188. Why not start a Tech Podcast

As the unusual year of 2020 draws to a close and we celebrate another year of The Rabbit Hole, we thought we would sit down with our friend and podcast coach, Michael Sharkey! Today we will be discussing what it takes to start a successful tech podcast, and in fact, any kind of podcast. We reflect on our journey thus far, with Sharkey, offering some external observations and timely perspectives on the factors that have allowed us to keep going and grow our audience along the way. We discuss format, bringing energy and reigning in the chaos, why disagreement is more interesting than agreement, and the array of benefits that we have accrued from hosting this show. We break down some of the processes that we set in place right from the beginning to help us improve, and also look at things like the standards and quality that are expected from an audience. When we began this show, the idea that we would sit down with the likes of Sandi Metz and Diane Larsen, would have seemed lofty, but we did it, a lesson to anyone starting out about how things can grow. Sharkey shares some of his thoughts on what it takes to be sustainable and underlines the care and passion that are needed in order to keep going and build something of value. Ultimately our message in this show is that if you want it enough, you can do it too, all it takes is the time and work, so why not give it a go?


Key Points From This Episode:


  • The 2020 survey that we are hosting and the prizes you can win by taking part!
  • Early days of The Rabbit Hole Podcast and the hard work that went into making it through the chaos. 
  • The processes that have enabled us to make it this far in our podcast journey. 
  • Differences of opinion and honest discussion make for better and more interesting content. 
  • Learning through teaching and explaining — benefits of conversations that we have enjoyed. 
  • Some of the great guests we have been honored to sit down with and talk to. 
  • Memorable subjects that we have explored.
  • Quality matters — equipment, know-how, and meeting the appropriate standards.  
  • The desire, care, and consistency that goes into a sustainable show. 
  • Developing the right habits for the longevity of a show — finding your own level of comfort. 
  • The eternal usefulness of feedback for making progress in any project! 
  • Getting in touch with Sharkey and using the great services he offers to new podcasters!
  • And much more!


Transcript for Episode 188. Why not start a Tech Podcast




[0:00:00.2] MN: Hey, Dave.


[0:00:01.2] DA: Hey, Mike.


[0:00:05.7] MN: How’s it going? We’re reaching the end of the year. Can you believe it?


[0:00:05.7] DA: End of the year, 2020. What a year? What do you think of it? I have a quick survey for you.


[0:00:11.7] MN: Oh, I’d be more than happy to fill out any survey that I have pertaining to 2020. But this isn’t just about 2020, right?


[0:00:20.0] DA: Well, I happen to have a survey right here that you can fill out for 2020. We really appreciate everyone listening to the podcast. It’s really kept us going through the year having you guys listen and comment on everything that’s going on. And we want to keep talking to you, we want to hear more.


[0:00:42.6] MN: Right. I think one of the things that we will make an extra effort for in 2021 I feel is the, like customer participation. I want to be able to interact with the listeners who are listening and be available for any questions, or comments and stuff like that.


[0:01:02.1] DA: Yeah, trash talking. If you think that Ruby is fun and that I should get over Python, then you can let us know as well. 


[0:01:10.4] MN: Yeah, and then we need to be more responsive for those hot takes too whenever we teach about — but yeah, Dave, you mentioned you have a survey about the Rabbit Hole. 


[0:01:21.2] DA: Yeah, let me get you the link. It is bit.ly/rabbitholesurvey kebab case. If you know what it means, then you should take the survey. But if you don’t know what it means, you should also take the survey. Kebab case means, it’s a dash, so rabbit-hole-survey.


[0:01:46.1] MN: There you go. Upon completing the survey, we will probably have email associated to the survey. That way, we’re giving out a prize, a random selection to an individual.


[0:01:58.6] DA: A fabulous prize?


[0:02:00.8] MN: It’s a fabulous prize, yes. We are planning to give out a fabulous prize, and the prize is going to be a cool gift, that’s going to be a raspberry pie kit.


[0:02:10.5] DA: Oh, man. I am kind of jealous. I feel like I should get this on my Christmas list as well. I know you have one yourself.


