You Can Only Fail if You Give Up w/ Richard Midson

Updated: Feb 3, 2021

Adrienne MacIain 0:01

Hey everyone, welcome to the That's Aloud podcast. I'm your hostess with the mostest Adrienne MacIain. And today we're here with Richard Midson. Please introduce yourself, sir.

Richard Midson 0:11

Thank you very much. And it's wonderful to be on your show. I love your show because of the kind of questions that you ask. And I've listened to quite a few of your episodes, and I love this. But having been someone that used to ask questions, because I used to work in radio news, this is going to be really quite a different experience for me with you asking me questions, so you're probably gonna have to shut me up so that I answer the questions that you want. But it's gonna be really interesting. But basically, I used to be in radio news, I used to be a broadcaster, I spent 10 years as a reporter, a news editor, and I used to present a rolling news teletype to CNN or what do you call it? The American? Yeah, I can't remember the other news channels in America. But I used to do this on the radio. So I used to present five days a week, and I used to present relevant news. But the thing I'm used to doing is asking other people questions. I'm not used to telling my story, and this is why I was fascinated by your show, and the way that you draw stories out of people. And I thought, right, I'm gonna have to submit to Adrienne here and see what she can get out of me. So I'm a bit nervous, I gotta admit.

Adrienne MacIain 1:14

Yes, you must bow to the process. No, I think it's actually, what I like about this process is it's a very collaborative process. And so what I try to do, you know, I ask my questions, but I also just sort of let people take it in whatever direction it naturally kind of flows. So we'll just see what see what happens, Richard. But welcome, I'm so glad to have you here. I've never had someone who was a professional journalist on before, so this is very exciting for me. So, let's just jump right in with the first question, which is, what story are you not telling?

Richard Midson 1:51

When I saw that you asked this to other people, and I thought, what is that story? And it's actually the fact that I haven't really, apart from friends, ever explained my story as to what happened to me. Because, I mean, I've never appeared, as I say, I've never been a guest on a show to talk about me. I always ask the questions. And the more, I've kind of been thinking about it. And over my life, I realized that there's been a lot of moments in my life where, because I just sort of said, To hell with it, I achieve things. And there's a lot of examples, so you're gonna have to cut me off if I start to rabbit on, or if you think people are gonna start getting bored by this. But I mean, to give you sort of a little bit of a concept of that is that I remember in my early 20s, I was working for a travel firm. And I used to put a headset on every day. You turn up in the morning, you put this headset on, put the microphone on, and you switched on your phone, and you weren't allowed to turn it off. And after each person came through, you just got another one delivered. And there was one day where I had just absolutely had enough, I think we've all been through these moments, right? Where even though you know it's not logical to do this, you do it. And I just cut 10 people off, I just cut them off, I couldn't stand it, I absolutely lost it. I hated this job. And after lunch, I ended up in the boardroom with the manager, strangely enough. And we discussed sales targets, which I at the time said that I wasn't particularly interested in or cared about, which didn't go down very well. And it was made very clear to me that perhaps I should find another job. And the thing was, though, that during my lunch breaks, I used to dash out of the office, and I would go to a local radio station, because I got to know some of the people that worked at this local radio station. So purely for hobby, for a bit of fun, as a distraction from this job, I used to go to the radio station and I used to help out in any way I could, just as a kind of hobby thing. Because I never thought you could actually do this. Radio was something that other people did. But because I knew a few people, they said Oh, come in here to help out. So I did. So used to dash off there and come back after my lunch break rather than just sitting in the canteen and doing nothing. And so there was needing to get another job, so I applied for another job. And, you know, I mean, every one of us has had very different backgrounds, but for me, I was brought up in a very stable, very loving family. And that stability partly came from having, my dad had a proper job in an office that he had been at all his life. And that was what gave us stability. And so naturally, I kind of assumed you had to have a proper job. And that meant working in an office pushing paper around. So I simply didn't believe that you could ever get into journalism or you could be in radio. So there was, I applied for a proper job, I got a job with a firm that sold bricks, which was as interesting as it sounds, it was. Two weeks after I started, I hated them, they hated me, we parted ways. So again, I was out of there. So something was kind of going, This is all going wrong, Rick, you've got to start listening to yourself a bit more.

Adrienne MacIain 5:01


Richard Midson 5:02

And a friend of mine from this radio station was the editor of a local newspaper. And I said to him, can I come into your office and use your office to keep warm while I apply for a proper job? But of course, the moment I got in there, I couldn't help myself. So I started... I mean, it's just impossible! You've got all these people, all this energy, all this excitement about, you know, what stories can we find? What can we put out today? Who interesting people can we go and meet? And the second week I was there, I wrote the front page lead story exclusive for the paper. I say, okay, something is happening here, I have got to start listening to myself. Because it wasn't even planned, it was just happening without me trying. You know, this I think is a big theme of m y life, you've got to try, as hard as you fight yourself, to listen to this call. So I started doing that, and I started going into the radio session more because I had time and realized how much I was loving it. And I started applying for regular jobs. And then I decided to apply for a journalism course. Now, I didn't think I was going to get on this. And it was at that time, that someone very close to me said, I've got to be honest with you, you don't have what it takes to be a journalist. But I applied, and I thought, Well, what harm is it? It's like applying for any job, you know. You apply for 10 jobs, you might get one interview. Well, whatever, let's just apply. And I went on this selection day for this thing, and it was a knockout day, so if you are there at the end of the day, you have a place on the course. At each stage of the day, so several times during the day, they just cut people from it, and they just say Go home. And at the end of the day, I was still there. And at the time, this was the top course for journalism in the country, and there I was, with the place being offered on this course. So what's happening here, you know, how is this happening? I can't do journalism, I don't have what it takes to be a journalist. So I went to the radio station next day, and they said, Look, if you drop the course, we will employ you and train you to be a journalist here at the radio station. Okay, so suddenly, I've got an offer for the top course in the country and I've got an offer for a job, even though I've got no skills, and I don't have any ability to be a journalist. So I rang up the course. And I said, What do you think I should do? And they said, Take the job. Get trained. He said...

