Michael Roderick

Michael Roderick: How to Get the Meetings, Friends, and Connections You Want (#158)

Our guest today: Michael Roderick

Michael Roderick is the Founder of Small Pond Enterprises LLC., a company that offers consulting services, workshops, and events to promote and facilitate entrepreneurship and connecting opportunities.

This episode is created for people who want to learn more about:

  • How to navigate significant shifts in careers (average employment today in 2018 is 4.6 years)
  • How to gain access to anyone, across industries

Michael went through a number of significant and unlikely career changes. For example, he went from working as a high school teacher to a successful Broadway producer in under two years.

He founded The Connecting Connectors Conference (ConnectorCon). He also started an arts incubator program to teach more artists about building and growing their own businesses (PLAE).

Access to Anyone is Michael Roderick’s podcast, which he co-hosted with Michael Schein. 

Careers, especially the ones where you find fulfillment and desire to stick to for a long time, don’t surface on their own. His podcast explores the tools, methods, and technology that will get you the meetings, friends, and connections you want.

What I personally love the most about the show is that it’s rich in content and lighthearted in execution. One approach that I can relate to the most is the idea to Connect Across Industries. Because our own podcast, Feisoworld, has historically gone after people from different walks of life, many of the guests have come together to start new and interesting projects, such as video production and web development.

If you want to learn more and connect with Michael Roderick, visit his website at http://www.smallpondenterprises.com/

Show Notes

  • [07:00] On your website, it looks like you’ve lived multiple lives. You’ve done so much stuff and so different. Can you tell us more about it?
  • [08:00] Does your background help you having less fear to transitions and changes?
  • [09:00] What was your very first transition?
  • [10:00] What was your experience with middle school?
  • [12:00] Can you share more details about your upbringing?
  • [14:00] You were a teacher before being a broadway producer, right?
  • [16:00] What was it like to move to NYC?
  • [18:00] How did you navigated through the standard and classic, already established, old fashioned producers/writers in NY and managed to get your way through?
  • [21:00] How old were you when you started teaching and when you moved to NY? When did you leave broadway to start your own business?
  • [23:00] Is Connector Con still ongoing?
  • [24:00] Could you introduce the conference for us? What’s the target audience and who should take part of it?
  • [26:00] How has your experience with Connector Con and what did surprise you from the experience?
  • [30:00] In your podcast, you are sometimes answering several questions instead of asking them. Was that intentional?
  • [42:00] How do you balance content and the type of deliveries for your show?
  • [45:00] What is the question(s) people need to ask you in order to really get to know you?
  • [47:00] How did you own business started? How did you find your mission?
  • [50:00] How did the artistic community react to your initiative? Sometimes the intention can be there but the reaction could be tough until they get familiar with it.

Favorite Quotes 

[08:00] Transition is the type of thing that is very tricky and painful at first, but after you pull that first band-aid, it feels less intense. You reach a point where even if you have to make that transition, you feel comfort there, and makes it less overwhelming.

[18:00] In the initial stages, it was all about ‘what could I learn’. I was always approaching things from an educational standpoint. Even if something didn’t work. This is something I’ve been stuck with all my life and that has been really helpful. Anything that doesn’t work is not failure, it’s new information.

[24:00] It’s all about making introductions, developing partnerships and building relationships. The idea is to bring people together, who are connectors, who are interested in this idea of connecting, who love to bring people together from lots of different industries and worlds, and providing top level education and experiences that would get them to think differently about the world around them.

[26:00] The interesting thing about impact is that there’s this idea that the strongest results come from your weakest connections, so the people that you barely know are often the ones that will be able to help you the most.

[28:00] Cross-pollination of industries can be such a powerful thing when it comes to learning, connecting, opportunities. That level of diversity, of mixing, really brings new perspective, new ideas to the table, and I love that.

Transcript

Michael Roderick How to Get the Meetings, Friends, and Connections You Want.m4a: Audio automatically transcribed by Sonix

Michael Roderick How to Get the Meetings, Friends, and Connections You Want.m4a: this m4a audio file was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the best speech-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors.

Fei Wu:
Hey. Hello. How are you? This is a show for everyone else. Instead of going after Top 1% of the world. We dedicate this podcast to celebrate the lives of the unsung heroes and self-made artists.

Michael Roderick:
I think transition is the type of thing where it's very, very tricky and kind of painful at first. But I think after you've pulled off that first Band-Aid, it feels less intense. The idea is to bring people together who are connectors, who are interested in this idea of connecting, who love putting people together from lots of different lots of different industries and lots of different worlds, and providing top level education and experiences that will get them to think differently about the world around them. There's this idea known as the law of weak ties. And the concept is that your strongest results come from your weakest connections. So the people that you barely know are often the ones who are able to help you the most. I just find that the cross-pollination of industries can be such a powerful thing when it comes to learning, when it comes to connecting, when it comes to opportunities and that level of diversity, that level of mixing, you know, just really brings new perspectives, new ideas to the table. And I love that. That wanted these artists to stop thinking that their worth was tied entirely to people outside of them. Because I think that's one of the most dangerous places you can be if you believe that you're worth belongs in the hands of other people, then you are always going to be running around trying to impress, trying to prove yourself to other people, as opposed to understanding that you have worth and that people will pay you for things and that there is that opportunity. That was just a very, very big driver for me.

