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Trade Splaining 2

We heard about a podcast, TradeSplaining, initiated by Ardian Mollabeciri recently and were intrigued. After listening to a few, we caught up with Ardian to find out more and share with our readers. Read down to get the links to the podcasts. And look out for the next one scheduled on Monday, 23 January 2023.

What was the inspiration behind this project?

It’s a podcast I started back in 2020 together with Robert Skidmore, my former boss / co-worker and fellow American expat, while in the middle of the first lockdowns in March / April 2020. As the name suggests, it focuses on global trade, business, politics with some expat life thrown in, which we try to approach in as entertaining a way as possible. The aim is to approach topics as the “anti-conference panel” and do so in a way which answers the question of “why is X important?” in a way which experts and non-experts / regular people alike can take something from.

I pitched the idea to my fellow American expat in Geneva, who was my former boss at the time, and after talking through some ideas we convinced ourselves that we should do it. We’ve known each other since 2013 and always had a good banter, whether about our work or anything else… though usually when we’re at the bar so had to re-calibrate slightly.

We try to talk about sometimes relatively complex topics and their implications without getting bogged down either in talking points in our own way and with a healthy dose of humour thrown in. (I thought it was great when someone described the podcast as “irreverent”… until I went and looked up the exact definition.)

Trade Splaining 1

Over the 40 episodes to date, we have had a wide range of guests who have trade in common, from academics and correspondents from Bloomberg and The New York Times, to executives from the WTO and companies like Lombard Odier and Maersk, to thinkers and analysts from the Council on Foreign Relations and others. We’ve been pretty amazed, especially in the first 12-18 months as to the caliber and quality of interesting guests and institutions we’ve been able to get on the podcast, so we’re hoping that continues.

Have you been working on this idea forever, or was it something that came to you recently?

The idea to do a podcast came about while stuck at home in the middle of the first lockdown in March/April 2020. I was getting into lots of podcasts at the time as a way to pass the day, especially ones that, though very informative, could be quite dull and so thought: “I could do probably this, except more fun… just need to find someone else so I don’t embarrass only myself”.

The timing worked out in a way as well as I was reaching a point in my career and professional life where I started thinking about ways to differentiate myself and my talents. I was getting a bit tired of always hearing from people about how I was more knowledgeable than I seemed and how they didn’t realize I could speak so well to different topics and wasn’t just the funny American at work!

It also allows me to broaden my focus by letting me discuss topics outside what has been my career so far and talk about a wider range of topics without only focusing on the minute details of international trade. I like to think I’m someone with a broad range of interests and can talk about different topics, whether that be tech, finance or politics, and the podcast lets me do that.

What is the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome?

Constantly pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I was generally used to things coming to me rather than the reverse and this has taught me a valuable lesson both professionally and personally.

That includes being proactive in reaching out to people who I initially thought would want no part in talking to 2 random UN employees as well as the very primal fear of embarrassing myself! Putting yourself out there and out of your comfort zone, in whatever medium that is, is one of the big lessons I’ve taken away from this experience.

More recently, I also had somewhat of a life changing event in January of this year as I had a very serious ski accident. While now its certain that I’ll will make a full recovery, because of the severity of my injury doctors weren’t certain at the beginning how quickly and fully I would come back.

And though I had to take a break from work and the podcast initially, working on it these past 6-8 months helped to give me some focus and to be able to keep myself and my mind sharp, whether that was keeping up-to-date with and discussing current events, or making jokes!

What are your plans for the future?

We want to keep the momentum and good will we’ve built up since 2020 going.

Our lister base keeps growing at a steady pace with each new episode – we’re in the top 3% of podcasts globally when we looking at listener numbers and other metrics. These are numbers I didn’t expect when we started this, so considering we’re a “Mom and Pop” type operation I think it’s something we’re very proud of.

That said, we continually looking at ways to tweak and improve the podcast to make it more interesting for listeners and guests, whether that’s in the choice of discussion topics, different segments or types of questions we ask guests.

We’re also always looking for new advertisers and other ways to grow the podcast commercially. We now have a podcast producer and editor who work with us in putting together each episode and work on finding new sponsors. These tend to be Swiss companies as we’re based in Geneva, but we here Elon Musk may be looking for new advertisers so if hes reading this…

A few listeners opinions

“Love this podcast! Gems of trade and global politics info interspersed with hilarious banter between the witty hosts. Great insight into the Geneva expat bubble, too. My vote for the best kebab spot in Geneva: Parfum de Beyrouth!”

“The boring stuff turned interesting with a generosity to share hard-to-find knowledge... things you want to know about UN, trade and a lot more. Geneva expat life told in the raw, love it.”

“I listened to the Brexit episode and still don't understand Brexit, but had a good laugh anyway! Makes me miss 2am kebab in Geneva”

“Ardian and Rob are experts in their fields and bring wit and insight to the news. You can listen to this instead of reading those dreadful papers!”

“The podcast was a breath of fresh air. The hosts are honest and real about topics that impact us all. The analysis is unique - much different than the average trade podcast. No egos, just open discussion from Ardian, Rob and guests. Looking forward to future episodes. It’s also important to be able to understand the sarcasm... one of my favourite aspects. It’s not boring and the hosts are actually a part of what goes on in trade policy and trade-led development.”

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"Readers can find me on LinkedIn Ardian Mollabeciri or Twitter @ArdianTweets and Robert Skidmore @RSkidmore_GVA. Happy to hear your thoughts on the podcast or just catch up in general and meet in person!"

Ardian added, "Please also rate and leave a review depending on the platform!"


You can subscribe to the podcast on most all major platforms:

Apple Podcasts
Google Podcasts

and you can also give it a follow on:

Twitter @TradeSplaining
Instagram @Trade.Splaining
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