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InnovaBuzz Episode #65 – Sharon Taylor – Omny Studio

Sharon Taylor of Omny Studio

Sharon Taylor – Omny Studio

In this episode, my guest is Sharon Taylor, CEO of Omny Studio, in Melbourne, Australia.

Omny Studio is a podcasting host that provides an all in one solution for on demand audio, to help content producers focus on producing great content and growing their audience.  The InnovaBuzz Podcast is hosted on Omny Studio and it is a great service.

Sharon talks to us about the power of podcasting, the challenges of a small, rapidly growing company with clients across the world and connecting people and technology.

Listen to the podcast to find out more.

Listen to the Podcast

People feel like friends with their podcast host - Sharon Taylor @omnystudio #InnovaBuzz Podcast Click To Tweet

Show Highlights

Some of the highlights of this episode with Sharon Taylor from Omny Studio include:

  • There is a lot to gain from bridging the intersection of technology and people – technology can be brilliant, but people make it, make it work and it is people that use it. Technology can solve problems, but people build the relationships.
  • Podcasting is a powerful way to connect with your audience as well as providing valuable information. Audiences feel a connection to the podcaster.
  • Growing a small start up rapidly is challenging and partnerships are really important to get connected with the right people and establish key relationships.
  • Advertising in podcasts is a contentious issue with varied opinions with the different stakeholders. Sharon believes advertising will be critical to getting podcasting established as a mainstream media – currently about 50% of people are aware of podcasting, that needs to increase to more than 75% to have podcasting be in the mainstream media market.
  • Innovation is a fantastic, modern way of saying what people should do as a good business. It’s finding better ways to do things. It’s to find faster ways of doing things. It’s to optimize performance and speed without sacrificing anything fundamental to your business.
  • Do stand-up meetings. People’s legs get tired, so the meetings don’t drag on. Talk about what you need to talk about in 5 minutes, get the action steps and next check point and finish the meeting.
Be you, warts and all - differentiate yourself. Sharon Taylor @omnystudio #InnovaBuzz Click To Tweet

The Buzz – Our Innovation Round

Here are Sharon’s answers to the questions of our Innovation round. Listen to the interview to get the full scoop.

  • #1 thing to be more innovative – Stop TRYING TO BE INNOVATIVE! If it feels right, do it!
  • Best thing for new ideas – Surround yourself with people smarter than you and then listen to them!
  • Favourite tool for innovation – Email Inbox is my ToDo!  We also use tools like Pipedrive, Asana, Visible Data and Baremetrics.
  • Keep project / client on track – Communication and setting clear expectations from the get go.
  • Differentiate – Be authentic. Be yourself.

To Be a Leader

Never stop asking questions, consume information!  Talk to people.

Reach Out

You can reach out and thank Sharon via LinkedIn and Email.  Mention this podcast.

Suggested Guest

Sharon suggested three people for me to interview, on a future InnovaBuzz podcast: Clive Dickens, the Chief Digital Officer at Seven West Media; Vijay Solanki, CEO of IAB Australia and Alistair Michener, Founder and CEO at Drawboard. We’ll be busily sending out invitations!

So, Clive, Vijay and Alistair, keep an eye on your inboxes, for an invitation from me to the InnovaBuzz podcast, courtesy of Sharon Taylor from Omny Studio.

Links

Innovation is a fantastic, modern way of saying what people should do as a good business. Sharon Taylor @omnystudio #InnovaBuzz Click To Tweet

Full Transcript


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Transcript

Introduction:

Hi, I’m Jürgen Strauss from Innovabiz. Welcome to Episode No 65 of the InnovaBuzz Podcast – designed to help smart businesses with an interest in innovation become even more innovative.

In this episode, my guest is Sharon Taylor, CEO of Omny Studio, in Melbourne, Australia. Omny Studio is a podcasting host that provides an all in one solution for on demand audio, to help content producers like me, focus on producing great content and growing their audience. I will state up front that I am a client of Omny Studio and it is a great service, so I’m really excited to be speaking with Sharon.

We talked about the the power of podcasting, the interface between technology and people and the exciting things that are in store for Omny Studio.

Sharon is very passionate about her business and her team and that passion certainly shines through in the interview.

So, without further ado, let’s fly into the Hive and get the Buzz from Sharon Taylor.

Interview:

Jürgen:
Hi I’m Jürgen Strauss from Innovabiz and I’m really excited to have with me today on this episode of the Innovabuzz podcast from Melbourne in Australia, just up the road from me, Sharon Taylor, the CEO of Omny Studio. Omny Studio is an all in one, on demand, audio management solution that helps content creators grow their audience and reduce production cost and monetize.

Now, of course it’s a software as a service. It enables radio stations and content producers to focus on doing what they do best which is producing quality content for their listeners. I have to say upfront that I’m an Omny Studio customer. I have been for a few months now and I’m absolutely loving the service so I can vouch for it.

I’m really looking forward to this interview and learning more. So welcome Sharon. It’s a great privilege to have you on the Innovabuzz Podcast.

Sharon:
Thanks Jürgen. Thanks so much for having me. It’s great to be here.

Jürgen:
Alright, before we talk about podcasting and media content and technology let’s find out a little bit about you, so what were some of the key milestones in your journey to becoming CEO of Omny Studio?

