In the most epic Byron Lazine Podcast of all time, I got to hang out with John and Johnny Rondi, the creators behind the explosive viral content that is Johnny Drinks— with two and a half million followers on TikTok, and over a million on YouTube

What’s super unique about this podcast is you may not know that John has been in the mortgage business for 30 years. He knows everything about our industry. Combine that with Johnny’s incredible content creation tips, and it’s an episode you don’t want to miss. 

Plus, we open a 23-year bottle of Pappy Van Winkle… tune in to watch how it unfolded.

The Mortgage Industry

John started in the mortgage industry in 1992, and his first year in, he tripled his income because, as he says it, he was in the right market. The market is what helped him get started. 

So, what is he most proud of from his work as a mortgage lender? 

Probably my greatest accomplishment is all the guys and girls that I took from nothing that are millionaires… And they’re all managers, they’re running their own team, so it’s a coaching tree, for me. And I see that, and that’s a huge feather in my cap, because that wasn’t really even what I set out to do. I just set out to work hard, provide for my family, feel good, make money… and wow, what do you know, it worked.

John Rondi

The next pivot

Johnny Drinks started with a TikTok video. Johnny and a friend were down in Miami last February and noticed a bunch of TikTokers there. At the time, Johnny didn’t care, but his friend was interested in the app. The next week, he was at home and his friend was making a cocktail. 

Johnny put some Frank Sinatra in the background, filmed it, and put it on TikTok. After checking the video at dinner, he realized it was blowing up with a couple million views. From there, he started to slowly pivot out of what he was doing, with the goal of making these videos a full-time thing. 

While John still works in the lending business—he was on the phone with a first-time homebuyer when we arrived—he’s careful not to mix his online presence with his work in the mortgage industry. 

The wild success of Johnny Drinks is opening up endless possibilities for both John and Johnny. I asked them what they see right now as the next step. For John it’s his exit strategy—or, more accurately, his pivot from mortgage lending to the social media sphere with Johnny Drinks. 

Now, we’re at the bottom of this mountain, and we’re gonna go up—in the social media space. In the mortgage space, I’m on that descent down. And so, it’s how I take all of what I’ve amassed in education and experience and knowledge and pivot somewhere else.

John Rondi

There are plenty of avenues John could take right now. The road he is choosing is with his son, Johnny: “He leads the way, and I follow.” 

The best bottle

John is the ultimate host. You go over to his house as his guest, and you can count on a good meal, good drinks, and good company. They are always trying new things, so I had to ask: “In all the videos you’ve done, what’s the best bottle you’ve opened?”

Tesla’s Tequila is really cool…. We found somebody with like ten of ‘em… So, that was the first ‘wow’ moment for us. It ended up tasting pretty terrible…but the bottle was really cool.

Johnny Rondi

The best way to drink a good bourbon

John ranked his favorite bourbons, and Pappy Van Winkle was on that list. So, how does he prepare the drink? 

Prepare it? There’s only one way to prepare it. You pour it into a glass.

John Rondi

That was the correct answer. And that was when I presented him with a gift: a 23-year-old bottle of Pappy Van Winkle’s. Johnny seized the opportunity to capture the moment in a TikTok post. 

23-year-old Pappy Van Winkle. <kisses the bottle> Welcome to my family… For those who don’t know, this is one of the hardest bottles to get.

John Rondi

Johnny Drinks Bourbon

They now have a 9-year-old bourbon—just 40 bottles, each in a gift box. The back reads, “Life’s great achievements deserve extraordinary spirits. For nine long years…. To celebrate one million subscribers” (on YouTube). 

When John opened the box of their 9-year-old bourbon to reveal the stunning bottle and two glass tumblers inside, he pointed out another surprise: a tiny black pouch hanging on the neck of the bottle. Inside, a ring for that famous Johnny Drinks tap on the bottle. 

Both of them invited anyone who buys the limited edition box to contact them. They’re even willing to do a Google Hangout because what they’re buying is more than the sum of its parts. The bottle, the vessel, the story behind it….it’s all part of what they want to create with their bourbon.

Anyone that buys this, let us know… Reach out to us… I want to be able to appreciate that with you… You giving us this bottle (the Pappy’s), that’s something I’ll never forget. I want that to be the same feeling that these people get.

Johnny Rondi

Johnny Drinks content

Johnny is a genius when it comes to writing content and positioning thumbnails and captions. When shooting short videos, he says it’s all about getting the right hook. Johnny would add that this format is better for some minds than others. 

You’ve gotta have a very ADHD mind to do short-form content, ‘cause some people can’t. They can’t wrap their brains around shooting and posting. They need to take the time with the perfect idea and editing and, okay, now they can go. I’m just quick to pull the trigger. We make really good content, and we keep it moving. So, I think the best thing about us is just we’re consistent…. So, that’s why we surround ourselves with people who make long-form content, because I don’t have that kind of mind.

Johnny Rondi

The father and son dynamic

So, what’s the dynamic like for the two of them as a father and son team? 

John didn’t think twice when Johnny asked him to start making content. Even with his time spread thin, he’ll do anything to make time for his children. And as for working together, they experience all the ups and downs you might expect. 

In reality, we’re a real father and son, we have a great relationship…but we fight, we argue, we get in each other’s heads, we’ll walk out of the scene. But I think the best part of us is that we’ll fight and then five minutes later, we’re back at it….So, there’s a built-in trust, we know we’re both there for one another.

Johnny Rondi

Watch the full episode for more.