For podcasters

A while back, I wrote a post about SoundTrap, a company that Spotify had acquired. And it seems like Spotify is serious about their podcasting game. 

They now have a dashboard for podcasters to view even more in-depth data on their listeners. 

According to The Verge, the head of Spotify’s creator’s marketplace says that the idea is for Spotify for Podcasters to mirror Spotify for Artists. 

In my brief experience with podcasting, I’ve mainly been able to see how many plays an episode gets. But beyond that, most of the data is qualitative. 

Based on people who send me messages, I’m able to sort of gauge which episodes resonated. 

For me, this has been enough. 

But for serious podcasters who want to monetise, having more data means being able to create better proposals for advertisers. 

Spotify for Podcasters allows a podcaster to learn more about listener demographics, what other kinds of things they’re listening to, where in an episode they drop off. 

This sounds like something that would be attractive if I were to consider podcasting on a more serious basis. 

As always, I’m excited about new developments in the podcasting world. But for now, I’m sticking to the text medium. 

Writing is a never-ending learning experience. 

Piano

Since I’m on my laptop a lot, I’ve found a laptop-based activity that’s been pretty therapeutic as well. 

I keep it open in a separate tab on Google Chrome and anytime in between work when I feel like I want to clear my head, I use it. 

Called Piano Genie, it’s a machine learning-based app that lets you pretend you’re a piano virtuoso by slamming eight different keys on your keyboard. 

When I first discovered it, I thought: how fascinating but didn’t imagine how often I’d find myself actually playing with it. 

(Piano Genie is built on Glitch, another great tool that makes creating web apps simple.)

Although the Piano Genie only has an eight-key input, it’s able to map these keys to a full 88-key piano. If you’re curious, feel free to read the entire article on how it works.  

As someone who works across a range of industries, I’m always fascinated by intersections. Code + art (writing, music, visuals) has been a long time interest for me. 

And although it’s been a while since I played the piano, music is still something that’s therapeutic. I’d play a piece over and over again until the notes became muscle memory.

I remember college days, when taking breaks from studying, when I was pissed about something, my go-to was the piano. I’d slam out something and immediately feel better. 

Now that I’ve sold my piano, Piano Genie is a competent replacement. 😂

Tribe

One of the email newsletters I subscribe to that sends amazing resources is Unemployable. It’s one of those media websites that I consume on multiple channels — newsletter, podcast, website.  

The main feature in one of the August newsletters was a podcast interview with Gina Bianchini, the founder of Might Networks. 

A platform that lets users create their own community — with subscriptions, courses, events etc — Mighty Networks is exactly the kind of tool that I’ve been looking to use for one of the latest projects I’m working on. 

This is why I continue to subscribe to Unemployable; it’s always an amazing resource that provides value in the form of tools, inspiration or advice. 

And as someone “unemployable”, it also feels like a platform where I “belong”. Although there’s no two-way interaction, I still feel like I’m part of a “tribe”. 

Perhaps this is what it means to find a niche for your content. Speak to and create content for the people you want to reach, the people you want to resonate with. 

I’ve said it before: humans are complex. And attempting to fit users into one specific box isn’t always the best approach. 

How do you build a brand? Focus on tribe and vibe, rather than just product. 

Books

In an interview with Daily Stoic, David Epstein talked about the negative aspects of becoming a specialist with too narrow a view. 

“We miss out on wisdom if we’re too narrow,” he said.

He added that one’s ability to “take knowledge and skills and apply them to a problem or situation you have not seen before” is highly dependent on one’s exposure to a variety of situations. 

“As you get more variety, you’re forced to form these broader conceptual models… which you can then wield flexibly in new situations,” he said. 

He says that specialists can sometimes become “so narrow that they actually start developing worse judgment about the world as they accumulate knowledge”. 

The key to being a generalist is staying curious and pursuing those curiosities. To learn to accept the pain that comes with being outside your comfort zone. 

“The more things we open ourselves up to, the more we experience, the better philosophers we’ll be, the better leaders, employees, individuals we’ll be,” goes the Daily Stoic newsletter. 

