As a special treat this week, we’re offering some “Real Stuff My Boss Says” with e2 media network executive producer and host of The Big Picture Podcast, Joel Fieri. As we look back on how this whole podcast network thing began, instead of wondering “Could we do this, or could we do that?”, Joel continually asked the question “Why Shouldn’t we do this or that?” This subtle change of approach led to opportunities that neither of us would have imagined over the ensuing couple of years.
In this week’s episode, Joel shares the story of how the e2 media network began: Joel was using his background as a printer to screen t-shirts for a variety of different local ministries, including his church. Now, the rooms he used as a printing shop were once used as toddlers and nursery Sunday School rooms before his church moved to their new property. As he was walking around, noticing all the bright colors on the walls, he noticed that one wall was a perfect chromakey green – often used for TV weathermen or other video effects. It was then that he “shot an arrow prayer” to God, asking “Is this something that can be used? Who would need something like this?”
Joel than started asking around and found out that a missionary friend from a church he had attended several years ago was actually looking for a new studio to shoot his TV show in – and was in need of a green screen.
That’s when I entered into the story. Joel and I had a mutual friend who knew that I was looking for a “new opportunity” for work (in other words, I had been laid off) and connected the two of us. I saw the potential of what could be done with the right vision and direction, which Joel seemed to have. Meanwhile, Joel was still wondering if not only the facility, but would I be useful in something, somewhere in connection with either his missionary friend, or some other unknown area of spreading God’s Word.
It was right about this time when Joel’s wife and another friend asked him, “Why are you printing t-shirts? Look what you might have over there.”
The trick was that, at the time, Joel still didn’t really have a clear vision or understanding of the opportunity that was in front of him.
That’s when he realized his new role: to keep his ear to the ground, learn about the needs that people had and then ask the question, “If the need is there and the resources are there, are there any reasons why we shouldn’t step in?”
Now, this is a bit of a different approach than what I had heard from other leaders in the past. Instead of merely asking, “Can we do this?” Joel was asking if there was any good reason not to do something.
Joel credits this perspective to his own humility, awareness that he doesn’t know everything, and his being comfortable with the fact that there’s a lot that he doesn’t know. You see, if he stayed doing what he knew and felt comfortable doing, he would still be printing t-shirts (and his back would be going out on him weekly and his clothing – and perhaps more in his life – would be a mess).
Instead, he recognized the opportunity of offering a microphone to several gifted people that he had come in contact with, allowing them to present their messages to the masses via podcasts and videos. He didn’t know how to do it all, but by merely being open to one opportunity, which led to the next, which led to the next, he simply followed the path of doors that seemed to be opening in front of us.
Ironically, even as Joel has stepped forward into the unknown, he hasn’t ever felt a sense of foreboding or fear along the way. Instead, he’s constantly comforted by knowing what God has done in the past, the friends and professionals that God has placed in his life through this journey, and the consistent encouragement and stream of doors that He seems to be opening as we’ve moved along.
One significant need that Joel sees in our culture today is that Christians NEED to keep talking. Too often, the cultural norms that surround us are telling us to keep quiet, or “keep our religious beliefs to ourselves”. Knowing that there must be a lot of people out there who have something valuable to say, and who God wants to be heard, Joel realized that he had the ability to keep the conversations flowing via the e2 media network.
One example of Joel keeping his eyes, ears and heart open to what God may be telling him was how his and my podcasts even began. They weren’t the first podcasts on the network. Actually, a friend had approached Joel with an interesting idea of creating a video podcast similar to those he saw on ESPN, with the aim to bridge the gap between Hispanic and Caucasian churches in the San Diego area. Well, the podcast didn’t last long – only a handful of episodes, but people did download them and it spurred the thought of “Is there any reason we can’t produce something similar?” Joel then challenged me to start a podcast, sharing the things that we had been discussing around the water cooler – and that’s how Real Stuff My Dad Says began. But I wouldn’t start recording my show until Joel joined me out on that limb.
Soon after each of us started recording, Joel discovered one person after another who would tell him, “I’d love to start a podcast, but I just don’t know how”. After a few episodes, Joel and I figured out the “how” part of the equation, which then quickly led to the “who” part of the equation, as Joel began realizing the possibilities of producing podcasts and keep people talking!
As the Bible says, as we seed His direction, God will provide a light on our path – and thank God it’s just a light and not a complete road map, otherwise we’d find some way to mess things up! So, it’s been amazing to watch how God has led Joel from printing t-shirts to a little video set in front of a green screen to an ever-growing podcast network and more!
And it all began by asking, “Why shouldn’t we do this?”