Originally from the States, Naima Brown has had a long and illustrious career as a TV producer and journalist. This incredible woman is now the Founder and Director of The Institute of Interesting Ideas a concept centred around illuminating stories from fascinating people.
As part of this, Naima is bringing a series of speakers to the South Coast of NSW (more on that in a minute!) which includes some very famous Australian faces all of whom have amazing stories, insights and ideas.
Intrigued!? … I was! … here’s 5 minutes with…Naima Brown:
Confessions: Give us an overview of ‘Naima Brown’
Naima: I’ve spent the last decade working in news & current affairs as a journalist & producer. I’ve been in Australia since 2012, and have had the pleasure of working on a range of programs from Channel 7 ‘Sunday Night’ to SBS’ Dateline – and managed to sneak a bit of Bachelorette in there, too.
I’m a story addict. I really don’t find anyone or anything boring – if you scratch the surface, there’s always a story, and that’s really what drives me and has motivated the creation of the Institute of Interesting Ideas.
Confessions: Where did the idea for the ‘Institute of Interesting Ideas’ come from?
Naima: The Institute of Interesting Ideas was born when I moved to Kiama from Sydney (for love, as one does) and left behind my full-time role as a television producer.
I had a good long think about what it was that I was most going to miss, and it really came down to the people and stories I’ve been so privileged to meet and be a part of. I was going to miss being in the room with fascinating people with amazing life stories – and then I had that “aha” moment of “wait a second…I can do that here, and do it differently” – so the idea of a live-interview series was born.
I can’t take credit for the name, I have a long list somewhere of all the different names we were floating around until my boyfriend Chris finally came up with the winner, which I love.
Confessions: What’s been the best thing so far about starting out on your own?
Naima: So many things! It’s incredibly rewarding – and sometimes scary! – to take complete ownership over something and really back yourself & your idea. But it’s amazing to be able to build something from the ground up that is in perfect alignment with my values and what I want to put out into the world.
I’ve been working on this with my dear friend and creative genius, Katy Russell – and that working relationship has been a real gift. But what’s been really amazing is meeting so many people in the community. We’ve made some incredible partnerships with local businesses and visionaries, and we’re really proud of the relationships we’re building.
Confessions: You’re originally from the States, what do you miss about home?
Naima: Mexican Food! Sorry Australia – you just never get it right. At this point, I’ve lived outside of America for so long – I left in 2008 to move to the Middle East (Yemen) and haven’t really lived there again since. So at this stage what I miss are my family & friends – but thank god for technology! There are so many ways to stay connected these days, it doesn’t always feel so far away.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how Australia and America are different because there are so many differences – culturally, politically, socially – but also so many similarities. I think the main difference really does come down to good Mexican food. 😉
Confessions: The lineup for the Winter Series is incredible with some really diverse topics, how did you put this together?
Naima: It was really important to me that this line-up was as diverse and multi-faceted as I believe we all are. I didn’t want it to skew too female, or be too blokey – I wanted it to be a representation of the kinds of diverse conversations and dialogues that all the people I know – across gender and age – are having.
So our lineup reflects people from many different walks of life, with different stories to tell and wisdom to share – from journalists to comedians to astronomers and everything in between.
Confessions: Who are you most excited about seeing?
Naima: I legitimately couldn’t choose! That would be like picking a favourite child – and they really are so different in their own ways. I have so many questions I personally want to ask them.
I want to ask Lofty Fulton about his life as the most famous “voice” in Australia, I want to ask Rosie Waterland about her adventures into fiction, I want to ask Alan Duffy about whether or not he believes in aliens…I feel like I could talk to each one of our speakers for hours, and that was really my criteria in choosing them.
I think what I’m really most excited to see is the audience interacting with our speakers. We are really committed to integrating audience participation in all our events, we set aside a lot of time for Q&A – and I’m most excited to see what those conversations spark.
Confessions: Who should come along and where can we find more information about the Winter Series?
Naima: We have something for everyone, truly. I really encourage people to come along with their partners and spouses, their teenagers, their friends and colleagues because what I can guarantee is that you’ll have so much you want to talk about with each other when you walk out.
Our website has all the information about our speakers and how to book, but also lots of information about other things you can do in Kiama – if you’re coming from out of town, I highly recommend you consider making a weekend out of it. There are so many amazing cafes and shops and hiking trails and beaches…don’t get me started on the wineries – you could kick off with one of our great events and then explore this incredible part of Australia.
Wow! What a woman. If you’re on the South Coast of NSW (or even if you’re not!) I highly recommend that you check out the lineup she’s got in store for us (as Naima says, why not make a weekend of it) – to give you a little taster…
- Melissa Doyle – one of Australia’s most recognised journalists who has just released her second book.
- Xanthe Mallet – forensic anthropologist and criminologist who will be talking about why the world needs psychopaths.
- Maggie Dent – renowned parenting expert tackling the topic of raising teens in the digital age.
- Lofty Fulton – who you will recognise as soon as he speaks as ‘the voice’ of Australia.
- Lucy Bloom – a woman who amongst many, many other things has transformed children’s charities in Cambodia and created the world’s first childbirth education program for men run in local pubs.
- Rosie Waterland – who became a household name through her hilarious recaps of the Bachelor.
- Prof Alan Duffy – a astrophysicist who creates universes on supercomputers.
Check it out:
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Kerry Dover is a stressed out business owner who, in her head runs a super streamlined, beautifully efficient, well-oiled machine of a business. The reality is a little different….here are her confessions!