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Power Your Podcast with Storytelling

Lesson 18 of 21

Workshopping YOUR Story

Alex Blumberg

Power Your Podcast with Storytelling

Alex Blumberg

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Lesson Info

18. Workshopping YOUR Story

Lesson Info

Workshopping YOUR Story

So we, I've talked a lot about sort of like how we employ these tricks, the story formula, talking in anecdotes, talking stories, looking for emotional moments. I've used that in my work but I feel like these are tricks that can be used in multiple different settings. And so, what I want to do this section is get all of you put all of you up here and maybe have you come up and maybe that's too much. Maybe just do it where you are. (laughing) We have cameras pointed that way. Come up and tell your story. And sort of think through what that story is, what the story could be. And I'm gonna get into sort of what I'll set up I wanna go through what possible types of angles you could be telling your story for but before we even do that I wanna and then what that could be, what that could mean is sort of like I wanna tell my own story as part of my own business. So if I'm running a business and I'm trying to engage people if i have a story and you see this all the time, like if I have a story...

that's attached to my business it makes it stickier. And, if I have but maybe I just wanna have someone on my podcast as a guest. I want, what's the story that I want them to be telling. Or I want to do my own story on radio or podcast and I wanna do a story and I wanna talk through that story. So what we would do here is we would workshop all of those things. And to make this a safe space I wanna just play because often what we're doing is we're and I guess what I'm saying is sort of like take the tricks that we've been using here and put them in the setting that you need them to be in. And, that is really hard. And I've found out that that's really hard through personal experience because I've been learning about how to tell a story for a long time. I've gotten pretty good at it on the radio and then I had to go and tell my own story to investors as part of starting my own company. And so I've left public radio and I'm starting a company and the company is going to be making podcasts and as part of that company I've been doing a podcast about the starting of my business. And I've been recording all these conversations that I've been having with investors and I've actually recorded myself sort of making my pitch. Which is it essentially telling the story of my business. And I've been confronted with the fact that I'm doing a horrible job of telling my own story. So I'm gonna play a little clip from startup which is the podcast about the starting of my podcast business and but just to sort of let us all know that again, nobody's perfect in the beginning. Here's a clip. You gotta tighten up your story. So we'll start again. Sorry this is me pitching Chris Sacca who's an investor in Silicon Valley. So what I did basically I went out and I happened to know this guy and it turns out he's a much bigger deal than I realized in the beginning. So I go out and I'm pitching him and we're in this restaurant and he says "All right. So come on out and we'll walk and you can walk along the street and give me your pitch." And I had a laptop with me and I thought I was gonna be doing this deck and everything like that. But he was like nah, that's a crutch. So come with me. So I'm walking along Pico Blvd in Los Angeles with my microphone and my headphones on just to paint a visual image. I'm walking along next to him and I'm miking myself as I'm trying to pitch him on the story of my business. So just gonna have to hold on, sorry. You gotta tighten up your story. So we'll start again. So you've now kinda meandered really tight this time how you're gonna make money doing this? So you make money in combination. So there's three major revenue streams. Start again. I meandered my way through the ad rates, plan of money, at a certain point I find myself deep into an explanation of my friend's successful kickstarter project. Chris interrupted. And start your own outline. Yeah I did. What you haven't given me is the outline of your story, right? If I were calling an Uber right now and it said it's gonna be here in two minutes, and that was all the time you had, what are you doing? So I'm making a network of digital podcasts that we'll... That's gonna meet. Sorry. (laughing) There you go. That's as far as I got. No it actually got, well it never got better. That day never got better. It ended sort of as disastrous as it began. But again I play that clip just to sort of illustrate that it was only through workshopping and through, like I thought I knew what I was doing and I didn't know what I was doing. Even once the setting shifted, I was paralyzed. And part of it was I didn't know what my audience was. I was used to dealing with an audience of sort of general listeners, didn't try to like sort of like all I had to do was sort of like entertain them and here my audience was people that I was trying to convince to invest in my company and what did they wanna hear from me and their needs and wants were different. A large part of what I think we're going to be doing today is trying to figure out who is the audience for your story. What is the story that you wanna tell and to whom and how can you adapt some of the things that we've talked about today to make that a more compelling pitch. So, shall we begin? Who's ready to go? We have (laughing) All right. Excellent. Go ahead. You're the guinea pig. Honestly I have no idea what I'm doing. If I'm calling an Uber in two minutes, no I'm just joking. No like I'm like serious, I have no idea. No, no, that's awesome. But you have something, so just tell us what you're trying to sell. Because I have no idea right. So I'm starting on so here's the core of what I started a company. It was my second company. It's the company I felt most passionate about On Fire as an action sports company. And in that journey I discovered that a lot of people that I looked up to, experts weren't there to support me in my journey. They were there to gain clients or something and so I've kind of made it my life's mission to be that authentically supportive role in all startups lives because I never want someone to take advantage of that 18 year old girl again. And so everything I do comes from that place. Like that fight, like I spent, I leveraged all my credit cards to build that company, I raised money and I had the most beautiful investors, I was so lucky. Just every last investment I made. I was like determined to succeed and every person I talked to I needed them to see that in me and to give me any gold nuggets to move forward and so now this years later, that sports company doesn't exist but now I feel so committed to being supportive of that 18 year old girl and never letting someone and making sure everyone around her empowers her so every panel I moderate, this podcast I'm doing now, anything I do in the future it's protecting that 18 year old girl who to me is a symbol of all the other people no matter what age starting a company who truly with all their heart, soul, spirit, just with every magical being love that their idea, their company. I don't know. All right. So, you got a good start. (laughing) I would say. What do you so what is the if you could tell me in one sentence what is the thing what's the thing you want though? If you're gonna be telling this story to somebody, who is that somebody, A and what do you want from them? And wanting can be anything. I want, okay. I don't know if these are the right answers. There's no right answer. I'm just doing my best. I want to create or I want people... Safety. I'm trying to create a safe place. I just want a safe place. I don't know what that means really. I just... No, no, no. That's not what I'm asking. If you're telling the story, wanting to create the safe space. Who are you telling the story to? Oh. Other startup entrepreneurs typically. People who don't know what they're doing and feel that potentially they need to seek out an expert because they can't do it themselves and I just want to remind everyone just like I remind myself everyday that my intuition is my oracle. Like I constantly communicate your intuition is your oracle because that was the hardest lesson I had to learn and what I did when I raised money and everything, the first thing I did is I went out and found seasoned people to help me because what do I know? I'm such a young girl. You know? And then what I realized is the only person who cares so much about my business is me. And so I'm trying to remind people of that. That they are themselves an expert. They're an expert in their own dream and vision. Right. So your audience is other people who are trying to start companies? And so this is not a pitch you're making to investors. Other people who are trying to start companies from a very passionate, genuine place. Right. But it's a particular audience of entrepreneurs who like yourself and you're talking to them in the context of, you're not trying to, it's not an investor pitch. You're not telling the story to investors to make money. You're telling this as a communicator, as a coach to them, as somebody who can help empower them. The way that you wish you could've had somebody. Okay. I got you. All right. So it sounds like you had a you had a realization which is that your intuition is your oracle. Yeah. In other words, you have a punch line. Okay. You have a punch line. What were the circumstances around realizing that? When did you come to that realization? I was really depressed when my second company didn't go, I didn't realize my vision so whether people perceived it as a success or failure for me I didn't get to where I wanted to. You're good. I'm gonna interrupt one thing though. Like I didn't realize my vision. Let's cut the crap. Your company went out of business. Did it fail? I feel it did. Yeah, did it or what? Yeah, I guess. So let's use direct language. That always helps, right? Yeah. Like realize your vision is sort of like it's a euphemism. Right. And if we're gonna be communicating clearly to people, Yeah. You wanna get in front of it and you wanna know exactly what happened and you wanna be honest about what happened. So what happened was the business that I started failed. Or did not succeed. However you wanna frame it. Don't say I didn't realize the vision though. 