nothing can hurt me or nothing that you say can, obviously if my girlfriend said something like, “You're fucking trash and you're ugly.” It stings a little.
I would get over it. And I would say, well, your hair looks like dude or something. I don’t know.
Tim McCarthy 1:00:57
Should have a big head
Austen Alexander 1:01:01
Just go into it and just think humoristically about it. So you can come back with snark and, you know, sarcastic comments, and I guess build it into sarcasm. Like if I get a comment nowadays. I'm like, “Oh, well, that's what your mom said last night ha ha ha,” or something like that.
Tim McCarthy 1:01:19
I think that that's like one of the most powerful things and I think that that really clicked for me when I got out was like truly just not giving a shit what somebody thinks to you. The difference of I think attitude from when I was in, and like wanting to be but not necessarily Mr. Popular, but you definitely like want people to like you versus a couple years down the road. Now I'm like, you like me? Or you don't like me? You either like the content that I put out or you don't. Because I'm gonna keep being, I'm gonna do me either way. It's, you know, you’re nothing.
Brock Briggs 1:01:57
I was gonna say your mom jokes.
Tim McCarthy 1:01:59
Your mom is fat.
Brock Briggs 1:02:05
I guess, how do you know then what feedback to consider? You know, like, you talked about your girlfriend, maybe calling you ugly or something like that. But one thing that I kind of wanted to like hash out was like, your views on platforms. You held a podcast for some time, the latest episode that you had on it, you're talking about like, don't think we're gonna do this anymore. Obviously, you were getting some kind of feedback at some point that suggested that that wasn't maybe your channel or your medium of how you wanted to produce content. So I guess how do you decipher what is just kind of like noise that you need to work through? Versus, hey, no, like, I'm actually, this is telling me I should not do this.
Austen Alexander 1:02:53
There is no, I mean, we had great feedback on the podcast. It’s probably one of the best forms of content that people love, but it was taking too much time. And it was taking my focus off of the Battle Bunker and my YouTube channel, which is the bread and butter. I have a problem with trying to chase too many things at one time. And I realized that I was doing that with the podcast. So it was, first of all I started off with I was putting a lot of energy into getting guests on. And it got to the point where I didn't want just anyone. I needed people that can speak well on camera and to the microphone. And they were all in person which made it even tougher and it was taking away my creativity from my YouTube channel.
And I realized that I need to be producing Battle Bunker episodes and regular episodes on my YouTube channel on a regular basis and the podcast was just something else to think about. So there was, even if somebody said, “Hey, you need to quit doing that podcast.” I mean, when I first started somebody was like, this is trash, you need to speak up. You need to have more tonality. You need to be, have more emotion in your voice. And I just took that as, “Okay, you know, maybe he's right.” So if it's constructive, even though if it burns a little bit, I will take it into consideration because I know that some of that criticism can be valuable. But if it's destructive, like, “Hey dude, you're fucking garbage. You're, you know, this is shit content,” but then it never makes it a reason why, just disregard.
Brock Briggs 1:04:38
Yeah. I think that that's right, having an open mind but like not too open like to just take anything.
Tim McCarthy 1:04:47
Well being able to, like you said, just deconstruct, take your trash out and just look at the, “hey man, speak up.” Maybe have a little bit more like inflection in your voice, show a little bit more emotion. Okay, that's useful stuff. You’re trash. Okay, just like move on, your mom's fat like..
Austen Alexander 1:05:07
Yeah, exactly, just extract the constructiveness. And you know, disregard the destructiveness
Tim McCarthy 1:05:16
If you had to start today at 120 followers or 120 subscribers again, would you start again today? Or do you think that you kind of like caught the wave, so to speak on YouTube? Or are you like, “No, I'm doing it, I'm 100%.” Like, still,
Austen Alexander 1:05:36
I'm doing it 100%. I love creating. I love being able to build it into a story, you know. And obviously, every video doesn't perform as well as the next or the previous ones. But it's still a very interesting thing to me. And right now, we're working on average view duration, click through rate, more interesting topics and titles, we're kind of switching out of military fitness only. Because that's the most, highest performing videos on my channel. Because it's what I've produced the most. So now it's gonna be more type of general fitness. I mean, I'm gonna put the working on a project with the Marine Corps very soon in the Rangers, but I'd like to drop those every so often, and then continue with normal fitness content when I can.
