Why you should start a podcast, with Earfluence’s Jason Gillikin

With over 2 million podcasts available, why would it make sense for anyone to start a new one and try to filter through all the noise?  As Earfluence CEO Jason Gillikin explains, it’s not about making viral hits. Podcasting for business is about networking, building a content engine, and amplifying your expertise. His advice? “Just Press Record.”

Transcript

Don Thompson: Welcome to the Don Thompson podcast. I have today, a good friend, of mine business partner, and CEO of Earfluence: Mr. Jason Gillikin. Jason, welcome to the show 

Jason Gillikin: DT the man with the impeccable strategy. The man with relentless energy. How are you? 

Don Thompson: I’m doing good. I’ve been looking forward to this chat all week and letting us just get a chance to chop it up and really not only talk about Earfluence and have folks get to know you, but really the theme is why people need to lean into podcasting, right, as a part of their growth engine for their business.

But before we dive in, I want everybody to get to know Jason a little bit. Tell me a little bit about the family. You’re a girl dad, right? 

Jason Gillikin: I’m a girl, dad. Yeah. 

Don Thompson: That’s a hashtag and a thing. Talk to me a little bit about your family, where you’re from brothers and sisters, things like that. 

Jason Gillikin: Yeah, man, I appreciate it.

So I grew up in Michigan, one brother, one sister. Came down here for college to Carolina in 1997. And there was no way I was going back. Michigan is cold, but more than that, it is gray and there are a lot of potholes there. And I came down here and it is sunny. It is nice, the people are nice. I like Raleigh.

And so there was no way I was going back. I met my wife in 2009, got married in 2010 and we have three lovely, crazy daughters. They are eight, six and three. Yeah. I am very blessed. 

Don Thompson: That is awesome. When I think about families in general, but really when your kids are young, I think about that ultimate motivation because you are their everything.

And the infrastructure you set up for them helps develop and determine how they’re going to be able to catapult in life. And so that’s awesome, obviously, knowing you, knowing you well and getting to see the kids grow up and Facebook and different things. I’m always good for a smile. When I see the Gillikins, get down with the family stuff going on.

Jason Gillikin: Yeah. My wife was posting things all the time on Facebook. She’ll post about those sisters getting in a fight and then they’re hugging each other and looking miserable, doing that. 

Don Thompson: I want to interrupt just for a minute. Cause that’s important. Share that one family philosophy, if that’s okay about Megan, making sure the girls hug it out.

Jason Gillikin: So they’re not always going to get along, but they have to love each other. Right. And so that’s the thing. They’re not always going to be best of friends, but family is always going to be there. And so we need to make sure that we impart that on them, that the family is always going to be there for each other.

Don Thompson: That is good stuff. So now when we talk career and transition a little bit to business, talk to me about what led you to starting Earfluence or thinking that podcast creation community development is something that an entrepreneur could do and build by providing those services for others. 

Jason Gillikin: Yeah, that’s a really good question.

So I graduated from Carolina in 2001 and just kind of a windy road. I even played full-time professional poker for a couple of years, landed on a job in 2007 that I kept for 12 years and it was in the digital marketing space. So we were doing SEO pay-per-click management, things like that for our clients, mostly in the e-commerce space.

So 2019 rolls around, I’m really getting into podcasting, just how I built this and serial podcasts and some of the storytelling and just amazing things that you could do with podcasting. And I just loved it. So I convinced the team at the company I was working with to start a podcast. And I said, I would do it and we can start this podcast and it can be about how our clients built up their businesses.

So great storytelling, great marketing for them. Great marketing for us as well, because it’s a way for them to say, Oh, this is a company that can create a podcast for me when I’m signing up with them to do our e-commerce work. But the company didn’t really share the vision. I wanted to reach out to other people and use it more as a networking engine.

They didn’t really want that. And that’s okay. It was their business, but at the same time, I had started a podcast for Megan, my wife, and she’s a wedding planner. What we found really quickly was it cemented her as a thought leader in the space. So in the wedding industry, she is, and this has been going on for two and a half years now.

But it happened fast where she’s a thought leader in weddings and she’s able to consult with wedding pros. And since then she has pivoted her part of the business to be more. Vendor education. And she’s got her own online education platform and she is a consultant speaker sought after for those bigger wedding networking events.

