What does it take to create an authoritative podcast? Innovation and creativity are two of the most critical drivers of success anywhere. And when it comes to podcasting, marrying these two forces can be a recipe for greatness. Creativity is essential for developing original, engaging content that captures listeners’ imaginations. On the other hand, innovation is necessary for coming up with new ways to produce and distribute that content and finding ways to stand out in a crowded marketplace. This kind of thinking is precisely what today’s guest, Izolda Trakhtenberg, embodies. Izolda believes innovation isn’t just about the latest fad. It’s about creative thinking and mindfulness, and ethical actions. This refreshing approach has made her a sought-after speaker, educator, and coach for creatives and business leaders. Join Izolda as she discusses the creative and innovative approach to building and growing a podcast.
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How To Embrace Mindful Creative Collaboration To Make An Authoritative Podcast With Izolda Trakhtenberg Of The Innovative Mindset Podcast
I have a legendary broadcaster in this episode. She is just off the charts. She has spoken to Spotify and their team about podcasting. She’s an absolute rock star in the podcasting world from what she’s been able to achieve from her show. I’m going to go through her bio, but then I’m going to say some things about her because I have had so much fun getting to know and talking to her. We did an extra-long interview here than I normally do because I couldn’t stop talking to her. There’s so much to delve into.
Izolda Trakhtenberg believes innovation isn’t just about the latest fad. It’s about creative thinking and mindful ethical actions. This refreshing approach has made her a sought-after speaker, educator, and coach for creatives and business leaders. For years, Izolda traveled the world as a NASA Master Trainer, transforming perspectives on planet Earth. She’s released four books on communication, collaboration, and self-improvement.
Nowadays, you’ll find her speaking at conferences. I’m looking for the next great ocean beach or singing for hundreds of people all while interviewing peak performers on creativity, ethical innovation, and saving the Earth on her hit podcast, The Innovative Mindset. I love that. Innovation is something that I could talk about all day long because I wrote articles on it and did a ton in innovation. Innovation and the innovative mindset are not something that gets put together very often, but it is something that people are striving to understand.
Mindset is huge in about every category of business. When we start thinking about how we get to be more innovative, get the creative flow continuing to go, and do those things, you might start putting innovation and mindset together and start thinking about that. There isn’t anyone better to ask to speak or talk about that than Izolda Trakhtenberg.
Izolda and I have gotten to know each other and had so much fun. She’s so funny, which makes her podcast even better because she’s got this great sense of humor on there. She’s talking about how to combine inspiration and action together. Let’s take some action. Let’s have Izolda talk about The Innovative Mindset and everything she’s been doing with her podcast that could work for you too.
Izolda Trakhtenberg believes innovation isn’t just about the latest fad, it’s about creative thinking and mindful, ethical actions. This refreshing approach has made her a sought-after speaker, educator, and coach for creatives and business leaders.
For years, Izolda traveled the world as a NASA Master Trainer transforming people’s perspectives on planet Earth. She’s released four books on communication, collaboration, and self-improvement. Nowadays you’ll find her speaking at conferences, looking for the next great ocean beach, or singing for hundreds of people — all while interviewing peak performers on creativity, ethical innovation, and saving the Earth on her hit podcast, The Innovative Mindset.
Follow Izolda Trakhtenberg on Social: Instagram | LinkIn | Facebook | Youtube
Tracy, thanks so much for having me. This is wonderful and fabulous and all the good things.
You’ve been featured by Spotify. You spoke to Spotify. I want to start there because it sets the groundwork for why I’m having you on because it’s so different than all the others. How did that come about? How far into your show were you when that happened?
I was in the show at the very end of 2019. I was about a year and a half into this iteration of the show. I would love to say that it was something I did, but it wasn’t. It was good SEO that got me. They found me, which was incredible and powerful that it happened to be that the things that I’m focusing on were exactly the things that they were looking for. Because I had a lot of that SEO built into my website, they found me and were like, “We’re doing this event.“ They had announced they were going all-in on podcasts and went, “We want you to be on the show to podcast.” They wanted me to podcast to their internal people. That’s how all of that went, and then they featured the show after that.
That’s so fantastic. What did you talk about?
Mindful creativity. We think of Spotify as this incredible cutting-edge creative company, but most of its employees are engineers. A lot of those folks are thinking about coding. They’re not thinking about the creative aspects of what they’re doing. The woman who booked me for the gig wanted the opportunity for the engineers for the vast majority of the highly technical people to have a little bit of exposure to that creative mindset and thinking about innovation from a source of creativity, creative thinking, and inspiration.
Because I married creativity and mindfulness, she also wanted them to have some tools to build that mindful awareness and maybe even get some ideas on how to build a mindfulness practice because they’re working hard. They’re working their patooties off so she wanted the combination of both mindfulness and creativity, and then the third level of that, being from a podcaster’s perspective. I happened to be able to do all three. That’s how I got the gig.
It’s so unusual what you do. I’ve worked in the innovation space for 30 years. All I can say is marrying creative mindfulness is just not an ordinary combination. It’s pretty extraordinary. For her to even be searching for that is also quite forward-thinking in and of itself.
There are a couple of different meanings that I attach to innovation. To me, as its base, innovation is inspiration plus action. You’re inspired to do something and then you take action on it. The inspiration comes from either your creative mindset and/or the ability to be mindful to see that there are problems that need to be solved. If we’re looking at innovation, being something that is problem-solving, especially from that creative place, to be aware that there are problems that need to be solved, that’s when you need mindfulness.
