Jason Gillikin
CEO & Executive Podcast Producer, Earfluence
About the Author
As the CEO and Executive Producer at Earfluence, Jason Gillikin gets to hear experts tell their stories for a living! Having come from a digital marketing background, Jason thrives on amplifying Earfluence podcasts to reach their most impactful audiences. Jason finds inspiration in the storytelling of Wondery, the preparation of Guy Raz, the determination of his wife (also a podcast host), and the curiosity of his three daughters.

The Rise of Earfluence

(The Rise of Earfluence Whitepaper by Donald Thompson)

Letter from the CEO:

In my meetings and conversations with Donald Thompson, I’ve heard his passion for finding innovative ways to make the businesses he works with and their clients more valuable. And once he gets going, you better be ready with a notepad or a laptop or a recorder because the ideas and nuggets of wisdom are coming at you fast!

Now one of the reasons that we connected is that we both shared a vision for podcasting as a completely underutilized form of marketing for businesses. We knew that making the right podcast – and delivering that podcast to the right audience – can inspire a community to action. When you add in the flexibility of podcasting, the ability to tell stories, and the versatility of evergreen audio content, businesses that are podcasting are taking advantage of a powerful medium.

With all of the ideas that Donald has from our meetings, I asked him to write a blog post about why he decided to get involved in podcasting and the benefits to businesses. So he did – except you can’t stop this guy and you don’t want to contain him – so that blog post turned into the whitepaper you can see by clicking the link below.

A couple takeaways from a business podcast perspective:

  1.  70 percent of podcast listeners report giving their full attention to the content, since they are listening to learn, stay up-to-date, or be entertained or inspired. 
  2. The average podcast listener is 35. Along with video, podcasting is a can’t miss when a brand needs to appeal directly to a younger generation of purchasers and decision-makers. Podcasts offer advertisers access to an audience that is perceived to be hard to find: Gen Z and millennials.


How I Partnered with Donald Thompson to Form Earfluence

Looking back, partnering with Donald Thompson was bound to happen. There were too many coincidences and connections to ignore.

I’ve known about Walk West since before the beginning, when it was “O3 Creative”. I first met founder Brian Onorio back in the fall of 2009. He took me to a UNC vs. NC State football game, a bold move since I graduated from UNC and Brian is a rabid Wolfpack fan. While we disagreed on which team to root for, we bonded over digital marketing and web design. I could see that he was building something special.

We stayed in touch over the years, but never worked together in an official capacity. I bounced crazy ideas for new ventures off of him every so often. We sometimes collaborated, but never landed on anything concrete.

I heard of Donald Thompson in 2016 when I read a press release about Walk West’s new CEO. I could tell this was a huge step forward for the company. Then came all their new hires, including YouTube stars Kim & Penn Holderness. When news anchor Sharon Delaney McCloud  joined the team, I wondered what in the world was going on. I knew Brian had partnered with a CEO who could make things happen.

Shortly after Walk West took off, I started producing podcasts. I was immediately hooked.  I’ve been in the digital marketing space since 2005, and saw podcasting as a way to market a business. Podcasting lets you tell stories, show off expertise, and develop team camaraderie.  It was, and still is, an underutilized marketing platform that I wanted to be a part of.

My connections with Walk West were adding up. Last year, my wife, Megan, was one of the first guests on Kim and Penn Holderness’ podcast. Then they were guests on Megan’s podcast, which I produce. I’ve had the chance to work with them and see their incredible talent up close. This year, Sharon Delaney McCloud was a guest on my podcast, Beyond the Obituary. She showed incredible poise and talent, and was a natural being on the mic. I was starting to realize that I needed to work with this group in some capacity.



After 12 years at my digital marketing job, I started my own podcast production company called Happy Hippo Digital. I wanted to team up with an agency to provide them with a podcasting service they could offer their clients. Lo and behold, Donald already had his own podcast, Hustle Unlimited. I reached out to him on LinkedIn, and we set up a meeting right away. Little did Donald know that he was already a client of mine (kinda). He was about to get married, and my wife’s company, A Southern Soiree, was working with him and his fiancée  to plan the event! After so many connections, it felt like something needed to happen.

After our meeting, I knew our vision aligned in a lot of ways. We are passionate about podcasting moving the needle for businesses. We agree that it is an underutilized platform. After our conversation, Donald decided that he wanted me to produce an episode of his podcast. Donald is a risk-taker, but a calculated risk-taker. He likes to give people a chance, but tests things out first to see what works. In that episode, I talked to Donald about his latest ebook, Driving Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace. I could see that he was passionate about his ideas, and that this passion translated to every area of his life.

Donald Thompson on his book, “Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Shortly after recording, Donald said he wanted me to produce Hustle Unlimited. The only problem was that I was talking with a local media conglomerate about taking a podcasting role with them.  In many ways, that role was my dream job. It allowed me to use my digital marketing background to improve current podcasts and create many more. I was going to take the offer and, unfortunately, decline working on Hustle Unlimited.

I told Donald about the other offer, and he understood. But he could see that there was one big part of the job that was nagging at me – it was just another job. A good job, and maybe a dream job, but I would still be working for someone else. I had left a stable job earlier in the year to follow my passion of creating something for myself and being my own boss. And I just wasn’t ready to give that up.

Donald, a visionary and problem solver, created a way I could be my own boss, have access to the companies and talent I needed, and build a broader network. As he was jotting ideas down, I knew. I knew that this was going to happen. The experience Donald has in growing businesses and my passion for podcasting created the perfect conditions for this partnership.

That vision  is now Earfluence. Donald and I have partnered up and teamed up with an incredibly talented group of business development, podcasting, and media experts (Board of Advisors Sharon Delaney McCloud, Javier Leiva, and Akinwole Garrett), to  grow communities and companies through podcasting and digital marketing strategy. As a business, you need to expand your brand for more opportunities. You need to expand your earfluence.

