For a long time, I wondered whether I would turn out to be the hero of my own life. For years, I meandered along happy to accept the status-quo; settling for the results of the experiences I had in my life. 6 failed businesses, 2 small exits, and completely uninspired about the corporate space. I felt completely stuck.
After months of information gathering, contemplation and soul searching, I was still not sure about what my next play as an entrepreneur was going to be. I had reached a point where I just needed to stop thinking and start doing.
So, in January 2016, I woke up. But of all the things I could have done, I decided to start podcasting – something I had never done before. 18 months later, and the Matt Brown Show is consumed in over 100 countries around the world. Go figure.
Sucking at Something Is a Good Thing
In the early days of podcasting, I really, really sucked at it. For many reasons, making the decision to start a podcast was a terrifically bad idea. I had barely even listened to a podcast – let alone produced one.
Listeners of my show wouldn’t guess it today, but I’m a natural introvert. I generally prefer to hang out with people I know AND like, and I’ve been that way my entire life. So, sitting down with a stranger and trying to hold a conversation with them for an hour was difficult to say the least. Like I said, I sucked at it. Like full retard.
But, sucking at something is the first step towards being sort of good at something and the more I sucked at it, the better at podcasting I became. Instead of scripting every interview down to the finest details, I started winging it. Instead of chasing big names for interviews, they started being referred to me, and instead of one listener (that was me) I now reach 30,000 people on average per episode and it’s growing month on month, with no bought media. To this day, I still haven’t spent a cent on advertising the Matt Brown Show.
Most Podcasts Die After Six Months
I can barely count the number of times I’ve heard or spoken to entrepreneurs who say they are going to start a podcast, but then never do. Of the ones that do start with podcasting, a very small percentage survive past 6 months and there’s a very good reason for this – it’s hard work.
Even if some brands have pulled it off, creating original audio content isn’t as simple as it looks. It’s hard to produce good audio. Many brands get into it thinking that it will be fun, interesting, or cheap. Then they quickly learn that it’s hard to create effective audio on a consistent basis.
I’ve learnt that with anything in business you must put in the hard work – the kind of work that very few others are willing to do. It’s probably the single biggest reason why the Matt Brown Show has built such a loyal audience. Hard work tends to pay dividends.
The Digital Kungfu Show?
When I started podcasting, it was called the Digital Kungfu Show – the name of my strategic business consultancy.
But after my 50th episode where I was interviewed by 27 CEO’s and entrepreneurs, I started to receive a new kind of feedback from my listeners; feedback which scared the hell out of me – I was told I had to rebrand the podcast to the Matt Brown Show.
At first I was reluctant to say the least and so I began making up excuses as to why I shouldn’t do the rebrand. But what happens if I sell my business? What will happen to my listeners? Who will take over the podcast? It was all B.S. Truth be told, I was lying to myself. I had let my introverted nature take over, because I had never liked the thought of being in the limelight – let alone have my name attached to something that was becoming noteworthy.
When Rich Mulholland came onto the show for a second time, he recounted a conversation that had happened between several entrepreneurs within the Entrepreneurs Organization (EO). He said: “When guys were asked what was their favorite podcast, Jedd Myers the CEO of Health Insite stood up and mentioned the Tim Ferriss Show and the Digital Kungfu Show. But after saying that, he immediately said ‘but don’t worry it has nothing to do with digital’. So, I cannot understand why you wouldn’t want it to be the Matt Brown Show. Your show has rebranded itself.” He was right. I was suffering from what Rich calls “legacide”.
To quote a previous guest of mine, Howard Mann: “When you are inside the bottle, you can’t read the label”. This is such a truism in many an entrepreneur’s life. I realized that when you are stuck inside the bottle you often cannot see what is right in front of you. So, I rebranded the podcast and along with that rebrand came a new show format, design and overall audio experience, which has doubled the listenership in only ten episodes.
It’s All About the Community
This week, I was at the launch of the Unicorns, Gazelles and Leapfrogs (grab the podcast here) report at GIBS in Johannesburg. When signing in at the reception, I met a young guy (Antonio) who was helping me find my name tag. The moment he found it he saw my name and said: “Dude, are you Matt Brown, the podcast guy? I’ve been listening to your show for over a year! It’s made such a difference in my life.” This kind of event happens almost every week, and it underlines the importance of community in business.
No entrepreneur is an island. We all need help. Some of us are just too proud to ask for it. For me, podcasting is such a simple and powerful way to land your message, regardless of what business you are running, the customer you are serving or the community that you hold dear. We are too quick to underestimate the power of our own media and the difference it can make it society.
Just this week I interviewed Gil Oved and Romeo Kumalo (the two Sharks from the TV series the Shark Tank) and at the end of interview Gil said how much he appreciated the work that I was doing and how important it was for the community of South African entrepreneurs. It’s comments like this that emphasizes the importance of community in business.
When I look back at the early days of the podcast, I’m struck more than ever about how much help I was given by other entrepreneurs. To put this in perspective, I had interviewed the likes of Vinny Lingham, Rich Mulholland, Arthur Goldstuck, Mark Sham, Allon Raiz, Mike Abel, Arthur Goldstuck, Justin Drennan and Mike Stopforth – before I had even used a proper microphone!
The reality was that at the time I was just getting started, and most them probably knew that – but they helped and supported me along the way by making themselves available and by doing so they gave back to the broader community of entrepreneurs.
Matt Brown Media
When I was interviewing the angel investor Craig Mullet he said: “No spreadsheet has met the realities of the market”, meaning that what you start out building is in most cases not what you end up with.
When I started out podcasting, I thought I was building was a strategic business consultancy, but the reality is that I was building a media company – Matt Brown Media.
Every week I receive requests for consultation services related to podcasts and Matt Brown Media is seemingly best positioned to help other entrepreneurs and business owners spread their own message in a fresh and unique way, by helping them produce their own podcasts so that they too can begin telling their own story to the customers and communities which they serve.
According to Edison Research, an estimated 98 million Americans listen to podcasts. That is nearly twice the population of South Africa.
The South African podcast market is growing exponentially and with 29 million South African’s owning a smartphone, this is an incredibly exciting time for business owners to use podcasts as a new form of marketing and PR
But all of this wouldn’t be possible without the entrepreneurs and listeners who have supported the Matt Brown Show along the way. It’s been such a ride and I’m grateful to every single one of them.
The biggest lesson I have learnt on this journey, is to figure out what community you want to speak to and then ruthlessly pursue what is in their interests. That’s how you build a brand, a business and even a media company like Matt Brown Media.
If you’d like more information on how Matt Brown Media can help your business jump into the world of podcasting, please contact me.
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