The Meat Master at work

Max Greb, also known as Max the Meat Guy, has a passion for meat and grilling, and shares his passion with more than 8 million followers across various social channels. After spending the last 10 years in China, Max returned to the U.S. in 2020 and has spent the last few years growing his personal brand and sharing his passion for grilling good food. 

The vast majority of people that love cooking, um, just do it in their backyard for their friends and family. So, you know, I, I tried to come from a position of not necessarily the expert, but just your average guy who's, you know, taken a lot of, or who's become very passionate about this subject.

Max Greb

Transcription

Katie Hankinson (00:00):

Welcome to Building While Flying, a Sasha Group podcast, where we interview business leaders about how they tackle challenges, stay resilient and navigate ever-changing skies.

Joe Quattrone (00:12):

Welcome to the building while flying podcast. Today, my guest is Max Greb. Max has a passion for meat and grilling, and he has grown his social media accounts, uh, Max the Meat Guy to over 8 million followers across very, uh, various different social media accounts. So Max, uh, how are you doing today?

Max Greb (00:33):

I’m doing really well. Yeah. Thank you so much for having me. Um, I was just mentioning before I just moved into New York. So in a bit of a transition period, but found a place that allows thrills, which is of course very important to me. Um, and yeah, excited to be here.

Joe Quattrone (00:47):

And you, um, just so the listeners know, and the, the viewers know you don’t have any formal training in, in cooking and grilling, you just, you’re kind of self taught, right?

Max Greb (00:58):

Yeah, exactly. And I, I think that’s how a lot of people get into it as well. You know, there’s of course there’s the chefs out there, the Michelin star people, but the vast majority of people that love cooking, um, just do it in their backyard for their friends and family. So, you know, I, I tried to come from a position of not necessarily the expert, but just your average guy who’s, you know, taken a lot of, or who’s become very passionate about this subject. And I do my best to educate entertain, um, and just kind of dive deep into the whole, you know, area of cooking.

Joe Quattrone (01:33):

How lucky do you feel like you are that your parents named you something with an M so that you could have the illiterate of max?

Max Greb (01:42):

It worked out absolutely great. <laugh> yeah. It’s funny though. Trying to come up with a name for social media, um, was actually more difficult than you might think. Um, we spent like weeks trying to figure it out. And then finally we had this video that served to do really well. And I’m like, gosh, like this is the time. Like if I don’t come up with my name now, I’m never gonna come up with it. People are gonna know me by some random. I had like one of those, you know, funny little silly names, um, but came up with Max the Meat Guy. And here we are.

Joe Quattrone (02:13):

Where did the, where did the passion for, for meat come in? Like how young were you when you started to develop this passion?

Max Greb (02:21):

So my first recollect, and this isn’t necessarily where the passion started, but my first recollection of cooking over fire was when I was like five or six years old. My dad got these pork shops and we’re just seasoning a super simple salt and pepper. And I, I remember being like, wow, we can take this raw thing and turn it into something that not only we can eat, but it’s totally delicious. And I just remember thinking that’s crazy that I can do that as a person. Like I don’t have to go to a restaurant. I don’t need to be a professional. I can actually do that. Um, but I really started getting into it around college. Um, I was living in China for most of the past 10 years while I was, was out there, you know, got grills, got really involved in the, involved in the food industry, even though that wasn’t what I was working on. You know, most of my friends had restaurants or were importing, you know, pork from America or all sorts of things like that. Um, so, you know, the past 10 years is where I really, really got into it and I’m still learning as I go. And I think I’ll be learning forever.

Joe Quattrone (03:22):

Honestly, you were in China originally for you started the school, right. Were you studying like international business or something like that? I think I tend to recall.

Max Greb (03:29):

Yep, exactly. So I studied international business with a focus on Mandarin, uh, or China and, and Mandarin language. So I went out there for a quick study abroad. It was supposed to be only a few months, ended up just totally falling in love with the place, the culture, the food, um, surprisingly the freedom that I felt, you know,

Joe Quattrone (03:49):

Right.

Max Greb (03:50):

Counter counter to what most people may think, but I just really loved being out there. Um, ended up getting a job in Shanghai. Some I was in Beijing, my brother was in Shanghai. We met up in Shanghai, served a business in the financial services sector. Um, very different than food, obviously. Um, but that is what allowed me to, um, focus on what I was truly passionate about. You know, I had the day job I was able to get by. And then every night from 5:00 PM to 2:00 AM, I was doing something related to, to the food and cooking world.

Joe Quattrone (04:21):

Right. And so what, uh, what, what spurred the change? Like when did you decide, Hey, you know what, I’m not gonna pursue this career in finance anymore. I’d rather spend all of my energy, you know, thinking, talking, making, uh, and, and can and influencing people, uh, to think differently about food. When did all that come about?

