“Moving forwards into the unknown is a lot better than falling backwards into the abyss.” — Simon Sinek
When I was in San Antonio, I got asked to cover a Los Lonely Boys concert. It was a bit of a surreal experience. I knew exactly one Los Lonely Boys song. They spent most of the night covering other bands, actually.
But then it came time for them to play “Heaven,” that one Los Lonely Boys song that everyone knows. It was their closer. They played the first three notes, and the crowd went crazy.
Three notes was all it took to make 1,000 people lose their minds.
I remember that at the time, I was thinking a lot about success. How do you measure it? How do you know when you’ve got it in your hands?
And I remember thinking: If 1,000 people immediately lose their minds at what you’re doing, that’s probably a pretty good sign.
I always thought that if I could ever pull something like that off, it’d be as a result of some simple thing — a story I’d written with a memorable opening line; a talk that got big laughs.
I guess I never thought about the idea that something big — an entire body of work — could be that thing.
But now I look back on Stry.us. People recognize the colors on the site as ours. The style of the stories. The themes that we report on. The design of the site.
This isn’t “Heaven,” but it’s pretty close.
We’ve gotten such a fantastic response to the project. Here’s one email I got this summer:
“Springfield is my hometown … For most of my life, it was hard to get past the conservatism, but your stories helped me learn that there really is more to Springfield than politics and religion. I’ve stopped to read every new story each time I received your weekly newsletter … You were good for Springfield. Thanks for the memories.”
It’s so wonderful to get an email like that — and it’s one of many that showed up in my inbox this summer. It’s feels fantastic to have created something that made so many people so happy.
But it’s also only a single step.
Here’s the other thing about Los Lonely Boys: You know that one song by them, but you probably can’t remember anything else they’ve ever done.
What’s coming — what’s next — matters. A great first album deserves a second.
So let me bring this back to me. The good news is, many people have been asking me lately, “What’s next for Stry.us?” That means they’re excited about what me and my team have already done.
But I don’t have the answer to their question right now. I wish I did.
What I can tell you is that I’m going to get back to doing what I love most: Telling great stories, building communities around stories, and committing to the work. I hope Stry.us has a role in all this going forward.
I can also say this: I don’t think you’re going to be seeing a Biloxi- or Springfield-like bureau anytime in the near future. The amount of work — and money that it takes — to make one of those happen just isn’t sustainable in the short term.
So we’ll see where the road ahead leads. The work has only just begun.