So I saw that and I was starting to get antsy 12 years at a company, that is a long time. And I was always doing something on the side trying to hone that entrepreneurial spirit. And I said, okay, I’ve got to go out on my own. I’m going to do this podcasting thing. But what’s interesting is I liked the storytelling so much more than the business aspect.

And then that’s kind of shifted and we can get into that here in a little bit. So I went out on my own and one time I was driving by a graveyard and I saw all these gravestones, all these headstones. And I said, every single one of those headstones is a story that needs to be told, but how can I do that?

How can we make that happen from a business perspective? And so I went to a funeral home and said, Hey, I have an idea for his podcast about the people that come into your funeral home and we can share their story. So their family can come in and say, this is a story of this person, and this is something that can be passed down for years and years.

And you could have so much more than a one-page obituary. And they loved it. And so that was the first client that I sold per se, on a podcast concept and then sold the concept to Deepak. So anyway, it’s a long windy road, but I love the storytelling part of it, but how it can be impactful for business as well.

Don Thompson: So when you think about podcasting as a communication vehicle, business growth engine, How do you answer the question when someone says, well, everybody’s got a podcast now, so therefore there’s no space for me. How do you educate a business owner that they should still think about the positive aspects of building that as a part of their marketing mix?

Jason Gillikin: So getting back to where I was with that journey and working with Deepak and working with the funeral home, I wanted to partner with a marketing company to make this bigger. And so I reached out on LinkedIn to you and you had a podcast at the time and we met. And one of the things that you told me, I asked you, what are your goals for the pocket?

It’s the same thing I ask everybody when they say they want to start a podcast. And you said to me, This is about networking and business development, as one of your reasons for doing it. It was something that I hadn’t really thought of before. I could understand how it could sell tickets to a show at Deepak. I could see how it could be attractive for somebody for announcements, but I never thought of it in a way that you could reach out to somebody, Hey, do you want to be on my podcast? And all of a sudden, that’s a way to get to know them much more so than meeting them for two minutes at a networking event, or trying to call them up and pitch them your services.

If it’s do you want to come on my podcast that is so much more powerful than trying to make a cold call or even a warm call. And all of a sudden you have an amazing conversation with somebody. So there’s a million podcasts out there. And it’s really hard to break through that noise. It’s really hard to get in people’s ears because they have so much to listen to, but then there’s so many reasons why you need one.

Part of that is networking. Part of that is your potential. Clients are going to vet you because you have a podcast. Let me tell you one story of a client that I have. They said they have a podcast. And even before the podcast launched, when they were reaching out to potential clients to be on their podcast, they reached out. And all of a sudden that turned into a $30,000 deal for them. Just by saying, do you want to be on my podcast? I mean, it wasn’t that they had a podcast per se, but it started the conversation and they started to get to know each other and a discovery call process. And then all of a sudden it was like, Oh, you know what? I do need some of your services. And it turned into a big contract for them. 

Don Thompson: I mean, that’s just really powerful at the end of the day, people do business with people that they know and trust. So then how do you build trust in a pandemic? How do you build trust in this new digital space where everything’s online and we don’t really pick up the phone and talk to each other. And what if you’re not a golfer, right. That’s been in for hours on the golf course to get to know somebody, but that 45 minutes where you’re really digging into it and authentically interested in what that person has to say is a way to build that relationship. And the other thing Jason, that I’ve found is that you’re also giving that business owner something of value.

Because they can take that content and do so many things with it. Share a little bit about what you can do from having a base podcast and then how you can spin that up and really supercharge your marketing there. 

Jason Gillikin: Yeah, absolutely. And let me go back to that golf thing and you were telling me one time podcasts are the new golf, right?

There’s very few people that have four or five hours right now in these busy lives that we have. To be out on a golf course, but it’s so much easier to say, Hey, do you want to come on my podcast? And that’s a new going out for a four or five hours on the golf. 

