Systems vs goals. The system behind my startup interview podcast

Systems vs. goals. The system behind my interview podcast

Here I walk you through the system that my podcast The Connecting Dots Podcast is based on.

What would make this project a success even if it fails?

What I like about this question is obviously that you cap the downside and increase the benefits even if the project doesn't succeed in an obvious sense like money or metrics. What would make my podcast a success even if it fails in terms of downloads? 1.) If I would learn new valuable skills. 2.) If I would get to know people that I otherwise wouldn't meet. Ideally I stay in touch with them in the long run, earn their trust, maybe even be friends with some.

Systems > goals

Following a system is an endless pursuit. Goals have an end per definition. I first read of the idea of setting up systems instead of following goals in a blog post by Scott Adams, US entrepreneur and the man behind famous comic Dilbert. Here is an explanation of the idea in the words of Scott Adams:

For example, losing ten pounds is a goal (that most people can't maintain), whereas learning to eat right is a system that substitutes knowledge for willpower. Compare the goal of exercising 3-4 times a week with a system of being active every day at a level that feels good, while continuously learning about the best methods of exercise.

A key aspect of setting up systems is that even if a specific project fails, the system will outlive a failed project and increase the odds of succeeding in the long run. With my interview podcast I implemented a system of continuous learning of skills and building a network. Skills like navigating through a long and focused conversation will help me later in life even if I quit my podcast at some point (which I will not do anytime soon).

Learning skills

These are the skills I learned as podcaster and will continue to improve:

  • audio recording
  • audio editing
  • podcast distribution
  • microphone speaking
  • moderating a conversation

How will these skills help me in the future with other endeavours? That's easy to answer: We're in the middle of an audio/voice revolution (Clubhouse, podcasts, Alexa and other voice assistants). I'm acquiring specific knowledge and skills in a business area that is much in demand.

I would like to give keynotes and lectures in the future. Microphone speaking and moderating podcast conversations will help me be a better public speaker and give better presentations.

Building a network

An interview podcast is a stunningly efficient tool for growing your network. What does the trick? It's not superficial interaction like a 5 minute conversation at a networking event that you never follow up to.

This is usually how the interaction with my podcast guests goes down:

  1. Initial texting via mail, LinkedIn, Twitter
  2. Talking on the phone
  3. Meeting in person (or for a video call) to record the conversation
  4. Texting or talking on the phone around the time the episode gets released

In addition to these multiple points of interaction, my guest and me have a podcast episode out there that links us to each other. The guest actually likes sharing this episode because it's good quality: It's a long authentic conversation of the guest and me in good audio quality. Hopefully I'm part of a positive memory of my podcast guests.

In addition to learning skills and growing my network there was a third aspect of podcasting that I was curious about.

What opportunities will be offered to me that I wouldn't get otherwise?

The exciting thing about starting a new project is that you can't predict every outcome and aspect of it. You can't foresee who you'll meet as part of the project or all the opportunities you will get. That's the beauty of serendipity. I am very pleased that some of my podcast guests are now friends, business contacts or clients.

Definitely the biggest chance I was able to take because of my podcast was moderating sessions at the Startup Safari 2020, the biggest startup event in Frankfurt. 2.000 people were watching the live stream. I was very nervous. All the more relieved I felt when my friends told me they didn't notice my nervousness and they thought I was professional.

On YouTube you can judge for yourself how well or bad I did. Here are the links to my interviews with Dennis Schmoltzi of Emma, Sebastian Schmidt of SleevesUp! and Robin Balser of Vinokilo.