[0:02:19.0] MN: Yeah, I do but I’m definitely going to fill out the survey like five times, so don’t worry about it. You should fill out the survey for sure. And with your email, we’ll ensure, we’ll contact you if you are the selected winner. We would probably need your address to send it over. Note that you may need to live in the United States for us to send it to you. That’s probably some logistics that we have to deal with.


[0:02:38.8] DA: There’s some legal stuff maybe. Maybe there’s fine print about us not entering, but maybe I’ll fill out the survey anyway. Mike says he’s going to fill it out five times. I got to get in there too.


[0:02:50.9] MN: Hit us up on the survey, that is bit.ly/rabbit-hole-survey.


[0:02:58.0] DA: Awesome! On to the show.


[0:03:01.0] MN: Hello and welcome to The Rabbit Hole, the definitive developer’s podcast. Live from the boogie down Bronx. I’m your host, Michael Nunez. Our co-host today. 


[0:03:08.9] DA: Dave Anderson.




[0:03:09.5] MN: And today we’re talking about how programmers do podcast. Trust us, it’s easy. Believe me.


[0:03:15.3] DA: Yeah. I mean, it’s 2021, you got a New Year’s resolution. You should start a podcast. Maybe you had a different resolution, maybe you should just change it to start a podcast now.


[0:03:25.4] MN: Yeah. If it was the gym, don’t do it. Just start a podcast.


[0:03:27.4] DA: Yeah, don’t go to the gym. It’s not safe yet. You can start a podcast and go later. Well luckily, we got a friend of the show here to help us out. We go way back behind the scenes. Sharkey, hey, how’s it going?


[0:03:41.5] MS: Good! We do go way back. I mean, when you think about it before this was even called The Rabbit Hole. So it was William, it was you guys and I feel like there was three other people. I don’t remember their names, but I remember walking in the room and it was like, “Hey, this is going to be the podcast.” It was like six people. One of the rules you learn in radio, is if you get above three people, it’s chaos. And I walked into a room of chaos and William is like, “This is going to be our podcast.” I’m like, “No.”


[0:04:11.4] DA: Yeah, it was chaos. Yeah. But out of chaos formed a podcast.


[0:04:15.4] MS: And a damn good one too. 


[0:04:16.9] DA: Yeah. I do remember that actually. I remember William on the first day that I start at Stride, was like we’re starting a podcast, and there were so many people and I was so afraid of being on a podcast even though I really wanted to be on a podcast. I just ran away. And then only like a month later, I finally circle back.


[0:04:37.7] MS: It’s so funny because I knew William at the time and William and I were talking about this podcast. I was really getting -- because he was just asking all these questions about, “How do you start it? How are like the roles developed?” And all this stuff.


[0:04:51.1] DA: Sounds like William.


[0:04:51.6] MS: He’s like, “Well, I’ve got all these people” and I said, “Well, tell me about these people.” He’s like, “Well, I’ve got this one guy who sounds like a software engineer." And I was like, “Okay. Well, I’m sure I know what that sounds like.” And he goes, “And I got this another guy from the Bronx.” I’m like, “You got to get them together.” 


[0:05:07.0] DA: Exactly.


[0:05:08.9] MS: That is going to sound like a good show. A guy from the Bronx, a software — obviously, you know you’re both are software engineers, you’re really good at it, you’re developers. But that sort of interesting mesh of character, that mesh of, guy from the Bronx, one might think of when one thinks of a software engineer and there’s nothing wrong with that, Dave. It’s just you’re a software engineer. You speak -- 


[0:05:29.4] DA: Definitively so, I think. Yeah.


[0:05:31.2] MS: Absolutely. So it was just one of those things where I was like, “You got to get them together.” I hadn’t even heard of you guys yet, I’m like, “You just got to get them together.” And William is like, “Are you sure?” I’m like, “Yes, do it. 


[0:05:40.1] MN: I remember William asking me if I wanted to be on the podcast. I was like, “Yeah, sure. I’ll be more than happy to talk about programming and do the best that I can. I might sound like an idiot, guys, but you got to have me out here.” That’s kind of what happened, and then we formed The Rabbit Hole Podcast between myself, Dave, and William.


[0:05:58.6] DA: Yeah, it’s not chopped cheese.


[0:05:59.7] MS: Yeah, it’s harder than chopped cheese for sure.


