Starting your platform can be a challenging undertaking, especially if you are starting to grow your following. Gathering leadership advice through podcasts is one of the trending go-to inspirations for leaders today, if you are preparing to choose the said path, you need to plan everything on the whiteboard thoroughly. In this episode, Melanie Parish, an executive coach and founder of Experimental Leader Academy, shares her strategies and a clear blueprint on brand development and leadership for both experienced and blooming leaders. The road is never easy, but this episode show you the ropes to have a head start in the leadership and brand field so you can save time and resources in the process.
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Why Accepting Your Podcast As A Live Experiment Is Success Making Advice From Melanie Parish Host Of The Experimental Leader Podcast
I have a client who has come on board to do a Binge Factor hot seat. She’s going to do a combo. We’re going to do a hybrid. We’re going to do both a little of on-air coaching and tip giving from my end to her as well as get her binge factor and get her tips for you. She is The Experimental Leader. That is her show name and her book. I have Melanie Parish for you. She’s an author, a public speaker, a Founder of The Experimental Leader Academy and a Master Certified Coach. She’s an expert in problem-solving, constraints management, operations, strategic hiring, and brand development. Melanie has consulted and coached organizations ranging from Fortune 50 Company to IT startups. Her individual clients include those in fang and other top global IT companies.
As an author, educator, and creator of The Experimental Leader book, Melanie shows people new ways of thinking about their leadership informed by her understanding of the fast paced ride of technology innovation. She’s based in Ontario and New Mexico. I am excited about talking experimental leader because I love to think about podcasting as an experiment and something that is a work in progress. I like to call things a design of experiment. That’s a term that I learned in product development. When Tom and I were always working in that, we learned that when you create something, a product and podcast, you can’t leave it as its own entity without making improvements of time.
No matter how hard you work at designing it perfectly and making sure that everything is right, by the time you come to market, things shift. By the time you get feedback from consumers or audience in this particular case, things shift in your thinking. You have to think of it as always, a work in progress. I’m a big fan of the Design of Experiments model. The DOE model is that you would change one thing at a time. If you change everything, if you flip it all at once, then what happens is you don’t know what worked and what didn’t. I’m a fan of looking at your shows, experiment all along the way, making a tweak, a shift, a pivot, and keep moving it on the path to creating those things and testing things, experimenting with them along the way.
We did our on-air coaching testing. I did few episodes. I got a lot of great feedback from them. My feedback from my team and from everything that we were doing internally was that there is a better opportunity for us to do more of these hybrid interviews where we’re going to do some coaching and we’re going to do success tips as well. We’re doing that with Melanie Parish. I’m so excited that The Experimental Leader, the queen of experimentation, is right here to do this first hybrid test with us. Let’s welcome Melanie Parish of The Experimental Leader Podcast.
Melanie Parish is an author, public speaker, host of The Experimental Leader Podcast, founder of Experimental Leader Academy, and Master Certified Coach.
An expert in problem-solving, constraints management, operations, strategic hiring, and brand development, Melanie has consulted and coached organizations ranging from a Fortune 50 company to IT start-ups. Her individual clients include those in FAANG and other top global IT companies.
As an author, educator, and creator of The Experimental Leader book, Melanie shows people new ways of thinking about their leadership, informed by her understanding of the fast-paced ride of technology innovation. She is based in Dundas, Ontario and Las Cruces, New Mexico.
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Melanie, thanks so much for joining me. I’m excited to talk experimentation in our show because you are the experimental leader. What made you start a podcast? What made you take on this experiment?
I’m so excited to be here with you, Tracy. I like most experimenters had a problem and I had to solve that problem. I had my book The Experimental Leader came out April 7th, 2020. My big marketing strategy was I was approved to be in Hudson News and Airports. It was the start of the pandemic. My strategy went out the window. One of my long-term goals was to elevate myself as a speaker also out in the pandemic.
My long-term goal was to launch courses and start to do some cool online content. I realized that all roads lead to roam. I thought a podcast was a great way to start to share thoughts and talk about things in a more deep way and not on a marketing way. I’m shy. I have to get people to help me with my social because I couldn’t put things out every day. I would be horrified if I had to do it myself. I thought a podcast was a good way to have deep conversations. Because questions are the heart of coaching, I always thought I might have good questions.
I hear this from a lot of authors who are struggling. They didn’t have the platform they thought they had. You may have found it. You needed it anyway whether there was a pandemic or not. It worked out perfect for you either way and being forced to do it. Your audience is all those people leading teams with a tech edge to it, which I love because you work with a lot of developers, software companies, and tech edge type companies. I think that’s fun. The experiment message lends itself to that. Did you agonize over the overcoming of the title and the name for your show?
