If you were asked what your favorite mistake is, what would you answer? This is a big part of what makes My Favorite Mistake such an intriguing show to listeners. When you listen to one person relate their mistake and how it impacted their life, it makes you want to listen to the next person and the next person after that. Mark Graban thrived throughout the years using this model of podcasting. A seasoned podcaster who started way back in 2006, Mark excels in curating viewpoints and extracting patterns to make his show more effective. He has a knack for convincing all types to people to open up about their mistakes and help people understand how it shaped the persons they ended up being. Mark is in the process of creating a book out of the viewpoints he curated through the show over the years. It’s going out soon, so that’s something to be excited about! Tune in and find out more about it.
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Curating Podcasting Viewpoints To Make Your Show More Effective With This Seasoned Podcaster Mark Graban Of My Favorite Mistake
Welcome back to the show. I have Mark Graban, who is an OG podcaster. He started in 2006 before some of us came into the podcasting world. He has a podcast now. He got multiple of them but he has a podcast called My Favorite Mistake. I love that title and everything that it implies. He’s going to tell us a little bit about the genesis of that. You’re not going to want to miss this episode. Mark Graban is the author of the award-winning book, Lean Hospitals: Improving Quality, Patient Safety, and Employee Engagement and his most recent book, Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More.
He serves as a consultant through his company, Constancy Inc. He is also a senior advisor for the technology company KaiNexus. Mark hosts podcasts including Lean Blog Interviews and My Favorite Mistake. He is currently finishing a new book about learning from mistakes. Lean podcast, Lean Blog Interviews, Lean Whiskey, KaiNexus. He got all these podcasts, mixing it up, and yet he merged it into something that’s a little bit niche and narrow in its topic, but broad in terms of the different types of people that it can reach, and he has been finding some great success here. That’s why he has been invited on the show. Let’s talk to Mark Graban.
Mark, I’m so glad to talk with such a seasoned podcaster since 2006. What made you think in 2006 that this podcasting thing was going to be worthwhile? You were a blogger first, right?
I started blogging in 2005. I had one of my mentors from my field, Norman Bodek, who has passed away. He was well into his late 70s. It was his idea. We had done some text and email interviews back and forth that I had published in his blog posts. Norman Bodek gave me the gift one day. He said with the confidence and the somewhat pushiness that he always had, “Mark, you need to do a radio interview of me,” and I chuckled at that. I was like, “Norman, I don’t own a radio station. I don’t have a radio show,” but I had started hearing about podcasts. I took his idea and turned that into, “I will try a podcast.” Norman was my first guest. Without that push, I don’t know if I would have gotten into it eventually or what would have happened.
That’s so interesting that you figured that out at that stage in 2006. For those of you who are starting a show now, that was hard. It was even hard a decade after that, but it is not hard now compared to that. You have now started multiple shows. That first one was what I assume became Lean Interview or your Lean Blog Interviews or your Lean podcast.
If I could go back and do it again, it’s a bad name because I had Lean Blog then I call it the Lean Blog Podcast. It’s clunky. I should have called it something like the Lean Cast or something like that.
You would have cleaned it up now. Back then, you had the word podcast in the name. Nowadays, for people who don’t understand podcasting, it’s usually a big red flag. You call your new show, My Favorite Mistake. It doesn’t have the word podcast in the name of it because it’s on a podcast player. It’s redundant. You don’t do that now but back then, you had to because when you were promoting it or sharing it in newsletters or wherever you were doing it, they didn’t know what it was.
It was harder as a podcaster but it was harder as a listener. I remember when you didn’t download it through your browser. I’m trying to remember at what point there was a streaming player. You would have to download the file, load it to your MP3 player, and then the MP3 player is out of the room.
I think it was right about 2013 or 2014 when you could stream it on Apple. That was where the tipping point happened. Someone will send us a message and correct that if I’m off by a year, but it was right around that decade that we got into that shift of it. Back when you were doing it, you’re right. You had to go to the desktop iTunes browser and download it probably onto your little iPod player.
Even before that, there are these others dedicated mp3 players.
That’s right. That’s how long ago that was. You then had to tackle everything yourself. We were talking before we started recording here about you started figuring out how to edit and how to distribute. You had to figure it all out then.
I did my best.
What stuff do you still do now and all the stuff that you dropped off? I’m sure the distribution got easier and other things happened.
