Quick stage setting:

My aim with this post (it’s a bit long…stick with it) is to show just how many good things can happen to you, and maybe even others, when you dive into a project that you have a passion for and equally are very scared by the thought of taking on! You could replace ‘podcasting’ here with a million things and I bet some of the benefits below, and many more you never imagine, would follow.

If one person reads this and takes action in 2019 as a result, it’s been a very worthwhile post for me. By putting it together, I’ve learned a lot too. Enjoy! 

I actually started writing this piece back in September as I prepared for a presentation I was lucky enough to give for International Podcast Day, which falls on September 30th each year.

80’s classic

As I reflected back on the podcasting adventure so far, ideas on what to focus the presentation on started to emerge. It was clear the podcasting journey I’ve been on has given me a lot to be grateful for. The lessons and learnings taken from it have helped me develop in ways I never expected. So, I decided to talk about the value adds from my personal perspective.

I grew up in the 80’s and there was a TV show around that time called ‘Tales of the Unexpected’. I always remember the theme tune. It brings back memories of Sunday nights for some reason and that slight dread you might feel with school the next morning. As I was putting together this presentation and was uncovering all these unexpected benefits from podcasting, the title of this show kept coming up for me and so ‘Podcasting Tales of the Unexpected’ was born.

As I started to select the stand out moments and learnings over the last 2 years, it was very interesting to note that many of these benefits have been totally unexpected. The majority of the ones outlined below were not obvious to me from the start. And again, that’s another big takeaway. Taking a leap of faith and going after something you’re passionate about could bring so much more than you expected.

Ok…enough set up, let’s get into the list.

  1. Knowing myself better!

Emotional Intelligence has a few definitions but one is the ability to recognize, understand and manage our own emotions; and influence the emotions of others. It’s the one I’m starting with as it’s not only the most important, but one that is broad and connects many of the others to follow.

The field of Emotional Intelligence has been a fascination for me for a number of years. Human performance, improvement, and finding ways to get better are core themes for not only the podcast but also my own personal development as well as the work I do in coaching others.

Right from the very start of the project, up to and including writing this piece, I’ve been finding out more and more about myself. Learning more about my intrapersonal strengths and opportunities as well as interpersonal competencies.

Preparing for interviews, doing research, listening back to episodes, writing articles, creating video content, and many of the other activities and tasks involved to get the show out into the world pulls on so many of the competencies that you need to be more emotionally aware. I’ve put this one first as it’s an overarching benefit with many of the following touching on a part of the overall EQ spectrum.

As you can see from the list of competencies under EQ, these are very much soft skills. At a quick glance, in one way or another, the podcasting experiences I’ve had over the last 2 years have touched on all of the below. Some I’ll explain more further down.

Learning & Advice:

  • I believe developing and growing Emotional Intelligence makes you a more rounded, self-aware, and happy person
  • Taking on a new project or challenge that pushes you to develop some of the competencies below can be of huge benefit to you
  1. Keeping Project Management skills fresh

For most of my working/professional life, I’ve been a project manager in one form or another. This type of role is one that suits me in many ways as it’s one that requires a lot of planning, identifying what your requirements are, what the scope of any work is, what the expected results are and what value that could bring. I can safely say, if it wasn’t for the PM in me  would not have been able to get the Podcasting project off the ground, executed on time, have had the wherewithal to plan out what it would look like, how long it would take to get done, deal with all the issues and risks that cropped up, nor have a clear view of what success looked like at the start.

From talking with podcasters or those that want to create their own shows over the last couple of years via some coaching/mentoring work, the biggest blocker is the lack of planning or having a clear view of the type of show they want. I’m lucky that, having done this in my day job for IT/Business projects, I was able to use these skills to get me up and running.

So, having a background if project management was and is a life-saver for me when it comes to staying on track, getting content created and delivered and making progress. Managing Time falls into this category.

Learning & Advice:

  • Whatever your big goal is for the months or year ahead, plan it out!
  • If you’re not already a Project Manager, don’t let that stop you…just take time to think about what is needed to put together your own project and build out the key tasks
  • Ask for help from someone that is a Project Manager – I’m sure they’d be willing to assist as they like to put structure on chaos
  1. Listening better!

This is a key part of coaching. There are great parallels with coaching an individual and the experience you go through when interviewing a guest. After close to 200 hours of interviews, and probably multiply that by 3 when factoring in editing, I’ve been honing my listening skills a lot over the last couple of years.

I remember the first few interviews I did, I was very nervous. I overprepared and had a set question list. I was more intent on asking the questions and filling the time, than listening to the answers deeply and then deciding on what the best next question might be. That’s changed for sure over time.

I started the podcast project around the same time I was deep in my coaching diploma work and listening was a topic we studied in great detail. The different types of listening, how to listen better, and the benefits of it. All very rich material to bring into my interviews. As the episodes racked up, I became more comfortable with the silence. Giving the guest the space. To think. To reflect. Sometimes the pauses could seem like minutes. When you listen back, you learn that they’re never that long. Just in your own mind. Becoming a better listener is huge for interviews. In your professional life, for leadership and management effectiveness, it’s crucial too. And in personal life and relationships, having the ability to listen well is huge.

Now with almost 100 episodes done, one of the pieces of positive feedback I get from other coaches who listen to the show relates to creating space between me and the guest. Giving them more time to think and talk. Not jumping in to fill the silence. That’s where the magic happens.

As I further develop as a podcaster, a coach, and a leader, having improved as a listener can be a massive advantage in helping others improve.

Learnings & Advice:

  • Practice Listening – it’s a skill you can develop, and it can be a powerful tool to have.
  1. Better Self-belief

When I was putting this presentation together, I found a very early recording of a podcast introduction I did back in December 2016. I remember at the time of recording it, I was a nervous wreck. And this was only being heard by me!

If you’re like me, hearing the sound of your own voice is weird and having to hear it a lot when podcasting is a hurdle to overcome. It was for me.

