Tag Archives: inspiration comes from strange places

The October Edition of The Awesome File.

Every month, I put together a list of 10 things to inspire you to do better work. This is The Awesome File.

Inside this month’s Awesome File: Lessons from NYC! Adorable puppies! Rock and Roll! And Richard Freaking Branson!

1. READ: ‘Fifty Important Lessons New York City Taught Me’

This was a fantastic read on things the amazing things in life. It features lessons like:

-If You Don’t Care, No One Will
-You Can Only Control What You Do
-There Are All Kinds Of Thanksgivings
-Small Is Magnificent

Read it, and then read it again.

2. SMILE: Puppstream.me

This feels like a website that should have happened a long time ahead: Puppystream, an endless display of adorable photos of puppies. If you’re in a bad mood, go to this site and spend 20 seconds there. You’ll feel better.

3. LOVE: Richard Brason, Flight Attendant.

Here’s Richard Branson serving drinks on a Virgin American flight. As a reminder: Virgin America is the airline owned by Richard Branson.

And as a corollary: This interview from the same flight with Branson, in which the guy who owns several bazillion dollars worth of airlines can’t remember the word “conveyor belt.”

4. READ: ‘Boys Will Be Boys’

Speaking of ridiculousness: This behind-the-scenes look at the 1990s Dallas Cowboys reveals that life in the NFL is absolutely insane. Fighting, drugs, hookers, limos — and that’s just Super Bowl XXX.

5. ENJOY THE AWESOME: Snoop Dogg on ‘Price is Right’

Also on the note of absurdity: Snoop Dogg was a guest host on “The Price is Right” a few weeks back, and him hugging this Showcase Showdown winner was absolutely epic.

6. LOVE: Neil Patrick Harris and Jason Segel sing ‘Les Mis’

Let’s keep the awesome rolling: The “How I Met Your Mother” team goes Broadway.

7. READ: ‘Did Blowing into Nintendo Cartridges Really Help?’

And speaking of bad segues: This was a fantastic piece of reporting.

(Actually, on a sad note: it’s more thorough than a lot of the real news reports you’ll see in many publications.)

8. LEARN: Why Politicians Talk The Way They Do

I also really enjoyed this look at the origins of our political speech.Who knew that that’s why Bubba was such a good speaker?

9. SEE: This NYT Magazine Cover

This photo from Cuba was absolutely mesmerizing. (The article attached to it wasn’t bad either.)

10. ROCK ON: Led Zeppelin + Foo Fighters

Let’s close this out the right way: With Foo Fighters and Led Zeppelin playing “Rock and Roll” for 80,000 screaming fans in London.

Turn it up, and let the awesome happen this month:

That fake eCard at top comes via.

How Tom Petty Helped Me Understand What I Really Wanted To Do With My Life.

Tom Petty

“You belong among the wildflowers.” — Tom Petty

 
One man is responsible, probably more than any other, for much of what’s happened to me the past two years.

That man is Tom Petty.

I can’t tell you the date, but I can tell you how it felt when I first heard “Wildflowers,” an acoustic number off of the Petty album of the same name. “You belong somewhere you feel free,” he sang, and I knew he was right. I felt, at that moment, like he had written that song solely for me.

A song had never felt like that to me before.

It was the spring of 2010, and a lot of things were hitting me all at once. There was frustration over my job and my place in the journalism world. There was anxiety over my future — was I destined to hop from $35k journalism gig to $35k gig? What the hell was I doing with myself? With my life?

Something about that song just struck me. I had this sense that Tom knew something I didn’t. I had this sense that I was supposed to listen.

I’m not sure why, but I knew Tom was right: I belonged somewhere I could feel free.

Here’s the thing: Freedom is a place, I think, not just a state of mind. It’s a place where you can do great work. It’s a place where you can surround yourself with people who want what you want. For me, it’s a place where I can tell stories that nudge our world a little bit forward.

Freedom’s within all of us, but for me, it took a physical place to find it within myself. It took Biloxi, a place that scared me and excited me all at once. Biloxi’s where I found the fear, and also where I found the freedom.

