No. 062 Beware: Authenticity Is Not Transparency

As Showrunners, we talk … a lot. We share our expertise, stories, and thoughts — and we do it all ‘live’ on the air. But is this a good thing? In this episode, we share a recent experience Jonny had when he shared something during an interview, and then his mom heard it.

In this lesson, we dive into our thought processes behind what we share on our podcasts and what we filter out. Jerod makes the excellent distinction between authenticity and transparency, and our need to stay audience focused.

Along with this dive into conversations our mothers may overhear, Jonny and Jerod provide a podcast recommendation for your listening enjoyment:

Listen, learn, enjoy …

The Show Notes

Beware: Authenticity Is Not Transparency

Jerod Morris: This is Rainmaker.FM, the digital marketing podcast network. It’s built on the Rainmaker platform, which empowers you to build your own digital marketing and sales platform. Start your free, 14-day trial at

Jerod Morris: Welcome to The Showrunner, where we have one goal: teach you how to develop, launch, and run a remarkable show. Ready?

Welcome back to The Showrunner. This is Episode No. 62 of The Showrunner. I’m your host, Jerod Morris, VP of marketing for Rainmaker Digital. I am joined, as always, by my co-host, bestselling author, host of Hack the Entrepreneur, coffee connoisseur, and lover of sandwiches, Mr. Jonny Nastor. Jonny, how are you today?

Jonny Nastor: I’m doing well. How are you doing?

Jerod Morris: I’m doing very well. You and I have resolved, after two marathon-long episodes the last two weeks — we each did this three-part mini-course. You did one on podcast interviews. I did one on differentiation and creating a unique show. If you’re listening to this and you missed those episodes, you can go back, it’s the last six episodes. We’re going to be turning those into mini-courses that you’ll be able to get.

We were walking through the process live, allowing you to see our work. We did three lessons in each one. The third one for both of us took about an hour — each one. So the last two episodes are really long. I thought they were filled with good stuff, I didn’t think that it was just filler or anything. I thought they were good episodes. But we’ve resolved to make this one shorter because those last couple were so long. We’ll see if we can do it.

Jonny Nastor: I think that’s why we put the constraints on it of the three, three and three. But I think we got to our third of our three lessons each and we’re like, “But we have so much more to cover!” Which is good, but at the same time it’s also good. Because otherwise — if you don’t put that constraint on it — all of a sudden your mini-course would have turned into nine episodes each of it. It would have never finished. So it’s kind of necessary.

When you introduced me as a connoisseur of coffee, I feel now I should give some sort of shout-out. I’m not just a connoisseur of coffee, I’m a connoisseur of coffee mugs. Somebody from a podcast called — totally a shout-out to the lady or gentleman who runs that show, I haven’t actually looked it up yet. It came in late last evening, for some reason. It was delivered. And I’m drinking coffee out of it today. “The official cup for those who learn from mistakes.,” and then there’s a cool little head that says “podcast” on it.

Jerod Morris: Very nice. Very nice.

Jonny Nastor: I thought that was pretty cool. So I’m just not a connoisseur of coffee, I also like cool mugs.

Jerod Morris: I like the double meaning in that statement too, in that title. That’s good.

Jonny Nastor: Yeah, and they get a shout-out on the show, so that works.

Jerod Morris: That works. Well, real quick here before we jump into the main topic — and we have a really interesting main topic. We were talking about what we should do in Slack, and Jonny said that we should do the most recent topic idea that he put on our Trello board. All the Trello board says is, “Should you watch what you say on your podcast? Jon’s mom story.” I have not heard the story, I don’t really know what we’re in for, but that’s what we’re going to be talking about today. I am on pins and needles to hear this story.

Real quick, before we get there I do want to remind everyone to go to Showrunner.FM and make sure you join The Showrunner. Get our weekly newsletter, it includes announcements of free public events. We will be having another public Showrunner Huddle soon where you can send in your questions. Ask us any questions that you have about podcasting or building an online business or anything — or coffee mugs, apparently. We’ll take questions about that as well. You’ll also get an update on each week’s new Showrunner episode. We have our “We Highly Recommend” section where we recommend an article, an episode, a new technique or a tool, or something that will help you take the next step with your podcasting.

Go to Showrunner.FM, make sure you join that list. If you’re new to The Showrunner and you haven’t yet joined that list and gotten our content series on the Four Central Elements of a Remarkable Podcast, you also want to join the list so that you get that and you can understand the pillars of our curriculum here at The Showrunner. Again, Showrunner.FM, join that email list. Mr. Nastor, are you ready to jump in and regale us with this story?