But as I practiced, it became something more in the background. I got over it and myself. I felt more comfortable with it. I started to listen for the crutch words instead. I started to get better at it. Practice makes better.

As someone that likes (or dislikes but can’t help to) overthink things, my inner gremlin was very vocal in the first few months as I put the show together. He (it’s a he) was always there to add to my anxiety and tension as I got to closer to launch date.

The imposter syndrome is probably something most/all of you have heard of over the last couple of years. That feeling that you’re not good enough. In this case for me to put out a podcast? To share it with the world? I was wracked with self-doubt, fears, worries about how things would be received, how it would go down once out. All these silly negative feelings.

But I persisted. I kept focus on the ‘why’. It’s not about me, but about the message the guests had to share. I was simply the platform to put it out on. That was important for me to realize and keep in mind. As long as the content wasn’t rubbish and could be of value to others (which I always believed it is) then I felt confident it would have an impact.

So, when I did release the first shows, and it went down well, it gave me a huge boost. A sense of achievement and increased belief in the aim. And with every new release, this grew. To the point now, at the end of Season Two, there is only excitement when I hit the release button on a new episode. My main check point; is this something I would listen to myself? Could I get something positive from it? As long as that’s a ‘yes’, then it’s worth sharing.

Since the start of this journey, I’ve not only released podcasts, but I’m now putting out some blogs (like this one), videos clips (One Minute Monday) and even presented on International Podcast Day. With each piece I’ve decided to do, I’ve always had that split second of doubt enter my mind. Am I good enough? That split second is getting shorter all the time. I’m moving forward.

Learnings & Advice:

  • Without doubt, my confidence, self-belief and self-worth has risen and while that was something I might have hoped for, the amount has been unexpected
  • Get comfortable with the failure & make mistakes or you’ll be in analysis paralysis mode for too long!
  • Again, practice helps you improve, and the self-belief will grow
  1. Better Decisiveness – when it’s good enough, it’s good enough!

Leading somewhat directly on from more self-belief, I’ve realized over the last year I’ve become more decisive as a result of the podcasting adventure. And that’s not only relating to releasing shows, but in life in general.

How so?

I’ve read stories from other podcasters that they’ve delayed launches by days and weeks, even months. The ongoing struggle for perfection causing even more anxiety and ties back to the confidence piece. I was no different. That said, I did release my first show on the weekend I had planned to – however that’s the project manager in me coming out.

It was as big struggle though. To get your first few shows lined up and ready to go. That feeling of excitement, fear, worry, and other emotions in there when you hit release to put it out into the world. But as time has passed, and with each passing week, each new show, it became easier and easier. I’ve become more clinical on what to include, and what not. What to re-record, edit out, or leave in.

As you get into a rhythm, the process starts to improve, and you get more efficient. I became better at making the decisions to go. Even if they weren’t the right ones, I’d learn. The Win-Learn situation to the fore. It’s so true.

This decisiveness has spilled over into other content creation too. I started to publish more written material and put dates on when it should go out. Same for video. Get into the rhythm and release release release!

It’s even had an impact on my personal life too. I don’t dwell over decisions as much. Selecting that place to go on holiday, or even what restaurant to go with. Just go for it.

Essentially, I’ve become a big believer that when you have more options, in many ways you have more problems. Choice can create dilemmas. When you just go all-in on one option and see what happens, it makes things so much easier.

Connecting this to the coaching work, it would appear that I’m not the only one faced with these challenges. We’re all challenged in some way with making the right or best decision and this comes up a lot in sessions. Picking one of the doors is better, in most cases, than picking none of them. This journey has proven that to me. 

Learnings & Advice:

  • There is never a perfect time or perfect decision
  • Do it & keep doing it
  • Decisiveness is a practice too. You can build the decisive muscle.
  • Make it stronger and be disciplined
  1. Fear less, do more!

I’m an introvert. I’m comfortable with this now. During my twenties & early thirties, I didn’t embrace that. As a result, I struggled. Drank too much to feel comfortable in social settings, and generally wondered what was wrong! The last few years, and this year in particular, I’ve become much more relaxed with this.

Now, I’ve always suspected I was more on the Introvert side but never really had any proof. And like most introverts, being the center of attention, with lots of eyes (or in this case ears) on you isn’t where you’d most likely be happiest. The little yellow dot above, yes, that’s what that looks like for your typical Introvert.

While I really enjoy presenting on topics, like this, in front of people (in person or virtually), I’m only comfortable with it when I’m passionate about what I’m talking about. And when I believe I have something valuable to share. Putting myself out there without a plan or an interest, then my amygdala has probably already left the building.

Podcasting has made me push myself outside of what I would normally consider the safe zone. I find new ways to challenge myself with every episode. Interviewing in person, interviewing in front of an audience, interviewing people I look up to, doing solo shows where it’s just me, and doing live streaming video shows… the opportunity to push myself into the zone of discomfort is never ending really and it’s really given me that impetus to challenge myself on a daily and weekly basis.

Earlier this year, I was at a conference in Berlin. I was recording content for the PMI Ireland Chapter podcast that I put out. At such an event, I’d have probably connected with a few new attendees but, without happy hour helping me, I’d have kept myself to myself for the most part. I’m not a natural networker so would be more comfortable with a few 1-1 conversations.

However, this year, having the podcast content to capture, it allowed me to interact with approx. 50 others over the few days. It really gave me the excuse to connect. This had not only the benefit of pushing me outside the comfort zone but also meant I was getting great content for the podcast. A third value add for me was growing my own network with these good people. Without the podcast to push me, that would not have happened. Or at least, not near as many times.

