Holy crap! It's been a year since this podcast started. This episode is a bit of a recap and a look ahead, with a good message about serving something bigger than yourself.
Today is another solo episode. Just me and a few thoughts. It was about a year ago that I released the first episode of this podcast. When I started the podcast, I had the goal of helping veterans, their family members, and the military community as a whole share their stories, find resources to services that can help them, and just provide a sense of hope to those people so that they know they’re not alone.
I remember when I first started recording, I was really unsure of myself. I had been a guest on podcasts before, but I never had to do anything more than show up and answer a few questions. I quickly realized that hosting a podcast was an entirely different beast.
I was so unsure of myself that I didn’t tell anyone that I was doing a podcast except for my wife until probably around the 6th or 7th episode. Actually, my wife was my first guest on the show, so I could share her story and get used to interviewing someone. I figured it would be easier to do an interview with someone I spoke to every day. The next 9 interviews were all friends that I had comfortable conversations with in the past too, so it made it a little easier to have that conversation. It wasn’t until episode 21 where I interviewed someone who I’d never met before.
Before I started I had this cheap microphone, which was better than the built in microphone on my computer, but it still sounded like crap. So I spent a little money on a better microphone to make the episodes sound a little better. I didn’t really know much about microphones - I still don’t really. I did a little research, and found out what some other friends who have podcasts use, and found out that there is a lot to learn about microphones. It got really overwhelming actually. Eventually I just pulled the trigger on something that had decent ratings and wasn’t too expensive. I figured if I analyzed all the options, it would take forever and I’d probably never start recording.
Then, since most of my interviews are done remotely, I had to figure out what recording software was the best to use. I started off with a service called Zencastr, then moved to Clearcast, then eventually I ended up using Zoom, which I still use now.
So, when I started using Zencastr I was initially drawn to it because they had a free plan. Since I don’t make any money off the podcast, free is a great price to pay. That is until I was recording episode 15 with my friend Cory Miller. I realized after recording that free is a very expensive price to pay sometimes. I ended up getting through the entire half hour or 45 minute recording with him, and found that it recorded all of my side of the interview, but only about 10 minutes of his side. I was extremely embarrassed.
At that point I had two options. One, just write the interview off and never publish an episode with Cory. This would have left him confused about why he spent an hour talking to me and I never released anything. He probably would have been put off a bit too by that. Like, what I wasn’t good enough to be on your show? Did I say something wrong? Actually, I know Cory. He wouldn’t have an attitude about it at all, he’s a great guy. But regardless, that wouldn’t have been the right thing to do. Instead, I decided to reach out to Cory and explain the situation. The technology screwed up, but ultimately it was my fault. I skimped on the recording software that we used, so I apologized to him, and asked if we could re-record the interview using a different software. This time we would use Clearcast. It was a paid service, and I know several other podcasters who use it with no real problems, so I was confident it would capture everything this time around. Cory was really understanding, and since we both work in technology, he understood that technology sucks and fails us from time to time.
Eventually, like I mentioned I ended up switching to use Zoom. That was only so I could get to see the guest that I was interviewing. Zencastr and Clearcast both are audio only, so I never got to see the first dozen or so guests. I found that it’s a lot easier to talk with people when you can see their face. Their facial expressions and body language make it much easier to talk with someone. And that’s a two way street. Them getting to see me and my body language is helpful for the conversation too. Plus, I have some hearing issues, and I’ve learned to read lips to some extent. I use that to help fill the gaps in words that I might miss out on, so I quickly learned that having video was a must have for these interviews. Zoom may not be the absolute top tier as far as sound quality goes, but it’s flexible and gets the job done so I’m sticking with it for now. At least until something better comes around.
Oh, yea, and then I had to figure out how to edit the episodes. There are all sorts of computer programs that let you edit audio files. I never used any of those before, so I had to figure that out too.
I know by now you’re probably thinking what’s the point of all this back story?
The point is that about a year ago I discovered a purpose that was bigger than me. I’m not doing this podcast to become the next Joe Rogan, who just signed something like a $100 million deal with Spotify. I’m not looking to get rich off of the podcast. I mean, if it happens as a happy consequence of doing it, great, but that’s not what’s motivating me. This isn’t about me. It’s about you, the veterans, the military families, the Gold Star Families, the wounded, the recently separated vets who are struggling to figure out that “what’s next” step. I’m doing it for you.
In a way it’s sort of selfish. I heard about way too many vets who joined the 22 a day by taking their own life after returning from deployment, or getting off of active duty. I knew people were doing things to prevent this, but it obviously wasn’t enough. I felt like I needed to do something to help give hope to those who might be feeling hopeless. Even if they weren’t suicidal, they might be unnecessarily struggling with something, and if I could help point them in the right direction, or give them a glimmer of hope I felt like I should at least give it a try.
So, I started on a journey to do something that I knew very little about. And it was a little scary, but at the same time it was sort of exciting.
I always enjoyed seeing something come from nothing. Creating something that previously didn’t exist. When I was in college, I learned how to build websites, and the coolest thing to me was going from a blank page, to a fully functional website. I think it gave me a sense of pride that I created this thing. I sort of feel the same way with the podcast episodes that I put out. Before I hit record, there’s nothing. Maybe I have a few questions jotted down for my guests, but questions with no answers are worthless on a medium like a podcast. So, each episode I release gives me a sense of pride knowing that I’m working towards something bigger than myself. It’s scary, but it’s rewarding all at the same time.