Jonny Nastor: Yeah, I’d say I’m ready to relive this moment.

Jerod Morris: All righty, let’s do it right now on The Showrunner.

All righty. Mr. Nastor, the floor is yours. We all want to know what this story is, so please tell us Jon’s mom story.

Jon’s Mom Story

Jonny Nastor: Okay. The last two weeks have been somewhat of a blurry time. I’ve been doing a lot of work. Been doing a lot of interviews on other shows. Interviews for my own show, Showrunner. Doubling up on episodes because I’m heading to Europe next week for three weeks. I’ll be working but I’m not podcasting, so all the recording stuff has to be done.

Last week sometime, two, maybe three interviews came out where I was interviewed on somebody else’s show, which was really awesome except that two came out on one day and another one … It was just overwhelming and I was doing a whole bunch of work. I was here at my desk working, and my mom texts me at one point and she said, “Oh, I’m just knitting, listening to that latest interview of yours.” And I looked at it and I was like, “Oh, that’s cool,” is all I thought. But I didn’t clue into what one or anything.

Then she goes — this is literally verbatim, I looked this up for you — “Just listening to your podcast on Outlier and found out that you are thinking of moving to Toronto in a couple of months. Wow.” A city that’s like 2,000 kilometers from me. It’s kind of far and I hadn’t told her. But I hadn’t really told my wife either. I just said it in a conversation because I was literally overwhelmed with podcasts. So I find that when I have a lot of shows to do, obviously things get looser. You need stuff to talk about.

We were talking about the small town that I live in — for entrepreneurs, and if there’s people around me. I was like, “Well, no, but there’s people on the Internet. I’m surrounded by really cool, smart people.” But I said, “I am thinking about, in the fall, moving to Toronto to be closer to some stuff.” It was so hilarious, because my mom said that and all I could say was just, “Ouch,” to her. Then she called me. I was like, “First of all, mom, when you listen to any of my interviews,” which I never think of, obviously, anybody I know listening to them. I said, “You’ve got to take it somewhat with a grain of salt.”

Then I sent her back to The Showrunner episode from the beginning of the year where my New Year’s resolution was to contradict myself. I was trying to explain it, but then it made me think, “Wow, what other things have I said on shows?” Maybe I’ve used a friend as an example and not ever told them, because I just never think to. You know what I mean? Then it made me think, “Should I be filtering myself?” We want authenticity, we want all of that, and I was making conversation around a topic and I am thinking about making that move, but my wife or my mom didn’t know about it at this time.

Jerod Morris: Two important people in that decision, maybe.

Jonny Nastor: Well, my wife would be super into it because it’s the big city, it’s fun. And my mom doesn’t really mind, but it was a funny way for her to find out. It totally caught me off guard. Then I really stopped working. I was like, “Wow, what else is on that interview before you keep listening, first of all.” There was nothing, but it really made me think about it. I would like to hear your take on it. That was last Monday morning. I’ve done a lot of interviews since then and I haven’t added a filter. I would like to know what your take on something like that — or just filtering in general — would be.

Jerod Morris: My initial take is this story went in a much different direction than I thought it was going to go. I actually thought maybe you cursed or you said something profane on a podcast, and your mom heard and was like …

Jonny Nastor: Oh, no. I never curse.

Jerod Morris: Yeah. I was going to say, that would be so outside of the bounds of the Jonny Nastor that I know. Okay, so this is much more interesting.

Jonny Nastor: It’s a family disruption that she’s not aware of and my wife’s not aware of. My mom was actually coming over for dinner that night so they got to discuss how they had never heard of this. I was in the middle like, “I was just talking on a podcast. I do this literally sometimes six or eight hours a day. I can’t be responsible. I can’t say the same things over and over.”

The Filter Needs to Focus on the Audience

Jerod Morris: Yeah, it’s interesting. Should you watch what you say on your podcast? I do think that you have to have a filter, but I think the filter needs to be more based on the audience that you’re talking to as opposed to worrying about people in your life and if they’ll hear what you’re saying.

Again, we talk about authenticity, and authenticity is not transparency, remember. Transparency would just be saying anything. Authenticity is talking about meaningful stuff from your experience and your knowledge that will help the audience who is listening to you. I do think that you need a filter to make sure that the stories that you’re telling, the anecdotes that you’re using, and the lessons that you’re providing are relevant for that audience. That’s just a general, big-picture idea that we’ve talked about a lot on here.