When I was developing this way of looking at how we can be innovative and help people solve their problems because I believe we’re all in the business of solving other people’s problems, when I was looking at it, one of the things that have helped me is my mindfulness practice. I’ve had one for many years. That aspect of it has allowed me to be more aware to have more perceptive skills already developed because mindfulness allows you the opportunity to focus. Once you are able to focus, you can see some of those problems. That inspiration and creative thinking allow you to start coming up with solutions and then take action on them.
In one of the very first articles I ever wrote for Inc Magazine, when I wrote my innovation column there, I interviewed John Assaraf. He is all about mind mapping and the whole idea of focused dream boards and all of those things. He preps so amazingly for our interview. He had Post-It notes in front of him that he was doing and I could see him pull one off after he covered that.
He was covering the top, but he had such an interesting perspective. I said to him, “I’m so curious about this because I feel like I’m a highly innovative and creative person, but my brain is crowded. There’s a lot of noise in there. I don’t feel like I ever get it quiet enough even when I meditate. I feel like it’s still noisy, but my ideas are still flowing.” He said, “That’s okay. If you can quiet it enough just to have those ideas come to the surface, that’s all your brain needs to take it to the next place.” That released me from feeling like I was failing at this meditation thing and not getting my mind quite enough, but I wasn’t. I was still doing innovative and successful things. All of a sudden, my mind got quieter. I had to stop working so hard at it.
Much of it is on top of trying to be mindful. We put all this pressure on ourselves to be successful at it now. That’s not what works. When I work with my clients, I talk about that a lot that this is not something that you should judge yourself for because that’s taking energy that you could be putting toward something positive and using it toward beating yourself up. Instead, you have to forgive yourself for that stuff. I have to say something that I hope you don’t mind me saying. Some people thrive on chaos.
I lived that. I get that. You are saying something that resembles me.
I completely understand that. I have been in my life also as a person who thrives on chaos. There’s nothing wrong with that, provided it is purposeful chaos. If you can go, “Everything is just going to go everywhere,” but then you can harness it back when you need to, then I say go play. At the same time, you want to focus on what matters for yourself and the things that you choose to focus on.
Sometimes you’re going to reach out like a figurative Post-It note and grab the thing that you’re thinking about out of all the chaos. There’s nothing wrong with that. The key for us is to remember that sometimes we are the boss of the chaos, and sometimes the chaos is the boss of us. What you want to do is make sure that you’re falling more on the former than on the latter.
Let’s talk about that moment when you grabbed onto the idea of starting a podcast. That’s your point of inspiration. You started the podcast and then took action on that. When was that and what made you think that this podcasting thing would be worth doing?
I have to go way back to high school for this. That was a long time ago. It’s not podcasting because I’ve been out of high school for a long time. I was involved in my high school radio station so I fell completely in love with radio, the notion of sitting in front of a microphone and having these incredible conversations. I ended up being a professional DJ for a little while and did my college radio station stuff. The notion of speaking and having that interaction voice-to-voice is something that has been a home of mine for many years.
When I discovered podcasting, it came in as, “This is the next iteration of talk radio. I know how to do that.” I got the inspiration to talk about storytelling. I’ve had various podcasts. The first one was called Tell Your Story Better! because I was spending a lot of time teaching people how to tell their stories so they were confident standing up in front of people, how to figure out the writing part of telling a story, and all of those things. People were saying to me, “You should talk about this on a bigger forum.” I married the notion of, “Talk radio means podcasting and storytelling,” and then the Tell Your Story Better! Podcast was born.
When I put that to bed, I kept talking about creativity and the fact that creativity was going to be the well you were going to dip into in order to get to that story part of your life. That became the Creative Mindset Podcast. I love creativity. Please don’t get me wrong, but I feel like creativity, just for the sake of creativity, has its place, but I’m always a problem solver. We are facing so many challenges now.Innovation is inspiration plus action. Click To Tweet
Creativity in and of itself is wonderful, but I wanted to bring it into innovation. I went, “How do I marry creativity and innovation?” That’s where all of my three Cs were born. I started talking a lot about the three Cs, and all of that has become The Innovative Mindset Podcast. When I do that, the inspiration for it is always what are the problems that we’re facing and how we solve them in a new and, as much as possible, compassionate way.
What are the three Cs? I want to make sure everybody knew it.
The three Cs are Creativity, Compassion, and Collaboration. I should start saying three Cs over another C, which is Curiosity. Nothing happens without curiosity. The three Cs are there, but the foundation of them is always curiosity. It’s like you were saying, “What got you started in wanting to do this?” I wanted to find out how and if it was possible. That all takes that foundation of curiosity.
Curiosity is my favorite part of podcasting. I get to interview interesting people and talk to people like you because I’m curious. That feeds into my mind and my innovation flow because when you have that, and you’re taking all those pieces of input in, that flow happens. That’s the collaboration part that you’re talking about. I love that. What’s your favorite part that you’ve found out about podcasting? You said you were attracted to the radio, but what about podcasting? What’s been the favorite part for you?
It’s the opportunity to get curious about different people and how they’re solving problems differently, how they’re looking at the world differently, and tease out questions and answers in a way that nobody else is doing. I love hearing this. I was doing a podcast interview with someone. He said to me, “The way you ask your questions, no one has ever asked me questions like that before. That was fun. You got me thinking about things I’ve never thought of before. I love that.”
