Michael Lynn

20 results

4 Reasons Why Your Tech Company Should Launch a Podcast

Podcasts, originally known as audioblogs, are a relatively new content format. The first podcast didn’t launch until some time around 2004, so it makes sense that many organizations have not, historically, considered podcasting to be a top priority. Now there are podcasts centered around almost any topic. From true crime to comedy, financial and pop culture, podcasts are quickly becoming one of the most popular mediums for learning and entertainment consumption, with 177 million listeners in 2022 . As the producer of the MongoDB podcast , I spend a majority of my time thinking about what folks in the database world want to know more about. I have had the privilege of meeting some incredible people in the tech community and have witnessed the impact a podcast can have. There are many reasons why your tech company should consider developing a podcast; let’s look at my top four. Your podcast audience already exist As a tech organization, you likely already know who you want to reach. Your audience is waiting for you to deliver more content, more learning and storytelling experiences. If you are aiming to reach developers or technical leaders and thinkers, podcasting is an ideal way to achieve this goal. LinkedIn research shows that tech professionals engage with content that helps their skill development, that is relevant to their industry, and they enjoy hearing from influencers. Podcasts meet all three of these preferences. Tech podcasts revolve around tech-based stories or news, are relevant to others in the field, and many podcast episodes include a guest speaker to inform and influence listeners. Another key driver of podcast success is its more relaxed and natural tone. Podcasts are conversational, and 8 out of 10 tech professionals say they interact more with quality information that is not “overloaded with jargon”. Podcasts help you reach your communities and increase reach easily and effectively. Your audience is out there waiting for your expert thoughts to hit their airwaves. Podcasts are flexible One perk of a podcast is in its convenience and its flexibility. Podcasts meet people where they are–literally, anywhere they are. Listeners have a lot of flexibility with podcasting. They can listen as they work, exercise, or commute. They can start, stop, pause, and continue at the touch of a button. Podcasts give you the ability to transform existing, well-performing content into a new format. People learn differently, and 30% of people are more auditory learners. Repurposing written content into a podcast format gives you the ability to reach new members of your audience and allows for expansion on the topic that may not already exist in the written format. Your organization is ripe with experts, partners, customers, stories, and content in other formats. Add sound to those ideas with a podcast. Conversely, recording a podcast on video provides both an audio-only and a video asset. Further, transcripts from the episode can be reworked into a blog or infographic on the same topic. And using the podcast recording as a subject-matter expert interview allows you to write additional content around the same topics of conversation within the episode. Moreover, listening to podcasts doesn’t feel like a chore or work. Podcasts blur the line between learning (in this case, about technology and your product or service) and entertainment, making listeners less resistant to your message. Podcasts let your community connect with industry leaders Ideally, you want your organization and its technical experts to be vocal, to be constantly sharing their opinions, thoughts, and discoveries. Podcasts are a great way to amplify your subject-matter expert voices and position your organization as a go-to place for learning and guidance. But it’s not just your own in-house experts that you can showcase; podcasts are also a platform to connect with other industry leaders and bring more diverse perspectives to the show. Podcasts can also help leaders who are more comfortable as speakers than writers; they can take part in the development of content easily and with little preparation. Your organization likely has a treasure trove of compelling stories and ideas, all living within the minds of your leaders. Hearing leaders and industry thinkers on your organization’s podcast helps to maximize a culture of excellence, inspiring others also to take part or suggest new topics or guests. Podcasting helps grow your community Podcast audiences are some of the most engaged audiences today. Research has found that 80% of listeners finish the entire episode each time and listen to an average of 7 shows per week . Podcasts have also been found to create more loyalty, making them 20% more likely to follow your organization on social media. This level of engagement leads to a community built around common interests and ideas, even to the point of mobilizing audiences. For example, Manoush Zomorodi , host of WNYC podcast Note to Self , encouraged her listeners to join a challenge to detach themselves from technology and focus on creative projects. More than 20,000 listeners engaged in the challenge . When people with common ground come together, they are more likely to engage, react, and even donate to keep that community alive. Marc Maron , host of the WTF podcast , says that 10% of his audience pays up to $8.99 monthly to support the podcast. Over the years, I’ve found that community engagement comes from responsiveness and interaction across several channels. I regularly engage with listeners to encourage feedback and respond to comments on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, in our community forums, and even at live events.This sense of community deepens the appreciation I have—and that I hope my listeners have—in our jobs and the technology industry overall. Want to be a guest on The MongoDB Podcast? I will be live at AWS re:Invent 2022 in Las Vegas. Reach out to me if you have a great story idea and would like to take part in an in-person recording. Swing by the MongoDB booth, or, be sure to see me delivering the keynote demonstration on day one of the event! If you haven’t tuned into The MongoDB Podcast yet, you can subscribe on Apple Podcasts , Spotify , or wherever you find your podcasts.

September 28, 2022

Behind the Scenes of the MongoDB Podcast

If you're like me, podcasts have become an important part of your news and information diet. I listen to approximately eight to 10 podcasts weekly and frankly, it's where I tend to get much of my developer-related information. This is precisely why, when the idea of creating a MongoDB-focused podcast was raised, I immediately volunteered. In this article, I'll share details about this podcast such as our tools, equipment, and our process for recording, producing, and publishing. In sharing, it's my hope that you'll be inspired to create something, listen to our show, or even become a guest and share your experience with our growing audience. To begin, I'd like to answer some of the basic questions: Who, Why, and What. Who is responsible for producing and publishing the podcast? Why do we do what we do? What are the tools and the processes we use to produce the podcast? As Simon Sinek suggests, let's start with Why. Why (produce this podcast?) Podcasting is a relatively new but swiftly growing medium. Listeners have flocked to podcasts in search of fresh, relevant content about subjects that change so rapidly that conventional media channels can't keep up. The MongoDB Podcast started as an experiment. It was a best-efforts project that we tried to keep under the wire while we experimented with formats, guests, and show lengths. Once we started to incorporate changes in line with listenership, the increases in the number of listeners and positive comments frankly took us by surprise. In the first three months, we went from zero listeners to approximately 2,500 unique listeners per month. Still fairly meager in comparison to some of the larger, more established podcasts but obviously, we all have to start somewhere. What we proved with our early experimentation was that there is a demand for fresh, engaging content about software, data, and things related to MongoDB. So long as people continue to listen, we'll continue sourcing interesting topics for conversation and producing more episodes. Who (produces this podcast?) The podcast team is small. There are only two of us working on the show at the time of this writing. In addition to the folks mentioned below, we're supported by the MongoDB Design team, the Web team, our Tech Support team, and countless other dedicated MongoDB employees always ready to pitch in on an episode, sharing their expertise and experience. Nic Raboy Nic is a Developer Advocate here at MongoDB. His experience is surprising given his age. I think the reason for this is that he's constantly busy working on one project or another. Nic specializes in JavaScript, Go, and recently published a series on Game Development with Unity and MongoDB. When he's not working on the podcast, you can find him on the MongoDB twitch stream at https://twitch.tv/mongodb . Michael Lynn That's me ! I'm a software engineer, and a developer advocate at MongoDB. In previous roles, I've been in pre-sales, and have led teams of engineers and architects at a Fortune 50 financial firm. When I'm not planning, recording, or editing a podcast episode, you'll likely find me working on a software project, or at the gym, or possibly running outdoors. What (tools and processes do we use?) There are several categories of tools that a podcaster will need in order to create and publish. Here is a list of the hardware I use. This is not intended to be a recommendation and if you intend to make a purchase, please do the research to find out if these items will work for your specific set-up. Additionally, I welcome your feedback and questions. Here's what Mike's setup looks like Hardware Here's a list of the equipment I use. These items are simply what we use for this podcast. Your mileage may vary and I welcome comments and feedback. Visit the Community Forums . Computers Lenovo Legion T730-28ICO - Core i9 9900K 3.6 GHz - 32 GB - SSD 1 TB (Windows 10) (Note: this computer has some serious power. Probably more than is needed to simply record a podcast. I also use this for audio, video processing and for streaming.) MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2019) 2.3 GHz 8-Core Intel Core i9, 32 GB 2400 MHz DDR4 Microphone Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ Cardioid Condenser USB Microphone This provides great sound quality. Headphones Wireless Option: Bose SoundLink around-ear wireless headphones II Wired Option: Audio-Technica ATH-M20x Professional Studio Monitor Headphones Camera (for video podcasts and streams) Low Budget: If you're using a laptop with a camera, that will probably suffice. Most of our podcast episodes are audio-only. Mid-range: Logitech c922x High End: Sony A6300 DSLR - For live-streams, this camera Elgato Cam Link 4k - The Cam Link enables you to plug any Digital Video device into your computer's USB port. This enables me to use my DSLR as a webcam. Lighting Elgato Keylight Air - Nothing like good lighting to enhance a live-stream. We don't publish video for all of our podcast episodes but for the ones that we do, lighting helps. The Elgato Keylight Air is really powerful, bright, and can be controlled from your computer. Miscellaneous Desk Bell - Immensely helpful for recording. Don't like the way a thread is progressing? Mess up a word? No worries... just hit the bell. This produces a visually recognizable signature on the audio so you can find it and remove the unwanted audio. Software Audio recording/editing Audacity - This is open source and free and provides all the necessary capabilities to enable you to edit and refine your audio. To use Audacity, you simply download the version for your OS platform, install it, and configure your devices. There are some great tutorials on YouTube that helped me. Zencastr - This is a browser-based software-as-a-service offering that enables you to share a link with your guests and record them individually. While you're recording, the audio is stored locally on the guests' computer. When you complete a recording, it's uploaded to your Zencastr account where you can download the tracks individually and edit them using Audacity. Another option for editing is Garage Band. Guest booking Calendly - We use Calendly to schedule guest meetings. I'll talk about this more in the Process section. Calendly connects to your calendar and enables guests to schedule time on your calendar that's free, and convenient for them. This removes a lot of the friction and back-and-forth that can occur when scheduling. Transcription Rev - Each podcast episode we record becomes its own article on our Developer Hub . Transcribing the episodes helps accomplish several goals. First, it enables users to get the content when they're unable to listen to the podcast. Second, it enables us to increase our volume of content. Our articles are indexed in search engines, and having the content of our discussions in article form helps improve the relevancy of our content. Branding and images Outsource MongoDB Design Team - Fortunately, we have an amazing design team. Shout-out to the MongoDB Design team! They are responsible for all of the graphics associated with the podcast. However, if you don't have a design team, you do have several options. My favorite image editing tool is Adobe Photoshop. This can be expensive, however, so here are some free options. Fiverr - If you don't have a design team, consider using a freelancing service like Fiverr. I used this service for our podcast intro/outro music. Open Source Options for Image Editing software Krita - Free and open source, Krita has been around since approximately 1998. Gimp - Free and open source image editing. Episode planning and collaboration Google Docs - Google Docs enables us to create an episode agenda document and collaboratively build out our ideas. I will typically create a document, fill out the title, the guest, and a short statement about the goals of the episode and then invite my colleagues to help fill out the details and the topics we'll cover. Podcast hosting Libsyn - Once you've recorded your episodes, you'll need to get them out on the internet where people can find them. A podcast hosting services does a couple things. First, it provides storage for the actual media files. Second, most hosting services provide the ability to publish your podcast to multiple podcast networks such as Apple, Spotify, Google, etc. You could skip this step and go directly to a podcast network - but each network has a slightly different set of requirements and it's much simpler to use a hosting services that provides an RSS feed. Libsyn is reasonably priced and has a decent set of features over and above those I just mentioned. One in particular is analytics and statistics. You'll want to watch the number of listeners as you begin your experimentation and Libsyn provides a decent set of stats. Process A lot of the work that went into creating this podcast was around establishing an efficient process. The following is a list of the steps we take once we've identified a guest, or the idea for an episode. There's another process for forming the concept for your podcast, but we'll leave that for another article. Here's an overview of the process. Weekly content meeting We meet on a weekly basis to discuss the episode ideas and update the team on where we're at with each episode. This meeting also provides a great opportunity to brainstorm on new episode ideas. Action: Create a running weekly content meeting document and share this with your team, assuming you're not alone. Episode lifecycle Step 1: Brainstorm - Discuss your episode ideas with your team, or someone that can help you vet them. The outcome of this is a list of episode ideas. Schedule a weekly meeting, even if it's just you, to brainstorm on content and episode ideas. For each viable idea, continue with the remaining steps in the process. Step 2: Episode Agenda Formation - For each episode idea that successfully exits your brainstorm, create an episode agenda document. I've created a template that you can use , assuming you're working on an interview-style podcast. Copy the template , customize it for each episode including the guest name, title, etc. Step 3: Collaborate - Once you've got an agenda created, share that with your team. Have them collaborate on ideas for the show. Collaborate with your team, and then your guest to ensure that the questions and topics are compelling, relevant, and include topics your guest will want to cover. Step 4: Schedule Guests - Now that your idea is baked, you should schedule your guests for meeting number one of two. Scheduling involves sharing each of the participants' availability and choosing a date that works for everyone. This process has been greatly simplified through the use of Calendly . Calendly connects to your calendar, enables you to specify windows of availability for you and the team, and then lets the guest pick a time that's convenient for them. Step 5: Guest Meetings One - During this first meeting (typically 30 min), you'll want to accomplish four (4) goals. Logistics - First, explain the logistics of your podcast. Let them know how you'll record and what they'll need to do in order to participate. Agenda - Share the agenda doc with them and encourage them to review, comment, and even edit where they see fit. This will enable them to feel in control of the discussion. Equipment - Discuss equipment with the guests. To ensure acceptable audio, it's always best for guests to use a headset and a proper microphone. Sometimes this is just not possible but at least encourage them to use earphones to separate the speaker audio from their input. Schedule Recording - Before you end the first meeting, make sure you have scheduled the actual recording. Send a calendar item to the guests to ensure that they've got it on their diary. Ensure that you book enough time before the actual recording to do a tech-check and ensure proper audio levels. Tip: Set and share the goals of your meeting at the start, and then again at the end of the meeting to confirm you're accomplishing what you set out to achieve. Step 6: Guest Meeting Two - Recording the podcast episode. Sound Check - Assuming you've done your job in meeting one, when the time comes to record the episode, your guests will arrive ready to record. Check the recording levels. If you're using Zencastr, go ahead and hit record and start chatting with the guests for a few minutes. Stop the recording and check the levels. Just before you record - Remind the guest about the bell. Let them know this is not a scripted interview - it's a chat... a conversation. Set them at ease. Record - I find it helpful to use web conference in addition to Zencastr. Zencastr is audio-only. This means that you lose a good deal of the data available during a conversation. We use Zoom for this but there are many options. Closing - Assuming you've loosely stuck to the agenda and you've come to a natural and/or timely conclusion of the interview, bring the episode to a close by asking the guest to share anything else they want the audience to know. Ask them to share their contact deals in case listeners want to follow up and ask them for any additional plugs. Step 7: Podcast Production and Audio Processing Download the individual tracks from Zencastr - Use Audacity or some similar audio editing tool to stitch them together. Edit and Refine Audio - Listen to the tracks and keep your ears peeled for "ums," "ahs," breaths, pauses, gonks/noises, and anything you don't want in your finished episode audio. Step 8: Apply Intro/Outro Before closing out Audacity, prepend your audio intro to the episode. Your intro can be something you custom-create for each episode - or you can have a pre-recorded intro with music. We do both. After listening to the episode, we create some bullet points, highlights that were brought up during the podcast. I talk those out in a custom intro for each episode and place that right before our pre-recorded music intro. Step 9: Guest Follow-up Stay in touch with the guest and give them the option of getting access to the recording before you publish it. Step 10: Publish Episode Publishing the episodes is done with Libsyn. After the episode has been edited, upload the finished audio to Libsyn and apply the necessary settings to ensure that it's published to your various downstream channels, such as the various podcast networks and to social media. Frequently Asked Questions Here are just a few questions I get frequently. If you have more, please visit the Community Forums thread to start a discussion or reach out to me via Email . How do you source your guests? A: Our guests come from a variety of sources. First, you'll notice we have a number of guests who are employees of MongoDB. Who better to talk about MongoDB, right? Rebecca, Nic, and I meet regularly to discuss potential guests and topics. We each go through our own personal networks to reach out to folks that we think will have interesting things to discuss. Once we land on a topic, we begin to search our personal networks for individuals that can speak authoritatively on that subject. Many times, this is someone internal - but this is not a rule. Q: How do you get your podcast published on [Apple, Google, Spotify, etc.]? A: Libsyn.com does this automatically. Once you complete your Libsyn configuration, you will have an RSS feed for the episodes you publish. You'll use this feed URL to create your Apple Podcast submission. Same goes for nearly every other podcast network. The magic is in the RSS feed. Q: How do I make my own podcast? A: In short, just do it. Get a Libsyn or other podcast hosting service account. Create your content, upload it, and you're in business. I welcome questions and would love to help you get started. Visit the Community Forums thread to start a discussion or reach out to me via Email . Q: What does it cost to publish your podcast? A: We maintain a very small budget. The actual process of publishing and hosting costs less than $100 USD per month. The real cost is in the time we spend creating and editing the episodes. The real answer is that your mileage may vary. You can get started for very little, and some hosting services even have a free tier. The best advice I can give is to shop around, start small, but just start. The best way to learn is by doing. Your costs will quickly start to add up when you add services such as transcription, enhanced reporting, analytics, etc. Summary Podcasts are a great way to learn and stay current. Becoming a guest on a podcast can also be a great way to help others and grow your own personal brand. If, after reading this, you are inspired to create something, or you want to talk about becoming a guest on the show, please don't hesitate to reach out! If you or someone you know is a MongoDB user that would like to share their story with the world, complete this nomination form and we'll get back to you about scheduling a discussion and possibly appearing on the podcast. Please check out the latest episodes of the MongoDB Podcast on Apple , Spotify , Google , iHeart , or any one of the many podcast networks. If you like what you hear, I would love to hear about it in a review. Reviews are an essential way that podcasts grow. When you share your thoughts, others will be inspired to listen. Reviews also help a podcast to improve reach - those podcasts with more reviews are ranked above those with fewer and therefore, rating will help us boost our reach. Thank you!

