Editor’s note: I recorded this the Productive Flourishing podcast. I hope you enjoy it, and if you’d like to hear more episodes of the Productive Flourishing podcast, you’ll find them in the Show’s archives.
Note #2: This has been tastefully edited from the original narration.
To talk about what we’re doing and how I’m changing the show, I want to talk a little bit about bullets, cannonballs, and tripwires. I don’t know what’s up with all these military metaphors and strategy. Actually, that’s not true. I do know what’s up. It comes from the background that business strategy really evolved out of military strategy and so on and so forth. But anyways.
In his latest book, Great by Choice, Jim Collins talks about bullets versus cannonballs, and one great way of executing a strategy is, rather than coming in full force with everything you’ve got, you test with a few targeted experiments to see how they work. That’s the bullets stage. Then once you figure out what works, you go all in. That’s the cannonball stage. Part of the trick here is figuring out when to switch from bullets to cannonballs.
Before I started the show, I knew that I wanted to get to 50 episodes. Why 50? Because 50 gave me enough to get into a groove to see what works, to get through that period of time in which I knew we would be learning what we needed to learn about producing a show.
Whenever you launch a major new project, there are always things you don’t know. To go back to Rumsfeld: “there are the known knowns, there are the known unknowns, and there are the unknown unknowns.” I knew there were going to be a lot of unknown unknowns.
I’m one of those guys who really thrive on mastery. I want to be great. Starting a new big project like a podcast with interviews, a bunch of guests, and a lot of people listening, I knew that I needed a period of time in which I could just accept that the show might not be great. To get to greatness, I had to work through some of those earlier stages.
Now it’s episode 47. I’m not saying it’s the best show on the planet, because there are a lot of really great shows, but we’ve come a long way in 47 episodes. Fifty was my tripwire. That’s when I was going to decide, “Is this something I want to keep doing, or is this something to do bigger and better, or will I just keep doing what I’m doing?”
I’m not quite to 50, but I’m already decided that (a) we’re going to keep doing it and (b) it’s time for cannonballs. But there is a problem.
I’ve talked to some of my listeners and some of my clients and friends about the show just to see how they like it. Trust me — sometimes that can be an awkward conversation.
“Hey, have you been listening to the show?”
“I didn’t know you had a show.”
“How did you not know I had a show?” That’s one line of questioning that you run into.
The second one is, “Well, I like it. It’s good. But it’s not great.” “Well, why isn’t it great?”
When I’ve asked that question time and time again to friends and clients and readers, the thing that they’ve said universally is that they want more of me on the podcast, which is really, really awkward because it’s an interview-based show. My belief is that when you do an interview-based show, the guest is the star, not the interviewer.
I’ve had a lot of great guests and I’ve had a fantastic time interviewing them, but I’m not the star. That’s going to remain the same when I do interviews. The interviewee should be the star, and it’s my job to pull their story out, to pull their truth out, to pull their message out and share that with you.
So that poses a problem. How does one show up on a show that’s an interview-based show when people want you to show up?
There’s a second tension. I’ve never really wanted the Creative Giant Show to be another how-to show, another place to talk about “five ways to grow a blog,” or another “six ways to increase your sales,” or “the surprising things I learned by changing this one thing in my business,” or whatever that is. If I were doing a how-to show, it’d be a lot easier, but that isn’t what I want.
Make no mistake. I love doing how-to stuff on the blog, and I love doing it on other podcasts where that’s the context of the show. But here, I’ve been limited because this is an interview-based show, and it’s not a how-to show.
So how does one show up for this particular podcast, given what the show is about?
I had some options:
- I could quit doing the interview format.
- I could keep doing the interview format and do more jams with other people, where I invite other experts and thought leaders to talk about what they do, how to do it better, what people should know about what they do, and so on and so forth.
- Or I could do more solo riffs, which is what I’m doing right now. I’ve done a few others, and I’ve had a lot of ideas about what we could do.
I would like to share a lot of essays and thoughts and different ideas that I have via audio, rather than via blog, because another bit of feedback that I’ve been getting a lot more, especially from people who know me behind the scenes, is, “You’re way funnier and you’re way warmer in person than you are in your writing.” Honestly, guys, I don’t know what to do about that. I think it’s the medium. So I had those options.
What I decided to do was to keep the interview format, introduce more jams, and do riffs. So this is the AND strategy as opposed to the “change” strategy.
I’ll be honest here. I recorded a version of this episode about four weeks ago. Due to a lot of different things, it didn’t get into the show schedule. After I had already made the decision to introduce these different elements – the interviews, and the jams, and the riffs – this funny thing happened. The interviews that followed became more jam-y. If you listen to Brigitte’s episode or you listen to Jacquette’s episode (to be published in a couple of weeks), those are actually hybrids, and I didn’t anticipate that, but it’s what happened.
