6 Questions with HighEdWeb 2018 keynote speaker Manoush Zomorodi

As seen in a previous episode, this year’s HighEdWeb 2018 keynotes include Manoush Zomorodi, an award-winning podcast host, author and relentless examiner of the modern human condition. To start getting hyped for her talk on Monday, Oct. 22, we asked her our customary 6 Questions, plus a bonus round.

1) One of your themes is how to survive information overload. Since you’re speaking to an audience that spends much of its day in the digital realm, do you have any advice for how we can avoid overloading?

Yes! Set yourself specific goals, whether it’s to finish building, reading, or writing something. Once you achieve your goal, shut it down. Go for a walk, do the dishes, fold laundry. Give yourself time to reflect on what you’ve accomplished or synthesize the information you’ve taken in. Your brain is not a computer. It needs real time to process everything it’s working on!

2) The abstract on your book (Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self) references “how we can harness boredom’s hidden benefits to become our most productive selves.” We won’t ask you to give too much away — since the book looks like a fabulous read — but can you share a suggestion or two for starters?

Don’t berate yourself for doing nothing! Sitting around and just thinking actually activates a special network in your brain that does very important work, including creative thinking and problem solving. You have my permission to be sloth-like.

3) What made you choose podcasting as a prominent medium for your message?

The power of language to convey meaning and intimacy. Think of all the miscommunications we have via text!  But also, my listeners tell me they love taking me shopping or jogging via their earbuds.

4) There’s been a lot of talk in higher ed about training students for careers, rather than embracing knowledge for knowledge’s sake. Is that an approach that is stifling creativity? 

Yes.

5) What podcasts are we likely to find in your listening queue on any given day? 

I try to mix it up but I always love On The Media, Recode Decode, Call Your Girlfriend, Masters of Scale…looking forward to listening to Slow Burn, The Habitat, and The Pay Check.

6) What was the most thought-provoking audience question you’ve ever had during a presentation? 

It was actually a statement. A 17 year-old young man looked and me and just said, “This stuff isn’t that big a deal for us.” That sums up the challenge for me. How do we talk about purposeful use of technology without sounding like total fuddy duddies to younger people? Maybe by not using terms like fuddy duddy?

6a) Since podcasts seem to be taking over the world, would you rather the planet be ruled by The Glow Cloud from Welcome to Nightvale or one of the McElroy brothers?

Actually, Brooklyn is the mecca for podcasters. I’ll stay put.

Make sure you can see Manoush Zomorodi and our other amazing speakers live by registering for HighEdWeb 2018!