Adrienne MacIain 7:28

Take the job, idiot!

Richard Midson 7:30

Yeah, yeah. Literally, I mean, you summed it up beautifully, Take the job, idiot. Two weeks later, I was sitting there reading a 20 minute news program to thousands of people across London and the UK, and being paid for it. So you know, a few months before I was screaming and pulling my hair out, trying to deal with all these annoying people that I just couldn't stand. When you when you're about to read a news bulletin, you hear a jingle. So that gives you your time until you hear a sort of dun dun dun. And you know that you come in at that certain point. And I used to hear this jingle, and I still remember the feeling, and I can't help but smile thinking of it, that jingle would start and I would burst out laughing because I simply couldn't believe that someone was paying me to do something fun. I mean, they don't, do they? Surely every job has to be horrible.

Adrienne MacIain 8:21

Oh, God. I mean, when you feel that, it is the, I have never experienced anything like that high.

Richard Midson 8:29

I bet you have. We all have. That's the thing, we've all had those moments, where, and I think the biggest problem is that we don't take advantage of them. And I didn't deliberately take it, but somehow it just sort of happened. Yeah, so I'm sure you have.

Adrienne MacIain 8:46

No, that's what I mean. I'm just saying like that I don't know of anything better than that feeling when you realize, wait, I'm doing what I love to do, and someone's paying me for it?

Richard Midson 8:58

I mean, how is it possible? How is it possible?

Adrienne MacIain 9:00

And yet, here we are.

Richard Midson 9:01

And so there's you doing it, I did it too. So it just shows that anyone can ultimately do it. You know, people used to come, I mean, to cut to cut a long story short, a few years later, I was the editor at the second largest news organization, one of the duty editors in the UK behind the BBC. I was responsible for news going out to 300 local radio stations around the whole of the United Kingdom. So this was two years after I'd been told I didn't have what it took to be a journalist. And I was the editor in charge of journalists who had had training, who done these courses for three years. I had no training at all. It was all purely because I was so excited by it, and so passionate about it, and just enjoyed it. So it was all just spontaneous. So I just think that people have these things inside them, and I'm glad I kind of let myself go for it. I just think we've all got to give in to ourselves sometimes.

Adrienne MacIain 9:57

Absolutely. You got to go out of your own way, and just start giving your gifts 100%. You know, there's story after story of famous people who were told at some point, specifically, do not do this, like, you're no good at this. Right? Lucille Ball's the first one that comes to my mind. Her acting teacher told her do anything but act. So don't listen to people, that's just their opinion. Right? And it may not even be a well informed opinion, frankly. Never disqualify yourself for what you really want to do. I've seen people do this over and over again, where they see an opportunity, but then they go, Oh, I'm not qualified for that. Do you know how many people ended up in positions that they were 100% not qualified for just by having the hutzpah to try?

Richard Midson 10:48

But it's also I think, is that when you're a lot look younger, as well, you have you have a lot more thoughts about I can't do this. And as you start to get older, you start to get more blase, I think, in my experience, and you don't care so much. And I think you have to say forget what other people say, and just try it. Now, if you then hate it, then there's your answer. But don't listen to what other people say. If they say this is rubbish, or boring, try it anyway.

Adrienne MacIain 11:16


Richard Midson 11:17

If you decide it's rubbish, or boring, that's fine. But don't let anyone else decide.

Adrienne MacIain 11:21

Absolutely. You gotta listen to that gut. But sometimes someone can say something that kind of triggers you, like you were you were saying, you know, back at the beginning, like you started to think like, hmm, wait a second. When I was an executive assistant, I was in a review, you know, one of those performance reviews. And my boss at the time said to me, so what do you really want to do? And it was an interesting question. Right? Because right there, it's kind of is a loaded question right away, like, you clearly are not cut out for this work. So what do you really want to be doing? And so I was a little bit insulted, like, taken aback. But at the same time, I was like, that's an interesting question, what do I really want to do? And so I started saying, you know, Oh, I guess I could do HR or I could do something else. And he was like, You strike me as a creative type.

Richard Midson 12:09


Adrienne MacIain 12:10

And I had this moment where I was like, yeah, but, I mean, being a creative type, like, that doesn't pay. And he gave me this look. And he's like, hold on a second. And so he goes out, and he starts gathering up all these people that do creative jobs in this company, and bringing them in one by one and saying, How much do you make? How much do you make? How much do you make? And then he turns to me and said, I don't ever want to hear you say again that creative types don't make money. And I was like, Wow, point taken.

Richard Midson 12:42

So fantastic when you have a mentor. You know, if you've got someone to actually show you how to do it. I mean, I think for me, I didn't so much have a mentor, I had people that allowed me to try things. So it's like, an example I use sometimes is that, I mean, you remember the old mobile phones? They used to be like bricks, didn't they?

Adrienne MacIain 13:03

Oh, yeah. Yeah.

