Adam on NPR's Seldom Said

Adam Sharp, Interim CEO of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and former Head of News, Government & Elections at Twitter, joins Robert Amato on WCWP/NPR's "Seldom Said" to talk about the 45th Daytime Emmy Awards, the changing media landscape, and his career in social media and politics. 

Transcript

Robert Amato

Time and again, the world bears witness to truths seldom said. Lend an ear. We promise enlightened, informed conversation. My name is Robert and this is Seldom Said, the place where conversation matters.

Robert Amato

Welcome back. My name is Robert. The program is called Seldom Said, the place were conversation matters. Quite special guest today, Mr. Adam Sharp, the president of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. He'll be talking about the Emmy Awards, he'll be talking about his background, and he'll leave us with a great many more questions to ask I am sure, after the hour. Welcome to Seldom Said, Adam.

Adam Sharp

Thank you for having me.

Robert Amato

Marvelous. Can we start with a little bit of personal background, who you are, where you've been, and what's brought you to this time and place?

Adam Sharp

Sure. As you mentioned, I am Adam Sharp. I am the [interim 00:00:50] president of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. We're the organization that give the Emmy Awards for daytime programing, sports television, news and documentary television, and technology and engineering in the television space. As well as all the local Emmy Awards around the country. I think this job really is the conversions of two paths, one being my own career, and then the other being my relationship with the Academy.

Adam Sharp

That relationship started 24 years ago, when I applied for one of the first scholarships the Academy ever awarded. I won that scholarship and became involved with the Academy at that point. At the real starting point of my career. Was involved in the local chapter, worked for an Academy officer as a job after school in college. After graduation, remained active. Eventually joined the scholarship committee to choose future winners. Went on from there to be the chairman of that committee, the vice president of our foundation. And so I kept getting more and more involved until the presidency because available, and the board asked me if I'd be willing to [inaudible 00:02:11].And so very hard to say no when it's an organization that literally paid to jumpstart my career at an early age.

Adam Sharp

That career took several turns. I have always been passionate about media, technology, and politics. So the job has always been trying to find an equilibrium between those three. Started working in television, NBC News. Went down to Washington and worked on Capitol Hill for a few years. Missed television, joined the executive team at CSPAN and then a, what was then a small startup, came calling called Twitter. And I was their first hire in Washington and built out their global news government and elections team. Left six years later and here I am now. So a lot of that background in media and technology and how the convergence of those are changing the TV industry are proving very beneficial in this role. And then obviously the background in politics certainly has relevance when it comes to the regulatory issues in our space, working with our different members and chapters and making sure we're serving those constituencies well. So it has been another one of those equilibrium opportunities.

Robert Amato

Given this incredibly eclectic background that you have Adam, I'm reminded of the story told about Albert Einstein. He was asked, are you quite a good mathematician? He said, of course I am, but don't ask me to learn a foreign language. Was there an innate feeling on your part that no matter what you did in this varied background, you would be able to master it? Is there some sort of visceral talent you were exposed to and exhibited in an early age?

Adam Sharp

I think for me it certainly is an aversion to boredom that, a big driver there. And led to what was perhaps more breadth than going the route of trying to become an expert in just one discipline. My interest and fascination was always in the intersection between these and knowing just enough to see opportunities and understand how to build strategies around those intersections.

Adam Sharp

So for example, I was a computer engineering concentration in school. I learned to code. I still write code from time to time. I wouldn't consider myself a software engineer, but I know just enough to be able to have intelligent conversations with software engineers, recognize the limitations and possibilities of different tools and as a result, bridge that communication gap between the more creative media community and the more technical engineering side. That certainly served me well in my role at Twitter, is serving me well now in this role. And so I wouldn't necessarily say it was that I was going to master everything, but it was an attraction to those connections between mastery and surrounding myself with those who mastered each individual field.

Robert Amato

For someone young in the audience who's saying to themselves, I'd love to do what this gentleman has done. Would you recommend that he become at least viscerally expert in a porridge of ideas or simply focus and concentrate on one aspect of the career?

