An interview about interviews - meet Steven from Seeds

seeds is a podcast with a purpose - it features interviews with inspiring people making a change, and digs deeper into their stories to try and find out what motivates their choices. We got a chance to ask Steven Moe - the voice behind seeds - a few questions about how and why he asks his own questions.

stevenmoe

What motivated you to start the podcast? What change did you hope to see as a result?

I wanted to tell good stories, and podcasts are a great platform to connect via audio and go deep with people to really find out what makes them tick. We can get to the ‘why,’ not just superficially stake over what people ‘do.’ Our interviews typically last for an hour, so I can ask guests about their childhood, that time they lost someone close to them, what it meant to move countries… All that then informs the second half of the interview, where we do talk about what they are doing. My hope is simple: to tell stories that inspire others to start their own.   

In terms of motivation, I grew up here in New Zealand (despite my accent) and returned at the start of 2016 after 11 years overseas working for an international law firm in Tokyo (four years), London (three years) and Sydney (four years). In my work as a lawyer offshore I had gotten used to large scale commercial transactions (occasionally in the billions of dollars!). On my return, I was looking to do things differently and embrace the mid-life crisis of ‘what my purpose’ was. So I have had a shift in focus while continuing to work as a lawyer. That led me to write Social Enterprises in New Zealand: A Legal Handbook (a free ebook I send out to anyone who wants it). I also wanted to find ways to ‘add value’ and kept meeting amazing people with stories that deserve to be told but had no platform for that. So that was the reason I explored the idea of a podcast and seeds was born from that. It now has more than 67 interviews in a weekly show and has had 18,000 listens total, and not just in NZ either.

In the time you've been running the podcast, have you seen any trends in or changes to the social entrepreneur landscape? 

Yes, I’ve seen a maturing in the discussion about what we mean by the word ‘social enterprise’ – so much so that now there is even a discussion on whether it is the best phrase or if ‘impact enterprise’ might be better (I wrote about it in The Spinoff recently).

My big fear is that once a group forms it gets left to “them” to take forward the underlying principles that guide social enterprise, but in fact those need to be more widespread and adopted further by all business, not just a small group. One other thing is that the next generation get this stuff easily, and in the incubators I see many of the initiatives have some social or environmental outcome they are aiming for as well.

Steven recently spoke about the true potential of avocados, and learnings from hosting seeds, at the opening of "The Great Southern Unconference."

What else are you working on at the moment?

I am involved in legal research right now with Akina Foundation on what is needed to really engage and resource the growth of social enterprises in New Zealand. Would a new legal structure that takes the best of what a charity offers (usually for purpose) and the best of what a company offers (usually for profit) help? What about B Corp and other accreditation mechanisms, are they of use? What is being done in places like the UK which already have a structure like ‘Community Interest Companies’? Questions like that. We should be releasing that in January or February, after we finish the interviews with many in the sector, and it will then go to Government to consider. 

What role do you think podcasts like seeds, or organisations like Step Changers play in normalising corporate social responsibility?

The more conversations that happen at different levels of society the better. Putting out content to challenge assumptions and empower people to actually think and question will help with that. I don’t mind if the podcast is listened to just one time by a person who had a friend interviewed, as long as they perhaps recall something that was said and then use it to challenge another person on a point. 

As an example, when I interviewed Kit Hindin (then at Ministry of Awesome, now doing great work at BOMA) we talked about how the first question these day is usually “How busy are you?” It unveils a lot about our priorities. In fact is that busyness what we should be aiming for? And when someone says they are busy, does that mean they binge watched the latest popular TV series for six hours last night? Slow down, reflect, be mindful – that is when the best ideas will surface. That episode with Kit has been listened to hundreds of times, and I hope that those who heard it maybe reflect and consider that point in their own life. 

That’s just one of 67 examples of how a podcast can go out into the world and challenge the way people think. Small ripples from stones dropped in the pond, right?

You can hear another 66 (and counting) reflections on living with purpose and making a changes by listening to seeds on all podcast apps, or at seeds.libsyn.com. And if listening to seeds makes you want to learn more about how your business or employer could have a purpose as well as profit, Step Changers is here to help.

InterviewsBruno Shirley