'Cause that's like confusing. Yeah but it did succeed for 10 years. Okay. So that's where this uncertainty comes from. So why do you feel like it didn't realize the vision. Because I wanted to be the Google of action sports and I never got it there. Okay. The Google of action sports. Wow. That's a big dream. And I believed with all of my heart that I was able to pull that off. And I wasn't. And I didn't. And so, yeah. But anyway after that is I was so attached to my brand and I didn't know who I was without my brand after so many years that I was super depressed. Like I was really sad for a long time and I kept looking back at my life as I was rediscovering who I was in my personal life and as a professional and what I discovered is that my strongest asset no matter what I do in my life well it's two things. It's taking steps forward no matter what, even up, like picking up the mic right now, I'm scared, terrified. Had no clue what to say. I had no clue what's right but I just went for the step of saying okay. I'll be the guinea pig. So that and just doing my best to trust my intuition. Does my body feel warm or cold when I'm answering this? Does this feel right or do I kind of feel off? Like really being honest with myself. When did that realization happen? What was the story around coming to that realization? Is there a story around coming to that realization? Probably somewhere when I was really depressed. But it's probably one of the things that helped. I don't have a... No that's okay. That's okay. Was there, what you're trying to communicate to people and when you say you use your intuition, you wish that you had used your intuition in a way that you didn't. Oh my god. So what's a moment, what's a moment looking back where you're like that was the wrong decision 'cause I didn't trust my intuition. What's that moment. Hiring... Well I didn't know this at the time but looking back, hiring this one particular consultant I hired. I was like convinced that they would be the end-all be-all to take me to the next level and do all these things in my company and they didn't do anything. Right. And I realized if I years later I realized if I did that exact same role, purely based that I was authentically passionate about what I was building, I probably would've did fantastic but I didn't believe in myself enough to even try. Uh huh. Okay. And that's what I see in all these same startup entrepreneurs. They keep saying oh I can't start yet because blah blah whatever. I'm like dude, just like go. But I think that's where you start. So I think you start the story where like I was running this company. It was going really well. Right? And I had started it, I was 18 I had started it. And we needed something done. Something that you hired this person for, right? And we needed something done and I was thinking to myself, I could do it but I'm worried about how I'm gonna do it so I'm gonna hire somebody who is gonna do it better. I didn't even think I can do it. Right. I didn't even... I thought I wasn't good enough. Right, right, right. Yeah so you were thinking like, this is something that needs to be done. I can't do it obviously for some reason I thought that. And so I hired somebody. Yeah. But there was some part of you that was worried about it at the time? Do you think? At the time I was just so driven to do everything right. Like be perfect. And that seemed perfect to me. Right. It's what I was told. I was told that people with this who have a long resume have the experience and I don't want to say... What I was gonna say but so I feel I love the men and women equally but I was told that a smart man would do this, you know? I think men are great so I'm not one of those (laughing) But I was told like, a guy that's older that has a huge resume and that is what I was told was smart and who could take me to be to get these things done and so that's what I did. Yeah. So I think, And it was dumb. Excellent. So I think what I would say I wanna move on to other people but I think what I would say to you is sort of like there's a story centered around that interaction where you... It's a story that actually happened. You were at your job. You made this move because you thought it was the right decision at the time because of these feelings that you had and then you realized in retrospective that you weren't trusting yourself or that you had this realization and that is the way you would share that with somebody. That you would sort of focus it on I remember there was this thing that stands out to me. I was at this job. We had to do this, whatever the details are. And sort of set that up as a story. I think that's the way you would package that. I wanna move on. I think so Jasmine I feel like can you share your what you're up to and we can try to talk about what you're doing. Okay, so I just wanna come out and say I totally don't know what I'm doing. (laughing) So I just wanna establish that. That makes two of us. I definitely feel like this room is full of talented creatives and so I think that I've kinda taken a back seat because I watch what you guys are doing and I'm really inspired. My voice is shaking. You know what. We can't tell. Okay. Yeah seriously. I didn't notice. One thing just to sort of say. That whatever you're feeling on the outside, I don't see it. You look totally fine and composed and like not nervous at all. So whatever you're feeling on the inside note to yourself that is not what's happening on the outside. You're doing fine. Introduce yourself and tell them a little bit about your background. My name is Jasmine Star. I am a photographer based in Southern California. I have also taught on Creative Live so it's nice to be on this side of the classroom. It's a lot less stressful. (laughing) I think it's kind of like a pivotal moment in my career because it's been almost a decade since I've become a photographer but I want to do something else and it's kind of scary just to admit that because I'm not sure how I should pivot. Should I go full force and telling stories or should I really foster something that we worked so hard to build. And so as we were sitting in that last section, I couldn't come up with my X and Y so over lunch I kinda scribbled something down. Oh yeah, let's hear it. So I'll just say it and then you guys can fix it. 'Cause you guys did such a good job with everybody else. Okay. I'm telling stories of people doing great things with the little they have and it's interesting because world changing ideas often start with nothing. All right. It's inspiring. I'm not sure it's interesting. Great. Let's make it interesting. Yeah. Yeah. So what's, I don't know. Am I wrong? What do you think? Should I talk more about the back story so that we can fix this. Tell us more about what you're doing and then we'll come up with X and Y. Just lay it out. Just talk to us about what you're doing. So basically I just kind of wanted to actually the goal of the videos is to inspire viewers to do more. So you're transitioning out of photography and you're doing a series of documentary videos? I should be very careful. I'm not transitioning out of photography. And it's hopefully ellipse yet. I think that at this point I'm still going headfirst in my photography career. That's where I am. But I think on a ancillary note, I would like to do something that fulfills me creatively in a way that's maybe been stifled in the past couple years. And so this is my creative project. This is not necessarily a form of monetization hopefully ellipse yet. So I just wanna tell stories of people doing inspiring things without them having the know, the wherewithal, the knowledge, the money, the income, the connections so that it will empower other people watching it to do great things with the little they have. So the first story we started off with was simply a girl walking down Hollywood Boulevard. She encountered a homeless couple and they got into a conversation. She said I'm gonna take you out to a diner and it was there that she learned that they want to create jewelry and so she bought a stamp, a jewelry stamping machine for $300. She gave it to them. And then she went out and sold their jewelry. And now she is working with people transitioning out of homelessness and they have then since gone on worked with other careers and what her company now does is helps people transition out of homelessness and gives them a second chance. So I wanted to tell her story. I think that my demographic would primarily be between women 24 to 34 who have disposable income to invest with the story that I'm telling so that it's also highlighting what these people are doing but also finding a way to pour back into a company that's giving so openly to other. Oh. Interesting. Yeah. That's I mean. It's a pretty, you know, the story that you told was pretty good. I understand what you're doing and starting with the story of this woman. Where are you in the process right now? You have one video, right? Yes it's like a hot mess. Yeah. (laughing) Okay. That's where I am right now. We started the project back in March as like a labor of love. We were taking our own money and I felt like... And