Fireside with Voxgig for Professional Speakers

Patrick Akil

Published On:
Patrick Akil
Podcast Host
Richard Roger
Voxgig Founder
Podcast Guest
Patrick Akil

Two podcasters go head to head in this episode, as we invite Patrick Akil, host of Beyond Coding to speak with Richard about his personal journey and insights into the art of podcasting. Patrick works in the software development unit at Xebia, and he talks about how their value of knowledge sharing led to their desire to support a podcast. When he heard about it, Patrick jumped at the opportunity.

This episode will be invaluable to anyone thinking of starting that podcast they’ve been thinking about, whether they work within DevRel or not. Patrick runs us through some of his initial pitfalls, as well as giving plenty of reassurances as to how much he, and all podcast hosts, improve over time. It’s a learn-on-the-job kind of business, this podcasting thing, something Richard knows all too well.

One of the things Patrick highlights is the importance of quality. If you keep improving your quality (both in terms of literal sound quality, and the quality of your content) then you can also improve the quality of your guests. Quality of guests is something important to consider. It’s a point we frequently return to in DevRel discussions - quality over quantity. Twenty committed listeners are generally better than fifty listeners with a monthly turnover rate of a hundred per cent.

Patrick doesn’t come from any kind of performing background, and he explains how the ability to be confident and articulate in the face of nerves was an ability he honed over time. Things that would have seemed impossible to his younger self, are things he now completes with ease. This one is full of valuable tidbits, whether you’re a budding podcaster, or just want a look behind the sound booth curtain.

Reach out to Patrick here:

Find out more and listen to previous podcasts here:

Subscribe to our newsletter for weekly updates and information about upcoming meetups:

Join the Dublin DevRel Meetup group here:

See Show Transcripts

Interview Intro

Richard Rodger:  [0:00:00] Welcome to the Voxgig Podcast. We talk to people in the developer community about developer relations, public speaking and community events. For more details, visit All right, let's get started. 

Today I’m speaking to Patrick Akil, software engineer at Xebia, who also happens to run a podcast called Beyond Coding. I asked Patrick to be a guest because I wanted to go into the details of setting up and running a podcast. You might be asked to do this in your developer relations role. There are lots of moving parts and you’ll need the support of a team. So, if you want to find out the details, let's talk to Patrick. [0:00:43] 

Main Interview

Patrick Akil

Richard Rodger:  [0:00:44] Patrick, welcome to the Fireside with Voxgig podcast. It is great to have you on today. How are things? [0:00:49] 

Patrick Akil:  [0:00:50] Great to be here. Things are great. I just did a recording this morning, then did some client work, and now another recording being a guest. I love being a guest, so happy to be here. [0:00:59] 

Richard Rodger:  [0:01:00] Awesome. And you are a professional – you do podcast hosting as part of your professional activities, so as one podcast host to another, let’s see if we can out-compete on interruptions of questions. I have to say I’m suffering a little bit of envy, because you have a really cool microphone setup. I’ve been meaning to buy a new microphone, but it’s- [0:01:25] 

Patrick Akil:  [0:01:25] I did none of it; everything was given to me. I’m very fortunate, lucky to have this setup. [0:01:29] 

Richard Rodger:  [0:01:31] You could really get into the technical side of it; you could – when I started doing it, it was just the microphone on my laptop and press record and hope. But then you start- [0:01:41] 

Patrick Akil:  [0:01:41] Hope is not a strategy anymore. [0:01:42] 

Richard Rodger:  [0:01:43] No, hope is not a strategy. Let’s rewind a bit and take it from the top to set some context for the listeners. First of all, where do you work, what does your company do and why do they care about podcasts? [0:01:58]

Patrick Akil:  [0:02:00] I work at Xebia; it’s a consultancy company, and I work in the software development unit. Xebia does software development consultancy, business transformation, cloud; specifically, we have a Microsoft service line. So, it’s quite broad. And I joined the organization about – almost five years ago, which is quite a long time ago. 

