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Episode 20 - Creative Online Entrepreneurship 101 - With Alex Markley

Creative Online Entrepreneurship 101: With Alex Markley

Episode 20 - Listen Now

How to start an online creative business with all the vast tech available in today’s world.

Chatting with Alex was so inspirational. We had so much fun hearing about the beginnings of Markley Bros. Entertainment.

In This Episode…Alex Markley 0:00

I've, I've always had a sense that there were specific ingredients that would need to go into this dish. Yes. But without necessarily knowing what the final dish is gonna look or taste like. Yeah. You know, and so it always has revolved around. Number one, being able to connect with people through that shared experience of laughter Yes, being able to make people laugh, and through that disarming effective laughter to connect with people in a way that goes beyond what you can do in traditional media, yeah.

Lance Foulis 0:50

Hello, everybody, welcome back to another exciting episode of Lance lots Roundtable. I'm excited to bring on a good friend of mine, Alex Merkley. Alex, welcome to the roundtable. Hello, thank you want to take a minute and introduce yourself to the people?

Alex Markley 1:05

Yeah. So you already said Alex Merkley established, it is established? Yes. So I, I am a online creator. I don't like saying YouTube channel person because you know, there's a whole thing about that, we'll probably get into Sure. But I like to make funny videos, put them online and make people laugh. That's something that I really enjoy doing. In a nutshell. Yes, in a nutshell. That is not what I do for my day job. Okay. Unfortunately, I'm not yet anyway. Yeah, yet anyway. Yes. Yeah, as a, you know, by by day, I am a, like a software and Solutions Architect. So I get to work on systems that need to talk to each other over networks and get stuff done for people. And a lot of times they're broken, and I have to talk through helping people fix them. So some problem solving all kinds of problems all at the top. I mean, if you have a computer and it's connected to another computer, that's like two problems right there. You haven't even started, right?

Lance Foulis 2:16

Just two problems initially. Yeah. And it's gonna get wild. So yeah, so let's just talk let's just dive right in and talk about Markley Brothers Entertainment. How did you even when did you even have the idea to create web video content?

Alex Markley 2:32

Well, initially, it wasn't going to be web video content. You know, this is this is a, you know, journey that started with me and my siblings playing with my dad's camcorder. Yep. And you know, really enjoying just making goofy stuff. And you know, if it was video recorder, or if it was a cassette recorder, we would just, you know, make make jokes and do goofy stuff. And enjoy that. I took a brief detour into designing video games and, and programming video games as a teenager. And then spent a bunch of time working on figuring out how to do the music for those video games. Okay, music and sound effects and all that fun stuff. And so that turned into basically, a whole a whole bunch of stuff that I wanted to put on the internet and share with people and at the time, there wasn't really a good platform for that. This is kind of pre pre YouTube days. Yes. Back in the days of antiquity. Yes. Back in back in the back in the stone age of the internet. Yes. So yeah, you know, a lot of just putting files up and saying telling people to go download them and then they couldn't because they didn't have the right driver. Like, have you installed Flash Player? Oh, God install real player.

Lance Foulis 4:04

Oh my gosh, time or direct?

Alex Markley 4:06

What is your direct media? Yeah, direct extract. Yep.

Lance Foulis 4:10

So I mean, that just that does remind me of Richie. I think it would have been in the 90s When my parents got their first personal computer and like we had a chest game on there, where there was just like little animations of all the little characters they would get and then they would kill each other

Alex Markley 4:24

under the like the little pinball pinball. Oh, yes. We need to see we need to wrap up this part of the conversation because it's making me sad. The nostalgia over real so this was a this was a dark time.

Lance Foulis 4:38

So I want to talk about the cassette recording. So I'm picturing you with Okay, so like a cassette tape is pre CD. Oh, yeah.

Alex Markley 4:47

Yeah. Well, we would we would have like the little you know, your little portable cassette player. Yes. That had like the microphone and so you could record and make silly voices and, you know,

Lance Foulis 4:58

so like, was this a story originally? Were you writing jokes? Like, what? What was that content?

Alex Markley 5:03

I mean, I wouldn't say that it really ever amounted to any content. It was just jokes, right? Like, I figured out a way to make like a really spooky voice. Okay, and turn it up super loud and then put it under my sister's bed. Right. And we had one of those remote control like, power switches. Okay, you could use for lights all over the house. Oh, that's cool. So we like, you know, wired it up so that I could remotely turn on spooky noises like under my sister's bed?

Lance Foulis 5:32

Oh my gosh, that's amazing.

Alex Markley 5:33

Not sure she's this Susie. Now this was Alice. Alice. Okay, I

Lance Foulis 5:37

haven't met Alice.

Alex Markley 5:38

She, she's probably still not forgiven.

