As diverse as the world is, talking about diversity and equality still puts people in vulnerable positions that often attracts a lot of negative reactions. Nevertheless, conversations about these need to be brought up now more than ever. Someone who does exactly that through her podcast, Pause on the Play, is Erica Courdae. The podcast is dedicated to expanding how multicultural professionals and creative small business owners interact with the world. Join host Tracy Hazzard and Erica in this episode as they shed light on the voices that often get lost and the first-time moments podcasters often have to go through – from choosing equipment to booking guests.
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Center Of Influence: Pause On The Play Podcast with Erica Courdae
I’ve got a new podcaster with us, Erica Courdae. She is an entrepreneur, coach and consultant. She is dedicated to expanding how multicultural professionals, managers, lawyers, coaches and creative small business owners interact in the world. Through powerful conversations meant to create dialogue and connection, Erica seamlessly challenges them to perceive reality through a different lens. Her topics include diversity, equality, equity and inclusion which make for the awareness that she uses to create mind shifts for impact. In life and in business, she believes talking about the important and necessary topics in a safe space creates change and helps people feel comfortable, honest and forward-focused. Her podcast just launched and it has fifteen episodes or so and it’s called Pause on the Play.
Thank you so much, Tracy. I appreciate that.
I’m glad to have you here. I’m so excited about the She Podcasts event, which is how we connected, which is coming up this fall in 2019. The first one is going to be in October 2019 and so we got connected to it. What I really love is that I’ve finally gotten way more women on the show than ever before. There’s a bit of diversity going on here as well. With that, I’ve had great cultural diversity as well and you’re one of those. I’m excited to have you on.
Thank you so much for having me, Tracy.
What made you start a podcast with all you’re doing and all that you’ve got going on?
It was funny, it definitely wasn’t planned. The funny part is I don’t know who actually planned it anymore.
You got dragged into it, you don’t even know.
A little and it did happen that way. I had a friend and we recorded for a blog post and it was literally just the two of us within the conversation. The conversation worked really well. It was very fluid. It addressed some really great things and we did it maybe twice and she was like, “This actually fits where Erica Courdae is going and this sounds like a podcast. I think you have a podcast.” I was like, “I have a what?” I was like, “Let’s try it and let’s see what happens,” and I absolutely love it.There are going to be times that people may be quiet, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they're not engaged. Click To Tweet
What’s so interesting though is sometimes we fall into it and we’re like, “It just fits us.” You discovered that exactly as you were supposed to. Were you a podcast listener before that?
I was. I’m definitely someone that likes to take in information that way.
You knew what was happening so you just were surprised you were one of those. How did your launch go? Was it complicated? Did you find it easy? Was it stressful? How did that go for you? For so many, it varies. It’s all over the place in terms of it’s simple for some and really hard for others. How was it for you?
It was pretty simple for me from the point of view that I had already done some of the recordings with my friend who she actually is my cohost very often on my show. I was already in the mode of being able to do it and I wasn’t nervous to fit in front of the microphone and talk. I do like to talk. That part was easy and I didn’t create a lot of preamble around it. I literally decided, “I am going to record. I am going to go through my process of uploading it, simply creating show notes, nothing crazy.” I just did it. The beautiful part about it was that I had people that I was already working with and a little bit of an audience there. It simply became another way for them to take in content for me that for a lot of them was one of the ways that they were already taking in the content. I did not overcomplicate it because I simply said, “I’m going to do it.” I didn’t make it a huge launch thing. It was, “Here we go. We have a podcast.”
You already had an audience. How have they responded to it?
They absolutely loved it. It’s been good because it has prompted some people to come to me and say, “I’m looking for some coaching or I’m looking for some consulting within my brand or my business.” They are coming to me and giving me feedback, which for anybody that’s doing a podcast, they understand how important that is. The audience is listening and you can actually address what they want to hear. It’s been helpful to either have that additional point of view to add in or to be able to have that confirmation that I am on the right track with what I am delivering content-wise.
Erica, you’re really lucky because for a lot of podcasters who started who don’t have an active and engaged community to begin with like you must have already had, they don’t usually hear back until they reach about 25 episodes. It can be really isolating and frustrating and makes you feel like you’re not doing a good job. You’re lucky that you’ve heard back sooner than others.
I think what’s important is that I could easily have inboxes or DMs through social media flooded. I’m getting more of the targeted conversations with people versus just tons of things that maybe aren’t as part in it or it’s a check the block. It is popping up as conversation and I’m continuing it. The other side of it is that even with me having that, it doesn’t always happen every single time.
Sometimes you hit a touchier subject.