Brock Briggs 1:06:34
Yeah, do you wanna talk a little bit about I guess, just Battle Bunker in general? What is it?
The direction that you're trying to go with it? Maybe, where do you see yourself in a couple of years?
Austen Alexander 1:06:45
Yeah, so the Battle Bunker is a fitness competition series, that's digital series. For now, we take athletes, creators and occupations and put them through military style fitness events. And we so far, we're Season 1, we've shot 19 episodes. We have shown on Snapchat. We have, we put the videos on Facebook, as well as YouTube, obviously. We've gotten a little over 41 million top snap views on Snap, little over 7 million views on YouTube and about 6 to 7 on Facebook.
So the shows, it's picking up even in our first you know, first season. And I built the Battle Bunker because I was thinking, well, am I just gonna keep wrecking myself for these YouTube videos? Or can I have somebody else do it and maybe the host. So and I like hosting, I like kind of, like I said, controlling the way the vibe is going, if it's you know, aggressive, or if it's emotional or sad or happy or exciting. I like being the host that conveys that to the audience.
So yeah, a lot of my content we performed was on the Marine Corps Marine Corps obstacle course. So I said, you know, I'm gonna stop sneaking on at Camp Pendleton, because they're gonna catch me one of these days. And I'm gonna build my own obstacle course to shoot on. And that's what I did throughout the year 2020. I started building it in October. And I was done by November, we had our first first episode shot by like mid November.
Tim McCarthy 1:08:28
Is there ever like a type of video that in your head, you're like, Man, I would really love to make this video. Like, this is something that interests me, but I know it's not gonna do well or I know it's not gonna hit the algorithm. So I need to stick with this.
Austen Alexander 1:08:43
Yes, all the time, and sometimes I force myself just for my sanity, to create a video that I know is not gonna do as well. But I need people to still know that I'm a human. And I'm not just this big military guy that does fitness all day. You know, so I involve other aspects of my personality in there. We posted two videos recently. I got Chef Rush, army veteran to try ballet with me. I thought that was gonna be a big hit. But for some reason the audience in YouTube just hated it.
Tim McCarthy 1:09:15
I really thought that video actually was super funny.
You looked nice on the tights
Yeah. You and Chef both filled out those tights nicely.
Austen Alexander 1:09:27
So yeah, I thought the video is gonna be better, but they just bombed for some reason. It's impossible for me to know what's gonna do like, well, when we're shooting different type of content like that, but it happens, you know.
Tim McCarthy 1:09:43
Well it's funny too that you say that it bombed because I think when I was looking at it the other day, it's still had like a couple 100,000 views.
Austen Alexander 1:09:51
No, it's right now, it's got like 15,000 like it's
Tim McCarthy 1:09:55
Oh, okay, maybe I'm getting confused with something else. I got you. Okay. For somebody like me 15,000 views seems like a lot, but I obviously 700 and what 2000 subscribers like, that's not how your videos typically perform. Yeah, I got you.
Austen Alexander 1:10:12
A lot of people subscribe for the, like, intense fitness challenges. So I think they just saw ballet is not as interesting. I'm not sure.
Brock Briggs 1:10:22
Well, and I think that you touched on something earlier where you wanna show like kind of a more personal side to like the brand and whatnot. And that's how I came to find one of your videos. I think you released about a month ago talking about getting out of the Navy and like what that transition has been like, and my buddy was like, oh, like you. You should check this out. Like this is a lot of what you guys talk about, to kind of, I guess maybe start to close out here. I wanna be respectful of your time. You wanna talk a little bit about that video, your transition out of the Navy, and how has that been a good thing? What does that mean for Battle Bunker and I guess you, going forward?
