Published DateAuthorDan Sullivan of Strategic Coach and Gord Vickman
Believe it or not, podcasting has now been around for two decades. Dan Sullivan and Gord Vickman delve into the history and share their personal stories of how each of them first got involved. You’ll hear where podcasting is headed and learn the art of having compelling conversations that make people laugh, think, question, cry, and always come back for more.
In This Episode:
The first podcast was published in 2003 via RSS, marking the beginning of the era.
Podcasting allows for a more intimate connection with listeners, creating a loyal and supportive audience.
The greatest compliment you can pay anyone in broadcasting is, “I feel like I know you.”
Podcasting is a relationship-building medium. You don’t have to sell anything if you don’t want to.
AI-powered capabilities are only going to increase and expand, making the medium more accessible to everyone.
Podcast listeners count on two things: they want to learn something new, and they want to be entertained.
Giving away free content in podcasts can inspire listeners to investigate your company and write a check.
Even a 20-year-old podcast is new to someone coming across it for the first time.
With podcasting, everyone who’s listening to you made the choice to listen to you. They’re there because they want to be.
Dan Sullivan: Hi everybody, it's Dan Sullivan here, and this is Podcast Payoffs. This is Gord Vickman. And he reminded me before we went on to the podcast today that we're now at the 20th anniversary of the entire new thing that was created called podcasting, and he was in the radio world at that time. So when it first came along, Gord, since you're conscious of this and I'm not, what'd you think of this?
Gord Vickman: I started in radio in 2004, so this would've been one year before. So the first podcast was published via RSS, RSS, Real Simple Syndication. So just for a little five-second background, RSS is a little piece of software that basically crawls around and finds the things that you tell it to find. That's how people get podcasts. So if you're listening to this on Apple or Spotify or Overcast or Stitcher, wherever, you have instructed the podcast player to go and find this podcast if you follow us and this show and the other ones as well.
The RSS will crawl and find what you're looking for, and it will provide it to you. It was started for blogs. So interestingly, it was July 9, 2003. So we had multimedia journalist, Dave Winer, hope I'm pronouncing that right. Dave Winer is an interesting name for a podcast host.
Dan Sullivan: Depends on how it's spelled.
Gord Vickman: W-I-N-E-R. Dave Winer and Chris Lydon discuss the exciting new world of blogs on a podcast, and it was published on harvard.edu and they made this piece of audio, it was just a little button at the top, and it was made available via RSS. So those who had an RSS reader would be able to go and acquire that automatically sent to their laptops or their desktops more likely back then. It wouldn't be a telephone because I mean, we're not even in the iPhone era yet. So this is universally considered the first podcast because it was the first piece of audio that could be crawled by an RSS feed. And now, they all are. If you want to podcast and you need to publish it, you need to find an audio host,3 and you need an RSS feed. That's how everybody will find you.
So what did I think? So the year is 2004. I got my first job in radio. I'm in my very early 20s and I have no idea what I'm doing. I was brought on to be a technical producer, so if you picture a radio station, there's the giant digital audio console. I was brought in to slide things up and down, answer the phones and do the technical aspect for the two co-hosts. They started bringing me on to make fun of me. They called me Gord, the intern. So what happened was, I was coming back with things that were, I suppose, a little bit clever and interesting, and in their effort to try and make fun of me, I ended up turning it around. Maybe I was just a little bit quicker than what they were into, what they were saying, but I ended up turning it around, and the joke was on them most of the time.
So they stopped doing that. And then months later, the station manager said, "Would you like to join the show? People seem to like you." And that's how my on-air career started. I went into the radio business to be a technical producer. I thought I would be sliding things up and down, but the stories that I was telling and the chemistry that I had with my old co-host, Darrin Laidman, it was there. So that's how things sort of came to be.
