The job of a Water Professional can be lonely: in many utilities, water treaters are on their own – or not far from it. But to keep you growing as a person, a certain friend has your back, your favorite water podcast.
Don’t worry; this one is not about bragging (as much as I praise my water podcast, I’m not that selfish yet!). It’s all about getting to know better one of the legends of that game:
with 🎙️ Trace Blackmore – Owner of Blackmore Enterprises and Host of the “Scaling Up! H2O” podcast
💧 The “Scaling Up! H2O” podcast intends to prove to you every week why working in Industrial Water Treatment is the best job in the world.
What we covered:
📈 How there are 1.3 million water professionals in the US alone
🪐 How the scattered nature of the Water Industry brings most of these professionals to almost work alone and how much of a burden this can sometimes be
🏃♀️ How state of the art always evolves in Water and how risky it can be to struggle to access new knowledge streams
😔 How unfair it can be to work in the Water Sector: you will surely get blamed for your mistakes but hardly noticed for your successes
🎙️ How a water podcast can help connect the dots, how Trace first launched his, and what his thesis was by then (and still is)
🙌 How the “Scaling Up! H2O” grew into the “Scaling Up Nation” and how important it was to gather a community around the content stream
🤝 How Trace extends his impact into teaching and masterminds – and how much that has to do with a famous JFK quote
👔 How Trace started his entrepreneurial journey and why
📈 How being true to his voice and style was the decisive kick to setting the path to success
🔁 Trace’s bullet-proof process to produce quality podcast content that you should steal and copy
4️⃣ Four “DOs” and Two “DON’Ts” to help you start out a successful show
⏲️ Trace’s crazy schedule when it comes to interviewing people
💥 Creating a spark, building a community, being a catalyst, developing a business model, starting from square six, being a Friends fan… and so much more!
🔥 … and of course, we concluded with the 𝙧𝙖𝙥𝙞𝙙 𝙛𝙞𝙧𝙚 𝙦𝙪𝙚𝙨𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣𝙨 🔥
➡️ Send your warm regards to Trace on LinkedIn
➡️ Check the Scaling Up! H2O’s website
is on Linkedin ➡️
Teaser: Bringing Water Professionals together with a Water Podcast (and a Nation)
Infographic: How the Scaling Up Nation brings Water Professionals togetherInfographic-Trace-Blackmore-Scaling-Up-H2O-Bring-Water-Professionals-Together
Table of contents
These are computer-generated, so expect some typos 🙂
Get Season 2's Summary!
Antoine Walter: Hi, Trace. Welcome to the show.
Trace Blackmore: Yeah, thank you so much for having me on! I’m super excited to talk to you.
Antoine Walter: I can’t tell you how excited I am, because you are always referring to the nation when you open your own podcast. And very humbly, from very far and very remotely, I’m somehow part of that nation! So I’m really happy to have you today on the microphone to get to know you a bit better and to go a bit behind the scenes of the Scaling Up H2O! podcast, but I have traditions on that microphone and that starts with a postcard.
So what can you tell me about the place you’re at which I would ignore by now?
Trace Blackmore: So I am in Atlanta, Georgia, and I don’t know if the whole world knows this, but Atlantians definitely know it. We have a traffic problem! So somewhere that might be 10 miles down the road can take 10 minutes to two hours. So you always have to be on your toes to make sure you are on time.
So traffic reports are a necessity. If you ever come here to Atlanta.
Antoine Walter: I’m really glad that you made it on time for that discussion.
Trace Blackmore: That was a very good one!
Antoine Walter: I’d like to get to know you a bit better. You are running a company which has your name, and you have a history with another company, which has the same name as you, which I guess is your father’s company.
I just wanted to get first, the elevator pitch to your company so that we get to understand what you do when you’re not podcasting. And I’m really intrigued by what you were doing at Ray Blackmore associates in the past.
Trace Blackmore: Well, actually my dad and I never worked together. I never worked for Ray Blackmore associates, my dad and I never owned a company together. I should probably say: my dad and I worked for a company called national chemical that got sold in the early two thousands. He decided that he was gonna retire.
And I decided that I was gonna start my own firm. So I started Blackmore enterprises from scratch. My dad tried to retire. He did not like that lifestyle. So he then started Ray Blackmore and associates. And you really did your research. Nobody ever mentions that company name! And the only time I really did anything within my father’s company is when he passed away.
I did spend some time up in the Virginia area and I helped my stepmother close all the accounts. But I started Blackmore enterprises in 2004. I always wanted the opportunity to do water treatment the way I knew I wanted to do it the way my father taught me to do it. But people told me I couldn’t do it that way, because it was too expensive or people weren’t going to appreciate it, or I wasn’t going to be profitable.
And I figured, well, let’s give it a shot. And I wanted to make sure that we had laboratory type equipment in the field so we could get the best results, which meant we were carrying some of the most expensive test kits. And I always wanted to do that when I was working with other people. And I was told we can’t afford that.
Nobody will appreciate it. And we might go bankrupt. Well, I’ve been doing it since 2004. We have not gone bankrupt. I do think our customers appreciate that. And I know our team enjoys having the best equipment so they can get the best results without having to come back to the lab, doing that right in the mechanical rooms of where we’re servicing our company.
So, really enjoyed being a business owner, but even more, I enjoy being a water treater.
