From the guy who produced one of the most viral commercials on YouTube — garnering over 40 million views — comes the most crowdfunded movie or television project of all time, The Chosen. This man is no other than Derral Eves, and he’s here again on Marketing Speak to share some of his genius ideas. Derral was a previous guest on this show, episode #190. If you’re interested in YouTube and how its algorithms work, that episode is definitely worth listening to, and you can find it at www.marketingspeak.com/190.
Derral is the CEO and founder of Creatus, a video marketing and strategy company. He has helped 30 YouTube channels go from zero to more than a million subs (that’s subscribers in YouTuber parlance) and he helped generate over 80 billion views on YouTube.
He is the Wall Street Journal best-selling author of The YouTube Formula: How Anyone Can Unlock the Algorithm to Drive Views, Build an Audience, and Grow Revenue. Derral is also the founder and executive producer of The Chosen, the first-ever multi-season series about the life of Jesus.
In this episode, we talk about the makings of disruptive content, how to run a successful business amidst the challenges, and why humility is the secret to staying power in this competitive world. Derral also shared his insights and lessons learned from producing The Chosen, which impressively scored on Rotten Tomatoes 100% with critics and 99% with the audiences.
So without further ado, on with the show!
In This Episode
- [00:20] – Stephan welcomes to today’s show Derral Eves, CEO of Creatus, an episode all about creating content that helps businesses succeed in a competitive industry.
- [02:10] – Derral discusses his early fascination with videos and the viral video he collaborated with Squatty Potty.
- [03:53] – Derral speaks more about his passion project, The Chosen – how it started and was funded.
- [12:10] – Is Derral a faith-driven entrepreneur?
- [13:42] – Stephan and Derral describe being a steward of God and valuing time more.
- [17:40] – Derral elaborates on receiving gifts from God, similar to what they do in their Manna Marketing Program of The Chosen.
- [20:22] – After Stephan discusses some things he learned about miracles from Kabbalah, Derral jumps in to discuss the most important thing an individual can learn while on Earth.
- [25:18] – Derral recalls a time when he was put under financial duress with his team, prompting Stephan to share one of the most important life lessons he has learned.
- [32:33] – What exactly is the parable of the talents about?
- [36:18] – Stephan recommends a book to Derral that the listeners should also consider.
- [39:03] – Derral mentions his experiences as God’s instrument.
- [46:27] – How do we discover and apply our talents in God’s service?
- [48:13] – Be inspired and learn more on how to be God’s instrument through The Chosen TV Series at thechosen.tv, also available on YouTube and TikTok. Follow Derral Eves’ journey on his website, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
Derral, it’s so great to have you on the show.
Hey, I’m excited to be here.
First of all, for our listeners who are not familiar with that reference to pooping unicorns, give us a little bit of your backstory around the whole viral video stuff and YouTube because you are a pretty famous Youtuber, founder of VidSummit, and many, many viewers.
We’re still counting. I think we’re up to 86 billion now.
I’ve been obsessed with YouTube since 2005 when I discovered it, and I’ve always had a fascination with video. I’ve built a career and an agency around helping brands or creators get their videos out there, get more eyeballs, and then convert those eyeballs into money.
One of the things I started to cut my teeth into is working with mom-and-pop shops. I did a lot of SEO back in the early days of 2006–2007 getting those videos to rank on Google. It was just a lot easier back then. Then ultimately, my desire was just to do bigger videos that people would talk about.
I had an opportunity to work with Jeffrey Harmon. I was telling him about an idea of a client that he wanted to collaborate on. I was the executive producer with Jeffrey on the Squatty Potty Pooping Unicorn Ad. It’s a pretty amazing ad. It did about $48 million in attributed sales in that first year and really leveled up the company. It really just shows you the impact of what video can do.
I built a career on doing just really interesting audience development strategies with content and then really finding ways to monetize which led me to my passion project which is The Chosen which I’m really excited about.
Amazing. It broke records like the highest-grossing crowdfunded movie or television project of all time. How did that come about? First of all, how did you end up becoming the executive producer and founder of that project, and then how did it get so well-funded?
Yeah, great question. Jeffrey Harmon who was also the executive producer of the Squatty Potty Pooping Unicorn Ad was one of the co-founders of Harmon Brothers, an ad agency. We worked on probably five or six different projects together over the course of our careers.
We had this really healthy balance between the ad-generated type of funneling which is what Jeffrey does, and I do more organic ad integration type of stuff.
We did a keynote at a conference I have called VidSummit about Squatty Potty and used that as a case study. Every year, I invite my keynotes to come back. I just say if you have an unlimited passion, come back every year. Thank you for contributing.
