Called “crazy or genius” by Forbes, and recognized as one of the 100 most influential creatives working today by HOW Magazine, Matthew Manos is the Founder and Managing Director of verynice, a design strategy practice that gives half of its work away for free. Matthew is also the author of How to Give Half of Your Work Away for Free and Towards a Preemptive Social Enterprise. His free tools have reached countless of people in over 170 countries. Driven by a mission to redefine the way pro-bono is done all the while running a for-profit business.

LISTEN to this pod right here by clicking play or choose your favorite listening platform below. You can also WATCH the video podcast below that! Check out the show notes at the bottom to get more details about the contents of this episode. Enjoy!

Show notes in order of appearance:

  • Matthew’s last “oh shit” moment
  • Awarded by Forbes, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, The Wall Street Journal, etc because of disruptive business model
  • The first thing he designed on a computer screen
  • Skateboarding tricks and falls
  • Give away for free or give nothing away for free. Two schools of thought
  • How pro-bono work painted the path to verynice’s agency model
  • How Matthew chooses who gets free work and who pays
  • Operating pro-bono clients as regular paying clients
  • Matthew creates a toolkit with all his secrets to be given away for free
  • How can this business model survive
  • How do you encourage volunteers to work hard
  • Instilling purpose & mission
  • Matthews graphics and his upcoming comic book
  • Matthew tells us the 2 most important traits of a conscious leader. He shares a very unique point of view.


Visit verynice and find Matthew Manos on Instagram

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Below is a transcript of the video podcast created by Seb’s Robot buddy, Zekton. He tends to make mistakes so please forgive him if you find errors or some funky sounding sentences. For the real deal, watch the video or click on your favorite audio Podcast platform above! Enjoy!

Sebastian Naum (00:09):
What up guys today? I bring you Matthew Manos called crazy or genius by Forbes and recognized as one of the top 100 most influential creatives working today by how magazine Matthew Manos is the founder and managing director of very nice design strategy practice that gives half of its work away for free. Now you’re thinking what in the world, his portfolio of work has reached millions of people across the globe. Very nice as client experience spans across more than 750 brands, including Apple Disney, Google the city of Los Angeles and UNICEF. Matthew is also the author of how to give half of your work away for free and towards a preventive social enterprise. His free tools have reached countless of people in over 170 countries driven by a mission to redefine the way pro bono is done all the while running a for-profit business. I know, I know it almost sounds confusing and that’s why you should listen to Matthew’s story and tips on how a business can be built on giving. Enjoy the show.

Sebastian Naum + Matthew Manos (01:19):
What’s up, Matthew? Thanks for being on the show, man. Yeah. Thanks for having me, Sebastian. Yeah, I appreciate you. Appreciate you. I’m really glad you’re here. Um, you know, well, the first thing I usually ask my guests is when was your last, Oh, moment. What’s the first thing that comes to mind for you? Oh my God. I mean, I think it’s really hard to answer that question without saying COVID-19, but, um, to be completely honest, and this is, this is an ocean in a very positive way. It was when we found out that we were having twins. Yes. Yes. Because we knew that my wife was pregnant. Um, but you know, you do not know that it’s twins until a little bit in there. So that was definitely my last Whoa like, Oh, moment. That is a big, Oh moment, man. And congratulations, you guys had him recently, so yeah.

Sebastian Naum (02:09):
Thanks. That’s awesome. That’s awesome, man. So I’m just gonna throw out some of the media outlets that have either awarded you or written about you. Forbes entrepreneur, fast company business, insider good wired the wall street journal, MTV, HuffPost, CVS. I mean, that’s a bad-ass list, man. That is a bad-ass list. So congratulations, you know, I would ask normally like why all the attention, but when you look at your disruptive business model, um, I can really see why they all want to talk about you. So it’s really, really cool stuff, Matthew. And so I want to ask you, what is the very first thing you designed on a computer screen? Uh, so the first thing that comes to mind, I was in high school. I was lucky enough to have a digital art class, which was basically a design class. So they were teaching us Photoshop illustrator, think it was called cork express before it was called InDesign kind of basic platforms.