Antoine Walter: So you create your company in 2004 and 13 years down the line in 2017, you start your water podcast. Is there a link between both like one is promoting the other or was it just another endeavor?
Trace Blackmore: I would say definitely they support each other. That wasn’t the original intention, but now I have content out in. The universe that will point people back to our company. So that definitely helps that wasn’t my primary motivation. I didn’t even know what a podcast was in 2015 I’ve always been a member of a mastermind group.
And then eventually I started my own mastermind group, but in this mastermind group a colleague of mine said, trace, you really need to do your own podcast. This was in 2015. And I said, well, that’s very flattering. What’s a podcast. I had no idea. So he kinda laughed a little bit and we downloaded my first podcast plane app, which was Stitcher.
And he said, these are a few podcasts that I enjoy listening to. And if I remember, I think one was Tim Ferris, another one was John Lee Dumas entrepreneurs on fire. There were a couple others, but I started listening to this and I was like, oh my gosh, this is free. These people are just giving me information so I can improve myself.
I can improve my business. I instantly fell in love with the content. And as I mentioned earlier, Atlanta has a traffic problem. So I had no issue with plenty of time to listen to podcasts. So it took me about two years to really get the courage, to start my own podcast. In 2017 in April, I used a Bluetooth headset and recorded the worst podcast episode in podcast history, loaded it up to apple.
And for some reason they accepted it and now we’re 200 and something episodes past that. So that’s how that got started.
Antoine Walter: First, I would say wrong. It is by far not the worst episode ever. It is an episode where you feel the Bluetooth headset for sure, but you have a very clear story, and you’re expressing pretty clearly what you want to do. You’re saying that nobody knows what we really do is what the professionals, which was true by then, and which – we may discuss this – might still be true today.
But I think as a very first one, that one was very good. Yet what’s even more spectacular is that I knew the scaling up H2O podcast from the latest ones, because I’m listening for about as long as I started mine. So let’s say two years, roughly. So I know that you have a crisp sound and very high-quality content.
And I thought, when did it change from that headset setup to the very more advanced one? And then I listened to episode two and everything was there. That is spectacular! How between episode one and episode two, it’s not like six month in between it’s one week you turn it on its head.
So what happened between those two episodes?
Trace Blackmore: Well, I listened to episode one and I realized how bad the sound quality was. So then I reached out to some of my friends and that’s probably the biggest life. That that I’ve had is you can’t do life alone. You don’t know everything. So ask people that might know something more than you. And there are a lot of people that were in this space that I knew, and they gave me some recommendations for some equipment.
And I’m like, are you crazy? That’s so expensive. So I didn’t go with their top. Line recommendations. But for episode two, I did get a better microphone. I’ve had three microphones throughout actually four, if you count the Bluetooth headset, but let’s not count that. So I’ve had three microphones throughout the podcast and I’m also a scuba dive instructor and I taught a broadcaster here in Atlanta.
Who’s been in broadcasting for 50 years. How to scuba dive his name is Scott S slate. He hosts Atlanta morning news and he said, you’ve been so helpful in opening up the under work water world of scuba diving. How about, I help you with your technology in your podcast? So he came over to my studio and he pretty much helped me build what I have now.
And I see we share the same microphone, a sure. SM seven B. By the way, that’s called the. Thriller microphone in his industry because Michael Jackson recorded thriller on it. So I don’t know if you knew that. I have a road soundboard and it made it a lot easier for me to accommodate guests.
Because as you know, as a podcast cast host, we have technical difficulties. Now I have multiple ways that I can connect with people. And just learning along the. And investing when it made sense. And I really love technology. So getting a new toy is always.
Antoine Walter: But technology is one thing, but what’s impressive is that by episode one, by the way, already, you have the radio voice in the sense that you’re not just rambling around, you have a story to tell, and you’re pretty, not pretty, you’re absolutely clear in how you express it. Did you practice before or.
Is it just your natural talent?
Trace Blackmore: I’ve always enjoyed speaking and I’ve endeavored to speak better. Sometimes I do better than others. And I have worked with a speech coach. He will listen to me and he will say, you know, you’re using this garbage word, a word that doesn’t need to be there. I want you to practice not saying that.
And at times I would have a post-it note on my monitor when I was doing a podcast like this and it would have that word with a cross through it. So I would mentally just think not to. And then he would listen to it and he would find something else. So I reached outside for people to critique me so I could get better.
But I’ll tell you between episode one and two. And I hadn’t thought about this in a long time, so I’m glad you brought it up. The best piece of advice. I. Ever received was for somebody that works with me. His name is Chris. He was the first person I ever hired in my company. And I told him, I was thinking about doing this podcast and I played episode one for him.
And he’s looking at me as he’s listening to it, which is always fun. And he says, that’s not, you. I’m like, oh, well the sound quality’s maybe a little bad, but no, that’s my voice. He goes no, that’s not what I’m saying. That’s not, you I’ve seen you in front of an audience when you’re on stage. You really draw people in.
You can tell a story and you didn’t do that here. You need to figure out. How you do what you do on stage and bring that to the microphone. And I think you’re gonna have a very successful show. So after that, I now envision that I’m speaking at ant conference or another conference, and I that’s where I got the motivation to improve episode.
Number one into episode number two.
