Alex Blumberg, Startup Podcast, Gimlet, Chris Sacca

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At one point I snuck the keywords “Alex Blumberg” & “Startup Podcast” into the title tags of my interviews. I wanted people to find my podcast when they searched for Alex’s. The guy had a top business show, so I was trying to appeal to his audience.

It worked, but it’s not my proudest move. My contact at Apple asked me to cut it out. But look, now I interviewed him. So I naturally mentioned his company, Gimlet, and managed to talk about investor, Chris Sacca, so I earned the keywords!

Plus, I sincerely love this interview so much that I hope you listen to this.

Alex Blumberg

Alex Blumberg

Gimlet

Alex Blumberg is the founder of Gimlet, an award-winning podcast company which produces the podcast Startup.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey, everyone. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy.

And I remember the first time I heard the podcast that’s produced by today’s guest. My friend Kareem told me about it, and I said, “Now I’ve got to go listen to this thing.” Dozens of people told me about it before, but Kareem is the guy who told me about Eric Ries about half a decade before the “Lean Startup” book came out. I’ve got to go listen if he says it.

I remember listening to it, a podcast called Startup, and going, “Oh my god, these guys are actually going to build an empire in the podcast world.” This thing, podcasting, that I always thought was like a nichey, geeky thing I loved that was never going to go anywhere, that I never took seriously, even though I’d been doing it since 2008, they were actually building a company based on that. And they got Chris Sacca to invest, the Twitter guy, the software guy, the guy who’s known for being an early investor in Uber. They’re really doing it.

And as I watched it and watched the company grow, the company behind it, Gimlet, I thought, “This is amazing.” And I promised myself when I was in high school studying business, reading biographies of successful people, that if I ever saw someone doing something good, I would never be jealous, I would instead want to learn how do they do it. So I wanted to have today’s guest on, the founder of Gimlet, which produces that Startup podcast that I heard a few years ago and so many others.

I have him on, Alex Blumberg, to talk about how he built up Gimlet into this award-winning podcast company. And we’re going to find out about that, about how he’s getting listeners–the guy keeps climbing up the charts–and about how he’s making this whole thing work even though he’s got a family at home.

This whole thing is sponsored by the company that helped me rebuild my website. It’s called Toptal and the company that if you’re looking at my podcast artwork right now and you like the design, they created it. It’s called DesginCrowd. I’ll tell you more about them later. Alex, welcome.

Alex: Well, thanks. Great to be here.

Andrew: I’ve been listening to hours and hours and hours of you speak in preparation of this interview. It feels to me that the turning point for you, when you were working at This American Life and Planet Money, was this T-shirt that you put up on Kickstarter.

Alex: I guess that was. Yeah. That was probably the turning point.

Andrew: Why? Why did you put a T-shirt up on Kickstarter?

Alex: So my background, before becoming the CEO of Gimlet, I basically was in not-for-profits my entire life before that. I was a not-for-profit journalist. I worked for public radio. I worked for NPR, WBEZ and I worked for a show called This American Life. And then from there, I went on to found with Adam Davidson a show called Planet Money, which is a podcast.

And I was watching podcasting sort of takeoff from that perch at This American Life and at Planet Money. And I kept noticing that our crowds were getting bigger, our audience was getting bigger. People were really, really engaged with what we were doing. But I was always thinking to myself, “Well, there’s not like money in this, really, is there?” I think that’s probably because of being in public radio, you sort of are conditioned to think that there’s never any money.

And then we did this project at Planet Money that sort of changed my mind a little bit on the money equation and that was this T-shirt project. So Planet Money is a podcast. It’s still going. It’s fantastic. It’s a podcast about business and economics, and we try to look at the economic forces behind our everyday lives.

We wanted to do this big project, which was we wanted to look at a very, very humble product, the T-shirt, and see how the entire global economy comes together to make that T-shirt, this T-shirt that you and I, everybody interacts with every day, there’s this whole world behind it. We wanted to show that world. We wanted to interview the people who made it, interview the people who grew the cotton, interview the people who spun the yarn. So we did. We set about doing this. It was this long project in the making.

Then we figured like we’re going to trace this whole thing, and then we’re going to have this T-shirt, maybe our listeners will want to buy that T-shirt. So we figured let’s make an opportunity for our listeners to buy that T-shirt. So we did a Kickstarter and said, “We’re going to be doing this project. At the end of it, there’s going to be a T-shirt. If you guys want to buy a T-shirt, go to our Kickstarter.” And we announced it on our podcast. Our podcast at the time had something like 200,000 listeners.

In the end, over the course of a two-week Kickstarter campaign, 20,000 of them bought the T-shirt. We raised over $500,000 just on that one two-week Kickstarter, and 10% of our audience, our podcast audience participated. I remember thinking like, “Man, that says to me that there is enthusiasm, there’s willingness to pay, there’s money here. If we can do a two-week Kickstarter and raise half a million dollars, there’s some real potential for money here.

Andrew: And you only made that available–I didn’t realize this–to the podcast audience, not to the terrestrial radio listening audience?

Alex: No.

Andrew: Oh, I see.

Alex: Because of like weird sort of public radio internal issues, policies and stuff, politics, we weren’t able to talk about it on the radio.

Andrew: I had no idea. Yeah. I looked it up. The goal was $50,000. You posted it on April 30th, 2013, I think it was. It’s hard to zoom in. The very next day I can see very clearly you guys hit your goal and you blew past it, as you said, by a factor of ten.

Alex: Yeah.

Andrew: So then I was trying to piece together what happened next, and here’s what I’m seeing from what you said before. You started looking around to figure out, “Can we do more podcasts within NPR? Can I do something on my own?” You were inspired by Roman Mars and talked to him. You were inspired by Jeff Ullrich at Midroll and Earwolf and you talked to him. What were you trying to figure out and what did all those conversations and searching lead you to?

Alex: Well, so I was just trying to figure out–so, to me, it just felt like okay, here’s this thing that feels like it can be big. It feels to me and to the listeners, the listeners are enthusiastic about it. Their numbers are growing. Their so excited about podcasting, they will drop money on a T-shirt like that. And also the other thing about that was Planet Money had grown out of This American Life. This American Life started out as this storytelling, tell me these stories about people and human drama and feelings, and then we’d taken some of those same tools and used it to tell stories about finance and economics. That worked too.

Then I thought, well look, we can just keep doing this. We can do sort of like these kinds of stories about technology. We can do these kinds of stories about cars. We can do these kinds of stories about relationships. The world is big here. And I’m sitting in the middle of it right now, which is the public radio system. At the time I was thinking like let’s make a fund or something that can sort of bankroll some of these new, some of these, you know, initiatives.

