Episode 61 – Aaron Kearney | Journalist & Director of AKS Media

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In this episode I chat with Aaron Kearney, a multi-award-winning broadcaster, photo-journalist, and sports commentator. The Director of AKS Media International, Aaron is in demand across the globe for his experience in broadcasting, commentary, storytelling and innovation.

We cover a range of topics during this episode, including sports and the similarities between the game of sport and the game of life, being a student of humanity, the importance of critical thinking, and unpacking the use of media and the effects it has on human beings.

Key episode highlights include:

  • You’ve heard ‘you are what you eat’ – well you also are what you consume in the media. Put some fibre in your intellectual diet.
  • Two of the most critical resources that any individual can have is to understand and execute critical thinking, and to have high levels of media literacy.
  • Journalism is about being infinitely interested in everything – like a Labrador puppy!

We’ll leave you with Aaron’s poetic description of Inspired Energy,
It is the offspring produced when dreams and determination have a passionate affair.

To connect further with Aaron and his incredible work, find him on TwitterInstagramFacebook and LinkedIn.

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Murray Guest  00:01

So Aaron, welcome to the podcast. I am excited to be chatting to you today. My memory of you goes back a long way, early 90s watching you cover my brother’s rally stories on sport on prime. And then over the years, we’ve connected a range of times and of course, they’re being listened to you on the ABC and now you’ve moved on to doing different things, mate, how are you?


Aaron Kearney  00:28

The answer to that changes almost on a minute by minute basis at the moment, but I don’t think I’m Robinson Crusoe there. I think everybody at the moment, is a short walk from a rooster to a feather duster and back again. But no, I’m great. And actually, for all of the challenges, and there have been many in recent times on it’s given me lots of cause for celebration and lots of cause for calibrating how fortunate my circumstances are, you know, I wouldn’t want to be an eighty year old woman in a fifth floor walk up in northern Italy right now put it that way.


Murray Guest  01:06

Yeah, well, I think that we were just talking off air before we started the podcast about that gratitude and perspective. And that’s something that I’ve certainly, I’d like to have gained more of this year, and the clients I work with, they’re talking about that as well. And appreciating those little things in life. So for you, and this past couple of, you know, months actually feels like years. I don’t know how long it’s been


Aaron Kearney  01:28

Same sort of thing the other day saying, I can’t believe how young I look in photos from this morning. Yeah, so that


Murray Guest  01:39

it is a bit like that. Tony told me on your you know, your gratitude list or perspective list at the moment? What’s at the top, what are you really appreciating at the moment?


Aaron Kearney  01:47

Yeah, it’s interesting that you say that, because at least part of the lockdown experience has been, I feel like me personally. And as a family. In some ways, we’ve been training for this in a perverse way. In, for example, each night, when we sit around the table, we actively have, we go around the table and do somebody who’s in my thoughts and something that I’m thankful for. And recently, we’ve added in a success that I had today, because of its excesses might have been a bit feeling public. So we’ve done that as, as a ritual. And it is really a ritual. I mean, obviously, the five year old begins a certain kind of answer and, but what it does is it momentarily makes you get out of yourself and the business of life and actually take a drone I view with only for 30 seconds. And so we’ve done that system, medically over time. And now it suddenly feels really important and really functional and whatever. And so look, without diving too deep on philosophy too early in our chat, I live my life with a series of benchmarks. And I look at my imaginary perfect scenario, and my imaginary horror scenario. And if I do that, I’m generally running about an eight and a half or a nine out of 10 at any given point. And that remains true even in the challenging circumstances. So I’m very lucky to live in Australia, both practically, you know, we have more sunshine, and it’s easier to socially distance, and there’s state recreation area, you know, 500 meters from my home, all of those sorts of things. And then, you know, there’s the the freedom that we have here, there’s all of those sorts of things. The people who are locked down with I’m quite fond of everybody’s experience.


Murray Guest  03:54



Aaron Kearney  03:55

And you know, and I am healthy. And on some level, I’m afraid of COVID. But as with all things in life, I feel like I’ve, I’ve given myself the best chance of surviving it if it comes my way. So, I mean, I’m thankful on every single level.


Murray Guest  04:13

Yeah, I appreciate that. And I think this is very similar party self appreciation, and even that preparation for right now. As a family, we have been connecting more over dinner, and we used to play the alphabet game every night and different things. We’ve started topic jar. So topic jar is at night, which everyone throws a piece of paper with one topic in it into the jar, and then we draw one out and then you’ve got a week to prepare and then present that back to the family. And we’ve had a whole range of topics from why mullets are cool through to black holes and where do they come from? So it’s like a big range. But again, it’s that connection with family, which, you know, is one of those little things I think that I’m hearing a lot of people really appreciating right now and and it Like you, I’m happy with who I’m connected with and, and within the, in the home. Yeah. Um, so is there anything you’re missing?


