How I Produce a Podcast

Choosing to learn in public is the best career decision I’ve ever made. 

I started my podcast as a 22-year old. In less than four years, I’ve interviewed astrophysicists like Neil deGrasse Tyson, entrepreneurs like Claire Lehmann, creators like Sara Dietschy, actresses like Jennifer Morrison, and writers like Seth Godin. Many of my guests have become friends. Tiago Forte became my business partner and my single biggest intellectual influence, while Tyler Cowen has given me three career-accelerating grants. Today, my podcast serves as one of the largest marketing channels for my online writing school: Write of Passage

The best part about hosting a podcast is having in-depth conversations with people you’d never otherwise meet. The same people who ignore an email about “picking their brain” are delighted to explain their worldview to you with a microphone in front of them. If they like the interview, they’ll promote it on your behalf, which will grow your audience and attract future guests. 

I’ve now recorded more than 100 episodes. During that time, I’ve refined the way I prepare, produce, and promote interviews. In this article, I’ll describe that process in extreme detail. If you run a podcast, I encourage you to download the templates and implement the systems I share in the screenshots. 


Preparation

My preparation process has two phases: ambient and active. I usually interview people I’ve been learning from for a long time, not because I want to interview them but because I’m interested in their work. The ambient phase begins before I know it when I’m reading a future guest’s book or listening to one of their interviews out of curiosity. During this ambient phase, I’m constructing a model of their worldview and a sense for why they’re interesting. The active phase begins when I contact them to formally invite them on the podcast. 


Contact:

When I started the podcast, I had no email list and an audience of less than 1,000 Twitter followers. I contacted guests through cold emails, direct messages on Twitter, and personal introductions. Contact people directly if you can. Almost everybody, no matter how powerful they are, reads their personal email. If you can’t find somebody’s email with a Google search, find their personal website or the website of the company they work for. Then, send emails to the following addresses:  

  • First letter in first name @ website URL 
  • First name @ website URL
  • First name.Last name @ website URL
  • Last name @ website URL 

The likelihood that somebody will agree to an interview hinges on the quality of your email. Good emails are short and personal. They get straight to the point and show the recipient that you’re familiar with their work. Start your email with 1-2 sentences of specifics about what you like about their work and explicitly state that you want them to come on your podcast. 

When I emailed Tyler Cowen, I demonstrated familiarity with his work by mentioning his interviews with Ben Sasse and Camille Paglia. Then I mentioned his polymathic approach to learning and sparked interest by introducing conversation topics I knew he’d enjoy. If I were to re-write this email, I would have been more specific. I would have talked about the intonation of a question he asked in a recent interview or a story he discussed in one of his books.

You can also increase your chances of contacting a big-name guest by emailing them before a book tour. Many authors reject podcast appearances until they release a new book. Once the book goes on sale, they accept a massive volume of interviews in a short amount of time. Knowing this, I spend a lot of time following book announcements. You can find new releases on Amazon or at your neighborhood book store, and the best strategy is to go a step further and look for books coming out in 3-6 months. Email authors right when you hear they’re launching a new book. When you do, offer to record the podcast early but release it when the book comes out. 

Twitter is an even more effective way to contact people. The best part about having somebody follow you on Twitter isn’t that they read your tweets. It’s that once they hit the follow button on your profile, you can direct message them. 

A small percentage of people also keep their direct messages open on Twitter for people who don’t follow them. It’s a less crowded channel than email so reach out to people on Twitter whenever you can. Your success rate will be particularly high for people who’ve been following you for a while and already engage with your tweets. If you haven’t established a relationship, start engaging with theirs. Once you’ve established a connection, keep your invitation brief because by definition, they already know who you are. Chances are they’ll know about your podcast too. 

Some of your guests will take years to attract. I first asked her to come on the podcast in 2018, but didn’t receive a response.

