JE008: consume, contribute, create // how founders, VCs, and community builders should podcast

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Jay Clouse 0:00
Hello, hello. Hello, and welcome to the upside podcast. The first podcast finding upside outside of Silicon Valley. I’m Jay Clouse, and I’m accompanied by my co host, Mr. sauna thoughts himself, Eric Hornung.

Eric Hornung 0:40
Oh, man, Jay, I love the sauna. There are two places in the world that I am completely without distraction. The sauna when I’m alone, and even when there’s people in there as long as they’re not talking, and the shower. The shower is like a rushed experience. You know, I have to get out of there because I have things to do the sauna. I have have a solid 15 or 30 minutes, used to be able to 45 but you can’t get away with that anymore. Because you know, you got life, life going on, to just sit and think and not have a phone and not have anything and after a workout. So I’ve been thinking the whole workout as well, usually listening to a podcast, and I love the sauna. It’s where I come with my clearest thoughts. Aren’t you supposed to not sit in a sauna for more than like, 12 minutes? I don’t think that’s a rule. I used to sit in the sauna for like an hour and in college. Just, you know, sweat it out. used to do some never was the guy who did abs in the sauna when other people were there. But when other people weren’t there, do some ABS doodle jump roping in the sauna. That was always good.

Jay Clouse 1:45
Sounds miserable an hour in there?

Eric Hornung 1:47
Mmhmm. I mean, you come out every 15 minutes to refill your water bottle because you know you don’t want to. You want to get dehydrated. That would be that’d be bad.

Jay Clouse 1:55
Okay, okay. So you’re actually hydrating while being dehydrated. And you’re doing it in multiple trips. You know, doing an hour straight. You’re stepping out every 15 minutes.

Eric Hornung 2:02
Every 15 minutes or so. Yeah, it takes me about 15 minutes drink 32 ounces of water.

Jay Clouse 2:07
That makes more sense. I’m less than impressed then.

Eric Hornung 2:09

Jay Clouse 2:10
Well, today, Eric, you mentioned that you listen to podcasts in the sauna. We have a little bit of a stretch of podcast related episodes here coming up on upside. And we thought this was a good opportunity for us to dive deeper into a subject that is very near and dear to us, podcasting,

Eric Hornung 2:27
it’s emerging. People want to know what it is people want to know. Hey, how do I get involved? Do I start a podcast? Do I just listen to podcast? Do I be on a podcast? How do I do all of those things? I think we have a little bit of insight here that people might not have that aren’t us.

Jay Clouse 2:47
Yes, we are the podcasting experts.

Eric Hornung 2:49
No, no, we’re not the podcasting experts. We just at the intersection of entrepreneurship and podcasting, we have a unique lens in to what podcasting can do specifically for founders who are under appreciated in the media, you’re not from Silicon Valley, you’re not from New York, you haven’t raised a Series B, C, D, so no one’s really talking about you. Maybe you’re from a community that feels the same way or a venture firm that feels the same way. So we kind of sit at that intersection of this industry that is media intensive, and is all about attention. And this space that is kind of starved for media.

Jay Clouse 3:30
Yeah. And we get probably, you know, a dozen pitches per week of different companies that want to be on the show, if not more. We’ve been creating this for over a year now. So we thought this would be an opportunity for us to share with you how we recommend consuming podcasts contributing to podcast as guests. And if it makes sense, creating podcasts as well. So Eric, you have consumed more podcasts? And I have, I believe, so. How do you think about which podcasts you listen to and how you listen to them?

Eric Hornung 4:03
I guess I have a general thesis that for interviews, podcasts specifically. And I think we will refer to mostly interview podcasts throughout this segment.

Jay Clouse 4:15
If we’re taking the lens of somebody who’s listening to podcast, productively, to leverage to become smarter, or to help with whatever venture that they’re doing, not for pure entertainment.

