How to Interview Your Heroes for Free
No matter what business you’re in, there are probably some leaders in your industry that you admire. They’re the movers and shakers of your industry. They’re the influencers. They’re the people who everyone in your industry seems to pay close attention to.
You follow these people on social media. You’re subscribed to their newsletter. You’ve read their book. You’ve watched them speak at a conference. And if you had the chance to chat with them one-on-one -- to ask them anything you want -- you would jump at the opportunity. Heck, you would probably even pay for that opportunity.
As an entrepreneur, there are certainly a ton of other entrepreneurs that I admire and enjoy learning from. And since 2013, I have had the privilege of interviewing more than one hundred of them, for free.
One of the entrepreneurs I’ve interviewed is Grant Cardone, a New York Times bestselling author, motivational speaker, investor and one of the top sales trainers in the entire world. Understandably, Cardone receives a lot of requests for his time. I once watched someone ask him on a Facebook Live Stream if they could take him out for dinner and ask him for advice. His response was that he would consider it, but he would have to charge $5,000 for his time.
I don’t know if the person who asked that question ever did pay $5,000 to have dinner with Cardone. But what I do know is that when I emailed his office to request an interview, I got a response almost immediately. With the help of his team we scheduled the interview, and for 40 minutes via Skype, I was able to ask him anything I wanted. Here's why.
When you have an audience, you have leverage.
When I thought about why I was able to get the interview with Cardone, the obvious reason was that I introduced myself as a podcast host. But there’s a little more to it than that.
One of the biggest advantages of hosting a podcast is that you get to build an audience. When you have an audience, you have leverage.
Like most highly sought-after experts in any industry, Cardone is used to impacting a lot of people at once with his time. In order to take him away from activities that impact a lot of people, he has to charge you. The price he quoted to take him out for dinner was essentially the price the required to take him away from activities that impact more than just one person.
So when I introduced myself as a podcast host, Cardone and his team knew that he wouldn’t just be speaking to me. He would be speaking to me and every other person that would eventually listen to that interview. In fact, we also recorded the interview in video format (I normally only record audio for my podcast, but since Cardone’s team was prepared to record the video as well, I obliged). That video has been viewed by more than 50,000 people since I published it on my YouTube channel in 2015. That’s a decent amount of impact and exposure for Cardone in exchange for 40 minutes of his time.
And I’m certainly not the only podcast host that has had the privilege of interviewing high profile experts for free. My friend Dr. Jason Klop, for example, hosts a podcast called "Step Into The Jungle". Within three months of launching his podcast, he was able to interview one of his heroes, John Gray (relationship expert and New York Times Bestselling author of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus).
Another friend of mine, Aditya Jaykumar, hosts a podcast called "My Seven Chakras". Before he even launched his show, he was able to book more than a dozen interviews with various alternative healing experts that he admired. Not a single person he interviewed asked to be compensated for their time. Instead, they were grateful for the opportunity to be a guest on his podcast (this was before he even launched!).
Three steps to booking an interview with one of your heroes.
As you can see from the examples I’ve shared with you, hosting a podcast is a great way to land interviews with your heroes for free. Here are some specific steps you can take to make it happen:
1. Start a podcast.
This step seems obvious, I know. But the first step in any journey is always to actually take the first step. If you want to interview your heroes for free, you need to start a podcast. Don’t keep thinking about starting one. Don’t keep planning to start one. Just start one.
There are plenty of resources online to show you how to do it, and plenty of other podcast hosts (myself included) that are willing to help you get started. If you have a computer, a decent microphone, a pair of headphones and some software for recording and editing your episodes, you have what you need to launch a show.
Once you’ve recorded your first few episodes, you can submit your podcast to platforms such as iTunes and Stitcher, exposing your show to thousands of potential listeners in the process. So pick a launch date, mark your calendar and start taking steps to make it happen.
2. Send a personalized email to the person you want to interview.
This step is important. As a podcast host, I’ve been on both the sending and the receiving end of requests for an interview. I can tell you from experience that an impersonal email, whether it is sent to a podcast host or to a potential guest, rarely gets a response.
When you reach out to someone to ask for an interview, make it personal. Tell them how you found them, compliment their work, and tell them why you think they would be a great fit for your show and your audience. Never send the same email to different people.
3. Start small and work your way up.
Depending on your show topic/niche, you may find it difficult to book interviews with high profile guests at first (some topics have more podcasts than others, so there is more competition for guests). If that’s the case, a good place to find your first few guests is your existing network. Once you’ve published a few interviews and you’ve started to build your audience, then start sending emails to guests with a higher profile.
Andrew Ferebee, host of the "Knowledge For Men" Podcast, calls this the “Climb the Ladder” strategy. Basically, with each person that you interview, you set a goal to interview someone with slightly more expertise or authority than your previous guest. Your goal is to climb the ladder all the way to the top of the expert hierarchy in your industry, one interview at a time. Asking for referrals along the way helps too.