Assemble a team so that you are not comprising on production quality. I am eternally grateful to my manager, publicity team, production assistant, podcast audio editor, video editor, graphic designer, web developer, web designer, and social media coordinator to keep this operation going.
As part of my series of interviews about “5 things you need to know to create a very successful podcast”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kanika Chadda-Gupta.
Kanika Chadda-Gupta is a wife, mom of three [including twins], journalist, and entrepreneur. A creative thinker and born storyteller, she began her career as a CNN Anchor/Executive Producer and has made her mark in new media through her on-air interviews, marketing &branding, video production, and podcasting.
Parenting is tough, especially during an ongoing pandemic. That’s why Kanika has made it her mission to support parents and help them realize there’s no substitute for their superpower of intuition, “mom sense.” (and “dad sense.”)
She is the Founder/Host of the top-rated podcast, That’s Total Mom Sense, where she interviews industry experts on all things parenting. She has been featured on the Today Show, Good Day NY, Elle India, and India.com.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit of your “personal backstory”? What is your background and what eventually brought you to this particular career path?
Sure! Let’s start from the beginning. I was born in Bombay, India and my parents immigrated to the US when I was two years old. Watching the news together was a daily ritual in my family and I grew up feeling most inspired by the women of color on TV — Oprah, Lisa Ling, Connie Chung — who helped me believe that I could pursue that career path too!
For fun, I competed in beauty pageants (crowned Miss India Maryland and Miss India East Coast) and loved that I could put my Indian classical dance training and public speaking skills to good use on stage in front of a large audience. What was most important to me was utilizing a platform where I could share my opinions and perspectives on society’s most pressing issues. And I liked the thrill of thinking on my feet.
I later earned my BA from Boston University in International Relations and MA from University of Miami. After my internship at NBC, I moved to India on a whim where I worked for CNN. Life came full circle. I worked as an Anchor/Executive Producer and hosted a show called “E Tonight,” where I covered the gamut of events from the 26/11 terror attacks to Slumdog Millionaire at the Oscars. I felt most compelled to unearth stories that were rooted in humanity and touched the heart.
Upon moving back to the states, I worked as a Director of Programming for a leading international network, then as the Editor-in-Chief for an online fashion retailer, and finally launched my digital marketing firm (Kronologie Agency).
Shortly after, my husband and I had our three kids. I had boy-girl twins and my youngest son in the span of a year and a half!
“I was thrown into the deep end [motherhood] when I had my three kids within a year and a half. It was drown or doggy paddle my way to the top. As a journalist, I’m hardwired to ask tough questions, so I found myself seeking answers about life as a parent from my pediatrician to the friendly Amazon customer service rep over the phone. I knew others were in the same boat.
With no time to read mountains of self-help books, I was yearning for tools to simplify daily life, as well as an outlet to feel part of a conversation and community. Just like that…my podcast, “That’s Total Mom Sense,” was born!”
Can you share a story about the most interesting thing that has happened to you since you started podcasting?
I launched my podcast in 2019 and found that during the course of 2020 and this pandemic life, I have made more connections than I could have ever imagined as a busy, working mom — all while on Zoom from my home office. It’s been a blessing to have made so many lifelong friends the world over during one of the most isolating periods in history.
Can you share a story about the biggest or funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or takeaways you learned from that?
I forgot to press record a few minutes into an interview and we had to start over. Now I have a thorough questionnaire and task list in front of me so I know I’ll never make the same mistake twice!
How long have you been podcasting and how many shows have you aired?
I have been podcasting for 2.5 years and have 115 episodes and counting.
What are the main takeaways, lessons or messages that you want your listeners to walk away with after listening to your show?
Parenting is tough — especially during a pandemic and in a society where technology is pervasive from a young age.
From the Great Resignation (nearly 5 million American women left the workforce) to myopic mom-centric content, That’s Total Mom Sense is rewriting the narrative as an uplifting podcast where dads can pull up a seat at the table, multi-millionaires reveal non-negotiables they made for their families, thought leaders share their legacy through their life lessons and the audience feels supported and prepared to raise children with kindness and self-awareness.
mom sense: our built-in sixth sense; intuition. See also superpower.
X Salesy pitches / self-driven agenda
- Insightful interviews on pressing issues
- Enlightening + tangible takeaways
In your opinion what makes your podcast binge-listenable? What do you think makes your podcast unique from the others in your category? What do you think is special about you as a host, your guests, or your content?
My podcast is binge-worthy because my VIP is the listener. As a seasoned interviewer, I ask the insightful questions and bring thought leaders on to help parents problem-solve. No BS. No unnecessary banter.
Though I do feature child psychologists and PhDs, most of my guests are public figures because of their career success and we don’t know much about their family lives. For instance, serial entrepreneur and beauty industry titan Bobbi Brown shares how she was the PTA president for her three sons, talks about her rallying commencement speech for the graduating class of 2020, and how she was more often found at Michael’s on Friday nights. Acclaimed New York-based designer Rebecca Minkoff who recently released her book Fearless, talks about how her family had a green ledger in the kitchen and she and her brother had to earn their living, how her mom taught her to sew instead of buying her an expensive dress she liked, and how she is now an advocate for moms and is unapologetic when she has to breastfeed in a boardroom or pump backstage at New York Fashion Week. Our kids are our priority, and we shouldn’t feel we have something to prove to the world. You do what feels right to you and aligns with our family values.
Doing something on a consistent basis is not easy. Podcasting every work-day, or even every week can be monotonous. What would you recommend to others about how to maintain discipline and consistency? What would you recommend to others about how to avoid burnout?
For me, podcasting is freedom. When I worked as an Anchor/Correspondent for television networks, they provided me with my call times and informed me whom I was interviewing, why, and when. I love that I now have full autonomy from my home studio and along with my team, decide on my podcast guest list, recording schedule, sponsorships, and campaigns.