Now, should you watch what you say on your podcast in relation to your family? That’s interesting, because I’ll use stories about my life with Heather and that kind of thing on different shows, and I try never to reveal anything. I don’t think I would ever reveal plans about moving without telling her first, only because she might think that that was a little bit strange.

I guess for most of those stories that I would tell, I feel like it was something that I would be very comfortable saying if she were right there, so I don’t feel bad about it. And I will always go tell her about it later. Usually I’ll say, “Oh yeah, I was on this interview and I was telling the story of the conversation that we had when we were walking,” and we’ll laugh about it. That kind of thing.

I guess my answer is I think the filter needs to be much more focused on the audience, as opposed to, “I’m going to use this person as an example over here and feel like I need to go tell them.” Unless I’m using an example and I fear they’re going to shut their site down in the next week and the example was a landing page on their site, something like that. Otherwise I just think — should you watch what you say on your podcast — I would watch what I say more in relation to the audience I’m speaking to, rather than family or friends who may wonder why I said what I said.

Jonny Nastor: Right, exactly. If I would have mentioned my mother or my father or my wife on the show, then yeah, that would come up in conversation with them. “Oh yeah, and I talked about this.” But I literally didn’t mention anybody. I was just making conversation about a central hub to live in, and not even serious. I wasn’t like, “And we booked this mover.” It was literally, “In a few months I’m thinking maybe, because of this, this, this, and this reason.” Over the past year my wife and I have discussed it in passing. It might be a really cool, smart move, and fun. But it wasn’t like, “Oh, we’re moving on September the 10th.”

Be Careful With Conversations in Confidence

Jerod Morris: Let me add this, I do think you have to be careful with conversations that you’ve had in confidence and then relaying those on a podcast. It’s pretty obvious with family, there’s some stuff that happens in your family you’re not going to say on a podcast. Even with friends or colleagues, there’s some stuff you have to be careful of. I’m trying to think if there’s an example from our time working together that we’ve — we pretty much have all of our conversations on the air.

Jonny Nastor: We do, yeah.

Jerod Morris: It doesn’t really count with us. But there may be other people. Like with The Assembly Call, for example. There have been conversations we’ve had after we’ve stopped rolling, maybe with some information, like someone’s heard a rumor. We have something that we’ll talk about amongst ourselves but maybe don’t want to bring to the air because we don’t have proof of it yet or it hasn’t been publicly reported, or someone else told us in confidence so we can’t use it.

In those cases, we want to watch what we say even though our audience would love it. If we don’t know for sure that it’s fact, if we can’t say it, we don’t want to say it. That’s starting to get into journalism and some of those types of things, so you have to be careful there too. That’s where I’d be careful. If you might be betraying someone’s confidence, certainly. Even if it would be authentic for you to deliver that to your audience, it may still not be the right decision to do it.

Transparency vs. Authenticity

Jonny Nastor: Right. I guess the trouble that I have is that I’m not trying to be authentic. I think if I was trying to be authentic and trying to be unfiltered or unscripted, it would come across as contrived, because it would be contrived. That’s the hard part. But let’s go back a little bit. At the very beginning you went, “Authenticity is not transparency,” and that’s a pretty interesting distinction. I’ve never even thought of the blurs, that maybe I’m actually thinking transparency rather than authenticity. It’s not always necessary to disclose every mistake, every trouble, everything — the fact that I couldn’t sleep last night or something. It’s probably not necessary, but the authenticity is.

Jerod Morris: Right. Yeah, like I’m wearing my pajamas right now as we record this. Now, that is me being transparent. You can say that’s me being authentic, but it doesn’t really further the discussion. The people, the audience listening to this, they’re not any better because you know that I’m wearing my pajamas. Now it’s trending into authentic territory because it’s part of this conversation, so it’s this meta thing, but you know what I mean. Me just saying that, and you saying that you’re thinking about moving to Toronto — that could be extraneous transparency or it could be authentic, depending on the context of the conversation.

Jonny Nastor: You’re right. I’ve never thought of it in that way, and now all I’m thinking is I hope you wear more to bed than I do. But it’s really cool. I’ve never actually thought of the difference between authenticity and transparency. I don’t know why I’ve always blurred them together, and they’re not at all one thing.

