Relationality Improves Your Podcast – Paul Zelizer – Creating The Greatest Show – Episode #042

by | Jun 1, 2023 | Creating The Greatest Show

Brilliant minds alone don’t guarantee a great podcast conversation. Good discussion and empathetic guests appeal to audiences better than improperly conveyed information. Today’s guest has a graduate-level education in counseling psychology, years of experience and training in the counseling profession, and experience applying this knowledge through his podcast. Paul Zelizer is the Founder of Awarepreneurs and hosts the Awarepreneurs Podcast.

Paul shares how to discover the right guests, nurture the right connections, and find the balance between overly coached conversations and tangential discussions. Paul also outlines how to engage your audience using empathy and overall, create a great podcast.


  • Find the right guests and prepare them to have extraordinary dialogues. Take the time for a prep call to build rapport with the guest, tell them about your audience, and explain the type of dialogue you want to have, whether it’s precise, loose, or a mix of the two.
  • You can have two brilliant people on a podcast with a poor relationship or two average people with a great relationship. The latter is superior. Build a rapport with your guest, even if you only have five or ten minutes to talk before hitting record.
  • Find a way to describe your audience to your podcast guest, so they can adapt their information and conversation to appeal to them. Be able to explain what the audience cares about, what they want to learn, and why they listen to your show. 
  • Build relationships with PR and podcast booking agencies, these agencies get paid by their clients to get them on shows that have their niche audiences. It may take time, but the effort pays off in the form of referrals for the ideal guests. 
  • Find the balance between overly stiff conversation and unstructured tangential speaking. If the guest turns into a college lecturer, the listener may tune out, but the same outcome can happen if the guest breaks into too many side discussions with no relation. 
  • If your guest starts to speak as though they have been overly coached, don’t be afraid to interrupt them to improve the interactivity of the conversation. Generally, podcast listeners prefer a “good combination of relationality” rather than a TED Talk style speech. 
  • Podcasting allows the host and the guests to be invited into the space between listeners’ ears. It is the most intimate form of mass communication so you need to make it relational, you need to incorporate real-life context into the conversation.

Quote of the Show

“Emotional intelligence is more predictive to your success in business than your technical skills”

– Paul Zelizer

Shout Outs

Connect with Paul

Ways to Tune In


Casey Cheshire: I can’t wait to introduce you all to my guest today. He, you probably have known him longer than I have known person in the podcasting industry. He is a social entrepreneur. He’s a coach, a mentor and a fellow podcaster.

And a trail runner, ultramarathons in his repertoire. Host of the Awarepreneurs podcast, founder of Awarepreneurs, but most notably known for [00:01:00] consulting and coaching social entrepreneurs. Paul Zelizer

Paul Zelizer: Thanks so much for having me, Casey, and congratulations on what you built. I know for a fact that growing a podcast is not an easy thing to do, so just thanks for holding down this conversation for as long as you

have been.

Casey Cheshire: Totally. I’m likewise. It’s a great place to start a podcast when the guest and the host are just really glad the other person’s there.

we’re on this show. I can’t wait to pick your brain. I have a brand new blank piece of paper over here. I can’t wait to fill with your wisdom. So I wanna start the show with this question we always start to show with, which is to pull back the curtain for us on your show.

And share your most important strategy for a great interview podcast.

Paul Zelizer: It’s a wonderful question, Casey. And so the simple answer is find great guests and prepare them for extraordinary dialogues. And we can unpack how I do that. But if you want one line, that’s it.

Casey Cheshire: Prepare them for extraordinary conversations, [00:02:00] man. Okay. I, this sounds fantastic. I feel like this is like a two-part recipe for success. Find cookie dough, add to oven let’s go.

Paul Zelizer: And put chocolate chips in it.

Casey Cheshire: It comes free

package, man. I, nothing but the Pillsbury Doughboy for me.

I know which is heresy in some places, but, okay.

Find great guests. Most people might say easier said than done. So what has been your secret

Paul Zelizer: I’d say that’s an iterative strategy. So we just published episode 285 yesterday, six years running plus. It gets easier over time. podcasting is like compounding interest. And anybody who’s like I’m gonna launch a podcast and the money’s gonna fall out of the sky and I’m gonna be rich and famous.

By episode number five, I don’t know who you’re talking to, but go away. Just go away. Like you don’t have a freaking clue, like you’re in the wrong space. But what to understand with podcasting is it’s compounding interest, right? Just like really smart investors understand we’re not playing. There are a few people, but a very small percentage of investors get wealthy by doing [00:03:00] something in a day or a week or even a month. It’s a long play, right? But basically a couple of strategies in the find great guests. Number one is I’ve built really strong relationships with PR and podcast booking agencies, particularly those who have a lot of guests and are known for working with people in the impact space? What do you mean by social entrepreneurship or impact business? What I mean is people who are trying to make the world a better place as they’re going about their business activities. It’s not just sell more stuff. Not that I’m against that, but that’s not what I’m all about.

People know me in that space. So the reason that’s really helpful is because they’re getting paid, and it’s not by me, right? It’s not by the host,

the people who pay for professional services, really smart people to dedicate their time and energy to getting really great guests on podcasts like yours, listeners.

And that’s what PR. Really good PR people and podcast booking [00:04:00] agency by definition understand the value of a niche audience, like a podcast. And they’re getting paid to do it and the person paying them as a guest. So just by definition, that person is more prepared. They understand the value of being on a show and they’re gonna bring their a game cuz they’re paying to be there.

So that’s

one example. There’s many other things I could share about how to do that.

