4069 Podcasting, Storytelling & Figuring Things Out

Podcasting, Storytelling & Figuring Things Out - LEANING TOWARD WISDOM Podcast Episode 4069

On Monday, June 22, 2015, I said my last good-bye to Rocky, one of our 15-year-old Westies. You can read more about it by joining the Facebook group. Just click that link at the top of the page and I’ll let you inside. I want to thank you for the kind words and condolences. You non-pet owners may not get it, but Monday and Tuesday were ridiculous tough days. Thankfully, every day is getting a bit better. Rosie, Rocky’s surviving sister, seems to be coming out of her funk. She’s still sort of confused about things I guess, but she’s eating again and seems fine. We all miss Rocky very much, but I don’t regret saying good-bye when I did. We didn’t want him to suffer. Again, I appreciate all the kind words and thoughts you guys sent my way.

Today I’m going to talk about podcasting, storytelling and figuring things out — the 3 components that make Leaning Toward Wisdom possible.

Podcasting: A Good Vehicle For People Prone To Communicate

I suppose every amateur podcaster has wondered if anybody is listening. We’re not unlike others who have a message to communicate. Musicians, artists and others with ideas that sorta need an audience. It could be an audience of one, but there’s somebody else we need to connect with. That’s one reason I so admire great songwriters. Within 3 minutes or so they can convey a thought, an idea, an emotion. Take some lyrics – words – couple them with musical notes and you’ve got a powerful tool for sharing, spreading and provoking. As a podcaster, I’m envious of the skill. But we do what we can with what we have. Those of us with not much have less to work with – so we struggle through in spite of it all. And if you can hear me, then most days that just has to be good enough. Besides…

I’m not a vanity metrics kinda guy. Facebook likes. Instagram followers. Twitter followers. Pinterest followers. It’s not a big deal to me.

Downloads don’t mean much either. Or email subscribers.

Crazy, huh? Maybe.

What can I say? I’m in podcasting because I want to do it. And I want to get better at it even though I’ve been at it for a long time. I’m not looking to be famous or some podcasting rockstar. And while I’m happy for those who make hundreds of thousands of dollars every month, I didn’t first speak into a microphone with money on my mind. My initial intent was what it still is today…to just give it away.

Let’s talk about how I even began podcasting ’cause I suppose my reasons might be unique. Somewhat.

In 1997 I turned 40. My son turned 17 that year. My daughter would turn 16. It was a pivotal time. But in retrospect every time is pivotal. I don’t think there is such a thing as a non-pivotal time. It just seemed that way. I was considering how my time was running out in raising these kids. Rhonda and I knew we weren’t going to have them too much longer and that it was urgent for us to sprint through the tape at the finish line. We didn’t want to just jog across the line. That sense of urgency compelled me to think of history, legacy and helping these kids learn what lessons life had taught me.

That sparked me to record some mp3’s via a headset with a built-in microphone. RSS (really simple syndication) was unknown to me at the time. I just knew I could fire up some software, record audio and ftp it up to my website where my kids could access it at will. I knew they wouldn’t, but I wasn’t thinking, “They’ll listen to that now.” No, I was thinking, “When I’m dead they’ll be able to still hear me talking to them.” I don’t think I was planning to die right then, but I was planning to die eventually. I’ve always been planning to die eventually. I’m wise like that. 😉

I’ve always known the finish line is what matters. Everybody looks good at the starting line. But many of us look haggard at the finish line, assuming we cross it at all.

I crippled along like that for a few years, writing and putting up some mp3’s for nobody except myself. Just waiting to die so my family would listen. You know it’s true. People pay much closer attention when you’re gone. Well, my plan was — when they miss me, I’ll pop right into their earbuds and they’ll hang on my every word. We don’t often do that when people are alive. You know it’s true. Don’t act like you have no idea what I’m talking about.

Fast forward some years and I invested in gear. Thus was born The Yellow Studio – a home office and podcast studio where I’ve worked for the last 10 years or so. I’ve talked about the gear so I won’t bore you with those details. You can go listen to a virtual audio tour I did of the studio this past January. There’s even a video and some pictures of The Yellow Studio there. It’s episode 4048.

Some people are interested in the gear. I’m one of those people. I’m always interested to see and hear the set up people have in new media production – audio or video. I love gear, but that’s the audiophile coming out. I’ve had a lifelong love affair with music and the gear used to faithfully replicate it. And I’ve spent some time talking about that here before…in episodes 4001 and 4019. Aside from bookstores, which were always more plentiful than hi-fi or stereo shops, I’ve spent many hours trolling hi-fi shops. I spent most of my teenage years working in them. I miss that business, but the video age killed it and it’s never coming back.

