Hall of Fame
SINCE UPOD ACADEMY…
I sold a feature story I developed at Upod Academy to Saveur, sold another to Oprah’s magazine through a workshop contact, and finished a 120-page book proposal that I recently sold to an imprint at Farrar Straus and Giroux. Honestly, everything I’m working on at the moment is in some way connected to my PodCad experience.
PodCad inspired me, among other things, to a) go to lunch regularly with smart people; b) go to NYC to visit editors; c) go to a conference where I could meet collaborators and find stories. My first lunch led to a well-paid gig editing a new book. The conference led to a cascade of story ideas and a documentary project. The NYC trip led the biggest assignment I’ve gotten in years — a 4,000-word profile of a pioneering neurobiologist, for Discover, and a second profile there of a cutting edge mycologist. I also opened doors at Psychology Today, Parade and Harper’s and renewed relationships at Reader’s Digest, Ladies Home Journal and Prevention. I am also trail-running five days a week (which I count as a success, even though it doesn’t directly generate income), thanks to PodCad and the kick in the butt not just to write better but live better. I’m making huge strides professionally, and with a supportive group to help me get there. Thank you PodCad.
[Update: Meredith used her PodCad connections to land a regular gig with Entertainment Weekly's website.] Here’s what participating in Upod Academy gave me: renewed energy and fighting spirit, a massive dose of inspiration and a whole battery of practical tools to apply to my pitches and interactions with editors. But possibly the best thing the PodCad did for me was that it helped me identify — in a hyper-specific, concrete way — what my short, medium and longterm career goals were. I really, really needed that. Then David and the group helped me strategize about how to go out and start grabbing those goals. And the thing about David is he just rocks. He is the loveliest person to work with and is so uniquely, tremendously skilled for running these workshops. PodCad was a jump-in-with-two-feet, life-changing, kind of magical three days — and I’m a fiercer, more empowered writer because of it.
When I came to Upod’s pitching workshop in the fall of 2011, I already knew I could write — but I didn’t know how to market myself. I decided to take a cross-country leap and fly from Massachusetts to attend Upod Academy. Over the course of three intense days, I learned solid pitching skills — and more importantly, gained the confidence in my ideas and abilities to put those pitching skills into action. In the months since, using Upod Academy advice and mojo, I’ve placed essays in The New York Times, FamilyFun, Ladies’ Home Journal, Babble, and Yankee Magazine, and even had essay accepted into a book collection. I feel my career taking off — and I consider my fellow participants to be close working colleagues, even though we’re scattered across the U.S. I got so much out of my Upod experience, I flew back for a second workshop in personal essay writing. It’s fair to say this is the best career money I’ve ever spent.
I’d reached a point in my freelance career where I was utterly stuck. Although I’d checked a number of items off my professional bucket list, I was overworked, underappreciated, and creatively frustrated. Besides helping me see that there’s a better way, PodCad gave me the tools and roadmap to reach the editors and credits and creative satisfaction that were missing from my life. Thanks again for a transformative weekend. Also, I’m so happy to have learned the term “thumb slam.” (!!!) You rock, David. I’m so appreciative of your professional generosity. You changed a lot of lives in three days. THANK YOU.
I wasn’t sure what I was looking for when I signed up for PodCad, but knew was that my career was not evolving the way I had hoped. What I got out of those 72 hours was the greatest career kick I’ve experienced since I started working as a journalist a decade ago. Thanks to David, I set concrete, realistic goals that I managed to reach within a few months. I’ve increased my client base, written features I thought were out of my reach, and made my first contributors page (Yay!). I’m now working for Glamour, InStyle, Angeleno, LA Confidential and more. It goes without saying that the advice I got from David through PodCad was invaluable, but what is truly life changing is having a group of peers who understand your crazy inner monologue, your frustrations with the business and actually find joy in helping you, rather than keeping you down. For that alone I would take this class a thousand times over.