Casey Cheshire: Okay. PR professionals. It sounds like you’ve met good ones. Because sometimes in my mind, when I think about PR folks, I think about people who are behind the times. They’re not keeping up, they’re still trying to get something in the newspaper that already shut down. And then on the Booker side, sometimes you get these crazy bookers that just like I have a marketing podcast, they’re like, here’s somebody that plays with trucks.

And you’re like, ah, they don’t do any marketing whatsoever,

Paul Zelizer: They just came out with a new violin album. And you’re like, I

have a marketing podcast. And what? And that’s why I’m saying I build notice. I started this [00:05:00] by saying I build relationships

so they’re not just random PR or podcast booking folks. So I’ll give you an example. This just happened.

I’m in a conversation. I had a guest. Fabulous guest from my show. She just won a Fast Company award for being number four in the CSR in other words, a important metric in the impact business space. She won number four. Award just got announced last week. I like, broke the news on my show.

It’s a program called Keys to the Classroom. The guest was Dana Bryson and the, she had hired a PR firm that PR firm knew. They. Didn’t understand the podcasting space as much as they might want to, so they actually contracted with a friend of mine, a colleague. Julie Fry, who has a podcast agency called Your Expert Guest.

Julie’s awesome. I’ve known Julie for a couple of years now. She knows what I do. She has a lot of guests who are in the impact space. When they went to her, she said, Paul, this is a [00:06:00] great fit for you. Dana’s freaking awesome. Dana. Bryson the guest,

right? And it was, An awesome conversation. I got to break the news of a Fast Company award winner.

I don’t think any other podcast had that story out there. It’s an incredible story of a business doing positive impact at scale. In this case, recruiting teachers who are really diverse and they have a very innovative way that they do that. And that all came through a relationship of somebody who is in the podcast Space Books.

Guests known me for years and we’ve had quite a few interactions with just Julie Plus. She has a whole team of, I don’t remember how many, but I just booked somebody else through Your Expert guest. That’s just one of many relationships of the kind of agencies that understand who my audience is and they share the values.

Of the kind of stories that I like to tell.

Casey Cheshire: how do you build that list?

Paul Zelizer: a lot of what I

do is on LinkedIn.

Casey Cheshire: it

Paul Zelizer: LinkedIn, I

find [00:07:00] people who on LinkedIn, first of all, again, I’ve been around for a while, so people approach me all the time. I get dozens and dozens of pitches a week. I pay attention to those pitches who’s sending them, and are particularly the ones that are either spot on or pretty close.

And then I reach out to them and say, Hey, look, I love to have relationships. This one is perfect, thank you. Or This was close, but not quite there. I wonder if we could jump on a call and let me help you understand my audience and the kind of stories that we’d like to tell. So I invest in those relationships because one.

Podcast, booking agency, or one PR firm that really understands my show will send me guests for years on end. It’s a great half an

hour invested to have a networking conversation. So sometimes it’s on LinkedIn and I’m paying attention and I notice that there’s a thread and here’s. Somebody who works in a PR firm that seems really interested in the kind of issues that I’m interested and my listeners are interested in, and [00:08:00] or just by as the inbound starts to happen, I start noticing where it’s coming from and if I get even one, but especially if I get two or three that are spot on or close, then I’ll send an email

and just say, Hey, Thanks for sending me such a great guest.

This was spot on or this was closed, but we’re not quite there. I wonder if you’d be willing to spend 15 or 20 minutes on a call. Love to tell you who my listeners are. Tell me who your guests are and let’s see how we can get some of your people. On podcasts, even if it’s not my show, I know a lot of other hosts, so I might be able to help you get them on other shows.

Just by introducing you to people and not everybody says yes, but the number of people in the industry will say yes is very high cuz it’s their job to get ’em

on shows of people who, they get paid literally. So when I say, Hey,

bring that person on, that contributes to the deliverables that they’re getting paid for.

Casey Cheshire: Got it. Especially on the PR side, they are paying, then they’re probably [00:09:00] gonna be more likely to promote that episode. Not that you’re doing it for them to promote it, but it’s always nice when your guest doesn’t, radio silence you, Yeah no the the

Paul Zelizer: Absolutely from the promotion they do to the equipment they bring, they’re more likely to have a podcast mic or something. That sounds good.

Their presence, they’re more likely have some key points. We’re gonna talk about that. Like they’re not just there to chat. They’re.

Understand the relationality of podcasting, but they’re also really committed to bringing value because they’re professionals. They’re paying to be there. So they’re bringing their A game, and they’re not just oh, Casey, you’re an awesome guy. Let’s talk about hiking. But you’re here because you want to help your listeners really knock it out of the park with their podcast in terms of their

goals, in terms of marketing. I understand that, and I’m trying to bring my A game, not just. Hey, Casey, you’re a nice guy. Let’s talk about hiking. And podcasting is awesome too.

All that’s true, but how can we be relational creatures and [00:10:00] really understand the audience and help deliver value to that audience? Somebody who’s paying 800 a month, 2000 a month, $5,000 a month to be on shows just like yours gonna be more likely to bring their A game and really knock it out of the park for your audience.

Casey Cheshire: Okay, that makes a lot of sense. But you did get me thinking like, I want to talk to you about hiking at some point. If you say hiking one more time. We’re


Paul Zelizer: I’m totally down for, I’m totally

Casey Cheshire: Oh God. You said it. All right. No. On the flip side, have you ever had anyone that was too prepared because they. Came from the PR

Paul Zelizer: Yes,

Casey Cheshire: they were

coached and trained, you don’t feel like you really even talk to them. Maybe.