“Read philosophy. Read subjects outside your field.” it says. 

And that’s why I’m looking for new books to read again. Lately I’ve been reading mostly books on marketing, publishing and food. 

Do you have any books to recommend?

Descriptions

In the next weeks, possibly months, I will be practising descriptive writing. 

In my life as a writer, I’ve typically been writing about topics people usually find dry. Like education, public policy, finance. 

One of my big pleasures is turning something that’s seen as “boring” and jargon-filled, into something that the general reader (who’s curious enough) can appreciate. 

But I’ve been attempting to write more lifestyle pieces lately. And I’m not great at it, especially when it comes to describing food and drink. 

While I love food facts, and I think a lot about where the food comes from, how it’s made and the stories behind a particular dish, I have much less to say about flavours and textures. 

Boba is sweet and chewy. Spaghetti is cooked al dente. The Sauvignon Blanc I just downed was dry and slightly acidic. 

I don’t know how to write about delicate bursts of flavour or robust meaty textures.

I know that the mushrooms I sautéed right after picking them tasted so much better than the ones I get at the supermarket. But how do I explain the difference? 

One thing I’ve learned about writing is that practice makes progress. 

Back in 2006, I had trouble writing dialogue in fiction. So I started writing fiction with heaps of dialogue on a regular basis. And eventually, my writing started to flow. 

Writing dialogue became doable. And eventually it became easy.

Perhaps writing food and drink descriptions will become doable as well. And then eventually, easy.

Fit

Another thing I think about on a regular basis is product-market fit. I’ve worked on products that have been successful and tried to keep a record of what may have gone right. 

I’ve also worked on products that haven’t been as successful. I’ve become accustomed to that feeling that comes with failure (it’s crazy that no matter how many times you fail, there’s still that sting). 

I enjoy the experimentation and am always on the lookout for frameworks for measuring product-market fit. 

There’s a Product/Market Fit Survey that was developed by Sean Ellis in 2009, which asks users the question “how would you feel if you could no longer use the product”. 

Justin Jackson says there are better questions to ask. 

Rather than gauge how disappointed users would be if they couldn’t use the product anymore, Jackson cites The Mom Test by Rob Fitzpatrick, which suggests asking users about a time when the product was unavailable and how they felt during that time, whether they looked for and used alternatives.

The former questions “future feelings” which results in answers that aren’t always super accurate. The latter doesn’t require any guessing about feelings. Users know how they felt when the product was down. They don’t have to guess. 

Jackson also cites Brian Balfour, who suggested three metrics for measuring product/market fit: (1)Top-line growth, (2) Retention and (3) Meaningful usage. 

“Top-line growth comes from a market that’s hungry for a solution”, writes Jackson, while “retention and usage are both signs that you’ve built a good product for that market.”

Death

I think about death a lot. Some people say I’m morbid but I think it’s a good exercise to consider death. To feel it hovering over you, a constant reminder of the ephemerality of life.

I’m not obsessed with death. Like Johnny Cash, like the stoics, I’m obsessed with living.

They wanted to get the most out of every minute of this uncertain existence we have all been given,” goes the Daily Stoic email newsletter. 

“It happens that meditating on our mortality is a powerful way to do that,” it continues.

The thought that crosses my mind a lot is the sentence “you could die right now”, followed by the question “have you really lived?”.

When making decisions, I often ask myself, “If you were to die next week, is this what you’d want to spend your time doing?”

I’ve realised that the things I answer “no” to, are the same things that make my soul feel drained. 

Daily Stoic poses the question: “If you know death is inevitable, and that there is nothing you can do about it, and you have no idea when it will come, well then what’s the alternative?”

It then quotes The Shawshank Redemption’s protagonist, Andy Dufresne who said, “I guess it comes down to a simple choice: get busy living or get busy dying.”

How much time any of us have left is not up to us—but what we do with that time? That’s our call. That’s our song to sing.

Daily Stoic