Q&A: Dear 21 Year Old Me

What’s the podcast about?

Anchored by their 21st birthday and reflecting on their aspirations, our guest discusses how their perspectives on life and leadership have been framed, and what critical life and leadership lessons they’ve learned.

What would their 21-year self say to them now?

What they would say today to their 21-year-old self.

Where can I listen to the show?

Easy! Click here. The show is also on all major podcast players.

I know someone who I think would be great for your show – how can I contact you?

Connect with me via LinkedIn. Potential guest ideas are welcome.

Where did you get the idea from?

In many ways, the show is an amalgam of several ideas of my own and taking various components of interview programs I have enjoyed along the way, along with the informative tone of The Squiz and the ABC’s Planet America.

In terms of ideas, Rachel Corbett’s excellent ‘You’ve Gotta Start Somewhere’ asks folk how they started in the media is done with genuine interest and the interviewees are open and interesting. It’s a great podcast, and highly recommended.

The warm, reflectiveness of ‘going home’ in Julia Zemiro’s ‘Home Delivery’ on ABC-TV was great. To see some of the guests’ reactions when they see an old teacher they admired, for example, always brought a smile.

San Diego’s KPBS My First Day podcast is a good listen, too – literally walking in people’s shoes as they commence a new job, for example. These, underlined by my innate curiosity and interest in people and what makes them tick, also all serve as inspiration for the show.

Leaders are not made overnight; they don’t just appear in the roles – and this show seeks to understand what makes leaders who I know really tick, and what they have learned in their lives which has underpinned their leadership roles.

Are you a journalist?

No. I’ve always been interested in people, their stories and wanting to understand what makes people ‘tick’. 

As a teenager, I was actively involved with community radio, did work experience at 3AW and then in some holidays, ABC Radio News and TV. I edited my school’s yearbook in my final year, did more community radio, and wrote to virtually every paper and radio station where I had family in regional Victoria trying to get a start. I was hooked.

A move to Canberra in the public service saw my goals evolve and by my mid-twenties I’d determined politics would be my career; and in time I became a political adviser.

My ‘sliding door’ career moment in came at 29 when I knocked back a role as a trainee journalist with Fairfax in Sydney and instead continued in politics in Canberra. Since then I’ve made my career leading industry associations in Australia and New Zealand, but I’ve often wondered what I’d say to 21 year-old-me about that decision – and others – that have shaped my life. The idea for the podcast came from wondering what other leaders would say to themselves and how they got to where they are today. 

This series follows A Coffee With, a podcast series I did years ago, and interviews I did as founder and editor of sports opinion website The Armchair Selector.

I’ve interviewed leaders from many walks of life: journalists Gerard Whateley and Peter Lalor, broadcaster Brenden Wood, and test cricketer Chris Rogers, along with US historian and author Professor Tom Lewis, and New York City history podcaster Greg Young. 

Who edits and produces your show?

I’m a proud client of Pro Podcast Production. Darcy Milne does the show’s voiceovers and I thoroughly recommend Darcy and his team. A shout out to Tim Lee (referred by Darcy – cheers Darcy!) for doing the artwork for the show.

“An adept interviewer and a nice guy”
Gideon Haigh
Journalist and Author

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