Manage the Moment: Conversations in Performance Psychology

Alie Ward - Host of Ologies; TV Host & Correspondent; Science Communicator

November 25, 2019 Alie Ward Episode 8
Manage the Moment: Conversations in Performance Psychology
Alie Ward - Host of Ologies; TV Host & Correspondent; Science Communicator
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Manage the Moment: Conversations in Performance Psychology
Alie Ward - Host of Ologies; TV Host & Correspondent; Science Communicator
Nov 25, 2019 Episode 8
Alie Ward

Alie Ward, or "Dad Ward", as she is affectionately known to her listeners, is a writer, television host & correspondent, science communicator, and the host of the immensely popular podcast - Ologies. That may sound like a long resume of activities, but Alie accomplishes them all with stellar flare and with great comedic timing, a rare and wonderful combination. On this episode, Alie shares about her performance world, her motivation for her busy world, and the rewards of being authentic, not just in her personal life, but in her very public one as well. Alie also talks candidly about the perils and the privilege of being in the public eye. I'm excited for you to get to know Alie Ward.

Follow on Twitter @drshepp   

Follow on Instagram @drshepp

Learn more about Alie & Ologies at http://Alieward.com/Ologies

Follow Alie on Social Media:

Twitter.com/Ologies

Instagram.com/Ologies

Instagram.com/Ologies

Twitter.com/Ologies

Learn more about Dr. Shepp  at SportandPerform.com

Podcast transcripts coming soon at: ManageTheMoment.net

#ManageTheMoment YouTube Channel

Music by Brad Buxer

(Alie's antler story taken from ID10T Podacst by Chris Hardwick from May 29, 2018)

Show Notes Transcript

Alie Ward, or "Dad Ward", as she is affectionately known to her listeners, is a writer, television host & correspondent, science communicator, and the host of the immensely popular podcast - Ologies. That may sound like a long resume of activities, but Alie accomplishes them all with stellar flare and with great comedic timing, a rare and wonderful combination. On this episode, Alie shares about her performance world, her motivation for her busy world, and the rewards of being authentic, not just in her personal life, but in her very public one as well. Alie also talks candidly about the perils and the privilege of being in the public eye. I'm excited for you to get to know Alie Ward.

Follow on Twitter @drshepp   

Follow on Instagram @drshepp

Learn more about Alie & Ologies at http://Alieward.com/Ologies

Follow Alie on Social Media:

Twitter.com/Ologies

Instagram.com/Ologies

Instagram.com/Ologies

Twitter.com/Ologies

Learn more about Dr. Shepp  at SportandPerform.com

Podcast transcripts coming soon at: ManageTheMoment.net

#ManageTheMoment YouTube Channel

Music by Brad Buxer

(Alie's antler story taken from ID10T Podacst by Chris Hardwick from May 29, 2018)

Dr. Shepp:

Thanks for tuning in to manage the moment conversations in performance psychology. I'm Dr. Sari Shepphird.

Alie Ward:

Having voice is such a privilege and I think that using it authentically and using it to maybe shine a light on things that you don't want to talk about is is kind of a way to honor that privilege because if you have the privilege of having a platform and you have a megaphone and you don't say anything risky into it, that megaphone is only serving you.

Dr. Shepp:

Alie Ward, or "Dad Ward", as she is affectionately known to her listeners, is a writer, television host and correspondent, science communicator, and the host of the immensely popular podcast Ologies. That may sound like a long resume of activities, but Alie accomplishes them all with stellar flare and with great comedic timing, a rare and wonderful combination. On this episode, Alie shares about her performance world per discovery of an internal motivation from her work and the rewards of being authentic, not just in her personal life but in her very public one as well. Alie also talks candidly about the perils and the privilege of being in the public eye. And she and I also talk candidly about setting the reset button after challenging life experiences. I'm excited to share these moments with you and for you to get to know Alie Ward. Good morning, Alie. Good morning. Thank you so much for sitting down with me this morning. Or are you sitting down? Because you're such a busy woman. So I don't know.

Alie Ward:

I was sitting down at a standing desk, so a little bit of both.

Dr. Shepp:

Well, the tables are turned. We met on your podcast and you were gracious enough to have me on. Thank you. And I'm so excited to be able to sit down with you today and learn a little bit more about your world and the way you approach your performance because you are involved in so many different aspects of , um, of performance. I think it's gonna make for a great conversation. So thanks again for being here.

Alie Ward:

Oh, I've listened to our episode in times when I was having performance anxiety and so you have helped me like a year after our episode. I, I've, I've definitely sat down and re listen to it and yeah , so much.

Dr. Shepp:

Oh that's great to hear. I'm glad to hear that.

Alie Ward:

You should invoice me .

Dr. Shepp:

(laughs) Well you refer to yourself as a science communicator and, and I can see why because you're involved on so many different levels in, in science and just being able to help everyday people understand what science is about through your role as on as a correspondent and also on your podcast. Um, but it , you're more than just a science communicator cause you're also a comedian. I'm interested in how you can take topics like scorpions and bleach and, and make those topics really interesting and also funny at the same time. So tell me a little bit about how you approach just writing the copy for your podcast and um , and making science really interesting to people.

Alie Ward:

Oh, this is, this is so weird to have the tables turned into , be interviewed about vetted . I'm so, I'm so honored. I love what I do. And you know, I, it's a challenge every week to take something that people would not think is funny and to try to make it funny. And I think that's kind of part of the challenge is what drives me. But I always loved comedy and I always loved writing and I also loved science. And so when I was in college I was really trying to figure out, well, should I, should I be a performer or should I be a science person or scientist? And I was a double major for a while . I was studying biology and it was also studying film and theater and studio arts. And I really had a hard time balancing it felt very much either or. It felt very binary. You're either going to go into the sciences, you're going to go into the arts. And um, so it took a long time for me to kind of figure out that I wanted to use art to communicate science. And you know, I thought even if I went into documentary filmmaking, like that's not funny usually. So you know, like to be able to take a topic that most people have been exposed to via a dry documentary or via a textbook or via a cautionary news article and try to make it relatable and funny is it's the ultimate challenge every week. But I'm kind of lucky because not a lot of people do that. So the bar is set pretty low because nobody else really does it so well . It's great. There's no precedent. I really have to, I have to live up to,

Dr. Shepp:

well, it's, it is so entertaining because there's topics that you address that are really serious, like breast cancer and um, the all the terrible things that can happen to us as we age. Um, but , but you can still laugh out loud when you listen to those episodes because you do make it really relatable. And so is your goal to , to make it entertaining and relatable , uh , above and beyond the information that you communicate or is, is it really your goal for it to help us all understand these really important topics? First and foremost? You know, I think it's

Alie Ward:

really just to get people to be more curious and to embrace kind of the wonder that we had as kids. You know, as kids, everything is so new, so of course you're learning. But I think a lot of times as we age , um, we turn off that curiosity about the everyday world. And so I think it's like, it almost feels like , uh, you know, when people, I'm trying to think of those cookbooks, someone like grinds up broccoli and like puts it in a pan of brownies and then like jokes on you kid. You just say Florida broccoli. Like I feel like it's a little bit, a little bit of both. Like I, I'm trying to get people entertained that way before they know it. They've absorbed a bunch of information about the natural world or about medicine. So I think like there has to be a little bit of a tacit promise. Like this will be a little entertaining. Don't worry, I'm not going to like leave you high and dry where you're just going to be bored. You know? They mean absolutely. No, I've, I've never been bored listening to one of your, your episodes on the podcast. In fact, I don't think you could have paid me money to listen to 40 minutes about bleach, but I have recommended that podcast episode now to multiple people. It's , it's just, it's fantastic partly because listen to this great episode and it's actually on bleach. Um, but, but it is, it's an informative and entertaining. So you do a really great job. Oh my God, thank you. It's like, you know , there's, it's almost like a , I don't know if you're a musician, clients ever feel this, but there's almost like a, a music Allity to it. There's almost like a rhythm, you know, where I'm in a song, you might have a bridge and a chorus and then you might have the beat might drop. And so I feel like when I'm making episodes, I'm , I really have to like play out some science before you feel almost like this tension build and then you have to break it with something funny or weird or a confession of mine or a play on words or something. So it's almost like a, it's like driving a clutch, like putting the clutch down until, you know, you can shift gear. Uh, it's kind of like that when I'm writing the episode where, okay , I think I've given them as much science as they can handle and now I have to, I've got to break it with , uh, with something stupid, you know? But so you do approach your, your writing with that in mind is , is you want to have kind of a, not a formula, but a, a process where you incorporate both the science that you research and then also a little bit of levity and just humor to it. Yeah. And it's funny because, you know, one thing that you realize with comedy is if you're trying to find the thing that's really funny , um, it's a lot easier sometimes than you realize cause all you have to do is just find what's true. Um, you know, if you're trying to be funny, it's really hard if you're trying to be honest. That just takes a little bit of bravery. And so usually that comedy comes from me just being very honest with what I didn't know about the subject. You know what I'm curious about you even if it's, you know , kind of gross or embarrassing or, or off topic. So a lot of times I just have to be really honest with myself when I'm writing and just kind of strip away any artifice. It just, you know, let my mind be kind of um, uh, exposed. And that is usually where, where the easiest writing comes from.

