Podcasting has taken the world by storm! Public podcasting, that is. Private podcasting is a newer and lesser known format but is equally powerful in its ability to inspire, educate and connect.
In short, podcasts are “shows” that you can subscribe to on a personal device, such as your smart phone or computer. Podcast shows, much like TV shows, have episodes and are themed. Podcast shows can be about anything –– from financial investments to vegan baking, self-development to unsolved murder mysteries. Private podcasts can take on different topics that are of particular interest to a family, organization or business.
This short blog post explains the difference between public and private podcasting, the unique value of private podcasts and describes the kinds of companies, organisations and families that might benefit from creating or use private podcasts.
Difference Between Public and Private Podcasting
Public podcasts are usually free for the listener. You simply click a subscribe button and listen to episodes whenever you like. Similar to commercial and public television, a public podcast show is paid for by the advertisers or show sponsors. In some cases, the creators sell their services either explicitly or implicitly and make back the “investment” of creating their show when listeners buy their product or service that they learn about in they podcast. But, what about private podcasting?
Private podcasting, on the other hand, is designed for internal communications for a specific audience, and only authorized users can listen to the content. The distribution is the main difference. Companies, organisations and even private families can commission the production of a private podcast to communicate with their employees, select community, or family members.
The Unique Value of Private Podcasting
StoryKeep, a niche media company for families and enterprises, produces private podcasts for families. We work with families that want to stay connected across multiple generations. StoryKeep collaborates with families to create shows that highlight a family’s stories, history, and educational topics through the voices of the family members themselves. StoryKeep also works with companies and enterprises to create podcasts as tools for on-board employees, providing tutorials and inspiring their staff with episodes about the company’s vision or future goals. Feel free to be in touch to learn more. Private podcasting can be a powerful communication tool for families and businesses that want to disseminate information, but more importantly, stay connected for a greater purpose.
Podcasting is practical. People can listen in their own time and at their own pace. Unlike video that requires a person to sit and watch or written documents like newsletters that require a person to sit and read, podcasting is a “moveable feast” of stories and ideas. People can listen while they commute, cook or exercise.
Does Your Family / Company Need a Private Podcast?
If your family owns or runs a business or enterprise together, your collective identity, values and purpose are tied up together. Being on “the same page” is a vital part of your continued success and growth. Private podcasting is ideal for medium to large, multi-generational families that have a vested interest in keeping connected.
Families with 20 or more adult members, especially those families with branches that live in different places around the country or globe, can find tremendous value in private podcasting. Your family’s podcast “shows” can be on topics that effect or interest nearly everyone or they can be specifically designed for one generation (i.e. “the kids”). Here are some show examples:
— Grandparents or parents telling their life stories, told in episodes
— Grandchildren interviewing older family members about the family history
— Conversations between siblings about the family business history
— Your family’s vision, mission and values told through different family members’ perspectives
— Educational topics like budgeting, philanthropy, choosing a career, etc
Your common history and heritage is one place to start, but perhaps you’ve outlined your family’s values in a charter or constitution. Honouring your stories and important people in the family allows new members to step up and take their place.
If your family has archival audio recordings of people talking, singing, presenting or playing music, these can be incorporated into your family’s private podcast.
In essence, you are creating a dynamic, ever-growing archive that allows everyone to engage, learn and value their shared identity.
Business and Enterprise Podcasting
Companies and businesses can use private podcasting to communicate with their staff and leadership. Your “shows” can be on topics that effect or interest nearly everyone or they can be specifically designed for one group (i.e. “the tech division”). Here are some podcast show examples:
— Your company history told by the founders themselves
— Staff interviewing leadership on topics they find valuable
— Divisions or team reporting on their recent developments for the rest of the company
— Vision, mission and values told through different stories and/or perspectives
— Tutorial topics for on-boarding, advanced education or routine tasks
Communicating with your family is critical, but it’s not always easy. Getting people’s attention and sharing a message that resonates with them requires some forethought. Here at StoryKeep, we help families share their stories, histories and educational information to strengthen their connections with each other across generations and geography.
StoryKeep produces private podcasts for families, businesses and enterprises. If you would like to gain a solid understanding for how the emerging platform of private podcasting (both audio & video) can help families and enterprises succeed, we invite you to attend one of our upcoming webinars. Links for registration are just below.