who's we? My husband and I. Okay. So we decided to take our income that we have savings said let's just do these projects. Let's just do it. Uh huh. Like who cares. Yeah. And it's difficult because the project was supposed to be four weeks and it ended up taking eight months. Uh huh. That's a standard project. Yeah. (laughing) So I think that we learned a lot and having come to this class now I can pinpoint where I went wrong because ultimately it was my responsibility. I was depending on a team to help me tell a story when I should have been at the helm doing it. I've learned a lot this class. Right. Yeah. Do you okay so who would you wanna be telling the story, are you trying to get investors, are you just trying to tell your story, do you have something that's ready to go or are you just telling the story to yourself a little bit? Who are you trying to tell the story to? The story as in like my substory? The story of your company or is it are you trying to tell the story of this new venture? You know what I mean? Or are you trying to tell the story of the woman who helps homeless people? Again it's a hot mess. But ideally the substory would be my story. So we've entitled the series of projects The Great Little, people doing great things with the little they have. And so the substory creating content about self-discovery as I discover other people's story but the main thrust hopefully at some point in the future for monetization would be to be able to get larger companies like Target or Energizer or Jack Daniels to actually sponsor each of the videos and that could be a way to fund this idea. But again it's also speculative at this point and I'm just doing it out of the labor of love. Right. Right. I don't know. What do other people think in the room? Other thoughts? Questions for Jasmine about how this is working? I think that the question sort of like how to how to storeify this in other words. There seems to be two roads to go and there's one which is the story of in each video and right now you have one video and so there's that story right there. And that one seemed pretty straightforward. You told that like, I got the sense of it and it had the sequence of actions and it had a punchline and it arrived at there's like that made sense. And so I feel like in that sense what you're, if there's another video you're thinking about doing, about somebody else we could maybe help to sort of set that up for you. That would be fantastic. Yeah. Who else were you thinking about doing videos about? Well I'll just put it out into the universe. There's a chef in Los Angeles who's wildly popular and of course because I'm on camera I can't remember his name for the life of me. But he has (laughing) he has a series of successful restaurants and also started the whole food truck phenomenon. And so he? Anybody. Who is this? (indistinct answering) Troy. Yes. Thank you. So he also and I actually heard his story on NPR. He went to Compton which is a traditionally underrepresented African American community of low socioeconomic status and he put in a dining restaurant. Juxtaposed to Church's Fried Chicken and McDonald's he puts in a restaurant with linens and gives people farm to table food and he's saying that we can revolutionize the way that chefs view food by educating people who have been traditionally overlooked. I felt like that was such a compelling story to tell but I think that one component that's missing is a visual and audio narrative of what he's trying to do because it is a big lofty idea. Right. Right. What do people want to know about that story? So I think that's a really compelling idea. What do people wanna know? What are the details that you wanna know? I think that's part of how you would tell that story. So like what are the details of this you want to find out? Is he employing people from the community? How is the community involved in the development of the restaurant? I want to know how the patrons or potential patrons and neighbors are reacting to this. Whether they are embracing it or they think it's weird. And one detail about that by the way. I think again in sort of in terms of the honesty. I feel like when you think you're trying to tell an inspirational story which is I think very valuable. I'm trying to tell an inspirational story often. But if all you do is keep in the inspiration, and then you how many people are feeling, how many people are like, here's what I'm feeling. I'm feeling like oh that seems like an awesome story and then I'm also thinking it's also a little bit like I don't know. It's a little bit like is that really gonna help? Is that really what people, is that the first choice of people who are starving who are in tough financial straights do they really want like a fine linen dining experience for free. And so there's all these questions that are sort of like... And I'm not saying this is a reason not to do the story at all but I'm saying those are questions that people have. And when they're hearing the story they're thinking that's half cool and half bullshit. And your job is to find out you want it to be 75% cool and 25% bullshit. That'll be great. And then you wanna be able to talk about the bullshit part a little bit. So when you're doing this story, it'll make it so much better if you arrive at your inspirational ending if you have somebody in Compton saying I hate this restaurant I'd rather go to Church's. (laughing) That's gonna be a much better detail and there's probably somebody there who says that and then you would go to the chef and sort of say I just talked to somebody who prefers Church's and have him laugh at it or something. Acknowledge the 25% that's bullshit. Am I allowed to say that? Sorry. Okay. Good. (laughing) But you know what I mean? In telling that story it will make the story so much better if you sort of acknowledge sort of the skeptical part of every there's a skeptical side of everything. Does that make sense to you? It makes so much sense. And I feel like already it just gave me so much more insight into how I should approach it. Yeah. Okay good. Thank you. Awesome. Anybody else. What other stories... yeah. Go ahead. I wanna get a question in here quickly from online. People are enjoying this workshop. Getting the exercises and seeing examples from everyone. But we have a question here. Obviously you've seen a lot of stories pitched to you on This American Life and through other NPR shows. We had a question here, any suggestions on how to pitch these stories to shows like that because people just wanna see some concrete things that they can do when they're pitching their stories. Any tips for them? Don't pitch a story about Burning Man. (laughing) There's a lot of those. I just picked on Burning Man but there's a lot of them. Let's see. I think what it is is sort of like well for this American Life in particular you have to acknowledge that there's like certain things they're just out of your control. There are certain things where it's such a small sort of like platform and there's lots and lots of stories and who knows why. It's a very peculiar sort of process. But by and large it helps if there's a plot. I always say this and it always feels weird to talk about when you're talking about journalism or sort of real life. But it helps if there's a plot and it helps if the plot involves some process of transformation. I was talking to Ann earlier and she was talking about the Pixar arc. What's the Pixar arc again? Can you tell me the Pixar arc? Is there a mic? Yeah. So I... Started talking to Alex at breakfast about story telling and I admitted that I didn't know anything about it. But that I had read Daniel Pink's book called To Sell is Human and he refers to the Pixar story arc which is the story formula they've used for each and every one of their films or animations and it's just simply once upon a time. And then it's every day, every day. Everyday she went back and forth to her cubicle. And then one day, she told I don't know. She told Snotty Dotty to F off or something. And it just... And then with the final one there was like once upon a time, everyday, and then one day, and then... And then one day and then and then and there's that and then... So and then something there was a turning point. Something happened. The and then was the she told Snotty Dotty or whatever. Or became the princess or whatever. Right. Or became the princess and it's like so I actually use this in my bio on my website. And I found well, I didn't have anything better so... But when you told me that story like I was thinking like that can somewhat describe like This American Life story too. It starts on one day and then there's a process and then one day something happens and then somebody realizes something about something. So a plot is really like a sort of a key element to pitching a story. Where you know who the person is. You know sort of what you're gonna ask them about in the beginning and you know what the process is and you know what the surprising turn to the story is. That's the easiest way and again you can veer from that formula but if you're trying to crawl your way over the garden wall it's better to have a super simple really plot driven story. And the ones that are the hardest are the ones where the community garden story where you're like I wanna do a story about this phenomenon. And it's just those are hard to do and they take a lot of time and money and nobody's gonna pay you to do it if they don't know who you are. So the tighter and the harder the plot of the story is, the better. Is there anybody else who has a story that they wanna workshop? Again it's very safe space. Yes. So Shawn you wanna go and then we can get to Richard. So I want to tell my story about becoming an entrepreneur and it's interesting because it took getting fired and writing a book to find my aha