No. When people talk about the call to ministry or something, it’s the title of the book. I knew the entire time I was writing the book that I was writing the book The Experimental Leader. That was the book I was writing from the beginning. At some point in the publishing, they were like, “We have to talk about the title.” I was like, “I don’t know what else you would call this book. I know exactly what this book is.” It’s the title of the show. I had a friend who was like, “We don’t want everything to be under the same brand and all of that.”
It’s true but in this case, there are so many podcasts that are targeted to leaders, coaching for leaders, executive information for leaders, and tapping into the success factors of leaders. There are so many shows around that. That experimental portion of it adds an edge and that has put you in a separate place. That’s good that you kept it.
I think so too. I can’t even imagine having named it something else. It is interesting to look at the world through that lens. I also had this big realization. I wrote the book for experienced leaders and often, people inter my business as less experienced leaders. They’re in the most pain like 0 to 3 years into their leadership. I’ve started to figure out products that fill that gap. That’s been interesting too to realize that the book that I wrote and the podcast, all of that is targeted toward. I wanted smart people who are good leaders to read it and get something but I’ve realized there are these earlier gaps.
A lot of times, we put something out there like a book or a podcast. We intend to have a certain audience. It comes out and it turns out we don’t. When Tom and I started our 3D print show and I tell this story a lot, WTFFF?! was geared towards someone who already was in the know. You wouldn’t know the FFF stands for Fused Filament Fabrication. You wouldn’t choose our show if you already know that. What we found was there were so many people thinking, “I’d like to try this 3D printing thing.” Picking up our show, we ended up with this early on audience. They ended up age demographic all over the place, which we didn’t expect either. We thought they’d be young kids starting college or in the garage at fourteen but it wasn’t. They were retirees. It’s the same thing. We sometimes find out surprising ways with our audiences. How did you realize that was your audience?
The leaders in tech, there’s a little bit of chicken and egg. It’s both the clients I already served but it’s also the clients I love to serve. I keep having these interesting a-has or realizations around that client. I had this realization. I have a client who runs accounting in a global organization. This client got an MBA in accounting or finance, did that job for a couple of years, and then got promoted to leadership but never did a Leadership degree.
They’re thrown into it, which is why they’re searching for something. Your show and your book, those are good matches because you’re setting out there. When we’re titling a show, I’d like it to be an embodiment of what the audience is aspiring to. “I want to be a good leader.” Everybody wants to be a successful leader but an experimental leader might fit my personality right, especially if I’m creative or if I have that developmental edge to what I do. Surprisingly, an accountant would choose that. I can’t think of experimental accounting being the ideal thing but you never know.
Everyone is an experimenter when it’s not going right. We have to try new things to try to get a different outcome. 2020 has been the Olympics for global experimental leader implementation.
In one of the episodes that I was listening to as I was listening through your show that I got used to, in April 2020, a month after the pandemic started, someone asked you to give them best practices on being a leader in the pandemic. You were like, “That seems not possible. Would you like what we’re experimenting with?” That made more sense to me.Questions that are the heart of coaching. Click To Tweet
There are so many places we don’t have best practices. I’m in Canada because I’m a dual citizen. I’m watching how the US is opening up, how Canada is opening up and nobody knows what to do. People are trying things. People are doing all their bad behaviors that react to behaviors like blaming. “That guy is doing it wrong, judging and hindsight’s 2020. They shouldn’t have done that.”
You’re watching this global scale of what it’s like to be a part of an organization because we are a world organization.
We’re all a system. It’s never been clearer how they’re related. We all are.
Someone’s experiment might be infecting us. I think of a podcast as an experiment because there are so many variables along the way that we need to tweak and adjust. We look at it as a design of experiment, which is how I look at everything in the world anyway because I’m a designer first and foremost. If we don’t look at it like that, then we aren’t making continual improvements in our show. We go out there. We set it out. We got to give it enough time before we start making tweaks to it. If we look at it as a fluid thing or an experiment, then we’re going to be more successful. It seems that from listening to the show that you’ve made tweaks and experiments over the 40 episodes that you have so far. What purposeful changes have you made?
Some of them are those dumb, annoying things. I realized I said interesting a lot.
I did try a lot in the beginning. Interesting is better than that.