Sharon:
Oh wow! Okay, it just kind of happened. I know that’s not the answer that most people want to hear. I have always worked in tech (industry). Back in my very, very early years, I actually thought I was going to be a hotel magnate and was going to take over the world. From my early years of wanting to be, I used to call myself a “ball-breaking” business woman when I was about 6 or 7 years old.

Jürgen:
Oh Great! Very ambitious early on.

Sharon:
[chuckles] Yeah. I think back then.. one of my friends wanted to be a school bus so I think I aimed a little bit higher. He wanted to help the kids get to school. I kind of fell out of that when I was about early twenties and I accidentally fell into a job working at an IT firm. And it just escalated from there and so I spent about eight and a half years at a firm in Perth that did managed services and ran their web and SaaS and IT divisions, made the move across to Melbourne at the start of last year, took what was meant to be an eight week contract, helping Omny Studio put some kind of operational controls in place and one thing led to another and I took the helm in April and it’s been a world ride ever since.

Jürgen:
Okay. So a little bit more better Omny Studio in a moment, but I wanted to ask this because I’ve been following a lot of stuff with Michael Gerber and various other people that basically come back to first principles and one of the fundamental questions there is, why do you do what you do?

Sharon:
Uh-huh. What else would you do, if you don’t do what it is for those that you do. I do what I do because I genuinely love business and I love tech and I think that there hasn’t in the past been enough intersect between the human aspect of technology and people and I want to help bridge that, so I do what I do because the people that I get to work with are brilliant geniuses and I want to be a part of something exciting on a daily basis.

Jürgen:
Hmnnn.. That’s great. I love what you said there about the intersection between tech and human and I think one of the things I always find puzzling, is people get online and they publish things on blogs and do various things online and they think it’s completely different to real life if you like, physical life, but it’s not. It’s really building relationships with people isn’t it?

Sharon:
It’s true. Yeah I mean there’s a lot of people out there that think that a lot of problems can be solved with technology but at the end of the day, they’re still people that are building it and they’re are still people that are using it; you need to take that into account.

Jürgen:
Yes that’s right. So tell us a little bit more about Omny Studio then.

Sharon:
Ah okay. Omny Studio is the brainchild of a couple of pretty incredible guys who I get to work with on a daily basis, Long Zheng and Andrew Armstrong. It started out as a consumer player actually so I don’t know if any of your listeners ever had our old school Omny radio app, but essentially Long wanted to build a personalized radio service.

So he wanted to be able to, on his way to work, whether that’s on his device or in his car, he wanted to get a tailored audio stream that played his best music, read out his calendar reminders from his Facebook or his Outlook calendar and also married spoken word content together and he basically wanted these little beautiful bite-sized clips or bits of information that in twenty minutes he can set his day up in the best way possible.

So we fired that up four years ago now. The guys had a bit of a text to speech software that they created, called Sound Gecko. And they used that in the back end of Omny Radio using fancy algorithms and took it to market and got really quite a good lot of attraction and we took it to a Southern Cross Austereo in the early days, the biggest player in terms of where our pivot came from. We took it to SDA and said, ‘You’ve got great content. You’ve got a wonderful podcast. Can we put the content into Omny Radio?’ But at the time the podcast is two hours long. It was just a continuous stream and we found that there wasn’t enough bite-sized content, there just wasn’t, to make this perfect consumer play that Long had envisioned would work. So they said ‘This sounds great. We’d love to do that’ but we have no way to actually get our content from air to online.

Jürgen:
Hmmmnnn

Sharon:
And so the guys sat down and had a bit of brainstorm with everyone and Omny Studio was born. So Omny Studio was the B to B player that we put together in terms of helping move radio stations from on air to online in seconds. So Andrew and the guys built a bit of pipe technology that captures the live stream coming out of radio. And this is something that no one else in the world has. So we basically record everything and create an archive for the radio networks and then they are able to go in and using our tools that you’d be used to, Jürgen, is chop and change, edit and add mid roll add markers and then basically clip it and put it into their podcast or social media sharing.

And so it’s really Omny Studio was born out of radio with a long ideal of helping build up the content for Omny Radio consumer app and what we fell into while we were building this program for radio is that it was actually a very very powerful CMS for podcast hosts as well. So people like yourself that are looking more for an enterprise toolset, come across to Omny radio when they’re ready to take their podcast to the next level.

It took six weeks to launch the first version and then, that was in March 2015 and we are about, almost two years strong now with Omny Studio, the platform.

Jürgen:
Yeah it is really a great platform and I moved to Omny Studio probably in maybe August or so, I started playing around with it and September I moved the whole podcast over and we even brought out over all the old episodes because not only all the tools that you mentioned but also the whole analytics is just so easy to access compared to what I was using before and it really does make it really easy for people to actually set up a podcast very quickly, provided they have the equipment of course the hardware to run a podcast.

Sharon:
Correct. Yeah. We don’t do the recording of the podcasts ourselves, we do for radio that has our tool set in their studios, but otherwise as soon as you upload it and we’d like to think that we have, probably the best and most enterprise like toolset out there and especially, we pride ourselves on our analytics which gives a granular insight into how listeners interact with our podcasts.

Jürgen:
That’s right. Yeah. I was quite surprised, I found out some new things that I didn’t realize before, where people were listening to the podcast.