That is such juice to me because it makes me think and be very grateful for the fact that maybe I’m doing it in a way that’s a little unique. I love helping people discover new things about the things they already love. In podcasting, as I tell the people I’m interviewing, “This is just us having a chat over coffee. I don’t want you to think that this is formal at all.” We are potentially brainstorming together in our conversation to make things even better.
To me, leaving something better than you found it is the end all be all. That’s why when I’m doing podcasting and get to that place where the person themselves is thinking, “I’ve never tried to figure this out before. Let me see if I can put all the pieces together. This is how they go together,” when they have those sparks of inspiration while we’re chatting, that’s magic.
You mentioned there about your interview process. There’s always a reason I pick a show with the host that I’m having on because you’re going to learn something from them. I’m not going to tell you all the details of it. You need to listen to understand why the way she asks questions is so different. What I want to know is how you prep for it. How do you prep for your interviews? Are you preparing those questions ahead of time? Are you doing them off the cuff? How is that working for you?
There are a couple of things. It’s a combination of both. First of all, before I interview anybody, I ask them to fill out a form. On the form, I’ll ask them for their social media so that I’ll have all of that. I also asked them for a bio. I will then ask them what is their professional philosophy because I want to know where they’re coming from. I tell them very clearly what the mission of my show is because my show is in the Earth conservation space. I’m not going to take a lot of people who are like, “I work for the oil industry.” I’m not going to accept those people as interviewees.
I ask them, “Tell me four questions you would like to be asked.” They will write down the questions that they would like to be asked. I look at those questions, their website, and their social media. I do my research based on articles that have been written by them or on them. I take those four questions as the basis that I ask them to get to me and figure out my own take on those four questions. Generally speaking, the questions that they’re going to want to be asked are the questions that A) They want to highlight the answers and B) They’re probably experts on, but I don’t want to go, “Do you think the sky is blue?” “Yes. The sky is blue.” Boring.
You want to ask a better question.
I would want to ask like, “What do you think makes the sky blue?” I would always want to ask what and how questions. I almost never ask when and where, and certainly never why. I don’t ask why questions because built into a why is a need to defend or justify what you’re doing. I don’t ask them. I don’t want to know why. I want to know, “What are the steps? How are you doing this? Where and when?” You can look those facts up, but to get to the what, the how, the steps, and the juice of it, those questions work much better. Yes or no questions are factual and lovely, but they don’t make the conversation progress.
I want to talk about the SEO you mentioned before, which is the reason Spotify found you. For those of you, I’m defining Search Engine Optimization, SEO. If you haven’t heard that term before, I’d be shocked nowadays because it is an old-school term. You must come from a blogging background if you understand SEO. You must be doing a good job there. What did you find when you started your podcast that you built into it that put this great groundwork and framework for SEO that has allowed you to be found so easily?
I would love to say that I did it on purpose. I don’t come from a blogging background. I’m a much better speaker than I am a writer, even though I’ve written six books. Am I talking substantively in my show notes, my website, in my programming, on the About Me page, and all of that, about the things that are going to benefit my audience?
For example, on my About page, I say stuff about myself, but a lot of it is focused through the lens of what benefit my audience would receive if they booked me to give a speech or a workshop. I’m not ever going, “I’m an immigrant.” I might say, “I’m an immigrant. I was born in the former Soviet Union.” That has given me an insight into different cultures and how different cultures can thrive. If I’m talking about building a corporate culture, I’m going to talk about it from that perspective. I might also put Daniel Coyle’s book, The Culture Code as one of the things I talk about.
I’m building in the keywords, like culture, company culture, team building, and all of that into what I’m writing about, the keywords, meta-tags, and all of that. If somebody is looking for, “We want to improve our company culture,” they’re going to Google company culture or improving company culture. That’s the thing that I’ll do. The other thing I do, and one of my favorite websites now is Answer The Public.
The thing about it is if you put in corporate culture as one of the search terms, what it does is it tells you what are the questions people are asking about corporate culture, team building, or innovation. If I know the questions because Answer The Public gives you back that information on what are the questions and how have they been phrased, the people have been asking about innovation. I then know a lot more about it. If people weren’t asking about it or if I get back and somebody in Timbuktu asked it years ago, maybe it’s not a good topic to try and build a podcast episode about. If there are a lot of questions being asked and a lot of curiosity about it, I know I’m on the right track.
I’m so glad you’re using it that way. It’s such a great way to build the shows. When we were doing our show on 3D Printing, we would use Answer The Public all the time. When you’re advanced in your knowledge of something, you forget about the rookie questions.
I read somewhere that we adapt very quickly to not remembering what we didn’t know. As soon as you know it, you can’t un-know it. Once you know something, it’s hard to not know it anymore. It’s almost impossible. The brain goes, “There’s that little factoid.” It’s going to be there forever unless something else pushes it aside. Most of the time, you can’t un-know it. I liken it to this. If you take a straw and bend the straw until it bends forever and ever, it will bend in that same place first, always.
