8. Favo(u)rite things
Peter: Hey Jen.
Jen: Hey Peter.
Peter: I think today is a flagship day for us because we've done something that we've never done before.
Jen: This is true.
Peter: What have we done?
Jen: Well, we've taken notes, and are going to reference our notes when we talk today.
Peter: Which is rare for us because usually this is very much a free-flowing conversation, so I'm interested to see where it takes us.
Jen: Yeah, we asked each other to come prepared to discuss our favorite things.
Peter: Let's jump into it. This is The Long and The Short Of It.
Okay Jen, so we gave each other some homework to come up with our favorite, or our most impactful version or resource of the following things: a fiction book, a nonfiction book - I threw in a little bonus one that you may not know about just to keep it, you know, in line with the rest of our podcasts, and that is audiobook.
Jen: Oh, sneaky. Very sneaky.
Peter: Sorry about that. We also had: favorite podcast episode. Another one that you threw in, which I liked, was our favorite website - which took me a long time - our favorite word, our favorite video, and finally our favorite show. So those are the criteria. How, how's your homework going? How did you go with your homework?
Jen: Well, it was good. The one thing that I found sort of disturbing was that my initial list looked very homogenous, and I realized how much of my way of thinking has been shaped really by white western males, and so it was important for me to recognize this, and now I shall start looking at the things I'm inputting into my brain in a new way. But I thought I would share what I actually put on my list, and then I'm hoping that about a year from now we can do this again, and I'll have all sorts of new things to share.
Peter: Yeah, I love that. And I think, like, just to applaud the fact that you recognize that too, because I, I've had a similar reaction to me realizing a lot of the things, the resources on my list, come from males, which is an interesting thing to observe, and the good news is now we can do something about it.
Jen: Okay. Well let's dive in. So Pete, what is your favorite or most impactful fiction book?
Peter: I had a lot of trouble not putting Harry Potter on this list or at the top of this list, but I didn't. So instead I went with a book called The Little Prince, or the original, I believe, it's French, so it's actually Le Petit Prince.
Jen: Oh yes.
Peter: If there's any French listeners out there, and I've butchered the pronunciation, I'm sorry. But this book, I think it's almost a rite of passage as a kid that you are given, and I read this book, but in recent times, in the last twelve months, I reread it, and was struck by the, like the power of the message in that book, that it's not only entertaining for a kid to read, but as an adult when you read it, there is so much meaning and so much value and so many truths in all of the characters in The Little Prince. And so I've got that on there as one of the most timeless, and one of my favorite fiction books. Have you read it?
Jen: Yes I've read it, and in fact when I was working as an artistic director, we produced the stage version of that show, or the stage version of that book as a show.
Peter: Nice. That would have been amazing. Now it's your turn: your favorite or most impactful fiction book.
Jen: This was honestly really hard for me because - you know this, Peter - but I don't read enough fiction. I am constantly reading mostly nonfiction - actually during the months of September to May, it's like almost exclusively nonfiction - and then the summer I read some fiction while I'm sitting on the beach. But there was a time in my life when I was voraciously reading fiction, and so I thought I would go back to that time in my life when my favorite author was John Irving, and I have literally read every single thing he's ever written. I think my favorite book of his is The World According to Garp, and the reason it is my favorite is: there is a scene - which I will tell you nothing about because my hope is that if you haven't read this book, you will go out and read it, and when you do, you'll know when you get to it - but there's a scene in the book that is so shocking and so crazy and upsetting, that while I was reading I started out-loud making crazy noises, and then I slammed the book shut, and I threw it.
Jen: And I've never had a response like that to a book before. And then of course I scrambled and grabbed the book again and found the page and reread it just to make sure that I had read what I thought I read. Anyway, it's a fantastic book, and um, his, his writing is, is quite evocative, so -
Peter: Yeah, I haven't read that book, and now I have to because of that story. So thank you.
Jen: I mean the whole thing is crazy, but it's so good.
Peter: Okay. Let's move into your favorite genre: nonfiction - which is also my favorite genre. I have this issue too that I don't read enough fiction, so let's move into some nonfiction. What is your favorite and/or most impactful nonfiction book?
