Monthly Archives: September 2021

108. Jeff Simmermon

The Iowa Idea: Jeff Simmermon

“It was like river wearing down rock.”

On this episode of The Iowa Idea Podcast, I’m joined by Jeff Simmermon. Jeff is a beautiful creative – a comedian and storyteller who hosts a fantastic podcast called “The Reluctant Phoenix.” His podcast is a series of conversations with a wide variety of people who have rebooted their lives whether or not they really wanted to in the first place. The Reluctant Phoenix is available anywhere quality podcasts are served… So, it might not be the same place you find this humble podcast.

We dig into Jeff’s journey from going to college for visual art, to working in the early days of digital design and social media, to comedy and storytelling. Jeff describes his early stage shows and what it was like working onstage making music with live chickens. We dig into what trauma, from testicular cancer to the loss of a parent, can do to focus one’s priorities.

I appreciated Jeff sharing the details regarding his collaboration with friend and producer Kara. We mix it up on the importance of food and the inspiration for his “Cooking is Coping” newsletter. I relished Jeff’s perspective on the problems with the “endless optimization” of social media and why maybe the world would be better off with fewer photoshop filters.

I’ve enjoyed Jeff’s comedy and love The Reluctant Phoenix, so it was an honor having him join me on the show. Links to Jeff’s website, Bandcamp site, and podcast are linked in the show description. I hope you enjoy the episode.

Jeff’s Bio

(copied from Jeff’s website with permission)

I have worked to strategize, create and present Web content in some capacity or another since 2004, when I started my first (and now largely mothballed) blog. It got me a job as a Community Manager at AOL in 2005, where, among other things, I was able to direct and manage the AOL Blogs community, as well as AOL Gay & Lesbian. My personal blog was also featured on Instapundit, Digg, BoingBoing, ValleyWag, Metafilter, the Washington Post, Consumerist, Wired, and any number of other large, widely read sources of traffic.

After moving to New York City in the summer of 2007, I worked at the College Board as a content creator and Web manager, writing, editing, and uploading articles for the College Board’s sizable SAT/LSAT prep site. I also worked to develop a strategy for the College Board to begin incorporating blogs, message boards, comments and other aspects of the social web into their online presence.

I began working as the Director of Digital Communications at Time Warner Cable in May, 2008. I developed, launched, and edited Time Warner Cable’s blog and Twitter presence, worked collaboratively to develop crisis communications, and wrote and edited a lot of content for that blog on a very regular basis. You can see examples of that work on my Work Writing page.

After leaving TWC in December 2013, I did freelance social strategy and content development for Brand Connections, an advertising/branding agency with clients including VO5, Nissin Famous Foods, SkinnyGirl Sweetener, Dunkin’ Donuts, and more.

I’m also a storyteller, standup comic, and the producer/performer behind ‘And I Am Not Lying,‘ a variety show that combines stand-up, storytelling, burlesque, sideshow and music on the second Friday of every month at UCB East.

I just recorded my first album for Comedy Dynamics, which will be released in mid-April of 2017.

I have won multiple Moth StorySLAMS, including a GrandSLAM in March of 2014. My stories have appeared on This American LifeThe Moth’s podcast, and in written form on The Paris Review DailyI also teach a semi-private storytelling class.

You can follow me on Twitter: @jeffsimmermon

Links

Jeff’s website: http://www.jeffsimmermon.com/
Twitter: @jeffsimmermon

Podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-reluctant-phoenix/id1536818332

Jeff’s Bandcamp site: https://jeffsimmermon.bandcamp.com/

Credits

Episode produced by Spark Consulting Group (www.inspiredbyspark.com) in Iowa City, with support from Executive Podcast Solutions (https://www.executivepodcastsolutions.com/).

The Iowa Idea Podcast theme music written and performed by Paisley Bible (https://paisleybible.bandcamp.com/).

107. Matthew Gilbert

The Iowa Idea: Matthew Gilbert

“It knew it just required me to continue to learn.”

Matthew Gilbert joins me on this episode of The Iowa Idea Podcast. Matthew, a native of Waterloo, IA is a descended from generations of servant leaders. he is the founder and President of Iowa C.O.R.E. Inc., Economic Development Chair for the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP, and a servant-leader on local, state, and national boards, commissions, and committees. Matthew enjoys mentoring youth, volunteering, and holistic wellness. Also, Matthew is related to Anne Carter, a DEI pioneer, and early guest of the podcast. Matthew frames his “vision is to develop compassionate leaders who demonstrate a mentality reflecting greatness, influence change, and commit to generational impact in historically disenfranchised communities of color.”

We discuss Matthew’s journey growing up in Waterloo, changing course from elementary education to becoming a lawyer, to sharing his time and talents to build communities, ecosystems, and helping black families build generational wealth. We talked about his quest to slay the philanthropic dragons to unlock the power and potential of our communities.

We dig into what it means to be a black man in Iowa and how Matthew channels his love of humanity to improve the wellbeing of residents and communities in Iowa. We explore the power of continuous learning and the need for our current systems to be more empathetic and future focused.

I always appreciate Matthew’s energy and passion and loved his framing of the importance of healthy infrastructures for black and BIPOC communities, which was a completely different take on my standard stuck/unstuck prompt.

In our conversation, Matthew referenced Abena Imhotep’s powerful TEDx Talk, which is linked in the show description.

It was an honor having Matthew join me on the show. I hope you enjoy the episode.

About Matthew

A native of Waterloo, Iowa; Matthew R. Gilbert, Esq. descends from generations of servant leadership. The Furgerson – Harris – Nash families are well known for advancing civil rights, education, health and equity for African American communities in Iowa.

An advocate, entrepreneur, and ecosystem builder that values cooperation, justice, and historic preservation; Matthew is differentiated by a complement of executive strategies, transactional expertise, and transformative resilience.

An experienced advisor for elected officials, public figures, business owners, faith-based leaders, and public-private partnerships; Matthew’s mission is to coach and advise families, businesses, and communities in creating generational wealth by leveraging legacy and impact.

Matthew is Founder and President of Iowa C.O.R.E. Inc., Economic Development Chair for the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP, and a servant-leader on local, state, and national boards, commissions, and committees. Matthew enjoys mentoring youth, volunteering, and holistic wellness.

“My vision is to develop compassionate leaders who demonstrate a mentality reflecting greatness, influence change, and commit to generational impact in historically disenfranchised communities of color.”

Links

Matthew’s website – www.mrgreatnessofficial.com
Abena Imhotep’s TEDx Talk

Credits

Episode produced by Spark Consulting Group (www.inspiredbyspark.com) in Iowa City, with support from Executive Podcast Solutions (https://www.executivepodcastsolutions.com/).

The Iowa Idea Podcast theme music written and performed by Paisley Bible (https://paisleybible.bandcamp.com/).