Dumb mistakes I’ve made as a podcaster: polished is better than perfect

Done isn’t better than perfect. Done isn’t good enough.

Polished is better than perfect. Polished means you’re paying attention. Polished means you’re not rushing it. Polished means no multitasking* because if you do, you’ll let too many oversights through the gate of the publish button.

By all means, ship your work. Publish something. Start talking to us and show us what you know. But don’t keep us waiting while you wait for perfection to arrive from Amazon.

Here’s a few mistakes I’ve made as a podcaster. I’ve made these mistakes because I worked too fast on too many tasks at the same time.

  • I uploaded today’s episode of the podcast to YouTube with a clip of my screen recording a song I wanted to use for the intro.
  • A guest told me not to publish the video version of our conversation. A week later, I made a trailer for Twitter, Instagram, and my newsletter, using clips from the video version of our conversation. (So sorry, U.)
  • Episodes 19, 20, and 21 have/will have sloppy audio quality on my end. I’ve forgotten to run test recordings of me and my guest before starting the show. (Some have told me that audacity could help with this, but I’ve yet to look into it.)
  • I want to use this Blockhead beat as my podcast intro, but copyright exists. Thinking I could get away with it, I uploaded today’s episode with the song at the beginning. The episode isn’t on Apple yet, and I’m thinking it’s because I’ve used the beat without permission. I’m stubborn and I don’t like using stock music for anything I make, so I’ve sent Blockhead a cold email asking if I can use the track.
  • I’ve dwelt on mistakes longer than it took for me to see and fix the mistake. This is the worst mistake a creator can make. There’s few mishaps that take more than 5 minutes to fix. But you’re not careful, you could spend hours sulking over something you forgot to do. Don’t sulk. Fix it and move on.

Make stuff. Break stuff.

Fix the stuff you broke.

But don’t dwell on it. You wouldn’t cry over spilt milk, nor should you cry over a misplaced apostrophe, a broken hyperlink, or equipment left unplugged.

Because here you are, making stuff instead of not making stuff.

So please, go make stuff.


*I’m writing this while waiting for today’s episode to re-render. I don’t listen to my own advice that often.

On the bright side, I’ve yet to forget to press RECORD an hour into an episode. I shudder to imagine what I would do if that happened. I wouldn’t get out of bed for weeks if that happened. So, let’s make sure that never happens.

I’m taking a public speaking course and it’s going to change my life

Trying to escape communication is like trying to escape oxygen.

Everywhere you go, even when you’re alone, you’re communicating something. You’re always talking to yourself. In the Freudian sense, you’re always in a conversation with your culture and the ideal version of you. Other people expect you to behave a certain way (that’s culture). And that image of your ideal self (that’s ego), the “you” with an outstanding portfolio of work and an impressive collection of achievements, expects you to behave in a way that allows you to fulfill that portfolio of work and to collect all those achievements.

But you can’t do any of that unless you change the way you communicate with yourself and the people around you. Because the world reflects how you act. And how you act reflects how you communicate with yourself.

Communication is a superpower. History has seen phenomenal speakers use the power of words to manipulate entire countries into committing atrocities against innocent people. It’s because of this complicated history that people often see communication as manipulative. And they’re right. Communication is manipulative. But everything has a dark side and a bright side.

The bright side of communication is that we can use it as a force for good. Used with good intentions, communication is a powerful tool. It helps us do the risky work of telling others what we’re up to. It helps clear our muddy thoughts. It helps other people trust us, see us where we are, and enroll in the changes we’d like to make.

I write to figure out what I know. What I know informs what I intend to do each day. But if all I do is write, then nobody can understand me. Speaking is an extension of writing, and writing is an extension of thinking. All forms and methods of communication (writing, posture, speed, vocabulary, subject, intent, medium) are extensions of thinking.

I speak to figure out how I should share what I know with other people. I can’t enlighten and entertain people if I’m speaking like a walking corporate PowerPoint presentation. And so I’m pleased to tell you that I’ll be taking Performative Speaking, a public speaking course created by my friend Robbie Crabtree and his team.

Robbie’s a powerhouse. His command of the English language is inspiring. His understanding of story and narrative is at the level of mastery. He could have kept all his knowledge to himself. Instead, he’s sharing his 10 years of experience as a trial lawyer with those brave enough to enroll and put themselves on the hook.

This course is going to change my life. Not because I’ll be walking across hot coals, but because I’ll be doing something much scarier: talking about myself and my work in front of people I’ve never met.

If you’d like to know more about the course, and how it’ll change your life, click here.

And if you’d like to know more about Robbie, you can listen to my conversation with him by clicking here.

You means you!

Man, this You guy could do anything he wants,” I thought as I flipped through the pages of self-help book number 45.

The message flew over my head.

If a self-help author starts talking about you, they mean you — not some other guy named You.

Yes, you.

“What? Me? Oh, no — there must be a mistake. I couldn’t –“

Yes. Really. I mean you. You could start a business. You could learn to roller-skate. You could memorize 2,000 Kanji in less than a year. You could start a podcast and interview your favorite writers.

But only if you want.

