Do you ever look back at your work and realize how far you’ve come?
After recovering from all the cringing at your awkward, younger self, of course!
But then your existential embarrassment settles, and you become grateful for your younger self for taking the physical and emotional risk to put yourself out there. For me, it was committing to releasing one podcast episode a week, no matter what for the past year.
It’s awesome now to be able to say I have 50+ episodes out now. And I’ve learned so much along the way, both in the podcasting industry, in entrepreneurship, and content creation, as well as within myself as a human, an Asian American, and a man.
Whether you’ve been thinking about getting into podcasting or not, this post will be useful for those who want to be a better communicator and to live a better life in general.
Here are the life lessons podcasting has taught me in the first year.
Consistency Within Yourself Is Key
I know this may be drawn out for most of you, as everyone says it! Be consistent! Make content every day! But it really is important. Because the thing is, most people aren’t, and no matter how you or someone else judges your work, showing up consistently is going to beat everyone else out.
But besides the actual production of the content, what I mean by consistency here is within yourself and your message.
In the beginning, I doubted myself many times in the topics I wanted to talk about. As a result, the episodes were all over the place. It was confusing for listeners (and difficult to edit!). In a podcast, listeners can only focus on one thing at a time. They tune in because of the title, and if you can’t stay on topic, they’ll lose interest and move on to something else.
So I’ve learned to stay consistent in the one message I want to send in each episode. There may be multiple layers to it, as I personally like to go with the flow of the conversation, but in planning the conversation with my guest, I’ll make sure to start with one topic that we can always anchor back to.
This consistency in voice is important not just in podcasting, but in life as well. People rarely listen to the “fence straddler,” or worse, the flip-flopper. If there’s something you are truly passionate about, you have to truly stand behind it. Avoid language like “a little bit,” or “kind of,” or “just”, or “maybe,” or “but.” They’re subtle things in the way we speak that belittles our message and you’ll start to lose people’s attention and trust.
So not only is it important to stay consistent in physically creating the episodes on a scheduled basis, it’s arguably more important to stay consistent within yourself. Having confidence in your voice and message will make it a lot easier for people to know exactly what to expect from you and how to follow along when you speak.
It’s A Great Way To Develop Speaking Skills
It’s a lot more work for myself if I have to go back and edit out all the “um’s” and silences and tangents. So podcasting forces me to avoid them as much as possible to save time in editing.
Conversationally, I realized I tend to add too many disclaimers for myself and for the points I’m trying to make. Maybe out of my deep-seated need to people please, or to practice humility, or not be too contrarian, but doing so worked against me in terms of building authority because there was no conviction. It also made the episodes way longer than they needed to be.
Of course, it’s all inevitable when getting started, and will take years to master. I’ll admit even knowing this, my recent episodes still reflect some of this. But that shouldn’t be an excuse to not start or continue working at it.
With anything in life, the first few episodes are going to suck. But I kept doing it, and going back to listen through it, recognize something I want to fix for next time, and do it all over again. And letting go of needing to be perfect the first, or even the second, third, and fourth try. Using this as a tool, it’s helped me speak with directness and assertiveness in-person as well.
Of course, in real life, you can’t edit out the fillers, the silences, the tangents. That’s what makes it a beautiful art form for it being a natural process. So podcasting is definitely different than having a conversation in-person. But they do influence one another, especially when we can use the podcasting environment to intentionally practice our speech, it’ll eventually become a subconscious behavior when interacting with others. And people will be more likely to listen to you and your ideas when you can communicate clearly and concisely.
It Opens Opportunities
When you have more people listening to you, not just in a podcast, but in life, it inevitably creates more opportunities.
Podcasting has developed a confidence in me to articulate my ideas and vision more with others. And what I’ve learned is that people do want to help, they just need you to help them understand how. And that means clearly communicating what it is you want, and what you need support with.
Once I was able to do that, I started seeing so many opportunities pop up, which blew my mind in how much abundance there is in this world. I was so stuck in the belief that I had to have a certain IQ or talent, a certification or degree, a certain amount of money, or access to a certain economic class before I could pursue any dreams at all.
Unfortunately, that belief leaves us in a disempowered state, limiting us in scarcity, rather than staying in the realm of possibility and actually coming up with the steps to get closer to what we want.
