Why it took 8 years for me to become CEO of my own company

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.

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By the time something *has* to be solved, it’s probably too late

I’m not a procrastinator, which is no small feat, considering my father and my sister both are.

I take a lot of pride in planning ahead on challenges or opportunities. Sometimes that runs counter to others, who are more to sitting on deadlines. Of course crashing into a deadline happens to us all but the reliance on them concerns me.

That’s because, as I’ve been thinking lately, if you wait for something to have to be solved, then it’s often too late. You can’t creatively or find opportunities for efficiencies. Once the deadline is here, it’s broken and you aren’t going to be able to fix it.

So? Change what a deadline means to you. If something is due on the 15th, your deadline must be the 10th and so you better get started on the 5th. Then you can be the person you say you are.

Newsrooms: be Accurate, Relevant and Productive

You won’t find a reporter who questions the importance of accuracy. It’s chief among the journalistic creeds.

Many, too, would understand the importance of relevancy to the craft — choosing to share what fits their publication’s audience and voice (though it takes some savvy to make those decisions consistently).

But what remains still foreign, even controversial, is the idea that reporting should be done with productivity in mind. A journalist should be able to say why they’re pursuing a story: what goals will be reached because of it?

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4 lessons from sports stars that stuck with me as a kid

For all the meaningful sources of life lessons I received as a kid, from my parents to religion, and the many shades of the Golden Rule, I was still a sports-crazed boy growing up in the 1990s.

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.

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I spoke at the 16th annual New Market Tax Credits conference

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.

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How to publish breaking news as a community journalist

There are volumes already written on the broad scope of reporting and publishing breaking news, so there’s no need to repeat that. However, far too little has been discussed about the peculiarities of doing that work within a narrow community.

Crime, crashes and tragedies impact greatly victims but for many reporters, the messaging of this news is going to a far broader audience. For community journalists working a beat, breaking news has slightly different dynamics — despite the overall smaller audience, often more people will be far more emotionally invested in the outcome. So you better learn how to do it right.

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You’re adopting a puppy

For every project you take on, any commitment you make, you’re agreeing to a longterm relationship. Other people will depend on you, habits will form and roles will shape.

It’s like adopting a pet, as a colleague and I say to each other sometimes. Are you willing to walk the dog? To feed it and give it water and be willing to spend the energy, time and money if it gets sick?

I say that to myself when I want to start something new, and I find it helps influence my thinking. If I think of the longterm requirements and still want to move forward, then I will. If not, well, there’s no use to start at all. (One way I’m working to say no more often).

Reporters, we aren’t referees, we are in the game: thoughts on ‘Fake News’

Too many reporters still think they’re referees, when really, they’re in the game.

That was something I shared during an enlightening panel discussion I was a part of on ‘Fake News,‘ as hosted by WHYY and NPR host Joshua Jackson. (Read this overview of the event.)

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