The New Man Podcast Turns 10: A Few Lessons I’ve Learned Along the Way
Below is a transcription of this video:
More and more people say they want to make an impact with their work. In this video I’m going to share some of the lessons I’ve learned from delivering millions of downloads of The New Man Podcast for over 10 years. And at the end of the video I have a special request to make of you.
A few months ago, The New Man turned 10 years old. That means 200 plus episodes have been downloaded millions of times by men and women all around the world. This is hard for me to grasp as I sit in my home office where we live near the beach in North Carolina.
I’m not the most sentimental guy which is why I’ve resisted doing anything to mark this occasion, but I thought it would be cool to share some insights and lessons I’ve learned from doing the show. My hope is that these lessons will help you in whatever you’re creating in your life, relationships, or business.
First I want to talk about Mission.
Before I started the podcast I had spent years working with and learning from some big names in personal development. I was having amazing insights and experiences, but I was living in a bubble.
I realized that there were guys that I cared about who were going through challenges were not going to read a book or reach out for professional help. It really frustrated me that there was this disconnect between these ideas and people that could really benefit from them.
One day I had a conversation with mentor. I was bitching about gap between information and the guys who needed it. I said something like, “Why isn’t anyone bridging that gap? Why isn’t someone making this information more accessible to men without dumbing it down or coming across as some neutered new age wimp?”
His response? “Because that’s your job.” This hit me like a ton of bricks. It was true. Scary.
I started the podcast not to help the guys who were already into personal development. I wanted to make personal development and resources more available to any guy who could benefit from it.
In 2007 it was even more taboo to talk about doing things to improve our relationships, professional lives, and sex lives. That’s what women were watching on Oprah. The self help section at the bookstore was full of books aimed at women. And as men there was this underlying fear that if you were seeking this kind of information it somehow implied that you were flawed or weak for wanting help.
My main desire was to get to a point where these topics were old news instead of taboo. My hope was that one day there would be many shows out there addressing topics that would improve the lives of men, too.
10 years later that’s happening. The last time I checked there are a ton of podcasts geared towards men and these topics. And guys like Joe Rogan and Tim Ferriss and starting to bring it more and more into frame for high performers and the mainstream.
Years ago, I was scared to tell friends I was going on meditation retreats for fear of being made fun of. I was scared that folks would find out I worked with a therapist to get help with dealing with Mom’s death. These days it’s becoming cool to meditate or read personal development or hire a coach. I’d like to think that The New Man has played a small part in that shift.
The first lesson I want to talk about is what I call, “Playing Your Own Game.” It’s at the core of what I coach others to do, and it’s central to how I’ve designed and live my life.
I’ve been asked many times how to build a popular podcast. And the only answer I can give is that I simply follow what inspires me: I don’t pick topics because they’re en vogue. It’s always been about honing in on what’s exciting to me and what stokes my curiosity.
Never really considered myself podcaster — I was a professional coach who had a podcast. Not out to compete with anyone. More focused on delivering stories and insights that would really help people. I knew if I focused on what was unique to my world, then you couldn’t find this material anywhere else.
But most importantly, I want the guy who finds The New Man two years from now to benefit from an interview I did 5 years ago. It’s always been about the long game.
I’m sure if it was all about the numbers, I could do many things differently. I’ve considered doing some of that stuff over the years. But I just couldn’t play that game and still enjoy it. I had to do it my way, and I’m grateful I have.
I’ve learned a lot from focusing on what’s happening in my coaching sessions. I often hear from listeners, “It’s like you’re in my head.” That’s happening because I’m having transformative conversations with people daily. Those conversations give me invaluable insights into what men are thinking and wanting. This is how I can dial into what really matters and what really works.
So the takeaway here is to play your own game. Don’t get caught up in what others are doing. Just stay focused on what really matters and what really works. That’s far more valuable than rankings or metrics.
The next lesson I’ve learned is that this work is not about how to be a man.
It’s time I also shared a secret. This show has never really been just about men: For me, it’s easy to talk to men. It’s easy for me to help men. But I’ve never felt like anything covered on this show was really exclusively just for men. When I’m creating content, I’m always considering if and how this may help the women in my life.
I get asked lots of stuff about masculinity and being a man and all of that stuff, and I just don’t bite on it. For whatever reason, most of the time — not all of the time — those questions seem to come from a place of wondering how to perform like an ideal. In my opinion, those are all forms of domestication. They’re defensive positions. “Tell me what to do or how to act so that nobody criticizes me or judges me. Tell me what to do so that people will accept me.”