When I was calling around to Jeff and I was calling around to Roman, it was questions of how do we get–how do you guys finance it? These were people who were doing it independently. So what I was trying to figure out from them is, “Okay, how are you guys making it work?” And the thing that was–so, Roman Mars does a podcast called 99% Invisible. I’d known him because we sort of traveled in the same public radio circles.

But he had gone off on his own and started this podcast called 99% Invisible, and I was a listener to it and still am and a fan. And he would keep on referencing like staff people. And I was like, “You’re an independent dude doing a podcast and you have a staff now?” And he had sponsors. So I was like, “What’s going on here?”

As I started to talk to him and he sort of explained to me the finances and his audience and what growth was looking like, I was like, “You’re doing this on your own, you have a staff of three or four people, you’re bringing hundreds of thousands of dollars as a year as an independent guy doing this. Imagine if we decided to bring–sort of make it official, what could be done.” So that was sort of inspiring to me. And then of course Jeff started Midroll and started Earwolf on his own with his own money out of his apartment one day, classic startup story.

Andrew: Yeah.

Alex: And they were both so amped to be talking to me about it. It felt like we were all discovering this thing in the beginning. It felt like we were all really, really excited. We had this secret like, “This thing can be huge and we’re in on the beginning of it.” We were all just pumped to talk to each other about it.

Andrew: And Midroll sells advertising and Earwolf creates content. And you told–I think it was you and Matt Lieber on an episode of HubSpot, you said, “You know what? I didn’t realize at the time that I didn’t need to go after venture capitalists.” I’m wondering why did you go after VC money instead of following in the paths of the two men you talked about and who else should you have gone after?

Alex: So I’ve thought about this a lot. Part of it is just like my profound naiveté in how any of this worked in the beginning. I did not know the difference between investors of any–I didn’t know that investors came in categories. Like I wouldn’t have known the difference between an average sort of like retired person who wants to invest $10,000 in a restaurant and a venture capitalist that would work at Kleiner Perkins. I didn’t know the difference between any of those people. They were all the same. They were all vaguely rich people who had money to invest.

And I just happened through my job to have connects to Chris Sacca, because I’d interviewed him for another series of stories that I worked on and I knew he was a fan of This American Life. So I was like, “You’re a fan of This American Life, obviously you’ll invest in me.” It seemed like it was that straightforward and that naïve.

So now, knowing what I know, I understand that venture capitalists are looking for a certain type of profile. They’re looking for high growth. They’re looking for companies that have the potential to become massive quickly. I don’t think media companies necessarily–unless you’re a technology play or a platform play, they don’t follow the same trajectory.

Andrew: Which is why in that–sorry to interrupt–in that first season, you did say Chris Sacca was trying to direct you to create a platform. I’m wondering then were you the wrong kind of investment for him, but he did it because as you said before, it’s not that much money for him and he’s a fan?

Alex: I don’t know. Like, I don’t think Chris–I don’t think Chris will–I don’t know. I’ve asked him about it and he’s like, “No, I believed in you. You had this thing.” It wasn’t very much money. It was a very small amount of money. Chris also, like any investor who raises money from LPs can’t say exactly his exact opinion because he has fiduciary duties to the people inside.

Andrew: It would be kind of insulting if he said, “I just kind of like your show. You’re not really an entrepreneur. But I like it.”

Alex: Well, I wouldn’t even be insulted by that necessarily because I wouldn’t–like we are going to become a very large company. We’re going to become a very successful company.

Andrew: You already are. From what I hear, 60 people?

Alex: Yeah. And we’re bringing–

Andrew: How much revenue?

Alex: We brought in $7 million in revenue last year. We’re hoping to do significantly more than that this year. We’re on track. I don’t have any doubt, we’re going to be very large, very successful. But I don’t think we’re going to be Uber. If what you’re looking for is building a bunch of companies that could be Uber, then we’re not the person that you’re going to invest in.

Andrew: Who would have been the right investor for you? Now that you’ve know and you’ve really gotten in there, you’ve got Andrew Mason from Groupon as an investor, Marco Arment is an investor. So you’ve got like the whole range of people here. Who would be ideal for a company your size?

Alex: I think the right investor for us are those people you named. When we interviewed Andrew Mason about it, I asked him, “Why are you investing in us?” He’s like, “I’m investing in you guys sort of the way I’d invest in somebody who opens a restaurant. I’ll get to have a relationship with you and I’ll see.” That’s one example.

But I think there are people that are strategic investors, people interested in media, who are interested in building media businesses, who would want to invest in us because we’re doing something interesting. We’re innovating in the space. We have an expertise and a domain audio that other people are now looking to enter. I think there are people who are interested from a mission perspective. They want good audio. They like the product and so they invest for that reason. I think a lot of investment happens for that even though people don’t admit it.

A lot of it is like, “I have this need, so I like what you’re doing and therefore I will invest in you.” I think a lot of people invested in us for the same reason. If you’re into podcasts and you think podcasts are going to get bigger than they are today, we’re maybe the best investment out there. We’re one of the few companies that is really doing it that is able to take investment at the level people want to put in.

So then I think when we did our series B–sorry, when we did our series A, the group that was Graham Holdings, the CEO is Tim O’Shaughnessy, and they’re interested because it fits their long-term strategic initiatives. So they have a much longer time horizon, so they want us to just build value. They’re not looking for a quick exit. They’re not looking for, “Five years we want to sell or go public.”

Andrew: Okay.

Alex: So people with that we’re a really good bet. Like we are going to be building lots of value over the long term, and we’re a great investment for that.

Andrew: Your flagship podcast is the Startup podcast that I mentioned that I was turned on to.

Alex: Yeah.

Andrew: I heard you say at the XOXO Conference it was a publicity student. It seems like you didn’t mean for it to be the flagship. It was just going to be what?

Alex: So I had this problem. I was about to leave these two very well established, very legacy media organizations that were at the top of their game, that had millions and millions of listeners. I was about to embark on my own and I had no audience of my own.

I didn’t have–I had like five–I had to start my Twitter account right before I left. I didn’t even have any Twitter followers. I didn’t have anything. I wasn’t active on Facebook. I was in no way equipped. Like a lot of people today are just born social media native, they have bigger audience than I had as like somebody who’d been a practitioner with these other legacy media organizations.

So I was like, “Okay, I’m going to have a podcasting company. I need some kind of audience to give that podcast. I need some kind of audience. What am I going to do to get that audience? I need to do something to bring attention to myself.”

Andrew: I see.

Alex: And the only thing I had going on was that I was stating this company. So I figured, “I’ll take people inside that.” I really did think it would be like interesting. I’ll record some interviews with investors. It will be a cool behind-the-scenes peak at what this actually looks like. But Chris Sacca is such great tape and like what was actually happening was like a lot more emotionally raw than I thought it would be. I was like, “Oh wait, this is an actual story. This is real. I’m documenting something that is like both very specific, but also sort of universal, like it’s something that happens over and over again.”

