258: Stuff of Lore with Aaron Mahnke

This week’s guest is Aaron Mahnke, the creator of the Lore podcast and the small empire that’s grown up around it. He joins Brett to talk about Lore, podcasting, and how life can change when you least expect it.

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Systematic 258

Brett: [00:00:00] [00:00:00]My guest this week is Aaron Mahnke he’s the creator of the Lore podcasts and a small empire. That’s grown up around it. How’s it going, Aaron?

[00:00:15] Aaron: [00:00:15] Hey, Brett, I am doing well. I’m doing well. How are you?

[00:00:17]Brett: [00:00:17] I’m good. I haven’t talked to you since 2016 and at that point a lot had happened since the last time I talked to you before that, and I feel like things have only exponentially grown for you since then.

[00:00:32] Aaron: [00:00:32] Things are indeed busy. Yes. And I like it that way. It’s been really fun.

[00:00:38] Brett: [00:00:38] Yeah. So I think we talked about this back in 2016, but when I first became aware of you kind of cross paths with you, you were of tossing ideas against the wall with frictionless workflow stuff and kind of putting out things like index cards and whatnot. And then all of this sudden. [00:01:00] You put out a podcast that I don’t think you had like strong, a strong inclination that it was going to change your life. And it, it did.

[00:01:12] Aaron: [00:01:12] It did it really did. Yeah. I tell people when they ask me, you know, how did you start lore? I say, have you ever seen one of those detective movies where the. You know, the clever detectives in the library of this English Manor and he sort of leans on a bookshelf and a door swings open because he leaned on the right thing.

[00:01:28]That’s how I fell into this. It was all complete happenstance and I have just been making it up as I go ever since.

[00:01:37] Brett: [00:01:37] Laura gained more and more popularity. Eventually got. Optioned as an Amazon show. What other Lore specifically, we’ll talk about some of your other shows soon, but like what other major avenues has Laura taken since then?

[00:01:51] Aaron: [00:01:51] Shortly after the TV offers rolled in, I had a number of literary agents reach out they’re these mythical [00:02:00] people that a lot of authors don’t think actually exist because. It’s so hard to attain. And I had a lot of them knocking on my door, which was super great. So I teamed up with one of them sold a three book lore series to penguin random house.

[00:02:12] The first of the books came out the same. I think the same. It was the same month. I, it might’ve been the same week as the first season of the TV show. So it was sort of a big October, 2017, I think 17 and 18. I think that was the 2017 was the, was like the big month where everything landed. Yeah. And and then, I don’t really think of it as a spinoff, but I’ve taken Lore on the road, you know, we’ve done.

[00:02:35]Chad who composes music for the show. He’s a amazing classical pianist. He’s got an album out now. That’s just tearing up the charts in his category. He recorded at Abbey road. He’s signed on with Decca records legendary. Record that. Yeah he’s the bomb and we’ll go on tour and do 15 or 20 cities across the country over the course of a few months, just, you know, go out and do a few come back home recuperate and do lore live in front of an audience of a [00:03:00] thousand or two people.

[00:03:01]It’s always a really fun time.

[00:03:03] Brett: [00:03:03] That’s amazing. So you started production company, I think is what you would call it grim and mild.

[00:03:09] Aaron: [00:03:09] Yeah. Yeah. About three years ago, was it three years ago? Two and a half. I, heart radio approached me and they said, Hey, we love what you do with lore. And we want you to make more shows. And so what we want to do is we want to Pay you for your services, but also provide you with production, muscle, and staff and people who can take your ideas and make them into shows.

[00:03:29] And the first thing we launched was a show called cabinet of curiosities which is my love letter to Paul Harvey and the rest of the story and a little bit of uh Ripley’s believe it or not. And it comes out twice a week. Each episode has two tiny five minute stories in it that are these little.

[00:03:44] You know, delightful, wonderful, curious, vignettes about inventions are amazing people. And then after that, it’s just been that’s the same model for every show. And when I went to re up that deal a year later, or two years later, I guess it’s been three because I just hit the year [00:04:00] Mark on grim and mild.

[00:04:01] Anyway, I needed a more of a. I needed to hire people I needed at the time I was doing cabinet with contracts, Unobscured. And then unobscured, that was another show I brought on. And I was doing that with paid contractors, but I wanted to hire people and, you know, give health insurance and all those benefits and have people on staff who could do other things too.

[00:04:19] So I started a production company to sort of be the umbrella for that expensive venture. And and now everything is sort of bundled up under that umbrella that I guess it’s a network in a sense of grim and mild.

[00:04:31] Brett: [00:04:31] How big is your team now?

[00:04:33] Aaron: [00:04:33] I have five paid staff members. And I have another, I think three contractors who still, they’d rather just be contractors, they’re doing it, you know, around a day job or things like that.

[00:04:43]I think, you know, Harry Marks he’s floated in our circle for years. Harry writes cabinet for me. He’s my main guy for cabinet. Yeah. And he does that around a full-time job. So there’s no need to hire him and all that. Yeah, it’s great. So yeah, th the team grows as it needs to and, you know, [00:05:00] there’s seasons for a lot of these shows and ebbs and flows, and so people can move around and, you know, we’re developing other stuff and working on other shows that haven’t come out yet.

[00:05:08] And it’s exciting. We do team meetings every month, every every Monday and writers’ rooms for different shows on a regular basis. It’s it feels like a. The production company.

[00:05:18] Brett: [00:05:18] Like I’m just. I did not succeed at being independent. Like I recently took a day job after a decade of doing my own version of throwing things against the wall and seeing what sticks and I feel like I am the typical story of people who try to make it independently.

