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Hosting versus Being a Guest on Thought Leadership Podcasts | Tom Schwab

Hosting versus Being a Guest on Thought Leadership Podcasts | Tom Schwab

Thought Leader Podcast Hosting and Guesting

An interview with Tom Schwab about the pros of starting your own podcast and being a guest on others.

Tom Schwab is the Chief Evangelist Officer and Founder of Interview Valet. The company helps hosts find great guests for their podcast. Tom is also the author of PODCAST GUEST PROFIT. The book offers step-by-step systems for taking your podcast from obscure to acclaimed!

With more than 2.1 million podcasts out there, you are probably curious as to how to get yours heard. Tom reveals strategies for getting the most out of your podcast. He points out how to hit the right audience, and why big numbers don’t need to be a priority.

In addition, we discuss the pros of being a guest on the bevy of podcasts that exist. Tom explains why you should try being a guest 20 or 30 times before starting your own. Then, he breaks down why being a guest might be better for some people. Sometimes it is more beneficial than putting in the time and money to become a host of your own show.

If you chose to be a guest, you’ll want to hear the advice Tom has for ensuring you maximize the potential of your appearance. Tom compares being a podcast guest to being invited to the host’s home for dinner.

If you have a podcast, this episode will help you reach new heights. If you want to be a guest it will make sure you don’t arrive empty-handed.

Three Key Takeaways from the Interview
  • When producing a thought leadership podcast, hitting the right audience is more important than hitting a large audience.
  • If you are going to be a guest on a thought leadership podcast, ensure you research the host and their audiences before you sign-on.
  •  The greatest benefit of being a host or guest of a thought leadership podcast is the relationship you can build.

If you need a strategy to bring your thought leadership to market, Thought Leadership Leverage can assist you! Contact us for more information. In addition, we can help you implement marketing, research, and sales. Let us help you so you can devote yourself to what you do best.

Listen to this podcast on Apple Podcast or Google Podcast!


Peter Winick Welcome, this is Peter Winick, I’m the founder and CEO of Thought Leadership Leverage, and you’re joining us on the podcast today, which is leveraging thought leadership. Today, my guest is Tom Schwab, who’s the chief evangelist, officer and also the founder of Interview Ballet. He’s also an author of a book called Podcast Guests Profits Grow Your Business with a Targeted Interview Strategy. So I love that because that’s laser-focused thought leadership, which is right up my alley and our listeners have always said, Welcome aboard, Tom. Thank you for coming on.

Tom Schwab Hey, Peter, I’m thrilled to be here. Thank you for having me.

Peter Winick So look, let’s just let’s just dove right in, right? So you know the numbers better than I, but it seems like, you know, everyone and their brother has a podcast, right? But just because everyone has one doesn’t mean they’re using it well. So just give me sort of broad landscape what you’re seeing in the podcast world through best practices. What’s working?

Tom Schwab Yeah. So let’s right now, here we are 2021. There’s 2.1 million podcasts out there, but there’s a little asterix, right? Less than 600,000 have actually published in the last 30 days. So let’s look at there’s probably six hundred thousand out there right now.

Peter Winick Five in the podcast graveyard of yesteryear or something. Yeah.

Tom Schwab You know, it’s easy to start. It’s hard to do a podcast. You know, anybody that says doing it is easy has either never done it or never done it well. The great ones like you just make it look easy. So and the other thing too, the podcast is it’s not mass market, so everybody thinks, well, it’s like Joe Rogan within a couple of million dollars.

Peter Winick Just stay there for a minute because I have a hard time sometimes getting that point across to certain clients and prospects because they think about podcasting like, you know, you and I are of a certain age like the media we grew up on. There were three channels on television, right? You had to get on ABC, CBS, NBC. That world doesn’t exist anymore. And in podcasting times that by, you know, a zillion. And I think the reality is, you know, listen, if Joe Rogan calls great, he’s not going to call me. No, you think about the top five or top 10, those are lovely. But where I spend a lot of energy communicating to clients is, listen, we’ve done a lot of work figuring out your client avatars. Then we’ve got to figure out where do they get their information from? One way they get information is from podcast, and it’s not about I think people apply the wrong metrics to and I’d love to get your take on how many downloads do you have a month? It’s well, that’s a metric. But is it the right metric?