Jerod Morris: For example, the argument could be made that sometimes in our opening — the little casual opening that we have — that we’re being transparent but we’re not necessarily being authentic because we’ll just talk about something. To us, we do feel like it is authentic, because a lot of times we’re sharing stories from showrunning and that conversation will deal with podcasting a lot, so they are relevant stories that will help educate people and show them how we handle different things.

That’s where you do have to be careful, because if all you’re doing is being transparent, eventually your audience is going to lose interest. Now we’re getting into that usefulness. Are you educating, entertaining, or inspiring? Well, if you’re just being transparent over and over again, you’re not really doing any of those things. So you do have to be careful there. I do think, in that sense, you do want to watch what you say on your show.

Jonny Nastor: Right. Yeah, it’s actually the transparency that I don’t like, usually. It’s that whole talk about what we had for lunch for 20 minutes before the show even starts in the intro. I don’t need that. And people always confuse it with, “Oh, but we’re being authentic.” “No, you’re not. You’re telling me what you ate for lunch and I don’t get to eat any, so it doesn’t help me.”

Jerod Morris: Yeah. “You’re being transparent and you’re angering me.”

Jonny Nastor: Exactly. This is kind of a big thing with online businesses now, are the whole transparent businesses. They tell you their numbers and data. There’s places where you can literally live-track how many users they have. And it’s supposed to be “transparent,” but you’re not seeing everything, so it’s not transparent.

I think the first company that did it, or the first couple companies were being authentically transparent, but the rest are very inauthentically trying to jump on the transparent bandwagon. It’s really contrived. “Ah, you’re trying too hard.” It loses the impact. There it is. Wow. You just completely opened my mind in a new direction today, Jared, and I thank you.

Jerod Morris: Very nice. Good. Well, you opened my mind, because, again, I thought we were going to be talking about profanity on podcasts. So this worked out well.

Jonny Nastor: No, just talking about a funny life change that my mom happened to hear.

Podcasts and Profanity

Jerod Morris: Okay, so can I run with some of my pre-prepared material that I was going to discuss? I do want to say this, because the question does come up about cursing and how much should you censor yourself on a podcast, that kind of thing. I do just want to say, for anyone who is wondering that, you’ve got to think about your audience. Think about who’s going to be listening, when do they listen, what do they expect of you, and proceed accordingly. For example, on The Showrunner we are not going to just curse. Number one, you and I don’t generally curse, so it’s not really an issue. I think we did have that one episode from a while back.

Jonny Nastor: I do, actually. I curse a lot.

Jerod Morris: Oh, do you really?

Jonny Nastor: It’s crazy, and it’s only happened in the last year or so. I curse a lot, like in life. It’s funny. I stop myself. “Man, I’m just cursing like a sailor,” I don’t know why. But on shows I never do.

Jerod Morris: Okay, so let’s turn that transparent admission into something authentic here. You curse a lot, but you don’t curse a lot on your shows.

Jonny Nastor: No, I don’t at all.

Jerod Morris: Is it a conscious decision that you make not to curse when you’re recording Hack the Entrepreneur or The Showrunner because you’re being very audience-focused? Is it just not something that you really think when you’re behind the mic because you’re in a different mindset?

Jonny Nastor: No, I totally think about it. Not so much on this show, but on Hack the Entrepreneur I definitely — at least in my intros, outros, all that stuff — I go into almost a character role where it’s quick and focused, more so than I am in real life. In my conversations, I just don’t feel that it fits a business conversation for me just to be dropping F-bombs.

If I’m out hanging out with my band or something and we’re skateboarding and doing something, curses just come out. Yeah, it’s 100 percent because it’s my audience, yeah. It’s what I’ve created. It would be weird now if I started 200 episodes in just cursing like a banshee. Do banshees curse?

Jerod Morris: They can. Banshee works. It’s a good catch-all word for people doing crazy things, so it works. Again, you want to be audience-focused there. Some shows need to curse. It’s part of who they are, it’s part of what they do. If that’s not you … What you don’t want to do — and this goes for cursing, it goes for anything — is set an expectation in any way and then just totally, drastically shift from that. If people are comfortable, “Oh, I’m driving to work and I can listen to this with my kids in the car,” and then you start cursing and they’re not ready for it … Even if you put a disclaimer at the beginning. Sometimes people kind of glaze over those.

