PIT Podcast: Effectively Doing a Lot with Tom Merritt
Jul 14, 2020 11:32 AM
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What's up everybody? Jay Miller here bringing another Productivity in Tech Podcast. I hope that your day has been great, and I hope that the conversation that I'm about tohave will make it even better on the line with me Today I have the host of the I Don't know if it's the first, but it is definitely in the
1st 3 podcasts that I ever listened to. Tom Merritt. He is the host of the Daily Tech News Show. He is also the co host work Insanity. Current Geek East Meets West. He is a published author of The Pilot X Series, the second book Trigger, Now available for digital download. And he is also a contributor to Tech Republic.
Tom, Did I get Everything
know, But I do weigh too much. And to be honest, it would be ridiculous to expect you
to get everything that covers more than enough. Thank you for having me, man.
Absolutely. And Tom is one of the few people that have been on this show more than once. Ah, he was actually a guest on what we call the before times
in that initial feed that was lost. But
I have always looked up to you, Tom, as
like, the idea of professionalism in podcasting, whether it is the stories of, like, I think, um, smr podcast Folks have said like
we have to jump in the call like, an hour early. We're going through nodes and everybody's got cues. And everything's, like all synchronized and and, you know, working with producers and and just jumping on board with patri on at a really early stage and and allowing that to
basically go from an empire with Was it seen at that you were with or
I was with Seen it for 2004 through 2010? Yeah,
I feel like the knowledge that I have on this is like nard war level? Probably not. Nor, uh, are you familiar with not, uh what is it? Nard war? No. What's Nard war? He is a Vancouver Ah, deejay that interviews like a lot of hip hop artists and the level of research that he goes through is absolutely scary at times. He's like, back in 1991 when you were, you know, doing you know, freestyles in the Bronx. You took this picture with run d m C And what were those shoes that you're aware? And he's like, Oh, you were wearing these? Yeah, I've brought a pair of those for you today.
Like, Yeah, it's crazy. The scary thing is, I didn't have to do any research. Like, you are very good at what you do in that
People know what Europe Teoh. They know,
like I'm always finding something new that you've done. And then I'm like, Okay, Wow. Like here. Here's this thing. And then I immediately start following it for years and years and years. Uh, can you say that that's, like, kind of the gist of Of the
I don't want to say, like your product or your brand Is that
do you think it's more like, Hi, I'm Tom Merit of DCNS fame. Or is it or is it now? Like I am Tom Merit and the people that know me know me.
Yeah, well, so thanks, man. Appreciate all the kind words I really don't know. It's something I'm always struggling to figure out is you know, what is that position? Ah, that is most common. I generally think it's probably host of daily tech new show because that is the show that I have with the largest number of listeners, and so it's more likely that somebody knows me from that
than anything else. And it is the heir to tech news today and buzz out loud, which were similar shows that I did before. So I sort of feel like when I have to introduce myself in a short period of time or if someone just asked me like, What's your show? And I don't want to get into, You know, all the side projects I have. I'll just say Daily technician Usually
I forgot one. It's a thing, another
that probably launched three since we started talking. That's just you can never give up
well, And that was something that, you know you mentioned earlier. Is that you? It's almost assigned that you do too much. Uh, how How are you balancing all of these different things?
Yeah, it's something
that I enjoy doing. I mean, that that is the key to all of it is that I have very carefully ah, whittled away the things I don't enjoy doing and have luckily been able to make what I enjoy doing my work, which then means I have to find time to do all the ideas that I have. And honestly, that's something I've only just recently solved because after I left twit Ah, and they replaced me. I had to start
on my own. I started as many things as possible, figuring nal of them would stick. But I needed to, you know, have a bunch of irons in the fire and most of them stuck. So for a long time, I was like, I don't have any room in my schedule to make something new And it wasn't until I brought on help for mostly for daily Tech news show,
but also for we're doing a reboot of of the current Keep podcast. Ah, for that as well that I loosened up enough to be able to say, Okay, now I can take some time away from time to time. Now I can have people you know, come in and and and do some of the heavy lifting, the producing, even script writing. Ah, and that allows me to kind of back off and be able to doom or without having to burn myself out. It was it was a big thing that had to be careful of was burned out. And the key to that was learning to let go where, you know, not even just trust, cause I trust all the people I work with just being able to say yes. Okay, I will. I will. I will let go of this, even though I enjoy doing it.