Andrew: Right.

Alex: That’s sort of the hallmark of a unique story, something that has like unique, interesting specifics but also has these universal elements. So, as I realized that, I was like, “Oh wait, maybe there’s something more here than just a publicity stunt.”
Andrew: Okay. Speaking of the hallmark of a good story, we’ve talked about so far you’re going from heights to heights to heights. You keep going well. One of the hallmarks is a pain that would make us want to root for you, struggle, right? So, as a guy with a long-term job with real job security, as much as you could get, leaving your work, what did it feel like? Did you wake up in the middle of the night with fears the way that I always seem to? Not so much anymore, but I do. Did you wake up with that?

Alex: Of course I did.

Andrew: What was it like for you? For me, it’s my family is going to be in a box and everyone who’s listening to me is going to say, “You’re such a fool. You thought you were going to teach us from these interviews? You couldn’t even get yourself out of a box.” What was it for you?

Alex: Yeah. I think it was that. It was like, “Am I making a horrible mistake? Do I know–am I equipped to do the thing that I’m saying that I say I want to do? Will I be able to pull it off? Am I just a fool and filled with hubris?”

Andrew: Can you take me through one time? I’ve heard you say in Creative Live good stories are when you ask about one incident, one moment. Was there one moment when you were really afraid in the beginning, where it was shocking?

Alex: Yeah. I mean . . .

Andrew: Tell me about it.

Alex: I talked about this a little bit on Startup, but I remember coming back from my first interview, my first sort of like meeting with Chris Sacca, and I don’t know, it was like after–no, it was after the second meeting. I’d gone out to meet Chris Sacca, and he gave me what I now recognize as sort of like the VC brush off, which is like, “This is a really cool idea. I’m not ready to invest right now, but come back out once you’ve done this and this and this and see us.”

And so I’d come back out and I’d met his partner, Matt Mazzeo. And I had this sort of naïve–like I’d had pretty much success at that point. So I had won some awards in public radio, and I was running Planet Money, so I was sort of at the top of my career in that world. I felt like a little bit of a big deal.

And then I got out there and I was talking to Matt Mazzeo and they’re thinking–what they’re comparing you to is like a huge company, like multi-billion dollar company. They’re looking for the next Twitter, the next Uber. They’re working with like kids who come out of Stanford who are like geniuses, fluent in seven languages, perfect SAT scores.

Andrew: Who don’t have so much grey hair, let’s be honest.

Alex: Geniuses, young. All of a sudden, I realized these are the people I’m competing against. I’m competing against the best and the brightest of the entire world, and I’m going to be compared to the Mark Zuckerbergs and the Bill Gates’ and the Steve Jobs’ of the world and I’m not worthy at all. It just felt like wow, I’ve now entered like a whole different league, and I’m in no way prepared to be sort of like doing battle there. And it was just like a really humbling–just remember thinking, “Why did I do this? What was I possibly thinking?”

Andrew: Were you already out of NPR at that point?

Alex: Yeah. I’d already quit.

Andrew: Okay. And then you actually ended up growing your audience bigger than you expected, more revenue than you expected. We’ll talk about how you did that, especially the audience part I’m curious about.

But first, I’m going to do an ad. Now, Alex, I like the way that you guys redid the ads on your show. You actually went and talked to the guest. You had a story within the ad and I think Matt even said that people have asked you to have a podcast of nothing but the ads, which ordinarily I would think was BS, but I get it. It’s good storytelling. So give me especially the negative. I don’t even want the positive. I can congratulate myself on my own, the negative of how I’m about to do this.

Here’s the ad. It’s for a company called DesignCrowd. Anyone who’s listening to me knows that for a long time, my iTunes presence was really ugly. It was this black and white photo that someone took in my office. They turned it black and white, which, Alex, really means the photo was ugly and if they turned it black and white so it could look a little classy. So ugly-classy is better than ugly-ugly. So we had that, and then we put my logo on it, which who cares? Mixergy’s logo, why would anyone subscribe just because of the logo? And startup stories underneath it because I thought people are about startups.

Anyway, the whole thing was a mess. For years that went on and I never touched it because I was secretly afraid. I’m afraid of design. I could logic my ways through stories. If you’re listening to this podcast at all, Alex, you can kind of see how I’m using the mechanics of storytelling to start off, but without logic and mechanics, I don’t even know how to make something look good. So I stayed away from it before.

And then even when DesignCrowd did my first run of ads, Alex, I’m so embarrassed to say this. I ran the ads for them because I knew they’d help my friends, but I never used it myself because I was too afraid to use it. They said, “Look, Andrew, we’re going to give you a free account, go use it. Do whatever you want.” And I still couldn’t use it even though I had this need.

Then one night my wife was out of town and I had nothing else to do, so I went to check out DesignCrowd. They had one box. I tell them what I’m looking for. It turns out I had opinions. I specifically used you guys. I said, “It has a small logo. I don’t need a logo. Make the point big. Make my picture clear.” So I told them that. I had opinions in a box. I hit Submit. It said take out your credit card. I said these guys will do it for free, but it’s nothing, $200. I put in my credit card. I bought it.

The next Monday I forgot about it. I got into work. Boom. I get dozens of designs from literally dozens of designers. I ended up picking the perfect one for me. Now if you look at iTunes right now if you’re listening to me, there’s a brand new design today because of them. I’m so proud of the design. I never asked them to pay for it because it cost hardly anything.

And if you’re listening to me, you can use the same discount code I use. Just go to DesignCrowd.com/Mixergy. They’re going to give you up to $100 off your custom design. It’s not just me. Anyone can get dozens of designs from dozens of different creatives. They will follow your direction to create something that’s perfect for you, 100 percent money back guarantee. If it’s not right, you let them know–DesignCrowd.com/Mixergy.

Alex: All right.

Andrew: Only the negative.

Alex: The negative?

Andrew: Yes.

Alex: It’s hard to say. That’s good. That’s a compelling ad.

Andrew: Thank you.

Alex: You put yourself in it. I think one of the reasons that ads on podcasts work is that you can tell when somebody–we have a relationship with the host. The listener has a relationship with the host. So, if you’re telling something and you’re excited about it, we can feel that. So I think in that sense it was a compelling personal narrative that you gave. I was sold. It actually compelled me to look at your–

Andrew: The URL? Great.

Alex: Look at the logo. Is that the one with you punching forward?

Andrew: Yes.

Alex: Yeah, it’s good. It pops. Yellow background. Negative, what would I say about negative, from a storytelling perspective?