Sometimes, it’s like you’re a deer in the headlights. You know you need to respond but you’re trying to think of the next question. As you’re getting your feet, these words come out of your mouth. I still think of this. In my head, I was thinking about it. “What are synonyms for interesting? I should stick those on a sticky on my computer.” There was that. An early piece of feedback that I got and I love feedback. It was that I should talk more.
I’m so glad you said that because that’s the first thing I thought when I started listening. When I check out a show, my process is to go to your first episode, listen to the first ten and then come to your more recent. I will scan through it and see. Let’s say all your shows were interviews, which they were, except you had one standout that wasn’t. I also picked that one to listen to. That was the first thing. I made a note on my pad. “I wish she had more of her in this. That first episode is missing that.” We jumped right in. We don’t know anything about Melanie Parish. That’s a miss but we do get it later. I saw that improvement over the time in your episode that has it.
Thank you. I feel like my heart is pounding. I’m so happy. I realized in December 2020 two more things that a big experiments or changes. One was I realized I’m a leader when I interview people. I love the interview format but I realized I need my leader voice. I added a little blurb at the beginning where I started talking. I don’t know how many of those episodes have aired. It would have been in one of the latest ones.
I did hear that. This is one of the wonderful things. Readers out there, you’re going to want to check out The Experimental Leader Podcast. Listen to a couple of things that Melanie does both in her open and her close. In your setup, that’s what you’re talking about. This opening that you do past the music and the formal opening. You start to set up the guests that you’re having. That’s you. It’s about your thoughts. You’re setting up that conversation that you’re having. Are you recording that after?
It’s obvious because there’s an energy of what was talked about and a knowledge of it that’s coming through there, which helps us, as listeners, feel that we must listen. That’s the message that we get when it’s done. When it’s done before and you don’t know what’s going to be said, you have hesitancy in your voice. This is natural for most people. “I hope it’s going to be good.” You don’t know but after you’ve done it, you know it was good. You have a different energy about it. That’s why I love that you record that after. That makes a lot of sense for you. You have a strong close. I love that you have an ending phrase that is activating. You tell everybody to go experiment. That’s your ending. That strong close is so important.
I’m a little shy. I noticed even when I’m recording course videos and things like that, I have to tell the person that does my video editing to let me say goodbye one time but don’t say threes because they can’t experiment. It gives me a way to finish, which helps.
Sometimes the speaker messes you up that have you go back and forth and it’s odd.
The other thing that we started experimenting with or playing with is we take either the thing at the beginning or the thing at the end. We use that as our intro on social. I don’t have to pay anybody to create that content. I don’t have to have a hired writer to do that because it’s already transcribed and it’s already there. That’s been a good thing that we did as we’ve gone. They’re engaging because it’s fresh content.
That’s wonderful that you’re finding a reuse for all of those things. Your experimentation is great. What are you going to try next?
I have to tell you the last one. I have one more. It’s because I’m talking about leadership. There’s a lot of old white men who want to talk about leadership. I get pitched all the time. I don’t have a hard rule against talking to old white men about leadership but I’ve decided that if they’re going to be on my podcast then they’re going to have to talk about women in leadership. They’re going to have to talk about race and leadership.
They have to have a diversity conversation.
It’s part of what I want to offer. It’s the value I offer. I’ve started doing that. I’ve had these cool conversations. I also have noticed that there are not so many white people talking about race and leadership. I feel like it’s this important conversation for white people. I heard the phrase, “White people work.” We have to do some white people work. I love that. It feels so important. It made my whole podcast. I felt like I was fluffing people up. I wanted to ask more of them. I feel like I’m asking more and I like it better.
I’m going to tap into our five things that I go over with everyone. The first one is, “How to get great guests.” If you’re going to have great guests on, you got to make sure they’re willing to be open and talk about that. How have you been vetting these guests? How have you been letting them know that this has got to be a part of the conversation? How are you doing that in the process?
We’re having honest, upfront conversations with our guests. My assistant Molly helps vet all of our guests and helps find some of them. I also realized I have a real opportunity to think up show ideas and invite the people that I want to talk about specific things.
You’re talking about getting guests to further a conversation.
My daughter is a chef. In the pandemic, it’s been horrible. She works in a restaurant group. Early on in the restaurant group, the only thing I could think of was they were doing food for all their employees when they all got furloughed. I went to pick up food for my daughter. I left two copies of my book, one for the CEO and one for their Executive Chef. I had no idea if they’d read them or not but they looked like they were experimenting well. I had my daughter reach out and say, “Do you want to be on my mom’s podcast?” They came on. That’s airing.
That’s a great way to find someone. That’s what I did find about your guest list. Your guest list is not people that I’ve heard of or been on 100 different podcasts before. They’re all extremely articulate. They should be on a lot of shows. You found some hidden gems. I think this approach is working for your ballot.
