This episode of the How’d It Happen podcast takes you on a rollercoaster ride with Ian Bick, the fastest rising podcaster globally, as he unravels his journey from throwing high school parties to running a Ponzi scheme, going to prison, and ultimately, launching one of the most rapidly growing podcasts. Ian shares his compelling life story and how his prison experiences and struggles with addiction have shaped his perspectives and served as motivation to turn his life around. He discusses his ambition to create something magnificent and how he systematically approached his podcasting journey, dropping episodes on Sundays and Thursdays.
Ian’s ambition led him to running a nightclub at 18, and ultimately, to his arrest by the FBI and the IRS. Listen in as Ian recounts how he used social media to share his story, gaining millions of views and hundreds of millions of followers. Ian also shares how he created a safe space on his podcast for people to share their stories, transforming it into an inspirational and entertaining platform.
In Mike’s discussion with Ian, he reveals the truth about his FBI investigation and his decision to go to trial. He also explores his prison experiences and how they shaped him. Ian talks about his tattoo symbols, the need for prison system reform, and how his self-driven learning motivated him to create his success. Finally, Ian shares his strategy for standing out in the podcasting world, his transition to making podcasting his full-time job, and how he believes his podcast will continue to inspire new generations. Don’t miss this riveting journey of redemption, resilience, and relentless ambition.
- From Prison to the Fastest Growing Podcast in the World
- Consequences of Going to Trial
- Prison Experience and Tattoos
- Podcast Platform Building and Gaining Guests
- Podcaster’s Success and Advice
Connect with Ian Bick:
- Website: ianbick.com
- YouTube: Ian Bick
- LinkedIn: Ian Bick
- Check out Ian’s podcast: Locked In with Ian Bick
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Episode transcript below:
0:00:00 – Mike Malatesta
Hi everyone. Mike Malatesta here and welcome back to the how it Happened podcast. On this podcast, I dig in deep with every guest to explore the roots of their success, to discover not just how it happened but why it matters. My mission is to find and share stories that inspire, activate and maximize the greatness in you. On today’s episode. I’m talking with a person who I think is the number one fastest rising podcaster in the world, his name is Ian Bick.
His life’s been a roller coaster, you might say, from making $10,000 a night running big parties in high school, to staging rap and EDM events, to running a Ponzi scheme, to going to prison for three years and finally now to having one of the fastest growing podcasts after just nine months. And yes, I am a little jealous about that.
0:00:54 – Ian Bick
Now’s the chance to do something. I don’t have a family, I don’t have a responsibility in that regard. Let me take a risk and so I just started telling my story on social media. The one thing I didn’t like talking about prison and when I focused on those stories people from all over the country and all over the world have been tuning in to hear these stories. And these stories are motivational, because when you hear someone’s story about how they battle with addiction and land themselves in prison or almost died, or forced to join a prison game or got raped in prison or anything like this, that really gives someone that hasn’t been through that before a different perspective in life and maybe that motivation they need to turn their life around with whatever they’re going through.
0:01:35 – Mike Malatesta
This young man has some special gifts and you are about to hear more about them from Ian himself. Enjoy. Hi, ian, welcome to the podcast.
0:01:51 – Ian Bick
Thanks for having me, man. It’s a pleasure to be here.
0:01:53 – Mike Malatesta
Yeah, you heard a little bit about Ian in my intro, but I wanted to add that I first learned of you. I first learned of Ian from the James Alster Show, which is one of my favorite podcasts, and he did a great two-part interview with you and I was just really taken by the whole story and I reached out LinkedIn and, even though you don’t have a huge LinkedIn presence, but he connected with me. Thank you so much for doing that. And here we are, so I’ve been looking forward to this ever since I heard you on James’s show a month or so ago. So let me tell you a little bit more about Ian before we get started. So Ian Bick was a nightclub owner at 18, a federal inmate at 21, a grocery store department manager at 25, and successful podcast host at 28, which you are currently 28,. Is that right?
0:02:48 – Ian Bick
Yeah, 28 this past May.
0:02:49 – Mike Malatesta
Okay, 28. Okay. After turning a pension for throwing parties into a booming business, Ian found himself in over his head. He was in debt, had a gambling addiction and needed to answer to his investors. When he was 21, he was charged with wire fraud and money laundering and sentenced to 36 months in federal prison. When he got out, Ian tried to live a normal life for a while and we’ll dig into what that actually means but ambition still lived inside of him. Now older and wiser, but not that old You’re a lot wiser than you are old. He’s put himself on the line and used the pieces of his life to build something magnificent. Rather than try to hide from the last decade, Ian wanted to bear it all, and so that basically ended up with him getting a presence on TikTok and then launching his super successful podcast, locked in with Ian Bick, just earlier this year, January or so of 2023, correct.
Yep. So on his show he interviews former prison inmates, law enforcement officers lawyers and others who have been impacted by the criminal justice system. He does two episodes a week, I believe, and interesting. This is just a total aside, but you drop your episodes on Sunday evening, is that correct?
0:04:06 – Ian Bick
Yeah, Thursdays and Sundays.
0:04:07 – Mike Malatesta
Thursdays and Sundays evenings. Yeah, that’s a little different than what most people are doing. They’re not usually dropping on the weekend and maybe you found a sweet spot there and being the first.
0:04:18 – Ian Bick
Yeah, you know what the thing is. So there’s two angles. So, from the video perspective, because we started off as a video podcast, we did the audio, but our following started with the video and people are sitting at home on a Sunday night at home where they can watch it. If it’s dropped during the week, they can’t tune it in.
Historically, our YouTube videos perform better on a Sunday evening or a holiday Like. The great thing about our podcast is we’ll never take a holiday off Thanksgiving, Christmas, anything like that. Even Super Bowl Sunday, we were able to launch a video and it still performed well. Now, audio wise, you drop it Sunday night. It’s available first thing Monday morning on their way to work, and then you’re dropping Thursday night and it’s available first thing Friday morning or Friday on their way back from work.