Sharon:
Yes [chuckles]

Jürgen:
It is quite enlightening the level of granularity in the analytics that you have going to.

Sharon:
Yeah we’re proud of it. I mean one of the biggest problems in podcasting at the moment, is that data and the measurement, so it’s one of the things we want to fix.

Jürgen:
Hmnnn.. Of course you’ve got some quite high profile clients, leading content producers in various fields who are on the podcast right? You mentioned radio and there’s some TV, I think as well that obviously come across to podcasting as a result, also of your evolvement, if you like and also a lot of prominent podcasters.

Sharon:
Yeah correct. We were lucky in the early days that we had an amazing network of advisors and we made some pretty good hires in terms of who they knew in the industry and word just spread pretty quickly. So we’ve got at the moment I think at one stage we had 70% of Australian iTunes top hundred podcasters in our platform.

Jürgen:
Wow

Sharon:
So we’ve been really lucky and then obviously as radio grows – we look after Southern Cross Austereo and Macquarie Media at the moment in Australia and then all the way across the globe, Singapore Holdings and Emirates in the States, Crock Media, Chorus in Canada. So we got a pretty good footprint and word is getting out, when you want to take things to the next level you would come across to Omny. I’m hoping in the next couple of weeks we can announce a few more large names as well, so keep your eyes peeled for those.

Jürgen:
Okay. [laugh] Well tell us a little bit more about the power of podcasting, because I think this is a really growing thing and a lot of people have been following the big podcasters that have been doing it for years and years and take in their content and don’t think of doing something themselves.

Sharon:
No it’s true. I mean podcasting has going around for over a decade now. It was an accidental gift from Apple almost just hiding that little pebble button on someone’s phone and it became popular, didn’t it? And then some say it’s gone through a second renaissance with Serial coming out in 2006. And podcasting is amazing because it’s the most personal form of audio you will ever find so right now your visitors feel like they’ve got a relationship with you because you’re right in their ears. You’re with them and people almost feel like their friends with the podcasting host. There’s a level of trust and connection there, which is kind of second to none.

It’s just phenomenal. I mean it’s just research out at the moment – I know that everyone has mixed feelings about putting adds and things,
but at the end of the day advertising does pay the bills for a lot of these content makers and it was Edison Research just released some great figures that say that people are more likely to be sixty percent more likely to buy a product they heard advertised by a podcast host because that level of trust is just so high.

It’s phenomenal. I think it’s going to be interesting on the next twelve months as well because at the moment nothing really quite beats that linear experience in the car of just turning your radio on. But audio on demand, I can pick whatever it is I’m listening to on my phone. Albeit I’m about forty episodes behind my favorite podcasts at the moment.

Jürgen:
[chuckles]

Sharon:
[chuckles] Life keeps getting on the way but it’s just a phenomenal platform for whatever message you’re trying to get across. And it’s so accessible as well, like anyone can fire it up at any point right?

Jürgen:
That’s right. Yeah.

Sharon:
You don’t have to have a huge budget or anything. I don’t know how you got starte, Jürgen but it’s relatively easy as a medium.

Jürgen:
Exactly yeah. Well I got encouraged to do it by one of my mentors who I think is also a customer of yours, Troy Dean.

Sharon:
Oh okay.

Jürgen:
He encouraged me to start my own podcast around innovation and I did that and worked out how to set it all up on the the blog and all the bits and pieces. I have to say that going back, I wouldn’t even remember how to do all the things that I did at the time and if you have a setup with Omny Studio it’s so much easier. So I think that’s one of the things I really like about Omny Studio – it does make it really easy for somebody to set it up, without a lot of technical know how, as long as they’ve got the hardware to do the recordings and some recording software and a little bit of editing skill on audio recording or if they want to do video content.

Sharon:
Right.

Jürgen:
The rest of it’s pretty easy. I like what you said about the trust factor that builds up and I read the blog post you wrote recently about the advertising with all the stats there, which is quite fascinating and I’ve had people ask me about advertising on my podcast.

I’ve been a bit hesitant about that, but I still I do my own advertising in the sense of, I will recommend things that I believe in and that I use myself and in a sense that’s advertising, even though usually I don’t get paid for.

Sharon:
[chuckles]

Jürgen:
But if you have a conversation with friends or business colleagues you’ll tell them hey I’ve had this great experience with this product so why don’t you try it for your needs. I think it’ll help you do whatever it is you do . That’s essentially what you do on the podcast and with your audience, if you have that level of trust that certainly carries a lot of weight.

Sharon:
Correct. Yup. Correct.

Jürgen:
Alright, so in terms of your own sales process, you mention it’s pretty much word of mouth. Is that what you do or do you have any other structure in place?

Sharon:
Yeah. It’s interesting. A lot of it is word of mouth for podcasting. I guess for that longer tail of podcasters, mostly they just find us on forums or people talking about us. Some online advertising for a little while was working really very well for us. On the larger end of town with the radio clients, it’s really just about introductions and being around. We go to a lot of forums, a lot of conferences, mostly in the States, which I think is probably one of the hardest things about doing business as a start-up from Australia is that you’re so far away from everyone. You have to get on a plane and fly for, I think last year in October, our CTO and I got on a plane, flew for 20 hours to go to a 3 day conference and then flew back and that was a whirlwind trip to the States.