Paul Zelizer: Welcome to my TED Talk, right? Yeah, like it’s I don’t know if anybody knows, the TED formula, but there’s actually a

TED Talk that makes fun of the TED formula. Insert pregnant pause here. Walk closer to the audience. Like it’s very formulaic

if you’re not careful, right? I can’t remember who did it.

It’s a fabulous TED Talk that makes fun of the equation [00:11:00] of how. Speakers get coached to do a TED Talk. So yes there, there can be some over-training, but I would say that’s the second part. Prepare them to have an extraordinary dialogue and I actually will say, Hey, this isn’t just another stop on your book tour, or this isn’t a TED talk.

Like my listeners want relationality as well as. Good information, and that’s in the second part of that sentence, prepare them for an extraordinary dialogue. So I will actually relationality if somebody’s just going on there I’m now in professor talking head mode and I lost the relationality.

My audience doesn’t like that. Maybe some audiences do, but in general, podcasting research says people want a good combination of relationality, whether that’s. Great storytelling or humor or some like sense of these are human beings talking about issues I care about and being very warm and fully authentic humans and really good information and if somebody’s leaning out, Too hard in the [00:12:00] direction in one way than the other.

I see it as my job, first of all. I try to prevent that through getting them ready through the prep work that we can talk about. But also if they start to head down that, then I’ll relationality. I’ll crack a joke. Wait, didn’t you say something about Thai food? And they were just talking about some some like metric that they’re using to measure their impact.

I’ll get back there, but I’ll crack a joke or just

find a way to bring the relationality back into the conversation.

Casey Cheshire: Let’s talk about that. Okay. I haven’t talked about relationality. First of all, love the word because I think there’s a lot to this. How

Paul Zelizer: Let’s think a minute. So I’m really blessed. I had a fabulous podcast mentor. His name is Keith Carlson. And Keith has one of the oldest nursing podcasts on the planet. We think it’s number three. It’s called the Nurse Keith Podcast. Keith is awesome. Shout out. I literally wouldn’t be here without him.

He’s a career coach for nurses and does a bunch of other things in the medical podcasting space. But Keith is

also a friend and a neighbor. And Keith said, Paul, you need to [00:13:00] podcast. At that point, I was a long form blogger. That was my primary marketing strategy. I’d gotten quite good at him, was getting results, and Keith sat me down.

He said, you need to start a podcast like Keith, you, it took me years to learn how to blog, right? You want, I don’t know time, like what? But I care about him. And he said, listen Paul, and I’m gonna show you what he showed me. He said, Paul, how do people listen to podcasts? They literally put us inside of their bodies.

They literally

invite us into the space between their ears. It’s the most intimate form of mass communication in the world has ever seen. Stopped. Stop me in my tracks, right? I have a master’s degree in counseling. My first career was in community mental health. I’m an incredibly relational human. I really care about human relationships, and there’s all kinds of research about how that translates.

I didn’t know it, but like emotional intelligence is more predictive to your success in business than your technical skills. Most people don’t wanna talk about that, [00:14:00] but you can go look at Google’s. Search Inside Yourself Program. It’s an emotional intelligence based program. There’s a book called Search Inside Yourself, so I’m not just it’s not my opinion.

That’s what the research is saying. Anyway. Keith’s also an incredibly relational guy. He knows how I’m wired. We’re friends. He’s probably needs to start a podcast. I roll my eyes. What are you? I’m way too busy. He says most relational form. Of mass communication, so you can reach a lot of people, but you can do it in a relational way.

And I said, tell me more. And here we are,

took me a year and a half to actually launch it, to make the space. But yes, seven and a half years later, here we are. And I have one of the best known social entrepreneur podcasts on the planet. Thank you, Keith. So that’s what we

mean is that it’s not just information, it’s also.

Information in the context of real people’s lives. How are they implementing this? What are the struggles? What are the nuances? What are the intersections? What are the complexities? What are the challenges? Podcasting? For me does a better job [00:15:00] of allowing us to explore those things than other forms of mass media.

I’ve been in business 16 years and a lot of my work is helping people make marketing choices and decisions and pick platforms and messaging and all that stuff. I’ve thought a lot about all this and at this point, there’s nothing that comes close to podcasting when it comes to those kinds.

Of a, allowing us to go into that kind of terrain.

Casey Cheshire: Yeah, I we share that. I love the aspect of connecting one-on-one with people. Al almost to the point where I neglect the audience and I’ve had some great guests on the past. They’re like, don’t

Paul Zelizer: Oh, I see you audience. I, yeah. Casey, may I see you? Audience, I won’t forget about you.

Casey Cheshire: But I get, I can get so focused, but I also I want that connection. And so I think we were joking earlier where, people don’t wanna do our prep call or they don’t want, they’re not interested in the connection side. They just wanna get their stuff [00:16:00] publicized it like that.

Just, I’m not in, I’m not interested in that. And so half of the relationship side of this relationality. It’s like you need both sides for that. Really? For the podcast that you and I like where there’s information in context like you’re talking about.

Paul Zelizer: Yeah. And that’s that getting people ready for an extraordinary dialogue, that’s part of what I do. And Casey, I was hilarious. Laughing. I was like before we hit record, I, we, you did a meet and greet with me and it was like, your meet and greet could have been my meet, like your outline could have been my alley.

You asked a slightly different first question, but

basically it was like so clo. I’ve never, in years of podcasting and guesting, I’ve never seen anybody does a mean greet. Almost like it was 97% overlap.

So when you say we approach it the same way, I’m literally saying we approach it 97.9%, like reading off the same


Casey Cheshire: Were you like, are you looking at my Google Drive? What?

Paul Zelizer: I know, who are these two bald guys who [00:17:00] like to be outdoors and are really passionate

about podcasting and why are they reading off of the same outline? I don’t know. Yeah.

