Rana Campbell is a master storyteller, marketing strategist, content creator, and host of the Dreams In Drive Podcast – a podcast she launched in January 2016 that teaches individuals how to take their entrepreneurial dreams out of PARK and into DRIVE. With over 170 episodes in her arsenal, she has interviewed top leaders in lifestyle and business and was featured as an empowering podcast by Essence Magazine and a top Business podcast for Black Voices on Apple Podcasts. Rana’s work has been featured on Madame Noire, Blavity, Huffington Post, Fox 5 Good Day New York, XOJane, and more. She is a 2013 graduate of Princeton University and proud alum of the Emma Bowen Foundation media program. When she isn’t marketing or podcasting, Rana enjoys practicing her fashion photography skills, taking her favorite heels dance class, snuggling up with a good book or movie, and writing poetry. You can connect with her on social @rainshineluv, @dreamsindrive, or by visiting ranacampbell.com or dreamsindrive.com.
Who is Rana Campbell and what was your motivation for starting this brand?
I am the chief dream driver, the host of the “Dreams In Drive” podcast, and I would describe myself as a creative storyteller. I love telling stories and motivating people to put their dreams into action. My background is in marketing. For four years, I worked as a marketing specialist at an E- Commerce marketing company. In that role, I learned about how to make the sale and how to put people through your sales funnel. I graduated from Princeton University in 2013 with a degree in Sociology, because I love learning about people and how societies work. After college, I did not get that dream media job and I had been doing freelance writing for a whole bunch of platforms, such as Madame Noire, and I thought to myself, “Why don’t I create my own platform?”. I was tired of doing the written interview and I really thought people would be interested in hearing the conversation I was having with the people I was interviewing. I decided to do a podcast. I had no idea how to start a podcast. This was like August 2015. I just put a date on it and I said January 1, 2016, I am going to launch a podcast and I kind of worked backwards. I wanted to challenge myself to see what would happen if I showed up for myself every week and what kind of community I could build. And here we are almost three years later.
What do you mean when you say worked backwards?
A lot of times when you have a big goal for yourself, it can scare you. So because I hadn’t started a podcast before, I had to put a date on when I wanted it to launch. So I said, “I’m going to launch on January 1, 2016”. When I said I worked backwards, it was me thinking, “What is everything that needs to be done before that date in order to make this happen?”. I started with a date and then worked backwards with learning how to podcast, getting my gear, and my guests. It was thinking about the big goal and thinking about all the things I needed to make that happen.
I learned everything from scratch. I had a little bit of experience in video editing because in college I used to edit videos for my dance group. But, I had to learn the whole podcasting industry from scratch. I knew nothing!
Although I had never launched a podcast before, I was a fan of a few. You know how you listen to something before you have a goal and then after you have a goal? Once I decided to launch my own, I went back and listened to some of my favorite podcasts and started paying attention to how they were doing certain things, taking notes on structure, looked at their show notes, then I did a simple Google search of how to launch a podcast. I ended up taking a free course on how to build a podcast, found on the Entrepreneur On Fire podcast by John Lee Dumas, and it helped to lay the foundation for me. I’m a big researcher so the things I did not know, I Googled and went down a YouTube black hole to figure it out. In the beginning, I did not pay for any courses. The thing with podcasts is that there is a low barrier to entry. The basic thing you need is audio and somewhere to put that audio once you edit it. If you learn those basics and how that works, you’re good to go. It is the other things like content creation, marketing, setting up your system, and website that helped me because I had experience with it.
How did you discover your purpose?
I feel like I am still discovering my purpose, but I’m tapping into my gift. I have the gift of gab, the gift of storytelling, and the gift of being able to get peoples stories out of them. For a long time growing up, I have been called the talkative and nosey one. I am always asking so many questions. I thought that curiosity was a bad thing. But, I realize now that that is not something everyone holds. Some people may be naturally quiet; some may have questions, but not have the courage to ask them. With the podcast, getting feedback on how the show has inspired and impacted people shows me that it is because of my gift and me tapping into this passion of mine. I think if I continue to do that, I will tap into my purpose, which I am still trying to get clarity on. I really think I have a calling to use this gift of storytelling to help people because it is something I have been doing throughout my life and I have not even realized it. So now that I have this platform, each episode allows me to reflect on so much and I am grateful that I am able to share these stories with people.
I feel like when you are multi-passionate, it can be hard to figure out what’s that thing that you are called here to do. The thing that I have done is to look for the pattern or the themes in your life. For me, I have always been the type to use stories to do something. In High School, I used to write plays. In college I used to dance. In essence, those are all types of stories, whether it is through movement, written word, or sound and audio. It is something I cannot get away from. So I stopped trying to, and I accept it.
What were the main challenges you faced?