Adam Sharp

I think in today's age, the more multi discipline one can be is critical. And keeping options open, not getting too focused on just one thing, and if that doesn't work out, then the sky comes falling. The lion's share of my career, the biggest chunk of my career in one place was the job at Twitter. And I often remind people that that job, which is the one that's made the biggest chunk of time in my career, certainly the biggest chunk of income in my career and certainly the biggest chunk of recognition and opportunity in my career. This was a position in a company in an industry, none of which existed the day I graduated college. And the [classic 00:07:07] cliche question of what do you want to be when you grow up? Well, turns out that dream job isn't one that could even have been specified because late as my college years, it didn't exist. And yet I was able to define, I'd like to do something where I can keep exploring my passion at this intersection of media, technology and politics. And sure enough, eventually the industry turned in a way that created that position in a way that didn't necessarily exist at the time. And I went from career ADD to the unicorn they were looking for.

Adam Sharp

I think there is some element there though of some core skills that go across different disciplines. Certainly my education growing up through grade school and high school in particular was very focused on communication. Both with spoken word and writing. It was a priority of my parents. And I think if you are able to get to a point where you can write convincingly and effectively and speak comfortably and effectively, those two tools give you keys to just about any kingdom you choose to explore.

Robert Amato

Can you figure or point to an epiphany moment, that so called Damascus moment Adam, where you said to yourself, this is what I wish to do, at least in the near future, if not for my life.

Adam Sharp

Well, I had a number of those moments when I was at Twitter for sure. But I've had a number of those moments in other periods of my career as well. And so it's like for all this talk of the intersection of media, technology and politics, one of the moments that probably most comes to mind or immediately jumps to mind is one much more heavily to the political side. And that is, I was deputy chief of staff to a US senator from Louisiana in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the disastrous levy breaks and flooding that followed. And in that experience, being able to leverage my media understanding and technical skills to be effective in serving her and effective in communicating our message on the national level and the needs of the state and national level at a time when FEMA, the Emergency Management Agency was completely underserving the need and where elected leaders in Washington were resistant to necessarily the investments necessary to fill it.

Adam Sharp

That was an environment where I felt by leveraging all these skills from different disciplines to have an immediate and direct impact, truly life and death situation for the constituents I was serving, that was extremely rewarding and one that made me feel happy and, okay, this is what I want to do.

Adam Sharp

Certainly when I got to Twitter, it wasn't as much life or death every day the same way. But seeing Twitter's impact in the Arab Spring, seeing its impact in elections, and recognizing my team's role in helping shepherd that garnered much the same sense of awe and excitement, I think.

Robert Amato

Events such as Katrina, Adam, seem to speak to themselves. What you're doing now with the National Academy deals with individuals creating an atmosphere, so basically the writer, the author, the projector, the actors themselves are creating an air, an aura of drama. How important is that in judging a program that deserves an award?

Adam Sharp

I think there's multiple aspects that go into it and certainly I think the core mission of the organization is to celebrate excellence in the medium. And certainly television for the last several generations has been I think the defining medium of our culture. No offense, saying that on the radio. The radio certainly shaped much of the culture of the country before that and much of early television. But I think that there is a need to constantly push for excellence in that. When television is at its best at shaping the culture, it is holding up a mirror to the culture. It is helping us understand each other better. It is helping us make the culture better and more informed. When it is not achieving excellence, it is doing the opposite. And so that's where I think those individuals, whether it is a journalist where clearly that path to being informative and helpful to the culture is very direct, or the writer of a drama that is making choices every day in crafting characters that wind up influencing our perceptions, influencing our hidden biases. All of those have an impact on our culture and our discourse and our relationship and I think serves a important community function as well. And so if chasing that gold statue for the mantle is what inspires the pursuit of that, I think that benefits society as a whole.

Robert Amato

Interesting comment about a year ago from Sean Penn, he said that he didn't purely want to be an entertainer. Movies were too important for that. How important is pure entertainment in the judgment of the Emmy's?

Adam Sharp

Entertainment is important and certainly the entertainment level is weighted differently in our different competitions. In our daytime Emmy's for example, where you have drama categories and more entertainment specific categories, then it is a critical component. Because at the end of the day if the story isn't engaging enough to keep the attention of the audience, then it doesn't matter what [inaudible 00:15:15] you're achieving.