And in the middle of the pandemic, we had a new person responsible for marketing, from our software development unit, and one of the core values of Xebia is knowledge sharing; you can see that. And throughout history, a lot of having to do with blog posts that the people create, we also get time for that, so time off of consultancy. And a lot having to do with knowledge sharing. Biweekly sessions where we come together, the organization in person at the office. And we have a mini-conference, mini-meetup where people share what they’ve learned. And also on video content, you would see that. 

Now his idea was, a podcast would be a great platform to also share knowledge on. He’s not a podcast person, he said, and he said, “I’m looking for a host that has a vision, someone to drive this forward, and I’ll facilitate whatever you need.” And those last few words, I was like, “Me, pick me. Yes!” Because I’d been listening to podcasts and never imagined myself having a seat at the table, but it sounded like a lot of fun. 

If someone says, “I’ll help you get up and running and we’re going to do this together,” I was like, “Yeah, then I can do this.” Because sounding from scratch for me always sounds like a hurdle. I see many problems getting to a level of quality where I want to be and starting from zero. But because his help encouraged me, gave me energy, I said yes to this thing. And immediately, we started brainstorming about, what do we need? We need a jingle, obviously – that was one of my first ideas. I was like, “We need a jingle.” 

My vision for the podcast is, I wanted to do it in English, not in Dutch, by the simple reason of, if we get really popular, I don’t want to be bounded by the language that we speak in. And I want my English to get better and better – not my Dutch, just because of internal reach. And I wanted to talk about the technical but not too technical side of software development. 

Which is also why we coined the name Beyond Coding. It was between Beyond Coding and Suits and Hoodies, and we actually have sample art – maybe I’ll share it to you so you could put it in the show notes. But Beyond Coding is what it was after we did a poll through our unit. And that’s really what the- [0:04:27]

Richard Rodger:  [0:04:27] There’s so much-

Patrick Akil:  [0:04:28] Sorry, go ahead. 

Richard Rodger:  [0:04:29] There’s so much to unpack there, but sorry, go on; I have lots of questions. [0:04:31] 

Patrick Akil:  [0:04:32] No problem. I was going to say Beyond Coding is what emphasizes the topics as well. Very early on, you could see the topics were more so software related. We had: how do you balance speed and delivery when you’re creating software. What is quality when we’re talking about software and how do you see that, through what pillars, internal and external? 

And now we’re talking more and more on the Beyond Coding side, more on the soft skills side, things about entrepreneurship, content creation, product development, product vision. People that have started from a software engineering position and moved their way upwards, and for example now have a tech lead role or CEO role. There’s a lot of topics to unpack in this landscape, and I love talking about people that have a passion within this field. Because I think those make for great conversation and I’m very fortunate to be able to share those conversations as well. [0:05:21] 

Richard Rodger:  [0:05:23] Awesome stuff. First of all, let me say you have a wonderful voice for podcasts. You should be on radio. [0:05:28] 

Patrick Akil:  [0:05:28] Thank you so much. Only after I started podcasting did people let me know was my voice was… before, I was just – I was like any other. [0:05:37]

Richard Rodger:  [0:05:39] No, it’s – you’re definitely in the right game, for sure. It’s interesting that you had senior leadership support from day one. Because a lot of people who work in developer relations have a challenge convincing leadership of the value of what they’re doing. So, it’s really cool to hear that a senior leader was able to understand the value of this type of activity and this type of content and promote it within the organization and make it happen. 

But were you expected to start delivering on audience metrics straight away? Were you allowed to grow it organically over time? The very first episode of any podcast – yay, I’ve got five listeners. Tell us about that, because the institutional support that you had and the time and space to grow re things that, in a way, are almost a little unusual. [0:06:38] 

Patrick Akil:  [0:06:40] I’ve had the fortunate that the organization values entrepreneurial efforts, so starting something up is more so easier to do. Because you start with an idea and then all of a sudden it becomes a process, and the longer this process takes, the more people are going to look into the resources. I get four hours a week to do one episode. 

We release on a weekly frequency; that was one of my priorities as well as demands. I was like, “The only way I’m going to do this is if we can release weekly.” Because I’m a listener first, and I don’t like listening to biweekly things; then I forget about it. And weekly is just, at least for my personal preference, is a good cadence, so that is also what I also wanted to uphold. 

