Welcome to the Jet Propelled Podcast Spotlight. These segments are an opportunity to dive into some of the lesser known details of some of the incredibly beneficial podcasts that are being produced today. In these podcast spotlights I will shine a light on programs that are well-produced, deeply-thoughtful, highly-beneficial, and actionable for its listening audience. The podcasts in these spotlights will have a strong focus on artists, designers, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders.
Whether you are looking to discover highly-valuable podcast content, or you are interested in trying out the podcast radio format for the first time, you have come to the right place.
This week we kick things off with a spotlight on the podcast "Challenge Your Thinking" with Dr. Linda Tucker...
Why "Challenge Your Thinking"?
Dr. Linda Tucker has carefully constructed what has become a very fluid extension of her successful practice that she has built over the last 20 years. Her warm and genuine cadence is thoughtful, purposeful, and subtly guiding; all characteristics which prove to be an ideal foundation for thought-provoking and relatable discussion with her prominent and uniquely-experienced guests. The 30-40 minute format proves to be ideal for these conversations that begin with her guest introduction in which she presents a brief, but informative overview of their achievements and even offers them the opportunity to add in anything she may have missed. Following the introduction she performs a gently-guided interview that allows for her guest to dive into real and impactful thought about their successes and failures. This is where we get into the real meat of the discussion and is also what makes Challenge Your Thinking a must listen.
The other aspect of this program is the very carefully curated guest roster that Dr. Tucker is able to put together on a weekly basis. There is a very strong focus on unique experiences, perseverance, and the development of new behaviour patterns for building successful lives for yourself and those around you. Listeners get to pull back the curtain and see into the minds of successful authors, performers, artist, speakers, and more.
Q & A
I had the opportunity to sit down and speak with Dr. Tucker and Darrell Darnell about the creation of the show, its path to success, and also dive into some of the details surrounding the people and experiences that have shaped their personal and professional lives over the years. They were both very generous with their time and genuine with their responses during our conversation. I hope you enjoy the interview and seek out and support the great work they both do.
Brad Dean: Could you talk a little bit about what the catalyst was for your interest in podcasts to begin with and what they key factor was that drove you to start “Challenge Your Thinking”?
Dr. Tucker: One friend in particular was listening to podcasts regularly and suggested I do one. I didn’t even know what a podcast was. She kept saying…you’re really good at what you do but no one knows who you are…my thinking was…I have been a psychoanalyst for a lot of years and a psychotherapist for even longer and loving what I do is what mattered the most to me. Different people would ask me over the years “what is your “specialty,” or “what are you really good at?” I have done this for so long and have worked with so many different kinds of issues that more than anything it was hard to be succinct. However, when I started thinking about it I knew that I had become very proficient in one particular area. I will quote one of my former patients…I have been told that I’m “kick ass good” at helping people zero in on what their obstacles and challenges are, how they can overcome them and go on to, not just success, but phenomenal success. So, I thought, if I ever were to do a podcast that would be the direction I might take. Every person I have ever worked with is afraid of something and it’s generally what stands in their way or holds them back from making changes. I know I have become good at helping people catapult their personal and professional lives…wherever they start is not where they ultimately end up. In general they go on to become much more than they ever dreamed possible. And, so this is the long answer to how I came to podcasting… I have to say, several of the people in my life, some of my students and other people who know what I do said to me and, i know i’m repeating myself here…they said: “You know, you are so good at what you do but no one really knows who you are.” And I said: “Well, that’s ok.” And, they said, “no, it’s really not ok.” “You could be helping so many more people than you are.” “You love giving, you know you’re a social worker by training and by heart, you need to do this.” “You totally need to do a podcast.” And, I’m like, what’s a podcast? I have a lot of people in my life who are so into podcasts lately and I didn’t even know what they were. And they’re like: “No really, you should do a podcast. Just think of how many people you can share this with.” So, they started getting me interested in the idea of doing a podcast. I had never listened to a podcast and never really wanted to listen to a podcast. But then I discovered them and kind of got hooked. So I thought, this could be a giving back. This could be a way of inspiring other people and that’s the long answer of how I became interested in doing Challenge Your Thinking.
