In this episode, Jim and Lawrence chat with Susan Diaz about creating an evergreen content flywheel. They discuss how to effectively distribute and repurpose content, as well as how to build a personal and professional brand.
Susan, a content creator and strategist, discusses her experience with podcasting and why she decided to make the pivot to this medium. She highlights how podcasting allowed her to reach a wider audience and how, as a result, she was able to grow her business.
Susan started her business with video production, but quickly realized that she needed to switch to podcasting in order to serve her customers better. She made the decision to niche down and focus on podcasting, and has since then built a successful business in this area. She attributes her success to her customer-centric approach and her willingness to learn and pivot as needed.
Susan Diaz talks about her upbringing and how it led to her love of adventure. She talks about how her family moved around a lot, and how that led to her and her husband eventually moving to Canada.
She talks about how she found her people in the Arctic tundra (lol) and how she loves it there.
The Power of Podcasting
The Journey to Podcasting: How Susan Found Her Niche and Built a Business
The Origin Story of Susan Diaz
The Zone of Genius: What It Is and How to Embrace It
The Power of Seeing Patterns
The Benefits of a Long-Form Content Flywheel Strategy
The Flywheel Effect: How to Achieve More with Less Work
The Power of Customer Insights in Marketing
Music Credit: Maarten Schellekens - Riviera
Follow us at:
Susan Diaz: UnBOriNg - Part 1
[00:00:00] Dr. Jim: welcome to today's episode of Cascading Leadership. I am your friendly neighborhood talent strategy nerd. I always make LB laugh when I say this, Dr. Jim, and, with me, I have my illustrious co-host who's got like an I and Odyssey version title.
[00:00:16] Lawrence Brown: I am Lawrence Brown, otherwise known as lb, your executive reading and research coach.
[00:00:21] Dr. Jim: Hello, lb.
[00:00:22] Lawrence Brown: Hey, how are you, ?
[00:00:23] Dr. Jim: I'm good. So we are in for an action packed show
[00:00:28] Dr. Jim: and our featured guest, and I'll introduce her in a second is gonna teach us a lot. About creating an evergreen content flywheel. So when we're thinking about what, does that even mean? That's what we're gonna talk about in this show. So in this episode, we're gonna learn about how to effectively distribute content, how to effectively repurpose content, and then how to build.
[00:00:51] Dr. Jim: And this might be actually the most important takeaway that we're gonna get out of it, are learning that we're gonna get out of it, how to build a personal professional point of view and [00:01:00] brand. So to teach us about all of this stuff is one of my favorite Canadian dess. That's a title right there.
[00:01:09] Dr. Jim: Welcome to the show, Susan.
[00:01:11] Susan Diaz: Thank you for having me, gentlemen. This is awesome. My name is Susan Diaz and I ran a podcasting firm called C plus B Digital in Toronto. And we work with membership organizations who have like multiple stakeholders and a lot of levels of communicators to bring them together cuz podcasting is a great way to do that.
[00:01:32] Susan Diaz: That is the hill that I would die on. Mostly because at this time in history it's like probably where the least amount of clutter is and it's it's a way to. Put some roots or some structure or some system into the marketing, which is like relatively lower effort compared to mediums like video or like intensive writing.
[00:01:53] Susan Diaz: So that's us. That said, content marketing is the key thing that we offer. Big, fan of the [00:02:00] idea that blogs should be taken out of just writing into multi format because I think where at that time where we're done with it not to say that you don't need the blogs, of course you do. So we bring it all together.
[00:02:12] Susan Diaz: Once you're creating a podcast, are you fully and completely getting everything you can out of it? And I know that I'm preaching to people who fully get that watching the way that you folks roll out your podcast. So that's exactly what we aim to do. So we're a team of Seven people and that's our day job.
[00:02:30] Susan Diaz: My other, the other part of who I am is I'm a mom. I am the mom of a 10 year old. She's wicked smart. She's the reason why I've learned over years to like super simplify something cuz you know, if you can speak to a kid and get them to see something, it's really useful As a writer, she's up in the metaverse and gaming all the time and I'm learning every day from her.
[00:02:51] Dr. Jim: Susan. I'm, super pumped to have you on the show. I wanna pick up on a couple of things before we dive into the meat of the conversation. So you, you, [00:03:00] mentioned podcasting specifically as one of the the, mediums that that you operate in.
