How We Select Podcast Guests over at the Relentless Health Value Podcast

First of all, thank you very much for clicking through and taking a look at this post. I’m grateful that you did, and please know that I don’t take it for granted. It is definitely going to be true that many people won’t bother.

So let me restate how much I appreciate you being here.

The goal of this page is to help you do any of four things:

  1. Know how we select guests at Relentless Health Value.
  2. Recognize before you waste your time that it isn’t a fit.
  3. Help you accelerate your ability to get on other podcasts or other media because I’m 100% confident the gist of what I’m saying here is transferable elsewhere.
  4. Let you know that Relentless Health Value sponsorship opportunities are available and information can be found here:


We get literally *thousands* of cold outreaches from individuals or their companies who would like to come on our show. We *rarely if ever,* invite guests to come on the show from cold outreaches.

When I say “cold outreaches” I mean unsolicited emails, private messages, meeting requests and/or “let me introduce you to’s” with all parties already cc:ed. Any of this when the intention is a singular and short-term focus on getting the Relentless Health Value team to host someone on our podcast platform. This probably sounds cold and maybe a little short-sighted on our/my part considering how amazing some of the recommended guests are, but please read on if you’re interested in where I’m coming from.

Now — if you simply want to cut to the chase and get your promotional message out to the Relentless Tribe of listeners, please consider sponsoring a show or buying an ad:

Here’s the tl;dr of this whole thing: First, I am not a journalist, I have a day job that is not hosting a podcast that pays the bills. And second, I’m one of those relational types.

People who come on the podcast are people who I admire, but also and not insignificantly, people who I enjoy talking to and who have said or written something that has provoked my extreme curiosity.

Almost 100% of guests we have invited to come on the show follow Relentless Health Value personally on LinkedIn, plus are connected with me on LinkedIn and we have exchanged comments and thoughts on the LinkedIn platform.

Why don’t we take cold outreaches?

Because we work our hearts out to produce high quality shows that resonate with our discerning Relentless Tribe of listeners. We spend hours with each guest both live and then listening to them in post-production.

We don’t get paid for our trouble, this is a labor of purpose and love.

I am not a journalist, which takes some people by surprise and often gives them some context. I am the co-president of two companies with a few dozen employees. In other words, I have a day job. I have also worked inside the healthcare industry for 25 years so you could say I know more about and have more opinions about its inner-workings than your average professional journalist.

I started Relentless Health Value in 2015 as a passion project. I saw, firsthand, how some great folks looking to make positive change needed a candid voice explaining what was really going on in the healthcare industry. Knowledge is power, after all, especially when it comes to unintuitive perverse incentives buried in healthcare market dynamics (or lack thereof). I saw too many good initiatives that would have helped patients fail because of knowledge gaps.

But I am not a journalist. And Relentless Health Value is way more popular and listened to than I ever dreamed it would be. With all the pitches coming in, sometimes I feel like that guy in the famous Maxim casette tape ad:

How a non-journalist feels when accidentally stumbling into the world of getting hardcore pitched.

Don’t get me wrong, in general, most people who really want to come on Relentless Health Value have incredibly impressive resumes and should rightfully be incredibly proud of what they have accomplished in their lifetimes. I deeply appreciate their service and as a patient and a citizen of this country, I likely benefit from their accomplishments.

But I am not a journalist. I don’t interview guests because of their resumes. Nor am I in any way qualified to judge the extent of anyone’s achievements. I interview people because I’m curious, really curious, about something they told me or they wrote. I interview them because I like them and admire them and cannot wait to wrap my head around whatever it is I just discovered they know all about that now I want to know all about. I cannot wait to get in there and untangle whatever gordian knot just entered my field of vision.

This curiosity is what keeps me going. When I get bored, I’m going to quit doing this. It will be my sign that it’s time to pass the baton to someone else. I will also say that during the moments in some of these unsolicited pitches from people I barely know where I’m feeling positively bullied or at best in a really awkward spot… those are also moments I consider throwing in the towel. It really sucks and I admire journalists who deal with this all day. TMI? sorry.

But here’s the reason I’m even bringing this up: Limiting our guests to those who can speak to a topic I’m super curious about is quite likely the secret of our success. The Relentless Health Value Tribe writes reviews saying they binge listen because our show is “non-boring.” They write reviews talking about the number of a-ha moments they have.

Why is it non-boring? Why are there so many a-ha moments in our episodes?

At least one reason is because I only interview guests who said or wrote something that seriously piqued my curiosity. That represents a fresh perspective.

Because if it piqued my curiosity, and if I haven’t thought from that perspective before, the great likelihood is that it will pique our listeners’ curiosity as well and they will have as many a-ha moments as I did.

The Mission of Relentless Health Value

Let’s start here: We never deviate from our mission. Every single guest we have ever had, and will ever have, meets seven criteria:

1.  Every one of our guests has information to share that advances the ability of healthcare industry decision-makers to do right by patients. 

    This could mean a lot of things:

    • Maybe you have insights that enable healthcare stakeholder collaboration.
    • Maybe you can share some best practices.
    • Maybe you want to drop some intel that helps kneecap bad actors.
    • Maybe you can talk about industry trends and what their impact might be on patient outcomes, costs, experience or quality.

2.  Relentless Health Value does not take guests who want to come on the show to pitch their product or their company. We don’t even take guests who want to talk about their product or entrepreneurial experience as the cornerstone of whatever point they’re trying to make.