Andrew: Uh-huh.

Alex: Just a couple minor–if you edited this podcast, I would edit out a couple minor sort of things where there were asides that didn’t add to the story but slowed it down, a couple small things.

Andrew: You know what, Alex. I’m glad you brought that up. Here’s my problem with storytelling. I used to work for Dale Carnegie. They’re all about teaching storytelling to people who are in business not telling stories. I remember learning why storytelling will actually convince people, but the challenge I always had with it is I feel like businesspeople like my audience just want to get to the point.

So, in my head, as I’m telling the story, I know you’re going to remember it better through my story. You’re going to trust it because of my story, but I’m also taking up your time. So I can’t get that, “I’m taking up their time,” worry out of my head. What do you do about that?

Alex: I have that worry too, and I think that’s what makes a good storyteller. You’re always holding two things. You want to get things across. You have information you are burning to tell somebody, but you also are aware that the other person might not give a shit about what you’re saying.

Andrew: Right.

Alex: Can we cuss on your podcast? I’m sorry.

Andrew: Yeah.

Alex: So you want to hold those two things both in your mind. We have the luxury of being able to edit the stuff out. So we can go long and then cut it down later. But yeah, I think that’s what makes a great story is knowing a compelling detail will sell the story, but also knowing that too many compelling details muddy the story. You’ve got to find that line and that’s what a great story always is, like finding the line between the right amount of detail, too many details, too few details. Too few details, there’s nothing to hold on to. Too many and you’ve drowned people information.

Andrew: It takes forever. I have to be honest with you. I told you before we started if you give out a number like what your revenue is and you want me to edit it out later, I’m not doing that. I say that as a point of pride, because I want the audience to know you’re going to get stuff that you’re not supposed to get. People sometimes will spill things by accident and that’s what makes Mixergy so interesting.

But I’ll be honest with you, Alex, part of my reason for doing it is I don’t even know the first thing about editing. I didn’t even know what it would cost to edit. So I thought, “I’m going to use my weakness, lack of editing, as a strength.” So let me ask you, as a guy who sees editing as a strength of your work, what does it cost? How much time does it take to take an interview like this and edit it down to your criteria?

Alex: It can take as little or as much time as you want. We do really, really time-consuming, expensive edited podcasts. That’s sort of what we do. Some of them are more time-consuming than others, and sometimes we layer in music. Some podcasts, some episodes we’ll go through I don’t know, 49, 50 revisions. It’s sort of super fine tuning, rough cuts, etc. Some podcasts it will be like there’s an average of two or three edits and then it’s out the door.

At its simplest version, it’s simply finding an audio program. They’re super simple. You can get a bunch of them. Then it’s almost like cutting and pasting in Microsoft Word. Instead of the words, there are the waveforms.

Andrew: But it takes so much longer to listen. You said actually one of the things I do well is, “I speed edit or I edit fast.” How do you do that? If you have a 30-minute show and you’re going over it dozens of times, how do you not have it take dozens of times times 30 minutes?

Alex: That’s what it is. It’s sort of real time. Yeah. There’s no way to do–like the minute you commit to an edit, you commit to at least probably tripling your time commitment to the project you’re doing. Your podcast is going to take basically as long to produce as it is for us to have our conversation. You’ve got to press a couple buttons in the beginning, press a couple buttons at the end. And like the great thing about that is you can have a great, great product. Depending on the strength of our conversation, if we have a great conversation and people like it, they’re listening to something that’s like approaching as good as anything in audio.

Andrew: Right.

Alex: The hard thing about that is there’s always going to be something that can be a little bit better if you take it out. What I always say is once you’ve committed to the kinds of stories that we do, the edited stories, then you automatically, the minute you set foot into the editing pool, you have set the bar so much higher, to mix my metaphors.

Andrew: I get it.

Alex: But you’ve now committed to doing something that is like much better, because a pretty good real-time interview is way better than a poorly executed. . .

Andrew: What does it cost to hire a good editor? I’m getting a little too in the weeds, and I promise my audience if you’re listening, we’re going to get into how he markets his stuff. Considering that he’s not a marketer, it’s really interesting, and about sales and so much more that’s business related. What does it cost to hire a good editor?

Alex: I will answer that question in one second in real time. This is a real life thing. Hey, Kevin, I left my power cord. . .

Andrew: That’s so interesting. I saw you look over.

Alex: I was about to run out of power. I just realized I had nine percent of my battery. There’s one of them on my desk. There’s probably one outside.

Andrew: I might need to–what are you on? What computer are you on right now?

Alex: I’m on a Mac.

Andrew: Okay.

Alex: Mac laptop. What does it cost to hire a good editor?

Andrew: I think we just might have lost you. This is one of the powers of editing. This kind of thing would just be chopped out.

Alex: Someone who knows Pro Tools and knows how to edit in Pro Tools, you can somebody with those skills for like–

Andrew: Sorry. We totally lost you until just now. What were you saying it cost?

Alex: Sorry. It’s a complicated question. What does it cost to get somebody who knows how to operate Pro Tools and knows the technical editing–

Andrew: No, the content.

Alex: The content, man, that is like definitely six figures, if not mid–they’re in demand. We’re trying to hire people who have a lot of experience producing high quality audio content that is like they’re rare. They’re very rare and they’re in high demand now because lots and lots of people are coming into this sector of marketing.

Andrew: Even in terrestrial radio they don’t have that. It’s only NPR that I know of that does that kind of storytelling and editing.

Alex: Yeah, because for so long, it didn’t make any economic sense to get good at it. There was no reason. I used to teach a narrative–I used to teach a documentary radio journalism class at Columbia University. I was the professor. My class was always oversubscribed because I was working at This American Life and This American Life was a popular program. People were super psyched about This American Life. They would sign up for my class. I would teach them. I loved it.

But I always felt I should apologize to them afterward–this was in the early 2000s–I was like, “Guys, there are no jobs here for you. I’m teaching you the least marketable skill right now, how to get really good at narrative audio editing.” And now here we are, in 2017, the world has turned upside down. I couldn’t hire enough of those people fast enough. In fact, many of the people I used to teach in my Columbia course now work at Gimlet.

Andrew: I remember talking to the CTO of Yelp, and he said that when he gets together with his developers, he uses storytelling as a way of communicating with them because it’s actually going to get them to remember what he says and to believe enough in it that they’re going to go out and execute, right? I used to think, hey, if you’re the boss, people are just going to execute. You showed me you actually need to persuade them, and storytelling is a good way to do it. What’s your advice for someone like that, who’s just trying to communicate and persuade, not create a podcast? What do they need to know about storytelling to do that?