It’s because it happened. The crease has happened, and that’s what it is. It’s the same thing with our knowledge. How we innovate and think is always going to be from that perspective, because we already have it. It’s difficult and challenging to change that perspective to a different focus, which brings me right back to mindfulness. I put on my mindfulness hat and my mindfulness pompoms and start cheering about that.There is nothing wrong with thriving in chaos, provided it is purposeful chaos. Sometimes we are the boss of the chaos and sometimes the chaos is the boss of us. And what you want to do is make sure that you're falling more on the former than on… Click To Tweet
This happened to us in our company. My young daughter decided to start a podcast. I said, “This is an opportunity for our team to get the a-ha of what we’re not explaining well anymore, because we’re now in the weeds.” Even though some of my teams have never podcasted before they started being client success managers, I was like, “I want you to go through and listen carefully to the questions or figure out where they go wrong and didn’t do something right because it wasn’t easily understood for them.”
They’re a tech-savvy generation. If they’re having difficulty with it, you can imagine that lots of our clients who are in an older generation are having difficulty with it. We’re not seeing that anymore. I was like, “Take this opportunity to have them go through the whole process and find out where things fall apart.” They excelled at a ton of things, but quite a few little things did, we were like, “That’s not as obvious as it should be. That button should be bigger. These things should be there.”
If a tech-savvy group couldn’t do it, how can we expect the rest of our clients to do it? It’s a great opportunity to open your mind to new ideas. I love that. Let’s do our three questions that I do with everyone here because I want to get at this. You have such a very specific show. As you mentioned before, it’s Earth conservation. You’re looking at innovation in this natural view of things. You must be picky about the guests that you’re having on the show. How do you vet them? How do you get good guests? Are you out there seeking or taking solicitations? How is that working for you?
There are a couple of different things happening, and it’s a great question. The podcast got into Podcasting For Dummies. That was lovely and made me very happy, but that made the podcast explode. It’s a feature podcast in the book, which makes me super grateful. Lots of people have discovered it, and that’s lovely. The thing about those is that PR pros have discovered my show, which means I’m getting about 15 to 20 pitches a day. It’s a lot. One of the most important things that I can do to vet my guests is to be clear on the mission of my show. I only interview people who are peak performers in the creative social impact and conservation spaces, nobody else.
Remember how I said I don’t use why? I do in this case, “Why is it that you should be on the show?” Here’s how I do it. I have a little deck that I send to all the PR pros that I work with. I give them, “These are the parameters, folks. This is what I need before you pitch me any guest. Your client should be ready to talk 60% of what they say should be directly benefiting my audience, 30% of what they say should be directly benefiting them, and 10% can benefit me, but I’m happy if it’s all going to my audience. 70/30 will be fine.”
I need them to understand that. I also need them to know that the people they pitch me need to be from those perspectives of creativity, social impact, or Earth conservation. If they aren’t, don’t pitch me. I’m training the PR pros who routinely solicit me to do that, to only find me people to pitch who are going to satisfy that.
In addition to having the guest form where I want you on the show, and I have all these questions for you to fill out, I have another form, which is a Google Doc, that if you’re pitching me someone, and you’re not sure if they’re going to fit, then you fill out this form that gives me almost the exact same questions. I then also say, “How is your client going to satisfy my podcast mission? If you can’t, I’m afraid I can’t have you on the show. If you can, and you show me that you are working, that’s great.”
I was interviewing somebody who is in the NFT space, but they are very interested in doing NFTs that are carbon neutral or carbon negative. Not only is it going to be social impact and creative, but they’re actively trying to find something that’s a conservationist. I wanted them on the show, but I wanted to see where that line was so that I could feel confident that when I present this episode to my audience, they’re going to be there in that way. As far as how I solicit people, I’m brazen.
I was in a restaurant in Manhattan having dinner with my husband. I saw someone who had a pin that I thought was amazing. I stopped him and said, “I love that pin. I have a podcast all about innovation. I would love to have you on my show. I have my business card ready. Please get in touch with me. Can I have your card?” We exchanged cards, and he was on the show. Otherwise, if you don’t ask, the answer is always no, so I will ask people. I will get inspired by people and come out.
I have stalked people on LinkedIn. When it’s somebody whose work I admire, I will start commenting on their stories and posts. I will talk to them. Eventually, once they know a little bit more about me, I’ll pitch them, “I love the work you’re doing. I would love to highlight and elevate you on my show.” My show now has a pretty large audience, so when I say to them, “I’ve got many thousands of monthly listeners,” they go, “That’s interesting to me.”
There’s nothing in the process of them coming on your show where they should say no to. I’m going to be the testimony to say that for you because that’s so true. She’s in a rare area. In that rare area, she’s the most successful. That’s so amazing.
Thank you so much for saying that. This is a process. If you’re interested in having a show, they always say niche down. Absolutely but also, don’t be afraid to take chances. If I can do it, you certainly can. It is all about knowing who you want to talk to. Sometimes, you’ll ask a friend of a friend of a friend too. I’ve had that happen as well, where someone will go, “I know exactly who you need to talk to.” Have materials like your podcast media kit and all of that, that you can say, “This is what I do so you can see.”
A lot of the earned media I get now because I’m able to go, “This is where you can find my media kit. This is where you can find the top three episodes, the top three performers, or the top three that are the most fun or the most poignant.” Depending on who I’m pitching for what, I have all of that already figured out. You can go to the website. You can find it all, and I can give you the link for it. If they go to the link, they’ll have all the information readily available. That is crucial because it’s all laid out for them. Either having me on their show or agreeing to be on my show becomes a no-brainer because everything is all organized. It looks professional because it is professional.