Technology has changed. Distribution has gotten easier. For better or worse, I still do it myself and I have thought through the trade-offs. I think I have things down to a pretty good routine. Either efficiency or laziness are two sides of the same coin. I don’t agonize over editing. I do a little editing.
You have a show My Favorite Mistake. It is allowed to make mistakes. You gave yourself the opportunity where you’re going, “I don’t need to edit.”
I will violate that rule if right in the very first ten seconds, I choke on a word or something. I will go back and restart it, but in the middle, no. I try to avoid major mistakes like double-checking the pronunciation of people’s names even if I feel 98% certain how to pronounce them. I don’t want to be tripped up on that and have the person the whole time wondering, “Should I correct him?” I don’t want that problem.
Back to the question of, do I keep doing it myself, or what’s the setup time involved in getting someone else set up to take these hand-offs? I have fallen back into I will do it myself. I grew up with computers. I love playing with technology, so that part of it is interesting to me. Even economically, it’s not always the best use of my time.
There’s something about the curation process in what you’re doing. We’re talking at this tipping point where all I have talked about this week has been AI. That’s all I have had discussions about. Everybody wants to talk about it. Everybody asked my view on it. This has been this area of it. As we head into that, people who curate as you do couldn’t write blogs without a viewpoint. I was writing blogs back in 2005 like you were.
Curating that viewpoint is what you do well in your show. This is your Binge Factor. It’s why I come and listen to My Favorite Mistake and listen to all the episodes. I’m doing it because when you pull that clip out, you have honed in on what you think is the different mistake this week from the one we heard last week and the one before that. You’re narrowing in on that and curating all of that together, which is why I can’t wait for your book because it’s again a curation process of what you took away from it.
After a while, you start seeing patterns. Every guest is unique and it has been almost 200 episodes now of My Favorite Mistake, but you start seeing some patterns and some themes. I try to draw that out in a way. It has helped me think through it and process it. There are still a lot of people who don’t listen to podcasts. I hate to say that.
There is still a lot but it’s growing.
I think a book will reach a different audience in a different way. Maybe it will inspire them to hear the longer version of the stories directly from the guests in the podcast.
I would love for you to talk a little bit about that process from podcast to book. What has that flow been like for you? Were you pre-planning it? Were you thinking about the guests you wanted to have? Did you plan out the book first and then do that? Which way did it go?
This is a question again of efficiency or laziness or serendipity.
We’re going to call it serendipity.
It was not designed from the beginning of, “Here’s the mix of guests I need to lead to a book.” I was thinking first of having a diversity of guests in all sorts of different dimensions, including people from different professions that I wouldn’t have normally interviewed in my earlier existing podcasts. I need to go back and find out who it was. It was one of my first ten guests and I could narrow it down a little bit. After we recorded, I think it was a she. It narrows it down more. I’m going to go back and ask some people because this is part of the origin story for the book. I got asked directly, not in an accusatory way like, “Are you doing this podcast because you’re writing a book about learning from mistakes?” I hadn’t thought of that yet.
They were like, “That’s what we think you’re doing. We’re going to plant that in your head.”
I simmered for a while and I published my last book back in 2018. That can take a lot out of you. You’re still promoting that book. I wasn’t ready to do another book. A lot of people wrote a book during the pandemic. I started a couple of new podcasts but then, it got to the point nine months ago where I started thinking, “I’m seeing themes. I’m seeing patterns. I want to explore this. I’m going to do a book.”
I’m glad you did. I think that we learn more from our mistakes than we do from our successes sometimes. We learn from other people’s mistakes well. That’s also that kind of model. It’s a great model for a podcast and a book. You’re right about that and it should be exciting to see the differences and how they lead to each. You can only put so much in the book. If I could come back and listen to the whole story, learn more about that person, have those tie-ins, and go back and forth, you’re going to see this nice flow-through. I look forward to seeing the results from that.
Thank you. It’s still coming together and I’m going back and forth with the editor that I hired to work with me. I have thrown a 95% written manuscript, which doesn’t mean 95% good. He’s got the manuscript.
It’s not that it’s 95% done.
He’s going through it. Part of why I hired him is I know some of the business books he has done. We’re having questions about the high-level organization of the book, and make sure that the arc of the book flows smoothly, and then figuring out how to tighten it up. I can’t include everybody’s story or it would be a long book after almost 200 guests.
