Innovators can laugh podcast host Eric Melchor speaks to Thrive Global about avoiding burnout

How do you make a business podcast fun? Ask Eric Melchor. The Texan marketer-turned-business-owner picks the brains of entrepreneurs across Europe, but his warmth and humor make everyone feel at home. His podcast, Innovators Can Laugh (ICL), “is like The Tonight Show” for entrepreneurs.

Last year, Eric Melchor expanded his passion for podcasting by gathering other lovers of the medium under one umbrella: B2BPodPros. The network now counts more than 20 podcast creators who can help B2B brands stand out through custom, host-read advertising.

Here, Eric Melchor tells us how he started his business, what he does to keep burnout at bay, and how being his own boss has improved his life and mental health.

You say about your podcast that it’s part business story, interview, and comedy show — and it really feels that way! What made you decide on this approach to podcasting?

Well, when I listen to a podcast, I don’t just want to learn something. If I’m going to be an avid listener of a particular show, I want to feel like I am hanging out with the guest and host. And this would mean hearing some stories, laughing a bit, and just breaking away from other biz related podcasts that seem to be focused on tactics and strategies.

You worked in several marketing roles before deciding to build your own business. What was the spark that led to this?

It was more out of necessity.

When moving to Romania, I had no job nor any contacts. I was able to start finding work as a contractor, but not as a full-time employee. After working for a few startups that had hit rough times and were not able to grow as anticipated (and being let go), I knew that for me, to thrive here in Europe and make a decent wage, I was going to have to create a business myself. 

How do you feel about burnout in creative industries? Have you personally experienced it? If so, how did you handle it?

Yes! This is a real thing. As a creative, I tend to spend way too much time on low-leverage activities that don’t really matter yet I enjoy. For example, creating video clips of my podcast to upload onto TikTok and YouTube. This takes hours.

So what I’ve begun to do is identify low-leverage activities like this and either outsource them to my virtual assistant or cut them entirely. This has helped a lot in reducing my workload and thus reducing stress.

How has being your own boss improved your life quality and mental health? 

At this stage in my life, it’s more about flexibility and quality of life. I have two little kids and I want to be able to walk them to/from school, play with them, read to them, and take them to all their activities.

Whereas before I was working in the evenings two-three times during the week (doing webinars, calls with partners and customers based in the US), now I only do a call in the evening if I want to.

The other thing is, I thrive in this new role I created for myself because it’s about relationships. I get to help other marketers like me make money, work with people I enjoy collaborating with, and still challenge myself in ways that help me learn new skills and continue to grow.

Related: 10 founders reveal the wellness habits that keep them at the top of their game

Tell us a bit about B2BPodPros – how did you come up with that, and why? 

Prior to forming the network, I wasn’t having any luck in getting sponsorships. My podcast download numbers aren’t ridiculously crazy – like in the 1000s – and I only have a few hundred newsletter subscribers.

Then one day, the thought just came to me: I know a lot of other B2B podcasters. Why don’t I ask them if they’d like to be a part of a group and we pitch group sponsorship deals? This would be more attractive to brands and there would be no risk on the podcaster’s part.

So, I did some research and found another person who was trying to do the same thing, which was good since it helped validate my idea. So, the first 60 days was all about getting a few people to be a part of the group, create a page on my site about it, and begin researching topics that I could write about as it related to podcast advertising and marketing on LinkedIn.

Within 45 days of our soft launch, we had our first group sponsorship which I’m really excited about. My goal for 2024 is to have 35 B2B podcasters in the network and do about 25 sponsorship deals.

Can you please share with us three things you’ve learned from your podcast guests that have impressed you the most?

For me, the guests I consider the most successful are those who treat entrepreneurship and life as a game. The losses they’ve experienced, for them, are just a part of life. They’ve bounced back without losing their enthusiasm and spark for life. Out of 100+ founder interviews, there’s a handful of people who seem to have this zest and when I think of them, it puts a smile on my face.

A second takeaway is that the majority of the really ‘successful ones’ were very entrepreneurial when they were younger. Even when they were kids. They hustled, were very curious, read a lot, and had all kinds of jobs before launching their startups.

A third takeaway is that several of the founders on my show either used to be professional video gamers or played a lot as amateurs when they were younger. Because many of these games require fast decision-making, an understanding of many variables at play, and cooperation from teammates, this has helped them in building and leading their companies.

“Innovators Can Laugh” – and they sure do, every Thursday, when new episodes drop. Listen here. Want to connect with Eric? Find him on LinkedIn.