Matthew Manos (03:04):
And I really got into Photoshop. And the first thing I designed was I took a picture of myself, of my face on a digital camera and made my eyes really, really big and change the color of my hair to red. So very, very profound, um, you know, piece of design work there, but that’s the first thing I can remember. And I remember doing it and just thinking, wow, like I have, like, this is such an interesting tool, you know, before that I had been really into painting and drawing and things like that. And you know, you can do a lot with, with those different materials in, in kind of a physical way, but there’s something so cool about literally taking my face and being able to do something so strange like that.

Sebastian Naum + Matthew Manos (03:48):
Cool. That’s cool that you didn’t have that class. I remember I had, I think it was, I may have been in junior high, but it was like a camera, what it was called, but it was basically just learning like just to like type on word docs. It was like the original type of word docs. And I remember we would be, you know, typing things on these old school computers. And the worst part was that if any minor thing happened, like you couldn’t save, like there was not even a save feature. Wow. I can’t even imagine not saving something. So I just remember going through just a lot of frustration being like this technology sucks, man, like computers.

Matthew Manos (04:23):
Well it’s yeah. It’s funny. You know, I think anybody that’s listening that, uh, does design work, uh, that maybe started in the last few years, they’d probably be really surprised that in the older versions of Photoshop and illustrator and all those, you are limited in how many edit on dues you could do there. There was, yeah, there was something like, I mean, I want to say maybe 10 and if you wanted to go back further than that, you just couldn’t. And it’s so funny, you know, that, that I remember when you could have unlimited on dues and it just was one of the best days ever.

Sebastian Naum (04:59):
You can hit command Z a thousand times. Yeah. That’s great, man. So Matthew grew up skating. Do you have any like bad-ass tricks or like big falls?

Matthew Manos (05:08):
Yeah, so, um, my, my kind of signature trick was the hand plant. Uh, and I say was because I, I still can do it. It just, it looks really sad. Um, I think the moment you turn 30 as a skateboarder, you are in an, a new class of just old man basically. Um, but you know, I could still do it, but I used to be able to do it on coping. And, um, if you, I don’t even know if I want to suggest this, but if you look me up on YouTube, you will find it from from years ago. For sure.

Sebastian Naum (05:41):
I’ll be on it. As soon as I’m recording this, I’ll be on that.

Matthew Manos (05:46):
Well, and I definitely had plenty of big falls too. Um, you know, those are, that kind of comes with the territory. Um, there was, there was one time when I was going into a bowl, right. As someone else was going. So I was T I was primarily a bowl and vert skater, um, in my prime. Um, and you know, right. As I dropped in, they dropped in and I chose to duck and they chose to try to jump over me and they ended up kicking me in the head and I had a concussion. Oh yeah. It was, that was not a great day. No, not a good day. Yeah.

Sebastian Naum (06:22):
I can picture that perfectly. Actually. We’re just getting,

Matthew Manos (06:27):
Um, so I have, um, I grew up in the Bay area. So most of the skate parks that I would hit up were, were up there, um, especially the Sunnyvale skate park and Pacifica. And, uh, when, when I moved down to LA, which was in 2006, I would skateboard in Santa Monica a lot, take the bus there from UCLA. And I was actually at the Venice skate park on opening day to Oh, wow. Yeah,

Sebastian Naum (06:54):
Yeah. That’s awesome, man. That’s cool. So, um, Matthew there’s, there are two schools of thought one is give value away for free and it’ll come back tenfold. And then you’ve got the school of thought, which is give nothing away for free set your prices high. So you can really value yourself highly. Um, I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with either school thought. I think they both work, um, you know, in its own way. Um, and clearly you went with the former, right? So, um, you met somebody skateboarding, Ashley that inspired you to go the pro bono way. Uh, tell us what, what that was like and what was it that inspired you to go there?

