Episodes
On the final episode of The ZigZag Project, activist Stacey Abrams explains her short-term strategies for sticking to her long-term goals and Manoush shares data from surveying thousands of listeners about making a big career change. The project wraps up with one last assignment and Manoush’s favorite messages from listeners. It’s a tear jerker. The ZigZag Project is six steps (and episodes) to help you map out a path that aligns your personal values with your professional ambitions. Think...
Published 06/03/21
Today is Step 5 of The ZigZag Project, our six-step process to get you from wanting to make a big change in your life and work...to actually making a change, in a responsible and mindful way. Now, as we move from ideation into action, we're getting coaching from Columbia Business School professor, psychologist, and stress researcher Modupe Akinola. Modupe explains why rethinking the scary feelings that come with all big life transitions is crucial as you decide, with the help of this...
Published 05/20/21
On this episode of The ZigZag Project, we move into a more practical phase and start asking hard questions like: What might you need to sacrifice, in order to align your values with your work? Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett shares a story about what she gave up as a young aide, working for the city of Chicago. Manoush gives her own example and asks listeners to try a strange (but proven) methodology to figure out what changes are worth pursuing. The ZigZag Project is six steps (and episodes)...
Published 05/06/21
The third step of The ZigZag Project requires getting weird. Because we're gonna need to dig deep to find new ways to roll back climate change, bring equity to society, and pay our bills. If, after a year of lockdowns and stress, you feel drained at the thought, meet Rob Walker, author of The Art of Noticing. Rob has some unusual ways to inspire you to get creative and figure out your next job, business model, or project. Manoush turns Rob’s insight into this episode’s assignment: The Board...
Published 04/22/21
Conflict resolution specialist Priya Parker joins Manoush to talk about visioning: Taking time out of our daily lives to clarify our professional and personal purpose. With 60% of the project’s beta testers reporting that work is an important part of their identity (and 25% saying they define themselves by the work they do), picturing the future is a particularly crucial step. Manoush shares instructions for listeners to conduct their own visioning lab, similar to the session she did with...
Published 04/08/21
We’re doing something different this season… The ZigZag Project is six steps (and episodes) to help you map out a path that aligns your personal values with your professional ambitions. Think of it as a RESET for your career or business. In this first episode, host Manoush Zomorodi shares stories and data from the 150 listeners who volunteered to test the project. We also learn why change requires spending time in “the neutral zone,” from MIT Humanist Chaplain Greg Epstein, and get our...
Published 03/25/21
You may have heard Aarti Shahani’s voice on the radio when she was NPR’s Silicon Valley reporter. The techies she interviewed often assumed she came from a family of engineers or scientists. Nothing could be further from the truth, Aarti says. Her parents brought her to the U.S. when she was a child. They overstayed their tourist visas, moved the family into a roach-infested apartment, and subsisted on welfare while looking for work. Eventually, they all got green cards and Aarti thrived as...
Published 08/27/20
We recycle. But does it make a difference? We donate our old t-shirts. But does anyone want them? We try to shop less. But isn't that bad for the economy? On this episode, author Adam Minter explains the connections between our personal habits and a massive global network of recycling and secondhand markets...and he helps us consider: what would it take to build an economy that didn't depend on manufacturing yet more STUFF? Plus, Adam's own zig-zagging story: from growing up in a junkyard...
Published 08/20/20
Carrie Goldberg‘s legal career changed course the year her ex-boyfriend relentlessly cyber-harassed her. At the time, the First Amendment protected his right to post nude photos of her and file (false) police reports against her. Frustrated and angry, Carrie quit her stable nonprofit job and started a law firm to help people dealing with abusers and stalkers. But, as Carrie explains, she quickly realized that finding justice for these victims required more than taking on their individual...
Published 08/13/20
From his posts at Harvard and M.I.T., Greg Epstein observed that the tech industry– with its hierarchies and sacred texts–looked a lot like a religion…and his students worshipped at the alter of Elon Musk. The chaplain wondered: how could he counsel techies to build more humane products? On this episode, Greg explains why he decided to take an unusual side gig as TechCrunch’s ethicist-in-residence and bring his Humanist perspective to Silicon Valley. He also shares how he became an atheist...
Published 08/06/20
In 2018, Backstage Capital's Arlan Hamilton was on the cover of Fast Company magazine. The headline was irresistible: homeless, gay, Black woman becomes hot-shot Silicon Valley investor. But the reality is that Black female founders still get token amounts of funding, despite being the fastest growing demographic in the startup world. On this episode, Arlan reflects on whether she's improved the plight of “underestimated and underrepresented” founders and how she explains privilege to white,...
Published 07/30/20
When Eric Ries wrote The Lean StartUp he had no idea his book would inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs to ‘pivot’ and ‘iterate.’ Now Eric is 'disrupting' how we do business again. His Long Term Stock Exchange (LTSE) requires companies to change their measurements of success. Rather than live and die by quarterly earnings reports that require inhumane management tactics, companies on the LTSE have to do right by their employees, customers, and communities. Is that really so...
