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Wired for story - the secret to podcasting success with Aidan McCullen

CurrencyFair caught up with Aidan McCullen, the host of The Global Innovation Show Podcast, to discuss his remarkable career; from professional rugby union player to renowned podcast host, university lecturer, and transformation consultant.

Aidan’s work on The Global Innovation Show Podcast over the last five years has brought him to the attention of global business leaders such as Bill Gates. It has also seen him develop a reputation as a curious and consistent champion of incisive and insightful storytelling. 

First launched in 2016, there have now been over 250 episodes of The Global Innovation Show Podcast. Over the years, the popular show has garnered many thousands of loyal listeners and attracts some of the finest minds in their fields as guests. 

The CurrencyFair team is delighted to collaborate with Aidan on The CurrencyFair Business Webinar and podcasts which focus on innovative and inspiring leaders and their journeys in the complex and dynamic Asian market.

We caught up with Aidan to discuss his career in podcasting and storytelling.

Tell us a bit about your background and how you got into podcasting?

Retiring from professional rugby is a challenge, but it offers a wonderful gift. Preparing for that early retirement teaches you that life comes in cycles. No matter how bad things might be, it is just part of a cycle. The trick is to change how you think, so you don't focus on the low end of the cycle. I became fascinated by these concepts and studied them voraciously.

After a decade working in digital transformation, I worked as Head of Innovation in RTE (Ireland’s national broadcaster). That role was full of challenges and I didn't stay long, but it afforded me another gift, that is when I started the Innovation Show. This has led to a wide range of opportunities and my forthcoming book "Undisruptable: A Mindset of Permanent Reinvention for Individuals, Organisations and Life".

You’ve been podcasting and moderating webinars for a long time now, closing in on 260 episodes of The Global Innovation Show Podcast, in fact. What makes for a good guest and, indeed, a good show?

Humans are wired for story. I believe the role of the host is to create a comfortable environment for the guest to tell stories. If the host can run a thread throughout the stories and bring the listener on a journey, the job is done. I work as an executive coach and the word comes from stagecoach.

"A stagecoach brings passengers from point A to point B. I see the role of host and coach as the same thing."

What areas do you typically like to explore with your guests?

I like to hone in on the humanity of the guest. Everyone has scar tissue, there is some pain behind the success. I think that is important to share because it makes their stories relatable. Being clear about the challenges of any endeavour and letting others know about them can empower them.

As moderator of the inaugural webinar for The CurrencyFair Business Webinars and podcasts, what appealed to you about exploring the experience of CEOs Asian journeys and what did the panellists each bring in terms of interesting experiences?

The CurrencyFair story is a great one for example. Most innovation comes from developing a solution for some pain or problem. I also like that Paul Byrne (CEO and President, CurrencyFair) joined because he liked the product and was himself a customer, he liked the story and he had the skills to scale the business.

"Paul shared the importance of understanding the local Singaporean culture from a sales and partnership perspective."

Cathal Gaffney (Managing Director, Brown Bag Films and COO 9 Story Media Group) has a wonderful story, but once again he focused on the subtleties of his success.

"Culture is a huge factor behind that success and expansion into Indonesia."

Finally, Emma Gregory's (MD and Gemologist at Spokes Jewelry) story is a great example of the opportunity that comes from crisis.

"It is an inspiration for all entrepreneurs to understand and harness local Asian culture, specifically in Thailand."

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