Richard Midson 13:04

I mean, literally a brick, they were so heavy. And I was always into motorsport. And I liked this, it's called rally driving. This is where they drive very fast cars through forest tracks, closed forest tracks. And I went to this event at Silverstone Racetrack. And I just thought, I want to do something creative. And I said to the chap in charge of sport, and this is before I was working there, I said, Look, why don't I do a live interview inside a rally car? Now, this is before you had, you know, the kind of kit that you have now to do live broadcast. So this was with a mobile phone built like a brick with a poor sounding microphone on it. And he was like, Well, we'll just try it, and I can always cut you off if it gets too distorted, and we'll just say, Oh, they're driving off into the distance or something like that. So he gave me the opportunity. So I literally started, and we were sitting in this car at one side of this car park area. And I started off and I held the phone upside down, I knew we were live, and I interviewed the driver by pointing the microphone at the bottom of the phone towards him, like you would if you imagine you holding a microphone in your hand. So I did a little interview like that, and I said, Well, let's get going. And he floored the throttle, and we blasted off, and I just carried on talking into this microphone. And I know that later on, they sort of cut off after a bit. But it was the fact that they let me try this, and I got such a tremendous buzz out of it, that it allowed me to then go and be more creative with other things. So a bit like you having that mentor there who was demonstrating and showing what was possible by this person saying, Try it. I was no longer, like, thinking, Oh, no, I shouldn't try this, it might not work. He was like, Let's try it and if it doesn't work, it doesn't matter. So it gave me the same opportunity you have with a mentor to be creative, to sort of expand what you thought was possible.

Adrienne MacIain 14:54

Have you had any mentors that have really made an impact on you?

Richard Midson 14:58

It's a really good question, that. I mean, I've had people who have given me opportunities, but I haven't had anyone that's really trained me.

Adrienne MacIain 15:09

Kind of taken you under their wing?

Richard Midson 15:11

Yeah. And it sounds quite selfish, but I almost wish I had had. Because hearing your story, I'm very jealous.

Adrienne MacIain 15:20

Well, and it's funny because I didn't consider him particularly a mentor. Like, he was my boss and we didn't spend much time together, and that was actually the first time that he had kind of taken an interest in me and my future, and then he fired me. It was the best thing that could have happened.

Richard Midson 15:39

You're kidding!

Adrienne MacIain 15:39

No, it was the best thing that could have happened, because then I realized, like, Yeah, he's right, I'm not an executive assistant, that's not really what I want to do. But what is it about executive assistance that resonated with me? And what part of that can I expand into what I actually want to do?

Richard Midson 15:57

So why did you end up as an executive assistant? I gotta be careful here that I don't start trying to interview you.

Adrienne MacIain 16:04

Well, so I'd gotten my PhD in drama, and I thought that I was going to be an academic. And I started to apply for academic jobs. And I went in and I, you know, did my big song and dance presentation, you know, and I would teach a class and I would go through this whole thing. And I kept getting the same feedback, which is, She didn't seem very professional to us. She seemed very unprofessional. And I was like, What does that mean? She has very unprofessional attire. And I said, Well, you had me teach an African dance class, so I was wearing dance clothes. Um, did you expect me to wear a suit? I don't, you know. And so I started to realize just little by little like, academia has a lot of weird rules that I don't quite understand, nor do I agree with. And so I started teaching just kind of on my own here and there in different acting schools and stuff like that. But I realized after a while that this was never really going to pay the bills in the way that I needed it to. And I had a daughter, and I just really wanted her, like you said, to have a nice, stable home, and in my mind, that was, you know, you'd get a proper job, same thing. And so I thought, what can I do? You know, I'm looking around at this area, and I'm in Seattle, and all the jobs are in tech, they're tech companies. And there's a ton of those jobs. But like, what could I do for these tech companies? And I wasn't thinking at the time about writing or anything like that, I was just thinking like, what could I do right now? And I figured the most entry level position that I could think of was admin.

Richard Midson 17:48

Something safe, stable, pushing paper, just like I was doing.

Adrienne MacIain 17:52

Exactly! Aiming as low as I possibly could, right.

Richard Midson 17:56

I can get that!

Adrienne MacIain 17:58

Oh yeah, I could do that. They'll give me permission to do that job. And so I started applying at different places, and the thing I got over and over again was, Well, you're overqualified. You have a PhD, you're overqualified. So I kept getting rejected over and over for being overqualified. And I was like, what is this?

Richard Midson 18:18

Where do I go?

Adrienne MacIain 18:20

Yeah. So I finally met, you know, I through, I'll skip all that part of the story. But I got an interview at a startup. And startups are fun, because there's like, again, no rules. It's, like, a startup, we do things the way we want to.

Richard Midson 18:35

Very exciting atmosphere.

Adrienne MacIain 18:36

Exactly. So I go in, and I meet with this guy. And James, he really was a mentor to me, he was absolutely wonderful to me, and I stayed with him for four years until the company got bought. But at the interview, we really bonded and it was, like, just house on fire getting along, you know? And he was super excited that I had a PhD. He's like, how cool is it that my assistant is more educated than I am? Like, how important am I that I have a PhD as my assistant. He just thought that was great. And what I loved about that job was learning everything about this one person. Understanding what made him tick, what he needed, what his obstacles were, and just helping coach him as a boss. Right? And being that intermediary between him and the rest of the company. I loved that. Getting his message, understanding what it was, and then disseminating it in a way that I knew people would understand it. So it was a communications job for me and it was a coaching job. But all the little details of like his calendar and stuff like that, it was like a lot of that stuff would fall off my radar, to be honest, and I got in some big trouble.

Richard Midson 19:50

Yeah, but you were starting to see what you were really good at. You were being pulled towards that.

Adrienne MacIain 19:56

Exactly. And I did not heed the call right away. I took another job. And that's when I learned like, No, actually executive assistant is not the thing. The thing was all that stuff I did that wasn't in the job description, the emotional transfer, and the coaching, and the cheerleading, just clarifying people's message for them and helping them tell their stories. So that's when I realized, wait a second, I do a thing that's not a thing. And so I need to make it a thing. And so I created this thing called a story coach, that wasn't a thing until I made it a thing.

