#63 - We’ve had twelve new interviews since Career Crossroads one year anniversary so it’s time for another update episode. Let’s talk about both the good and the bad of the last three months of running Career Crossroads, and what changes are coming in the short term.
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The below transcript is A.I generated with light editing and may not be 100% accurate.
Good morning, good afternoon or good evening, you listening to career crossroads. And if you're new here, welcome, for not new. Welcome back. I'm Jonathan Collaton. And this is the podcast where I talk to people about all the pivots, changes and life events that led them to their current career path. Except for today, because it has been three months since the last time I spoke to you directly without having an interview. So today is the day we do another update episode. And, oh, boy, I think this could be an interesting one. There's going to be some good to talk about there's going to be some bad to talk about. And I'm definitely gonna get real and tell you some of the realities of life for me, as a guy trend run a podcast for the last, however long I've been doing it, but I'm really going to talk about the last three months and maybe the last six months overall as well, because there was some changes that occurred about six months ago. So first, let's talk about what's happened in the last three months. And in the number of episodes that I've put out since the last update episode. Now, the last update episode was the one year anniversary of career crossroads. And that was a really exciting time. For me, it felt awesome to have gotten through a whole year of this podcast. And I felt like I had achieved a lot of the things I was setting out to do. And things were good. And since that time, the 12 interviews I put out I think are really good interviews. I think there was a really good mix. I had people from Canada, from the US from Taiwan from the UK, I spoke to people who are now florists and political lobbyists and business consultants and tick tock stars, and career coaches. And I got to talk about Greg from recovering from a coma. And Robert from finding a career that was accessible to someone who is blind. I've had all these great conversations, and I don't often go back, almost never actually go back and listen to the episodes once they're posted, because I have the conversation, then I edit the conversation, I've heard everything two or three times by the time the episode comes out, and you're hearing it. But I would think that if I were to go back and listen to any of those episodes, now I'd be quite happy with how all of them turned out. So it's been a good three weeks in or three months in that regard. And even better is of those 12 people, I only had to seek out three of them, which is fantastic. The rest of those interviewees either reached out to me directly, or were recommended by people who listened to this podcast or friends of mine, which is fantastic. So I can look back at what's gone on over the last three months and be really happy about the product that I've been able to put out there and the way in which these interviews have shown up. But at the same time, not everything has been super easy. And so the first thing I want to talk about is my social media strategy. And social media is only important in this context, because it is the secondary way that people find out about this podcast, the primary is word of mouth. So you recommending a podcast you like to someone else is the most common way for someone to find out about it. But as a podcaster the best way for me to go out there and try to promote this show is to be active on social media and hope that the organic growth will come if you do the right things. And right around August right before the one year anniversary of the podcast, I started to make some changes to my social media strategy with the hopes of reaching a wider audience because my goals dictate that I need to get a wider audience for this podcast. And I was trying to take inspiration from other podcasts that I have seen do things a little bit differently. So I wasn't just making things up for no reason I was looking at Jason from The Background Dancer who is someone who has been on the show before. He asked me in August to make a video when I was actually on his podcast. And that got me really into the idea of branching out and changing my strategy to add videos as a way to engage people. And the other podcast I looked at was Passion Pod which is run by Chris who was also on this podcast over a year ago I think at this point, or just shy of a year ago. And Chris has had a ton of success in the last however long he's been doing the show for but the last year in particular his social media presence exploded like there was a couple weeks where he jumped up by 10,000 followers on Instagram. And I looked at what Chris was doing and thought I should try and do more of what he is doing. And what I noticed was, Chris was doing more Instagram stories as a way to make sure his show was always right up at the top of your Instagram when you open the app. So I thought, okay, how can I make more Instagram stories so that I can consistently have something that is showing, so to remind people that there is this podcast, they follow it, and here is new content from this podcast. And the other thing that I sort of was prompted to do from Jason asking me to make that video about my appearance on his podcast was look at things like Instagram reels, which can double as tiktoks or tiktoks, that can double as Instagram reels depending on how you look at it. And I thought it would be a really good way to branch out and hook new people. Because those are pushed to other people. It's not like a post where you'd have to look for a hashtag, or perhaps just find it on the Explorer screen. If you are scrolling through looking at reels, it'll get pushed to you, or, in my case, more. So tic TOCs. I've spent far too much time in the last year or so