Carolyn Kiel - Beyond 6 Seconds (EP.15)

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Welcome back to Causepods everyone! Today our guest is Carolyn Kiel, who is the host of Beyond 6 Seconds and she is here to tell us all about her own journey since starting a podcast just over a year ago. Beyond 6 Seconds is focused on showcasing people’s unique stories and how they have learned from their situations. For Carolyn, the podcast is a great way to pass on information and underline the work and lessons that her circle of friends and guests can share. What started as a way to bring together her own interests, skills, and curiosity and help individuals she knew, has now become a great platform for the trading of ideas and personal narratives.

In our conversation we cover how the idea for the podcast has slowly evolved over the last year before talking about finding and securing guests. We also discuss themes and common threads that have cropped up through these interviews as well as the medium of podcasting and Carolyn’s technical tips for those considering starting their own. Carolyn shares her thoughts on promotion, goals, helpful resources, and even offers some information on her favorite social organization that she supports. For all this and more, be sure to join us!

Key Topics:

• The inspiration and impetus behind starting a podcast. (01:19) • The evolving idea behind the show and who is featured. (02:35) • Finding guests with which to populate episodes.(04:13) • Tying podcasting into the rest of Carolyn’s life and work. (05:14) • Common themes and takeaways from guests on Carolyn’s show. (06:55) • Carolyn’s opinions and experiences around goal setting. (08:52) • Why Carolyn chose podcasting over other mediums. (10:40) • Some of the useful resources Carolyn utilized for setting up and getting started. (12:46) • Carolyn’s advice to anyone wanting to start a cause based podcast. (15:00) • Promotion and getting the word out. (16:48) • Some helpful tools Carolyn uses for social media. (18:58) • A particular organization that Carolyn wants to help promote. (21:11) • Some inspiration and motivation from Carolyn to our listeners! (24:47) • How to get involved with Causepods! (25:48)

And much more!

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[0:00:02.6] MP: Hi and welcome to Causepods. I’m your host, Mathew Passy. Here at Causepods, we have one simple mission, to highlight the amazing folks who are using podcast as a way to raise awareness for good causes. 

Whether it’s a non-profit they work with, a charity they support, a social justice campaign they are championing, a medical condition they are battling or someone who is just looking to make a positive impact on their local community, state, country or the world. These are podcasters with a positive mission. 

Along with raising awareness for our guest’s favorite cause, we’re also going to see if we can raise some money to support their efforts. So make sure you check out the show notes for each episode at to learn more about what they’re doing and how to help them achieve their goals.


[0:00:46.4] MP: Joining us today on Causepods is Carolyn Kiel, she’s the host and the creator of the Beyond 6 Seconds Podcast. They share extraordinary stories of everyday people. People who are inspiring in their life, they are creative, their triumphs, their struggles, it’s a fantastic show and we were excited to have Carolyn here with us today. 

Carolyn, thank you so much for joining us here on Causepods.

[0:01:08.1] CK: Thanks Matthew, I’m really excited to be here today.

[0:01:11.2] MP: To start off, let’s go right back to the beginning, what made you want to launch this podcast and what was the inspiration for Beyond 6 Seconds?

[0:01:19.1] CK: Let’s see. I would say at the end of 2017, I was looking for a new creative project for myself to do as a hobby and at the same time, I was active on social media, particularly on LinkedIn and had a lot of friends who had really incredible stories, once I got to talk with them and message with them but there were things that really weren’t coming across as obviously on their social media.

Literally, you would have to talk with them and get to know them, to understand some of the great challenges, amazing challenges they’ve overcome, some of the great things that they’ve done to achieve their goals and really build wonderful things in the world. I had the idea that I wanted to help bring the stories of, that time, my friends in connections to the world and I thought that podcasting will be a great platform for that.

I asked a couple of friends if they wouldn’t mind if I would interview them and I tried out doing a podcast and it launched in January 2018 and the rest is history. I’ve interviewed beyond my friend’s circle and had a lot of many wonderful people sharing their stories on my podcast.

[0:02:24.3] MP: You know, you’ve just talked about what sort of led you to start this but how has it evolved, how has it changed, what has – has your mission changed at all in this podcast since you began it about a year ago?

[0:02:35.1] CK: I would say a little bit. One of the thoughts that I was having when I first started was that I wanted to help showcase people to go and help them share those stories but two, to help them either achieve certain goals like a lot of my friends were looking for work and jobs at that time. I was hoping to kind of showcase them to potential employers or whatever types of opportunities they were looking for.