But then you have weekly – I’m not billable; I cost internal hours rather than working for a customer. Or even some customers might think, I only get Patrick for an X amount rather than someone that is full time; does that make sense? From an organizational side, I always had support from my manager, and we have a flat hierarchy, so immediately above him is the Dutch managing director. 

I did have to have conversations that I only get four hours, and to do this well and to keep improving, my personal time was – how do you say that? I was stretched with regards to my bandwidth. I did for example outreach to people. I did the figuring out what the topic would be, the recording; then I got the four hours. And I always get help with that. I have Roth, my producer in the back – you can’t see him, but he’s always there. [0:08:13] 

Richard Rodger:  [0:08:13] Hey, Roth. 

Patrick Akil:  [0:08:16] And then I did the editing by myself as we as releasing. And to do that and to do that weekly, that was quite a time investment. More so recently, just a bit over a year ago, I took on the conversation with my manager as well as the Dutch managing director. And then the question was, okay, we have X amount of subscribers. Why is it not 10-fold? Why is it not 20-fold? What would you need to do that? 

And I was like, “That’s really hard to say.” To promise on audience metrics, to promise on delivering of listeners and subscribers in that way, it’s very hard to make estimates on and to promise delivery on. But I did say this, if I get this with regards to budget, I can get someone to edit – Roth also edits – because it makes sense. 

And this is what we can do; we can increase the quality of the content. Because I’ve always advocated for, the content quality is king, whether it’s marketing purpose recruitment, whether it’s sales related, whether it’s just knowledge sharing, which is the essence of the episodes we create. If the quality is good, then the people will find it, especially nowadays, where there’s abundance of information. 

You can find informations very easily. It’s at your fingertips, just grabbing your phone. I have two phones, so double the information? I don’t quite know. But what people are looking for is quality, so as long as we focus on the quality and keep making better episodes, then the listeners and the good things will come. That mantra is not only from me, but it’s from my manager and it’s a belief within the company as well. So, that helps with regards to starting this up and making it sustainable and resilient. [0:09:53] 

Richard Rodger:  [0:09:54] There’s two points out of that, especially for any audience members who are thinking about – let’s do a podcast. First of all, it’s a hell of a lot of work, I have a team; you have a team. It’s – and I know people who do it as individuals, and that’s tough. And a sub-point of that is, the weekly cadence, or the regular cadence, is super important to audience retention. 

Because if you don’t – you’ve just described your personal experience of, you lose interest in podcasts that don’t come out on a regular basis, because you get used to – it’s Tuesday morning, so today, I’m listening to X. And if you don’t come out on Tuesday morning, every Tuesday- [0:10:36]

Patrick Akil:  [0:10:38] You’re gone, forgotten. [0:10:38] 

Richard Rodger:  [0:10:39] The habit doesn’t get formed. And that’s really hard; it’s like publishing a newspaper. It’s – you have a hard deadline. In software, all deadlines are negotiable. You’re a consultant; you know this. I’m a consultant too, so – you can – you have time, scope and requirements; you can adjust all of those things. But if you have to have a podcast ready at 8am on Tuesday morning, it’s like a newspaper; it has to be there. It’s a lot of hard work and it’s a big organizational commitment. The other interesting thing is, have you ever heard of this term from developer relations called DQLs, developer qualified leads? [0:11:26] 

Patrick Akil:  [0:11:27] No. I haven’t heard of that. [0:11:28] 

Richard Rodger:  [0:11:28] This is the idea that developer engagement and community building generates business, because influential developers in potential clients will advocate. They may not be sales champions; they may not be decision makers, but they are key influencers. Although I guess on the surface, your leadership might be interested in absolute listener numbers, I would hope – and you can tell me, because this is certainly my experience – that the quality of the audience also matters. 

And somebody who listened to you all of last year, six months later, their boss has a new project. Who will be -- where do we find a partner for the project? The Xebia guys, they’re really good. I have been listening to this podcast. Does your organization even track that? Are you even – because lots of people can’t, or don’t; it’s really hard. [0:12:34] 

Patrick Akil:  [0:12:36] It is hard to track that. What they do do is – I’m a consultant and I’m also a trainer, so they put more emphasis on this brand building, and also in combination with working together with organizations. It’s not just a supply and demand situation; we’re looking for partnerships. 

