The guests were really excited to open up some of the process they were doing. AJ&Smart was the agency that led the design sprint, and we were happy to share that behind-the-scenes. From our listeners, it was one of our most listened-to recent series, and I think that’s because so often on a podcast, you’re teaching based on perfect scenarios - there’s a lot of methodology, a lot of “This is what I did.” But rarely do you get to see how the work happens, which is messy. So with this recordings, you could hear what it’s like to actually work through a problem, versus discussing a methodology to work through a problem.
You’ve developed an incredibly passionate listenership (and in fact, I’ve just subscribed to your newsletter). How do you keep your listeners engaged beyond dropping amazing episodes of the podcast? Your work with Dribbble is so meaningful to the design community. Would you say that Rocketship.FM is a multiplatform community as well, with articles, newsletters and social media?
I don’t know how we keep anyone engaged beyond dropping episodes! We could do a lot better, but it’s a side project for us, and it’s something we do because we’re passionate about creating. We want an outlet to tell these stories that’s authentic for ourselves. I wouldn’t say we’re building a community, we’re building a media company. It’s a one-directional community focused on the audio. So that’s where I see Rocketship. It’s a time constraint on our end. At Dribbble, my work is a bit different: Rocketship is less of a community and more of a media company.
I feel like you’ve gathered together such top minds to share their best pieces of advice, such as “how to retain more users with value-based onboarding.” Would Rocketship.FM ever write a book?
Maybe! I think right now we’re more interested in telling stories. So unless one of those stories was big enough to be a book, then we might do it, but right now, focusing on telling great micro-stories is more important to us than I think some of the actionable content we focused on in the past. So if we ever wrote a book, it would be more a story about technology, versus a how-to.
How do you cultivate your amazing network?
I think it’s all about the content. We don’t do too much these days. In terms of promotion, we let the content speak for itself.
Not as big as Industry, but we are looking at doing some physical events in New York City, where we’ll be interviewing some of the local tech scene there in-person. So probably something much smaller, but we’d definitely love to get more of a physical presence in cities where we have a large listenership.
What’s ahead for season 6 of Rocketship.FM?
We’ve got 8 episodes for season 6, launching on each Thursday, on BlockLand. We’re going to dive into the Blockchain ecosystem a bit, we’ve talked to most of the civic leaders in Cleveland, we’ve talked to Bernie himself about what they are doing and what the future of this initiative will be. And we even interviewed some folks who believe it’s not going to happen. After those 8 episodes, we’re planning season 7 right now. I can’t say too much, but we’re looking at experimental product development, and how we can showcase the work that people are doing outside of the tech industry.
How do you and your podcast team stay inspired and excited?
I think there are times when we haven’t been inspired, and those are hard. When we kept doing the same thing over and over, trying to crank out as many interviews as possible, it got really hard. We weren’t inspired. So what we did about 2 years ago now was we stopped caring about the metrics, and started making content that we liked. It means the show changed drastically, we lost listenership, luckily we’ve gained it back, but some people started listening for what the show started out being and didn’t like how it changed. We keep evolving the show, as storytellers, as people. We pay less attention to constant growth, and pay more attention to stories and what we want to tell, versus what people want to hear. And when we did that, it became fun again. We were ok losing a little bit of following to create something we were actually proud of.
With the many incredible individuals you’ve spoken to - what words of advice would you have for others, whether they want to start a similar podcast or endeavor, or are looking to start a new business or idea?
If you’re looking for a podcast or endeavor, you have to ask “What is your goal?” is it to be an influencer? A journalist? And figuring that out first. I think a lot of people start an interview podcast without a real direction, or a direction that’s been done a lot of times, and unless you can do it significantly better than what’s out there, it’s hard to grow your following. It’s about finding a unique angle on what you’re interested in, that excitement will come out. For a new business or idea, I think it’s kind of the same, we see so much around being passionate, and pursuing a dream, but I think it’s more realistic to actually look at the business model, at what you’re trying to bring out into the world, talk to customers and talk to people before starting anything else. There’s a lot of great ideas, but if you want to start a business, you have to start a business. It’s about the market, or it’s about the model, a unique spin on one of those.
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