Podcasts: When The Missing Ingredient Is Soul.

If you want to start a podcast, the barriers to entry are low. Good equipment is cheap and there are plenty of smart, simple “how to” guides to get you and your organization in the game.

But what most experts and consultants won’t tell you is that to be successful, your podcast needs soul. You must say something real.

The medium’s intimacy and authenticity are keys to its success. That’s why your podcast has to be three dimensional— not like one of those old Hollywood film sets with nothing behind the nicely painted fronts of stores and houses.

Your host needs should be honest, hilarious or, at the very least, a brilliant faker.

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the hit show “Pod Save America”. But what the smart-ass uber-liberal hosts do have is soul. Their mission— delivered with passion and a dose of humor— is to save America from Trump and his fellow travelers by trashing anyone who doesn’t agree with their view of the world. You know where these guys are coming from.

Your podcast doesn’t have to come with a passionate or political point of view. But the hosts must believe what they say.

Millennials— the target audience for most podcasts— come with finely-tuned B.S. detectors. They know when they’re being duped or played.

Bragging or reminding your audience what makes you special simply won’t cut it. Deliver the goods, and do so with the minimum of fuss.

Unlike You Tube Channels, TV or even broadcast radio, podcasters don’t need bells and whistles to be successful. Most listeners start at the beginning and will stay with you for the entire show, especially if the episode is under 25 minutes.

From Dan Carlin’s “Hardcore History” to “Armchair Expert With Dax Shepard”, top-rated podcasters know that a simple interview format can work just as well as “The Daily”, “Invisibilia” and other intricately-produced programs.

Podcasts are wonderful ways to enhance your reputation as a thought leader or innovator. But when you open the mike, make sure you speak from the heart.

Richard Davies is a podcast host and consultant. His firm, DaviesContent, designs, produces, and edits podcasts for clients.

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We’re Going to Fail 99% of the Time. And That’s OK.

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“Data is the new black” gushed one speaker at Advertising Week, the just-completed annual gathering in New York for the advertising and marketing industry.

Thanks to great improvements in data research on customer behavior, “now we are not guessing,” said another.

The wow factors here this week were data, video and Virtual Reality.  With good reason.  The rapidly changing advertising industry is always on the hunt for the next big thing that will turn heads and make a splash.

But the marketplace is more crowded that ever. “We see disruption in so many markets,” Fiona Carter, Chief Brand Officer at AT&T told one well attended session.

“We have an on-demand culture,” said Alex Sutton, Global Director of Digital Acquisition at Avis Budget group. “The number of customers engaging our brands on mobile keeps increasing and increasing and increasing.”

Which is why – with all the talk about change, disruption and the surge in mobile – I was surprised not to hear a little more about podcasting and the other creative ways brands can use relevant content to go deeper when engaging their customers and followers (Full disclosure here: I am a podcaster).

People consume media very differently. We engage in a multiplicity of ways.  Just look at a row commuters in a New York subway train.  Many are playing games on their devices. Others are reading and some are listening.

For marketers the future is about creating different versions of your message and let the consumer choose.

Tens of millions of Americans decide to listen to podcasts each week. The median age is 30. According to Steve Goldstein at Amplifi Media, 68% of people aged 13-24 listen to some audio on their smartphone every day. Podcasting is no longer niche.

Perhaps my argument to the advertising industry is pay attention not only to “wow!” but to “ah ha.”  Podcasts are the intersection of ideas and emotion. They don’t show something. You, the listener, imagines it.

I really like what Ben Clarke, Chief Strategist of the marketing agency, The Shipyard has to say about disruption and creativity.

“Even if you try a thousand things and 995 don’t work, the five winners are better than not trying at all.”

“We’re going to fail at 99% of the things we do. Not only is that OK, it’s essential,” he says.

Richard Davies is a podcast consultant and co-host of the weekly solutions journalism show, “How Do We Fix It?” http://www.daviescontent.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 5 Things I Learned About Leaving a Job In Corporate America For a Brand New Startup.

    

It’s been just over a year since I left steady employment in corporate America, jumped off a cliff and launched a podcasting start-up. My work is now more exciting and purposeful, but at times I’ve been scared and uncertain about what to do next. 

There’ve been some painful mistakes that I don’t want others to make. So here are five things that I learned about making the switch: 

1.  Prepare, prepare, prepare. Do as much as you can before quitting your corporate job to get ready for the future. Talk to an accountant or financial advisor. Form an LLC. Speak to friends who run their own businesses.  Rehearse your new role and give yourself time to let the initial excitement wear off.  Your current job might be boring, but since becoming my own boss I have a greater appreciation for that old regular, steady paycheck. 

