Behind the scenes of No Bullsh!t Leadership

Welcome to the No Bullsh!t Leadership podcast. In a world where knowledge has become a commodity, this podcast is designed to give you something more; access to the experience of a successful CEO who has already walked the path. So join your host Martin Moore, who will unlock and bring to life your own leadership experiences, and accelerate your journey to leadership excellence.

Marty: Hey there and welcome to Episode 52 of the No Bullsh!t Leadership podcast. This week's episode, Behind the scenes of No Bullsh!t Leadership. Listeners today is our birthday. Episode 52 marks one year of weekly podcasts for No Bullsh!t Leadership. So Em and I wanted to take the opportunity this week to reflect on the year and give you a little bit of insight into how this all came about, what worked for us and what didn't, and what the future holds for the podcast. So let's get going.

Em: Hi everyone. So excited for you to be joining us for our birthday episode. 52 episodes. Can you believe it? Now, I've got to tell you. When we were trying to work out what to do for this episode, we thought that doing an episode about the podcast was a little bit self-indulgent. But after chatting with quite a few of our long-term podcast listeners, we found that most of them were asking questions about where the idea came from, how we actually produce it, how we come up with topics, etc. So we thought, "Well, why not?" We'll pull back the curtain and give you the nitty-gritty details of how No Bullsh!t Leadership came about and the growth that we've had over the past year.

First up though, Marty, I want you to give us a background around where you were mentally when we started Your CEO Mentor. I know you were getting some coaching at the time and that really changed your perspective around what you wanted to do with the rest of your career.

Marty: Yeah, that's right Em. So look, I knew from a fair way out that I wasn't going to renew my contract at CS Energy when it came up. I had a five-year contract, which was a three-year contract with a two-year extension option. So I decided when I renewed that extension option that I wasn't going to go again after that. So I had plenty of warning to step out from that CEO role. But what I hadn't worked out was whether or not I wanted to get another CEO gig and do something else on the side, or whether I wanted to dedicate myself full-time to something completely different, which is what Your CEO Mentor is.

So it started with me thinking about writing a book, and I was going to do that in my spare time as I pursued another CEO gig. But of course Em, you remember well that you challenged me to think more seriously about content distribution in the 21st century. I think your exact words were, "Dad, a book is so 2010." Do you remember that?

Em: I do. I do remember. I think, I still think a book is a great idea, and we are working on putting that together now. But I just felt like there was so much more potential and the practical application of what people actually needed. I don't think you can necessarily just read that in a book and for it to make sense for you to be able to apply it. So I felt like we wanted to do something bigger.

Marty: Yeah, absolutely. And you mentioned my coach. I had a high performance coach, Rachel Vickery at the time, an unbelievable person who taught me a lot. And when I think about the process I went through with her, I worked out that the most important thing to me in life is to be able to have impact on other people. And when we looked at the possibility of how much impact I could possibly have from a CEO job, even if I'm CEO of the largest company on the planet, I'm still not going to have that much impact on individual people, and certainly not the sort of impact I can have from my vantage point here in Your CEO Mentor. So that was really how I got started and made that decision to go full-time.

Of course, a little bit scary because all of a sudden the big CEO salary doesn't just drop in the account every month. But starting from scratch and one year on I could not be happier.

Em: It's funny. The global impact side of things wasn't a main driver for me in the beginning actually. I was really focused on creating something that would help my small world, so my friends and colleagues who were pretty unhappy working in dysfunctional workplaces. I knew most of them didn't have the support that I had in you. So I wanted to figure out a way to get everything out of your brain and into the hands of my mates essentially. It wasn't really until we started getting listens from all over the world that I truly realised how big of an impact we could actually have on people.

