Terry O’Reilly shares how to unlock creative influence (S4E1)

We’re kicking off season 4 with a bang… and a few other well-placed sound effects as we explore creativity with Terry O’Reilly.

With a laundry-list of awards recognizing his extensive career in marketing, as well as his work on the award winning radio program & podcast Under the Influence, Terry has a deep understanding of what it takes to dedicate a lifetime to the creative process.

His experience extends far beyond marketing, and we’ll chat about finding creativity, overcoming creative blocks, starting from the ending, and how creativity loves constraint.

Terry is also a founder of the Apostrophe Podcast Company, a nod to the ever-challenging spelling of his last name. He is an audiophile, an author (check out his books ), a keynote speaker and presenter, a serial-essayist… and lets not forget – a big fan of The Beatles.

Be sure to connect with us for more great content, and to extend the conversation:
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Transcript below

s4e1 – Creative influence w_Terry O’Reilly

Sun, 5/22 10:26PM • 53:13


radio, creativity, podcast, advertising, writing, idea, creative, broadcast, write, ronan, people, music, influence, big, story, writer, commercial, talking, deadline, listening


Terry O’Reilly, Seth Anderson, The Biz Dojo AI, JP Gaston

The Biz Dojo AI  00:01

The Biz Dojo is brought to you by beyond the beaten path. If you’re on the lookout for a personalized gift head to be on the beaten path.ca and get started on your custom creation beyond a beaten path, personalize it, because everything else is boring.

JP Gaston  00:19

We want to take a moment to thank our business partners over at Maslow leadership. As coaches both Seth and I have had an opportunity to take part in the Maslow coach certification programs, and have really enjoyed their work. You should also check out the new work they’re doing around culture actualization, that puts them at the forefront of organizational thought leadership. Whether you’re looking to become a certified coach, enhance your leadership skills or just develop a deeper understanding of employee motivation and workplace culture. Maslow leadership is the place to be check them out at Maslow leadership.com And stay tuned for a great new podcast from them to leading with culture. It’s coming your way soon. Hey, JP here, welcome to season four of The Biz Dojo. This season, you may notice we’re doing things just a little bit different. They’re still incredible conversations with amazing guests. But we’re going to change up how we introduce each episode. And Seth and I will still break things down in an all new way. More about that later. For this week, we wanted to kick things off with a story about how creativity led to using a boat to solve a problem in the air. When it first started in 1922, the British Broadcasting Company was provided a license to broadcast by the British government. This was done through its General Post Office who had jurisdiction over the use of airwaves. Five years later, on January first 1927, the BBC became the British Broadcasting Corporation. They created a set of standards and guidelines as well as outlining a moral tone intended for broadcast. This would create consistency in broadcast quality. But it also meant that by the start of the British invasion in the early 1960s, the vast majority of British youth needed to find other ways to get their fix of the Rolling Stones, the animals and, of course, the Fab Four. Enter Ronan O’Rahilly, he had moved to London from Ireland when he was just a teenager. He had always been a bit of a rebel and claimed to have been expelled from seven schools before landing in London. He would eventually become the manager of the same club, a music venue that saw many great jazz, r&b and rock musicians like The Rolling Stones or the who play over the years. It was at the scene Club, where Ronan would find his connection with musicians. He helped to launch the animals and would manage several musicians including r&b and jazz great Georgie Fame.

As his manager Ronan took George’s record to the BBC to try and persuade them to give him some airplay. What he discovered was that major labels EMI and DECA dominated the airwaves by paying the BBC to play only their record. The BBC was the only licensed broadcaster in the UK at the time, so with his only option to get AirPlay for his client exhausted, Ronan O’Reilly did what any person in his position might do, he purchased a 702 ton passenger ferry. Over the next month, Ronan had the massive vessel converted into a broadcast radio ship, and plans to anchor just 5.5 kilometers offshore in international waters, sending his own unlicensed broadcast radio waves back into the UK, running connected with what he saw as a playful disruption of government in a photo of John F. Kennedy’s daughter Caroline, playing in the Oval Office. So the ship would be dubbed Caroline and on March 27 1964. Radio Caroline began its broadcast. Without the restrictions of the British government, radio, Caroline was pirate radio that gave space for new ideas and creative marketing. It would help to expand the British invasion and introduce generations to new music, new programming and new ideas. It would spark the launch of commercial radio in the UK and forged a path for new creative marketing ideas. It connected with people in ways radio had never done before. Incredibly, they would continue to broadcast from chips all the way until 1991 and continue to exist as an internet and digital service to this day. You can check them out at Radio caroline.co.uk. Today we’re talking with someone who also has a lot of experience connecting creative solutions marketing radio and Podcasting Apple shares a lot of ties to the story to, from his name, Terry O’Reilly, to co founding of a company called pirate radio, to his celebrated an award winning career as a marketer is broadcasting experience on CBC and through his podcast for the show under the influence. And now as a founder of the apostrophe Podcast Network, making waves in the podcasting world. So as the Beatles might say, picture yourself in a boat on the river, as we share a conversation on creativity and more with Canada’s own Terry O’Reilly.