Learning & Advice:

  • Be clear on your Why – this will help when pushing yourself to do something you’d not normally be comfortable with
  • Have a clear vision of helping others improve through the content from the podcasts makes the project bigger than just me. That helps me massively and motivates me to push outside the comfort zone

 

  1. Perseverance, Patience & Talk Like Nobody Is Listening

Even with improved decisiveness, there is without doubt a lot of patience required in the world of podcasting. And a very real commitment to staying the course.  And that’s just to get the first show or episodes out the door. The term ‘Labor of Love’ comes to mind for sure.

You can absolutely create content on the go and post it out there in quick or real time, and that’s totally fine. It’s an approach that works for many. As I developed my own ‘How’, I knew the show I wanted to do would take time and focus. I didn’t know exactly just how much! As a result, the patience muscle had to be flexed a lot over the last 2 years.

One of the great pleasures of the journey is when I get to chat with, or give some advice to, others who are working on their own podcasting projects. I’ve heard from a few who lost interest and focus after releasing just a few shows. Statistics show that this is very common. The advice and insight I share is always the same; if you’re doing this for millions of followers and similar numbers of downloads, you’re most likely in for a rude awakening. Be ready to do hard work. Most of all be sure of the reasons you’re doing it, be clear on the outcomes you want and expect that nobody might listen. If that is the case, will you still have learned something from it?

One of the very first interviews I recorded was Andrew Mangan. He’s actually one of the reasons I got into podcasting. I’m an Arsenal Football fan and Andrew is the man behind the hugely successful podcast called ArseCast (check out his show and website – Arseblog– if you’re a fan).  Andrew had agreed to be a guest on my show after an email I sent him a few months earlier. His saying ‘yes’ was one of the main motivations for me to get going with the podcast.Anyway, he invited me to his studio in Dublin to record. While I was absolutely nervous and anxious, the interview went well (here’s a link to it if you’re interested).

One of the most impactful pieces of advice I’ve taken on board so far in this journey, if not the most important, was from Andrew. He’s now getting well over 1million downloads a month for his show, has a huge global following, and continues to release great, interesting and funny content. But all that didn’t happen overnight. As he put it, “the show became an overnight success after about 8 years of hard work, perseverance and pushing hard.” He was following his passion more than anything. Getting to talk about Arsenal in his own very unique style. I remind myself of this on a regular basis.

Since then, similar advice has been forthcoming, not about podcasting but about sport, acting, coaching, and all the various fields the guests have been successful in. Hard work is at the core.

Learning & Advice:

  • Know your reasons for doing the podcast. What’s the purpose & the why?
  • If nobody listens, are you still getting something from it?
  • It will help you develop you discipline, patience – as long as you’re doing it for the reasons that align to your values
  • It’s ok to fail too…know when to stop, or pivot to another type of show that emerges as you learn what works

 

  1. Quid Pro Quo

 

I recall the first time I heard this saying/phrase a few years ago. It was used in a training class I was in by the lecturer. I can’t recall the exact context, but I seem to recall he used the ‘I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine’ idiom to explain it. It’s stayed with me since.

Since my involvement in the podcasting community began, Quid Pro Quo has come up again and again. In a very positive way. In a recent interview I did with John Lee Dumasfor the 864 Podcast, he mentioned it. His belief is ‘if you’re a person of value to others, it will come back.’ How true!

A few months back, I interviewed another great podcaster & entrepreneur, John Eades of LearnLoft, who has a very popular podcast ‘Time to Lead’. We talked about a lot of topics but again Quid Pro Quo was one of the points that sticks out. John came onto my show as a favor to me. He knew he might get some new listeners out of it, sure. But I probably had more to gain given his following and reach. We were both giving each other something back.

Through social media groups and channels, Quid Pro Quo is very much alive and well too. Earlier this year, I made a rookie mistake when recording an interview. I use a tool called Audacity for capturing the audio and this works great. I wanted to step up my recording game, so I added an external mixer into my set up. Well, in the rush to start the interview, I didn’t check settings and I recorded my voice into, not into my microphone but into the iMac built-in mic instead. Needless to say, the sound was not great. Even my own view of ‘it’s good enough’ was not going to cut it. I was in need of help.  So, I reached out to one of the Facebook Podcast groups I’m a member of for some ideas/help with the sound clean up. What followed was an outpouring of offers to help. Literally within minutes. Such a willingness to help really stood out. I wasn’t expecting it at all.

The helpfulness I’ve encountered has been humbling and inspiring. Almost everyone I’ve connected with is in it for the right reasons and are willing to support each other.

Learning & Advice:

  • Whatever you’re considering getting involved it, podcasting or any other challenge, know that there is a community there willing and ready to help
  • Everyone in it were in your position before they started. I’d imagine that is not something you’d forget too quickly. It has been my experience with podcasting

 

  1. Focusing on the Task, not the Result

 

Starting out on the journey, I was very focused on releasing episodes frequently. I initially thought that I might get 2 per week done, maybe even 3. But quickly realized that the amount of time it takes to put together a 1 hour+ episode is a lot longer than just recording the interview.

Definitely in the early days, when I was still learning how to edit, developing a process and workflow, and pulling it all together, I could spend anywhere between 8-12 hours on one episode. That was including the promo part which is often an afterthought but probably the most crucial part of any podcast or project that is for the general public. If you’re not spending time marketing and advertising it, it’s probably not going to be heard beyond your own core network. So initially, my focus was very much on the end result. I expected that.

But during the course of Season One, as I found my feet, gained my confidence, became more decisive, developed and improved my process and workflow, started to find out new tools and got help from others, my focus on the next task became more important. Get that right, move to the next, and so on.

As I started to do this, and learned to enjoy the moment more, everything else fell into place. I wasn’t too concerned about the result, and definitely not overly  concerned by the chart position in iTunes. The more I let go of what the reaction might be, the more I enjoyed the work. And as a consequence, the output became better, and faster. Week after week, the speed came, as the process became more streamlined. As I learned what worked and what didn’t, I was able to get more shows produced and released.

You hear people saying all the time, focus on the journey, not the result. I’m sure you’ve heard it and felt the urge to go ‘what?’ or not fully agree with it but say nothing at all. I’ve been there too. But these sayings are around for a reason. There is a lot of truth in this one.