[00:05:35] And you are the very atypical story of of independent success.

[00:05:41]Aaron: [00:05:41] Yeah. I like, you know, I’ve said it already and I’ll say it many times today, but I am making this up as I go. I. There was no manual to tell me what to do. It did help that I was running A small one person designed business for about seven years, but that just taught me about things like taxes and how to handle clients.

[00:05:58] But I did take a lot of those [00:06:00] skills, you know, how to sell a logo to a local plumber who doesn’t necessarily think he needs one to going out to sponsors, you know, in those very early days, it was like me knocking on doors. I remember just a couple of months after lore. Came out. And then the numbers were screaming up and I thought, Oh, it’s getting to the point where I can go get advertisers, but I didn’t know how to do it.

[00:06:22] So I just went to contact forms on websites, for places like Squarespace or Casper and sent messages into their customer service team and said, Hey, I’ve got this show and here’s its numbers. And I don’t know who in your company to talk to, but could you point me that way? And they always would. And and it worked and I started selling ads and I’ve continued to sell my own ads on Lore for the last six years.

[00:06:43]Brett: [00:06:43] That’s a time suck in and of itself.

[00:06:46] Aaron: [00:06:46] Sounds like it. My ad sales, I do it for the whole calendar year in one shot. I don’t do like quarterly that look, Laura is six years old. I’m beyond the point where I’m going to grow exponentially from quarter to quarter. It’s a [00:07:00] steady show and that’s fine. And it makes selling easy. So I can take a week out of my August or September.

[00:07:05] And I can put together my numbers put together my prices. I know that I’m going to put out like 28 episodes over the year. Every episode has three spots, so there’s 84 spots I need to fill. And I just go out to the agencies that I have contacts with. And I say, here’s my availability. It’s first come first serve.

[00:07:21] Here’s the pricing. Let me know what dates you want, but hurry up because they’re going fast. And they do within a week. I sell out the year. I dust my hands off and I move on to the next task. So

[00:07:30] Brett: [00:07:30] be nice.

[00:07:31]Aaron: [00:07:31] It’s been really great. It’s. You know, I’m grateful there. When I launched lore six years ago, there were, I don’t know, maybe a quarter of a million podcasts out there, and there are over 2 million now and granted, most of them don’t have enough downloads to get sponsors, but there’s more competition for ad money now than we used to be.

[00:07:51] So I’m grateful that I can sell out.

[00:07:55] Brett: [00:07:55] I have budgets for podcasts advertising than they did six years ago, [00:08:00] too.

[00:08:00] Aaron: [00:08:00] Yeah and I think over the six years, a lot of new startups have come out and written into their DNA is we’re going to go, you know, advertise on podcasts.

[00:08:09] Brett: [00:08:09] Yeah, exactly. So when you’re out hiring for your your team what kind of credentials, how do you hire people?

[00:08:17]Aaron: [00:08:17] I have hired very haphazardly. I’ve sort of let fate t ake the wheel. I’ll give you an example. My wife and I were this is pre COVID. We’re on a train in Boston on a subway ride that we’re on the T in Boston, heading to the house of blues to see the racantours and as a side note, the show is incredible.

[00:08:36] Jack White knows how to put on a good show. And the Raconteurs tour that year, it was just an insane, and we’re on a subway car and we’re in the corner back corner. And there’s these two I can tell from their accent, they’re Midwestern. I grew up in the Midwest and there are these two older guys, probably in their late fifties, early sixties.

[00:08:54] And they have this college age girl trapped in a corner and they’re peppering her with questions and [00:09:00] she’s, you can tell the smiles are polite, but they’re forced. And my wife and I just sort of edge our way closer to her. And we were listening and waiting for an opportunity to sort of help her out. If we need to.

[00:09:11] Then we heard her mention that she is she’s in grad school and they said, Oh, what are you doing? Are you an education major? Because of course. All old white men think that women who are in grad school have to be going to be a teacher. And no she’s actually in for history. She said, and my ears perk up because, you know, at the basic level, Lore is a history show and they said, Oh what do you study?

[00:09:30] American history? And she said, no, I specialize in medieval, which trial manuscripts. And that was the moment where I just sort of leaned forward and put my hand out and I said, Hey, I’m Erin, do you listen to podcasts? And that’s how I met Allie. She is one of my five teammates and does insane work.

[00:09:47]Her, you know, graduate school studies were about medieval, witch trial manuscripts, the documents that came out of these trials and court documents and all that. And she’s been invaluable. She’s. It’s amazing. So that’s how [00:10:00] I meet. That’s how I meet my folks.

[00:10:01] Brett: [00:10:01] And she’s full-time now

[00:10:03] Aaron: [00:10:03] Yeah. Yeah. She’s full-time

[00:10:04] Brett: [00:10:04] I bet that story would be fun to hear from her perspective as well.

[00:10:09] Aaron: [00:10:09] I know, right? Yeah. I think she was, I would hope she was grateful for the chance meeting, but she, you know, she’s she just, she loves the job. She tells me frequently, she can’t believe this is what she does for a living. And yeah. Basically I paid people to research and write and. It’s very cool.

[00:10:25] Yeah.

[00:10:25] Brett: [00:10:25] So has the pandemic affected Lore slash grim and mild in any way?

[00:10:31]Aaron: [00:10:31] You know, it’s funny. I decided like February of 2014, maybe even January that I was going to bundle everything up into a company, I was going to hire people who are needing to be hired. Like Carl who helped research and write unobscured. I wanted him full-time he’s an old friend and I wanted to get him back from the West coast to the East coast.

[00:10:51] And so I leased office space. I bought furniture. I went to article.com, you know, an old sponsor, and I just furnished the place out, lots of desks and built a sound [00:11:00] studio in there. Got it set up where three people can sit down and do round table conversations and we were ready to go. And then we were ready to launch in March and I’m like, all right, let’s let’s move in.

[00:11:10] And March was when the world shut down. And so for the last year, plus one or two people have been going into the office and working in separate rooms with masks on and you know, Allie doesn’t live, she lives in the area, but she lives far enough away that she’s just been working from home the entire time.

[00:11:27] And I go in from time to time just to see how the office is doing and if I have to have an in-person meeting, but yeah, it just sort of shut down these exciting launch plans, we’ve got our show artwork on the wall. You can walk through and sit down and have conversations about the story in an episode, or where are we going with the series and just have them right there.

[00:11:46] And we don’t get to do that right now. And that’s been frustrating, but I’m amazed at how easily zoom filled in for a lot of those functions. You know, my kids have to do school over zoom. We’re not sending them to school. It has proved itself to be a valuable tool for us. But [00:12:00] yeah, it would have been nice to meet in person for lore though.

[00:12:02]I sort of, I keep it compartmentalized lore on its own. I’ve got researchers digging in to future episodes and I just write every day and I record from home in my booth where I’m at right now. And it, I know COVID disrupted a lot and I don’t want to downplay it at all for a lot of people’s lives.

[00:12:17] But for me as a work at home guy it didn’t really impact a lot of my life. Yeah,

[00:12:22] Brett: [00:12:22] Yeah. I’m in the same boat there.

[00:12:23] Aaron: [00:12:23] yeah, I was going to say, I bet you probably experienced the same thing.

[00:12:26] Brett: [00:12:26] Yeah. No, there really hasn’t been, other than I now go to yoga over zoom, literally nothing else in my life changed other than I didn’t have to see people as often, which is totally fine with me.

[00:12:38]Aaron: [00:12:38] Yeah, I’m an introvert, so um not seeing people has been, it’s been right. All right. I’m fine with,

[00:12:44] Brett: [00:12:44] Do you have any anxiety about that changing and expectations going back to to in-person meetings.

[00:12:51] Aaron: [00:12:51] I don’t, I know a lot of people that do and I feel for them I have learned over the years that I’m sort of a chameleon when it comes to the introvert extrovert thing, having to [00:13:00] go. And I can go back and. It sounds like I’m bragging. I’m not trying to brag, but like you go through enough press things for TV shows or a book tour, you go do live shows.

[00:13:08] You get really good at flipping a switch and turning that extrovert part of your brain on. And it burns a lot of fuel. And I go to my hotel room and crash when I’m done, but I’ve gotten good at flipping back and forth. I’m not as worried about going back out in public, because for me, it’s, you know, it’s always been an uncomfortable thing.

[00:13:25] I’ll just flip the switch and I’ll do my thing and then I can turn it off and go back to the hotel room. But yeah, I know people who are, they’re worried,

[00:13:35] Brett: [00:13:35] Mansplaining. If a man explained something to a man.

[00:13:37]This comes up. This comes up now. And then I do have a lot of introverts on this show, but an introvert is really good at social stuff for limited periods of time. And what makes you an introvert is how long it takes you to recharge after being on? Yeah,

[00:13:58] Aaron: [00:13:58] an introvert re [00:14:00] yeah. Introverts need to be alone to recharge. That’s how they feel back up. My wife’s an extrovert and so she fuels up by being around people. Let’s have some friends over. That’s a, that’s an Oasis for her, for me. That’s a hell that I have to get through. And then we’ll, then I’ll recharge afterwards.

[00:14:16] Brett: [00:14:16] Yeah. I grew up with a very extroverted mother who did not understand why I knew I needed alone time after just half an hour of hanging out with people.

[00:14:27] Aaron: [00:14:27] Yeah. Yeah. I’m with ya.

[00:14:28]Brett: [00:14:28] So I’m going to switch over to some psychology questions. Do you consider yourself? Neuro-typical

[00:14:36] Aaron: [00:14:37] I will tell you a couple of things. I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology and I don’t know what that question means. How’s that for honesty? Yeah.

[00:14:45]Brett: [00:14:45] So and it’s a word that I’ve heard more, more recently, but I like the idea of a neuro-typical are people who don’t have problems with things like ADHD or autism just function [00:15:00] as normal human beings. People on the autism spectrum would be neuro atypical or neurodiverse.

[00:15:09] Aaron: [00:15:09] I the biggest challenge that I have is I can be dyslexic with numbers. That’s the, and it doesn’t pop up all the time. I notice it mostly when I’m, that’s why I use spreadsheets, because if I don’t use a spreadsheet, I make mistakes. It’s not a bad math thing. It’s literally a dyslexia with numbers kind of issue.

[00:15:27] And that’s the one thing that really hinders me. I have become very disciplined over the years. And so I don’t really feel like there’s anything. Personality wise or hardwiring wise holding my production back.

[00:15:39]Brett: [00:15:39] I ask mostly because people I know that are on the autism spectrum and most of them very mild just like certain social behaviors and things that have led them to get a diagnosis. But they by and large love research and they love going in depth. On a topic and can [00:16:00] compile they an attention span.

[00:16:01] Like I will never understand but an ability to deep dive on things, which is something I see as a prerequisite for the kind of shows that you produce.

