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Applying Ease to Podcasting

Surprise! It has been so long since you may have seen this show in your feed, so I’m sending lots of hugs and hellos. After an 18-month podcasting hiatus, I am popping in, sharing what’s on my mind, what I’ve been up to, and how I’m thinking differently. Tune in to hear how I’ve talked to my astrologer about podcasting, how turning 40 has changed the way I work (or not work), and how I have a mostly healthy addiction to romance novels and my peloton. Will the podcast come back? And when? Whatever the answer is, my goal is for it to be with ease.

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Notes from this Episode:

Hello dear listeners – oh I know it has been so very long. Surprise! 

There has been something about the podcast that I can’t get out of my mind. Trust me I have tried. 

And so I say hello and press record. 

It has been quite some time since I released an episode. 

The podcast started in October 2016 and I released four seasons until October 202o – a total of 82 episodes and nearly 40,000 downloads. Butttttt It became a bit much. 2o2o It felt so heavy when the world was already so very hard. 

As I reflect on bringing back the podcast, just like so many areas of our lives, we evaluate. 

We look a little bit closer. Protective of energy, our time, our why. My word for the 2022 is ease. This would have been the opposite descriptor for what I had turned Josie and The Podcast into. 

So that is the number one thing I reflect on. Ease. Not easy, but also not perfect. So, what imperfections can I bear? Maybe I’m jumping ahead of myself. 

I’m kinda talking out loud – Ease in format. Ease in conversations. Ease in editing. Ease in marketing. Ease in me. 

How are you thinking and applying Ease in your world? 

For the last two years, as a mere podcast listener, I have learned so much about the delivery of podcasting, and what I love about certain shows and podcasters. 

The openness of hearing a blooper or hiccup and the laughter that ensues, or simply listening in on two women talk about self-care and romance books – and find myself wanting to be in their friend. I’m still not into crime podcasts and for my own wellness, I had to temper my news pod feed. How has your podcast consumption and curiosity changed over the last couple of years?

I especially love seeing the growth of podcasting throughout higher education, from every corner of the industry – and even pods that are supporting those who have left the field. In student affairs we have two cornerstone shows, SA Voices from the Field hosted by Jill Crieghton, and Student Affairs Now which has a team of hosts including Keith Edwards and Heather Shea. 

There is also a surge of higher ed marketing and communication podcast that have sprung up, like Confessions of a Higher Ed CMO with Jaimie Hunt or The Application with Corynn Myers. And then industry-wide shows like The Key with Inside Higher Ed or Future U with Jeff Selingo and Michael Horn.

What are some of your favs? 

Over the years, both as a podcaster and podcast consumer is this : Podcasting is intimate. how they are received into our ears – into our bodies – through voice – I am continually fascinated by. I was reminded of this when I saw a recent review of my own podcast. 

Not this is not a promo to review my podcast….but you know they don’t hurt a girl. Anyway, this one reads, “Josie is a natural, exudes positivity, and is often one of the highlights of my day. Listening to her is like listening to your super supportive big sister.”

It got me in my tracks. Why does it feel like I’m going to cry? Maybe it is how much I love my sisters-in-law and friendships that have turned into sisterhoods, but I’m not sure I could have asked for a more affirming review. Super supportive big sister? Sign me up! 

Could this podcast be the baby sisters club of higher ed? Okay maybe that’s a bit much – but what is HEAVILY on my mind is the mental health and overall wellness of the humans of higher ed. I’ve written about it a lot lately in my newsletter and blog. 

Higher ed pros could use a whole lot more support. 

So – as I think about the future of the podcast – I want that to be a consistent drumbeat. 

As I move further into my 40’s, I am learning and loving more about myself. Not a skill I fear has come easily, costly actually. The pandemic caused havoc in so many areas of wellness, one of the many reasons so many of our colleagues have left the industry. We need to talk about this. Higher ed is not okay.

I continue to be fixed with how leaders choose (or not choose) to show up online and overall use technology. I still can’t believe I wrote a book on it! The bedrock of the podcast, connecting Tech and Leadership in Higher Education. While status updates were fun to react to, and strategies have been shared – more meaningful conversations have been had when I ask each guest “why” they lead online. I think about going deeper behind the screen. 

Lately, I’m also thinking more broadly about communications, not just social media. The strategic, transparent, and authentic means by which we need our leaders to communicate – it is not optional. And the ever-evolving definition and dismantling of leadership, inequities, and the overall future of higher education.

I get fired up about remote and hybrid work, centralizing marketing & communications in student affairs, and overall caring for the humans of higher ed – including the desperate need to better train supervisors and managers, elevating and recognizing the work of social media pros. You know just a few things…

But I’m also thinking about community. How attending just one conference this spring (and thank the lord I did not get COVID), brought me so much joy that I hadn’t felt in years. With empathy, I think of high school students that never got a prom, past college grads who are finally getting to walk about that commencement stage, and the list goes on and on. 

How are we thinking and activating community differently than February 2020? What is the digital student experience that can hold strong no matter what next variant or global crisis knocks on our campus doors? Or how leaders are building strong internal communities for their teams. 

