Ep. #1082 - The Keys to Building A Relationship with Your Audience
In today’s episode of Startup Hustle, you can get the keys to building a relationship with your audience from the pros. Lauren Conaway welcomes Lisa Laporte‘s insights. The CEO of TWiT TV is excited to tackle the value of content, audio, and hosts to connect with your audience.
Covered In This Episode
Create a space that people want to interact with. How can you do that? And what are the keys to building a relationship with your audience?
Join Lauren and Lisa as they dive into the nitty gritty of it all. Moreover, they discuss the quality standard for your content and audio to achieve your goals. And the things that entrepreneurs should know before creating a podcast.
It’s a session you don’t want to miss! Listen to this Startup Hustle episode now.
- Lisa’s journey from corporate controller to entrepreneur (02:29)
- Is it true that the backbone of a business is the accountant? (05:45)
- Stumbling upon TWiT TV (08:24)
- What is TWiT TV? (10:56)
- How to connect with your audience and ask them questions (14:24)
- Things that podcasters should know about audience engagement (20:34)
- Putting together a show that connects with people (22:43)
- Building trust with your audience (25:19)
- Building an organization built on the values that you believe in (33:44)
- The vision board for Twit TV’s future (35:22)
- Lisa’s advice to founders who want to launch podcasts (38:24)
You just can’t be afraid to try things. And I’ve never been afraid . . . So I think people need to be curious. They need to always be learning.– Lisa Laporte
I believe you’ve got to pay attention to the content. And, for anyone out there that is considering a podcast, audio is king. If it doesn’t sound good, stop, reset, and make sure it sounds really good.– Lisa Laporte
Being able to admit your own failures or being able to get vulnerable with your eyes and just say, hey, we’re not perfect. We’re not a monolith. We’re not the end-all-be-all of everything.– Lauren Conaway
What’s the first step to creating a great product? Build a software development team quickly and affordably at Full Scale. Gain access to highly qualified developers, testers, and leaders who only work on your project. Use the proprietary platform to define your needs in just two minutes.
Now, you should also check out the services of our Startup Hustle partners. They can help your business succeed.
Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!
Lauren Conaway 00:01
And we’re back. Thank you for joining us for yet another episode of the Startup Hustle podcast. I’m your host, Lauren Conaway, founder and CEO of InnovateHER KC. And, of course, I have to tell you about today’s episode sponsor. Today’s episode of Startup Hustle is powered by FullScale.io. Hiring software developers is difficult, but Full Scale can help you build a software team quickly and affordably. And they have the platform to help you manage that team. Visit FullScale.io to learn more. All right, friends. So this guest is going to talk about a lot of things, I imagine because she wears many hats and she has a lot of skills. And she has a really, really interesting background. Our guest today, her professional career spans over three years as a corporate controller, CFO, consultant, and co-founder. She’s worked in all kinds of businesses, and she has a love of startups. And I’m really, really excited today to welcome to the show Lisa Laporte, CEO of Twitch TV. Lisa, thanks so much for joining us.
Lisa Laporte 01:02
Well, I appreciate you having me on your show. For sure.
Lauren Conaway 01:04
This is gonna be a good one. I love it when you get people who are like double, triple, quintuple, six triple threats in the business world. Because that means that we get to have a really, really good conversation, right?
Lisa Laporte 01:16
Absolutely. And I have never wanted to be bored. And I tend to leave companies when they get too large because I’m gonna shove you in a box, and I don’t want to be in a box. I want to be able to do whatever I’m inspired to do.
Lauren Conaway 01:29
Oh, I love that. I want to give it up like I’m giving an air hug right now. You can’t; y’all can’t see me. But Lisa, I’m giving her an air hug because I’m like, yes, that sounds wonderful. And let’s not be bored. Let’s do different things. And let’s not be in a box. But I want to hear more about that. Lisa, so I’m going to ask you the first question. Tell us about your journey.
Lisa Laporte 01:49
Well, my journey started pretty young. I started running companies around 18. And then, I became a corporate controller by 33. And I really wanted to be that. That was my big goal when I was younger. And I wanted to reach that by 35. So I acquired that goal at 33. And then, after working at a startup, because it was a startup that I joined, there were about eight people and a couple of entities. And then we had 10. I have 10 years at this company. And I had three different roles with this company. So I was able to watch a startup from eight or nine people go to 234. People were overseeing 500-600 entities. It was a real estate developer, so not only did they build, they were buying and selling things along those lines. And we had apartments and, you know, commercial buildings, etc. And I just realized that you know, I really enjoyed working there. I was able to have a bunch of different, you know, roles there. But then, I just realized, if I’m going to work this hard, I’m gonna work this hard for myself and not for somebody else. So I left my company, I left the corporate world making six figures partnership in, you know, partnership equity. Left it all on the table and walked away with a 150, and said, I’m going to become a consultant. I’m going to be a micro CFO. The CEO was right when the dot-com crashed. Everybody was scrambling and firing people. I walked away from my job and started my own business, probably one of the worst possible times you could do it. And I started consulting for a bunch of different businesses. And within two years, I had the CFO title at three companies. I work as a bookkeeper. So I would do pretty much anything from do you need to restructure to just need to downsize? Or do you need to pivot and do something new? So it was really fun. I’m fearless. I’m not afraid of anything. I work in a man’s world, which is interesting. I know you’re supporting women, which is something I tend to do. I try to mentor back to other sea levels if I can help promote them. And then I stumbled upon twit.tv, which was B. It was originally founded by Leo Laporte. He is my partner. And now my husband. And he had been running this for a couple of years. And he said he really wanted to grow this network. So I joined him. And we really set this network on the map. And I’ve been doing this now for 15 years, which shows you how interesting it is because I have to be doing other things. So I can’t just be doing one thing. So it’s been quite a journey to go from this podcast network where nobody knew what a podcast was to now. We’re in this crowded space, and everybody and everyone has a podcast. So it’s been really interesting in a fun career.
Lauren Conaway 04:26
It’s true. I’m kind of giggling in my head as you’re talking to the other podcast host about all of the podcasts that are out there. And like I know, I know, there’s so many. But so I want to take it back for just a minute because you’ve said a lot of interesting things when you were talking about kind of how you came up. And I find I love it when women are dynamic. You know they have so many different skills. But above all, what’s coming through for me is that you’re a problem solver. You like solving problems for people on their behalf with people To help make their companies better. And so I’m curious, where do you think that came from?
Lisa Laporte 05:05
I was on my own at a very young age and started to have to take over household chores. And you know, I also didn’t grow up with any money. So if I wanted money, I started working at 10. So between helping around the house and taking over babysitting, I acquired my first paper route at 12. And I was working full-time at 16. So no one paid for me to go to college, I had three jobs going through college, it was a constant, you know, if I wanted something, I had to work for it. So one thing I was really blessed with was intellect. And I really had a craving to know math and science. So those were the two subjects in school that I fell in love with. So I fell in love with finance and accounting, which is an awkward thing to say out loud. I don’t really know too many people that say they love it. I actually love numbers and finance and accounting. So that’s where I started. And what most people don’t realize is that’s the backbone of a business. I think too many people have treated accountants and finance like the redheaded stepchild. Oh, my gosh, it’s a necessary evil. And companies really need to look at that, as they’re really a partner with you, to save you money to help you, you know, launch new products and services. And if you treat people like me in that specific way, you’re not going to have very strong people on your team. So I’m able to also sell. I’m our number one salesperson, so I’m able to tap into both sides of my brain. And you’re right. I love that you found out that I’m a problem solver. That’s something that I like to do. There’s a problem, or there’s an issue, or we don’t even know what the problem is. I’m willing to explore. I’m extremely resourceful. I tap into everybody, and maybe the 20-year-old on my team that knows something or the six-year-old on my team. If you want to be a lifelong learner, I feel like continuing to do stuff like this. But you just can’t be afraid to try things. And I’ve never been afraid. And since I can’t operate both sides of my brain. I’m like the person with my hands up going, Oh, I’ll try that. I’ll try that. So I think people need to be curious. They need to always be learning. Just don’t go to college and get a degree. And think that’s it. You have to be reading, you have to be learning, you have to participate in this world and continue to grow. And never think that you know everything. The older I get, the more I realize how little I really know.
Lauren Conaway 07:20
Yeah, well, so I’m interested to hear how you’ve been able to apply your problem-solving brain. You sound like you’re not just an innovator. You’re a disrupter. And so I’m really curious to hear how that has affected TWiT TV and the journey of your company. But first things first, how did you come to TWiT TV to talk to us a little bit about that?
Lisa Laporte 07:44
Well, that was when I was consulting. I had stumbled upon TWiT TV. At first, I thought it was a joke. So I’m like, What’s a twit? You know, I didn’t really think about it.
Lauren Conaway 07:54
Because there is like a meaning that’s attached to the word that kind of hits you in the face with it. But yeah, let’s hear more.
