As the Host and Producer of the podcast Code Story, Noah is pushing the limits of podcasting by shedding light on the journey that tech leaders travel when creating, implementing, & scaling their products. Code Story is a window into the startup world that provides a look into what it takes to build and lead a tech startup. Noah is no stranger to the the startup world. He is the cofounder and CTO of Veryableops.co, as well as the founder and CEO of Touchtap.com.
NOAH LABHART: Every day is a new challenge. And it may not be that every day is a new problem, but every day has its own sort of little mini drama, and crafting those together makes a really cool story. It’s not for the faint of heart to start a business or try to build something brand new and go put it out there and hope that people want it. It’s a lot of tension, you know, a lot of ups and downs. And there’s so many of those moments on the tech side too, that I think people can talk about. And usually it just starts with the mistakes or the oh, crap moments.
ROCKWELL FELDER: Welcome to Between Two Mics.
ZACHARIAH MORENO: I’m Zach.
ROCK: And I’m Rock.
ZACH: We’re the co-founders of Squadcast [dot] fm.
ROCK: The best way to record remote interviews at studio quality, like this one.
ZACH: Here on Between Two Mics, we explore the challenges, opportunities, and new ideas with the people who are pushing the limits of what’s possible in podcasting.
ZACH: All right. So we are joined today on Between Two Mics by Noah Labhart, the host of Code Story podcast and CTO of Veryable. So Noah, welcome to Between Two Mics.
NOAH: Thanks for having me, fellas.
ZACH: Uh, we’re, we’re very grateful, um, to, to collaborate. You, uh, kind of approached us about being on your show and we’re, we’re big fans of, uh, of collaborating right in, in podcasting. So that’s, that’s one of the many ways is, uh, is, is being on, uh, being on each other’s shows and we practice what we preach. So, wanted to thank you again, uh, for the episode. I don’t think it’s dropped yet for, uh, for our interview on, on Code Story. Um, but to back up for a second, um, Code Story is a, is a very unique podcast and, uh, something that caught, caught our attention. So, uh, what was kind of the, what was the kind of seed idea for, for starting Code Story?
NOAH: No, that’s a great question. Um, now I’m super stoked to be on Between Two Mics and, and, uh, glad to be a happy Squadcast user as well. Um, uh, so shout out to Squacast for sure. Um, so Code Story, you know, I have been a podcast listener for a while. Um, listen to quite a few, but really got into How I Built This, um, with Guy Raz and, and just really dug the format. I liked how he was approaching the interviews, how he teased the interviews at the very beginning. And I thought, man, this is awesome. Um, there’s not, uh, cause I’m a tech guy, so I’m CTO, I’m a tech guy, long time software developer. And I, you know, I thought there must be something out there like this, you know, might get a little further into the bits and bites a bit. Um, but I couldn’t find one. Um, now I found a few shows that were, that were interview-based, that were good, um, that I enjoyed and still listen to, uh, every once in a while. But none that sort of had the narrative built in that was driving a storyline. Um, none that really had sort of music-building some tension and building some, you know, some, climactic release, uh, so to speak, which I think we’re still trying to accomplish that. We haven’t quite got there yet, but, but some of that. Just, just, um, you know, being a musician as well, connecting to a lot of the things that Guy Raz and NPR are putting into How I Built This, I thought this was a really needs to be something tec- based and there wasn’t. So I sat on it for a while and I was like, you know, you, you want this, so why don’t you, why don’t you go do it? Um, and of course, you know, that, that sat on the shelf for a little while. Uh, did the first interview with, um, a friend of mine, uh, college roommate, uh, Rylan Barnes, who was a successful tech entrepreneur. He’s the founder and CTO of Shop Savvy and, um, sold his business. So had a great story. I was like, dude, come be on the show. You’ll be my first episode, it’ll be great. Um, so we recorded that. And in October of 2018, and it didn’t publish until June of 2019. So it took me a while to get off the ground and find the time, uh, figure out how to work. But, but anyway, so that kind of getting off track, but the, the real thing was, you know, How I Built This a little bit of a narrative, a little bit of music, a little bit of tension in the story. Uh, But, but a little bit of tech in there too.
ROCK: And, uh, that’s one of the interesting things I think about your podcast is how, you know, you find this story in a deeply technical subject and, um, certainly make it more, uh, interesting and digest-digestible for the non-tech person. But I still feel like the tech person still gets what they want out of it as well. So that’s a unique balance, I think. And I want to unpack that a little bit later, but, um, you know, talking about starting, you almost seem like a very well-positioned individual to start a podcast because of your background in tech, because of your background in music, um, uh. A former guest on the show, Amani Roberts, who has the, uh, who’s like a DJ and, um, has a podcast. I can’t, I’m escaping the name on it.
ZACH: The Amani Experience.