Jürgen:
[chuckles]

Sharon:
But yeah those work the best for us. And then also firing up relationships. It’s just partnerships, partnerships, partnerships. We’re lucky that we have got a large amount of advocates and we fit a lot of holes I suppose in their marketplace. So it’s just about finding those opportunities and by leveraging them really.

Jürgen:
I hear what you said about the travel. It reminds me of my corporate life. I used to do stuff like that but not for myself.

Sharon:
No.

Jürgen:
Yeah.

Sharon:
Luckily air travel has gotten a lot better. I find a bad when in 2017 and people are bemoaning air travel when it used to take six months to get anyway by ship.

Jürgen:
Yeah. That’s right. [laugh]

Sharon:
We’re soaring through the air majestically and we’re complaining about the fact that it’s 2-hour delay..[laugh]

Jürgen:
And actually the last trip I did on an aircraft, I spent the entire time when I didn’t fall asleep listening to podcasts so that’s a good time to take time out …[laugh]

Sharon:
Yeah.. We’ve got a partnership with Qantas that basically puts a few of our more popular podcasts into their inflight system as well.

Jürgen:
That it’s good.

Sharon:
You don’t even need to download them before you get on the plane anymore, depending I suppose, on and how niche your podcast preferences are.

Jürgen:
I was actually lucky enough to have Internet access in the aircraft at the time so it was all pretty easy.

Sharon:
What a world we live in!

Jürgen:
Exactly !

Sharon:
What a time to be alive, Jürgen!

Jürgen:
Yes. I remember the time when the first kind of phones, that were in the back of the seat, you had to play some exorbitant amount and everybody got really excited. Gee you could phone home in the aircraft now. People were doing it just for the novelty.

Sharon:
Yes.

Jürgen:
All right. What are some of the challenges you’re facing then in Omny Studio?

Sharon:
I suppose the challenges we face really are the same as everyone else faces. I think that the problems that way come up against just normal business problems – sales speed, cycles of radio can be monolithic [laugh]

Jürgen:
Hmnnn

Sharon:
And glacial in pace at times. Like I said before, I suppose, if you ask you more about startups space being in Australia and in podcasting web. It’s flourishing but it’s still about three or four years behind where the States is in terms of maturity as an industry, where it’s still quite nascent in Australia. That’s probably the largest impedement that we’ve got and we’re working tirelessly to combat it. Just the other day one of our podcasts, Middle Empire Podcast, got an article written about them in the New Zealand Herald and it’s fantastic. It’s fantastic when you see this kind of mainstream media pick up an article about podcasts and I suppose that’s the one of the biggest challenges that we’re working most tirelessly on, is just a keep pushing the word out because still only 50% of people know what podcasts are and in order to bring that into the mainstream media market, it needs to be a 75-80%.

Jürgen:
That’s right. It’s interesting because a lot of people listen to podcasts but in terms of how do you …. Well people listen to them but I mention my podcast to quite a few people who said, ‘How do I access it? What do I do?’

So you’re right. It’s not mainstream yet. People don’t realize that if you’ve got a mobile phone, if you’ve got a computer, you can listen to podcasts. In fact I think in some of the modern cars you can actually directly listen to podcasts through the radio systems.

Sharon:
You can. So their connecting car players into a few models and you’ll be able to… I’m not sure what distribution channels are streaming at the moment. I have a feeling it’s going to be iHeart and a couple of others but it’s going to become more and more prevalent. Realistically once and I know I keep touching it but as soon as advertising money starts flowing strongly into the space, that’s when you’re going to see that it becomes truly mainstream.

Jürgen:
All right so how big is Omny Studio now? How many people you have working for you?

Sharon:
Ah so we have…Gosh eight people at the moment working for us. So it’s still quite a small team, quite tiny that way. We are very lucky at who we hired in terms of knowledge of the industry and the speed at which they build. Often times you can say to someone, ‘Oh wouldn’t it be great if it did x and on Monday you come in..’ and they’re like, ‘Oh I built this prototype…what do you think of it?’

Jürgen:
[chuckles] Over the weekend. Yeah.

Sharon:
Right, which is the most amazing thing. I mean coming out of small to medium business, but still kind of corporate IT, to see the pace and speed at which things could be done. It’s phenomenal.

Jürgen:
Yeah. That’s the magic of small business isn’t it? You don’t get things moving slowly like in the big corporates.

Sharon:
No. No. But you’ve got to balance that – just because you can build something fast and release something fast, the rest of the world is still moving at its own pace. And so you still have to fire up these partnerships with lots of strategics or corporates and they are entrenched in the speed we’ve been able to break out of.

Jürgen:
Yeah

Sharon:
And likewise with the consumer – just because we move fast, it doesn’t mean people are going to buy it fast.

Jürgen:
That’s right. Yeah. That’s frustrating sometimes isn’t it? Because I’ve got a situation..

Sharon:
That’s just the way it is.

Jürgen:
[chuckles] Yeah. I’ve gotten a situation at the moment where I have a proposal for a large corporate, and it’s frustrating how long the decision takes.

Sharon:
Yeah. Exactly.

Jürgen:
Alright. How do you meet the challenge of growing so quickly as you probably have with this and keep things on track and keep the wheels from falling off?

