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Transcript: The Culture of Reality TV (EP62)

 

Intro (with music): Welcome to The Culture of Things podcast with Brendan Rogers. This is a podcast where we talk all things, culture, leadership and teamwork across business and sport.

Voiceover: To all of our loyal listeners, The Culture of Things podcast will now also have specific episodes produced for YouTube. To ensure you don’t miss out on this exclusive YouTube content, head on over to YouTube, click the subscribe button and hit the notification bell. Now, let’s get into the episode...

Ladies and gentlemen, Brendan Rogers. 

Brendan: Who's running this show? Hello and welcome to The Culture of Things podcast. As Mike has already mentioned, I'm your host, Brendan Rogers. Today we are live streaming and recording episode 62. The chap on the other end of the video line is Mike Goldman. Mike, how are you, buddy?

Mike: Hey, thank you. Great to be here. Look at this crowd. Hey, guys. Great to be here. Thank you so much for having me. 

Brendan: I had no idea you had so many people in your street there, Mike. 

Mike: I do. I always have a studio audience with me wherever I go. 

Brendan: Mate, you're a thorough professional. I'm really looking forward to this chat today. We’re going to be talking about the culture of reality TV. You had a fair bit of experience in that space. 

Mike: Oh, yes I have. 

Brendan: How about just to give our listeners and watchers a little bit of an understanding, if they don't really know you on what you're about. I’ll give a little bit of a bio if that's alright. 

Mike: You bio me up. Yes, absolutely. I'll correct any mistakes or talk them up. 

Brendan: Or a MIKEography, as you call it on your website. 

Mike: Give me the MIKEography. I’ve probably forgotten half of it. 

Brendan: I couldn't pick. There's so much in your MIKEography. I couldn't spill it all out, mate. It's just not possible. 

Mike: Jack of all trades, master of none. 

Brendan: Mike is well-known as an Australian television personality. He's an actor, voice-over actor, and presenter. He's appeared on shows right across the free-to-air television circuit as well as streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. 

Mike is most widely known as the host of the popular Australian reality TV show, Big Brother. He is the host of the weekly chat show On The Mike and the Big Bro Show on the Seven Network. As I said before, the focus of our conversation today is the culture of reality TV. Mike, an official welcome to The Culture of Things podcast. 

Mike: Hello. Thank you for welcoming me. It's great to be here. 

Brendan: Pleasure having you, mate. Pleasure having you, and a fellow Brissie boy as well. You're up there in Bulimba. 

Mike: Yeah, man. Absolutely born and bred in beautiful Brisbane. This place has come along in such a big way. The Olympics are coming, the real estate prices are going through the roof. Forty thousand people have moved up from Melbourne or registered to move from Melbourne in the last month alone, and why wouldn't they?

We've now got the best restaurants in Australia. The best weather by far, hence why Netflix, Amazon Prime, and all these big international TV series are coming up here to shoot. It's the Hollywood of Australia, and it's just an incredible place to live. Why wouldn't you move here?

Brendan: Are you working for Tourism Queensland as well, mate?

Mike: Yes, I am. Actually, I hosted Tourism Australia, Tourism Queensland for promotional videos for the USA, Japan, South Africa, and a lot of parts of the world. This is one of the earlier ones. It’s probably in the 2000s when I did this. A guy called Dean Sutherland working for a company called Cutting Edge and he got me all excited.

He's like, yeah, we're going to be flying all over Queensland. We're going to Dunk Island, we're going to run through the [...], we're going to go scuba diving. We're going to film you talking about how great it is, and I'm like this is going to be a getaway. It’s going to be the most amazing trip. 

The day before we were going to fly away, leave, and shoot all of these amazing holidays, basically, talking about Queensland he goes, there's been a cut on the budget. We're just going to shoot it at Southbank and put all the stock footage in of the islands. I'm like, are you freaking kidding me?

Brendan: Southbank is a lovely place. Probably not quite like Dunk island, but it’s still okay. 

Mike: Okay. Dunk Island is just being bought by a company that a friend of mine is part of. They’re going to redevelop it as well. Some exciting things are happening there, speaking of Dunk. But anyway, great to be here. Thank you for having me on your show, Brendan. 

I was listening to your podcast over the last few weeks and really enjoying it. I love how you get into the culture of things. I think it's a great podcast in today's modern times because culture is such an important thing when it comes to running a business, working in the entertainment industry, especially because the culture behind the scenes, a lot of the time it comes across on screen.

The boss is being an asshole behind the scenes and no one is having any fun, it's not going to be as good on camera. The same with radio networks as well. I have worked on radio since I was about the age of 15. If the program manager, which is about 80%, 90% of the time an asshole, is usually a failed radio announcer. There are some out there that are great. Then the announcers are all nervous and not being themselves and having fun. 

Nova is probably one of the best radio stations culture-wise I've ever worked for, and seeing the kind of fun that they have behind the scenes. They’re all about the fun because they know it comes across on air. To have a show about the culture of things and the culture of business I think is something that it's really important. So well done, Brendy.

Brendan: Thank you, mate. 

Mike: A round of applause for Brendan. Let's hear it for Brendan, everybody. 

Brendan: I'm starting to think you're hosting this show, not me. This is awesome. Shall I just sit back and relax, and you just keep chatting?

Mike: Dude, it is your show absolutely. Just for a moment, if we could take some time out for one of my sponsors, I would like to thank smoke yourself thin cigarettes. Are you looking to lose weight? No, all yours. Sorry, mate. 

Brendan: I'm not in particular, but thank you, mate, for your sponsors. I think you need to change your value set, get sponsored by someone else.

Mike: You're sponsored by beautiful charcoal drawings of Ayers Rock in the background. Can we buy that? Are they for sale?

Brendan: Speaking of wonderful holiday destinations, we did go to Ayers Rock and we thought we better spend a little bit of money on something apart from digital photography that reminds us. I love it. It's a beautiful image. I don't know who drew it, but it's fantastic.

Mike: That's really cool, man. You just tell people you did it and you can sell copies of it for your show. Why not?

Brendan: It'll become one of these, what do they call them? The transferable fund things or whatever that they're selling cars, the virtual cars at the moment. 

Mike: NFTs. 

Brendan: NFTs, sorry. 

Mike: I got a friend who's a fashion designer. He makes these jackets, they're incredible. He's got an NFT of this outfit that he has made. It's like this old country western sort of looking ‘70s retro suit. He's paid to do the proper 3D NFT of it, and he's selling I think only 10 copies of the NFT, non-fungible token, I think it's what it stands for. 

The actual suit he's putting on the market for a million dollars. Do you think some rich person in Silicon Valley has a million dollars? If you only saw my bank accounts, a little bit quiet at the moment. NFT, that's a whole podcast right now.

Brendan: It is. We will do the culture of NFTs at some point in time because I'm pretty interested to learn a bit more about it.

Mike: You should speak to my friend Sergei. He owns an NFT business and he has thousands of people in the Philippines playing this game called Axie, which is basically like an NFT video game and you get paid as you play it. He's paying people in the Philippines and spitting the money with him and he's making thousands. 

Brendan: Oh, man. We're in the wrong game, buddy. 

