So you think you're pretty good at something you've been doing for 30 years?
There's no better time in the history of the earth to notice your blind spots and YouTube them into strengths.
Today we’ll just go for a quick dip in the pool. Nothing’s more refreshing than a good swim. Thanks for joining me poolside in this #vanlife of a podcasting publication!
I learned a funny lesson about my own overconfidence yesterday and I wanted to share it with you. It’s not the first, nor likely the last, time I will learn this lesson. I thought I knew something really well, and it turns out I didn’t.
I grew up a swimmer. Swim meets every weekend, four hours a day of pool time. I honestly wouldn’t recommend it for most people. Especially because even after all that effort, I never got in the same neighborhood as elite swimmers in the Olympics. They’re so fast!
But I’m still a pretty good swimmer. Even my middle aged-self gets the occasional compliment on my swimming ability when I hop out of the pool. Yes it feels good. A couple weeks ago I had a guy tell me that he needed to “learn that flip turn thing.” I didn’t have the heart to tell him that if it takes me two seconds to complete a flip turn, then I have spent well more than 200 hours of my life literally flip turning.
Ok so recently I’ve been swimming a lot, and I’ve noticed my times getting back to the range they were when I was swimming on a team. Stoked!
And then I realized my mistake. I’m still relying on the same coaching advice I’ve had my whole life. But swimming has changed! We could call it “swim stroke technology,” and it has advanced. I hopped on YouTube and sure enough, hundreds, maybe thousands of frame by frame analyses of the best swimmers in the world with explanations so clear and concise you can feel the water on your skin while you watch.
What a world of instant learning we live in!
I made the same mistake with podcasting back when Chris and I were making Mobycast. We believed we must be making one of the best software how-to shows on the planet because we had more than 20 years of experience each. Sure, we listened to a few other software shows, but only as a way to confirm that our show was smarter than the other software shows. Sure, maybe it was, but we were missing something so critical!
We didn’t understand people. We didn’t know what keeps them listening, what makes them tell each other about shows, and how to turn listeners into fans. It was fully within our capability, but we didn’t bother learning.
This reality started to dawn on us after making over 70 episodes, and not seeing that audience stickiness. That’s when we finally started treating podcasting as an art that we needed to take seriously and learn. It’s embarrassing to write this because it’s so obvious.
And just like with swimming, once you start looking, you’ll discover multitudes of help, advice, groups, forums, and classes. Some free and some paid, but the information is out there.
I guess I need to figure out a way to remind myself not to rely on knowledge already gained. To keep learning, and to distrust my “I got this, I know this” instincts.
Speaking of opportunities to learn, we have a new Timber story reading available today. Here’s the apple link.
Written by podcast consultant and journalist Amanda Cupido, this is the story of how Drew Ackerman turned Sleep With Me into his full time job creating a whole new genre of podcast in the process.
Drew lays his struggles and anxieties bare in this story, so it's really useful for newer podcasters wanting to learn about making the leap.
Thanks for reading! I think that next week I’ll have something really exciting to share, so if there are a few hundred people that you’ve been holding off on telling about this newsletter, this is the week to stop procrastinating!