You then try to deliver as a host. You know this because you’re such a great host yourself. You try to give them a fantastic experience while they’re chatting with you. Last but not least, after I chat with someone, one of the things that I’ll do in my thank you email, which I send right after is, “If you know somebody who’s in this space, and you think they would enjoy being interviewed, I would love to have your recommendations. Please let me know.” Always ask. It has brought me some of my favorite guests because I was like, “I would love to have from you where are the people, who are the people, and what might they want as far as being on the show,” and I get them on the show.
That’s how we met because one of your guests recommended you to me. That’s exactly that pay it forward. Why not ask for it? There’s no reason not to. They had a great experience. They’re likely to recommend you somebody great. It’s a very often overlooked area. Thank you for that thorough description. It’s because it’s a whole ecosystem of how you have this working for you. It’s multi-level. I love it. It’s so refined for you too about the idea of having parameters like that you’re setting. I have a form that is on my site. If it’s not a PR person that I’ve worked with before, who I know only gives me the good people, I make them go through that form, but I don’t use the form.
The form is like if you randomly came across a website and wanted to apply yourself or those PR people who are annoying me with too many that aren’t right, I’m like, “There’s a form to fill out,” and I ignore them when they come through the form. Once they get right, I send them to a direct link so they can skip the form and don’t have to go through that stage. It’s a lot more direct for them for their clients, but only if they’ve graduated to that, “You sent me two great people in a row. Now you get it. You’re going to get up to that next level.” I also do it that way. That gating of it is important.
I do. As your audience learns more about who you’re going to interview and the content you’re going to bring them, they will give you feedback also. I get some lovely comments from the people who listened to the show, not just in reviews. I have a little contact form on my website. I always say at the end, “If there’s something you want me to know, please contact me.” I get some lovely comments, “Do you know what I really love about that interview? I would have liked for you to ask person X this.” I didn’t even think of that. I’m learning from my audience what it is they want to hear. It enriches my experience, but hopefully, it also helps them get more of what they want when they listen.
Let’s talk about that because that’s the second question that I always ask everybody. It’s about your listener growth. It’s about growing listeners and engaging with them. How do you create a better growth path and engagement path for those listeners?
I’ll tell you something. Much of it is word of mouth. I would like to think that it’s all tech, but it’s not. People tell people. Here’s one of the best things that you can do. This is weird as far as top-tier versus mid-level tier versus starting out guests because I have a combination of all three. There is a place where people will share, and there’s a place where people will not share the episode.
That’s one of the reasons. You asked me about the juice of what it is that I love about podcasting. I said, “I love asking questions no one else is asking.” Part of why I do that in addition to the fact that it satisfies the curious part of me is I want the person I interviewed to be so excited about the things that they said. Also, realize that it’s not rote and not something that they’ve said 5,500 times before, so they want to share the episode out.Being orderly in the day-to-day of your life allows you so much freedom to go completely bananas. Then you can think outside the box and do all sorts of stuff. Click To Tweet
More often than not, when they have that great experience where they came to a huge realization, figure something out, or detailed something that they had never thought about before, they want to share more often. Whereas some people like, “I’m not sharing this. I’m here to talk to your audience. I’m not so interested in having you in front of mine.” It is what it is. That happens sometimes. For me, what’s interesting about this is that it is an interaction and an opportunity for me to interact with their audience just like it’s an opportunity for them to interact with mine. That’s one of the things.
I want to stop you right there because I want the readers to feel the emphasis on this. It is an unusual place. Reena Friedman Watts is the one who introduced us to Reena’s show. When I was on Reena’s show, that was probably the first time I got to tell a lot of personal stories because people invite me on to be an expert in podcasting, a marketing expert, or an innovation expert so all I do is talk about characteristics that make that successful. It’s like how to always, but I don’t get to always tell the good personal stories like how did I get here, what drives me, what’s my relationship with my dad, and things like that. I don’t get to do that often.
For me, when her show has come out, I want to share it. I want to tag my dad in it. There’s a slightly different model of it. It’s because she got me to tell stories that I don’t get to tell every time. That originality is going to serve you well. That’s why you’ve been very successful because it is original. I see your guests are sharing. They are sharing on our show, and that’s part of why you have such great listener growth.
I’m grateful for that, and I thank you for saying that. I want to say it’s just that, but it’s not. It’s also, how am I talking about the episodes on social? How am I talking about the episodes themselves during the episodes? Am I making the show notes exciting and compelling enough? Am I making my social posts, TikToks, Instagram Stories, etc., interesting enough so that someone who’s new might go, “I want to check this out?” I do five episodes a week, which is a little nutty, but there it is. One episode is an interview, and the other four are deep dives into creativity and innovation from different perspectives.
A lot of the time, the episodes that give me the most bumping listenership are ones that I think, “I’m just going to talk about it because it means something to me.” It’s not even necessarily something that’s going to be right on point, but it’s meaningful. The question I asked was, “Is an Artist Intelligent or Just Talented?“ I got a bunch of feedback on that because people have been thinking, and this is telling that you can only be one or the other. I went, “No.” If you’re talented, you must be somehow insane or mad like van Gogh. They’re not thinking that you can be well-adjusted, live your life, and also be incredibly creative.