Mike: It's so complicated. I tried to look into it. My mate got into it, and he literally stays up all night until 7:00 in the morning. He's like, I'm getting paid every day. I go, but you're getting no sleep at night and sleeping during the day, and it doesn't sound like fun. I'd rather earn less money and have more fun. 

Brendan: Absolutely. Eventually, we will get into our topic, the culture of reality TV, but I just want to go back to the Queensland thing. I saw a couple of cool things, one in particular and TikTok, you were ringing the Premier's office and talking about stuff, is that right?

Mike: Oh, yeah. A friend of mine, Carla From Bankstown. On Instagram, @carlafrombankstown. She is Gladys Berejiklian's secretary. I'm trying to weed my way in through her to get to Gladys and be the voice of COVID. If you walk into the shopping center, hello, welcome to the Bankstown shopping center. Have you had your injection today? If not, please leave the shopping center immediately.

She was on current affairs the other day as Gladys Berejiklian's secretary. 

Brendan: Is that right?

Mike: Honestly, I didn't even know [...]. But this chick's hilarious and just reached out to him. 

Brendan: And you organized it. 

Mike: And say, hey, let's do this funny thing. He's like, yeah, let's do it.

Brendan: It was very funny, man. I got a good chuckle from that. 

Mike: Yeah, that's what Instagram's for. Just having a laugh, letting people know you're still alive, and being someone who works for themselves and works for a lot of different businesses. Promotion is such a weird problem to have when you're thinking, okay, how am I going to let people know that I'm available for voiceovers, hosting TV shows, and whatever. Ringing them up or just sending them an email. It's like, oh, my God, here's more spam and they’ve got [...]. Let's say you're doing something funny and they remember what you do and they're like, I want to work with that guy. I like him, you know what I mean?

Brendan: There is certainly one way to show your personality on overdrive, absolutely. Mate, you've been around television and all that sort of stuff for a long time. Your parents were both on TV. What were your earliest memories of being involved in the game? Because you're pretty young, from what I understand. Was it around 12 or so?

Mike: Yeah My mum and dad both worked in TV and radio. Mum was a weather girl in channel 7, now channel 10. Dad worked on a lot of radio stations all over Australia. He was the first breakfast announcer on Today FM. He worked at 2SM for like 25, 30 years or something like that. I grew up around that and the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. I was doing mobile discos from about the age of 10.

Brendan: In Club Troppo or in [...]. 

Mike: Little kid's parties, yeah. And then many years later, that was when I was working with CFM which used to be called Coast Rock FM on the Central Coast of New South Wales. The big nightclub across the road was called Club Troppo. I used to DJ there with [...], Rob and all the gang. It was a fun part of my life, that's for sure. 

Brendan: Absolutely, mate. I wasn't on the coast back then, but I've got a good mate who I run and swim with every morning. He tells me a few stories from Club Troppo. He hasn't told me any specifically about you though, but you're telling me that you don't remember too many of them anyway. 

Mike: I do. We had so much fun there and we have guest DJs every weekend whether it was Aggro, Tony [...], or Craig Mclaughlin. All these random late ‘90s celebrities or mid-90's celebrities. People off Neighbours, Home and Away, or whatever. It was good fun. 

My main thing was radio back then and it was a good way to promote your show and all that kind of thing. I've grown up around the industry and that's how I've fallen into it. From the age of 10, I was doing voiceovers and the first voiceover I did was I think for Commodore 64 computers. 

That's how old I am. That was sort of with a video guy called PJ and I was with a voice agency called RMK because my dad was already with the agency. He was doing all the ads for Norman Ross, which is now Harvey Norman. He picked me up from school and then he’d go and do his Norman Ross ads and I'd wait in the car. Sometimes I’d go in and watch him do it. He was the voice of Channel 9 back then. 

I went in and watched how he did it there and got an understanding of it, but I was also doing acting classes, auditioning for TV shows, doing a little bit of acting here and there, a couple little guest spots on Home and Away, and other things like that. Apple doesn't fall far from the tree. The entertainment industry is what I've always done.

Brendan: Absolutely. Reality TV, mate, from your perspective of being inside that game, what is it that people like me, watching reality (I don't watch a lot nowadays), what do we love? What is it that sort of grabs the interests around this sort of genre of reality TV?

Mike: Entertainment, lately people have been talking about how the ratings have gone down on the free-to-air networks. But then you have a show like The Voice coming along and all the actual figures when they put them together with all the streaming of the show like The Voice and the free-to-air numbers that they had, they're getting close to two million views on a show, and that's massive. That's like 15 years ago when there were no streaming services or anything else to watch, they were those kinds of numbers. 

If you build something that's good enough, that's entertaining enough, that gets great exposure and publicity in newspapers, magazines, online media, then that's a hit. But first and foremost, I want to say, I'm not a TV producer, and the brains of running a reality TV show is the producer. That's a different beast. 

I've been lucky enough to work with some of the greatest TV producers in Australia. And just off the top of my head, Alex Mavroidakis, who makes shows like I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here. He was the executive producer of Big Brother and Love Island. Marian Farrelly, who's also an executive producer of Big Brother at one stage and ran The Big Breakfast in the UK. 

There are so many that I've worked with that I've learned a lot from about the behind-the-scenes of how those kinds of shows work. I've been, probably to a certain extent, a producer as well. I come up with ideas—some good, some not so good—that have worked really well. It's all about the vibe and the culture in the background. Those guys are driving, as well as the heads of production and executive producers.

Brendan: You used that technical term great about some of these names you've mentioned. I don't mean from a technical perspective, what makes them great. I mean obviously, they're very, very competent at the technical side of their role, but what makes them great and great leaders to those environments for you and what you saw?

Mike: I think, turning a [...] situation into a good one, turning a negative into a positive. If something bad happened on a reality TV show, a lot of other producers who haven't worked on reality TV before would be like, oh, what are we going to do? Whose fault is this? But certain people I've worked with, they're like what are we going to do? I know, we’re going to ring the newspaper and tell them that this [...] has gone down. And the next minute the ratings are massive. Being able to turn a negative into a positive is a great way to run a TV network and TV show and make some noise.

Brendan: Big brother globally was big and is still big. Big Brother Australia was big, and it started in 2001, you were part of that starting point of the show and right through, I think till about 2014 from memory. What was it about that show that made it so successful, particularly in the early days?

Mike: I think it was so different. There was nothing like it on the planet. It came out of nowhere. It was this massive show that's just going nuts in the UK, in Holland, and we only sort of started hearing about it in Australia. Then all of a sudden, it was coming to the Gold Coast and I heard about it through some friends who worked at a TV production company in Brisbane called Cutting Edge. They said you should try it with this show.

I remember the audio engineer, his name was Angus Gibbons. He was working with some of the producers on the show, the executive producer, I think his name is Peter Abbott. He was also the voice of Big Brother at the time. I said, mate, if you put in a good word for me with this guy and give me an audition, I'll buy your Sony PlayStation 2. He's like, okay, deal. I actually had to buy this guy a Sony PlayStation 2.

Brendan: That investment served you pretty well, hasn’t it?

Mike: It absolutely did. Another guy called Michael Burton, who's one of the owners of one of the biggest production companies in Australia. He said, mate, good luck with the audition. I said, when I go into the studio, can you walk through the other side of the glass and go oh, wow, that guy sounds like an Australian version of the UK version of Big Brother, because I knew that's what they're looking for. He did that and I'm like, yeah, high five. Thanks, dude. I got the gig.

