In episode 17 we hear from Tough Girl Sarah Williams. After working in finance for 8 years, Sarah quit her city job and spent 18 months travelling the world, climbing Kilimanjaro, backpacking around South America and doing a ski season.
Sarah set up Tough Girl Challenges as a way of motivating and inspiring women and girls, and is the host of the Tough Girl Podcast where she interviews inspirational female explorers, adventurers, athletes and everyday women who have overcome great challenges. She now has over half a million downloads with listeners in over 174 countries.
Alongside this Sarah absolutely walks the talk with adventures such as the Marathon Des Sables and the Appalachian Trail under her belt. In this episode we hear about how she prepared for these challenges and what she learned as well as the harsh truth of what it was like day to day to complete them.
Sarah totally embodies her Tough Girl brand but also doesn't shy away from discussing the realities of this type of lifestyle. Sarah's Daily Podcast series shows exactly what it's like to do undertake a big adventure, which really helps to debunk the myth that it's all fun and games. A true role model for many, Sarah is destined for great things, the next of which is to cycle the Pacific Coast Highway and the Baja Divide.
Thanks for listening. Please get in touch with any comments and subscribe if you'd like to hear more.
Episode producer: Rachel Newson
Episode editor: John Tuttle
[00:00:54 - George Beesley] Hello and welcome to another episode of We Need More Heroes. We are still here in Guadalajara busting out the last couple of podcast episodes before we move on to Mexico City, which it should be really fun. 21 million people living now, which is pretty insane, but really looking forward to getting there and seeing what the city is all about. But now on to today's guest, and this is going to be a goodie. So after working in finance for eight years, she quit her job in 2013 and spent a year and a half travelling around the world, backpacking in South America, climbing Kilimanjaro and doing a ski season. In 2014, she created tough girl challenges as a way to motivate and inspire women and girls. And she hosts the Tough Girls podcast, where she interviews inspirational female role models. Be they explorers, adventurers, athletes and everyday women who have overcome great challenges. I should have taken some breath before I did that. Just run up the stairs again. Whoo! Okay, I'm gonna take you right over there. Okay, we go. The podcast has been extremely successful and reached half a million downloads. Boom. She has also done some adventures of her own, completing the marathon des Sables in 2016 and hiking the Appalachian Trail in 100 days in 2017. This year, she has also started studying for her master's degree in women and gender. So without further ado, Sarah Williams, welcome to the show.
[00:02:28 - Sarah Williams] Thank you very much for having me. What an introduction. I'm embarrassed.
[00:02:33] You've done loads of cool stuff. It's worth getting it all on that. So let's kick off with how we connected. So a few years ago, I discovered Dave Cornthwaite Yes Tribe and ended up going to Yestival , which is a festival less about electronic music and funky sunglasses, instead focussing on making positive changes in your life, following your dreams and all that good stuff. I highly recommend it if you have the chance. Definitely get yourself there. It happens every October down in Southern England. So there are loads of speakers that get you fired up. And Sarah was one of them in the year that I went. So I heard about your journey through podcasting and wanted to start a podcast of my own. So I asked you loads of questions and you really helped me get. We need more heroes off the ground. So thank you.
[00:03:24] Oh, that's amazing. It seems like so long ago now that. Yes. It was an incredible experience. This is just so much motivation and energy in the stories and the people. It's it's an incredible weekend. I really enjoyed it.
[00:03:40] Yeah, it's awesome. Whenever I described it to other people or had it described to me beforehand as as a positive change festival, I was like, God, that sounds terrible. But it was absolutely amazing. It was so, so good. We walked away feeling happier and just like you say, more motivated and energised and hugging everyone. Lots of smiles and just feeling ready to go out, whatever your dreams are, and make the most of life. So, yeah, it's a really, really cool festival. I really enjoyed it. So let's get started with some adventure. So you've done lots of cool adventures, but looking back, which one are you most proud of?
[00:04:18] I would have to be the Appalachian Trail just because I suppose in terms of duration for, you know, being out in the wilderness for a hundred days, putting my body through a hugely physical challenge. You know, I was walking about twenty two miles per day carrying everything I needed on my back. Walking the Appalachian Trail is the equivalent of walking up and down Mount Everest 16 times as huge elevation gains and descent. It was so physical. Not only did it impact me physically, I ended up losing about two stone in weight. But you know, the mental challenge of constantly being behind all the time. And so the third impact was possibly let the emotional challenge, especially towards the end. I was just I just could not control my emotions and I was just crying. And they weren't necessarily like tears of sadness or tears of joy. I think there were tears of just pure exhaustion. And my body say, when are we going to get to stop this challenge? So I think, yeah, the Appalachian Trail is is definitely up there.
[00:05:16] Yeah, it sounds like a bit of a beast. So you did it for 100 days and it's the equivalent of walking a marathon every day. That's a really extended period like over three months. Just relentless. What what was your training like for it?
[00:05:31] Well, it was it relaxed train because you do actually relaxed training. But I mean, I, I know I'm pretty strong and pretty for any way. I mean, I was working with a personal trainer, just a pack on muscle, and I was going out and doing sort of long walks more to get time on my feet. But I wasn't really preparing for the whole trip. I was just preparing for the initial first two weeks. I could hit the ground running pretty much so I could start out doing 50, 20 miles a day so that I wouldn't get too far behind. So it was quite I want to say it was like my training was really enjoyable. You know, I was outside, I had a couple of tough sessions, but nothing that could really prepare me for it. I think previously, because I'd physically trained for something like the Marathon des Sables, I knew how important the training was. And I was very, very methodical. I was ticking off everything I had to do each day, whether it was walking for five hours or walking for 12 miles, whether it was running or swimming or doing the stretching, doing the yo. Just make sure that my body was in tiptop condition. So that was really sort of the physical side of things. But I didn't really do anything special. I wish I'd done more health, but I live right by the beach there. My options sort of either like a coastal world, which I ended up doing to death when I was training marathon des sables. And then the other one is we've got a trail called the Wear Away, which is sort of 12 miles in one direction and twelve miles back, which is also pretty flat. So it was yeah, it was relaxed and gentle. I did. I don't think it got me ready. But I think you can have a really fully prepared for, you know, for a challenge like the Appalachian Trail.