Seth Anderson  05:38

So diving right in today in the dojo, we’ve got Mr. Terry O’Reilly. Terry, thank you so much for joining us today. Well, it’s great to be here. Thanks for having me. Yeah. So as, as listeners know, we’re deep diving creativity this season. And as JP and I were preparing for the year, he actually said that his ideal, like dream guest was you. So thank you for that. I have been a huge fan of under the influence, and before that age of persuasion for a very long time. And I think I once sent you a note a couple years ago. And just to say, it’s actually touched parts of my life. I never expected listening to a marketing podcast, wow, being able to put it into leadership and think of how persuasion and influence happens throughout our lives. It’s, it’s been a big part of my development. So it’s, I’m super excited to have you hear? Well, that is, that’s music to my ears. I love to hear that we do touch on a lot of different topics in that show. It’s not just marketing, it’s really got a lot of tentacles, subject and theme wise. Yeah, I’ve definitely gotten a taste for that this last week here listening to a couple of episodes. And actually where I wanted to jump off, JP, and I’m both inspired by your work. And then the solo pod storytelling approach. We each actually kind of went and did little solo ventures last year, in early this year where we recorded solo pods. And, man, there are a lot of work and they’re a lot harder than I expected. You don’t have that natural banter back and forth with someone. Right? So totally appreciate the work you’re doing there. But the thing I wanted to start with from a creativity lens, the the way you score those, the music, the sound effects, like that must be quite the process and itself. How do you how do you go about doing that, and what inspired you to add that element because there’s not a lot of other podcasts, I’ve heard that have that.

Terry O’Reilly  07:32

I think that comes from my advertising background, because as you may or may not know, I, I started my career as an advertising copywriter for about a decade. And then I started I co founded an audio production company. So our clients were advertising agencies, and we would, you know, we would create radio from the ground up. Or we would add all the sound and music and voiceover to television commercials. So that was basically, you know, our skill set. So for you know, almost 25 years, I was always adding music and sound effects to film and creating soundscapes on radio. So when it came to podcasting, I just brought that same sensibility to I wanted to I wanted to make podcasts listening a great Sonic experience, not just the quality of the voices, which we were talking about just prior to recording today that the you should be recording your podcast in a in a you know, as close to a studio quality environment as possible. But beyond that, I wanted to make it interesting sonically so as you see we add a lot of music to it we spend a lot of time with the music on that show and sound effects and commercial clips and sometimes I’ll have acting friends come in and do funny little things for me so there’s a lot going on. It probably takes my shows 27 minutes and 30 minutes 27 minutes and 30 seconds long and it probably takes about eight to 10 hours to mix that baby wow

JP Gaston  09:03

Seth’s  hopefully gaining a new appreciation for podcast editing and mixing right now

Seth Anderson  09:08

I’d have like you know on top of doing the solid because I don’t have the radio background I spent I spent my great 12 year I worked at the local radio station did a couple of on air spots for a sports thing and then I did the board opping for the oiler games so sort of patching them in from the main feed and Edmonton. So I don’t have the 10 years like JP did so I totally have learned to appreciate all the editing that goes in because I went into this other pod with a with a with some folks and we recorded for like five hours and I had and I ended up turning that into a 17 minute video and it’s not the greatest video of all time but like it’s just there’s a lot that goes into that that people don’t see. No it’s it’s a ton of work.

Terry O’Reilly  09:52

Any podcast is a ton of work but a narration podcast is its own backbreaker because you have to knows us source all the music, you have to make sure the music, you know matches the story in the tone, not only of your show, but of that story. It’s sourcing all the clips is trying to find the best quality. Like it’s just this constant harvesting of music and clip my show and clips and commercials and trying to find commercials in Canada is really difficult because Canada really doesn’t have an advertising archive the way the state says archived everything. Canada has archived nothing. So I The good news is I can tap all my Creative Advertising colleagues for their work, I can call up a creative director and say, can you send me that commercial you did in 1984? For blank blank, you know, and I’ll get I’ll get it. So that’s the the upside but the downside is sourcing is difficult. What’s that sort of creative process? Like Like, I know, you spent a ton of time you started out in radio, and then you spent a ton of time in advertising? What was it like to shift over into, I guess the structure, likely structure, I guess I shouldn’t assume likely structure of a CBC type environment, and then shift from that into like this podcast world that that you’re in now, I would say that in the advertising business, you the deadlines are crippling. So you just learned to deal with that as just a matter of course, in a career. Because I mean, you’re constantly you know, the creative director walk into your office and say we need a campaign to save this account by noon tomorrow. As I say that I used to have hair when I started in this business. But so I got used to like any muscle you learn to flex it, and and working to deadlines was is really one of the biggest aspects of working in the advertising business. So when I started the show, with CBC, it was really a different kind of deadline, it was a weekly deadline. But with a lot more upfront work, like you know, for example, my 27 minutes show, depending on the theme, between myself and one researcher, I always assign one of our four researchers to each episode. And then I do the other half of the research, we probably do 20 to 30 hours of research for that 27 minute show between us. And I usually get back about 100 and 100 pages of research beyond what I bring to the table. That then I have to spend, you know, two and a half days just reading and then trying to formulate a show idea in my mind. So it’s it’s a different process than advertising, but it’s the same. It’s a cruel mistress, the weekly deadline of a show do you find that sparks your creativity? Like for me, sometimes the deadline is actually what makes me get creative. And it’s usually in the last 10 minutes. It’s like a high school exam. I’m best in that last 15 minutes, cramming as much as I can validate that, by the way that that is a sweet spot. Don’t I agree? I agree with that. I think it deadline sparks creativity. Leonard Bernstein, that great music composer who did all those great scores for To Kill a Mockingbird, and all those great movies has this great line that I’ve always subscribed to. And he said, What you need is a great idea. And just not enough time to come up with something great. And I’ve always said that’s exactly that’s been my life is you know, having the interesting idea and then really not enough time to really pull it off. But I think that just fuels the creativity. And creativity loves constraint. I mean, I talk about that in my in my talks, and I go and do speaking engagements across the country that creativity loves constraint. In other words, gives me the freedom of a tight briefing document. Like if you said to me, Terry, write a commercial for air streams. I would be lost if you said Terry write a commercial about air streams and talk about the fact that 70% of them since 1934, are still on the road. I’ve got an ad to write for you is the more that smaller the box you put me in the more creativity, because I know I have a route I have a path to go to follow, right. So I like I like a short a short deadline is as painful as they are, are actually good for creativity. Now those constraints, it makes me think of Apple. When one button Yeah, when they basically said no buttons, and then they were like okay, we can do it with one.