That love affair with gear hit me when I was in junior high. Stereo equipment was a weakness. I was always ready to go see or listen to somebody’s system. Most weren’t very good, but I was still interested. Some were very good. A few were spectacular. It’s the same with podcasting except in this digital age you don’t need gear because software can do wonders.

Podcasting wasn’t attractive just because of the gear though. It was mostly calling my name because I’m an over-communicator. Ask my kids. They’ll tell you that all their life they’ve heard me tell them, “I won’t die having left much unsaid.” That’s a demon all its own – the “compelsion” to convey feelings, ideas, emotions and thoughts. To be understood.

It’s reminiscent of what Jason Isbell said in a podcast interview with Brian Koppelman. Writing songs is a process of trying to convey what you feel and think to somebody else so they can experience what you’re experiencing. I incorporate songs here because podcasting serves the same purpose for me. It’s my methodology and vehicle to convey those things to my listeners. For me, that’s reward enough. Other people can clamor (pun intended – podcasters will get it – Clammr.com) for fame and fortune in podcasting. Me? I’m chasing to be better understood. I’m chasing the sharing of ideas, thoughts and wisdom. Wisdom is mostly what I’m chasing. This podcast and other podcasting efforts are my format for part of that work.

Aren’t we all looking for people who feel like we do? People who see things sorta like we do? Kindred spirits, birds of a feather and all that?

I intentionally went with a specific kind of workflow in my podcasting. There are many different ways to podcast. Lots of technical options. Lots of format options. Frequency options. Length options. As varied as speeches or presentations can be, the same goes for podcasts. Then there are all the subject options. Like music, podcasts can vary in genre. But I’m not talking about any of that…not yet anyway. I’m talking about the process of actually recording the podcast – not the technicalities of it, but the work flow!

I use a broadcast work flow. When you listen to regular radio in your car you’re hearing a broadcast work flow. That is, it’s mostly put out into the atmosphere live, in real time. You’re not listening to an edited recording. Well, except for the bad language delay, you’re not likely hearing any editing. Think of your favorite sports talk radio station. They get in front of a microphone, use a computer for their sound effects and sound clips and they broadcast live. That’s how I podcast.

Professional radio broadcasters do their work upfront. They prepare their show a day in advance, or hours in advance of going “on the air.” I do the same thing. Before I sit down behind the mic I prepare. Then, when I hit record I go, laying down the recording in real-time. I save the file using a file structure…this show, today’s episode is #4069. The show is here at Leaning Toward Wisdom so I label the file, LTW4069. I insert some metadata – called ID3 tags – where I insert my name, the name of the podcast and some cover art, then I upload it to the world wide web. Then I insert the link to the audio file – the mp3 – inside the post here at the website and hit, “Publish.” That’s it. I’m done.

I don’t edit out um’s or ah’s. I work hard to be prepared so I don’t have to edit. And if I mess up – unless it’s bad enough to re-record – then I just live with it. Sometimes I mess up – fumbling words so badly it’s NOT funny. In those cases, I don’t have to fret about editing much ’cause I just stop talking, insert a marker (a red line that appears in the recording, inserted by my recording software when I hit the “M” key on my keyboard), then I repeat the part I messed up. After I’ve finished recording I just have to look for that red line, then crop out the bad part. Easy smeasy. Nothing to it.

THAT is a broadcast workflow and it’s how I designed my podcasting set up. I’ve done it this way ever since I moved away from a headset with a mic. It’s why I invested in the hardware. It’s also why I went with professional, broadcast quality hardware designed to run 24/7/365. I get another benefit, too. Whenever I’m on Skype or a Google Hangout On Air, or even GoToMeeting — my sound is always the same. That’s because I’m not processing or affecting my sound after the fact. My sound is LIVE. Direct to my computer and software. No, I don’t record to a portable recorder. Podcasters who claim software can crash don’t seem to realize that software is involved in that digital recorder and that those memory cards can also crash. I use a software called Twisted Wave. It’s great and I highly recommend it.

