Ready, steady, go!
After my studies, I used to work in a communications agency for over five years. This experience provided me with a lot of learnings and ideas. I especially appreciated crafting an idea and developing a project. Actually, I belonged to my company’s strategy department that is responsible for conceptualizing and developing projects.
Thinking a project, in theory, is quite simple. You do some basic research to get as much information on the topic as possible. You try to evaluate what already exists in terms of knowledge and projects, and of course, you identify good practices. Then, you develop your idea in more detail, contacting experts if needed and building a strategy. Strategy means, with who do we (want to) work, with which methodology and how and through which channels we will communicate and disseminate. Also important is, of course, the evaluation of the results and of the processes.. you should never forget that so that you can learn from your mistakes and adapt your strategy.
Checking on the idea
The idea to interview people is not new. (Curious) humans are always interested in learning. To learn about topics, personal experiences, and how and why people think they succeeded (or failed).
You might know some of my favorite interview projects. There is, of course, “Lunch with the FT”, but also “7 billion Others” and the “Interview Project” by David Lynch (I will write about them in a future article).
So, when I had the idea to interview people of the Mediterranean, I looked on the internet if there were similar initiatives in the region. I couldn’t find any. Of course, you’ll find thematic websites that feature interviews with entrepreneurs or others with creatives. Nevertheless, I did not find any website that tries to promote a general cultural understanding between the Orient and Occident. I think that I can do this not only because I am generally interested in humans, but also because I speak fluent French and Spanish. This allows me to break the language barrier and have deeper and more meaningful conversations.
Using Vitamin B
To see if the project was “feasible”, I started with a general brainstorming. I draw the Mediterranean Sea in my sketchbook and put in all the names of the countries that share its coastline. I tried to remember if I knew somebody in or from these countries. This would make it much easier to find and get in contact with interesting creatives and entrepreneurs. Having lived for some years in France and Spain, these countries would be no problem. Furthermore, in Italy, Malta, Tunisia, Morocco, and Lebanon I could get at least some advice on who to approach. For all the other countries, I will need to identify possible interviewees in the future. Remember that there are 22 countries in total that make up the Mediterranean…
My life as an expat/EU immigrant is also so rich because I constantly meet people from other countries and cultures. I was always an active couch surfer as well. I have to admit that the Couchsurfing platform went a bit down and is in my case now mainly replaced by tinder. Recently, I met people from Egypt and Albania. I already told them about my idea and, of course, they offered to help when the time comes.
Creatives and entrepreneurs belong to my contact network
In a next step, I tried to classify my contacts in different categories of people. The people I know work mainly as creatives and entrepreneurs. Creative is a broad term. It means for me everything from musician, filmmaker, photographer, blogger, and writer to actor and designer. In sunny Barcelona, there is also a lively start-up and tech scene. They would for sure help me to get some interesting interviews and contacts here in Spain, but also elsewhere in the Mediterranean. After some years living here, you notice that the region is like a little village. People move from one Mediterranean city to the next. There is a lot of cultural exchange similar to the strong ties that existed for centuries between commercials of the region.
A diversity of interesting topics
Reading through the list of people, I discovered that a lot of different topics could be covered in the interviews. Besides the focus on the creative or entrepreneur themselves, new trends and existing realities could be touched upon.
Always wanted to know how it is to live like a digital nomad? Interested in how social media will influence our lives ever more? Have you ever heard about user experience (UX)? Do you see the major shift of electric vehicles coming? On the cultural side, there are also a lot of topics. The aftermath of the Arab revolution, the situation of homosexuals in Tunisia, the gypsy community in Europe. Also, innovative artistic networks that push you to discover the secrets of a city, enchanting apartments and at the same time highly professional artists. Already curious?
I have always been interested in a lot of different things. I was always eager to learn something new and different to broaden my world. I hope out there, there are also people like me that are and stay open, curious and playful.
Who will follow my blog?
I know that when you design a project or product the most important element is the user or the reader, that’s to say the target group. You have to study them. You have to know about their beliefs, their living situation, their behaviours and communication habits.
I kind of skipped this, since I want to do something that I would read and follow myself. I don’t want to do anything that doesn’t feel to be me just to please everybody else. I will invest a lot of time and energy, so the fun and interesting side of the project should always be the or my driving factor.
I hope that the following kind of people will be interested in this project:
- Intelligent and curious people that like to learn about new things and trends
- People that are interested in other human beings and like to read their stories
- People that cherish diversity and are interested in intercultural topics
- Entrepreneurs and creatives that like to learn from their colleagues in different countries
- People that are interested in music, literature, and films beyond the commercial mainstream
- People that are interested in the Mediterranean culture
- People that want to learn more about the Mediterranean region, its challenges, and opportunities
- People that like to travel, physically but also through music, films, and books
Do you find yourself in one or more of these categories?
What can you expect?
The interviews will be presented in different formats since I will try to do voice recordings, videos, and photos. Some of the material will be used for writing the actual interview. Some will be used for writing articles about the different Mediterranean countries and cultures. Some parts will be used to nourish social media.
In September, I will do a first pilot of the project in Tunisia… let’s see, I am curious – how it goes and of course, of the results!
The blog and social media will provide you with:
- Interesting interviews with creatives and entrepreneurs
- Articles about the different Mediterranean countries and cultures
- Music, book and film recommendations
- Photos and videos of the people and places
- Travel advice and tips
- Quotes and citations (I really love that since I was a child)
- A guestbook to propose interesting people to interview and give feedback, and maybe to collaborate.
The basic tools and skills needed
- A website (I will try my best with WordPress)
- A visual identity including a logo, colours, and fonts
- Different social media channels (the usual suspects: facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest), and a newsletter to stay up-to-date
- The hardware: a laptop, a smartphone, a camera (I bought a go pro – again a challenge), microSD cards, external hard drives, batteries…
- The skills: website creation, interview skills, writing and content creation, social media, SEO, photography and video making, video and voice editing skills, transcription and subtitling, research, project coordination and management skills, organisation, database skills for mailings…
Of course, I will need a lot of time to learn some of these skills, invest some money, and most of all, invest a lot of time and energy.