Under the Current tells the stories behind the life and work of creative people who come at things in unconventional ways.
#14 - Shanley Knox: bringing in those who don't belong, dealing with unwieldy moments, and the audacious hope of building something new
Shanley Knox is a brand strategist and social entrepreneur based in New York.
In this conversation, we get into dismantling a business on the cusp on success, a dangerous bias around meaningful work, the audacious hope of building something new, and why a set of traffic lights in Downtown Manhattan changed just about everything…
08:00 A tipping point to dismantle a company
12:00 Returning to Africa
21:00 Recognizing real problems as a founder
28:00 The feeling of belonging and not belonging
32:00 The photographer as observer
41:00 Stakeholders that strategists don’t always notice
52:00 The audacious hope of building a thing
59:00 What happens when you freeze in the face of possibility
66:00 Cultural bias around meaningful work
#13 - Sims Foster: the future of the hospitality industry, and doing business for local good
Sims Foster is co-founder of Foster Supply Hospitality - a group of rurally independent small hotels and restaurants based in New York's Catskills Mountains.
In this conversation we get into facing up to the inevitably of hundreds of tiny failures, finding thought partners, the importance of the practice room, how the hospitality industry could rethink the ways it trains talent, and why local matters.
05:00 Introducing Foster Supply Hospitality (and a rogue refrigerator)
08:00 Why the Catskills is such a storied region, and how it’s changed so dramatically in the past few decades
15:00 Starting in hospitality: from dishwashing to digging into data
25:00 Bringing a music sensibility to the hospitality business - and the importance of the practice room
33:00 Facing up to the prospect of constant tiny failures
36:00 The future of training in the hospitality industry
45:00 How Sims assesses new hotel and restaurant opportunities
50:00 Underrated factors that make or break a hospitality company
54:00 The colossal financial failure - and making a recovery
63:00 Seeking out thought partners… and working with your life partner
70:00 Recognizing crisis, and moving forward
77:00 The importance of doing business for local good
#12 - Jonathan Stark: funding the mission, and why marketing can drive us mad
Jonathan Stark is on a mission to rid the world of hourly billing. He helps freelancers, consultants and creatives of all flavours find better ways to do the work they want to do in the world. Jonathan’s own journey has gone from live musician to digital agencies, independent software developer to teacher. While his books, talks, and daily newsletter are now hugely successful - there have inevitably been some bumps along the way.
In this conversation we get into why artists and designers can be very opposite, the real value of music, unexpected occurrences of the employee mentality, and why marketing can make us mad.
04:00 Getting it wrong on-stage
11:00 Why creatives get pulled in two directions
17:00 Funding the mission
22:00 The value of music
35:00 What it means to have an employee mentality - even when you don’t think you do…
43:00 A big lesson from Disneyland
50:00 Wrangling with marketing
58:00 Getting comfortable with speaking and writing in public
67:00 The value of podcasting and newsletters
74:00 Daily publishing
#11 - Olaf Boswijk: on building spaces for arts and culture, finding new perspectives on our natural world, and the importance of staying naive
Amsterdam is widely renowned as a global hub. It's a centre of art, creativity, forward-thinking approaches to sustainability, and a centre of incredible nightlife.
Olaf Boswijk has been at the very center of Amsterdam's nightlife scene for well over a decade: as the music programmer and resident DJ at the Club 11 venue, before setting up the legendary Trouw, and the equally vital De School. It's fair to say Olaf's had a big part to play in creating a worldwide buzz around electronic music in the city.
When Olaf decided to take a little break, he headed out of the city for a little while with his wife Mirla in their yellow camper van.
But this wasn't any old trip - they headed west to Canada, went south into the US, and then all the way through Latin America to Patagonia.
It was in southern Chile that they fell in love - with an incredible part of nature they've come to call Valley of the Possible.
Valley of the Possible is a place where Olaf, Mirja and their team invite and challenge artists, scientists and other creative thinkers and makers to envision alternative perspectives on our relationship with the natural world.
In this conversation Olaf shares the back story of launching this latest project, the questions he asks about his own creative work, his attitude to risk, and why less ambition may be a positive sign.
05:00 Hitting the road from Amsterdam to Patagonia
10:00 The tension between the DJ and club owner
18:00 The power of live vs pre-recording
24:00 Falling in love in Chile
30:00 Making career pivots
33:00 Bringing Valley of the Possible to life
42:00 Olaf's attitude to risk and ambition
55:00 Asking the difficult questions around climate and nature
59:00 Nightlife going from global to local
63:00 The impact of fatherhood
#10 - Dmitry Koltunov: building communities in startups and hiphop, and understanding new cultures
A lot's happened since 9 year old Dmitry Koltunov and his family packed a few suitcases, left the Soviet Union, and headed west into the unknown.
Today, he's known by many as the co-founder of Alice, a hugely successful tech company serving the hospitality industry. To many hundreds more, he's the indefatigable linchpin of a popular startup fellowship program. And to others, he's the creator of a new Broadway musical.
Before all these ventures, Dmitry had to learn a new language and culture, and found himself in the gladiatorial environments of corporate America. It was only after two very different visits to New York's Lower East Side that his current path began to emerge.
In this wide-ranging conversation we get into the surprises that come when following the American dream, why confidence can create fragility, the commonalities between hiphop and startups, and lessons learned from freestyling with one Lin Manuel Miranda.
6:00 Lower East Side free styling with Two Touch & Lin Manuel
17:00 Detecting the difference between startups and hobbies
25:00 The gladiator game of business - and going the other way
30:00 Following the American dream, and observing culture
43:00 Hiphop and startup communities
48:00 Being fragile from the confidence
58:00 Structures and segments of creative work
66:00 Handling success
73:00 Writing Broadway musicals
#9 - Steve Bodow: writing and producing, working in sprints, and overcoming procrastination
Steve Bodow is a writer and producer, most well-known for being executive producer of The Daily Show.
Jerry Seinfeld says writing is perhaps the hardest thing in the world.
But sometimes it feels easy. The pen just flows. What’s Jerry on about?
And then all of a sudden it gets hard. The page stays blank.
When you’re writing under time constraints, it can get harder.
And working under them pretty much every day - probably harder still.
How about writing for a TV show where millions of people are tuning in 4 times every week to be both entertained and informed? Yep, that's not always gonna come easy.
As a writer and then executive producer of The Daily Show, Steve Bodow's done just that.
He was an integral part of a team that won 16 - yes, 16 - Emmy Awards before departing the show in 2019 with well over a thousand episodes under his belt. Since then he’s worked on TV shows like Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj, as well as high profile political campaigns, and a range of his own new projects.
In this conversation on writing, producing, and so much more we get into the joy of travel, juggling multiple projects, the allure of writing, finding a meditative state in improv, and what makes for a good host... yes I was taking notes.
04:00 The start of In Quarantine
08:00 Moving from behind the scenes to front and center
12:00 The flow of improv
17:00 The allure of writing
22:00 Shifting from writer to management
28:00 Recognizing the pace of selling
38:00 Working in sprints
43:00 Seeing the game slow down over time
48:00 Working to deadlines