And part of a partnership can also be creating content together, showing the outside world that there is an emphasis on engineering efforts at these companies, both Xebia as well as any other partners. And the podcast and a platform, building a community like that can be a great platform to do so in that way. That is what we do know. 

And what I sometimes hear, or – I’ve also been recognized, in this tiny sphere that I operate in, whether it’s giving a training or attending a training, being recognized is definitely one of the identifiers that the podcast is working, whether it’s word of mouth, whether it's through a LinkedIn post, through another person that liked an episode because a specific guest was on. 

That does show that people know the podcast within this sphere, in meetups or at conferences. And people therefore also know the organization that is sponsoring this. They know that within this organization, it’s possible to set this thing up, which has been running for over two and a half years now. That is no small feat anymore, and I’m quite proud of that. [0:14:00] 

Richard Rodger:  [0:14:01] No. Well done, especially in larger organizations, where you have to keep adjusting to priorities and new strategies and all that sort of stuff. But the longer you keep it going, the more episodes you have, the more valuable it gets, right? [0:14:14] 

Patrick Akil:  [0:14:15] I think so. 

Richard Rodger:  [0:14:16] Each week, sustaining it is part of what gives it value. I have to ask, Patrick; did you do drama or theatre or something like that before? Is there something in your background, or are you – you’re a first-timer, first time performer? [0:14:31] 

Patrick Akil:  [0:14:34] What has allowed me to do with and start with maybe a higher than average base level of quality is, I’ve always been a listener. I like listening; I’m genuinely curious. And if you go back to episode number one, I could not speak as eloquently now. I still relisten to myself and be like, ah! You have similar words you always reuse or you interject where it’s not supposed to matter. Or you slice up a new topic when some stuff was left unlistened, let’s say. But I keep improving. 

The funny thing is, if I were to talk to myself 20 years ago, 15 years ago, they wouldn’t have believed me, a younger version of myself, because I always avoided giving presentations. I still get nervous sometimes, giving presentations. When you are new with colleagues and you have to do this round of, how long have you been here; where are you from; introduce yourself, my heart pounds. And I know it; I check my pulse because I’m going to get nervous, and when I do my delivery, no-one knows I’m nervous, but internally, I don’t like being in that situation. [0:15:33] 

Richard Rodger:  [0:15:35] Do you do conference talks and that type of stuff as well, or not? [0:15:37] 

Patrick Akil:  [0:15:37] I do conference talks as well. I want to do more; I’ve not done many. I’ve recently given a talk at a university, and already there when they said, “The amount of people is going to be 60,” I was like, “60 is a big number.” [0:15:49] 

Richard Rodger:  [0:15:49] And they’re real; they’re not behind a microphone now. [0:15:51] 

Patrick Akil:  [0:15:51] Exactly. Yeah. 

Richard Rodger:  [0:15:53] Yeah, you don’t have a producer to fix things. [0:15:54] 

Patrick Akil:  [0:15:55] No, exactly. And then I do it and I get so much fulfilment out of it. It takes a lot of energy out of me; I have to recharge. But it’s an amazing experience. I was walking away then from their campus and I was like, “This is me time. I have to recharge.” And they were like, “I just came to your talk and a I have a few more questions.” I was like, back into it. [0:16:13] 

Richard Rodger:  [0:16:16] It’s the adrenalin. It gets addictive; it gets addictive for sure. [0:16:19] 

Patrick Akil:  [0:16:20] It does. 

Richard Rodger:  [0:16:22] Yeah. The – but there must have been –I’m trying to do psychotherapy here or psychoanalysis. Why was it you? How come it’s – you have lots of colleagues, right? [0:16:35] 

Patrick Akil:  [0:16:35] Yeah. 

