In January, Eagle launched a podcast series that showcases technology, job-roles within IT and business strategies that leverage technology. Think: Cyber Security, Project Management and eCommerce respectively. It is called the Eagle Tech Talks Podcast and can be found here (or wherever you listen to your podcasts). I took this on as a "COVID Project" to keep me busy and productive while our clients figured out how they were going to continue their IT projects while everyone was working from home. For internal training purposes, I began interviewing practitioners, subject matter experts and thought-leaders in the subject matter topics I'd chosen. About a dozen interviews into this process, based on the positive feedback from our team, we decided to take this the extra step and build these interviews into actual podcasts to share with the world!
Now that we have 15+ episodes finished and uploaded (and about that many more interviews completed and in the process of being converted into podcast episodes), I thought it might be of interest to share some of the lessons that I've learned along the way. Perhaps some of you are considering something such as this… or something equally as challenging, but different. Maybe my experience would serve to encourage you to start something that is new to you. I encourage you to do so as my own experience has been overwhelmingly positive, despite my serious reservations starting off down the path of a podcaster.
One of my early reservations was how much technical finagling would have to be done to get these together and out to the podcast sites. Turns out, it was one of the easier parts of the whole process! The technology to do these is, by now, very well established and quite user-friendly. I wasn't required to make big investments in new technology or software, nor did I. The podcast isn't glitzy with high-production value... it didn't need to be. What it is, is honest -- real people, talking about their areas of expertise and the passion that drives them. The lesson I learned was not to overthink it or overengineer it, but simply have a solid idea/plan and just START. The earlier episodes are a little shakier than the later ones and, the truth is, I'm still learning as I go. And that's ok!
Related to the last lesson is: don't demand perfection. Perfection is near impossible and, depending on your goals, it doesn't need to be perfect. I'm not a trained broadcaster, my voice isn't particularly well-suited to "audio recordings". Again, that's ok. People tune in to hear what my guests have to say, not how good (or bad) I sound. The lesson learned is that if you wait until everything is perfect, you will never start. Choose what you want to do, then set yourself an aggressive timeline and commit to meeting that timeline. Perfection be damned.
Another lesson I've learned by managing a weekly podcast is that your time management skills need to reach a whole new level. The podcast is not my primary job/deliverable at Eagle, yet it could easily eat up the lion's share of my time! To successfully put out a new episode each week and still get my regular day-job completed, I had to build a strategy and a process that ensured I was lining new guests up for future episodes, working with my current guests to plan the episode, complete these interviews, and build and record podcast episode content in a way that minimized the amount of time required so that I could focus most of my efforts on my other business priorities. This made me more "purposeful" on how I approached every day and forced me to become ruthless in my prioritization. I also learned that when working with my guests, their priorities weren't always the same as my own. This forced me to become a clear (and persistent) communicator and taught me how to be flexible, to deal with changing priorities.
Taking on the challenge of the Tech Talks podcast has allowed me the opportunity to meet many GREAT people. People who are passionate about the work that they do and are truly experts in their respective fields. So, not only have I had the chance to learn a ton from these people on the various topics that I've chosen, but I've been able to significantly expand my own professional network. I now know many new people who can be trusted to take a call from me and help out should I need it, just as they know that I'd be happy to do the same for them. This has resulted in new business for Eagle and for my guests' businesses. The lesson learned here is that talking and working with people leads to win-win scenarios and new opportunities. Through their participation, my guests are able to build their professional visibility and brands. Eagle's team is able to learn from industry SME's gaining the knowledge to ask better questions of our customers and share better, more detailed information with potential candidates on the roles for which we are recruiting. And, now that this is a podcast, our listeners benefit as well, whether they are other staffing industry people, people considering a career in IT, or IT professionals that are interested in learning more about their areas of interest.
An unexpected lesson-learned was that it is really good to challenge yourself! As mentioned earlier, I had many reservations about this project going into it; I would certainly be stepping outside my comfort zone. Yet, I have been able to learn some new skills, I've grown professionally from the experience, I've built my professional network as well as my own professional brand, and it was a LOT more FUN than I ever imagined!! I've heard it said that you need to "live on the edge" for that is where life happens and, I have to admit, this was true for me working on this project!
And the final lesson that I will share is that.. People are good! Much better than I would have believed. The support and encouragement that I've received has been beyond all expectations! Whether from my colleagues and team here at Eagle, from the people that I speak with as potential guests for the podcast, or even in the general feedback and comments from listeners of the podcast. They have, in large, been outstanding. I'm under no illusions that the podcast/training that we put out is super-special – In fact, I fully expected to be harassed by the "trolls" but it really hasn't been the case. In general, people seem to appreciate what it is that we've been trying to do with this podcast and have been very supportive.
So, there you have it. The lessons I learned by doing something out of my comfort zone. Perhaps these lessons will translate to your own project(s) that you might have been considering. Don't be afraid to give something new a try. Personal and professional growth awaits!