Podcast

Episode: 500 |
Will Bachman:
Unleashed: The Origin Story:
Episode
500

HOW TO THRIVE AS AN
INDEPENDENT PROFESSIONAL

Will Bachman

Unleashed: The Origin Story

Show Notes

Show Notes:

Unleashed has been running for six years and has 335,000 downloads. In episode 500 of the podcast, host and creator, Will Bachman wants to share three things: the deep personal history behind the podcast, what listeners can expect going forward, and the impact it has had on him. 

An Interest in Journalism

Will began his publishing adventures in junior high school when he started the Henry James Herald, a photocopied newspaper he sold or gave away in the lunchroom. He  tried to start an alternate to the school newspaper in high school when he found the school paper to be a little less interesting than what he thought it could be. 

Despite not having the opportunity to pursue his initial dream of starting his own newspaper in high school,  his passion for journalism continued in college when he joined the Harvard Crimson. He became a photographer and learned how to develop film and print photographs, spending around 30-40 hours a week as a photo editor. He enjoyed this experience immensely, as it gave him a sense of being in the know and being able to see his photos in print. 

From College to McKinsey

Will discussed his experiences in college, the Navy, and business school related to publishing. During his time in the Navy as a communications officer, he created a bulletin designed to keep the crew informed during a tactical readiness exam. In business school he created an elaborate cheat sheet for his fellow classmates to use in their exams. One day when walking into the exam room, he was thrilled to see almost 80% of the room using his cheat sheet.  And later in his career at McKinsey, he had a dream of gathering together a collection of resources, but never had the time to execute it.

At McKinsey, Will had the idea of getting the whole business analyst class together every Friday morning to share tips and tricks they had learned from their projects.

The Birth of the Book

After being an independent consultant for four years, Will had an idea to write a book about how to thrive as an independent consultant. This was the birth of a book called Unleashed where he could share his experiences as an independent consultant.  Looking back on his life, Will realized that he’d always wanted to talk to people and then share what he’d learned, and that is the purpose of the show: to share practical lessons learned so people can apply them in their professional lives.

Timestamps:

  • 05:26 Taking cheat sheets into Business school
  • 07:26 The birth of an idea at McKinsey
  • 09:21 The creation of the Unleashed logo
  • 11:06 Interviews that address a specific need
  • 12:47 What Will has learned from the podcasts
  • 13:27 Authors interviewed
  • 15:10 The importance of having a podcast
  • 18:49 David Fields episodes

 

One weekly email with bonus materials and summaries of each new episode:

SPEAKERS

Will Bachman

 

Will Bachman  00:02

Welcome to Unleashed episode number 500. I thought this was a good round number and deserved a bit of reflection, a look back as well as what you can expect going forward. I’m your host will Bachman and I should mention Unleashed is produced by Umbrex, you can visit us@umbrex.com. So, episode number one of Unleashed was published on April 16 2017. So this is just shy of six years. And we’re currently at 335,000 downloads, which is many more than I ever expected, but pretty small in the grand scheme of things. I think the Tim Ferriss show probably gets that every five minutes.

 

So what I wanted to do today is to share three things, one, some of the deep personal history behind this podcast. I’ve never really talked about that, and maybe you’d find it interesting. Number two, what I’m trying to do with the show now, and the type of episodes you should expect to see, to hear going forward. And number three, some of the impact the show has had on me.

 

Alright, so some origin story. First, junior high school. So, I went to Henry James Jr. High School in Simsbury, Connecticut. And in eighth grade, I started the Henry James Herald. It was four pages, maybe it was six pages, a little photocopied kind of newspaper. My dad made photocopies at his office, I pulled together a few friends who each wrote articles longhand, and then I typed them up on an IBM Electric typewriter and my dad photocopied it at work. I think that I sold these for a quarter in the lunchroom. Maybe I gave it away for free, I’m not sure. So that was the very beginning of my adventures in publishing. And then in high school, sometime around junior year, I thought it would be fun to start an alternate to the school newspaper, because the actual school newspaper came out twice per semester, it was boring, didn’t really have any news. It was a class I think it was, it was pretty lame, anyway, is somewhat hilarious to me now, that the way I approach this was, I approached my guidance counselor with this idea of doing an alternate newspaper. And of course, my guidance counselor told me it will just join the official school newspaper.

