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.
(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 Life, The Moth’s podcast, and in written form on The Paris Review Daily. I also teach a semi-private storytelling class.
You can follow me on Twitter: @jeffsimmermon
Jeff’s Bandcamp site: https://jeffsimmermon.bandcamp.com/
The Iowa Idea Podcast theme music written and performed by Paisley Bible (https://paisleybible.bandcamp.com/).