Attending David Hochman’s UPOD Academy was like being shot out of a cannon (in a good way) above and beyond all the crap that kept me from creating momentum for myself as a writer. I’m not a workshopy person but the clarity I got at UPOD enabled me to map out my own course and stick to it. Within a month of attending UPOD I began a solid writing, pitching, submitting and selling routine that has changed the trajectory of my life. I submitted an essay to NPR through an editor contact I got at UPOD and not only was my essay accepted, I found myself in an email exchange with one of my story teller heroes, Lea Thau. I could never have done that without the gumption I got from The Pod. I have a huge green index card filled with a bunch of writing questions and my favorite is “Is there trouble? There better be trouble.” That always gets me back on track when I’m floundering with an article or essay and it’s one of a million perfect gems that I got after attending UPOD. I got everything I needed to make the writing life I want at UPOD—spending three days letting all that is The Pod sink in to my bones was the best decision I’ve ever made. It was the thing that got me to where I thought I’d never be able to go—Happy Productive Writing Land.
My freelance writing career was in a tailspin. I’d fallen for the belief that the Internet and the Great Recession were killing the print media, and I’d adopted unhelpful, self-fulfilling habits that only reinforced those beliefs. The result: I’d dug myself deeper into a hole. Then, as if my prayers from on high were being answered, I heard about David Hochman and the UPOD Academy. He and three days of boot camp re-connected me to why I’d chosen this path in the first place. I also started working one-on-one with David because I needed help to rehab my career badly. I won’t claim miracles yet, but I’m back on track, becoming the writer and journalist I once dreamed I could be.
David Hochman’s PodCad was like a spa for my tired journalist’s soul. I came to Los Angeles days after leaving a demanding journalism job where I’d toiled for several years. It was supposed to be an exciting time–I was, embarking upon a new path as a freelancer, after all–but I felt so exhausted I could hardly cook a meal, let alone plot my next professional steps. PodCad provided just the respite I needed. David acted as our guru, our mentor, our zen and humor-filled friend. He gently pushed us to dream big–and to look hard at what was holding us back from reaching our big dreams. Thanks to his guidance and the support of my wonderful fellow PodCadders, I left California energized and refreshed, able to see possibilities once again. Nearly a year later, our PodCad group still supports each other through the highs and lows of the writing life. As for me, I’m no longer freelancing. A few months after PodCad, I was offered a position at Forbes magazine. Thanks to the support of David and my group, I was ready to dive into a new challenge and am now happily reporting full time in New York.
The standard advice to freelancers is, “Think small. Be practical. Start at the bottom with news-you-can-use, front-of-the-book snippets for low-pay outlets.” PodCad upends all of that. “Write your passion and aim for the sky,” David Hochman says. He lives by his word and sets freelancers free. After PodCad I scrapped my toothpaste-ingredients pitch and wrote about my passions. I turned part of my Word Snooper blog into an Op Ed piece for The Los Angeles Times and got to write about my nonverbal obsession, art, for LA Weekly.
I’ve participated in two of David’s workshops, both the UPOD Academy and the
personal essay workshop. Both times, I left the weekend inspired, reenergized, and surrounded by a new supportive community of writers. David illuminates the fact that the only definite difference between you and writers working at the top level of the profession is your confidence to put your work and ideas out there. He’s a cheerleader, a mentor, a role model, and a friend. Without a doubt, I have aimed higher as a result of my participation in his workshops. As a result, I’ve had my first book byline, catapulted to magical word rates, written for national publications, and landed one of my “heart stories” in a major magazine. These workshops are by far the best investment I’ve made as a professional freelance writer. Plus, they’re just so fun, engaging, and delicious (thanks to his wife Ruth’s awesome cooking)! I met new friends and also formed ongoing writing relationships that keep the Pod going.
If there’s one thing that I got out of SuperCad (an advanced Upod Academy workshop), it was a major dose of motivation to push myself to the next level. Prior to the class, I was writing consistently but for the same outlets and desperately wanted to get into bigger publications. The class was fantastic! On day one, David had us go around the room and analyze where we are in our careers and talk about why we aren’t where we want to be. Then we talked about ideas and stories we’d like to be writing and he helped us all make action plans to help us accomplish our goals. Thanks to the techniques I picked up in the class (time management, relationship building, networking, goal attainment, etc.), my action plan, and the support from my classmates, I have made some major career breakthroughs in the recent months. I have been published in both Hemispheres In-flight Magazine, The Red Bulletin, and had several pieces on Rolling Stone.com. I have done red carpet interviews for companies such as Fuse and have been writing consistently for larger outlets, which not only pay better but also make me feel more accomplished as a writer. I’d recommend a UPOD class to anyone who is feeling stuck in their career, wants to get to the next level, or just wants a powerful refresher on the ins and outs of freelancing.