on tic toc. And so I thought, Okay, let me find ways to make this content engaging. And so I take what I think are interesting things about each person I've interviewed and try and hook people by by first kind of telling a story and then explaining if they want to hear more about that they can hear it on my podcast. And I've had some success with that. So that's definitely something I'm going to keep doing. But what I found with everything else that I'm doing, and even the things I haven't changed, like weekly posts promoting new episodes, is that I am just getting killed by the Instagram algorithms. And Instagram is just not showing my posts to as many people as it was before. In a lot of cases, it's 30 or 40% less people than it was before. And in extreme cases, it's more than that. And that makes it really hard to want to keep putting in the work to create that promotional content and shadow to my wife, Natasha, because it's not me creating all of it, I just have to come up with some of the ideas for it. But she's the artist behind a lot of this stuff. And I don't want her to keep putting all this hard work into things that don't seem to be useful in terms of, of grabbing people's attention. The problem is, I don't really know if it's grabbing people's attention, because Instagram is just not showing it to people. So that's just a frustration I want to express. And I have a small simple request, which is, if you're already on your phone listening to this, go and help me break that mold and just go like my most recent post, or share it with a friend or save it. Or follow me if you're not already following me at career underscore Crossroads on Instagram and try to help me break out of this trend, I want to get back to a place where a lot of people can see the content that is getting created for Instagram, and that'll help more people see it. So that would be great. And since you're already looking at your phone, in order to go to Instagram, of course, if you happen to be listening to this on Spotify, you're going to notice a brand new little button on Spotify, right under the Follow button. There is now a star rating because Spotify has now added ratings for podcasts. And so if you've listened to a few episodes on Spotify, you can now go and rate the show and five stars. That's something you've always been able to do on Apple podcast, but it is a shiny new feature on Spotify. And for anyone who does listen on there, it'd be great if you can throw down a rating. And that way anybody who comes across the show, because if you search for career, at least in Canada, I am one of the first four shows that show up. And that will help people decide if they should listen to my show, or one of the other shows that pop up if they're looking for career podcasts. Much appreciated. The ratings are international. So wherever you are, if you contribute to rating the show, it will help that rating display anywhere else in the world. So I would very much appreciate that. Now when it comes to the negatives of the last three months or so, those are small things like yes, Instagram is very important. But at the end of the day, it is just Instagram. It's just a way to help promote my show, but if people are recommending it to their friends or to other people then that's gonna go a long way anyway, so Instagram, it's really a small inconvenience overall. But I have had an experience over the last couple months that was really like a tough situation for me and I want to talk about it because it bothered me a lot at the time. And I spoke to a very good friend of mine about it. And he said, You really should, should talk about this on the podcast because it's related to the show. And, and I think being open about both the positives and negative side of trying to figure out my own career and kind of the the product that is this podcast and how that is, how that is affecting me both the good and the bad, I think it's important to share. And that's what my friend told me. And I agree. So let me share this experience with you. So sometime, back in October I think, I was approached by a company that tries to connect podcast advertisers with podcasts, and they had a company who they were working with who wanted to advertise on a podcast about careers. And I'm not gonna talk about the names of these companies. But this, this middleman company, they found my podcast, and they reached out and they said, Hey, we have a sponsor that wants to be on a podcast, and we think you'd be a good fit. Are you open to meeting with us to talk about it? And I at the time thought, based on a typical sort of sponsorship model for podcasts, and my listenership, it might not be worth it financially for me to do the work, to come up with ad content and run an ad that inevitably, one of the downsides of ads is some people who listen to your show will stop listening to your show, because they don't want to hear a bunch of ads. And I understand that. And so when I kind of weighed the pros and cons, I thought, I don't know if this is going to be worth it for me. But at the end of the day, if this is something that I want to take seriously, and I've mentioned before I talked about it on the update episode, at the one year anniversary point that whatever my day job is the podcast is something I enjoy doing, and I want to make it..I want to make it a career or part of a career. So I thought there's no downside to meeting with this company hearing what they have to say, the worst case scenario is I will learn something new that I did not learn before. And all it took is my time. So let's have the meeting. And we'll see what comes of it. So I've added this middleman company, and their product is in beta. So they don't have it sounds like a ton of podcasters on the roster, which was kind of nice, because they wanted to work very closely with me. And part of what they do is negotiate with the sponsor and figure out all the parts of the contract. And so I said, you know, I'm willing to try this, let's see what