[00:07:05] Yeah. And so for people thinking about doing the Appalachian Trail now, what would be a couple of top bits of advice?
[00:07:13] Oh, well, I definitely say do it. But I mean, one of the things that you hear all the time out on the trail is something called hike your own hike, because there's you know, there's a thousand ways to do to do the hike. And there's so many different people out there and there are so many variables as well. I mean, I was always a very sort of extreme person to go out to do in 100 days. I mean, just to give you an idea. Most people go out and do a through hike and that takes some train five and a half and six months to do a thousand thousands, thousands people set out to through hike. But they've really sort of underestimated the physical challenge of being outside, of being dirty and farell or having to carry your own food and not having access to luxuries and reality can be quite a shock to the system if if you're not sort of used to it. But what I would say is to persevere, to keep on going. Do your planning, do your preparation, do your research. Then also just give yourself time when you're over that never quit on a bad day. I mean, some of the days were just miserable. You all day it's been raining your feet sodden it and you get assigned to disintegrate. You wake up the following day, it's still raining, having to put on wet clothes. We've run out of food. You can't find your water source isn't the next two, three miles or whatever. And sometimes it can just be a tough old slog and you can fairly say you're never making progress. And the thing with Appalachian Trail is if you've ever seen a map of it, it's possibly like the size of a door and it's just go on for ever. See, I could be walking for two, three weeks and covered maybe an inch of the map. And it's very hard mentally to be constantly behind. So it's an amazing experience to do. I'd highly recommend it. But if you want to see what it is like every single day, the hype with the life was actually Vlogged the journey. So every single day I was recording what it was like being out there, just like, you know, little snippets. Some days it's like a three minute video. Other days it's like a 20 minute video. Generally, there's lots of tears. Most popular videos are when I'm sort of crying by myself and they twisted my ankle or something and being alone in the woods and how to deal with bears and snakes and everything else, but I would definitely do it. I'm not sure that's encouraging people to go into it, but it is an amazing experience.
[00:09:34] Yeah, it sounds great. I would love to try it one day. And I keep saying the marathon des sables because it's in Morocco. Is it in Morocco? Yes, it is. Yeah. So. But I'm not sure if that's how you supposed to say. I'm saying it's sort of French. I think you saw you say marathon des sables.
[00:09:50] So yeah, I say my going to solve but I've had I've had many people say that your way and many people that my way. So I'm not sure. Maybe it's like an accent thing. I believed it was French. And the translation is Marathon of Sand. So maybe I'm putting a bit of more of a French accent on it.
[00:10:04] OK. Cool. What's up? I'm not stick with Saab. So what would you say?
[00:10:09] MDS and MDS. There we go. Yeah. We'll meet in the middle. So MDS, that's also a beast of a challenge. Can you tell us a bit about that?
[00:10:18] Yeah. Well, when I, when I started with tough guy challenges, I was going out and give me a lot of talks about, you know, sort of adventure and challenging yourself and stepping outside your comfort zone. But I thought, well, I need to know what is talking the talk. I need to be able to walk the walk. I've got to put myself in a situation that scares me. And I'd run London Marathon five times before I'd run marathons before. And so running that distance didn't. It didn't scare me. I knew that I could do it. So my confidence was really, really strong in that area. But when I thought about the marathon to sobs, I was just thinking, this scares me. I was anxious. I got that for you in the ball in my stomach. I didn't know if I'd be tough enough, stronger if I didn't know how to train for. I just didn't know was something I was physically and mentally capable of doing. And I think that's all the reasons I wanted to do it so much was because of that fear. And I think the Martin ourselves got this sort of a mythical elements. It's been named by the Discovery Channel as the world's toughest foot race. I'm not sure it is now seen as the world Bolt's running has just exploded in the physical endurance challenges you can do now. Just insane. But it's definitely been one of the longest. And it's an incredible opportunity to head out to Morocco in it, you know, in a very safe environment to go out and run six marathons in six days throughout the Sahara Desert, carry everything you need on your on your back. There's actually I was watching the London Marathon this weekend and, you know, everyone was talking about the heat and the impact on their running. And it just makes me think I was only like 24 degrees. You running in like 40, 50 degrees some days and carrying on your back. And it's it's a challenging race. The more you look into it, not only from the physical side, but, you know, the men societies, that is your hydration is managing your food. It's making sure you're taking salt tablets. There's a lot of them. The more you start researching it, the more we start going into it, the bigger the space becomes and the more it takes over over your life. But again, it's this incredible experience. I mean, I remember being outside when one of the days athlete called a long stage where you gotta run fifty two miles in a day. I was running for the bus the other day and I was thinking, oh my goodness, I'm so unfair. I can, you know, I don't know how I even managed to do it. It's just it's just this distance. Fifty to fifty two miles. And on that day I passed through 30 miles and it was the sun was starting to get down and it was just, you know, I could remember standing there standing, looking out safe for miles, miles and miles. And I was just these rolling sun jeans. And for me it was that again. It's moments like that that will stick with me. If I absolutely ever I remember tightening up my backpack straps, taking some salt tablets, having some water, turning at the cheese and just running down these jeans like my life depended on it. And it just, yeah, it's a phenomenal experience. I highly, highly recommend it. Put it on your bucket list.