So it’s worked for us, and I’m a person that’s very systematic, so once it’s doing it that way, that’s why all of our thumbnails are the same we stopped doing the other stuff we were producing, like story times or cookoffs or anything like that, and everything has to have a system, and it goes the way it’s been working.
0:05:24 – Mike Malatesta
Okay, well, I’m gonna. So I do Monday and Friday like first thing in the morning, but you got me.
0:05:32 – Ian Bick
So it’s the same thing, yeah, same thing.
0:05:35 – Mike Malatesta
It’s a system. It’s a system, but it’s different time. So, the evening drop as opposed to the AM drop, because a lot of people drop their podcasts like 5 AM or 4 AM or something like that.
0:05:47 – Ian Bick
Yeah, I mean, I think the nighttime drops great, because that’s when the person’s at their time to be most engaging and not forget about it.
0:05:56 – Mike Malatesta
Whereas if you drop, in the morning.
0:05:58 – Ian Bick
If I have a busy morning and I get that notification, I might forget about it. But if I’m seeing that notification at night. It hit through or it’s the first thing I wake up to on the phone that Ian Bick posted a video. They’re gonna remember that. So you know it’s worked for us. And I also wanted to go against kind of what everyone else was doing.
0:06:17 – Mike Malatesta
All right, well, I’m making a note of that, because I think yours is working better than mine is working, so I guess we’ll try something different. Yeah, so, as I said, in less than a year, ian’s amassed hundreds of thousands of podcasts, downloads and millions of views on his short form content on YouTube. But in addition to that, he’s also dedicated to helping people like himself and like his guests. He’s a board member of the National Association for Reentry Professionals and has presented at conferences dedicated to reforming the criminal justice system in the United States. His podcast, as we said, is called Locked In with Ian Bick. You can learn more about Ian at his website, which is his name, ian I-A-N-B-I-C-Kcom, and his YouTube channel is Ian Bick, ct for Connecticut, I’m assuming.
0:07:01 – Ian Bick
Yup, yeah so.
0:07:03 – Mike Malatesta
Ian Bick, ct. Ian, I start every one of my podcasts with a simple question, that is, how did it happen for you?
0:07:11 – Ian Bick
Which part. There’s so many aspects to that question.
0:07:16 – Mike Malatesta
Whatever part you want to take us to first.
0:07:20 – Ian Bick
I mean, I guess how I got here now is, you know, when I was a kid, I made a. I was very ambitious and I made a lot of bad business decisions like any kid would do that was entrusted with a lot of money and I was very stuck in my own ways. I was probably my own worst enemy and I was made a lot of decisions that I wanted to do and that I felt was right and that led me down a path that you know got me into trouble and I eventually found myself, you know, arrested by the FBI and the IRS, and what I didn’t know at the time would that would become the greatest thing that could have ever possibly happened to me. And I didn’t go to college and while all my friends were in college, I was in federal prison and I did three years in federal prison and during that whole time period, while being on trial, while going through a criminal case, I was running this nightclub in Connecticut and I always thought that that was the story. You know that that was going to be the story of the in-bick. That was my legacy.
And then I got out of prison in 2019 at like 24 years old 23 years old and I didn’t know what I wanted to do and I wanted to get back in the nightclub business but that was going to be an impossible task given my circumstances. And you know, thank God I didn’t, because COVID happened a year later and that would have destroyed anything I miraculously could have pulled off. And you know I did that and I decided to go into a Whole Foods market which had hired me before I went to prison and I worked my way up from a Hop Bar team member for 15 bucks an hour to a team leader making 32 bucks an hour three years later and it was cool to like see that rise and I thought this was my calling, like I loved working for someone else for so long because I didn’t have that before and I was making great money. I could rebuild my credit, you know, get a dog, get an apartment, get a car, credit cards, all this stuff I never had as a business owner before Because my life was in shambles for so many years and then that eventually got tiring.
It was this time last year when I was like burnt out and I was like is this what I want to do for the rest of my life? In corporations like that it’s hard to like. You can stand out when you’re an ambitious and you’re a hard worker, but there’s no disparity between you and the other workers who get promoted who don’t work as hard because of that corporate world. And so I quit. I said I’m going to go. You know, at that point I had owned a nightclub at 18. I had done all these things in my life and I’m 27 at the time. You know, now’s the chance to do something. I don’t have a family, I don’t have a responsibility in that regard. Let me take a risk. And so I just started telling my story on social media. The one thing I didn’t like talking about prison and the past and everything like that would turn out to be like my greatest success story, and so.
I’m just, you know, telling these short videos on Tik Tok and then Facebook, and then YouTube shorts and then Instagram about crazy prison stories and that, just you know, started taking off millions of views, hundreds millions of views. The followers are going up. And then December of this past year I said, you know, I can’t talk about my story forever, it’s going to get burnt out. I saw other creators that are in my field getting burnt out or struggling to find ideas and I kind of looked at what everyone else was doing and I was like how do I professionalize prison content? So I got the idea to start a podcast and to start doing interviews I only do, you know, in person interviews to keep the production quality, video wise, because we use the videos to promote on Tik Tok and small clips and everything.
And, you know, just shooting in the dark never did a podcast before.
You know, made mistakes in the early days and but adjusted quickly, started learning what other people are doing, watching other big podcasts.
And then it you know about April, when I finally figured out what the direction of the podcast was giving others who don’t usually have a voice or the ability to go on these major platforms and share their story. When I focused on those stories and giving them a safe place to talk and share the craziness of their lives, that turned into an inspirational podcast, but also a entertainment podcast, and people from all over the country and all over the world have been tuning in to hear these stories. And these stories are motivational because when you hear someone’s story about how they battle with addiction and land themselves in prison or almost died or forced to join a prison game or got raped in prison or anything like this, that really gives someone that hasn’t been through that before a different perspective in life and maybe that motivation they need to turn their life around with whatever they’re going through. So I, you know, I honed in on that and now here we are, sitting here talking to you.