Thank you. I love my guests. I had farmer Alvaro on. I love him. It was early pandemic and his phone wouldn’t stop ringing because everybody wanted him to deliver organic vegetables. They had a waitlist. It’s fun. He was talking about supply chains and the pandemic. His leadership was something different.
This is something so many people don’t know about. How do you get great listeners? How do you increase your listenership?
This one is pure strategy. We look for people who have followings. I can’t always interview farmer Alvaro because he’s not going to help me grow my podcast brand. They have never heard of a podcast.
You’d be surprised. Maybe all the delivery people on his route are like, “I’ll do that.”
It is about making an intention around that, making sure they’re getting automated reminders to put their stuff out on social and they have great graphics, which we get from our shows company, which is Podetize. We love them.A podcast is an experiment because there are so many variables that we need to tweak along the way. Click To Tweet
I’ve already mentioned that you’re a client so don’t worry about that. I appreciate that. The graphics are good for you because it helps with your brands. You have visuals too.
It’s so easy. We promote everything on our social. We also repost our episodes. We try to be in some regular cadence with reposting episodes. It seems like a lot of content to create and then put out one time.
I’m so glad you’re doing that. This is interesting. I was interviewing Whitney Lauritsen, who is our social media strategist here at Podetize. She has a podcast called This Might Get Uncomfortable. One of the findings she had. She’s great at social media. She started out as an Instagram influencer. I hired her to do social media for us. There’s a track record here. She said that she was surprised. One of the most surprising finds she had when reviewing her guests’ lists and all the stuff that had happened over 200 episodes. She hit 200 episodes. The guests she thought were the biggest influencers, had the biggest following, and did the worst with sharing.
She found that the ones in a sweet spot, they’ve got enough to show that they’re putting effort into it but not so much that they can let it go and do whatever. Those people worked harder to share her show. She got more from them because they were growing their social media following. Utilizing publicity had to be a part of their strategy to do that. That’s where she found this sweet spot in there. She doesn’t have numbers to say, “That’s 10,000 Instagram followers or something like that.” It’s so different in everybody’s industry. I thought that’s an interesting find. If you analyze maybe some of your best guests and then take a look at them and say, “We want more of like that,” you’ll be able to improve that going forward.
The other thing that we’re doing and I have no idea if it’ll work, it’s an experiment. We’re coming up on our year anniversary and we’re trying to meet a stretch goal for ourselves about downloads. We’ve went back to everybody who was on the show for the year and asked them to repost their episode to see. Also, I got a shout out on social media, which was, “Congratulations to Melanie on the anniversary of her podcast,” which was a cool way for them to repost the episode. It’s also good for me.
The next thing we do is produce like a pro. How do you produce like a pro? I know you’re using us as production but we don’t want to talk about that. That’s not the point. On your end, what are you and your team doing to make this a better production for yourself? Are you researching? Are you prepping for interviews? What are you doing on your end?
Not enough. My goal for myself is I produce content. This is across the board in my organization. I help people do their work but I produce content. That’s my job. I’m the only person who can produce content in my company. My goal is I do that, the quality of the production, the fact that I put makeup on, have a glass of water next to me, and all that. That’s my job. From a production point of view, Molly heads up podcasting in our organization. She makes sure everything gets loaded. One of the big a-has this 2021 is we all need to listen to our episodes. It sounds crazy but we need to be listening. We need to be consuming our own content so that we can experience it and understand it more deeply.
Often, we don’t listen to our episodes. I produce so much content that it gets harder and harder for me to do that but my team is. Sometimes, they’ll pull out quotes and I’m like, “I said that? I’m impressed I said that.” Sometimes, we aren’t realizing the quality of what we’re putting out there and the ways in which we could reuse that if we aren’t relistening to it. It’s hard to do it in the moment.
I have a social media person who’s going through the old podcast I was a guest on. She comes up with the darndest things that I said. I’m like, “That’s not in my book.”
I’m so glad that you had that as a process. That is going to make a difference. Why should we be recreating new content? You’re busy. You are the content machine in the business. You don’t need to be creating it if you already have it.
That’s all around the production. We need to trust our partner like Podetize. We need to trust them to do the work well and not to second guess that work. That’s a huge tip.
Thank you for that because that is a hard thing. Sometimes, we make mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes but we can’t be you. We can’t read your mind. If there’s not a feedback loop, then we can’t get better at what we do and we can’t learn more from you. When you’re creating that and being open to the idea that we’re partners in this, that’s great. I’m so glad you said that. I hope that other people do that with whoever their producers are and whoever they’re using for editing. That can be a real success factor long-term.