[0:06:03.0] MN: I mean, we worked very, very hard. We’ll talk about from the very beginning, from that room with six people to where we are now, how often we record a podcast. We kind of want to share a lot of those things that allows us to continue and have this podcast that we share and release every week.


[0:06:18.6] MS: I do think that you are — and I don’t want to jump ahead, but understanding that the people who are listening to The Rabbit Hole engineers and software developers. And that’s a mindset. My 19-year-old son is a software engineer. I’ve worked around software engineers as a product manager and other roles in my life. I’ve gotten to know the intricacies of that, and I really believe for the audience listening. At the end, we’ll talk about some freebies that I’ve got, to do a good podcast, to set it up, to set up the systems. Again, I don’t want to jump ahead, but you guys have a system. 


In the way in which you execute your podcast as you are now approaching the 200th episode. I know we’re not there yet, but you’re approaching a number that is truly rarified air. That I firmly believe if people implemented the processes that you do, more people would have successful podcasts.


[0:07:10.2] DA: I think being software engineers helped us in that regard, and also having good reasons to show up every day. I think those reasons that I have are probably some of the reasons that Mike has, and that other people who are software engineers would also have. Share with us how to start a podcast if they wanted to. I don’t get to see Mike every day or William, but we get to share experiences among our awesome colleagues that I love talking with but we don’t get to see. Like we’re always on different corners of the world, now more than ever.


[0:07:44.6] MN: I think that even though we are sharing, we’ll explain something that happened to us today. For example, we may discuss like, “How was your day, Dave?” And like, “Yo! I had to deal with this flaky test for like five hours. Oh my God! It was horrible.” Then we know between the three of us, we know that we felt the pain of that to say like, “Hey, we should talk about flaky tests right now. Let’s figure out what we could do, what were you feeling, how do you resolve it, what are some ways to resolve it. The ability to share something that we were feeling by ourselves in our workplace, but then everyone can share, have empathy towards these particular topics allows us to continue doing these recordings, which makes it very fun to do.


[0:08:27.9] DA: I think that’s something that -- it doesn’t really matter. You could do another podcast and call it Rabbit Hole 2, and that’s fine. Because like your personal experiences and perspectives are different than Mr. Beard Software Engineer and guy from the Bronx Software Engineer.


[0:08:45.5] MS: Right. Well, what I would say to that is, literally in the last 60 to 90 seconds, you touched on everything that makes podcasts great. When you talk about the flaky tests, you’re having an experience. And one of the most powerful things that you could do with a podcast, because I know we’re talking -- if somebody is interested in starting a podcast, there’s got to be that relatedness. You’ve got to be able to say something that your audience immediately relates to.


I think one of the other things that I would bring up to that as a lot of people start podcast with a friend. “Hey, we’re going to do a podcast together” that sort of thing. And one of the worst things in the world is when two people have the exact same opinion, and have the exact same perspective. Because that is just like, “Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.”


[0:09:34.8] DA: I think we made that mistake early on where we would have the full discussion before we record it, and then we hit record and it’d be like, “We agree.” It’s like, “Oh, what an awful episode that was.”


[0:09:47.7] MS: It makes good — I was thinking the other day of a few of your episodes where you guys came strong with different opinions. Or you came strong with opinions that maybe you agreed on but they were different from the norm. Maybe you were talking about languages and things like that. So I mean, that’s the kind of stuff that if you’re going to start a podcast, and especially if you got two people working together, chemistry is a big thing. After three years, you guys have developed quite a good chemistry. But at the end of the day, it’s about that relatedness and it’s about being able to sort of hold up those different opinions and being okay with it. Hearing people agree is not interesting. Hearing people disagree is fascinating.


[0:10:28.3] DA: Right. That is why I like William when he’s on the show, because he does disagree very well, and I appreciate that about him. You were saying something about rapport and camaraderie. Whenever William or Mike are missing, I feel like a little part of myself is missing in these conversations.