2. Once you’ve truly decided to make the move, tell all your close friends and family.  From time-to-time, they’ll ask  about your plans, making it harder for you to procrastinate or put your ambitions on hold.  As one friend told me: “Stop talking about your dreams. Pull the trigger.”

3. When you leave your job – especially if you’ve held it for a long time – be prepared for a psychological shock. Your  daily routines are in for a big change and so is your sense of identity.  The startup you’ve given birth to is this organic thing.  It will change you. Instead of being an employee you’re now an entrepreneur.  In my case it was longtime network correspondent becoming podcast startup guy. 

4. Don’t be a loner.  Have a “no bullshit” committee.  It could be your spouse or good friends. They will sound the alarm when you’re selling yourself short or getting in a rut. I know a guy who always gets his wife to negotiate prices on consulting gigs.  She understands his true worth.  He’s likely to underestimate his value and experience.

5. Remember that you gave up your day job to follow your passion.  Put yourself out there every day, calling and emailing new contacts.  Be good to people, especially to those you work with. Build a community around you. Stay true to your goals. But also know that you will make mistakes and be open to change. Unlike that big employer you’ve just left, you can turn on a dime once you’ve discovered the next big thing for your startup. 

Richard Davies is Director of DaviesContent, a New York based firm that makes podcasts for companies and non-profits. For 29 years he worked as a news correspondent at ABC News. Reach him at daviescontent@gmail.com.

Father’s Day Thoughts: Time to Celebrate and Say Thank-You to Our Kids 

  

When I was young I  had a hard time smiling for the camera.  Mug shots of me were awkward and uncomfortable.  

But that quickly changed when our daughter Kate was born 29 years ago.  It was as if a light bulb went on.  For some magical reason that I will never understand, now that I was a father it was much easier to smile at will. 

This was one of the countless gifts that my kids gave to me.

Fast forward to this year.  Now that Kate and her brother Harry have started their careers, I’ve had the chutzpah to re-launch mine.

After decades of a pretty rewarding job and a regular paycheck, I started an audio business, DaviesContent.  My kids are both working for themselves, and now I am to.

They’ve taught me about patience (something I don’t have much of), added to my rudimentary understanding of technology, and  helped me understand that if you’re going to have a chance of being successful at being your own boss, you have to be remarkably persistent.  That means seeing things through one project at a time, and one day at a time. 

Publicizing and launching our new weekly podcast show this month, How Do We Fix It? and finding an audience for it is a struggle.  The darned thing never goes away. I feel possessed!  But watching and learning from my kids has added to my confidence and determination that this will be a big success.

And I’m far from alone. Many other baby boomers are also launching grown-up startups.  They have the audacity to put themselves out there, re-discovering the passion that they had when they were young: doing something new, and perhaps making a difference.

Like me, many other fathers have watched their gutsy,determined adult children as they knock on doors and learn new tricks in a rapidly changing and uncertain job market.

We really can learn from them.

For me , Father’s Day is not just a celebration of Dads, it’s also a chance to reflect on what our children have brought to us.

Burger King’s Northern Exposure: Out of the Frying Pan Into the Fire?

gty burger king 2010 kb 140826 16x9 608 Controversy Erupts Over Burger Kings (BKW) Move

(Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

This blog is adapted from my ABCNews.com daily business blog

Burger King is facing a grilling from critics of U.S. companies that move overseas to cut their tax bills.

“I’ve eaten my last Whopper,” is among the many angry comments on Burger King’s Facebook page. That one received more than 1,000 “likes” at the company’s social media site.

BK announced on Tuesday that it would buy the popular Canadian coffee and doughnut chain Tim Hortons for more than $11 billion, and move the corporate headquarters of the combined firm to Canada, where corporate tax rates are lower than in the U.S.

Liberal Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, wants U.S. consumers to spend their burger dollars elsewhere .

Other Senate Democrats are calling for legislation to limit tax inversions by American companies that takeover foreign firms largely for fiscal reasons.

But the CEO of Burger King insists the deal is not about taxes. And there appear to be strong competitive reasons for this move.

While the fast-food giant is much better known and has many more franchises, Tim Hortons is the most profitable of the two. The merger could also heat up the company’s share of the fast-growing breakfast market and create the world’s third largest fast-food chain.