This is nice because podcasting is so flexible. If he says, “You need another story in the healthcare industry or something like that.” You can fill in the gap and do that right away.
It’s a good point. It would be interesting to see how the book and the podcast coexist going forward. I’m taking a bit of a pause. I’m going to relaunch the show more to help promote the book when the book is ready to come out. There’s still a question. I think My Favorite Mistake, I have agonized over whether that name was a mistake. It’s inspired by the Sheryl Crow song and I think it’s a great phrase.My Favorite Mistake is inspired by a Sheryl Crow song. It’s a great phrase. It’s a great open-ended question. Click To Tweet
That’s why I like it.
It’s a great open-ended question, “What’s your favorite mistake?” I stumbled into a great question there. If you go to search My Favorite Mistake, the Sheryl Crow song dominates the search results. It occurred to me way too late, which is a mistake but not one that’s keeping me up at night. If I had called it Our Favorite Mistakes, that would have had a different searchability. For the book, we ended up deciding to call the book something different, The Mistakes That Make Us, then it’s like, “By the host of My Favorite Mistake.”
I want to say to the audience here and listen to what Mark said. This is the conundrum. This is the challenge that we have as hosts. Do we name our books and our podcast the same thing, our programs and our podcast the same thing, and our blog and our podcast the same thing? I think that there’s power in differentiation. What you have done here is a nice mix of it all and it may work even better. Once the book comes out, you may work to promote the podcast’s name even better.
It might. I could rebrand or rename the podcast. That would require more work and I’m not opposed to work, but is that worth it to rename or rebrand? Maybe not.
You’re probably hitting the tipping point with over 200 episodes and with the book coming out. There’s a Tracy Hazzard whom I get emails for every so often. Usually, it’s a publicity email asking for something. She’s a musician. Theoretically, she should dominate Spotify and Apple but I dominate Google. People find me more often than they find her. It should be very clear because we are not of the same cultural background.
It should be clear that we are not the same person, but people don’t look, so I get emails for her about once a week at least. That’s an interesting dynamic that I think could happen. Sheryl Crow is pretty famous, so that is going to be hard. I do think that current, relevant, and interesting topics around that should still rank up there with her. At least, it’s a search term people are using.
Here’s the other thing that made me think or move back from the side where I thought the podcast’s name was a big mistake. I don’t think people are necessarily searching for that phrase, My Favorite Mistake. If they search for things like business mistakes, my podcast does very well. There’s an art of even a subtitle for your podcast. Correct me if I’m wrong in this, but I read something that said that the Apple podcast search is pretty bad.
I say it all the time here. You are on it. It’s so bad. Its title, author name, and the 4,000-character description. That’s it.
I heard it doesn’t even use the description.
It doesn’t use the episode description. For the show description, it does.
That’s where I’m doing pretty well. It’s on phrases people might put into podcast searches.
I think you’re right. At the end of the day, when I’m looking for advice, lessons learned, and all of those things, you’re going to show up. That’s powerful. Let’s talk about something you dropped casually in our conversation already, which is that the pandemic happens and you double down and do more podcasts where lots of people wrote a book. Why?
There were a couple of factors. Normally, I would be on the road pre-pandemic at least half the time, consulting and speaking and doing that. I’m working in healthcare, so especially that got shut down. I was working with a client. We knew this was coming more so than the general public because the word was spreading within healthcare circles of this virus coming and we might be shut down. Even then, I thought, “We will see you in 2 or 3 months.” It turned out to be a lot longer than that. It was two years almost before I got back out on the road consistently.
I was working from home and I enjoy podcasting for a lot of reasons, for learning and networking. That’s marketing for myself for some exposure. First, this consulting firm that I do a lot of work with is called Value Capture. I was trying to help support some of their marketing initiatives or at least try to think of some things to set up for a recovery back to normal. There was some website work that I did. One idea was, “Let’s start a podcast. We can interview clients and consultants on the team and others. They said, “Sure.”
That was the first time I was directly being paid to do a podcast where it was part of my contractor work for that firm. A couple of months later, I came across the opportunity to start My Favorite Mistake. That was serendipity too and this probably happens to you. You get pitched guests all the time. With that Lean podcast, it’s very niche. I think it’s very popular in its niche, but it’s still not a general public interest podcast. One of those PR people pitched Kevin Harrington, who is one of the Sharks from Season One.
I had him on my show and we’re friends.
