Cliff Duvernois Entrepreneurs on Podcasting

What is the number one reason why podcasts go into podfade?  Cliff delves into the different types of perfectionism, how each of them negatively impacts entrepreneurs, and what we can do about it.

Topics we covered:

  • Why perfectionism is the root cause of pod fade
  • Staying true to your ideal client avatar and learning to say no
  • What happens to your business when you let go of perfectionism
  • Why sometimes, it’s the client that’s the problem and not you

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Select Links from the Episode:

Show Notes:

  • Just how many podcasts go into pod fade? (0:50)
  • Why do some podcasts take 10 hours and others 15 minutes to produce? (01:26)
  • Why you need to trust your gut instinct when assessing clients (02:40)
  • When you need to say no to clients (05:42)
  • What exactly is perfectionism? (09:00)
  • The shift that every entrepreneur struggles with and needs to address (10:29)
  • The framework of perfectionism according to scientists (11:35)
  • Why letting go of perfectionism can have surprising results (13:24)
  • The golden rule of running a business (14:13)
  • When does wanting to do a good job  become perfectionism? (15:38)
  • It’s not you, it’s them: sometimes, it’s the client’s fault (17:35)
  • What you need to focus on instead of the negativity (18:51)


Cliff Duvernois: Hello Everyone! And welcome back to you Entrepreneurs on Podcasting. This is episode number 20 with your host Cliff DuVernois. So what I want to do is I want to take this episode and probably episode 25 as well. And I want to talk a little bit about pod fade. What causes pod fade? 

Cliff Duvernois: Now I’ve said before in a number of interviews on this show, and I’m going to say it again and again and again, till I’m blue in the face 60 to 80% of podcast go into pod fade. Now it’s going to be no surprise when I tell you the average time to produce a podcast episode is 10 hours. If you know that it’s really not that hard to sit there and say to yourself, gee, I now understand why so many podcasts going to pod fade. Who has 10 hours to work on a 30 minute episode? Oh, I certainly don’t and I didn’t, and that’s why my podcast went into pod fade. But here’s the situation.

Cliff Duvernois: Here’s the deal for these 10 hours? Why is it taking so long? I mean, if you ever stopped to take a look at it and think about it, there’s some times where somebody can rip out an episode in 15 minutes. Why is it taking other people 10 hours to do? Well, the culprit, I believe in my heart of hearts is perfectionism.

Cliff Duvernois: That’s what it is in all of its various forms. So what I want to do is I want to share with you a little bit of a story that happened about two months ago. And what does revolves around is we had just launched our podcast production business. Now, if you’re not familiar with what podcast production is, what it is is for these entrepreneurs out there that have a podcast.

Cliff Duvernois: If they want to get back five or six hours of their time, they send me the episode. I turn it over to my team. And what we do is we edit the episode, make it sound awesome. We write show notes for it that are SEO friendly. We do transcriptions. We provide social media assets for it. The whole nine yards. Give it back to the entrepreneur and it is ready to go.

Cliff Duvernois: Right. So in exchange for, you know, a little bit of money. The entrepreneur now is now getting five to six hours of his life back every single week. So that’s what podcast production is. 

Cliff Duvernois: Now. I started working with this particular gentleman and just for the sake of this story, I’m going to call him Paul. Now, when I started talking with Paul and working with him and bringing him on board. At first, my gut said, you don’t want to deal with this guy. 

Cliff Duvernois: Have you ever had those situations where you’re talking to somebody and you’re thinking about doing business with them and you’re talking, talking, talking, and all of a sudden that those like little hairs on the back of your neck stand up and you’re like, gee, I don’t know if I really want to work with this person or not.

Cliff Duvernois: Well, I chose to overrode or override my gut, so to speak and actually work with him. Because, you know, there could be an opportunity for me to learn something from this experience. You know, maybe there’s a better way for me to do it. Maybe I could learn, a different strategy or a different tactic, right?

Cliff Duvernois: Because to me getting better is more important. So I said, you know what? Let’s just go ahead and do it. He gave me the episode. We went ahead and we did the show notes for it. Everything looked good. My team did a phenomenal job when I handed it back to. It was about a day later, he came back to me and said, okay, so I saw your show notes.

Cliff Duvernois: I critique them. I want you to review them and then reach out to me. And I thought, wow, this does not bode. Well, you know, who does this? Anyways, I went and I took a look at the show notes and I was stunned at the number of comments that he had made. Basically, my team and I had done a terrible job. Now I’m the first person on the planet that will actually tell you that if I do a horrible job, if somebody comes up to me and says, Hey cliff, this isn’t very good.