Fei Wu:
Hey Feisworld Podcast listeners, this is your host, Fei Wu. And now this is a brand new episode of our show. I'm always super excited because it takes a long time trying to track down the right guest and coordinate with themselves, or sometimes with the people who are in charge of their schedule. Well, today I'm very thrilled to welcome Michael Roderick to the show. It's totally worth the effort. Michael is the founder of Small Pond Enterprises LLC, and this episode is created for those of you who not only want to learn more about coaching, starting your own business, creating incubators, but also need to relate to someone who has navigated significant shifts and changes in his or her career. Our guest today, Michael Roderick, is the perfect person to tell that story. He went through a number of significant and unlikely career changes from high school teacher to Broadway producer. In under two years, people raised eyebrows and started to ask him how he managed to do that. And he's here to tell you all about it. And Michael founded the Connecting Connectors Conference. It's a mouthful, so it's known to be the Connector Con, which has an upcoming event later this year. He has also started an arts incubator program to teach more artists about building and growing their own businesses. People aren't born but made into coaches and entrepreneurs. In fact, people change their careers today more often than ever in history. Average employment is 4.6 years, according to the balanced career dot com. And job hopping is the new normal for millennials. Michael levels up our conversation through the learnings and resources from running his podcast called Access to Anyone, which I'm a big fan of careers, especially the ones where you find fulfillment and desire to stick to for a long time, doesn't surface out of nowhere.

Fei Wu:
His podcast explores the tools and methods and technologies that will get you the meetings and friends and connections that you want and need. And what I love the most about the show is that it's rich in content and lighthearted in execution. One approach that I can relate to the most is connect across industries. Feisworld is a proven example and has historically gone after self-made artists from many walks of life rather than just focusing on specific vertical. This alone opened doors for me and for my business and also personal growth. We have had several coaches joining the show lately. If you are a avid listener of Feisworld Podcast, thank you. Love to you. From Michael O'Brien to Lisa Guida to Nicole Jansen. And today, Michael Roderick, I welcome you to check out all of them if you have the time. And many of them are lined up right before this episode. So finish this one. Go back a few more and feel free to submit any questions to me at Faye. at Feisworld dot com Faye.. Again, spelt F's and Frank I. In many ways I see these people, these coaches, entrepreneurs as self-made artists. None of them goes after the masses, but often focus on a small subset of people to attract and to do business with. Hence, they have to work hard to curate and craft messages that resonate and are truthful. Without further ado, please welcome Michael Roderick to the Feisworld Podcast. Michael Roderick. I'm so glad that you're on the Feisworld. Welcome.

Michael Roderick:
Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to be here.

Fei Wu:
I know, right? Isn't that crazy that you and I connected through? Adam? We got on the call. I mean, literally within minutes, I knew I wanted to interview you.

Michael Roderick:
That's. That's very, very kind.

Fei Wu:
You know, I typically don't do this, but I after reading your bio, both on LinkedIn and the about page, I mean, it is just fascinating to me. You're a founder or a speaker, a connector, which is essentially a large part of what you do for your business at Small Pond Enterprises LLC. And I love your about page because there's so much about you I realize you didn't even bring up when we're on the phone.

Michael Roderick:
Yeah. I've lived about 17 different lives as the is the joke I always make when people are like, Well, tell me about your background. Yeah, definitely.

Fei Wu:
Yeah. But somehow it makes it makes a very interesting, very compelling and relevant to people today. And I don't know how you feel about this. I, I feel as if, if people are sort of staggered in their career or simply choosing or forcing themselves to stay in a job for too long, they sort of lose touch. So for you to have to change something again probably feels very natural and non-threatening at all, I guess.

Michael Roderick:
Yeah, I mean, I think they it's kind of the interesting thing. I think transition is the type of thing where it's very, very tricky and kind of painful at first. If it's you're like very, very first transition of going from something that you've been in for a really long time to suddenly going to something new. But I think after you've kind of pulled off that first Band-Aid, if you will, it it feels less intense. So you start to get to a point where even if you have to make a transition, you kind of have this recognition that you've already made it before. And there's that there's that comfort there that makes it less, I guess you could say overwhelming would be the way I would look at it.

Fei Wu:
Mm hmm. Do you remember the first rather significant transition that you went through in your life? How old were you approximately? And what were you doing at the time?

Michael Roderick:
Hmm. That's a really interesting. Yeah, I would say it was right around the time of junior high. I moved from one town to another. I'm from Rhode Island, and, you know, moving from one town to another, you know, kind of just feels like you took a walk for 15 minutes or.

Fei Wu:
Something because.

Michael Roderick:
Rhode.

Fei Wu:
Island is so small. I'm familiar. Yeah, I love Rhode Island.

