Transcript for "Conversation - with Helena Roth"

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00:00.00 podcomm Hello I’m Craig Konine pleased to meet you. We were talking about a whole bunch of different things blogging and podcasting. Um and you have some interesting methods that you use to select guess or.

00:01.63 Helena Roth Hi craig I’m Helena roth.

00:18.10 podcomm Maybe yeah making it sound more intentional than it necessarily is. But um, we wanted to talk about conversation and it’s like I’m immediately aware that this could get really meta since we’re we have not met previously other than this call. So we’ve known each other for about eleven minutes um so this could get very meta that could be. Good or it could be bad. So do you find that when you start a conversation with someone that you don’t know at all. Do you do you find it easier to pick something like you. We’re going to have a guide star and I’m going to try and. Start there with the conversation or is it easier to just be completely random and just like riff ah like um, the first thing they say and I’m going to say yes and do you have like do you use either of those 2 methods is that you lean on more than the other.

01:07.91 Helena Roth I would say it’s more towards the other um in in my podcast. Thank us Beyond with helena roth the the past season I’ve had five guests that I’ve had five conversations with each and. There hasn’t been an agenda. There hasn’t been a set timeframe. There hasn’t been any. This is what we need to get through or the goal we need to reach or anything and surprisingly. You know it’s gone really well I’ve done 25 of those and 1 of them I actually brought a topic to the to the table because me and alison we had had a non-recorded conversation where she’d said that she found it so uncomfortable.

02:00.33 podcomm Um.

02:00.71 Helena Roth To be on record to actually do the recording. So I said could we talk about that and she said yeah so that’s the 1 time in 25 conversations that I’ve actually brought a topic to the table. But then that conversation went just everywhere anyway. But we did start off but otherwise it just it just comes. You know it’s like if nothing else is like where are you at right now you know where are you at how do you feel?? What’s Happened. What’s you know how has your day been and. Off you go.

02:39.43 podcomm I I Definitely agree for me I agree Yes, the conversation just comes and I think it’s I don’t know if it’s the same for everybody but it just occurred to me. But for me, it’s driven by Curiosity if I’m generally curious then I’m I’m listening to comprehend. Um I’m. I’m continuously distracted by that’s interesting. That’s interesting. All these ideas that you’re even if somebody is trying to be very clear and very concise I still see multiple branching points I’m wondering if you have noticed um, just like. The more you do record a conversation is the more you develop this superpower and you go out into the world as like a skilled person at cultivating conversations and I’m wondering if you’ve ever seen people. Maybe like you’re in a group of 3 or four and you’re watching a conversation happen in front of you does your. I’m going to say is your power make you see things that like oh oh no, don’t don’t do that. Don’t don’t don’t answer that way or do you find yourself noticing what other people are doing right and wrong in conversations.

03:46.14 Helena Roth Yeah, but I would say that that’s ah, a power or a judgment that I’ve had for a long time and you know I’m a I’m I’m a trained coach as well. So. You know the curiosity and the the asking questions and and also the don’t answer it for anybody else kind of ethos is quite significant in me so now and again throughout the years it’s like I can listen to a podcast because it’s easier kind of.

04:13.69 podcomm Um.

04:25.86 Helena Roth In a podcast it happens you know you’re in in 3 d too but more often when I listen to a podcast where I go. Why would you like like don’t answer you just ask the question. Let the other person answer and don’t you know it’s like so the.

04:28.70 podcomm Right.

04:44.31 Helena Roth Cutting short of of yeah yeah I get it I get it you mean this and I’m going how the f do you know that right? It’s like let them. Um so that can actually frustrate me now and again, um.

04:59.18 podcomm Um I I Know what you mean and now I’m thinking yeah is it worse in podcasts like when I’m listening and I’m thinking before we press record you and I were talking about what types of Podcasts. Do. We listen To. And I started heavily in um, the 2 people talking you know modality of listening to people who have a conversation and I grew to be like oh I can’t take it anymore like and I moved away from that and now I’m getting into more.

05:28.78 Helena Roth Um.

05:35.20 podcomm I’m going to say like creative host on Mike storytelling and not necessarily fiction but somebody unpacking some idea and now I’m wondering Oh Wow is that driven by me picking up on things in conversation that I disliked and then I immediately went Meta like wait. But. Just because I dislike it does that mean I’m right you know like I should look at that more so there are so many things that open up when you start to pay attention instead of trying to do whatever 1 might.