And I remember back in 2004, 2005, we had a whole tech team trying to figure out how to get an MP3 onto a website because they didn't even really know how to do that yet. So podcasting was very much out of the realm of my thought process because I didn't really know. So Dan, I'm going to throw that back to you. I'm going to give you a date here. If I said to you, "What did you think of podcasting on August 3, 2012?"
Dan Sullivan: If I suspect your sneaky purpose here, that was when I did my first podcast.
Gord Vickman: It was called "Telling the Truth, Identifying Strengths."
Dan Sullivan: Yeah.
Gord Vickman: 10X Talk, Dan Sullivan, Joe Polish, episode number one. Do you remember that?
Dan Sullivan: Well, first of all, I'm very seldom on the cutting edge of technology because I watch what other people do, and then I watch their report on why this is a good thing to do, and I watch what practical, measurable results they're noticing. And Joe Polish is a great marketer, and so he's what I would say on the cutting edge of applying technology to marketing. And I listened to some of his podcast with Dean Jackson, which is called, I Love Marketing, which is still going, and it's into the hundreds, hundreds and hundreds of episodes. And they're both great conversationalists, and they're both really good askers of questions of the other host, but they each bring a entirely different universe of marketing capability and experience.
And so there's this marvelous merging of two capabilities where the partners are being great improv players that they never contradict. They never argue against what the other person's saying, and they say something that furthers what one person says, and then it goes back. It's our team early in the '90s and we've repeated it who have taken improv training at Second City, and there's just two rules for good improv. This is standup comedic improv, and that is, never say no, and you always help your partner. And those are the two rules of improv. And I think you can carry that improv training right over to podcasting.
Gord Vickman: Saying no just shuts it right down.
Dan Sullivan: No. Yeah, yeah. I mean, you look like a jerk. You sound like a jerk. The other person thinks you're a jerk, and that's the last time they're going to do a podcast with this jerk.
Gord Vickman: Unless the podcast is called Bunch of Jerks.
Dan Sullivan: Yeah, a bunch of jerks negating each other.
Gord Vickman: Not very interesting. I wouldn't-
Dan Sullivan: But it's been a gradual thing. But I never really take on a new capability unless I plan to do it forever. So there's just a lot of stuff I don't get involved in.
For example, I've never done social media. Now I have to put an asterisk on that because I am out on social media every day. It's going out on Facebook, it's going out on Twitter, it's going out on Instagram. I'm sure some of it's going out on TikTok, but I myself have never participated in the activity of social media. I never communicate with people just on a day-to-day basis. Quite frankly, I wouldn't know how to do it if you asked me to do it. And the reason is that I want to create new ideas, and I want to get new ideas out to the world and attract an entrepreneurial audience that liking a whole bunch of ideas that are being given to them for free in podcasts, are willing to investigate Strategic Coach, write a check, and join The Strategic Coach Program. And that is my entire purpose for podcasting.
Gord Vickman: And 10X Talk with Joe Polish still going strong, coming up on 11 years this August. And by the way, just a little footnote, that first podcast that I mentioned in 2003 with Dave Winer, Chris Lydon, it's still there. It's called Open Source, and it's the longest-running podcast in the world.
Dan Sullivan: In the world, yeah.
Gord Vickman: They published an episode maybe two weeks ago.
Dan Sullivan: And the other benefit of podcasting is it can be 20 years old, but if someone just comes across it for the first time, it's brand new. So for the person just discovering a podcast, it's always brand new, even though it's 20 years old.
Gord Vickman: Dan, when you sat down with Joe in our studios here on Fraser Avenue in Toronto in beautiful Liberty Village, I went and I listened to that episode last night, and you did the introduction and it was Joe actually that carried you into it. I think you'd get a kick out of-
Dan Sullivan: I've got the record, I've got the LP record of it, so I'll never hear it because I don't have any LP record equipment right now. But if you were to have the digital copy of that and send it to me-
Gord Vickman: I will.
Dan Sullivan: ... I'll certainly listen to it.