But I’ve spent my life trying to strip those expectations away so that we can simply have the guts to be who we are. That’s far more bold and daring than making sure we grow a beard, or be a quote alpha male, or act a certain way in a given situation.
I remember being interviewed by some guy and he asked me something about being an alpha male and my reply was that worrying about being an alpha male was the least alpha male thing we could do. It’s not leading. It’s not listening to our inner knowing. It’s not trusting ourselves. It’s simply learning how to put on an act. An act that we’ll all see through anyway.
When we let go of the ideals and expectations, we may find that a man is stronger and more energized and free when he expresses himself in a way that others may judge as feminine. The flip side could be true for a woman. And that takes guts to own and become who we truly are rather than strive to fulfill the expectations of others. A lot more guts than putting on an act.
I’m far more inspired by people who play their own game. The folks who have the guts to simply BE who they truly are. That’s why I named my daughter Be. That’s the one lesson I wanted to make sure she learned. And her name is a reminder to me to keep things in check with myself.
I’ve never wanted The New Man to be a prescription for how to be a man. It’s been much more focused on how we can all be more human. And I think that’s why I hear from so many women about how the show has been so helpful for them, too.
So the takeaway here? Have the guts to be your own person instead of trying to be someone that you believe you’re supposed to be.
Another big lesson that has consistently come up in the interviews is the importance of seeing one another as human. This is challenging for me. When I feel like I’ve been wronged or I’m feeling fearful, the first thing I want to do is put that person — the enemy — in a box and no longer see them as a real person. I want to see them as dumb or evil. It makes it easier to hate them when we strip them of their humanity. It makes it easier to do something hurtful to them if I don’t believe they’re going to be hurt.
It’s easy to see how this plays out in politics and on the world stage, but it’s been amazing to hear how relationships with our partners and families and co-workers — the people who have the biggest impact on our lives — are transformed when we learn how to just shut the hell up for a minute and just listen to their side of the story.
This lesson has shown up so many times on The New Man and it will keep coming up because we all — myself included — need some serious help in this arena if we really want things to get better. We’re not going to improve things by diminishing others. We’re not going to improve things by simply finding ways to dominate others. That’s only going to come back around and bite us in the ass.
Now I want to share some gratitude: This podcast wouldn’t have happened if I did it alone.
Casey Capshaw: He was by my side in the beginning, helped me own role as host, gave me insights into what would be good content, and stood shoulder to shoulder as we figured out what the hell a podcast was. There weren’t any models to copy back then.
Charles Gammill: Behind the scenes tech stuff, sound stuff. Been there since day one.
Ryan Oelke and the Falling Fruit crew: Falling Fruit is long gone, but Ryan and Vince and the staff at Falling Fruit were integral to getting The New Man into orbit so many years ago.
Susan and Tim Bratton at Personal Life Media were in the game for a while as well.
My buddy Brian Johnson has been solid, consistent support over the years. I’ve come to him many times when I was uncertain, and he’s always redirected me back to my strengths and mission.
I want to thank my wife, Alyson. She’s been such a support over the years, but most importantly she helps me hold a high bar for what gets discussed on the show. Just having her in my life makes me a better person in everything that I do. And I also think it’s strange that the interviews we’ve done together are some of the most popular shows we’ve done.
Obviously I want to thank the guests — So many people have shared very private, very vulnerable things with me and the listeners. I’ve learned that if we’re willing to listen and ask bold questions, we can discover a side of someone that we never could have imagine was there.
And I want to thank the people who have listened over the years. Knowing that there are men and women out there who are benefitting from these podcasts keeps me inspired to create them.
Which brings me to my request for you.
I love hearing how the show has impacted people. Download numbers allow me to see that people are listening, but I find much more meaning in the impact rather than numbers. Often times, I’m just sitting here with a microphone in my face. I don’t even get to see my guest, much less all of the people listening. I don’t really know what happens once folks listen.
So I’d love to hear a story from you — if listening to The New Man has had some kind of impact on your life, what has it been? It doesn’t matter how small or large. It would mean a lot to me to hear what that has been for you.
To share your story just go to the new man podcast dot com and use the contact form there to send me a message. You can remain anonymous if you like. Again this is what lights me up, and I’ve never asked for this kind of feedback specifically. I’m excited to hear from you.
Here’s to a decade of learning and growth. I hope you can use some of these lessons in your own life. Be sure to subscribe on iTunes and YouTube, and thanks for listening.