So yeah, 2001 and it was like nothing anyone I've ever seen on TV. There was so much hype about it. As soon as it hits the air and people are just being filmed walking around a house and my narration saying it's 4:00 PM in the Big Brother house, the house makes a call to the lounge room. They're being given the food that they've got for the week and told that they're going to lose money from the prize money if they do anything wrong. 

I had people messaging me going, what is this [...]? We're just watching people in a house. This is not going to rate and then it was the biggest show in Australian TV history, and 20 years later, it's a very different show now because they filmed it seven months earlier and they put music to it and all that kind of stuff. It's very, very produced, but it was like nothing on TV back then. 

I really miss the live element that it brought to the Australian TV landscape because you never knew what was going to happen, anything could happen. A bloke could walk out on stage with tape over his mouth and decide not to talk. 

Brendan: That did happen. 

Mike: The stage could catch fire and one night, lights are falling down from the roof, all sorts of crazy [...] would happen on that show, but now, it's not so much like the live sporting event that it used to be. I'm not taking anything away from how great it is because it's rating really well, and the people who work on it that I know are excellent producers. It's a very, very different show than what it used to be.

Brendan: Mike, I have to tell you just a short story about 2001, Big Brother came out, myself and my wife who were young parents at the time got engrossed in the show. I was playing a lot of football down at Wynnum at the time for Wynnum Football Club. I got a speeding ticket on my way home from training because I was racing home to watch Big Brother. Pretty sad, right?

Mike: Man, I've got speeding tickets and lost my license racing to Big brother to do a live TV show because I was going to be late and there wasn't going to be a host. It's probably the same day. 

Brendan: The interactions we've had, you sound like the sort of guy that has everything planned to the tee. You work off checklists and stuff. 

Mike: Man, I wing it. I feel like sometimes I'm better because my natural instincts come out when I'm on the spot and it looks more real. Especially nowadays, there is so much stuff for people to watch. There are so many streaming services. I get bored sitting there flicking through Netflix now thinking is this going to be any good? Is this worth my time? Because it's so predictable. 

Why didn't any of these streaming services, I mean Stan, I think, have some live sporting stuff. What about some live game shows or some live chat shows? Why is it that these streaming services got so much money? Why don't we have a Tonight Show in Australia? It's embarrassing. We get at least international celebrities coming here, but we don't have a Tonight Show. 

Brendan: It's a good point. Why isn't someone doing that? Why don't you do something like that? 

Mike: We have these international celebrities coming out and they're like, okay, let's do some promotion. They send them to the freakin project or they do a spot on the news. It's like, come on, man. We're not a little country town. Let's fork out some cash and do a Tonight Show. I'd host it. I'd love to do it. 

Brendan: Mate, you're leading me to something. Aren't you doing a game show on a streaming service?

Mike: Actually, because I host a lot of events as well, a lot of corporate events—as do a lot of other TV hosts and presenters. When COVID hit, that was gone. I started hosting a whole stack of events online, and some of those events included an online game show. It's great. 

You'll have a big company like Shell, Woolworths, or whatever with a thousand staff online. We just started playing this game show, quiz show kind of thing, and playing Wheel of Unfortunate, and all these at least crazy little gameshow mash ups. They all have a ball and they talk about the stuff that's going on in their company. It's just a good little culture team bonding thing because like you would know, culture is really important in a business. 

When you can't have those yearly events—or Domino's Pizza, I'd host a lot of their big corporate events and they get all of their bosses and staff to come along. They give away awards. Everyone got to have a drink after and talk about all the great things happening in their business, but they don't have that at the moment. To do something online where everyone's having a ball, they're winning prizes, and they have to do crazy games. Would you like to play a game with me now?

Brendan: Absolutely. I'm always up for a game.

Mike: This one's called the Head Bob. The winner of this game is the person who can move their head on and off the screen the most in 10 seconds. On your marks, get set, go. 

Brendan: You're still on the screen. 

Mike: Time is up. I've just done 12 and you did six. 

Brendan: You're still on the screen, though? 

Mike: Clearly you need a bit of practice. No, I was off here. I was just doing my head. Just my head like that. Lots of ridiculous games like that, and from hosting shows like Friday Night Games, Friday Night Live, downloading all these random sorts of game show things, and Joker Poker. I did host a Celebrity Poker Show once as well, that was bizarre. I've got a few games up my sleeve and it's good fun.

Brendan: Getting back on that topic and the games, but you're working in teams of people in a number of these shows. You're a front-facing person. You're sort of the leader for the community watching, but there's a lot of stuff happening in the background. What's worked for you? What's put you in that best frame of mind? The best game that Mike Goldman can play when he's out front facing the team supporting Mike? What does that look like, buddy?

Mike: If I'm hosting one of those online game shows, what's the best game?

Brendan: Anything that you've done. We've spoken before about you've been involved in shows that the culture is not quite where you'd like it to be. You're a part of that and things have worked for you or haven't worked for you. I just want to pick your brain about what you've seen that works for you. You've been part of many teams, what's good about that team? Why do you think that team is better? Say the Big Brother team versus some other team you've been involved in. 

Mike: It's amazing how much difference it makes for, if people are watching this and they have a business that's not a TV production company or they're making a TV show, maybe you could just picture in your head the kind of people who are still the nuts and bolts of the business but they're not up the food chain, directors or managers of staff. 

The people down below who if they're excited, they're having fun, and enjoying themselves, just tiny little things to make them have a better day, love their job, and get excited about their job. It makes such a difference to a business or a TV show overall. 

It could be something as small as like hey, it's Jimmy's birthday. Someone goes down and buys a $50 cake, everyone sings happy birthday, ate some cake, and they get back to work with a bit of a sugar rush. It can be all of a sudden some celebrity comes in and plays a random game show with them on Zoom and they think, did that just happen? That's the most ridiculous thing ever, and they'll tell their friends and family about it later on that night at the pub or whatever. 

Brendan: We're going to have 10 seconds of quiet audio on the audio release of this. Those crickets, they’re everywhere.

Mike: It's just coming up with something that's fun for everyone to enjoy every now and again. It only takes 5–10 minutes out of the day. I used to work at this TV network and it was a bit of a boring vibe in the office. There are a few people there that, let’s just say that—I don't want to be mean in case they know that I'm talking about them. They didn't really know how to enjoy themselves, so every Monday is mullet Monday. I bought 20 mullet wigs and everyone in the office had to wear mullets while they're working. They will take selfies, do their Wayne's World head banging kind of stuff, and just kooky fun stuff like that. 

Occasionally, I might come into work in a fancy dress wearing my leader housing outfit just for no reason, just for absolutely no reason, and why not? It's just a good way to have a laugh and enjoy yourself. Life's too short to be so serious. How many times in your life do you remember going, oh, I was so stressed out then, but you think back about it and you go, why was I stressed out? It was not that big a deal and we dealt with it in the end. 

People overthink things I think, especially in this day and age because there's so much [...] coming at you left, right, and center. Especially if you're on social media, your job is in the media, or whatever it is you're doing is so complicated. There's competition coming from everywhere and everyone else has got their issues. If you can just simplify things, enjoy yourself, and have a laugh along the way, that old saying, if you love your job, you never work a day in your life.