Michael Roderick:
Yeah, It's. It's amazing. Yeah, I. I remember that we moved from we were in Providence and we moved to Smithfield, which was, you know, just outside of Providence, like every everything else. But it was very different kind of culture. The school that I went to was a more sports focused school, and I wasn't really much of an athlete. So that was that was a very, very interesting kind of moment. And then it was also you have all of your friends in one school and all of a sudden you go into another school and suddenly you have to like you have to make new friends and in essence, you're the new kid. So I think that if I had to sort of thinking back, that was probably one of the very first big transitions I remember experiencing.

Fei Wu:
You know, it's interesting, as you know, I didn't grow up in this country and I remember Junior, you know, I guess middle school, high school both being fairly tough, but I've heard a lot of horrific stories of middle schoolers, like everybody hates middle school. I mean, is that like a kind of a common theme here? And is that kind of was that I expected did you feel more prepared that way? Is like this one's probably going to be pretty tough.

Michael Roderick:
I think that there there's that aspect of that is a time in your life, just from a developmental standpoint, where you're really figuring out who you are. I think, you know, you get to high school when you're a freshman in high school. Yes. You're still kind of trying to figure out kind of the rules of the road, the lay of the land. But middle school is you're going through everything. You know, some some kids are going through puberty, like right then, Right. Some kids are like waiting to be able to go through puberty. So so there's just like so much happening in your brain. And you really are when I think about middle school and I think about things like what junior high felt like, it's this classic scenario of you trying to define yourself based on all of the stuff around you, Right? So so being the person, Oh, I'm the one who listens to Nirvana. You know, I wear the I wear the big flannel shirt or I have the chain wallet, you know, or whatever identifiers you create. So I think that that's probably one of the reasons why middle school can be such a challenge, because there's so much change happening on a biological level in addition to this idea of trying to find your identity.

Fei Wu:
Mm hmm. It's really fascinating to me when people grow up in a smaller town, in a more in a more closed community versus the way I grew up in Beijing of 14 million people. You're overwhelmed all the time. And there's, like, no real theme. There's no consistency in your life, even though you're living in the same place, you know? So I'm kind of fascinated by your upbringing there, too.

Michael Roderick:
Yeah, the whole the whole aspect of being in a small town really, I think changes a lot of the way you perceive things. When I did my student teaching, I taught, of course, at one of the one of the local schools. And it was just it was such an interesting thing to be a student teacher and be in a place that was so small that you would literally see your students at the CVS or the McDonald's, you know, and you just have this moment of like, man, I cannot escape this, you know, or you'll see your relatives out when you're when you're shopping. It's just it's so so like everybody knows everybody. It's really where the name of my company ended up coming from, because all of my friends, when I was thinking of moving to New York, they said, Here, you're a big fish in a small pond. You go to New York and nobody's going to know you. And I said, You know, I'm going to go to New York and I'm going to create my own small ponds. And and that's what I did.

Fei Wu:
But I think, Michael, you just mentioned it was your experience working as a high school teacher before you transitioned into becoming a Broadway producer, right?

Michael Roderick:
Yes. So I did my undergrad at Rhode Island College, and I did all of my student teaching there. And what happened was I got offered two jobs on the same day I was actually directing a show that I had written. There was a break in between just we were working on scenes and I checked my voicemail, and the first voicemail was from LaSalle Academy in New York, basically offering me a job saying, you know, you're going to come in and you're going to interview with the principal, you know, etc.. And then the very next voicemail was my old high school also offering me a job, also being like, we want you to talk to the superintendent. We want you to come in and, you know, have this conversation. And it was such an interesting moment because I had this you know, I had I had this moment of, oh, well, I could totally just like, stay in Rhode Island and I would have kind of everything because they were offering me, you know, head of the English department and the drama department and everything else. And the job at LaSalle. It was just a straight sophomore English teacher position with with the promise that there was the possibility that we could start a drama club, but there was never part of the contract upfront. It was something that we were supposed to be discussing. But I just had this moment, and I'm sure you've probably had moments in your life like this too, where you sort of look at all the things that are so familiar and you say, okay, this is cool and this other thing is a risk. But I feel like it's just going to be I'm going to really regret it if I don't try this out, if I don't do this, this bigger thing. And I moved to New York knowing nobody other than my my roommate at the time who was the campus minister at the school and basically started to get to know people from the from the second from the second I moved here.

Fei Wu:
Yeah. I mean, I think that has a lot to do with your podcast, too. Access to anyone I thought was a very, very attractive show. And because the way that you speak to your own experience and relatable, but I think ultimately, what did you learn through that transition? Like sometimes we see the we see the most issues much bigger than there really are, you know, or sometimes when other people get hurt, I mean, almost like the pain, it's almost more exaggerated, like the way that we interpret them. So what was the transition like? Not knowing anybody in New York is intense, so.

