How Alex Blumberg’s new Startup podcast can help you lower risk by leveraging your best talents and skills.
Alex Blumberg’s podcast about launching his Start Up is mesmerizing. The Planet Money and This American Life producer’s transparent account of launching his new business around long-form audio production is not only inspiring, it’s compelling. With each episode, I’m left with the feeling that I need to lean in even further with my own start-ups.
Why? Because this guy is like best-in-class. He might even be best in the world at what he does. I mean, how could a guy who produced some of the most celebrated journalistic audio content in history fail at creating a company about journalistic audio content for a broader audience? It’d be like Michael Jordan buying a basketball team. I know what you’re thinking. Hang with me. I’m not talking Jordan’s deal with the fledgling Hornets. In this imaginary world, I’m giving the superstar a longer playing shelf life. Imagine Jordan getting the chance to keep getting better as a player. Like living in the starting line-up for as long as he feels like playing. That’s Alex Blumberg.
Except, what’s amazing, is he’s nervous it won’t fly.
No kidding. Give Episode One a listen and you’ll get it straight away. Brilliant story telling with edge of your seat and addiction inducing drama about building a business around story telling.
Here’s a sneak peek: The first episode has him pitching a famous venture capitalist. The VC was actually an interviewee that Alex worked with on Planet Money. What’s amazing is this guy really wants to like what Alex is up to. Alex falls flat. Totally blows it.
But, of course he does. It’s actually a critical part of the story telling!
That’s the amazing part of this game Alex is playing with this show. Ultimately, we all know he cannot fail as a skilled audio story teller. That’s his best talent. So, he sharply leveraged that talent to tell a meta-story about his start-up.
Said different, in telling the story about his story, Alex Blumberg must set the table for possible failure or there is no story. Add to that the fact that he’s not yet talented in business building and you have the perfect tension. He’s making the right gamble but doing it in a way where even if the business fails, he’ll have a hit show he can add to his resume and go get hired again some place else.
Truth is, I’m not sure his business will actually make it. I’ve bought the drama. And I can’t help but keep listening to his mini-series to find out. I say that because he might not have the entrepreneurial chutzpah.
But what he does have is guts. And, since he’s so talented, he has a built in fall-back plan. Worst case scenario, he gets hired back by anybody (including This American Life or Planet Money or he takes Start Up to any network on the planet and he’s off to the races. He’s that good at what he does.
Here’s the take away for our conversation: The smart move for Alex (and me and you) is to go all in with our actual talent. But, wait a second. Wasn’t Alex already doing that over at NPR? Yes. But this time, he took the talent and repurposed it for an entirely different game: Creating his own NPR.
Too often I see folks (me included) who get vision for being a part of something new that seems sexy and big and awesome, only to be lured away taking on jobs that force me to the bottom rung of competency. If we’re clever in assessing our signature contributions, maybe we don’t have to do that every time. Maybe we can still be us, even while we go for broke on our dreams.
And that’s the gamble we’re all invited into. What skills would I dare risk it all on? What about you?
Sidenote: I’m clearly a fan of the show. And as a rookie tech investor, I’ve already reached out to him to see if WeaveWriter could be a sponsor on StartUp and begged him to be a guest on my business of creativity podcast. No response yet. :)