Long a believer in the importance of the nascent civic technology community, I’ve been a fan of national nonprofit Code for America. So I was thrilled for the chance to support the group in producing its first ever Brigade Congress, a national unconference focused on civic tech, last month.
I first met Miami founder Michael Hall in early 2016 when I reported a feature on and hosted an event with the entrepreneurship community there. Since then, I’ve spent time with him a handful of times, at SXSW, over dinner and during another pair of trips I made to Miami.
He’s a charming and humble explorer in his and other startup communities, friendly enough to share with others what he learns along the way. So I was tickled to join him on the second season of his popular on-going weekly video podcast interview series called 2Techies, in which he interviews others involved in tech communities.
See it here, or watch it below with a few notes from our conversation.
Be more explicit with your team when you’re offering an opinion, a recommendation or stating a direct ask. Otherwise, a teammate might not know whether you’re sharing an idea or a demand.
It’s something I’m still learning and something I shared when I was interviewed on a podcast called ‘The Blind Entrepreneur.”
Host Johnathan Grzybowski helpfully has fuller show notes on the site here, where you can watch the episode. Find it below too.
From its origins, I was certainly around the Philly Geek Awards, organized by a volunteer group surrounding the local culture blog Geekadelphia, run by a handful of my friends. But it was mostly from afar, sometimes speaking and being silly with them.
In 2016, as sometimes happens with volunteer efforts, the annual black-tie-meets-cosplay event was thrown into jeopardy, as several of its organizers had moved away in a sudden and similar cycle. It had no one to lead its organization, so I volunteered our team to keep the tradition alive. It was a real risk for our organization and the brand overall, but it felt important to keep the event moving. We pieced it together, with a rushed venue relationship and tricky catering limitations, and though it was far from perfect, we kept the tradition alive.
This weekend our Technically Media team, with the support of a volunteer planning committee, brought the event back to what it was meant to be — a highly produced, sold-out celebration of passionate subcommunities with civic pride in spades.
Following my taking over the CEO role of the company I cofounded Technically Media, I appeared on a popular podcast focused on that very transition.
The show called ‘From Founder to CEO‘ is hosted by Todd Uterstaedt, who interviewed me over Skype.
For the fourth time, I interviewed Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney on stage, for the third time during Philly Tech Week, the event series I help organize annually. This took place back in early May: find coverage from Technical.ly Philly here.
It’s a kind of journalism I’m embracing for a community I represent.
Technology isn’t an industry. It’s an approach.
That was something I offered in an episode of this NBC 10 series called “Growing Greater Philadelphia” on the region’s economic development. I also noted that the city is no longer suffering a brain drain problem — it’s more about mid-career professionals. Watch a clip below or the whole episode here, and other pieces in the series.
I’m a first time entrepreneur, having cofounded a niche publishing company. For more than eight years, I have been among those most responsible for the organization’s longterm strategy. For most of those years, I played the role of public face, among the first to serve very nearly all the roles we now have. We have a team of more than 20 and invoiced for nearly $1.7 million in 2016, all of which I feel responsible for supporting and growing.
But only today did I take on the title of CEO.
No one had ever held the title at our organization before. In an era championing entrepreneurship and fetishizing the young and the innovative, we are quick to anoint untested first time founders as chief executives. How many one person or four person companies do you know with a first-time CEO? It’s meant to offer clarity and it’s a great resume line. I am going to tell you why I think that’s a mistake. It’s also why it took me eight years to feel comfortable calling myself an organization’s CEO.
That means I internalized a lot of advice from athletes, whether or not they actually ever said them (sports quotes are full of apocryphal and fictitious claims). I was amused recently to think of a handful of very-90s-era memories I have about lessons from North American sports legends. In addition to being stuck in time, this collection is funny because I am so far from a knowledgeable sports fan today.
So these are corny for all sorts of reasons. Yet I do find myself thinking of these even today.
Economic empowerment in underdeveloped communities can benefit from the wonkily named federal New Market Tax Credit program. Now often used for property development, it has a legacy with supporting operating businesses in economically depressed parts of the country.
I spoke last month at the 16th annual New Market Tax Credits conference held in Miami, and I offered perspective on how tech communities are growing up adjacent to these communities of need.