That argument has been won already
Like clockwork, my new life is starting not to seem so new.
More and more, people are approaching me about my podcast and The Grind. These are becoming the things that people associate me with.
Coincidentally, it’s becoming more comfortable to create podcast episodes and issues of The Grind. I’m still stumbling through promoting them, but I’m only 60 days into that process. A breakthrough on that front is coming in the next 30 days. I know it because I’m already there in my head and heart. It’s just going to take a few weeks for the machine to catch up.
Last week I recorded an episode of the #CreativePower Hour that had a profound impact on me. In addition to the incredible wisdom that the guest offered, she poured gratitude on me. She thanked me for “continuing to offer new parts of myself to ‘us.'” Who is the ‘us?’ Anyone who finds my creations valuable, inspiring or helpful.
I thought about how or why I’m able to do this, over and over. Why was I able to, in less than twenty years, become a professional software developer and Chief Technology Officer, healthcare venture capitalist, national conference organizer, professional sports entrepreneur, and soon to be digital content thought leader with no training in any of these areas?
Since I’m not even a year into this “digital content thought leader” process, I can recall the exact steps that got me here.
First, I formed a clear point of view.
Before I made the first podcast episode in December 2018 with my good friend Nick Holland, or reinvigorated The Grind in January 2019, I spent 2-3 months listening to Gary Vaynerchuk and Tim Ferriss’ podcast every day, exploring 20 other podcasts, and having an inner conversation about why it was vital for me to make the podcast and how I would do it.
After 60 days of this inner conversation, I knew with absolute certainty that becoming a podcaster would have too many benefits not to do it. I also knew I did not want to see it as a commercial or competitive endeavor. I needed to do it to share my voice, to help others, and to build community.
When I started talking with people about it, there were all the expected questions?
- Aren’t there are too many podcasts?
- How will you monetize it?
- How will you grow it?
- How are you going to make your podcast different?
- How will you produce it?
Not to mention many people telling me how I needed to do the show and what needed to happen for the show to be considered ‘successful.’
Without a clear point of view, I would not have made it through that gauntlet of feedback intact. I hadn’t thought much about this in the past, but I don’t just get an idea and start doing it. I sit on the idea, I develop a perspective, and I go through an inner debate to get the ideas I know in my heart I can commit to.
People’s feedback often has the unintended consequence of derailing one from what they want to do. By the time I’ve shared my idea, I’ve already heard the feedback in my inner debate. That argument has been won already, and I move through these conversations with my confidence sustained.
The second thing I did was make space.
When I’m trying to create something new, it requires time and energy. Both of these resources are finite. In all likelihood, the time and energy needed to create my next thing aren’t available. So I start looking at where my time and energy are currently being spent, and begin cutting.
When I started the podcast, I didn’t know what equipment I needed, how it would all fit together, or how to produce the final result. I reverse engineered everything I saw everyone else doing, and put it back together in my own way. I started shooting the #CreativePower Hour in my house. The first studio had to be put up and taken down in my kitchen every time, taking an extra hour and a half per show.
Thanks to Rachel for putting up with that.
I did the booking, the prep, the recording, the hosting, the editing, and the posting all by myself. That required time both to learn and to do. I had to make space to make that possible.
Creation requires slack. It’s hard to create when you are operating at 90-100% capacity. I cut my commitments back to around 70% to cross the threshold into being a podcaster. The first version of my podcast setup wasn’t right, but by not just asking other people how to do it, I created a flexible configuration that impressed a lot of experienced podcasters. A clean slate and space to think are helpful in the creative process.
The third thing I developed was a system.
I create a system because I know that failure and interruption are guaranteed. I might get sick. Someone could cancel an appearance at the last minute. The Internet may go out. The audio files might get corrupted. A family emergency could come up. And on and on.
I learned from my 2-3 month immersion in consuming podcasts that if I wasn’t consistently putting out episodes, there was no chance of sustaining. The minimum I could post was weekly, so that’s what I chose. I put three episodes in the can before I announced the podcast and launched it. Since starting, I’ve never had less than two weeks of content on tap. Because of that surplus, for ten months, the show has never been stressful.
I also built out my system for production, so when I brought Dez on to start producing it was a smooth transition. I then had a lot more capacity to focus on the creative, my craft as an interviewer, and experimenting with new formats.
I started a lo-fi second show called ‘Practicing Purpose’ to increase the number of shows I produce. I’m up to two shows a week and plotting a third.
When I think back on the things I’ve created, this three-step pre-creation process consistently shows up. A clear point of view, making space and developing a system gives you the framework you need to create for a sustained period.
The most important things I’ve created were not the things people see. It was the energetic environment that enabled me to create consistently.
I hope this helps.
Have a grateful day.