When I got up this morning, I was excited to see a notification on my phone saying that the new season of the podcast Serial had finally launched. This season they’re going to dive into the story of solider Bowe Bergdahl, who was taken hostage by the Taliban after deserting his post.
One of the reasons why Serial is so successful is because it’s so successfully edited and produced. Listening to the show feels like you’re watching a great episode of Law & Order. It’s paced so well.
My wife and I both work from home. So neither of us have a commute where we can listen to the podcast, like lots of our friends. Tonight, we just sat in the living room, around my Jambox speaker, and listened to the first episode of Serial Season 2.
It reminded me of the photos of families sitting around the radio listening to programs, in decades past. Podcasting isn’t new. It’s been exploding for years now. But this is the first time there’s been a podcast where it seems normal to want to listen to it with someone else at the same time.
Season 2 is coming at a great time. Most of the network television shows are on winter break. So I can give Serial audio program the same time that I would’ve previously watched something. The fact that that’s happening
Are you listening to Serial together with someone else?
I’ve spoken at many conferences where I’ve traveled far and spent considerable money to talk to a room of 50 people. Over the last month and half, I’ve participated in or produced 3 webinars that reached together over 400 people. And I did it from the comfort of my own home.
The ease of holding a webinar and attracting a considerable crowd definitely makes attending or speaking at a conference a little less worthwhile. When you speak at a conference, you just get the pleasure of communicating your ideas and maybe the email addresses of as many hands you can shake after. When you hold a webinar, you get your message out there and you get everyone’s email address. It’s fantastic.
For conferences, there’s one thing that online can never fully replicate: the serendipitous connections. A good conference will attract great people that connecting with will be worth the price of admission. For as long as I’ve been going, SXSW has been about connecting with the people over the content.
How will conferences change over the next few years to accommodate this? Like could I hold a virtual conference that was a series of webinars?
There’s a report in Vice’s Motherboard that Twitter is experimenting with arranging your Twitter feed in a non-chronological order that’s curated by an algorithm. It’s similar to what Facebook does with showing you the posts you’d find most interesting.
Twitter is trying to find a way to make itself more appealing to a mass audience and grow their numbers. Twitter could be realizing the forcing it’s users to consume the full stream is overwhelming. Twitter may be the world’s microphone but if you follow many accounts that’s a lot to handle. It’s easier to just show consumers the things they’ll find most interesting.
I’m an off and on TweetDeck user for consuming Twitter. But then I realized that the fact that TweetDeck exists and is useful demonstrates Twitter’s problem. The stream is just too much that you have to break it into different columns. This is great for power users but the eyes of normal people glaze over.
Of course, while curated Twitter streams is better UX for consumers, it’s terrible for people and brands that use Twitter as a means to communicate with their audience. With the way it is now, it’s fairly straightforward how Twitter works and what you need to get seen. If Twitter moves towards algorithm-driven curation, we’ll have no clue if or how to actually reach the audience that we’ve built up, just like Facebook. You’ll probably have to pay in order to reach your audience on Twitter, much like Facebook.
I’m super curious how this’ll all shake out.
The other day I was thinking back to elementary school days. I can vividly remember being quizzed on the different steps of the scientific method. You ask a question, create a hypothesis, run an experiment, analyze results, rinse and repeat.
It’s funny how much this plays into my professional career twenty five years later. At work, we’ve done an incredible job building up social, email, and search as inbound marketing channels. We’re constantly asking questions and testing a hypothesis. Trying to figure out how we can squeeze out more juice.
It’s an exciting time to be a marketer. Every platform is providing a better and better analytics. And most of the platforms analytics are real time. You can try something and immediately get feedback from your audience about whether it worked or not, iterate, and repeat your test.
But more than marketing… that scientific method that we learned in elementary school really has become a lifestyle. You ask questions, try new things in life, see how it goes, analyze, iterate, rinse and repeat. I do it with every aspect of my life. It helps me as I work to optimize everything from an email marketing strategy to how to best teach my kid the things he needs to know.
It’s funny how much those early things play such a big important role in your life down the road.
One weekend, we took a drive up the Mississippi River. It’s a pretty drive and there’s some cute little towns. There was a winery with a restaurant. We decided to stop there for lunch.
When we get to the restaurant, we have the kid with us and ask for a high chair. They respond with “We don’t have high chairs. We’re a winery.” I was pissed but we’d already made our order and paid. So we stayed and he stayed with the kid in the stroller next to the table. I felt bad for the other parents of young kids who were in a similar position and were struggling with their wiggly kids on their laps.
