I love talking to people. When a good friend suggested doing a podcast to market my skills, he sold me on the following points:
- You will learn a lot.
- You will build deeper relationships with your guests.
- You will improve at the art of conversation.
These aspirations were so motivating to me that I immediately started scheduling episodes and planning a show around these ideas.
This is how I planned and executed a 14-episode podcast featuring my friends and mentors.
Throughout Season 1 of Hacker Practice I interview creative people engaged in entrepreneurial ventures. I interview engineers and scientists and growth hackers. I interviewed my coaches and mentors, friends and inspiration.
These interviews have taught me:
- Novel marketing tactics for this podcast
- What Big Data is
- Breathing exercises for strength
- About this Haruki Murakami fellow
- How to build a nuclear power plant in my backyard
- How to find a technical cofounder
- A new method for learning complex topics from scratch
- The basic elements of photography
- To ask for feedback after every “no” in sales
- How steel quality is measured
- A new strategy for generating leads online
- A strategy for being more productive and getting fit at the same time
- How successful residential real estate investors consider investments
- Which hormones make you hungry
- and much more…
Further, the process of organizing, recording, and editing a podcast has taught me a variety of technical skills. I now have an understanding of basic audio recording and editing technologies. To be specific, Season One of Hacker Practice was recorded using Ecamm Call Recorder for Skype and edited on the open source audio editing suite, Audacity.
The show will be published and syndicated through Libsyn. I use the $50 / month tier because the show averages an hour and is published one season per quarter. You’ll find syndicated feeds on iTunes and YouTube as of March 15th.
The Craft of Conversation
Listening to myself interview someone has been like watching game film: Occasionally embarrassing, always enlightening.
How easily do you produce a concise question or decisive analysis?
If you’ve never recorded and reviewed yourself having a conversation, you probably have no idea.
Interviewing my friends and role models has given me an outside view of our dynamic. The perspective gives you a quantum of self-awareness otherwise impossible to achieve.
How many people really see themselves as they are? An easier question to answer is: how many people see themselves at all? The answer is probably close to 0%. Which basically makes self-examination via audio/video a power move.
I’m not saying I’m suddenly a meditative zen master. I’m saying that I’ve now listened to myself have 14 different long-form conversations with people I like and admire. In the process, I’ve begun to eliminate verbal ticks and conversational faux pas (“begun” being key here).
The people I interview are my friends. I’ve done business with many of them. I respect each one of them for their accomplishments and character.
They have so much to teach me. Normal social calls don’t allow for the kind of invasive questioning possible in an interview format. Interviews can be like conversation on steroids. The act of being recorded engages you. It forces you to listen actively and question incisively.
It’s an intimate act. Both parties cannot emerge without having developed the relationship. This is why I interview people I admire and want to have long-term relationships with.
Because: friendships matter.
How I’m producing, editing and publishing my own podcast.
Here are the steps to producing your own podcast.
- Get convinced
- It takes some confidence to get started. Commit to doing at least 7 episodes or a season. I started off planning to record and release six episodes. Those six episodes quickly turned into a 14-episode season.
- Start scheduling
- Call the people close to you first. Everybody I interview in season one is a friend that I admire for some reason.
- Choose to interview people you’re comfortable talking to. My nervous ticks smooth out toward the end of season one because I get more comfortable talking to people.
- Record a test call
- Do a call with a friend that you don’t intend to publish. This is just to get the hang of the mechanics.
- Write outlines for interviews.
- This is optional. At first I wrote thorough outlines to plan our conversations. I quickly realized that they could be a negative constraint. Great conversations are often non-linear. Most people don’t learn in a strictly linear fashion. Outlines, however, are notoriously linear. If you stick too closely to an outline you will miss big opportunities.
- Start interviewing
- Use a checklist:
- Is your outline printed? Do you have pens and paper and water and coffee?
- Call the person. Is the connection solid?
- Do you have enough storage?
- Are both parties comfortable? What is everyone bringing to the conversation in terms of mental space? Is their expectation in alignment with yours regarding topics of conversation and duration.
- Phones and notifications turned off?
- Deep breath.
- Hit record.
- Few moments of silence.
- “Hello Michael, thank you for being on the show, how are you?:”
- When it’s done, take a few minutes to debrief. Thank the person again. And let them know.
- Use a checklist:
- Packaging the recording
- Edit the podcast
- I add an intro and an outro and that’s it
- Take notes
- Find links.
- Write summaries
- Find pictures
- Send all materials to the guest for review
- Change anything they want changed
- Schedule the post
- Edit the podcast
- Publishing the recording
- Use libsyn to syndicate to iTunes and Youtube
- Apple takes a couple days to review and publish your podcast.
- Promote on social media
- Send to your email list
- Thank the guest again
- Invite them back on the show (about to start working on Season Two!)
And that’s it!
Starting a podcast like Hacker Practice hasn’t blown up my business. It hasn’t gotten thousands of downloads (hundreds though, not bad). It hasn’t turned me into Tim Ferriss or Oprah.
It has taught me a lot about conversation. It’s taught me about my friends and mentors and the work they do and what they find important. It’s deepened my relationships and strengthened my soft skills.
I’m glad I did it and I hope that this might help some of you do the same.