ROCK: The Amani Experience. How did I forget that? I was on the show too. But he’s a DJ and we find that a lot of DJs at-are podcast or vice versa. And he even has a whole, uh, like presentation on it called all podcasters or DJs, all DJs or podcasters or something like that. It’s pretty funny. And we, you know, there’s quite a bit that, you know, used to DJ or…So I’m just wondering, like, what was that like for you to start given your background in tech, given your background in music? It seemed like a podcast would be, uh, you know, somewhat of a good fit. Um, but it sounds like, you know, you, you, that you ran into, I don’t want to say trouble, but just, you know, it’s normal to, you know, start, but then kind of wait for the actual release to the public to happen. So, you know, what was it like for you to start given your background? Cause I don’t think a lot of people that start podcasting understand that, you know, this is avery…I mean, it doesn’t have to be super technical, but it can be. So what was that like for you to start given your background and experience?
NOAH: Sure. I really appreciate that question because it does touch on, on two things for me personally. Um, you know, so my tech background, it really, it, it, it enables me to ask the right questions. Um, I guess to, to people that are, you know, tech founders or sort of the tech visionaries that are creating the products. Um, because I’ve gone through that, that space I’ve gone through that, I’ve walked that path a bit. So being able to dig in and be like, you know, what were you thinking at this specific point that no one in the world else sees, but CTOs see, or, or, you know, lead engineers see, because they’ve walked through that. Like what, what, how did you go about that? Um, you know, what were you feeling there? And what sort of, you know, like what sort of trade-offs you’re like, oh crap, I’m going to do this now, but it’s going to suck later so I got to put that on the list for technical debt and I have to fix it later, you know? Um, so asking those sorts of questions, um, I think really hit home from, uh, from my tech background, but from a musician’s background, it was really interesting because I didn’t expect this part of it. Um, I didn’t expect it to really scratch an artistic itch for me. Um, but it did, as soon as I started, as soon as I did that first interview and I started, um, you know, playing with some of the music, and how it was going to structure the show and getting into Logic, and laying multitracks out and clipped and, you know, taking clips and fading in music. And, um, it really scratched an itch that I haven’t been able to scratch in a long time. So, um, I’m a, I’m the CTO. I’m a businessman. I’m also a husband and a dad of three. Um, so life’s busy. And, and so I haven’t really gotten to, uh, pursue music. Um, you know, writing, I play guitar. I’ve played guitar for, uh, 14, 15 years now. And, and I, and I u sed to play in a band. We were called Withheld. e’re on Spotify. If anybody wants to go listen. Um, so that’s, that’s, that’s still out there. Uh,
ROCK: We’ll have to put the link in the show notes and get you some more listens on that. There you go. That’s awesome.
NOAH: It’s, it’s been, it’s been 12 years, 11 years since we, we released our album, but, uh, really fun. And I love writing music. Um, but it wasn’t able to scratch that itch for a long time. Um, just due to the time, you know, I could play at home, but not really write music, but it really did–Starting to craft podcast episodes, especially using music and crafting a narrative and trying to tell a story the same you would, the same way you would when writing a song. Um, it really touched on that a lot. And so there was positive-positives and negatives in that too. Um, mostly positives. The negatives part were kind of touching on how long it took me to get launched because, um, I’m an engineer. I’m also a bit of a perfectionist. So I was, you know, starting to tweak the episode. The first episode I was like, no, we can do it this way. Or we can add this music or we can tweak. And finally it was like, I’m never going to get this released if I, if I just sit here and do it and do it myself. So I reached out and got some help. Um, so, uh, so far I’ve been working, uh, with, uh, season with, um, George Mocharko. He’s been my, my, uh, my engineer in season two actually is going to be Bradley Denham. Um, both amazing, uh, audio engineers and, uh, and editors and, uh…
ROCK: Former guests on Between Two Mics.
NOAH: Right. That’s where I Bradley-Yeah. Uh, Bradley’s a stud um, so is was George. George was really good too. Um, so finally got some help there and, and, you know, started getting their services. Um, and that’s when the show took off. That’s when we started, they took off, but that’s when we actually started moving the needle forward. Uh, I got my perfectionist hands out of the way.
ZACH: And at the same time, starting to, you know, move podcasting forward because you found that that opportunity that it just, you know, what you were looking for didn’t exist. And you know, that, that’s one of the things we like to focus on. And I know Rock has, has brought this up in, in the past, but you, you mentioned, you know, there’s your, your entrepreneurial life, there’s your CTO life, um, on one side of the coin. And then, you know, your, your creative life on the other. And I, same coin, of course. And I, I, I would like to echo a lot of what you’re saying, as scratching that creative itch is something that, um, was one of the reasons that kind of led to, to starting Squadcast and wanting to do something, um, in, in podcasting, uh, more in audio drama, but you know, to scratch that creative itch. So I hear you, um, on that. But, but you know, starting a podcast is also not, there’s a lot of parallels to starting a company and um..That’s one of the things that we like to tell people, is like, you know, if there’s, there’s a lot to, to, uh, there’s a lot of knowledge out there about the avoiding pitfalls and doing a startup and just kind of how to think about these new ideas and how to test things and, and, you know, change things as you go. Um, so how many of those, uh, parallels do you say that you know, uh, experienced, uh, starting, you know, starting companies and then starting the podcast?