The first episode came out on June 10th 2019. Just about a year ago. Ever since then I consistently released an episode every Tuesday since then. I used to do a series of YouTube videos with advice that I learned from my military service. I did it consistently too for a few months, but then decided to take a couple weeks off around Christmas a couple years ago. I have never made another video since then. I know that if I go and take a week off here or there, I run the risk of never releasing another episode on this podcast. I think about the people who might be clinging onto some little bit of hope. Someone who may have discovered some resource through this podcast, and I tell myself that I can’t quit. Even taking one week off is unacceptable to me. Some weeks I didn’t have any guest content to put out, so I’ll record an episode, like this one. I try to find something to talk about. Something relevant to discuss so that I keep this train rolling.
A couple months ago I did some episodes on the COVID-19 situation. I knew there were some people who don’t do well when they’re isolated, and I wanted to provide some comfort, some hope to those that might have been listening. It turns out, unfortunately that I was right. At the beginning of May, a Marine veteran was suffering from some of the mental injuries of combat and the shelter in place order added to his suffering. So much so that he decided to take his own life. Hearing about that Marine hurt. I wished that I could rewind time and reach out. I didn’t know him, but the last thing I want to have happen is have someone get so desperate that they use a permanent solution to solve a temporary problem.
I’m doing this consistently so that I don’t hang up the microphone, so to speak. So that I continue pushing out episodes. Don’t get me wrong, there are some days where I sit down to edit an episode and I just don’t want to do it. It sucks sometimes. But after seeing the episode get released, I’m re-energized and I want to do more.
In the last year I had the privilege of speaking with veterans over 54 episodes from every branch of the military with the exception of the Space Force and Coast Guard, as well as about a dozen civilians. I’ll give the Space Force a pass here, because they weren’t even a branch in the military when the podcast first started, but what the hell Coast Guard? You don’t have anything to say? If you’re in the Coast Guard, or were in and have an interesting story reach out. Same goes for the Space Force and all the other branches.
As we enter the second year of this podcast, I don’t want to call it seasons, because I feel like those are somewhat arbitrary. I don’t know. I’m using years, because, well, it’s been a year since I started this. Next episode will be in year 2, I guess. Anyway, as we enter the second year, I want to hear from more vets with interesting and inspiring stories. Maybe you were wounded and struggled coming to terms with the life altering consequences of the injury. Maybe you lost a friend or a loved one. Let’s talk about them. I don’t want to let anyone’s memory fade away. If we can chat for a bit about the type of person they were, let’s do it. I want to talk with people who are doing incredible things for veterans. I had a conversation with another vet the other day and he and I have a similar objective with helping veterans. I don’t see him as competition, and he didn’t see me that way either. The way I see it is that if he is successful, so am I. My only goal is to help veterans. If I can help someone else help veterans, then that’s a success. If whatever we do makes veterans better off then I’m jumping on board.
I also. You know what, I wasn’t even sure I was going to do this today, but screw it let’s do it. I also have quietly been writing a book. It’s a bit of a military history, talking about my time in the military, my deployment, and losing my brother overseas. It’s also partially a self help book. I talk about what it’s like to be dealt with some heavy blows, and coming to a crossroads of sorts, where you can choose to go down a dark path. Being angry at the world, snapping over little things, falling into drugs or alcohol as coping mechanisms. Or, you can choose to live your life to the fullest. Choose to find happiness. See the good in things, even in terrible situations. This book is something that I started writing years ago. I really didn’t know what I wanted to write back then, so I just kept a journal of important information. Facts, conversations, key dates, places I had been, and things like that. I figured if I ever were to write a book, all of that information would be very useful and as time goes on memories fade. I figured the closer to those events that I was the more likely I’d be able to remember them accurately. I could craft a story around that information later.
Again though, this book is more than just me telling a story. I’m writing it for a few reasons. First is to provide my kids and my family with a little insight into what my military service was like. My kids are probably a little too young to really understand it now, but it’ll be something nice to give them when they get older. Second though is to help others who might be struggling with something similar as me. Going through the grief after the loss of a loved one, especially when you don’t really get the chance to grieve properly is difficult. The book gives some insight into the struggles I faced, what I did to overcome them, and how I got to where I am today.
With all that said, I’m going to start seeking out publishers in the near future here, and it would really help me a lot if I could get some help from you listeners. First, if you’re not already give the podcast a follow on social media and the email mailing list. If you can follow Drive On Podcast on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, that would be huge. For the email list, go to driveonpodcast.com/subscribe there is a signup form on the bottom of the page. What’s in it for you if you subscribe? Well, like I’ve done all along I always share new episodes to the email list and social media accounts, so you’ll always know about new episodes that way. Once when I have more information about the book though I’ll also be releasing it on those platforms. As it comes closer to the release date for the book, I may have some special offers for followers too. I don’t really know what’s going to be possible with all that based on the contract I end up with through the publisher, so I don’t want to over promise anything. It also helps me out a lot, because publishers want to see a strong following.
I’ll probably do another episode in the coming months when I know more about the release date, and drop some teasers about it.
But that’s it for this episode. The lesson? I guess it’s to do something that serves someone or something bigger than yourself. It might be scary to put yourself out there, to do something you maybe haven’t ever done before, but do it anyway. You might surprise yourself and find out that you like it.