Antoine Walter: the one question which everybody bounces at me is why did you start a podcast?
And I don’t have a clever answer to it, aside from a bit different from you. I’m listening to podcasts since the iPod is out. So I’m a big fan of podcast. And at some point I thought I want to have one. There was no rational. And so it’s hard to post rationalize something which was. Emotionally an ambition. I’m wondering if you have a much better answer to that question than me. Why did you start a podcast?
Trace Blackmore: I don’t think it’s in any better answer. I think I. Why we do something is the best answer for us. So I’ll give you my best answer. I enjoy teaching. I enjoy teaching for two different reasons. I enjoy letting people know maybe a different way of looking at things and creating that spark that gets them excited to learn.
The next thing I get addicted to that. I love to see that spark in people. The second reason is very selfish. When I teach something or when I learn enough about a topic to share it with somebody I’m a much better student, I’m going to learn that so much better because now I’m expected to answer questions on it or I’m even expected to be the expert on it.
So for those two reasons is why I truly decided to do the podcast and I still do it today.
Antoine Walter: Does that turn you into an expert of 200 plus topics?
Trace Blackmore: I would say I am the expert on the scaling up H two O podcast. There’s no better expert on the scaling up. H two O podcast outside of that. Yeah. I’ll let the world, judge.
Antoine Walter: You’ve been not only building the podcast itself, but you’re referring every time you open the podcast to the nation. And I’m just wondering how you define that nation. Is it everybody that’s gots once one action of advice from you, or is it really people who reach out to you?
Trace Blackmore: I’ve always referred to my listeners as the nation. I was thinking that the water treatment community can be lonely. We’re maybe working in far away places. So maybe we’re commuting by ourselves. We don’t have people to. To converse with, maybe we get to the location where we’re going to do our work and we’re alone.
We’re working, doing titrations. And I was thinking, how could I create something that resembled a community? And then I thought about, well, if we created that community, what could we call. And I started looking at different words for community and I saw the word nation. I was like, well, that’s interesting.
So I, I lovingly call everybody that listens to the podcast, the scaling up nation. And I’m just amazed at. How far the podcast has reached how many listeners the podcast has reached. And that is not because of me. That’s because of people listening to the podcast saying, Hey, we finally have a podcast that’s for us.
And it’s that nation that continues to grow the nation.
Antoine Walter: You’ll correct me on that one. I’ve read some statistics, which say that there’s 1 million water professional in the us. Does that sound roughly accurate?
Trace Blackmore: I don’t know where that information is. I’ve never been able to find accurate information ever since I’ve been on the board for the association of water technologies. Always been looking for that information. We have something over here in the states called the standard industry code and there’s not one for industrial water treatment.
So we really don’t know. I’ve heard that number as well. I’ve always assumed that’s as good a number as any, but I don’t know how to prove it.
Antoine Walter: What I’m heading with that is that if you are water professional in the UK, there’s 12 utilities. So chances are that you have a lot of colleagues working with you if you’re a water professional in the us, but that’s also true for Switzerland, for Germany in the us. I think there’s 90,000 utilities.
So chances are that. If you’re lucky you have two colleagues. It limits the conversation to, to really the daily life and have your grease, the pump, which is absolutely important. But sometimes I see podcasts like yours, like a chance to get connected on a very different level, to very different topics. Is that right? Even remotely?
Trace Blackmore: One of my goals is to connect people within our industry. And depending on where you are you might have the opportunity to talk to more people than others, but I think everybody would agree that we are in a lonely industry.
And we’re also in a very technical industry that if we don’t have people that we can talk to, to bounce ideas off of, we might not. Get to the right solution or the best solution. So I’m constantly trying to make sure that we’re making it as easy as possible to find the podcast. I’m always asking people that listen to the podcast to let other people know that we do have a podcast.
And I’m always asking for the people that listen to the podcast to let me know. What’s the next topic that they want me to talk about. And I’ve always looked at the topic. On which I will have on scaling up H two O is anything that’s helped me throughout my career. It’s fair game. So sometimes I might seem I’m all over the map, but I’ve used that somehow to become better at something in the water treatment industry.
So my hope is that we have a community that’s learning. We have a community that is making the industry. We’re in an industry that most of our customers don’t understand what it is that we do. And if we don’t hold ourselves to a high standard, a lot of times our customers don’t know to do that.
And if we’re not holding ourselves to the highest standard. That’s bad for all of us. So it’s my hope that in addition to having a community, that we’re all increasing the bar within the industry. And I will tell you, it’s amazing when I go to different conferences, how many people come up to me and say that, oh, thank you so much for this podcast episode, because I was able to do.
Well, first off, I might have created a spark. They were the ones that did all of that. If the podcast is the catalyst for them to get to the next level, I absolutely love that. And I will see people that don’t know each other, but they’ll have in common that they listen to the scaling up H two O podcast.
And then. They go off in a conversation so we can actually see that the scaling up nation, even though we’re all separately listening to the podcast. When we come together, that’s the commonality. That’s bringing us even closer together.
Antoine Walter: But do you have an actual place to gather on social media or in real life?
Trace Blackmore: So we do social media and I say, we it’s my team. That’s not my forte. So we’re probably most followed on LinkedIn. So every podcast we do, we follow a procedure where we promote it a certain time before. Then we promote during that episode coming out and then two weeks after we repro promote that episode letting people know if in case they missed it.