Richard Midson 20:35

Because you listened, ultimately, you listened to what you were naturally good at, and enjoyed as well. And found something from it. Yeah?

Adrienne MacIain 20:44

Yeah. So I want to hear more of your story. So you said kind of long story short there. Let's go back in there a little bit. So how did you get from, so you've got a job, right, and you're like, hee-hee, they're paying me to do this thing that's so exciting.

Richard Midson 21:00

How did this happen?

Adrienne MacIain 21:01

How did this happen? But what happens from there? You know, where does the tide turn into, like, wait a second, this is my career.

Richard Midson 21:12

You know, in a funny way, I think it was almost like, I didn't have to think about that. It was obvious. It was just so so natural to me. I mean, I remember talking and talking into the microphone, because I'd spent several years in a call center talking to people all day long, trying to sell ski holidays to people and I didn't even enjoy skiing myself. I know. I know. Actually, I don't think I've ever admitted that. But anyway, there we go. An exclusive!

Adrienne MacIain 21:43

There we go. The story he's not telling: he doesn't even like to ski!

Richard Midson 21:46

Oh no, I can't. I mean, it does your knees in anyway.

Adrienne MacIain 21:50

I'm with you, I hate downhill skiing.

Richard Midson 21:55

We should definitely go into the ski business together, shouldn't we. So I mean, I, as I say, I was reading the news, but I didn't know how to write scripts or anything like that. So I started to get taught how to do that. I used to get, well, I mean, you get used to this in journalism, you get big red lines drawn through your scripts, and you're told This is absolute rubbish, try again. This was something that a few years later I was doing to other people, but at the time it was done to me. But it was just, I was just naturally curious about people, and I always have been, I've always been, like you just said actually about being fascinated by the way your boss ticked. And I got to, it was probably a press release initially, but I got to know some environmental campaigners who were trying to do a protest to block Heathrow Airport, which is a big airport in Britain, if you've not heard of it. And while one of the things I certainly learned through my journalism career was you don't have to agree with someone to want to understand their point of view. So I spent time getting to know them. And they said, Look, we're going to do this, we're going to go to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, which is a long way away, in France. And I said, Well, do you mind if I come with you? So I spent several days with them. But because I gained their trust, and they gained my trust, they realized that I was giving them an opportunity to speak. But I was asking them tough questions, but I was letting them honestly answer because I wanted to understand them. When all the other press were outside the European Parliament at the sort of press gathering, I was inside the building having lunch with them. So, it was fascinating to get to understand how they thought, how they organized as environmental campaigners, how they pitch their message to the press. There was a lot of stuff which I didn't report in order to achieve as much as I did get, because I didn't want to betray their trust. But I was still able to report far more about the thoughts, feelings and the things that were going on than any of the other press were covering. So what actually happened was, I realized it was an opportunity for me to offer a piece of audio. We call them voices, they're like some 2o second piece that you do, you know, you see it on TV where a reporter does a quick piece to camera. And it's the same in radio. So I rang up this organization called ITN who were the second biggest organization in the UK at the time, and I said, Look, I'm here, I'm in the European Parliament, I'm with these protesters. Do you want a bit of audio? And they said, Yeah, we won't pay for it, but you can do it. So I'm of course, because here's an opportunity for me to get my foot in the door with this organization. So I provided this bit of audio, I was nervous as heck doing it because this was such a massive step up. And then, um, so then I did some freelancing. I eventually left the original radio social site, I did some freelancing, and then I applied for ITN to go in and do a bit of freelancing. And obviously I said straight away, I said because I've already done some stuff for you, admittedly it was only one piece, but... And so I got the opportunity to go in there. And I think it was about three months later that I turned up on a Sunday, and I was meant to be the reporter that day, and the editor had called in sick. There was a couple of other reporters there and me. And the boss who was there that day said, Right, you're on the editor's desk. So, what? Hang on. Remember, I have done no journalism training at all. I have no legal training. And these other journalists there have done three year courses. And I don't know whether I argued, I don't remember if I argued about this or not, or just went and sat there. But they gave me a trial by fire. Now, when you're working with journalists who know what they're doing, they're not always the most pleasant people. A week later, that editor hadn't come back from being sick, I was still in the chair, and they offered me a job as a duty editor. Now, that was a really stressful week, but somehow I survived it. And I said to them at the time, I said, Actually, I came here to be a reporter and they said, Look, we want you to be an editor, that's the job we're offering you, if you don't want to know this job, and you can go back to being a freelance if you want to. What do you do? You become on editor, don't you?

Adrienne MacIain 26:18

Of course.