moment. So two years ago I found myself not being able to sleep. Having pain in my side. Having to go to the doctor and in that frustration realizing it was my job that was causing a lot of this so in a fit of frustration I said to my boss I can't do it. I can not do this job anymore. I have eight things that you want me to deliver. I can not do it. Two months later I was fired. So at that moment I did what any good entrepreneur who was just trying to go out on their own is I wrote a book about it. (laughing) Wrote a book about how leadership in the market place just isn't there or preparation for leadership is not there so I wrote a book about 30 day leadership guide to help you become a better leader. To help managers who were not being helped like I was. And so out of that, I said well now that I've published the book, now that I've written the book and I've had help with it, I don't feel that I was a great writer. But had help now I had to figure out how to publish it, how to market it. This long process of okay so you promote your book on these websites. You submit a press release. You go through all of these steps and process and the long and laborious process of it made me realize that there's something here. There's an aha moment. That aha moment was that writers are not marketers. Writers want to write. They want to just hey here's my book and there you go but I found myself as a pseudowriter as I would say trying to figure out all this stuff. And so in that process I realized there's a business here. I can help authors learn how to market their books and that's where I started book marketing tools. And from that one of the components that I was really interested in doing was education. Educating authors on what they should do and seven months ago we started the author hangout where we help authors learn the same steps in the process that I went through in order to sell more books. So what parts of that story. That was very impressively put together. What parts of the story so let's do some editing basically. What parts of the story resonated with everybody here and what parts did not resonate? Yeah. I'll admit that we like to hear the pain. (laughing) Exactly. And then the resolution from the pain so I would like to hear more about that. Anyway it's my thought. I think you're right. So the ulcers. More on the ulcers. (laughing) What else? Anything else resonate or not resonate where you started talking and what were you glossing over? Editors come on. Yeah. Huh? What were you glossing over? Yeah. I think there was just a bit of repetition I think. Sorry. Just a bit of repetition I think in the second half of your story when you started... I wanted your aha moment to resolve itself quicker than it actually I think resolved. I agree. I got a little lost where we were going. There was sort of a spot in the middle where I wasn't sure. What else? Anybody? Go ahead Ryan. Full disclosure I interviewed Shawn yesterday so I heard a version of this story already but this time when you told it you gave yourself a lot less credit. You were talking about being a pseudowriter and having cowriters and things like that. Just be a writer, man. You still, even if you only wrote half the book that's still being a writer and I think it's a better story if you are clear in what you're doing and just take credit for what you actually did. Right. Yeah. I guess part of it is like I think the tendency to talk yourself down is very strong for certain types of people who want to be writers. (laughing) But yeah and I think the point is address the pain when there's the pain and then address the triumph when there's a triumph and do it straight on. Yeah. I have a question. And I think many of these stories are really compelling and wonderful and rich. And they are based in a difficult experience. And I'd like to maybe learn a little bit more about writing rich stories that are based in That don't have pain at the center? Yeah that aren't pain-driven. (laughing) Can't be done. Yeah. Yeah. Because yeah I think that would be really helpful to see how we we have all read books that I actually told my sister once that I don't read books about pain. I just don't wanna read 'em. It's not that I'm not a compassionate person but I feel that we often can miss stuff in life. Yeah absolutely. What do you read books that you like? What kind of books... What are the plot... The books that you read. Well I think I'm looking for a book that has a really good story. Uh huh. And I'm conflicted in my mind right now between the X and the Y formula and then the points of narrative. Because my position why I am here is I'm telling other people's stories for specific purpose of expanding our understanding of history. So that's a kind of a fine line where you want those moments of realization, Uh huh. Of someone else's realization and we've talked a lot about art and that kind of thing and that is my emphasis where an artist takes a basic medium and transforms it into something that had reverberations which actually does happen. And so I'm still a little confused. I'm still trying to figure that out. How does one artist have difficult lives but I'm not I'm interested in their creative life and not necessarily the cause of the creativity. I think it goes back to sort of like I think for any and I think I would say this is true of anything you read that you enjoy. Anybody who's reading something. There is some conflict is sometimes too strong a word but there's some tension. Right? There's a tension there that needs to be resolved. Otherwise there's not a reason to read it, right? So there's some question, there's some tension. There's some something that poses a question in your mind, that poses something that makes you curious about something. There's something and the best writers do it without without resorting to a formula. They will create a set of conditions that creates a question in your mind that drives you forward. But there's always something pulling you forward and usually that something there's some kind of tension. So it doesn't need to be pain necessarily. But I also feel like that I think the reason that we're drawn to the pain and the narrative is that it does it's a simple easy way of sort of like making yourself vulnerable and sort of universal with other people so other people can relate to you and then everybody wants to find a way out of pain and if you're saying that you found a way out of pain that's like a it's a powerful thing. But yeah. Yeah I was just gonna say when I originally was thinking about writing the story I was thinking about not including that pain where I was just gonna go into the success of hey this is what we're doing. We've helped thousands of authors and all that and I thought that wasn't as or could be as genuine as saying hey, you know what? I didn't just leave a company. I got fired and here's the reasons why. I think also you sort of want one of the powerful things about storytelling is contrast. And that's what I was telling you Jasmine, don't just focus on the heroism. Just focus on the ske... Even if you don't wanna admit it everybody has conflicted feelings about almost everything. Right? Like there's always like... Even if you're bearing it there's always some nagging question about like is that guy full of shit? Or am I full of shit? Or is somebody else full of shit? There's something there's always like... I'm suppressing it right now but I'm wondering that about myself. So there's that raw... And when you acknowledge that it's a helpful thing. So I would say that's what's working for you I think is that it is honest. I think that there's no problem with that like you're not manufacturing this. It's like the actual thing that happened so it does feel honest. And I would just get quicker to sort of like what's the point of what you're doing? So kinda that you went on this journey. You wrote a book. Writing the book comes out a little bit out of nowhere. That was the other thing for me. I was like oh. So wait, you got fired and then you wrote a book. Wait, what? Are you a writer? Like what was that about? (laughing) And then the other thing like if I'm honest, the skeptical part of me was like wait, you got fired and then you wrote a book about management. But were you a manager? Yeah. You were a manager. So, it's a fired manager writing a book about management advice. Yeah it was really a great idea. (laughing) But I think you should acknowledge that. I said to myself I'm not getting the support so why not write a book about what I should've gotten as a guide. Uh huh. So yeah. Right. I see. Uh huh. I just want to say that people were really enjoying Shawn's story saying it was very well told and Jennifer kind of maps out his story there. How it started with desperation, the need to learn something, he learned it and then sharing it with others in need kind of following that story line and I want to tell people actually that Shawn is here because he won a contest to be one of our students here and we are very happy to have you here Shawn. So thank you so much for sharing your story. Yeah. Who else has something that they wanted to... Yeah, yeah. So Richard. Go ahead. So I've been kicking this idea around for a while and since I was selected to be on this training session I've been developing it a little bit more. I think it's less about my story but stories of other people and I find this really interesting. By trade I'm an experience designer. So I do a lot of interviews with a variety of people. I also travel quite a bit so I do a lot of people watching. And what I find very interesting is the inhabitants of a city. So what I wanted to do was create a short miniseries perhaps 10 episodes and tell the story of a city through the eyes of the people who live in that city. So what I'm looking at is so first I would start off with