With Martin G. Moore

Episode #282

Celebrating 5 Million Downloads: Unpacking our podcast’s 5 success principles

Our first episode of No Bullsh!t Leadership was produced in August 2018. This week, we achieved a major milestone – 5 million downloads of the podcast.

To be perfectly honest, Em and I are pretty ordinary when it comes to celebrating success… and I often cringe at the thinly-veiled, self-congratulatory posts that seem to dominate LinkedIn and some of the other social media platforms.

But I think it’s important to mark this milestone by standing back, and reflecting on what this really means, in the context of our purpose: to improve the quality of leaders, globally!

So, instead of just pumping up our own tyres, in this episode Em and I have distilled a number of success principles that we learnt on our path to 5 million.

We want this behind-the-scenes look to inspire you in your own leadership journey – it’s amazing what you can achieve with a blank sheet of paper and some ridiculously bold aspirations!

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Episode #282 Celebrating 5 Million Downloads: Unpacking our podcast’s 5 success principles

Martin G. Moore (Marty):

Our first episode of No Bullsh!t Leadership was produced in August of 2018. This week, we officially achieved a major milestone: 5 million downloads.

To be perfectly honest, Em and I are pretty ordinary when it comes to celebrating success, and I often cringe at the thinly veiled self-congratulatory posts that seem to dominate LinkedIn and other social media platforms.

But I think it’s important to mark this milestone by standing back and reflecting on what this really means in the context of our purpose: To improve the quality of leaders globally.

So, instead of just pumping up our own tyres, in this LinkedIn Newsletter, Em joins me to distill a number of success principles that we learned on our path to 5 million. We want this behind the scenes look to inspire you in your own leadership journey. It’s amazing what you can achieve with a blank sheet of paper and some ridiculously bold aspirations.

Em, congratulations! You are the architect of this business. And I think where we stand today is testament to your vision for what could be achieved. We’ve managed to establish a global foothold in what’s probably the most overcrowded, noisy market on the planet: leadership development. It is definitely not a blue ocean.

Emma Green (Em):

No, it is not. And a big congratulations to you on this huge milestone. You are the one who has to churn out compelling, original content every week, and I honestly just don’t know how you do it. Some days I think, “Oh man, it would be so much easier to have an interview podcast where you don’t have to come up with original thoughts, concepts and stories.

But we’re not here for the easy path. We are here to make an impact. But a fun little stat for you, according to Listen Notes, we’re in the top 0.5% of all of the 4 million plus registered podcasts out there in the world today… we must be doing something right!


Yeah, I’m sure we’re doing a lot of things right, but the biggest test for me is still,  “Are we getting the content that we need to into the hands of leaders everywhere?”… Because that’s what we set out to do.

I still remember as clearly as if it were yesterday that early set of conversations you had with me, trying to convince me to leave my corporate CEO role and set this business up with you. Talk about working without a net!

But one of the principles that you spoke to me about that really made me nervous was, “Dad, we have to give away our best sh!t for free.” And I just couldn’t get my head around it. Of course, I tried to convince you otherwise, “Darling, let me explain to you how business works. It doesn’t work like that.

But you were so confident in the model and our ability to reach our audience. One of the early influences you introduced me to was Marie Forleo, who’s an absolute legend. Something that sticks in my head even today is her “Happy Meal” analogy. I’ve always loved this because this is the principle of producing super-high quality free content.

Let’s imagine that a guy asks you out on a date. If the very first place he takes you on that date is to McDonald’s, and he buys you a Happy Meal, you know that it’s not going up from there. That’s the best you can ever expect, because you know he’s pulled out all stops for that first date. You know that the second date isn’t going to be at Rockpool, right?!


Yeah, I love that analogy. And I haven’t heard in ages, so I’m really glad you brought that up.


I know. It’s good, isn’t it? But look, you were miles ahead of me, so why don’t you just talk about your evolution as a marketer? Because that’s what has fascinated me over the years.


Well, it was a pretty interesting time in 2018 because I was working in marketing and PR collectively, with so many big brands. I could see the talent that we were working with, and I just thought that you were capable of achieving so much more, beyond the impact you were having on the company that you were running.