Seth Anderson  14:18

One button, figure it out.

JP Gaston  14:22

And now there’s none. Now there’s the there’s zero

Terry O’Reilly  14:25

now there’s none. Imagine that just that that thought that that would we would eventually evolve to no buttons on a phone. It’s just we take it for granted. But it’s a miracle really, of engineering. Isn’t it?

Seth Anderson  14:36

Crazy that we even call it a phone at this point? I’d

Terry O’Reilly  14:39

like to lead you on that

JP Gaston  14:41

on that device. Right? I’m pretty sure my nieces have actually removed the Phone icon.

Terry O’Reilly  14:48

Because everybody texts Yeah. What do you do?

Seth Anderson  14:51

Well, we have a landline phone in my house for emergencies and it rang the other day and my kids were like that a fire alarm like what’s happening right now. If

Terry O’Reilly  15:00

we don’t even have a landline anymore, like we just we, we just stared at that thing for a couple of years and said, We didn’t even touch that thing anymore.

Seth Anderson  15:09

It’s gone. I just kind of vibing on what you were talking about. So on the sonic experience of a podcast, and I think obviously, you know, JP, and I’ve been doing this for a couple of years now, we’ve definitely learned some things in that space. And one of the things that I’m most fascinated about your podcasts, obviously, we talked about the sounds and the music and all that, but the storytelling and like how you bring those stories to life, like if you were to go listen to your most recent one, you talking about Walt Disney and just kind of bringing that whole story to life, like I was enthralled, and I was there. Are you? Do you listen to a lot of other podcasts right now that are kind of coming out? And do you have any thoughts on maybe the opportunities for people to improve their storytelling or or, you know, work towards your level of storytelling? Like what does that kind of process look like? Because I think, if you have the good sound, and you can marry that with great storytelling, I mean, now you’re onto something? Yeah.

Terry O’Reilly  16:03

That’s a big, big question. You’re asking there, my path, when I think back on it has been, I think, to be a good storyteller, you have to be exposed to great storytelling. And for me, that’s in books more than a thing. I’m a big reader. Books are such a great source of storytelling. And that’s why I do so much book related even episodes on our show. But great writing, it’s great writing. So if you want to become I don’t think you can train someone to be a writer, I think you can train somebody or help somebody to be a better writer. And my big recommendation always is to read great writers. Just look for the structure. Look how they when you have a moment where you read something and it hits you go back and reverse engineer that moment and say, Okay, what did the writer do to me right there? How did they reveal that? Was it fast? Was it slow? What were the words they chose? Did they do it in in the smallest amount of verbiage or did it take me four pages, and then this surprise happened. So the element of surprise is probably one of the greatest tools a writer has is to, you know, bring someone along and then is, you know, make that left at Albuquerque? And surprise, your listener or your reader and I just, I’ve always loved that process.

JP Gaston  17:23

Do you find that the same? I know you’ve written a few books, I’m reading my biggest slash best mistake right now. Do you find that that is the same for whether you’re doing advertising? Or podcasting slash radio or writing? Or do you do you find its slight nuances and how you do that reveal?

Terry O’Reilly  17:40

I think, generally, it’s the same structure is just you’re writing for the eye versus the urine there. That’s two different disciplines of writing. But But generally speaking, I think it’s the same kind of journey, you’re taking somebody on to use a cliche word, but the same kind of structure, the same kind of reveal, using the element of surprise, knowing how to elicit emotion without using adjectives. I mean, one of my big things is how do I write this and take out every adjective. And man, it is so hard to write something with no adjectives, but I’ve always used that as a challenge. And that forces you to write the, in a different way than to lean on adjectives. So it’s, I mean, everybody’s got their, their method, and that’s one of mine.

Seth Anderson  18:27

Gotta try that. What’s your method JP, we’re talking about how writing is your one of your top creative expressions,

JP Gaston  18:33

I really am. And this may come from music, but I really enjoy, like, rhythmic verse. And it can be any different style like, hoe to me, just just, there’s something about the way Paul writes that just it captures me every time. So that’s, that’s generally where I lean, even when I’m writing something that shouldn’t be like, you know, corporate emails, probably shouldn’t be written in rhythmic poetic verse. But even when I’m like, that’s what’s going through my head is like, how can how can I link this together in a way that the reader flows with me through my thoughts? I find that easy to do and poem, I find it much harder to do when I’m, you know, writing just a story.