But the content engine piece, there are just so many things that you can do with the content that you’re creating. And every time that we’re doing a podcast, we are transcribing it. So on the Earfluence website is a transcription of all of our podcasts for our clients. We can give them this transcript. So that they can use it for so many different pieces. Now, what could they use it for? Well, they can create premium blog posts around this content. They can create white papers around this content. They can create video, they can create social media posts around this content. And all of a sudden it’s something that just this podcast can live on and there can be an echo chamber around it. And so much more than just a 30 minute podcast or one hour podcast or whatever it might be.

Now the other thing, Don, is for every 30 minute episode, it’s about 6,000 words of content. Now a 200 page book is about 60,000 words. What that means is for every 10 episodes, you in a sense have written a 200 page book of content. And you could, if you wanted to, repurpose that content for a book, so that’s something for you. But as you’re trying to write a book and books down the line, you’re like, wait a minute here. I’ve got all this content already. I’ve done 70 episodes. I could write a book or two about this. 

Don Thompson: That is awesome. And it brings it into every business owner leader might not be a business for profit, but leader is looking how to scale their activity. Right. And what you just said very clearly is a way that you can scale your marketing activity through using podcasts. What are some of the things that it takes to do a successful podcast? 

Jason Gillikin: Anybody can do a podcast, right? It’s pretty easy. I encourage anybody to press the record button and just see what you have for a podcast.

But as far as making it successful, You really need a plan. You need a plan in place to figure out what you have and you need to know what are my goals for this podcast? Is it to show off my expertise? Is it to create a content engine? Is it for networking purposes? Maybe I have another plan in place where I can launch a membership site or a course.

And I want to go ahead and make sure that I have these people, this audience in place that I can go ahead and reach out to them when I’m ready to, to launch this course. So what is a strategy behind that? So you need that plan, but then you also need to know who your audience is. So for example, Megan’s podcast weddings for real, she gets a fair amount of listens every single week of her episode, but it is mostly wedding pros. And so it’s very niche. She doesn’t get hundreds of thousands of downloads, but this week we just recorded with somebody that’s coming out with a new Netflix show called marriage or mortgage. And the concept is these couples only have a certain budget and they can spend it on either their wedding or they can spend it on a down payment, on a house. And so Megan talked to the wedding planner from the show and the realtor from this show and they just kind of debated on what’s more important, the marriage or the house, but the whole point of that is that kind of gets away from the audience.

Like it could fit. But honestly, for that one, we were just having fun with it because we know the audience and 99% of her episodes are all about what is the wedding, vendor education part of it? How can I help educate these wedding pros? Same thing with something like the dental experience podcast. Yes, we do a podcast for a guy who’s talking about upleveling dentists, the dental businesses.

It’s not a podcast that’s going to have a hundred thousand, 200,000, 300,000 downloads, but he is narrowing it down to those people that will want it. And that way he has that captive, specific audience that can be valuable to him and whatever he’s doing, or potential advertisers that are also going right to the dental industry.

Don Thompson: I think he made a great point. I mean, one of the terms that people hear a lot about, but they don’t know how to think about it in practice is micro-targeting your audience. And that’s really what you’re talking about and then becoming a micro influencer. Right? How do you serve that audience? What are you thinking is the next level for this podcasting space. When you think about innovation, you think about growth and think about what’s next. What are some of the things you’re seeing, where some of the trends that you believe are important in this space? 

Jason Gillikin: I think at Earfluence, we do a really good job of creating podcasts for our clients, but there’s so much more that we’re doing, but we need to start doing it better. What I mean by that is in creating these podcasts, we’re creating this content engine. We’re doing all those things that I mentioned, but how do we start to come up with premium content for our clients? Like those premium blog posts, getting into books. How do we make sure that we’re doing that?

How do we start to utilize video more so than we’re doing now? Especially as things are starting to open up a little bit and people are going to want to start to meet more. What are some of the creative things that we can do with video? I think another thing that we need to do better with is just outreach for our clients and getting them on other podcasts.

So that is something that even if you don’t have a podcast right now, you should be going and pitching yourself to other podcasts. So you can start to get those reps. I actually ran into Mike Glennon yesterday, quarterback for NC state, played for the Jacksonville Jaguars, probably been in the league for five, six years or so random yesterday. And we were just talking about podcasting and he’s like, man, I think I would want a podcast at some point, but how do I even get started with, and I was like, You just need to reach out to other podcasts out there and start to get those reps because he wants to be in the media space at some point, right after he retires, you just need to get those reps and then get comfortable with podcasting.

