15 Minutes with B.J. Mendelson: Jason Falls

Photo by B.J. Mendelson of downtown Chicago

A lot of people ask me about podcasting. As part of the whole, “Ok Smart ass, now what do I do?” response I get after they read “Social Media is Bullshit.” The conventional wisdom (that I agree with, in this case) is that if you want to do a podcast, you should record three or four test episodes to see how it goes.

After those “test episodes” are done, you decide if you want to go ahead with doing the show or not.

Now here’s an added wrinkle: The odds are good you won’t see financial results from doing a podcast. They’re good for branding, networking, and PR, but they’re not terribly good at much else. Plus every asshole has one now, so … There’s that too.

You have to take that into consideration too. If you do a podcast, you have to have the right expectations and goals for it, otherwise you may find yourself 200 episodes in and deeply disappointed.

So, in the way I do everything (full transparency), let me tell you about 15 Minutes.

15 Minutes with B.J. Mendelson

Some of you know I suffer from depression and OCD. So there’s a whole lot of social anxiety I deal with every day, particularly outside of business settings. In business settings, I’m awesome. Put me on stage in front of a thousand people (been there, done that), I’ll have them all laughing. Get me to tell jokes to an audience where they all speak different languages, and I’ll have them all laughing at the same time. (Been there, done that too.)

Get me alone with a girl for like twenty minutes? Hilarity and awkwardness will ensue. Same deal with just hanging out with people in a social setting. I’m crawling up the wall and counting the minutes until I can leave.

I tell you this, because that makes me the worst person to do a podcast. They’re intimate experiences. But at the same time, if I were to do one, it would be good for me from a psychological perspective. Ideally the show would get me comfortable talking to people in non-business settings. With practice,  I’ll get better at doing so, and maybe that’ll kill some of the social anxiety that I deal with.

And so, a podcast was born. There’s no goal with this thing other than helping me get comfortable in talking to people outside of a business setting. You should know that upfront. I’m doing this for me, but that doesn’t mean there’s no benefit to you.

On the show, we’ll have a wide array of guests (even you. Seriously. Just email me at bj@bjmendelson.com if you want to do an episode) and each guest will share the best advice they’ve ever got; and then some advice they’d like to pass on to you. All in 15 minutes or less.

(Test) Episode 1: Small Business Marketer, and fellow author, Jason Falls

My first guest was Jason Falls, author of “No Bullshit Social Media” and the co-author of “The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing”. Above, you can hear Jason talk about his own battles with Imposter Syndrome and why faking it until you make it isn’t the terrible advice I always thought it was.

Below, you can hear the episode in its entirety. Fair warning: Since this a test episode, and I like to share everything I do, I did no editing on this episode. So this is the raw audio, and you can tell I was really nervous in my interview, repeating myself and saying “uh” a lot. Social anxiety for the win!

The second episode (recorded today) I’m a bit better, but just take this as a heads up before you listen to the full first episode. My goal is that by the end of my test episodes, I’ll be in good shape in terms of my interviewing ability. We’ll see.

Full Transcript

(Note that the transcripts are lightly edited to remove the “uhs” and other annoying things that make a transcript hard to read.)

B.J. Mendelson:                   Hey, how are you doing?

Jason Falls:                             Fine, how are you?

B.J. Mendelson:                   I am well. I realize I haven’t talked to you actually like verbally in about a few years.

Jason Falls:                             (laughs) It’s been a while, yeah.

B.J. Mendelson:                   All right, cool. So thank you for doing this.

Jason Falls:                             All right.

B.J. Mendelson:                   This is just like,  I’m just testing it to see how this goes, and then like I’lll post it anyway because I don’t fucking care. (laughs)

Jason Falls:                             (laughs)

B.J. Mendelson:                   You know, the whole point behind this was I was just tired of, do you listen to the Tim Ferriss podcasts?

Jason Falls:                             I don’t listen to the podcasts, but I’m vaguely familiar with what he does.

B.J. Mendelson:                   Okay. So, I mean, the podcast it sounds so slickly produced, but there’s a solid six minutes of commercials-

Jason Falls:                             Nice.

B.J. Mendelson:                   Before any episode starts, and it’s just like just give me the content and end. Like, that’s all I want. It was just …

Jason Falls:                             (laughs)

B.J. Mendelson:                   Right?

Jason Falls:                             Yeah.

B.J. Mendelson:                   So yeah. Let’s, let me get right into it then, and then I can let you go ’cause that, the whole idea is to do this in like 15 minutes or less.

Jason Falls:                             Okay.

B.J. Mendelson:                   Each week, like, (laughs) that’s sort of the “Get your shit and get out”  kind of thing.

So, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?

Jason Falls:                             Wow. I think the best piece of advice I’ve ever gotten is to stop and think about your intention of, of what you’re doing, and unfortunately I didn’t really get that advice until I was in my 40s  but, I had  a friend of mine who I was talking with about just stress and things like that in general, and he said, “I think one thing that would help you is if you stepped back with everything that you do personally  and professionally, and say ‘What is my intention? What am I going this for?'” And, you know, it really kind of goes back to the same types of advice that I’ve been giving people in business is, “What’s your goal? What are you trying to get out of it?”

So if you don’t know your goal, then you can’t possibly prescribe activities that will get you there because you don’t know where you’re going, and so it’s the same thing in life, whether it’s the relationship with your children or your spouse or, you know, why you’re participating in a volunteer activity or even what you’re doing in business. What’s your intention? What are you trying to get out of it? What are you trying to accomplish? What are you trying to help somebody else accomplish? And if you know that and think about that, then you have a lot more clarity and a lot less distractions to get where you’re going, and so I think it kinda reduces stress, keeps you on a straight and narrow path, and for the last couple of years since I’ve gotten that advice you know, business and personally life for me has been oddly a little smoother.

