Rachael King is the Founder and CEO of Pod People, a global audio production agency making podcasts for Netflix, PEOPLE, Vogue, Spotify, Twitter, Travel + Leisure, and more. Rachael has spent more than a decade helping companies — from pre-seed to Fortune 500s —share their stories across every medium. In her spare time, she makes (chart-topping) fiction romcom podcasts like Showmance and Vote For Love.
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Table of Contents
Tell us a little bit about your current projects. What exciting milestone would you like to share with our readers? (Don’t hesitate to delve into your achievements, they will inspire the audience)
Rachael King: Pod People just hired our 14th full-time employee, which is WILD, because when I was running my first company (a PR firm for early-stage startups) I said that I never wanted full-time employees because the responsibility was too scary. Whoops! But here we are and I actually really, really love having a team I can depend on, to help carry the load and celebrate the wins. Plus, I hand-picked them so I actually like everyone.
We’ve also just released two new projects that I’m so, so proud of. We made the podcast “People in the 90s” podcast with People Mag — they were SO fun to work with — and “In Vogue: The 2000s” with Condé Nast, an incredible docuseries about fashion at the beginning of the century. It’s been an honor to bring both of these shows to life, and we did it well.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up?
Rachael King: With this company, the hardest thing was not being able to find the right co-founder and deciding to go it alone. I work better in a partnership, but after months of searching, I decided I couldn’t wait anymore — the podcast train was moving and I wanted to be leading the charge. The first couple of years were really, really hard and FULL of decision fatigue and imposter syndrome, especially because I was forcing my way into a new industry.
But looking back, I think it all worked out perfectly. (Next time though, I’ll do what it takes to find a co-founder! I had one with my first company — Aishwarya Iyer, who is now the founder of Brightland — and I miss our dynamic every day.)
What are the most common mistakes you see entrepreneurs make and what would you suggest they do?
Rachael King: Working so hard and so long that you sacrifice your personal health and well-being. Go outside, take a walk!! Nothing’s going to fall apart during those 15 minutes. Starting every day with some kind of movement — and ideally an afternoon break, too — keeps me relatively sane no matter what fire we’re putting out. And if you don’t get some quality time with friends at least once or twice a week, I guarantee you’re going to start driving your team crazy… plus, you’re setting a bad example for them. Take a break!
Has the pandemic and transitioning into mostly online shopping affected your company positively or negatively?
Rachael King: We actually 3x’d our revenue in 2020, because so many companies had the budget for video or events they could no longer execute, and needed to find new ways to connect with their audience and customers. Podcasts are PERFECT for that, so business has been booming. I’ve got the opposite fear where I’m live in fear of the well suddenly running dry! But I don’t think it will — audio storytelling is here to stay, and podcasts are taking their rightful place next to books, TV, film, and digital in terms of the kinds of media we consume. (And I’m biased, but I think podcasts are the *smartest* media we consume, too.)
When you think of your company, 5 years from now, what do you see?
Rachael King: One of two options:
- We’re running a profitable company where we absolutely LOVE what we do and coming to work each day… plus we get paid well to do it.
- A big, fat, check from an acquisition. All my employees have equity (like 5x what’s “normal” in the startup world) because I want everyone invested in our growth, our future, and our (eventual) payday!
What do you consider are your strengths when dealing with staff workers, colleagues, senior management, and customers?
Rachael King: I’m good at reading people and figuring out what they need/want, which is helpful in all things in life but especially work. I’d also say empathy, motivation, and trusting my team to be independent operators (AKA *not* micro-managing).
Being a CEO of the company, do you think that your personal brand reflects your company’s values?
Rachael King: Our values are Authenticity, Inclusion, Community, and Balance — so I would say hell, yes.
What’s your favorite leadership style and why?
Rachael King: I think I have an entrepreneurship/empathetic-leadership style. I want folks to set big goals, take big swings, experiment, and be proactive, resourceful, and independent. But kindness and humanity come first; we’re making podcasts, not saving lives. We take real-time off (a lot of it, actually; we have ~25 paid company holidays every year and unlimited vacation time). And we all have our own families and lives, but we genuinely like spending time together. It feels like true balance!
What advice would you give to our younger readers that want to become entrepreneurs?
Rachael King: Try EVERYTHING! Explore as many industries, companies, roles, and skills as you’re possibly able to (without job-hopping *too* much, although I think that’s less of an issue than it used to be for employers). And network your ass off, get to know as many people as you can, because nothing is as powerful in business as a deep rolodex. And someday your 22-year-old peers are going to have big, powerful jobs where you can help each other out!
What’s your favorite “life lesson” quote and how has it affected your life?
Rachael King: “People who love to eat are always the best people” – Julia Child. Never steered me wrong.
Mike Weiss, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Rachael King for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Rachael King or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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