Remember the flood of new ideas and innovation that came just after the 2008 recession? Well, podcasters; get ready for 2021. I fully expect a massive influx of podcast innovation to hit in a few months. In fact, the first waves are already with us.
Change at the coming scale I think we’re about to see causes a lot of stress to many working podcasters, both seasoned and just starting out. Heck, even change-freaks like me start to get a little nervous when the pace of change increases precipitously.
But change happens, and we’ve absolutely no control over the initiation of changes or the pace at which these changes wash over us. The only thing we can control is how we working podcasters react to the changes we’re soon to be facing.
With zero intention of trying to turn you into a change-hungry weirdo like me, might I offer a straightforward, three-step process of reacting to change when you encounter something brand new in podcasting? Especially something brand new that might fundamentally change how podcasting itself works or at least how you navigate your day-to-day life as a working podcaster.
Step One: Assume The Best Intentions
When you see something new, recognize it as such and stop your brain from immediately looking for (or examining obvious) flaws in the idea.
Easier said than done, right? This is a constant struggle for me. Yes, I’m quick to judge, which surprises no one who’s known me personally for any length of time. But we have to resist that, at least initially, if we’re going to truly evaluate any new directory, app, service or whatever heads our way.
Instead, assume the new thing will be a good thing. You may not have much info to go off of to make a call either way, but make your default approach to be one of acceptance. Remember: effectively no one is introducing a new app, directory, or service because they want to make podcasting worse, right? Granted, their new idea in practice might change podcasting for the worst, but it’s much more likely that bad ideas put in practice just won’t be adopted and the new thing will die a natural death.
With very few exceptions, everybody envisioning something new for podcasting does so because they think their idea is going to make podcasting - or at least an aspect of podcasting - better. So likewise, with very few exceptions, you should accept the good intentions at face value and assume you will be supportive of the new thing. Because you like it when podcasting is made better, right?
Step Two: Be Pragmatic
By pragmatic, I mean don't accept the claims or even the tenets of the new podcasting app, directory, or service at face value. Yeah, I know I just said do that, kind of. But not really. The acceptance in Step One only orients yourself to be receptive to change. That doesn’t mean you should shut off your critical thinking skills. Shut down the cynic, but ramp up the skeptic!
I suggest scrutinizing the ideas and claims before you start poring over the details or nit-picking minor (and all too often obvious) flaws. Sure, sparse information and less-than-careful editing of launch pages can be the hallmark of a half-baked idea. But they can also be the residual of rushing to market. So put down the red pen for a moment.
Instead, closely examine the premises or core concepts behind the new offering and apply it to your world as a working podcaster. If the instigators of the idea are making bold claims to “fix” problem areas in podcasting, do you agree that what they’ve called out as a “problem area” actually exists and is, in fact, a problem for you? And if it’s not a problem for you, does it seem plausible that other working podcasters are experiencing the problem and are in need of a solution? There are lots of ways to podcast, so watch out for “this isn’t important to me, so therefore this won’t be important to anyone” thinking. You’re a sample size of one, and that makes for a pretty narrow dataset.
Credulity is not your friend in Step Two. Yes, you still want to assume good intentions. But you must critically examine the bold statements and assertions behind the claims. Oftentimes a few minutes with a search engine and an inquisitive mind will expose ideas that are less reflective of reality and more wishful thinking. And I’m all for wishful thinking. It’s just that reality is hard to beat.
Go ahead and get personal in this critical-thinking stage. Do you buy into their philosophy? Do their ideas ring true for you? What do your fellow working podcasters think about the idea? Is this a model you see them and others embracing fully? You have to apply critical thinking when evaluating claims before rushing headlong and investing heavily - whether that's money, time, or other precious resources - into some new thing that is supposedly going to change everything.
Be pragmatic. Don't get fooled by the glitz and glamour of cool-looking things that turn out to just be flim-flam.
Step Three: Let Them Try Again
Remember that behind these crazy ideas that will change everything for podcasters are people following the startup playbook. Startups are organizations in search of a business model. Quite often, that search dramatically changes the products and services offered so much that they are nearly unrecognizable from what came first.
So whatever these new startups are offering right now might - and probably will - fail miserably. But they might try again, taking what they learned and coming back to the market with another offering. Many podcasting ideas are abandoned, but others morph into something quite different.
Your job is to not pre-judge the new idea through the lens of the prior failure. Yes, that’s hard. But their next offering is worthy of your consideration too. If the developers come back with a new concept or idea, give them another shot. Almost by definition, everybody's first offer is not fully baked by experience. A failed project doesn’t make the architects losers. It makes them learners.
Be willing to let them bring a new idea to your life again, but start your evaluation of their next new thing from Step One. Even better; keep tabs on companies or individuals who tried and failed to make a big change in podcasting. Maybe their still searching for the right model that works for them, you, me, and everyone else.
Yes, this is a thinly veiled attempt to get working podcasters like you to think more critically. Guilty as charged. But it’s also an attempt to get you out of your comfort zone so that you don’t get caught up in (or left behind by) the wave of new ideas and concepts coming our way, podcasters.
I know change is stressful to many. I know many podcasters have mastered just what they need to make the show(s) they are working on right now, and everything outside of that is a little scary. If you know someone like that, send them a link to this article. Perhaps the coping strategies I’ve presented here will help them continue to thrive in the podcasting world. And a little word of mouth for the show doesn’t hurt either, right?
And for you, fellow lover-of-change: If you really like ideas like this that I bring to your brain every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, please visit BuyMeACoffee.com/EvoTerra and do just that. I appreciate it.
I shall be back tomorrow with yet another Podcast Pontifications.
Podcast Pontifications is written and narrated by Evo Terra. He’s on a mission to make podcasting better. Allie Press proofed the copy, corrected the transcript, and edited the video. Podcast Pontifications is a production of Simpler Media.