Aaron Kearney  05:11

Ah, yeah, I mean, I miss travel my entire life was travel in 2019, I had, arguably the best and most successful year of my life, I worked in 22 countries, I went to Oxford, I went to a world cup, we created all sorts of history that I had that I had, I knew 2020 was not going to be able to top 2019 I didn’t think it would get so far under the bar of 2019. So, um, you know, I miss my life, I had a really, really good life. And it doesn’t mean as I’ve just said, it doesn’t mean I hate my life now, doesn’t mean I’m miserable. I’m not. But there was a lot of awesome about my existence that has ceased to be at the moment. But again, that’s a very selfish or inward looking way of doing it. You know that. There’s also 50,000 people in the US right now, who wish they had my things to complain about, you know, so yeah, yeah, I’m so awkward picture. Yes, I missed it. Yes, I miss Tara, I do miss terribly. And at times, like, let me put it this way, I was talking to a friend the other day. And this is said, without judgment of other people, this is just about me. If life is a poker table, right. And in February 2020, we’re all sitting around, some people had $50 worth of chips on the table. And some people had $100,000 worth of chips on the table. And so therefore, if you lose the hand of 2020, some people lost more than others. So I feel like I had a really fat stack of chips that went away from me in the last couple of months.


Murray Guest  06:58

Yeah, and, and I think what I know from you is that you really appreciated the work you’re doing last year and the travel, and maybe now it’s like, I appreciate it even more,


Aaron Kearney  07:09

Unquestionably. And part of the buisiness of all of that was you were in the car driving at a high speed the whole time. I’m talking metaphorically. And so those moments are paused. Why do I love it? What am I achieving? What is my motivation? there perhaps wasn’t a lot of time for that reflection. And I have certainly had, I mean, this is going to sound absurd, but I mean, we were watching a TV series. The other weekend, there was like an international diplomat who landed and was met in a car and driven and then met with the politicians about, and I was sitting there in my underpants. Because that was me. So yeah, you know, there’s, if you have been fortunate enough, and yet, it’s hard work and all that sort of thing. But there’s also a hell of a lot of fortune. If you’ve been fortunate enough to carve out a life that you enjoy. And then obviously, you’re going to miss it when it goes away.


Murray Guest  08:23

Yeah, I very similar to you. I do it was doing a fair bit of travel with clients around the place last year, I doubt 


Aaron Kearney  08:28

I would often see your backside disappearing out of William down airport. 


Murray Guest  08:33

Well, I don’t miss the train trip to Sydney, Particularly one on the way home. Now I just want to talk a bit about that fantastic work you’re doing in the Pacific. Just to help everyone understand the impact and the type of work you’re doing the Pacific and how Sport and Sport journalism was making such a difference. Help us understand what that means to the people of the region that,


Aaron Kearney  08:57

Yeah, it’s the actual logistics and the process. And all of that is complicated to explain. I know my mom gets frustrated, because she used to be able to say he’s on the TV, or he’s on the radio. And everyone understood now it’s quite difficult for me to explain what I do. But basically, I had a number of prongs to my work. I was in and M in, even though on the holding pattern in international media development. So that manifests in a range of different ways. So earlier this year, for example, I was in vanderwaal to teaching mobile journalism. So if you’re on a remote island, like the ones that were just hit by tropical cyclone Herald, how can you create some cohesive news coverage and get it back to home base that they can then be distributed to the world? So international media development from a sport perspective, it was for example, last year, we did the first indigenous Pacific language coverage, so we need a guy and bislama have a Women’s World Cup so I trained those commentators and took them to France. That’s what it looks like their sports deployed. So for example, in the last week, I’ve been involved in scripting, some stuff for the young Matilda’s who have done a diplomatic outreach to the victims in the Pacific, not only of COVID but also of how there’s the international sports development stuff and we can get into that if you would like that. People who there is a nuanced distinction between sports development and sports for development and very briefly the tweet version is this sports development is when you go to Tonga and see 120 kilos highly athletic Jonah Lomu style 15 year olds, right? And you go, I’m gonna get him for the Auckland warriors, or I’m gonna get him for the Newcastle Knights, and then you bring them out, put them on a wage program, get them patient, that’s sports development. Right? So, who is building a new grandstand in Vanuatu that is also sports development. sport for development is where you create a school’s program where eight year old boys play against eight year old girls, I’ll give you a perfect example. I’ve just done a social video in my earlier trip to Vanuatu, they have a program called spider ball, which is modified water polo. And essentially, the game incentivizes equality, you know, unless the girls are involved, you know, do as well blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. So it is using sport to develop a society. And so I’ve been involved in a in the delivery of that, but overwhelmingly in the communication, your face and communication. So if you’re in walger, you can see how your tax dollars are at work in something like this. And if you’re in Korea bus, you can learn about how disability sport is changing people’s lives. So Geez, if that was the tweet version, you wouldn’t want the war version. But yeah, you can see why it’s complicated. Yeah, but


