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CYOP #99 - Mini Episode: Three Big Lessons Learned in Three Podcast Seasons


CYOP #99 - Mini Episode: Three Big Lessons Learned in Three Podcast Seasons

CYOP #99 - Mini Episode: Three Big Lessons Learned in Three Podcast Seasons


A mini episode with host Jennifer E. Snyder



Jennifer E. Snyder



On today's show—the 99th episode of CYOP and final episode of Season 3—I'm sharing three of the big lessons I've learned over the last three seasons of producing a podcast. 

In the episode, I talk about analytics and why they matter (it's not the reason you think), the humbling side of podcasting and why getting to know those of you who listen each week has offered up the biggest lesson of all.

Happy listening and thank you for another great season, everyone!






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"We have all been there—no matter where "there" is." — Jennifer Snyder, the Creating Your Own Path podcast //



27 Lessons Learned Since Announcing the Big CYOP Road Trip

27 Lessons Learned Since Announcing the Big CYOP Road Trip //

A year ago this week, I was officially committing to driving across the country for my longest CYOP road trip to date. What an amazing, terrifying, exhilarating, difficult, wondrous, magical, fulfilling 52 weeks it's been, my friends.

Since deciding to make that road trip dream a reality, I've said yes to things that scare the daylights out of me. I've found peace in my own company. I've done my best to show up for those who needed me to show up. I've cried and cried and cried. I've smiled and smiled and smiled. I've met dozens of incredible artists, makers, writers, builders, creators, designers and collaborators who have altered the way I look at the world.

I know. It sounds dramatic, but taking big steps toward the unknown taught me things. Big things. Little things. Things I cannot (will not, should not) unlearn.

In no particular order:

  1. I've learned that it's okay to put work first and that it's equally okay to put work second (or third or fourth).
  2. I've learned that things will not always be as they are right now and that's something to be celebrated.
  3. I've learned that if you genuinely approach people with curiosity and mutual interest, they will almost always be willing to lend a hand. 
  4. I've (re)learned that we all come from different backgrounds and that, even though we might see things differently, we're all working with the same handful of emotions and we often strive for many of the same things in life.
  5. I've (re)learned how to be gracious and forgiving and kind.
  6. I've learned that not everyone is going to give me the same level of graciousness, forgiveness and kindness, but that's their path to walk — not mine.
  7. I've learned that science cannot cure all things (I'm looking at you, cancer), but that love can be given without restraint. It may not heal all things, but it's worth giving nonetheless.
  8. I've learned that mindset is EVERYTHING and that doing hard, scary, big things in life requires a level of fortitude I didn't even realize I possessed.
  9. I've learned that it's okay to push through resistance.
  10. I've also learned that it's okay to press pause, take a break and reassess.
  11. I've learned that it's okay to ask for help.
  12. I've (re)learned that life can change in an instant and that anything worth doing is worth doing now, if possible.
  13. I've learned that we tend to put people on pedestals in this world and that those people are just like you and me. They're no better, no worse — just human.
  14. I've learned to share some things publicly and deal with other things privately.
  15. I've learned that some people will pass judgement when they don't understand or have access to the full story — and that sometimes the full story is none of their business, anyway.
  16. I've (re)learned that everyone is fighting a battle I may not fully understand and I need to be better at reserving my own judgement.
  17. I've learned that if I tell jokes while speaking in front of a crowd it calms my nerves a bit.
  18. I've also learned that I will never NOT be nervous when speaking in front of a crowd.
  19. I've learned that I'm pretty okay with my social awkwardness. Turns out, some people will find it charming (who knew?) while others will be embarrassed on my behalf. As long as I'm cool with it, all is well. 
  20. I've learned that it feels awesome to be the connector in a situation, rather than always being the person doing the thing. We don't always have to be the person doing the thing.
  21. I've learned that, while I live in a great big country, nothing is all that far away if I've got the time and means to get to where I'm going.
  22. I've learned that prioritizing my time and my means is the best way to pursue my dreams.
  23. I've learned that others will question those priorities because they don't understand why my priorities are different from their priorities. I've also learned that those discussions are less about offering justification for my choices and more about offering a different point of view.
  24. I've learned that those who I've met along the way are some of the most resilient and wise people I know.
  25. I've learned that I have preferences in how I work, but that, if I must, I can accomplish big things from anywhere in the world. 
  26. I've learned how much doing the big scary thing can change a person and that it's what I do with all of that new self-knowledge that really matters.
  27. I've learned that I am (and, by extension, you are) not alone.

