Day 47: How I’m Preparing to Interview Jonathan Arons for My Podcast

Melissa Llarena
4 min readDec 4, 2017


Working seven days a week from 545am to 930pm runs you ragged. Unless you are some sort of robot which I so wish I was…taking time off from work is essential. So welcome to Sunday, the day that I am taking off from work. This sentence is written with so much sarcasm however in my heart I know I will be better for writing everyday for the last 100 days.

Back to the central theme of this piece, just confirmed my podcast interview with Jonathan Arons and I am incredibly excited to learn more about him as a talent, his thoughts on race, sex, love, power, and his life mission.

This morning I decided to run to think about the questions I would ask Jonathan. Since he is a musician who attributes much of his success and that of other artist’s to the feeling of rage, I decided to set my playlist strategically.

As context, Jonathan is a white man who sings and dances within a predominantly non-white artist community. Straight from Jonathan’s bio, he says:

In Pop and R&B I’ve played with Alicia Keys, Jon Bon Jovi, Gloria Gaynor, Stevie Wonder, Usher, and Pharrell. In Jazz I’ve performed with Charles Mingus Big Band, The Vanguard Orchestra, and as a member of the Dave Holland Big Band on the 2005 Grammy winning Big Band album Overtime. In Salsa/Merengue, I’ve played with Cuco Valoy, Nino Segarra, Hector Tricoche, and Raulin Rosendo.

And so with his varied musical experience, I wanted to conjure up similar emotions in order to draft my questions for episode 3.

The songs I selected included:

Eminem’s Lose Yourself — I picked Eminem precisely because he was a white rapper amongst African American rappers.

Michael Jackson’s They Don’t Really Care About Us — I picked this gem because the media was constantly pushing the race issue with him as his skin-tone whitened through the years. The video is filmed in Brazil which again is known for it’s own cultural/racial diversity.

Janet and Michael Jackson’s — Scream — This is my go-to favorite, when I’m really pissed off. Jonathan during our flight mentioned that this emotion of rage helps him dance with greater precision and crispness. When I see the dance off these siblings have I cannot think of a more clean dance style — you can completely see each person’s full range of their joints in the video. I actually cry for their joints whenever I see them drop to the ground on their knees.

Lin-Manuel Miranda — It’s Almost Like Praying — I played this tune because Lin-Manuel was/is fed up with the US government’s lack of support to Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. Truthfully, I could have selected a Kanye West song following Hurricane Katrina and again highlighted a similar discontent with US federal relief efforts.

Justin Bieber — Despacito (Lyrics) ft. Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee — I picked this one because here are two Latin artists collaborating with a non-Latin sensation to make a hit record. Some folks are happy that the tune made it to the top of the charts and it being a Latin tune while others discredit the tune for it’s sexual undertones.

So here are some questions that popped up during my run that I may/may not ask Jonathan:

  1. In the book, The Artist’s Way, its author says that the only difference between an artist on a stage and a shadow artist who never really pursues her art is “audacity.” What’s your take on this?
  2. What were your goals back when you were at the Oberlin Observatory? Ever think you’d be charting your own path in music?
  3. Who are living mentors in any field?
  4. Your mom is a preschool educator and your dad worked on the Apollo shuttle. When and how did the trombone become your thing?
  5. Who do you consider your contemporaries?
  6. When you perform are you trying to be funny?
  7. Tell me about your thoughts on media perception. Can we be manipulated? Are we being manipulated? How are other artists being scripted/miscatogorized?
  8. Tell me about how you got to America’s Got Talent.
  9. Describe what it felt like to be voted off?
  10. Any starstruck moments?
  11. Any let downs…. in terms of thinking a star would be awesome and they were a dud?
  12. How does your dad explain to his friends in academia what you do?
  13. Tell me about your book. What did you learn about yourself as you’ve been writing the book? What did you wish you never learned about yourself as you went to your book writing process? Why 9 years?
  14. What’s your take on the starving or anguished artist?
  15. Job Interview Question: What’s your take on people who use their power to act unethically? But first, what’s your personal take on power?

Gary Vaynerchuk, this will officially be my third episode. Will you join me for five minutes during which time I’d love to ask you about your take on media perception — namely how we can control it and use it as part of our “hustle” strategy in the game we know and love of entrepreneurship?

Gary Vaynerchuk, #GaryVeeandJamesIStarted, join me for Episode 3. All I need is #5minutes.

James Altucher, #GaryVeeandJamesIStarted, join me for Episode 4. All I need is #5minutes.

About An Interview with Melissa Llarena the podcast

“An Interview with Melissa Llarena” is the podcast for executives who go after what they want with curiosity, creativity, and courage.

Hi, I’m Melissa. I’m a career strategist. I want to help you shift YOUR focus from landing a job at a Fortune 500 company to finally figuring out how you can build YOUR own billion-dollar career.

A billion-dollar career is one where you are in control of your destiny rather than one where an employer limits your career decisions. A career that let’s you explore your potential — fully. Sounds good? Then select any episode



Melissa Llarena

I coach executives on how to dissect & deliver a perfect #jobinterview @TuckSchool Author of №1 #HR interview @Forbes @LinkedIn #mom