Driving the CBus

In this episode, I interview Scott McComb, President and CEO of Heartland Bank – and host of the podcast Driving the CBus. Featuring insights from individual contributors from all corners, nooks and crannies of the Columbus, Ohio region, Scott has a goal to get to the why of our evolving and eclectic environment. We cover why he started the podcast, what he wants to accomplish, and what the future holds for the podcast.

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Brett Johnson:
So Scott, a non-profit you, or Heartland Bank likes to support. Tell me about it.

Scott McComb:
Yeah that's … How much time do we have? That is a extremely large question. Part of what community banking is all about is focusing on the community, and what is needed in the community. Because of that, we are sponsors, and supporters of well over 100 nonprofit organizations inside of Central Ohio, and on a national basis.

Scott McComb:
Some of the larger ones I think that we have supported is we are a big supporter of the USO of Central and Southern Ohio – "We're the Force behind the Force" – that are armed-forces men, and women in active duty service.

Scott McComb:
Our big mantra for the bank on an annual basis … We have a golf outing that supports children's charities. We firmly believe in the principle set by Colin Powell. The little red wagon concept that he had, about 15-20 years ago, where, if you can invest in a child's- early-childhood-development type causes, you can make a serious impact to their lives.

Scott McComb:
That brings us to all kinds of different charities that we've supported over the course of time, whether it's Junior Achievement, or whether it's the Lutheran Social Services, which is a very diverse group. Everything from Meals on Wheels, to childhood development, to reading, and workforce development, to … Victory Ministries is another one that we've supported. The Ohio Dyslexic Learning Center for children with dyslexia. That's hard to say, today, for whatever reason. There's just a whole host of ones that we've covered. Special Olympics … I couldn't list them all.

Brett Johnson:
Sure. That sounds good. I think there are certain categories of businesses that are obligated, almost. It's a good thing to do, and you know you need to do it. It's not one of those, "Hey, we've got to do this now" No, We've gotta do this." [cross talk].

Scott McComb:
Community banking is about taking capital inside the community. We take deposits, and investors that are willing to give us their capital, so we can provide them a return. Those are our shareholders. Then, we take depositors' money, loan it out locally to businesses, and it becomes this perpetual circle.

Scott McComb:
One of the things that is super-important is benevolence. Making sure that there's a food pantry, and that the food pantry has the resources it needs, in every community that we serve; things like that. It's just what community banking is all about.

Brett Johnson:
Right. Let's talk a little bit about your professional background, and history up to this point.

Scott McComb:
Sure. I have a very different background than most folks in my business. I'm an entrepreneur in the banking world. My father was a career banker; started off in a finance company, then got into community banking, here in town, with the Grove City Savings Bank in 1967.

Scott McComb:
That's when we moved to town, and I was one years old. I was born in Ironton, Ohio, and came up here … My whole family's from West Virginia. We are hillbillies, and the rest of the family's still living in the trailer behind the house in the holler. That's just the way it happens.

Scott McComb:
We were lucky enough to make it out of there, through the power of 4-H. My father actually made it out of the mountains, because he got a scholarship to Marshall University to be the captain of the livestock judging team … He majored in biology. Very eclectic background, there.

Scott McComb:
My background: we moved to Grove City, Ohio, here, and my father ran the Grove City Savings Bank for a guy named Jack Havens, who is one of the founders of modern-day Columbus, really. Chairman of Bank One; Chairman of the Ohio State University. He worked for him, and George Gestos.

Scott McComb:
Anyway, long story short, I finished high school. I was in college. Went to Grove City High School. Went to Ohio State … I was either gonna go to Ohio State, or go in the Marine Corps, because I was kind of a troubled youth. I was never really in trouble, but I liked to have fun … I think we've all been there.

Scott McComb:
I went to Ohio State, and I majored in High Street, and High Street was-

Brett Johnson:
I've heard that twice now, on my podcast.

Scott McComb:
Yeah, High Street is a great place. You learn to budget. You learn to love. You learn to fight. All those great things, right? I majored in High Street. Never really even declared a major, until I went back the second time, frankly.

Scott McComb:
When my father got to a certain point, where his bank was sold – he was working for a larger bank – he started Heartland Bank, and he was going to start Heartland Bancorp from scratch, and buy another smaller bank, and change the name to Heartland. That's how Heartland started.

Scott McComb:
When he did that though, he realized … He had a big epiphany moment in his life, where he said, "You know, really, Scott, the only way to wealth, to true wealth, is to own a business, and to earn money through equity; earn capital through equity. You can't really save your way to wealth, and to financial independence. It's just extremely difficult to do that."

Scott McComb:
He encouraged me to start my own business, as well. I was, again, majoring in High Street, and he helped me … He helped me start a home and business monitored-security-system company. I started that when I was 20. I ran that for about 10 years. It was called PFM Alert Systems. That standed for Police, Fire, and Medical Alert Systems.

Scott McComb:
That sprouted a couple other things. I sprouted a janitorial business, because I didn't make any money in the security business, for the first four or five years. To pay the mortgage, I had to clean other offices, and it just so happened, he needed a janitor at the bank. My first job at Heartland Bank, I was the janitor.

Scott McComb:
I cleaned the office in the Grove City office. Then, we had a Wilson Road office; then we had a 161 Frantz Road-Dublin office. I cleaned that. I had three or four different cleaning jobs. Then I started contracting out for other cleaning jobs, and that became a whole business, where I had employees, and 1099 contractors, and that kind of stuff. Meanwhile, the security business continued to thrive, and do really well.

Scott McComb:
I took the proverbial quarter off of High Street, at Ohio State, because reality was hitting me in the head, and I was doing … I was starting to do well. I was starting to turn a profit, and do those things, so I dropped out of school, and I just ran my business.

Scott McComb:
Did really well for about 10 years in that business. I was offered a number to … Was approached to sell the business, and they said "Well, just write a number on a piece of paper", and I wrote a number on the piece paper. and they took it; and I thought, "Damn, I should have probably asked for more money!"

Brett Johnson:
One more zero! Why not one more zero? Yeah, right.

Scott McComb:
My gosh, what did I do? Anyway, I went to work …I sold the business; did really well. Paid off all my debt. Put away money for the kid's college education. Went on to work for corporate America, with a company called Vector Security. Vector's one of the top three, probably, alarm companies in the nation, and a very, very good company, but you can't own any of the company; no one can own any of the company.

Scott McComb:
It's actually a wholly owned subsidiary of the Philadelphia Contributionship, which is the very first insurance company that was started by Benjamin Franklin in 1752. Goes way, way, way, way, way, back, and no one owns any of it except for the Philadelphia Contributionship. They paid me very well, but it was very disenchanting, because I wasn't building equity again.

Scott McComb:
I was going to start something else. I gave them three months' notice, and said, "Guys, this has been great. You paid me really well; took care of me, but I really gotta build equity, here. I've learned the only way to true wealth is through owning a business, and creating equity through sweat equity, and creating values."

Scott McComb:
I left there, and I was going to start something else. My father and I were on a golf trip in Orlando, Florida, and we're sitting at the bar having a Jack Daniels. That's what him and I like to drink, and what we drink together. I said to him, "Hey, is there anything I could do for you at the bank?" and he said, "Let's talk about that."

Scott McComb:
He laid out a whole plan of what I would do at the bank, and he agreed to give me a salary, which was 50 percent of what I was making at Vector Security, but I had no experience in the banking business. I said, "Okay, great. Let's do it."

Scott McComb:
I joined him at the bank as the Director of Internet Banking. We launched – very first thing that was in the technology world – driving, launching an internet bank, or the internet portion of the bank, in 1999, which was pretty revolutionary back in 1999.

Scott McComb:
I started there, and my entrepreneurial skills that I had learned in the previous decade really just kicked in, in the banking world. There's not a lot of entrepreneurs in the banking world. It was very easy to go in, and make common-sense decisions, work circles around folks … Entrepreneurs work 10-12 hours a day. That's what they do every day. Bankers not so much; bankers are usually [cross talk]

Brett Johnson:
The banker hours come true.

Scott McComb:
-working the banker hours. Not so much anymore, but back in that time frame, that's the way it was. I joined the bank, and I never really gave up any responsibility. I learned the business. I was a teller for a while. I was the worst teller on the planet. I have dyslexia, so I transposed numbers, I can't read really fast, unless it's a financial statement, or something like that. If you threw a box, opened up a box of matches, and threw 'em out, I'd get within five of how many are on the table, just guessing. I have that going on, as well, which is confusing, and exciting at the same time.

Scott McComb:
I came through the bank, and I kept getting promoted, and taking on more responsibility. I'm a natural salesperson, and I love to build relationships, so, that worked out really well. I ended up becoming a loan officer, and getting a whole portfolio of customers that I brought into the bank.

Scott McComb:
Then, they made me the Chief Operating Officer of the bank, like seven years after I joined the bank. I thought to myself, "Wow, if I play my cards right, they might let me run this place." Because I knew my father was gonna retire … I'm coming up through the ranks, but I didn't have my degree. I'd promised my mom, before she died – I lost my mom very early – that I would finish my degree one day.

Scott McComb:
I put those two things together, and I decided this is the time to go do it. In 2007, I went back to school, and was running the bank as the bank's Chief Operating Officer; also, during the financial crisis, and then, I was going to school at night in Ohio State. I ended up graduating in 2009 [cross talk] Thank you. I'm very proud of that. It was a lot of work, a lot of dedication.

Scott McComb:
Then, I guess in between there, I went to the Graduate School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin. That was in the early 2000s, it was like 2000-2003. A lot of education there. That's really where they teach banking there. You don't learn it in college, you learn it when you get out in the field, and in multiple other schools, and in courses, and things in the banking world.

Scott McComb:
My philosophy is that I never stop learning. I'm like a sponge. I'm afraid that I'm going to fall behind by not constantly figuring out how I can make myself better, or how I can find the next thing for my team to execute.

Scott McComb:
That's my background. It's a lot different than what you'd hear from other folks. Whenever I tell other bankers that, they can't believe that … They just can't believe it. They're like, "Oh, my gosh, no wonder!" So much things make sense, after that point-

Brett Johnson:
Sure. Sure.

Brett Johnson:
-because we don't run our bank like a bank. We run it like a technology company; like another business. If we want to run in herds with the other banks, then that makes what we deliver a commodity. Most people think banking is a commodity. I've discharged my team with going after the three or four percent of the population that understands value, and if we get those folks in the door, then we've successfully doubled the size of the bank, and we're probably doing pretty well.

Brett Johnson:
Exactly. Let's go into why a podcast for the bank. What were you thinking about?

Scott McComb:
Well, again, podcasts are hot. People want to understand. They want snippets. They don't want an hour long, or they don't want two hours long; a dissertation on this, or that, or the other thing, but they're very interested.

Scott McComb:
The population now understands that knowledge is at their fingertips. Well, that didn't happen … That's only been there for about 11 years, 12 years … The advent of the iPhone, or the iPod. Besides that, you had the internet, and podcasting really wasn't that popular, because it wasn't convenient. You had to be sitting at your desk.

Scott McComb:
Well, now, if I'm running, I can listen to a podcast. I'm out doing sit-ups, or I'm out fishing; I'm out knitting, I'm doing whatever … I can educate myself. I think there's a whole class of people, a large portion of the population, that has that same desire that I have. That, "Hey, what am I missing? What else can I … How can I stimulate myself, besides sitting in front of the TV, and have somebody lie to me, or try to change my opinion on something, or whatever? How can I educate myself, and maybe understand culture better? Maybe reach a new level of enlightenment?"

Scott McComb:
I think that's what podcasts do to folks, so, I thought that it would be really cool to have a podcast, where we could pump the bank a little bit, but it's really not about the bank. People don't want to be sold anything, right? That's just not what people want to be sold. They want to confirm their decisions. They want to be enlightened.

Scott McComb:
Moreover, I wanted to let people know, because Columbus is now this hot … One of the hottest cities east of the Mississippi. I wanted everybody to understand why, and how it got that way. That was the whole part of Driving the CBus. Who is driving the CBus? Obviously, CBus is Columbus, but who is driving it, and how did we get here? It wasn't by accident that we got here.

Scott McComb:
I've been in this town all my life, and when I have people grow up, younger folks in their 30s, they don't know Jack Havens. They don't know what the Ohio Sports Commission does. They don't understand the place of Kip Morse, and the Better Business Bureau, and what they've done. They don't understand local radio, with Randy Malloy, and CD102.5, and what they've been fighting.