Marty: I look back now, it's sort of 18 months ago when we're really kicking off, and it was amazing that we didn't know any of this stuff. We didn't know what the purpose of the organisation was going to be. We didn't know what the name of the podcast was going to be. And we sort of stumbled upon these things quite inadvertently at times. I remember you and I having a session of a couple of hours around the pool up here in Brisbane and being frustrated about not being able to get the right name for the podcast. And then I said to you, "Em, I just want to put a whole lot of leadership out there without the bullshit. That's all I want to do." And we looked at each other and gone, "That's it. It's No Bullsh!t Leadership." And that's how it started.

Em: It was literally a light bulb moment.

Marty: Totally. Totally.

Em: Yeah. And I think our purpose, it came from the start. Like, if I look back at notes on my phone, when we were originally starting to talk about this concept, a lot of our purpose was in there. We did know what we wanted to do from the very beginning, but it was actually quite a long process to get the words down. Our purpose is to improve the quality of leaders globally. And it sounds simple, but I think it took us almost, I don't know, maybe six months to really nail that down and have it resonate with us in the right way.

Marty: Yeah, totally, totally. But, of course, now that we have it there, it just feels so right every time it comes out of my mouth that I know that it's absolutely the right purpose for us. And I'm sure you're the same.

Em: Absolutely. Yeah.

Marty: So one of the things that I think I found really interesting coming to terms with, and I'm sure you'll be able to talk about a little, is this concept of giving away all our really best stuff for free, which is what the podcast does, right? So we don't hold anything back. And this concept that you had of what we call giving away the gold, I was really sceptical about that at first.

Em: You were definitely a little sceptical. I'm still not sure how I managed to talk you into it, but from my perspective I'd been a long-time podcast listener. So it was actually a really natural next step for me. But you weren't really a podcast listener. I'd sent you a few HBR IdeaCast episodes, but it wasn't really something that you did regularly, was it?

Marty: No, no it wasn't. And in fact, sometimes I'll say jokingly, the very first podcast I listened to was my own. Not quite, but it was almost a bit like that. But one thing really stuck in my head, and this is the analogy that Marie Forleo uses, because she was someone I listened to a lot of content from in the early days about the Happy Meal date. And what she said was, "You imagine that you're just about to take your perfect partner out for a date. If you actually take them to McDonald's and buy them a Happy Meal on the first date, how much confidence do you think they have that the second date is going to be in a five star white tablecloth restaurant with awesome wines? They'd have absolutely no confidence in that at all because on the first date you're putting your best foot forward."

And so if we use this analogy with content, if you're not putting the very best stuff out there when people have their first contact with you, what are they going to do in the future? They're certainly not going to buy anything from you because they think they're going to get a Happy Meal. So I thought that analogy really switched me around a bit.

Em: I love that analogy from Marie. She is a genius. She was one of the first podcasts that I actually properly binged. Also, HBR IdeaCast, GaryVee, which I still love, Pat Flynn Smart Passive Income, Amy Porterfield's Online Marketing Made Easy. Honestly, I don't know if I would've done the podcast if it wasn't for Amy's podcast. She really laid down step by step why it's a good idea and how you can get people to know, like, and trust you by being yourself, which I loved the idea of. And it's one of her concepts and I guess what GaryVee talks about as well in terms of giving away the best stuff. Don't hold back. Just focus on adding value to people, creating impact. If you focus on that stuff instead of how do I generate leads or how do I make sales, I think that is a really genuine and honest place to come from. And that's what I wanted to create with this business. And I know you felt exactly the same way.

Marty: Yeah. And also, you and I always have the catch phrase that 'income follows impact'. So if we can't have impact, then we don't deserve to make money. You know me. I'm very, very market-based free trade sort of guy. And so I believe that if there's value, even in a crowded space like leadership stuff, then the market will reward you. It'll recognise that. And if there's no value, then you don't deserve to make money. And I'm okay with that too because, yeah, I'm pretty relaxed with that whole concept of markets making decisions.

Em: I remember when we first started to explain the podcast strategy to people, and most of the time the response that we got was, "You guys are absolutely mad if you give away all the good stuff in the podcast for free. No one's going to want to hire you to do anything else." And obviously there were some points in time where I thought, "Oh my God. What if they're right? What if we give away the gold and then people go, 'Okay, cool, we've got everything we need. See you later.'"

