What I Learned From Starting My Own Radio Show

The cover art that made everything legit. Made using Canva.

This morning I was facing the resistance. I spent longer in bed than usual, once again.

Reading Walter Isaacson’s Einstein has enlightened me.

I especially love the quote from Einstein in a letter to a friend about not wasting a creative mind doing mindless tasks.

“I was originally supposed to become an engineer, but the thought of having to expend my creative energy on things that make practical everyday even more refined, with a bleak capital gain as the goal, was unbearable to me. Thinking for its own sake, like music!” — A young Einstein

My thoughts are exactly aligned with Einstein’s (engineering fascinates me) but they’re similar. But I realised that this quote related to why I started a podcast.

I wanted to create something instead of mindlessly consuming things. Create something for the sake of creating something.

Starting a podcast is one of the best things I’ve ever done. I had three goals of the 100-day podcasting experiment:

  1. Improve my public speaking skills
  2. Get better at interviewing people
  3. Have fun

I have spent the past few years listening to podcasts religiously. It sounded like everyone making them was having a good time. I wanted to join in.

The following 2300 words are just a snapshot of what I learned after 100 straight days of podcasting.

1. The Resistance Doesn’t Go Away

For anyone who has read Stephen Pressfield’s The War of Art, you’ll understand what I mean by resistance. For anyone who hasn’t, just imagine resistance as any form of distraction or blockage preventing you from doing something you know you should be doing.

I intentionally decided to make an episode every day for the first 100 days so I didn’t have any excuses when it came to scheduling. Every day would be a new episode. Simple.

The first few episodes, I was nervous, you can probably hear it in my voice. I was sweating under my armpits for at least the first dozen.

After that, I was still nervous, before every single episode. The nerves don’t go away, you just become better at dealing with them.

Nervousness aside, I loved every minute of it. Once I got started, the episode was practically done. Starting each time is the hardest part.

There would be nights where it was 11:30 pm and I would much rather be going to sleep than recording a podcast, I would face resistance. If it was 11:30 pm and I hadn’t recorded an episode, I had been facing resistance the whole day.

I knew that on the other side of the resistance was a better me. That’s what made me record and upload those late night episodes, despite extreme tiredness.

Even writing this article about what I’ve learned, I’ve faced resistance. It’s been over a week since episode 100 and I’m just getting to writing. After episode 1, episode 101 will be the most important. The next phase.

Where it all began.

2. The Power of Momentum

I’ve always been a fan of the all or nothing principle. Rather than choosing to do one episode a week, which I could easily brush off until the next day or week. I chose to start with every day.

Was it the best decision? Maybe, maybe not.

The important takeaway I learned was that momentum is a powerful thing. Once I was a few episodes in, I had built a habit. All of a sudden, something I had never done before became a part of my everyday life.

Little by little, the number of episodes I had grew. Before I knew it, 100 episodes had flown by.

With every new episode, my confidence grew. I didn’t dare to break the chain.

My way of thinking completely changed. All of a sudden, everything was material I could use for the podcast. Something bad happens? I could talk about it on my show. Something awesome happens? Same thing.

This new way of thinking changed my world, I would be excited to create a new episode every day and share my experiences.

I’m now a strong believer in doing something every day to build it into a habit. I’ve been writing every day (on 750words.com) for almost a year now and my writing has improved dramatically, although I’ve still go a long way to go. I’ve used Headspace every day for the past year and now I’m far more mindful with every action.

Considering the improvements I’ve made in these two skills through everyday practice is why I decided to podcast every day for 100 days. Since finishing the 100-day experiment, I’ve now started another 100-day experiment, My 100 Days of Code.

3. Asking Questions

Before the podcast, I had never interviewed anyone. Now I’ve interviewed over a dozen people.

I learned how powerful asking questions can be. Listening to some of my idols in the podcast world, James Altucher, Tim Ferriss, Joe Rogan, I’ve seen and heard how thoughtful questions can create provoke incredible conversations.

In my interview (it was more of a conversation), with one of my best friends, Joseph Drury, I didn’t have any prepared questions. I would try and create a question out of something he’d said. It sounds easy in principle but I found it difficult, to begin with.

I crafted a list of questions I could refer to for my next interview. Many of them were similar to some of the questions, I’d heard before on other podcasts. It’s really hard to think of your own unique questions.

In my next interview, I hardly referred to my question sheet. I decided to go with a simple approach, “just ask”. If a question arose in my head about something someone said, I’d just ask them about it.

In episode 33 with Quinton L’Hota, he mentioned he spent 6 months at Disneyland, I wanted to know the details so I asked him what his room was like. The small things are the big things.

Just ask

Asking well thought out questions is far more important than seeking the right answer.

What I learned from each of my guests is worthy of an entire post on its own.

4. Putting Yourself Out There (is scary)

In year 8 art class I was told I would never be creative (or so I like to tell myself that). I didn’t understand how an art teacher could grade a student’s piece of art. Who gets to decide what is good or bad art? Some paintings I would consider meaningless sell for millions of dollars.

I stopped creating after I got a bad mark on one of my art assignments. I poured my heart and soul into replicating a picture of a ninja turtle, only to have it torn apart.

I found it far easier to confirm to whatever was required of me, rather than to try and bring something new into the world.

I still find it easier.

But I’ve never been a fan of the easy way. I’m a walking contradiction.

The first time I published an article on Medium, I was scared of hitting the button. I would suddenly expose myself to the world, what would they think of me?