Murray Guest  12:00

I can also, I feel like it’s a much more in depth sort of program. Like you’re saying, yes, it’s important to identify natural talent and develop that in someone and give them every opportunity to achieve their level of performance. But I’ll be honest, the second part of that story is a bit that gives me the tingles, that’s the bit that lights me up. Because that’s got this, this ripple effect. It’s called longevity. It’s impacting societies and communities. I bet you get the buzz when you’re over there doing that,


Aaron Kearney  12:33

Hugely so. And it’s addictive in a number of ways. To pick up the thread that you just said there, though, the why it matters so much is because in this post colonial environment, in this era of identity, and egalitarianism, which is entirely appropriate, sport, music is another and food is another but they’re not my expertise. Sport is a language that is ostensibly egalitarian, it’s mano a mano, it isn’t fair for a whole heap of reasons, you know, from drug use, or nutrition programs or training to coaching levels to facility, right, but it is ostensibly 13 on 13 men Oh, man, oh, woman Oh, a woman? Oh, yeah. Yeah. And, and so it, it is a way to communicate through a mechanism that is not speaking down or speaking up. It’s right. So it’s very powerful in that regard. It is also a delightful parable for all of the big lessons of life, sometimes you play really well and lose, right? Sometimes it’s all about you shining as an individual, sometimes it’s about you playing your role in it, right. So all of the things that we love about the sport and equally applicable in that environment. So there’s all of that. And then, for me, personally, I made documentaries in Africa 20 plus years ago. And that went away because of the Asian currency crisis and whatever that was, where our money was coming from. But I always dreamed of going back into that developing space. But until digital disruption, I wasn’t a doctor or a teacher. So there was no value in my skill set. It’s only been in the last few years that my skill set has been marketable or valuable in those environments. And so I’ve looked at the chance to go back.


Murray Guest  14:41

Yeah, and I know that when you and I were talking about this conversation about pivoting and the pivot you’ve made from being a journalist to the type of work you do now. And actually, I know that when you did those documentaries in South Africa, you had some interesting moments.


Aaron Kearney  14:57

Oh, but yeah, I mean, we got, I spent Christmas Day, or I bought the same the year but I spent Christmas day there was a series of civil wars. The Sudan’s hadn’t split at that point, for example. And essentially, we were at a border, there was all sorts of confusion. We nearly died on a number of occasions, we had a lot of gunplay, and essentially, we were stamped out of one country. And then there was a no man’s own minefield to the next country. And we couldn’t get across it. So we spent Christmas Day effectively unassigned citizens citizens that have been stabbed out of one country and not into another. And we actually got to the other country by following goat herders through the minefield because they knew where the landmines were, and we’re not more importantly, well, and so we followed them through. I mean, yeah, there was lots of hairy moments. And like, I say to people, it was simultaneously one of those experiences because the wind for months was, we were to give context, we were making documentaries about an expedition that was the first in history to go from the Cape of Good Hope. So the, the very bottom of South Africa, to Alexandria, which is on the Mediterranean Sea. So in Egypt, so we went the full length of Africa entirely off road, and your extraordinary experience terrifying. If at any point, at any point, you would come at me and said, there’s a chopper, do you want to go home on a jumped on that thing in a heartbeat?


Murray Guest  16:43



Aaron Kearney  16:44

So I was scared, and it was so deadly. And I genuinely thought we were coming home. Having got through it, it was the formative experience of my life, probably.


Murray Guest  16:56

I this may be hard for you to wrap up in a statement because I admire your ability to communicate. What on reflection now of that formative process, and you know, the journey you went on? What’s something that you’ve taken from that for the rest of these years to to now?


Aaron Kearney  17:17

Yep, I can give you I think, a succinct answer to that. And that is that our way is not the only way. That is to say, as you move through life, and it can be people who look and sound very similar, like you and I, who ostensibly have a lot in common, but we move through the world in our own unique ways, well, then that is exponentially more the case if you are in Samoa, or Sudan, or Somalia, or South America. And so essentially, being a journalist, and all of the other work that I’ve done is that I’m just a student of humanity. I just like learning how people work, what drives people. And what I have taken away from that experience, and then leveraged into all of my other travel and all of my other learning is that I want to understand, maybe I am doing things the very best way they can be done. Or maybe I’m just giving them the very best way they can be done for me. Maybe in some wisdom that can be drawn from, you know, 1000s of years of culture, whether it be indigenous or Pacific or African culture. And not only that, I just really want to spend some of my time on the planet, talking to people who aren’t exactly like me.