[00:16:11] Aaron: [00:16:12] I’m going to say that the people who work for me, that, that are research oriented, they are wired a very specific way. But they’re also. Very socially normal. I don’t feel like they they work through any challenges on a regular basis. I think that they manage really well.

[00:16:26] Brett: [00:16:26] Like you personally, do you enjoy research?

[00:16:29] Aaron: [00:16:29] I do. I do. Th I think the most frustrating thing about research for me these days is that I want to go so much deeper on a lot of things. And I can’t, because I know that there’s a goal for every episode we have, you know, you can fall down every rabbit hole in the world on Wikipedia and you know, Oh, this connects to this and do that 17 times and you’ve lost three hours.

[00:16:49] So for me, I have to be very focused on the particular story we need to tell. And just the context that helps that story. Yeah I love research and I don’t do as much of it [00:17:00] as I used to because I have people who do it for me. So my, my, my time is spent elsewhere.

[00:17:05] Brett: [00:17:05] So a lot of your Laura specially. It’s even in the name of your production company skews dark. Why do you have a personal attraction to things that are a little bit dark?

[00:17:18]Aaron: [00:17:18] I grew up on, you know, properties like unsolved mysteries the X-Files I, yeah, I think I do skew that way. I often tell people that where I discovered that I really wanted to tell stories was when I was a kid and my mom bought me a book from the what was it called? The. That paper catalog.

[00:17:37] We would get, you know, like once a month in school, Scholastic readers club, no Scholastic readers club. And she picked me up a book of like weird, but true stories. That’s, you know, just captured my imagination and, you know, things like people, a farmer who vanishes into a field, you know, never to be seen again.

[00:17:56] And just, you know, and then to be told as a ten-year-old and this really [00:18:00] happened, it’s a true story. It just blew my mind.

[00:18:02] Brett: [00:18:02] Yeah, I can relate. It doesn’t show up as much in my work as it does for you. But I definitely, as a kid like unsolved mysteries, I think that was the name of that show. I absolutely, I loved it. I loved things that left me with more questions than answers. That was always a fascination of mine.

[00:18:26] Aaron: [00:18:26] Yeah, I think that one of the things that I pulled out of that was that it’s healthy to not have answers. I think as humans, we really want to have all the answers. And it’s good to go looking for them. I certainly want people to figure out how to cure cancer someday. Like I want us to have answers.

[00:18:42] But I think that there’s a power in mystery that not knowing the answer to something is okay, and can be entertaining. And that’s where I’ve sort of parked myself over the years.

[00:18:53] Brett: [00:18:53] Do you consider yourself a religious person

[00:18:56] Aaron: [00:18:56] yeah,

[00:18:56]Brett: [00:18:56] Christian faith.

[00:18:58] Aaron: [00:18:58] yeah. Have been since I don’t [00:19:00] know, in middle school or so.

[00:19:01] Brett: [00:19:01] Okay. I went the opposite way. I was. Christian until middle school, but I feel like the idea of needing to explain the big mysteries plays in a lot too, like any religion and that need to have something, have an explanation for big questions that without religion you know, where did we come from?

[00:19:26] Can be inexplicable. Or like the scientific community has to say, there are a lot of things we just don’t know. Do you think that religion for you serves to answer those questions or is it something else?

[00:19:40]Aaron: [00:19:40] I’m not sure that it serves to answer that. Particularly I know, you know, Laura is a. No creepy history, storytelling, podcasts, but at the same time, I spend a lot of time sort of reflecting on the human condition, but what it means to be human on humanity, right? Like [00:20:00] how and we find a lot of this in folklore from culture to culture how, the things we build into our belief systems whether it’s, you know, a main line.

[00:20:10] Religion or it’s an archaic folklore belief, like whatever that mix is, it’s there to compensate for something or to explain something or to help us get through something. And that’s the stuff that fascinates me.

[00:20:22] Brett: [00:20:22] So are you still writing novels?

[00:20:25]Aaron: [00:20:25] I’m not there’s a asterisk next to that. I, I wrote and self published three of them before launching Lore. In fact, Lore was meant to be like Oh, like an email newsletter giveaway Hey, I’ll give you these five, you know, historical essays that I discovered this stuff while researching my novels.

[00:20:43] If you just sign up for my mailing list. But over the years and deepening my relationship with iHeart. I’ve been able to dig into the fiction realm. So last year I came on late to the project, but last year we launched a show in October called 13 days of [00:21:00] Halloween, which was sort of, sorry sort of it’s, it was like a hybrid of anthology style storytelling.

[00:21:04] Every episode was a new story, but it was all wrapped up in a larger meta story. And the idea was that you were. You are a visitor to a hotel and the caretaker was taking you from room to room and introducing you to the other guests, to the hotel. And each one had a story to tell you that the caretaker was voiced by Keegan Michael Key, which was insane to watch him perform and do that I didn’t have a lot of creative input in the show.

[00:21:26]did get to pick some of the stories and kill some of the stories. But this year, we’re, we’ve already started, you know, pre production on the second season of that. And I’m a lot more involved in it this time around I’ve concepted the season and instructed the writers on where to go with it.

[00:21:41] And we’re having fun. I’ve also got an audio fiction show coming out late summer, early fall, probably August or so that I can’t talk about, but it has an insane cast. And it’s it’s my first like full production audio drama. I came up with the story. Pitched it to a friend who writes screenplays for audio dramas [00:22:00] and they wrote the actual, I don’t know how to write like that specific language of screenplays.

