I recently started conducting interviews for my new podcast In the Trenches with Michael King.
The process has been harder for me than I imagined. Not because of the technical components of producing a podcast (thanks to Johnny Peterson at Straight Up Podcasts) but rather because of my unhealthy, near-obsession with wanting it to be perfect.
The problem with me producing a perfect podcast today is two fold:
- I have exactly zero podcasting experience and
- Podcasting involves people, namely me
Armed with the realization that the podcast will likely not be perfect (here's to hope), I have been moving forward nonetheless.
Last week I was fortunate enough to interview a colleague who has a great story to share with my audience.We did ALL the let's-make-this-perfect preparation ahead of the interview:
- Pre-interview questionnaire: check.
- Prep call to go over the general direction of the interview: check.
- Identify a specific battlefield lesson learned: check.
- Technical checks: check.
It was go time.
We dial into Zoom for the interview.
Following some quick chit chat we start recording.
How do I kick off this interview?
I ASK ABOUT THE WEATHER!
Keep in mind that I consider myself to be an avid podcast listener. That said, I'm fairly certain that I have NEVER heard Tim Ferris, Joe Rogan, or Dave Ramsey ask their guests about the weather.
I immediately recognized the error of my ways and I am now officially on tilt.
Things don't get any better from here.
As the interview continues, I start guiding the conversation through the previously-agreed upon direction for the interview. I quickly find that my interviewee was taking a completely different route than we had discussed. I had no clue where we were going!
I try to force things back on track. Square peg, round hole style. It didn't work. The result was awkwardness.
We finished the interview and ask each other how we thought it went. At first we gave the obligatory "Oh that was great. It was so fun!" response.
We very quickly got real with one another and admitted that it was meh at best. We did a CSI and determined that we had gotten off track early and never really recovered.
With my raw audio file in tow, I went to the Podcasting Yoda at Straight Up Podcasts and told him the story.
Always wanting to learn and grow I asked, "How could I have guided that interview better so that it stayed on course?"
Johnny gave me a few pointers and then took a bit of a pause before asking me this profound question: "Why didn't you just call a time out? It's your show. It's not live on TV. When things don't go as planned just hit pause, talk it over, and get it back on track. You don't have to keep going with an interview that you know isn't hitting the mark."
Yoda was right. There was absolutely no reason not to call a quick time out and get everyone back on track and headed in the right direction.
I had this kind of subconscious belief in my head that I had to keep pushing once I started. I wasn't actively thinking to myself "I can't stop now" - but I didn't stop either.
It was baffling that I had overlooked the very basic fact that I had every opportunity to just hit pause.
After having a few days to reflect, it occurred to me that we, as business leaders, can also fall victim to this false pretense that we have to keep pushing even though things are going sideways.
* How often have we tolerated an employee that isn't cutting it without taking the time to hit pause and have a conversation with them?
* How often have we stayed frustrated with a marketing campaign that isn't producing the results that we had hoped for without calling a time out to figure out why?
* How often have we kept going with a new product that isn't yielding the margins we had planned for?
I think that something between sunk cost fallacy and just plain losing sight of the fact that it's ok to stop gets in our minds and we keep dragging bad ideas and decisions forward.
We keep trying to force the square pegs and we keep going down paths that we know aren't going in the right direction.
The good news is that it's our podcast and we can do what we want.
Look for opportunities to hit pause when you realize things are going sideways. There's probably less risk in hitting pause than continuing down a path to mediocrity or worse.
Also, NEVER EVER start off an interview by talking about the weather.
You probably won't be able to recover from that.