So apparently what makes a podcast likely to ‘succeed’ (define that how you will) is having a clear aim of what your pod is trying to achieve. Plus, now that I am nearly 25 at the time of writing this, I need clear and structured goals to make sure I maximise my chances of curating the adult life I want for myself. RIGHT??
Great, glad we agree. So in determining my overarching goal I found myself thinking about the kind of content I want to be releasing. How do I want someone to feel after listening to an episode of the ProgressPure Podcast? What do I want to encourage them to do? It got me thinking about why I started this podcast and figured it might be helpful for me to write it down and give you more insight into my story.
The Dinner Debates
Back in 2019, a year after having left uni, I found myself in the real world of adulting where having an in depth knowledge on Vietnam, politics, 18th C pirates and the Victorian ‘Freak Show’, these were just some of the awesome topics I covered in History, weren’t required. You were now just expected to know about Brexit, understand the ins and outs of political parties, have a good knowledge of the development of AI and the latest on Syria. I realised that I didn’t know enough about anything going on in the world and had forgotten a lot of what I had learned. Finding myself in situations where people would ask my thoughts on X,Y,Z and hearing, too frequently, my response sounding something like “ah to be honest I haven’t read nearly enough about it to know anything so….” I decided I needed to start reading again.
I realised that at uni and at school I massively benefited from the structured deadlines of exams, essays and tutorials whereby you had a topic and had to do a sufficient level of reading for the prospective date of the essay hand-in, exam or class debate. Whatever it was. Not having that in my adult life didn’t give me enough pressure to motivate my own learning.
I decided that I couldn’t be the only one who felt this way so I thought it would be cool to organise dinners/drinks of 8-10 people in a pub in London (when socialising was a thing) with a specific controversial topic, decided a few weeks ahead of the event, so that invitees could all do independent research and come with an opinion, enough knowledge to be willing to form an opinion and to challenge someone in the debate. Anyone who came had to be willing, open-minded, non-judgemental and forthright.
From the months of Sep 2019 – March 2020 I was hosting these dinner debates, but then Covid happened and even though we did 1 debate on a Zoom call, it wasn’t the same.
The ProgressPure Podcast
During Covid I was put on furlough by the main company I work for, WalkUp, (which is the coolest app ever but that’s a whole other story…) And found myself with a lot more time than normal. So in between runs, learning Hebrew, eating popcorn and reading I filled that time with listening to podcasts, aired on YouTube and typically hosted by American comedians, e.g. Theo Von, Bobby Lee, Andrew Santino, Joe Rogan, Rick Glassman, Whitney Cummings and more. I quickly realised there weren’t that many women who were a part of that circle and not many female podcasters I looked up to.
I wanted to listen to women who were funny, chilled out, intelligent, quick, witty, who were ultimately positive, showed leadership in their own lives, took responsibility for their shit all while being massively down to earth. Is that too much to ask??!!! Maybe.
I noticed that most of the comedians I were listening to were in their late to mid 40s and were only right now reaching their pinnacle of success but most of them started working in their early 20s. Success in your chosen career field doesn’t get gifted and with no one coming to rescue you, you have to put in the hours every day for decades to achieve your dream. The worst that can happen is that you ‘fail’, or though, do you really fail if you gave your life your best shot and live with no regrets?
I started to reflect on this more and more and tbh I don’t know the answer but I know that I want to live my life trying and if that means embracing the fear of failure, embracing it so much that it’s not a fear but a possibility, just like absolute success is a possibility then I’m good with that. So I thought about it and thought, where do I want to be when I’m 40 and what can I do now that’ll help me get there? In my dream world I’d have my own podcast or show which I own and am supported by an amazingly close knit team who all care about the mission.
