Next-level ideas, needs, insights, stories and revelations come out. And, if you’re paying attention, it’s impossible to not want to know more. So you ask questions out of a genuine sense of curiosity. And the conversation goes places that’d never have been visited had you stayed “on-script.” –
More: Questions Are Easy. Listening Is Hard..
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Welcome to the inaugural episode of Conversations for Deeper Context, where I speak with people I respect about their worldview, especially as it pertains to curiosity.
Megan Elizabeth Morris is one of my favorite people on the planet. Her infectious enthusiasm has gotten me unstuck on many an occasion, and we are pretty in sync in how we see the world.
In this episode, we talk a lot about curiosity and about the role of money in how we value ourselves and its effect on society.
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I’m happy to announce the debut of Conversations For Deeper Context, a semi-regular podcast interview series which serves two purposes:
- It allows me to have conversations with people that I find super interesting
- I get to demonstrate how a Deeper Context project might go, to people like you who might be interested in collaborating with me.
So, for the sake of avoiding paragraph-long descriptors…
Here’s what Conversations For Deeper Context is:
- Conversations with people about their curiosity and how they’re applying it in their lives and their work (however that may manifest in their lives)
- Personal, heart-prioritized conversations
- About an hour per-episode
- Irregularly updated
- Hosted by me (Jeremy Meyers)
Here’s what Conversations For Deeper Context isn’t:
- A place to hear about marketing, social media, sales or business. Seriously. That’s not what this is about, and if it comes up, it’s accidental.
- A place for people to spend an hour plugging their latest projects
- A place for self-help folks to hawk their books
- A sales pitch for Deeper Context. These conversations are meant to stand on their own, and I hope they are valuable to you.
Episode One is live now and features Megan Elizabeth Morris from Ideaschema.
You can also, of course, subscribe via iTunes.
Please enjoy, and I’d love your feedback. Also, if you’d like to have a CFDC conversation, please feel free to get in touch.
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By Smithsonian Museum of Natural History – https://www.flickr.com/photos/23165290@N00/7237653442/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41208714
We all collect stuff.
Stuff that triggers memories. Stuff that reminds us of who we are and how we got here.
A greying teddy bear.
A picture of children, playing.
The first $20 you earned, framed and hanging by the register.
A letter from a displaced person, thanking you for helping them get their life back on track.
This is what we mean by trigger objects.
A thing in the real world that sets off a chain of memory and stories.
They are keys that can help unlock the DEEPER CONTEXT of the conversation.
There is power in connecting with our objects.
When we focus on them, they become lenses through which we see our world.
We use these objects (selected by you) in our conversation, to help tell your story.
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Part of my process here at Deeper Context is making sure the people I interview are filled in on the scope of our conversation. I’ll give them a sense of the topics I’m planning to cover, right down to the actual questions if they want, though these tend to be jumping off points anyway.
As a result of this pre-conversation prep, my conversation partners tend to have a good sense of what they want to say in their head, so they feel prepared and more relaxed than they would be otherwise.
This part of the conversation is great, often compelling and useful and forms the core of the finished product.
But, then a funny thing happens.
Once people run out of ‘what they were planning to say’, usually about 20 minutes in, stuff gets real.
People get out of their head, out of their comfort zone . Their head can’t help them, so they go into their heart.
That’s where the magic is. That’s where the real is.
It requires more from my partner than maybe they were planning on giving to a “marketing video”.
It can be difficult to be vulnerable in front of someone they don’t know. Some may shut down. Others may thrive.
In either case, most engaging, most resonant, most moving parts of any project tend to come from those points when people run out of information they want to share and start talking from their heart.
And seeing that happen, pushing for those real moments is one of the great joys of my work.
It’s also one of the things that makes Deeper Context stories so valuable for the organizations I partner with.
So…no pressure, future interview subjects!
You’re in good hands.
Just relax and let go.
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One of the things I’ve been thinking about a lot when it comes to Deeper Context and the value that passionate, curiosity-based conversations can bring is the ‘distance to the audience’ concept.
Distance, in this case, is about the tone of the story. Commercials, advertising and marketing in general tend to approach their communications from the perspective of “We have all the information, we are pushing it out to the great unwashed masses from our mountaintop of expertise, and by doing this, they will stare in awe at our awesomeness and open their wallets.”
You can see this in car commercials that show a shiny new sports car driving on the Pacific Coast Highway while an announcer intones fabulous things about horsepower and leather seats and eco-friendly gas mileage. This is meant to raise the product and the company onto a pedestal that we all gaze at adoringly, which is a pretty big leap and request of people.
Who knows if this ever really “worked”. What I do know is that this approach puts a ton of emotional distance between viewer and subject, and makes building a real emotional connection next to impossible.
What do we strive for as humans?
What do we value when communicating?
Well, we want to know that we’re not alone.
We want to be part of something greater.
We want to belong.
