Introvert podcaster Jayne Nakata shares this week her story about how she found herself as a podcaster and then a podcast producer and the steps she took to get out of the funk she had found herself in. As a fellow introvert, I know how difficult it is to put yourself out there. I have enjoyed watching Jayne grow her business over the years and take on unexpected roles.

WELCOME JAYNE, LET’S START WITH WHERE YOU HAIL FROM…

I grew up in New Zealand and my family lived in many places because my parents worked for a hotel chain that owned hotels in the most beautiful places in my country. Moving to Japan more than 20 years ago was a shock to the senses when I had grown up surrounded by mountains, lakes and forests. I have lived in Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture for over 20 years with two overseas stints in Stuttgart, Germany and Gothenburg, Sweden.  

photo of the introvert podcaster Jayne nakata a white woman wearing a black jacket and white top
©️Jayne Nakata

TELL US ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS/PODCAST

I use my business to explore things I want to learn about and then teach or help others to do it, too. So far I have done and sometimes continue to do event planning and management, retreat hosting, and now I am in a season of podcasting.

One of my main offerings recently has been helping other entrepreneurs to start their own podcast. Often I will help with other aspects of their business in the background which might look like guiding them through a challenge, building a stronger personal brand and improving their online systems so they can grow their revenue more easily. 

HOW DID YOU GET STARTED WITH THE BUSINESS/PODCAST?

I know many women who are parenting small children struggle with finding that balance between being the parent they want to be and having a career that is fulfilling but not draining. When my children were 2 and 5 I had a really big “take a good hard look at myself” moment after realising that there was nothing wrong with my life except how I was choosing to view it. I was the problem to be exact.

So I decided that since I couldn’t change where I lived – because that wasn’t the problem – I would change how I thought about what was possible for me whilst continuing to live here in Fukushima. If I looked around at what jobs were available, there were either none or some kind of English teaching role which I no longer wanted to do.

What I actually needed was to be flexible in my work. That would enable me to spend more time in my own country with my children. I also wanted to try out doing some of the kinds of work I would do if I lived in my home country or somewhere more metropolitan like Tokyo.

The first thing I did was bit by bit, start to quit everything I was doing that wasn’t flexible or required me to be in a certain place (like an online English teaching job that required me to teach from my home office). That was a crucial first step. Not only did it create space for new things to come in, but it also helped me to see that it wasn’t so bad after all to give up things that no longer worked for me.

Then I started creating interesting work for myself with the one rule that it had to flexible. One of the first things I did was to start documenting this transformation in the form of my podcast which is ingeniously named: Transformations with Jayne.

Seven years later I have gone through many transformations in my business and I see more coming down the line! All of these things I started as an experiment and with the information I gained from those experiments I moved forward in the direction that was best. 

COVER ART FOR INTROVERT PODCASTER JAYNE NAKATA. SHOWS. APHOTO OF JAYNE, A SMILING WHITE WOMAN WEARING A MUSTARD COLOURED HAT

WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU HAVE STRUGGLED WITH OR A PROBLEM YOU HAVE OVERCOME AND HOW DID YOU DO IT?

What did not come so easily to me was building the relationships that would help me to succeed in my business and my life in general. I always wondered why I found being around people so draining until I realised that there was a thing called an introvert and I was definitely one of them!

Being a parent who is an introvert can be a real challenge if you don’t have this awareness. After I realised that I was not “broken”, I just wasn’t an extrovert. I realised that I could manage my energy, manage or limit my face to face with people time and schedule in my recharging alone time.

At the level of business I want to be at, I need to be able to attend networking events or functions and not be that awkward person standing in the corner or worse too scared to even be in the room. Sometimes I would find myself at a conference and I would have to tell myself to just play hard for that time and know that I had scheduled in that recharging time later to recalibrate.

Once I got the hang of this, I realised that I didn’t hate networking or being in a room full of strangers, I just hadn’t had enough practice at it. The more I practiced with different situations, the stronger my muscles got and the easier it became and it also became and good use of my time. 

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS/PODCAST? (And Why?)

The impact that it has. I can see my clients blooming as they grow confidence in using their voice on their own podcasts. I see the opportunities that start to appear for them that are beyond their wildest dreams and often we can trace them back to their podcast. I also love that I can choose who I work with and usually the most amazing people come into my field, which tells me that I am doing what I should be doing. 

HOW DO YOU USE YOUR CREATIVITY IN YOUR BUSINESS?

I used to think that I wasn’t creative enough or good enough to do the creative work that is involved in the design aspect of starting a podcast. For example the cover artwork you see on each show. But I realised that I can be incredibly creative when I have some guidelines.

