Episode 32: Isaac on the Tom Woods Show, Discussing Praxis and Creating Alternative Experiences

Tom Woods brings me on his show to talk about Praxis and the road from theory to practice through creating alternative experiences for people here and now. We talk about what makes a successful Praxis applicant and how to figure out which path is right for you. Tom is a historian, author, Senior Fellow at the Mises Institute and a popular podcaster.

Check out tomwoods.com to learn more.

This and all episodes are available on SoundCloud, iTunes, and Stitcher.

Episode 31: Is It OK to Sell Your Kidney? Your Child? Your Vote? James Stacey Taylor Says Yes

Are there things that shouldn’t be paired with money?

James Stacey Taylor and I discuss controversial philosophical questions concerning adoption, organs, votes and even personal identity. We look at best and worst case scenarios and how allowing markets would compare to the world we have today.

James is a philosopher, author and Associate Professor at the College of New Jersey. You can find out more about him here.

This and all episodes are available on SoundCloud, iTunes, and Stitcher.

Ask Isaac: Things I’ve Learned, Craft Beer, Time Management, Future Goals, and ‘General Ed’ for Kids

First, a big shout-out to the podcast production intern Lav Kozakijevic!  Lav has been doing great work on editing, show notes, and a variety of other things.  He already makes me and the show better, and he just got started.

Today I take several audience questions, submitted via palmet.to/ask-isaac.  (Oh, and I realized I totally forgot to answer the one about my favorite craft beer.  It’s Bells.)

Today’s questions:

  • Lessons from running Praxis?
  • Do you believe the craft beer industry is in a bubble at the moment that will soon pop, and what do you think will happen if it is? Also, what is your favorite brewery?
  • How do you manage having so many children and running a business, writing, speaking, etc?
  • Challenges as an unschooling father?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Is it valuable to think in those terms?
  • To what extent is “general ed” valuable? Is any common educational structure at the early ages a good thing, and if it is, what does that look like?

This and all episodes are available on SoundCloud, iTunes, and Stitcher.

Episode 30: Penelope Trunk on Startups, Being a Brand, Homeschooling, and Career Trends

Author and blogger on careers, entrepreneurship, and education, as well as founder of four companies, Penelope Trunk joins me to talk about her past and current projects. We talk about writing, unschooling, startup mentality, trends in career development, and how to be honest with yourself when it comes to your future. Her latest startup provides online courses that help people manage their careers.

Check out her stuff here.

And her new startup Quistic here.

This and all episodes are available on SoundCloud, iTunes, and Stitcher.

Ask Isaac: College, Books, Startups, and Unschooling Challenges

I take some great questions submitted via the website:

  • You went to college — when and how did you decide it wasn’t the best path for most people?
  • Reading list for someone who is interested both in philosophy and business?
  • Do you think startup is becoming a buzzword? Would it be better to just create a business?
  • Challenges you face as an unschooling parent? Surprises?

This and all episodes are also available on SoundCloud, iTunes, and Stitcher.

Episode 29: Chris Nelson on Superhero Movies

Why have superhero movies gotten so good in recent years? How has Marvel managed to bring the genre to a mass audience while keeping comic purists (mostly) happy? Where is the trend going?

My good friend and comic book aficionado Chris Nelson comes back to the show to discuss these weighty matters.

This and all episodes are available on SoundCloud, iTunes, and Stitcher.

Episode 27: Michael Gibson on Leaving Academia to Pursue Ideas

Michael Gibson was pursuing a PhD in philosophy when it struck him that the really big ideas weren’t being advanced within the walls of academia. He left, got into the tech world, and found himself running investor Peter Thiel’s fellowship program for young college droupouts. He’s recently co-founded his own venture capital fund to support young people who want to work on big ideas outside of the classroom.

We discuss his love of literature and philosophy, how he wound up in Silicon Valley, and what it looks like to operate outside the status quo.

This and all episodes are available on SoundCloud, iTunes, and Stitcher.

Episode 26: Jeremy McLellan on Doing Comedy

I’m always impressed and fascinated by comedians.  It’s a tough gig. Jeremy McLellan is a comedian in Charleston, SC who never stops writing material.  In addition to performing several times a week he is constantly sharing bits and jokes (there is a difference) on Facebook.  He’s also running for mayor of Charleston on a popular platform of issues like the need to re-institute prohibition and seal off Charleston’s borders to protect the inhabitants from neighboring cities.

