Podcast studio

The New World of Podcasts

From the Frying Pan Into the Fire!

You want me to do what? Podcasts! What are those?

Just as I was thrown into the war zone and many times stood there with bullets and rockets flying by, shocked like a deer in the headlights, a new life experience was hurled at me and as usual I was completely unprepared for what would become a new adventure in my life. Completely naive and oblivious to what all is involved in writing, publishing and promoting a book, this new chapter in my life would affect my daily schedule by setting new priorities and things on my “things-to-do” list.

When it was first suggested to me that I write a book about my experiences in Afghanistan during the war from the view point of a civilian, with no particular agenda, I thought how hard could that be? I will just tell a bunch of my stories and that would be that. I quickly learned living the stories was much easier than writing about them. I have forever struggled with reading and English grammar all the way through college and still to this day am corrected by the middle school and high school students I teach. To which I proudly point out, “you see, if I can stand up in front of you guys and do this, so can you. Don’t be afraid of people making fun of you.” My desire to help students learn overrides my fear of making mistakes and being made fun of.

You Want Me to Do What?

Then it was suggested, after my book was published, to do podcast interviews. What? What are podcasts? Learning about podcasts and mentioning the idea to friends and family, they thought how exciting! I thought sure, yeah, like being shot at in Afghanistan and having to run to the bunker kind of exciting. The first thing that went through my mind is TV interviewers making the guest look like a fool by asking questions the guest had no idea would be asked and watching them squirm and stumble to answer.

Telling my story is good in front of an audience, but podcast interviews are a whole different ball game. When I speak in front of a group or audience, I am the one who sets the agenda and plans what I’m going to say. I’m able to feed off the audience and make adjustments as necessary to keep them engaged. I move around on stage adding momentum through movements and emotions. And, yes, I will get a few questions but I am still the one in control of where the conversation goes.

I was assured that a podcast interview is just a conversation where you talk about what you know. And that it is OK to say you don’t know. Knowing that still did not take away any of my fears or butterflies. I thought OK, what is the worst that can happen in the interview? I could easily say something I would regret the rest of my life and I could not take it back. And then I thought about the advice my Lebanese body guards in Afghanistan would pump into me, “quit worrying about being killed, if we are killed we will all be eating lamb in paradise.” And you know that was never really settling! I guess blowing a podcast interview will not be as bad as that so let’s get on with it.

Well Worth It

Preparing for podcast interviews is now a part of my weekly schedule. I listen to other podcasts the interviewer has done before to get a feel for their style. I constantly review and rewrite notes and questions I have been asked at school, at speaking engagements, and during previous podcast interviews, to be better prepared if similar questions are asked again.

Am I excited to do podcasts? At times. Have podcasts caused me to adjust my life schedule? For sure. Are they difficult to do? Yes, especially if they are in the evening after a long day at school when I need to dig down deep to re-motivate myself for the podcast. Are they worth the fear, anxiety, hours of preparing and reviewing materials? Definitely! I have discovered another way and opportunity to get my message out about building girl schools in Afghanistan and what people in a war zone go through.

God speed and stay safe,
Mr. Rich

P.S.: Listen to a sampling of podcasts I’ve done this year. If you are a podcast host and want to connect, just let me know.

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