May 21, 2022

JF2818: 15 Podcast Interview Tips | Beyond Multifamily ft. Ash Patel

In this episode of Beyond Multifamily, Ash shares the mistakes he’s made as a podcast guest and what he has learned from them. Hear his Best Ever advice for being interviewed for a podcast:

  1. Know that these podcasts are likely to live forever on the internet. They can likely serve as the first impression to other people who research who you are, including potential deal partners and investors.
  2. Stage fright is a real thing, and it’s often due to a lack of preparation. Have all your talking points well rehearsed and know your numbers.
  3. Be well rested. You want to be as sharp and energetic as possible during the interview.
  4. Don’t assume your podcast is audio only. Be prepared for the video to go online as well.
  5. Equipment is very important. You can find high-quality microphones today that are fairly inexpensive, or you can borrow one.
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  6. You want lighting in front of you versus behind you or overhead. Ideally, you should have two lights set up in the 10:00 and 2:00 positions.
  7. Make sure you have a fairly neutral background. You don’t want anything in your background to be overpowering enough that it takes your audience’s focus off of you.
  8. Do not be afraid of pauses. If there is an extended pause, it can be edited out later. 
  9. Focus on your breathing. Make sure you’re taking deep breaths and that your lungs are full when it’s your turn to talk.
  10. Purposely speak slower than normal. When you’re nervous, you tend to talk quickly. Talk slower than what you think is normal, and it will sound appropriate.
  11. Space out the timing of your podcast interviews. You likely don’t want a bunch of podcasts to all come out at once. Try to space them out and make them all different.
  12. Focus on adding value. You do not want this to be a self-promoting, self-serving podcast, because you’re never going to connect with the audience that way. 
  13. Be humble. Talk about the mistakes that you’ve made and the lessons you’ve learned.
  14. Replace the word “so” with the person’s name that you’re speaking with. Practice this. If you’re going out to lunch, having a Zoom call, or participating in a phone conference, practice not saying “um” and not starting sentences with “so.” 
  15. Be energetic. Listen to some music before the interview, stand up, and loosen up a little bit.



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Ash Patel: Hello, Best Ever listeners. Welcome to the Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever Show. I'm Ash Patel and this is Beyond Multifamily, where we discuss topics other than multifamily. Today, I'm going to share with you my Best Ever advice for being interviewed for a podcast. If you have a podcast interview coming up, I'm going to share with you my top 15 tips where you get to learn from the mistakes that I made. The story starts in 2015, when Joe Fairless asked if he can interview me for his podcast. I was blown away at the opportunity, super-excited about it, and in the end, it was not a good interview. It could have gone a lot better. In my opinion, it was so bad at the time. I almost asked him if we can cancel it and rerecord it. To this day, it's painful for me to listen to, but I'm going to share with you the lessons that I learned from doing that podcast and interviewing hundreds of people thereafter. If you want to hear that podcast that's painful to listen to, it's episode 477 and we'll try to link that in the show notes here.

Let's get started with tip number one - you have to know that these podcasts are likely to live forever on the internet. Also, if this is your first podcast, it can likely serve as a first impression to other people that research who you are. If you're looking for potential deal partners, investors, and they google you, these episodes often show up at the very top of the search results. Again, that can be somebody's first impression of you. I would say no pressure, but there is actually a lot of pressure on you.

Number two, stage fright is a real thing, and it's often due to a lack of preparation. The one thing that I did do correctly, is when Joe interviewed me, I had a sheet of paper in front of me that had certain talking points, it had numbers on the deals that I've done, and dates. I was able to speak intelligently about the deals that I've done. You want to make sure you're able to talk and rehearse commonly asked questions. “How did you get started? What made you get into real estate? Give me your story. What's your background?” Have all of your talking points well-rehearsed and know your numbers. In Joe's case, he does a lightning round, so I knew the lightning round questions ahead of time, and had answers prepared. Whoever is interviewing you, make sure you listen to several of their previous podcasts so you can get the tone of their interview, get the vibe, and commonly asked questions. It just helps you be a lot more prepared.

Number three, be well-rested. The night before Joe interviewed me, we had an impromptu dinner party at our house and it ended up running till about 3 a.m. It was just one of those nights where... It was a school night, but everybody was vibing, having a good time. We're playing pool, we're playing shuffleboard. I ended up getting four hours of sleep and I was not as sharp or as energetic as I should have been. Make sure you're well-rested.

Number four, don't assume your podcast is audio-only. Be prepared for the video to go online as well. A lot of podcasts are recorded through Zoom, and although they're published today in audio-only format, these hosts have a library of videos that at any given time, they could publish on YouTube, or on their own website. Just make sure you're presentable, your background is legit... If you have a green screen, appropriate background... You want to make sure that you're ready if this hits YouTube.