Looking back at the other benefits above, many of these are essential components that enable me to enjoy the journey more now. Getting better at listening, knowing myself better, using my PM skills, having more patience, asking for and giving help, and being more relaxed in the discomfort, all help me enjoy the process and the journey more.

It’s also been a common theme from my guests too. From those that have been highly successful in their chosen field, be it Ice Skating, Rugby, Running, Singing, Business, or whatever episode you want to listen to, having more of an appreciation on the task at hand, while having a big goal in mind, leads to greater enjoyment and progress. Belief in the process, everything else will take care of itself.

Tie that into mindfulness which is a foundational element of what I do every day, you’re off to a good start.

Learning & Advice:

  • Plot the course and work on the steps along the way
  • Be open to change/update/revise/tweak the process and even scratch it and start all over again – each time you do, you’ll get better
  • If you find yourself more focused on the result and notice, once you reach it, that it’s not what you had hoped for, take time to reflect and learn to be more focused on each step along the way!

 

  1. The struggle is real but we’re all in it together

Ok – this might not sound like a benefit or maybe even not unexpected. Let me explain.

The podcast theme of getting 1% Better can be applied to any situation or circumstance. And one particular area that I’ve focused on in a few episodes is around our own mental health and wellbeing.

In all the shows I’ve put out so far, the episodes that have been most listened to, are when the topic of mental health has been directly addressed. Even with my own One Minute Monday clips, when I talk about the voice inside my head, having a bad day, and how I have developed approaches to deal with these, the reaction from viewers has been massive.

One guest, Josh Quigleytalked about his suicide attempt and how he’s come out the other side a better person.  Another, Jim Breen, who set up a movement in Ireland called Cycle Against Suicide, is another that talked about his own battle with depression. A third, Madeleine Black, is another that shared her story of being violently sexually abused at a young age and carried around this pain that almost lead to her taking her life. But once she shared this openly, she healed.

These are just three guests from many that I could point to. By sharing out these stories, and hearing struggles and suffering that almost every guest faced at one point or another, it’s clear that we have walls to overcome on our journeys. That road is seldom straight, without fallen trees, flooding, dips, troughs, and many other obstacles in the way.

I’ve received some emails and messages from people I’ve never met to say thanks for sharing these stories. That they’ve had a positive impact. They realise that they’re not alone suffering in silence and that listening to these people’s stories had the effect of having them reach out and talk about it. That’s amazing.

These experiences have opened up my eyes a bit more too. Simply because I might have had my own bad days, dark times, struggles, and have come out the other side (or am still working on it), others might not have been as fortunate or have yet to share. That they need help and you have no idea what goes on behind the closed doors or on in someone head. Our mind can truly be the biggest enemy of all if not worked on.

The benefit of doing the podcasts, for me and others, is that we all need to share and ask for help. The hardest part is to just start. Hopefully, knowing others face that too and still get through it will be of benefit to you.

Learning & Advice

  • Work on your own self-talk and self-awareness
  • Be kind to yourself
  • Know that we’re all struggling in lots of ways
  • Ask for help if you even think you need it – don’t wait too long

 

Some that didn’t make the top ten!  

I honestly could go on. I didn’t include how I feel the experience so far has helped with my own presentation skills, my ability to ask better questions, how I’ve been able to better learn for mistakes and feedback, and how I’ve learned a ton about marketing and advertising. Seriously, it’s been like doing a few different types of Degrees & Diplomas in real-time, without getting the qualifications. It’s helped my ability to coach others no end too of course.

My own voice inside is always extra loud when putting together a post like this. It’s screaming at me not to post it for so many reasons and that it’s not good enough, it’s poorly written, that it will not get a positive response, etc. I could go on.

But I’ve got very used to that voice over the last few years and know that it’s only sometimes of benefit to me. In this instance, I’m sharing this in the hope that it might give one reader the impetus to take on a lofty goal or challenge that they’re pondering over. I’m sure if you are that person, you will learn so much more for the process of whatever that is than you could imagine. Especially if you’re thinking currently just about the result.

I definitely have gained far more that I imagined with this podcasting effort. So far. And I feel like I’m only getting started.

If you would like to chat about any of the above, or have any general questions in relation to podcasting, coaching, project management, or would like to get involved in some of the content creation work in 2019, I’d love to hear from you.

Feel free to get in touch on any of the social platforms or via email – Rob@robofthegreen.ie


Rob is a qualified Executive Coach and has been Mentoring and Coaching over the last decade in various roles held during his career. In 2017, Rob launched the Rob of the Green Platform which hosts the 1% Better Podcast. Rob currently is a director of Project Management and Leadership Coaching at Dell in Cork, Ireland. Rob also publishes articles on productivity, goal setting, meditation, and other topics. 

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When I hear the saying ‘Dutch Courage’, it always brings me right back to my mid-to-late teens. To a time when I started to frequent over-18’s discos (I looked a bit older than I was and didn’t have fake ID..honest!). I can’t say it brings back all happy memories or nice feelings. Some, but more a reminder of that awkward time when peer pressure was very real, and, most likely, you had to take a drink to fit in. Even though you didn’t like the taste perhaps.

‘Get that into you, it will give you some Dutch Courage’, might be commonly heard on nights out.

I’m not sure if it’s a saying or phrase that’s universally known. Maybe only in Ireland and the UK (and maybe the Netherlands). Back when I heard it first, and for years since, I never actually wondered where it came from. It’s one of those saying that you just take on board without wanting to know the meaning behind it. But it’s one you intuitively understand even without an explanation.

Having developed a fascination for etymology for words & terms over the last couple of years (I generally like to know the background on something I write about as it makes me feel like less of a bluffer), I did a little bit of research on it. The explanation behind it is worth a look. In brief, it involves alcohol (Gin to be precise) and English & Dutch Soldiers at War!