Podcasting is a lot more than just the tools or gear. Or the workflow. That gets a lot of focus though because some people are more interested in that. It reminds me of my earliest days in the audiophile world. I wasn’t a ham radio operator or some garage engineer. I didn’t have that technical prowess. Or interest. I was interested in the music. I’m still interested in the music, but there are quite a few audiophiles back in the 70’s who were technical nerds, more interested in the equipment than the music. The audio systems were just a means to an end for me, but for other audiophiles, the gear was the reason for being. The same thing is true of podcasters. Some are in it for the gear, and the technical stuff. Others, like me, enjoy and even love the gear, but the gear serves a purpose – a means to an end. My audiophile addiction serves my love for music. My podcasting addiction serves my love for stories.


Spew out a bunch of facts, or bits of wisdom and nobody will remember them. Tell people stories to illustrate the wisdom and you’ve got a fighting chance of being memorable. That was the genesis idea behind this podcast. Of course, I’ve not been secretive about passing along things to my adult children. That was the motivation behind it, but the format was determined by what I felt was the best method for me and for potential listeners. Honestly, the hierarchy of importance when it comes to people was: 1) my kids, 2) me and 3) you – or anybody else who might listen in. You’re important, but I’m not strictly here for you. I’d argue that no podcaster is, even if they claim they are. In the last 3 years there’s been a growing intensity on making money with podcasting. It was sparked by some individuals and companies who successfully broke through to big revenue generation. Stories drove it. Stories of people who were earning thousands, hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars. Suddenly, people were trying to replicate it. It’s an ancient phenomenon. Just read about the California gold rush. Just because some find gold doesn’t mean we’ll all find gold. Besides, the merchants who sold the shovels and picks made more money than the gold miners. But that’s another story.

Once in awhile I’ll hear from a listener who wants me to do more interviews. Mostly because of the few interviews I’ve done and some people enjoy the person I’m interviewing. I don’t claim to be a terrific interviewer so that ain’t it. And there are lots of people who are addicted to interview shows. I listen to some interview podcasts, too. I’ve listened to Andrew Warner at Mixergy.com for years. He’s terrific. Sometimes I’ve heard of the person he’s interviewing, but most of the time I have no idea who they are. And I don’t care because I enjoy Andrew. I just don’t want to do an interview show so that’s why I don’t do an interview show.

I’m a fan of stories – listening to them and telling them. Professionally it began when I started selling hi-fi gear as a teenager. Every day I’d go to work and interact with customers. They’d tell me stories about their favorite records and bands. I’d share my stories. We’d form a relationship centered on our joint love affair with music. From those conversations would come questions about the room where they wanted their stereo system, how loud they wanted to listen and all those details I needed to know in order to dazzle them with a high-value, high-quality stereo system. The shopper who loved the Grateful Dead and Led Zeppelin wanted a louder, more dynamic sound than the shopper who mostly loved listening to Frank Sinatra or Billie Holiday. The entire experience was story based.

As time went on and I got more and more steeped into business I found myself crafting stories for selling and for influencing organizations, namely the ones I was leading. These weren’t fictional stories. They were assembled from real-life experiences. Or they were metaphorical, meaning they were stories I’d craft to illustrate something important. For example, just last week I was having a discussion with a CEO who I’m working with – to help the executive team. This CEO has some leaders who are perfectly capable people, but they’re just not quite the right fit for the culture. I told a simple story to illustrate by saying this to the CEO…

You guys are deep in a forest filled with trees. You’re woodsmen. As the leader you need accomplished woodsmen. A few people around here just aren’t woodsmen. You won’t make them woodsmen. 

It’s a 5 sentence story to illustrate that company leaders have to find suitable talent that’s congruent with their culture and what they most need. I’ve spent my life looking at the world like that. It’s my wiring and my skill set. I don’t believe in trying to be something I’m not. That’s why I roll the way I do as a podcaster.

It’s also why I’m not the overly excited, super enthusiastic glad-handing persona that you often hear. I’m not that guy. Kudos to people who are. I know lots of people fawn all over that. Just look at Entertainment Tonight and the rise of Kevin Frazier. Everybody is awesome and beautiful. I’m not knocking Mr. Frazier, but I’m about as attracted to him and his style as I am poison ivy. Forget the fact that I think Entertainment Tonight and TMZ or any other show of that ilk is a waste of time. The ratings prove that I’m outvoted by a wide margin. Over 4 million people watch that show each week.

Storytelling is a vehicle coupled with podcasting. The topic is wisdom – lessons about life. It’s just one way to do things.

There are lots of other ways. Comedians do commentary on current events. A business person interviews other business people. An Apple enthusiast discusses the latest Apple news, developments and hacks. A productivity addict talks with other productivity addicts to talk about how to get more done. Two minimalists have a weekly conversation about living minimally. Two public speakers discuss ways public speakers can improve. There’s even one radio personality who has gone 100% into podcasting with character-based comedy. He does all the voices by himself in real time. It’s a podcast that sounds like 4 or more people are participating, but it’s just one guy. That just sounds exhausting, doesn’t it?