Matthew Manos (07:36):
Yeah, so, uh, absolutely. So I was at a skate park. This was actually in Sunnyvale, California, and there was a guy there that was the founder of a nonprofit organization who I had met. And it was really cool moment. Um, you know, the rumors are true, everyone and their mother in Silicon Valley is the founder of something. So it wasn’t necessarily the first time I had met someone that sort of started something. Um, but it was the first time I met someone that started a nonprofit and that was just so different. Um, you know, the way that he talked about how passionate he was about the cause and, and so on really kind of was contagious for me. And it was around that time that I was actually doing that stuff in Photoshop to my face and eyes. It was around that age. I was 16 and, um, and I had offered to design him some stickers just to kind of promote his organization.

Matthew Manos (08:31):
And that became my first pro bono project. Um, funny enough, you know, mean, as you can imagine at that age, I didn’t really know what pro bono was. I hadn’t heard of it, but my dad growing up was a lawyer and, um, pro bono is really big in the legal industry. They’re required to do it, uh, to some extent in law school, for example. And so, you know, I came home kind of excited saying, Hey, I’m going to design some volunteer to design some stickers for this guy. He explained to me, Oh, that’s actually pro bono. And that’s what kind of turned me on to that whole world. And, and yeah, it got me kind of excited about it.

Sebastian Naum (09:11):
Awesome. So share with us, Matthew, what is that journey of your company? Very nice. Like where it started with design and a little bit of the basics of your business model. We’ll get a little bit into more detail. Well, what are the, what are the basics of your

Matthew Manos (09:23):
Business model? Yeah, absolutely. So, so very nice launched actually just a few years after that, uh, encounter at the skate park and it launched originally what I thought would be a student group. Um, I was in my sophomore, maybe junior year of college at UCLA and, you know, I was learning design. I was studying design, really excited about design, but had this itch of how can I, you know, apply what I’m learning in the real world or outside of the classroom. And basically to scratch that itch started offering to do design work for different student groups on campus and kind of local nonprofit organizations that I would meet on Craigslist, which is another thing that kind of makes me sound ancient, I guess, at this point. Um, but, uh, but yeah, and that was primarily graphic design work. So I was really into doing logo designs, um, you know, flyers or sort of marketing collateral and websites at that time. And that was in 2008 when we officially launched as very nice. Um, from there, you know, about maybe three or four years into it, I started to learn more about, uh, kind of how expansive design can be. Um, design thinking was starting to be written about more, you know, in, in Harvard business review and wired and all of these different places. And it kind of intrigued me, you know, this idea that a creative mindset could be applied to larger problems. Hey guys,

Sebastian Naum (10:55):
I just want to remind you that you could get more content like That’s a bastion N a U and you can also get a ton of other marketing resources from myself and my agencies ranging from SEO to social media, influencer, marketing, branding, animation, web development, and more, again, that’s a bastion, thank you and enjoy the rest of the show.

Matthew Manos (11:17):
Um, and so that’s what really sort of got me on the journey that I’m on now, which is more of being a design strategist. So really, um, you know, working with clients to identify what their needs are or what problems they’re facing working with their stakeholders, or kind of people to learn what their pain points are and trying to build a bridge between that by offering up a strategy or a solution of some sort. Um, so yeah, so, you know, it’s kind of interesting, very nice started as a graphic design company. We actually don’t do that anymore. So what it’s done has changed drastically over years, but what’s always been at the center of it is our mission. That’s been the thing that hasn’t changed, which is to give half of our services away for free to nonprofit organizations.

Sebastian Naum (12:03):
So huge. And it’s so important to realize the importance of maintaining the mission, but being able to adapt and transition, um, yeah.

Matthew Manos (12:12):
You know, your services and what you offer, but that mission is so important.

Sebastian Naum (12:17):
Keep, so how do you choose who gets pro bono versus, you know, charging them or who gets a discount who gets pro bono and who gets full price?