So, why podcasting? Why do I want an audience? Why do I want to build a community which I can turn to and which we can all seek advice from? Community is everything and good, healthy relationships form the basis of that. To have good relationships I believe that one has to do a lot of personal development. That doesn’t mean change who you are but have the humility to be aware that a lot of people have walked the path before us and that we absolutely do not know everything and our behaviour, thought-process, opinions and more are (thankfully fluid af). Life would be so boring if we just knew everything from the start and didn’t have the chance to grow. I haven’t always been so embracing of personal development, inward reflection and change but I’m lucky that my close network, aka my brother, family and best friends are more aware (whether from life experience or their own journeys) of such and have recommended some pivotal books in my own development.
‘Principles’ by Ray Dalio, ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ by Stephen Covey, ‘What Got You Here Won’t Get You There’, by Marshall Goldsmith, ‘The Art of Happiness’ by the Dalai Lama, ‘In Search of Identity’ by Anwar Sadat, ‘The Score Takes Care of Itself’ by Bill Walsh, ‘The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching’, by Thich Nhat Hanh, ‘Goals!’ by Brian Tracy. Dude I have read so many freakin’ books this year. That is literally just some of the ones I’ve read. It’s funny because while that could seem like an arrogant statement, the reason I’m surprised at myself for reading so many is because it’s very clear I’m enthusiastic and excited to keep reading such books. Meaning I’ve found something that hits a good-kind-of-nerve within me. Give me War and Peace and I’ll fall asleep (still struggling to get past page 4.) But the idea that you can become a better person, to your family, friends, to strangers, the waste collector, the Uber driver… That you can make people feel something important about themselves when you’re around, that you can help them feel seen and heard. You can listen and use yourself as a vessel to learn something new. That you can feel truly fulfilled when you’re giving someone your time and you can appreciate another being for their differences. By appreciating others and seeking to understand, before being understood, you can shake your own judgements, negative vices and be reminded on a daily level that you don’t know everything, in fact you really don’t know much at all. That’s the art of conversation. (To me anyway) and that’s something which really excites me.
Back to the mission. From reading the above and being aware that I have to genuinely care about the content I am creating so that I don’t do a ProgressPure 1.0 and suddenly be like “ahhhh I don’t wanna do this anymore byeee *radio silence for 2 years*”… I must be clear in my intention. I want my podcast to inspire people to try and be a ‘better’ version of themselves by becoming radically open-minded through human connection, debate and listening while having a laugh. Doesn’t sound as mystically descriptive as you were hoping for? Maybe not but that’s okay! To be honest it’s up to you to define what a ‘better’ version of yourself looks like. Maybe that’s being more down to earth, humble, kinder. ‘Radically open-minded’ is something I may have stolen from Ray Dalio, (thanks Ray 😘) what greater gift in life than having no judgements because you’re that open-minded? Where every suggestion is a possibility, where you don’t respond with “nope” because anything could happen. The second part, “through…” firstly “human connection” to me, is saying, I want people to feel inspired to be better through forming real life relationships, through emotional and physical bonds and face to face interaction. Through debate seeks to encourage those to have hard, interesting and controversial conversations with the intention to learn, not to prove a point or ‘win’. If you can walk away from a debate having learned something new, you’ve won. But if you do end up smashing the debate and winning then hell yeah revel in your victory. Lastly, through listening. If there is one thing all the above books have taught me it’s that listening is truly the biggest conversational skill of them all, and something we’re not taught… Ever. We’re taught how to speak but never how to listen, which is shocking considering that hopefully in a conversation you’re listening at least 50% of the time. Listening is important not just for yourself so you can learn something new, but also it’s respectful to the person you’re conversing with. It gives them psychological air and an environment to express themselves in which they feel seen and heard, their existence and experience is being appreciated by you.
And by having a laugh because, well, do I need to explain this? Life is tough and I believe that in the face of hardship it’s often best to do so having a laugh. Of course there are moments for sadness, despair yadda yadda yadda, but ultimately if you can find the humour even in the darkness of life, and of course, the lightness of life and especially find the joy in laughing with and at yourself, then I think it makes life that whole lot more enjoyable.