I can’t tell you what freedom should mean for you. But I can promise you this: It is a wonderful feeling to find that place where you can be free.

Freedom doesn’t give you all the answers, but it helps define the path ahead. It helps you see, clearly, what kind of life you really want for yourself.

Today, start the search for the place where you feel free. It’s an awfully good place to start the work you’re meant to do.

That photo of Tom Petty at top comes via John VanderHaagen.

25 Ideas That I May or May Not Decide To Do Something With.

Ideas never run out

“Start where you are.” — Danielle LaPorte

 
Five words I don’t ever expect to say again:

I don’t have any ideas.

The challenge, it turns out, isn’t coming up with good ideas. It’s deciding which of them is worth pursuing and working on.

I have a list where I keep all these big ideas I’d like to work on one day. Some of them will get acted on in the coming months. Some of them will get executed in the coming years. Some will never make it past this list.

And then I decided this week to put all of these ideas down on the Internet. This scares the crap out of me. Maybe one of these is a million dollar idea, and I just don’t know it yet.

But then I realized: Maybe you’ll see something on this list that you’d like to work on with me. Maybe you can help point me towards the ideas that are really great.

No reason to keep this list secret. So here they are: 25 big ideas that I’d like to work on one day.

Got advice or help to offer on one them? In that case, shoot me an email or a tweet. Let’s talk.
 

Stuff That Could Actually Happen In 2012.


1. Wiki 2.0: Tools For Reporters —> A revamp of jstart.wikispaces.com, my giant list of journalism resources. I’m going to relaunch this as an email newsletter specifically geared toward journalists, and show them tools that can help them do better work. I’m launching this next week.

2. The Student Guest Blog project — The big challenge for college students with blogs is finding an audience. I’d like to open up my blog to any student who wants to write about how to do better work. I’d be able to offer editing help and blog advice to those students, and they’d be able to use that post on “Good. Better. Done.” to help pitch future guest blogs elsewhere.

3. The “Almost Famous” blog challenge — I love the movie “Almost Famous,” but I always wondered what the main character’s final story for Rolling Stone would look like. So I’m going to write it up myself — a 3,000 word piece about the fictional band, Stillwater — and I’m going to invite others to submit their own versions of William Miller’s story.

4. The Good. Better. Done. Newsletter — A weekly update from yours truly about doing better work and links/awesomeness that can inspire such work.
 

Stuff That Could Actually Happen In The Next 1-3 Years.

 
5. The Indecisive Man —> This is a manifesto I started writing in early 2012 dedicated to shaking self doubt and getting to work on work that matters.

6. Belly Challenge 2.0 — Belly Challenge 1.0 — between my father and I — was a huge success. Each of us lost 20+ pounds over the course of the year. But I’d like to invite others into the Challenge, and to create a small network of people who push each other to work out and improve their lives through regular exercise. When trying to lose weight/get in shape, having a team behind you makes a huge difference.

7. Guide to Startup Journalism — Using what I’ve learned from Stry.us, I’d create a guide to the initial steps in starting up a journalism business. I’d focus on the things that don’t often get emphasized: The importance of getting the right business structure set up; finding a payroll service; launching a website; etc.

8. 1000tinysteps.com — A blog devoted to all of the little steps someone can take to get moving on a project, an idea or an adventure.

9. The Monday Morning Work Podcast — I’ve found that I’m always more excited when I start the week with a good conversation. So I’d like to start hosting a live podcast each Monday morning — 15 to 30 minutes long — about doing work and getting inspired. Each podcast would be built around a single conversation.

10. The College Graduate’s Guide to Getting a Job — I really want to help people who are about to go through early career decisions. I’d love to start by helping walk students through the basic career steps — how to network, how to build a portfolio site, how to do better interviews — in an online class.

11. The “How Can I Help?” sessions — A block of time each week in which I make myself available via phone to early career journalists (and other young people) to help in whatever way I can — from career advice to resume help.
 