Casey Cheshire: Go, let’s go theoretical for a second, just about this idea. This relationship. It’s a two-way street. When it’s done, let’s say the way that we like doing it here, this sort of dialogue we’re having, it’s, is it a rubber band? I feel like there’s this sort of thing where.

It’s this pull, pull and push or whatnot, but at some point you can break it. And then I’ve done this accidentally and I’ve had guests tell me later they felt it right, where I’m no longer paying attention. Or I am, or I’m not. But or the guest is no longer into it, but it’s almost there’s this sort of, almost like a dance, right?

Like a dancing lesson and then

Paul Zelizer: totally.

Casey Cheshire: I’m not making you go anywhere. You’re not making me go anywhere. But I could, we could break it and then you gotta get it back. I don’t know. Have

Paul Zelizer: Yeah, I was thinking I’m not very good salsa dancing, but I’ve taken a little bit of a few lessons and there’s actually this like sense of you want enough like [00:18:00] tension and sense of presence. I remember the dance. Instructor saying so that you can play. If you have too much, you’re stiff and you’re it.

It’s all information and hi, welcome to my podcast. Hi,

I’m guesting, and let me tell you the seven things you need to know about ex parta marketing. And that feels really stiff. Or it can be so loose

that it’s just like a wet noodle and like wet noodles don’t do salsa very well.

There’s this dynamic moment where there’s enough like that you can push and pull off of each other. When a couple is really good at salsa, there’s enough presence, enough energy, enough push and pull, but not so much that it’s rigid or tighter, they’re in conflict. You gotta play with that push and pull.

That’s the image that came to mind when you were talking,


Casey Cheshire: Yeah. And almost I dunno if they had you do this, I’m the same way. Like I like salsa music probably cuz I can listen to it as opposed to necessarily Yeah. The two people and even they’ve had us practice where your hands are like touching and then the whoever’s leading is moving in one [00:19:00] direction and the person following is actually, it’s interesting because you’re moving together and you’re not telling each other where you’re going, but you’re like giving the feedback loop of are our hands this close? And then you’re

Paul Zelizer: absolutely. Great. Yeah and again, in a. When you’re guesting, you wanna listen. I teach my clients. I love podcast guesting as a strategy for growing a business. I

know we’re mostly talking about hosting, so we can bracket that, but that’s a huge, if you need to move the needle more quickly, you don’t have time for that compounding interest.

You’ve gotta. Book you’re launching or your new campaign or whatever you’re launching a new division of the company. Guesting moves the needle more quickly. Long term. There’s nothing like being a host, but the, for the host to know, I think it’s our job. Somebody’s gotta lead and somebody wants to follow you Both can be great.

You both wanna. Be great dancers. Work on improving your craft, so to speak, of being a salsa dancer. But one person’s gonna lead. And in the podcasting analogy, let that be the host and one person’s [00:20:00] gonna follow. Let that be the guest, but know

that you’re playing together with an audience who’s also, if you’re doing it well, is gonna be both entertained or at least engaged and getting a lot of value out of the conversation.

So there’s a lot going on.

Casey Cheshire: There, There’s I wanna get this we chatted earlier in the prep call about this one thing, and maybe you could restate it. It was something about you could have two really brilliant people that have a. Like a shitty relationship. They’re like they’re, they don’t have the relationality and it creates for a terrible podcast, you would think, oh yeah, two great world leaders talk no, no But I think you then the second part was or you could have two people that aren’t the most brilliant or whatnot, but they have that relationship in context, and so then it made such a better

Paul Zelizer: absolutely. Are the listeners getting a sense that the host and the guest, maybe there’s more than one guest, but who’s ever on the show, do they care? That’s [00:21:00] one of the basic questions, and this is something again, like I go back to in that meet and greet.

I really work with the guest in that meet and greet and help them understand who’s listening and what they care about. And as somebody who’s guest it a lot, and also, we have 285 episodes live as of, yesterday, a lot of.

Guests come on my show and they’re like, oh my God, I’ve done a lot of guesting and nobody’s really helped me understand the audience quite like that before.

It’s not complicated. It takes me about 30 seconds to explain who the audience is, but that disrupts the welcome to my TED Talk talking head professor kind of energy. And I’ll say look, our job, I don’t, maybe I’ll use this going forward. I don’t usually use the analogy of a dance, but our job is to have a really engaged conversation that we’re both bringing a lot of care and passion to for the benefit of the listener.

But if we Don’t give a damn about the topic. Why should the listener give a damn about the topic or the podcast, right? It’s [00:22:00] our job as

host to help bring some of that fire to help bring some of the why, and then to help the guest. I, at least on my podcast, I’ll often say I. You wouldn’t be on the show if I didn’t know you were world class experts.

I don’t have to interview anybody but somebody who’s really doing incredible work, and I know what that looks like. My listeners know what that looks like. But I’ll say it’s not just that you know your stuff. Please hear me when I say, I know you know your stuff, but I want you to listen to who our audience is and join me in making sure.

I call it legacy content. Casey, I want people to still be listening to Awarepreneurs. I still refer people to episode number one. I know exactly who it is at Figgy Esco. She’s a friend. She’s an incredible social entrepreneur, and anybody who’s doing work in schools, she’s working with to stop bullying in schools in a


Incredible way with so much care and attention and scale. She worked with hundreds of thousands of kids every year, so anybody who’s doing stuff in [00:23:00] schools, especially violence or bullying in schools, immediately send them to Vicky’s episode. The branding on my end sucks, but her and I had an incredible conversation.

