Yesterday, I was hanging out with the spectacular crew from MT Shorts (check 'em out and look out for their new musical short Still Here coming out soon - part of it is filmed in my apartment!) and my friend was asking how the podcast was going. I told him and he said - "Wow! That went from zero to sixty right out of the gate."
Which is SO NICE and SO NOT TRUE. I wish I was amazing enough to have an idea, spit it out and have people knocking down my door but alas and alack, this shit takes me months and months of work, constant shuffling and pivot turning, and a whole lot of what our guest Laura Behnke calls "the middle" that no one talks about.
Since this week's episodes (dropping tomorrow!) are the very first test episodes we ever recorded, I think this has all come together perfectly for a little How I Built This (<--shout out to this podcast, one of my favorites) blog, whaddya say?
Sometimes The Wrong Idea is the Right Idea
Into the archives I go, to my email and January of 2017. I had the idea to do a podcast. That's the first time I reached out to Andrew to see if he was interested in co-hosting with me. A friend in LA and I really wanted to work together on something so I looped her in to produce. And we started talking about an idea I had for a podcast. Guys, it was a really good idea. But it wasn't good enough. We worked on pre-production for about 2 months, and then I decided to put it on hold and put my thinking cap back on. I wasn't clear enough on how this particular idea would align with my goals in creating a podcast so I put it on the back shelf.
Guess what. That original idea may not have been the right one for the primary podcast, but turns out it sure is the perfect idea for our TM2C Bonus Episode spinoff. It's called The Pivot, and it's a shortform podcast where our guests share their most memorable coffee date and how it changed the trajectory of their lives. Stay tuned for its launch.
Good thing my brain is a steel trap and never lets ideas completely go.
It's Never Too Early To Start
Once I shelved the original incarnation of The Pivot, I decided to use my time wisely, and I started casually collecting podcast research in a doc, in the background, while I was mulling over other podcast ideas. Ya'll, I went back and checked the date I created this research doc -
November 27, 2017.
For those of you keeping track, that was 11 months after my original idea for a podcast and almost exactly two years before I actually put a podcast out.
And let me tell you, I'm so so so so glad I kept adding to that doc over time. Because when the right idea did hit, I got sacked with all the work that goes into actually - wait for it - making the podcast. Luckily, I had this massive doc that made everything else super easy. I had a step by step of every thing I needed to do throughout the production process, a collection of launch strategies, equipment suggestions and reference articles to read. Lifesaver friends, lifesaver.
Big Ideas Start in the Smallest of Places
I shared the story of the genesis of Take Me To Coffee on our episode with Modern Family actress Dana Powell, so I won't make you sit through a re-telling - but here's what I didn't talk about: The original Take Me To Coffee was something I created to be a Facebook Live show, on Fridays, where you could donate the price of a coffee to a charity to "take me to coffee" and pick my brain. I had originally conceived it because I hated that I didn't always have the time to be able to go to coffee with everyone who asked me. Like The Pivot, that idea was a good one, but not good enough and got shelved in the dusty dark corners of my brain.
Cut to Feburary 4, 2019, a full two years later. I was on a great Zuckerberg Institute webinar with the founder of a podcast hosting company and I started to get re-inspired to get a podcast rolling again.
Cue Lightbulb moment. Take Me To Coffee would make a great podcast. Google Search. There's no mentorship podcasts on the first page of Google Results. Google Trends research. There are 15,000 searches every day for mentorship. Lightbulb moment #2. I knew a founder of a startup that had a technology product that could help us collect questions from our listeners and people's fans, creating that element of community that I always incorporate into my digital content.
A podcast was born.
Time to Figure it Out
We recorded our very first episode of the podcast in March of 2019.
We launched in September of 2019.
Along the way, we recorded 15 episodes, but more importantly, we got the gift of time to figure out what the podcast would actually be (pro tip: It changed a lot from my original idea), we got to try out multiple logos, social media bios, graphics and brand voices as we began to understand what we were making, who was going to listen and why we needed to exist. I've never actually worked on something so long in advance of a public launch, but I am so hugely grateful for the time we had to figure it all out. Well not all of it. But most of it. Certainly enough of it to keep moving forward.
That's all to say, if it looks like our little podcast went from 0 to 60 right out of the gate, don't be fooled. It was 20 years of learning and experience, almost 3 years of planning and more hard work than I ever could have guessed. But if we can do it, you can do it too - I hope this helps inspire you!
P.S. if you want to have a chuckle, check out Andrew and I's commentary track over the very first episode we ever recorded. I'll give you a hint: it starts with a fire alarm going off and Andrew's apartment almost catching on fire 🤦🏽♀️
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