Since the beginning of 2021. former Bismarck Mayor Mike Seminary has been shining a light on “needle movers” through his podcast Mike Seminary and Friends.
We sat down with the city leader to learn more about his foray into content creation.
What led you to start a podcast?
Driving to the funeral of a dear friend and mentor, my wife Deb suggested I launch a podcast based on a book I wrote but haven’t published, titled “The Wand Within.” I had interviewed 26 people about the pursuit of their dreams and careers. Some of the interviewees include former Governor Ed Schafer, Continental Resources founder Harold Hamm, EarthKind founder Kari Warberg Block and others. My wife has always provided great advice and keen insight, so after I retired from the civil engineering industry in December of 2020, I launched the podcast in late January 2021.
How challenging was the journey from idea to execution?
straightforward. I listened to a few podcasts, worked on how I would present mine, made a list of around 200 possible guests and lined up the first few. I was fortunate to work with my wife and the team at Q1 Network as they handled the back-end mechanics for launching content to podcast platforms and my website MikeSeminary.com.
Are there any specific problems that you’re trying to solve with this podcast that listeners can pay more attention to, or take as a call to action?
From the beginning, my focus was and still is to primarily interview what I call “needle movers”—people that have inspired or moved me by how they inspire and move others. With all the divisive nonsense in our world today I wanted to focus on folks with exceptional character and big hearts and emphasize the great “stuff” they were passionate about.
You’ve given a wide variety of people a platform to speak about themselves and their cause. Did you reach out to them to come on the show, or did they ask to be a part of it?
When you have walked this planet for 67 years, and for some 50 of those found ways to involve yourself in numerous causes and community organizations, you meet many people from all walks of life. Consequently, having prospective guests to contact is both easy and fun. After a few episodes, I started receiving guest suggestions from listeners as well as requests from individuals that would like to be on the show. As I type this information the 64th episode will air the week of April 11th.
Which episodes were some of your favorite to record?
That’s like asking a parent who their favorite child is. I’ve enjoyed every single guest and learned something from all of them. My guests have included entrepreneurs, authors, actors, artists, media company leaders, a sports journalist, leaders in education, a war correspondent, captains of industry, change agents and others. The episode that gave me chills was with my daughter, Lynsey. I learned something that briefly took my breath away. I believe that was episode 7, go to mikeseminary. com and give it a listen.
Some of the interesting details that stand out include a woman who worked feverishly to humanely deal with mice, a stockbroker that was called to a landfill in Nakuru, Kenya to work with kids, a guy traveling Africa looking for his brother, a young woman stricken with ALS who set a goal of competing in a marathon in all 50 states, folks with amazing side hustles, the woman that formed a world-class situational awareness training and personal safety skills company after a scary encounter and many more.
Who else would you like to bring to the show in the future?
Here are some names I am tossing around: Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, Enes Kanter Freedom, Morgan Pressel, Molly Yeh, Laetitia Mizero Hellerud, Hunter Pinke, Amy Olson, Mark Wahlberg and Ashley Cleveland.
What other podcasts or books have you been reading/ listening to lately?
Prior to planning Mike Seminary and Friends I hadn’t listened to a single podcast. Again, the suggestion and encouragement came from Deb, and she was already an avid listener. Now my partial list includes How I Built This (the first one Deb had me listen to), The Joe Rogan Experience, The Way I Heard It with Mike Rowe, SmartLess and The Steam Room.
Since launching Mike Seminary and Friends, I have read, on average, two books per week. Many are authored by guests, prospective guests, suggestions from listeners and books containing material that help me develop reasonably intelligent questions for guests. Recently I’ve read the following: Chechnya Diary, and Zakhrafa: Memories of a Disappearing Middle East both by Dr. Thomas Goltz, Being at Home in The World by Laetitia Mizero Hellerud, Broken Gifts by Tyler Auck, Szen Zone by Gary Szenderski and The Frontline Generation by Marjorie Eastman.
With your significant background in the Bis-Man area, what have you learned on the podcast that you didn’t know previously?
Interesting question. To date, and by design, less than 15% of my guests are Bismarck-Mandan residents. Dreamers and needle movers are everywhere, and I’ve been blessed to make friends with people from around the country. Sharing their stories, their dreams, their work, their struggles, lifting them up and hopefully connecting them to others was one of the objectives.
What advice do you have for others that are considering starting their own podcast?
Do it. If you have an interest in sharing stories, learning from others, learning about others, or maybe you just want to make a run at entertaining others, do it.
What plans do you have in the future for the show?
I am seriously pondering the value of a video presence, so maybe YouTube. More on that for another day.