In today’s discussion I speak with Mamobo Ogoro, who is a Social psychologist, Social Entrepreneur and Founder & CEO of Gorm Media - an impact focused digital media company based in Ireland. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Mamobo identified that the subject she heavily researched in her studies was rising to the surface in media on a scale that she had never experienced before. Seeing a clear need for conversations and cultural exchanges around social issues with diverse perspectives, she started on this journey to shine a light on individuals with stories of their experiences to tell. Tune in to hear more about how this has evolved since the very beginning.
Mamobo shared the book that she is currently reading which significantly aligns with the mission of Gorm Media, Beyond Your Bubble by Tania Israel. She also told us that she cannot stop listening to the music from the Disney movie, Encanto as it has many messages that children of migrants are likely to relate to. One of her favourite artists and songs is “I Am Light” by India Arie. An audiobook that she highly recommends is The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt - Why good people are divided by politics and religion.
Hello and welcome to a new episode of narratives of purpose. My name is Claire Murigande. I am a scientist by training a TEDx speaker and your host on this show. This podcast is dedicated to amplifying social impact by bringing you inspiring individual stories of ordinary people who are making extraordinary impact within their communities and around the world. If you're looking for a programme that showcases unique stories of changemakers, stories of people who are contributing to make a difference in society, and at the same time, you want to be inspired to take action, then look no further. You are in the right place. So get comfortable and listen to my conversations. On this week's episode, I continue to discuss dialogue and understanding with my new guest, Mamobo Ogoro. Mamobo is the founder and CEO of Gorm Media, an impact focused digital media company based in Dublin, Ireland. In this conversation, Mamobo shares with me how her company's content addresses social issues with diverse perspectives. Please take a moment to rate and review our show wherever you listen to your podcasts. And for now, listen to Mamobo's journey and her vision to spark a movement of unity and shared understanding.
Today, I am joined by Mamobo. She's based in Ireland. And it's a great pleasure to have you on the podcast. Hi, welcome.
Hi Claire, lovely to be here.
It's a great pleasure to have you here. And I'd like to share just a few words of background on how I met you to the audience just for them to know and understand why I'm inviting you today. So about a year ago, early 2021, I attended a webinar on social enterprise, which was celebrating social entrepreneurs, you were moderating one of the sessions. And I remember that I connected with you right away, because I really liked the way you had driven the conversation during that webinar. And along the way, I realised as well that you are yourself a social entrepreneur, you are the founder of Gorm Media. But before we speak about that, I'd like you to introduce yourself to our listeners, what would you like to share with them?
Thank you so much, Claire, for inviting me. So glad to be on the podcast today. And so yeah, my name is Mamobo Ogoro. I'm the founder of Gorm Media. I am also a PhD candidate in the University of Limerick here in Ireland. And my research looks at the social and media representations of multicultural identities and the multicultural reality of Ireland. And what I found in my research was that there was a huge lack when it came to nuanced representations when it came to telling adequate stories. And when it comes to identity development as it relates to social representation and people understanding themselves through looking at images, looking at media and looking at art. So I was like, how am I going to sit on all this information? And for myself as well, for someone that grew up in Ireland, I didn't see that myself personally. And now I have the research to back it up. What do I do about it? And a lot of researchers have their impact after 35 years of research, and I was like, I can't do that. So I sat on that idea. I had this idea just to create a sort of media based, multimedia based projects and things like that. So I had the idea for around two years. And I think it was fear, procrastination, all these kinds of things that just stopped me from doing that. And during COVID-19 when everybody was at home, reflecting on life, sitting at home, eating, watching TV and things like that. We saw this huge rise in social consciousness, social awareness and social movements, particularly in Ireland as well. It was the first time that mainstream media