Who: Cliff Ravenscraft
Blog / Website: Podcast Answer Man
Do you worry that your message isn’t valuable enough?
Do you want to change the world? Of course you do.
In this episode, I’m on the line with Cliff Ravenscraft a.k.a the Podcast Answer Man and host of the Cliff Ravenscraft show. His podcast is devoted to helping you take your message, your business and your life to the next level. He started podcasting as a hobby way back in December 2005 and has since created more than 30 different shows and an amazing 3,300 podcast episodes. He has personally helped thousands of people launch extremely successful podcasts through one-on-one coaching, consulting and his Podcasting A to Z online training course.
I brought him on here to talk about how to sell high-priced products from your blog and then… we got a little derailed. Instead, we’re talking about how podcasts change the world, and I gotta tell you, I think you’re going to get a LOT of value out of this episode!
Cliff started our interview by talking about an Apple commercial from a while back, where Steve Jobs said something like, “only the crazy people think they can change the world, and they’re the ones that do.” So I had to know: does Cliff really think that he can change the world? He said, “I have already.”
To explain, he went all the way back to his first podcast, which started in December 2005.
He says that there are people who are married today who would never have met if they hadn’t listened to Cliff’s podcast. They listened to the show, they came to a meetup, and the rest is history. There are successful business partners who met the same way.
Cliff has done over 30 different podcast shows in the last 11 years, for a total of 3,600 episodes. On average, his episodes are 1 hour each. So that’s 3,600 hours of his voice out on the airwaves that people are listening to and being influenced by.
He’s done 9 years of podcast consulting and coached over 1,000 students one on one. He has had 580 students on his Podcasting A to Z group course. That’s almost 2,000 people who have paid for him to teach them how to podcast. And that’s not counting the 25,000 people have made use of free materials and launched a podcast.
So there are about 30,000 podcasters putting their content out there because of Cliff. He’s changing the world by enabling people to get their message out there.
But sometimes it’s smaller than that. Cliff says that even just sharing a smile can change the world, because if I can put a smile on your face today, and make you feel better about yourself, and you go out and create something like a podcast as a result of that good feeling instead of taking the day off, you might reach somebody who really needed to hear that content today.
Of those listening to this episode right now who want to build a podcast and don’t have one yet, Cliff estimates that at least 20 of them will learn to build a podcast from him over the next couple years. They will create content that will save people’s lives.
Now, as you know, my slogan here at Become a Blogger is “Changing the world one blog at a time,” so I was more than happy to dwell on changing the world instead of talking about how to make more money!
Here’s Cliff’s take-home message for you: “If you’re listening to this right now, and you’re holding back because you feel like you don’t have much to offer, you have been lied to.” As a Christian, Cliff believes we were all created for a purpose and that we all have extreme value in the world.
That doesn’t mean that every person out there has to have a blog or a podcast. We’re all uniquely gifted. But if you want to blog or podcast, then there’s no reason for you not to be out there doing it.
Whatever it is you want to do, whatever message you want to share, whatever industry, area, niche, or topic, you have a unique perspective to offer. It doesn’t matter if there are hundreds or thousands of other blogs or podcasts about that topic. Your lifetime of experience means that you will always bring something special to the table!
Cliff used an analogy to explain. If Cliff and I both read the same book, and we were both given the same podcast title, and we were both asked to give a podcast based on the same outline, Cliff guarantees that we would create vastly different podcast episodes. We would tell essentially the same story completely different ways because of our different life experiences.
But what if the thing you want to podcast about isn’t “life changing”? What if you want to talk about Legos? How does that change the world?
Cliff says it doesn’t matter. And he should know, because his first blog, back in December 2005, was a podcast about a TV show. Cliff and his wife, Stephanie, just talked about Lost on their podcast.
Now, Cliff will be the first to admit that he went into podcasting for all the wrong reasons. It was an ego thing in the beginning. You can search for Cliff’s podcast on iTunes and read the 1-star reviews. Cliff would say that he pretty much earned them all.
But did he change the world with that podcast? YES.
How does he know? His listeners have told him so.
For example, Anne from Germany had a traumatic life. She had attempted suicide as a teenager, and after that event she really withdrew from society and became a recluse. Watching TV was one of the only things she could do, and she loved Lost. Anne found Cliff and Stephanie's weekly Lost podcast, and she says that it changed her life.
She started meeting people through that community and, eventually, started travelling to meet people and coming to conferences. She went from never leaving her bedroom to crossing international borders just to meet new friends.
Cliff and Stephanie’s podcast inspired her to create a personal blog about her struggle with anorexia. She started blogging through her treatment experience. Lots of people told her that she should keep her experience private. But Anne knew that sharing her story would have a profound and positive impact on people’s lives. She has been in recovery ever since.
Eventually, Anne decided to create a podcast about anorexia. She signed up for Cliff’s Podcasting A to Z course, and launched FightingAnorexia.com. She started a community online for other people in recovery, and now she is changing people’s lives.
It’s an amazing story! So I ask Cliff, “What kinds of things can you do in a podcast to make that kind of impact possible?” Let’s say you really do want to podcast about Lego.
Cliff says that you have to start by figuring out why you want to talk about Legos. What does Lego mean to you? What does Lego spark inside you? What do you create with your Lego?
Your impact might be as simple as giving people the freedom to say, “Hey, it’s okay to have a hobby as an adult around Lego. There are others like me.”
It isn’t really about Lego at all. It’s about a shared passion. If you are deeply passionate about Lego, and there are other people out there who are also deeply passionate about Lego, and you build a relationship with those people, then you have the opportunity to have a positive impact in their lives.