Michael Roderick:
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think it was one of these things of it started with me just kind of trying to figure out, okay, well, what do I do here? And sort of where, where can I focus my time and one. The things that happen was I had met this other director who started a listserv, and the listserv was basically back when, for those of you who remember Yahoo! Groups, when it was like, you know, we had like we had these lists that came out where people would like, post all the things that they wanted, and you'd get this Yahoo Group's email with this long list of things that people were requesting. And what I did was I would just sort of take my off periods at the school and I would read those things and I would just reach out to people and be like, Oh, it looks like you're looking for a stage manager. Here's somebody who auditioned for me or here's somebody who worked for me on this project or that project. And that was the other thing I knew I had to do something. So I started right away just putting together my own shows and and writing my own projects. And I actually took some of my students and I helped produce some of their projects. So I got in the weeds as quickly as possible with creating because I knew that if I wasn't creating, what would happen would be I'd be dwelling on the fact that I didn't know anybody.

Fei Wu:
Hmm. I feel like when I read your bio says high school teachers or Broadway producer, I feel like we need to insert high school English teacher to producer. It feels when you hear the word English to me at least, it feels more natural. All of a sudden that you're writing, you're producing. But I mean, did you have any of that with Seth Godin calls the lizard brain, or did you have any self-doubts in terms of, you know, writing and production are pretty big deals, you know, and especially in Broadway, as you know, that's a definitely it's a very aggressive sort of old men, you know, upper class, that whole vibe. Like, how did you navigate and manage around all that?

Michael Roderick:
Yeah, I mean, I think that in the initial stages it was always about what could I learn? So I was always approaching things from an educational standpoint. So even if something didn't work, I'd always look at it from the angle of what could I learn? And this is something that I've stuck with all my life that's really been very helpful to me is that anything that doesn't work is not failure. It's new information. So I always just kind of look at that and say, okay, based on this new information, what can I discover now? What are the new opportunities like? What can I learn from these experiences? And in education, one of the core things that we learn about is they call it the PA model, which stands for Plan Act reflect you plan the lesson, you act out the lesson, and then you reflect afterwards and you say, okay, how could I make this lesson better? Why didn't the students get get this material? Or what are the issues? And in the theater world, it's the same thing. In essence, you plan, you basically break down a show, you figure out sort of what you want to do. You act, you put the show out there and then you reflect, You sit down and you say what worked and what didn't. And that's what the rehearsal process is. Whenever you're a director, that's that's what you're dealing with. And as a producer, you're doing the same thing. If you're producing a show, you're putting that show up, you're seeing what happen with that audience, and then you're asking yourself what worked and what didn't. So I think that one of the core things that helped me with a lot of those lizard brain moments was really focusing on this idea of new information and reflection as opposed to thinking about all the things that could potentially happen or all the things that I was worried about are concerned about.

Fei Wu:
Hmm, love that. Hi there. You're listening to the Feisworld. podcast. I'm your host, Fei Wu. Today on the show, I'm joined by Michael Roderick, who is the founder of Small Pond Enterprises LLC and the host of the podcast called Access to Anyone. How old were you at the time or the period of your time, age in your life?

Michael Roderick:
So I was, I think, 22 when I started teaching. And I was probably I was either 24 or 25 when I got my first Broadway credit. Yeah, it was around that. Yeah, it was around that time that I that I started that whole process.

Fei Wu:
And how old were you when you left Broadway to start your own business?

Michael Roderick:
So I left Broadway and I say left in that sort of classic, you know, try to get out. But they pulled me back in kind of kind of way because I still ended up raising money for a lot of for a lot of projects after I kind of moved on and started my own business. But I would say I started my own thing probably in like 2010, 2011. But then I had this detour where I worked in an educational technology startup during 2012, and I left the educational technology startup and I did another I worked on raise money for one or two more Broadway shows, and then that's when I started my conference Connector Con. And the conference was really the reason why I started where I started the business that I do now, because everybody was telling me after the conference that they felt like they were in a safe space. They felt like they had learned a lot from me and they were asking me to teach them more. They were they were saying, You really need to do this work on on a larger scale. And I left the educational technology startup in 2013, the very beginning of 2013, and really kind of went off on my own in this classic entrepreneurial journey, if you will.

Fei Wu:
Mm hmm. So Connector Con, is that still ongoing? At the moment, I wasn't sure.

Michael Roderick:
Yeah, we we took a couple of years off because I have a 19 month old daughter. So basically took some time to basically do family stuff and keep it kind of on the on the back burner. But the plan is to do another connector con in December of this year. So right now I'm in the I'm in the planning stages, if you will.

Fei Wu:
And that's awesome. I love this type of event where I think it kind of was an inspiration to start your current company. And at the same time, it's not something you need to give up. It's something you can reintroduce, start and stop as needed. So for those of my listeners who have not been to the conference, could you articulate the format of it? You know, who's the audience? And maybe some people who are listening right now will want to be part of that?