This webinar will acquaint you with a new tool for:
— Documenting and sharing diverse family narratives
— Educating Rising Gen, married-ins and others
— Addressing critical, sometimes awkward conversations
— Connecting family across generations + geography
— Top 3 themes that strengthen cohesion and learning
— Security: What makes a podcast truly secure, not just private?
— Case Studies of real-life family-owned podcasts
— Recording technology
Most of us don’t emotionally connect with data. Statistics are interesting, but they don’t spur us into action. When you activate human empathy, which storytelling naturally does, people are neurologically apt to care and to give. In short, every charitable cause needs strong storytelling. Stories touch us. Stories jolt us into action.
This year, StoryKeep is using the power of story in a new way.
In 2020, StoryKeep established a nonprofit media arm, The Totem Project. Alongside our family history work, we are translating charitable goals into powerful, personal stories for the common good. Our cornerstone initiative is a podcast called Totem. Every week, Totem shares one person’s story of meaningful change: the first wheelchair-bound, accredited nurse in New York City tells the story of her physical transformation and its relationship to her work. A formerly incarcerated man talks about how Shakespearean acting slowly sculpted him into a role model for young men and families.
If you support a charity or cause that needs its story told, be in touch. We collaborate with charities and benefactors to find special stories that exhibit their impact. We don’t make gala videos or “about” videos for a website homepage. These are probing stories that stop people in their tracks. These are beautifully-crafted, tightly edited works that move people, dare we say, change people.
If you have a favorite charity or cause with an amazing human story to tell, be in touch.
Private Podcasting for Families
For years, businesses have used private podcasts as a powerful tool for internal communications. Now, StoryKeep is helping families unlock the power of private podcasting to share their personal stories, knowledge and histories.
– Your grandmother’s life story divided into bite-size podcast episodes that live in your smartphone.
– Your family business uses its private podcast to disseminates on-boarding information for employees and new family members.
– Your family council creates a podcast that includes voices from all four generations. Topics covered? Memorable vacations, philanthropy, living a life of purpose and more.
But, what makes it private? Private podcasts are only accessible by direct invitation. So, only the individuals who receive an invitation can subscribe and listen. Unlike public podcasts, private podcasts are designed for a very select group of listeners.
Podcasting Strengthens Family Councils
In order for a council to effectively lead and govern a family enterprise, members must communicate and understand perspectives, values and ideas brought by other members. Podcasting is an engaging and effective tool for documenting and disseminating stories, history and knowledge across generations, as well as distance. Private podcasts can serve a variety of functions depending on a family’s goals: as an archive, a communication hub, a space for learning, and more.
You can listen to a podcast while you do other activities (i.g. cooking). Podcasts fit into daily life where written and visual formats require singular attention. Unlike in-person and even web-based meetings, podcasts are recorded, easily retrievable and often theme-based. They live securely on a person’s smartphone or desktop. You are “pinged” when new content is available. Imagine receiving notifications like these…
I spend much of my professional time working out of my right brain – aka the artistic side of our craniums. When I walk into wealth advisory forums, I immediately notice something: I stick out like a sore thumb. Most of the advisors deal in the realm of numbers, investments, strategy, and business. All good stuff and all fairly foreign to me. At first, I wondered if I should I read up on annuities. After dozens of conversations with family members and advisors, I have surmised that it is best that I leave annuities to the experts and instead provide hard-hitting advice garnered from the world of filmmaking.
My profession provides me with the opportunity to creatively collaborate with some of the most thoughtful and financially successful families in the world. As a legacy filmmaker floating in a sea of tax attorneys, wealth consultants, and risk strategists, I’ve learned that the techniques I use in my work can be applied to a whole host of settings.This is my attempt to translate some right-brain know-how on the art of multi-generational connection for application in a left-brain playing field.
Tip #1: Forget the Questions and Listen
When I first begin working with a family on a film project, someone invariably asks me about my interview questions. How do you come up with your questions? Could you send them to me? In your role, whatever it may be, you probably feel it’s pretty smart to arrive at meetings prepared. You likely bring specific questions to guide a conversation. I’m here to urge you to do just the opposite. Come with a blank mind. Lose your list of questions.
