We Should All Stop Eating Those Sad Desk Lunches.


BuzzFeed’s grown a ton since I started in December 2012 — not just in prestige or influence or monthly UVs, but also in raw size. We had about 175 staffers in New York when I started. Now, we’re so big that we take up two different offices — one across the street from the other.

And we’ve seen a few unexpected side effects of that growth. Here’s one: We don’t have nearly as much space in our canteen to eat lunch in anymore.

When I started, I regularly ate lunch with co-workers from across the company. We talked about what we were working on, and interesting ideas and projects often sprung from those lunches. But as we grew, and as space became as issue, I started eating more and more lunches at my desk. Eventually, it became my daily routine.

And because I started doing the Sad Desk Lunch, everyone on my team started doing it, too.

But a few weeks ago, I noticed one team at BuzzFeed that was still actively eating together — our team focused on content distribution. They’re run by Summer, who happens to be one of our best (and friendliest) managers. I noticed them eating lunch, enjoying conversation with one another, and I realized: My team needed to follow suit.

So on the newsletter team, we’ve made a new rule: On Mondays and Wednesdays, we grab lunch, head to the canteen, and eat together for 20 minutes. It’s a time to bond as a team, and it’s an opportunity to talk about work in an informal setting. Sometimes, you need to get buy-in from team members through a formal meeting or an emailed request. But other times, over a sandwich, you can talk about an idea and actually set some work in motion, and that’s also great! Some of our best ideas — our Dude A Day newsletter, for instance — have come out of those informal lunches.

Collaboration, communication, and a sense of camaraderie. They’re all wonderful things that have come out of a simple act: Eating lunch together.


That photo at top comes via Flickr’s Link Humans.

Shit Happens.

The work never goes like you want it to.

Oh, you had big plans? Shit happens.

Oh, you had goals/ambitions/dreams? Shit happens.

Oh, things were supposed to go a certain way? Yeah… shit happens.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t make plans — you should! It’s good to anticipate problems, and to try to get ahead of the work. But the work always gets weird along the way. You learn that something can’t work a certain way, or should actually work a completely different way. Your team takes a hit. Something breaks.

Things always go wrong. It’s just the way it goes.

So are you willing to push through it? Are you willing to keep working, even when things suck?

The best don’t use those bad breaks as an excuse. They find a way to get the work done anyway.

Good luck. Keep doing the work.

My Favorite Question To Ask Candidates In A Job Interview.


If you’re interviewing for a job on my team, be ready to answer this question: What tools or apps do you use to work?

When I’m hiring, I’m looking for people who are going to be able to work well with my team. If a candidate has the right work habits already, I’m confident that we can teach them the skills and give them the confidence to do great work. So that’s where my question about tools comes in — because the tools you use to work secretly reveal a lot about your work personality.

I’ve learned that:

◦ People who use a to-do app (and there are a million good ones) are typically detail oriented.

◦ People who save lots of links with an app like Evernote, Pinterest, or Delicious usually have lots of big ideas.

◦ People who swear by a calendar app like Google Cal or Sunrise are often very punctual.

◦ People who love an inbox app (Boomerang, Sanebox, Rapportive, Mailbox, etc) are almost always super organized.

This question isn’t everything — I always follow up with more questions about why that person loves an app so much, and what they use it for. But it’s a great way to dig into the mind of a candidate and catch a glimpse of how they work, and that usually gives me a good idea of whether or not they’d be a good fit for my team.


That photo at top comes via Unsplash and photographer Todd Quackenbush.

The Hard Thing Is That There Are Always More Hard Things.


It’s fall, which means I’m already thinking about plans for 2016. The new year is less than 90 days away, and there are a ton of big decisions to make between now and then.

As I think about the state of my four-person team at BuzzFeed, these challenges come to mind for 2016:

-We need to grow our team.

-We need to find a way to train new team members in the way we work — how to launch stuff quickly, mess around with new ideas, and use data to make informed decisions.

-We need to maintain the industrious spirit of a small team while growing into a (slightly) bigger one.

-We need to continue to grow our subscriber base.

-We need to launch new products.

-Some of those products will be launched in other countries.

-And some of them will be launched in languages other than English.

That’s a lot — and the secret is, it’s just the stuff that’s in front of me right now. In three months, we’ll have almost certainly knocked a few things off that list… but a new challenge or two will be added to it. Maybe we’ll add our first team member in a different city. Maybe we’ll be forced to make unexpected cuts to our lineup of newsletter products. Maybe we’ll have challenges implementing new types of advertising into our newsletters, or struggle to communicate with other teams here at the company.

Something new will come up. It always does.

And that’s the truly hard thing about working in a startup like BuzzFeed, I’ve found: There are always new challenges to face. Once you’ve mastered one challenge, another one presents itself. Sometimes, old challenges show up again in new ways!

The hard thing is that there are always more hard things to take on, and you have to be mentally prepared to taken on challenge after challenge. It’s why it’s so important to have those moments during the day to think, and it’s why it’s doubly important to have a great team behind you. The challenges will always keep coming. Make sure you have the time to center yourself, and make sure you have the team to take on what’s next.


Yes, that’s an incredibly obvious “mountains beyond mountains” metaphor of a photo at top. It’s from Unsplash and photographer Nitish Meena.