Michael Roderick:
Sure, sure. So the main idea is to bring together people to talk about what is best practice in making introductions, developing partnerships and building relationships. So the idea is to bring people together who are connectors, who are interested in this idea of connecting, who love putting people together from lots of different lots of different industries and lots of different worlds, and providing top level education and experiences that will get them to think differently about the world around them. And that's that's really been a big focus of, of every event that I've ever worked on, including Connector Con is this idea of how do you make a safe space for people to explore and really create new ideas, new concepts for, for their work to get there, to get their projects going and get their projects moving? So that's a lot of the focus. The other big focus of Connector Con is in diversity in regards to industry and level of experience. So the the idea is that we only accept a certain number of people in business categories and also at levels of their business. So it's not just all people who have been at the very, very top. It's not just all people who are kind of in the middle. It's not all beginners. It's a healthy mix of all of those types so that they can help each other and they can support each other.

Fei Wu:
I am so delighted to hear you say that because I think we are often so shortsighted when it comes to who we think we should connect with. Everybody is busy, but all the benefits I've gained from running my own podcast, interviewing people from all walks of life is because there are. Different and like, I don't exclusively go after business people or just artists or just doctors. And to be honest, it's something that some of the listeners struggle with because they might want to hear consistently the same type of stories. Or on one hand I'm trying to like navigate around that, fix it in some case, or explain it better. But on the other hand, I look at what's happening among my guests, which is I imagine what's happening at people attending your conference. They start to connect with one another like crazy, and then it's beautiful. So when you set that, I was thinking, Wow, this is definitely proof, you know?

Michael Roderick:
Yeah. I mean, the the interesting thing about just impact, in my opinion, is there's this idea known as the law of weak ties. And the concept is that your strongest results come from your weakest connections. So the people that you barely know are often the ones who are able to help you the most. And there was actually a study done by a sociologist by the name of Robert Renovator, who he took two groups of college students, and the first group interviewed close friends and family and basically asked those people for jobs. And the second group basically asked people that they barely knew for jobs. And the second group outperformed the first in regards to getting the jobs because the people that they were talking to were in completely different worlds and completely different industries. So they had completely different social circles. And I just find that the cross-pollination of industries can be such a powerful thing when it comes to learning, when it comes to connecting, when it comes to opportunities and that level of diversity, that level of mixing, you know, just really brings new perspectives, new ideas to the table. And I love that. I think that that's such a that's such a great thing. And to your point about the podcast, I think it's one of those things where it's awesome that you're having conversations with people from so many different, so many different areas because people can then see different perspectives. I think a lot of these business podcasts and a lot of these things that are focused on just sort of like one group of people, it creates, I call it the echo chamber of the inland right, where basically everybody kind of knows the same thing or understands the same thing and nobody's really learning anything new. We're all just kind of, you know, talking about the same about the same people. And and that's not interesting to me. What's interesting to me is having conversations with people from lots of different walks of life and again, learning, focusing on learning, focusing on education. That's that's so important.

Fei Wu:
Yeah, exactly. And some of the new questions were even at the same time, it's just the same question with such drastically different answers. I remember I was interviewing head of Oncology at Mass General and I was hesitant, but I said, What was it like for you to go to work? How did you describe a happy day? A good day, right? Like somebody who has to face death all day long and then having if not that, it's having difficult conversations. So he kind of reframed how he thinks about happiness and how he thinks about a successful day. And it was just so fascinating. Like I would have never been in that situation to be able to experience it. I notice, like in your previous I know the format is changing slightly. You have been the person who answers a lot of the questions rather than the person who ask the questions. Was it intentional?

Michael Roderick:
So that actually started as a result of my co-host on the show, Michael Shine, when we first got started, decided that we would ask each other questions and we would kind of dig into just different theories and different things that we were that we were working on. So we just found like it was a great outlet to not have every single episode just be us interviewing other people. And it was just a great way to test some of our some of our theories and some of the things that we were working on. So that's really where the origin of it all kind of came from, where basically we knew that we did want to interview people and that we enjoyed the aspect of interviewing people. But we also knew that there were a lot of things that we were either writing about or working on that we hadn't really spoken about that much. So when you have somebody else on the other side who's hyper curious, asking you about it, you have to dig deeper into the content that you've created. So that was one of the core reasons why we started doing that. And that's that's one of the reasons why, yeah, there will be you know, there's a certain number of episodes where. Just you know, Michael Shannon is just asking me a boatload of questions and I'm and I'm banging through them and really kind of thinking about these these frameworks that I've developed.

Fei Wu:
I mean, how do you receive the questions ahead of time? Your answers are very, very thoroughly like very carefully formulated, like very complete. It didn't sound to me like you just thought of it, even though you might have.

Michael Roderick:
That's a that's a heck of a compliment, because, yeah, every conversation I have is just a conversation. I mean, I have certain things that I know ahead of time, but when somebody asks a question, any time I'm doing an interview, it's it's always just kind of I, I know what my bedrocks are. I know what sort of the core frameworks are that I use and the ideas that I have, but I don't necessarily know how I'm going to execute them in that moment. And I've had many times where I'm explaining something and I surprise myself with something that comes out because I hadn't thought of it, and I'll just be like, Oh wow, that's, you know, I'll sit down and be like, I need to write that down and make that part of my make that part of my daily email, because that was really good, you know, kind of thing. But yeah, there's, there's not a heck of a lot of pre prep, if you will. I know what the topic's going to be. I know the things that I want to make sure that we cover, but I have no idea what questions are going to come after sort of that initial question.