I wish I had invested in better branding, but that’s my fault. But the quality of the content six years later, even though it was a lock gone on in the world. It’s still a world class conversation, and that’s what I want

to aspire to do. I hit that with every guest? Probably not, but no, I don’t.

But the percentage of times that our listeners say, I listened to an episode from four years ago, and that’s still an amazing episode, that’s what I’m trying to do, and that’s how I explain to my guest why I asked for that 15 or 20 minutes of their time.

That relationality, that like rapport, that helping them understand the listeners. Then when we bring their world class knowledge into a relational context, they feel a little more comfortable because we’ve told a joke [00:24:00] about hiking and eating Thai food or whatever other common threads we might find

in that short conversation, it feels different.

We have that relational context and they’re a world class human. And they understand who they’re talking to, and I ask them to have three to five, maybe even a couple more points of value. And you put that all together and it doesn’t sound like a lot, but what people tell me, both the guests and the listeners, is they don’t often have that experience as listeners.

Casey Cheshire: Wow. I do hear glimmers of my own prep. And you describing

your prep,

Paul Zelizer: it’s ridiculous How, much overlap

Casey Cheshire:

How do you what do you, when you convey the audience, what, how

Paul Zelizer: First of all, let me just say listener like, like I’m really. Casey and I didn’t know each other. I’m doing more of a podcast tour to help just find out who’s more out there. I’ve been blinders on. So anyway, I just wanna say Casey, like you, you’re, I again, as a guest, I have been through a lot [00:25:00] of guesting onboarding and I think you do.

I fabulous. Like really set that relational tone. And what you did to help me understand your listeners again, is just. Cracks me up. We have different audiences, but

how you talk about it very familiar. So if anybody’s wondering whether Casey knows this stuff, at least. My opinion is yes listen here, you’re getting great advice. Really what I say, Casey, is, Awarepreneurs is all about social entrepreneurship and people who are on the, if it’s a continuum, people who are like curious about it, maybe I’ve heard about it, I wanna find out. And people who are like dedicated this is my life.

At least my professional life is a hundred percent. I’m all in both feet. I’m on that end of the continuum. Like really wanting to have positive impact at the biggest degree of scale in the hardest, most complicated problems that humans are facing. Those are my listeners. Different impact areas. Some are in climate, some are working in with marginalized communities and working on economic [00:26:00] development.

Some are about gender equity sustainable ag like there are many different impact areas. I’m a bit agnostic about which area, but. The commonality is they’re really far on the end of like, how far can we push the needle into positive impact and how do we make a living while doing it? So we care about business and things like revenue, but we’re not doing business to get another, to get our fifth house or to get a private jet plane.

We wanna

live well, we want to have, be able to send our kids to a good education. We want to eat quality food. But it’s not about, More money for more money’s sake. It’s about how do we get enough, pay our people. And the big focus of our listeners is the world is dealing with. Pretty big challenge.

How do we leverage this huge engine on planet Earth called business to help make the world a better place? And then within that, I talk about two buckets. About half of our listeners, and I know this through [00:27:00] some formal like surveys, but more just informally who emails in. When somebody says, Hey, that was a great episode on social media, I go try to find out what I can about them on LinkedIn or go look at their website, like who’s commenting, who’s engaging, who’s emailing me?

Just trying to get a. Sense that way. More than f or as much as any formal surveys, but basically it’s two buckets. The more established social entrepreneurs and the way I described that, they have product market fit, they’re have pretty strong revenue, and they’re listening for things like how to in, scale better thinking like, Team development and also what’s trends in the space of social entrepreneurship.

Like we used to have lots of journals, printed journals, and those are fewer and far between these days. But a lot of people who are experienced listen to Aware and other podcasts just what’s trends in the space who are up and coming players, et cetera, et cetera. And then the [00:28:00] other 50% are up and comers.

They have an idea, they want to make an impact in a certain impact area. But they don’t necessarily have great product market fit. The revenue isn’t that strong and they’re listening for things like, how do you go from a concept that maybe has a little bit of momentum to making this a real full-time business and go from two or three people to the first couple dozen, right?

That that’s their big goal. So those are my two buckets, and exactly what I just said from that like continuum to the buckets within it. That’s exactly how I

describe it.

Casey Cheshire: I can totally see how that helps break up the scripted TED talk, right? Because now I’m thinking I have a talk all about. Out why podcasting is great for brands, but that’s not who I’m talking to. I’m talking to the social entre entrepreneurs, all right, how can I better change, my, dialogue and what I’m trying to present so that it impacts my audience, right?

If you [00:29:00] care

Paul Zelizer: Abso

Casey Cheshire: then suddenly things are changing and you might have to ad lib a little bit here, and yeah, I can see how that and also they really appreciate it, right? I think sometimes people who. Don’t wanna join a prep, we’ll at least join a prep for that information, right to, if they care, if they’re a pro, they want to know, is what I’m saying, gonna land the way I intended it to, because the people I’m talking to are hearing my message.

But if I hear this, I go, okay, I gotta make sure I’m

Paul Zelizer: Absolutely and I’m happy to share. I’m a big fan of systems, simple systems, so I have Google Docs with a podcast invite and I’m pretty clear, so I’m happy to share that with your listeners if that’s

useful to anybody. Like just how I word it it’s short, but I feel like people, oftentimes, I used to get more friction about this.

Oh, I’m busy. I don’t have time for this. But when I dialed in the language about what happens in the meet and greet, and particularly about helping them understand picking a topic and [00:30:00] helping them like together, thinking about how to present what their topic is in a way that’s both really aligned with the goals that they have for being on a show, but also is gonna really engage our audience.

