Hala Taha is the host of Young and Profiting Podcast, frequently ranked as a #1 Education podcast across all apps. Hala is also the CEO of YAP Media, a full-service social media and podcast marketing agency for top podcasters, celebrities and CEOs generating over $2M in revenue in its first year. She is well-known for her engaged following and influence on Linkedin, and she landed the January 2021 cover of Podcast Magazine.
Hala started her career in radio production while in college at HOT97 on “The Angie Martinez Show.” Later, she launched an entertainment news blog site, “The Sorority of Hip Hop,” where she led an all-female team of 50 bloggers. Together they ran the popular site, interviewed celebrities, produced radio shows, hosted parties/concerts, and nearly snagged a reality TV show on MTV!
When the blog site boom slowed down, Hala took a temporary exit from the entertainment industry to get an MBA. She has 7 years of corporate marketing experience at HP and Disney Streaming Services. She started Young and Profiting Podcast and YAP Media as a side hustle, scaling the business to 35+ employees before quitting her executive position at Disney to take the leap into entrepreneurship.
YAP Media is now a premier white-glove social media and podcast production agency for CEOS, celebrities and top podcasters, with several high profile clients on their roster and nearly 60 employees. Hala is an expert on networking, personal branding, Linkedin marketing, side hustles, entrepreneurship and podcasting.
Check out more interviews with entrepreneurs here.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO GET FEATURED?
All interviews are 100% FREE OF CHARGE
Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Hala Taha: So nice to virtually meet all of you reading this article. My name is Hala Taha and I’m involved in three ventures:
I’m the host of the Young and Profiting Podcast, a top self-improvement podcast with over 3M downloads.
I’m the founder and CEO of YAP Media, a full-service podcast production and marketing agency for top podcasters, celebrities, and CEOs.
I’m also the founder and CEO of the YAP Media Network, which fuels the growth and monetization of network podcasts.
I started the Young and Profiting Podcast as a side hustle back in April 2018, while working in corporate marketing at Hewlett Packard. Then I moved to Disney, and launched YAP Media two years into my podcasting journey. At the start of the pandemic, making use of the new flexibility and time I found in remote work, I scaled the digital agency to 30+ employees. After quitting my executive position at Disney Streaming Services, I leaped into entrepreneurship full-time. YAP Media grew into a premier, white-glove social media and podcasting agency for CEOs, celebrities and hosts. We work with several high-profile clients, and retain nearly 60 employees.
2020 and 2021 threw a lot of curve balls into business on a global scale. Based on the experience gleaned in the past couple years, how can businesses thrive in 2022? What lessons have you learned?
Hala Taha: A major part of our success is my rockstar team. People are the heart of any successful company. They make all the difference in hard times. When I first started, I had a few volunteers who enjoyed listening to the podcast, and who helped me produce the show and run my social media. Not only did they want to see my podcast grow, they wanted to grow with me. That was crucial. They truly believed in what I was doing and stuck with me in the ups and downs. Once we found the ideal offer for our clients, the business started growing fast.
The pandemic seems to keep on disrupting the economy, what should businesses focus on in 2022? What advice would you share?
Hala Taha: My best advice?
Focus on your niche. Get really good at your craft. Know that nothing happens overnight. It took me two years to build my podcast, Young and Profiting, before I started to receive any real notoriety. From there, I started YAP Media, which has grown our brand exponentially.
However, don’t let what you see on social media fool you; success takes time, hard work, and relentless dedication. Focus on your business, and learn new skills so you can differentiate yourself. Don’t let distractions get in the way.
And in case you haven’t yet…go digital!
How has the pandemic changed your industry and how have you adapted?
Hala Taha: Not being stuck in the analog world was a huge boom for YAP during Covid. As the world was forced into remote work, we thrived being a digital agency. Businesses took funding they would have spent on live in-person events and poured it into digital marketing agencies like mine.
Originally, I was very worried that without commutes, podcast listenership would tank. (It did slightly in the beginning.) But then the industry bloomed, with new podcast creators and listeners. Today, having a digital presence and online personal brand is more important than ever.
What advice do you wish you received when the pandemic started and what do you intend on improving in 2022?
Hala Taha: I wish someone had told me to become a full-time entrepreneur earlier.
By the time I left my job a year ago, I had 35 people around the world working at YAP Media, with a revenue of over $40K per month.
I could have quit months earlier!
During the pandemic I was working 18 hour days, weekends, and didn’t have a life. Benefits of all this work included quintupling my revenue, and tripling the size of my show, and doubling the size of my team. The downside was that I worked very hard, to the point of burn-out.
So, this year I am all about having a work-life balance! I want to focus on self care and sustainable productivity. Not “heroic individualism,” which is perpetuated by a modern culture that relentlessly says you need to be better, feel better, think happier, have more, and “optimize” your life.
