Q&A with Riane Puno | Founder and Host, Alma Matters Podcast
Posted on January 23 2020
Tell us about your career path leading up to starting your own business:
I graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and when I was there, I was recruited into the Bloomingdale's Executive Development Program after a successful internship. After spending 6 months as a full time Assistant Buyer at corporate Bloomingdale's, I realized that the ultra-corporate life wasn't for me. Much to the dismay of my traditional family who thought I should stick it out, I left the job and went on to work in adtech, a space I thought was booming at the time, as a marketing associate. Naturally, I realized it wasn't for me – another thing I wanted to cancel out! – because it felt like a young, impersonal company and a complex industry that I wasn't particularly interested in getting to know. After a second 6 month stretch, I left the company to land at a place that I absolutely love and beautifully balances out everything I want out of a workplace. Throughout it all, I thought of how much I wish I had some kind of resource that helped me in the discovery of different careers and success stories - thus, the birth of the Alma Matters podcast.
What made you want to start your own business?
I really enjoyed my internship at Bloomingdale's but an internship shows you what you want to see, not necessarily the cold and hard reality of a career. I realized it was not at all what I wanted to do - it is the ideal job for others but I wanted more creativity and autonomy out of my job. Then I thought about how much people could probably relate to that feeling and conceptualized the podcast as a way to help others navigate their futures in a more productive and guided way. Being unhappy at work, being lost when it comes to your future ambitions, joining a company because you think that’s what society wants you to do but not what you really want to do – these are all cyclical trends and I want to try and break the cycle by asking accomplished people all the questions that students, young professionals and whoever else struggling in a job wants answered too.
How did you go from idea to execution?
This sounds crazy but I literally thought of the idea one day while listening to a podcast and thinking, "I love this but I can't RELATE to it." It felt like a lot of the people speaking about their success in podcasts started from a place of knowing what they wanted in life. But what about the lost and confused? That was me and I wanted to hear someone empathize with and relate to that experience. That night, I bought $50 Amazon microphones and emailed 100 people about being guests.
What were some unexpected hurdles you faced when starting your business?
I face hurdles literally everyday and the biggest one is simply getting the word out there about the podcast. It's such a saturated space with hosts who are much more established in other industries, whether that be entertainment or sports or the influencer space. Converting people into new listeners continues to be my toughest challenge because there's limited time in the day. How do you convince people to spend 45 minutes listening to you?
Best advice you’ve received?
Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. In college, in jobs, in life, people want to be the smartest in the room but that's a disadvantageous spot to be in. The place where you really grow and develop yourself holistically is when you embrace the wisdom and the knowledge that other people can bring into your life.
What does Support Your Local Girl Gang mean to you?
It's all about women empowering women. Providing resources that help others rise and doing so selflessly.
Favorite books, podcasts, tools, and or apps:
I love Armchair Expert and Second Life - both have become big sources of inspiration. Also, unrelated but if you haven't read A Little Life, read it and get ready to cry buckets.
Head to www.almamatterspod.com and follow @almamatterspod on Instagram. Always taking guest suggestions and questions you want answered so submit a question through my DMs or the question form on the website!