05:53.70 Helena Roth Um, yeah.

06:02.15 Helena Roth Yeah, and and I just a couple of weeks ago I listened to walter. No, what’s his name walter isaacson yeah, that’s his name he was on his podcast which I don’t listen to I read a couple of his books and like them. But he was. Interviewed by dan rather and it was like a thirty thirty five minute 1 and I was listening and my entire body was just chafing against this because it was so obviously not a conversation. It was so obviously. These are the questions I want you to ask me and these are the answers that I will be giving and I’m going. Okay, we’re talking transactional here. It’s like it just gets lifeless in a sense. There is no vitality. There’s no.

06:51.50 podcomm Um.

06:58.28 Helena Roth You know there is no room for what wants to happen here and and it kind of you know it’s like okay here you are behind a lot of facades and I’m actually interested in the people behind the facade.

07:10.71 podcomm My first thought was wait I didn’t know dan rather was still alive but setting that setting that aside for a second I I think the um I dislike my personal choice of words I dislike calling what I do interviews. Um.

07:16.74 Helena Roth I Think it’s quite old.

07:30.56 podcomm And the problem is everybody else that I interact with calls them interviews. So what you and I are doing right now is an interview and I’m like well I mean nominally I’m the host and you’re the guest and and she’s shaking her head. No I agree this is not an interview. Um, but some people like to call it that and I think when I hear people do the classic.

07:41.32 Helena Roth Balcony. No.

07:49.70 podcomm Just the facts ma’am journalistic you know I have a list and you picture them looking at their list while jotting down notes. There’s a time and a place for that. Journalism is super important. But when that gets passed off as join me on Tuesday for this great conversation with this person that is just so hard to get ahold of. And then I get a journalistic experience like why am I listening to that you should turn that turn those notes into the thing that you publish and I read or watch or whatever and I just wonder if that’s a fear. So um, sometimes I do conversations and depending on who I’m talking with the. Person may not be very open and I’m never looking for dirt. But if I want to have a heartfelt conversation and somebody who’s closed off. It’s like well I’m going to have to share more like I’m going to have to show up even more I don know words fail where I have to be very present and really lean in um and then at the end I’m like woo you know I was talking about. You know suicide or you know things that I don’t normally tell people about um likem and I just wonder if maybe that journalism like we could be nice and say that comes from habit if you’re trained as a journalist you do five thousand journalistic interviews you’re going to that’s going to be your stk. But I also wonder if it doesn’t come from a place of fear where people are are yeah as a coach you have to be very comfortable. You know I know where this is going to go so I’m just going to ask questions and I had to be comfortable knowing that this is a well-intentioned space and I just think I’m hoping people would eventually grow out of that if they’re starting in that.

09:13.13 Helena Roth Um, yeah, yeah.

09:24.59 podcomm Space that that type of interview with that type of conversation from a place of fear have you do you have any experience with any body that you’ve seen do us like it can happen on the guest side. They you know conversation conversation 3 four 5 in they open up. They get more comfortable. They start asking you questions it starts to become more 2 wo-way Um, have you seen that happening in podcasters where they you know, kind of relax and find their find their stride.

09:51.44 Helena Roth Well, yeah I think you can I mean again I I think that happens and I think I’ve kind of listened to it and it is for me a conversation is like. There’s 2 people who are of interest whereas if it’s an interview. It’s it’s 1 person who’s of interest right? It’s like I’m just asking questions and I could be replaced by anybody who could ask questions a tell.

10:23.36 podcomm Um, a teleprompter rate.

10:27.66 Helena Roth Ah, prompter could be asking the questions and I could be respond you know the guest could be responding to them. But so like you do now. It’s like you don’t start off with these are the questions that I always ask so it isn’t an interview that way for me. But if you were.

10:29.41 podcomm Yeah.

10:39.45 podcomm Right.

