In this wonderful conversation I have with Jenny Blake, we talk about podcasting as an HSP. Jenny hosts two podcasts with over 1 million downloads combined and currently publishes 12 episodes every month so I can’t think of anyone better to share these tips with you today.
Jenny Blake is an award-winning podcaster and the author of three award-winning books, including Pivot (2016) and Free Time (2022), with a podcast for each. Jenny is also the co-creator of Googles’s global drop-in coaching program, Career Guru.
💝 Key Takeaways
📚 Resources Mentioned
🔗 Where You Can Find Jenny
🌹 Rose’s Resources
Rose: Hey, it’s Rose and welcome to another episode of the Sensitive CEO Show. And in this week’s episode, it’s my absolute pleasure to introduce you to Jenny Blake. Jenny is an award-winning podcaster and author of three award-winning books, including. Pivot from 2016 and free time from 2022, and she has a podcast for each of these.
Welcome, Jenny. It’s wonderful to talk with you today.
Jenny: Thank you so much, Rose. I am so grateful for the serendipity popcorn that brought us together from across the world of putting these things out there book podcasts. I’m so delighted to be here. Thank you for having.
Rose: Oh, you’re most welcome. And I love that you brought up serendipity popcorn, because I love that metaphor that you use. It’s just beautiful.
Jenny: It’s just the greatest gift that if we put enough little seeds of ideas out into the world, people are attracted and we meet them in the most surprising ways. And this is just, it’s a perfect example of that. So yeah, my dad, my dad is the one that told me. Popcorn. It’s not a perfect metaphor because technically speaking it’s a linear relationship with the hotter it gets, the more kernels pop.
Yes. But he’s like, but each of us could get better at turning up the heat. So he accepted cuz he edited the book. He accepted it could stay.
Rose: Oh, I love that. I love it. And I, I actually came across you on a podcast with Dave Asprey. I’ve been listening to the Human Upgrade Podcast for many years. And when, yeah, when I heard you on Dave Asprey, I just thought, oh, I’ve got to follow this lady.
And so I binged on your Free Time podcast and then later pivot. And then I immediately downloaded the book on Kindle and devoured that I’ve now got the audible version and the hard copy, so obviously I can’t get enough of it. .
Jenny: Oh my God. So that’s amazing. It’s such a compliment. And even Dave, we met in the elevator going up to an event we were both invited to, but we were both running a little late and so, wow.
I’m really thankful that it’s his show that started the whole connection
Rose: Yeah, it’s amazing. I remember you saying you bumped into him in the lift and yeah, that was serendipity as well, wasn’t it?
Jenny: Absolutely, because sometimes if we end up at the party, I mean your show sensitive, CEO, I’m so introverted in a group situation and in a party, there’s probably no way I would walk up and even if I did, we would have a different kind of interaction of me saying, oh, oh, you’re Dave Asprey.
I’ve known about your work forever. I wrote Pivot by taking, what was it? At that time? It was like one of his supplements. Anyway, now it’s escaping my mind. That’d be so different than, oh, we’re both in the elevator trying to get to the same place. We have a shared mission and as I told the story of my newsletter, the super or the, the doorman, his name was actually Peter Pan.
And so we had a laugh and we had this shared moment, and I think it really started the connection off on a different, in a different way than otherwise would’ve happened. Yeah.
Rose: That’s brilliant. Brilliant. So I, as I said, I’ve read your book so many times and I love the opening quote that you’ve got by Khalil Gibran.
I’m not sure if I’m getting his, his name right. which is “Work is Love Made visible”. And that kind of leads me into what we’re gonna talk about today, which is getting our work and ourselves and our content out. Into the world in the form of a podcast, and I know that you are the podcasting queen. I see you as the podcasting queen.
You’ve just won two awards and you’ve, I think you’ve done over 300 episodes on Pivot and many, many episodes on free time. And something else that really inspired me was over lockdown. You did. you did three months of daily episodes on Pivot, which I thought was amazing. Mm-hmm. , so I can’t think of anyone else better to ask some tips for people who want to either start a podcast or those have already started, but maybe some tips on how to improve a podcast.