Tom Schwab And do you have the right people in the room, right? So recently we had somebody that came to us and couldn’t understand, you know, why this podcast only had, you know, five or ten thousand downloads. The other day, she was on a radio station heard by four million people. And I’m like, what radio? And she told me, and I’m like, No, they had a reach of four million people. It doesn’t mean that everybody in Indianapolis was listening to that station at that time podcast. The data shows that 70 percent of the people are listening to the entire episode, and you can tell what that audience is. So you think about it, you know, the good old days when we were jumping on planes to go talk to a group and you jump on a plane if it was the right group. We jump on a plane to go talk to a hundred ideal customers.

Peter Winick Right, right, right.

Tom Schwab Or 50, right. If they were the ideal ones because we had them in the room, they’re listening. And that’s really what podcasts are. So bigger is not better. Better is better. Right. So the top one percent of podcasts get it’s about 40000 downloads per episode. Top 20 percent get about a thousand. But, you know, I remember somebody telling me they wanted to talk to Fortune 100 CEOs. And then they said, I want to be on this big podcast and I’m like, Why? Because I can’t imagine Fortune 100 CEOs or listen to a podcast that starts with Yo yo yo, this is so-and-so. And they’re like, Oh yeah. So really, it’s a focus thing, right?

Peter Winick And so the focus is because again, to me, it’s yet just another form of branding a marketing period full stop. And I think what happens is there’s a lot of folks that have gotten into the podcast space that don’t have the marketing chops that someone like someone that you did. Right. So why, you know, I always look and say, Why are you making an investment in podcasting if it’s for your ego? Great. That’s fine. Just write it off. But if you’re trying to reach a market with a message, this is a great medium to do.

Tom Schwab Very much so, and so many times people say we are breaking through the noise. I laugh when I hear that because most of the time it’s the people that are selling us, the megaphones that are telling us to break through the noise and we’re all just adding to it. It’s like, now I want to get in on the conversation and get heard by the right people. And so, you know, once again, the data shows that the average podcast listener now is above average education above average income. These are people that are looking for new ideas. They’re looking to be the early adopters. Those are the people you want to talk to.

Peter Winick And they’re passionate about the niches that they follow, right versus mass media. So if you’re following a podcast on whatever, I don’t know, agile technology leadership trends or something like, OK, great, I have no interest in that, but people that are following that are deeply follow,

Tom Schwab They are and they’ve opted in. That’s 100 percent opted there. It’s not just that they turned on the radio, and that was the only station there. And I think, oh, the thing too is people learn differently. So some people are audio learners, and that’s how you’re going to get to them. And one of the things I love about today is that you can create in the way this easiest for you and then repurpose in other ways. Right. I’ve written a whole lot.

Peter Winick You’re speaking my language. So for me, I prior to podcasting, I’d written a bunch of blogs on a bunch of video, etc. And on my best day, I’m a mediocre writer and I don’t particularly enjoy it, but I knew I had to do it, you know, and to get a five 000 word blog post out, you know, I’d rearrange the sock drawer to make sure all the spices or, you know, whatever podcasting for me is just, I’m in my zone because all I do all day is talk to people and have great conversations. So now I just hit record on a couple of those. I mean, ultimately, as easy as it is, that’s me, right? And people would prefer to write. So for me, it’s great for the brand. It’s a freaking forcing mechanism and we repurpose the heck out of it, right? So any brilliant jams that come out of the conversations, we’ll show up in various social media. I want to go backwards a half step and see if you agree or disagree. So clients will come to me often. It’s OK, let’s lip launch the podcast and I’ll say maybe. And they’re like, Well, you have one. I’m like, Yeah, but you know, I’ve been doing this for three years. We’re over 300 episodes. This is the amount of money I’ve invested in it over those three years is the amount of time like you really want to go there yet. How about we do a proof of concept and what I love about groups like yours, the targeted placement agencies is that before you do the heavy lifting and figure it all out, it’s really easy to go out there and be a guest on 30 50, whatever it is to build relationships with amazing people. Figure out style, right? And ultimately build brand and net new client acquisition. So can you play with those really fun?