Because when our audience gets engaged, they go out and tell their friends and our audience are some of the more dedicated they have big networks in the social, in the

space that my guests want to access. And when they realize, oh, Paul’s not just being a jerk or trying to waste my time, he’s trying to help me get more results, then the amount of friction, not that I don’t ever get friction, but the amount of friction is way less than it used to be.

So I’m happy to share. The language, but basically just try to create templates that help people understand why you’re doing certain things. If you do decide to do a meet and greet,

Casey Cheshire: And you mentioned the word 97% overlap. I would say at least 70% because I heard some great stuff here that even I don’t do. And one of the first things I heard before you even described the audience [00:31:00] was the mission, the purpose, the why, and you were like, this is why I’m doing This is my why. And then people who agree with that or have the same one, they listen to it, right? And I thought, that’s like a high level who’s listening. I wonder if he’ll go in detail and you did and you’re like, and we have two buckets. And then you even established how you know what these buckets are.

You’re not just pulling this from the sky. These are people that have emailed, these are people that have contacted you. So I’m not just giving you hot air here. These are the kind of people that reach out. And then you got very specific. So there’s two different kind of groups I could speak to. That was powerful, man.

I, I, that alone I could see, could just really help frame

Paul Zelizer: Find great guests and prepare them to have an extraordinary dialogue. That’s what I, that’s what I was trying

to help people do. And I and I’m a really granular entrepreneur, so I don’t just talk in theories. I’ll share as much detail as humanly possible.

Casey Cheshire: I love this shift a little bit. You mentioned the counseling right? Mental health, the community, mental health, the counseling. Do you [00:32:00] see any parallels to podcasting? Do you ever have to keep yourself from doing counseling on a, on an episode? And how do they

overlap and how not,

Paul Zelizer: morning. No, I’m kidding,

right? Yeah.

Casey Cheshire: and how did that make

Paul Zelizer: It, again I referenced that, but I didn’t know that my training, matter of fact, it was really bumpy. The short version is my first career. Technically I was licensed as a community mental health counselor, but just think about it as social worker. I like to joke

that my trajectory was from social worker to social entrepreneur and full disclosure.

That was not a fun transition. That sucked. I had no business training whatsoever, but I knew that I couldn’t, I’ll being a broke

social worker

at the time, my kid was quite young and my marriage was falling apart partially because of the choices I made as a career. Like it wasn’t easy to support a family as a broke social worker, right?

Anyway so I

just want to be full disclosure. It was not an easy transition to learn how

to leverage those skills, but suddenly, I [00:33:00] remember the day I found myself at Google at the time now. Now there’s a something called a search inside your Self Leadership Institute where they’re talking about emotional intelligence and mindfulness based stress reduction.

Googles run tens of thousands of employees and the researches off the charts about the kind of results that people who are higher. In the degrees of emotional intelligence in business settings, what they contribute compared to people even really smart people contribute through the power of the hard skills alone.

It’s if you have to choose, go for emotional intelligence every time, and that book

will help you understand

Casey Cheshire: would you say it’s locked in stone? Like IQ or is there flexibility and muscles you can build

Paul Zelizer: It. It’s absolutely. That’s why, yeah, Google’s not dumb. They don’t invest in training that doesn’t, yeah.

Sorry. Sucks to be you. Your emotional intelligence is quite

Casey Cheshire: Peter Pan for

Paul Zelizer: We’ll see. See you later. Bye. Right

now, these are teachable skills, but most business [00:34:00] environments. Don’t, and especially if you go back, it’s moving.

We’re seeing things like Harvard, HBR and Stanford has a whole program about compassion and it, we’re seeing very significant movement in the under LinkedIn as a compassion program within LinkedIn where they’re teaching emotional intelligence and compassion skills at

LinkedIn. These are not like hippie businesses. These are real, like very significant businesses that understand and looked at the data. So anyway, I just want to be transparent. It was a bumpy road to get from social worker to social entrepreneur. But I can remember as it started to click, oh, this is how you leverage this skill about understanding human motivation.

I got trained in something called motivational interviewing, for instance, fabulous skillset to have, and one of the fundamentals. Skills that most of the modern coaching world is based on that they don’t give credit for. I don’t know why coaching. You need to give more credit At the motivational interviewing skillset, [00:35:00] Dr.

William Miller lives did a lot of his research at the University of New Mexico, which is three or four miles up the road. Was talking about a way before executive coaching was a thing. Understanding what motivates humans and how to tap into that was something I’d literally have graduate training in.

And once I relaxed of but I don’t know how to market. I’m not very good at bookkeeping in account. You can hire a bookkeeper and I can learn how to market, but it’s actually much longer Bill to learn how humans are wired, how to understand what people’s strengths and challenges are in teams.

Learn about messaging in a way that can land for the kind, it’s empathy. I call it empathy based marketing. Like

before you try to. Like ram a message down somebody’s throat, understanding how are they wired, what do they care about, what are their challenges? Literally, I have a graduate training in that, but I had to get through some of my own kind of limiting beliefs that some of this was transferrable.

And not only was it [00:36:00] transferrable, it’s actually the harder stuff to teach and it moves the needle more on the outcomes you want in business. Finally, I relaxed, but back in the day I was so embarrassed. Oh, I’m like doing. Business coaching and I have a master’s in counseling and I was like waiting for somebody to say You’re a fraud, cuz that was going on

in my head. So it, it was a process to work through some of that.

Casey Cheshire: I imagine, and I think even hearing that it was bumpy. Makes us that much more interested in the kind of things you’ve learned and how that’s transferred over. Because I feel like the bumpier it is, the more chance there is to learn, even if it is the hard way.

