Reflecting on Two Hundred Episodes of Career Podcasting

Welcome to episode 200 of the Nerd Journey Podcast [@NerdJourney]! We’re John White (@vJourneyman) and Nick Korte (@NetworkNerd_), two Pre-Sales Technical Engineers who are hoping to bring you the IT career advice that we wish we’d been given earlier in our careers. In today’s episode we discuss favorite moments, statistics, and what we learned from 200 episodes of career podcasting.

Original Recording Date: 11-17-2022

Topics – Fun Statistics, Favorite Moments, What We Learned, Underrated Episodes, Gazing into the Future, Opportunities to Improve

1:27 – Fun Statistics

14:29 – Favorite Moments

  • John
  • Nick
    • Nick’s favorite moments are less specific episodes and more things surrounding the show and its production.
    • The gift of recorded advice is a favorite moment. Any time you listen back to edit or do show notes it’s a gift of advice. Often times it would be advice Nick really needed to hear at the time.
      • Certainly we ask our guests questions so the answers can be shared to benefit others. Sometimes questions are things we’ve been wondering or need help with ourselves.
    • Nick remembers the first series of interviews with Mike Burkhart. Because of issues with a home wireless router, Nick sat in his living room floor to record with John and Mike in what would become Episode 64 and Episode 65.
    • Getting up super early to interview Dominique Top was really fun as was interviewing others like Manny Sidhu, Louise Bunyan, and Phil Monk. Many times Nick and John would record with a guest in the evening, but these shows were recorded during different times of the day. Maybe there is a different energy since these shows were recorded at a different time of day?
    • The stinger at the end of the second Don Jones episode cracks Nick up every time he hears it (end of Episode 138).
    • Nick enjoyed meeting some of the guests on the show that he had never met in person like Stephanie Wong and Phil Monk. Nick missed meeting Tom Hatch this year at VMware Explore by a couple of hours.
    • There was an episode Nick and John had to record twice because they didn’t hit the record button the first time when they were together at VMware Explore one year (2019 we think).
    • Nick has enjoyed keeping in touch with guests since they have been on the show.
      • He cites getting Jimmy Tassin and David Klee involved in some SpiceCorps meetings.
    • So many lessons learned on the podcast ended up applying to Nick’s personal life.
      • He cites using the smart notes methodology (lessons learned from Josh Duffney) to help his daughter write a research paper.
      • When we learn something from someone it’s good to reach out and share with that person what we learned from them.
        • Nick mentions e-mailing and even talking to Jonathan F on the phone regarding the burnout story from Episode 132.
        • Nick also cites e-mail chats with Evan Oldford, Chris Wahl, Ramzi Marjaba, Amy Hervey, and many more to ask questions after the fact.
    • Nick has really enjoyed the off air conversations he and John have had as well as those off air conversations with guests (covering a wide range of topics).
    • Nick really enjoyed getting to do the presentation this year at VMware Explore 2022. See Episode 190 for more of how that came to be.
      • It was interesting to structure the presentation in a way that fit both his and John’s styles and personalities.
      • The duo also got to do a version of this presentation for the VMUG UserCon India in September 2022.
      • Nick had a chance to deliver an updated version of the presentation in Dallas a few weeks ago, and Joe Houghes (a recent guest of ours) attended. It was such an encouragement to see Joe there and hear him ask questions.
    • John says any time he and Nick have been able to spend time in person together whether they were doing something podcast related or not has been great.
      • The physical distance between Texas and California kind of precludes a tight relationship unless you happen to be doing a project with that person.
      • Nick and John probably talked once or twice per year before starting the podcast. And after starting the podcast it became at least once per week and often every day / few days.
    • You can see the difference in the way John and Nick’s brains work here since John mentioned guests and Nick mentioned things surrounding the show. The reason you have more than one person on a project is to get complementary things out of it.