Richard Rodger:  [0:16:36] How come it ended up being you? Was this a transition point in your career, something – obviously, you’re a podcast enthusiast, but that’s different from being a host. [0:16:50] 

Patrick Akil:  [0:16:51] I get what you’re saying. I’m just trying to pinpoint what it exactly was, maybe.  I’ve started out from uni and I went into operations, and there, I was taught to take initiative. When you want to make something happen, you build up relationships and you do it together. You pick up the phone rather than sending someone a message or an email. Because if you really want to get stuff done, you have to do it together; you have to collaborate. 

And then I joined Xebia, this organization when I did not have their – I didn’t meet their barrier of entry. They were looking for people with four or five years of work experience and I only had two, one of which, barely one, was software engineering. Just by virtue of getting in there and knowing the barrier of entry – I know how I got in now, but back then, I was like, “This must have been a mistake. I don’t know why. I feel very fortunate.” 

And that goes hand in hand, the feeling of not belonging, with imposter syndrome. So, I tried really hard, any client assignment I would have, to find out what my value was. Because if my value is not the technical expertise, then it must be something. So, I always put emphasis on trying to be really good at the technical side as well as anything having to do with team productivity. 

If I felt like our communication or our transparency or we needed more information, I would advocate for that. I would fight for that and I would try and get that. If there was a clash or a conflict within team members, I wouldn’t avoid it. I would try and mediate it. I would try and help wherever I could. I even took up the scrum master mantle. For example, when I had a lot of conflicts with how things were happening on a scrum-related basis on our team. 

It was always, now that I’m looking back, more so working with people, more that communications side. And maybe there is also where I got better and better at communicating what I was thinking in a way. Within Xebia, we’re also expected to work on our personal authority, and I never knew what that was. 

I still don’t know what this is, but when that opportunity came, I was like – for me, many people were going to jump on it and I wanted to be the first. So immediately after that call, the person from marketing said that in a call with 50 or 60 of my colleagues. They asked and no-one replied, and I was like, “Everyone’s going to send them a message,” because replying in this, where everyone is listening, might not be a good idea; it’s scary. 

So, I immediately sent him a message after and I was like, “Please, let’s do this. Because I have an idea. I have a vision, and I think I can pull it off. I genuinely think this could be fun.” I never thought about long-term consequences; maybe that’s one of my faults. But I really wanted to try this, and it was always experimental in my mind. If no-one was going to listen, I wasn’t going to do it. If I didn’t enjoy it, I wasn’t going to do it.  

If my colleague said, “Well, it’s not as good as the podcasts that are out there,” I wasn’t going to do it.  And the overwhelming feedback of positivity, I was like, “Man, you’re not seeing all these flaws,” and people were like, “That doesn’t matter.”  The essence is there and it’s solid and it’s going to keep growing. So, that’s what helped me do it as long as – for as long as I have. [0:20:02] 

Richard Rodger:  [0:20:03] That is a really inspiring origin story. [0:20:07] 

Patrick Akil:  [0:20:08] Thank you. 

Richard Rodger:  [0:20:08] It’s funny; it’s very – I – because I speak to a lot of developer advocates on this podcast, of course. And a lot of them have similar stories in that they discover that they have a passion for communication. Not just engineering, but – well, evangelizing, I guess, but helping their colleagues; communicating; building communities. They discovered they get a sense of fulfilment from that, in addition to the engineering side of things. Since some of our audience might be wondering, how do I set up a podcast, let’s go back to the logistics side of things for a minute. Because it is hard work, and you said you had been only given four hours, which is not a lot for one episode. [0:20:55]

Patrick Akil:  [0:20:55] It’s not a lot. 

Richard Rodger:  [0:20:55] It’s not a lot. 

Patrick Akil:  [0:20:56] That’s true. 

Richard Rodger:  [0:20:59] Here’s the first question. How do you source guests? Where do you get them from? How do you approach them? How does that process happen? [0:21:05] 

Patrick Akil:  [0:21:06] I’ll start out, because I got help in the beginning.  Sourcing guests and finding guests was not my responsibility back then; now it is, and now it’s also easier because people come to me. What I’m looking for within a guest is, I have to see if they’re putting out any type of content, whether it’s written form or whether they’ve talked at a conference, something like that. Or what I rely on is references from previous guests. 