[00:13:13] Yeah. That's a beast of a run 50 miles, because it's it's on it's through the sand dunes as well, like you say. And it's not like you're running on the road.
[00:13:21] No. Exactly. And the train and a lot of train is sand dunes. But aspects of it are also like incredibly rocky. Like when I was like a bit like a lunar landscape. So it's very, very brutal on your feet. Which which does also make it make it more challenging. And especially when you're running in sand, it's some you you wanna take your fleet feet from the blisters and your feet will be sliding about. So you end up wearing I forgot what you call it now when they go over your feet.
[00:13:48] All right. Shoes. But then you get gators. You have like. Yeah, yeah, sort of.
[00:13:57] So they're all attached to attach to your shoes as well. But yeah, it's it's definitely more challenging than going out running, riding on a ride. I was actually very fortunate. My brother lives over in Australia, so I headed out to Melbourne for three months and was running out there. He lived by the coast. So I was just running on sand in 40 degree heat for.
[00:14:17] Good. Two and a half, three months before the race. I was very lucky to be very well acclimatised and very used, drinking copious amounts of water. And I also love the heat as well.
[00:14:28] Give me give me heat and sunshine any time rather than the cold and the Arctic or downtown.
[00:14:34] And did you find any good resources or where would you recommend people go if they're thinking about looking into that?
[00:14:41] That's a great question. Partly because there is there is a lot of information out there about Martin to SOB's, and it can also be incredibly overwhelming. So what I mean by that is I actually joined the Facebook group. I started to read through, like, all these Facebook messages. And I was like, oh, my God. But I'm not running a marathon every other weekend. I'm not doing this in my training. I haven't done that. And what can happen is it could get incredibly overwhelming. You know, I have actually written a book about my experience, which I don't really highly recommend. Tough girl in the Sahara. And that gives a lot of information about kit, less mental preparation, physical preparation, pretty much everything that you need to know. But what I'd say is you've got to go out, do research, but you've got to pick and choose what is going to work right for you. And it's very, very different. You know, if you are six foot six guy, he's carrying X amount of weight. It can be very different if you're a five foot woman, even in terms of the amount of water that you're going to conceive. So for full day petite women, there's too much water provided for. Very because the water is. But for big, big guys, they're going to struggle to get the water in because it's possibly not going to be enough for them. So and it's also, you know, food and calories. What does your body like? Because there'll be discussions around should you take jowl? Should you be fat burning? Should you take your carbs or protein? What's the best way to recover? So is very much about you having your own internal confidence and testing things out and trying different foods to see how they work, trying different trainers, understanding your body and what plays well for you. You might like to run in compression gear. You might think, actually, no compression gear doesn't work for me. I want to run something a little bit, Lisa, even the Cullity shot. You add you want to black Blackwood. You want a wear white. Debates over it. So it's very individual. There's a ton of information out there and a lot on the Web site as well. But you've got to do the training, go to mental preparation, and then you just got to have that in a confidence that you've done the work that is going to work out for you. I mean, those instances when people who didn't do didn't do the training or didn't do the preparation, we were out in the tent and a guy was. That is right. So I've got the gators. How do I attach to my shoes? Well, with the gators that he'd bought, you actually needed to go to see the foot person. So the Velcro on your shoes. Basically, he brought out the gators to the desert and they weren't going to work. He had no way of attaching them to issues. And I remember on the flight back, I was sat next to a woman. Oh, you know, how do you how do you own how your race use? All I had to drop out after the first stage, and I was just quite sort of gobsmacked. I was like, I didn't understand how anybody. I mean, the first Aztec rule was brutal and horrendous. A lot of people did drop out because of the conditions. But she basically said, I just underestimated I've done an Iron Man previously and I just thought it would be the same. I just I mean, it just wasn't. And that's an expensive mistake to make because you're actually, you know, you're paying three and a half grand to go out there and do it. You don't turn up on the day. And, you know, less than four hours into this five day multi-stage, six day multi-stage, ultra endurance race, you know, you dropped out. Taken back to a town where you got it. You know, you got to pay for your hotel and stuff. So there's it's got to do preparation. It's like anything in like the more you put in, the more you're going to get out.
[00:17:57] So there you go. And yes, don't underestimate it. Do lots of prep and buy Sarah's book and then you'll be good to go. And do you have any more adventures planned in the books now?
[00:18:11] So it's actually a really interesting time for me at the moment because I've always had a plan or I've always known what I wanted to be doing. And even back back in November 2016, I knew exactly what my 2017 was gonna be like. First couple of months they preloading podcast episode through hiking the Appalachian Trail and then coming back to start my university degree. So I finished my my master's. I had my dissertation on all the study first and then after that I can't really see anything good at the moment. I actually I moved back home to live with my parents while I built up tough guy challenges to enable me to afford what I what I did. But I've been in my parents now for four years. I'm thirty six years old. It's you know, I this cannot go on forever. I've got to make the next move. So I'm in this really challenging time is why I just don't know what the direction is or where I want to go and what I want to do. And I've got this sort of blank slate, which I know one hand sounds incredibly exciting because it's all these opportunities that sometimes I can always be too. Which choice? And you get that indecision, not knowing which choice to make and what direction to go. I don't know is. If I can make tough challenges financially viable enough that I can can actually support me living independent, travelling. I don't know if that's going to happen. I also don't know if I think, you know what? I've actually got to to end things now and actually go and get into the real world again and go back and get a job and start earning money. And I'll think about boring things like retirement and a house and whether or not I want a family. So I'm at this real crossroads and it's it's unsettling, I would say. And anybody who's been in this position will probably know how I'm feeling. It's very it's it's just a difficult time, I think. I like having a plan. I like knowing what I'm aiming towards. I like having a goal. I like having that nothing purpose that drives me. And I feel very lost without that direction.