Austen Alexander 1:11:07
Yeah, the video. In case users haven't seen it. It's talking about transition out of the military, how it's been tough. You know, the first year, I'm sure it was the same for you guys as well. It's hard to find the rhythm again. It's hard to get going in a consistent schedule. And it was just tough for me. And I talked a little bit about that. What does that mean for the Battle Bunker? I mean, I started the Battle on grid, probably the worst time, you know. I was, it intimidated me a lot, because it was a lot of money. It was a random idea that I hoped was gonna work. I was spending like a decent amount of money on the obstacle course and the production and whatnot.
And I was also going through a tough time getting out of the Navy, when I went to go build the Battle Bunker. Some days, I would just fall asleep in my truck. Because the idea and the work I knew I had to do was so daunting to me. It forced me back into my shell back into you know, my truck, and I would just go out there because I feel like I had to be out there.
But when I was actually out there, I would just kind of fall asleep in the truck because I didn't know where to start, what to do. I've since overcome that and I feel like you know I feel better now than I have in probably 10 years, my energy is high, my motivation is good. And for the Battle Bunker, it just means keep producing good episodes, produce good videos that people wanna watch, and people wanna follow along and keep building.
Brock Briggs 1:12:46
What do you think has been the biggest contributor to a couple things like what single thing has helped get you to that point again, where you've got the energy and you're ready to attack it, life and just your fitness YouTube channel. Is there, can you point to any one thing that other people should maybe look to kind of get that inspiration back after your transition?
Austen Alexander 1:13:12
Yes. A good friend of mine, Demi Bagby recommended this to me. And she was only 20 at the time, which is crazy. She's a very smart, smart woman. She said, “Dude, you need to have an anchor in your day.” She's like, “You need to have something that depends on you, or you depend on it to support you and be your anchor in a day.” And I was like, you know, you're exactly right. When I was in the Navy, my anchor was getting to work at five o'clock in the morning. And me waking up feeling like I had nowhere to be, nothing to do, it was a stone, my whole schedule out of whack.
So I committed to an anchor. I said, “Okay, you know, during the week, I'm gonna be at the gym at 6:30 it'd be done. I'm gonna be sitting at my desk at eight ready to work 8am.” And few days of that, and I just felt great. I was getting work done. I was motivated. I was knocking these projects out. And I said that's what it is right there. An anchor helps you out a lot. So if you can meet a friend at the gym, if somebody can, you know, call you every morning at six and be your anchor, or if you can make yourself show up at the gym at 6:00, 6:30 or something early in the morning. Or if you can, you know something as simple as taking your dogs for an extended long walk, it's gonna anchor your day and allow the rest of your schedule to fall into place a little easier.
So I think of the anchor as like a pan on a piece of paper like a push pin in the wall on a piece of paper. Without that pin that paper is gonna flow everywhere and eventually hit the ground. But with that pin, you know the paper is able to rotate on the wall and you're able to get stuff done, but it's not moving from that pin. That's what I think of when I think of anchor.
Brock Briggs 1:15:09
I think that that's good advice, kind of get some kind of routine going or it doesn't have to be a super structured thing. But just one thing, I think a lot of people are really daunted by, like high performing people I guess generally, they're like, Goggins or, you know, any of those guys, they're like, don't sleep, wake up, push through the suck. Fuck you, like just, you know, all this stuff. They're just yelling and you're like, I can't do that. Like, that's not me. But I think that that's something super doable.
Austen Alexander 1:15:43
Even, I did an interview with Jocko Willink, with all hands, you know, Jocko gets good sleep. He gets probably six, seven hours of sleep. That's what he needs, even though he wakes up at 4:30. He goes to bed early, you know? So
Tim McCarthy 1:15:59
It's just like, that's what I was saying. Like, before we started recording was, I might wake up at eight, but I'm going to bed at two or three, you know? So yeah, that's a, there's essentially just like, have somebody depending on you or somebody that you depend on them. And so now you're not letting somebody down by not going to the gym or not taking your dog for a walk. Or..