Alex: I think they need to know–well, I think you want to be–you want to find a way to connect. Storytelling is about connecting. So what you need to be is you need to be vulnerable a little bit. You need to be able to show your own weakness, your own sense of confusion. You need to be putting yourself in peril in the stories you’re telling and then hopefully getting out of peril with the moral of your story.

But like you need to be connecting on that authentic human level with your stories. I think that’s where people trust you. People don’t trust somebody they can’t fully see as a vulnerable human being. You don’t want to be weak, but you want to be human. I think that’s where storytelling can really help. If you can tell something that’s authentic and feels like it lays out a vision and connects with people on a human level, people will be very drawn to that.

Andrew: That’s something that entrepreneurs that I interview don’t accept easily. I have to tell them, “Look, please, you have to give people a challenge you’ve wrestled with or else no one is going to root for you. You’re going to look like some asshole who always had everything go well for him or a liar,” right?

Alex: Yeah.

Andrew: So what do you do to get people to be vulnerable?

Alex: Well, we’re in the business of like we can pick and choose. We audition people who–that’s one of the things I developed early on in my career is, “You’re a good talker, you’re not a good talker.” Often what that means is it–

Andrew: But that’s your on air talent. What about when you’re interviewing and a lot of your shows are based on other people’s personalities. You’re going out and interviewing them and bringing back clips. How do you–

Alex: Yeah. Sometimes we’ll audition people. We won’t go out and interview somebody. We pre-interview people a lot of the times, and if somebody is like a pre-interviewee, we won’t go out and interview them on tape. They have to have that tendency towards sort of like–you can hear it. You can hear an emotional presence in somebody who’s going to be a good interview, somebody who they’re just emotionally aware. That’s what I’m always looking for.

Andrew: Yeah.

Alex: I don’t know. It’s the way I am. It’s obviously the way you are. I don’t know if it’s a prerequisite for success. Certainly there are successful CEOs who are not vulnerable and are not emotive and are not sort of like gesticulating emotional beings like you and me. I don’t want to say that everybody needs to be like me or like you in order to like form a connection or rally people to a cause.

Andrew: If they want to tell compelling stories that people care and remember, then they need to do that, even if it’s just like, “Look, I’ve got to put on a show, so I’m going to exaggerate my own vulnerability as a way of having people connect with me, right?

Alex: Yeah.

Andrew: Fair?

Alex: It’s true. People that I have met who are in positions of like leadership, they all do have that something. They have that ability to connect and the ability to sort of be relatable even if they are pretty special.

Andrew: I like that you broke down what you thought made for a good podcast. You said companionship, action, something useful, something people could use or a good narrative. Two out of three, you’ve got a winning combination. You need at least one. Am I right?

Alex: Yeah. I was like companionship, a good narrative, and then also I think edification is sort of the way I think about it, which is sort of like learning something. I want to learn something from the podcast. So I think that’s a big use case for the podcast. Podcasting is one of the few things that you can do while you’re doing something else. It’s sort of designed for our multitasking world right now.

So I think a lot of people want to be like, “How can I make my commute more productive?” I can listen to this podcast where I learn about business. I listen about this podcast where I learn about literature or whatever. So that’s one of the buckets is learning. So narrative, companionship and learning I think are the three big buckets.

Andrew: And companionship is that part where when I was listening to Howard Stern growing up–feel free to get that charger if you need it–I was listening to Howard Stern growing up and they would tell a story about their lives, what happened with their wives, what happened with your boyfriends and you’re kind of feeling like you’re part of the family–

Alex: The divorce.

Andrew: You keep having that in the background, right?

Alex: Remember when he was going through his divorce?

Andrew: Yes. I remember him when he was in his marriage, when he and his wife would argue about tuna fish cans and that made me feel like, “I get him. I’m connected. Let’s see what happens.”

Alex: He’s a genius. He’s a genius at what we do. He is just like so good at connecting emotionally in so many ways and getting honest, vulnerable moments out of anybody. Sorry. I got caught up in my Howard Stern reverie. What was the question again?

Andrew: No, that was just a point. It was a statement. There was nothing beyond that little reminiscing. I always admired that Ira Glass at This American Life when Howard Stern was the most attacked came out and said, “I’m a listener. Actually it’s good to have this kind of this stuff out there.”

And for you to have cursed on this show and in other things that I’ve heard, I thought was kind of interesting because I think I used to imagine that you guys were just a bunch of reading nerds who would shush people who were making too much noise while you were reading to prepare for something. Instead you’re human.

Alex: In our cardigans with our leather elbow patches, exactly.

Andrew: Yeah, exactly.

Alex: No. We curse. We listen to Howard Stern. We’re no different than the rest of you.

Andrew: All right. I’ll talk about my second sponsor, and then I want to get into how you actually promoted this thing. You now had a podcast that you had to promote and then many others that you grew.

All right. The second sponsor is a company called Toptal. I never thought that I was actually the right company for Toptal because I know that they talk about was hiring the best of the best and all I had was a WordPress site. The thing about having a WordPress site is there’s a plugin for everything, I thought. There was always something I needed that I couldn’t find a plugin for.

So I finally said, “Hey, Toptal, I know you guys have the best of the best. Can I hire one of your people?” They said, “Yeah.” I said, “You know I’m on WordPress.” They said, “Dude, we work with WordPress. We work with anything. We’ve got developers here all over the world. All we care about is they’re the best of the best, but the rest we’re not snobbish about. Use WordPress. Use your own homemade site, whatever it is.”

So I went to Toptal and I hired them. And man, this guy, the first guy they sent me was good, but we didn’t click. They replaced him, got me a second person. That guy, we clicked and was so good. We were budgeting two to three weeks for the whole thing to be done. He redid our whole search in a matter of days, less than a week. I said, “This is it?” He goes, “Yeah, here it is, take it. Do whatever you want with it.” Unbelievably fast.

I’ve had people here if you’ve listened to me for any period of time you know they’ve come in for scotch night and they’ve thanked me, they’ve brought bottles of scotches to say, “Andrew, thanks for introducing me to Toptal,” because they hired one person, a team of developers, sometimes their whole company is run by Toptal developers.

So if you’re looking to hire great developers and you want the best of the best, people who are snobbish about that but open to everything else, you’ve really got to check out Toptal. Because Toptal is not just one of the–I think they’re one of the unicorns here, one of the billion-dollar companies. They’re also created by a Mixergy fan. He is giving us 80 hours of Toptal developer credit when you pay for your first 80 hours and that’s in addition to a no risk trial period of up to two weeks. Even Google doesn’t hire people with a no risk trial period. They commit.

Here, you get no risk trial period and Toptal will take care of you because they’re fans of Mixergy like you are. All you have to do is go to this special URL. It’s Toptal.com/Mixergy, top as in top of the mountain, tal as in talent–Toptal.com/Mixergy.

