A podcast is audio on an RSS feed. You submit a new file, and it auto-populates that audio file to whatever terminals (iTunes, Google Play, Overcast) are subscribed to that RSS feed. The simplicity of this format is why it is so easy to start a podcast: you can talk about whatever you want, in whatever format – in theory. Getting people to listen is another story.
The first time I recorded what became a podcast, I was at a restaurant in Toronto on a business trip. My boss and I were having a great time drinking wine, and I thought “this conversation shouldn’t stay at the restaurant.” I plopped down my phone and said, “Ken, we’re recording a podcast!” Then I started asking him about the wine. Thus, the first episode of “Wine with Ken” was created, and I applied to put the podcast in the iTunes store.
Since “Wine with Ken”, I’ve created another podcast where I interview people around a specific topic: focus. I started by interviewing friends, who then started a virtuous circle of recommendations.
So far, I’ve done about 50 interviews with friends, friends of friends, people who I saw on Netflix, at a conference, or interesting people I meet randomly by saying “Hey! You should come on my Podcast – here’s why!”
The glorious part of all this: It is very simple. I’ll go as far as to say that…
Everyone can and should create a Podcast. Here’s why.
1) A Podcast can help you learn new interesting things about people you already know.
I started out with the people I knew best – my friends. I’d ask them about their personal history, the projects they were working on, some challenges they had faced, and how they focus to create the work they do. I was always surprised to hear about the reasons they made one choice or another to which I had been ignorant during the time it happened. In some cases, I learned more about them during that hour-long interview than I had in the previous 10 years.
Even with new friends – one of whom I met at a storytelling class 2 weeks prior – I would likely never have been able to sit down at a bar, asked them deep probing questions that they would have felt compelled to answer. Asking “What is the biggest risk you’ve taken” doesn’t yield honest answers unless it is in a formalized setting and has the the permanence of a podcast.
3) A Podcast gives you a reason to reach out to people you want to know & work with.
I first watched SOMM on August 15, 2015. At that time, I hadn’t started the Podcast, and just thought “wow, thats a pretty cool documentary, and a hard test!.” By June, I had done 20 or 30 interviews, and realized that people came on the show did so because they had something to talk about. So, when I saw SOMM pt 2 came out, and that one of the guys (Brian McClintic) in the movie had started a wine company (called Viticole) – I signed up for the newsletter and received a “welcome to the list” email. I decided to reply to the email, and ask if he would want to come on my show.
I’ve been in sales for about 5 years, and I’ve come to realize that offering value up front is rule number one – what motivates that person at that time? What is something they’re working towards? Are they trying to get new clients for their business? Do they want to tell their story, set the record straight, or talk about a new project they’re working on? A Podcast can help them do that. That was the value that I was offering – a very intimate way for them to tell their story, in their own voice, about what they had created.
After I send out emails, I expect them to go un-answered. I can’t trick myself into thinking they will be, or I’ll be a wreck, thinking that it is ME that the people are ignoring, rather than another email or phone call that they get during the day. Everyone has life happening to them – you can’t delude to yourself into that your emails are more important or attractive to them than the words of everyone else.
So, after I sent my email to Brian from SOMM, I was surprised when received an email back. Low expectations of getting a response are a great thing to set for yourself. I had wanted to interview a Sommelier for a long time, and having that desire in the back of my head payed off – seeing SOMM pt. 2, wondering if I could talk to any of the cast, doing research, figuring out who to reach out to, and shooting off the email.
Long story short: it worked. On August 1st, I published the interview with Brian, which was recorded in McMinnville, Oregon. Which brings me to my next point.
4) A Podcast gives you a great reason to travel.
I received an email from a woman named Susie Lee. She was the creator of Siren – an app that helps people make connections – and wanted to be interviewed on the Podcast. We jumped on the phone and she gave me the story of why it was created – sounded like a great fit for the Podcast. I asked her where she was based: Seattle.
I’d never been to Seattle, but wasn’t opposed to going if I had good reason to go. She offered to get me a handful of interviews if I could tell her when I’d be in town.
That night was when I watched SOMM pt 2, found out that Brian (The Sommelier from above) was based on the West Coast, and emailed him. We talked the next day, and soon after, I booked the ticket. This was risky, but I wanted to show that I was serious about the trip.
I had also been speaking with a professional Ironman Triathlete, Sarah Piampiano; we were planning a phone interview. I told her that I’d be in the area, and that an in-person interview would work just as well. The timing just barely worked out, and now I had 3 anchor interviews: SF, Oregon & Seattle. Susie over-delivered with some great interviews in Seattle, and by the end of the 6-day trip, I had done 12 interviews, made 12 new friends, and seen some places I’d never been before.
3) A Podcast helps you Ask better questions & listen harder.
Search engines have become such a big part of society that being able to ask the right question is central to our ability to navigate our lives and figure out what we want.
Having a podcast, whether the format is an interview, story, comedy, or talk show, gives you a great way to get past the simple questions and into the deep questions that uncover truths in the universe. Understanding how and why people change or made a decision, their vision for the future, and the spark of their current projects can help you understand the what drives them. This knowledge will help you provide value to them in the future. I did an interview with Madeline from Wine Folly, and we discovered a mutual interest in a specific author. When a similar book came out (Ego Is The Enemy), I thought “Oh yeah, Madeline likes Marcus Aurelius – she’d love this book!”
It also forces you to actively listen. I have such a tough time doing this, because I’m trying to weave a story into a larger narrative, and sometimes I miss small yet important details in the story my guest is giving, but I’ve uncovered a skill in myself that is critical in being an interviewer: looping back to the original point.
People go on tangents all the time, and having the ability to find the point of tangent, and re-direct is valuable for everyone.
I’ve still got a lot of improvement to do in being an interviewer, but – wouldn’t ya know it – having a podcast shows you the progress you’ve made, which brings me to my next point.
If you’re interested in starting your own podcast – I’m happy to talk about other benefits and how to get it started – shoot me a note through LinkedIn!