Personal Best: Getting Good at the Little Things

Personal Best: Getting Good at the Little Things

Do you struggle texting both potential dates and close friends? Worry that something is wrong with how you eat in front of people? Is it incredibly hard to choose what to get at a restaurant and even harder to actually face the person taking the order? Do you hit the snooze button more times than you can count every morning? And do you just assume that those struggles and others like them are no big deal or that no one can help you overcome them? Well, Andrew Norton and Rob Norman may not take the most conventional route to help folks improve on the little things in life and they may not even be sure they can help at all, but they are sure you’ll enjoy listening to the journey on Personal Best.

Personal Best is a self-improvement show for people who hate self-improvement,” Rob explained. “So each week we take someone with a small, petty, seemingly-silly problem and we go to extreme lengths to try and help them overcome it.” Extreme is the key word there, since the guys aren’t trained therapists or gurus of any kind. When I listened in, they helped a woman improve her texting using a method actor, a canoeing trip, and a game show. “The episodes are thirty-minute kind of mini-documentaries where we try to help someone,” Andrew said, continuing to describe the show. The two are never sure what will work, but they are willing to try absolutely anything to help the subject of their latest episode.

It was a few years ago when Rob met up with Andrew over coffee — something they later realized neither of them enjoy — to discuss starting a podcast and the duo combined Rob’s background in improv and comedy and Andrew’s experience in podcasting to launch Personal Best. Of course, before the show went live, not a lot of people knew about the project, “so a lot of [the guests] were family and friends or people who knew who we are… But I remember one of our first times getting someone that Rob and I didn’t know we were like ‘whoa, this is exciting!’” While the show now receives hundreds of emails from both fans and volunteers hoping to get a little help, Andrew and Rob know that coming on Personal Best really requires a lot of its guests. “It’s a lot to come on our show as a guest. You have to be pretty vulnerable, you have to admit something kind of embarrassing that you’re bad at, and our show takes like a month to do.” But people keep coming on and keep getting help.

“We heard some really surprising stuff, some surprisingly touching things that resonated with people and gave people permission to feel better about themselves and overcome their own things,” Andrew said. After recording the entire first season and releasing it all at once, the two had no idea how the show would be received, but are so excited that people have found it both funny and heart-warming. “I think that was the number one surprise, how personal and intimate the show is for so many people,” Rob explained, saying the pair thought they were just making a comedy show. Seeing how guests have experienced breakthroughs and listeners have found a place to connect to others’ struggles “in a safe, funny way” has been really rewarding for the hosts.
It’s both the laughs and the tears that Rob and Andrew are excited about with season two, which has just gone live! So if you want to hear a season of new journeys, bigger failures, and hilarious attempts at helping people, you absolutely have to check out Personal Best. And make sure you leave a rating and review to let Rob and Andrew know what you think about this even crazier season of Personal Best!