What Jazz, Podcasts and Beer Have in Common

Some time ago I was interviewed for an article on CMX Hub entitled "How Creative Outlets Make You a Better Community Builder". In it, I described how studying music growing up - specifically jazz and improv - prepped me to operate in the business world of social media, community management, and digital marketing.

I learned not only how to rapidly translate the information from the sheet music into creative output, but also fill in gaps that existed (the improv part) while staying within certain boundaries or constraints. The experience sharpened my mental reflexes and I now utilize these skills often as I process massive amounts of new information, make connections and return a creative output every day.

"Wait, what's the squiggly one mean again?"

"Wait, what's the squiggly one mean again?"

While I no longer play jazz, I do listen to it frequently. It's simultaneously relaxing and stimulating for me. I do my best thinking with it my ears, and it seems to be the perfect trigger for me when I'm stuck while working on a complex issue, or diving deep into analysis or something.

I've been thinking a lot lately about what gets me...well, thinking. About where my ideas come from.

In a previous post called What a Strange Love or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Run I talked about my love of running for personal wellness and creative inspiration. Long runs certainly help me sort through the daily jumble of thoughts in my head. Listening to jazz also contributes toward those things. More recently, however, I've discovered a few different sources for inspiration.

While running and listening to jazz seem to serve more of a purpose of helping me gain resolution, these two things simply get me amped up. As you may have guessed from the title of this post, I'm talking about podcasts and beer.

Now, I know what you were probably thinking when you read "podcasts":

That might be fair. Podcasts on the surface can seem a bit silly. Ben Roy brilliantly rips them in  The Nix Brothers-directed Funny or Die parody called "The Eradiscater" when he says, "It's the new thing to do. Everybody's got a podcast now. It's like shock radio for hipsters..."

Now, that's a line from a comedy sketch but it has some heart to it. There are SO many podcasts out there and it really does feel like everybody has one. I mean... I do.

But hidden in between all the nerds out there complaining about the costume choices in the leaked footage from the upcoming X-Men movie (yeah, that's a real thing happening)...

...there are some that harken back to the days when storytelling and spoken word were more widely recognized as works of art. 

My favorites at the moment are "Put Your Hands Together" with Cameron Esposito,  "The Pivot: Marketing Backstories" with Todd Wheatland, and "99 Percent Invisible" with Roman Mars.

I just spent sixteen hours driving across the country listening to the last one on that list. What I like so much about these three podcasts in particular is how well they bring new ideas to light. In fact, all three of them are living breathing examples of new ideas. They're each doing something no one has done before.

PYHT is the first comedy podcast to feature live standup, 99 Percent Invisible is the first to prove the viability of independent public radio (even forming a sort of indie record label of podcasts, Radiotopia), and Todd Wheatland has gathered a group of well known digital marketers and gotten them away from talking solely about digital marketing for once.

When I listen to each of these podcasts (and related ones they recommend) I'm at once engaged and inspired by the creativity and artistry of everyone involved - the hosts and the interviewees or subject matter of the episodes. I am more aware of the world around me and more excited to be a part of it, to create something of my own to share with it.

We weren't meant to be islands - to limit ourselves to one set of thoughts our whole lives, and this is my current method of discovering more about my surroundings, and new people, places and things to be excited about.

Of course that excitement is best amplified in a slightly altered state. I'm not talking about being drunk or high per se. I do however find that the wonderful buzz that a strong craft beer can bring is typically accompanied by worthwhile conversation and company. It's over a good beer that I best share all of the fun things I'm learning or wanting to create, and a it's over a good beer than I learn so much about those around me.

I'm so interested in the environments of craft breweries or ale houses - as they are so conducive to genuine interaction and camaraderie (regardless of what Budweiser will try to tell you). I'm inspired with a brew in my hand and a new person to talk to.

Okay, it's time to end this post, but I'm really terrible at intros/outros. So how about wI just call it and go for a run, listen to jazz or one of those podcasts above, then drink a beer, yeah? Yeah.