In 2019, a book publishing company found one of my podcast episodes and reached out to collaborate with me in writing a book for them. I didn’t end up getting the gig, which was hard since I was really excited about the topic, but it was enough to motivate me to keep the podcast going because you never know who would be listening, or what episode they might resurface.
People Love Having A Platform
Humans naturally love telling stories, especially in something they’re passionate and knowledgeable about.
I didn’t understand this before. I assumed that everyone was too busy for some kid to just “pick their brain.” I assumed that everyone wanted to keep their secrets for themselves. And with the nature of my podcast being centered around a deep and personal topic like emotional intelligence, I assumed that no one would open up to talk about the deep stuff with me.
Though there are many who do fall in those camps, it’s not everyone. Most people actually love having a platform to share their story and passion. Give anyone the space, whether in a podcast or in-person and they will fill it with what lights them up. Of course, then the skill becomes being able to foster the psychological safety that draws that out of them. There’s an art to asking just the right question in a non-judgmental way that will jog their memory to share their gems.
Podcasting has been a great networking tool because of this. It’s a great excuse to dedicate an hour solely to get to know them and what they’re working on, and how I or the listeners could support, collaborate, or work with them. I’m now able to play the role of the connector, to serve as a resource for my guests to go to if they ever need anything.
I’ve Become A Better Listener
The best conversationalists don’t actually have the best lines, or all of their topics at the ready. They’re great listeners. They may be knowledgeable and insightful, but more importantly, they listen to their guests and are able to flow with what they’re saying. With good listening skills, they can draw out the more interesting parts of anyone’s story.
This has been important for me in my interpersonal relationships as well. Of course, I’m not going around “podcasting” with my friends while we’re hanging out (unless something good comes up!), but I’m able to practice patience in letting people finish their thoughts before asserting my own. And that allows people to fully express themselves and feel comfortable doing so. Many times, people told me that they don’t typically share with others what they just shared with me. And that alone creates an insight for them they wouldn’t have had otherwise.
Unfortunately, most of us tend to be thinking of the next great thing to say and we end up missing out on learning something new from them, or even for ourselves.
I’m not saying this all to brag, but to celebrate that as a skill I very much lacked growing up. I was usually left out of many conversations and stories and it was most likely because I didn’t show them that I was truly listening.
It’s Important To Take A Break
In December of 2019, I took a break from my podcast after releasing 44 episodes every Monday. I realized that I had been spreading myself thin with the many other content pieces I was pursuing.
I was writing for my blog and other publications. I was creating videos out of that blog. I even had a Youtube series where I had thoughtful conversations and sang karaoke with my Lyft passengers. All while building a coaching business and working with clients 1-on-1 to develop their emotional intelligence.
It was overwhelming and I had to pick something to pause. My thought process at the time was that I enjoyed the video production process and it made sense as a more personal medium for people to get to know me, so I stopped the podcasting and blogging.
What’s interesting about picking something to focus on, even before you think you’re ready or have all the information you need, is that that very act is what will clarify in your mind and intuition what you actually want to focus on.
After a couple months purely concentrating on making videos, I learned that I didn’t have the physical and mental capacity to put into researching, filming, editing, rendering, marketing, and planning my videos. It was too much as a one-person team. And videos are meant to be short and sweet, but my topics are so nuanced and require a lot more depth than a video would ever give.
I wouldn’t have known that without going into it full steam and experiencing it for myself. When pushing too many boulders, it’s hard to move any of them, and you end up sacrificing quality as well.
This is relevant to life. When we’re unable to take time to slow down and look at where we’re at and where we want to go, we’ll end up doing things for the short-term, just for the next destination. And then what? How fulfilling is it for you to just go from one place to another, not knowing why or what you’re doing in the big picture? It doesn’t have to be an exact picture, but to get through the hardships, you need to take the time to connect to something greater than yourself.
Season 2 Is Up!
I’m excited to start back up Season 2 of my podcast now having a lot more motivation, determination, and clarity in what I want out of the show.
Check out the first episode of Season 2 here! https://victorung.com/life-lessons-learned-after-one-year-of-podcasting
Originally published at https://victorung.com on April 4, 2020.