NOAH: Sure. I’d say quite a bit. Um, you know, especially, you know, if I was doing it all myself, I think I could probably lower the expenses to, to sort of just be eaten in my own personal, um, account. But, but bringing on an engineer, um, to do a lot of the, um, sort of co-producing, uh, the post-production editing, kind of thinking through the narrative and how the stories are being told, you know, added expense. And then also brought on a promotions person to do kind of some of the social media, make the posts everywhere, which was another expense. And so we started seeing that add up. Um, and thinking, okay, well there’s money out the door and we’re not making any money. So how is this going to be sustainable? Um, so, you know, organizing a team there, I mean, that’s essentially a three person team, me and George and, and Deanna Chapman was our, uh, promotions person. She’s no longer working with us, but she did a great job. Um, and, and so we had a little team, you know, we had to build a website, so to get our name out there. We had to build, you know, we need to get, uh, the files hosted. We had to make sure we’re submitted to all of the directories so that we’re all operationally set up. So there’s some operations, um, parallel there with starting new businesses. Um, so there were, I mean, there were quite a few. And then, and then sponsorships, you know, um, getting in sponsorships so that we can cover our cost of, you know, of production. Uh that’s, that’s something that we, you know, we’re still battling today and just trying to make sure that essentially we’re, we’re breaking even so that we can keep going. Um, which is super important, you know. And I didn’t set out to make the podcast, um, to make a ton of money. Honestly, I, I, I set out to have artistic, um, outlet and, and, um, seeing kind of where it could go. There could, there could be some, some financial success there too. Um, but right now it’s, it’s more, more on how we keep the lights on and, um, keep operating.
ROCK: Yeah. And it’s interesting to hear you just kind of talk about all this because, uh, it definitely does sound like it, you know, you started this as a creative outlet, but it still sounds like your, your, your business side, uh, couldn’t help themselves, but still look at this like a business and say, Hey, I need, I need help. I need to have a team. I need to get out of the way on some things. There’s some things that, you know, others are better suited to do. How are we going to cover our costs? And, and just, I mean, was that all intentional or…Because I don’t know if any, you know, a lot of people don’t necessarily do that automatically. And it just seems like maybe it came more naturally to you.
NOAH: Sure. I think that it comes naturally now because of the experiences I’ve had. So at Veryable, you know, it started out with Mike Kinder, my partner and I, and, um, he’s the CEO and I’m CTO. We co-founded Veryable and jumped in and it was just me. Uh, as far as the technology-wise to build software. I had a couple of people helping me from my agency sorta as paid hands, but it was primarily me building the software. And, um, we need to move as fast as, as I wanted us to go. And we really only started moving, uh, towards our goals towards where we want it to go, when we started bringing on team members. And started bringing on the right people who saw the vision, who saw what we were doing. Um, and so that sort of becomes second nature. That, that became second nature for me because I’m an efficiency driven, uh, man. I’m, I’m someone who really thrives on doing things efficiently, um, which, which can annoy my wife sometimes to be honest. Uh, uh, but it, she puts up with me though. She’s amazing.
ROCK: Well, God Bless her. Thank you, Mrs. Labhart.
NOAH: That’s alright. That’s alright. But so I, I like to do things efficiently and in the most efficient way, operationally, get a team, get the right people in place. You can’t scale something by yourself. Um, for the most part, you know, there are things that can scale. There are indie hackers that are doing well. Um, but, uh, for me anyway, um. I, I move the needle forward when I am out of the way. When I’m not the one doing the day-to-day. When I’m on the balcony, when I’m zooming in and zooming out. I’m on the balcony, looking at the big picture and then zooming in with the team going, Hey, here’s what I see. Let’s make sure we’re, we’re doing the thing. So it, it, it kind of came naturally based on the, the, uh, uh, front lines I’ve been on in the past.
ZACH: Yeah, I think of it. You know, while listening to you now, just now I think it’s like a recipe on how not to pod-fade. Uh, there’s so many people who, who don’t set themselves up for that sustainability, even if it’s not making, you know, the financial equation isn’t necessarily adding up just yet or…You know, whatever that side of it, but just the sustainability of your, your work and your input. Um, and, and getting people to help with those things, I think is, is, you know, one of the reasons why you’re still podcasting and, you know, continuing and having successes. So it’s, it’s just, you know, it’s really inspiring. Um, I think, you know, in, it’s, I’m kind of waiting for when that, that term pod-fade is, is going to fade, uh, is going to pod-fade out of our vocabulary, uh, because of, you know, the, the recipe, like, like you just said. So I’m curious though like…I know you’ve had a lot of success with your podcast. You also didn’t mention, uh, your Slack group, which I think, uh, very grateful you invited me to. So I think that was a little bit unique. Um, so I’m curious though, like you, you seem to be doing a few different, uh, you know, things differently, like where do you, where do you see it going in, in 2020 for, uh, for the, you know, enhanced productivity and, um, and, uh, you know, efficiency of your show?
