For many people, Guy Raz has become the voice of curiosity. Every week on the "TED Radio Hour," he interviews thinkers and creators about big ideas - inventions, problems, and solutions. Now, he has a new podcast called "How I Built This." WFDD's Bethany Chafin spoke with Raz about the show that looks at entrepreneurs and the stories behind iconic brands such as Instagram, Clif Bar, AirBnB, and more.
"How I Built This" is all about seizing opportunity. What was the opportunity you saw when creating the show?
You know, I was a news reporter most of my career, and I realized at the core of what I do is telling stories. And so I began to do that with the "TED Radio Hour" when I created that show four years ago with my team. And we have been able to tell incredible stories from around the world about what it means to be human. As we did that show, I've just been thinking over the past year and a half, really, that we're living in this moment [and] there's an opportunity to find out the stories behind these things that we interact with all the time, because the chances are there might be some amazingly dramatic stories to tell, and in fact there were. That was the opportunity that I saw and sort of leaped at it and said, 'Let's try this.'
What are some of the traits that these entrepreneurs have in common?
Virtually all of them are hustlers. Now, I don't mean that in the pejorative way. They're figuring out little things and little ways to build something or to get the word out about the thing they're using. Hustle is a hugely important trait, and I think the core of virtually everbody I've talked to, at their core, they're optimistic. They believe in the possibilities out there, and they really believe in the thing that they're doing, even when people say this can't be done, or this is impossible, or it's not going to happen, or even in the face of crisis, they are optimistic and resilient. And those are absolutely crucially important qualities for any entrepreneur.
Is there a Guy Raz 'brand' and if so, what does it look like or sound like?
I'm always conflicted over this idea of human brands. I mean, Kim Kardashian I guess is sort of a brand. With what we do I sort of think about just making great stuff. I love talking to people, I love pulling stories out of people. I love finding the best in people. I was a reporter for a long time and I covered conflict and crisis, but now, at this point in my career, I'm really interested in what makes people tick and who are they when they are at their best? All of us go through phases throughout our day, and our week, and our months and years where we're at our best and at our worst. But I want to know who are you when you're at your best and what can you teach the rest of us about who you are, and how can we learn from that? I try to leave people with a sense of optimism and possibility because we have a limited amount of time during the day. If you're going to give any of my shows your time, I want you to walk away from those shows feeling like there's something out there in the world for you. And it's not Pollyannaish, I think that it's very real. But I think that we tend to, in the mass media, focus so much on negative things, and to me there is a big space to think about positive things, and that's what I try to do in my shows.