Lately, I have been thinking about thought leaders. “An expert is someone who knows something. A thought leader is someone who is known for knowing something” (Church, Cook, & Stein, 2016). Perhaps more importantly thought leaders are influencing others and leaders in their fields. A number of thought leaders have influenced my views on creativity, leadership, and teams, how I run my consulting practice, and how I facilitate and lead programs. Undoubtedly, thought leaders have influenced you as well. Thought leaders have been around as long as people have. Imagine traveling for days via horseback to meet with a guru and ask their advice. Yet, these days our access to thought leaders is unprecedented, which I think is amazing. One of the best ways to access thought leaders is via podcasts.
This month I’m joining NPR and others to celebrate and amplify podcasts. March is #trypod month! If you are new to podcasts it’s time to try a podcast. #trypod. Clever, eh?
But Wait, What is a Podcast?
Google defines a podcast as “a digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or mobile device, typically available as a series, new installments of which can be received by subscribers automatically.”
Podcasts are like modern radio shows. One of the coolest things about podcasts is there is no set format which leads to lots of creativity. Some are three minutes, some are three hours. They might be released daily, weekly, monthly, or randomly at the whim of the creator. Some are funny, others are serious. Some are well-done, some are quite bad. The possibilities really are endless and more creative approaches will continue to emerge. And best of all, they are free on iTunes, Google Play, and other apps.
The Power of Podcasts
Now that we all know what podcasts are, I want to share how podcasts have impacted my life.
The first podcast I ever listened to was Smart Passive Income, which was also one of the most influential podcasts for me. In this podcast Pat Flynn, a millennial millionaire teaches listeners how to develop and grow their business in a slow, smart way. After three or four people recommended the podcast to me, I finally got the hint and checked it out. I had never listened to a podcast before and barely knew what they were. I started with Pat’s first episode and after 30 minutes I was hooked. I then listened to Pat all the time. Pretty soon his philosophies and ideas were sinking in. Pat showed me how to think differently about my business and soon new ideas were pouring out of my brain. I felt like the neurons in my brain were being rewired. I was learning so much so fast and I loved it. It was revolutionary for me.
I listened to the first episode of Pat’s podcast in the summer of 2014. I remember I was walking my dog in a park near our house. Pat was explaining how he was nervous about starting the podcast because he didn’t know if he would be any good or what might happen. I smiled because nearly every human has had that thought at some point – doubting our skills/abilities, but moving forward anyway. It can be a powerful experience. In that moment, I decided I’d like to start a podcast too.
The Deliberate Creative Podcast Was Born
Initially the idea of starting a podcast was just an inkling, something rolling around in my head. I had no idea where to begin or how to start. Then in December, a friend who was an experienced podcaster reached out to me and offered to coach me through the process. I jumped at the chance. Following his advice I bought a microphone and mixing board, came up with a name, designed the cover, recorded my first episodes, and eventually launched in May 2015. I had no idea what would happen.
Now, nearly two years later with 65 episodes and counting, here are a few highlights:
- In the first 8 weeks I was ranked in iTunes #7 in Management & Marketing and #3 in Science and Culture. Wow! People were actually listening!
- Later, a colleague from California asked if I could lead a webinar based on episode 15. Yes!
- My podcast has connected me with people from around the world and I recently Skyped with a new friend from Poland.
- I recently reached over 38,000 downloads. This is small potatoes in the podcast world, but for me and my narrow niche I’m excited.
- My podcast has pushed me to create new content to share with all of you. Whether I’m teaching you about the latest research or reaching out to colleagues to interview, I have definitely stepped out of my comfort zone through podcasting. I rerecorded the first episode five times because I didn’t like how it sounded. Now, I barely edit at all. I’m a better speaker and more comfortable with my flaws being shared because, well, we are all human, right?
I’ve enjoyed both listening to other thought leaders via podcasts and hosting The Deliberate Creative. I can confidently say that podcasts have had a positive impact on my life. I highly recommend listening to one that sparks your interest. Try a few out and see what you like. You might be surprised what you learn.
Sounds Cool but, I Don’t Have Time to Sit and Listen to a Podcast
I don’t have to time to sit and listen either. The best thing about podcasts – you can listen anywhere. If you have a smart phone you already have an iTunes or Google Play app for playing podcasts. I usually listen to podcasts when I’m doing a relatively mindless activity that only requires half my attention. If you don’t have a smart phone (I recommend getting one), just listen from your computer.
My Favorite Times to Listen to Podcasts:
- Driving – I plug my phone into my car stereo. My car is a bit old so I upgraded to a stereo with a USB plug and I’m so glad I did. I listen when running errands or on long car trips.
- Shopping – especially grocery shopping or in places like Target where I really don’t need to interact with the staff. Although, I do take my earbuds out at the checkout.
- Making dinner – I use speakers and play the podcast in the background
- Cleaning the house, car, etc.
By listening to podcasts I have extended my learning exponentially. I have learned from amazing thought leaders in many fields. Special thanks to all the thought leaders with podcasts who have influenced me: Pat Flynn, Elizabeth Gilbert, Dr. Jade Teta, Jess Catorc, NPR, Srinivas Rao, Shane & Jocelyn Sams, John Lee Dumas, and many others.
If you already listen to podcasts: Teach someone else how to listen to podcasts. Help them set up their phone or computer and show them how to search and subscribe. You might just change their life!
If you are new to podcasts: Ask someone to help you set up podcasts on your phone. It’s easy, free, and you’ll love it! If you don’t know anyone who can help, call me and I’ll explain.
Who are the thought leaders who have influenced you? What are your favorite podcasts? I’d love to hear from you! Share your favorites in the comments below.
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