NOAH: Sure. That’s a, that’s a great question. Um, the one thing we’re focusing on, um, in 2020, so we’re finishing out in January, we’re finishing out season one. And then in season two, um, starting kind of the end of January. And, um, and then pushing through probably through the middle of the summer, I think is how long it lasts. And what we’re doing a little bit different in season two is, is kinda taking some feedback from, from the listeners. Um, we’re really, you know, want to create a show that aligns with the original vision that I had, but also is what people want. You know, maybe people aren’t listening to it, uh, and then it’s just an artistic outlet for me. Right? Which is fine. But, um, but why, why do it well, let’s, let’s try to make something together, all of us. And listening to feedback on, you know, what people want in the show, what they like, what they dislike, um, what sort of guests were, were really popular from a download standpoint or from a social media response standpoint? Um, so we’re focusing a bit on, um, how we’re crafting the narrative with the music. Um, so we’ve gotten a lot of feedback from: the music’s cool or, or the music’s okay, but it feels a little distracting at times. Um, so I’ve, I’ve talked to a few listeners and, and some of them actually being podcasters themselves too and said: Hey, I’m getting this feedback. What do you think? Um, and taking some of their pointed feedback and applied it to what we’re going to do in season two. Um, so that’s, that’s a big thing from a, from a productivity and efficiency standpoint, um, kind of looking for the places that are getting the most traction and, and sort of pouring all of our efforts there. So we were posting on Facebook. We were posting on all the social media channels essentially. Right? But we weren’t getting a lot of traction from, from Facebook. It was more like my family knew whenever, whenever I had a podcast out. Right? And that was cool too, but I can just tell them. So Facebook wouldn’t get a lot of traction. Uh, Instagram wouldn’t get a lot of traction. LinkedIn was, and Twitter was, um, and, uh, Indie Hackers actually gets a lot of, a lot of traction too. So I’ve sort of doubled down and just focused on those three and pulled back on the rest. Um, we have a Patreon page to patreon.com/codestory. Not a lot of traction there either. So I’m still maintaining posts there, but not really pushing it. Um, so, uh, in an efficiency standpoint, like whenever, when an episode release, releases, I’m make sure and we’re, you know, we’re posting on the things that really matter, um, and trying to figure out, um, also how, how to incentivize, and this is everybody’s problem, but how to incentivize organic growth too. How to make the listeners share with other listeners. Um, you know, liking on social media, but also, um, you know, incentivizing them to be like: Hey, you know, go, go post this on whatever social media network, right? Or send this to your friends and track it this way. And if, you know, you get to a certain point, we’ll send you a t-shirt or we’ll send you a Code Story mug, you know, or we’ll give you a shout out on a show. Um, so we’re experimenting with that stuff too, from a productivity and efficiency standpoint, that’s going to really scale back a lot of time of promotion. Um, and, and enable a little more organic growth there. So that’s something we did at Veryable too, and it’s something everybody tries to, tries to accomplish. Hoping we will.
ZACH: Yeah. And you had mentioned, uh, earlier, before Rock, about the, you know, your, your focus on, on actually telling a story, right? It’s not just tech, you know, A equals B or whatever, like just how’d you solve this problem. There’s a lot of drama, right? In, in building out the new technology and trying to go up against, um, you know what already exists and say, Hey, there’s a better way to do things. And, um, and, and then being a little bit insane to think you can do it. And then all of a sudden, like having this, uh, you know, this kind of breakthrough, uh, sometimes, not all the time, but you know, sometimes it takes 10 or 20 different, uh, approaches to, to get there. So I see as a CTO, you know, I intuitively understand, uh, that there’s a lot of story arc and there’s a lot of, uh, there’s a lot of drama. There’s a lot of heroes. There’s a lot of villains. There’s a lot of, uh, of everything that make great stories. Um, but, but for our listener, how, how do you think about that? Cause I think…It would be very, it seems like to me, very, uh, very easy to be like, okay, I’m going to talk to these people. They’re influential. They’re, you know, entrepreneurs, they’re building these startups. That’s cool on its own. So let’s just, we can just go with that. You know, like I don’t necessarily need to dig for stories, but you’re going that extra step and finding stories within an area that, you know, I think is a little bit a road less traveled for most, uh, for most individuals. So how do you, how do you, how are you thinking about kind of finding those, those stories within the, the drama of, uh, of building out new technology?