Brendan: You're an energetic guy and certain personality types. Where did that sort of not work so well? You sort of alluded to different people, different personalities in their office, but where have you found that challenging in your own work environment or work experience? 

Mike: There's a few that I’m incriminating myself with. 

Brendan: It's okay to incriminate yourself, just nobody else.

Mike: It comes from the top down. I've seen it so many times on the radio and TV. If the general manager is an asshole to the program manager, then the program manager is going to end up being a dick to the promotions manager, the promotions manager is going to be pushy and annoying with the promo team on the ground, the announcer is going to have one of the promo team doesn't call in on time and he said his program manager yell at him, and then all of a sudden it's just a bad vibe in the place. 

You feel that energy when you work in a business. But it’s definitely, and I've seen it a million times from the top down, and that's why leadership is so important. There's so much pressure on someone who's going to be the general manager or the director of an organization because they really inflict pain on people when they start carrying on. 

I'm choosing my words very carefully because I don't want to mention anyone, but I've worked with some of the biggest narcissistic, pain in the ass, bipolar freaks you could ever imagine to the point where people who work there had to go and see a shrink, myself included because of the random [...] that we had to deal with. I think when it gets to that point, you just have to remove yourself from that situation in any way, shape, or form. Remind yourself you've got great talent, you've got something to offer the world, and that person has just got a lot of [...] to deal with and you don't need to be part of it. 

There have been a few of those occasions over the years. On the TV side of things, I might have had a certain executive producer who might have been a bit drunk, might have been on with his secretary, I'm trying to host the show, and he came in and abused me 10 seconds before I was about to talk on-air telling me not to say something and I said it. I wasn't supposed to, I said it by accident because that’s all I was thinking. You put something in my head or you say it to my ear, I'm going to say it on the show. 

Brendan: Were you back the next week or gone?

Mike: Yeah, I was. Probably because I had too much dirt on that guy. 

Brendan: Just talking about that experience, I guess, narcissist, assholes, or whatever you call them and there are certain behaviors attached to that. Did you see evidence of those poor behaviors, not only flowing through the team but flowing through to the ratings? Whatever performance was happening but then people copy it [...]? Did you ever see that and the impact it had?

Mike: Absolutely. You can see it with the Breakfast Show. Two of the people on the Breakfast Show go along really well, and there's one other person who's got a problem with everything, then it's not going to work, you know what I mean? Everyone knows it in the station and everyone will be talking about, oh God, when are we going to get rid of that person? It's not a good vibe. With TV shows as well, everyone's not excited and there’s not good energy around the show, then what do you do? Hold on a minute. 

Oh, hello. She's trying not to be seen, my wife. My wife showed up with a burger. Isn't she lovely?

Brendan: Was it Bianca? 

Mike: Come in. 

Brendan: Bianca, come in. Say good day. 

Mike: Look what she's made me. She's made me a burger. 

Brendan: Oh my goodness, gracious meat. Lovely to meet you, Bianca.

Mike: Bianca has got her own show. Do you think it'd be a cooking show? That burger looks amazing.

Brendan: That looks fantastic. 

Mike: Really good. She's got her own show on Tiktok called Katrina the real wog wife of Brisbane. Katrina, would you like to say something? No, she wouldn't. She's going to be doing a stage show very soon.

Brendan: She’s not prepared. 

Mike: Thanks for my burger. Oh my God. That's amazing.

Brendan: Your wife is in the entertainment industry as well? 

Mike: Yeah, she's an actor, TV presenter, and comedian. Katrina though, she's half Greek in her character.

Brendan: I can see that in TikTok and Instagram, mate. 

Mike: It's mainly her going, my husband, he's so stupid. It's just basically [...] that happens to me every day that she just talks about me and how bad I am.

Brendan: You're a bit of a team, right? There's some pretty healthy banter and a good dynamic there I think from what I've seen through social media.

Mike: Yeah. I've never been with someone who works in the entertainment industry before as an actor, TV host, presenter, voiceover person like me, and it's funny how well it works because we both understand each other. If we're going to an event or we're talking to people who are in the industry, we're sharing information, learning stuff about what's going on in the industry, and helping brainstorm different ideas, and helping each other when you have the ups and downs because it’s a really tough industry to be in.

Sometimes you're flat out and sometimes it's really quiet and you think am I doing the right thing? Should I be doing another job? Someone else said to give you that moral support to say, yep, go and get a job as a checkout chick at Kohl’s.

Be the person that says the next thing’s coming, just keep soldiering on, keep doing your funny stuff online. Keep calling your agent, calling your old clients. In my line of work, it's great to have someone as my wing girl that's always pumping me up and saying, hey, that was really good. That was really bad. That's not good for your brand. Maybe I wouldn't be doing those nude shots online or whatever it is. 

Brendan: It's destructive for you, mate. Have you been able to set a new date for the wedding?

Mike: We're supposed to get married in Greece last year. We saved up for years to do that and then obviously COVID hit. We were going to be moving to the States after that as well because Bianca had her green card and I was going to get mine because we're married and had a few job opportunities over there. Until COVID hit, and obviously we couldn’t get married in Greece so we stayed here and planned to get married a couple of months ago, but the border's shut and I've got friends and family in New South Wales who couldn't make it so let's postpone it again. 

Brendan: [...].

Mike: What do you do? What do you do? We'll just wait until the next Delta strain comes. How many strains were going to have? 

Brendan: I've got no idea, mate, but I think we just need to learn to live with it, as they say.

Mike: Vaccine, passports. you've all had the vaccine for the Delta strain. Oh, there's a nice section on the passport here for the next strain, and then on the next strain. Everyone's [...].

Brendan: I thought about asking you today actually, as part of the start of the interview whether I should ask you if you've been double vaxxed, and if you're not maybe I shouldn't interview.

Mike: I had the AstraZeneca and I think it’s 21 days between shots for AstraZeneca?

Brendan: It keeps changing. Mine was six weeks, but my wife and son were four weeks.

Mike: What one did you get? 

Brendan: AZ as well. 

Mike: Six weeks, is it? 

Brendan: It was when I got it initially. 

Mike: I'm about due for my second one now.

Brendan: Yeah, okay. Fair enough. 

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Brendan: Mate, I want to take us back to Big Brother, is that all right?

Mike: Take us back. Yeah, why not? I'm going to have a bite of my burger while you ask this question. 

Brendan: Feel free to do that, mate. It'd be a shame for that to go to waste. You're such a Big Brother fanatic and have been involved in the Big Brother Australia show. I put together a few trivial pursuit questions based on Big Brother. Are you up for it? 

Mike: Yeah, absolutely. 

Brendan: All right. This first one's not Big Brother related, but it's reality TV. What was the first reality TV show ever?

Mike: The first reality TV show ever, Sylvania Waters maybe? I don't know. 

Brendan: It was Candid Camera. 

Mike: Oh, Candid Camera because it's people with hidden cameras. Yes, of course. Smile, you're on Candid Camera. That was a great show.

Brendan: I loved it as well. Wasn't it good? 

Mike: Who was the host? 

Brendan: Mate, I didn't go that far. 

Mike: I don't remember. That would have been good if you knew that. 

Brendan: We'll put it in the show notes for everyone.

Mike: The show notes happening.