I've learned a lot over the last year and I have that beast of a road trip to thank for most of it. Obviously, I think it's important to reflect on what we've learned, but I also think it's important to stop thinking and start doing. It's in the doing of the thing where all of the difficult, wondrous, terrifying, amazing magic happens. We just get to hang on, enjoy the wild ride and keep learning the lessons over and over again.

Onward, my friends. I hope you're pondering, doing, thinking and then jumping in and doing some more. When's the last time you did something that felt HUGE and learned something from it? Tell me what you're up to in the comment section! 



The CYOP Road Trip: What I'll Do Differently Next Time

The CYOP Road Trip: What I'll Do Differently Next Time

Although I was able to travel across the country and back without anything bad happening, there are still a few things I might do differently next time around.

The CYOP Road Trip was my first extended solo road trip, it was the first time I had attempted to produce full podcast episodes from the road, it was the first time I'd taken such a long break from other freelance work, it was the first time traveling without my husband for longer than ten days and it was my first time having a podcast sponsor along for the ride.

The CYOP Road Trip: What I'll Do Differently Next Time

That's a lot of firsts! So, I thought I'd share a bit about what I've learned in case any of you out there are looking to tackle similar firsts all at once. Here it goes:

  1. Maybe pick one or two firsts and learn your way around them before adding more into the mix. It was overwhelming to wrap my head around everything I was attempting to accomplish and trying so much of it for the first time made it feel even more insurmountable. Of course, I survived. I came through to the other side of it all with a giant, exhausted smile. However, if I were to do it again, I'd think about paring down my big leaps.
  2. Stay everywhere a little longer than you think you might need to. I didn't stay anywhere longer than four nights/three days. I drove through 27 states in six weeks. Friends, that's not enough time to get a good feel for a place. While I have zero regrets—I needed to get things done in six weeks, so I made it happen—I would definitely plan to visit fewer cities and stay each place long enough to work, rest and play. I didn't have a good balance of that on this trip.
  3. Plan for more nature breaks. I spent most nights of this trip in chain hotels. While, for the most part, that provided access to wifi at all hours and I needed that reliability to produce the show, I really wish I had been able to throw in a few camping/cabin stops along the way. I really do prefer staying off the beaten path when traveling and I just couldn't pull that off on this trip.

Honestly, those three things are what I'd do differently. I think taking these tips into account before I head out on another CYOP Road Trip will make all of the other overwhelming bits feel a little more manageable.  

p.s. Want to read more about what I learned about working on the road? I shared my insights from the first three weeks here.



Cover to Cover: Off Switch Magazine {+ an interview with Founder and Editor-in-Chief Katie Michels!}

It's not often I find myself walking hurriedly to the mailbox. We usually get our fair share of junk mail and bills. Sometimes we'll get nice cards from friends and family members. On Saturday, however, I was expecting a copy of Off Switch Magazine's fourth volume. So, I walked quickly, heel to toe, to the mailbox.And there it was...


{All photos in this post are courtesy of Katie Michels.}

I had read online previews of back issues, but I had been dying to get a print copy in-hand so I could absorb all of the stories and interviews at my own pace, away from the screen. I found Off Switch Magazine several months ago through the powers of the internet and when I heard that the publication was using Kickstarter to help move forward with Volume 5, I didn't hesitate to contribute. I have a deep respect for those working in print publications. My papa was a newspaper man and I guess I've always viewed print as something special.

Now, don't get me wrong. I love the internet. I do. However, there is just something about physically turning paper pages midway through an article that gives me a feeling I simply cannot get from turning virtual pages.

After watching the video and pledging what I could, I reached out to Founder and Editor-in-Chief Katie Michels. I knew that I had to try to get a copy of the latest volume and feature it here on the blog. One special order of volume 4, multiple emails, some lovely photos shot by Katie, herself, and here we are!

Let me tell you: the magazine is beautiful. It's not only well-designed, but the content is also thoughtfully curated. Each issue is themed and offers everything from photo collections and book recommendations to interviews and creative non-fiction pieces. Volume 4 focuses on "Lessons Learned" and was a treat to read.


From one couple's story detailing lessons learned from six weeks on the road to an interview with Seth Avett of The Avett Brothers, it was clear to me why so many others were supporting the Kickstarter campaign. While back issues aren't currently available for regular orders, several levels of contribution in the campaign will get you the entire collection and many include a copy of Volume 5!

Katie was kind enough to answer a few questions about herself, the publication and the Kickstarter campaign. I hope you enjoy her candid interview as much as I did!

