There hasn’t always been a lot of time for Noah Labhart to scratch his creative itch.
As a husband, father of three, co-founder and CTO of Veryableops.co, and the founder and CEO of Touchtap, Noah has (understandably) had very little time to pursue music, a part of his life that once satisfied his need for creativity and even led to the formation of a band, Withheld.
But don’t get too bummed out for Noah yet. While making music has taken a backseat to his busy personal and professional schedules, the development of Noah’s podcast Code Story has helped fill in some of those creative gaps.
“I didn’t expect [that] part of it,” Noah admits on an episode of Between 2 Mics. “As soon as I started playing with some of the music and figuring out how I was going to structure the show and laying multitracks and fading in music…it really scratched an itch that I haven’t been able to scratch in a long time.”
Combine Noah’s creative, musical background with his professional experience in the tech industry and you’ve got Code Story, a weekly podcast that takes a deep dive into the unique story of a different tech startup on each episode. The project has given Noah the opportunity to blend his personal passions with the business skills he’s picked up along the way.
Keep scrolling to learn more about what he’s learned in the process of putting it all together.
Create the show you want to listen to
The initial inspiration for Code Story came from Noah’s love for another podcast, How I Built This with Guy Raz.
“I really dug the format,” Noah recalls of his early days listening to the show. “I liked how he was approaching the interviews, how he teased the interviews at the beginning. I thought, Man, this is awesome.”
As much as he loved How I Built This, Noah craved more technology talk. “I’m a tech guy, a long time software developer. I thought there must be something out there like this that might get further into the bits and bytes.”
Noah scoured the podcast universe for something that would combine the interviews with entrepreneurs he loved so much with a greater focus on technology. While he stumbled on some good content, none of the shows “had the narrative built in that was driving the storyline. [There were] none that had music building some tension.”
This was the kind of show Noah wanted to listen to, so he built it himself. He recorded the first episode of Code Story in October of 2018, spent the next few months learning the ins and outs of podcasting, and launched the show in June of 2019.
You can’t do it all on your own
A self-described perfectionist, Noah recalls the shift that took place with the podcast when he finally decided to take himself out of all of the details and trust that elements of the show might be better handled by other professionals. He brought on audio engineers, editors and a promotions expert to help get the word out about Code Story.
“That’s when the show took off,” Noah says. “That’s when we actually started moving the needle forward. I got my perfectionist hands out of the way!”
With technical elements of the podcast safely entrusted to engineers and editors, Noah was free to focus on the big picture and to apply his own professional expertise to producing and hosting the show.
You can always find a narrative arc
“My tech background really enabled me to ask the right questions to [guests], people who are tech founders or tech visionaries creating the products,” he says of coming into his own as the host of Code Story.
That background has also helped Noah see the importance of seeking out narrative arcs in the stories of every tech startup featured on the podcast, even though many people might struggle to see beyond their technical elements. Asking his guests about the mistakes they’ve made in launching their businesses, he says, is especially helpful for capturing the drama of startup life.
“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. Crafting those together makes a really cool story.”
Think you know a guest’s story going into the interview? Think again
Sure, Noah’s personal experience working on tech startups gives him useful insight into the kinds of “dramas” his guests have weathered to accomplish their goals. But he’s given up on believing he can know how an episode is going to shape up before his interview with a founder even begins.
“I know this is where your eyes are going to be, but I don’t know your particular experience,” Noah says of the way he’s learned to approach guests. “I’ve used your product, but I don’t know under the hood. Except for the team, no one knows under the hood what you’ve gone through to make this work.”
Noah uses a metaphor for interviewing that podcasters and interviewers of all stripes may find useful for empowering subjects to tell their own stories.
“I know where the front door is and I know where to knock,” he says. “When they open the door, it’s like, I know that piece of furniture over there. I know why you put that picture on the wall. Then, I can dig in a little more and ask questions about specific technology and then go back out the front door and go to the next house.”
For more helpful tips on leveraging your previous skills and experience into your life as a podcaster from Noah Labhart, listen to this episode of Between 2 Mics. Be sure to subscribe to get future episodes directly in your preferred podcast player.