In a world where technology helps us be anywhere and do (almost) anything, Katie Linendoll is leading the way. A true multi-hyphenate in trade, Katie is an Emmy-winner, journalist, TV personality and tech insider. You can see her regularly on the TODAY Show, where she’s served as a tech contributor, wow-ing everyone from Willie Geist to celebrities to, of course, the viewers, for the past six years. She’s also a regular on The Weather Channel, Fox News, HLN, CNN and CBS Sports Radio.
Katie also creates and hosts her own podcast Katie <dot> Show where she uncovers and breaks down the latest in technology trends in plain, “Oh, now I get this” speak for us non-techies. In her podcast–which BTW, has climbed to No. 4 on the iTunes tech charts–she’s covered virtual reality, the Hyperloop, gadgets known to boost your mood and much more. Katie’s also a “friend with connections” for her listeners. On her show she’s interviewed GM’s CEO and Chair Mary Barra, Nintendo legend Shigeru Miyamoto (who happens to be the creator of Super Mario!) and music icon Dave Navarro. And that’s just scratching the surface.
She’s also written for some killer outlets, including Oprah.com, Popular Science and Shape magazine. And, as the founder of Katie Linendoll Productions, she and her team regularly produce content for big-name brands, like Amazon, Capital One and RetailMeNot. Phew!
We first interviewed Katie on I Want Her Job in 2011. She was an early supporter of the women supporting women movement, and she’s a big believer in giving back. Period. She serves on the board of the Batcole Foundation, which supports research and awareness of pediatric cancer.
In episode 52 of I Want Her Job: The Podcast, Founder Brianne Perleberg speaks with Katie about underwater reporting, the growing power of virtual reality and how she spends 250 days a year traveling for her job. The grind may be work, but the work, she will enthusiastically tell you, is so worth it.
Topics Discussed In Today’s Show:
- Tech Over Time: While Katie’s full-time gig hasn’t changed since we last talked, the amount of content expected from her, and the way in which she captures that content, has changed dramatically. “I was having this epiphany moment, because I’ve spent my entire life in technology. I was out filming a few weeks ago in Bermuda for a story that I’m working on for The Weather Channel, and everything kind of just hit me; how much everything has changed in the world of reporting. I was literally doing a live hit on my iPhone through Facebook Live with The Weather Channel team on a remote island … with a tiny little device. Whereas 5-to-10-years ago, I would’ve been with a massive crew and everybody would have a different job. I was blown away … These moments take you back. Everything you can do, you’re on your own and with small technology with so much power. That has been revolutionary, and I think we take it for granted often,” she shares.
- Go Fish: One topic Katie has followed for the past handful of years is the invasion of lionfish in the Atlantic Ocean. The fish, which is not natural to the Atlantic, was thrown in by pet shop owners years ago and have spread rapidly. They have no predators and are essentially ruining the ecosystem. She was recently covering the story of a robot created by iRobot (the company behind Roomba) to catch these fish, which are time-intensive for humans to catch. It’s just one of the hundreds of examples, Katie believes, of how technology can help our environment.
- On Underwater Filming: Katie has held her diving certifications for years, and is only one of a few dive reporters. This leads to unique opportunities, like covering NASA astronauts living underwater to take advantage of the ocean’s microgravity for 6-18 days. “The underwater stories that I get to work on are mentally and physically challenging, but it’s really changed my outlook,” she says. “There’s this whole world under the water, and creatures that I’ve seen and the people that I’ve met. It’s been a really exciting part of what I do and what I report on.”
- Stay Calm and Dive On: The depths of the ocean, especially during storms, can be a tough environment to work in. Katie has had some scares underwater but says, “It’s an area where you don’t have a choice, but you have to remain calm.”
- Taking A Lead: Katie believes it’s her responsibility as a new media journalist to tell stories about our environment and how it is changing. “It’s one thing to be able to give somebody data and statistics,” she says. “If you give somebody a visual, it’s so much more compelling.”
- Integrity First: “It’s interesting in the world of journalism where things are going,” Katie says. “You’re often pushed to be the first person to get something out—cranking out stories—and I refuse to go in that direction. I have to put a lot of effort and research into every one of my pieces or even every gadget that I test. I can’t go on the TODAY Show and have seven products that I’m showing … and even though they have about 30-to-45-seconds a piece, I can’t tell you how many websites I’ve crashed … It shows you the responsibility you have that if you tell people on air to purchase that product and it works, it better darn well work.”