Number five, equipment is very important. When Joe interviewed me, I used a laptop. I was on Wi-Fi instead of a hard-wired connection, and I had a pretty cheap microphone. This is evident by the audio quality of my voice on that podcast. Joe obviously sounded very well, he had professional quality equipment. Today, there are a lot of high-quality microphones that are relatively inexpensive. If you don't have one and you don't want to buy one, borrow one. Once you have your equipment ready, download Zoom, download Audacity and do several tests with both audio and video. The microphone position is important. Different mics pick up sound in different ways. Some, if you talk into the top of them, that's where the audio quality is the best. Others, you're talking to the side of them. You've got to practice this, you've got to listen to yourself and how you sound. Know the distance that you want the microphone away from your mouth. You want to make sure that you don't touch the desk, the microphone, the keyboard, or any of these little bangs like this, you're going to hear on the video.

With your video, check all four corners of what is being recorded and make sure there's nothing extraneous in your field of view. If you Google “Joe Fairless podcast equipment,” I use the same equipment that Joe had recommended years ago in that podcast. I believe it's still the same equipment that he uses today. If you want to take it a step further, you can Google “Tim Ferriss podcast equipment." If you really want to up your game, Google “Joe Rogan podcast equipment." You can end up spending a lot of money on equipment. At the end of the day, we're recording using USB to a PC or laptop, so I don't know that these crazy expensive microphones that are typically hooked up to soundboards is going to make a huge difference on a podcast-type recording.

Number six, lighting. You want lighting in front of you, versus behind you or overhead. If you laid a clock down right in front of you, 12 o'clock [unintelligible 00:07:29.00] you want ideally two lights, one at 10 o'clock, one at two o'clock. I personally would avoid those halo lights. They're just a bit distracting and puts a round circle in your pupil.

I'll share another story with you - Slocomb Reed, the other Best Ever host for this podcast, was interviewing me for a virtual meetup, and it was an evening interview. I had my computer set up, and I went out into my living room, and I had a bunch of random work lights from my garage set up into what I thought was a pretty cool makeshift studio. I had Dewalt lights, Milwaukee lights, desk lamps, and just a myriad of different lights set up. It looked pretty goofy. And the video actually looked horrible. Shame on me for not testing how the video is going to look. I just assumed with all of this crazy lighting, it would look like a TV studio, and that did not work. If we can find that actual video from the Best Ever Cincinnati meet-up, we'll post the link on that and you can see exactly how bad it was.

The ideal lighting scenario is if you have natural light evenly spread out around you. Imagine if you have a giant picture window, you don't have to worry about the ten and two lighting, because it's literally nine to three lighting. You want to schedule your podcast for five to six hours before sunset in the ideal world. But whatever time your interviewer is, look at your artificial lighting, your natural lighting at the exact time of your interview, so you can tell in a real-world example of what the lighting will look like.

If you have just one window in your office, you want to supplement that with artificial light on the other side of where you're standing. You also want to play around if your LED lights have settings on different temperatures, daylight versus warm light, experiment with that and see how it comes across in a Zoom video.

Another option for lighting and just equipment in general is look at who is doing podcasts near you. Do a social media post, “Hey, I've got a podcast coming up. Can I borrow your equipment? Do you have a podcast studio that I can use for [however much time that you need it]?” Look at people whose jobs are exclusively working remote. They may have a legit setup in their home office that you can go and record your podcast in. Check your local library and see if they have a podcast studio. These things are popping up everywhere, so if you don't want to invest in the time, experiment with lighting and sound and video, just go to somewhere else where there is a makeshift or legit podcast studio already set up.

Number seven, your background. When I first started recording the Best Ever podcast, I just had my office in the background. Visually, when you're here and looking at it, it looks pretty nice. However, in the Zoom video, it was not good. It just looked distracting. Some of my co-workers told me, “Put a plant up there. Put some pictures up there. Just make it look more professional, more legit,” whatever it may be.

I ended up getting a virtual background using a green screen. You can paint your wall green, you can buy a cheap curtain from a fabric store, from Amazon, or anywhere online. But experiment with that; there are a lot of options for backgrounds. But it's important, because you don't want anything in your background to be overpowering enough to where it captures the attention of whoever's watching your video. You want to make sure it's fairly neutral, and that you are the focus of the audience.

Number eight, do not be afraid of pauses. If you listen to that episode where Joe interviewed me, I was so nervous, I was so afraid of pauses. I would end up answering Joe's questions before he even finished it. When I re-listen to these now, I cringe. A lot of things you can edit out... If there's an extended pause, don't worry, because that can be edited out later. With me, just the nervousness took over.

