“Why podcast? I enjoy deeper stories. I have podcast conversations the same way I have a dinner conversation with someone. I go deep and try to understand the real story. To me, this is additional hangout time with people I want to hang out with. I relax and feel better, so I don't look at this as part of my workday.” Jeremy AuIn this episode of BRAVE, Jeremy Au talks about the benefits of podcasting in his personal and professional life, the learnings he had about podcast production, having a sustainable operation, and monetization constraints.
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Jeremy Au: (01:35)
Hey, another day, another question. So excited for this. What do you have for me, Adriel?
Adriel Yong: (01:42)
Yeah. So today's listener question and answer are from a best-selling author and he's interested to find out more about your podcast process learnings, and also what you personally find rewarding about this whole entire journey as a podcast host and creator. So the first question is really what have been the biggest benefits personally for you from this podcast? Do you think it has been worth the journey so far for the last two years?
Jeremy Au: (02:11)
Yeah, I think it was worth it for me. I started this frankly during the pandemic, which was the peak period for podcast creation. And since then, post-pandemic recovery apparently is tanked and nobody wants to make a new podcast, but personally, I think it's been worth it for me. And I want to caveat to say that it may not be worth it for everyone.
For me, what has been really helpful is that it's a great reason to meet cool people at a deeper level. What I mean by that is I often meet lots of interesting folks and I want to hear the deeper story. And I then reconnect with them and say, I would love to go for our second, third, fourth conversation, and have that be a podcast. And I use that time to go really deep into the conversation. And I think it's just nice to hear a deeper side of it that may not necessarily come out in that natural conversation at dinner or at some random mixer. So I think there's a very nice way to meet deep folks. Another thing of course that's helpful is that there's a certain aspect where, you know, I feel like I get to share that knowledge a little bit more widely, so I think one thing I remember, and the reason why I started for this was I felt like I wanted a way to be able to answer questions, but not necessarily keep answering them all the time, because I just didn't have enough time to meet everybody who wanted to meet me, right? So being able to answer, for example, this Q&A, but then record it and just answer in a much longer format than I would normally have had in a very compressed time, but be much more intentional about it and then hopefully be able to send this episode or this learning to many other folks.
So there's that interesting knowledge-sharing approach that I find very personally satisfying. I love teaching, I love coaching. And so this is just another way, the format of recording that content and letting it be, you know, consume asynchronously. You know, I mean, I'm a big consumer of YouTube videos and podcasts, and online courses and audio books myself, right? And I really enjoy the fact that I can be listening and learning, for example, while I'm like walking to meet someone or while I'm preparing to go to bed. This is a nice way to kind of like have that mind space. So there's a very deep satisfaction from being able to share knowledge. The third thing that has been helpful is I find that I don't think that folks necessarily reach out to me more upfront because they don't discover me because of the podcast, but if they do get to know me and then they find out that I have a podcast, I find that perhaps that folks feel like they get to know me earlier, and they tend to know what to expect from me.
So what I mean by that is maybe they may have actually heard an episode after. They may have met me once, then they listen to an episode or they read the transcript and they kind of get a sense of it. And then what happens is that then the second or third meeting that we have, they tend to be much deeper and the conversation tends to be accelerated, I think, by one boun because they already know what to expect from me. So that's actually an interesting shadow side of it is that sometimes I'm talking to people who they, you know, they're very familiar with me and so they talk to me in a very familiar way, and I don't know them right? I mean, I know them in a very shallow way.
And so, you know, for them they want to go into a very deep conversation very fast. But for me, I'm actually still in the asymmetric mode where I'm getting to know them. I'm becoming friendly with them, I'm warming up to them. And for them, they're already like, way past that, they're like, oh, I like you and I like the thing.I want to just go straight into it. And so there's a little bit of a speed difference, right? That happens. And so I often had to reset the conversation a little bit and just be like, okay, I'd like to know about you actually tell me more about yourself. And so, that's that conversation. And then I think lastly, one thing of course, is that people do value that moderator and subject matter expert side of it. And so I've noticed that quite a few folks, when they're looking for moderators or sometimes they're looking for a panel speaker who has demonstrated that are going to be friendly and be helpful in that panel side-to-side conversation, then they tend to have evaluated honestly, right? My capabilities to listen and moderate, and be helpful by listening to a podcast or watching very quickly or watching a snippet. And so as a result, I have noticed that I've gotten some speaking opportunities because of the fact that I feel comfortable with the podcast. So those are the benefits that I've personally noticed, for myself.
Adriel Yong: (06:43)
So the next question after that is of course, now that starting a podcast has been established as great, rewarding, both personally and professionally, how do you actually run the sustainable operation? And you know, I've met so many podcast creators and hosts who have told me that, hey, you know, they started it during the pandemic, but they realize it's just so unsustainable and a massive time sync. And this listener's really just curious about your system for scheduling, planning, scripting, marketing, distributing, and even monetizing podcasts. So yeah, could you just give us some more insight on that entire like piece?