Terry O’Reilly  19:12

And everybody’s got their style, too. I mean, it’s, it’s there’s not one style. I mean, I love short sentences. I read other writers that were an entire paragraph is a single sentence, and it works. So everybody’s got their style. And I think you is that you know, someone said, you know, once that you can drink Gatorade, but what you sweat is your own. So in other words, you absorb all the writing styles of the writers you admire. And the storytellers you admire and you and you start to emulate them and then eventually, that find your own style, your own style emerges from all those influences, and that is that special thing then that you have? And once you can recognize that once you say, Okay, I actually have a style, not that you’re super aware of it, but you, you realize that when people say to you This is how you know when people start saying to you, I knew you wrote that, or that sounds so much like you. As soon as people start saying that to you, you’ll know you’ve got a style. Even in my radio commercials I used to write people would say, did you write the commercial for, you know, GO Transit or where it’ll pick somewhere for Molson? I’ll go, Yeah, I did write that commercially. I knew it was you. And that in the early days, I actually worried about that I thought, am I sounding the same as my Molson commercial sounding like my, you know, GO Transit commercials, it might not creating enough difference in the different brands. And then what overtime, I realized it wasn’t that it was the style of the writing, it was the you know, the element of surprise when they recognized the thinking behind it, not the similarity of the sound of those two things. And that’s when I realized that I was actually clicking on most of my cylinders.

JP Gaston  20:58

You’ve talked to you about this, especially in the advertising world, tapping into a motion, the idea of the 20% brain, I think, the videos on your website, the 20%, brain, 80% heart, I find that very interesting. And especially as like you transition from major persuasion over to under the influence because of the change in how marketing was actually happening. That to me is just an interesting space. Because there are a lot at least from my childhood, there was not a lot of commercials that were written from the heart, it was all the like, fast talking used car sales guy that was trying to tell me about the features.

Terry O’Reilly  21:32

But the best commercials don’t do that. Right. The best commercials, there’s an insight at the heart of of every great campaign. And that has to come from the strategy. So the strategy is everything in an advertising campaign. In other words, it’s what the writer and art director used to then express that strategy creatively. Whenever I talk to young marketing students, I always say, you know, give me a show of hands, how many of you are going to become account directors, in other words, in charge of strategy at an advertising agency, now many of you are going to be in the creative department. And the strategy always says, the fewest amount of hands up and I say, You know what this industry needs most of all, our great strategic minds, because that’s creative. People can’t do anything without you. So a great strategy has an emotional insight into it. And the thing I always believe is, if people don’t feel their your message in their gut, they won’t act on it. So something that has no emotion and people get it intellectually, but they won’t act on it, they won’t move on it. But if they feel it in their gut, the chances of them acting on it goes way up. And that’s why emotion is so critically important in a in a marketing message. And they don’t think about it too. When you get out into the gut like that. I think the the one episode, we were talking about some of the episodes earlier that are some of the show that has influenced me as one of your most influential shows, and a show that I pull stories from all the time was rituals, how marketing created rituals. And it just made me reflect on how much of my life has been influenced by just these crazy rituals that came from advertising. It’s unbelievable, isn’t it? I mean, that the orange juice with breakfast and bacon with breakfast and coffee in the morning, like all of that were, are the result of advertising strategies. The orange juice one is such a great story. Just very briefly, as you may remember the orange growers in California back in the day, probably in the 20s or 30s. Nobody was buying oranges because he couldn’t bake with oranges. No, no people got an orange in their Christmas stocking every year in the orange orange, we’re gonna start cutting down their trees because there was no market. And Albert Lasker that amazing. I think maybe one of the most amazing minds in advertising history, said, Okay, let’s drink in orange. Like no one had ever thought about doing that before. So they literally squeezed oranges and told people to drink orange juice. It’s a great source of vitamin C in the morning when you’re starting your day. And that whole ritual of orange juice started as a marketing strategy to help orange growers market their product.

Seth Anderson  24:13

Advertise, my brain is stuck. Right. That’s the That’s a great story. My brain is stuck. And JP and I have talked about this on the pod before when I learned that Ninja Turtles were created for no other purpose than to sell toys by the like the toy manufacturing company. I just I feel like a part of my soul just was like shut down for a minute because it’s like, ah, like, in my head. It was like, oh, there were these cool guys in a basement somewhere that created this really cool character and it took off like people, but that wasn’t it at all like it was. And so when I was listening to your pod and you were talking about breakfast cereal, particularly Tony the Tiger and how they had designed him to sell merchandise and then I thought Ninja Turtles. They went from having those little beady eyes. They made them have big eyes. Like all those little principles we’re in, I still love the Ninja Turtles. It’s like part of like me as a kid. Like, it still resonates all that stuff. But like, there’s a little piece of me that’s like, feels kind of gotten? I don’t know, well, yeah, no, I hear you. You’re this the purity of the story that that you’re grappling with, you know, Lucas, I think, you know, everything I’ve read about Lucas, he had the same MO for Star Wars, that he could sell a lot of toys and a lot of merchandise. And that was really one of his biggest motivating factors. But look how wonderful that that series is, like, with great storytelling came out of that very commercial purpose in the beginning. So, you know, that happens. That’s like, just becoming an adult and realizing that, yeah, I mean, I’m cool with it now. But it’s just like that initial. One of the things that I’ve I’ve dabbled with in the last few years is this idea. You have a lot of creative sparks that occur, especially if you’re sort of inclined that way, which I’d say definitely JP and I are, and obviously you are, but sometimes it’s not the right eye, right time for an idea, and you got to park it, which can be exceedingly difficult. You’re like, Oh, my God, this is a great idea. I would love to do something with it. But you know, you need to park it. And I’m just wondering, like, how you, and what your processes for that kind of thing?