And then all of a sudden you’re like, Oh, okay. I know what I can do. I have an idea for what my podcasts could be, but let’s go ahead and execute it now. 

Don Thompson: I mean, that’s powerful and selfish plug. There’s a guy I know that would love to have him on as a guest. And help him get some of those reps. 

When you think about lessons learned things that didn’t go quite right. And then what you’ve done to now elevate and expand from that. Talk to the audience about some things that have gone arrived. 

Jason Gillikin: I mean, there’s so many lessons learned. I think the things that when they go awry are when we don’t plan out as much as we should, when the client is saying, I need this podcast by a certain time and we make that happen, but we don’t have the full launch strategy in place.

And so the podcast happens, but it’s one of those things where it could have been so much bigger if we had waited a little bit. And then come up with a better strategy for it. So that’s something where as a leader, I need to be better at pushing back on our clients and saying, listen, I know you want it on this date and we can do that, but here’s the optimal strategy to go on about this.

And that’s something that I’m getting much better at, but in the beginning, it’s hard to do, right? You want to make sure that you’re appeasing your clients. But now that we’ve done 20 podcasts, like close to 500 episodes, it’s one of those things where I can much more confidently say, no, this is how to do it. This is what we recommend. 

Don Thompson: All right. So you threw some metrics out. I want to restate those cause that’s pretty cool. Cause Earfluence hasn’t been in business for like 10 years, 20 years, et cetera. How many episodes do you have under your belt across the different clients? 

Jason Gillikin: Last year, so 2020 we did 247 episodes, 18 clients.

This year, we’ve added five new podcasts. And then overall from mid 2019 to now it’s probably close to 500. 

Don Thompson: That’s awesome. 

Jason Gillikin: Yeah. 

Don Thompson: One of the things that I know as an entrepreneur and a business leader is you can’t master something you’re not willing to consistently work on and develop. And that means that at 500 podcasts, somebody that’s starting with you now is going to get the advantage, the insight, the wisdom of all of those other clients now wrapped into what you’re recommending that they do. And that’s a powerful testimony to what you’re developing and what you’re learning. 

Jason Gillikin: Yeah. Yeah. Thanks. I appreciate it. And learning all the time. We both know David Gardner, right. He brought the startup hats and we actually did an audio book for him on the startup hats, which was so much fun to do.

Great guy. I need him to write the, how to take those hats off book, because that is the hard part right now is yes, I was able to put on all these hats and do all these things to make the business right, and to make the podcast great. But at the same time, like I need to figure out how to make sure and trust the members of my team to do all those other things so that I can truly grow the company.

So that’s another lesson learned and I really hope he writes that book. 

Don Thompson: No. That’s awesome. Tell me a little bit about one of the innovations, now the pandemic didn’t allow it to shine the way that you had hoped, but the innovation is powerful in of itself. You did a podcast where you brought together angel investors, emerging entrepreneurs. Talk about that idea, that innovation that you developed. 

Jason Gillikin: Yeah. Oh, it was so good. I had this idea for a long time. I wanted to create like a shark tank for the Raleigh area, because there’s so much innovation in this area. There’s so many great ideas that just aren’t quite getting funded.

And then you look at, okay, 2% of all the venture capital goes to female founders. The numbers are dismal for underrepresented entrepreneurs, whether that’s racially underrepresented or being women or anything like that, they’re dismal. It is so much better for people who look like me as a white man. So we wanted to create something that was like the shark tank for this area for underrepresented entrepreneurs.

We got eight entrepreneurs together. We did it over two days and we had five investors. So you are one, Grant Willard, Tim McLaughlin, Robbie Hardy, and Keith Daniels heard these pitches from these entrepreneurs. And it was so great. And we put eight episodes together. There was supposed to be like a big event at the end and I had this grand vision for one of those big fat checks being handed out. Right. But the stories themselves were cool. There weren’t so many great follow-up stories to tell because of the pandemic, the money was getting a little bit tight from the investors at that point. And I don’t think anybody would have wanted to come to a live event right then. 

