In the latest of our profiles of women making brave and inspiring changes in midlife, we talk to Ashley Milne-Tyte, who launched The Broad Experience podcast to highlight the big issues facing women in the workplace today. She’s British-born but has lived in New York for the last twenty years.
The Broad Experience podcast
What made you decide to do what you do?
In 2012 I was doing a four-month course in entrepreneurial journalism and as part of the course we each had to give birth to a media business. As a longtime radio reporter I knew I wanted to launch a podcast. I also knew I wanted it to be about women. I really enjoyed listening to Woman’s Hour every time I was back in the UK – there’s nothing like it here in the US. But I soon realised I couldn’t go as broad as Woman’s Hour given it would just be me producing and hosting this podcast. So I honed my topic down to women in the workplace. I’d done some good stories for my former employer, a business show, along those lines. And I’d also begun to have my own experiences at work that for the first time made me think long and hard about the role gender played in my life – at work and elsewhere.
Why did you wait until you did to make the change?
It wasn’t a question of waiting. I’m one of those low-confidence people who would never have thought she could do such a thing as start her own show if I hadn’t been in a setting where I had to launch something. I was pushed into making a pilot by my professor.
How did you make the change? What or who helped you?
I went out and did the interviews for that pilot podcast and then edited and mixed the whole thing. I’d never done that before (always thought of myself as bad with tech) but it was a question of necessity being the mother of invention. And I do have my professor to thank for giving me that all important push.
How did your family and friends react?
How has your life changed having gone down this path?
I’ve become a media entrepreneur. I’m earning way less than I feel I should be at my age and stage, as podcasts don’t pay well unless you have hundreds of thousands of listeners. So I have to keep working on a hotchpotch of other things – and I can’t help but be conscious of some of my friends’ salaries and titles. But doing the show has been rewarding to an extent I couldn’t have imagined.
I get emails from listeners all the time, some from as far away as Australia, telling me about what a difference the show has made to their lives. I’ve learned so much during all the interviews I’ve done, and I’m building a fantastic community of women who care about the same things I do. On the days I’m not thinking about what I ‘should’ be earning at my age, all this feels very empowering!
What advice do you have for women considering a similar life change?
If there’s something you’re burning to do and it won’t obliterate your family or other life, do it. Just don’t expect success to fall right into your lap.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known in your twenties? What would you tell your twenty year old self?
I could go on and on. I didn’t know anything in my twenties. I wish I’d been more career-minded. It’s quite funny that I’m doing a show all about women’s experiences at work when I haven’t traditionally thought of myself as ambitious. Back then all I wanted to do was earn some money and be surrounded by nice people. I wasn’t aiming for the top at all. Among many other things I wish I had been more conscious of how to advocate for myself – or rather that I should advocate for myself.
The only career advice I can remember getting came from my dad. I adored him but it was lousy advice: work hard, and you’ll be recognized. Too many women buy this and it’s just not true. We beaver away, expecting the rewards to come, but the workplace is political. There’s so much more you have to do to get to the next place you want to be. Hard work alone isn’t enough. While you’re bent over a screen all day and into the evening, some guy is asking for a raise or to take on another project. Also, negotiate! Don’t accept the first salary offer you get. The book Ask For It should be required reading for any woman entering the workforce.
What are the most important business and/or personal lessons you’ve learnt along the way?
I’m still learning the business lessons. One of the hardest things about doing your own show is letting the world know you exist. I’ve learned there’s no replacement for getting good press in well read publications like the Guardian. Nothing I’ve done on my own has brought me as many new listeners as some of the press I’ve had, which I had no idea was coming. You do need to be patient and persistent when launching something like this. We all read about people who appear to be successes overnight but a) it’s usually not overnight and b) there is a lot of ‘carry on carrying on’ about starting your own thing. If you expect to hit the bigtime after a matter of months you’re likely to be disappointed.
Do you have a mantra that has guided you more than any other?
Just keep rowing. Persistence is everything.
Which woman do you most admire and why?
I don’t have one woman I admire above all others and of course now my mind is a blank. She’s dead, but I did admire Katharine Hepburn’s attitude to life. She was a real can-do person and I need those people, because that’s not my natural setting.
Is there anything people consistently misunderstand about you?
Probably, but I’m not sure what it is. Over here in the US I’m often taken for an Australian. There appears to be some accent confusion at work. I’ve never even been there.
How can Mutton Club readers find out more about what you do?
You may also like Midlife Reinvention and From Full-Time Mom To Social Media Expert – Jen Lehner