How to actually use podcasts (and other media) to fuel your dreams

If starting a side hustle and becoming an entrepreneur — or I guess now that I’m a father, a dadpreneur — were baseball, I would be at spring training. But not quite to the good part where you can catch some good action in the sunshine states. No, I’m more at the very beginning of my rookie season, like when pitchers and catchers start to report, before you can even call it real practice. I’ve been doing my workouts, studying the lineups, reading up on strategy, fantasizing about how the season could go — maybe we could have a shot at the pennant?

But to be honest, at this point I’m not even sure I like pro ball.

For now, I’m merely an aspirer. An aspiring dadpreneur. A wannabe businessman. At any given time of the day, I’ve got thirty-seven different ideas twirling around in my head. They taunt and beg me constantly to be pursued — to be executed.

But for the moment, it’s all just theory.

To continue with my baseball metaphor, a lot of this theory reminds me of the famous “just keep your eye on the ball” that I heard so often in little league. “Well sure coach, when you say it like that, coach, it sounds so simple,” I recall thinking to myself.

Then the ball comes in at a gazillion miles an hour and I’m too slow to even swing.

At this point, I’ve just about gotten my fill of theory. Over the past year and a half, I’ve done everything I can to passively absorb knowledge about entrepreneurship and business.

When I lived alone, before I had a wife or children, there was always music on in the background. It accompanied my commute, and my trips to see the girlfriend. I paused only to watch TV or talk on the telephone.

But last year it struck me that listening to the same songs over and over for the hundred and fifty-third time maybe wasn’t propelling me towards success. And the more I considered my current trajectory, the more it dawned on me that something had to change.

So I stopped. Cold Turkey. And I made the jump to podcasts and self-help books.

Since then, Tim Ferriss; Chase, Corbett & Stephanie @ The Fizzle Show; Pat Flynn; and the guys at Tropical MBA have become the soundtrack to my life. They’ve accompanied me on bike rides, kept me awake during road trips, and helped me wash the dishes and take out the trash. In the past year and a half, I must have consumed more than 500 hours of content.

But lately I’ve been starting to doubt this choice.

Are they really helping? Am I living a better life and moving in the right direction?

Or is listening to podcasts simply another distraction on my journey towards entrepreneurship?

I don’t know. I like to think so, but it’s hard to say for sure. As of yet, no one has said, “Oh my, how you’ve changed in the past year!” But that doesn’t have to mean anything. People don’t normally tell you if you’re different, that you’ve changed. And most people (myself included), are too self absorbed to notice any difference.

There’s no harm in the podcasts, to be fair. But they haven’t led to any massive action on my part. I think I was expecting a magic bullet. Maybe in the long run, they will have provided the push I needed to finally get my own things started, and to finally take action.

But as of yet, there has been no Aha! moment where I thought, “OK, there it was. Now I can get this all started and finally live my dreams of becoming a dadpreneur.” Although to be fair, I just want to be an entrepreneur — the dad part isn’t really a choice anymore.

Admittedly, I tend to use podcasts (and other media like Quora and Medium) as an excuse for not writing or working on my side hustle, in part because I’m terrified of starting this journey and failing. I’m absolutely frightened of starting a side gig and having it fizzle out, or discovering that I don’t actually like it. Maybe then I will feel even more stuck. And if that’s the case I will no longer be able to say “oh, well this corporate gig is OK but just temporary. Wait ’til my business takes off! Then I’ll have time for my kids, and my projects, and my life.”

That’s the wrong way to do it.

The real value in podcasts, or quora, or medium is found when you are able to distill the content into a few key action items, which you reflect on and implement in your own life. Take that freshly distilled knowledge and other people’s experience and use it like high octane fuel for your own machine.

Test the hypothesis that you developed on the drive home.

Launch your website.

Make some mistakes.

But take action. Get wet, get dirty, get hurt.

I hear often and see it from all angles, but I’ll repeat it. The only way to achieve your dreams is to take action. Use whatever you need as an inspiration, but take action.