A few weeks ago, I was listening to the My First Million podcast episode where they interview David Senra of the Founders podcast. I was already a huge Founders fan, but something David said stopped me in the middle of my leg press reps. Talking about what makes podcasting such a unique medium, David said, “we’re not creating content, we’re creating relationships at scale.” In his episodes, David frequently says things like, “this is just you and I having a conversation,” but I hadn’t really thought of it in the context of creating relationships. When you listen to someone speaking extemporaneously for that much time, at that level of depth, you really feel like you get to know them. And when you boil down what he’s really doing — reading books, taking notes, making connections, and sharing them through one-to-many conversations — I suddenly thought: this is something I must try.
While I have never done a podcast before, I have sort of assisted one. During the pandemic, my daughter produced a 40-episode podcast on personal finance geared towards teenagers. She did all the heavy lifting of researching material, writing scripts, and recording episodes. But I helped her get the website up and running and learned about the mechanics of podcasting along the way. And I still have a pretty decent microphone and preamp from my music production days, so I’m not worried about any technical hurdles.
What would my podcast be about? In the book, The Dhandho Investor by Mohnish Pabrai, he recommends investing in copycats over innovators. And for his own business, he took the approach of shamelessly cloning the structure of the original Warren Buffett fund. Why mess with success? I’m not saying I’m going to do a podcast on entrepreneurs. That is quite a well-worn topic in the podcasting space, and David Senra does it so passionately. But I do think there’s room for a slightly more niche focus on the inspiring stories of interesting people who have had a great impact on many of the companies David talks about: the product designers. These are the people behind the people behind the great products and companies we know and love. So not Founders, but like Founders, for product designers.
Why this topic and why now? As I explain in my “coming soon” pitch, we’ve gone through two periods of rapid technological advancement that have dramatically increased the scale at which products and services can help (and sometimes not help) people: first the Industrial Age and then the Internet Age. I believe we are now entering the AI Age, and it will be critical for us to leverage the lessons of the past and avoid the mistakes we’ve made before. Amazing technology and global reach are not enough. We need people with a vision of the future that places human values and needs at the center of our aspirations. And designers, with their focus on human behavior and all the messiness it entails, are well-positioned to sketch out this vision.
So I’m working on the first episode now and aim to release it in early June. It will be about one of my favorites, a founding father of American industrial design: Henry Dreyfuss. If you want to be notified specifically about the launch of the podcast, you can sign up on the pitch page linked above. Otherwise, I’ll share here and other channels when it’s out.