NOTE: This is an encore presentation of an episode that first aired on March 14, 2016. Krista Tippett is featured in the book, Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs. To hear the original, extended interview, go here: https://tonyloyd.com/057.
When I sat down with Krista Tippett of OnBeing to interview her for Social Entrepreneur, she told me some stories that she has told before through her books, award-winning radio program, and her many public appearances. However, she also talked about the back stories, the inner workings of her social enterprise. “We have not really talked about this much in public,” she told me.
If you are an avid fan of Krista Tippett, you might already know that she grew up in Shawnee, Oklahoma. She attended Brown University where she experienced a world different than what she had known. At Brown, Krista told me, she learned to be brave. She was an exchange student in Rostock when it was part of communist East Germany. She spent time as a reporter for the New York Times, and she worked at the US Embassy in Germany as Pershing missiles were pushed around a map.
In Europe, Krista was exposed to great power and those with few financial resources. She observed that some people with material abundance withered spiritually while others with few earthly goods maintained a rich inner life. She learned that circumstances do not dictate the quality of our spirits.
She traveled and lived in England. She attended Yale Divinity School. She moved to Collegeville, Minnesota where she took up a multi-year project to record the oral history of religious leaders. And as these leaders told her their stories, the thought occurred to her that others would benefit from these rich conversations. It was from this root that OnBeing was born.
In this revealing interview, Krista Tippett describes the way that September 11, 2001, suddenly thrust her onto a national platform with a radio program originally called Speaking of Faith. She tells how the radio show went from an idea to a meager pilot to an abrupt and urgent national conversation.
Krista describes the details of the inner workings of OnBeing, the decision to change the name from Speaking of Faith and the choice three years ago to spin off from American Public Media. To do so, she formed the social enterprise Krista Tippett Public Productions. They call it a social enterprise with a radio show at its heart. “We’re still figuring out what that means,” she told me.
Krista filled the hour with insights she learned as she launched a social enterprise and with practical advice for those who would follow her. In the end, Krista’s call to action for the listeners of Social Entrepreneur was to be there for one another as we see the world as it is, not as we wish it to be.Social Enterprise Quotes from Krista Tippett
“To be a radio show is also to be a podcast now.”
“Human beings can be placed in many circumstances, and those circumstances don’t define you; it’s the life you create out of whatever those raw materials are.”
“I was turning up at the radio station in the middle of the night, and the engineers on duty would let me in. I was learning to engineer it while I was producing it.”
“Over 90% of Americans say they sometimes pray. Over 70% affiliate with a religious tradition.”
“If this [faith] is the source, or at least an important source of moral imagination, we need to be able to talk about this in our public life as fluently as we talk about our economic imagination or our political imagination.”
“We felt like we had to get into a nimble, entrepreneurial structure.”
“No matter how beautiful the content is, or how timely the idea was, if I hadn’t have been good at raising money, this would not exist.”
On fundraising: “It’s all about relationships.”
“The work we do is something our funders themselves can partake in, weekly, as human beings.”
“All of us in this field, we are called to invent those metrics. We have to figure out how to do this.”
“The shadow side of social entrepreneurship can be an expression of this American drive of the self-made man, to have a vision that somehow you have to save the world with your project. It has perfectly good motivations, but what we’re learning in the 21st century is, in fact, the world does not work that way. And it’s never going to work that way again, even if we pretend it did.”
“We realized that this matter of talking about hard things, of taking up these great questions of our times, of doing that with different others, has civic and public implications as much as it has private implications.”
“I didn’t set out to write a book about wisdom.”
“What it means to be human, I think we have only begun to live into that question.”
“We have to help each other. We have to accompany each other.”
“It’s an incredibly exciting moment, and the stakes are high.”
“Get yourself some mentors; an ecosystem of mentors.”
“You learn when you have your own organization what a complex and perilous thing hiring is.”
“We now have as many people working on digital as people working on the weekly radio show.”Social Enterprise Resources:
Connect with listeners
Podcasters use the RadioPublic listener relationship platform to build lasting connections with fansYes, let's begin connecting
Find new listeners
Understand your audience
Engage your fanbase