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The Creative Nonfiction Podcast with Brendan O'Meara


Dec 21, 2018

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Welcome my CNFin’ buddy, how are YOU, doing? I’m @BrendanOMeara, Brendan O’Meara in real life and this is @CNFPod, or The Creative Nonfiction Podcast, the show where I speak to badass writers, filmmakers, and producers about the art and craft of telling true stories. If you want to get better at the form, you’ve come to the right place. This is our little corner of the Internet. If you’re here for the first time, welcome, welcome, crack open a notebook, pour yourself a cup of coffee and settle in, CNFers. Where to start, where to start? My guest is Debbie Millman. Yes, you heard that correctly. Your ears did not deceive you. I didn’t bother digging too deep into Debbie’s origin story because there are several podcasts where she dives into that and I wanted to spare her from repeating herself. Maybe I was too timid in that regard, but I figured I’d steer the ship toward other things. At this point in the introduction is usually where I riff …. on what’s going on, maybe offer some insights into how you can improve your work by sharing something I find helpful. But...sometimes the most helpful thing is getting the cuss out of the way. In 17 words Debbie Millman is a writer, designer, educator, artist, brand consultant, and host of the podcast Design Matters. But in a single word? Debbie is an inspiration. She made a name for herself as a graphic designer and branding guru after years and years of rejections, failures, and false starts. She’s persistent sometimes, she admits, to a fault. Her writing is tight and playful. It’s deep, meaningful, resonant, and beautiful to look at as most of her essays are illustrated in her whimsical way of inking and penciling. As for her career in branding, If you’ve seen the Burger King logo, various Pepsi products, Tropicana, Haagen Daas, and Twizzlers (totally twisted) then you’ve seen her work. If it makes the supermarket look prettier, odds are Debbie had a hand in that. She was the president of Sterling Brands for 20 years, and under her stewardship grew the company from 15 employees to 150. But after a decade of being a titan in her field, from 1995 to 2005, often at the expense of her own creative projects, her writing, her drawing, her painting, she was granted the opportunity to host an internet radio program that, I must add, she had to pay to produce, called Design Matters. This was in 2005. 14 years later and she’s still doing it and for my money she, along with Joe Donahue of WAMC Northeast Public Radio, are the best interviews around. I have a reason for this and I talk about this with Debbie. She has interviewed Milton Glaser, Malcolm Gladwell, Anne Lamott, Seth Godin, Shepard Fairey, and hundreds more. Design Matters is a testament to her endurance and generosity. It wasn’t until she had done the show for several years that it really began to gain traction, win awards, and become the behemoth that it is today. I could go on and on and I must apologize for my titanic nerves in this episode. I mean I suffer from them all the time, but this one was especially bad, for that I’m sorry, but getting the chance to speak to Debbie for nearly an hour was such an esteemed an honor that I had trouble keeping my you know what together. You made it this far so I must say thanks for listening. I do this for you guys so you know that even the best of the best deal with the same bullshit we’re all dealing with. If you haven't already, consider subscribing to the show on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or Stitcher and subvert the algorithms across the social platforms. If you liked the show, share it with just one friend. Email them the link or share it on social media. And tag me @BrendanOMeara and @CNFPod so I can toast to your awesomeness. Consider leaving an honest review on iTunes as well. I want to see it hit 100 ratings. We’re gonna get there in 2019, but it starts with you. If you have five minutes to spare, please give the show some love. I also have a monthly newsletter where I send out my reading recommendations, cool articles, and anything you might have missed from the world of the podcast. Once a month. No spam. Can’t beat it. Thanks to our sponsors in Goucher College’s MFA in Nonfiction as well as Creative Nonfiction Magazine.