[00:20:08] Yeah, I know exactly what you mean, and that's something that I, I think I feel to some people love having nothing on the on the to do list, no projects. And I think it's just about who you are as a person and what sort of gets you going. But there's a really good talk by a guy called Barry Schwartz on Tedd called the Choice Paradox or something. It's about how we think that we always want more choice. And if you go into an ice cream shop and they've got three flavours or 10 flavours, do you think you'd want the one that had 10 flavours? Because it can give you so much more choice. But actually, when we met with that, we have much more regret. And we we look back and we always think, oh, should I've come for this one instead? And I think you can apply that to life more generally, just looking at. Now, we do have so many choices. A couple of hundred years ago. If your dad was a cobbler or a minor, then that's what you were going do. If you're a guy anyway and if you're a woman, then you would stay at home, look after the kids and everything was it was a hard life, but it is very straightforward. It's very simple. And now we we love having all of these choices. But in some ways, it's it's definitely a first world problem, but it's a very real problem that a lot of us struggle with. And so it's really, really tough to know what to do. But the podcast is doing really, really well. And I'd love to just give listeners a little bit more colour on the Tough Go podcast. Can you just tell us a little bit more about about it?
[00:21:35] Yeah. So, I mean, I suppose what started was I was going into schools giving these motivational talks and I've spoken to these young girls about their goals and their ambitions and the constant responses I was getting if I want to be a whack Odama a footballer. And I was just thinking, oh, this cannot be off each future. How can we have the young women growing up en masse so that to me their sole ambition? No, there's nothing there's nothing wrong with that. But it's just I won't say much more for them. I think I just went high and I just really I was just quite upset. Always make me think I was just flipping through the newspaper notes. I was like. Hold on. Where are all the women? Where are all the female role models? Why can't I see them? I think as I as I entered the you know, the adventure well, we certainly start coming across more more women. You women who climb mountains from the English Channel who've been to the untaught, they cross the poles, run around country, run three countries, sailed around the world. And I was thinking, wow, these women when I was growing up, I just didn't know that this was an option. And I wanted to sort of increase my message. And I thought, well, what's the best way of actually getting them out there? And I had a very good friend, Young, and he said, Sir, why do you sort of pull classes? You know, it's incredible medium to share your stories. You get to see these incredible women had a passion in their voices. You know, it's a new medium. It hasn't. It's not like YouTube. It's not like blogging. It's it's a different way of connecting with people. And I feel like I'm not technical, but let's give it a go. So I soccer Jeffco podcast on the fourth wall was in 2015 with four episodes and I was such a novice I had no idea what I was doing. I didn't even introduce myself or the first couple of episodes. I had a friend call me up, say sorry, I love your podcast. Nobody knows who you are, but you've never actually told anybody what your name is, what you d what your background is. And I write this like cringe worthy. Yeah. Hi, my name's Sarah and their favourite colour is paying and this is what I did. And you read out word for word. I listen but now I'm just outside to a movie divide. But what I've been doing is I've been pretty consistent with it. A new poke. I step aside. I've been coming out every single week. I built a community called the Tough Go try and I just continue to interview these incredible women. And it has is grown. It's grown. It's grown. So it's recently passed no half million downloads, which is incredible to think about that. It's been listened to in 170 countries around the world. But one of the biggest questions. But he probably got asked as well as well, how do you afford to do what you do and can you monetise the podcast? And I would say that, yes, you can monetise a podcast. And I have monetised Tesco not through sort of sponsorship. And I don't have ads on my podcast, but through a platform called Patron, which has been truly life changing. So May. But I don't think people truly understand the amount of work and effort that goes into producing content. And all my content is free and it is available and available to be listened to as 150 hours of it as a multiple blowpipes know. There's a lot of resources available and I think we all get into a stage now where people are suddenly waking up and saying, oh, hold on, if we like this content and we want to support our creators financially, nothing. It's free in this life. And if I listen to a podcast the week, then maybe I should be giving ten dollars or six pounds and sorry, six pounds a month, because that's actually going to be able to fund the websites and the running costs and the pace pace my time. I think it's just a little bit of a mindset shift.
[00:24:59] So, yeah. So that's that's the that's the podcast in a nutshell. It's something I'm hugely passionate about.
[00:25:05] I actually love what I do, you know, getting to connect with. These incredible women around the world, all different ages, all different stories, and we all to share them and to encourage other women to get out there and to go after their own personal time, just go on their own adventures. It's hugely, hugely inspiring.
[00:25:21] Yeah, it's an amazing avenue and a way to connect with really cool people and spend an hour or two with them who you would never normally be able to monopolise for that time and ask them all of the questions that you're that you're dying to learn from. But there are there is a lot to learn when you start a podcast. And I remember when when I first got in touch with you, gave me some really good advice, like have a few episodes ready to go when you start, try and be consistent and just start the podcast. But are there any other words of wisdom that you have for people wanting to start a podcast?