was focusing on social issues such as racism, race, and understanding these concepts. But one thing I really noticed was that because it was a new discussion in Ireland, particularly, there were a lot of divisions and there was a lot of polarisation between arguments and discussions. So I thought 1) this is not this is not like creating common ground. This is not creating dialogue. This is not creating democracy. It's actually breaking people apart more than anything. And 2) the representations that I was seeing in mainstream media at the time, were just not nuanced enough to really show that people of colour were more than just their identity or more than just a person of colour. So I was like, Okay, I'm going to start something, I'm going to create my own thing. And Gorm Media actually started off as a web show called Gorm TV, which highlighted the social issues that affect Ireland's multicultural generation. So I brought in young people of culturally diverse backgrounds, and different disabilities, ages, different awarenesses. And we just came together and discussed the issues that were reflecting in our community and how we felt about it, and created a space to have different perspectives and nuanced perspectives in Irish discourse. And jumping off the back of that, what happened was that it was put on my lap, there was this programme called The Ideas Academy for Social Entrepreneurs Ireland, which is a nonprofit organisation that supports people who have ideas for social change in their community. So I just applied randomly and I got a place. And from that they helped me to develop the idea that it just doesn't need to be a web show, it can actually be a social enterprise, it can be a company, it can be something bigger than just me talking to my webcam. So what happened was that we developed the idea, and it helped me launch our pilot project. And we, in that process, we changed our name as well to Gorm Media. And from there, it's just skyrocketed, because, again, with the whole consciousness around social issues and things like that, in Ireland, people were becoming eager to see this kind of content, see the perspectives of people of different and diverse backgrounds, add to the conversation as well, because sometimes when we talk about diversity, they think of people in the margins, let's say, but in terms of multiculturalism, it means everybody is on the table, everybody discussing. So we wanted to create a space where everyone's voice mattered in the conversations, and everyone's perspective mattered. And if we agree to disagree at the end of the conversation, that's okay, that's perfectly okay. As long as at the end of the day, we respect each other as humans who are worthy of dignity and respect. That is how I see the whole vision of gore media. And our whole vision is to really spark a movement of that unity and shared understanding, which I believe comes through open discourse, and open dialogue. And yeah I'm on a mission to unify the world. And it starts with having open discourse and open dialogue with people who are outside your belief bubble, I like to call it
On your website, and also on LinkedIn, it also states that you are an impactful digital media company with a mission to spark a movement of unity. And this idea of the moment, I find quite interesting, because it's really reflecting what is happening, because from your explanation there, it seems to me that you also acted in a sense of urgency because of things that were happening, you had to do something that was correct? You explained to people, right, this is not exactly what you see, there's more to it.
What I noticed, especially in the digital online space, is that people wanted to be heard more than listen. And people wanted to get all everything out, rather than understand the perspective of someone else and put themselves in their shoes empathise, basically. So our platform really generates that space in which people can have their voice heard, and particularly people in marginalised communities have their voice heard, but at the same time, listen, or actively listen to people of different backgrounds, experiences and understandings to really gain that understanding. Yes, there may not be of your own political or religious or social agreement, but you can actually at the end of day, just respect that person's humanity, and really hone into that fact that at the end of the day, we're just humans trying to do this thing called life. So yeah, it's really important for us in our social enterprise, to have the space in which we are very multicultural, we are diverse. But at the end of the day, we are all humans who are worthy of dignity and respect.
So you said something there before that it kind of picked up pretty quickly, you were not expecting that, you know, has that been a challenge for you? Or how did you deal with it?
