My wife and I have two little girls, and my brother and his wife do, too. This is incredibly fun, and if you have a sibling around the same age as you I highly recommend you do the same. Being able to talk strategy, swap notes and (occasionally) vent with my brother has been such a rewarding experience. And one of the notes we swapped ended up being the genesis of my idea to start a podcast.
After his first daughter was born, my brother emailed the family letting us know that he had setup an email account for her, and invited us to send her an email to serve as a sort of time-capsule for when she was older. I loved this idea; I eventually did the same thing for my girls and, not to be outdone, committed to writing no less than 40 letters to them in 2019 in an effort to try and “Be A Better Parent” that year.
I’m so glad I did this – just reading over the subject lines is like flipping through a photo album, conjuring up fun memories (“The Big Snow”, “Symphony Park”) and not so fun memories (“ER Visit”, “Getting Overwhelmed”). But as I continued to write these I ran into a few problems:
- They were taking forever. I found myself doing a lot of self-editing in my emails to my girls, probably more than I did for the blog (no offense).
- My “voice” seemed off. It felt like I was either writing an advice column or just giving them a play-by-play of a specific event. It felt impersonal.
- I wasn’t enjoying it. Because I was writing these at the same time as the blog, it felt like I was trying to stretch out the same content between the two, and I didn’t like the results.
I was about to scrap the whole thing when I had an idea: I had my airpods, and the Voice Memo app on my phone… what if I just left them a voicemail and emailed it to them as an attachment? It might be fun for them to hear me speak my thoughts rather than write them. So I did just that: I got off the bus, and on my walk to work I left a 13 minute message about Lottie crawling, Lucy’s Eczema, Real Estate, and Three Amigos (or favorite Mexican restaurant).
And I absolutely loved it.
From then on it was pretty much all voicemails. They felt so much more comfortable, personal, and honest than the emails I’d written. I got into the process of recording them in the morning, playing them back later that day, identifying key talking points and putting them in the subject line of the email. Sometimes I would put some notes in the body of the email to give a little summary of what I talked about, and it was about that time that I realized what was happening: I was basically doing a podcast for my girls.
And that’s how I got the idea to do a podcast for everyone else.
And I found that this process helped me overcome a few of the normal hurdles for podcasting, like getting used to the idea of recording and listening to my own voice. Because by the time I sat down to do my first interview, I’d already listened to 40 “episodes” and 16+ hours of myself.
I’m not a natural at this, and it wasn’t always easy listening to those recordings. I hated the sound of my voice (although it’s growing on me). I cringed at the stuttering and the “like”s and “umm”s and the rambling incoherent thoughts. I wondered, “is this what I actually sound like? How does anybody take me seriously?” But I kept doing it, and over time it got easier.
But there was still a lot more to learn. For one thing, I had to figure out how to get these recordings out into the world. I decided to ask for help, which is something I’m not great at doing. More on that next week.