No matter what we do as podcasters we all want the same thing. We want people to listen.

Figuring Things Out

In a fascinating book, Letters of Note: Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience by Shaun Usher, a letter is included from Hunter S. Thompson to friend Hume Logan. It was written in 1958 when Hunter was 22 and still relatively unknown. 

April 22, 1958
57 Perry Street
New York City

Dear Hume,

You ask advice: ah, what a very human and very dangerous thing to do! For to give advice to a man who asks what to do with his life implies something very close to egomania. To presume to point a man to the right and ultimate goal — to point with a trembling finger in the RIGHT direction is something only a fool would take upon himself.

I am not a fool, but I respect your sincerity in asking my advice. I ask you though, in listening to what I say, to remember that all advice can only be a product of the man who gives it. What is truth to one may be disaster to another. I do not see life through your eyes, nor you through mine. If I were to attempt to give you specific advice, it would be too much like the blind leading the blind.

“To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles … ” (Shakespeare)

And indeed, that IS the question: whether to float with the tide, or to swim for a goal. It is a choice we must all make consciously or unconsciously at one time in our lives. So few people understand this! Think of any decision you’ve ever made which had a bearing on your future: I may be wrong, but I don’t see how it could have been anything but a choice however indirect — between the two things I’ve mentioned: the floating or the swimming.

But why not float if you have no goal? That is another question. It is unquestionably better to enjoy the floating than to swim in uncertainty. So how does a man find a goal? Not a castle in the stars, but a real and tangible thing. How can a man be sure he’s not after the “big rock candy mountain,” the enticing sugar-candy goal that has little taste and no substance?

The answer — and, in a sense, the tragedy of life — is that we seek to understand the goal and not the man. We set up a goal which demands of us certain things: and we do these things. We adjust to the demands of a concept which CANNOT be valid. When you were young, let us say that you wanted to be a fireman. I feel reasonably safe in saying that you no longer want to be a fireman. Why? Because your perspective has changed. It’s not the fireman who has changed, but you. Every man is the sum total of his reactions to experience. As your experiences differ and multiply, you become a different man, and hence your perspective changes. This goes on and on. Every reaction is a learning process; every significant experience alters your perspective.

So it would seem foolish, would it not, to adjust our lives to the demands of a goal we see from a different angle every day? How could we ever hope to accomplish anything other than galloping neurosis?

The answer, then, must not deal with goals at all, or not with tangible goals, anyway. It would take reams of paper to develop this subject to fulfillment. God only knows how many books have been written on “the meaning of man” and that sort of thing, and god only knows how many people have pondered the subject. (I use the term “god only knows” purely as an expression.) There’s very little sense in my trying to give it up to you in the proverbial nutshell, because I’m the first to admit my absolute lack of qualifications for reducing the meaning of life to one or two paragraphs.

I’m going to steer clear of the word “existentialism,” but you might keep it in mind as a key of sorts. You might also try something called “Being and Nothingness” by Jean-Paul Sartre, and another little thing called “Existentialism: From Dostoyevsky to Sartre.” These are merely suggestions. If you’re genuinely satisfied with what you are and what you’re doing, then give those books a wide berth. (Let sleeping dogs lie.) But back to the answer. As I said, to put our faith in tangible goals would seem to be, at best, unwise. So we do not strive to be firemen, we do not strive to be bankers, nor policemen, nor doctors. WE STRIVE TO BE OURSELVES.

But don’t misunderstand me. I don’t mean that we can’t BE firemen, bankers, or doctors — but that we must make the goal conform to the individual, rather than make the individual conform to the goal. In every man, heredity and environment have combined to produce a creature of certain abilities and desires — including a deeply ingrained need to function in such a way that his life will be MEANINGFUL. A man has to BE something; he has to matter.

As I see it then, the formula runs something like this: a man must choose a path which will let his ABILITIES function at maximum efficiency toward the gratification of his DESIRES. In doing this, he is fulfilling a need (giving himself identity by functioning in a set pattern toward a set goal), he avoids frustrating his potential (choosing a path which puts no limit on his self-development), and he avoids the terror of seeing his goal wilt or lose its charm as he draws closer to it (rather than bending himself to meet the demands of that which he seeks, he has bent his goal to conform to his own abilities and desires).

