What should you do when you are asked to be interviewed and condense your life story in just one hour? Keep your confidence. Stay calm. These are old stories that are easier said than done. You need unconventional advice from a curious rebel who learns from her own interview mistakes. Now let’s bring on the secrets of how to “really” nail your podcast interview!
So You want your interview to be just like that sexy before and after Intstagram Transformation Pic
When I left Taiwan, I did a reflection episode with Anne, Host of Girl Power Talk, a podcast focusing on female empowerment. We made an agreement that after I go nomadic for 3 months, we will do a podcast again to review on how my nomadic life goes. What these 3 months has taught me is beyond my comprehension. I made unimaginable progresses in building an online community, I made progress in my business that I thought I could only achieve possibly 2 years from now and most importantly, I successfully bring gender and sports into my podcast and discover a large community that was deeply [echoed] with this topic that I deeply care about.
Oh How I Dreamed About that Kick-ass Interview
I was so proud of myself and the interview came just at the right time. I pictured how I would address every moment that I was surprised by the unexpected turns of success, how my heartbeat fasten when I discover exciting new possibilities for my journey, how my hands trembled when I hosted an kick-ass live interview full with participants from sports science PhDs, professors and top notch athletic trainers working in the national leagues. I can imagine myself try to tone down this [proudness, snobishness, happiness ] and find words to stay humble during the interview, and how I will be rewarded with more podcast subscribers and Instagram followers afterwards.
Only If I Can Be in that Optimal Physical and Mental State
Unfortunately, that wasn’t what turned out to be the case. I wasn’t in the best physical state. My head was a fog and I did not have the mental clarity to package the multi-aspects of experiences and precisely summarise my perspectives on my solopreneur journey. I didn’t consider myself giving out the smartest advice to people who wants to pursue similar paths. I found myself repetitive and struggles to find words to describe even the simplest thing happened in daily life. I blamed the mosquito woke me up at 4 am for my brain fog, and my choice to see the sunrise by the beach instead of going back to bed get sufficient sleep.
So Tip No.1 for doing a good interview in your optimal state-get a good night sleep!
Just kidding. We can always find excuses for not “bringing out our best selves” or missing the opportunity to express who we “really are .” But who are we really?
Different Sides of You Are All Part You, They are all incomplete, but they are all real you
We are real human being, not a character in a written story
I would love to imagine there’s consistency in everything I do, how I view myself and how I present myself to the world, but this is rarely true. I continue to discover a different side of me when a new opportunity is given or taken away, when I felt new risks coming in the way, or being put in a conversation with people playing different roles in my life. We are social beings that creates our existential meaning out of momentary context and these context is always fluid and dynamic. I believe we have a set of core values that shape us who we are , but how these core values are transformed into daily actions and words can be quite contradictory and confusing. It’s ok that we have different selves and only a selection of them get to be extracted into a public narrative. Even if we feel we did a good job in representing our “true” self in an interview, this might be just a make belief.
No matter how much time you are given, you are not going to present your lifetime in just a few hours
Let’s put it simply-interview is short, life is long, and since you are not at the end of life retrospecting what happened throughout your lifetime, there will not be one day you can fully understand the meaning of certain decisions you make or a path you choose.
There are so many sides of causes that lead to accomplishment of one thing. We might have our own interpretation of what happen, but that’s already filtered by what we can observe and conclude through our conceptual framework. It’s hard to address all the aspects of what we consciously know what happens in our path, not to mention the unknown unknown that we care not even consciously aware of.
Language as a medium can only describe the truth but never truth itself
Just like I’m writing these words right now, I can try to express how I really feel during this conflict-resolution process, but I can never present my mind to you rawly (that picture is quite grotesque by the way). First of all I have some forming thoughts and feeling that I myself still can’t fully grasp yet, and then I need to choose using English or my native language Mandarin to describe these half formed ideas, each has it’s own very different cultural context in its linguistic expressions. After I chose a language I need to chose one word from a sets of maybe infinite words to is most close to the not quite understandable feeling. If I can take my time to contemplate and write and still feel a gap between my words what I am describing, how can i wish a instant colloquial response to be anymore precise or closer to the truth? And after my readers or audience read or hear my stories, they are going to interpret my words based on their own conceptual frame works embedded out of their own unique life experiences.
I mean, really, how do we come to think we will be able to bring out our “true” self in a podcast interview at all?
Instead of trying out best to nail the interview, I think what we should aim to do is try out best to let go of the desire of wanting to present a best self-one that is only a narrative rather than reality.
After all, We are All just Wearing A Spacesuit
If we dig deep enough and willing to be vulnerable, we will have to face the reality that we are once again playing an identity or ego game to win other people’s love. We want to creator of a solopreneur’s identity that set ourselves from traditional path. We want to sound cool by putting radical comments or spicy content in the interview. We want to create that podcast persona with a voice that said I am showing these sets of vulnerabilities because these imperfection might make me even more likable in the story I told about myself (and don’t forget to sound smart and reflective when ya put ya vulnerable story out there hon). We try so hard to present a best possible one hour version of ourself because we don’t want to sound basic (Ya basic!), we refuse to be just like everyone else. We want to be special. If we are not special, what is the meaning of our existence in the universe?
But Ram Dass told us, all these is just a spacesuit we wear.
“When I was born I donned a spacesuit for living on this plane, it was this body, my space suit, and it had a steering mechanism which is my pre-frontal lobe and all the brain that helps with coordinating and stuff. Just like those others who go to the moon and learn to use their space suit…how to grab things and lift things so I learned how to do that. And then you get rewarded with little stars, kisses and all kinds of things when you learn how to use your space suit. You get so good at it that you can’t differentiate yourself from your spacesuit.”
We forget that behind that microphone, behind that voice that built an egoistic identity, it’s just a all containing consciousness trapped in a space suit. This identity needs to be proven, otherwise it risks destruction. This ego needs recognition, otherwise it doesn’t exists. But one day our flesh will perish, the identity we create will only exist in the time when the mind can conceive of it. You can’t take it with you after death (oh well maybe if you are also part of the crew starring The Good Place). It’s all just spacesuit you can and you have to discard at the end of your life, just like how Clancy can easily enter and discard its spacesuit in the Midnight Gospel.
Refocus: How to Nail Yourself instead of Nailing the interview
After toiling a night after I failed to nail the interview, my identity and ego-still regretted not being able to present the narrative of myself during the interview the moment as I am finishing writing this reflection. But at the same time I, the no-voice in my headless head feel a tremendous freedom to after recognising the regretting self is trapped in a spacesuit. There’s no I can do better next time, because better or worse only exists in concepts and forms. There’s no best self to present because no self exist in the truly free vacuum of truth.
Does all this sound too obscure to understand?
Anthony de Mello makes the perfect conclusion for how to nail yourself in an interview:
I’m an ass. You are an ass.
Once we all admit we are all just an ass. This is the most liberating thing in the world.