You know, that's that's been something that,
you know, you talked about burnout. Like I feel like burnout is one of those things. It's like a mental precursor to your body, physically burning out. Oh, yeah. Um, I kind of shared a little bit of the story with you, you know, beforehand. But like, it took my body literally breaking down for me to be like, Whoa, I need to dial things back a little bit and
some of the things that I miss and that I enjoy. And even now, like, productivity in tech is one of those things that every time I'm like, we're going to go on a break like by a month, I'm just like I want to do more interviews. I want toe do something else. I want to bring it out.
How have you prevented yourself from not starting projects. I know that's that. That's like the tough part, because, um I think Justin McElroy said it earlier this week on one of his podcast that he's now doing woodworking. But he doesn't want to talk about it, because if he talks about it to the Internet for more than Like a minute, there will be a new podcast for him,
right? Ah, it's It's tough. I mean, part of it is like you say, realizing that if you put too much stress on yourself mentally, it will affect you physically. And you know it's on all too common story that you know, you you have to have a scare
to make yourself adapt to. That s so keeping that in mind and paying attention to how you feel. Ah, and sort of associating, You know, if I take a break, if I take time off, if I don't do things, if I schedule things
to give myself time off, I feel better, like just making that connection, forcing yourself to make that connection, eso that you're not overworking yourself and you're not feeling guilty. In my case, I would feel guilty like I should be working I should be doing these things. I have these things I want to do. I enjoy them. Why am I not doing them? And the key was to say, Because you'll you'll hurt yourself. If you do that right, it's It's like too much of a good thing is always a danger. Ah, and and so if you enjoy doing something that that's no exception So, yeah, I mean, a
I don't know what
the the trick is, but I've just sort of emphasized to myself that there have to be limits. There have to be and we talk about this on work, insanity a lot. There have to be beginnings and ends to the workday. There have to be breaks where I'm not working. Ah, and I've just worked really hard to to take advantage of that and give myself permission to do that
Kind of, Ah, little tech. I guess nerd is something that I did. I use its will called keyboard maestro on my Mac and at quitting time. At my day job, I get a notification that says OK, timeto to wrap it up and it will start looking at what applications I have open and after two minutes. If I haven't closed all of like my community, my email, my communication, all that's up, it will promptly save everything and close them for me and say,
that's intense. Yeah, you know, I mean, you got to do what you gotta do, right?
Yeah, And I think that that's That's one of the things that, like you said When you enjoy the work that you do it, it does become hard to say. Okay, I'm gonna work until this time. And then after that, there are more important things that I need to tend to, like I have my wife and my daughter and, like I I want to.
I have to be aware of the time that I'm taking away from them, because if I spend all day, you know, at my computer, then all of a sudden I go in. I'm like, Oh, what's for dinner? And then I look around. It's like, Oh, wait, why's everybody asleep? And that's just that's not
good. It's not healthy. It's not healthy for my family. It's not healthy for me. Ah, it's It's one of those things that it takes again. It takes learning the hard way. Ah, before you're like, OK, whatever it takes for me to make sure that I go, I'm done right now.
That's what I have to dio.
Yeah, I've redirected some of my energy into things that will make me feel better entered and healthier. Eso You know, instead of going on to the next computer project, I'll get up and this, You know, the past couple of months, we we planted some carrots and tomatoes. So I go out and I work in the garden. And that gets me son because my doctors like you need vitamin D and and And then I get, you know, I've got a step count that I'm trying to hit. And then so that helps me get to that. And so, you know, I take some of that goal oriented behavior and and and try to redirect it into things that will help the problem rather than exacerbating it.
Absolutely. And I wanted to talk about that. I mean, how do you approach new things? I know that you think when we first spoke, you were launching Pilot X, and now I mean you're launching treat well. You've launched trigger at this point. I think there's some weird shipping stuff going on. Do toe?
Yeah. The book in the audiobook are out there, the print books. Still in a warehouse somewhere, I think. I think they're very close to being able to visit the warehouse safely, so hopefully those will start shipping.
Oh, man. Never thought you'd be would be having these kinds of numbers.