[0:10:46.6] MS: Well, I always love that William, when he’s on. You guys could be talking and have some good chemistry going, you’re going back and forth about languages and stuff. Then just like, out of nowhere, this voice emerges, with some completely contrasting opinion and I was like, “What was that?” It was William. And that’s the thing, it’s like I said at the very, very beginning when I walked in the room and there are six people and he’s like, “Hey, this is going to be our podcast.” I’m like, “No, it’s not.” It’s like, if you go beyond three people, it’s chaos. But when you’ve got three people and two of them can facilitate and hold the conversation, while that third comes in every once in a while with that head-scratching comment or something like that. You’ve got the makings of a fantastic show at that point.


We haven’t really got into this, but my background being broadcast radio, so working with talk shows. These are the kind of things that coaching like high-level entertainment talk shows on, so that they just don’t talk in circles for an hour. If you guys are ready to like jump into that space, you already have an incredible amount knowledge, just 180, 190 episodes in to do that. Not a thing you should, but I’m -- 


[0:11:58.5] DA: Yeah. But I think even episode zero when we had no knowledge, there was still something. The other reason why I really like doing the podcast was an opportunity to teach and explain. And as a result of teaching and explaining, learning better, because you have to like examine it from a lot of different angles and articulate your point and defend it against William as he’s in the weeds, ready to pound over or whoever, against the world, really.


[0:12:29.4] MS: I mean, you do talk about that. What I work with my clients on is emotional triggers. Can you educate? Can you inspire? Can you empower? Can you enlighten? It’s interesting and we all know because we listen to podcast. Not every podcast does that. As a matter of fact, there’s a lot of podcast out there aren’t good. It’s because they don’t do exactly what you just said, Dave. You as a software engineer, I mean, just think about the reciprocal benefit that you just said, is because you are talking though, literally talking through these concepts, and these ideas, and these struggles, and these issues, and these choice, and these failures, et cetera. Is that you’re getting better at what you do as a software engineer. Just because you get to talk it through in 30 minutes a week.


[0:13:12.0] MN: Yeah. I think it also helps with, as a consultant, we need to be able to defend the positions that we may have and having a podcast as practice for us to do that in the future definitely helps put.


So yeah, actually, I usually mention the point that I’m trying to make, but that was because I might have already said it on the podcast, so it helps me like make sure that I get my thoughts together when I have to defend why we need to tackle these flaky tests now and not leave them for the next developer, and so on and so forth.


[0:13:41.4] DA: Yeah, I think that’s true more generically for anybody who’s trying to start a podcast about anything, exploring the topic and bouncing it off of — 


[0:13:50.0] MS: I don’t have the luxury of bouncing of my content with other people on my podcast. So I literally talk these things through to myself.


[0:14:00.5] MN: We call that rubber duck debugging, where you needed a rubber duck and you put it on the desk. 


[0:14:06.7] DA: Do you have a rubber duck? I have a little rubber duck over here.


[0:14:09.7] MN: So rubber duck debugging is the idea that you go line by line, talking to the duck, Very similar. Just make sure you have a duck there so you don’t look as crazy. You’re not talking to yourself, you’re talking to the duck.


[0:14:19.8] MS: I like talking to myself, so it’s fine. It works out well. 


[0:14:24.3] DA: Yeah. Then the other reason that I have I enjoyed doing the podcast is that, as we’ve gotten more comfortable with it and more confident, we’ve have an opportunity to talk to people who have influenced us and start a conversation with them. And take that same approach that we do with our colleagues, who we enjoy talking to and teaching, explaining and doing that with people who are awesome in the world.


[0:14:48.9] MS: As you look back over 200 episodes as you approach your 200th episode, who stands out to you of those conversations that you had?


[0:14:57.0] MN: Oh my God! I would say the Pragmatic Programmers authors, Dave Thomas and Andy Hunt. That was crazy.


[0:15:04.5] DA: Their characters.


[0:15:05.5] MN: They’re the authors of the Pragmatic Programmer, which is probably a book that ever developer has to read or should read.


[0:15:14.5] DA: I’ve been told to read and I was like, “Oh, no.” I don’t read and I feel really bad about myself.


[0:15:18.3] MN: I’ve read through it, but I was like so formal in addressing them. They’re like, “Mike, stop that. Like what are you doing?” It was like totally normal people and we were definitely like chopping it up. That was amazing for me to be able to speak to them, and talk about the book in the 20th anniversary and stuff like that. That was like insane,


[0:15:40.3] DA: I think Sandi Metz, Esther Derby, Diana Larsen, so many people who I think — I started at Stride and people are like — these are the people that you should aspire to emulate.