So, it’s um, I’m somewhat disappointed that I didn’t start that alternative paper, it might have been fun, although I probably didn’t have time for it. But it was a good lifelong lesson not to ask those in authority for permission to do something that is outside the control of that authority, the answer is always going to be no. So I did not really do any journalism in high school at all, or any kind of publishing, but the bug remained.

And then in college, I joined the Harvard Crimson. I was a photographer, because that seemed fun. And it seemed like less work than writing articles. I mean, it was doing enough writing for classes and writing news articles seemed like a lot of work. And that really became my major activity in college. I did not know how to operate a single lens reflex camera. And then I comped the crimson and they taught me how to take pictures, develop the film, print photographs. I spent about 30 to 40 hours per week, for a year at least as a photo editor, one year, and that a little bit of writing for the Crimson. And that was so much fun. It’s a big part of my college. And just being part of kind of feeling like you’re in the know and going out and seeing things and then seeing my photos and print was a lot of fun. In college, one semester, I produced some kind of yearbook for the ROTC in the Navy.

 

So I was a submarine officer. As I probably mentioned a few times on the show. On my submarine, I was a communications officer and one of our biggest events on submarine was the tactical readiness exam. And that’s when the ship gets tested on our operational capabilities. And it matters for promotion to some degree for the folks in the operational departments. So we were in some kind of invented, exercise, some blue on red scenario, and I created this bulletin for the crew and we printed it out two to three times per day over the course of this three day exam, and we distributed to all the crew and let them know the status of this evolving strategic situation with this made up scenario, as if they were real news bulletins. And I don’t think the Tre board had seen that before the tactical readiness exam. So that game, they really love that. And they gave us a big thumbs up for for that thing. So that was my little adventure in publishing while I was in the, in the Navy.

 

Let’s see, in business school didn’t really do any journalism. But we were allowed to take cheat sheets into exams. And I guess in theory, the idea was that you would take your own cheat sheet into the exam, but I figured I’d help my classmates. And so I invested hours into creating these really elaborate, like, cheat sheets, like nicely formatted and so forth. And then I just sent them out, emailed them to the whole class several days before each exam. And it was really a thrill to go into the exam room and see about 80% of my classmates using the cheat sheets that I had created. So, but my proudest moment of that was the strategy course, where we had a big number of readings. And on the final exam, we were expected to be able to reference them, and to quote from them. And it was open book, but a lot of people didn’t really want to do all those readings or take notes on them. So, I was this was my proudest moment, I recruited about half of my section of about 30, people volunteered, each one of them read one of the articles or books in detail, and created notes in a template that I created, and then sent those back to me.

 

And then I correlated all those into one single summary document with notes from all the readings. And I sent that out as just a word doc to the whole class. And that was, What I particularly liked about it was this collective collaborative effort. I think that in following years, they sort of outlawed like, this sort of collaborative cheat sheet thing. And you had to create your own cheat sheets. They changed the rules because of because of those. But that seemed to be the whole point of Business School is was collaborating anyway. So, and McKinsey, not exactly publishing, but I had this dream at McKinsey. And I never had time to execute it. What I thought would be awesome, which was gathering together. When I was a business analyst to get getting together the whole business analyst class, I was my head this idea of every Friday morning, we’d get together, and we have two or three people each week brief us on the project they were working on, and share tips and tricks they had learned, obviously, not anything confidential to that client. But things like, Hey, I had no idea about pivot tables, but we had to do this segmentation analysis, and it was spending hours filtering the data. And then my engagement manager showed me I could do all that with a pivot table. Okay. I learned that the hard way myself, or, Hey, I had to run this consumer survey. And here’s how we did it step by step. Here’s how you write the survey. Here’s how you engage with the survey panel, just sharing the sorts of practical lessons learned. So I never organized that sort of get together. Number one, probably no one would have shown up. And I didn’t have the time myself. But that motivation is very direct carryover to this show. This show is essentially an expression of, of that desire, I wanted to do when I was at McKinsey to understand practical lessons learned that we can apply on Monday. And after I had been an independent consultant for four years. So I guess I thought by that point, I was an expert at it. And I had this idea of writing a book on how to thrive as an independent professional. This is back in 2012 11 years ago. And I came up with a title for that book, which was Unleashed. And even though I had not yet finished writing the book, I didn’t write a few chapters of it, I figured I would motivate myself by getting someone to design a cover for the book. So it was putting the cart before the horse and putting the cover before the book, I guess. And that cover logo with a dog leash, and the dog jumping off the page that I designed in 2012 eventually became the logo for this show in 2017. So that’s a little bit of personal history, kind of my motivations.