How far you lean in when someone starts talking about your potential correlates to how much faith you have in yourself*. When you ignore them, stuff your head up in the clouds instead of paying attention, it means you’re not ready. Not ready to face the harsh reality of having a 1 in 8 billion gift. The gift of your perspective, drive, passion, and care.

How do you feel when you talk about your goals? Do you stumble over your words? Do you hunch over to defend yourself from an attack? That means you’re not committed. There’s still a part of you that’s stuck in the past. A part of you that thinks you’re still not capable.

You are capable.

Go make stuff.


(*I don’t have any statisticians to back me up on this, so I need you to go accomplish your life’s mission.)

Add title

Janitor. Lawmaker. Barista. Chief Financial Officer. Bagger. Publisher. Editor. Manager.

Titles tell us who does what. But they don’t tell us how we do what we do.

Unless we love our job, there will always be a missing piece on our nametag. That missing piece is what we wish we could do if we had the courage to do it. What we wish we could do if our boss would let us.

But our boss won’t let us until we ask. And when we ask, they might say no. Then what? Will we keep managing people the way we’re expected to? Or will we manage people the way we’ve always dreamed of: with more care and push than the employee manual expects?

A company expects you to conform to the way things are done within the company. And that’s good. Conformity creates unity in the organization. Conformity makes sure that we’re all on the right page.

But there’s no need to conform so hard that you extinguish the fire of your personality.

The highest benchmark for every creator

Two friends asked me if content creators should have separate channels. One channel for business content (whatever that means). Another for personal content.

If you think your personal life is more interesting than your job (content creation is a job), yes.

And if that’s true, then you must know that you’re boring yourself and your audience with your content. Listen to the voice that’s begging you to do something totally off the cuff. Don’t make your audience navigate extra links. Deliver the goods up front.

If your job is to tell good stories, no. All good content creators know this. Their job is to tell good stories. Their job is to express themselves through stories about people, places, products, and ideas.

Not everything personal needs to be about you. John Daub makes personal YouTube videos even though he rarely talks about himself. John Daub loves Japan, and so he makes videos about Japan. He doesn’t have a separate channel about his life. Japan is his life.

The highest benchmark for every creator isn’t a million subscribers or followers. No, the highest benchmark is a story you never get tired of telling.

“If you can tell a good story, you will always have a job”

John Daub

PS: A job should be challenging, rewarding, and something you’re proud of. I spoke with John Daub a few weeks ago about what it means to have a job that hits all 3 of those qualities. It’s one of the shorter episodes of the podcast, but one of the most beautiful conversations I’ve ever had. I hope you’ll have a listen. It’s magical.

The Penguin Latte Podcast #16 – The Wizard of Speech: Robbie Crabtree on Mastering The Spoken Word

Listen on Spotify | Listen on Apple | Watch on YouTube

“Virtually everything you do, on a day to day basis, is public speaking.”

Communication is everything. The way you speak to yourself and the way you speak to other people is as important as breathing. Your words can either help you get to where you want to go, or they can lead you to a place full of misery and regret. I’ll remind you again because it’s so important. And I’ll even bold and italicize the word for your convenience.

Communication. Is. Everything.

Today I’m excited as all hell to be joined by a master of communication: Robbie Crabtree (@RobbieCrab on Twitter, personal website here). Robbie Crabtree is a trial lawyer with over 9 years of experience handling some absolutely devastating trials. Domestic violence, murder, child abuse, whatever horrible aspect of the human condition you can imagine, Robbie has dealt with it.

At the heart of Robbie’s work is the art of storytelling. Robbie knows how to craft an interesting story out of anything. And I seriously mean anything. He can make a story about your bar mitzvah as exciting as a day at Six Flags.

Robbie Crabtree is also condensing his 9 years of speaking experience into a premium online course called Performative Speaking. Performative Speaking teaches people how to speak in a way that’ll keep any audience on the edge of their seat no matter what you’re talking about (even bar mitzvahs). I can’t imagine a better person than Robbie to put on a course about public speaking.

The Keys to The Universe

This is very *meta* episode. Listening to Robbie speak made me a better podcaster. But even if you’re not a podcaster, YouTuber, or don’t believe that your job has anything to do with public speaking, make no mistake: the world is paying attention to the way you communicate with it. There’s no such thing as a job that doesn’t require effective communication.

There’s gems buried in this episode that might not be apparent the first time around. For example, why did Robbie talk about Yu-Gi-Oh, of all things, in one of the most emotionally difficult trials of his career? Why did Robbie ask me what time it is (even though he knew the answer) halfway through the episode? What is it about Jack Butcher that makes him such an effective communicator, while using so few words? And what’s the key distinction between public speaking and giving a speech?

You’ll have to listen to find out.

Listen on Spotify | Listen on Apple | Watch on YouTube


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328: Thoughts on quitting for everyday of the year

For those who want to quit,

To quit writing is to take “packing it in” to the extreme. By quitting, you’re packing everything in. All your potential to change someone’s life, shoved back into your prefrontal cortex, never to be seen again.