Brad Dean: Who does your professional podcast support team consist of? How is it that you came across them and how did you form those relationships?
Dr. Tucker: Well, I started out taking a couple of classes. My first college degree was in communications and I had done a radio show early on so there was a part of me that said, how hard can this be, but when it came to really doing a podcast… I had no idea what was doing. So, I trained with a couple of people, Cliff Ravenscraft, and Andrew Warner, and they were pretty much in agreement you’ve got to get people to support you and help you and so I started out thinking this technical stuff completely overwhelms me so I started out working with a sound engineer. I refused to buy any of the equipment they were recommending, and decided to hire someone to help me. And then I had to go across a bridge every time I was going to be recording my podcast and it just got to be entirely too much with a full-time practice. And so Cliff Ravenscraft, Mensch that he is gave me the solution which he had given me from the beginning but I probably wasn’t listening because technical stuff made me glaze over. I finally called Cliff and said, “Cliff “You’ve got to help me here. How can I do this”? And he’s like “Oh, you’ve got to talk to Darrell Darnell”. So, I’m like: “Who’s Darrell Darnell”? And he’s like: “He is such a good editor!” So I kind of started with the people I knew who I trusted who began referring me to some really great people. Darrell and I were just having a conversation 10 minutes ago and Darrell’s like: “You know, this guy (Jet Propelled) wants to interview you and…” and I said “But Darrell, I couldn’t do this podcast without you”. I feel that this is a team effort and yes, I do the interviews but I really feel that Darrell and I are a team. So that’s how I found Darrell and he’s the guy I work with a lot. We email each other several times a week, we talk once a week, sometimes twice a week and he’s become not just a support person, but a good friend.
Brad Dean: Darrell, Dr. Tucker brought up your relationship with Cliff Ravenscraft. Can you tell me a little bit about how you connected with him?
Darrell Darnell: Yeah, so Cliff and I first met back in 2005 or 2006. He was doing a podcast about the T.V. show LOST, and I was watching LOST and loving it and that’s how I discovered podcasts. And I discovered his podcast because I was looking for people talking about this show that I was loving so much. And I started calling in to his show and he was playing my feedback and that just really got me intrigued with podcasting even more than I was before as just being a listener and so I thought I should start my own. So I picked a T.V. show that I thought would be really good; it was called “Fringe”, and I started podcasting about it and so I picked Cliff’s brain about what type of equipment I should get, and I purchased some things through him and so that was sort of our first level of relationship. And then my day job that I had at the time, we were expanding to start selling products online and I knew that Cliff had a great online audience from all around the world, much beyond the geographical location that we were located in, which up to that point you only knew about our company if you were in one of our geographical regions, and so we partnered with one of his podcasts called Family from the Heart to do some advertising. And so that kind of took my relationship with Cliff to a different level; one that was where we were working together to produce ad’s and things like that that would be mutually beneficial for his interests and our own. And so that really allowed us to work more closely together. Then when I left that job to do what I do now, with folks like Dr. Linda Tucker, Cliff was a big part of that in terms of advising me and like she (Dr. Tucker) mentioned through the relationship that Cliff and I had built up over the years and the trust that we had gained and the relationship that we had, (and) the understanding he had of what I was doing on my own time producing podcasts. When it came time to step out and do this on my own, we started working together in more of a business relationship with referrals and that sort of thing. So our relationship has taken on a life of its own where I started out as a fan of his, listening to his podcast and now we have a lot of faith and trust that we have put into each other on a very professional and business level.
Brad Dean: Staying in the realm of networking, a question for both of you: What tools have you both used as far as hosting the show and with the behind the scenes work and what tools that you found to be most effective for networking?
