Rana Campbell ’13
Courtesy Dreams In Drive

There are no marketing and branding majors at Princeton, and no podcasting majors either. But Rana Campbell ’13, host of Dreams In Drive, says her experiences as an undergrad prepared her to pursue both avenues. The sociology concentrator learned how to craft interesting, in-depth interviews while researching her junior papers and senior thesis, and as an intern at Career Services, she picked up marketing on the job, recording soundbites from visiting professionals with an office Flip camera. Her podcast, which recently started its fourth year, features interviews with entrepreneurs who share advice for other self-starters, or “dream drivers.” Campbell spoke with PAW earlier this month.

Striving for spontaneity

“Some podcasters always ask the same questions. I’m really big on going with the flow of the interview because everyone’s story is unique. So I have questions that I ask everyone — each podcast opens with what inspired you as a child, and most of them end with what keeps you going — but it’s how you get from the start to the finish that really is different for each unique person.  I always say that if people saw my notes page when I’m talking to people, they would think I’m crazy because it looks like this one big doodle.  As people are talking, I’m jotting down notes and figuring out questions as I go. I think that you need to have practice to be able to do that, and you have to be a good listener. I try to really chisel down to what part of their story is something that I can’t talk about with another person.”


Three more podcasts to check out this month

1. Hill House Home founder and CEO NELL DIAMOND ’11 interviews public-relations pro ARIELLE PATRICK ’12 on One Quick Thing.

2. FRANK VUONO ’78 talks sports marketing and upstart football leagues on Bloomberg’s Business of Sports.

3. On Start Making Sense, JON WIENER ’66 discusses politics “without the boring parts.”

From blogger to broadcaster

“Originally, I had been blogging on my website. I was doing these in-depth interviews with entrepreneurs — I called it Brandmakers — and I just felt like people weren’t reading 1,500-word interviews. Podcasting was becoming a buzzword, and I’ll never forget that I told one of my Brandmakers guests that I wanted to podcast. And he was like, ‘OK, so what’s stopping you? A lot of people out here who aren’t as smart as you, who haven’t accomplished all the things that you’ve accomplished, are really making these dreams that they have come true. So you need to figure out a plan to make it happen.’ And that was my epiphany moment. It came from me wanting to continue interviewing people but to find a platform that could reach more people and was more accessible.”

Target audience

“I speak to that 25-to-35-year-old urban millennial woman, particularly women of color, who are trying to put their dreams into drive. So these are people who are either leaving their careers or people who are pursuing entrepreneurship full time and just need a little bit of fuel to keep going during those down times. I like to bring on guests who speak to a lot of their pain points and showcase the possibilities of what can happen when you don’t give up.”

Taking the plunge

“I used to work in marketing full time, doing marketing and sales for an e-commerce fulfillment company, so in that world I learned a lot about what makes businesses run and how you connect with your customers.

“[Leaving that job] involved getting over a lot of fear. I think as a Princeton graduate you feel like you have to follow a [certain] path and it’s kind of daunting to venture out of it. So for me, I had to think, ‘Has this run its course? Have I learned everything I can learn in this position?’ At that point in my journey I was stuck, I wasn’t necessarily learning anything fresh. And I knew that I had something that, if I had more time, I could definitely invest in building. I knew I wouldn’t just be diving in and hitting a cement bottom.

“I’m betting on myself and taking a risk. I always tell myself that even if things don’t work out, at least I tried and at least there was a lesson to be learned. That’s something I’ve learned from a lot of the guests that I’ve had on the show.”

Your very own podcast

“For anybody thinking about starting a podcast, don’t be afraid that the market is saturated. I think you just have to be willing to go deep. Let’s say you like cars: Find something that’s really unique about your perspective on why you like cars. And leverage your own story in building the brand. A lot of times, we get scared of putting our personal business out there on the web, but you can curate how you use your personal experiences to inspire others. You’re not necessarily being personal, you’re just being real.”

Interview conducted and condensed by Brett Tomlinson