Differentiation Factor

Differentiation Factor


28 JULY 2017

written by Mike




Differentiation factor or much simpler expression – the X-Factor.

One question that I try to answer during strategy business workshop is

“What makes you different from your competitors?”

Let’s focus on podcasting.

Podcasting industry is a booming market; we know that. But the low barriers to entry, lack of regulation make the competition hard and the space crowded. So how do you stand out?

According to reports 112 million Americans have listened to a podcast, up 11% in one year and podcast listening growth isn’t accelerating but rather present a steady growth.

It means that it is a good time to join, but we shouldn’t expect results straight away, it’s a long term game plan.

So the question is if you are a fresh podcaster and want to make your show work, how do you outsmart your competition?

And it’s not just podcasting. X-Factor applies to any business. A production house, consulting, writing, speaking.

If you don’t stand out, you get lost in the crowd.

That’s why the X-Factor should be playing a major role in your online identity design, especially in the beginning.

If I was to ask you, why should I choose your services over the other person? And I’m not interested in discounts, I don’t shop for price, I shop for value.

Can you give me the answer straight away? Do you have it written down? Does your designer/talent agency/partner know about it?

The best way to start is with a story, everyone loves an underdog, someone who succeeds amongst all odds. But if your brand and identity design do not show it, nobody will notice.

Make it easy to find, and share.

Remember, though; it has to be authentic and real. Falling into cliches and overused answers is too common.

On the last conference call with her coach Paulina (my partner and agent) was asked a question – how do you respond to client’s objection that your practice is too small for the project.

The first answers from the community were:

“we’ll small, but fast, we can implement ideas faster, we can quickly grow the team with contractors.”

He said that these were good, but textbook answers. Something that everyone says, something that client is expected to hear.

What else do you have that others are lacking?

Think about that, it’s not just about being different for the sake of it. Everyone is different; everyone has a different journey and story.

Don’t skim over yours, make it the centre of your business, something that makes you stand out from the crowd.

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21st Century Work

21st Century Work


21 JULY 2017

written by Mike



“Survival of the fittest.” A phrase that originated from Darwinian evolutionary theory.

Is it a strange topic for an entrepreneur?

Perhaps, but let’s dissect the phrase. “Fittest” does not necessarily mean the strongest, the biggest. It rather describes one who is the most adaptable. One who can thrive in any environment.

I think it’s safe to say that the old Darwinian saying fits well into any industry. 21st-century work is all about being adaptable, being able to make changes in people’s lives. It can be podcasting, production, audio work, anything else. The idea is to push for a change, inspire to not only survive but to thrive in our lives.

Let’s take podcasting for example.

It’s not a secret that podcasting is a highly competitive business. Easy to get into, hard to sustain. Especially if you are just starting out. On the other hand, you have people who build massive empires in this environment. Joe Rogan, Ricky Gervais are the obvious ones.

But why them and not others? What makes them different?

“Survival of the fittest” is something that they understood. The need to innovate, to be flexible and open-minded to the markets and ever-changing customer needs. And of course, new technologies which help to facilitate the changes.

Let’s think how design and technology will help you to stand apart, to be the fittest. For starters, look at the latest trends.

Where is people’s attention?

Where do they spend most of their time?




The first answer that comes to mind is smartphones.

Looking at the latest statistics is evident that mobile internet surfing has passed desktops. And the trend is still going upwards. Same goes for podcasts. It’s mobile, convenient method of content consumption. Easy to start for anyone.

It all sounds amazing. In theory.

And that’s the problem that most people face. It’s easy to say things like ‘podcasting is so hot right now, let’s jump in!’ But not everyone is a narrator; not everyone knows how to edit and produce a podcast. It’s so easy to sell an advice such as “release an episode each week and grow your audience.”

But record what? Where do you find the content? What do you say? How do you edit?

That’s why having a clear vision for your podcast, for your business, is so important. To understand what are your strengths, to prioritise the features and strategy. To be clear on the direction you and your business partners want to take, and to look for help.

“Survival of the fittest” in 21st-century work does not mean that you have to do everything yourself. It means that you understand trends towards mobile and you look for someone who can help to adapt your digital identity.

It means that you can convey your message, your products, your services in any place, at any time. That the technology is just a tool, but a tool you cannot ignore.

Yesterday it was a mail order and newspaper ads; today is online and mobile; tomorrow it will be virtual reality.

And it’s ok; you just need to be ready for it.

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Mixing on Headphones

Mixing on Headphones


14 JULY 2017

written by Mike



During my studies, one rule that was always passed onto us by the teachers was – never mix on the headphones!

The mix should always be done in an acoustically treated room with expensive monitors. It’s the only way to make the piece sound good in every environment.

After the studies, I joined a private school for music production, taught by working professionals – same deal there. The mix must be done on SSL desks, with Dynaudio speakers in a room designed for a quarter of a million pounds.

“Well, it is what it is,” I thought to myself.

After that, I got a job in a sound department at a movie studio. Eight mixing theatres, two with Dolby Atmos sound. Safe to say – everything sounded fantastic there. I worked with most talented dialogue mixers in the country, real veterans of audio mixing.

The rule – never mix on headphones!