Dr. Tucker: Well, I’m going to answer this very tongue-in-cheek that I haven't. I don't have time to. I mean I keep hearing people both now and from the beginning; “You’ve got to be on Twitter, you’ve got to be on Facebook, and you’ve got to have a Google+ page”, and I’m like “I don’t have time for that. Could you do it for me?” So, you're talking about a staff or a support network. I have had to find people to help me do these things because it's not in my vocabulary to know how or maybe even want to do these things. I didn't know Twitter from Skitter. I wasn't interested frankly, but as time has gone on I’ve become a little more open and even adept at it. I now send out tweets on a daily basis much to my surprise and I have friends of friends say; “Oh, I’m following Dr. Linda Tucker. Y’know she really says some great things.” And I’m like “Really? That’s so nice to hear.” And so when you sent me an email I was very happy to hear from you. I sometimes feel like I'm broadcasting in a vacuum and I often don't really know, are people receiving this in the manner in which I intend it which is to help them to move forward and to feel inspired. I honestly don’t know. I hope for that. So, this was especially wonderful to get some feedback because I don't really know where this stuff is going. It feels very amorphous to me.
Brad Dean: Your podcast is absolutely fantastic. I have been listening to podcasts for quite some time now and speaking as a listener I feel very well taken care of when you go down these different paths with somebody. I don't feel any point like you're going to drop the ball or that there's going to be any awkward moments or anything like that. As a listener I feel very confident in your ability to host a very solid, reliable, enjoyable, and informative interview.
Dr. Tucker: Thank you so much for saying that. That means a lot to me.
Brad Dean: Darrell, as far as networking is concerned is this the same for you or do you have specific tools that you have utilized to make your way through networking?
Darrell Darnell: I would like to say that I have found the secret to networking, or that there is a great tool, but I know for me networking is just your relationships with people. So I go to a few conferences a year where I get to meet people and talk shop, or learn more about them, or whatever happens to come out of those conversations, and those have been really worthwhile for me; but it’s usually just word-of-mouth. I’ll do work for somebody and they’ll tell somebody else or that sort of thing but I don't have a magical tool. I find connections via. Social Media through some different groups on Facebook or LinkedIn or things like that but I don’t have a magic bullet for that.
Brad Dean: For both of you it sounds to me like a little bit of an “If you build it, they will come” kind of thing.
Dr. Tucker: Hopefully. I mean I’m actually rather shy. Even though when people meet me they don't think I'm the least bit shy. They think I'm an extrovert but I assure you I am absolutely an introvert. So to go to one of these conferences, Darrell and I have been talking about it and I even said; “Gee, I should go to one of those podcast conferences.” and it's almost painful to me to have to make small talk. I’m just not really very good at it. I have had some of the same friends and people in my life for many years and I am always the person who is interested in what's in people's hearts and what's in their minds and if I'm just standing around it's hard to have a deep conversation with people. It's also part of the reason that I love podcasting; I get to talk to people who are willing to speak so candidly to me. So that part I love but the promotional part? No, that is just not me.
Brad Dean: I suppose that’s another case of hiring the right people.
Dr. Tucker: Exactly. And, that takes time. Darrell definitely is, but you know, Social Media-wise I'm not the kind of person who's going to buy Twitter followers. It just it goes against everything I believe in.
Brad Dean: So the way I kind of see from your answer is that it's not so much as important to focus on the social media aspect but rather to focus on the quality of what you're putting out into the world and that's going to end up being the key to having people want to promote you want to champion your product and spread the word themselves.
Dr. Tucker: Well from your lips to God’s ears. Darrell and I were just having this conversation because the podcast has gone through some different iterations and we’re now about to try yet another one and I said “Darrell don't be mad at me I want to try one more thing.” I didn’t want him to be disappointed because I know he really loved the direction that we were heading in and he’s like: “No, no, this is your podcast; you can do whatever.” And I said “Well, it doesn't feel that way to me, it feels like, as I said earlier and don't mean to repeat myself but, we’re a team. So, he tolerates me and my iterations.
Brad Dean: Your format feels incredibly natural and is very enjoyable and informative for me but I'm also very excited to hear what your plans are for the change. Is that something that you can discuss right now.