Richard Midson 26:19

So there I was, you know, literally a couple of years after starting this with no training at all, as one of the duty editors at ITN. And I was like, How did this happen? It was amazing. I mean, I then went on and again, my creativity and sort of wish to understand people then went on from there. So I did documentaries. And one of the ones I was most proud of was to do with prostitution. Now this was something at the time where I always felt it was treated in two different ways, either that prostitution was terrible, bad and awful. Or it was some sort of titillating thing, it was almost like, Oh, you know, ooh, these girls! And I said that a childish way, but that was how it's been treated. And I wanted to do something that looked, that gave people the chance to speak. So I dug into this and I spoke to sex tourists, so people that literally travel the world to see the prostitutes. I went to brothels, I interviewed Madams, I spent time with the police Vice Squad. And what I got from that was a really rounded picture of how it works in the industry. And I remember going into this, I'd never been into a brothel in my life, ever. And I remember going into this one and going into the sort of the waiting room. So the first thing they did when I went in there was they instantly switched off the TV and the VHS player, because you can kind of imagine what might have been playing. Turned that off straightaway. And the madam came in, and she sat down next to me on the sofa. And it was really weird, because I remember moving away a bit, which I wouldn't have done with anyone else. And that was fascinating. So not just was I getting to interview someone who was first hand experience of this, and I was about to find out some incredible stories of how she got into and all this kind of thing, but I was also learning about myself as well, on how I was perceiving people. And I started interviewing her, and at first she kind of went into, as I think a lot of people do, they're going to an autopilot answer, and I started digging into her story more and more, and she started to open up. And I think it was because she saw that, again, I was giving her an opportunity to tell her story. I wasn't trying to change it, I wasn't trying to make it titillating, I wasn't trying to say, Oh, you poor girl, I want to rescue you. I was simply sitting there and saying, You tell me your story, how you see it. And after a few minutes, she started to open up. And I don't know whether I was the first person who ever asked her, but it was like this flood of experiences. And not only did I then get to, because she wanted this to get out, and not only did I then get to use this unbelievably powerful audio in my in my piece, but I also got to experience, you know, somewhat, give someone an opportunity to talk, but also got to experience it myself, to really get an insight into something which I had no idea about, and to understand it better. And that, I think, is, to go back to your point about understanding the CEO, to get inside people's minds. And to understand it from their perspective. Not you trying to judge them, not you trying to apply your thought process to them, but to understand a different way of viewing the world is fascinating and highly addictive.

Adrienne MacIain 29:36

Yes, it is, highly.

Richard Midson 29:38

It is interesting. People are fascinating. They have, you know, even the most boring person has incredible stories when you start to dig in.

Adrienne MacIain 29:49


Richard Midson 29:49

When they feel they have permission to talk, they have incredible stories, every single person out there. And that's one of my things now, in a way, is that one of the things that frustrated me in radio was that you used to have, we had this phrase called rent-a-quote. So these were people that you would, if you needed to fill some airtime, you would pick up the phone, you knew they'd always be available. Right? You knew you would get a quote. So you'd end up covering the same stories, the same people over and over again. And yet you knew there was so many other people out there with amazing stories that should be being told. And, it's a bit like good podcasting, you know, the opportunity we're getting here to talk. Now, we don't have to have millions of pounds to set up a radio station, and nor do other podcasters, and this is why it's so exciting to me now, podcasting, the fact that so many people can tell their stories, and express themselves. So it's, that comes from my journalism class. I want more people to be heard. And it's...anyway, there we go.That's one of my real bugbears. That's one of the things I want more people to do and tell their stories.

Adrienne MacIain 30:59

I have so many questions for you. So what was the most challenging part of journalism for you? We've talked a lot about, you know, how the parts of it that just flowed for you and were easy. What were the parts that were a little more challenging for?

Richard Midson 31:12

You know, the first thing that came to my head was the hours. It is, journalism is not a job, it's a lifestyle. So in other words,I remember when the 911 attacks happened I was on the dentist's chair, having my teeth done. And the receptionist came in and said, Oh, you've got to hear what's just happened. And I can't remember, I think I was meant to start at three o'clock in the afternoon that day. We all just went to work, even people on holiday, even people off sick, we all just went to work. And it's that sort of thing. It doesn't matter. You don't start at nine in the morning and finish at five. It's the whole time. If if someone rings you up with a great story at 10 o'clock at night and you're about to get to bed, you get your clothes on, you go out on it. And if you're not interested in that, you're not going to make it as a journalist. But, because of the nature of the fact you're in speaking to such amazing people, it doesn't feel like a job. It's so fascinating to, you know, to be doing that stuff. But the hours, the prime shift that you want to do if you're if you're in radio is to be on breakfast. Well, that meant that every morning I got up at 10 past three in the morning, I had a cab that picked me up outside my house at ten past four, drove me an hour to work. And so you get home in the evening, and in theory, you kind of think well, if you need eight hours sleep, then I should be going to bed at seven o'clock at night, but you wanted some evening in the summer. So I used to try and break up my night's sleep, I'd have four hours and then try and have another four hours. At the time I was trying to do a of bit martial arts training. And I was at a session one night, and this is when I really realized it was just getting too much, I was at a training session one night and I collapsed. Because I was just absolutely physically and emotionally exhausted. So that's the hardest thing about it. It's incredibly exciting, incredibly fun. And I think as podcasters we can do exactly the same thing, but because we don't have to deliver every single day, we don't have to burn ourselves out to the same extent. We can still interview amazing people and do amazing things and go amazing places. I would say that's the hardest part that I never really found a way to cope with.

Adrienne MacIain 33:34

So what would you say is one of your most productive mistakes?

Richard Midson 33:37

Ooh, what a question. Probably cutting off those 10 people that day at the at the travel agency.

Adrienne MacIain 33:47


Richard Midson 33:50

If you're working in the travel agency right now, I don't recommend you do that if you want to keep your job because managers, I don't know, they don't see it as a productive thing. They're picky like that. I'm trying to think if there's any other big mistakes I have made. I honestly can't think of any. I mean, I think you just have to go on a journey. It's really corny, but there's a phrase which I learned probably in the past 10 years, which is that there's no failure, only feedback. Now it sounds like you know, a really sort of woowoo type phrase, but it is so true.

Adrienne MacIain 34:35

So true.

Richard Midson 34:36

Because, you know, you can only fail if you give up, otherwise it is absolutely impossible to fail.

Adrienne MacIain 34:42

That's right.

Richard Midson 34:43

You can only learn. So, in all my journalism and all the things that I've done since, you just keep learning. It's simply a question of time, isn't it? If you've got enough time to learn something, and enough time to make enough mistakes, you cannot, I mean, it's impossible to fail.