Lance Foulis 5:42

Hence why I haven't met Alice. So I want to talk now, because I don't think I knew this video games. I didn't know you designed video games?

Alex Markley 5:49

Well, you know, it was a, it was an interesting, it was an interesting endeavor. You know, I had a couple of ideas for video games. And and actually, you know, I've always been more of a technologist than anything else. And I've been very fascinated by the intersection of technology and creativity and how technology can when used correctly, can really enable creativity that really, you know, you can you can make things happen that couldn't possibly be done otherwise. Yes. So, you know, I was really interested in interactive, you know, interactive media, and, you know, video games, stuff like that, like, these are the kinds of things that every kid wants to program. Yes. And true. You know, I think I was 13 when I actually like programmed my first video game. And it was a really simple like, maze game. So I don't want to, you know, over oversell it or anything, but

Lance Foulis 6:53

you aren't doing any Bioware games or anything. No, no, no. Yeah. So I mean, that's what I've heard. So like, there was a friend of mine growing up, he went into computer science, I think, at OSU, and one of the classes that they were doing, had to do with like, designing something video game related. And so he was asking me, What kind of a video game should I build out? Probably because I was a nerd. But he, I was like, I think you should do chess. And then he's like, that's way too complicated, because there's way too many variables. So I can't do that. And then I was like, Well, you can't even like design a chess game. Like, what are your options even? And like, I didn't get like a full idea. So I was just curious, like, what like, Is this in DOS? Like, where is this environment that you're creating a video game?

Alex Markley 7:36

Yeah, yeah. Um, so. So this was actually, you know, I took a very weird path, right? So you know, want to make that clear, like I was, I was homeschooled, and my dad was very deep into technology. So a lot of my directions were kind of like, either from him or self directed. So, so this wasn't like in a classroom setting. Right. Right. But what I did was I found a, like, an open source compiler for Gameboy for GameBoy Color. Got it? So I was just very interested in designing. You know, like, to me, the, you know, the Nintendo systems were kind of like, the, the pinnacle of, you know, gaming. You know, like, if you could, if you could make a Nintendo game, you were like, you made it, you know, because they were like, gatekeeping the entire experience, it was very difficult. Like, there was no such thing as, you know, like a homebrew Nintendo game. Right, right. So I didn't want to do like a DOS game or a Windows game, because I was like, No, I want to get the attention of Nintendo. Yes. You know, yes. So I was literally coding in C, and messing around with a Gameboy compiler. And so this isn't even on a PC. Well, the, you know, interface, the code is on on the PC. So, you know, designing code designing a little tiles, you know, but compiling it down into a binary that could literally run on GameBoy hardware.

Lance Foulis 9:17

That's amazing. Did you get it to run on GameBoy hardware?

Alex Markley 9:20

We Yes, we did. Yeah,

Lance Foulis 9:21

we did. Who's Who's the Wii?

Alex Markley 9:23

Well, my dad helped me with the the actual electronics because, you know, there's an interface you have to you have to go from you can't just have like, ones and zeros. You have to actually like burn it onto a chip, and then plug it in. Get it Get it going. But

Lance Foulis 9:38

yeah, so like, you're actually like physically doing stuff to an actual Gameboy to get this to.

Alex Markley 9:43

Oh, yeah, we bought a ton of Gameboy cartridges and it's like, tore them all apart.

Lance Foulis 9:48

That's amazing. So like, Was your dad fairly self taught as well?

Alex Markley 9:52

Yeah, I would say, you know, he's, he's kind of, kind of, in one of the earliest waves of Yeah, computer engineers and software. Yes. Software.

Lance Foulis 10:04

Well, like you go back far enough. And there wasn't even like a major in a university. Oh, no, Peter stuff.

Alex Markley 10:10

No, no. Yeah, this was Yeah. I mean, he was he was coming up when if you wanted, like, if you wanted a computer, you had to solder it together. Not kidding. That was not an exaggeration.

Lance Foulis 10:22

Yeah, I think our first computer that was in the actual house was, I think it was called a Commodore computer. And I don't even think it worked. But it was an entire desk that was in our basement. It had, I don't know what the size of the floppy was. But it was like bigger than a writer's night. And that was a floppy disk that went into part of the desk, which was part of the computer. I think it was called a Commodore but I don't even think it turned on. And then they eventually got a PC. That would have been one of the earliest iterations of windows where it booted up into dos, and then you would go into Windows, or you do stuff in DOS. And then I think when I was in college is when personal computers started booting up into Windows, where, where Windows basically became the primary thing instead of DOS being like the main thing. And I don't know much about computers, and I'm not a very smart individual. But I think it's really fascinating that because, I mean, you're talking about being a 13 year old kid, and you're talking about like self teaching complicated matters, and technology. Why did you have motivation to do that? Would you say? Instead of really, anything else that a 13 year old could be doing, like riding a bike, or what a whole year olds get into?