Max Greb (04:44):

Yeah. So, so like many people COVID certainly disrupt my life in a big way. Um, I was living in China, as I mentioned, things were going great. Had a cat, had an apartment, you know, I was living my life. Um, I was supposed to come back to America for a three week round trip, quick trip, just, you know, see my, see my family. That was right as the switch got flipped with. COVID like, it totally popped off globally. They closed the border to Americans coming back to China. So, you know, I’m like, alright, I am sort of trapped in my home country. Like not, not too certain as to whether I’ll I’ll even at any point be able to get back to, to my life in China. Um, I was spending a lot of my time working on the financial business, but that was all during, you know, the night hours in America.

Max Greb (05:33):

Cause our office was open in, in China during the day. So I would start my working day at like 9:00 PM and go and finish at 4:00 AM. And I’m just during the day, I’m like, what am I doing with my life here? It’s a beautiful day. Like I’m not really doing anything fun. Um, so decided to turn the camera on film a couple videos. Um, I told myself, you know, I’m the type of person that gets really interested in something, but it often doesn’t stick. So I was like, I’m gonna, like, I’m, I’m definitely interested in this whole potential video TikTok space that’s coming about. Let me actually give it a real shot. Instead of just having the idea and being excited about it in my head, I was like, I’m gonna give myself 30 days. Um, if we don’t hit 10,000 followers within 30 days, maybe this isn’t for me, but at least I have an end goal on site. Let’s try to make it happen. Um, ended up crushing that goal fortunately, and it just sort of continued to progress from there.

Joe Quattrone (06:30):

Gotcha. And you say we, uh, I know your sister’s a big part of what you guys do. Uh, explain to us a little bit about how it’s like, uh, you know, building a career around, uh, uh, a personality, uh, but also doing it hand in hand with, with somebody you’ve known your whole life, like, like a family member,

Max Greb (06:49):

Honestly, it’s the greatest gift that anybody could have. Um, you know, you hear people saying, oh, you know, I’ve worked with family and you know, now we’re, now we don’t talk anymore. Or like, it seems there’s sometimes a negative connotation or it’s like, I’m only doing it because they’re family. Um, I’m lucky to have a sister who is way more organized, smarter than me just overall a great potential business partner. So, um, it just logically made a lot of sense in terms of how it feels. It’s great, you know, like I’m in her apartment right now because there’s crazy construction going on at my, in my place. So just having the support of somebody that you can really trust. And I, and I think that word trust is just incredibly important when it comes to business. You know, like hiring people I’ve found is extremely difficult. Um, and a foundational element is like, can I trust this person that I just met two weeks ago to log into all the systems in my case, logging into Instagram TikTok, like they have the power to say anything in theory. And just knowing that I can trust them as much as I trust myself is probably the most important part of it.

Joe Quattrone (07:58):

One thing that I’m interested in, because obviously, you know, the name of, of our podcast is building while flying our audience is, is typically, you know, early stage entrepreneurs, people that are just getting started or, you know, in, in a lot of cases are also established entrepreneurs, but I find there’s some interesting, um, parallels, right? You created a business, uh, center around finance, but then you also came back and you created this, this entity, this thing, this max, the me, me guy thing, but from an outsider’s perspective, looking in, it also looks every bit, the part, an actual company, like an actual business. Describe a little bit about the differences in the nuances for people out there, how different it is, uh, you know, creating, uh, like a finance style company or a product or a service versus building a company that’s built around your brand, a personal brand, that kinda thing. Uh, what, in what ways are they similar? In what ways are they different?

Max Greb (08:53):

Yeah, that’s a really interesting question. Um, you know, certainly a personal brand is a lot more nuanced than a typical business. You know, when you, when you work for a company or start a business, there’s this feeling of, okay, I’m going to the business, I’m going to work to work on the business and there’s pros and cons to that, but it’s like, it’s this outside thing. I found that with a personal brand type thing, it is fully integrated in like literally every element of your life. Um, I wake up in the morning and you know, some people say, oh, it’s terrible to be on your phone all the time. I’m on my phone, twenty four seven, it’s related to this business. But I guess the point I’m making is it’s fully in it’s it’s, it is my life. Like I, I am it and it is me.

Max Greb (09:42):

Um, so I’d say that’s the, the biggest difference. Um, I, I will also say sort of different to your question, but the financial company is something I did to make money. This is something I did out of genuine, pure passion. And, you know, everyone said, oh, I’m passionate about something. So it’s more fun. Um, but that, that really is totally true. And, uh, yeah, sort of diff difficult to articulate, but when you’re doing something for money and it, it, when you’re doing something for money, you’re not necessarily incentivized for the right reasons and you’re not necessarily gonna be as good at it. I think that’s the main thing. You’re not gonna be as good at it. Um, when you’re doing something for enjoyment, you can get great at something. So yeah, those are some differences. Yeah.