Eric Hornung 4:27
Right. So it’s a mix of entertainment and education, or maybe more towards education. If you’re going that route, I would recommend finding podcasts that are within their first 150 episodes. And starting in episode one. I know that sounds kind of crazy, but what you’ll find is that generally, the host to guest dynamic evolves every 50 episodes. So in the first 50 episodes, the guests generally won’t be that polished. And that’s okay, I love the authentic and the rawness that you get from an early podcast, the host is still learning, the guests don’t have as much opportunity to be on other podcasts. So they are raw as well. In the second 50 episodes, you’ll generally find that the guests are much better, they have been vetted better, maybe the host processes have gotten better for vetting guests, maybe they just gotten bigger so they can get better guests. And the host now seems almost undersized compared to the guests. And then in the third 50 episodes, you’ll find that the host really kind of hits his or her stride. And this is a thesis I have around how podcast develop. And I think if you listen to podcasts in that way, you almost grow with the host as you walk through their journey. So there’s this authenticity that happens in podcasts because people aren’t correcting themselves. But there’s also this relationship that gets built over the first hundred and 50 episodes.

Jay Clouse 6:00
Something else that you taught me, Eric, that should be obvious in wasn’t to me, when listening to podcasts using an app, and Apple podcasters. To do this, almost all apps that you do this, listening at a faster speed than one x lets you get through things so much faster. And a lot of really great shows are longer than your typical 30 minute NPR produced podcast. But you don’t have to listen for 90 minutes to consume a 90 minute show, you can listen at one and a half, two times speed. I think you’ve even list of the things that three times speed, which I think is bananas, but you can listen through and in get through a lot more shows quickly than you may think.

Eric Hornung 6:41
Yeah, don’t let the time be a deterrent. For starting a new podcast. If it’s a two hour show or something.

Jay Clouse 6:48
There are almost 700,000 shows on iTunes to listen to. So obviously, more shows than you’ll ever consume. Selecting which shows is not a trivial matter. podcast discovery is not great. So Eric, how do you find which shows you actually listened to and what shows you go back to that episode one and start bingeing through.

Eric Hornung 7:09
So discovery’s definitely broken, it’s very hard to find great podcasts, what I would do is first think about what you want to learn and what your priorities are. So I think, as a founder, you probably want to learn one to two skills that you don’t have, I would go and find probably via Google and blogs, what the best shows on that topic are. So if it’s raising around, if it’s whatever, there’s going to be a few episodes that exists on that topic on some of the top podcasts, go find those, they’re going to reference other people, I can almost guarantee it, they might even have another guest on who hosts a podcast specifically on that topic, then go to that person’s podcast started episode one, and go through that. Because a lot of times what will happen and this is I found a lot of podcasts I listened to his you’ll find one really highly ranking podcasts that has amazing guests on and when they have amazing guests on on a variety of topics. Those guests often if they didn’t, at the time will have started their own podcast by now. So by going back to episode one and listening through and finding some of those earlier guests, you’ll find new podcasts that are now in their 90th hundred hundred and 10 episodes that you can go back and kind of grow with them. Or you might get lucky like I did with the investors podcast when I found med Faber and started on episode one day one.

Jay Clouse 8:34
Yeah, it seems like in the podcasting game, you want to find more of the diamond in the rough. So they said my experience, things that I enjoy and seem to get the most out of you want to find some of these shows that are not necessarily yet in the top 200. Because they almost feel saturated, so not quite the right word. But there is better, more scarce information in earlier podcasts that aren’t in the top 200 yet that aren’t serving the widest audience that’s out there. And as someone who’s trying to leverage podcast as a medium to learn and think differently, I think you want to find those more niche shows than just spending your time listening to the Tim Ferrisses of the world.