We discuss how he got into comedy, how he prepares for a show, and his goals with his craft.  You can find him on Facebook here.

This and all episodes are available on SoundCloud, iTunes, and Stitcher.

Episode 25: Lehla Eldridge on Unschooling in Italy

Author, illustrator, cafe owner, world traveler, and unschool mom Lehla Eldridge joins me to talk about raising kids in another country and taking big, adventurous leaps.

Lehla and her husband run the website unschoolingthekids.com and are the authors the book Unschooling: The 6 Keys to Our Children’s Future. They are both from England, but spent 15 years in South Africa working in the film industry then owning their own cafe and raising kids before eventually settling (for now) in Italy.

We discuss the challenges of making big life and career moves, how they discovered alternative education, and what it’s like unschooling three kids on a daily basis.

This and all episodes are available on SoundCloud, iTunes, and Stitcher.

Episode 24: Thaddeus Russell on Renegades, Puritanism, and Pleasure

Historian and author of “A Renegade History of the United States” Thaddeus Russell joins me to discuss his work and the notion that the “renegades” might be the ones to thank for our freedom, not the puritanical political busybodies.

Russell’s work is anything but typical history.  It exposes the great moral reformers and champions of left and right as primarily power brokers who sought to control common impulses, and the renegades who resisted them – from slaves to prostitutes to poor immigrants – as the source of most of our social and political freedoms.

We discuss his life, his work, the main themes, how it’s been received, and what he’s working on next.  Thaddeus is certain to challenge some of your cherished notions!

This episode and all others are available on SoundCloud, iTunes, and Stitcher.

Episode 23: Sam Patterson on OpenBazaar, OB1, and the Decentralization of Everything

Sam Patterson works on the OpenBazaar project, building a distributed, peer-to-peer marketplace for the world. His team recently received media attention for landing a $1m investment from prominent VC firms Union Square Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz to launch a company called OB1.

We discuss what OpenBazaar is, how it differs from traditional online marketplaces like eBay and Amazon, and from others like Silk Road. We also touch on his unique personal and professional journey and his decision to unschool his kids.

7 Super Simple Steps to Launch a Podcast for Less than $240

I’m a tech novice.  Editing a blog post in WordPress is about the height of my interest and skill level when it comes to digital content.  When a friend kept urging me to launch a podcast and see if I liked it, it sounded fun but I was skeptical.  It seemed so much harder than blogging.  There was no one place that gave a really simple, step-by-step explanation on how to do it.  While I don’t pretend to be an expert and my podcast could definitely improve in some areas, with a little help I was able to get it off the ground and regularly produce episodes without much trouble.

I guarantee there are better ways to do every step on this list, but I’m a to-the-point kind of guy, so I basically did all the easiest, most obvious things instead of searching for something better.  If you want to get started quickly and easily, these steps will work!

1. Mic and headset (~$88)

You don’t need anything super fancy to sound pretty good.  I have old Plantronics headset that has a built-in mic.  It was about $29.  The built-in mic is actually good enough that it’s not distracting.  My first episode was recorded with it.  But I decided to spring for a slightly better mic.  I went to Amazon and found an Audio Technica mic for $59.  I’m very happy with the sound quality I get from the mic, and I use the headset at the same time to eliminate feedback.  Both require no software and the computer recognizes them as soon as they’re plugged in.  The biggest downside with the mic I chose is that it’s really only good for one person talking directly into it.  I tried a few interviews with guests in the same room with me, and it’s hard to get even volume levels with people at difference distances from the mic.

2. Intro/outro music (~$29)

You could go without music or record your own, but I decided to buy a simple intro/outro.  I went to PremiumBeats and listened to a few dozen samples before I picked one.  I paid $29 for a song, downloaded it, and then was able to cut it into smaller sections and add voice over for an intro.  The downside is I suppose someone else could be using the same song for something else, but it seems a pretty low risk.

3. Editing software ($0)

I wanted to go cheap and simple, so I took advice from a friend and downloaded Audacity.  It’s pretty plain vanilla, but it does everything I’m interested in doing right now.  After downloading I opened it, imported the intro music file, was able to use simple cut and paste tools to trim it down, do fade in/out effects, and then record a voice over to go with the music.  My favorite part about Audacity is how easy it is to edit multiple tracks and the simple, visual layout.  After editing you simple click “export audio” and it spits out an MP3 after asking you to fill in the “tags”, which includes info like track number, title, date, etc. (which is great because this is what iTunes and other podcast hosting platforms use to pull the info from).