Adrienne MacIain 35:03

So what do you do now?

Richard Midson 35:06

Right now, something completely different.

Adrienne MacIain 35:09

And now for something completely different.

Richard Midson 35:11

Oh, completely. How very Monty Python. Well, I worked, I worked in journalism, but the problem is the money ultimately, even at that level, is still not good enough. So I ultimately left that. I actually set up a YouTube channel about private flying because I had a private pilot's license, I flew a small Cessna, so that was a thing. And that was a lot of fun. We got 1.6 million views over the course of the year. But economically, it didn't make any money, so it just wasn't sustainable. Then I became a partner in a social media firm, so we did blogging. And then I ended up, I was at the back of a room and I bumped into a politician who I'd interviewed once on the radio. And he was the leader of the third largest political party in the European Parliament. And he lives about five minutes away from me. And we got chatting. This is actually, in a way this is another mistake almost that went well. We got chatting and he said, Would you come and have a look at some of my press releases some time? I was like Yeah, fine, whatever. I was quite happy in what I was doing with the social media firm. And I went round to his house, and it was a sunny, sunny afternoon, I sat in his back garden and he gave me this press release, and he said, you know, Could you give me some comments on this? And I knew he had a couple of press officers, and it was, like, whatever. And I just shredded this press release. I said, That's rubbish. I would never use this. That's the story down there. As so often with press releases, they're about two thirds of the way down the story. Never at the top. I just... I don't understand it. Well, I do understand it, because they're written often for companies that want it that way. Well, if you want to get press coverage, you don't write it like that. So I ripped this press release to shreds, and I said, This is rubbish, this is rubbish. Do it like this, do it like this. And then I said to him, you know, sort of, Who wrote this? And he said, I did. So I had basically just mauled his press release. But I didn't, didn't intend it to go anywhere, I didn't think it was gonna go anywhere. And I said, Well, look, this is constructive criticism. If you do it like this next time, the press will probably pick it up. And he said, what would it take to get you on board? What? I'm not looking for a job, you know? Um, so I said, Well, look, I'm quite happy to help you out with odd things, but I don't need a job. So he's like, Okay, well, fine, but can I still contact you every so often? And so over the next, I think, about two years or so, he used to contact me every so often, and I'd give him a bit of advice. And finally the partnership I was in with the social media firm kind of came to a bit of a natural ending. And he finally said, almost exactly at that point, he said, Do you want to come on board again? And I said, Yeah, okay. So I did. So for three years, I worked doing communications for this guy who was the leader of the third largest group in the European Parliament. So I was in Brussels. I was involved in all the European politics, which, you know, I think, even in America, you've heard enough about Brexit. So I was right in the heart of that, and it was absolutely fascinating. And also, actually, from a journalism perspective, from journalism with politics you're always trying to find out stuff of what's going on with a politician. So when you work in politics, you hear the reality. It's kind of scary. But anyway, that's another story. So to hear it from the other side, you know, so there were bits where he was about to go on stage and give some big speech. And we were literally in his hotel room, you know, sitting on the bed, practicing the speeches, and I would be grilling him so that he would be ready for journalists questions, I'd be asking him all kinds of awkward questions. So it was absolutely fascinating to be inside that world. But then to sort of finish up the story, you see, it feels like it's not as interesting, this part of part of my life and the change. But I've always been a techie. Since I was the age of 15 I have written computer code for fun. And to me, it's not about a sort of geeky Oh, I can make a computer work. To me, it was always a puzzle. So with computer code, it's a bit like doing Sudoku. But at the end of it when you've used your brain power, instead of ending up with a piece of paper, which has got numbers and letters all over it or whatever, I've never done Sudoku but I know the concept, with computer code, you write something that then does something, a tool. So I wrote when I was in politics, I wrote this whole sort of political campaign planner that we used in a campaign. When I was in journalism, I had sort of my contacts and who I was talking to, and what leads are needed for which I've written all myself, and I wrote all these different programs. So when we, when Brexit happened, I started to think Right, it's time to express the techie side of me. So I actually joined a company called Automatic, who own And they're basically one of the founders, one of the people who created WordPress. And it's, I work in the sort of web-based, it's a support role. But I do a lot to do with podcasting in there. But it's, I haven't talked much about that, because it's not the sort of public side of me at the moment. But that's what I'm doing at the moment, so I'm working for the firm that do WordPress websites, and I'm in that sort of support role and helping people out, helping them get websites up and running. It's a very different thing. But it's allowing me to express that sort of techie side of me, which is something that I've never expressed in my life, and I wanted to give a try at. And the fact I've got involved in the podcasting side of things, so not so much from the broadcasting, but from the technical side of setting stuff up, has been a really interesting way of me kind of playing with those two sides. That's where I am now.

Adrienne MacIain 41:01

Yeah. Pulling pulling different parts of yourself together.

Richard Midson 41:05

Yeah. The techie and the creative side.

Adrienne MacIain 41:08

Yeah, it's really wonderful when you can integrate that, isn't it?

Richard Midson 41:12

Yeah. It's nice because, I mean, it goes back to that point, I was saying about it I felt more people needed to be heard. Yeah. When you get someone coming through and saying, I want to set up a podcast, I don't tell them I'm doing stuff like this. So I'm just another face to them. Um, and I can help them get that set up. That feels good. Yeah. And I can't then go to them and give them a critique about their podcast. And I can't sort of look at their script and draw a red line through it and say, I used to be a news editor, you know, you should do this, I'm not doing any of that. But the fact I can give them a bit of extra encouragement and say, you know, it sounds really exciting what you're doing, you know, if you put this here, or if you upload this bit of audio there, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. The fact I can help to get someone else underway, that feels good, that really feels good to get someone else expressing their story. And I love that. I just love it. I love encouraging them to try.