Jenny: Sounds great. Well, I love, I mean, you definitely chose the thing I’m so passionate about, and it’s been a labor of love, so it really is true to that quote. Mm-hmm. work is love made visible because podcasting takes the most work of any area of my business. I’ve been self-employed for 12 years now, and I’ve been podcasting for eight.
It takes the most work, it costs the most money, and it earns the least revenue in a straight up business sense. However, it. Right after I started with a scrappy little podcast pilot in 2015, it became the favorite thing that I do, and you and I were talking before we hit record about how it’s kind of the perfect medium for sensitive souls and introverts because you’re basically scheduling what are gonna be deep interesting conversations, one-on-one.
We, in this case, turn video off, which is always my preference. So much more relaxing. It’s not about how I look, how what I’m wearing. It’s just the voice. It’s two people connecting and hitting records for so that other people can benefit. And I find that to be so rewarding and it’s secretly the only way that I make friends now.
Because other than a random event here or there, the podcast is how I connect and it feels like both my work and also a way to build relationships that’s less awkward. Trying to, I don’t know, just I just, the word networking and the whole energy of that never worked for me, but podcasting does. It’s so fun to connect with people this way.
Rose: Oh, I love that you share that. And I think I heard on a. A recent episode that you did, you said it’s The Introverts Guide to Making Friends.
Jenny: Yes. A hundred percent. So I know it’s like, it’s so perfect that you can read a book. I’ve been a book worm my whole life. I will read a book, reach out to the author, and then, not always, but plenty of times they say yes. So now it’s like you get one-on-one time with authors just like you. And thank you so much for digging in so deeply to free time. And I’ve done the same thing where books have completely changed my life as my friends, my mentors, my business advisors, and then to get the opportunity to be one-on-one and just ask my personal follow-up questions in service of a larger audience.
What a gift.
Rose: It is such a gift, isn’t it? And I’m, I’m so with you about the networking face-to-face, and I think we are, I mean, you are in New York. I’m in a little place, a little regional town in the Sunshine Coast of Australia, so I don’t actually get out and see people. So making friends online is definitely my way of connecting right now.
Jenny: Yeah, I know it’s, and then you know that you’re connecting over shared interests and so I do think it can be a very rewarding part of a business, especially if, if an someone who is thinking of starting a podcast or already has one, probably the area where you would be the most right for disappointment is wanting it to grow very large and or very quickly as one of my mentors said to me, he has a podcast as well that he has learned recently that podcasts grow slower than mold . And that made me laugh because it’s true. But if you can unhook from that and just trust that the right listeners are out there and that it’s not about quantity, it’s really about who you’re attracting, who you’re meeting.
With fellow guests and good things can still happen for the business, especially if you get the systems down because every episode is like a 50 step project in and of itself, which I’m sure you know Rose from doing your show.
Rose: Yeah, and I love that you brought up systems. So can you share the processes that you do and how much of it do you actually outsource as well, and what do you do yourself?
Jenny: I’ll send you a Loom video that we can put in the show notes. That’s called A Day in the Life of a podcast episode, and that really walks through. I use Notion and Notion you can use Trello as well. Notion is great because it’s so dynamic. So I use Notion to power my whole business, but specifically for podcast production, I love setting it up as a kanban board that tracks the life of an episode.
So there’s different columns for. Ideas to. Invited, waiting to hear back scheduling, guest prep, recording, audio editing, show notes, finalize and schedule archive, things like that. even more , there’s even more to it, but we move this card across the board. So, Rose, if you are gonna be on my show, there would be, maybe I’ll, and I probably will do this, I’ll put the card under to invite and then it moves across the board.
So I also connect Calendly. To Notion via zappier. So that when somebody books through Calendly, which is where I have my podcast link, it sends all the data to not, so the card that gets created for the guest is already pre-populated with a lot of what they’ve put in their bio, their preferred headshot, what they’re excited to talk about.
And then it goes across the board like that. And you can create different views. The calendar view you can create. I have a view that’s just a list of solo episodes cuz I do a guest on Tuesday and a solo on Friday for the free time podcast. And so at a very high level, that’s how I keep track of everything because it’s very interesting with podcasts, you know, I don’t know, there might be 20 episodes in play at any given time at different stages of all that.