Matthew Manos (12:26):
How do they work for the company? Yeah. So, you know, it used to be really loose. It used to basically be, if you were making some kind of an impact, I was going to offer you pro bono work, if you weren’t, um, then it’s kind of like a full market rate type of thing. Like a typical consultancy would, would, uh, operate. And as the years went on, uh, you know, we started getting a lot more intentional about, about how we do pro bono. Um, and I’ll talk a little bit about that in a second, but where we’re at now is if you are a grassroots organization. So if you are, you know, around a million dollars or less in annual budget, uh, you’re looking at a full pro bono experience with us and then, then discounts come kind of in gradual increments. So if you’re a really large organization, we’ll give you 50% still actually.

Matthew Manos (13:18):
Um, and then if you are a for-profit, but you’re a social enterprise, we give a 10% discount. So what’s kind of cool is we went from very loose rules to now. It’s just kind of fitting people into these categories and it’s allowed us to actually extend the benefit of pro bono to way more people, you know, it used to be just black or white pro bono or paid. And when we started introducing this sliding scale model, um, I want to say maybe three or four years ago, it started to allow us to work with larger nonprofits that maybe still didn’t have the budget that a private sector client might have, um, but had a little bit, you know, and it allowed us to kind of meet them halfway, um, and make that happen. And, um, and yeah, and, you know, and kind of what this is all about is really institutionalizing pro bono is kind of the fancy way that I put it, which is you hear a lot of people, you know, I, I say, Hey, we give half of our work away for free.

Matthew Manos (14:17):
And they say, Oh, I do too. And they start laughing, you know, and, and, and, and you know, what I kind of try to say is a lot of people are doing pro bono work. Maybe they don’t actually intend to do that pro bono work. It just kind of happens. Um, and you’re, you’re smiling. I mean, I know you’ve probably been through that too, and it’s kind of happens with clients and really, um, what, you know, what I kind of recommend is actually, if you want to do that, make some rolls, make a policy around it and be sort of vocal about that. And people will know if they qualify for it, if they don’t. And I think that that was a big game changer for us is just being really transparent and open about how our model works in general.

Sebastian Naum (15:01):
It’s really cool. It’s a really great concept because a lot of people are giving away value for free in order to get awareness or whatever it is that their, their mission is. I think your mission is just really clear about the reasons that you do it and who you do it for and fitting that into those buckets. What makes your, your model successful, which is really, really cool. And another thing that I think, um, you can tell me a little bit more about that makes your model successful is that you treat your pro bono clients the same exact way as you would treat any other clients. There’s a lot of times people are like, well, you know, I’m doing this stuff for free, or, you know, we’re doing this for free or at no cost. So it’s like, it just kind of goes to the bottom of the bucket at the bottom of the list and gets less attention. That’s not the case with you guys. So it’s just like a regular client. Correct.

Matthew Manos (15:44):
Exactly. And, you know, funny enough, it sort of always has been because very nice, really launched to do this. It launched to do pro bono work. So for us to kind of toss it aside would be counterintuitive. But, you know, we do take it to a fairly extreme level where, uh, you know, we, for example, years ago, we had this non-profit this pro bono client and the, the engagement kind of went on and on, and there was scope creep and, you know, all these issues. And I kind of was reflecting on that project and saying, you know, why is it that that’s happening with this project? But it doesn’t really happen with our pay projects as much. Like how, how is it that I’m doing those? And a little light bulb went off of, Oh yeah, our, our paid projects have contracts, right? Which say, this is the scope, this is the timeline.

