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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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!
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 – [email protected]
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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