Eleven lessons that shaped how I live my life

It came to mind that I toss around a handful of phrases with enough frequency and a long enough time that I feel they have sufficiently affected how I orient myself to what is around me.

Maybe some will have meaning to you.

  1. Fifty percent of people are better off than you, and 50 percent are worse off — It’s one of the more powerful sentiments that my father instilled in me. While I am probably even more privileged than that, the value is limitless.
  2. No judging in brainstorming — The worst thing for collaboration or friendship or teamwork or success or for anything is to question someone’s willingness to share an idea with condescension or criticism. Be kind to those who share their ideas and work with them.
  3. Make a list and keep it — Keep yourself accountable by listing goals, resolutions, priorities and the like. And then stick to them. Promises made, forgotten and never kept are of no value.
  4. Say ‘I don’t know’ and ask questions — If you don’t know something, admit it and ask the question that helps you find out.
  5. In almost all cases, it’s not as serious as you think it is — Calm the Hell down.
  6. Everything online is public — Yes, even e-mail or IM conversations. Consider anything you write or say today to be public. I picked up this logic in college and have tried to follow its underlying logic.
  7. Relationships aren’t business, business is relationships — Get those priorities in order and treat people in a way that reflects this reality.
  8. When you treat people like children, you get children’s work — It was my favorite take away from the very excellent workflow management book by 37signals and a concept I came to learn while working with high school journalism clubs, the members of whom I would treat as if they were professionals. Expect the work you want.
  9. Never admit a big defeat when you can claim a smaller victory — Think creatively about what good can come of a situation, in lessons or experiences or something else.
  10. Diversify everything: from your finances to your coverage — Don’t focus on one anything.
  11. Lust isn’t about sex; it’s about how little we care about each other — It’s something I read somewhere, several years ago, and though I can’t remember the source, it has had a profound impact on my understanding of fidelity. That treatment goes far beyond the physical.
  12. [Updated] Action is a virtue — There is always a reason to say no, so focus on why you ought to do something.
  13. [Updated] Come with Solutions not  just questions — Creativity can flow with conversation, but when bringing up a problem, concern or idea, come with a solution, even if it isn’t the best, have a suggested direction whenever in a meeting, particularly when dealing with other leaders.
  14. [Updated] Be the nicest to the secretaries, assistants, garbage men, janitors and postmen because they really make it happen — My father would be dismayed when people seemed to have a strictly hierarchical sense of who is important and who isn’t, particularly because, when it comes right down to it, the supposed leaders are most often not the ones who actually do the work.
  15. [Updated] Our worst qualities are often our best ones too, just described differently — So whether you’re manipulative or strategic; lazy or relaxed; high-strung or detail orientated all depends on perspective and what the end result is.
  16. [Updated] Luck and opportunity are both about 75 percent found and 25 percent created — Good luck and opportunity certainly come our way, but we still need to earn a healthy portion of it.
  17. [Updated] The only person responsible for your happiness is you. — Take ownership of what you want in your life and when the details are beyond your reach, find what you can grab.
  18. [Updated] “When you realize nothing is lacking/the whole world belongs to you” – Wise words from Lao Tzu
  19. [Updated] Fail fast or succeed big — A lesson from the startup world that teaches it’s worth giving it your all or moving on.
  20. [Updated] You can’t think outside the box unless someone is thinking inside of it — A good reminder for anyone who strives to be different. Remember to not bash those who conform or follow normal practices, because without them, nothing you do would be original.
  21. [Updated] You often don’t lose friends in a year, but you can certainly gain them — So travel, move, try new things and challenge, particularly when you’re young.

And, yes, the old Golden Rule is a good one, just try to treat others close-enough as you might want to be treated.

Do you have any other rules to live by?

Number of Views:11732

Love is so much more about the technique than the ingredients and other Story Shuffle 5.0 audio

James Kennedy, Chris Wink and Shannon McDonald in the story blanket fort. Photo by Rachel Playe.

All of the audio from Story Shuffle 5.0 is now up, featuring the theme of ‘I Love’ and hosted by Roxborough  farmer Rachel Playe. In her infinitely playful manner, Playe had us all tell our stories in a blanket fort she had constructed.