Matthew Manos (16:37):
This is what we do, therefore, this is what we won’t do. Um, why don’t I do that for a pro bono clients? And, you know, I kind of started looking up pro bono agreements. Is there anything out there and realized that there wasn’t and, um, probably for good reason, because you know, an agreement that has no money attached to it is it’s kind of silly, you know, but, but I think what it did for us, and we haven’t had any issues since we implemented this, um, what it did for us is it allowed us to really make it just completely clear. This is what we are offering. Like, this is what we are able to do. And we’re both going to sign this and we’re going to commit to it and we’re going to stick to it. And, you know, I think that was really a kind of a game changer for us. And, uh, one of the things I ended up doing is, um, I wrote a book called how to give half of your work away for free, which is about exactly what the title says. And one of the things that, that includes, and this is available for free online is our pro bono agreement template that we actually use. So, so yeah, if anyone that’s listening wants to try that out, you can find that’s awesome. And so

Sebastian Naum (17:50):
Speaking of give half, you then created a campaign called [inaudible] and you guys created a toolkit. So what was that about? Because that really was to further expand or scale your mission of having, um, you know, these companies have all these tools available to them. Right. So what was that about?

Matthew Manos (18:08):
Yeah, so we had just hit 10 years old. That was in 20 April, 2018. Thanks. Yeah. And, and when we, you know, when we hit that milestone, first of all, I kind of had a moment of, wow, I can’t believe I’m still doing this. Like, this was this idea I had in college, you know, and it’s so cool. And now, now it’s two years from since then, actually. So now it’s just still doing this, but I think when you hit a big milestone like that, whether it’s like five years is a big milestone for businesses, 10, I’m sure. 15, 20, they all feel this way. Um, after a while you start to think, am I, am I making the impact that I sought out to make? Right. Like I, you know, I don’t really have to be doing this anymore. Why am I doing this?

Matthew Manos (18:54):
You know, all those kinds of questions just sort of pop up. And what I realized was that funny enough, pro bono hasn’t changed since the late 18 hundreds. So that’s kind of when it was established, it’s always been, you know, face to face consulting, you know, human, to human collaborating, et cetera. And, um, and you know, I was kind of thinking about that and I realized that no matter how much pro bono work we do, there’s going to be a limit because where people and there’s the limit of time and what would happen if we moved from a give half model to a give all model, like how, how would I, that was kind of the question I pose to myself. And the answer was realizing that a lot of our strategy work, um, not to like downplay it because I think it’s great work can be, uh, templatize to, uh, to an extent, you know, there, it can be step-by-step written out and maybe it’s not going to be as great as if you hired a consultant, but if you have very clear instructions in front of you, a lot of these are just kind of steps or frameworks or processes.

Matthew Manos (20:05):
And so I looked at everything we had been doing and, um, kind of went to town like writing nine tool kits that cover nine different methods that we have. And that became the give all project where we made that, uh, openly available to anyone and everyone to download for free. So, um, so yeah, that’s been just that, that really was the start of a big new journey and in creating tool kits in general. But, um, but yeah, that was a really fun initiative for sure.

Sebastian Naum (20:36):
Sure. That’s Epic. Do you know how many times it’s been downloaded?

Matthew Manos (20:39):
Uh, it’s close to 6,000 now. Wow. Yeah. Yeah. It’s gotten really great reach. Um, you know, we, we don’t promote it too much either to be honest, a lot of it is word of mouth. And I think that that’s, to me, that’s the most amazing part of it is, you know, I even hear stories of people saying like, Hey, I did this with my client and now they’re doing it in house. Or, um, you know, Hey, like we wanted to hire someone to facilitate our board retreat, but we couldn’t afford it. And so we downloaded this and we did it ourselves and that kind of stuff is really neat. Yeah.

Sebastian Naum (21:16):
Awesome. So somebody listening to this, maybe thinking, you know, like considering going this route and their career with their startup, with their business, and they’re like, man, but that’s still just sounds so stressful to just be like banking on the fact that you’re going to get business back. You’re created this toolkit that 6,000 people have downloaded for free, which means that they’re not hiring you or paying you. Right. So it’s really interesting to think, but how much though, has that come back? Because the more people that are down there’s people that are, I’m sure that are downloading this toolkit and looking at all this information, and then then deciding actually, you know what, this is actually the deciding factor, realizing that we do want to hire your company because we do want to, you know, go further and go deeper on this. Right. Has that really helped kind of like the whole, like maybe like karma thing, the more you give the more you get. Yeah.

