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Words about words, brands, names and naming, and the creative process.

#sparkchamber 091117 Lisa Napoli

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Today in the #sparkchamber, writer and aspiring humanitarian Lisa Napoli. Lisa grew up in Flatbush, Brooklyn, back when it was a working-class outpost of the city, not the hip, hipster paradise it is today. A graduate of Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, she has enjoyed an impressive media career — from covering technology for the New York Times at the dawn of the Internet, to her on-air work at MSNBC and the public radio show Marketplace.

Lisa’s first book Radio Shangri-La(Crown, 2011) chronicles the dawn of democratic rule in the mysterious Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan, where she was invited to help start a youth-oriented radio station.

Her most recent book, Ray & Joan: The Man Who Made the McDonald’s Fortune and the Woman Who Gave it All Away, (Dutton 2017) is a biography of the late philanthropist, Mrs. Joan Kroc. Lisa was inspired to write this book when she learned that a sculpture in Santa Monica, threatened for demolition, had originally been funded by the late Joan Kroc. Intrigued, she set about finding out why the heiress to the McDonald’s fortune, about whom so little was known, would fund such a project. Over the next five years, Lisa unearthed and pieced together the story of this amazing woman. To tell her story, it seemed essential to tell that of Ray and how he made the McDonald’s fortune, too.

Ever at it, earlier this year, Lisa began producing and hosting a podcast about growing old called Gracefully.

In addition to her other creative pursuits, Lisa is also a dedicated volunteer. She is the founding board chair of the Bhutan Media Service, an all-volunteer news outlet created by Bhutanese refugees in diaspora, and, she leads a group of friends in an award-winning volunteer cooking group at the Downtown Women’s Center on Skid Row in Los Angeles.

1.] Where do ideas come from?

A combination of intense curiosity, inquisition, and grace.

2.] What is the itch you are scratching?

I’m obsessed with a new book I’m researching, that has to do with a chapter early in my career, and dates back to the 1970s. I also am consumed by the topic of aging gracefully. People do not get that they are going to get old. And that much of the population is aging rapidly. And that society just doesn’t understand how to handle it. 

3.] Early bird or night owl, tortoise or hare?

Early bird. I love the morning. I love getting up, having a cup of tea, and going straight to work. 

4.] How do you know when you are done?

For the day? My eyes start to cross, and I am ready to swim. This helps me think — by not thinking about what I’ve worked on.

Forever? Never. I love deadlines, as a journalist. I’m a big fan of deliverables. Nothing is ever ‘done.’ But you have to know when to release it, if you want it consumed. I’m always hoping people will consume what I create.