happens. There's no commitment here I can, I can see how things shake out. And before I sign any contracts on though, is it worth it? So they went and spoke to the sponsor, and they came back and they had negotiated a price that was not life changing money by any means it was the kind of money that would allow this to become a break even podcast, though, which is not nothing. Because, like, yes, part of this as a hobby, and I have to spend money on it to do it every month. But you know, how nice would it be to not spend money on your hobbies or hate to have them paid for by somebody else? So I thought, well, it was enough money that that for me, it was going to be worth it. And I said like, okay, let's let's do this, I researched the company that wanted to sponsor the podcast, they seemed like it would be a good fit. And so I thought, Alright, we'll try this and, and they had proposed an eight week ad run. So every week for eight weeks for the newest eight episodes, that would be an ad that would play right at the beginning. And I wrote the ad and I recorded the ad. And I got along quite well with the contact at this sponsor company. And we went back and forth. And I actually re recorded it three different times making some modifications. And it sounded like this was a very positive thing that was happening. And then an email that I received the Friday just prior to the Wednesday that the ad would have started playing. I got this email and I just knew something was off. And what felt sort of off was that I realized that the audience they were trying to target was not the audience that is listening to this show, as much as I would like them to be. So for some context, the predominant age bracket that listens to this podcast is 28 to 35. That represents about 50% of all people who listen to this show. And that's just based on Spotify numbers and if I extrapolate them and assume that The rest of the people listening on other platforms are of a similar age bracket 20 to 35 50%. But high school students are not a very high percentage of listeners of this podcast. And it very much seemed like that is who they were trying to target. And I had indicated in my initial meeting with this company, the middleman that that is an emerging market that I would like to be able to target more. But a lot of who I am connecting with is people who are looking to change their careers, and maybe are going back to school. And I think they maybe misheard that. But it should have mattered because I had to provide all my demographic data anyway. So I gave them all of this information about gender split and age bracket and that kind of thing. And it occurred to me from this email I received that I think the sponsor is looking to target an audience that is not listening to my show. And I had this sort of moral concern that if I didn't clarify, I would feel bad about taking their money. So I sent an email to this middleman and I said, Hey, why are they assuming my audiences all this, I just want to make sure that this is a win win scenario for everybody. And there was some emails back and forth over the weekend. And I just had this feeling that something was going to go wrong. But I wasn't worried because I had a contract. And the contract said that I should be getting my deposit before the ad ever airs. And I had already done the work to prep for the ad. So I just, it didn't feel great. But I knew Okay, at the end of this, I'll still come out of it with something. And on the Monday, at 6pm 30 hours before the ad should have started airing, this middleman company decides that my contract with them is worthless, and rips it up. And I've got to tell you was perhaps, the angriest I've ever been, as I went back and forth with them and tried to convey that you seem to be having a problem with the sponsor with your contract with them. My contract is with you. And I have done everything that has been required of me. And then they claimed I never gave them demographic data. And that really bothered me because I had to be the one to point out to them that on their own website, I literally could not have created my profile for someone to look at my podcast without providing them the demographic data. And I was just, it was so upsetting how this thing was going sideways. And it seemed like it was because of a mistake from somebody else. And I had, I was getting caught up in somebody else's mistake. And it was. So anger was part of it. But I was frustrated. And I felt like a fraud. Because in the episode that the ad was supposed to air with that was my my interview with Ken Coleman, which for me was a big deal because Ken Coleman's people reaching out to me to interview him that seemed like this podcast is headed in the right direction, this podcast, it's, I'm getting these bigger guests that will help grow my audience. And now I have a sponsor like things are going in the right direction. And I talked about it to Ken during our interview, I even said like, I have a sponsor now for your episode. And this is what I want to do. And then for me to not have an add to play. during that episode, I felt embarrassed, like I was trying to be some sort of big shot that I wasn't. And it just overall all these emotions just, it felt like this step that I was about to take was now gone. And all these feelings were in stark contrast to the sense of validation that I had felt days prior. Because what I have neglected to mention so far is this was all happening in the second month of me moving down to working 80% full time only going into work four days a week. And that was all with the objective of having more time to spend on this podcast to make it more of a realistic option as part of a career for me. So I felt like it was headed in that direction. And then all of these emotions just struck and it felt like suddenly the thing I was working towards was basically impossible now. So that was tough to go from one end of the spectrum to the other and not knowing how to sort of get back to that other end. And I was talking