Murray Guest  18:42

Yeah. So I’ve just now I tell me if I’ve invented this, or I’ve just heard it. As you’re talking, the phrase that pops into my head is magnified curiosity. I feel like you’re already curious. Yet the Curiosity is gone. Let’s go 10 times.


Aaron Kearney  19:00

Let me illustrate your point. back at you with an example. There was when I was working for the ABC, there was a back when the ABC had money. There was a consultant that came from the US. And she said, I’ll let you in on a little secret. There’s really only one rule that we apply, there’s 10 commandments, but it essentially boils down to one rule when we are choosing talent, as they call it, people to talk on the radio or the television or whatever. And she said, You have to be infinitely interested in everything. And she said, You are like a Labrador puppy. You mercy. You. You know, sniff that Not that I’ve ever run around behind that look over the head and say yeah, and I mean, I used to be embarrassed by that level of enthusiasm. I used to try and suppress it. And now I don’t I just own it. And you know, I am what I am and I’m not apologizing for it.


Murray Guest  19:55

So as you know, mate I’m a strength coach, and I focus on strengths and so I’m just hearing your strengths and saying yes embrace that be that that is who you are. I’m wondering that it said dad was a journalist. Was there anything else you wanted to do when you were younger? Or was it following in dad’s footsteps was the path?


Aaron Kearney  20:15

No, he was quite strident in wanting me to not be a journalist. I’m not entirely sure why. I mean, it’s not a way to get rich, I know that much. I mean, I think he had a, a fulfilled and interesting life. So it’s hard. I’ve never actually asked why he didn’t want me to but he was quite enthusiastic for me not to do it.


Murray Guest  20:43

Well, what did you want to do when you were?


Aaron Kearney  20:46

Law, I did work experience at Newcastle courthouse. Yeah. And I really liked the I had a quite romanticized idea of you know, addressing the jury and having the decision overturned, you know, and a bit of time working in Newcastle courthouse squared that out of me real fast.


Murray Guest  21:06

So while you’re doing your work experience at Newcastle courthouse, I was at the Newcastle Herald. 


Aaron Kearney  21:13

Oh, work? Yes, that’s right. I’d forgotten that. 


Murray Guest  21:16

So that was my work experience. You know, wanting Yeah, but I also had long hair I wanted to be Michael Hutchins. So that’s 


Aaron Kearney  21:29

That’s a that’s a fun duel, ambition. Newcastle heralder, Michael Hudson. 


Murray Guest  21:37

So but then obviously law after experiencing that wasn’t for you. And journalism.


Aaron Kearney  21:44

Yeah, I went into comms journalism comms at Newcastle University and got a placement as you had to do work placement. And I turned up at the Maitland Mercury, which was my local paper, and they were lovely. But they basically said, Dude, we haven’t got time to witness you go and find something. So I think I produced like three stories that week. And some the timelines a little blurry. But some months later, they came back at me and said, there’s a good issue.


Murray Guest  22:18

Yeah, great. Yeah. Now I’ve got something that I want to throw at you. And now it’s talking about us catching up. And that is I growing up I thought about journalism as truth. And it’s like when you turned on the radio at six o’clock for the six o’clock news. Sorry, I turn on the radio got the TV. 6pm News, that if you read in the paper, that was the truth. And in recent years, there’s a term of fake news that has started to get thrown about. And there are articles out there which have clickbait and they have this sort of way of you know, sensationalizing whatever’s going on. At bloody frustrates me. Because it’s like, the truth is still there or a perspective on what’s happening, which is a element of truth. But then there’s all this other stuff. I just wonder where it’s going. And I wonder what your thoughts are about where it is now, and where we are going to ensure that integrity of journalism? Sorry, big question