[00:25:57] Just be prepared for. You've got to basically commit, I think Tim Fischer said that you've got to commit to doing at least six weeks. And one of the key things is consistency. So if you can do it weekly, by all means, do it weekly. If you all see the busy and you maybe it's monthlies once a month, maybe it's doing in seasons, you've got to make the podcast what you and your lifestyle. There's no point. I only do weekly if you can't get out every single week because what you want to happen is you want people to get the routine. So my listeners know that every Tuesday, 7:00 p.m. U.K. time with a new podcast that fansites come to listen to and without fail, it comes out even when I was out on the Appalachian Trail. I preloaded in three months worth of content. But it is it some it's just putting it. It's about putting in the hard work and being really committed and passionate and just pushing on through, especially when I mean, just to give you say some numbers context. It took me six months to get twenty five thousand downloads and I remember my first month of getting twenty five thousand downloads in a month. And that's pretty mind blowing because these things take time to grow and develop. And my marketing budget is a big fat zero. It's me and the power of social media, but it's also the power of love. Mouth of people telling one another is all you need to an upgrade. Oh yes. I was in to and so and I think podcasting is its amazing medium and it also hasn't had that surge yet. And with all due. What's happening with all. You think about Alexa and and Google home and you know, Apple hype or whatever is audio is going to be the next big thing. A blogging that went from zero to was it now maybe two hundred million blogs and YouTube is just insane to try and build any sort of traction on it. But podcasting hasn't gone mainstream yet, but you get a lot of big cheeba, big Chiba's who wanting to come into the podcasting. Well, and we would like a lot of more celebrities now coming to the podcasts as well. And so as more and more people find out about podcasts, hopefully we can both be at the right time, at the right place as it does get old, not massive way. And just to be there and ride the waves. Yeah. Isn't it isn't it is an amazing medium.
[00:28:06] Yeah. And let you say I think we people haven't missed the boat yet. The boats definitely started going. The wave is really gathering traction. There's loads of podcasts out there now, some super popular ones. Some are getting sort of three million listeners or something like that, like the Joe Rogan experience or the Tim Ferriss show. But the cool thing is that you don't really need that much stuff to start up. But exactly like you say, it's it's not easy and it's not really worth starting unless you're really passionate about something because it takes a long time together. Any traction. And you mentioned patron before. That's a great way to try and monetise it. But again, that's going to take a while. And some people and to get sponsorships, everybody's fighting for just a few companies who give out sponsorship. So you have to have a wage, try and support it. Fortunate you can choose one avenue like mine, which is to release. Few a number of episodes, I don't get paid for anything like you in terms of sponsorships. We have a couple of brands who we really like who gave us a few bits of Kit, Cumulous and Garmin and Crosson, and that was really great. But I definitely don't go into it for the money I think would be my two cents.
[00:29:23] Yeah, we I think the other interesting needs to work out what you like doing. If you like writing and you're not really a massive fan of talking, then. Blogging is going to be your bag. And you like being part of a video camera and talking to a camera. Get on YouTube. But if you just like talk, which I see day and podcasting and podcasting is your friend. But yet it it's all about commitment and just being really dedicated.
[00:29:46] Yeah. And when people actually start, what are the a couple of mistakes that newbies tend to make that that you find a possible introducing yourself, which is what I did.
[00:29:57] I still haven't done that yet either. It's coming soon. Episode 20.
[00:30:00] Maybe that's a great question. I, I, I'm generally very relaxed, I suppose, with any news.
[00:30:08] New podcast is unless the sound quality is absolutely horrendous, then I won't listen again or if I'm listening. Honest festival starts talking in like my right. And then when the next person starts talking me to my left ear, I can't listen and I'll just I'm just bending it and ending it straight away. As long as the sound quality is 80 percent now and in the end the quality is there as well. And I get a good vibe, then I will continue listening. And generally, I quite like going on a journey with people and seeing how they may start out, how they grass and how they can about, as I know who I am as podcasts is very different. Yes, my first episode to my 100th from 100 to 150.
[00:30:48] Yeah, because it has been on my journey. I'm always like, no, I think we Bob and say you can make I really think you can because even just when I say was where will the time and sometimes people's names, I just that's a bunch of them. But I think actually I'm just being, I'm just being named as they will santé on.
[00:31:07] My pronunciations are absolutely shocking, but I think people are vari if you are truthful and you are authentic and you're just sort of inviting people on this journey with you. People are very understanding. Yeah. That's my belief. An incredibly supportive and well and what I need to do well. So I try and think of a Bible, say Popham, about all day. That's all I can think of.
[00:31:30] I think I think that's probably the key one for me. If the audio is really terrible, then it's gonna be unlistenable. And a quick thing that's fairly easy to improve. The audio is just to buy an external microphone. A lot of people by the 80s are two thousand one hundred or twenty one hundred. That one's pretty cheap and good to get you going. If you want to spend a bit more money than the blue Yeti is a good one. That being said, you don't have to have an external mike, but if you just want. If you have enough cash and you want your voice to sound a little bit better, that's a good one. And maybe a pop filter. I never used to use one of these, but that can really go a long way to helping you save time and edits afterwards. And yes.
[00:32:14] Do you on your podcast, Triple Phonic, to tidy up the sound quality at the end and run it through a programme called Isotope, which is a really good sort of the industry standard in Noise Rester. I say I run it through, I'm going to be running it through. I've just got this, this programme. But before that I used Adobe Audition, which is from their creative clouts. We. And that has lots of noise restoration and sound effects and that kind of stuff. So if you want to get rid of these guessing, which is when people say the let to ASIC can come across really harsh.
[00:32:47] So that's something really important for people to look at or background noises. It can take a sample of those and minimise them. And in breaths tend to be another one. And maybe, yeah, maybe maybe a good one for me is not to over. Edit when I did my first episode with Sean Conway.
[00:33:04] I spent probably about nine hours editing this thing, doing every single breath, every single pop and unclick. And I listen back to it afterwards and it sounded really robotic and terrible. I left no spaces between questions because I feel it needs to be sharp and it sounded really, really bad. So don't be overly zealous in the editing people. A few breaths here and that can actually make it sound a little bit more natural.
[00:33:30] I didn't say I did the exact same thing with my foot. My first one, like every little tiny mistake or error pulls. I just whipped it out, trying to make it perfect. I think if you if you if you're struggling with, like, perfection and wanting to be perfect, you just need to let it go and just be like this is how it is out of the business that I think people appreciate that.
