Interviewing Business Owners
How I got started in business interviewing
Interviewing business people is a brilliant way to learn about who they are and share their business story with your audience. I've featured and interviewed 300+ New Zealand business owners in the last five years.
It all started when I got curious about what makes Kiwi business owners tick.
Back in 2016, I was watching Gary Vaynerchuk interview people on the Ask GaryVee Show. It looked fun, so I set myself the challenge to interview 100 business owners in a year as a side project while I ran a boutique marketing agency.
By 2017 and a 1:1 meeting with Seth Godin in New York later, business interviews were fast becoming the foundation of all my marketing work.
The Business Interview Shows
Five Business Series 2016 - 2021
The Making It New Zealand Series
The Making It New Zealand series started in 2018, creating sub 5 min videos featuring manufacturing processes rarely seen outside of manufacturing facilities.
The Provenance Marketing Show
The Provenance Marketing Show featured New Zealand Made products started in 2019, in a vertical video format optimised for IGTV (the show was cut after 43 episodes as it didn't take off).
A Kiwi Original Podcast
A Kiwi Original was a 12 month podcast project that captured uniquely Kiwi stories contributing to New Zealand's future during the pandemic of 2020.
18 CEO Interviews
The Academic Research Interviews
In the fifth series, I interviewed 18 New Zealand technology and software service companies about country of origin as part of my academic studies at Victoria University. The qualitative research formed the basis on which to create country of origin eligibility criteria for software. Those eligibility criteria could then be applied to tech companies who were already gaining an advantage in markets by promoting their New Zealand country of origin.
The launch of NZ Code created the first new country of origin trademark for New Zealand in 32 years and contributed to the academic literature in the research area of country of origin for software services.
I'm most proud of these interviews, as academic research required a higher level of rigour that pushed my abilities. Big thank you to Dr. Djavlon Kadirov from Victoria University for the mentoring through the research process.
What Makes For A Compelling Interview
Speaking with a business owner about what they do, to enter and inform an audience creates a healthy triangle of tension. The tension exists between the questions you ask, the how much they decide to share and what your audience wants to hear.
I've made plenty of mistakes, and over time, hopefully got a lot better at interviewing. There's a handful of interviewing tricks you can adopt too:
🧐 Do your research before the interview. I would hand-write a page of notes, as the act of writing seemed to help with memorisation...that can help with the next trick.
🏂 Encourage going off piste into conversation terrain you weren't expecting to cover. These conversation can feel quite magical to the guest...but you'll next the next trick to navigate the question transitions effectively.
🙉Listen intently. There are five levels of listening and you'll want to be at the Attentive or Empathetic top two levels to build trust.
🤐Let silence do the work. I've lifted this tip straight from the late Larry King, who in his time, interviewed over 30,000 people on CNN. If you're serious about interviewing - it's worth the 2 hours listening to Cal Fussman interview Larry King about his interviewing career.
My Favourite Business Interview Shows
People who have influenced the shows I've produced.