Brendan: I'm sure you know this one because you actually mentioned it a little bit earlier. Big Brother was readapted from a show from which country?

Mike: Yeah, Holland. 

Brendan: Yeah. Gold star.

Mike: Endemol is the name of the company. John de Mol created the series. 

Brendan: Mate, you get a few more points for that. Well done. 

Mike: I should have known that. 

Brendan: I've got a few more, but I'll ask this one now because I want to ask you a question off the back of it. It's true or false. Big Brother has produced more successful relationships than The Bachelor.

Mike: It's probably true, actually. 

Brendan: It is true. Several Big Brother contestants—I didn't bother going and writing out a list—have got married off the back of their involvement in the Big Brother series. 

Mike: Is that worldwide or just Australia?

Brendan: This is worldwide, sorry.

Mike: Yeah, right Wow. Okay. That's cool. I didn't know that.

Brendan: Let's talk about relationships, mate, seeing as Big Brother's such a fantastic matchmaker. What are the relationships that you saw in your time that you thought—and I don't mean that it needs to be sexual relations—like a friendship that built in and what was sort of underpinning some of that? Because there have been some pretty good ones, I think, over the time.

Mike: Yeah, absolutely. We've had marriage proposals on the show. It was actually the same-sex marriage proposal on the show. I think that was a great thing for people to have that way inclined to us to see someone like them on the TV, and go, yeah, well, that means a lot to me. Now I know that I'm not alone. That's exactly what I'm going through. 

I think it's not just whether you're straight or gay in a relationship to see someone on screen and what they're dealing with them. It could be someone dealing with some other family problem or a work problem and someone as a housemate on a show or a reality TV contestant talks about it and brings their problems to the screen. You see that a lot on SAS and people go, yeah, wow, that guy's got some problems. I thought I had problems. 

It's like the opposite of Instagram. Look at this person's life. How do they have such a good life? [...] their life is actually quite [...] and I feel good about that. On the relationship side of things, there have been people on the show who have fallen in love and they're still together. I think that's lovely. It's a nice thing to see evolve on screen as well.

Brendan: I'm going to ask you about a bromance, but I'm going to ask you another Big Brother trivial pursuit question, which will lead into it. You're ready for it?

Mike: Yeah, sure.

Brendan: Who was the runner-up in Big Brother Australia 2001, the original series in Australia?

Mike: Sara-Marie.

Brendan: No.

Mike: 2001?

Brendan: 2001.

Mike: Yeah. Who was that? Ben one in 2001? 

Brendan: No one ever remembers the second place getter.

Mike: Oh, no, no, no. It’s Blair. It’s Blair. Sorry. Blair.

Brendan: Yes.

Mike: Blair McDonough. Yeah. Well, I just remember Sara-Marie because she's by far the most popular.

Brendan: Hold on, which Big Brother contestant was famous for the Bum Dance?

Mike: Yeah, Sara-Marie. Blair McDonough is an actor now and he pops on TV series all the time.

Brendan: There's been a number of people off the back of Big Brother Australia. I'm not sure about international. I'm sure it's the same, but have gone on and people have spotted them through the Big Brother series and done their own thing, isn't it? I think you had a bit of a relationship with Fitzy or he's a mate of yours, isn't he?

Mike: I have Fitzy for years [...].

Brendan: Done some radio together?

Mike: Yeah. Well, he was my co-host on Friday Night Live, Friday Night Games, Download, and hosted a lot of random events around Australia over the years that Big Brother happened. Then he went to Adelaide to work on radio and just worked his way up the food chain to be the number one radio DJ in Sydney with Wippa. I think to myself, man, I should have [...] with Fitzy. Let's do a radio show together. He'd been earning millions now—millions. He's done very well.

Brendan: What makes a fantastic contestant for Big Brother?

Mike: Well, I could tell you what the producers have told me. Marion Farrelly told me this story once. When they're doing the auditions for certain reality shows, they would get all the people who are auditioning them to score the contestant from 1 to 10. Number 1 means you can't stand them and 10 means that you think they are amazing. They wouldn't put the contestants in who all got 10. They would put the contestants in who half of them got 10 and the other half of judges rated them 1 because if you and I are at the watercooler and we both go, we love that contestant, aren't they great? The conversation can only go that far.

But if you go, I can't stand that person. I love the person. Why? No, they're great because of this. No, they’re an [...] because of that. It's so much more of an interesting conversation. You don't want everyone to get along and then be having a great time. Married at First Sight is a perfect example of that. That show is torture. None of those people are meant to be together. The people who make it should be ashamed of themselves, but it's great TV.

Brendan: You talked about (I guess) the 1s versus the 10s. What are the character traits of the ones closest to 1 that the producers are looking for?

Mike: I mean, it can be lots of things. The 1 can just be a complete [...] like Bree Amer. She was my co-host on Friday Night Live. Her audition tape made her out to be a [...]. Then when she was in the house, she's like everyone's best friend. It's like she faked it to get in there. They would look for someone to be a bit bitchy, a bit conniving, a bit sneaky. Someone who's very opinionated, very loud, very annoying, very over the top, and asks annoying questions that don't leave people alone. Then there's the other end of the scale as someone just might be a great guy or great girl, really easy to talk to, selfless, empathetic, entertaining, and tell us a good yarn.

Those two together can make the situation a million different things, and you never know until those people go into the room together and see what they're like. If you're watching a reality show and someone gets voted off who was like the alpha male or the alpha female of the house. Everyone loves them, they’re bound to win, and then all of a sudden they’re gone. Someone else steps up, personalities change. People all of a sudden get a little bit louder. 

That could be the culture of a workplace as well. If all of a sudden that guy's the big mouth cracking all the jokes and everyone’s a little bit quiet when he's around. If all of a sudden that person's gone, then other people can be themselves a little bit more and it could be a better atmosphere in a workplace.

Brendan: Was that Angela’s role?

Mike: Angela. Oh, Angela, the lipgloss girl.

Brendan: Lip gloss. And again, you featured her on one of the Big Bro shows a little while ago, as well, I think.

Mike: She was over the top, very loud, and very, very opinionated. Someone who couldn't really be swayed a lot of the time. She had her idea in her head on what she wanted to do and how she wanted to handle things.

Brendan: Tea was at the center of that too wasn't it?

Mike: Tea, yes, because what happens on Big Brother—watch it then they say you have to get the tasks right, then you get this amount of money, and then you get the shopping budget. I think someone didn't buy tea and she was pissed off because all she wants is tea. She was crying about the fact that she didn't get her tea.

Brendan: From that, the interesting thing for me, and again I didn't watch that series. We really only watched the 2001 series, but going back to a point you made before the drawing and actually just hearing bits or even reading stuff, she was voted out at some point, Angela. Then she was put into a room—I don't know if this happened with Big Brother or generally in other series, but she was put in the room and brought back. To me, it felt like she was too good from an audience view to be evicted out, so they came up with a way to put it back in.

Mike: The producers always do that. If it's Big Brother or any reality show, they've all chosen this person to go in to do a certain thing in the house. If they sit there and they don't talk to anyone, they don't engage in anyone, they're like, oh God, how can we get this person out? Then all of a sudden, if the person who is a pain in the ass, gets on everyone's nerves, but is so funny and entertaining for everyone else to watch, these people will be annoyed by that person. 

