I love to talk and get to know people. I want to ask questions and I like to go deep. I ask them ahead of time ‘Can we go there? And here’s the question I want to ask? Will you answer it?’
As part of my series of interviews about “5 things you need to know to create a bingeable podcast”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Nesha Pai.
Nesha is the founder of Pai CPA in Charlotte, North Carolina. She graduated Magna cum laude from NC State University and has held her CPA license since 1996. She began her career with the world-renowned accounting firm, Arthur Anderson, and later with multiple private held fortune 500 companies. She realized she had a passion for the small business and entrepreneurial sector.
Since starting her own firm in 2011, the Nesha has continued to nourish her own passion and business growth of the queen city by creating Pai Networking Group and launching her podcast series Piece of the Pai that focus on allowing successful Charlotte entrepreneurs to share their business insights. She recently published a book overcoming ordinary obstacles, chronicling her journey as a first-generation Indian woman born and raised in the South.
Nesha herself has been a Charlotte resident for 25 years. And apart from growing her empire, she enjoys fitness, art, traveling food, and being fashion-forward.
Nesha, thanks for joining me. Tell us why and how you got started podcasting.
I love podcasts. I love listening to podcasts. I started a networking group in Charlotte about four years ago and had basically collected this amazing group of entrepreneurs. And so I thought, I already have this database of people because one of the things I love is hearing people’s stories and hearing entrepreneurial stories.
So, I said, why not start a podcast, interview people, share it and get out to the masses, and also expand your brand.
Had there been anything that helped you think ‘this is the genre for me’?
I thought wouldn’t it be cool if a CPA, in a very stuffy traditional industry, did something kind of different and out of the norm?
You’re not your typical CPA. What has happened to you, since you started podcasting, that’s either really interesting, funny, unusual, something different into your world?
I’m getting a lot of good feedback. I post my podcast on LinkedIn and I have colleagues that are like, ‘Oh man, that’s really cool. That’s great.’ It’s bringing a little bit more brand awareness to me and it’s something that I can talk about when I meet people. I’ve had local celebrities come to me and they’re like how’d you get started? So I’ve been able to help other people get started on their podcast.
Everyone has a little bit of a rough start. What funny or big mistake did you make at the beginning of your podcast?
I started using a podcast studio locally here in Charlotte and I’m not tech-savvy at all. I actually have a podcast engineer that helps me edit everything, but in the beginning, he would set up my equipment at the studio and on one occasion he could not come. I thought I flipped all the buttons and the switches and I had not turned it on. I had an entire interview, which I had to subsequently redo. It was horrible.
I’ve never asked this question before, but how did you go back to that person and say, ‘we need to rerecord’ how do you handle that?
I’m very vulnerable and authentic and real. If I screw up, I will admit it. I humbly went back and said, ‘Hey, you know, I messed up. And if you say, no, I get it. But would you be able to rerecord on your time? This is what happened, I’m new to this.’
I thought they’d be mad, but they kind of laughed about it. And they said, ‘absolutely’. When we re-recorded and we got in the studio, they were like, ‘Is the equipment on?’
They’re helping you through the checklist now.
I think if you do that and you are humble about it and you’re just apologetic, people are willing to help and step back in.
How long have you been podcasting?
About three years. I took a very long hiatus. I only have about 23 episodes. I took an almost year hiatus. I was going through some big personal storms and I wasn’t in the right mindset shift. I try to do two podcasts a month, which was my goal and I’m getting back on track now this year.
Doing something on a consistent basis is not easy. It’s just not for everyone. How do you start to build that discipline and consistency for yourself and what do you recommend to others to keep them motivated?
I use my iCal on my iPhone and I just booked stuff out. I pick a day or a time each month and start booking out.
You’re making appointments with yourself to hold yourself accountable.
I reach out to people that I want to be on my show and put them in the slots. Then you have someone else to be accountable for and show up for. And I learned how to do it on Zoom. So now it’s super easy. There’s no excuse.