Keep your message short. Know that the recipient will see your message and look at your profile before responding to you. They will look at your follower count, profile picture, and the quality of your tweets before they respond. While your follower count is mostly out of your control, you can boost your chances of a response with a professional-looking picture and high-quality tweets.

Back when my audience was small, and I first started writing online, I asked every guest for a personal introduction to a friend they thought I should interview. For example, Meagan Cignoli led me to Meagan Morrison, who led me to Greg Rosborough. If you’re going to ask people for introductions, be clear about the kinds of people you want to interview. From the beginning, I wanted to interview well-spoken investors and entrepreneurs who loved to learn. 

If I could describe economics in a sentence, I’d say that the easier it is to do something, the more people will do it. So if you want people to make introductions to their friends, write an introductory email they can copy and paste. Besides saving your guest time, you will introduce yourself better than the other person ever could. Make it short. Add context with hyperlinks instead of additional sentences.

But having a small audience is not an excuse. If you’re looking at me and saying “I give up because his audience is so much bigger than mine,” you shouldn’t. That’s how I feel about people like Joe Rogan but I’ve been able to figure it out. Recently, I was talking to a YouTuber who felt like an imposter because he only had 1 million subscribers. No matter where you are on your journey as a creator, there is always somebody with a bigger audience than you. It’s a law of the Internet that no matter what kind of audience you want to build, it is not too late. 


Questions:

Derek Sivers has an article called “I’m a Slow Thinker.” When somebody invites him on a podcast, he asks the host to send them questions months in advance. He spends hours writing from different perspectives before choosing the most interesting answer. Then, once the recording begins, he tries to make his answers sound spontaneous. 

Here’s why he does it: “People say that your first reaction is the most honest, but I disagree. Your first reaction is usually outdated. Either it’s an answer you came up with long ago and now use instead of thinking, or it’s a knee-jerk emotional response to something in your past.”

He’s observed that his best answers come after he’s had some time to think about it from experience. The same is true for me, but I’ll go a step farther. Even my mid-conversation epiphanies are juicer when I’ve had time to think about what I’m going to talk about before-hand. 

When I started podcasting, I thought it wasn’t kosher to tell people what we were going to discuss. That obsession came from college, where I worked for the school news station and studied investigative journalism. But lively, trust-filled conversations represent an alternative to got-you-style-reporting where people share their best ideas openly. In that way, podcasts are like a dance. The host leads, the guest follows, and both people are trying to create a beautiful experience for themselves and a worthwhile one for their audience. 

I try to write questions that catch the guest off guard. In a respectful way, never a hostile one. And not because the questions are sharp, but because they inspire an epiphany. Luckily, the bar is low. The majority of podcast hosts ask the same mind-numbing questions like “Tell me about how you started your company” and “what is a mistake you made, and how did you rebound from it?” They’re too conventional to be interesting. It’s better to speak to your guest’s specific interests. For example, I asked Nadia Eghbal to make the case for buying a sports car after she purchased one, Tyler Cowen to talk about why he only eats three bites of ice cream, after I found Claire Lehmann’s forgotten GoodReads profile, I asked her to talk about her top-rated book: The Custom of the Country. None of my guests had ever talked about these topics on a podcast. Since these questions were unique and surprising, they all elicited an engaging response. 

Questions from my conversation with Grant Sanderson. Adding references to each bullet point helps me remember the context of the question, which improves the quality of my question.

As masters of surprise, good interviewers know how to create an environment where their guests say as many insightful things as possible — that they’ve also never shared in public. The art of asking questions is about unlocking knowledge inside the interviewer that they’ve never shared publicly and often, never even knew they knew. 

Good questions remind me of oil fracking, where people dig vertically and then horizontally. Asking basic questions is like looking for oil on the topsoil. You’re not going to find it there. Whenever I think of a question, I “dig vertically” by thinking of two ways to make it more specific, and “horizontally” by adding a unique perspective. 