NOAH: I love that. I love that word. Um, drama around it. Because it is, it’s a lot of, it’s a lot of ups and downs. Right. And it’s lots of, uh, mini milestones and celebrations and then oh crap moments. And they might be on the same day. Um, so I mean, how I, how I approached that… in the beginning, I kind of laid out a, um, a list of questions that I thought about from a, um, technology, you know, building a technology standpoint. Building a startup standpoint, but not just to start up, a digital startup from the eyes of the tech leader. Right? Like I know what the business goal is. Now, how do I translate that into ones and zeros essentially. And, and so I laid out kind of my, my best, best cut at it. And then I sat down with a bunch of my friends who were, who were tech leaders and tech CTOs and things like that. Um, and said, what do you think? You know, what do you think this really dives into this story enough? And I got some good feedback. I got like, okay, you’re, you’re 60, 70% of the way there, but there’s another 30%. And a lot of it surfaced around, um, mistakes. Um, a lot of the drama came around, um, you know, ask people about their mistakes. What did they do wrong and how did they respond to it? What did they do wrong that turned out to be a blessing in disguise? Like, oh crap, we screwed that up. But this is what it produced. So this was really a good thing in the long run or yeah, this really screwed up and we’re still paying for it, and here’s a little more drama. And if anybody has the answer, you know, email me. Um, so there’s so many, you know, I love the way my partner puts it, Mike. He says, you know, we’re a startup, we’re going to be up to our elbows in issues all the time. Um, it just how we respond to those issues. And so I, I always hold on to that when he said that a couple of years ago, you know, hold onto that and think about it. Um, and I think that’s true for, for startups. I think that, um, every day is a new challenge, and it may not be that every day is a new problem. Um, but every day has its own sort of little mini drama and it, and crafting those together makes a really cool story, you know, um. It’s, it’s not for the faint of heart to start a business or try to build something brand new and go make people, uh, what you can’t make people want it, but go put it out there and in hopes that people want it, um. And there’s a lot of like, moments where you’re like: holy crap, someone downloaded my app, you know, or man that was amazing, like we got our first five customers, you know, and it’s only been a week. This is great. And then it’s like: holy crap, how are we going to pay people next week? You know, the money’s going out of the bank to pay for AWS, you know, uh, this just really, like, it’s, there’s a lot of tension, you know, a lot of ups and downs in and, um, there’s so many of those moments, uh, on the tech side too that, that I think people, people can talk about. And usually it just starts with the mistakes or the oh, crap moments.
ROCK: So one of the, um, main sources of feedback when we attend the local podcasting meetups, um, they do this, uh, portion of the meetup called “the hot seat” where someone, um, you know, basically we’re w we have homework before that meet up to listen to a few episodes of their podcast to come in and prepare, to give feedback on that podcast. Um, and one of the common sources of feedback that we see, and we got it as well, when we were on the hot seat was like going in intentionally knowing what the story is, or having the story kind of, that you want to tell, like in mind, before that interview. Um, and so I’m wondering is that, how do you go about it where you kind of already go into it, knowing what the story is? Or because of, you know, it’s a startup and, you know: Hey, there’s going to be stories in here somewhere. I just got to ask the questions and we’ll, we’ll, we’ll create that story in post-production and make it, you know, have that flow and arc, um, or I mean, and it could be both. It could be, you know, I’m just curious, how do you go about, you know, finding those stories?
NOAH: Sure. Um, I love that question. It’s a little bit of the latter. Um, we’re I sorta know. Okay. As, as a CTO, you’re going to have approached some of these things, or you’re going to be approaching some of these things, right. So I know this is where your eyes are going to be, but I don’t know exactly your particular experience. Right? Um, I know of your product, right? I’ve used your product, but I don’t know, under the hood and nobody knows, except for this team, under the hood, what you’ve gone through to make this work. Right? Do you have it all strapped together with duct tape? Or is it, you know, fully, fully scalable across a, a set of microservices, right? Or do you, have you, have you built it as a monolith and you’re busting at the seems and AWS now? Or are you, um, you know, are you scaling gracefully, right? Or is it a conglomerate of like patched together systems… It’s.. everybody’s got their own, their own story. I know where the front door is. And so I know where to knock. Um, and then when they open that door, it’s like, oh, I know that piece of furniture, you know, over there. Uh, oh, I know why you put that picture on the wall because you know, you had this problem with AWS. So then I can dig in a little more and, and, you know, ask questions about specific technology and then go back out the front door and go to the next house. Right. So, so we’re digging into the tech we’re, we’re getting into the bits and bytes and that’s satisfactory for my more tech-minded individuals, but then we’re going back to the process of the startup, um, and walking down the neighborhood. So that’s, that’s kinda, that’s kinda how I see-approach it.
ROCK: I really like how you put that, that you, uh, you know, where to knock. That makes a lot of sense. And that’s why, when I formed me, when I was thinking of that question, I was like, you know, do you go in intentionally? But maybe you don’t need to because you already know that there’s, and we know it too, like minute to minute, hour to hour. I mean, it sounds, it does sound cliche, but it can be a rollercoaster. So, you know, and if there’s not, it’s like, well, maybe you don’t have customers, or maybe there’s no story to tell here. So every startup has a plenty of plenty of stories. So that’s, you picked a good segment to interview, I suppose.
ZACH: To have such a deeply technical podcast, Noah, um, and still make it about the story and the humans who are in these roles and trying to figure out how to go from zero to one to, to quote Peter Thiel, like, you know, and, and find those interesting stories. Um, I mean, now that I’m, you know, listening to you talk about it. I’m not aware of any startup that just goes from, you know, we have the answer on day one and you just execute on that, that plan. And then that’s it, you know, it’s like, where’s kind of, where’s the fun in that too. Right? So it’s not that we’re out here seeking drama, but, you know, I think we’re actively trying to design for, for stability and scalability and all of those things. But, uh, also the, uh, the, the, the startup road is, is littered with corpses, right? Everybody talks about like nine out of 10 startups fail, and all of that stuff, like. I’m curious, like, um, how many of those kinds of, uh, stories have, have been essentially, and then it’s like, oh, and this is what killed us. Or like, um, uh, along those lines, does it, does it get that bleak or is it like, uh, usually like, um: oh, that was my last startup. And you know, now, now we got it figured out this time around, or how does that usually surface in your episodes?
