Courtney Brandt is a food blogger (A to Za’atar) and writer, so naturally when she went to pitch a podcast idea to Amaeya Media founder and CEO Chirag Desai back in 2018, the topic was food. It was on a whim that she mentioned CSR of One, and now the podcast about individuals who launch their own social and charitable initiatives is in its third season.
Each episode features people making strides outside their chosen careers on behalf of others. Recent guests: Frying Pan Adventures founder Farida Ahmed, speaking about her Stay-home Gift-a-Meal initiative, which helped get wholesome meals from local restaurants to neighbors who lost their income during the Covid-19 crisis; Jennifer Sault from Thrift for Good and Heather Harries, who with her family launched Stop and Help, which has grown to 50 volunteers and matched 3,000 families in need across the Emirates with people who can provide them with support.
If you could rename your show to anything else, what would you choose for your podcast?
Honestly, I’m really happy with the name, but we did talk about using ‘Enough About Me’ for the title. Unfortunately, it was already taken by another podcast! Instead, we try and use the phrase in our hashtags whenever we post about the show.
Author. Food writer. Content creator.
What do you love most about podcasts?
For the most part, I love that I can listen to something while walking the dog and feel instantly smarter, entertained, or inspired. There are so many stories out there, and I honestly believe that podcasts are the best way to tell them.
Which three words best describe your host personality?
Inquisitive. Patient. Optimistic.
Is your podcast host personality different in any way from your real life?
I’m probably much more patient with my guests than I am in real life. Honestly, I’m so inspired by everyone we speak to on CSR of One. I could talk to them all day about what they’ve accomplished. I really do get a charge from speaking to our guests.
What’s your current favorite podcast?
I’m loving both How Did This Get Made and Fake Doctors, Real Friends. During our current Covid times, I only feel like listening to happy, humorous or upbeat episodes. So, I’ve been a bit one-track and not as open-minded as I probably should be. I need a bit of escapism and both of these shows are reliable podcasts for humour.
What would your #1 advice be for someone who is looking to start a podcast?
Plan beyond the first season. Understand that going the distance with a set formula is going to be what pays off.
If you could have dinner with one person right now, who would it be?
I’d love to sit down with my parents; my Dad’s birthday is coming up this month and it’s a big one. I’d love to take him to some of my favorite restaurants in Dubai.
What’s your most memorable facepalm moment?
I’m 40 – there are honestly too many to count!
What gets you out of bed each morning?
I’m motivated by my creativity. At the moment, I’m trying to finish my new manuscript, and it’s fun to get to know the characters in this rough draft. More realistically, I’m up every morning to walk our new dog.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Ignoring the world and getting into a good book is among my favourite guilty pleasures.
What is the first place you would travel to once the restrictions are lifted? Why?
Home to the United States, but I think it’s going to be a very long time until it’s safe to go and visit my family (and easily return to the UAE). I’m thinking of a ‘redo’ for my 40 (and half) birthday in September and would love to go somewhere tropical, but let’s see what happens. I try to remind myself that I’m healthy and my family is healthy, and we are safe here in Dubai.
What’s your video meeting attire?
Jeans and a T-shirt (I need to feel ‘smart casual’).
What are you currently binge-watching on Netflix?
Snowpiercer, but I want to start watching The Babysitters Club (I was a big fan of the series when I was younger).
If you were to write a book about your life, what would its title be?
Fish Out of Water (an allusion to being a Pisces and living in the Middle East for so long).
• This interview originally ran on Amaeya Media, the UAE’s largest podcast network.