Many business podcasts tend to be extremely self-promotional and so honed-in on the business’ bottom line that listeners start to tune out. In other words, listeners could sum up these types of business podcasts in one word: boring. They don’t have to be that way, though. When I created Hawke Media’s podcast, HawkeTalk, I was hyper-aware of the boring types of business podcasts because I had experienced plenty of them myself, so it led me to think about the podcasts that have actually been very influential on my entrepreneurship journey and what factors make these podcasts so exciting and impactful.
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1. The Guests
As the host and maybe even the business owner, the podcast is not about you, and, as I previously mentioned, it’s not even really about your business’ bottom line. You’re here to excite people about the possibility of a successful business and what it takes to get there. Listeners want to hear about household names, like Apple and Nike, or breakthrough companies, from Glossier to Tesla.
Think about the guests you would want to hear on a podcast and that you have dreamed about interviewing since you first heard of them. It’s kind of like the question, “If you could have dinner with one person, who would it be and why?” Be bold and go after the biggest names in business or entrepreneurs you really look up to.
Being in the marketing business, I look up to Gary Vaynerchuk, and I had many questions that I’d always wanted to ask him. When I started a podcast, it was important for me to get in touch with Gary and make having him on air happen. Outside of my direct business world, when starting to form the guest list for HawkeTalk, I looked to hobbies and interests I had and people I admired, from athletes such as NBA All-Star Baron Davis and World Rally Championship driver Andreas Mikkelsen to the adventurer and first man to walk across Antarctica, Colin O’Brady.
2. The Why
While you want to avoid talking about the business’ bottom line, you do want to talk about the bottom line of the founder’s entrepreneurial journey. At the end of the day, listeners want to know: Why did you start the business and did it succeed or fail? Why?
Entrepreneurs just getting their start are looking for guidance. It can be absolutely nerve-wracking to start a business, so looking at a textbook of examples of successes and failures, along with analysis of why these businesses were successes or failures, can be an excellent tool for helping entrepreneurs avoid rookie mistakes—that some of the guests on the podcast have already learned the hard way. Hearing about the “why” for other business owners also helps new business owners think about their own company and if they’re in it for the right reasons, on the right track.
At the end of the day, listeners want to know: Why did you start the business and did it succeed or fail? Why?
When I’m a guest on other podcasts, I like to bring up not only my success with Hawke Media but also the failure of the company that I started earlier in life that sold men’s suits. I talk about how the company failed because I simply wasn’t passionate about men’s clothing, specifically suits, and it didn’t light a fire under me. On the other hand, I clue listeners in on the secret sauce that made Hawke Media so successful: I had a passion for brand marketing and a strong desire to make great marketing accessible to brands in all different shapes and sizes.
3. The Struggle
The last factor that makes a business podcast so exciting to me is when the podcast guest puts the struggle part of their entrepreneurial journey on full display for listeners, and the host really squeezes every last ounce of detail out of them. As an entrepreneur, you don’t want to hear about the founders of Lyft or Bumble at the height of their success. You want to hear about all of the challenges they had to overcome along the way.
An admirable podcast that really dives deep into the entrepreneurial struggle is NPR’s How I Built This. The host, Guy Raz, does an incredible job of interviewing his guests on their backstory, like how in the late 1970s Sandy Chilewich went from buying and decorating a few pairs of shoes in her tiny New York City apartment that she bought off the street in Chinatown, to getting them in front of Anna Wintour, to the first supply-chain struggles of getting 50 pairs to Italy for a photo shoot, which all amounted to getting calls from Barneys and Saks to feature the shoes in their department stores.
I love when guests and hosts alike get into the nitty-gritty, so when I’m interviewing my guests for HawkeTalk, I try to bring the shoes-in-Chinatown part of their business journeys out of them too.
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With podcasts, the beauty is truly in the details, and the more you can draw the details out of your guests, the better your podcast will be. I’ve really enjoyed the experience of starting my own podcast this year, especially in a year where we’re all looking for new and innovative ways to stay connected to each other at a distance, and my passions both inside and outside my business have driven this positive experience and the welcoming feedback I’ve received from listeners so far. You can subscribe to HawkeTalk on Apple Podcasts or Spotify today for the latest episodes.