  • Original question: what’s your favorite novel? 
  • Fracking vertically #1: what’s your favorite economics book?
  • Fracking vertically #2: what’s your favorite microeconomics book?
  • Fracking horizontally: what does your favorite novel teach us about microeconomics? 

I struck the oil of a unique question by fracking into the original question the guest has probably never been asked before. There’s some nuance though. No matter how many questions I send, the best questions are unpredictable because they follow-up on a previous answer. Listen for the golden silences in conversation when people express themselves in the absence of words, often through their eyes or breath.

As Patrick O’Shaughnessy once wrote: “The clues to what each person loves most are usually buried in another answer… People usually have a sort of default script that they follow, and the best stuff is when you go off-script and look for things that are surprising, counterintuitive, unusual.” Listen for speech patterns that imply that somebody wants to talk about a topic more. When the energy in their voice rises when they’re talking about something, explore it. If they say something like “it’s kind of a tangent, but…” or “we can come back to that later in the podcast,” ask them about it right away. 

As helpful as they are, follow-up questions don’t work until the guest trusts you. Only then does the guest hear a generous curiosity in your voice instead of an antagonistic one. 


Production

Setup: 

Invest in good audio. My biggest professional regret is not investing in audio quality sooner. I had no disposable income when I started the podcast, but I should have realized how much its success hinged on audio quality. Lesson learned. People can ignore bad video, but bad audio quality will drive them crazy.

After four years of rickety sound, my audio technology is now top-notch. For a microphone, I use the Shure SM7B Cardioid, which is the same one that Joe Rogan uses. I control the audio levels with a Behringer UMC204HD audio interface and improve the audio quality with a Cloudlifter CL-1. To make things easy for myself, I also use a RODE PSA 1 Swivel Mount which is an easy-to-use microphone stand that swings around my desk so I can adjust the position of my microphone as needed. It’s an expensive setup, but I’ve never had trouble with it.

Now that the podcast is getting more popular, I’m adding video. I record every conversation on Skype using Call Recorder. The audio quality sometimes lags, so I ask guests to record the files locally on their computer and send them to me after we speak. QuickTime for Macs, Sound Recorder for PCs. That way, the audio quality isn’t impacted by a slow internet connection. 

For my guests, I created a page with the setup details for every show. It explains where people can find the podcast, contact my team, find my social media channels, and set up their computer for remote recording. I refer them to the Notion page whenever a guest has questions, where they can find the answer they’re looking for 95% of the time. 

Like a trip to the Four Seasons, we want to make the guest experience as seamless as possible. A guest should never feel confused. If they do, it’s our fault. We confirm the podcast recording via email 24 hours before every podcast and email a “Guest Page” with essential details, such as contact and recording information. Depending on the guest, I often send another follow-up email 15 minutes before the podcast with the most relevant information. If guests are anything like me, they won’t read our first email until 5 minutes before the podcast recording and that second reminder will sit right at the top of their inbox.

See the whole sample guest page here.

Interviewing:

If you want to become a good interviewer, develop a desperate need for knowledge. As an interviewer, your job is to get guests to say as many insightful things as possible — that they‘ve also never shared in public. Your conversation doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Listeners can search all your guest’s interviews, so you should discuss fresh topics. 

When it comes to explicit interviewing styles, I think of podcasts on a 2×2 axis. One axis is focused on learning vs. entertainment, and the other is about hanging out versus interviewing. There are successful podcasts in every corner, but I want the podcast to be 90% learning-focused and 70% interview-focused. 

I want listeners who are focused on the conversation, which is why I try to pack such a density of insight into each episode. I don’t want listeners who are halfway engaged. I want ones who take notes on every episode and publish their summaries. Every episode is geared towards helping the reader learn as much as possible, and the interview-heavy format keeps me focused on my guest without silencing my personality too much. 

