5 Questions with Speakers Audrey Scott and Dan Noll

Cheesy Kimono Photo - Mount Fuji, Japan

Today’s ‘Five Questions’ series (with our fabulous Melibee speakers)  are answered by the founders of UnCornered Market, Audrey Scott and Dan Noll. I had the pleasure of meeting up with them recently and got to pick their brains on their ongoing travel and what makes them unique speakers. I could have talked with them for days – and you’ll quickly see why!  

1) Finish this sentence. Culture is…

Culture is something we all share. It has as much to do with our similarities as it does our differences. It also speaks more to how and why things are done than the things themselves.In our experience, culture is not just the food, the music, the clothing. Culture transcends those manifestations. As such, culture isn’t something you “get” from an itinerary, or by driving by without engaging. It’s also not something you grasp by “doing” a country.

A cold day in the Salar de Uyuni (desert), Bolivia
A cold day in the Salar de Uyuni (desert), Bolivia

Like a tea bag in hot water, you understand culture by immersing, then reflecting. You must slow down to observe and appreciate culture’s component parts. And you need to observe — without judgment — what you see, hear and feel to grasp culture. It takes time and effort. Sometimes it feels like work, but that work is almost always rewarded. Imagine the Dalai Lama trying to understand Lady Gaga for the first time. And vice versa.

2) If you had a plane ticket where would you go tomorrow?

Since we recently spent a chunk of time visiting family and friends in the U.S., we’d probably pop over to Papua New Guinea. One of the more influential books we’ve read — Guns, Germs, Steel — first drew our attention there.

If we are being creative and our ticket didn’t restrict us to planet Earth, we’ll leave Mars to Elon Musk and head somewhere beyond the solar system.

3) A “single story” you’d like to disarm…

The single story that the world is fundamentally a scary, dangerous place. This fear narrative seems especially prevalent in the United States, which is entirely understandable, as popular media seems to offer up a steady supply of content to reinforce it.

At the Equator, Uganda.
At the Equator, Uganda.

Sharing firsthand alternative narratives — or “second stories” — from places so often considered dangerous is essential to our unpacking the underlying “us vs. them” narrative and shining a light on our similarities, constructive differences and how we can live and work together peacefully.

4) Why we should care about your “passion”/area?

To humanize the world and to operate first and foremost with respect and curiosity also helps us take action and address many of the issues we struggle with as individuals: happiness, satisfaction, purpose, processing our fears.

Being able to blend adventure, community and service is about doing the right thing, not because that guarantees a satisfying outcome, but because it’s the right thing to do. This is a path to experiential learning through travel and understanding how we what we do.

We believe all these things will make our world better — for all of us.

5) What makes you great speakers?

When we tell stories that move audiences to laughter in one moment and tears in another, we channel all of the people we’ve met and our experiences with them. We create emotional connections that help audiences not only understand the world better, but also themselves and their place in it.

Audrey, Dan, Missy (founder of Melibee) and her husband Tony meet up in North Carolina (September 2014)
Audrey, Dan, Missy (founder of Melibee) and her husband Tony met up in North Carolina to talk culture and travel! (September 2014)

Beyond that, we aim to motivate others to take action so they can discover the possibilities opened by this understanding. On a personal note, something unique that we bring is a variety of voice — not only in terms of sound, but also viewpoint — because we are two people, a husband and wife who share similar core values yet experience and process life and its and lessons very differently.

I’m so grateful that I had time to spend with these serial sojourners.  Clearly, their stories and perspective on meaningful cross-cultural interactions are ideal for conferences, keynotes and student/youth events. Contact the hive if you are interested in booking Audrey and Dan to speak at an event you are planning.

Keep up with Dan and Audrey on Facebook and Twitter!

Note: Photos used with permission of Uncornered Market.