3 trends I learned this year that totally shook my understanding of the American economy

I learn new big foundational truths every year. Yet for some reason, three trends in particular that I learned this year meaningfully shifted how I understood my country, in particular the work I do in reporting and organizing around economic development.

They’re so important and telling that I admit I’m a little embarrassed I only really understood them this year.

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“I want a thousand 100-person companies”: a few notes on my part of a profile on Curalate CEO Apu Gupta

Writer John Marchese profiled Apu Gupta, the CEO and cofounder of image intelligence startup Curalate, in Philadelphia magazine this month. It’s a good piece, so read it.

(Last year, Phillymag kindly profiled my cofounder and I too )

I’ve followed Apu and Curalate since their earliest days and been long eager to discuss entrepreneurship ecosystem building in the Philadelphia region — as I do in a dozen other communities in the country. (Find Technical.ly coverage of Apu and Curalate, including the offices we shared).

Business communities need to grow new, dynamic companies. In a still young Philly tech startup sector, we’ve asked the question of whether Curalate will be that region’s next big story, as part of building its scene further.

So in trying to contextualize Apu’s importance, John joined me at our annual Super Meetup this summer and asked me some questions. I wanted to share a few more thoughts on the piece.

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How to officiate your friend’s wedding

Wedding traditions are changing. Having a friend officiate is becoming more common. If you’re not after a religious ceremony, this is a personal and intimate option.

I’m thrilled to say last month I got the chance to do this for the first time, for one of my best friends and his delightful fiancee. (The above photo is by LOVE + WOLVES CO)

Here’s what I learned about getting it done.

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What I’ve learned hosting travelers with Airbnb for a year 

Of all the buzzy web companies that will define my generation, Airbnb is likely the one I’m most jealous of not creating.

As a traveler and host on Couchsurfing.org since 2008, like millions I missed the too-obvious opportunity that people would pay for a better experience with a similar global community. It’s brilliant and connective and exciting and has a solid revenue plan — and if it has become the primary example of racial bias in the sharing economy, that’s something to be corrected, not a reason for it to be destroyed (Likewise, criticism of it driving up rental costs is probably not true yet)

I joined the peer-to-peer housing platform in December 2011 and took my first trip using the service in February 2012 to Birmingham, Alabama with my then girlfriend SACM. More than four years later, I continue using the service to book travel accommodations, preferring the service for homey placements in residential neighborhoods with hosts who can give local recommendations. I just find it far more interesting than a hotel — it helps that they’re almost always more affordable too.

So I was excited that I could combine these interests — welcoming guests, offering advice and making some additional money — as an Airbnb host when SACM and I bought a home together a year ago.

Last month marked a year of our hosting guests via Airbnb. To celebrate, I wanted to share lessons, advice and, yes, data from the experience.

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Listen to my recording at the 4th annual Philadelphia Podcast Festival

Since May 2010, I’ve organized a regular storytelling event among friends called Story Shuffle. Each of the last four years I’ve brought a few of my friends together to record a Story Shuffle during the Philadelphia Podcast Festival.

It happened again.

The event is organized by Nathan Kuruna, an audiophile and photographer — the above photo and these on Facebook (all podfest photos from him here) are from him via his Click Save Photography shop, so give him a look. Earlier this month, the fourth annual was held in part at Amalgam Comics and Coffeehouse in Kensington.

Below listen to the stories I told on Saturday, Aug. 20 with my friends startup savant Archna Sahay, art curator Uri Pierre Noel and documentarian El Sawyer.

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I donated to a political campaign for the first time in my life

Let’s start with scale: I attended a political fundraiser and wrote a check for $250.

Next, consider context: it was for someone I’ve known for longer than I can remember, among the closest of my family friends, who lived a few houses down from me when I was just a few months old.

Even still, I actually agonized a bit about the decision. Journalism is a thicket of rules and expectations and among the loudest is to stay objective in politics and distant from the money that feeds it. I was worried my donating would cloud the work I do as editorial director at niche publisher Technically Media. Here’s why I decided it was the right decision.

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A list of one thing I learned each day of June 2016

I wanted to get a sense of the kind of things I learn on any given day. So I spent the month of June writing down one specific thing I learned each day.

My goal was for them to be actionable and easily transferable, hoping to identify just how regularly I am learning such things. It was fun. Let me share, from reading, watching, talking and traveling — like to the Great Lakes last month, as depicted above.

I love the idea of learning meaningfully all the time. Here’s my latest check on myself.

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Listen to this small business podcast interview with me

PR shop 2820 Press founder Joe Taylor Jr. hosts a podcast with small business owners called the Build.He invited me on.

I talked about the beginning of Technically Media and about my perspective on journalism and its role in our work. It’s an hour-long conversation you can find here.

Below are some highlights I shared:

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