If you are good at what you do, you’ll survive. If you’re amazing at what you do, you’ll thrive.
Four and a half years ago Leo Laporte started the This Week in Tech network. TWiT started as one podcast and quickly grew to a full network of audio and video shows with varied topics and an extremely wide audience. For those familiar with Leo’s career, this comes as no surprise. He’s a media pioneer and is only now receiving a portion of the praise he deserves for promoting technology programming on TV, radio and the internet. An interesting conversation has been happening surrounding Leo’s network. Throughout the history of TWiT, the community was encouraged to make a donation to the network. Early on, this was the only way Leo was willing to make money off of his shows. That didn’t last long, as I assume advertisers were beating down his door to connect with his wide reaching audience. While no numbers are public, I assume advertising quickly dwarfed his donations, but the donations were still there.
An interesting conversation has been happening in the past few weeks about what Leo should do with the money the TWiT makes by donations. When faced with this issue, Leo decided to do something amazing with the donations. Announced on December 3rd, Leo will no longer be paying himself with the money the company makes through sponsorships, advertising, etc. Leo’s salary will be paid through the donations made to TWiT and not the company’s operating budget. This is similar to a CEO of a company being paid a $1 annual salary, but making money if the stock in that company increases. He makes sure to point out that he won’t starve, as he has other jobs that will feed and put a roof over his family, but he’s created an incentive for himself that didn’t previously exist.
Leo now has cares about two separate income streams: one for the company, one for himself. This is a monthly reminder to Leo about how much his shows are worth to his listeners. Leo has always been accommodating to his community by creating shows that they want to hear, giving them the content they want during the shows and by expanding the boundaries of what a podcasting network could be. Now it’s up to the community to give back. IF this model sounds familiar (accepting money, but also putting a focus on donations) you must be a listener of public radio. This method is how NPR stays in business. While NPR does a pledge drive a few times a year, Leo will do a mini-pledge drive once a show for each of his expanding roster of sixteen regular podcasts.
This won’t work if his listeners don’t care if he continues podcasting. If he was good, but not amazing, this wouldn’t work.