Inspiration by consumption

Le Mans : Racing is Everything

I left office around 7:30PM, walked back home listening to some or other podcast and having made no further plans, plonked myself in front of my laptop as per usual. Being a couch potato has never been easier than it is now, what with dozens of new shows airing every year and amazing original programming on streaming websites. Streaming has become the new TV, the cutting edge of video content, where every great thing is produced, distributed and consumed. The streaming model is new to India, but we, the IT generation, are adopting it fast and not really minding paying small fee (I am looking at you, Netflix) for the privilege of great content.

Continuing the story, I saw a prompt on the home page of my Amazon Prime account for an Amazon original, Le Mans: Racing is Everything. A documentary. Well these days, those two words need to inspire instant boredom and mean hours of shaky cam footage with poorly edited audio clips and nothing but the pure subject matter to drive interest. These days, documentaries and docu-dramas (part documentary, part drama series) are beautifully directed and edited, and extremely well produced. Le Mans is one of this category.

It generates excitement, gives you a feel for the sport being covered. You are involved with it, engaged with the stories, feel the battles. The direction and slick editing coupled with 4K video really add to the viewing experience but as always, it is the content that drives and sustains interest. It is rare these days to find truly touching content. A book, a blog, an article, a video, a podcast, a movie, a TV series. I see them all, hear them all, read them all. It is the nature of great things that they are needles in a vast haystack of average stuff, but when you do find the needle, it pricks you, draws blood. Draws out a reaction, penetrates the surface which simply deflects all the hay that is thrown at you on a constant basis.

You dwell on the needle. You feel its shiny, bright, cool metallic surface. You marvel at its precision, its sharpness and its uniqueness. You are awed by its ability to penetrate the viewer. In some ways, you are afraid of its greatness. Now it is 2AM when I write this and that has something to do with the exaggeration of praise I am heaping on this documentary. But it is more an expression of what truly great content feels like. It changes you fundamentally. In some ways, it is like art. For art is not meant to look pretty, it is meant to make you feel something.

While I was watching it, giddy with excitement and feeling like a schoolboy, I had an epiphany. Humans love reading the stories of struggle. Of trophies and championships. Of winners, underdogs, davids and goliaths. As I stand now, at the cusp of a new Toastmaster term, I have in my hands a potent weapon of mass communication. Yes, no one really reads newsletters and no one really cares for their content. But we can change that. There are many ways I have planned to do this but one other idea came to me offhand while watching this fabulous story of teams racing to the ragged edge.

We have brilliant competitions in our community as well. Public Speaking has a magic to it and is a spectator sport. Why not dedicate some sort of blog to it, a running commentary on the contest seasons, with in depth accounts of the contestants, expert commentary by judges and chairs, member experiences. Just like a standard sporting event is covered. You take the game in its entirety and expose the workings of it to the world. You track the events, report the successes and failures and give people a way to see great stories in the making. The logistics of doing this are of course, terrible. We are geographically spread very wide and to do this kind of thing requires good quality, on the ground reporting. We need a team of people with an eye for a story and the skills of a writer. We need structure, substance, and a way to really reach the people. We need to make the newsletter into much more what it is now. Not just a passive source of information where you come to read stuff you probably wouldn’t care much about. But more a place where you turn to to get access to exclusive content about public speaking competitions which are unique to Toastmasters and have so much more potential. The mind boggles with possibilities — podcasts, video, articles, all in support of the greatest celebrations of public speaking all over the world.

Of course, all of this and all of what I have thought so far as simply fantasies. The true test of my term will be the output, not the Grand Design. All of those would come to be regarded as the start of the story if it becomes a success and they will also be held up as an example of over planning and under execution in case of failure. So I must remember to keep my wits about me, put together a really solid team and not let people stand in the way of progress. Most of all, temper the enthusiasm, let ideas out the door one by one and not open Pandora’s box. People have varied capacities to accept change and too much too fast will simply be too much to handle for most. But, as always, Hope Springs Eternal.

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