- On The Road (Again): Katie travels about 250 days a year. She jokes that she often finds herself waking up from sleep unaware of what airport or hotel she is in.
- Eye-Opening: Growing up in Eerie, Pennsylvania, Katie shares that she didn’t take her first flight until she was 20-years old. Now, to be able to explore the world, she says she feels really changed as a person.
- #RealWorldProblems: Katie went on a self-funded trip to Kibera, Kenya, the second-poorest part of the world, to report for CNN on the impact of e-readers there. Used as a tool to gain education curriculum without the weight or burden of paper books, the impact of e-readers in schools there inspired Katie to fund e-readers for not just a classroom, but also an entire school. “Now these kids can actually read books, and they’re telling me they now realize there’s life outside of where they are,” Katie says.
- On Perspective: The terrible circumstances Katie witnessed in Kibera have shifted her perspective on everyday life. She describes how one family she met spent two month’s salary to make her dinner and offer her soda. “It’s completely gut-wrenching, and you just feel like you can’t do enough,” she says.
- Cutting Through Comfort Zones: “Just pushing yourself outside the boundary is what’s going to build your character, hands down,” Katie says. “There’s that moment that we all experience; whether it’s going to an event were we don’t feel comfortable at, being underwater, or being in a different city where it doesn’t feel like you really fit in … There’s a moment where you go, “This sucks. I don’t want to be here,’ and then you’re like, ‘No, I’m gonna man up, and I’m gonna get through this. And it’s always the best decision.”
- On Kicking Fear In The Ass: “I always play the worst-case-scenario, and anytime I feel uncomfortable or worried about something, as I’ve gotten older and I feel a lot wiser, I always say, “Okay, I’m worried about this situation right now.’ [And] whether it’s personal or professional, [I always ask myself]: What’s the worst-case scenario that could happen?’ When I start to play that game, I can rule out the worry so fast from my head,” she says. “The worst-case scenario usually isn’t that bad. It’s not that terrible. If it does happen, which it’s not going to happen, most likely, 99.9% [of the time], I’ll work through it. Often we have to play these mind games with ourselves and get out of our own anxieties.”
- Ingredients For Her Success: Always learn — and get your sleep, Katie says. She shares that she’s a self-admitted “obsessive sponge” who loves to learn as much possible and believes you’re never too old to learn something new. She says she keeps herself constantly challenged and tracks the things she wants to learn with a list. Right now those topics include the piano and sign language. “Anything I can push outside my boundaries and just learn, I’m obsessive about,” she says.
- On Those Zzzz’s: “I’m a big proponent of: If I’m tired at the end of the night, I’m going to shut it down,” Katie says.
- A New Reality: Katie suggests readers become familiar with virtual reality. She’s followed VR since its infancy–even visiting the facility where it was created. She recalls her first experience with VR explaining that she was experiencing training on a navy ship. She felt like she was in another world and was ducking and moving around—and totally forgot a camera crew was filming. It was that moment, she says, when she realized that yes, VR is great for gaming and entertainment, but, she wondered, what impact could it have on other areas?
- VR, With Love: Inspired by a TV segment about kids getting pediatric cancer treatment, Katie became a volunteer. She’s since touched the lives of many of her “little BFFs” and has worked hard to improve their quality of life by helping to provide VR headsets for kids in pediatric cancer hospitals. Through her work on the Batcole Foundation, where she serves as a board member, she hopes to implement VR into pediatric cancer hospitals across the country. “It’s one thing to read a paragraph. It’s another to see the Starry Night sky right in front of your face,” Katie says.
- Added Benefits: While the VR headsets allow kids undergoing treatment to escape their long, boring days in the hospital, Katie is curious to see the other benefits it can offer, on the physical side. Early research is showing the learning and education from immersive VR is creating unreal feedback from kids, doctors and management. She’s also curious to see how the data on VR’s physical benefits, like heart rate, are affected.
- Learn More: Read the story of Cole Winnefeld, who the Batcole Foundation is named after and created in memory of, and donate to the organization here.
- Connect: Follow Katie on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
- For More: Subscribe to Katie <dot> Show on iTunes.
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