Jen: For this I had to go with "most impactful," because I have so many favorites in this particular genre, but the most impactful is, without question, Start With Why by Simon Sinek. When I read this book, everything just seemed to click. It's not like Simon had invented the concept of "purpose," but what he had invented was such a simple way to articulate what it means to have a purpose, and I happened to be reading it at the time that I was meant to be able to understand it, and after reading that book, I literally changed my life. I started looking at everything differently. I started looking at everything I was doing differently - why I was doing it, who I was doing it with - and it has been a wonderful journey to start with, "Why?"
Peter: Yeah. That featured very highly on my list, and may or may not feature later in the episode on my list.
Jen: What about you, Peter?
Peter: Well, I had to go with "most impactful" as well, because "favorite" was far too hard, so I went for "most impactful," and where that took me was to a book that that changed my life in the sense that - and I know you don't like it when we say a book changes your life because it was me by picking up and reading that book that changed my life - but the book just introduced me to all of these new things that then actually led me to find the Start With Why book and led me to find a bunch of other books, which have ultimately had a really big impact. And so the book is: The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss, and it's, it's meaningful to me, not in the sense that I created or "joined the New Rich" is what he calls it, and created a four hour work week. I didn't do that at all, but it's meaningful to me in the sense, or impactful to me in the sense that it was the catalyst for me to see and realize that my thoughts of, "there's gotta be an easier way, there's got to be a better way, there's got to be a more meaningful to live my life," weren't crazy, and that someone had also experienced this and written a book about it, and so that threw me on a different trajectory where I discovered his podcasts, and through his podcast I discovered hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of thought-leaders and really powerful and inspiring people that he interviews, which then led me to their books into their ways of thinking and their ideas, so that really was the catalyst for a lot of change for me, that book.
Jen: Very cool. Yeah you, you reference that book a lot in our conversations, so I'm not surprised that it's topping your list as most impactful.
Peter: Okay. I'm going back to audiobook.
Jen: Okay. Well you can do this one by yourself, because I don't listen to audiobooks.
Peter: Okay, okay, deal. I would like to shout out my favorite audiobook on the planet, which is the autobiography of Bruce Springsteen, and it's titled: Born to Run.
Jen: You mean The Boss?
Peter: The Boss, and it is read by The Boss.
Peter: You will never hear a more encapsulating and authentic and engaging narrator than Bruce Springsteen narrating his own book. It is unbelievable. He breaks into song, he like, riffs a little bit, and it's just, oh, it's engrossing. It's like twenty hours, and it's just so good. I've listened to it three times, and I highly recommend it for everybody.
Jen: Maybe this'll get me into audiobooks.
Peter: Oh, if you, like you love podcasts; you just treat this as like ten podcasts, and it is so good.
Jen: Okay. I'm going to check it out. Thank you for that.
Peter: Of course, which leads us to podcasts, actually. So Jen, what's your favorite podcast episode?
Jen: I love that we had to narrow it down to podcast episode, because there is no way with the amount of podcasts that we listen to, it would be possible to pick just one podcast as an entity to highlight, there are so many. But my favorite podcast episode is a two-part episode. It is an episode of EntreLeadership, which some people might be surprised to learn that I listened to, but I do. EntreLeadership - it is the two-part episode with Dr Michael Jervais, and this is how I was first introduced to his work, and the episodes are amazing, but the thing that really hooked me on him was he tells the story of working with NASA and Red Bull when they were doing this space jump, which was so crazy, where they got this free-jumper to literally go out into outer space and then jump back to earth. It's crazy, and you can actually watch the video of the actual launch and the jump on Youtube, and if you can breathe while you're watching it, more power to you because I basically held my breath for the full two hours. It's crazy. He talks about how he trained Felix Baumgartner to do the jump, and hearing him talk about this, I had so many "Aha" moments about how the training to overcome anxiety triggers has to start in a totally different way than I had ever been approaching it in my own work and really changed how I was working with my artists after listening to him talk about getting a guy to jump from outer space back to Earth - it's remarkable. So that is the podcast episodes I would recommend.