Scott McComb:
I just thought it was a really good topic to start off with. That was our first line of topics. Now, I think we're shifting to where we're going to talk about just business in general, and then some other things that are happening in central Ohio, and try to keep it going.

Brett Johnson:
You got a team around you thinking about this, brainstorming, or is it just you, solo, going, "Hey, we're gonna do this … We're gonna do this …"?

Scott McComb:
We have a little bit of a team. I was the impetus of the whole team. We have a really crack marketing team. My assistant, Tracy Bayles, is really a crack person, and helps out a lot with me brainstorming stuff.

Brett Johnson:
By the way, she's in the room, folks [cross talk]

Brett Johnson:
Yes, she is here, and she just winked at me, so, it's cool. Then, my daughter Kailyn really helped us. She was the producer of Driving the CBus. She has really had an impetus there. We also have a group called Distribution Strategies, which is led by a young gal, named Ashley Trout. Ashley is one of the most creative people in our company. She is able to take all the wild ideas that I come up with, and boil them into value, and then execute … Her, and her group executes that value. She's helped me out quite a bit, as well.

Brett Johnson:
Well, good. From first thought of the podcast to open mic, and recording, how long did that take for you?

Scott McComb:
It took about two and a half months. We read some white papers on how to do podcasts; we listened to some podcasts. We had a little focus group – inside the bank – of people that listen to podcasts regularly, about what they like, and what they don't like.

Scott McComb:
We read one paper, I can remember it was the impetus, I forget the name of the author who it was, but basically said, "The most important thing is don't script it. It can be about anything. It has to be in a manageable amount of time, and the most expensive thing that you should really focus on is a really good microphone."

Brett Johnson:
Right.

Scott McComb:
Those are the things we took to heart, and I created the questions that I would ask. I created … Sent those out to our folks, and I created our first 10 or 12 guests. Kailyn produced them, and then off to the races we went.

Brett Johnson:
How hard was it to get those first guests, when you didn't have a podcast produced, and you're calling them, going, "I want you to be a guest"?

Scott McComb:
They were so excited. They were just excited to be part of it. The whole idea that I had was to obviously do things not only to tell the story, and all that, and you try to help the community, but you're obviously trying to help yourself, as well. If there's no reward, or some gratification, or some way that it helps, then what are you doing with your time? We live in that kind of society.

Scott McComb:
I actually hoped, and we actually were able to accomplish, where we could take our social media circles, and promote the podcast, and we were hoping to marry up with their social, the guests' social media circles, and maybe we'll meet somebody new. Maybe somebody will learn something different.

Scott McComb:
It's so inexpensive. It doesn't take a lot of time. There is a craft behind it, and frankly, it's becoming even more, and more eclectic over the course of time, with cameras, with all kinds of things, where people can look, and see … I actually drove to Cleveland to watch a podcast of things you should know, which is super-popular. There's millions of people that watch things, listen to things you should know. She wanted to go and see the podcast, so she drove up there with a friend to see the podcast that I thought, "Wow, you know the podcasts have arrived, when someone's gonna drive two and a half hours one way to check it out."

Brett Johnson:
Yeah, and I think we're dealing with a generation that's never experienced … You and I are at the cusp of it. We can listen to old radio programs. That's what they did. That was the entertainment form at the time, but, I think it's really cool that it's going back to that, that somebody will drive, or spend money to sit in an audience, and watch two people talking, or three people talking behind a table, and be entertained. Simple as that. It amazes me that it's come back to that again. I think it's great.

Scott McComb:
I think the death of cable is upon us. Really, it is. I think that the sitcom … I think the lackluster of Hollywood, all those things are … people have better things to do with their time. Now, we have books on tape. We have all kinds of things. I think the more nonfiction type entertainment models, and inputs are really coming on with this generation.

Scott McComb:
The millennial, everyone wants to throw the millennial generation under the bus, about, "Oh, they sit in the basement, and play video games, and they're living here til 35." That's not true. There's a very, very, very, small group of the millennial generation that are doing that.

Brett Johnson:
There's been a piece of every generation that did that.

Scott McComb:
That's right. Exactly.

Brett Johnson:
Every generation. Yeah.

Scott McComb:
Exactly. That's just wrong. Frankly, we hire a lot of millennials that are at our bank, and if we can get more, and more of them, that's what we want to do. The fact the matter is they are very focused. They do treasure their time, but because they can use technology … They grew up never having to change a channel, to get up to change a channel. They're not afraid of the technology, so they can run rings around us baby boomers, and X'ers. They're just three times more effective with what they can do with the tools. They don't need as much time to get the same stuff done. Let's face it.

Brett Johnson:
Right, and looking at it as tools, too. They have that recognition, where X'ers, and Boomers are going, "This is so fun, I'm getting sucked in …" It's like, "No, it's a tool. Stop!"

Scott McComb:
Well, that, and also women in the workforce. I'm a big proponent for single moms, and for just women, in general. They are able to handle so much more on a different level, emotionally. I don't know how to explain it, but they're just more effective. Now that we're having more, and more women in the workforce, I think we're finding that we have … If you take those tools, and you put them together, a more decisive, focused workforce with technology, no wonder we have all the productivity we have, and we're chasing inflation that we can't ever get.

Brett Johnson:
Right. Yeah. With your busy schedule, how did you figure out a publishing schedule? How many times per month? Every week? How did you figure that out? What did you want to do?

Scott McComb:
My schedule was very hectic, so, what we were able to do, though, is do it in spurts. I would set up three in a row, and do three in a row; produce them. Then we would wait to launch them. We did them in spurts, when my schedule would allow.

Scott McComb:
Summertime is a decent time to do those. The spring and the fall are usually very, very busy with travel for me, because I have some national positions. Then, the Winter, I like to spend some time in Florida, and get out of these Ohio winters. We were able to do them in spurts, and I think we had a total of maybe five recording sessions for 12 podcasts, and it worked out pretty well.

Brett Johnson:
I think a lot of podcasters do a batch recording. It's just easier; it fits the schedule. As long as it's not time-sensitive, it's okay. It works out just fine.

Scott McComb:
It's not time-sensitive, but, that's the thing … If your topic is about current events, though, then it's-

Brett Johnson:
Can't do it. Right.

Scott McComb:
You can't do it, and if you're gonna do something, have segments about current events, and things, then it wouldn't work out so well.

Brett Johnson:
Any references to it, of-

Scott McComb:
That's right.

Brett Johnson:
"This coming summer …" Oh, gotta edit that out.

Scott McComb:
That's right. Exactly.

Brett Johnson:
But it happens, yeah … You talked about social media, between yourself, as well as guests. What was the social media strategy, at least for your podcast? Which channels to use? Which social media has you've seen work real well, and maybe ones like, "Nah, kick that to the curb; it's just not working"?

Scott McComb:
We're very active on social media, primarily for the bank, on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook; not so much on Instagram, and not so much on Pinterest. We've really used those three things along with our website. We have a lot of customers, because they're doing internet banking, and paying bills, and checking their balance. Very active website.

Scott McComb:
We were able to push those things out on those mediums. Never really did a press release, per se, we just wanted to put it out there, and let people start to see, and see what kinda reaction we got. Obviously, we wanna maintain our reputation risk as a financial institution.

Scott McComb:
It was very important that Scott didn't get out there, and say something that would offend people that are depositors, or whatever. We wanted to be very sensitive to that. At the same time, I think my customers, they bank with us because they know who we are, and we're very transparent; we're just going to say what we feel, and we believe everyone else should be able to say what they feel – no big deal.

Scott McComb:
Those are the mediums that we really chose, so, we drove those … A very regimented preemptive announcement for each launch. One that's gonna launch on Saturday, we would hit the media, hit all those mediums, and say, "Okay, this is coming on Saturday", and then maybe one or two more posts about that coming up, and then it's live. Then we're back into square one, again, waiting for the next episode to be launched.

Brett Johnson:
Yeah. You're using YouTube as, basically, the platform. I wanna know, why did you choose YouTube?

Scott McComb:
Well, it's just where we had videos already. We have various interviews from me, and other mediums. What we would hope is that because everything was already there, that they would see this, and then maybe go to see some other things that had to do with the bank, and get to know us, and what a community player, and a community supporter we are.

Brett Johnson:
Gotcha. Your current setup for "studio," what's it like? Describe it.

Scott McComb:
It is basically the Amerine Conference Room at Heartland Bancorp. It's just a basic conference room; not a big one. We don't do anything special. My daughter Kailyn plugs in microphones into her laptop; we have two microphones there that are $150 a piece. That's our total cost, and a little piece of software, and that's it.

Brett Johnson:
Yeah, good. She does the editing, as well, then, too [cross talk]

Scott McComb:
She does the editing. We try not to do a ton of editing, because we really want it to be real, and conversational. I think podcast listeners understand that … They don't want it to be too scripted. They want people to speak off the cuff, and talk about things that come to their mind, and be very genuine in their delivery of the material.

Brett Johnson:
Sure. What are your biggest challenges in creating the podcast?

Scott McComb:
Biggest challenge is my schedule, and lining up with Kailyn's schedule, because that's not what she does full time. This is an add-on to her thing. We really don't have somebody that we've hired to specifically do this, that does that for a living, and such, and so forth. That was a big challenge, getting it going.

Scott McComb:
Another challenge of getting going was getting buy-in, internally. I do a lot of things where I don't have a lot of buy-in, because I think that I'm going to create the buy-in. I lose as many times as I win, but I'm not afraid to lose, on the aspect that you have to take risks in order to win.

Scott McComb:
I think everybody knows that at the bank, that I'm willing to jump out, and do something new, to see what happens, and try it, and see how effective it might be. That was a little bit of a thing. People were like, "I don't know what that's gonna be about …" What kind of reputation risk do we take? "What's he gonna say?" Nobody ever knows what I'm gonna say, and I kinda like it that way. Those are a few things.

Scott McComb:
Besides that, we really didn't have any challenges. It was very smooth, and once we did the first couple episodes, people were like, "Hey, when's the next one? What's the next one gonna be about?" or, "Hey, here's a suggested guest you could have …" "I really like this." We got a lot of feedback, a lot of likes; social media really took to it. I think we really accomplished what we set out to do.

Brett Johnson:
I think that leads into the next question about advice for businesses, not necessarily in the banking industry, but any business interested in podcasting – from your experience, what you've had to do internally. Not, again, businesses that are like yours, but they're going to run into those walls of internal, "Uh, do I really wanna do that?" What advice would you give?

Scott McComb:
Well, a lot of folks'll say, "Well, geez, you only had 35 people listen to that. That's not very much". Well, have you ever done direct mail? You're gonna send out 5,000 things, and you might get 10 phone calls. That's better than direct. mail, and it's cheaper. Before you shut the door on it, and you decide never to do it, why not try it?

Scott McComb:
I think the big thing is that they have to have a commitment to it, to keep it going over time. Even if you did one or two a year, or three a year, and you're talking about your business, and what you did, and everything else, there's nothing bad, I think, that can come from that, unless you get too political, or if you- with your business … Maybe your business is only gonna cater to people on the left, or whatever. That's fine if that's an angle that you're gonna go for, but you do take some risk in that regard.

Scott McComb:
Besides that, I really don't see any downside to people telling their story. Because, especially, in Columbus, for instance … In Columbus, people support local ventures, and they wanna know your story. Part of what we even tell our Heartland Bank associates is, "Go out, and tell your Heartland story. This isn't a mechanical thing. You're helping make this story over the course of time. Go tell your story, and people will become believers."

Scott McComb:
I truly feel that any business can do that, as well, if they are ethical, if their associates are taken care of properly, and they have a positive attitude, and they have the utmost in integrity. I really think you could take this medium. and make it work for you.

Brett Johnson:
Yeah, because you can't fake what you just did. You can't. It's from the heart. Yes, there are actors that can put on the voices, and such, but we're not actors. We've not been trained to do so. I think the inhibitions come down, and you just want to talk, and talk about yourself, and talk about the story, and talk about helping people, for the most part.

Scott McComb:
Right. They definitely don't have short, fat, bald, actors. That's for sure. I would not be an actor.

Brett Johnson:
Without giving away too many secrets, possibly, maybe a vagueness … Some future plans for the podcast? Where do you want to go with it [cross talk]

Scott McComb:
I'd be more than happy to tell we're going. We're an open book. Where I want to go is I want to find someone to help us to be more professional in putting it on. I'd like to true it up a little bit more, with taking on a challenge of going to some of the other things, like, if we had a video thing of it, a video portion of the podcast. Not every one, maybe, but certain ones.