Dr. Shepp:

Well, I'll let your listeners discover your story about cutting off antlers with a hat . [inaudible]

Speaker 4:

I sat through some antlers once and I regretted the decision immediately. It smells real bad and when you're about one minute into it, you're like a board, a board, a board consult professional.

Dr. Shepp:

But that would be an example of honesty that turns out to be really funny.

Alie Ward:

It's like, you know, when grandpa's on the porch and he's telling the same story again, like, no, I've, I also sometimes will have no recollection of what stories I've told cause I'm a hundred episodes deep. What's is like a hundred hours of content . So I'm like, Oh yeah, that's right. I told people about that. Um , but yeah, oof, don't do that in a bathtub yet .

Dr. Shepp:

What you want it to be in , um, in film and television since you were young. And , and so where did that desire come from? So as you're, as you're thinking about what you want to be, when you're, when you grow up as a little girl and you kind of settled on TV and film, how did you come to that? You know, I think, I wonder too,

Alie Ward:

how many of your clients are in the youngest children? Um, I feel like there's something with the youngest kid where it's like the first kid helps raise the other ones and the middle kid is , uh, maybe has a little bit more leeway to be themselves, but the younger kid is just desperate for attention. So I think , um, you know, my, my role in my family was always kind of , um , a little bit of goofiness and , um, spasming out a little bit, you know , uh , to break tension. And so I always had a really fun time , uh, like writing and creating characters and I really loved theater and I really loved performing when I was younger. But, you know, I, I, at the same time I got a microscope and I was a kid. And just looking at that and looking at bugs and Moss and pond water and dust bunnies under this microscope, I just was like, I fell in love with science cause I realized that there's this world that you might take for granted without understanding how it works. You know, I remember learning about photosynthesis and thinking, wow, that we just walk by a lawn and don't even think about all this magic that's happening, you know? And so I really kind of, yeah, I had, I had a problem deciding between the two, but , um, but yeah, with, with performance and with theater and with film, I just really loved the creative process and I loved that you could have an idea and it could be as weird as you wanted it to be and it might delight other people and that, and it's also scary. I mean , performing is terrifying. I mean, I still get scared a lot and I think that there's probably a little bit of a rush when it goes well that is really gratifying. You know, just like if you're going to go for a jog and, and you hit a good time, you know , um, you break your last record, there's a little bit of an accomplishment there. So I think that there's something rewarding when you perform that feels like an accomplishment. So I think I always kind of liked that too. But um, yeah, I always was. Even in my family today, my, my sisters and my parents are super funny so everyone just tries to crack everyone up. So I think this is a little bit of a culture of that in my family. Will you talk about your creative process and how much you enjoy that and then the satisfaction when it, when it goes well you are , you're talking about subjectively when it feels like it goes well to you or when you receive external like validation and praise for what you do or a combination of both. I that's a such a good question. Um , and that intrinsic versus extrinsic, that has been something that I think about a lot with my work. And I think it really feels like when you feel like you're being honest and, and it is well received, that that is kind of the golden pairing is when you feel like you've really brought yourself to her performance and you brought all that you had. And , uh, especially when it comes to, you know, writing, you really showed up kind of stripped away from artifice and it resonated with people and made them feel more seen. That is when it really feels gratifying. Um, you know, I've, I might have episodes that get more plays than others or I've been on whole TV series that didn't feel like myself and that didn't feel gratifying, you know. Um, so, you know, I found in my career having done, you know, I work for cooking channel for a bit and it was great and a lot of that was really fun, but I at the end of the day, didn't necessarily want to be talking about cakes and cupcakes and stuff I wanted to be talking about. Yeah. Like scorpion butts and uh , know like Eagle squawking and we're lizard meeting and stuff. I wanted to talk about the natural world more so the success that I get from my podcast. Um, I was worried I wouldn't be as successful as I was talking about, you know, donuts and cupcakes. And I've found two fold gratification that I've ended up being more objectively successful. But also for me it's felt much more gratifying cause I know I'm bringing myself to the table in a way that's much more honest. And so yeah, sometimes I have to get out of my head and, and realize like, okay, if I'm down on myself for something , um, is it external? Is it external or is it internal? You know, did I, did I bring everything I could to it and am I happy with what I made? Cause that's, that's what really matters. And having other people , um, identify and feel kind of delighted or seen is really, that's really when it feels the best.

Dr. Shepp:

That's fantastic. You found a way to merge your public and personal personas.

Alie Ward:

Yeah. Yeah. What a thing to cherish. That's fantastic. Yeah, it's really, there was a really big mental shift for me when that happened because I think I felt like, well, I'm, I'm on this TV show and I'm , I have this job that everyone is saying, Oh, you're so lucky. But , um, I'm hypoglycemic. So for me I'm like, when I eat donuts , I feel like I could have a little bit, but when I'm eating 17 donuts a day on camera, I feel like garbage. So it's like even the basic like physiology of it, I was like, I don't feel good. So I hid that I was really into science for a long time cause it just wasn't my brand. And so , um, when I made, when I kind of slowly made that shift and especially starting making ologies and I felt like, okay, this is what I'm into, any takers? And I found out that there were takers. I was like, Oh my God, I could have been doing this all along , you know. But I thought no one would care about the stuff I cared about and it turns out people do. So that's a huge, that was a huge relief for me.

Dr. Shepp:

Well you mentioned brand, which I think is something interesting to talk about as a performer because so much so these days we focus on what someone's brand is and how they come across and we, we like to keep people in their boxes and we want to know who they are. And if they vary from that, it makes us uncomfortable. Uh , so everyone, I think pigeon pigeonholes themselves more these days because you kind of have to stick to your brand. Yeah . So as, as someone in the, in the public eye, how do you manage being yourself, feeling like you have the freedom to walk in your own shoes and , um, show up as yourself everywhere you go, and yet pay attention to what people are wanting from your brand.

Alie Ward:

Uh, you , you ask such great questions. I mean, also you're like as a, you know, as someone who is on the other side of the couch, you're, you're , uh, an expert at X asks you a question , so you're so good at this. Um, but you know, and that is, that's a great question too. I think that nowadays , um, curating a persona is part of a lot of people in the public eyes job, you know, and even if you just look at an Instagram account, a lot of brands will have a color scheme, you know, they'll have Pantone chips of like everything is either going to be a mossy green or a nice delicate peach color. So I mean things are curated down to the pixel, you know, and um, for so long for me I felt like , um, I had to be very polished online and I felt like , um, I had to always , you know, kind of show up looking like at least I'd showered and , um, and I think that I found that kind of the more honest I was, the easier it became for me because I never felt like there was a gotcha moment waiting. You know, I think , um, and I think shame plays a part of that. You know, I mean shame is a big word and everyone has some kind of degree of elemental shame of I don't want anyone to see how messy my offices are. Well , I have a zit today and I don't want a picture, you know, whether it's big, big shame or whether it's just little thing, like I'm kind of embarrassed. Um, you know, I think that that is a stumbling block in our head a lot because we don't realize that the things that bring us embarrassment or shame can actually a lot of times bring other people peace and comfort because they realize, Oh, this person is like me. I'm not that weird. You know? And so when it comes to curating an online persona, the more tightly you try to control it and the more polished you try to present , um, ends up being not gratifying internally because you feel like whatever validation or praise you're getting for it is for a false persona. You know, if you get 100,000 likes on a picture, that's airbrushed. Does it feel, does it feel gratifying? You know, congratulations. Someone liked artifice, you know, but , um, but if you kind of show up online in a way that feels authentic, you get that gratification back that you've been seeing and you might make other people feel a little bit more human too. So I think , um, the hardest part for me is that I, I try not to swear as much online as I do in my podcast . And so , um, cause I work on kids' shows and so, you know, for, for the sake of the kids shows that I work on online is , uh , as I tried to clean it up a little bit and some , sometimes that's a struggle, but , um, but yeah, I found that the selfies with messy hair and , uh, are more comforting to people then than showing up like you've had a stylist. So there's comfort in that for me.