Stuff That Would Be Awesome But That I’d Need Lots of Help On.

 
12. “30 Conversations” — One of the things that I loved about Stry.us was that we gave people who otherwise wouldn’t have a say the opportunity to get their voice heard. I’d love to have 30 conversations with Americans in the days leading up to a big event — i.e. an election — about the issues that are on our minds.

Dayquil13. The I’m On Dayquil Gmail hack —> When I get sick, I go straight to Dayquil, and I get a little loopy on those orange pills. But I still try to send out email and do work when I’m sick. I really need a Gmail hack so that I can add something to my email signature when I’m on Dayquil, something that says, “Dan’s sick and on Dayquil. If this email makes less sense than usual, that’s the reason why.”

14. Dog and their Owners, Losing Weight Together: A reality show — I think that done right, reality shows can produce some really amazing stories. This would be one about dogs and their owners, losing weight together. It’d be a show about companionship, a show about trust — and a show that inspires. Done right, it’d tell some amazing stories about Americans and the role that pets play in our lives. Some reality shows are trashy, but I think this could really break the mold — again, if done with care.

15. ReadLocally.com — A site featuring great, original long-form journalism produced for specific local communities. It’d be for newsrooms at the intersection of hyper-local and long-form — think projects like Stry.us for Springfield.

16. TravelGoesWrong.com (or: WhenTravelGoesWrong.com) — A site devoted to first-person testimonials about horrifyingly bad travel experiences.

17. The Big Book of Sleep — For as long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with sleep. What most people don’t realize is that sleep is a multi-billion dollar industry in this country. That includes the money spent on beds, sleep aids and sleep-related research. And if you count work hours lost to exhaustion, I bet the number would be several billion dollars higher. I’d love to write a book on the industry and how important sleep has become in America.
 

Stuff That’s Probably Never Going To Happen

 
18. The Plus-1 Network — A small email listserv for young professionals who love going to weddings. When someone on the listserv needs someone awesome to come along as a plus-1 to a wedding, the listserv would step up.

19. ThisFuckingJob.com — A site devoted to helping people escape cubicle life and find meaning from their work. Also: The most memorable name of any domain I’ve ever purchased.

20. TV Dinners That Were On TV — A website featuring recipes that you saw your favorite characters make on TV. Kevin’s mom on “The Wonder Years” and Betty on “The Flintstones” always seemed to be cooking up awesome dishes, and here, we’d try to figure out how to make them.

21. Body By Thin Mints — A few months ago, I made my dad a joke T-shirt with the slogan “Body By Thin Mints” on it. He wears it everywhere. I’d love to turn this into a line of joke clothing for fellow Girl Scout cookie lovers, but I’d also like to not get sued by the Girl Scouts.

22. UsuallyAlways — Last year, a friend caught me responding a question of hers with the phrase, “Usually always.” I liked how it sounded, and I’ve decided: If I ever start a production company, Usually Always will be its name. Of course, first I have to figure out what the hell “usually always” means. (Also, I need to learn what a production company does.)

23. Start my own community newspaper — I’m not sure why I don’t see young career journalists trying this, actually. Go to a small town. Buy a paper — they’re selling for almost nothing. And see if you and small team of really dedicated young people can experiment and hustle your way to success. With a really amazing team on board, I might consider this. But after Stry.us, I also know how crazy you have to be to attempt something like this.

24. Why Choose News! —> A list of reasons why people should read news sites every day. The entire idea is based around one fake poster I made earlier this year. (See right.)

25. SeeDanGo.com — A site dedicated to my personal travels — you know, once I make the first billion and dedicate my life to world traveling. :-)

So that’s what I’ve got. Maybe there’s something on here you’d like to work with me on? Shoot me an email or a tweet.

Maybe there’s something you’d like to steal for yourself? That’s cool, too.

Because here’s what I know: Ideas are only worth so much. Execution’s really what matters.

Photo of the lightbulb via here. Indecisiveness via here. Dayquil via here.

The September Edition of The Awesome File.