[00:03:06] Dr. Jim: Now, I don't know if the audience is aware, but you actually, for a period of time had one of the top rated podcasts in, Canada. So that's, pretty important. So tell us tell us a little bit about how you got into podcasting as a medium and why you decided to make that. Pivot
[00:03:22] Susan Diaz: That's such a good question. Okay, so why podcasting? Cuz we were facing some of the issues that many people were facing, which was that the writing space was pretty saturated. And this was like, what, four years ago when like you put lead magnets out there and people was just not giving, nobody wanted to give you their email to get down that strategy.
[00:03:42] Susan Diaz: So we were like, we need do it ourselves. Cuz I learned by doing and so does the rest of the team that we work with. And we're like, we just need to try something new. So we did videos that did well. We got a couple projects where we went in with all kinds of introductions about ourselves and their introduction was, Hey, this is Susan and she makes a video [00:04:00] series.
[00:04:00] Susan Diaz: So I really started to think about like I, what people were impressed by versus what we thought. Qualifications were, was what we were paying attention to. So at that point it was my partner in the business will who was like, Susan, we need to make a podcast. And my answer was, no.
[00:04:16] Susan Diaz: We don't. We just have too much going on right now and I don't like the sound of my voice. I'm an immigrant. People won't understand me. Like all of the imposters syndrome pieces, that you can think about just came out to play. But he was pretty visionary about it and he was like, let's just do it. Let's do like a test.
[00:04:31] Susan Diaz: Let's do a pilot. And then we did, and I have to say like I fell in love with it. Like it's just so freeing and just get together, have a discussion. In the beginning we thought that nobody would come to the table. Like we were gonna beg all of our friends in marketing to show up and talk about what keeps them up at night.
[00:04:49] Susan Diaz: And we did for about two or three episodes. But after that we pretty much never had to Like search hard for a guest, like somebody who was always happy to come on. So we did a hundred we're at [00:05:00] 172 now and it's had a few avatar changes, but about a season into it, like less than 10 episodes.
[00:05:06] Susan Diaz: An existing client said, do you make podcasts for other people? And I said, I do now . Yeah, my mama didn't raise any stupid children.
[00:05:13] Lawrence Brown: no doubt. .
[00:05:14] Susan Diaz: And then the pandemic.
[00:05:16] Susan Diaz: Came up. So we had to take some serious decisions at that point cuz while we didn't lose any clients and over the years we've gotten to a place where we've made our business model a bit more like monthly recurring revenue. And you've got like a way in which you're not gonna be like left in the cold if you don't have some projects.
[00:05:33] Susan Diaz: That said the, it was a hard couple of years, not least of which, because I'm a parent, I had. School, a child from home every, all of that fed in and the nicheing into podcasting happened at that point. We had to choose like what, you can't be all things to all people. So who do we wanna really, serve?
[00:05:52] Susan Diaz: And in some ways, where does our zone of genius lie? And I think that was when we select, yes, we could help people in [00:06:00] this way, but we are probably best off helping people with their podcast. And I wanna say that was a one day decision. It wasn't, it took me like nine to 12 months to fully dig into that and be like, this is it.
[00:06:11] Susan Diaz: This is all we do. Like even a small example, if I may gentleman like just changing my bio from digital marketing founder to like podcast founder. Like it's a little fear inducing, but it went well .
[00:06:23] Dr. Jim: I, know in the beginning of the show I introduced like three key learnings, but just in your description of that journey, there's another three things that came out.
[00:06:33] Dr. Jim: So one, there's the element of, hey, we think we know what people are looking for, but you actually responded to what the customer wanted. So it's what the customer wants is what's primary that should drive your business decisioning in terms of where your particular path goes. And I think that's a key takeaway for small to medium sized businesses to be super oriented [00:07:00] towards the customer point of view and what the customer is saying is important to them deliver your services and deliver your value the way that they're actually consuming it.
[00:07:09] Dr. Jim: So that's one. The other thing that is interesting about your podcasting story is that from a learning and development perspective you started out on, the video front, which actually has application here too. And then you made a pivot into podcasting. But both of those things have something in common because when you look at how people learn and the nature of learning these days, it's on demand.