Dr. Shepp:

Well, it's great that there's the two, the two sides to that because you do help people to relate to you. Um, and I think that probably contributes to your success. People want to tune into someone who's relatable, I'm sure when it comes to your podcast. And, but at the same time you feel like you have more freedom. And I imagine your performance then is also stronger because you have the knowledge that if you just show up as yourself and you don't try to have , um , that artifice as part of what you bring, then , then I imagined that it makes your performance that much better.

Alie Ward:

I think it does. And , um, I think that everyone who writes, especially if you kind of feel like you're writing in a vacuum, like, you know, for my podcast, I write it and record it alone. I put it out and , um , and I'm not there watching people listen. So I don't always know what lands. But I think if you are a writer or a performer who puts things out, recorded, doing some kind of live exercises or you know, doing some kind of improv that can , that can be so helpful because you get that immediate feedback to understand what lands. And a lot of times what's been surprising for me when I've done, you know , live storytelling or done monologues at same upright citizens brigade for their live shows. Um, the things that I think are going to be funny or not what people laugh at, it's these little moments that you look up and you're like, Oh, I did that. Get a laugh. Cause it's you, you just said something incredibly honest. And that is what got people to laugh and that's what got people to see something in themselves. And , um, I think that that is an incredibly painful

Dr. Shepp:

process by the way, is when you go on stage and you deliver something you'd think is funny and nobody laughs like that. It's just like, Oh, like I would rather get like a Dodge ball lobbed at my head, but it's really informative because you realize, Oh, these [inaudible]

Alie Ward:

little moments where I was just speaking super myself, that that's, that's kind of what is valuable. And so , um, so I think that when you're writing, yeah, you always have to ask yourself, am I trying to be funny or not? Or am I trying to be honest? And , um, and that's, that's a really good compass to have I think, because you realize that when in doubt, just say what you're thinking. And that's usually a really good guidance.

Dr. Shepp:

That's a great point. I also wanted to just circle back to something you, you said about , um , when you deliver a line in it and it doesn't land the way you wanted it to, your perspective is that you learned from that. So I didn't hear you say that you felt shame or that you want to walk away with , um, you know, your tail between your legs, it feeling like a failure, but you, you learn from that, you learn about yourself and also how to , um , improve your performance as you go. So you take something away from those experiences, which I think is really wise.

Alie Ward:

Yeah, it's definitely a way to kind of sharpen your skills or to walk away knowing something. I mean, it definitely depends on who's in the audience. If you're dating someone and it's new,

Dr. Shepp:

don't invite them to a show. You don't know how it's going to go. But like a ,

Alie Ward:

or maybe maybe it would, maybe it would keep you on your toes. But yeah, I mean, I think every time you do anything that you're passionate about, if you're passionate about it, you can be super grateful that you learned something and you got better at it. And that's one thing about allergies I love doing is it, you know, I talked to everyone each week who's really passionate about what they do. They've made a career out of it. You know, like talking to you, I'm talking to you about how you married psychology and sports and that , that was kind of the culture in your family too, and how you really like helping people get better at what they do best. And I love hearing from people who love what they do because it's also validation that you're going to be best at doing the thing you love because you're not going to want to get better at something if you're not that into it . But when you're really passionate about what you do, you take those stumbles and those , um , it pitfalls as a gift to get better because all you want to do is be great at what you do because you love it, you know?

Dr. Shepp:

No , that's fine . That's fantastic. It's great to hear that you've landed on something that you really love and that you're really passionate about. But at the same time, you've also said that in the past that you sometimes feel guilty for doing that creative thing that you really want to do and you feel like it's almost a little doughnut or reward at the end of your day because you kind of put that off until everything else is done. So you're still kind of finding that, that balance of being able to give yourself permission to do what you're most passionate about. Yes. Oh my God. Your research goes deep. You're going to , you have to invoice me for this. It's so true. I mean,

Alie Ward:

I love writing and I love making the show. And it's funny cause I end up being like, okay, I've got to do billing. I've got to , um, you know , uh, shoot an email to my accountant. I've got to assemble the shelf I bought from Ikea . I've got to do all these things before I sit down to write. And I, one thing that's changed a little bit that's helped is , um, I just set up a home office, which I haven't had for 10 years. Like I went freelance, I quit my job at the LA times and I went freelance in 2009. This is, we're coming up like literally this week I think is the anniversary. Um, happy anniversary and thank you . And , um, and so I've been working at my kitchen table and on my couch for a decade. And so this is the first time I have like a little desk, literally a desk to sit at. And it's been really funny because in the past two weeks I've been saying to my boyfriend, I'm like, I'm so happy. I'm like, I'm so happy I have a desk. And he's like, why does that make such a difference? I was like, I don't know. I guess there's a, there was a little bit of a shift between like, okay , I'm working, I'm not just, you know, sitting at my kitchen table , um , stealing time. Like I'm showing up for work in a way that feels more legit, I guess. Um, but yeah, and I, I , uh, I also put up a big chalkboard. Uh , one wall of the office is a chalkboard. And so I now have a schedule, I'm looking at it right now. That's his Monday. I do all the social media. Tuesday I go through my first pass on the episode, I write Wednesday and Thursday. So now I have it a little bit core enough for myself, which has been , um, which is really exciting cause yeah, I do love it so much that I feel like it doesn't feel like legit cause I would be doing it for free.

Dr. Shepp:

That's awesome. Yeah, that's great. If you wake up in the morning and you found something that you would, you would do for free and can still earn a living at it, that's, that's really hitting the jacket .

Alie Ward:

Yeah. I feel super lucky in the first six months I was losing money at it. So I was like, I remember I had, you know, paid my sound engineer. I'd bought equipment, I had , um , invested in artwork and, and I invested in, you know, my theme song costs $1,500. And , um, which I, you know, all of that. I was like, what am I doing? Am I doing, what have I done? What have I done? Why did I do this? And I remember thinking, this is the stupidest move I've ever made. And it ended up being this, the smartest move. My roommate, it started to get popularity and I started to be able to monetize it. But , um, yeah, I was in that, I was bleeding out money in the beginning cause it was just something I wanted to make so much, you know. So it's tough. There's a leap

Dr. Shepp:

and now you're more than a hundred episodes into it. And , and so far you've looked at things like disasters and coral and the constitution, reproductive health, addiction, video games, aging, which was by the way, a great episode. Um, um , I love, I love how you handled that because as I was listening, I was getting a little nervous at the way the person you interviewed was, was responding and I was feeling a little almost nervous for you and, and you handled that really, really well. Like you didn't break your form at all. Um, and , um, yet you managed to kind of break the tension and as you went back and edited , um , your conversation and you added in some of your own commentary. So it , it made for a great episode. But , um , Finch , the world's leading

Alie Ward:

bio gerontologist , this guy is like the dude you talk to. I was so nervous. I was so, I was so honored and thrilled. I was getting to go meet him. I was like, he , uh, I wouldn't call it, he's not fussy, he's just very Curt and in, in the middle of it I was just like, Oh no, I think he hates doing this. And so that's another way that when it comes to writing, just being honest about it was the best thing to do. Cause if I tried to just pretend like it was a normal interview , um, it would have kind of maybe fallen flat. But I heard from listeners that their favorite part of that episode is just when I cut it and being like, does this guy hate me? It was great . Same thing that was on everyone's mind. And so , um , that's another example of just like say what's real and that is , uh, that's your compass. You know,

Dr. Shepp:

I laughed out loud there and the laughter just, it breaks the tension but, but then it makes the , the rest of the interview even more interesting because you kind of feel for where you were when you were interviewing and um, yeah. That's great.

Alie Ward:

You said so many nice things. As soon as I turned off the recorder, he was like, [inaudible] great interview. That was great. Great Christians .