0:12:20 – Mike Malatesta
So let me, you dropped a lot of stuff there. I want to go back to one of the very first things you said, which was I made a lot of mistakes in business as a kid, or something like that, Because I was a kid, right, and so I think that makes sense, except that most kids quote, unquote kids they don’t make mistakes in business because they don’t have a business. So how did you become a kid with a business in the first place?
0:12:49 – Ian Bick
I always was like different and I was bullied a lot in elementary school and middle school and I was the kid that like doing theater and I was the entertainer and I like being the show of everything and that was my way to like stand out and be liked and you know that got me down a path of, you know, doing things to get me liked which was like throwing parties and high school big parties. We’re doing like two or 300 person house parties and that turned into me like doing a school dance and getting involved with the school board of directors and becoming vice president in my class and helping plan the prom. And then, while all this is going on, just thinking to myself, how do I turn this into a business? And then that kind of like a business formed with renting out local nightclubs and throwing big. We call them teen nights and we can make like 10 grand a night getting kids from all over that you know the tri-state area to come pay 10 bucks a ticket to these shows.
0:13:53 – Mike Malatesta
So it started as a way to be liked.
0:13:57 – Ian Bick
Yeah it all. You know, that’s kind of like the root of it, Like I wanted to always be liked and popular and out there and people do accept me.
0:14:06 – Mike Malatesta
And did they?
0:14:08 – Ian Bick
I think they did. I mean, I think when you go through like a story like mine, you have a lot of people that are around you for the wrong reasons especially when I own the nightclub and I’m around big celebrities in the world and then those people drop off. When you have something traumatic happen, like going to prison, they all want to be away from you.
And now I’m back in the spotlight again and they’re all coming back. Only this time I’m smarter and wiser with how to deal with them, but that’s just like a reoccurring theme throughout my entire story.
0:14:38 – Mike Malatesta
And, as I understand your story, the parties where you were making $10,000 a party or whatever started to sort of morph into bigger parties at venues and such, and that’s when you started to go to friends and family and basically ask for people to invest in your parties, or how did it develop into something that ended up becoming big bigger than you could wrap your hands around, I guess?
0:15:10 – Ian Bick
I mean, my mind works like I’m always thinking on the next big thing and, like in the party business, you’re only as good as your last event. So I was always the one that never really enjoyed the parties. I just enjoyed the buildup of the parties and I liked planning it. But the night of the show I was like, okay, let me think of the next one. And eventually, these nightclubs team nights when the market got oversaturated, they got boring and they started to die out. So my mind was how do I get this bigger? And the only logical thing that made sense to me at that point was to start doing concerts with big rappers and or EDM acts, and to do those acts you need money, which is when I started to go out and raise money from friends and family.
0:15:52 – Mike Malatesta
Okay, and am I correct in assuming that it was going good for a while and then it something changed that in terms of financially going good for a while, like something got off the rails? Obviously you had success with planning. It sounds like you were really on top of what you wanted to accomplish. You were able to attract money to stage these things. Then what?
0:16:14 – Ian Bick
I mean, my business was always successful in high school with the team parties. Where it goes south is when I got into these big concerts. And it’s not just on me anymore, it’s not me planning them. There’s other people involved, there’s other partners, there’s other production companies. These are big college arenas we’re renting out and we’re way me and my partners other people were involved with are way out of our depth.
But we knew nothing about this and I got lazy. I wasn’t the only one promoting these shows and I was kind of sitting back and relaxing and pretty much I never really had a successful concert at that part. We raised this money and these concerts happened and the first couple of ones we thought we were making money. So I told my investors that they were making money. And when I found out that they weren’t making money because I wanted to be liked and popular and I was branded as, like this, wizkid and stuff I wasn’t honest with those investors or say, hey, we lost money because I didn’t know how they would look at me and that kind of started it. Once you tell one lie, it’s hard to you know continue down that path without continuing to lie until you come clean about it. It’s like a domino effect.
0:17:28 – Mike Malatesta
And when you first told the first lie because I think a lot of people are kind of like this it’s not really a lie in your mind, because you’re thinking it’s just a way to push it down further because I’m gonna figure this out, and it’s like a request, for it’s just a way to make space or make time Is that how you were approaching it, or were you approaching it differently?
0:17:51 – Ian Bick
Yeah, all my lies were never to in my mind to hurt anyone or to steal or anything like that. It was always just a delay and I just kept the more lies and delays that I was trying to come up with. It just got me into bigger and bigger holes and that was my own downfall. Was that part? Had I just been honest from the beginning, it probably just would have been a civil thing and it wouldn’t have gotten to the level it did.
0:18:19 – Mike Malatesta
Right, yeah, people would have just been suing you for a bad investment or something.
0:18:25 – Ian Bick
Exactly lost money, or they might have just coughed it up as a loss.
0:18:29 – Mike Malatesta
Well, I’m thinking and you tell me if I’m right about this, but I’m thinking that that is probably what you thought ultimately would happen and you never really thought that you’d get a knock at your door or whatever. You got phone call or whatever from the FBI. And because I’m gonna ask you, did you think that that would ever be a possibility or was that something that didn’t become a possibility until the knock or the call or whatever the first interaction was?
0:18:57 – Ian Bick
I mean, no one ever expects that. I never believed what I was doing was criminally wrong and I didn’t ever even thought I would go to prison until I was actually heading to prison. So it’s one of those things you never really think it’s gonna happen to you. It’s like when you hear about people overdosing and you’re an addict, you don’t think that’s gonna happen to you. You’re living through that, what someone else is living through, but you don’t ever think that’s gonna happen to you.
0:19:24 – Mike Malatesta
Right, and how did so? What changed it, Ian? How did it go from being hey, this is just an issue with my investors, let’s say, to something that’s got the attention of?
0:19:40 – Ian Bick
FBI People, like some of the investors were kids my age and they started to go to the police, Like I had eventually gotten a lawyer, to let all the investors know that we didn’t have any money to pay them. And these kids that think there are thousands of dollars of interest in everything, interest in everything that upset them. So they went to the police, they reported it and the police thought it was like this multimillion dollar fraud case which it wasn’t, but that started the investigation and there was one detective that just had like a heart on the whole entire time.