The next year, I said, “Hey, Jeffrey, are you coming?” He’s like, “No, not this year.”Everyone of us has unique talents we can all share into the world. Whatever that talent is, the one goal we should all have is to expand and improve it. Click To Tweet
I just went about my business as usual with VidSummit. It’s a great conference and gets things going. On the day of the conference, I got this text message. Jeffrey says, “Hey, is my ticket still good?” I’m like, yeah. He goes, “Okay, I’m going to get on the plane.”
He flew from Utah down to California for the event and he literally tried to hunt me down in the lobby. Here I am trying to put on an event for thousands of people, and he’s like, “Derral, you got to come watch this video.” I’m like, couldn’t he have just emailed me? What’s going on here?
I didn’t have time for it. I went to walk away and I just thought, you know what, he actually just took a plane to show me a video. The least I can do is to take a look at it. I said, how long is it? He says it’s about 19 minutes. I said, “Let’s go and find a place where we can watch the video.”
We went into a little conference room. He had this nine-inch Chromebook. It’s not the most optimal thing to watch anything. The sound was horrible, but we were in that room.
A creator made a very unique piece of content. It’s a short film that he did for the Christmas Eve service of the church. It was basically showing the Nativity and the birth of Jesus Christ, but it was completely different. It was done through the perspective of the shepherds.
When I first started watching, I’m like, oh man, this is really, really interesting. I noticed two things. Number one, it was extremely low budget—I could see it right out of the gate—but the character development was really good. I’m like, man, who is this creator? Jeffrey goes, well, who I want you to meet with is this creator.
We’re just watching it, and so on and so forth. We get about, I’d say, 14 minutes into it, and then there’s a knock at the door. I’m trying to put on an event. They’re like, we need you right now, so I had to leave. Jeffrey’s like, “Well, you can’t go. You got to finish it out. This is the best part.” I said, “Look, I know where this is going. I want to be a part of this. You know me. You know my heart’s for Jesus. I just got to do it.” He says, “Good, I want you to meet the creator the Monday after VidSummit.”
We finished up VidSummit. I actually ended up watching the end of that. He gave me a link and I watched it a little bit more in-depth. I watched it a couple of times and really, really loved it. I was really touched by it. It spoke to me a lot deeper.
That next Monday, I flew up to Provo. That’s where this creator was in. I was able to meet him for the first time and it was Dallas Jenkins. He was telling me about an idea that he had to create a TV series about the life of Jesus Christ. It would be similar to what The Shepherd was. It was more through the eyes of those that surrounded Jesus. The TV show would be about that.
The first thing I was thinking about was if this guy could do this amazing project with a minimal budget, what would happen if he had $1 million per episode or even $2 million an episode? What could we do there? We floated the idea.
That’s where Jeffrey was starting a new company that they’re doing, Angel Studios. They were going to be the distributor. They have a business, but they needed someone to work with this guy to become his partner.
We hit it off immediately that first day. Our hearts were really to get Jesus out to the world. Ultimately, he shared his vision. I shared my background which was audience development, getting people to see things, and converting them into money, and it was like a match made in heaven.
The goal is to share the message, define what that message is, and then create an opportunity to crowdfund.
That day, I called up my wife. I said, “Hey, we’re going to be spending quite a bit of money to buy this show, this short film. A lot of money is going to be coming out of our bank account. We’re just starting a business.” She’s like, “Okay, it’s for Jesus, that’s all good.”
That’s how it started. We actually started with zero money in the bank and zero social followings, and then we did quite a bit to gather some seed money, but the whole goal is really to share the message, really define what that message is, and then create an opportunity to crowdfund. But we didn’t want to crowdfund it the normal way. We didn’t want to crowdfund it on Kickstarter. We thought to really disrupt Hollywood was to get approval from the Securities Exchange Commission and take public money.
We actually applied for Reg A. There are a lot of different steps that you need to go through, and we did. We actually created our video campaign where we showed The Shepherd—the show that impacted me—and then put a pitch to it of getting people that were interested to back us so we could prove to the Securities Exchange Commission that we had enough backed interest. Then, that led to filing and then ultimately getting 19,000 people to be involved with the vision and see the vision of a television show.
That broke the all-time crowdfunded record at that moment. Since then, we’ve just been adding to it and we’ve been crowdfunding every season. We’re actually in production of season three right now. We did all of season one and season two, and now we’re in season three that’s completely funded by crowdfunding.
It’s a pretty amazing model, but it goes to show that today, there’s a thirst for really great content. If you really know how to speak your message, get the vision, and then produce high-quality content, people are going to get it out there. That’s where we’ve been able to see this viral feedback where people come on and they’d recommend it to five or six other people. As they’re coming into the system, they’re being more engaged.