Tom Schwab Yeah, and it’s almost like that try it before you buy right? You can see if you like the medium, you can see what you like in different hosts and different shows. The other thing, too, is it’s not as big of a commitment, right? If you start your own podcast and most podcasts die within the first 10 episodes. Yeah, it can be an embarrassment. Yeah, and it can actually hurt your brand. Whereas if you go out as a guest, well, you can go out there and start going into to different audiences. And I don’t think it’s an either or right because people say, Should I be a host or guest? Well, I just like it’s the same platform that’s like saying, should I be an Uber driver or an Uber passenger? Well, it depends on your goals. If you want to be a host. Well, that’s a great way to nurture your current leads or to nurture your current customers. But the idea of if I build it, they will come. That doesn’t happen. All right. So if you want to go out and get new leads, new customers, then you’ve got to go out as a guest.

Peter Winick So frankly, the other benefit of being a guest is someone else has done the hard work of built an audience that matters to you. That’s the hardest part. The conversation, quite frankly, is people get I get such a headache when people are talking about what technology to use and how do you do this? And they ask me all the time, I’m like, I don’t. I have no idea. All I know is I hit record and I can be engaging for 20 minutes. At 21 minutes, I turn into a pumpkin. Right? And that’s not all. That catch up is really easy. Not that it’s not important. What’s important to me is I’m having high quality guests or when I’m a guest, those people have figured out a way to get 50, 100, five hundred, fifty thousand people that are of interest know they have interest directly or indirectly into what I have to say.

Tom Schwab That will – thank you for saying it, because I always feel awkward when I say it right? Why do I want to be on a podcast guest as a part as opposed to a podcast host? Because it’s easier and I’m lazy. Right, right. To do all of the work takes time, whereas, you know, you can leverage other people’s platforms. And I honestly think today that’s more valuable than leveraging other people’s money. Right. So if Oprah comes to me and says, Hey, I’ll loan you a million dollars? Well, thank you very much. But if she says, I’ll give you my audience for a half hour. Oh man. Oh man. I’ll take the second every time.

Peter Winick If you’re enjoying this episode of Leveraging Thought Leadership, please make sure to subscribe. If you’d like to help spread the word about our podcast, please leave us a review and share it with your friends. We’re available on Apple Podcasts and on all major listening apps, as well as at Thought Leadership Leverage dot com forward slash podcasts.

Peter Winick So, let me go in a different direction for a bit because you might have some thoughts on this, so I get pitched all the time from people directly, indirectly and via agencies. And I think somebody and maybe you did it in your book? I didn’t. I didn’t. I only skimmed it. Somebody needs to brief folks on sort of proper guest etiquette for podcasting, because so for me, here’s our process somebody will pitch us directly, indirectly, whatever we’ll scan it and submit. That might be interesting, right? But basically, that person might meet the criteria. It might be interesting to our audience, et cetera. Let’s not put them on the air. Let’s do a pre call. Let’s get them to know about us. We’ll know about them because I don’t want to waste their time and I want to put out a quality episode. And the first thing I’ll ask is, OK, you know what? If anything, do you know about us? And I don’t know, seven times out of ten? Well, I get on somebody, you know, they haven’t even done the basics of nothing. I’m expecting someone to invest days or hours. A cursory review? Take a look at the guest. Maybe listen to 10 minutes, and I’m shocked at the high percentage of people are paying good money and really just show up as sloppy guest, in my opinion. Look to get your thoughts on that.

Tom Schwab I totally agree with you. And I loathe the word ‘pitch’ because I think it’s dehumanizing. You introduce a person, you pitch a baseball, you pitch an idea, but you get so many people are doing that. They’re just the law of numbers. I’ll just I’ll ask everybody, you know, I get pitched to be on my podcast and I don’t have a podcast, but everybody loves it, right? I think the word is guessed right. So how would you show up as a guest if I invited you to my home for dinner? Right, right. He would probably know who I am before, before you showed up. You would ask What’s the what’s the attire or what’s the, you know, what can I do to bring value to service? Can I bring something? All the rest of that. And then you would show up there as you introduce me to all your friends. Your goal would make the host look like a genius to having you. So here’s the point being a guest and at being a gracious guest, then just trying to use and abuse somebody audience.