San Francisco 'cause I know it so well. So talking about a small business owner who lives in the Mission during the time of gentrification and the high cost of living and maybe even telling a story about a fourth generation Chinese family in Chinatown and how the city has changed over time. So I think we could learn a lot about a city from the people who live in it. So that's kind of where I would love to go. So the... And the idea is that you would go to different cities and just sort of like inhab... Talk to sort of longtime residents who sort of have have thoughts on... Yeah. So okay. In a sense. Even people who aren't longtime residents. Like a VC in Silicon Valley has a very interesting story to tell about San Francisco. So I think there's a lot of stories to be told in each one of these cities and you can learn a lot about the city through its inhabitants. So it's kind of people watching in a sense but kind of getting a little bit more about the stories of the people you're actually looking at. All right. So what do you guys think about this? Yeah go ahead. Lina. It reminds me when I decided I wanted to do radio a few years... Oh yeah I'm sorry. When I decided to do radio a few years ago I decided to do a project about all 50 states and I tried to get one person to represent each state which turned out to be useless. Like you can't encompass a state with one person. Why did it turn out to be useless? It was a great experience for me to like learn very basic things about interviewing and cutting and whatever but... I was just getting people to talk about a very, very tiny part of a tiny town in like a very big state. And it's a great exercise I think but it's so hard to encompass that much space and I think even a city is just so big to try and represent. And my suggestion is that there's this guy at the NPR affiliate in Baltimore, Aaron and I don't remember his last name but he did a story a few years ago where he interviewed every single person who lives on one block. And even that took him I want to say years. Years. Because just hundreds of people inhabit city blocks. And let me just stop you there. I want you to keep going but just let me stop you there because okay. So, the difference between everybody I felt everybody felt this when you said your idea and I want everybody to be brutally honest. When you said your idea of you want to go to cities and talk to people, what how much what percentage let's see. The people who are over 50% that's a good idea. Let me just set it up this way. (laughing) I had a response which was sort of like there's like that's a 20% good idea and a 80% bad idea because it's gonna be hard to pull off and I'm not that interested in what you're telling me. I'm like part of me is like yeah maybe. But then most of me was like 80%. And then when I heard the interviewed everybody on the same block I was like there's an 80% like oh. That's an interesting something about it. And I'm wondering if that was, did everybody feel that way? Or was that... So felt the way I did? And who felt like no, no I was with Richard in the beginning? We have somebody in the chatroom who is on Richard's side who says I find Richard's story compelling. Some cities really have a very solid sense of their own identity whether it matches reality or not. Right. So they'd be for his project. So far be it for me to separate a young man from his dreams. (laughing) But I will tell you as somebody who's like tried who's gone places and tried to tell a compelling story when you land and where the story is about the place. There's something about having a good frame for your story. And something about you can't talk to everybody in the city it's true. So there's just this element of randomness that you're fighting every single time you're doing that. And you don't have a subject that you're really talking about. Tell me about your city is gonna be like could you answer that question in a compelling way? I think it's less about the city and it's more about the people who inhabit. Like their story. Right. Right. But then I'm wondering so what's the difference between talking to... So I guess what I'm saying is sort of like there's something about getting the frame... If you're just gonna be talking to people about their stories which is essentially what you're doing. So it's a focus problem like it's not focused enough. What's the framing problem? Like you're gonna be talking to people about their stories. You're gonna essentially go and you're gonna find people with good stories to tell and you wanna hear those good stories and you're gonna talk to some people and their stories aren't gonna be good and then you're gonna talk to other people and they're stories are gonna be good. And the organizing principle of your story is that these are people... These are good stories in Baltimore. Or these are good stories in New Orleans or whatever. And the organizing principle it isn't that different from these are just good stories. You know? What are the fact that they're from Baltimore really have to do with anything unless they're super Baltimore specific in which case I don't know. Maybe that could work. So anyway, so Cara. So do you see where I'm going? But then just to finish my thought and then... But like when all the sudden when it becomes like it's a magical project where you can talk to every single person on a block, then the organizing principle informs the content in a certain way 'cause then you're like oh so all these people they're all on the same block and yet they have different opinions. I don't know. There's something about it that all the sudden because it's a bite sized thing, it sort of makes it more manageable. Let me get some of these people and then... Yeah. So Cara first and then...yeah. I kind of interpreted it and I may be wrong but that the organizing principle was the people's relationship to their city and in that you're trying to kind of capture the zeitgeist of the city through little vignettes of the inhabitants. And that sounded like fascinating to me. And I think, I'm just thinking of San Francisco. People feel really strongly about San Francisco in all different neighborhoods and that story is different in each neighborhood. So I don't know. Yeah. No. I agree and I think that could be... If the mission of it is sort of like what do the people of San Francisco say about their city that is different than the people of other cities. As long as there's something that you're learning that is somehow connected to San Francisco, but I feel like the frame of just stories from San Francisco is too, it's effectively the same as stories from people who speak English in America. (laughing) Or whatever. But as long as it's connected to the city and then Ann you had your hand up. Yeah. And then... But the interesting tidbit in your story is that I mean we talked about this at lunch a little bit the very specific examples you gave about San Francisco. There is this tension right now because San Francisco is transitioning and you gave two very specific examples about that transition so the Mission district about how that's transitioning and fourth generation Chinatown, how it's changed over the years. So I think it's because you're very familiar with San Francisco if you stick to that transitioning theme and humanize it I think that's what's missing. 'Cause we hear on the news all the time about that soccer field story. How But not hearing the actual story. Because that's what's creating the us and the them. People love to blame the Google buses and the tech companies but who are the people that actually work there. They're people too and they care about the city just as much. Yeah and then again, the other thing to do in sort of situations like this is not come at it directly. If you can find stories that kind of comment on that but are about something else but that will comment on the thing that you're seeing. Like the Mr. Rogers story was, it was commenting on that very thing. It was commenting on sort of gentrification and the people in the neighborhood feeling displaced by the people coming in but it wasn't claiming to be about that thing and I think if it had claimed to be about that, again this is what I'm talking about. You're sneaking in the stories in a Trojan horse that seems more exciting. It's sort of like you're setting up a frame that creates a sense of sort of like excitement and that's what the block does. Its just sort of like oh it's a weird little gambit and it's a way of hearing people's stories that sort of gives you something to look forward to so that's what I think. I think you need one more thing to that. Yeah Ann. You had your hand up. Sorry. This is a really fascinating process for me as a visual artist that the difference between your example and your example is I could picture it in my mind more clearly with the version you offered up and I like if you even got more specific like let's just look at the refrigerators, contents of refrigerators in 50 states. Now I can really visualize that. (laughing) So there's something... I'm just curious if you can visualize it, is that a test? I don't, maybe. I never thought about it that way because I'm the opposite of a visual person so I've never actually thought about that but I think there's something to that. There's definitely a scale issue. Where the scale is smaller and it was easier to sort of... It just gave it a little bit more of a reason for being. But to me what I think about it is like the refrigerator thing is a good... You need an excuse for people to talk about something else and the excuse has to be a compelling. At Live we were talking for a long time about just doing a one building show. Where we would just interview everybody in a building. You know? And that we were sort of excited by that. We were always, this was something that was always