Dr. Tucker: I could just tell you briefly. I would sometimes be excited about an interview that I had and I would have some people over and I would say that I was excited and “Let me play this for you”. And so, these are people who have known me for 30+ years and I'd click the intro and they were like: “Do we have to listen to that intro again? “We’ve heard it already.” “Can you just fast forward through that thing?” And, I get my hand on my hip and I’d be like “I can’t believe you don't like my intro.” And they’re like: “We like it, but, it's too long.” So I thought okay well let me rethink this because they love me and they want my podcast to be a success so I thought okay we need to shorten the intro. So, I thought, let's start with a voiceover from one of my guests. Let’s take a part of the interview that's interesting, and maybe can give people a sense of the direction we're headed and then I can do some commentary on it before I introduce them and then have a briefer introduction from some of my more lengthy introductions. Monty Roberts, the horse whisperer for instance, I did this full-page introduction of him and he just had this huge breadth of experience and I didn't know how to get around it but I think maybe I've learned something and maybe if I were to do that interview today I would be able to shorten it up. So again this is the long answer for me trying to be more succinct.
Brad Dean: You touch on how you’re looking to frame your podcast in such way to represent the storyline in the best way possible and touching on crafting that storyline and crafting your interview; how do you go about preparing for your interviews from research to developing and ordering your questions?
Dr. Tucker: Well that's it that's a really good and probably long answer too but I'll try to give you the cliff notes. When I did my first interview I read every word of Felicity Aston's that I could get my hands on and any interview that she had done and I stood at my kitchen island with butcher paper and I drew her journey; where she began the journey, each location that she stopped, and I thought “how am I ever going to do this with each guest?” I'm going to be exhausted. So, I now read portions of their books unless I'm completely fascinated by the people that I'm interviewing which I often am. For instance, I'm interviewing Dan Buettner next week who wrote “The Blue Zones” and he's the guy who, as a National Geographic fellow, was trying to figure out where in the world people who have achieved longevity, where they have lived to be 100 years or older and I thought “this guy fascinates me.” So someone like that I’m probably going to read every word but I spend, probably now it's more like three or four days of research reading and writing some of my questions. Some of the questions I am now able to repeat, but basically I kind of fall in love with my guests and their story before I'm about to meet them because I feel like I've lived a brief while with them immersing myself in their stories; sometimes for weeks, sometimes for three or four days but I wouldn't have chosen someone that I wasn't interested in or fascinated with. It’s similar to reading an incredible book or biography. At the end of it you feel moved, at least I do, moved to have spent this special time with them.
Brad Dean: That’s great. And you bring up Felicity Aston and I actually wanted to touch on the two-part interview that had with her not too long ago. A lot of your podcasts tend to, and like you said, probably because you find yourself becoming so intimately linked with these people leading up to your interview, a lot of your podcasts touch on a very deep emotional pulse with your guests. I would imagine that your professional background helps you create this safe, open platform for people to feel comfortable opening up and feel safe. Obviously a lot of this is very natural for you but if you were to deconstruct that, how would you describe the different techniques that you use to make sure that you do provide that safe and open environment for the type of discussion that you come out with?
Dr. Tucker: You know, in all honesty I don't really consider what I do in terms of “a technique.” I think that maybe part of what happens in my interviews happens because I'm truly genuinely interested in the people that I'm interviewing and I think they sense that. They kind of know it in their bones. So we just have a real conversation and I and I think they feel that I'm interested and maybe they feel welcomed and safe because of that. I'm not sure. I don't really feel like I use a technique I'm just genuinely interested.
Brad Dean: Darrell, you currently work on the Challenge Your Thinking podcast but are there any other shows you are currently working on?
Darrell Darnell: I have quite a few different clients that I work with and the common thread with all of the folks that I get to work with are, like Linda said at the beginning, she felt like she was in a place in her life where she wanted to give back and all of my clients are that exact way. I’ve got lawyers, economists, chef’s, entrepreneurs, and just all sorts of folks that I work with but every single one of them are folks who are at a place in their life where they have this, and I agree, treasure trove of life experience that if they could bottle it up and give it to people that they understand that people's lives would be better because of it. So I get to work with quite a few people who have that same passion that Linda does to help people and enrich people's lives.
Brad Dean: I wanted to touch on the concepts that have become very important to me as of late, and from what I understand is very important to you as well, is the concept of the Helping Economy. We all know about the Sharing Economy but how would you describe what the Helping Economy means to you, and to start off, would you to be able to explain a time that sticks out in your mind when you used that principle to help someone or group of people.
