Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A Little Big News

It's always a pleasure to have some good news to share at the start of a New Year.  

I’m excited to announce that as of this week, I will be starting a new full-time position as the Manager of Small Business services at the SF LGBT Community Center aka The Center!  In this role I will be responsible for one-on-one business coaching, consulting and mentoring for local entrepreneurs, teaching a recurring 6-week funding workshop, managing a credit-building microlending program, developing new content, programs and events, cultivating partnerships for the organization, etc.  I look forward to collaborating with a cross-functional team of colleagues who specialize in personal financial counseling, employment services, economic development and other program areas. 

The work that lies ahead for me at The Center stands at the intersection of several of my core passions: entrepreneurship, economic development and social justice.  It's a privilege to join an organization doing such vital work to empower LGBT professionals with the tools they need to realize their dreams.  

Like many great opportunities, this one materialized and progressed quickly.  I sensed that this role would be a natural extension and evolution not only of the work that I've done under the banner of Inclusiva Strategies, but also previously in my career.  As time permits, I will continue to pursue other projects -- i.e., working with Inclusiva clients, teaching workshops (including my upcoming appearance at General Assembly), advising Glamping Hub and volunteering for Centro Community Partners

I owe copious gratitude to my incredible wife Joely, along with my family, friends, colleagues and mentors for all of their love, support and encouragement as I continue to pursue my passion for growing businesses, training leaders and strengthening local economies.  Many thanks to Rebecca Rolfe, Eugenie Fitzgerald and the rest of the team at The Center for entrusting me with this exciting opportunity. 

More details and updates are sure to follow as my work at The Center gets off the ground.  

Friday, October 25, 2013

5 Core Principles of Negotiation That Can Save Your Bacon

We often don’t notice the countless mini-negotiations that we engage in on a daily basis.  And when big, obviously high-stakes negotiations do occur, the pressure and anxiety we feel leading up to the process can undermine our ability to get what we need and want.  

Below I've compiled a list of five essential negotiation concepts that can help take you from zero to hero in any negotiation scenario.  To learn more about the invaluable Art of Negotiation, sign up for my in-depth, hands-on workshop at Citizen Space on Saturday, November 2!!!

1) People will only negotiate if they believe you can help them or hurt them

I know, I know -- it sounds obvious, right?  Well, this golden rule of negotiation too often gets overlooked and leads parties to focus on the wrong things.  We tend to be single-minded about what we want when we negotiate.  It’s easy to overlook the reasons why the other party is even willing to negotiate with us in the first place.  

How many times has someone refused to even negotiate with you at all about something?  “That's not up for discussion” or “This is non-negotiable.”  Sound familiar?  Chances are, that person knew that you could neither hurt them nor help them in that scenario.  As result, there was no point in even engaging with you about it.  

People often view negotiation as an inherently competition exercise – two sides in opposition to one another - one winner, one loser.  Sometimes that's just the way it is.  But whether the tone is antagonistic (say, divorce proceedings) or collegial (salary negotiation for your dream job), all negotiations entail two or more parties who are in some way mutually interdependent.  Each party wants or needs something from the other.  Each believes that the either side can in some form either hurt them, by denying something they want, and/or help them, by giving them something they want.  Otherwise, there would be no point in negotiating.  

Keep this principle in mind as you ask questions and gather information to enhance your understanding of what the other side really cares about and, more importantly, why.

2) Focus on interests, not positions

The distinction between interests and positions has long been a fundamental concept in negotiation theory.  It’s one of those frameworks that, once you’ve learned it, seems like a no-brainer.  I first learned about interests and positions over a decade ago when I picked up Fisher and Ury’s classic Getting to Yes.  I continue to be amazed by how often this framework proves useful in reaching agreements and preventing negotiations from spiraling into full-blown conflicts.

The premise is simple.  Here’s how I like to boil it down:

A position is what you want.  It’s a particular viewpoint or set of requirements from which there is often little to no movement...at least on the surface.  

For example, let’s say I’m in the market to buy a new car.  One position might be that I want a car that will get at least 45 miles per gallon (mpg).  

An interest is why you want it. It’s the underlying economic, emotional or logistical need that helps to explain why you take a particular position. 

So, we said that we want a car that will get at least 45mpg.  Great.  But the question that often goes unasked and unanswered is: Why?  The answer can determine whether we’re able to actually get what we want out of the negotiation.  