But it’s really grown much broader than that. That is still part of my mission but really, it’s expanded to include anybody who has an amazing story that you know, maybe they haven’t had a chance to share publicly very much at this point. It’s really started focusing more on helping people or showcasing people who have overcome really big challenges. 

So I’ve had people on the show —you know, it’s everything from people who have overcome kind of crummy jobs that were bad fits for them. All the way to people who have overcome illness and injury and you know, family members who were struggling and things like that. I’ve really built it now as a platform for people to really share what they’ve accomplished and what it was really like to go through some of these challenges.

But I try to keep it real because there’s a lot of sort of inspirational things so I don’t – you know, I don’t shine it up, I don’t make it look like any of this was easy. I think my guest are very honest about yes, this is what I faced and this is what I did and you know, this is where I am now so I appreciate the honest sharing that happens on my podcast.

[0:04:02.3] MP: You start with your friends and the people that you know and then you expand beyond that. How are you finding folks to talk to, where are these guests, where are these stories coming from? How are they finding their way to you?

[0:04:13.4] CK: A couple of different ways, as mentioned, I started with my friends and then some of my friends actually who had been on the show started referring potential guests to me. My listeners started referring potential guests to me as well. They’d say, you know, I heard so and so speak on your podcast, you know, I know this other person who has incredible story you should reach out to them. I also reach out to people who I see online who maybe share a little bit of their story and say maybe a short posting.

I want to learn more about it, I think it might be a good fit for the show. I will reach out to people as well, usually I message them on social media and often, they say yes, I’ve had a really great roster of guests buildup. So it’s a combination of reaching out to people in social media and having them reach out to me too.

[0:05:00.3] MP: How does this relates to what you do in your everyday life? You know, why take on this podcast or did you just have a passion for these stories, these people and it didn’t matter what else you're doing during the day. You were going to do this anyway.

[0:05:14.9] CK: Well, it is a hobby, it’s separate from my day job but my day job is that I work in training and development for a large Fortune 500 telecom company. In some ways, it is sort of related because part of training is helping people really understand and use and apply some of their skills and some of their talents. I’m very interested in talent development as a field. 

I really like it when people show personal growth and talk about how they learn so I would say, all of my guests talk about their learning experience. Whether they call it out as something like that or not. That’s sort of what I think inspired me to start a podcast on this particular topic. Again, I’m a creative person, I wanted sort of a small project for myself and I wanted to try podcasting because you know, one of my other hobbies that I’ve had is that I’m a musician.

I knew a little bit about recording equipment, microphones, I said, well you know, I think I could try this. I think I could use that skill and expand it a little bit to spoken word into podcasting. Kind of a combination of things.

[0:06:22.0] MP: I definitely want to get to a little bit more about these specific choice of podcasting since we are Causepods, focusing on people who use podcasting for a cause but I want to go back to something you just said about the development piece and what you’ve learned and the lessons. What are some of the big takeaways, you know? 

Are there any consistent takeaways from all of your guests? You know, a few universal lessons that we can all learn from the folks who appear on the Beyond 6 Seconds podcast and maybe some of the parallels that you see in your development world?

[0:06:55.4] CK: Sure, I think one of the biggest takeaways is that leadership exists in all different shapes and sizes and forms. When I think of leadership or when I read about leadership, sometimes you know, we have this image of what a leader is. Maybe it’s someone who is really super outgoing or super dominant or really loud and sort of rallies people.

That certainly is one type of leadership but one thing I’ve learned from talking with people on the podcast is that I would consider all of them leaders whether or not they would describe themselves that way because they faced a problem and they found a solution for it. Even if that’s a problem of something that they’re overcoming in their own lives or if it’s a problem with the business, it’s something that they’ve approached and really tried different solutions for and you know, everybody comes from a variety of backgrounds on the podcast.

Has a variety of talents and preferences and temperaments but still, they’re able to achieve their goals or work closely to achieve their goals and tell the story of how they’ve done that. For me, it really helped me and I think also helped my audience expand their understanding of what a leader really is.

Hopefully it helps people think that well you know, I really am a leader too, if they’re thinking about themselves and maybe think about well, what kind of traits am I seeing in the guest that are interviewed that are also within me. You know, if the guest have done — they’ve achieved their goals despite not being easy, despite challenges, maybe that’s something that I can take on too. It’s a bit of an inspiration in that way as well.

[0:08:33.9] MP: Well, a word that I kind of heard you mention a few times in there and I’ve heard it a lot of times in my day to day life and I probably need to get better about it but you mentioned the word goals, so many times. 

How important are goals really to being a successful leader but also just in our day to day life, you know? Having success in what we want to do.

