Tag Archives: #BergChat

#BergChat: The Pivot!

Four weeks ago today, I went in front of a group of students here at the University of Missouri and told them I wanted to buy them a beer and talk about journalism. And then I went in front of another class. And another. And another.

And told them, a few hundred in all: I wanted to buy them beer and talk about journalism.

The first thing that happened was, a whole bunch of students tweeted at me to tell me how excited they were about the idea.

The second thing that happened was, nobody came to drink with me.

Well, that’s not entirely true. I’ve offered three so-called #BergChat sessions to students so far on Twitter. One student has taken me up on the offer.

So it’s time, I think, for a pivot.

What’s a pivot, you ask? Take it from Eric Ries, author of the soon-to-be-bestelling book, “The Lean Startup.” Says Ries, a pivot is:

“The idea that successful startups change directions but stay grounded in what they’ve learned. They keep one foot in the past and place one foot in a new possible future. “

And, okay, the #BergChat isn’t a startup; it’s just office hours at a bar. Still, the spirit of the pivot works here.

Now, the way I’ve been organizing these #BergChats is by sending out a tweet or three to my followers — among them, a multitude of j-schoolers. I’ve named the day/time for that week’s chat. And I’ve asked students to tweet back at me if they’d like to join me for a drink and conversation.

Except that I’ve forgotten a simple rule: College kids don’t operate on the same time schedule that I do. And that means I’m pitching this to an audience that isn’t actually listening at the moment I’m talking.

Hence the need for a pivot.

So here’s the new plan: The #BergChat is always open and available to you, the students. All you have to do is tweet at me something like:

Hey, @danoshinsky, got time for a #BergChat this week?

And assuming I’m in town, I’ll say yes, and we’ll set a time.

To recap: You tweet at me. We agree upon a time. And then said Beer/Shirley Temple is purchased, and we talk about whatever you want to talk about.

That’s my pivot, and I’m sticking to it.

At least for this week.

Why I’m Starting The #BergChat

The Heidelberg
Dear University of Missouri J-Schooler,

I remember when I was but a wee undergrad. The year was 2009. A young man named Barack Obama had taken stewardship of our country. The economy was in the crapper. I drove around in a Chevy TrailBlazer with vanity plates.

Much has changed since then. (The Blazer no longer has vanity plates.) But one thing hasn’t:

At our alma mater, the University of Missouri, there exist two distinct sectors of our esteemed School of Journalism: the school itself, and the Reynolds Journalism Institute.(1) The J-school is doing some awesome stuff. So is RJI.

Problem is, we’re not always doing great stuff together.

Even though these clusters exist within the same damn building, there’s still a gap between the two. Young J-schoolers dare not venture into RJI. Us RJIers would rather not wander off into the J-school.(2)

Here’s the point: there’s some pretty incredible Journalism Stuff™(3) going on in Columbia, MO, and there need not be a gap between RJI and the J-school.

So I’m launching a new thing this year: The #BergChat. It’s a weekly session in which I’ll invite anyone from the J-school community to sit down with me for 30 minutes to talk about… well, whatever you want. An idea you’ve got. A question you’ve been afraid to ask. A resume you’d like an extra pair of eyes on.

And while we’re chatting, I’ll buy you a beer.(4)

Now, the fine print:

1. Every #BergChat must take place at the World Famous Heidelberg Restaurant. It’s tricky to find, so here are the Google Maps directions from the J-school for those who’ve never been:

View Larger Map

2. The #BergChat will last 30 minutes.

3. During said #BergChat, I will buy you a beer, or, if you’re not inclined/able, a drink of your choice.

4. To schedule a #BergChat, follow me on Twitter at @danoshinsky. Each week, I’ll be tweeting out times when I’ll be holding a #BergChat. I’ll open up a handful of half-hour slots. The first (pre-specified number) of folks to respond will be given a timeslot. All you have to do is show up and chat.

5. Each J-schooler gets exactly one #BergChat with me. After that, you’ll just have to stop by my office if you’d like to continue the conversation. Or agree to buy me lunch.(5)

6. The #BergChat can just be one-on-one, or it can be a group of students chatting. But I won’t take on a group that doesn’t fit in a Heidelberg booth. So essentially, it’s got to be a group of three or less.

Point is: I’m reaching out to you, the J-school population. It’s up to you to make the next step and get involved with what we’re doing at RJI.

See you at the Berg.


  1. I should note here: Counsel has advised me to cease and desist referring to them as my personal Daddy Warbucks.
  2. Except on occasions when there’s free food over in Walter Williams.
  3. Trademark of Oshinsky, Inc., 2011.
  4. For free. Free, as in: no purchase necessary. Cash value of said beer must be less than or equal to $5. The #BergChat will end immediately if the #BergChat-ee attempts to buy a Natural Light with his/her free beer. These are my terms.
  5. Hint: I’m a Noodles and Co. fan.