Xavier D’Leau, the creator of The X.D.Experience Network, is not your typical CEO. With three podcasts, an award-winning web series and an upcoming feature film under his belt, his formula of giving a voice to underdog has curated a successful, yet diverse network of entertainment content including his own podcast, “Jade & X.D.” Outside of being the Beyoncé of his network, X.D. is a digital content developer, a mentor, a manager, and a TED Talk presenter. To think, all of this exists because of X.D. using the network to get over a break up in 2008.
Over an order of wings and fries from Wingstop, X.D. exclusively sat down with Blame Ebro and opened up about life as a network CEO, his goals for the future and more.
X.D. considers everyone on the X.D. Experience network talented. The multiplatform network showcases talent for the underdogs, those who don’t get the shine that they deserve. X.D. gives a voice to the voiceless.
“I wanted to create a space for that. It started off with just me. Me being petty, trying to get back at somebody and it kind of like evolved on its own. I’m a person who wants to give back. And a good way to give back is giving other people a platform to share their creativity. So, why not?”
While any and everyone can make a web series or a podcast these days, any and everybody isn’t featured on The X.D. Experience Network. He credits “The Power Of Unpopular” by Erika Napoletano as a book that helped him learn how to curate “niche” entertainment and branding. He’s not obsessed with money or being like the podcasts that his shows are compared continuously to; he’s concerned about bringing quality programming that the audience can relate with. While X.D. Isn’t as picky about the content like Mariah Carey is with her lighting and angles, he does stick to his gut when taking the chance to feature new content on the platform.
“There are people who say they want to do things and they want to be instantly famous because they think that this internet shit is going to come to them quickly. [They think] the money is going to come and ‘Oh, I’m going to be verified on Twitter,’ and stuff. No, you have to put in the work. So, my gut instincts tell me when people approach me about is things, I’m like ‘Is this somebody that really wants to put in the work and the effort to make their brand pop?’ Also, something different. The podcasts that we have like, ‘House Of Music,’ there’s no real music podcasts out there. There’s music news, or maybe they talk about hip-hop selectively, like on CBS Now and also with ‘Combat Jack.’ It’s really hip-hop focus, which is cool, but, you don’t have auntie jams, or like old school music or r&b the way that ‘House Of Music’ does, and they incorporated it with humor. You don’t have to be a music head to enjoy it because sometimes those spaces can be intimidating. With ‘The Gold Room,’ they’re all pretty. They’re all really attractive people, and other attractive people like to listen to other attractive people no matter the content. When I took on ‘Quarter Century,’ that’s something everyone can identify with. Nobody wants to talk about turning 25; you’re having these pre-midlife crisis that we all go through, we just don’t talk about. That’s super important.”
Two months ago, the urban pop culture podcast “Two Guys & A Girl” transitioned to “Jade & X.D.” as the other guy, J. Williams departed from the show two months after the show’s two year anniversary. While other podcasts would’ve probably ended the show, X.D. took the spirit of Celine Dion by saying the show must go on. While Lipstick Alley is struggling to find the mess in the departure(it doesn’t exist, guys, sorry), X.D. and Jade made an easy transition into their new show without missing a beat. He revealed that the transition has been easy, all because he gets to work with his best friend every week and they get to talk. It’s natural to him. But, when it comes to separating himself “X.D.” from The X.D. Experience Network, he admits that is difficult for him because he’s always working, looking for the next wave in the entertainment and digital space.
“I eat, breathe and live this shit every day, because I’m always trying to find the next thing. And that becomes somewhat cumbersome, but, I feel like to be successful, you need to be ahead of the game. It’s easy to lose myself in it because this is me, whatever I do, I’m still going to be X.D. Even if I’m just representing myself, as my brand or entity or if I’m going into the business mode of the network itself. I have to be super conscience because people take notice of that. You never know who is watching you. Like with Wendy [Williams], and how she said those things about HBCUs, turns out the CEO of Chevrolet is an HBCU graduate. You have to be careful with that shit.”
X.D. isn’t the traditional boss. He’s given the creatives of the network complete creative control over their content. He manages the network in the way he wanted to be managed. He’s more of a consultant. Whenever anyone on the network needs anything advice, he’s there.
“I’ve said ‘no’ maybe three or four times since I’ve started this, and that’s just because we’ll get sued. I’m kinda like “go with it,” and if it fails, you’ve learned your lesson. All the people that are on The X.D. Experience Network are –not only do they work for it, but it’s also a learning opportunity for them too. What a lot of people don’t get is that yeah, they work with these brands, but they’re not necessarily learning the tools that they can take on to do it themselves. I would love the people who are on The X.D. Experience Network to make it bigger than I am and then, do their own thing and hopefully impart the same wisdom that I had to learn on my own to other people. A lot of people in the industry don’t do that. I don’t know any podcasters or radio personalities or media personalities that are going out there and mentoring people who want to do these things, and that’s super important. I had to learn from watching my favorite bloggers do things, and I would mimic them. Not necessarily mimic, maybe do the good things that they do and try to figure out what they haven’t done yet and do it. I wish there were somebody to tell me about social media branding and management or how to do a podcast. I had to figure this out on my own! So, I think my managing style –people may say it’s lazy, but no! I want people to learn this shit on their own and have questions. I’m always here to help, but I want them to navigate this shit. I want them to create their own experience. That’s what The X.D. Experience is about, creating your own experience for the user and especially for yourself. Work is so important because this is work. There are so many people that hate their job; I don’t want to create that environment. I want to make sure that people have the creative license and free range to do what they want with support. I provide support, so I guess that’s why people stick around.”
As far as what’s next for the network, after a successful crowdfunding campaign, “Riverment” will go into production later this year. Another podcast is in the works and coming to the network soon, while “House Of Music” is preparing for their relaunch. Within the next five years, X.D. sees one of the network’s entities on TV or satellite radio (everyone’s mouths are too filthy for public radio). As far as X.D. himself, you can catch him doing video content for other sites like The Shade Room and his own YouTube Channel. Later this year, you can catch him at his first live one-man show in New York City. Check out all of the content from The X.D. Experience Network below.