Lisa Laporte 08:02
So it does hit you in the face. Because the first thing I said was what is it, twit? Are you? I thought my CPA was kidding. So I don’t have a network of CPAs that I was working with that would call me and go, Oh my gosh, Lisa, you have to go in and help this business? Well, this was one of those businesses where a CPA called me and said, You got to help these guys out. I’m like, what is it? So it means this week in tech, Leo Laporte, who founded it, has a sense of humor. And in business, nobody knows what it means. But if you go talk to your sysadmin, and your CTO, they all know who you are. We cater to tech knowledge enthusiasts. We cater to those working in tech 88% of our audience works in tech, or they’re affiliated somehow in it, or they’re just a, you know, a geek or a fan. This is what we do. So it took me a little while to get my head around it. And so when I stepped in, it was just a handful of people. And they weren’t doing any of their bookkeeping correctly. And he didn’t really understand the magnitude of what I could do. I went in there and went, Okay, you need bookkeeping help. I took this giant pile of paperwork, dumped it on the bookkeeper’s desk, worked with me, and said, Okay, this is how I want you to clean it up. So I would look at everything that they had and go into what needs to happen in doing it. So after I started working a little bit more, I’m like, this is really interesting. Podcasting was brand new at the time. It’s not like anybody even knew what it meant. So it was like, Oh, this is new media. And I just saw the potential, like wow, we could do so many things with this. This is a medium that, you know, doesn’t have to go through federal regulations while outside of like the FTC for, you know, the ad reads, but it just seems really interesting and new and cutting edge. And I started working a little bit more so I struggled with my business and Twitch tv for about two years. And then I jumped in when you know Laos I really want to grow and I said you don’t ask me to come in full time. If you’re not serious. I am only here because I have to make things grow. I just do not think I’m not happy. Yeah, and that’s how it all started.
Lauren Conaway 10:01
Amazing. Well, that’s quite a journey. Talk to us about TWiT TV. So you’ve talked to us a little bit about your listeners, your watchers, your audience, right. Talk to us about your content. What are some of the conversations that are happening on TWiT TV?
Lisa Laporte 10:16
So our content is we have 15 technology shows, some are long format, some are 15 minutes, it just depends on, you know what, which show you’re looking at. So we are all about Super serving our audience. All of our hosts that are on our network are extremely tech savvy. They’re researching it all the time. We’re booking guests that are experts in technology. And it is our entire goal with our 15 shows to be delivering to the audience knowledge and expertise that they know they need to make better decisions in tech in their lives. So we have an enterprise show that’s covering all the enterprise technology, very niche, very specific for people that are really curious into a deeper dive into what’s out there. How do we solve things? What are the solutions out there other than our biggest show, which is our network name this week in tech? It is two and a half, three hours long, and it has over 140,000 downloads each week. That show covers all the big stories that happen during the week, and brings in all the technology journalists that can speak to it, and talk about what’s going on. And then we have our shows that are focused on specific tech, you know, spaces like Windows weekly security now, not too hard to understand what our shows are about based on the name. So it’s something we learned about a long time ago. So we cover iOS, Android, you name it, we have a show for you, if you are interested in tech, or even like a little round tech. So we’ve launched a show called This Week in space. We have two editors in chief on our network. And we’re now adding video to that show. We launched that a couple of years ago, because people are very interested in all the technology going into space. We also have photography shows for you know, the expert or the enthusiast, because we all have camera phones. And guess what? That’s almost everybody’s camera these days. Yeah. So we are really here to super serve an audience that we feel is overlooked in a lot of the general population. I mean, you know, a long time ago, it’s like, oh, a geek, but now everyone’s like, where are they? You know, I think everybody’s becoming a technology enthusiast. Because as we continue to pivot and grow in technology, it’s coming into our everyday lives inescapable.
Lauren Conaway 12:23
I mean, we think about how technology has unfolded itself and entrenched itself in our lives. And I mean, imagine a world where we didn’t have easy access to information and to digital products, and to, you know, this this whole revolution, that we seem to be very much you know, it for as far as I can see, it’s just the beginning, you know, now, perceptions about AI, that touch the public consciousness, you know, I had a fascinating conversation on here on Startup Hustle with Summa Ontonagon to you with personal.ai, where we were talking about the morality and the ethics of AI. And it’s like, these are still questions that we’re having, because we’re kind of, we’re at the precipice, like we’re right at the beginning of this technological revolution. And I know, it feels like we’ve been in it for a while. But I mean, it’s really only just beginning, we’re, I think AI is taking over two, I know, that’s probably we’re looking at doing a show around AI because for us, what we want to do is continue to add to our network that our audience is curious about.
Lisa Laporte 13:19
So we do a survey every year, and we get over 10,000 responses, no one gets that for a podcast network to opt in, we want to know what they want to know about. It’s also where we get our data.
Lauren Conaway 13:44
What are we going to ask you to do, like, talk to us a little bit. So I was gonna add, I swear to God, this is in my notebook to ask you. But I was gonna ask you to talk to us about that market research component. Because one of the things that TWiT TV has done really, really well as you’ve stayed abreast and you’ve stayed knowledgeable about a very wide array like technology is a huge subject, umbrella. And there are all kinds of verticals and things that you can dig down into. So I’m really curious about that. That audience piece because you speak to your audiences very well. You meet them at their level, you talk to them about topics that they’re interested in. And that seems to be kind of the cornerstone of your strategy, but talk to us about how you came to connect with your audiences and ask them those questions.