Gord Vickman: I will. So thinking back to that day, I'm sure you don't remember the minutiae of what you guys discussed, but now you can sort of gauge where you've come from. So you've got a full decade of podcasting in your pocket.
Dan Sullivan: Over a thousand episodes, I would hazard to guess.
Gord Vickman: More than that. I think it's closer to 1,500 and each one is different, and you have shows with your partners, and each one serves a specific purpose. Was there anything that you can think of or identify that was surprising to you or anything that you can identify that you've learned that you don't think you would have learned elsewhere had you not sort of dove headfirst into the medium? Did you know that you were going to enjoy it as much as you have enjoyed it when you sat down with Joe in the studio here in the basement?
Dan Sullivan: No, I was scared. I was scared. And I have been a live speaker. I've given speeches, I've given presentations, probably a thousand of those in my entrepreneurial career. It took me just a bit of time to understand that this was different from live speeches because everybody who was in the audience was there for another reason, and I was just a part of the entertainment, if you will, and hopefully it was entertaining or useful, but that wasn't the reason why they were in the audience.
But with podcasting, everybody who was listening to you made a choice that they want to listen to you, that they want to hear what you have to say, they want to hear how the conversation goes. So the podcast audience is the friendliest, most supportive audience in the entire world in any form of communication.
Gord Vickman: Yeah, because they're all there because they want to be.
Dan Sullivan: I mean, you have the case of irate listeners in the radio world and they want to argue with you. I never find with podcasts, people who listen to my podcasts, they say, "I listened to what you said, and I thought about that, and that was really useful." That's the kind of comment I get. You don't hear the clapping, but you hear the clapping and the appreciation that people give when they contact you.
The other thing is, strangers know your voice. And I had a situation about four months ago, I was in Arizona, and roughly four times during the trip, a stranger would come up to me and say, "You're Dan Sullivan, aren't you?" And I said, "Yes." And he says, "I know your voice." So he said, "Your voice is in my head every single day, and I just wanted to take this opportunity to tell you how much I appreciate what you have to say and how it gets me to think about new things. And I really want to tell you I appreciate it." It's happened to me on airplanes, it's happened to me in restaurants, it's happened to me... I'm in an open area where I'm talking to someone else and I'll see somebody come up and stand and they say, "Excuse me, you're Dan Sullivan, aren't you?" So it's a marvelous feeling, Gord. It's a marvelous feeling. And I'm sure you're starting to get that too.
Gord Vickman: It's the greatest compliment you can receive as a, I'm thinking back to the radio days when people would say, you can get compliments, people would say, "Oh, you're funny," or, "I like that thing you talked about." The greatest compliment you can pay to anyone in broadcasting is, "I feel like I know you."
Dan Sullivan: Yeah, yeah. It's a relationship-building medium, and we've had podcasts on this particular topic, and I never try to sell anything on a podcast. My intent is not to sell anything. The only thing I'm trying to sell is, let's have a relationship. Let's have a daily relationship. Let's have an episodic relationship. And a lot of people don't get that because they want to sell something. And I think that when people feel they're being pitched to on a podcast, I think they cut off the connection.
Gord Vickman: Dan, let's give a little gift here for podcasters or those who think they might want to be starting. So pretend you're a chef in the kitchen and the recipe you're whipping up today is a great conversation for a podcast. So what are you stirring up in that pot? What makes a great conversation? What elements have to be in there, working in harmony, for two people to have an interesting, and the keyword is compelling, because if you can't be funny, be compelling. If you can't be compelling and funny, then stop talking. That's the old radio adage.
So you're stirring up a great conversation. In your opinion and what you've learned over decades of doing this, what goes into that pot? What needs to be there?
Dan Sullivan: Well, I've given some thought to this, and there was everything that was true before artificial intelligence came on the scene eight months ago, because I think artificial intelligence has changed how you talk about things and what you talk about. And I'm sure artificial intelligence is making its way into podcasting, and you're going to see all sorts of new AI-empowered capabilities for podcasting. So I'm very eager to hear the news when you come back from the World Congress on Podcasting in a couple of weeks.
