Deliberate Rest

A blog about getting more done by working less

Tag: radio (page 1 of 2)

Talking about restful vacations on CBC Ontario Today

Scenes from Kauai

I was on CBC Radio’s call-in show “Ontario Today” earlier today, talking about “The key to a restful vacation.” You can listen here:

It was a fun time for me at least, partly because it involved more interaction with an audience than many radio interviews, and because I actually went into it with a certain amount of apprehension. To be honest, in Rest I have about six pages about vacations, so I was concerned that I’d have enough to say!

Fortunately, guest host Amanda Pfeffer was outstanding, and did a terrific job of guiding the conversation back to the book. I also do a fair amount of prep before these interviews, and now have a decent system for working through my notes and thinking about my responses, as you can see.

HipstaPrint

The Stanford Video folks (who are outstanding– they’re all the kinds of low-key professionals you want to work with during stressful situations, or just during moments when you need to be totally focused and on) keep a sheet music stand in the studio, and I make good use of it.

Beforehand, I’ll take some time to write out some notes, the key ideas I want to repeat or return to, and reminders to keep my answers short, stay on point, and let the host guide things. It’s usually the same set of notes, the same points, and same reminders every time (I am talking about the same book, after all); but it helps to write them out every time, to keep them fresh in my mind.

I also carry a copy of the book into the studio, though frankly I don’t refer to it during a live show– there’s not time to page through it.

You’ll notice a couple post-its, which have the host’s name– you never want to get that wrong– and the schedule for breaks.

I also keep my small notebook handy (in my lap), and write down the names of callers and the main points I want to make in response to their stories or questions. The virtue of this is that if I have only one or two points to make, I’ll make them more quickly if I can write them down and refer to them, and I’m less likely to strike off on some digression. I’m also more likely to get people’s names right if I write them down and can refer to them. Finally, if I can connect points that two callers 40 minutes apart make, I look like A Freaking Genius.

Today’s setup is not unusual for me. I’ve learned that interviews go better if I have some aide-memoire to jog my memory, or anchor the conversation. This was the desk when I was interviewed by Bob Edwards about The Distraction Addiction:

Bob Edwards interview

 

I’m very big on note-taking as a tool for thinking more clearly, as the book below illustrates, so realizing that doing it for interviews would help was a significant thing.

Reading is a martial art, 1

I think I’m getting better at interviews, though it’s like being a musician or teacher: it’s one of those pieces of craft that you can refine and improve for a lifetime. But at least I recognize that it’s a craft, and I’m learning how to build a structure that helps me do well and improve. (So I hope.)

Talking about “The Importance of Rest” on RadioWest

From my appearance on "West Coast Live" at Berkeley Freight & Salvage

My interview with Doug Fabrizio on The Importance of Rest | RadioWest is now up on the KUER Web site. Doug was a fabulous interviewer, so it’s a particularly good conversation.

For most of us, overwork is the new normal and rest is an afterthought. But the scholar Alex Soojung-Kim Pang says that by dismissing the importance of rest in our lives we stifle our ability to think creatively and truly recharge. Pang will join us to talk about his new book that examines why long walks, afternoon naps, vigorous exercise, and “deep play” stimulate creative work and sustain creative lives.

WAMC Golden Notebook

The Books Pick podcast recommends Rest as a holiday read. the podcast features reviews from the Golden Notebook, a bookstore in Woodstock, New York. The discussion starts at 14:25, though the opening song about books is insane and worth listening to too.

Don’t worry about the fact that they get my name wrong. I have trouble with “James Conrad.”

“The Value Of Rest As Restorative” on Jefferson Public Radio

I recently spent an hour with Jefferson Public Radio, which serves southern Oregon and northernmost California, talking about “The Value Of Rest As Restorative.”

The deadline is bearing down, and you need to produce something to keep the boss, the spouse, or yourself happy.

So step BACK.

Huh?

It is counter-intuitive, but Alex Soojung-Kim Pang is not the first person to suggest that you’re more productive when you’re better-rested.

Yesterday while I was doing the NPR Marketplace interview, it struck me that even in the three years since my last book came out, there’s been a change in the availability of radio shows.

Recording an interview for NPR's "Marketplace."

Programs used to be ephemeral: you were on, it broadcast, and then it was in the past. This meant that if you had a terrible show, you could write it off and move on. Today, though, radio shows are like TV or movies: if you miss the first broadcast, you can just wait for the online version.

Which is great in one sense, because it means people can always hear you; but on the other hand, it raises the sakes for every performance.

Just relax (with me and David Brancaccio)

I’m on NPR’s Marketplace today. David Brancaccio and I talk about overwork, busyness, and Rest. They’ve put the longer interview, with only light edits, up online; the broadcast version will be about two minutes long.

It sounds like I’m right in the studio with David, but actually they sent a sound engineer out to my house, and so I spoke to David on the phone, and recorded my side of the conversation through a studio mic; she then uploaded the interview, and engineers at Marketplace studios synced them together.

Recording an interview for NPR's "Marketplace."

It was a fun experience (radio interviews are an art), and it’s always interesting to see where interviewers decide to take a conversation.

Arianna Huffington talks about REST in “Inside The New York Times Book Review” podcast

The New York Times has a podcast that accompanies its Sunday Book Review. In this week’s episode, Michael Lewis talks about his new book The Undoing Project, and Arianna Huffington (who reviewed Rest in this Sunday’s New York Times) talks about Rest.