Published 07/23/20
ZigZag, the business podcast about being human, returns as a member of the TED family of podcasts.  Join this zig-zagging quest with Manoush Zomorodi (Host of NPR’s TED Radio Hour; Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business) to discover new ways we can align our ambitions with systemic change that’s good for our fellow human beings. On Season 5, Manoush profiles six unusual dynamos reinventing business, their industries, and even capitalism in the name of humanity. It will change...
Published 07/16/20
Two years ago, Jen and Manoush quit their jobs and became business partners. Today their adventure comes to an end. Hear how financial and parenting pressures in the age of COVID-19 forced them to make a hard choice. And what happens to this podcast.
Published 05/07/20
The newsletter company MailChimp made an impressive $700 million dollars in revenue in 2019 and, after 20 years, it’s still owned and operated by co-founders, Ben ChestnutandDan Kurzius. On this episode, Ben shares his tactics for staying focused and calm through market crashes, tech disruptions, and now playing role model for CEOs who think success requires treating employees poorly. Manoush and Jen aren’t so sure about Ben’s advice regarding “scaling.” But as they play voice memos from...
Published 12/12/19
Published 12/12/19
As co-host of NPR’s Code Switch, Shereen Marisol Meraji combines groundbreaking reporting on race and culture with her own personal experience as a half-Puerto Rican, half-Persian American. On this episode, she and Manoush discuss why the push for inclusion makes some people uncomfortable and how the diversity discussion can get even more delicate when people don’t clearly identify as white or black—like Manoush, who only recently realized her co-workers considered her a woman of...
Published 12/05/19
Valerie Jarrett‘s fascinating family defied racism to become some of the most influential African-Americans you’ve likely never heard of, including one of Louisiana’s first black legislators and MIT’s first black student. But Jarrett also shares how, despite a law degree and supportive parents, she struggled to find her own career path. Hear what jolted Jarrett out of a professional stupor to find work that mattered to her. Plus, the revolutionary ways she dealt with staffing and “women’s...
Published 11/28/19
For millions of us, air travel comes with the job. NASA physicist Peter Kalmus was no different; he frequently flew to prestigious conferences around the globe to present his research. But then, on a routine flight in 2012, Kalmus had a personal reckoning. Disgusted at how his travel contributed to global warming, he decided to quit airplanes, switch careers, and start an online community for people who’ve changed their flying habits. On this episode, Kalmus shares how he handles invitations...
Published 11/14/19
After an onerous cancer diagnosis, Kate Pickert nearly skipped an interview for a job she desperately wanted. Her husband encouraged her to go, saying, "You never know. Maybe you won't die!" Pickert got the job...and she lived. Now she's a journalism professor and author of Radical: The Science, Culture and History of Breast Cancer in America. On this episode, she tells Jen how investigating her diagnosis like a reporter helped her realize how little people know about the latest cancer...
Published 11/07/19
Double-career couples are the norm these days. But when organizational behaviorist Jennifer Petriglieri looked for studies on how these couples manage their professional and personal responsibilities, she found little research. So Petriglieri did her own five-year study, talking to dozens of couples, and compiling what she learned into the book Couples That Work. On this episode, Petriglieri walks us through the three phases she discovered a couple must navigate to keep their relationship and...
Published 10/31/19
This week, we’re featuring an episode from the IRL podcast called “The Surveillance Economy.” Learn about the rise of surveillance capitalism, and hear from guests like Harvard Business School’s Shoshana Zuboff. She says that Big Tech uses our personal data to not only track, but also predict and even control our behavior. The culture of work and business has changed significantly due to surveillance capitalism. What have we gotten right, and where have we gone wrong?  IRL: Online Life is...
Published 10/28/19
If you live in Michigan or run your company with a bit of an anarchist bent, you've likely heard of the Zingerman's Community of Businesses, including a coffee roaster, creamery, and candy factory, all co-owned and operated. On this episode, co-founder Ari Weinzweig shares the story behind his alternative business empire, starting with a single deli in 1982 that grew into a collective making $60m a year in revenue. Plus, Manoush and Jen reveal their own attempts at business visioning as they...
Published 10/24/19
With her band Tsunami and record label Simple Machines, Jenny Toomey was a fixture on the '90s Washington, D.C. indie music scene. On this episode, Toomey shares her evolution from rocker to founder of the Future of Music Coalition to director at the Ford Foundation, one of the world's wealthiest philanthropies. Be prepared to hear a lot of amazing music...and an inspiring ideas about how youthful ideals can mature into pragmatic and powerful careers. **Who You’ll Hear: **@manoushz (Manoush...
Published 10/10/19
In 2015, Katharine Zaleski wrote an op-ed for Fortune that went viral called I’m Sorry to All the Mothers I Worked With. In it, the former media exec apologized for “a long list of infractions against mothers,” whom she’d assumed couldn’t handle long hours or weren’t committed to their career because of parenting duties. One of those mothers was ZigZag host Manoush Zomorodi. On this episode, she and Katharine make amends and track Katharine’s metamorphosis from a childless boss at the...
Published 09/26/19