[00:07:35] Dr. Jim: You have to deliver your value statements. You're about you key learnings in a way that allows people to consume it when it's convenient for them. So that was another key takeaway that I got from your story, is that you're making this pivot in terms of, okay, how can we have our learnings be evergreen out in the, world of work?
[00:07:56] Dr. Jim: And that, seems to be a pretty important takeaway for business owners [00:08:00] to understand. And then the last thing that you just mentioned is you had to figure out your niche. You can't be all things to all people. And I know that we haven't even gotten to your personal journey and all that sort of stuff, and we're gonna get to it, but I had to interject that when you're looking at, okay, how do you grow effectively, how do you grow rapidly?
[00:08:19] Dr. Jim: You have to identify the niches that you have to serve. So I want to just call that out because those are phenomenal points in the course of your journey that you flesh out for for the audience. So with all that being said, let me let's, dive into the story of Susan and we're gonna do a little bit of hero story on you, Susan.
[00:08:38] Dr. Jim: And I don't care if you're not a fan of the hero journey or any of that. We're just gonna do it because
[00:08:44] Susan Diaz: I'm here for it. .
[00:08:45] Dr. Jim: That's, how we roll. Let's wind it all back. One of the things that you just mentioned was, I didn't want to do a podcast because I have an accent and, people won't understand me and all that sort of stuff.
[00:08:55] Dr. Jim: So share with the class, the origin story of Susan Diaz.[00:09:00]
[00:09:00] Susan Diaz: Yeah, it's interesting. My parents were big adventurers. They were travelers. I was born in Chennai and then we lived in Tanzania for a good amount of my formative years. My dad used to work for Coca-Cola and like this big production plant, so it was like in a tiny, place on the border of Uganda.
[00:09:19] Susan Diaz: And we used to go and illegally grocery shop in Uganda because you didn't get like supplies necessarily the way like, so if you wanted things like Ovaltine and Double Bubble and all of those things you didn't get them at that point. So we would do stuff like this. I think Adventure was just in my upbringing, like my parents did it, but why wouldn't we?
[00:09:41] Susan Diaz: My husband was an kid who's, who was raised with Air Force background, so they moved around a lot. So as a family we just travel . So I think for most of my life we've done that. And then Canada was just like the next step. It's like when you wanna return where's home.
[00:09:59] Susan Diaz: So as [00:10:00] an adult, like in, in our like late twenties, we had to make a decision. It's do you wanna go back home? Which is India where we probably haven't been for a very long time, and or do you wanna go somewhere else? And then that's why we picked and came here, which it's again, it's interesting sometimes you say you don't wanna do something and then when you actually try it, you love it.
[00:10:19] Susan Diaz: Like I was saying to mirin, why would I live in the Arctic Tundra? I, no, I don't wanna go there. And then we came here and I turned into this evangelist where I'm like, never leaving. This is my home and I've found my people. So, that's the backstory. Lots and lots of moving around, but I think I might have found a route.
[00:10:37] Lawrence Brown: As you talk about finding your route what was the, next phase of your life? Take us through the journey of how you got here today.
[00:10:46] Susan Diaz: I'd say. My professionally was what always led my decisions. It was very like, I would start with, what do I not wanna do? which is one of those questions. [00:11:00] I don't want, for example, early enough in my life, I don't want to go down the path of being an engineer or being a doctor or whatever.
[00:11:09] Susan Diaz: Even though my family was very forward thinking and not at all pushing any of us down that path, they did put it in front of us being like, don't regret it later. If you do wanna do this, you can't. And I was like, Nope, nope. That's not what I wanna do. So I just followed along with my love of writing and I just was good at it.
[00:11:26] Susan Diaz: It's always helpful. It takes a little while to get to that place when you know it, but it's helpful to notice what comes easy, even if you don't wanna call yourself good at it or whatever. Writing came easy to me. A lot of people around me were writers, so I went down that path. But that wasn't like an absolute, like when I got there, I was like, I hate this.
[00:11:42] Susan Diaz: Advertising copywriting is not my thing. And I did stay in advertising and sort went down a path of what shall I say planning and some of that. So I think being a generalist is really what has been an underlying theme in my life. It's like jack of all trades and master of [00:12:00] None. I think that's badly said Jack of all trades and master of many, right?