NOAH: Sure. That’s a great question. You know, I don’t, I don’t, uh, we haven’t had anyone, um, come on that’s been like, here’s the startup story and we failed, right? It’s, it’s, it’s been, we have had a couple, um, one that comes to mind is Ben Milne of Dwolla and who, who basically did a startup in fintech and then had some successes, but realized what they were really good at was the infrastructure behind that. Uh, and then basically pivoted. And then started their business around the infrastructure part that’s Dwolla um, they do ACH ACH, uh, B2B product, and they’re amazing. Um, uh, but, but I don’t know that we’ve had any one on, uh, which would be amazing. I’m not going to try to get someone on now that’s basically like, um: it failed and here’s how we failed and that’s the end of the story. Um, because that’s, that happens more often than not. So I think that would be really cool. So not, we haven’t, we don’t have any like that yet.
ZACH: Oh, I, I’m just trying to like, that’s, that’s like beyond drama, right? That’s like, oh man, this is real. This is real life. Um, so I don’t, I don’t know if that’s something. Yeah, that would be necessarily enjoyable. One thing that, one of the things that I want to come back to is like, you know, your, your emphasis on, uh, the transition between season one and season two. And how you’re, you’re taking listener feedback, which is a big thing, right, that we encourage all podcasters to not just engage with their audience and say, oh, thanks for listening. And, you know, um, tell your friends. But like, what did you think? And what did you like and more, very specifically, like what, what didn’t sit right with you? And looking for those kinds of nuggets of wisdom, because it, it is, um, something that we definitely encourage people like you, you, you are making this podcast for listeners. Like this is a something that is, of course for you, you benefit from it. And it’s a big part of your life and your, your work that you do, but it is, uh, you are providing listeners with an experience and trying to, uh, trying to optimize for that. And of course, we talk a lot about quality and how that can have a big impact on the listener experience. But also the story arc, the music, like the, the little details, the polish that, that you’re mentioning. Um, it’s crazy to me, um, how many podcasters are kind of like, uh, the, the mindset is, it’s very similar to the startups to come back to that analogy where it’s like: okay, we’re gonna to, we will build it. And then, and then they’ll come, right? Like we, we know what people want and we’re just build it, and then people will use it. But it’s like the, in reality, that’s not how these things shape up. You have to go through these, these cycles of listening, trying things, listening, trying things, and it’s kind of bizarre to me, how few podcasters are using that to their, to their benefit, to help improve their show over the long term. And, and you are already doing that. So was that just intuitive to you because of the startup background or, or how, how do you recommend for our listeners, like maybe working that into their, their thinking of their podcast?
NOAH: Sure. I think a bit of it was from my background of, you know, like, how do we, uh, how do we go about building solutions? Right? We’re um, we’re building something with an hype, That’s another way to say it. We’re building something with it, a hypothesis, it’s so hard for me to say. Um, and, and we’re moving forward. And then we’re, we’re measuring feedback, iterating a bit, and then moving forward to more. Right. So that, that’s part of it from the, from the startup standpoint. But I think for me personally, too, I feel a tug. Um, when I, when I build something that I put out there and it’s, my hypothesis is not getting the, maybe the traction that I, you know, this dream I had in my head. Right? And, and then I start to be like, well, hmm. Okay. So there’s this natural draw to talk to people like, Hey, what did you think? Did you like it? Uh, if you didn’t like it, tell me what, tell me what you didn’t like. You know, don’t tell me the good, all the good stuff. I mean that’s great. Tell me that stuff too, but tell me all the bad stuff, like tell me like: oh, this part of the show, like I turned it off because you said this thing and it pissed me off. Or, or you put this song in there, and I couldn’t even hear the guy or the girl talking on the, on the podcast. Um, like tell me that, you know, I want to hear that. I want to be like, thank you that, you know, I don’t, I can’t figure out all that on my own. Um, so I think that it’s twofold. It’s a little bit of, you know, what I’ve done in the past with startup stuff, but it’s also this internal tug in me to like, I don’t know, make the right thing to, to, to make what people want. And maybe that’s a little bit of codependency or something like that. But, um, but you know, it it’s helpful in building products.
ROCK: Yeah, absolutely.
ZACH: Yeah. And it’s crazy how few people are doing that right? Over, over and over. And certain, do you find that the seasonality of your show kind of is built in like, uh, you know, cycles or revolutions where you can say, okay, this is how we’re doing it for season one. This is our kind of hypothesis for that. Let’s go off and do like what, 10, 10 episodes. I don’t, I don’t know how many you did. It was more than that. Cause you had some pre season one, right?
