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In this mini-sabbatical episode, Dan asks a question Sean’s been getting a lot lately: “Will you still do podcasts in 2020?” While the existence of this episode makes it clear that he’s not sitting out the whole year, Sean explains that he’ll be creating content—including podcasts—when he wants to, instead of on any kind of schedule; that’s the secret to a restful sabbatical: freedom from obligation.

We also discuss seanwes as a “personality brand”, and what it means for both the podcast and the business as a whole to have Sean McCabe take a step away from center stage. How do you grow a business beyond yourself when the business is so closely associated with… you?

Sean talks about the long game mindset, and how he’s willing to accept change and disruption now to build a better and stronger business in the years to come.

Episode Transcript

Note: This transcript of the episode was machine-generated and has not been edited for correctness. It’s provided for your convenience when searching. Please excuse any errors.

Sean: [00:00:00] Whenever I’m able kind of dropping these little, let’s call them sabbatical dispatch episodes in the feed whenever I can.

Dan: [00:00:08] Now I’ve, I thought we’d agreed to call them

Sean: [00:00:11] I think that was you.

Dan: [00:00:30] Well, let’s, let’s dive right in. I think, I think the people are wondering, when are you, are you, do you even still do this podcast? Sean? Are you ever gonna be on it again?

Sean: [00:00:40] apparently, yes. Here I

Dan: [00:00:42] Hey, here he is. It’s Sean. Everybody.

Sean: [00:00:45] So the answer to the episode title, when will Sean be on the podcast in 2020 is now

Dan: [00:00:52] That’s right. Good, good. Show.

Sean: [00:00:54] good show, sir.

okay. No, no. But for real, like people are actually wondering and I’ve had some conversations with people. They’re like, ah, you know, Sean, you’re going to be gone. Like, I don’t know if I’m going to listen to the show.

Dan: [00:01:08] you gotta you gotta get rid of this Dan guy. I can’t stand the sound of his voice. Things like that.

Sean: [00:01:13] Yeah, I mean, there’s a lot of that. Then I try and keep it from you, but there’s a lot of it, you know, but they’re like, it’s not, it’s not going to be the same, you know? and on the one hand, I understand that that’s true. If, if there’s different people, it’s not going to be the same. On the other hand, I do also want to let people know.

I don’t intend to completely go dark like so I’m taking off 2020 as a sabbatical. And along with that, you know, my whole stick, like the one rule about sabbaticals is no obligations. Don’t, don’t schedule anything. So I don’t want to have the obligation of, you’ve got a podcast at this time, right? Because it would make a lot of things difficult.

It would take some of the freedom out of it. But it’s kind of weird because I enjoy podcasting. I like sharing as I go. I like documenting the journey, and I have no intentions of stopping them, but it’s just not going to be on this regular schedule where I have to podcast. So one of the ideas I’ve had is if, and when I feel like it, and I imagine like this is not a promise because I don’t want to be obligated, but, but I imagine something like on a weekly.

Basis or weekly frequency, I will want to, sure. Thoughts, ideas, document what’s going on, you know, that kind of thing. And so, I think what I’m going to call those is sabbatical dispatches and . What we’ve arranged for is Dan and Ben to continue the show on its regular weekly cadence, you know, coming out at the same time, but also.

Whenever I’m able kind of dropping these little, let’s call them sabbatical dispatch episodes in the feed whenever I can.

Dan: [00:03:02] Now I’ve, I thought we’d agreed to call them Sabbat associates.

Sean: [00:03:06] I think that was you.

Dan: [00:03:07] Oh, I, I might’ve made that up unilaterally. I think it’s a great name though.

Sean: [00:03:11] Yeah. I don’t like it.

Dan: [00:03:17] So, so you will still be here. Do you think you’ll ever show up on the actual, you know, the re, the weekly Shawn West podcast?

Sean: [00:03:25] Yes, I was talking to some people about it and they’re like, well, that’s cool. You’re gonna occasionally do these sabbatical dispatch episodes, but it’s just not going to be the same, you know? When are you going to be on any of the live shows? Like real time and. I said, I don’t know. Maybe I will. Maybe, you know, maybe I show up and surprise, like I’m on the air, like we do do it live.

Right. but  it’s just tricky with timing, time zones. Mmm. Internet connection, all that stuff. So that, that part’s just really hard to say. I would love to do it if it works out sometimes. but no promises.

Dan: [00:04:04] Fair enough. I mean, I think it makes it even more fun if we don’t, if people don’t expect it. I almost said we don’t expect it, but frankly, I think Ben and I would like a heads up, if only for technical reasons to get you a, you know, to get you properly in the, in the show. But.

Sean: [00:04:21] Yeah. I’m not, I’m not demanding a backdoor where I just pop in in the middle of an episode.

Dan: [00:04:25] Hey guys, figure out how to live stream this. You’re, you’re welcome.