Anyway, when I look back now to those early drinking nights out, how I acted pre-drinking v post-drinking was very much different. The freedom, reduced anxiety and relaxed inhibitions that accompanied copious amounts of beer and shots really helped with ability to chat, dance, and generally behave very different to what my normal state was. I know this maybe is the case for nearly everyone after a few drinks. But for a more naturally predisposed introvert, even more so.

Introvert Inside

I’ve always felt that I was more at ease in 1-1 situations and more comfortable in smaller groups. I wasn’t sure why but it just felt that way. Over the last few years, thanks to work I’ve done through coaching on self-reflection, developing my own self-awareness, and, more recently, from learnings taken out of Susan Cain’s book Quiet, I’ve come to the conclusion that I fall, at least more predominantly, into the Introvert category.

For many years, that stretched well into my twenties, I felt the need to fit in, which meant being out, about, and having ‘the craic’. And where there is craic (just in case anyone isn’t familiar with this word, it’s not a form of heroin, but an Irish word used for having fun that, for the most part, has some alcohol consumption closely connected), there was booze. The outgoing me would emerge, could fit in, feel popular and generally be comfortable in the surroundings. But, in the main, it never felt fully right. Deep down, I always knew this, but wasn’t mature enough, or ready to push back. I didn’t have the tools or strength to go against the grain (is there a pun there?). Now, just to note, it wasn’t all bad. Over the years, there were many great times. But, as the twenties became the thirties, the feeling of fun and newness waned. I wouldn’t have changed it though. Everything that happened was all part of the learning. 

Turning Curve, not a Turning Point. 

I’m calling this a turning curve rather than a turning point as my own change and realisation wasn’t a single event, but more a gradual process. The reoccurring pain point that dotted out points on this curve was dealing with the aftermath of a night out. Not only did I find that the sense of anxiety normally accompanied with the withdrawals was getting too much, on top of that I would also have to deal with that fact I could have done or said something that 1) was not me in my normal state and 2) sometimes couldn’t even remember what that might have been. That Extrovert that lived inside me and came out full guns blazing when boozed up would retreat, leaving the more reserved and quieter introvert to deal with the clean-up. Which sometimes would be very difficult to cope with indeed. Especially if the introvert didn’t have a clear memory of what the extrovert did or said on the night before. That horrible feeling when someone says, “do you remember when you did this?” or “what did you say to them last night?”. If you know, you know. Not fun! You might be familiar with the phase ‘Never again’ or ‘I’m never drinking again’ or something along those lines? Well, I had been saying that for years but never sticking to it. It was time for a change. And that’s what it came down to.  Timing.

Who Am I?

Definitely over the last 7/8 years, the tide turned. I’ve worked hard on my own sense of identity, values, purpose and that whole ‘who am I’ question. I’ve developed a comfort level around being an introvert. I’ve been able to find more of a balance. And, again to reference Susan Cain’s Quiet, I’ve gained a deeper understanding of the traits and characteristics that are more on the introverted side of the spectrum. The stories, research and findings in Susan’s book have struck more of a chord than just a note for me, helping make sense out of some of those feelings I couldn’t explain but always was aware of. Like why I would be more at ease in smaller groups or in 1-1 situations than in larger groups. It helped me understand why I preferred to talk about deeper subjects first and small talk last in conversations. Extroverts prefer it the other way around it seems. It’s in the Science. 

So, taking on a challenge like doing completely off any alcohol for a full year was going to put my Introversion to the test. But it’s one I was up for, even if my Extrovert buried in there somewhere wasn’t too happy. Now in September of Dry18, I’ve gained even more of an appreciation for embracing who you are, rather than who you are trying to be. As I mentioned in the previous couple of #Dry18 pieces, I’ve been attending social events, work nights, conferences, parties, and have been on holidays\vacation, all booze free, and have been in many situations that certainly thrust me into a zone of discomfort. That was part of the purpose of this whole adventure. To face the fear and do it anyway. To learn and grown. To notice what if felt like to be in a situation of unease, be ok, and even develop ways to enjoy it. To discover a level of comfort with yourself and the surroundings. And with the choice or the option of a beer, to help ease the situation, taken out of the equation, it has made things much simpler.

In my coaching work, I often focus on identification of personal or a team’s Core Values. My own 6 core values are well formed, and, ironically enough, one of them is Courage. It’s been one that I’ve had to rely on when making tough decisions over the last 20 years. Courage is something you can practice and develop over time. Over the last 9 months, I feel I’ve had to continue to develop my own courage in a real way, without the need for the Dutch part.


Rob is a qualified Executive Coach and has been Mentoring and Coaching over the last decade in various roles held during his career. In 2017, Rob launched the Rob of the Green Platform which hosts the 1% Better Podcast. Rob currently is a director of Project Management and Leadership Coaching at Dell in Cork, Ireland. Rob also publishes articles on productivity, goal setting, meditation, and other topics. 

Connect in with Rob on the socials or via email on the links below:

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Woah, we’re half way there
Woah, livin’ on a prayer
Take my hand, we’ll make it I swear
Woah, livin’ on a prayer
Livin’ on a prayer

 

I’m sorry for the above Bon Jovi reference & lyrics. I’m now even more sorry for implanting the tune in your head, which you’re now probably humming. Maybe even playing air guitar? If so, stop! The other day, when I realized I had passed the half-way point in the Dry2018 journey, it was the first thing that jumped into my mind. I’m showing my age, I guess, with the choice of song!

In truth, I’m surprised that the half-way marker creeped up on me so quickly. When starting out back in January, 6 full months seemed like a long way off. Never mind the full year. The fact that is has arrived so quickly is definitely a positive sign. And still going strong sans-alcohol is very encouraging. I decided to mark this milestone with another bit of reflection on more learnings & challenges overcome since the 100 days mark was passed (check out the 7 learnings from first 100 days here). For anyone going through a similar year or period without indulging, some of these might resonate. For those of you considering a stint off the booze, they might even be helpful. Just know, it can be done.