1. How would you characterize Off Switch Magazine? What can people expect to find between the front and back covers?

We're relatable. Sure, we do our best to make things look good, but in the end our message — words, photos, and stories — is both human and honest. We want everyone who reads Off Switch to come out of the experience with a smile on their face and a stirring in their heart. A stirring that both inspires and motivates them to live passionately toward their dreams, big or small. At least, that's what we hope you'll find within our pages! If you like, you can simply enjoy the pretty pictures!

2. Tell us about your educational and professional background and how it prepared you for the challenges of the world of magazine publishing.

I am a twenty-three-year-old Midwesterner born and raised in a suburb west of Chicago, Illinois. I hold a bachelor's degree in graphic design, which beyond learning how to put together an editorial layout, didn't completely prepare me for running a quarterly magazine. School can be a great launching pad, but in the end observation and trial and error are the things that have taught me the most with regards to magazine publishing. I'm a strong believer in finding something you love and working hard to see it through. Trust your gut, know your limits and get ready to discover your capabilities!

3. What inspired you to launch Off Switch Magazine? Was it a single moment/incident or a collection of happenings that led you down this path?

Funnily enough, there was a single moment (or day, rather) where I decided to do this: my last day of college. While in school, I had taken a course in magazine layout/editorial design and fell in love with it. That passion for layouts and photos was the starting point. The hard part, I thought, was deciding what the yet-to-be-named magazine would be about. After tossing around idea after idea, I finally realized that the answer had been lying in front of me the whole time. I had kept a blog for the past couple years called Off Switch, a name that originated from a childhood phrase illustrating my inability to keep quiet. Over the years the term "living without an off switch" morphed from being about a chatterbox to living life fully and wholeheartedly. The blog chronicled my own pursuit of a life without an off switch, and now this magazine helps to chronicle not just my journey, but the journeys of my friends around the world. Looking back it's humorous to think I could have named the magazine anything but Off Switch.

4. You've launched a Kickstarter campaign for your next volume. Can you tell us what you hope to accomplish with a little help from readers and supporters?

With our Kickstarter campaign we will be able to give Off Switch Magazine a true shot at being a sustainable and profitable print magazine. Currently we print Off Switch in very small runs with an online-based printer, and have very little room to allow for markup, let alone be able to sell copies to boutiques at a wholesale price. Basically, funds generated through Kickstarter would help us to print the spring volume of Off Switch with a traditional printer at a higher overall price, but a much lower per copy price. As much as our dream is to be a quarterly print magazine, I am fully aware of the realities of life and money. I have plans in place should we not reach our goal. Let's just say things happen for a reason, and sometimes we have to adjust our plans and show a little patience. I'm open to whatever happens as long as I can keep working on Off Switch, whatever format that may be. Plus, it's a special thing knowing I've got the support of so many friends!

5. Tell us what we can look forward to in Volume 5. How will this volume inspire us to live life "without an off switch?"

Oh gosh! This volume is based on the super fun theme of "Come Celebrate." It's our second volume where we really adhere to a theme throughout, and that aspect very much makes each issue of Off Switch feel like complete and unique volumes in a growing series. Besides, who doesn't enjoy a good celebration every now and again? I have a feeling you will all LOVE volume five.


I have a feeling she's right, don't you? If you'd like to learn more about Off Switch Magazine, please visit their website here. If you're as inspired as I am and would like to help, you can contribute to the Kickstarter campaign here (it wraps up on February 27, so hop to it)!



Frosty Mornings

As many of you living in the Sacramento Valley know, we have had a long run of frosty mornings around here. Our outdoor thermometer has been getting a workout with overnight temperatures dipping below freezing for a few weeks. Yes, it's cold and we may not be used to it here in California, but it makes for some outdoor fun we can't get around here the rest of the year.I've been heading outside early on these cold mornings to practice with my camera and I'm pretty happy with the results. Cold. But happy.


I don't know about you all, but I feel best when I've allowed myself a moment to take in everything around me and really let it sink in. I find that joy, peace and hopefulness are most present when I'm appreciating nature: the white frosty blanket on front yards and rooftops, the way the light hits the frozen bits of dew and the crunch underfoot as I walk across a freshly frozen lawn.

So, I hope to continue capturing these moments of nature at work, paying attention to small details and appreciating things for what they are. Sounds like a life lesson, no?

The challenge is making sure I apply these tiny, cold, beautiful lessons to all things in life.

I think I'm up for the challenge. How about you?