Then the producers obviously go well, this is a person that gets the free pass. This is our person that goes to the secret room because it was a fake eviction, which pisses off a lot of other people who are on the show as well because they’re like, I thought I was going to win. It's the entertainment of it. You're watching people who thought that they had made it. All of a sudden, it's like no, the rug’s pulled out from under your feet. Sorry, guys.

Brendan: Changes dynamics completely again, doesn't it? As you alluded to before.

Mike: Definitely.

Brendan: What's the weirdest thing you ever saw in your time at Big Brother?

Mike: The weirdest thing? I mean, Merlin was pretty weird.

Brendan: Not what you did. Somebody else might have done it.

Mike: That guy Merlin when he came out with a tape over his mouth and saying free the refugees. That was weird. Obviously, the stage catching fire. That was bizarre.

Brendan: When was that?

Mike: 2007, I think. People running onto the stage and hijacking the show. We had to put this barbed wire fence around the stage in case people ran over the stage and put a row of security there every show so no one would run into the stage because it's a live show. I secretly would love it if someone ran on the stage at a live show. I was doing crowd work for a lot of those shows.

And also, speaking to the people in the audience when Gretel or Sonia Kruger would cross to me. It's just like that chaos that people are sitting at home in their lounge room going, holy [...], what's happening here? What are we going to watch? Who's going to get voted out? What are they going to say? Are they going to be pissed off? Someone's going to run onto the stage. The live element is something like, I can't say that enough, I miss it so much from reality TV. There needs to be more of it.

Brendan: What is it about it that you miss so much?

Mike: Just the fact that you never know what's going to happen. The TV producers are sweating because they’re thinking, is this going to get us in trouble with the law? Is someone going to get hurt? It's all about risk. Are we going to piss off the sponsors? With the cancel culture that's going on in the world right now, you only need one person to say the wrong thing and then you can lose millions of dollars worth of advertising. 

I think a show like Big Brother in its old format would work well if it was just its own thing online. People pay $10 a week and they can log in and watch these people anytime they want and get a daily or hourly news update.

Brendan: It's a great point, not something I've ever thought about. Are you alluding to the fact that maybe some of the reduction or the reality TV and live TV scenarios are reducing because of some of these societal factors that are out there and the risk involved for stations?

Mike: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it's all about risk for them. Especially when you've got teams of hundreds of salespeople going out there talking to clients every day and the clients about to spend a million dollars in advertising. Then all of a sudden, they go on, I like what that housemate said about Chinese people. I can't advertise. Sorry, mate. They go with another network, and people could be that fickle.

Brendan: Yeah. It is a bit of a worry, isn't it?

Mike: That’s why safe shows like The Voice, it's like singing and it's happy. People are having a good time. It's easy to get sponsors involved with that because no one's going to do anything or say anything untoward. It's a very, very structured format. It's all about the singing and the talent. 

Brendan: People love drama, but they also love as much (if not more of) those uplifting shows instead of voiceover and stuff.

Mike: Totally. I think that's why The Voice did so well as well. There are so many horrible things going on in the world right now with COVID, Afghanistan, China getting angry at us and stopping our exports, who are in lockdown and who's not, and people protesting. People want to escape. They want to release. They want to hear a good story. They want to have a laugh. They want to enjoy themselves. 

They don't want to go from being stressed out about what's going on in the world to watching someone who's stressed out about a relationship that's supposed to work that was clearly never going to work. It's just for everyone's entertainment. I think if I was in charge, I'd be making more fun and entertaining shows more like Holey Moley. That's a great show, with Rob Riggle.

Brendan: Where you're doing your bit, that's the beauty of this platform. We can create our own platform, and you've got a following. You've created platforms. You've got a platform, so you can do things yourself now. You don't need the big budgets that go with the TV stuff.

Mike: Yeah. Obviously having a network of people there to help you, you've got the producer that helps you with this show, having a team of people in PR, a team of people in sales that can sell a show. Having money behind you to spend on billboards in every part of Australia to promote a show, buses, and getting the publicity people to call radio stations and newspapers. Get on the right stories about a show and build the hype. I mean, it's like the old saying—

Brendan: Did you see our billboard in Queen Street that we put up?

Mike: No, did you put a billboard up? I'll tell you what, though. It's all about promotion. You can be the best guitarist in the world, but if you're just playing to yourself in your garage, no one's going to know about it. You got to do PR. You got to do promo. You got to build a network of people who are fans and love your stuff. They got to share it, promote it, and reward them.

Brendan: You mentioned something earlier, and it's bringing my mind back to it now—relationships in your own journey. How important have the relationships you've developed in your networks helped you through the process of this pretty good career that you've had and still having?

Mike: I think a lot of the time, there's probably been people more talented than me who have auditioned for jobs. I've got the job because they've known me or worked with me before and they know that I wasn't a pain in the ass. A rule that I like to have in businesses now is [...]. I know a lot of people have that as well. You might be the best voiceover guy in the world, but if you come in and start being demanding, wanting to change the script, and not being happy with the way things are going, then no one wants to work with you.

If you’re understanding and will stay there an extra couple of hours after you were booked, be on standby because they're still trying to cut together a show, and you help people out go that extra mile—Kerry Packer thing. He would always say, you take people's advertising dollars for a certain amount of spots, but then you give them something else and you overdeliver. You've got to go the extra mile to hold on to those clients and look after people. Yeah, just buying random gifts as well when you go in and work with a client is something that's always helped.

Little marketing ideas that I had posted notes with my face on it at one stage. I had mobile phone chargers that I'd give to people with my website address on it. I can't remember what I wrote there. The Post-it notes were my face and it said, voice, face, brain for hire, and my mobile number. That went out to—

Brendan: You still got some Post-it notes?

Mike: No, I haven’t got any.

Brendan: That is a cool idea.

Mike: Actually, the mobile phone charger says, Mike charges a lot but he's so worth it.

Brendan: I'm glad we haven't had to pay you a speaking fee today.

Mike: What? Didn’t my agent call you?

Brendan: No, no. I haven't taken any calls.

Mike: Damn it. What?

Brendan: This is a sort of chat [...], isn’t it? We connected through LinkedIn and had a bit of a chat. You were really open to coming on and just sharing your story, which I so appreciate. I know people listening will appreciate it as well.

Mike: No worries, man.

Brendan: I just want to say thank you for that, buddy.

Mike: It's been great to be on your show.

Brendan: You mentioned Sonia Kruger before. I don't know Sonia personally, but I really like her as a TV personality. You guys seem to have a pretty good relationship. What is it that works with yourself and Sonia? In a commercial professional relationship, I mean.

Mike: Sonia Kruger? Friends?

Brendan: Not friends?

Mike: No, no. I love Sonia. Sonia is a consummate professional. She's by far the coolest TV host that I have ever worked with. She's a great friend. The kind of girl that, let's have a drink after the show. Yeah, cool. And talk about what was great, what worked, and what didn't. I think that's why Channel 7 had gone all-in on Sonia Kruger and got her hosting The Voice, Big Brother, Dancing With the Stars, or whatever other shows that they're doing. She's just got a great vibe about her. She's a workhorse. She'll always nail it and just has a great time with everyone and always having a good laugh, whether it's with the makeup girls or it's the directors and producers. 

