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And They Said I Was Stupid—A Thought from 21,400 Feet in the Air

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And They Said I Was Stupid—A Thought from 21,400 Feet in the Air

By Pat Flynn on

A Thought

I’m currently writing this blog post on an airplane. I’m en route to Austin, TX (my first time there!) to meet with my mastermind group for a few days. Major planning sessions ahead, but for now—this blog post.

I had another post scheduled, but something funny happened at the airport that I wanted to write about.

While sitting in Terminal 1, Gate 9 at the San Diego airport, listening to a podcast (the new Tim Ferriss Podcast. Not for your super young kids, but it’s awesome!), and a woman who I have never met before walked up to me, smiled, and waved.

I took off my earbuds and then she said, “Hi Pat!”

Rarely does anyone ever come up to me in public and talk about what I do online. When it has happened, it’s really weird to me and I don’t think I could ever get used to it.

It’s flattering—don’t get me wrong—and I appreciate it very much, but it doesn’t make me feel like a “rock star”.

Plus, my wife once said to me, “If your head grows too big I won’t be there to support it for you.”

I love her for that. Seriously. 

While attending blogging and business conferences, however, people who I’ve never met before come up to me all of the time, since I’m in a place where my audience is gathered already.

The first time someone approached me, he started asking questions like he knew me, and I started to freak out because I knew nothing about this person who seemed to know so much about me.

That was scary.

But, when this kept happening over and over again, I realized that everything I was doing online to build a relationship with my audience—the blog, the podcast and the videos, the stories within and the personalization of my content, it was working!

I realized that I was making real connections and building real relationships with real people through my content, and instead of being scared, I was thankful for those moments.

I became proud of my work.

And I became humbled as well.

I took off my earbuds and then she said, “Hi Pat!”

I replied, “Hi!”

“Hi Pat, I’m Jean! I listen to your podcast all of the time! Thank you for what you do…I was in marching band in the 80s and played the trumpet too, I heard you mention it at the beginning of one of your podcasts.”

Jean and I ended up chatting for over a half an hour about random things—mostly marching band and trumpet related stuff—until I had to board my plane.

It was such a fun conversation!

Sitting here on the plane now, I thought about how that conversation started and it was interesting that out of all the things to say first, she mentioned marching band.

But it also makes complete sense, because it’s one thing she knew we both had in common.

And They Told Me I Was Stupid…

When I first started my podcast, there was a lot on my list of things do to. One of those things was to create an intro that would play at the beginning of each episode.

Because I didn’t like listening to the same intro over and over again on other podcasts (I would often fast-forward through them), I had an idea to include a different intro each time, specifically by having my voiceover guy introduce a new, random fact about me at the start of each episode.

When I shared this idea with my online business colleagues—some who had podcasts already, some who did not—nobody got it.

They would say things like:

“Pat, you’re wasting your time and money. Focus on the meat and content of your show instead.”

I also heard:

“Nobody will care or remember these random facts about you. It’s at the start of your show, and you said it yourself…it’s random.”

And one person, who I trusted (and still do), replied with:

“Pat, don’t be stupid.”

Well, I did it anyway.

Fast forward nearly 4 years later with a top-rated business podcast and 8 million downloads, those same exact people who doubted my choice have since told me how smart I was to do it.

When I think back to the conversations I’ve had with people who have come up to me at conferences, a couple of things come to mind:

1. They almost always mention the podcast—never the blog anymore. When I realized this at New Media Expo in early 2013, I switched from a bi-weekly show to publishing an episode once a week. 

A podcast is an incredible way to make a personal connection with several people at the same time.

(If you’d like help starting a podcast, check out my free step-by-step podcasting tutorial! No cost or email opt-in required.)

2. Within those conversations, I would say that one of those random facts from the introduction of my show is mentioned 50% of the time.

That’s a lot.

People ask me about my fantasy football team, my marching band career, when I was a DJ, how I was 11 lbs. 12 oz. when I was born, and the one thing that seems to resonate with the most people—my love for Back to the Future, my all-time favorite movie.

When I get deeper into those conversations, I find out that they remember those things because they experienced or enjoy those things too, or know someone close to them who has.

These random things that seem to have absolutely no relevance to the topic of my blog or podcast are making all the difference in the world when it comes to connecting with my audience.

Therefore, it actually has all the relevance in the world to what I do online.

The purpose of this post is to remind you that it’s okay to share bits and pieces of your life with people—and actually—you’d be doing yourself and your audience a disservice if you don’t.

Your hobbies, your interests and other things outside of the topic of your blog, you may feel like it doesn’t matter—that’s it’s wasted space on your blog or podcast—but it does matter.

It’s like that ice breaker during the first day of summer camp.

People connect with real people, and this is a quick and easy way to show that you’re a real person online—a place where people are often not being real and are afraid to show exactly who they are.

Although your audience may not connect with everything you have share, it only takes that one shared experience—that one time at band camp—to make people remember you and keep coming back.

So…How, Exactly?

So how are you supposed to share bits and pieces of yourself with your audience?

For me, I chose to do it regularly during the intro of my podcast, but you don’t have to do it that way. Plus, I’ll be honest, it does take some work to do it this way.

The intro to each new episode is edited—I can’t just copy and paste an intro from a previous episode—and I have to work with my voiceover guy to get them done ahead of time.

It’s worth it to me though.

Here are some other ideas for you:

  1. You can share bits and pieces of yourself on social media, on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
  2. As interesting things come up in your life, mention them in your podcast episodes or blog posts, and if you can interweave those happenings with your topic and content, even better!
  3. Create an entire blog post or podcast episode that is devoted just for helping people get to know more about who you are. These are some of my favorite blog posts to read, like this one from Glen Allsop from Viperchill.com, and this more recent post from Scott Dinsmore from Live Your Legend.
  4. Definitely mention one or two things about yourself on your about page. But of course, make sure you structure your about page in an effective way, like described here.
  5. If you do any public speaking, inserting bits and pieces of your real life into your presentation can help add flavor to your talk, and make a connection that will keep people’s attention and keep them engaged for much longer. I’ll often start my own presentations with a relevant story or video that involves my kids (and I’ve started one talking about marching band too!), which then leads into the main topic of the talk.

These are just a few of the hundreds of ways you can better connect with your audience and more quickly build that relationship and trust that’s needed for any online business to succeed.

And now, I’d like to flip the switch a little and get to know YOU more (and have all get to know each other)!

I Want to Get to Know You (And Skype with One of You)!

All you need to do is leave a comment below sharing a fun and interesting fact about you and your life. That’s all! Share something that will help us get to know you better—something beyond what you do online.

As incentive, I’m going to pick one commenter at random and get on a Skype call with you for 30 minutes to help answer any questions you may have about your specific online business. I don’t do consultations very often, but I thought this would be fun.

Plus, I would already know a little something about you before we chat!

Leave a comment before 11:59pm PST Sunday, May 4th and I’ll choose someone at random for the Skype call. I’ll contact the winner via email to schedule a date and time to chat. I’ll announce the winner in next week’s blog post.

Cheers, and thanks for reading this blog post (published at 21,400 feet in the air!) and I look forward to learning more about you!

*Congratulations to Kevin Young for winning the 30 minute Skype call with me! Thank you all for your comments I’ve read them all over the past week, and please feel free to share a tidbit about yourself if you haven’t already! I hope you can already see how much of an impact just sharing these fun little stories can make.

**Also, shout out to Gareth for the highest rated comment (you can sort below to find it), and probably the most epic blog comment I’ve ever read.

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