But when you’re starting out, relying on the content that someone has been putting out there and reaching out is already enough to have an initial conversation and get to know each other. That is where I get my most value. I start with the story of the podcast. It’s Beyond Coding, and the name sometimes throws people off – the people I reach out to that are a bit more beyond Beyond Coding, let’s say. 

But in any case, I talk to them and I say, “Look, this is my vision. On the one hand, we have more technical topics, on the other hand, topics that are further away from there. And there I find people with a certain passion about something. What are you passionate about?” And then people think and they say, “That’s a good question.  That’s a hard one.”  And we talk about their passion. And form the way someone talks about their passion, I can see if this is going to be a genuine, authentic conversation, in-depth about what they’re enthusiastic about.  And the passion has to be a driver for me curiosity wise. 

And that last one is really important, and it’s also an easy one for me because I am innately curious. I’ve always had that as a kid; how do things work? Why do people do the things they do and why are things the way they are? And to have the opportunity to then ask that to someone sitting across from me, that is super-passionate about that and wants to explain everything, that is a match made in heaven in that way. That is how I find guests. I don’t like doing the outreach part; I don’t like the setting up the intro calls and the scheduling. I like the conversation; that is where my passion lies. But to be able to do that, I have to do the scheduling; I have to do the reaching out to people. [0:23:07] 

Richard Rodger:  [0:23:07] Man, the scheduling! The scheduling is fun, right? We had- [0:23:11]

Patrick Akil:  [0:23:11] Absolutely. 

Richard Rodger:  [0:23:11] -our own fun with scheduling for this one. Oh boy, that’s a fun side to it. Did you get any training; did you ask for any training? People do media training, but it’s usually to be interviewed by journalists, whereas what we do is the opposite; we interview people. So, did you get any help that way or did you learn as you went? [0:23:34] 

Patrick Akil:  [0:23:36] I mostly learned as I went. We do get a study budget, which is quite significant, year after year, and you’re expected to finish that. And I did notice, I never spent my study budget on technical topics, how to do X, Y and Z. It was always more so leadership related or framework related, where communication was an aspect. 

Maybe I got some media supports here and there, but my training budget always went to interacting, more theory. Also, I’ve training which was insight in influence, where we did a lot of role playing and you had a certain kind of influence style, whether you’re being argumentative or you’re asking questions, to see and test the limits of having a certain goal and only having one style. That was a lot of fun, and I realised throughout that, I could recognise some patterns here and there. Information is always anchored, but it adds to having a perspective, which then makes you a better conversationalist. 

I do think the biggest learning was by editing my own episodes, because I was listening to myself and I was saying, “You’re saying the same thing over and over again.” Feedback would be, that’s one of your keywords; you always do that. And I’m like, “Not any more, because I hate hearing…” And I would try and improve, genuinely and with intent. [0:24:52] 

Richard Rodger:  [0:24:54] Yeah, you have to. There’s one little thing that you have to get very used to if you host podcasts, which is the sound of your own voice. Which I’m still not used to; it still makes me, uggh! [0:25:03] 

Patrick Akil:  [0:25:04] Then listen more. 

Richard Rodger:  [0:25:04] You just get this horrible feeling. It’s so weird; isn’t it? It’s – because listening to yourself on a recording is really strange. [0:25:12] 

Patrick Akil:  [0:25:13] It is. 

Richard Rodger:  [0:25:13] What do you do, Patrick? What do you do if you get a guest – and sometimes it’s because they’re super enthusiastic – that will not stop talking. [0:25:23]

Patrick Akil:  [0:25:24] Yeah. That’s a hard one, and I’ve had that. The – let’s say the most extreme example of that, I had to have a conversation and say, “On the podcast, I also want to uphold a certain level of quality. And because of this episode and the way we interacted, it was not a conversation. It was more so a presentation or a conference talk. And that’s going to take away from the essence I want this to be.” 