Aaron Kearney  23:26

Yeah, big question and what I’m trying, what I’m trying to do is, pick a pathway that won’t take up the rest of our time. To answer here is my hope rather than my fervent belief, here is this is what I cling to, to address the problem that that you’ve just raised when you get your first job when you’re Michael Hutchinson anycast. All right, and you get your $66 a week, I’m probably showing my age, and you think to yourself, I can eat McDonald’s drive thru three meals a day if I want. And so you do prove it right. And then you wash it down would be that night and after nine months, or 12 months or whatever, and your belly is hanging over your belt and your face is full as its you guys. I don’t know if this is a healthy way forward. For me. I feel like social media is the McDonald’s drive thru and the $66 and that people gorge themselves because they could and it didn’t really matter that you ate some disgusting food from time to time because it wasn’t your lifestyle. But now we’re deep into that process and people are waking up and going, oh my god. If you are what you eat, then you most certainly are what you read and consume in the media. And if I don’t start putting some fiber in my intellectual diet, I am going to be in deep deep trouble when you see people like why even as we are facing a global crisis because we don’t have a vaccination. Why is anti vaccine on the rise? Because facts as you describe them, ceased to have value when information became ubiquitous? Once upon a time information had value that was what you learned. That was my expertise that I had. And I shared with you right? Now you can google everything, there is no mysteries. So information got devalued and emotion got empowered, right? Because the value is I feel something that there’s your angry face on Facebook, right? There’s your happy face. So now everything is emotionally ramped up informationally rent down. That’s how you get this this disproportion. So we find ourselves in a situation where when people feel like they do right now untethered, the world’s out of control, everything I thought I knew is gone. conspiracy theories take hold because they give meaning they tell you that someone’s in control. Right? Are you with the orange? Do you think he’s running the show? Right. So I, what I hope is that I am I am not. I neither the general population nor me particularly has any effect if I continue the food metaphor of eating three Michelin meals every night for our information, listening only to classic FM and reading on the Oscar Wilde, right? Yeah. But at the other end of the scale, if all you are reading is Breitbart, and conspiracy theories and anti vaccine and Instagram influences. My fervent hope is somewhere in the middle, we’re gonna open subway, where you can have some nice choices, some healthy choices at a reasonable access level. And so yeah, I think I feel like flushing through I feel Yeah, to some degree.


Murray Guest  26:50

Yeah, it’s like, well, there’s there’s not a switch. Not that there’s a spectrum here where the pendulum swinging, too, and it’s gonna sit somewhere in between all that,


Aaron Kearney  26:58

And there’s no universal answer either. I’m like, it’s easy to be romantic for that time of facts, right. But as you say, they will somebodies facts. There are indisputable facts. If you walk out of a second floor building, you will plummet to Earth right here. But then there are other things is Scott Morrison doing a good job, you can apply some facts to make your butt ransom. I don’t we don’t need to explain that. But what is easy to romanticize is that there was always boobie magazines, and there was always people and there was always what was the one use of the world or whatever, right? Yeah, garbage has always existed as well. It’s just you had to go looking for the garbage ones. Now the garbage finds here.


Murray Guest  27:40

And I actually think the other big challenges that confirmation bias that’s running, which a lot of people aren’t aware of, but they’ve got and it’s, I’m going to, I’m going to go and look for that data or that information to confirm what I already think. Yeah. And then that feedback loop in that circle.


Aaron Kearney  28:01

And we all are, right, there’s a there’s a there’s a there’s a psychological phenomenon that says what you see is all there is right? If you live in the Philippines, you everybody’s Asian when you say he’s Asian, if you live in Western Sydney, and you your reality looks like united colors of Benetton ad, right? If you live in West walls, and in Newcastle, you think everyone looks like you went on there, right? So. So we all have confirmation bias, where the problem comes is not knowing enough to know what you don’t know. That is to say, I’ve given some of the best years of my life trying to engage people who I really value, but who are doing crazy stuff online because they go well, all I’m saying is why isn’t there a shadow on the flag on the moon? I’m just raising the question. I’m like, No, no, no, no, you don’t get to raise the question. You have to find the answer. You know. 


Murray Guest  29:11

It’s like, I want to throw this thing out there and kick it around, or on a throw it out there and walk away. I’d only want to kick it around.


Aaron Kearney  29:17

Totally. And, and then you say to them, well, that’s utterly disingenuous. No, I’m just I’m just having this. Okay. So you think you’re divorced from your opinions? Do you go out there and say you think pedophilia is alright. So yeah, that washes, see whether you can divorce yourself from your opinion. So part of what I’ve always struggled with, and funnily enough, I’m struggling with it right now, because I’m being a bit cheeky and playing around online and my social media, you know, telling,


Murray Guest  29:45

I’m enjoying it, by the way,


Aaron Kearney  29:47

Eyebrow raising jokes and that sort of thing. And part of it always is, is that I’ve never known a world where my name and reputation was not attached to the media that I produced right? Once upon a time that was like a byline in a newspaper. Then it was what came out of my mouth on the radio. Now there’s the social media aspect of it. And what’s hard for me is that I realized that there are lots of people from different circumstances who don’t actually put any cache in their own opinion. They’re just talking about, you know, they’re just saying it because they’re saying it. And I find that hard. That’s a foreign language.


Murray Guest  30:22

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I, I think about, though, like you’re saying the junk food analogy, it’s always been there. But it’s now more readily available yet. But there are still some very good sources for information. And I think sometimes it’s about directing people to an alternative source. And sometimes, you know, just to throw another metaphor out there, you can lead the horse to water, but you’re not going to force it to drink. So we’re going to we can put it out there, but a tough time, we’re making those choices to whether they’re going to actually read that or actually absorb that information. 


Aaron Kearney  31:02

I know that everybody’s solution to every problem is make teachers teach it in the curriculum, or whatever else. And so I’m not that guy. But what I do think is this, that the two themes that you’ve raised in the last five minutes here are going to be two of the most critical resources that any individual can have in the front half of the century. And that is one to actually understand critical thinking, to not only be able to execute it, but understand what you’re doing, right. So it’s not enough to be able to pass the ball, you have to understand the science of how you’re passing the ball. So to understand and execute critical thinking, and also to have high levels of media literacy. And where I get very anxious, is it sometimes attributed to Paul Keating here, I’m going here, I am going to perpetuate a lie. Right? So I don’t know who said it but we’ll credit it with Abraham Lincoln, right. But somebody said, and I required it often is that if somebody has got an eight second solution for you, it’s no solution, because all the eight second problems were solved 300 years ago. But we are in a world where we are in a world where eight seconds is all you’ve got to solve my problem, man, I’m a busy guy. Well, you got we got your eight seconds solve my problem solve my problem solve my problem. And you know what you can do in eight seconds, all you can do is come to me and go. You’re not the problem. That guy over there is the problem. And I got Yeah, good luck with that. Good. Yeah, that’s right. So I’m really, really worried about this idea that in a world that only has patience for simplicity. The only way forward is to embrace complexity.


Murray Guest  32:59

Yeah, and be okay with sitting with the complexity and having the deep conversations on a narrow topic, as opposed to just the surface level. Eight second conversations, it’s the main, it’s the tweet. 


Aaron Kearney  33:16

And, again, I’m a Pollyanna. I’m an eternal optimist. One of the things that I’m hoping will come from this crisis that we’re all living through, is that we will in fact, realize that everyone is entitled to an opinion, but not all opinions are of equal value, that we will indeed get some, we will return some kudos to people who have given 20 years to a field of study, and not give their opinion equal value to Elon or Whoopi Goldberg or Andrew bolt or whatever else that that actually we will weigh opinions better, and that we will continue or we will return to a world where expertise has some value. 


Murray Guest  34:04

Yeah, I must admit that is something which, to be honest, I hadn’t thought about. But now in hindsight, thinking about those experts getting the coverage they deserve for the years, they’ve put in a certain field of science of medicine, and decisions or policies being made on what they bring my Pollyanna to build off your phrase there is what does that look like more broadly in everything we do? Because that would be you know, let’s listen to the experts. Not because my uncle studied medical science, so I’ve got a good idea of it. No, actually, everyone’s got a good you know, let’s use the experts.


Aaron Kearney  34:45

So let me put it to you in your field then, right. This to me is where the rubber hits the road in terms of authenticity. You have your business and Your program, because you are bringing a certain amount of expertise to the table, right? You believe that you have a special knowledge to impart in your realm. Right? But that’s not enough. You also spend a lot of time making that a product that people can sit and consume, right? You make it entertaining, you speak the language that people want to hear you gamified all of those sorts of things they do right and more all of my work. So what? How does one rationalize that? Do you at one end say, Well, I don’t actually care what got them in the door? They ate at my restaurant? Guys, if it’s the guy spinning the sign, so be it. I know, they ate good food in my restaurant, right? Or do you say to yourself, no, this is this is too important for me to prostitute my message. So I’m drawing the two poles, the answer is somewhere near the equator, I think. And that’s what we’re all pulling. But but it’s a genuine thing that I dwell upon often, how much do you treat information with an expertise with the gravitas that it deserves? And how much do you market it?


Murray Guest  36:23

So it’s great to see this podcast is going to go for three hours. 


Aaron Kearney  36:29

Part One of an eight part series, the Muz and Az show!


Murray Guest  36:33

It’s such a great conversation and a good good question. And I think you’re right, there’s somewhere in the middle there where authenticity, people’s BSD, their bullshit, detectors are really strong, they can tell if you’re not being real, you’re not being honest. And I combined that with also being open and saying, This is what I know. But this is also what I don’t know. And what I don’t know, I’m here to help you find that out or to actually defer to someone else. So part of my role, and what I do is, as a facilitator owner, facilitate the learning out of the group. And I love that. And I know what I bring is the ability to do that, versus I’m mentoring you because they’re two very different things.