[0:15:55.6] MS: And now you get to talk to them.


[0:15:56.6] MN: Yeah, and we have episodes with them, which is, oh my God, it’s insane.


[0:16:00.6] DA: Yeah. I remember telling, I think when you interviewed Sandi, it might have been a conversation with my son. Forget exactly how it was, but it was something like, he was like, “Oh my God! The talked to Sandi Metz.” I’m like, “Yeah. Well, you know, that’s how they roll.”


[0:16:14.2] MN: I would say, if you’re listening and you have a podcast, it doesn’t hurt to send an email to give it a try. Because that’s is like kind of what we did too, “Hey, we have this podcast. We have X amount of episodes. We really like to talk to you about X." And make sure you have the topic. And who knows, they will respond, “Yes” and be able to do that. It was amazing for us to be able to have that connection, to have it actually happen. 


So I would say, “Try your best. Send an email.” The worst that could happen is that they may not respond or they say no, but you keep trying, maybe they’ll think twice when you’re the Top 100 downloaded episode of your podcast. And they’re like, “Oh, snap. I got to get on that podcast.” So you have to give it a go.


[0:16:50.6] MS: Other than people that you’ve talked to, what subject stand out of the last 200 episodes. I realized that you guys are supposed to be interviewing me. I’m enjoying this. 


[0:16:57.5] DA: I really enjoyed exploring [inaudible 0:17:05.2] GitFlow, like different ways to work and lean methodology, like seven ways. Kind of like taking the things that our colleagues are talking about, studying them and can I amplify them for the world to hear. If not the world, then you who’s listening.


[0:17:20.5] MS: Other than William, have you had anybody really counter you? Like just come to you and go, “Oh, I so emphatically disagree with your opinion about—"? Like if you had any listeners like that?


[0:17:20.5] DA: Oh, it’s on my to-do list. I really got to respond to this guy. We had an episode, like an idea of a topic like, Rails versus Django, why Python won and Ruby loss, nd I was like, “That’s inflammatory.” I don’t think that’s true but it was a spicy statement and people kind of — at least one person did. People were really mad about that.


[0:17:53.9] MN: People are really mad about that.


[0:17:53.9] MS: Just remember, when people are mad, that’s good. That’s a good podcast, so do more of them. Piss people off.


[0:18:02.5] MN: I’m just going to drive through right into the rabbit hole, right into the ground and make people angry.


[0:18:08.2] DA: 2021, this is the year of The Rabbit Hole makes you angry. You don’t’ have to be angry at the rest of the world. It’s just us. But anyway, maybe we can shift to really like some tips and you can share some wisdom as well on kind of things that worked for you.


[0:18:21.0] MS: Absolutely. I mean, I think in all seriousness, it’s been a really cool ride going back before the first episode was published, to see how you guys have evolved and gotten more comfortable. How you’ve gotten more comfortable with the content. Even like we just talked about, kind of having fun or giving strong opinions, or being able to interview people like Sandi Metz. But I think because this episode is really about that person that set that New Year’s Resolution, that software developer that’s like, “Hey, I’m going to do a podcast.”


I think a couple of things that come to mind that I always like to share with people is, first of all, quality matters. We talked a long time ago, back when we could hang around and not be on Zoom calls, and be in the presence of other humans. Having a really good set up and having good quality because you don’t want your podcast to have a deficient quality next to one that does. Because the person is immediately going to skip and go to the next one. So a lot of people, especially in the software space are like, “Oh, I’m going to use my iPhone,” or, “I’m going to do whatever. I’m going to record voice memos and that’s my podcast.” 


That’s really good for practicing. That’s really good for warming up. But when you’re ready to go published, and you want your podcast in iTunes, and Spotify, and Apple Podcast or iHeart or any of those is you really need good quality. As I showed you guys, your studio set up when we first started was couple of hundred bucks, and it can be done by anybody. So quality matters and it always will matter as it relates to that.


