The First Question to Ask Yourself When Starting a Podcast (and how to answer it)

This is the transcript from the fifth episode of Individuate, Easygoing Digital’s podcast. Listen on the player below.

For episode 5 of the podcast, we’ve got the first episode that’s a bit more practical.

We’ll be discussing how you can set goals for your podcast and how those goals can guide your thinking around what you want to get out of your podcast and where you hope it can take you.

If you’re not quite at the stage where you’re ready to start your podcast, these themes will apply to you, too, with whatever you want to do.

But before we get into today’s podcast, I want to tell you about Napoleon Bonaparte’s most successful failed General.

Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte was born in Pau in southern France as Jean Henri Bernadotte and Jeanne de Saint-Jean’s son. Born the son of a prosecutor, his birth and childhood were relatively unremarkable compared to many others from his time, whom history also remembers.

To highlight his commonness, Jean-Baptise didn’t add the Baptiste part of his name until after birth, which his parents did to distinguish him from his elder brother Jean Évangeliste.

Not being of noble birth, a young Bernadotte followed in his father’s footsteps, and at the age of 14, was apprenticed to a local attorney. However, after his father died in 1780, his family required him to get a job and Bernadotte was prompted to join the French Royal Army. Starting what was to be an absolute rollercoaster ride of a professional career.

Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte – image source

Bernadotte joined the French Royal Army in 1780 and quickly rose the military ranks.

Following the French Revolution’s eruption, however, he quickly became an enthusiastic supporter.

His military talent and reputation brought him quick promotions, which he gained on the back of support from commanders and his men, having been elected to the ranks of both lieutenant colonel and colonel by his men. However, he refused the nominations in favour of a more traditional progression.

Bernadotte had his first meeting with Napoleon Bonaparte in 1797.

Napoleon took a shine to Bernadotte, and the two quickly developed a friendship. Napoleon recognised Bernadotte’s talents, and following his declaration of empire and Bernadotte’s declaration of loyalty to him in 1804, Napoleon appointed him a Marshall of France.

Following multiple successful campaigns, Napoleon rewarded Bernadotte by making him Prince of Ponto Corvo in Italy. However, things started to go sour between the pair in 1806, when Napoleon criticised Bernadotte for failing to show up at a battle where Napoleon felt he was outnumbered.

Now, I don’t want to get too deep into the details of everything between Napoleon and Bernadotte because it can get pretty dry, and I’m not Dan Carlin, but it’s important to note that the two were close.

With Napoleon going as far as to consider naming Bernadotte as his successor by adoption. Napoleon felt that Bernadotte had the popularity and administrative and military skill to safeguard the Empire he had built.

But as far as I can understand it, Napoleon wasn’t a great guy, to put it lightly. In fact, that’s probably putting it too lightly; he was a bloody horrible bloke.

Like many famous leaders throughout history, he didn’t seem to have a great awareness of his shadow side, and he was a single-minded, competitive beast.

As much as Napoleon respected Bernadotte, he didn’t take kindly to Bernadotte’s many qualifications, and his competitive nature would have also been threatened by Bernadette’s talent, individual thinking and popularity.

The long of the short of it is that although Bernadotte was Napoleon’s ally, The Emporer seemed to keep sabotaging him by giving him weaker foreign soldiers and instructing other generals not to back Bernadotte up in a battle at his time of need.

This led to Bernadotte’s regiment breaking rank and retreating from battle.

Having lost so many men and as far as I can work out, not being a dick to his soldiers, who Napoleon considered inferior being foreigners, he was relieved of his duties.

For the commoner from Southern France, he returned to Paris, and it seemed the whirlwind ride of his career was slowing down. But this is just where our story picks up.

After bouncing around a couple of unexceptional postings, completely out of the blue, Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte was chosen to be the next King of Sweden and Norway.

It’s complicated how this was even possible, but basically, France was an ally of Sweden. The Swedish King had got the throne 1 year earlier, but he had no kids. He adopted a Danish Prince, but the Prince died shortly after his arrival.

This is where it all gets a bit bizarre because so many people were considered for the position; however, none were Bernadotte.

He wasn’t even 10th in line to the throne, but an obscure Swedish courtesan basically came to him and offered him the job.

He felt compelled to relay this to Napoleon, who thought the idea was absurd.

To illustrate just how weird this all was, the courtesan was arrested on his return to Sweden, but Bernadotte’s candidacy gained popularity anyway.

Even Napoleon later came around to the idea, choosing to support Bernadotte to become the Swedish Crown Prince.

So, this is basically the situation as I work it out.