Scott McComb:
I would love to talk about different strands of conversation. Not just about Driving the CBus, but taking Driving the CBus as an impetus to have some conversations that have different threads, whether that's an industry thread, whether that's a local thread, maybe that's a national thread, maybe it's a nonprofit thread, who knows? Just some of the things that I'm involved with to be able to help the people that we associate with continue to grow their communities, and get the word out, and talk about their challenges, and their victories. That's our next step.

Scott McComb:
We're trying to … I think we figured out that we're going to take it not only to a business segment, where we're going to talk to our customers about their business; not about how they bank, but about their business, and challenges they have with their business, and successes, and what works, and what doesn't, that kind of thing …

Scott McComb:
As well as a more industry-focused piece that would be a different angle. That'd be maybe even a separate podcast, where we talk to industry experts, and service providers, and that kind of thing, just about what's happening in the business, and appeal to the banking community as a whole, on a national level.

Brett Johnson:
I think any way you can peel away some mysteries of what banks can do, whether it's the B2C, or the B2B, it's good. Again, this will time this podcast, but just with the school-admissions scandal. That stuff happens because there are so many layers of mystery.

Scott McComb:
That's right. That's right. Well, yeah, I don't know if we wanna get started on that. It was just nice to see the IRS, the FBI, and the Justice Department actually take some people down that are breaking the law. Not only breaking the law, but they're just dishonest. These are people that don't have to do it.

Brett Johnson:
That's what's the head-scratcher about it is-

Scott McComb:
It just is amazing-

Brett Johnson:
-that's exactly right.

Scott McComb:
I'm gonna ruin my life, and my kids' life, and everything else, just because I wanted them to have this status. They can buy status, right? They have [cross talk]

Brett Johnson:
Yes, they can. For the amount of money that was being thrown around, they could have donated to get their kid in … Ultimately. Really.

Scott McComb:
Yeah, it's crazy.

Brett Johnson:
I think this forum helps bring back those layers that, then, you can understand the banking business.

Scott McComb:
That's right.

Brett Johnson:
There are a lot of misconceptions about it, and I think podcast is a really good way-

Scott McComb:
Oh yeah.

Brett Johnson:
-to bring back saying, "You know what? I remember Scott talking about that on his podcast."

Scott McComb:
That's right. Well, you know what it's about? We find our customers, all the time, just don't understand the why. They need to understand the why. When we go to talk to folks about banking, and such, and so forth, we're not in … We're just not going to come back with a yes or no. I never want to come back with just … I fight that every day, as the bank gets bigger. Our culture is the most important thing to us, and to our board of directors. As soon as that changes, we're going to have issues. I'm not going to let that change.

Scott McComb:
We want to go, and tell customers how it can be a yes; not a no, but how it can be a yes, because they have to get that from someplace. They're not getting it from their accountants; they're not getting it from their suppliers, and everything else. They have to have somebody telling them, "Look, this is what has to happen for you to get to the next level."

Scott McComb:
Me giving them more money could be the nail in the coffin. That's really … I could kill somebody with a loan, just a company, with a loan, just as soon as we can help somebody with a loan. That's really what we want to try to provide folks. I think that the why behind banking is … It would be very, very revealing.

Scott McComb:
Right now, the history books are being written wrong about the financial disaster, for instance – how it occurred, what happened, the big bad [TARP]. That was just such a bad thing. All those are … That's all fiction. I lived it. I was going to Ohio State, after majoring in High Street. Remember, we talked about that earlier … All through that section, that would be a whole 'nother … We could do something on the financial disaster, with people that lived it, and say, "This is how the Big Short occurred," and it would be fascinating [cross talk] and it's not what you see on TV-

Brett Johnson:
You'll have a following for it; people love that stuff that was not covered properly. They love it.

Scott McComb:
That's right.

Brett Johnson:
They love it. We're in a generation that that instant information is there, that you can google it up, and find what you hope is the truth, or at least differing views. Then, it's up to you to come up with the right stuff in your mind, whatever you wanna believe, yeah-

Scott McComb:
That's right. Getting it from the people who lived it, I think, is about the most real way you can get that information.

Brett Johnson:
Exactly. Exactly.

Brett Johnson:
In today's world, it seems like … In one of my podcasts, I was interviewing someone from the media. They'll remain nameless. Somebody does their homework, they can find out who it is. The fact of the matter is that person said to me … I said, "What do you think about what's going on in the media these days? What's happening to journalism?" He says, "What do you mean?" I said, "Well, I mean it seems to me like everybody … Everybody that has an interview has a preconceived notion, and they're asking questions to validify their preconceived notion." He said, "Oh, that's the way they teach … That's why they've teached journalism for the last 20 years."

Scott McComb:
What happened to reporting the facts? He says, "Well, that's not what it's about. Journalism is about developing an axiom, or a thought, or a theorem, and then proving the theorem through your questioning." I said, "That's not journalism. What happened to …?

Brett Johnson:
That's muckraking, ultimately, yeah, I guess-

Scott McComb:
Anyway, that's what he said, and I didn't want to queer the podcast, so I'm like, "Okay, we're not going to do that." We changed the topic, and went on to something else.

Brett Johnson:
That's interesting. Again, I think that's unique [inaudible] as a podcaster. You can go down a rabbit hole, which we're doing right now, which I have no problem with at all, because it validifies what this whole thing's all about.

Scott McComb:
That's right.

Brett Johnson:
It's just interesting conversation. Find out more about you; find out more about … I want to listen this podcast, now. Scott sounds like a pretty good host. They must be pretty good. You've referenced a couple … That's the thing. That's what it's all about, as well as being a proponent, with my radio background, as well, too, it's just a really easy-access forum to talk to your future, or current customers, too.

Scott McComb:
That's right [cross talk] It's all about relationships. The world's about relationships. People want to do business with folks that they know, like, and have respect for, and can [cross talk] have trust. That's what it's all about.

Brett Johnson:
Well, thanks for being a part of the podcast. I really appreciate it. It's good to know you better, about where the podcast has been, and going. Our listeners at least can have an opportunity to know what to expect in the future, too, which is fun.

Scott McComb:
That's great. It's been a pleasure being here. I love your studio, everything that you've got here is great. Promoting, the whole basis of this podcast, was very interesting to me, because it really hit me as being, yeah, I would love to talk about that. I did it. It was easy. It was … It can open up doors for you. I appreciate being able to tell my story. Thanks very much.

Brett Johnson:
You bet. Thank you.

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Recorded in Studio C in the 511 Studios located in the Brewery District in downtown Columbus, OH.

Business Inspires Podcast

Stephanie Evans and Michelle Wilson are my guest on this episode. After Michelle left the her executive director position at the TriVillage Chamber Partnership and hosting duties of their podcast, Business Inspires, Stephanie has stepped in as the new executive director and host of the podcast. We talk about that transition, and what the effects will be.

Business Inspires (transcribed by Sonix)

Brett Johnson: Well, before we get into the heavy of the podcast, talking about Business Inspires' podcast, I want to ask each of you, Michelle, and Stephanie, about nonprofits that you support, that you give time, talent, or treasure to. I'll start with Michele.

Michelle Wilson: Sure. I think that the one nearest and dearest to my heart, right now, is the new Nationwide Children's Hospital On Our Sleeves. It's a mental health awareness program. I just think that it's something that's so important, and needed. The conversation, while it seems like it's out there a lot, I think it's really just beginning. I think it's an amazing program, I definitely … I'm trying to become more involved with it. I've supported it financially, and I'm just figuring out ways that I can support it otherwise.

Brett Johnson: And Stephanie?

Stephanie Evans: I would say the one that I probably spend the most of my time with is Best Buddies, Best Buddies Ohio. It's part of a national organization to assist folks with developmental disabilities, to engage them in one-on-one friendships, and then to help find them work in the workplace. My husband's on the board there for Best Buddies Ohio, and I help out when I can. Really, my whole family's involved, because there are high school, and college-age groups, as well, to help the students make lifelong friendships. It's a really great organization. That's where we spend our time.

Brett Johnson: Great, thanks. Let's talk a little bit about each of your professional backgrounds, and, as the podcast develops, we'll figure out, and the listener will figure out, "Oh, this is where the two come together, and why this is a podcast about the Tri-Village Chamber Partnership's Business Inspires podcast. Let's start with Michelle, because your history with the Tri-Village Chamber Partnership is longer. Let's talk a little bit about your background, and how you became a part of the TVCP.

Michelle Wilson: I have always been in the nonprofit or not-for-profit world. I started out at Experience Columbus, when it was the Greater Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau, way back when. Moved around a little bit from there in membership departments at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, and the Ohio Hotel and Lodging Association. Always found that that was where I landed.

Michelle Wilson: Was able to land a amazing position with the Grandview Area Chamber, back in '09, when they were looking for their first full-time director. I landed there; got that job. Grandview was where I grew up, and had my kids, so it was a nice fit. I knew the community; I knew a lot of people there.

Michelle Wilson: We were able to then grow and expand that into a merger between the Upper Arlington Chamber, and the Grandview, and Marble Cliff Chambers. We, in 2016, became the Tri-Village Chamber Partnership. That's my background, and, of course, I have recently left that position after almost 10 years, and landed back at Experience Columbus, so a little bit of a full circle there.

Brett Johnson: Exactly. Stephanie?

Stephanie Evans: For me, I started at the National Kidney Foundation of Ohio in the communications department there, and then moved my way up, ultimately, to executive director position there, and was there for a while. Then left that position, really, to stay home to start a family. Then, in that time, two, what turned out to be three businesses of my own … So, a small-business owner-

Brett Johnson: One just wasn't enough. I've gotta do three.

Stephanie Evans: They weren't all simultaneous. They were kind of-

Michelle Wilson: Not one; not two, but three …

Stephanie Evans: A couple of 'em overlapped. Yeah, a couple of 'em overlapped. Anyway, so I spent that time having my own business, and raising my kids at home. Then, a couple of years ago, just had some changes take place in my personal life, and decided to let my photography business go. That's what my more recent one was.

Stephanie Evans: Really, through a friend of mine, who happened to be related to Michelle, let me know that there was an opening there, and connected with Michelle. That's how I landed at the Chamber. Came in as the membership manager, part-time, and have been there almost two years. It'll be two years in March. Then, when Michelle made her next step, I switched seats, and I went from membership manager to executive director.

Brett Johnson: From the baby pool to the deep end.

Stephanie Evans: That's right.

Michelle Wilson: Quite literally. Yeah.

Brett Johnson: I have you both on because … We were talking about this before recording. I've jumped on this theme, by accident, of the host transitions. The Business Inspires podcast is now going through a host transition. Michelle had hosted the podcast from its inception, up through her leaving recently, and Stephanie's now taking the roam and doing the interviews, and setting up scheduling for guests, and such, for Business Inspires.

Brett Johnson: I wanted to bring both of you together to talk about that. I know Michelle'll have a little bit more knowledge on the beginnings, as I will, too, but I think it's worth the discussion, because this is a Chamber-focused podcast, Business Inspires. Why a podcast for Tri-Village Chamber Partnership, Michelle?

Michelle Wilson: For me, it was having discussions with you, and I hadn't even really considered it, but when you approached me, it seemed like an edgy new different thing to do. I think that's one of the things I like to pride myself, or the Chamber on. At the time, we were going through a merger. That was something that was pretty rare. We had taken a couple of leaps of faith along the way, with the Grandview Area Chamber, and done some really cool projects that others had not yet tried.

Michelle Wilson: I thought this was a really great new edgy way to perhaps reach a new demographic. Chambers, and membership organizations, in general, we're going through a bit of an identity crisis, and I thought this might be a really cool way to reach the younger demographic that didn't necessarily understand why they should be a member of a Chamber of Commerce.

Brett Johnson: I know when we first started, too, I was looking at it as a potential engagement tool. I know Chambers have a difficulty. Yeah, they have … The email database is great, but the open rate, no, and the feedback from members, and getting them involved, and such … I was envisioning the podcast, possibly, as an engagement tool, as well, too.

Michelle Wilson: Right.

Brett Johnson: If nothing else, reaching out to members, being part of the podcast, and getting 'em involved in a different way that they hadn't even thought about, it's like, "Oh, wow …" [cross talk]

Michelle Wilson: Right, and they didn't understand it.

Brett Johnson: They didn't-.

Michelle Wilson: Any more than I did.

Brett Johnson: Correct. Correct, yes. Trying to go in the back my mind, how the process began, I think we just had coffee to talk about this idea. Luckily, you were very welcoming to the idea, too, because I think I laid it out as you have a lot of content, great content. You refined it even more, talking about, "Okay, let's talk to businesses about how they started, and how they're growing."