[00:22:04]That’s not something I know how to do. So they did that for me and gave the thing an incredible life. And so that’s that’s been a labor of love for about a year and a half, and we’re hoping to get that out in August. And then there’ll be more fiction from me after that. But I think it’s going to be in the audio space at this point.

[00:22:18] I, my literary agent would like me to write. Fiction. They would specifically like me to write like middle grade slightly younger than Y a I just, for the time involved for the ROI. For me, it’s so much better to do audio. And and it’s where people are at audio is where people are at. Audio book sales are so much higher than print or ebook sales because you can listen in the car on the way to work, or you can listen.

[00:22:43] You know, on a subway. So anyway, all that to say, I don’t write novels anymore, but I’m still working in fiction.

[00:22:49] Brett: [00:22:49] So one of the things that happens when anything gets really popular is you get more criticism. People tend to be harsher. The more popular something is [00:23:00] have you dealt with. With kind of the pitfalls of fame in that regard.

[00:23:06] Aaron: [00:23:06] Yeah. Yeah. It’s interesting. You bring that up and I don’t know how closely this relates, but this, if this feels right to me. So again, I launched lore six years ago and I was making it up as I went. And so that meant that I recorded episode one in a. And an old new England house on the third floor, in an, in a room that had no straight walls, they were all like angular because it was in the eaves of the house.

[00:23:32] Horsehair plaster is really hard and reflective with sound hardwood floors. The furniture was from Ikea. So really hard composite wood with cheap plastic veneer, everything was reflective. It was like, Shining a light into a fun house at a circus. And and then I talked into a microphone that was between me and my glass IMAX screen.

[00:23:53] So acoustically, I did everything wrong. And that’s why from the very beginning, there was music in the background because. It’s like [00:24:00] taking a bad photo and putting it in Instagram and adding a filter. And it sounds okay. Or it looks okay. Those early episodes of lore, if you listen to episode one and then listen to episode one 67, which came out last week, they’re night and day in quality.

[00:24:12] And I also, I was learning to be a narrator. I’d never done it before. All those pieces, I was learning to edit audio. For a number of years, lore grew and there weren’t complaints about those old episodes, but I’m watching numbers on places like Spotify, where I can see how many people start listening to this show, but don’t follow the show.

[00:24:30] They don’t tap the subscribe button. And there’s a big gap there. And my fear has been that’s like a, non-verbal non expressed complaints about the quality of the early episodes. So just today I launched a new I basically made a new episode called episode one same title, but after the title in parentheses, it says remastered.

[00:24:50] And it’s me recording the same script, but on this mic, in this booth today with this voice and this experience, and then editing it and producing it with Chad’s music [00:25:00] and all these, you know, it’s a modern version of what episode one could be. I didn’t want to take the old one away cause I got a lot of hardcore fans that are super attached to them, but I wanted to provide something that’s new people who find the show for the first time and they want to start at episode one, they have an option to take the high quality path.

[00:25:17]That’s me sort of responding to that. I take an attack with criticism. That is if it’s if there’s no pattern to it, if it’s rare in a category, you can ignore it. But if it pops up frequently about the same thing, then you should probably take a notice of it. Early on, I had some bad reviews that said your music volume is way too loud compared to your voiceover volume.

[00:25:39] And I thought you’re dumb. I know what I’m doing. I didn’t, but I, you know, and so I ignored them, but I watched a number of them hit iTunes. It was iTunes at the time. And so I went in and I lowered my music volume and I’ve never had complaints ever since. So I look for patterns and complaints. And if it’s blowing up, I’ll take care of it.

[00:25:56]Brett: [00:25:56] You take all criticism constructively [00:26:00] unless you’re just letting it pass it. Doesn’t it doesn’t affect you negatively.

[00:26:05]Aaron: [00:26:05] I think it’s human to be affected by that stuff. I’ve heard Adam Savage refer to reading the reviews of your own stuff as cutting. And it is in a way you’re harming yourself when you. When you put that in your brain, but we also want to hear what people have to say. Yeah, it’s a weird place to live.

[00:26:23] Brett: [00:26:23] I I went back and read. Reviews of my other podcasts over tired. I hadn’t looked at it for years and there was this one review that just went off. He said, I would give this one star, but I’m going to give them two for trying these two people have nothing to say. They’re wandering and boring.

[00:26:46] And it sounds like they haven’t slept. And the show was called overtired. I feel like. I feel like that’s the point, but it was the first time I’ve read a bad review and just been able to laugh. Like it didn’t. I [00:27:00] have a very thin skin. Like I have to take, I have to step back and take a breath.

[00:27:04] Anytime someone criticizes me. It like cuts me deeper, I think, than. A normal neuro-typical person. So that’s, it’s dealing with that kind of criticism. I just, I’ve always been a little bit grateful that my things aren’t so popular that I have to face that much, but

[00:27:22] Aaron: [00:27:22] Yeah. Yeah. Certainly w the more popular, you know, just statistically, you’re gonna, you’re gonna reach more people. And that means that same 1% or 10% just becomes a larger population and they’re going to be. They’re going to complain, but you know, the complaints that bother me the most are the people that complain about ads at podcasting.

[00:27:42] know Oh your show is great but you ruin it with ads And I want to sit them down and walk them through how incredibly thoughtful I really am about my ads and how I use them compared to other podcasts that’s one random person on the internet and I’m not going to spend my time doing that. So [00:28:00] I’ve had to learn to just walk away.

[00:28:01] Brett: [00:28:01] Yeah and those random people who complain about advertising very often are the same people that wouldn’t pay for it anyway. Yeah.