Normally, I would have said, “It’s not a fit,” and then there’s all this expression or this idea of finding a way to say yes instead of just no. I brainstormed with a couple of the guest bookers, and PR people who had reached out, including Kevin Harrington’s team. They said, “He will come on. He will share a mistake.” That was part of the experiment and he came on.
This is a big draw for your show from a guest standpoint. We matched each other through PodMatch. That’s how you got served up to me and we got connected through that. Normally, I’m pretty picky. I will screen through the shows and everything. I saw My Favorite Mistake and I was like, “Please let him be a good podcaster.” I was like, “The show sounds so cool. I want to talk about that.” I was so thrilled to find out how many hundreds of episodes you have done. It was like, “Great. I can do that.” It was that thing. The name of the show was an easy yes for a guest.
For a lot of guests, but there are some who won’t do it. I give Kevin Harrington and others so much credit for being willing to share their mistake stories. Here’s one fear that I’m exploring in the book. It’s of knowing that you’re right versus having an idea that I’m willing to test. I didn’t know at the beginning that I could attract more than a couple of guests who would be willing to come and talk about mistakes.
Kevin Harrington said yes, then I feared that people would come on and give me a version of the classic job interview question of like, “Tracy, tell me your biggest fault,” and you would say something like, “I just put in too many hours” or something. I was afraid that people might come on and do the whole thing like, “My favorite mistake is that I have been too successful,” but he didn’t do it.
There was just no BS. He was like, “Here’s a mistake I made that almost put my company out of business but thank God, I made the mistake early and I learned from it. I made some changes to make sure that wouldn’t happen again.” That’s gold. That was so brilliant. I’m paraphrasing his story but people have been very generous. It’s this weird combination of confidence and humility that it takes to be able to share a story like that on the podcast. The people who have been willing to come on and share are a cool group of people.
You have a diverse group. Let’s dive into our three questions section where we’re talking about this. On your Lean podcast, you have got Tom Peters. A pretty recent episode with Tom Peters was fascinating. He’s one of my favorite writers. I came from product development, so I have a background in lean as you do and I understand this model. Tom Peters is a rockstar still to have an interview with him. How do you get these great guests for both shows?
It’s a mix of things. The first time I had Tom Peters on my Lean podcast was a bit of a stretch. We’re talking about leadership, people, and those kinds of things, and this lean management methodology is at least connected. How did I get Tom that first time? I’m trying to remember. I have had him on the Lean podcast, then I asked him to come back and do My Favorite Mistake.
It’s great that you built a relationship that he would so willingly come back to.
With his most recent book, his team reached out to me and asked if he could come back on. I’m like, “Sure.” It’s killing me that I’m trying to remember how I stumbled into Tom. Some of it is my own networking and reaching out to people like Daniel Pink, who I think is another very well-known author. He has been on both podcasts. I had met him briefly. He was coming around doing a book tour for his book Drive and he was giving a talk. I went and then I had the gumption to go up and say hi afterward. We both are graduates of Northwestern University. You find that connection point, then I reached out to him and invited him, and he said that he would.
I gave a lecture for Northwestern on innovation and it was so much fun. What a great school. You got a connection point that you’re making with people and that helps.
There are times when I have reached out to people through my network or otherwise. There are times when I have been pitched guests. I’m fairly selective or I’m looking at it. That’s a different thing. If it’s just a generic pitch, I almost always hit delete. If someone has tailored the pitch to be something about the show, then okay.
I have got my talking points and I want to come on yet another podcast and say these same talking points and answer these same questions. I’m like, “No, my show is different.” People have said that it’s a good experience for them because they have enjoyed having a different type of conversation. I have used PodMatch and MatchMaker.fm to find guests. Sometimes it doesn’t take much effort to try.
I had seen some quotes by William Shatner about mistakes. I reached out over the holidays through his website and made a short but direct pitch, “I saw this quote. I love Mr. Shatner. If he would come on and elaborate on that quote about learning from mistakes.” Maybe he has time out of his hands over the holidays. You never know.
Maybe he’s going to start promoting a new book. You might be tapped into a promotion period that they’re about to go on.
I got a very polite response back from somebody on his team. It was exceedingly gracious. It was probably a bit of a form response but it was kind. I felt acknowledged. If they had deleted my message, fine, I get it. If he had said yes, it would have been amazing. As long as they didn’t say no or “How dare you for even asking” kind of way.