The Business Conference

Zwei Bier Bitter Ohne Alcohol

I’ve attend a good few of these over the years. They generally are great fun and excellent for networking. But pretty much have always included some ‘free drinks’ receptions which I would have always taken advantage of. So, when I signed up to attend a Project Management conference in Berlin in early May, there was a mix of excitement about the event as well as a slight anxiety knowing there would likely be ‘networking’ events that involved large German Bierkrugs full of Weissbier just crying out to be drank! As an introvert, the ‘dutch-courage’helps!

I was right, there was free German food, beer & wine. But they also provided some non-alcoholic beers too. And they’re allowed. It still feels more comfortable when in this environment with a beer bottle in your hand, even if it’s not real beer. Having a diet coke in hand just feels wrong. I’m happy to say though, that the event was a great success and as I was recording content for the PMI podcast that put together, that gave me a real reason to chat and network with others. It forced me outside my comfortzone to talk and engage more. Something that I might, no actually, I know I would have used alcohol for in the past.

Best Friends 40th

It’s the year of the 40thBirthday Party and another very close friend was celebrating theirs towards the end of June just gone. This was the first time that I was out with my oldest/longest group of friends since taking up the Dry18 challenge. So, of course, it was going to be another hurdle. Another new experience. My dry 18 partner-in-crime (or in this case zero crime) Richie was in attendance also. That was a good thing. The extra support helped.

#Dry18 Partners Zero-Heroes

Again, there was a sense that it was going to be a challenge. But things are always worse in your own head than what actually happens. That’s how it was here. An added benefit to others was my ability  to play chauffeur on the night. And as the group all were very much up-to-speed with the #Dry18 challenge, it was well respected! Nobody tried to spike our drinks with alcohol. If this was 10 or 20 years earlier, I have a sense we wouldn’t have got a way so lightly.

But how times have changed. As both Richie and I have taken a shine to the Heineken Zero, we actually had to smuggle bottles of it into the bar as it wasn’t being served there. Now, that’s a first. For many a year, as broke students, we might have been guilty of hustling in some cheap vodka from an off-licence into a pub, saving a few €/£ and getting drunk cheap. Now it’s non-alcoholic beer. As you can see from the image, we’re both enjoying it though.

Summer Holiday

Another potential challenge came directly after my friends 40th. The very next morning my girlfriend and I were heading away for a week’s holiday. The first proper break from work so far this year and the first holiday of Dry18. I’d imagine if we selected Ibiza as the destination, the temptation levels would have been a lot higher, but nevertheless, a week off, with nothing to get up for the next morning, and that sense of freedom from responsibility, would have given me the perfect excuse in the past to have a few drinks every day or evening to help me ‘enjoy’ the time off more.

Instead of Ibiza, we opted for Eastbourne. Instead of Techno and Clubbing, we opted for Tennis and Jogging. A nice relaxing week to soak up the sun and digitally detox. Not putting myself in the line of fire either helped for sure. You can still have a great holiday, without having to go wild. And that doesn’t mean going out of your way of having fun. You don’t want to be in the middle of a wild party atmosphere every night. That could only torture yourself. Do some planning & find a balance.

So often in the past, I’d return to work on the Monday after a week off, thinking & feeling that I need another holiday to recover from the one I was just on. Yeah, you know what I mean? This time round, there was none of that. It still didn’t mean I couldn’t wait to get back to work. But at least the extra dread of alcohol withdrawal wasn’t there. It took me a while to listen to my own advice. But it can be done.

Halfway Home
Halfway to Paradise!

For every long run I’ve ever set out on (long would probably be anything over 8 miles), I’ve always found the first half mentally more challenging than the second. Even though I’d be fresher and have more energy. But as soon as I just get to that half-way point, I feel different. I’ve turned the proverbial corner and I’m now on the homeward stretch, even if that is still 13.1 miles when in marathon mode. It feels like every step I take I’m getting closer to home and, psychologically, that gives me more impetus. It’s just something I’ve always noticed when running. So, I thought, now that I’m on the return leg of Dry18, that it would might like that too.

To be honest, it doesn’t. That’s not a bad thing. In fact, the reason it’s not such a big relief is because I don’t have that same sense of struggle as I do when running long distances. So, as a result, I’m not getting that great sense of relief that I’ve turned the corner and am homeward bound.

Don’t get me wrong either. It’s great that I’ve less days now to do, than I’ve already done. It’s just not as momentous as I thought that half-way mark was going to be when I started out!

The rise of the not-drinking culture? 

The first 100 days were definitely harder than the last 80 or so. As I wrote in the first 100 days post back in April, a number of interesting insights emerged during this period. It was a time of adjustment, pushing myself outside the comfortzone in many ways and experience things in a new light.

Since then, despite my concerns over the summer coming, longer days, beer garden weather, and the world cup football feast coming at me, all of which would have been ingredients that would make for a great day/night’s boozing, it’s been pretty easy going. My levels of social unease when not boozing has dropped and I’m not overthinking these nights out as much as I was at the start.

Taking this beer break has been great. I’ve gained confidence, my blood sugars are in better shape, I can predict with near certainty what I’ll do the next morning and how I’ll feel, and I’ve even been able to share the learnings with folks from other places through these blog posts and with the Alcohol Concern UK group. If any of the above words and insights help someone else on their own expedition, then that’s awesome too.

I’ve also started to notice a lot more non-alcoholic betters and even an alcohol free Gin hitting the shelves. Could there be a bit of a movement starting to move away from drinking too much? I read somewhere about another sober campaigner who is  trying ‘to make not drinking cool’. That’s not my goal, but there certainly seems to be an emerging trend towards a less reliance on it. And that’ is such a good thing. Till the next one. Cheers!


