In April 2020, we at Advisory Board decided we needed a quick and compelling way to connect with leaders across the health care industry. In about a week, we launched our premier podcast, Radio Advisory. Twelve months later, we’ve released more than 65 episodes that tackle some of the most complex challenges in health care—from immediate decisions like how to make telework actually work, to long-term questions about the future of value-based care. To make it easy to dive back into our episode archive, we’ve launched Radio Advisory playlists, where you can easily find and listen to episodes on the topics you care about most.
In reflecting on our first year of podcasts, I started thinking about the lessons I’ve learned along the way. I realized that these principles apply to anyone who is building new teams, launching new initiatives, or implementing new strategies.
Below are the seven lessons I’ve learned after launching and building a podcast during a pandemic.
1. There’s no such thing as a slow news cycle in health care.
Across the last 12 months, I’ve continually told myself the lie that “after X date, things will slow down.” First it was getting past the initial stay-at-home orders, then regional surges across the summer, then the election, the winter surge, the vaccine rollout—and even now, as new policies take shape. Since there’s never a slow time, we need to find insight and answers quickly, and then get them into the hands of the leaders who need them most.
2. We are living in a world beyond best practices.
We started this podcast in a moment when generating and crowdsourcing ideas was the way most of the industry kept one foot in front of the other. Remember, at the start of this pandemic there were justifiable questions about whether we had enough beds or PPE and what the financial impact of stay-at-home orders would mean for different sectors. I found the best thing we can do is to help leaders learn from each other as they grapple with challenges that don’t necessarily have a single answer. That’s where fruitful discussion comes in. Stories are successes only if we understand the mistakes, the barriers, and the red flags you might encounter along the way.
3. Always ask, “What will be different as a result of this?”
When it comes to interviewing, it can be easy to fall into the trap of just aiming for a good conversation. Obviously, we want our podcast to be enjoyable and entertaining, but it would be wrong to stop there. Our north star has always been providing actionable guidance to our listeners. It’s one of the reasons I end every episode with the same question. It gives the interviewee an opportunity to speak directly to listeners and tell them the one thing that they should be doing differently as a result of this conversation. It’s these action items that empower leaders to act on what they’ve learned.
4. Innovation can be found anywhere—and from anyone.
On our podcast, we invite a blend of Advisory Board experts and outside thought leaders to unpack some of the biggest challenges in health care. Throughout the last year, I have consistently been impressed with how scrappy every corner of the health care industry has been. Things like title and organizational size don’t matter when you find mission- and purpose-driven people who are excited to share their stories in a way that helps others. Find those innovators and give them the platform to share their stories.
5. Have a little fun with it.
Innovation in a time of crisis is typically a grind. And that’s as true for launching a new podcast as it is for leaders who launched new telehealth products. Finding joy in the work has been what keeps me and my team going. In many ways, diving headfirst into a new channel has been my mental medicine in some of the darkest moments of this pandemic. And it’s not just me—it’s the whole podcast team.
Our producer started holding up a handcrafted stop sign that said “so” during our recordings when he realized that was my go-to crutch word. Our sound engineer added a blooper into the final moments of one of our early episodes, and we quickly decided to make it a recurring feature. It’s a good reminder that we are humans first and we’re all trying to figure things out in real time.
6. With a clear purpose in mind, just press go.
Embarking on any innovation comes with the constant battle between planning and speed. And in the trade-off between the two, most choose to plan. As the saying goes: it’s best to measure twice and cut just once. But much of the pandemic-driven innovation had to prioritize speed over anything else. And many of us learned that we can absolutely make decisions and build products seemingly overnight. My only caution: have a clear purpose from the beginning and stick to it. Without a purpose, you run the risk of creating innovation for innovations’ sake.
7. You can’t do it alone. No part of Radio Advisory would have been possible without a diverse and collaborative team. We built a team with leaders from marketing, product management, design, news, operations, and more. I might be the voice of Radio Advisory, but without them I’d just be screaming insights into a void with no one to listen or act. Diverse ideas and backgrounds, deep collaboration, and a commitment to our purpose has made this podcast successful for 65 episodes and counting.