Andrew Warner | Stop Asking Questions You Don’t Care About And Other Top Interview Strategies From a Podcasting Legend
Smart Business Revolution

Andrew Warner is the Founder of Mixergy, where he interviews entrepreneurs and founders to help teach others how to build successful companies. He is one of the early leaders in podcasting with over a decade in recording interviews. Andrew mined the transcripts from his numerous interviews and used them to create a new book called Stop Asking Questions: How to Lead High-Impact Interviews and Learn Anything from Anyone.

In this episode of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, John Corcoran is joined by Andrew Warner, the Founder of Mixergy, to discuss Andrew’s new book and his strategies for asking questions during an interview. They also talk about staying motivated to do interviews, the emergence of popular podcasters, and Andrew’s advice on asking guests hard questions. Stay tuned.

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Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:

  • Andrew Warner’s advice on what questions to ask during a podcast interview
  • What keeps Andrew motivated to carry out interviews consistently?
  • How to know if podcast questions have a broad appeal
  • Why Andrew chose to focus on interviews in his latest book, Stop Asking Questions
  • Andrew’s feelings on the emergence of many popular podcasters and his thoughts on building a business around a podcast 
  • Andrew talks about people reluctant to appear on his podcast 
  • Does asking hard questions ruin a potential business relationship?
  • Andrew’s dedication to his kids and what he learned from his father
  • How Jeremy helped Andrew ditch the outline when doing interviews and the podcasters Andrew acknowledges for their support
  • Where to learn more about Andrew Warner and get his book

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

Sponsor: Rise25

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Cofounders Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran credit podcasting as being the best thing they have ever done for their businesses. Podcasting connected them with the founders/CEOs of P90xAtariEinstein BagelsMattelRx BarsYPO, EO, Lending Tree, Freshdesk,  and many more.  

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Rise25 Cofounders, Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran, have been podcasting and advising about podcasting since 2008.

Episode Transcript

Intro 0:10

Welcome to the revolution, the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, where we ask today’s most successful entrepreneurs to share the tools and strategies they use to build relationships and connections to grow their revenue. Now, your host for the revolution, John Corcoran.

John Corcoran 0:40

All right, welcome everyone, John Corcoran here, and I’m so excited for today’s episode. You know, I’m the host of this show, and a long time ago, about 11 years ago, my sixth guest is back again 11 years later. And I’m super excited about it. Of course, you know, on the show, interview all kinds of interesting CEOs, founders and entrepreneurs, of companies and organizations ranging from Netflix to Kinkos’ to YPO, EO, Activision Blizzard, go check out our archives, lots of great episodes back there. But my guest today was technically, I guess you’d say, I reached out to him many years ago, because he was a leader in this field of podcasting. It was brand new at the time, his name is Andrew Warner. He’s the original startup interview podcaster over a decade of recording interviews, and he’s mined those transcripts and turned them into a new book that’s called Stop Asking Questions. And we’re going to talk all about it here today. You also worked with my business partner, Jeremy, who I kind of stole away from him. Many years ago, they worked together for many years, making really just the leader in the medium. And so I’m so excited to talk about that. 

But of course, this episode is brought to you by Rise25 Media where we help b2b businesses to get clients, referrals, and strategic partnerships with done for you podcasts and content marketing. And I’m sure that this interview will either be an episode that I share with our clients for years to come as an example of what to do or what not to do, who knows? You’re going to have to listen to find out. But go to to find out all about it. Andrew, it’s such a, it’s so excited to talk to you. This is one of the reasons I love doing podcasting, because it’s a great opportunity to deliver value to people that you’ve known for a while to help them out. And you’ve got a new book coming out. So what a great excuse for us to chat again. But let’s start with I want to know, you know, when people get started with podcasting, a lot of times or interviewing in general, there’s this tension between Do you ask a question that you’re curious about the or do you ask a question that the audience is curious about? And you’ve got a great take on it? And I want to hear a little bit about that. Because hey, I’m going to talk to you for the next 30 minutes. Should I just ask questions I’m curious about or should I ask what I what I think that the audience is curious about?