Aaron Kearney  37:20

Let me share with you something that you might find useful. Certainly some people listening to this, you’re welcome to steal it, because I think it’s absolute gold. So I had all sorts of first world white male middle class anxieties about going into developing nations and teaching in inverted commas. And, and the reality of it is, all of those things are unfounded, because there’s actually a prejudice in even thinking that way. So we’ve been setting that to one side. My opening gambit, when I’m dealing with a new group, is I say, what I want you to imagine is this, that we are at a cocktail party this week at this workshop. And I am the dude with the tray of hors d’oeuvres with the shrimps and the avocado, crab and the bumblebee. Now I know because I have a certain level of expertise, and I have worked around the world, I know that everything on this plate is edible, right? And I know that I can take this plate somewhere, and somebody will find something on it delicious. What I want you to do is to sample what’s on that plate that I bring around this week. I don’t expect you to eat every single item that is offered. What I actually hope you’ll do is go That’s nice. But if I gave that a coconut treatment, that would be perfect. In my restaurant here in Samoa. Right? Yeah. So I actually walk that through as a psychological process and say, pick it off, taste it, I’m not expecting at all to be for you. What I do hope is that a you’ll find something delicious and be your then take that and improve upon it for your own personal circumstance that I can’t even imagine what that circumstances. And Gee, I find that’s an effective opener, because it empowers those, you’re not talking down to anybody. And it actually invites them to take the morsels that you’re presenting and elaborate that for their own circumstance.


Murray Guest  39:17

Can I say I love that analogy. And my build is and when you taste this morsel, don’t just taste at once. Yeah, dont just use it once. Because I think sometimes we can taste something like that and go, yeah, that’s okay. But I’ll go back to whatever else I was eating before, or I might just try it once. Because if we want to use one of those, we’re gonna eat some of Aaron’s beautiful platter of finger food. Let’s actually try it over the next couple of weeks and see how it looks in my restaurant and how it works for me.


Aaron Kearney  39:53

100% And actually, I’m sure in your business in mind as well. That’s one of the biggest challenges then You have to say you will not actually get maximum results from one engagement.


Murray Guest  40:06

Yes. 100% Yeah. Now I’m going to quickly change the subject because I’ve got a question for you which you could talk for a while and but just want to quickly know your perspective, my friend, and that is sports taken hammering over these past couple of months. with major codes around the world, you know, pausing stopping, however you want to frame it up. It’s I know, a lot of people look to the sport as their religion in some way, you know, lifts their spirits brings them together, as you know, as pack animals as humans, we come together. And there’s some recent reports around the future, the elite as well, which is a concern. I also wish we had a basketball team in Newcastle. Sorry, yeah. Yeah. Mate, Wait, where’s it going to be? Honestly, you know, 12 months from now, six months from now.


Aaron Kearney  40:59

I heard somebody say on another podcast recently, I’m not in the business of predictions and forecasting. What I like to do is explore scenarios. And I feel like that’s really useful, because I think making predictions is a fool’s errand. But here’s what, here’s what I think. successful sports going forward, whether this be at franchise level, grassroots level, elite level. So often you see billionaires from coal mining or whatever else who get involved in sport, and fail spectacularly. And the reason why they fail spectacularly is that the skill set that makes you great at moving coal trains, right, screwing people down on price, clarifying your supply lines, having certainty around delivery, all of those sorts of things that give you value and turn you into a billionaire in that realm. Have no cachet. In the world of sport, in the world of sport, you are selling a sense of community, a sense of connection, and a sense of hope. And the sports that can, the hunger for those things has never been greater, the appetite for paying $150 for a jersey, and being watching people shoot up tin cans at the weekend when they should be socialized, relating, yes, the appetite for that has never been less the sports that come out the other side of this and can embrace the format in an authentic way, and resist the latter and reinvent themselves beyond that corporate mess. Those are the ones with a tomorrow.


Murray Guest  42:54

I thank you so much for that. And there’s a bit that I’m adding an artist one to think about as well. And that is the perspectives that players are getting out of this experience. And again, I’m I’m theorizing here, but the the journey for a lot of players for a lot of coser last few years has been meteoric with certain conditions and pays and salaries that are just amazing compared to the average person. And this new perspective that a lot of people you and I included, and the sports people in this process that are getting, hopefully also supports that new grounding, not just of the codes, but also of the players as well.