Peter: I love that you cheated and made it a two-part episode, but that is a phenomenal story, and I think Felix actually - just to throw in as part of the story - I think he fell unconscious halfway through that jump, and then regained consciousness on the way down, which is like, it's hard to even get your head around it.
Jen: And what about you?
Peter: Well, I feel weird re-referencing Tim Ferriss, but I'm going to, not because of him, but because of the person that he interviews, because the most amazing podcast interview I've ever heard was when Tim Ferriss interviewed Terry Crews (and for those wondering, it's episode two-hundred eighty-seven of the Tim Ferriss show - I looked it up). This interview with Terry Crews is like mind-blowing on so many levels. Here is a guy that is physically and literally a giant, like a six foot four ball of muscle. He used to play NFL, and is almost a bodybuilder in the size and the sheer muscular definition of the guy. And so what's fascinating is hearing him talk about his struggle, hearing him talk about his background, his father, his relationship with himself and the people that he grew up with, both in football and outside of football, and he's actually an artist as well, and got an art scholarship, and he's a creative, and he's an inventor, and he's an actor now, and he's just this living embodiment that you know, you just don't know what someone's story is until you are curious enough to ask them. And that - hearing him talk, and this line that always stood out to me is that "vulnerability is not a weakness," like that line just - not haunts me, but just echoes in my head all the time. That if Terry Crews, you know, the physical manifestation of what it means to be a quote unquote "strong male" is vulnerable enough and willing to talk about his struggles and his hard parts in an open public platform - because this was filmed live - then I think it's just like inspiring for the rest of us to do the same. So, Terry Crews, episode two eighty-seven of the Tim Ferriss show. That is my favorite podcasts of all time.
Jen: Love it.
Jen: Okay. This next category had you puzzled when I first brought it up.
Peter: So random.
Jen: The reason I brought it up is because I had something in mind, so I sort of cheated.
Peter: You totally did. But I did that with audiobooks, so you're allowed.
Jen: True. Okay. So we're both cheats. The category is favorite website, and my favorite website is - get your browsers ready folks - VisualThesaurus.com.
Peter: Oh my gosh.
Jen: VisualThesaurus.com. It is the best. If I was ever going to get a tattoo, which I am not, but if I was, I would basically get a screenshot of Visual Thesaurus -
Jen: - because I love it so much. So, you type in a word, and then this sort of family tree springs to life: the family tree of words. So, we'll try it, try it at home right now! I'm going to go to Visual Thesaurus right now - I'm talking with you, Peter - so I'm going to type in the word, "purpose."
Peter: I'm doing this with you at the same time: "Purpose."
Jen: Okay. And then look what happens. It shows you all the different meanings of "purpose" -
Jen: - and then the related words. So what I might be talking about is "resolve," that's one of the pathways I can go down, and then there's a green button that I can click between the word "purpose" and the word "resolve," and when I do it then creates a "resolve" family tree. I'm obsessed with this website, because for me, I love words, I love language, and I love thesauruses, but there is something so satisfying about seeing it laid out this way as opposed to just a list of words.
Peter: I have, just have to say, the website itself - I mean it looks a little old, so it would be a very amusing tattoo if you went to get that screenshot.
Jen: I just mean the word, like not all the buttons. You're right, it is a little dated, but the actual word-family-trees are just everything. I love them so much.
Peter: They're amazing. Okay. That's a good favorite website then, comes with a good story. I'm glad that you were able to throw that one in there.
Jen: And what about you?
Peter: I was scratching my noggin with this one a lot - I was scratching my noggin, which, I don't know if that's an Australianism, but it means "head."
Jen: No, we have that over here in the States as well.
Peter: Okay, so noggin is a thing. So I was scratching my noggin thinking, "Favorite website," like, "I don't have a favorite website. What's Jen talking about?" And so what I landed on was not - it doesn't feel that exciting, but the reason for it I think is why it's my favorite - and the website is Airbnb.com.