Jeremy Au: (07:25)
Yeah. At the end of the day, the truth in the matter is that the appeal of podcasts is that it's easy to produce, right? And I think Seth Gordon actually wrote a great blog. He said, many people have writer's block, but nobody has speakers block. And so I think the fundamental appeal of a podcast is that you can have a discussion and people have that natural conversation going. And it makes it easy to produce content because you're having conversations. It's like you and I have a conversation, right? And, you know, we discuss it and we can debate and so, so forth. So that's really the appeal for so many folks to create a podcast because it's an outlet to speak and it's so easy to do, initially. The tricky part that comes up afterward is taking the other view, right? which is okay, you know, it's easy to produce, but is it actually easy or pleasurable to consume, right? And so what that means is that folks may want to consume that content because you have a bad mic or someone is coughing or there's, you know, a dog barking in the background, so those things make it unpleasant to consume. For example, the audio or, you know, I don't have time to understand this audio, so I would like to read it or maybe I really like it and I want to see the body language, I want to watch it, I want to see the video, right? Or I may want to see an in-depth analysis version of this thing. So, the tricky part is that the listener or the consumer wants to consume across multiple different formats.
They want a high-quality product on average because the competition is audiobooks and professional YouTubers and so, so forth. And then lastly of course is that you know, they want to consume it across all the different formats, right? They may want to consume it on Twitch or TikTok or LinkedIn. So there are all these other channels they want to consume it on.
So there's a big gap between the production, which is super easy, but the consumption requirements in terms of the diversity, but also the quality trying to hit for makes it, makes this intermediate system really important, right? So how you schedule, how you plan, how you script, how you market, how you distribute, how you monetize like that intermediate step is really the crux of it. And the truth of the matter, I would say, is that. The system can be really simple if all you want to do is produce and you're comfortable with the consumer just consuming the content the way it is. And what I mean by that is that, let's just say that you are recording. I'm just giving an example, like something really simple. You are recording, I'll give you an example would be like, you know, you are recording a podcast, with your grandmother, right? And you're just discussing childhood stories, right? About what it was like to grow up in the hometown and the village, et cetera. The truth is you're recording for yourself and maybe you're recording for your children or your descendants and you're not too worried about there being a ton of people out there, right?
So in that case, you know the way that you'll schedule is you set up a time you take the conversation, you take it free flowing, and then you don't really edit it at all. And then you save this audio and then, you trust that in, 10 years or 20 years' time, this is a great audio time capsule, right? For future generations and you're not too fast about there being a large audience. So I think the tricky part for a lot of folks is that you know, most people are not producing that way or they're not talking about a topic that this, they're so interested in. That they're willing to just take the loss on the consumption side and just do it.
So that's what makes podcasts out there. I know, and you know, they're doing like, you know, Dungeons and Dragons. They're just playing computer games with their friends or even Twitch streamers. They don't really care about the content. They just want to Twitch. They want a live stream. They won't like to show off the few friends that they care about.
And so, They don't have very high system requirements versus those who are really trying to make this a job or try this to make this a key component of their personal brand. And they're actually having to do a lot more right to get that across that gap between the production and the consumption side.
I'm somewhere in the middle personally. And what I mean by that is personally, you know, fundamentally I do this because it's fun. I do it because I really enjoy deeper stories and I think Adriel and a whole lot of folks know that the way I have a conversation and podcasts is pretty much the same way I have a dinner conversation with someone anyway. So, I'm going deep into a conversation. I'm trying to understand a real story, like this is how I naturally like to hang out, and so I'm just, to me, a podcast is this additional hangout time with people that I want to hang out with, right?
And so, I actually enjoy it really enough. And so I don't really face a problem in terms of production, in terms of creating content in that sense, but also I'm able to create in a way that's very simple. So let me give you an example, right? In terms of scheduling, I block off regular hours, the outer weekends, or the early evening hours. Those are after work. And I don't feel like it's a problem because it's fun. This is a hobby for me. I actually get relaxed and I actually feel better when I do a podcast. So I don't look at it as part of my workday, which is good, obviously, you know, my bosses are happy and I don't, not doing it part of the workday.
I'm actually working harder for them by doing extra time. But to me, it's fine. This is a hobby I enjoy. It is actually a nice way to unwind over the weekend because I enjoy the topic. I enjoy the people I'm talking to, In terms of planning, I'm talking to people who I've generally already met or heard good things about, so I already know I'll enjoy the conversation and I also know that because I enjoy the conversation, I know naturally that the listener will also enjoy the conversation as well. Right? You know, the converse of that of course is that if I know I'm got to hate a conversation, I should definitely not do the conversation because there's no way I can lie in my tone or voice, such as a listener thinks that I'm enjoying it, you know, that's not authentic. It doesn't come across well. So, my terms of planning, I just talk to people who I'm naturally interested in. For the question about scripting, the answer, as a result, is that I don't have the script because I actually enjoy the conversation. I know I'm got to look forward to it, so I don't have to script. Where I do tend to see that is I tend to lean on my, I also have another hobby of mine, which is improvisational comedy. They also call it improv. But basically, the art of creating comedy with people live on the scene without any script, right? And so I use a lot of the same principles that I would normally do in terms of the conversation.