Rob is a qualified Executive Coach and has been Mentoring and Coaching over the last decade in various roles held during his career. In 2017, Rob launched the Rob of the Green Platform which hosts the 1% Better Podcast. Rob currently is a director of strategy and business operations with Dell IT in Cork, Ireland. Rob also publishes articles on productivity, goal setting, meditation, and other topics. 

Connect in with Rob on the socials or via email on the links below:

Email   Twitter  Facebook  Website

Subscribe to the Rob of the Green Newsletter Here

With the new podcast launch finally here. I felt it only right and fair to post a quick piece to explain it!

I read so many articles, tweets, blogs, posts, and comments that start with ‘I’m delighted to share’, or ‘I’m so excited to say’, or perhaps  ‘It’s my great pleasure to’ and so on and so forth. If you’re like me, sometimes you might wonder if they really mean it? or is it just to add dramatic impact? Anyway, with that being said, I’d like to say I’m thrilled (genuinely) to be launching the new podcast titled The 864. It’s been in the works for a while and it’s great to be putting it out there.

Some background

When I started out this podcasting adventure, at very beginning of 2017, my aim was to interview 10, 20, maybe 30 people that had a good story to tell and share it out. I wanted to dig into real people’s careers and, hopefully, extract some interesting views and lessons learned that could be of value to others (and myself). I also was very hopeful to discover if, during these conversations, the guests themselves took something positive away from it too. As a coach, allowing another person just talk and be listened to is a powerful thing.

As I write this, I’ve recorded over 75 1% Better episodes and I’ve just released episode #65. I’m into a ‘season 2’ and still learning lots! It’s been a great privilege so far. And it’s continuing, which is great.

 

Joe Rogan Marathon Podcast!

Marathon

From the outset, my focus was on longer form interviews. Typically around the hour mark. Definitely longer than thirty minutes. Some up to nearly two hours! While I do listen to some even longer, I figured those marathons might be just too much for others to keep hooked into. As the show evolved, and I found a rhythm, the conversations definitely improved. As did I. The longer the chat went on, the more good stuff came out. As the natural rapport developed, we’d get deeper into the topic and time would fly!  

Is there value in the ‘sprint’ show?

Sprint

Getting direct feedback from listens can be tough. Not tough to take, but tough to get. So when a listener does take the time to get in touch, I always enjoy hearing what they like or don’t like about the show. The one piece of feedback was around the duration. The long form is not everyone’s cup of tea. Shorter episodes would be more consumable during the daily commute. Longer form are great but sometimes a listener would forget to come back to finish it off. By the time they did, another show could be released. It got me thinking.

What to do?

So, after season one ended, I took some time off and planned out what I could do for 2018 to meet both audiences. The 1% Better show was doing well and I had already lined up 20+ guests for season two. How could I make a shorter show work and still be of value. And, if possible, align to the 1% Better theme.  I got my thinking cap on. With an element of project management & a calculator, I laid out the requirements.

  • A Shorter show – around the 15 minute mark!
  • Still aligned to the 1% Better concept
  • Worth doing with useful information, advice & tips

That’s where the 864 came into play! Allow me to explain.

Early versions of the 864 logo!

In every day or 24 hours, we have 86400 seconds. 1% of that is 14 minutes 24 seconds. Or, in seconds, 864. When I landed on this first, I had to redo the calculations. A few times. It didn’t sound right.  That 864 second was 1% of a day. But it is. Based on the way we recognise space and time at least. That felt like it could work. A Podcast to suit the shorter format. In 864 seconds, or roughly 15 minutes. It’s 1% of your day. Aimed at making you 1% Better.

I’m a disaster for making decisions on names. But sometimes things fall into place nicely. This was the case here.

 

 

 

The story so far!

Disclaimer now before I go further. My aim is to keep every conversation as close as possible to the 864 seconds mark! I’ve even used a countdown timer for some of the shows!  So far that’s been difficult. I’ve recorded 10 shows and a couple have gone a minute or two over. But the timebound nature of the chat keeps things moving. I’m keeping the intros short and then it’s straight into the conversations with the guests.

It’s been very interesting so far. I’ve recorded episodes with some internationally & nationally well-known names. Some big hitters in their own fields. With the shorter show, it’s impossible to get too deep into the guests backstory. So we’re just focusing on a couple of key topics in each one. There is variety with entrepreneurship, business, money management, marketing, PR, sales, broadcasting, podcasting and the writing process just some of the emerging subjects so far. It’s been lots of fun.

As is the case with the 1% Better podcast, I try to ensure that in every single episode, there is, at the very least, one key takeaway that is of value to you, either personally or professionally. Ideally both and ideally more than just one thing! That’s my own personal goal for this new show. And to enjoy it along the way.

Wrap up!

So that’s the story behind it. The 864 is live as I hit publish on this post. The intro show (ep1) is out now (listen here)and the Profit First conversation with Mike Michalowicz are available will be live on the site on Friday 29th June. I plan to roll out a few more each week over the next few weeks and see how it evolves and grows from here. Hopefully, with your feedback and input, this new experiment is worth it.

I really do hope you enjoy the show on your commute, short jog, walk, etc. And if you do, I’d be delighted (I mean it…swear) if you’d take a couple of seconds to done or all of the following:

Before you go…may I ask for your support? 

To help get The 864 into the ears of others, it would be great if you took a few minutes to do any or all of the below.

  1. Subscribe to the show on ApplePodcast – just click here
  2. Leave a Review & Rating – here’s how do it – https://strategiccontent.co/leave-rating-review-itunes/
  3. Follow RoboftheGreen on the socials and help get the word out by twitter, facebook posting, instagramming or LinkedInering
  4. Sign up to the weekly newsletter and share that link out too – SIGN UP HERE
  5. Using the ancient practice of spoken word, maybe tell someone about it over a chat and a coffee!
  6. If you do like the longer form show and haven’t heard the 1% Better podcast, check it out here or on iTunes here

Thank you so much for reading the post. I hope you do listen and enjoy the content.