Terry O’Reilly  26:14

 Very interesting question. Yeah, timing is everything. And so is so many of the arts, in probably so much so many aspects of life. In advertising, that happens a lot, where you will bring a bold idea into the boardroom, and the client just won’t buy it. And it’s not that it’s not a great idea. And it’s not that it wouldn’t improve sales. And it’s not that as strategically off the mark is just that they’re not ready for it, they’re not ready to be that bold, or to take that leap. So you do have to park that idea. And every great advertising person, I can tell you has a drawer full of ideas that never saw the light of day because the timing was off. I think you either have to learn to live with that fact that you’re going to have a drawer full of ideas that never get realized, or you’re going to have to have incredible patience, to wait for the moment when that idea is right. So there’s, you know, both sides of those of that coin. The other thing I mean, in the advertising world, you can try and bring your client along. So we would have clients often that, you know, they’d look at an award winning can reel or the Clio reel, or best advertising best ads from around the world. And they marvel at it yet. We couldn’t sell them one single creative idea. And so I would recognize that in one of our methods was we would bring the client, those tough clients into our offices and have a working lunch. And I would play the reels of the greatest ads from around the world. And whenever they would react to a great win, I’d stop and go, Why did you love that ad, then they said, because of the idea and this and the creativity, okay, so you’re, you understand that that’s what it takes to be great as, look how bold that idea is, and someone had to approve that on paper.

And I try and bring them along in their thinking. So that the day when I walked into the boardroom, you know, 45 days from that moment with a bold idea, they would be more open to accepting it. So there was an evolution in that, making the timing work for us by helping them, you know, evaluate creativity, appreciate creativity, and knowing that it takes, it takes a very courageous client to say yes to a bold idea. I’m struck by the fact that you had a creative solution for bringing your creativity to someone else, who had their own creative ideas, to help align all of those things into something that could be built custom for them, you know? Well, it was it was Do or die on that though, because the great thing about my company was, you wouldn’t come to my company unless you wanted an interesting idea, because we weren’t cheap. And we really priced ourselves up near the top of the pyramid. And we would really fight for our ideas. I mean, I talked about this in a lot of episodes, too. And in a couple of the books, I’ve written that there’s two sides to the coin and creativity, one is coming up with ideas. And the other is selling ideas. If someone’s buying your ideas, like if you’re not all alone in a podcast, and you’re mastering yourself, but if you’re selling ideas to the world, you have to learn how to sell, how to command a boardroom, how to tell your story, how to reveal your idea, then the moment you reveal your idea how to deal with all the pushback you’re going to get from somebody in that meeting while the cement is still wet. Like all of that is is critically important to selling an idea. Because I think that 50% of the great ideas in the world die in the boardroom. It’s not that they were bad ideas, or why is advertised Why is most advertising so terrible is that a lot of great ideas die in the boardroom. So you truly have to learn how to become a great salesperson before you can sell your ideas. And that’s that’s another part of the, you know, learn Because it’s all about confidence in the boardroom. I always believe that clients can almost look at you and not hear just like plug their ears and watch you to decide whether you’re confident in the idea or not. Because if the second they sniff a little bit of fear in you, or a little bit of trepidation, they will not buy the idea.

JP Gaston  30:30

 Is that sort of something that developed for you over time, this idea of, I think, we’ve stepped into this season thinking creativity shows up everywhere in life. And, you know, we know from your endeavors that it certainly shows up there, but did you did you start to discover creativity and in places you didn’t recognize along the way, like your example, just now in the boardroom? Where you you really had to employ creativity as part of your sales?

Terry O’Reilly  30:53

 Yes, the answer is yes. I mean, who thought that you’d have to be creative selling your creative? I mean, it’s it’s a weird, you know, bit of math going on there. I learned that that particular thing very early because I am by nature, an introvert. So I’m being in the advertising business and even having hosting a radio and podcasts you’re putting yourself out there into the world, which is the you know, antithesis of what a what a true introvert loves. The great definition for me of an introvert is somebody who, when they recharge, they want to they want to be alone. And an extrovert recharges being around a lot of people. I really love to recharge in solitude, and I’m not anti social, I just I live in the country. I mean, I live a very quiet, wonderful life. But I’m an introvert. So it takes a lot of things, everything I’ve got in the early days to stand up in a boardroom, in front of, you know, being a bad board. And with the longest shiniest boardroom table you’ve ever seen in your life, that doesn’t end, you know, you know, and there’s 27, Labatt clients sitting around the table waiting to hear your idea took everything I had in the early days to do that. Because I was just wracked with fear and panic. I would sit at night, knowing I had a big presentation, the next day, I would sit at home in the dark, and rock in a rocking chair, just trying to get up the courage for the next day.

But I learned along the way, which is the long way of answering your question that if I did, if I let someone else try and sell my work, the batting average is like 300. But if I sold my work, the batting average was like 800 or 900. So I said, Okay, I have to learn how to do this. So the way I learned that was I would, I would volunteer all the time in an agency. So creative director, we have a big meeting, you know, two days from now to present a big campaign, the creative director walk in and say, Okay, who’s going to present the creative, I go put my hand because the Okay, Riley’s gonna present the creative who’s presenting the strategy. And I would just do it over and over was, it was like, putting yourself through a torture test constantly for me. But then I got to a point where I actually started to look forward to the presentations rather than fear them. And that’s when I knew I had beaten the monster to death, that I had actually gotten over the hump of being so afraid. And that’s when my work really got better. Just something I wanted to double click on you were talking there about recharging. And just wondering as part of your process, getting stuck creatively, obviously, anyone who does a lot of creative work can end up in that place.