Flaubert said something along the lines of, “Be orderly in your life so that you can be wild and original in your work.” When I first read that, I went, “Yes, please. Thank you.” Being orderly in the day-to-day of your life allows you so much freedom to go completely bananas in the art or the work or whatever. You can think outside the box, then you can do all stuff. When I create these episodes, these listeners tune in because it’s about a very specific topic, but it’s a specific topic that many of us have probably thought about. As soon as I marry those two things, the listeners bump right up.
They’re engaging, commenting back, and sharing their thoughts on this. I love that. You’re creating a dialogue on what’s a topic episode, which is so unusual. It doesn’t happen as often as it should.
I love that you said that it doesn’t happen as often as it should. Part of this for me, and I have to be very honest about this, is that I didn’t expect that to start happening. To me, it’s like a radio show where you’re talking as opposed to a call-in show. The tech might even already be out there with something where you can have people call in when you’re podcasting live. I don’t do it yet if it is even available because I’m not ready. The notion of if somebody is listening, and they’re like, “I have a question,” I’d love that.
I would love to be able to bring somebody into the conversation because sometimes I feel like, “It’s just my opinion. I like my opinion or wouldn’t have my opinion, but I would like to hear other perspectives.” I’m happy to make marvelous mistakes in the service of doing that, but I’m not sure how to do it in a way that will be beneficial to my audience yet. That too will also grow them. I’m of the mind that I should always tell myself the truth. If I’m not good at something yet, I’m okay admitting that I’m not good at it. If I am ready, I’m going to jump right in because that curiosity is what drives me to do the things I try.
Let’s talk about monetization because that’s the last thing that I always ask everyone. Monetization could just be a return on investment in whatever way. It doesn’t have to be odd money. That’s the typical answer, but it’s whatever that is. You’ve been doing this for quite some time now, and it’s morphed over time. Are you making money in your business? How is this translating? What return investment are you getting from podcasting?
There are two different questions there. The business is making money. That’s that. I do workshops and one-on-one coaching, and I do professional speaking on creativity and innovation. The podcast in many ways is in the service of that. Up until then, the podcast has been a labor of love because I was like, “I’m going to do it. It’s going to be super fun. I’m going to get to talk to artists, innovators, and Earth conservation people in all of this.” I then started going, “This is a lot of work. I need to do something else.” I do have some monetization things. I have some affiliate stuff going on. I’ve also launched our merch line.
I have this fun logo for the show. It’s a little light bulb, and it’s got a little I on it for Innovation and I for Izolda. It worked out very well. I love the little logo. I went, “I’m going to put up a merch line.” You can get it on a key chain, button, mug, t-shirt, or hat. I designed it myself. It’s out there and you can buy it. The thing about it that’s interesting is that people are buying it. Here’s the beautiful feedback loop. If somebody likes your show enough to buy it and display it, then other people go, “What’s that?” I have a little sticker that says The Innovative Mindset Podcast with the light bulb.
I have it on my computer. When I’m working at the library, people will see it because it’s very sparkly, and love sparkles. I get asked, and I’m like, “The podcast is such and such” and then I have my business card ready, “Here, listen to an episode or two.” There’s a beautiful synergy that happens there. I hate synergy as a buzzword, but I love synergy as a word. Because of that synergy, it increases engagement and people who are listening. It does get me some money because people are buying the merchandise.
I’m glad it’s working out for you because I would hate for you to feel overwhelmed and quit your show. Five days a week is daunting.
The interview show on Mondays is long. My record is three and a half hours. It was with a guy who started podcasting in 2004. He’s written books on podcasting. He wrote Twitch For Dummies and Discord For Dummies. He’s in the tech world, and we had a lot to talk about. The other Tuesday through Friday episodes is short 5 to 10 minutes. It doesn’t take me a lot of time. I have to tell you something. I don’t edit. That’s key. That saves me so much time. I love that I don’t edit because it’s a slice of life.
Everything is authentic. The only thing I do is a slap on the intro and the outro, and the rest of the episode goes as is. It saves me a lot of time. My audience loves it. They love hearing all the different weirdness that happens. I had a Grammy Award-winning guitarist on the show, and he had his dog in the studio with him while we were doing the interview. In the middle of the interview, his dog threw up. He said, “You’re not going to keep that in there.” “I am. I’m going to keep it in.”
It goes under that Grammy artists are just like us.
That’s the thing. Why not? This is life. This is it. We are living, hopefully, the very best life you get to live. Sometimes that means that you have to clean up dog vomit out of your shoes. That happens.
You cracked me up, and we have so much fun talking about that. Here’s the thing. You were mentioning that you were headed towards. I want to talk about the future of your show and what you’re doing. You’re also doing something interesting personally. You’re starting to do a little stand-up comedy. Do you bring a lot of that into the show? Are you looking to be a little bit more comedic in your process? Is that going to fit in?
Maybe if it’s a happy accident. The thing about stand-up is I’m doing it for fun, but I’m also doing it because I’m a professional speaker. I would like to be funny on purpose. I’m funny now. When I’m funny, often I look back, “That person laughed. Why did they laugh? I’m not sure.” English is my fourth language. There are things where I don’t get puns. People make puns, and I’m like, “I don’t understand what that means.” My husband is a big punster. He’s always looking at me like, “You didn’t get that?” “No, I didn’t get it.”There's no barrier to entry to podcasting. This is the time for us to all have our say. If you're on the fence about starting, now is the time to begin. You have absolutely nothing to lose. Click To Tweet
My husband’s a punster too, but I don’t laugh on purpose because it encourages him. You’ve got that down already. You wouldn’t have to, at some point, shut it down.