So we do that with every episode, we try to highlight members within the scaling up nation. I love getting letters or emails or even texts where people will say, oh, this is something I did because of this episode. Or I really like that. You all did this. And this is the result of it. I love to highlight them in our social media posts.
And we call that our nation spotlight and we’ll highlight things that they.
Antoine Walter: Talking of the things that you’d like them to do, or you’re the spark for them to do it. There’s the various shapes of the challenges which you have with James. And I was looking a bit back in your podcast history, and I saw that you met him by episode 21. Did you know him before?
Trace Blackmore: When I first started thinking about a podcast, the first person I called was James McDonald, James and I met years ago in service to the association of water technologies. We were both committee chairs and james loves the industry as much as I do. And we’ve always collaborated with each other.
We’ve never really worked together up until recently, but we’ve always collaborated. So I wanted to know what James thought about having a podcast. And I almost didn’t get the whole thought out of my mouth before he said, do it. You gotta do it. This is something we’ve needed. And I think you’re gonna do a great job.
You need to do it. So not only was he given me advice, he was really cheering me on to do. So I then told him my first 10 episodes that I had mapped out and would that be a good podcast? And he said, I really think that it would, so James has been my first cheerleader. He tells me he’s my number one super fan.
And he has just fantastic in all of the stuff that we do to make the scaling up H two O podcast, what it.
Antoine Walter: but he also has, little Chronicles inside your podcast. How did that start? And what’s your relationship to that extent?
Trace Blackmore: So James called me one day and he said, I would really like to help you do what you do. And I’m thinking of ways that I can help. And I am encouraging people to read along with me. And I think he was reading maybe the NACO or the bets book or something like that. And it happened late in the year, so we weren’t able to get that one to work, but that.
Ignited a spark where we were like, yes, we really need to figure this out. So we intentionally over the next couple of months, we worked on something and then James came up with the idea of what do we call the segment last year? This year is thinking on water with James and I can’t remember what did he call the last.
Antoine Walter: There was a challenge.
Trace Blackmore: James’ challenge. Yes. That was it. James’ challenge. And he came up with 52 separate challenges to just get you to think differently. And James offered to do that. I thought it fit great within our mission. We were trying to get people to go to the next level. So that was very well received. And James said, do you wanna do it again next year?
And my team? And I said, absolutely. So now we’re. Thinking on water with James and I suspect we’re gonna do something the next year and the year after that people really enjoy that. And it gives me an opportunity to talk with my friend, James.
Antoine Walter: you mentioned your team and you’ve had behind the scene episode on your podcast. I think that was episode 182. I’m cheating. I looked for it because I remember it had listened to it, but I had to find it in your feet. from your team, I know now two names. So we have Lauren Feld, which is your assistant.
Trace Blackmore: She was my assistant. She decided that she was gonna spend some more time with her family. She was fantastic. So she is her position is now being held by Corrin, Dr. And she is amazing.
Antoine Walter: and you have sh Duley, which is your sound, the Ditter. And if I’m right, also your ghost Speaker, because you’re speaking to him when you’re recording so that he can.
Trace Blackmore: Funny story about that. Yes, Sean is my audio engineer and I always talk with Sean as if he were here whenever I’m on this microphone. And I didn’t tell my guests that. And people are like, who the heck are you talking to? So I, now, when we do the housekeeping in the very beginning of the episode, I let them know that I will be speaking with Sean.
I will give him audible cues to make it easier for him to edit, kind of let him know what direction I’m thinking the show’s going in. I also give my guests the opportunity to do that as well. So you never hear that on the final episode, but I have complete conversations with Sean. And the funny thing was, and you probably heard this on that episode.
He has them back with me as I’m speaking on a recording. So we have a very interesting relationship.
Antoine Walter: Who comes up with the topics and the guest suggestion is that.
Trace Blackmore: I do probably 90% of that. And I also have Karen is always looking for other guests that might not be in my circle that we can invite.
Antoine Walter: Do you have also people who reach out to you?
Trace Blackmore: At first, we didn’t now we do. And that’s really exciting to me, cuz that tells me that we’ve reached a level in the podcast where people actually want to come on the show in the beginning, I had. Beg people to come on the show. So people will say I wanna share something with the scale and up nation and those guests are a hundred percent welcome.
What I shy away from. I get a lot of people that see the reach that we have as a podcast. And they say, I wanna sell something on the show and I never do an interview around sales. It’s only around education. I do have a format for people that do want to advertise on the podcast. But my criteria is it’s gotta be a product that either I’ve used or a product that I could see using because it’s going to help the lives of the listeners.
And if it meets one or two of those criteria, then we invite them on to be an APPT.
Antoine Walter: You mentioned the reach. The word of podcast is pretty hard when it comes to number. You don’t have like YouTube a view count, and then everybody would be watching that. So I want to listen notes. And I look for your podcast in listen notes and listen notes saves me that you’re one of the top five person.
Most popular shows all categories in the world. There’s 3 million podcasts listed on listen notes. You’re one of the top five person there. does that seem consistent with your own experience and would you be open and eager to share some numbers?