You keep going. I love that you’re doing what I think a lot of podcasters do once you hit over 100 episodes or 200 episodes. You start to get more selective because it’s got to be interesting for you. Thinking about the early days of your first show and now you had to grow a second show, which is hard. It’s one thing to take your show then shift it and keep the audience you have, but you had to grow a whole new one. What was the difference between growing an audience back in 2006 and growing an audience in 2020?
There was less competition at the time in 2006 both in my niche and maybe in general. The audience numbers probably grew faster for that Lean podcast. There wasn’t as much for people to find. Now more people have started more podcasts in that field and that’s great. I’m part of a networking group that helped organize for some of those podcasters who have been at it a long time and people who are just starting them over the pandemic to be helpful and collegial instead of being competitive.
With My Favorite Mistake and with the podcasts for the firm Value Capture, which we call Habitual Excellence, the audience has grown slowly. That’s one piece of advice I would give the podcasters. Unless you’re already famous, you’re probably not going to have overnight success. Make sure you got a topic, a theme, or a focus that you’re committed to because it’s a slog or a grind.Unless you’re already famous, you’re probably not going to have overnight success in podcasting. Make sure you have a focus that you’re committed to because it’s a grind. Click To Tweet
I have experimented with a little bit of paid promotion but otherwise, I’m trying to grow it organically. It takes time. I look at the charts. I try not to obsess over them. I try not to get too excited or too discouraged. ‘m not doing it for that count of downloads or listens. I’m doing it for learning, networking, and exposure. I don’t need it to be the next Crime Junkie, which is one podcast my wife listens to all the time.
It’s not that entertainment model. It’s a different model.
It’s not and so be it. Trying to grow it, there’s that challenge too. Maybe I should try to get more professional marketing help. Should I edit it myself? Should I upload it myself? Should I market it myself?
You’re doing some good things on the marketing side that I can see because you put them right into your blog, which is great. You have a short blog with a little description and lots of bullet points about what the takeaways are. You have got a short video clip, which is under two minutes. You got quote graphics that you created for your guests and sometimes there are 3 to 5.
I have seen a few that had more because they were so quotable. You must be also using them on social media. That’s a part. You’re putting a lot of work into your show, which has to come back to also the way you’re showing respect for those great guests you’re getting because you’re putting that work in, and it’s easier for me to say yes as a guest.
I try to get exposure for the guests. It’s funny when you finish recording, a guest will quite often thank me, then they will ask what they can do for me. I’m thinking, “You have done a lot. You have given your time, your stories, and your insights. That’s a lot. Please help share and promote the episode when it’s available.” Here’s the other thing I have found going back to the question of finding good guests. They’re all good but there are some guests who I can tell have a network of people.
One of my guests who works as a publisher and a coach for other authors has been very reliable in terms of referring other people to me. I will ask guests more often than not, “If you can think of somebody else who would fit the vibe of the show and be willing to be a little bit vulnerable and share a story, please refer them over to me.” That has worked out well too.
That’s so good. You talked before about the return on investment. You talked about having a lot of speaking engagements and other things. Did a lot of that come from that early podcast and you got asked again? You were on the road for a while. Is that picking back up again? What is the current return on investment from the shows for you?
A lot of it is very indirect. It’s hard to trace sometimes the connection between blogs, books, and podcasts in terms of the source. I can think of a couple of instances where a hospital executive read a blog post and almost immediately reached out and said, “That was insightful. Would you come in and talk about that theme with my team and let’s do a session.” There was a credibility-builder to that. I don’t know if that has happened directly from a podcast.
When things started picking up, there was the opportunity to do in-person speaking engagements again. Sometimes people would reach out and invite me to speak. We would have the conversation like, “Here are some themes and topics that I normally speak on, but I’m developing this new talk on the theme of My Favorite Mistake.”
The take rate on that has been very hot, which is even more encouraging because once the book is out, that will lead to more invitations. Right or wrong, people will make an assumption, “Somebody wrote a book, therefore, we should invite them to speak.” I hope I’m good enough at both of those things but I would caution people. It’s a very different skillset. You can’t assume that an author is also going to be a great speaker.
You can’t assume that. That’s so true.
It is a big credibility booster though to be a published author. That’s a different discussion for someone else’s podcast.