If it had been on purpose, I would. Unfortunately, I don’t get puns. The point is, in my ignorance, if I’m funny, that’s great. I realized a few years ago that I wanted to be able to be funny on purpose so I took a stand-up comedy class, and then the pandemic happened. After the standup comedy class, I decided I’m going to start doing open mic nights and going to start being funny on purpose. Also, it gives me a chance to cuss, which I don’t do on my show. I’ll be honest.
I get to talk about whatever I want to talk about, and I’m finding that it’s bleeding in because some of the subjects that are interesting to explore in standup comedy are all about innovation and creativity. I’m talking about the things in a funny way that I’m also talking about on the podcast. There’s a beautiful marriage there that’s happening without me doing it on purpose. If I’m funny on the show, and you like it, thank you for laughing.
I have a Binge Factor episode where I interviewed a stand-up comedian named Stephanie. She was talking about how she was training speakers by bringing in some comedy techniques that they could apply. You would tell the story or whatever. I tell the story from the stage all the time, and it’s the story of how the next generation uses Alexa and AI. She was like, “Make a little twist to the story.” My youngest daughter was five at that time. She had a little list because she was missing her teeth, and she couldn’t get Alexa to respond to her.
She was getting really pissed that our sister was controlling the AI. One day, she runs over to the AI and says, “Aliexa, play Who Let The Dogs Out,” which wasn’t the song, but that’s what she said to do, “Switch it up so the song is funnier.” It’s the more annoying one that everybody knows. She’s like, “Switch it up.” I did it and got much more laughter from the stage and much more a-has and understanding from making that one little switch, which was a comedy tip. You can tell a true story, but twist it around a little bit and maybe choose a little funnier name for something that has that. I love that story. It’s one of my favorites now.
It makes so much sense that something that happened that you don’t even think was funny, with just a little change in perspective, suddenly becomes hilarious. There are things that I think are funny. Rich, who was a professional clown will look at me and go, “Really?” It’s my husband, Rich. There are times when I think I’m funny and I’m not. The best way to find out is to put it up in front of an audience. Get people who don’t like you very much to see if they think it’s funny because people who like you are going to be more inclined to tell you, “That was great,” even if it was crap. You have to be careful.
That’s what I say about your podcast idea. Maybe don’t ask your friends and family. Ask a little bit outside of that.
Ask people who don’t like you very much and who don’t have any reason to be like, “I’m going to blow smoke up your skirt and tell you it’s fabulous,” when really it’s only so-so.
It’s not to blow smoke up your skirt, but that’s my job here at the show. It is to identify your bingeable factor so I can share that with the world here so that they understand why they should be listening to your show. Here I am to psychoanalyze your show and share your binge factor. The Innovative Mindset has such an original perspective, a combination of viewpoints, and great learnings because you have a great experience here. You’re combining them together in a way that we didn’t know could be so good.
That’s what I think of it when I hear it. I come from a big background of innovation and an understanding of mindfulness. I didn’t know I could learn so much from listening to your show about how I could change my creative process and how this could apply. Even if you’re not as dedicatedly interested in conservation, which I am, even if you weren’t, the takeaways are so strong in giving you a perspective on how to be more innovative in everything you do. I can see why Spotify picked you. They made a great choice.
That’s very sweet. Thank you. I appreciate your words so much. It’s amazing to me. You’re amazing at what you do, but to hear it reflected back like that in such a succinct manner is invaluable. I hope you realize what you do for people to be able to reflect back to them on what you are able to synthesize. You’ve got such a great brain. It’s wonderful.
Thank you for that. I’m going to stop you and tell the audience and you exactly why I do that. This is what I call Ego Bait™. Ego Bait™ is a short, funny name for it. What it is is is when I share out this quote in a graphic, which you’re going to receive after being on this episode, you’re going to receive a quote version of it. When I do that, you’re more likely to share that than you were If I gave you a quote that you said on my show because you don’t want to share your own stuff with your own audience, but hearing what I said about you is helpful to you. It’s a way you’ll promote your show.
In promoting your show, you’re promoting you on my show, which helps my show grow too. It’s a collaborative process of making sure that I’m giving you something that you’re more likely to share. You were talking about that earlier, like how you get your guests to share. It’s important. This is one of the tools that I use in that process. I identified a physical vehicle to do it, because number one, it makes it clear to you and me that this is how I feel about your show.
It makes it also clear to the audience who’s reading, but it makes it clear to my team, “Cut here and use this piece,” without me having to smell them and give them direction. It’s a physical and productive way for me to go ahead and instruct my social media team without having to give any written instructions because I’m lazy on that set. I’m like you, I’d rather not edit. I swear that half the time, my team doesn’t edit a show because I’ve done this so often. There’s the rare edit in there.
What a great idea. A friend of mine, Gloria Chow, talks about the difference between sales and marketing. What she says is, “Sales is when you’re at a bar and a guy comes up to you and was like, ‘I’m a doctor. I volunteer at the shelter every Saturday morning. I’m a good guy,’” and you’re like, “Oh.” That’s sales. She said, “Marketing is when one of your good friends comes over to you and goes, ‘I saw you talking to that guy. He’s a doctor. He walks dogs and helps them walk every single Saturday. He’s such a good guy.’” That’s marketing. When somebody else tells you how good something is versus that person, that’s marketing. When she said that, I went, “Yes.”
