Who Is Travis Chambers
What does a nice 15-mile walk teach you about life? For Travis Chambers, it is what real living feels like. Travis has had an incredible imagination and has loved making things go viral through social media marketing. This eventually led to him founding Chamber Media, where their ads have helped many businesses thrive! And his company has also helped me stay employed as an actor, which has been incredibly amazing. But Travis has faced lemon after lemon in his career. He is looking for ways to simplify his life. To find more joy. For him, that means focusing on today more than ever. It means taking time to have real experiences with his family, just hanging out. We had a great insightful convo today. Enjoy!
Who is Travis Chambers
As the Founder and Chief Media Hacker at Chamber Media, Travis Chambers is leading an agency that creates scalable social video ads. These videos are driving huge revenues and are becoming more and more popular as time goes on! Travis is responsible for leading the distribution and content strategies for the “#1 Ad of the Decade,” hosted by YouTube — Kobe vs Messi. This video has 140 million views, so it’s safe to say that Travis Chambers knows what he is doing!
Travis Chambers has taken more than 100 vacations around the world, bringing his wife and children along for the ride, and he insists that his employees do the same. Growing up in Hockinson, Washington, in a rural town without a stoplight, Travis developed a huge imagination. That meant he and a neighbor would take cameras out with them to film funny skits. His passion for video media started early, and as he broke nine bones as a kid, he spent a lot of time learning to play the guitar and writing songs, which led to rock band performances over the years.
Travis has worked with some of the biggest brands around the world, including leaders like Old Navy, Kraft and Coca-Cola. He’s been featured in Forbes, HuffPost, AdWeek, and more, and Travis regularly stands as a speaker for huge conferences like INBOUND and VidCon.
Travis founded Chamber Media after he studied a bachelor of arts at Utah State University. Chamber Media was founded in 2014, and he was elected as part of the “Forbes 30 under 30” not long after that. Travis Chambers has always believed that relating to his audience is the key to creating the best possible advertising campaigns, and he endeavors to do that with his team. His time running Chamber Media has been busy, especially as the company has crafted over 3,000 productions a month and $600M in tracked revenue. That’s a massive scaling of direct-to-consumer companies, and he has steered his company toward tripling the revenue of five multi-million dollar brands out there!
Before running Chamber Media, Travis was hustling — so you know he’s no stranger to it now. He knew that he had to prove his value and worth and he was therefore a workhorse doing beyond his own expectations. He worked at 20th Century Fox doing 70 hours a week throughout the week, and he knew that this wasn’t what he wanted for his own staff. After becoming a father, Travis knew that this had to change, and so he adjusted his working week to fit his life to his family — and not the other way around. Instead of continuing this backbreaking burnout, Travis wanted something different. He wanted to do good work and greater things, and he didn’t want to be miserable at the same time. So, he decided to create that workplace himself, and that’s how Chamber Media was born.
Travis Chambers Podcast Transcription
Charan: What’s going on guys? This is Charan Prabhakar with the Lemonade Stands Stories podcast, and I’m here with a dear buddy of mine, who we’ve discussed has been the reason for my employment as an actor. Travis Chambers is sitting across from me. And he’s currently in Idaho, I believe right now.
Charan: And so, we weren’t able to actually meet in person. But Travis Chambers is the creator, the founder of Chamber Media, and they have produced tons and tons of ads for tons and tons of different companies. They’ve been able to help companies explode and go big, go off and off the maps. And it’s been so fun. When I came back to Utah as an actor, I remember meeting Travis. Dude, this was actually 2016, because we did the Gametime app ad, right?
Travis: Oh, yeah. Man, that’s crazy.
Charan: It is crazy. That was when we first met, I feel. And we’ve kept in tabs with each other. But seriously, the last couple years, I feel like Chamber Media hires me all the time for different gigs. And it’s funny, because when… I’m like, “Yeah, I’m buddies with Travis.” They’re like, “Wait, what? You’re buddies with Travis?” It’s like you’re a legend among your company. It’s amazing.
Travis Chambers’s Lemonade Stand Story
Charan: And the thing is, it’s like the first thing I actually even saw of you was this rad, hilarious YouTube video where you’re asking your wife a question about how far you go if you go 80 miles an hour or something like that. Let’s just start from the beginning. This is the Lemonade Stand Stories podcast. I’d love to hear your Lemonade Stand Story, like if you always got into business as a kid, or how you got into marketing, and all that fun stuff.
Travis: Just an early childhood memory where I made this paper airplane, and I put my name on it. And I was like, “I could probably make a store for selling these.” And I get ambitious out of nowhere. And I started looking for scraps to make a store. And then, my brother was like, “Dude, no one’s going to buy that. Idiot.” And so then that was the first spark.
Travis: And then I saw Pokémon cards was the big thing. So, I got all into that, buying. I never really learned how to play. I just wanted to sell Pokémon cards. And, dude, if I could go back and talk to my younger self, I’d say, “Don’t sell Pokémon cards. Play, play with the kids. Play Pokémon, and you don’t need to profit off of this. Just enjoy it.”