Cliff gave an example: suppose that he meets a guy named Joe for the first time, in person, at an event, and they don’t know each other at all. Let’s say Joe works for Planned Parenthood, and he believes very differently from how Cliff believes. There’s already a barrier between them if they meet in that way, and they may not be able to get past it to find out what they have in common.
But what if Joe loves Lego, and Cliff meets him through a Lego community online? In that case, he gets to know Joe through their shared passion and build a relationship that way. And maybe, through interacting online, Cliff finds out that Joe lives close by, and they get together to build Lego and develop a wonderful friendship.
In that case, they would already have something in common and a strong connection before they found out that they had a difference of beliefs with regard to Joe’s job at Planned Parenthood. So they can be a positive influence in each others’ lives, and they can see what they have in common.
That all sounds great, but I want to know: what made Cliff’s podcast so effective in terms of having an impact on people’s lives?
Cliff says that he and Stephanie always brought their “humanness,” their day-to-day selves onto the show. You might think that you’re just a boring, average person, but Cliff and Stephanie found out that lots of people don’t think they’re boring at all!
You might be thinking to yourself, “Who am I to create a podcast? What makes me so special?” Your life experiences and your unique perspective make your message worth sharing.
Now, Cliff says he sometimes borders on narcissism too much, but maybe that’s because so many people have written in over the years to say that he’s special and has had an impact on their lives. From his religious point of view, he accepts that this is what God has put him on earth to do. And you can check out the testimonials on gspn.com/testimonials to hear some of what people have to say about Cliff and Stephanie.
Ultimately, Cliff’s a “regular person” just sharing his perspectives. Even if he’s “wrong” he’s still sharing his humanity with his audience, and that is really powerful. With the Lost podcast, he didn’t know all the ins and outs of how the show was created or what the writers intended. There were about 5 other Lost podcasts out there before Cliff’s, and he says that the quality of his content was a 2 out of 10 compared to the others. But people still wanted to listen to him and still felt connected to him.
Some people, myself included, can be a little bit uncomfortable with the message of embracing your purpose in life. Don’t we need to have humility about the gifts we have? Or does that only hold us back from fully expressing ourselves and being all that we can be?
Cliff struggled with this from a long time. If you want to know more about his journey in this respect, you can hear about it at podcastanswerman.com/380. He did a bit of a rant about it. The episode, “Are Podcasters Narcissists?”, was inspired by a commenter who said that he had “Narcissistic Personality Disorder”.
Sometimes Cliff gets so passionate and fired up that he crosses the line, and it comes across as arrogance. But anyone who knows “the real Cliff” knows that it’s genuine confidence, not arrogance behind his message.
So what’s the difference?
Arrogance is boastful, and overly proud. Arrogance is thinking that you did it all by yourself and didn’t have help from anyone. It’s the belief that you have not made too many mistakes, and that most of the time you make the right call. Cliff always acknowledges that he makes a lot of mistakes, gives credit where it’s due, and shares who inspired him and who taught him. He also knows that some of his success is down to luck, or being in the right place at the right time.
He also freely admits that he started podcasting for all the wrong reasons. He just wanted to get famous online when he started his Lost podcast. He was arrogant and boastful in the beginning, but he discovered his true calling and purpose through podcasting. What’s his purpose? It’s becoming a better version of himself every day and creating and promoting products and services that will help change the world.
This is something that I personally struggle with. Recently, I was talking to a friend about a service that I want to pitch to someone. And my friend kept insisting that I was charging too little for that service, and he started listing all of my accomplishments. He reminded me how much I’ve done for my clients. And I was so uncomfortable! I was pacing around the room and sweating…I just couldn’t handle it.
So I ask Cliff: is this something he struggles with, too?
He says that he used to, but he doesn’t now. When Cliff says that he has changed the world, he has proof. It’s not an exaggeration or a boast. People tell him that he’s changed their lives. Three people have said that they decided not to commit suicide because of Cliff’s podcasts.
And from a spiritual point of view, Cliff says, “I am not me; I am Christ in me.” He believes that what he has achieved in his life is through the power of Christ.
Regardless of your religious beliefs, we all have value to give to world, because we all have the ability to speak to one person. And when we help that one person, we change the world. And we enable them to go out and change the world.
Cliff used another example to help illustrate this point. He started talking about my son, Noah. Now, I’m really proud of Noah, and I love him very, very much. When Noah is struggling to accomplish something, of course I help him.
Sometimes, Noah really, really struggles to learn a new skill, and it takes a long time for him to “get it.” I help him every time, show him the right way to do it, and he gets better slowly but surely, with my help.
And when he finally can do it, he is so proud of what he has achieved. Cliff asked me: do you say to Noah, “No, you shouldn’t be proud of this. You should be giving me credit”? Well, of course I don’t. Do I think that my son is arrogant for being proud of his accomplishments? Obviously not!
So Cliff says, “Do you think you’re a better father than God?”
Of course I don’t.
Cliff had two final points to share in this episode:
1. Think about why you create whatever content you’re creating.
Look for the opportunity to create and establish relationships that would never happen otherwise. Start out from shared passions, because this is most effective way to establish a relationship. You have the ability to positively impact each other’s lives regardless of how much you don’t have in common.
2. You should start a podcast.
If you want a free course, check out Learn How to Podcast. It needs an update, but there’s still a lot of good content there, and it’s a great place to get started.
If you want to hear more from Cliff, you can listen to his podcast over on podcastanswerman.com.