Peter Winick Yup. So here’s my second complaint, and I feel like I’m beating up on you, but I’m just you’re in this space. Yes. The other pieces? OK. And then we do a great episode. Awesome. And I make it really clear. Listen, this episode will come out in whatever, whatever our backlog is. Four weeks, six weeks, eight weeks. Sometimes they want to hang back on an episode to time it again, something that’s fine. We’ll accommodate. And then when the episodes go live a day or two before my executive producer will present them or their people with a bunch of assets. Hey, here’s something you can put on Twitter. Here’s something from LinkedIn here blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Please help us support the program and, you know, post it to your followers. Because again, as a as a host, I’m going to get to my peeps. I also want to use the guest to get to their peeps. I mean, this is a mutual beneficial piece, and I’m shocked that I don’t know. Maybe 50 percent, maybe 40 percent actually go through with the follow up promotion. And I’m like, Why did you give me a half an hour of your time if you’re not going to like it just doesn’t make? What were your goals in getting on this program? Why did you pay any money, spend time, exert energy to do this?

Tom Schwab I couldn’t agree with you more on that. It’s like, why would you not promote it? Because that’s going to be powerful and actually moving people from being a passive listener to enact a visitor and ultimately an engaged customer. And I see more and more people saying, Well, I want to do, you know, my goal is to do a hundred interviews this year?

Peter Winick What becomes a marathon number or something silly? Like 100 of what

Tom Schwab I have said publicly, I’ve done over 100 interviews since 2014 and people are like, Wow, that’s amazing. I’m like, No, that is embarrassing, right? It helped us figure out the system and everything, but you should be more discerning on that. And I tell people and we get paid to get people on interviews, and I will tell them, why don’t you do less interviews and more with every interview? Do better interviews, not more interviews, right?

Peter Winick Because better interviews. To your point of being a guest, you would say I would. I would send you a thank you note the next day. Hey, Tom, thank you so much for having me to dinner. I enjoyed meeting your friends that that. That’s just being gracious. Right, and the other piece is given, you know, again, we just broke 300 recently up to three hundred and change. We constantly recycle them and I don’t mean recycle in a bad way, but we’re re promoting. We’ll put together a bunch of them. And here’s, you know, five talks on authors, five talks on this five, you know, whatever. Well, here’s women speaking some of the best female guests we’ve had, whatever. And it’s not just a one and done because I want to keep putting it out there to the world, and I hope that the guest would be a little bit more having the systems in place, whatever to help on the promotion side. I sometimes I don’t think they realize that that’s really part of an expectation of a good guest.

Tom Schwab Well, and I would say it’s a problem that we’ve got as a society as a whole, right? Everybody is focused on transactions, not relationships. And to me, one of our core values is relationships are the ultimate currency. So somebody just, you know, invited you on their show. Why wouldn’t you build a relationship if you wanted to talk to their audience once? Why wouldn’t you want to talk to them more and more? That person is the game is the gatekeeper to your customers.

Peter Winick I love that because one of the things that that will do all the time, any time I’m engaged is what can I do to help you? You got something coming out, or I’ll see someone that was a guest or that I was a guest on six months a year later, and they’ve got a book coming out or something interesting they’ll talking to. I’ll still listen to them and say, Hey, I’m so glad you got a new book coming out. Looking forward to reading, you could flip it over here. We’d be happy to help you get it out, you know, to our followers as well. Just, you know, unsolicited whatever. And I have built some of the greatest relationships, either direct clients, referral partners, just all sorts of business relationships. Being a guest and being a host.