If you are interested in pitching your company or talking about ideas that are essential background insights for customers of your product to be aware of, it would be super helpful for you to help us fulfill our mission as well as yours by sponsoring a “Coffee Talk.” See information here:

Similarly, please click the link above if you want to come on Relentless Health Value and discuss a great idea for a methodology but have never actually executed the methodology. Bottomline, the time might be right later on to be invited to be a guest on our show, but right now, if you would like to come on Relentless Health Value, the only way would be in a “Coffee Talk” mini-episode and you would need to fund that.

3.  Relentless Health Value is not a clinical/medical show. We do not get into treatment options or medical interventions or package inserts or overall survival rates or comparative effectiveness. We do not talk about vitamins, essential oils or devices, even if they are FDA-approved. In general, we do not talk about specific diseases or conditions and that includes MSK. All of our guests come on to talk about the healthcare system itself and its impact on and for patients.

This said, we might get into specific patient populations with a guest, but I’d suggest it would be more of a demographic or psychographic approach than a disease-centric or condition-centric one. If there is a particular issue (like MSK) that has overweighted bearing on the performance of the healthcare system, we’d look at it from this macro-perspective, not one where we dig into the right way to clinically determine if a surgery is needed.

BTW- we are also not a technical show. We might talk about the impact that a sweeping technology trend or issue has on the healthcare ecosystem but this would be in more of a “how does this impact healthcare value and quality and cost” context than a “how does this work?” context.

4. Relentless Health Value is focused on the US Healthcare System. Sorry, rest of the world. It’s not that we don’t care about you — that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s that, probably sadly, we have enough fish to fry here in the good old USA to keep us busy for awhile.

5. Unless you are a best-selling author (meaning on the NYT best seller list) or have a social media following that is so big you bring the internet when you come to a party, we do not take pitches from people on a PR tour or from PR agents.

(While PR tours make a whole lot of sense for PR firms and their clients, they make less than zero sense for us. I could get into the why here but suffice to say it’s a data-driven decision and we just don’t do it.)

6. We pick guests with information that is appropriate for the Relentless Health Value Tribe. Listeners of our show are senior level executives working in the healthcare industry. This means payer (including self-insured employer benefits leaders and consultants), provider and advocacy organizations, life sciences, pharmacy, technology companies and also we have a lot of PE/VC listeners. In general, our listeners are avidly trying to figure out how to do the right thing for patients and upend the status quo. These are listeners who are bored by 101-level topics and concepts that have been widely shared already, ie, concepts they likely already have heard before. More than once.

7. We wouldn’t pick a guest who tees up a topic that I would consider too big to cover adequately in a three year professional program. Our shows are thirty minutes long. Our topics are rightsized to explore fully in thirty minutes. Our Relentless Health Value Tribe is a bunch of sophisticated professionals most of whom have been working in the healthcare industry for years. Some may have less experience but they are all whip-smart and they want the actionable details not the theoretical broad strokes.

Here’s a few example topics that are way too big to squash into a 30 minute show but which at least (literally) 50 times a week someone offers to cover: employer sponsored health benefits as a general construct, population health and what everybody gets wrong about it, the theoretical underpinnings of transforming the entire healthcare industry, the major problems with the healthcare industry, the impact of social determinants of health, behavioral health integration… you get the point.

(I have a feeling most people continuing to read right now are listeners of the show looking to get a view into the inner-workings of this whole thing. But in all cases, thanks for being here, advice for dealing with all of this is welcome.)

So Then How do Most Guests Become Guests?

Again — it’s relational, not transactional.

Most guests become guests because they either have written something on LinkedIn or Twitter, or in a listsrv or Slack group we both belong to, which I thought was incredibly thought provoking.

Alternatively, sometimes people will send me a note on LinkedIn and ask to chat because they are as curious about me and Relentless Health Value as I might happen to be about them. They want to talk to me because they have a sense it would be fun and/or enlightening dialogue to have. They may have insights to share, and also, they want to hear what I think about some issue.

A lovely conversation ensues that probably won’t be about anybody coming on Relentless Health Value. Potential topics of said discussion? There are 400 episodes we could chat about… what’d I not address in a show that you thought was an odd omission? What did you think was particularly actionable? What two disparate insights did you put together that you wonder if I have an opinion about. I’m also the co-president of two companies doing lots of things. I’m not too tough, in other words, to have a chat with.

It is during these mutually interesting and spirited conversations that, sooner or later, there’s a spark which turns into an idea to build a show around.

Maybe I’m just too much of a non-journalist to do it any other way, but for me, it’s an idea that inspires every single show. A tight, generally pretty nuanced, idea. A revelation. Some interlocking connection I’d never thought about, something that is right now and actionable right now.

I’d also add that it is frankly one of my greatest pleasures to interview someone I both admire and also enjoy speaking with. Having a wonderful, spontaneous conversation with someone generally means that an interview with this same person would be equally as wonderful.

For Book Authors:

I say this with all the respect, admiration and raw appreciation for everyone who has written a book.

I don’t want to discourage you from reaching out, but I’d just ask that you pick the one aspect of your writings or recommendations that is uniquely yours and write why you want to talk to me about that particular point.

Also, and I probably speak for hosts everywhere who would ultimately spend *way* more than the cost of your book to produce an episode that financially benefits you more than us… it’s pretty offensive to get a request to come on the show along with a link to buy your book. Just sayin.’ Send a link to download the PDF of the book, preferably with an abstract or summary.

So Then How do Most Guests Become Guests?

Just the fact that you got this far means you’re in the top .05% of people who request coming on the show. I hope this information is helpful to you in your media pursuits and to further your work transforming the healthcare industry. I look forward to hearing from you when you are ready, or look forward to your email with an offer to introduce me to someone you know who you think I might like to meet.

To suggest a guest, please visit Recommend a Guest.