podcast

The Hot Mess Business Podcast #2 - Get Rid of Business Overwhelm by Seeking Help

It’s time for the March episode of The Hot Mess Business Podcast! I’ve decided that a monthly publish schedule is a good fit for the moment, but I hope to increase frequency later in the year!

In This Episode…

I talk with La'Vista Jones from 31 Marketplace about all things business efficiency, including...

  • How she got bullied into starting her own business

  • The predictable "crossroads" when many business owners begin to feel overwhelmed

  • The power of a "Brain Dump Session" to get the mess of your business out of your mind

  • Why partnering with operationally-minded people might be the key to scaling your business

  • How she regularly uses "quiet time" to find a path forward

  • Employing a "business bully" to hold you accountable to your business goals

  • Seeking help in whatever way you can

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About My Guest

La'Vista Jones, CLBC is a certified coach and business strategist. She's also an author, speaker and community builder. She uses her former corporate experience and acumen to support other entrepreneurs in the marketplace. Her desire is to help business owners merge setting foundations for sustainability and growth with prioritizing their own self-care.

La'Vista's unique magic is bringing order to the overwhelm that many solopreneurs experience in life and business. Her work focuses on streamlining processes and identifying operational gaps as well as outsourcing opportunities. La'Vista's creative approach to business analysis and implementation saves her clients valuable time that they can then spend on their own self-care routines.

An Ohio native, La'Vista currently resides in Arizona with her husband, their son, ‘The Cub’ and fur baby, Bull Dozer.

You can find out more about her at thirtyonemarketplace.com and on Instagram @lavistajones

La'Vista knows her stuff and I hope her simple, actionable strategies inspire you to take the first step in getting help with your feelings of overwhelm.

I Podcast.

You guys! My Podcast has finally been launched! Before I dive into my celebration, I wanted to update you on the mess that has been editing and producing this thing. There were LOTS of lessons to be learned.

The Podcast Production Process: My Personal Hell

For those of you that haven’t been following me as I bumble along figuring out how to make a podcast, you can get caught up here and here and here. It’s definitely been an imperfect journey, but it hadn’t been particularly painful until this last step: Production.

And I must’ve known it was going to be rough because I put it off for as looooong as I could. But this past weekend, I finally decided to focus on getting it done and dove, head-first, into editing.

The Production Steps I Took:

In case you’re interested, I’ll start by walking you through the steps I took to produce my very first podcast. I may eventually outsource this task to a professional, but I wanted to learn how to do it and try my hand at it a few times so I can use that info to inform the way I record my interviews in the first place. So far, this has been a good move. I will definitely record my next episode differently!

  1. Record interview

  2. Record my intro “blurb” (I don’t know what it’s actually called.)

  3. Remove the Micro SD card from my microphone, (I happened to use this one ) and add the digital files from the Micro SD card to my computer’s hard drive

  4. Fire up the Garage Band app on my computer and drag my audio files in, along with the music file for my intro/outro

  5. Try not to throw my computer out the window as I split, rearrange, cut, fade the different pieces of audio

  6. Hate myself for starting a podcast in the first place

  7. Take a deep breath and press on with the editing

  8. Export the completed podcast as an MP3 file

  9. Load my MP3 file into Libsyn and populate all of the show/episode description info

  10. Publish the episode in Libsyn!

  11. Apply to add the podcast to iTunes

  12. Apply to add the podcast to Stitcher

  13. Wait

  14. Freak out a little when I see my podcast show up on my ACTUAL Podcast feed!,

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That list made it seem so simple, didn’t it? Well, not everything went perfectly. Here are a few more lessons I learned while producing this baby…

Lesson #1 - If you’re going to make a 30-ish minute podcast, don’t record 90 minutes of audio.

Remember back when I told you how laid-back I was going to be about how I structured my first interview? And remember how that didn’t really work? Well, it doubly didn’t work because my easy-breeziness meant that my guest and I just chatted casually for 90 minutes. In my head I thought, “This is great! I’ll definitely be able to edit this down to pull out only the best parts.” Doesn’t that sound SO LOGICAL? It really did to me.