coming up because if you're honest this is the reason that we had This American Life was doing what you're talking about doing. It was a show devoted to talking to people and hearing their stories. Right? But you couldn't just it's too mushy that frame. And so each week we had to come up that was the whole reason for the theme was to organize which stories we're going to hear and why. And it gives you a sense of sort of like this week we're gonna hear stories on this theme and we were constantly coming up with organizing principles that would give us an excuse to talk to people and hear their stories that was something other than I'm gonna talk to people and hear their stories. You know? And so that was something we did this one that was like 24 hours at the Golden Apple which was like we just went to this 24 hour diner and we hung out there for 24 hours and we just talked to people there. And that was essentially we were doing what you're doing. We were like but it was because we did another one called rest stop where we just went to a rest stop and talked to people at the rest stop about their stories and it was like the reason we did that was to avoid the problem that you're facing which is sort of like otherwise it's just too big. It's like the world. So what are we talking about here? So I think limiting your self is a very... And then once you've limited yourself it gives you an excuse to sort of like go wherever you wanna go. You know? You can do a story about Mr. Rogers and go to sort of like gang relations and gentrification but like as long as you know, as long as you have a starting place. Yeah. I was also gonna say like the Speak Show. Like you could limit it in terms of place which is the diner or in terms of time. Like these are stories that happened in one week. All across the country. Just kind of some framework to fit it under. Absolutely. Yeah. Just something that sort of like keeps it tighter. Yeah, Morgan. Just quickly, I was really into the idea when you approached it. (laughing) I think what helped with San Francisco is it sounds like you live here and you know San Francisco. I think it'd be really hard to go to a city where you don't, you aren't familiar with the neighborhoods and you aren't familiar with the range of people that live there and then try to paint a portrait of it. And in terms of scale like what if the whole miniseries was a portrait of San Francisco and you talked to people in different neighborhoods for each episode? But even what you're doing right there is you're further limiting it. You're subdividing San Francisco by neighborhood and so you're giving it a sort of like you're even within the premise that he was saying you're giving it another. Right, right, right. Just tampered it down and then pare it down. Absolutely. Yeah. And the other thing that help I think is to just have a... Identify some kind of... At least a theory about what's different about San Francisco. What are the unique things that are happening in San Francisco. And I would, I will get you in one second but like one example of that. We did a show about an aircraft carrier a while ago for This American Life. And we had the same problem. We're gonna go under the aircraft carrier and it's like 5000 people and we're not gonna be able to talk to all of them, right? What are we asking them about? We'll probably get lucky but we needed like a theory sort of. You know what I mean? It was still too big of a vessel to like just like be like we're flying in and we're just gonna talk to people. It's like it's scary to do that and you don't know... Again the whole reason you need the X and Y. You need to focus your sort of like focus your line of questioning otherwise you're just sort of like going fishing. Otherwise you're betting on the inside straight. So the theory we came up with we sort of did a bunch of research and sort of read about stuff about aircraft carriers and then we realized that there are like these gigantic floating cities where they have all these... They've got nuclear missiles and they've got... They're these incredibly complicated nuclear reactors that see five thousand people and it's run by teenagers. Pretty much everybody on board is a teenager. (laughing) And then we're like oh right. That's an interesting how does that work? (laughing) How is it like not constantly going wrong? You know? How are they constantly not blowing up and they run very well. So and that gave us sort of a sense of questioning that we were like we're gonna be dealing with teenagers here and why are they not behaving like teenagers when they're on the aircraft carrier? What's happening? So, anybody other people have like yeah, yeah. Hannah. Well I have just noticed a correlation between what Espree was talking about what Richard's talking about which you were talking about like the 80 20 bullshit non bullshit. He's talking about what happens when startups and stuff move into cities. That's what's happening in the Mission and I'm from Seattle and so we're in a residential crisis right now where no one can afford to live in the city except the people who are coming in to work for startups and so I saw a really I just saw a really interesting correlation there where like his side of the story is the other sort of side to like people who are coming in and starting businesses. Which is both of those are like pretty well told stories. I feel they're like pretty commonly told but I just when you were talking about that I was like well what about transitioning cities and what it means on the other side of that. Right. Right. And I think that's the other thing that I think that if there's one thing that comes out of this if you know, if you have the thought this is a pretty well told story just keep brainstorming. Brainstorm for like 25, 30 more minutes about what is the thing that's interesting to you about it. And what is the thing 'cause chances are if you're still interested in it even though you've heard the stories, there's something that you feel like the coverage is not getting. You know? And you're probably right. But it's just a matter of identifying what that thing is and sort of like talking it through with your friends and colleagues and people who you know and just trying to figure out what is the thing that I'm seeing here even though I know all this coverage is out there that I'm fascinated by. And just keep workshopping it until you get to the one where you're like oh yeah. That's the interesting part that I have not heard yet. You have a story that you wanna tell? So like I was saying yesterday a whole 24 hours ago seems like last week or something. Yeah we've been through so much together. (laughing) I feel like I know you so well. We're BFFs. But yeah. I've been thinking about potential podcast ideas. And I was thinking about the idea of getting together with someone for coffee and going to a coffee shop and I spend a lot of time in coffee shops and I feel like as a culture it has like become this third space. There's like home, there's work and then there's the coffee shop. And there's so many really interesting conversations that I have, like intimate, funny, weird conversations that I have over coffee with someone that's either really close or somebody that I've just met and I want I'm trying to work through how I could potentially make that into an interesting show. All right. What do people think? Conversations over coffee as a podcast? Yeah. Go ahead. So Suzy. You can take my idea because I didn't complete it but I did that last year called Cafe a Day where I went up to someone a stranger and asked one question just totally randomly depending on what they looked like and where we were and I made videos and it was really incredible. I did it in airports all over the country and cafes. I think if it's focused, like if you look at that, what is it? Comedian's drinking coffee in cars. Maybe take a look at that and see how that could (laughing) translate. Damn you Jerry Seinfeld. (laughing) I think it would have to be focused on some topic or you'd need something wrapping around it. Yeah I wonder like some of my favorite podcasts have like this thing that they do every every show. Like Aisha Tyler's Girl on Guy podcast at the end of every show she has this segment called self-inflicted wounds and every guest tells the story of, it's usually like a drunken tale of misfortunate events that they did to themselves and it's like a way of neatly tying every week despite the biographical narrative of that personal guest. They all end with this story and I also like what This American Life does with the kind of outro and the funny thing that you do with, I don't know who. The back piece. Exactly. It's the end and you're sad that it's over and then there's that funny bit at the end and I'm trying to think about maybe asking one question to random people in the first act or first segment. But I don't know. So I would say like to me the coffee shop is like again basically it's the same thing that Richard's doing. It's an excuse to talk to people and get them to tell you stories. Right? And I think again it's sort of like the fact that it's happening over coffee to me doesn't add that much. Right? It doesn't make me it isn't limiting enough in a certain way and in a certain way going up to a stranger and just sort of like trying to get as quickly as you can to an interesting moment with a stranger is a sort of like... That's scarier. I guess this brings me to another point which is that we were talking about pain and suffering that comes with telling a good story. But I do think that discomfort definitely leads to good stories. And chatting with friends over coffee is not a very uncomfortable position. Well they wouldn't be my friends. Right. Right. But I'm just saying (laughing) it's okay. I'm just saying like there's not a lot of