If I’m the car dealer, and my most efficient model only gets 42mpg, should I just say “Oh well, I guess we can’t help you” and let you walk out the door?  No, of course not!  (When has a car salesman ever done that, right?!)  What I need to do as the seller is determine why it is you say you want 45mpg, what specific interest you have invested in that number, and whether it’s really about efficiency at all.  

So what do I do?  I start to ask questions.  I might discover that what you really want is a car that is significantly more environmentally friendly than your previous car, and 45mpg just sounded right to you based on the market research you've done.  If the concern is actually about ecological footprint rather than range or fuel economy, I could try to address your interest by pointing out that our 42mpg model actually has the lowest emissions of any car in its class, has won a slew of awards from environmental publications and qualifies for a government incentive program, etc.    

The ability to navigate interests and positions is one of the core principles of negotiation, for good reason.  It only becomes possible when we allow ourselves to be genuinely curious and open-minded about the other party.   

3) In boxing, styles make fights; in negotiation, styles should prevent fights

People tend to think that negotiation style is just a reflection of your personality or career path.  While there is a kernel of truth to this assumption, it’s largely based on stereotypes and oversimplification.  For instance, I encounter a lot of negotiation students who assume that a high-powered corporate lawyer will use a competition style, whereas a nonprofit director is more likely to be collaborative, and a social worker will be an accommodating push-over.  As individuals we all have  tendencies that reflect our personalities (and professional environments that tend to value and reinforce certain styles over others).  That said, negotiation styles are actually tools that can be deployed at will in a strategic way. 

In a boxing match, a fighter might be naturally more defensive-minded or aggressive.  But the most skillful practitioners of the "sweet science" know how and when to mix it up to accomplish what they’ve set out to do.  In negotiations with more than one issue at play, skillful negotiators will often use one style for one issue and a different style for another issue.  Rather than triggering a more explosion conflict, as a great clash of styles might do in a prize fight, modulating styles in a negotiation context can help to prevent the process from breaking down into an intractable conflict where no one gets what they want.

For instance, going back to the new car example… As the seller, I might be more competitive or uncompromising on the issue of overall price -- maybe because I have a quota to fill for the month or because I know that particular model is a low-margin unit. However, on the issue of amenities or lease terms or service discounts, I might take on a much more accommodating style, in terms of both content and tone.  

Negotiation style is not simply a reflection of your innate personality.  It’s a tool that you can use to your advantage.   

4) Watch out for anchors – they can drag you down!

Anchoring is an attempt to establish a reference point, or anchor, around which the rest of the negotiation process will revolve.  Anchors often take the form of first offers and prove most dangerous in situations where there exists an imbalance of power, resources or information.  Or when protocol dictates that only one party has the right to make the first offer. 

While often our first instinct is to hold back, keep our cards close to the vest and let the other party make the first move, making the first offer can have a powerful, anchoring effect by distorting the other party’s perceptions of the range within an agreement might actually be possible.

For example, let’s say that you’re a hiring manager at a design firm and I’m the new young associate you want to bring onto the team.  In actuality I'm your first and only viable choice for this position, yet I have no idea what you’re actually willing to pay me...and even if I asked you directly, you’d probably be evasive about it.  All I have is a general sense of the market rate based on some anecdotal online research I’ve done on your firm’s competitors, which suggests a range anywhere from $30,000 up to as much as $70,000.  So I go in expecting to end up somewhere close to $50k. 

Let’s say you tell me that you’re super excited for me to join the team and the salary that you’re offering is $36,500.  I might think to myself: whoa, I’m pretty sure I deserve $50k, but what if you’re even not authorized to go higher than $40k for entry-level associates?  Or what if your second choice candidate would happily take $36k?  Hmm…maybe I shouldn’t push for much more than $40k, because I don’t want to insult you…

Little do I know that you’ve been authorized to offer up to $51,500, after a six-month review and satisfactory performance. 

Yeah.  I’ve just been anchored.  Your first offer has distorted my perception of your actual range, because protocol dictates that it’s disrespectful to make a counteroffer that strays too far from what’s already been put on the table. 

Which leads us to...

5) Preparation, preparation, preparation

In real estate, it’s all about location.  Well, for negotiators, it all comes down to preparation.  One of the only ways to counteract the effects of a well-placed anchor, is to arm yourself with compelling information, to carefully prepare your reaction to resistance that you might encounter and to fully understand your contingency plan or other tactics that you can deploy to increase your odds of getting what you need and want. 