Sharon:
So it’s probably two aspects. First is something which is I suppose one of the questions you asked in terms of what it is that makes me do what I do and that’s the people aspect. I’m a firm believer in being transparent and authentic to everyone that I come across and I am an open book when it comes to what’s happening with my team and our partners and if you just communicating regularly with everyone, you’re moving in the same direction and the wheels tend to not fall off, which is the one thing I truly believe in and the other is just to put trust in the people around you who are building tools and the platform.

I have nothing but faith in the dev team that we’ve got and the applications and tools that they’ve put in place from a technical perspective, in order to monitor things. Unfortunately that does mean that they find all kinds of unique ways of being alerted to any problems that might happen at two o’clock in the night.

Jürgen:
[chuckles]

Sharon:
There’s a wonderful application called Pager Duty for anyone who works dev. It calls you if any of your alerts go off, so a number of times in the early days, our CTO got 2 o’clock phone calls waking him up to let him know that a particular service has blipped just because of an internet hiccup!

Jürgen:
Wow. I guess that’s one of the risks of a global business if you’ve got something that’s streaming live all the time and it stops working, you need to be able to address it.

Sharon:
Correct. Yeah.

Jürgen:
It’s the benefit of having global teams down the track.

Sharon:
Correct. Yeah we’re very lucky at the moment in a way that it’s been built. And I think at the moment we’re hitting something ridiculous like 99.95% uptime. But yeah as you scale you’ve got to start thinking about that and that’s what we’re thinking about this year, because of the volume of customers that we bring on board now. Almost a mini-pause on building new features for the next month and need to make sure that our platform has the checks and balances to be able to handle this moving forward, because we deal with people’s content. It’s media and it’s radio and it’s podcasters that are trying to make a living by doing this and we take that seriously. We can’t stuff around.

Jürgen:
Do you have any issue with people saying you’re hosting the content and how’s the ownership situation work?

Sharon:
Sure. We generally get asked that in the first few minutes of meeting people. We’ve always been Switzerland in terms of this. There are those out there that want to control the host and we firmly believe the content belongs to the content owner. So if any time Jürgen, you and I fall out of love as business colleagues, your content is yours. We will help you migrate off the system and even put it wherever you like. We obviously don’t put ads or try to do anything to the content that you don’t want to have happen yourself, so we give publishers all the tools to do what they want with their content and at the end of the day, it’s theirs and we are just a house that it just lives in temporarily if they want it to be there.

Jürgen:
That’s a great model I think too. You say something on your Linkedin profile, about understanding how the role of the visionary and an executer work hand in hand together. Tell us a little bit more about. It just kind of fascinated me.

Sharon:
Well. I suppose I get asked a few times every month in terms of moving, especially in the early days, I guess my background has always been Ops – I’m HR, I’m Finance, I’m Operations and then moving into the CEO role which was a jolt to the system at first.

Jürgen:
[chuckles]

Sharon:
Because suddenly, you’re not just responsible for keeping it ticking in the background. You are the face of the company and you’re seeing the strategy and so you have to know where the industry is going at one point. It was also understanding how, I cannot come out with any kind of weird and wonderful strategies, but I have to have the business behind me to back it up. I think that interlink is really important for me. I think it’s really beneficial to understand how those two roles work.

At the moment I am both CEO and COO. But hopefully in the coming months, once I get someone to pop into the COO role, I’ll be able to lead them even better for it, because I’ll understand how those two roles work hand in hand.

Jürgen:
Okay. So you’ve got two hats on at the moment.

Sharon:
Yeah correct.

Jürgen:
Yeah. This has been really fascinating. I really appreciate you being open and honest and really transparent with us here. I think it might be time we move on to the Buzz, which is our innovation round and it’s designed to help our audience and they’re primarily innovators and leaders in their field to get some tips from your experience. So I got five questions that I’ll ask and hopefully we’ll get some really insightful answers from you.

Sharon:
Okay I promise nothing, but I’ll do my best.

Jürgen:
[laugh] Ah okay

What’s the number one thing you think anyone needs to do to be more innovative?

Sharon:
This could probably be controversial.

Jürgen:
That’s good.

Sharon:
But I’m completely honest to the point that I have no filter between my brain and my mouth sometimes! I think the number one thing people need to be more innovative is to STOP TRYING TO BE innovative.

Jürgen:
Yeah [laugh]

Sharon:
I feel that people have started using innovation as the name of a product. And it’s not! Innovation is a fantastic, modern way of saying what people should do as a good business. It’s finding better ways to do things. It’s to find faster ways of doing things. It’s to optimize performance and speed without sacrificing anything fundamental to your business.

Jürgen:
Hmnnnn

Sharon:
So I think what people need to do is don’t worry so much about whether what you’re doing or not is innovative. If it feels right, do it. If it, within reason obviously, if it makes a part of your business even 5% better without sacrificing anything more than zero percent and that’s innovation. I think that’s what you should do.

Jürgen:
Hmmnn. That’s fantastic! I love that. It’s the first time somebody has actually given that answer I think. But it really is a great answer. I do this talk on innovation and in there, I have this definition and I say innovation can be incremental or can be transformative, but the definition isn’t that it’s something that’s totally out of this world, that nobody’s ever thought of before. Incremental improvement is also innovation and so the idea of stop trying to look for that big breakthrough all the time is probably consistent with that.