That’s right. That’s for the book shows. We will have to send you over to Promote Profit Publish or one of the other shows to talk about that when your book is launched, and you can do a difference there. I want to talk about the blogging side because I was a blogger first too. I can see a distinctive difference in terms of the longevity of a show. They seem to last longer and they seem to have some better practices built in when they were bloggers first. I’m curious, what did you take from blogging that you do in your podcasting or you do with your podcast back into your blog?
Some of it might be recognition of trying to mix things up in terms of maybe more so with blog posts like different formats of posts or different topics. That’s informed a little bit with the podcasting.
That’s that long-tail keywording model is what you’re saying. You want to see that you’re touching around the big topic and you’re not just saying, “Lean, manufacturing or lean broad management.” You’re not just lean all the time. You’re talking about all the topics around it.
You’re giving me much more credit than I deserve for an intentional SEO strategy.
Your titles reflect that. The titles of your episodes reflect that blogging model. I can see it. That’s different from what other people do. It would be so easy for someone to go, My Favorite Mistake, guest name, again and again. You don’t do that. You give what type of mistake it is and the person.
There’s probably a good practice there around trying to write good titles that draw people in without seeming clickbaity or misleading. That’s going to turn people off. One other thing that I have reflected on is thinking of a diversity of topics. When I started My Favorite Mistake, I made a much stronger commitment to diversity of guests and setting out to have half of my guests be women, and having a goal of at least 20% people of color as guests.
I look back at the Lean podcast. In that field, a lot of it comes from engineering and traditionally White male-dominated industries and it has been easier. I still find PR firms are pitching maybe 70% men. I don’t know how and why that is. I make an effort to find more great women to be great guests. It’s also made me rethink and not make excuses with the other podcasts and say, “It’s a traditionally White male field.”
I’m like, “No, I need to work harder to find guests that provide greater representation and greater diversity, and breaking some of the cycles of people feeling not included because they don’t see people like themselves on stage or as a guest on the podcast.” I have tried to shift in a better direction that way with the Lean podcast as well.We need to be intentional about diversity of podcast guests. We need to break the cycle of people feeling not included because they don’t see people like themselves as guests on shows. Click To Tweet
I think it shows because with that comes new perspectives, new topics, and new ideas. You’re covering that in a great way. I do see some blogging things, which are having headers or images. You have some of those things built into the pages that you have created behind the scenes. It creates a great resource for your community, whoever they may be, which is going to help you sell the book. It’s going to help you sell your services and help you get more speaking engagements. I think those blogging tactics lend themselves well to podcasting. Unfortunately, not many of us podcasters do it
Maybe one of the lessons from blogging is there are certain search engine principles where you don’t want to write bloated blog posts that are longer than they should be. It’s sad. My understanding is that Google algorithms reward longer blog posts. They are seen as more authoritative. With a podcast, Google can’t yet search audio, so getting a transcript done and putting that on the blog page is a great advantage from a search perspective.
Our research and what we do on our end say that 3,000 to 6,000 words are a sweet spot there. Most people will never write a blog over 1,000 words. That’s too much to write, but you can certainly speak that, and so being able to do that. I do think that using some of these tools that put the transcript in is blocking the Google algorithm from a technical standpoint. If you copy it out of there and put that in, you will be in a better place. I did see you used to do that on the Lean podcast.
It’s funny. I asked the company that does that service. They say that the way the code is working does have the text, and I have tested it. It will come through. I don’t understand the technical magic of how that works. You’re right. My fear is that having some embedded transcript wouldn’t give that benefit but it seems to work well. I don’t want to name them because there are some bugs and glitches.
That’s why I’m not out promoting it yet. We have been testing it too but we don’t see consistency in it. We see that If you already had a decent website, it doesn’t hurt you. If you are trying to grow a new one, it doesn’t work for you. It’s harder to start a website.
I want to use their embedded player because there are some features and I want to try to help them. They’re a startup but at the same time, I’m paying them. If I want to export the text and put it in the blog post as plain text, then that’s my right to do so.
It should be interesting to see what happens in this AI future and these auto transcripts and these auto models. You’re right. Now, nobody can track what’s being said on that podcast. That’s why searchability and discoverability are so bad on Apple and Spotify but I think it’s going to change, and you will have so much content. With as many shows as you have comes a new problem, and that’s that you have too much information. I saw that on your Lean podcast side, you’re starting to do collections.
