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The Storytelling Lab - Ep48: The Art of the Interview with Rob Simmelkjaer

This week is all about perfecting the art of the interview with Rob Simmelkjaer, journalist and CEO & Co-Founder of Persona. Everyone has a story to tell, but it can be difficult to know how to share your story or how to extract stories from others. Rob has created the solution: Persona App makes interviewing easy for anyone. Listen in to hear Rob's top interviewing tips and get a sneak peek into how you can use the Persona App to make connections and share stories.




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A few months ago, my friend Ben Sturner was reading my weekly column at Chapelboro and sent me a direct message to compliment my storytelling.


“Need to connect u to Rob Simmelkjaer and Persona.”

I didn’t know what Persona was and definitely had no idea what a Simmelkjaer was.


But this wasn’t abnormal for Ben. He literally makes his living connecting people.


So I looked up Persona and found out that it's a new app that helps people interview other people.


Rob, as a former journalist and television executive at places like ESPN and NBC Sports, knew all too well that the power of sharing stories through interviews was palpable.


I was immediately intrigued and curious to learn more.


Within a few minutes, Ben sent Rob and I a group text to introduce us. Neither of us knew each other, or where any connection might go, but we both trusted Ben’s judgement.


Rob and I hopped on a call and hit it off instantly.


He had launched his new app, Persona, after finding a picture he hadn't seen before, of his grandfather dressed up and looking dapper as a young man in Harlem. Rob had so many questions he wished he could ask, but he never had the chance.


Rob understood that, like himself, many of us might like the opportunity to ask our friends and family questions before it's too late.


I told him the story of when I tried to interview my great uncle about growing up on the Outer Banks of North Carolina in the early 1900s (where he used to play baseball is part of the Atlantic Ocean now). Unfortunately, at 97 years old, it was too hard to get great answers from him.


I wish I’d done the interview three years earlier.


I wish I’d had something like Persona.


Rob is clearly passionate about this project; it is personal to him. But he also understands that there is a real need for these conversations right now.


He understands that people connect by sharing their stories. And the best way to mine for those stories is through an interview.


“If you’re gonna open your mouth, the best thing you can do is ask a question.”

Such a big part of storytelling is listening, not talking. This is where our empathy comes. It's what allows us to understand others, how to connect with them, and what stories we can share to help them.


It’s a lesson that’s taken me a long time to learn.


Everyone has a story to tell, but it can be difficult to know how to share your story or how to extract stories from others. Rob has created the solution.


If you understand the value of sharing people’s stories and want to get better at finding and telling them by asking the right questions, this episode will teach you the art of the interview!





Some highlights from our conversation:


  • A Covid 19 update: How we are adapting

  • Rob’s App Persona Interviews: The Place for Conversations

  • Using new tools out of necessity, keeping them because of efficiency

  • Changes in human behavior

  • Rob’s background at ESPN

  • What Rob learned from years of conducting on air interviews

  • The art of the interview

  • Top tips to make the best of any interview

  • Why you need to prepare before an interview

  • The best questions are always WHY questions. They force your interviewee to dig into their own motivations

  • Don’t give people yes or no questions

  • You don’t need to fill uncomfortable silence: the silence is good!

  • Why Rob decided to make the app

  • Why you should take the chance to spontaneously pick the brains of the people around you & the people you love

  • Possible integrations for the app

  • Hopes for the future of the app: the possibility of creating a library of interviews

  • Persona Interviews: like a video version of Quora

  • The innate human desire to ask questions

  • Leading your interviews with curiosity

  • Why social media is so statement driven right now




As always, I hope you enjoy the episode!


Peace and Love,

Rain



Follow Rob on Twitter @RobSimmelkjaer

Learn more about Persona App at personatalks.com


For more storytelling tips and tricks,

Follow us on Instagram @sixsecondstories

Visit our website sixsecondstories.com


Hosted by Rain Bennett (@rainbennett | Twitter) (rainbennett.com)


#podcast #thestorytellinglab #storytelling #valuesfirst


MORE related content:

  • Learn more about the Persona App at personatalks.com

  • Learn more about Rob's background in journalism here

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© 2019 B. Rain Bennett