Personally, I would love to require plastic manufacturers to find a way to recycle soft plastics/flexible packaging, like potato chip bags, ziptop packages and plastic baggies. Right now, there aren’t products or markets that find this useful, so even if you recycle it (“wishcycling”) it either contaminates the batch or ends up in the trash. Let’s make manufacturers more responsible for what they put out into the world, and consumers more responsible for what they throw away. And tie it together with legislation to help incentivize both ends!

For my series on strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lisa Linke.

Lisa Linke is an actress, writer, improviser and podcast host. She currently co-hosts Go Help Yourself, a comedy self-help podcast to make life suck less, available anywhere you listen to podcasts. While she reads a ton of self-help for her podcast, she absolutely despises it on principle.

Thank you for joining us Lisa! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Go Help Yourself came about because my friend Misty Stinnett called me in August of 2018 and asked if I liked self-help, because she wanted to start a podcast. “I bleeping hate it” was my response, but I didn’t say bleeping. I pitched to her that having a dissenting view might make for an interesting premise, and we started brainstorming almost immediately and recording within weeks.

Each week, we review a popular self-help book. We share the main points of the book through both a comedic and critical lens, laughing our way through the best and worst advice. We read the books so that you don’t have to; instead, you can go on with your busy life while still getting the perspective-altering self-help advice you’ve been craving. If you love what you’re hearing, you’ll know reading the book is worth your time. And if you hate the book, you’ll know you can say “thank you, next” with no regret.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Misty and I both think very similarly, and both have experience in production, so we were well suited and truly I could not ask for a better production partner. I don’t know if it’s the funniest, or even necessarily a mistake, but as we were planning out our format, we thought that having two episodes per week would be ideal. It crossed our mind maybe only once that we were literally doubling our output requirement, even though the minisodes (now lovingly called “Weekly Beefs”) would be much shorter. So… with that choice we went from one episode per week to two, four per month to eight, and fifty-two episodes per year to one hundred and four…holy cow. Sometimes we would be sitting in the recording studio and look at each other and say “this is our 100th episode. ONE HUNDREDTH EPISODE OH MY GOD” and realize that had we made the choice to have one per week, we wouldn’t have been saying that until the end of our second year! It took us a while to find the right groove with our amazing producer in terms of timing: recording, editing, mastering, etc. But once we hit our groove it felt easy. Now knocking out four episodes in one recording session feels like a cakewalk.

I think the lesson (and a lesson we learned from one of the books we covered: The Upside of Your Dark Side, by Todd Kashdan and Robert Biswas-Diener) is that humans are terrible predictors of what we will feel like in the future. There’s a thing called the wanting/liking bias: it’s a decision making bias where happiness is concerned. There is a distinction between wanting something and liking something. Sounds easy enough, except that the two regions in the brain designated for these processes are separate in the brain. So, if we think we want something, we might like it when we get it… but this isn’t necessarily true.

When we were struggling to get our process flow down, when we wanted to build up a buffer of episodes, when our initial recording sessions were long because we were still getting the hang of recording and working in this new capacity together (and with our amazing producer), often there were moments where it felt overwhelming. The good news is that we were steadfast in our convictions of what we wanted this podcast to be, and we knew if we kept moving forward we would get through it.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your podcast? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Something I don’t think we expected was the relationship we would develop with our producer, Matt Sav. He’s become almost a third host of the podcast. We were so lucky to find him! He’s even guest hosted on the podcast! He is an incredible person and a joy to work with and now a dear friend. Having a close relationship with Sav has been a delight for us and a blessing — with the incredible output we try to achieve, there is no way we could do it without a wonderful working relationship. Additionally, he is truly incredible at his job. He makes us sound amazing. The quality of our podcast is top notch. During the safer-at-home order here in California, we’ve been recording remotely and we miss the professional quality of Fairfax Village Studios!

Everyone already knows that you have to have good relationships in business. I think what’s interesting is being open to what kind of real friendship that can become. Each of us shared vulnerability with each other — at different moments, after we had learned to trust one another through our work and conversation. Those moments are the most special to me, because they really brought us closer together, and I count them as true friends, not just colleagues or production partners. We covered Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly, which is a book about vulnerability and her lifelong study of it. Basically, vulnerability leads to whole-hearted living, which is much richer and deeper and worth it. But it requires you to be vulnerable, which is terrifying. From now on, whenever I have the capacity to control it, I’m going to choose to work with people who can earn my vulnerability and I’m going to be open to being present to theirs. It does make for a deeper working relationship.

What do you think makes your podcast stand out? Can you share a story?

I think a few things make our podcast unique:

Misty and I are friends.

Many of our listeners say they feel like they are in a conversation with their friends when they listen to our episodes. Some tell us that we keep them company while at work.

We are Hermiones by nature.

We come prepared when we present our book. We are critical thinkers and don’t avoid conflict, so there are many moments on our podcast where we have discussions and disagreements with the author, each other (and sometimes our guests).

But we come to self-help from different perspectives.

Misty is a true joy and someone who is brilliant at finding a useful nugget of information, no matter what the content is. She is able to take a trash heap of information and make it work for her, and pull out magical learnings for everyone. On the other hand, you’ve got me, a Midwesterner who doesn’t like anyone telling her what to do and brings major side-eye to anyone claiming to have it all figured out. The two of us somehow find a way to root out useful self-help for anyone and absolute garbage that should be avoided at all costs.

