I was interviewed recently for an article in Pursuit Magazine about my Life Habits podcast series. That piece and a comment from a listener that I read in the Australian iTunes store got me thinking about the changes taking place in the ways in which people can go about improving themselves. In the not so distant past, the options you had for getting help for improving yourself were limited to finding and then visiting with a personal life coach or mentor (often a Psychologist in private practice), buying a book on a subject that you wanted to improve upon, or sending for CDs or audio tapes that you learned about from ads in magazines or on television. While these types of self-improvement still exist and can be quite useful, people aren't limited to only these for-fee options. People can now use their Smartphone or iPod type portable audio player to find and play thousands of podcasts on a wide variety of self-improvement topics. Listener Toni in Australia points out a key benefit of podcasts like mine, "...you get the feeling that he is your own personal coach/mentor." Despite using a fairly impersonal communication mechanism, listening to podcasts particularly when using headphones can often give the listener an intimate connection to the person on the podcast which has the effect of reinforcing the messages being given and making them more personal. In addition, the podcasts are free, come out with a new episode on a regular basis, and the best of them encourage two-way communication and a feeling of community.
A lot of people can be helped world-wide using podcasts. My own is popular in the major English speaking countries like the US, Canada, Australia, and the UK but increasingly it is also on the top 10 list of podcasts in countries like India and Singapore. Electronic delivery of mp3 files via iTunes makes all of this possible. It is quite phenomenal the increase in reach that these technologies afford and, in turn, the ability to have huge populations of listeners glean the benefits of these programs.
Of course, not all improvement can be self-improvement. Certain problems still require one-on-one attention from a professional. In the case of my podcast, I only provide the podcast material myself but I regularly invite guests to join me on particular episodes to address topics on which they are experts. Those guests thus far have been professionals who also provide individual counselling in their offices as well as technology-mediated sessions. UK Psychologist Mandy Kloppers does it all. She runs Mandy Jane - Life Design and has consulting rooms in Woking, Surrey, UK, but also provides counseling by phone, email, text, and Skype. She specializes in personal relationships, depression, anxiety, and self-improvement/personal development. US-based Marie-Josée Shaar runs Smarts and Stamina which is dedicated to providing "accessible, high-quality, scientifically-based healthy mind, body, and productivity information" to help "cultivate a positive work environment that promotes productivity, engagement, and innovation" by empowering clients "to make their best, most significant contributions everyday at work, at home, and in the world". Marie-Josée provides training to companies, counseling to individuals. and writes a great short newsletter. Kathryn Britton runs Theano Coaching and provides coaching, work group consulting, speaking, and teaching in all aspects of Positive Psychology. She is also an author and will be speaking on an upcoming episode of my podcast about her latest book Gratitude: How to Appreciate Life's Gifts. Kathryn's coaching focuses on "successful baby boomer professionals who are feeling the restless calling to make a greater positive difference in the world." I very much enjoy working with Mandy, Marie-Josée, and Kathryn and congratulate them on embracing technology-mediated self-improvement using the methods I've outlined here.
To participate in this iMentoring experience you simply need to subscribe to the Life Habits podcast within iTunes or go to the shownotes site. Recent episodes have included ones on taking things too personally and improving sleep. The latter episode was with Marie-Josée, and new episodes with Mandy and with Kathryn will be recorded very soon. Of course, don't limit yourself to my Life Habits podcast series, I'd suggest you check out the other fine self-improvement podcasts that are available as well and enjoy iMentoring.