I’m curious, how do you know when you’re stuck creatively? And then do you have a bit of a process of getting unstuck? I’ll talk about the show, the great thing about the show is coming up with themes for the show is the easiest part of our show. Because so much is always happening in the marketing world around the world is constantly generating incredible stories. So I just really have to decide on themes to link all these great stories. So that’s easy. The research is tough, but but that’s a different beast, the writing for me, once I get into the swim zone, once I lock in, I can write for about seven or eight hours straight if I had to. But if I can’t get started, then I have to stop and go for a walk or, you know, chop some wood or do something or you know, around the house or some yard work or open up a book, I have to change gears and then come back to it and then once it starts again, I get right in the groove right in the flow of it. That and then time disappears. Like I’ll start writing and I’ll be in the flow and I’ll let’s say it’ll be one 1pm In the afternoon. I’ll look at my watch just the corner my eye and I’ll see it’s 8pm Like I’ve not no concept that I’ve just spent, you know, seven hours typing because I’m just in this kind of, you know, Jedi mind meld, you know, so yeah, so I never have a problem in the flow.

Seth Anderson  34:59

My problem wouldn’t be I’m sitting down and I can’t get started that’s more of the block is it’s not that I don’t have an idea is that I don’t have the door into the idea yet the door and have the idea like that. So I’m going to go walking to like JP knows when I’ve gone for a walk

JP Gaston  35:16

100% My phone rings, it’s like, six 615 In the morning in my phone. I’ve got ideas, right you need to hear immediately

Seth Anderson  35:26

is like a walk is a great, it’s a great mind bath, isn’t it? Yeah, it just and I’ve kind of started to dabble with walking because I usually when I walk, I listen to podcasts or music or whatever. But that extra inspiring walks are down by the river, like in the forest, no headphones, anything to birds, you got all the elements like I leave those walks, so recharged, like, and if I’m feeling a little stuck or things just aren’t quite flowing, like you’re talking about, it’s like, Okay, first thing I got to do is go for a walk. And then the next thing on sort of reveal itself.

Terry O’Reilly  36:02

Yeah, I agree. And, and once for me, once that flow starts happening, I don’t want to be taken out of it.Because I’m afraid I won’t get back into it like that flow is a very sacred thing. You know, my wife will text me dinner time. I’m like God, like, I know, I have to stop, and then go for dinner, then Holy Cross my fingers, I can get back into that magical flow again, you know, an hour later writing over one hand dinner with the other? Yeah, if I could get away with that I would do it. Do you ever have problems? Like, I absolutely have the same problem on the front end with the entry? But do you ever have problems on the back end with the exit from like, when you get into the flow, I find it especially with music like I will, I will get into the flow and I’m loving that. But then I wind up with a you know, 20 minute guitar solo. And like, that’s probably too long, I should figure out how to exit this.

Not so much. For me. I mean, writing the show to 27 minutes and 30 seconds, every week, you sort of get into again, it’s a muscle. My first drafts are usually a little long, like maybe a minute or two long. But I mean, I’m not off by a lot anymore. Because it’s we’re in our 17th season of the show. So it’s Yeah, so it’s that’s not so much a problem. There’s there’s a lot of great stuff that ends up on the cutting room floor. Because I only have 27 minutes. You know, there’s I might have nine great stories. But the internal structure of my show is I tell five stories, I don’t know if you’ve ever picked that up, I tell five stories, generally speaking, on May Have a great one. So three of them. Don’t make the show, although some of our podcasts, I will put in the extra store actually quite a few of our podcasts, I’ll put it in the extra story that can’t live on air because I am locked into 2730 on air. But I can be any length on podcast. So we’ll always put normally put bonus material in our podcast.

JP Gaston  37:49

2730 is 27 minutes longer than you started out in advertising. So that’s, that’s a lot more creative space. Let’s just say

Terry O’Reilly  37:57

that. So the freedom to write for half an hour after a whole career of writing 30s and 60s, and even a book writing a book where I have really no constraints was just like, like diving into them was glorious, warm pool. You know, it was something that I mean, I had to learn how to expand really, I guess

Seth Anderson  38:20

I’m curious is trying to thread the needle here too, because you have a podcast network now. And so I would imagine that requires a lot of overseeing of other podcasts and, and just like this whole other creative muscle, what’s that been like for you to kind of get into that part of the world?

Terry O’Reilly  38:38

Yeah. The good news is that I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was 29. So as far as managing a company and managing creativity, I’ve had really had a lot of experience with that. But that mean, this was just a different beast. So we do have our own homegrown podcasts on our network. So there’s under the influence and there’s we regret to inform you the rejection podcast that comes out of us organically. And then our other podcasts on our network are created by other podcasters that are on that we do the marketing we do. We host their platform, we do cross promotion, we leverage our relationships with apple and an a cast in our is our biggest platform partner. So we bring all that to the party, but it’s just it’s a matter of, you know, schedules and cash flow and like all the things a business requires. None of it’s easy. As you know, there’s not there’s nothing about a podcast that is easy. And there’s nothing about running a company that is easy. Even when we launched the apostrophe podcast company. We had our huge launch ready and the pandemic hit, like literally that month. So then we had to launch really small and muted because it didn’t seem appropriate to come out with all our exclamation marks and our band just felt wrong. So here we were. Having to limp out of the starting gate with a brand new company. So there’s always trip wires and speed bumps, with every company with every business.

JP Gaston  40:10

Is it pulling a different part of your creativity? Or is there a space where you’re just you feel that is your space for creativity? Like is that sitting in books are sitting in just the writing element? Or where do you find your your spark?