Alex Markley 11:35

Yeah, um, I, I've always had a very deep focus on whatever it is that's in front of me. And so when I, when I came to the conclusion that I really wanted to make a video game, there were there were a couple of things about that, you know, one was, I, I, if I, once I came to, once I came to understand that the tools were available, and that there was nothing stopping me from doing it. It was, you know, it was like, just a mind over matter, like my, you know, my ADD to discipline my will to get it done. Yeah, but the other thing too, was that, you know, I don't know where this came from, but in my earliest years, and I'm thinking like, 10 years, or even, you know, you know, eight 910 I really experienced a lot of like, a lot of anxiety and apprehension around not having, not knowing how to program the computer. Sure, like this idea that, you know, you know, my dad could do it. Yep. Right. And I wasn't exposed to other people's dads, but I figured, like, if I want to be like, Dad, when I grow up, I have to be able to do this. And then I couldn't really wrap my head around why that wasn't clicking for me. Yeah. And I was like, Man, I must be really stupid. And nobody ever told me that it was just like, this inference that I made, that if I was like, eight years old, and hadn't figured out how to program a computer yet, it just wasn't going to happen. Oh, man. So there was a lot of pressure.

Lance Foulis 13:27

Yeah, seriously, cuz that's, I mean, that's no joke, like being able to program a computer. So like, what did you eventually do? Did you just get books out library? Did you just work with your dad?

Alex Markley 13:36

There, there's a book there's a series of two books that are no longer in print. Sure. That I can, I can still remember, it was C++ for Dummies, volumes one and two are my Dan Gookin. And the current version of C++ for Dummies is a completely different book by a different author. And, and has no no relationship to the original, the original two books, but I basically made the decision that even if I didn't understand it, I was going to type in every example. Sure. and work through the entire book from front, you know, did these two books from front to back, and by the time I was done, I understood how programming worked. And did that take a long time to get through to as a side effect. I also learned how to type

Lance Foulis 14:31

I learned how to type what was it Macy's typing or something basically, it was a computer program and you were driving a car? Oh yeah, I hated that successfully. I ate it up for some reason. And then and then once I learned how to kind of type bare necessities and I was like, I can write stories. Now. That's when I started writing. Cuz I tried writing as a kid. This is something we get to get into later, maybe like it's been brought up on other episodes, but I used to love to write because I create very creative So I would have things in my mind, imagine very imaginative type stories, I would write them down, started with a pen. And then after maybe 20 pages, I would realize, Oh, I got to edit this, which means I have to rewrite the whole page. And then that messes up every subsequent page. I think that kind of caused burnout. So once I had a computer in front of me word, Doc, and I could see how easy the editing was. I was like, Okay, so anyway, that's really funny that you didn't know how to type you get out these programming books, you're typing an exam, what I'm picturing is you opening C++ for Dummies, you see an example of code, and you type it in, is it enter? Or do you type a command run? Yeah, you'd

Alex Markley 15:36

have to. So this was actually on on DOS, DOS, Borland C compiler, and you would have to compile your C program into an exe file. And then you could run it. And Windows XE. Oh, no, this was something else. Dos. Dos. eXe got it. Okay. Yeah. And so, you know, if you got it right, you could run it, otherwise, you would not.

Lance Foulis 16:01

And but I mean, that's, that's something to talk about. I think there too, because back during that kind of a program, you didn't necessarily I don't think you were working with a program that would point out where your error was, it just wouldn't work. And then it's up to you,

Alex Markley 16:13

while the compiler would try to tell you where it thought if it failed to compile. But if, and this is still the case, today, if you are writing a program, and it, it works, but it does the wrong thing, then you have to go on an adventure. That's really funny. Yeah. Because from the computer's perspective, it's doing what you asked. It's just not what you want.

Lance Foulis 16:38

Yeah, and it's not gonna it's not sophisticated enough to tell you. So that's so crazy. Have you heard of, I got to look this up right now. Because I need to get this right. Have you heard of, I think it's 13 minutes to the moon podcast.

Alex Markley 16:54

You heard of that? I don't think so.

Lance Foulis 16:57

on it, on pulling it up here. 13 minutes to the moon, which was a BB C World Service podcasts. I don't remember how many episodes are in this thing. But it's all about how they got the guys to the moon. And they have so many different podcasts about how they developed the technology and the lady, the ladies that wrote the programs, right to basically, for the command module to actually land. So the program's behind getting this thing to land on the moon, and all the errors and issues that came up and everything. So like, it's just really fast, because what they were programming on I think was like cards. Like where you would type seven is like the cards and the cards go into the computer, just I mean, the super, super, super basic stuff. So but that's essentially what one of the main things that allowed us to have personal computers letters, because they work so hard to develop all this different technology. Oh, yeah. So what's always been fascinating to me about people that learn programming languages, I have one of my jobs at my current in my in the company that I work for right now, one of my jobs was doing data. It wasn't data mining, or anything like that, it would basically be like data targeting. So you have a group of people that you want to market to. So my job was to get in there write down specific programming code to go into our database. So it's like a database code. And the interesting thing about writing that kind of code is that everything's like color, color coded and everything. So if you don't type something correctly, it usually comes out in red. It's like you're not using the right thing here. But what you're describing right is not in this kind of environment where she typed something out, you think it might be right. And then again, you might have to go on adventure to find out what's not running correctly. Right.