Yeah, it's been a good challenge. I always tell people, it's been the scariest thing I've ever done in my life, to be honest. But it's been the most fulfilling thing I've ever done in my life at the same time. It's this constant feeling of excitement and terror. I think that just a lot of entrepreneurs will agree with that. Excitement and terror at the same time, but the support that I've had from my local community, from a national community as well has just been overwhelming, it's just been great to see that people really do believe in this mission. And I think a part of the reason why I didn't act on it for a while was that I just didn't think that people would actually back it up. But once I started to get that affirmation kind of pushed into my confidence and made me more confident in myself, and then impacted our mission as well and impacted everything that we were doing. So since then we've been supported by organisations such as Humanity In Action, they are our local arts and culture office. We have been supported by the Limerick Innovation Centre, we've been supported by the university that I'm in as well. And it's been just great to see that there many institutions, bigger institutions that are opening to partnering with us and working with us on our mission. And being a part of that mission as well. Some of the challenges that I've had have been - it's been very hard kind of trying to time manage everything. Because I thought it was just going to be going slowly, and I could be working on it. I'm working on my PhD as well, because I'm in my final year, and this is crunch time now. So I didn't think it was going to pick up as quickly as it is. So it's working on my time management working on how to say no on things that don't align with my mission. Even though they might sound really interesting, and I really love to do it, I just have to be like, "No, I just have to do a PhD. And I have to do Gorm media" That's all that is on my agenda right now. So anything outside of that, I have to preserve my time as well. And one of my main goals as well for 2020 is just to rest, because it picked up so quickly. And I was overworking a lot last year as well. So this time, I've just tried to make a specific schedule to have time to do the two of them and have time for myself too.
And in terms of support, you mentioned a few institutions there. And I noticed that a few days ago, just at the beginning of 2022 actually, you posted something on LinkedIn where you were listed as one of "the ones to watch in 2022" by the Irish Independent weekend magazine. And I'd like to know what that represents for you? For you personally, and also for Gorm Media?
Yeah, I think for me personally, first of all, it was a huge honour to be put on the list. I didn't envision that it was going to have such a quick impact and such a quick buy-in by bigger and more national magazines and newspapers as well. So it was really, I was very delighted to see that. And personally I think it goes back to the confidence thing. I'm a worrier. And I have a lot of anxiety about some things, so it's nice to see that things that you may have as your idea in your head, and things that you may have put yourself down for or decide it's not it's not gonna work out. When magazines have high standards and high acclaim, they say that "No, actually, this is a great idea, you're actually someone that we're on the lookout for the future", It just feels surreal, to be honest, and it makes you feel like something I'm doing is actually impacting my community in a positive way. And from that we can actually make positive change in our society as well. So it's been an amazing journey. And in terms of Gorm Media, a lot of our work is video focused and digital content as well focused. So just being on that list would help us create more strategic partners that would give us a more credible footing when we want to go for our bigger dreams in the future as well. So it's just really surreal just to have that support and have that backing from larger broadcasters and larger media as well.
Speaking specifically about Gorm media, you said before it is a multimedia based product. Tell me more about that?
Yes, I have already said that we started off as Gorm TV, and we've just been evolving ever since. And our pilot project titled "This Is Them". So right now I'm doing quote unquote, quotation marks for those who are listening. But the quotation marks are intentional. To show that there's always more to, quote unquote, "Them". So in that video series, we brought people of different and diverse backgrounds, to talk about the issues in their community to highlight the nuances in their communities as well and to really show audiences that there's always more to them. So in our pilot series, we talked to people who were Muslim women, and we talked to queer men, we talked to autistic women, we talked to black people, and we talked to mixed heritage people as well. And each episode, there were questions and conversation points and statements that our larger audiences wanted to know about these communities. And these people spoke about their issues and spoke about their stories in a way that highlighted the fact that yes, they were in these communities 1), but 2) they were just themselves, they're an individual before they were in these communities. Well, that's our pilot title, "This Is Them" and going forward, we secured funding to continue the project, and to have 10 More episodes in 2022. But we'll be looking for new communities to talk to. And it's not restricted just to cultural identity, but it's just communities that have generally been "othered" by society, and just to have their voice be the pillar of their media representation. And going forward as well, we're also dabbling in different areas as well and testing out different video projects that we may pursue in the future. And our social media, we have weekly segments in which we delve into news and current affairs. And we have a space for our audience to say their comments and talk to each other as well, creating that space for dialogue too. In the future, we're going to be testing out writing segments too so right now we have a call for young people to come in and write about their stories. The topics are politics and religion, ethnicity, race, and culture, sex and sexuality and gender, and popular culture. So we're creating a space for people who may not be as open to putting their face to video content, but also want to get their voice heard as well. So it's been a space of exploration for us, because we're still starting off testing out what works and what doesn't work with our platform and with our audience, but it's been a great journey and understanding what works and actually working with larger broadcasters as well, to actually get the content out to even a wider audience as well.
You mentioned there that you also very much listen to what your audience is saying. So you have a direct connection with them. So whenever you put something out, they're able to come back to you to tell you what they think about what they would do differently. That's really ongoing, right?
All the time. We have an advisory panel as well of young people that have participated in our shows, our audience, our community and things like that, people that I've just noticed that have been really engaged. And they're a set group of people that I have sort of that qualitative contact with if you get what I mean. And then more on the quantitative side, it's more of like feedback forms, discussion forums and things like that, with a wider audience, we have an audience of just over 4000 people online, that engage with us on a regular basis with the content that we put out. So it's very telling, and I even learned so much from the audiences as well, we would get DMS from people from different communities and say, "No, that's not a part of my experience. My experiences in this community," even though we showed someone's voice or their community, they're like, "No, I've never experienced that." And it gives our team more insights in terms of how we channel our questions, how we talk to our community, and how we create that open dialogue as well. We're always in a space of learning, especially for our team as well, always in a space of learning and always getting perspective from people of different backgrounds. Again, it's not boxing people in groups of gender, sexuality, things like that, understanding the individual experience and the individual's story of that person. Even though that story is backed up by those characteristics, I understand their humanity as well.
So you've been doing a lot of video, and you're planning on writing, as you mentioned before, any plans for doing audio? Because there's a lot of audio in digital space. Like right now we're having this conversation as a podcast is audio digital content. So are you also going to explore that part?
We are. So if you want to write an article with your own words, we're not just restricted to Ireland, if you have a voice and you want your voice to be heard, you can write, you can pitch to us or write an article that you would love us to put on our website. And you can firstname.lastname@example.org. And one thing that would happen as well, each week from the articles that we get in, our editor would turn that into a sort of talking piece, if you get what I mean, or get the person who is really moved by an article, we can get that person to record as a talking piece. And we turn it into a short youtube video and put it on audio platforms as well. So that's sort of like an idea that we're testing out now. And we want to see if it works out. But it's all in the sort of pilot process as well as we're gathering the articles for writing and everything like that.
So you also mentioned before that, you know, people don't necessarily have to be necessarily in Ireland, what parts of the world are you connected with? Do you have people from all over the world?
Yes. So I was actually doing it this morning just tracking the audience and things like that. But the vast majority, of course, our audience is in Ireland, I believe roughly like 80 something percent is in Ireland. But we do have audiences in the UK, the US mostly English speaking countries. And because my background is in Nigeria as well, we have audience members in Nigeria too watching.
You also said before that you have bigger dreams for the future. Is there anything you can really share with us at this point?
Yeah, so I think one of my big dreams is to turn Gorm Media into a home for different media outlets and different projects if you get what I mean. So one thing is right now we're doing sort of digitally based short form content, things like that, that are quick. One of my things as well as to start working on, let's say documentaries, and more longer form content, and work on films, short films and things like that, to have a different perspective on the stories that we have heard in on our platform or things like that, our creative director, she's a photojournalist, and she does documentaries, as well, on the side, too. So we're always trying to explore avenues. And this is probably in three, four years time in the future for us. But we want to create a platform that just houses different forms of media that tell different stories, and put those stories in a way that is nuanced, and have those stories in a way that really shows the human experience more than anything like that, because there are fundamental feelings that we all have in common, and we all share. And such as love, joy, happiness, sadness, anger, and we want to highlight that using diverse and different voices in our community in Ireland as well. So it's a huge dream that I have for the future, I have other dreams as well, in terms of having our own studio space and everything like that. So that we can create our own in-house content and things like that. But for five years time, not right now, we're still trying to get the whole startup thing going. But in the future, I see it, I have a vision board right in front of me, that reminds me every single day what I want, and I just continuously work on it mentally, and then it manifests in my physical actions.
So right at the end of the show, I like to ask the three questions, which are my quick three questions about, you know, getting a sneak peek into your readings or your music. So the first one is, what book are you reading right now? Or if you're more of a music person what music or what song are you repeatedly listening to these days?
