Before you feel anywhere close to ready to go public

I teach audio storytelling and podcasting. Typically, people assume that means all the things: story structure, interviewing, equipment, recording, post-production, distribution, and so forth. Which, of course, is absolutely true. But we also unearth challenges that are unseen and unheard, the concerns that students and creatives either hide or are even unaware of.

Two of these that plague so many people passionate about a new idea or creation are these questions:

1: Does anyone need what I have to say? Does my message matter and if so, to whom?

2…


And how maybe we can bridge this year’s divisiveness

Video professional Mary Jo Brooks on the left in a classroom of University of Colorado students learning how to use professional videography equipment. The class is a diverse set of students from three different countries.
Video professional Mary Jo Brooks on the left in a classroom of University of Colorado students learning how to use professional videography equipment. The class is a diverse set of students from three different countries.
Video pro Mary Jo Brooks leads a session of my CU Denver Digital Health Narrative class, 2018.

Three years ago, I had the privilege of teaching a class called “Digital Health Narratives” at the University of Colorado Denver. It was a seminar for a dozen students — some undergrads, some graduate students. Several came from China, one from Saudi Arabia, and there were three Americans. We were studying the importance of telling stories of medicine—those of patients, those of providers, those of family—and to learn to do so in writing, video, and podcasts.

At the time, I was largely a creator, a writer and podcaster. I loved teaching…


What I’m learning from my students as they struggle to put their new creations into the world can help you, too.

I want to talk about perfectionism.

A few weeks ago, I launched Podcast Allies’ first course for new podcasters. It’s called “Podcast Liftoff: From Creation to Promotion, Get Your Podcast Off the Ground.” It’s both digital and a series of live Zoom calls. Those Zoom calls are giving me a fantastic opportunity to get to know students and to learn not just what they’re striving for, but what they’re up against.

Pre-pandemic: Helping Podcast Allies’ client Environmental Defense Fund develop a new podcast.

Many of their stumbling blocks are particular to their own situations — equipment issues, titling, audience questions, bandwidth, and on and on. …


Ready to face your fears of doing something new? Here are twelve lessons that will help finally write that book, launch your podcast, start a business, or step onto a stage.

Sign at Garden of the Gods: “This is a natural area. Rattlesnakes may be present.”
Sign at Garden of the Gods: “This is a natural area. Rattlesnakes may be present.”
Image by author

I am about to start writing a book.

Because I have written thousands of articles and scripts over the course of my career, I know I can write well, and a lot. But I’ve never written a book, and the prospect of sticking with something big is daunting. Writing a book requires perseverance and the discipline to tolerate periods of tedium. And the belief that I can find my way from beginning to end, even though at the outset, there is no clear path. I’ll be making my own.

A trail run, I decided, would be the perfect precursor. I’ve…


Attorney B.C. Franklin (right) sits with his partner and secretary in a makeshift law office under a tent. Tulsa 1921.
Attorney B.C. Franklin (right) sits with his partner and secretary in a makeshift law office under a tent. Tulsa 1921.
(Left to right) I.H. Spears, Effie Thompson, and B.C. Franklin in a makeshift law office following the Tulsa Race Massacre, 1921.

Unsung Heroes and Secret Villains: The War Between Good and Evil in Tulsa

Without the heroism of a determined Black lawyer, survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre would have been exiled by racist city leaders. Instead, in a remarkable display of resilience, survivors rebuilt Black Wall Street’s homes and businesses.

Last summer, writing a podcast series on the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921, I encountered a mystery. It was this: The massacre left at least 300 people dead out of a tight-knit community of 11,000. Thousands of citizens fled and never returned. More than 1200 businesses and homes were…


A few thoughts about mastery.

I am impatient. Whatever I do, I want to be excellent at it. Right away, which of course is a philosophy in perfect opposition to the “beginner’s mind” we need in order to learn anything new.

I found myself thinking about impatience, practice, and excellence this weekend, in one of those “duh, slap your head” moments. I went cross-country skiing for the first time in two years. It was fun and nobody was pointing and laughing, but graceful? Not at all. I was frustrated! I wanted to be excellent, without any practice.

Last week I…


Valley of Fire State Park, Overton, United States. Photo by Fabien Bazanegue on Unsplash

What I learned about the future of business by writing about a different corporate rivalry every day for 18 months

A year and a half ago, Wondery, the podcast network behind Dr. Death, Dirty John, and Imagined Life, offered me the opportunity to write and produce a brand new daily podcast. It would be a spinoff of their wildly successful longform, serialized show, Business Wars. To be called Business Wars Daily, it was to be only a few minutes long, an entertaining news analysis of a different corporate rivalry every work day. I’d have the pleasure of working with Business…

Elaine Appleton Grant

A journalist and public speaker, Elaine is the cofounder of consultancy and production firm Podcast Allies, LLC.

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