[00:12:03] Susan Diaz: And that I think is the sort of future. It's do you, can you be an expert at everything? No. But if you can bring things together and get them. That's I've taken early enough, if you asked me what my superpower is, I would've said, I see patterns. Like I see patterns that other people don't see.
[00:12:21] Susan Diaz: So that's guided my life.
[00:12:24] Lawrence Brown: I'm, jumping out my chair for, those that can't that can't see us. Because you had a couple of powerful things, right? So I think that you're, you talked about your superpower, right?
[00:12:34] Lawrence Brown: And recognizing that, and I think the things that quote unquote come easy to us are really more like gifts, right? And we don't necessarily realize it because we are good at what we do in those particular areas. And the other thing was, then as you were talking about embracing being what I call a multi potential.
[00:12:53] Lawrence Brown: Someone that is capable of doing a lot of different things. And, unfortunately I, agree with you. I think the Renaissance person is a thing of [00:13:00] the, a thing of the past and really should not be. And when you described what your journey has been to this point and even how you got into doing the podcasting, right?
[00:13:12] Lawrence Brown: It sounds a lot like that. It sounds like being able to to make that shift. But something that I wanted to ask you about that you had mentioned and I don't know how it works in here, but I'm gonna ask it anyway cause I thought it was a brilliant statement, is the zone of genius.
[00:13:25] Lawrence Brown: What is that f.
[00:13:25] Susan Diaz: That is a concept by an author gay Hendrix and he articulates it as the four areas. You've got a zone.
[00:13:36] Dr. Jim: Hold on one sec. So this is how you know that you're in the presence of two big ass nerds. As soon as you sit, as soon as you cited that author and the book
[00:13:47] Lawrence Brown: we both started
[00:13:48] Susan Diaz: writing write, it down,
[00:13:49] Dr. Jim: So that's,
[00:13:50] Lawrence Brown: I absolutely do. . So tell us about, sorry, I didn't mean to jump in, but like both LB and I just went on camera and we're writing this [00:14:00] down, so
[00:14:01] Susan Diaz: Love it. So
[00:14:01] Susan Diaz: it must .
[00:14:01] Lawrence Brown: That's hilarious.
[00:14:02] Susan Diaz: It's a book called The Big Leap. The author is Gay Hendrix. And in it, obviously there's a fair bit to the book, but the crux of it, which I think really, works, especially from a talent perspective and yourself is these four zones he talks about.
[00:14:18] Susan Diaz: So he talks about a zone of incompetence, which is really the stuff that like you, comes very hard to you and you shouldn't be doing cuz there's really very little passion or commercial possibility there. And then the zone of competence. So often in the zone of incompetence, I'll say finance details are not my zone of competence in, they're like, completely not my thing.
[00:14:39] Susan Diaz: So I need someone else to knowledge translate for me and then get it done. Then there's the zone of competence, which is you can do it, you can do it well. But there's also a lot of other people who can do the same thing. So in that space I'd be like, okay, something like my ability to get involved in websites.
[00:14:55] Susan Diaz: Can I do it? Can I speak it better than most people? Yes, but would I make a, living and be [00:15:00] passionately involved? There? No . And then the third, and this is why people get. Stuck. It's called the zone of excellence. It's what you're uncommonly good at and potentially what you've made a living out of for most of your life, right?
[00:15:12] Susan Diaz: And so you stay there because you're comfortable. You're good at it. And in my case, that might have been like writing, like I, I, made a living out of that for most of my life. And then finally is the zone of genius. That's the stuff that sings. You're like, it comes to you so easy. You get into a time warp when you're doing it.
[00:15:30] Susan Diaz: Like most people think it's very, hard and you're like, oh, it was nothing. I woke up like this. That's your zone of genius. And the quest in life is to try and stay in that zone of genius and it's not one thing at all times and over life, I've realized my zone of genius is not in my writing.
[00:15:45] Susan Diaz: It's the fact that my writing solves your problems and that shift I think was a big part of why I stay open to, things. I enjoy it. Like of course I'm a, like I said, I have an adventure streak in myself. If I see a hill, I'm [00:16:00] jumping off it. Like I'm just that person. But that said, it's this understanding of my, innate abilities and then coming to terms with them, that's been quite pivotal.
