Episode 40 - Hiding


Peter: Hey Jen.

Jen: Hey Pete.

Peter: I have a confession, maybe, that I should get out there.

Jen: O...kay. I'm a little bit nervous. Are you okay?

Peter: Yeah, I'm okay. I just think, I think I might be hiding, and I think there is one person who is best placed to tell me if that is the case. And that would be you. I'm wondering if you can help determine whether or not I'm hiding.

Jen: Okay. I guess this has become a game of hide and seek. This is The Long and The Short Of It.

What are you talking about?

Peter: So, you and I have talked about hiding quite a lot. In fact, we do talk about it all the time. And what I find interesting is, there is almost, it feels like there is an infinite number of hiding spots for people who do - well, for people who do any kind of work. But particularly, I think for people who do creative work, or people who are, perhaps, freelancers, and have to determine their own priorities, or are more likely to determine their own priorities. And so what is interesting is, often we find places to hide, like we might hide in our email inbox, or we might hide in focusing on just something really small that's actually not that important in terms of the broader work, the broader change that we seek to make, and I think, I think I found another hiding spot of mine, which is what I want to talk about. And it's relevant to this podcast because it's, it's the Instagram account that we have for The Long and The Short Of It. I think - so about five weeks ago, for those who haven't listened, we did an episode on experiments, and we decided that we would try an Instagram experiment to see what it might be like to have an Instagram account for the podcast, in the interest of sharing additional content that's not just podcast-related, but also creating more two-way dialogue, essentially, with our listeners. And the short of this is, as I've said about four times, I think I'm now hiding inside this Instagram account and protecting myself from doing what Seth Godin would call "emotional labor," or other productive interesting work.

Jen: Okay. This is so worth digging into. And I wanna just set a little context, which is that I've been hiding from the Instagram account from the very beginning, because I was the one who proposed the experiment, and then suggested that you run the experiment while I watched from the sidelines. So from the beginning, you have been the one shouldering the load of coming up with the Instagram posts and responding and following and all of that stuff. So it actually makes a lot of sense that you have found it quite a good hiding spot, and I'm, I'm so interested to unpack this from two perspectives, meaning yours and mine, because our experiences with the Instagram experiment are clearly so very different. And I have found it to be an immense success, which we can talk about in a little bit, but it sounds like from your end, the experiment sent you in a totally different direction. So, let's dig in.

Peter: Please. Yeah, I mean I could see how this might be viewed as a success, but let's get to that later, because of it's now created this episode, and hopefully a few realizations along the way. But so, when I talk about me hiding in Instagram - so, I've loved the fact that I've been able to - we've been able to, me on our behalf - I've been able to have these little one-way, sorry, two-way conversations with some of our listeners. That's been amazing. And I've loved the, just the, the creative process of coming up with various templates and themes, and thinking about what we could share and might share. I love all that creative part of it. The thing I don't love, and the thing I catch myself doing, which is by design, because these apps are built by people that are trying to make the apps addictive is, I pick up my phone and I check Instagram all the time to see if we've got another message from another listener, or to see if someone else has, you know, liked one of our posts, or shared one of our posts. And it's, it's to the point where I'm checking it so much that it's, like, interrupting other work that I should be doing and want to be doing, which is probably other work that is more interesting and more productive and more useful for our listeners. So what I've had in the last, like, couple of days in particular is this realization of, there is a difference between creating meaningful content on Instagram and sharing it, versus constantly checking Instagram and using it as a great place to hide, and a really, really convenient place to hide. And I can tell myself all sorts of stories that it's because I'm interacting with our listeners, and because I've got more content that I'd like to share and all of those things, but if I'm really, really, really, really honest with myself, that's a story that I'm creating to justify the fact that I'm hiding.

Jen: Oh, wow, okay. I feel slight pangs of guilt, right now. I'm going to put those aside and really, like, deal with the issue at hand, which is, I think what you're describing is very common. In fact, I've heard a lot of my own clients talk about this Instagram or social media vortex where that instant gratification of the like, the share, the comment, the follow, the unfollow, like, all of these one-second interactions feel in the moment like they are providing some sort of happiness, or, I don't want to call it "fulfillment," because I don't think it ever goes, goes that deep, but it's, like, this quick shot of happiness. But then, at the end of the day, when you ask yourself, "How did I spend my day?" it doesn't cumulatively add up to something fulfilling. So I'm, I'm so interested to hear from you, having recently been through a month of this, like, quick-fire interactions, do you feel like any relationships came out of these interactions? I'm so curious.