Michael Roderick:
I think that that's one of the best ways to have a conversation is to just be a really, really good listener because if you're listening, you're going to most of the time get your point across, provide something that is helpful and useful as opposed to sitting there and trying to be like, How do I sound? How do I make myself sound smart, you know? And we've had a couple, you know, we've had instances and I've certainly met, met people and had interviews in the past where it was just like the person wasn't really answering the question. They were just kind of coming up with a stock thing that maybe they had read somewhere or maybe that they thought they should say, as opposed to just kind of being themselves. And I'm a very, very big believer in this aspect of just like tap into who you are and answer things as you and and let it flow as opposed to trying to try to control it too much.

Fei Wu:
Right. I mean, I must reiterate the fact that just when I was listening to it, it wasn't because you didn't sound natural. You always sound very I mean, this is the pace that you're speaking, which I love, because instead of rushing to answering something, I feel like, give yourself enough time to actually think through what you're instead of rushing yourself or you. Sometimes when you speak to people, you hear that intensity and just that that stress even there in their voice. Whereas listening to you, it's very relaxing. I also noticed in many of your episodes, I mean, you guys are brutally honest about the answers. I mean, in this case, you, you know, and then which makes me I was curious to one, hear a little bit about what the listeners have said to you and, you know, and to to give my listeners who have not heard of your podcast yet, you know, I was very impressed by, you know, there's one about getting rid of your bad LinkedIn hygiene of basically bluntly reaching out to people, trying to sell you something immediately. And it's so annoying. Something like Tip of my Tongue is like, please, somebody, you know, talk about it and stop this altogether. Right? And then the thought loser versus versus thought leader was so fascinating, too, was a story about some people. I love the story of the young man who is so well curated and that guy had nice hair and even dress nice. And then he basically took I just laughed so hard. He took all the ideas from an obvious book and basically pretended or turn it into ideas that as if he were, you know, he was the owner or of the author to it. Like, how do you deal with that situation? Is that even okay? I mean, these are really real and rough questions out there, you know?

Michael Roderick:
Sure. Yeah. I mean, I think it's I think it's one of those things where we need to take the time to be honest about where where we are. And I think it's also really important to just stress the fact that there is nothing wrong with disagreeing with the way that things are done if you are polite in regards to how you do it. So there are things that, yeah, I do not approve of or that I do not like. But I'm never going to say it in a way that is attacking somebody, right? I'm always looking at this as if something comes up, if there's something I disagree with. It's not about saying, you know, this person's stupid or this is a bad idea. It's about this is not you know, this is something that I'm not a fan of and I'm letting you know it because I know that there are other people out there who are also not a fan, but they may not want to say anything right now. They may not want to put it you know, put it out there right now. And I think there's just a there's a big difference between the sort of the person who sort of actively bashes people and the person who shines a light on all of the things that other people want to say.

Michael Roderick:
And that's really for me, especially when it comes to relationship building. That's where I live. I really have a lot of pet peeves around content that is going to hurt and cause more problems for people when they think it's going to help them. When they when somebody gives them poor networking advice and then they go out there and they use that poor networking advice because some expert told them that this is the way to do it, and then they have this horrible experience. I don't want more people to have that horrible experience. So if I see something that I don't think works or I've had personal experience with it, I'm going to let people know. I'm going to be honest about what I see and what I and what I notice because I want them to not fall into that trap. I want them to be able to watch out for those types of scenarios and problems.

Fei Wu:
I think that's precisely what Seth Godin does every single day. First thing in the morning is that, you know, whether big or small. He writes about his observations, which I see some parallel there with honesty and backed with evidence and facts and, you know, research and reading and information. You know, I think that you said it in much more elegant ways on one of your episodes is, you know, when, like you said, when people attack one another not being nice and how do we argue with the other person if the other person is purely assessing the situation based on feelings, you know, things like that. And I just I love how you articulate a question or a problem and also provide a potential solution or perspective to look at it. Right. So it's not just it's not just complaining about certain behaviors, even though they're definitely worth complaining and pointing out. But I love how to always turns around and like it comes full circle to at the end of the episode, you feel like there are some real concrete next steps and key takeaways without being forced upon you.

Michael Roderick:
Yeah, I mean, I think that that is one of the more important things that you can do in any in any industry, in any business if there are problems. Voice the problems. But don't just take yourself like let yourself off the hook after voicing the problems, suggest solutions. They don't have to be great solutions, but they should be something that can help because we don't want to live in a world where all that happens is people complain and nothing actually gets done. Nothing. No problems actually actually get solved. So I'm always about the idea of, yeah, if we're going to complain about it, if we're going to bring it up, if it's going to be an issue, then let's at the very least suggest some kind of solution, some kind of way of dealing with it.