Alex Markley 18:45

Yeah, I mean, it would be the same if, let's say, I assume you're using like, SQL, like a SQL query, right? SQL and SAS? Yep. Yep. And if you've got a, you know, if you just mess up your join in a way that is syntactically correct, but doesn't make any sense, then you're either going to get not enough rows back or you're going to get

Lance Foulis 19:06

way, way, way too many. And you might get an email, right? Somebody, your thing is still running and you are taking up, Dan wakley. We shut it down. Yes, stop. Yes. So that would be me trying to run something and then I'm running it. I'm like, this has taken a long time and then they'll shut it down. And then you get your no returns. And it's like, Okay, I'm getting my email soon. Oh, yes. Or your boss just gets the email or you both get the email. That's always fun. Oh, yeah. So anyway, that was really cool. So what happens next in your journey, like you're learning you basically self taught yourself different programming things? Did you keep going down that path? Did it change like kind of what came what came next?

Alex Markley 19:51

Yeah, I think it's, it's a, it's a long story. So kind of kind of a kind of summarizing a little bit, you know, we, you know, I spent a lot of time chatting with friends and, and talking with people about trying to put together some, some kind of, you know, you know, media collaborative group of people who are, you know, using using their creative talents to, to do stuff and publish things online. You know, Napster was turning into a big thing at the time, okay. And I was completely completely captivated by the idea of basically just writing the middleman out of the media equation. And today, so like a record company being right, middleman, yes. And today, that doesn't even resonate with people because they've never even like, lived in a world where there are intermediaries who basically gatekeeper and decide whose stuff can be published and whose stuff cannot be published. But, um, but it was a very real concern and something that I was, you know, I was very captivated by and fascinated by the theoretical power of the Internet to connect creators directly to their audience. Yeah, you know, and it's the fruit of which we're enjoying now, but at the time, it was completely hypothetical, right? So, so Napster just completely blew the doors off of that at the level of individuals, realizing that the internet could be a place where they could go and get content. Yeah. Before that, it was like, why would you use the internet? What What would you use the internet for? Right, in terms of entertainment, because I've got my cable, and I've got my theater, and I've got my blockbuster. So what, you know, I got the library or Barnes and Noble, whatever. So why would I ever use the internet for content? Right? Anyway, so that was transformative, obviously, for the world, but also for, you know, teenage Alex, yeah, you're learning freaking out. I would basically be telling people, if, if they if they weren't walking fast enough, they'd hear about it from me. So it was kind of a problem. But anyway, so I just went on a tear. So I started publishing music. I, I co wrote a novel with a buddy of mine and started no that either Oh, it's, it's, um, what

Lance Foulis 22:30

was the novel about?

Alex Markley 22:31

I don't want to talk about it. Okay. That's fair. It's not in print anymore.

Lance Foulis 22:37

It's one of those things as a young person that you create, and you think it's so dope when you're creating it. And then at some point, you realize not that's no good.

Alex Markley 22:46

Well, it was there, there was that, but I've also really, I used to have, you know, when I was very young, I had, like, crippling perfectionist tendencies. And so it was very therapeutic for me to just be able to, like complete things. Yes. And so being able to complete a novel with, you know, 50 60,000 words. And it was, it was it was transformative for my creative journey. Even though I knew at the time that it wasn't like going to be a magnum opus or anything. It's just a thing that I completed. Yeah. And so I think, you know, for me, that's, that's one of the things that, you know, as I as I walk forward in my journey, and like, want to share those learnings with other people, especially like younger creatives, that's one of my go to things is like, you know, how do you do XYZ? And the answer is just, like, start just like start anything, you know?

Lance Foulis 23:47

Well, I mean, honestly, that was the advice you gave me. One before I even did the podcast. Yeah. That's come up before in conversations on how this podcast got started. As you and Hannah came over, we were talking about different creative things. And I had mentioned because I think at the time, really all I had was the name Leo swats roundtable. And then you said something to the effect of in talking about your journey, the most important thing was just to start getting stuff out there. Absolutely not worry about it being perfect. Oh, yeah. Which is, which is huge. And so in my mind, as soon as we had that conversation, I was like, oh, yeah, I don't have to figure out everything about it. I just if I want to do a podcast, all I need to do is just get the equipment. I even pointed me in the direction of equipment. So I got my two little condenser mics, and I started inviting people and then that is literally how it got started. And here we are today. Yeah. Which is so

Unknown Speaker 24:36

great, because I think before that he was a little bit like, Alright, maybe someday, but you lit this fire under us that was like, Oh, we just couldn't do it.