She’s throwing great ideas around. I remember the last series of The Voice, I was watching it and Sonia is interviewing one of the friends and family of one of the performers. She asked this brother or sister of this contestant and said, do you sing? This girl said, yeah, I do. Why don't you do an audition? We’ll just surprise everyone. I'll get one of the producers just a minute and they put it in the show. It's her producer brain coming up with these great ideas like that that I think people love about her to work with her as well. Sonia is one of the coolest people I've ever worked with. I’m very lucky to have a friendship with her.

Brendan: Should I ask this question? I'm not sure you’ll tell me, but when you guys—I’ve seen you guys together just on a normal television viewer. When have you hosted with someone when it's been (I guess) not the best relationship. I don't mean toxic, but maybe the dynamic has not been as solid, and why not?

Mike: I remember I filled in on radio once over—I won't say where—but there was this girl who I had to fill in as the host. The co-host, she’s only been on radio for a couple of years. She's very restructured and she'd written out everything that she's going to say. Along came someone who's been in radio and TV my whole life. I would know, okay, we're going to come out of the song, we're going to talk about this, then we're going to say this is coming up, and we're going to get to go to the next song. She goes, but what are you going to say here and what are you going to say there? I'm like, I’m not going to tell you that. I want to get your actual reaction.

This girl actually had a panic attack and I had to call an ambulance because she didn't know what I was going to say. She was freaking out so much, the poor thing. Not cut out for the industry. That's just a good example of some people who are very structured and know exactly what they're going to say every single time of the day. That's not me. I've worked with a lot of great radio talents or TV talents who we know what we're going to do on stage, but we don't tell each other our jokes. Keep our jokes secret. I'm going to say something here, but I can't tell you what it is. You say something and [laughs]. It’s get their real reaction rather than going [fake laughs] and it's just a fake laugh.

Brendan: Well, I can testify to your lack of structure because you didn't tell me—you wouldn't fill in. You didn’t fill in my guest form so I filled it in because I thought, well, I just have to have a chat with Mike because—

Mike: Otherwise you’re probably thinking, I’ll write that stuff out in point form, but otherwise...

Brendan: I was adapting to you.

Mike: Otherwise, you think about okay, what's coming up? What are we going to get to? Rather than listening to my answers and going, oh, there’s a good question in that and sort of following up on. There have been a lot of great interviewers over the years like Ray Martin is a perfect example. He probably only had five questions for the whole interview. Every single question would lead to another question because they'd say something that would be open-ended.

If you're worried about your other questions coming up or what you're going to be doing, you might miss something. The viewer would go, He just said that he lived in another state. What state was that? Why didn't he ask what that state was? He’s so worried about his next question. It's good to have something that's a bit more organic, a little bit more free form. It's real because I keep saying, you don't get enough of that in the world today.

Brendan: Yeah, mate. You're so right, mate. You're so right. I'm with you. I didn't even bother sending you the draft run sheet a week before. I think I've sent it to you about half an hour before just in case you wanted to look at it because I didn't think I'd waste my time.

Mike: Have we missed anything? No.

Brendan: Mate, we have gone absolutely off script the whole episode.

Mike: Do you think your regular followers will go, oh, this wasn't what I subscribed to? He hasn’t asked him what kind of trousers he wears.

Brendan: It doesn't really matter to me because I always put my takeaways at the end of every episode. I always try and put my lens on some things that you've said around culture, leadership, and teamwork and you've said that, so I can pick the eyes out. I’ll just enjoy the conversation.

Mike: Me too.

Brendan: I do want to ask you, though, if we've got a little bit more time just around. We touched on this whole society and cancel culture and stuff like that. What do you think are the negatives, the cons out there around reality TV from a societal perspective? Deep question.

Mike: I know what you're getting at. The cancer culture thing, I think, is losing speed. I don't think it's such a big thing as it used to be. I think people are taking less notice of it. I think a lot of TV presenters, radio announcers, and people in the media just see it as water off a duck's back. It's just someone who doesn't like you, anyway. It's trying to make things bad for you, and turning it around, and using it as good publicity. If you do something wrong, just say I'm sorry and move on. I don't think that people can cancel you and your careers over from then forward.

I've done and said a lot of things that I regret on TV and radio over the years. Nothing super bad, but if I did say something to offend someone and upset them, I humbly apologize. Cool, next. Can I keep doing my job now? I think the whole Me Too thing was a real centerpiece for cancel culture as well. Unfortunately, a lot of people have used it improperly. It's really taken the wind out of the sails of people who actually do want to stand up, that did have something bad happen to them. It's also when someone does something really bad.

Cancel culture is to cancel someone for having a bumper sticker on their car and how it made them lose their job or something so minute. When someone actually does something bad, it steals the thunder of the publicity that they should get around that. If you want to cancel someone, cancel bloody Joe Biden for bombing a family in Afghanistan in a car when they were picking up water to take it to a school. That's something you should be canceling, not just someone because on their YouTube channel they said a joke that you didn't agree with.

It's killing comedy in a lot of ways as well because especially in the big TV networks and radio networks. They’re so worried about what you're going to say and if you might have been someone. That's why people who don't mind offending people a little bit. One guy comes to mind, Isaac Butterfield, calls himself the Buttsmarn. Have you heard of him?

Brendan: I heard of him, but I haven't watched any of his stuff. 

Mike: He picks on vegans. He picks on cyclists. He has [...] bumper stickers that say [...] cyclists. He sells thousands of them. People go yeah, I hate cyclists too. Yeah, bloody vegans, shut up. It's people just sticking with their own kind and having a good laugh. Sometimes, they're picking on the people that they get annoyed with who were trying to cancel them. Now it's like, yeah, you can't cancel me. I've got 5 million followers on YouTube. I don't give a [...] what you say. Thank you, see you.

Brendan: It's strange our world, mate. How about. I ask you this question? If Mike Goldberg was the Prime Minister of Australia, what's the big issue that you want to solve?

Mike: God. That's a tough question. The big issue I would solve is to change the whole government. Get rid of this Westminster system that we've had since the 1700s that was invented in I think, the 1500s or probably earlier. That just doesn't make sense. Two political parties that are getting funded by organizations to push their agenda and then trying to butter up the country by saying all these great things they're going to do for us when really they have all these other hidden agendas.

If I was Prime Minister, this is what I would do. I would cancel lobbyists, people who are working for big pharmaceutical companies, big oil companies, mining companies. They're paying millions of dollars to Liberal and Labor, the Nationals, whoever. Of course, those politicians are going to push those people's agenda because it helps them get the money so they can advertise and push themselves as a personality that people want because it's a personality competition. Push themselves to be the prime minister, the local member, or whatever it is. We need to cancel that.

I would give every single person in Australia $100 and you can give that $100 to whatever person you want to run—your local member or whatever it is. That's all they're allowed to use for their promotional campaign, not the millions of dollars to push other agendas. Is that a ridiculous answer?

Brendan: No, mate. You recreated some other ideas. I'm just starting to think that Mike Goldman is hosting the Australian Parliament reality TV show. Would people watch that?

Mike: I don't know what will be worse, Big Brother Up Late or the Australian Parliament. Whenever Scott Morrison gets up to speak again, okay, [...] goes up to talk right now. Let's play, let's shuffle. Can you rearrange these letters to make a word and win a prize? Oh, wait, [...] sat down. Let's go back down and see what Pauline Hanson is saying.