I try to put my time into things at 20%. I don’t fret about the titles of my episodes. I’ll give feedback broadly. I kept asking people about imposter syndrome and all of a sudden, all my episodes were titled Imposter Syndrome. I was like, “No more episodes titled Imposter Syndrome.” There are broad strokes that learning piece. I do think leaning in. I appreciate the ability to lean in.
In the courage engagement, you’ve been pushing this stuff out on social. You’ve got a plan going. How are you getting engagement with the community? How are you getting them to give you feedback?
I don’t know that I get good feedback. I have no idea. I’d love for you to help me figure out how to get more feedback. I felt like in the beginning, it was super important to produce half a year. I had a goal to see if I could do it regularly for a year without fretting or with a light lift. I’m like, “What’s the return? How do we start?” I don’t know how to get feedback. Maybe you have some great ideas for feedback.
Here’s a chance for us to do some on-air coaching. There is an opportunity for you to ask a pointed question. When we asked for feedback and we ask our listenership to say, “Send me a message if you’ve got something to say,” it’s too broad but if we ask them specifically, “What experiments have you done in your business in the last 30 days that is a result of COVID?” We’re asking a specific question and give them a specific place to respond to you. “Message me back on Instagram. Send me a Facebook message. Comment on this post somewhere on my website,” whatever that is. Be specific about it.
You can try some different places. There may be places where you’re going to get more feedback than others and you don’t realize that yet. Try a place a couple of times. If Instagram is not working, shift over to Facebook and see if Facebook works. Shift that up for yourself as an experiment to make sure that you’re getting to the right place where your audience wants to respond or the majority of them do and then see what happens.
I switched to a WordPress site so I could do the SpeakPipe app.
You can do that there too. You tell them to leave you a message there.
I feel like I’m not doing anything. I haven’t announced it. It’s sitting there and I’m like, “What do I do?” That’s a great place to send everybody and then they might learn.
My recommendation is to have SpeakPipe and a place to drop a written message to you. Some people are still uncomfortable speaking. Having them both side-by-side has worked better for some people. If you have your email list or your email pop-ups, it pops up and they can write you an email right there into your site. Have the two buttons side-by-side. That’s a great place. Send them right there. Sending them back to your site is a way better way. They can see your books. They can see all of your other content. I prefer it to be on your website. For some people, their social has bigger following and bigger community. Follow up with whatever you send in that episode. Make sure you’re posting that out as the question of the week in your social community as well. You’re encouraging that.
I suspect you are heavy on LinkedIn. Asking a question on LinkedIn is a great way to get people to respond. People want to engage there. They want to have their say, especially if you’re asking for their viewpoint or their opinion, especially when it’s at this high level of a question. Try that. Maybe you can encourage some engagement and come back and tell us how it worked. It sounds good. The last one we go over in our five things is monetizing your show. Did you intend to monetize it from the beginning? Are you looking at ways to monetize it? What are your thought processes on it?
There’s like, “Would it be interesting to monetize it?” I started running ads for my book. It’s a 495 digital book funnel. I started running those ads fairly. I feel like sending people to my stuff might be the most valuable use of my podcast. I’d love feedback on that. I love thoughts on that. I’m a business, so monetizing is sexy. That’s what I do. I’m a business executive coach. My father once said, “Farms are like money in the fields.” I was like, “That’s cool. That’s landscapes of money.” I love that thought.
The reality is you don’t want an outside monetization because it muddies everything for you. You want it to be some kind of inside monetization, whether it’s sending people to a coaching program or do a webinar bootcamp, whatever those things might be, where people can get to know you better and get a hint of one-on-one. This is one of the things that we do here. You may want to look at that. It’s having a pipeline of people where you’d say, “Let’s do an on-air coaching. We’ll do an on-air coaching experiment.”
One of my favorite podcasters I interviewed in the series for the show is the host of The Charisma Quotient, Kim Seltzer. She does that. She has her interview sessions. She has her solo sessions that she does, which you’re accomplishing by putting a good setup on yours. She does an on-air coaching. She says that people apply to it because it’s free. They don’t think they can afford a session with her. They end up becoming clients by the time they’re done with it. It is a nice pipeline to be able to do that. Thinking about adding a component of on-air coaching, you could try it once a month and then add it if it works.
That’s what I was thinking. That might be fun to see if somebody wanted. I’m sure there are people that would think that was fun.