Adam Sharp

I think entertainment per se is less relevant in news and documentary for example, where that engagement is certainly important, but I wouldn't put the term entertainment on top of it, and in fact entertainment in news can sometimes have the opposite effect on the audience.

Adam Sharp

And then sports is sometimes out of the producer's hands. A lot of what makes the game entertaining is what's happening on the field, not necessarily what's happening in the control room.

Robert Amato

Does one then approach sports as live theater?

Adam Sharp

I think in many ways it is. I think there's different goals to be had. Certainly in my experiences in live theater, everyone is on stage with some intention of making everyone else look good on stage. And [inaudible 00:16:27] the whole company while in sporting events, at least half the cast is focused on destroying the other half.

Adam Sharp

But there are certainly unpredictabilities that add certain elements of excitement and entertainment in sports, to a certain extent, in news and in non scripted daytime programming like game shows and courtroom shows and the like.

Robert Amato

We're within one minute of our first break, Adam. It's gone by very quickly, that's usually indicative of an interesting program. I'd like to return with perhaps your take on the high school entries and the awards given to the young. This seems such a complex and complicated profession that one might judge. What are the criteria for someone 16 who wants to create something that will be remembered, broadcast, kept, recorded. I'd like to know what you're looking for, what the Academy is looking for, and how a young person who really is motivated to try this as a career, how he can approach it. How he can introduce himself and take his interest and acumen and apply it to something productive and creative.

Robert Amato

We'll be back in a moment. This is Seldom Said, my name is Robert. Announcer: This Seldom Said with Robert Amato.


Announcer: This is Seldom Said, with Adam Amato.

 

Robert Amato

Welcome back the program is Seldom Said, my name is Robert. Special guest, Mr. Adam Sharp, president of the National Academy of Television Arts and Science. Adam, very quickly segueing into that last question, Fred Astaire never tripped. I would imagine a 15 year old trips over his shoe laces every morning. What are you looking for in a high school entry?

Adam Sharp

I think it, important enough first that we look at high school entries in two different contexts. One are our student production awards that we are awarding this year on October eighteenth and those are for specific pieces of work by these young talents. And then we have our five national scholarships which are more of a whole student aspirational view and looking more directly at their future potential. I think in many ways we look at the same things each and with some shades of difference.

Adam Sharp

The first thing to note obviously is that there tends to be a greater weight given to access to tools. In our national competitions each of the networks you can be reasonably confident are going to have somewhat consistent access to technology to work with. That is not necessarily the case at the academic level and you do not want to be in a position where because someone is a student at a lesser funded public school that they do not have the same ability to have their talents recognized as a student at a very well funded private school, for example.

Adam Sharp

I think the judges therefore have to really focus on trying to look past the bells and whistles to really get down to what is this individual's contribution and talent and what they are trying to achieve. And we talked earlier how important is entertainment, how important are these other factors, that's every time I've been involved in judging these things, it really comes down to what is the story they are trying to tell and are they telling it well? Are they drawing me in? Are they making me want to get to the end of the story, whether it is a news piece or a comedy or a dramatic piece. And that you can do effectively.

Adam Sharp

I remember one student who won a scholarship last year where technically speaking was probably among the lowest production values of any of the entries we looked at. It was all cell phone video and I'm not even talking high end iPhone android HD cell phone video, I mean flip phone, 15 frame per second, grainy. But the story was so compelling and so engrossing and so well paced and it was very clear what they were trying to convey to the audience. And did it in such a great way that you almost forgot the technical quality.

Adam Sharp

That, when you're looking at professional entries, you might not forgive as readily because you say oh well they had the tools to make something better.

Robert Amato

We often especially in the artistic endeavors, use the word genius. Perhaps overuse it. Have you encountered a moment in your career where you honestly said my God, what I've just seen, this is Orson Wells, this is something special.