Eric Hornung 9:15
And I think another reason that you want to do that is because one thing you will notice when you start listening to a lot of podcasts that are in the same space, or you may have already noticed is that the same guests go on the same podcasts. So right now, as we’re recording this, any Duke is on almost every finance podcast, because she just launched a new book. She’s amazing. I am a huge fan. But I’m no longer going out and listening to podcasts. For any Duke, I’m going to hear what different questions are asked. And quite frankly, I’ve skipped a couple of my favorite podcasts because she’s been on so many of them. And I think what you’ll find, when you go off of that top 200 for any given category is less of that overlap. One way to do the off 200 brand really well is go by geography. So a lot of people who listen, this podcast our founders, our community, community builders, or our venture capitalists, there are localized shows in every geography that you want to invest in. So if you want to learn about what’s going on in Minneapolis, go find some of the podcasts that are talking about what’s going on in Minneapolis startup scene, they might do once a month as opposed to once a week. But those are going to be great shows.

Jay Clouse 10:32
So that’s the way that you can access podcasts, the easiest consuming them as a listener, let’s move up the spectrum to more of an investment of effort and look at contributing to podcasts or being on podcasts as a guest, Eric and I receive pitches every week for people pitching us to be on the show. And some of those have been successful. We’ve had guests on the show who sent us an email saying hey, here’s your who I am and why I think I’m a fit for your show. And we’ve said yep, I agree come on the show. And when that happens, we’re grateful for it. Because we want great guests that fit what our show is doing. However, I would say the majority of pitches, and maybe even vast majority of pitches are off the mark. So if you’re looking to leverage podcast as a founder, or as somebody who has a message you want to spread, it’s important to be thoughtful and understand what the host is looking for. If you’re going to contribute to a show.

Eric Hornung 11:31
I think if you are a founder, a community builder or a venture capitalist, and you want to be on a podcast for which you do not know, the hosts personally, it is almost always going to be worth it unless you have one podcast that you want to hit and just really try to get on is almost always going to be worth it to have someone or hire someone, or find someone who can put in the time to do some research on what your organization is, what the podcast is, and write a really, really good email or get a warm introduction. That’s also a good loop around.

Jay Clouse 12:06
Yeah, it’s it’s not rocket science. And I think where a lot of the failures that Eric and I see as hosts come from, is the fact that a lot of pitches just seem to be sort of Hail Marys, they’re like I’m trying to get placed on any show that I can attend the business category or in the investment category, can I come on and it’s not aligned or doesn’t even show us why they think it is aligned to be a guest on the show. So do your homework, listen to their format of their episodes, understand, okay, if it’s an interview show, explain why what you can talk about is aligned with the types of stories they try to pull out through an interview. It has a very specific format and make sure you reference that format and say this is why a conversation with you could fit that format. If it’s serving a particular audience or serving a particular demographic say why your story is fitting that demographic, a lot of times we get paid is from pretty awesome people super successful, highly accomplished people saying, Do you want the opportunity to interview this person. And personally, I would love to meet that person. But it’s not a fit for our show. We talked to pre series A founders predominantly or investors that are investing in those companies outside of Silicon Valley. And if you’re not showing me why you’re a fit for that format, or why you would be worth having on the show outside of that format, you’re not going to get on the show.

Eric Hornung 13:30
Jay, being on a show. What is what is the benefit for me, if I want to be on any podcast? Why is that important? Does that really matter?

Jay Clouse 13:40
The funny thing about that is the biggest benefit to being on a show in my opinion, is that you may not know what the benefit is yet. And I say that to say the world has so much opportunity. And there’s so many people who may be listening to show and you have no idea if they’re listening to the show. But if your message resonates with them, it could unlock some awesome opportunity coming conversation partnership relationship that you weren’t expecting and wouldn’t even have known to look for. So shortest answer is being on a podcast gives others access to your message gives you the ability to share the message that you’re trying to spread to talk about something you care about. And do it in a matter that is not one to one getting in front of a lot of people all at once. People who are not already in your sphere of influence. And doing it in a way that is pretty raw and uncut, is very accessible. You know, where it might be difficult to get somebody to take the time to read a 500 word post that you put on LinkedIn, if they’re listening to podcasts, which have a very high rate of engagement, that’s a huge opportunity for you to say a lot and get a lot of information in front of somebody that normally wouldn’t give that kind of time and attention to your message. And one last thing I’ll say about contributing to a podcast, whether you’re on the show or not, there are ways that you can contribute to a show to start forming a relationship with that show, before or after you’ve been on there. It’s incredible to me how easy it is to support the shows that you listen to and help make a difference for that show. And how little people do it.