Sharon:
Yeah.

Jürgen:
Alright so what’s the best thing you’ve done to develop new ideas and new products?

Sharon:
For me, it’s about listening to the people who are around me, who are smarter than I am. Be the best person that you know at surrounding yourself with people that are smarter than you, better than you at almost everything, if not everything.

And listen to the words that are coming out of their mouth. If someone on the coal face of what it is that you are doing in the industry and in your business is telling me that the number one gripe they’ve got is X and they think Y would solve it, get people into a room. It doesn’t have to be long thing. Do stand up meetings and just workshop it and try it. Put trust in your team to roll something out, because you’re not going to be the one who comes up with everything. It’s about the people that are around you, customers, partners, employees, peers. They’re going to to be the ones that, more often than not, come up with the good ideas.

Jürgen:
Hmmnnn.. Yeah that’s fabulous. I like that. On so many levels, you mentioned surround yourself by really good people and even people smarter than you and defer to what they’re telling you when you know that they’ve got good ideas which is part of being open and transparent and I love the idea of stand up meetings too.

Sharon:
Oh yeah. Meetings are like being killed by a thousand tiny little paper cuts and you just want one huge piano to fall out of the sky and so I’m a big believer in stand up meetings. People‘s legs get tired. You talk about what you need to talk about in five minutes and then you’re out of their.

Jürgen:
And then you get away.Yeah.That’s right. It’s beautiful.

Do you have a favorite tool or a system for improving productivity and allowing you to focus on those other things we’ve talked about?

Sharon:
I rely heavily on email. My inbox is my to-do list and the rest of it I kinda just store in my mind. Productivity wise, we’ve got a range of tools that we use. Pipedrive is a great CRM especially for startup level businesses. If you want to track goals I’d take a look at Asana which is great for keeping things on track; for what I do in my day to day when I want to just have a quick glance at figures in terms of making quick decisions about what we’re doing, people like Baremetrics and Visible Data. They do it great stuff as well. So I think it’s not one thing, but I have to have an array of things. Not too many either. You can die by Saas platforms sometimes…

Jürgen:
[laugh] That’s right. Yeah. Is it Baremetrics?

Sharon:
Yes. Baremetrics.

Jürgen:
Okay. I missed that. So we got Pipedrive, Asana, Baremetrics and Visible Data. So we will have links to all of these so people can check them out. Asana is one that we use all the time so that’s great for tracking projects. I’ve had a brief look at Pipedrive. That’s a good one too and the others I will have to check out myself as well.

Sharon:
Asana is great. There’s another one called Lattice HQ which is like a cut down version of Asana. So if it’s just a quick glance with KPI and goals, that you need, that’s actually quite good as well.

Jürgen:
Alright, we’ll have links to that so people can check them out.

What’s the best way to keep a project or client on track?

Sharon:
Yeah. Just communication. Set the right expectations from the get go. Do checkins without being overwhelming to your staff and the clients. You don’t want to feel – I never want to feel like I’m putting any onerous pressure or standing over anyone’s shoulder. But you need to create an atmosphere where if something does go off track, people feel comfortable enough to come and tell you about it once it happens and once they’ve given it a good crack at fixing it themselves. For me it just comes down to people in being open and have then come and talk to you about it.

Jürgen:
That’s a great advice. Setting expectations is really important, but something that people often forget because they’re in a rush to get into the details and the nitty gritty and so they forget to set expectations. Make sure everyone’s on the same page at the start.

Sharon:
Right.

Jürgen:
What’s the one number one thing anyone can do to differentiate themselves?

Sharon:
You just got to be yourself, isn’t it?

Jürgen:
[chuckles]

Sharon:
This is the trouble with where we are now as a community especially in startup land but you can see it everywhere is that now everyone expects you to have this personal brand.

Jürgen:
Yeah

Sharon:
And you have to be a thought leader and you have to be a key person of influence. You don’t! You just have to be yourself. You just have to be knowledgeable about what it is you’re talking about and if you don’t know something, don’t lie about it. Be authentic. Be you, warts and all and that’s what you can do to differentiate yourself.

Jürgen:
Yeah. And certainly that does differentiate yourself because there’s nobody else like you.

Sharon:
No. It’s true.

Jürgen:
And it comes back to your answer to the first question, stop trying to be innovative. So stop trying to be somebody else. Stop focusing on differentiating yourself and just be yourself because then you’ll be different.

Sharon:
And try to cut down on the buzzwords that everybody uses like synergies and trajectories – use real words. That’s probably how I would prefer it the world to go

Jürgen:
I struggled with that in the corporate world and I hope I’ve gotten rid of most of it.

Sharon:
I’m guilty of it myself as well.

Jürgen:
What’s the future for you and for Omny Studio then?

Sharon:
World domination !?

Jürgen:
[laugh]

Sharon:
I think this year we’re going to double down on the enterprise side of things.

What is coming next I suppose in terms of the next couple of months? We did a lot of work last year, building out, I suppose an incredible feature set especially for the podcasting side of things. We built videos, visualized audio. We released a lot of analytics. And this year it’s going to be about refining those tools, that we’ve already got and continuing to help publishers monetize. Money is a huge one for the industry at the moment. In 2017 I think everyone is going to be talking about that and also the measurement as well.