Like in every one of these like movies, you know, like Wolf of Wall Street and stuff like that that he got it up to the federal level and before I knew it, the feds were investigating.
0:20:26 – Mike Malatesta
And how did you first become aware of that?
0:20:29 – Ian Bick
I was at a department of banking hearing. That got subpoenaed to a department of banking hearing and then afterwards two agents were waiting for me from the postal inspector service.
0:20:40 – Mike Malatesta
And they were like outside of that room or something.
0:20:44 – Ian Bick
Yeah, they brought me to another room and they walked in, showed me their badges and then they handed me a target letter.
0:20:50 – Mike Malatesta
Okay, and a target letter means that you’re being investigated for whatever like no.
0:20:56 – Ian Bick
Yeah, it’s a one page letter with the department of justice label and everything.
0:21:00 – Mike Malatesta
it’s scary, it really is that’s gotta be the scariest letter you’ve ever received right, absolutely, man.
0:21:05 – Ian Bick
0:21:06 – Mike Malatesta
And what did they say to you, besides giving you the letter?
0:21:09 – Ian Bick
They just asked me questions. It basically had me go over everything that I was at the department of banking for and it was definitely scary. It was a scary situation. I got a lawyer right after. I should have had a lawyer going to the department of banking in that meeting but I didn’t because I was just trying to clear my name.
0:21:27 – Mike Malatesta
0:21:28 – Ian Bick
I didn’t think anything. Yeah, handle it, but that’s what happened with that. It was surreal.
0:21:32 – Mike Malatesta
And you were 19?.
0:21:35 – Ian Bick
I was just yeah, I was about 19. Yeah, I just turned 19.
0:21:42 – Mike Malatesta
19,. And what were you living at home? What?
0:21:46 – Ian Bick
I mean, how did you take this news home?
0:21:47 – Mike Malatesta
0:21:49 – Ian Bick
I lived on my own for like three months and then I moved back. But, yeah, I called my dad right away and then we had to sit down and break it to my mom, who was the one that ended up paying the retainer for the lawyer. But it wasn’t a good situation in the family.
0:22:04 – Mike Malatesta
And was it during this time, too, that you were doing the gambling and stuff that I mentioned in the bio, or did that come between now and when you were actually convicted, or what?
0:22:18 – Ian Bick
No, the gambling started for fun about when I was 18 and I would make money, but then I used it kind of like as a tool and started to show acts of desperation to go there throughout, like after I got arrested. I would say that triggered like some trauma and it brought me into like a negative spot with that.
0:22:35 – Mike Malatesta
Okay and yeah, so your mom picks up the retainer for the lawyer. And what are they saying to you outside of that? Are they saying, ian, we don’t believe this? What are they saying? Are you completely honest with them at this point? Because I feel like a lot of times I know I have a similar situation in my life and I was like kind of honest, but I wasn’t like totally honest because I still thought like you kind of intimated going to the banking department or whatever, that you could handle it, you could fix it.
This is not going to become what it could become, because you’re used to fixing things and you’re used to handling things.
0:23:16 – Ian Bick
Yeah, I mean I had to come clean with my parents. I kept them in the dark throughout the whole thing, but when I was come down on an FBI investigation. That’s when I kind of told them all the details. And there was a lot they didn’t know until, really like the trial itself. But at that point they heard like the majority of it.
0:23:34 – Mike Malatesta
Okay, and the majority of people in your situation, at least as I understand it, they don’t end up going to trial because the government says to them well, if you go to trial, here’s what’s going to happen to you likely, and we’ve got like a 99% kill rate or win rate.
Yeah so instead they offer you something that’s, they say, will be less than what you would get if you went to trial, but you went to trial anyway. What I’m sure you well, I don’t know Were there pleas that were offered to you that you rejected. How did you handle that?
0:24:10 – Ian Bick
They offered me a plea deal which was longer than I actually got after I went to trial and lost some counts. We just didn’t want.
We were more than fine pleading guilty to no jail time or probation and the government just didn’t want to do that, which, when you look at the whole thing, is kind of crazy, because they would have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars of money had they not gone through a trial and time and energy and resources that they could have been putting into something else. But they didn’t want to go for that. So they were out for blood, they were looking for jail time.
0:24:45 – Mike Malatesta
And was it because, or what? Do you know why that was? Or were you like I’m just gonna? Were you like just a cocky ass to them? And then they were kind of like, well, we’re gonna show this kid a lesson. Or were you, was it something else? Or maybe you have to guess, I don’t know.
0:25:02 – Ian Bick
I was definitely a cocky asshole.
0:25:04 – Mike Malatesta
0:25:04 – Ian Bick
But I think that they also didn’t like that I was still running the nightclub and doing that. And I was out there in the public eye and everything and it was kind of like in their face. And I also think that they never expected that I would take it the trial, because normally you drop a plea deal in front of a grown adult, they’re signing and they’re pressured. You drop it in front of a kid. I mean, the kid’s not going to go to trial. What kind of kid will go to trial?
So I think I shocked them and then, once you know we got down that path, there was no going back for them to try to cut a deal.
I think it crossed a certain threshold, even when, during the jury trial, they thought that the verdict was going to come down the same day that deliberation started and it took them four days and we were trying to work like a backdoor deal on the end with the head US attorney to see if we could get a deal worked out before a verdict came, because they were getting nervous they didn’t know what was going to happen.
0:26:04 – Mike Malatesta
And you said that the jury did not convict you on all counts. So was it like did they come out and say the counts that they weren’t going to, that they were going to acquit you on first and then the others where you were kind of like you know, I think this is kind of you getting excited, and then or I don’t know how that worked for you, so they read it they just start with count one and the first couple of counts were either deadlocked like hung jury or not guilty.
0:26:30 – Ian Bick
So I thought I had won the whole thing. But then they start reading the guilty verdicts so I think I won about half of them and then you know the others were convictions. But in the fed system they see, like people like Trump or any of these, like that they stack so many charges against you so it betters their odds. They only need one. Yeah you know, because they’re all the same thing. They could sentence. Even if someone like me was just found guilty on one charge, I’d still get the same guidelines that sentence.