I like to talk about binge-listening. I think you have some good characteristics. You choose unusual guests who are not your run on the mill, everybody has them on their show — they’re interesting people that you’ve met. They have very different and diverse backgrounds. Then you ask them some interesting questions. It seems that you must either know them well or do some deep research on them.
I always tell people: do your research. Do your research on the person. So you know the questions you want to ask. I go from there and then I develop questions. I love to talk and get to know people. I want to ask questions and I like to go deep. I ask them ahead of time ‘Can we go there? And here’s the question I want to ask? Will you answer it?’
So you’re not catching them off guard?
If they say no, most people don’t say no, cause it’s not like some deep, dark secret. I want to get to the heart of what their struggle might’ve been, or I want to get to the heart of something that happened, that shaped who they were as a person.
That’s what you want your listeners to take away too. It’s the value you bring to that. What resources help you get inspiration?
A lot of this comes from my own database of people that I know. I haven’t really gone national yet, which is one of my goals right now. A lot of my folks are still local Charlottean. The only non-Charlotte people I had were Sarah Bank and the founder of the No Tribe. She was a Charlottean and also Sara McMann who’s a UFC fighter, but she’s a client of mine.
Do you have a favorite podcast? Do you have something that you’ve modeled after or used as inspiration?
I’m excited about the Michelle Obama podcast that just came out. So I want to start listening to hers. Obviously anything Oprah does. There are a couple of podcasts out there about her, the soul sessions. I do like the Biz Chicks Podcast too. There’s so many out there that I listen to from time to time. But what really triggered me was my love for interviewing people.
What are some of the key ingredients that make a podcast successful that should be a part of a blueprint or journey?
We mentioned researching right their guests, coming up with creative questions, and showing your personality. Make it fun and keep the conversation flowing. Sometimes you’re going to go in a different direction based on something your guest says.
Nesha Pai of the Piece of the Pai shares the best ways to:
1) Book Great Guests. Have an established, consistent brand so people can go research who you are. Talk about your why and get people hooked into why you’re doing a podcast. Then start reaching out to your network, and just ask!
2) Increase Listeners. Really sharing on social media and have my friends share it.
3) Produce in a Professional Way. I hire an editor. I will never ever edit my podcast by myself. I wouldn’t even know how. I have an editor who’s really skilled, he teaches classes on podcasting one-on-one. I’ll give him the raw recording and he’ll take it and put it in this beautiful little package.
4) Encourage Engagement. I use Instagram, I use social media and I need to do better with that.
5) Monetize. My goal would be to get accounting clients so I could really go out anywhere. Find sponsors but make sure it doesn’t take away from the podcast. When I listen to podcasts, like even Tony Robbins, which I love, he goes into about a 15-minute spiel on his sponsors and then you lose me. So I was like, do I want to go there right now? No.
You mentioned using Zoom, but is there any other pieces of equipment that you can’t live without as a podcaster?
I have a $40 microphone off of Amazon that Andy, my editor, recommended. That is all I need. I was impressed. It’s a super cheap investment to start a podcast.
A lot of times, editors and sound engineers recommend equipment that’s too high end because they think it’s better, it works great when you’re in the studio. But when you’re not, it just doesn’t. The $40- $80-mic is right.
It sounds like I was in the studio and I can’t believe how inexpensive it is to start a podcast.
If you could inspire a movement that does the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be?
I would tie it to my book, which is called Overcoming Ordinary Obstacles. And it’s about basically beating obstacles to create the life of your dreams. The movement would be to inspire people to step out of mediocrity and to their purpose.
I like that you term it ordinary obstacles because we think that it has to be this giant, huge things, but there are so many barriers that we have to climb over in our daily life.
The barrier is ourselves. It’s not believing in ourselves. It’s fear. I didn’t have catastrophic challenges. Thank God. I didn’t have like a terminal illness. I didn’t have a death. I had things we all go through: a divorce, getting fired, sexism. I had things that we deal with every day, but I knew where I wanted to go and I wasn’t going to let anybody stop me.
Inspiring strength to get over that. I love that. Is there anything else you want to share with our readers, for anyone who is thinking about starting a podcast?
Go for it. Don’t hesitate any longer. Just do it.
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