Michelle Wilson: Right.

Brett Johnson: I kinda wanna go a little bit more on that, why that popped in your mind.

Michelle Wilson: I think we're really lucky in the Tri-Village area that we just had this … We have a really great group of members. One of the things that we never really have to preach is to support one another, and make sure you're using member businesses, and make sure you're looking there first. People just naturally do it.

Michelle Wilson: You may use a vendor, here and there, that you've gotten great service from, but you don't really know why they do what they do, or why they got started. I thought it would be a neat premise to figure out if this was something they really- was their lifelong aspiration, or if they just landed there. I think finding their personal connection to what they do was just a different way to approach it. There are lots of business podcasts out there, and I thought maybe putting a spin on it might be more engaging.

Brett Johnson: I think the guests have done a great job, as well, and they get it, when they're on the podcast.

Michelle Wilson: Yes.

Brett Johnson: They bring it back into why the Chamber is so important to them.

Michelle Wilson: Right, sure.

Brett Johnson: Not a guest that we've talked to that we've had to tell them, "Hey, be sure to incorporate why the Chamber's so important to you."

Michelle Wilson: We've never asked that question.

Brett Johnson: Never have asked it. It's come up organically in every interview. Stephanie, even the couple that we've done, have come up … With your transition, we've never told them to say anything about it.

Stephanie Evans: Right. It did just come up naturally.

Brett Johnson: It's amazing. Again, you can have the leading questions, as we had one … Not leading questions, but to incorporate that maybe one member has done a lot to help with some events, and such. That's gonna come up in conversation, obviously, too. I know we talked initially, too, Michelle, when I brought up the idea … I knew that I had to come up with a way that might be comfortable for you. I knew the question may come up about, "What kind of podcast? Are you talking about me just being the podcast?"

Michelle Wilson: Right.

Brett Johnson: That's why I introduced let's do the interview. Makes it a whole lot easier. You still had the nervousness, in regards to, "I'm not an interviewer. I haven't done "radio." How do I do this?"

Michelle Wilson: Right.

Brett Johnson: How did you prepare yourself to be, I think, a great interviewer?

Michelle Wilson: Oh, thank you.

Brett Johnson: I think you agree, now, too. I think you've done a great job with it. You actually started have a lot of fun after the first couple-

Michelle Wilson: I did, yeah, right.

Brett Johnson: You did. How did you jump into that, in regards to getting yourself prepared, and getting more comfortable to being an interviewer?

Michelle Wilson: Again, going back to just who we are as … Who our personality is at the Chamber is we're very relationship-driven. While everybody says that, I believe it to be true. I believe that so much of the success of the Tri-Village Chamber has been because Stephanie and I have gotten to know people. We know them on a personal level, generally – not every single person – but I think that's been a big part of the success.

Michelle Wilson: Preparing for the podcast was just figuring out how do I ask somewhat personal questions without getting too personal? Finding out what it is they wanted to be, when they were young, and having them take a step back, and look at why they are where they are. I did basically the same research, every single time.

Michelle Wilson: We did identify … At least initially, we identified members that perhaps I knew a little more on a personal level, so that I could … They were kinda my guinea pigs. I could ask them questions that- and I would be more comfortable asking them questions, because I kinda knew what their answers would be. Although, I think, each time, they surprised me, and that was also fun. It was always a discovery, no matter how much I thought I knew going into the interview. I think that led, each time, to a really great end product.

Brett Johnson: It did, I agree. I was thinking about the time process, when our first discussion, and when we kicked it off … I don't remember actually how many weeks/months it took. I think it went fairly quickly, honestly.

Michelle Wilson: Yeah.

Brett Johnson: I think a lot of the time that it took, and this is part of the interview process, is booking people; getting those businesses in. At that time, we were very lucky to have a great relationship with a local radio station group to utilize their studios. I know the owner was extremely happy to have business owners coming in to the radio station, just to see the Hollywood of it, to be a part of this podcast, but also just a monthly process of seeing new businesses coming in, because of this podcast.

Brett Johnson: That was a nice relationship, at that point in time, to get things going, to legitimize the podcast, as well, working with the radio station group. The sound of the podcast versus just being in front of a computer laptop, and, "Okay, talk as close as you can to the screen …"

Michelle Wilson: Oh, it made a difference. It definitely … Absolutely, it made a difference being in a professional setting.

Brett Johnson: I think it made a little bit easier for you, too, I'm assuming, because you were at a radio station. This is what happens here.

Michelle Wilson: It did. Right.

Brett Johnson: Interviews, and content, that sorta thing, yeah.

Michelle Wilson: I was lucky enough to be a part of a couple of other podcasts, and they were fine. I would never say anything negative about them, other than the sound quality … The difference in sound quality, I felt really lucky that we had what we had with that radio station.

Brett Johnson: Yes, and I think the process of us moving as fast as we did – I'm gonna say probably a couple of months, quite frankly [cross talk]

Michelle Wilson: Oh, I think it was, yeah.

Brett Johnson: -it probably was. We didn't really have a lot of people involved.

Michelle Wilson: Right. That's true.

Brett Johnson: We went rogue for the most part [cross talk]

Michelle Wilson: If you asked my past board members, they would say that ,"Michelle asks forgiveness, not permission," and that's just how it worked.

Brett Johnson: I don't know if that's the proper way for any Chamber to think about doing something like this, but what is the harm, as long as you have the game plan, and this is the direction you're going with it?

Michelle Wilson: Sure.

Brett Johnson: You focused a couple of the board members as guests, as well, so that made a big difference.

Michelle Wilson: I did. Right. Some of that was strategic, but they also are really good interviews … Perhaps it was for a double reason, but there was good content there.

Brett Johnson: Yeah. How has the podcast been able to showcase the Chamber's expertise? How did you incorporate that, as well as with Stephanie coming in, as well, too, what the Chamber is? I know there's, like you said, an atmosphere; a culture that the Tri-Village Chamber Partnership has, compared to any other chamber – good, bad, whatever. Every Chamber has its culture; its feel. How do you think you incorporated that, in regards to what you were doing with the podcast, as well as what Stephanie will be doing in the future, too?

Michelle Wilson: Steph, do you wanna take that? I can take that. I think I can take that. There's a saying, and I probably said this on past podcasts, that you've seen one Chamber, you've seen one Chamber. We all operate very differently; every community is so different. Partnerships vary.

Michelle Wilson: The Grandview area, Upper Arlington area, and now, of course, Tri-Village, I think have been very lucky to have good relationships with their city governments, with their key players in the area. I think that really played beautifully into the podcast just being an extension of what it was we were already doing. That was finding new ways to engage our members; finding new ways to keep them interested, and on board.

Michelle Wilson: When we started receiving feedback, pretty quickly … It takes a while to build your listenership, of course, but when we started receiving feedback, pretty quickly, from members who were intrigued by the fact that we were doing a podcast, and they were learning about these small businesses on a different level, that was exciting.

Michelle Wilson: Again, I think, going back to some other chances we took as a Chamber: the Chamber Challenge, when we did a business makeover in three days; that was that was a huge undertaking, and a great success story. The podcast was just the next thing we were trying. I joked about asking forgiveness, not permission, but kinda true. We just said, "Sure, that sounds like a good idea. Let's give it a shot." We didn't have a lot to lose. It's turned out to be a really great benefit, I think, to our members. People are asking to be a part of it now. I think it was just natural, that it was something we did that was different, and edgy.

Brett Johnson: I think one great story that came out of … I think we maybe had three or four published at the time, but the first episode that we published, she got an inquiry about her business for new business-.

Michelle Wilson: Yeah, and got the business-.

Brett Johnson: And got the business. When you told me that, I'm going, "Wow, okay, this stuff kinda works, doesn't it?"

Michelle Wilson: Yeah. We thought, "Gosh, if that happens every single time, we've got something …" which, of course, jokingly. We knew that wasn't gonna happen every single time, but-

Brett Johnson: Sure … Being the first episode of the whole podcast-

Michelle Wilson: -but the very first episode did produce business, yeah.

Brett Johnson: Yeah, amazing. That was a difficult episode, because that was your first. That was her first, but it came out great-

Michelle Wilson: We were both so nervous-

Brett Johnson: -and she got to showcase exactly what she wanted to for her business, and it obviously worked.

Michelle Wilson: Yeah, she came off beautifully. She really did.

Brett Johnson: Yeah, she did. Have you seen adding the podcast content to the website improve the site's search component?

Michelle Wilson: That's a great question that I would have to … I don't know that we have done a ton of analytics on it. It's certainly something we can do. You've provided us with numbers that have increased over time. I'm certain that it probably has, I just wish I could give you exact numbers, but I can't-.

Brett Johnson: No, and that's fine, because I can answer a little bit to that, because I know the user agent piece to the back end that I do see. This is not atypical of a business-oriented podcast; it is a lot more desktop listenership than through phone. Therefore, they are listening via your website, or a link through the email.

Michelle Wilson: Yeah, sure.

Stephanie Evans: One of the things we did on the website, too, was we added a tab; specifically, it says Podcast, so you don't have to look for the podcast in the other drop-down menus. It used to be part of the news, or something like that-

Michelle Wilson: It did, yes.

Stephanie Evans: We changed it to add it, so you see it right when you log onto the website.

Michelle Wilson: Right-

Brett Johnson: Which will make a difference over time, of course, too [cross talk].

Michelle Wilson: -much easier to find.

Brett Johnson: Right. I know a lot of businesses, they wanna add content to their website, but it's like, "Okay, where do we put it without junking up the site?" Or maybe the original design of the site was not really set up to incorporate any video, any audio.

Michelle Wilson: Right.

Brett Johnson: It's kinda difficult to measure, because it's not in the right place. A tab, obviously, will help tremendously, and such, too. Another unexpected thing that happened, but we were focusing on this, we had a sponsorship for the podcast.

Michelle Wilson: We did.

Brett Johnson: We'd always talked about this, but we just … Had come up with a list of potential sponsors, but knowing that any sponsorship could limit who might even wanna be on the podcast, or it might sound as though, "Okay, they're sponsoring, but what are you giving 'em?" You're a Chamber sort of thing.

Michelle Wilson: Right.

Brett Johnson: I think our focus of who did sponsor the podcast made a lot of sense. I'll let you talk a little bit about the story-.

Michelle Wilson: It did-

Brett Johnson: -because you carried the water on this one.

Stephanie Evans: Yeah, well, I approached … Of course, the Tri-Village Chamber Partnership is made up of Grandview Heights, Marble Cliff, and Upper Arlington. We approached the three of them, and said, "These are the businesses that are representative of each of your areas, so, let's get you on board.".

Michelle Wilson: What I really love is that the smallest of those three municipalities stepped up. The Village of Marble Cliff got it really quickly. They went through a few readings, and they listened to some podcasts, and they stepped up with some dollars. One of the things we said was we'll be sure to make sure that we are including businesses in the Village of Marble Cliff. There aren't a ton. It's a very small village. Not a huge ask on their part, but some great businesses there.

Michelle Wilson: The businesses that we already had focused on in Marble Cliff helped sell it. Then, we made a commitment to feature some more, and we did that, and we're still doing that. I was really happy that they stepped up, not just from a dollar perspective, but because it was a great way for a small village to get some awesome exposure. Their logo went on there, and then they got to think of a fun slogan, and tagline. I think it helped them, and is helping them in a different way, as well.

Brett Johnson: It's little bit of moral support, too.

Michelle Wilson: Yeah.

Brett Johnson: I felt really good after you … I know you called me. It wasn't an email. "Hey, we got a sponsor!" and you said who it was. It was a struggle. It was … It will be, working with municipalities, and cities, of course. The process is a bit slower; a lot more people have to sign off on these ideas of money being spent. I totally understand that versus going to a business as a sponsorship.

Michelle Wilson: Yeah.

Brett Johnson: Hearing that feedback, and knowing that they're going to do that meant monumental pushing a big rock-

Michelle Wilson: Right, right …

Brett Johnson: -knowing that it doesn't matter what size of government there is, there had to be a lot of eyeballs seeing this, "Yeah we're gonna do this; we're gonna do this; we're gonna do this," because this money is being spent here, versus here. It was good feedback.

Stephanie Evans: One of the things that their Mayor, Kent, had said about it was that they view it as a professional education opportunity for the businesses in the Marble Cliff area, and felt that, by supporting the podcast, it was encouraging their businesses to listen in, because they can't always make it to a luncheon, or a breakfast, or a coffee, or an event, where we might have a speaker, or some kind of educational program.

