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5 Questions with ‘Cooler Than Me’ podcaster John Himics

Here's how a new podcast that shares the stories of Delaware influencers came to be.

First Ascent Design now has its own podcast. (Courtesy photo)
Full disclosure: Tizzy Lockman, who is mentioned in this interview, is this reporter's sister. That relationship is unrelated to this report.

In a state where “everybody knows everybody,” folks can sometimes take for granted that local people in their neighborhoods often have stories that are just as compelling as the ones told by big-time movers and shakers.

John Himics, a former DuPont engineer, adjunct professor at the University of Delaware Horn Entrepreneurship and cofounder of First Ascent Design in Wilmington, launched the podcast “Cooler Than Me” in September, with the goal of giving local influencers a platform to tell their stories. Stream it here, or find it on your favorite standard podcasting service.

We asked Himics five questions about the new podcast. Here’s what he said:

1. How did “Cooler Than Me” get started?

Cooler Than Me was inspired by other highlight interview-style podcasts. Even in a community as small and tight-knit as Delaware’s can be, there are people that are too busy doing great work to share their stories with other people. We wanted to create a way to connect the people we’ve been fortunate enough to meet, and hopefully, meet more interesting people.

Matt Lupoli is a University of Delaware student who took my Entrepreneurial Marketing class last year and then began working as an intern at First Ascent. He’s been a huge driving force behind getting this done by taking this idea, running with it, and making it a reality. He’s still helping us schedule interviews, mix and edit audio, etc. even as he’s studying abroad in Ireland this semester.

2. What can listeners expect from the podcast?

Listeners can expect a laid-back conversation about the interviewee and their story, from childhood to current day-to-day to future goals. I’m most interested in what motivates them to get up every day and do great things. Every person’s story is so unique. After recording 10 episodes so far, the common thread is that everyone can do great things, it’s just not obvious where you’ll end up. We also try to include some funny questions that can spark thought-provoking discussions.

3. Any fun stories about making the podcast?

No matter who we talk to about “Cooler Than Me,” the first reaction is, “Are you talking to the right person? I’m not cool at all!” Also, whenever someone sees the microphone, the first reaction is, “Oh wow, this is serious!”

One funny story comes from the interview we did with Zach Phillips from Short Order Production Co. I’ve known Zach for years and highly respect him. He’s a video/audio expert and has run podcasts of his own in the past. When I showed up with my single microphone, he basically said, “I’m not going to let you record on that.” Ten minutes later we were set up with a few thousand dollars worth of equipment that he pulled out of the closet. And he was right. The sound was so much better, and I started an equipment shopping list for season 2!

4. What’s your podcast setup?

We started really small with this podcast and we’re recording on a single microphone, a Blue 1967 Yeti Pro. I teach Entrepreneurial Marketing at UD, and it would have been against everything I teach to get paralyzed by over-budgeting and over-thinking. We took the minimum viable product route and bought a single microphone, learned a bit about audio editing, and started emailing people to set up interviews. We have a bias towards action at First Ascent and wanted to get started and then iterate and improve. I know we’ll get better as we go, and I hope our audience will enjoy the journey with us.

5. Dream guest?

Anyone doing something awesome can be a guest! If that’s you, or someone you know, reach out to us here.

I know one area we’ll be looking into next season is some local politicians. I think many of them truly have a passion for helping people and have interesting stories. It would be nice to have a more informal setting to get to know them in. So Tizzy Lockman, Mike Purzycki, Matt Meyer, John Carney — check your inbox, you’ll be hearing from me.

Bonus — can you tease future topics?

Season 1 is fleshed out and will run through December. We have Zach Phillips, as I mentioned, Zack Jones from Dual School, Linda Schirmeister-Gess from Strive Leadership, Lauren CW Vella from Mary Ann’s List, and a few more. We’re putting together the roster for season 2 now, and I’m very excited to tease some of those guests in the future.

Companies: First Ascent Design

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