It’s no secret that your 20s are an absolute rollercoaster and a defining decade in your life. It’s a time of endless possibilities, struggles, triumphs, opportunity and emotions, and never has this been more true than in our current reality. From dealing with a global pandemic to becoming inspiring and powerful activists fighting for social change, the current era’s 20somethings are a force to be reckoned with.
Eman Osman and Angela Vannatter are the co-hosts of the Twenty Something Podcast, a show for young people who aren’t sure what the future holds but are stoked by the possibilities. From discussing gut health and beauty standards to relationships and goal-setting, this powerhouse duo is on a mission to empower and educate young people on building their ideal lives.
Below, they share what inspired them to create a podcast, their advice for aspiring podcasters and what we can learn from our current world.
Tell us about the Twenty Something Podcast!
Angela – Our podcast is all about celebrating the trials and triumphs of this culturally significant time in people’s lives. Our whole mission is to empower people in their coming of age, specifically Gen Z. We realized there was a bit of a void in Vancouver when it comes to a Generation Z voice and we want to just provide them the tools to reach their full potential. We have guests on the show who are experts in different issues 20-somethings experience.
Eman – We really want to give them a voice and tell their stories. The goal is also to be super relatable and provide value on things like self-care, finances and climate change, stuff that other podcasts in Vancouver sometimes shy away from discussing.
How did you both meet?
Eman – We met through school! We were in the student union together, I was the president and Angela was the marketing director. We always knew we wanted to start something like this where we could be creative, and it took a few months to be like, “what would that look like?” But we’ve always had a professional relationship through the student union which then grew into a friendship.
Angela – We had always known each other in a working context, and at one point we just thought, we’re nearing the end of our undergrad and both have talent and the desire to do something creative outside of our day jobs, and a podcast seemed like a great option!
Talk us through the process of launching the podcast!
Eman – So we wanted to launch really fast, and we had a mentor who agreed and was like, launch quickly and go for it! But we also wanted to start intentionally and give it some thought. We knew we wanted to start with a bang, so we actually planned a launch party for the first three episodes. We went all out, that took us about two months.
Angela – Yeah it was about two months! Like Eman said, it was all about being intentional and clear from the beginning, because a bad launch is when you haven’t really developed your identity or a specific idea. So once we had an idea and figured out things like branding, the launch party was a great first step. Podcasts are really followed by people in your community, so a party was a great opportunity for us to physically connect with our listeners.
Were you familiar with podcasts before this?
Eman – No, we didn’t really know anything. But I had a lot of video editing experience, and Angela works in PR so she’s great at reaching out, following up, securing guests and creating buzz. So we took our previous skills and applied them here!
Angela – Yeah, I always joke that I actually didn’t even really listen to podcasts until I had one of my own! but now I listen to them all the time because I just know what we create and do and so I appreciate them more.
So what does your podcast setup look like?
Eman – It actually looks the same as it did pre-COVID. We have a mic, a MacBook and then I have Final Cut Pro. Those are the things that I’d really suggest.
Angela – Yeah, it’s definitely not fancy, we always record at Eman’s place because it’s quieter. Nothing super extravagant. Initially, we said we would only have Vancouver guests because we could record in person with better audio, but because of COVID, it opened up chances for us to interview people abroad through Zoom, which has been amazing.
What was it like recording your very first episode?
Angela – When we recorded it, we didn’t understand the microphone fully and it picked up a lot of outside sound. We actually ended up recording our first episode three times because we were so intense about the sound quality.
Eman – We were also not super comfortable listening to ourselves at the beginning and were really critical of how we sounded. We were like, “I don’t like how I sound and so I think we should redo it.” That was something we struggled with a bit at the beginning, just finding our voice, but now we can just turn the mic on and start talking!
The way I see it is, all the greatest podcasts out there that we love, Skinny Confidential, Girls Gotta Eat, if you listen to their first few episodes, they’re not the fanciest quality at all.
But it’s so important to just launch and fix things as you go, rather than waste so much time ruminating over sound quality that you just never launch at all. Some of our episodes now are either amazing quality or less amazing, but the message of what you’re saying will be heard regardless.
I also think you just have to find humility in it, and at some point, you just stop caring. It’s so easy to be like, what will my peers and friends think about this? But honestly, you have one life and you should live it for yourself. There’s something so powerful about that.
Angela – While some people did think it was weird, there was so much positivity and that was really encouraging!
What was the early response to the podcast?
Eman – The early response was great, we were really happy with the downloads. I think the way you position yourself is important. We knew that because we were community-based and not a personal brand, we had to have that launch party. We had an amazing venue in Parq Vancouver and invited all the influential people we knew. We wanted to position ourselves as an authority in the 20something community and because we did that, people looked to us for advice and the response was really positive.
Angela – We always talk about online communities, it was really cool to see a community of people who had so much in common listen in and feel like they could relate to the content. It was powerful.
How far ahead do you plan your episodes?
Eman – We just decide and then go for it! It stems from our fields, I think. I work in a beauty startup and Angela works for a PR agency, so our working styles are different. Angela is organized and a planner and I have a method to my madness.
Angela – We do a lot of brainstorming with a guest bank of episodes, but on the week of, we end up just doing what we’re feeling at the moment.
Eman – Sometimes it’s as simple as just arranging a Zoom call for the upcoming Saturday and then being like yeah let’s do it. And honestly, I feel like that’s how everyone is these days!
Do you each have a favourite episode?
Angela – It’s funny, we have conversations about how an episode we’re launching is bang on, has strong messaging, is super powerful, but then other episodes we thought were filler end up getting more downloads!
