Knowing Your Superpower
I’ve made podcasts about tech and business for nearly a decade now. I know — really know — how to write for radio. But also, I know how to READ a script aloud. No matter how basic or run-on the sentence, I can usually salvage it with the right delivery. In other words, a multitude of crappy writing skills can be covered up with tone and voice, making a dumb-nothing phrase like “you know what I mean?” sound saucy, conspiratorial, plaintive, or instructional. It’s my superpower.
An example of how a dumb-nothing phrase can imply vastly different things depending on the read.
Don’t get me wrong. When I took over as host of NPR’s TED Radio Hour (my first episode debuted the same day we all went into lockdown; you have to laugh), a handful of the show’s longtime fans weren’t thrilled with my higher-pitched voice. I particularly loved one listener’s assurance that some voice coaching would help me achieve my professional dreams. Um, I already have my dream job… but thanks? Anyway, on the whole, listeners have been encouraging, supportive, and kind. The team and I have hit our stride and, though I’m a bit of a late bloomer, we’re in the midst of a good run.
My goal is to dig into some of the weirdo ideas I’ve been carrying around that have never been quite appropriate for a podcast: thoughts and ideas about how we process information, our relationship to time and aging, and what so many of us are looking for as we fall out of love with ambitions based on “killing it” or “exiting.” Yes, “move fast and break things” has been over for a while now, but is the Type A era done too? Will Gen X managers ever really stop rolling their eyes at millennial employees who set away notices on Slack after 5 p.m.? I’ll delve into topics ancillary to those I’ve been investigating on my indie podcast, ZigZag, which is about building more humane businesses and doing work that doesn’t steal our soul. (Did you see how run-on that last sentence was? Sheesh.) And yes, I might fall on my crutch and add some audio to my posts.
I hope you’ll follow me here and sign up for my newsletter. Tell me if I strike a chord and please, answer questions I have for you, like:
What is your professional superpower? How has it helped AND hindered you?