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Craig Swanson is a longtime entrepreneur, Consultant at Emerald, and Partner at KaisaFit, an online fitness platform. He is the Chair of the Seattle EO Accelerator program and EO Seattle and loves helping creators, educators, and entrepreneurs build sustainable businesses around their dreams.

Craig is a former Partner at The Wedding School, an online education program for wedding photographers. He was the Founder of CreativeTechs (previously known as Swanson Tech Support), which was a leading IT support firm for Seattle area creative teams. He also co-founded CreativeLive, one of the earliest live-streaming educational platforms, with Chase Jarvis in 2008 before exiting in 2015.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Craig Swanson talks about the early days of CreativeLive
  • The evolution of choosing topics for CreativeLive 
  • CreativeLive’s best practices that Craig is taking to his partner businesses
  • What masterclasses do well, and how they should improve
  • Partnering with Sue Bryce Education
  • Personality and other factors that boost conversion
  • Considerations when pricing courses or products
  • Craig’s criteria for choosing a business partner
  • What Craig does with KaisaFit
  • How should people handle scrutiny on social media?

In this episode…

Are you an entrepreneur trying to grow your business and establish meaningful partnerships? Understanding the importance of collaboration and shared values can be a game-changer for your venture.

As an expert in growing and scaling businesses, Craig Swanson has leveraged the power of partnerships to build impactful companies, focusing on values and a shared mission to guide their growth. With experience in many industries, Craig’s insight into creating fruitful collaborations helps entrepreneurs navigate the complex business world and find lasting success.

In this episode of the Inspired Insider Podcast, Dr. Jeremy Weisz sits down with Craig Swanson, Co-founder of CreativeLive, who shares his entrepreneurial journey and the lessons he learned along the way. He discusses the importance of aligning values, vetting potential partners, and handling scrutiny as your business grows. Craig also shares the stories behind his partnerships with Sue Bryce and KaisaFit, emphasizing the power of shared mission and values to achieve success.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Special Mention(s):

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Episode Transcript

Intro 0:01 

You are listening to Inspired Insider with your host Dr. Jeremy Weisz.

Jeremy Weisz 0:22 

Dr. Jeremy Weisz here founder of where I talk with inspirational entrepreneurs and leaders today is no different. I’ve Craig Swanson and Craig before I formally introduce you, I always like to point out other episodes, people should check out and since you are head of the EO accelerator program in Seattle, I’ve had some amazing EO members on my podcast with Anthony Standifer EO Chicago, and he has a company MC and he does manufacturing for companies in the beauty and personal care space. Becky Galvez, CEO of Candor Threads, which is a custom apparel company. I also EO Chicago and Matt Zalk is EO Tulsa and does acquisition and management of single and multifamily residential properties, fascinating interviews, and of course, my business partner, John Corcoran, EO San Francisco. We have too many episodes together, where we’re talking about various topics, but check all those episodes out. And this episode is brought to you by Rise25. At Rise25 we help businesses give to and connect their dream 100 relationships and partnerships. And how do we do that we actually are an easy button for you to launch and run the podcast we do strategy, accountability and full execution of a podcast and Craig for me and I know you’re in the same way, the number one thing in my life is relationships and always looking at ways to give to my best relationships. And I’ve found no better way to profile the people and companies I most admire and share with the world what they’re working on. So if you’ve thought about podcasting, you should you have questions to happy to answer them. And without further ado, we have Craig Swanson. He’s co-founder of the online learning platform CreativeLive. I remember watching and listening and seeing the tremendous growth Craig early on of CreativeLive and it was really innovative. It’s still is an amazing platform that you co-founded. And Craig is also the secret weapon for businesses and he has helped online businesses such as KaiserFit, Sue Bryce Education, The Wedding School and many more by helping them grow to multi-million dollar mark and even acquisition sometimes and basically we are talking, some people call themselves a serial entrepreneur, you call yourself a serial business partner. Because basically, you partner with online businesses, sometimes they’re in the Loseth six figures and help them grow, break the $1 million mark and beyond and build a team and systems to scale far beyond that. And people can check you out at So Craig, thanks for joining me,

Craig Swanson 2:53 

Jeremy, that was fantastic. I got to start taking notes here you just summed up my business better than I do.