But the thing that I would say, I think number one, they're looking for a relationship that they can depend upon in the course of their weekly life going forward, that they can always count on two things. Number one, that they learn something new, and number two, they're entertained. So that's what I think you're doing.
So if I'm a chef, one thing I want to do is to know I'm trying to create a relationship. And there's two things that people do that they really learn about new foods that they like, and the food you're serving that day they really like. And if you can do those two things, you got yourself a long-term relationship.
Gord Vickman: Dan, I made something up. I call it the pub creep test. Nobody gave me permission to make this up. I just made it up. If you're listening and you want to steal it, please do so. The pub creep test is this. There are lots of people who have podcasts and they feel that because they are sitting in a room that looks very official, it's a studio, they have a microphone, it's being recorded and published somehow that the conversation now has gravitas because they're recording it. There's a microphone in front of me. Remove all that studio junk and ask yourself, if I'm sitting at a pub having this conversation with this person or this group of people, would anybody want to eavesdrop on this conversation from our pub table, whether they're interested or not? That's something that you can ask yourself and be honest with yourself.
Would anybody want to eavesdrop on this conversation if they're overhearing it at the next table at a pub? The pub creep test. And like I said, be honest with yourself. Don't assume that because you have studio gear in front of you that what you're saying is automatically relevant and interesting, and everyone has a duty to listen to you just because you published it. If it doesn't pass the pub creep test, then it's probably not an interesting conversation, and it's probably only interesting to you and the people you're sitting at the pub with right now. Would people want to eavesdrop on this? Ask yourself that question.
Dan Sullivan: Yeah, I think that's a really great one. We've gone casual as a result of COVID, the lockdowns during COVID. I notice going to restaurants after COVID, people are dressing down, and the reason is that they got used to dressing down during COVID, and they reworked what was really worth it in their life and getting dressed up got eliminated. I have a closet full of suits and jackets that was pre-COVID that have not been worn since COVID. The only time I did it was where I was suing somebody and I had to show up for a deposition, and my lawyer said, "It would probably be appropriate for you to have a jacket and tie on." So I followed his rules, but looking back, I wouldn't do it again. I don't think it added anything to the value of my performance and deposition. As a matter of fact, if I hadn't been dressed up, I think I would've been more alert to what was going on.
The second thing is, so as a result of COVID, I think everything's gone casual. So people like the sound of just ordinary, interesting conversations. They don't like prepared speeches, they don't like being talked at, because government was talking at us, the health officials were talking at us, and we've developed a real grudge against people who talk at us and then make rules to change our lives that is onerous and uncomfortable and makes no sense whatsoever.
So I think broadcasting has taken a hit as a result of COVID because we suspect if someone is talking at us, it's not for our good. So that's one thing is that things have gone very casual. And I think the second thing, and this is a result of AI, is that people are now making their conversations interesting. They're making their writing, they're making their interactions more interesting so that they don't sound like it was created by AI.
Gord Vickman: And I guess podcasting would be that happy medium between a sea foam tuxedo and a Metallica t-shirt.
Dan Sullivan: Yeah.
Gord Vickman: It's interesting people saying interesting things, and that's what I like to listen to.
Dan Sullivan: Yeah, and nobody cares. I mean, we're used to people being just totally casual, having t-shirts on, having some interesting saying on the t-shirt, something that is just fascinating on their t-shirt, and that people seem to be at home, they seem to be at home. They're not doing a presidential debate, they're just doing it.
And the other thing is, we don't like arguing because society has gone polar, it's gone polar. There's extremes there, and we don't mind discussing things, but we've taken a real dislike to people who are attacking each other. We've taken a real dislike to people being judged, people being... Their value as a human being being questioned and everything like that. We just don't want to have that kind of experience in our daily lives.
