Podcasts as Practice
They can be the minor leagues of major interviews.
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Over the past month, I've been a guest on two podcasts you've never heard of — and that's one big reason I agreed to be a guest.
I've been fortunate over my 27-year career to have been interviewed on both network news (CBS Nightly News, ABC World News Tonight) and cable news (Fox News, CNN). However, those appearances are infrequent — I'm a CPA and financial counselor, not a campaign analyst, so I'm not in demand all the time.
Yet I need to be ready for such interviews whenever I'm called upon. So, in fact, do you. Nothing establishes an entrepreneur's credibility more than other people calling you an expert.
But like a major league ballplayer who takes batting practice in the offseason, we all need to stay sharp between those sporadic interviews. Just as there's a skill to your core business, there's an equal skill in promoting it through media interviews.
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Why small podcasts are a big help
Recently, I was on a podcast called Cool Your Heels with Lillian Cauldwell. Cauldwell interviews fiction and nonfiction authors, so I was invited as the author of two personal finance books.
Most of her questions were about the stock market — which I try to avoid, simply because I don't want to give investment advice. I'm chairman of Debt.com, which has helped millions of average Americans get out from under their credit card bills, tax burdens and student loans. I want to give get-out-of-debt advice, not investment advice.
"I focus mostly on debt," I told her. But I did say...
"We're in the longest bull market this country has ever seen. It has to come to an end. I was having lunch with the chairman/CEO of Goldman Sachs last week, and his expectation is within three years we're going to hit a recession."
Then I turned the conversation toward preparing for emergencies like a recession.
All interviewers have their own agendas — and as an entrepreneur, you have your own. No matter the size of the podcast, it builds your mental muscles to joust with interviewers who keep asking you questions you don't want to answer. So it was good practice for me to nudge Cauldwell back the topic I'm most expert about.
It also helps to craft your message for different audiences. Cauldwell's audience is mostly senior citizens. That was perfect for me, because senior citizens are struggling with debt in different ways than younger people.
"At the end of the day, seniors should not be responsible for their children's debts," I told Cauldwell. "Don't allow your children or grandchildren to invade your credit. For example, a senior citizen is a cosigner for a car and ends up getting stuck with it. You can be generous to a point. Don't be a fool."
Cauldwell was grateful to have this conversation, even though she didn't anticipate it. Jousting with an interviewer can be good for both parties.
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How to hone your message
Only a week later, I was on another podcast. This one is called ValueWalk, which describes itself as providing "unique coverage on hedge funds, large asset managers and value investing." So once again, I needed to steer the conversation back to debt. However, I found common threads, which is something a savvy entrepreneur needs to do deftly if they want to land interviews that also further their business.
When the host asked me about children inheriting wealth, I answered with a common tactic: Don't avoid the question but respond with an analogy that centers on your business.
So I used credit cards as a relevant example since credit card debt is the main focus of Debt.com: "They have to be taught, since parents are going to give their children a tremendous amount of assets. And if they are not taught to properly utilize those assets, they're going to lose them. It's similar to giving your kid a credit card without ever teaching the child about the use of credit cards. They're gonna charge them up without thinking. Then they'll say, "What do you mean I have to pay for them? And what do you mean I have to pay them on time?'"
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Well worth the time
Even if you think, "This is a lot of work for major media attention I might never get," I find podcast interviews also help me speak better and tighter in business meetings. Unlike network and cable interviews I've done, podcasts let you explain complex topics at length. CBS and CNN just wanted soundbites from me.
After a long conversation on a podcast, I find I perform better in discussions with my employees and my partners. Since there are so many podcasts out there, and they have so many hours to fill, you can find one close to your niche. It won't be a hard sell. They'll welcome your expertise — and you'll welcome the opportunity to improve your branding.