Something a little bit different this week. Instead of a one way interview, I had a conversation with Ryan Hildebrandt of The Maker’s Journey podcast.  In it we talked about starting our podcasts, why you should provide value, writing a book, building  a TEDx event from scratch, and much more.

Here are three things I learned by talking with Ryan:

Everything Starts Off as an Experiment

If you look around at all the wonderful things people are able to accomplish, you might believe they were meant to do it. For them, things go off without a hitch. Their work sells like hot cakes. They look calm, composed, and confident all the time.

What you don’t see is how they got there. You didn’t see them struggling. You didn’t see them speak timidly about their work. You didn’t see how they doubted themselves.

We all have this mistaken belief that other people are special. Ryan believes everything starts off as an experiment. “When you create something, it’s almost always… it’s is a bit of an experiment really. You’re never really sure how it’s going to turn out.”

That’s the exact conclusion I’ve come to by interviewing and talking to a lot of people. Everything starts off as an experiment. No one really knows what they are doing when they start. The key is getting started. Find the thing you want to create and start experimenting.

You Must Give Value to Get Value

One of the things that is often overlooked when we try to make something great is focusing too much on ourselves. Most of the time, we try to see how something will benefit us, but the real moments of magic happen when we put other people before ourselves.

That’s exactly what happened when Ryan decided to make a podcast. He could have been selfish and kept that knowledge to himself, but he didn’t. He chose to share the valuable lessons from other creators with his Marker’s Journey audience.

Ryan feels that when you add value to other people’s lives, wonderful and unexpected things happen. “I think when you create something that’s of value to a lot of people, opportunities come back to you, and you never really know what they’re going to be until it comes, but when you create something, you’re giving a gift. You get to provide value to a lot of different people.”

We Can Create Something Much Bigger Than Ourselves

My favorite part about chatting with Ryan was when he talked about starting his TEDx event. Ryan started the event because he wanted to do something cool, but he didn’t have a plan for it.

He thought throwing the event would act as proof for his ability to manage and run something. He also believed it would help build a network of interesting and successful people.

What he realized was, you can accomplish things much bigger than yourself if you ask for help. “It kind of showed me that it’s possible to do something that’s really really big, and that’s larger than yourself if you give yourself enough time to do it, and… if you’re willing to ask people for help.”

When Ryan started preparing for the event, he was the only one on the team. Things started slowly. He grew his list, but only had a handful of volunteers. That’s when the impostor syndrome crept into his mind. Would he be able to run a successful event? What if he couldn’t get good guests?

But then things started to change. His volunteer team grew from two people after one month to fifty people after three months. He had everyone from graphic designers to speaker liasons on the team.

What Ryan realized was, in order to achieve something big, you have to find the right people to help you. “It’s very possible to do something that’s that big if you are willing to ask the right people for help, really, and keep working at it, even when you have zero volunteers and your email list is ten people.”

Shownotes

00:51 “When you create something, it’s almost always… it’s is a bit of an experiment really. You’re never really sure how it’s going to turn out.”

  • first set of interviews Ryan did was with people he knew, then he asked guests if they knew anyone that could be on the show
  • Ryan’s podcast – The Maker’s Journey
    • the experiences of people who crate things
    • had topics he wanted to cover and dug deeper into answers
    • modeled after Tim Ferriss Show
    • never did anything to prepare for doing a podcast, just decided to do it
  • some questions you can turn to that have interesting answers
    • open-ended questions
    • ex: What was a moment of failure and how did you come back from it?
    • ex: How did things come to happen?
  • why we chose to podcast
    • Kevin – Cracking Creativity – creative projects/businesses
      • actors, musicians, artists, etc.
      • creativity as an open ended topic that applies to almost everyone
      • started podcast to show creatives what others have done, even if they aren’t doing the same thing as you
    • Ryan – The Maker’s Journey – people that have made things
      • rappers, tech, poets, founders, etc.
      • help people around the world make things
      • personal benefits of making things
        • people look at you differently
        • wants people to see the benefits of creating things
      • on a personal level he wanted to get better at interviewing/speaking
      • value of interviewing people vs. just asking to pick their brain
    • coming together to record podcast only a day before the conversation

9:50.8 “I think when you create something that’s of value to a lot of people, opportunities come back to you, and you never really know what they’re going to be until it comes, but when you create something, you’re giving a gift. You get to provide value to lots of different people.”