I honestly believe everything that I did in work and business, all my successes and failures led up to the moment where I was able to be a part of The Chosen.
I know that was a pretty long answer to the question, but that’s how I got involved with this project. It’s been quite the journey ever since. From that moment, it was making decisions on how to best navigate this to get it out to the world.
Amazing. Did you have experience in crowdfunding or filing for Regulation A?
No. I didn’t have experience in working with the Securities Exchange Commission at all, so that was something new that we had to go into. Man, I didn’t know how much paperwork, details, and stuff actually gets into it because you have to do audits and all this other stuff to make everything public because it is taking public money.
But for crowdfunding, yes, I did that fairly early in my career working with YouTubers and content creators to crowdfund on their passion projects. I saw the power of an audience in knowing what it would take to actually get them to back it, which is you have to have credibility for sure. You just can’t just throw it out there, take their money, and run. If you really want to impact the world, you got to do it the right way.
We tried to dot every I’s, cross every T’s, and do it in a way where the crowd felt a part of the project from day one. Something that I’ve been preaching and teaching for a very long time in crowdfunding and also audience development is to leverage the audience so they feel like they’re a part of it, that they’re partners—which they are—and then they go and share. That created that first seed of interest in getting people to see the show which led to a compounding effect to get more people to go on launch.
Amazing. Would you describe yourself as a faith-driven entrepreneur?
I definitely would be a faith-driven person first. I want to clarify that. I think faith in a relationship with God and Jesus is my highest priority and then it’s my relationship with my family. I feel like I was inspired to create. I was inspired to do things. I honestly do believe everything that I did in work and business and all my successes and failures led up to the moment where I was able to be a part of The Chosen.
God gives us talents that He expects us to master and expand.
There are not too many projects that you can do that really have this type of impact. I can see the impact that happens in my own family and then on other people. We get thousands and thousands of DMs, messages, and emails every day from people that were really impacted by the show.
For me, I would say I’m God-centered first. Then, I do believe that God is a part of what He teaches. There’s a parable about talents. I think that God gives all of us, His sons and daughters, talents that He expects us to master and expand. We have stewardships. Not everyone in the world has this entrepreneurial drive, but I do. He knows me. He knows what I need to do. I have to be a part of pushing the envelope, disrupting the norm, and doing things differently.
It’s interesting you brought up the word stewardship. I’m reading a book right now called Faith Driven Entrepreneur. The author in chapter three was talking about how we are a steward and not an owner of our assets. We might tithe 10%, but it’s actually 100% that is God’s.
If you take that approach, on one hand, it’s a responsibility because now you’re using God’s money—all of it is God’s money—but on another hand, it takes a lot of the pressure off because you’re not producing results on your own. You’re working for God. God’s pulling the strings and making things happen for you. You’re just a willing and hopefully enthusiastic participant and steward. I’m curious what your thoughts are on that.
For sure. I believe there are a lot of people that feel the same way. It’s like, okay, everything that I have comes from God.
I think the biggest thing is our time. If we’re to put as much value on anything, time is the most important. What are we doing to build up the kingdom? What are we doing to develop our relationship with Him? We can throw money or we can say, hey, we’re doing this for God’s whatever, but ultimately, He wants our hearts, dedication, time, and even the most simple things during the day of doing His will where He’s maybe prompting us, we get a feeling to go talk to someone, engage with someone, or help someone. That is the highest priority, I think, as a disciple. A different relationship that you have is once you become a disciple, you’re going out and doing. I think that’s really important.
We believe that a billion people deserve to see an authentic Jesus that will lead them to their knees and lead them into the Bible.
The second thing would be in this space. If your heart is turned and you believe like I do that all I have is God’s, is not mine, and I’m a steward of it, how best to utilize it and how best to navigate and impact people’s lives with what He gave me is really, really important. I take it as a high priority.
What’s been really nice is having a partner that feels the same way. We’re not in it for the money, I can tell you that right now. We’ve invested way too much energy, time, and effort into this. It’s not about the money. It’s about making something that people can have a deeper relationship with Jesus.
Our goal is to get The Chosen out to a billion people. We want a billion people to see The Chosen. The reason why is because we believe that a billion people deserve to see an authentic Jesus that will lead them to their knees and lead them into the Bible.
This will answer your question here, but there are moments of letting go. A common theme that’s been happening for the last 4 ½ years of doing this project is we feel like we’re the children of Israel who fled Egypt, the Pharaoh changed his mind, gathered his armies, and was coming after the children of Israel, Moses, and Aaron, and the children of Israel were at the Red Sea.
We have these moments that we call ‘Red Sea moments’ where you come to the Red Sea, it’s impossible to cross, you look back, the army is about to take you over, it’s completely out of your control, and you literally don’t have anything else except for a miracle.