Travis: So, yeah, that was the thing. And I remember I was 11, and I saw a commercial come out before a movie, and I thought, “I want to make commercials for movies” for some reason. And I think at 11, I’d already given up on any actual film dreams, probably. I had such a pragmatic set of parents telling me things. So, I thought, “Advertising. That’s like the next best thing, but I should probably still have a family and pay the bills if I do advertising.”
Travis: And so, that was kind of the, I guess, that was the first, the real first lemonade stand, that made money was only on MMA fights. So, that’s how I got into college. I thought, I’m just going to climb the corporate ladder like my dad did. If I can make $100 grand by 30 with a good job and so be a good stable father, then that’s good. That’s my goal in life. And I got nipped by the entrepreneur bug. I just saw this movie, Warrior. It was one of the-
Charan: Oh, yeah, I love that movie.
Travis: It was this MMA movie.
Charan: Yeah. Yes.
Travis: And I got so passionate about it that I went and signed up for jiu-jitsu class.
Travis: And then six months later, I thought, “I should start my own fight.” And so, I did. I started my own fight. And we had the Utah Boxing Commission, and EMTs, and ambulances, and health insurance, and the whole nine yards. And our venue changed two weeks beforehand. And I was hacking Facebook. I was flyering cars in the parking lot of football stadium, being chased by cops, and putting lawn signs everywhere, and passing out flyers. And our first fight, 1500 people showed up-
Charan: No way.
Travis: … in Logan, Utah, which has 100,000 people in it. But our venue canceled two weeks before, so we had to move to this wedding, weird wedding venue place that only seats 600 people. So, I lost money on the first fight. And that was excruciating. That was my first sting of entrepreneurship, of having this big dream and doing all this work and having, and just lose money.
Travis: But then, the next one, we got the ice hockey arena, and 2000 people showed up. And then, I was the doing house parties at our fraternity house, and that was fun. That made some money too, selling tickets into that. So, that was good. That was the lemonade stand. That was the first. That was the first lemonade stand.
Charan: Dude, well, it’s amazing, because I think I feel like, even as you’re getting into the entrepreneur bug, you just loved selling things and promoting things and making things go big. That was a good desire of yours. It wasn’t, I don’t know, like everyone’s got a different style of lemonade stand.
Charan: And I love, that was what was inspiring you and making you come alive and bring that advertising bug. When YouTube came out, how did you find the vision of that, and find the vision of doing things on YouTube to growing businesses and stuff like that?
Travis: I became this huge fan of DevinSuperTramp, because I was on a LDS mission and his brother was my companion. And then, another one of my companions was in the Nitro Circus family, the Godfrey clans.
Travis: And they were also doing a lot of cool stuff on YouTube. So, I come back, and this guy tells me in the Czech Republic about his brother making YouTube videos. So, I came back, and I just fell in love with it. And then, a lot of people started getting big. I remember that DW started having some huge success, and watching Christian [inaudible 00:07:56]. And then, Lindsey Stirling blew up. And then, I just got immersed in that scene.
Travis: Even though I wasn’t going to be. I was going to need to stay. I still immersed myself into that scene. And I was a PR major. So, I was just fascinated by this whole thing. And I just realized journalism was dead and that this new thing was the future. And my wife and I did this… she’s always done this dumb blonde thing, and she does it all the time as like goofing around and stuff. She’s always done it with her brothers. She’s got a bunch of older brothers.
Travis: And it just always gets a laugh out of people, and she just does it. And so, we did that. And she put it on YouTube to show her… she didn’t have a smartphone. And it just went super viral. Good Morning America and Tosh.0. And people thought it was real, and they got really upset about… a lot of people get upset about it.
Charan: Oh, my gosh, really?
Travis: Yeah. And so, I ended up just trying to take responsibility for it. And Good Morning America did this national apology for it.
Charan: Oh, my gosh.
Travis: And then, that just made it even bigger. So, I was like, “Oh, my gosh.” This is real. This guy really just made his wife look dumb to the rest of the world on YouTube, and then you’re on Tosh.0. And then, Kraft Mac & Cheese reached out. And it was from Crispin Porter Bogusky, which was my dream agency. And I said, “Hey, I’ll license it for free. Can I get a job interview?” And then, I got hired, and I was the in-house viral video resident.
Travis: And then, a year later, [inaudible 00:09:41] Airlines walks in and says, “We’re going to make the most viral ad of all time.” They’re like, “Well, we got this guy, this viral video guy. We don’t really know why he’s here, but go for it.” And then, that project was the most viral ad of all time. And so, anyways, it all started with this Utah YouTuber. DevinSuperTramp had a meetup where he had a bunch of people meet up. There was like 150 people.
Charan: Wait a minute.
Travis: In that room was-
Charan: Wait, what year was this? I think I was there.
Travis: Were you there? You probably were there.
Charan: You know what? [crosstalk 00:10:17].
