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Unthinkable: Trust Your Intuition with Jay Acunzo
27th August 2019 • iCreateDaily Podcast • iCreateDaily Podcast
00:00:00 00:56:18

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Our guest is Jay Acunzo, an award-winning podcaster, energetic keynote speaker, captivating storyteller and a guy bothered by conventional thinking.

We LOVE this already!

Jay is host of the amazing, Unthinkable Podcast, where he weaves intriguing—better-than-NPR—stories that inspire imagination and motivation to do more… to think more and to unleash your creativity into work that matters.

Jay’s MISSION is to help you hone and trust your intuition to do more exceptional work.

Devani and I have been listening to Jay’s podcast for over a year. We also enjoy his YouTube channel of presentations and keynote speeches.

Jay is one of our favorite inspiring millennials. So much self-awareness and wisdom, freely shared through his podcast and emails.

We could’ve spent all day with Jay. He’s sharp, personable, brilliant and self-aware and definitely an influencer to follow.

“I believe in creativity.
I reject shortcut culture.
I defend craft-driven creators.
I make things to help makers.”
~Jay Acunzo, Unthinkable Media


Links & Resources Mentioned:


Full Episode Transcription:

[00:00:01] LeAura: This is the I create daily podcast. I’m LeAura.

[00:00:07] And I’m Devani and we’re here with Jay Acunzo. Welcome Jay.

[00:00:11] Jay: Thanks for having me guys. I’m excited to chat.

[00:00:14] LeAura: We are. We have a pre intro pre podcast intro already so we’re not going to get into introducing ourselves but we’re going to introduce this amazing guest. So Jay Acunzo is an award winning podcaster, energetic keynote speaker, and a guy bothered by conventional thinking. Host of an amazing, better than NPR podcast my opinion. Unthinkable. Jay’s mission is to help you trust your intuition so you can realize the full potential work your full potential more quickly. So to start we have with I create daily a little bit of mantra invocation. We start. We sustain and we succeed. And so for the podcast we’re going to start with a little brief another little brief excerpt on you and then ask you questions.

[00:01:01] Jay: Sure.

[00:01:02] LeAura: So on your website sorry for marketing dot com. Jay says I believe in creativity. I reject shortcut culture ideas and craft driven creators and I make things to help makers. So this is amazing. As I said to you right before we started recording we could talk with you all day and into your podcast. We feel like we’ve already had so many conversations I’m sure you get that. But you speak to our heart and you inspire our souls is very much the work that we’re doing. I mean look Unthinkable, we’re having this podcast out in the woods right. This is like this is not normal but this is who we are and what we do. So tell us more about what you do and how you got started.

[00:01:46] Jay: Yeah. Thank you so much. There’s my favorite comedians is named Mike Birbiglia and he has this quote about there’s a lot of people that are good. There’s a lot of people that are great but very few people basically speak to your soul when they perform. And so that complement meant the world to me. So thank you. So right now I do three different things. I travel the country and a little bit the world and I speak so I’m a professional keynote speaker. That’s the bulk of my business. And behind that I have this podcast that you mentioned unthinkable where it’s kind of like this public lab where we lob out ideas and go investigating and largely through narrative story and you know it’s evolved over the years. But right now what we built it as what we promote it as is stories about conventional thinking in our work and the people who dare to question it. And so often people who do work that we deem crazy whether that’s crazy good. And I wish I could do that or insane and that’ll never work. Usually they know something we don’t about their own context. And so when you talk to these people and tell their stories it’s not they took some giant leap. It’s not that they had some giant ideal or montra or all these things that we hear about in our culture today and they certainly didn’t rely on some list article from an expert. They just knew their context better than you because it’s their context. And so you hear them talk about their story like it’s smart or logical or certainly meaningful.

[00:03:08] And so we call it unthinkable not because what they did was actually unthinkable but that’s the perception from the outside. And the reason I’m doing this is because I want to tell more meaningful stories about work. And that’s kind of my whole thing. I like to make people feel with the work I create and the work I create centers on the working worlds coming out of start ups and you know B2B companies mostly. And so I mentioned there’s a third thing I do which is I help other organizations try to spark movements bigger than themselves in the B2B space primarily through the creation of original shows about work. And so those That’s the kind of three I guess legs of the stool of my career right now. But my background has been writing and marketing and working for tech companies even a venture capital firm and I’ve just kind of moved around a lot and it always came back of this one idea of like drawing a lot of meaning from the work that we do and I just don’t think that that work is covered by the media or even brands that talk about work quite the same way that we all like to talk about it.

[00:04:04] And so I wanted to change that.