Paul Zelizer: There’s a great book for anybody who’s not getting the results you’re wanting in marketing or any other part of business. Totally different domains. Sometimes it’s really fun to switch up domains.

The book is called Fit to Fat, to Fit, fit to Fat. The word Fit number two. Fat too fit. I can’t remember if that’s, but that’s the book.

[00:37:00] It’s about this guy who’s like he was an osteopath or some kind of wellness kind of health professional and a trainer, and the guy has good genes and he’s ripped, right? And he’s I’m trying to work with my clients and like they’re just not getting great. Yes, they’re, I’m giving this great information, but it’s like I’m getting mediocre results, right?

And he’s I’m missing something. And what he got through some help of cared mentors and trusted advisors that he was missing a bit of that empathy that we’ve been talking about. So what he intentionally did, Is, I think it was six months. He stopped working out and he ate a horrible diet and gained 60 or 80 pounds.

Casey Cheshire: I feel like I’ve heard of this guy. Yeah,

Paul Zelizer: Yeah, I can’t remember his name, but the book is all about his journey and the journey of putting on the weight and eating McDonald’s and drinking milkshakes and donuts for breakfast. Like, all right, that, whatever. But the part that was really interesting to me that I got a lot of value outta Casey is he talks about what it was like [00:38:00] when it was time to start to get back in shape.

And he was like, I had no idea. So he was like, he had never moved in a body like this. And suddenly he’d be like, he would always tell his clients if intense exercise doesn’t work, then just walk. But the way his body had changed, suddenly he was like, Chafing in places he didn’t know a human body could chafe and even walking was really uncomfortable.

It was hard and he didn’t understand that cuz he had great gene and, he had a PhD level, I think it was, he was an osteopath or something like that. He had,

he was come from a privileged background, had great quality food, had been athletic all his life, great jeans, just walk. And people who, didn’t have some of the advantages that he had were like, What do you mean?

Just walk? This is really hard. I’m uncomfortable. I’m sweating, I’m chafing. I don’t like this language. I have that maybe, they didn’t have your, what’s called your central regulator, like it wants to save [00:39:00] calories. Cuz back in the day, that was something that was helped us survive by not being

Casey Cheshire: eat more so you don’t die. Do it now.

Paul Zelizer: just, yeah,

conserve calories cuz calories in a

modern life.

Like you, calories, I could buy, there’s literally a store like, 150 yards from my house. There’s a bakery. The best bakery in the city is like a hundred

yards from

that’s not how it used to work. So yeah, it’s really good bakery. So we’re designed to conserve calories, but he like so we have things like, wait, you’re burning calories.

And especially if that’s not something you’ve done, your nervous system is gonna try to talk you out of it or like you’re gonna hurt yourself. This isn’t good. Okay, you already walked three minutes, that’s enough. Get off. He wasn’t helping people understand. That like walking at a slow pace for 20 minutes.

If you’ve been a couch potato, eating donuts and McDonald’s for breakfast, it’s gonna be a lot of friction and it won’t always be like that. But he wasn’t understanding the various [00:40:00] physical, mental, and emotional challenges that somebody was facing. So his outcomes in this case, helping his clients get fit were really mediocre.

And after he had this experience, Same information. It’s fascinating to read, like he didn’t go and get another PhD in exercise science or get some major upgrade in his knowledge about fitness or nutrition, but what he got is a major upgrade in empathy and that changed

everything. The results his clients got were off the charts.

Casey Cheshire: Wow. Just having walked in their shoes, how, you know, can you perceive how all this training has. Made you a better interviewer or made you a better

Paul Zelizer: I think part of it is being aware, I was blessed to be on a family therapy team by with an incredible mentor. There was a one way mirror, and so as a graduate person learning how to work with families in crisis, [00:41:00] there was the family.

So it was an hour and a half session. It was a one-way mirror, and the family knew this. They agreed and they were excited about it. And the therapist usually, at least at the beginning, my, my mentor her name is Pat, and then two or three of us students, she would be doing the session. We’d be in a one-way mirror.

And then about 40 minutes into an hour and a half session, we’d switch and the family would come behind the one-way mirror. The interns would come and sit in the circle and the therapist and the family would watch the interns and us have a conversation. Wow. I really noticed Dad got really quiet, dropped out of the conversation when, oldest kid

said X or Youngest kids said why? And the therapist like, like it seemed like the therapist might, if I was in the shoes, I’d be curious what the younger kids said. then eventually we got to be the person conducting the session with the family and the other team would come in on our session. To just see different [00:42:00] viewpoints, so You and I are having this conversation here and I can only see your face right now, but I can almost feel the audience listening in and there’s training.

I earned every one of these gray hairs. But the being aware of multiple perspectives at the same time definitely helps

me as a podcaster cuz it’s not just, I can’t just get lost in the conversation. That you and I are having, or me and my guest are having and provide all the value I want to be here with you, but also aware that listeners and who you care about, listeners and the impact you wanna have in your marketing and your B2B marketing, that you’re listening for tips and strategies.

It’s like sitting in the room with us. Just like it was back in the day when I was behind a one way mirror. And then got to be in front here’s the conversation now. But there’s other people who are really paying attention, even if they’re quiet right now, they’re not saying words into the room, but their needs, their desires, their [00:43:00] passions, their challenges are all in the room.

When you and I are having this conversation absolutely translates.

Casey Cheshire: What did you call that kind of therapy when you had the mirror and the people in the room?

Paul Zelizer: It’s a one-way mirrors the actual but it was just fa I was on a family therapy team. It was a training team in my internship site at a community mental health clinic. This was in Massachusetts, way back in the day.