Charan: I didn’t go to that first one. I went another one. I did go to one of them.
Travis: Or maybe it was 2012, maybe. But yeah-
Charan: [crosstalk 00:10:26] somewhere. Yeah.
Travis: Yeah. Ricky Ray Butler was there.
Travis: Harmon Brothers were there.
Charan: Was Scott Jarvie there?
Travis: What’s his name? Scott Jarvie was there.
Charan: Yeah, I was there.
Travis: So was… who’s the guy that does the positive pranks?
Charan: Oh, Stuart Edge.
Travis: Stuart Edge was there. I think Lindsey… maybe not, she was already too big at that point. Maybe. But, yeah, there was tons of people there at that. I think Grant Thompson was there. And he’s passed away now. But he was there. And all these people built their careers off of that kind of group. That’s pretty cool.
Charan: Yeah, that’s awesome. Yeah, I think I was there. It was interesting because everyone can took their own version of that path. That’s what I love about it was, it was this awesome think tank. And Devin inspired a lot of people to do all kinds of really cool, fun, interesting things. The Harmon Brothers created Angel Studios now, right? And, I don’t know, it was really great. Because I remember when I first met you, this must have been 2016 because I think that’s when we did Gametime with A. Todd, and you were just getting Chamber Media started.
Travis: [crosstalk 00:11:53] really two people at that time, two or three.
Charan: Yeah, yeah. And it was just like you were cranking out and creating some fun stuff. And then, now, it’s like, it’s just like this massive empire, like you guys are just crushing it and helping a lot of videos go viral, and building all these different ads for all these different companies, and yada, yada, yada. So, how did that whole process come about? When did you decide, “Hey, I love all these experiences that I’ve had. I want to create my own thing, and now, I want to see where that goes”?
Travis: I’ve never really been great at one thing other than just being super excited about things and being the cheerleader, that kind of gets the party together. And I really enjoyed just like putting all the pieces together for the MMA fight and seeing everyone enjoy it.
Travis: And then, putting together house parties. And I just always enjoyed those kinds of things. I really enjoyed even in high school. I just love getting people together. And that’s just the thing I enjoy. And so, it’s hard to make that into a business. And so, I just really enjoyed this whole video space.
Travis: And so, I thought, “Hey, if I can just put all these ingredients together and then I can go sell the product, then it can be a super fun time.” Everybody can have fun time. And so, that’s what we did. And that’s hard to do. It’s hard to find people that will pay for that. But we did great. I think it was a second year, we were doing over a million.
Travis: And that was great when… obviously, the profit margin on that is way small, smaller, smaller than that number. But just building that reputation over time painstakingly and not taking any shortcuts and just continually tweaking and getting better. And it finally just, everything just started to kind of add up. In this last year, it just went kaboom.
Charan: Well, it’s so interesting, because I’ve worked on commercials that are produced by similar agencies, like Creatively and Harmon Brothers and stuff like that, right? And it’s interesting, because your guys’ approaches, I feel like very different, and you’re cranking out tons and tons of videos every single week, like you have all these multiple pods, creating all these different videos.
Charan: And it’s amazing, because these videos are really fun. They’re quick. How did you figure out your own model within that space? Because I feel like it is different than the other agencies out there.
Travis: Well, a couple years ago, we noticed that the algorithms were changing a lot and that these bigger brand campaigns were having a higher fail rate. And it was really painful to spend a lot of money and to have something that scale. And I just, I couldn’t accept that. I couldn’t accept the fail rate. And in at some point, you can only shoot so many variations, and you only test creative so many different ways.
Travis: Well, we’ve got this really great team. We’ve got this great leadership, where in Utah, we can shoot stuff cheaper than anyone else. So, like, “Let’s focus on volume and speed instead.” Because maybe better than one giant video is two half-size video, and maybe better than one half-size video is seven small videos. And Facebook ads started getting shorter and shorter, and granted, the bigger longer videos still work, but they don’t always work.
Travis: And it’s really hard to spend a ton of money on something that doesn’t work. And so, we thought,” Well, why don’t we just cover the whole spectrum of this thing.” And at the same time, I was getting really exhausted from pitching all these brands all the time and taking all these calls, going to conferences and speaking, trying to get press features, trying to hit the pavement, or write viral LinkedIn posts. It was just exhausting.
Travis: And so, I was like, “Well, what if we can sell something that is actually what people really need,” which is a lot of content all year round, and it’s just all sorts of different messages, different, just completely different concepts. And so, we just built, we just… oops, sorry. So, we just built this model, we built this model almost of like CreativeScale. And we evolved almost more to like a BuzzFeed or a POPSUGAR, where we can just crank out different stuff and then find out what works. And then, we can double down on that.
Travis: And it was cool, too, because it allowed us to scale, because now we have something that any brand, any company doing over like half a million a year could afford. And so, I just hated getting off on these calls and over and over and over, then just be like,” Well, we can’t afford that. We can’t afford that now.” We got to be able to give something to these people. So, that’s how I evolved.