30 or so articles later, hitting publish on an article is one of the most satisfying things I can do.

Posting my first podcast was no different. All of a sudden, my episodes would appear on subscribers phones. I remember thinking, someone’s actually going to listen to this.

I had told people I was making a podcast. The reception was incredible. People were quick to offer advice, feedback and even saying that they would come to the show if I wanted. Some even said that they had been wanting to make a podcast of their own for a long time and it was really cool I was making my own.

Was this the condition I so feared?

Putting myself out there is still hard and it’s still scary. It’s the same for podcasting, writing and uploading videos to YouTube. But the feeling on the other side of the publish button is worth it.

5. The Making Part is Easy

The actual making of a podcast is much easier than I initially thought (at least I made it that way).

I spent some time researching on how to make a podcast and found some in-depth guides, with 20 steps to podcasting and other fluff. Most of them were far too in-depth for me. I wanted a minimal barrier to entry.

I didn’t want the process of it all to hold me back from putting my work out there.

15 episodes in, I bought a Shure MV88 microphone to enhance the audio quality. The MV88 records incredible quality audio right out of the box and it plugs directly into the lightning port on an iPhone.

Audio — check

I found a few audio hosting sites for podcasting but many of them seemed clunky. SoundCloud had the best user-interface so I chose it.

Hosting — check

My style of podcast required practically 0 editing. I would record a full episode start to finish in one take. If I needed to edit anything, I would just drag and drop the audio file into GarageBand (an app that came with my Mac).

Editing — check

I found very quickly how easy it was to start your own radio show and broadcast it to the world.

Here’s my exact step-by-step process:

  1. Record audio on iPhone with Shure MV88 and Shure App (could replace with Voice Memos and built-in mic)
  2. Airdrop audio file from iPhone to Mac
  3. Drag and drop audio file into GarageBand
  4. Attach intro and outro to audio file and trim the edges (remove gaps at start and finish)
  5. Export audio file to hard drive (you could skip this and upload straight to SoundCloud)
  6. Upload exported audio file to SoundCloud and add title, description, meta tags
  7. Link SoundCloud RSS feed to iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, etc (you only have to do this once, every time after, it’s automatic)
  8. Within minutes of being on SoundCloud, your podcast is available to everyone (or instantly, direct from SoundCloud)

6. Conversing in a New Way

Many of my first quests were close friends. It was weird for the first 5 or so minutes of conversation but beyond that, I learned more from those close to me than I ever could have imagined.

It was different to a normal conversation. I would discover stories I had never heard before, from some of the people I thought I knew very well.

I would find out the why behind decisions they had made, the little details that brought them to that moment and time.

It was as though the presence of the microphone was a gateway for each of us to speak about things we had never spoken about before. Many conversations these days are short as possible. Often reduced to an emoji or now even just a reaction to a text message. To sit down with someone and focus on nothing but an unbroken conversation was nothing short of an amazing experience every time.

I spoke with my Dad, each of my brothers, my closest friends and a couple of international guests via Skype. Each time I came away with something new.

The beautiful thing is that all of the conversations are recorded. In 20 years time, I’ll be able to go back and reflect on what was said.

As I’m writing this, I’m starting to think about how I can get more of this time in my life. More time to just sit and converse with someone and not be distracted by anything else.

Of all the episodes, these were my favourites by far.

7. The Power of Thinking Out Loud

Thoughts are interesting. They are always much worse when they’re locked in your head.

Whenever I write them down, any pain associated with them goes away. I found through podcasting every day the same goes for speaking them out loud.

I couldn’t tell you what half the episodes are about. Truth be told, I’ve never fully listened to one back entirely. Maybe I’m scared of my own voice.

A large portion of the episodes are totally unscripted. I would just press record on the microphone and start rambling off whatever was on my mind.

Doing this was a powerful process. Any issue I was tackling at the time would fade away as I got into the flow of thinking out loud. I would become my own self-coach.

I would talk myself through different ways of thinking, different ways of looking at things. Each and every time I would finish the episode on a high.

When a bad thought is trapped in your head it can cause havoc. Releasing it into the world by writing it down or speaking it out loud can reveal how incredibly futile it actually is.

8. Making Podcasts Is Fun

As I mentioned before, I started the 100-day experiment with 3 goals.

  1. Get better at public speaking
  2. Practice interviewing people
  3. Have fun

I can safely say that I reached all of my goals. I had an incredible time recording around 40 hours of audio. I now officially have my own radio show.

From sweating in my car recording the first few shows to walking through the streets recording late night episodes. I’ve had some incredibly moving conversations and acquired some new skills.

The microphone does a great job of mimicking the effects of a crowd. I was able to recently put my public speaking skills to the test, pitching a startup idea at a recent hackathon. We didn’t win but I was commended on my speaking efforts.

Towards the end of the 100-day experiment, I started recording the episodes and uploading them to YouTube. I guess you could say I have my own TV show now too.

What’s next?

I’m going to keep going, keep putting things out into the world.

I’ve finally made something. I’ve learned an incredible amount and I’m still very new to the world of creating things.

One of my goals of 2017 was to consume less and create more. I’m addicted to creating.

I’m not special and I’m far from being an expert, I just enjoy doing new things.

I believe everyone can and should make their own podcast, or YouTube channel, or blog.

Try it out, as an experiment, everyone can be creative if they choose to be. The worst that can happen is you end up with 100 podcasts that you can listen to in 20 years. I can’t wait to be 43 and listen to what 23-year-old me had to say.


Originally published at mrdbourke.com.