- It wasn’t a lifelong passion for cross-country skiing or years of experience with intense physical expeditions that brought Sue Stockdale — now the host of the Access to Inspiration podcast — to the North Pole in 1995.
Nope. It was actually an advertisement that got the ball rolling. The ad, Sue recalls on an episode of Between 2 Mics, sought 10 novice Arctic explorers.
“I sent off for details about the expedition and when the brochure came back, it said, ‘Are you man enough for the ultimate challenge?’” she says. “And it was all pictures of men. That, to me, was like a red rag to a bull. I thought, Wow, they’re just assuming women can’t get on this expedition team. I’ll prove them wrong.”
After a rigorous selection process, Sue did, indeed, prove them wrong. Although she had never cross-country skied before, she became the first British woman to ski to the magnetic North Pole. Beyond her competitive spirit, she credits her curiosity with getting her to answer the ad in the first place.
These days, Sue uses that fierce curiosity as fuel in her work as a motivational speaker, executive coach and podcast host.
Sue wants to help others reach their own North Pole. She says doing so “would give my life more meaning.”
Here are a few things Sue has learned on her latest adventure: podcasting.
Trust the power of baby steps
Whether it’s cross-country skiing to the North Pole, launching a podcast or encouraging her clients to reach their own North Poles, Sue is a big believer in the power of baby steps.
“The more small steps people take, the more they get that motive for action, because we get some results,” she says. “If you took one step toward your goal every single day for seven days, at the end of that week, you’re seven steps further toward your goal than you were at the beginning of the week.”
While her days of extreme outdoor adventuring may be over, Sue says she sees everyday life and podcasting as her biggest adventures. Her principle of trusting small steps is useful no matter the size of the goal.
It’s not failure — it’s feedback
When asked about her response to failures, Sue references one of her go-to mottos: “There is no failure, only feedback.”
In situations where she comes up short as a podcaster, in particular — low listenership, tech issues, etc. — Sue goes back to that saying. Rather than letting it affect her self esteem and hard work — or worse, allowing it to discourage her from pushing forward — she works to detach emotionally and consider the stumbling blocks as feedback for the future, rather than failures.
“Often, people get feedback or they get information and then they attach judgment to it,” she says. If their podcast isn’t garnering tons of listens right away, for example, they may assume they’re “bad” at podcasting or resort to an old assumption that they would never establish an audience.
Instead, Sue urges podcasters — and everyone else! — to reframe challenges. Take yourself out of the situation and consider how you might be able to address that feedback and improve your product so you can be more successful going forward.
Your connection with the guest starts before the podcast interview
Access to Inspiration podcast episodes are 25 minutes long maximum, so to make the most of her time with each guest, Sue aims to strike up a rapport — quickly. This process actually begins long before they start recording.
“It’s about how I communicate with them beforehand, the sense they’ve got of being on the podcast and what they expect from the experience,” Sue says.
When guests have a positive experience with preparing to be on Access to Inspiration, they can more easily slip into a rapport with Sue when the recording begins “so the brilliance can come out and isn’t left to the last two minutes.”
Your purpose? Let the guest shine
Drawing that brilliance out of each guest is, in fact, one of Sue’s primary goals with her show.
“That’s exactly what I’m aiming to do in the podcast, is to bring out the brilliance of somebody, switch them on so they just light up and the best of them comes through in the conversation,” she says. “It’s about them getting the sense of my innate belief in their potential, in their brilliance, and that they’ve got something interesting to share.”
For more inspiring tips on how to get and stay curious — in podcasting and life! — from Sue Stockdale, listen to this episode of Between 2 Mics. Be sure to subscribe to get future episodes directly in your preferred podcast player.
Rockwell Felder is a CPA, entrepreneur, and co-founder of SquadCast. He and his team are on a mission to amplify collaboration, seeking to empower creatives to engage in meaningful conversations without barriers.