Trace Blackmore: I’m happy to share numbers. I don’t know how accurate they are. And I’m humbled to, to hear those numbers. I really hope they’re right, but who knows? I think apple knows, and Apple’s not telling anybody. Most of our downloads take place on iPhones. And apple has all those statistics and they give us just little drips and DRS of information to keep us coming back.
We’ve tried so many different services to try to figure out what our stats are. Of course we use a service called Libsin to host our podcast. We get some statistics there, but then we might look at another statistics site and it’ll be totally different. So I really don’t know the answer. I will say when I go to a conference.
I wanna believe the statistics that you just said because people will come over to me. And they’ll say that they listen to the show and if we only had five people listening to the show I wouldn’t get a response like that. I don’t know the real numbers. The numbers that I’ve seen that I’ve kind of just gravitated to, I don’t know how accurate they are, but it looks like with the consistency in downloads, we’re about 12,000 subscribers.
I would say. And then we’re in 95 countries with at least 90% of that being in the United States. But then if you look at a different service, those numbers are all over the map. So I don’t know if that’s helpful. Do you have the secret on where you go to find out podcast stats and they are really real
Antoine Walter: No you have many different sites who claim having numbers. And of course the more you pay, the more they give you numbers doesn’t mean that they’re more accurate. You have chart table who looks to the charts from all. Categories of apple podcasts across the word. But then if all of a sudden there’s a bot army who decides to download your podcast, the charts go up, but the real numbers don’t go up.
So I’ve had the case recently. I just noticed I was number one in Lithuania. I was just wondering who the hell listens to me in Lithuania. And I didn’t see any bump in my downloads in that geography from my feed. So I thought maybe someone is testing out a bot or something like that. So it. It is a weird word, but I think your metric is probably the best one.
If you’re bumping into people who happen to know the podcast and gens are that they genuinely listen to it. The best metric I found, but it’s a fully subjective one is when you see one episode shared by someone you don’t know, that’s a sign that’s someone just found it and found. Sufficiently good so that they were ready to share it, even if they don’t know you. So that to me is the holy grail of the metrics whenever that happens. When I started. That podcast I looked to who was out there and I listen a bit and honestly I didn’t start with the ambition to say, I can do much better than those guys at all.
It was just like, All of them were us podcasts like yours. And I thought maybe there’s a bit of a different touch in Europe. Nevertheless, I have my regular list of water podcasts, which I listened to. There’s yours. There’s Water we talking about from Adam Tank and Jim Lauria? There’s the water values podcast from Dave McKinsey?
Sometimes the words on water podcast really depends on who’s on. And there is the podcast from Abdelhakim El Fadil the only other European guy. Whenever he puts one out, he’s not as regular than you. Do I miss someone in that list? Do you see others? Which I should add to my playlist?
Trace Blackmore: Not that I know of. I don’t think that this is a category that a lot of people are in our space. I think you listed all the ones that I’m aware of. I’m always looking for that. I think that we could all come together and share best practices and how do we increase the bar in the industry? So I’m never threatened when somebody comes out with another podcast within this space.
I really celebrate that. So I, if I find somebody, I will definitely let you know, because I think if we have a community of what we do within this space, we can make sure it’s getting better, but I can’t list any more than what you just.
Antoine Walter: From that list. I guess the only one who started before you must be Dave McKinsey, is it an inspiration for you or do you really do your stuff? And regardless of whatever is out.
Trace Blackmore: I wasn’t aware of that podcast until after I started mine. So my podcast was started in total ignorance. I just thought I wanted to help people in our industry over a format that I was learning. One step at a time. And then after that people said, oh, have you heard of this podcast? So all of my knowledge of the shows have come from listeners, this scaling up nation.
And I enjoy all of those podcasts, but unfortunately I wasn’t smart enough to seek out other people’s podcasts to figure out what I could do better.
Antoine Walter: Do you sometimes look at your future guest, and look, if they were already on other podcasts, I tend, I’ll tell you why I’m raising that question. I tend to postpone interviews when I see that they are. Doing the tour and that they just were with you or with Dave McKinsey with Jim and Adam, I think.
Okay. Do I have more clever questions right now? No. So let’s wait six months, and then maybe I have some others.
Trace Blackmore: When I think of a guest, I normally see them outside of a tour or a conference. And I’ll say that will make an interesting podcast. So, so those. Go ahead and get booked people that are contacting the show to say, I have something that I want to say to your audience. My team will do that research and they’ll say, okay, he’s already been on these three podcasts and it is the same question.
Is that going to give the scaling up nation something different to listen to? And if the answer is no, maybe we just promote the shows that he was already. But then sometimes we’ll get together and we’ll say, okay, what are the questions that haven’t been asked? And I’m sure my team, without me knowing, say that we’re not even gonna tell, trace about this.
We’ll just get him on the schedule next year, or next couple of months, my team does a great job. I’m I’m so blessed to have a team as dedicated as I am. And I know they do a lot of things. I don’t even realize that.
Antoine Walter: Who comes up with the titles for your episodes?
Trace Blackmore: So you had mentioned that you noticed a theme with my title. So yes, I am a friends fan and I it’s not a tribute to friends at all. I try to learn as much about podcasting and how I can do it better. Every time I put a podcast out and I went to a conference called podcast movement and I was in a seminar.
And the gentleman was saying how you name your titles must be shareable, because as you just mentioned, if you can get people to share your podcast, your content with somebody else, that’s really how you’re going to grow your audience. And he said, in order to do that, you have to make a title that is able to be shared.