In short, he has not dedicated his life to reaching a pre-defined goal, but he has rather chosen a way of life he KNOWS he will enjoy. The goal is absolutely secondary: it is the functioning toward the goal which is important. And it seems almost ridiculous to say that a man MUST function in a pattern of his own choosing; for to let another man define your own goals is to give up one of the most meaningful aspects of life — the definitive act of will which makes a man an individual.

Let’s assume that you think you have a choice of eight paths to follow (all pre-defined paths, of course). And let’s assume that you can’t see any real purpose in any of the eight. THEN — and here is the essence of all I’ve said — you MUST FIND A NINTH PATH.

Naturally, it isn’t as easy as it sounds. You’ve lived a relatively narrow life, a vertical rather than a horizontal existence. So it isn’t any too difficult to understand why you seem to feel the way you do. But a man who procrastinates in his CHOOSING will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.

So if you now number yourself among the disenchanted, then you have no choice but to accept things as they are, or to seriously seek something else. But beware of looking for goals: look for a way of life. Decide how you want to live and then see what you can do to make a living WITHIN that way of life. But you say, “I don’t know where to look; I don’t know what to look for.”

And there’s the crux. Is it worth giving up what I have to look for something better? I don’t know — is it? Who can make that decision but you? But even by DECIDING TO LOOK, you go a long way toward making the choice.

If I don’t call this to a halt, I’m going to find myself writing a book. I hope it’s not as confusing as it looks at first glance. Keep in mind, of course, that this is MY WAY of looking at things. I happen to think that it’s pretty generally applicable, but you may not. Each of us has to create our own credo — this merely happens to be mine.

If any part of it doesn’t seem to make sense, by all means call it to my attention. I’m not trying to send you out “on the road” in search of Valhalla, but merely pointing out that it is not necessary to accept the choices handed down to you by life as you know it. There is more to it than that — no one HAS to do something he doesn’t want to do for the rest of his life. But then again, if that’s what you wind up doing, by all means convince yourself that you HAD to do it. You’ll have lots of company.

And that’s it for now. Until I hear from you again, I remain,

your friend,


Professionally I work to help people figure things out. Maybe it’s a better way to lead a team of people. Or it may be a way to be more effective in getting their work accomplished. It may be helping a CEO improve a culture. Sometimes it’s helping a leader build a more efficient organization. And sometimes I have to teach an organization how to breathe because they’re chasing so hard they’re hurting their own efforts. I’ve found a big part of figuring things out is learning to breathe.

Truth is, this part – the figuring it out part – is at the beginning, middle and end of it all. You can figure out the podcasting part technically and pretty much be done. You can even figure out the subject of a podcast and be done…until you’re really done and have nothing left to say. Or you lose interest. But even these two areas – how to technically podcast and what to podcast about – may not ever be quite done. We’re always figuring things out, or figuring out a better way.

For almost 10 years I’ve mostly done my podcasting a certain way with specific gear. Other than tweaking a knob here or there I’ve not had to think about it. I figured it out before I even started and that was that. I still think about it though. Technology changes. Advances are made. There’ve been many changes in microphone technology, recording software, digital recorders, audio interfaces and plugin technology (those bits of software that emulate various audio processing like EQ). All that has really changed in the last decade. Then there are the computer advancements like processing power, high speed Thunderbolt connectivity and even mobile computing, including recording software like BossJock Studio.

My studio has gone through 3 computers. My current computer is a 27″ iMac – it replaced a five year old 27″ iMac that died. My latest computer has Thunderbolt, which affords me some options I’ve not had before. Namely, it gives me the opportunity to figure out a better, more efficient way to do the technical part of podcasting. Products like the Universal Audio Apollo Twin interface are game changing. It doesn’t mean I’m going to change anything, but I may. Options, choices and advancements are part of figuring it out.

But there’s a lot more to it than the technology. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy podcasts about podcasting, but there’s more. It’s like my love of music. I enjoy music. Once in awhile I enjoy hearing or reading about people who create music…and how they do it. But mostly, I enjoy good music. I enjoy good books. I’ve read a few books on writing and publishing, but mainly…I enjoy good books. I like good food – well, to be honest, I like food that tastes good (it may not always be good for me). Every once in awhile I enjoy watching a cooking show, but not nearly as much as I enjoy eating tasty food.

There’s the THING. Then there’s how the thing gets done.

There’s music. Then there’s how music is created. Then there’s how the music is reproduced or played. But remove the music and I don’t really care about that other stuff.