[00:04:07] LeAura: yeah, that makes sense and I’m going to go off script a little bit here so Dave and I do this all the time we have our questions just so that guests can have a sense of what we might ask. And yet we get into conversation it’s like we also want to follow that. And sure I want to go a little deeper into the. Story. So that’s like.

[00:04:24] How you kind of got to be what you’re doing what you’re doing. But how do you begin. What was the precipitating factor factors that began to inculcate in you this concept and intuition and essentially you like unconventional and the confidence to pursue that because that’s the other missing thing like you sad about you know people you know like they got there but they also have to have that confidence right.

[00:04:50] Jay: Right. Right. I feel like it’s always an amalgam of everything you experience that leads you to that moment right. So it’s hard to pinpoint one thing but I’ll try to put a couple of dots on the map if I can look backwards at it. So I think one of those things was I had a job at Google. Those My first job out of college and I liked everything about the job the brand that people actually met my wife at this job so I have a great return on investment from my first job ever. And I liked everything around the job itself. But when it was time to put my head down and do the job I hated it and I felt kind of guilty about that because here I am at this company especially in ’08 ’09 and beyond where startups weren’t as exciting and tech companies weren’t as ubiquitous. I was at Mecca. I should have been so grateful I should have been so happy. And it was all because I think I think we’re sold this kind of like lie about career which is a great career is built on one foundation. The most important thing and that is expertise and expertise comes with prescription and all set of instructions and a career ladder. And we always get these feelings especially as creators. That something’s not sitting right. It’s like we can do better than that. I can do better than that. I want more from my work than that.

[00:06:00] And we’re never told like how to view our work or how to view the pursuit of great work differently than just get better and better at the craft. And today. That like how to stuff is so commodified. It’s everywhere like you can watch a show like this or listen to a show like this in a world where you know all this information exists. Expertises Now table stakes knowing how to do something. Table stakes. So I think rather than building a career on expertise you have to build a career on self awareness which nobody has taught us how to do. Nobody has advised us that that’s actually the most important thing and everything else including the expertise you want to acquire follow suit from that. So the foundation isn’t how to. The foundation is like why or why me or why are my customers you know insight about yourself and others that you’re trying to serve. So Google I had no insight about myself or others I was trying to serve yet. And so I was just riving. I was just super unhappy and I quit and I joined a bunch of startups and I started to feel better and I started to get a lot more self-awareness because I was allowed to experiment and try and fail more which let me get more data points into my brain that said OK I’m I’m about this I’m not about that. And then it just kind of narrowly got into one more direction that looks like the one I described because I was trying so much different stuff and learning about myself learning about the audience that I wanted to serve.

[00:07:17] So so if there’s one moment to me that paints a picture of that it was my decision to quit Google because that was my moment to say this is the prescription This is what I’m supposed to be doing to do good work and have a great career. And I’m realizing now it’s not for me. I don’t know what it is for me but I’m going to try to figure it out. That’s the thing that started me on this journey of like self-awareness and a shorthand for all of this stuff to me is intuition is intuition is really I think just knowledge from within.

[00:07:44] We’re asking the right questions to pull out that knowledge from within and that is your contacts about you and your audience.

[00:07:50] Devani: Um, you say on your Web site but I think this ties in really well to the point you’re making about I just following that gut feeling. This isn’t necessarily what I want to do. Even though everyone says you work at Google you work at one of the best companies ever. Why do you like the happiest person alive. But you talk about you on your site you said it’s your aspiration to create the world’s most powerful business stories. Yeah. And I know on your unthinkable podcast you definitely find some great stories we listen to the Grato the ear company’s story had some company story the other week and it was amazing. And can you elaborate on on what you mean by that as well like just what you’re doing with that beyond just the podcasts.

[00:08:37] Jay: So yeah I mean it very simply boils down to this like my whole thing. I mentioned briefly was I want to make them feel. So whether you’re consuming my work in the form of a podcast a written article or a speech I want to make someone else feel and the whole gamut of feeling from laughing and just enjoying yourself, to kind of introspection or crying like that you know like not crying per se but feeling the emotions associated with tears or you’re kind of like really moved because like that to me. Is when you get to realize your full potential like as a person like you’ve you’ve you’ve kind of like. Been told again that this working world is about like expertise in you know a stock ticker at the bottom of your screen and you know like how to tips and tricks articles and those are really hollow things. And a lot of us draw significant meaning from our work. And so why can’t there be the daily show of tech. Why can’t there be a sports center of marketing or the this American Life of sales or on and on and on whatever you do. I feel like it needs to be portrayed it deserves to be portrayed in a way that matches how you actually experience it. So this is kind of like outside of unthinkable outside of my speeches. This is just like my personal kind of driver. It’s like I really want to be someone who contributes to people doing their best work. And I think part of that is they see themselves reflected in the media they create or rather consume about work.