Sean: [00:04:30] Well, the, this kind of segues a little bit into one of those kind of side topics that relates to this, which is this, the sentiment that I’ve heard from, I ended up, receiving an email from one of our listeners and he was just sharing some candid feedback and, I, I looked him up on Instagram and called him on Instagram video.

And surprisingly, he answered. So then next thing you know, we’re just kind of in this back and forth, which, which was really fun. And, you know, got to talk to one of our listeners and he was sharing some stuff. And one of the things he said was like,  in his opinion, hi Sean equals Sean West. It’s like you, you Sean, you are Sean Wes, and the show’s just not going to be the same without, you.

Dan: [00:05:21] I mean, this is something, this is, this is something we’ve talked about. More broadly for the business and we can go there, but it’s, it’s definitely interesting. You are in the middle, I think, of making a transition where Sean Wes has essentially been equals Sean McCabe to, well, I mean, because you’re going on a sabbatical year, your hand is forest, right?

You’re, you’re putting yourself in a position where. A bunch of stuff about Sean. Wes has to be handled by people other than you. Right. And, and that it turns out that includes the podcast and it also includes the day to day operations of Sean last as well. you know, customer support and things like that.

Aye. I, I’m, I think I’m as interested as the person asking, how you think, how you think about that. Like, is it, is that a good thing? Is it a, should Sean Wes remain Sean McCabe or like, like is it a good thing that those two things are the same? Is it a bad thing or on the other hand, is it a good or bad thing that they’re changing?

Like is it inevitable.

Sean: [00:06:37] Yeah, it’s, it’s been tricky for sure. I, I don’t know that I really had any foresight in coming up with a brand that  at least partially my name. It’s not exactly my name, it’s a mashup of my first and middle names, but still like my first name is in there. And so there’s, there’s some kind of expectation that I am.

Personally going to be involved and whatever, whatever capacity and various aspects of brand, like I, Sean McCabe person, I am going to be personally involved. There is that expectation, at least right now. And sometimes I wonder, like, is it always going to be that way? Is, you know, how does, How does Disney go from the expectation of involvement from the founder, Walt to something beyond that, and is that something that just happens?

Is it intentional? Certainly it’s, it seems like it would be easier, at least to have some kind of more of an abstract brand name. . Like, what I like about, Sean West as opposed to Acme brick company is it can be whatever you want. It can evolve even after you decide to do something different than what you started out with.

You don’t have to change the name because when you have a very specific name, Mmm. You’re kind of limited in that sense. So I, I’ve always liked that, but the fact that it has my name in it kind of implies my personal involvement. And what happens when. I want to take a year off. What happens when I start a another business and want to spend a lot of my time on that?

Well, having other people run things. Mmm. I’m not, I’m not actually sure of the answer to all of those questions. It’s something I think about quite a lot. Mmm. But let, let’s, let’s address it from this angle. So at the very least, I, I do plan to. Well, now I’m saying plan. It’s very likely that I will continue to drop some podcast episodes throughout the year 2020 on the show.

So, okay. Sean McCabe is still involved.  some of the production of the Sean West podcast, but to a large degree it’s been, and Dan taking over, so the Shawn West podcast, it’s hosted by Ben and Dan. What does that mean? Is that possible? Will people still listen? I mean, those are all great questions, but let’s say, let’s say the brand actually takes a hit because people expect the person, Sean, to be involved in every single aspect, every episode.

Right? And I go on the sabbatical year. Let’s say the brand takes a hit. I think even in the big picture, I’m not worried. If the brand takes a little bit of a hit in the year 2020 because I think this is an investment. Oh, Dan, you know what? I’m so glad this popped into my mind. Mmm. Another thing that I forgot to mention is like, something I want to do on the road while I travel on sabbatical is record conversations I have with people.

This podcast, the Shaun was podcast, has not historically been an interview show. But I want to kind of evolve that a little bit. So as I travel, as I meet people that maybe I’ve always looked forward to meeting, I’m in their city, I’m in their country, or maybe even people that I just meet for the first time on, on my travels, I want to sit down and record some conversations with people and bring those conversations to the podcast to share them with you.

So that’s yet another way that, I, I could be involved. And also the show. evolves a little bit, but even aside from that, let’s just say I didn’t, I didn’t participate in the podcast at all for a year. I think the things that I learn, the conversations I have recorded or not, that’s all going to set up the next six years for success.

Because Dan, this is segwaying a little bit into another episode you and I are going to do. Mmm. Probably the next one they hear from us. Is about hiring someone you to run the business while I take a year off and when I could have very well done is not hired anyone and just kind of hibernated the whole business.

No podcast episodes, Nope. No. products being shipped. No content. Could it just hibernated the whole thing and maybe the brand would have taken a hit in that sense, but I still think the sabbatical year would have been worth it.