Alex Markley 24:46

Yeah, I think that's so awesome. And I love I love that that's, you know, I love that that's the trajectory that you that you took and that it's been so successful, you know, because obviously here you are in your second season and then

Lance Foulis 25:01

second season with new equipment, which again, you helped out with the new equipment indirectly. Because we were over at your house talking, I was like, I remember what I said to you, but you were because I was like, I kind of want to upgrade. I don't really know what to do. And I don't know anything about sound equipment. But you know, you know, all sorts of technology because all this self teaching that you've done, school of hard knocks, school of hard knocks,

Alex Markley 25:24

I've blown up so many transformers, little. Although a little solid state electronics, we call it letting the magic smoke out.

Lance Foulis 25:33

Yes. Yes, you do. Yeah. So but I mean, just to kind of finish that loop like you, you gave me a couple XLR cables, you gave me a mixer. And you were just like, tried to do this, this and this. And then I couldn't get it to work for whatever reason, on the on the on the iMac, I couldn't get it to work. But that started my research process like nice, that basically gave me the nudge. Because half the time if you don't know how, if you don't know anything about technology, really, you just need somebody to point you and get you in a good starting position. Because otherwise, you are just stuck spinning your wheels, and you never get anywhere. So then what happened. After I started doing all this research, I found out that two of my good friends are going to start their own podcast nice. And I will tell him about my journey, which again, that indirectly comes from you. So he goes and one of my friends, he goes and he tells me about this device, the road caster. And then I for some reason, none of my group, Google searchers, Google searches brought me across this device. But as soon as he told me about it, I went, I was like, that literally does everything that I wanted to do. And it's ease of use where I don't have to do duct taping anything nice. So they're they're actually recording their first episodes with basically the exact same equipment, they have nicer boom arms. But it's just, that's crazy that they got started. And they're actually we're our first two, our first two episodes of the season are those guys. So that's awesome. That's it's kind of crazy, because I mean, that's one of the things that we talked about initially is just like, encouraging creatives to get out there. And that's actually been like kind of a main theme of this season is, is just talking about the creative process in that there isn't a ton of incentive just out there directly for somebody who's creative. And really, if you want to start producing something, as a creative, it does really come down to your own motivations. So I think that would be a good thing for you to maybe talk to people about is just as a creative, you have an idea whether it's writing a novel, whether it's learning technology, whether it's learning how to paint, learning how to draw whatever that creative thing could be pottery, how do you generally encourage people just stop sitting in thinking? Because you can actually start moving? Maybe go into that whatever sparks your mind

Alex Markley 27:43

there? Yeah, yeah. Well, I think that from for me, I have kind of two two answers to that, you know, in, in my way of thinking, when I have a, when I have a creative idea that I want to pursue, part of my thinking process is just really realizing that if I don't do the work, and make it, then it will never exist. And, you know, I think that there are people out there for whom their primary motivation is mass market success. And if that's what you want, then that motivation isn't going to be very compelling, because basically, mass market success means that you're making the same thing that everyone else is making. It's good point. But and I'm not saying that you have to, like, sit on your hands until you come up with some like, crazy, unique idea. But, you know, I believe that God made us unique, that he made us to image himself in a way that includes reflecting his creativity into creation. And so if you have an idea, and you are unique, then you will be, you know, producing something that's unique in the world. And so if you don't do the work, then it's not gonna exist. Yeah. Right. And that'll be one less expression of creativity, you know, that you leave behind when you when you go so that's part of it is just really recognizing that you know, I have ideas that I want to see realized, you know, honestly, just for the pure creative satisfaction of it, but then in addition to that, I think you really do have to be a little bit crazy in that you really love the process, right? You just really love rolling up your sleeves and, and putting your hands into the clay, you know, using some kind of tortured metaphor there but really getting your hands dirty with the creative work. Yeah, because if you You don't, then you'll get, you'll get discouraged right away. Because it is it is a lot of work to actually, you know, put something out there. And I guess the only other thing that comes to mind on that is to like, if you have your idea for something unique that you want to put out into the world is this huge magnum opus, you got to carve it up into smaller pieces. And, or just work up to it, you know, you you're not going to tackle everything all at once, because you need to have something that you can show for your efforts on a regular basis. Otherwise, again, like no amount of really enjoying the technology or really enjoying the brushwork or really enjoying, like, whatever it is that you've set your hands to, is going to carry you through a really long season of not having anything to show for your effort.