 

As I reflect back on some of the strands of my life that, you know, I’ve always wanted to talk to people and then publish what I learned, share what I learned. What am I trying to do now with the show and what kind of episodes should you expect going forward? So there are several types of episodes as loyal listeners of the show, will know. So number one, when there’s something that I I’ve learned that I think could be helpful, I will do an episode on that, just me talking like this one. For those, I generally write a script, or at least the set of detailed talking points, I haven’t done as many of those as I’d like, because it takes a bit more activation energy to get all my thoughts in order. And, I mean, that is another advantage of doing one of those episodes, because it actually forces me to think through what I know and organize my thoughts. Now, I could just write those words and publish them. But I am a bit lazy, and writing is hard work. And there’s, for me, just the higher bar for having a published piece of writing than this audio format, you’re listening to now where I can be a bit more informal.

 

So I like to do those audio episodes, part of the origin was I, I’d find myself telling people kind of the same thing over and over again. And so now I started trying to, you know, when I found that situation, do a podcast on the topic, and then I can point people to that podcast episode. The second type of interview is, some are designed to address some specific need, that listeners may have something such as interview I did with Jonah Gruta, about explaining LLC versus S corp, or interviews about how to get business liability insurance and episode we did on how to get health insurance, how to get life insurance, these sorts of very practical ones, or I’ll interview someone very much talk about that topic. That’s the second type of an episode. And we’ll continue to do those. And if you have topics that you’d like us to explore, definitely let me know.

 

Another type of third type is interviews with guests where I’m curious about what they know. And many of these may be on some niche topic that you might not care about. So you should definitely skip those episodes. For me, this podcast format, it’s an amazing way to learn about something. And it’s just incredible gift to be able to interview an expert on the topic, I find it a much faster way to learn than sometimes reading content because it is so interactive. And you can ask for clarification and examples and have more back and forth. So I often find it’s a faster way for me to learn about something. And it’s I find it amazing that people are willing to get on a call and tell me about things that they know. And I’m surprised sometimes that everybody in the world isn’t doing a podcast because it is a great way to learn about a topic. And I won’t go into now, but there are so many things that I have incorporated into my own business into my own practice.

From the 500 episodes that we’ve done in so many guests interviewed technology tips that I’ve learned software tools that I’ve incorporated in my own business and just practices. It’s I mean, it’s been astounding the amount of learning that I’ve had on the show, as well as learning about a really wide range of topics, which I found personally has helped me become more educated talking to clients. Talk about that a minute. And then the fourth type of episode is where I’m interviewing authors. So I’ve had the chance to interview some of my my heroes, some authors that I’m huge fans of Seth Godin, Steven Pressfield Tyler Cowen, Thiago forte, we have an episode with Jimmy Sony coming up. It’s already recorded in the queue, the author of the founders, so hope to do more of those interviewing authors about their book. And it’s really awesome to be able to have a conversation with the author behind the book. For me, it helps the book come alive, and I hope for you as well. And maybe motivates you to go check out the book, if you think the conversation is good. So what has the impact been on me of doing 500 episodes? So let’s see. Few things. Number one, occasionally, I will meet someone who has listened to the show. And they tell me that some episode, help them get started or answered a question that had or was helpful. And that hearing that is just the absolute best feeling ever. So, if you have had that experience, please tell me because it really, really brightens my day. Number two, like I mentioned before, I have learned an amazing amount from about so many industries and functions. It’s made me a far more effective as a leader of a consulting firm, lets me talk about to its clients about a wide range of types of projects. Because by this point, there’s a decent chance I’ve done an episode on that topic, so maybe I’m not I haven’t done it myself, but maybe we’ve had a conversation about it, and definitely helps me learn some lingo and so you know some of the process says end to end of a project, at least getting some familiarity with it. Number three, I’ve learned a variety of technology tools that we’ve used at Umbrex. And then incorporate in my own practice.