Podcasting is contingent upon consistency. I treat it like a live show. No matter what, every Thursday, a new episode hits the air waves. I set myself up for success with project management tools, talented team members who stay in their lane and know what they’re working on (podcast editing, graphics, uploads, website, social media, public relations) and do pre-calls and provide a questionnaire to my guests to make the process organized and efficient.
Time management is key. If you know you’ll be spending time with family over the holidays, record multiple episodes in a row so you have a bank ready to go.
What resources do you get your inspiration for materials from?
I read the news (Google, Skimm, NYT, and my friend Julie Jargon’s newsletter for the Wall Street Journal) and am part of several organizations (HeyMama, Female Founder Collective, The 10th House, The Co-Co) to anticipate what would be relevant to my audience of parents, much like my series on Back to School During Covid where I interviewed a pediatrician, DOE President, and Superintendent, as well as The Birthing Series for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month in October.
Ok fantastic. Let’s now shift to the main questions of our discussion. Is there someone in the podcasting world who you think is a great model for how to run a really fantastic podcast?
Guy Raz of “How I Built This.” He has stellar guests and insights every week.
What are the ingredients that make that podcast so successful? If you could break that down into a blueprint, what would that blueprint look like?
- Seasoned and engaging Host
- Keen interview skills (this comes with experience and tons and tons of practice)
- Compelling content
- Niche audience
- High quality production value
- Memorable Packaging
- X Factor — something that is a hook and ties it all together. For me, it’s mom sense and dad sense — parents’ superpower of intuition when it comes to their kids.
You are a very successful podcaster yourself. Can you share with our readers the five things you need to know to create an extremely successful podcast? (Please share a story or example for each, if you can.)
The Art of the Interview
- Get Prepared
- Do an introductory call to ideate topics
- Do Your Research — your guest’s career, books, families — kids ages
- Signature Style/X-Factor
- Same questions at the end
- End with a tagline
- Rapid Fire
- Look The Part
- Audio/Video on Zoom
- Producer, Editors, Graphic Design
- Social Media
- Collaborate with other creators
- Once you garner a critical mass, you can work with brand sponsors to buy pre-roll/mid-roll, pay to sponsor episodes, giveaways, you can be a brand ambassador through your content
What’s the biggest challenge in your specific role and how are you going to overcome it?
What legacy do you want to leave behind?
What’s the biggest surprise you’ve had in the last few months?
If you had extra X budget, what would you spend it on?
Avoid cliches like “how are you today?” or “how are you feeling”
Tell me about yourself
To ask the tough questions — Naysayers may say,
Don’t talk at me, talk to me — like you’re talking to a friend
- Be Specific
- Write emails to the correct point of contact (not Hello There) + PR Rep
- Do your homework, mention why you admire your guest, and topics + themes that you would discuss
- Value Prop
- Think about your audience and the guest’s target market. How can you serve both with the interview?
- Be Specific
- Write emails to the correct point of contact (not Hello There)
- Listen to podcast episodes that are relevant and mention the ones you enjoyed
- Value Prop
- Think about the host’s audience + their target market. How can you add value and help them problem solve?
Can you share some insight from your experience about the best ways to: 1) book great guests; 2) increase listeners; 3) produce it in a professional way; 4) encourage engagement; and 5) the best way to monetize it? (Please share a story or example for each, if you can.)
1) Become an ultimate connector and network as much as you can within groups that are relevant to your show. For me, I am actively involved with HeyMama, which is a group of highly professional women who are mothers and the Female Founder Collective and The 10th House, which uplift female business owners in a meaningful and authentic way.
Find great mentors and lean on them. In turn, provide them with ways you can help as it’s important to keep the reciprocity in all relationships. I am lucky to have Sarah Harden, CEO of Hello Sunshine, and Stephanie Dua, CEO of HOMER, as mentors and dear friends who help me strategize, understand the market, and ensure I am providing a unique value proposition to my audience they can’t find anywhere else.
2) Syndicate the show to other platforms. That’s Total Mom Sense is syndicated on Dash Radio’s Rukus Avenue Radio which reaches 15.5 million across all social media platforms and Helium Radio which reaches nearly 10 million.
3) Assemble a team so that you are not comprising on production quality. I am eternally grateful to my manager, publicity team, production assistant, podcast audio editor, video editor, graphic designer, web developer, web designer, and social media coordinator to keep this operation going.
4) Repurpose and promote content on your website, backlinks from networks and press, post highlights on YouTube, and fliers on social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter).
5) Research brands that are applicable to your audience where there is a mutually beneficial gain. For instance, one of my brand partners is HOMER, which is an early learning app for kids ages 2–8. I created a segment called At Home with HOMER during the height of the pandemic to help parents learn from CEO Stephanie Dua on topics like how to build your child’s math confidence, reading tips for early learners, and tackling mental health issues. My audience got to learn from an expert and mother of three, and Stephanie got to reach her customers (her consumers are kids using the learning app) in a genuine, authentic way through weekly podcast segments.
For someone looking to start their own podcast, which equipment would you recommend that they start with?
- Yeti Microphone
- Ear buds
- Garage Band
- inDesign for graphics
Ok. We are almost done. 🙂 Because of your position and work, you are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I want to uplift parents and help them realize that taking the time to make magical moments with our children leaves them with lasting memories and can change the face of society as we know it. We are raising the next generation of leaders and innovators and we can’t shortcut our way through that. Teach them values that you live by. Be an example. Be present.
How can our readers follow you online?
Follow me at www.thatstotalmomsense.com.
Thank you so much for sharing your time and your excellent insights! We wish you continued success.