Introducing The Roadcast: An Interview with Host, Jake HendrixWritten By Corinna Scott
Inspiration is key to creativity, and Jake Hendrix is a master at finding and elevating inspiration to its fullest potential. As the host for The Roadcast, a traveling visual podcast that covers everything under the sun of creativity, Jake has worked to craft quality conversations with industry leaders around the stories behind their dreams. We sat down with Jake to flip the script, and interview him on the inspiration behind The Roadcast.
How would you describe The Roadcast?
It’s a traveling visual podcast where we search out leaders in design, art and innovation. Those categories are broad on purpose. They align with the original vision for a design conference that we started in 2019. When the pandemic hit, we asked ourselves how we could continue this work of elevating design and art in our communities. That’s how we came up with The Roadcast, it’s an accessible way to have those conversations.
Post-pandemic (if that’s a thing?), why keep The Roadcast in this format?
To me it's like, the “story” isn't the “story” most often. You hear about people's success but you don’t get the story behind it. What’s the person's story behind the success? You see wild success or something interesting, and I think oftentimes hearing about the pathway to that success is way more valuable. You see a lot of quick hit advice about how to be successful, but oftentimes it's not true. The best way to learn is to talk to people that have found success, and learn how they arrived there. How do we scratch the surface, looking at what it really takes to create art, design and innovation? The Roadcast is specifically long form to create tension. Will it catch everyone's eye? Probably not, but it's a commitment to telling a fuller story.
When you say The Roadcast is long form, what do you mean?
Our episodes aren’t 6 seconds or 2 minutes long, they typically close to a full hour. I’ve been told it reminds people of 60 minutes. It’s an investment of time to watch and listen.
What makes The Roadcast different from other creative business podcasts?
It’s really a combination of visuals and conversation. We try to bring an element of visual storytelling along with a sit down interview, so it’s kind of technical to produce. I work really hard to keep it as a conversation. The interviews are very dynamic, they’re not scripted. I’m totally fine with going off topic to find an interesting piece. There's a genuine point of curiosity. We’re not mining guests for cool insights, we’re just genuinely bringing curiosity. Honestly, I don’t usually listen to podcasts because they’re often overly relaxed or overly produced. We try to strike that middle ground.
How did you come up with the idea for a traveling, video podcast?
It’s weird to think back on it. There wasn’t a ton of conversation. It was simply born out of a passion for meeting people and listening to their story. I’m good at putting people at ease to say how they feel and for me, I think oftentimes an answer someone is looking for is already in plain sight. The next step you need, you already know, you just haven’t identified it in yourself. So when someone else is listening, there is often a truth that the listener can highlight for you. I believe there's a whole bunch of wealth to be found if you listen enough.
I might have ADHD, I like to start a lot of new things. I love taking risks, and I have an over-inflated sense of what’s possible, but when I sit with someone I’m actually really good at listening. It’s an interesting mix, and Roadcast really combines those two things for me.
What about The Roadcast brings risk?
It’s about who we can get to, who we can talk to that’s fun. And we’re drawn to people that are taking or have taken big risks. Interesting things often involve taking risks.
Why do you choose an Airstream to operate in?
Because design wise, it’s iconic. It really represents design, art and innovation. It’s one of the most iconic vehicles so it creates a backdrop of intentionality with a natural draw. It’s a piece of art and beauty that people are curious about.
How do you find or choose your interview guests?
In a variety of different ways. It kind of mirrors the way we put together a design conference. We look at different conferences, and talk to different artists to get a sense of who is doing interesting things. We also think about who we might already be connected to.
As a kid, there was a game called bigger and better that starts with a penny and you try to trade it for something bigger or better, and you keep building from there. It’s kind of like that. After we interview a guest we ask them who inspires them and who we should talk to. And we pay attention to what’s going on in the world to see what’s going on.
What is your approach to being a good host?
I let everyone know that everything is editable initially. We can edit the shit out of it, so it’s okay, we can just talk. By saying that upfront it often removes the filter of worry. We always send people the cut at the end and ask if there’s anything they don't like. But we’ve never had to cut anything.
If you're naturally curious about the person. A lot of times people are asked the same question again and again, so if you start from an adjacent perspective, from something else in their life, that’s a good opening.
I listen to Tim Ferriss, and he has an interview with Cal Fussman who is called the greatest interviewer of all time. It's a 3 hour episode and it has some of the most helpful things I’ve heard. Fussman says the most underused prompts are, “Hey, could you just talk more about that” or “Keep riffing on that”, it’s just about the encouragement to go further. It’s not about contributing your voice, it's about prompting them to keep going. I like to have people elaborate because they'll often stop before they really get to the answer.
I also like the Rick Rubin philosophy, the greatest producer of all time, he’s worked with every major artist. He just gets people to where they feel comfortable and safe so that they can authentically be themselves and you can receive good honesty.
You have a way of making everyone feel like a friend, how do you accomplish that?
I don’t know. I think it's all of those things, listening, being personable. Active listening is way harder than what people think. As a pastor before this, I studied how to lead small groups, where you sit in a room to chat with people and lead them through a discussion. Exercising that for 20 years, trying to facilitate discussions, what I learned was, no one really listens to other people, they just want to talk. That got me started on researching active listening and therapy, and a line of practice called spiritual formation. One of the ideas in spiritual formation is active listening when someone listens to you and then reflects back to you what you said, it's basically what a lot of therapists do. All of those things add together for me. When you actively listen to someone they feel known, and actually it's a rare feeling to be listened to, so when they are, people open up. Often people like to tell other people what to do, and what they know and what they've done. Listening is conversation. I model conversation and active listening. And I like making friends.
How else has your past experience as a pastor shaped your approach to hosting The Roadcast?
I felt confined as a pastor in my curiosity. And so negatively, you’re stuck to this one thing that's interesting, and people really care about it, and it is really valuable, but I always sought inspiration from a broad variety of disciplines. I watched Aaron Draplin videos as a pastor, I was always drawn to art, music and design as a consumer and appreciator. I was hungry to explore more things. If you're in ministry, you do it because you love people, well if you're a decent human being that’s why. So, it helps being someone that genuinely likes people and is always relational. Relationality is key, I love connecting with people. I always do a synopsis for The intro to each episode of the Roadcast and having years of practice telling stories as a pastor really helps for crafting them.
What is one of your favorite moments from life on The Roadcast?
For sure the Sonos episode with Chris Kallai, the Senior Vice President of product design, when he opened up the anechoic chamber at midnight. It was an experience that felt special and unique. I was asking myself, “where are we, and how are we getting to do this?” And staying in the Hollywood Hills with the Slumberkins team. From each trip there’s always something super memorable.
Some of the funnest moments are when my boys are able to come on the trip, and the crew lets the boys play a part. Just holding a mic or unrolling the carpet. Getting them involved in the adventure is super cool. And getting to see the guests really appreciate seeing the boys, because kids create a sense of warmth and normalcy. We got tacos at 10:30pm in Bend, Oregon one night and my kids were so stoked just a part of the gang and making the team laugh. They were just goofing off and genuinely we were belly laughing at some of the things they were saying.
We always find water. We’ve tubed down the center of Montana, floated the Deschutes river, found a pool in the Hollywood Hills.
What’s next for The Roadcast?
Well, we went to Washington D.C. and parked on the National Mall for the Innovation in Affordable Housing Showcase. I’m really looking forward to those interviews coming out.
I would like to refine it as a storytelling vehicle so we can tell more stories faster. I want to work on that. We never have a lack of ideas, it's just refining the vehicle so that it's scalable in the amount of content that we’re delivering. That sounds boring, but yeah.