28:35 – What We Learned

  • John
    • In the last 100 episodes John had some thoughts crystalize around the idea of career performance (steps and elements to get better at doing one’s job and advance in one’s career, etc.).
      • Doing the session at VMware Explore forced John to dive into show notes and extract a lot of the advice into patterns (which we extracted into roughly 4 categories represented by 4 books).
        • This was a first experience with Zettelkasten. Kudos to John for giving the presentation some structure with this methodology (allowed us to quickly extract advice from guests that could be generalized). It subsequently spurred on John’s commitment to smart notes
    • Getting exposed to and reading Deep Work was a massive, eye opening shift for John (thinking about attention and concentration as premiums). Uninterrupted time can be the most difficult and hard working time in our jobs as knowledge workers.
    • Talking with Josh Duffney about smart notes, exposure to the Obsidian software, and the idea of publishing or showing your work is something we’ve adopted.
    • Fatherhood is difficult. John’s daughter was born about 7 months before the recording of this episode.
  • Nick
    • Per our discussions in Episode 128, Nick had to learn how to edit during this set of 100 episodes after John had edited the first 112 episodes.
      • Nick did everything he could at first to avoid learning how to edit until he had no choice.
      • Nick had to learn a lot of lessons about protecting time for the show. It became something important to spend time on during the course of each week. Not that it wasn’t before he learned to edit, but it became even more important after becoming the editor.
      • When you work on personal projects like this, you will reach points where it gets harder. You have to then decide if you are going to continue to keep putting in the work to keep it going. It got more challenging for Nick from a time pressure standpoint as life became more "normal" again.
      • It became difficult to get ahead and stay ahead of the release pipeline. Nick was determined not to miss a release (which happens weekly), and so far he’s hit that goal (and has been super stubborn about it).
      • Nick had to rearrange some things to support this. His family has been fully supportive of this choice and even at times has held him accountable.
      • Even though Saturdays are usually spent on the show, Nick may not have the brain power to work on it for the entire day. He’s learning to try not to do it all on the weekend to manage energy better.
    • Nick spoke about nearly burning out this year in Episode 179.
      • He’s been trying to make sure he gets enough rest and has been using the podcast as a creative stimulant and a form of rest (but not a form of stress).
      • Nick feels that life in general got busier and that the podcast became more challenging. You can’t let guest recruitment slip while you’re busy editing shows.
      • This necessitated a routine that Nick is still tweaking to maximize efficiency (all part of a CI / CD content pipeline).
  • You can read more detail on what Nick learned in this blog post and how the second 100 episodes for him were very different than the first.

36:15 – Underrated Episodes

40:56 – Gazing into the Future

  • John
    • Zettelkasten, John suggests taking the macro topics we have mentioned and creating a rollup note with what we have learned on the topic with a reference back to the people who have given the advice.
      • One example is advice on writing resumes (something we were asked about at VMware Explore this year). We covered this early on in our episodes, but maybe we need to ask our guests more regularly about it (especially if they have been hiring managers). We could collect the data to pull out patterns and revisit the topic every so often.
      • To take an example, here’s the structure of a resume and our thoughts on it, advice we have been given about it, and then here’s the new advice we were given. The show notes represent a snapshot in time, while a note could be more like a living document that is updated over time as new information is acquired.
      • It would be interesting to have this kind of thing for blogging, resume writing, technical presentations, interviewing, saving money, what to do if you get fired, etc. It could also be mined for questions.
      • This would be challenging but something we should tackle in the future.
  • Nick
    • To go along with deliberate practice, there is a concept of deliberate rest and a great book on the topic (Rest by Alex Soojumg-Kim Pang) that maybe we should review.
    • Continuing with different types of personas on the show would be interesting
      • We had David Babbitt on to speak about product management in Episode 195, Episode 196, and Episode 197.
      • What about people who went into data analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, project management, etc.? It is a way to showcase a number of possibilities out there.
      • Joe Houghes asked Nick what one of the biggest lessons learned from doing the podcast has been. Nick said he didn’t realize there were so many options for where a person could go next based on where they are. It never seemed like it was quite so open in terms of options until we started learning about all these people and their career paths.
      • If you as a listener have ideas about the categories of positions we’ve missed or overlooked or a guest we should have on the show, we would love to hear about it!
  • John suggests diving deeper on some of the books mentioned in our VMware Explore presentation. These are short reads with powerful main points.

47:30 – Opportunities to Improve

  • John wonders if we should consider hiring somoene to do editing and note writing for us since it is a big burden for the people doing it. Maybe we could raise the quality of the podcast by doing this and put more effort into guest recruitment and interview preparation?
    • Maybe this would allow us to get ahead or be better rested.
    • But, it seems the effort put into the show production would be expensive to replace.
    • Nick suggests that doing the editing and notes are what enables deep knowledge of our catalogue of episodes, so it would be a weird trade off.
    • Maybe we should coalesce all of our book notes in our digital garden (also known as The Nerd Journey Knowledge Graph), roll into a note, and leverage some affiliate links to buy the books. We could then use the money to spend on editing / show production.
    • Aside from that we have no idea how much it would cost to hire someone to do editing.
  • John has resolved to ask more people from Google to be guests. He has identified 5-10 people but hasn’t yet approached them about being on the show.
  • Nick thinks using less filler words will help and feel he and John have improved in this area.
    • Nick thinks back to Neil Thompson from Episode 193 and Episode 194 as an example of what good looks like here.
    • Having Neil as a guest really put a spotlight on filler word use for Nick and John.
    • Eliminating the use of filler words is a difficult skill to develop because you have to concentrate on what you want to say and pay attention to how you are saying it.

Contact us if you need help on the journey, and be sure to check out the Nerd Journey Podcast Knowledge Graph.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *