A Productivity Podcast Revisited

Today is the Canadian National Day of Podcasting, so in recognition of that I’ve gone and done something with today’s post that was inspired by something that fellow 70Decibels host Stephen Hackett did over at his blog: I’m presenting the entire history of my retired solo podcast ProductiVardy. Below you’ll find all of the episodes that contained interviews, complete with show notes.
What was ProductiVardy?

ProductiVardy was a podcast that explored the productivity realm, lifehacking and much more. In addition, it offered regular segments that went beyond interviewing those that are known in productivity circles, such as tips, tricks, product reviews and the occasional, unexpected audible treat for listeners. Put all of that together and ProductiVardy truly was the “productivity podcast with personality”.

Here you go…enjoy.

Episode 1: New Things, Old Habits & Tom Merritt

The first episode of ProductiVardy features some gratitude, the first of what will be a slew of segments, and an interview with Tom Merritt, host of TWiT’s Tech News Today (among a slew of other podcasts). A premiere episode of a podcast is rare, as is the ability to use the word “slew” more than once in a paragraph. I’m glad I got to do both this week…and all in 22 minutes.

What happened then

  • I offered thanks to my wife for backing me up all these years. More thanks went to Alex Blackie at  X96 Design for the amazing work done on the PV website — and on the theme song. Same goes for Aaron Mahnke at Wet Frog Studios for the excellent branding. Oh, and he writes books that you should buy. And I thanked you, the audience for coming along for the ride.
  • The very first segment (bound to be a trivia question for years to come) was “Hey, what are you doing?”, during which I discuss new things and old habits, as well as give Leo a mention. Then I ask for your take…and I’m hoping you’ll offer it below in the comments.
  • I spoke with Tom Merritt about workflow, his podcasting routine, what stuff he uses to stay on top of things and a lot more — including a mention of his brief stint at a pizza joint employee. We don’t talk about hockey, despite my best efforts. After all, I’m Canadian and he’s a Blues fan.


Episode 2: Decisions, Decisions & Harley Finkelstein

The second episode of ProductiVardy involved some decision-making on a wide variety of fronts, as well as a discussion with Harley Finkelstein, Chief Platform Officer at the popular e-commerce solution, Shopify.

What happened then

  • My first decision was how to deal with a technical gaffe (or glitch, whichever I’d prefer to call it) that held up this episode. I decided to delay the episode by a week rather than hastily re-assemble the thing. I think it was a good move.
  • My second decision revolved around the discussion with Harley, as it went well beyond the usual time limit I’ve imposed. Totally my doing, as I was right into the discussion…but some editing had to be done. Trimming it down was a difficult task, as there was a ton of great stuff in there. What am I going to do with the trimmings? Well, let’s just say I’d keep my eyes open for an uncut version somewhere down the line. (That said, our discussion pretty much takes up the episode’s entire length.)
  • The third decision was choosing a winning entry in my tagline contest. Decision made, and you’ll hear the winning entry at the end of the show. Thanks to everyone who entered — and there will be more contests to come, so be sure to “play again” when they do.
  • As for non-decision-related stuff, check out Paul Graham’s Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule post that Harley mentions. It’s a great read.
  • Harley also mentions a fondness for 37signals — a fondness that I share.
  • …and he uses a Moleskine. I “kind of” use one as well.
  • He also uses Tungle.me, which I never really got into.


Episode 3: Ever Mac, Evernote & Brett Kelly

The third episode of ProductiVardy chronicles my journey toward my new MacBook Air and the lack of productivity that led me on said journey, as well as a chat with Evernote guru, coffee connoisseur and friend on the web Brett Kelly. The always readworthy and trustworthy author at Bridging the Nerd Gap and I had a short and productive exchange on productivity, workflow, coffee, multitasking and the notion of simplicity for simplicity’s sake.

What happened then

  • Despite my troubles with my aging MacBook Pro, I put aside my recent frustrations and thought about the years of uninterrupted service it had given me. I discuss what led me to nearly throw it out the door and what led me to bringing a shiny new 11-inch MacBook Air through the door into my office instead.
  • I announce the winner of the WakeMate for iPhone contest. Not in the show notes, but actually on the podcast. You’re gonna hafta listen…
  • Before talking with the man who wrote the comprehensive guide to Evernote (Evernote Essentials — a wise investment for anyone who wants to get the most out of the software-as-a-service solution), I offer how I use Evernote in the segment Practical Practices.
  • Brett Kelly joins me as we talk about the AeroPress (my coffeemaker of choice), Technivorm (his coffeemaker of choice) and what his brewing and roasting rituals are.
  • He spoke at the inaugural Evernote Trunk Conference. Despite not having done it before our chat, I heard it went well. But he was kinda nervous.
  • Something I use to stay on task: AwayFind.
  • Something Brett uses to stay on task: Concentrate.
  • Something Brett uses to actually do tasks: MacVim.
  • Something Brett doesn’t use/get: BBEdit.
  • Stuff Brett & I both use to be productive: OmniFocus, Sparrow and, well…Evernote.
  • Does Brett quote Derek Sivers? Hell, yeah he does!


Episode 4: Action, Reaction & Ben Brooks

On the fourth episode of ProductiVardy the topic of action, reaction and “proaction” come into the conversation. And it’s through a lack of proaction and considerable reaction that an interview with fellow West Coaster, insightful writer and personal “bacon-saver” Ben Brooks takes place.

What happened then

  • A new segment, called SingleTip makes it debut. Zaid Zawaideh, co-founder and innovator and Sandglaz offers a single tip on how people can stay productive.
  • Mike talks about a “Charlie Brown Moment” that led up to this episode, most notably the technical problems he entailed with the interview he recorded with his scheduled guest…and how he resolved them. It involved a mixture of proactivity from the past, reactivity in the present and actions to be taken in the future.
  • Ben Brooks joins Mike and talks about how he manages to get all that he does done. His writing, his business, everything.
  • Ben discusses what circumstances cause him to be proactive and what ones benefit from him being so great at being reactive.
  • Is Ben Brooks a minimalist? Is Ben able to disconnect? Does Ben like the colour blue? All these and more get answered during this productively short interview.
  • And before the episode wraps, Mike announces the winner of the Ludicrous Password contest.


Episode 5: World Domination, Inspiration & Chris Guillebeau

This week’s episode of ProductiVardy features an in-depth discussion with renowned nonconformist and World Domination Summit head honcho Chris Guillebeau.

What happened then

  • Chris explains what exactly the World Domination Summit is — and what it takes to put together an event like it. (want to see and hear more about it…check this out.
  • Since you just checked that out, Chris tells you how to get in on WDS 2012.
  • Who (or what) inspired Chris to do what he does?
  • Chris delves into what he believes people can do to be more engaged and to dabble in (or dive into) the art of nonconformity.
  • What’s travel hacking? Chris tells us.
  • Chris also discusses his relationship with his email inbox, what tools he uses (such as OmniFocus) to stay on task and get all he has on the go, well…gone. Oh, and he’s working on another book and he tells us about it.


Episode 6: Creativity, Collaboration & Corwin Hiebert

Corwin Hiebert, a driving force behind the ideation conference CREATIVEMIX and the resource for creative entrepreneurs known as Clamorate!, joins us this week on ProductiVardy.

What happened then

  • Pace Smith of The Connection Revolution offers this episode’s SingleTip.
  • Corwin discusses how he manages to get everything done — and the challenges of getting everything done well.
  • How Corwin pushes through the “urgent” to get to the “important” — and offers advice on how others can as well.
  • We get an introduction to Clamorate! from one of the people making it happen.
  • Corwin discusses the future of collaboration on the Internet.
  • What gives Corwin his edge? You’ll have to listen…


Episode 7: Follow Up, Lead Without Followers & Dave Ursillo

After a long and unexpected hiatus, ProductiVardy returns with special guest Dave Ursillo. Dave is the author of the new book Lead Without Followers, and is doing his part to reinvent what leadership really should be all about. He’s a fellow WDSer and is really on to something with his work. That’s why he’s here.

What happened then

  • Mike does a bit of follow-up on the long and unexpected hiatus from the podcast, including a few apologies put in for good measure.
  • Dave discusses the nuts and bolts behind why he wrote the book.
  • How did Dave get to where he is? He tells us.
  • Dave goes through his writing process — fitting even now with NaNoWriMo in full swing.
  • Want Dave to bring his book tour to your city? Help him out here — and give to a great charity in the process.
  • What about the thing that gives Dave his edge? It’s in here…


Episode 8: Now Habits, Zen Habits & Leo Babauta

This week on the podcast, Leo Babauta, author of Focus: A Simplicity Manifesto in the Age of Distraction and The Power Of Less, as well as the force behind the incredibly popular Zen Habits website stops by for a discussion with Mike.

What happened then

  • Mike discusses a bit about procrastination, mentioning Neil Fiore’s book The Now Habit in the process.
  • A great post is mentioned that’s definitely worth reading: Cal Newport’s Welcome to The Post-Productivity World
  • More on procrastination: You Are Not So Smart (Book Trailer) Buy the book here.
  • Enough: The Minimal Mac Podcast – Episode 83: Hip to Be Bored
  • Leo talks about how he shifted Zen Habits away from productivity and where it is now.
  • How does Leo get it all done? He tells you.
  • Leo explains what “zen” means to him, as Mike confronts him with a post he wrote back during his time with The Next Web on productivity buzzwords.
  • Is Leo a digital or analog tools kind of guy? You’ll find out (sort of).
  • Peter from Washington, DC, asks Mike’s thoughts on Stickk, a goal setting web app that offers risk and reward.


Episode 9: Post-Productivity, Work Philosophy & Cal Newport

Cal Newport posted one of the most insightful pieces ever written on the state of productivity websites on the web on his blog, Study Hacks. Mike was excited to be able to speak with him on the topic of where productivity has been on the web, where it is now, and where it is going.

What happened then

  • Mike and Cal talk about the post that drew Mike’s attention — and the attention of virtually every “productivityist” on the web.
  • Cal explains what got him into examining productivity at such a deep level.
  • Cal offers what he’d like to see more from productivity-type sites such as Lifehacker and Lifehack.org online.
  • Cal talks about his “information diet”, and how he keeps his intake at a level that allows him to stay on top of things.
  • Mike asks Cal about the need for people to “search for what we’re meant to do” and whether or not the way people look at finding passion is a real problem.
  • Cal talks briefly about his forthcoming book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You, due out in Fall 2012.


Episode 10: Replenishing, Flourishing & Charlie Gilkey

This week on the podcast, Charlie Gilkey, the creator of the popular life and business strategies blog Productive Flourishing, made an appearance on the show.

What happened then

  • Mike takes a moment to not just discuss the future of the podcast, but the importance of replenishing yourself in order to avoid burnout.
  • The segment SingleTip makes a return, with Chris Guillebeau offering his tip on where to start if you’re going against the grain while trying to start doing something that you really want to do.
  • More talk with Charlie about the World Domination Summit, and then talk about Charlie’s site.
  • Charlie discusses the article series, “Great Connections Lead to Great Ideas”, which recently appeared on Productive Flourishing.
  • Mike gets the abridged version of the tools that Charlie DOESN’T use to get things done.
  • What does Charlie use? Mailplane and TextMate are two examples.
  • Charlie talks about his email workflow.
  • Mike mentions Merlin Mann’s thanksno as a way he manages his spam; Charlie doesn’t seem to get much.
  • Charlie doesn’t “get” Instapaper. Why is this so?
  • Since Charlie is writing a book, Mike asks him about his habits on that front.
  • Charlie is asked about “Lift-Off”, an intensive he has developed with Pam Slim.
  • And about that book…?


Episode 11: Focus, Energy & Chris Bowler

This week’s episode of ProductiVardy features an interview with Chris Bowler, one of the co-founders of Fusion Ads (since been acquired by BuySellAds), a creative force behind the podcast Creatiplicity, and is also the man behind Idea Cafe (where Mike may do some of his holiday shopping this year).