Tom Schwab My theme for this year is, “You’re one conversation away.” And I’m so frustrated when people are your one funnel away, automation, there’s a place for that. But the best things come from conversations, and that’s not just a one and done, but to build that relationship. And I think that’s one of the great things that you can do as a guest with the host, but also with the audience. Right. So building that conversation means all right. Doing a great interview, but then going on the social media, promoting it, answering questions and posting on the host social media to thank them in there. I mean, that sounds so commonsense, but so few people do it

Peter Winick Well, also, grabbing the assets. Again, you know, I’ve been fortunate. I’ve had some amazing, amazing folks that are far more accomplished and interesting than I write. And to be judged guilty by association, to be able to share with my community. Hey, I had a great conversation today with Tom Peters. More people, far more people interested in him than me, but I want to share that right. I’m going to go the last couple of minutes in a different direction. Give me some thoughts if someone’s out there and I love how you said it’s not binary, right? So I am. I’m a host and I’m also a guest. I’m a very rigid guest in terms of I say no more than I say yes, not because I’m a jerk, because it just doesn’t meet my needs, right? Like, I if I’m going to do it, it’s going to be the right audience for the right reasons, for whatever. And oftentimes I’ll look and say those people don’t care what I have to say. And even if they did, I can’t. There’s not. They don’t. They’re not the type of community I’m trying to reach. So any sort of tips starting out, either as a guest or a host, I’ll just give you one example. When I started, I know that I am, you know, short attention span lack patience, but I’m also a savvy marketer. So the commitment I made is we’re going to do 50 episodes over. I think it was whatever three months and we’ll spend up to this amount of money to do it. And I’m not going to go crazy every week, measuring in the beginning. I’m a big measurement guy, but you can. Oh, we did five a.m. and you know, the Sun, the moon and the stars didn’t change. No, they didn’t. But so I committed to 50, and then there was a flywheel effect that we’re still benefiting from. So look to get your thoughts on what you should commit to either as a guest or as a host.

Tom Schwab It is a process. It’s a long term strategy. And make sure you’re working the strategy correctly. And so what I see a lot of people do is say, Well, I, you know, I did a dozen interviews and I didn’t see any results with it. And you look and it’s like, well, it was just like that saying, like, I did a dozen random talks and I never got any results. What were you talking to? The right people? Was the system there. And you know, I put out our entire system in the book and, you know, I give that book away. If anybody wants a free copy, I’ll give them a free copy here. But the biggest part is when you start with two million podcasts or 600000, are you talking to the right people? And our algorithm really looks at four things and think about this is it the right podcast? Do they have the right focus? Are they are they talking about the things that my audience would care about? Second thing, do they have a website? Do they have show notes that’s going to point people back to find it? Third thing is reach bigger is not better. Better is better. But are they promoting this on social media? Is it the right social media? What do you know? What’s the reach there? And then finally, look at it and say, Do I want to be associated with this, right? Is this consistent with my brand? More and more now when you google somebody’s name, a podcast comes up in there too, right?

Peter Winick And so this piece is interesting because I’ll get what I consider real amateurs saying, Oh, before so-and-so would consider being a guest after they’ve pitched me. What are your download numbers? What are you this? And I’m like, really, really like, like, wait, you’re pitching me and now you want all this data, you know, which means you don’t know anything about me and my responses. Maybe it’s a fit. Maybe it’s not. Maybe you should take a look at the other guest we’ve had, and if it’s a fit, great. If not, that’s OK, too. Like, I don’t sell hard for someone to come on because we don’t need to. And there’s a level of, I don’t know, not arrogance, but I just find it. It’s tacky. It’s they’re not following the etiquette, if you will. Tom, I wanted to just thank you for spending the time that you did with us today and sharing your insight knowledge. Lots of folks have lots of questions and concerns about podcast, and I think it was just fantastic that you were able to share what you did with us today. Thank you so much.

Peter Winick To learn more about Thought Leadership Leverage, please visit our web site at to reach me directly. Feel free to email me at Peter at and please subscribe to Leveraging Thought Leadership on iTunes or your favorite podcast app to get your weekly episode automatically.

Peter Winick has deep expertise in helping those with deep expertise. He is the CEO of Thought Leadership Leverage. Visit Peter on Twitter!

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