Access to a lot of these hosts is easier than you would think Eric and I are no more than a tweet or email away. We read it for every email, we read every tweet, respond to all of them. Super easy to get ahold of us. Similarly, personal story. I listened to tropical NBA and used to listen to it even more frequently than I do. Now. I wanted to be on the show, they had an episode talking about how to pitch to be on tropical MBA similar to what we’re doing right now. I listened to that I sent them an email that was following those instructions. It got to their producer, she said this sounds like a good story. They scheduled on an episode and I was on tropical MBA, not difficult. And now when something happens, that is sort of a follow up to that episode, I’ll send them an email, I’ll update them all support their show by sharing it with people and retweeting some of their some of their tweets, very easy to contribute and build a relationship through not a lot of effort.

Eric Hornung 16:11
And as hosts, specifically as early host, which is kind of why I mentioned consuming earlier podcasts, you notice who interacts with you. We listed in an earlier episode, I think 30 or so people that interact with us regularly, whether it’s via email or Twitter. And just because that person seems big compared to you, or they have 150,000 downloads, they notice when you’re active, and then when they’re when you’re thoughtful, and when you are commenting or tweeting or engaging with them.

Jay Clouse 16:42
Speaking of us being hosts here, Eric, let’s talk about the highest investment of time and energy as it relates to podcasting. And that is creating, producing, hosting a show yourself.

Eric Hornung 16:54
I think there are two sides of why you create a show. Well, you’re an individual without a brand, or you have a brand, but that’s like sidecar and you want to create a podcast as your thing. Like that is going to be your thing, things are going to fall underneath it. Or you have another thing that’s not related to the podcast and the podcast direction at all, then there’s probably the majority of our listeners who are doing something that they want to do that they like to do. They are starting a company which has a brand, they run a VC firm, which has a brand, they support it ecosystem, which has a brand. And they see podcasting as a medium for sharing that message in a unique or interesting way. What do you see Jay as the difference between those two, when it comes to those two avenues when it comes to being a creator?

Jay Clouse 17:48
I don’t know if it’s about the differences that I see and more about the similarities. Let me just start by saying, in any case, if you’re going to start a podcast and create a podcast, you are entering into agreement, almost a contract with your listeners that saying this is something I’m taking seriously. And this is when you can expect to hear from me, something Eric and I take great pride in is that we have not missed a weekly episode since day one of the show. Consistency is so so important. Because if you want people to listen to your show, and take you seriously and think that you’re a legitimate operation, you got to act like it. You got to be a professional and you got to show up and you got to ship on time every week. And to your question, Eric, the difference I see between those two, somebody who’s doing it out of pure interest and trying to build their own thing, I find typically is more resilient and continues to ship product on a consistent basis. If you’re trying to build it as a sidecar to something else more frequently than not, I see people doing that as a marketing strategy. And when they don’t see the return on that strategy that they typically see with other marketing initiatives, because it can take months to get yours, any type of feedback that people are paying attention. And if they don’t see that, they’ll frequently just abandon it. And that’s why I would guess, a large large number of podcasts that exist are dead shows because you go out you produce something is send it out, you don’t see any paying attention. So you give it up. It’s a combination of consistency and a willingness to make a good product. Because you can ship something every week, you can record a phone call on voice memo or just record a very hastily made product and ship it every week, people probably won’t listen to that either. So you’ve got to understand that if you’re going to create a show, it is a lot of work. And a lot of ways it’s kind of perpetual, never ending work. And you got to know that you’re signing up for that. Are you willing to dedicate, what 10 hours a week, Eric?

