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This New Podcast Tells the Stories of Atlantic Canadian Innovators

image: communications expert and humourist Bill Carr

A new podcast out of Nova Scotia is exploring the experiences and stories of Atlantic Canada’s business community.

Fall Back Up is hosted by Jordi Morgan, current Atlantic vice-president for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) and former radio and CBC broadcaster. Despite what his day job entails, the podcast doesn’t focus on politics or policy, but the experiences of business leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators and “high performers” in the region. His guest list includes the CEOs of the region, but also innovators and thought leaders like communications expert and humourist Bill Carr

We sat down with Morgan to chat about the podcast and where he plans on taking it.

Where did the idea for Fall Back Up come from?

Jordi Morgan

I was looking at doing a podcast of some sort. I went through a couple iterations and then I unsuccessfully tried a couple of versions and I didn’t find that it was something particularly compelling. I was getting into the thought podcast thing and I was listening to a show called the “Tim Ferriss Show” who is a guy who runs a show interviewing high performers and billionaires, actors and interesting people of that sort. What he does is he teases out some of their habits and what they do and talks about how they built their lives and the way they manage them. I thought it was very interesting because there were some takeaways.

So I started thinking about this in the Atlantic Canadian context. There’s a lot of interesting people here in the region and they have some very interesting stories. Because they are in Atlantic Canada, there are some unique challenges that we face here and I felt it would be good to tell some of those stories and share some of the experiences and off we go.

How do you go about picking the people you want to interview?

It’s interesting, it sort of came together at a Junior Achievement event in Nova Scotia and they were inducting some new folks into the Junior Achievement Hall of Fame, it’s the business hall of fame here in Nova Scotia. I was hosting this panel and asking some questions of the folks that were there, Chris Huskilson from Emera and Colin McDonald from Clearwater and a couple other folks who were very successful business people. The stories they had were very interesting because it actually dealt with not just how they were successful, but also how they dealt with failure and how failure was an important component of that.

Not that what I am focusing on specifically is just failure, but I think that when I go to look at who I want pick, I want to find a variety of people. For one, I like to have a broad range of individuals, not just high-flying business people. I’d like to find people who have innovative ideas, folks who are bringing something interesting into the conversation who have had some unique experiences, had some life experience and who can tell that story. I’m seeing there are not lack of folks like that.

In the description for the show, you specifically highlight that it’s not a show about politics or policy, though it may be discussed. Why did you feel it was important to make that distinction?

I think a lot of the time we end up talking about subjects or things, rather than talking about people and the way people actually respond to stuff. I think the stories that people tell and their experience and the way they are impacted by things like policy and politics are sometimes more interesting than the policy and politics itself.

In the past, I’ve been in the media and I’ve had experience with the CBC and I had my radio talk show, and we did talk a lot about politics and we talked about policy and we talked about things that were going on, but I think that drilling down a little bit more into the human side of it and the experiential side will provide more of a takeaway.

At my work at CFIB, we do talk a lot about policy. It’s a very significant part of what we do and it’s a very important thing to talk about, but it gets lots of airing. What I want to hear is a little bit more of the humanity behind these stories and what it is motivating and driving people to stay in Atlantic Canada and do business and try to create better communities.

So when you’re talking to your guests, what are the key things you want to learn about them or learn from them?

A want to learn a little bit about their background, how they found themselves where they are. I think that’s important. They might even go back into their childhood fo that matter. I think those are interesting stories about why people landed here in Atlantic Canada. There are people who’ve lived here all their lives, there are other people who showed up here when they started university. There’s a variety of reasons why people are living here. Above all I want this to be an Atlantic Canadian thing, because I think that there’s a common experience that we live here in Atlantic Canada. There’s a reason that we stay here, if we choose to stay here… I’d like to try and tease out some of that shared experience that we have, because I think there’s something important about that.

Listen to the latest episode of Fall Back Up featuring Bill Carr: 

Do you have an idea of someone you’d love to score an interview with or you hope to talk to in the future?

There are lots. I got a list. I’ve got some people I am going to be interviewing over the next little while that I’m excited about. I’m going to be talking to Admiral John Newton whose the commander of the Atlantic fleet here in Halifax. I’m going to be talking to a guy named Murray Carter who actually is from Halifax, but he ended up moving to Japan and he’s living in Portland Oregon now and he’s seen as one of the most world-renown knife makers in the world. There’s Barb Stegemann, who’s just had all the success that she’s had with Perfume War, a movie that she’s just released.

I could go on. There’s a lot of different business people. I’m not really weighing in on the politicians a lot. If I find that there’s a compelling reason to do that, I may, but I think politicians get lots of press time. Very often, when people are in the political realm, they’re perhaps not as transparent as they might be otherwise, or they can’t be as transparent as they might be otherwise. I’m more likely going to be talking with former politicians than probably current politicians. It depends I suppose, I’m not closing any doors.

Where do you ultimately hope to take this podcast down the road?

I’m just doing it and giving it away, quite frankly. I just want the conversations to be out there. I love it. I have a real job and I’m doing this in the evenings and weekends. I only have so much time to devote to this.

I’m hopeful that a couple of things will happen. I know there are some community radio stations that are interested in airing this. So I’d like it to disseminate. I’m not charging for it. I’m saying if people want to use it as some interesting spoken-word programming, I’m more than willing to do that.

I would like these stories out there. I would like it to help inform the broader conversation that’s going on about how we improve the region. I would like it to provide some context for people around the entrepreneur experience here in Atlantic Canada and what that entails.

And I’d like it to be entertaining. I hope people listening to it won’t be going ‘oh my god this is boring.’ I hope that they find it engaging and entertaining, so that’s the other part of it.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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