“How to Become the Center of Influence Through Unfiltered Podcasting” with Riane Puno of the Alma Matters Podcast


As part of my series of interviews about “How podcasters can become a center of influence,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Riane Puno. She is the founder and host of Alma Matters, a podcast that explores the school experiences and successful career trajectories of some of the greatest entrepreneurial and creative minds through candid, unfiltered conversations. She’s also a marketing asset in full-time and freelance capacities in the influencer and startup spaces, constantly finding ways to innovate and move the needle in her strategic approach.



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Can you tell us the “backstory” about why or how you got started as a podcaster?

I graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and when I was there, I was recruited into Bloomingdale’s Executive Development Program after a successful internship. After spending 6 months as a full-time Assistant Buyer at corporate Bloomingdale’s, I realized that the ultra-corporate life wasn’t for me. Much to the dismay of my traditional family who thought I should stick it out, I left the job and went on to work in adtech, a space I thought was booming at the time, as a marketing associate. Naturally, I realized it wasn’t for me — another thing I wanted to cancel out! — because it felt like a young, impersonal company and a complex industry that I wasn’t particularly interested in getting to know.

After a second 6 month stretch, I left the company to land at a place that I absolutely love and beautifully balances out everything I want out of a workplace. Throughout it all, I thought of how much I wish I had some kind of resource that helped me in the discovery of different careers and success stories and how much people could probably relate to that feeling. In turn, I conceptualized the podcast as a way to help others navigate their futures in a more productive and guided way. Being unhappy at work, being lost when it comes to your future ambitions, joining a company because you think that’s what society wants you to do but not what you really want to do — these are all cyclical trends and I want to try and break the cycle by asking accomplished people all the questions that students, young professionals and whoever else struggling in a job wants answered too.

Can you share a story about the most interesting thing that has happened to you since you started podcasting?

A lot of the time in sourcing guests, I really just throw a bunch of darts and see which one lands. I was feeling really ambitious one day and thought to email famous fashion designer, Stuart Weitzman, who as you know has built an incredible shoe empire. I was 99% sure I wasn’t going to get anything back but he replied right away AND gave me his phone number to call him (now obviously it helped that we have the same alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania). Now if anyone asks me who the most famous person I have in my phone is, I can say Stuart Weitzman.

How long have you been podcasting and how many shows have you aired?

I’ve been podcasting since January 2018 and I’ve released 19 episodes. It sounds like a really small amount but I took a long hiatus from around May to August to figure out my strategy and direction with the podcast.

What are the main takeaways or lessons you want your listeners to walk away with?

I think every episode explores a different lesson, and that has always been the goal of Alma Matters and my hope in creating it. From understanding the ways to find a mentor and the right questions to ask that person to discovering the pits and peaks of starting a business to hearing the pieces of advice that successful individuals have kept with them throughout their school and career experiences, there’s something that I hope will inspire anyone who listens to the podcast.

Check out the full interview in Tracy Hazzard’s Authority Magazine article about Riane Puno!

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Podcaster Influencer, Riane Puno of the Alma Matters podcast shares the best ways to:

1) Book Great Guests. If you’ve graduated from a certain university, maximize your network and reach out to successful entrepreneurs, entertainers, etc. by cold emailing, noting that since you are an alum as well, they might respond. Every school has some kind of alumni network that you can tap and there will definitely be individuals that can potentially be great guests.

2) Increase Listeners. Word of mouth really helps with reach so always bring up your podcast in conversation. I’ve also done some live events and will be making a bigger push into the live podcast space in 2020. In fact, if any of you are in New York, you can grab a ticket for a podcast event I’m hosting at Devon NYC with its founders on January 14th.

3) Produce in a Professional Way. Many people go through production studios and sound professionals but you can always create your podcast yourself. Even still, speak to people much more advanced in the field for tips and tricks on producing and watch videos to help inform your editing.

4) Encourage Engagement. Have an Instagram, a Facebook, a Twitter, and a website. Instagram has a lot of tools for engagement that stories provide — polls, Q&As, etc. which help with users feeling invested in your content. Also make sure that the guests you feature post about your podcast on their own channels so that audiences gravitate to your pages and are ideally triggered to listen to an episode.

What makes your podcast binge-listenable? What do you think makes your podcast unique from the others in your category? What do you think is special about you as a host, your guests, or the content itself?

Check out the full interview in Tracy Hazzard’s Authority Magazine article about Riane Puno!