I’ve almost quit writing these daily posts 328 times. Every morning when I show up to write, I have the choice: write, or don’t write.

But that choice isn’t mutually exclusive to my daily blog.

I’ve almost quit writing my weekly newsletter 10 times.

And I’ve almost quit doing my podcast 17 times.

I’ve come close to quitting so often because I tried to do everything like everyone else. I tried to market my work according to so-and-so. I tried to write about so-and-so topic because it’s popular. I thought I had to be Tim Ferriss to make a 2 hour interview as compelling as a dog chasing its tail. And I thought I had to write a newsletter to rake in oodles of cash.

What’s kept me afloat?

By knowing that if I were to join the military, I wouldn’t last a second.

The best part of starting your own projects is the freedom to do things your way. You need discipline, but you don’t need the same structure as everyone else. You need to organize, but nobody neds to know that you’re terrible at tracking your marketing assets.

Writing is rarely going to be fun, but you can make it fun. You make writing fun by making it rewarding. Jumping around in a bounce house is fun for 12 minutes (more if you’re on LSD), but is it rewarding? The most fun things I’ve ever done were the most challenging. And the most challenging things I’ve ever done were the most rewarding.

If you like writing, but you begrudge it like Thanksgiving dinner with your Uncle Craig, write about something else. This applies to everything. Podcasting, making YouTube videos, starting a business, running a non-profit..

If you like the idea, but you don’t like acting out the idea, try adding a little spice.

The Penguin Latte Podcast #14 – Andrew Barry on Flow States, Life in South Africa, Good Books, and Living Curiously

Listen on Spotify | Listen on Apple | Watch on YouTube

Recording this episode was like frolicking in a bounce house for adults.

Andrew Barry is one of the most humble and joyful people I’ve ever met. He’s completely shattered all of my previous notions about what a CEO “needs” to be: fast-talking, a phone in each hand, scheduling meetings and forgetting their child’s birthday parties. Andrew’s life is proof that no matter how busy you are, there’s always time for a little curiosity. (Or in Andrew’s case, much curiosity.)

So, who is Andrew Barry? He’s the CEO of Curious Lion – a company that helps clients scale and improve their online learning. Andrew is also an avid blogger who writes about creativity, education, decision making, and group learning.

This is a far-reaching and wide ranging conversation, much like Andrew’s own openness to the world and it’s people. We talk Zen philosophy, Aldous Huxley, meditation, writing, music, flow states, life in South Africa, and so, so much more. We could have spent hours talking about every nook and cranny about life and growth. So expect to see Andrew on the podcast again sometime in the future.

Please enjoy!


This episode is brought to you by The Hey Penguin Newsletter. Each week, I send out an email about creativity and self-improvement. I also include extra goodies like previews of podcast episodes, drafts of future posts, and my thoughts on art, life, books I’m reading, and more! No two issues are the same. Sign up by clicking here.

The work of a creative professional starts with a signature

What does a creative professional do, exactly?

Do they show up to a marketing firm with a bunch of coloring books and crayons?

Do they throw paint everywhere and make a bunch of abstract art and then try to sell it to advertising agencies?

Do they run B2B slam poetry gatherings over Zoom?

That stuff is cool, but the creative professional likes to get paid.

So what do they do to get paid?

They look at your organization’s copywriting, marketing assets, leftover zoom videos, blog posts and articles, and they make something useful. The creative professional takes a bunch of disparate stuff, stuff that sort of has a coherent message, and they find the signal in the noise.

The creative professional connects the dots using their signature.

Mark Woollen & Associates, the team behind my favorite movie trailer, has a signature. I get goosebumps every time I watch their brilliant piece for The Social Network.

The late Toonami had a signature. Their nighttime commercials on Cartoon Network created a generation of lifelong fans. For the Toonami faithful, exciting commercials are synonymous with the (sadly, now defunct) Toonami brand.

If you’re lucky, you’ll find your signature right away. But if you’re like all the others, it’ll take you a very long time to find it.

So what’s the payoff of spending months, maybe years, looking for your signature?

Liberation. You’ll no longer be oppressed by the temptation of the cliched and popular. You’ll start writing about your weekly hiking trips. You’ll start recording podcasts about black coffee and flannel hoodies. You’ll no longer bore yourself with what you make. And the people who work with you won’t be bored, either.

It’s the creative professional’s job to rid the world of boring stuff. And the only way to do that is to start developing a signature. If you don’t, you’ll end up making stuff that’s like all the other stuff out there.

Your signature is a currency that increases in value the more you spend it. The more you use your signature, the better you’ll be at using it. A stronger signature will lead you to bigger and better projects. Bigger and better projects means bigger and better pay, which leads to more opportunities…you can see where this is going.

And sure, people can counterfeit your signature. But like a fake dollar bill, the forgery will be obvious once you hold it under the light.

The point of creativity is to solve problems in interesting ways. The creative professional gets to show up, armed with a pen in hand, prepared to do something that might blow up in their face. But the risk isn’t as big as it seems. There’s always a silver lining in every failed project.

For the creative professional, the world is like a giant contract. They go out and sign their name here, here, and here.