 

Number four, I mentioned I got to meet and speak with several of my heroes, some authors that I really like, number five, at least one large client that I can directly trace to this podcast. And exec who became an independent professional, was looking for resources on that listen to this show, you know, reached out to me, we met, he actually attended a full day event that we ran, he was an independent professional while went back and he became a an exec again, and then ended up engaging, engaging our firm. So that was one big client, and maybe there’s been others. Several guests have told me that they were approached by clients who heard them on the show. And that’s been really nice. And it’s also been a great validator. So when Umbrex, when we recommend a consultant to a client, and we can say, hey, this person has been a guest on our podcast, and here’s a link to the episode. The client can listen to that episode before they even interview that candidate. And it helps get that person confirmed on the project. And it’s just a big, big validator to credibility booster to say, hey, we think this person is is smart. And you know, we’ve actually had them on our show. So that’s been that’s been great. Build relationships with guests.

 

So many of the guests that we’ve had, we ended up collaborating on some on some effort. Another benefit is we’ve been able to teach other consultants How To Start A Podcast. So that’s a little meta, but based on my experience running this podcast, we did a podcast accelerator in 2021. And we had about 30 to 40 participants. And I know at least 10 or 12 of them did start their own podcast. And in some cases, we ran one of their episodes as an episode of Unleashed to let people sample that show so that was very fulfilling. Closer to home, my son Samuel started his own show the Half Blood report about the world of Rick Riordan, he and his co host Diego did about 80 episodes. It’s now pretty much on pause. But they were doing it in my son’s freshman and sophomore year of high school. And they may well have done that if you know, Samuels dad wasn’t doing a podcast, but it might have helped a little bit I just helped very small amount in the very beginning, they did the show themselves. And that was fun for Samuel, he ended up interviewing at least 10 adult authors, including Rick Riordan himself as one of the top 10 best selling authors in the world. So that was pretty cool. So I hope that overall, this, I’m going to keep doing it. I keep getting a lot of benefit out of it. And I hope you do as well. It’s a tremendous amount of fun for me, I’m really, for the most part, following my own curiosity, and doing episodes that I’m personally really want to learn about. So I hope that sometimes that curiosity lines up with things that are useful for you. I want to give a few acknowledgments. I want to thank Henrietta Poirier, who’s been helping to edit the audio for the past 200 or so episodes. So thank you, Henrietta.

I want to thank David Nelson, who edited the first 150 episodes. I want to thank Gary nag Bauer, he composed the theme music, which we use for the first 150 episodes. And then we got a little lazy and we stopped, you know, including the theme music. But that was a nice part of the show early days. I want to thank David Fields. He has been our most frequent guest, he was the guest on episode number one. And he’s been back about 10 times and David’s good friend. His episodes are always very popular, and I remain very inspired by David. I also want to thank Of course, all of the guests who have been so generous with their time coming on the show and my wife Margarita, who has been very supportive of this project. Some requests for you. Number one, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say a review on iTunes helps others discover the show. If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Unleashed newsletter at umbrex.com/unleashed. Now, why would you want to subscribe to the newsletter because you probably don’t necessarily want to listen to every single episode of the show. But the newsletter will remind you of new episodes give you the show notes and the transcript and that might point you to episodes you do want to listen to that newsletter has been on pause for about a year or so but we are going to restart it here with episode 500. So number four Three, you might post about an episode that really moves you on LinkedIn or that you find helpful. If you tag me at a will Bachman, that will let me know that you did. And I can comment on it. If you mentioned the show to someone who might find it helpful, that’s great word of mouth is actually probably even more important than the social media for getting people to check something out. And finally, I would love to hear from you. So do you disagree with something I said? Fantastic. I’d love to know why was there something that was helpful to you? Please let me know. Would you like to recommend a guest? Anything? Any observation, shoot me a note at unleashed@umbrex.com or if you already know me, just use my regular email. So thank you for listening and stay tuned for another 500 episodes. Thanks for listening

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