As if that wasn’t enough of a highlight, West Philly folk rock band Flat Mary Road was on hand for a short acoustic set.

My story — Love is like water ice: it’s so much more about the technique than the ingredients.

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The notes I prepared before:

  • I love water ice, and, really, water ice is a lot about love.
  • When you make water ice, an old woman once told me, it really is so much more about the technique than the ingredients.
  • I don’t know how old the woman was, maybe only in her later 50s, but her hair kept me guessing. She had a long gray pony tail, like an early winter had set in before her leaves had the chance to fall like most women do, shortening their hair as they get older.
  • Water ice is like love: you boil water and sugar, add the ingredients and freeze with the greatest and most patient of techniques
Number of Views:2086

If a topic is boring, then go into more detail: like with spaghetti sauce

When someone is boring me, at a party or in line in the post office, I ask questions.

Now to be fair, I almost always ask questions. Questions are wonderful, provided that there are answers or at least good conversation to be had. Questions are one of the big reasons I do what I do.

It occurred to me recently, though, that that might be novel, at least for some.

That the best way to improve upon a conversation that isn’t much interesting you is to ask questions. That’s how you can direct that conversation and make it into something more than what it would be otherwise.

If you’re talking to a guy who sells fences, you might be bored. But if you talk to him about how different kinds of fence are made, distributed and costs kept low, it could get interesting. Without enough detail, anything can become interesting.

Like spaghetti sauce, as author Malcolm Gladwell showed with a great TED talk back in 2004.

Number of Views:14595

Exit Interview series on Technically Philly

To kick off this year, we at Technically Philly ran a weekly Tuesday feature interviewing a technology community member and/or entrepreneur who left Philadelphia. It is called Exit Interview and the weekly portion of the series is winding down, with perhaps one more to run next week.

The three of us who founded TP love Philadelphia, in particular its creative and entrepreneur communities. Journalism aside, we tend to think those whom we cover are going to be a big part of improving Philadelphia, its perception, its government, its taxes and its reputation.

Journalism should uncover truths and push forward dialogue. That can come with important public affairs coverage and institutional oversight, but it can also by highlighting key issues among its audience.

So I felt strongly that to further the conversation among these communities, it was our role to face directly concerns holding it back. To do so, I led the move to bring together nearly a dozen interviews and will now roll back out Exit Interview when new perception comes forward.

Today, on the Technically Media blog, I shared six lessons I took from running the series.

To get a quick sense, here are three example headlines from the series:

Number of Views:2006

What open data we care about: moderating Code for America Digital Philadelphia event

Photo by John Mertens.

The first concerted effort to seek what types of city government data and information Philadelphians want was kicked off last night with an event I helped organize on behalf of Technically Philly with Young Involved Philadelphia.

Partnered with the Code for America fellowship program, I moderated a panel meant to illustrate concrete and simple definitions and needs for city data that was then followed by a half dozen breakout sessions in which moderators had their dozen group members answer two questions:

  1. What city information would you actually use?
  2. How would you want to access that information?

Read my coverage of the event here, including reference to this Google Doc, in which I tallied the suggestions. This event is one of four big lessons we’re learning while leading this grant project.

More details and video below.

Continue reading

Number of Views:2752

Whiskey Chats: Technically Media talks with Jim Brady

Over at TechnicallyMedia.com, we’re feeling out the editorial strategy of our editorial strategy company’s website.

For now, it’ll have about a post a week, usually focusing on lessons in growing audience and sharing content online, in addition to specific case studies from our work and now, whenever we have the chance to grab someone smart who pops into our new office to talk about journalism, the future of news and the like, we’ll share a new episode in our Whiskey Chats podcast.

We launched the first episode this week when former TBD.com General Manager and WashingtonPost.com executive editor Jim Brady stopped by.

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Thanks to Sean Blanda for editing and naming the product.

Number of Views:2739

Sunlight Foundation shares Transparencity open data project

Last month, I kicked off Transparencity, a grant-funded reporting initiative I am leading for Technically Philly focusing on the open data movement within the City of Philadelphia. Not long after, the Sunlight Foundation, the national leader in the space of government transparency, made mention of it, much to my glee.

