If ever there was a person who proves that the price of success is hard work, it is none other than globetrotting digital entrepreneur Scott Eddy. Having been a successful Wall Street stockbroker in his early years, Scott’s intuitive business brain and thirst for more led him to an exciting new life of world travel, where social media keeps us up to date with his adventures around the globe – in fact he was one of the forerunners of the social media movement.
An influencer of high order, Scott Eddy is a man in serious demand with his huge global reach and non-stop work ethic he has major businesses and brands banging down his door. Eddy doesn’t own a home, lives out of a suitcase, hasn’t had a day off in eight years… and he couldn’t be happier! The MALESTROM caught up with the inspirational Eddy to talk travel, and find out about life in the digital fast lane.
The MALESTROM: Scott, have you always been a driven person?
Scott Eddy: Actually, I wasn’t! That was never the plan. My father was a policeman and I grew up everyday watching him do interrogations, watching him arrest people, so for me when I left high school, it was a foregone conclusion that I’d be a police officer too. Then, three weeks before I graduated from high school my father was killed in the line of duty in a plane crash, so it altered every plan that I had. My life was turned upside down.
TM: What age were you then?
SE: I’d just turned 18… the crazy thing is it takes a lot out of you when you can never ever have an adult conversation with your Father. So, obviously I didn’t want to be a cop anymore and my cousin who was a stockbroker in New York called me and said, ‘Look, two of my good friends are going to Florida and they’re opening up their own financial firm. I talked to one of them and they want to interview you and see if they’ll accept you.’ I didn’t know anything about finance and selling and this guy took me under his wing and I did it for 10 years.
TM: What was the life of a stockbroker like back then? Was it like Charlie Sheen in Wall Street?
SE: Yeah, yeah, 100%. It’s a lot of rejection, a lot of working until 8 or 10 at night, but in that business if you get success, just 1% of success rate, that 1% means so much money, its ridiculous.
TM: I guess once you drive in the fast lane, you only know how to drive fast?
SE: I couldn’t have put it any better. Suddenly, I was around 25 year olds, watching 20 year olds driving Ferrari’s while making $50K a month. In that business you never make ‘so-so money’, you either make a lot or you’re out of the industry.
TM: After 10 years, where were you financially and as a person?
SE: I was in a very good position financially and being around egos and arseholes for 10 years really teaches you a lot of lessons, because its one thing to say don’t socialise with the bad crowd and don’t have shitty people around you. But when you’ve been on both sides of the fence, then you can really say it from experience and you can really make your own decisions about who you want to be around. But at the end of 1999 they sold the company out of the blue, and I had a friend in Bangkok, Thailand and he said, ‘Come out, you’re not doing anything.’ So I went out there for two weeks and I couldn’t believe how nice everybody was. I loved it so much I never went back and lived out there for 11 years. But the thing that really appealed to me was that I was in a city with thirteen and a half million and everybody’s the warmest person you’ll ever meet. That’s what appealed to me in Bangkok.
TM: What did you do there for a living?
SE: That’s when social media came around and I got active on that very early in about 2002, 2003. I set up a digital agency and it became the biggest digital agency in South East Asia. I soon learnt though that wanting to grow, you had to keep churning out new clients because clients only hire an agency for so long, they do get tired of you and then they pay a retainer and eventually they try to negotiate that down too. In the end it wasn’t worth it to me. I closed the agency after 5 years and the one thing I knew was that getting an audience was getting more and more important everyday, but I was going to still try and provide the same services, building up digital strategies and out source it to the people who have worked for me, and then I thought I’d travel round the world and build up my own audience. And I’ve been doing that for the last seven years.
TM: What were you giving them of interest?
SE: Travel, heavy, heavy travel content. Pretty much every weekend I was in a different country and I love taking photos, so I took photos everywhere I went and started posting it. People started to get very addicted to my content, sharing it with their audiences, their friends, they’re family and it just started to grow and grow.
TM: So, you were one of the early pioneers of using social media as a business tool?
SE: Oh, absolutely. And once I started to build some serious numbers I decided to entertain the first serious offer that came in. In January 2015 I got a Tweet from an entrepreneur in San Francisco saying he was interested in starting a start-up and we should chat on skype. I’m one of the only people I know in social media who replies to literally every single question he gets, as soon as I wake up I’m online replying to everything in real time as much as I can. People are taking time out of their lives to send me a message and I find it respectful to reply to them.
TM: Is that one of the ingredients for success, do you believe?
SE: Absolutely, being courteous, having manners, it’s a lost soul these days. People think that a digital life and real life is different, its not! It’s exactly the same because there’s a human on the other side of every post and people just don’t understand that and if you just disregard it then that’s the same as ignoring someone in real life, and people just don’t understand that. Anyway I spoke to this guy on skype and twelve days later I landed in San Francisco, and now I’m the brand ambassador for this travel start-up, this app. I was in charge of leading his digital strategy, teaching him to build that up and became really ingrained in the digital marketing side of the company. Then, I started getting a lot of emails and tweets from PR agencies, from brands, from everything. Let’s face facts, trends and brands and money nearly always stems from the U.S and that’s where you need to be if you want to be in this world because this is where the money’s at. I then started to go on all these trips when people contacted me saying, ‘Hey, we’d like you to come and have a look at this hotel, would you mind doing a couple of tweets.’ So, in 2015 I did twenty nine trips all over the place, all of them for free, not getting paid and showing people what I could do by promoting their place through my audience and I started to have influence. Then in 2016 I decided it was going to be a very different game, I then did 34 trips and only two of them were free. I then started working for some of the biggest brands in the world.