Lisa Laporte 14:30
That’s a brilliant question. Because I think people are when people start a podcast, at least I’ve had the experience of talking to people, they’re like, I’m gonna make a lot of money. And I’m just like that, whoa. Hold on, step back. You shouldn’t be doing a podcast to make a lot of money. You should be doing a podcast because you are an expert in something and you have something to tell people are okay, maybe you’re funny and you’re a storyteller. I’m not saying you can’t have those podcasts. But in our case, we are here to super serve our audience. how we connect with our audiences, we have a chat room. So we do all of our shows live to tape, except for a couple of shows that are very heavily edited and formatted. So we don’t do it behind the scenes, but the bulk of our shows are done live to tape. So our audience can watch the show there in the chat room that our hosts can see, too. Sometimes the host will acknowledge them or after the show be talking to them, or before the show be talking to the audience. So we engage with our audience and, and that’s podcasting, you engage with your audience on a whole different level that you wouldn’t do on radio or TV. So we have this chat room of committed fans that are in there. And then when the pandemic hit, it was my idea to go, oh, wow, we lost 60% of our advertisers in two weeks, because who wants to buy a camera travel bag when you’re not going anywhere. So I actually started a club, which took our community to a whole new level. So we have an ad free club, for those fans who don’t want to be tracked that one privacy and want to be more engaged, because we now have a discord channel for these fans. So our hosts participate in it, we have channels for all of our shows, we have a channel for things like games, or space or anything people are interested in. So we created a community in a time where people were locked up, where people could come and hang out with like minded people. And that’s continuing to grow still, because there’s a lot of people that are introverted, that are into tech. And this gives them that platform to hang out with other people that they love. So in addition to that, we don’t treat our audience like they’re just an audience, we treat them as if they’re intelligent, and we do meetups, and we used to be open to the public until a pandemic, and we’re trying to figure out how we can accomplish that again later, as things open up more and more right now. It’s too soon still, we have compromised immune systems for some of our staff. So we’re still closed. But we missed that interaction of allowing people to come in and book and see our shows. So for us, that’s how you build relationships with your audience. They, you know, they write into us, they send us their questions, we acknowledge their questions on some of our shows, and it’s just really about, we pay attention to them, we always you know, and that’s where I told you we came up with, we do an annual survey, it was open for four weeks in January, over 10,000 responses.
Lauren Conaway 17:19
This is where we get information to anybody that would be a statistically significant sample is what we call that.
Lisa Laporte 17:25
I know people like oh, wait, you get 200 people. And I’m like, No, it’s 10,000. And like, that’s a really difficult thing to do to have that level of engagement.
Lauren Conaway 17:32
And it sounds like you have baked in engagement at every level of the business, you send out the surveys, you engage while on the show, you create additional content that acts as touch points for your listeners. And so right, so your audience is not passive, your audience is highly engaged. Yes, that engagement is, I think, where that relationship kind of starts, right? First, you have to get them to care. And then you can have a conversation, you know, right, you don’t want to have a conversation with people who don’t care, because they’re not going to come up with any kind of good feedback. You don’t want to have a conversation with people who aren’t engaged. And so I love that piece of your business model. And I’m going to tell you, I have to tell you, Lisa, there is another company out there that is really, really good at engagement. I don’t know if you’ve heard of them, but they’re Full Scale. Finding expert software developers doesn’t have to be difficult, especially when you visit FullScale.io where you can build a software team quickly and affordably. Use the Full Scale platform to define your technical needs, and then see what available developers, testers and leaders are ready to join your team. Visit FullScale.io to learn more. And I’m going to tell you, this is not anything that they have asked me to say but I’m just going to say it like Full Scale. I have never seen clients that are so highly engaged with a software development company. It’s so odd to watch. It’s really cool. But Full Scale. They do a really really great job of not just talking at their customers but actually talking with their customers and so definitely check them out FullScale.io Friends, we are here with Lisa Laporte and Lisa is talking to us about TWiT TV, which that name still makes me giggle. I’m not gonna lie. But I do love the fact that you have like commandeered hijacks the meaning and turn it into something really cool this week in technology. Talk to us about what we’ve been talking about in audience engagement. And I’m really interested because again, you’ve done so many things remarkably well. You don’t build a podcast to millions and with listenership without doing some things really, really well. But to me, audience engagement seems to be number one with a bullet. What are some of the other things that you have done well that you wish other podcasters knew about the content too.
Lisa Laporte 19:54
I mean, you have over the years been pulling our survey. You know, with our audience, we’ve discovered that content and hosts are the number one reasons why people will continue listening to a podcast. Over the years with podcasts exploding, I would say over the last five years, content has now surpassed our hosts in what our audience wants to hear about. So I believe you’ve got to pay attention to the content. And anyone out there that is considering a podcast, audio is king. If it doesn’t sound good, stop, reset, make sure it sounds really good. But really, it’s bringing and delivering the content and bringing the experts on our network that they want to hear from these experts, they want to hear from our hosts. And we’re constantly looking at the content and making sure that we’re delivering the right information to our audiences, for sure.