Terry O’Reilly  40:22

I do enjoy writing books, although it that is that is a long piece of art like that is, that’s a year of your life. I found with three books, it’s always roughly been that timeline. Because there’s lots of research and you know, it’s a long, long process. Where I love most is is is creating for broadcast creating for pocket creating using sound that is always for some reason, in this thing that I love even I much prefer doing radio than television. In my career, although I did so much of both, because television was kind of paint by numbers for me, like you knows, I have to put in every bird chirp and every footstep and I’m just watching the screen. And I’d have some fun with the voiceover. But with radio it had to be developed from the ground up because all I got was a sheet of paper. I mean, this this was all that was handed to me and is a no create a wonderful piece of audio on it that right? So I always love that challenge. So that’s if you’re asking for where’s my special place, it would be audio,

JP Gaston  41:18

I’m with you. 100% I’ve always found and this is probably why I enjoyed the podcast. So much like I’ve always found that creative space, the imagination that you can tap into with just audio like I feel like TV is very directive. It kind of says this is what you’re going to imagine this is it is this car driving down the street sitting in the mountains in you’re going to buy it whereas you listen to that same advertising on the radio, and it’s just this wonderful story. And you might be in the mountains, you might be on a beach, you might you could be anywhere. I think you’ve you’ve talked before about advertising on radio, or storytelling on radio is the only place that you can do certain things like you can’t you can’t send people into space. But on radio, like in an instant, they’re in space with a

Terry O’Reilly  42:01

bag of sound effects. You could be anywhere you could be inside a heart valve, you can be at the bottom of the ocean, I mean to pull that off visually on film is you need a budget that looks like a long distance phone number, right. And that’s the joy and here’s the other thing about audio and about radio. If I say to you picture, a rider and a horse galloping towards you on in a pasture on the most beautiful sunny day, and the horse jumps over a Brook and runs by you and then runs past a farm and our barn rather than disappears into the horizon. The great thing about that little scenario of asked you to picture is you’re picturing a male rider I’m picturing a female rider you’re picturing a white horse. I’m picturing a black horse. you’re picturing a red barn I’m picturing a gray but like real picture with the best of our imagery is right not my I’m not forcing it on you. You are building your my art director, you’re my partner in that scenario. And that’s why it’s so powerful because it it’s it’s it touches something inside you that is the best of your imagination like your best horses in that scenario that was more meaningful to you right

Seth Anderson  43:09

there. It’s like a magic to radio I I’ve even noticed this year, like I’ve listened to quite a few bluejay games on the radio, just because like, I just love that feeling like I know, I totally don’t picture I picture like 1990s Blue Jays in my head. I never thought of that. It’s like a totally different image of what’s happening. But like, I feel good listening to it. And I know

Terry O’Reilly  43:29

something about baseball and radio. That’s great, isn’t it? Just I don’t know what it is

Seth Anderson  43:34

the way it’s meant to be. I don’t know there’s something special about it.

JP Gaston  43:37

What’s funny is like, even with the imagery in the background, like one of the things that I’ve done in the past is watched hockey games, but listened to the play by play on radio, just because it’s just you get the same images, you do have to pause the TV because usually the TV broadcast is a little bit quicker than the seven second delay you get on radio and the board up forgets to turn off the swear button. But but when you when you do marry it up Like it’s just this incredible visual audio experience. It’s it’s fantastic, especially in playoffs. So now is like the perfect time to

Terry O’Reilly  44:09

great idea. That’s a great idea. Because you’re getting more information from the radio play by play than you are just from the TV play by play guys, because they’re letting the visual do half the work. Right?

JP Gaston  44:20

Yeah, exactly. I actually know who has the puck in the radio version. Because in the TV version, they’re relying on me like sure, you know, watching on a 50 inch screen or whatever, I might be able to read the name right. But some of these names are so long across the arms, like like I can’t see it.

Terry O’Reilly  44:36

So true. I would so many teams. I mean is it you have to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the players now

JP Gaston  44:40

Yeah, well, and especially some of the stadiums in the states where the you know, the cameras at a different angle or the lighting is horrible because they don’t care about the visuals like it’s lucky if it makes the old show on ESPN. Like they may never broadcast so it’s it’s an interesting addition to watching the TV Broadcasting.

Terry O’Reilly  45:01

And an interesting thing you bring up the play by play radio guys has to have a different set of chops than the TV guys. Like, it’s very interesting. I wonder if they flip roles? What that would sound like it’d be very interesting for them just to flip roles in the game, right? To have the guys do it on radio and see what happens.

JP Gaston  45:17

I think back to like, the degenerates of the world and like just the the incredible play, but like, I used to live in St. Catharines. So I used to listen to all the Buffalo Sabres games too. And man, that was just a different experience. Like on TV, you hear the gold horn, but on radio, you hear the excitement of the announcers just going insane about a goal. It’s great.

Terry O’Reilly  45:37

Right, right. Exactly. Right. You gotta love audio.

Seth Anderson  45:41

I gotta tell you, I did not this is not on the list of things I thought we’d be talking about today. I love the journey here. There was one thing that sparked for me when you were talking a bit earlier? Tarion? It’s a question I’ve been dabbling with. And it’s very specific, but I think it has broad application. When do you know when a painting is done? So I mean, obviously, you do a lot of writing, podcast work, etc, more in that realm, but like, how do you know when something is done?