And then I was thinking, okay, how do you do that? And I think later in the hotel room I was getting ready for dinner and I had the television on and a friend’s episode was on and every friend’s episode is the one with fill in the blank. And I was thinking, I’m gonna copy that. So from then on every one of our episodes became friend like titles, and it’s the one with fill in the blank.
And I thought that was pretty share.
Antoine Walter: And then you have the special ones, the pink and blues.
Trace Blackmore: So my father used to call doing titrations pinks and blues because of the different colors, I guess things would turn in the flask. So I figured those could be our technical episodes. So those are the hardest episodes for me. To do. I’ve gotta write those episodes. I used to not research those episodes.
I would just talk as I knew them. And then I would find that people said, oh, you said that word wrong. Or that was true at one time. But now we do things a little bit differently. So I spend a lot of time to research. So for an hour podcast, you probably are gonna get at least 14 hours of research out of me.
So that’s why we don’t do as many of those and almost all of the pinks and blues come from the audience. Those are people asking me questions. This is something that we wanna know more about. And what I do is there something that fits in maybe something that I’m already working on? So I don’t have to put in extra work as I am a little lazy when it comes to that.
Any leverage I can get, I will take. So if I’m already working on a project and then somebody has a question about a similar thing within that project, I’ll just use the knowledge that I’m already gathering. Or I will look and I’ll see, I’ve got 10 people with the same type of question. And I recently did one on halogens and those were, I think there were about 12 or 13 people that had similar questions.
So I combined those in this super question and I just went through the entire episode.
Antoine Walter: Let me merge. One of the things you said at the very beginning with this behind the scenes, you said that the podcast isn’t only a way to market your company. It’s also something and a project on its own. If it’s a project on its own and you have a team, do you have a business model for.
Trace Blackmore: I do. The first thing that I did when I started the podcast was I created a one page business plan. And I thought about what would success be? What was I going towards? And the underlying reason. I have a lot of fun with this. So as long as this is fun for me, I’m gonna continue with the podcast.
But my mission has changed a little bit at being a former WT member. I’m already, I’m still ant member being a former board member. I wanted to do something to help that organization. And I’ve realized that with the audience that I’ve been able to speak tot is part of that. But it’s not only that. So I’ve now said that whatever the podcast can do, one to keep it fun for me and allow the listeners to improve.
Improve the industry improve themselves. Feel good about what they do, motivate them to learn the next thing. That’s our mission. How are we raising the bar in the industry? One water treater at a time.
Antoine Walter: But so what’s your business model?
Trace Blackmore: So my business model is. As long as it’s fun, we do it. So business model is we wanna make sure that we’re expanding the podcast. We wanna make sure that it’s consistent. We wanna make sure that it’s efficient as it possibly can. And we then decided that it’s a lot easier to do those things when you have some sort of income and we did not get a lot of income on the podcast and we still don’t.
We do it out of a labor of love. We’re starting to get some income coming in with advertisers, and I explained what our philosophy is on that. But I also use this. As how I expand my knowledge, but then also how do I get people to get to the next level? Not only in water treatment, but in life.
And I started a mastermind group a couple of years ago, we’re actually going into our fourth year. I call it the rising tide mastermind we all get together on a weekly basis. We’ve got five groups of 10. We’re getting ready to start our sixth. And the premise is life is hard. Why do it alone?
And especially why not do it with other people that understand your industry? So you don’t have to explain your problem by explaining somebody what water treatment is. You can just go straight into the issue that you’re having and you can get solutions and you don’t have to start from square one. You can start from square six because somebody else has already started that process.
So what the podcast has allowed me to do is a platform to allow people to know one, what a mastermind is, cuz most people aren’t familiar with that concept. And then two, get them interested to think maybe I should join a group like this or another group because. They can get benefit out of it. So that has become our primary advertiser, which is this, rising tide mastermind.
So I still don’t know if I’m answering your question the way you want me to, but that’s that’s what we’re doing. And as I mentioned, we’ve got a waiting list for the group. That’s getting ready to launch. We’re gonna try to launch group number six around the WT convention time, which is mid-September.
And that. Been something I have always wanted to do. I was a member of a mastermind for, well over a decade. I would not be where I am today. Definitely not. , as easy as some of the issues that I’ve been able to process with the group, if I didn’t have the group and I really want to give that type of community back and the podcast allows me to talk.
Antoine Walter: What you’re sharing here reflects on the podcast’s website, because you have your reading list of the books. You recommend some and a good portion of them are water related, but you also have many books on leadership, on management, on economics. I don’t have all the other categories right now from the top of my head, but I remember that there are many which I thought, oh, that’s interesting or many.
I never saw before. So actually it’s an interesting list also to that extent of a creative list by you of what you would recommend. So that reflects with the mastermind makes a lot of sense. Actually, would you have a top three advice for people who would be listening to you right now and think, well, if there’s only that handful of podcasters out there, I’d like to start mine as.
Trace Blackmore: Sure. Most people have an idea that wanna start a podcast. And then that’s, as far as it gets most podcasts never start. And in fact, some of my old equipment have gone to fellow podcasters and one of my microphones sits in a drawer because he never started. His podcast. So that’s, it is to think what it is that, that you wanna do and do it.
