Mark Todd: Architect, Artist, Conversationalist

Mark Todd is a local architect who designs buildings that become a meaningful part of people’s lives and the places they inhabit. He’s also a coffee-lover, music-fanatic, a fellow resident in Ormeau Baths. Over the last year or so, Mark and I have had the weirdest and most wonderful spontaneous conversations in corridors, kitchens and cafes. The more I’ve gotten to know him, the more I find him to be a kindred spirit and one of the most interesting conversationalists I know.

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Matthew Thompson
Peter Dixon: The Man Who Brought Natural Gas To Northern Ireland

Peter Dixon grew up in an Irish Catholic family in Liverpool.  After leaving school at 16 without any professional qualifications, he worked as a gas fitter, a plumber and a welder. But through a lot of hard work and volunteering for jobs nobody else wanted, Peter began to rise through the ranks of management. Against all the odds, Peter landed a huge opportunity with British Gas and ended up spearheading the colossal task of bringing natural gas to Northern Ireland for the first time in the 90s.

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Matthew Thompson
Claire Leese: Fashion Stylist, Game Of Thrones, Archive 12

Claire Leese is a fashion stylist from Belfast, Northern Ireland. After spending the early days of her career in London working in the music industry with artists like The Darkness and Lilly Allen, Claire returned to NI just in time to work on the pilot of Game Of Thrones. She then went on to have a very successful and fast-paced career working on Thrones for five seasons.

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Matthew Thompson
Max Mackin, Polio-Survivor, Entrepreneur, Movie-Buff.

Max Mackin is an entrepreneur and movie buff from Belfast, Northern Ireland. As probably the last person in the UK to contact Polio, Max had a very short-lived school career. But at 18-years-old — with no real experience or qualifications — Max moved to London to seek his fortune. After stumbling into a career in recruitment, he painstakingly worked his way up through the company and left as the Head of UK Operations. 

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Matthew Thompson
Norman Surplus, First Man to Circumnavigate the World in an Autogyro

Norman Surplus is a pioneer from Larne, Northern Ireland. He’s also a video game designer, wind-farmer, lifeboat captain, log-cabin builder, cancer survivor and most recently the first man to circumnavigate the world in an autogyro. Known as a gyrocraft or gyrocopter, these nifty flying machines are a cross between a helicopter and a motorbike. In 2010, Norman set out from his hometown Larne on a journey that would take him all around the world — and in a bizarre turn of events — nine years to complete.

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Matthew Thompson
Nadine Patterson, Puppet-Maker

Nadine Patterson is a puppet-maker from Northern Ireland. From making models as a child to working in the puppet hospital on a Tim Burton movie set, Nadine has one of the most interesting stories we’ve ever featured on the podcast. Her passion for art and working with tiny things has led her all over the world and put her in contact with some of the biggest names in the film industry (including Wes Anderson for his latest movie Isle Of Dogs).

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Matthew Thompson
Colin Williams, Sixteen South

Colin Williams is the BAFTA-winning children’s television creator, showrunner and writer behind Sixteen South — a production company that has produced 450+ episodes for networks like Disney Junior, CBeebies, Nick Jr, Hulu, PBS Kids and much, much more. Colin & company have picked up over 50 international awards including two EMMY® nominations, a British Animation Award, the coveted Prix Jeunesse and a BAFTA for the Best Independent Production Company.

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Matthew Thompson
Living With Arthritis At 18-Years-Old — Katrina Cairns (#73)

Katrina Cairns is one of the youngest people we’ve ever had on the podcast. She’s also the first person I’ve ever met with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA). At 14-years-old Katrina unexpectedly developed chronic pain in her knees, elbows, fingers, neck, hips and toes… and after a challenging year of doctors not knowing why, she was finally diagnosed with early-onset Arthritis, something that according to Katrina, is much more common than you think. 

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Matthew Thompson
Podcast With Entrepreneur Pete Boyle: Argento & Let’s Go Hyrdo (#71)

n this week’s show we have the absolute privilege of sitting down with one of Northern Ireland’s most experienced and successful entrepreneurs: Pete Boyle. Pete Boyle started Argento in 1997 after selling jewellery on the streets of Belfast. Blessed with an excellent eye, and natural entrepreneurial flare, the Strabane family man travelled the world sourcing the best jewellery, in South America, Asia and beyond.

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Matthew Thompson
Sarah Friar: Building Community In The Digital Age (#70)

Sarah Friar is from Sion Mills, Northern Ireland. She’s also the CEO of Nextdoor, a free private social network whose goal is to get you connected to your neighbours. Prior to serving as Nextdoor’s CEO, Sarah was CFO of Square a tech company who under Sarah’s leadership, launched its initial public offering in 2015 and added $30Bn in market cap. Before her time at Square, Sarah worked with some of the biggest names on the planet including Salesforce, Goldman Sachs, McKinsey and even spent some time working on a gold mine in Ghana.

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Matthew Thompson
Live Podcast With Andrew Trimble (#69)

Andrew Trimble is a “retired egg chaser, entrepreneur and podcaster.” That’s the bio he gave us anyway.