To learn more about these concepts, how to effectively plan and prepare for a negotiation and much more, sign up for my fun, immersive workshop, The Art of Negotiation and Conflict Management on Nov 5, hosted by Citizen Space!!!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Inclusiva's Workshop Madness Coming November 2013 (UPDATED)

Inclusiva workshops are blowing up!  My calendar for November is quickly filling up with wall-to-wall classes focused on highly valuable and widely applicable topics to help take your professional skills and expertise to the next level.  

Here’s the (growing) list of upcoming workshops that I’ll be teaching at venues in San Francisco and Oakland in the upcoming weeks: 

November 2 @ CoLearn / Citizen Space
The Art of Negotiation and Conflict Management

Let's make a deal!  Always a crowd-pleaser, this hands-on training camp of negotiation and conflict resolution techniques will take you from zero to hero.  In response to demand, I'm debuting a longer format this time around that will leave even more time for practicing your newly minted skills in simulated negotiations and conflict exercises.  If your goal is get more of what you want in negotiations and less of what you don't want in conflict situations, you owe it to yourself to take this course.

November 5 @ Impact Hub Oakland (RECENTLY ADDED!!!)
Get Crowdy: The Entrepreneur's Guide to Crowdfunding 

This just in...my lively, illuminating introduction to the wonderful world of crowd finance is coming to the new Impact Hub space in Oakland on November 5!  Whether you're an entrepreneur looking to leverage your networks to finance your endeavor or a creator hoping to fund your next project, this quick, 2-hr workshop will bring you up to speed on everything you need to know to execute a successful campaign. Is it just me, or is it getting crowdy in here?

November 9 @ CoLearn / Citizen Space

Money, technology and good ideas can only take us so far. When push comes to shove, it's skillful leaders who make awesome things happen.  Leadership and interpersonal dynamics prove time and again to be crucial yet too often misunderstood skills for entrepreneurs, business owners and other professionals.  Don't doubt yourself.  Leadership skills can be learned and the impact is undeniable.

November 16 @ CoLearn / Citizen Space

Jerry Maguire doesn't need to yell "show me the money!" anymore because these days it's everywhere if you know how and where to for it.  The world of fundraising is changing like never before and this course will guide you through the process of raising money to finance your business or creative project, 21st century-style.  Come learn why I've been getting rave reviews for this informative and super-helpful course.

November 21 @ Tech Liminal

Got stress?  Excellent!  That tells me you're a human being and not a robot impostor; it also means that this workshop is perfect for you!  This workshop offers practical tips and strategies that will change your relationship to time and help make your work more efficient and rewarding. This is a new topic for Inclusiva, one that offers a ton of valuable content for professionals of all types, in addition to entrepreneurs and business owners.  

December 14 @ General Assembly

Image courtesy of General Assembly
Back by popular demand!  I debuted this topic back in July, and it continues to strike a chord.  I've included this topic in my three-workshop series at Citizen Space, and it'll be making a triumphant return to General Assembly.  I'm excited to reprise this fun, rewarding workshop for leaders and managers of all types and stripes.   

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Leadership Workshop at General Assembly

Image courtesy of General Assembly
There's a lot more to leadership than how many social media followers you have, the title on your business card or the number of decimal points in your bank statement.  

Money, technology, and good ideas can only take us so far as entrepreneurs and creators. Effective leadership and interpersonal skills remain the most pivotal and indispensable resources for any business venture. Time and again they prove to be intrinsic part of any professional role, even if that role isn't explicitly a leadership position, and even more important for entrepreneurs and professionals looking to move their careers to the next level. 

Far too often, the task of leading and managing others leaves us feeling awkward, uncomfortable, even overwhelmed. It can feel like a magical talent or a DNA sequence reserved for a select few -- i.e., not us. To really learn and internalize what it takes to be a leader, reading "The Art of War" on the toilet just isn't going to cut it. 

That's why, at General Assembly in San Francisco on Saturday July 27, I'll be leading a hands-on workshop that offers helpful strategies and frameworks to take your leadership toolkit to the next level. Using a combination of informative presentations, examples, and team exercises, the session will help you leverage your own style and personality to evolve as a professional decision-maker, communicator, and motivator.