Since March 2020, you can imagine I’ve had plenty to speak about, and honestly – my business has never been so busy. I am very grateful for this. I’m not trying to be a bratty big sister, but since I began this work as early as 2010 – inside I was kinda saying, “I told you so.” teehee 

But of course, that is not the message I want you to take away today. If I’ve been repeating any message it’s been this, I’m here to help. I value access and this is why I’ve always continued to blog, present at conferences, and podcasts. Professional development deliveries are in dear need of transformation – heck I’m not even recommending or accepting most one-time keynotes anymore. Seriously, does just one workshop or session really result in transformation? (no, no, no). I’m especially excited to be working with campuses on a curriculum where we scaffold content and skillsets over time, through workshops, coaching, self-paced learning, and campus-wide dialogue. 

This past year I also tried out a new format of caring for higher ed – a retreat. In December and January, I offered a series of 3-hour retreats called Renew, especially for those in marketing and communications and leadership. 

This was wellness and goal-setting-based experience, that without wading into the therapy waters, was healing, processing, and releasing space, coupled with setting intentions and building community. From meditation to celebrations, this format opened my eyes not only to what could be possible for how I facilitate but also just how much higher ed pros were hurting and need healing spaces. Since then I’ve incorporated things like body scans and breathing exercises into many meetings and workshops. 

So this too comes with me as I think about the podcast. 

There are days when I’m sprung into action and ideas with the podcast, other days I’m reminded of how much havoc it caused. This is why it’s taken so long to even turn on my microphone and start recording. It’s pretty simple actually. 

But it didn’t use to be. I used to go back into my husband’s studio to record and edit, as I didn’t have the tech in my office. This changed within the first two weeks during Los Angeles stay-at-home orders – Lloyd just showed up in my office with gear. Second hand or not, this will provide ease as I think about the next season of the podcast.

If you can’t already tell, I’ve been pretty in my head about this whole podcasting thing. So it’s like therapy just to write it down and say it. It’s been on my mind so much, that I actually brought it up with an astrologer. 

Yes, dear listeners, if you didn’t already know, I am full-blown woo woo. And yes, I’d love for an element of this and overall wellness and renewal to have a more clear and consistent place on the podcast. Anyway – For the last three years, I’ve gifted myself with a reading on my birthday. She is also a podcaster: Heidi Rose Robbins. She said, “Josie, what if you just sat down and started recording.”

She got me. I didn’t know how to respond. 

I had never really thought of this before. Most things I do are put through project management systems, processes, and strategies. All brainstorms I had done previously were plotting out sponsors, timelines, and topics. 

Now, so much content creation and communications need strategies. This helps with sustainability, efficiency, and honestly my sanity. 

But this permission that Heidi gave me, to simply begin again. No grand release. No loud announcement with all that is to come. Just start. Speak. And push publish. 

It is how you found this episode today. 

I am reminded how just one small thing you put out into the universe puts in motion a possible larger impact – even if you don’t see it for years. My first realization of this was my blog, which first started to just get me through my doc program – and turned into a business. 

So this is my one small thing. For now. 

Honestly, I think that is all we can expect of each other. We have learned all the grand plans we can conspire are so easily wiped down by factors out of our control. And then knowing this, we set contingency plans that too are likely to need to evolve. 

What I do know is that the podcast will be coming back – and it’s going to change. I am more energized than I ever have been, even without a soup-to-nuts plan. 

So this is what I’m asking for. Like the Spice Girls harmonizing in their song Wannabe, “So tell me what you want, what you really, really want.” – I’m so super curious. 

What conversations are missing from the audio waves? Who do you want to hear from? What should I take a deep dive on? Would you be wellness or witchy stuff? Do you want me to go full researcher nerd and add layers of data?

Reach out to me on any other internet things – IG DM, Twitter, or go old school and email me at Josie@josieahlquist.com

BTW Back to the spice girls – while a teen of the 90’s I had no what they were actually saying over and over in Wannabe was “Slam your body down and wind it all around”

Um, ouch. No thank you. That made my back and knees hurt just saying it. 

As I wrap up the most random podcast episode ever – which I’m thinking as my just rip-the-bandaid-off episode – I thought I’d share a few things going on in my world. 

Again as a daily podcast listener I’ve found myself so curious and even committed to the podcasters I listen to often – from NPR to Add to Cart to I Weigh. I’ve bought their books, supported their causes – even showed up to meet and greet and got a photo with a podcaster – lol. 

Yes, I have some fandom built into my DNA. None of which I’m asking of you – I swear. 

But I am reminded, even in my research, I’ve found that community and connections are sparked online when we gift even the smallest nuggets about ourselves, our experiences, and our values online. 

When you see someone post about a TV show you love, you reply for the very first time and start following each other on Twitter and then eventually Instagram, so when you meet eachother a conference you are catching up on life not small talk. Or when a not so well known colleague grieves the loss of their dog, you respond with empathy from you own loss of fur family and the next time you see them on campus you hug.

For campus leaders who I coach and train, I call this strategy personalization which can give significant payoffs in ROI and ROR (Return on Relationships). The goal of digital leadership is deper relationships, and in order to do that we need to humanize you, give access to you and ensure you are relatable to a gen z teen or young adult or up to a boomer donor. 

