MF 161 : Moving Forward with Content, Context, and Compassion
Updated: Apr 23
Nicole Behnam is a journalist and co-founder of Beyond the Interview Today, Nicole will share how putting context into content can drive change and inspire your followers to move forward.
Successes at a glance:
Co-founder, Beyond The Interview
Nicole started out as a journalism major in college. She was warned by everyone that “there’s no money in it.” Nicole eventually pivoted to public relations and after college, she started writing for The Jewish Journal while launching a PR firm. The PR firm didn’t last so Nicole went back to writing as a freelance journalist. Simultaneously, Nicole tried to break into media. Nicole started doing red carpet interviews and writing articles for The Hollywood Reporter. Nicole later transitioned into digital marketing as a copywriter for small businesses. While the money was better in copywriting, she missed interviewing people. Fast forward to last year. Nicole meets her now business partner, Mari, and the two of them decide to team up and launch Beyond The Interview. The two of them decided to make their tagline as truthful as possible: “we don’t know sh*t.” Nicole shares that this was a freeing experience and empowered them to connect with those who are experts in so many fields while differentiating themselves from so many other blogs and media sites out there. Truly, a remarkable story of moving forward.
Nicole’s big why:
At the heart of it, Nicole is very curious about people. Nicole wants to give people “the microphone,” metaphorically, and allow them to share their stories in context. The way Nicole is moving forward with this goal is to interview experts: not only those with industry credentials such as lawyers, doctors, engineers but those that are experts from life experience. An example Nicole shares is a meth addict who has recovered and started his or her own business. In many ways, that person is more of an expert on addiction and recovery than the psychiatrist who evaluated him.
Biggest challenge today:
The biggest challenge is making Beyond The Interview unique in a sea of journalism, blogs and media sites. The other challenge is honing their time and efforts so that they don’t spread themselves too thin. Nicole has a wide array of interests from social issues to entrepreneurship to entertainment. Nicole is a consumer of so many different media so when it comes to creating content there is a virtual buffet of topics that Nicole can address but only so many hours in the day.
Moving forward past that challenge:
Nicole focuses her big why by putting content into context. To accomplish this, Nicole makes it uncomfortable by sometimes asking the deep questions that a lot of interviewers will avoid. Nicole will also open up about something personal in her own life to give that added context to the conversation. Nicole owns talks the talk and walks the walk and that’s how she continues to move forward.
Favorite media resource that helped Nicole move forward:
Gary Vaynerchuk: Nicole shares that Gary Vee and his content is what she has needed since childhood!
Favorite app, website, or productivity practice for moving forward in writing:
Quora: Nicole’s gets tons of ideas from other people’s questions. Nicole not only reads the questions but sees which ones are trending and this gives her a metric on topics that are current or in-demand.
Adobe Spark: create customized posts for social media with great templates that are customized for each platform.
How Nicole is moving forward today:
To do list: Nicole makes it a point to hand write her to do lists. It helps forge a visceral connection to her priorities.
On Nicole’s to do list for today:
Pitch a story to Vice.
Edit a video on a filmmaker who created a documentary on medical clowns.
Support the Podcast:
The Corporate Cliches Adult Coloring Book: makes the perfect stocking stuffer or white elephant gift.
Try out Audible (affiliate link).
Try out Amazon Prime (affiliate link).
Who is Nicole in five years?:
Nicole will be using her platform to speak on issues that interest her and make an impact. Nicole wants to inspire change in someone’s life thru her writing and thru her questions. Ultimately, she wants to connect an audience thru relatable stories of individuals so they can be inspired. Finally, Nicole wants to spark a movement for kids and teenagers to enjoy reading books, listening to podcasts, and be curious about the world.
Advice from future Nicole (bonus question):
Nicole shares that she has conversations with her future self thru letters that she writes with advice from her future self on how to handle current struggles.
Today’s advice from future Nicole: don’t care what people think. Care how they feel. As long as you’re not hurting anyone’s feelings and you’re being a good person, you shouldn’t care what other people think.
“People should know the weird thing about journalism and blogging is that people can write whatever they want. That means they can write any headline, find the data to support their narrative or claim and suddenly people will take it as fact. So I do try to write without bias but I also try to read without being so gullible. So you have to be a critical reader and I think that’s very important to know if you’re going to be a consumer of anything being delivered on the internet. I think something else that I’ve learned this year: your work ethic will impress you if you finally decide to do something you love … My work ethic is so much stronger because I love what I do.”