I can honestly say we had very pivoted times—probably 7, 8, or 9 of those moments every year—for the last 4 ½ years. We get to a moment where we cannot turn. We were at a point where all we could do was look up and wait for that miracle.
They keep showing up, don’t they?
Red Sea moments are moments that are impossible to cross, but you don’t have anything else except for a miracle.
The miracles always come, and it’s just at the right moment. We just had to submit, realizing it’s not us. It’s God’s work and we had to back off. We’d have those miracle moments and we were able to cross like the children of Israel on dry ground.
There was another part of that which is really interesting. I think that we feel like we’re still on this. After the children of Israel were in the desert, they had a gift every day because trying to feed millions of people is hard. They can’t just carry all this stuff, so they had manna drops from heaven which in Hebrew means gift from God. If you stored it and whatever, it’d rot, so you had to every day have your hands out waiting to receive.
That’s what we call our marketing program at The Chosen. It’s the Manna Marketing Program because we only get what we need for doing whatever we’re doing and nothing more where we always have to put our hand out and wait for God to provide. That’s been a part of The Chosen for the last 4 ½ years. Even to this day, we have some very big decisions and things that we’re going over and we’re once again hanging our hands up because we don’t know exactly what we need to do. We just know that we need to be patient. We pitch our tents. We’re just waiting for that manna to fall. Those moments just have been really clear on this path.
It’s tough, especially pushing your ego aside like, hey, we’re all accomplished and thinking that we can come in and save the day, and then realize we’re nothing. We are literally nothing. All we need to do is to be contrite, be humble, and be willing to receive, and God has always provided.
When we needed a specific person for a position, God already prepared them. We just needed to wait to see them show up.
It’s not like we weren’t doing our part. I think we needed to go out, shake the trees, and see what’s going on, but it was always someone who was being led to help us. I can’t tell you how many people. We get random emails, texts, or DMs that say, hey, if you’ve ever connected with this person, then this person was totally being prepared by God to help us, or this person over here was able to do something that we couldn’t even do but yet someone felt led to inform us. But we still had to reach out and get there.
God has been through this project in every aspect. I think this is really important. Myself and my partner, Dallas, if everything went away tomorrow and that was God’s will, we would be okay with it. We would honestly be okay with it because we’re just here to do what He wants us to do. It could all go away tomorrow and if that’s what He wants, then we’re happy with that. We just want to do His will.
Yeah. There’s some wisdom from, I think, the Old Testament. It’s along these lines. If God doesn’t want it for me, I don’t want it either. If God wants it for me, then I want it too.
This is something I learned from Kabbalah. Let me share this with you. A miracle isn’t defined as when the impossible becomes possible. A miracle is defined as removing the illusionary veils that don’t allow us to see the light in every experience and moment—the light of God, of course. What are you thinking about that?
Definitely. I think that the biggest thing that we can learn here on Earth is faith and what faith really is. I’ve studied what faith is, the depths of it from the Bible stories, and so on. It’s just trying to really grasp what’s going on.
I do believe that there are a lot of people out there that have faith in God. It’s just pure faith that they know that God can do anything and they have faith in that as well. I do believe though—and this is me personally, this is how I feel—that God expects us to have faith in ourselves too, that confidence, not only in hearing His word but acting upon His word. Sometimes, we might have all faith in God and we’ll wait for Him to come do the miracles, but sometimes, He expects us to give us the impression to go do. That’s where we need to drop things, just go out, and do.
Sometimes God expects us to give the impression to go do. That’s where we need to drop things, go out, and do.
That’s something that I was grateful that my dad taught me of just praying, listening, and being willing to be molded and to be utilized to be God’s hands in whatever He wanted me to do. But it takes faith to actually do it.
There are a lot of people that follow and they’re great followers through their faith, but personally—these are just my thoughts—I think that that’s just not enough. I think that you need to become a disciple. A disciple goes out and does. That disciple is someone that acts upon their faith and also their faith in God.
That’s something that I do agree upon. That’s something that I don’t think is easy for people. It gets difficult. They’re easy to pray with their hearts and their lips, but to go out and do is more intrusive, more invasive, and more awkward. Even with myself, as much as I do, it still doesn’t take away the awkwardness of doing some of the things that I’m asked to do.
Yeah. We live in a world of action and we are expected to take action. It reminds me of a story of a man in a flood stuck on his rooftop. Do you know about this story?
I’d love to hear it again, but yes, I’ve heard this story.
He was praying to God for help. Soon, a man in a rowboat comes by and shouts to him, jump in, I can save you. The man shouts, no, I’m praying to God and He’s going to save me.
The rowboat and the guy left, and then the motorboat came by. The same thing, jump in, I’ll save you. No, thanks. I’m praying to God. He’s going to save me. I have faith.
