Marco Arment on Podcasting (and competition) but Mostly the Podcasting Part

Oh goodness I loved this. I was there, in the audience, sitting with my friends, one of whom has a podcast, the artwork of which is prominently features on one of Marco’s slides.

I love this for several reasons.

1. Marco’s thoughts on podcasting. I am a podcaster. I love it. I feel this way about podcasting: up to now, it feels like the most natural thing I’ve ever done.

So I’m thrilled when a guy I admire, someone I think is much smarter than me, lauds podcasting as a beautiful, enriching, important and likely profitable thing. (See the quote below).

2. Marco’s openness about and investigation of his fears. He says “I’ve always been afraid of this.” But he doesn’t stop there. He also says, “so I asked myself, ‘why am I like this?'”

He a). realizes the stress level, the anxiety, the internal horror, b). does enough introspection to name it, and c). investigates why his self responds this way.

I’ve done some work of my own in this regard… but I’ve got things to learn from Marco in this regard because he doesn’t stop there.

3. He creates a business project in an attempt to get over his fear. Overcast forces him to swim upstream towards the fear he thinks isn’t true, isn’t necessary.

When we start businesses we think they’re forever. That’s what makes them exciting and horrifying. What if we thought about them as projects to learn and develop ourselves so our next thing is that much better? Yea, sounds la la, but I dig it.

4. “This succeeds or fails based on what I do with it.” Fuck stressing about the competition. Fuck stressing about market trends. Fuck trying to be like Steve Jobs. Engage yourself.

5. His closing thought:

I love this medium. This is so good. It really enables independent creative people and it’s fulfilling to listen to, fulfilling to make. I’m going to find it immensely satisfying to do anything I can to promote and improve and strengthen this world.”

Marco Arment

Frank Chimero on Marketing

I don’t expect to reach or change anybody I don’t already know. I realize there’s potential for that, but I don’t expect it.”

Frank Chimero

This has been rattling around my brain since I’ve heard it. In Fizzle I keep encouraging folks to think small, small, smaller. If you think about women who ride unicycles to work in north portland you can a). find those people easily (there are 10 of them), b). study and serve them well in small and meaningful ways that c). make a serious impact on that crew.

But in our online growing stuff — marketing stuff — for Fizzle and ThinkTraffic and, shit, even this blog, my mind defaults to “i need more people” mode.

Getting in front of new folks.

Making a good impression on them.

Creating an emotional experience with them on the page.

Making it easier and more enjoyable for them to find us.

But when I heard Frank say this I knew it was True™.

We still need to grow (maybe that’s another question to explore), but we can do it more like a family or a neighborhood than a “startup.”

Frank Chimero on the Bounty of Success

I now know that the work doesn’t last—and if it somehow does, it lasting doesn’t have much to do with me. The work went far because other people carried it. Disabusing myself of the idea that I did anything important or special has been really good for me. If the bounty of success is attention, and you feel like you don’t deserve that attention, then you have no responsibility to it. It has no power over you. That frees you up to take risks. If those risks pay off, then great. If they don’t: c’est la vie. At least you’re alive, tried something, and lived a little.”

Frank Chimero

Wow, what a great read. I have liked Chimero’s words for a while. Hearing some of his story, how he’s processing grief as a creative worker, only makes me a bigger fan. Here’s some other Frank posts I’ve written about.

How To Innovate

“Innovation” is a word we hear a lot… most of the times from baby boomers in quasi-tech environments… like my dad.

My dad always had “innovation” in his company’s tag lines. The word, for better or worse, is carved into my conscious mind.

I always thought: man, what a hard thing to do, innovating. Making something from nothing. Doing something no one’s ever done before.

Now that I’ve been designing and making and “innovating” for a while I see I had it all wrong. Innovation doesn’t come from nothing.

Innovation doesn’t come from thin air. It’s not something from nothing. Ex nihilo. (all that money on a theological education really paying off, right there).

Innovation comes from discovering what a thing actually is. It always starts with something and then goes deeper, closer to the core of what that thing is.

It’s not blue sky solutioneering or spit-balling. It’s, “hmm, I think people will actually behave this way, not that way…”

And that phrase shows up wherever innovation happens.

“People don’t want that. They ACTUALLY want this.”

“It’s not about that. It’s ACTUALLY about this.”