Stephanie Evans: It really is educational, when you listen to how someone got their business started, or how they made the next steps to grow, and that kinda stuff. They felt like it was a good option to treat it as professional education, in a way, to give to the business community, and support us, as well.

Brett Johnson: One of your last interviews was with Kent, and-

Michelle Wilson: It was.

Brett Johnson: -probably one of the better podcasts, in regards to understanding the Village of Marble Cliff.

Michelle Wilson: Right.

Brett Johnson: He's such a great speaker [cross talk]

Michelle Wilson: He is.

Brett Johnson: -understanding this very … What is it? Two square mile, if that? I forget how many square mile it is, but government is government, and it's just a smaller version of it, but it's the same mechanisms, the same "politics" going on, but just on a smaller scale; a microcosm, comparatively, but still important to those that are living in that little community.

Michelle Wilson: Right, and they're very lucky they have somebody who's forward-thinking, and is … Again, I think like the Chamber taking a chance on some doing something a little differently … We're very lucky that he sits on the board, and has a great voice to lend, on behalf of the village.

Brett Johnson: We tried to come up with the most convenient publishing schedule, and we varied that. I know, initially, we went with … Because of scheduling issues, and problems, and fitting in your schedule, obviously, to sit down. and talk with folks, and give yourself some time for research, we are on a once-a-month publishing schedule. It worked really well, I think.

Brett Johnson: Then we started to crank it up to every three weeks, and I think we saw some momentum come from that, as well, too, that it started to take off a little bit more, as well. We could get more people in over a year's time, as well, too. How did that change, in regards to how you set yourself up, and your scheduling, too, that one extra week, or one fewer week to prepare? Did that take some mental strain? How did that change your life?

Michelle Wilson: Not tremendously, because I think it was something that I so enjoyed. It was just one of my favorite parts; truly getting to take a deep dive into one business was so enjoyable for me. Doing the research … I had basically the same list of questions every single time. That would always be my fall backs. Then, depending on who we were talking to, and how well I knew them, or if there had been something in the news recently that I wanted to make sure I touched on, I customized that each time. It was more exciting, quite honestly, to increase it, and get to talk to more people, and beef that up a little bit.

Brett Johnson: I know Stephanie, you can answer this, as well, too, because of being on board as long as you were, installing the social media strategy, and the email strategy. Let's talk a little bit about that, how that's evolved, as well, too, from your standpoint, and moving forward. This podcast is included in every newsletter that goes out for the Chamber, which is a weekly … What other pieces are being implemented that are being done/were being don, as well as looking to the future?

Stephanie Evans: It goes into our weekly newsletter with a link, so it's on our website. It always sits there, and the link sends you to the website. Then, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram … Trying to think of all the social media. Admittedly, we are in a transition there with the social media.

Stephanie Evans: We had contracted out some work; the person that was doing that work for us recently moved to Seattle. In theory, he could do it from there, but it's more practical to have it here, closer to home. We're in transition, getting our head around how to do that social media, and how best to approach that. The podcast link is included in all of that, and we're trying to stay active on that, and keep up to date, and find a new rhythm with our social media.

Brett Johnson: Yeah, it's kind of a double-whammy, with the transition of hosts, also losing the social media person, or [cross talk] choice to keep the social media in-house; let's put it that way.

Stephanie Evans: Right. That's the goal at this point is to keep it in-house, and just, I guess, have a more intimate knowledge of it. I don't know if that's really the right way to phrase that, but we could do things a little more quickly [cross talk]

Michelle Wilson: Well, it's certainly more immediate.

Stephanie Evans: Yeah, it's more immediate-

Brett Johnson: That person's desk is five feet away [cross talk]

Stephanie Evans: Right, instead of sending a picture to somebody … It does make it more immediate. We just have to get up to speed with it.

Brett Johnson: Sure, sure. Well, and you can look at it as good timing, or bad timing. It's probably very good timing, because you get to own it – the change of it – and evolve with it, as well. I know, with the transition, we're looking at probably backing up publishing dates, back to a month, probably, just because, again, new role for you [cross talk]

Stephanie Evans: Yeah, just a little … This big microphone looking at.

Brett Johnson: -of looking at, "Okay, I still wanna continue …" Well, "I still wanna continue on with the podcast," but how to incorporate it into my day, as the newly appointed executive director for the Chamber. It's just a week, so not big, but I think that the implementation of a new person with social media, keeping it in-house, may be an easier transition, as well, too.

Stephanie Evans: I think we're still very much in a transition phase. I just officially took this role as executive director in October, so I was still in my learning curve. Then, add to that the change in the social media contractor that we were using, and bringing someone in-house, and me changing roles altogether. There's a lot to learn.

Michelle Wilson: You're welcome [cross talk]

Stephanie Evans: I didn't know as much as I thought I knew. I sat next to Michelle in the office, and I [cross talk]

Brett Johnson: -osmosis works pretty well, too.

Stephanie Evans: Yeah, and I knew a lot about the Chamber activities, but not so much the things that she did. Now, I have literally switched chairs. I took your chair.

Michelle Wilson: That's a great, great chair.

Stephanie Evans: Yeah, it's a great chair. There's a lot to learn, and it's a busy day. I make my to-do list at the end of the day, for my next day, and inevitably, I get to work … Sometimes, I check my email before I get in, and my whole day changes.

Michelle Wilson: That's right.

Brett Johnson: Welcome to life. Yeah, right, exactly.

Stephanie Evans: Yeah, exactly. It's never quite like I planned. Just kinda keeping up with things still has me in a transition.

Brett Johnson: That's a great segue into talking about the transition of hosts. Obviously, you knew you were going to leave, and whether that was being discussed or not … One way or the other, in the mind, you knew, "Okay, I'm moving on, but there are things I have to take care of.".

Michelle Wilson: Right.

Brett Johnson: What was the discussion like with Stephanie, when you said, "Hey, I'm outta here. Totally up to you if you wanna keep the podcast going, but let's talk about the podcast …"? What was that conversation like?

Michelle Wilson: Well, I told Steph that it was one of my favorite parts of the job. It had grown into that, and that I would … I just told her the truth. I think that I was very nervous, and that if we kept it going, which I thought we should, that we approach it the same way. Don't put a ton of pressure on yourself, because the conversation really does take over.

Michelle Wilson: We scheduled a couple of podcasts, my last two, and and did those in the office, in a more comfortable setting, and Stephanie sat in on those, and got to see that I wasn't exaggerating. It really is very laid back, and conversational, and the flow should be fairly natural. You have these questions that you can fall back on, if conversation halts for some reason, but that never really happened, thankfully, but they were good conversation starters.

Michelle Wilson: The Chamber is very lucky that Stephanie knocked on our door a couple of years ago, and said, "Hey, I'm interested in coming here." Her background, and personality just lent itself beautifully for the transition. I knew she'd be great, and, of course, she is.

Stephanie Evans: Thanks, Michelle.

Brett Johnson: She said that in the conversation. What did you hear? [cross talk]

Stephanie Evans: -I'm like, "What? Who can I get to do that?"

Michelle Wilson: How do you portray deer in the headlights over a microphone?

Stephanie Evans: I think, from the start, I totally agreed that it needed to continue. I think it's a really great thing for the Chamber, for our members, and for the folks who are listening. There was no doubt that we wanted to keep it going. The struggle for me is overcoming the anxiety of having this big microphone in front of me, and feeling like I don't know how to do this.

Stephanie Evans: My first thoughts were, "Okay, well, we have to keep it going. We have to keep it going. Who can I ask to do it? Who can be the voice?" I went through all kinds of different ideas in my head, and I'm like, "Okay, the fact is it's most natural, probably, for me to do it. Take a few deep, cleansing breaths, and just do it." Your encouragement, Brett, and your encouragement, Michelle-

Brett Johnson: Thank you.

Stephanie Evans: I know-

Brett Johnson: Did you end up going back, and listening to some older episodes to really listen to 'em differently, and how it was done?

Stephanie Evans: That's a good question. I guess I didn't go back very far. I generally listen to them as they come, but I did go [cross talk]

Brett Johnson: Right, right, right … But you can hear it with a different ear, when you have to host it.

Stephanie Evans: Yes, and I did. I did go back and listen to probably three or four … Not the entire podcasts, but parts of the three or four of 'em. You're right. I didn't even remember that I did that, but I did, right before we recorded my first one; to go back and just listen to the flow, and how the conversation went.

Stephanie Evans: That helped, and I had Michelle's list of questions that I just had in front of me. I did use them probably more than Michelle does, or did at the time. It does help provide the backup, like when you are afraid of stalling out; you know you won't, if you have that.

Stephanie Evans: The other thing that you had said, Brett, is that it doesn't really matter how long it is, It can be 10 minutes; it can be half an hour. It's just wherever the conversation just naturally stops. Relieving that pressure of having to fill 20 minutes was helpful, too. I think probably mostly it was in my head, because, you're right, it's pretty natural, but heart races, at first, and your mouth gets dry [cross talk]

Michelle Wilson: Even though you know it's not live, you do have this big microphone in front of you, and there's a sense of pressure, when that's not something you do every day, but-

Stephanie Evans: Yeah, even today.

Michelle Wilson: Right, but it's also a sense of relief, when … If you can get out of your head long enough to think, "Okay, we can fix this," because it's not live, and it can come off sounding pretty smooth, if we stumble a little bit along the way.

Stephanie Evans: I think that the biggest thing for me was just the commitment to knowing that it has to go forward; not going to stop doing this. I've gotta figure it out.

Brett Johnson: Mm hmm, yeah. I hadn't thought about the transition you talked about, in regards to bringing it back in the office; getting away from the professional studio. That probably maybe helped you with the transition, as well, too. It's in your office, now-

Stephanie Evans: Probably, yeah.

Brett Johnson: Bring a couple microphones in; it's not the intimidation factor of a studio that you're not comfortable in. You had never been in that studio that we were recording in, and we were taking the podcast on the road for a few episodes, as well, too, for convenience sake, as well … Moving what we thought was gonna be a different direction, but didn't happen. It was an experiment; just didn't happen. Back in your office makes a whole lot of sense, and it may be just as comfortable for your guests, as well, too, because [cross talk]

Stephanie Evans: Yeah, a lot of 'em had been there before, and they're nervous, too, the people that we've interviewed. They were nervous, definitely, so having that comfort level of knowing where they're going, knowing how to get there, and that kinda thing, I do think helps.

Michelle Wilson: For me, I had the benefit of recording promo spots for some of our past events at the studio, so I at least had a little bit of a level of familiarity with going into the studio, and talking into a microphone. That's not the case for everybody, so I do think it's a nice familiar setting to do it in the Chamber offices [cross talk]

Brett Johnson: Moving forward, any new thoughts? Any new ideas that you wanna implement over the next few months? Have you put thought to that, or the different type of people we wanna talk to?

Stephanie Evans: With regard to the podcast?

Brett Johnson: Yeah.

Stephanie Evans: I think one of the things that we had tossed out … I really do love the up close, and personal, and finding out how a business came along. I am a small business owner, myself, still-

Brett Johnson: You've been there.

Stephanie Evans: Yeah, I have. I've owned two businesses by myself, and then my husband, and I currently own a business together. I'm a small business owner, too, and so I do appreciate hearing other people's stories. I think that I learned from it. I think our listeners can learn from it. Everybody's tackled it a little differently.

Stephanie Evans: One of the things that I think has been great about the ones that we've had so far is the variety of businesses that we've invited in for it. I think, for the listeners, if you look at the list, it's this huge variety. I think that shows the breadth of our membership. For folks who aren't members, or just out there listening, they can see the kind of businesses that we have, and that it really covers a whole range of businesses.

Stephanie Evans: I think that the up close, and personal, "How did you get here?" way is great. We've also tossed around, do we start doing more like … I don't know, a specific topic in business, and how do we address that, and kinda come at that from different angles. For right now, I feel like if it's not broke, don't fix it. If this is our niche, and this is what we're known for, then that's the track we should stay on. If we start to feel like we wanna mix it up a little bit, I do think that there are some other avenues we could venture down.

Brett Johnson: Yeah, we talked about other opportunities, as well, too, just expanding the role of the podcast. It gives you the opportunity as a new host to do that, as well as Michelle was always kicking around that idea. We were always kicking around those ideas, so it's always on the table.