An interview is like a conversation, but they’re not the same thing. A conversation is an unplanned ping-pong of ideas between two people. An interview is like a performance, designed to illuminate how somebody’s brain works. In a conversation, you talk whenever you feel like it. But in an interview, you only talk when you need to. 

Silence is one of the biggest differences. In conversation, people are quick to fill up moments of quiet. When one person stops talking, the other person begins. Sometimes, people even talk over each other. But interviews are different. Resist the temptation to speak right when your guest comes to a pause because many of their greatest epiphanies sit on the other side of that silence. After an extended pause, guests are likely to share fresh ideas because they wouldn’t have paused if they knew what they were going to say next. 

Here’s what Robert Caro, one of America’s greatest biographers, said about silence:

Silence is the weapon, silence and people’s need to fill it – as long as the person isn’t you, the interviewer. When I’m waiting for the person I’m interviewing to break a silence by giving me a piece of information I want, I write “SU” (for Shut Up!) in my notebook. If anyone were ever to look through my notebooks, he would find a lot of “SUs” there.

Let your guest break the silence. Don’t worry too much about silence in the final podcast. Silences are easy to delete in post-production, and most podcast players automatically skip through silences. 

Don’t try to sound smart by talking a lot. Instead, display your brilliance by asking intelligent questions a listener would’ve never thought to ask. That doesn’t mean you should let the silences linger. Silence is like fire. A little bit is healthy and helpful, but too much is deadly and destructive. Too much will kill the momentum of the conversation. Although you can cut the gaps in post-production, they will zap the conversation’s energy. 

Listen for things that surprise you. Sometimes, that means you should surrender to the tangents of your guest. If they’re excited about something that seems important, but you don’t quite understand why, roll with them. Though you’re in charge of the conversation as the host, it’s often good to let your guest lead and watch where they take you. Tangents are the spice of conversation, so entertain them without letting them drag. Take back the lead once they lose momentum.

Sometimes, listening for surprise requires a friendly skepticism. The kind of that comes from a place of wonder, not a place of conflict. When I interviewed Claire Lehmann, she argued that childhood education should focus on learning facts. Based on my model of education, that seemed like a terrible idea. When I asked for clarification, she shared stories about child psychology and how her son uses YouTube. Though her answer didn’t convince me, that intellectual adventure was a highlight of the podcast. 

Asking the right, specific question is like walking through the wardrobe in The Chronicles of Narnia, which opens into an expansive world of adventure and serendipity. Clouded by a culture of false modesty, people in our society are afraid to talk about what makes them exceptional. Ask a writer about how they do research, and instead of talking about how hard they work or how they were born with a knack for speed reading, they’ll share platitudes like “you just have to read a lot.” But spend enough time with a writer and you’ll see how much their strategies vary. Tyler Cowen is a hyperlexic which means he can read 3-5 books in a single evening with better recall than the average person. This discovery process is inefficient because he follows so many rabbit holes that don’t amount to anything. But he says it’s a comparative advantage because other writers aren’t willing to create the space for such an unpredictable discovery process. These are juicy answers, but you can only find them with concrete questions. The more specific your question, the more your guest can give an answer that reveals their exceptionalism but would otherwise sound pretentious. 

Preparation will keep you calm, but the best moments in conversation will happen when you’re in unexplored territory. You know you’re in unmapped space when your guest begins to lead the conversation. As an interviewer, you can’t possibly prepare for this moment, so you should follow your guest towards novel ideas they’ve never discussed in public. At that point, you will transcend the plane of ordinary conversation. As control shifts from the mind to the heart, your guests can discover things they never knew they knew. You know it’s time to pull out of the tangent when the conversation is constrained by language itself. You’ve exhausted the idea when your guest can’t find the words for what they want to say. When that happens, it’s your turn to lead the dance again. 


Post-Interview:

Every interview ends with a deep breath. When I interview people in person, guests receive a second wave of ideas after the microphone turns off. At times, I’ve asked for their permission to hit record again, and they usually say yes. 