The motorboat went by, a helicopter came by, and the pilot shouted, grab this rope, I’ll lift you to safety. Nope, I’m going to pray to God and He’s going to save me. I have faith. Then, the helicopter flew away, the water rose, and the man drowned.
He went to heaven and then showed up at the Pearly Gates. The guy finally gets his chance to discuss the situation with God. The man said, I had faith in you, but you didn’t save me. You let me drown. I don’t understand why. Then God replied, I sent you a rowboat, a motorboat, and a helicopter. What more did you expect?
Sometimes we are caught up in that we don’t see His hand, and we don’t see the opportunities, too.
I love that. For sure. I think all of us can relate at one time or another to the guy on the roof. I really do. Sometimes, we’re so caught up in it and we’re so involved that we don’t see His hand and we don’t see the opportunities too.
I’ve been guilty of that on multiple occasions. That’s where we just have to surrender. That is really the key to just surrendering yourself and then being patient but looking at what God’s hand really is. As these people come to save, you could be saved right then and there. That should be a sign from God. You just need to change your process and surrender what your understanding of how God’s going to help you is going to be because you don’t know what that is. I think that you just need to be open to receive, and that’s completely surrendering yourself.
Yeah. Also, as a corollary to that, when you see something that you don’t like or didn’t want, be grateful for that too because the hand of God is in that as well. You just haven’t zoomed out far enough to see how it’s for your highest and best good.
Could I mention something that happened to me personally? Very, very much an entrepreneur. My skill set is I like to build a team, and then they all do specific tasks. I had someone embezzle almost $1 million from the company. It was so hard. When I found out, it put us in financial pressure personally from the company, and then on top of it, we owe the IRS a whole bunch of money. There’s just this compound really, really big tribulation. It’s someone that I really, really trusted, and it was really, really hard because I really love the individual a lot.
I don’t know why they did it or whatever, but it created a really big problem for me, my company, and all my employees because of that happening. I hit a low, Stephan, where I was trying to process a lot. I was literally broken from trust and just everything that was going on. All this pressure was coming on. I just needed to get back into understanding where I was at.
It was definitely one of the hardest times of my life. It was one of those things that haunted me for a very long time. Just because it happened to you doesn’t mean that you’re out of your obligations and you have to go from there, so it was a really, really intense couple of years.
For me, I look back at that moment and I honestly was like the guy on the roof. It’s like, what’s going on here? Are you going to help me? What’s happening here? I do believe that by looking at and knowing how I navigated the decisions that I made and how it was able to get me a deeper relationship with my wife and also with God, I was able to see it differently.
If I look back—it’s been well over 15 years or something like that—that was a very pivotal point in my journey. I’m here to tell you that I wouldn’t be here today without it. I would not be working on The Chosen because what happened next after that is I had to innovate. I had to go in a completely different, accelerated direction, and something that wasn’t going in this direction.
It caused me to go into YouTube which caused me to do all this other stuff. It literally made me pivot. It was a hard thing to endure, but I’m here to tell you that I could see God’s hand all over it. Even though the intensity and the weight were there and sometimes we didn’t look up, I just had faith that He would take care of it. I just needed to get me mentally back into the game, and then I needed to go where He wanted me to go. It was a total pivot from where my company was going.
Luckily, we got through it and we got through all that, but it helped solidify a few things that I needed to do to be a better steward, disciple, husband, and father. It really helped me define that. I would never, ever give up that time because it helped refine me to do what I needed to do and it put me in the direction where I could make the decisions to be where I’m at today.A disciple goes out and does - someone who acts upon their faith and faith in God. Click To Tweet
Wow. Amazing. Thank you so much for sharing that. I’ll share my story too that is a little bit similar. I lost seven figures in December, and that was pretty devastating. That was my own fault. That was my greed and hubris—doing margin trading and crypto. I got leveraged out. It was devastating, but it showed me a big lesson in humility and working collaboratively with my wife rather than trying to do it on my own and working around her or behind her back. It also gave me a lot of important lessons and discernment.
Where am I getting my information from? Am I going into my heart to see if this is true or is this right and not just trying to be too clever? That was a big mess, and we’re still experiencing it. I’m managing to dig out of it, but it is a slow process. It was a lot of money and a big, big lesson. Would I change it? Would I undo it?
I think we all need these big lessons. We really do. Part of it is how do we process it and what do we do next? That’s where I personally love the relationship I have with Jesus because when He endured everything for us, He just didn’t endure the sins portion of it but also the tribulations.
God can give us clarity if we are willing to receive it.
