BY A. CADWELL | OCTOBER 2016
Meet Shabnam Mogharabi, CEO of SoulPancake
SoulPancake, actor Rainn Wilson’s award-winning media and entertainment company, is one of the leading creators of inspiring, uplifting video content. We've been longtime fans of SoulPancake's work and their CEO, Shabnam Mogharabi, who's part general manager, part executive producer and often the dance party instigator at SoulPancake. Shabnam oversees a growing team of creative minds who produce video content in fun, uplifting ways. A former journalist, Shabnam has a longtime love for a good story. We were thrilled to hear more about her work at SoulPancake and her take on the direction of positive media and content creation.
FROM KID PRESIDENT TO THE TALK, WE RESONATE WITH SOULPANCAKE’S QUEST TO MAKE CONTENT THAT MATTERS. WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND SOULPANCAKE?
SoulPancake was created by actor Rainn Wilson (The Office, Six Feet Under) as a way to combat negativity online. He wanted to create a place to joyfully tackle life’s big questions and explore what it means to be human.
CAN YOU DESCRIBE SOULPANCAKE’S MISSION IN A SENTENCE?
Our mission is to create inspiring entertainment about stuff that matters. We want to uplift people and connect hearts through compelling, creative, quirky storytelling.
WITH OVER FIFTEEN YEARS OF EXPERIENCE IN DIGITAL MEDIA CREATING AWARD-WINNING CONTENT, WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT CREATING CONTENT THAT CELEBRATES HUMANITY AND CHAMPIONS CREATIVITY?
I think human beings are natural storytellers. The drawings of cavemen were our first stories, and it’s the way we’ve learned and connected for thousands of years since then. I think it’s a true skill to be able to tell an important story in an entertaining and uplifting way, and that genuinely excites me.
IT’S EASY TO FEEL LIKE NEGATIVE MEDIA FILLS OUR SCREENS AND AIRWAVES – HOW DO YOU SEE THE ROLE OF POSITIVE MEDIA BEGINNING TO GROW AND TAKE SHAPE IN OUR WORLD? HOW DID YOU ATTRIBUTE THIS TO YOUR MOST RECENT PROJECT, THE TALK?
There is a lot of crap in the world, and we are bombarded with negativity every day -- our goal has always been to create content and tell stories that are little pieces of light amidst all the other noise. We started doing this almost 8 years ago, and at the time, people told us we were nuts and too ‘feel good’ -- that no one would watch. But in the years since, I think there’s been a massive pendulum swing away from negativity and towards positivity online. People want to connect and have real conversations. They reward inspiring content and ‘good news’ with more likes and shares. So when Northwestern Mutual approached us about tackling the taboo around talking about money, we were excited to dive in and create something positive around a traditionally hard topic to talk about.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PROJECT YOU’VE HELPED TO BRING TO LIFE AT SOULPANCAKE?
I am so proud of all of our content and the diverse voices and formats we’ve been able to bring to life. If I had to choose one, I would probably say one of our earliest videos, “Give a Compliment, Get a Compliment.” In it, we invited pairs of unsuspecting people off the street to step into a phone booth and giant headphones and give each other compliments. In it, a daughter tells her mom: if I end up just like you, that would be the best thing to happen to me. Gets me every time -- so real, so relatable, and exactly how I feel about my own mom!
CONGRATULATIONS ON RECENTLY JOINING THE PARTICIPANT MEDIA FAMILY! WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR SOULPANCAKE AND WHAT EXCITING THINGS ARE AHEAD?
We are so excited about our partnership with Participant Media. Our company missions are so aligned, and it was such a natural fit. With our new friends, we’ll be able to make even more content and distribute it out to even larger audiences. The next few years are going to see us creating some amazing work. So get ready!