The book that I'm reading right now is actually quite relevant to the work that we do in Gorm Media, in terms of unifying communities creating common ground, and the book I'm reading is called Beyond Your Bubble by Tania Israel. And it's how to connect across a political divide. So it's a really interesting book on conversation tactics and conversation strategies that one can use in order to truly empathise and connect to people that on their day to day wouldn't necessarily agree with. So that's great in terms of music, I have been obsessed with Disney's Encanto. I know it's a kids movie, but I have been obsessed with the whole album. The movie actually really spoke to me. Because if you haven't watched it, I'm going to say a spoiler right now but if you come from an immigrant household, you can definitely relate to a lot of the characters in terms of family pressure, and the difficulties when it comes to migrating into a new country, leaving a legacy behind and the pressure for a lot of migrant children to be perfect. So the songs really reflect that. And they're really cool, kind of bopping music as well, too.
And the second question is, is there a song or even a book that was particularly special for you at a specific time in your life?
One of my favourite artists, her name is India Arie, she sings a lot of music that relates to wellness, self love, self acceptance, and all these sorts of things that happen in a young person's life and anybody's life at any stage of life. And I remember going through a huge kind of down period, this was before even COVID just not a good mental health period, self confidence was low and everything was low. And I was at the point where I was earning my paycheck and I kind of wanted to quit it. But that song, she has a song called "I Am Light '' which kind of reminds you that you are not your history. You're not your past. You're not the colour of your skin. You're not anything that the world defines you but you are just the soul that you are inside and you are worthy of love, just as you are not because of your accolades, not because of your achievements, just as you are. That was one of the songs that really kind of pulled me through that sort of dark period. I remember listening to it constantly. But it was a great song that really pulled me out of that sort of darker period in my young adulthood.
And the final question is, do you have a book or even a piece of music that you absolutely recommend for our listeners?
One audio book that I have been listening to, it's really great, and it's about moral psychology on how, again, political divide and understanding or why people are divided in society. It's called The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt. Why good people are divided by politics and religion. It's a really great book, to understand the academic side of it, and the human side of it, and understanding the positives, the negatives of both the left and right parties in terms of political spectrums, and understanding how we can come together and meet in the middle. So yeah, it's really interesting.
And before I let you go, I have one last question, what is for you the biggest learning in all this journey that you've had in this social enterprise? What is your biggest learning at this point?
Right now, because of last year, I had kind of moments of burnout and stress and panic attacks. So one of my biggest learning points, particularly as it pertains to my goals for this year, is to rest, the mission will always be there. And the missions are not gonna work if you're not able to work. So you have to have adequate restful periods, in order for you to drive the mission to the best of its ability. Sometimes I put the mission before myself, and my own physical and mental health. So I've learned that I need to take care of myself first. And if I'm mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally sound, then the mission would be to the best of its ability, the mission will be going forward, as it should go forward.
Well, thank you for sharing that. I really like it. The mission will not work if you're not able to work. And as you say, it's really important to not forget that, if you're driving it, you also need to be as fit as possible. And the mission is always there. Thank you so much for sharing that. It's been a great pleasure to have you on the show. And I will be watching out to see your evolution. But I have to say in the past year that I've been following what you're doing. It's really amazing. And congratulations to you and your team for that. You're really making a great change.
Thank you so much Claire
Creating a platform that houses different forms of media, which tell different stories showing the human experience is truly an inspiring dream. And I am definitely looking forward to seeing this become a reality. In the meantime, you can check Gorm Media on their website at gormmedia.com and Gorm is spelled G O R M. Thank you so much for tuning in today. I appreciate you taking the time. That was episode 29; a conversation with Mamobo Ogoro. Make sure you leave us a review everywhere you listen to the podcast. And if you like what you hear, remember to share our show within your network. And also connect with us through our social handles or our website at narratives-of-purpose.podcastpage.io Until the next episode, take care of yourselves, stay well and stay inspired.