Dr. Shepp:

I was like, you would just so you never know what's on someone's mind. Like I heard he was having a ball and I just said no more . That's great. Oh, that's great. That's great. And some of your other interviews were on about things like fear and beer and sex and volcanoes and gut biomes and beauty standards and the apocalypse. I don't know, maybe some of those are linked to the, to the last one actually. But uh , but um, you are a woman bringing these topics and making them really appealing and interesting. And it's, and it's interesting in and of itself that you are women bringing these topics because you've talked about how many women might be afraid to be wrong when they represent their gender in science. And you make all of these topics easy to understand and yet really, really interesting. And I think peak people's curiosity. So how is it that you feel , um, about the importance of being a woman communicating this material?

Alie Ward:

That's a, that's a really interesting question and it's a great perspective. I mean it's, it is tough because you feel like a lot of people can't name a female science communicator. They go, Oh, don't lie . There was no grass. Dyson , um, Adam Savage who, who else, you know, so you feel like you better, you better bring it when you represent it. And , um, and I hear this from also people who are in , um, STEM fields and might represent diversity among their lab. You know, so that was a little bit scary is saying, I don't know things. And I was talking to a friend of mine who's also a science communicator, Cara Santa Maria . She hosts a talk nerdy. She's incredibly smart and super confident . And we were having coffee one morning and she said, well, the great thing about what you do is it like you can kind of slip into the role of the audience and ask the questions that the audience can't have. And she's like, it's more difficult for me as a neuroscientist to fill that role because people expect me to be an authority. And , um, I remember her telling me that and it was a really great relief for me because what I held was some shame, which was, I don't know everything about snails. I don't know everything about lizards . Um , I instead of having to hide that, I could embrace that. And again, it came down to truth. Cause that was truth is I'm, instead of being a specialist and an expert, I'm much more of a generalist and I have enough background in science to maybe know what kind of questions to ask. But , um, but I can step into the role of the audience. And I don't know if you've ever, if you ever saw , uh , do you ever see California's gold with Hule Hauser ? Do you remember that? No, no, it was this shows , I'm like PBS or something. This guy named heal Hauser , the late heal , the late, the great fuel Hauser . And he would just go around California with himself and a camera man. And he would ask things like, well, what are these rocks? Wow. Where's the water come from them . Wow. And everything was like, wow. And , and so I think like , I kind of silently consider myself like the heel Hauser of science where like no question's off limits. And , uh, I think that being able to come at it with that kind of wonder and wow is , um, is very honest to me, you know? And apparently that's resonated. Go fake. Yeah . You know,

Dr. Shepp:

you do leave the episodes of your podcast with a little bit of wow at some of just the most unappealing topics on the surface of things. You know, like again, I just, I go back to the bleach episode. It w I really didn't think I'd find that very interesting, but , um, but it was so interesting and so funny and you learn a little bit each time or a lot each time depending. So , um, it's, it's great. It's a good, I think it's a good service to science that you do. And I think as a woman, being able to communicate it the way you do is really helpful and important. Uh, but it's also just a really entertaining listen . So thank you.

Alie Ward:

And I realized I didn't totally answer that question, but yeah, I think like , um, I , I had to consider myself a human first. Uh, you know, and I think as the result, just coming at it with that kind of like , uh , that brutal honesty of, I don't know how this works , um, it's probably served me more than if I pretended so. And that way hopefully people now know another science communicator as a result, you know? Well, I'm hopefully ,

Dr. Shepp:

yeah . And I think it might interest more people to get involved in science and feel that they can communicate about topics that you know, might seem kind of geekish or nerdish or whatever it is. Because now of course now it's more more chic to be like in the geek culture, but , but also I think it can seem like it like an area people can venture into without being so intimidated by it. And I think that's a helpful, helpful.

Alie Ward:

And I think talking to scientists like you, I'm talking to all these ologists who will admit their failures along the way, who admit that they started an experiment that didn't work out because they started an entire field and decided part way through med school that they wanted to be a field biologist. I'm hearing that from scientists I think and I hope is really helpful for listeners that um , science isn't about having the answers, it's about getting the answers. And um, I think that there's a really big misconception when it comes to science that scientists know everything there is, it's black and white and they don't realize that experimentation involves a lot of failure. And that failure is if fundamental and a crucial part of success. No one who is successful hasn't failed and gotten up again and learn from it. And that is fundamental to scientific theory, you know, and the scientific method. And so I'm hoping that by talking to people who study bleach and the, and all this stuff, hopefully not together cause that's a terrible pairing . But um , but those talking to those people will maybe even if they're not in the science field, we'll give them a little bit more of that confidence that failure is not a a culdesac failure is just part of the road. You know, it might be a twister or a turn, but it's not, it's not a dead end at all.

Dr. Shepp:

That's a great point. And I'm interested in hearing a little bit about your own experiment because at one point in your life you started volunteering at the natural history history museum in part as an experiment, I think because you had mentioned that you were a little bit depressed in your life at that time and wanted to connect with some things that you were more interested in. So as a little bit of an experiment, maybe you started volunteering.

Alie Ward:

Yeah, yeah. That was one of the best , uh, like potential failures that I've ever parked on. But I again, I thought this is gonna what if this is a waste of time? I shouldn't be doing this. It's what I love, so I should, I should put it on the bottom of the list. But yeah, I had had a really, really difficult year. This was 2013. And , um, my boyfriend who I'm, we've gotten back together and we've been together for years now. But , um, at the time we had broken up, he was going through a really difficult period mentally. Um, he has ADHD and he had never been diagnosed at that time and, and he, he was having a difficult time. So that was really Rocky for us. And my dad had been diagnosed with a blood cancer called multiple myeloma, which he's still, he's still alive. He's doing well. But at the time, his prognosis was only about two years. Um, his brother had the same rare cancer and his brother had just died. So , um , of it. So that was difficult. Um, and , uh , throughout all of this I looked like I was having the time of my life. I was on a TV show , um, that was a travel food show. I, you know, had a spread and Cosmo a fashion spread that, you know , was all looked rosy and polished and , um, you know, in that fashion spread I was wearing heels that were not mine, that were the most uncomfortable things I have ever put on my body. So a lot of what looks great isn't real and isn't true. Um, but I, I was crying every day . Like I remember there were days when I thought I , I only cried once and it was a good day, but I would cry, break down crying five, six times a day just because my dad was sick and , um, and what my boyfriend was going through was so difficult. And so I was in a terrible state and I , you know, I obviously was started going to therapy, but I had on a whim just gone to visit the museum. And a friend of a friend who I didn't even know, well, gave me a little tour behind the scenes and I just said, God, I just love being here so much. It's just like Disneyland to me. And she's like, you should volunteer. And I thought, I have a , you know, I have this job working on like, I've got so much going on my life, how am I going to find time to volunteer? But it was three hours, one day a week in the morning that I probably would be at home crying anyway. So I thought, well, I might as well go to it. Um, and the idea that it would maybe maybe help people kind of w was I think was the sugar, you know, that made the medicine go down. I could justify it that way. But really it was a helping myself. I had kind of become one of those adults that didn't Marvel as much at sciences I used to. And so , um, it was a really, really big catalyst for me to really connect with what brought me a lot of joy. And , uh, in a time when I was focused a lot on darkness, you know, a lot on, on what could happen that was bad. And , and it really helped me become more of myself. Like I remember I posted a picture of my volunteer badge the day that I, after orientation I got my official badge and I posted it on my Instagram thinking this is so off brand . Like they're , you know , um, are people going to be like, what is this about? You know, I come to you for pictures of donuts. Um, and it was really sweet that, that , uh , people were supportive and it was like, Oh, I didn't know you liked science. And I thought, wow, I , this huge part of me I've been hiding. Like my whole house is like a bug collection and science books and stuff. That's a huge part of who I was. People were like, Oh, I don't even know this. Oh, you like, like bugs. And I was like, what am I doing? Who am I being, you know, so it was a really big catalyst for that.

Dr. Shepp:

Do you , you just talked about connecting to things that you honestly enjoy and finding that intrinsic pleasure but also expressing what that is, not just to yourself but others around you. And you do that even on social media, which I think I've found is a trap for a lot of people these days, especially those in the public eye. Because it can be as though there's this unwritten rule that you can only say certain things or talk about certain things or only so much show so much of yourself because you risk backlash or somehow I'm being pigeonholed into, you know, just as a certain kind of personality or somehow it affecting your bottom line or your ratings. And it seems to me any way that you don't shy away from expressing yourself honestly there.

