I've been binging the podcast "How to Save a Planet." It's about climate change.
There are two main reasons why I listen. The first is that this podcast gives me hope. Each episode highlights something that can be done about climate change and is even being put into practice today that can be scaled up to make an impact in helping to, well, save our planet. The second is that Alex Blumberg, one of the co-hosts, has made a successful business out of telling great stories in podcast form, regardless of the subject matter – maybe you heard about how he sold his company, Gimlet Media, to Spotify for over $200 million? – and this is no exception.
In a recent episode about regenerative farming, Alex and his co-host, Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, interview Grant and Dawn Breitkreutz, a couple from Minnesota who successfully transformed their huge farm using climate-friendly practices and by concentrating on soil health. When Blumberg and Johnson asked why more people in their area weren't following the Breitkreutzes' example, Grant very simply put it, "As humans, what's the hardest things for us to do? Admit we're wrong, and change."
As a communicator (and also as someone who has a degree in Psychology), those two simple sentences hit me hard. A good part of my job is change-management and convincing people to take action, including potentially going against a practice they've been doing for a while. But it's hard, especially when I'm fighting ingrained human psychology and emotional reactions.
But the brilliance of Alex and Ayana's podcast is that it promotes change-management on a few different levels. They take an issue and make the solution digestible and interesting.
In terms of combating the perception that a huge problem is too big to be surmounted, they break down the issue into bite-sized actionable aspects. Each episode highlights a different approach to help fight climate change and provides some easy ways to do so. They don't dismiss the difficulty, but they make the problem seem like it's solvable and that the answers are within reach, even offering some action items at the end of each episode listeners can choose to do. In more colloquial terms, they eat the elephant one bite at a time rather than staring at the elephant and freaking out over how huge the elephant is.
By constructing a well-told story and weaving together real-life examples, Alex and Ayana can take something dry like soil health and build it into a hour-plus-long episode that people want to spend time listening to. They don't lecture, they don't drone on, they don't present dry facts. They make it compelling and engaging, and they draw people in with how they craft their episodes. They answer listeners' potential question of "Why should I?" before it's even asked.
"How to Save a Planet" has reinforced for me the need for – and the power of – change management. It's something anyone in a communications or leadership position can wield to combat the thousands of years of human psychology inertia. Now if you'll excuse me, I have an elephant I need to convince a bunch of people to eat.