So you gotta really keep track of the details and also the high level. The best thing I did was hiring, finally, finally, a team that specifically handles podcast production. Because previously I had always delegated aspects of it, like somebody to edit the audio, somebody to draft the show notes. But I still own the life of an episode, cognitively speaking, the tax was still on me, and if I got tired or I didn’t delegate or review things properly, it, it stopped, and it wasn’t consistent because I was the single point of failure. Now, I’ve hired a team. They’re called One Stone Creative, and they have their own, what I would call a delightfully tiny team.
And right when I hired them, I said, do not let me be the bottleneck if you don’t hear back from me to finalize the show notes, schedule it anyway, make it go live anyway. And so they pride themselves on consistency and never missing a deadline. And so they kind of. in partnership with them. It pushes me to get them what they need by whatever deadline, and then they know not to wait for me.
It goes live regardless whether I’ve seen it or not. And if I’m not happy with the show notes, well that’s my fault. And so that I can go in and edit them once it’s live. But I don’t stand in the way of that happening.
Rose: Amazing. And I know you do 12 episodes a month that you do for both podcasts?
Jenny: Yes. So four for Pivot, and then eight for Free Time. And I’ve had friends recently say, that’s so many. Why do you’re doing this? Are you sure you should produce this much? But here’s how I think about it, and I’m not saying that I would recommend everybody do 12. Over the years, I’ve realized this is my favorite thing that I do.
I feel that this is one of the most unique to me, things that I do, not, you know, I, I love writing books, but I only do that let’s say once every five years. There was this great book, we can put it in the show notes too, called, this is the Voice by John Colapinto, and he says that the voice. Like it, it translates, I don’t know exactly how to say it, but he basically says like, our voice is a window to the soul, just like our eyes are. And I think as podcast listeners, of which I’m also an avid listener, we experience that, you know, there are certain people who we just love their voice and could listen to whatever they feel like talking about that day.
And then there are other people who might have a helpful or interesting or entertaining show, but you just can’t stand listening to them. And so I find that very fascinating of how much depth can be conveyed just through this audio medium. And so for me, like with Pivot, it allows me to keep that body of work alive and talk to three interesting guests and do one solo that’s doable.
It’s manageable. And then with Free Time, I meet four fellow business owners. or connect with four old friends and do four solos. And the four solos every week, encourage me to put my public original thinking out. So every Friday it kind of holds me accountable to am I, am I thinking of new things? Am I putting interesting ideas out?
Am I creating helpful content? And so, yes, in some ways it is a stretch. It’s a lot, but it all of it is currently challenging me in ways that I find. Really beneficial. So I like arising to that challenge. Meanwhile, I haven’t sent a newsletter in two months, so I’m clearly not as delighted by that process, and I’m currently pausing so I can reflect and figure out, well, what does the newsletter want to become next, for example.
Rose: I think it’s good you’ve given yourself permission to pause the newsletter because you’re definitely doing loads and loads of podcasts, which I think is amazing.
I would love to ask you, Jenny, how you come up with ideas for solos, because that’s definitely something I struggle with.
Jenny: I know. Yeah, it’s, it’s hard because, if you have to think of it the day you’re gonna record, that’s, that’s really difficult. So I keep what I call a collection bucket in Notion. Of course, we can put this Loom in the show notes too.
I love sharing Looms, Looms for things that are kind of hard to grasp so that you can just see what I mean when we’re talking about this. The collection bucket is where every day as I’m reading the newspaper or. Like I said, I love listening to podcasts as well. When I’m on the go, any anything interesting, I hear a little factoid, a profile of somebody, a quote, something I just read.
I create a little card in my collection bucket, and then sometimes the card itself becomes what could be a solo episode, like just the other day, my brother said a term to me. I didn’t know what it meant. I looked it up and I’ll have to get you the exact phrase. There’s something called. The Cobra effect about perverse incentives, and I can tell you what it means, but essentially I’ll write that down.
And it’s basically, my brother had said to me, we were talking about how money doesn’t lead to happiness, but we think it does. You know, we get caught in the trap of thinking money will bring us happiness. And he said, oh, that reminds me of good Earth’s law. What the heck is that? So I look it up. Oh, it’s that what, when you aim at a measure, it ceases to become a good measure.
