After interviewing 27 different people for my podcast, I wanted to share some things I’ve learned along the way. I also think it’s important to note that there’s nothing special about the number 27 (okay aside from 27 Dresses). It’s not your typical celebratory numeric. In fact I think I could go as far to say that “27” is a weirdly under-acknowledged number. But I kind of like that.
So aside from the obvious: learning that everyone I’ve spoken with has a mind-blowing story. And I have to be honest with you, some of the deepest things are shared with me off mic. I know it sounds clique but I feel honored to participate in the conversations I’ve had with my guests. From the people I had early on in the show when I was inexperienced and unsure of what the hell I was doing. To the middle men who helped me get better at interviewing. To the most recent guests, who are challenging me to rely less on my questions, let go of control, and just let the conversation roll. I thank each and every one of them, not just because they are challenging me to improve and grow. But that they willingly show up during these conversations. They make themselves vulnerable. They take off the armor. And they allow me to see them for who they really are. No judgement. Just truth. I’m getting the goosebumps just thinking about it.
I’m learning that the best stories are in the details. Post-interview every single guest I’ve had is in the BEST mood. I often detect a sense of surprise, as they tell me how much they enjoyed the experience. Pre-interview most people ask how long the interview will take. I give them the run-down and tell them that the shortest interview hangs around 45 mins and the longest pushes 2 hours. It’s then, that I sense that this news is unsettling to my guest. It’s as if I have given them the wrong answer. It’s certainly not the answer most people like to hear. And I get that. It’s intimidating. I can only imagine the uneasiness swirling, a cloud of smoke seeping into their mind. Fogging their focus. I, on the other hand rest easy, because I know they will be amazing. I don’t know how I know this. But I pick my guests with intent. I often feel drawn to them. Certainly as my podcast has grown, the number of suggestions I’ve received of who I should interview has increased. Which is amazing – and trust me, I welcome the recommendations! I explore each potential guest and if I feel pulled toward them and excited, I pursue. So please keep your suggestions coming, just know that I’m learning to listen to my gut about who I choose to interview.
Also, my podcast is long format. And I like it this way. Often times I dive into these conversations literally JUST having met my guest minutes beforehand. So aside from a few email exchanges, we’ve never heard each other’s voices, let alone spoken face to face. I like the longer format for several reasons. First, it gives me time to build rapport with my guest, so they can settle in and begin to feel comfortable with the mic in their hand, the black foam ball in their face, and me across from them (a brand new acquaintance – but basically a stranger). From their seat, they’re facing a girl her ears cupped in giant headphones, also holding a mic in front of her mouth, and a laptop in the peripheral. Just incase this wasn’t enough, the growing bars in the recording software are a constant visual reminder that our verbal exchange is being recorded (FOR-EV-ER). So you can imagine why it can take some time for people to settle in. Second, I seriously can’t imagine calling it quits so early on in the game. I’ve glanced down before when my guest and I are around the 30-35 minute mark and I feel like the conversation is just starting to take shape. There is still so much gold to be unearthed.
If you’re not a long format kind of listener, it’s a pretty simple solution. You don’t have to listen to my podcast. Personally I love long format shows and I typically listen to them in chunks: when I’m on the stairmaster, walking, doing laundry, the dishes, or styling my hair. It’s like reading a book: you don’t have to sit down and read it from cover to cover. You pick it up, read as much as you want, and resume where you left off the next time you rendevouz.
Often times after an interview I am exhausted. Although I hesitate to even use that word, because it can have a negative connotation. It’s honestly the kind of exhausted I’ve been craving my entire life. I am connecting with someone on a deeper and more meaningful level. I will tell you what my podcast is not. It’s NOT: two people discussing surface level topics and exchanging pleasantries. My podcast IS: sharing the truth. It’s bringing to light what often goes unsaid. Because of the rarity with which these topics are spoken, I treat my guest’s with the utmost respect. For this reason when I am interviewing someone I am quite literally “all ears”. As I said earlier, the deeper stories are in the details. And they can be easy to miss. It’s my job to sift and dig and notice when something sparkles. If I brush away the dirt, I can unearth a gem. For example, when someone is talking and they reference a small detail in their response, I mentally bookmark this in my brain while simultaneously staying engaged while they finish their train of thought. It’s a skill I am developing. I’m not going to lie, I re-listen to each episode more times than anyone else and I hear the times when I missed an opportunity to follow through or ask more about something. I am challenged every time I interview someone. My husband asked me the other day “do you think you will ever get bored of this?”….to me, that’s like asking someone if they will become bored of reading a different book every week. I can’t imagine getting bored, because no one person shares the same exact story.