The point of a conversation is to share ideas. Through sharing ideas, we open the door to connection. Connection builds trust and can be revealing – offering the opportunity for progress of thought. If you come to a conversation with strong opinions and a rigid list of questions, you’ve cut things off at the pass. Instead: listen. As much as you can bear it, come to family meetings, especially ones that include multiple generations of your family, with a beginner’s mind. Bring your full, undivided attention to the doorstep of others in the room. This is a new approach that will, no doubt, catch everyone off guard. At least two things will happen when you do this:
1. Critical information may come to the fore that your questions would never have elicited.
2. The person you are listening to will feel respected.
If you are the “wealth builder,” you might be looking down the barrel of succession planning. You need at least one or two of your rising gen to step up to the plate. If you are an advisor facilitating a meeting around a succession plan, you need a clear and powerful consensus to build that strategy. All of this requires trust and connection. There will be plenty of time for your lists of ideas. Your invaluable experience will be sought out. But first, you must be present and be quiet. See what reveals itself. Nothing could be more important than hearing the deepest underpinnings of familial concerns before making a business move.
I won’t lie to you, the whole “waiting quietly” business can be awkward at times. And furthermore, it can feel like you aren’t doing much. That’s hard for a Type A person. But take a deep breath and give it a go. In my work of documenting family stories, I frequently depend on this technique to extract the best material from whomever I am recording.
If you have established trust with your kids, take out your “be quiet / open mind” tool. And, if you don’t have much trust established with your kids, I would urge you to sharpen that tool like your legacy depends on it.
Tip #2: Have Fun
Mitzi Perdue approached me during a conference focused on family enterprise and we eventually built a substantial connection around one important question: “What makes a family stick together?” Mitzi is the widow of the late Frank Perdue (the poultry magnate) and the daughter of Ernest Henderson, co-founder of the Sheraton Hotel Chain. Mitzi has a deep understanding of how to create and sustain a successful family business. How I interpret it, Mitzi recognizes the power of facilitating parallel play.
“Family vacations are time apart from day-to-day business and normal family affairs. It’s a special time,” Mitzi said during a session I attended where she spoke on the topic of How To Make Your Family Business Last. When we are enmeshed with our loved ones in financial affairs and spend substantial time in serious discussions that make us want to tear our hair out, we need opportunities to connect over fun experiences. The younger people in your family need to be integrated and appreciated for their tremendous potential. For some reason, it can be difficult to see that in a boardroom.
When I first meet with a family, they ask me, How long do book projects usually take? and What’s a reasonable timeline to expect for this film? Great questions. I have answers to these questions. The more important issue, however, is one that many people miss. The time spent collaborating on a family project is parallel play, the same vacation concept Mitzi campaigns for in her books. If family members enjoy being around one another, if they can bear to be in the same room with each other, they are better set up to attack the nitty-gritty details of shared assets, governance, and tax options. So, maybe a film about the family’s history or a multi-generational family vacation to the Dolomites seems like a luxury, but if it gets your Paul talking to your Paulette, we’ve solved a big problem, haven’t we?
This concept of parallel play – where people vacation/creatively collaborate adjacent to one another – is a human skill mastered as early as our first birthday. We humans inherently know how to do parallel play. What’s missing is the invite. I’ve seen 30-year-olds to 90-year-olds work on family legacy projects with me and find new interest in one another and their shared identities.
If you want your kids to care about financial education or what it means to take over the reigns, try my advice: intentionally start with fun experiences that connect you.
Tip #3: Have a Great Opening Sequence
In creating a book or a film about a person’s life story or a broad family history, it is critical to invest considerable thought into the book’s cover or a film’s opening sequence. The first pages of a book or first 15 seconds of a film should communicate to the audience this is going to be interesting. The opening sequence should intrigue the audience. It should create a question that must be answered.
Engaging children is not so different. You likely imbue fun into your day-to-day interactions with your family, but many of us drop the ball when we move into the affairs of a family office. It becomes all business. “We must accomplish x, y, z.” Approaching the younger generation with this sober tone might suit the central work at hand, but it is a terrible opening sequence.
When working with families, I am charged with creating a compelling narrative that delivers a meaty message. The creative problem is how to draw the audience to that message. Mystery, color, emotion, humor. These are openers than get my viewers to the first act. Invest considerable time reflecting on an opening sequence that makes your loved ones wonder: what’s the bigger story here? There are consultants aplenty who can teach your kids about investments. Your job is to set things up like the master film director that you are.