That might sound counterintuitive, but what I mean by that is when I have all the choices to make it can feel very overwhelming and I struggle to get started. But when someone already has said their brand colours, that gives me something to work with and then I enjoy working with the parameters I have.

And just like networking or building relationships that I thought I wasn’t good at, the more I do it, the better I get at it. I have also learned to trust that creativity that comes from nowhere, like the name for a new podcast that just pops into my head. 

podcasting mic with blurred equipment in the background

WHAT IS ONE THING YOU WISH YOU HAD LEARNED EARLIER IN YOUR BUSINESS JOURNEY?

Pay attention to what people are asking you for and believe them when they tell you that they think you can help them. All too often I would find myself saying “Who me? No I can’t help you with that”. But then after consideration realising that I could actually help that person, I did know what to do even though I thought that I might not be an expert on that topic.

Often you don’t need to be an expert. Just further along in the journey than the people you are helping. The reason I transitioned into fully focusing on podcasts was during Covid when my first client approached me for help with her podcast. I almost said no!

Luckily I realised that I could help her. I helped that first person and then another person asked me for help and soon enough I had become a very busy podcast launch and production agency even though I had zero plans for that on my 5 year plan. In fact when I look back at my 5 year plans I mostly just chuckle at how those plans no longer reflect what I want today, but I’m also grateful for them as they got me to start doing something. 

WHAT IS SOMETHING THAT YOU ARE REALLY PROUD OF?

Apart from the growth of seeing my clients blossom, I’m really proud of getting out of my own way to become an early adopter of podcasting in Japan and helping others to see that they could do it too.

Now we have a huge array of podcasts about Japan, many are by women and I like to think that being able to see podcasters like myself has helped other women to take a shot at it too. Aside from the podcasting community that this has created, this means that more people are able to hear podcasts that are for them.

This is why I started in the first place since I couldn’t find the podcast I was looking for: International Women in Japan doing great things. 

AS A MOM, WHAT WORDS OF ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER MOMS STARTING THEIR OWN BUSINESS 

There are so many things to do when you have your own business. Many hats to wear in addition to your parenting hat (which lets face it is also many hats all stuffed in under there!) Often I think we try to go it alone but when you find the right collaborative partner, it really gives you wings.

It might be just a weekly check in with someone to help stay on track or ask for feedback on your latest work. It could be a joint venture. I have found these successful partnerships by doing – again – some small experiments in the form of small projects.

When things went well, I was able to try something bigger. I encourage you to become familiar with as many aspects of your business as possible. You might decide not to continue to do them, but you will at least have a good grasp on what is required to fulfil that area when you go to hire people in the future for your team. 

flatlay of a clipboard with the words podcast, keyboard, headphones and mic

DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE BOOK/WEBSITE OR RESOURCE THAT HAS HELPED YOU WITH YOUR JOURNEY?

Recently I am really enjoying the Mel Robbins Podcast. She always seems to be able to call me out on things while also being completely flawed herself at the same time. I love her realness. Her challenges to listeners to try to do better come from understanding what it’s like to be all kinds of imperfect.  

CLOSING THOUGHTS…

Right now, if you’ve read this post and are thinking, well nice for you, but I have X situation, I’d like you to know that there was no overnight success, there were years my business did really badly and I wanted to walk away from things and get a steady job instead. But sometimes just not giving up is good enough. 

You might need to keep a (nice) part time job going like I still do today, that helps keep the lights on sometimes, but usually nothing really amazing comes from that. Everything that is surprising and interesting and challenging comes from the ripples I create with my business. 

I also don’t put the pressure on my business to be all the things to me. It doesn’t generate all my income, it doesn’t fulfil all of my interests and it doesn’t need to make me happy.

When I was seeing more and more success, I thought I had to scale it and make it the biggest business I could. But then I decided I like the size it is and I might even shrink it a little more so I can make room for other interesting challenges to come to me. For someone who really struggled with being a full-time parent of small kids, it’s also a surprise to me that now I do really want to spend more time with my kids now they are 12 and 9.

They need me in different ways now for a limited time over these next couple of years. Baseball and Volleyball Mum duty is about to increase but I’m super keen to be part of that with them (this is also a surprise to me!) so I see my business transforming again to have less “doing” involved. I don’t know what this looks like yet, but watch this space! 

LISTEN TO MY INTERVIEW ON JAYNES PODCAST HERE

WHERE TO FIND JAYNE

Website: jaynenakata.com
Instagram: @transformationswithjayne
Podcast: transformationswithjayne.captivate.fm

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