And I could see so many things that I saw in you, in these other big talents that I was working with. As far as I’m concerned, you were built for global impact, and I’m glad you eventually folded and let me try and make a business out of you.

But in terms of the podcast, when I was working in marketing agency land, I was lucky enough to produce a podcast for a client. So I was able to learn how it all worked. And I learned what to do and what not to do – on someone else’s dollar, which was really handy.

I’ve spoken about this before, but I was obsessed with Amy Porterfield’s podcast, Online Marketing Made Easy, where she literally gave me the step-by-step guide for how to make a podcast, how to generate leads from it, and how to attract your ideal target market. So I merged what I knew about marketing with that content, and that’s how I knew that No Bullsh!t Leadership was going to be a success.

I knew that the podcast needed to be widely applicable, but niched to the type of leaders that we wanted to attract. So, from where we were standing, leaders who wanted real life, no bullsh!t leadership strategies from real world experience. And that’s why the format is what it is. People don’t have time to listen to hour-long interviews. They want short, sharp, easy-to-consume episodes that you don’t have to listen to 10 times to understand.

I think that’s really what set us apart in the early stages of the podcast.

From the top of the marketing funnel, that was the podcast. And from there, listeners could find out if they agreed with your stance on leadership, and decide if it was helpful to them. That would then take them down the road of downloading one of our hundreds of free resources. And then eventually a small portion of them would do the program that we know makes the most difference to a leader’s life, which is Leadership Beyond the Theory. And that’s how it all unfolded.


Yeah, I remember the journey well. I was there with you every step.


Now, we said that we’d talk about our five success principles for the podcast. I think the first podcast success principle here is:

1. Don’t reinvent the wheel (but add your own spin). I learned from those who were already having huge success, but I spent time working out who our target market was, and what they needed before just diving in blindly. So yeah, learn from the greats and then make it your own.


That’s an awesome principle because I think what we’ve learned over time is that you and I spend most of our time when we are interacting with each other talking about our target market. Are we reaching the right people? Are we producing the content that’s applicable to them? Because it’s so important to make sure you know who you’re for.

When I look back, the podcast growth has been phenomenal. In the first week, we had 132 downloads! And I reckon 50 of those were me listening to it and critiquing myself, and the rest were family and friends.

I only had about 20 episodes planned at the start. I thought, “If I can get 20 episodes out, that’ll be really good.” Here we are after 280-odd full-length episodes, and 50-plus Moments with Marty. But the first dozen or so must have struck a chord with the audience, and we just grew a little every week.

One thing I learned is there is no such thing as ‘going viral’ in the world of podcasts. You might post something cute to TikTok that gets 20 godzillion views. But when it comes to podcasting, you just have to keep churning out consistently good content, week after week after week.

But, as I saw how everything developed, I gave myself the license to expand beyond my initial base content. At the start, I was super paranoid about not being repetitive. I wanted to make sure the information was delivered efficiently. And as we released more and more episodes, I just realized that people who discovered the podcast at Ep.143 aren’t necessarily going to go back and listen to the preceding 142 episodes.

I got less focused on repetition, and more focused on consolidating key concepts. Because as you know, consolidation requires a certain amount of repetition, doesn’t it?

I also learned to put more time into each episode, which is the weirdest thing because you’d think you get more efficient over time, but I didn’t. At the start,  I would get a 20-minute episode fully completed, start to finish, in about 4 hours. Now it can take anywhere between 8 and 12 hours depending on how much background research there is.

Getting one sentence right can sometimes take me, I don’t know, 25 or 30 minutes just researching it and making sure I compose the sentence properly. But, despite this, I still apply the excellence over perfection principle.

I love that quote from Noel Gallagher, who was the songwriter for that classic Brit Pop band, Oasis. When he was being interviewed in a documentary, he said, “If I had any idea how popular some of these songs were going to become, I never would’ve released them.” He’d still be there today trying to tweak them just to make them better and better and better.

