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Oh No, He Started A Podcast
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About a year ago, I floated the idea of a podcast to a couple of my family and friends. I said “I love talking to people about what they do for work, what if I just created a podcast around that?” One family member said “that sounds boring.” One of my buddies responded “is that really what you want to spend time on?” And then at a group dinner, three times I mentioned it and three times my friends all pretended I hadn’t said anything and continued the previous line of conversation.
Colby Howard Wants Your Job
Yet a year later, here we are, three episodes into Colby Howard Wants Your Job, the podcast where, yes, I literally sit people down and talk to them about what the hell they do with their day. Because, if we’re being honest, your friend who’s a lawyer… do you actually know what they do when they go into the office? I sure don’t.
I find that odd. Alongside sleeping, work is where we spend most of our lives. Yet if we look into all those windows of all those buildings on all those streets, we know so little about how any of us is spending our hours. When I lived in L.A., it was uncouth to talk about work (most likely because all my acting friends couldn’t get a job). Fortunately, I live in New York City, where work is work, work is life, work is social, work is identity. This fits my specific curiosity perfectly.
No One Needs Another Podcast: SOLVED
Now let’s quickly address the collective groan I heard when you all read the headline of this post. Yes, in this world overflowing with content, I have thrown yet another voice into the ring. No, I am not a celebrity or athlete that has juicy behind the scenes stories about working with Martin Scorsese or Simone Biles. But, hear me out, I think I’ve got something here that could lead to longevity and some sort of success.
While choosing the title “Colby Howard Wants Your Job” is inherently self-promotional and self-serving, I am not actually the star of the show. This means you don’t have to love me to love the podcast. My job is to make each of my guests the star, to take regular people doing regular jobs and allow them to shine. Each listener, me included, then has the opportunity to walk away knowing a bit more about how the world works. If I’m a bad interviewer this all falls apart, so we’ll see.
The topic itself is both a blessing and a curse. Done poorly it will be dry as aged dust; done well it could be a topic with hundreds of jobs to explore and thus unending possibility. Most podcasts die of exhaustion before getting to episode ten, so knowing that I can interview literally anyone is a nice comfort. Of course, trying to convince and schedule people is certainly more work than if I chose to just monologue at a camera for 30 minutes and call it an episode, but I’m hoping that success - whatever that means - will be more forthcoming if there is substance and education packed into each.
Illuminating each job also means that each episode could potentially be evergreen - reacting to George Santos claiming to be a volleyball star at a college he didn’t attend feels more tied to the time it happened than an interview with a white collar criminal defense lawyer walking through how he navigates the US judicial system. I could watch the latter a year after it was published and feel just as satisfied.
As for the risks, there are two that stand out
What if the guest is boring?
What if people don’t want to come on because no one’s trying to get fired?
As for number one, I’ve filmed seven of these already and only one guest had any experience in front of a camera. All seven turned out to be fascinating. It’s on me to ask good questions, it’s on me to prepare, and it’s on them to wonder out loud how I know so little. Most guests have voiced concerns about coming off as boring, to which the answer is easy: what is obvious and mundane to them is interesting to everyone else. They do it every day; we’ve never done it.
As for people getting fired, yeah, that would be a real problem if every one of my guests got canned for saying things on the podcast. But again, everything I’m doing is designed to make them a star. They can speak freely and I just edit out anything that wouldn’t be viewed positively by anyone in the outside world. The point isn’t to uncover every illicit workplace romance, the point is to expand our horizons just a little bit more. So far, the proof is in the pudding. The top white collar criminal law firm posted my interview with Josh on their website. Guess it was positive…
The Point Where I Reflect
I said this wasn’t about me, but the amount I’ve learned already - not only from the guests but also the process of getting this off the ground - has been extremely gratifying. In each interview, there have been at least three separate points where I think “am I bad at this? Quick ask a new question! Oh no this is the episode where it all falls apart.” Inevitably I look at the footage afterwards, see that there were numerous great moments, and then edit it into a 35-45 minute chunk of content that everyone will enjoy.
Even better, I’m at the beginning of this journey so there are so many easy things to get better at. At first my chair resembled a Cuisinart with all my nervous swiveling. Then I overcorrected in some posed form of insinuated relaxation. Then I found a happy medium. At first I didn’t prepare at all, then I overprepared, and now I’m tinkering with having some consistent set of prepared questions. At first it took me five hours on a Sunday to merely edit my first episode. Now it takes me only ~3 hours a week to do everything from interview, edit, and prepare the highlights for social media.
Above all, the dumber I’m willing to seem, the better the episode is. To quote my first episode guest, Clay Skipper:
I’ve found that interviewing people is about getting over your own insecurity.
I love that I’ll continually get better.
The Next Episode, The Next Job
So far I’ve interviewed a:
Journalist for GQ
White Collar Criminal Defense Lawyer
Cattle Ranch Manager
Executive Search Recruiter
Private Equity VP
Have someone who would be great to interview? Let me know!
And in the meantime, take a listen, if you enjoy it, share with your friends! Listen on Spotify or watch it on YouTube. Can’t wait to hear your feedback.