What I didn’t properly respect was that editing is Time Consuming. Yes, with capital letters. And what seems like a tiny snippet of an idea you want to capture can take hours to stitch together juuuust right. And then double that if you haven’t touched Garage Band since circa 2002. So yeah, it was a long 2 days of editing. You read that right, two full days to pull together a 30-minute podcast. Ugh. I’ll never get that slice of my life back.

Lesson #2 - Yes, you need a mic stand or tripod.

Ughhhhh, there are so many rustles and crinkles and barumphs in my first episode. And it’s fine. It’s supposed to be a hot mess right now. But still, I wish I would’ve fully understood the importance of a stable mic. Thankfully, my husband gave me one he’d had just lying around, so I’m set for next time!

Lesson #3 - Be conscious of your pitch.

This might be one that’s specific to me, but there were lots of times in the conversation where I went into some weird baritone range of my voice. I think I do this naturally in conversation, but it doesn’t play well on a recording. I recall that during the interview, I was kind of leaning back on the sofa as I talked because I’m so comfortable with this particular guest. Next time, I’ll pay attention to sitting up straight and keeping an upbeat energy throughout so my voice stays in an optimal pitch range.

Lesson #4 - When it comes to audio, garbage in/garbage out.

Similar to Lesson #1 above, I had this idea when I was recording that it didn’t reallllly matter how perfect the mysterious “levels” and room acoustics were when I recorded. I could fix it during editing. But that’s not really how it works. While it’s true that you can “turn things up” and “turn things down,” there’s no substitute for doing it right the first time.

Furthermore, I’m realizing that the fewer separate voice recordings, the better. I ended up with very different volume levels and energy-in-my-voice levels from my podcast intro, episode intro, and the interview itself. In retrospect, it sounds pretty bad, so please hang in there with me…I’ll get better with this audio stuff!

The Celebration

But besides how long and tedious it was to edit, it really did go smoothly. And now that I’ve learned Lesson #1 above, this process should go a lot more smoothly next time (I hope!). I have to tell you, the first time I saw my little podcast appear on iTunes it felt so surreal. Apparently I podcast now.

I hope you’ll check out my very first episode with one of my favorite humans, Inga Varney.

Inga Varney of Wine Star Services

Inga is a Wine-geek, a fellow process nerd, a lover of organized digital and physical spaces, while almost always having thousands of messages in her inbox and large stacks of paper all over her desk and surfaces. She is currently a part-time employee working full-time hours while dabbling in her wine business and hanging out with her darling 3-year-old and lovely husband. (And me sometimes.) You’ll love her.

We talk about…

  • Learning by jumping into the mess

  • The value of being “the new girl/guy"

  • How even the most organized people have trouble prioritizing their day

  • How to get on track when your current systems are no longer working

  • How to follow the pain to figure out where to start systematizing, and

  • How to use constraints to make decisions more easily

It’s a pretty fun conversation!

(Side Note: The ridiculously nerdy (and amazing!) tool we discuss is the Timeular tracker.)

I hope you’ll subscribe! (It can only get better from here!) And just so you know, I had previously identified a certain pair of zebra-print shoes as my reward for finally publishing.

So if you see me in them, you’ll know I’m wearing my “Hot Mess Shoes.”


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You can subscribe to The Hot Mess Business Podcast on iTunes or Stitcher!



Four Lessons for Making Your First Podcast Interview Not Suck

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Well, I did it. I conducted my first podcast interview this week. I cleverly signed up someone very near and dear to me to be my first guest. (More on her later) Which kind of felt like cheating, but I'm fine with it.

This friend of mine definitely fits the bill for an efficiency expert - she masterfully organizes really important things every day and then acts like it's no big deal. It's in her blood. So I knew we'd be able to have a fruitful conversation on the topic of making businesses work better.