Adam Sharp

At Twitter I especially there felt that quite often. There were a number of occasions where I said I'm sitting in the room with the smartest person I have ever met. And part of that was because as Twitter and as it continues to grow, every day introduces new massive challenges and the need to figure out a way to solve them. And they're problems that have never been faced before. I think in all the coverage of [inaudible 00:23:02] and abuse and all these other problems on the social platforms, a lot of the reason why these things weren't contemplated was that these tools didn't exist before, the opportunity for these abuses didn't exist before so it just was a limitation of imagination but then when the problems are identified and you put people in a room with a whiteboard and say okay we need to find the answer to this, the genius was on quick display by a number of colleagues.

Adam Sharp

And so I definitely saw it a lot there. And then there was routinely those opportunities in the Emmy context because we've been around now doing these for almost 60 years and if you can still watch something and say, wow I've never seen that before. When we're talking 60 years of 24 seven television on now hundreds of broadcast and cable networks, plus hundreds and actually thousands of local TV stations plus now streaming and so on and so forth. When in those billions of minutes of video constantly being created you can still watch something and say wow, that different. That also gives me that reaction though I'm rarely in the room with the person responsible for it when I'm watching that product.

Robert Amato

Now as president of the National Academy Television Arts and Sciences, Adam one can presuppose that you have certain personal goals you'd like to see come to fruition. In very generic and perhaps specific terms if you so choose, the national academy, can you specify it's goals, efforts and achievements for those who have never heard of it. They must have been living in caves, but for the purpose of argument.

Adam Sharp

Well if there are people who have never heard of it, fixing that is definitely one of my priorities and goals for the future.

Adam Sharp

The ultimate objective of the academy is the same today as it was 60 years ago and that is to recognized excellence in television. And we do that through a number of ways. We honor excellence through our Emmy awards, trustees awards and lifetime achievement Emmy awards. We celebrate it though the awards ceremonies and other events. We try to foster it though mentoring and discussions and programs run through our 19 regional chapters around the country. And we try to shepherd it by identifying rising talent through their high school student production competition and the scholarships program to make sure that there is another generation committed to that excellence moving forward.

Adam Sharp

That goal set, that vision, that duty is the same today as a half century ago and doesn't really change. What has changed though is that critical word in the middle of it which is television. Excellence in television. Certainly television today is not the same as television when it was black and white and only three networks. And so I think the challenge is today is that we face in continuing that mission are maintaining relevance and maintaining our reflection of the trends in the industry. The daytime Emmy awards, for example, they honor daytime dramas, soap operas essentially, children's programming, game shows, courtroom programs like Judge Judy. Today there are only four of those soap operas left on the broadcast division. In their heyday there were nearly 20 of them and they were a mainstay of the daytime Emmy competition. So even though we've gone from nearly 20 of these mainstay programs down to only four, this year was the best year ever for the daytime Emmys in terms of the number of entrants and the number of tickets sold to the event.

Adam Sharp

We were the only major awards show to show year over year increase in the at home audience watching the program. And a lot of that growth was coming from digital platforms, like Amazon and Netflix and digital dramas. Soap operas even that are not on network television are not everyday, are dropping all at once to be binged the way the new shows on primetime television have been. And so the mission of recognizing excellence hasn't changed, but certainly the dynamics of how we execute on that are very different now and there are completely new players, completely new types of programming and completely new audience expectations than there were even five or ten years ago.

Robert Amato

Many will look at things like playhouse 90 years back and say that was a golden age of television. And many will take the position that the golden age is now, this second this moment this time. Older programs were live, modern programs, especially perhaps even soaps during the day, are prerecorded. Do you have any specific opinions as to comparison of eras in the comparison of live versus prerecorded?

Adam Sharp

Many things tend to come around again. There are people wearing bell bottoms now. I think the tendency in media is to constantly be changing, constantly be evolving, and some great ideas from the past come back. There was a shift in the last decade or so, very slowly from live television, which certainly back in the original days of television as you know it was almost entirely live. Then it struck a sort of balance, but then in the last couple of decades there was a very strong shift towards prerecorded. And the reasons for that were first the growth of syndication as part of the business model of television that you needed something that could survive multiple airings and repeats because then that way the possibility of that content would be more optimized and that live television began to be more reduced to the big event programs like award shows.

