To the mainstream media, I am a nobody (and that’s okay).
To people who care about real conversations, I am somebody.
I won’t waste any time rehashing the drama surrounding BusinessWeek’s Sarah Lacy and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg — By now, the world is well aware of what took place, how the rain poured and the fallout that ensued. Walking the floors of SXSW at the Austin Convention Center, I began hearing bits and pieces of the interview from numerous individuals — It seemed rather ugly.
Now, people are apologizing and new details are emerging about what happened behind the scenes at SXSW. Well, I don’t really care.
Here’s the thing about interviewing people: Everyone has their approach. Mine is about focusing on the person. They are the spotlight, it’s their moment and I want THEM to shine — Good or bad. I ask the questions, THEY follow with an answer, while I listen attentively. I take pride in that I’ve used this format to interview everyone from Kevin Rose to Craig Newmark.
People love my interviews, and I love interviewing! When you focus on the individual and conversation, so many wonderful things occur that you least expect: You learn a lot about the core of an individual, their passion, what makes them tick, etc. This approach works well for me. The end result: We all learn something new.
If I were invited by SXSW to interview Zuckerberg (by the way, I AM available as a guest interviewer for conferences, etc.), you can believe my tried-and-true format would have worked like a charm. There wouldn’t have been any drama, we would have learned everything we needed to know about Zuckerberg and Facebook, and everyone would have been happy (for the most part — You can’t please everyone, no matter how hard you might try).
In closing, let’s focus on the people in our interviews. Take an active role in genuinely learning about the subject: Be not only an interviewer, but also an audience member. Let them have the spotlight. Let them be the authority of information in their industry or expertise.