The next step to that is really deciding what is that thing that you really care about. We’re having this conversation but maybe it is somebody that has a strong opinion about Python or whatever. But the fact of the matter is, is that the best podcast are people that care about what it is they’re talking about. Forty-five percent of podcast never get past Episode 5, because they’re really, really excited and they go, “Oh yeah, I’m going to start a podcast. It’s going to be the best thing ever.” And they get like five episodes in and they run out of ideas, they run out of passion, that sort of thing.


So I always tell people, I you’re going to start a podcast, if you’re going to do this, if you’re really going to do this, you’re going to devote the time to be consistent, to build an audience, to get to that 50th episode. Heck, even the 20th episode. Much less the rarified air that you guys are in, is that you got to have the desire, you got to have the want to talk about it. For the listeners of The Rabbit Hole, for those right now who are like, “Yeah, I’m going to start a podcast. It’s going to be great.” I just simply ask that you ask yourself, “Why am I doing this? Do I really want to do this?” Because if you can answer those questions with authority and with passion, then you will make a great podcast.


[0:21:07.5] DA: Yeah, I have some thoughts on that. The thing that has helped us the most first off was consistency. You touched on that. We just set a time and we kept to it. First it was Tuesdays. Every Tuesday, you got to get in there, hang out. Maybe it’s been a rough day, maybe you don’t have the passion for talking about it. And you don’t have the energy for doing it. But you show up and you hang out with some people that you like and get energy from them,  get inspired from them and keep to it.


For quality, when we started, we didn’t really know what we are doing, but we have shadow podcast for a while, where we did not release anything to the world for six months. We just kept at it every week as though we were recording. A good number of those episode ended up on the cutting room floor.


[0:21:59.6] MS: And back to the word consistency, because that’s really it. I mean, if you want to have the what is deemed a successful podcast, it has to be consistent. It just simply means it has to be consistent with the promise that you’ve made to the people that listen to you. If you say to them, “Hey, we’re going to put our new episode every Tuesday, then you put on an episode every Tuesday. If you say, “We’re going to do Season 1, it’s going to be 12 episodes” and then we’re going to take two months off,” then do that. But as long as you fulfill on the promise of consistency, you’re going to have a successful podcast, where people say, “Okay. Well, I’m going to record this episode and then I’ll do another one in three weeks, and then I’ll do another one in a week.” And that sort of thing.


If you’re inconsistent like that, then your listeners don’t know what to expect, and you’ve already sort of betrayed that trust. I know that seems a little like, when I talk about keeping a promise or betraying trust. In your listeners’ minds, that’s how they view it. If they can’t trust you, if they feel that you aren’t consistent, then they’re not going to listen. Does that make sense?


[0:23:03.3] DA: Okay. I have to admit. I forgot to upload my audio one week, and we missed a week episode. So sorry guys. It’s 2020.


[0:23:11.5] MS: Oh yeah. In fairness, I think an audience can be — they will forgive you, hopefully. You might have lost a few listeners.


[0:23:17.8] MN: Dig deep. Oh no! Oh gosh!


[0:23:20.6] DA: Yeah, the prayer emoji hands is up here right now. 


[0:23:22.9] MS: That’s so funny. 


[0:23:23.9] DA: Please.


[0:23:24.7] MS: If does happen occasionally, but if the intention is consistency, then that’s what matters.


[0:23:30.1] MN: We were like two and a half years in, bro.


[0:23:32.0] MS: You’re good.


[0:23:33.7] MN: We were strong. We were consistent about a date, and there was also — if you even go back to the first couple of episodes versus now, like, well, we had a studio set up or this is the place to podcast. We at least had a place that we would join in and it was ceremonious for us to go to this room. And if we’re in this room, we need to talk about the podcast. We could chop it up a little bit and talk about our day, but like being in the room helped us get the podcast keep us flowing. And this is one of the things that we were learning.


[0:24:13.4] DA: The ceiling of chamber.


[0:24:13.7] MN: The ceiling of chamber, that’s what we call it. The ceiling of chamber. I’m glad that we had that system in place before we all quarantined because we already had that mindset to do that after couple of years that recording from home is going to always feel different. We will still have those same habits.