Adrienne MacIain 42:06

Yeah. So we're gonna look ahead now. Gonna jump to the future. Okay, so I want you to close your eyes for a moment.

Richard Midson 42:15

I know you asked other people this, and this is the bit I knew it's gonna be the hardest part.

Adrienne MacIain 42:19

Relax, just relax.

Richard Midson 42:21

I'm relaxing.

Adrienne MacIain 42:21

Not scary, not scary.

Richard Midson 42:22

We can probably hit the deep breathing.

Adrienne MacIain 42:29

So now, I have waved my magic wand. And now all of your dreams have come true. And everything that you have always wanted, all your deepest desires have now come to pass. So I just want you to look around. Where are you? What's going on? What do you do in this wonderful, ideal, perfect reality? Just describe it for us. What do you see?

Richard Midson 42:55

Gosh. I sort of, I thought about this and it's sort of feels very fuzzy. It's like when I... I have an Australian partner. I live in the UK and we're planning to move to Australia if the Australian visa office let us in and COVID goes away. And living in Britain, I'm used to pouring with rain all the time. And I, I would love to dream. So it's the whole idea is that it can be anything, isn't it? Anything that you would like if you just let yourself go?

Adrienne MacIain 43:30

Yes. Anything. So just be there. It's not a, you know, get out of your, your intellectual side here. Okay. Get into your heart. You're just looking around and seeing what is. What do you see there? Do you see? What do you feel? Do you feel the sun on your skin?

Richard Midson 43:47

Yes, I do. I can see white sandy beaches. I can see crystal clear water.

Adrienne MacIain 43:52

There we go.

Richard Midson 43:53

I can feel, I can feel myself walking down the beach and my feet going into the water and it being warm water. And there's a couple of islands nearby. So it's probably in a collection of islands. I mean, if this is what, this is, where, again, it's a bit about getting out the way of yourself and just letting yourself float.

Adrienne MacIain 44:17

Let yourself dream. So what do you smell? Do you smell the salt spray? Do you smell flowers?

Richard Midson 44:22

It's not that salty. There's just this warmth in the air. This comfort, you can feel it on your skin all around you. It's that just sort of content, contenting warmth. It's like, um, you fill your finger into that water and that warm, it's not not overly hot, it's just nice. And you can feel the warm breeze on you. So it's not stifling, it's not sort of muggy, it's just a warm breeze. And it just, I can almost imagine that I've got a house. This is what it feels like.

Adrienne MacIain 44:53

It's your house. Walk up to your house. Here it is, what does it look like?

Richard Midson 44:56

It's cut. It's on the edge. It looks out onto the same view. Yeah. So it's probably got a big window. My, probably my office, because I've worked from home for 10 years, I've probably got an office that looks out onto this view. So I can imagine looking up from my computer screen. I'm looking out, instead of in Britain when I'm looking out onto a suburban street pouring with rain, looking out onto this beautiful scene and I can feel myself just sort of (sigh). This feels good.

Adrienne MacIain 45:26

Does anyone else live here with you?

Richard Midson 45:28

Yes, my partner. Yeah, definitely.

Adrienne MacIain 45:32

Beautiful. What else? What brings you meaning in this space? What do you do that brings you meaning?

Richard Midson 45:46

It's funny from what all the stuff we're just talking about. Again, it's a bit like you saying that you felt you could never make money out of creativity. If there was a way of me to help people express themselves through maybe my experiences or this whole thing, again, about getting people to either podcast or, or somehow, but just to kind of push them over the edge so that they will start to tell these interesting stories and not just... you know, I know you do this too, and it's like, as I say, even the most boring person has got amazing stories inside them, if you can bring it out of them or encourage them to try. And I would, if I could make money doing... I suppose if I could actually make money doing that, helping people and encouraging people to come out of their skin, and make enough money, compared to kind of what I'm doing now, which pays quite well, that would be amazing. That would be absolutely amazing. You know, but, you know, you see all these kind of speakers doing these sorts of things. And it's, you know, I can't see myself doing that. But it's probably in exactly the same way as I can't see, well, you know, I didn't have what it took to be a journalist. So who knows?

Adrienne MacIain 47:03

So I want you to just okay, allow yourself for a moment to see yourself doing that. That's what you do. You coach people, you help people, bring people out of their shells, you teach them what you know about how to speak publicly, right? How to share their stories in a way that really resonates with an audience, you have those skills. So just put yourself in that moment of this is what you do. And I want you to see yourself actually working with a client and their struggling with something.

Richard Midson 47:35

You know what, I don't think it would be a single client. So when you were saying that, there, an image was appearing as you were saying it. It is, I am on the stage. Well no, I'm not on the stage actually, it started off as a stage. I started off on the stage. And I started a presentation. And I just walked straight down into the audience and started interacting with people. And I probably have a, actually, I probably got a microphone in my hand, I'm going out to the person I think is the least likely to talk or want to talk, and I'm sticking the microphone in front of them, and I'm getting them to talk. And everyone in our audience is going wow, that was an amazing story.

Adrienne MacIain 48:12


Richard Midson 48:13

I mean, imagine if you could! Yeah, I know. But I don't know when you could honestly make, I don't know whether you can make enough money from it to survive. But what an amazing feeling that would be, to get someone out of their shell.

Adrienne MacIain 48:26

But that's the limiting belief right there that you just have to get rid of.

Richard Midson 48:29

Yeah, you're right!