0:27:02 – Mike Malatesta
0:27:03 – Ian Bick
Yeah, they only need one. That’s why they do that. So they hit me with 15 counts. It doesn’t just anything, they just need one conviction, right.
0:27:13 – Mike Malatesta
Yeah, that’s why I was kind of saying it’s like a 99%, you know, kill rate or conviction rate or whatever.
0:27:19 – Ian Bick
It is, it’s high.
0:27:20 – Mike Malatesta
Okay, so you did, they did they. Did you go home after that and then have to report later? And if so, what was the? What was that? Like the period in between?
0:27:29 – Ian Bick
Yeah, I got. I got released back out on bond. The judge and D me a flight risk or anything like that. So I was able to leave and you know, that’s when I started going back. I had taken a year off from going out of state to gamble, but that kind of like triggered me. The night club, I needed some money that I was running and whatnot, and so I started going out of state to gamble while I was, you know, pending sentencing. It’s kind of like you’re in limbo, you’re guilty and you’re you’re waiting to see what, like, your fate is going to be.
0:27:58 – Mike Malatesta
Right, and during that time you’re probably not allowed to travel out of state. To get my, get Everton.
0:28:03 – Ian Bick
Yeah, ever since I got arrested, you’re not allowed to travel out of state without permission.
0:28:09 – Mike Malatesta
So that period of time, then you’re doing it, you’re, you’re gambling, you’re trying to, I’m sure, make sense of, like, what’s this going to be when I actually have to show up? I, that had to be and you’re only you know, you’re still a very young person. Who, who, who wasn’t raised as a criminal like you, don’t have a criminal like you, haven’t been in and out of the system, let’s say, for all this time. But yeah, I think it’s hard for a lot of people listening to understand what it feels like to be in that position and how, like even just being around your parents and your friends or you know whatever, yeah, it’s.
0:28:47 – Ian Bick
it’s scary Like I was definitely in a very depressed state of mind. I was eating a lot of junk food. I was the heaviest I’ve ever been in my life. I was just you know. I a lot of people were leaving my life and it was just you know. It was constantly under stress and pressure, every single day and I didn’t get really my first sign of relief until I was actually in prison, and that’s a whole another struggle in itself.
0:29:11 – Mike Malatesta
Yeah, so let’s, let’s talk about that period. So you, you mentioned that you know you were hoping to get out, basically plead guilty, get no jail time, probably get probation and restitution, those kinds of things, I suppose. So that doesn’t work out. You end up going to prison and you said that you know it costs hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars more than it would have otherwise to just have gotten you, given you probation. How do you, how do you reconcile that? How does that? For again, some think a lot of people listening may not understand why that would be so. Just the cost of keeping you in prison Is that what you’re alluding to? Or what is what? What more?
0:30:01 – Ian Bick
No, I was just saying, like the cost to prosecute. Yeah, it was more to prosecute because had they just given a plea deal, they would have avoided all that.
I mean prison costs are what it is. You know, like that, that’s not really a fair argument to keep someone out of prison. But looking back on it, given the circumstances of my case, like I’m not going to say hey, don’t you know, send a you know a killer to jail because it’s going to cost a taxpayer money. I’m just saying like when you look at the overall picture of my case, where I was just this 19 year old kid, it wasn’t a lot of money that was on the table and they went through a months long trial with like all these agents IRS, fbi like the amount of you would have thought they were prosecuting Bernie Madoff with the amount of you know.
So when you look at all that, I mean I don’t take any of it back. I think it’s the greatest thing that happened to me that they put me through all that, but in reality I don’t think it was necessary yeah okay and the greatest thing, like a lot of people say in retrospect this you know bad thing happened to me, but it turned out to be the greatest thing.
0:31:08 – Mike Malatesta
How was it that? When did you, when did you make the connection that it was the greatest thing? Because I’m assuming that the day you walked into your first prison, it probably didn’t feel like the greatest thing. I probably realized that in April of this year and May, oh, april of this year, okay, so yeah, I realized that it took a long time to.
0:31:26 – Ian Bick
It took a long time, I’m still, I’m still realizing you know every day. But I mean like, for example, we’re having the actor Chevy Chase on the podcast and if you asked me that, you know, even three months ago, if I’d be sitting across from Chevy Chase I would have thought you know, you’re out of your mind.
0:31:47 – Mike Malatesta
0:31:48 – Ian Bick
And I just like I just did my Grappaports podcast that comes out on Monday, all these things that have come from prison. It’s not even about the nightclub aspect of it, it’s just prison itself and my age and my look, the way I look, the glasses, the red cheeks, like all of that I was made for what I’m doing now. Gotcha, I was able to figure out, kind of like, what my purpose is.
0:32:13 – Mike Malatesta
And what about the tattoos for people that aren’t watching? You have? You have a shirt on, but you’ve got a lot of tattoos. Is that something that you had before prison?
0:32:24 – Ian Bick
I’ve gotten tattoos before prison and after prison, never in prison.
0:32:28 – Mike Malatesta
0:32:30 – Ian Bick
To me that’s just like art, that symbolizes different time periods in my life, and you know it just my way of like expressing myself. I guess you could say Okay so what are some examples?
Like the old logo for the club. On my chest I have, like baby Simba that Rafiki drew on the tree just to symbolize you know, always remember where you came from. I have quotes like family over everything and live your dream, things like that. It’s all like, very like, motivational, inspirational. I have my podcast logo tattooed on me too, things like that.
0:33:03 – Mike Malatesta
Nice. So I want to get to the podcast because I want to learn from you and I don’t want to spend a lot of time on the prison experience, except for what you think people should know about your particular prison experience or the prison experience in general. Like, is it a horrible experience for you? Is it a learning experience for you? Is it a little bit of both? I just want to get a flavor for how you feel and think about it.
