Status, belief and a really good microphone.

The box was bigger than I expected. I wanted it to be easy to carry & barely noticeable. It was neither. 

After I bought the Tascam DR 40, the Podcast would be a go, I thought. But after the unboxing, I was a bit taken back and felt I should re-calibrate what would go into the production. I should have just got a plug in mic for my iPhone, I thought. 

Then, Meg, my Fiance, shifted my perspective on the microphone totally: it looks LEGIT.  It looks professional, not like a home-production tool. When people see that, they will believe this is the real deal. 

And they do. When I pull it out for interviews, people take note - “damn - that mic is so badass - this is the real deal!” - and it is. It is similar to what NPR uses, after all. This led me to recall a realization I’ve had before about status. 

Law #1:  Perceived high status begets actual high status. 

Status is almost ALWAYS derived from something external from the subject, and there is a lot of persuasion involved. People believe things they are told by authority figures, because they have been told to believe authority figures.  Authority comes from clothes, accessories, and titles: As Machiavelli would have put it in The Princehow you “seem”. When you’re getting out of a nice car wearing a classic business suit and a nice watch, people will mimic your actions - even if you rented it -  if you act with confidence. Because, when you act with confidence, your initial perceived status will be elevated, because you seem legitimate. 

Con men are experts in authority. Think Matt Damon’s Character “Linus Caldwell” in Oceans 13 or Frank Abagnale Jr. (inspiration for Catch Me If You CanThese guys were smooth, they knew all the right phrases, and they were masters of persuasion. 

The term con man comes from “confidence man” - someone who intends to exploit their victim’s appeal to authority by appearing to be an authority. Appearing to be an authority is done by appearing confident and trustworthy.  

What separates a confidence man from a good businessman is the goal of their exploit: theft vs. value. 

If the microphone didn’t uphold its side of the bargain by sounding terrible, I would have felt robbed, and I would have taken the piece of shit back to the store. Fortunately, I had done some research, learned that this was the microphone used by NPR, so I was confident in my purchase. 

So, there is a corollary to law #1: Consistency creates legitimate authority.

If NPR uses the microphone, I could trust that the mic would also work for my  purposes. 

Another reason I was confident in my purchase was because of the elite technicality of the device. How did I know it was an elite device? The size of the owner’s manual. 

Originally I didn’t think about how complicated recording could have been. Press record, conduct interview, stop, right? 

Wrong. Good sound is produced by quality electronics, and you know it when you hear it. Determining which levels, over-dub preferences, and ambient vs. primary noise all must be taken into account. This was more complicated than it looked, but I finally figured out how to make the mic pick up just the right amount of sound. This brought me back to the concept of status: 

Law #2: The knowledge required to master a subject affects status because it affects the confidence of the holder of the knowledge. 

In conducting my interviews, I would first have to set the recording parameters. I happened to do this in front of the person I was interviewing - and the simple act of doing this got both me and my interviewee to get ready for the interview. Using the knowledge of how the mic worked primed both me and my subject to get into the “mode” of interviewing. 

The technicality of the device acted as a primer, enabling me to conduct a quality interview. It also allowed my interviewee to conduct themselves in a way that would be appealing to the audience. Technology is nothing without something of high quality to use it on: my content had to be valuable

To ensure this, I kept a theory in mind: everyone I know knows something I don't (thanks Bill Nye). I'd find people to interview by asking them simple questions, figuring out what they really enjoyed, and digg deep to see if they'd be a good candidate. I'd research them as much as I could to figure out which questions to ask. Finding good questions has become a huge focus of mine.  

My huge takeaway: Status is caused by belief. Belief comes from Confidence. Confidence comes from hard work. 

The legitimacy of my podcast existed in my eyes because I believed that producing the podcast through quality equipment is only done by people with the experience needed to use the equipment - which I finally owned and understood -  to its fullest capacity. 

Because I believed in the legitimacy and long-term usefulness of the podcast - through the high status of the microphone & the value that I seek to provide in the content  - I unconsciously conveyed that legitimacy to others. 

Who would have known you could learned all this from a microphone.