Omid Farhang on Ending His Popular Podcast

Plus, what the Majority founder learned from some of the world's most creative people

If we're the ones breaking the news to you, sorry, but Omid Farhang is hanging up his headphones, packing away his mic and ending his popular podcast Talking to Ourselves.

Since creating the podcast six years ago, Farhang, the founder and CEO of Majority, has hosted creative conversations with some of the biggest names in advertising, production and beyond. Notables include Ricardo Viramontes, chief creative officer of The Springhill Co.; Ryan Reynolds and George Dewey of Maximum Effort; Kristen Cavallo, CEO of The Martin Agency; and director Paul Hunter, co-founder of Prettybird.

While this is far from a career eulogy (Farhang is still up to exciting things at Majority), his presence in the podcasting space will be sorely missed. An enthusiastic and knowledgeable interviewer, he always brought out the best in his subjects and even passed the mic from time to time, allowing guest hosts to lead conversations.

Here, Farhang explains why he is ending the show and reveals what he's learned after 73 episodes.

MUSE: In your farewell podcast, you say your gut and heart are telling you to close out the most enlightening undertaking of your professional life. But I am sure I am speaking for your listeners when I ask: What if your gut and heart are wrong?

Omid Farhang: According to the New England Journal of Medicine, trying to answer this question is the leading cause of cancer among middle-aged Persian men from Tucson. But thank you for flattering me.

If you do, in fact, realize your gut and heart are wrong at some point, or if your fans lobby for your return hard enough, is there any possibility that you will re-enter the podcasting world?

I'm humbled by my small but loyal fan base, but I think you overestimate their intensity. If I'm wrong? Spotify, hook a brother up with one of them Joe Rogan deals!

Can you tell me why you are ending the podcast now?

Six years is a long time. I'm stopping before it goes from a labor of love to a labor of obligation; obligation is low-grade fuel that eventually harms the vehicle. As I took a step back and reflected on the body of work in totality, it felt to me like a task completed.

Who is the one person you were dying to interview but didn't get? And why didn't you land that guest?

I wanted to interview [Apple marketing chief] Tor Myhren, but Apple is impenetrable. I wasn't quite cool enough to land Maverick Carter. I wish I interviewed Spike Lee, Spike Jonze, Scott Galloway, Flo from Progressive—not joking. Dreaming crazy? Michael Jordan.

And say you could get that elusive interview now, would that be enough reason for you to start doing your podcast again?

If Michael Jordan absolutely insists, sure. 

Creative people, even at the highest levels, can be fearful of speaking openly even about things that seem minor for fear of offending clients. People were pretty honest with you. How were you able to break down those walls?

The best creative starts with truth. So, it's only natural that the best creatives generally operate from a place of truth that permeates their being, and [being] in the right conditions almost involuntarily forces their candor.

Not to sound trite, but to get honest answers, ask questions from a place of honest curiosity—as you're doing here. When asked some obligatory shit about the state of the industry, or the future of AI, most creatives will answer like a Miss America contestant freestyling a Ted Talk. Blah blah blah.

But when asked about a beloved mentor, or a trajectory-altering campaign, or a fateful professional crossroads, most creatives have to meet that energy with a vulnerable answer reserved for, say, a dinner party with close friends. That was the energy I was striving for.    

Can you cite an example or two of things you learned?

For me, the enduring lesson of the pod is best summed up by what's known as The Stockdale Paradox: We must never confuse faith that we will prevail in the end, which we can never afford to lose, with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of our reality—whatever they may be. Or as David Lubars put it: "The only way to make great work is to crawl over glass on your hands and knees."

When we enter a creative endeavor accepting that it's going to be hard, we're better able to access our reserves of persistence and perseverance that will carry us across the finish line to our desired outcome. 

What did you get out of having this creative outlet that was all your own? Why was it rewarding?

The nature of our work requires so much compromise, second-guessing, devil's advocacy. To have this one thing powered just by my own curiosity and where every decision was mine, helped me build up confidence in my instincts that positively bled into other facets of my life. Looking back, the small entrepreneurial act of starting a podcast was my unwitting gateway to the big entrepreneurial act of starting a company.

And now that the podcast is over, have you set your sights on a new creative outlet that's just for you?

Majority is the outlet, the inlet, all the "lets."

Any advice for someone who wants to start their own podcast about marketing?

Be niche. Add value. Create a repeatable format that fits your personality. Lower your expectations.

If you have yet to listen to the farewell episode of Talking to Ourselves, you can find it on Apple, Spotify and wherever else you normally listen to the podcast. Teaser: A special guest drops in at the end to ask Farhang the three questions he usually asks his guests.  

Christine Champagne
Muse contributor Christine Champagne is a writer based in NYC.

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