Adam Sharp

And then you also had the time shifting aspect when more and more viewers started to have DVRs and Tivos in their homes because they weren't necessarily watching the show at the time it aired. You started to lose this time and date expectation of when to view a show and so no one was watching live to being with. And so that, and you add on top of it streaming and on demand programming and so on, seems to be the death now of live television. Until social media came to the floor. And what you discovered there was almost a return to that traditional view of television as we're all going to gather on the couch and watch this together because the experience is made better when we can laugh with all our family, when we can nudge our neighbor and say did he just say that? When we can be cheering on someone on the game show.

Adam Sharp

And that shared experience actually created a new resurgence in live programming and in fact if you talk to Mark Burnett, the creator of the Voice on NBC, he will routinely point to Twitter as a critical element of the success of that show because he said the fact that the audience wanted to watch together on sort of this global couch. And be able to talk about what they were seeing and to look for the contestants they wanted to see win or the teams they wanted to see win. Now there was an audience invested again in seeing that form of entertainment live because if you watched it later you would miss out on that community experience.

Adam Sharp

And so I think you're going to see a bit more live programming to come because of that, but all of these things ebb and flow.

Robert Amato

Once again we're within three minutes of our second break. I would like to introduce the topic of local and national Emmys, Adam. It would seem that a good program is simply a good program, one needn't define it any further. In your own mind, given your experience, experientially, are there distinctive differences between local and national awards?

Adam Sharp

To your point I think excellence is excellence and one reason we have national and local is to make sure that we are recognizing that excellence and it is a very large community that's producing television in the country and this gives an opportunity to recognize more of that programming. Certainly the, if you're looking at something that is designed to be entertainment you may have something more similar at the local level and more generic than at the national level, but when you get to the news end of the spectrum or even sports, that's where the community interest gets a lot more relevant. The way you would cover a story, for example, for a national or global audience is very different than how you would cover a story for a local audience where there's that direct impact on the viewer and do I need to bring everything from do I need to bring an umbrella in the morning to are my children safe, who's like running the city? And so I think that's where the distinctions have a much stronger impact in how the content is being viewed.

Robert Amato

We're within that one minute, I'd like to introduce the question of our last segment and then perhaps pursue it in a minute or two, that would be just in general information for those in the listening audience who do want to watch or are aware of the Emmys and want to see whether their favorite programs have been in some way recognized, this will be the 39th annual Emmy awards. There are 49 categories. There is an element of complexity in discerning what is good, bad and indifferent. For those who wish to watch, what advice would you give for the educated observer? When and where might they spend their time preparing for an educational evening as well as an entertaining one? It would be something that would be worthwhile in preparing people to discern what is good, what is bad and what is simply apocryphal. Going to be back in a moment, hopefully with a discussion of that question. This is Seldom Said, my name is Robert. Announcer: This is Seldom Said with Robert Amato.


Announcer: This is Seldom Said, with Robert Amato.

 

Robert Amato

Welcome back. This is the final segment of what has proven to be a marvelous program with Mr. Adam Sharp, the President of National Academy Television Arts and Sciences. Adam, to return to that question, positive, just before the first break. Would you like to see the audience perhaps more appropriately prepared so that they not only enjoy the program seeing a star, hearing a song, watching a dance? But so that they are aware of the difficulties, the intricacies, and the pure genius, the creative artistry that goes into some of these programs that are extraordinary?

Adam Sharp

I think you raise a strong point there, that on the one hand, the audience often doesn't understand what goes into a lot of these productions and awarding these skill sets is one way of drawing attention to that. But it's not the only way. I think it's something that, in the year to come, we have planned to try to tell those stories more effectively through social media and on our website. But at the same time, I would even go as far to say that there is a flip side to that, where sometimes the magic of television is when a lot of those skill sets fade into the background and allow you to just focus on the story.

Adam Sharp

If your attention is being drawn to a technical element, if you are focused on the lighting, the special effects, the set design, at the expense of the story, then that can have the opposite effect. So I think everything in moderation.

Robert Amato

Have you ever, either personally or professionally, been moved by something that is pure whimsy? Just that little act of faith that has you sitting back in a chair and wondering when the next moment will come?

