The New York Times bestselling author, speaker, and founder of the That Sounds Fun Network, a collection of podcasts, which includes her own 450-plus episode show, That Sounds Fun.
How did you start your career?
Annie F. Downs BSEd ’02: I wanted to write books before I knew podcasts were a thing. When I moved to Nashville, the goal was to write books, so I self-published. That got me a few opportunities to speak in front of small groups. When I finally got my first book published by a publishing house in 2012, writing and speaking became my full-time job.
The podcast started in 2014. Someone asked me to interview another author. They didn’t have a place to release it, so I mentioned my blog. Then they suggested I start a podcast and, hand to heaven, I said, “That sounds fun.”
Faith is a driving force behind everything you do. How do you translate that in the podcast?
Downs: Since my time at UGA, particularly because of the Wesley Foundation, faith is central in my life. It’s an important part of me, but there are other important parts, too. One of the things that matters most to me is that anyone who wants to listen feels welcome–even if they don’t agree with everything I say. We learn, we grow, and we change.
I am not afraid, ashamed or quiet about my faith, but I’m also not quiet about how I feel about international soccer. And I’m not quiet about how I feel about the Bulldogs. I’m not quiet about how I feel about anything. Everything I love, I love loudly. I’m proud of that.
This past year has been anything but fun. How have you approached it through your work?
Downs: I travel and speak, I write books, and I podcast. Two of those are things I can do in a lockdown situation. The benefit of doing podcasts is we get to be in people’s ears. So, for an entire year, I still had conversations that brought hope and joy, encouraged people to be healthy and find fun, and encouraged people to remember the good things in life.
To me, the year felt like an honor to be a content creator, particularly in the podcast space as we continued to be active in people’s lives as they were sorting out a world we’ve never lived in.
You and Shawlini Manjunath-Holbrook guested on each other’s podcasts. How did you connect? Did you talk about being Georgia grads?
Downs: When you share the University of Georgia with someone, it creates an automatic friendship and understanding of each other because you’ve been in Sanford Stadium and the Tate Center.
Shawl and I connected because she was doing a podcast about Hallmark Christmas movies, and I love Hallmark Christmas movies! She is an incredible interviewer and has such a strong presence on a podcast. I have learned a ton about how to be present in a conversation from being friends with Shawl.
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