[00:16:10] Lawrence Brown: Say a little bit more about the idea of seeing patterns. Cuz that was the part where I think I really jumped. So that's something that I absolutely identify with and, it's hard to explain to people that don't see it that way.
[00:16:23] Lawrence Brown: So it's probably why Jim and I are fast friends because we, we do, it's just it's just like this, like you said, that zone of genius where it, there is no thought really in it. And oftentimes I find myself actually trying not to do it because I don't want to go down the path of already having created the solution because my mind already starts to see the pattern.
[00:16:46] Dr. Jim: Lb you're hitting right at something that I was about to chime in on. So when I process things on the things that I know well, it's like a really good, a well executed game of Tetris because I'll see a couple [00:17:00] of blocks and then I'll see the next 10 and I'm already at, that stage and I think where.
[00:17:06] Dr. Jim: The gap in terms of my capability exists is that I will ask some questions on the front end and then it's off to the races. And by the time I get to where I want to get to I, look behind as everybody's like, where did Jim go? . So the, zone of excellence or genius is in, my particular area it's, the game of Tetris.
[00:17:28] Dr. Jim: I see the world as Tetris and it just, I see it before it happens in certain areas that I've, and I don't even notice it. So I have to like, deliberately just, the lbs point, slow myself down in those areas so people don't get left behind.
[00:17:42] Susan Diaz: Yeah.
[00:17:43] Dr. Jim: Susan, one of the things that that when you and I got connected was this it was from our podcasting experience. So I, was just starting out and the argument is that we're still just starting out cuz we're not even that well established in terms of our, cadence.
[00:17:59] Dr. Jim: But one of the [00:18:00] things that caught my attention there was actually two. One was how you leverage long firm content in, terms of creating a content flywheel. And then the other one was your position in your newsletter about death to the hero story. And at the time that I read it, LB and I were primarily using that as our main format of the show.
[00:18:22] Dr. Jim: So tell us a little bit about your, high level positions in both of those areas and then we'll dig in a little bit on on creating that evergreen content flywheel.
[00:18:32] Susan Diaz: I'll start with the Hero's Journey and then we'll come back to the Flywheel thing and continue that chat.
[00:18:37] Susan Diaz: I think the hero's journey it's, a, my statement there is specifically to do with. Going in the opposite direction of what everybody's doing. And with the heroes journey, I think when, interviews were new, whether it was in TV or radio format, and advanced interviewers were asking beautifully constructed [00:19:00] questions to paint a ta a picture of someone's life versus the average business podcaster who in 20 minutes hasn't quite gotten to the point of the episode.
[00:19:09] Susan Diaz: That's where my rant lives, is that is not the only format, everybody's doing it. A lot of people are executing, it, not fantastically, like not in a way the reader or the, sorry, the listener has to. Sift through the material in to get into the meat of it. So that was why the take on the death to the hero's journey and then using that to spotlight the fact that there's so many other formats that do fantastically well.
[00:19:34] Susan Diaz: And one that I will usually go on about is panels. Like, I love it when people will get three or four people break down the silos, whether it's your organization or across organizations that when we were in events, we used to do that really well, by the way, of fireside chats and things. So a hundred percent There's room for that.
[00:19:53] Susan Diaz: Do I have time for a beautifully told heroes journey? Yeah, of course. I love it. However, that is not the only format. So that's [00:20:00] where my perspective comes on that. And as for flywheel, like why is a podcast or like literally any long form content a flywheel content marketing strategy, the reason for it is that it takes a lot of time to start something new and then when you keep approaching things ad hoc, like launch, repeat, launch, repeat, you're just putting a lot of work without making it like ongoing.
[00:20:26] Susan Diaz: And I think people, whether it's imposter syndrome, whether it's lack of it's lack of like full, what shall I say, bandwidth to execute some of these things, people just seem stuck on that wheel of not being able to move past that launch. That's when we were like, all right, with a podcast, here's what happens.
[00:20:43] Susan Diaz: You create, we, I call a minimum viable podcast product, like at least 25 episodes, which you have consistently released. Whether you pick a biweekly cadence or you pick a weekly cadence or even a monthly leave, that's the best you can do. Just fix something. Do [00:21:00] what you said you would and show up, right?