Peter: Yeah, I know, and I think it's because for me when I go to Airbnb.com, it gives me like a sense of wonder, adventure, and ultimately it means that I'm looking for something to book for a holiday, which is really cool, really amazing. And not, not necessarily a holiday, but I'm going somewhere new, and I'm trying something different, and so I love that. The other thing I really like about it is just the fact that it's just a - it's just a beautifully-designed website, and their whole brand is really crisp in the way that they've approached browsing, in the way that they've approached the semiotics of - everything on their website is very curated and very particular, which I really liked, not at all, like a VisualThesaurus.com in the way that it looks, but it's - I love it - I love it as a website, as a travel destination for me, because of the story that I can tell from that website.
Jen: Well you can really feel the generation gap between us.
Peter: Especially if you pull up those two websites side-by-side.
Jen: That's what I mean, it's just hilarious. Okay, so next step was favorite word. What's your favorite word?
Peter: My favorite word right now that I came up with is "noodling," and it's because I use this word a lot - when I'm "noodling" on something means I'm thinking about something, I mentioned before "scratching my noggin" - I use it interchangeably with that. So it's my favorite word because it's a little bit amusing, but also because it's one of my favorite things to do, right? To me, "noodling" is thinking creatively about something: I might do that on a whiteboard, I might do that audibly - in this podcast for example, I feel like a lot of our conversations I've been noodling, and it's just one of my favorite things to do, to think outside the box, to think creatively and to try and "noodle on" ideas, concepts, and ways of thinking. And it's just a fun word, rather than, "I'm thinking about something," it's just so much funner to say, "I'm noodling on something."
Jen: I love that.
Peter: What's your favorite word, Jen?
Jen: Well I was going to go deep, but now I feel like I've gotta come up with something sort-of cute.
Peter: Go deep, let's go deep, I'm ready.
Jen: Okay. Well my, my favorite word for meaning is the word "belonging," which only recently came to be a major part of what I think about day in and day out, is creating a culture of "belonging," and I want to help build communities where people feel they belong, so that word has become very important to me recently.
Peter: Yeah, that's a good one. I love that word, "belonging." The next on our list was video, I think. Favorite video. Do you have a favorite video?
Jen: I, I have a lot. I mean, I watch a lot of Ted talks, so my - and I also like to watch news bloopers, like just type the words "news blooper snowplow." It's a very short video.
Peter: Okay. Funny: "Snowplows Sprays News Reporter." Sixteen seconds. I'm clicking on it. Here it comes. It's playing, I don't know if you can hear it.
Jen: See, I didn't even watch it with you, but I'm watching it in my memory, and it's just so funny.
Peter: So simple. So funny. So effective. Yeah, I like that. Is that really your favorite video?
Jen: I mean, I've got a bunch of favorite news bloopers, so that, that is one of my favorite, like "it never fails to make me laugh" videos, but the one that I had written down is one that was introduced to me during the altMBA, which is a video about Sawubona. The reason I love this video is for the last almost fifteen years of training actors, we do this ritual - in certain classes it's at the beginning of class - but in every class it's at the end of every single person's work-session: before they sit down I ask them to "see everyone," to look into the eyes of everyone who has seen them work, or if the actor I'm working with is vision-impaired, we do a modification of this, and we do an ensemble breath where everyone breathes in sync with each other, and I see a lot of benefits from doing this. And it wasn't until I saw the Sawubona video that I realized that it had a name. This idea of "I see you. I am here." So if you're interested, type "Sawubona," s-a-w-u-b-o-n-a into your Youtube search, and it's the video posted by the Global Oneness Project.
Peter: Nice. Yeah, that's a good video. So my favorite video, I really struggled to pick one, so I cheated and picked two. The first one was the Ted Talk, Start With Why, which you mentioned the book earlier. I saw the Ted Talk before I knew there was a book, and like, it profoundly, like you said with the book, it profoundly changed how I thought about myself and the work that I do. And it was like, you know, it was like Simon was taking what was in my brain and putting words to it, like this thing that I could never work out or articulate or come to terms with that some companies do things one way and other companies do things and another way, some leaders do things one way and other leaders do things another way, and I could never work out why. And then he just gave me this simple reason, this simple way of understanding was that they start with, "Why?" So that, that Ted Talk fundamentally changed a lot of things for me.