[00:33:52] Yeah. Yeah. To building a successful podcast is more than just recording a few episodes and sending out a few tweets. It's really about building a brand. And you've touched on tough girl challenges. Is your brand. But can you tell people what it's like to build a brand and maybe a bit of advice? It doesn't have to be a podcast related one. Just what you've learnt about building a brand.
[00:34:15] I think that there's always two answers. That is, one is building a brand, but it's also is building a community. So I'll stop us with that, building a brand. And the reason I start with tough guy challenges is because I was quite scared of putting myself out that I didn't want to be Sarah Williams. I want it to be tough guy challenges. So for me, it was this layer of protection behind it. So we just had like this this company that I could hide behind. It wasn't me having to put myself out there and be vulnerable and say, well, actually, this is what I think. This is who I am, because I was scared of new people's judgements and opinions. And I think you just gotta be really authentic. I mean, I loved the colour pink. And the reason I like tough girl challenges was because I wanted to have the tough with the feminine and because I get interesting feedback about that all the time. So why is everything so painted like this? Just me. I love the colour pink.
[00:35:05] My perfume is pink when apple, which is pink tiles of pink, everything my life is paying and I think it's just being there. It's also about being consistent as well. We're trying to get consistent, getting a little cheap oil use social media channel so cheap Twitter handles your Instagram handle, linking everything up to your website.
[00:35:24] Having a degree of consistency through. And also I I'm of the belief that I am a living, breathing representation of my brand. So what I say in tweets, how I come across on social media when people meet me in real life, they should be like you are exactly the same as you are on social media. As you as you are real life. Some people try and distance themselves. But I think both ways what I think is I don't think that's one way of doing it. So now the consistency that that's always the key thing. People can also get too hung up on what is the right colours, what's the right logo. And that's the to a certain amount is important. But you don't want to stop yourself from creating a website and getting everything LinkedIn uploaded because you're scared of. Show I go for the show. I'd make it a red colour or blue colour or whatever else it is. But along with building the brand, I think the most important I mean, the brand is is important. I love Tesco. The most important thing for me has actually been the community around it. So it was very important to me to build relationships, to connect with my listeners, to understand what they're going through, how I can I body to their lives, what do they need me to focus on. And I have history that I received incredible feedback because it was like I would level these interviews that you're doing. It's great, you speaking to these Olympians and these women who you have run the length of country and run 100 marathons in 100 days and done all these great challenges. But I'm a working mom. I want to be able to run a five K. Can you speak with ordinary women? And that was quite a guy who knows me, knows I absolutely started interviewing real women. These women who have who've got children who still do these training. And I mean, the classic example, I mean, I haven't spoken to her. But, you know, the lady who came second in the Boston Marathon, who works full time job is a nurse. Those are the stories which you're reading, I find quite interesting. And then I started something called Seven Women, Seven Challenges, where I took the seven women from the tough girls. Right. We followed their challenges throughout the year. So they shared what they were going to do. And then every sort of two months would catch up with them to see how this guy. What was the problems they were having? What were the low points? What were the high points? And it was a fascinating journey to go on for all of these women because goals change and there were setbacks, but it was how these women go through it. And I think it was really, I think so many individuals listening because so often all the hey, is the success. Oh, she completed the Appalachian Trail. She ran the marathon Sovs. She rode the ocean or she did whatever is. But no one gets to hear about the pain and suffering behind the scenes and actually how challenging it was to even get to the start line. So I think that definitely brought in some realism. I also try and with the community from the feedback it was asking me, Sara, like, how do people afford to do it? And, you know, that's something I've started to ask my audience more as well. How do you pay for? How did you get that sponsorship? What were the Connexions? That can be hugely interesting. So to me, it was it was building the community while I built the brand at the same time. I can't really add value and and make a real difference in people's lives. And that's that's been the most important thing for me. And I think we can do that with the community. The brand will fall out and then people will want to buy your merchandise, will want to buy you, but will once become a patron and will want to support you because they become invested in you. They believe in you and they trust you. And they want to see you succeed. And I think that that's what it comes down to. Really.
[00:38:56] Yeah. I think that's a really interesting point that you brought up about. It's great to have the sort of superhero type people on who just seem unfathomably dissimilar to us. And you're like, wow, we had an amazing climber, Conrad Anker, who's who is one of my heroes. But for a lot of people, it's great to hear the stories from those people, too. But then if you just interview those type of people a bit like they do on the Tim Ferriss show, it's really the best of the best. The super one percent of the one percent. And they're giving advice and they live these lives that are so unrelatable to mere mortals. They start their day with an hour of meditation and they go and do a tea ceremony and they've got all this free time. And then they go and work out the best personal trainers in the world. And then they go and have lunch with Bill Gates. And it's like it's interesting to hear sometimes. But in terms of advice and how you get started and being relatable, it's also really interesting to mix that in with just everyday people. So that's been another lesson for me, trying to vary the guests as well. So if people are thinking about starting a podcast, then that might be something to keep in mind. Absolutely. And now you are studying for your masters in women and gender. So can you just talk a little bit about that?
[00:40:15] Yes, I believe so, I am very happy to get up on a, say, 100 people and talk about my journey and the challenges and goal setting a mental toughness and mental resilience and all of these all of these areas. And I'm very much about, you know, I want to increase my female role models in the media. I want equality. I'm a feminist. I believe in all of that. But then I get to the point where I'm just I don't I don't understand what is happening in our world and ourselves and to get very frustrated. And what I realised is I now have a platform with tough girl challenges and I've got a good voice. I can use and I want to be able to share this message, but I need to be able to understand the message that I feel comfortable and confident. And, you know, working with the spies, working in banking via a male dominated industry. I was just so used to seeing the inequalities and the sexism and everything else that was happening. And I sort of got too used to it. And by going back to do my master's, it's this two benefits. One, it's mentally challenging, which I need some sort of mental stimulation. But to it's also this opportunity for me to learn to say, okay, how can I actually make a real difference? What are the problems? What are the issues?