Professional mixes must be done in deluxe rooms with the expensive set-up. Even my editing studio had a surround system of calibrated DynaudiosI got used to that comfy chair and top of the shelf editing and mixing system.

Then, I left my job.

I knew I wanted to go freelance and work from home. The issue was real, I’ve cleaned the dust off my Focusrite interface and Adam monitors and was ready. The problem was that my set up is in the bedroom, no acoustics, no high-end studio design.

Mixing gig was out of the window.

Or was it?



After 18 months with Casefile (and other projects), I learned that rules could be broken and be shaped.

I’m proud to say that I mix on headphones.

Yes, I said. Get over it.

I figured that most people listen to podcasts on their phones, on cheap ear-in headphones. So number one goal should be to make it sound as good as possible on that platform. Casefile needs a good mix, a good balance for score and narration. I can’t lie, it is tricky, and I still make mistakes. But so far the unique approach worked quite well for the podcast and my production practice.

I do the first edit on speakers. The first edit is cutting out mistakes, working with creative breaks and pauses, making the narration as a whole.

I do the second edit on headphones. This takes place in iZotope Rx, and it is in-depth cleaning process. I’m not able to hear every little lip smack on the monitors and Sony MDR-7506 headphones are brilliant in revealing details.

When I write music, I do it on monitors.

When I mix the cues, it’s all on headphones.

Then the first mix – I do the first run on Sony MDRs. I try to balance the score and narration, but the issue is that these phones are closed-cup.

They cut out external noise and give amazing, however not a real representation of the mix.


Why not real?

Well, it’s only a small percentage of people who listen to the podcast on these kinds of headphones. Most use ear-ins with their phones. Plus the listening is usually done during the work commute, at the gym or work.

That’s why there is a second pass on the mix. And that’s when I use cheap ear-ins. I have a few pairs as each sounds slightly different and I change them during the mix. I make the adjustments to the score and narration.

And that finalises it.

Yes, I will still check the mix on the monitors, on other mediums but the primary goal is to make it sound good on cheap ear-ins.

There is also an issue of exporting to MP3 format. The mix will sound different when played as compressed MP3 in comparison to what I’ve done in Pro Tools. So I keep that in mind during the mixing process too.

Is it a perfect process? Of course not, but as the saying goes ‘if it sounds good, then it’s good’.

The point I want to make is that times are changing and technological progress means that bedroom producers have now much more power than in the past. Yes, it’s great to have a dedicated room for your work. Acoustically designed for high-end systems. But a laptop and pair of headphones will work too, and it shouldn’t stop you from trying.

Of course, let’s not forget that it’s the mastery of skills that matter the most. Don’t worry about the set up as much, improve where you can but what’s most important – get to work!

To learn more about headphones check out The Big Difference Between DJ Headphones from Home DJ Studio.

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A Word on Ownership

A Word on Ownership


06 JULY 2017

written by Mike



As I’m packing up for my 10th house move in the decade, I’ve noticed a few things. How much I hate packing, how much I love moving to a new place and how little material things matter.

Looking at my grandparents and parents is easy to see the difference in thinking about ownership. Grandparents lived through an unstable period after a war in Poland, ‘hoarding’ was a necessity as they never knew if the stores will be empty again. It stayed with them the rest of their lives, even now the basement is filled with decades-old items, never to be used.

Parents are somewhat similar; communism taught them to value material things as there was never enough. To own something was to display value and success. The thinking stayed with them and now, after living in the UK for ten years their house is filled with stuff.

When I look at it, I think to myself, ‘moving all of this would be a nightmare!’

I think the trends are changing now. It won’t be a quick change, and not everyone will follow, but I am a big believer in ideas presented by Kevin Kelly, a writer and futurist. One that he is big on is ‘access.’

In his book ‘Inevitable’, he describes a future where people don’t own anything. They merely ‘access’ what they want and need.

It’s been slowly happening already. 10 years ago I had a book shelf filled with DVDs, CDs and books. Now it’s all gone.

I replaced it with Netflix, Spotify and Kindle. Still, I have a few boxes of books that I’m taking with me, but I kept them because of sentiment rather than practical reasons.




And the trend will progress. ‘Hiring’ clothes, cars, computers, systems won’t be just a one-in-a-while thing. Cloud is replacing hard storage, and even though I still backup files on my drives, I don’t think that next generation will.

What about a car?

I pay around £50 a month for the insurance, road tax and upkeep. That is £600 a year not counting unexpected repairs and petrol. The car is unused 95% of the time, just sitting there in front of the house.

No, I’m not going to sell it now, but when it finally goes, I will consider if buying a new one is worth it. Of course, everyone is different, and some of the ideas may seem radical to others.

Is it practical at the moment? I don’t think so.

The house that I’m moving in right now is un-furnished meaning I do need a bed, a mattress, a desk, a chair. I can’t rent everything I need. Yet.

But maybe there will be a Netflix-like service for homes in the future?

You select what you want and subscribe?

A coffee machine, TV, bed, couch even cutlery. Then when you want to move, you just unsubscribe, and they collect everything back. Could work.

Sounds crazy enough to be true, I know that right know I would pay a lot for that kind of service. Just to get rid of some boxes.

Anyway, few more days of living out of the boxes and I will be back to my regular schedule of podcasting, writing and producing.

See you in a bit!

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