Peter: It's such a good question. I would say, honestly, probably not any new interesting relationships that have been, to your point, "fulfilling," because they've been such fleeting interactions. Like, "thanks for sharing, thanks for listening, hope you like the podcast," that, it's not, I can't possibly call that developing a meaningful relationship at all. And I think this is part of the realization of hiding is, and a story we can tell ourself, that I am connecting with the listeners, and we are now adding more value to the listeners. But in actual fact, to your point, it's more of a, like, once-off dopamine hit that is not actually contributing to a more fulfilling relationship, or a more meaningful relationship. And I think what we can get to is the realization that the energy and the time, cause this is the other thing, and I know that this could sound hilarious and contradictory for those who have listened to our social media episode because we basically talked about this, but I've fallen into the trap anyway, that the energy and the time is so great, that I could, and we could spend it in other ways that I think would help create more fulfilling relationships and more meaningful relationships with the listeners. So I don't think, it's almost like, the "What's it for?" that's still sound is a play - we could have a space to create more meaningful relationships with our listeners. We could have a space to share additional content with our listeners that I think will be a value to them, and you think will be a value to them. But I don't think the platform of Instagram, and I don't think the platform even of social media feels like the right place to do that, because I feel I start hiding in there, and then I'm thinking, our listeners are now, I'm giving them an excuse to come in and hide as well and not do their work, you know? And it feels like, I've heard social media described as, like, you're just yelling into the void, of like, you post and you yell into the void, and you hope someone listens, and if they do listen, well, you've just interrupted their day as well. So I feel like, I don't want to be somebody, and I don't think our podcast needs to be something that is about yelling into the void or interrupting people to get that little hit of dopamine.

Jen: Okay. What's interesting to me is, a couple weeks ago, you sent me a message that said something to the effect of, "Have you noticed that the people who are following us on Instagram are people we were interacting with on other platforms already?" So, in terms of, did we expand our reach, maybe there were a couple of people, but over all, no. And then to your point about enabling other people to hide, many of the people who are following us on Instagram are not only people we were already interacting with, but people about whom we care deeply. So it makes me sad to think that we would be encouraging them to hide as well. Ooh, that does not feel good.

Peter: Right. And I mean, I do think that, I do think that some of the content we have shared, and some of the feedback we've had has been really positive and really great. But I just think that the use of time, effort, energy, and, and just discipline to remove the hiding spot, I think is so important. Then you can do that and contribute something meaningful elsewhere. So I think could, I mean, could you get better at, or could I get better at just doing a post and switching off? Sure. But knowing that the app is designed to be addictive and suck you back in, I just think it's better off for me and my sanity, and you and your sanity and our listeners and their sanity, if maybe, perhaps we blow up the experiment and call it a learning experience.

Jen: Okay, okay, okay. So I love this so much. I love it so much. So let's now look at the experiment as a whole: what we were seeking to learn from it, what did we learn, in what ways can we take those learnings, repurpose them, and move them forward, and then ultimately make a decision about whether we proved or disproved our hypothesis and what we're going to do about that? Because I think what's really important, and the reason I want to do this, you know, live on this recording is, very often we set out to do something - "we" meaning the universal "we" - and it doesn't go as planned, so we just immediately call it a failure. Now, I said earlier, I think this is a success, so I would love for us to sort of unpack how can you get the knowledge that you need from the experiment you've conducted; even if you did not prove your hypothesis, what did you prove? What did you learn? So let's tackle that.

Peter: Yeah, I love that as a frame on a different way of looking at failure. Because you're right, you could, you could, one might think, "Oh, it was a failure," and then beat yourself up about it, but I like this.