Charan: So, do they become more like a subscription model? The clients are paying you and then you guys keep cranking videos and stuff like that.
Travis: Kind of. Yeah, kind of yeah. There’s a lot to it. It’s like this iterative model to where we built this. We built this database of every ad we’ve ever made and how it performed.
Charan: Oh, wow.
Travis: And we started looking at, well, what kind of types of ads perform, because we are doing these big spokesperson videos, but we see these other brands that aren’t doing that at all, and they’re doing millions a month. We looked in the mirror, took an honest look in the mirror and thought, “Are we just doing this to… because we can charge a lot of money for it?”
Travis: Especially when this, the fail rate is high on the stuff no matter how many variations or things we test. And so, that’s when we started pivoting, and we started trying to figure out how we could make a lot of concepts with a lot of speed and a lot of volume. And we took every ad that we’d ever ran, of all of its different lengths and types, and we put it into a database.
Travis: And we hired machine learning engineers to analyze and mine all that data. And we were able to find patterns and the seven foundational ads, the seven categories of ads that get the most performance. And I can’t know if I can remember, but it was testimonials, social proof… sorry, social proof, case studies, spokesperson, product demo, lifestyle, closer ads, and, shoot, there’s one other one.
Travis: But anyways, we found these categories. And we started taking that approach to getting the whole funnel of content and trying to feed Facebook the kind of content that it wanted. And that’s been a big part of the reason for our success. We’re now bigger than… we used to be the Harmons’ little brother and now we’re… we’re obviously in different, doing different stuff now. But it’s really helped us to grow and to get to a good, a great place.
Charan: Well, dude, it’s so interesting, because I was mentioning earlier, a lot of my acting are on your ads. And so, when I get a chance to work with whichever director is directing me, it’s that same idea, right, like the product demo, the testimonials, all the different categories that you have, like the lifestyle. And it’s so interesting because to me, it’s like, “Wow,” that this is a well-thought-out campaign that’s come from years and years of research of what works and what doesn’t.
Charan: It’s funny, too, because I literally had a conversation with my buddy today who’s trying to do some ads. And he was saying the same things like, “Look, I don’t know if I want to spend a ton of money and not know if I’m going to get an ROI. I wanted some testing first. “And I’m like, “That makes sense. That makes complete sense.” So, yeah, I think I love the fact that you guys are kind of like figured it out and are continuing to go forward on it. So, yeah. Speaking of pivot, I want to kind of pivot a little bit with our conversation right now.
Travis Chambers Talks About Turning Lemons into Lemonade
Charan: So, every business and every entrepreneur, every person, are faced with moments that are like,” Oh, my gosh, I was dealt severe lemons, just barely. This was a huge blow. And I need to figure out a way to change this into a lemonade or I’m going to die.” Was ever a moment in your career or in your personal life or something where you’re like, “Oh, my gosh, that was a big lemon, and how can I pivot from that?”
Travis: To those lemon after lemon, after lemon, it was like, clients not paying us. We had one client that canceled the project the day before the shoot because their investors didn’t know about it. That was ROHN. And ROHN actually almost took us out. We almost went under. And then, they demanded a complete refund. And we’d already paid. We’ve already spent like $40 grand on pre-production.
Travis: NordicTrack paid a couple months late on the big treadmill dance video we did. We did one campaign for this, crowdfunding campaign, for a phone called Saygus. The founder is actually going to jail now. But we raised $1.3 million, and then they never paid us or delivered phones. So, I just like, it just felt like there was a few times there where we were doing great work, and we just were, we were just getting manhandled. And it was not fun.
Travis: Those were some really sad, sad moments that were hard. And we just had to just bear down and just be tough and just keep grinding. And that happened all a lot. And obviously, we changed our payment terms. We did some things to help with that. But there has been so many of those lemon and in setback-type things.
Travis: A couple of years ago, we’d overgrown a little bit. We were a little bit too many people for the business we’re bringing in. And I couldn’t bring in business fast enough, just by myself. And that’s when I had this moment where I just said, “I’m just giving up. I just got to figure out how to automate this thing. I’m exhausted. I’m worn out. Let’s figure out how to sell something cheaper that we can sell to more people so that we can start running ads and so that I don’t have to keep chasing all this business down.”
Travis: And of course, it worked. It worked. And it was extremely difficult. It took eight months to get that offering dialed. And I think the first four or five clients did not have a great experience with that program. And it was really hard. But that was it, man. It was like part of it was just giving up was really important.
Charan: It’s interesting to me, dude, how you guys are able to keep crunching and going, because I’m hearing all the time algorithms are changing, rules of the game are changing. And it seems like the rules of the game are changing all the time, but yet businesses still need marketing to get their sales out. They need your component. They need what you are offering, right? But when things are changing, like a buddy of mine was just telling me today that people can, I don’t know how to describe it, but he says something about tracking and you can make it so you can even… you don’t have to see the ads at all.