[00:21:01] Susan Diaz: That's the nature of binge worthy content. It's your commitment to the audience that, that you will show up regularly on these days and bring this quality content. So I think when you put that sort of effort, like I would joke with my team about how we would release a podcast at 4:00 AM on Thursdays.
[00:21:19] Susan Diaz: It's called a 4:00 AM Report, and we love a we love seeing true to a theme. 4:00 AM on Thursdays is not 4:00 AM ish. It's not Thursday ish. It's 4:00 AM on Thursday. Cuz that kind of consistency is what, whether the people have heard the podcast or not, they'll see it out. And it, that's journalistic deadlines.
[00:21:39] Susan Diaz: And I feel like that's what creates that movement initially. Because by virtue of doing that, you're automatically, if you have more than seven episodes, you are in the top 7% of all podcasters because most podcasts have less than six episodes. Somebody comes in, does a batch and leaves, right? So I think when you raise yourself in quality above that level, [00:22:00] you are automatically in.
[00:22:02] Susan Diaz: rarified air, you're automatically the best of the best. And then how do you keep continuously improving? That's the whole point of the flywheel is like, how do I now do less work and still have it publishing. How do you repurpose, like how do you pull out the videos from it? If you're only writing show notes, how do you also write a blog post from it?
[00:22:20] Susan Diaz: If you're writing one generalist blog post, can you break it up into three blog posts so it's infinite and after some time, like a one hour recording from me a week is now pretty much it. That's it. That I'll show up and do that and all the rest of it works on its own. Can everyone do this?
[00:22:37] Susan Diaz: Yes. If you stay at it for six to eight months.
[00:22:41] Lawrence Brown: I was actually going to ask is directly related to establishing the the flywheel.
[00:22:46] Lawrence Brown: I think that one of the things that we hope to do is, share with others, right? So that they're able to pursue whatever their, passions are, or whatever it is that they want to, do. And as you were talking about I, was listening to talk about the the [00:23:00] flywheel. And you've talked quite a bit about the, customers.
[00:23:02] Lawrence Brown: When I think about the hero story, for example we call the hero story. The layout that we have. But the hero story for me is also from a marketing standpoint, is really inserting our listeners into the story and that they are in fact the hero.
[00:23:16] Lawrence Brown: And I think that you actually touched on that when you were talking earlier, right? How do you build toward, that towards centering. Whoever it is that your audience is going to be,
[00:23:29] Susan Diaz: you talk to them to begin with. You're like, who do I want to reach out to? Am I speaking with an executive mid-level marketing executive in this firm?
[00:23:41] Susan Diaz: You have to personify it. You have to be like, LB or like Jim, and then go have a chat with those folks. And sometimes I think marketers assume that talking to clients somehow they're exempt from talking to clients. No, I think we need to start from there. Like I myself regularly [00:24:00] talk to, like the place I'd start.
[00:24:02] Susan Diaz: Is existing clients, like right now, who do you have, especially the people that have stayed with you. And ask them what makes you stay? Like why did you originally come to us? Like, how did we one of the things that we unearthed when asking those kind of questions early of our clients was that you, folks are fun.
[00:24:20] Susan Diaz: And I was like, that's a bit of a, weird thing to come up. Like I understand like one, we would get you do what you said you would, which is like deadlines we're pretty solid on deadlines, which I realize is not that common in the market. So that was a good thing. And then they would say we were fun.
[00:24:34] Susan Diaz: And I was like, I would never have positioned for myself in any way to do with fun. And I would never have gone forward to write a book called UnBoring, if not for the fact that I spoke to customers who pointed that out. And then we were like, all right, how can we be a little bit more tongue in cheek in everything that we do?
[00:24:52] Susan Diaz: How can we get a little bit more open about the fact that we have fun? And how can we, like we through this like a word [00:25:00] ceremony called, like thirst award. So we really started to lean into that part. And I think all of that comes from getting those customer insights and you, shine your beacon out into the world and people will find you.
[00:25:12] Susan Diaz: It sounds too idyllic, but it's, I do believe that
[00:25:15] Ethan: Tune in next time for more of this conversation with Susan Diaz on Cascading Leadership