Eman – The one I loved recording was the real estate episode. We brought two sisters, Breanne Williamson and Brooke Bell from @realestatesistersvancouver. I love real estate and interior design, so it was really great to speak with two 20somethings who work in the industry.
I also loved the Ugly Beauty Standards episode (episode 7), which was one of our earlier ones. This past month, I’ve gotten a bunch of comments from new followers who were thankful for that episode and said they could really relate to it. I think it’s because there aren’t that many people like me out there going on air and discussing the struggles of this age, and learning to love your Blackness, and people have been feeling heard.
How have you both been doing since COVID?
Eman – I have my days. On social media, it’s easy to be like sunshine and rainbows, I baked banana bread! But the truth is, I haven’t been baking or working out. I’ve been waking up, working till dinner time then going to bed. The realities of the world, current affairs, the Black Lives Matter movement, all these things have been contributing to my anxiety.
The words I would use to describe my COVID experience would definitely be anxious, helpless, but also strangely healing. Till now, I’ve never really had the chance to be off social media. But now I’m really taking this time for myself, understanding how I want to move in this world and learning to truly be myself.
Angela – I joke that it’s the universe’s way of making me slow down. Everyone around me knows I don’t slow down. I’ve definitely felt nervous, but there is also some peace and internal healing we are all going through. People are more attentive because there are things that are uniting us, and a pandemic and Black Lives Matter are examples of that.
This has made everyone pay more attention. It’s also made me think about what I want to consume online. In the early days of COVID, I was fearful of losing opportunities, but I feel like I’m a bit more adjusted now and have found some peace in all of it.
What is your advice for 20somethings who might be battling the comparison game with their peers?
Angela – I think comparison has a lot to do with fear of uncertainty and projecting that fear onto others. It’s a very inward mentality for sure. I think a great way to combat it is to really stop and think about your own strengths and figure out what’s important to you. That’s our whole mission, empowering people in their coming of age. We always emphasize that each person’s path is different, even ours as hosts.
Eman – I could look at everyone in my timeline who is having kids, for example, and compare myself to them, but I know for myself that starting a family isn’t in priority for the next 7 to 10 years, whereas someone else might think starting a family is a huge priority. Find the root of your passion and your “why”, and remove the fear. There’s no right or wrong path, there are just different paths!
Can you talk about the importance of community during this time?
Angela – We’ve used that word so much. The feeling you get when you put something into the world and it’s well-received and supported, is a feeling unlike any other, and I think we’re experiencing that right now. For example, we collectively decided that we wanted to address what happened to George Floyd with our own community in a way that made it accessible.
We felt a swell of support and thankfulness in all of us sharing our thoughts on the situation. It was so healing to showcase our shared experiences in such a literal way. I think the important thing with community is not to isolate ourselves, but COVID obviously makes that hard. Finding people you can relate to is so important, even during quarantine.
Eman – Angela put together an amazing list of resources in regards to #BlackLivesMatter. I could name 10 podcasts in Vancouver that hadn’t said anything about it, and I don’t think that’s real community. I took it upon myself to message influencers I knew and ask them to really think about their privilege and influence, and what they stand for.
If you’re standing for big brands like Fit Tea and Pretty Little Thing but not discussing huge topics like this, you’re not really having an influence. But things like this really reinforce my “why”. I’ve always done what I do for little Black girls and to make sure they never feel less than, and that feeling has only gotten stronger now.
What are a couple of key topics that you’re each particularly passionate about?
Angela – Consumer culture and the environment are big ones for sure. I’m also a person of faith and I get a lot of questions about that. I’m just really passionate about empowering people and sharing their stories, and those are the people I personally aspire to become. I’m so inspired by people who are making moves in the world and working everyday to build the life they want. I’m definitely a dream big person. Honestly, there is no consistency in our topics because there is nothing consistent about your 20s!
Eman – I’m super passionate about empowering 20somethings to fight fear and not let it fuel them. More specifically, I love health, beauty and self-care! I work for a beauty brand so that’s a huge part of my life.
What advice do you have for people looking to launch their own podcast?
Angela – Know your “why” from the start, and make sure everything you do is aligned with that. We’ve had to take breaks because there were moments where we felt we were uploading just for the heck of it. Understanding your why is SO important because that will give you the passion and drive to push through the actual work of producing a podcast, which takes a lot of effort and time. When you truly believe in what you’re doing, it’s all so worth it.
Eman – Your “why” cant be monetary or attention-based either, because podcasting isn’t that profitable. You have to be passionate about your subject, be willing to put your voice out there and be open to the response you get.
When it comes to actually launching, look in your network and find someone who has the skills you need and arrange time to have a conversation with them. Having a mentor was really important for us early on. One of our mentors gave us the venue for our launch party and our first mic. Do your research and go to that conversation with questions. On a more technical note, we use Spreaker to help distribute the podcast to iTunes and Spotify.
Angela – There’s definitely a huge learning curve but it just has to be done and it’s so worth it!
Who are your dream guests?
Eman – Elaine Welteroth, former editor of Teen Vogue, and Michelle Obama!
Angela – I’d love to have the hosts of Girls Gotta Eat on the show! Honestly, most of the people I want on the podcast are pretty accessible, but the more important part for selecting guests is figuring out how they can provide value to listeners beyond just us being fans of them. It helps a lot having different ideas and interests as hosts.
Are there any topics you haven’t discussed that you’re eager to explore in future episodes?
Eman – Gut health, optimal digestion, and diet culture are big topics for sure! There’s such a huge pressure for 20somethings who think they have to look a certain way or have to subscribe to influencer culture, so that’s an important subject.
What can you tease about upcoming episodes?
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