During my dark phase and even today, it’s just knowing that He endured that. He understands what I’m going through and He can give me clarity if I’m willing to receive. Ultimately, that has helped me get through some hard times. It just doesn’t take everything away but the weight of it. I don’t know if you felt that in your experience now, but just the weight of knowing God’s put you in the right direction and you’re taking the right steps is a little bit of ease, but it’s not completely solved. You still got to do your part to dig yourself out or have the Lord help you dig yourself out of the situation.
Yeah. It is a collaboration. God is truly my business partner. I did not assume. I asked Him and I waited for Him to say yes. And I did receive a yes. Things have been miraculous ever since.
Miracles never stop. The blessings are abundant. Whether they’re revealed to us or not is the question. It’s all a blessing, but has the blessing been revealed or not? I feel like in this case that my money loss was already revealed as a blessing. I would not undo it even though it was only—at the time of this recording—six months ago. It’s such a gift to be able to learn a powerful lesson like this. Humility, discernment, collaboration with my wife, collaboration with God, and not being too big for my britches, that lesson is priceless. It’s worth so much more than $1 million. You can’t put a price on it.
You mentioned a little while ago a parable about talents. Can you elaborate a bit more on that parable?
Yeah. It’s been my go-to parable when it comes to business because I think God gives us things to have stewardship over. It’s a parable that Jesus taught about different servants that had different types of talents that they were given.
One of the first things that stood out to me was nobody was ever given the same. There’s a little bit of variation between it, but the goal was could they see an increase. There are different people. They had one that buried the talents in the ground. You can’t increase something if you just stash it aside. That itself has led me to what God expects us to do with the talents that He gives us. These are talents that are innate in our spirit. It’s like, hey, we need to develop those, but more so, we need to gain other talents.
Let me just give you a couple of examples. I think that we’re inclined to be who we are. It’s our nature and it’s in our spirit, but I think God wants us to have to increase our talents. If we’re not strong in something, then we need to learn how to become strong with His help, of course, It’s just more about expanding who we are. As we expand who we are, we’re able to help Him even more by helping ourselves first by increasing ourselves in that realm.
I’m always on a quest to learn. I think learning is the best way to increase talents. If you’re only just doing the day-to-day where you’re getting up, just doing your life or whatever, and not learning, I think you’re missing out on really developing your talents. It’s just more putting your talents in the ground in that sense if you’re not really expanding.If you know how to speak your message, get the vision, and produce high-quality content, people will get it out there. Click To Tweet
I’m obsessed with reading, learning, and watching content that can help me elevate myself to really find ways to improve. Luckily, I had some great mentors along the way; my grandfather, father, very successful people out there, and then two people that I went to school with, people that helped me change my perspective on something.
My dad gave me some of the best advice when it comes to increasing talents and what to learn. This goes back to show that we got to have humility. He says, “Derral, every person that you come in contact with can teach you something that makes you a better person. You just need to be open to see what that is and not let your arrogance and candor interfere with what they can teach you.”
I’ve met people that I’m like, there’s not one thing that they can teach me ever just because I wasn’t on the same thing. Then, I just take a step back and I’m like, no, they need to teach me something. Sometimes, they’re just teaching me more patience with the situation with them.
Part of discipleship is learning and refining.
But I think that’s what we need to be. As you become a follower of God, you got to follow and you got to do. When you start to do, that’s when you become a disciple. Part of discipleship is really learning and refining. It can be like Paul of Old as he discovered who Jesus was and is. He refined himself to be a very powerful disciple that brought thousands to Jesus. The key is really knowing where we’re at and knowing that we’re incomplete but willing to work on ourselves to get us to where we need to be. Then, of course, using God’s grace. We always need grace to help us get through that, but hopefully, we can refine, take that knowledge, and become something greater.
Yeah. When you’re praying too, remember that humility, mistakes, mishaps, and falling short that you’ve been doing so that you’re not coming from a place of arrogance when you’re making your prayer to God.
You mentioned you’re an avid reader. I strongly encourage you to read this book if you haven’t already. It’s called You Were Born For This by Bruce Wilkinson. He’s also the author of The Prayer of Jabez.
I’ll put that on my list.
Are you familiar with this book?
No, I’m not.
I think you’re going to enjoy that. The gist of it is we can deliver God’s miracles. It starts with simple volunteering just like Isaiah did in verse 6:8 of The Book of Isaiah. He showed up at the feet of God and then he said, Here I am, Lord, please send me. Essentially, he’s interrupting a board meeting between God and Archangels who deliver which, where, when, and how miracles, and here’s the little Isaiah saying, send me too.
You can do that. When you make that request, God delivers. You just have to be ready to take that action that might feel uncomfortable. It’s like okay, here’s a stranded motorist. I never stop, but I’m feeling the nudge to do it. Okay, I’m going to do it. Or maybe you’re used to giving $5 to a homeless person, but this time, you’re instructed or nudged by this still small voice to give everything in your wallet.