[00:41:30] And it's an opportunity for me to be quiet and to listen and to read and to write and to just spend this year educating myself on the problems so that I can understand the problem and then I can hopefully go out and make a difference. And let's not say it's been easy in terms it would. What would the physical challenges, the mental challenges give the Appalachian Trail? Give me running marathons any day because I go back to university at 36. I'm a lot older, a lot more mutual. And it's definitely a challenge. And you sort of dealing with this imposter syndrome and you're sharing your opinion and people have different opinions than you were discussing it. And it can lead to arguments. And it's like, well, and I don't like confrontation. So it's quite a unique perspective to be in. But it's something I'm really enjoying it.
[00:42:17] You know, I'm very passionate about the subject, but it's either so quickly or at this point. And what will more I say. Then I wrote my dissertation and then I'm then I'm done. So I think it's just something I wanted to do. I wanted to follow my passion for my interest and see where this next step is going to take me.
[00:42:34] Yeah. So it seems like the landscape is changing and more women are getting into adventure after and after talking to so many strong female role models. What advice can you give to women looking to get into adventure and maybe some advice more generally?
[00:42:52] Oh, definitely. I think know I think it honestly is amazing that Imus is probably seen as well like the past couple of years. That just seems to be incredible women out. That man isn't even to be black to them. Poor, pilloried and pitch do it. But you know, Charlie, say, say, and you may say Shapard anonymous enough. There just seems to be more and more women out there who are willing to share their stories. But that is my one key thing. I would say about adventure is your adventure doesn't have to be some incredibly exotic, amazing long challenge, depending on your situation where you are, whether you've got children, maybe a single, whether you got a mortgage, you know, the hours you're working, your adventure could just be going out for a walk and exploring the different parts of where you live. It could be just going out for a living under the night stars. It could just be a can be yes. Stories or stepping outside of your own personal comfort zone. So a space where that comes back to you, very easy to look at everyday, these incredible challenge and think, oh, I could never do that. And you start comparing yourself to other people and it's like, please, please, please don't do that. Because the amount of messages that I guess women say, well, Sarah, I could never do that in my head on screening, saying, yes, you can, but please don't compare yourself to me. Not everybody. Not everyone is the guy reticle sa does it nivo. Let's go through what the Appalachian Trail but the is Apsley. You go to find your passion, your interest, what drives you and you can find adventure in anything. And it could be walking, running, swimming, yoga, meditation, whatever it may be. And I think the key thing is as well that it can be quite scary to start. So find you'll find your trifling support network cheque out, love her while cheque out the adventure queen, cheque out the tough Tuscola Tribal. Im running the place closed Facebook group. That is so much the pool out there. There's so much encouragement. And what I found from being in this space is that it's not about competition, it's really it's about collaboration. It's about supporting government and one another and just encouraging and encouraging people to get out there and to really go after their dreams and just to give it a shot just to try. I think that's the worst thing to me, is when people won't even try. They won't even attempt to. They get so overwhelmed by everything. And all we have to do is take that to take that step. Adventure is all around us. Just find your own personal adventure and just do it for you.
[00:45:13] You have such a. Key, important message, we've talked about it quite a few times on the podcast, but it's just so, so key that you can have adventure just over a weekday. You just go out, sleep in the woods and then go and shower at work the next day. Alister Humphries is amazing at talking about this. And his whole concept of micro adventures really I think is a great way to get people into adventure. We were in a school the other day just talking to kids about getting more more adventure into the everyday. And Mexico has a major obesity problem. I think they've got something like 70 percent obesity rate.
[00:45:49] And I don't I don't know which demographic that's in, but there's basically a lot of very unfit people.
[00:45:53] And with technology really reaching Mexico here now, a lot of people spend time in TV inside watching TV, playing on their phones. And it was really cool to just spread the message of adventure to these little kids from 12 to 15 years old. And we were starting them off on tiny little ideas like just sleeping on the back in the back garden, getting used to that and even putting a tent up. We'll just bringing you quilt out and then go and sleep on top of the hill and just escalating it from there as you become more and more comfortable. And it's surprisingly exciting. I remember when we went out with Dave Cornthwaite just for a midweek sleep in in the local woods. It's such a small and easy adventure. But it was so much fun and it was the best Friday ever when I went in, just knowing that I'd done slept out in the woods with some friends and then come to work the next day. It was it was such a good start to the weekend. It was really, really cool way to kick things off. So highly recommend people give that a go. And now I'd just like to ask you a little bit about your reflections, looking back. So thank you so much for your time. Just a couple more questions. There's there's that great quote that's often attributed to Emison, but I don't really know who said it. And they say, life is a journey, not a destination. And it sounds a bit corny and it's been overused, but I think the sentiment is great. And you've now built this really successful podcast and brand and inspired so many people. Do you feel fulfilled now? And how is it really, really been along the journey to entice such a great quote?