The importance of connecting with your children, whether they are ten years old or sixty years old, never diminishes. The investment you make in them comes back ten fold in the family office setting and in innumerable, intangible ways in your life with them. Start with a beginner’s mind. Leave your old opinions at the door. Create opportunities for connection. Send out the invites. Concern yourself with how to craft a great opener to the story of their success.
This article was originally published in FOXConnects. You can download the article here: Advice From A Filmmaker.
It turns out that the stories we tell ourselves are what bind us together. Stories make us stronger and more resilient. – Mitzi Perdue
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Mitzi Perdue to discuss StoryKeep’s role in the art of leaving a family legacy. It’s a topic on which Mitzi often writes and speaks. The widow of the late Frank Perdue and the daughter of Ernest Henderson, co-founder of the Sheraton Hotel Chain, Mitzi has a deep understanding of how to create and sustain a successful family business. Or in her case, two.
For Mitzi, at the heart of a business like Sheraton Hotels or Perdue Farms is embedding the family’s values into the corporate culture. But how does a family communicate their values? In her book, How To Strengthen Your Family Legacy With Newsletters, Mitzi writes, “Family stories tell us who we are and how we should act. Our family stories are the bedrock of the family culture. But how do you tell the stories that bind a family together if there are several generations and they live far apart?”
It was this question that led Mitzi and Frank to create a Family Newsletter, where Frank would share his views on a variety of topics. Over time, this newsletter evolved to include the stories of many Perdue family members. Mitzi’s focus on preserving her family’s legacy is a tradition in itself. In 1890, the Henderson family endowed an annual family dinner, ensuring that the generations come together each year.
In a recent blog post, Mitzi writes about our conversation and the importance of recording lasting memories. Mitzi believes that the stories of a family are its greatest heirloom. At StoryKeep, we couldn’t agree more and we admire how Mitzi takes every opportunity to document the stories that make up her family’s remarkable legacy.
If you could ask your mother anything, what would it be?
Cari Shane recently took the opportunity to record her mother’s stories in her own voice – using just her iPhone. In preparation for the audio recording and subsequent article for Covey Club titled, “Saving My Mother’s Voice” she called the StoryKeep office and asked me for a consultation. Cari wanted my advice, not just on the technicality of recording, but also the emotional aspect.
Addressing technicalities is pretty easy. Near the end of her article, you’ll find my some of my top tips for readers who want to capture an oral history of those most important to them. Cari goes into great detail for readers who are interested in knowing how to create similar “audio scrapbooks” using just their mobile phones.
Addressing the emotional complexities of such recording isn’t as cut and dry. My biggest suggestion? Go into it with a good heart and real curiosity and the other person will forget after about five minutes that their life is being recorded.
It was fascinating to hear some of the questions Cari was planning on asking her mom. Some of my favorites included, “What was it like working at your parent’s chicken store in Harlem?” and “How old were you when you went on your first date?”
Cari explained that for years she had put off this project, unsure of the exact reason for her procrastination. But as she listened to the memories she collected using just her iPhone, (seated at the kitchen table in the house where she grew up) she learned new things. She heard details in the audio recording she had missed in those stories she thought she knew by heart. Her mother’s history was best told by the woman who lived it. And Cari has preserved this through recording.
What started with Cari’s simple desire to capture her mother’s voice, became exactly what we at StoryKeep hope to bring to the people we serve: a greater, deeper understanding of their stories and the power of sharing them.
We don’t usually think of “secrets” as bringing families together. But in my experience at StoryKeep, the hardest stuff to talk about is often the most important to share. It comes down to context and trust. I’m so excited to share an article I recently published in Legacy Arts magazine on this very subject:
I never expected to become a confessor. When I founded StoryKeep in 2010, I was focused on the craft of storytelling itself—on pacing, narrative arcs, and the like. After all, my dream was to make documentary films and legacy books for families that were studio-quality. But having worked with over 80 families, I’ve come to appreciate that my work goes beyond mere documentation. It’s about turning secrets into stories that strengthen family bonds and promote healing.
At first, I was struck by how many storytellers of all stripes volunteered secrets to me. Often the secrets come out in preliminary, off-the-record conversations. “I’ve never told anyone this …” a client will say, or, “Only very, very few people know this … .” Stories of divorces, family drama, wartime scars, private thoughts and feelings— every family has them, and it’s my job to bear witness and keep confidentiality.
