When I began podcasting five years ago, I didn't know any of the people that I know now.
I admired some of those people from afar, as I enjoyed their work, but they didn't know me.
At the time, I was working in the banking industry, largely because that's where I landed after college. I was a keen observer of Apple products — and the technology industry at large — and had tried my hand at blogging, but I'm a very slow writer. (This is my third attempt at this article, after throwing out the previous two.) So, that never stuck.
But podcasting is different: It's a medium a lot more suited to how I think.
I started my first podcast in 2011 and began to acquaint myself with various people I'd previously admired: Some, I interviewed; others, I discovered, were themselves fans of the shows I was creating. Many of these connections enabled various business opportunities that have gotten me to where I am today — co-founder of the podcast network Relay FM — but others blossomed into genuinely wonderful friendships.
I live in London, England. So while I do make infrequent trips to the States for various conferences to keep up relationships, it means I only get to see my best friends in person for a small handful of weeks every year. But the internet and communication mediums like Skype and Slack keep me connected to them far better than I have ever been connected to people in the real world.
In 2016, I feel richer with great relationships than ever before, even though running my own business has drastically reduced the time I have for local friendships. In becoming a full-time, independent podcaster, I spent almost every evening — and a big chunk of my weekends — working on, recording, and producing shows. I do not regret this, as it was the choice that I made to allow me to acheive my dream, but over time, it significantly reduced the amount of people I could keep in touch with at home; the friends I made at school, likewise, were whittled down to the select few I keep in touch with today.
As the amount of socialising I was available for in London decreased, my online socialising grew exponentially. Every day, I'd have hours of Skype calls with my co-hosts, all of whom are close friends. We'd chat about the same things that we might otherwise chat about even in the same room: We debate about Apple, technology at large, our feelings, and even pens. These are the conversations I'd love to have with local buddies, and what's more, we get to have these conversations with thousands of people listening and commenting, creating an even bigger discussion pool.
One of the most important things for my business and communications is Slack: All of our hosts are in the Relay FM channel, and over the last year it has become my favourite thing on the Internet. We have a General chat room where everyone shares the things they're excited about; we've gotten pretty emotional at times as we all share thoughts and feelings about our lives and about our work. Slack has definitely brought me closer to the people I work with, as well as being an incredibly important tool for me to plan out show topics with my co-hosts.
For me, friendship is a very important part of doing business. It's one of the key things that we build Relay FM on: I like us to feel that we are all a part of a family, and quite frankly, the devices that we use help us to enable that feeling. The fact that we have computers in our pockets now — on our person at all times — means that we are all just a tap away from each other. And since we have hosts who live all over the world, there's someone online at practically any time of the day or night. That's powerful, and that's why I love my Apple devices. They not only help me do my work in a practical sense; they also help me stay connected to the people that are most important in my life.
My iPhone, iPad and Mac help me send invoices, they help me plan out our sponsorship calendar, they help me schedule all of our show recording times, and they help me stay connected with listeners over email and Twitter. But most importantly, they help me talk to my friends, many of whom are thousands of miles away. My life is richer because of them — and that's a fact.