Based on this, you can probably guess podcast success principle No.2:

2. Excellence over perfection, in every element. It’s not about the tech. I’m recording this episode today on my 2018 RØDE podcast mic, using a free app. We’re using Riverside today, but I normally use GarageBand. And even if there’s some repetition in the 300 plus episodes, if the content’s valuable, people will share it, post about it, and use it in their day-to-day work, which is the most important thing.


Absolutely, Marty. I think one of the key success factors of our podcast is that we got the target market right from the get-go which is, I think, quite unusual. Normally, you’d expect some trial and error, but I think we actually got it right first time.

We create the majority of our content for mid-level to senior leaders: The people who’ve been leading for long enough to know how hard it is, but not so long that they’ve started to believe their own bullsh!t. Of course, there’s a halo effect on either side: we get everyone from aspiring leaders, right through to CEOs of large businesses, who are incredibly experienced.

To dial it down a bit further, a mid-level leader is someone who leads individual contributors or people who don’t manage anyone else. Senior leaders are those who lead people who lead other leaders. So we say leader of leaders. Do you think I could say leaders again in this sentence, Marty?


I think you’re doing pretty well: I counted 16 so far.


Yeah, it’s confusing though. Or actually, a friend of mine said the other day when she asked this question, “Who’s your target market?“, and when I responded she said, “Oh, most of my middle managers and senior leaders wouldn’t call themselves leaders. They’d call themselves managers.

Whether you identify as a leader or a manager, we’re still for you. So, I think success principle No.3 is:

3. If you’re marketing to everyone, you’re marketing to no one. Getting clear on the exact person you want to help, and sticking to that is how you’ll create a community of super fans.


Yeah, for sure, Em. And talking about those classifications of leaders in our target market, you can also think of it in terms of levels as well. An individual contributor has no levels below them – it’s just them relying on their own expertise. A leader of others has only one level below them. And a leader of leaders has multiple levels below them.

So why does the content resonate? We have to ask ourselves the question, as you and I do quite often, “What’s going right?” It’s easy when something goes wrong to ask what’s going wrong. But when things are going well, we go, “Okay, so what are we doing that’s working? Because, let’s do more of that.

I think the reason the content resonates is because, in the corporate world in particular, every manager learns to speak the language of the corporation. What should I say? What shouldn’t I say? Most just become part of a well-established pantomime that they play to fit in.

No bullsh!t leaders learn to cut through the platitudes, the fluff, the conventional wisdom, and the things that go unsaid to get better results.

This is how we fulfill our purpose. We’re aligning a critical mass of leaders who are prepared to say, “Enough of the bullsh!t. Let’s face into the truth.

This is what I call the hard work of leadership, because it requires a high level of courage. You’ll recall, Em, the dedication in my book No Bullsh!t Leadership, says, “To every leader with the courage to be better.” The book and the podcast are there for those people.

I’m incredibly proud for any individual who takes that step, because it’s uncommon. It’s much more common to simply play the game.


So true. It’s such a good point.


A lot of the more senior leaders reject No Bullsh!t Leadership, because the higher up they go, the more they have to protect their position, their image, and their identity… This is why we try to catch leaders on the upswing of their careers, before they start to believe their own bullsh!t.

Many executives know, instinctively, that they got to where they are by playing the game. So, they just do what they think is required to be successful and they play along. Organizations are super resilient to poor leadership, which is why it’s so easy to comply. And, of course, if you just play the game, each promotion you receive is self-reinforcing.

That’s why, with our podcast, we chose to play the long game – to make a genuine impact on the world of leadership.

The mid-career leaders who pick up and implement these principles, tools, and strategies, well, they’re going to reach the top faster because their performance will be superior. It’s hard for any organization to ignore that.

And when they are at the top, where they have much more ability to influence their companies, they’ll already know the truth about the benefits of strong leadership, both for the organization and for the people that they lead.

Now, I’ve got to distill that into a success principle, don’t I? Let me think about success principle No.4:

4. Don’t believe your own bullsh!t. Challenge your own thinking every day and make sure you’re always open to changing your mind on everything. So may things sound like they’re right… they sound like they should be true. But then when you dig in, you’re like, “Hang on a minute… that’s not right!