Casey Cheshire: You know what it reminded me of? I’ve definitely heard some talk around, I dunno if Chris Voss and the negotiator, the FBI negotiator, the I’ve definitely heard that on negotiation teams, you never just have one person. You’ve got one person talking and you’ve got someone else, listening for certain things and another person’s just recording.

They’re just writing things down and that way it frees you up not to have to re you know, remember certain things. But I can totally see the value of, you and I are chatting and then. And then what happens? Like you mentioned something very interesting that maybe I didn’t get a chance to talk to or I didn’t even [00:44:00] catch.

And to have them come in and wouldn’t that be an interesting podcast

to have two hosts, right where you

Paul Zelizer: Right Come on. All you people behind the one-way mirror. Now you

come and talk about what Casey and I have been talking about. Totally.

That’d be fascinating. Yeah.

Casey Cheshire: that question they wish they could have asked Or I I heard things change a little bit when this happened I wanna ask you more about that and then you switch and it’s like you

Paul Zelizer: That’d be Fascinating. Yeah.

Casey Cheshire: Good stuff I could talk to you all day but I’d love to just ask you quick question Podcasting’s amazing but dot What’s your Biggest challenge? still with

Paul Zelizer: honestly, not much. It wasn’t always true,

Casey, but these days I have workflows. I, what’s hard, I still am looking to scale the show finding scale, given some of the choices I’ve made. I don’t do video, it’s audio only. I really have conversations with people who are pushing the edges and just by definition, if you think of a bell curve on [00:45:00] any topic I’m going for a slice.

So there’s like a tension, not a challenge, but just a tension based on the choice of being like far out on the impact scale. There’s a bell curve,

the numbers of folks it, and that’s fine for me revenue wise, but there is a desire to have more positive impact. And so there’s a tension between, I

don’t wanna like back off of the people who are pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with impact as much as possible.

And if I backed off and made it a more middle of the road focus on impact, it would probably appear to appeal to a

wider audience. But I don’t wanna stop interviewing

some of the most, like when I say impact business owner, like they’re pushing the, so there’s a, it’s more of a tension than a challenge.

That, but that’s what comes to


Casey Cheshire: The fun guests or the impactful guests the business sense guests the ones that yeah it all is you can have a whole be before before that But we [00:46:00] chat again 50 episodes from now What do You want

Paul Zelizer: One of the things I’ve been thinking about and can’t say a lot yet, but as we’re in conversation, I want to be synced up with other impact podcasters. So certainly there’s a podcast network conversation going on. There’s a lot of siloing, not just in the impact space, but certainly in the impact space.

So I want it to be, Not just about me and my podcast and this guest. I want to help find ways to other people understand the power of podcasting. And put it in the, a mentor of mine is the metaphor of a dog sled, right? if you get all the dogs pulling in the same direction with a good

kind of like team spirit, there’s nothing that can move you through extreme circumstances like a dog

sled. And so I feel

a little

rogue partly because like I just got started so early and partially because I both through my training that I did learn eventually how to leverage, but also [00:47:00] because I’ve worked for a conference in Silicon Valley and I’ve been to Google and I’ve talked to the.

People who built Twitter and like I’ve been really blessed to have some. Very robust mentoring and be part of conversations early. I’m a little bit more of a lone wolf than I want to be. I did, I have a great network, but I want the podcast to plug into something that’s larger than one podcast that’s a real focus of mine and.

There’s a bunch of conversations about what that might look like, but it hasn’t all landed yet, so I wanna be able to say in 50 episodes, Casey, it landed. We landed that plane and it’s really fun to be pulling in the dog sled with a bunch of other impact crazies.

Casey Cheshire: Oh love that The impact led to impact Oh man and you have a fake fur coat on You’re like we’re doing it we’re doing

Paul Zelizer: Oh yeah, yeah, So you’ll either see me in Burning Man or something with a sled in the middle of the desert, or I’ll be somewhere in the [00:48:00] wilds of Maine with a dog sled or

something. I don’t know.

Casey Cheshire: Heck yeah. Maine is right next to me so let’s make that a on the list for sure Dude this has been absolutely fantastic Where can people connect with you reach out to

Paul Zelizer: Yeah, so socials, I’m most active on LinkedIn. I’m on all the platforms, but I’m not really on all the platforms. LinkedIn is really where I’m, if you send me a message, I’ll answer you. You can send me a message on Instagram, but you’ll probably never hear from me. Just. Not my thing. And two websites, if you wanna listen to the podcast, aware and we’re on all the


But there is a podcast a site just for the podcast and for my coaching and consulting you. It’s my name, paul

Casey Cheshire: Beautiful Amazing Thank you so much Paul Like fantastic conversation sometimes you interview people and you have a conversation you’re like oh that was good we learned a lot But then there’s other times where’re like I’m gonna stay in touch with this guy and for sure we’re gonna go hiking[00:49:00]

Paul Zelizer: I’d love to do

Casey Cheshire: so much for coming on here

Paul Zelizer: Thanks so much for having me, Casey. I really appreciate it.

Casey Cheshire: And for those listening if you learn something and I freaking know you did cause I literally

have two pages of notes over here front and back Then share this episode with one person nine people 3000 people With that Paul Thanks again man

Paul Zelizer: Thanks

so much Casey.

Casey Cheshire: All right everyone This has been another crazy episode of creating the Greatest Show We will see you And next time doesn’t have to be next week Life’s too short And we have way too much to talk about Find show notes full of takeaways lessons and links at For more information on launching your own podcast or working with us to produce your existing show come on down to the big tent at Until then friends whatever you do it with all your might work at it if necessary early and late in season and out of season not leaving a stone unturned and never deferring [00:50:00] for a single hour that which can be done just as well Now PT Barnum

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