Lance Foulis 30:51

That's a really, that's a really good point, it is having something starting small, I mean, like I even think about, you know, gardening, that's like another side hobby that we've kind of taken up here and there. But when we started, we started with a very easy plant that doesn't die easy. It grows easy without having a touch at garlic. And so there was something about putting in the ground that was really fun, but then seeing it come up and then come to full. I don't know what you call that full fruit or whatever, grow, grow the whole way. And then pulling it out of the ground and physically seeing that done. The level of motivation that that brings to dig in and learn Oh, yeah, was huge. So I think that that's a that's a really, really good point.

Alex Markley 31:37

Yeah, success is contagious. Right. It breeds, you know, success breeds success within ourselves, but it also it also has a community effect. Mm hmm. You know, and I see this all the time with my customers. I see it all the time with you know, people that I that I know like when people are excited about something that they've done. It's it's contagious.

Lance Foulis 31:59

Yes, it does. Absolutely spread so let's get into a little bit more specifically. Markley Brothers Entertainment. Yes. Stuff that you like, where are you at now? Where can people find you? Let's just start getting into that. Go

Alex Markley 32:12

go for the full plug. Here. Plug in that just plug Markley bros entertainment. Yeah, so I guess, you know, I used to say that we were a YouTube channel. And I say, you know, I say that. Just to clarify, you know, I'm, I'm looking for more than a YouTube channel now, where we are a group of independent filmmakers here in Columbus, Ohio. Yep. And we make, we make funny videos, and we make entertainment, to post online for people to enjoy, and to build community around. So, you know, I believe that when people are laughing, that it's disarming, yes. And that it gives you an opportunity to connect beyond a surface level. So So we've had, we've had a lot of success with that. I'm not going to say that it's, you know, blowing up or anything like that. But I think we're, I think we're moving in the right direction with with what we're doing.

Lance Foulis 33:20

Yeah, absolutely. So people can find you by on YouTube just searching Merkley Brothers Entertainment.

Alex Markley 33:26

Yep. So we actually, we do have our own website. And so you can kind of start at the website level. Okay. And that is MB Which, you know, you might imagine starts the stands for Marclay bros, entertainment, aha, television.

Lance Foulis 33:44

We'll have the link for that in the description, so you can find it. But that was pretty easy to remember, I would say,

Alex Markley 33:49

awesome. You'd be shocked how few people get in on the first. And I think it's just another of my long history of coming up with really bad domain names that are just impossible for people. But, you know, we were also on the various social media platforms and you can usually order usually around

Lance Foulis 34:09

yeah, we we follow you guys on, on Instagram, on on both the roundtable, Instagram in my personal Instagram. And like, the, the videos are funny. I mean, that's one thing to like, I think point out is like, go to YouTube, subscribe to it, obviously. And look at I mean, lots of the videos aren't even, like super long. But they're funny. So they're like, Thank you there. It's like, sit down, watch it, enjoy it. And I mean, how much how much content would you even say is on your YouTube channel at this point? Because you've been doing this for how many years?

Alex Markley 34:38

Yeah. So we've had more than one go at it. Right. You know, and and there's a whole I think entrepreneurial conversation to around basically like, how to how to, like fail at business one on one, you know, yes. Whenever you're ready for that one. We can have that conversation. Yes. But you know, So I've been carrying forward a lot of content from multiple generations of you know, pre Mark liberals entertainment, including our podcast, which was really the the original Malik's minute show. We have over 200 episodes of that. We have a sketch comedy show called bucking sailboat.

Lance Foulis 35:25

Okay, carrying forward Malik's minute. Sorry for the cut there, guys. We had a technical issue. It happens. Does it

Alex Markley 35:31

happens so often? Yeah, so carrying forward content on on the site. So right now we have the classic Malik's minute podcast, which was over 200 episodes of, you know, silly voices and comedy situations and crazy adventures and just all kinds of fun stuff. Bucking sailboat, which is a sketch comedy that we that we did for really, for me to try to figure out how to do video because video is really hard. And yes, if for a long time, yes. And and then, you know, we started doing we actually launched a couple of shows, very recently, we launched the we launched a surreal news satire comedy show called Ohio Ville nine nightly news, which is, which I do I do plan on doing more of, but it's it's very, it's very sporadic right now.

Lance Foulis 36:37

Sure. And that was actually one of my favorites. Oh, I really liked the new stuff. I don't know if it reminds me of SNL or something. But there's just something about that. That was really funny.

Alex Markley 36:46

It's it kind of, I mean, what I was hoping to hear is that it reminds you of a nightmare, because that's really you wake up in the twilight zone. And so so then danger couch, which is a completely unscripted, it's our only unscripted show. Yep. And it's it's really just intended to be a way to have fun on camera and connect with folks on a weekly basis. So we're, we have not missed a week. We're actually coming up on our one year anniversary. We have a Wow, very special episode planned for that. One. lations. Wow,

Lance Foulis 37:24

you have a date?