Fei Wu:
Hi there. You're listening to the Feisworld podcast. I'm your host, Fei Wu. Today on the show, I'm joined by Michael Roderick, who is the founder of Small Pond Enterprises LLC and the host of the podcast called Access to Anyone. Changing the angle a little bit, but still just a bit more. On podcasting, I have this urge and I think you said that to. I just absolutely love talking to other podcasters and content creators in general, but especially podcasters because I feel like I'm still in the trenches day in and day out and I love it. So I love the brutal work. And as you know, I think when when I think about podcasting, I never knew before I started just how much sheer hard work and how it tests your freaking patience right to the limit. And because, you know, writing is tough enough, but in this case, on top of recording and producing it and show notes and I think we are all human beings after we want the downloads, you want this and that. But I mean, I don't even care about the downloads as much. I wonder, how did you find yourself in the groove in terms of preparing some of these questions to say, Hey, I think we've found our niche or we found the angle versus, Oh my God, are we all over the place? Are we providing people with value? I mean, how do you balance like what people want versus what you're delivering for the audience of one that you are proud of?

Michael Roderick:
Sure, sure. I think ultimately it comes down to the idea that there is a there is an overall theme. So we can go in a lot of directions. But the theme of the show is this aspect of relationship building. The theme of the show is that we're always going to get to at some point somebodies best practices or somebodies opinions or somebody's thoughts about relationship building. We can talk to them about their background. We can talk to them about all the expertise that they have in different areas. But at some point there's going to be some discussion about how does this person operate in the world of relationships. So I think that the the anchor. For me is the idea of theme and to really just make sure that there is that theme running throughout, running throughout the show. We can have a really, really interesting conversation. There could be somebody in a completely different fields, but as long as we are touching on some elements of relationships and relationship building, the audience is going to enjoy the show. I think that's the biggest thing for me is making sure that we stay on that theme. And I even remember when Michael Sheen and I first decided to do the show, we had that discussion where I said, There are a lot of podcasts. What's our theme going to be? Where are we going to focus? And that's where we landed on the idea of relationship building and access to anyone.

Fei Wu:
And that's that's very clear to me. That's still the theme, the theme and I am still working on. And to be quite honest, sometimes I'm like, Oh, I think I totally get this. And some of the other some other days I'm thinking, Oh, I wanted to ask a totally different set of questions that these two episodes all of a sudden don't have a lot in common. I think we're warmed up enough. So I was dying to use a question which I learned, I believe, from Mike O'Brien, a previous guest on the show. He just threw it out there. And I realized, wow, it's such, such a great question I want to ask. Oh, my guests moving forward. So what is the question people need to ask to really get to know you? What questions? Sorry, it doesn't need to be singular.

Michael Roderick:
To really get to know me. Wow. That is a good one. That's like that's like you got to be like, what are the questions I need to ask to really get to know me? I mean, I think they have to ask questions about things other than my business. You know, I mean, I think, like, you know, if you really want to get to know me, it's about asking me something that is not the common thing. And to to tie it to podcast interviews. Some of the best questions I've ever been asked on shows have been about not my business, but some aspect of my life. You know, I remember somebody asking me about why I chose educational theater as a as a major and what that did in my career and what that did in my life. And that was fascinating. So I think that if somebody really wants to get to know me, they they would need to ask questions outside of just my the basic questions that they they would want to ask about my business.

Fei Wu:
Mm hmm. Oh, that's absolutely. I think also James Altucher loves talking about origin stories. And I love asking those questions, like ask people what were like as little kids as ten year old as 15 year old, and these wildest stories just come right out. I mean. Well, there is something, I think, even though related to your business, but in a way, I feel like it's kind of unrelated, which is that you started a I believe, arts entrepreneurship or arts incubator program to teach art is about how to build and grow their business. And the reason for me to find that fascinating is because I have a very soft spot for artists, my entire family, except for myself, who isn't a, you know, full time artist. The rest of them. There are musicians like hard core. My mom is a full time artist and I end up going to, for example, going to art stores a lot. Like my whole life. I live in there. My mom happens to be very successful, but every time I go there with her or go to a gallery, we look at each other and said, Artist students are are the poorest cohort you can find in any school, and yet the paint and supplies are insanely expensive. So. So I think you chose a I don't want to say impossible, but very difficult project that's not there to make money. So I want to hear a little bit more about that.

Michael Roderick:
Yeah. So I mean, basically what I what I noticed was the fact that very, very few people in artistic professions learned anything about business. If we if we look at it from the Gerber E-Myth kind of angle, it's the fact that most artistic positions, like if you go to college for something in the arts, whether that be music, whether it be acting, whether it be dance or visual arts, the idea is that they are honing you to become the absolute best technician in the world. What they're never doing or what they're doing very, very rarely is ever teaching you how. How to be a good manager. Or ever teaching you how to be an entrepreneur. And because of that gap and understanding, because I realized that no artists are ever really taught what entrepreneurship is. I wanted to tackle that. I wanted to basically bring artists who had business ideas or who were starting to develop business ideas together and give them the information that they needed about growing a business, building a business because nobody else was really teaching it at the time. And I did the program for launching artistic entrepreneurs play. I did that for a couple. I did that for a couple of years, and it was one of these programs that, yes, it wasn't exactly a, you know, a moneymaker, but for me it was about really helping to change the mindset of those artists, because artists are built basically are brought up in a culture of poverty.