Dr. Tucker: Oh gosh, I did volunteer work 15 years prior to going to graduate school and I think I've always had a social workers heart and way of thinking and I couldn't believe that I could actually get paid to do something that I love this much. So I was doing counseling for a lot of years before I even had the idea that I could go to graduate school and make a living at doing this. I think it's kind of always been a part of my adult life. My first volunteer job was with an organization when I was living in Manhattan called “Village Visiting Neighbors” and I don't want to date myself but that was 30 years ago. So it's kind of always been a part of my life and I am now seeing people writing books about it lately. In fact I just interviewed someone who’s name is Michael Stallard who wrote a book called “The Connection Culture” and Kare Anderson & and Margaret Heffernan, two other people, and so many of my guests feel similarly that It's not about competition it's about collaboration and I think that I've just always naturally believed in that concept but it's kind of having a renaissance and I'm very heartened by that.
Brad Dean: Well, it sounds to me like the rest of the world is finally catching up.
Dr. Tucker: Well, I'd like to think I'm a thought leader but, I don't know, I have many other social worker friends who have thought these same ways for a lot of years. Maybe I've just always surrounded myself with caring others but now I’m finding all of these wonderful people to interview who feel similarly and they’re in all walks of life. A lot of them seem to now be in corporate America so I'm kind of really excited about that.
Brad Dean: I'm very excited myself. It's nice to see a philosophy like this extend out beyond what might be considered a naturally benevolent career and into podcasting, business building, workshops, and things like that.
Dr. Tucker: And I think, you know, to bring Darrell back into it, I think that one of the reasons that I like working with him so much is he's a benevolent other. He’s a Mensch.
Brad Dean: Yes, and that’s one of the reasons why I love my wife. She is a registered massage therapist and I love that a natural part of her in her career is to take care of people. On the on the other hand, and this is a question for both of you, are you able to describe a time where you were the primary benefactor of someone else's help in this Helping Economy.
Darrell Darnell: I think I would go back to my relationship with Cliff Ravenscraft. As much as I would like to say that I have given to him, there is no question (it’s not even close) that I have received much more from him than at this point I'm even capable of repaying. And I don’t mean monetarily. That's not at all what I’m talking about. I mean his benevolence towards me in terms of the people he's connnected to me, (Linda is an example that) and the knowledge that he has shared. He has always been willing to jump on a phone call with me or share email correspondence with me. Just to have a desire from his heart to share anything that he can in order to enrich my life. He and I have had multiple discussions about this concept of giving to others and serving others and he and I share a very similar frame of mind when it comes to that. But yeah, he's a guy that I don't think that I could ever out-give even if I tried and my life is certainly richer because of Cliff Ravenscraft.
Brad Dean: And Dr. Tucker (same question)?
Dr. Tucker: Well I have had the good fortune of having so many people in my life that have enriched it and given me handouts and a leg up and in this particular industry I can also point to Cliff Ravenscraft, Darrell and Andrew Warner. Andrew Warner has been very generous with me. He is also in San Francisco. He let me meet with his support staff who gave me lots of tips, for instance what is the best way to find the people you're looking to interview or you might consider this piece of software to keep track of your guests. He was very magnanimous. But in my psychoanalytic career I had one particular mentor; her name was Dr. Hedda Bolgar. She passed away three years ago at the age of 103 and I spent 3 to 4 years filming her. I probably have about 70+ hours of her life history. We turned it into a documentary film that I was fortunate enough to be invited to show at different psychoanalytic venues and every time we did I would get a standing ovation. And, I was always was convinced it was because I had had Hedda by my side. She was very spry and much older than me, and she just had the most phenomenal life. She left Vienna the day that Hitler arrived and you know we basically told the story of her life unfolding on her way to Switzerland and then onto the United States with the Nazis boarding her train along her journey and there was no one like this woman. I miss her. I still get tearful talking about her because she meant so much to me. But she changed my life. She loved me, she cared about me, and she supported me in so many different ways and I can’t even begin to thank her. I’m going to write a book about her life and I was actually tasked by her to be her “official biographer”. She was a very iconic figure in the world of psychoanalysis and I'm just kind of waiting for some of the grief to subside before I start.