My original idea was that I’d keep the show to 30 minutes (ish); 30 minutes makes it really easy for you to listen to on your side of things. It’s not a huge Thing to listen to an episode. Despite how much I love a podcast, if I see that it’s one of those 55- to 90-minute podcasts, I’m like, “I’m not going to listen to that.” I want to. I mean to. I download it. I just don’t listen to it. If it’s a shorter one, I do.
The challenge is that it’s hard to get a really meaty interview and some more of the “tell us about your work or what you’re going through” stuff in 30 minutes. It’s been really challenging to hit that. So the options were to do an interview that’s under 30 minutes, keep it on time, keep it on point; to do a jam that’s under 30 minutes, keep it on time, keep it on point; or to say, “Screw it” and have a great time and a great conversation and see what happens. That’s actually what’s happened with the last few jams with – Jacquette was one. Willie was another one.
So the plan has already changed. At this point, I’m just saying that I’m exploring different lengths of podcasts and different ways in which we can have a fresh, authentic, powerful, real conversation with each other on the show. We’ll just go from there.
What I’ve noticed in my own show and for those other podcasts that I listen to is that it seems like the best podcasts from the listener’s perspective come from those conversations where people are just really having a great time. The not-so-much-of-a-gamble but still a gamble is that if we’re showing up and we’re having a great time playing this music together, you’re going to have a great time listening to it as well.
Now let’s go back to those riffs. It’s hard to monologue, actually. I do much better when I have someone else on the line, and there are just some ideas that I think would just be really good riffs. We’ll see how that goes. I don’t know what that production schedule is going to look like, and I’m okay with that.
All right, so going forward: We know we’re keeping some interviews. We know we’re going to be exploring some jams. We know we’re going to be doing solo riffs.
For the solo riffs, I could really use your help here. If there is something you know you want me to talk about, please email me, charlie AT productiveflourishing DOT com. Fundamentally, I want to talk about what you want me to talk about because that makes the show fun.
Let’s talk about the publishing schedule starting sometime in September. We’re going to be publishing at least twice a week. I may end up sharing it three times a week, but I think that’s too much to do right now. Just as an aside, it does take quite a bit of time and money, to be honest, to run a show. Every one of these shows costs – well, I won’t go into the numbers, but it is expensive in both time and money.
Part of the challenge going forward is that if we add three times the publishing volume, or we add three times the number of shows that we share per week, then we add three times the amount that we’re spending to do so, in both time and cost. So I’m looking at that. I know we can move to two shows per week, so we’re going to go ahead and do that.
In the meantime, since I recorded the first rough of this episode and now I’ve actually had some sponsors show up and say, “Hey, we’d like to sponsor the show.”
I’m very sensitive about that. At the same time, it’s just fuel that keeps me able to produce more shows and make better shows. So I’m going to be exploring that as well.
In the next 50 episodes, we’re going to be exploring some formats, we’re going to be publishing at least twice a week, and I’m going to be looking at different sponsors to see what’s a great fit for you. As with everything that I promote, everything that I advertise on the website or any affiliate thing, I’m picking only those things that I use, and I’m picking only those products and brands and services that I can emphatically promote or that I would emphatically recommend to clients and friends.
To go refer to the song “Price Tag,” it’s not about the money. It’s about the service, and it’s about what we’re able to co-create together. There may be some other changes to the bumpers and the episode flow. That’s all still up in the air. I wanted to let you know that we’re going to go through this experimental phase. It’s a funny thing — we’re going to be going into that cannonball stage of the show at the same time that we’re going to be playing around with it to see what works.
One thing you may have already noticed is that the show sounds better. A few weeks ago I upgraded my studio. I’ve got a better computer, a better audio interface, a better mic, and a pop filter. So that’s pretty awesome.
So there we have it. We have what I hope will be richer, more powerful, more insightful shows coming your way, we have more shows coming your way as far as frequency, and the show sounds better.
Over to you.
Would you like to help out? I sure hope you do. That’d be awesome. Here’s how you can do that:
- First, you can ask questions or suggest topics at charlie AT productiveflourishing DOT com.
- You can send it that way. You can also go to our contact page, productiveflourishing.com/contact. That’s another great way to get me.
- You can share the show with your friends. I want people to understand that there is nothing uniquely better about those people that they’re reading on the interwebs or those authors that they’re reading or those people that they’re seeing on the news. There is nothing inherently better. It’s just that those people are doing more of their best work, and they’re going through those same challenges that the rest of us are. Please help me find those people and share the show with them.
The most important thing you can do right now is to leave a review. Up until now, I haven’t asked on the podcast for you to leave a review, and that’s mostly been an oversight. So let’s change that. I would love if you would leave a review. It would totally make my day.
Lastly, thank you for being on the other end of the mic here. I couldn’t do this without you. It’s one of those things.
You may have heard me in the past talk about the African philosophy of Ubuntu, which is really radical interdependence. A great way to explain Ubuntu is, “I am who I am because we are who we are.” I am who I am because we are who we are. No you, no we, there’s no me. So thank you for being on the other end of the horn.
I hope that you’ll take the time to leave a review. Buckle up. It’s going to be a fun ride.
Until next time, stand tall.