[00:28:10]Aaron: [00:28:10] Yeah. Yeah. Thank you for the free show, but boy, your ads suck, you know, and it’s just a, it stings a little bit. Yeah,

[00:28:16] Brett: [00:28:16] All right. Speaking of sponsors,

[00:28:18]Aaron: [00:28:18] you want to pay the bills?

[00:28:20] Brett: [00:28:20] I do.

[00:28:21] Aaron: [00:28:21] Awesome.

[00:28:22]Sponsor: Nebia

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[00:29:13] If you can change a light bulb, you can install Nebia by Moen it’s seriously easy. I installed mine in 10 minutes and I didn’t need a single tool that wasn’t included in the box. I have a little plumbing experience, so I wasn’t super worried to begin with, but I can report that my cohost on overtired, Christina Warren also installed it without a hitch, despite claiming to be 100% quote, unquote, not handy.

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[00:30:23] So again, that’s nebia.com/systematic and use that code systematic to save 15%.

[00:30:30] that brings us to some top three picks. I know that you don’t have a hard list in front of you. We’re going to wing this Tell me the first thing that kind of Springs to mind as your favorite thing right now.

[00:30:42]Aaron: [00:30:42] I’ll pull it out of my pocket right now. I’ve taken to the world of nice pocket knives. Little everyday carry and I have in my pocket Chris Reeve. Sobenza it’s got you can look him up. He’s a really, it’s a company that makes really respected easy to use pocket knives.

[00:30:59] And [00:31:00] it’s the one that has Ebony inlay on both sides, sort of a polished titanium on most surfaces. It’s just, it’s really nice. It’s always in my pocket.

[00:31:08] Brett: [00:31:08] How do you spell the name of the knife?

[00:31:09]Aaron: [00:31:09] So Benza S E B E and Z a.

[00:31:14] Brett: [00:31:14] All right. Is it airline safe? How big is

[00:31:17] Aaron: [00:31:17] Oh no, it’s not it’s. I think the blade is probably like just under three inches. It might be like 2.9, eight inches or something.

[00:31:24] Brett: [00:31:24] What’s airline regulation. Isn’t three inches. Okay. Yeah.

[00:31:28] Aaron: [00:31:28] Oh, I don’t know. I’ve just assumed I can’t get on a plane with a knife.

[00:31:31] Brett: [00:31:31] Yeah, no, I made that assumption. I got this great thing called the the Gerber artifact. And there’s two versions of it. One of it has a number 10 X-Acto blade that folds out of it and the other one does not have any blades. So I always assumed that if I wanted to travel with this thing, I had to get the one without the Exacto blade.

[00:31:52] But then I came to learn that a number 10 Exacto blade is totally okay. At least it was at the time that I looked it up.

[00:32:00] [00:32:00] Aaron: [00:32:00] That’s amazing. I’ve spent the last, you know, 14 months not traveling. I just, I don’t want to, it’s not a cheap knife and I don’t want to have it taken away. But I’ll have to look into that because I like to, I like having something with me to open things.

[00:32:15] Brett: [00:32:15] Let’s clarify for our listeners that not a cheap knife is over $400. Yeah. That’s fancy. You’ve really made it.

[00:32:28] Aaron: [00:32:28] I blew every penny I earned on that knife.

[00:32:31] Brett: [00:32:31] Saved up for years.

[00:32:33] Aaron: [00:32:33] That’s right. Um, Yeah, number two. I will tell you, I have just wrapped up. I wish there was a ton more of it. Like a Nintendo switch game called immortals, Phoenix rising. Have you heard of it?

[00:32:44] Brett: [00:32:44] No, I’m not a

[00:32:46] Aaron: [00:32:46] is. Okay. I would say it is, it feels a lot like Zelda breath of the wild.

[00:32:51] It’s an open world, you know, cartoon character that runs around in battles, creatures with weapons. I really love it’s simple system for, [00:33:00] you’re not collecting like a thousand different swords and then having to upgrade each one, you just upgrade your sword ability and no matter what sword do you use.

[00:33:08] It has that power it’s really it’s been a really fun game. It’s all Greek mythology based. So I had a lot of fun with that and it’s got some comical writing to it. It’s been a really fun game and I wish there was more.

[00:33:18] Brett: [00:33:18] Now is having a team, is that opened up enough time? Was there a period in the growth of lore where you would never have had time to play games?

[00:33:29] Aaron: [00:33:29] Yeah. Yeah. And then I found that other people could do research better than me. They took on a, you know, 40 hour per episode burden and made the show better. And I was able to, for the most part, I spend my spare time focusing on things like other shows and meetings and more meetings, but every now and then I get to play a video game.

[00:33:50] It’s nice.

[00:33:51] Brett: [00:33:51] Yeah, I I have time to play games and somehow I don’t I play. I like threes on my phone.

[00:33:58] Aaron: [00:33:58] I still have threes.

[00:34:00] [00:34:00] Brett: [00:34:00] I saw Christina and overtired. We w for us, it’s a fidget toy. Almost. We just almost absentmindedly play threes while we do other things.

[00:34:08] Aaron: [00:34:08] Yeah.

[00:34:09] Brett: [00:34:09] But but as far as more involved games with storylines and even levels, I just I lose interest very quickly.

[00:34:18]Aaron: [00:34:18] If you want a game that we can consider this number three, or we can consider this a tangent to number two, but you want a game that you can just kill time with on your iPad or your iPhone, although it’s small on the iPhone. It’s a game called poly Topia.