  • things learned while doing the podcast
    • most people don’t know what they are doing before they start doing it
    • you have to take the risk in order to see any results
    • Ryan used to think working harder would allow him to do things he was afraid of
      • do things while you’re still afraid of doing them, this will give you courage
      • re-framing things in your mind by starting and doing them
    • taking on a beginner’s mindset and growing from that point
  • starting up my podcast
    • grow an audience and talk to people who were interesting
    • connections you make are bigger than any metric you can measure
    • getting introductions through people you’ve interviewed and having people you can turn to for different projects/ideas
    • listening to podcasts and wanting to start my own
  • before the podcast
  • why Ryan started his podcast
    • creating a network of people
    • traveling in Myanmar and not working a 9-5 job
    • using podcast as a creative outlet
    • wanted to get better at speaking and asking better questions
    • being concise and precise with questions
    • what to ask that will lead to better answers
    • improving by learning from mistakes
  • finding guests for the show
    • in the beginning I reached out to people I knew and asked them if they knew anyone afterwards
    • went to different events to find people as well
    • World Domination Summit – for people who want to make a change in the world for the better
    • Ryan started off with the same strategies for getting his guests
    • both asking people to do a challenge at the end of our shows
    • having similarities despite not following each other’s podcasts
  • tips for starting a podcast
    • all you really need is something to record with (I use a Blue Yeti mic) and a place to host (I use Libsyn)
    • also have an intent before starting a show
    • interview style podcasts vs. storytelling podcasts
    • go with intent that doesn’t rely on a lot of people listening
    • only do it if you will continue doing it despite the metrics
    • have a secondary benefit – learning a skill or meeting interesting people
    • being surprised by who says yes to coming onto your show
    • guide to storytelling/narrative podcasts
    • interview podcasts are more of a conversation, storytelling podcasts tell a narrative with journalism and excerpts from other people you talk to
  • my upcoming book: We Are All Creative
    • this site being a way to help artists learn how to market their art
    • started a morning routine trying to write 100 words per day
    • ended up using a lot of quotes to fuel my writing
    • created art based on quotes and wrote about them
    • had 52 weeks worth of quotes & attached stories of creative people who embodied the idea behind the quote
    • completing the book took around two years to create
    • creating the quotes took a year, and writing about creative people took another year
    • creating the book has two benefits: it shows artists that creating and selling something is possible and it gives people lessons to learn to be successful
      • share art, stories or creative people, and principles behind success
      • allows me to talk about lessons learned and how to improve upon what I’ve done
      • gives me borrowed credibility through the success of other people
      • gaining credibility through podcasting on different topics
      • biographers gaining credibility by sharing someone else’s story
  • plans after creating the book
    • using the lessons to create course on how to sell a product/products
    • lessons from selling the book and principles behind how it was done
    • Ryan’s planned course for helping people get accepted for TED Talks
  • why Ryan ran a TEDx event (TEDx Leamington Spa)
    • wanted to do something cool, didn’t have an exact plan for it
    • building a network of people who are involved in TED Talks
    • wanted to strengthen his inner circle with interesting/successful people
    • also thought cool things would happen from running the event
    • use as proof of his ability to manage/oversee things
    • had a team takeover running the event
    • event took on a life of its own
    • has built a network of friends in different industries
  • how the event came into being
    • started with no team in January
    • first applied for license from TED
    • apply for a TEDx license
      • they want assurance that you will do a good job of representing their brand
      • a lot of factors go into accepting/rejecting a license
    • had to figure out how to build a team
    • built a website, social media accounts, etc.
    • created a volunteer signup form
    • posted in different groups and places
    • one month – 2 people, two months – 10, three months -50
    • started a volunteer team and made up things for them to do
    • wanted to get good speakers for the event
      • was worried he wouldn’t be able to get good people
      • was comparing himself to bigger conferences
      • had a speaker application process
    • had graphic designers and marketing people come in as well
    • by July he had a nine person team
    • had people in charge of everything from catering to decoration
    • gave himself as much time as possible to brainstorm what to do
    • took a team of around 40-50 people to put together the event