Alie Ward:

Yeah, it's scary. It's definitely scary because, you know, the F as an LA times employee, when I was a journalist, I was not allowed to express anything politically. Um, I couldn't even have a bumper sticker on my car if I wanted one. Um, and so you can't, yeah, you can't put up a , you know, whoever for city council in your front yard, when you're an LA times employee, you signed a contract. And so , um, as someone who is no longer a newspaper employee, I realized I had a little bit more freedom to use my voice. And you know, I think anyone that goes into performance and goes into writing , um, what they're really seeking is invoice. And that's, you know, going back to being a woman and in performance like that to me was what was the drivers . I wanted to have a voice and you know, I acted for a little bit and I, I realized I was playing victims a lot. Um, and I was just saying other people's words and I thought I, this isn't the same as having a voice. And so I think , um, having a voice is such a privilege and I think that using it authentically and using it to maybe shine a light on things that we don't want to talk about is, is kind of a way to honor that privilege. Um, because if you have the privilege of having a platform and you have a megaphone and you don't say anything risky into it , um, that megaphone was only serving you, you know? So I think that it does. Social media does feel like that amplification and , um, but it is scary. I mean, you know, I've, I , I tweeted something about body shaming , um, that ended up getting picked up by , um, certain newspapers that maybe didn't align a lot with my ideals. And I got a ton of people say terrible things about me. Um, about how , uh , essentially tried to tear me down for defending people against body shaming. It was like, it was very, like, it was kind of a , like a , a weird tornado of , uh , um, people not wanting someone to defend other people. But , um, you know, that's scary. And, but at the end of the day, I think that the people who dig what you do and who want to hear what you have to say only end up kind of respecting you more. So what you might , um , maybe gain in some shade from people who aren't into it. You , you end up at the end of the day kind of , um, making your bond with the people who get you a little bit stronger, you know, but it is scary. It is scary to say like, Hey, to call things out and say, I don't think this is cool. You guys like, we all see this. Um, that can be, that can definitely be scary and it's a lot easier just to be like, I had a great sandwich. You know, it's a lot easier to like when I shoot about like hair , which, you know, wanting to be buried with a hair tie on my wrist or when I tweet about it, you know, other things, it's definitely a lot easier. But , um, but you know, in this day and age, I feel like if you're a person who makes a living being in the media , uh, you have a little bit of a responsibility , um, to try to stay true to your own ideals.

Speaker 4:

[inaudible]

Dr. Shepp:

that's an way of framing it because I think a lot of people in the public eye would feel the opposite about it. That instead of feeling a sense of responsibility to stay true to themselves and their ideals, they feel as though they're kind of in a, in a public cage, you know, of course the , the fishbowl idea, but, but more like a fishbowl where people are standing outside and just wagging their finger and judging. Um, because I think that's often what social media can feel like. Yeah . And I like the fact that you take a different stance on, on social media and how you approach it and that you do see it as an opportunity , um, and as an opportunity to help other people kind of climb out of their shell rather than stay more caged in it. I mean, I do bet that you never thought the words

Speaker 5:

Oh no. It was such a weird day I had . Yeah,

Alie Ward:

I just thought these , um, yeah, I saw that. I saw these plates in the window of Macy's and I just walked by and I thought, and I turned around and I thought , that sucks. That just, that just found me out. That's antithetical a scientifically to eating , uh, eating healthy. And it's just, it's a , it's a low blow, you know, and , um, it's terrible for women and they would never have something like this for men. So I just took a picture of it and , um, yeah, I didn't expect it to get to bake . Literally like international news. I was on set for one of them for the CBS innovation I was shooting and was getting emails from, you know , um, all these different newspapers and some of them, you know , um, some of the coverage of it was like, Ugh, this social justice warrior is trying to take away our right to make women feel bad. And it was like, what you would spin, you know. But , um, but I heard from so many, you know, on the other hand though, I , I heard from a way larger number of people saying, Hey, thanks. You know, that, that sucks. And that's one of those things that, you know, you might just walk, who knows how many thousands of people walk by stuff that makes them feel bad all the time. But , um , if you have a platform where you can, you can say, Hey, are we okay with this? Cause I'm not, you know, and it comes down to relate ability to , it's like , um, by me saying, I don't like this. It gives other people the opportunity to say thank you. Yeah, I don't. Or Hey, I like what this person is doing and maybe they're underappreciated and other people can say yes, I like that too. You know, you know, like they , they say , well behaved women rarely make history. I think you can say that, you know, when it comes to you , should I tweet this thing? Sometimes you could say, well, yeah, sitting properly with our hands folded in our labs doesn't move the needle at all. So sometimes if you have a voice and you have the privilege of having a platform , um, I do feel like you're , you have some responsibility to use it. And you've

Dr. Shepp:

pointed out the hazards of social media too, because you talk about how our worth is being quantified in ways that have, has never existed before. When we grew up, you've mentioned that we didn't take selfies, we took pictures of things that we saw and now we not only take pictures of ourselves, but we post them and then they're evaluated and judged and, and the number of likes or the number of followers that we get is somehow being equated with our worth, which is a really dangerous path to be on, especially for those who don't have the opportunity to feel like they are in the public eye or will ever be in the public eye. And they may never gain a large following on social media and they may never get a large number of likes. And to somehow have that be a measure of a person's self worth or their value in the world is really very dangerous. Um , and you point out the risks and hazards of , of social media as well.

Alie Ward:

Yeah, it's, it's weird. It's, it's weird to be able to say, I am this liked today. Um, and it feels like , um , having a scale in your bathroom and if you get on it every single day and you say, Oh, I've gained a half a pound, Oh no, I'm , I might as well just eat everything. Or , um, uh, that kind of micro measurement of something that actually doesn't matter, you know , um, I had a much better relationship with my body the day that I literally took a hammer to my scale and threw it in the garbage like 15 years ago. Um, for you, I mean, it was really liberating. I , I thought that I was being responsible by like she , you know, checking in and that, that's not, it doesn't equate to our strength, you know? Um, the more muscle we get, the more we weigh , the stronger we are. And I feel like the same is kind of with social media. We judge ourselves based on this number that doesn't actually reflect our strength and our strikes are in the bonds that we have with our people in real life. They're how we show up for friends. They are, how we let friends show up for us when we need them. Um, and so I feel like social media is kind of like that. That's that uh , scale trap where it's not reflective of our actual strength. Um, I can say from someone who didn't have a lot of followers to having an audience base, I can say from the other side that that the number of likes you get on something feels a fraction is good as when you sit down with a friend and hang out. Like the feeling of it is, is uh, just, you know, you can't compare that , um, that even having, having a little bit of a following doesn't feel as good as having a friend who knows you and cares about you. You know?

Dr. Shepp:

Absolutely. And that's a great perspective. You've mentioned a number of things today that I think are really helpful by way of perspective because you do want to fill your life with things that are true, that make you feel good, that give you the sense of, of freedom to be yourself. You want to have things in perspective where are enriching your life through relationship and through an endeavor in pursuit that makes you happy. Um, rather than just feeling like you need to, you know, just try to have a product. You want to make sure that you balance that. You've mentioned a number of things that I think are really helpful in terms of perspective that also probably have impacted the way you approach your performance because life happens. Right. And you mentioned your dad's diagnosis and I know you've also been candid about some health struggles that you went through and when life happens, it impacts your mindset and your approach to your own work.