Joe Quattrone (10:29):

I always like to say, don’t chase money, let money chase you. Right. Like just go out and figure out what it is you’re passionate about and the money will follow. So it seems like you’re really out there living that life. Um, uh, talk to me a little bit about just like what people need to know in 2022, about, about beaten, about grilling. Like I know me and you, before we get started on recording, uh, we were talking about how a novice, like me, who hasn’t touched a grill in 15 years, cause I’ve lived in New York and Los Angeles. Um, what are the, like, I actually do wanna get into it more. I wanna go buy a grill. I wanna start cooking. I have no idea where to begin or how to even flip a steak right now. So what do I need to be concerned about if I’m going out and buying something and getting a setup started, how do I, how do I begin to grill?

Max Greb (11:16):

Yeah. So it all, it all starts with the, the meat, right? Like that’s, that’s the, you know, the centerpiece, that’s the protein typically, that’s what people are grilling for. And I say, it really comes down to having confidence. When you walk into the grocery store, having confidence, when you talk to the butcher, you know, I think even for me, I used to go up to the butcher and be like, whoa, there’s this huge guy with a bloody apron with a knife in his hand. I’m gonna say whatever he, whatever he says is right, I’m gonna buy the first thing I see and get, get out of there, but having the confidence to go up to them, know what you want, know what you see, ask questions and say, you know, actually the ribeyes today don’t look that great compared to the strip points. I’ve learned that there’s a, there’s a difference between a rib eye and a strip. They’re actually quite similar though. So maybe I went into the store thinking I want a ribeye, but the strip look way better today. The Maring is just so much better having the confidence to have the guy, you know, go back and take the one further behind or reach in the front of the, the thing to grab the specific piece that you want. So there’s education that into knowing what you actually, but just being confident when you go into the, um, that’s

Joe Quattrone (12:31):

As an outsider, I would’ve always assumed like, you know, the more important decision is the tools that you’re using, not necessarily the actual subject matter, but it sounds like the far more important thing is the actual subject matter. Like, what is the meat? Where are you getting it from? How educated are you on it versus are you using a char world grill or, you know, something else <laugh>, uh, would that sound about right?

Max Greb (12:54):

Yeah. 1000

Joe Quattrone (12:56):

You can, you could cook on any type of environment, as long as you have confidence in the meat that you’re cooking with.

Max Greb (13:01):

You can cook over a campfire. I did that, you know, last week. Um, so yeah, you completely hit the nail on the head with that one. Um, a hundred percent. I, the one other thing I wanted to mention was temperatures. Um, yeah. Having a meat thermometer is absolutely critical. Once you start to have a very basic understanding of just the temperature between roughly a hundred degrees Fahrenheit and like 130. So think about between a hot tub and the tap as hot as it goes. Those are the, that’s the, that’s the range you’re looking at for a steak. Once you start to gauge those temperatures and kind of visualize them, you can cook way better steaks far more consistently.

Joe Quattrone (13:41):

How about seasonality? Are you like going in and out of like fish season and chicken season? Like what do you think about when you’re thinking about like what kind of, you know, meal to put on the dinner table, like, uh, does that kind of stuff play a factor in it? Are you like cooking steaks all year long? Cause that’s what you’re really into <laugh>

Max Greb (14:00):

<laugh> um, sort of the latter, I, I will say in this day and age with the freezing methods, they have, you can freeze the steaks for two years if you wanted to. And the quality would be just as good as it just about the same as it being fresh. Uh, when it comes to seasonality, I’d save vegetables. I am the meat guy, but I, I still eat vegetables. I still like to cook vegetables, but those are what kind of take priority when I think about that sort of thing.

Joe Quattrone (14:25):

Nice. So, uh, so what’s next for Mac the Meat Guy you’re already kind of Mon no, I wouldn’t say monetize. You’re already kind of extended out to all the major platforms and you’re doing quite well. Um, but, uh, I know once upon a time, um, you were, you’re trying to create your own line of jerky. Is that something that you might be interested in kind of bringing out your own needs? Uh, what do you wanna get into next?

Max Greb (14:48):

Yeah, no, that’s definitely on the horizon. Um, I, I think when it comes to the life cycle of a creator, it seems like, well, one thing I’ve re recently realized is that for a lot of people, it’s very short, so they’re doing great for one to five years. And then all of a sudden it’s like, wait, that guy used to be the biggest thing five years ago on YouTube. So from that perspective, it, I, I’m really starting to think, you know, from, from a long term perspective of how do I sustain this, because it’s what I want to do is what I love to do. How do I make sure I’m able to do this 20 years from now, 50, 30 years from now? Um, the first way that most people monetize being at a quote unquote influencer or content creators, typically through brand deals or like ad sense, that’s the platform paying you say, YouTube, paying you a bit of money per view, or a brand asking for a placement and you know, you use their, their cup and it’s like buy this cup.