Lauren Conaway 20:48
Well, and so for, for our friends at home, or listeners who might already have a podcast might be considering starting one, I do just want to kind of like, highlight honor, and acknowledge that audio is King thing that is actually something that Lisa and I were talking before happening on, it doesn’t take a huge financial investment to get decent equipment, like a microphone, you know, whatever it takes to create a good environment to record in, but definitely invest some time and some energy in that and know that you might not get it right in the first time. But that audio piece is hugely important. Now, the piece that really resonated with me, though, was that content piece, and so I, I can’t express it, there are millions of podcasts out there, it feels like and yet people keep on coming back to yours, because you put out good quality content. And you’ve talked about the fact that you engage your audience that you ask them what they want to hear about. But talk to us a little bit about putting together an engaging show, you know, it starts with the host, maybe maybe I don’t know, it starts with the content, and the host and the audio, all the things. But talk to us about how you put together an engaging show that people really want to listen to and interact with.
Lisa Laporte 22:03
Typically, it starts with having plenty of content we want to do. So we know other things that we want to start adding and in and putting onto our network. So that’s something we identify, and then we go out, we start looking for the hosts. So a really good example is when we launched this week in space, you know, we had the editor- in-chief at Ad Astra on our radio show, and we kept going. Gosh, we really want to do something around this topic. So we talked with him. And then we also talked with the editor in firstname.lastname@example.org. Tarik Malik, who’s also on this show, we launched. And we figured, you know, this is the right blend of chemistry, we’re going to put this in our club, because now we have a club. And we’re gonna workshop it there and see how it goes. So we now have the ability in our club, to workshop a few shows to see if we have the right people? Is this the right content? And the biggest thing is Canvas sustains 52 weeks a year, because you want to make sure that the content is something that’s going to be people want to listen to, over and over again. So we typically only launch weekly podcasts we’ve dabbled with daily, I think there’s a place for daily and things along those lines. But we found our sweet spot is with weekly. So we really pay attention to that. So for us, it’s a combination of do we have the right host? And is this the content we want to do? And is this a show that can sustain 52 weeks a year, those three things have to be in play for us. Another thing we do too, is 99% of our audience listens to all or most of our podcasts, most of our podcasts are at 86%. They do this because they like the hosts, we also only bring on advertisements that our host reads and that can super serve our audience. So aren’t we don’t lose our audience at the end of our shows, or during that raid. Because like you were engaging them with a host read ad, which is proven to be even better, and our audiences like stuff that you’re always bringing us these ads, and we want to buy stuff because you know you pay attention to so so then you’re like, I can’t stop it.
Lauren Conaway 24:08
It’s part of our revenue model.
Lisa Laporte 24:14
Really, we take our time. And so if we can workshop a show, sometimes we go, you know what we workshop, the show, it didn’t work, we couldn’t build an audience, or we workshop a show. And we have a different benchmark on that. Most people are happy with three to 4000 downloads, we have to hit 10 for us to even consider it to be somewhat successful. And then it’s very niche. That’s all it may be. But typically for success for us. We’re at 25 to 30,000 downloads per episode.
Lauren Conaway 24:39
Yeah. Well, you said there are a lot of gems in there. And I found a through line and I’m going to tell you about my through line. We can talk about the fact that people actually want to buy the products that you and you get the products that you put on and read for your shows. You talked about, you know, working with the hosts to come up with the most engaging part of the Question. And the through line of all of those things that you just mentioned. And there were a few more, the third line is trust, you have built up trust with your community to the point where if you recommend something, people are going to take that seriously. And you have built up trust to the point where your listeners come back to you time and time again, because even though they know that even though they’re very busy, when they come to your show, they’re gonna find content that is relatable, accessible, informative, and engaging. And so you’ve, you’ve cultivated trust with your audience. And I want to talk to you about what that means, for TWiT TV, what does that trust look like? And what are some ways that maybe our listeners at home could engage? You know, they might not all have podcast audiences. In fact, probably most of them don’t. But what are some ways that you can engage and build trust with your audience, whether that’s clients, whether that’s friends, whether that’s listeners, what does that look like to you?