For more info, visit General Assembly or email me: coach@inclusivastrategies.com

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Find Your Flow: How the Psychology of Optimal Experience Makes Work and Recreation More Rewarding

A jazz drummer hits every note in her solo, and bends the rhythm in unexpected ways.  

A basketball player lands a three-pointer, then another, and another – he feels like he can’t miss. 

A professor delivers a lecture and keeps every student engaged and participating.  Suddenly, two hours have felt like two minutes.  

A standup comic thoroughly “kills,” leaving the audience in hysterics.  It’s as if he can do no wrong.

These are all examples of flow.  We’ve all experienced it, almost certainly more than once, maybe even on a daily basis.  But more than likely, we didn’t have the words to describe it, or the framework to fully understand the psychological mechanics behind it, let alone the awareness of how to wield it to improve performance at work.  Last week I delivered a presentation on flow to a group of fellow coaches, consultants and other entrepreneurial service providers.  What follows is an introduction to the core concepts of flow and some suggestions for further reading.  

What is Flow? 

Flow state, also known as optimal experience, is the point at which your challenges align with your skills (see graph).  The term also describes a process of acting with full involvement, energized concentration and enjoyment.  The term was coined and developed by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced ME-high CHICK-sent-me-high-ee...yeah, good luck with that), a pioneer of positive psychology, who published a number of books on the subject (see below).  
Csikszentmihalyi aimed to explain the special feeling he experienced while rock climbing.  Some call it being “in the zone,” “firing on all cylinders” or being "in the pocket" – regardless of the label, flow can be an incredibly powerful force – not only in sports and recreation but also in business.

What Happens in a Flow State?

Csikszentmihalyi, along with other researchers he influenced, identified the following eight dimensions of flow:
  1. Clear goals and immediate feedback.  Video game designers have long understood and attempted to capitalize on this phenomenon.  Part of what makes video games potentially so addictive is that the goals for each activity are clearly explained to you and you earn rewards or acknowledgement each time you achieve them within the game.
  2. Equilibrium between level of challenge and personal skill.  As the graph above depicts, flow emerges when the level of challenge entailed in an activity aligns with the individual's personal level of skill. This can happen through serendipity, but understanding the mechanics of flow can empower you to make proactive adjustments -- either decreasing the challenge or increasing your skills -- in order to facilitate flow for yourself. 
  3. Merging of action and awareness. In flow you feel fully immersed in the activity, free of distractions.  This is why people often refer to it as being in the "zone" -- this is an instance, not unlike a meditative state or trance, where consciousness takes on measurably different parameters.  
  4. Intense, focused concentration on the present moment.  That NBA player hitting three-pointers or nailing free-throws is somehow able to tune out the roar of the crowd.  That's because flow state enables an incredible level of concentration that doesn't feel tedious or forced. 
  5. Sense of potential control or agency over the activity.  When challenge and skill achieve equilibrium, one of the byproducts is a heightened sensation of efficacy and the ability to influence the outcome.  This feeling, not surprisingly, becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that enables heightened performance.  
  6. Loss of self-consciousness.  You also lose any sense of self-doubt or concern for how others are perceiving you, despite whatever pressure or expectations might exist. 
  7. Time distortion. When people enter into a state of flow, they often lose track of time, experiencing a subjective alteration in their perception of time.  For some, time speeds up – suddenly three hours have past but only felt like thirty minutes.  For others, time appears to slow down – think Neo in the Matrix – and they feel as if they can think faster and accomplish more than usual in mere moments.   
  8. Autotelic experience – intrinsically self-rewarding activity. Whether it's the panoramic view at the top of the mountain, the applause from the crowd, or simply the knowledge of a job well done, flow can only be achieved when the activity entails some mechanism for self-satisfaction and gratification.  
What Are the Benefits of Flow?

Flow can be an incredibly powerful tool for learning, innovation and productivity.  Flow has been shown to offer the following benefits in a wide variety of contexts:
  • Enhances performance and creativity.  Flow makes you more productive and open to experimentation and outside of the box thinking that leads to breakthroughs and innovation.  
  • Prompts learning and new skill development.  The inherently rewarding nature of activities conducted in a flow state incentivizes you to continually increase the level of challenge along with your skills to generate that rewarding feeling. 
  • Enables collaboration and co-creation. Major companies have been trying to tap into collective flow states to empower teams of employees to work together to be more productive and creative.   
  • Increases satisfaction, enjoyment and quality of life.  Most importantly of all, flow makes us happier and more contented.  It just feels damn good and produces terrific outcomes.  
Check out this video for a quick tutorial on how to use flow to combat anxiety and boredom in the workplace.

