Big ideas, right in your ears: a year of Quietroom Out Loud podcasts

by Joe Craig on

Over the year, our Quietroom Out Loud podcast brought you interviews with a cast of brilliant communicators and deep thinkers. They came from fields as diverse as politics and particle physics. But they shared a message: find a purpose. Something big. Seek out the positive change you can make in the world, and pursue it with passion. From that, everything follows.

The fundamentals can make complex ideas clear

There aren’t many ideas bigger or more misunderstood than e=mc2, but David Bodanis has launched himself on a mission to make complex ideas clear. He cuts through seemingly impenetrable technicality to the fundamentals that matter. If you express something complex in terms of something the rest of us understand, you get your message across. David uses the analogy of swapping Euros for Yen to explain that e=mc2 is just a conversion tool for mass and energy, which are – fundamentally – the same thing.

Your sense of purpose gets things done

Paul Pester also has a mission: to change the way we bank. So it’s lucky he’s in charge of TSB. When he took over as CEO he set out to reunite estranged twins, truth and banking. To achieve anything as revolutionary as that, he says, you need a clear sense of purpose. If you stick to your mission, and hire people who share your vision for achieving it, you quickly get tangible results. Our podcast with Paul will be available soon.

Meanwhile, Stella Creasy MP battles every day for her mission, often against the many clashing interests of everybody else in parliament (or “Hogwarts gone wrong”, as she calls it). For her, one of the big mistakes you can make is to put process ahead of purpose. People come to her for a meeting, just to say they’ve had a meeting. That’s process. So she asks: what are you trying to get done? And why? It’s all about nailing down your purpose.

Our networks could save us or destroy us

Perhaps not surprisingly for someone so adept on Twitter, Stella believes in what she calls “networks of change”, as opposed to the old institutions, which, she says, are failing. The challenge – and the big purpose Stella’s pursuing – is to make those networks open, equal and accessible.

In contrast, Andrew Keen has a warning about networks – or at least one particular network. The internet is not the answer, he tells us. It’s pulling us down, compounding inequality. What hope do we have, he asks, against the dangers of the digital economy, where every company is by necessity a tech company, and exists on the brink of decimation? Andrew pins his hopes on the variables of the human mind that technology can’t imitate; the robots will never match our capacity for relationships.

Paul Twivy is more optimistic. He sees digital technology at the heart of solutions to future problems. But it will only work, he says, if businesses ask how their commercial and social objectives can be “as one”. He’s advised three British Prime Ministers and he’s behind organisations like Change the World for a Fiver and Your Square Mile. He’s always pushing towards the same big idea: to give power back to individuals through programmes of social change.

What you save now saves you later

Whether you think the future will bring equality through social change or robot domination of a heartless capitalist plutocracy, you’ll need to put a bit of cash aside to get through it. Rob Gardner is the expert on saving and insists the moment to start doing it is now – whatever your state of decrepitude or innocence. We put this podcast interview in the hands of 14 year-old Jessie, who marshalled the compelling conversation about how and why to save for the future.

Then you take the tips home

Our podcast hasn’t just brought out mind-expanding ideas from fascinating interviewees. We’ve pinned down lessons from each of them: practical tools you can take away to make your own communication clear, vivid and real.

There’s no tip that will do more to shape your year than our Rhys’ advice on how to articulate your purpose. How to define your mission. That’s the big idea of 2016: The Big Idea. So stride into the new year with a sense of purpose, and be ready for more big ideas from us, here at Quietroom, in 2017.

Listen to our podcasts – and tell us your favourite

The Internet is not the answer – with Andrew Keen

Hogwarts gone wrong – with Stella Creasy MP

Rewarding, simple, slightly unexpected – with Paul Twivy

Opening doors – making science clear, vivid and real – with David Bodanis

I’m only 14 – why should I start saving? – with Rob Gardner