“If you’ve grown up not wanting to make mistakes because that was beaten out of you in the system, or if you’ve grown up trying to be perfect in your appearance, all of that is tough. Now you have to go onto a podcast and you have to be human, which is not easy.” — Graham Brown
My next guest is the founder of Pikkal & Company, an award-winning, AI-powered, data-driven business-to-business podcast agency in Singapore, and The Podcast Accelerator, a mastermind of thought leadership podcast hosts. He’s also a published author on the subject of the digital transformation of communication, so when it comes to getting his point across, he has a bit of an advantage.
His passion for understanding how we use technology to communicate has led him to host several podcasts of his own, including Podcast Maps, the Be More Human podcast, the XL podcast XL: 10 Minute Leaders Live and Asia Tech podcast. He’s published over a thousand podcast episodes, and his work has been featured in the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal, just to name a few. His list of clients is impressive too, including McKinsey, Leap, UTI Investment Bank, AirAsia, Nokia, UNICEF, Disney, and Monster Energy Drinks.
His name is Graham Brown, and if you want to learn more about podcasting for your brand, and effective communication in general, this interview will definitely be something you’ll want to hear.
Sound is the Root
We start off the episode with a look at Graham’s life in Singapore and the influence Asian culture had on his childhood, and then at some of the music that shaped his upbringing, from his mom’s Abba albums to awkward conversations about the Beatles. He soon realized the importance of sound in every aspect of our lives: “If you are very much passionate about people, communication, travel, culture, and languages, then sound is the root of all of that.”
Breaking the System
“The basis of language is listening,” Graham says as he tells us about the challenges and opportunities of communicating across cultural divides. We talk about how technology has been used to overcome such divisions ever since the start of the information age, from Bluetooth dating in Saudi Arabia to emergency bulletin board systems in Japan. “It was amazing how young people would really break the system to achieve that sort of social end, and that was universal… and, at a later level, that became innovation.”
Where Podcasting Came From
We continue with a deeper look at the early days of the internet and social media, and how today’s streaming content, from Netflix and Disney+ to iTunes and Spotify, emerged from those Wild West days of Napster and torrent streams. Now, as podcasting and content creation become mainstream, Graham helps businesses find the right balance of authenticity for business clients who might not be accustomed to opening themselves up to an audience. “Vulnerability,” he explains, “isn’t just being caring, it’s about admitting mistakes and not pulling back, not editing yourself. And that’s really hard.”
The Eighth Habit
The first half of our interview concludes as we talk about how online culture has evolved into audio apps like Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces, and now Spotify Greenroom. Graham notes that Stephen Covey’s The Eighth Habit, the sequel to his famous The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, is to “find your voice and inspire others to find theirs,” and that, even with all the advances in deepfake technology, a genuine human voice, not just the sound but the authenticity of conversation and communication, remains impossible to copy.
- Graham’s childhood and early musical influences
- The importance of sound as a social connection
- Youthful innovation in the internet’s early days
- The unfamiliar vulnerability of podcasting
- Finding your voice in the age of chatroom apps
Be sure to listen next week for part two as we talk more about machine learning, Graham’s upcoming projects, and how podcasts might someday become as ubiquitous as websites and resumes.
Connect with the Guest
Pikkal Website: https://www.pikkal.com/
Graham Brown’s Website: https://www.grahamdbrown.com/
Connect with Graham Brown on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/grahamdbrown/
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This interview episode was very skillfully made to sound beautiful by the talented Humberto Franco.