'I have a lot of enthusiasm. I bring in so many things and often the reader [is] like, where are we going?'
Jonas Altman finds writing hard. Which is lucky for us, because he's done the work to discover a way through, and he generously shares it all in this conversation.
From identifying the protagonist to finding flow, from working with an editor to a more fluid approach to footnotes, he sets out his writing journey with soul and humour.
"When you're trying to create something, when you're trying to change something, when you're trying to think differently about something, writing for me is the way that you unravel the spaghetti... you end up with some really clear, precise thinking that... moves the thing forward."
As Chief Envisioning Officer at Microsoft (yes, really) and now as a consultant Dave Coplin sees his role is as a 'pragmatic optimist', helping companies reimagine themselves with the help of technology. The Covid pandemic has accelerated this process, and one of its legacies will be a willingness to break from outdated processes and embrace new possibilities.
He's also pragmatic when it comes to writing, recognising that it's a low-tech but incredibly powerful thinking tool in the digital age. And that, as he says, when you put words together in the right way - on the stage or on the page - they make things possible.
Honest, insightful and very, very funny.
So many people [are] skimming the surface of what they can be and do in the world. And I was too.
So often in life and at work it can feel as if we're surrounded by people who are disengaged and disconnected, half asleep and half alive. Sometimes, if we're honest, we ARE those people.
Dr Alise Cortez has spent years studying engagement - or the lack of it - and has dedicated herself to helping people realise the brutal truth: this is your one precious life, and it's up to you to make something of it.
In this conversation we talk about why 'passion' and 'purpose' have become such problematic words, the importance of enthusiasm and vulnerability, why talking is such a valuable tool for writing, and why writing is an infallible guide to show you what you don't know.
Wake up and be inspired.
'A town isn't a town without a bookstore. It may call itself a town, but unless it's got a bookstore, it knows it's not foolin' a soul.'
- Neil Gaiman, American Gods
For most booklovers, bookshops - especially independent bookshops, that care about their books and their readers, stock just what you didn't know you wanted, and provide recommendations for your Next Big Read - are places of pilgrimage. Yet they're under threat like never before, closed in the face of COVID and battling the might of Amazon, with its staggering inventory, low prices and seductively easy ordering.
Faced with the bleak vision of the end of bookshops on the high street, publisher Andy Hunter and the American Booksellers Association decided to put up a fight. They created bookshop.org, a B-Corp dedicated to matching Amazon's logistical might but with a key difference: their profits would go not into one man's already over-full pockets but be shared with the wider book ecosystem, and especially independent bookstores.
Bookshop.org is now in the UK, and in this conversation I talk to Jasper Sutcliffe (formerly at Foyles) about how it works, why it matters, and how to make the most of it as an author as well as a reader.
'With a book you're not just paying for the pages you read, you're paying for someone to make the rest of the world shut up for a minute while you can concentrate.'
Uri Bram knows a thing or two about the value of content and attention. He curates the internet, after all, as the publisher of The Browser and The Listener ('the absolute dream job').
He's also the author of Thinking Statistically, a self-published surprise bestseller (and noone was more surprised than Uri...)
In this conversation we discuss why statistical literacy matters more than ever, why less is more valuable than more, and why books keep us sane in a world of infinite distraction.
Shut up, world: I'm reading.