It’s also my obligation to avoid topics that clients want to keep out of their projects. But the thing is—and this truly surprised me at first—storytellers often end up bringing these exact subjects up “on the record.” They pause and take a deep breath; I can feel them deciding whether they can trust me. And then they exhale, and the previously un-sharable comes out, often with a smile of relief. In that moment of opening, transformation happens. A new possibility is made available. Like all of us, they want to be heard, to unburden themselves, and discuss the most important moments and challenges in their life.
I have seen a patriarch share a secret on the record, one he specifically planned not to reveal, only to open the door for his children to finally share their true feelings. This hidden-away piece of their family identity was peeled back like the rind of an orange. In the breaking of skin, zest and fragrant oil hit the senses and woke everyone to a beauty within. This former secret became the most valuable part of their film. The dry disconnection that had existed alchemized through discussion into sweetness. Seeing this transformation occur on screen could not be more compelling.
Secrets don’t come out by accident. I’ve learned that when a storyteller shares something highly personal on camera, what they really want is to incorporate that secret into their family’s identity. The art of family stories, as I call it, involves turning those secrets into legacy projects – life-affirming narratives that bind family members together in love, forgiveness, and understanding.
I’ve come to see that my work must go far beyond mere documentation. StoryKeep has to create art that captures the heart and mind, art that’s personal and powerful enough to carry stories across generations. The revelation of secrets is certainly not the only way to compel viewers or readers to pay attention, but when the time and place is right, the art of family secrets can bind people in a love that’s unbreakable.
Visit StoryKeep.com to learn more about our books and films.
Ann Birks is a Montreal style icon. She’s literally one of the most colorful people you’ll ever meet (just ask Canada’s top newspaper!). And yet, when we first discussed doing a film about her life as a collector and patron of the arts, her response was, “I’m not sure there’s a story here.”
In this regard, Ann is like a lot of StoryKeep clients. Most have the glimmer of an idea but aren’t sure how their film will take shape or whether it will be worth sharing. Good news—turning “glimmers” into beautiful, compelling films is what we do. If you can think of somebody you’d love to capture on film, you have more than enough to get the ball rolling.
Click here to learn more about what’s possible.
Once Ann realized that, she was able to relax and enjoy the process of making “A Sun for the Flowers.” Click the video up top to watch a 3-minute trailer of the feature-length film.
Ann’s film is unlike anything we’ve ever done before, and we couldn’t be more proud of it. Whereas many StoryKeep films focus on a family elder’s life story, “A Sun for the Flowers” is the story of a woman in her prime. We explore how Ann became the colorful collector she is today and meet the artisans that have enriched her life and wardrobe.
And to think that Ann’s film all began with the question, ‘What’s the story?’! So as we roll into the holiday season, think about the colorful people in your life. They’re worth documenting. And there’s a story there—trust us on that one!
Last weekend, my husband and I went to prison—that is to say, we took a walking tour of Eastern State Penitentiary in downtown Philadelphia.
Once home to mobster Al Capone and other notorious criminals, Eastern State is now a museum containing defunct barbershops, inmate escape tunnels, stories of prison births, art installations, and more. In the 1970s, a visionary group of Philadelphians invested time and money to establish Eastern State as a historical site.
Despite their efforts, I truthfully wasn’t expecting much—a dry, quick tour at best. I couldn’t have been more surprised. Within the prison’s cold, concrete walls, I had one of the most moving immersive experiences in recent memory.
Apokaluptein:16389067, a mural by artist and inmate Jesse Krimes, stood out. Over the course of several years, Krimes created a surreal landscape on prison-issued sheets. Using hair gel as a transfer agent, he screen printed images from the New York Times on 39 panels (see top right image). Krimes’ dream-like collage made me ponder how the human spirit responds to challenging circumstances.
The tour raised issues for me that go far beyond prison walls. All of us are shaped by moments we’ve endured. Hardship is often a disguised opportunity to transform ourselves.
Those visionary Philadelphians saw what many others could not. Today, their work stands apart, shedding light on the human condition for the benefit of future generations. But what about your stories of endurance and transformation? I wonder, how could we help you pass on your hard-won lessons?
StoryKeep exists to work with visionaries like you.