Don Thompson: I appreciate you sharing that because independent of some of the road blocks of it, it really is the thoughtfulness to follow through. And I’ll tell a quick story. So one of the folks that pitched, we didn’t end up making an investment, but I was on a phone call yesterday and heard a similar idea.

But because you pulled us together, because we heard those pitches, I connected these two entrepreneurs. They’re talking next week about how they can potentially partner together and see if they can’t create this vision. 

Jason Gillikin: That’s awesome. 

Don Thompson: One of the things that in, when you’re working with underrepresented communities, it’s not that the great ideas don’t exist.

But the networks to connect to other partners, to other co-founders, to other money sources. And I just want to commend you for what you did created that environment. And everybody can lean into diversity equity inclusion in that way. 

Jason Gillikin: Yeah. And I want to keep taking swings like that. I always have these ideas and as a company, I want to take these swings at hitting the home run and come up with something that’s amazing.

And that’s something that I learned, well, playing poker, honestly, you can go ahead and grind it out. And over a hundred thousand hands, if you’re making the right decisions, you can find the people that aren’t going to be as smart, make a bad decisions, and you can make some money. You can eke out a living from that, cool. The people that are at the top of that, those are the risk takers. Those are the ones that are willing to take a swing at things. Those are the ones who are willing to do. Not crazy ideas, but willing to do those things that are going to go against the grain. Those are the ones that have the ability to be elite.

And so I want to keep taking those swings like that.

Don Thompson: Let’s dive into that a little bit, because I don’t know much about poker, but I know elite performers and those characteristics. Let’s dial back and think about poker, a card game that people play for money. What are some of those characteristics? Between the halves, those elite levels and those things that people are piddling around and they’re going to consistently lose money. What are some of those differences? 

Jason Gillikin: It’s discipline. You can look at poker and just say, I’m going to go ahead and have fun with it and cool. That’s great. Same thing with making a podcast. You can just have fun with it. Good on you. That’s fun. Go for it. There are those that are much more disciplined and can make the right decisions with those hands that you’re getting.

And when you’re getting thousands of hands, it’s hard to do. Those are ones that are going to be successful. And I found that too, in running a company, you can be successful in running podcasts too. You can be successful, but the ones that know the right strategy and are doing those things that are discipline, but then understand that in order to win this tournament in order to win this event, in order to be the best at this table, I’ve got to take chances with this, and I’ve got to use that discipline and just go ahead and try to make it the best that I can and taking those risks.

Don Thompson: Do you think that being a risk taker is something you’re born with, or can you develop a higher risk tolerance? And I’m talking poker business life… 

Jason Gillikin: It’s both because I was born a risk taker, but as you go through your life, you start to realize, okay, I’ve got these responsibilities as well that I need to take care of.

And so maybe you can’t take as much risk as you want to, but at the same time, then you’re like, wait a minute here, I’ve only got one life to live and I need to make sure that I’m living it to its full potential. So like in my family right now, We are risk takers for sure. My wife runs two businesses. I run one business. It is full throttle in a pandemic. It’s been pretty crazy. That’s for sure. 

Don Thompson: I appreciate that answer. I think that risk is about perspective. When I think about my personal walk. I am a managed risk taker. For example, when I’m betting on businesses, I want to bet on businesses that I’m involved in. I may miss out on the next game, stock explosion, or whatever’s happening on the stock market, but I like to take my risks with things I can see that I can work with that. At least I can manage the risk by helping those entrepreneurs make disciplined decisions. If it works great, let’s replicate it, let’s do more. If it doesn’t work, we at least have that learning. I put my money in the stock market and it doesn’t work. I didn’t learn anything 

Jason Gillikin: You’re an investor, and you’re not looking for a lifestyle business. You’re looking for somebody that is willing to take those risks so that you can get your, whatever you’re looking for. 5 X return, 10 X return. One day you get your bag, as CC Huffman on my team would say, and you get the a hundred X returns.

So you, you are taking those risks as you’re doing that. 

Don Thompson: One of the things that I wanted to ask you, and I’ve been thinking about this all week, you get to hear a lot of these podcasts because your team’s doing the editing. 

Jason Gillikin: Yeah. 