Alie Ward:

Oh, for sure. Yeah. Um, you know, and I, I've talked about this a little bit on the pop Pat podcast, but I went through ovarian failure and at , uh , 15 years essentially like going through menopause 15 years too early, which was like surprise , um, your organs are dying. And I was like, Oh no, I didn't expect to spend so much time and energy trying to fix this. So yeah, there are things that, yeah. Disrupt you so much. And , um, you just have to find the bright spots that keep you surviving. You know, you know, for someone who has anxiety, I think a lot of people who have anxiety are like, well, if I just keep worrying about it, then when it happens it won't hurt at all. And it's like, no, that's not how that works. You know, with my dad's diagnosis, I remember just a , at first it had felt like I was dealing with all the emotions of his passing and he's so he's still alive and he's kicking ass six years later and , uh, it's great. You know, it was just like, thank God for modern medicine. Um , and like to every oncologist and every hematologist out there working, it's like, this is why I get so excited talking to different ologists cause they are really changing the world, you know, in ways that , um , might seem invisible to us. But they're the person next to us in line at the grocery store who was working on , um, you know, a gene therapy that might, you know, save your sister. So these are, these are people who are so exciting and such heroes. And so , um, you know, but that kind of stuff happens in it for someone that anxiety, we always think like, I'll just get it out of my system now. And that's just not how it works. And one thing, I learned a lot with that really terrible years that you literally have to take things one day at a time. And it sounds like such like a , a Pinterest thing that you would like write on the wall and pretty script, but you really do like, you could only take days as they come. Like if you know someone in your family's having a good day, that's a good day. And if they're having a bad day tomorrow, you'll deal with it tomorrow. But deal with what you've got on your plate, you know, day by day and just take it, take it a day at a time. Um, when it comes to anxiety, at least you know that you , uh , you have to deal in the present moment with anxiety. And if there's a problem that's causing things to be bad, deal with the problem. But you know, for me who struggles with worry, it's like that's one thing I've had to learn.

Dr. Shepp:

It's a great lesson to learn and it's great advice and I do think it improves your quality of life. Um, if you're able to do that to whatever degree and, and it helps performance of course to stay in the moment and just to stay in whatever day you're in. But it also helps just with quality of life because there's only so much you can control in the future is not one of those.

Alie Ward:

Yeah. And you know, it's funny when I was, when I would go back and listen to our episode, like I was where I was working on this show that it hasn't come out yet, but it's a Netflix show and I was shooting it for a year and this was probably the biggest job that I've ever really undertaken. It was the hardest shoot I've ever done. It was so fun. It was bananas. The show will be absolutely bananas. But I was really, I had imposter syndrome going into it being like, am I going to be okay? Am I going to be okay at this? Um, and I also had incredible performance anxiety because we would get these really long scripts that we would have to deliver verbatim right before going on and we would get one take and it would be in front of a crowd of a hundred people. I mean, it was like every trigger you could have in terms of a performer. And it had to be funny and it had to be scientifically accurate. It was like, so I just remember being like, this is so physically and mentally hard and I, and I would, I was really worried about, I was having a ton of anxiety. I was telling my boyfriend, Jared, I was like, I really want to do a good job. I've never wanted to do a good job as much and I, and I don't know how to do it. And I remember , um , being like, I need to like talk to the therapist about this. And I was like, Oh, I already did. I was like, I'm going to go back and listen to our episode. And I've listened to it several times since, but , um, you were telling me there , you were telling listeners that preparation can make you more confident in the moment. And a lot of times you want to say, I'm just gonna wing it. This is too scary. I'm going to wing it and see how it goes. And you were saying, you know, just be prepared and practice, practice, so the in the moment you can just let yourself kind of be. And so , um, and I was using that advice and I was, I was preparing as best I could and , um, and it ended up making me much more confident. I wanted to the next shoot days instead of maybe if I got the script the night before being like, I'll deal with it when I get to set. I was like, no, I'm going to stay up for an extra hour. I'm going to work on this. And then it was, it was helping me so much. So, yeah, there was a lot that um, there was a lot from that episode that really got me through the shoot , so thank you. Yeah , it was a challenge but it's, yeah, it's tough when you, when you perform cause you want to just sometimes say I you think, well I don't want to worry about it. So in order to not worry about it, I'm just not going to think about it. And then you show up less prepared than you want to be. Right. You know, and that is a , that's a trap that , um, that you taught me to really get out of. And I was realizing that when I thought that I was, I thought that I was preparing by worrying and I wasn't, I was just doing the worrying part. So when if I just said, okay worry, go away now it's straight preparation. Then I was like, there we go. Cause I I missed , took a hand for preparing worry and problem solving are two very different things. Yes. Yeah. That was huge for me. It was like thank you. Yeah.

Dr. Shepp:

Well, I'm going to move on just for the sake of time and ask you some questions that I ask everyone. Um, although I, I did , I did think of one other question that I wanted to ask you that I don't ask everyone. I'll only ask you, so I'll start with that one. And I don't know if you've been asked it before, but , um, who would be your dream ologist to interview whether living or dead?

Alie Ward:

Oh, that is a good question. Um, I will say I'm about to interview him in a week. Great. I know. Can you believe it ? I think, well, Jane Goodall. Okay . I will say I'll diaper from him for a second. Jane Goodall would be amazing. A living, I would love to interview her. I already did a primatology episode , so if I can think of a different ology, I would love to interview her. But there is someone who's been on my list , um, for two years. His name is Merlin Tuttle, and he is a bat expert. He's a chiropractor ologist and he works in Austin. And for some reason that the fact that his name is Merlin cuddle , I find like so endearing and um, he's been working with bats for like 35 years. The dude loves baths . He has a conservation for them. Like I'm, I've been so excited to interview him for so long and um, and so yeah, next weekend going to Austin for work and I, and I booked an extra couple of days there so that I could go and meet up with him. So I'm very excited that's going to come out and [inaudible] for Halloween . Yeah. Um, but yeah, but Jane Goodall would also be amazing and if I could go back and do cosmology again, which is, you know, the study of the universe, I would interview T Cobra . Hey , who , um, was a, I believe he was a Danish astronomer who had a brass or maybe it was a Sterling silver, they're not sure knows because his nose got cut off in a duel, I think with another astronomer. He also lived in a castle and he had a moose that would drink beer and get drunk and stumble around the castle. And Tigo . Bri has a , um, he has a crater in the moon named after him, the big crater at the bottom that looks like a butt. And um , he died of a ruptured bladder because he was at a dinner party that was very formal cause he was like nobility and his bladder rupture because he was too polite to get out . My goodness. So this guy, wow, I would need some extra SD cards cause I would just want to talk to this guy for hours. So yeah. Tico Bri might be the one unliving and I'd want to , and I'd want to warn him ahead of time. It'd be like, dude, it's not absolutely,

Dr. Shepp:

Oh my goodness. Yeah. It would be great to go back and hear from people like Marie Curie or , or Leonardo DaVinci and these ologists

Alie Ward:

who changed the world and especially in their culture and their timeframe and how radically, how radically they transform things. And I bet they got so much Shane . I mean we hear all the good parts, but they probably had so many people throwing rock peaches up and telling them they were witches and stuff. I mean, they probably were like, Oh, so what do people hate me? They didn't realize that the imprint that they would leave, I mean , um , so they dealt with, they dealt with their fair amount of, of , um, spectacular failures and uh, and, and hatred from people. So yeah, getting to hear the human story about it I think would be really interesting. Someday you'll probably interview , uh , uh , a time travel ologist and then you can figure out, Oh my God, a Krono tech technologist . Right . I just made that up, but I feel like they were more [inaudible] technology. I should do that for April fools and just have a Kroto technology episode and be like, Oh, I'm interviewing at time traffic. I will, I'll schedule that on my H my next April, April, 2028 . Well, I know you're curious about many things, which is what brought you to this point in life. Um , but what in life are you still curious about? Oh , uh , one thing I think I'm really curious about, and this seems so basic, but I'm very curious about , uh, nutrition and mental health. I'm really curious about the types of , uh , mental health concerns that a lot of people struggle with and how much of it might be environmental. And so the gut biome episode was really interesting for me. You know, hearing that like 90% of serotonin is made in the gut. I'm really interested in the way that we look at our mental health now as opposed to how we will look at it in the future and we'll think, God, can you believe that this is what they did? Or can you believe that there wasn't a treatment for this? Or can you believe that this many people struggled with this? Um , and I think that is going to be really, really interesting. I'm really curious cause those are things that affect us on a, on such a base level and they affect our relationships and it affects our work and it affects how we see the world. It affects politics. Um, it affects how we treat each other. And I think that mental health is so fundamental to so many , uh , industries and so many human issues that it'll be really interesting when we understand the brain better and to learn about what we're putting into our body and how it's affected our, our neurons. I'm sure it be very interesting . Yeah . Probably completely frightening, but also very interesting. I know that that biome biome episode shook me. I was like [inaudible] Oh man. Like you just think like, you think that your brain is just this floating bubble at the top and you don't realize how connected things are. So I think it'll be interesting when we look at, Oh my gosh, I mean I would never feed my dog a diet Pepsi and uh , in a Danish for breakfast. But I've sure I've eaten that before and been like, what I'm supposed to function. So I think also as someone who struggles with hypoglycemia and knowing how that affects my energy levels, I think I'm always like, I'm just so curious as to how the fuel we use for our bodies affects the performance of the machine and how much we're going to know about that. Right.