And because Alex said if you’re listening to me and if you’re following these sponsors it’s because you care about me and believe in me, I’m going to tell you guys here’s my email address. If you want an intro to Nelson, the guy who I know, the guy who I get together with for ramen here in San Francisco, I’d be happy to make an introduction. Just email me, Andrew@Mixergy.com. You don’t have to write it down. You’ll remember it, Andrew@Mixergy.com and I’ll be happy to introduce you to my sponsor, Toptal.

That was a nice touch. This is why I like video. I saw you smile at that and I said, “That’s good. I’m on the right track.”

Alex: Yeah.

Andrew: It must be so hard for you guys not to do video with your guests.

Alex: No. It’s not hard for me at all. I am scared by video, and I prefer the anonymity of audio.

Andrew: Is that why your mic is so big that half the time I see just eyeglasses?

Alex: Yeah, exactly. These are not mics that are made for video. These are audio only.

Andrew: But audio is more important. That’s the thing, actually. Audio now has become more important than video. That’s why I’m not showing the video as much. I’m emphasizing the podcast.

Alex: Why do you say that?

Andrew: You know what? I used to think that video–and it was–video was the number one way people consumed Mixergy. They used to really connect with me on video. They used to watch along with me. Then I realized that video was becoming a hindrance because people assumed I only did video and they were shifting towards just podcasting and so they didn’t think of me as a podcast option.

So we hid the video, only made it available to people who want it, largely I use the video to get a sense of the guest and also who knows. Maybe in three years, it will all shift again. But I’m emphasizing the podcast because podcast subscribers are more valuable. Podcast subscribers connect with you on an ongoing basis and people are looking for podcasts. They’re not necessarily looking for more video.

Andrew: Right. Not independent anyway.

Alex: Yeah.

Andrew: So let’s talk about this, this thing of how you grew your freaking audience so big. You kept going to the top of the charts, right? You guys even had like one episode of like reply all. The guy said, “That’s all we have. We have no show. We tried calling someone. We couldn’t get him on the phone. That’s it. We’re leaving.” Even that got to the top of the charts. I’m wondering what do you guys do for promotion, Alex? Don’t act above promotion. You’re an entrepreneur now, not an NPR guy. What do you do?

Alex: So we don’t do any paid marketing or anything like that. We haven’t done any paid advertising at all. Everything, all our growth has been organic. The main thing we do is what I’m doing right now. The best way to grow your podcast audience is to put yourself and your programs in front of other people who already listening to podcasts. And together, we podcasters are growing this audience.

Initially, I was able to use my connections in my old world, in my old colleagues and friends from public radio. The first big break was like the first episode of startup, where I played it for my old boss, Ira Glass, mainly just sort of like, “Hey, I’m doing this. I’d love your ears on this. You’re one of the greatest editors in the business. What do you think? Do I have anything here?” And he listened to it. This was right after I left my job there, but I was still very close with everybody as I am still today.

And he really liked it. He said, “Oh, this would be good. In fact, I would be interested in putting this on This American Life.” So I was like, “That’s great.” So the first episode of Startup ran on This American Life, which of course has a pretty massive audience. So that got us our first 50,000 listeners.

Andrew: 50,000 subscribers?

Alex: Subscribers, yeah.

Andrew: And the reason you can tell they’re subscribers, I’ve heard you use the word “subscribers” multiple times, but there’s no real way to tell. What you can tell is on an ongoing basis, we can count on about 50,000 downloads per episode. Is that how you’re doing it?

Alex: Yeah. We look at like–we just see how many downloads we get per episode. So I don’t know if it’s–I didn’t use the word “subscribers,” actually, I would say listeners. Some of them are subscribing through iTunes. Some of them are just listening on various of the other platforms.

Andrew: I see.

Alex: From my perspective they’re all–we just get counts of who listened.

Andrew: Got it. Okay.

Alex: So we assume the majority of them are subscribers, like somewhere that used to be in the 75% to 80%, and I think now it’s closer to 60% to 65% are probably listening through iTunes or on their iPhones. So that got us our first 50,000, basically. From there, it was just organic. People used to say that podcasting doesn’t go viral. It does, it just doesn’t go viral as quickly as a video because a video you can consume in 10 seconds.

So you can consume it and share it with 10 people, and it takes 10 seconds and then they’d share it and that takes 10 seconds. If you do the math, it’s sort of like 10 seconds plus multiple shares, 10 seconds plus multiple shares, things can go viral in a day. A podcast you could listen for half an hour and then share it with 10 friends. They have to listen for half an hour and share it for 10 friends. So, if you do the math. . .

Andrew: Which is what’s going to keep you from even telling 10 friends because I feel like if I’m going to tell somebody else about a podcast, I’m basically inflicting a 30-minute homework assignment on them, so it better be really good.

Alex: Yeah. It’s harder to share and then the time between consuming the content and sharing is longer.

Andrew: Right.

Alex: So what that leads to, so you’re sharing it with fewer people and each of those people has a longer lag time before they share it with their people. So things don’t go viral the same way. They still go viral, it just happens over a longer period of time.

Andrew: I feel like it’s more word of mouth than virality. Word of mouth is I have a really nice sandwich–

Alex: It depends on what you mean by viral, like it depends on–it doesn’t go viral immediately. It doesn’t happen like a video.

Andrew: What else did you do then?

Alex: What did I do? So that was our main thing. And then I continued to go on other podcasts. I went on lots and lots of other entrepreneurial podcasts. We had an episode featured on Planet Money. So all those things sort of grew the initial audience of Startup, and then from that, we were able to launch Reply All. Reply All did the same thing. They’re very socially active. So they were posting on Digg for a long time in the beginning. So they had like sort of a companion piece, a written piece they would do.

All these things are little. None of them have huge bumps. But all of it adds up. Then at a certain point we had a pretty big network of our own. Then we can launch from that network. So, then you can launch from like once you have Startup and Reply All, you can launch Crimetown. And then Crimetown goes and finds some of its own audience, and then you can sort of promote back to Reply All. It becomes a nice reinforcing cycle.

But mainly that’s what we’ve been doing. We’ve been finding ways to get in front of other listening audiences either on the radio or on podcasts. We’ve been trying to make compelling content.

Andrew: You mean I could have just had you on here because you were promoting? You know I paid $1,000 to the booker who could get me your interview? I didn’t realize it was that easy. That’s the truth. You know what? You mentioned that thing about Digg. I saw that. I’m a heavy Digg reader. It’s one of my favorite sites because they really curate interesting articles I wouldn’t consider otherwise. Rely All used to do these long-form text-based articles on there. Why did you guys stop? What was the result of that?