TM: You’ve certainly achieved a lot. Do you think anyone could be an internet entrepreneur?
SE: Can anybody do it? Absolutely! Do you need to be aggressive because the internet is in everyplace in the world? Well, you need to be very, very specific with what you’re doing and you need to be very, very different to everyone else, because there’s a lot of noise in the digital world now. If I was starting out right now, I definitely wouldn’t target what I’m doing, because everyone in the world wants to do what I’m doing.
TM: What kind of advice would you give anyone wanting to start any kind of internet or social media business?
SE: I speak at a lot of conferences around the world and I get a lot of the same questions which are, ‘I’ve been blogging for three years and I don’t understand why I still only have 300 followers?’ So, my first question is, ‘How many people have you reached out to today, to try and get them as your audience, whether talking to them, engaging with them, maybe you follow them at first and see if they follow you back?’, and when they say, ‘None.’ Then who the fuck knows who you are! But then again who knows who I am? I am just a microcosm in an industry that’s in its infancy stage in the digital world.
TM: You think we’re still in the infancy stage?
SE: Oh absolutely, especially in my industry. It’s very much an infancy stage. I use Twitter as my main platform and I have a big following in the UK. I like platforms where it gives me unlimited potential. I do my research by following good people to see if they follow back. One of my jobs is to put out good enough content so that they engage with me and follow me.
TM: So, the key is good content?
SE: Yes, but every platforms different, every platform has its own kind of personality and requires its own form of tag, like instagram, you should use as many hashtags as you can, on Twitter you shouldn’t, on Facebook you shouldn’t. Another tip is don’t take shortcuts. Shortcuts don’t work in this business. It’s all about sweat equity, how much sweat are you prepared to put in and are you willing to do that every single day. In my job in social media, I haven’t taken a day off in almost eight years, that’s why I grow everyday. But for me it’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle. I wake up at 5am everyday no matter what country I’m in. I’m in New Jersey now, then I am flying to Miami, then I’ll travel to Mexico for two weeks, then I’m back to Miami for one night, then I fly to the Dominican Republic for 10 days, then I travel to London to do a transatlantic cruise from Southampton to New York .
TM: So, in all of these places that you travel to, you’ll photograph them, video them and then put your experiences out there on social media to promote it?
SE: Yes, in Mexico and Dominican Republic its actually hotel resorts I’m working with, actual brands. With the cruise on the Queen Mary 2, I’m actually working with Cunard the cruise liner. So, sometimes it’s a hotel, sometimes it’s a brand, sometimes it’s a destination, sometimes it’s a travel app, and it depends where the focus is, but the destination and the experience is always the highlight. I will also never sign a contract if they dictate what I have to say, if I can’t put it in my own words then I won’t do it. People don’t understand this, they think just because you’re getting paid, its not authentic, bullshit! Because I say yes or no to campaigns and the buck stops with me, and because I’m pushing out the content, I only say yes to the things I enjoy.
TM: The one thing that seems to run parallel with your achievement is that it’s a personal sense of freedom, its living on your own terms as an individual?
SE: Yes, and I’ll take that one step further, I have not had a home by choice since Bangkok. I don’t own a couch, I don’t own a TV, I literally have my suitcase and all my tech stuff and I’m the happiest person in the world
TM: For someone who has not sat still for eight or nine years now, what is next for Scott Eddy?
SE: I don’t know. The thing that is wonderful about the world I’m in is that its evolving, it changes so drastically and it changes so frequently with new platforms coming out, so if you ask me what happens in six months from now, I have no idea. Could a book deal or a TV work change my line of work, could another platform take me in another direction, could I go to another country for six months and do something interesting, I’m open to anything and I can make a decision in five minutes and I always go with my gut.
TM: That’s quite a unique lifestyle?
SE: There’s two things that drive me everyday, one thing is my father who was killed in a plane crash. So, when something like that happens you have two choices: you can stick your head in the sand and say I don’t want to fly ever, or you can embrace it and fly as much as you can and say listen, ‘I’m doing this for you Dad.’ Which is what I do and is one of the reasons I love what I do. And another thing that I realise, the worst thing in my life has already happened.
TM: What would you say to anyone who wants to live a life like yours, getting to travel and governing their own sense of destiny and freedom?
SE: There’s a lot of talk out there, but at the end of the day you have to actually pull the trigger. 90% of people in the world are scared, they’re scared by the security of what they have and losing it. You’ve got to be prepared for the worst case scenario and if you’re prepared for that, everything else is gravy.