Lisa Laporte 26:00
Well, it begins with A being open and honest and transparent with them. And, you know, our hosts will go into all the research, and then they do a show, and they’ll, they’ll give you their insights on technology and how to use it and things like that. And they’re experts, and they’re gonna, you know, they give you the pros and cons of everything. So they won’t just sit there and go, Oh, yeah, the iPhones. The only thing that we recommend, they’ll be like, Oh, the iPhone does this. And Samsung does this. So we don’t treat, we treat our audiences if they’re intelligent, and we’re always transparent with them. And you know, that has bitten in the rear end a few times. For instance, when we’ve, you know, we had a sponsor on our network that went away three years ago, and now their company has fallen apart, and they have reached trust, we have audience members that are mad at us that that trust is now breached, because that their service is no longer valid. And we’ve had to go to them and say, you know, we’re really sorry, they haven’t been with us in three years, we didn’t know they were gonna go sideways. And so we acknowledge that, and we’re willing to admit, when, you know, something didn’t work out down the road, or we gave the wrong impression on something. So I think being transparent and being honest, and even when you make a mistake, being honest about it, it’s continued to build trust, plus the engagement, they like to talk to us, they want to hear from our hosts. And we’re fun, believe it or not, for Tech Network, our hosts are entertaining, you know, they have a sense of humor. So I believe all of those pieces coming to play work, but really treating your audience with respect, and that they’re intelligent.
Lauren Conaway 27:32
Yeah, really, the biggest thing I would do well, and I do just want to wait, you said something that really resonated with me, because you know that trust piece, that authenticity piece, and in particular, a certain vulnerability, I think, like being able to admit that you’ve made a mistake. I’ve experienced that with InnovateHER KC, you know, we’ve definitely messed up in the past like it. I mean, there are many, many situations, and I’ll tell you over a cocktail sometime, but I definitely need some liquid courage to tell the full story. But you know, we’ve had situations where we’ve had to kind of own our ass and be just like, hey, you know, we screwed up, this is how we screwed up. This is how we’re going to rectify the situation, we are deeply sorry, you know, and that’s one of those things that you can use to build a relationship, you know, being able to admit your own failures, or being able to, to get vulnerable with your eyes and just say, Hey, we’re not perfect, we’re not a monolith. We’re not the end all be all of everything, what we are, is a source that you’re in trust, because even when we screw up, we’re going to tell you about it, we’re not going to try to brush it under the rug. So I really love that because I think that that is such an integral piece to building not just a podcast, but building a brand. You want your brand to ultimately be trusted. And so I think that that’s a really powerful thing. You know, I used to work in customer service. And when I was training my agents, one of the things we would always have to deal with, you know, the angry customer and I, the strategy that I would always employ was apologize, empathize, strategize. I’m so sorry, I understand how frustrating it must be. And this is why you’re frustrated. This is what we’re going to do to make it better and make sure it never happens again. And so I love that you mentioned that because that’s a key part of that trust piece. And in another kind of overarching theme of what you’re talking about is psychological safety. Your listeners feel comfortable giving you feedback coming to you and saying we are unhappy, or maybe we’re extremely happy. But we’d love to see this as a piece of content. And so I want to know, I’m very curious. You have a TWiT TV team, you have a family of hosts, you have yourself and your husband. I’d really like to know what the psychological safety map looks like organizationally for TWiT TV with your team?
Lisa Laporte 29:52
Well, it’s been an interesting couple of years. We unfortunately had to do some layoffs when the pandemic first hit. It’s just me. It was real. Yeah, yeah. But you know, we’re a small team, we’re 20 People that are employees here. And so we were larger, you know, at the pan at the beginning of the pandemic. And I was really hoping to, we’ve done layoffs before. We’re the media. I mean, everyone’s doing it right now. So everyone’s used to that. But for me, I really wanted to create an environment here that I didn’t have in the corporate world. So we do our best to make sure we treat all of our employees as if they’re a family, we pivoted to a four day workweek on January 1 2021, we went to 40 hours a week, five days a week to four nines, there was no cut and pay, everyone’s getting an extra day off and saving 200, I think eight hours a year. Without, you know, any changes to their pay, they also give our employees plenty of vacation time, everyone gets four weeks a year, they earn it over time, everyone gets sick time. So we do a lot of things for employees, we treat them with a tremendous amount of respect. Everybody, you know, wears a couple of different hats. So for me, I know what everyone’s doing from my production assistant, through my top engineer, and we have about 30 independent contractors that we work with, because all of our outside hosts are not their journalists, so they’re not full time employees with us. So they’re paid with a stipend. So for me, I’m pretty honest and transparent with my team when things are hard. You know, they know, hey, look, we’re struggling, this is what we’re doing to get there. So I guess that could shake some teams. But for me, if it shakes people, it shakes them, I just don’t want to pull the rug out from under people. And, and with no explanation. So I’m pretty. I’m hands on, I don’t ask my employees to do anything here that I wouldn’t do. And we really treat our team with a ton of respect. And we have really good benefits and things along those lines. So that’s what I do as an employer. And as the leader on this team is trying to keep everything together in that magnitude and just sharing knowledge and keeping that transparency open with our staff as well.