Especially because what I do isn’t all rainbows and butterflies, so there are going to be times that people may be quiet, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re not engaged. Sometimes you have to keep still going. You have to speak into the ether and know that somebody is listening. Somebody will pop up. Somebody will interact and not take that as the need to shut it off because you didn’t get that feedback because you don’t know who may have heard it. They simply either didn’t have anything that they needed to say at that moment or they weren’t at that point in the processing of it to have anything to say.
I’m going to deviate from some of my more podcaster-focused questions and talk about something that you and I probably experienced more so because of the types of podcasts you do. For me, the types of articles I write. I write a column for Inc. Magazine in addition to Authority Magazine. It happens invariably that I write about women in diversity, getting more cultural diversity into artificial intelligence and into our technology, STEM and STEAM. Whenever I write about them, I’m trolled on Twitter in a nasty, horrible way. I was like, “Did you read the article? It was really positive. It was not negative at all.” I was talking about how you can be a part of the solution, but it happens invariably and you’re stepping into a territory in which you can have people who don’t even really listen, but are reacting to just the headline or the topic. You’re putting yourself out there in a very vulnerable way. That can be hard when everything you do is so personal on your podcast is you’re making yourself very vulnerable there.
The interesting thing I think about anybody that does anything and you’re a really good example of that in that you’re going to have people that are going to disagree or have a variance of opinion regardless of how far it may go. You can’t prepare or act for those because there’s always going to be somebody, even if it’s just someone that feels as though you have a platform and they don’t and therefore they’re going to manifest the platform for themselves by trolling. There’s nothing you can do. If anything, it’s more of a reason not to allow your voice to be silenced because it’s too often that marginalized groups, women, minorities it is this reason to try to shrink. I absolutely advocate for people not using that as a reason to contract. Using that as a reason that what they’re doing is needed and necessary and that they’re doing the right thing. When they do get those things, it’s like, “Somebody listening,” therefore that’s my indication that I’m doing exactly the work I should be.
I’m so glad to hear that you’re all for moving forward. You have an interesting title here and I want to touch on that because aspiring podcasters get really hung up on how to name their show. Your show is not named what you would typically expect for its topic. It’s called Pause on the Play. How did you come up with that and how did you decide it was right for you?
Strangely enough, I have an amazing friend whose daughter is great with words and she was actually the one that came up with it. It was literally where we were talking about it. This was when it was in its very first iteration as just a blog special. She said it and it was like, “That’s it.” It made perfect sense from the point of view of if you think about sports, it’s like, “Pause on the play because there’s a problem. There’s something going on. We need to stop. We need some addressing. We need to redirect.”
I keep doing that with the news and other things. I’m like, “Pause that. We all need to talk about this.” You’re really onto something there. It absolutely fits what you’re talking about and what you’re advocating for.
That was why when it did come about, it lined up perfectly. It could be very easy to go with something that was very literal. I actually love the fact that it’s not literal. It allows me to speak about what it is that I’m speaking about but because a big focus of what I specialize in is DEI, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. It gives me a lot of places that I can go with it without pigeonholing myself. I have seen people that I know that will have a podcast and they feel like they outgrow it and they have to start all over again. They’ve gotten themselves into this place where it’s like, “I’ve niched down so far. I can’t do anything else with it.”With podcasting, you just have to speak into the ether and know that somebody's listening. Click To Tweet
I’m so glad you said that. There are two schools of thought in how you title your podcast and one is that you title it in the digital marketing world so that it hits the keywords and you’re going to show up in search. The reality is you have more in iTunes and in Google and all the other directories out there and all the AI that controls the search. You have the description and it’s 4,000 characters long and you can use that to fit in all your conversations about diversity and equity. You can put all of that in there so that when someone’s searching for those topics, you show up anyway. When they hear the name, they are like, “This is going to be fun. This is going to be interesting. I’ve got to check it out,” instead of, “This is going to be on-topic and maybe boring.” You’ve given it a personality already, so kudos to you. That is an awesome choice at the very beginning. What funny or interesting thing has happened so far? Have you made some big mistakes and you learn from them already? Like, “I’m never going to do that. I’m not going to record that way again.” Has anything happened to you yet?
I have learned that now having been led by my strategists for social media and all things marketing and strategy. Now, having an excellent mic, I have learned that don’t record with your headset. It sounds like a good idea until it doesn’t. It doesn’t when you go to listen to the playback and you’re like, “It’s wasted. I can’t use this. It sounds terrible.”
If you’re like me, I can’t say the same thing twice. Rerecording is not that good an option.
