Tag Archives: podcast

Why I Produced a Podcast from Scratch

My outline and notes from episode 1 with Michael Alexis

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.

Learning

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:

  1. Novel marketing tactics for this podcast
  2. What Big Data is
  3. Breathing exercises for strength
  4. About this Haruki Murakami fellow
  5. How to build a nuclear power plant in my backyard
  6. How to find a technical cofounder
  7. A new method for learning complex topics from scratch
  8. The basic elements of photography
  9. To ask for feedback after every “no” in sales
  10. How steel quality is measured
  11. A new strategy for generating leads online
  12. A strategy for being more productive and getting fit at the same time
  13. How successful residential real estate investors consider investments
  14. Which hormones make you hungry
  15. 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).

Relationship Building

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.

  1. Get convinced
    1. 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.
  2. Start scheduling
    1. Call the people close to you first. Everybody I interview in season one is a friend that I admire for some reason.
    2. 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.
  3. Record a test call
    1. Do a call with a friend that you don’t intend to publish. This is just to get the hang of the mechanics.
  4. Write outlines for interviews.
    1. 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.
  5. Start interviewing
    1. Use a checklist:
      1. Is your outline printed? Do you have pens and paper and water and coffee?
      2. Call the person. Is the connection solid?
      3. Do you have enough storage?
      4. 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.
      5. Phones and notifications turned off?
      6. Deep breath.
      7. Hit record.
      8. Few moments of silence.
      9. “Hello Michael, thank you for being on the show, how are you?:”
      10. When it’s done, take a few minutes to debrief. Thank the person again. And let them know.
  6. Packaging the recording
    1. Edit the podcast
      1. I add an intro and an outro and that’s it
    2. Take notes
    3. Find links.
    4. Write summaries
    5. Find pictures
    6. Send all materials to the guest for review
    7. Change anything they want changed
    8. Schedule the post
  7. Publishing the recording
    1. Use libsyn to syndicate to iTunes and Youtube
    2. Apple takes a couple days to review and publish your podcast.
  8. Post-publication
    1. Promote on social media
    2. Send to your email list
    3. Thank the guest again
    4. Invite them back on the show (about to start working on Season Two!)

And that’s it!

Conclusion

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.

Good luck!

Nari Savanorke-Joyce: Zen and the Art of Data Science

Camping on the coast of Maine 2016

I met Nari Savanorke-Joyce while living with 20 other people in a double-wide row home in Boston’s most elite neighborhood. She had just graduated from Wellesley College (Hillary Clinton’s Alma Mater) and was getting started in entry-level corporate America.

Within a year she had become one of her company’s most valuable data scientists.

Nari and I used to go sailing on the Charles River. We’d talk about economics, education, and the future of technology. Those conversations were fascinating to be a part of, so I thought: “Why not bring the genius of Nari on the show?”

As a professional, Nari takes cutting edge predictive models from the dusty shelves of academia and puts them to work on important business cases. She’s a technical expert in data science but more than that, she’s a chameleon who deftly maneuvers the social and political conditions of whatever situation she’s in.

Our conversation in episode 4 of Hacker Practice takes place on Skype, with Nari calling in from a poppin’ lounge in Stockholm. If you’re unfamiliar with data science or are looking for career advice for ambitious millennials, you will certainly enjoy this conversation with Nari Savanorke-Joyce:

[1.10] Why Nari booked a trip to Stockholm, Sweden on a whim

[5.50] How Nari learned about entrepreneurship through her parents

  • The importance of failure in the journey and grit required to bounce back

[6.30] Why Nari uses meditation to stay focused

[9.30] Adapting to the corporate world despite having entrepreneurship
in your blood

  • How to adapt to different environments
  • Parental influence in this domain

[13.50] Why putting yourself in a position where you aren’t in control is important for self-development

[16.10] Discussion on data science

Good data scientists excel in three directions:

  1. Domain expertise
  2. Computer science / programming skills
  3. Statistical modelling skills

DATA SCIENCE = Taking massive quantities of data and turning it into actionable insights

[18.30] Discussion on the methodology of data science (How to Data Science 101)

  1. Find a problem to solve
  2. Find the data
  3. Clean the data
  4.  Apply a model

[22.10] How an insurance company uses data science to stop insurance fraud?