to my friend as I said, and he He pointed out like, this is just a really good example of some of the things you talk about sometimes that like, sometimes things just happen, and things don't work out. It's not your fault. This is just a situation that didn't go the way you had hoped it would go. But it's not the end of the world. It's a setback. And you'll move on, and you'll move forward from this. And it felt really good to hear that. And that's why I wanted to share this story. A big part of what I try and do every week is share some sort of lesson we can learn and what I have recently learned, his stuff just happens sometimes, and you got to just deal with the fallout, and try and move past it. And I am putting this event in my rearview mirror, and I am moving on from it. But it's not the end of my whole opportunity to have a career doing this type of thing. It's just, it's part of my story. Now it's part of my journey. So. So that's where I'm at. That's what that's that story for you. So given some of these positives in the last three months, and some of these negatives, what is in store for the future of career crossroads, at least in the short term, that's something I want to talk about. And the truth is that, at the moment, the negatives, and not just the ones I've talked about ones I'll talk about here in a minute have, they are winning over the positives at this very moment in time. And so I've decided I need to take a break, and not just the two week break that I've taken a couple times before, I need more time than that. And I don't know if it's going to be a month or or more than a month, I just really don't know. But what I do know is that I've been structuring my whole life around this podcast for 16 months now since I started it. And for a lot of that time, that was not a problem. This is it's a hobby of mine. I like doing it, I feel like I'm providing value and helping some people and it was helping me the way that I wanted it to help me. So no problem, all good, right? Well, for the first nine or 10 months, it felt easy. But for the last three, or maybe even six, it just has not felt easy anymore, it's begun to feel like work. And sometimes it's work I don't want to do. And I think when I referenced that six months span, that's because of the pressure I've put on myself to succeed, especially given that I took a risk by working less and earning less money to try and make this part of a future career. But I'm not making any money. Right now I'm not making money from people choosing to financially support the show. And so I turned to sponsorship when that opportunity presented itself and that deal fell through. And all of this is compounded by the ever evolving threat of COVID, which keeps just kicking me in the teeth when it comes to my day job and my ability to plan for something and carry out that plan because restrictions in Ontario in particular, keep changing the the policies of the university I work at have been changing. And it's made it very hard for me personally, to do my job and feel like I can come home and be my best self after my work hours. On top of that, there's been some medical stuff going on in my family that's been quite stressful. And all of this stuff has just resulted in a moment recently where I was working on last week's episode. And I was just filled with dread at the thought of completing it. It had nothing to do with the interview. I really liked talking to Dakota and we had a great conversation after the interview about working together in the future on a project and I'm excited for all of this future stuff. But when I had to come up with what the lessons from that interview are going to be than record that edit that write the show notes. It was just so hard in a way that it wasn't always this hard. And I just had this moment where I was like, I need to quit this podcast I think I think I need to quit it so I can gain my time and energy back to just do the things that make me happy in the short term. I needed I thought I just I need to go watch movies, play video games, read books, go for a walk, and it's not like these things aren't happening. They're just not happening as much as they used to before I decided to commit to putting out An episode of a podcast every week. So I want to get back to enjoying this podcast because it, it has been something that has brought me a lot of joy in the last 16 months. But I need it to be back to being fun. And maybe not easy, but easier than it's been. And actually feeling like it's leading towards a better future for myself and my family. And I think it's possible to get back to that, which is why I'm even talking about this. I don't get a ton of feedback about the podcast. But what I do get is positive. And I really, really appreciate hearing from people who feel like they have something to say after hearing an episode. And some people have told me it's helped them and I want to be able to keep doing that. But I can't do that. Today, after this episode, I can't I need a break. So I'm going to take some time off. I'm going to come back refreshed and hopefully better able to help people and better able to help myself. In the meantime, because I don't want there to just be nothing for people who are committed listeners to this. I'm going to rerelease one old episode each week, because there's always new people finding this podcast to maybe they haven't listened to every episode they've just picked up from the first time they heard it and listened from then on. So I want to give them a chance to check out some of the great earlier episodes that they might have missed. So you'll see these rereleased episodes coming out now indicate their rereleased when they come out over the coming however long they come out for. So that's the plan. And given that I'm recording this on December 21. What I want to say to you is Merry Christmas Happy New Years. I hope you're enjoying any other holiday you might be celebrating at this time of year. And I guess I will see you when I see you