My 2020 Resolutions

I have work to do. The progress I made in 2019 on a frustrating year of 2018 is incomplete, slowed by a few steps backward, despite considerable forward progress. So bring on 2020.

As is my custom, I’m publishing here my resolutions for 2020 to get a little bit closer to the person I want to be, and to hold myself accountable to those goals. Find my past resolutions here.

Continue reading My 2020 Resolutions

My 2019 Review

I roared into this year with a plan.

After a 2018 of mixed results, I intended 2019 to be different. In many ways it was. My company had a big Q1. I got personal time back. By the end of summer, though, a key hire that was a major part of my work strategy had their own major life change. My plans had to change. Work taxed me more than expected, and that had ripple effects in personal ways too.

Knowing what I was working toward, I was exhilarated for most of 2019. Yet I still ended the year tired and distracted by reestablishing plans I thought I already had set. This year I was reminded that leadership may start with setting a plan but it’s tested by reacting to inevitable changes to that plan. I did that. I’m at least a year wiser.

Below find both a recap of important milestones in my year, and, farther down, find a review of how I did on my 2019 Resolutions.

Continue reading My 2019 Review

What I did with my two-year term on Philly Startup Leaders

In late summer 2017, Bob Moore asked if I’d join the board of Philly Startup Leaders. I’d spent most of my early reporting career covering the nonprofit, and my organization Technical.ly had launched not long after that one.

Our organizational histories were quite co-mingled.  I had conditions and requests, all of which were in sync with Bob’s own plans in his new role as board chair. I began participating in an advisory role that fall amid considerable change, and I joined the PSL board formally in January 2018 for a two-year term. I came with my own plan and this month my formal term will conclude.

I’ve always found the organization important, a gathering of founders of companies in a city in need of just that. Here’s a review of how I believe I contributed to this nonprofit in my short tenure.

Continue reading What I did with my two-year term on Philly Startup Leaders

More Americans are coal miners than local journalists

It helps to understand economic change by comparing stories.

Naturally the visualization of the soot-covered coal miner is an evocative image of blue collar industry. Almost immediately as that image became a tool during the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, it became a political football.

To put the size of the coal industry in context, we were reminded that the middling fast food chain Arbys employed more people than the entirety of the coal industry. More journalists have lost their jobs than coal miners. To understand job losses in news-gathering, researchers asked, are journalists today’s coal miners?

Continue reading More Americans are coal miners than local journalists

Local and national media: once no difference, and now the central difference of newsrooms

One of the many economic ripple effects of the global scaling of the web has been an enormous rift between place-based and place-less news organizations.

As recent as the early 1990s, the business fundamentals of the Washington Post, the New York Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer weren’t all that different. They were all advertising and subscription businesses that used a newspaper model as its strategy, leveraging thick newsrooms to gobble up a high comprehension of readers in its audience segmentation.

The web has transformed this into what seems very obvious to you today. Despite the geography in their names, the Washington Post is read globally for insight into U.S. government affairs; the New York Times is read globally by an affluent tribe that identifies with its brand and the Philadelphia Inquirer is read regionally by those who want to access that geography’s largest and most influential newsroom.

Continue reading Local and national media: once no difference, and now the central difference of newsrooms

Media Funders: Value the difference between Creation and Distribution

This post will draw a very bright line between the Creation and Distribution of verified information for communities, and argue for that distinction’s importance for understanding today’s news-gathering and journalism climate.

One of my favorite pieces of business-reporting conventional wisdom is that everything in the economy is cyclical. It just depends on how big the circle is this time.

That goes for business building. As early web entrepreneur Jim Barksdale famously put it, “there’s only two ways I know of to make money: bundling and unbundling.”

Information gathering (what we roughly call “journalism” today) has been a strategy for businesses for half a millennia. In its early commercial forms, the act of gathering that information and the act of distributing it were essentially two different businesses. In Barksdale’s parlance, they were “unbundled.”

Continue reading Media Funders: Value the difference between Creation and Distribution

I was given the ‘Community Leadership Award’ by the Urban Affairs Coalition

I was given a ‘Community Leadership Award‘ by the Friends of the Coalition, a young leaders group associated with the influential Urban Affairs Coalition.

Knowing UAC’s reputation, I would have already been proud, but I was also surrounded by impressive company. My longtime friend Helen Ubinas, an Inquirer columnist, also received an award. That’s us smiling together in the above photo.

In introducing me, Kevin Harden, Jr. cited my work over the last 10 years in local journalism and community organizing, with a special focus on our adding Generocity.org to our existing Technical.ly work. He thought Generocity’s work was of particular importance.

Thanks also to Brandon Johnson, Felicia Harris and the other Friends of Coalition members, and UAC Executive Director Sharmain Matlock-Turner and the entire UAC team.

Here are the simple remarks I jotted down and shared to a group of 100 or so, at a reception following UAC’s 50th annual breakfast.

Continue reading I was given the ‘Community Leadership Award’ by the Urban Affairs Coalition

Try a ‘Laser Day Weekend’ for dropping projects

I let projects accumulate. Consider it enthusiasm.

That means I’ll let 100 draft posts bottle up on this blog. I’ll sit on too many drafts of newsletters. I’ll get a household project half-way done.

In truth, I consider this habit of mine a healthy one for getting things done: I’ll always get myself to take the first step of a project. Sometimes though something will linger too long.

To solve for that, every few months, I’ll try to protect some time and call for a ‘Laser Day Weekend,’ in which I shut down, delete, end, complete, finish or discard lingering projects. I take a very different mindset when my intention is to finish a thing.

Once I get on a role, I can pick up steam and get plenty done. Give it a try, the frame of reference helps plenty.

Ways I combat my amassing lots of unused clothing

Between family hoarding tendencies and being surrounded by company swag, I tend to collect more articles of clothing than I need. Fortunately, like most of America, I’m passed peak-closet.

I’ve built up some habits that gently help me keep myself under control.

Know your thrift store

Loving a nearby thrift store helps plenty. It feels good to donate, and then find something you love there.

One for one

I maintain a fairly rigorous donating of one item if I bring a new one in.

No seasonal switchout

I keep all of my clothes in a single closet, no seasonal boxes. That keeps me honest and offers a fixed constaint.

Month of purging

I occasionally do purges of a thing for each day of the month (meaning, one thing on the first day of the month; 15 on the 15th, etc.) and these put a lot of pressure on me to unload those freebie t-shirts that have piled up.

Must-use

Every year or so, I try the reverse hanger trick, in which I flip a hanger around for a garment I’ve used. If I go through an entire season and something hasn’t been worn, it’s got to go.

Does it ‘spark joy’

If not, toss it. That’s the tidying classic. I try to use it too.