It’s a combination of publicity for their company and for themselves. You need to elevate yourself as a leader. At the same time, they’re getting continual learning opportunity.
It’s funny. I’m a Master Certified Coach. I can feel that all like, “That’s scary to do it on-air.” That’s thrilling too.
That’s why when I do these interviews, I always ask at the beginning, “Are you open to the coaching idea?” Some people aren’t. I have had people said, “No, I don’t want it.” I was like, “Don’t worry about it. We can talk about it after if you’re interested in that and in knowing. I’ll be kind.” I want to honor how they feel about it. Sometimes, being public about it is not the right way. I think you being experimental. I was so glad you said, “I’m open.” We usually go over what is your binge factor. Did you know that people were bingeing on your episodes? Have you had a sense of that? Has anyone reached out and said, “I listened to all 40 of your episodes? Now, I have a question.”
No.We need to consume our own content so that we can experience and understand it more deeply. Click To Tweet
You have no idea that people are bingeing on your show?
I have no idea people are listening. It’s the same with selling my book. I feel like the feedback loops are astonishingly non-existent.
Do you have a Kindle version of your book?
Did you check out and see if people are highlighting it?
I’m not an author like that. You can figure it out. You’d go in on the backend, you can look and see where people are highlighting. That’s the feedback loop. It’s great for your social media team. You get a lot of people highlighting those. You should be pushing them out on social as the promotion for the book. Shane Snow is a great author. I’m a huge fan of his books. He came on the show here and told me, “Being a writer was so lonely,” until Kindle came along and he was able to look at these highlights.
My book launched in April 2020. In December 2020, I got quite a sizable check or payment. Somebody read my book in 2020.
The problem is that they download it but they haven’t necessarily read it yet. The highlights are a signal that they were reading it.
I know people stop on Chapter 4. I know all these things, some conversation. The feedback loops, I think the Kindle thing is super cool.
I wish we had that for shows. I’ve heard some people who’ve been working on them and we’re keeping an eye on those players but none of them work well right at this point. The idea of that feedback loop. What we do find is somewhere at some point, you’ll be able to see the indicators in your statistics on bingeability. What happens is when you see a spike, it usually happens over a weekend but things have been upended in the pandemic. Most people have more time on their hands. You’ll see all of a sudden, you get a bunch of listens across all your episodes in a period of a week. You can see that’s got to be a binge listener coming through and doing all our shows. They went from one and they listened through the whole catalog. You’ll usually see that happen in that format. When we see a lot of listens on our back episode and it’s not just one single episode, that’s the indicator that you do have binge listeners.
Here’s the thing, Melanie. You have all the potential to have a bingeable show. Your shift adding more of you is going to make that the case. You didn’t have that before. There weren’t enough of you in it to create that. “I want to hear this information but I might pick and choose which shows I listened to base on what guests sound interesting. I’m not tied to the hosts yet.” By tying us more to you, you create that binge factor. You are deep knowledge of experimentation of leadership in general. I want to hear more of your viewpoint on that and why you brought someone forward. That is your binge factor right there. Keeping that experimental edge to it is important.
I liked that. I see the purpose of it. They’re uncomfortable shoes still for me.
Here’s one of my coaching tips for you. You have injected more of you. You’ll tell a little story in all of those nice little back and forth that you’re doing with the guests. You’re not just waiting asking a question but you’re also sometimes forgetting to formulate and segue from your story to the next question so making sure that you formulate that as a question. One of the things that I do is rather than prepare questions ahead of time, which I hate it when people do that because you can tell is I make a handful of bullet points. You can see right here. I’ve got my bullet points for you. These are my notes to myself to make sure I ask you these things at some point in it. As I’m telling a story, I look over and I’m like, “I can formulate that as my next question.” It’s not framed as a question. It makes it easy for me to pick it up and insert it in so that I’m sure that I get through all of that.
I like the idea of bullet points. I haven’t wanted to have pat questions or prepped questions.
I don’t want you to. It doesn’t work out well.
That’s affirming and helpful. Sometimes I forget what was on their little notes that they sent me. I feel like sometimes, I wonder a little. I like the bullet points. That’s fantastic.
You also have this one episode. It’s an interview that was done of you or a talk you gave about your book. It was your launch. It’s right in the middle there. I love that you have that in there. I almost want that to be at the beginning. You give it a new date. You can insert it like an ad. It doesn’t have to be put in, re-edit it or anything like that. Give it a framework just as you would set up a whole episode. You do that setup here for why you’re sharing this with everyone. “This gives you the best insight into what an experimental leader is. It’s also my talk about when I launched the book. You’re getting the why and the basis for what that is. I thought this would be a great intro to not only the show and my book but to the process of what we’re going to be talking about here on The Experimental Leader Podcast.” You play it.