Charan: So then, he’s like, many of the people that he thought were viewing the ads aren’t able to view the ads anymore, or choosing not to see the ads. So now, so much of their business is not even coming through, right? So, I’m amazed that in this type of landscape where there’s just so many ups and downs, ups and downs, like you were able to maintain your sanity, and keep moving forward. So, what was that trick? What was it-
Travis: I feel like you can relate too, right?
Charan: Yeah. Oh, yeah.
Travis: It’s probably a similar trajectory as an acting career. It’s… right? You get Silicon Valley. You’re like… right? You get these huge roles, right? But then there’s just like these ups and-
Charan: Dude, it was crazy.
Travis: “Am I just going to get-“
Travis: “When am I going to get a TV show, main part that is nine series long? And I can just show up 9 to 5, show up 9 to 5 to Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and then go home.” You know what I mean?
Charan: Yeah. Travis, I think-
Travis: When is that… and I saw it, man.
Charan: I think you need to create the series, and I’ll act in it. That’s what I think. And you guys can look at [crosstalk 00:26:14].
Travis: All right.
Charan: No, dude-
Charan: It’s the truth, though. It is the truth, like what you’re saying is like, it’s tricky, right? Because Silicon Valley, I literally thought I made it. Because the writers like after the second season were like, “Dude, we love your character. We love what you did with it. “And he’s like, “Trust me,” like there’s going to be a lot more of you. That’s what the writer told me. I never heard back. I never heard back. So, it was a pretty brutal thing to face that harsh truth, so. But yeah, I’m-
Travis: Yeah, it’s funny, man. Because, well, I wanted to be a musician, and I just had a lot of people in my ear saying, “Don’t do that. Don’t do that. Don’t do that.” Right? And because I think entrepreneurship is probably an equal amount of risk. And I think it’s probably equal amount of risk to being an actor. I look back at how many setbacks and how many challenges there were, and I just get exhausted thinking about it. And even now, it’s still exhausting. It’s still exhausting to discuss. It’s just like, “You’re only as good as yesterday.” You know what I mean?
Travis: So, I just think it’s just, it’s the burden of anyone that’s going to do something that is truly standing on their own. It’s going to deal with that burden. But then, if you don’t, you also will live to regret what’s worse, deal with the uncertainty and the risk and the unknown, and people thinking you’re maybe kind of crazy or you believe in yourself too much or something. But what’s better, what’s worst that or just being full of regret? You know what I mean?
Charan: Yeah. It’s interesting you bring that up, because I remember in 2004, I was having a really tough, just a tough couple of weeks or something. And I remember looking back at my life and thinking, “Okay, if I regret anything, what would it be?” And I knew instantly, if I get old and I never gave acting a shot, I would regret it. I would regret it.
Charan: And then I thought, “Well, why haven’t I given it a shot? Why haven’t I gone for it?” And the very next thought was, like, oh, I was afraid. I was afraid I was going to fail. And I’m, like, holy crap, like if I allow myself to live in fear and to not actually give it a shot, then, well, who knows? Right?
Charan: And, of course, it’s been up and down. Of course, it’s been like, it’s like, feast or famine for sure. But at the same time, I definitely am so grateful I went for it. I am. I’ve had some amazing opportunities, and it’s been super fun. And I’m so grateful, and I’m still going for it. I’m still doing it.
Travis: I think if I was talking my younger self in… or maybe like other people, it’s like, there’s really two lanes. One lane is that you can accept and embrace that you may never be super rich but that you can really do something that you enjoy. And if you don’t have expensive tastes and you can live a really responsible, efficient lifestyle, then you really are free. You’re free. You’re free of most things. If you keep your life small and keep your dreams big, and you do what you want to do, then that’s huge.
Travis: But then, on the other kind of token, it’s like, well, if you’re going to go big, then go really big. And if you want to be rich, and you want to have this lifestyle, and you want to do all these crazy, cool things, well, then you have got to lay it on the line and just be willing to deal with that fire. But the problem is when that person does the middle ground, and they just get a safe job. And they’re just like, I don’t know, processing something, processing some documents. Or, it’s just like-
Charan: It’s true.
Travis: It’s not really a career. And then, I don’t know. And that’s the saddest part to me. Because a lot of us people end up working 50 hours a week. And they’re just kind of a human resource that’s just getting milked as much as possible. You don’t have any upside, but you also aren’t living small enough to feel free, either.
Travis: And that’s the worst place to be. It’s better to be broke and live in a van. It’s way better. It’s way better to be broke and to live in a van, in my opinion, and live on 1000 bucks a month. But then, you’re completely free. Do whatever you want. Go wherever you want. Now, it gets harder if you have a family to do that.
Charan: Yeah, yeah. No, it’s very interesting, dude. I like that idea. I like the idea of freedom. And I think people really want to taste that, that sense of freedom to do whatever you want and being able to live like that. And it is interesting that people get, sometimes they get stuck in jobs, that they never really, or maybe they did it because it’s like, “Well, we have to make ends meet to take care of the family and stuff.” And hopefully, they’re finding joy in other things.
