Brian Gilham

Engineering leader, husband, and father

podcast

Coronavirus: Pregnant in a Pandemic →

With my wife and I expecting our first child in roughly four weeks, the latest episode of Science Vs, discussing the risks for pregnant women and newborns, felt timely and reassuring.


The end of the beginning →

Almost three years ago, a group of us from TWG participated in management training offered by Jonathan & Melissa from the Raw Signal Group. Their lessons, insights, and values played a huge role in helping to shape who I am as a manager.

The latest edition of their newsletter hit on something I’ve been acutely feeling, this week.

That’s the challenge for all of us as we head into this next phase. The end of the hectic, new information everyday, everything swirling chaos phase. And into the middle part. The I’m bored, my family is bored, every day is Groundhog Day, and I am all out of ways to make chickpeas interesting phase.

Their appearance on BetaKit’s Black Swan podcast1, “Managers Are Not OK”, is also a really great listen. If you’re a manager and you’re struggling right now, I’d suggest checking it out.


  1. Full disclosure: TWG is a sponsor. [return]

Test Your Idea (And Assumptions)

Lately, I’ve been playing around with the idea of creating a Monday Mailer podcast featuring audio versions of my articles, along with occasional original content. I’ve dabbled with audio projects in the past, but never on a regular basis. It’s an exciting idea, but I’m most definitely an amateur when it comes to this sort of thing. It can be scary to try something outside your comfort zone, whether it’s a side project, added responsibilities at work, or a new hobby.

Lately, I’ve been playing around with the idea of creating a Monday Mailer podcast featuring audio versions of my articles, along with occasional original content. I’ve dabbled with audio projects in the past, but never on a regular basis. It’s an exciting idea, but I’m most definitely an amateur when it comes to this sort of thing.

It can be scary to try something outside your comfort zone, whether it’s a side project, added responsibilities at work, or a new hobby. You’re putting yourself out there, raw and vulnerable. But if you don’t push your boundaries every once in a while, you’ll never grow.

I have no idea if my podcast idea will be well-received. So, instead of jumping in with both feet, I’m reframing the concept as a simple test. There’re a few questions I’m hoping to answer:

  1. Is a podcast something my audience wants?
  2. Do I have the ability to produce a quality episode, each and every week?
  3. Can I speak in a way that’s warm and inviting, rather than annoying?

Instead of committing lots of time and resources to trying it out, I’m putting on my lab coat and testing a hypothesis: “I can produce a podcast episode that people will enjoy listening to.” You can take this approach in your work, too.

Break your idea down into the smallest possible version of itself. Ask yourself:

“What’s the least I can do to test this out in front of real people?”

Cut everything else out and share it with the world. Right now. It isn’t easy – you’ll worry it isn’t polished enough. But that’s the point. If your audience doesn’t “get it” in the rough stages, it’s unlikely a few extra hours of work will change their minds. You can always improve it later if the feedback is positive.

In my case, I recorded a quick test track – around a minute and a half long – and put it up on my website. I added a quick, anonymous survey and tweeted out the link. So far, the feedback has ranged from “This is awesome!” to “You sound like you’re copying Ira Glass.” Some of the more critical comments sting a little, at first. But I’d rather hear them now than ten episodes down the road.

It’s important that we separate ourselves from our work, sometimes. Don’t hold any idea so tight you can’t make changes or move on if needed. It might take 100 failed experiments before you find something that works. And that’s okay.

Real success isn’t hitting it out of the park with every at bat. That never happens. Real success is spending your time on what matters and making the most of it.

Until next time,

–Brian