This happened to a friend of mine. I’m in a group of entrepreneurs. We read books together, and that was one of the books we read. It was You Were Born For This. He reports back on one of our bi-weekly meetings on Zoom that he did that with a lady who was the waitress at the diner where he and his family were eating.
Everything in his wallet was $109. He tells the lady, how does a $109 tip sound to you? He could just feel that she was struggling and he felt the nudge, so he acted on it. She started sobbing and she showed the text message exchange between her and her mom. It said something like this, “Daughter, I need $109 for my meds. I can’t afford it. Please help me out.”
Just the right amount.
Her daughter writes back, “I don’t have it. I can’t even meet my own bills. I’m sorry.” That was that day. It’s miraculous. It’s amazing. You can be part of it on a regular basis.
I love hearing stories like that. I alluded to this a little bit earlier. One thing that I was saying to be His hands and to go from there is being willing to help. Luckily, my dad has taught his children—especially me as he had mentored me along my childhood—to pray to be open to see what God needed you to do.
There’s one thing of just feeling the nudge but to actively pray for it and then actively seek it is the difference between just doing it occasionally and then doing it like, here, God, take me or let me do it. You’re just volunteering every day. Hey, just prompt me on what I need to do.In crowdfunding and audience development, you need to leverage your audience so they feel like they're a part of it - that they're partners - so that they will go and share. Click To Tweet
Luckily, I had some really amazing experiences. Some are too personal that I would want to share publicly. There was one when I was going through school. I would always in my prayers just say, hey, if You need me to do something, just let me know and I’ll be aware. Just prompt me and I’ll go and do.
When I was going through school, I was working nights. I work from 9 PM until 6 AM, and then I’d drive down, kiss my wife and newborn baby, and then drive up to the university which was about 40 miles away. I put about 100 miles on my car every day just because of where I was at. I was up in Zion National Park and then I’d go up to Cedar City to school.
I was a walking zombie because my classes were spread out and my day would end at school at about 5 PM. It’s about the time I’d drive home. I get home at 6 PM, and then I’d be back up at 9 PM. That was my schedule at the time.
I remember very vividly praying that I would be open to helping God in any way. He just needed to inspire me. He knew my situation.
I was coming out of class and I had to go to the opposite side of campus. It was between classes. I am always almost late to that class every single time. I felt very hurried between classes just because the other teacher was very strict with anyone that was coming in late. Even if it was the university, they didn’t care.
Anyway, I go to leave. I’m really ready to just put my backpack on and start running so I wouldn’t be late. I turned, and as I put my backpack on, I just noticed someone out of the corner of my eye. I turned over there and I felt inclined to stop and go talk to him. Here I was, I was like, okay, here’s where I’m at. Something that my dad taught me is we’ll get all these impressions, but we can have confirmations for those impressions too. I’m like, God, is that where I need to go? I felt that’s where I needed to go. That was that tug that you felt.
I went over and talked to him. The first thing that came out of my mouth was Jesus loves you. I’m like, that’s the weirdest thing. Here’s some random guy that I said to him, hey, Jesus loves you.
The look on his face—he just went pale and he started to cry. He goes, I needed that today. We just sat and talked. I totally missed my class because that’s where I needed to be at that moment. I didn’t know what was going on with that guy’s life. I had no idea. I just knew that that’s where I needed to spend my time.
With the craziness, I left. We hugged and whatever and just went. He was just having some struggles in school and with family things. We were able to talk. We exchanged email addresses. That night, I was at the hotel during the night-out audit. I got this email coming in and it’s from that guy.
The guy says, “hey, you probably won’t know this, but I need to tell you the full story. That day before I went to school, I was pleading to God to basically prove that You exist. If not, I’m taking my life by the end of the day. You were able to come up and say that God loves you. It’s just an affirmation that God lives, and He works through others. I am so grateful for you because now I know that He lives through your actions.”
That solidified me at a very, very young age to always try to do that. Now, Stephan, I’ll be honest with you, life is busy, and sometimes, you get out of the groove and you get so in the world, but what we need to do is stop and really ask to be God’s hands to whatever He wants us to do. We have to be willing to do it. I think the more that we’re willing to do it, the more opportunities we have.