Alex: I think–I don’t know. I haven’t talked to them about that, why they stopped. I think it was just a matter of like resources, sort of like how much time do they have to write those articles versus how much time do they have to devote to the podcast. Another thing that we’ve found especially from Reply All is that consistency also helps. Consistency helps build your audience.

Andrew: Consistent publishing.

Alex: Consistent publishing. Yeah. That’s been one of the hallmarks of Reply All over the years. I think they’ve 10x’d their audience since we started. A lot of that has been sort of doing these things. They’ve had pieces of This American Life. They’ve had pieces on Radiolab. They have friends in the business that they’ve been able to sort of like do the kind of content that the shows want to carry. But also they’re pretty regular. They publish on a pretty regular basis. They’re there for their listener almost every week and so that helps.

Andrew: That was one of the ballsiest things that I’ve seen you do. The guys that created Reply All, I forget the show they had, but I’m a long-term listener of On the Media and they used to have this quirky show on On the Media that I used to love and I said, “How does this even get on On the Media’s podcast?” And then you hired them.

I don’t even know how to describe them to tell my audience this is one of the podcasts that I listen to on a regular basis. I can’t stop. I don’t even know why to tell them to listen. To say it’s an internet show, which is what they say, it doesn’t do it justice. They’ll go talk to a quirky guy who was on Napster or something years ago and I’ll follow along.

Alex: Yeah. They’re great. And they do a lot of that stuff. They have the companionship. You just want to hang out with them. They’re really fun to hang out with. They’re great on mic and they are great storytellers. They will take you on a journey and you’re going to go along with them because they take great care to make it fun and unexpected and like have sort of things revealed and you’re just along for the ride with them. They’re just–

Andrew: That’s kind of a gut instinct thing and you said in another–I forget where I was researching. You said, “Look, up until now it’s all been gut. I know what I feel is going to do well or I think is going to do well. That’s how I hired. Now I’ve got a system.” And then–this is where the bad connections in these podcasts stink–the connection got garbled as you’re explaining what your new process. I go, “Wait, I keep hitting 15-second rewind, I don’t know.” How do you do this? What’s the next process?

Alex: The process of like how we decide?

Andrew: Yeah, figure out what the next shows are that are worth investing in because you guys invest a lot of money and never mind time also.

Alex: Yeah. I mean, that’s something that we’re still working out. That’s been one of the big–I think I haven’t made a secret about like the challenges of sort of like that I’ve found of sort of like transitioning from my old world as like a pure content creator to my new role as like the head of a company.

And I no longer–I’m no longer making the stuff. I’m the one who has to create the conditions where the stuff gets made. A lot of what that means is putting processes in place. I’m still working it out. We’ve gotten really good at launching shows, but as we get bigger and as we continue to expand into new areas, we still have to work out what is our process. Part of it is always going to be some element of art, but we are still trying to figure out what the science is.

Andrew: What have you documented so far? I’m curious about documenting and putting a process behind art.

Alex: We have–yeah, so obviously you look at listens. That’s one of the basic like is it on a basic level? Is it connecting with an audience or not? You can see that. You can see it pretty right away. You see what kind of feedback you get on different shows. So, some shows get, you know, they just feel buzzier. You get this feedback from social media and everything. You can tell that’s connecting in a way that some other show isn’t.

We have a survey that we do–we have our members and we give early access to shows that we’re piloting to our members and we’ll ask them to give us–we’ll ask them to sort of like rate the experience of listening to this early episode. That’s not like mostly–these are sort of like very, very committed Gimlet fans. So they’re generally pretty positive. They’re probably more positive about anything than like your average sort of person on the street would be. But still, there’s good learning to be gotten from what they were–

Andrew: Sorry, I keep interrupting because I have so little time with you and I want to get so much in here.

Alex: Sure.

Andrew: Part of the reason I want to interrupt is your shows, you spend so much money on them. Like Crimetown is not a show where you can put this whole thing together and the audience tells us it’s not good. Let’s just scrap it, right? We’re talking about crime in Rhode Island, right? Over a series of weeks you’re telling the story, deep investigation. So how do you know ahead of time? Is there a way to know ahead of time?

Alex: There isn’t.

Andrew: There isn’t?

Alex: That’s the thing. That’s where you have to like trust sort of like your instincts. You have to trust the talent or the people you’re working with. There are people who are good at doing this. There have people who have gotten good at telling compelling stories, holding people’s attention. If we can continue to work with those people and we can continue to foster the skills from the people we’re working with, that’s part of what we’re doing.

Andrew: It’s interesting how you said, “Now I’m creating the process or the environment to help people run this business.” I’m wondering what kind of systems have you put in place? What kind of process already exist in a company that’s about two or three years old now?

Alex: A big part of it for us was building out the organization. So we have a key role here as editor, so that’s the person who’s got a lot of experience, a lot of depth of experience in audio. They have both an editorial role across shows and also a management role. So there’s like a big emotional component to making something–I guess to making art, to making craft. It’s scary. It’s like this weird–the people who work it are sort of creative types. So it needs a deft hand of helping to guide those people and manage them.

So we put a lot of effort into finding the right managers, the right people who can sort of lead these processes and that’s a big part of what we do. In terms of like–I can’t reveal all our secrets in terms of the processes we use–but a lot of these year is going to be about really formalizing how that works.

Andrew: Give me one, not all of it, but like you said, people come into these things to learn. There are a lot of entrepreneurs who have been doing things by gut, frankly me for a long time, who want to put more systems in place.

Alex: Yeah, man.

Andrew: What’s one system you’ve put in place that you’re as proud of as maybe an episode of one of your shows?

Alex: I know there’s an answer to this question. I’m just thinking of what it is. I think we’ve gotten pretty good at taking something from like here’s an idea and then okay, let’s prototype that idea. So we’ll put a couple producers and we’ll go out and try to do a small version of this idea and take it back and listen to it and look at it and try to figure it out. We’ve done that on almost every show that we’ve launched. We’ve made the prototype and that has–we’ll share that pretty widely. We’ll share that with the staff. We’ll share it with our members.

Once you’ve shared it with people–it’s not so much about getting the feedback as watching them. When you were watching me listen to your ad, it’s a lot of that. Like you can see where people respond, where they don’t. You can see where something that you thought was working was falling flat. So the prototyping process is something that we have now set in stone and that’s a big part of what we’re doing.

Andrew: I see.

Alex: That’s something that works.

Andrew: So the host of heavyweight might call up his dad and say, “Do you want to talk to your brother?” And then see that his dad is feeling a little awkward and you record that and play it for people.

