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Podcast relaunch? It’s not an easy one. But in this post I want to focus on the Why as opposed to the how. We’ll keep the how for a later post. And yes, I’m talking about The Design Your Thinking podcast indeed.
One of things I enjoyed when I was living the corporate lifestyle was the time I spent on the road. Commuting to work everyday took about 2 hours to and fro by car. Plus the number of travels, both national and international, left me with a lot of time for myself.
My addiction to podcasts started roughly in early 2011. The fact that I could listen to someone who was living half-way across the globe at a time convenient to me was fascinating. I soon ended up spending a lot of my waking hours listening to podcasts and audiobooks. But somewhere inside, this addiction was getting the better of me.
In one of my many trips to the states in October 2015, I finally gave in. I remember that week vividly. I landed in San Francisco on a Sunday afternoon. The first thing I did as soon as I checked into my hotel room was…?
Let’s rewind this story to February of 2015. I had just registered for the San Francisco Marathon. It was just a couple of months since I restarted blogging. I was clearly getting more interested in podcasts and podcasting itself. With my decision to follow my interests, I was convinced that this time, I would take my interest seriously.
I started to connect with a lot of people to validate my interest in podcasting. I wanted to know what it took to creating a good show. After doing a thorough research talking to people, reading articles, listening to the best shows, I was convinced to give my interest a chance.
Being an audiophile, I decided to invest in the best microphone I could lay my hands on. Here are my recommendations if you are getting started.
I knew podcasting was a completely new beast. And, this question haunted me – “what am I going to podcast about?”
I was always fascinated by learning and creating. I always found myself doing one of these all the time. But the act of learning podcasting and creating a podcast seemed overwhelming for a few different reasons.
But then I realized the only way to do something was to actually do it. It sounds so cliche, but there’s no better answer. There was one thing I made myself clear. My mission is important. I had not written all of it down in a manifesto back then, but it was clear to me as to Why I’m doing this. I decided to start a show with something I already knew.
Since at that point I was doing product management, and created software products for over 14 years, I decided to start with that.
But I was still uncomfortable with my own voice. So I used my marathon training runs as a way to train my voice. More on this later. I wasn’t a well-known professor like Stephen Dubner (of Freakonomics fame) or covered war stories like Guy Raz (from NPR). But I did create products for over 14 years!
I wanted to find an accountability group or a mastermind, but I couldn’t do that. Then I remembered what someone once told me. The best way to learn to be like experts is to imitate the experts you wished to be like. So I started to scribble pages and pages of notes after listening to all the shows I was listening to at that time.
That was the fastest way for me to learn the art of podcasting. I learnt everything from recording, audio intros and bumpers, voice overs, post production, audio engineering 101, all in the next few months (here’s a link to everything I use). All of them by imitating or taking expert recommendations word-for-word.
The Design Your Thinking Podcast was launched on 17th October 2016. I started recording in September 2016. I wanted to get comfortable talking to strangers (after cold-emailing them!). Like I said, I decided to reach out to people in a space I was familiar with. I reached out to people making products. As a result, I got to speak with experts and influencers in product management, design and entrepreneurship.
I was curious to know how these people think. How did their minds work? What decisions they made? How they looked at themselves? I know that can get really complex. I decided to call it the product mindset based off-of Caron Dweck’s book Mindset (I highly recommend reading this!).
In broader terms, I wanted to know if there was something common in the way these people think, that the rest of us could learn from.
I started cold-emailing my guests. There were moments in the initial days where I was almost in tears, when I saw people I held in high esteem, actually accepting my invitation to be on my show. The first person who I invited, and who instantly (literally!) accepted my invite, was Jonny Nastor who is the host of the Hack The Entrepreneur podcast (thanks Jon!). I saw his show rise from day one, and he was a creator and building products.
From my first guest Jon, to many others who ended up being on The Design Your Thinking Podcast, I started to see this trend. Many of my guests had a background in creative arts, or made career changes from creative arts to other forms of creation. No, I didn’t pick them that way – it just turned out to be so.
Like Jonny Nastor, who is a drummer, I had many guests on the show who started the career in music, art, filmmaking, as circus crew members, and many more. Many of them still pursue these arts actively.
As an artist myself, I started to get really intrigued with this pattern. Certainly, this was not coincidence.
It was 9:30pm on a Thursday night. I got on a call with Karen Dillon. She was the editor of Harvard Business Review who had quit her job to write books, and to spend more time with her kids and family. The conversation was one of the most memorable conversations I’ve had in the recent past. We recorded for over an hour, and spend some more time after the interview.
The conversation centered around the book she co-authored with Professor Clayton Christensen. It’s titled How Will You Measure Your Life, and the center piece of the conversation that stuck onto me was the one about the choices you make. I highly recommend you listen to both part 1 and part 2 of the conversation.
I enjoyed these interviews a lot. By August 2017, The Design Your Thinking Podcast had crossed the 200,000 download mark. I continued to get words of appreciation and feedback my email and on social media. But the conversation from June had really got me reflective.
After many many days of note-taking and scribbling, I decided to capture all of that in one little manifesto. It’s titled The Design Your Thinking manifesto. You can read it here (direct link to the PDF).
The manifesto-writing exercise made it clear that The Design Your Thinking podcast needed a relook. At the least, the show needed to focus on people who are creating, than people from a few professions that were related to making products.
Perhaps we needed a fresh new season of The Design Your Thinking podcast?
The conversations and the manifesto paved the way to me even starting to think about a fresh season – Season 2.
So now the question was – “what is Season 2 going to be all about?” Here’s my answer:
Season 2 will focus on the stories of ordinary people from around the world who’ve embraced their inner creative to explore the unexplored, create experiences, reimagine industries and the world for the better. These are people who’ve harnessed their super powers to reimagine their lives and everything around.
That was a mouthful. But I hope it gives you some idea. The key words are in italics, and I’ll leave it at that.
It’s all coming together now. The show outlines, guest invitations, location (yes, I’m considering video too), cameras and of course the microphone! My PR 40 is waiting!
Alright, I’m clearly excited and I do sense it in you too. Let me quickly answer a couple of questions that are (or will) probably lurking around as you read this post.
If any part of the above story or the the deeper stories in the manifesto hits a nerve, it’s for you.
In other words, if you are a creator that’s creating products, offering a service, creating digital content, creating experiences, you probably want to subscribe to the show right away!
You can expect to hear journeys, stories, how-tos from people who are pretty ordinary, who went on to do something extraordinary. This season will be a lot more interactive and you will get a chance to share your stories too!
I want to share the updates of the new show with you, as the excitement is starting to build. Signup for the newsletter below. Leave a question or a comment below. Or even better, do both. Let’s talk.