Maeve Maguire was the first guest featured on the “Obstacle Course” podcast. (File photo)

From Eco Lawn to Obstacle Course, Cowichan entrepreneur is branching out

Lush Eco Lawn owner John Close is branching out.

With a decade of working in lawn care under his belt, Close, from the Cowichan Valley, finally feels the time is right for a passion project — helping people. Together with friend and co-host Andrew Langford, Close has started producing a weekly podcast, an audio program they’ve dubbed Obstacle Course.

The show runs roughly an hour and a new episode is published every Wednesday.

“For right now it’s just a passion project that we both believe in,” Close said. “We love being together. We’re talking about this stuff anyways. We love hearing stories from people. It really wasn’t a leap for us.”

Podcasts are free digital audio programs that can be accessed on demand online, from either an app like iTunes, or from various other websites and/or services. Listeners can subscribe and have them delivered to their device, or they can browse at their leisure.

Podcasts take on all shapes and sizes and subject matter. The variety is limitless.

“We just wanted to focus in on sort of the everyday obstacle,” Close explained. “Yeah it’s impressive that a guy can swim across a lake with one arm but that’s not necessarily the obstacle that the everyday person connects to. They connect to “How do I raise young kids and keep my job?” or “How can I leave my job and start a business?” There are so many obstacles out there. It’s an endless subject and there’s a million stories.”

Obstacle Course is in the social sciences section on iTunes and has made appearances on Apple’s “New and Noteworthy” list as well.

“It’s kind of cool. It’s not like we stay there for days at a time but we crack them,” Close said of the podcast, which just began publishing in March. “It varies wildly depending on: did you have an episode that was just released? What day of the week is it? What time is it? Typically we stay in the top 50, but we were ninth a couple days go. They just show the top 200 and there’s thousands more, so we’re still happy with our first month.”

Close said it was never his intention to make lawn care his life’s work. He’s always felt compelled to help people who are stuck in their life or to help people change mindsets or change their lifestyles.

“The challenge is how do you find a way to do that in a unique way that’s you that people respond to,” he said. “I’ve tried a lot of things. I write blogs, I offer coaching services, I do speaking here and there and that arena is just so saturated, it’s hard to stand out. With the podcast, it just kind of came to me and I talked to my buddy about it, who is also interested in the same stuff, and it’s sort of taken off finally.”

Close and Langford record at a studio in Victoria and, thus far, their guests have been mostly from the Cowichan region. Their first guest was former North Cowichan councillor Maeve Maguire.

“Maeve Maguire was a good first one,” Close said. “I’m close with her and she was a great first conversation.”

Maguire had nothing but praise for the podcast and its hosts.

“John and Andrew have created a brilliant new podcast about ordinary people who have made extraordinary choices and are better for it,” she said. “I’ve listened to them all and each story inspires me for different reasons. The common thread is that they make me challenge assumptions about myself. I love it. I look forward to every new episode. I think they’ve landed on something very exciting.”

The duo has also talked with Jason Storie, the Duncan resident who was trapped in a cave and almost died, and Heather McLeod, the beloved Cowichan farmer who lost her husband to cancer.

“We’ve got some guests coming up that are probably going to launch us into the next level for sure,” Close said. “It’s pretty exciting.”



sarah.simpson@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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