Aaron Kearney  43:43

Let me bring the conversation full circle and reiterate your point to you. So I particularly love working with para athletes when I’m talking about storytelling here working with para athletes, working with athletes in developing environments, and working with women. And the reason why, and this is a very broad brush. And I mean, there are many remarkable exceptions to what I’m about to say and kudos to them. We have some of them in this town. But your bog standard methodology for an elite male sports personnel is you’re identified at 13. You put on your weights and nutrition program at 14, you were siphoned off from the rest of the world, you were told you a special and you have an agent who talks about how many zeros are going to be on the indoor number. It doesn’t make you an interesting person doesn’t give you perspective, it does not make you well rounded. It does not educate you, right. If you’re somebody if you’re somebody who lost their leg in a lawn mowing accident, or has had to put themselves through nursing college while trying to be captain of the Matilda’s or whatever else the thing is right. You have an engagement with reality that is so much more interesting and illuminating. If less profitable, Then the next scenario that you’re talking about, and I just feel like, Look, barter. We’re kidding ourselves. So we think, you know, the Barcelona starting 11 is not going to be worth a billion dollars in five years time it very much is. But I do think that bolo, that crusty LA, I think that the the sands are shifting and there are new possibilities. And I mean, part of the positioning I’m trying to think for myself is if I have this vision, and if I believe this can happen, how do why happened to that process, as opposed to just observe it? So it’s one of the things that’s on my thinking quite at the moment.


Murray Guest  45:39

Thank you so much for that perspective. And I’m mindful of our time, and this has been, I’m gonna say part one,


Aaron Kearney  45:48

As you can see, I don’t really like talking, but I’m more than happy to do it as a favor. No, no, I would I would love to engage in and because you like me. It’s big ideas. And big ideas demand more than glib answers. Inevitably, it was going to go this way. So like any time, any circumstance, and as I say, that doesn’t even have to be in this forum. We can. When we’re all allowed to get together, we’ll sit on a stage and talk rubbish one day. 


Murray Guest  46:18

Oh, that sounds like a great idea, my friend now. Thank you so much. It’s been honestly, such a joy to talk to you. But also, I feel like we haven’t done justice to the impact you’ve made in communities and I’ve your career as a journalism and what you do now. It’s been a privilege to chat to us. And I value your perspective and value the impact you make. And so please keep doing what you’re doing. Thank you so much. 


Aaron Kearney  46:45

Beautiful words, thank you. And you know, I, people like you are the ones that made me have the bravery to quit a very nice salary in a very safe government organization and go out on my own and try and do something remarkable to believe in my strengths. And that’s that still makes me squirm to even say something like that. I don’t even like talking like that, but to embrace in my my strengths, and try and leverage them to do something that is beyond the ordinary. So yeah, back atcha. I really value what you do. And I’ve had a blast talking to you today.


Murray Guest  47:22

Yeah, thanks, mate. I know, they’re not easy decisions to make that leap.


Aaron Kearney  47:27

If i’d of known covid was coming I might have kicked it along the road, 18 months, but I’m looking forward to that whole 14 favoring the brave thing.


Murray Guest  47:40

It’s just a little bit further on. Now, just to wrap this up, you have given me your definition of inspired energy, and it’s what this podcast is called. And I’ve heard that today. Do you remember what you said? Or can you repeat it? 


Aaron Kearney  47:56

What did I say? As soon as you tell me. 


Murray Guest  47:58

Well, I’m gonna I’m gonna be no disrespect to anyone I’ve asked this question to before. And I said to Tammy, I said, I love already. The anticipation I had for having a chat with Aaron because his answer was, and I’d say this with all truthfulness, inspired energy is the offspring produced when dreams and determination have a passionate affair. 


Aaron Kearney  48:24

What a tosser! 


Murray Guest  48:28

I want to know who wrote that for you? Because that is beautiful.


Aaron Kearney  48:31

I’m pretty sure I’m pretty sure that must have been on my daily inspiration, Instagram. Not at all. I mean, I tell you what, that articulate. When you approached me about doing this, you know, I was under a, a wall of stuff going on. And where we started this conversation, saying you have good moments and bad moments. And I was zooming out and having a lot of thoughts about that fortune five, you know, going out What does it mean? What is it and I had inspired energy and I had inspired energy, but inspired energy was what motivated me to cut my safety ropes and do what I did a little over 12 months ago, and that is because I had drive and and I had a dream. And so what is that if not inspired energy?


Murray Guest  49:27

Yeah, 100% I, I can hear it in your voice. And I can feel it. And that’s the more important part. So thank you. 


Aaron Kearney  49:38

No, thank you. It’s been a blast.


Murray Guest  49:41

 Awesome, mate. Have a great rest of the week. See you in 2022 or whatever it is. 


Aaron Kearney  49:48

We’ll get within 1.5 meters of each other. 


Murray Guest  49:52

Thanks mate.


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