People often start with the first episode.
You dive in.
They’re getting these episodes that, “I had no idea what I was doing.”
I’m a big fan of doing what we call the 00 episodes. It changes all your numbers. Keep that in mind. It helps in capturing that new binge listener who’s looking for a show. When binge listeners come into your show, they come in. They listen to your first episode, your last episode, or they skim them and then maybe check out something in between where they see an interesting guest or an interesting topic. That’s how they check other shows. It’s usually three episodes. They’ll give it before they go, “I’m not subscribing or not. I’m not sticking around. Yes, this is the show for me.” They’ll go back and they’ll listen to the whole catalog.
I love that idea because it isn’t exactly where it should be.
It’s nice to find it and because of its title, it does stand out. “This is what the show’s about but it’s right in the middle of everything.” It’s not your first place you look.
I have a question for you. Sometimes, people do single topic things where they talk about something without a guest. Should I think about something like that? Am I handling that in the intro and the outro?
I love them. They’re great. They invite more engagement from an audience that starts to realize that you have a coaching business and a program that can be offered to them. It’s hitting on topics that can be useful. It’s a lot more work. You’re adding more episodes per week because you still need those guests once to help you share out, get your listenership growing. You have to have a balance of both. We don’t want to switch two of our episodes a month to our topic and then two interviews. We lose our value. We diminish the value. We have to add on. What’s comfortable for you? Is it to do a bonus episode? Treat it like a bonus rather than a regular feature, so it doesn’t start to feel too encumbering, too time-consuming yet until you’re sure it’s working. Add 1 or 2 bonus episodes a month and maybe jot out for yourself. “I’m going to do ten total because I have ten topics I’d like to cover that are essential to being a good experimental leader.” They might tie into some things in your book. Keep them short. Do not do long ones.
I’d say two fifteen minutes. Test them out. See how they’re working for you. They’re going to give you great social media content, great quotes and great other things. At a minimum, you’ve built up a whole repertoire of all of this material that your team can use again and again and all these other places.
I’m doing Facebook Lives every week for five minutes. We’re repurposing those videos. Maybe that handle that piece.It’s not just fun to have a podcast. More than anything else, you have to know what it’s for. Click To Tweet
Start with using some of those and put those as your show initially. Try it. A five-minute one is not bad. You can self-publish them on our platform. You don’t need to go through us and do all the fancy editing. You can add your intro, outro on them and everything. That’s a simple way for you to go about and test that out. If it’s working well, then you can always try something a little bit longer form. See if the fifteen-minute one does well and try it. It’s always an experiment here, Melanie.
It’s so interesting to enter this world. My husband said, “What’d you do while you were waiting for the kids swimming for 1.5 hour at 5:00 in the morning?” I was like, “I consume some content. I listened to some things for a change. I did some podcast, audiobooks, and social media.” He said, “Is that what we call it?” “Yes.” That’s right. We’re consuming the content.
I asked this early on and then we jumped over it. What’s next for you? You’re hitting your year. What do you want to accomplish in this? You did it consistently and constantly for one year. What’s up for you?
I want to be funnier. I want to swear more. When I work with tech teams, if I’m in a room full of men, I want to say it in the first ten minutes. There’s a way that could add to my podcast if I play a little harder.
Your audience is older. It’s not a mompreneur show so there’s not going to be kids in the room or in the car. It’s perfectly fine. If that’s who your audience is and that’s what’s going to resonate with them, that’s where they are, then do it. Be who you are. Be who they want to hear.
Trying to learn how to be on camera and video, I might be playing a little too careful. I want to belly laugh with people. I want to swear and talk about things we shouldn’t talk about.
This happens naturally, occasionally but to give yourself permission to do that is another thing. A coaching call for Podetize, I don’t know if you heard it but our dog went wild right in the middle of our talk because she saw a squirrel outside the glass doors. You hear her. She jumps up and she’s scratching the door. I got freaked out. I started laughing because it was so funny that it happened right in the middle of everything. She caught me so off guard. I got a lot of comments from it. “Tracy, you laugh and you’re personable but that was hilarious.” When it breaks through like that, you’ll know. “I’m free enough. This audience knows me. I can be by myself.” That’s my coaching. Those are all my clients. They know me well. They know our dog.
It’s because I’m on screen, I don’t want to become a boring, middle-aged, careful person. With my clients, I talk about everything. There’s a way that I want to invite that in and be more of that.