Dan: [00:11:22] I mean, that’s interesting right there to get a little bit of your psychology as a business owner because. I would think that like most people would hear that idea and go, no, it’s impossible. Like I couldn’t, I couldn’t put my business on ice for a year. I would lose everything.

Sean: [00:11:43] It just depends at what zoom level you’re thinking. So I’m thinking in the next. 10 years, and to me a year isn’t a very long time, but a lot of people are not looking further than a year out, so they’re just thinking about how devastating it will be, how much of a hit their brand will take now or in the next 12 months.

And I’m just thinking much, much bigger picture than that.

Dan: [00:12:11] So 10 years from now, is it even possible? Maybe it’s possible. W would it even be desirable for Shawn West to still be Sean McCabe? 10 years from now.

Sean: [00:12:28] You know, I, I don’t know. Did I have the answer to that? cause it, it really could go so many different ways. Mmm. I have other ideas for companies that I want to build that do have different names that would run independent of me, but  my direction.

Some part of me wonders if Sean Wes then remains something that

that implies involvement from me.

Sean McCabe, I, I don’t, I don’t exactly know. I don’t exactly know.

Dan: [00:13:06] Sure. I mean, I almost wonder if at that point like Sean Wes. Over time might start to become increasingly Sean McCabe. Like, cause once you, once you’ve spun out these other ventures and they are essentially running, you know, they will have other people overseeing them eventually there.

Sean: [00:13:23] Then Shawn West becomes the one place where people know that I’m personally involved somehow.

Dan: [00:13:28] exactly. But like for now, since it is the sum total of your enterprise, you kind of, in order to. In order for it to grow past a certain point, you can’t. You have to start stepping back a bit, right?

Sean: [00:13:42] Yeah. Yeah. It’s interesting. Then you’ve got like the idea for Sean wins media, which is this agency, that would perform services for, for other clients. Mmm. But I’m not necessarily going to be the one in the video editing software working on your project or in Photoshop. Right. But there, there is some  implication of my involvement there as well.

Like I would have a hand in the strategy or in the processes or things like that. So yeah, I think, I think that’s quite possible that anything with the Sean West, a brand moniker. Implies at least some involvement of me, the person, Mmm. At least at least until I die. Right.

Dan: [00:14:32] Well, yes. Well, hopefully that, hopefully you don’t have to put the legacy plans in place for another couple dozen decades or something like that. Couple dozen decades. I don’t know, Sean, that’s, that’s pretty long. Something that jumps out at me is Sean. Wes media has another word in it, so I suspect it’s easier to feel like Sean Wes equals Sean McKay, because if not, what that, what’s a Sean?

Wes? Right. Whereas Sean West media is, is a media company. It just happens to have been started by Sean. I feel like there’s a pretty. Pretty clear distinction there, at least in terms of how people are going to think about it. It’s it. I think it’ll come much more naturally to people to, yeah. At least to the same people who are emailing you saying that Sean Wes equals Sean McCabe.

I think it would come more naturally to those same people that Sean West media is overseen by Sean, but it doesn’t mean Sean is editing your video.

Sean: [00:15:35] It’s like Sean was conference. It’s not like, Hey, there’s going to be seven talks. Well, all of which I give.

Dan: [00:15:44] Right. Or it’s, it’s not hosted in your living room.

Sean: [00:15:47] Yeah. The first year I spoke, I did have a talk on stage, but then the second year I made a conscious decision not too. Because it was like this, this isn’t about me personally.  it would seem strange if I didn’t speak at least the first year, like the inaugural conference, but then after that, it was like, okay, I spoke, but this conference isn’t about me.

No. I chose the people to speak there. So there you have a little bit of my curation and I’m at the event, right. So there is some involvement, but Mmm. I think as, as the brand expands, as you have Shawn West ex Sean was wide, it starts, it starts to kind of take on more of like an endorsement, kind of a meaning.

Dan: [00:16:38] Right,

Sean: [00:16:39] Like there’s this expectation of, of quality or you know, and approach to something from the standpoint of certain values.

Dan: [00:16:49] but it doesn’t mean that Sean himself did every part of this thing.

Sean: [00:16:54] Right, and we’re talking about my vision here. So this is, this is my vision. It’s very understandable to me that, since we’re not quite there yet, that someone might have the expectation that I’m personally involved, certainly with the podcast. I’m sure it is a little bit strange that there are episodes coming out on the feed for Shawn West podcast.

That I’m not on it. It makes sense that that’s a little bit strange after I, I recorded 400 or so of them, but you know, I thought, Hey, there’s some really good ideas here. Ben has been half of the show for most of its life. Dan’s listened to every episode. He’s in the community like he, he gets the vibe.  I thought it would be better to keep things alive, even if it is a little bit different then to just.