A sense of community has driven us from our tribal days. From sitting around a fire cooking meat and telling of the hunt, to seeing a fellow iPod user on the subway, to waiting on line to see the latest Twilight or Harry Potter film.
Situations that create the happiest, most engaged people are not lectures. They are not commercials that treat us like wallets with a pulse. They are real conversations, with purpose, emotional resonance, and humanity.
Recognizing that shared humanity is what drives us to take action. Seeing that someone else is into what we’re into leads us to want to connect and explore further.
This is the goal of Deeper Context. Bringing passionate people closer together through shared experiences, not told from a mountaintop, but shared from eye level.
Because communities care.
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While I was building DeeperContext.com and looking through my old work, I came to realize that most of it can be categorized into two different types of stories, each with their own potential for engagement and interest. I thought it might be valuable to outline them.
The first type: Origin Stories
Origin stories are all about process and inspiration.
They are the stories of how things came to be, told by the people who were there. They describe the world before the subject existed, and as it was being created.
They are inward-facing, in that their focus is concentrated on the subject itself, rather than its influence.
First-hand sources are always going to be more valuable than “experts”, so I try to talk to them as much as possible.
The best origin stories take you into the world of the subject, so that you can’t help but think of how it came to be.
Example: Epsode 23 “The Electric Boogaloos” of Michael Jackson: Thrillercast. The Electric Boogaloos were long-time choreography partners of Michaels, and they were the ones who taught him what ended up being The Moonwalk.
The Second Type: Fan Stories
Fan stories are all about legacy and influence.
They are the stories of how things affected the world. They describe the state of the world after the subject existed.
They are outward-facing, though they are often also introspective, in that their focus is more on the world around the subject, and the subjects affect on the world and the people being interviewed.
Casting fan stories is more of an art than a science. Identifying people who are passionate, well-spoken and can demonstrate genuine enthusiasm for the subject (geeking out) is most important. Nobody who thinks “yeah, this is okay” is going to give the kind of interview that can sway hearts and minds.
The best origin stories give you a place to connect to the subject on a human level, to see some of your excitement in another person, to know that you’re not alone in your enthusiasm, and to best demonstrate why the subject is worth your curiosity.
Example: Imogen Heap’s Thrillercast.
One of the reasons I prefer to take on multi-episode series is because I truly believe that a well-rounded, effective project requires both types of stories, to give a full picture of the subject and place the viewer in the center of that universe.
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Hello and welcome!
I’m really excited to be able to write these words after many months of planning, agonizing over verbiage and making sure the work was presented in a way that’s most clearly understandable to the people who would find it valuable (i.e. you).
My goal for this blog is to tell the story of DEEPER CONTEXT, provide some insight into how we approach the work, and explain why we dig conversations and curiosity so much.
In the meantime, you should feel free to read the post on my personal blog about the launch of DC.
Speak to you soon!
Founder and Lead Producer, DEEPER CONTEXT
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- Develop an effective and cost-efficient way to raise online visibility for albums from the Sony Music catalog not currently slated for marketing attention or re-release.
- Increase the visibility of Sony staff in a way that demonstrates that they are music fans very much like the audience.
- A video series where Sony staff would discuss selected titles, to be featured on legacyrecordings.com and across social networks.
- This project was originally conceived solely for the A&R staff to discuss the importance of various key titles in the catalog. I decided that in order for the content tone to be authentic and engaging, we should tap into the strong personalities and passion for music that existed across the company and open the concept up (via company-wide casting call) to anyone interested in sharing their feelings about a favorite album and how it has affected their life.
- I specifically disallowed certain top albums, both to avoid competition (everyone would have spoken about The Clash’s “London Calling” or Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” otherwise) and to ensure that we got a wide sampling of albums rather than just the ‘top hits’.
- After ensuring there would be no duplicates, we recorded the interviews in a corner office at Sony which happened to have some amazing views of the city (thus saving any location costs).
- Over 40 stand-alone videos filmed over several days, for use on social networks and throughout the Sony Music website ecosystem, at a total cost of under $2,000.
- By the late 2000s, the industries handling of Napster and other p2p services had polarized public perception of the music industry, and it was clear that the people who’d stuck around after were there because of a genuine passion for music. Those people were really strong advocates for what music and the industry could be, and I knew there was an opportunity for me to hone my craft with them and humanize an industry that most people thought of as being made up of evil faceless corporate cogs.
- Happily, we had a bunch of people interested in sharing their memories. This became a great example of the kind of storytelling that I believe is most powerful. Simple, personal, relate-able.
- These personal story projects are a great way to build awareness and appreciation for any business. They also make sense financially. The videos are timeless, widely varied, and very affordable.
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- Executive Producer, Project Lead: Jeremy Meyers
- Interviewers: Jeremy Meyers & Joseph Vella, Vella Interactive
- Videographer, Editor: Chris Chan Roberson
- Graphics, logo: Sony Music Online Creative