It's very interesting, one of our clients is formerly one of the top hostage negotiators for the FBI, 10, 15 years ago, and has been in some really, really hairy situations around the world and really, really dangerous places. But his training, one of the things he did for training was volunteer as a crisis center call-in, people feel like committing suicide. And what you have to do is just instantly communicate that you're someone they can trust. Because the reason why they commit suicide is because they feel isolated in a world where they can't trust anyone. So he said, the first thing you have to do is create this relationship. And then the second thing he did, he spent hours after hours listening to recordings of late night jazz DJs, and this is from September 26. This is 1967, it's Ahmad Jamal and always a pleasure listening to Ahmad Jamal and his drummers and so and so. It's just very slow, low, very intimate syrupy voice, okay?
Gord Vickman: It's caramel.
Dan Sullivan: So he combined the crisis center because a hostage-taking situation as a crisis, especially for the person who's the hostage taker. The other thing is, this is Chris Voss, a great, great thinker about this type of situation. I mean, there's a whole team. One person shows up as a hostage taker, but a whole team shows up and they have psychiatrists there. They have veteran people who've done this before. And that doesn't go on forever. It's not, they're on the phone 24 hours. It's just short bursts when you check in because they make a demand of some sort. But when he first starts, he says, "I guess this day isn't turning out the way you wanted it."
And then the guy says, "No, I mean, what a mess. The week's been a mess. My life's been a mess. And this is just another thing." And he says, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So big thing here is, we got to figure out what we're going to do together as we go forward on this." The guy says, "Well, I want a car in an hour or I'm going to start killing hostages." And he says, "A car? I don't know how to get a car. Can you give me any advice on how I can order a car up for you? I've never done that before." And the guy said, "You don't know how to get, you're the FBI." He said, "No, no, I'm just very, very low on the totem pole here." He says, "I got a job just to kind of call you and see what's going on and see what you're thinking about and everything."
And within about a certain period of time, this guy has realized that the person he's talking to is kind of low on the totem pole person who's very empathetic is the only thing standing between him and the SWAT team, because outside, there are about five guys who they just don't feel they've had a good day unless they've shot somebody that day. So the big thing is, I think there's a lot to learn from that from the standpoint of podcasting. You're not on to impress people with how smart you are. You're not on to sell something. You're not on to preach at them. Podcasts just rejects that type of human activity.
Gord Vickman: I met Chris Voss for the first time at a Genius Network event. This was years ago. And I walked up and introduced myself and I said, "Chris," my icebreaker was, "Chris, I think I owe you $5,000." And he paused and he said, "Now why do you owe me $5,000?" with that sort of FM gravelly... And he kind of squinted, "Why do you owe me $5,000?" I said, "I read your book twice before I bought a car. And I talked the guy out of $5,000," and he stopped and he goes, "That's really great." I'm like, this guy is the coolest cucumber in the garden, unflappable. He's like, "That's really great."
Dan Sullivan: You did the right thing to engage his interest, and he showed you appreciation.
Gord Vickman: "That's really great."
Dan Sullivan: And you just demonstrated some podcasting skills in that interchange. That would be a great way to start a guest if you had a guest on, say, I mean, you started a previous podcast with my new book and you said, "I read this three times. I read this book three times." Well, that's great praise for the person. I mean, what guest would not be totally on your side after you started off a podcast with a comment like that?
Gord Vickman: Yeah, and I mean, he probably gets approached a million times a day, and I wanted to say something to differentiate, and I was being honest. I wasn't being-
Dan Sullivan: No, you weren't making up-
Gord Vickman: No. He literally saved me $5,000 from reading his book twice.