Dr. Shepp:

Absolutely. Yeah. And , and it can be distracting when your , your blood sugar is much slower than it should be, of course, but onto it onto a different distraction. What is more distracting to you as a performer? Is it praise or criticism?

Alie Ward:

Oh my God. Oh, great question. Um, you know what's funny is I believe criticism that I don't believe praise. I mean , I think sometimes I take praise with a giant grain of salt, but sometimes I'll take criticism, especially with all the GS cause the people who criticize all the cheese usually , um , do it in like a caring way with praise. You don't have to address it both criticisms sometimes. Um, you either want to apologize if you've , if you've missed spoken or if you've , uh, if you've excluded someone. So with criticism, a lot of times there's something to um , ameliorate there. There's something, there's might be a fixed or it's just me criticism and you want to say, Hey, step up man. So there's usually like a follow up that sometimes I feel like criticism necessitates it's distracting.

Dr. Shepp:

And I think as a, as a performer it can be a combination of both. You don't want to expect yourself to hit the same Mark every time that, that people have given you praise for. You don't want to feel like you have to bring it to the same degree every time. If you focus on the praise you've received. Um, so I imagine it's a little bit of both.

Alie Ward:

Yeah. Yeah. You want to , you keep you, I , especially if you love what you do, you want to keep getting better. So sometimes you can, you can focus on a criticism cause it might be a clue or a very, not even a clue, a very huge billboard telling you what you need to do better. So I think in the spirit of wanting to serve the project, sometimes I give that more weight.

Dr. Shepp:

As a performer. You obviously prepare for every episode of your podcast and for every broadcast yet at the unexpected can happen. What is something unexpected that happened to you, whether as a correspondent or podcast host?

Alie Ward:

Oh man, me and my equipment do not always show up in the same place. That is like, that is something that is so basic. You need two people and you need some recording equipment. And there have been a handful of times where I have left a hotel and left my recordings . But uh , I hope shown up without aid and an SD card or there's been some issue with, with equipment. And so that is always the most embarrassing because when you're like fumbling with a mic , you always feel like not professional at all. And so I think sometimes in printing out my questions and doing research, I think I'm so prepared. And then you forget like the basic tools you need. Some times you'll leave the house without batteries and you'd be like , um , I remember during our interview I forgot to put my phone on airplane mode and I was mortified. I was trying to shove it under the counter instead of, and at the time now I'd probably just be like, Oh man, my phone went off . But at the time I was like, just shove it under the couch. Just shove it on . I'm sure you noticed . I don't remember that at all. It was like , I was like, Oh, she could hear it vibrating. But yeah, but I'm , so equipment foibles are the worst because , um , those are so out. You can't proceed. You can't fake your way through for getting a mic cable, you know? Right. Well, I will share that in my first in-person interview for this podcast. Um , the batteries did go dead in my [inaudible] so , so I had to go back for a second, a second visit, although the second visit turned out really well. But , um, but yeah, that's, that's something that you just don't want to have happen. Oh my God, I'm so sorry that happened to you. It's the stuff nightmares are made of and it's just, but you had a great second talk and that's what, that's what matters. Well, that's one instance where I absolutely had to take my own advice because there was nothing I could do. The second half of the podcast was just gone. It was, you know, I couldn't just make it appear out of thin air. It was not recorded, so I couldn't do anything about it. I had to just control the controllables and make a phone call and say, I'm really sorry, but I, I have to come back. That's great. I'm going to write control. The controllables, control the controllables is going on my chalkboard. I just , you know , so , um, so then what, what is one way that you move on from failure? How do you move on from failure alley ? Oh man, it can be really hard in the moment. And I have to, I , this is what I do. You ready for this? This is so stupid. I picture myself on my deathbed and I'm like under a nice quilt or a calf can. My family is surrounding me and I think, well, whatever, I'm been out of shape about matter on my deathbed . Like, well, I'd be on my deathbed and I'll be like, so and so didn't retweet me. No, it's not gonna matter or will I be like, Oh, I, you know, I dropped a vase on my deathbed. If it's a , if it's a main vase and it's worth $1 million in epilogue to someone else on my death bed, I might be like, that was my biggest regret. So yes. Okay, fine. I could freak , forget about it, but if on my deathbed I'll be like, what?

Dr. Shepp:

Huh? I don't even remember then I should just try to move on as quickly as possible. Time. Time makes everything better. Usually a week out from whatever catastrophe you're having, you're like, it's fine. So I have to, I literally just visualize myself typing and shrugging it off, so I'm like, okay, that's fine. Well, it's, it's funny cause I, I laugh and I make light of that, but um, there's that old proverb , something about teach us to number our days because it does make a difference when you think about what really matters. What I learned now from an experience that I went through with some , um , with a health crisis a few years back when I was in the hospital, I remember thinking about what was important to me and, and I definitely gained some perspective through that experience that transformed my life because so much of what I considered to be important prior to that absolutely doesn't matter to me anymore at all. And other things that are important to me, I really do cherish. It's definitely informed my own decision making, but it still doesn't solve every problem because sometimes you still have to navigate when something is important to you that might not be important to someone else or a decision that you might make because you feel it feel really strongly about it and you feel like it's important for you to live it out. And at the same time, it might go against what other people are wanting to do. So it doesn't solve every problem, but it definitely transformed my own experience for sure. Were you able to take some time off and just feel like after that, just like, give me a minute. I'm gonna switch some shit up right now. Well I had to, I actually couldn't walk and I couldn't go back to work for quite a while because I just didn't have the strength or the energy to, and part of my own transformation came from that period of recovery too . Cause there's nothing to do but reflect and watch really bad reruns of Christmas specials and holidays, holiday specials. Um, lot of, lot of hallmark holiday movies that I didn't expect to watch. Um, but, but yeah, I had a lot of time and so it helped me reprioritize things and , and definitely transformed the way I thought about things. Um, and even just the way I think about rest and taking care of myself. Cause obviously as a psychologist I've always thought it was important to practice self care and , um, but the kind of self care practice now is different than before because , um, when I faced a certain , um , situation that I didn't expect like that it diff , it definitely impacted just the little things about every day. Do I really want to be upset about this? Do I want to , um , feel as, as frustrated as I feel right now. Is this how I want to spend my time? So little things like that that I didn't think about before I , I definitely give more attention to, Oh, what a great lesson to have. I mean the horrible experience and I'm glad that you pulled through because angles without you would suck. You guys used your wisdom, but what , uh , what are reset button that you were kind of forced to push, you know? Yeah. And it's interesting how reset buttons can, can really change your trajectory, my trajectory anyway, feeling like, you know , we only have so much time whether it's less time than we think or more time than we think or it turns out to be about how long we thought it would be. We still only have so much time. That's interesting too . To think that everyone around you probably has had a situation similar to a reset button of sorts. You know, like that moment that you are in a crisis situation and you are forced to kind of press it , um , a lot of times it can, you can come out the other side more you than when you started. Yes, very much so. Yeah. And it's still, there's still that challenge to be authentically myself every day the same way that everyone faces that challenge. And I try to navigate that to the best of my ability and hopefully I do a good job or at least a good enough job on it cause no one's perfect. So hopefully I do a good enough job on it. Um , it's still a moment by moment choice to be authentic to yourself and to the things that you want to , um, to, to do and the ways you want to impact your, your environment in your world. For sure. And it's ,

Alie Ward:

it can definitely be scary. They can come with a risk, but a lot of times that feeling of authenticity is such a relief. You know, it's just like, Oh well you don't feel like , uh, there's anything lurking , you know? And it can feel like such a, it can in a way, it feels like

Dr. Shepp:

the Marie Kondo method where you're just like, okay, just kind of purge the clutter and you're like, here we go. This is what I am. And there's kind of a relief in the simplicity of, of just being your authentic self, you know? Absolutely. It is more simplified. It doesn't make everything easy, but it is, it is more simplified. Yeah. Yeah. I'm , I'm definitely much happier

