Policymakers and economic development strategists are startup crazy — in pursuit of a silly goal. I know. I’ve spent most of the last decade reporting on young tech companies, exactly the slice of firm creation that has led much of the attention in this post-recession fixation.
Though I’ve taken various approaches at understanding what, if anything, is really different about this era’s of business creation, I recently found myself pulling together some data that I wanted to share.
Hype around startups — newly created businesses, particularly ones that are approaching new business models — has merit. But the concept isn’t as new and their impact isn’t yet as bold as you might hope — Millennials are on pace to be one of the least entrepreneurial generations on record.
Continue reading Here’s the data to put our country’s startup frenzy into context
Peer-to-peer, short-term housing platform Airbnb is probably my favorite consumer web company. A traveling member since 2011, my wife SACM and I have been hosting travelers too for most of the last year. I’m a proud and happy user.
Yet I know that some of the loudest news about Airbnb in its last couple years of mainstream expansion has been controversial: first, about the company navigating municipal hotel taxes and, most recently, its central role in a conversation about racial bias in the sharing economy.
You know, #AirbnbWhileBlack.
So now that my wife and I have been hosting for nearly a year and have received more than 100 requests, I wanted review for our own selection bias.
Continue reading I am a white Airbnb host. I reviewed 102 guest requests to assess my own racial bias
I got engaged. Then I got married.
Between those two dates, I built one of the most involved spreadsheets of my life (yup, that’s something I think about). SACM and I used that spreadsheet to choose our wedding venue, predict attendance, invite guests, track purchases and monitor gifts. We’ve also been using it to give advice to friends.
Some of what we collected is private but lots of it is worth sharing for your own planning and budgeting purposes. That’s what I do below.
Continue reading I got married. Here’s a bunch of data on the experience.
A couple times a year, someone in Philadelphia technology will say to me, what that community really needs to broaden its prominence is “its own Tech Crunch,” a reference to the established and influential tech business blog with Silicon Valley roots. The implication is, with all due respect to the maturity of Technical.ly Philly (relative to our newer, smaller markets) and its readership and regular events, that Philadelphia needs a megaphone to a global audience of investors and talent.
When someone says this, I hide my cringe and instead I politely nod, before changing the subject.
Of course, a statement like that shows a profound lack of understanding of audience, goals and impact in online media. Tech Crunch is established and influential because it covers big, well-funded tech business nationally, not a fledgling community in a non-traditional hub. Technical.ly Philly looks the way it does because of where it is. It doesn’t have national readership because it isn’t national in focus. The people who say “we need a Tech Crunch,” are confusing outcomes and solutions (Silicon Valley was the global tech leader first, then it spawned Tech Crunch, not the other way around).
Put another way: Media is a Mirror. This is a problem that happens elsewhere.
Continue reading Journalism isn’t what we should try to save: Philly example
Approach pitching a reporter like any business act, with purpose. I gave an updated version of a presentation I’ve given before on how to get your business media attention, with my continuing to evolve thoughts about the process, as an editor and reporter, to a Small Bytes entrepreneurship conference at MIT in February. But the keynote was rapper turned actor Ice T and proved interesting to be sure.
He was funny, smart and, truly, actually fairly insightful. He knew who he was and was playful about that but he had a long life of experience. It made me think about how valuable time-developed wisdom is. Pop culture or not, he had some wonderful stories with practical thoughts.
Maybe the personally most amusing part was that because I spoke right before Ice T, he watched my talk and referenced it a few times, referring to me as “the reporter.” I will smile for years in the future whenever I think of Ice T saying, after I addressed the crowd and told them that the media doesn’t owe anyone any favors: “Like the reporter said, no one gives a fuck about you.”
Though I was expecting to mostly just be amused, instead, I found myself jotting down a few notes worth remembering. Find them below.
Continue reading 15 things Ice T said during an insightful speech at an MIT event I also spoke at
Newton is a small town in the northwest corner of New Jersey, where preserved forests, protected open space and state-backed farm land has curtailed suburbanization to maintain the foundation of what could be a thriving community in an urban age. It has a dense Main Street corridor and the anchor institutions of a 250-year-old town, as a gateway to this beautiful rural region. It also happens to be where I grew up.
Elsewhere in Sussex County, there are lake houses and golf courses that attract vacationers and tourists (and reporters) from the New York City market — that’s where my parents and other families came from. Though I believe there are unique assets, I also think this story is one that will relate to communities throughout the country and certainly elsewhere in the U.S. Northeast.
Continue reading How Spring Street could thrive: survival for small towns in a new urban age
I have now fully paid the $100,000 that my college experience from Temple University cost. Here I share the breakdown of some more specifics on what those costs include and how I paid them.
This month, six years after graduating from Temple, I will put $1,800 to close out the last of my student loans. As many of my peers, who attended ‘out-of-state’ universities and are from, relatively speaking, privileged, middle class families will tell you, I accelerated this process considerably. I don’t like debt, so each year since 2010 when I was able to do so, I paid more than I was required to in order to speed the process of getting debt free.
Continue reading Here’s the final math on my middle class $100k college education
Define the mission underpinning the work of your news organization, and then allow yourself to experiment with new and potentially better ways of telling stories.
That’s my interest in finding new innovative storytelling methods, and so I was excited by the chance to share examples with nearly 100 reporters and educators who visited a session I cohosted during a national news innovation conference in Atlanta last week.
Know why you’re doing your coverage and find the method that best creates that outcome. While that may mean a beautiful, highly produced product like the Serengeti Lion web interactive from National Geographic, depicted above, my focus here is sharing low-cost or free ideas for inspiration.
Continue reading Innovative News Storytelling: 5 ways and dozens of examples
For anyone who traffics in ideas, relationships and communication (and reporters are certainly that), “one of the most important soft skills you can have is handling a high-volume of email,” said Merlin Mann in his well-trafficked 2007 “Inbox Zero” Tech Talk.
The idea here is that time and attention are irreplaceable, finite and the most valuable resources of knowledge workers. So, as silly as it sounds, managing efficiently your email is a major skill.
Yet we all get overwhelmed by the fire hose that is our email inbox (and don’t put any workforce development time to this). For an industry that needs to keep our sources organized and be able to manage relationships (and do so by emailing better), that’s a sin. As I’ve brought on a couple reporters, I’ve found myself working with my cofounder Brian James Kirk, a true student of email productivity, to coach them on better email practices.
Continue reading Inbox zero: email techniques for more efficient knowledge workers (like reporters) [VIDEO]
Relationships are a currency.
They’re worth something — friendships, acquaintances, colleagues, sources. They enrich our lives and, yes, they are integral to any success. Things get done by people who have relationships, to help guide, support, advise and strengthen goals.
This goes for everyone, but there are surely some industries that need them more than others: construction and development, politics and government and, certainly, reporting and community building. So I think a lot about the connections and people who make up community in all of its forms.
If relationships are one of the most valuable resources we have, why do we so often ignore their impact and why do three types of people so often abuse the role of connection?
Continue reading Relationships are currency