Tips  on spiritual growth, emotional health, and relational healing.


Telling Stories: The Moment with Brian Koppleman

Jan 14, 2016

Our culture lives on stories.

We share stories via social media (ex. Humans in New York Facebook Group). We go en masse to see them in theaters (The Force Awakens). When we enjoy them in books, the rights are quickly snatched up and they become films or TV Shows (The Hunger Games, Fifty Shades of Grey, Game of Thrones).

When the stories are real (like Humans of New York), it’s engaging on a whole different level. Fascinating podcasts like NPR’s Fresh Air or The Moth Podcast have done very well in this space.


My favorite podcast of 2015 was The Moment with Brian Koppelman. The Moment includes interview with about the pivotal moments that fueled fascinating creative careers. Koppelman is the co-writer of movies like Ocean’s Thirteen and Rounders. He’s currently the producer of Showtime’s new show, Billions.

Why Brian Koppleman and The Moment are Unique

I believe Koppelman is one of the best interviewers at work today. The reason why I believe this is he regularly gets his guests to go to more vulnerable and transparent places than I hear anywhere else. (Like when Ken Rosenthal, co-creator of the TV show, Everybody Loves Raymond, shared about writing he’s avoided doing because he’s waiting for someone to die first. Crazy!) As I’ve evangelized others re: the wonders of The Moment, they’ve confirmed my belief, noting interviews with the same guests in other settings never got to the same level.

What The Moment Has Taught Me

I’ve learned several things from listening to dozens of episodes of The Moment.

Pivotal moments are often crises we tried to avoid. Koppelman’s interview with chef Mario Batali included stressful moments in the restaurant world and a medical event where his brain was affected. Insights and changes came from that crisis which positively impacted Batali’s family and career. I was reminded of Jack Canfield’s quote, “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”

We want to be honest, especially if the environment feels safe. Koppelman’s interview with Jon Acuff included an admission that Jon wrote a book which his heart wasn’t in promoting because he felt like a fake. Acuff’s newest book was the exact opposite – the lessons he learned from making a fresh start after quitting his “dream job”. This echoed the sentiment of Anne Marie Miller’s concept, The Gift of Going Second.

It feels scary to admit our cynicism. When the host of NBC’s Meet the Press, Chuck Todd, sat down with Brian, he responded to Koppelman’s observations that he appeared to becoming more cynical and frustrated. Todd’s honesty about his own struggle with skepticism and cynicism about both parties and the political process was refreshing. I was scared earlier today when I told some people I worked as a pastor for a long time while battling cynicism. Vulnerability is often scary.

Our words can set others free. One of the most powerful interviews Koppelman did was with his wife, Amy. Amy’s story of battling depression and overcoming resistance as a writer resonated with me on a deep level. When she shared how writing saved her life and the words of other writers carried her, I was reminded of the power each of us hold in our words – written, spoken, and recorded. A few words from us can have a massive impact on others, even years later.

Art change the world. I hadn’t heard of Sarah Kay until her episode. A spoken word poet, Kay has one of the most popular TED talks in terms of online views. Koppelman shared how Kay’s poetry inspired his daughter to write and Kay shared how she and her friends use poetry to educate and mentor the next generation. I was reminded of the films, books, and music which altered who I am, how I view the world and interact with others.

The Best of The Moment

If you listen to podcasts or enjoy interviews, I think you’d enjoy The Moment. Warning: most of the episodes include salty language and a few have been over the top enough that I chose to listen to another episode instead. However, these episodes mentioned above, along with the conversations with Seth Godin, Jesse Itzler, Phil Rosenthal, Paul Giamatti, Seth Meyers and Dave Ramsey left me chewing and pondering for days. If you listen, I’ve given you 10-12 hours of great listening!

While you may not be an interviewer or a host of a podcast, I believe each person you meet today has a story to tell – if only you’ll listen. Listening to interviews like The Moment reminds each of us of the power of the inflection points and pivotal moments we’ve had and are in the middle of today. Who we are is largely shaped and revealed in the most difficult, unexpected seasons. 

I’d love to know if you’re a podcast lover or if you check out The Moment, what you think of it. Feel free to share in the comments or drop me an email.

Oh and remember – your story matters! 

P.S. – I’d love to interview Brian for my Overcoming Fear series. If you want to help me get on his radar, go for it!

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