That journey has helped me witness God impact people’s lives. I’ve been able to witness things that I would never see otherwise. It helps strengthen my relationship with God and it helps strengthen my relationship with the person. It’s just beautiful. I just wish everyone would experience it that way.If you want to impact the world, you have to do it right. Trying to dot every I's, cross every T's, and do it in a way where the crowd felt a part of the project from day one. Click To Tweet
You did something really important just there. It’s the last step in the process that Bruce Wilkinson teaches in his book, and that is to transfer the credit back to God. It’s really easy to take in all these ego boosts like, oh, you saved my life or you made such a difference for me. It’s like, well, it was God who did it. I’m not even saying, well, I’m just the messenger. There’s still a veiled ego in that because it’s all about me. I’m just the messenger. No, this is all God. It’s really important.
Back to the parable about the talents and burying the talent in the ground, that reminded me of a friend. I’m not going to say who it is but his ex-wife now. They told me this story when they were still married.
A mutual friend who receives guidance and information from God—as we all do, but his connection is very strong—warned my friends that his wife was not sharing her gifts, specifically her gift of healing. She has healing hands. In fact, she grew up in Central America, South America—somewhere really remote. Other tribes would come from far away to visit this child who had put her hands on them and healed them.
When she moved to North America, she did not let anyone know that she had this ability and that she had this gift. She has not healed anyone for decades. The warning from the mutual friend was this is not going to go well for your wife if she continues to hoard this talent, this gift. She never did.
They got a divorce and I don’t know what’s happening to her now, but I’m sure she’s not sharing that gift because it’s too out there. She likes to fly under the radar. Really sad. This thing doesn’t come without consequences when you bury your talents in the ground.
We have some talents that we bury in the ground.
Yeah. Unfortunately, I think all of us do that. We have some talents that we bury in the ground. I think it’s more about identifying our talents and things that we need to expand. Even though that might be a really difficult thing for her and so on, we don’t necessarily know what’s going on in her life or all the stuff that’s going on.
Even for us, seriously, I know I’m hiding talents in the ground and I’m not expanding those areas. We’re at a point where we just got to evaluate ourselves and our connection to God and just see what we can do a little bit better.
The whole thing is I do believe 100% that we’re saved by grace. I am a firm believer of that, but I do believe the people that are saved by grace—those that choose to be a disciple—always need to be a little bit better. You always need to figure out ways to really help. That’s a journey too. As we’re assisting Jesus with His work and helping others, there’ll be certain talents that we hide just because either we’re embarrassed by it, it’s not comfortable, it’s awkward in this situation, or whatever. That’s where I feel like we, as those disciples or followers of Jesus, need to step up and do the extreme when the extremes ask.
Yeah, awesome. This was such a great conversation. Thank you so much for joining me today and sharing so vulnerably not just the successes but the hard lessons too. It was beautiful.
If our listener or viewer wants to check out The Chosen, learn from you, or follow you, where should they go?
Go to thechosen.tv. You can see it’s available on Amazon, Roku, and even Peacock. I’m just in different places, but to see the full functionality, if you go to thechosen.tv, you can see what we’re doing there.
What’s your social?
Just anything: The Chosen TV series from YouTube to TikTok.
You have quite a following on social media yourself personally too.
Yeah, not as much as The Chosen. The Chosen has a lot more than I do personally. I guess on my private one, but I own other channels that we have.
Thank you so much, Derral. This was great. You’re an inspiration, so keep doing what you’re doing and revealing more light in the world. Thank you for that.
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Your Checklist of Actions to Take
Exercise my faith in my career. Sometimes there are things that are beyond my understanding that only my conviction can help me decipher the codes of life.
Keep sharing the blessings I receive from above. An excellent way to show gratitude is to pay it forward to those in need.
Spend time practicing and nurturing my spirituality. Faith is like a muscle; it needs training before it gets stronger.
Aim to be in a state of surrender and acceptance. Miracles always come at the right moment when I come from an accepting state of mind. I need to submit and realize that everything is written and the Higher Power has my back.
Always look for the good in the world. The Divine always provides. Those who know where to look will always realize we live in abundance.
Pray, listen and be willing to be molded by the Divine. Take action on my faith. Action always speaks louder than words. What’s a better way to model the goodness of the Lord than setting myself as an example of his grace?
Make my audience a part of my project. Leverage the audience so that they feel like they’re a part of it. This will create the first seed of interest in getting people to see the project, leading to a compounding effect of getting more people interested.
Be open to learning and new possibilities. Every person I encounter can teach me something that can make me a better person and can help me create world-changing content. Don’t let my arrogance and candor interfere with what they can teach me.
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About Derral Eves
Derral Eves is the CEO of Creatus, a video marketing and strategy company. He has helped 30 YouTube channels go from zero to more than a million subscribers, and he has generated 80 billion views on YouTube. He is the Wall Street Journal best-selling author of The YouTube Formula: How Anyone Can Unlock the Algorithm to Drive Views, Build an Audience, and Grow Revenue.
Derral is founder and executive producer of The Chosen, the highest grossing crowdfunded movie project of all time.