So we’ve got great analytics currently that run through our systems, so we call it consumption analytics and we can see to the seconds, drop out start, stop, skips. Probably Tuesday or Wednesday next week, I don’t know when this actually it’s getting released, Jürgen but I might be giving people a sneak peak. We are officially going to launch consumption analytics for Apple iTunes podcasts. So for people who are actually listening on their phones and streaming the podcast we’re actually going to be able to represent about 30% data back to you as the content maker to see how people are also interacting with your podcast, live on their phones.

Jürgen:
Ah okay. That’s fascinating. So you heard it first here on the InnovaBuzz podcast!

Alright now, where do you see the podcast industry heading? You mentioned a little bit before it’s kind of perhaps slow progress until advertisers get on board or until it’s accepted that advertising needs to be part of this whole thing.

Sharon:
Yeah I think that this year we’re going to see, Nick Qualm put it the best, I’ll use the term I just said I didn’t want anyone ever to use.

Jürgen:
[chuckles]

Sharon:
He’s thought leader in the industry and he references what he calls a stratification of podcasting layers this year. I firmly believe that you’re going to see a more meteoric rises of larger podcast networks. I think MamaMia is going to do great things this year. I think that you’re going to see more and more shows that people start talking about, like ” The Moth”. People going on tours – ” My Dad Wrote A Porno” is coming to Australia to tour. That’s phenomenal. That’s amazing that podcasts are actually taking shows on the road and able to sell out a venue like they would a concert.

Jürgen:
Hmnnnn

Sharon:
So there’s things going a lot this year. I think that whether we like it or not, measurement is going to become even higher on people’s radars. I think that the only way they were going to get money into the space from advertisers is they’re going to expect and start demanding to see the same level of data they get from other audio sources, because that’s a real gray area in podcasting at the moment. What’s a download, what’s a listen and you look at radio and people who are putting money into radio ads, are able to go down they call, average quarter hours. So every fifteen minutes they know exactly how many people listen and podcasting is going to be looked at in the same way. So this year is going to be a lot of time high scale advertisers wanting to get into the space and a lot of measurement and a lot more excitement, I think for podcasting. It is going to be wild ride, it’s going to really good year!

Jürgen:
Do you see an interface between – you mentioned a little bit of live streaming before – an interface between podcasting and live streaming, so that an event say a podcast that has a live audience that’s actually live streamed to people that can’t physically make it there?

Sharon:
Oh that would be fantastic! Well at the moment the shows that do go onto the platform have been recorded, because there’s still a little bit of post-production that needs to go into it. There’s nothing stopping podcasters from sending to Facebook Live or having an added element to their show. I suppose the question becomes – how will I answer this – if you ask me if I think people should, I think that good content is good content regardless of how it’s delivered. I think that even though people are used to listening in the ears, the beauty of it is that they can go and do it anyway, can’t they? Like running or in a car, etc. and video adds a different layer to that. Video is really engaging – it just depends. I hope so. I hope that someone continues to do something innovative in that area, but I don’t know if we’re going to actually see it. That’s a great question. I’m going to keep my eye on that. I’ll let you know if I come across it.

Jürgen:
Okay. It’s something I’ve thought about. I know that Zoom – we’re recording this episode on Zoom. I know that they have just recently released an interface where you can live stream to Facebook from a Zoom webinar.

Sharon:
Oh, okay. That’s exciting.

Jürgen:
Yeah that’s right. It’s great because before that from a desktop to live stream into Facebook was actually a little bit cumbersome.

Sharon:
Yeah. It’s the way world is going isn’t it? Everyone wants everything now, now, now on demand exactly when they want it. We don’t want to wait for an episode to be uploaded.

Jürgen:
Yeah

Sharon:
So I think it’d be interesting. I guess it just depends who wants to do what with their podcast. And that’s the beauty of having the control over it, you can do whatever you want, whenever you want with it.

Jürgen:
That’s right. Well this has been absolutely fascinating, Sharon and I really appreciate your time.

What’s a number one piece of advice you give to any business owner who wants to be a leader in their field?

Sharon:
Just consume information. Talk to, again I’ll touch on it again, but talk as much as you can, without being annoying, to people who are smarter than you. Listen to people and this is the challenge that people think that in order to be a thought leader, you need to get schooled by other thought leaders or you need to only talk up, in terms of a hierarchy. The most I learned from this industry, and I was fresh to it, is from a guy that we employed, Matt Saraceni. He is a true thought leader. He is amazing. You need to be humble. You need to ask questions, as embarrassing as they are when you first get going and you need to never stop asking questions from anyone else around you.

Jürgen:
Hmnnn.

Sharon:
And then be honest, take the information you’ve got, digest it and if you feel that something is untrue, then call it as untrue and if you can see it going in a different direction, do it and if you do it in a humble enough way, if you do it in a way that is not arrogant, that’s thought leadership. That’s when people want to ask you more questions about it because it’s a conversation and not a lecture.

Jürgen:
Yeah that’s a great advice and podcasting is one way to do that! I always come off this podcast thinking that I’ve learnt an awful lot, as I have today and also that it’s almost been like a personal master class. [chuckles]

Sharon:
[chuckles]

Jürgen:
So where can people reach out to you and say thank you for what you shared with us today.