Jeremy Weisz 2:59 

I love for to talk about the early days when you first started CreativeLive and how that went about.

Craig Swanson 3:10 

So CreativeLive actually started out, before it was CreativeLive, it was a project inside of my IT company that was a gift I gave to myself the IT company was profitable enough that I could spend a couple 100,000 or $100,000 a year on kind of a side education gig. And then around 2008, when the economy tanked the repercussions of that were I had to either give up this gift I’d give myself or find some way of making it sustainable. And that grew into what became CreativeLive in 2010, which was this live broadcast of a basically an in-person learning experience. That was really the thing that we were playing with is there were online some online education at that time, very, very limited in 2010. And there’s a lot of in-person like workshops, but you never had the feeling of in-person workshop when you were online. It was always just like a box people ran. And so what we did is we said hey, what if we basically got five or six students together and we got the whole camera crew and basically filmed it as if it’s a reality TV show. And we did a live broadcast of a in-person learning experience where the people watching from around the world got a seat at that table, but they also got to watch six or seven other people actively participating in this. And we started off by doing three-day photography workshops, which would just be an unheard-of concept for doing online education. And effectively, it’s like this connection of online education, kind of like reality TV show production and the very early days of internet live streaming and it all came together into this really amazing package that’s just really exploded.

Jeremy Weisz 4:55 

I’m wondering, how do you choose topics. I know, early on, I think when I was researching this, you said that you were using online webinar platforms. And some of them had the limit of 1000. You’re like, we’re never going to hit this. And you decided to start with Photoshop, and you hit that maximum. And obviously, you hit something there with what people wanted. Can you talk about the evolution of some of the topics that you went through with CreativeLive? How do you even choose the next topic? Because you’re putting a lot of production value and a lot of time and energy in each one of these?

Craig Swanson 5:36 

Yeah, absolutely. Well, I think the name actually sums up a lot of it., CreativeLive was started around supporting creative entrepreneurs, or creative professionals. So graphic designers, illustrators, photographers, video production houses, those types of companies were what we are people we were really working with. And why pick that part of that is that is what I did professionally, I professionally was an IT company focused on Seattle area, ad agencies, design firms, photography studios. So it was an industry I knew really well. My partner, Chase Jarvis was a client of mine in Seattle, and was a tremendously well-known photographer, we had built a list of about 30,000, creative companies around the world through some writing that I had done previously. And so it was a natural outgrowth of the type education that we were already doing. And it was what we were teaching in the classroom inside of my IT company that we had started.

Jeremy Weisz 6:34 

Obviously, now, I mean, you only take on, maybe one or two partners a year, right? Because you’re working really hand in hand with these people. And you’re really integrated into their business. Right. And so I’m curious from the standpoint of, you’ve learned a lot through CreativeLive. So what are some of the things that you did? I mean, you bring this growth to these businesses? What did you see that was working CreativeLive that you’re taking to some of these businesses that you’re partnering with?

Craig Swanson 7:09 

So, it’s actually really kind of interesting, I realized that we just launched yesterday with a fitness studio. And the person that I brought in to help build out was my first employee at CreativeLive years ago, so about 12 years, we effectively were doing yesterday, very similar to what we had done 12 years earlier, just with completely different technology. So the technology has completely changed. The ease of use, has completely changed in terms of doing live streaming. But the underlying business hasn’t changed that much. In order to grow in order to become something that is significant, is really important to create a community, a learning experience for a community, and to really focus on the learners. And I will say one of the big things that early on we were seeing in 2010, is a lot of online learning was focused around putting the educators on a pedestal, basically. And if you look at masterclass and some of the other, they pick people and they basically just really put the educators on a pedestal. And the idea is that you’re giving access to these amazing people to the world. And there’s a grain of truth in that. But I always viewed it the other way around. As I wanted to put the audience on a pedestal I always basically wanted to be an advocate to make the most important person in the room was the person who was tuning in from their house wherever it happened to be unable to get access to this without anything else. And when you have that focus of making sure that you’re putting the customer or the person that’s on the other end of that communication on a pedestal, it means that we put a lot of work into things that didn’t make the filming feel more comfortable that it didn’t make it more comfortable for us in the studio. But we were working on trying to make the break the boundary. So the person watching at home, felt less alone and felt heard.

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