Some of the first episodes they were that way. I didn’t know in the very beginning. When I started actually to have an intro and things like that and then I would pop in the other audio, the interview side, I’m like, “It’s so different.” I could very audibly tell why having my mic made such a difference. I learned I couldn’t share the mic without my headphones. If you have a pair of ear pods, you can go ahead and sync those. You can share ear pods and you can share the mic that way, but you can’t share the mic without earphones because, “Hello background noise. How are you?” It doesn’t help. There were definitely some learning curves with that and figuring out what the locations that did work well were. What were the ones that maybe weren’t my favorite?
It’s not just your equipment, it’s the location that matters too, where you record how, how much hard surface do you have around you. Thank you for sharing those lessons. What advice do you have for someone who wants to start out podcasting? What should they get first? What should they consider?
Number one, do it. Don’t give yourself reasons to stop. If I don’t have this part, then I can’t do it. The first thing that I always say is literally just do it because the worst thing that’s going to happen is you realize it doesn’t work or you don’t like it and you don’t do it again. There’s only one way to find that out truly. Simply get started is always going to be the first. Second, do buy a mic and make sure the mic is helpful.
Let’s do some other lessons. Have you been booking guests yet?
I have. I’ve found that it’s helpful to have your loose template for being able to get the information and things that you need to be communicated to your guest as well as the things that you need from your guest. I find that being able to have that already ready to go is very helpful. You want to have an idea of who you want to pitch or maybe who you want to talk to, but I definitely find that it’s easier to simply make connections with people. From their podcast interviews with you being the interviewer or being interviewed, it comes so much simpler that way versus the cold calling.
Do you have a big guest you’d like to get?
The interesting thing for me is that I am finding so many people around me that are so interesting and it’s not one of those like, “I want this celebrity.” I am honestly truly having so much fun just finding out about all of these amazing women that do this thing that I do in the way that is their zone of genius and feeling like we’re all standing shoulder to shoulder and being determined to make our mark on the world. Every person that I interview lays the groundwork in this beautiful mélange of all of the people that I’m interacting with that are influencing me and I am thoroughly enjoying it.
I like that idea where a lot of them want to get celebrities on for various reasons. I like the idea that it’s an exploration and you’re along with your audience in doing that. That’s a great approach. It’s really down to earth because we can’t all learn from celebrities. We can definitely learn from our more successful neighbors.
I find a lot of value in talking to someone that is where I am, someone that is beyond where I am and someone that isn’t yet where I am. I think someone that isn’t there yet still has some of the rose-colored glasses that you can lose with things sometimes. There’s this beauty in still having that it’s all beautiful and yet the person that’s done it and maybe is a little bit beyond you has that experience. There’s that knowledge there and someone that’s with me, we’re in it. We’re both here, but we’re also looking at it through our individual lenses and there’s always value in considering a reality that doesn’t look like your own and also understanding that it is also real.
How about increasing listeners? Have you done any campaigns or done anything to try to ask for listeners?
I have not done any campaigns. I’ve been considering up the possibility of possible Instagram ads or something along those lines. What’s really worked well for me is the share with a friend thing. If you know of someone that this would benefit, send this over to them. If I’m working with somebody and they’re talking about something, I’ll say, “I actually have an episode that might work really well with it.” It’s something that they can share with their audience or with clients. That’s been really beneficial.
You talked about producing it professionally. Get a microphone, get a better space. How about once you have that audience, you seem to be already really good with your encouraging engagement? What do you do to get people more engaged?
Honestly, I think that’s one of those things where when we talked about the difference of having a celebrity guest versus someone that does feel a little more approachable, it’s more of a real person. I really think that it’s important to keep a piece of that realness, a piece of that grounding where things aren’t so perfectly polished to a fault that it can feel unapproachable. If I were to show up and it’s just every photo and every caption and everything is so produced to perfection, that could make people feel as though I can’t show up here and talk. That’s a really important thing for me because some of the people that I’ve seen that do the work that I do or similar work, some of the spaces aren’t as welcoming. For me, it’s very important to provide that space that people feel that they can come in, they can speak, their voice can be heard, they can ask questions. There is no, “You’re going to be skewered because you asked something that you should have known,” or any of those things. It’s fostering that, “It’s cool. Come into the room. Let’s talk.” I’m not talking at you, we’re talking with you.Don’t give yourself reasons to stop. Click To Tweet
What about thinking about monetizing your show? Obviously, it’s helping your coaching programs and other things but have you thought about that?