Melanie, you’re the queen of experimenting here. Let’s talk about it. What advice do you have for someone who is thinking about starting this podcast experiment but is afraid to dive in and get going?
I feel like I’m not going to sound smart at all except hire Podetize. I’ve referred so many clients to Podetize. It’s almost embarrassing. People say they want a podcast. I’m like, “Pay them. They’re good. Let them do their thing.”
What you’re saying though is get someone in your corner.
Hire somebody. Don’t try to do it all. Let yourself enjoy the journey and take as much off your plate. Be a content producer that you’re only doing the part that you have to do so that you can be good at that part. I’m on a whole bunch of groups online, show groups. The amount of people who are struggling with tech sounds like their souls are ripped out. They all sound like that. I don’t have that experience. Seek advice and talk to people. People can reach out to me. I’ll have a quick chat about your shows, have joy in your heart, go get lots of input, and then hire people to help you do the hard parts. You can always pick them up back up later if you think, “I don’t have enough work while I’m doing this.” You can pick up the work later but don’t try to do it all out of the gate. It’s too much to learn.
I’m so glad you said that. That’s the case for so many people. They’re getting hung up on one aspect. For some people, it’s the attack. For other people, it might be confidence in their voice. You don’t know what that is. Getting past that and maybe starting to look like, “Melanie did. This is an experiment and it’s not something that you set in stone here.” Accepting even that, Melanie, was a brilliant start for you.
Seth Godin always asks, “What’s it for?” Knowing your podcast is for. It helps you with target client. It helps you with all the things, “Who are your guests, what are you trying to do.” Make sure you know why you’re doing it. It’s not just fun to have a podcast. It might be fun to have a podcast. I have middle-of-the-night dreams where I’m like, “I should have a sex show. I should have that.” I don’t, actually.
You’re going to spinoffs.
I don’t think so because they’re not for anything. Know what your show is for, especially if you’re in business. You have to know what it’s for.
Melanie, I’m so glad you came on the show. I was so glad that everyone got to hear how you’ve been experimenting and getting The Experimental Leader Podcast going. Everyone, you’re going to want to check out The Experimental Leader Podcast, Melanie Parish. You’ll be able to find everything on how to reach her, how to get to her show, how to get to her website, and how to check out all of that by going to TheBingeFactor.com. Thank you so much for being here.
Thank you. It’s been so fun to get to meet you.
Didn’t you love how Melanie let loose at the end? She’s thinking experimentally in our mind right there. We gave her the freedom over the course of this interview to start to do exactly what she said she wanted to do next. I love that. That always makes me feel so good when I see someone’s eyes light up with an idea or someone being so proud of the accomplishments of what they’ve created. Melanie has done a great job of being the content producer for her company, for her coaching business, everything that she needs, and 40 episodes into it. You can see the improvements in the show. You can see that she’s on a great path to creating a truly bingeable show when she taps into the right audience.
As she put it, the audience that’s starting out as a leader to being years into it, that perfect sweet spot of her audience where she can truly help them not only are they going to consume everything she has. They’re going to ask for more. That’s when they do more than buy your book. They asked for her coaching. They asked for her help because she’s going to be their guide and their leader. This is ideal. She’s positioning everything upright. I love where she’s going with her show. I’m so glad you could learn from her. I look forward to bringing you more of these new hybrid styles where we can do a little bit of coaching and a lot of success tips at the same time. We learned from both of those. It’s helpful to learn from both of those within it.
The thing that I’m hearing again and again from podcasters out there is although they feel that they hit a certain success metric, you don’t feel successful everywhere. They might need to encourage more engagement as Melanie needs to increase listeners or dial in this guesting thing that’s not going right for them. Tap into this. Pull the little nuggets that are going to work for you. Make one change to your show. That’s my challenge to you. Make one new experiment in your show. Change something. Go check out Melanie Parish’s show The Experimental Leader and see all the changes that she’s created. You can find all that information at the blog post for this episode at TheBingeFactor.com. Don’t be afraid, apply to the show and let me help guide you and let your success tips guide others. Thanks again, everyone, for reading. I’ll be back with another bingeable podcaster.
- The Experimental Leader – Podcast
- The Experimental Leader
- Melanie Parish
- Alvaro Venturelli Luchsinger – The Experimental Leader Podcast episode
- Whitney Lauritsen – Previous episode
- This Might Get Uncomfortable
- The Charisma Quotient
- Kim Seltzer – Past episode
- Shane Snow – Past episode
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