“It’s just an excuse to be together”

We can create valuable #content, but deep down it’s just an excuse to be together.

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US comedian and podcaster Pete Holmes has said this phrase so many times I’m surprised my Googling couldn’t turn up a directly quotable piece. But it’s a phrase that’s stuck with me, and I think it’s the fuel for so many collaborative projects.

I have two podcasts on the front burner right now, and one on the back burner. (Well, let’s be honest, it’s me so there’s about a dozen on the back burner). But the best ones simply are excuses to be together, as are some of the podcasts I most enjoy.

There’s an element of this in almost any creative endeavour we set our heart to. When we write a poem, we offer up a little bit of ourselves for the reader to revisit at any time. When we share our voice in speech or song, we’re sharing a real piece of ourselves, capturing what we sounded like at that moment in time.

As someone with a foot in both the people and the process camps, I can sometimes lean a little too far in one direction or another. Process is the easiest to lean to because it feels like control (something that’s likely to come up in today’s Friday Fireside). And focusing on “delivering value” can come at the cost of delivering presence.

The two podcasts on my front burner are prime examples. In Convergence, Brendan and I are sharing that it’s possible to go about business in a slower, more thoughtful, soulful, even spiritual way. It’s the flip-side of the heavily process-orientated work I’ve done this year. And in the A to Z of Happiness, I’m learning from Anya about the science of what makes life worth living, while occasionally trying to make her laugh.

So there’s value – in a traditional sense – in those episodes, but there’s also the unwritten and maybe under-appreciated value of presence, of being there with each-other, and letting the energy of our friendship be transmitted via Bluetooth into people’s ears.

Think about TV shows like The Trip, Mortimer and Whitehouse: Gone Fishing, or Would I Lie to You? (These are UK shows… if you’re unfamiliar, you’ll find plenty of clips on YouTube). Each one is different, but what runs through every episode is friendship. I’d hesitate to say “affection” in the case of The Trip, but I wouldn’t hesitate to say “love”.

So this is my permission – should it be needed – to put more of yourself into your work. And when you collaborate, let us hear and see the warmth, affection, and maybe love you share with your counterpart. It’s not as vulnerable as sharing something alone, but it’s maybe just as effective at building relationships with the people you want to serve.

Yes, we can create valuable #content, but deep down, it’s just an excuse to be together.

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