Digital recordings are different. Both people want to move on with their conversation once it’s over. The local audio recording is the only thing I need from guests. Then, I ask if they’d like me to send the conversation for review before it goes live. That’s it. 

Once the guest signs off, I open a production page with all the information my team will need to edit, publish, and promote the podcast. The worksheet takes time, but it reduces all back-and-forth among our team. I start by recording an introduction to the podcast while the conversation is still fresh. It includes a short bio and a summary of what we discussed. Then, I upload the files to Dropbox and link to them on my production page. 

I designed the sheet with editing in mind. I add all the audio files: guest recording, host recording, and the guest introduction. Podcast editing is much easier when the two audio files are separate, so I try not to send files with both our voices on it. The audio levels usually need to be adjusted in different ways on each track, but that’s only possible if they are separate. Separate audio tracks also make it easy for engineers to remove parts of the podcast where we talk over each other. 

For edits, I work with an engineer whose edits are based on my style guide. One of my favorite obscure PDFs is called 11 Laws of Showrunning. While it was created to produce excellent movies and TV shows, it inadvertently doubles as a guide for podcast hosts. My favorite insight is that when you lead a creative team, you should give them a concrete vision. As screenwriter Javier Grillo-Marxuach author writes:

“As a showrunner, you must communicate your vision so that everyone understands it, and then preach it, day in and out, to the point of exhaustion until everyone feels it in their soul like a gospel. And here’s the great part of successfully communicating a shared vision: your employees will love you for it.”

Be clear about what you need. Describe the path towards success. Too many creatives are fuzzy about what they want because they don’t do the hard work up-front of describing their vision so the people who work for them can know exactly what they need. Instead, they don’t give feedback until the people working for them spend hours on a project that’s going in the wrong direction. When people work hard on discarded projects, morale drops.

To heed these lessons, I created a style guide for my editor. Together, they illustrate a unified feel for every episode and describe the kinds of sections that should be removed for every episode. I want to attract creators and high-powered people, so the podcast should be fast-paced and dense with ideas. The episodes should feel as relevant in two years as they are today, so we remove ideas that will age the podcast. For example, as we created this style guide, we removed a section from the Sara Dietschy episode where we speculated about the Coronavirus back when the news cycle was changing every 12 hours, and the fiasco peaked in confusion. Then, there’s the little things. There are many times where I’m listening to the guest so intently that I forget to think of a question. When that happens, I take a while to warm up to the question I want to ask, so we remove the filler before the heart of what I’m trying to say.

For my production manager, I start by linking to all the video files. That way, she can edit the videos and publish them to YouTube. To upload files to my website, I link to the guest’s headshot and a written podcast summary. I also add 2-4 recommended links with a one-paragraph summary of each one, which I share in a weekly podcast promotion email. I end by writing down where the best quotes from the podcast will be. They tell my team where to look for quotes I can share in my Twitter thread and short clips we can publish on YouTube. 

The post-podcast page takes 30-45 minutes, but once I finish it, I don’t need to think about the podcast again until it’s live. It also gives my team of two people all the information they need to produce the weekly promotion email, which I simply proofread before sending it on Wednesdays. Even if you aren’t able to hire a team, collecting essential information into a single location will save you time and make you organized.

Description for my interview with Claire Lehmann.
Links from my interview with Eric Jorgenson.
Potential quotes from my interview with Morgan Housel.

Promotion

My podcast promotion system falls into three buckets: email, YouTube, and Twitter. Email is the stickiest platform I use. Most of my tweets are seen by ~20% of my audience, but even with 40,000 subscribers, my emails have more than a 50% open rate. That makes it my most effective communications channel and the hub of my digital life.

Email: 

I’m in frequent communication with my email subscribers, mostly through my two weekly newsletters: Monday Musings and Friday Finds. From those newsletters, they can opt-in to hear more about Write of Passage, which fuels the entire operation. 