It's podcasting's 20th birthday. We thought it'd be fun to give some podcast listeners just a few quick factoids here. As we kicked off the show, it was July 9, 2003. The first podcast came out. iPodder was the first application you could use to subscribe to RSS feeds. A Guardian journalist, Ben Hammersley coined the word podcast in February 2004. Apple introduced podcast to iTunes June 2005. 42% of Americans now listen to at least one podcast every month. There are 4.1 million podcasts available. And podcasts earn $1.8 billion in ad revenue. That's a little top line of the ecosystem as far as this medium is concerned. Dan, I thought we could wrap with, I know you don't like making bold predictions. I remember one of my favorite things you've ever said. We were at a table in Los Angeles for Peter Diamandis, his A360, and one of our team members, they were talking about flying cars. And so one of our team members turned to you and she was asking, "Blah, blah, blah. Would you think you'd have a flying car? You think it's going to be all about flying cars, but you can have a flying car. You think they're going to take over?" And you just said, "I don't know. I don't make flying cars."
You said, "I don't make predictions unless I make that thing. I don't know if flying cars are going to take over. I don't even make flying cars." But you do make podcasts, Dan Sullivan, and if you look forward to the industry, if people are doing it right, what do they need to continue doing? Or maybe what do they need to stop doing?
Dan Sullivan: Yeah, it's a really great question because you alerted me that this was the topic. I gave some thought to it, and I think that I'll be 80 next year, and by the time we're 90, I think we'll still be doing the same podcast with constant improvements. But I think that you'll be able to say in 1990 that we have a hundred million listeners, regular listeners, for our eight to 10 different podcast series. And that growth in podcast audience is totally reflective in the number of registrations we're getting in to the Strategic Coach.
But the other thing is that in creating the podcast, which I just said, let's say it's a thousand podcasts by the time I'm 90, which is 2034, that I will have created, just because of the deadline and the objective of creating a new podcast, I will have purposely created a thousand new ideas that can be translated into thinking tools to expand the power of The Strategic Coach Program.
And that at least half of those ideas will have been copyrighted, trademarked, and 500 of them will have become patents just because of the new ideas and just because of the requirement that I had to prepare for a thousand new podcasts to a hundred million listeners by 2034. So, that much I can predict. I'm pretty good on my predictions about my own results.
Gord Vickman: And you can listen to that in your flying car.
Dan Sullivan: And at the same time, I think that there's going to be an incredible array of new technological improvements to podcasting over those.
Gord Vickman: Agreed.
Dan Sullivan: Because that much I can always predict about anything is that there will be constant technological changes and constant exploration, constant experimenting, constantly finding the technology will improve enormously and we will benefit.
Gord Vickman: There were limitations which prevented people in the past from doing what we're doing today and from preventing those listening from enjoying what we're doing. Others I'm speaking of because there were technological problems. They didn't know how to do this. They didn't know how to do that well, how to do this. And as you mentioned, Dan, there are AI tools that are on the market right now, and there are always new ones coming out that are just shaving away all of those issues that someone with limited technical know-how might have. So what we have here is, we have a calm blue ocean. If you have something to say and you want to say it, there's nothing stopping you. So we encourage you to go and do that right now.
Dan Sullivan: Yeah.
Gord Vickman: Dan, any final thoughts?
Dan Sullivan: No. I'm so pleased that I met you.
Gord Vickman: Feeling's mutual.
Dan Sullivan: It's like the end of the movie Casablanca, we're Humphrey Bogart and Claude Rains. He was the French police captain or police colonel, and he says, "I think this is the start of a beautiful relationship."
Gord Vickman: Podcast Payoffs. We're glad you're with us today. Thank you so much for joining us. Podcasts are free, but they're not. You pay with your time. We're glad you were with us today.
If you like this episode, share it with someone. Share it with two, three people, four or five people, as many people as you think would benefit from this and gain value from it. And we are available on the Strategic Podcast Network proudly along with Dan's other podcasts, Strategic Podcasts with an s, strategicpodcasts.com. That's where you can find our entire family of shows. There's something for everyone.
Entrepreneurs, we talk about marketing, we talk about technology, we do insights, and a peek behind the curtain here at Strategic Coach, and you can find everything you're looking for at strategicpodcasts.com. Dan, it's always a pleasure and onto the next.