0:33:39 – Ian Bick
I mean, prison is just an interesting topic. I don’t think there are certain prisons that are needed, like the camp situation, the low security prisons. At that point it’s like why is America even incarcerating individuals like this? When it’s at relax, like, okay, is prison a punishment? Yes, but when it’s at facilities like that, I don’t know if it’s really serving its purpose in that, and then it can also be a dangerous place too. I think, overall, the prison system needs to be looked at and there’s a lot of things that need to be fixed. The sentences need to be fixed. How we treat people that are addicted to drugs. Just throwing them in prison isn’t the answer. If anything, it fuels more gasoline onto the fire. Things like that. I think the system is very flawed. Does it have positives? Yes, for certain crimes and certain individuals, but overall I think it’s very negative and it needs to be looked at and there needs to be some change.
0:34:43 – Mike Malatesta
So when you went in, did you feel like you needed to be rehabilitated or just punished, or neither? And when you got out, did you feel that either of those or whatever else was accomplished?
0:34:59 – Ian Bick
I don’t know if it’s rehabilitated or punished. I think it’s more like I needed to learn certain things and I had to learn those on my own. Prison didn’t rehabilitate. Prison didn’t do anything. If anything, it gave me more of a reason to live, because you have to live through something like that, and it gave me more passion and will to survive. But in regards to rehabilitation, there was no one there to help me. I had to figure that out on my own. What I’ve created now is on my own. That wasn’t handed to me. My parents didn’t give that to me. A therapist didn’t give that to me.
That was just me wanting to go against a stigma that if you are a felon or you’re in prison, then that’s all you’re going to be for the rest of your life. So that was my own motivation to go out and do something more. I didn’t want to just be someone that could work at a grocery store or be limited to. I never wanted to walk into a place and the person wouldn’t hire me because I’m a felon. So I wanted to go out and create my own thing, and not everyone can do that, and I acknowledge that this isn’t something. Where you went to prison. You could start a podcast to be successful and I know what I’m doing now is one in a million and I get that and I respect that and I’m grateful for that. But the system’s not helping either. The system’s letting people figure it out on their own and a lot of people are leading back into the things that got them in prison in the first place.
0:36:24 – Mike Malatesta
Was there a person or persons who you met along the way who you felt like mentored you, in your mindset at least, to help you? It sounds like you came out maybe with more confidence than you went in. I mean real confidence in yourself as opposed to I don’t want to say fake confidence of being the man at the parties and stuff, because I don’t want to make that assumption. But were there people who helped you think about yourself differently while you were there?
0:36:54 – Ian Bick
Yeah, I mean I met some great guys. I read a lot of books, read a lot of memoirs of people that were in similar situations and you know, I lost a lot of weight and gained confidence in my body in that sense, and when you go through tough experiences like that, it gives you a thicker skin, it gives you more of an outlook. But I also think, just like working hard for three years after I got out and building something on your own is enough in itself. So I think that changes things too.
0:37:20 – Mike Malatesta
And when you came out you went to work at Whole Foods, so it sounded like I mean that story up until the time you quit sounded like you were, I guess, I don’t know. It doesn’t sound like a person who’s on his way to creating a brand for himself. It sounds like a person who’s sort of just focused on his own, just focused on getting back on his feet.
0:37:44 – Ian Bick
I think I was just focused on proving people wrong, like being able to create success, and that’s what brought me to here. I mean, everything came to fruition at the right time. Timing’s everything too. So I think I had to learn a lot on my own through what I’ve learned and hardworking and just figuring things out and building relationships and going through life and just enjoying it a little bit, I guess, too, and that brought me to here. I think it definitely made. I think if I started this podcast three or four years ago, I would have different intentions than what I have now too. Okay.
0:38:21 – Mike Malatesta
You talked about, I guess, initially having Not wanting to talk about your experience and then having that change at some point where you were like, no, I should start talking about this and doing your TikTok videos, for example. What was there? Someone who said you should start talking about this? Or was it something that you just decided? Or was it the HBO Max thing that came along that wanted to talk to you about your life? What was it?
0:38:51 – Ian Bick
I mean, when I did the HBO Max thing, that wasn’t about prison, but it definitely made me realize a lot of things about my story and what’s happened to me and everything like that but that didn’t really give me major success. The podcast didn’t come from atrio max. The podcast would come nearly two years later.
0:39:08 – Mike Malatesta
I’m talking about the talking about it part, though.
0:39:12 – Ian Bick
I mean my friends. I had a good friend that pushed me to talk about it and I was like you know what, at this point, why not? And then that’s when I noticed that other people are talking about their prison experience and that was the thing that started to make me go viral. Not the nightclub stories, but the prison stories. That’s what people loved.
0:39:36 – Mike Malatesta
Okay, so the nightclub stories, the prison stories got you, your own stories got you sort of used to talking about it, and that led you to wanting to talk to other people about it, because you thought at some point my own story is gonna run out. I can’t keep talking about the same thing over and over again.
0:39:57 – Ian Bick
Yeah, my own prison stories helped build a platform.
0:40:02 – Mike Malatesta
0:40:04 – Ian Bick
That was traumatic experiences that I was able to turn into funny stories are what gave me the platform.
0:40:11 – Mike Malatesta
Okay, and then how do you so with your podcast? Now we said started in January of 2023. And we were talking before we went on. You’re building out a new studio. You say you do in-person stuff. You got the studio. How did you get all this? That’s not. None of that stuff is easy to do. In addition to getting a big following, none of that is easy to do for anybody unless you’re already a super huge name. Like people say, the best time to start a podcast is after you become famous, because then so who?
helped you. How did you put all this? I mean, studios aren’t cheap production is. There’s a lot that goes into it, and you didn’t appear to have much of it before. How did you do it?
0:41:00 – Ian Bick
I had teamed up with these startup guys that own their own production studio in New York and they helped me for a while, up until recently, where I’m going off on my own to build my own studio.
0:41:12 – Mike Malatesta
0:41:13 – Ian Bick
Because I’m thinking long-term now but I would use their studio and their gear and everything and they kind of helped build it up on the technical side of things.
But it’s also just like being consistent, posting every day, not missing a day.