[0:08:52.7] CK: It’s interesting. Goals are a tricky thing. You know, I speak to a lot of people who say, you know, it’s really important to have specific goals so that you know where to aim and where to drive towards. I do talk about the people that I talk with on the show saying that they have achieved goals by overcoming challenges and we talk about their journey towards their goal.

In some way, the thing about goals is that once you’ve achieved them, it’s like okay, what’s next? In some ways, it’s helpful to also kind of have a general idea and direction of the types of things that you want to achieve. In some ways, it’s really helpful to have that not necessarily have it all like defined ahead of time and being really rigid in terms of like, this is the specific thing that I want to learn or that I want to accomplish. Because sometimes, you start moving towards one very specific goal and your path changes.

Or you have new experiences that you never thought that you would have on the way and maybe your goal shifts a little bit. I tend to sort of move in a general direction and not necessarily stick towards a very specific goal. Because I found for myself and for the people that I interview that it’s really helpful to kind of keep it a little bit open, so that you open yourself up to new experiences that maybe you’re not anticipating when you’re starting out and first formulating your goal.

[0:10:16.0] MP: Interesting. Now, I do want to get back to – you talked about why you started to work on the podcast, you had a background in music and music production. It seemed like a very natural parallel. Beyond what your skillset was, was there a reason why you thought podcasting was going to be the most effective way, the most effective medium for this type of messaging? For these type of stories.

[0:10:40.8] CK: You know, it’s interesting when I first started out, I don’t think I thought about it that deeply, I started out thinking that it might be the most effective way because I thought that personally, I could probably stick to it better. Because honestly, I had tried blogging, which is a really great way to get your message out.

But for me, I just – you know, I would get writer’s block, I would write for a couple of days and then stop. So I was kind of frustrated with myself that I couldn’t get it moving with the blogging but I thought, you know, it might be kind of fun to do a podcast and do an interview show. You know, if obviously if there’s someone else that you're scheduled with.

It’s a bit of an accountability partner in that way. You know, once I have someone to schedule to interview and then I’ve got their episode, there’s that added incentive for me to say okay, I really care about getting this story out so I will kind of finish this up, edit it and record it and put it out to the world.

I found, since I stated that, podcasting is really kind of an intimate medium and that you really are in people’s ear. You know, even with the rise of video and the continued importance of blogging and the written word for like search engine optimization and getting the message out and all that, there’s something about podcasting and hearing somebody tell their story in their own words and in their own voice that’s really powerful and I’ve certainly found that with many of my episodes. That the real emotion comes through when I talk with people and they share their real and raw and honest stories.

I think it’s just a really powerful way to communicate and get a message across.

[0:12:12.8] MP: Again, you have this background in music production, which probably lends itself and makes it a little bit easier to understand how to record a good podcast, edit a good podcast but I wonder, as far as some of the other more technical aspects of podcasting, setting up hosting, getting this on directories, marketing.

You know, were there any resources that were invaluable to you as you were taking this journey? Were you self-taught, did you get help, how did you go about really getting yourself to a place where you’re a year in, you know, 40 plus episodes of a podcast and seemingly doing very well.

[0:12:46.2] CK: Gosh, I would say it’s a combination of things. The great thing about podcasting is one, there are a lot of resources out there that you can teach yourself on almost any aspect of podcasting. Whether it’s hosting or your audio setup or how to get posted on iTunes. All the way to — number two is that there’s also many podcasters out there who are very willing to answer questions and share their experiences with new podcast hosts. I really did a combination of the two.

I looked at YouTube videos on unboxing videos of microphones because I had to buy some equipment and I read reviews of products. There’s a website called Podcast Insights that has really great guides for audio and hosting that are really accessible and they were very helpful for me to read. 

I also had some conversations with people who I knew personally who had tried out podcasting or had successful podcasts. Just to ask them questions that I couldn’t find the answers to online. They’ve been incredibly helpful to me as well. I want to give a shout out to Jed Lee, he’s the host of Reading With Your Kids and he was probably the first podcaster I ever talked to when I was first thinking about this and he was great for answering questions that I really needed a true opinion on of someone who had gone through and really used podcasting equipment before. 

So you know if anyone is thinking about starting a podcast and this feeling intimidated, there is a wealth of resources both written and video and there’s people who are willing to help as well. 

[0:14:18.9] MP: Excellent, yeah I was going to ask you what advice do you have for other podcasters getting started that is some great advice. I guess the better question then since again, you have this background in production, which helped a little bit, you have great resources that you found, you’ve got some assistance doing that. What is your advice for someone especially in this space, in the cause based space? We’re not doing this to make money, we’re not doing this for our own to promote our business. 