inherent tension in the act. In fact it's the opposite. It's sort of like it's a very friendly warm thing and so if I think... If there's a... There's this British show that was on the BBC for a while that was like where the host would just call a random payphone. And then just try to talk to whoever answered and it was this really and it just set first of all you're just wondering like oh who's gonna answer? What's gonna be going on? And then it jumped you right into the middle of these weird little dramas that when people would answer the phones. And there's something that's weird about it and there's something that's sort of like I don't know. It's not high stakes exactly. But there's more inherent tension to it. So that's what I would say. Is I would say if there's something... I think I want you to do something that is more uncomfortable for you. And I think then you'll feel more I think you're likely to get better stuff. Again it's just the odds. We're playing the odds here. But I feel like I'm not sure I'm not and again I could be wrong. Do the coffee shop thing. Get some stories. Play them for people and ask them to be honest about whether they were interested. And if they're not interested, try and go and do something that feels a little scarier to you. As someone who works with podcasters a lot, I see this all the time. And so what works really well with what you're want to do in podcast is if the story if the show was about coffee. Right? And the stories came out of talking about coffee. Right? The stories kind of like telling that bigger story off something that's more focused. Especially if you notice people pick shows that are really popular and they all have famous names attached to them. 'Cause it's really hard to find your audience until you find an audience that is very focused on one thing. People who love coffee, they brew coffee, they drink coffee. You have to be passionate about that subject so that when you're on episode you're still enjoying talking about it. So I don't care if you just love coffee everything about coffee and experiencing different coffee the way people experience wine, then you can have that story while you're use coffee to break in and then get that deeper story. But it's difficult to grab ahold. I mean if it's a hobby podcast you get five hundred people that listen but to grow larger, getting it more narrow really helps with the podcast especially if you're not Aisha Tyler. (laughing) No. Yeah coffee culture has always been really important. I'm also Ethiopian and coffee's like... Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee. That's where it was discovered and much like the Japanese tea ceremony, Ethiopians have like a coffee ceremony and I've always been really... I went to boarding school in Italy and coffee culture in Italy is really important and I've always been really fascinated not only the process of making coffee and how different it is in different cultures but the people that are really into coffee are like really into coffee. Yeah, that's your in right there. Especially in podcasting. Yeah that's a good point. Yeah. I have a few comments from online. Questions that are coming in. People love hearing these examples from all of our students here. A few questions that came in Susan K and I know we kinda touched on this a little bit but Susan K says do all good stories have to have this element of making you uncomfortable? (laughing) And it seems to keep coming back to that in a lot of these examples. Any more you want to say about that? You know. I don't know. All no. Probably not. There's plenty of stories that we've all read where it's about well, I don't know. I think to create them, I think you have to at least there has to be an element of surprise a little bit. Something unexpected. And the unexpected is often a little frightening. So you have to it has to go in a different direction. And it doesn't have to be like... It's not like you have to go down a shark tank or something like that. There's just the thing that makes you a little bit oh, I have to call somebody that I don't know or something like that. There's this story that we did playing on money a long time ago we were interviewing this guy and he was talking about this weird thing that happened with this credit card company in Canada where they had analyzed all this data and they could determine how likely someone was to pay off their credit card bill or to be behind on their credit card bill by looking at their purchases and there was certain purchases that correlated extremely highly with credit card behavior. So for example bird seed. If you bought bird seed, you never fell behind on your credit card. (laughing) Something about bird seed buyers they paid off their credit card every single time. And then something about and then there was this bar Sharks which they had this really weird highly correlated sort of effect of like people who went to Sharks were always behind on their credit cards and so and it was like that that minute. The data was that crazy. And so we did a story and then we called the bar Sharks and this isn't a gigantic act of bravery or anything like that but it was slightly uncomfortable. It's like you're putting yourself in a slightly uncomfortable position of calling a bunch of strangers and then asking them did they pay off their credit cards. And we did and we got this woman who was at the bar in Sharks and she was like oh yeah, and then we were like did you pay your credit card and she was like well yeah I think so. And then we're like how much are you sure? And she was like actually no. And so like it actually turned out to be true. So that's not like we were risking our lives or anything like that. But we were putting ourselves out there. In small and large ways and with startup, I'm like walking into an investor meeting with my microphone and my headphones on and fumbling around and that's a very uncomfortable position to be in. And I'm doing it because I'm somewhat trusting that something good will emerge from it. But it's not comfortable. This is not a comfortable, like while I'm doing it I'm scared. And I'm anxious and I feel gross. And I'm like hoping that it's gonna be worth it. You know? And just... While I was interviewing Ann I was like I was scared a little bit. I'm nervous. I'm like nervous about what's happening. When she starts crying I'm nervous. I'm like I don't know what I'm supposed to do. You know? And then I was like I should probably... But I also sort of actually didn't know what I'm supposed to do which is sort of ask more questions but it seems wrong but I did anyway and it got better tape out of (laughing) this sobbing woman. You know? So, that's all I'm saying. You don't have to be like a hero but I'm just saying sort of like go towards the thing that you're feeling a little bit uncomfortable about and that'll often. All right we'll do one more. Yeah, we'll do one more. Kristy, yeah. Well I was just gonna say the thing about story is that it's interesting when there is a conflict or tension. It's not interesting when it's perfect. I mean think about the Christmas letter you get that every child, their child is top of the class and their husband got a raise and they're a beauty queen. You're like shut up. (laughing) Have you read the David and Eric's Christmas letter? It's really good. It's not funny. It's not interesting. But it's interesting when their husband lost their job and it's kinda like Facebook posts. Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. (laughing) Yeah totally. Absolutely. Now this one has gotten a lot of votes in the chatroom here. People are looking for some tangible tips here. People are doing their own thing but some people wanna know any tips or tricks as we get down to the end of this session here, any tips or tricks on how to get that first job as a radio journalist. As we're taking some of these tools that we've learned in this segment. Any quick tips you can give as we head out of this segment? I think getting a first job, like I would really, I think now more than ever, you I mean if you can do it go down and volunteer at the public radio station if that's what you wanna do. But, I don't know. Like I... The world is changing a lot and I think now more than ever what you're looking for when you go to the you're not gonna get a job so you're gonna be working for free anyway. And you're not gonna be getting that much mentoring 'cause everybody there is like way overstressed and under resourced and they don't have time to mentor you for free. And you're probably gonna be better off trying to do your own thing and just surrounding yourself with a community of people that can help you and that can be honest with you and if you get honest feedback from a couple friends you're way ahead of the game. And then if you can find mentors somewhere else who know who can this sort of who you can send something to every month. Just sort of say don't don't come tell me the actionable advice. I made this thing. Could you listen to it and just give me like five minutes? And many of them will say absolutely I will and they won't do it. I've done that many times. (laughing) But not because we didn't like it or anything it's just because we ran out of time. But just keep doing that, that would be advice is sort of like try, go see if you can get a job in public radio. Go and volunteer. That's the way it happens. But I think those jobs are less and less and... (indistinct answering from audience) Yeah. But yes. That's what I'm saying. Start your own thing. I think is the better answer. I really do. Especially now more than anything. Just do it. Just do it. And like it'll make the mistakes but do it but then find the only reason you want that job in public radio is because you want mentorship and so find other ways of getting mentorship but do it.