Back when you started your podcast and back when I started my podcast, they didn’t even let us go beyond a few hundred episodes. Apple used to cap it out at 300. When you hit 301, it would start dropping your first ones off, so you had to start a new collection. What are you doing to help? If somebody comes to it and wants to dive into your lean management model, how do you help them search through all that content?
I could probably do a little bit more of curating a path through certain episodes for certain types of listeners from certain industries or certain backgrounds. As you said, I have tried to do at least some thematic collections. If you are a podcaster that’s mostly healthcare-themed and here are podcasts where CEOs are the guests. There’s still more to figure out.
When you have that much content, it’s hard. That’s like my 3D print podcast. It’s way too hard to categorize everything, then you also have to keep up. Some of those companies go out of business. It’s a management issue when you have a show that goes on as long as yours.
There are different factors and it’s sad or gloomy. I think there are people I have interviewed who have passed away since. Hopefully, for some people, it’s comforting that the recording is there. In My Favorite Mistake series, I interviewed a classmate of mine from high school who was a comedian and an actor in Los Angeles. You would probably be more likely to recognize him from commercials. He was on some Disney Channel shows and did some stuff on Comedy Central.
He was an amazing guest. He coughed a couple of times but it’s COVID times and people cough. We were excited. I was living in LA at the time and things were opening up. We’re going to get together and hang out. Within about two months, he’s telling friends that he got diagnosed with lung cancer and was gone three months later. It’s sad if not devastating. There are lots of videos of him because he was a working actor and comedian. I hope that if friends and family are searching, that episode gives some comfort, and it’s sad at the same time.
You got to have that connection to him at that point in time, not knowing what was going to happen. You had that connection point and that’s amazing. At least you met each other young and you still connect before he was gone. I can see that as being in Memorium. You have some of those as well. You’re right. It is a challenge the more you go on your show. What do you do with these things? Do they hold up to the test of time? Do they have more value because they’re the last conversation with someone? There’s a lot to think about as you manage the show. The book is your big challenge coming forward, but you had to have made a bunch of mistakes. What’s your favorite one in the podcasting world where you said, “I learned so much from that mistake,” that our audience could learn from as well?
In terms of a favorite, I’m doing the thing that my guests do. I made a lot of mistakes. Let me think about it. I have touched on maybe a couple of naming mistakes or things that could have been a little better, but maybe my favorite mistake wasn’t a mistake name. One mistake that comes to mind was a time I literally forgot to click record.
That was one time out of probably 700 different interviews that I have done with people on different platforms. It used to be Skype then Zoom and I have experimented with some others. I didn’t hit record and I didn’t realize it until the end of the episode. I realized there’s no recording. I tried to practice some of the practices my guests talked about like if you made a mistake, own it. I didn’t try to lie or blame it on a glitch or anything. That guest was very gracious and their reaction was something like, “We will just call that a rehearsal and we will go and do it again.” That was very nice.If you’ve made a mistake, own it. Click To Tweet
There was one other time I interviewed Eric Riese, who’s pretty well known. He’s the author of The Lean Startup. It’s his claim to fame. This was back when I was still using a Windows PC and recording to a spinning old-school hard drive. Somewhere that next morning, that hard drive crashed and I didn’t have a backup of Eric’s recording. It’s not necessarily my fault. This was probably about 2010. Eric was incredibly gracious and he rerecorded. In terms of learning from mistakes, forgetting to record can be addressed. If you use Zoom, you can set a meeting to automatically record, and then you can trim away the beginning. With the hard drive crash thing, I love my Macs now. They have solid-state drives.
The technology shift is important here.
Now it’s like suspenders and another belt. Everything is backed up continually to iCloud and time machine, then I use another online backup service.
You got it all covered around here. We used to have the issue. My partner and my husband recorded together in the early days. It wasn’t a matter of having an interview going on. You had to physically turn on the Zoom devices. Zoom devices and Zoom are not the same things. It’s like a recording machine. Back then, it might have been even something different. We had a whole mixer. Invariably, he would forget to flip something on.
I’m not good at saying the same thing again. I will never say it the same way twice and there will be this thing where he was like, “You didn’t say this and you didn’t say that.” He will say that after me and I was like, “You didn’t turn on the recording.” There would be this contentiousness between us. We were like, “We have to find a new system.”