Charan: But I’ve seen those that are… it’s interesting, because they’re making a ton of money, but they don’t really have time to spend that money. Because they’re too busy with trying to hold on to the position they have. And so, yeah, it’s very interesting, the positions you end up putting yourselves in through some of these choices.
Travis: Yeah, yeah. People just get addicted to that. And then, they started like, bigger, bigger, bigger, bigger, bigger. And it’s like they’d be happier just living in a one-bedroom apartment. And working at Starbucks and working 30 hours a week. There’s a big part of me that thinks it’d be really fun to work at Starbucks. You know what I mean?
Charan: You would sell every mochaccino to everybody, I swear. You have that ability, dude.
Travis: Just make jokes all day. “Hey, Fred. How’s the mall, Fred?”
Charan: Oh, man.
Travis: So, I don’t know but-
Travis Chambers Talks About What Brings Him Joy
Charan: So, what brings you joy right now? Shall I say, what is the thing that makes you the happiest?
Travis: Yeah. It’s just when I’m hanging out at the park with the family just sitting there. Or going out to eat with the family and just, it’s just us. That’s my favorite time. That’s my favorite one.
Charan: Yeah. It’s like these times where you can ask, you can just be totally present with them, like there’s no other cares that are holding you.
Charan: I love that, man.
Travis: Yeah. And it took me a long time. I always thought I had to plan something big and there needed to be some rush or activity involved. But more and more time goes on, I’m just like, “Man, we’re just together. It doesn’t really matter what we’re doing. “Just, this is real. And everything else just doesn’t feel as real to me. So, it’s hard, man. It’s like, I’ll go out and do hobbies and stuff, like ride mountain bike or go for a run. And I love that, like I feel truly happy being out in nature and stuff too.
Travis: But it doesn’t quite compare. It doesn’t quite. I couldn’t do that for eight hours a day or whatever. I do feel really envious of people that are like a professional mountain biker, where they enjoy it so much. They can just do it all the time. I really am envious of those people. But I don’t have a hobby or activity that just, that fulfills me that much. I wish I did. I have friends that just go and they just play all the time. And it’s like, it’s everything to them.
Charan: Yeah. Yeah. It is interesting, like you mentioned something about being real. I like it just feels real, and I love like that’s like the way you described it. Because so many of the things that we’re worried about and stuff, are just ideas, just thoughts, just things that aren’t even present with us. But when we’re with your family, or with your friends, or just kind of like hanging out and doing fun stuff. Like the other day, this is the most hilarious thing.
Charan: Some friends of mine and I went up to the mountains and meditated to see if we can connect to UFOs. We legit did that. Dude, it was just the best. This is, the fact that we’re doing this is the best. It’s so fun. And we’re having a good time. But I remember thinking like, I love that. Like most of the most fun times I’ve ever had have been free. It’s like, “Hey, we’re just with each other.” We’re having a good time. We’re cracking some jokes. And those are the most beautiful, beautiful moments. So, I love that.
Travis: Dude, I was going to my flight class this morning to learn how to fly plane. Apparently, it’s next Monday. It’s not today. And so, I just walked home. I walked home. It was like 15 miles or something.
Charan: What? Okay.
Travis: Because my car is in the shop. So, I Uber there.
Charan: Oh, wow.
Travis: And I just walked home, listen to Greta Van Fleet. And I was like, “Man, this is living,” dude. I’m just walking through the city. Just some random dude on the side of the road, just walking along doing nothing. It was great man.
Travis: It was great.
Charan: So, I have a buddy of mine, who’s, he’s very, very wealthy. I think he was a billionaire at one point. But he called me up one day, and he said, “Hey, Charan, I got something to ask you.” And I said, “Yeah, what’s going on?” He’s like, “Look, I am in this weird headspace, where… look, I know I’ve got plenty of money, but sometimes I’m associated with people that have way more money than I do. And sometimes I feel this sense of lack. And it’s a weird thing, because people look at me. They’re like, ‘Dude, you could never spend all the money in your lifetime. You have so much money.'”
Charan: But he said, “But when I was younger, like 16 or 17, I was actually homeless. My parents had passed away, and I was homeless for like five, six months. But even though I was homeless, those were some of the best moments of my life. I felt so real and so connected. And I missed that.” I’m like “Really?” And he’s like, “I want to do this experiment.” He’s like, “Will you be homeless with me for a night?” And I’m like, “I’m in, dude. I am in, let’s do this thing.”
Travis: Was that in the paper? That guy?
Charan: I don’t know.
Travis: I saw some guys-
Charan: I don’t know.
Travis: … some billionaire guys lived homeless for a while. This is a different guy.
Charan: It might have been different guy. If he may have done, I would not have been surprised. But he was homeless before. It wasn’t like super-duper intense. Because what we ended up doing was we parked our car, and then we Ubered to another area. And then, we just basically hitchhiked but not really picked. And we just walked back to his car, and we just had to spend the night in a park with everything, right. But, dude, it was so incredible. Like I can’t even, like you… how cool it was, dude. I can’t even explain it to you. Because we walked for six, seven miles. And we were just so present in each other’s conversations.
