The Self-Made Expert Podcast Guest Prep

First, thank you so much for taking some time to guest on my new podcast, The Self-Made Expert.

This podcast is me doing research in public both for the benefit of my audience–largely self-employed professionals who want to become consultants–and to collect data and stories for a book on self-made expertise that I will write and publish some time in 2020/2021.

I’ve asked you for an interview because I believe you have something valuable to say about your own experience cultivating self-made expertise. Such expertise is generally cultivated without the help of a formal curriculum or professional standards body, and it has relevance and value to some audience or cohort of buyers.

Interview Prep

I think the best way to help you prepare for our interview is to 1) expose you to my thesis about self-made expertise, because that will drive a lot of my questions and 2) encourage you to use your own experience and story to poke holes in my thesis, because that will make for a more interesting interview (and a better future version of my thesis). 🙂

My Thesis

Self-made experts seek overlaps between impact and risk in the world of business. They take financial and social risks as they use specialization, self-directed learning, and self-directed research to create valuable expertise, and they share what they’ve learned generously and frequently to create a platform that attracts opportunity for consulting, publishing, and speaking.

Helpful questions

Reflecting on the following questions may help you prepare for our interview:

  1. How did you first become interested in your area of expertise?
    1. What specific things about it interested you?
    2. How did you become aware of it in the first place?
  2. How did you cultivate your self-made expertise?
    1. What forms of learning did you pursue?
    2. What forms of research did you pursue?
    3. What market signals did you look for or pay attention to in deciding what kind of expertise to cultivate?
  3. What risks, fears, or other obstacles did you face in your pursuit of self-made expertise?
    1. Were there inflection points where you seized an opportunity or took advantage of a moment?
    2. Were there dry spells when you had to be patient, persist, or be exceptionally self-motivated to get to someplace important?
  4. How did you find a paying market or client base for your self-made expertise?
    1. What were the leading and lagging indicators that you were really onto something?

I may not ask these questions verbatim during our interview (it’s a pretty conversational interview), but if you can answer these questions you’ll be well-prepared for those I do ask you during our conversation.

Podcasting Tech Prep

I want you to sound good during our interview.

70% of that is you just being yourself, and 30% is good sound quality. Here’s how to get good sound quality.


One of the simplest things is to make sure you’re in a location with little or no background noise during our interview.

We’ll speak using Zoom, which is like Skype but better. We’ll use audio only during the call, not video. Zoom’s software can run on a desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone, which means you might have a lot of flexibility about where you are during our interview. Try to be in the quietest place available to you with no interruptions if possible.

If you have two or more quiet locations available to you, then choose the one that has the least echo. For example, choose a carpeted spare bedroom instead of a room with tile or hardwood floors.


Zoom connects us using the Internet, so wherever you are for our interview, try to make sure it has a reliable, fast internet connection. If you can watch HD videos from Netflix or Youtube without any lags, it’s probably a fast enough connection.

Zoom also lets you dial in via a phone connection, so we can use this method if necessary or as a backup.


If you have a quiet location with a good internet connection, you’re 90% of the way there to sounding great!

The other 10% is to use a headset instead of your computer’s built-in microphone and speakers. A headset like the one that comes with almost every smartphone will work fine.

If you want to sound double-good while looking like you work in a call center, you can use one of these two specific headsets:

  1. (this works natively with laptop or desktop computers, but with a tablet or smartphone you’ll need an adapter, like this one for Apple lightning connector devices.)

If you want to sound triple-good, you can use an external microphone. The best budget microphone for podcasting is the Audio Technica ATR-2100. It’s simple, sounds great for the money, and works with almost any computer out there. Amazon usually has plenty in stock with fast shipping. If you buy the ATR-2100 for our interview, you’ll sound best if you place it about 2 to 3 inches away from your mouth. It comes with a tiny little tripod, and so to get the microphone in the right place, you could use a stack of books under that little tiny tripod so the mic is 2 to 3″ from your mouth.


Finally, you’ll need just one piece of software for our interview, which is Cleanfeed. It’s free and easy to use and — since it runs in the Chrome browser — requires no installation.

Testing Cleanfeed

I’ve had a few podcast recordings where my guest had technical difficulties. Depending on how you perform under stress, this may effect your ability to really shine as a guest. Why not take 5 minutes and make sure this doesn’t happen to you!?

Please do the following before our interview:

1. Attach your headset or microphone to the exact computer you will use when you guest on my podcast. Tell the computer to use the headset or microphone as your default audio device.

2. In the Chrome browser, navigate to

3. Click the orange Get Started button at the top right

4. Fill out the form you’re presented with and submit it

5. You’ll move to a screen that looks something like this:

- Experiential marketing learning for independent consultants

6. Next, tap sharply several times on the microphone you are using (either the headset or the ATR-2100 or your sweet pro podcasting microphone). You should see the level meter jump up a lot with each tap. (Here’s the level meter: If you do not see this happen, make sure your microphone is plugged in and selected. If this doesn’t work correctly during testing, it won’t magically start working when we record, so please contact me and we’ll schedule a quick emergency troubleshooting session before we record. Again, it’s ideal if you don’t have unnecessary stress on you right before I interview you, so no matter how busy or important you are, I want to make sure your equipment works before we record. Please take the time to do this testing and — if necessary — troubleshooting with me.

7. If everything works well, close the Cleanfeed tab in Chrome.