Alex: Or with that, what we did is we went out and before we launched that show, we went out with Jonathan and we did a couple of, “Here’s what the show might be.” And we did a version of that. We tried to make it pretty quick and put it together. He wrote a script and we cut the tape together and threw it together pretty quickly. We didn’t do all the fine tuning and music and stuff, but we put it together in enough shape that you tell this is what it would sound like if this is the thing we were doing.

Andrew: I see.

Alex: It’s like close to the real thing but not like all the way. It gives you–with Homecoming we did the same thing. We prototyped that with different actors before the scripts were final. We listened to it and we were like, “Here’s what was working here. Here’s what wasn’t working. This section felt really long.” Homecoming is our fiction podcast.

Andrew: Spy drama.

Alex: Yeah. Here’s how much dialogue you can have in a scene and here’s where the dialogue goes on too long. That’s something that we have definitely, I think, gotten good at.

Andrew: All right. Here’s the final topic that I promised I would talk about and I want to get into in the conclusion here. I remember in Startup where you said to Chris Sacca something like you’re looking for this kind of a person and it was basically the image of an ideal startup guy, young, no obligations, etc.

I’m like a guy who, when I travel, I have to carry a car seat on a plane or something like that that you gave this visual. I said, “How are you going to do it, Alex? How do you?” Considering that every episode takes at least three times as long to listen to edit, probably more than that, than it does to record. How do you do that and still have a family and be there for them?

Alex: I think that it’s just like–I don’t know. I think there’s no answer other than you have to like a little bit buck the stereotype that to start a startup means devoting 80 hours a week to it. I don’t have 80 hours a week to devote to my startup. It’s not the most important thing in my life. My family is the most important thing in my life.

Given that, that’s the reality. If that means that I will fail, then I guess I will fail. But so far it hasn’t meant that. So far it’s meant that I’ve just managed my time more wisely and I have hard outs when I have to go and relieve the babysitter and I have hard outs when I have to go and get my kids to school and that’s the way it is. There’s no way around it. So, because there’s no way around it, I make it work.

Andrew: You told the interviewer at Hack the Entrepreneur, another podcast, having that forces me to delegate.

Alex: Yeah.

Andrew: That’s it?

Alex: I think that’s a big part of it too. It forces me to be more efficient with my own time. I remember before I had a family, when I had a job at This American Life, I worked way more hours as a junior producer at This American Life than I work now as the CEO of a startup, simply because I had more hours to work. It didn’t matter.

I didn’t have to be efficient because I always knew I could stay until 2:00 in the morning and get the thing done. I’d play around on the internet or do whatever. I think there’s a big myth that a lot of that 80-hour work happening at these startups isn’t work. It’s like work that could be done in 40 hours if people had like solid constraints on either end. I think that’s part of it.

And then part of it is yeah, I had to get way better at delegating, which is good, which is good for an organization. I think that’s like a bad habit that a lot of founders have is that, “I’ll just do it myself because I can just put in the extra 40 hours a week,” and I can’t put in those extra 40 hours, so I have to entrust people with these awesome responsibilities that otherwise I would be taking on myself and driving myself crazy and everybody else.

Andrew: I’m sorry. Do you have two more minutes?

Alex: Two more minutes yes.

Andrew: I was trying to figure out where you got your traffic. I’m now looking at SimilarWeb.com. Do you know this site? It tells you where traffic gets–

Alex: No.

Andrew: Okay. It’s saying The Atlantic is one source of traffic for you. The Guardian is another. New York Times is another. So, as we’re talking researching what you’re doing with those sites, it seems like you’re quoted a lot in media and also that Matt Lieber gets quoted. That seems like another way you guys have raised your profile, right?

Alex: Yeah. We’ve raised our profile. Is that traffic to our website or is that traffic to. . .?

Andrew: Traffic t o the site, which doesn’t necessarily–

Alex: The site is like a fraction of the overall interaction with our users. The vast majority of our users are through audio. That drives a little bit of traffic. Press drives a little bit of traffic. We can see the spikes in listening that comes after we got mentioned in a bunch of best of lists and stuff like that. It’s an effect, but it’s nothing like the effect of going on, you know, another podcast of a pretty large size.

Andrew: I see. That does seem like a big one. The article I see here is “50 Best Podcast Episodes of 2015” and “Belt Buckle” by The Mystery Show is one and there are a bunch of others. It’s not the same as people listening here.

Alex: And driving traffic to our site isn’t the same–that doesn’t help us. It doesn’t count as an impression with our advertisers necessarily as listening impressions.

Andrew: All right. I paid $1,000 to get you on here, by the way. I’d pay $50,000, so it was actually a good deal for me.

Alex: Yeah.

Andrew: Ira Glass is another guy on my list. You’ve worked with him. Give me an angle. If you were me, what would you say to Ira to say, “Ira, you should go do Mixergy?”

Alex: He’s picky and weird and he’s like–I love Ira. I think I would have to say your chances are very slim of booking him. He’s really hard to book now.

Andrew: Because?

Alex: I have a hard time getting a drink with him every once in a while. He’s very, very particular about what he likes to do. But you know, keep trying. It can’t hurt to try.

Andrew: I feel like peanut brittle or something weird like that is the quirky was to his heart.

Alex: No.

Andrew: No?

Alex: It’s just I don’t think–there’s not an answer. He’s one of those guys. He gets multiple requests every day.

Andrew: I thought I was the only one who recognized how good he was and I’ve got to get him on the podcast. Makes sense.

Alex: Yeah.

Andrew: All right. I’m going to close it out by suggesting that people listen to two podcasts. Frankly, you have a bunch. We mentioned Heavyweight, Homecoming, so many others.

Alex: Yeah, Reply All.

Andrew: I’m going to of course The Startup, but everyone here probably has already heard The Startup and if they haven’t, now they’re going to check it out and see. The Startup is really good. I think Reply All–it’s such a freaking quirky thing. The first time they came on, they said, “Don’t forget to check out our website. It’s at ReplyAll.limo.” Limo, who the hell does that? And then they never mentioned it again. They branded my head. Now they’re ReplyAll. I don’t know what.

Alex: They registered a bunch of weird domain names — .limo, .diamonds, like .kiwi, I think, a bunch of them.

Andrew: Right. I’m such a big fan of theirs. If you listen, there’s a very good chance you’ll hate it and there’s a very good chance you’ll love it, but I’m telling you you’ll really appreciate that Alex, what you’re doing is not like what was available on terrestrial radio. There’s a certain thing there that makes it so special. I’m honored to have you on here. Thanks so much for doing this.

Alex: Thank you so much. It was really fun.

Andrew: You bet. Thank you all for being a part of it. Bye, everyone. Don’t forget Toptal.com/Mixergy, DesignCrowd.com/Mixergy. Bye-bye, Alex.

Alex: All right.


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