Make it a great day,

Rob

I had always planned to write about my experiences (or lack of) while going through the Dry18 challenge. I’d have a bit more time on my hands, so decided early on to keep a journal along the way! Initially, it was for my eyes only. When I put together the first 100 days piece, it was more for me than anyone else. I very nearly didn’t post it at all. I always tend to have that internal battle, the voice inside the head shouting at me, providing me with many reasons not to. I experienced the same sense of resistance before releasing podcasts or videos too sometimes. But, I can’t let that stop me, and I’m glad I didn’t again with that piece.

The response from it was, and still is, very positive. It’s always nice to hear from friends that it connected with. It’s also nice to hear from people you don’t know that it resonated with too. In many ways, that’ even more powerful. So, when Maddy Lawson, from Alcohol Concern UK got in touch, to say the article was something they’d like to share, I was delighted. It made it all worthwhile. Even better, Maddy asked if me I’d be interested in putting out a series of posts over the rest of the year on the Dry18 adventure. I was delighted to oblige. She suggested that I start with one that gives a bit more detail on my backstory and why give up alcohol at all. So, I put together the following piece to give some context on my ‘why’. I hope you enjoy it.


My relationship with alcohol has been what you might call quintessentially Irish in nature. I don’t drink Guinness (often), but ‘the drink’ has been part of my life for a long time.

I think I had my first drink at the age of 16. The guilt of breaking my confirmation pledge still sometimes floats into my mind (and has just now as I write this). For the first year, it was the occasional alcopop on a Saturday night (didn’t like the taste of anything else). Then one night, that all changed. I was introduced to whiskey. That was the first night that I got ‘drunk’.

For the following 23 or so years, alcohol has always been a part of my life – sometimes a big part. Too big. It was a prominent feature during my college nights (and sometimes mornings) in Galway. Throughout the rest of my twenties nights out, weddings, holidays, and any other social occasion always had a ‘session’ at the epicentre. Even sporting activities, like playing for my local football team, where you’d think getting and keeping fit was the main objective, had booze as a key component. We would often celebrate victories (and defeats) after the match on the Saturday, often into the Sunday, and I seem to recall a couple of Mondays too. Hardcore.

Somehow, I was able to juggle a busy work life with the busier social life and, for the vast majority of the time, I kept the show on the road.

I’m not hungover, I just got something in my eye!

While all this was ‘only a bit of fun’, the pain of the recovery after a heavy weekend, where I may not feel 100% again until Wednesday or Thursday, was outweighing the fun. That was a sign, but one that I mostly chose to ignore until I hit my thirties. I didn’t have the self-awareness to realise, or maybe the confidence to make the change.

Then in 2008, I did. Job cuts where I worked, with the Big Crash looming, gave me an opportunity to leave with a few €uros in my pocket. I hit reboot, moving jobs and cities. My relationship with alcohol started to change too. Sure, they say don’t run away from your challenges, but sometimes a change of environment does help. And it did for me.

Flash forward to 2017. I’d been living in Cork nine great years. I had settled in great with the city, the people and the culture. Work was fulfilling and I was in good place. I had made a lot of positive adjustments in my life, running half marathons, cycling and eating better. Developing a practice for Meditation was a big deal for me too. Lots more on that on the blog page.

Over the years, my relationship with drinking had softened but never completely stopped. There were still a few occasions each year when I’d drink far too much, and I’d feel demotivated and down for a few days as a result. As someone who loves to get the most of my time outside of work, being hungover on a Sunday had a double negative impact on my mood; not only was I feeling like crap as a result of the booze, I was missing out on getting good stuff done in my time off!

I had often contemplated going off drink 100%, but never been able to commit. But as my own life was getting busier, I just had no time for or interest in spending any time with a hangover. Developing Type 1 Diabetes at 35 was an additional wake-up call. I had a lot of incentives to make me want to quit. I just needed do some experimenting.

Dry January is a Great place to start!

First up was Dry January in 2017. That was a relative breeze. I came through with flying colours. I learned that going dry wasn’t so bad – the opposite in fact.

Then, on the weekend of my 40thbirthday in November 2017, despite great fun and celebrations, I knew there was gloom and doom lurking around the corner. After two days/nights ‘enjoying’ myself, I felt like enough was enough. As we wrapped up the Sunday night, my friend Richie and I started to pick into the ridiculousness of our boozing and how it would impact our mood for the next few days. Richie started to explain how he heard a guy on the radio the week before detailing how he had given up drink two years earlier.

So, as this conversation developed, both Richie and I started to play with the idea of going off drink. Before we knew it, the idea of a Dry18 was born. Both of us are pretty stubborn so when we make a commitment, we tend to stick with it. We added in some financial incentives that a charity would gain from if either of us were to break. The bet, even though made after numerous pints, gave me a lift.

And so it came to be, that, at midnight on 31 December 2017, Dry 18 officially came into being. It felt right. I like to set goals at the start of every year and try to make them SMART, which stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timebound. This one had all of these ingredients (even if my friends and family questioned the ‘achievable’ part). Plus I had a big incentive: zero days wasted in 2018 as a result of a hangover.

Testing SMART Goals to the limit

While the goal was exciting, I was under no illusion that it would be easy. Jumping from 31 days in January to 365 days is a bit of a leap. But I wanted the challenge and knew it would be the perfect year to try this out. With huge optimism, and a clear plan of attack for the year in place, I was ready for 2018. Time to walk the walk.

The article is posted on the Alcohol Concern blog page also here.


Rob is a qualified Executive Coach. In 2017, Rob launched the Rob of the Green Platform which hosts the 1% Better Podcast. Rob also publishes articles on productivity, goal setting, meditation, and other topics. Rob is currently a director of strategy and business operations with Dell IT in Cork, Ireland.

Connect with Rob via,email, twitter, Facebook or his website.

Check out all the great work that Alcohol Research UK are doing here

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