Start with Your Minimum Viable Podcast (MVP)

About Author Graham Brown

Graham Brown is the founder of Pikkal & Co – performance communication agency responsible for producing Award Winning Podcasts for business brands. Clients including McKinsey, Julius Baer, IBM and the Singapore Government. Investors and Advisors from Netflix, Intel, Apple and iQiYi. He is a published Amazon author covering human communication technologies, marketing and branding. He has produced over 1,000 podcast episodes and webinar shows with notable shows including the Tony Fernandes Podcast. Graham is a graduate in Artificial Intelligence and is currently leading Pikkal & Co to use Machine Learning and Conversation Analytics to automate the heavy lifting of communication to elevate the human touch.

The Myth of “Finding Your Why”

“When you have once seen the glow of happiness on the face of a beloved person, you know that a man can have no vocation but to awaken that light on the faces surrounding him. In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” – Albert Camus

In this post, I’ll talk about the concept of a Minimum Viable Podcast (MVP) – your first podcast series that will help you get in the game and get moving.

Define: Minimum Viable Podcast

Minimum Viable Podcast – in the same way a startup founder approaches building an app, we should also build a podcast – lean and agile. Your first Series should test the concept, a POC (proof of concept) of 4-6 episodes that get you “in the game”, establish your workflows and help you take a position to learn how you’re going to improve.

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Stories don’t often make sense when you’re living in them and rarely do you have a clear “mission statement” that guides you in all your decisions.

There’s too much emphasis these days on “find your why”. Yes, there needs to be a good “why” behind your business decisions, but often your personal “why” is only learned in retrospect. I find most successful business owners never had a “why”, they only had an idea of what they wanted to change or do better.

Find Your Start

Agile Storytelling is finding your start rather than your why, it’s about embracing being a beginner rather than hiding behind your expertise. Whatever industry you’re in, you gotta keep pushing yourself mentally, indulge your curiosity and never be afraid of asking for help.

For the storyteller, and for my podcast clients, I call this the “Minimum Viable Podcast”.

Podcasts: Get our Guide for Corporates

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How to Structure Your Podcast in Series

Your Minimum Viable Podcast should be a 4-6 episode first “series” helping you get in the game. Often many of the problems hosts think they will face once momentum builds.

Series 1 (the MVP) you’re validating whether or not you can do this. You’re validating if you’re interested and interesting. You’re identifying who in your network will put their hands up and say “I’d like to get involved”

Series 2 onwards is where the real work begins. Start identifying and optimising Key Talking Points. Start identifying influencers who can expand your reach.

For now, create conversations that matter with people that matter.

Let Your Story Evolve

Your story will evolve as you tell it through the ears and stories of other people that join you on this adventure. In these podcast case studies you’ll hear both hosts and their narratives evolve over time. Use your podcast to address the questions traditional media can’t address. Use your podcast to refine thought architecture and go deeper. Use your podcast to join the dots with people who haven’t yet given their tribe a name.

How Kevin Hart Rocks Audiences

Define: Agile Storytelling

Agile Storytelling – you don’t need a finished book to have a story worth telling. The best stories are journeys which engage and invite the audience to take part, evolving as they add key talking points and refine their thought architecture. agile storytelling

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The comedian Kevin Hart regularly tests new material at small off-beat comedy clubs to sharpen his game (see Kevin Hart on JRE talking about how he validates his material). The feedback he gets from this more authentic and raw audience connection allows him to tweak his narrative for the larger stadium gigs later. This is Agile Storytelling in practise. Constantly testing, constantly iterating, constantly improving. Keep talking. Good stories stick. You’re going to through a whole bunch of stories at the wall to see what sticks. And only other people know what sticks.

kevin hart agile storytelling

You don’t need to have a finished book before you have a story worth telling.

Start. Evolve. Iterate.

Motivation is for Amateurs

I read an article today that talked about the neuropsychology of motivation – the key difference between success and failure. But, success has little to do with motivation. Losers and Winners are often equally motivated. Motivation is for amateurs.

Stephen King is one of the most successful authors of our time. Every day he’d wake up, sit in front of the typewriter and type 2000 words, whether he was feeling love for his work or not, whether he was feeling energetic or tired, sick or motivated. Most days the paper ended up trashed in the basket.

Amateurs show up hoping that motivation will get them through. Pros go to work.

This is the art of practise. If you want to tell amazing stories, you have to practise. And to get good at practising you need to get over yourself. Tell your story regularly. Podcasts, webinars, writing, social media. Consistency builds quality.

The Joy of Being a Beginner

And if you’re scared of getting started? Embrace the joy of being a beginner again. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.

When I met Tony Fernandes the 2nd time (when I knew who he was) I was nervous. I had lived out the scene 100 times in my head in the days and weeks before we finally flew out to Kuala Lumpur. I remember sitting in the AirAsia plane as we flew to RedQ, I turned to look at Bharath (our engineer) and Prarthana (our head of client services) and there was an intensity. They had their “game faces” on. Bharath turned to me and said, “it’s just another show”.

If you’re scared, it’s probably a good thing to do. If you’re not scared, you’re not making a difference. Getting butterflies before hitting publish or going live is a good sign. It means it could go wrong. Which means for those you’re connecting with, there is real value in getting it right.

Getting scared shouldn’t be the cost of your efforts but, ironically, the reward. Getting scared should be the moniker of a project or a communication where you exist in Flow. Getting scared never goes away. You could be the best guitarist, podcaster or public speaker in the world, and you will always be scared before you go live. Sure, you develop strategies to cope and to embrace the fear.

When I started Asia Tech Podcast, I used a USB microphone and my laptop. 1000 episodes later, I’ve got a lot better. I’ve built podcast studios, recorded all over the world and with celebrity guests, but I’m still learning. There’s a lot I know now that I didn’t have a clue about when I started (see my post here: 9 Things I Learned About Podcasting After 1000 Episodes)

That’s what I love about this industry. You think you’ve mastered it, then somebody shows you a piece of software or equipment and you’re a beginner all over again.

When you get good at being a beginner, you also conquer the fear, and I can’t begin telling you how liberating that is. What lies between you and doing something remarkable is fear. Rejection, humiliation, doubt, pain, loss. Once you embrace fear you also learn that it’s not fatal.

As Thich Nhat Hanh writes, “When we understand that we cannot be destroyed, we are liberated from fear.”

But you have to start.

LinkedIn Founder Reid Hoffman says that

“if you’re not embarrassed by the first iteration of your product, you shipped too late.”

Too many potential podcast hosts want to be perfect, want a complete story, want all the answers… and wait until it’s too late.

Find your start and stay curious. Only with the benefit of hindsight will your story make sense.

Looking for Podcast Case Study Examples?

10 business podcast case studies

Podcasts: Get our Guide for Corporates

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About Author Graham Brown

Graham Brown is the founder of Pikkal & Co – performance communication agency responsible for producing Award Winning Podcasts for business brands. Clients including McKinsey, Julius Baer, IBM and the Singapore Government. Investors and Advisors from Netflix, Intel, Apple and iQiYi. He is a published Amazon author covering human communication technologies, marketing and branding. He has produced over 1,000 podcast episodes and webinar shows with notable shows including the Tony Fernandes Podcast. Graham is a graduate in Artificial Intelligence and is currently leading Pikkal & Co to use Machine Learning and Conversation Analytics to automate the heavy lifting of communication to elevate the human touch.
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