Cliff Duvernois: I’ll be, I’m the first person to own it. Jocko, Willink wrote Extreme Ownership. I have bought into that hook, line and sinker. If my team makes a mistake, it’s my fault. If I make a mistake, it’s my fault. I don’t blame other people. So immediately I apologize to Paul. And I say, man, I’m really sorry that we did really bad.

Cliff Duvernois: Let me review this with the team and I will get back to you. Well, before I pulled my team in on this, I decided to go through his notes in detail to find out exactly what it was that he was flagging and spending all these comments on. Because literally if you’ve ever seen any kind of like document tracking inside of Word, it puts these like little flags all over the screen.

Cliff Duvernois: They were everywhere. I was like, man, this is, this is just crazy. Well, some of them on there, admittedly, uh, like, so for instance, let’s say the name of his company was called black cave. So I would put black space cave. Well, come to find out black cave was meant to be one word.

Cliff Duvernois: I did not know that. But that’s okay. I can just do a find and replace. And every time that I see black space cave, I can just replace it with black cave, all one word. Not a big deal. But he did is he went through the entire document and flagged every single tiny incident of it. And I thought, holy smokes, who does this?

Cliff Duvernois: You know, who does he had the time to do this? Right. He hired us because he wanted to get time back. But yet here he is, he’s spending off. I was like, okay, you know, let that go, Cliff, let’s move on. But this is this next thing that I saw that caught my eye. That was like, you know what? We’ve got something here that’s going on.

Cliff Duvernois: There’s a major issue. There’s a major philosophical difference here. Now, this is exactly what part of the show note says, right? We pull quotes out of the actual interview. So that our client can use that to create social media images if they want, or if they want to create audiograms, whatever it is, or we do that for them.

Cliff Duvernois: But we pull out, pull quotes for them. Typically about four every single episode, something phenomenal that was said in that interview that would get people’s attention. Now in the interview he actually said, companies need to reduce friction between themselves and their customers in order to make it easy for customers to be able to buy their products.

Cliff Duvernois: Right. That’s uh, that’s, that’s exactly what he said. Now, my team and going through and creating these show notes, saw that and said, you know, that’s a very powerful quote. So they put that up at the top of the page. Well he flagged that. And on his note off to the side, what I read completely shocked me. I had to actually read it twice.

Cliff Duvernois: He flagged the word friction and said, people might think this has a sexual connotation to it. Now just think about that for a second. And I’m, I was just lost. Completely lost. And so when he, and I actually had a conversation and we talked about it and I said, by the way, I’ve got some questions here. Because there was other things that he had pointed out in the document, but this was the one that I really wanted to talk to him about.

Cliff Duvernois: And I showed him in the document. I said, you do realize that you said this in the interview. He said, yeah. But if people listening to it, they’re going to hear it in context. So they won’t think that way. But if you see it as a pull quote, people are going to think that it has a sexual connotation to it. 

Cliff Duvernois: I was floored.

Cliff Duvernois: Absolutely floored. Now, maybe this is because I’m naive, right? Cause this whole conversation, when I look and I see the sentence and it says, you know, companies need to reduce friction between themselves and their customers I’m not thinking about it and in some kind of a sexual connotation at all. But you know what, maybe I’m wrong.

Cliff Duvernois: Right? Maybe the world doesn’t think like Cliff does, right. Maybe I’ve just got this pie in the sky, nice. Everything is, roses and days. So I went out to two women that I know they don’t know each other at all. Both of them very strong into, you know, women’s rights and, supporting women.

Cliff Duvernois: And actually one of them deals with women that have been in abusive relationships. And I actually gave them this sentence, just that sentence. I didn’t give them, didn’t send them the whole podcast. I didn’t send him the whole script. I just sent them the one sentence. And I said, would you please tell me what this means?

Cliff Duvernois: And they both came back to me. Their answers were almost identical. Companies need to make it easier for people to be able to give them money. That’s what they said. That’s what they, that’s what they both came back with. And so then I asked the question, very pointedly. I said, does this have a sexual connotation?

Cliff Duvernois: And both of them, both of them looked at me like I was some kind of a two headed alien, like Where in the world would you possibly get that idea? But that’s when I realized that his comment about going through there and like the whole time that he had spent, make sure that he flagged every little gap between black and cave was because of he’s a perfectionist. 

Cliff Duvernois: Now, before we go on, before we start moving through this conversation, I actually want to take a second to actually define what a perfectionist is or what perfectionism is. To do that, I’m going to turn to my good buddy and pal Brené Brown. She’s a New York times bestselling author per TEDx talk on YouTube has been seen like eleventy billion times. She’s crazy popular. I love her stuff. Here’s what she said about perfectionism.