I haven’t missed a single post in one day in a year since I started putting out things like going the extra mile, doing two episodes a week, keeping the high production quality value in a world where everyone is doing the Zoom calls for my genre. I wanted to be different and do in-person. There’s not a lot of, if any, prison content creators that are doing in-person interviews because they’re just not thinking on that level and logistically in because it’s a lot of planning. It’s a lot to get everyone on board and get people with different schedules and plan all that and execute it and roll it out and stuff. It’s a lot and I guess that’s where my background in the entertainment industry comes into play and it’s just relentless hard work, not giving up when views are low certain days, because we’re at the mercy of social media and it’s just a constant grind in doing other people’s podcasts, doing podcasts like this, because it’s not, you can get a few listeners or whatever it is you never know who’s gonna hear your episode that’s gonna bring you on to the next level.
0:42:28 – Mike Malatesta
So how are you getting people to come to your studio? I mean, in some, like Joe Rogan flows, flies people into his studios, right, that kind of takes care of itself. But how do you get the people that you get and how do you expect to continue to get new people to come in person to your studio? Cause, that’s not. It’s as you mentioned. It’s hard, especially if they aren’t all within close proximity of where you are.
0:42:58 – Ian Bick
Yeah, so at first I was paying for everyone’s travel, like the big social media stars that were in the prison genre to help build a brand. Now that I have a platform, people are willing to come here so they can share their story. A lot of the individuals if they have a business, they might look at it as a good investment. I mean, my episodes are getting you know hundreds of thousands of listeners, so they’re looking at it as an opportunity too. It’s like if Joe Rogan called me and said hey, I need you to come out here. You have to pay for your own travel. I’m gonna do it and go out there. So I think people that are looking at me as a Joe Rogan and their eyes on that level, they are willing to come out here, and a lot of times they’re like tri-state area.
0:43:43 – Mike Malatesta
And if it’s?
0:43:44 – Ian Bick
like a. If it’s someone that we’re like, really determined to get on, you know we’ll cover their travel. But we try when we do do that you know you’re flying them in and out same day to save on cost and things of that nature. I remember for months I was doing all the airport pickups myself driving the guests, the airport recording, driving them back, everything like that.
0:44:04 – Mike Malatesta
Okay, and why do you think? Well, two questions your listeners who do they care more about, you or the guest?
0:44:13 – Ian Bick
I think that they like me and they like the way I ask questions and the way that I don’t make the podcast about me.
A lot of podcasts it’s host driven. My podcast is not host driven, it’s just me asking the questions that the people wanna know about. So I think they like my level of questions and like the quirkiness and you know weirdness that I bring to the table and the authenticity behind it, just as much as they love the guests. But there have been some great guests and it’s definitely you know. There are some podcasts where that they can just be host driven and do individual solo episodes. I think with mine, like the, if I sat here every week just talking solo, it wouldn’t work, and if I had a co-host I don’t think that would work either. I think keeping it different every week is what keeps new listeners and the audience engaged, so no one’s getting tired of it.
0:45:14 – Mike Malatesta
And the TikTok videos that you were doing to get started. Those were basically solos, right?
0:45:19 – Ian Bick
Yeah, and you know I got burnt out from that man.
You know like I get tired of doing, you know telling the same stories. You know, probably after this Zoom interview I’m gonna take like a little break from that, because it gets tiring talking about my story all the time. Yeah, I don’t want to do that. That’s why I also don’t like booking with people like months out, like people will be like, hey, can we get you on the podcast two months from now? I might say yes in the moment, but two months from now I might not want to. There’s days when I sign up and I don’t really want to do it. Yeah, it’s just because I’m talking. It’s a lot of similar questions and things like that.
0:45:58 – Mike Malatesta
0:45:58 – Ian Bick
That I don’t you know. That’s already out there. How many times can you tell the same thing Now, if it’s an opportunity for a bigger platform or something that’s different. But it’s less about me and more about the guests now.
0:46:10 – Mike Malatesta
And why is it that people care about your guests? So what do you do that makes people care about people that have been in prison or some of the other types of guests that you have on you? Basically, people have been in the system in some way or another.
0:46:25 – Ian Bick
I mean, these stories are crazy. You know what individuals have been through and you can ask the same person question to these individuals and each one’s gonna have a different answer because they’ve had a different experience. And then also they’re relatable to guests, because our to the viewers, because when we start a person’s childhood, a lot of listeners and viewers are noticing that these individuals that have lived crazy lives have had a similar childhood as them. It’s just that these individuals have gone down a bad path and ended up, you know, with addiction issues or prison, and I think that you know interests people.
0:47:03 – Mike Malatesta
Yeah, it does seem like people are always interested in trying to understand what’s behind people who have these experiences in their lives. It’s like-.
0:47:12 – Ian Bick
0:47:14 – Mike Malatesta
You wanna kind of live vicariously through these people sometimes, cause I think a lot of people feel like doing some of the things that people end up doing when they’re well.
0:47:24 – Ian Bick
That end up in prison, Definitely.
0:47:29 – Mike Malatesta
So you’re now 28,. You’re not on probation any longer. You’re past that.
0:47:37 – Ian Bick
Yeah, I got off last May, last May of 2022.
0:47:41 – Mike Malatesta
Congratulations, thank you. And so where are you still good with your parents? Everything good that way.
0:47:47 – Ian Bick
Yeah, I live in Danbury. Still, you know, 10 minutes from my parents. Start new studios in Danbury.
0:47:53 – Mike Malatesta
0:47:54 – Ian Bick
Yeah, very close relationship with them.
0:47:57 – Mike Malatesta
Okay, good. Well, that’s fantastic, cause. I’m sure that you both need that in your lives, definitely. Do you happen to know a guy named Brett Johnson? Have you ever met Brett Johnson? No, Okay. I’ve had Brett on my show. He was at one time he was the number one FBI most wanted cyber criminal. Oh, wow.