And besides, say BK boosters, why shouldn’t a firm look after the best interests of shareholders by lowering its tax burden?

Perhaps the move will also re-start the stalled debate over complex U.S. corporate taxes.

This is not merely about high American rates, with loopholes and write-offs for some businesses but not others. The controversy also involves global taxes.

“The U.S., unlike most developed-world governments, insists on taxing the global income of its citizens and corporations that have U.S. headquarters,” writes Megan McArdle of Bloomberg Businessweek. “Because the U.S. has some of the highest tax rates in the world, especially on corporate income, this amounts to demanding that everyone who got their start here owes us taxes, forever, on anything they earn abroad.”

Critics of these rules say the system is to blame for billions of dollars being parked off-shore by subsidiaries of U.S. firms.

The argument, they insist, is about more than businesses paying their fair share. It also involves Congress and whether it will act to reform the corporate tax code.

What Walmart & Amazon Could Teach Congress

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Mike Licht NotionsCapital.com

Quick question. What’s the biggest difference between our business and political leaders?

One group is intensely focused on getting things done, while the other keeps repeating the same old rhetoric. I’ll leave it up to you to decide who’s who!

I was struck by these starkly different mindsets when I came across two articles in the same paper.  One was about the political paralysis in DC over health care, while the other was on the steps Walmart is taking to fight back against Amazon.

First to business.  Both these companies are corporate big dogs,  dominant on their own turf.  Walmart is the leading brick-and-mortar retailer.  Amazon is king of the internet jungle.

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A growing problem for Walmart is that not only are shoppers increasingly turning away from physical stores and spending more instead on e-commerce,  Amazon is also encroaching on traditional store turf, going local with new distribution centers across the country to speed-up delivery of online purchases.

Walmart is “frantically playing catchup” by learning the technology business.

Far from its sprawling company campus in Bentonville, Arkansas, the giant retailer has set-up @WalmartLabs in Silicon Valley.  It’s spending big money on new online headquarters to attract A-list programmers and engineers so that Walmart can successfully compete with Amazon by building a better website.

Contrast this bid for reinvention, improvement and a change in culture with the stale debate among our political leaders over Obamacare.

In what was obviously a futile attempt right from the start, House Republicans voted 40 times to repeal the law.  40 separate times!

At the White House the focus until very recently was much more on the politics of health care than on the nuts and bolts of delivering a first-class website for the new federal marketplace opened October 1st.  President Obama and his aides are paying dearly for that now.

In an illuminating op-ed for the New York Times, economics professor Tyler Cowen suggested that what both sides in the Obamacare debate should be talking about is the delivery of a better system that saves money and delivers coverage to many more people.

“One of the few things Democrats and Republicans agree on is that the law is imperfect at best,” writes Cowen.  Improvements are in reach if they could swallow some pride.  “Both sides have a lot to gain, and at some point, they should realize it.”

You don’t have to agree with Cowen’s argument for moving millions of low income families  from Medicaid to Obamacare to applaud the spirit of his ideas.  At least he is seriously examining how the government delivers services to the people at a cost that taxpayers can afford.

Whether you like them or loathe them, believe that they are can-do capitalists or heartless overpaid plutocrats, that spirit of problem solving is at least something that America’s captains of industry understand.  It’s a lesson more politicians should learn.

 

 

 

 

 

London: I Changed My Mind

London and Cranes by against the tide
London and Cranes, a photo by against the tide on Flickr.

London is a city of cranes, and it has really changed my mind about how I think about this great old city.

You see cranes and new buildings all over the place, from a huge new development that’s going up near Victoria Station to many smaller new building sites around the formerly depressed neighborhoods of Shoreditch and Old Street.

After years of falling behind the US there is a sense of vitality that was sorely missing in the 1970’s and early 80’s when I lived here.

One new train system, the London Overground is up and running, and another huge project, connecting east and west London is well on the way.

After years of struggle following the 2008 financial crisis, the British economic growth was recently upgraded by the IMF.

Has the mood of the country changed to match the growing evidence of prosperity and pride in public works? Not exactly. And as anyone from other parts of the country will remind you, the boom is more of a London thing than nationwide.

But there is a sense of possibility.  And the co-alition government established by Conservatives and Liberals in  2010 has held together surprisingly well.  It’s a model for political co-operation, unlike the gridlock and dysfunction in Washington.

What’s ironic is that today’s US political scene reminds me of the rigid ideological orthodoxy of the Labor and Conservative Parties in the 70’s: the very time when Britain was being derided as the sick man of Europe.