So like just aiming at money for money’s sake tends to be unfulfilling. And then that led me down this rabbit hole. So when I find things that are interesting, I create a little card and then I tag it as podcast topic. Sometimes I also. A process from a book called Story Worthy, and that’s about trying to capture little moments of my own day, a moment of awareness, an aha, disappointment, some kind of transformation or challenge, anything, something delightful.
And so sometimes those personal stories become the episode two, like. You might remember Rose. There was one called Be a Day Maker because. One day I was at my computer having meetings, and out of my window I see this gorgeous, ripped glistening man with his shirt off. Sadly cutting down a tree that I wish wasn’t cut down in the back space of where I live in New York City.
Do you remember that episode? Oh my gosh. Everybody ran to their windows. I saw a gay couple cross the across the way that had their coffee, and they’re just looking, watching this show like it was hilarious. All the neighbors were just watching the show and this guy was yucking it up, like waving at children, you know, he knew, he knew what he had.
Rose: Yeah I loved it.
And, yeah, and he made everybody’s day and I just saw it. And so that’s the episode of Via Day Maker. And, sometimes I don’t know if those are, they’re not as nitty gritty detail oriented, and so I might balance it out with an episode about exactly my book, royalty earnings just. Do one of my values, truth while it’s fresh or, or being transparent in a way that most people aren’t or they might not wanna offend a publisher, and as I didn’t want to for so long.
Things like that. So that’s kind of where I take ideas and inspiration.
Rose: I think I must have heard this on one of your episodes, but I have a weekly reminder in my phone that pops up on a Friday that says what feels true and Fresh, and I’m sure I got that from one of your episodes. And that helps me to, get ideas for my podcast.
Also social shares and newsletter but yeah, I started a collection bucket a while ago as well. Obviously from one of your podcasts.
Jenny: Amazing. And how’s it going for you? Is it helping with ideas?
Rose: It is. Yeah. I use click up, and I know, like I’ve seen you do some run throughs on Notion, and I’m so, so tempted to move over because I love what notion is capable of from the shares that you, you’ve done the looms, the wonderful Looms and everything.
But I’ve got so much set up in click up, so I’m, yeah, I’m not sure which way to go, but I, yeah, I have a feeling one day I’ll move to Notion.
Jenny: I know Well click up is real. I love the UI of Click Up and it seems really helpful and easy to use. I was very attracted when I signed in and played around. I think it’s so hard too because there are switching costs, especially once you have so much invested and you have all your intricate documentation and details. Ultimately didn’t go with click up, was that I felt it was still oriented around. Process and projects, whereas notion can be whatever you want, and in the beginning that’s intimidating, but notion can be whatever you’ll want. So like you can create, I have a fitness tracker or I’ll do banking stuff, or, you could write a book even you can start drafting a book in Notion.
And so I felt like even though there’s a little bit of a bigger learning curve in terms of setup at the beginning, You can grow into it in whatever way you want. Whereas sometimes the productivity software is still aimed at their main thing, their constraints on how much you can customize.
Rose: Yeah. It definitely looks so, so powerful.
And I know that you have a dashboard that you, you sell to people, is that right? A dashboard in Notion that helps people to get set up. I love that you’ve got that.
Jenny: Yeah, that’s my ethos of saving people time. It’s the free time business operations dashboard. And the main thing there, I, you know, I never wanna just like overly promote my own stuff, but I wanted somebody, especially a business owner who reads free time and they wanna put it into practice.
I wanna just save them the trouble. Like I love learning new software and I now have been playing around and learning for at least three years in terms of notion. And so the dashboard is everything I’ve figured out in those three years. Every template, content calendar, podcast, production, task management, c r m, everything that I’ve created, it’s already built.
And so that was. Felt like a gift. I, yes, I do charge for it because I do feel there’s a lot of value there, but I wanted to be able to save everybody time that, okay, you read the book, you’re inspired now let me save you the next a hundred hours. Just click here. There will still be a learning and a setup curve, but at least 90% of the work is done.
