It’s hard to take your own advice

There is an irony, or perhaps just needless pressure, in making an emphatically titled presentation (ahem, WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH MY LIFE???) and not knowing what to do with your life.

Thankfully, I found this: How to Make a Big Decision. I’m not making a Big Decision, but found the structure of doing a pre-mortem and building a value model helpful to get out of my head in making A Decision, which can feel unnecessarily bigger, but is, in fact, just the next step.

Or, The Way Things Are Now Are Like They Used To Be

I can’t stop thinking about this piece from Frank Chimero, Everything Easy Is Hard Again.

He talks about cycles of change and ~innovation~ through the the lens of making websites — which made me nostalgic for when I used to hand code sites on Geocities and Angelfire after learning HTML by viewing source code! There’s a lot in there, including why legibility of code is so important. But here’s the chart I’ve talked about twice now today:

Nothing stays settled, so of course a person with one year of experience and one with fifteen years of experience can both be confused. Things are so often only understood by those who are well-positioned in the middle of the current wave of thought. If you’re before the sweet spot in the wave, your inexperience means you know nothing. If you are after, you will know lots of things that aren’t applicable to that particular way of doing things. I don’t bring this up to imply that the young are dumb or that the inexperienced are inept—of course they’re not. But remember: if you stick around in the industry long enough, you’ll get to feel all three situations.
[…]
In one way, it is easier to be inexperienced: you don’t have to learn what is no longer relevant. Experience, on the other hand, creates two distinct struggles: the first is to identify and unlearn what is no longer necessary (that’s work, too). The second is to remain open-minded, patient, and willing to engage with what’s new, even if it resembles a new take on something you decided against a long time ago.

The Way Things Are Now*

This State of the Blog Union by Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge is such an astute overview of The Way Things Are Now as it relates to online media, the ad business, and more generally just how media and consumption has changed in the last decade or so D*S has existed online.

The goal is to always be testing things out. It takes a lot more work and effort to always be changing, but in an industry that doesn’t sit still, adaptation and evolution are requirements.

I always find the best media writing by those who are living and making these types of decisions day in and day out. Another person I always read on this is Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo. One of his recent posts musing about how he can better serve his readers with new and differiated products is very good. (TL;DR from Nieman Lab is here.)

I haven’t written much — of anything — in awhile for one reason or another, the main one being starting a new job is *kind of crazy*, but all of a sudden, have found myself needing to write several things! So here I am, dusting off the ol’ blog.

One of the many things I’ve been thinking a lot about came out of a conversation I had with a friend at work recently. We were talking about shifting your instincts, previous learnings and experiences to new places and he said the most interesting things to watch will be figuring out which instincts/learnings/experiences you’ll need to keep and adapt and which won’t work for XYZ place you’re in. I was thinking about this a lot as I was reading the D*S piece — it’s all about equipping yourself with the skills AND experiences necessary to become more adaptable.

It sounds repetitive (because I say this with every change, etc.) but my past experiences have truly informed a lot of what I’m currently working on.

Three things:

  1. I basically studied media obsessively for two years while I was at the American Press Institute and the one thing I know now is that if anyone tells you they’ve figured it out, they’re lying.
  2. One of the most important things I learned at BuzzFeed was *how* to work in that constantly changing environment and adapting to that.
  3. I’m lucky to have started my career at Atlantic Media while David Bradley was running it and to have been on the team led by Poppy MacDonald because they are two of the most service-oriented people in media I know. It’s always about how to serve and better serve your customers/audience/readers/viewers/whatever.

That’s all I’ve got — I haven’t figured anything out either!

*For now

Taking one from the Stoics

A thought experiment courtesy of the Stoics. If you are tired of everything you possess, imagine that you have lost all these things.
—Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

I started reading this book maybe six months ago, but didn’t pick it up again and restarted it from the beginning last week. Funny how “when” you read something affects you just as much as what you’re reading.

Love other women

  • Hire more women: “The smartest teams were distinguished by three characteristics: First, their members contributed more equally to the team’s discussions, rather than letting one or two people dominate the group. Second, their members scored higher on a test called Reading the Mind in the Eyes, which measures how well people can read complex emotional states from images of faces with only the eyes visible. Finally, teams with more women outperformed teams with more men. Indeed, it appeared that it was not ‘diversity’ (having equal numbers of men and women) that mattered for a team’s intelligence, but simply having more women.” [Anita Woolley, Thomas W. Malone and Christopher Chabris, New York Times]
  • Love other women: “The world wants you to find extraordinary women threatening. Undo that training. When you feel threatened, it’s a great sign that you have just found an ally who will bring you new energy and insight and together you will rise. Never stop growing your crew. There is always room for another homie if you find someone special enough. Give them everything and they will give back in return. Have faith in the women in your life and you will be ok out there.” [Rachel Rosenfelt, Brooklyn Magazine]

Two good ideas

  • When to quit your journalism job: “If you work in any kind of editorial organization, it is your job to understand the business model. If you feel you can’t do that, you should quit. By ‘understand the business model,’ I mean you can (confidently) answer this question: What is the plan to bring in enough money to sustain the enterprise and permit it to grow? Can’t answer? You have the wrong job.” [Jay Rosen, PressThink]
  • How to be an expert in a changing world: “The first step is to have an explicit belief in change … Another trick I’ve found to protect myself against obsolete beliefs is to focus initially on people rather than ideas.” [Paul Graham]