An extremely good example of somebody who uses pauses to think and prepare their answer before they speak was somebody that I interviewed twice. His name is Brian C. Adams. They were Best Ever episodes 2588 and 2608. Brian C. Adams, when I asked him a question, he would pause for a second, and you could tell he was thinking about the answer. He would come out with a very intelligent answer. Do not be afraid to pause and don't be nervous like me and start answering the question before it's even finished. Wait for that period.

Number nine, focus on your breathing. You want to make sure you're taking deep breaths versus shallow breathing. You want to make sure that when it's your turn to talk, your lungs are full of air so that you don't have to stop in between a sentence or in the midst of a sentence to take a breath. That's really going to come across. Make sure if you can time when it's your turn to talk so that your lungs are full of air, you're breathing appropriately, not a lot of shallow breathing. When the other person's talking, focus on what they're saying and focus on your breathing. Deep breaths.

Break: [00:13:40.17] – [00:15:24.08]

Ash Patel: Number ten, purposely speak slower than normal. At least for me and a lot of other people I’ve interviewed, when you’re nervous, you tend to talk quickly. There’s just a lot going through your head, and you want to make sure you get everything out, and you just end up speaking really quickly. So purposely talk slower than what you think is normal, and it'll sound appropriate.

Number 11 - if you do a lot of podcasts, if you're a guest on a lot of people's podcasts, my recommendation is to space out the timing of them. I don't know that you want a whole bunch of podcasts to hit at once. Try to space them out and make them all different. You can tell the same story, but tell it from a different angle. If you tell a story, you can tell it from a perspective where you were embarrassed because you failed, or you can just list out the facts and talk about lessons learned. Look at different angles in your stories, but try to make each of these podcasts different. If somebody's trying to research you and they listen to multiple podcasts, you're going to sound like a broken record if it's the same thing over and over again. Before you record that podcast, just make sure you anticipate a different angle of attack, a different perspective, and you truly give value to your audience in different ways for different podcasts. This also goes back to researching the podcast and the host. There are some podcasts that they just want to list out facts and lessons learned. Others want to dive into mindset and, “What were you thinking? Why did you make that decision? Or how did that make you feel?” Know the host, know the content, and tailor your approach to that podcast.

Number 12, focus on adding value. Self-promotion doesn't work. I've been through this so many times, I've interviewed so many people... When you just talk about yourself and all the great things that you've done, it's kind of a turn-off. Make sure you're adding a ton of value. Give away all your secrets. It's horrible when there's a podcast guest that says, “I don't want to really share that. I'm afraid to give away that secret. I don't want to disclose that information.” Well, listen, you're on a podcast. Are you there to self-promote and talk about you? Or are you there to give value to all the listeners that are giving up their time to listen to you? Joe Fairless is a great example of this. In his books, in his podcasts, in his blogs, on his website, he literally gives away all of his secrets. When I say all of his secrets, all of them.

I can't tell you how many times I've interviewed people that are successful syndicators, and they attribute that to Joe's Best Ever Real Estate Syndication Book, where it is essentially the bible of real estate syndications. He lists out how to become him from beginning to end, how to be successful, and look where that's gotten him. $2 billion dollars of assets under management, and he did it by giving away all of his secrets, making sure he continuously adds value to others.

I can't stress this enough. Make sure when you're being interviewed, your primary goal is to give the audience as much value as possible. You do not want this to be a self-promoting, self-serving podcast. You're never going to connect with the audience if you do that. You may connect with the wrong type of people, but I'm telling you, the greatest way to make that deep connection, that lasting connection with the audience - give away your secrets.

Number 13, humility. Be humble. Talk about the mistakes that you've made and the lessons that you've learned. It's really the best way to connect with your audience. I share a story where my ego got me into a lot of trouble. A few years into my investing, there was an auction at a small town that had just been ravaged by job losses and drug use. Me, I've been on a successful run, buying vacant buildings, and half-built office buildings. I was able to turn those things around, but I attribute turning that around to the timing. In 2012, you can buy anything and it was likely going to be successful. I talk about how people would say, “Everything Ash touches turns to gold,” and I started believing this. I got an inflated ego and I bought a whole bunch of crap that took me years and years to offload, but it was a humbling experience, good lesson learned. It's an experience that I share a lot on podcasts, because I want people to see that humility, I want them to learn from my mistakes. When I share a story like that, it really brings people into my world and it helps build that connection.

I've interviewed people that had lost everything in a divorce. They're a stay-at-home dad or a stay-at-home mom. All of a sudden, they're divorced, and they're forced to reinvent themselves. They share that mindset where you're out into the world and you don't know what to do, and you bring people into your world, your soul, and you make that connection. Once you make that connection, it's hard for people to forget that experience when they were listening to that podcast and they connected with you. So if they hear your name again, that emotional connection comes back. I've interviewed a number of people that made a financial mistake, and they lost everything. They were decimated financially, had to start all over. And it's not enough just to say that, but when they share the fact that their spouse looked at them a different way because they lost everything, the pressures on their marriage, how they felt differently when they looked at their kids, and knowing that they lost a lot of money and their financial future was in jeopardy - man, what a connection. It's a great way to connect with the audience. So please be humble, practice humility, talk about the mistakes, and don't just talk about all the great things that you've done.