10:46.41 Helena Roth Clicking on just asking questions. You wouldn’t do what you just did which is share this meandering the thought that goes and is like and oh here comes a question you know it might not always be questions. It can just be kind of a. Ah, statement or reflection and then you know I can just pick up on whatever happens in me or with me or a thought I get or something. Um, but I’ve been I’ve been you know I do enjoy. I really like on being with Krista tippett and I even though I would say that that is in many ways that there’s a big part of of interview aspect to it. But she does share herself I feel like I you know I’ve listened to a lot of on being as but you know she is present right? So it is the 2 people or 3 however many it is um and and it is that presence that I think that I’m looking for That’s the thing that.

11:42.32 podcomm Yeah, Krista is present. Yeah.

11:59.84 Helena Roth That kind of hooks me its like again like I say when when there’s a person there when I get to to hear the person. Oh there’s there’s 1 of the the krista tippetts where she speaks to ocean vong who’s a poet’s author. Ah.

12:18.73 podcomm Um I miss that 1 What’s the person’s last name again vaughan if.

12:19.29 Helena Roth Just an amazing episode. Ah ah, vng v u o o n g wong n g probably v u o n g wong yeah ocean vong. It’s an amazing because. They are in a conversation right? it’s it’s a couple of years old I don’t know 4 or 5 years old probably yeah it’s ah it’s so good I don’t know how many times I’ve listened to that 1.

12:45.67 podcomm That’s how I don’t recall seeing that 1 I have obviously not listened to all of them. Um.

12:56.20 Helena Roth Because I do that I I re-listen to to podcasts that I find interesting and and if there are conversations you know I pick up on new things every time.

13:08.14 podcomm Yeah, a couple of things that you said jumped out at me and I’m like oh which 1 do I want to pull on um and I usually like to pull on the 1 that I’ve never had a chance to talk about before so you. We’re talking about like the number of people like it’s a conversation between the host and our guest which is my general That’s my plate mostly my sandbox says a lot. What krista that tip it does and I’m wondering have you had the chance to either actually record or to just try and create conversation where you. Sort of show up as the chef you know and because I’ve had a couple situations where I once had 3 ladies who had co-created a nonprofit organization and everybody knew who these people were but nobody ever really heard them and because they were always behind the scenes doing all the hard work and I got the 3 of them to sit down at 1 of their houses and I got.

13:51.79 Helena Roth Who.

13:59.41 podcomm Had microphones for all of us and I pointed mics at them and it was the most magical conversation I basically just sat back and I’m like everyone’s thought I’d be like tell me more about that you know and they would just keep going and they just had the conversation with self-sustaining and and I wasn’t present.

14:08.10 Helena Roth And.

14:14.18 podcomm Um, just wondering if you’ve had any experiences like that. Maybe where either you did it on purpose for recording or maybe just like in a cafe or some scenario where you just decided to deploy your conversational skills for good and and like cultivate the environment. But you’re not actually the person engaging in the conversation.

14:31.50 Helena Roth Yeah I’ve I’ve had that I’m not so sure if I’ve done that in in podcasting situations but it has happened in in other so you know in other situations and. It is It is kind of thrilling now and again to to to do that. You know to kind of you know and to a large extent… That’s a lot of what coaching can be too. You know this you create this container you you set up the space you you you. You know you’re You’re an enabler in a sense you point at those microphones at these ladies and you know hands off, you don’t have to do anything but I wouldn’t say that you’re not Present. You’re just not voiced there right? But you’re still there. You’re still the 1 who’s making.

15:22.20 podcomm Um, yeah.

15:29.14 Helena Roth Part of that possible. Um, but but I’ve I’ve come to to the sort of to a point in life where I don’t necessarily feel the need to add my 2 sense. You know so my old me would add those 2 cents like all the time right? I wouldn’t not do that today. I don’t have to do that that doesn’t matter if it’s in a you know if it’s at a you know for work. Or or in a podcasting conversation or just sitting around listening to to people you know friends and family or anything. It’s like I don’t always have to add my thing you know now and again I do now and again I don’t and that’s interesting. There’s a there’s ah a. Sort of a conversation exercise that I’ve done when I’ve done leadership trainings where 1 person is the person who who’s sharing speaking the other is the person who prompts them if there’s a need for it and the third person is the dog. The 1 who just listens who is not allowed to say anything and it’s so interesting. Some people will go I have five minutes to speak I don’t want to speak you know, really uncomfortable being the 1 speaking and then there’s the people who go I hate being the dog because I can’t and.

16:59.16 podcomm Um, dog.