Alex Markley 37:25

December 13,

Lance Foulis 37:26

December 13. So you'll have something that'll be released on December 13.

Alex Markley 37:29

That is, that is the plan, the plan. That is the plan that hopefully should be awarded. Correct? Yeah. Yes.

Lance Foulis 37:36

Okay. That's and that one's a fun one. Because you have lots of different guests.

Alex Markley 37:39

Yeah, that's rotating really members. Yeah, it's a really easy way to just bring bring people in and, you know, I kind of envision it as as being very crowd participatory, both in terms of you know, suggestions and, and just shout outs, but also bringing people on if they're willing to travel, we will put them up on the danger couch, yes. To accept the danger. Yes, the danger is if you are willing to if you are willing to embrace the danger. That's amazing.

Lance Foulis 38:11

So tell us a little bit about the operation who's involved in making this content come to life?

Alex Markley 38:18

Yeah, so. So it is very much a family endeavor. We have myself and my wife, we put a ton a ton a ton of hours and effort into it. My sister and her husband, this is Susie Andrew. So you'll see you'll see them on on danger couch all the time. Gave my brother Gabriel is really involved. And of course, his wife supports as well. And, and we were always working on this. I mean, every every few weeks, at a minimum, we get together for filming. We're doing you know, we'll pretty regularly do like writers meetings and so forth. We have a ridiculous elaborate technical setup to allow my my, my sister Suzie to do video editing from her house. And it's like networked to my video editing at my house. So we were able to, you know, collaborate on video editing. And she's, you know, I'm probably putting in about 40 hours a week. She's putting in like, 10 to 20 hours a week. And, and yeah, it's,

Lance Foulis 39:35

I think one of the things that blows my mind about all of that is the fact that you have learned over time, I mean, going from just audio to audio and video to effects in the video, right. So like, for me, the learning curve for this was fairly, it wasn't super steep, but there was a learning curve involved. Sure. And so like, was was Your progression? Did it feel like more natural? Did you? Were you really like, Okay, at this point I want to add video? Or did you? Did you always have like an end goal in mind? Or was it more of a natural organic progression? Adding things in?

Alex Markley 40:14

Yeah, yeah, that's a great question. So to some context like that those visual effects that I just showed you some samples, they were awesome. Thank you, which is gonna be new stuff, right? New stuff. If all goes well coming out later this year, yes. If all goes not well, then hopefully coming out before I die. So, yes, I've I've always had a vision to make sci fi comedy. And I remember, one of my, you know, one of my earliest memories is, is, you know, riding around in the car with my dad. And just thinking about, like, all the Doctor Who that we were watching, because we were watching a lot of Doctor Who I just want you to know.

Lance Foulis 41:06

So let's go to the time frame of Doctor Who because I know sci fi geeks that know a lot more about your doctor who than I do? Yes. So when when it what is the era of Doctor Who we're talking

Alex Markley 41:17

about? We're talking about? We're talking about the Tom Baker years. Okay. Okay, so this was content that was made in the 70s and 80s. Okay, and anything newer than that is trash. And you can find me so, yes, I realize I just insulted so many people. I don't get on a regular equal opportunity. It happens that's fair. It does. Okay, so but you know, I was like five right? And yeah, like thinking about all this all this doctor who we were watching and I remember distinctly like asking him like, Hey, Dad, can I use your camcorder to make a Doctor Who episode and I was like, and he and he was just like, side eyeing me. Yeah. Number one, the camcorders really expensive? And number two, can you? Because I think the answer might be no, yeah. So um, yeah. You know, and my sort of my world was saturated with, you know, British sci fi and Star Trek. And Douglas Adams, you know, I don't know that reference. Douglas Adams. Oh, Hitchhiker's Guide. Got a galaxy. Dirk Gently. Holistic Detective Agency. Okay? The long, long, dark teatime of the soul. Oh, my

Lance Foulis 42:41

gosh, like, I haven't heard of the last thing. She said. I

Alex Markley 42:45

don't think good stuff.

Lance Foulis 42:46

So like, so you're talking about your inspiration at this?

Alex Markley 42:48

Yeah, yeah. Well, in my head, you know, I had very specific ideas of what I what I wanted to make. And, and actually, this is a rabbit trail, which we really can't get go down. But I at one point in my teens, I gathered together a cohort of folks, and we tried to make a 45 minute miniseries that was like full sci fi CGI green screen everything.

