What made me proud about our sixth annual Philly Tech Week

You determine success by what goals you set. The mission of Philly Tech Week from the very start six years ago was to create an entry point for others to discover the community of technologists and entrepreneurs bubbling up in Philadelphia.

So this annual, community-supported calendar of events celebrating technology, entrepreneurship and innovation in Philadelphia will have a role for as long as those subjects warrant local on-boarding. Led by us at local tech news network Technical.ly, some 50 partners put together 150 events during a 10-day period ending this past weekend. And though we’re still collecting survey results and feedback from attendees, organizers and supporters, the early feedback I remains consistent with past years: (a) the collective calendar brings more people out to all our events and (b) the attendees include community-regulars and, just as important, people trying to better understand how to join in.

When that stops, that’s likely when PTW (and events like it) cease to matter. What does change each year is what stands out to me as particularly telling or representative from the calendar. That’s where I’m often most proud.

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Cybersecurity is about to get a whole lot bigger

The cybersecurity community will need to widen its focus, both for talent attraction, collaborative defense and inclusion.

That was the basic premise of my keynote this morning at the inaugural Cybersecurity in Action, Research and Education conference. Since I am not a cybersecurity executive or academic, my goal was to simply share some interesting examples of the cyber conversations that our team at Technical.ly is dutifully reporting on.

Find my slides and links below.

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A few things I learned at a ‘Personal Finance Day’

The act of learning something I can use has maybe always been one of my favorite acts (that’s why I used to collect extra printouts from school printers). And the mysteries and vagaries of finance have perhaps intimidated me more than most — particularly as a business reporter.

It’s a system that benefits from its complication, making it easier to separate us from money. So I try to take as many opportunities as I can to learn and share to pick up and trade tips on personal finance. As a middle class kid, I had the privilege of being introduced to basic banking from an early age but the more complex instruments were ones I discovered as I pursued greater understanding through high school and college.

I’ve continued that learning and want to share some recent lessons here.

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I had 3 terrible customer service experiences in the last six months. Here’s why they were different

In the last six months, I had three painful customer service experiences. I struggled with the whys of all three — afterward, I remain a customer of two and won’t ever buy from the third. Each taught me something.

Find overviews of the three experiences, how I attempted to solve them and the result (spoiler, all tried something to help but only two worked).

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I made 143 email connections in the last three years

Coming off a Leadership class and with a growing interest tracking the impact of journalism, in January 2013 I started tagging each email connection I made between relevant people who I believed would get value in meeting each other.

You won’t be surprised to know that I charted the thing and want to share what I think I learned.

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I bought a car. Here’s what I did wrong.

I’ve taken a lot of pride in not owning a car, as I have intentionally built a lifestyle around transit and walkability over the last several years. It was something that made me happy, something I liked talking about. I sold an inherited 2000 Toyota Camry a year and a half ago and even before then was living without any real reliance on a car.

Then this summer I married SACM, who was using her struggling 2000 Kia Sportage to visit her large and local family. She was ready to replace it, and so we were made our first large purchase as a married couple — since the house we bought together slightly predated our getting married.

We recently bought a pre-owned 2012 Kia Soul with 32,000 miles from a suburban Kia dealership, from which we got extended roadside assistance and warranty coverage to 100,000 miles (from the original 60,000 miles).

She led the research effort and did so thoroughly. I led the on-site negotiation and made some mistakes. Here’s what we learned buying a car from a dealership for the first time in our lives.

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30×30: 30 things I’m proud I did before I turned 30

I like lists. I find them motivating and easy to understand. It’s a structure to limit and highlight, whether they be daily to-do lists or curated honors or resolutions — both personal and professional. I also like somewhat arbitrary milestones to serve as an opportunity to review my progress to the goals I have. It’s the same reason why I celebrated my 10,000th day alive.

Here’s another. I turn 30 this week and have used that as a reason to feel good about what I’ve done so far.

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We beat $1M in revenue in 2015; small, growing and proud

Let’s start with the obvious: I help run a (very) very small, young business. By very nearly any measure, $1 million in annual revenue shows no great scale.

But for this first-time entrepreneur, slowly bootstrapping a niche news company like Technically Media, it means a lot to me to hit that nice round number in 2015. We have a full-time team of 15 with another half-dozen independent contractors who support the daily production of a news and events product with a strong reputation. We continue to find purpose with Technical.ly and expect our second brand Generocity.org to signal a coming explosion of local social impact conversations like local tech is here now.

I want to share what this means to us.

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On starting to drink coffee

Surely there will be others, but presently, the summer of 2015 was one of the hardest, busiest and most stressful of my life.

In the last few years, I’ve been blessed with a nice calendar rhythm I’ve enjoyed — hectic and busy and big spring, fall and winter, with calmer summers to re-tool and a few weeks of December to get primed for the new year.

2015 was different. In the span of three months I bought a house, got married, rented out my former house, effectively acquired a company, grew our business  staff headcount by a quarter, transitioned out an internal leader, took a road trip near Calgary, spent two weeks in Ecuador and, you know, just did the normal stuff too.

Though I do strive to have -some- work-life balance (here is where SACM and others close to me roll their eyes), this incredibly time-crunch resulted in the inevitable: I slept a whole lot less. I did more successive late nights and early mornings than perhaps ever before. So I started drinking coffee.

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