The books, movies, music, podcasts, and other happenings on our radar
In the spotlight this week are two very educational podcasts to add to your subscription list. How are you going to get caught up on your ever-growing list now? Maybe try finding a job with a longer commute. Don't blame us, blame the podcast revolution.
How I Built This with Guy Raz
We see it all the time at Outside: Dirtbag has brilliant idea, finds a way to monetize it, and—if she's lucky—the rest is history. It happened to Sally Bergesen, Nick Woodman, Yvon Chouinard... actually, Chouinard is one of dozens of entrepreneurs who will make an appearance on How I Built This, a new weekly show from NPR's Guy Raz that will focus on the entrepreneurs and stories behind iconic brands, from Instagram to Vice.
Raz has held many titles from conflict reporter to NPR bureau chief, but most know him as host of the podcast TED Radio Hour. We spoke with him about branching out to genius-in-a-garage stories and the loftier lessons he hopes we'll take away. The first episode airs September 12, but keep an eye out for the episodes about Chouinard and Clif Bar founder Gary Erickson—you'll appreciate your next trip to REI a little more.
OUTSIDE: Why start a show about entrepreneurship in particular?
RAZ: I think that we are sort of in this entrepreneurial renaissance. If you ask people graduating from college what they want to do, a lot of them say they want to start a business or something on their own. That wasn't the case ten or 20 years ago. Conventionally it’s been go to law school, medical school, work for a company. I think the financial crisis was just a shock to the system, and a lot of people with college degrees couldn’t get jobs. You had this explosion of creativity and vitality because of that. There’s this really amazing moment in our history where we see all of these amazing companies that are just exploding, and they're beautifully designed.
What's struck you most as you've learned about these origin stories?
One of the most amazing things I learned from interviewing these people—they’re risk takers, full on, but almost every single person I’ve interviewed mitigated their risk. They kept their day job.
There are so many surprising stories that shatter myths about people who do this—they have this total unshakeable optimism. How many times have you had an idea and said, "I can make that and make a million dollars." The difference between us and them is that they do it. I don’t think it’s because they have more grit or perseverance or supernatural powers, it’s because they will themselves to do it. Grit and perseverance are things that are developed. They really work on those characteristics and think of it as a skill, something that gets better with practice. My hope is that people who hear the show think, I can totally do that.
There are a lot of podcasts out there—why should we listen to yours?
We have a finite amount of time during the day, so when you’re given a little bit of time to spend with TV or movies or a podcast, I think people want to use that time to get their minds working, get a sense of the possibility, to just be inspired, really. That’s why I think and hope people will be attracted to these stories. They’re about people who went through a whole range of experience, emotion, and failure, but through perseverance really came through—and not always in a way they expected to.
At first, I didn't really see any Outside connection. But the more I think about it, we see the same kinds of back stories in the gear we take for granted, or even athletes and explorers who have become their own brand.
Right! People like Tony Hawk or Kelly Slater, they're amazing entrepreneurs. We're finalizing our remaining folks and they're on that list. If either of them are listening, please get in touch or write back to us!
Bonus: Here are some of Raz's current culture favorites.
Books: Originals by Adam Grant, Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, anything by Michael Chabon or Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Movies: Wings of Desire, School of Rock, and anything new German cinema: Fassbinder, Herzog, Wenders...
Podcasts: Planet Money, Invisibilia, Hidden Brain, Reply All, CodeSwitch, NPR Politics. ("I'm going to sound like I'm doing product placement, but they have incredible reporters!")
TV: The Americans and Washington Nationals baseball games
Music: Kurt Vile, anything from Beck, Lupe Fiasco, DJ Shadow, anything Calvin Harris touches
Long Read: "She Was the PTA Mom Everyone Knew. Who Would Want to Harm Her?"
Fast Talk with VeloNews
We wouldn't necessarily recommend that non-bike-junkies regularly read VeloNews, but the podcast? That's a different story. The first episode premiered this week with a question to draw in even those less inclined toward two wheels: "Why Aren't You a Pro?" Yeah, the general answer is pretty obvious, but the specifics—as detailed by VeloNews's Trevor Connor and Caley Fretz—are well-reported and worth a listen, if only for pre-workout motivation.
Long Read: Outside
Is Nature the Key to Rehabilitating Prisoners?
The great outdoors are a powerful cure—a topic we feel strongly about and that we've written about quite extensively. Brian Mockenhaupt investigates a program that brings the nature cure into some extremely challenging circumstances: the tough years after inmates are released from prison.
“I hit the gate running, feeling like I have to make up for lost time,” Brian said. But the drugs and partying and poor choices had beat him down so far that he was looking for a change. “I’m trying to do some of these things,” he told Jackson, referring to today’s outing, “instead of getting back into the bullshit I was in.”
At least if he was fishing, he said, he wouldn’t be chasing dope.
Long Read: Elsewhere
From Texas Monthly, what happens when you shoot an endangered species (in this case, whooping cranes).
On January 10, a Sunday, the birds received a steady stream of visitors, among them Norma Barnes, a 91-year-old Houston Audubon member who has been birding seriously for the past 35 years. Although Barnes suffers from macular degeneration and can no longer manage the trip to Aransas to see the cranes there, that January afternoon she and two fellow birders were able to watch the cranes up close, as the birds were only fifty to a hundred feet from their car. “They were not at all spooked by us,” she said. “We used our binoculars to look at their faces and their features that you can’t see with the naked eye.”
Though Barnes couldn’t have known it, that was the last afternoon that Thirty-Three and Five would ever experience. The next morning, a local game warden would find their bloody, lifeless bodies on the side of the road.