What happened then

  • Mike highly suggests you check out the Read & Trust network. Seriously.
  • Chris discusses why he started Idea Cafe and the challenges of running an online store in Canada.
  • Mike asks Chris about his workflow and how he gets all that he has to get done…done.
  • Does Chris work in Context Mode or in Project Mode? He gives us the goods.
  • What are Chris’ writing instrument and notebook of choice right now? (Hint: He has more than one choice, and you can get most of them at JetPens.)
  • Chris describes his work environment (slightly altered from the link provided due to his recent move), and Mike discusses what his environment plans are.
  • Mike asks Chris a question he never thought he’d get asked on a show like this.
  • Does using a productivity system promote increased mindfulness? Mike asks Chris’ thoughts — and it goes from there.
  • What gives Chris Bowler his edge? (Hint: You’ll have to listen to find out.)


Episode 12: Bengals, Brilliance & Todd Henry

This episode of ProductiVardy features an interview with Todd Henry, the driving force behind Accidental Creative and author of the book The Accidental Creative: How to Become Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice.

What happened then

  • There were some audio problems on my end, microphone issues to be specific. Apologies all around, but it’ll be fixed for next episode.
  • Todd and I touch on our love-hate relationship with the Cincinnati Bengals, both at the onset and tail-end of the interview.
  • Todd talks about some of the challenges that get in the way of our creativity — and the ability for us to reach our full potential of what we can do in terms of creativity.
  • Is “shipping” all that it’s cracked up to be? Todd talks about the problems with just shipping things.
  • Todd steps out of his scope a bit to talk about a possible shift in our society being driven by what we love to do that being driven by the dollar.
  • Todd talks about one of the biggest things creatives struggle with.
  • What does FRESH mean? Todd tells us.
  • Todd talks about paper and his digital tools, including how he uses Evernote, Scrivener, PlainText, DEVONthink and OmniFocus. (There’s also a shoutout to Brett Kelly in there.)
  • What gives Todd his edge? Who won the Carson Palmer trade? Do the Bengals make the playoffs? Todd reveals his thoughts on all. (He was partly wrong on one of them so far…)


Episode 13: The Information Diet & Clay Johnson

On this episode of ProductiVardy, Mike Vardy talks with Clay Johnson, technologist and author of the highly-anticipated book, The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption.

What happened then

  • Mike talks about what is coming up on the final episode of the podcast next week, and what the beginning of 2012 will hold for both himself and the podcast
  • Thanks to Gina Trapani, Mike discovered Clay Johnson. Clay gives a brief introduction about his book, The Information Diet, including on how he got the idea for the book — before we dive in a little deeper.
  • Clay tells us about “infoveganism” and his thoughts on how to better handle the information that comes our way and how less information isn’t necessarily better.
  • Clay debunks the myth of “information overload”.
  • Clay talks about some of the tools he uses, such as RescueTime, and explains other tools such as his “bias journal” and exploring digital literacy.
  • Listeners can head over to make the resolution to take the Information Diet and Clay explains about what the resolution involves.
  • Clay breaks it down: Who is The Information Diet best suited for?


Episode 15: Gearing Up, Getting Things Done, David Allen & Mike Williams

On this episode of ProductiVardy, Mike Vardy chats with David Allen, the author of the mega-popular Getting Things Done and Mike Williams, CEO of The David Allen Company.

What happened then

  • David shares his story on what led to the choosing of Mike Williams as the CEO of The David Allen Company, and Mike offers his thoughts on the process as well.
  • Our host asks David and Mike discuss the one thing they recommend people do to get ready for the year that has just arrived.
  • Mike asks his guests about their thoughts on something that Cal Newport talked about regarding the “post-productivity era”.
  • All three gentlemen reveal what’s on their “wish list” for 2012 when it comes to GTD.
  • Finally, Mike Vardy talks about the future of ProductiVardy.