Alie Ward:

being , uh , being the person I am then the person I was six years ago, you know. Um, I think that that's one thing that I , I've really loved about doing the podcast and in listening to interviews and getting to meet all these people is, is learning that everyone's story is , uh, has these ups and downs and has these moments , uh , of refocus and of discovery and of wonder. Um, you know, it's really an a lesson that what you're going through is , um, is just part of being a human and that is to be [inaudible] appreciate

Dr. Shepp:

it, you know? Absolutely. So , uh , on my little stories note , uh, w have you ever had what you would say was a transformative moment in your work or in your life? Um, and you've, you've mentioned some things that have impacted you, but,

Alie Ward:

but do you feel like there was a transformative moment and , and if so, what was it? Oh, I think, I think starting the museum volunteering was hugely transformative. Um, but when it comes to ologies had a moment September 4th, 2017, I don't remember the exact moment. Um , I, I had been working on ologies for about nine months. I had done maybe six or seven interviews. I had been noodling with editing. I had hired a sound engineer. I had done the artwork and I just didn't, I , I didn't feel right to put out yet. I didn't feel like it was good enough. And I got a message on social media, which can be helpful. And , um, and so someone said, Hey, I listened to someone else's podcast. They were talking about doing a podcast about ologies. Did you know that? And I was like, Oh, no. Like this is a really big science communicator. A British guy with a big following and I had been working on ologies for like almost a year. I had the social media handles already. I'd been like teasing it to people on Twitter being, you know, I've been telling people I was recording it and I just had this moment where all of this work, this dream that I've always wanted to make a project about ologies just got taken from under me just because of my own, my own fear of putting it out is what you, of course it's , it's a , I thought it was a great idea. Of course someone else would come up with the idea, they would just beat me to the punch cause I was too fiddled with anxiety to put it out. And so , um, and so I reached out to the person and said, Hey, I heard that you are thinking about this. Just so, you know, I've been working on this for a while and, and I'm, I'm crossing my fingers hoping that , um, that, you know, this isn't an imposition, but I'm , I'm hoping you decide to, I hope he get bored of it and you don't do it. And he said, don't worry, I'm , I'm, I've run my mouth a lot and I'm not actually gonna do it, but good luck to you. And , um, but I put it , I put my very first teaser episode up that night cause I just had to, and I, I've probably would have , would I , who knows, I maybe never would have put it up. Um, and I maybe would have abandoned the project thinking it's not going to be good enough. But I, I had worked so hard on it, but just hadn't had the courage to put it out. And so it's a , but I remember the moment I got that, that a message from someone letting me know, I felt like I'd been kicked in the stomach. I was just like, Oh, this is all my fault for just being, to being a perfectionist with it. And so that was a really big lesson for me, that perfectionism is not as valuable as courage in that in that sense. Like, you know, doing a good job , um, can comes with experience. And so, you know, it's a podcast is as I've done more and more, I've maybe gotten better at certain things, but , um, you can't be, you can never perfect anything and you can only get better by doing instead of worrying. And so I think I just, the scenes worried for a year almost thinking I could make the perfect episode and I couldn't. And so that was a moment, September 4th. Um , so that, that was a hugely transformative moment where I understood that you just sometimes have to let things be imperfect in order for them to flourish. You know, perfectionism is not as important as courage. That's what you just said. And I think that's , that's great advice. Yeah, it's really , uh , I , you know, and I think people who have anxiety or people who are perfectionist, they really think that they can fix it all alone in their head and then spit out something perfect. And , uh, one thing I've learned from doing this and from doing innovation nation and from , uh, did I mention mention is that , uh, tinkering is essential and you will never get better at something unless you do it. And so , um, I used to think that I can worry about things and fix it that way. And yeah. Nope, very different. Like you said, worry is really different from problem solving. So , um, you know, and as I've gone on to make, you know, to make ologies make the project, I've, yeah, I've fixed things as I've gone, but those are things I never could have fixed alone in my head, you know, being scared and put it out. So that was, that was huge. September four , I remember. Well, happy anniversary. That's, yeah, absolutely. Well, you get a lot of comments and feedback about your work. Um, what is one comment that still stands out to you because of its impact, whether that was good or bad or for whatever reason? Oh, you know, I think one thing that always means a lot to me is when people say that the podcast has inspired them to do what they really love. That's, that's something that's really, really means a lot to me. Um, the other comment I get is that I didn't think I'd be interested in this episode and I loved it. That always means a lot to me just cause I'm like, yes, I made something weird, interesting. But the people who say , um , you know, I , I always wanted to be in this other line of work or I always wanted to go volunteer somewhere. I think , um, that really makes me feel great cause it feels like tangible change maybe that , um, that can happen just based on conversations, you know, just having a conversation with someone that I maybe never would've gotten to meet. But I, I started looking up, you know, cactus experts and found them and traveled to them and talk to them and their amazing life story and their work , uh, has been able to change how someone else lives. And so being , um, a little bit of like an ambassador to all of these amazing, you know, experts stories has really meant a lot to me cause I don't think it's me that does it, but I think it's just hearing the passion of the guests and , um, maybe maybe a little bit hearing a little bit of the passion that I have for the project. But yeah, thinking of people getting to know themselves better by asking themselves what they're really into, that I feel like it means a ton to me for sure. Um, and yeah, and when people say that I feel like they're weird uncle, I'm always like, thanks, that means a lot too . Everyone's got that weird uncle is like, Hey, check out. I find out wasps nest, you want to go poke it like that one . Although people try to avoid their weird uncle and I would [inaudible] about you. So maybe a weird cousin or something that's like, Hey, check it out. Let's go climb this tree you to out . So yeah, I always, I feel like that's , I love having that role. I, and I , I call myself my , um , the listener's dad because I never quite felt motherly toward them, but it feels like , um, cause motherly, I felt like a had these connotations of , um, I don't know, maybe of a control or something, but I, I always felt like this weird, like this weird dad that's like, Hey, let's go, you know, let's go muck about and catch fish and, you know, don't tell your mom we ate churros for breakfast or something. So I know how I feel . Or , or McNuggets CDs or McNugget teenies for breakfast. Oh God. Hopefully never again, not, not advisable for any person living or dead. Uh , I'm glad I got to work that in somehow.

Dr. Shepp:

Um, well the last question in about 30 seconds or less, what have you learned about yourself from your particular work as a correspondent and a science communicator and podcast host?

Alie Ward:

I think I've learned that I'm enough so that in less than 30 seconds, I'd have to say that I'm enough. I always thought I had to be different. I thought I had to be better before I could be accepted or good at what I do. And I understood that I am enough and that being weird is fine and that, yeah, so I could just show up, you know. And the mantra for me is always show up like you belong and have fun and um, and that's kind of what I've learned to trust is just that I don't have to change. Um , I just have to be me, which is helpful. Thank you .

Dr. Shepp:

Thanks Allie . Thanks for showing up here with me today and thanks for , for making this so fun for me.

Alie Ward:

Oh, yay.

Dr. Shepp:

I'm really glad you could take the time to do this. So this is a great conversation and I really enjoyed it and um , I'm really happy for you and that you found what it is that you love to do and I wish you continued success.

Alie Ward:

Oh, thank you. Thank you for being on. It's one of my favorite episodes. Are you kidding? Like I thank you again every time I listen, I just am going to just send you, send you a check. Thank you so much for having me on you ask amazing questions. You're awesome at this. Oh , thanks so much. Take care. All right , bye.

Dr. Shepp:

This has been the moment with dr Shep. Life is a collection of moments. It's how you manage the moments that makes the difference. My thanks again to Allie ward for joining us for these moments today and thank you for listening. Stay tuned for a preview of our next episode. You can subscribe to the manage the moment podcast for free just by clicking the subscribe button wherever you're listening to this podcast, and then you'll be sure to get the newest episodes as soon as they're uploaded and for more information about manage the moment podcast, you can see the episode notes for this broadcast. You . You'll also find us on social media and I'm on Twitter and Instagram at dr shell . Thanks so much for listening and taking the time to share these moments with us. Until next time

Speaker 6:

on the next manage the moment we will hear from Harrison funk, a photo journalist, film director and portrait photographer of some of the world's most famous faces . Yeah . His work has been seen by billions of people around the globe. I was, I was really fortunate because as I told you, the stories , how I started, I went right to the top. You know , my clients were huge. If you're a, if you're an artist on any claim , singer, painter, composer, actor, it doesn't matter. If you have that talent and you can use it and you can, you can draw on all those things that make talent do it. That's next time on the manage the moment podcast.