I think you’ve also hit on something important in terms of why it’s difficult for no bullsh!t leaders to muster support. It requires people above and beside you to buy into breaking the paradigm. It’s not really until the results come through that you’ve got enough credibility to get people to actually listen to you and say, “Hey, what’s Jane doing over there? Because she’s absolutely killing it.

It’s interesting. We’ve also got a really strong community of business owners. They have the autonomy and power to implement effectively, but they often have less resources than the larger organizations to train their people, which is why the podcast is such a valuable source of information — it provides really high-quality, free content that they can use to improve how they lead and manage their businesses day-to-day.

We’ll be talking about this a little bit more in the coming weeks and months, but for this segment of our community, we have a specific experience: our Business Accelerator Mastermind, where high performing business owners and CEOs come together to completely level up their game. Reach out if you’d like more information: our next season of the Mastermind starts in March.

All right, Marty, I want you to talk about why the podcast is such a valuable filtering tool for people who go on to work with us further.


Yeah, I love the fact that , with the podcast, you know really, really quickly, whether or not it’s for you. If you listen to half an episode – 10 minutes — you’ll know straight away if it’s for you. You’ll either think, “Wow, this stuff’s awesome. It’s really hitting the mark for me.” Or, you’ll think I’m a complete knob. So, it’s a very small investment of time to actually get onto it.

The content is high quality, with bite-sized principles and tools. Having said that, it’s also quite unstructured in terms of piecing it all together and adopting a systematic approach.

So, when it comes to implementation, we have the structured tools and strategies. We have a set of multimedia products that we deploy.

  • We have, of course, my speaking engagements.

  • There’s the book, which I’ve already mentioned, however you want to consume it: hard copy, Kindle, audiobook.

  • We have Leadership Beyond the Theory, which is our flagship offering, allowing leaders everywhere to acquire the structured tools, techniques, and strategies to help them become better leaders day-to-day.

  • We have the Masterminds we just mentioned.

  • And of course at the top of the product food chain, one-on-one mentoring with me where I basically give unlimited resource to helping business owners really hit it out of the park. These are long-term engagements where we get really, really close to each other.

These products give progressively deeper access to the content (and to me) so that you can get real traction at every stage of your business journey.

This is why we’re okay with the fact that 99% of the leaders we serve through the podcast will never spend a cent with us. As long as we have enough mega fans who want to work with us, it enables us to grow and expand. And that way we can continue to churn out high quality, free content twice a week.

So, what’s principle No.5?

5. Income follows impact, right!? If we focus on impacting the right people with the right content, the income’s going to come. The last five and a half years have proven that to us. A lot of businesses are set up simply to make money, which is fine, but that won’t ever create a real connection with the people they serve. Even though financial success is critical for any business, we’re absolutely committed to creating the most incredible products we possibly can, paired with the best customer experience. The money flows.


Yeah. That’s my favorite success principle. And that’s one that we often say to each other. If we’re at a deadlock on something or there’s a roadblock, we kind of go, “Okay, which decision will have the highest impact on the people we serve?” And just really following that as a beacon, I suppose, continues to serve us really well.

Okay, let me wrap up the five success principles that we followed that we think have made the podcast such a success as we click over 5 million downloads:

  1. Don’t reinvent the wheel (but make it your own)

  2. Excellence over perfection

  3. If you’re marketing to everyone, you’re marketing to no one

  4. Don’t believe your own bullsh!t, and

  5. Focus on impact over income.

Marty, it has been such a huge effort for you over the past five years. Thank you for spending so much of your life creating such impactful, free content for our incredible community of leaders. I’m in awe of what you do.


Naaaawwwww, thanks Em!


I am. I truly am. It’s incredible. For those of you reading this Newsletter, if you’ve got any value from the podcast over our five years, we would love for you to leave a review and a rating on Apple Podcasts or Spotify (or whatever your podcast platform of choice is). It would mean the world to us, because it will allow more people find us, and experience the positive impact that hopefully you’ve been able to have.



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