Andrew Warner 2:50

You should be absolutely selfish in conversation, you should be thinking, what do I John care about the most what’s pressing for me, because otherwise, it comes across as just bland and nobody cares. But if you’re super passionate about it, there’s a good chance that the audience that you’ve attracted cares about what you’re interested in. And I’ll tell you, I’ve done 2000 plus interviews on my podcast, since 2008 2007. And I It wasn’t until this year and promotion of the book that I started doing a bunch of interviews where people ask me questions, and John, the ones that are doing me a favor, and only asking me about stuff in the book, because they’re supposed to be asking me about my past business, because they’re supposed to are the most bland interviews that I can’t listen to, I can’t share, I can’t I can’t even be engaged in them. Because the person who’s doing the interviewing doesn’t really care. All they’re trying to do is do the thing they’re supposed to do. And that’s just why. But I would much rather they said, Andrew, I started doing these interviews, because I saw you you’ve talked about how much money you’re making with it. I’m not making any money. This is not working out. What do you say about that? I would much rather they did that I would much rather they challenge something in my book, I would much rather that they said can we step away from all this? And I want to understand how it is that you were able to find somebody to marry you when you look as ugly as you look, give me something? Don’t be so.

John Corcoran 4:13

That’s great advice. All right. Well, then I’m going to start with one that’s top of mind for me. And it’s relevant to you since you’ve been doing it for 12-13 years now is how do you keep up the consistency? How do you keep motivated do it you’ve mentioned that you’ve experienced burnout, depression? How do you

Andrew Warner 4:31

or depression keep doing out burnout from everything except for doing the interviews and here’s how the interviews keep me going. Number one, I always book ahead with anything else in life if you have to. If you have to do it, you think that you have to do it by yourself with interviewing, there’s no question. You have to do it with somebody else. And so the fact that tomorrow well, not tomorrow, but today I didn’t feel like doing much but I had an interview scheduled for 1030 in the morning. I didn’t even have office space the recording the Airbnb listing and has no quiet place the air be the we work that I usually use here in Austin, Texas was fully booked. But I found a way I found another we work that I had to ride my bike further out which I loved. I set up a new recording setup in this space. And I showed up and I enjoyed myself and I got to talk to this guy Kenny, who can you Schumacher frickin love that guy. I want to marry Kenny Schumacher. But I I, I had that scheduled. And so I showed up and I did it. And the fact that with interviewing if you schedule with other people, they hold you accountable. They do half the work, if not more with you and you continue. So that’s the practical thing, scheduling with other people. The other part is I talk about the stuff I care about. A few weeks ago, I had an interview scheduled with Wolf Schroeder instead of asking him about why he bought virtual, the virtual assistant company, how he was able to grow his business, black bamboo, a lot of the stuff you’re supposed to. I said, dude, will I rode my bike in here. I didn’t want to talk to you today. And the reason I didn’t want to talk to you is I’m starting to feel burnout. And that’s what became our one hour conversation about burnout. And you know what, if I look at my email, the number one most talked about podcast episode that I’ve done was with will about burnout because I cared about it, because it’s it’s relevant to my audience. The interview that I did earlier today with Kenny Schumacher, we started out talking about where he invested his money, like the guy created a few companies that he thought were safe, like, subscription based web design company. And he told me he earned $800,000 from selling milk company. I said, where do you invest it? I thought that was fascinating how he bought homes in Alabama. I said how much money thinking it was like few $100,000 No $240,000 to buy a house in Alabama. He then rented out like, I care about that I care about what he’s doing with his Bitcoin. So he’s buying it, he’s huddling it he’s and why do I care about it? Cuz I’m thinking, Where do I invest? What do I do? Should I buy some houses? So the thing that keeps it interesting with interviewing is the thing that interviewing is best that you have other people holding you accountable and keeping you going. And you get to ask about anything you care about.