Rose: And I think that’s a massive thing because not many people want to spend all that time setting it up. And you’ve obviously put so much work into it. So I think that’s, I’m, I’m definitely gonna pop that in the show notes as well thank you. If anyone’s interested in Notion, I highly recommend checking this out.
Jenny: I was just gonna say like, I even wanted the book to serve as a shortcut where I wanted business owners to be able to hand it to new team members and say, here, this is how we work. So almost like, you know, obviously we’re all different, but a universal manager manual that instead of having to train everybody from scratch and all of us repeating ourselves, what if there was a guide that, cuz I figure business owners may read free time and think, oh, I know all this stuff.
I’ve been doing that for years. like, maybe some of it was too obvious, but for team members, it’s hard to give a team member a very detailed operational efficiency book and expect them to get excited about it. So it was also secretly in the back of my mind. Yes, I want business owners to be inspired, but I also wanna just save them time and trouble of here.
Just give this to new team members and they’ll already have a running head start in terms of how to work with you in a really efficient way to save everybody.
Rose: It’s such a good idea, and I know that you talk a lot about delightfully tiny team, and I know myself, I set up SOPs in my business for people I, I outsourced to, but you have a different take on it with your manager manual, don’t you, and Notion.
Jenny: I wonder, I’ve never heard it called SOPs. I love that. I, I wish I had thought of that sooner. It’s so much more fun than SOPs. Yeah, I wonder, tell me more of what you think might be a different take because that will help me with where to go.
Rose: I think the way, the way that you call it delightfully tiny team for one in that you ensure that no one works more than say, is it 10 hours or five hours a week, including yourself.
Jenny: Yeah, that part varies. Lately I’ve been doing about 20 hours, and that I find is a good spot for me, sometimes 10. So for me, my week range is 10 to 20. And then in the past, like I said, it’s been over a decade now.
I never needed any one team member to work more than five or 10 hours a week, and that’s why at least the type of business I have for some businesses, it wouldn’t work this way. But I never really wanted full-time employees because I don’t, I don’t wanna work 40 hours a week. I don’t wanna expect them to.
And I also didn’t want to, create an incentive based around time and quantity of time. I would rather it be around the work and just doing meaningful work in actually less time. So whatever I was delegating, yeah, really never, never was all consuming for people. Because I also feel like the mower that we can automate through software and technology.
It actually takes a lot of the more routine day-to-day repeatable tasks off people’s plates so they can do the work that they love, that they find more interesting. And the whole idea, at least my take on the manager manual, I call it the Fiji test, which is, or fill in wherever you would wanna go, travel or vacation.
Because I didn’t wanna keep asking, what if we get hit by a bus? I realized very early on in my business that I kept asking, what if I get hit by a bus? And I’m like, I just don’t wanna repeat this question and attract this energy over the next 10 years. Imagine how many times we’d be visualizing getting hit by a bus.
So instead it’s what, if any one of us on the team got whisked to Fiji for three weeks with no devices and no ability to give notice. Could someone else on the team step in and do the work and. The mindset that I teach my team members behind SOPs or SOPs, it’s because if you just tell them, please document everything, okay, they might, but it’s easy for things to fall off and things to get out of date.
And it still happens even in my business. But meanwhile, if they’re always thinking of the Fiji test, the Fiji test, and then when Covid hit, I mean, sometimes people were getting sick and they were out for three weeks or three months, and. It’s never a bad thing to be prepared that at any moment could even, not just someone else on the team step in and do the work.
Could a stranger to the business step in, read the process docs or the manager manual and know what to do? And that’s happened to me many times. Just today, I had a team member say, I’m so sorry. I’m sick today. I’m out. And I don’t wanna feel lost in the business. I don’t need to know everything in my own mind, but I wanna be able to search within our business dashboard.
What to do if there’s something I wanna step in and take care of.
Rose: Brilliant Thank you for sharing that. And yeah, I think I’d much rather go to Fiji than be hit by a bus.
Jenny: Right , like whatever question is motivating, but getting hit by a bus as a thought exercise for business systems is just terrible.
Rose: I would love to ask you, Jenny, how you find your guests, because you always have the most wonderful guests on your podcast.
