“My whole life I’ve been obsessed with learning how successful people become successful.” Those are among the first words one sees upon landing on the website of the Julian Placino, the host of the long-running Pathways to Success podcast. But having that obsession is one thing; turning it into your own success is quite another. Placino, though, has made it happen. Within just a matter of months after the podcast’s 2016 launch, Pathways to Success was downloaded more than 40,000 times in over 43 countries, achieving a five-star iTunes rating in the process; as of this writing, he’s up to his 110th installment. And Focusrite audio interfaces—namely, the Scarlett 18i8 and 2i2—have been with him from the start.
During a recent phone call, Placino filled us in with a bit of biographical info. “My professional background is in recruiting and staffing,” he says, “and my current day job is overseeing talent for Bottle Rocket Studios, which is a mobile-app developer here in the Dallas area, kind of a cross between a creative agency and software development company.” On paper, that bio reads a bit prosaically, akin to a LinkedIn post—but over the phone, his voice naturally exudes the kind of poised and confident enthusiasm that makes for a great communicator, that leads you to want to know more. In short, he’d be the perfect guy to evangelize on how to find one’s own version of personal progress.
The podcast originated as a passion project, an ancillary activity to his Bottle Rocket gig. “I wanted to have something for myself that I loved and enjoyed, something that I was uniquely good at, and something that created value for other people,” Placino explains “I thought about what might work, and I realized that I love reading and listening to audiobooks, but I seem to learn best through one-on-one engagement. And I deeply enjoy having engaging conversations with interesting people. Why not record these conversations?”
Up to that point, Placino had little knowledge of the nuts and bolts of podcasting, of how one actually transforms a person’s ideas into something that can be uploaded to the internet. “Originally, I thought this podcast was actually going to be a YouTube channel,” he confides. “I found a local studio and we professionally shot a video. But as an entry-level content creator, I quickly realized it was going to be too much to do myself. So I figured I would go all-in on something that I could recreate, so I decided to go with something that would be audio only.”
But even that presented challenges—so he went to the experts. “I’m really influenced by really big podcasters like Lewis Howes [School of Greatness], Tom Bilyeu [Impact Theory] and Tim Ferriss [The Tim Ferriss Show], Placino says. “I actually had wanted my show to sound exactly like School of Greatness, so I googled Lewis Howes’s setup, and found a piece of video where he talks about exactly what it was. And that was my introduction to Focusrite, specifically the Scarlett 2i2—and I immediately went out and bought one.” (He’s since added the 18i8 to his arsenal as his studio audio interface; the 2i2 is now reserved for recording on the go.)
Still, there was a bit of a learning curve in the beginning. “Even though I’m technically a millennial, I’m also technically challenged,” he admits. “What I did was just watch that Lewis Howes video over and over again, just to be able to figure out what plugs in where. Once I had it down, it was really easy to use—and once it was set up, I really didn’t have to think about it anymore.”
Placino’s happy with his decision to go with Focusrite, mentioning low latency and sound quality as two of the reasons of for sticking with the Scarlett series. “I honestly have never experienced any kind of delay, even if I’m talking to somebody remotely,” he says. There’s never anything that’s inhibited a conversation in the least. And the sound quality…that’s actually one of the things I get complements on. Voices are just so clear when they’re funneled through the Focusrite.”
But for a non-techie like Placino, it’s really all about Focusrite's ease of use. “I’m a podcaster, not an audio engineer, so I want things to work whenever I need it to work,” he says. “I need it to be easy, and I need it to work every single time. I need to minimize any kind of complexity so that I can concentrate on the conversation and be present in the moment. Focusrite allows me to do that. Neither the 18i8 and the 2i2 have ever failed me.”
If it sounds like the Scarlett 2i2 and 18i8 have played a major role in Placino’s own pathway to success…well, they have. “Really, Focusrite has been instrumental in changing my life,” he says. “They’ve been an incredible part of my journey.”