Makes sense to me. And I think for me, like when I got out, that was a little bit easier, because I have my wife and I have my kids. So like they depend on me, but maybe having something like outside of that to get you up and moving. Because my wife is lazy bones. She likes to sleep, so nothing, nothing. I'm not waking up early to do anything for her.
I think I know, we're definitely trying to close out here. The last thing I have for you is what kind of advice would you give to somebody that's maybe just getting out or they're in? And they wanna start YouTube? You know, this is kind of a selfish question. Because I know we've talked about it a little bit, and I'm most interested in it. But somebody like me, you know, I'm out. I have 500 something subscribers, like where, how do you go from there? What kind of advice do you have to start out?
Austen Alexander 1:17:11
So we'll start from somebody that wants to start because you've already started. My advice is just to start. I'm sure you haven't learned as much as you have learned by just posting, right? Posting, looking at the analytics, seeing the audience response and building your own knowledge behind that, it is important specifically on YouTube.
And if you think about it, every other platform uses audience view duration. Like if people are watching a good amount of video, chances are they like it. That's what they use to promote. So any tactic that you can use to get people to stick around for longer, whether it's TikTok. TikTok is, you gotta be fast on TikTok to get people to stick around or it has to be really interesting. Use that to your advantage.
So make the content as engaging as you can, obviously, and just continue to post. You're not gonna learn nearly as much as you're gonna learn from just posting, so think of an idea. Stop procrastinating. A lot of people say oh, I need a big ass camera. I need a Blackmagic. I need a Rode Video Mic Pro Plus. I need an HDMI cable and I need blah, blah. You don't need all that if you like, I filmed my first few videos on an iPad, because I was too lazy to get my camera out and just start, record a video. You're not gonna like the way you look, you're not gonna like the way that you talk. Just get it out there.
If it's good information, people are gonna like the video. Now in your case, go look back at like if you've already started to try to optimize, go look back at the back catalog and look at your highest viewed video. You look at the analytics. You say, why does this have many views? Was it the click through? Was it the average view duration and you try to duplicate it with a different subject. So you do gaming, right?
Tim McCarthy 1:19:12
I do, yeah.
Typically first person shooters, but I also do like on my YouTube, it's mainly like tech, like reviews, how to do something, “Hey, this is how you fix this problem,” that kind of thing.
Austen Alexander 1:19:27
So if you did a review, let's say on Best Microphone of 2021. It has 27,000 views. It may be smart to look back and say okay, let's do a Best Microphone 2022 because the format works. Make the thumbnail very similar, and you just continue feeding off of that. So you can post a bucket of completely different content. And you kind of lean into which one the audience or people on YouTube wanna see. That's what I did.
You know, I was poking. I was posting a big big bucket and then it's kind of centered around military fitness test and military events and challenges. So that's the route that my YouTube channel went. Same for you, you wanna be able to silo your content so you can build that audience and make sure your audience is watching the content. So yeah, hopefully that helped.
Tim McCarthy 1:20:17
No, it does, man. I really appreciate that. Thank you.
Brock Briggs 1:20:22
Very cool. Well, Austen, this has been really great, man. Thank you so much for coming on. Where can people go to follow along with you, Battle Bunker?
Austen Alexander 1:20:30
Oh, man. I love that name.
Tim McCarthy 1:20:37
That sounds like a 70s radio station. Now, we're gonna play some white lightning.
Austen Alexander 1:20:46
Yes. No, just go to YouTube. It's Austen Alexander, AUSTEN or Instagram, it’s austen_alex, AUSTEN Alex.
Brock Briggs 1:20:56
Very cool. We’ll put the links to those in the show notes. Austen, thanks so much, man. This is awesome.
Austen Alexander 1:21:01
Yeah, of course. Thanks, I appreciate it. Nice to meet you guys.
Very nice. Thanks again.