And in fact, one of them recently I had to share with you Yaro Stark. I saw him at a conference in Melbourne back in 2010, and when I heard him on your podcast, I was blown away. I just thought That’s amazing. So yeah. Can you share with us a little bit how you find all the wonderful guests that you have on both of your podcasts?
Jenny: Sure. Well, that’s so cool that you, you kind of crossed your path and your radar a decade ago, and then plus then it comes back around. Probably very similar to you, rose cuz right back at you. I love seeing and hearing from the guests on your show and the topics that you cover. I just resonate so much so right back at you and I think you and I both share probably following our intuition about.
Who’s interesting or exciting book we read and loved, just like what brought us here? Or like you said, hearing me on another podcast. So I’ll do that if I hear a guest on another show and I’m looking for not just their ideas but their energy. So on my show, just like a brand can have a logo and different color scheme, a visual voice.
I also do look for guests who are willing to be open or vulnerable or, or joyful in their work. Like if I hear somebody on another show in their deadpan, there’s not a single smile in their voice the whole time. I usually pass to have them on the show, and every now and then a guest pitch will work. I usually look, I like to have authors on because authors usually have sat with their ideas for so long that they have a lot to say and they’re very articulate about.
Kind of how they think about things. So I’ve, I really appreciate that. Sometimes I’ll get guest pitches. I mean, I will sometimes get more than five a day that come in through pivot and free time. Every now and then it works. But what I’ve learned over the years is that usually when I’m reactively responding to a pitch, unless it’s for a book coming out, that I think looks fantastic.
Those aren’t those interviews. They’re, they don’t have energy to them. It’s like something about it. I didn’t pick it intuitively and therefore, , it’s really up in the air on the day of whether we’re gonna connect, resonate, whether the energy will be good. And so I’ve had to give myself permission to pause.
If there ever is a time where I, I start not looking forward to interviews that week. I’m unmoved. I’m not like jumping outta my chair with excitement like I was coming to this conversation. Something’s wrong and that lets me know I need to pause and really look at. In the next phase of conversations that I think, you know, I would be interested in, and that’s in service to listeners as well.
Rose: Brilliant. Such good advice. I, I love all of that. And yes, I can’t, I actually can’t believe how quickly this has gone. I could just talk to you forever, Jenny, but I’ve got one, one more question to ask you before I let you go today. When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?
Jenny: That’s a good one. For starters, I try to do less, and that’s been a practice for many years now of simplifying and doing less, and I feel that when I get overwhelmed, it’s a sign usually that I’m. I’m just doing too much, too many things. My focus is too spread out. So there’s an episode on my show we can link to it of why I’m not on social media and, I’m laughing because we talk about this a lot, in BFF and other places.
That’s my private community. But, I’m a curmudgeon about social media. The main reason is that I find it overwhelming and distracting and draining, and so I try to be an observer that when those feelings of overwhelm come up, if I can get past blaming myself, like, what’s wrong with you? What do you mean you only did 10 emails in today’s sprint, like you should have done 50?
Like when I just can’t move past that narrative, I just say, well then that’s okay. That’s what I could do today. The reason it was only 10 is because I spent great quality time with my dog and I read in the morning and I did a yoga class, and there are reasons that I don’t. Do all the things on the work front, and so I just try to remind myself of that and then I try to, on a structural level, do less, commit to less say no and so on, and, and really try to leave more spaciousness in my schedule because that’s what I find most joyful.
I can’t stand, like you said, that overwhelm the feeling of just being crammed and overly packed with time.
Rose: Oh, I love that advice. Thank you, Jenny, and thank you so, so much for being on the show, and it’s been absolutely wonderful talking with you today.
Jenny: Likewise. Well, thank you so much, Rose, for having me.
I love what you’re creating with your podcast and it really is a testament to just the power of podcasting, even when your audience is delightfully tiny.
Rose: And I’m gonna pop all of your links where people can find you. If anyone resonates with this, I’m sure many will, then I really recommend you have a look at Jenny’s book and definitely subscribe to her Free Time and Pivot podcasts.
And she’s also got a wonderful community BFF, which I’ll pop the link to as well. So thank you again, Jenny, and thanks everyone for listening today.
Jenny: Thank you, Rose. Thank you everybody for listening.