B.J. Mendelson:                   And who actually said that to you? Where did that advice come from?

Jason Falls:                             It was actually a friend of mine who happens to also be a therapist. His name’s Tom Clark, and you know, he does a combination of therapy and then teaches mindfulness meditation which is something else that I’ve been doing for three or four years now, and so he just said, “I think understanding your intention is going to help you get past a lot of this peripheral stress that you’re dealing with,” and sure enough he was right.

B.J. Mendelson:                   I love it. So, let me ask you how have you utilized this advice? Like, if you can give us one example of a way you specifically used it?

Jason Falls:                             Sure. Well, I think, um, you know, specific examples, like for instance, from a business standpoint, I have always sort of juggled multiple roles. I’ve worked at agencies and brands, and I’ve had companies that I’ve engaged as clients and whatnot, and that’s how I primarily made my money, but then there’s this, you know, secondary  Jason Falls brand on the side that’s about speaking and writing, and things of that nature, and so, it supports the other piece of it. Then they kind of support one another, but it’s also separate in some ways.

And so I actually sat down this past fall and said, “You know, if there is such a thing as a Jason Falls brand, what’s my intention? What am I trying to do with it?” And I realized that I didn’t really have a clear direction on what I wanted to do with my speaking and writing activities outside of the official work role in whatever capacity that I was working with my company or someone else’s company, and I thought about it and realized that I have a passion that lies in helping small businesses, but I hadn’t really been focusing on doing anything to help small businesses over the course of the last 10 years.

I’ve been working with medium to large enterprise companies and clients of agencies and so on and so forth, and so, as I turned into 2017, I said, “You know what? The blog at JasonFalls.com, the email newsletter everything I do that’s outside of the work-related things that I do, um, is gonna be focused on helping small businesses either get online or optimize what they’re doing online because the statistics are still pretty true. About half of all small businesses don’t even have websites.”

B.J. Mendelson:                   Right.

Jason Falls:                             So there’s a lot of progress to be had, and so I’ve kind of dedicated my personal business ventures and speaking and things like that to be focused on small business because I defined my intention.

B.J. Mendelson:                   Let me ask you the big question and the last one: If you’re able to share with someone advice of your own-

Jason Falls:                             Mm-hmm (affirmative)

B.J. Mendelson:                   What would that one thing that you’d want to share with people?

Jason Falls:                             I mean, obviously I think the easy answer is to say that you should define your intention but I think that another, I want to go with a different route on that, too, because something else that I don’t know that I can ever recall anybody telling me this as a piece of advice. I think I kind of carved this out for myself, but for a long time I sort of had this battle with the imposter syndrome where you don’t think you belong, you don’t think you’re good enough, you don’t think you’re smart enough. It’s kind of a self-doubt thing, and, and sometimes it can paralyze you.

Generally I overcome it pretty well, but it’s kind of always thinking that you’re gonna be found out, that somebody’s gonna realize that you’re not as smart as you report yourself to be, and so the things that I’ve kind of developed over the years is this understanding that especially in new jobs or new situations and new relationships be they personal or professional, you really have to be okay with and be comfortable with faking it until you make it, and what I’ve learned over the years because I’ve been in several different roles in several different jobs and you actually don’t fake it as long as you think you do.

You know, once you get into the role, and you learn who you need to talk to to solve certain problems, and you understand the client or you understand the role, and your, day-to-day tasks you very quickly, you know … It’s where intuit things about what you’re doing and become the person who’s making it rather than faking it, and so, I made an actually career transition about 10 years ago. I was a college athletics PR guy, for about 12-15 years, and then I transitioned into mainstream marketing and PR in advertising. I had no earthly idea if I belonged, if I was smart enough, if I knew anything that would be relevant.

I didn’t know if my skill set would transfer, and so I just kind of buckled down and said, “I’m gonna fake it ’til I make it, and I’m just gonna focus on making it,” and you know, literally within like a month of being at my first ever job at an advertising agency in the quote-on-quote real world outside of this little niche focus  of college athletics.

I felt really comfortable and knew that I was doing a good job and having an impact on my clients, and so, I was faking it until I made it, and I’ve done that in client relationships and, and other roles ever since, and I’ve realized that you should really trust your instincts and trust your knowledge and know, that you’re not an imposter, that, that you’re not gonna be found out, and if you are, it’s gonna be found out that you know what you’re doing.

B.J. Mendelson:                   I love it, and believe me, that’s something I really have struggled with. You know who else actually had that issue? That, I heard a couple years ago is Chris Rock.

Jason Falls:                             Yeah.

B.J. Mendelson:                   Yeah, and-

Jason Falls:                             Yeah, that, that wouldn’t surprise me at all. (laughs)

B.J. Mendelson:                   So that was the first time I’ve heard that. I’m really glad that you touched on it. So, tell us where we can find you online.

Jason Falls:                             I am very easily found.  JasonFalls.com is the website. I’m Jason Falls on most major social networks, so I’m very easy you connect with there, and then my day job business is the Conversation Research Institute, which is at ConversationResearchInstitute.com or there are links there from JasonFalls.com.

B.J. Mendelson:                   Wonderful. Hey, look at that. We did it in 15 minutes or less. Honest.

Jason Falls:                             (laughs) How ’bout it! (laughs)

B.J. Mendelson:                   I love it. Thank you so much.

Jason Falls:                             Thank you B.J.

B.J. Mendelson:                   I’ll catch you soon.