Brene Brown: When, when perfectionism is driving, shame is always riding shotgun. We struggle with perfectionism in areas where we feel most vulnerable to shame. Perfectionism what is that? I call it the 20 ton shield. Here’s what perfectionism really is. It’s a way of thinking that says this if I look perfect, live perfect, work perfect, I can avoid or minimize criticism, blame and ridicule. 

Cliff Duvernois: So perfectionism is stemmed from the fact that we are worried about what other people are going to think or what they might think. So what we do then is we set these impossibly high standards because we’re afraid of what people might think. 

Cliff Duvernois: And this is exactly what Paul was doing. Because he was afraid that somebody might think that friction had some kind of a sexual connotation to it, right? This is what perfectionism is now. I get it. I’m a recovering engineer. Making mistakes as something that was beat out of me when I went to college. Actually there’s a course that every engineer has to take. That’s called “Perfectionism 1 0 1”.

Cliff Duvernois: But when I switched over to becoming an entrepreneur, it was so hard to let that go. Perfectionism thinks that, wanted everything to be perfect that went out into the world. But, you know, It’s a basic common fact. And if you’re listening to this, you know, it’s true. You’re going to start shaking your head. 

Cliff Duvernois: People aren’t perfect. I’m not perfect. I have spent the last 10 years, being an entrepreneur, trying to understand people. And I understand people aren’t perfect. So even though I might be an engineer or a recovering engineer, I also recognize the fact that I’m human and I am not perfect. But I would have to tell you right now that I would be lying.

Cliff Duvernois: If I didn’t say that I fought my perfectionism on a daily basis. But it doesn’t run my life. So now as I’m going through and I’m trying to understand perfectionism better and what causes it, right? What are the symptoms of it and what can we do to get better of it? I was actually surprised to learn that there are different levels of perfectionism. Like a perfectionist studied perfectionism, right?

Cliff Duvernois: We have to come up with multiple levels. Well, Hank Green, who is the host of the popular YouTube channel called the SciShow psych. Here’s what he had to say about perfectionism.

Hank Green: One common framework scientists use to study perfectionism, divides it into three different dimensions: self-oriented, socially prescribed, and other oriented. Self-oriented perfectionism is maybe the most well-known kind. It means that you have an unattainably high standard for yourself and get frustrated if you don’t meet it. 

Hank Green: Socially prescribed perfectionism is similar, but it’s what happens when that high standard is coming from your friends and family.

Hank Green: In other words, you are more worried about letting them down than yourself. 

Hank Green: So the third kind of perfectionism in this framework is called others oriented. And while it’s a little different, it is still not good for you. It’s where someone applies their unattainably high standard to everyone around them instead of themselves.

Cliff Duvernois: So let’s break that down a little bit. So I go, you know, I’m a recovering engineer. I have perfectionism to the extreme. We decided that we’re going to launch podcast production as a business. 

Cliff Duvernois: Now I already understand in my heart of hearts that I can’t do show notes perfectly. There is no format to it. There’s no adopted universal way that says this is how you do show notes. Basically, everybody makes it up on their own. What I do is I do what an engineer does is I went out and I studied the top podcasts that were out there. How are they doing their show notes? Right. Put that together, developed the process at it. I was like, you know what? I’m actually pretty good at this. 

Cliff Duvernois: Then I went back and I trained my team on how to do that. My entire intent, my entire goal, my expectation of the team was I wanted them to be at least 80% of what I could do. I know they couldn’t do the job that I could. I just knew that they couldn’t.

Cliff Duvernois: But my goal was that if I can get them to be 80% as good as what I could do, then we would have a solid product. We would have a solid service to go out there. People would be happy with their results. 

Cliff Duvernois: Well, needless to say, my team didn’t hit 80%. It was more like 120%. They were way better than what I was, you know, their use of vocabulary. And when they put the notes together, everything else was just so much richer than I do, which is crazy. Cause I’m actually a writer. But you see, this is, this is what happens when you give people the opportunity to impress you. Yeah, I didn’t set unrealistic expectations on them. I did not micromanage every little tiny thing that they did.

Cliff Duvernois: I just said, here you go. Here’s the process. Figure it out. But isn’t this the reason why entrepreneurs, this is reason why we hire people, right? Cause they’ve got skills that we don’t have. They’ve got talents that we don’t have because their skills compliment our own. And they’re better at certain things than we are in nine times out of 10, they can do it faster than what we can, but that’s why we hire them.

Cliff Duvernois: Many moons ago, I was a cog in a wheel and I hated it. And I remember saying to myself, you know, what, if I ever run a business, I don’t want my employees to feel like they’re cogs in a wheel. Never want that to happen. I want to give them, have plenty of opportunities to shine in every single time that I do that, man, my team always comes back and impresses me.

