From left: Scott Gruniger, '20, Ethan Smith, '21, and Nazr El-Scari, '21, work in the podcast studio. Smith hosts "Free Solo Podcast," an interview-based podcast show. (Courtesy of Ethan Smith)

1 in 6,953: Ethan Smith highlights a variety of experiences

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“Free Solo Podcast,” an interview-based podcast show founded and hosted by Ethan Smith, ‘22, was created to highlight stories of high performers from all different areas. 

It was launched in February with the goal of sharing important lessons and insights with others.

“I found myself having a lot of really good conversations with some really cool people,” Smith said. “I realized that I was the only beneficiary of those conversations.” 

Initially, Smith wanted to make his podcast into a life story that incorporated different experiences and insights, but his idea migrated more toward engaging guests in impactful dialogues centered around how individuals reached specific points of their life. 

Smith said he tries to pick at what people’s strengths are and highlight their talents. From athletes to artists, he loves connecting with all different types of people and has used his networking skills to expand his list of diverse podcast guests. 

One of them includes Christopher Kauzmann, innovator in residence for the Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship. 

Kauzmann met Smith through different programs at Lehigh, such as the EUREKA competition and the Lehigh Silicon Valley program in San Francisco.

“Ethan is a go-getter,” Kauzmann said. “He’s curious about all sorts of different fields, and is always willing to try new stuff in all sorts of areas.” 

As the second guest of “Free Solo Podcast,” Kauzmann was impressed by how fun yet professional the process was. He said it allowed him to reflect on why he thinks the way he does, how to approach things and connect the dots to previous experiences. 

Kauzmann said he appreciated the style of the conversation and the preparation put into the questions asked. He also explained the importance of building and growing passion. 

“(Passions are) built over time by trying new things that you may or may not like long term,” Kauzmann said. “But, if you don’t try it, you’re not going to know at all.”  

Samantha Dewalt, managing director of [email protected] in San Francisco, met Smith through the Lehigh Silicon Valley program. She said she was impressed by his drive and ambition as a student and agrees on the importance of students finding their passions and pursuing projects. 

“For Ethan to be able to have this idea, have a passion, and bring it to fruition and apply a creative and entrepreneurial lens is really great practice,” Dewalt said. “It’s going to give him something tangible that he can point to and show as he goes into future career paths.” 

A week before her podcast interview, Smith called Dewalt to learn more about her story and background. Dewalt said Smith used the information to formulate thoughtful questions and a nice angle for her episode. 

Dewalt said Smith kept the talk very conversational and dove deeper into topics that he knew would resonate with his audience. She said he has a real talent for pulling out important pieces of a conversation.

Through his love of connecting with others, Smith hopes to grow the scale of impact of his podcast by finding interesting stories to highlight. 

Free Solo Podcast is available for free downloads and listens on different media platforms and can be found on social media through the handle: @freesolopod

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