Let it go completely dormant. Or, you know, the other thing is like, I do want to do these, these interviews, these solo shows, sabbatical dispatches. I could have just stopped the show as it was going regularly, and we update it if and only when I have these random episodes. But then, you, you would lose the, you’d lose the consistency.

Right? And I think it’s very important for a show to have consistency where the people, you know, there’s this expectation built up like, okay, there’s going to be a new episode, there’s going to be a new episode. And they know when that’s a really big deal for a show, but I couldn’t violate my, like. Not making plans for the sabbatical and create an obligation for myself to fulfill that consistency.

So I think the result you have where Ben and Dan took over the show to continue it on the same schedule, I’ll continue to probably, do some shows here and there. That result came about by following all of the principles or values or guidelines that we have in place. And that’s maybe why it seems a little unorthodox, but also.

Well, I am not super concerned about it or why I feel good about it, I should say.

Dan: [00:19:00] You. I don’t, I don’t know if you know this, and even if you do know it, you might not want to say it, but I would hypothesize that the person or people who are contacting you about this topic, they are probably also longtime listeners of the show. And the reason I say that is because of course we, one of our values at Sean West is to always take incredibly good care of the people who’ve been loyal.

You know, like the people who’ve been with you since the beginning. We reward loyalty in our customers and we want to do the same thing in our listeners. At the same time. You talked about zoom levels and the fact of the matter is zoom out beyond this year. Like this year is going to be weird for the people that are already with us, but you know to, to paraphrase your friend and mine, Merlin man, like every day someone’s born who hasn’t seen the Flintstones, the person who discovers the Sean West podcast in the and starts listening in the mid four hundreds to them.

It will not be strange that sometimes Dan and Ben run the show.

Sean: [00:20:06] Yeah.

Dan: [00:20:07] And, and you, you would if, if you said, well, I can’t change the format. I can’t take myself off the show because the people who already listened to it will be weirded out, so I’m just not going to do the show. Well, now you’re denying all of the potential new listeners the chance to ever get into it.

Sean: [00:20:28] I think people are going to be pleasantly surprised. It is going to be weird. It is going to be different.

But I think, I think a, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by Ben and Dan, even if you feel like this is, this is new. This is strange. I mean, Dan, I think you’ve, you’ve done a tremendous job with the podcast given that you’ve never podcasted before.

Like I think, I think you said Sean likes to just throw people in the deep end and that’s how he gets them to learn how to swim. That’s basically what I did with you and you’ve, you’ve done really well with that. But I’m sure people can tell the difference between someone who’s never podcasted before and someone who’s been doing it for no many, many years, hundreds of episodes.

I think you guys are gonna. You’re going to, I don’t know. I don’t know how to say what I’m feeling, but I feel like Ben and Dan will surprise you if you, if you give them a shot, but then also we’re going to keep it interesting where I’m going to share things. As I go. It’s not like I’m going completely dark.

I’m just not like committing to an episode on a specific day just because of the nature of, of the sabbatical. But the insights, I get that I don’t know what those are yet because I haven’t experienced them, but I know that they’re going to come. The insights I get that I’m going to get to share with you on the podcast and the conversations I have with people that, I will meet.

I think you’re going to be pretty awesome. And then you have the added benefit of Ben and Dan even providing further commentary on some of those things that I shared from the field.

Dan: [00:22:11] I, yeah, I like that idea. I think it that way it’s, you know, it’s not even, it’s not a retraction. It’s not like, it’s not like, Hey, now you can have all your Sean Wes without the Sean. Instead of instead, it’s like you still get Shawn, and in addition you also get all this other stuff, which is a little bit different, but it’s still fits within what you, what we intend to deliver as part of the Sean West brand.

I mean, I’m obviously biased, but I’m quite proud of the last couple episodes Ben and I have done. I think they’ve been really good, like, and, and they’re not exactly the same as the ones with you. I think in particular, Sean, like you’re very good at doing the. I’m going to break down this elaborate process for creating daily content.

Quite frankly, neither Ben nor I could do that show, I don’t think, at least not right now, but we still have lots of interesting things to talk about and I’m really excited to talk about them.

Sean: [00:23:08] Well, I, I’m enjoying the shows that you guys are doing. I th I think it’s a lot of fun. And like I said, even if. Even if this next year is like weird or different or you know, in some people’s opinion, worse, it’s setting up what I know is going to be an Epic 2021 but you know, 2021 through 2026 like if nothing else, it’s setting that up for success, which I’m very excited about.

But I think even beyond that. It’s just going to be a whole lot of fun. Like all this stuff. We’re going to be able to do this stuff I’m going to experience and share with you along the way.  I’m, I’m really looking forward to it. I’m excited.

Dan: [00:23:52] I am too. So, so I would say a, like a preemptive good shows, sir.

Sean: [00:23:57] Good. Good. Shows, sir.