Michael Roderick:
They're brought up in a culture where it's like the idea is that somebody else chooses you, somebody else finds you, somebody else is responsible for you making money. And there's such a simple shift that can happen in your brain when you make money for yourself, when you actually are the one, you don't have a boss. It's a very, very simple shift in your brain, but when it happens, you are able to start to realize that a lot of what you believed about your worth being tied to other people goes away. And that was a big thing. I wanted these artists to stop thinking that their worth was tied entirely to people outside of them, because I think that's one of the most dangerous places you can be if you believe that you're worth belongs in the hands of other people, then you are always going to be running around trying to impress, trying to prove yourself to other people, as opposed to understanding that you have worth and that people will pay you for things and that there is that opportunity. That was just a very, very big driver for me, and that's why I ran that program.

Fei Wu:
I mean, my previous guest, Barry Alexander from Alexander Bono International, a classical classical music consulting firm in New York, said exact same thing. He said he constantly tells his students and clients that you will you should never, ever think that you're only as good as what other people say you are. That's like lesson number one. And I thought it was just so powerful. And I think about the little things and how I grew up and moments that I thought precisely that. Right. Social media followings, how many downloads. And I realized the moment I snapped out of that mindset, then you can really transform yourself and your business and everything you do in your life. I got to ask, did the artists sort of did they respond well to this? I mean, it's sometimes it's tough. I notice with people I want to help, right? Like sometimes you were there, but their intention isn't quite there yet.

Michael Roderick:
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, you basically have like any other group or class, you have the people who they realize that they're they're responsible for their results. And then you also run into the people who believe that you're there to you're there to solve the problem, that you're there to fix them. Right. And the artist who got that, they had to do something. Those were the ones who really went on to do a lot of really, really interesting things. And the artists who didn't quite get it, the artists who were like, Well, this class is going to turn me into a good person who makes who makes a boatload of money, and they didn't do any work or sort of look at it from themselves. They didn't have as big of an experience as as the others, you know. And I think it really came down to some of them had a very open mind about the fact that they were going to have to do things that were not natural to them. So a lot of the class was about helping them understand how business works and the fact that, you know, you are trying to get people to spend money because you are creating value and you have to be able to communicate that value. You have to be able to come up with some sort of message, you know, marketing concept to get them to believe in that that value.

Michael Roderick:
And some people really got that and really worked towards it. And others, they just they, they wanted to stay in that world of like, I'm just going to be in my corner and do my art and I'm not going to do anything else. And that's that's a choice that that artists make. And the ones who really just took the ball and ran with it have gone on to do some very, very cool things. One of them started a company where she has developed. A new type of garment bag, and she's put together deals with other companies and has a whole sort of distribution side of things like just a lot of stuff going. But she worked. She really saw that there. You have to put in the work and you have to be willing to do the things that aren't necessarily always tied to your art. If you want to build a business and I think that that's at the core of the challenge. There are a lot of artists who believe that they will just keep doing great work and somebody will eventually find them and they never want to step outside of that. And unfortunately for a lot of a lot of people, that means that they don't move past where they are.

Fei Wu:
Yeah, Yeah, exactly. I mean, my mom was lucky to have become a successful artist and she spent the first half of her life not even thinking about marketing until, you know, the world has changed and shifted in so many ways that I've convinced her to also be able to talk about herself, her work, and be open to the new possibilities. And she has now, at the age of 66, she's getting hired, she's getting old types of projects coming her way. She just happy. And, you know, I yeah, it is unbelievable. So.

Michael Roderick:
You know, I think it's you know, you have these conversations and sometimes you're like you said, you're always kind of staying on one in one lane, if you will. And I've just really enjoyed this aspect of of discussing the world of artists and talking about podcasts and structure and all these different types of things. So the thing I would say that I think just bears repeating that's really important for anybody listening to, to think about is always paying attention to that idea of Are you placing too much value in outside of yourself? Are you are you basically looking for others to solve the problem, to fix everything, as opposed to saying, what can I do? And if you know anybody out there who is feeling stuck, that is really one of the core answers is sitting down and saying, what is one simple thing that I could do to start the process of solving this problem? It may not work right away, but what can I do to at least start the process as opposed to kind of always waiting for somebody else to to take it over?

Fei Wu:
Yeah, I love that conclusion. You know, pick yourself, choose yourself. I absolutely agree with that approach. Thank you so much, Michael, for your time. I really so much enjoy this conversation as well.

Michael Roderick:
Awesome. I really appreciate that. Thank you so much.

Fei Wu:
Hi there, It's me again. I want to thank you very much for listening to this episode, and I hope you were able to learn a few things. If you enjoy what you heard, it will be hugely helpful if you could subscribe to the Feisworld podcast. It literally takes seconds if you're on your mobile phone, just search for Feisworld Podcast in the podcast app on iPhone or an Android app such as Podcast Addict and click subscribe. All new episodes will be delivered to you automatically. Thanks so much for your support.

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