This so-called heroism leads to burnout and unhappiness. The opposite of this is groundedness, which is a practice that values presence over rote productivity. It accepts that progress is nonlinear and prioritizes long-term values and fulfillment over short-term gain.
And that is exactly what I intend to do all of 2022!
Online business surged higher than ever, B2B, B2C, online shopping, virtual meetings, remote work, Zoom medical consultations, what are your expectations for 2022?
Hala Taha: The world can change in an instant, as we’re seeing now with Ukraine. It’s hard to predict what exactly 2022 will hold. I think many businesses will continue to move to this new hybrid of in-person and virtual work. We’ll see an emphasis on employee well-being.
The last two years have been hard. Companies need strong focus on the employee experience and retention. Overall, I believe work will stay virtual. It’s a more flexible way of life, and people won’t go back to the way it used to be–even when Covid becomes less of a concern.
How many hours a day do you spend in front of a screen?
Hala Taha: A lot! Anywhere from 12 to 18 hours.
YAP Media is a fully remote company, so all of our meetings and calls are virtual. While I do spend a lot of time in front of a screen, I also make it a priority to exercise almost every day. This is my favorite way to clear my head and get my endorphins flowing.
That’s why I encourage my team to take their calls on walks outdoors, or while out driving and running errands. I think our success is all about flexibility and understanding the importance of moving, and getting fresh air.
The majority of executives use stories to persuade and communicate in the workplace. Can you share with our readers examples of how you implement that in your business to communicate effectively with your team?
Hala Taha: Storytelling is incredibly important at YAP Media. We use storytelling every day in creating content for our clients. Recently, all of the YAP team met and spoke about our core values:
These are the 5 H’s: Happy, Hungry, Hardworking, Hands-On, and Honest.
To excel at YAP, our team members need to embody these values. And those who do go far! I’ve seen several people at YAP go from intern, to manager and beyond. Trajectories like that inspire new employees that there is tremendous potential for them at YAP–to learn and grow–if they just put in the dedication.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as the real challenge right now?
Hala Taha: One difficulty is declining employee retention. Sometimes it’s difficult to please clients. This is a fast-growing company, and at times we’ve had processes scale a little slower and messier than we wanted. A downside of remote work is real team bonding.
All this leads to our motto this year: #NiceClients2022.
To me, the happiness of my executive team and employees trumps everything else. We are only accepting clients who treat us with respect and appreciate the hard work and 100 percent effort that we give. I think that the client–company relationship must be a healthy one. One of the ways I am improving company culture, as well as everyone’s mental health, is to be really picky about my clients. I could call it a perk of being a premier agency. But really, it’s my responsibility to our team.
In 2022, what are you most interested in learning about? Crypto, NFTs, online marketing, or any other skill sets? Please share your motivations.
Hala Taha: I’m excited to dive into NFTs in 2022. I’ve joined BAPES as an ambassador, the largest Metavestor club in the world. BAPES stands for Business Apes, and is one of the fastest-growing NFT projects to ever launch. The BAPES business community will vote on NFT projects to invest in. In the process, we’re completely changing the way everyone looks at NFT utilities.
A record 4.4 million Americans left their jobs in September in 2021, accelerating a trend that has become known as the Great Resignation. 47% of people plan to leave their job during 2022. Most are leaving because of their boss or their company culture. 82% of people feel unheard, undervalued and misunderstood in the workplace. Do you think leaders see the data and think “that’s not me – I’m not that boss they don’t want to work for? What changes do you think need to happen?
Hala Taha: As much as leaders want to think they’re not the reason their employees are quitting, I’m afraid to say–it is the reason. People are finally realizing they can find better opportunities in another job, or even on their own, and they aren’t standing for toxic culture, or awful bosses.
As I said, in 2022, companies have to study their cultures to identify gaps. YAP Media’s leadership team is already doing it. We’re placing a bigger emphasis on culture, employee happiness, team bonding, and transparent communication. Employees are the greatest asset a company has. The companies that don’t realize this are seeing The Great Resignation on their doorstep.
On a lighter note, if you had the ability to pick any business superpower, what would it be and how would you put it into practice?
Hala Taha: To see into the future. I would love to see what happens, not only in my career, but throughout my life. It would certainly benefit my business, because I could see what works and what doesn’t. Then I’d make the foretold changes…and win big!
What does “success” in 2022 mean to you? It could be on a personal or business level, please share your vision.
Hala Taha: In 2022, success to me means growing YAP Media and the YAP Media Network. We just launched the YAP Media Podcast Collective, a non-exclusive podcast network to help grow and monetize podcasts. This year, I want to have over 100 podcasters and influencers to monetize and grow their cross-channel platforms. We’re leveraging our outreach, sales ops, production social media know-how and relations.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Hala Taha for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Hala Taha or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
Disclaimer: The ValiantCEO Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.