Adam Sharp

Yes. I think oftentimes you have surprising moments. I think certainly now, and we're going into a new television season now, so I'm sure we'll see even more programming that brings surprises like that. Certainly [inaudible 00:38:28] at Twitter where a lot of things were happening for the first time. When we first did a Town Hall on Twitter with the President, at that time President Obama, and no one knew if this would work. And then, oh, wow, you can have a meaningful conversation with over a hundred thousand people participating. But sometimes, you know, people just surprise you. I where TV and even Twitter intersect sometimes on social media I'll be scrolling through and see someone who's just put together a five second video clip and it's perfect, beginning, middle, end, three acts three and in five seconds and you thought how is it that something so short could so move me? But it's just a representation of the talent of the creator.

Robert Amato

You've mentioned the news, you've mentioned President Obama first town meeting. You've been called the human embodiment of Twitter. That's an incredible statement to say about a human being, it's a commemoration, a judgment of your abilities and what you've achieved. But now we live with these terms like fake news and misinformation, reanalysis of analysis. Are you optimistic that there will be positive change so that perhaps not the Edward R. Murrows and so forth, but people of the ilk will return to the stage and be judged for their Emmys?

Adam Sharp

Oh I certainly think the mere kids of moniker for me was seen as much more of a compliment at the time it was given when it was a reflection of my communication skills and conversation skills and relationship building across the aisle in Washington DC. Right now I'm not quite sure, as you said someone would say human embodiment of Twitter it would be seen as much of a compliment. I do think that we're already seeing a bit of a push back, I think you are seeing a hunger from the audience for meaningful journalism and for separating truth from fiction. And there's very few people who actively say I'm looking for fake news, I don't want to be told the truth. The challenge is that the technology is such that you no longer have the same gatekeepers to information as before and that is both a blessing and a curse.

Adam Sharp

It gives a microphone to so many people who were voiceless in the past and that's what has given you the strength of the black lives matter and me too movements, but it has also given more voice to the bad actors who then abuse that [inaudible 00:41:41]. And we're the companies and the government need to step up are in developing the tools and providing the context for viewers to be able to tell the difference. And choose truth.

Robert Amato

When you use that term truth, it's such a powerful term, much drama that one experience is simply drama for it's own sake. How important is the truth behind a presentation in the judgment of an Emmy winner? A person who perhaps doesn't have the technological skills or artistic achievement, but is presenting something that is at core a heartbeat.

Adam Sharp

Truth in it's myriad definitions is essential. But which definition is applied I think is very subjective and a function of which competition and which category and which award you're looking for. Certainly in the news and documentary Emmy awards which we're presenting in New York next Monday, October first. Those have just fundamental truth, this journalism, this is documentary, it is not a ground where you would be honoring falsehood as excellence. In a fiction category such as some of the dramatic presentations that we honor at the daytime Emmy awards, that's fiction, it's not designed to be or claimed to be a true story. And yet there are truths that need to be honored, there has to be truth to the character. There has to be truth to the story. You've heard the phrase jumping the shark, referring back to a legendary Happy Days episode, but it speaks to this notion of when a show goes for some creative leap that goes outside the bounds of what you expect of that character of that story. And so it's a show that hasn't been true to those cores even if the factual nature of the world isn't the relevant piece.

Robert Amato

Now Adam you speak from the pinnacle of your profession. In the metropolitan area where we're speaking from not, where my station is, many of the artistic budgets are the first to go. You as president of the National Academy, what would you propose for a curriculum budget, what would you propose be taught in a classroom that pays homage to what you're judging and what you're doing and to the creative artistry that you recognize?

Adam Sharp

Well certainly I think a greater emphasis on media literacy. And just as you put earlier, finding and noticing that fake news where the younger generation more and more are getting their information, getting their entertainment from social media and not traditional challenges. Which means that the information is not necessarily going through that same editorial filter that our generation or our parents' generation had around such information. And that does shift some of the burden to the consumer to determine what's true or not or who to trust or not. And I'm not sure we're educating young people well enough on how to determine that in the world. And that I think is across the board, even for those who aren't planning on entering this industry themselves.