A question that I ask a lot is, “Give me an example of a tough lesson that you learned, and one that you really got your teeth kicked in on.” At times, I'll get answers like, “Well, we made $1 million dollars on this project, but we should have been able to make $2 million. That was a tough lesson learned.” No, that wasn't. Anybody who's been successful in real estate, in business, in their career - you have to have those times where you got your teeth kicked in and the world was closing in on you. Those are the things that you want to share. Again, I can't stress this enough, but that's what builds the connection. That's what shows your audience that you are real, not just this machine with a great PR team behind you that just wins at everything that you do. Again, I can't stress it enough - practice humility, be humble. Talk about your mistakes and lessons learned.

Number 14 is an easy one, and that is you want to replace the word “so” with the person's name that you're speaking with. It's easy to start a lot of sentences with “so”. When somebody asks you a question, “So, let me tell you the story”, “So, what happened was”, “So, the numbers on that...” Instead, how about, “Joe, the numbers on that deal”, “Joe, let me think about that for a second”, “Joe, I need a minute to think and really formulate a good answer.” It's just one of those things that we say, in everyday life, we start sentences with “so”. When you're on a podcast, with being a little bit nervous, on edge, "so" is going to come up a lot. The word “um” should never come up. Practice that. Go 30 minutes, go one hour without saying the word “um”. If you're going out to lunch, if you're having a Zoom call with somebody, if you're having a phone conference with somebody, start practicing not saying “um” and not starting sentences with “so”. Again, replace that with the person's name.

So the lesson learned here is do not start sentences with “so”. Instead, use the person's name more often. Don't use the person's name artificially, just use it as if it's a natural conversation. “Great question, Joe.” “Joe, let me give you the answer to that.”

Number 15 is energy, and this one is an important one. If you look at this particular recording, it's 9 a.m. I probably started this a half-hour ago, an hour ago, actually, multiple edits, multiple stops, and restarts. If you look at the energy of when I started versus the energy that I have now, hopefully, you could tell a bit of a difference. And why is that? Because I started with a particular task. I wasn't overly livened up at at start of my day. How do you address energy? Before your podcast, try to get on a call with somebody, try to be energetic on that call. Don't make that podcast the first thing that you do in the morning, because it's the start of your day. You may not have a great energy about you, and it may take some time to get those wheels turning. Again, maybe listen to some music before the podcast. Stand up, loosen up a little bit.

For me, it helps a lot if I stand up instead of sitting when I record podcasts. As I'm recording this, I'm standing up further into this call. I start swaying when I'm talking. My hands are moving as if somebody is in front of me, and again, a different energy from when I started this. Make sure you take some time ahead of the podcast to focus on your energy and liven yourself up a little bit.

Another thing that will help is to laugh a little bit and joke a little bit. Things come across very muted in a podcast, and you can test this by recording at home in front of your mic. If you don't want to set up a mic, get on your phone, and just hit the record button, do a small presentation, and see how you sound and it's going to sound very muted. Even if you think you've got a fair amount of energy, it's still going to come across as muted when people are listening to it. So you've really got to overdo the energy. How do you overdo energy? To me, energy is changes in tone and volume. If you talk in a monotone voice the entire podcast, you're going to come across as muted. But all of a sudden, if you change the volume, if you change the speed at which you talk, and when you want to give somebody a tough story, you can slow down. When you get excited and want to talk about a great deal and an awesome partnership that you had, a great exit, you can talk louder, faster. Changes in tone and changes in volume will demonstrate your energy.

The next time you listen to a podcast, I want you to also focus on that person's energy. Focus on the energy of the host and focus on the energy of the person being interviewed, and just kind of critique it. This way, when you record on your phone or on your computer, you can have a little bit of a benchmark, a reference on your energy versus other people that you've heard. Best Ever listeners, that wraps it up, but I have to reiterate the “adding value” - so important. My opinion is you shouldn't even do the podcast unless you have a way to add a tremendous amount of value to your audience. It may be different ways to connect with them. If you're an immigrant, new to this country, talk about that experience. If you worked in a corporate environment that you hated, you had a job that you hated for so many years, you had this different pressure on you, talk about all of that, so that you can maybe relate to somebody, and that's also a way of adding value. But please be humble. Practice humility, and most of all, do the podcast because you want to add value to others. Best Ever listeners, thank you so much for joining us. I hope you enjoyed this podcast. If you enjoyed it, please like, follow, subscribe, but have a Best Ever day!

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