Cliff Duvernois: Now, the one thing is, is when we talk about these three levels of perfectionism, I’ll totally admit I’m self orientated, right? That’s my perfectionism, because it’s what I demand of myself. But at the same point in time, I don’t have other orientation, meaning I don’t project my perfectionism onto other people and expect them to be perfect. Because I know they can’t be perfect.

Cliff Duvernois: Right. They’re humans. This is what we do. Now for Paul, he actually had enough self-awareness that he knew that he could not be a perfectionist in writing show notes because it was consuming too much of his time. Because perfectionism is not sustainable. But his thinking was that, you know what?

Cliff Duvernois: I don’t have time to do a perfectly, so I’m going to hire someone else to do it perfectly. Right. He went from being self orientated to be an other orientated. I am going to project my perfectionism onto other people. And that is just not a good recipe for success. 

Cliff Duvernois: Now, somebody could be listening to this podcast right now and they could be saying, well, Cliff, he just wanted you to do a good job.

Cliff Duvernois: He just wants excellence from you and everything that you do. And you know what? I totally get that. But there’s a fine line between doing a good job and being a perfectionist. So for this argument here, I’m going to ask Berné to come back in and share some more knowledge with us.

Brene Brown: Here’s the difference because sometimes I’m a healthy striver. And sometimes I’m a perfectionist. It depends on if I’m feeling, if I’ve got a worthiness crutch going on. So healthy striving is internally focused. It’s I want to do this and be the best I can be.

Brene Brown: Perfectionism is not about what I want. Its perfectionism is exactly what will people think. 

Cliff Duvernois: Now remember what we were talking about before, right. Paul was just obsessed because people might think that that word friction had a sexual connotation to it. Right. He was so focused on what people might think. This is a clear sign of perfectionism. It’s not healthy striving is perfectionism. And if you think about it, right, when you start thinking about all the vocabulary we have out there, anything could have some kind of, a dirty connotation to it.

Cliff Duvernois: Right. If I’m watching baseball on TV and I’m like, oh, that dude just made it the third base. Oops, sorry. Can’t say that it’s a negative connotation. Oh, I went outside. Mowed the grass today. Boom, sorry. Negative connotation on that too. Wrong answer. I don’t have time to sit there and look at every single word and wonder how many different ways people are going to interpret that word.

Cliff Duvernois: Right. I assume that when people are reading it, they’re coming to it with a certain mindset and that’s how they interpret it. So now with regards to the podcast production thing and what is going on in the process and everything else like that, at some point in time, I told Paul, I said, you know what? My best advice for you would be for you to hire an employee.

Cliff Duvernois: Don’t contract it out. Hire an employee that you could train yourself to follow your processes and your system to make sure that you can do it perfectly. 

Cliff Duvernois: But I can tell you this the very next day after we let Paul go, I onboarded a client. We did their episode. We did what I w what we do. I edited the audio, made it sound incredible. Got an awesome show notes. Put the whole package together, sent it over to him.

Cliff Duvernois: And I was 110% confident that we had hit the mark. And you know what? That client came back to us and he said, quote, Cliff, this is awesome. Can you do this for another podcast that we’re producing? 

Cliff Duvernois: And my answer: Why yes, we can. Because you see the thing is I don’t want to spend my time out there trying to make people happy that I know that I cannot make happy.

Cliff Duvernois: This was the gut feeling that I had at the very beginning of this entire adventure. I knew I wasn’t going to make him happy just by the way he was talking just by the way he was sounding. Cause he was going to be a perfectionist and you can’t make perfectionist happy because perfectionists are never happy with themselves. And that they can’t make themselves happy how am I supposed to make them? 

Cliff Duvernois: There are literally 10,000 potential customers out there for me. Why spend my time on the one that I can never make happy? He’s clearly not my people. I mean, one thing I have espoused throughout all these podcast episodes, and I’ve talked in various other episodes is truly understanding who your ideal customer avatar is.

Cliff Duvernois: And when I go and I look at my customer avatar, even I re-read it before I jumped on this podcast here to record. Nowhere in there does it say that my ideal customer avatar is a perfectionist. But you know what? My, my, uh, ICA really cares about? They care about results. That’s what they care about. That is my type of people.

Cliff Duvernois: They’re focused on the results. The end results. Am I getting the results that you promised me that I am paying for? I’m not paying for perfection. I’m paying for results. You know why? Because perfectionism doesn’t pay the bills. Results do. And that’s what we provide

Cliff Duvernois: Ladies and gentlemen. Thank you once again for listening to this episode and we will catch you in the next episode. Cheers.