And I advise people that are starting a podcast to figure out what your first 10 episodes are gonna be. What are those topics? And. Then go ahead and record those. So you’re not constantly trying to fill a void for the next episode. I learned from a seminar. I went to that the more consistent your podcast is you’re listeners get into a habit on listening to your podcast.
So if you’ve been listening for a long time, you’ll remember I had a monthly podcast. And then I had every two weeks, I would come out with an episode and then I started a weekly podcast and we’ve been doing that for several years now when I went from every two weeks to weekly, my downloads more than doubled.
And that just proved that people were in the habit. Oh, this comes out every Friday. I’m going to listen to that. So I would say, make a list of your top 10 ideas on a show. And then figure out how you’re gonna talk about those. And I don’t think it has to be a perfect outline. People embrace imperfection in a podcast.
Thank goodness they do. So don’t think it has to be perfect. It will never be perfect. And then come up with a date that you’re gonna release your podcast, and then you’re working towards that date. And tell people, let everybody, you know, that you’re going to release this podcast on September 1st, and now you’ve got some accountability that people are waiting for this.
And then when you release on September 1st, you’re not gonna release one episode. You’re gonna release. Three episodes. What that’s going to do is that’s going to get people to enjoy your voice, your cadence. They’re gonna want more after three episodes, and now they’re gonna have to wait for episode four for the next week.
So you’re almost instantly creating that habit.
Antoine Walter: That’s more than three. I love the bunch of advice you shared before going to the pitfalls, I’m wondering if you had to start all over, would you redo a podcast or would you do something different?
Trace Blackmore: One of my favorite things to do is the podcast back in 2015, I didn’t even know what it is. So if I had to start it over, I would definitely probably get into more technology and all these things that I’ve learned. And I don’t think it would been, it would have started out as fun. Because it truly was a passion of mine to put this out on the air to learn about it.
And if I didn’t have that adventure along the way, I don’t know how good it would’ve got.
Antoine Walter: Uh, I’m just thinking in terms of formats, because if you have a fun cat, you can do much more downloads than all of the water podcasters together on TikTok in one single pass than all of us over five years. So is it tempting to look at another medium than the podcast?
Trace Blackmore: Well, I will tell you, I have several people that give me advice. And I have been told multiple times that I need to record my interviews and those need to go on YouTube. And we do put our podcast on YouTubes, but they’re just audiograms. So yes, I need to do that. People have told me to do that. I’m having a lot of fun, cuz I now understand , what I’m doing and the technology that I’m using.
So I, I just need somebody to push me a little bit more. I think there is in order for us to reach the listeners that we haven’t so far, other than word of mouth, we’ve probably done what we could do and that’s the next step. We need to go out to another medium so we can find the next members of the scaling up nation.
And I’m looking for help with that. So if you’ve got the answer, let me know and I will greatly start.
Antoine Walter: No I don’t have the answer, you know, it is true that the discoverability of podcast is just awful. So it is word of mouth quite a lot. But on the other hand, I’m tempted to think that the ones who listen to podcast are similar to my personal use of podcasts, which is whenever I’m traveling, whether I’m mowing the loan or whenever I’m doing something, which is taking my hands and my attention, my ears are free and my brain is quite free.
So I’m happy to listen to a podcast. And to that sense podcast is the best medium. So yeah if you are after the numbers, start a TikTok channel. If you’re after the meaningful. Impact on the audience, maybe don’t change anything. So
Trace Blackmore: I think that’s fantastic advice.
Antoine Walter: which leads me to my pitfalls. Would you have things that you’ve encountered over the over five years that you’re podcasting which you would say, oh, if someone had told me that I would’ve avoided quite a pain.
Trace Blackmore: When I first started the scaling up H two O podcast. I wanted the intro music to be the guitar riff in the very beginning of imminence front. And I thought that was just fantastic. And I. Knew, I couldn’t just play it. I knew people would want some sort of say so in that. So I called my attorney just for fun.
And so apparently Sony records and Peter Frampton own the rights to that. So I had to write letters to both of them. And as my attorney was talking, I saw hundreds of thousands of dollars going towards something that wasn’t anywhere near that expensive to start. And I decided. That was not probably the road that I wanted to travel.
So I very quickly learned that there was royalty free music. So I didn’t exactly go down to that pitfall. Luckily I didn’t, I’d still be paying that off, but I very quickly learned about royalty free music.
Antoine Walter: So that’s one. Do you have other ones?
Trace Blackmore: I would say that coming up with a process was very important. I’m very process driven. And when I was doing the podcast, I was just doing it. And I wasn’t thinking, how could I be as efficient as I could be? Cuz we only have so much time when I then stepped back and said, you know, instead of doing each podcast from start to finish, is there any way that I can batch them?
And then if I’m doing in the beginning, I did my editing. And I’m not very good at editing. I did the best that I could, and I don’t have the equipment that my editor Sean has. So it took me a lot longer. But when I was doing that, instead of doing one episode, I would do multiple episodes and I started learning how to theme my days.
So I was working on the same type of task and I felt that I got. Also something that happened by mistake. When Lauren, my assistant at the time did this, I was actually upset with her. I would do one podcast interview. A day and they would be like every other week or something like that. So it was just one podcast interview.