But I was pretty confident in the strategy and I just thought from the perspective of the consumer, the more I know, and like, and trust someone, the more likely I am to engage them in the future. It's a bit kind of like try before you buy. And it did turn out like that, thank God.

Marty: Look, let's move on a bit. So I do want to talk a little bit to listeners about how we actually make the podcast, because we are doing this on the smell of an oily rag and it comes across as being super well-produced, studio quality production and everything else. But if people knew how we do this, I think many would be surprised as they are when I tell them.

For a start, I think the actual topic selection and scripting and recording of the podcast, I mean it's all pretty straightforward, right? As you know Em, I had some base content that I wanted to get out there, but we've grown our topic list many times over because of questions we get from listeners that are fantastic that need answering, that I've thought, "Oh yeah, well that's a really good spin on the same issue." Current events like the Hayne Royal commission in Australia into the banking sector. All of those things have actually contributed to the content that we have.

And ultimately, I'd love to be Scott Adams. Scott Adams, for those who don't know is the guy who invented the Dilbert cartoon strip. When he was interviewed many years ago, the interviewer asked him, "Scott, how do you keep coming up with these awesome ideas for the Dilbert cartoon?" And he laughed and said, "I haven't had an idea for years." He said, "Once the magazine cartoon strip started become popular, my inbox would be inundated every day with people writing to me saying you would not believe what happened at my work." And then he'd just take that story and turn it into a three frame cartoon.

So all of the content in the future is probably going to be generated by the questions from listeners and the situations they find themselves in and how to apply the No Bullsh!t Leadership principles to that.

Em: We're actually not too far away from that now. Like I don't remember the last podcast episode topic that we came up with ourselves. Everything that we've been coming up with for the last kind of couple of months has been from a Leadership Beyond the Theory student, or yeah, emails that we get every day, every second day asking questions. So we're almost there!

Marty: Yeah, yeah, yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And look, in terms of the recording, each episode scripting takes me somewhere between two and six or eight hours, depending on how much research there is in each one. But when I record it's so simple. We went out and bought a good quality podcasting mic, a Rode mic. Shout out to Rode, good quality stuff. Spent a few hundred dollars on that, but I'd just plug it into my iPad. I use the free GarageBand app and I just record it on there, reading off my script and of course adlibbing across all over the place. But it's really, really quick, easy, and fun to do.

So I can do an episode and record it in half a day. I can do it at night if I feel like I've got something in me after dinner. I can do it first thing in the morning if my voice isn't too croaky. So yeah, it's just really easy and really flexible to produce the content.

Em: Yeah. So in terms of actually editing it and getting it onto the podcasting platforms, I use GarageBand to edit. As Marty said, it's a free program on your Mac. I bought the royalty free music for about $80 I think, and then we use Whooshkaa as our hosting platform.

Marty: The only other thing that's sort of interesting about the podcast is people ask me quite often, "How many episodes do you record in advance?" Look, normally as you know Em, I like to stay maybe two or three episodes ahead. I think anything more than that, you lose touch to be able to respond to a really good listener question that's relevant right now or something that's going on in the media or in a business that's worth commenting on. So I find that two or three episodes ahead normally keeps us far enough advanced to be able to manage things, but also to be able to take account of where society is at the time.

I should probably tell that one story though round early April, when I had an accident coming off my kick bike, and it was just one of those weeks where we let ourselves drift back because of all of the other stuff we had on. It was an extremely busy time for us with proposals for clients and so forth, and I was going to record the episode for the coming Wednesday on the Sunday. I had blocked out the Sunday to do that episode. Yet, very early on the morning of the Sunday I had a fall and ended up in hospital. I had a dislocated shoulder, a couple of broken ribs, and a collapsed lung, which let me tell you, was not joyous. But the biggest thing about it and the first thing I thought of was, "Oh my goodness. I've got an episode to get out on Wednesday and I have nothing in the can." And so that's when you sprung into action and saved me. What happened?