Brad Dean: It sounds to me like she is still changing lives through you.
Dr. Tucker: What a lovely thing to say. Talk about a connector. That's what Hedda did. She started the Wright Institute in Los Angeles, was one of the founders for CSPP and those are only two of the small contributions that she’s made. It was her legacy to keep on giving long after she died, and so before she died she and I made an agreement that I would put up a website, (and) I would have the film available. The problem is the format that I filmed it in is no longer available. I need to change the ending to include her death and I have to find someone with an old Mac that has this editing program and I've yet to find an editor who has it. Anyway, so the film will be online one day, and in order to see it they would have to donate to one of three of Hedda’s charities.
Brad Dean: We are just over the half-hour mark and out of respect for your time I would like to wrap things up with a few questions that I refer to as the Ground Control Essentials. So starting with Darrell, what is your favorite city in the world to visit and why?
Darrell Darnell: See it used to be Seattle or Boston depending on my mood but I went to Honolulu last year. So that's my new favorite because there was so much to do there. It was so beautiful, so relaxing, the culture was just my kind of culture. Just laid-back and caring and fun and yeah, I would love to go back there.
Brad: Darrell, if you could name one person or a group of people that, when you think about them, you think they are doing it right, who would you mention?
Darrell: Wow, what an incredibly broad question to try to figure out how to narrow down.
Brad: I could expand, if that would help.
Darrell: Okay, okay.
Brad: Or I could provide an example maybe. So there are a few people in my life that I tend to draw inspiration by default mentorship from and when I look at the way that they carry themselves, when I look at the things they dedicated their lives to, how they have gained a strong focus on things that are really important in the world versus material or false sense of successes and things like that, people who hold family and friends dear, I look at certain people in my life like that, and I think, you are doing it right.
Darrell: Yeah, you know, as you described that, what comes to mind—and it has to be because of recent events of this week—but there was a wonderful woman who passed this week by the name of Elisabeth Elliot, and she was the wife of a missionary—a group of missionaries that went to Ecuador in the 1950s to try to bring the message of Jesus to Ecuadorian Indians in these remote areas of the jungle, and through a series of just odd circumstances, the men were murdered by the Auca Indians. And the story that came from that was the most incredible story of love and forgiveness that I have ever, ever experienced. I actually got to meet the man who killed her husband. I never got to meet her, but I met the man who killed her husband. One of the other men killed that day was a man named Nate Saint and their story of forgiveness is so powerful that Nate’s own children call this man who killed their dad, they call him grandfather. Because of the circumstances that happened after he was killed, their relationship that formed just seems crazy that you would call the man who killed your father, grandfather, but that’s the type of relationship that they had. And so it happened nearly 60 years ago, the relationship, obviously, has come a long way since then, but every time I hear their story or read their story or get to speak with people involved about it—like I said, I met the man who murdered their dad. I met the man who calls him grandfather. I’ve met a few of the people involved, and they’re just great people because the thing that matters most to them is relationships and people, and they did not allow hate to rule over their world, but they still sought reconciliation through that, and I think that’s a powerful lesson that any of us, all of us can benefit from. So I look at them and go, yeah, that’s an amazingly powerful thing to have done, and I could learn a lot from that.
Brad: In a million years, I couldn’t have expected an answer so profound. Thank you very much.
Linda: Talk about a story of forgiveness.
Darrell: Yeah, yeah. It really is powerful.
Brad: Absolutely. And then, one final question for you, Dr. Tucker. If you could just think of one question that you think I might have missed that you think would have been great to ask…
Dr. Tucker: That’s the question I always ask at the end. I think you’ve done a great job. I can’t think of anything. Thank you.
Challenge Your Thinking is a reliable and thought-provoking 30-40 minute weekly podcast that is well worth your listenership. You will become exposed to some of the world's most interesting and influential people of our time from the incredibly unique perspective of a highly-regarded and socially committed psychoanalyst with over 20 years of experience in her field. I will warn you though, this podcast will change your outlook and most definitely Challenge Your Thinking!
Thank you for connecting!
For more information on Dr. Tucker and Darrell Darnell please visit their respective sites below.
Dr. Linda Tucker