Max Greb (15:43):

Um, then the next step is people often release brands. So in my space specifically, everybody has a spice rub. It is literally, there’s probably 50 to a hundred space scrubs out there. Yeah. Yeah. And it’s like pretty good margins. You can probably sell for, for $10. It cost you like two or $3 to produce. But the thing is like how many spice rubs does any person need and, and how much, how much is out there when it comes to, you know, you’re on, you’re on social media. It’s like, there’s this one, there’s this one, there’s this one. So that, that went through my mind at one point. Um, and, but I, I, like you mentioned, I keep going back to jerky. Um, you asked the question of what got me into meat before, or like this whole thing, that original jerky business idea is actually what was the initial spark I was living in China.

Max Greb (16:31):

I was like, these people love Turkey. They don’t have any high quality options. Um, there were some companies in America really taking off. So I was like, maybe I can launch a American style Turkey brand for the Chinese market, spent five years learning all about jerk, making recipes, trying to sell it under the, you know, black market, jerk sales, everything like that came back to America. Um, recognized that it was a bit more saturated in America. There’s tons of jerky brands out there, but then I built the social media following. And now I’m in a position where it’s like you leveraging that social media might allow me to cut through the noise of the saturation in this market here. Um, so that’s something that we’re, we’re, we’re currently working on. I’m going to a food lab tomorrow to, to look at some of the samples and stuff like that, but it’s tough, you know, launching a brand, you wanna be strategic with it, especially when it’s a personal brand. You’re like, it’s one thing to, I guess it’s another distinction between your own brand and a company. It’s like when I release something, it’s max gr releasing it. It’s not necessarily O G capital management, our old company releasing it. So there’s a, there’s an element of not pride, but just wanting to make sure it’s the right thing. Yeah.

Joe Quattrone (17:46):

You’re putting your name on it. Yeah. So there’s certain quality control that you want to be associated with your brand when it’s you. Yeah. Yeah. I totally get that. All right. Well, I don’t wanna take up too much more of your time. You’ve been great. Uh, tell everybody, um, I mean they already know max Amica. It’s pretty easy to remember, but is there a specific, uh, channel that you’re focusing on right now that you need some followers on, uh, let everybody know, uh, where, where you’d like them to follow you?

Max Greb (18:11):

Yeah. Thank you. Um, so I’m starting to get more into the long YouTube content. I started with all, you know, 10 to 32nd videos on TikTok and Instagram, but now we’re really focused on the 10 minute, you know, YouTube video. So if you wanna check me out there, I would love that. Um, and also feel free to, yep. Same exact thing, max, the meat guy across everything. Um, and also if you’re watching this, if you ever have a question about simple to complex, when it comes to cooking or grilling to shoot me a DM DM on Instagram, and I’m happy to, uh, try to help you out again.

Joe Quattrone (18:45):

Cool. All right. You heard of here first folks, uh, thanks for joining the building while flying podcast and we’ll see you around. Bye bye.

Katie Hankinson (19:02):

Thanks for joining us for building while flying today. I hope you learned as much as we did. We all meet you right back here. Next time for another flight.

Welcome to Building While Flying!

This weekly podcast is brought to you by Sasha Group. We’re the consultancy meets agency arm of the VaynerX family of companies. We help ambitious companies build strong brands that flex with the times through strategy, branding media and marketing.

In ever-changing times, businesses and brands have to shift and adapt. And across all sectors, there is an air of experimentation. Business owners are trying new things out in the wild;  building the plane while flying.

Our pilots, Katie Hankinson and Mickey Cloud, will be talking to a diverse range of business leaders and founders. They’ll explore how these guests tackle various challenges while staying resilient and committed to growth. Through these real-life examples of strategies put into practice, we hope to inspire you to experiment and develop your own strategies as we all navigate these uncertain times together.

Greb knows about grub

Max Greb, also known as Max the Meat Guy, has a passion for meat and grilling, and shares his passion with more than 8 million followers across various social channels. After spending the last 10 years in China, Max returned to the U.S. in 2020 and has spent the last few years growing his personal brand and sharing his passion for grilling good food. 

In this episode of the Building While Flying podcast, Max and Joe Quattrone talk about the differences between building a personal brand and a business, what it takes to be a content creator, going into business with family members, and even some beginner tips for grilling at home.

In-flight topics:

  • Balancing a day job and content creation
  • Building a personal brand vs. a business
  • Sustaining your career as a creator
  • Trusting the people you work with
  • Making money as a content creator
  • …and more!

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