I would have loved to hear Arianna take on my full name, but instead she just talks about how great the book is, and lays out the cast for the importance of rest: “This is not about people who want to chill out under a mango tree, but it’s really about people in the arena,” she says. It’s about “realizing that they can be more productive, more creative, but at the same time happier and healthier… if they are deliberate about rest.” Later on, when Pamela Paul asks her what her biggest takeaway from the book was, she says,

I think what I learned was the importance of making it deliberate. That is not something that will just happen, because what will just happen is, we’ll be drawn back to our devices. I think that is a very profound point and it’s going to become increasingly true for people as the technologies and devices become more and more invasive, and social media becomes cleverer and clever in consuming our lives.

You know, I know plenty of critics make fun of Arianna, and see her as marketing a comfortably bourgeois notion of work-life balance (a term she doesn’t like, and neither do I), or as not being that deep; and the working conditions and publishing terms of Huffington Post have come in for their share of criticism. But reviewing the book is exactly the kind of thing she could have tossed to an assistant; instead, she clearly read it and thought seriously about it; and for an author, that’s really gratifying.

Props too to host Pamela Paul for asking great questions.

It’s on the New York Times Web site, but you can also listen to it on iTunes and Google Play.

Wisconsin Public Radio interview is now available online

For your Sunday morning listening: my interview on Wisconsin Public Radio’s Joy Cardin Show, “Work Less, Rest More, and Be Successful,” is now available to stream.

Americans work long hours, take only a few vacations, and retire late in order to complete all their work.  However, they also get less sleep and experience more stress, among other health issues.

Tech Nation and “The Neuroscience of Rest”

Last week I went up to San Francisco to record an interview with Moira Gunn and Tech Nation. The interview is now available online, on their episode “The Neuroscience of Rest.”

KQED this morning

Moira is a terrific interviewer, and she started with a question about Santiago Ramón y Cajal that made me think, “Boy, she’s really read the book closely!” My second thought was, “WHAT DID I WRITE ABOUT RAMON Y CAJAL? THINK!!!”

I feel like I’m getting better, somewhat slowly, at the craft of interviews. When you listen to a good interview, it sounds just like a couple people chatting; but underneath that ease and fluency is a hard bedrock of preparation. Learning what to do in order to prepare, how to anticipate questions, and simply how to sound good, is a challenge.

For Tech Nation, I made sure to get up to San Francisco super-early, and hung out in a coffee place nearby and went over my notes.

Reviewing before my interview

I now put a lot of value in not rushing myself whenever possible. Of course there are times when you have to dash from one thing to another, but if I can avoid it, I find it makes a big difference in my mood and performance.

Anyway, I have another half dozen radio shows scheduled for the next couple weeks, and then there will be UK appearances (one hopes!), so with luck I’ll get good at this. Or at least learn to speak without saying “you know” and “ummm” every third word, which would be a step forward!

Radio day

Rest officially came out on Tuesday, and in the last several days I’ve been doing lots of press interviews and a few radio spots. Today I’ve got two radio interviews, both at Stanford’s video facility.

Radio interview

The first was with the Joy Cardin Show on Wisconsin Public Radio, and in a couple hours I go back for another interview with THINK, a midday program on KERA in Dallas, Texas.

Radio interviews are interesting craft, and I’m definitely still learning how to do them– but I do feel like I’m getting better. Radio is a medium that doesn’t reward speaking quickly, or giving long, discursive answers to questions; to the contrary, you need to be super-quick, brief, and to the point, without dumbing down your ideas or misrepresenting yourself and your work.

Radio and REST

For me, the biggest challenge is being brief, just answering the questions that’s right in front of me, and not jumping immediately to the scientific evidence or historical examples. I love that stuff, and I really enjoys sharing it; but I have to reign it in when I’m on the radio.

Doing a good interview also requires a strong dose of empathetic imagination. You’re sitting in a room that’s windowless, soundproof, and your only companion is a microphone a few inches away from your face. But answering a question well requires imagining the interviewer, and imagining the caller. It’s certainly possible to think of them as just disembodied voices, but I think your answers (my answers) are better if I think of myself as in a conversation, and recognize that I’m actually talking to people.

But like I said, a lot of good performance is craft. Be bright and upbeat. Speak clearly: all those “umms” and “you knows” and “sort ofs” that we naturally use in everyday conversation, and which we easily filter out of conversation with people across the table, are really noticeable on the air.

Keep your answers short. Let the host decide what direction the interview should go: you may have things you want to make sure you say, but they know their audience, and it’s best to follow their cue.

Use turns of phrase or keywords that are memorable and direct people to the book. (I’m going to tell hosts not to try to pronounce my full name, but instead use the short version, and pronounce it in a way that makes it easier to Google; I’ve looked at search terms people use to find my blog after interviews, and I had no idea there were so many ways to spell (or hear) Alex Soojung-Kim Pang!) Having turns of phrase that you can pull out and use is great for keeping a conversation going, and planting and idea in a listener’s mind.

Remember that even though you’ve talked about this a thousand times (and may have thought about it for thousands of days), your audience is hearing it for the first time, so you should speak to people who haven’t heard about the book or you or the argument.

And keep your answers short. Did I already mention that?

Appearing on KERA’s “Think” this Thursday

This Thursday, December 8, I’m going to be on KERA radio, on their morning show Think. I’ll be on the first hour, starting at 10 a.m. Pacific Time. I’ll sound very clear, as I’ll be in the Stanford studio, connected to the program via a nice high-quality ISDN line.

Microphone

While KERA is the NPR station in the Dallas area, radio is one of those things that’s gone global thanks to the Internet. So if you want, you can listen to the station’s live stream here.

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