That’s one of the themes that I have explored with some guests that I’m working through in the book. It’s doing things to try to prevent mistakes. It’s hand-in-hand that we should expect to make mistakes because we’re human. At the same time, trying to prevent mistakes but then realize that sometimes, we can’t prevent them all. When they do happen, at least show ourselves some grace, take ownership of it, and think of what could I do differently and how could I mistake-proof that in the future. It’s easier said than done. Don’t beat yourself up.
I came from the product design and development world, and there’s product failure. It happens. It’s part of the process. You don’t know. When you watch somebody’s misuse of something, it’s an opportunity. That’s where we have to recognize that in ourselves and be able to say, “That’s an opportunity for me to do something different, put in a different process, and find a new tool.” We don’t always think about that about ourselves. We easily recognize it in somebody else though.
There’s one other thing I was going to say when it comes to mistakes. There are lots of little mistakes that I do and could make. One of the strategies I use is a checklist. For each episode, it’s in Google Sheets. I go through it and it helps me make sure I don’t forget to do a certain thing that I needed to do. If I discover a new mistake to make, I can add something to the checklist. Not to become a huge burden but it’s a way of trying to prevent some of that simple human error of forgetting to do something.
I think the more you go on, sometimes you will skip something. You will forget something a lot easier because it becomes such second nature that I don’t even look at the recording thing anymore. I had to make it a part of my process to say, “We’re going to get started here.” That forced me to set that mental shift for myself so that I would hit the record button because I would forget.
I think Zoom made some changes where there’s now that popup that makes it painfully clear you are being recorded, “If you don’t like this, leave the meeting.” If I were a guest here and you went to start and I didn’t get that popup. I might say, “Tracy, wait a minute. I will double-check if we are recording.”
Guests are smarter now about it too. They weren’t so sophisticated back in 2006.
I’m not going to name names but I was a guest on a podcast where the host forgot to click record. I didn’t notice and he didn’t notice. I turn about this fair play. I tried to be as gracious as my one guest had been and be like, “We will do it again.”
Mark, I am so glad you are continuing. You have doubled down on your podcasts and you’re continuing to push forward in this. Thank you for being a veteran in this industry but also someone who has been helping to grow the industry and helping others come up.
Thanks, Tracy. I’m going to keep listening to your episodes because I don’t have it all figured out. I might be stuck in some old ways of doing things, so I will try to keep learning. Thank you for what you’re doing with your podcast.
I’m excited to see how Mark turns this one into a book because there’s such a great conversation that goes on for 30 to 40 minutes or 30 to 50 minutes sometimes of conversation that goes on. They touch on the mistake but they do talk about more than the mistake. I love the idea of having a much more concise model where the chapters focused on that mistake and what it led to, what impact it had, or what shift it had in that person.
I’m interested in seeing what that collection looks like. I love the collection of podcasts here. I think they’re interesting. They’re great stories. He hones in on that but in that concise model, it could be such a great book. It could be one of those you hand out at events and give away to everyone. He might find a bestseller on his list as well.
It reminds me a little bit of Jon Nastor of Hack The Entrepreneur. I have to check it. I can’t remember if Jon is still doing it, but I certainly loved being on Jon’s show. I remember him talking about the idea that you had to come on his show and you had to make sure that you were willing to talk about this or he wasn’t going to let you on. I just checked and he’s at 522 episodes as I record this. Jon Nastor is still up to it as well. If you want to check out more mistakes everywhere, check out Jon Nastor.
I look forward to being on Mark’s show. I think it will be fun. I will have to dive deep and think about what my favorite mistake is. Nobody has ever asked me it that way. That’s one of my favorite parts about Mark, asking that question that makes me pause and say, “What would I answer?” Doesn’t that make us all think? Doesn’t that make us want to listen to the next person and the next person?
This is what makes a truly binge-able podcast. That’s why I love Mark Graban’s My Favorite Mistake and I think you are too. Go to TheBingeFactor.com. Check out Mark, connect with him, and listen to the podcast. Check out some of the other podcasters we got in there because you might find some who you want to model and some you don’t. I will be back next time with another binge-able podcaster. Thanks again for tuning in.
- Mark Graban
- My Favorite Mistake
- Lean Hospitals: Improving Quality, Patient Safety, and Employee Engagement
- Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More
- Constancy Inc.
- Lean Blog Interviews
- Lean Whiskey
- Tom Peters
- Daniel Pink
- Habitual Excellence
- Crime Junkie
- The Lean Startup
- Hack The Entrepreneur – podcast episode with Tracy Hazzard
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