[00:10:01] And so if I can create some of that media and I can inspire some people to be like I’m going to unleash my full self I get it now it’s about me and my own self-awareness not about some expert guru great right. But if I totally fail in serving others in that way and I hope I don’t at least I get to create some really cool stuff.

[00:10:19] Devani: You know I can’t see you failing at doing that.

[00:10:24] Jay: Well it’s it’s early. Thank you.

[00:10:25] Devani: You do a good job of highlighting the stories and I think something that’s also important as you said and you said I hope people get to create the media they want to see. And I think that’s really important right now in our community. We have several people who are several artists who talk about how you know there’s this bombardment of media that they don’t necessarily want to hear and they don’t and it impacts their own art because it’s like how do I process all this information in the world. I can’t do anything with. And so creating media that you want to see out there and creating And you also said helping people feel. And I think that’s what creatives do. Whether you’re an entrepreneurial creative or an artist creative or a mix of all of that it’s helping people feel up full range of emotion that’s really important I think that’s why all of us get into doing this because we do the job route and that’s fun and that’s cool and that’s great experience and then or like there’s something more and you have to scratch that itch of something more.

[00:11:29] Jay: And by the way if you are working for a larger organization and love it or if you just want a job that pays the bills so you can go home at five and draw meaning. You know outside of work great as long as you know that about yourself if that’s what you’re about and you get it. Awesome. I would look back at people at Google that stayed longer than I did and maybe even some that are still there and I’m like how could you be doing that. Like I felt so crushed at that job that I wanted to prescribe that others leave or. Join a startup. And I did it first and then I realized you know what. Hold on a sec. This whole life is just about this this continual journey to become more and more self-aware. And and as I became more self-aware and obviously we’re all continuing that. But but in the moments I’ve had since leaving Google I’m able to look back now and say OK as long as you’re happy they’re great. And so I’m not trying to get on a stage or in front of a microphone to be prescriptive about how you can find happiness. I’m trying to encourage people to pursue that in whatever context you have whatever that means to you. Right I can hand you the seven tips and tricks of the one simple secret. I can’t teach you to be rich and all that other stuff. I happen to play on the same channels using the same mediums as people who profess to have secrets. I have no secrets. What I want to do is have you leave with a list of questions like the right questions to ask of yourself and your situation and then you will pull out your own unique answers understand your context better. And I think do more exceptional work right.

[00:12:52] Devani: Yeah. Have you found the more that you. Dove into your own self-awareness you almost naturally become more aware about others. I’ve always wondered just because for me it seems like the more self-aware I am the less worried I am about that person doesn’t seem happy. So I should go tell them do this thing and launch into this thing. But have you ever noticed like the more into your own internal awareness you get the less you really like.

[00:13:23] You just kind of release that need of like I have to tell everybody.

[00:13:30] Jay: It’s I mean it’s so tempting to do that right because if you’ve found a way that work you want to feel good about that way and sort of bragging to others but be and hopefully more importantly you want it to feel that sense of belonging like humans are wired to want to be in the middle of the group because we’re safest. Right. And so you want others to do it your way so you feel like you’re part of something. But yeah I think to answer your question I have stopped trying to be prescriptive. But it is hard. It’s not like I’m just like oh I don’t feel any urge to tell you a good example as people ask me how to podcast. And I used to try to prescribe but there’s a million ways to do a podcast and do it well. And so now what I do is I try to start asking them questions because if I can learn a little bit more about their context instead of being like an expert who leads them. Maybe I can be a mentor who just kind of points out possibilities. It’s like hey I would never take this path and I would never prescribe it because that’s not me. But it seems like given X Y and Z that you just told me that I just learned you might actually want to go down that road. Right it’s sort of like a lesson from my show. So yeah in general don’t do that but you’re not operating in a generality.

[00:14:34] We’re all operating in a specific context or in general that’s crazy until you understand something about their reality instead of yours. So but it’s really hard. You know we all do things we want and the things we do to matter and therefore we want the things the way we’re doing things to be the right way. And you know I I kid with some people in the startup world that I come from that if there was one documentary we should all create being from the startup world. I think we should call that documentary Infinite Roads. Right. I think that’s true of any work like there’s not one way to do something. So who are you to say you have to do it this way. And we live in this culture unfortunately that there’s a lot of how-to’s was a lot of you should’s and there’s a lot of you have to’s and the only thing you have to do I think is think for yourself.

[00:15:19] LeAura: Yeah the only thing you have to do is think for yourself.

[00:15:25] Yeah for sure for sure. I want to go back to Google for just a minute because I’m short about being miserable there. And it seems like maybe there you were working on your what but not your why....