56:25 “It kind of showed me that it’s possible to do something that’s really really big, and that’s larger than yourself if you give yourself enough time to do it, and… if you’re willing to ask people for help.”

57:15 “It’s very possible to do something that’s that big if you are willing to ask the right people for help, really, and keep working at it, even when you have zero volunteers and your email list is ten people.”

  • everything starts with zero people or one person
    • evolving from the very beginning
    • impostor syndrome
    • getting past the very initial stages and building momentum
    • things being obvious only in hindsight
    • learning from failure
  • benefits of the event
    • before the event Ryan was looking for jobs at big tech companies
      • didn’t feel like he was qualified
    • after the event that’s all people wanted to talk to him about
    • got interviews he doesn’t believe he would have received otherwise
    • got invited to lunch with local Parliament rep at UK parliament
    • satisfaction of seeing it come to life and grow
    • a lot of energy goes into doing something new
      • finding sponsors, speakers having doubts, etc.
  • having a common cause or goal
    • whole is greater than the sum of its parts
    • event wouldn’t have happened without the help of a team
    • the ability to question the direction or ideas
    • variety of people adds new capability to a team
    • effectiveness of momentum and people with multiple skills
    • people are more willing to do things for you if you help them first

1:05:47 “It’s also encouraging that, if you set that vision, and you have an exciting project for people to all get behind, then you can get those people a lot easier than you think you can.”

  • influences/resources
    • Ryan
      • journaling – weekly review every Saturday for last 7 years
      • Tim Ferriss
        • living a life that is adventurous and cool
        • you don’t need to work a lot to live a fulfilling life
      • Ramit Sethi
        • living a rich life
      • Rework by Jason Fried
        • founder of 37 Signals
        • every chapter a couple of pages
        • lessons from starting businesses
    • Kevin
      • Chris Guillebeau also the founder of World Domination Summit
      • James Altucher
        • made and lost millions of dollars
        • Choose Yourself – not relying on gatekeepers and doing things for yourself
      • Unmistakable Creative podcast with Srinivas Rao
        • gets creative people to reveal the story behind the story
        • stories of how people rise above obstacles
      • Ryan Holiday

1:09:09 “I think one thing that has been really important for me is the quiet time paired with some kind of reflection on your week or your day.”

  • challenge for the listeners
    • Kevin: find the idea you’ve been thinking about and make the first step towards it
      • in Ryan’s case, his first step was applying for TEDx event
      • once you’ve made first step, take the next one, and continue on from there
    • Ryan: create a recurring calendar event for a weekly review
      • ask yourself two questions: What did I do that I’m proud of? &  What could I have done better/differently?
      • third question: How are things coming along? What have you done to move your project forward?
      • recurring event that never ends
      • helps you move forward and prevents you from feeling lazy/stalling
      • Tiny Habits developed by BJ Fogg
        • figure out what the smallest thing you can do
        • ex: flossing, start w/ one tooth, then two, etc.
        • also celebrate once you’ve accomplished your small goal
        • after a while, you won’t need the celebration aspect of Tiny Habits and it will become a habit

http://www.ryanhildebrandt.com/ | Facebook | The Maker’s Journey Podcast

Also check out Ryan’s notes for the episode.

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