Michelle Wilson: Sure, yeah. I think it's really key to mention, too, from the member perspective, besides learning about other members, is that it's a great marketing tool for them. They walk away with this podcast. We walk away learning something; a little bit more about, perhaps, that member, or that industry, but the member walks away with a marketing piece that they can put on their website; that they can pull snippets of. You're great about helping them with pulling out key pieces that would be great for marketing. There's no charge to them for being a guest on our podcast. It's really a benefit to everybody involved.

Brett Johnson: There's not an episode that I didn't learn something-

Michelle Wilson: Oh, my gosh, yes. Me, too.

Brett Johnson: -or heard something said, going, "That makes sense," especially when you start to change what you're doing in your world-

Michelle Wilson: Right.

Brett Johnson: -and things hit you differently, when you start to think about things differently, whether it's a new business venture, or you're venturing with a new career, whatever; you just hear it differently. I think every episode, all the guests have done a fantastic job of bringing just little nuggets, yeah-

Michelle Wilson: A nugget, right. There have been times that I've walked away thinking, or not thinking, but just having learned something that I just didn't expect. There was a couple of times when I was kind of gobsmacked, for lack of a better word.

Michelle Wilson: In one of those, a piece of advice came out of it. One of my favorite things was to ask, "What advice were you given, or what advice would you now give?" One of the podcasts, there was a piece of advice given to one of our interviewees that I loved, and I have now used in a practical way with my kids, and in my life. I definitely learned a life lesson out of doing an interview that … Gosh, that's not what I expected to get out of it, but it was great.

Brett Johnson: All right. Advice to a business owner, or another Chamber outside of the Columbus area … They would like to start a podcast … Wouldn't want any more competition here, but since the podcast is worldwide-

Michelle Wilson: We've got it covered.

Brett Johnson: We've got it covered, here, but I'll ask both of you, what advice would you give a business owner, or another Chamber that may be considering podcasting as a marketing tool? What would you tell them to keep in mind?

Michelle Wilson: Steph, jump in anytime. I think I would tell them to try to come up with what's unique about them, and capitalize on it, with their podcast, with whatever the theme is, or what it is that they want to accomplish. Find out what's- identify what's unique, and use it.

Michelle Wilson: Also, try to get the supporters on board first, and not necessarily ask permission, but now that there's somebody that's doing this, and it's working, don't recreate the wheel, and definitely get people on board first. Realize that there are resources out there to help you get started, and that it's really a phenomenal tool to engage your members.

Stephanie Evans: They might be able to get sponsorship upfront [cross talk]

Michelle Wilson: Upfront, yes.

Stephanie Evans: -say, "Here's what we wanna do," and model it after this or that, and be able to get some sponsorship upfront. I would say definitely think about that. One of the things that I think our podcast does is, alongside of the information that's shared from the interviewees, is it showcases the personality of the Chamber, just in the conversations that take place.

Stephanie Evans: I do think that the conversations … Michelle's done a really great job of being very natural, and being able to bring out the personality, not only of the person being interviewed, but her personality shows, too. I think that that …

Stephanie Evans: I always tell people who are thinking about joining our Chamber that the personality of our Chamber, I really do feel like, represents the communities that we represent. It's a really warm, sincere group of people who wanna see each other support- sorry, wanna support each other, and see each other be successful. I feel like that comes through in the interviews, just the personalities. I think that's a real nice benefit for our members, and for the Chamber, as a whole.

Brett Johnson: Yeah, I would think, and I agree … I always think this medium is not a fake-it medium. It's raw. It's raw. The emotions are there. You just can't fake it, versus writing a blog, or having a professional blogger write it for you that represents your company. This is it. I think the podcast brings that out of the Chamber, as well as the guests I've seen, overall.

Brett Johnson: Congratulations on your move, Michelle.

Michelle Wilson: Thank you very much.

Brett Johnson: That was a kick in the gut, when you told me you were leaving. a little bit-

Stephanie Evans: I second that-.

Brett Johnson: -because I knew I was going to miss working with you. I knew the podcast would live on, because it had legs, and I knew Stephanie was more than capable of getting this done, but working with you, I knew I was gonna miss [cross talk] because it was a lot of fun.

Brett Johnson: I am looking forward to what Stephanie is gonna do, as well, too, because the focus of this podcast, I think, is extremely important to me, as well as getting it done for the Chamber, as well, too. Congratulations on your move to Experience Columbus-

Michelle Wilson: Thank you.

Brett Johnson: -and congratulations on your new chair, and new role.

Stephanie Evans: Thanks, Brett … Literally a new chair.

Brett Johnson: Exactly.

Stephanie Evans: Literally a new chair. It moves.

Brett Johnson: I do look forward to working, as we continue on with Business Inspires.

Michelle Wilson: Thank you [cross talk].

Stephanie Evans: Thank you, Brett. I look forward to working with you, too.

Michelle Wilson: Thank you for all your support. This is because of you, and your great idea, and that our members are benefiting. Thank you for doing that.

Brett Johnson: Thank you. Thank you.

Sonix is the best online audio transcription software in 2019.

The above audio transcript of “Business Inspires” was transcribed by the best audio transcription service called Sonix. If you have to convert audio to text in 2019, then you should try Sonix. Transcribing audio files is painful. Sonix makes it fast, easy, and affordable. I love using Sonix to transcribe my audio files.

Recorded in Studio C at the 511 Studios, located in the Brewery District in downtown Columbus, OH!

Brett Johnson is the owner and lead consultant at Circle270Media Podcast Consultants. The podcast consultants at Circle270Media have over 30+ years of experience in Marketing, Content Creation, Audio Production/Recording, and Broadcasting. We strategically bring these worlds together with Podcasting.

You can email Brett at podcasts@circle270media.com to talk more about your new or established business podcast. www.circle270media.com

Athletic Mind Institute Podcast

In this episode, I talk with Dr. Todd Kays, host of Athletic Mind Institute Podcast, a podcast he produces for his sports and performance psychology practice, The Athletic Mind Institute.

Athletic Mind Institute (transcribed by Sonix)

Brett Johnson: Before we get into the business side of the podcast, I wanted to give you some time, and talk about a nonprofit that you support with your time, talent, or treasure. Let's talk a little bit about nonprofits.

Dr. Todd Kays: Well, because I'm a cancer survivor, I certainly support a lot of things related to cancer, all the way from riding in Pelatonia, to donating to various funds at, for example, the Ohio State University – their cancer research center – and all the wonderful things they there; as well as there's organizations here in town who help people who are coming from out of town to be treated for cancer, and sometimes, they have to stay here for a number of days. They don't have the money for gas, food, for a place to stay.

Dr. Todd Kays: Most of my nonprofit, I guess, dedication has been around the area of cancer, and primarily, the incentive was … I had the personal incentive of being a cancer survivor, so I want to certainly give back, and help people, certainly, in this situation.

Brett Johnson: That tends to be where the help goes. I think we have various nonprofits that we help with, depending. but a lot of it does hinge on health-related situations, whether it affected you directly, or a family member, or a close friend, and such, that it seems to be that's where it goes, which is great, because that has the emotional tie.

Dr. Todd Kays: Exactly.

Brett Johnson: You continue on, and you advocate, as well, as you're doing right now, so, yeah, great. Let's talk a little bit about your professional background, and history – how you started your business.

Dr. Todd Kays: I started my business … In sports psychology, it was very new, newer, when I was coming in out of graduate school. The first sports psychologist that we had, even with United States Olympics, was in 1988 Seoul, Korea.

Dr. Todd Kays: I was in graduate school, 1990, so there wasn't a whole lot being done at that time. I had found that, about two years before … When you do a doctorate, you have to do a year of internship. I found that Ohio State was doing something a little bit in the area of sports psychology, so I contacted them. Fortunately, they gave me … I earned the internship.

Dr. Todd Kays: During that time, I also helped to build a fellowship program, because there was no other fellowship programs in the country for postdoctoral people to get any training in sports psychology, so, we started there. At that point, there were really no jobs in the mid-'90s. You couldn't look up, and find a job for sports psychologist needed. They're still very limited, believe it or not, across the country, in, for example, large university settings.

Dr. Todd Kays: About 1998, it was time for me to … The person at Ohio State, obviously far, and few between jobs, he was going to stay there, so I had to say, "Well, there's no jobs out there," and I had to either do something else, or start my own practice. I started my own practice, and I guess this is 20 years now I've been in private practice.

Brett Johnson: Did you have a mentor moving into that arena, knowing it was just wide open?

Dr. Todd Kays: I did not, in fact. I read a lot. I talked to certain people, but a specific mentor, no, because there really wasn't many people doing this at that time that … On one hand, it was exciting, because you blaze your own trail. On the other side of things, I wish I could have learned from somebody; maybe made fewer mistakes that I made.

Dr. Todd Kays: I have more … I call them colleagues, but they're truly mentors, because we go back and forth, and we can share ideas, and talk about our businesses, talk about growing practices, all the way from a marketing perspective, to how are you working with a professional team, or how do you get into a certain college, to help them understand the importance and the need for these types of services?

Brett Johnson: Did you have an uphill struggle in explaining what this was all about-

Dr. Todd Kays: Still do-

Brett Johnson: -on what, and why it's important? You do? Wow.

Dr. Todd Kays: Still do. It's much better, and I think people are understanding it more, and more today. I will probably speak 30 to 40 times a year at different events, and one of my first question is: how many have been exposed, or worked with, or understand sports psychology? I would be lucky to still get 5 to 10 percent of them that would raise their hand.

Brett Johnson: To ask them, many will say, "Well, it's helping the mind with athletes." That's a very simplistic view, but what exactly do you do? Very few people, even today, have a difficult time understanding, until … Once I break it down for them, they're all in. They're like, "Shy didn't I do this 20 years ago? Why didn't I do this five years ago? Why didn't I get my son or daughter started in this, when they entered high school, or even middle school?"

Dr. Todd Kays: We're all about developing positive habits. Well, I'm helping develop positive mental habits, and there's a process to that, and there's a way to do that, that most people, when they read about sports psychology, it's very pie in the sky, and airy; it's like, "Well, yeah, that makes sense. I need to focus more.".

Dr. Todd Kays: To me, what's been exciting over particularly the past decade is for me to show the process for people to actually strengthen their ability to focus. When I make it real for them, when I demonstrate to them, when I have them do it, when they continue to do it, and they start getting results, then they're like, "Oh …" The light bulb goes off-.

Brett Johnson: The a-ha moment. I like how on your website, you've also … In your practice, you've expanded into even musicians.

Dr. Todd Kays: Oh, absolutely.

Brett Johnson: I love that aspect of it, going, "Well, sure …" It's a competition in a different form, or it's still a mental game.

Dr. Todd Kays: Absolutely. When I first started in the sports, I … My personality, I like variety, and that's a part of the reason I wanted to start my own business is because I wanted to do a number of different things. I wanted to write; I wanted to consult to various organizations; I wanted to do clinical counseling; I also wanted to do performance consulting.

Dr. Todd Kays: It was actually in the late '90s, when I started my practice, where I realized that everything we do in life is a performance. It really started rolling when I had … A fairly high executive at a large company here in town came to me, and said, "The performance that you're teaching my son in golf," he goes, "My staff need this," and he goes, "Does that make sense to you?" I said, "Perfectly."

Dr. Todd Kays: That kinda changed real early. I've been able to work with a broad scheme of people, which is … To me, part of my personality is I love the variety. The musicians came about is more so when we had the financial crisis in 2008; that they were gonna close the symphony.

Dr. Todd Kays: Most of these people, once you get a symphony job, you stay there, and most of these people had been there 15, 20, sometimes 30 years. They had not auditioned in that long. Now, all the sudden, they're out of a job, and they have to go, and they have to audition, which they haven't done for years.

Dr. Todd Kays: The anxiety, the worry, certainly the stress of losing a job, certainly the financial stress – "How am I gonna support my family?" – all of those sorts of things … I've got a flood of people from the Columbus Symphony saying, "I am so nervous. I've played the French horn; I've played the flute for 30 years, and I can barely play now, because I'm so nervous about the upcoming auditions." It was, and it still is – I still consult to a lot of musicians – it's a fascinating group to work with.

Brett Johnson: Wow, that's interesting that it turned into the loss of a job, and having to re-audition, rather than the performance skills, and just keeping up their level of play. It's just survival mode.

Dr. Todd Kays: Correct. Desperation sometimes leads us to do things.

Brett Johnson: So, why a podcast?

Dr. Todd Kays: Well, it certainly wasn't something I started out doing, and, in fact, I work with a lot of younger people, partly out of choice, because they keep my mind young; they keep me sharp. There's a number of different people I work with, who work with teams; let's say a golf professional, a golf fitness specialist, and then myself, and, for example, they'll be young.