Lauren Conaway 32:04
Yeah. Well, so I gotta tell you, I asked that question for a reason. And I just want to, again, honor and acknowledge to our listeners the fact that the best organizations, they win, they pick the values by which they live, they live them publicly, but then they also live them privately internally with teams and then externally with audiences. And I feel like TWiT TV is a company that has kind of figured out that secret sauce like you. You value authenticity, you value feedback, you value the people that work for you, and that listen to you. And the way that you prove that is by attaching action to those values, asking for feedback, creating a culture of trust with your team. And so that’s really cool. And I am going to ask you, this is a dumb question. But I just I really, I really want to know, like, how does that feel, knowing that you have built an organization that’s built on values that you believe in?
Lisa Laporte 33:04
It feels fantastic, I have to say I’ve worked with plenty of organizations that you would work for, no offense like a dog, and there was no value to you, you’re just a cog in a wheel. And to me, this is the environment that I always wanted to be in. So I’m hoping that they feel as good as I do. I tried to do my best and my nickname has been wiziwig. And if you don’t know what that means, it means What You See Is What You Get since I was 20. And I still apply that today. So who you see here at work is the same person that walks out the door and goes home at night.
Lauren Conaway 33:39
So I say, well, there’s this concept out there called behavioral flexibility at play it essentially it states that all right, if you are if you are behaviorally comfortable here, are you able to be behaviorally flexible, and act in ways that are at odds with your natural sense of being and the fact is, if you cultivate the right environment and the right engagement, you don’t have to worry about meeting behaviorally flexible, you can just show up to work as you are and it’s a really powerful feeling. I would highly recommend it, especially to all you founders out there. You can create that environment. In fact, it’s your job to do that. So go out and do that. That’s super fun for me. Yeah, what is so, what does the future look like for TWiT TV? You have? You already have so much market share. You’re doing such amazing, amazing work, but you’re a visionary. And I know that you have I know it just by the little that I know about you at this point. Lisa, I know that you have a vision. Talk to us about it.
Lisa Laporte 34:42
Well, you know, it’s interesting, I think our vision has pivoted quite a bit over these, you know, 17 years that we’ve been around. And I encourage people to not be afraid to pivot, fail fast. If something’s not working, walk away from it, try something new. You’ve got to be willing to try things so my vision moving forward is we really found that our club is working very well, people really liked it, they liked the community, they liked the ad free content, we’re not charging very much for it. So we’re gonna continue to add Club exclusive shows for that audience. But we never want to alienate our ad supported side, because that’s really still our bread and butter. And we want to be democratic, because we don’t want to be that you’re behind a paywall for everyone, we want people, if they can download us, they can. And if they can listen to our content, and if it helps them, then great, we want that too. So I see us growing both our club and our ad supported content, and we’re going to be pretty equal to both, that’s going to be something we’re going to do in the future. I’m also looking at getting back to going to live events, you know, if I can find a sponsor around that, to support that, then we want to be more at live events, because you can do things now with a cell phone versus a full camera and team. So we used to go out to events. So that would probably be the direction we’re gonna go, at least for this year. But I’m always looking to see what else is out there. How else can we pivot? What else should we be doing? So I want to be multi dimensional, beyond every platform that we could possibly be on, as well as adding some shorter format content on things that are cropping up. So it’s a combination of oh, we have these in mind. But with technology ever changing, something might come up in three months. And we’re going to be like, Oh, we want to try that. Let’s take a look at that. So I’m always curious, I have ideas. We have our game plan for this year. But I can guarantee you will probably pivot from that game plan about six or seven times. And that’s just, and that’s just the
Lauren Conaway 36:35
entrepreneurial way, honestly, like, yeah, that’s going on.
Lisa Laporte 36:40
Yeah, so keep an open mind, keep an open mind.
Lauren Conaway 36:45
Well, I have to tell you that. So that’s how I live as a founder, I’m like, I’m gonna make a plan. But you know how you make God laugh, you make a plan. So we’ll just, we’ll just throw it up against the wall, and we’ll see what happens. So I love that and to our founders at home, you know, find me, find ways where you can potentially pivot, you know, if something’s not working, don’t be afraid to fix the broken thing. Now, I want to ask you, you’ve given out so many gems. And of course, I love that, but I kind of love to end on this note. And I want to ask you, if you could give any advice to two up and coming founders who might want to create, I’m gonna, I’m gonna broaden it to content strategy, because that’s really your gift. You know, you’ve definitely focused on podcasts, and you focused on different kinds of media, but your gift is content. You know, if you wanted to create a content strategy, what do you wish the founders out there did?