The Interview

We met one afternoon in my home and set up a cozy nook in my living room to have our chat. I got out my new little audio recorder, adjusted my levels in pure amateur fashion using cheap earbuds, and we set out to do this thing.

As soon as I hit record, I realized I had no idea how I wanted to kick off the interview (Face-palm). So I channeled my inner Tim Ferris and did my best to ramble off an introduction that did my guest justice. (Learning #1: Define how you'll introduce your guest ahead of time.) I think it turned out ok, but I'll find out later this week when I start editing.

The conversation itself also started off a little bumpy, because I'd decided ahead of time that I just wanted to "have a conversation and let it flow" instead of being tethered to the questions I'd come up with. (I’m so chill, aren’t I?) But the conversation has to start somewhere. And it's helpful to figure out, ahead of time, where that somewhere should be. (Learning #2: Define your initial question ahead of time.) I ended up asking her to share a bit about how she came to be the process nerd she is today. Which, again, was fine, but could've been better because it felt too abrupt.  

But I started feeling more at home as the conversation continued. Questions came to me as we talked, as I knew they would, and I did my best to point out insights and connect with her story throughout. I think we both enjoyed the conversation and got something out of it. It didn't feel 100% natural, but I'm sure that's something that will come in time as I get more practice in having these conversations.

In retrospect, though, I lost sight of my "why" for this podcast. And that’s a pretty big deal. She and I were just sort of geeking out about processes, but I wasn't keeping it focused on what my listener wants. This podcast is supposed to be for business owners who feel like their business is an operational Hot Mess, in some way. They don't enjoy geeking out about processes - they enjoy some other aspect of their business: Sales, marketing, strategy…whatever. They need help with the operational part, not further confirmation that they are not wired the same way these weirdos are. I'm supposed to be helping them to feel less alone and giving them strategies for making things work better. I let my listener down.

As I reflected, I recalled something Rob Lawrence taught me at the podcast workshop I attended a few months ago. He said we should think of our audience as a single person who is right there with us while we record. It's our job to keep drawing them into the conversation, just like any good host would do at a real party.

Think about what they're interested in.

Keep connecting to things they'll find relevant.

It's about them. That visual is really helpful for me and I intend to use it next time. I'm also planning to start each podcast by restating what it's all about in the first place. (Learning #3: Keep returning to "who it's for" and "what it's for” throughout.)

Finally, when we got to the end, I encountered a similar problem from the start…I hadn't really worked out how to wrap things up (Face-palm again). I ended up coming up with what I think was a pretty decent question on-the-fly, but this will definitely be something I'll sort out beforehand next time. (Learning #4: Define how you'll wrap up your interview ahead of time.) I love when podcasts start and end in a consistent way each time. It’s a thread that connects each episode to the next. I want to do that.

So, to sum up…

All-in-all, it went…decently. And as much as the perfectionist in me wants to re-interview her to apply all my learnings, I'm not going to do that. First, because there were some valuable gems tucked in throughout our conversation that I think my listener will appreciate and enjoy. But also, because I want to be a living example of shipping before it's perfect. I'm going to do my very best to edit this episode down to make it as valuable and high-quality as possible. And at the same time, I want to look back a year from now and cringe at it because I've come so far. I can't do that unless I get this one out the door.

Deep breath…next comes learning how to edit a podcast.

To keep following along with my podcast journey, be sure to subscribe to my newsletter!

Local Woman Tries to Make a Podcast

Awhile back, I told you about my plans to create a podcast and I told you I'd share my journey to making it happen with all of you. I promise I didn't forget about it, but other priorities took center stage for a minute.

Now, in the new year, I've been focusing on getting this baby out the door, so I wanted to share a bit about what I’ve been up to. Warning: This will be a bit of a window into the way I think and plan things, so bear with me as I get a bit…procedural.

The Basics

As I shared in an earlier post, I had taken a 3-day Podcast Workshop to kick this whole thing off, so I'm going into the project feeling like I have a pretty clear idea of what steps need to get done and in what order. Which is a relief. Coming out of that workshop, I already had…

A podcast name: Hot Mess Podcast  (HT to Pam Slim!)