John Corcoran 7:04

Let me be devil’s advocate, though, you’re pretty good at asking questions that maybe there’s overlap between what you’re interested in what your audience is, is interested in. But there are plenty people who would ask questions that maybe don’t have that much broad appeal. So how do they know if they’re asking questions that maybe they’re they’re interested in

Andrew Warner 7:28

is no broad appeal. There’s broad appeal is dead. I don’t know why everyone’s trying to appeal to a big group of audience, if you really think that you’re going to be the next Katie Couric. By doing the podcast, you’re out of your frickin mind, you’re not going to appeal to everyone, you’re not going to be the mainstream thing. You’re just not even Joe Rogan, one of the biggest podcasters is not mainstream in the sense that everybody listens to him, go ask your friends who listened to him yesterday, they’re not listening. The thing is that the internet’s allowing us to do is to say, we are freaks of this topic. And we are so freaky that other people want to experience what we have. And that’s where we shine, we don’t shine and having broad appeal, we shine and saying here’s my freakin freak flag. And if you care about it, you should come on board. And when I started Mixergy, it was I believe that people should be entrepreneurs. I’m spitting as I’m talking. But that’s the way it should be. It should be that exciting. And it had to be this entrepreneurial thing that was all about software and all about the internet. And you know what, at the time people weren’t into that they were into getting a good job. The internet was great. But also should you actually create something on this platform? Or why not create people would literally tell me, why don’t you do restaurants, I would like restaurant, scream, I don’t care. Go create your own podcast about restaurants. This is what I care about. And then this following, and people who ended up creating companies like Dropbox and Airbnb, were listening, and then they came on, and that’s where the fire is, the fire is in saying, I’m freaking this thing. And I’m going to go for it. Do John, before we got started, I told you that I’m burned out and after this year, I’m gonna continue to do interviews, but I’m gonna take some time off of work. I’m gonna play chess. There’s this guy. Love you. Rosen. I think his name is I know him as Gotham chess, because the guy plays chess on YouTube. And then he analyzes the chess game, while being a little weirdo. He will literally make fart noises with his armpit. He has over a million followers there. He’s selling like these how to how to do chess openings thing. He’s a weirdo of his own little world. That’s what the internet’s allowing us to do. And if you don’t let your freak flag fly, what are you doing? Get out of here, then?

John Corcoran 9:24

Yeah, yeah. David Randell one of my guests on the podcast talked a lot about that as well. This actually this discussion relates to something that you and Jeremy, my business partner talked about on his interview of you on inspired insider, you got it. You talked about Jeremy pushed back against you and said, You know, I thought that the topic this book could have been broader rather than just focusing on on interviews. It could have been broader for general discussions, but you made a deliberate decision with the book to focus it in on interviews, rather than saying like, you know, like a crucial conversations type of thing or general conversations. And and that was makes sense, given what you just said?

Andrew Warner 10:01

Yeah, I believe me, I wanted to it wasn’t until my editor, I was working with this woman, Mary sun, an editor, Penguin. And I said, we’re going to go abroad, we’re going to show people how to have better conversations, gutsier conversations based on what I learned from my 2000 plus interviews. And she said, Okay, and as we were doing it, I realized that my only stories, my only examples of how these techniques are used came from doing interviews, and I thought, am I going to be somebody who is authentic and says, this is from interviewing? Or am I going to be somebody who tries to say, I’ve done it an interview, and now I have authority everywhere else. And I realized, you know, what, if I don’t have enough examples, if I can’t prove it, then shut up. And so I couldn’t prove it. I shut up about that. And I focused on interviewing and you know what, it turns out that there are more and more people who are going to be doing interviews, not as many people is going to have conversations in general, but interviewing whether it’s on stage conferences, whether it’s like this, like you’re doing it’s a growing group of freaks. And those are my freaks. And that’s what the book is for people who are leading conversations. Yeah.

John Corcoran 11:04

Now what about why do a book now you’re a leader in this medium, it’s been 13 years, you started very early in this medium, why a book books are so old school.

Andrew Warner 11:17

I still read books, a lot of people still read books, I think I probably would have gotten I don’t know what maybe if I would have turned it into a YouTube channel would have been something but I enjoy books. I’m doing it because I find that I get deep into a topic when I read about it in a way that I don’t want to do something else. I also find that people take books more seriously. I don’t know that that’s going to last forever. But I’m getting pictures of people who bought my book who are reading it. They’re sending me pictures of where they’re reading it. I’m getting screenshots of what people are underlining. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten that for some random thing I posted online.

John Corcoran 11:51

Yeah. Yeah, it’s been a popular thing, too. I mean, Tim Ferriss has done that with a bunch of his podcast episodes, turn them into books.