December 3, 2020

2019 William Zola Award Nominations

Community is core to the success of MongoDB and the people that use it. This year is the fifth year we've held the William Zola Award for Community to honor those whose contributions to support have made a significant difference to people around the world. The William Zola Award for Community Excellence was created in 2014 to honor those whose support contributions make a significant difference to people around the globe. One of our strongest Community Support advocates was William Zola, who passed away unexpectedly in that year. William, Lead Technical Services Engineer at MongoDB, had a passion for creating user success and helped thousands of users with support problems, much of it on his own time. William was so effective at meeting users in their time of distress that people often asked for him by name on the MongoDB User Forum. Most engineers at MongoDB went through his customer skills training to learn how to create an ideal user experience while maintaining technical integrity. William taught us the following. How the user feels is every bit as important as solving their technical problem. We should work to solve the problem and not just close a case or ticket. Every user interaction should drive the case one step closer to resolution. It’s all about the user. Over time, William’s advice and philosophy towards user success came to permeate MongoDB’s entire organization and community. The Award This year at MongoDB World we will announce the 2019 winner of “The Zola.” We will award an individual who has offered exceptional support to our community in line with William’s philosophy. The winner of the Zola will receive a complimentary hotel stay while at MongoDB World along with a $1,000 Amazon Gift Card. Today we open nominations and begin the search for this year's winner of the Zola. MongoDB users who support others on StackOverflow, MongoDB Google Groups, at a MongoDB User Group, or in person through ad-hoc or structured mentoring are all qualified to receive the award. Nominations will be accepted until April 30th, 2019 through this form , so please send in names of people who have positively impacted your experience with MongoDB. Individuals will be judged on the impact of their work and their demonstration of William’s values. William’s extraordinary contributions are remembered in users like you who pass along your knowledge of MongoDB and do it with gusto. Even if you do not qualify for the Zola now, there is always an opportunity for you to contribute to the MongoDB ecosystem by sharing your ideas and experience on StackOverflow , the MongoDB User Forum and in your local communities . Tell us who you think should receive this year's “Zola”. Submit your nominations today Prizes $1,000 Amazon Gift Certificate Ticket to MongoDB World 2019 Hotel stay during MongoDB World How Winners Will Be Selected MongoDB will pick the winning applicant by May 8th and will notify the winner via email. The winners will be chosen based on a combination of user votes and contributions made to the community. For more information see the Zola Award Terms and Service .