Matthew Manos (22:06):
So, you know, give all is, so that’s a collection of nine tool kits. What came before it is a toolkit called models of impact. That was my first one. And I can say that, um, we’ve been able to calculate that we’ve seen, uh, over a million dollars in revenue from that tool kit from referrals, from that tool kit. And that was a complete shock. I mean, keep in mind, that’s over, you know, like four or five years, but that, that, yeah, that is, that was a complete shock that was like give all, it was open sourcing one of our methods. Um, and yeah, and we ended up winning a huge client because they saw that. And that was kind of the validating moment, that point, Hey, this is a really great process. Can we hire you to do it for us? Um, so, so yeah, that these things, you know, I think can come back.

Matthew Manos (23:01):
I do want to say that if somebody is interested in making tools like this, you shouldn’t expect that that’s going to happen. Um, you know, cause I think the moment you cause a, it might not. And then, and then B um, the moment that you kind of create a tool like this and make it free or pay what you want and you’re expecting something in exchange, it actually does show up in the content. Like the content starts to feel a bit salesy. And I think part of why ours have done well, is it doesn’t feel like a, like a sales pitch. It just feels like this is just it.

Sebastian Naum (23:36):
Yeah. I’m really glad you clarified that. So, because at the end of the day, what you see is you put out something for free, it’s brought about $250,000 a year in revenue. It’s probably given you a lot of press, so it’s Epic. But if you had gone with this intention, like this double intention of like, I’m just doing it to get seen and to get money and return, it would have been different. Like you said, it would have shown in the actual, you know, so you have to do with the right intentions, the mission has to really be there and then you hope for it to come back or not. So the point is you’re doing it regardless.

Matthew Manos (24:09):
And, and if, and you know, I I’ve, I really believe that there’s a lot of different types of value that you can receive from things. Um, you know, money is one of those things. But one thing that I feel lucky about is how many people I’ve been able to connect with because of these tools, um, because they’re online around the world, even that I, I never would have met these people. Um, and, and then the other thing is it is genuinely fun. Like I actually enjoy creating these things and I, and I would do it for free, you know, and I, you know, I would do it without expecting in exchange. I just think it’s really fun and that’s kind of lucky to be able to do something that’s just fun, too

Sebastian Naum (24:53):
Fun. That’s really important. Fun is really important, man. Yeah. So what’s really cool about that is that it’s not just you getting to connect with other people, but I’m sure that from you building that tool, you got to connect other people with each other and other companies which helped, you know, further their missions and dreams, which is kind of a really cool, good feeling for you as well.

Matthew Manos (25:14):
Absolutely. And you know, one of the things that blew my mind, this is probably the best example I can give. I was in Mexico city last year. Um, and I was hanging out with somebody that uses the tool a lot and he actually, and, and by a lot, I mean a lot, um, he told me that he has done it with 15,000 people. Wow. Yeah. And he just, he runs these workshops, these big events, and he uses our tools and it’s just incredible. I, you know, I, I will never meet these people that he worked with, but they, you know, in a way they’ve, I’ve been able to be a part of that. And that’s so cool. Yeah,

Sebastian Naum (25:53):
Really cool, man. That’s really cool. And there’s no price on that, man. That is right. That is awesome. That is so cool. So a lot of, um, a lot of your employees that work on some of these nonprofits are actually volunteers, which is part of the reason that you can make this business model work. How important is it to have those volunteers be aligned with your mission and then kind of like, uh, you know, to piggy back off of that, do they get to choose the nonprofit they’re working on? So if somebody is really passionate about the environment, do they get to work on a nonprofit that has to do with the environment?