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers.

Join Alex Blumberg, award-winning reporter and producer for This American Life and co-host of NPR’s Planet Money, for Power Your Podcast with Storytelling, and learn podcast tips on how to tell powerful, memorable stories through audio.

Storytelling is in our DNA – integrating its principles into a podcast not only helps you tell better stories, it allows you to authentically and emotionally connect with your audience. In this class, you will learn the unique approach to interviewing and story composition, which has made This American Life a fan favorite on public radio stations across the country. Alex will share production techniques you can use to create a multi-layered sensory experience and share tips for standing out in the ever-growing field of podcasts. You’ll learn: 

  • How to develop your narrative instincts
  • How to prepare for an interview to get the best answers
  • The elements of a good story

Alex will teach you how to create a “driveway moment” — that experience when the story is so good, it makes the audience pause what they are doing just to listen through to the end.

Whether you already produce a successful podcast, are a creative entrepreneur looking for a new marketing method, or just a public radio-loving audiophile – this class will help you tell better stories.


Matt James Smith

The best storytelling resource I've come across bar none. I've read all the books, paid for all the online courses, listened to all the podcasts but for me none have been anywhere near as useful, engaging, moving, fun and outright inspiring as this course. If you're trying to tell stories with factual material, whatever your medium, this is as good as it gets. Regarding those reviewers saying it was haphazard and underprepared - huh? He doesn't offer strict formulas and perfectly structured, detailed approaches, but that's because he's the real deal. Those things only exist for snake-oil-merchant online "story gurus" who charge through the nose for "the perfect strategy" (*cough* Patrick Moreau *cough*). Alex offers what he can of tricks and formulae, but where it's about experience and gut feelings, he's honest. Thank god. Superb.

Gregory Lawson

This class is great on multiple levels. Are you interested in interviewing? There are great tips and techniques. Interested in Storytelling? Great insights into the basic structures and tools to test how compelling your story idea is. Interested in podcasting? Great tips and ideas here too... Alex is a seasoned pro, has an easy, approachable style and allows his class (and you) time to really consider and work through the concepts. Excellent all the way around!