[00:34:29]Brett: [00:34:29] Taking a note. Tell me about it.

[00:34:31] Aaron: [00:34:31] It is polygon based whatever that tilted 3d world view, but it’s essentially. Like civilization, like you build a city and then you, that city can create a soldier and then you send them out to, to take over a campsite that nobody else has gotten to yet, or defeat your enemy and take their city from them.

[00:34:49]But on a super high level, it’s not don’t think like civilization where you have to dig down and do all these crazy things. It’s a very basic game and I can play a game in half an hour. And [00:35:00] it’s great. My wife and I were watching TV or killing time during the meeting, you know, that kind of thing.

[00:35:04] Brett: [00:35:04] my girlfriend is a card player and has multiple times tried to get me into settlers of Catan. And even that I don’t there’s something wrong with me. I talk to so many people who talks about like games enriching their lives in so many different ways. And I had I’ve had multiple episodes that were with people specifically related to the video game industry to try to get them to explain to me how to get into gaming so that I can try to achieve this level of satisfaction that other people seem to have.

[00:35:41] We’ll leave it at that though. I just doesn’t matter enough to me to really put in the effort, for

[00:35:48] Aaron: [00:35:48] and that’s fine.

[00:35:49] Brett: [00:35:49] like coding, I think I get the same satisfaction from coding and and you know, writing complex, regular expressions that other people get from playing video games. I think it has [00:36:00] this, I think it triggers the same reactions in my brain for me.

[00:36:03]Aaron: [00:36:03] Yeah. That’s and that’s the thing I, I don’t really have a lot of. Quote hobbies outside of work because I took a hobby and I turned it into my job and I, it doesn’t, I’ve heard people say that means you have to find a new hobby. And I don’t think that’s true. I think that I just turned my hobby into a job and I now get to do the thing that I love every day and I still work my ass off, but it’s doing something for myself that I love and it works out for me.

[00:36:27] So if coding is what trips, the endorphins for you like that, you just lean into that man.

[00:36:35] Brett: [00:36:35] Like my bills are paid month to month by selling apps. And, you know, and that involves a lot of like customer support and other kind of tangential things. But I really did manage if there’s a measure of success for an independent developer, that basically says you’re doing what you love and you’re paying your bills.

[00:36:55] Then by that measure, I succeeded and I’ve never felt like a [00:37:00] failure. I just also don’t have a retirement fund. And that’s a goal right now. I’m 42. It’s time to start preparing for retirement.

[00:37:10]Aaron: [00:37:10] Yeah, I hear ya. I remember being in design and I did not earn a lot and I worried yeah, I can pay the bills. I can hit my goals. Barely but what does 65 look like for me? It was rough for a long time. That’s awesome to hear that’s working out for you like that.

[00:37:24]Brett: [00:37:24] I just took a job with Oracle. I’m going to be, I had a couple of guests over the last year that talked about this the idea of developer advocate, developer relations, like the people who basically they’re almost hype men for people for. Like a big tech company and interface with the developers who use the company’s products.

[00:37:50] And I immediately said that would be. That’s like exactly what I’m qualified to do. And then I did an interview with a puppet. My friend Victor has [00:38:00] a, he’s starting a little video podcast where puppets interview real people. And I was interviewed by a puppet. And as a result of that interview, indirectly, I suddenly had a job offer from a big tech company to do exactly.

[00:38:19] What I had envisioned. So things did fall into place. It’s yeah. Anyway, we’re going to call poly Topia side pick and see if you can come up with a number three.

[00:38:32] Aaron: [00:38:32] number three. I went through a phase for a couple of months where I wore one of those Oura rings. Have you seen those, it’s like, o U R a, but it’s a Bluetooth enabled ring that you wear and it tracks your heart rate.

[00:38:47]It’s 90% made for sleep tracking to know how well you’re sleeping. And if you tag your activities and your diet and things like that, you can actually find ways to sleep better. Cause that’s my, if I have one problem that I [00:39:00] want to fix, it’s I just don’t always sleep the best. And. I would like to fix that.

[00:39:05] Brett: [00:39:05] Yeah, this is, I did not know these things existed, so I’m browsing a webpage right now. How much do those cost?

[00:39:12]Aaron: [00:39:12] I th I want to say it was like 300 bucks. But there’s no ongoing services, you know, it’s just, you buy it and it’s yours. So I was cool with that.

[00:39:20] Brett: [00:39:20] Do you have an Apple watch?

[00:39:22] Aaron: [00:39:22] I do, I wear it for my mornings, so it’s on my wrist while I write and then I go for a run. Which is on a treadmill because I live in, sorry.

[00:39:31] I live in new England and it’s it’s crappy most of the time out there. So I run on a treadmill and then after I’ve showered and changed, I switched over to a mechanical watch.

[00:39:42] Brett: [00:39:42] I wear mine mostly for the purpose of sleep tracking. So if I charge

[00:39:48] Aaron: [00:39:48] have you found that? Is it good at that for you? I’ve gotten frustrated with wearing a ring on that finger because I basically mirror my. Yeah, like wedding ring on my left hand. And so the same ring finger on my right hand. I’m wearing that and [00:40:00] it just bothered me. It got in the way.

[00:40:01]I’d love to use the watch for that.

[00:40:03] Brett: [00:40:03] I have. So I don’t have one of the latest models that actually has like the blood oxygen sensors and everything. The built-in Apple tools do not do. A great job. There is an app called I think it’s better sleep or it’s an, I’ll find it though. I’ll put a link in the show notes, even if I can’t remember the name of it right now, but it does an amazing job of watching for movement and a pulse rate.