Jen: Now we're going to have different learnings from this, because your learnings are from the internal perspective, and mine is more from the external perspective, cause I really did not engage with Instagram at all during this time except to see what you were posting, and say, like, "Good job, Pete." But I'll tell you what I learned from it: we both got excited when we decided that we needed to expand beyond simply sharing clips from the episode, and then you and I had been looking for an opportunity to do a segment called "Whatcha Readin'?" for a really long time, like since we first started talking about even doing a podcast together. So then it was like, "Oh, maybe Instagram is a place to share 'Whatcha Readin'?'" and then it became "Whatcha Listenin' To?" and we both got really excited about sharing things other than our podcast that were inspiring to us. That felt like a huge learning, and something I would want to take forward and really find a way to use again. And then the other thing that I noticed you were doing, and I think it started to first develop a craving and then started to satisfy the craving was, you started posting a clip or a quote from the episode and then asking a question for someone to respond to. And that was like, "Ooh, we haven't really provoked the audience to give us an answer to some of the questions we're asking until now." And that was very enticing. So those are two things that I, I feel like could only have happened if we conducted - and by "we," I mean you - the Instagram experiment, and tried out some different angles. So that feels hugely successful to me.

Peter: Yeah, I, I mean your first learning is the same as, I think, what my first learning was, which was realizing that the podcast can be more than, or the Instagram account, or whatever medium it is, can be more than sharing the podcast and saying, "Hey, we've got another episode available." Because in fact, those that are already subscribed to the podcast probably know there's already another episode of that. So reiterating that there's another episode, it's like, "I know, I see it on my podcast app, Pete. I get it, please leave me alone." So realizing that there's a lot of value in sharing other content that is relevant, but not just regurgitating the fact that we have an episode available. And it made me realize that, I mean, we've had some great feedback on the episodes "Favorite Things" and I think "Favorite Things 2.0," where we shared some of our favorite resources and our books and videos and quotes and all of those goodies, and a lot of people have said they love those episodes. And so what was exciting to me about, and what I learned through the, through the Instagram experiment was, it's quite an easy platform to do this. It doesn't have to be that you do an episode about it once every month, or once every two months that you do "Favorite Things" 4.0 and 5.0 and 6.0, it actually, there are other ways that you could share the content that people might find interesting. So that was a great learning. I mean, the other learning was, I've kind of talked about it, it was just recognizing that social media is a beautiful, beautiful hiding place, and that, like we talked about in our Social Media episode, so many people do it well, and so many people make money businesses and have huge success out of social media, and for them, I'm like, amazing, go for it, if that's what you want to do, if that's working for you, go forth. The realization for me was it's creating a place for me to hide, which means I'm not necessarily spending time thinking about topics for us having a conversation to record, or I'm not thinking about the keynote that I've got next week, because I'm just checking my, the Instagram account every, every twenty minutes, or whatever. So the realization that the medium is not necessarily for the podcast, but honestly more than that, it's not for, starting to think, it's not for me, Peter Shepherd, because honestly, the anxiety, the anxiety that came on, that comes on from, and from the idea of the dopamine hit and the content and all that, like, it's real, it's real, it's real. And then the story around, you recognize you're hiding, but you can't help but check, and so you beat yourself up, and it's like, this vicious loop of crazy anxiety is, I know that sounds kind of catastrophic, but it was a learning for me and just like recognizing, feeling and seeing all of that in myself.

Jen: Okay. I just had another learning come up. Do you ever watch television program called Chopped?

Peter: I've never heard of it.

Jen: Okay. It might not be an Australian thing. Um, it plays on the Food Network here in the States, and this is going to come back around to the point, but essentially, the chefs get a certain amount of time on the clock, and they have a basket full of mystery ingredients, and as soon as they open the basket, the clock starts, and they have to, like, very quickly come up with a dish. It's like, here is scallops, grape jelly, and, you know, pigs feet. It's like, "What? Oh my God." Okay, anyway, because the timing is so tight, often times when the food is presented to the judges, the judge will say something like, "Did you taste this before you served it to me?" and the chef will say something like, "No, I ran out of time," to which the judge will always say, "You have to taste everything that you ask someone else to eat." And I feel like, right now, one of those chefs on Chopped, who served the judge something without tasting it first. So looking at this, I'm now asking myself, "Jen, why in the world would you ask someone to go onto a platform that you won't go onto? Why would you ask someone to engage with content in a way that you won't engage with content?" Like, it doesn't feel fair, and it also is totally illogical. So I have no interest in Instagram. I'm sorry, I know people love it. So if you love it, like, you go, you go. I don't love it. I'm not interested in it. I wouldn't engage with someone on it. So why would I expect someone to engage with me on it? I, I just don't know what I was thinking.-

Peter: I mean, to your -

Jen: - when I propose this experiment. So that is a big learning. Like, maybe the platforms we need to be using are the platforms you and I are already interested in.