For years, I shared my podcasts on my main email lists: Monday Musings and Friday Finds. Even though they received good distribution, they were often lost amidst other ideas. The format didn’t allow me to share the best segments from the podcast such as quotes and links to further reading. I wanted to remedy the situation with a weekly podcast email but didn’t have the time to write another weekly email. To create it, I sat down with my production manager at brunch. We had one guideline: produce an excellent podcast email with little time investment. Doing so meant that instead of creating new assets, we’d get more out of the ones we already created. With them, we wanted to create an email that was more than an announcement. We envisioned a learning destination, filled with quotes and links that aren’t available anywhere else.  

First, we wrote a list of assets we could create for every episode, at a low cost: full YouTube video, 3-5 YouTube clips, and a full transcript. Then, we created a list of ideas to share in the weekly email: quotes, key concepts, the description, links to YouTube clips, and further reading. Crucially, none of these assets require additional time investment from me. All these are byproducts of the time I spend preparing for episodes and recording the podcast. An insightful 1-minute clip can become the basis of a tweet, the subject of a YouTube video, a section of my newsletter, and a quote I can reference in a future essay. 

Most podcast listeners subscribe to way more episodes than they can listen to. We can use my listening behavior as a case study. I subscribe to more than 30 podcasts but only listen to a few regularly, but I’d be more likely to listen if the hosts of my favorite shows send me an email to accompany new releases.

In anticipation of this weekly email, I’ve been collecting emails from podcasts listeners who want to receive an email every week under an “Interested in the Podcast” tag in my email distribution system. I’ve held off sending the first email because until now, I haven’t found a time-efficient way to construct the email. Each email was 2-4 hours of work because before I hired a podcast producer, I didn’t have any existing assets to pull from, such as quotes and YouTube videos. Nor did I want to copy and paste existing assets such as the show notes on my website. The email was only worth sending if it broke new ground and accomplished a goal that wasn’t executed elsewhere.

I tell my Write of Passage students to turn their intellectual residue into a useful weekly email. If you’re an active information consumer, send a newsletter with the best things you’ve found recently. By doing so, you can get more mileage from the time you’re already devoting to learning. You’ve already done most of the work for an exceptional newsletter. With 30 minutes of extra work, you can polish up those ideas and share them. 

Making productive use of intellectual residue is like adding burnt ends to a Bar-B-Que meal. I first learned about them when I ate at Joe’s gas station joint in Kansas City. For years, chefs tossed the burnt ends in the trash because they were too charred to sell. One day, the owners at a restaurant called Arthur Bryant’s handed the ends to customers waiting in line. The favor didn’t cost them much because they would have otherwise thrown them away. But that hold-me-over snack forever changed Kansas City barbeque. The idea became a trend in 1972. Across the city, chefs trimmed off the brisket tip, re-sauced them, and put them back under the fire until the slices were charred. Today, burnt ends sell out faster than any other item on the menu.

My weekly podcast email is a “Burnt End Asset.” Just because you’re not creating it from scratch doesn’t mean it can’t be profitable. Consider Amazon. From 2005-2015, the company turned its Burnt End costs into delicious revenue streams. Jeff Bezos turned fulfillment expenses into Fulfillment by Amazon, marketing costs into Amazon Prime, and technology costs into Amazon Web Services. Through those efforts, the company turned $18 billion of investment into $239 billion of value — a 33% annual rate of return.

Inspired by Amazon’s business growth, each section of the email is like a cost center that I want to turn into a revenue stream. Instead of doing a bunch of new work to create new ideas, I can re-package existing assets such as the quotes we already collect and put on the website, the clips we already edit and upload to YouTube, or the production document I complete after every interview.


YouTube:

Easy video recording is one of the advantages of recording podcasts digitally. Setting up video and audio for in-person podcasts used to take 30 minutes per episode, not to mention the energy I burned lugging my equipment around New York City. With Skype, I open my computer one minute before I start recording, press a button, and the video automatically downloads. 