And I think he’s got a. Really he’s a heck of a guy. Theater background you mentioned theater background that I sort of connected that. I think he’s got a great story. He’s got a. He does a podcast with similar with people similar to the ones that you’re talking to. I don’t know that he’s doing in person, but I know he likes to be in person when he does podcasts. He’s the only podcast guest that I ever reached out to who called me right away on my phone instead of emailing me or going through social media. It was, it was, and that says something about somebody like that’s a different kind of person.
0:49:01 – Ian Bick
0:49:02 – Mike Malatesta
Yeah, so anyway, he’s got a great story, brett Johnson. So now 28,. You got. You know the success. You got a new studio. Where are you hoping in the next year to be? What would make you happy if you looked back from where are we? September 2023? So from September 2024, and you looked back over that period till now? What would? What would have to have happened for you to be like? This is the way I want it to be.
0:49:27 – Ian Bick
You know, just continuing to grow, and that’s another reason why I got my own studio, because I felt like I was in a stagnant place and I’m making adjustments in my life that keep me happy. The old studio was an hour away. It wasn’t making me happy anymore to drive out there. I want to be able to work on my time now that I’m like the face of it. I don’t want to shoot more than one podcast in one day to work around someone else’s schedule and give up the quality of it.
Yeah, as long as I’m able to continue to do this and do it on my schedule and be happy while doing it. I never want to be. I don’t want to have that headspace where it’s miserable to show up and sit down and do this. So now I just want to be comfortable and continue to do it and fine tune my skills and then grow it to the next level continue to grow, and is this 100% of what you’re doing, or are you into other things as well? No, this is now my full-time job now.
0:50:19 – Mike Malatesta
So you are 100% committed to this podcast.
0:50:22 – Ian Bick
Yeah, 100%. That’s amazing, it’s weird to think about. Yeah, when you tell someone you’re a podcaster, people don’t really know what that is, because it’s very hard to break out in this field and to do it, so it’s exciting If I was able to pull this off just starting in January. Imagine five years from now where it could be.
0:50:45 – Mike Malatesta
Yeah, well, you said one in a million and it’s definitely one in a million because there are millions of podcasts and there are very few that jump out like that, especially if you’re not that celebrity first podcast.
0:50:57 – Ian Bick
Yeah, you know. I found something that no one else was doing in the format. I’m doing it and in a world where there’s a podcast for everything, there was not a podcast for my specific concept. Then I got lucky it was timing, it was meant to be, and now I’m running with it.
0:51:17 – Mike Malatesta
So the Well, I guess I’ll just ask you. So we are doing a Zoom here and you’re doing the in-persons and I’ve been doing a podcast longer than you have, but my podcast isn’t on the trajectory that yours is, so what advice would you give me?
0:51:32 – Ian Bick
I mean, this is just me, because it’s my personal preference.
I think the biggest way to stand out is by doing in-person interviews, because when you look at a world that COVID created and just what everyone else is doing, everyone is doing the Zoom interviews. I get countless requests for Zoom interviews and you have to look at it as so. There’s two things to look at it. One is your topic and subject matter, and that’s an easy to fix issue when you look at it, because then you just figure out what the competition is doing. You guys can have the same subject, but how do you come up with better questions, better guess, anything like that.
Then the second aspect is production quality and how do you stand out?
And I think we’re in a day and age where video is huge and you need to edit video content, video podcast, to promote it, and Zoom just doesn’t do the trick to get that out there to people, quality wise, Any of these sites like that which is why I won’t do Zoom interviews for my podcast throw it up on TikTok, do things that at the level it needs to be Just my opinion from a production standpoint. And then also I found a lot of success in getting guests that no one else is getting before. You don’t want to do the same guess that everyone has on. You want people that have original stories, so when someone stumbles off across it then they could recommend and be like, wow, I’ve never heard this person story before and they share that with someone else.
0:53:09 – Mike Malatesta
Yeah, okay, and do you think you’ll ever run out of? As niched as you are? Do you think you’ll ever run out of I mean, you obviously won’t run out of people who’ve been in the system, but will you run out of stories that resonate with the people listening? Or do you think that they’ll be like oh, I’ve heard a guy like that before, I’ve heard a gal like that before, or do you think it’s what? Do you think?
0:53:34 – Ian Bick
I don’t think it ever runs out. I think everyone has their own little version of events that are traumatic experiences and I think there’s going to be entertainment and, regardless of that, and that’ll also be motivation. I don’t see it ever. I think there’s always. You know, people have different lived experiences. I mean, it’s no different than like a sports podcast where you know you see that play happen that they report on thousands of times, but you know it’s a different team that does it. Or it’s no different than like someone breaks out of a prison. That’s happened a thousand times but the media goes crazy over it every time it happens.
So I think it’s like they are done, yeah, so I think it depends on in the moment and you’re also going to have new generations of people, new waves of people and new listeners all the time.
0:54:24 – Mike Malatesta
So you don’t know who you’re going to reach.
0:54:25 – Ian Bick
That’s the power of social media. Yeah okay, makes sense.
0:54:29 – Mike Malatesta
Well, ian, before we leave, I just have one final question for you. Is there anything that you want to leave the audience with that I should have asked you about, or you wish I had asked you about? I know I’ve probably asked you questions that you’re tired of answering, but is there anything that you’d like to leave us with that I haven’t brought up?
0:54:47 – Ian Bick
No, I’m not tired of it. It was nice to meet you and it was a great conversation. You definitely asked some different questions that are usually not asked, which is always good, but I, you know I appreciate the time to get to speak to your audience and you know I wish you the best with what you have going on.
0:55:05 – Mike Malatesta
Yeah, and you as well. I’m very excited to see what happens with your future because, yeah, you’re a one in a million, maybe you’re a one in 10 million, you might be just one in 10 million.
0:55:17 – Ian Bick
Whatever it is, I’m grateful and I just got to keep running with it and keep going on the path I’m going down.
0:55:24 – Mike Malatesta
Sounds good. Good luck, Ian. Thanks so much for being on the show. I really enjoy getting to know you a little bit. Thanks for having me, man.
0:55:29 – Ian Bick
0:55:29 – Mike Malatesta
Thanks for listening to this show and before you go, I just have three requests for you. One, if you like what I’m doing.
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