I can't get my books out of a warehouse. I mean, yeah, okay. It makes sense now, Um,
but yeah, like,
talk a little bit about, Like how That's very different than putting out a daily new show. Just the idea of didn't you Self published this one and the last one Or
now Pilot X and Trigger are through a company called Inc Shares that is a traditional publisher, but they they use crowd sourcing for choosing the books. So you have to get a certain number of people to commit to buying the book ahead of time, and then you'll be ableto publish. And and then it works. Just like any other publisher with editors and marketing and all of that. Ah, but I did sell, publish a lot of others before and really with the books. It's just again. It's something. It's a sideline that I enjoy. I have a task for myself, too, right? Or edit every day. Ah, and so it's just built in that I'm always working on something, even if it's for 10 minutes. Ah, I just I'm always working on something. And then eventually I'll have Manu scripts and I'll want to share those. I want toe to put those out and find a way to get those into the hands of people that might want to read it,
including, you know, joining the ranks of of, I guess, jury fame with a free newsletter. And we're not free news that What was it Free? Tom's, Tom's
three Top those letters dot com? Yeah, also, I mean really done at the behest of Justin Robbery of Jerry. Yeah,
I need to get up. I've met. I've met jury once and alive show he did in San Diego with broken and it was funny and strange at the same time because we're both Harston players and I mean, you know, jury, it's like
as much of a character as he is. He's also kind of like
Okay, cool. Everybody's happy I'm going to go like, take a breath and, like, step away and like you just catches me Playing Harston over in the corner is like, OK, and then, like that starts a whole conversation. I'm like, Yeah, great show data, data, data. Brian sucks sometimes because he supposed to been on this show like, three years ago. And he emailed me, like, two months ago. Like, hey was not supposed to do a thing
that sounds like Brian This'll wasn't supposed to be a dig on Brian, but yeah, like it. It is so interesting. And one of the reasons why I wanted to kind of question the idea of, like, product versus brand waas
You have put around you. Um and this is probably another question for, like, Scott Johnson who will have to have on the show and everyone else That's a part of this group. And, um,
like I won't say the diamond club, but like diamond group frog pants, Like all of these ancillary groups that are around what you're doing,
it seems like there is a
community that is
almost like YouTube mega star esque in that
you can talk about a thing such as folding at home, which, for those who don't know folding at home, was, ah, project where people could donate. Resource is on their own machine to help solve some of the algorithmic problems for figuring out a cure for covert 19 on. I think before that it was something else. But
the team jumps in and then becomes, like breaks the top 100 of like groups within a matter of weeks. And
there isn't really a
demand or request from the Group it czar from the leaders of the group. It is usually Hey, we're doing a thing. If you want to join in, Here you go. Wow, look at how many of you joined in? Has that been something that you've
you've kind of grown and nurtured over time? Or is it something that just kind of, like happened?
Yeah, it's It's
both, Ah, the the group of podcasters that I that I, you know, have on the show and communicate with and and and cross promote with those air friends, those air people that I'm like. I not only like you, but I like what you do. Ah, and and I think that's super important Ah, as part of it, Which is when I have Allison Sheridan on my show. When I have Chris Ashley on my show, when I have Scott Johnson on my show, you can tell that that we all respect and get along with each other. And I think that makes for better content that it really does. And then that, in turn, provides an example for the community building around all of these shows to be like OK, so they're respectful. They get along with each other. Uh, let's be the same lets you know, and people who don't really want to do that kind of wander often and and do something else I've said it before is you get the audience you deserve, which is, you know, maybe a little negative wayto to express that. But I think your audience is a reflection of your product of your show of of the of how you present yourself, um,
and and the community that I have has long roots. I worked for a company called Tech TV back in the early two thousands, which had an incredible community. I saw how a good community works there and at Cnet tried to take a lot of those lessons that I learned there and bring them to creating content there and then doing the same a twit with Leo Laporte, who is also masterful at managing a community. Ah, and then by the time I got to daily tech news show, I felt like I knew the things to do to make sure that you had a fun, healthy community that was beneficial not only for your show but for the people in it.
I want to give some some, like actual tangible help to those out there that might be thinking of following maybe not the tech news route, but
building some form of community around content that they do. What What are some of those things that I guess people starting out
need to be cognizant of and ultimately need to do to? I can't say to guarantee success because that's not possible. But Teoh truly give them the best possible
chance at building something similar to what you've done.
Yeah, I mean, some of it is luck, some of its longevity Ah, but but there there are some things I think I can pull out that might be useful to folks. Ah, and one is, you know, being genuine, being yourself being authentic. People will notice that they were, and then they will gather around that. And it will be very easy for you to maintain that because it's you Ah, and will help you avoid a lot of problems in the future because you are just being you. And so when you make mistakes, your audience will be more understanding because they know like, Oh, well, I understand him because he's always been or her or whatever. Ah, I understand them because they have been themselves with me. And so I I get what's going on, uh, also giving your community of voice. I think a super important, and it is as simple as reading emails. I mean, it could take all kinds of other forms. It could be Twitter and Instagram and Facebook groups and discords and slacks and and all of that, and those are all great ways to do it, too. But just giving your community of voice in what you do, I think, is super important. And that's one of the lessons I learned way back a tech TV like just reading someone's email on a show
really does make their day. Ah, and they and they will become a fan forever
in a lot of cases just because of that moment. But it also builds dialogue. And so it shouldn't just be one way. It's It should also, you know, you should be able to have conversations with people. And again it could just be over email, uh, or in chats or discords or whatever, but having
some way to bring it your community into your show so that they feel a part of it. So they are a part of it and and also, uh, addressing people back so that they feel like you are, in fact listening for for at the beginning that's so easy. If you're starting out, you won't get overwhelmed. You won't have too many people writing in, so you can personally answer every email you get and
you can be selective.
