Two months ago I was 35,000 feet in the air and started listening to Virgin America's featured podcast. It was called Half Hour Intern and I was intrigued by the topic and the conversational tone of the podcast host Blake Fletcher. Half way through my second episode I subscribed to wi-fi and punched out an email to Blake Fletcher, telling him my story and pitching him on why I should be a guest on his show. By the time my flight landed he had emailed back and Blake and I had a great conversation pre-recording our show (which you can find here). Now it's my turn to interview Blake and have him tell his incredible story on how he went from medical device rep to podcasting professionally.
1. After years of working in medical device sales you left the comfort of a "normal" job to pursue your podcasting career! What inspired you to start a podcast?
When I was 24 I thought I landed my dream job, being a medical device rep. Somehow though, it just didn’t feel quite right. It didn’t click. It checked all of these boxes for what type of job I should like and yet somehow, still, certain parts of the job felt wrong to me…like dating someone who checks all the right boxes, but there’s just no chemistry and you don’t know why. I thought maybe I just needed a new company, or a new product, or to be in a more senior position.
Six years later, I had shifted all of those things and the job still never clicked, it still was not the job I imagined, and still was not the job I wanted. I have been a been a big podcast fan for a long time, and one day it occurred to me, I could make a podcast for people like me. People that aren’t doing what they want to be doing, but who have no idea what the heck it is they want to do instead. That is the highest calling of Half Hour Intern, to actually help people. I’m also an incredibly curious person and I love learning about the world around me, and I know lots of other people do too. That’s the broader, less serious goal of the show, to have a great time while learning about cool stuff.
2. Now after interviewing hundreds of people in a variety of industries have you noticed a trend in careers? Do you feel like there is a "normal" 9-5pm anymore?
I definitely know that there is still a huge group of people working a ‘normal’ 9-5, but I also know that there are not many millennials that want to have a career like that anymore. So you have a lot of people working jobs like that, but not a lot of them that are satisfied. People want to feel fulfilled and challenged by their career. People want the line to be blurred between work and fun, work and life. Who needs the exact hours of 9-5 and to retire at 60 if your work is a part of your life that you value? People want to be Jiro from Jiro Dreams of Sushi.
The trend that I have noticed is that people really do seem to enjoy things more and carry less anxiety when they “find their sushi”. Bladesmith, Glassblower, Goat Farmer, Truck Driving Fitness Instructor…you can just hear it and tell when somebody found their thing and they’re no longer talking about their job, but they’re talking about their life. We all owe it to ourselves to find our sushi.
3. What's been the most exciting thing about being your own boss? What's been the most challenging?
The most exciting thing is probably exactly what you would think: Not having to answer to anyone else! I am a ‘wear my heart and opinions on my sleeve’ kind of guy, and that always made working in the corporate world difficult for me. If I would see our company doing something that I didn’t think made any sense, or could be done better, I would pretty much always mention it to my boss, which I’m sure did not make me the best employee to manage. It’s so nice being able to tackle all of the challenges you see, and being able to run things in a way that you find logical.
On the flip of that, when you are your own boss and you see all the possibilities in front of you, it can almost become overwhelming. There is truly a never-ending list of potential things to spend your time doing to help your business. Deciding exactly what to spend your time focusing on, and having the discipline to keep doing that and nothing else can be very difficult.
4. What are some of the podcasts you most admire, any that we need to start listening to ASAP?
The classics, This American Life and Radiolab. I don’t think anyone will ever make podcasts better than that. Stuff You Should Know was one of my first loves in podcasts and was definitely an inspiration for my show.
If you like This American life you’ll enjoy Invisibilia.
If you like Serial you’ll enjoy Criminal.
If you like listening to music you’ll enjoy Song Exploder.
If you like sports you’ll enjoy the Bill Simmons Podcast.
If you like trying to make yourself the best version of you that you can be you’ll enjoy The Tim Ferriss Show and Bulletproof Radio.
5. Where do you see your career in the next 5 years? Any chance you'd expand into television?
I don’t know if anyone else does this, but I go back and forth between being really Tony Robbins-esque driven and planning things out for myself and my path, and having a 1 month plan, and a 6 month plan and a 1 year plan and so on…And then believing that I should be more present-minded, and just focus on the now, and if I always take care of this moment and this day, then 5 years from now I will be in a good place because every day for the previous 5 years I focused on doing what made me happy and working hard that day. Currently I’m in one of the latter cycles, otherwise I would have had a much more straightforward answer to the question :) I would love to expand to TV or any other form of video! I want to help as many people as possible learn about new jobs and hobbies, and video would definitely do that.