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How and Why I Launched a Jewish Podcast

How and Why I Launched a Jewish Podcast

Computer keyboard; the return key is blue and says podcast; a small microphone sits on the blue key

I have been an independent person for most of my life. At 14, I started working as a teacher’s assistant in my congregation’s religious school; since leaving home at 17, I have paid all my own bills and put myself through college and a dual master’s degree program.

Unfortunately, independence doesn’t always play well with collaboration and my colleagues often tell me I need to learn to be more collaborative. Having been standing on my own two feet for so long, though, I find it difficult to change my mentality when working in group settings.

This challenge is precisely why I love my podcast!

I first learned about podcasts in graduate school when I had a 60- to 90-minute daily commute in each direction. The interesting stories, interviews, political views, economic analysis, and fun science facts I heard made my time on the road entertaining, educational, and much more fun than it might have been otherwise.

When I moved from Los Angeles to the New York metropolitan area, I took a position focused on internal operations and started to think about ways I could connect with my new Jewish professional community outside the office. A few colleagues already lived and worked in the area, so I met them for lunch to learn about the community and brainstorm ways I could get involved. The conversations we had were fascinating, far reaching, and full of ideas.

One of those ideas was about podcasts: How great would it be to have a podcast in which I got to listen to some of the movers and shakers in my professional community? This was my opportunity to start something new.

I began by researching what Jewish-themed podcasts already exist and how I might start one of my own. Luckily, the cost barriers are low, so I put my education and experience to work crafting what is now It’s Who You Know! The Podcast. In it, I get to know high-level Jewish professionals personally and professionally by interviewing them about their work, the impact they’re having on the larger Jewish community, and what advice they’d offer others.

In a field in which collaboration is valued, I am grateful to work on a project independently, held only to my own standards of excellence. My independence doesn’t mean I don’t need other people, however. I do, of course, and have relied heavily on friends, family members, podcast guests, and listeners for feedback, advice, and help defining the project’s trajectory.

Do you have a project idea lurking in the back of your mind? A need you see that isn’t being addressed? Is there a piece of your personality or a skill you have that your day job simply doesn’t satisfy?

I started a podcast to fill some of those needs and you can too! But it doesn’t have to be a podcast. Do something that appeals to you – anything you want! Maybe that means developing a new kind of network, creating a useful educational tool, or making and selling products that satisfy your creative side. The possibilities are endless.

The best advice I can offer is to start small, do your research, and let it snowball organically. It may take months or years, but all you need to do is take that first step to set your idea in motion. There is great virtue in being independent, taking on a challenge, and expressing your skills and strengths in a fulfilling way. Although I can’t say it will be easy, I can say it will be well worth the effort!

Michelle W. Malkin, MPA, MJNM, is the operations manager for Women of Reform Judaism. She also is the founder and host of It’s Who You Know! The Podcast. She grew up in Los Angeles and now lives in Palisades Park, NJ, with her husband Barak.

Published: 12/28/2017

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