That’s such a great light bulb moment. I love it. That’s a good description of it. It goes back to our conversation about the guest pitches that we get from all those PR pros who all they do is say, “He’s a doctor. He’s been on TV,” and all this other stuff that I don’t want to hear.
I want to know what you’re going to do for my audience. That’s what I want to know when you pitch me. It’s funny when I talk to people about this thing, I always say, “I don’t want to pitch you. I want to figure out how to pitch you.” That’s the difference. I want to know what’s going to be successful. The same thing goes for my show.
When somebody is pitching me, they’re not pitching me. They’re pitching my audience. They have to tell me what benefit they’re going to bring to my audience. If they’re going to be able to bring a big benefit to my audience, they’re much more likely to get booked on the show than if they’re just pitching me, “You’re going to love this.” I don’t care if I love it. I care if my audience will love it.
Izolda, you need to be speaking at more events. I want all of those reading out there, if you’ve got an event, she’s the perfect person to bring in. It applies across multiple industries, not just in the conservation space. Spotify brought her in to talk podcasting. Think about that. You want someone who’s this engaging, thoughtful, and thought-provoking to be a speaker at your event. I have been to a lot of events where I thought, “What is up with these speakers?” I want to listen to someone who’s fun, funny, and got the whole package going on. You certainly do that, so I hope that there’s a reader out there who’s going to reach out to you and say, “You got to come to my event.”
I would love that. Find me. That would be terrific. Thank you, Tracy. I appreciate that so much.
Before we end completely, I want to make sure that you offer up some advice. You were in Podcasting For Dummies and have spoken to Spotify. What advice do you have for our podcasters out there who haven’t quite gotten off the fence and started their show yet?
First thing’s first, start, even if you don’t know what you’re talking about. There are people like Tracy out there who can help you. There’s information out there that will allow you to begin. Figure out what you want to talk about and start talking. It reminds me of Pump Up The Volume. I don’t know if you remember that movie when Christian Slater’s character was like, “You just have to begin. You have to start talking.” At the end of that movie, everybody finds their voice. You have a unique voice. Use your voice.
You’re not going to find it if you don’t start.
There’s no barrier to entry. This is the time for us to all have our say. If you’re on the fence about starting, now is the time to begin. You have nothing to lose.
Thank you. Izolda. I’m so glad you came to the show. I’m so glad Reena introduced us. That was like one of those, “You should have my friend on. She’s amazing.” That was the marketing that she did for you, which was like, “Here’s my booking link.” I’m so glad we connected up. The Innovative Mindset is such a fabulous show. Check it out now and take a look. Learn some things about how to podcast and learn some things about being mindful of your innovation and creativity.
I love when I can take away from a show that this should be on more shows. That’s exactly what happens. I’ve referred Izolda to 5 or 6 different podcasters in the amount of time since I interviewed her. If I could refer someone so quickly to so many people, think about how much more powerful your show could be. Her show can be powerful because she can pick and choose where she goes. She can go to somebody else’s podcast and decide if she wants to ask them back onto hers.
These are the models of how things work. When you’ve built your podcast up to this brilliant stage of it being a powerful authoritative model, deep dive into great content in a niche area, all of those things build together to create an amazingly strong referral network for you. That referral network gets you a lot more. It’s magnified as to how much more impact it can have. More people are going to be reaching out to you because everyone’s proud to be on your show.
They’re sharing it and doing all those things, but more importantly, the audience is accepting it and asking for more. Speakers for agencies, networks, marketing meetings, and corporations, like in the case of Spotify here, all of those things come in and say, “This is the right person because they can command an audience, and that audience is out there seeking more.” That’s what they’re doing.
Izolda Trakhtenberg has this down. She got a great show going on there. She should be speaking more in more places so you should be hearing about her everywhere. She’s got all those technical details underneath her all in place. She’s been thinking about her keywords. She works through Answer The Public, which I love that tool. I’m so glad she mentioned that because we haven’t talked about that in a while. She talks about how the things she does with her media kit, the top three episodes, and asks for things.
All of those things are making her show because she’s got all those technical details all down and underneath her. It’s working as a power player along with her and making everything more successful, magnifying everything she does, and making it so that she can do the things she loves the most. All of that engine works underneath her. I wouldn’t expect anything less from someone who came out of working for NASA and doing the top-level speeches and all the things that she’s done in her career so far.
I can’t wait to see what she does with her podcast next. Izolda Trakhtenberg is the one to watch. The Innovative Mindset, don’t miss it. Check out her next episode and know what’s going on. There are a ton of episodes. She’s got so many under her belt. She puts out five a week so she’s got plenty for you to check out.
Make sure that if you’d like to invite her to speak at your next event, you can make that happen because Izolda is the one who should be speaking at your next event. Take my word for that. Check her out and reach out to her. She’s so accessible and funny. She’s going to make it worth your while to have a conversation with her. Thanks, everyone for reading. I’ll be back with more bingeable podcasters coming up next.
- The Innovative Mindset
- John Assaraf – Tracy’s inverview in Inc Magazine
- The Culture Code
- Answer The Public
- Podcasting For Dummies
- Reena Friedman Watts
- Is an Artist Intelligent or Just Talented?
- Twitch For Dummies
- Discord For Dummies
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