There’s words, books. Then there’s how the books are written and how they’re published. Today, there’s also how the books are consumed (Kindle, softcover, hardcover, audio). Remove the words and none of it matters.

Tools and technology are necessary and I can love them as much as anybody, but for me — they’re always a means to an end. Speaking, writing, podcasting are all a means to convey ideas, knowledge and emotions. It’s about sharing insights and understanding.

Figuring it out means thinking about things. It involves reflection, which includes going back over history. Considering how I might have done better. It’s not beating myself up or second-guessing every single thing I do, but it’s reconsidering things so I can learn. Figuring it out has to include a commitment to learning. Learning demands a willingness to change, improve and try new things.

Podcasting works for me, but that doesn’t mean it can’t work better. Most things can be improved.

For me, that doesn’t mean I’m chasing downloads, dollars or donations. I’m chasing my love to communicate. I’m chasing my desire to share what I’ve learned so I can be better understood and so others might be able to benefit. I’m chasing my own abilities to convey understanding. It’s the process that matters.

When I was in college – in journalism school – a professor once uttered a profound statement.

Writers write.

I’ve learned it’s true of any endeavor. If you want to podcast, start podcasting. If you want to speak, speak. The act of doing it makes you that thing. And Vince Gill said one time in an interview that greatness – talking about music – is great whether very few or very many hear it. In the last year few bands have been in my earbuds or headphones more than Midnight Pilot, but you’ve probably never heard of them before. How does that alter their music? Would their music be better if they were a household name like Coldplay? The only thing that matters is their financial ability to keep making music. Well, that and their resolve to be true to play what they want.

Years ago we went to see Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers during their tour for The Last DJ. Many songs on that record dealt with the topic of the modern music business and Tom’s disdain for how things are today. A couple of the song titles give you some insight: The Last DJ and Money Becomes King. We hear about artists who “sell out” and normally we mean they did what they had to do to make more money. Here’s the problem with that idea as it relates to figuring things out. I don’t want Midnight Pilot to give up what they’re doing. I want them to keep producing the kind of music they’re producing. Time will tell if they can break through to more financial success so they can keep on doing it. Guys like Jason Isbell are committed to playing the music they want to play. They hope people will listen to it, support it and enable them to keep doing it, but they’re sticking to their guns making the music they want to make.

Think of all the great musicians on the planet. Studio musicians. Professional musicians. Amateur musicians. Journey, The Monkees and nearly every boy band were constructed business ventures designed to play music for money. It can be done. That’s what some people are doing with podcasting — trying to reverse engineer the success they’ve seen others achieve. It’s just not what I’m doing and maybe that’s a mistake on my part.

It is what it is.

It Is What It Is
My daughter bought me this sign which is now inside The Yellow Studio

I’m committed to my process. I’m committed to how I do things. Honestly, a few hundred people is enough. I’m thankful for every listener, but I’m doing what I want to do…hopeful that others will appreciate it. I could engineer things and be far more strategic about building a following, increasing an audience or making some money. That’s just not why I began doing this, and it’s not why I do it now. Something may change in the future, but I doubt it. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to get better. At the top of the page, in the navigation, is a survey that is live all the time. It’s a place where listeners can give me feedback on what I can do to get better. I have a contact page where people can send me an email telling me what they love or hate. I’m on social media where people can call me out or do whatever they’d like. There are lots of ways for people to let me know how my podcasting work affects them. None of that presupposes that I’m going to do what people may suggest, or that I’ll stop doing the things they may not enjoy. Maybe I will. Maybe I won’t.

I’ve listened to Midnight Pilot’s EP, LET GO, more times than I can count. That title track may be permanently embedded in my brain. I love it. That doesn’t mean I want the boys to create every song just like that one. It does mean I love their style. It resonates with me and I hope they’re finding financial success so they can keep producing their music. I want them to produce the music they love because I love it, too. I know they didn’t start playing music with me in mind. They were just playing what they wanted to play – and what they wanted to hear. Audience growth depends on them finding enough other people who feel the same way. Every fan of Midnight Pilot feels like me – connected to the songs and music those guys produce.

Creative work and business work don’t have to be disconnected. They can be, but they don’t have to be. Jason Isbell has said repeatedly that he has no expectation of being wildly successful in the music business. He just doesn’t feel it’s likely for a rebellious storyteller like him. He’s probably right. But he’s experiencing terrific success that’s enabling him to keep on doing what he wants – and maybe that’s the ideal in figuring things out. How can we keep doing what we most want to do?

For me the goal transcends specific methodologies. It’s about being a better man!


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