[0:24:29.4] MS: Then you see the word habit. If you’re starting a podcast, do the things that you need to do to develop the habits and find what works for you. Like you said a minute ago, that you guys did a lot of recordings for six months before anything got published. Now, most people won’t do that, but the flip side is that people like, as I said a moment ago, they just go, “Hey, I’m just going to go an episode or two and get started and that’s that.” When you develop those habits, when you practice before you ever publish so that you’ve got the level of comfort, then these are all the things that just help you set up for success.


That’s really what I try to teach my clients, is get comfortable behind the microphone. You’re just having a conversation with another human being. That’s it. Your listeners of The Rabbit Hole right now, whatever it is, 10,000, 50,000, 100 million, however many number that is, the entire country is listening to The Rabbit Hole right now. But in their minds, it’s an individual experience. I want you to realize there are 35 million people that are listening to this conversation right now.


[0:25:27.8] DA: And I’m reflecting back to the first episode we put out where Mike is going big and I’m like just one person is enough, and that’s also freaking me out.


[0:25:43.8] MN: Yeah, I wanted to change the entire planet. That was my goal.


[0:25:46.6] DA: I mean, I’m still nervous every day for doing the recording.


[0:25:49.4] MN: But like, I think we’ve made an effort to apply the same philosophies that we try to do for software with having a safe space for collaboration, it’s okay to mess up because it’s a recording, we’re going to edit it. It’s okay to throw away an episode and come out with another one. We already have three others that we can come out with. And also like doing feedback loops, looking every —


[0:25:49.4] MS: I’ll tell you a funny story. When we first started, before you ever published. I remember I was in Brooklyn. It was the time I was working with a lot of different radio people. I like to think that software engineers are a certain breed of human being, but radio people are a real certain breed of human being. They’re very insecure, and they use their radio time to over compensate for their insecurities. They’re just an interesting dynamic. One day, we had a call, we actually had a Zoom call. 


I don’t expect you guys to remember this, but I think it was the three of us and William and I just got off a call with a radio person. It was just all over the place. They were just — and I jumped into the Zoom call with you guys. I was still in that mindset and I remember saying something, I forget exactly what it was, but I think it was Dave. You have this look of, “What is this guy talking about?” I was like, “Oh, I’m sorry. I need to pull back the reigns from the neurotic people I was just talking with and let’s just talk about software engineering for a little while.” I do remember to your point, getting that feedback, however it looks for you if you’re starting a podcast or if you’re 200 episodes in. That consistent level of feedback, just like anything in life helps you move forward. 


[0:27:25.4] MN: What we used to do in like even after every episode, we used to close the editor and then we’ll go straight to a room, write a retro and we’ll do what went well, what didn’t go well, what we could do better. We did that 10 minutes every single episode, right after, wrote a retrospective on it. Then we had action items for each individual and then we’ll come back better next week. 


[0:27:43.7] MS: That is such a developer thing.


[0:27:46.7] MN: Yes, yeah, the retro, like that was a sprint.


[0:27:49.2] MS: It was a sprint, exactly.


[0:27:51.0] MN: The recording of the sprint, we finished the sprint of what we got to do to get better, plus minus delta. That’s what we used to do, really quick.


[0:27:55.9] DA: Yeah, it’s like do a retro, save constructive feedback among people who are invested in improvement.


[0:28:02.7] MN: I would say, if you want to look plus minus delta on retrospective, that will definitely help after recording. How you felt, what went well, what didn’t go well, what we’ll do to get better, that kind of stuff. 


[0:28:12.7] DA: Then we followed through on the improvements, like we held our selves accountable to think of whatever was going to hold us back or we’ll have against them. We’re like, “Okay. What didn’t go good? What could we improve?” We’d always very enthusiastically ask them, “How can we improve?” Through that came up ideas for warmups, you do a topic drop, kept the energy up, we do remote recording backups because we’ve definitely screwed those up before. Like a lot of little things kind of come out of just asking the questions like, “What can you do better?” That is fundamental to like our philosophy as a software engineer, that carries over to pretty much anything.


[0:28:47.1] MS: Right. I think that puts a point to why you’re at a point right now. People will get to 200 episodes, most people don’t. It’s 1% I think of the podcasts actually get to the point where you’re at. When you look at those podcasts, you’re in the same conversation with — I mean, Joe Rogan’s got 1500 episodes or whatever, but you’ve done it and you continue to do it because you implement practices. Both logistic practices like we talked about, setting up Calendly and things like that. But that, those types of retrospective and doing the same thing that you would do if you’re in a standup and same thing you would do if you’re writing code. Those types of things you just applied to talking about development. I think that’s why you’re seeing the success that you’re at.