A list of potential guests: Top Secret

A description of my listener (So I know who I’m talking to): A small business owner who feels overwhelmed with the "back-end" elements of running their business. They have a profitable business and don't have a problem with acquiring and retaining customers/clients, but feel like they spend too much time in reaction-mode and dealing with administrative tasks instead of proactively working on growing their business.

Also, they are fun and don’t take themselves too seriously.

A description of my purpose : To inspire business leaders that they actually can make things run better by sharing the stories of those who have done it and providing practical strategies.

A description of my general "show flow": 1-on-1 interview format with business efficiency experts and those who aren't experts but who have managed to put strategies in place to make things work better. I originally planned to have a 50/50 split of experts and non-experts to give some variety and balance to the content, but that vision has changed a bit since I first got started. (More on this later) That said, I’m planning to move forward with my original plan for the first few episodes so that my desire to get things juuuuust right doesn’t slow down my progress to ship this project.

I will learn and adjust as I go.

What’s Happened in the Last Few Weeks

So when I dug back into this project a couple weeks ago, it was time to start crossing off the preparatory logistical steps. Let me share a bit about how this all went down…

I scheduled my first few guests for interviews

I'm going to keep you in suspense about the identities of my guests, but I do want to share a bit about the process of getting them booked. 

I did this step first because I knew it would cause a ripple effect that would force me to keep moving forward. Once the interviews are booked, there's no turning back. This is a strategy I finally started intentionally putting to use in the last couple of years: When you create some kind of external accountability and deadline for the project, it pushes you to get it done. You can't save it for another day…someone is counting on you to come through NOW.

So I took a deep breath and drafted four emails to four amazingly efficient and beautiful humans, each one very unique and full of such great insights for my listener.

Send. And Wait.

Within a day, all of them had generously agreed to be a guest and I smiled, knowing this thing was actually going to be a thing. By the end of this week, I'll have recorded my first two episodes. (I'll let you know how that goes.) I’m so excited.

I designed some artwork

I put the call out to a designer, but in the meantime, I decided to use Canva to create a placeholder logo for the podcast. And do you know what? I kind of like it!

In my unending quest to mend my perfectionist ways, I'm thinking it might actually be a good idea to just go with this one for now.

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I chose intro/outro music

Again, I'd planned on having this professionally done, but in the meantime, I found a good-enough track on Pond5 that makes me smile and fits with the vibe I'm trying to have. Perfectionism be damned.

Here's a sample version of it.

I created a pre-interview questionnaire

Now that my first few guests were on-board, it was time to start thinking about content. When I was recently a guest on Kc Rossi's podcast, Women Developing Brilliance, she sent me a questionnaire ahead of time to help her prepare a bit for our conversation. I liked that idea a lot, so I "stole like an artist."

Below is the pre-interview survey I came up with for now.  (I'm sure it will change as I figure all of this out, but feel free to steal from me too!)

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I came up with some interview questions

The thing about great conversations is you can never really plan them out in advance. BUT, I did think it was necessary to put together a general list of questions I could use as anchors for the kind of conversation I want to have with my guests. My intention is to stay present and curious during the interview and be flexible about going wherever it takes us. I know these will change as I get better at this.

It never hurts to have a plan.

Here are just a few of the questions I have in mind for now (Also inspired by Kc Rossi):

  1. Tell us more about who you are and how you got started in your business?

  2. What are some of the signs and symptoms that a business needs help with making things work better?

  3. Tell me about a time when you felt like a hot mess in your business.

  4. What are some strategies you can recommend to the business owner who feels like they’re drowning in all the wrong kinds of work?

  5. What about your work excites you or brings you joy?

Next Steps

So that's where I've landed so far. This week, I'll be setting up my podcast hosting platform and conducting my first two interviews. It’s getting real.

I’ll have lots more to share as I figure all of this out, and I’ll continue to keep you posted as I do!