The biggest challenge was that I did not have any listeners. I had a blog and a small newsletter telling people about the launch of the podcast, so what I tried to do initially was convert the people who were reading my blogs to my podcast. The biggest challenge in the beginning and also now, was growing the podcast. Before I launched, I did a survey and told them that I was launching the show and I wanted them to tell me their biggest challenge in building their businesses or their brands. But before I launched, I had a list of maybe forty responses regarding challenges. That helped to lay the groundwork because it helped me figure out who were the type of people that I had to have on this show and what are the topics we should be discussing. The thing I noticed is that if you help people solve problems, they will tell their friends about you. I wanted “Dreams in Drive” to be bigger than my blog or anything that I have done before. It really was an experiment on what can happen when you put in the effort and dedicate your time to something.
What motivates you to keep going?
There is so much more to learn. I always say to myself, “Do I ever get tired of hearing peoples stories?.” Everyone that I talk to is unique in some way. It is like how we all have unique fingerprints. I get excited about possibilities and I think that as long as we are alive, there is some kind of possibility to be different, create a new version of ourselves, and be better. I know on days that things may not be good or I am having a tough day, each day is a new start and that really excites me.
What was the inspiration for the name “Dreams in Drive”?
There was a time when I was obsessed with Checkers funnel cake. So we went in this Checkers drive thru in Newark and I remember there was a garage area and a cute sign that said “No Parking” and I thought it was a cute place to take a picture. So, we got out the car and took a picture. I wasn’t even thinking, but I posted it to Facebook and in the caption, I talked about launching a podcast soon. My cousin said “You should name it No Parking“. I said “Oh that’s dope”, because it was in the picture. So the original name was “No Parking”. I got my mic and I was playing around, ad libbing and I said “Hey this is Rana Campbell, and welcome to the “No Parking” podcast where I’m going to help you put your dreams in drive.” That was the moment I said, “ Dreams in Drive!” It started with the “No Parking” podcast, then eventually I changed it to “Dreams in Drive” because I thought that was a better name for it.
Sakita Holley from “Hashtags and Stilettos” podcast is the one that said, “Girl you need to change this name. Nobody knows what that’s about.” I said, “No, I like it.” It took me 32 episodes to change the name. The one thing I have learned is this: Do not be afraid of the pivot. All the greats pivoted at some point. If you are not experimenting and seeing what works, nothing can ever get better. Do not be afraid to experiment because it is in that experimenting that you will figure out what works. Everything should not be going fine for you all of the time because if everything is going fine, that means you are not challenging yourself enough.
Name a few of your accomplishments and tell us which one you are most proud of.
Some of my accomplishments over the past few years have been getting featured on the Apple Podcasts homepage THREE TIMES, getting invited to host panels at my alma mater Princeton University, interviewing guests that I’ve been a fan of for years, such as THE Jenifer Lewis, and amassing over 600k downloads… all while being a one-man-band, producing, editing, and publishing each episode MYSELF. Out of all of these, my biggest accomplishment is that I am still here. There could have been times when I could have given up, but I didn’t. I’m so excited to be approaching my three-year mark.
What advice would you give to individuals following in your footsteps?
Do your research. A lot of people just want to start a podcast thinking they just need a mic and a hosting provider. Yes, that is true from a logistics standpoint, but you really need to understand the industry and understand what your niche is. Don’t just try to be like everyone else. Carve out what’s unique and figure out what your audience needs. Then, take some time to figure out how you can give it to them in a way that has not been done before, or a way that is unique to your voice.
Tell us about a woman who has positively impacted your life.
When I was 10 months old, my mom was in a bad car accident that left her disabled and she put her dreams on hold to be a stay at home mom. There are so many things that she did despite her disability. She had to relearn how to read, write, and walk and still was able to raise my sister and I. She used to drive my sister and I to school everyday, and did so much for us. She never let her disability hold her back. Now that I’m an adult in my late twenties, I’m like wow, I hope I have the strength that she had. Tomorrow is never promised, but it’s about the attitude. She’s been this example of are you going to let it stop you? Worse things could happen. So do not let this small thing hinder you.
What are your recommended books, podcasts, and resources?
- Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
- Guerilla Marketing Remix by Jay Levinson
- Side Hustle Pro podcast
- Journey to Launch podcast
- Podcasts In Color podcast
- How I Built This podcast
- The Casey Crew podcast
- Outside the Box podcast
What advice do you have for women in your industry?
Have a unique voice. It is so easy to go on social media and see what is working for other people and go through a comparison game of what people have versus what you have. Take some time to get to know who you are and what makes you unique. Do not think you have to change to fit the mold. Listeners do not want the mold. They do not want to feel that the person they are listening to is like everyone else. I had to come to grips with that. Sometimes I’m like “Oh my God, I really hate my voice.” I had to stop myself and tell myself that my voice is unique. Stop tripping out about your voice because you are probably the only one that cares about how you sound. Once you start accepting these things that make you unique, you can really focus on the things that you should be focusing in on. A lot of those other things take up time and mental energy. In this game of podcasting, you really have to have a lot of mental energy. Believe in yourself and know that your unique perspective matters. People want to hear it and people want to come back because they want to hear your voice.
Is there anything else that you would like to say that we did not cover?
Self-doubt and self-fear are one of the biggest challenges, but you are not alone. You can work through it. Instead of telling yourself you cannot do it, tell yourself you can, and I believe that would help people get their gears shifted from park to drive. Believe that you are in control and you can get there.