Welcome back to Profitcast! In this week’s podcast, Brian drops some observations he’s been making about the top podcasters and performers. It is his mission, after all, to discern what it is that sets them apart from everyone else. What are the people at the top doing to succeed?
We’ve established by now that it’s difficult to replicate the success of other podcasters. We can follow the same steps and make the same choices, but the chance of seeing the same return is very slim. That said, it is still worth knowing what they’ve done to put it into context and glean insight in that way. Brian brings up the important fact that many successful podcasters managed to become the first in their topic or niche, and frankly that is hard to do still at this point in the industry. However, the great fact about life is that we all, as individuals, are unique! Even if we can’t be first, it is still possible to find that niche that gives us the same opportunities as being first did for others before us. That is largely the theme that Brian follows in this podcast: how to think about your approach, how to think about your style, your uniqueness, and catering to those elements by being the youest you!
One particular story comes to mind of a friend who spent many years as a talk radio host. When I first met this man, we’ll call him Billy (because I just watched Gremlins), he was a serious arguer, but amicable in the way that many debaters are not. He was genuinely interested in hearing other viewpoints and went out of his way to give people the opportunity to express their viewpoints. The great thing about Billy is that he is one of those rare intellectuals who can express his opinions with colloquial articulation, which is to say, in a way that everyone can understand and grasp.
Then, one day, Billy is offered a job in talk radio. Everyone I knew, who also knew Billy, thought this was a perfect match. He’s considerate, he’s generous, he’s eager to get to the truth, and his conversational style is engaging. He lays on his opinions just hard enough that he makes you want to argue your own viewpoint. He was absolutely ideal for talk radio.
And for a long time he was very ideal! He took the person he was every day, the person I’d come to know, and brought him into the radio show. He covered local and national topics, social and political alike, and helped to educate the airwaves using his expertise (he’s an attorney). He took calls from people who phoned the radio station wanting to get on and argue a point or discuss something in greater detail and he was, somehow, capable of revealing ignorance or bad reasoning without hurting the feelings of the person calling in. In my opinion, that is a very, very rare gift.
But as the years went on, I began to think that it was less about the fact people don’t have this gift and more about the state of the business. Talk radio, the way the business of radio wants it to be, isn’t a friendly conversation between a host and a bunch of callers who are eager to have a civil discussion about the important topics of our culture. Nay. Talk radio incites. It makes people feel the extreme of both ends of the spectrum. Listeners in the middle of that continuum do not return regularly for a show, it’s the people who are incited by the host that return.
The station wanted Billy to be edgier, to cut callers off by talking over them, arguing points more emphatically than may seem strictly necessary, and poke fun at people from time to time. The evolution of his style changed gradually as he began incorporating these elements into the way he hosted a talk show. He became less conversational and more aggressive with his words. It was less about debate and more about telling people how wrong or ignorant they were. Slowly, we saw this change effect Billy off the mic as well. We could see it take a physical toll on his mind and attitude. His general conversation style was a lot rougher, like he was behind the mic, and he lost that stellar quality that made him articulate complex points in a relatable way.
He continued on with the talk show for a couple years. Here and there the station tried to mix things up, giving him a co-host, for example. But it was never the same to Billy as it was in the beginning, and he admitted that to us. As much as he loved doing talk radio, the business was just not demanding hosts like him. When he was finally let go, I had this overwhelming feeling from him that it was a take-it-or-leave-it sort of deal. Where, yeah, it was hard to lose that income and that opportunity to tell thousands of people your opinion on this or that, but it also seemed almost a relief.
It is never too late to reassess where you are, what you’re doing and what your goals are, then make the necessary adjustments in order to realign it all. It’s never too late to realize that you’re heading down a path that will be hard to come back from and make an intention to be different and take your podcast in a different direction. If you aren’t being true to you, being true to what you want to do and what your goals are, it will be hard, if not impossible, to sustain your podcast for long. Brian just recently made this adjustment himself! Sometimes your listeners don’t even see what’s going on, but can understand and resonate with your reasons for making the change, and respect you all the more for it.
One last analogy before I wrap up here. I practice yoga, almost daily, and have made a couple really interesting observations lately that I find extraordinarily cool. I’m not the first person to think of these, I know I’m not, but this is how I see it.
At the beginning of each yoga session, and I have more control over this when I practice alone, I take about 3-5 minutes to focus on my breathing. I sit cross legged, close my eyes, sit up straight and broaden, and soften, my shoulders. For the first minute or two I just try to find a rhythm with my breath, to keep it steady and come into a place of peace. After two minutes I’m more intentional about my breath, breathing deeper and heavier to warm up my body for when I begin moving around. For the last minute, I make adjustments to the way I’m seated. And this is the point of this analogy. After four minutes of sitting and breathing, then finally becoming aware of the rest of my body again, there are small adjustments that I make that feel dramatic. Maybe it’s sitting up just a little straighter, tucking my stomach in just a little more, rolling my tailbone down to the floor. After sitting with my eyes closed for four minutes, I am already so far away from the world outside that I’ve become very used to the way my body is there in that moment. Because of that awareness, the slightest movements feel a lot bigger than they are.
Sometimes the adjustments we need to make aren’t as dramatic as we we think they are. Sometimes we think we’re making this huge change that everyone is going to notice, but in reality it’s only really noticeable to us. Whether it’s a big dramatic change or a subtle, almost unnoticeable, change, the important thing is that we’re making the adjustment because we believe it will be to our benefit. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t go on! Stop. Assess. Adjust.
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