Em: Yes. Well, I wasn't actually that worried. I'd had this idea a few weeks ago about turning the mic over to our listeners and just finding out their best No Bullsh!t Leadership tips. So obviously I was extremely worried about you, but I also saw this as an opportunity to kind of fast track that.

Marty: Apparently not that worried Em.

Em: I was, I was, but episode 32 turned out to be awesome. It was full of a whole bunch of tips from our listeners and it was actually one of my favourite episodes. So yeah, I think, it was a shitty situation, but we figured it out. And you couldn't tell as a listener that it was an accident. So that's good.

Marty: No, no, no, no. We're only fessing up now a few months later now that the scars have healed a little, so that's good.

But look, I think it's worth talking a little bit about the growth and the stats because we have seen massive growth in this. And as you mentioned before, I think Em, we haven't spent a dollar on advertising or promotion or marketing. Basically all of this is word of mouth and referral stuff, so people passing around the podcast saying to their leadership network, "Hey, you might get some value out of this." So it's probably worth talking about the growth over time because I've been quite surprised by it.

Em: Yeah, definitely. I am always very open about stats. When this episode is released in a couple of weeks, we will have had, if we kind of keep getting the number of listers that we are every week, we will have had over 175,000 downloads, which is amazing. Obviously the GaryVees and the Tim Ferriss' and whatnot are getting millions of downloads, but we, we don't need millions. We're pretty happy with the listeners we've got.

To give you some context, in September 2018 when we released the podcast, we had 1089 listens that month. So our biggest day in that month was 148 listens. And I remember we got on a phone call and we're like, "Oh my God. Can you believe that 150 people have listened to the podcast today? Imagine getting 150 people in a room. What an impact that would have, like how awesome."

And on the days when we'd get say, 4,000 listens now, I'm still thinking, "Holy shit. I am so grateful for every single person who pressed play today. And I just hope that we added value to their day."

So where we're at now, in July, we had over 40,000 downloads and August is tracking to be significantly bigger than that. So yeah, I guess kind of coming back to what I said before, it goes to show that consistently showing up every week with thoughtful, considered, valuable content is what people want and it's what they're sharing. We are really, really grateful for everyone who shares it. It really means a lot to us.

Marty: Oh, it totally does. From my perspective, everyone who listens faithfully each week, I know a lot of people who say to me, "Marty, I'm loving the content. I only picked it up a month ago, but I've gone back and I've started listening from episode one and coming through." So obviously people who are listening in this way will pick up a whole lot of stuff over time and just be able to implement the things that are most useful to them.

People who've rated and reviewed the podcast, we're sitting on Apple with 150 odd reviews and all five stars. We've got reviews there for people who have been kind enough to take the time to put their comments there, and so many people have passed it on and recommended it to others, which is how we get all of our growth. And look, from my perspective, we've only just begun. This is year one. My intention is to produce the podcast for as long as podcasting is still a hot medium for disseminating high quality information. And when it's not, there'll be some sort of medium that comes and takes over from it and we'll be on that medium as well because we know that we can have an impact on how leaders lead in the world.

Em: And I guess for anyone who's still listening to the podcast at this point, if you do have any feedback for us, if you have any questions that you'd like us to answer, just shoot me an email at emma@yourceomentor.com. We obviously reply to every single email we get. We love hearing from you. So yeah, just keep enjoying it, keep telling us what's resonating with you, what we can create that will be helpful, and we will keep showing up every single week and adding value as much as we can.

Marty: Alright. So thanks very much for that Em. That brings us to the end of our birthday edition, Episode 52. Thanks so much for joining us. And remember, at Your CEO Mentor, our purpose is to improve the quality of leaders globally. So if you're enjoying this podcast, please share it with the leaders in your network as this is how we improve the world of work. Please join us again for next week's episode: Don't Overdo Collaboration.

Until then I know you'll take every opportunity you can to be a No Bullsh!t Leader.