On a long drive? What’s one good new idea you can develop on the road

Funny how when you don’t do something, it can feel special.

More than 9 in 10 Americans drive at least once a week and a majority commute daily by automobile. I don’t. One of my first burning desires to make part of my adult life was to not be reliant on a car.

I chose to live in a heavenly walkable neighborhood in one of our country’s few cities that can be truly lived in without a car. I sold my car. I bicycle to work, live near a major subway line and can walk to daily needs like a supermarket, doctor, veterinarian, barber and plenty of nightlife.

Cars are misused in cities and create weird parking culture. But I don’t hate cars. They’re a novelty to me now. So I’ve developed a little game when I’m in one.

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Do not save writing for later, more will come: ‘The Writing Life’ by Annie Dillard

The Writing Life,‘ a 1989 collection of essays from novelist Annie Dillard, is one of the foundational contributions to the canon of teaching modern fiction writing.

A few months ago, I finally tore through the tidy, celebrated, delightful little book, commonly known as the friendly, fiction alternative to the 1920 grammarian guide from Strunk and White. (Interestingly a New York Times book review took a dim view of her collection, but it’s cherished today.)

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Economics terms that help me understand the world

Since my undergrad years, I’ve taken an interest in the pop science of behavioral economics. From books and articles and podcasts aplenty, I’ve found the shallow edges of the social science quite helpful for my worldview.

The clearest result of that has been an entire set of familiar terms that help explain the world. These phrases have been valuable to me. I’d like to share them with you.

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What a kid should graduate high school knowing

Caught in a debate about whether or not software programming should be taught in schools, I wanted to start from a first principle. What do I think every American should graduate high school knowing?

Pulled out from pedagogy or educational theory, this became an exercise simply to explore what I felt was important.

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Build the habit of making habits: resolutions of mine that stuck

A friend asked me what I thought is the best skill to develop. Build the habit of habits, I told her.

That’s how you get the most out of yourself and your place. It won’t always work but if you develop the rigor and constitution to choose to add a habit and then go and do just that, you’ll be gold. That is how you develop discipline.

My method for doing this is my near obsessive approach to annual resolutions. Each year, I put forward a dozen of them, many straightforward goals but often several tied to habits I want to add to who I am. I tie them to individual months but in truth I plan to do many of them throughout the year and beyond.

Recently I was considering how many personality traits of mine I believe started as resolutions. I think they’re a good example of building the habit of building habits. I wanted to share.

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Privilege has nothing to do with how hard you work

version of this essay was published as part of my monthly newsletter a couple weeks back. Find other archives and join here to get updates like this first.

Privilege has nothing to do with how hard you work, or even what you deserve.

Among the many complexities we are confronting in our fist-flying, partisan online discourse, this is a translation issue. If you’re telling someone they’re privileged and you can’t understand why they get frustrated or tune you out, pause for a moment. Likewise, if you’re someone who has been called privileged and don’t understand why they ignore how hard you work, stop to consider.

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Employer Branding is central to your passive jobseeker strategy

I’ve been writing, speaking and thinking a lot about modern talent-attraction strategies.

Not long after speaking at a DisruptHR event to define passive jobseekers, I recently joined an Employee Cycle podcast episode to dive deeper into the conversation. Listen to it here.

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Don’t try to be Silicon Valley: a SXSW panel

I moderated a panel on the topic of cities branding their entrepreneurship ecosystems.

In case you haven’t heard my ranting before: I think it’s silly for cities to talk about being the Silicon Valley of anything. Find my rants here and here and here. Funny enough, I was leading that panel at SXSW, another important vibrant national tradition I don’t want cities to try to copy.

Below are some questions I asked and a wrap video from the Amplify Philly house, where I did the panel.

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9 examples of substance from nine years of Technically Media

My thoughtful coworkers brought in to the office a young Ben Franklin impersonator to discuss entrepreneurship and civic good in publishing last month. It was perhaps the most fun celebration of the ninth anniversary of starting what became Technically Media I could ask for.

(For some reason, someone shouted out that we should only have serious faces in the above photo. Believe me, we were having lots of fun.)

Afterward, I did a little Twitter rant I thought I’d save here for posterity.

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