Balancing legacy and money in professional sports has lessons for the rest of us

The legacy of your work has a value harder to compare with pure money, so we should try our best to incorporate that in our professional decision making.

I’m not a professional athlete. That may surprise many of you.

Still, without any real awareness of the experience, I find myself scratching my head whenever a big name, well-paid professional athlete chooses more money over legacy. In most cases, it seems ill-advised.

I understand that with injuries threatening livelihood, athletes are smartly coached to get what upfront money they can as soon as they can. And I understand that there is often a mind-boggling amount of money on the table, but they seem to be facing on only one axis of success.

When Albert Pujols signed a quarter of a billion dollar, 10-year contract with the major market Los Angeles Angels, leaving the devoted St. Louis Cardinals after 11 seasons, I wasn’t surprised. (In fact, the Pujols’s wife seems more surprised, saying they had never wanted to leave St. Louis but the club wouldn’t offer a long enough, guaranteed deal.)

But if the celebrated and beloved Pujols becomes a target for boos and taunts, he’ll have to assess how much money an attack to his legacy is worth.

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What would the Founding Fathers think of Facebook?: I’m moderating a panel at the National Constitution Center on privacy and the social web

I’m moderating a panel on privacy, security and democracy concerns surrounding the social web at the National Constitution Center in Old City, Philadelphia next Thursday.

You should come. More details here. It costs $10 for non-members.

Number of Views:5933

Why politicians cheat: five reasons that should leave us unsurprised by campaign affairs

When the inevitable annual news story comes out about the latest politician having cheated on his wife, people question why leaders cheat.

There are some obvious reasons to me:

  1. Long campaign hours — Same as workaholics, being away from home offers a lot of opportunity for philandering.
  2. Lots of people interaction — When campaigning and legislating, you deal with a lot of people.
  3. Charismatic, passionate leaders — Elections attract people who often have the attractive qualities.
  4. Sense of entitlement — Those who do good, big work (like legislators) can easily convince themselves that they’re owed a little wrong.
  5. You’re the boss — In interviews and campaigning and voting and such, legislators are taught to make and stand by their decisions. Not all of them are the right ones.
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How the sources for story ideas change for a niche news site through three years

In three years at Technically Philly, I’ve noted a change in the sources that bring me the ideas for the stories I do. It made me think if it’s a trend that other niche media follow.

In order to develop a baseline, I did some estimating and created some crude graphs roughly looking at where my story ideas have come from in each of the first three years of operation.

In late 2009, I was interested in projecting out what types of content a hyperlocal news site might aspire to have, and this feels like a sensible follow up. I should be clear, of course, that these numbers are entirely made up, based on nothing more than a brief perusal of archives and memory.

In short, the two biggest trends I feel have happened are that (a) we rely considerably less on other media than we did when we started and (b) many, many more people reach out to us directly than in the beginning. OK, that may seem obvious.

Perhaps more interesting is my overall assessment that, despite what I might want to believe, relatively few stories are based purely on a hunch, a thesis or an idea of mine. They happen — and I’m proud when they do — but, like journalists have always been, my role is still more to give context and connect dots.

Find the graphs and breakdowns below.

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My 2012 professional resolutions with a focus on RISK; review 2011 goals

A year ago, I felt scattered. I wanted to focus in 2011, and I think, as a full-time employee of my own business with clearer goals and objectives, I have accomplished that.

As detailed below, I feel very proud of the success I had in meeting my professional resolutions for the year. So, it’s important to me that I do so again, which I also did below.

In them, I’d say the theme for my 2012 is RISK.

It’s time to risk fast or succeed for me professionally. I want to be more aggressive in business and outreach, now with a more stable company and clearer focus.

I’ll set goals to do so, but it’s also worth reviewing what has been a wonderful year. Here are some professional milestones not included in my planned resolutions below:

Below, see my 2012 resolutions and a review of how I did with my 2011 goals too.

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Four Temperaments of Parenthood: Story Shuffle 10 audio

Story Shuffle 10 happened this month and the theme of Parents offered a handful of interesting stories.

See them all here or listen to mine below.

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Social entrepreneurship: how Philadelphia could have a regional distinction for startups

Philadelphia, like any other city that wants to compete in a global marketplace, needs a regional distinction that sets it apart, and in this place, nothing makes more sense than for Philadelphia to define itself as the hub for social entrepreneurship and urban renewal.

Around the world, our hubs of innovation and culture, of education and community are densest and most alive in cities. All of the truly great problems of our time — war and crime and poverty and disease and education and violence and racism and hunger and employment — are either exacerbated by or housed most primarily in our cities.

As a country, if the United States intends to continue to play some form of a major role in the future, the sense seems to be that we will need to do that by continuing to be smarter. Adaptability, industrial might and military strength have served us well, but we need to look for the next train.

Entrepreneurship and the spirit that came out of World War II federal funding (largely in Philadelphia first) helped define the last quarter century of American cultural impact. At a time of high unemployment and a sluggish economy, high technology and scale is meant to be that next train.

So cities do a lot of hand wringing about how to replace widgets with gadgets.

The trouble is that, as a friend put it, if Silicon Valley represents the overwhelming majority of investment in the country, and New York City is in second place, then just about every other city that is even trying is in third place.

How should Philadelphia (like any other big city) try to stand out?

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Whitetown USA: 1968 book on the ‘silent majority’ of poor urban whites by Peter Binzen

Sitting with Whitetown USA author Peter Binzen and PlanPhilly Editor Matt Golas.

Prideful, working class white ethnic neighborhoods in cities have been ignored and poorly represented for at least a half century, goes a major theme of Peter Binzen’s 1968 Whitetown USA dissection. [Google Books here.]

Written by a former Philadelphia Bulletin newspaper reporter with whom I was thrilled to have lunch last month, the book attacks the principle that whites are a monolithic group of privilege. Binzen, a former education reported, focuses heavily on the school system in the book to tell a tale of why working class and even upwardly mobile middle class whites were opposed to affirmative action and other social welfare programs perceived to help blacks.

The first third of the book features the similarities of Whitetowns from cities across the country: white neighborhoods often with many recent immigrants that are working class, prideful of place, protective, provincial, conservative and often seen as bigoted. The rest dives deepest into Kensington, a decaying industrial corridor then and a decayed shell today, and its adjacent Fishtown, a smaller, more residential neighborhood where I now live.

As I often am eager to do, I wanted to share some of my favorite passages and thoughts from the soft cover copy I tore through:
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Prediction: my children will care less about technology than I do

These are not my kids. I don't even have kids. This is a photo I found online of a bunch of kids using laptops. It's meant to be mildly representative of where we are today, in shoving digital technology in everyone's hands.

Two premises:

(a) Generations are cyclical.

(b) Technology is everything we were alive to see invented.

If my peers today are a part of an incredible age of change and innovation, when what is new is what matters most, I believe that my children’s generation in 20 years or so, will be characterized by rebelling against what is new — if that doesn’t happen sooner. (I don’t have kids yet, but I might have ‘em someday and so I’m talking broadly)

What is considered technology today — things like web-based communication, geo location-centric discovery and adaptable information gathering — will not be abandoned necessarily (because those will be everyday tools 20 years from now) but I do believe consumer interest will go elsewhere from the newest and latest around technology in as obsessive a fashion. New ideas fuel consumer interest, but I suspect my kids won’t care about technology in the same way we do today.

What will replace technology, well, I’m not quite sure yet.

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