NOAH: Right. Uh, yeah, so we, we, that is the part of why we’re, we’re going to go. And I say, we, because you know, we’re working with a team, but why I decided to go the season route so that we could have kind of a clear cutoff of this is how we did season one. And this is what we’re going to try season two, so we can measure it. Um, you know, we can really give it it’s due process. We’re pushing out season two and it’s going to take this long and we’re going to really let it take that long. We might get different ideas in the middle of the season, but we’re not going to change it, um, during, um, during that. So I think that is helpful. It gives us kind of a cutoff time, um, and to not be sort of this ongoing forever thing. Um, it’s hard to wrap your head around kind of an infinite, infinite show. Uh, so the seasons are 20 episodes and that’s arbitrary, why I chose 20. But that’s, that’s what I chose.
ROCK: I think that’s good number to give your fans and audience enough to keep them satisfied. And then, you know, I think the break, it, it gives them something to look forward to when you come back with next season. And I think it also allows people to, like, you’re saying reassess. And it it’s so funny, man. You just, you just can’t help but be, uh, operational and efficient minded is, and you know, one of the things I’ve noticed about you is I don’t think we’ve had a single conversation where you’ve, haven’t brought up your family and it’s very apparent. You’re, you’re a family man based on your, your web presence as well, which is definitely something that. You know, is important to us as well. Like, do you run your family this, this way too? Like, like how do you, how do you manage, uh, all that part of your life? Cause, uh, you know, Zach and I don’t have, uh, uh, you know, children of our own yet, but you know, I mean, I’m not, I don’t want to speak for you Zach, but I imagine at some point you, you, you want to have kids, so maybe, maybe. You can help us how to, how to run our run, our, our, our family, like a startup.
NOAH: Well, you know, it’s interesting. Um, I don’t run the family like that. That’s for sure.
ROCK: They run you, huh?
NOAH: Yeah. Yeah. I, um, you know, um, my, my wife is an amazing woman. Her name is Erin. And, uh, so Erin, Erin is incredible. Um, she is, she is, total, when it comes to like operational like details and things like that, not her bag, 100%. Her thing is relationship and quality time and, um, and being present in the moment. And she brings me up to a new level of, of life that I could never create on my own, because I’m not built that way. And so the way we tried, you know, not perfectly, we’re definitely not perfect, but the way we try to run our family is, um, is to have experiences together, you know, like carve out the times. That’s where I can be helpful. It’s like, okay, I’m going to work, work, work. And then this time we’re carving it out and we’re taking a trip. Um, you know, like we’re, we’re going to go, uh, on spring break to go take the kids to NASA, to go see some of the space stuff and pumped about that. Um, uh, but anyway, that’s kind of aside, but so the way we run it though is really just like: Hey, come look at my face, you know, like, Hey, come talk to me, which relationships and face-to-face conversations and emotions and everything. It’s very operationally inefficient. It’s very messy. And so I’m actually, that’s really challenging for me. And that’s where my wife is the super pro um, of our family and, and helps keeps, you know, she’s the backbone. She helps keep us, you know, our heads screwed onto the right things. And so all kudos to her on, on our, on our family. But our family is super important and, you know, it’s, it’s when it comes down to it, all this other stuff is just, is, is easy, really compared to the importance of, of what are, uh, what the, the people, uh, in my life are.
ROCK: Well, I think one thing is consistent as you, you, you, you find a way to have a good team. Uh, be, be a part of a good team and all work together. So whether it’s the family at the podcast or, or the startup, you know, you’re, you’re not going at it alone and, and, you know, lean on others to help you out. So I think there’s the theme there. So it makes a lot of sense.
NOAH: Well, I got lucky with my wife, uh, for sure. Uh, you know, she’s beautiful and she’s incredibly smart. And, um, again, she’s the backbone of the family. So I, you know, I, I can handpick teams for other things, but you know, God hand picked that one for me. And, um, and she’s amazing.
ZACH: That’s so awesome to hear. And, um, that is, that is something that, that, um, I, I feel like you summed up, uh, you know, how..some things that I feel about, about my life and my family, um, I said life. I met wife, my apologies. Um.
ROCK: I think she’d be okay with that, Zach. [laughs]
ZACH: [laughs] She is my life.
NOAH: Don’t edit that out.
ZACH: No. So, um, and also as a space nerd, that’s awesome you’re, you’re taking your kids to NASA, hopefully. Uh, hopefully there’ll be some of the first people to land on Mars or the moon. Uh, uh, so that’s, that’s really cool to hear as well. So, um, I, I don’t have any other questions for you, Noah. These are, these are always very, uh, deep and insightful conversations. I’ve learned a lot. I, I know that our listeners will. Um, and, uh, do you, do you have any other questions for, uh, for Noah, Rock?