The William Penn Foundation, together with Technically Philly are partnering on a project that will use technology and journalism to increase the availability and use of “actionable government data”. Codenamed Transparencity,  the project will provide extensive coverage of issues on city technology policy, the Division of Technology and government data sets. Take a look at how Christopher Wink and partners strive to increase Philadelphia’s use of data to inform on policy at Technically Philly

Number of Views:1835

Grow audience and revenue: two ways to increase the number of news sources

Yes, that is George Michael. There are three clear steps to increase the number of news sources to the level that, say, surrounded Singer George Michael in May 1985 when this photo was taken by Ann Clifford for Life magazine.

To increase the number of news sources in a community one needs to do two things: (1) grow audience and/or (2) grow revenue.

In a followup to a prompt that ushered in a post last month, Spot.Us founder David Cohn again opens the Carnival of Journalism, in which a handful of media makers and molders opine a subject of his choosing. This session, the question focuses on the role that we all play in increasing the number of news creators.

As organizers put it:

What can you, as an individual or employee, do to increase the number of news sources. Everyone has a different set of circumstances. Some work at universities (which we found out last month) others work for public media, for independent media or for-profit media entities large and small. Take a moment to reflect on your unique skills and circumstances. Then answer: What specific things can you do to increase the number of news sources for a local community.

We can figure that out by doing building audiences and revenue.

Continue reading

Number of Views:4863

How do I reach out to bloggers and reporters for coverage?: advice from experience

I received an email a couple weeks ago from an entrepreneur who formerly worked for a startup in Philly. He’s with a new startup in another region but asked for quick  advice on reaching out to bloggers and other journalists for coverage.

I shot back three quick thoughts:

  1. First, prove you’re a human being and not a robot. Anyone who receives press interest will at first assume any email is a mass email. Prove it’s not. Say, ‘yo, I saw you wrote about this, so I thought you might be interested in this thing I do.’ And say ‘I think it’s relevant because you seem to write a lot about this.’ Basically, the five minutes of scanning a site will bring you much stronger results, and so the success is worth the extra effort.
  2. Secondly, just make it really freakin’ easy. (a) Don’t get caught up in every nuance of what you think your business is about, give the name and the 5-10 word summation and share a few links. Then, maybe include a bit deeper graf, but not much more. (b) Offer to talk on the phone — they probably won’t want to but it again shows you’re a real person — or answer any questions via email. (c) If there is interest, provide compelling images or photos or video to make publishing online more compelling without any extra effort from the writer. (d) Help promote the thing. If you want it, push the coverage for your own benefit and for the goodwill from the publication you’re pushing.
  3. Thirdly, do do a second follow up about a week later. If no response from there, forget about it.

A small item on a niche blog or an industry site can have great power and be a start, so, in general, do not underestimate the important and influence of smaller, more focused publications online or otherwise.

Number of Views:5024

Tokyo: Archived Podcasting and Blogging from Junior Year Abroad with NBC

Four years later, I’m finishing this piece of archiving business.

A couple months ago, I announced I had moved my honors thesis to a subdomain of this site for the sake of organization and archiving. Following up on that resolution to make more tidy a rambling online portfolio, I have brought another dated, collection of work of which I am proud under this house.

I spent the better chunk of 2006 in Tokyo video podcasting, writing, traveling and learning on behalf of NBC Universal Digital Studios. Now all of that work can be found at japan.christopherwink.com.

See all the Episodes here and all the Archives here. Go and explore.

A few things interested me from my work in 2006:

  • Short, bad titles — The post headlines were all short and sometimes not even descriptive. I didn’t recognize then the importance.
  • I wrote a lot — I far outpaced all of my fellow castmembers in output, which is great, but I could have made much of the content terser and more straightforward.
  • I actually had comments — On many posts, I had a handful of comments. I haven’t transferred them… yet.
  • I never linked – I didn’t have a single link to a past post.
  • Photo albums, not in posts – Photos and the video episodes were never embedded. This is the one major change I’ve made, by incorporating them.
  • Yes, I called posts ‘blogs’ — But that was 2006. What’s the excuse today?
  • I learned and experienced so damn much — I interacted with an audience and explored and created multimedia, but ultimately, I was just a young kid learning. ..And what a clear stepping stone toward the WDSTL podcast I did while in Western Europe.
Number of Views:2251