It’s funny you mentioned that. I have and I’m actually interested, when I do come to She Podcasts, in exploring that a little more because I am newer to the podcasting game in comparison to people that have hundreds and hundreds of podcast episodes under their belt. With that being said, I want to find out what do the options look like to monetize. What does it look like to have sponsors? What are some of the options that maybe I’m not aware of or haven’t considered that aren’t necessarily sponsors? Because that’s one of the main things that comes to mind for me and I know that’s not the only way to do it. I’m really interested to see what does that specific area hold possibility-wise for Pause on the Play.
There are a lot of options out there. That’s such a great way to approach an event. Not only are you going to go speak there, get exposure and publicity for your show, but you’re also going to go there with an intent to learn something. 98% of the podcasters out there don’t make money off of advertisements or sponsorship. It’s only 2% that qualify for that. There’s got to be a lot of choices out there, a lot of ideas, and something’s got to fit you in your business.
That’s exactly what I want to learn about. That’s why being able to go to this event and learning about other events that are similar even on a smaller scale to be able to share information and opportunities with each other. Be able to say this is what I know, this is what I’ve learned, these are some of the resources, pieces of my knowledge that I am happy to share. That to me is a huge gift and I thrive in that type of environment. I like sharing the things that I’ve learned, the things that I’ve learned the hard way and being able to allow someone else not to have to go the hard way to figure it out, but also the things that maybe they didn’t even consider would be able to support them. I’m looking forward to and monetizing is one of those things. It’s a really great example of it. What are the options for my podcast? Where can I go? What can I do with this? How can I grow this? How can this be more than just me sitting with earphones and a microphone and recording in hopes of someone listening? How can I make this into a movement and then monetize it? The reality is that this is something that does cost money, even if all of the things that went into it didn’t cost money. Your time is money. What’s the next step?
Besides getting to be a speaker at the She Podcasts event, has your podcast already given you higher authority and the ability to do some things that you didn’t expect to be able to do before?
I didn’t expect any of this. I didn’t expect to have the podcast. I didn’t expect to be in this position to where I have people say, “I want to have you on my podcast.” Me being able to ask people to guest on my podcast, me being in this space for people to be able to say, “I hear what you’re saying and this is important to me. I need your support with this.” That leading to different types of positions and bookings and things with my coaching and consulting. It’s all really flushing out and coming together into this beautiful thing that I didn’t necessarily plan for. The biggest thing I’m doing is being malleable and receiving it, being open to what it can become.
You’re not alone. When we started our first podcast back in 2014, it yielded a whole bunch of surprises for us as well. I think it does surprise everyone. It got me my column for Inc. Magazine. It’s gotten me numerous speaking events. It got me on stages and places that I didn’t expect ever to be invited to. It became a whole new world that opened up for me. I’m glad that is doing the same thing for you.
I love hearing when people have been there in their own iteration of it and it’s like, “I didn’t necessarily know where this is going, but it’s given me all kinds of opportunities. Here I am and I’m still open to whatever opportunities are still coming.” You’re a great example of what can happen if you show up.
This is something that occurs again and again with the women that I come across, specifically women more so than men, that they hold themselves back a little bit. They don’t take advantage of the opportunities. They tell themselves they’re not ready yet. I love hearing that you’re not like that at all because I reached out to many of the speakers on She Podcasts and many of them didn’t want to come on the show and promote their business and promote their podcast. They were like, “I don’t think that’s right for what I’m doing,” or “I’m not ready yet,” or “I just started my show,” and you said, “No, I’m going to play.”
I don’t think if there’s any way to know unless you try. There is a point to where you never know where things can lead and you don’t want to write the story before the story has actually played out. To me, I’m like, “Why not?”
I cannot wait to hang out with you at the She Podcasts event. She Podcasts Live is October 11th to the 13th in Atlanta, Georgia. There are still tickets available.
I am so excited. This has been amazing and I seriously cannot wait to meet you in person, Tracy. I’m so excited.
Thank you so much for joining me and thank you for being a center of influence in podcasting. I will be back next time, maybe even more often because I seem to have so many wonderful speakers that I might have to cram them into two a week. Wouldn’t that be exciting? I’ll be back very soon with another Center of Influence podcaster and I look forward to sharing their tips and their exciting venture into podcasting. Thank you for reading.
- Erica Courdae
- She Podcasts
- Pause on the Play
About Erica Courdae
Erica Courdae an entrepreneur, coach, and consultant. She is dedicated to expanding how multicultural professionals, managers, lawyers, coaches, and creative small business owners interact with the world.
Through powerful conversations meant to create dialogue and connection, Erica seamlessly challenges them to perceive their reality through a different lens. Topics including diversity, equality, equity, and inclusion make for the awareness that she uses to create mind shifts for impact.
In life and in business. Erica believes talking about important and necessary topics in a safe space creates change and helps people feel comfortable, open, honest, and forward-focused.
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