We are not necessarily going to be getting a lot of revenue from and therefore investing in it. So what are some tricks and tips to ensure that you stay with this project and grow it possibly on a smaller budget so to speak? 

[0:15:00.3] CK: Yeah, I would say one of the challenges of podcasting particularly if it’s something that’s really starts to gain momentum is that it can take over your whole life if you let it. As you know Mathew as a podcast host, it takes a lot of time. It is not just about recording interviews and posting sound files.

[0:15:20.1] MP: If only, you know? 

[0:15:21.7] CK: I know, that would be super easy. You know there’s editing, there’s marketing, there’s all that so I would say be vigilant about your time. So it may make sense to book only specific times, a couple of times a week when you do interviews or a couple other times a week when you are dedicated to editing because otherwise literally it will take over your whole life once you gain momentum and that I think will help you pace yourself. 

Two, I would say, just to get into a rhythm of creating content on a regular basis. So I mean a lot of the recommendations I read is that you know weekly content is great. I know some people who do daily content. Don’t ask me how they have time to do that but really, don’t feel pressured to do a daily show or even a weekly show if it really doesn’t fit in your schedule but I would say do put out content on a regular basis. So if that’s every two weeks or every month that’s fine. 

As long as your listeners know when to expect. You set that expectation about, “All right, on the 15th day of the month there is going to be a new episode dropping at around the same time.” So it will help build and keep your audience consistent and help them understand and expect when your next episodes are going to come out. So that is some advice I would have. 

[0:16:38.9] MP: And then what’s just this is good for our cause pod or for any podcaster, what’s been in your opinion the most effective way to get the word out there about the podcast? 

[0:16:48.7] CK: I mean for me, I use a lot of social media. So that’s something that I want to get a little bit even better at this year because at this point I am just posting the links on my different social media platforms. I also started creating I guess what’s called audiograms, which are like little videos. Usually they have a static image and then a clip of the show plays over the image. It’s a nice teaser that gets people intrigued about the show and it is something you can easily post on your social media. 

So that people can get a sneak preview and then follow on and go listen to your podcast. So any kind of visual element, which is funny, I didn’t think about that for podcasting, which is an audio medium. But whether it’s graphics that advertiser guests and talk a little bit about the show or quotes from the show that you type up and put in a graphic or these audiograms, they really helped and capture people’s attention and pull in more of an audience in terms of social media. 

And then too, I recommend going on other people’s podcasts. So you know you’re having me on your podcast and it’s a really great way to get the word out and if you find other podcasters who have a similar mission or a similar show theme as you, it’s a great way to do some cross promotion too. 

[0:18:09.8] MP: Yeah I mean just recently there was a piece on CBS this morning and the CBS News talking about podcasting and how to get more attention and they pointed out that still one of the big hurdles for all podcasters is twofold. One is getting people to know what a podcast is and know how to listen to it and then two it is convincing those people that do know how to use a podcast to listen to your podcast and so if you can eliminate that first challenge by targeting, marketing to, speaking to people who are already comfortable with the medium, you are way ahead of the game. 

So it is a great point and I just want to go back, so when you create your visualized audio player, your audiograms however, everybody has a different way of describing them, what are you using feel free to plug whoever you like I have seen a bunch of them out there and I am just curious what you found to be the easiest one.

[0:18:58.5] CK: Sure, so what I am using is one, I am using Canva so to create the image. 

[0:19:04.9] MP: The Photoshop for dummies site, I love it. 

[0:19:07.3] CK: Pretty much, it’s like drag and drop. It is pretty great so I’ve been using that and then to create the audiogram I use Headliner, which is another free tool. If you type in headliner I think is the first search result. So you could go in and it will let you add the short audio track and it will export it into, I think an MP4, which is a little video file and then it’s relatively easy to use. So those are the two tools that I have been using to make the audiograms. 

[0:19:34.9] MP: Yeah, I mean I can’t say enough great things about Canva and Headliner is fantastic. If you are looking it up, Headliner by SpareMin is another way to search for it to make sure you found the right place and when you are doing these visualized audio players, make sure to throw in your subtitles, throw in some text. You know I find that a lot of people scroll through to social media. They don’t listen. They don’t have the volume on and so it is great to have a moving image. 

With the bouncing wave and everything but if there were no words on there, people might not know what you are trying to promote and it also goes back to another point you made. You know this is an audio medium that we are professing to be a part of that we love to be a part of but audio is not the most search friendly medium out there. It doesn’t promote well on social media. It is not very discoverable through Google or things like that. 

So even though you want to be doing audio, you still have to focus on text as far as putting a good description of your episode, putting up good loggable content so that you could be found and yeah, video is great because video is what really attracts eyeballs on social media platforms and in various other places. So you know, I love that you want to do a podcast. I am a big fan of it but that doesn’t mean you could ignore the other senses that are important to having a good strong digital presence. 