YouTube is an excellent podcast discovery engine. I listened to Joe Rogan clips on YouTube for months before listening to my first full episode. Then, when I do listen, I can picture Rogan and his guests because I can picture the recording studio and their facial expressions. If you choose to upload video, supplement the full recording with 3-5 highlight clips from each episode. Doing so will increase discoverability, especially for people who are new to your podcast. 

On YouTube, most of your views will come from the recommendations tab. People who look at your video have two key pieces of information: title and thumbnail. For your titles, focus on the topic of the video and your guest’s name. If your title mentions your podcast’s name, put it at the end of your title because people who aren’t familiar with you don’t care about the name of your show. Once your title is complete, anchor your thumbnail with a high-quality photo. If you can, ask your guest to pose for a photo that you can re-use for the thumbnail. If you choose to add text to your thumbnail, make sure it’s easy to read. Bright text over a dark background usually works best. If you really want to optimize, put your text on the left side of the thumbnail so the video length numbers on the bottom right of the YouTube thumbnail don’t cover the words. 

As you’ll see in the thumbnails below, the text is on the left and the image is on the right.

Source: Neil Patel

YouTube’s algorithms can extract much more information from text than video, so the more text-based information you can give the algorithm, the better it will understand your videos. Start your description with a 100-300 word summary of your video. Lower in the video, you can introduce yourself, encourage viewers to subscribe to your channel, and share links to your social media handles. For every video, you can also pin a message to the top of the comments section. I pin a link to my Monday Musings email list because it’s the best way for people to follow the show. 


Twitter:

Twitter is a difficult place to promote podcasts because it’s a text-based platform and the click-through rates to links are low. If you’re going to promote your podcast on Twitter, don’t just write “check out the new podcast I just published.” Nobody engages with those tweets. Instead, add your top quotes or takeaways to the tweet. 

Create a thread where people can explore key quotes and high-level ideas from your podcast. Quotes are simple because you don’t need to flex your creative muscles to share them. You simply need to transcribe what the guest said. To do that, I recommend Otter. Don’t worry about oversharing. The number of people who don’t know about your podcast is much bigger than the number of people who feel like they got everything they needed from a summary. 


The Future of My Podcast

Ultimately, I’m working towards a Personal Monopoly in the podcast world. Jerry Garcia once said: “You want to be the only person who does what you do.” That applies to podcasts too. 

My favorite example is Krista Tippett, host of the On Being. She explores the spiritual life of writers, entrepreneurs, and religious figures with an emotional tenderness you won’t find on any other podcast. Every episode is a journey through the soul. The environment she creates is as contemplative as a meditation retreat and as homey as the stuffed animal you used to hug as a kid.

On the other side of the spectrum, Rhonda Patrick explores the intersection of health and performance. Where most people focus on the 20% of information that gets them 80% of the benefits, she focuses on the 80% of the information that gets them the final 20%. She’s published papers with titles like “Ubiquitin-Independent Degradation of Anti-Apoptotic MCL-1” and “Vitamin D and the Omega-3 Fatty Acids Control Serotonin Synthesis and Action, Part 2: Relevance for ADHD, Bipolar, Schizophrenia, and Impulsive Behavior.” But unlike other researchers, she can explain these complex topics to average people without diluting the rigor of her work. 

My podcast orients around a single question: How can you use the Internet to live a better life? Within that domain, my answers orbit around three themes: work, learning, and relationships. Within that box, I jump all over the place, from the principles of knowledge management to the mechanics of growing an email newsletter to how economic theory can influence your dessert order. The more I refine my Personal Monopoly, the more preparation, production, and promotion snap into place. 

How To Build Your Personal Monopoly

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Starting to write online was the single best professional decision I’ve ever made, by an enormous margin."

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