Charan: And then, once we got to the park, we try to find a place to sleep. We’re just sitting there and just talking and having, and just having these incredible conversations about life. And the topic of money was never really a part of the thing. The topic of what he did for work, or what I was doing as an actor was not a part of the thing. It was just like real humans connecting right here right now. And I felt so alive. It was amazing, dude. It was so good. So, I’m glad that you did that today. It was amazing. You did like a nice 15-mile walk.
Charan: Dude, that’s amazing.
Travis: So, we have a lot of people who could make a lot more money somewhere else. But like, I get the point in LA, and I imagine you felt this at some point, too, when you were down there in San Francisco. I guess Silicon Valley was probably shot in LA, wasn’t it?
Charan: It was in Silicon Valley. I did both.
Travis: Okay. Okay.
Charan: Yeah. I got up there.
Travis: But I just got in the place where I’m just like, “I just want to make less money and have a life.” You know what I mean? Those at 20th Century Fox. And I was in this dream job. And it was just like, “This sucks.” Like, I don’t care about how well the Planet of the Apes does in the box office. I just don’t care. It doesn’t mean anything to me. It’s just like the random guy who writes tweets or whatever.
Travis: And so, anyways, that’s what I tried to build is something that, and I looked for jobs. And I actually went to interviews. And I was like, “Hey, would you pay me $20 grand less to work four days a week?” And everyone said, no, no, they wouldn’t do it. And so, I was like, “Well, I guess, then I’m going to have to start this thing then and kill myself for a certain amount of years.” But we’ve arrived, we’ve arrived at this ultimate goal of working four days a week.
Charan: I love that, man. That’s awesome, dude. It’s awesome, because you’re-
Travis: It’s 2021, man, like, it’s 2021. Most of us aren’t working in factories. And it’s just, I don’t know, at some point, how much is enough? You know what I mean?
Charan: Yeah. Yeah.
Travis: There’s kind of enough. There’s enough to go around at this point. So, how much do we need? I’m not really a fan of the government stepping in and telling people how much they can have. I don’t like that. But can’t we tell ourselves, can’t we all just look in the mirror and just be like, “Do I need this?” Do I need… do you know what I mean?
Charan: Completely, man.
Travis: When is enough, enough?
Charan: Yeah. Because the truth of it is, the more and more we have, I don’t know, then it becomes more of a burden than anything else. You’re not enjoying it, like I like having a lot more, like less stuff and just having more joy with the stuff that I’ve got. I remember-
Travis: I certainly feel burdened when… We’re designing a house and we’ve got a lot of toys now. And sometimes I just feel like I’m always fixing stuff, and I’m not using it. I have a mountain bike, but I’ve got to fix it so I can use it. But I don’t go enough because I’ve also got, it’s just, I don’t know. It’s weird.
Charan: Dude, we live in this life of excess, where it’s like, we can’t experience the stuff that we have, because it’s just too much stuff of it. It’s too much of the stuff to experience. You know what I mean? I got these cousins of mine in India, and when I asked them, like, “Hey, where would you guys live if you could live anywhere in the world?” They’re like, “We’d just live right here at home.” And I’m like, “Wait, what? Why? Anywhere?” And the go, “No, because we’re never lonely. We always can do stuff. We can always have a good time.” And I’m like, “Wow, that’s a profound answer.” Because it’s not like they were the wealthiest guys in the world or anything. But, man, they had fun.
Travis: I hate to say it, but white people, Western, white people have pretty horrible culture. It’s very just like, I don’t know. I have a lot of my Latino friends. They’re just so much more talented at just being together. Like come home from work and just sit and just talk and hang out. And I look at my, a lot of my white friends and they don’t do that. The dad is way obsessed with his own goals. The mom is obsessed with… they’re all just obsessed over different things that don’t include each other. And sometimes it’s just like, “Guys, can we just hang out?” Nothing planned or scheduled, or, I don’t know. It’s weird, man. It’s weird. I don’t get it.
Charan: No. That’s a powerful insight, man. It’s true. Like my dad always says the same thing. He’s like, “Dude, this culture is interesting.” Because in India, everyone would always just hang out with each other, even cousins. And so, we all lived in the same house. It’s like a bigger house. We would all live in the same house. My dad is like “We had so much fun every night. Friends would get together. We’d all get together. We just have a good time.” And he’s like here, “It’s like everyone’s isolated from each other.”
Charan: And I don’t necessarily think social media is helping. I think that sometimes it makes you feel even more isolated, so.
Travis: Yeah. I grew up completely isolated. So, I had an extremely mentally ill mother, like extreme personality disorder. And then, my dad couldn’t handle that. So, he just did the ’90s dad thing and traveled, sales. And he was gone Sunday to Monday every week.
Charan: Wow. Okay. Wow.
