Kristian de Groot

Hey everyone! I'm a teacher and podcaster. I spend most of my time learning Czech, improving my English, creating podcast episodes and, of course, teaching.
I loved this episode, not in the least because of, and I quote here:

It is a pretty interesting story, and it’s always nice to hear a story where almost everyone seems to win, and nobody needs to have their head cut off or be stabbed in the back.
It's true, and in fact, it's almost unbelievable, so now I'm curious to learn more about this family and Florence.

This episode reminds me of the fact that there's so much interesting history on the European continent. In the 90s I always wanted to visit other continents, but nowadays I'm more eager to explore Europe*. Especially now the EU is under pressure and some people tend to forget how much violence there was on the continent, before the EU was set up.

*That might be another reason why I chose Prague as my new home base.

Anyone with knowledge about the history of Florence or the Medici family, don't hesitate to share it here.

On a different note: 
Alastair, I'm really curious to hear more about 1) your research process in general, and 2) how you learnt to transform epic events that span across centuries into 18 minute stories.

It's an interesting podcast topic. Maybe I'll invite you one day to talk about it with me on my podcast... ;)

So, a few points.

I’m glad you found it interesting. I do too, and there is obviously a load more to say than I managed to fit into that episode. The early part of the Medici is the most interesting to me, but the struggle to get a foothold into the papacy is equally fascinating, and there is heaps more to say about their patronage of the arts.

Re: exploring Europe, certainly. For those of us who live in Europe, it’s easy not to realise quite how spoilt we are. I remember realising this for the first time on an ERASMUS exchange, and all the Americans would spend every weekend doing trips to different European cities/countries. They couldn’t believe that so much variety/history was so close. As a European (no jokes about being British please :) ) it’s easy to overlook how easy this all is was.

Re: how I actually research/make the episodes, I don’t think there’s really a secret sauce, but it normally goes something like this:

  1. With most of the topics done so far, I knew something about the subject beforehand. With some of them I knew a lot (The Aral Sea, Bullshit Jobs, The Great Game), others I was interested in and knew enough to know that it could make for an interesting episode.
  2. Research, research, research. Online this will be a mix of opinion articles, Brittanica / Wikipedia (for the more historical ones), then I’ll normally read parts or in some cases, all, of the most interesting books I can find on the subject. And complement that with some other research papers if it’s a more complicated subject. It’s amazing how error-filled lots of news articles can be…Wikipedia is fine for an overview, but where it’s actually useful is the sources in the footnotes.
  3. Then I’ll try to compress my notes into a structure that makes sense, given the constraints of the podcast (I try not to go above 20 mins). I think they have improved in terms of structure. If it’s a historical subject (e.g. The Medici), I’ll try to give some background, tell the most important parts of the story, include some juicy and interesting details (e.g. the attempted murder of Lorenzo), talk about the impact that this story has had on the world, and that’s normally about it. If it’s a more debatable subject, I’ll try to put across the points of both sides. Evidently, when trying to put everything into a relatively short part, there is a lot that gets cut out, but I try to include some of the most interesting/important parts of the story.
  4. Write it all out, rewrite it with fresh eyes.
  5. Then (the unsung hero in the entire process) my wife reads every one and corrects it and provides feedback.
  6. And that’s it.

Yes, I was also wondering how they got a foothold into the papacy (4 popes!), and after I had listened to the brilliant Caravaggio-episode I was even more surprised at how this family achieved so much power.

Re: your answer in how you make episodes, it's super interesting and helpful. I'm very tempted to go much deeper into this topic, but I noticed you have a special section called Leonardo English life, so maybe it's better if we continue this topic over there? 

Alastair Budge replied
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Kristian de Groot loved your perception and in your own phrasing "how you learnt to transform epic events that span across centuries into 18 minute stories". I'm always amazed and wondering how Alastair Budge manages it too! 

Hi everyone, I'm Kristian 👋

I'm originally from the Netherlands, but now I live in Prague, the Czech Republic.

A few months ago I got the opportunity to introduce myself on the Leonardo English blog, so a link to that article is probably the easiest way to introduce myself:

Fun fact about me: I'm an early bird. At least five days per week I get up at 4am. When they made face-masks mandatory in Prague early March, I decided to start my workout at 4am, because I didn't want to run with a mask. Now I'm used to getting up early in the morning and I don't want to go back to my old routine. I'm super productive in the morning. However, I do take a nap when I get tired... ;)

Other fun fact: last week I've started a podcast myself. Alastair was one of the people who inspired me to take the plunge :)

I'm stoked to see this community up and running. From the moment I started listening to the podcast, I was interested in getting to know other listeners. 

Many thanks for setting this up!

P.S. If you read this and you have any questions for me, just ask :)
Nice to meet you Kristian! 

Can I ask: how did you get in the habit of waking up at 4:00 am? Did it happen naturally or was it something you worked at? 

I'm aware that there are lots of people that say waking up so early is amazing for productivity (now including you!), so I am becoming a little more interested in considering it...
Hi Ramsay,

Thanks, likewise!

I used to get up between at 5:30am to go out for a run. Then early March wearing a face-mask on the streets became mandatory in Prague. However, I didn't want to run with a face-mask so I thought, let's get up at 4am when nobody is on the streets.

That's how it started. Now, keep in mind I still need my 7 hours of sleep. So usually I fall asleep around 10pm and I get up at 4am. That's six hours. And then, between 11am and 1pm I take a long break to sleep again and to have lunch. After 1pm I'm good to go and can do some deep work again. 

I do this four workdays a week. Wednesday is usually a 5am workday.   

I think the main difference for me, is that I have now two opportunities per day to do deep work, like learning a language. Right after my run and breakfast and right after my "siesta" and lunch. :)

P.S. I can't do this without the break. I really need my 7 hours sleep per day. 
Hey everyone,

I apologise for being “a bit spammy” today, but I’ve got something special to share with you:

Today I’m launching my podcast! It’s scary and exciting at the same time... I hope you will check it out. You can get it on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, or listen on my website. See links below.

If you check it out, let me know what you think. You can comment here, send me an email, or DM me. 

Also, if you have family or friends who could benefit from listening to the podcast, then please do share it. 

I want to help as many people as possible, so every podcast rating, review, share, retweet, like and subscribe helps to spread the word.

Thanks for your support! :-)

Best, Kristian
Alastair Budge replied
  ·  3 replies