I also find offering updates might be a form of accountability and reflection for me. Ok – so hear go’s. I loooooove a good list. So I’ve go 5 Status Updates for you.

  1. We got an RV!!! Okay quickly let me back up – especially if the podcast is the only way you’ve connected with me. Last summer (2021) Lloyd and I rented an RV for a month.  Part of this was just trying to find a COVID safe means to vacation, but RVing continued to come up as we dreamed about the future – and wanting what we called an “escape hatch” from Los Angeles. We went from LA to lake Taheo, up the california and oregon coast, through Washington, montana and then down through wyoming and Utah. Our marriage in tact and a new found love for RV’ing! We loved the experience – don’t get me wrong RVing is hard. We looked for a long time actually, but November of 2021 we finally found one that was actually way more fancy that we planned for. A 2021 JayCo Redhawk. She’s 28 feet and we’ve named her Lady Hawk and we’re taking her about again on a long trip this summer which I’ll talk about later. 
  2. I have an addiction. It is found in our guest bedroom. It has two wheels and I’ve thousands of miles on it – okay it’s Peloton. It arrived in August 2020 after being backordered for months and I just love it. If you are fellow peloton, find me on the leaderboard at JosieAndThePelo. Plus if you are in higher ed we’ve got a low key facebook group called #HigherEdRiders – where we’ve done some live rides together and challenges. I recently organized a group of us from a weekend long challenge call PeloFondo and I pulled of 75 miles. My knee is real pissed as me, but I’d do it again in a heartbeak.
  3. Reading. It took almost a full year since the start of the pandemic to pick up a book – and finish it. It actually took an RV trip where I forced myself not to work. It was like podcasting today, I just need to make space for it. I realized just how much I read when I was the bike or elliptical at the gym and well – I don’t even belong to a gym anymore, and may never again (see #2 above). Well, all – my latest book genre I am head over heels for? Romance. I’m not sure if I’m embarrassed or proud. I can get through these things in a day! Well probably without sleeping, but they have been fun. A couple I’ve really enjoyed are The Hating Game and In A New York Minute. So if you see me blushing reading a book, you know why lol.
  4. Life in my 40’s. So now that i’ve really exposed myself, I’m taking it a step further and sharing my age. I am full blown into my 40’s. 41 to be exact. Right before my 40th, I was given some beautiful advice from a mentor who said, do something just for you every month of your 40th – make it a year of Josie. And I did just that. Sure in 2021 I couldn’t do any or all the things, but I’ve actually extended this philosophy into 41 and throughout the entire decade. Time is a wild thing – it flies by – and if we’re not intentional it just keep floating by. As we sort out what it means to be alive, to be human, no matter the next COVID variety or global crisis – I’m carving out more energy for gratitude for what we do get to do – what we have. I can attend a concert. Get a second booster. Travel abroad. In my 40’s I want to be intentional with the time I’m gifted, whether for work or for adventures or for doing absolutely nothing. This is also what left me to my last status update. 
  5. Taking Time Off. (business coach Sundays, RV 3 weeks.). In 2021 I brought on a business coach. While I anticipate our intiatil work together would be to clean up my business operations, she actually had another route in store – and that was working on my business mindset. I had it in my mind, the more you work, the more successful you are. And especially if things are going great, you work harder. So you can imagine my galf when she gave me some of my earliest homework – take at least one day off per week. I negotiated and we started with everyother week. I know laughable – but I’m proud to share that not only am I talk off days weekly – last summer I took off multiple weeks and plan do so again this summer. We are going to explore colorado, camp with family in South Dakota and then route our way back through monta and well we still gott figure out the return actually. 

As I look at all of these status updates, the theme is creating space and ease. For my fellow workaholics, self-describers as being hard workering – hear it from me. You are enough. You are doing enough. You are good and not defined by the amount of hours or production you put out. Now you can see why the podcast was paused for so long. 

So y’all, thanks for joining me today. It’s so weird to sign off and not have an exact date, time, and location for all the next steps of the podcast. But I was just given too many signs that I needed to at least pop this episode into your feed today. I hope it was fun. It was fun for me. And that is a good sign. 

I’m sending digital hugs, loves, and waves – to whatever corner of the world you are listening from. This has been Josie and the Podcast.

About Josie

I’m Dr. Josie Ahlquist—a digital engagement and leadership consultant, researcher, educator, and author. I’m passionate about helping people and organizations find purposeful ways to connect, engage, and tell their unique story. I provide consulting, executive coaching, and training for campuses, companies, and organizations that want to learn how to humanize technology tools and build effective and authentic online communities.

My blog and podcast have been recognized by EdTech Magazine, Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education. My book, Digital Leadership in Higher Education, was published in 2020 and was listed as a #1 new release for college and university student life. I have been growing my consultancy since 2013 and am based in Los Angeles. When I’m not helping clients lead online, you might find me training for a triathlon, spoiling my nieces and nephews, or exploring with my husband and our rescue dogs in our new RV called Lady Hawk.

I’d love to connect! Find me on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

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