Travis: I was locked in my room. I was locked in my room for eight hours a day, every day. Quiet time, time for quiet time. It was bad. It was really bad. And so, that’s just, it’s just weird. We didn’t live near any extended family. And it was just like, “What’s the point?” It’s pointless. And so, it’s cool. Can you hear me okay?
Travis: I throw in my charger here.
Charan: Yeah, yeah, no problem.
Travis: But my in-laws are really good at this “together in this” thing. And it’s awesome.
Travis: But it’s the same with friendships, too, right? A lot of friendships are that way too. It’s really rare to find a group of friends that all get along and want to be together and spend time together. That’s really hard to find. I remember in college, like just seeking that. And I couldn’t really fully find it. Everyone was more focused on what’s the next goal or thing to, I don’t know. I don’t know how to explain it.
Charan: No, I get it though. It’s the idea of always seeking out for like, “I got to do this goal. I got to do that goal. I got to do this. I got to do that.” Instead of like, “Hey, what about just like actual connection with people and just enjoying each other’s company?” I think that’s such an important thing. Just the idea of having friends and making good relationships happen. I think it’s so powerful.
Travis Chambers Talks About His Greatest Fear
Charan: So, dude, let me ask you this. I just want to wrap things up real quick here with these last questions. What is your greatest fear right now?
Travis: I think greatest fear is just like pride, and greed, and just turning into someone who has lost perspective, I think, my greatest fear.
Charan: That makes sense, man. It makes sense. Because it’s so easy to get lost in success. It really is. And it’s just like, oh, man. That world. I think even in the world of acting, I’ve seen that a lot where people get roles and bigger things. And it’s crazy. I had a conversation just last night or two nights ago with my friend Yasmine. And she was so great. Are you familiar with the series The Chosen? I don’t know if you saw that show.
Charan: Okay. So, she’s an actress, like a regular actress on that show. And she’s currently working on another show in Hawaii. And so, we were talking about this, but she was just saying, she’s like, “Yeah, but even though I’m doing these type of things, like not all of this brings me joy. It’s not bringing me fulfillment. And it’s like, the things that bring me fulfillment are these things.” And she was listing them off.
Charan: And I realized none of those things had anything to do with acting and filmmaking. She’s like, “Yeah, acting is what I do, is my work. But that’s not what I always want to talk about. I want to talk about real life stuff.” And I think it’s good to have that type of perspective. Separate yourself from the career, like that’s what you’ve chosen to do. But real life is about real connection. So, I think-
Travis: I think we were all told that like, “Follow your dreams.” But there’s a little bit of a lie in that, and that your accomplishments aren’t really your dreams. That we’ve been somehow fed this thing that you need to, if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. You’re like, “No, maybe not.” Maybe there’s other things than work.
Charan: Yeah. Yeah. It’s a valid, valid point, right? Because it’s like you have to understand life is not… your work is not your life. You know what I mean? There’s a difference. There’s a huge difference and we can find that difference. You can find a lot more peace and happiness, so. Well, dude, I’m so excited that we were able to chat for a little bit.
Travis Chambers’s Advice to His Younger Self
Charan: I was going to ask you last thing to wrap up. If you could now sum up everything that we’ve discussed and tell your younger self this one piece of advice, what would that piece of advice be?
Travis: I think it’s just to focus on today. I lived so much in the future that I just lost out on a lot of opportunities to really just enjoy where I was. So, just do the best you can today and just have faith it’s all going to pan out.
Charan: And a nice 15-mile walk sometimes helps with that, so.
Travis: Yeah, yeah.
Charan: I love that man. Well, dude, I really appreciate you taking the time in chatting. Because it’s like, yeah, it’s so cool to see the success that you’ve had. And as you’ve seen the success, you also realize, but this is what’s important. And the most important thing is just being real, and being here, and being present, like that’s it. So, thanks, man.
Travis: And it’s hard, man.
Charan: It’s hard.
Travis: It’s hard to do. It’s like strangely weird.
Travis: But there’s just so many things just trying to pull us in so many directions.
Charan: Distracting us. Yeah. Well-
Travis: Well, thanks, Charan, that was awesome.
Charan: Yeah, dude, you’re the best. I appreciate you taking the time, and I can’t wait to actually see you in person. It’s going to be awesome, so…
Travis: Okay, I’ll hit you up, man.
Charan: Okay, perfect. Sounds good. We’ll catch you soon, okay?
Charan: All right. Take care.
Charan: Thanks so much for listening to the Lemonade Stand podcast, and we hope you enjoyed this episode. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast on whatever platform you use to be alerted when we release new episodes. We’d also love to hear your feedback in the reviews. And if you or someone you know has an awesome Lemonade Stand story, please reach out to us on social media and let us know. Thanks so much, and have a great day.
The Lemonade Stand Stories Podcast with Charan Prabhakar was created to shine a light on some of the world’s greatest creators, entrepreneurs, and innovators and the positive impact they’re making in the world.
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