This is what happens in good stories. Darth Vader isn’t just a bad guy. He’s ACTUALLY (spoiler alert) Luke’s dad and deeply troubled about being a bad dad.

Crash Davis in Bull Durham isn’t an all star player. He’s ACTUALLY an all star coach.

It also happens in our own stories as we do the self discovery thing. In the Enneagram (ask me about it sometime) I thought I was the achiever but I’m ACTUALLY the enthusiast… that changed so much about how I saw myself.

We think we want freedom, but we ACTUALLY want connection and intimacy.

I thought the loss of my infant son would siphon the color from the world and grind me to a halt, but it ACTUALLY brought life into stark contrast, making me bold about what I wanted for my family.

And it happens in real businesses. I know we’re not supposed to use Apple as a business example… but whatever.

At the core of Apple is a delusional visionary yelling “people don’t want ____, they ACTUALLY want ____.”

People don’t want a computer. They ACTUALLY want to DO THINGS with a computer.

People don’t want to have to learn how to set this machine up. They ACTUALLY want to simply turn it on and start using it.

I’m remembering something Steve Jobs said in an interview about when he brought one of the first Macs to a party at John Lennon’s house (like you do). He said the old people wanted to know how it worked and the young people wanted to know what it did.

Apple did it again with the iPod. People don’t want CDs. They ACTUALLY want all their music with them wherever they go.

Innovation comes from understanding what the thing actually is in a new way. Ideally, it’s getting closer to what the thing truly is.

That’s why design is so important to all of us, because the discipline of design is the process of making a thing what it is. Design, according to Frank Chimero, asks us, “what does it want to be?”

With Apple the problem was the distance between humans and computers. Design is how you shrink the delta.

As a writer I design my story. First this. Then that. Redact this bit. Why? Because it’s not what the story is. Editing is design. Or vice versa.

Innovation through the design process is also in great advertising. The story you use to tell others what your thing “is” is critical… it’s the first impression, the handshake, the bit that clues someone in to if you you’re like them or not.

Those Chrysler ads with Eminem (I loved them so much) were saying: you think it’s just a car but it’s ACTUALLY the reclamation of american manufacturing.

This is a story. You don’t have to believe it, but that’s the hypothesis they posited.

Apples hypothesis was people don’t want to and shouldn’t have to learn anything. They want a cute and intuitive easiness. It was a hypothesis. There was no proof it would work.

It worked. It manufactured love. It altered the course of an industry.

What’s your hypothesis? What are you saying? Have you dug in deep enough to know what your thing is? What does your thing want to be?

I wish I had a secret for discovering what your thing is. Some people simply know when it’s not there yet. It’s a sense that it won’t come off the right way yet, we’re not at the heart of it yet. I think this is my only real great skill… I know when it’s not there yet. I don’t necessarily know how to get it there, but I usually have some ideas.

I don’t know if this is “taste” as Ira Glass put it, but I suspect it’s in the vicinity.

Innovation isn’t creating out of thin air. It’s always developing upon something, getting closer to the heart of something. Be disciplined in the process of exploring what a thing is. Not this, that. Over and over again.

When you discover — through the work — what the thing ACTUALLY is… that’s when your product begets the story begets the love.

And maybe more importantly: that’s when you’re standing on something solid and true… like the way I imagine the humans who invented the first tools to stand.

Shawn Coyle on The Known & Unknown Motivators

We don’t know that we’re searching for something called “self-actualization,” we just find ourselves perplexed by the fact that we have every “need” checked off our list, but still we find ourselves lacking. No matter what we chase as a “want” to solve that emptiness, we’re left unsatisfied. What Steve calls Resistance is a force that pushes us away from the big questions. […]

So stories of depth and meaning are those that progress to this ultimate mystery, this ultimate need. The lead character may consciously desire a want, but it is his unconscious need for self-actualization that pushes him to the limits of human experience. […]

But remember, like their human counterparts, your fictional protagonists will distract themselves in innumerable ways from contending directly with them. They chase wants not needs. And in most instances, they will not consciously understand or reconcile the need to know themselves (who they really are) until the very end of the story.”

Shawn Coyle

I love studying story so much because it a) helps me understand my own motivations, needs, and wants, b) helps me understand people in general better, and c) helps me make things and communicate about those things in better ways, ways that resonate harder.