March 25, 2019

Connecting MongoDB Stitch to Google Places

One of the services that make available a wealth of data via API, is Google Places . Imagine we want to provide users of our application with information about a business with whom we partner. Insurance companies do this with providers of accommodations, transportation, and healthcare. We don’t want to maintain this information, or own it - rather, we’d prefer to leverage a service that provides this information about these service providers. Google Places is just such a service provider. For this application, we’ll use the following Stitch components to integrate MongoDB with Google Places. Stitch Functions Stitch functions are written in JavaScript ES6 and can be called from our SDKs, Triggers, or Webhooks and are great for coordinating data access or doing light processing alongside a query or insert. Communicating with data provider services such as Google Places is as simple as leveraging an HTTP service within a serverless stitch function: const http = context.services.get("GooglePlaces"); return http .get({url: GooglePlacesSearchURL}) .then(resp=>{ //The response body is encoded as raw BSON.Binary. Parse it to JSON. var search_result = EJSON.parse(resp.body.text()); Stitch’s Functions also let you reference context – such as services, variables, or user information – in order to make it easier to leverage services and information across your entire application. Stitch also provides several third-party services including AWS, Twilio, and Github. Stitch Services The HTTP service that we create here will also have an incoming webhook, meaning that it can make outgoing HTTP requests within Stitch Functions, but also handle incoming HTTP services. Stitch Trigger Stitch Triggers enable reactivity to inserts, updates, deletes, and replaces that occur in the database. In our case, an insert will trigger execution of a function. Figure 1. Trigger Configuration Building Your Application Let’s take a look at how all the pieces of this application fit together – Figure 2. Stitch Architectural Diagram In step 1, an application accepts input either from a user or as a result of some action the user performed (using geofencing, for example.) The input, in our case, will be the name of a business. The application will insert a document with the name of the business into MongoDB. The firing of the trigger is automatic because we configured it to watch for inserts or updates to our database. The trigger executes a custom function called getGooglePlaceInfo then captures and forwards the entire inserted document. Next, in step 4, the function we created invokes the HTTP Webhook we created. The webhook conducts the conversation between Google Places and Stitch. In step 5, Google Places will respond with a JSON document containing the requested information. The function will catch this JSON information and update the MongoDB document. It is worth saying that the function can also manipulate the data before inserting it. Allowing it meet all your project requirements (format, types, calculations). As an example, the function may create a new GeoJSON object from the Google coordinates. All of this is done in step 6. In Conclusion We’ve taken a very brief look at how leveraging MongoDB Atlas, Stitch, and Triggers in conjunction with a data API service such as Google Places transforms applications into intelligent apps users will truly love to use. Because we’re adding data without having to bother the user, the application becomes much more usable, much more valuable. MongoDB Stitch and Triggers give your application the ability to react to changes in the database. Then leverage integration with external services to fetch in-context data to enrich your applications’ data further. This improves both usability and value to the user. Without MongoDB Stitch, a developer would have had to contend with building an application server, dealing with management, availability, scalability, and backup and restoration of the data. Oh, and did we mention that Stitch provides other benefits as well? It leverages Atlas security, adds third-party authentication and granular, field-level access controls to MongoDB data. This gives the ability for users to retrieve data anywhere. Without developers having to create REST APIs from scratch, secure and maintain them? The content described in this blog article is publically available and can be found here: https://github.com/julienmongodb/mongodb-googleplaces

October 9, 2018