  • Use models to predict low frequency high severity impact events

[30.30] Incentive structures in a data science role

[33.50] Using logistic regression to ask binary questions i.e. is person x likely to commit fraud?

  • Using survivor modelling to understand claim lifespan

[37.30] Why data cleansing is the most time consuming component of data science?

  • Using AI to detect pattern anomalies

[42.20] Discussion on behavioural economics (psychology and economics) and how to derive value in data science

[45.00] Behavioral economics is not classical economics

  • Can behavioral economics be used to improve lives and business?

[45.30] Specific advice for ambitious young people

  • Get out of debt
  • Find community with older people

[47.00] Importance in investing in continuous education

  • Focus on learning as a motivator

[51.50] Diversification vs focus lesson from Nari’s parents – “You have to go all in if you really want to pursue something”  

[55.00] On insurance start-ups attracting corporate talent

  • Begin with the “why” and be more than profit seeking

[58.10] Personal finance and budgeting

  • Awareness via categorisation of spending
  • Automatically save a percentage of your income

[1.03.20] Future of data science

  • Using data to continuously dive deeper and personalise – huge potential in the health sector

[1.05.00] Nari provides podcast interview tactics that she’d like to see adopted by Hacker Practice podcast

[1.06.00] Nari’s Top tier interviewees:

[1.10.10] Nari’s book recommendations

[1.15.10] Travel hacks to save money

  • Grocery stores are a great way to save money instead of eating out but also to learn about local food and culture
  • Walk everywhere, especially if the city or place you are visiting is compact

[1.16.20] Final piece of advice to listeners

  • Try 10 minutes of meditation per day

Conclusion

If you enjoyed the show please subscribe to Hacker Practice on iTunes. Hit me with suggestions of who you’d like to see on the show (@justuseapen). Leave me a review on iTunes. If you do any of these for me I will of course love you long time.

Thank you for listening!

Jesse Anderson: Mr. Big Data on Data Engineering, Creativity, and Nontraditional education (002)

Mr. Big Data, Jesse Anderson (http://jesse-anderson.com)

If you’ve ever heard the words “Big Data” and wondered what exactly that means, this is the episode for you.

Jesse Anderson is the person Fortune 100’s go to when they realize they are ill-equipped to handle the challenges of big data. He is a totally self-taught genius who is currently defining a new field of computer science call Data Engineering. In fact, he literally wrote the book on it.

Jesse’s work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, CNN, NPR, Wired, TechCrunch; just about everywhere.

His insights into the future of information technology and data were fascinating to explore. We also discuss his approach to learning and parenting and teaching creativity.

Listen to our discussion here:

Here are the notes from my talk with Jesse Anderson:

Continue reading

Michael Alexis: International Investor and Philanthropist on Growth Hacking, Mastering Craigslist, and Surviving Chinese Parasites (e001)

Michael Alexis (left) and myself (right) in Georgetown in the Cayman Islands

My first ever podcast features investor and philanthropist Michael Alexis. I’m so glad to start with Michael because we are good friends and he is a master at making people feel at ease.

Michael got started in adult life as a lawyer, but quickly moved into startups and investing (but not investing in startups). Now he is a growth consultant for some of the highest performing startups and an international investor with stakes in places like China.

Michael and I worked together at an award-winning startup and have since built a relationship around challenging one another to do better everyday in life and business.

Our discussion revolves around investing, growth hacking, marketing, security, startups, business, ethics, life hacks, and risk mitigation while gallivanting in foreign countries (travel is a favorite past time for both of us).

You can hear our conversation here:

  • Michael helped Pavlok win the Shopify contest. (1:55)
    • Have a great team + a great product idea
    • Best Practices = Average Results. Test assumptions by challenging existing models
    • Michael discusses specific conversion results.
    • “Build the email list and prioritize getting people on it over prioritizing the sale right away.” – M.A.
    • Trade email address for price information on low-price consumer products.
    • Simple, single column websites can convert 3X better than “flashy” bootstrap-style websites.
  • Michael talks about his investment thesis [15:30]
    • Why he is an Investor / Philanthropist hybrid (hint: Building wealth is not the end-goal)
    • Why he invests in projects that pay dividends and NOT STARTUPS
    • Why he is willing to lose everything.
    • Michael’s ideal emergency fund lasts for years
    • Why Michael invests in competitive markets (because the model is proven)
    • Better Marketing + Better Service = Winning Strategy
    • Why startup employees should be open to equity compensation even though they likely won’t exit
  • Michael talks about the podcast he convinced me to start (31:30)
    • Risks are low
    • Networking opportunities are high
    • Are podcasts the new blogs?
  • What would you do to market Hacker Practice (36:20)
    • Write up guest posts based on the content. Try to get 8-10 posts out of each interview. [For this episode: Growth Hacking, Drastic Changes, Simplicity as a Philosophy]
    • Interview high profile people and retarget ads at their followers (on top of native promotion)
    • Think about SEO: use transcripts and notes etc to capture long tail [POTATO MARKETING]
    • Multiple Win Scenarios
    • Why you should start a podcast
  • Experiments I should try on the podcast [46:30]
    • Connect with someone for intentional practice. (PEN TESTING, NVC, DIFCON)
    • Make a sale on the podcast.
  • What Michael would ask Mr. Big Data, Jesse Anderson [50:00]
    • How did Jesse teach himself complex skills?
    • How did he acquire his big, impressive, clients?
  • What single critical system should I develop to make the Podcast awesome?
    • Have a great process for ensuring that you have an ongoing flow of guests.
  • What does Michael think of 2-factor authentication [54:50]?
    • Most people should use it. Especially for email + banking
    • Using 2 factor auth is difficult across many accounts
  • Other security measures everybody should do[56:45]
    • Make passwords difficult (long 8+ characters)
    • Diversify your passwords
    • Use a password manager (like LastPass, Michael and I both use this)
    • Encrypt your computer and external hard drives.
  • What’s the worst Black Swan event that’s happened to Michael? [59:45]
    • He picked up a vicious parasite in China
    • How to mitigate the risk of terrible sickness in China:
      • Don’t eat from sketchy street vendors (China is especially bad)
      • Look for hygiene markers
  • How does Michael manage Celiac disease that could kill him? [1:50:50]
    • Cook at home. Some restaurants that claim to be gluten-free aren’t concerned with cross contamination because they don’t take the risks of Celiac seriously.
    • Eat the same things every day.
    • Over-communicate the seriousness of your food allergy.
      • As a side note: Seems like there is no such thing as over-communication. Great teams talk more than you think they should.
  • How Michael makes money sleeping on great mattresses [1:08:15]
    • Good mattress = good sleep = high performance
    • Buy a Tempurpedic mattress on craigslist, negotiate the price down
    • Use the mattress
    • Sell the mattress on craigslist when you’re done at a higher price using superior sales writing and copywriting skills.
    • Negotiating heuristic for Craigslist: offer 20% off posted price, accept 10% off.
  • How Michael stole Groupon’s business model for fun and profit [1:14:30]
    • Steal models that are “hot”, resell them on Craigslist.
    • How he improved his programming skills and made money at the same time.
    • Repeat
  • Michael made a podcast because of the Mixergy podcast (see link below for Interviewing your heroes)
  • Michael talks what he learned working with Ramit Sethi [1:22:30]
    • Ethical Persuasion: If your target customer had all the information available, would the buy your product?
    • Reminds me of Simon Sinofsky’s great question: “Am I inspiring you to act, or manipulating you to act?”
    • Create a product that is totally aligned with your audience’s interests
  • Copywriting Resources and Tactics [1:28:10]
    • You should read George Orwell’s Politics and the English Language (LINK BELOW)
    • Name dropping works. Soundbites work.
    • Read and re-read everything you plan to publish. Reconsider every single word.
    • Headlines should convey benefit and target market: “Learn Practical Copywriting Tactics from the Masters”
    • Subheader should say HOW you’ll deliver: “This 8-week video course includes ____”
    • WHY > WHO > HOW
  • Michael advises me on my blog strategy [1:38:55]
    • What’s the goal?
    • Systems for blog promotion
      • Syndicate the material everywhere: Medium, LinkedIn
      • Post to aggregators: Reddit, HackerNews, GrowthHacker
      • Post to social: FB, Twitter
  • How does Michael cultivate respect and relationships? [1:43:20]
    • Be authentic and honest with yourself.
    • Be truthful even when it’s to your detriment. In the end, it won’t be.
    • How I improve client relationships by applying honesty to my detriment
    • How I talk to girls by being honest
  • Michael says: interview people who do big things that most people have never heard of.

Links

 Conclusion

If you liked this episode, please subscribe on iTunes and leave us a review!