17:02.55 Helena Roth My 2 cents I’m not allowed you know bunny hears to actually say something but I want to tell them about this thing and I had this experience and oh they need to check out this podcast or this book or you know, no, you don’t you just sit with it. So it’s it’s interesting. What what happens in people.

17:14.92 podcomm Okay.

17:22.35 Helena Roth When it comes to conversation and listening and sharing and you know like just knowing that yeah I had I I could say something here but I can just kind of send my love and my energy instead you know that will do fine.

17:38.90 podcomm Yeah.

17:41.73 Helena Roth Just kind of relaxing into that has made life a heck of a lot easier.

17:46.28 podcomm Yes, plus 1 um I’m I’m also thinking so a couple minutes ago when we were talking about Krista tippett and then before that we were talking about stock questions. Um, and and I have some shows I do where there’s like a stock question that goes on the end I use it like a turn signal like okay, we’re getting off the highway. And there’s I’m overimifying I think but there’s like 2 main ways to to start recording a conversation 1 way is to before you press record start talking a little bit and then at some point somebody’s said to go. Okay, stop. We meet the press record and I really think that there’s I don’t think there’s a great way to do it like no matter how you do it. It’s going to be just so so so Krista tippett’s my opinion brilliance is she starts with a question asking about religion and it it generally gives like somebody has enough to say about that that she can find the first thread in there. And it’s like yeah okay, you’re asking a stock question and most of the answers that you hear are pretty so like by now you’ve heard the same answer. You know people only have yes, they’re all unique, but they pretty much give similar answers. So on 1 hand, you could just skip that part. We could just like have a pre-conversation and then we’ll start with the good stuff. Edit off but then there’s the other side of it which is for these conversations I do the pre-conversation and then we try and stop and start again and the second start is just as hard as the first start. Um, so I don’t know that there’s a ah real particular question. There. It’s just I’m I’m just wondering what your thoughts are and about like.

19:11.85 Helena Roth Yeah.

19:19.78 podcomm The conversations that you and I are talking about doing here are completely artificial in that we’re creating it and were you know it’s like cooking like you know the souffle is not natural. Um, but whether or not the souffle Works. You know there’s some natural and randomness in that and I’m just wondering your thought have you have you dove into that in terms of thinking about. How to begin and how the beginning um and there’s a whole similar conversation for endings but just have you thought what are your thoughts on how beginnings of conversations work when you’re trying to record them.

19:47.98 Helena Roth I have learned and and um, um, I’m still learning but basically have learned now that the minute you know if if I meet up with somebody at Nine o’clock I press record and then we we start you know. Um, and 1 time I don’t know conversation number 3 or four with gary of of the past season on my podcast was interesting because we got into this conversation and ah thing so and twenty minutes in he went aren’t you gonna so. Start to record and I went what the oh shit ba no bubber so he’s like you know and then that happens that I you know is like okay.

20:30.85 podcomm Yeah, yeah.

20:38.13 Helena Roth Here We go here. We start we have just been having this conversation gary you were saying just this thing could you please repeat it. So so it’s like I I just I’d rather start the recording and have it.

20:39.68 podcomm Um, know yeah that.

20:52.56 Helena Roth Kind of like I know krista tippett does. Also you know her unedited has them doing the sound checks and what did you have for breakfast today and and and those kind of things. It’s like okay here I I get into it. Um, and I I like that I can my.

20:53.83 podcomm Um, yeah. Yeah.

21:11.70 Helena Roth My podcast is basically not edited at all I hit record it goes to the end my my my conversation partner leaves and then I record the the beginning the intro which my friend Caspian then cuts out and puts at the top right? but.

21:23.67 podcomm Brave.

21:29.39 Helena Roth Basically, that’s it. Oh.

21:30.82 podcomm I think there’s a lot of wisdom in your organic approach and I agree I have definitely had the oh I should be recording this and I’m not for various reasons. So yeah, um, but I think my quest for perfection is inevitably my downfall. So if I don’t screw up. Once in a while I don’t think I’m you know trying hard. No. So I I try to relax when I do in every screw up but I would be mindful of our time and your time and our listeners’ time. So I think that’s a great place to stop for our first conversation. Perhaps not our last helena thank you for taking the time.

22:02.94 Helena Roth Perhaps not thank you.

22:09.56 podcomm Bye.