'New Voices' is a weekly column, released every Tuesday, that highlights the trailblazers in the growing podcast industry.
Our society has recently coined the term "youth-driven culture" which certainly describes the entertainment business effectively. As newfound stakeholders in the entertainment realm, podcasts take on a personal responsibility to curate the narrative behind what drives the youth. For our generation, there is a looming air of misrepresentation that paints Millennials and Gen-Z as entitled, lazy, and misinformed. Podcasts like Driven Minds, presented by Driven Society, are here to dispel these myths through intellectual conversation on the things that concern us most.
In typical millennial fashion, we stumbled across Driven Society through Instagram and were immediately intrigued by their engaging content that connects a multitude of creatives through social events, panels, and their podcast. Founders Travis Weekes and Franz Bowen are on a very clear mission to inform and provide their audience with tools that expand their minds and fosters growth. We got the chance to turn the focus on this ambitious duo and spotlight their journey. Read the interview below.
What inspired you to start Driven Society?
Weekes: One day, I called my business partner up and told him that God told me to start a podcast with [Franz]. We were already creating a platform through our events now with Driven Minds. [That] stemmed from a desire to highlight the minority voices that have been able to break into spaces that are not traditionally seen as easily accessed by our communities. [It was] a way to showcase these voices and to demonstrate that you can break into these spaces too. To celebrate individuals that have been able to overcome difficult situations and thrive despite the circumstances. To show how individuals have been able to overcome difficult situations as a way to provide an example. To inspire individuals to be their best selves. Lastly, to provide a step-by-step process of how individuals have thrived in their respective fields as a way to help you gain the resources to do so in your field.
Where do you find your guests for the podcast?
Bowen: I have found guests on Instagram or meeting someone at a day party or networking event. It may sound corny, but I've always gravitated towards progressive energy; it's how I'm wired. Our meeting is organic more often than not. More directly, our network helps a lot too. It's always dope [to] have a respected colleague text [or] call you like, "I have someone I think you should speak to." It's made our experience richer.
Why is Driven Society important to the culture?
Weekes: First, it's demonstrating how spaces that we didn't think we're accessible to us, are. And we provide you the step-by-step process as to how these individuals achieved their goals. Second, it's opening up a space for conversations not usually discussed. Conversations on success and drive lead to conversations on heartbreak, mental health, sacrifice, and vulnerability. We want our communities to have these conversations more often. But also, we want you to understand that the people behind the mics had tough experiences just like you and chose to make something positive out of it. We want you to believe that you have the ability to be successful.
Bowen: The stories of success are skewed to 2-3 narratives: the classic entertainer or the athlete. Our conversations aim to provide context and uncover nuance to the idea of success. Hearing multiple narratives gives our listener an opportunity to celebrate their individuality and challenges them to define success for themselves. We need more free-thinkers to evolve into the professional community that can leverage professional and financial power in the future.
When the media misconstrues stories pertaining to black culture, how do you leverage your podcast to provide a different perspective?
Weekes: That's part of the fuel that keeps our engine running. For every misconstrued story the media puts out, we show them an individual that is succeeding. We use it to prove the media wrong. We show them how we are excelling, how we are pushing our culture forward, how we do have great ideas, and that we are influential.
Bowen: Media often strips us of our humanity, you become more of what you've done instead of who you are. Our platform allows our listeners to walk a mile in the shoes of our guest and find a commonality in our individual struggles. It also helps that Trav and I are a part of the culture we report on and we never take our first-hand insights for granted. It allows us to cultivate richer storytelling because we know what questions to ask. We ask, how? But, more importantly, we ask: Why?
How do you develop subjects to discuss on your podcast?
Weekes: We are very intentional when we choose guests for our podcasts. We started by highlighting dope individuals within our networks. Today, we look for minority individuals in various industries—media, sports, finance, entrepreneurship, PR—who are currently excelling and worked hard to get to their current position. One of the messages we want to help spread is that, with drive and hard work, these industries do become accessible. We highlight individuals who experienced difficult situations to get to where they are today and, as a result, touch on difficult themes, such as mental health, homelessness, [or] tragic experiences, which open up a space to these controversial topics.
Bowen: The main narrative of our podcast is the road to success. Our subjects are all-encompassing of that sacrifice and reward. Our subjects are just questions we have as fellow travelers.
How do you push the culture forward with your projects at Driven Society?
Weekes: We're continuously working on building a platform of creatives, entrepreneurs, artists and driven individuals amplifying their influence and disrupting the networks that create it. We're curating events that support small business owners. We have panel series that provide with you a step-by-step process to build, launch, and finance your endeavor. We're constantly putting you in front of the most successful creatives and giving you access to their information. We are constantly looking for ways to help you gain the resources to be successful. Most importantly, we create the most captivating events for our community.
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