Now, that helps, you do want to do that. But you have to understand that’s not just a get-out-of-jail-free card for anything that you then do on your podcast. You want to be careful, because you don’t want to alienate your audience, and that can be one way to do it. You want to be careful with that. So a couple different angles today on should you watch what you say on your podcasts. Just remember, if you’re going to drop any important life plans, your mom, your wife, or your significant other — if you’re a lady listening to this — may be listening. So maybe tell them first if you’re going to move.

Jonny Nastor: I guess at the end of all this I should just say, “Hi, Mom.”

Jerod Morris: Hi, Mrs. Nastor. How are you? I’m looking forward to visiting you in Toronto.

Jonny Nastor: All right. It’ll be fun.

Jerod Morris: Yes, it will. All right. Are you ready for a podcast recommendation?

Jonny Nastor: Yeah, totally. Let’s do it.

Jerod Morris: Let’s do it.

All right, so this week’s podcast recommendation comes from Rainmaker.FM. I’m pretty sure we’ve recommended this show before, but not enough, so I want to recommend it one more time. It is Confessions of a Pink-Haired Marketer. This is the podcast that is hosted by Sonia Simone, who has been the voice of Copyblogger for so long. She also co-hosts Copyblogger.FM as well, but Pink-Haired Marketer was her first podcast on Rainmaker.FM.

You can get there by going to Pinkhairedmarketer.FM or going to Rainmaker.FM. In this podcast, Sonia Simone delivers advice, encouragement and the occasional rant, and it is always fun when Sonia rants. Sonia rants are the greatest. And she does this from outside the drone of the marketing mainstream. The show is weekly, so join her for a regular mix of monologues, interviews, and answers to your content marketing questions.

What I love the most about Sonia’s show — and she even says this explicitly — is she is giving you your own pink permission slip to run your business your way. Sonia’s so big on that, on empowering entrepreneurs and empowering content creators to not just do the paint-by-numbers, cookie-cutter type thing, or to feel like you have to play by somebody else’s rules. As long as you’re not screwing somebody over, as long as you’re approaching your business with a heart of kindness and being genuine about it, do it your way.

Actually, I had a great conversation with her about this on the episode of The Digital Entrepreneur — I think it’s the one that came out last week. Anyway, it’s a recent episode of The Digital Entrepreneur, we’ll put the link in the show notes. But we talked about this because she’s doing a keynote at Digital Commerce Summit where she’ll be talking about this. Her show is just a weekly place to get really good mindset advice for entrepreneurs. Confessions of a Pink-Haired Marketer, Pinkhairedmarketer.FM. Check it out.

Jonny Nastor: If you haven’t ever listened to Confessions of a Pink-Haired Marketer yet, I would suggest scrolling all the way to the very bottom, to the very beginning of this show. We should talk to her and get her to create a mini-course out of it. When she first launched — when Rainmaker.FM launched itself — it was a year ago that I listened to this, but I was blown away by it. It was either four or six or three episodes or something she did, where it was the foundations of a business.

She did it all in separate parts, and it was amazing. Her rants were in there, but also just laying it out, like this is how to think about it. Wow, it was really cool. If you need a place to start, definitely go all the way back to episode — it’s Episode 1 to 4, or 1 to 6, or 1 to 5, or something. It’ll make sense when you get there. You can even remind me, because I should actually go back there. It’s an amazing start to any show, and it really lays the foundation for that authentic business model.

Jerod Morris: Yep, so Pinkhairedmarketer.FM, check it out. Mr. Nastor, it looks like we are going to get out of here in under 30 minutes, well under 30 minutes. We did it.

Jonny Nastor: Nice.

Jerod Morris: If you have just gotten used to listening to The Showrunner for an hour and you’re like, “What am I going to do now with these extra 30 minutes,” go check out one of Sonia’s shows. You will not be disappointed.

All right, everybody, thank you for listening to this episode of The Showrunner. Make sure you go to Showrunner.FM and join the email list. Get our weekly newsletter, get updates on free public events, and get our “We Highly Recommend” section. We would love to have you on that list. We deliver weekly goodies that we want to deliver to you. Go to Showrunner.FM, and we’ll be back next week with another brand-new episode. We’ll talk to you then.

Jonny Nastor: Take care.

Jerod Morris: Was that a little punk-rock beat that you just drummed?

Jonny Nastor: It was. On my legs, yeah.

Jerod Morris: Well done. Very nice.

Jonny Nastor: The coffee is just finally kicking in.

Jerod Morris: All right. I like it.