We like to be intersectional.

We try as best we can to acknowledge our privilege, to read books by authors who help us broaden our understanding of others’ experiences, and call out privilege when authors do not do that themselves.

We love a dumpster fire.

Well, we don’t love it, but we give ourselves a break every now and then from Eckart Tolle and read some trash heap of “self-help” that is usually written by a man telling women how to get men and just eviscerate it and scream and have a good time. Once we covered the book Texts So Good He Can’t Ignore and we got so many messages from listeners saying they laughed so hard along with us!

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

We try to schedule breaks in our recording so that we don’t feel overloaded, and we try to plan ahead for holidays and busy times, giving ourselves plenty of rest and extra time.

Because we each have to read two books a month, we are very careful about scheduling extra commitments for our podcast, and we are very forgiving of each other if life happens or events conspire and make it difficult to finish reading. Having a buffer of episodes gives us that freedom to be flexible and human when we are overwhelmed.

There’s also a book called Burn Out that we want to cover on our podcast! But something we have learned from all our journeys into self-help is that you have to do what works for you, and if it doesn’t work for you — it’s okay, drop it and move on to something else.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

One moment stands out in particular. Early on in recording our podcast, I was having a particularly difficult time, and I was extra stressed because I had read all these self-help books — and the result was that I felt less capable because none of the tools I learned were helping! I called my best friend Sarah and while I was crying explaining, she listened and gave me the support I needed. After we had chatted a while and I felt better, she gave it to me straight: she said “Lisa, this is exactly the stuff you need to be talking about on your podcast.” She was right, and we tackled it on a very personal Weekly Beef. I think it helped bring us closer to our audience and demonstrate vulnerability that we now receive in multitudes from our listeners via emails, direct messages and reviews.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Though we’ve only published episodes for just over a year, we have listeners in over 100 countries and we hear from many of them abroad as well as at home. In other cultures where going to therapy isn’t as accepted, we hear from a lot that they appreciate us sharing our own therapy journeys and being fierce advocates for mental health. We also get a lot of appreciation for having discussions about the difficulty of some prescribed systems of self-help (like The Secret) and how it can feel like victim blaming to some, and really empowering to others.

At the end of the day, we are happy to shed some discerning, comedic light on a huge industry that is all-encompassing and unregulated.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was relevant to you in your life?

My family has always said “just do the best you can.” I think now, even more than ever, that holds true. Right now, on some days, your best is not going to include brushing your teeth — and that’s okay. Do whatever you need to do to get through the day. Other days will have more energy, drive and focus, but there is no right or wrong way to make it through a pandemic (outside of staying at home and listening to medical professionals and scientists, please and thank you).

What are your “Top 5 Things Needed to Succeed in Podcasting and sharing stories” Please share a story or example for each.

1. Hire a wonderful producer

Both Misty and I had zero interest in learning how to record and edit, so this was essential. We interviewed and resourced before we found someone who fit in our budget and fit with our work style. Manage the work flow and keep the relationship professional — but allow for it to become more!

2. Have a plan or format before you begin

While your idea seems great, it’s best if you have a show format — no matter how simple — before you start recording. Just turning on the microphone and speaking seems easy and that’s because all the hard work is in constructing a show that is engaging and drives listeners and shares.

3. Be malleable

It takes time to figure out what works best, and everyone knows that the very first few episodes of any long-running podcast do not sound the same as the latest. It’s kind of fun to find your footing rather than demand you adhere to what you agreed to, if it’s working or not. Plus, it makes it more fun to be in a place of discovery vs. mandate. At the beginning of our episodes, we had a transition out at the end with a quote or something and then we found that there was enough content and the episodes felt complete without it so we dropped it.

4. Ask for what you need

I think part of the reason Misty and I work together well is because we are upfront about what is going on in our lives and then we work together to make sure we are taken care of first as friends and then as production partners. 2019 was a difficult year for us both personally, which we shared on an episode. By being open with one another, we were able to support one another when we had to travel and take time off, were overwhelmed with family obligations or personal struggles. This made getting through difficult times much easier than if we tried to shoulder it alone.

5. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t upload

We have been able to keep our recording schedule going by remote recording (knock on wood). The quality isn’t the same, and we really miss seeing each other face to face right now, but we are proud of continuing to put out content. At the end of the day, if we were to be unable to upload, the world would keep turning. I think both Misty and I are very proud of our work to give ourselves a buffer and then to also do the best we can, but if we were unable to upload for any reason, it wouldn’t be the end of us, we’d just pick back up when we could.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Personally, I would love to require plastic manufacturers to find a way to recycle soft plastics/flexible packaging, like potato chip bags, ziptop packages and plastic baggies. Right now, there aren’t products or markets that find this useful, so even if you recycle it (“wishcycling”) it either contaminates the batch or ends up in the trash. Let’s make manufacturers more responsible for what they put out into the world, and consumers more responsible for what they throw away. And tie it together with legislation to help incentivize both ends!

Based off what we’ve done with Go Help Yourself, I would just love to amplify more intersectionality of self-help. I wish mainstream publishers and editors would give us more perspectives to consume than just the traditional white, cisgendered, heterosexual male views.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Go Help Yourself:

Instagram: @gohelpyourselfpodcast

Twitter: @GHYPodcast

Facebook: @gohelpyourselfpodcast

Lisa Linke:

Instagram: @itslinke

Twitter: @itslinke