The former Ulster and Ireland rugby star played over 250 professional games before retiring in 2018 to pursue business. After meeting his now co-founder Gareth Quinn (see episode #39), Trimble is now the CEO of Kairos, a sports-tech startup who exists to organise players hectic schedules to allow them to be fully present on game day and perform at their highest ability.

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Matthew Thompson
Artificial Intelligence & T-Shirts: Sarah Mcbride From Cross & Freckle (#68)

Despite being only 23-years-old, Ballymena born & bred Sarah Mcbride has already worked with Google, Nokia, a VC firm in NYC — and launched a t-shirt company that doesn’t exist… While holding her current marketing role at Betaworks, Sarah has been using her “spare time” to create Cross & Freckle: an AI t-shirt company that has garnered global media attention and coverage from the likes of Product Hunt and WIRED Magazine.

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Matthew Thompson
Terry George: The Oscar-Winning Director From Belfast

Terry George is an Oscar-winning film director from Belfast, Northern Ireland, known for movies like Hotel Rwanda, The Shore, In The Name Of The Father and much, much more. After serving a term in Long Kesh prison in his youth, Terry moved to NYC where he started working as a journalist and writing on the side for theatre. From there, he went on to write and direct his own films, working with some of the greatest actors in the world including Christian Bale, Helen Mirren, Daniel Day-Lewis, Sophie Okonedo, Joaquin Phoenix and Don Cheadle.

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Matthew Thompson
Jack & Sean From The Dead Rabbit: The Best Bar In The World

Jack McGarry is the youngest-ever International Bartender of the Year. Sean Muldoon is admired/feared throughout the bar world for his vision, drive and insane attention to detail. Before opening The Dead Rabbit in 2013, the two met while working at The Merchant Hotel in Belfast. During their time there, The Merchant became the first bar outside the US to be named World’s Best at Tales of the Cocktail. From that moment on, Jack & Sean wanted to create a bar with the world-class service of a five-star hotel combined with an Irish pub’s down-to-earth, bustling atmosphere.

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Matthew Thompson
Geraldine Hughes: West Belfast To The West End, To Broadway & Beyond

Geraldine Hughes is an actor from West Belfast, Northern Ireland known for her performances in Rocky Balboa, Gran Torino, Harry Potter & The Cursed Child and much, much more. After moving to the States to study when she was 18, Geraldine’s journey is one of grit, determination and success. In recent years, Geraldine has been turning to writing and producing, with her multi-award-winning play Belfast Blues coming to The Lyric Theatre this week.

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Matthew Thompson
Slay The Dragon: How To Live Out Your Heroes Journey

‘The Heroes Journey’ is an age-old step by step model used to describe the process a person has to go through to experience success. First discovered by Joseph Campbell, the cycle can be found in almost every story/myth/religion on the planet, and is often used by storytellers to create characters that resonate with us. But what can we learn from The Heroes Journey? How can we apply it to our lives?

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Matthew Thompson
The Making Of A Chief Executive: Suzanne Wylie, Belfast City Council

Suzanne Wylie has been Chief Executive of Belfast City Council for 5 years.  Having worked for the council for over 30 years, Suzanne progressed from working as an Environmental Health Officer to the top leadership position. In her time as CX, she has been responsible for negotiating an £850 million city deal with the UK government to deliver on an ambitious set of projects spanning across Life & Health Sciences, Creative Industries, Advanced Manufacturing, digital development, smart districts, tourism regeneration and much much more.

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Matthew Thompson
Meet Grace Chambers: The 91-Year-Old Parkrunner (#58)

Grace Chambers is a 91 year-old with a passion for quilt-making and travelling. She’s also a record-breaking member of the Ormeau Park Parkrun. After spending her childhood in the rural countryside of Northern Ireland, Grace went on to have a very successful career in education that eventually led her to Barbados. In today’s show Grace shares some wisdom from her jam-packed, adventure-filled life with plenty of great stories along the way.

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Matthew Thompson
Virtual Reality & Decision-Making with Cathy Craig from Incisiv (#57)

Cathy Craig is a Professor of Experimental Psychology at Ulster University, but she’s also the CEO of INCISIV: a sports technology company that helps players make more match winning decisions. Cathy was the first in the world to use Virtual Reality to study decision-making in sport and has worked with some of the top atheletes in the world. Having a burning desire to get her research out of the lab, she’s embarked on an entrepreneurial journey that has led to Incisvs’s first product: a VR platform that trains goalkeepers to make more saves called Cleansheet.

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Matthew Thompson
A Once In A Lifetime Conversation With Foy Vance (#56)

Since his first album in 2007, Foy’s music has been known and loved all over the world and alongside selling-out his own tours the last decade has played alongside some of the greatest musicians alive including Ed Sheeran, Elton John and Alicia Keys. But in November 2017, something unusual happened. Foy walked off stage after playing the Union Chapel in London without having another gig lined up in the diary for the first time in 20 years.

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Matthew Thompson