Matthew Manos (26:27):
Yeah. Great question. So, and I think this actually gives me a chance to explain what very nice sort of looks like as a business, um, for, for those of you that are curious, you know, we have a very small team, very small kind of core team, uh, in Los Angeles. And, um, as Sebastian’s alluded to, we have this really big network of collaborators. So these are people that are either paid freelancers for freelance gigs, or are volunteers for pro bono projects. And, uh, we have over 900 of these people in our network. So we have a really robust, you know, strategists, writers, designers, um, all kinds of people. And you know, that the, the really kind of key thing that you were getting at is that they really do have to be aligned. Um, and so aligned to the point that we actually don’t even solicit for people to join.

Matthew Manos (27:18):
There’s like one little link in the footer of our website and that’s it. We don’t do, you know, ads recruiting any of that. Um, I just kind of, I see it as this kind of open door thing. And, um, part of where that strategy came from, I was actually in Pasadena, this was maybe 10 years ago or longer. I it’s hard to remember now. Um, and I was holding like a bunch of Chinese food, like in both hands and sadly, it was like, it was all for me. Um, and, and I was, I was walking on the sidewalk and this person stopped me and they said, Oh, excuse me, do you have a few minutes to talk about the hungry? And I felt like such an because I was late to something. And then yet here I was, you know, like having all this food for myself, right.

Matthew Manos (28:08):
And that encounter made me realize that the only reason maybe I would have engaged with them is because of guilt. And that is not a great way to build community, right. Is, is through guilt. And I mean, I think, you know, a healthy dose of guilt is good here and there, but if you’re really trying to build a community, you don’t want to be forcing people to join. And that’s what inspired, never soliciting for volunteers. So it really is truly just, if you happen to find that link, you know, you can kind of reach out and get involved. And we do ask you about a number of things. One of them is causes that you’re passionate about. And so when a project comes up with a nonprofit, uh, you know, that’s maybe in the healthcare space, um, and if we do need a volunteer for it, we will look for somebody that, uh, is passionate about that. And, and I think that that’s critical because at the end of the day, you know, nobody needs to do this. Everybody’s doing this because they want to. And, and I think that’s what makes it so special as a community. Yeah,

Sebastian Naum (29:13):
That’s so cool. Matthew. I mean, this is like super inspiring. I mean, you’ve built a business off of giving work away for free to nonprofits and organizations that you care about and have a higher purpose. And that’s brought in a bunch of great for-profit business for you, your operate a lot of the non-profit pro bono work through volunteers who you don’t solicit, who come after you and say, Hey, I want to work for you for free because it, it, it, you know, it helps them fuel their passion and mission and helps other nonprofits. And it’s just, I think it’s such a great example of, uh, you know, purpose and profit and just such a beautiful balance. And I think at a really, I think it makes the world a better place. I think it helps expand just so much, so much. Goodness, man, it’s Epic. I love it. You’ve been designing some, uh, some cool graphics and comics, a little bit of art comedy here and there that, I mean, what do you got going on there?

Matthew Manos (30:08):
Yeah, no, that’s great. So I’ve been drawing comics probably since, uh, like middle school. Um, and, and I actually, every, actually in this frame, literally every book behind me is a comic or a graphic novel. Um, it’s kind of funny. I always feel a little embarrassed by that because sometimes I’m on podcasts and people are like, Oh, what book are you reading? And I’m, I’m, I feel expected to say, you know, some kind of like social impact book or business book, and I’m like, ah, uh, prison pit by Johnny Ryan, you know? And, and so, and so, um, yeah, I’ve always been obsessed with comics and it’s been a big part of my work in a way because of, you know, the way that I kind of do workshops or work with clients is in a very kind of strict sequence or narrative format. And I get a lot of that inspiration from comics and, um, and yeah, and you know, I’ve been earlier this year, like in January, uh, when we found out that we were having kids, I realized that it had been, you know, five years that I had been saying, I want to write, I want to write a graphic novel and, you know, finding out that we’re going to have kids knowing my life’s going to change, you know, time for these kinds of passion projects might be limited for a little bit.