Peter: Right, and, I mean, in your defense, Instagram was and has been a platform that I have used in the past. So it wasn't that like, one half of The Long and the Short of It was aware of and has used Instagram in a similar way. So don't beat yourself up too much. I contributed.

Jen: Okay, thanks. I think this brings us to the moment of deciding what to do about the experiment.

Peter: Mmm. I have an idea.

Jen: I mean, I feel like, kind of clear on where you're coming from, but yeah, I want to hear your idea.

Peter: So, if we take the ideas or the learnings that we had around, we love the idea of sharing additional content and resources and - a box of goodies, if you like - in terms of things we're reading, things about, listening to things we're pondering and noodling on, for me it then becomes, well, what's, like, what's the best platform to do that? We already have the podcast, which is a great platform, and we talk about a lot of the stuff that we listened to already. And then I realized, like, it was almost as if I'd forgotten - we have this email list, and we have this weekly email that I send out that, at the moment, is basically, "Oh, by the way, there's a podcast available." And what if we took that email and that email list and turned it into something more generous, and combined the idea of sharing content or resources with the weekly email? So, a "weekly box of goodies," if you will, in your inbox, which you can consume at whatever time suits you. We're not going to interrupt you. We're not going to chase that dopamine hit. Perhaps we just send you an email once a week, and if you feel like checking it out, check it out. If not, that's okay too.

Jen: I love that. I'm in. Yes, yes to the weekly box of goodies. I receive weekly boxes of goodies from some other people whose work I follow. And once upon a time, you, you asked me, "Does someone have to know our podcast in order to get any value out of our Instagram account?" Something to that effect.

Peter: Yeah.

Jen: And what I think is interesting, and then you asked, you asked something related about email, I can't remember exactly what it was, but what I, what I think is interesting is, some of the weekly emails that I get from people that have a, you know, whatever their version of a box of goodies is, they have podcasts that I don't listen to, but I love receiving their newsletters or their, their weekly goodie box, and I feel like we could be that for some people if we go forward with this idea, which I am committed to doing, if you're committed to doing it.

Peter: I am committed, and I have my friend Josh Janssen of the Daily Talk Show to thank for that idea, who said if you had an email list, you could have an audience of people who just like the email that don't necessarily listen to the podcast. And I was like, that's a great idea.

Jen: So good.

Peter: Yeah.

Jen: Thanks Josh. That is so good. So earlier you said, "Let's blow up the experiment," and I think you were specifically referring to the Instagram account. So how should we blow up the Instagram account?

Peter: You're sensing, like, a dramatic exit.

Jen: I want a dramatic exit. Oh yeah.

Peter: I know you do. In a very, very audacious statement. No, I think I actually think it could be worth leaving the account, and having a post that refers to the fact that we're now going to be sending out a weekly box of goodies and we're not going to be posting on Instagram anymore. Something to that effect.

Jen: Yeah, I like it. Keep the account live, but basically give it, like, a dying breath post, that's like, "And you'll never hear from us again on this platform, and if you like us, please follow us along in this one."

Peter: It's like, "If you're looking for us, we're now over here." I think that's more how I'm thinking about it. Where, it was, we're in the podcast -

Jen: - Oh, I was thinking skull and crossbones, and like, poison.

Peter: Poison! Death to all! Yeah. No, if you're looking for us, we are obviously on the podcast app of choice that you have, and then also perhaps in your inbox, if you like.

Jen: So, if someone is listening right now and they want to sign up for this newsletter, the weekly box of goodies, they could go to thelongandtheshortpodcast.com, input your email. We will never spam you; we will only send you what you asked for. So, thelongandtheshortpodcast.com.

Peter: Where we also have transcripts and other goodies, and you can ask us questions and whatnot, so check it out. Subscribe to the weekly box of goodies, and to those that have enjoyed following us on Instagram, if you are out there, apologies, I guess.

Jen: We're so sorry.

Peter: But that is The Long and The Short Of It.