Don Thompson: So you’re getting a masterclass in all of these different stories, storytelling, business, ups, and downs. What are some of the biggest things you learned from listening to these and working with these 500 podcasts? 

Jason Gillikin: That’s a good one. And my advice to all my clients, I love to tell them this and they think it’s funny and it’s great advice, is: record drunk, edit sober. So what that means is you need to have the attitude that you’re just loose and you are going ahead and just having a conversation and letting go of that you’ve got a mic right in front of you and making sure that you’re asking the guests, hey, we can always cut this out, but I have to ask. So all those things that get to that next level of storytelling and get to that next level of pulling information out of the guest, that’s something that the great ones can do and it’s hard to do.

And then if it’s something that you can’t use, you can just always edit it out. So that’s edit sober. So record drunk, edit sober. 

Don Thompson: Awesome. So I want to ask the same question, but a different slice of that question. So that’s some of the things you’ve learned to share with your clients. What are some of the business tips? What are some of the life experience, things and stories that have moved you in some of the podcasts that you’ve been a part of? 

Jason Gillikin: I would say working the diversity movement personally has been really powerful. We do the diversity beyond the checkbox podcast and as a white middle-aged guy who was working with other white middle-aged guys, primarily, it’s not something that I really thought of too much previously. And like, there was nothing bad. I wasn’t racist by any means, but I just wasn’t thinking about those things. Right. I wasn’t thinking about the things that were just unfair that were going on in this world. And working with the diversity movement, but you can immediately see the reason for the best idea wins and you need them the multitude of ideas from diverse perspectives, like Oh, light bulb. Okay. Yeah. I don’t know why. I never thought about that before. But then you start to really dive into the diversity. You can’t see all these different things like: some people are introverted. What does that mean? Some people have disabilities that you can’t see. What does that mean for work? And some people are hiding in the closet. What does that mean? They’re just so many different things. The episode that we just released this guy, he calls himself the gay leadership dude. He used to work for Disney cruise lines and he talked about doing leadership training with 52 different nationalities. So what kind of different thoughts do you get from that? How do you train 52 different nationalities together? They’re all coming from these different perspectives. So I think personally that type of work, it has meant a lot to me in my growth as a person. 

Don Thompson: That is awesome. And I think that as we think about business, entrepreneurship, innovation. One of the things that I’ve learned in working with you and working with the podcast as a medium for marketing is most people don’t understand the power of their own story.

Jason Gillikin: That’s true. 

Don Thompson: Because we’re so busy that most people aren’t given the opportunity to share a full and complete thought. We’re living this Twitter universe. 

Jason Gillikin: Yeah. 

Don Thompson: It’s hashtag universe. And when you get people and give them the space to really develop and share their own story, magic happens. 

Jason Gillikin: That’s right.

Don Thompson: Learning happens, relationships happen. And one of the things that you taught me and you said, I don’t even know if you remember this, but early on, we were talking about building the DT podcast. You’re just talking about consistency. Day one may or may not be amazing, but over a period of time, we’re going to build up a foundation and this thing’s going to rock.

And I think that long-term view, that seeds you planted about that is now why we’re approaching now close to 70, and I’m so much better than I was episode one, our process is better. But, I’m learning so much more from the guests because I’m not nervous about the actual function. I’m really intensely listening and getting that masterclass from the people I’m talking to.

Jason Gillikin: That’s awesome, man. I appreciate that. So you’ve done 70 episodes now, what has it meant to you and what have you learned from doing that? 

Don Thompson: So for me, it reinforced that you can learn something new, be bad at it in the beginning and get better over time. And as a competitive learner, That’s really my only superpower is that I’m willing to try something new and figure out how to get good at it by my own practice, but by partnering with an expert in the space like yourself, by working with Sharon McLeod and really figuring out how to learn something totally different. And then over a course of two years becoming better. And so it reinvigorated me for that next innovation, that next innovation, that next innovation, the second thing that’s super impactful is I’m telling you, I have had some of the greatest conversations that have helped me. Like to be able to talk to the founder of Alexa. And listen to Igor. Talk about the process of selling the Amazon. The process of innovating this technology to talk to Jess Lipson, who just got his newest company funded for $8 million or John Lewis and talking about diversity equity inclusion. And if I name drop it’s too many because it’s 70 plus people, but I’ve gotten an MBA in leadership by doing a podcast.