To keep following along with my podcast journey, be sure to subscribe to my newsletter!




 


 

Make Your Message Clearer by Saying it Out Loud

Do you ever struggle with describing your business clearly and succinctly to friends and family? Do you have a hard time coming up with “good content” for your blog or social media? Do you wish you could do speaking gigs but aren’t convinced you could pull together a compelling talk?

Well, a couple weeks ago I attended a podcasting workshop, hosted by the brilliant Pam Slim and Rob Lawrence at the Main Street Learning Lab in Mesa, AZ (which, by the way, is perfection) and I learned a few new tricks that helped me gain clarity in my own messaging. And I’m dying to share them with you..

During this workshop, we were learning everything we needed to know to produce our own podcasts. (Yes, I’m making a podcast!) One of the exercises was for each of us to record an “Episode 0” for our soon-to-be masterpieces. We were each paired with another participant who interviewed us about our business and the podcast itself. As soon as I sat down in front of the mic, I felt a buzz of nervousness. My brain started racing about what the heck I was going to talk about and how stupid my voice was going to sound and why anyone would care anyway and...and...and.... But there was no turning back now. I wiggled my foot on the stool anxiously and awaited the hand signal to begin.

Pictured: Tamara Kemper, Joey Bellus, Rob Lawrence and Rodney Cajudo. In the downstairs studio at the Main Street Learning Lab!

Pictured: Tamara Kemper, Joey Bellus, Rob Lawrence and Rodney Cajudo. In the downstairs studio at the Main Street Learning Lab!

Guess what happened?

Magically, words that I’ve never before said and connections that I’ve never before made suddenly came pouring out of my mouth. Who knows, maybe my voice did sound stupid, but the words I was saying actually made sense! And just saying those words was helping me to understand my whole purpose for doing this podcast in the first place. It was like I was convincing myself in that very moment that it mattered.

Just plain old spoken words.

Although I learned the practical skills for producing my podcast, here were the more important (and unexpected!) lessons I took away from the workshop:

Have More Conversations

We all have conversations about our business as part of normal operations and sales, but when it comes to talking about your business, more is more. Try to find as many opportunities as you can to have quality conversations. For me, these might be conversations like...

  • Asking people questions about how they organize their businesses and where they get stuck.

  • Finding out what people’s real pain-points are related to their back-end operations.

  • Telling stories of the businesses that have made things work better

  • Helping people see why all this process stuff matters for their business (because it really really does)

What kind of conversations can you have? The more you practice talking about what you do and asking insightful questions, the better you’ll get at it. And that means you’ll be better at conveying your message to your ideal customer and helping them get to where they’re going. Kind of a win-win, I’d say.

Record Your Conversations

Once you start having conversations on the regular, Rob suggested that you start recording them too (With permission, of course) - Conversations with family, with friends, with clients and soon-to-be-clients. He talked about how many amazing insights and content gems happen organically as you go about your day doing your thing. And when you have a particularly enlightening conversation, he suggested paying a service to transcribe that conversation because you can take those little gems and turn them into social media posts, blog posts, and if you put enough of them together - even a book!

And I can totally see it. How many times have I told someone the story of what I do and how I got here?  How many times have I helped someone walk through the operational challenges of their business? And yet these messages seem to shift and morph every time...it’s never quite right. But if I were to start recording, I could also start listening. And in listening, I could craft a message that is clearer and more powerful, instead of trying my best to remember that one brilliant thing I said last time.

So here we go…

For me, these learnings all come down to being more intentional about the conversations I have every day. I’m excited to jump in, but I have to admit, I’m a bit nervous. This medium of voice is so much more personal than the written word. You can hear my uncertainty, my dorkiness, my “trying to sound professional but probably not” tone...all of it. Recording myself sharing my ideas will require a much greater level of vulnerability than I’ve ever needed to have here in my living room as I cozily type in my jammies. This will take practice.

Nevertheless, here we go. I’ll be sure to keep you posted on my podcasting journey. I hope you’ll be listening...