Lance Foulis 43:15

Wait, how old? Are you here? 1717. Okay,

Alex Markley 43:19

I spent so much money and, and, and we burned through like three weeks of everyone's time, and then I could not get it done. Wow. This is one of the areas where, you know, you learn when you when you're really like advocating strongly for people to carve out like manageable chunks of something. That that there's there's some scars there. Yes. Like really failing to accomplish something that, you know, so that that advice comes from a place of of like, you know, school of hard knocks man? Yes. So, you know, there's always been that that trajectory, that goal. Yeah. But to go back to your question directly. Like it's never been a natural. It's never been a natural. It's been incremental. Right. And when you're talking about creatively trying to accomplish something, the the jump from nothing to anything is going to be really hard. Yes. Right. Yes. And that's why so many people basically will get old waiting for their moment. Yeah. But you can build on the, on the learnings of earlier success, and incrementally do more. Yes, but every single time it's the same scary jump. Yeah, you know, every single time it's the same scary jump and so that you you have to be prepared. Not only to really roll up your sleeves and do a lot of like really hard work. There's, there's no like, I don't think that there's an increment that feels natural or easy. I've, at least I've never seen it. So. So it's just getting accustomed to and getting used to the idea of like walking up to the edge of a scary cliff and like diving every time.

Lance Foulis 45:21

But in order to figure out what's off and what needs to be corrected, I feel like you have to kind of be ready to stare into a bit of a scary abyss. I love the way that you phrase that, because that's a lot right along the lines with Cheryl soundbite there, which hopefully everybody heard. But yeah, every time that you need to do that incremental increase, it is walking up to the face of a cliff. Yes. Staring over and getting ready to jump. Yeah, I

Alex Markley 45:48

don't care who you are spending like five $6,000 On camera equipment is scary. Yes. Right. Like or whatever it is.

Lance Foulis 45:55

Especially when you have a family. Yeah. Right decision your kids got.

Alex Markley 46:01

I mean, they're not gonna eat the lens. Hopefully. Yeah, so it's, it's tricky. It's tricky.

Lance Foulis 46:10

Yeah. So I mean, one of the one of the things that fascinates me, Well, there's several things that fascinate me about what you've got going on. But the fact like so is this the person that commitment for us to do this is really just Kim and I, and then the kids. They're downstairs, but they're happy. They're just watching a show for an hour while we can max watching a show, so we can set them up. None of our kids nap anymore. We started last year anymore wrapped as possible. And like all of our kids just decide to stop napping. I felt like kind of early. But anyway, that's that's another bunny trail. We don't need to go down. We're not sad about it. No, I'm not. I think it's kind of a pain, like if they nap because then you have to like, put them through every day. But now they're more autonomous. Anyway, that's good talk. So what I'm what I was getting at is the thing that fascinates me is that you have these people involved, that are putting in a significant amount of time and effort to help make it happen. So this vision that you have is dependent on these other people. Right. So can you just talk through a little bit about why you have other people involved?

Alex Markley 47:16

Yeah. Well, and to be clear, you know, we are talking about a whole community effort, right, because the grandparents are very involved in helping with the kids. We all have kids. Yes, in this group that that I that I mentioned,

Lance Foulis 47:31

talking about compounding the problems that need to be solved multiple kids, multiple families.

Alex Markley 47:35

Oh, yeah, absolutely. So you know, but I think there was a pastor that I that I knew that I that I served under, at the rock in Cleveland. His name's Mike Hopkins. And I remember being in a really dark place where I felt like I had to give up the Markley bros entertainment vision, Oh, wow. Because I wanted to be a family man. And there was this stark sense in which I felt that if I that I couldn't do both that if I was going to be making these, you know, quote, unquote, like financially risky decisions, or if I was going to be living an entrepreneurial lifestyle, that I couldn't also honor God's vision for husband and father. Mm hmm. And it really was this man, Mike Hopkins. He he's, he was married. He at the time had, I think four or five boys, they ended up with five boys and then adopting a girl as well. Oh, wow. But he was also a he was also involved in CO pastoring the church and owned his own business. And, you know, we do all you know, just all of this stuff, you know, community involvement, like serving Wow. And so now, I think that, you know, some people just don't need to sleep. And so there's, there's, like a thing going on there. But I was, it was transformative for me to realize, like, there's no reason. I think our society has so many buffers built in that people have come to depend on that, that are not intrinsic to the human condition. God did not make us necessarily to get 40 hours in and then you know, be done. Yeah. Right. And so this idea that I could with, with careful planning, and and really Just being willing to kind of spend some of my youth and like burn it to the ground. I could work a 40 hour a week job. Yeah, what do you you know, and I worked for a pretty aggressive employer. So sometimes I have to put in more than that. And, and then put in another 40. For a business that is not earning its keep Yes. And also be a be a husband to my wife and a father to my three boys. It's it's not impossible. Yeah. And are there weeks where I don't, don't like do as well on, you know, one or all of those things. Absolutely. Like, that doesn't work every week. But on balance, God has been very good to us in tha