4. Recording software ($0)

If you’re recording a solo podcast, as I occasionally do, Audacity is all you need.  It works fine for in-studio guests as well.  If you have a guest across the country, however, you’ll need a way to record the call.  I downloaded CallGraph for free and it works really well with Skype.  Recording begins automatically when Skype sessions start and the file is saved to whatever location you choose when you setup CallGraph (and a copy goes to the cloud temporarily as well).  The only occasional issue is when CallGraph fails to sync with Skype, which seems to happen only if I move my laptop from one WiFi network to another without first shutting down and restarting.  A simple restart does the trick.  Be sure it’s syncing before you begin!

5. Conference call software ($0)

As I mentioned above, I use Skype.  The main reason is because I already know how, everyone else has some experience with it, and it works so well with CallGraph.  I know people who prefer Zoom (which allows recording without any third party software), or Google Hangouts, but I’ve found Skype to be no worse than the rest and easy for guests to use.  When I installed CallGraph I had to follow instructions to go into Skype settings and allow the CallGraph plugin to work with it so it would record.  Skype sometimes cuts out if broadband is sketchy, but I have been able to get the guest back and just edit out the bad spot later.  The main thing is to remind your guests to find a quiet room and headphones.

6. Hosting (~$120/year)

Once you record your intro and outro, get a guest on Skype, let CallGraph record it, import the file to Audacity, edit it into a wonderful episode, and export the file to your podcast folder, now what?  You’ve got the finished product, but how do you post it for others to easily listen and share?  I love SoundCloud.  It’s really easy to upload files to, and set permissions, release date, add descriptions, and to get a nice link for embedding on a blog and sharing on social.  SoundCloud is free until you upload something like 6 hours, but to get unlimited space a pro account is only around $120/year when last I checked.  Once you have an account, you just click “upload”, select your file, type in the title, descriptions, etc. and you’ll get a great player that’s easy to listen and share.

7. Sharing ($0)

So here’s where I hit my first major roadblock.  Most people listen to podcasts on iTunes or Stitcher or some other distribution platform that lets listeners subscribe.  SoundCloud is great for web listening, but it makes it harder for your fans to work your podcast into their daily rotation and get wider reach.  You’ll need to get these platforms to include your podcast.  The instructions for how to do so on iTunes are long and intimidating, but really you just need an RSS feed for your podcast.  Once you have that, you can submit it with a bit of basic info and wait to hear if you’re approved.  I do iTunes and Stitcher, because those are the ones I see the most.  The struggle I faced was how the heck to get an RSS feed of my podcast?  SoundCloud made this easier.  The have a (beta) podcasting service.  It’s not easy to find, but if you just Google SoundCloud podcasting you’ll get to a page that let’s you apply to be a podcaster.  This generates an RSS feed of everything you upload to SoundCloud.  You can go into your settings, copy it, and paste it into your application on your platforms of choice.  It took a few days but both iTunes and Stitcher approved me and emailed me a link to where my show could be found.

The basic routine

After I got everything setup I got into a pretty simple routine for creating and posting new episodes.  I schedule a Skype session with my guest, email them some things we might discuss, and then get underway.  When the Skype begins I let them know it’s recording and that I can edit things if need be, and let them know when to expect it to go live. (I like to record with a 3-4 week buffer and release episodes weekly).  I do audio only to reduce bandwidth problems and keep it simple.  After the call is done, I open up Audacity, import the call recording, cut out the small talk before the interview and (rarely) edit out some other things like a sneeze or a cough.  I then import my intro and outro music files, cut and paste them around the track, add fade in and out, and save.  I export the file to a folder, add the proper tags, and then open up SoundCloud.  I upload, add description, and then I typically set the track as “private” until the day when I will release it.  I release every Monday along with a blog post with show notes and links and an embedded audio player from SoundCloud.  I never know how my listeners prefer to listen, so I try to give them plenty of easy options.

That’s it!  It’s fun, easy, and can be rewarding.  Go for it.

Episode 22: Blake Boles on Unschool Adventures and Self-Directed Learning

Blake Boles is an author, entrepreneur, and self-directed learning advocate.  He’s written several books on education beyond school and runs a program to help unschoolers to travel the world.  He joins me to discuss his own education and career journey and what he’s learned along the way.

Find him online here.

This and all episodes are available on SoundCloud, iTunes, and Stitcher.