Have you ever failed at anything?
For a while in late 2020, we've had a pretty tough time developing a new podcast.
Last fall, the SPI Media Content team (your real and senior content manager Karen Beattie) and the Podcasts team (senior producer Sara Jane Hess and producer David Grabowski) brought our heads together to come up with ideas for a new show .
Our mission was exciting but daunting: to develop a compelling podcast concept that can withstand our flagship shows, the Smart Passive Income Podcast and AskPat 2.0, but also stand on its own. We wanted to create something new and different. Some fresh energy that fits the brand, but also expands it. And of course something our audience would look forward to.
No presh, right? This is how the process evolved.
Take 1: A new twist on an old idea
Our first idea was a show where we interviewed everyday entrepreneurs and experts about the sweet – and sometimes bittersweet – road to success.
We thought about answering questions like: What does success mean? How do you find it? Why is it so elusive sometimes? How does it feel when you finally get it? And what if you lose it?
Yes, success stories are not exactly a new concept. But we thought if we approach the subject from enough interesting angles, we could make something cool out of it. We thought we had something.
So we set out to create a test script for a pilot episode, based largely on excerpts from interviews we'd conducted for a series of blog posts about business success stories earlier this summer.
The interviews we were able to work with gave us a boost, and we got the script together pretty quickly.
Our first test script: making the sausage.
But the script felt well sewn together. And what's more, we found that we weren't that enthusiastic about the concept. Success is great! We just weren't sure we had a lot of new things to say about it.
So we kept brainstorming.
Take 2: The COVID Diaries
Our next idea was a show about how entrepreneurs cope, survive and maybe even (swallow) the chaos that COVID-19 has wreaked in our lives and businesses.
We revisited our material success story interviews. The coronavirus pandemic was (unsurprisingly) an issue in all of these interviews, so we had a decent amount of content to rewrite a test script.
This time around we felt like we had something more focused to work with. Maybe this idea has legs! We used our test script to record a test episode with intro music and see how the concept would land in our ears.
Aaaand it kind of landed flat.
As we found with the first test script, using interviews that we had recorded for a different purpose and piecing them together with new comments did not result in an extremely convincing podcasting.
And with things changing so quickly on the epidemiological front, we also wondered if the COVID focus would shorten the shelf life of the podcast. (COVID obviously hasn't gone away yet. Perhaps the concern was unfounded, but that's what we thought at the time.)
All in all, a COVID-focused podcast didn't grab us the way we wanted it, so we headed back to the drawing board.
Take 3: Closer! (Or are we?)
We discarded some other ideas. We shopped them in and even came up with an outline of what a season of each of these shows might look like.
But the result, for a variety of reasons, was that we either didn't feel excited enough or were ready to turn any of those ideas into a podcast right now.
(You'll find that I haven't shared the details as we may one day turn some of these concepts into a podcast!)
So we marched on.
Take 4: Flops arrive
Then we had to think about our original idea: success. Maybe we did it the other way around. What if we flip the script and talk about errors instead?
And so Flops was born.
What are flops? I let the trailer do the talking:
Our vision at Flops is to present an honest portrait of business failure in its many forms. Season 1 features interviews with entrepreneurs who have failed big in some way, as well as stories of failures from recent and not-so-recent history in business and beyond – along with a few guest cameos that reveal an easier side of failure.
It may sound clichéd, but failure really puts things into perspective. It's amazing what people can stand and bounce back.
In the first season of Flops, we speak to more than one businesswoman who's lost six-digit numbers, one whose new business has exactly zero customers, and another whose first retail product blew money while battling cancer.
These three entrepreneurs recovered in different ways, while others we spoke to are still struggling to find their booth. We want to show the messy, unvarnished side of failure because failure is to be expected. Failure is human. And it can change your life irrevocably, sometimes for the better and sometimes not. What really matters is what you do with that mistake.
So say hello to flops. We hope it doesn't fail because we believe these stories are valuable to hear – and that we've put together a podcast that tells them in a pretty compelling way.
But if flops fail, we'll dust ourselves off and try again.
The first season of Flops starts this Wednesday March 31st, with new episodes every Wednesday. Find it on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or anywhere you listen to podcasts.