Well, one day she scheduled six or seven. They were right on top of each other. And I looked at my schedule and I was like, there is no way I can do this. She didn’t gimme any time in between. And I was upset. Well, what I found was. Episode one was pretty good, but two got even better. And my third interview, I was just in the zone.
So from then on, we now have interview days where we try to pack as many in as possible. So we can edit later.
Antoine Walter: That’s a very interesting one. I would have to test it because my gut feeling right now is that I would just burn my brain, but you have probably better capacities than me.
Trace Blackmore: I wouldn’t pull on that thread by any stretch.
Antoine Walter: I have a last question for you in that deep dive. If you’re now looking into the future and you’re looking at the next successful five years for the scaling app, H two O podcast, what does success look like for you?
Trace Blackmore: I would love that we have a podcast going five years. I would love it that. People continue to let me know what episodes that they want me to create. It’s always been my fear that I’m going to run outta content. So in five years, I hope I still have content. And the only way that I continue to get content is for people to let me know what they want me to talk about.
So I would say that’s my hope for the next five years is that faucet never turns off. The show continues to improve. I continue to work with people like yourself and we’re just bettering the entire community. We’re sharing best practices. We’re making sure that the industry’s getting better.
One water trader at a time
Antoine Walter: That’s a future. I want to see. So sounds good. well, trace, it’s been a pleasure. I propose you if that’s fine with you to switch to the RapidFire questions.
Trace Blackmore: Please let’s do it.
Get Season 1's Summary!
Rapid fire questions:
Antoine Walter: So in that last section, I try to keep the questions short and you have to keep the answers short and don’t worry. The one who sidetracks is always me. My first question is what is the most exciting project you’ve been working on and why?
Trace Blackmore: The most exciting project I ever worked on was when I was asked to move to Atlanta to be the project manager for a major army base here, I felt I was 22 years old at the time. I felt I was way out of my league. I couldn’t believe that they picked me for it. And I always thought that the next day they were gonna find out that I was faking it.
And each and every day I learned more I had a great team that I worked with and it was probably the most challenging thing and probably the most scary thing that I ever did because they picked me for who I was, but I thought they wanted somebody. So the lesson learned from that is when people ask you to do something, they want you not what you could be.
They want you for who you are.
Antoine Walter: Can you name one thing that you’ve learned the hard.
Trace Blackmore: Don’t put foaming products and cooling towers that are really close to an interstate. So we had a customer that designed their own product and first off that’s another lesson. Never let them do that. You probably know way more than they do, but they had a product speced in and they wanted us to make this product to clean a brand new cooling tower.
And it was right in one of the. Populated areas in Atlanta where there are 10 lanes of traffic that go right by this building on interstate 80, 85. And we put this product in and all of a sudden these little bubbles started coming out. Well, pretty soon, these huge bubbles started coming out and we were on the news later that night.
And you could just see these huge bubbles floating across the landscape of Atlanta. That was that.
Antoine Walter: That’s a very good one. there something you’re doing in your job today that you will not be doing in 10 years?
Trace Blackmore: I really think that artificial intelligence it’s already here. And I think it’s going to increase, especially in the water treatment community. I think as many times as we visit. Our customers is probably going to lessen because we are going to have more intelligent devices that are feeding us back more data and even able to make decisions electronically on that data.
So now we’re really able to hone in on our skills, make sure we’re saving water, make sure that all the things that maybe sometimes are secondary now, because there is so much labor involved, we’re really gonna be able to focus in.
Antoine Walter: What is the trend to watch out for in the water sector?
Trace Blackmore: And I would say the same answer is is AI. I would say that we are going to see more intelligent devices doing more of what we think our job is, but not to fear that’s going to allow us to elevate what we should have been doing all along.
Antoine Walter: If you were a words, political leader, what would be your very first action to influence the fate of the words? What are challenge?
Trace Blackmore: Stop being so selfish. I think the more we help other people, the more we get in return I love the JFK quote, a rising tide raises all boats, which is why I called my mastermind, the rising tide mastermind. I think the more we go out of our way to help others. The more we put good out in the world, the more people look for.
Good. And I think when we’re all expecting good, everything gets better.
Antoine Walter: Finally, would you have someone to recommend me that I should definitely invite on that microphone as soon as possible.
Trace Blackmore: I have actually two people and not necessarily water treatment base, but two of the people that have helped me tremendously in my life. One is Tim Fulton. He’s my business coach. He’s been on this podcast a couple of times and Tim is just fantastic. I don’t know if he’s ever given me any of. Advice, but what he does, he knows the advice he wants to give.
He asks me questions. So I come up with it myself. He is just fantastic. And I just think the world of him. So Tim, Fulton’s definitely one. And the other one I would recommend is Kathleen Edelman. She’s been on the show a couple times. She is a temperament expert and she taught me how to understand myself better and ultimately how to communicate with other people better.
Making sure I. My internal needs met, making sure that I’m speaking to other people’s needs. And she just does it in a way that is so simple. And I think that starts with the mission of being kind to each other, putting good out in the world. She’s fantastic.
Antoine Walter: thanks. And for the advice and trace, it’s been an incredible pleasure and honor to discuss with you over that hour. So thanks a lot. And I hope to listen to you for five further years.
Trace Blackmore: I hope that as well. And it has been my honor. Thank you so much for inviting me to your show.