My Experience of Flow

The more I think about it, the more I realize that I've experienced flow in a variety of different activities.  The one that sticks with me most is playing music.  When I was playing drums in bands in high school and college, especially during longer improvisations, I would often find myself losing track of time and feeling a special sense of control and creative energy.  It was as if I could do no wrong.  At the time I didn’t have the terminology to describe this sensation, but now I can identity it as a flow state.  Part of what makes art so rewarding for creators – and can sometimes lead to obsession – is this feeling of being completely immersed in and empowered by an activity.

Recreation is one thing, but what about work?  To be honest, until I started coaching I rarely felt myself reach a state of flow in a professional context.  When I’m preparing for a coaching session or workshop, or actually working with a client, I often feel myself entering into this state of heightened awareness and empowerment.  Now the challenge is to develop the level of skill necessary to achieve flow while tackling other aspects of the business – such as sales and business development – that don’t feel as intuitive and gratifying. 

Go Forth and Flow!

For more information on flow, how to use it to increase productivity and creativity (for yourself or for your employees) please feel free to reach out to me via coach@inclusivastrategies.com.  

Further reading on the subject:
Fast Company's article on the Art of Work 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Inclusiva Now Offering Business Workshops and Executive Coaching

The Inclusiva website has recently undergone some important tweaks and updates.  In addition to some layout and navigational improvements, I'm pleased to announce a couple of exciting developments:

Now Offering Nifty New Workshops 

First off, Inclusiva is now offering speaking and instructional engagements on a variety of business topics, including:  
  • Time and Stress Management
  • The Art of Budgeting
  • Negotiation & Conflict Management
  • Unlocking the Mysteries of Crowdfunding (Always a...wait for it...crowdpleaser!  Sorry.)

Each of these topics can be addressed in either workshop or lecture format.  To learn more or to inquire about booking a workshop or keynote, please contact me to chat. 

C-Levels Types Need Coaching, Too

Secondly, I'm expanding my menu of services to include more specialized executive coaching, designed for corporate officers and nonprofit directors.  Inclusiva remains committed to serving a diverse array of clients, with a special emphasis on creative business owners.  Though the focus of the content may differ from the small business context, I believe that my interdisciplinary expertise and holistic approach to coaching will prove to be a game-changer for clients in larger organizational settings as well.    

The Harvard Business Review recently published research on the skills that many high-powered, entrepreneurially minded leaders lack.  The study found that while serial entrepreneurs tested above average in skills such persuasion, personal accountability and goal-setting, they ranked severely below average when it came to empathy, planning and organizing and self-management.  While these findings should come as little surprise to anyone who has ever worked closely with tech entrepreneurs, they suggest that executives in a wide variety of organizations need more effective help and guidance to develop these crucial skill sets.

Inclusiva's executive coaching services will address the needs of executives who want to challenge themselves to address their weaknesses head-on and develop their mastery in the following areas: Planning & Organizing, Delegation, Power and Humility, Problem-solving, Empathy, Interpersonal Dynamics, Conflict Management, Work-Life Balance, Time/Stress Management, etc. 

While often derisively referred to as "soft skills," these qualities exert a concrete impact on business performance - including the bottom line.  To learn more, check out Inclusiva's new Executive Coaching page, and refer Inclusiva to any corporate officers or nonprofit managers you think might be interested in holistic coaching services. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Top 10 Praiseworthy Podcasts for Business and (Guilty) Pleasure

Maybe you endure a hellish daily commute, enjoy distracting yourself at the gym, or just need to zone out while cooking dinner.  Whichever scenario sounds most familiar, my forthcoming list of go-to podcasts offers no shortage of intellectual stimulation and shameless diversion.  For enjoying these and other fine audio programs, I highly recommend an app called Stitcher, available for free on your smartphone and desktop web browser, which allows you to organize your favorite podcasts into playlists (e.g., business, politics and pleasure – guilty or otherwise).  