[00:40:32] And being able to determine based on different thresholds when you are in deep sleep, when you’re in light sleep and when you are awake and can give you a graph in the morning showing like a full year, last eight hours how much of it was actual deep sleep and how much of it was fitful and, you know, give you actual statistics in the morning, which the default Apple tools do not do a great job of.

[00:41:00] [00:41:00] Aaron: [00:41:00] No, they don’t. Do you have to launch the app on your watch before you go to sleep?

[00:41:05] Brett: [00:41:05] Nope. It’s the app actually runs on your phone and it just pulls all of the data that the watch is collecting anyway. So you don’t have to think about it at all.

[00:41:16] Aaron: [00:41:16] That’s good. All right. I’ll wait for your show notes and then I’ll I’ll look into it.

[00:41:20] Brett: [00:41:20] Yeah. Let me I should’ve just while I was talking, I should have been doing this, but it’s right here on my phone. It is called it’s called auto sleep.

[00:41:29] Aaron: [00:41:29] Okay.

[00:41:30] Brett: [00:41:30] Yeah. Highly recommend

[00:41:31] Aaron: [00:41:31] will check it out. Yeah. I’ll check that

[00:41:34] Brett: [00:41:34] All right. People shouldn’t have any problem finding you on the internet.

[00:41:39] Aaron: [00:41:39] Don’t tell them where I’m at now. I am kidding.

[00:41:41] Brett: [00:41:41] We’ve got Aaron mankey.com anywhere else you want to mention.

[00:41:44]Aaron: [00:41:44] You know, grimandmild.com, M a N D not an ampersand. Is the production site and there’s links to all the shows and descriptions and all that stuff there. And I’m on all the social stuff as a M A H N K E. Yeah, most of the [00:42:00] social stuff I’m on Instagram and Twitter and clubhouse. Now I’ve been playing around with that.

[00:42:05]Brett: [00:42:05] I don’t even know what clubhouse is.

[00:42:09]Aaron: [00:42:09] This is the best way I can explain it. Have you’ve been to a conference before, right? Where you go and like WWDC, right? You go and it takes place over the course of a day or two days or three days, but there’s a schedule and you can go to this room at this time and you can hear somebody talk about.

[00:42:23]You know, this type of developing, and then you can go across the hall after that one’s done. And you can catch somebody talking about app sales. Clubhouse is an audio only version in an app form of that. You open it up and at any given moment, there are sessions going on around the world with topics listed.

[00:42:38]You can tell the app what you’re interested in. So it only suggests sessions to you that. Fit your needs or your interests. And then you you just tap on the room and you go in and you listen, you it’s like listening to talk radio, but it’s a limited run, like an hour long session that somebody has set up.

[00:42:55] A lot of people do Q and a I’ve gone in, and I’ve done some Q and a before about, you know, [00:43:00] production stuff and storytelling and whatnot. It’s interesting. It’s interesting. Yeah.

[00:43:04] Brett: [00:43:04] Random aside last year at max stock which is a grassroots attempt to fill the void that Mac world left when it closed. They did, it was virtual and they had this cool app where you would log in with your web browser, put on a pair of headphones and it would give you like a.N audio space and the closer you moved your avatar to other people, the louder their voices would get. And you could like huddle with people and have private conversations while it’d be like, you’re in a room with groups of people talking, and you could hear like the murmur around you. And as you walked closer to things, you would get.

[00:43:44]You would pick up more of the conversation and then you could have like speakers in a room and you could go into the room and hear the speaker. And it was really cool. I think there’s a, I think there’s a real space for that. Especially pandemic era.

[00:44:00] [00:43:59] Aaron: [00:43:59] Absolutely. Yeah. It does sound in a lot of ways, like a clubhouse. So maybe it’s worth checking that out. I, it might be invite only right now, but I’m sure somebody in your network has has already been on there.

[00:44:12] Brett: [00:44:12] Yeah, I’m sure I can find something. All right. Thanks for taking the time today. I know you’re a busy guy.

[00:44:18] Aaron: [00:44:18] Happy to. This was fun.

[00:44:19] Brett: [00:44:19] Is it driving you nuts that I’m typing on a mechanical keyboard while podcasting.

[00:44:24] Aaron: [00:44:24] That So That’s a thing that I don’t get that. Are you talking about, like the build your own replace, the keys. Like the popular thing. The kids are all doing these days. I don’t get that. I don’t get that hobby.

[00:44:35] Brett: [00:44:35] Thinking more about the noise as a professional poest, or it’s got a bug, you and people, it just, their mic while they’re talking or type on keyboards.

[00:44:43] Aaron: [00:44:43] you know, Hey look, it’s your podcast. You put out whatever you want. I My, my setup in my booth is an old Mac book. That’s running like old garage band, like five, 6.0 or something. Cause I like the way it looks and acts better. I added on the new one cause it can, anyone can open the old ones. In the booth I use an iPad, so it’s [00:45:00] all silence, I just that’s where my script is. And I just scroll through silently on the iPad. All my scripts are written in pages and they sync through iCloud. iCloud D rive. So I literally like I can be typing. I finished a section for the day. I leave that open on my desktop and I pick up my iPad open it, and I get the little handoff at the bottom and I tap that and it opens a script and I walk in the booth and record it.

[00:45:22] So no typing noises.

[00:45:26] Brett: [00:45:26] All right. Thanks again. And thanks everyone for tuning in we’ll see you in a week.