I tend to follow my curiosity. So in other words, you know what, if I'm curious about it, I am experienced, and very interested podcast listener to other podcasts and audiobooks. So, you know, sometimes when I'm listening to a book or something, I get curious about something, right? And, getting a great book kind of follows that natural curiosity. So when I'm listening to a podcast guest, I kind of follow my curiosity, right? Because I'm following my natural instinct as a listener. Because I'm paying attention, I follow that curiosity, right? And, you know, it's debatable, but generally, the curiosity is I think a very good signal, and it's a great attitude, honestly, to have for most podcast hosts.
Second, of course is there's a phrase in nonprofit, call it top of your intelligence, but what it means is that, have that understanding that, they're an expert and you're an expert and have that expert-to-expert conversation, right? You're the best person to talk to this person at this moment.So just be comfortable with that. And don't try to simplify things. Don't try to do things down, and don't try to assume that your audience doesn't get it. Just, just really get into it. And I think now we are saying is that I often tell myself cause we have a transcript and everything down the road is that if folks don't understand it, at one level, the good thing is they now know something that they didn't know. That they didn't know it, and now they know they don't know it. So in other words, they learn what they don't understand. And two, of course, there's Google and so many resources on the internet, right? So if you're talking about carried interest or something, there's a technical term, you know?
Yeah. It's tough and it's tough to follow at that moment, but I trust that they'll be able to google this, pause the podcast and Google the term, and then get up to speed and then continue the podcast the same way I would do it. I think the other question was really about production. The truth of the matter is that for myself, I used to edit it and after that, just Adriel and I and a whole bunch of folks were editing it.
And I think there are a lot of good tools out there that make it much easier to edit. But the truth is that you can now pay audio editors to also handle this audio editing because, you know, these audio editing tools are getting cheaper and cheaper and they're getting more and more powerful. So the cost of audio editing and the production of these episodes are actually getting cheaper and cheaper over time as well.
So I think it's getting to the point now where honestly like, you know, again, it kind of goes back to the in an early Q&A, we talk about, you know, the mechanization of it, right? You know, the lowering, dropping price of it is the price has dropped to the point now that, you can outsource this production piece to a lot of folks. I find it quite rare for someone who is a great content creator to also be a great editor, right? Because those are two different mindsets. One is creating, one is editing, right? So those are two different mindsets. In terms of marketing and distribution, the truth of the matter is that audiograms are out, and videograms are in. In other words, like short-form reels that look like TikTok or Instagram reels are really important these days. That's how people expect it. So, I think creating those and then releasing them across as many formats as possible and letting the algorithms take it to different places. So the truth is, if you make good content, then algorithms will realize that it is good content and then eventually put it to the right people.
So I think it's really about dispersing it across many channels as possible and letting the algorithms do it. Lastly, for monetization, the truth is, I don't do a good job on this yet. I do it again primarily as a hobby I'm really interested in. And so to some extent, that's kind of like a handicap cause I'm not thinking actively, I enjoy it too much. So I don't tell myself, okay, I need to make this at A, B, C. That being said, of course, you know, it doesn't hurt. That is obviously synergistic for my career because I'm talking about topics I love, which also happen to be topics I love enough to make this my job in tech and Southeast Asia and coaching.
So, you know, this Venn diagram of core interest makes it easy for me to do so, and it does help reinforce that external perception of me of it. But, it lets me actually have that intrinsic motivation of learning about those interests further, right? So there's a nice flywheel from a personal and a mastery perspective, and I think, frankly, monetization is always hard for this type of content because it's a small audience and it's an expert audience. So anyway, I, you know, I think if it, trying to create a podcast to monetize. I think there are a lot of easier ways to make money in the world. I think really you create a podcast because you're talking about a topic that you really love.
And I, I had this great coaching session by, you know, the founder of Radiolab, obviously they've done some great podcasts, right? And he's like, Jeremy, you got to create a podcast about a topic that makes you so, you know, on fire. And I was like, wow, what a phrase! But he's like, yeah, you need to do a topic that you just can't shut up about that. You know you're going, I'm not getting paid. Maybe it's just 10 people in the room listening to you, or a hundred people, or whatever it is. But even though it's nobody's listening, You really enjoy it. Right? And then if you really enjoy it, the good news is that actually you probably get more than 10 people, a hundred people or a thousand people who will listen to it.
But you just have to talk about a topic they really like, right? And so at the end of the day, like, if you want to do a podcast, definitely don't do it for monetization. Do it because it's a topic you really love and you really want to explore deeply. And then the system is done in a way to make it as lightweight as possible so they can continue the podcast as long as possible without burning out.
Adriel Yong: (19:19)
Yeah. That was such a good insight into different parts of, you know, systemizing the entire podcast missionary, which is, I guess, probably really helpful for the aspiring podcast creator or someone looking to take their podcast to the next level. Yeah, thanks so much for sharing your insights on podcasting, whether it's the personal rewards, or professional rewards, but also you know, how you have systemized it over time, Jeremy.