[00:47:25] And I love it. And I think for a very long time people I'm very, very goal driven. I would not want to become the job right. Done next across the Theissen, American dissolves. Got no rubberneck. I didn't even take that time out to appreciate it and reflect on it. I was always so busy focussing on the next day, the next destination, that I forgot to enjoy the journey. I think over the past two, three years, it's really made me think about what am I doing? What am I doing everyday? How much spending time? Am I happy? Am I feeling fulfilled on? The answer is yes, because I am. I mean what I mean. When I went down to London playing a couple of weeks ago and it was lovely to catch up with all my sort of my old uni friends and catch up with some work colleagues and stuff like Adderall, which is running around or glasses, say misuse and stress that my emerges like I'm so relaxed I couldn't stop smiling because I'm thinking I'm not one of those people anymore. I have this freedom of choice is freedom. Either my life in this sense of fulfilment and knowing that I'm making a difference, make little change. And that's been that's been incredible. But that's not to say I've tried to be really open on say, look, it's not all sunshine and roses without any reason. I can do tough guy challenges because I have muerto time not you know, I live with my parents and it's been a long, hard slog. And I've invested, you know, all the all the money is being gone. It's all been spent and blood is going into this. Sweat has gone into this. Tear's has gone into this. And you do have these incredible lay moments. And I see well, the things that I did last year was I started a daily podcast up. So at the end of every day, I would just shat was you hurt me in my day, Ormet so I could reflect back a year later, two years or three years later down the line, I can go back, listen to what I was doing in twenty seventeen and be like, oh my God, remember when you were feeding really despondent, you had that blip or that didn't happen or that thing didn't come through well when you had that many success. And that was another stepping side. And I think that's going to be really, really powerful because I know it's going to happen in a couple of years. Oh, Sara, it's so easy for you. You're so lucky. And I want to be Healthpoint people back and say, no, no, no, this is not luck. This is hard luck, sweat and determination. And it's you know, it's it's hasn't been an easy journey by any stretch imagination. But this is definitely the right path I need to be on.
[00:49:52] Yeah. I love that you did that because on social media, we see all the good bits and all the biographies that you that we read the the biographies of those who were successful. And you sort of get this idea that some people are just amazing and they just turn their hand to something and all of a sudden success comes. And if it doesn't happen to us and we're not happy all the time, there's something very wrong with us. But the reality. She is really different. That it's very hard to get there and you have to go through a lot of struggle and challenge and sacrifice. So I think that's a really good way to give a more honest reflection of a journey through anything but podcasting and particularly definitely I was thinking about it.
[00:50:28] So my Instagram story, because that's when it's run. We started up. I was sharing what I was doing. And generally it's me in my bedroom editing podcasts or interviewing people or doing social media. I think people were Sunnyland like, oh, wait, you're just you're not at the gym all the time. Drinking protein shakes is like, yes, I still go to the gym. I do my exercise, but that's like an hour of my day. So you have the other 14, 15 hours I'm, you know, in my bedroom working by myself. And it's that, you know, it can be very sort of lonely at times when it's just you and you in this environment. And I've wanted to be really transparent with people. And just because I think too many people are almost actually in the adventuring world all taking it like me. But I, like, fake it till you make it. And so it's like, yes, look at me. I'm doing all this wonderful stuff and I'm successful. And it's and I want to say people, look, it's great that I get sent a pair of socks and equipment, but actually Socks isn't paying any of my bills. Socks isn't allowing me to move out of my my parental home. And I think that's when people really start to say, oh, it's not this this glamorous, amazing lifestyle. It is tough for you. Whatever you do, it is tough. And you got to put in put in the hard work. And and that's what you what it what it comes down to.
[00:51:44] So do you want really realistic life adventure at the moment. That definitely follows me on Instagram. Well, that might be pretty boring.
[00:51:52] The show is called We Need More Heroes, but the word hero has a lot of different interpretations and means lots of different things to lots of different people. So what does the word hero mean to you?
[00:52:08] To be honest, it's the everyday women I and so we Skype sound very spoilt on Violet Dafter. You know, if they say, no, I don't have any children, I don't put my suit. I don't do my washing. I don't sell a car with petrol. I got a call to drive and which is ridiculous. I visited my friends and I'm looking around, you know, these women who will never get like two kids working a full time job. They're still going out training or running marathons or running ultramarathons. They all the other heroes. I mean, I, I don't know how they do it because. It's exhausting. I'm exhausted doing what I do. But I can't imagine, you know, managing a family at the same time and competing and balancing everything that, you know, women and men have to do. So for me, it's it's everyday women who are just smashing out the part that getting up every day, getting dressed, that they are getting it done. That for me is just inspiring. Anybody who's out there who does have a family, they all my my essay heroes.
[00:53:10] I love it. Great answer. And do you think that heroes are born or made? Is it nature or nurture?
[00:53:16] Good question. They know all they need. I think they're made. I think it's not. I think it's through going through the tough times, challenging times that it does make you stronger. Well, it will help you grow and develop as a person. Every setback, every failure. I do believe this. It does make you stronger because, you know, you are learning from it. That's what that's what makes the hair. God, it's cliche after cliche. But here is when you get a knock knock down, you have to get back up. And being somebody who has, you know. I did the white collar boxing and got knocked down. Now, you know, I got nothing get knocked down. Sorry. I got hit very, very hard. The reason I know it was hard because eight hundred people watching me fight and you just had this massive oh. As I got punched in the face and and that and I think going back and he's still having another round to fight. People have these experiences that may not necessarily register straight away, that they're having these experiences and they getting through them every single day.
[00:54:18] But you will look back and think, wow, I got through that and I persevered and I survived. I'm since hundreds just about keeping on going.
[00:54:29] Yeah, definitely. That's great. Sarah, thank you so much for your time and coming on the show. It's been great. We've had amazing podcast tips and it's awesome to hear about your adventures. So thank you so much.
[00:54:39] Thank you.
[00:54:40] And everybody, thank you for tuning in. So until next time by.
[00:54:47] There we have it. I hope you enjoyed this one if you did. Spread the love and share it with anyone you think would also benefit from it by sharing it on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag. We need more heroes. Connect with me on Facebook and Instagram. We need more heroes. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. And in fact, any of our other episodes. So get in touch. We need more heroes, doxy. Oh, thanks so much for tuning in and sharing the love. And thank you again to today's sponsors C to summit cross bikes, Garmin and Cumulous for making this show happen. You've heard the magic. Now do something with it and be the hero in your own story.