Today, it’s become incredibly easy to find, subscribe, and listen to tens of thousands of podcasts over topics such as news, business, politics, and much more. They’ve served as a free and accessible mode for gaining inspiration, staying educated and informed, and sparking personal and professional growth among all populations. But few youth have taken the initiative to work on their own podcast, given the difficulty in hosting big-name guests that audiences are interested in listening to. Ishan Haque, the 17-year-old editor of the OFF RCRD entrepreneurship podcast, has defied this age barrier. Today, we asked him to share some of his insights, experiences, and advice working with OFF RCRD as well as his own ventures.
Arjun: Tell us about your roots and how they shaped who you are today.
Ishan: I was born in a violent region in South Africa, where I lived for three years. After some time, my father moved us to a small town in Australia, which is when I caught interest in the “Information Age.” Then a nine year-old, I committed myself to learning about anything that caught my eye, and the Internet was a great conduit for achieving this. As my understanding of the Internet grew, I began to conduct a bit of e-commerce, learning about the plethora of ways people made money from the Internet. Fast forward to today, I found an advisor who has a similar background and am currently working with him in the startup space.
Arjun: Why did you decide to get involved in podcasts and how did you manage to get such great guests onto your show?
Ishan: Growing up, I always listened to podcasts and appreciated the art of them. Although I didn’t personally have many connections, my advisor, Cory Levy, who hosts the show, does. He knew Gary Vaynerchuk, and Gary had co-invested in a startup with Jake Paul. Ashton Kutcher is friends with Cory, so he was able to invite Ashton quite easily. We honestly didn’t really strategize diversity; it’s just that Cory has worked with a diverse group.
Arjun: How do you manage to capture and maintain attention from younger populations?
Ishan: Yes – I design questions targeted toward the youth demographic. These days, there aren’t many people or organizations producing content for youth, which is surprising given our insatiable thirst for knowledge. I’ve found that centering the questions around youth bridges this gap and offers tremendous value for everyone else.
Arjun: What were some obstacles and hurdles that you encountered along the way?
Ishan: Creating a team that was interested and passionate about its work was one of the biggest challenges I faced early on. I found it a bit challenging to find a team that was passionate about creating episodes and spending time making graphics, not to mention editing the episodes, which takes a bit of time. On top of this, it was my first podcast, and there was a lot that I was yet to learn. Jumping over these hurdles was definitely worth it; OffRcrd has definitely changed me. As a teenager, I’m the core demographic and can definitely relate to the advice people give on the podcast.
Arjun: You’ve clearly developed a strong commitment to OffRcrd’s growth. how do you balance your time?
Ishan: I’ve learned to prioritize tasks based on what gives me more happiness, particularly focusing on those that deliver the most impact. In a sense, I don’t place as much value on my formal education as much as I do on passion projects like this. This isn’t to stray from school; I simply prioritize what I like to do more – it’s a risk I’m willing to take.
Arjun: What’s the secret to your Twitter growth?
Ishan: Whenever they tweeted about something, I would tweet answers that are relevant. Make them interested in who you are. After a few replies, you seem to be adding value. Then they view you are somewhat credible. Make it about them. Everything comes back.
Ishan’s 3 Tips for Young Entrepreneurs:
- Build domain experience in what you’re interested in. Don’t force experience, let learning come to you.
- When you think of something, pretend that you know how to do things. Opportunities will always come your way, but you have to open to taking them.
- Over the Internet you can do anything you want. Put your head down and make sure you build domain knowledge – the opportunities will quickly follow.