Evo Terra is a podcast philosopher and professional contrarian. He is a podcast strategist at Simpler Media Production, full-service podcasting services for influencers, startups, and companies that take the guesswork out of modern podcasting. Terra is also a professional keynote speaker who speaks about the digitally changing world.
Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?
I grew up in a tiny farming community smack-dab in the middle of the Bible belt. Me, the kid who consciously gave up organized religion at the ripe age of 7! That was fun. But it made me really, really good at debate.
I was quite close to my maternal grandfather. I owe my ability to tell a good and funny story to him, as well as a love and respect for the natural world. He was a self-taught naturalist and conservationist who would regale me with tales of his post-Depression life, and I would eagerly consume them. Ok, so maybe some (most?) of them were a bit embellished (and often refuted by my grandmother and mother), but what story isn’t made better with a little embellishment? Or… a lot?
What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?
That the arrow of progress always, barring near-extinction-level events, points in the same direction. The idea that civilization will ever “go back” to the way things were at some idyllic (and falsely remembered) point in the past is a fool’s errand and will not last. It hasn’t yet!
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
As an OG podcaster, I’m constantly squashing myths about podcasting that just won’t die. Bad information on length, launch strategies, what does and doesn’t make for a good show… There’s a huge amount of misinformation out there. None of it is malicious, I think. It’s just insidious. But such is the nature of humanity and our ability to cling fast to outdated ideas. As the great poet Tim Minchin wrote “I don’t believe just because ideas are tenacious it means they’re worthy”.
Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?
The first year or so after returning from a few years living abroad, I encountered depression for the very first time. Even though I had it much, much less severe than many, it still wasn’t pretty. But counseling helped me get over the worst of it. It’s still there, and probably always will be. But I’ve good coping mechanisms now and have learned to be more accepting of who and where I am now, leaving the “shoulds” and “coulds” behind and really just doing what I want to do.
What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?
I’ve been called “lucky” by many. But in reality, I’m just good at increasing my luck surface area. I have a wide range of interests and tend to make friends with people from multiple disciplines. That means I’m exposed to a lot of ideas and new things, some of which overlap with other trends I’m noticing. While it doesn’t do me any good at picking stocks or selecting the right cryptocurrency (I invest through a financial advisor and hold no bitcoin), it does often allow me to be one of the first to ride a trend wave.
What is your morning routine?
I rarely sleep past 5:30 am, even on the weekends. When my daily podcast is in production (9 months out of the year), I’m in the studio from 6:15 am to around 10:00 am delivering that day’s show, and then dive into the work that needs to be completed that day.
What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?
I’ll give you two: Naps and a “keep the Friday sacred” attitude. The first is self-explanatory. I take a 20-30 minute mid-day nap several times a week. The latter is not quite a three-day weekend, but close. I’ll take a few advisory calls that day, but largely leave it unstructured. That gives me plenty of time to work on personal projects, brainstorm new ideas, or do what I want with my day.
What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?
I actively avoid email and try to never work from my inbox. I wish I could say I always achieve “inbox zero”, but that remains an aspiration more than a requirement. My clients have other ways to reach me if something is urgent, but that’s unusual. Overall, I’ve built my business in the “Important, But Not Urgent” quadrant.
Also, I don’t take any client meetings on Monday. That’s the day to work “on” the business—finances, prospect mining, forward-looking projects—instead of working “in” the business. Coupled with my Friday approach, that makes for a very busy Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday!
What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?
Non-fiction, The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan. It’s all about the need—now more than ever—for critical thinking and adopting an evidence-based mindset. But most of my leisure reading time is spent with fiction books. Sure, as an “escape” from whatever is going on in today’s world. But I find really great fiction can both inspire and provide valuable lessons that we can apply in the real world. I highly recommend The Culture series by Iain M. Banks. (Side note: Elon Musk gets the crazy names for his drone ships from those books.)
Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?
Not quotes, per se. Sadly, my brain is filled with movie quotes and song lyrics, so there’s not a lot of room for literary quips. But I put into practice the lessons learned from the books I read all the time.