A no-name fella from Southern France rises as high as he can in the Royal Army by following the rules and having some talent.

He switches sides to become part of the Revolution, where he rises higher than he ever would have, becomes mates with Napoleon, gathers his own following, which threatens Napoleon; he’s then basically sabotaged multiple times, relieved of his duties, he returns to Paris, bounces around a few lesser jobs and then gets chosen to be the next King of Sweden.

Now, I’ve been trying to get my head around how he became the King of Sweden, so to explain it super simply, let’s think of like the Swedish court needs a new CEO.

All the head honcho’s and top board members suggest ideas, offering people the job and doing interviews.

One guy won’t move because he’s already on a good wicket, they offer it to another woman, but she doesn’t want the job.

Then, basically, Kev from Accounts approaches a guy he knows who’s been let go from the business up the road and offers him the job. At the next staff meeting, Kev gets arrested for not staying in his lane, but someone pipes up that it’s not a bad suggestion and his mate from up the road gets the job.

So, as far as I can understand it, that’s how Charles the 14th of Sweden rose to the Crown.

But that brings me to my favourite part of this story and why we’re talking about Jean Baptiste Bernadotte or King Charles the 14th of Sweden today.

After he became King, Bernadotte never revealed his naked torso, even to the royal doctors who were treating him throughout later life.

It was only revealed after his death that across his stomach he had the former French Revolutionary had a big tattoo that said Mort aux Rois, which means death to kings.

So that brings me to the message for today’s podcast. When setting goals, aim high because you can’t know how much you will achieve at the time of setting a goal.

It’s worth having an open mind to what the future could hold and be optimistic about just how much you can achieve if you put yourself out there.

Jordan Harbinger, one of my favourite podcasters who I’ve mentioned before, has this saying. You can’t see over the horizon.

We can’t know what’s ahead, and so we’ve gotta be open to possibilities that can arise.

So go back to something we spoke about in episode 1 of the podcast, the idea that motivation = importance plus confidence; I want to focus more on the importance side of things today. Without restricting our possibilities, what is it that we’d really want to achieve if we had absolute freedom?

Now let’s get into the meat and potatoes of today’s episode.

How and why does goal setting relate to starting a podcast or putting your voice out there.

Well, it’s really the first question to ask ourselves when we’ve decided to start a podcast. What do I want to get out of it?

With the vast majority of podcasts ceasing production before 8 episodes, it seems to me that a fluidity around what we want to achieve with a podcast can lead us to feel like we’re not getting anything out of it.

If we get no sense of progress towards something, it can be hard to stay motivated and keep committed to what seems like a pointless task.

But if we have a sense of what our goals are, what would define success to us out of a particular podcast or situation, it can make our progress more tangible and can also help shape the delivery of our communication.

We’ll talk a bit more about some of the specific goals you may want to choose a little later in the episode, but I think it’s really worth considering how you could leverage a podcast to create more freedom financially and also more freedom with your time.

Who would you have to partner with, never to have to worry about money again? Who would you need as a mentor to ensure that you could supercharge your career trajectory? What type of audience would you need never to have to worry about marketing again?

All of these goals have previously been achieved by people leveraging a podcast.

We’ll unpack it a bit more as the podcast progresses, but without being too prescriptive about an ideal outcome we want to achieve, it’s really worth releasing the shackles a bit and thinking about what are the building blocks, relationships or partnerships that are going to propel me towards where I want to go.

Just on that point, it’s important to recognise exactly what a realistic idea of success.

It’s something that’s going to become more apparent over time, but it’s worth steering a bit away from just audience numbers. Just for context, if you’re getting 100 downloads a week on your podcast, you’re in about the top 20% of shows, but as we’ll talk about later, the value of one podcast listen when leveraged correctly can be literally priceless, and I’m not necessarily just talking about the lifetime value of a customer.   

So, how is it that we choose our goals?

It’s not necessarily something that comes immediately to amanyus, especially with so much seemingly complicating the future.

We did an episode on Psych Spiels and Silver Linings, called gaining Gratification from Goals, and one of the themes that came up from that was the importance of aligning our goals to our values.

What do we want to stand for? What’s our mission? What problems do we want to solve? Who do we want to interact with, and who do we want to help?

How do we want to help them? What activities could truly fulfil us if we wcouldmonetise them and build systems around them to make them successful?

If we can align the goals of our podcast with our life’s vision, mission and values, it’s a lot more likely that we’ll succeed and be meaningful and satisfying for us.

If something comes from this internal form of motivation, we’re a lot more likely to follow it through. And With a podcast being such a tool/ for autonomy, it’s not worth pursuing someone else’s agenda.