Jason Gillikin: Are you able to share the Vidant story? 

Don Thompson: Yeah, I can, when we first started out the majority of the podcasts I was doing the beyond the checkbox podcast, I was kind of doing my own podcast. We just were trying stuff. But one thing for sure is that I’m passionate about diversity equity inclusion in my personal walk has been how to make it in a sea of middle-aged white men, which is the technology business.

And a friend of mine shared one of my podcasts on diversity equity inclusion. With the president and CEO of Vidant healthcare in Eastern, North Carolina, $2 billion, 13,000 employee healthcare system in North Carolina and Dr. Mike Waldron liked what he heard enough that he wanted to sit down and have a chat.

And then from that conversation, we developed a relationship. And for a while, it just was an emerging friendship where if he had a question, he would pick up the phone and call and I would give some feedback and we just got to know each other, but I just was trying to be helpful really with no big intention.

But I knew that as a leader of a large organization, he didn’t have a lot of people that he can talk to that weren’t trying to manipulate the information that weren’t running an angle. You’re in a bubble of that. And so through the podcast, listening, then through us talking, we developed a thing. And what I found in Dr. Waldron was this was a middle aged white man in Eastern North Carolina, where racial tensions can get a little up and down sometimes, with a heart of gold, wanting to lead with love and be part of the solution. And that relationship has then turned into him vetting me, his team vetting me, being interviewed by somebody on the board of governors, North Carolina, and now I’m a part of his team as a member of the Vidant medical center board of directors. And that story occurred because of a referral from a friend to Mike to listen to the podcast, to us developing a relationship. And now we’re doing things together to help low trust communities have better healthcare outcomes. 

Jason Gillikin: That is awesome. And it’s that microtargeting that you talk about and I guarantee you, the board he’s telling them, well, I’m thinking about this guy, Donald Thompson, they are going to your podcast and listening to those episodes and be like, Oh, okay. Yeah, I can get down with this guy. Absolutely. 

Don Thompson: People do their research. And when we dial it back to Earfluence, when people want to check out who is Jason Gillikin, what is Earfluence? They’ve got 500 episodes to see the quality of your work. 

Jason Gillikin: That’s right. 

Don Thompson: And they can make their determination even before they talk to you. And so one of the things I tell business folks, is it actually increases the quality of your leads because people start to do some pre-screening and you want to make sure that you put out in the stratosphere, the information you want people to see.

Jason Gillikin: That’s right. 

Don Thompson: So Jason, as we wind our time together, what would you want to leave the audience with? What thoughts? What haven’t I asked you that you’d like to chat about? Talk about, I want to give you that space. 

Jason Gillikin: Yeah. I mean, if you’re interested in starting a podcast, and I think you should, just press record. There are so many reasons out there not to do it and all you have to do is press record and see what you have. I go to meetups every now and then, this is much more so before the pandemic, and there would be these people out there that month to month, to month, there’ll be talking about, I’m thinking about starting a podcast, I’m thinking about starting a podcast and just not doing it.

Just press record and see what you have, because like you said, people have a story to tell, and if you’re listening to this, you have a story to tell, press record, figure out what you have, and then figure out what to do from there with the podcast itself.

Don Thompson:  Jason, it’s overdue for us having this chat and putting you and Earfluence front and center on the DT podcast, but I’m glad we did it. And thanks for spending time and look forward to our continued partnership, our continued growth, and most importantly, and you leading influence to support and grow the community or your clients. Congratulations on your success.

Jason Gillikin: Thanks DT. I appreciate all the support, all the mentorship that you’ve given me over the past year and a half or so. It’s been awesome. And I appreciate you having me on the show.

Full Episode Transcript

The Donald Thompson Podcast is hosted by Walk West CEO, The Diversity Movement CEO, mentor, investor, and Diversity and Inclusion Consultant Donald Thompson.

Music for this episode provided by Jensen Reed from his song, “You Can’t Stop Me”.

The Donald Thompson Podcast is edited and produced by Earfluence. For more on how to engage your community or build your personal brand through podcasting, visit Earfluence.com.

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