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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What I accomplished as a Pen and Pencil Club governor 

I first visited the Pen and Pencil Club in January 2009, as a spunky, 23-year-old. After visiting frequently, I finally became an official member of the country’s oldest surviving open daily press club in early 2012.

Then, in 2013 I ran and was elected to the club’s board of governors, with some encouragement from then club President Chris Brennan, a celebrated politics reporter and columnist who worked hard to grow the kind of members in the club. I was growing a reputation with Technical.ly and an active local organizer of the Online News Association.

I was proud. I learned a lot, and I put a lot of effort into being a board member. Next week, rather than run for a fifth term, I am stepping down. Here I share some of what I accomplished during the last four years.

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Journalism is a strategy, not an industry

Journalism is a strategy, not an industry.

Newsrooms should rethink their competition. Journalism organizations are in dozens of different businesses. What we share in common (journalism DNA) makes us more partners than adversaries. The many businesses that are competing for the revenue and not providing other community value, like service journalism, are the real competition.

This was the focus of a lightning pitch I gave this weekend at the national Online News Association annual conference in Denver. Below find my slides, audio and some tweet reactions I received.

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Here’s the audio from my on-stage interview of Philadelphia Mayor Elect Jim Kenney

In front of an audience of 150 civil servants and economic development executives from throughout the mid-Atlantic, I interviewed last week Philadelphia Mayor Elect Jim Kenney for the second annual Rise conference on civic innovation we at Technical.ly organize.

Find the transcript and write-up here. Below listen to the audio,

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Innovation in Philadelphia Q&A with Dilworth Paxon CEO Ajay Raju and me

How are so-called innovation clusters happening across the country and in Philadelphia specifically? Alongside Dilworth Paxson law firm CEO Ajay Raju, I was interviewed on the subject over drinks at Parc on Rittenhouse Park.

The interview was for Temple University law school’s blog and came in a two-part series from a Temple law professor and transcribed by a precocious law student.

Read part one here, in which we talk about Philadelphia’s own development of a tech and entrepreneurship communit

Read part two here, in which we talk about what that development can mean for the rest of Philadelphia.

Temple University’s Fox School honored me with the ‘Self Made and Making Others’ award

I’m proud to say that the Fox Business School of my alma mater Temple University honored me with their third annual ‘Self-Made and Making Others’ award during the Be Your Own Boss Bowl.

The honor is a recognition for entrepreneurial work that helps others do the same. I gave a keynote address to students and other alumni, which I wrote out and shared below but mostly just used as notes.

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