You don't You don't have to read every single email on the show because you do want tohave. The feedback you include in the show be representative of the kind of feedback you'd want from your community. But if you're communicating back to people then you can explain that you could explain. Oh, the reason I didn't, you know, use your contribution was because of X, Y and Z.
difficult. Sometimes people will get upset and you have to be ready for that. That's part of community management, but it's it's really important to to try to do that. Ah, and to be transparent about how you're doing it so that people understand.
You know, I think one of the
most memorable times for me was probably the first time that I felt like I had any type of knowledge to contribute
to D. T and s And funny enough, who was actually from the morning stream because you were in Scott we're talking about, um I want to say it was e a removing the Tetris app from the APP store and I immediately e mailed in Onley because, like a week prior to that and I'm a big Tetris fan. Um but a week prior to that, I had watched like the to our long by, like, documentary Ah, Alexey pageant not who is the creator of Tetris and so still fresh in my mind. I had all of this knowledge. And I was like,
I can't wait to tell like, you know, Tom and Scott both about Like, I forgot what I remember. There was, like, something that was stated. They were like, Oh, I wonder why they're doing this or what?
How the Russian government makes money from Tetris?
Exactly. And I was like, Yeah, I mean, Russia. It's still kind of makes a little bit off of that. But there has been the terrorist organization and everything else that now works with Alexey Pajitnov to help. Kind of
make sure he's taking care of because he can't technically get paid from Tetris because he built it using
equipment that he was using when he worked for the Russian government. Um, and in the end, I think the coolest part of that was the reply emails of just like Oh, that's cool. I did not know that. And then Scott saying Now I just want to play Tetris 99.
So I definitely agree that
even when even when a reply like I knew my new my long winded response, there was no reason it ever needed to be aired because it was much more information than anyone could digest in, like, a couple of sentences. But just the fact that I knew that it was seen and I knew that it was responded to and it wasn't like, Oh, hey, great. Great insight. Thanks for the information. It was okay. Wow, This actually resonated Some kind of emotional feeling. And this is what that feeling Waas And to me, I thought that that meant the world to me in a way that I don't think that that you are Scot could ever imagine. Because that's what I was hoping. I was hoping that, like, I would strike a chord and be like, Oh, yeah, cool. That's awesome.
Yeah. Yeah, well, and it's tough because they're gonna people be people who write in with something that they think is really important that maybe you you already know, right? Like like, if if you were doing this and someone wrote in to tell you about this this documentary about Tetris, you'd be like, Well, yeah, I already saw that. So, you know, it can be tricky. Yeah, you're not going to be able to make everybody's day all the time. Ah, but even when you just acknowledge it and And like I said, especially at the beginning, when you can like, I can't reply to every single person anymore. I try to I do read everything. I try to respond to his many as I can, but in the early times you can. And just that acknowledgement will help people, you know, really feel a part of your community.
I have enjoyed all of the different things that we have we've talked about, but I I would definitely want to give us enough time for this last question. Because
you look a tech
daily. You work with your community daily. You're trying new phones. You're trying new tools.
What is the state of tech for you these days? How are you feeling about
how politicized technol technology companies air becoming how
politicized? I guess everything is becoming these days, but that don't worry about that part. Um, but yeah, how
when you look at new tech or new technology, do you think Oh, this is cool? Or do you think this is something that now I have to cover or I have to do because it's my job?