Terry O’Reilly  46:05

You know what a bar a part of my process is, I almost don’t start writing till I know how it ends. And that was really a big thing for me in advertising. By the way, if I was writing a commercial, like, I would think of the commercial, I think of how it would start and how it would end and then the middle would just be fun to connect those two points. So even with our radio shows, when I’m writing the script, I really know, I really know what the last story is, and what my big points are going to be in the show when I wrap it up before I start writing. So I really like you know, any journey you need a destination. So I really make sure I know that destination before I really start the writing process rather than and, you know, there’s a lot of writers who don’t buy into that. I think Stephen King is one of those he just writes, he just lets the Muse take him where I like to know the the endpoint. So that’s how I know where the art ends.

Seth Anderson  47:02

Sounds very effective. I like that.

JP Gaston  47:04

Me too. I actually got me thinking. And maybe this is because I’m a person who imagines these things. But it got me thinking about that destination, and you’re really just choosing the past, like your creativity isn’t? Are we going to fly there? Or we’re going to walk where we off road? Will we, you know, write the predefined stream that

Seth Anderson  47:20

takes us there actually, yeah,

Terry O’Reilly  47:22

yeah. But once you have a destination, you then literally the middle is fun. It’s not torturous at all. If you don’t have a destination, for me, it would be very difficult writing. I feel I would be wobbling left ditch to ditch on it. without really having this through line, you know? Yeah, like,

JP Gaston  47:38

where do I want this to go? Well, I don’t know where it’s gonna go. So we’ll just we’ll explore off 75 different paths.

Terry O’Reilly  47:45

I even read that Stephen King who I don’t know if you’ve ever read his book on writing. He’s he has a book called on writing, which he just talks about the writing process. I highly recommend that to every writer listening to this podcast. But he will write 60,000 words on a book and throw it all away. Like that’s, that’s half a book, right? He’ll throw it away if it’s not working. And I always think that’s an amazing thing that he does. But I wonder if that’s because the Muse is taking him. But he doesn’t have that destination. But he’s, he’s willing to make that part of his process, right? I think I would commit hairy carry. If I had written 60,000 words, and then realize it wasn’t going anywhere.

JP Gaston  48:30

I’d be there by the time I hit 6000. I’m recalling all of the times I had to write essays in college. And

Terry O’Reilly  48:40

it’s so funny you say that because what I do is I write, I write a 25 page essay every week. That’s really what under the influence is and I hated it. And in the university, I hated it. And here I am for a career now writing 25 words 25 Page essays every week.

JP Gaston  49:00

Alright, you hear that? Kids? Anyone who’s listening right now and university. It might suck now. But


I enjoy it. I love it. I love it. And the university I just hated it.

Seth Anderson  49:11

So I think this has been great. Terry, we’ve talked a lot about the components, your process, how you work through creative blocks, etc. Just maybe to surmise How do you define creativity?

Terry O’Reilly  49:23

There’s probably a lot of definitions for that. I always think that creativity, I’m trying to make somebody look at something in a way they’ve never looked at it before. And I think I have the most success with that when I when I take the most mundane thing in life and they people look at it in a way they’ve never looked at it before. And I think that is that is creativity. One of the great definitions of creativity for me. For example, I have an episode that I just finished writing about boring. How boring cells that there’s a vast profitable, vast profit and bore

Seth Anderson  50:00


Terry O’Reilly  50:01

So I’m writing a boring show, a show on boring how we all pick the this, you know, the number one car color is white. In Canada, the US and the world. The number two color is gray. Number one, paint color. Gray. Now, number one shoe color, beige, like it, those are the colors of our life that I’m like, why is that when we all you know, profess to be one of a kind in unique and want to think of ourselves as standing apart from the crowd yet our behavior suggests otherwise. So I’m literally writing a show on boring. So I’m trying to make people look at the subject of boring in a completely fresh way. So that’s kind of my my little definition of creativity.

JP Gaston  50:52

That’s awesome. It made me think of the the East Coast houses versus the cookie cutter, you know, Metropolitan houses that you get that are all kind of the same color. And then you go to the East Coast, you’re like, why is that house yellow?

Terry O’Reilly  51:04

Why is it so beautiful? I mean, that’s Newfoundland with all every house a different color. It’s yeah, killer, right? And in Ontario, it’s like, it’s great

JP Gaston  51:14

lighting in your house. What color?

Terry O’Reilly  51:17

Yeah, you’d be drummed out of the neighborhood. Right? Yeah, that that’s part of the point I make in that episode is that we really, most of us want to meld want to nestle in the herd. You know, there’s a really good book that I used to read as a kid, or that used to be read to me as a kid, I guess. Mr. pines purple house. And it is it is basically all about that where he goes, and he finally determines that he can’t be cookie cutter like everyone else and paints his house purple, but then everyone else paints their house purple because they like his house so much. So he’s not standing. Yeah, eventually it gets to the point where everyone finds their own creativity and their own way to express themselves, which is a nice way to round out that story. But But yeah, that’s totally what it reminds me of. That’s very funny. I love that storyline. Thank you so much for your time today, Terry.  Apostrophe podcast.ca tells people all about all of our podcast series. We have a great newsletter that goes out four times a year that talks about all the events we’re doing and and insights and you know, you get a peek at upcoming shows, things of that nature. I’m easy to reach. I’m on Twitter and Instagram. My handle is at Terry o influence. And you can send this you know, my website is Terrier wiley.ca. I’m easy to reach there by email. So I’m easy to find.

JP Gaston  52:53

Well, thanks, Terry. Thanks, gents. Have a great day.  Best of luck to great talking to you.

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