Jen: Yeah. That should be required-viewing for everyone, so if you haven't seen Simon Sinek and the "Start With Why" Ted Talk, it's, it's absolute must-see TV.
Peter: Mhm. It's almost as must-see as the snowplow blooper that I just watched. No, it's equally. And so the second one, the second one on my list I had was a video that someone created based on an Obama speech, I believe, and so the video is called "Fired Up," and if you Google "Fired Up Obama," it's the one at the top on Vimeo, I think it is. And it's sort of like an animated - someone's created this animation of a story that Obama told about a speech that he gave, and how one voice can make a difference, and, oh, the video - I mean, I'm not into American politics that much because I'm an Australian - but that video and the message within it is just so, so profound, and so good, and so well-delivered in true Obama fashion. So yeah, I think that video, regardless of who you are, where you are, what you believe - you know, I don't wanna get political, but regardless of all of that - I think it's a video worth watching. It's just a reminder that, you know, his message is "your voice makes a difference," so I just think it's worth watching and checking out. That's one of my favorites.
Jen: Alright, so now we have arrived at the final favorite things question.
Peter: The final one. How are you feeling? How are you liking this format?
Jen: It is really fun.
Jen: It's making me realize that, you know, when we first were launching this podcast, we talked about whether or not to do show notes, and does anyone ever read the show notes, this feels like the first time that show notes would be useful to provide links to people, so we'll - we can toss that around offline, and if we have show notes, guys, they would be on our website: thelongandtheshortpodcast.com, but we also might not have show notes, so it's a mystery.
Peter: It is. It feels like, yeah, you're right, it feels - it feels relevant for this episode. But okay, favorite show. I mean, I feel like this is a, this is one of your favorite questions, surely, your favorite show.
Jen: Hamilton, hands down, Hamilton by Lin Manuel Miranda. It is, both on paper, and onstage, the greatest thing I have ever witnessed.
Peter: Wow. I believe it, because you would know. So my favorite show is Les Mis, actually.
Jen: What? I was not expecting that.
Peter: I didn't think you would. And Les Mis is my favorite show, again, I think it's because of the, the relevance, or the story behind it, which is that it's this show that my mum and I see whenever it's in town. I've seen it like three times, and for whatever reason, I don't even know how this started, but my mum took me to see Les Mis when I was, I don't know, I must have been like eight or nine, and it was, I think it was my first big show that I'd seen, like big production, and so I'm sure there's part of that which is what makes it so memorable for me. And so our rule is now whenever it's back in Melbourne, we go and stay together, and yeah, I don't know if this, the music, the story, the theatre of the whole thing. I just, yeah, I just love the show, and the soundtrack Les Mis. I've been known to sit around and listen to Les Mis while I'm doing work.
Jen: I am flabbergasted. I wasn't expecting you to pick a theatre show. That's - my, my heart is so happy right now.
Peter: I was, I was hoping that this would make you happy, but then I was also like, I mean, you know, all of the shows - and maybe Les Mis is not that good compared to all of the shows - but that is a show that I really love.
Jen: Les Mis is a guilty pleasure. I mean you have to love Les Mis; all the choral singing, and the melodrama, and the flag-waving, and the fun - you know, everyone's suffering and dying, but it's so romantic!
Peter: And then you got the - it's just fun as well. Like it's - yeah, I think a guilty pleasure seems like a good way to describe it. I like that.
Jen: Yes, I love it. Wow. Well this was fun.
Peter: It was fun. It was enjoyable, and while it gave us a little bit of structure, we still made room to riff and talk about random things like your favorite bloopers of news readers.
Jen: Yeah, don't get, don't get used to the notes though, because at the end of the day we're both so much better without them.
Peter: I agree, and I don't even know what to say.
Jen: We don't even know how to end because we're looking at our notes.
Peter: I'm shuffling notes in front of me like, "Wait, is this the thing where we say the ending?"
Jen: Well, it seems like this is that moment, so do you want to say it?
Peter: I'm happy to say it. Just confirming with my notes. And yes, that is definitely The Long and The Short Of It.