Adrienne MacIain 48:29

Just get rid of it. So I want you to, if you're in this, you're doing this, you're walking around, you're talking to people, you put microphones in their faces. What was the step just before this? How did you set this up? How did you set up this thing that you're doing? The workshop or presentation? What did you do?

Richard Midson 48:48

Probably... it's funny this, isn't it? How things pop into your head when you start doing this? I don't know where they would lead on directly, but I could, I remember going to a meet up event in London. And it was a fairly small event. But there was a few people there speaking about things they knew about, it was a kind of a mix of stuff. And I didn't speak, I just went along and just watched. But I could have done, I could have joined in, I could have spoken. And I could imagine getting up an event like that and speaking and talking about, you know, journalism. And as I say, until today, I haven't, apart from friends, I have never said all this stuff that I've just said to you, right? And it's like, you know, I don't know, I mean, people listening to this now, I don't know whether they're, you know, whether they go Oh my gosh, I wish you'd shut up, or whether they feel any inspiration from what I've said. But if something that I've said inspires, and I could do that same again and be at that event and talk and inspire someone there and someone in the audience is kinda like, You know what, I'd love you to do that another event. Could you come to our event and do it? And I was like, Well, yes. Oh, so why not? I turn up and do it like, Wow, this is amazing. And someone says, Would you like to come along to my event? And I could see that could lead somewhere. And the funny thing about that is, I think, even if the money wasn't as good, or even if it wasn't even there, I don't think I'd be able to resist.

Adrienne MacIain 50:22


Richard Midson 50:23

It would be too much fun to be able to get people to just, and again, not just standing at the front and talking about myself, but to get out there. And to actually, while I'm there, get people talking.

Adrienne MacIain 50:36

Yeah. Cause here's this thing, Richard, Richard, your gifts are yours alone. Nobody else has them. So if you're not giving your gifts, the world doesn't have them.

Richard Midson 50:51

Yes, good point. Yeah, yes.

Adrienne MacIain 50:55

So I don't mean to lecture you, I know you're, what you're doing is fulfilling in its own way right now, I just want you to really stop limiting yourself with that belief that you can't make money doing what your gift really is. And you know it is.

Richard Midson 51:11

You know, this is such dangerous stuff.

Adrienne MacIain 51:13

I know.

Richard Midson 51:13

Because I'm the kind of person that so much in the past, when I got out of my way, I went and did stuff. And it's like, Ah, there's a real danger, I might start trying to look into this.

Adrienne MacIain 51:27

Oh, I'm doing my evil fingers right now.

Richard Midson 51:34

But I love the way you do this. And like I say, I've heard your other podcasts, and hearing your other guests when they start sort of thinking about it. And I was wondering how I was going to react when you did this to me. And it's it is fascinating. You just start to go into this kind of visualization and things pop up in your head. You start seeing things. That's quite interesting.

Adrienne MacIain 51:52

Yeah. So I want you to hold on to that vision. I want you to solidify for yourself, there's this vision of you on the beach. But there's also this vision of you in your office looking out at the beach. And there's a vision of you, with the microphone, talking to people, getting shy people to come out of their shell. So I want you to kind of have a little mental slideshow, where you have these little images, okay. If there's a piece of music that goes along with that for you, I find that super helpful. Even if it's just a short piece, or if it's just a type of music. For me, that's kind of the secret sauce. And every morning for 15 seconds. I play music, and I show this little slideshow to myself. And it just sets the tone for my day.

Richard Midson 52:45

I'm trying to think what music I would listen to.

Adrienne MacIain 52:48

Well, think about it. I'm sure I'm sure it'll come to you.

Richard Midson 52:56

Gosh, that's really interesting, and you really stumped me on that one because it's like, you naturally sort of think to yourself well, should it be some kind of motivational-sounding music, but then at the same time that feels cheesy.

Adrienne MacIain 53:07


Richard Midson 53:07

And it's something that connects with you is what you're saying, isn't it?

Adrienne MacIain 53:10


Richard Midson 53:12

It's almost, part of me wonders if a sound effect would work. Like sound of the sea.

Adrienne MacIain 53:18

Yeah, waves. That's a big one. Hmm. Or just people talking? You know?

Richard Midson 53:23

Yeah, yeah.

Adrienne MacIain 53:24

That sound of, you know, when you're about to go on stage, you're about to present and you hear people just chit-chatting in the audience, that's a big one for me.

Richard Midson 53:31


Adrienne MacIain 53:32

Yeah. It's sounds, smells, these things. You know, we think about visuals a lot, but we don't necessarily think about the audio portion, and, you know, the smell and taste portion of things. So the more you can layer in more senses, the more real it becomes. And the more you can really see yourself in that and go Oh, this seems possible. Why wouldn't this be possible? And you start to see paths toward it. Doors start to just open up.

Richard Midson 54:05

I think the sound effects actually is more me, the more I think about it. Because if you shut your eyes and hear the sound you're kind of taken there, aren't you? Hmm. I will give that a try.

Adrienne MacIain 54:21


Richard Midson 54:22

Boss knows what's gonna happen now if I try, though.

Adrienne MacIain 54:25

I can't wait to find out what's gonna happen and folks at home, if you found this inspiring, please let Richard know. So Richard, where can they find you?

Richard Midson 54:36

Well, at the moment, I mean, I don't have a business doing this or anything like that. I'm not a coach. I'm not anything like that. I am literally, I'm quite happily working for the firm that I work for at the moment. But I mean, a little bit about me, my sort of bio, so to speak, is just literally That's Richard m i d s o And that's literally it. So there's a bit of, I mean, you've heard it all today on this show, there's a little bit about me there. But if you want to get in contact, then please do, I'd love to hear from you.