Matthew Manos (31:25):
I got to just do this thing. And so I wrote one in January and then I’d been drawing it and coloring it ever since. And it’s, um, I have 36 pages done. It’s going to be 48. Um, and, uh, yeah, and it’s kind of like a dark comedy, very like existential about just the meaning of life and it’s yeah. I, I think it’s funny. I hope people like it, but I also kind of don’t care cause I just wanted to do it.

Sebastian Naum (31:52):
I love it, man. I can’t wait to read it. And I like that you actually getting to do it just because you’re passionate about it. You don’t hear people like it or not sure. Which is awesome. Um, Matthew, you know, you’re a great example of a conscious leader. What do you think are the two most important traits that a conscious leader has to embody today?

Matthew Manos (32:12):
Hmm, wow. You know, I think one, so one of those traits is they have to be a good storyteller. Um, you know, the, the thing, I, I feel like that doesn’t get enough attention. I mean, a lot of people talk about storytelling, but I think it’s such a core leadership skill because what leadership is, is in a way helping to make things that are very complex, very, just clear, um, so that people can see in it and choose to be involved or not. Um, you know, I think, I think that was something that has always really helped me and, you know, and I kind of jock joke about the comics, but to me, comics are one of the most complex forms of storytelling that there are. Um, because it’s these still images in a sequence you cannot control timing that people are experiencing them in.

Matthew Manos (33:02):
Um, and they can be so deep. So, so I think storytelling is key. Um, the, and another one that’s sort of cliche, I’m sure a lot of people say is empathy. Um, and part of why I think that’s so important is to be a good leader. You have to have lived a lot of the different roles that you might be managing. So, so I, you know, I was talking about empathy for your team. Um, you know, for example, with very nice, I was the accountant. I was the bookkeeper. I was the marketer. I was the designer at some point I had people for all of those different roles, but I had done them, um, albeit in a, in a not very great way, but I, but I had done those things and I think it allowed me to appreciate the people that I work with more. Um, and you know, and I think that that’s something that, that every leader should strive for is start a little bit slow, you know, try to do, try to wear a lot of hats and gradually take one off at a time and see what happens.

Sebastian Naum (33:59):
That’s huge. I think it’s really important. I talk about it all the time. I like to call it the janitor effect. You have to, like at some point have swept floors and cleaned the bathrooms, you know? And, um, and the first thing you said, I’ve heard, I’ve asked this question to a lot of people and I not just in this podcast, but I ask it all the time and what you said about storytelling, man, that’s Epic. I’ve never heard that before. And I love the, how you explained it and the importance of it. And it’s so true. It’s not just about being a marketer or a designer, doesn’t matter what you are. If you’re a leader and you want to be a conscious leader, if you can tell stories in a way that inspires in a way that gets your mission across, it’s so important. And it, in a way that you can maybe draw an analogy so that people understand things better. So cool that you said that, and I’m glad you brought that up, Matthew. Right? So how can people get ahold of you? Where should people follow you? And a very nice,

Matthew Manos (34:52):
Yeah. Well, so you can learn more about, very nice on our Um, another really big project we have is called Reginald, which is called, which And that’s actually where we house all of our toolkits that we’ve been talking about. So we talked about give all today models of impact. There’s a bunch more on there too. So I do hope people, you know, go there and just download everything and, and tell people. Um, and then, um, I’m pretty active on Instagram at very nice Instagram too. So you can DM me if you have a question or, or anything like that.

Sebastian Naum (35:25):
Perfect. I love it. I’m definitely going to be going on there and downloading, I already follow you and I love your content. So keep it up, man. You keep doing you man, keep being a conscious leader I’m of everything you’re doing. And it’s

Matthew Manos (35:38):
Very inspiring to me and I’m sure to a lot of other people. So thank you so much. I appreciate you. Yeah. Thanks Sebastian. Likewise. Thank you.