We want to use our unique experiences and expertise to take you there.

For more information on Earfluence, or to start your own podcast, shoot me an email to


Six Reasons Your Business Needs a Podcast

Over the past couple of years, you’ve probably been in a meeting or two where someone on the team brings up podcasting. “We should be podcasting!” they say with excitement. 

And why not? Everyone seems to have a list of podcasts that they recommend to you, and the popularity of podcast listening is growing every day. And with some decent equipment, there are no barriers to entry to start up a podcast.  If over 700,000 people have already figured out how to podcast, surely your team can too.

So the idea gets green-lit to be researched further and to come up with a concept.  You’re excited about the endless possibilities and the ability to get your message out there in a different format! 

But then business happens. You’re putting out fires, improving the customer experience, running trainings, and marketing your business in media that you know will have an impact on the bottom line.

Doubts creep in. Who would host the podcast? What are the goals? What if we run out of content?  Who’s the audience? Are they really going to listen? Do we do ads? Do we need to build a studio?

That one-time great idea, “We should be podcasting!” quickly fades into “Didn’t you bring that up already?” a few months later.

At Earfluence, we want to fix that for you. Let’s start with why “We should be podcasting!” IS a great idea, and then we’ll get into a few basic tips on how to get started.

So here we go, 6 reasons why businesses SHOULD be podcasting:

  1. Establish Your Expertise. You know your stuff. You know you know your stuff. But do your clients know for sure that you know your stuff?  Podcasting makes it easy to show that you have the industry knowledge to make current clients realize they made the right decision, and make potential clients wonder why they haven’t been working with you already. Think about the following potential podcasts:

  • The pediatrician who podcasts on frequent questions parents ask (“Should I try chiropractic care for my kids?”, “When will my child sleep through the night?”,  “How do I teach my child to be polite?”, “What are the risks of using antibiotics too frequently?”). All of these are valuable episodes for parents who are then comfortable taking their children to this pediatrician.  
  • The lawyer who podcasts on the intricacies of interesting cases and digs deeper than what the media provides (Why did the Supreme Court rule the way they did in Roe v Wade, Miranda v Arizona, Brown v Board…, What were the arguments of the McDonald’s Coffee Case that led to millions awarded)
  • The travel agent who interviews clients on the places they’ve been (Tell me about your trip to Bora Bora and what you would do differently…)

Every one of those potential podcasts would show expertise. In nearly every industry, podcasting can be a way to show why clients SHOULD be working with you.  Plus, if you’re looking to expand your personal or company brand into teaching, speaking, or consulting opportunities, podcasting provides a means for that path as well.

2. Tell Your Story. You have a website with an about section. You have a Facebook page and other social media. Both of these allow you to tell your carefully crafted story about the history of the company. Which is great, you need that. But with podcasting, you have an opportunity to tell your story over a long period of time. With every episode, you’ll tell stories about the time you solved that one client’s problem, or that critical conversation you had with an employee, or that one time the company went out to karaoke.  These stories humanize your business and make it attractive and fun to both clients and potential employees.

3. Build Company Morale. With a branded podcast, you have the opportunity to – and probably should – involve your employees. They are likely experts at what they do as well, and bringing them on to share that expertise is an easy way to build loyalty and camaraderie.  Or, if you’re a larger company, you could even create an entire podcast that’s devoted to profiling your employees. Each week, a new employee is profiled so the whole company learns more about that person. Employees would listen, learn something about their colleagues, and all of a sudden you will have created a huge potential recruiting tool.

4. Networking & Actual Conversations with Interesting People. One of the quickest ways to build listenership of a podcast is to bring on guests.  And those guests tend to be people in your field who you respect, and who you’ve probably had some passing conversations with at networking events or trade shows, but you’ve never sat down with them for an extended conversation and really had the chance to get to know them.  With podcasting, you’ll sit down for an hour or so with the person who wrote that book, or who gave that great presentation at that seminar last month, or that CEO who you’ve always wanted to talk to but never really had a reason. With podcasting, now you do.

5. Introduce New Categories, Product Launches, Or Opportunities. Want to let everyone know about a new product you have coming out? Or that you’re hiring, and you don’t want to go through job boards or recruiters?  Or that you’re putting together a seminar and would like the listeners to attend? With podcasting, you already have the audience to easily get the word out, and you don’t necessarily have to pay other channels to let your clients know what’s going on in your business.

6. Create Evergreen Content. The podcast episodes that you create will be around for years, and your clients will seek out topics covered from old episodes. Plus, podcast content can be re-purposed into blog posts, pull-quotes, video content, and social media posts.  Getting your podcast out there on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pandora, Google Podcasts, and all of the podcast apps is great, but there are so many more opportunities to use that content to get in front of your audience.

So as a business, is podcasting right for you?  You’re the expert. Your audience could be listening to your advice, direction and perspective. The question is, are you going to take advantage of this platform?  Or leave the leverage to your competitors?

Now I promised a few simple steps to get started in podcasting.

  1. Figure out the main goal. Is it to showcase your expertise and build demand for your product or service? Is it to have conversations with potential clients that you wouldn’t have in a normal sales setting? Is it to sell ads?  Having this goal as a guiding light throughout the podcasting process is key to success. It’s easy to fill air space, but you need to remember WHY you’re having the conversation.
  2. Know your audience. When you’re recording, who are you really talking to?  Is it potential employees? Is it your current clients? Is it students?
  3. Just Get Started!  Go find some guests! Hit the record button. Figure out what your podcast is all about. You know all the reasons why (see reasons above). 

And if this all overwhelming, give us a call at 919-260-0759 or email us at!