Dr. Todd Kays: They're always … Instagram, Twitter … Everything is just constant 24/7 for them, and I kinda learned from that. I was like, "Well …" I thought it was really cool what they were doing, but I didn't know much about it, but I saw enough. I was smart enough to realize this is the future.

Dr. Todd Kays: I literally just thought, "Well, the young people, that's what they want to work with." The majority of people, at least from the athletic realm that I work with, are 30 and under, and as young as 10, 11, 12. They have their phones always with them. They are used to podcasts. They are used to social media. Part of the incentive was this is really a part of the business. This has to grow.

Dr. Todd Kays: The other part, for me, was they can actually have my advice, my guidance, my sometimes voice with them 24/7, and it's very helpful to them. It's, in some ways, more affordable. Where my heart was, was I can change more people's lives.

Brett Johnson: Who was all involved at the very beginning? Was it just yourself thinking about this, or did you bring some team members in, going, "Hey, I'm going to do this," and just lay it on the table, and get some input from people around you?

Dr. Todd Kays: No, it was just myself. I just started, and, at the beginning, I scripted things. I would listen to them, and, honestly, I have to say, I didn't listen to them that closely. I was like, "Aw, it's good enough. Let's just get it out," but I scripted things. Then, I learned, boy, this is taking me a long time. Script it, and go over it …

Dr. Todd Kays: Then, I was like, "That's not me." It didn't even sound like me. It sounded too forced, and I was trying to almost teach like I would in the beginning, when I first started teaching at the college level. I would have very prepared presentations.

Dr. Todd Kays: Then, I learned over time, what did the students really like? They loved how I was just interactive. I was with them; I was just talking with them; I was asking them questions. It was telling them stories; giving them images.

Dr. Todd Kays: That's when I just started saying, "Okay, I am just gonna start talking. I don't know what's gonna come out, I'm just gonna stay with this topic." Over the years, it's gotten better. I still am refining, because I'm really taking my podcast to a whole different level now.

Dr. Todd Kays: Now, I'm in the process of getting other people involved, where they're listening. They're giving me feedback. I'm trying to structure it. I'm trying to understand the time. What is the maximum, or minimum time that somebody will listen to a podcast, particularly my audience? I'm finding that they love two to three minutes. Then, I'm finding adults who are fine with 20 minutes, and they will sit down, and they really enjoy the intellectual part, and love learning. I'm learning about that as we speak.

Brett Johnson: From first thoughts to the first episode, how long of a process was that discussion in your mind to do the podcast?

Dr. Todd Kays: It wasn't long. I think I just saw young people doing it. It took me a long time to write. I enjoy writing, but it always took me a long time. The perfectionist in me would come out. I said, "I'm looking at all these young people, and I'm hearing other podcasts …" I'm just like, "Why not?" I literally just sat down on my computer, and just did it, and I sent it out to my email database. I was like, "Wow, people are actually listening to this," and it was easy, and it was fun.

Dr. Todd Kays: Then, I just keep learning, refining, changing. Obviously, my approach, my knowledge, my experience, my expertise is a lot different than it was 20 years ago, so I can add different takes on something that I might have taught very differently 10 years ago.

Brett Johnson: Right, yeah, the student experience that, maybe in the classroom, wasn't quite the same as in real life, but there were pieces that were similar, sure-

Dr. Todd Kays: Absolutely, absolutely.

Dr. Todd Kays: Were you thinking of return on investment, or a return on influence, when you first started? How were you going to measure that this was working for you? Because it does take a little time … As you said, at the very beginning, you were scripting; so obviously, a lot more time than you're doing now, but it does have that dedication of open-mic record – is it worth my time? Were you putting some factors in your mind on what you thought, about how long you were going to give this?

Dr. Todd Kays: I would like to say that I was an astute business person at the time, and had any thought of that, but I did not. I honestly did not-

Brett Johnson: There is no wrong answer to that. It doesn't matter … Some people say the exact same things, like, "No, I just knew it was the right thing to do.".

Dr. Todd Kays: That's what it was for me; I knew it was something I wanted to try. One of the things that I love about, and I truly try to capture every week, and I'm getting better, is the creativity part. Running a business has been a challenge – for any small business person – but when you're trying to do, and you're wearing multiple hats, it's hard to do what you're really, really good at, maybe passionate about, but at the same time, you have to run a business.

Dr. Todd Kays: The podcast, for me, began as more … It was tapping into my creativity. It was tapping into my heart, which I was like, "This is fun," and I looked forward to doing it, as opposed to sitting down, and writing something, and then analyzing it, and then researching it. I was like, "This is fun," and I'm getting good feedback from at least the student athletes, or the athletes at the time, who are giving me feedback. They were saying, "This is really good. I love this.".

Dr. Todd Kays: I knew I had something, but until, honestly, recently is the first time that I've even thought about, "Okay …" and that was on the advice of another business person, who said, "You've got some great content, and I know that you lead with your heart," he told me, "but I'm a business person," and he said, "just some advice …" He goes, "You can use some free things, but," he goes, "this is really good stuff, and I would encourage you to look at it as," as he said, "maybe a yearly membership, because you could touch people all over the world for a very small price, and you deserve to get paid for your years of experience, and what you're giving out." So, it wasn't my idea, and I'm still honestly getting used to the idea of running it like that, but I'm using him as a mentor to help me.

Brett Johnson: Right. I think a lot of podcasters look at it that way, as well, too, that you're giving it away for free. That was the total intent, initially. He's like, "Yes, I'm branding myself; I'm getting out this information, but is my information- is my content worth anything to anyone?" Then you start working at that price point, going, "Okay, what is this?" You can only play with it, and figure out where the ouch point is, and get a feel from the email database: Would you pay for this? Would you … How much would you …? The range, and such.

Brett Johnson: I think that's where business podcasting will probably have to go a little bit more, because then you have these different levels of listeners, of engagement, as well, still remaining free, because that's what podcasting ultimately is; but, I think we'll have an expectation that there'll be memberships-

Dr. Todd Kays: Correct.

Brett Johnson: -to have deeper content, access to you in a different way, as well, too, that you may be not in Dublin, Ohio, but Dublin, Ireland, and I can talk to Dr. Kays, because I'm part of [cross talk] membership, and such, too, sure.

Dr. Todd Kays: Absolutely, absolutely.

Brett Johnson: The podcast, itself, it's showcasing your sport and performance psychology expertise. How are you allowing it to do that? When you first scripted, you were writing these ideas down, but now, as that business owner said to you, you lead with your heart … When you open your mic, where's it coming from? How are you doing this? Is it topics in mind that you think, "Okay, I do wanna cover this, this, this, and this?" How is it coming to you?

Dr. Todd Kays: It really comes to me based on all of the work I'm doing. For example, if I'm working with … I have a number of professional athletes. They're very different, and have different challenges – to a college student athlete, to a high school student athlete, to a middle school student athlete, to the parents, to the coaches.

Dr. Todd Kays: It's, for example, a lot of times, what I'm hearing, seeing in my current practice at any given time. Recently, in the past two months, just right here in central Ohio, there were a number of student athlete suicides. Immediately, I thought this has gotta be addressed, so immediately, that day, because I had literally, that day, when the third one occurred, I had calls from three different colleges for me to come out, and speak.

Dr. Todd Kays: I said, "Okay, this is real life stuff. Winning a game, that's wonderful, but it's a game. This was real life stuff." I immediately started writing, and getting this out, saying we have to look at student athletes do have depression, do have anxiety, do have clinical issues, just like everybody else. We can't think that just because they're on TV, or they appear to be a 26-year-old, when they're really only 18 years old, and sometimes, they're only emotionally about 15, or 16. We can expect that. In that way, that's what … I led that.

Dr. Todd Kays: I consistently hear distraction. Why do we have a distraction? Well, partly it's because of young high school students constantly being on social media, and the distraction that creates. I said, "Okay, I've gotta develop not only podcasts, but I wanna develop …" in the process of developing a video course. "You wanna learn how to quiet your mind? These are the things you need to do." It's really just based on the trends that I'm seeing, and that I'm hearing from student athletes, athletes every single day. I kinda let that guide what I'm doing, and what I'm going to choose to discuss.

Brett Johnson: I know a lot of businesses want to add content to their website, but they're also pulling back. "Okay, we don't wanna slap everything up there," because it starts messing with the look of the website, and, "Where do we put it as a new tab?" this, that, and the other. Have you seen adding content to your website, the podcast content, increase some traffic to your website, as well?

Dr. Todd Kays: It is increasing some traffic, and, I think what I'm getting more of, besides the traffic, is that I will hear kids, and their parents, for example, of young athletes, I will hear them … They will literally come up to me and say, "Love the podcast. That was so spot on." Whereas, when I was writing newsletters, and papers, I wouldn't get that as much. I do think it's the day and age that … I'm not saying it's a good thing, but we're a very rushed society, and people want things quickly; they want things on the run.

Dr. Todd Kays: Now, my whole premise, when I've done these podcasts, is these aren't quick fixes. When I give, for example, mental training drills, a mental training drill, to a team of student athletes, it might be, "You're gonna listen to this three-minute podcast, but then you're gonna journal about it for seven minutes." I want them to, again, slow down, but, we're in a world; they have access to it …

Dr. Todd Kays: They have people recognizing my name; for example, I'll show up to speak somewhere, and a student athlete who I've never met before will say, "Hey, a friend of mine shared your podcast with me. They're really good." I'm like. "Cool. That's great." For me, that's awesome. If he's listening to something, that means, to me, he's opening his mind to developing positive mental habits well beyond sports.

Dr. Todd Kays: Because I realize that I'm not in this- never was in this business to make professional athletes. I was in this business to help people be successful in life. I realized that there's only a tiny percentage that will ever make a career in professional sports, but if I can help them develop these habits that are going to make their families successful; they're gonna be a successful mom, or a successful dad, someday, or a successful business owner, or agent, or teacher, or whatever, that's what this is really about.

Brett Johnson: Yeah, that's great. Let's get down into the nitty-gritty, in regards to your publishing schedule strategy. When you first started, were you thinking, "I'm gonna do this monthly, every other week, weekly, daily"? What did you initially start out as, and are you still continuing that? How has that evolved, in regards to your schedule strategy?

Dr. Todd Kays: It evolved, most the time, in the beginning, as something struck my heart, and I just did it. I sat down, and I did it. A lot of times, I didn't know what to do with it; it just sat there, because I didn't exactly know, because I'm not one to … I was worried- maybe not worried, but concerned about if I would bombard all of the people that were in my database, who have had relationships with me, or have signed up for newsletters, and things like that.

Dr. Todd Kays: I didn't wanna bombard 'em with 'em, and I really didn't know … Did they really want to listen to these? I was very slow at first. I kept a bank of them, and then would slowly put them out, maybe once a month, honestly; maybe twice a month. It was very haphazard. I would have to say, in the last couple of years of doing this, even though I have over probably 400 podcasts made, only a small few of them have been sent out.

Dr. Todd Kays: Now, with the help of a business mentor, I'm kind of starting to understand, "Okay, this is how you should be doing this. This has to have more of a consistent structure to it." Whether, again, I make any money, I have no idea, but if it helps people … I do know that people may not purchase the podcast, but I do know that it touches people. I do get calls saying, "Hey, I heard your podcast. My son is really struggling; really wants to play at the college level; really gets anxious before competitions. Is this something you can help with?" Absolutely.

Brett Johnson: You mentioned an email strategy, at the very beginning, you incorporated – at least the very first ones in your email – as a delivery system. Still incorporating those in your emails, as well?

Dr. Todd Kays: Yes. The email system, for me, has been the best, honestly. When I look over the years, it's still better than Instagram, which I've been using for the past particularly year, year and a half, maybe two years. The email has always been the best, from my standpoint. All of these other forms of social media …

Dr. Todd Kays: Could be because I'm not using them correctly, or maximizing their benefit, but, it seems that people are in front of their emails, at least adults, who, in some ways, understand the importance … If we look at sports psychology, and athletics, they understand it more, because, simply, they're older. They have more wisdom.

Dr. Todd Kays: A 12-, 15-, 16-year-old? Not necessarily gonna understand it. They like the podcast, because it's cool. It's something they can listen to. They will listen to it in the locker room. Whereas, a parent will get the email, and they'll say, "Wow, this is valuable stuff," and then possibly give me a call, or try to get in touch with me about speaking to their team, or speaking to their club, or whatever the case may be.

