Jeff Brown’s Read To Lead podcast has become one of the top sources for people interested in leadership, personal and professional development, and a way to get a peek inside the minds of some of today’s top business and innovation thinkers. With guests including Seth Godin, Simon Sinek, Gary Vaynerchuk, Chris Brogan and Liz Wiseman, Read To Lead presents world-class guests as they share insight from their work and exploration.
I’ve known Jeff to varying degrees for at least a decade and a half, including his work as a nationally syndicated morning show DJ and music radio programmer. So I was fascinated to learn more about his journey and transition from traditional broadcast media into the brave new world of podcasting. As with so many people who have found success in varying lines of work, there are great lessons to be learned about listening, about taking chances, and of course about the value of consistently executing and staying present.
I hope you’ll enjoy this Q&A, and by all means check out Jeff’s podcast.
Q: You come from a broadcast radio background, where you have to hit posts, watch the clock and generally keep to a tightly run format. Was starting a podcast, with few rules other than what you decide to make them, a difficult transition? What from your broadcast background helped you the most? Were there things you had to forget about or unlearn?
A: I found there were a number of things from my time in radio that were transferable to podcasting. Chief among them was understanding what it means to truly connect with an audience.
You’re right in that, technically, there are no “rules” when it comes to podcasting. I liken it though to writing a song. If you desire to make music people actually want to listen to, you’ll do well to follow the rules (i.e. key signatures, scales, time signatures, etc.).
Q: You’ve spoken with some amazing leaders, thinkers and influencers. Are there any common themes that you’ve seen come up with the majority? Have you ever had guests whose ideas really conflict with each other’s? Could you share about any of those?
A: One theme I’ve seen come up multiple times is the idea that most of us believe we’re underserving of success or not good enough to expect it in our lives. To that end, writing down goals and then tracking them and measuring your progress is a trait of 85% of wealthy people, according to a recent survey. Virtually every successful person I’ve interviewed does this.
Regarding the second part of your question: Recently, in back-to-back weeks, I welcomed the author of a book suggesting that traditional jobs are quickly becoming a thing of the past, followed by a guest who has written a book on the importance of hiring the right people.
I’m of the mindset that future generations need to ask “How can I create a job doing that?” instead of “How can I get a job doing that?”
Q: As a relatively new podcast, how were you able to get the guests you did early on? How difficult is it to reach the people you want to have on the show?
A: You’d be surprised what people will say when you give them the chance to talk about themselves.
At the outset, and still today, I leverage relationships built over time. Three of my first four invited guests were individuals I had forged offline & online relationships with. Then, when you come to your interviews well researched and prepared, your guests are much more likely to show a willingness to introduce you to their network.
Q: What lessons have you learned about developing a successful podcast? Are there key things that aspiring podcasters should know as they start? How do those lessons translate to other areas of life or work?
A: One lesson that is often under appreciated or overlooked, is the power of consistency; particularly, excellence with consistency over time. Most podcasts never make it past the first 7 to 10 episodes. Many other podcasts sound as if little if any thought went into them before the decision was made to hit the record button. If you’re willing to put a little effort into it, it’s probably safe to say you’re putting yourself in the top 10%.
I’m also careful to tell people not to let perfection turn them into a procrastinator. Perfection is a moving target you will never hit. However, I believe anything worth doing is worth doing well. And, while excellence won’t always guarantee your success, it will always precede it.
Q: How do you put together a show that people care about enough to come back time and again?
A: I believe it’s important to articulate why you do what you do at the outset of every show. As Simon Sinek is famous for saying, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
When articulated emphatically and from a place of relevance to your listener, you, in essence, draw a line in the sand daring your listener to cross it and go on this journey with you.
This communicates to your listener, without apology, who you are and what you stand for. This is the best way I know to keep people coming back again and again.
Q: Do you have a favorite episode thus far? Why is it your favorite?
A: This is like asking if I have a favorite child. 🙂 Seriously, I’d probably have to say episode #066 with Seth Godin. He’s one of my absolute favorite authors and getting him on the show was 16 months in the making.
His book Purple Cow had a huge influence on me and was the first of several books that renewed my love of reading at a time in my life when I hated to read.
Having him on a show where I get to practice my love of reading, something he personally impacted, was a real treat.