So with everybody who comes onto Causepods, we like to because you are doing this for a good cause because you are not doing this to make money, we like to support something that is important to you and so you’ve asked us to take a look at something called She’s the First and you want to just take a second to tell us what She’s the First is all about and why you’re looking to support this organization? 

[0:21:11.6] CK: Sure, so She’s the First is an organization, a non-profit that I discovered a couple of years ago. It’s relatively new, I think it started around 2009 or so and it is an organization that’s focused on education for young girls all around the world. So it’s something where you can go and either raise money or give money to sponsor a young girl in different schools or different areas of the world basically to sponsor them throughout their education. 

And it is great because they work with a lot of different schools and organizations. They have a really strong vetting process for which schools they accept into the program and then the money, they help rally people I would say. So they help rally and bring together young girls in the United States to fundraise in a variety of different ways or to adopt or sponsor students within a school to help raise money and help support them in their schooling and other parts of the world. 

And they set up those mentoring and connections as well. But even if you are not a young girl in school, if you are an adult and you want to support girls’ education around the world, you can sponsor a student, which is what I am doing. I’ve been sponsoring a young woman in Nepal in a school there for a couple of years now and She’s the First who will make that connection for you and they will help you get correspondence from the student once or twice a year. 

So that you can see what they’re learning and going to get a view of what it’s like for them in the school and then you get news about what is going on all around the world in their program. So I’ve really enjoyed supporting that cause for the past couple of years on a personal level. 

[0:22:51.4] MP: It must be so nice. I mean it is great to donate money, donate time to some of these large organizations that you know are fighting a good fight and trying to make a positive impact in the world but it must be so nice to essentially have adopted this specific child and to know exactly what her experiences are. What she is learning, the positive impact that you are making for her specifically and I am sure to a greater extent even her family and her community. 

You know when you give one person an opportunity, they will certainly run with it and take advantage of it and bring it back to their greater community. So it must be so nice to just see this direct impact that you are having versus just a big headline like, “Oh I give a lot of money to X organization and they make a difference in the world.” But to know that you really make a difference in someone’s world must be so rewarding. 

[0:23:41.5] CK: Yeah, it really is exciting to be able to see her growth year over year and the different things that she is into. In some ways, it seems like a normal teenager talking about like the subject she likes and this is what I did in school today and so that is exciting because I know the reality for a lot of girls, children and certainly girls around the world is that some of them never get the opportunity to even go to school. 

And even something so fundamental and basic about like staying in school and getting that education, it helps lift not just the girls out of poverty but their families and their communities because they then go out and they start businesses so they have a still trade. So it literally lifts up the entire community and it starts with the girls and getting them into school. It’s just great. 

[0:24:25.2] MP: Fantastic, well so Carolyn before we let you go I just want to get one last piece of advice, what would you tell somebody who’s listening to this, who is thinking about launching a podcast to support their favorite cause, their favorite passion project that might not know what they are doing or just needs that gentle push to get started, any last bit of advice or encouragement you want to give somebody? 

[0:24:47.6] CK: I would say go for it. If it is something that you’re thinking of, if it has been in your mind for any length of time I would say just go for it. There is again, plenty of resources out there to help you get started just do it step by step so that you don’t get overwhelmed. There is no – you don’t have to rush into it. 

You don’t have to start out with a great big bang. You can start slow and just see where it evolves but I think that the world really needs more people who are sharing other people’s stories and supporting great causes so I would just say to just get started. 

[0:25:18.2] MP: All right, well we have been chatting with Carolyn Kiel. The podcast is Beyond 6 Seconds. You can learn more at and of course you can find the podcast on iTunes, TuneIn Stitcher all the places where you would find the podcast and we will have a link to her podcast, her website and we will have a link as well to this organization, She’s the First, which if my tab didn’t close I would tell you it’s that, Carolyn, thank you so much for coming on and joining us here on Causepods today. 

[0:25:47.1] CK: Great, thank you. It was great to be here.


[0:25:48.5] MP: Thanks for listening to this episode of Causepods. Again, if you’ve been inspired by the work of our guest, please check out the show notes in your podcast app or There you will find links to their work and a special donation link set up to support their favorite efforts. 

From there, you can also follow and subscribe to the show on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast or wherever you enjoy your podcast and remember, if you have a Causepod and want to join me for an interview, please check out and fill out the interview request form. If approved, we’ll schedule you for a chat and share the amazing work that you are doing with the Causepods audience. 

Thanks again and see you next time on Causepods.