Yeah, I I definitely love doing this. I love solving the puzzle of what goes in the show every day and and figuring out like what's really behind
this or that story like today that the day that we're recording this and I know this will date this a little bit if you really pay attention. But, uh, they were recording this. Germany released their covert 19 app. Now I could have just said Germany released their their covert 19 contact tracing app and be done with it. But I also noticed that France
was had recently had problems with their at because they were using a different platform. And I noticed that the European Union had announced they wanted to do a, ah, an interoperability project between all the different countries in Europe. And so it was funded to be like, Oh, these three stories are one story. How do I, you know, connect those dots? I just really enjoy doing that. And
I feel like
now I've been doing this long enough now feels, ah, lot like the early to mid two thousands because back in the early to mid two thousands, everybody was saying, Well, you know the dot com bust, That's it. You know what? What's gonna happen. There isn't anything new. These tech companies didn't work out. Ah, and that's a different thing that what we're experiencing now. But there's a similar flavor to it, which is, well, these tech companies, they're too big. They've stifled all the innovation. That's it. What do we do now? And to me, it's really exciting to be in that space where we don't know. We don't know what the next big new thing is gonna be. We don't know when the Google
Microsoft is goingto happen to Google. You know, like we these companies were the ones that disrupted the companies of the nineties. Now they're huge. Uh, who's going to disrupt them? And the fact that it's not obvious to me is exciting. It's not. It's not depressing. It's like we haven't seen him yet. It could come from anywhere. You know, the most recent thing. We have to point to his tic tac. Ah, and some people may roll their eyes and like a great chick talk, you know, a bunch of kids making videos. It's like, Yeah, but you were rolling your eyes at Facebook. If you were having that same approach in 2007. Ah, and look where that got us So I don't know it z me. It's It's super, it's super fun and it's super exciting to watch that story continue to unfold. And we're in the build up of suspense to know when the next twist is gonna happen.
Well, I am personally looking forward to you covering that twist whenever it does happen, because again,
de et nous, I love that you have put it in a place that it feels it feels stronger than it's ever been. It feels like it's definitely not going anywhere, anytime soon. And they even let you take a break every now and then to come on little shows like this.
Ah, yeah, man, it's It's It's fun. I'm glad it feels strong. It certainly feels good from within two. And I've gone from I'll be honest, like the 1st 4 years I was just, like is gonna fall apart at any moment, and I just know it. I was gonna keep this ball in the air, keep juggling as long as I can. Ah, and have finally come around, you know, in its 60 year to being like, Oh, you know, what this means. Stick around. This
may have something here, so it feels good
that that's interesting that you say that because that was me for the 1st 3 years of pit. It was just like, How do I make this better? How do I make it? You know, larger numbers, bigger downloads. Maybe I can advertise all these things. And then it got toe like Year Four. And now we're in your five, and it's like,
You know what? I just want to enjoy having good conversations and and you'll hear a little bit of bad up as we get ready to wrap up the conversation. But But, Tom, I've enjoyed this, but we haven't after show to get to. So before we do that, please let everyone know where they can find out about the 14 15 16 17 things that you're working on at this moment.
Sure, I try to keep everything up to date over a tom Merritt dot com. That's two hours and two teas. Ah, you can go there and and find pretty much everything I do. Ah, and the most recent thing that I've launched is no a little Mauritz. Ah, it's an independent podcast available in iTunes Spot a vile all those kinds of places. Ah, or if you're a patron of detainees, you'll get it there and it's just deep dives. Ah, it's it's why they let me leave Dtn s every once in a while to just work on one topic for an entire day and really, really dive into it. So check that out. No, a little more.
And I will have a link to your website as well as that new podcast in the show notes everyone you have been listening to Tom Merritt. I feel like I can say my good friend Tom Maier, because I I hear him every day of he doesn't hear me. But I talked to him every day. Um, but if you want
and un opinionated Wellings the un opinionated, if you want, like an unbiased news like brought to your ears every single day, Daily tech New show is the podcast. Listen to
different voices from all over the Internet talking about what is going on the latest and greatest and news Ah, that involves technology,
I mean, I I don't have enough time to talk about all the different things that he's doing. So trust me when I say you want to go listen to the website or not listen to the website. See, I'm so used to listening to top Go visit the website, but that is going to do it for this episode of productivity in tech podcast
demand that you leave a review. I don't demand that you go tell 50 of your friends about the show. I only ask that as you're listening to this as you're listening to my guest that you've taken something from and you try to apply it to whatever it is you're doing.
And if you have done that and you want to tell me about it,
you can do so on Twitter at KJ. Why, Miller, You can email me info at productivity intact dot com
or, I don't know, just enjoy it and
just let it do its thing. I'll probably find it.
And that is gonna do it for
this time. Thank you. Today, dear Oma Wally for the use of his music. Ah, hustler in spite of myself for the intro no Outro
and for myself and Tom Merritt,
I hope for a least a little bit. We've been productive.
It is time for the after show. Tom, are you ready?