A practical exercise that can help with this is to do the character strengths test from positive psychology. The character strengths are a list of 24 strengths and virtues that are celebrated across all cultures across all periods of time.

Things like ‘honesty, courage, curiosity, leadership.’ If we can get a sense of the strengths and virtues that we resonate with most, it can give us a guide as to what messages or themes we’re on about and what tools we can use to convey those to other people.

 I’ll put the link up to a couple of different versions of the test upon the podcast page for today at easygoingdigital.com.au/individuate, one being longer and the other about 15 minutes, but it’s worth even checking out a list of the character strengths, especially if we’re feeling stuck in a situation because it can often give us a clue as to what we’re missing at that particular time.

It’s important to note that the average number of podcast episodes is 5, so you want to enjoy the process.

And interested people are interesting people, so this will really help the quality of your show or whatever else it is you choose to put out there.

And Remember, the ultimate goal is to create freedom, whether that be on a professional level in terms of monetising what you do or on a personal level in terms of having the freedom to see where your ideas develop and see where they can take you.

Imagine if you won the lottery tomorrow, or you managed to get on the Bitcoin train in 2008.

You wouldn’t spend too much of your time on the Netflix back catalogue, well, maybe at first, but then you’d want to find something that gives you more meaning.

And that’s how I want you to start thinking about a podcast. Regardless of what your particular goal is, I’m confident that a podcast can take you there. And there’s more than likely an example of someone who’s leveraged a podcast in a similar way that can give you clues as to how to get there.

Just look at Brandon T Adams, who we spoke to in episode 3.

He started working at a family business. Felt he wanted to move on from there, so he went to work for a bigger ice business. Then he created the arctic stick and his podcast, and everything that’s come from that has come from sitting in Garnevillo, Iowa and feeling that his values didn’t align with the path he was on.

So, let’s look at some possible goals for your podcast.

At least to start, as we heard from Brandon, you can leverage your podcast in a whole lot of ways; we’ll speak about this more as time goes on, but before we can create a podcast, it’s important to know just what we’re trying to get out of it, even if that’s simply to entertain or to help someone feel less lonely.

Depending on where you’re at and where you want to get to, here are some examples of goals you may want to pursue your podcast.

  • Selling your own products.
  • Sell your own services or your business’s services
  • Selling books – how to get on NYT bestseller list
  • Affiliate products
  • Create partnerships
    • Product
    • Distribution
    • Authority
  • Get speaking gigs
  • Foster relationships
  • Get consulting gigs
  • Engage mentors
  • Explore an idea or question
  • As we saw with Brandon, start the basis of a TV show

It’s really not worth limiting yourself to what you hope to create from your podcast. But it’s worth starting with at least one thing you can do to ensure your podcast will seem worth it to you, right from the start.

Then, as you start to get results, you can leverage that momentum to create other assets and income streams as you go long.

What we start with is not what we finish with. When Brandon started the University of Young Entrepreneurs, he couldn’t have known where it would lead, but he had an idea of where he wanted to go, and it allowed him to gain the direction needed to push him towards all of the other opportunities he capitalised on.

What we’re trying to do in setting goals for our podcast is to give ourselves some sense of overarching mission and direction.

Even if all you want to do is to entertain people, it’s still worth setting out who that is, how you’ll do it and where it could roughly lead if it’s successful.

What we’re trying to avoid is to get into the more difficult parts of doing a podcast and not have a sense of why we’re doing it, what it’s worth to us and what we’re aiming towards if we continue.

Let’s just break this down to its most basic element; your podcast will give you an opportunity to have a conversation with countless more people than you otherwise would have.

Each of these conversations can become an asset in whichever way you choose to use it.

So, don’t hold yourself back. Who do you want those conversations to be with? What do you want them to be about? And how do you want to collaborate with the influential people you speak to? What do you want those conversations to lead to?

So that’s where we start when we’re starting a podcast, and even if you’re not starting a podcast, it’s worth thinking about too. What’s your mission, what’s your vision and how are you going to monetise your podcast to enable you to get there?

I’ll finish with a quote from Keith Ferrazzi, who I’ve mentioned on the podcast before.

“Success in life = the people we meet + what we create together.”

That’s it for the podcast today. Check out the episode page at www.easygoingdigital.com.au/individuate. I’ve got a few resources there for each episode that I like to include for those who want to dive a bit deeper into the topic for today.

And also, stay tuned because I’ve got some exciting news to share with everyone in the next couple of weeks.

I look forward to speaking to you in the next episode of individuate.