What have you been listening to?

published10 months ago
4 min read

Hey there,

Helllo friends - it’s been a while! I abruptly hit my ‘screen time’ limit in January, which I never, ever thought would happen. I literally couldn’t look at my laptop screen anymore as I spend so much time doing Zoom meetings, email, powerpoints, Google docs, etc, etc. Instead, I spent some time just listening -- to people, podcasts, music, birdsong, books, etc. That helped inform this week’s newsletter - as audio-based content is enjoying a huge rise during covid times. I have to imagine that it’s no coincidence that others are also struggling with consuming so much visual/video-based content and are turning to another method of consumption: audio.

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I just joined Clubhouse last night. I got an invite a while ago but hadn’t pulled the trigger to join. It seemed apropo to the topic of listening - so I joined in order to check it out. Haven’t heard about Clubhouse yet? It’s an audio-based social media app launched in mid 2020 to allow users to interact conversationally. Entering a room on Clubhouse kinda feels like I walked into a panel discussion at SXSW or hopped onto a conference call with a group of friends. Super interesting approach to encourage human interaction & connection. The mix of users has changed in the past few months -- and there’s some legitimate concern around who is really benefiting from this app’s growth.

Some also describe Clubhouse as a space to join “live” podcasts anytime of the day or night. After an initial dip when covid hit, the podcast business has grown immensely in the past year. (The initial dip came from the sudden drop off of commuters who listened to/from work -- but many of those same listeners started listening again relatively quickly.) The problem is while investment in podcasts & podcast advertising is great, only a few seem to be actually making money. Many companies are getting into building their own podcast fiefdoms - Spotify acquired Megaphone; SiriusXM acquired Stitcher; Amazon acquired Wondery - and that’s just Q4 2020 activity! Each of these acquisitions is creating a different bet: Spotify working to better monetize the content it has; SiriusXM is expanding its content library; and Amazon is finding another way to sell targeted ads & find another usage for the ubiquitous Echo smart speakers.

Amazon also has another unique connection to audio that hearkens back to its roots - in audiobooks. Another surprise benefit from the forced time at home is the rise in listening to audiobooks. Global sales have been growing at 25-30% per annum for the past three years and will hit $3.5bn in 2020, driven by the US and China, which each make up around a third of the market. I have struggled to listen to audiobooks in the car as it’s hard for me to keep the thread of the story (fiction) or to listen to complex political or financial logic (non-fiction)...but at home, it’s a lot easier to pause/replay so I can see the global appeal. One of the crossover appeals for audiobooks and podcasts is listening to really good storytellers with great vocal tone and intonation. My absolute favourite podcast is Levar Burton Reads which is a meld of podcast and audiobook, delivered by a masterful storyteller.

Speaking of wonderful voices to listen to...the voice of Headspace’s Andy Puddicombe has an instantly calming effect. I have continued my daily meditation practice via Headspace, going on 6 years now! Again, I only listen to meditations and rarely use some of the newer video-based components of the app. Last year Headspace closed a series C round and has been extending its competitive lead over Calm by selling its wellness services to employers. That’s actually how I first found out about Headspace in fall 2014 - Google offered it at a deep discount to employees (only $12/year!). Headspace is working to show the clinical efficacy of its app, which would be the first of its kind to pull that off.

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  1. Use LinkedIn as your ‘discovery tool’ for finding targeted contacts to network with.
    1. Many professionals around the globe use LinkedIn.com as their main mode for sharing professional updates. That means it’s often the place that has the most up-to-date information about where an individual is working, their professional background, and educational history.
    2. Use LinkedIn’s built-in filters to narrow down your searches (based on location, past/current company, school, etc). If you want to get really specific, build your own Boolean search strings.
  2. Then, once you’ve identified who you’d like to contact, consider your options for reaching out to those contacts. Email is still the best method with the highest ROI in my experience.
    1. You may as well use the few free LinkedIn InMails you’re given, but for most users with free accounts, paying for additional InMails can become expensive quickly. One often unexplored way to get more free InMails each month is to join groups that are common among some of your target contacts, and use the extra 15 free 1:1 group messages each month as a way to potentially contact individuals.
    2. Another approach if you share a common school affiliation is to look the individual up on your alumni database to find their alumni, personal or work email address.
    3. A third approach is to use tools like Seamless.ai or Hunter.io to find an individual’s email address. **Be very careful** with using these tools in that you don’t want to be seen as a spammer when trying to network!


* Please contact me for a potential referral.


Do you have a song that immediately relaxes you when you hear the initial strains begin? For me, that song is ‘Midnight in Harlem’ by the Tedeschi Trucks band. (Thank you to Pandora for the initial random introduction to this fantastic song!) I cannot explain why this song causes this reaction - but as soon as I hear the first 2-3 chords, I always feel an immediate sense of relaxation & happiness. I hope you enjoy the song - and have found one that works for you!

Send me your questions! Do you have a tech topic you'd like me to explore further? Or maybe a career or job search question you'd like me to address? Hit reply to let me know!

Bye for now,


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