Brendan: If it ever came about, I'm sure you would make it super fun. It might get a bit more engagement back in the community around politics, decisions, and people being there for the right reasons, who knows?

Mike: Yeah, the amount of times that they'd show it on the ABC and especially the Senate. There's like one person getting up, talking, and screaming across the other side of the Parliament. There's no one sitting in there. Where are the [...] these people? Aren’t they supposed to be there when they're having a debate? It’s supposed to be both sides of the party. This is like one person getting up to talk on the ABC and to the—what do you call it—Mr. [...]?

Brendan: Hold on. Is that what acting classes look like though?

Mike: Pretty much. It’s the same thing.

Brendan: I know I need to be respectful of your time. You got a few things. Actually, tell us a bit about what you've got happening at the moment. There are a few projects in the pipeline.

Mike: I got this burger that I want to eat. That's all. I have to heat it up. It's gone cold.

Brendan: I'm sure it'll taste as good after microwaving.

Mike: Yes, the Sanctuary Film Festival, sanctuaryfilmfestival.com. I've had it for about seven years. Some great documentaries which I'm a part of as well, which will be showing there. I can't give it any awards because I’m making them. We've got 500 films this year entered from all over the world, and just the judges are going through that at the moment. Some of the best directors, producers, and TV people were looking at those films right now. That will be happening in November, so I'm working on that.

I'm hosting a lot of online events, fundraisers for the Charlie Teo Foundation, fundraisers for the Shepherd Centre. Loud Shirt Day is coming up very soon as well to raise money for kids who are deaf, kids who are learning to hear and speak. I’m also hosting the online game shows, which we had the promo you saw a little earlier. That's a lot of fun for building a great culture in an office or a business that you might have. Hire me. I'll come and host the game show for you.

Brendan: You've got a big heart or you seem to have a big heart. Through the research and a fair bit of stuff with charity, I don't know if you're getting appearance fees or whatever, but you're still putting your time across to those sorts of things. What does it really make your connection? 

Mike: Charities hit me up every week, and I always push them on Instagram or share something if they want. The main charities I work for are the RSPCA, Animal Welfare League, the Shepherd Centre, the deaf kids, and Charlie Teo Foundation. He's a brain surgeon. I work with all of them for free. I host their events. I help them come up with ideas for promotion and get products that they might want to auction off of those events that I host. 

I do those things because I feel like my whole thing in life is to give people an escape, to help them get away with the stress that they're dealing with in their life. If they're watching a show I'm hosting, radio show, TV show, or whatever it might be. Something random and ridiculous I'm doing on my Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or whatever. But also, it fits in with helping people who are less fortunate. Kids with cats are terrible.

Also, working for different hospitals. The Children's Hospital Sydney, I’m hosting some online events for them. They've done some great things for me and my family as well. They helped my little sister when she was born prematurely and my little nephew who’s born with cystic fibrosis. They do some great work. It's seeing that kind of work, being a part of helping these charities, and actually seeing the money used for something good to save lives and help people's lives.

You can't buy that feeling that it gives you. I highly recommend it to anyone out there if you get an hour out of your day to help the homeless organization like Rosie's that I've done a bit of work for in the past here in Brisbane. Just do it because it makes the world a better place. 

Brendan: Yeah, well done. Well said. I second that definitely. Let's start to wrap this up. You are a leader in your field. You can't not be spending that amount of time in this space that you're in—reality TV, the entertainment industry. What's this one thing that has had the greatest impact on your own journey?

Mike: Well, we talked about it earlier. My parents, obviously, being there to support me and let me do exactly what I want to do and follow in their footsteps, so to speak. Over the years, the one thing that has had an impact on my journey is relationships because if you get along with people, you become friends with people you work with, it makes your life so much easier. Enjoying working with people because they’re friends, it makes it fun.

If you’re enjoying your job you never work a day in your life. People always look out for you. They'll always pick up the phone and talk to you. Don't sweat the small stuff, enjoy yourself, and build relationships with those people. Go out of your way for them and understand where they're coming from rather than being so one-sided.

I would say it’s any one particular thing. I guess if you wanted to narrow it down to one thing, I just say giving back in some way, shape, or form. Whether it's through empathy, entertainment, cracking jokes, or buying someone a birthday card on their birthday, and putting a smile on their day. It's the little things that make the difference.

Brendan: Absolutely, mate. Well, you've certainly done that for me today. I'm sure our listeners and watchers, you would have put a smile on their face as well, mate. I want to say a massive thank you to you. I really appreciate you and the time you've given to our show today. It's been fun. You're a fun dude, a great guy to have around. Absolutely would be fantastic in so many workplaces, mate, bring a bit of fun back to leadership and a bit of a true authentic self. A bit of humor solves a lot of stuff. Don't take yourself so seriously. Thank you again, Mike. I appreciate your time. Thanks for being a guest on The Culture of Things Podcast.

Mike: I love The Culture of Things Podcast. Thank you for having me. Good on you, Brandy.

Brendan: Pleasure, buddy.

Mike: Bye.

Brendan: How many of you are going to introduce Mullet Monday? How about doing a head-bobbing competition during your next online meeting? You could have your partner serve you a freshly cooked burger during your live stream podcast interview or during your next online business meeting. A couple of these we experienced during the interview with Mike, and it made for fun and memorable moments. Mike's all about bringing joy to people and I think he does a fantastic job of it.

Over the years, he's done that for so many Australian households through his involvement in the entertainment industry and particularly reality TV. When I reflect on the interview, it immediately brings back happiness, and I feel a certain energy. Every team needs people like Mike. They push the boundaries, have a laugh, and make people feel good about themselves. These attributes create strong connections with people, which leads to long-lasting friendships. 

These are my three key takeaways from my conversation with Mike. My first key takeaway: Leaders have fun. As Mike said, life's too short to be so serious. Leaders face pressure every day. How they handle it can make a big difference to their perceived level of approachability. Knowing when to lighten up, when to enjoy yourself, and when to have a laugh are key skills leaders have to develop. Leaders can build a stronger connection with people by having fun.

My second key takeaway: Culture starts at the top. Whether it's a CEO of a business or the producer of a reality TV show, the leader at the top sets the standard of what behaviors are accepted. The leader’s behaviors flow to the people they lead and so forth and so forth. If the culture is crap, this will ultimately lead to suboptimal customer service, which in the case of reality TV is a sub-optimal viewer experience. Getting the culture right always starts at the top.

My third key takeaway: Success is a team effort. Nobody ever makes it on their own. Whether it's a friend helping you get an interview or an audition for a TV role, the people you have relationships with help you along the way. They are part of your team. That team effort helps you succeed.

In summary, my three key takeaways were leaders have fun, culture starts at the top, and success is a team effort.

If you want to talk about culture, leadership, or teamwork, or have any questions or feedback about the episode, you can leave me a comment on the socials or you can leave me a voice message at thecultureofthings.com. Thanks for joining me, and remember, the best outcome is on the other side of a genuine conversation!

 

Outtro (music): Thank you for listening to The Culture of Things podcast with Brendan Rogers. Please visit brendanrogers.com.au to access the show notes. If you love The Culture of Things podcast, please subscribe, rate and give a review on Apple podcasts and remember a healthy culture is your competitive advantage.