ROCK: Yeah. Uh, I guess kind of random. It’s not too random, but you know, we started off, you started Code Story because you, uh, you know, we’re a fan of, of Guy Raz’s How I Built This podcast. And I’m just curious to have, how was your listening habits changed since that. I mean, it’s a great podcast, but, um, you know, now that you’re, you’re behind the mic more. Um, has your listening at all habits changed a bit or is there anything, any new shows that you’re listening to? Or is, you know, I mean, How I Built This is certainly entertaining enough for me. So it’s still a part of my podcast diet, but curious how yours has changed if it has it all.
NOAH: Sure. That’s a, that’s an interesting question. I think it has changed. Um, it’s changed a bit in, um, I think it’s expanded. I think I’ve added another category. So, so I still, listen to How I Built This. I still listened to, um, a lot of the podcasts that, uh, that I still listen to previously. I’m kind of a, a junkie. I don’t, I don’t, I don’t, um, listen to radio. I don’t really watch a lot of TV, my wife and I watch a show every once in a while, but I listen to podcasts a lot. And, um, you know, as far as the habits though, I think I, I start to pay a lot of attention to how people are crafting their shows now, um, being behind the mic. I think I’m starting, I can picture in my head like, okay, I, I can see sort of how they may have went about this process. You know, what that interview probably felt like and how the editing process maybe went, went about and what they were thinking a little bit, um, in structuring things maybe a certain way. Um, so that has changed a bit. Um, there’s also another, the category part is I’ll listen to podcasts, um, to, to other shows of, of that are similar to mine or in similar vein, um, to see like, how are they doing that? How are, who are they talking to? Um, you know: Hey, that’d be a cool guest. I’ll reach out to them and say, Hey, I liked your show, or I liked your appearance on this show. You should be on my show. And things like that. So that, that has definitely been added. Um, I think probably the, probably the biggest thing is that I’ve just listened to a lot more. It just keeps getting… I have a hundred, a hundred podcasts that I’m subscribed to, and I unsubscribe to things that I don’t listen to anymore. So there’s probably been 200, 300 in the past couple of years that have flown in or out. Um, so that’s probably, probably what has changed the most, just more listening to how people did it and then to like-minded type-shows.
ROCK: Well you’re in a you’re in good company, I think because we’re, you’re with fellow junkies. So, uh, you know, the next week’s podcasters anonymous meeting is in, uh, in San Francisco. We’ll we’ll we’ll conference you in. Yeah.
NOAH: Save me a seat and pour me a cup of coffee there. My name is Noah Labhart. [laughs]
ZACH: [laughs] Yeah. Um, that was, that was, uh, definitely, you know, again, echoes, I think there’s a lot of commonalities between you and me, folks like you and me. It’s kind of…It’s kind of bizarre.
ROCK: Totally. Yeah. When I was listening to him talk about his starting and I was like, oh my god, this sounds just like Zach, when he was like, pitching me on Squadcast. In all the best ways. Don’t shake your head.
ZACH: No it’s, yeah. It kind of caught me out because Kieran’s the same way. It’s like, man, um, you know, our consumption habits are like creation habits, like studying how other people are doing things like there’s, um, there’s a number of parallels. Uh, it’s just bizarre to me that, uh, that, uh, and I’m, I’m, I’m glad there’s, there’s other people like us out there that are trying to shape things a little bit, uh, trying to leave things better than we found them maybe is a better way to say it. Um, so, um, yeah, I, I don’t have any other questions just to kind of wrap up where we’re really grateful for you coming on the show. I’m really grateful again, for the opportunity to guest on your show. Code Story, check it out. Subscribe where, where can, um, our, our good listeners find you online, Noah?
NOAH: Sure. Yeah. Thanks for having me super, super big fan of Squadcast and Between Two Mics, obviously, too. Um, and, uh, so Code Story, you can check us out on codestory.co or, um, you can find us on any major podcast directory, um, you know, Apple, Google Play podcast, Pocket Cast, Breaker. The whole nine yards. Spotify. Um, yeah. And just search for us there, we, we release episodes weekly, season two will be ending here in a couple of weeks. So we’ve got a few more, few more left. Um, the founding engineer of Reddit’s going to be on there. Um, the CTO of Bark. And then we’ve got some, um, some big names coming, uh, for season two, uh, which I won’t mention yet. Maybe it’d be cool to mention them. I’m not going to.
ROCK: Don’t, let’s keep that suspense going. I like it. Cause now, because now I’m like, who is it?
NOAH: Super, super stoked about season two. Um, and a lot of the guests that, um, that we’re bringing on. Um, so yeah. codestory.co or any major podcast directory and, uh, um, you can hit me up on LinkedIn. That’s my my major, uh, social media outlet or, or by email Noah@codestory.co. Um, yeah, I’d love to love to hear any feedback. Yeah, thanks guys. This is super awesome.
ROCK: Thank you very much.
ROCK: This has been another episode of Between Two Mics with Zach and Rock from Squadcast.
ZACH: The best way to record remote podcast interviews like today’s, in studio quality.
ROCK: Visit bit.ly/squadpod to check out our resources page where you can download your free remote interview checklist.
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Vincent Moreno Jr. is an Audio Engineer, head of SquadCast Support, and avid BBQ’er. He aims to make sure Podcasters can create content smoothly while sounding crystal clear with ease.