Lisa Laporte 37:44
Well, if they want to create a content strategy, first, they should understand why they want to do it. Like for instance, this is a tech Podcast Network. And we do shows because we’re super serving our tech audience. For instance, I launched my own podcast called Host read ads, because I want to differentiate what hosts read ads are versus dynamic ad insertion, and how we do things that honestly outshine everybody else that’s doing dynamic ad insertion. So I started to do that as a sales tool for my sales team, when they’re out there looking for new partners to add to our network. So I would be very clear, I would want founders to be clear about what they’re doing the podcast for, is it to grow their business, a lot of people do that, hey, we want to talk about our business and what cool things we could do and how we help people solve problems. So maybe that would provide them with business? Or do they just want to, you know, go out and give the industry knowledge that they have that can maybe help others grow. So be really clear on why you’re doing a podcast if you’re going to add content as a strategy. And honestly build out your first 10 podcasts to see if this is something you really want to do and see if it’s sustainable. Take a look at others in the industry that are doing what you think you want to do. So don’t try to reinvent the wheel, see what other people are doing. And is that a model you want to do? What do you really have to start with a purpose? Why are you doing it? And then lastly, just make sure you have a good you know, mic, make sure you’re posting it wherever you want to. I recommend anchor.fm to a lot of people, they just want to do a little something. I mean, that’s where I do my podcast. I mean, I know I have an arsenal year, I could totally leverage my entire network and publish in like 400 podcasters but for me, this is just like a tool we’re using in our strategy of going out and finding partners. So really it needs to start with why are you doing it? Yeah, be very clear about what you want to accomplish. But then also you may be five episodes in and go oh my god, we should really be talking about this so pivoted if you need to.
Lauren Conaway 39:39
Yeah, well and just as a reminder, you know, one of the gems that Lisa already gave away, is the fact that this money is not a reason to do a podcast. It is a byproduct of doing a podcast but if you have your reason and if you are strong in your content strategy and you know you have a good host if you have all of the ingredients To create a great podcast the money will come but it’s not the be all end all. It’s not why you do it because if that’s the reason that you’re doing it, I imagine you’re gonna get bored really, really quickly. Yeah, so So I love that, and now Lisa, we come across it is time for the human question. I have warned you about this. Yes. You know what, I’m gonna do it. I told you I might do this. And I think I’m gonna do it. But hey, Lisa, what kind of toppings do you like on your pizza?
Lisa Laporte 40:28
I love everything besides fruit and chicken. Oh, kinda.
Lauren Conaway 40:33
So we had a whole conversation about this prep. Lisa and I are on opposite ends of the pineapple on the pizza spectrum. Just an FYI. But that being said, I very much respect your choice.
Lisa Laporte 40:49
You know, my salesperson. His favorite pizza is Canadian bacon and pineapple. And we always joke when we go to pizza. I’m like, don’t let your Canadian bacon and pineapple touch my pizza.
Lauren Conaway 40:59
Tell him to throw some jalapenos on that because that’s like a game-changing pizza right there. Okay, I’ll tell you about my favorite pizza. I mean, if you like everything, that’s a very broad brush.
Lisa Laporte 41:10
Verbally I’m no vegetarian here. I love an all-meat pizza. But I don’t mind some bell peppers, olives, and onions thrown on top of it. So pretty much everything is like a normal traditional pizza. I can do deep dishes. I can make a thin crust. But yeah, pretty much all meat works for me.
Lauren Conaway 41:26
Okay. All right. So we have the consonant carnivore here. And Lisa Laporte. I gotta tell you, Lisa, it has been a pleasure to have you. You’re on the show. And I’ve learned a time I always learn with guests. I always keep my mind open to learning. But you know, as a podcast host, I love learning from experts. And so I’m just, I’m very personally grateful. I know that the Startup Hustle audience is also grateful for the gems that you dropped. Thank you so much for joining us here today.
Lisa Laporte 41:53
And thank you for having me. This was fantastic.
Lauren Conaway 41:55
Oh god, I’m so glad. Do you know what else is fantastic, friends? Our episode sponsor, Full Scale. If you need to hire software engineers, testers, or leaders, Full Scale can definitely help. They have the people and the platform to help you build and manage a team of experts. When you visit FullScale.io. All you need to do is answer a few questions, and then the platform will actually match you up with fully vetted, highly experienced software engineers, testers, and leaders. They specialize in building long-term teams that work only for you to learn more when you visit FullScale.io. And friends, I am going to point you to some other fabulous Startup Hustle content. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but we recently did a series. And it was with Frank Keck. So you’re looking for frog founder Fridays with Frank Keck. And Frank had the distinction of interviewing all of the Startup Hustle hosts. So, Matt, Matt, myself, and Andrew all went under the microscope to talk about building culture within our teams. That’s a really huge component of building a successful team. And a successful company is built on successful teams. It’s one of the building blocks of foundations. So I highly recommend that you give those episodes of Listen. My co-host gave out a lot of really, really beautiful information. So check out founder Fridays with Frank. Friends. We are so grateful that you have come back and listened to us week after week. It is a huge honor. And we hope you keep doing it. We will catch you next time.