Daniel Giacopelli is familiar with the interview process. He’s just usually the one asking the questions.
Despite seeming like a natural on the mic, Daniel’s path to journalism wasn’t always so clear. Daniel had always aspired to be a diplomat. After completing his masters in London, he fell into a career with a magazine (and now radio station) he’d always admired. Today, he’s a New Yorker living in London and working as the creator, producer, and host of podcasts and radio shows for Monocle 24.
Daniel interviews some of the best and brightest across the world, so we decided to flip the script and ask him what he’s learned, what’s next, and even the story of how he got from A to Z. Don’t forget to check out Daniel’s page and his podcast, The Entrepreneurs.
P.S. We’re especially fans of this episode.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I create, produce, and host podcasts and radio shows for Monocle 24, the global radio station of Monocle magazine based in London.
On any given day I’m either locked in a dark studio furiously reading and writing scripts, on the road somewhere in the world reporting stories for our live news programmes, or interviewing people for our weekly business show, The Entrepreneurs.
I’m from New York, but London’s been home for six years and hopefully for many years to come, Brexit be damned.
What first caused you to become interested in journalism?
I fell into journalism by accident. I’d never given it serious thought until Monocle came knocking. Or until I knocked on Monocle’s door.
How did you get to be doing what you’re doing now, factoring in your education and career path as a whole?
I’ve pretty much always wanted to be a diplomat. I studied international relations as an undergrad in upstate New York, spent a spring semester in Geneva, and taught English for a summer in Brazil. After a two year stint at a startup, I moved to London for grad school. It was an MA in War Studies at King’s College — the guys (and girls) sitting next to me were NGO workers, military officers, journalists, think-tankers and probably a few spies. Lots of textbooks on terrorism, counterinsurgency manuals and Persian dictionaries. I wrote my dissertation on Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. The goal was always to return to the States, but somewhere along the line a life in the civil service lost its appeal. I had a niche degree in a foreign country and no concrete career ideas, so in the summer after turning in my paper I was lucky to stumble on a job posting for Monocle. Tyler (Brûlé, Monocle’s founder and editor-in-chief) was looking to build a team to create something radical, completely from scratch: a truly international and live radio station, based entirely online, with the quality of NPR and BBC World Service but with Monocle’s own unique take on the world. Being a huge Monocle fan I applied, was interviewed, started at the bottom, and wild and crazy doesn’t even begin to describe the past five years.
In your opinion, what is the number 1 quality that makes a successful journalist, writer, and producer?
I didn’t go to journalism school. So, you can be a successful journalist (if such a thing even exists), without going to journalism school. If I have advice for a budding journalist, I’d say find a very good subject — astrophysics, Yemen, blockchain — but also know how to write about everything else too. Or pick an underreported country, move there, work hard, never sleep, and become the go-to foreign correspondent. I’ve seen this done successfully many times. Awareness is also needed. Journalism as an industry is changing rapidly, with all the requisite winners and losers.
You produce and host Monocle’s The Entrepreneurs podcast. What is your process for interviewing some of the top entrepreneurs around the world?
The Entrepreneurs is a 30 minute podcast that airs every Wednesday on M24. Each episode tells the tale of a handful of businesses or startup founders doing amazingly cool and exceptional things around the world.
Often I’ll commission reports from our network of correspondents, everywhere from Belgrade and Athens to Rio and Singapore. We’ve featured hundreds and hundreds of stories like this — bamboo farming in Zimbabwe, Haitian ice cream, Italian rollercoasters, startups in Slovakia, piano making in Greece, alternative currencies in Sardinia, shoemaking in the West Bank, and so on.
But a good portion of each show consists of one-on-one interviews that I do myself with entrepreneurs, either on the road or in our studios at Midori House (Monocle’s London HQ).
Every interviewer works differently, but research and preparation is so key. The more you truly know about someone’s life and career going into the actual interview, the less you’ll need to refer to notes and the more relaxed, fun, and ultimately better the final interview will sound. It sounds obvious but it really does make the difference between a stilted conversation and a chat between old friends.
What have you gained from interviewing some of the world’s best and brightest?
– An inferiority complex.
– Your business idea is not new. But that’s okay. It’s all about the execution.
– Insanely successful people are just like us, but probably more focused.
– Luck also plays a bigger role than we want to admit.
– People always say the most magical things immediately after the tape stops rolling. So, never stop the tape.
What’s next in the world of Daniel Giacopelli? Got anything really cool lined up that you’d like to share?
I’m the proud parent of a new bite-sized Monocle 24 show called Eureka. We launched it just a few weeks ago. It’s the first official spin-off of The Entrepreneurs — it’s in the same ‘family’ but it’s a freestanding and independent show.
There’s so much attention placed on business models, branding, investment, growth, customers, marketing, strategy. All the meaty stuff of a company. Which is totally cool and often very interesting — that’s The Entrepreneurs. But what happened way before the company was launched? The early stories, influences, funny stories and wacky characters, the stops and starts — all the fun stuff leading up to when the idea for the business was hatched. That’s Eureka.
The show airs every Friday and each episode is under 10 minutes. Busy people don’t have time to call their Mom — how can we expect them to listen to a War & Peace sized podcast?
In other news: I’m turning thirty this summer and am accepting gifts.