Business Podcasts:

Despite being a longtime listener of NPR, it took me a while to give Marketplace a chance.  It probably had something to do with the fact that the voice of its host and senior editor Kai Ryssdal sounded overly slick and narcissistic -- I visualized the progeny of a used car salesman and a game show host in front of a microphone.  Little did I know that Ryssdal is bright and well-intentioned, and his show is almost unquestionably the finest all-around business and economics podcast currently gracing the airwaves.  With an unexpectedly sociological perspective on finance, Marketplace makes the world of mainstream business accessible and engaging for experts and laypeople alike. 

If my grandfather knew what a podcast was, he would never forgive me for neglecting to include Mr. Zakaria on my list of favorites.  Despite the title, this is not a show about geolocation gadgets.  CNN's GPS – an annoying, head-scratch inducing acronym for Global Public Square – features consistently thoughtful and articulate editorials by its host (past troubles with plagiarism notwithstanding).  With uncharacteristic intellect and worldliness, FZ proves week after week that he remains one of the few worthwhile commentators in the increasingly odious cable news landscape. 

An offshoot of the aforementioned Marketplace, the Morning Report offers insightful business stories in succinct, seven-minute segments.  When you just want a taste of the day’s headlines without too much of a time commitment, this show is a great option.   

Join good-natured, low-key host Michael Krasny, Ph.D. as he explores political, economic and cultural topics, including those that affect the Bay Area in particular.  Ever since 1993 Krasny has been interviewing intellectuals, authors and other newsmakers with his genial, easy-going style.  Forum has a slightly more local Nor Cal focus than some other shows on this list, and includes a mixed bag of call-ins from listeners, but it deals with broad themes and issues that should prove relevant to a wide audience.

TWiST is a weekly podcast series hosted by tech entrepreneur Jason Calacanis who discusses the latest developments in the world of Silicon Valley tech startups and interviews founders of emergent internet companies.  This one is new to my lineup, but offers casual yet revealing chats with a roster of interesting guests for those interested in technology, venture finance, crowdfunding and related topics.

Entertainment Podcasts:

Is there anyone left out there who isn’t hooked on TAL?  Every week Ira Glass and company deliver engrossing, humorous and often poignant stories that blur the lines between journalism and radio drama.  Last year they were forced into an unprecedented apologia after finding themselves in hot water for airing a story called "Mr. Daisy and the Apple Factory," which turned about to be almost entirely fabricated.  But in true TAL fashion, even their retraction proved captivating and unforgettable.  If you want a shining example of TAL’s brilliance, check out this installment entitled "The Incredible Case of the P.I. Moms," a seemingly straightforward story that quickly devolves into an outrageous, mind-bending tale of criminal conspiracy, corruption and intrigue that is not to be believed.

I have a serious soft spot for Terry Gross, the venerable host of NPR’s long-running Fresh Air interview show.  Pretty sure I'm not the only one.  Among the most classic interviews I’ve ever come across was Terry’s testy encounter with KISS frontman (and unhinged megalomaniac) Gene Simmons back in 2002.  Several times a week, Terry and her inner circle of contributors interview prominent actors, filmmakers, musicians and other newsmakers, blending unassuming politeness with probing interrogation. 

Erudite, dreadlocked film critic Elvis Mitchell interviews Hollywood insiders on his weekly public radio show.  Mitchell often surprises his guests with the depth of his research and the scholarly – bordering occasionally on pretentious – questions that he brings to each conversation.  For any fan of motion pictures, this one is a no brainer.     

I first became aware of Aisha Tyler as the voice of perpetually exasperated secret agent Lana Kane on FX’s hilariously off-the-wall animated series Archer.  Turns out this foul-mouthed female comic is a Bay Area native who loves science fiction, video games and fine whiskeys...be still my heart.  Her suggestively titled podcast series features surprisingly in-depth, down-to-earth chats with fellow comedians and other entertainers she admires.  A great example of the show is her fascinating convo with legendary chef, food writer and irrepressibly hedonistic TV personality Anthony Bourdain.

You don’t have to be a comic book geek to enjoy former filmmaker turned podcast pioneer Kevin Smith’s weekly interview show devoted to his love for the Caped Crusader…but it helps.  This series is an unabashed guilty pleasure for anyone who adores all things related to Batman and Gotham City as much as I do.  Despite Smith’s indulgent, meandering introductions and ganja-fueled asides, the show features fascinating interviews with many of the key artists involved in Bat-media, from the current New 52 comics to the beloved Animated Series, the Chris Nolan trilogy and beyond.