Adam Sharp

Second I think writing and communication skills that while the generation communicates more and more via text and emoji, we need to make sure that those writing and communication skills are not lost as those will be critical in any career path. And then specifically to our industry I would say technology changes. And while it is tempting to buy the latest toy, the latest gadgets, the latest tools, the theory being that you want to prepare the students for what they are going to encounter in the workplace. That's all fine and good except for the fact that from the time someone graduates and get into the workplace those technologies are probably going to be on the way out the door anyway, but what is persistent is the need for constant storytelling and communication.

Adam Sharp

And so opting to invest in the toys and not the creative skill set I think is the wrong choice. I much rather see a student working on five year old equipment but really focusing on story and narrative building and the choices they have to make as a creator than just giving them all the bells and whistles but no creative structure to it.

Robert Amato

[inaudible 00:47:30] question if I may, firstly on a personal level for many in the listening audience, how do you manage to balance so many plates in the air? You're here, there, everywhere before present and future. And secondly there is this new organization and new focus that you brought into your professional life called sharp things, would you describe it, it's purpose, and what you hope to do with it?

Adam Sharp

So sharp things was and is my consultancy, so I am interim president at the Academy right now and so sharp things is a bit of the true line if you will that is focused on trying to find where that passion for news, politics and technology can be useful. So it's been historically in working with media organizations and political organizations that are trying to navigate these intersections, it has resulted in some opportunities to provide commentary certainly through the rush investigation and look back at how to make the social platforms better. And so the name being sharp things, while being a convenient play on words and the last name, was also intentionally broad with things [inaudible 00:48:53] whatever interests me at the moment. And to the first part of the question I think is a daily exercise in triage and reprioritizing and focusing on what's most important and accepting that I'm not going to get to everything.

Robert Amato

Would you be bored, Adam, by a lack of pressure?

Adam Sharp

Yes.

Robert Amato

That's remarkable.

Adam Sharp

I'm definitely someone where in my career the times I have been least satisfied and most miserable in my work have been the days when I've been sitting at my desk thinking I'm done, I don't have anything to do, I could go for a long lunch if I wanted to. So that pressure does make a difference, I have a tendency to create it for myself.

Robert Amato

As an interim president, when your time in position is over, what do you feel will be the most important achievement that you've either made or embellished or changed, what would stand out in your memory?

Adam Sharp

Well I think I still have some time left, so there's a very good chance that I haven't achieved that one thing yet. But I do think that for an organization that is very tied to this notion of excellence I'd like to think that what I've brought is a real focus on how that is constantly changing and a encouragement to say that doing things the same way doesn't necessarily mean that what [inaudible 00:50:56] last year is still excellent today. And that we need to broaden our gaze to this much larger community of creators that are now truly eligible because the barriers to distribution are not what they once were.

Robert Amato

We're within that two minutes, the clock is moving inexorably. Which gives rise to a certain amount of resentment on the part of myself and I'm sure the listening audience particularly on a day like today. I have to ask though, with all of these eclectic experiences, this multifaceted life you've had, and you have a young voice, there's much left to be done and I have the impression that you're planning on doing it, is there a book in your future?

Adam Sharp

Nothing currently planned but it's certainly something that's been talked about and it's just a matter of finding the time, there's too much other stuff to do at the moment but one day if I see an opportunity to hole myself up in a little room looking out over the ocean and just write, I think I'd relish the opportunity.

Robert Amato

For that young person in the audience who's playing games with his dreams, how might he get involved in a career such as you've had already and are continuing to have?

Adam Sharp

Well certainly I think taking advantage of the opportunity that the industry provides. Looking for internship opportunities, scholarships out that we provide, talking to professors and so on. Even if it's not your direct major in college, just to have the relationship to those to have connections to the industry. It is an industry that encourages moving up from the inside. And likes developing talent in that regard. But then the other truth I think that is more of a new development with the help of technology, if you have a phone that can shoot video, tell your story. Make television. You don't need an employer or [inaudible 00:53:23] someone saying you are now in the television industry, you put a camera on something and something happens in front of that camera, you are now in television.

Robert Amato

If I may I must call this temporary hiatus I'd like to call it because we'd love to do this again to this program. This has been a marvelous experience and I'm sure there are persons who respond to the program and ask in what direction they can pursue their own careers. Our guest has been Adam Sharp, the program is Seldom Said, my name is Robert.