[0:29:36.9] MN: I mean, the processes definitely helped out and they translate very well from delivering a feature to a product versus delivering an episode to a podcast.


[0:29:45.3] MS: Absolutely. I just want to say that if somebody is starting a podcast, doing the definitive developers’ podcast is a lane that is taken, so you cannot do The Rabbit Hole. You cannot do this. It has been done and you guys are like the lead in the market.


[0:30:01.7] DA: You can do Rabbit Hole too, it’s fun. It’s okay. You can do it.


[0:30:05.4] MN: Give it a try with a capital society and let’s see how it works out and we’ll maybe able to collab. How is that?


[0:30:12.3] MS: But I think the truth to that is, you guys got in three years ago or a little less than three years ago. So you guys got in at a time where you we’re able to kind of come in and be that, to truly be the definitive developers podcast. Now, what happens is — I go back to what I said a minute ago. What gets you out of bed in the morning? What’s that passion? For most people, it is that passion about maybe a specific language or problem solving, or something that in the space of development. But I think where you guys have kind of cornered the market, and again, there’s room for more. But that said, you guys have just really sort of put your stake in the ground as it relates to tackling all subject.


[0:30:51.8] DA: Sharkey, I like to learn more tips about podcasting, where can we reach out? Where can we find you and find some of those content that you’ve been upgrading?


[0:30:58.5] MS: So I built — just for the listeners of The Rabbit Hole, just from freebies, workshops, and webinars and templates. Just kind of free stuff to help you get started. So if you just go to my website, which is yourpodcastcoach.com/therabbithole, you’ll find some very specific stuff, kind of touching a little bit on what we’ve talked about. Again, it’s yourpodcastcoach.com/therabbithole, specifically for the listeners of this podcast. But I do my podcast, right now, I’m doing it every other week. But as we get into 2021 and I’m trying to get back to every week. But what I really try to do with my podcast, you can search Your Podcast Coach or you can search Michael Sharkey on Spotify or Apple Podcasts or wherever.


What I try to do is just very quick actionable tips every single episode. These tips are for people that are starting podcast. These are tips for people that are maybe 20 episodes in, and stuck and looking for idea. I try to mix it up a little bit, but the whole thing was — both the link that I talked about a minute ago and my regular podcast, it is just there to help you. It’s just there to facilitate a way for you to get better at this craft. Obviously, I work with people one on one and we have clients. 


And what I’ve said — it’s funny because I think of you guys every time I say this, is that the processes and the insights that I do, I work with everyone from software engineers, you guys, to artists and everything in between. Like I have you guys and then I have one of the biggest glass artists in the world, as a client. They are very different ends of the spectrum. But when you start to think about fundamentals, consistency, things like we’ve talked about in this episode, those things are just truths, and they hold true. Definitely go to that link, yourpodcastcoach.com/therabbithole. Take those freebies and if I can help you start your podcast, that’s why I’m here.


[0:32:52.6] DA: That’s awesome. Thank you so much.


[0:32:54.1] MN: Yeah, 2021, we expect to hear all sorts of different programming language podcast, processes podcast. If you want to start a Waterfall podcast, if that’s your thing, you right ahead.


[0:33:05.2] DA: Oh, the Waterfall podcast, go for it.


[0:33:06.6] MN: Let me know, send me a message on Twitter. I tune it and I subscribe. Hit me up.




[0:33:12.5] MN: Follow us now on Twitter @radiofreerabbit so we can keep the conversation going. Like what you hear? Give us a five-star review and help developers like you find their way into The Rabbit Hole. Never miss an episode, subscribe now however you listen to your favorite podcast.


On behalf of our producer extraordinaire, William Jeffries and my amazing co-host, Dave Anderson and me, your host, Michael Nunez, thanks for listening to The Rabbit Hole.




Links and Resources:

The Rabbit Hole on Twitter

The Rabbit Hole Podcast Survey

Your Podcast Coach



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