There’s a new fried chicken place in St Louis that I’ve been dying to try. But the restaurant has high top tables and 2 booths. Having a kid in a high chair with high top tables doesn’t really work. Plus the restaurant is always crazy busy. It was a non-starter.
Having a kid changes how you see the world. What you look out for completely changes. I wish there was an app that’d help me be successful.
The world of local search for businesses and restaurants is phenomenal. Yelp, Foursquare, and Google Maps are incredible products. But I want more.
I want to ask those apps if the restaurant has high chairs. I want to ask if the restaurant has a changing table in the bathroom. Is the changing table in both bathrooms or just the women’s? This knowledge would change what businesses I patronize.
Would you find this helpful?
After yesterday’s post, I got a lot of questions from friends and readers asking for available resource for learning how to code.
Code Academy – These are incredible self-driven online courses that’ll teach you how to code. It’s free and covers everything from basic things like HTML & CSS to programming Python. If you’re just looking to get your feet wet, this is a great way to do it.
Skillshare – More online classes.
General Assembly (GA) – They provide a mix of both online and in person classes, if you have the pleasure of having a GA campus in your town.
The Iron Yard – They provide in person classes at their campuses around the world.
Are there ones that I’m missing? Drop a comment.
This morning I sent the 52nd issue of my personal email newsletter, Justin’s List. I share the most interesting things I read all week. Can’t believe that I’ve kept it going this long. It’s really just something I was experimenting with but the numbers always proved to be something people enjoyed.
It started out of a frustration with social media. It was feeling so noisy that I didn’t feel like I was reaching people effectively anymore. At work, we had invested a lot into email marketing and seen huge results. Why wasn’t I doing it personally?
Social media is so noisy. It’s a never ending stream that’s impossible to keep up with. If I post something on Facebook or Twitter, it’s a complete toss up whether someone will actually see it. When delivering something to someone’s email inbox, I feel more confident that they’ll see it. It’s in their inbox and their inbox is MUCH more personal.
And also interesting… Starting to see more of my friends experimenting with this as well.
The ancient technology of email isn’t going anywhere and I predict that’ll become even more important in today’s world.
This morning Lauren and I wanted to go to brunch. It was before 10am. So, let’s be honest. It was breakfast. LOL. I had a hankering for Rooster, in the South Grand neighborhood of St Louis. We had tried going a different day but they were closed.
I looked online and was pleasantly surprised to see that they had opened at 7am. When your kid wakes up at 630/7am, if not earlier, brunch at 11am really doesn’t work. There’s no lazy mornings anymore. Rooster being open at 7am was perfect, especially because it’s a hip spot where there’s usually a line. At 7-9am, it was practically empty, which is also perfect with kids.
At the end of the meal, we smelled something fishy. No it wasn’t the food. The food was amazing. Kid had gone #2 and needed to be changed. Usually this is an even bigger pain because you have to change them on a changing table that’s crammed into the most awkward spot, if there’s a table at all. What pisses me off even more is when they only have a changing table in the women’s restroom. Rooster had two spacious family bathrooms. It was like a dream.
By paying attention to the small things and accommodating to families (and really parents), Rooster got some word of mouth marketing. They also won them someone who’s gonna come back to their restaurant much more.
I’m halfway through a two week family vacation and let me say it’s been great. There hasn’t been a whole to do. We spend time together, eat, drink coffee, and go to the beach. That’s it. It’s really forced me to slow down my brain and just think… reflect. It’s awesome. 🙂
It’s amazing how back at home that was force ourselves to go a mile a minute. We’re trying to figure out how to jam as many things into a day as possible. There’s no time for thinking. What are we missing out on… what are we not seeing because we’re going so fast?
The other morning, Miles and I took a long walk on the island and found this beautiful old church. Then we just sat and watched the waves roll in. It was fantastic.
Despite the urges to the contrary, I’ve been trying to not touch my phone as much as possible and read a physical book. I’m reading A Curious Mind by Brian Grazer. It’s amazing how when you slow down that you find that you have the ability to comprehend a thought formed into greater than 140 characters.
Slowing down isn’t just something for vacation. It should be something that’s part of your everyday. I like to take 30 minutes at the end of everyday and just drink a beer. It’s my way of slowing down. I know some people that run or do spin classes. What do you do?