Eric Hornung 19:54
minimum 10 hours a week. And that’s if you’re going through anchor using all their tools being really easy that way? I think that one of the big takeaways in podcasting is that the low hanging fruit, if it’s not gone, it’s disappearing.

Jay Clouse 20:05
Yeah, it’s a window of opportunity to take advantage of the fact that there aren’t as many shows relative to other mediums, that window is closing pretty quickly. And as people come into the space, who already have an audience, and they’re just using it as a new medium to reach that audience, it gets harder and harder for the indie creators starting from square zero to catch traction…

Eric Hornung 20:26
unless, unless they have, or they innovate on structure, the typical interview podcast will be harder and harder to compete on. And the only people who are going to be able to do it are those that either have large audiences or have been around for a long time, which generally means you have a decent sized audience. So you’re going to have to innovate on structure if you want to come in otherwise. And that means that 10 hours a week, Jay, that you’re talking about, it’s probably going to be a lot more

Jay Clouse 20:52
Well, I would I would soften that little and say content generally, which is probably through innovations on structure, but your content has to be good and differentiated. And so for most people creating a podcast may, I don’t know if it’s the route for you, unless you are really dedicated to putting a lot of time in. And it’s true of other things, too. I talked to a lot of business owners who are like, I’m a law firm, I hate being on Twitter, you know, you probably don’t need to there probably other ways to spend your marketing time that are going to have a higher return than running your Twitter or then starting a podcast. So you know, if I’m a listener of this, and I’m looking for a marketing avenue for my company, and I want to leverage podcasting, I’m looking at the consumption or contribution model before I’m looking at the creation model. Unless you’re doing it out of here, interest. It’s something that you compulsively just want to create and share. And you know, we have med favor coming up on an episode here next week, which is a little bit of a leak when he started his podcast, which is very popular now. And even to this day, it was not intended to be a money printing machine. It was just intended to be another platform, another megaphone with a work he was already doing with his company. So he’s an example of somebody who’s taken the sidecar to an existing thing approach and done it successfully. And I think it’s a rarity, especially in a world of NPR, highly produced 30 minutes shows that people can listen to.

Eric Hornung 22:23
So that’s it, guys. That’s what we have for you this week. We hope that you enjoyed this, we hope that you enjoyed the framework of consume, contribute and create. This comes from a lot of what Jay and I have experienced doing all three of those things. If you have comments or questions or thoughts, like Jay said, We are just a email at or a tweet at upside FM, away from chatting with you about, hey, I want to start a podcast Hey, I want to get on a podcast. Hey, I want to listen to a podcast. We’d be happy to interact on either the mediums.

Jay Clouse 23:01
That’s all for this week. Thanks for listening. We’d love to hear your thoughts on today’s guest. So shoot us an email at or find us on Twitter at upside FM will be back here next week at the same time talking to

another founder and our quest to find upside outside of Silicon Valley. If you or someone you know and make a good guest for our show,

please email us or find us on Twitter and let us know.

And if you love our show, please leave us a review on iTunes. That goes a long way in helping us spread the word and continue to help bring high quality guests to the show. Eric and I decided there are a couple things we wanted to share with you at the end of the podcast. And so here we go. Eric Hornung and Jay clouds are the founding partners of the upside podcast. At the time of this recording. We do not own equity or other financial interest in the companies which appear on this show. All opinions expressed by podcast participants are solely their own opinions and do not reflect the opinions of death and Phelps LLC and its affiliates under a collective LLC and its affiliates, or any entity which employs This podcast is for instance ratio purposes only and should not be relied upon as a basis for investment decisions. We have not considered your specific financial situation nor provided any investment advice on this show. Thanks for listening and we’ll talk to you next week.

Nearly a year into publishing weekly episodes of the show, we have a lot of thoughts about the world of podcasting and specifically how startup founders, VCs, and community builders can leverage podcasting.

So this week, we are sharing with you the three main strategies for engaging with the podcasting medium. Namely, consuming, contributing to, and creating podcasts.

Especially if you plan to try to appear on podcasts or create your own, you need to hear this.

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