Sharon:
Sure. I’m always contactable. There’s a press page for Omny Studio that has all of my details. But yes flick me an email, get me on LinkedIn, Sharon Taylor. There’s a lot of us, but hopefully you can find me or email me at [email protected] I’m always happy to have a chat and a coffee, a beer, anything really.

Jürgen:
I’ll post links to all of those in the show notes as well so that people can have them easily and they’ll know which Sharon Taylor on LinkedIn that they should look up.

Who would you like me interview on a future Innovabuzz podcast and why?

Sharon:
Oh.. oh well. That’s a great question. How many can I suggest?

Clive Dickens is amazing, what he does in terms of a digital media. He is the Chief Digital Officer at Seven West Media at the moment. He’s phenomenal.
Vijay Solanki – CEO of IAB Australia. He is amazing for audio.
Alistair Michener – Founder and CEO at Drawboard, is doing some pretty crazy things.

Jürgen:
Clive, Vijay and Alistair, look out for an invitation from us to the Innovabuzz podcast courtesy of Sharon Taylor of Omny Studio.

Sharon:
Fantastic!

Jürgen:
Sharon, thank you so much for sharing your time and insights with us today. I know you are really busy. I appreciate you taking time to come on the show. I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve learned a lot and I wish you all the best for Omny Studio and I know we’re going to keep in touch. We’re going to see each other soon for a coffee and I’ll continue to use Omny Studio obviously.

Sharon:
Oh, thank you. I’m really glad. Thank you so much for the time and to everyone – thank you for listening to me about things I find interesting in the last little while.

Jürgen:
Okay. Thanks Sharon.

Sharon:
Thanks so much Jürgen.

Wrap Up:

I really enjoyed talking to Sharon and learning more about Omny Studio and the things that lie in the future for podcasting. I hope you too, were inspired and learned from Sharon.

All the show notes for this episode will be at innovabiz.com.au/omnystudio, that is O-M-N-Y-S-T-U-D-I-O, all lowercase, all one word, innovabiz.com.au/omnystudio. That will have all the show notes as well as contact information for Sharon.

I want to remind our listeners about the challenge from Episode 6e with James Eder – There are only 7 days remaining, so every day, you should speak to ONE (at least) complete stranger. Every day! But not in a creepy way! The idea is to connect more people and who knows, what this might lead to – new business, new relationships, new opportunities!

Go up to someone while waiting in line or in an elevator or at lunch or when you’re at work, go up and just say, ‘Hey I was listening to a podcast and the person on the other end from London said I should just go to speak to one new person a day so would you mind If I speak to you?’

As James said in that interview, that will open up doors and opportunities. It’s about just going out there, being brave and just breaking the ice and see where it goes.

Introduce yourself and ask is there something you can help them with today.

I’ve been doing that nearly every day! And it does open up some interesting conversations – this week I’ve met a national road cycle champion and a military pilot!

To be eligible for our prize, you need to post on Facebook and Twitter “spoke to another stranger today” with the #newconnections, and anything else you want to add, then report back in the comments below the blog for Episode 63 on your experiences. For the best experience, we’ll have an awesome prize! But by connecting with new people, you’ll be winning in any case!

Let’s make this a movement – #newconnections

Now back to Sharon! She suggested three people for me to interview, on a future InnovaBuzz podcast. Clive Dickens, the Chief Digital Officer at Seven West Media; Vijay Solanki, CEO of IAB Australia and Alistair Michener, Founder and CEO at Drawboard. We’ll be busily sending out invitations!

So, Clive, Vijay and Alistair, keep an eye on your inboxes, for an invitation from me to the InnovaBuzz podcast, courtesy of Sharon Taylor from Omny Studio.

Thank you for listening all the way to nearly the end! If you like this podcast, subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher or Pocket Casts so you’ll never miss a future episode. While you’re there, you might leave us a review, just to let us know how we are doing. If there is anything you’d like us to cover, or questions you want answered on a future InnovaBuzz podcasts, please send them to us.

Until next time, I’m Jürgen Strauss from Innovabiz.

Remember, if you don’t innovate, you stagnate, so think big, be adventurous and keep innovating!

#NewConnections Challenge – with Prize

Remember our Challenge from Episode 63?  Time is running out!

For the next 7 days, every day, speak to ONE (at least) complete stranger.  Every day!  But not in a creepy way!  The idea is to connect more people and who knows, what this might lead to – new business, new opportunities!

Go up to a yet (to you) new person and just say, ‘Hey I was listening to a podcast and the person on the other end from London said I should just go to speak to one new person a day so would you mind If I speak to you?’

Introduce yourself and ask is there something you can help them with today.

To be eligible for our prize (we’ll work that out later, but it will be Awesome!), you need to post on Facebook and Twitter “spoke to another stranger today” with the #newconnections, and anything else you want to add, then report back in the comments below episode 63 on your experiences.  For the best experience, we’ll have an awesome prize!  But by connecting with new people, you’ll be winning in any case!

Let’s make this a movement – #newconnections

Listen to the Podcast

Jürgen Strauss

Jürgen is the chief innovator and founder of Innovabiz who partner with innovative business coaches to transform your online presence into a business generation platform that delivers exceptional results. You can find Jürgen on Google+ as well as on Innovabiz’ Twitter, Facebook
and Google+ Pages.

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