In 2016 my dad, Jordan Peterson, went viral. That sudden fame and all the controversy that came with it was incredibly hard on my family, but it also opened up boatloads of opportunity. My dad took advantage of it all.
He said yes to everything that came his way, especially podcast invitations, and his family helped him make time for it all. I’ve been the CEO of his company Luminate Enterprises, Ltd., since the beginning of 2018, when he published his book 12 Rules for Life.
I had made social media channels for him in 2013 on Facebook and in 2017 on Instagram prior to forming a company. I spent some of my time in the beginning crafting posts to put on social media for his account — something most people would’ve said was a waste of time. At the same time I worked on my own social media presence and started to gain awareness in the Paleo Diet/Health community, and slowly grew my own profile.
When booking my dad’s events, lectures, podcasts, flights and tours, and coordinating between multiple different companies got to be too much — I was working 12 hour days, as were my parents — we expanded. We hired assistants, and my husband — a business consultant — stepped in to help. My dad went on tour and we focused on his digital products.
He already had two online products that he’d spent three decades perfecting with two other PhD’s from McGill and Harvard.
The first is a writing suite at selfauthoring.com, which helps people organize their past and present, and make a plan for the future. The second is a self-assessment at understandmyself.com, which gives people a scientifically valid personality test using the Big 5 personality traits theory. These products were easy to grow because we had worked on dad’s social media presence, and because the products work. My advice, always, is: Don’t sell something you don’t believe in — it won’t last, people will see through it.
I’m proud to say that everything we’ve worked on has done extremely well.
His first book has sold almost six-million copies worldwide. His newer book Beyond Order is out March 2, and has pre-sold over 100,000 copies. The Jordan B. Peterson Podcast and his YouTube videos reach hundreds of thousands of people with every episode, and there are hundreds of thousands of views on each blog post and newsletter and social media post.
His lectures are followed by 3.8 million subscribers on YouTube alone, with another 1.9 million on Instagram, 1.1 million on Facebook and 1.7 million on Twitter. This viewership is monetized through podcast and YouTube advertising, book sales and the sales of the three digital products, which have helped hundreds of thousands of people improve and reorganize their lives.
We strive to deliver his message of personal responsibility with each of these components, and provide easy access to his ideas for anyone who is interested in hearing them — without hiding them behind a paywall (unlike universities and colleges). Advertising allows us to keep his ideas free.
There is a complex mechanism behind the scenes that keeps the Jordan Peterson content machine running.
Filming, video, audio and digital media production are a huge factor — we have an internal team handling this. For instance, the delivery of a single podcast episode requires over 150 components weekly. It’s not as simple as the final product looks. All content goes through rigorous quality checks, and the role, destination and timing of each piece is planned carefully.
Tour planning is done with our event agents, and work on the book is coordinated with over 50 publishers worldwide. There’s business management work — operations, legal, finance, taxes, business relationships, negotiations, etc.
On top of that, we work on driving the business forward by developing new products to help people organize their lives, innovative tools (for instance, we’re working on an app that helps university students write essays), and public initiatives — this spring we’re launching the high quality translations of Jordan’s content into 13 languages, for free.
All of this has required tremendous amounts of organization, and has not been built in a day.
Here are the rules by which I work:
1. Say yes to everything until you’re completely swamped with work. Then you can start saying no.
2. Be aware that there is a lot of work that doesn’t pay at the beginning — that doesn’t mean it won’t pay off later.
3. Make sure what you’re selling or saying is honest.
4. Do not forsake quality for quantity.
5. If you are an influencer incorporate a business so that you can optimize your taxes and expenses.
6. Do not underestimate social media platforms — they’re all different and all worth learning.
7. Do not underestimate marketing (recognize that podcast advertising exists and is growing!)
8. Connect and learn from other people around you. (Do free cross promotions with people who could help your online presence grow!)
9. Work with people who have the same goal as you and learn tasks quickly.
10. Be open to being wrong. Truthfully, when it all started, we had no idea what we were getting into — no one in our family could have even imagined the scale and opportunity that would come from a global interest in his work.
However, like I said, my dad is the type of man who said “yes” to every opportunity. Over time, we have built a network, hired people and outsourced some of the business to keep it profitable and efficient. One of the points of having a business and making money, I believe, is to employ people once you’re large enough. We hire based on the person’s capabilities, not previous experience, although that helps.
Now you can’t monetize by planning on going viral. That doesn’t happen often. However, if you are an influencer or have a small business, or a larger business for that matter, perhaps some of what we’ve learned could be helpful. As of now, I’m slowly stepping away from my dad’s business to focus on my own work.
Eventually I’ll hand it off entirely. My own podcast — The Mikhaila Peterson Podcast — is in the top 100 podcasts worldwide. I’ve successfully monetized it through ads, and I’m working on a book.