I had a conversation with that person and I said, “Well, we have two options. I would like to do it again. That is one of the options. Or if you feel like you’ve invested everything and you can’t do this right, we can part ways in that way and we don’t have to air the episode. It was a hard call, but I- [0:26:05] 

Richard Rodger:  [0:26:05] That’s – wow, okay. [0:26:07] 

Patrick Akil:  [0:26:08] I talked to Roth about it; I talked to a lot of people about it. I’m like, “This is the thing.” I let people listen, also to get feedback. But at the end of the day – it was only once also in this legacy of 130+ episodes, but that was the one case where I had to be like, “This is what I think is below quality.” 

It was hard. I wanted to interrupt and they took the conversation back, and you can only do that so many times. As the producing part, you do reserve the right to say, “Well, we don’t want to air this episode.” As I give the opportunity to every guest that I have on as well. I also say, “We don’t edit the episode. I like this free flow of conversation. It's exactly what I have with my podcast as well. 

But once, for example, I asked the question to someone and she was working at one of the bigger tech companies, and it was about recruitment. And her genuine opinion – and she only wanted to give it to me. She said that in the conversation: “I can only give this if we stop the recording right here,” and that completely took me out of the conversation. And that was the one part where we had to strip that out. [0:27:13] 

Richard Rodger:  [0:27:13] Yeah, post production – that’s what it’s for. [0:27:16] 

Patrick Akil:  [0:27:17] I don’t want to do it, but it was – I didn’t have a choice. [0:27:19] 

Richard Rodger:  [0:27:20] No, and you gotta. Yeah, it’s all these – you learn all these interesting little challenges as they come up. [0:27:27] 

Patrick Akil:  [0:27:29] Have you had that as well, by the way? Before we move on, have you had a conversation where you were like, “This was a hard one. What do I do now?” [0:27:38]

Richard Rodger:  [0:27:39] Yeah. I like to have a wide range of guests, and sometimes people that don’t have much experience or haven’t been on a podcast before. And the challenge there is the opposite, where they’re so nervous that they have – they’re a very interesting person, but their answers are maybe one sentence, or literally yes or no. Now maybe that’s on me for asking closed questions. 

Patrick Akil:  [0:28:08] Fair point. 

Richard Rodger:  [0:28:09] I’ve had some successes where about halfway through you get them relaxed, and then you can start talking and then it starts working. A bigger challenge is much similar to your one, where the person who is very experienced has – treats it like a media interview and they have a set of standard, pre-scripted responses. They know how to do the segue where you ask a question and they just answer the question which they wanted you to ask, right? [0:28:44] 

Patrick Akil:  [0:28:44] Yeah. They do the whole script they have. [0:28:45] 

Richard Rodger:  [0:28:45] Very professional people can do that easily. And that’s very frustrating, because in a conversational style like we’re having now, you want to ask questions about the person as well and their real experiences in life. And how did they – how did you end up doing podcasts and – but if somebody’s just got a standard response, then it’s like talking almost to a machine. So, the challenge- [0:29:12] 

Patrick Akil:  [0:29:12] Yeah. To watch a video. 

Richard Rodger:  [0:29:13] The most difficult ones are the relay experienced people who do it all the time, and how do you get behind the shield. How do you get behind the persona to the person? I’m not so sure I’m very successful. If you think about podcast hosting and you think about people like Joe Rogan, whatever you think about his politics. But if you analyse his style, he’s very good at getting them to lower shields, getting to the person. [0:29:45] 

Richard Rodger:  [0:29:45] Agreed. 

Patrick Akil:  [0:29:46] That’s a real skill. 

Richard Rodger:  [0:29:48] I agree. It’s interesting to me that you take that responsibility and you say, “I might not be as good as that yet.” Because I see it that way as well. If I don’t inform someone sitting across from me that this is not an interview, but it’s more so a conversation – if I don’t say those sentences, or if you have the feeling you’re talking too long, you might be talking too long, and if you drop the ball, don’t worry; I’ll pick it back up, and it’s a conversation. 

I look at myself when I forget to do that and I haven’t put enough emphasis on that, because that makes it into the episode. And I’ve only had to have that conversation with someone once, that I was like, “This is really bad in my eyes, quality wise, below average, I would say.” Because I want to incrementally up the average quality wise. 

