Published August 8, 2022

An Exercise in Curiosity

Featuring: Doug Shapiro, Host of the Imagine A Place Podcast, VP of Research and Insights at OFS

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By Jen Levisen

Editor

In the U.S. television industry, the 100-episode mark is the traditional threshold for a series to enter into syndication (cue all the $$$), but what does it mean for a podcast to air its 100th episode?

 

“100 episodes has given me a good reason to pause and reflect. I love the work we’ve done, but I'm equally proud of how much we’ve grown as a team,” says Doug Shapiro, Host of the Imagine A Place Podcast, VP of Research and Insights at OFS. “The talent behind each episode is top notch – Aaron Estabrook is an incredible coach aand digital strategist, Curtis Crow makes magic with 

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audio and our graphics team has evolved a single podcast into something much bigger.”

Imagine a Place celebrated its 100th episode, “Was that ok? A look back after 100 episodes” on Monday, Aug. 8.

 

The first episode of Imagine a Place Podcast aired April 14, 2020, and featured Angie Lee, who at the time was a former partner and design director of interiors at FXCollaborative. Doug and Angie discussed how the pandemic might force us to rethink our current value system around our life, work, and approach to interior design.

“Reflecting back on that first episode feels like trying to remember a movie. It almost doesn't feel real ... it was such a time of uncertainty,” says Doug. “Having a voice like Angie Lee's was important to me. She has such confidence and intelligence about her. She represents the design field in such a strong and positive way.”

“Having a voice like Angie Lee's was important to me. She has such confidence and intelligence about her. She represents the design field in such a strong and positive way.”

Imagine a Place is OFS’s storytelling platform which explores the powerful role place plays through a video series, print magazine, and the weekly podcast. 

 

“This industry is full of creative, courageous, and interesting people and these people have incredible stories,” says Doug. “Through design, they are changing people’s lives, and if you’re in this industry, you understand it; it’s such a special thing. Imagine a Place became a sort of outlet for all of this. We get to share this deep appreciation for our role by highlighting these great stories, people, and places that have made a difference in so many people's lives.”

 

Imagine a Place was created as part of OFS’ rebrand in 2018. 

 

“We had great organic growth throughout the 2000s, with acquisitions along the way and we got to the point where there was a lot of crossover between brands,” says Doug. “We took the opportunity to rebrand OFS and ultimately give people a look inside all of the goodness and humanness of our company.”

Doug started his professional career at OFS in February 2005 and he’s been with the company ever since.

 

“I’ve had a long career and I’ve done a bunch of stuff, but I’m kind of in my dream job right now which is really getting to engage in research and insights,” he says. “You get to exercise this sense of curiosity through research and that curiosity is what drives great insights. The best insights come from the most curious questions, and often through dialogue.”

Earlier this year, OFS launched Imagine a Place Productions, a network of podcasts inspired by the spirit of Imagine a Place.

 

The network currently features three podcasts, in addition to Imagine a Place, that relate to the core of OFS’ values of sustainability and wellbeing:

  • • Break Some Dishes, hosted by Studio O+A’s Verda Alexander and ASID’s Jon Strassner, examines environmental crises through the lens of architecture, design, and creativity.

  • • The Resilience Lab, hosted by author and speaker Rex Miller, explores how we integrate resilience into work and our lives through the journey and stories of others.

  • • The Skill Set, hosted by IIDA EVP and CEO Cheryl Durst, explores the life experiences, earned wisdom, and surprising skills of a broad range of talented professionals across all industries.

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Doug on Memorable Conversations

 

There are certain people who are friends that I enjoy being around and doing this work with. But there are some that I look back on and think that was just a truly unique conversation that I don’t often get to have.

 

One would be Raghava KK, an artist and storyteller from India, who explores the intersection of art, life, and technology. He is an extremely philosophical person who thinks a lot about things that we just accept and do. To hear him wonder and then to wonder myself was a really special conversation to have.


There were other ones that just shared tremendous professional insight. An episode I did with Kay Sargeant from HOK was really special. Another was Regan Donoghue, who leads Workforce Strategy for Unispace. She helped make sense of the pandemic and how people were panicking about the future of place and she brought a lot of great sensibilities to that podcast and I remember thinking at that moment — wow, everyone needs to hear this.

“I had an individual once say to me that everyone says they want podcasts to feel more like conversations, and he said we should actually be doing the opposite — we should be having more conversations that are good enough to be podcasts,” says Doug. “I was like, ‘Wow, that’s true.’ That idea has been part of me and my career growth from the very beginning. The most enjoyable part of my 16-year career has been what’s been right in front of me - the people. And now I just get to publish it to the world.”

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Doug on Interview Style

 

I’ll do my research on the person, but not any more than if I was meeting them for coffee and no one was going to listen to our conversation. I’m not trying to create some secret stash of info; ultimately, we have a pretty casual conversation. But I will make sure the guest knows the three things I’m looking for:

 

  1. Passion. I want the conversation to be centered around what they are passionate about because it will show up in their voice. Between their passion and my curiosity, we’ll be in a good place.

  2. A first-person story. Recall a moment in their life or career that was life-altering, changed their perspective, or maybe was just funny. Those stories are a great place to bring in some music and add some drama or fun.

  3. A unique perspective. What are they uniquely able to educate us on that others can’t? For some, that may be a very specific thing; for others, that’s simply their personal journey.

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