Brett Johnson: Instagram, as well as podcasting, is fairly artwork heavy. What's your strategy? How do you create this artwork that you're using, especially for Instagram?

Dr. Todd Kays: I've recently found an app, and it's called Canva. It makes Instagram a little bit more easy. I was just doing it this morning, because I have a big mental training program coming up, and the young people around me say, "You gotta get this on Instagram," so I say okay. One of my friends – and he's in a completely different discipline – he exposed me to this.

Dr. Todd Kays: It took me probably, this morning, an hour. I sent it to him; I said, "What do you think?" He said, "Looks great. How long did it take you?" I said, "An hour." He said, "Why didn't you just tell me? I could have done it in five minutes." I said, "Okay, if you're serious, I'm going to do that.".

Dr. Todd Kays: At the same time, I am truly- the creative part of me, I'm truly enjoying listening, and learning about all these things that are on. It's fun, actually, for me to learn about different companies that do different things with podcasts; how Instagram works, and how they interact with all the others. I'm actually enjoying learning about it. I'm just a little slow-.

Brett Johnson: Yeah, and I'm in the same boat. It does tend to bring the creativity out of you , especially with as easy as those apps are anymore. Canva really does make it easy. There are probably five more out there that we don't even know about, or don't remember, at this point in time, but they do make it pretty easy to come up with some very eye-friendly graphics for podcasting; especially for Instagram, because that's very heavy visual arts, for Instagram, compared to a Facebook or a Twitter. You've gotta … It's still that thumb roll. You've gotta catch the eye of that user, and that artwork has to do it for you.

Dr. Todd Kays: Right. I have found, and that's where I will, again, extending outside of my comfort zone … I do think … I'm getting better at it, but I'm having a photographer … She comes out, and she just takes pictures, live pictures of me. It might be speaking; it might be interacting with a team; it might be working one on one. Because I do think those live pictures … I like them better, because they're truly me. They're truly what we're doing, and it's not just clip art, or stock images. I do think that draws more of a personal touch, too-

Brett Johnson: That is Instagram, right there. That is Instagram. Instagram loves that. I took this picture, and I'm posting it sort of feel to it, where I think the other platforms are tending to be stock photo. Nothing wrong with that, it just comes down to that's the flavor of Instagram. That's the way it is. Why did you choose SoundCloud as a platform to post your audio on?

Dr. Todd Kays: Well, this is to my lack of knowledge. I honestly … These files, all these 400 podcasts, I didn't know what to do with them, and they were big. I honestly didn't know how to share 'em, and get 'em back and forth. I was sending them through email to clients. I would say, "Here, I'm gonna … " I would find that, because I would have one in mind, or two in mind, after working with one of my athletes … I'd say, "I want you to listen to these couple of podcasts that I did; I think they hit on exactly what we were talking about today, and …" Just, again, it's another form of learning. Every time you listen to a podcast, it's mental training. You are training positive mental habits just by listening to it.

Dr. Todd Kays: I tried doing that, but it was so tedious, and it was taking me so long. I'm like, "There's got to be a better way," and literally, a young person said, "Well, what about SoundCloud?" I looked, and there's … From the medium I use to do my podcast, there's a direct link, lo and behold, to SoundCloud. I was like, "Wow, that was easy.".

Dr. Todd Kays: I think, right now, I have about … I decided at that time, I said, "Well …" I think I might have 100, 120 on SoundCloud now, and I just think, wow, it's easy. People are accessing them, and I get feedback from, "Hey, you have a new follower," or, "So-and-so liked this," I have no idea who they are. I'm still trying to understand that whole process, but I'm like, "This is kinda neat.".

Dr. Todd Kays: You can't, as I've learned from a business side, and that's what I'm grappling with, as a business owner, is that they cannot … On SoundCloud, you can't sell. That's what I'm trying to explore, these other means. If I, in fact, do go that route, I may just stay with … I just enjoy doing these. If it continues to get the word out, and people grow from it, and, certainly from a marketing standpoint, they get to know what we do at my practice, and we have growth that way, that's wonderful.

Dr. Todd Kays: At least in my mind, I don't look at podcasts, and maybe I could be completely wrong, as going to help me retire. I just look at it as all right, this is more of a easy marketing … At least that's the way I've looked at it. Now, I could be wrong, and I could learn from other people that this is a viable income stream.

Dr. Todd Kays: Whether I wanna make it that or not, that'll be my decision down the line. At least I'm exploring the options, because the one thing they do not teach you in psychology, or graduate school, is how to run a business, so I'm learning. I've had to rely on business owners to teach me, and learn from them, because I just … It's not something that comes natural to me.

Brett Johnson: I think podcasting … It's not in its infancy, but it is in its infancy, in the monetization piece to it. What's so fun about it is you can monetize this in any way you want, and at any time that you want. You're right on task that you walked into it with the right mindset. You're doing it for the love of it, for the end-user, and for your business, obviously, as well, too.

Brett Johnson: Are there opportunities down the road? Sure, when it's the right time; when you feel comfortable in doing what you wanna do with it. It sounds as though you've set that up quite well. Your equipment setup, how are you doing this in your office?

Dr. Todd Kays: I literally use my Apple Computer, and I do have a mic that … I don't just do it over the computer. I have learned that the sound quality is better, and I just simply do it that way. I do some editing, because I'm tinkering around with putting intro music, putting a specific closing. Those are in the beginning stages, and those, from my standpoint … I'm just learning those, and those are, for me, time-intensive. I could send them to somebody else, and it would take them 15 minutes, what would take me three hours.

Dr. Todd Kays: I'm tinkering around, but most of the time, I just put my microphone with … To incorporate sound the best. I'm sure it's not anything like professional equipment, but it's, at least, inexpensive right now. If it continues to grow, I certainly would not be opposed at all to doing it more on a professional level, with graphics and things of that nature, which is, I think, ultimately … It is ultimately what I wanna do, because I cannot be … I can be in front of one person, or one team at a time, so, my time is limited, and that's the greatest asset I have right now.

Dr. Todd Kays: In addition to hiring a couple other qualified people, it is a way to get in front of people. I want to give them the best, at least as best as I can. If somebody is paying for a service, or a product, I want it to be high quality. My assumption is I'm going to step that up into a more professional arena, such as this, such as somebody doing the graphics, and things like that. I can do what I'm really, really good at, and what I love. They can do what they're good.

Dr. Todd Kays: That's the whole basis of a team in sports is coaches, you coach your position; players, you play your position. Don't worry about the guy next to you; don't worry about the guy across from you. You have no control. You just do the best you can at your craft. That's all you need to do, and I need to take my own advice on that. I'm getting there.

Brett Johnson: I think you look at it in the best way, I know a lot of people, and you hear these stories of businesses, or individuals, whoever it might be, that look at the equipment options – let's put it that way – and it just freezes 'em up. "Where should I go? What should I buy?" The advice always given is just do it.

Brett Johnson: You can always buy the USB mic in two or three weeks, if you don't like the sound of just recording yourself on the Mac computer. You can always change the room you're in, if you don't like the room ambiance, but you have to start, first, otherwise you'll never know what's comfortable for you. I think you've taken that right approach, step, by step, by step. You jumped in; you did it for the right reason to get going.

Brett Johnson: You mentioned a little bit about future plans. Without laying out specifics, and giving away the farm, or anything like that, what are the future plans for the podcast? Where are you thinking about going with this? We mentioned a little bit about in regards to the membership level, but also, where are you going with the concept, itself, with the podcast?

Dr. Todd Kays: I will continue to do podcasts, simply because I really enjoy doing them, first and foremost. I would like to see them grow, and I want to see my own … First off, I wanna see two things happen. One is I want to see my own abilities to do podcasts improve. The podcasts that I'm doing now, I'm sending them out to a number of trusted people, and I say, "Give me every piece of feedback that you can give me."

Dr. Todd Kays: I have learned so much in just the past 30 days, because they've been giving me honest feedback about what's really good, and how I can sharpen my own skills to, for example, get to the point, or "You're talking about too many points in this five minutes. You need to just choose one of these points." That's the first thing that I'm doing.

Dr. Todd Kays: The second thing is to get, and learn with other professionals who are good at this, and this is what they do, to help me along this process, because I do want to, if I'm going to put a product out … Particularly, I haven't probably worried about it as much, because it was just something fun, and I thought it was helping people, and I really didn't think much beyond it.

Dr. Todd Kays: If it gets to a point where I choose to say this is something that could reach out worldwide, and I start getting that sort of feedback, I really want to have the best product, the best visuals, the best sound. I want it to be very professionally done, and that a person is going to know that this was not just done in his home office, while he was sitting watching TV. This was truly done with a lot of forethought. Then they feel that this – if it is a yearly membership – this was worth it, because this is a high-quality product.

Dr. Todd Kays: I've always held high standards for myself, and I think I'm at that place where I was rushing … I honestly say I was rushing ahead with these podcasts, and it was my wife who said, "Slow down. You're throwing a lot of things out there. The reason that you're a little stressed is because that's not you. You're more methodical; you're high quality. Slow things down, and start doing things the way you know this should be done." It was kind of odd that you had called me to do this, because I'm just in that process of thinking about all these things right now.

Brett Johnson: Interesting. Yeah, that's good. What advice would you give to any business that comes to you … "Love your podcast; love what you're doing. Heard your interview on Note to Future Me …" What advice would you give to a business that is considering this as a marketing tool – a podcast?

Dr. Todd Kays: I would first say make sure that you truly wanna do it. Make sure that this is something that you're speaking from your heart, and you're not doing it to simply make money, and jump on this trend, or … I shouldn't say it's a trend. This new medium we're using to get information out. I would say that it has to be certainly something you truly believe in, and you have a desire to truly get your message across – whatever that message might be – if it's financial, if it's psychological, if it's legal, whatever the case might be. I would say that would be my first thing.

Dr. Todd Kays: Then, the second thing is I would say just start doing it; practicing. The thing I would do that I didn't do it first: give it to some people; just have 'em listen to it first, before you just send out, because you may not know what you just did, if you don't listen to it, and you may have some background noise that you didn't even realize. Then it comes across as, "Well, I'm not gonna listen to that person again, because that sounded like he was in an airport while he was doing his podcast. I don't wanna listen to that."

Dr. Todd Kays: I would say that is … Really want to do it, and feel passion in your heart about your message. Then, like you were saying earlier, just jump in, and try it, and do it. Then, just keep refining the skills around it, and use a support team. As I'm learning, a lot sooner than I have, is to rely on video experts, rely on audio experts, rely on social media experts. Let them help you along the way, because it will be a much better product, and ultimately, you'll get to do what you're good at, and you'll allow them to do what they're good at.

Brett Johnson: [coughing] Edit point. Okay, hold that back so [inaudible] Just on the end of a cold. Okay, good. Thank you for being a guest on my podcast. I appreciate it. The insight you've given is dead on, and I think we read a lot about this in Facebook posts, and groups for podcasters, and such, but I think it comes off more genuine, when you hear somebody talk about it, and through their experiences.

Brett Johnson: That is exactly what the focus of this podcast is. I love that you're at the grassroots piece of this podcast, and what you're doing with it, and learning over, now, over 400 episodes; maybe only half published, but, at the same time, you've got them in a bank, and you're ready to do … You're looking to the future, as well, with what you're doing with this. I think it's exciting, as well, that it continues to evolve with what you wanna do with it. Again, thank you for being a guest. I appreciate it.

Dr. Todd Kays: Thank you for having me. Just by being here, and you forcing me to answer … Not forcing me to answer these questions, but putting these questions in front of me, really forced me to, again, really think about what my next steps are, and really solidify them in my own mind. I appreciate that.

Dr. Todd Kays: I definitely will be listening to your podcast, because these are the exact things I need to learn, and I look forward to hearing other people's perspectives, and learning from them what they're doing, so maybe I can prevent my own mistakes, or just find a way to do things more efficiently, or find people who can help me do things more efficiently.

Brett Johnson: Great. Thank you. Cool. Good deal. All right. Thanks. Yeah, I will-

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Recorded in Studio C at the 511 Studios, located in the Brewery District in downtown Columbus, OH!

Brett Johnson is the owner and lead consultant at Circle270Media Podcast Consultants. The podcast consultants at Circle270Media have over 35+ years of experience in Marketing, Content Creation, Audio Production/Recording, and Broadcasting. We strategically bring these worlds together with Podcasting.

You can email Brett at podcasts@circle270media.com to talk more about your new or established business podcast. www.circle270media.com