But I do look at myself and think of, how do I improve that? How do I get people to lower their guards and to have an open conversation? One of the things I do nowadays is, the recording’s already running. We don’t have a 3-2-1 start. We just talk about food, where you live from, where you’ve travelled. And then I will flow into the topics we discussed, and people are like, “Wow! It just happened.” [0:30:57] 

Richard Rodger:  [0:30:58] Interesting. Let’s talk about logistics again. My approach, which you would have just experienced, is I always allocate 15-20 minutes initially that’s not recorded, that’s just conversation to make people relaxed, and then we start. So, you start recording straight away – interesting. [0:31:18] 

Patrick Akil:  [0:31:20] I do have an intro call, so the part you do before this recording, I do in advance. [0:31:25] 

Richard Rodger:  [0:31:25] You do a separate call. 

Patrick Akil:  [0:31:26] I do a separate call. That’s also why I said: “Is this the call?” You and I had an email exchange. I was like, “Is this the intro call or the actual recording?” [0:31:34]

Richard Rodger:  [0:31:35] You just doubled the work; you just doubled the work. [0:31:36] 

Patrick Akil:  [0:31:36] Maybe, maybe. 

Richard Rodger:  [0:31:38] No, but you find it useful; you like to have- [0:31:40] 

Patrick Akil:  [0:31:40] Absolutely. 

Richard Rodger:  [0:31:41] Yeah. You like to have it. 

Patrick Akil:  [0:31:42] It’s become a non-negotiable. I’ve had people that have said to me, “I’ve done many podcasts. I can do it one way.” And I’m like, “I cannot. I’ve tried that and it sometimes has been more disaster.” And I do not want that. I want from both sides to know this is what we’re getting into. Because I do think all podcasts have this unique kind of magic. 

And for you to understand that me and put more so emphasis on what podcast am I in, we have to have a one on one conversation. How’s this going to go? 

And I love asking. – sometimes it makes it into the recording – “How is this podcast compared to any other one you’ve done?” And then they give me the honest truth, and because that’s at the end of the conversation, I get so much valuable feedback, criticism or praise – hopefully most of the time praise – about the podcast and the way we do it. That’s valuable. [0:32:32] 

Richard Rodger:  [0:32:33] Criticism is ironically more useful. 

Patrick Akil:  [0:32:36] Yeah, that’s – I’m like “Tell me something bad.” [0:32:37] 

Richard Rodger:  [0:32:39] Well, I apologize for saying, “One meeting and we’re just going to do it,” so sorry. [0:32:43] 

Patrick Akil:  [0:32:44] No worries. I’m happy to oblige. [0:32:46] 

Richard Rodger:  [0:32:48] Patrick, thank you so much for sharing all of this insight, and your journey as well; it’s really inspirational. And I’m very impressed by your bravery, dealing with difficult guests. [0:33:04] 

Patrick Akil:  [0:33:04] Thank you so much. 

Richard Rodger:  [0:33:05] That’s – that can be very difficult. I shall look forward to listening to yours as well. [0:33:13] 

Patrick Akil:  [0:33:15] Thank you so much. 

Richard Rodger:  [0:33:16] That’s going to be-

Patrick Akil:  [0:33:16] Thanks for having me. 

Richard Rodger:  [0:33:16] -that’s on my list. 

Patrick Akil:  [0:33:19] I would love to get your feedback as well, whether it’s good, or the criticism as well. And thank you so much for having me. You’ve said inspirational twice, maybe three times, and that warms my heart. I can go home with a big, happy smile on my face, and nothing can break my day anymore. [0:33:34] 

Richard Rodger:  [0:33:35] Awesome. And I’m going to look up some voice trainers, because I’m so jealous. All right, Patrick, take care. Good luck. Thank you so much. [0:33:42] 

Patrick Akil:  [0:33:42] Thank you. Take care. 

Richard Rodger:  [0:33:43] Bye-bye. 

Patrick Akil:  [0:33:44] See you. 


Richard Rodger:  [0:33:46] You can find the transcript of this podcast and any links mentioned on our podcast page at Subscribe for weekly editions, where we talk to the people who make the developer community work. For even more, read our newsletter. You can subscribe at, or follow our Twitter @voxgig. Thanks for listening. Catch you next time. [0:34:14]