LOVE

Every month, I put together a list of 10 things to inspire you to do better work. This is The Awesome File.

Inside this month’s Awesome File: Reality checks! Great stories! Serendipity! And a guide to getting $15,000 in free travel!

Read on:

1. READ: ‘Do Not Ask What Good We Do.’

I’ll start this month’s Awesome File with a fantastic, topical — but slightly depressing read. It’s called Do Not Ask What Good We Do, and it’s an inside look at the House of Representatives from 2010 to 2012. The reporting takes readers inside the screwed up world of Congress, where our elected officials are too busy fighting to actually get anything done. Read it and you’ll realize: Our political system really needs a kick in the pants.

2. CONSIDER: ‘Why You Can’t Be Anything You Want To Be’

Maybe a blog post like this could wake Congress up. “Why You Can’t Be Anything You Want To Be” is a call to action. Simply, it says:

We started to emphasize passion over discipline. Dreaming over doing. Positivity over pragmatism. And the end result was we became people convinced we get to do whatever we want, even if nobody wants it and even if we’re not particularly qualified to do it.

And then it goes on to explain what our priorities really should be. (A hint: Building and doing come first.) Read it and get inspired.

3. LEARN: ‘The Writing Class You Never Had’

This also might help. It’s a fantastic primer on how to write — the right way. When you’re doing it right, you’re starting too soon, you’re getting in over you’re head, and you’re figuring it out as you go. Great writing, you’ll learn, starts with screwing things up.

4. WATCH: A Great Product Pitch

When you learn how to write well, you’ll start to tell great stories. And anyone can tell great stories. Here’s proof: This is the product video for Do, a new productivity app. It’s as good — and as funny — a story as you’ll see all day.

5. REINVENT: Reworking Your Resume

Great writing and storytelling can come in so many forms, I believe. It can come in the form of books or blogs or product videos — or even in the form of a great resume. 99U shows off a few highly original and unusual resumes that tell a great story. How do you get hired in this economy? Tell a great story and present it in a way that no employer can forget.

6. GET OUT THERE: ‘Manufacturing Serendipity’

It won’t hurt, either, to get out and do some networking. The great Rand Fishkin explains how networking really works in this blog post. I can vouch for his methods myself. Get out, meet a lot of people, listen well and connect often. Repeat over and over. Eventually, if you’re doing awesome work, you’ll start to meet the people who can help get you over the top.

7. LISTEN: To Yourself, Especially

And this advice is also crucial: Listen to yourself.

“‘What should I be doing now?’ is a question I get a lot from people in their 20s. The answer is that you should be respecting yourself as you learn about yourself. You should give yourself the space to do anything and then look closely to see what you enjoy. You do not need to get paid for what you enjoy, but you need to find a way to commit to what you enjoy, and then use that as a foundation to grow your adult life.”

Amen to that.

8. HUSTLE: The Burger Delivery Website

Your 20s are also a fantastic time to hustle. Here’s my favorite recent example of hustle: It’s a website that will deliver a burger to anyone in San Francisco for only $10. It uses existing tools and a cheap website to deliver a really cool and simple product idea. I love this, and I think more people should steal an idea like this.

9. TRAVEL: The Credit Card Challenge

Speaking of hustle: Chris Guillebeau is a notorious for refusing to conform to traditional ideas. This month, he’s posted his Frequent Flyer Challenge, in which he’s applying to dozens of credit cards to earn $15,000 in free travel. And once you’ve gotten those miles, consider flying into these airports. Just make sure you get the perfect seat for landing.

10. STAND UP: Soledad O’Brien’s Awesome Interview

I close The Awesome File with this: a CNN interview from Soledad O’Brien in which she commits a seriously awesome act of journalism on air. Just watch.

That’s it for this month’s The Awesome File. Got something you’d like to share for next month’s edition? Tweet at me with your suggestions.

That awesome photo at top comes via Javier Delgado.

Success Is….

“Success is never owned, it’s only rented; and whether you win or lose, the rent is still due every day.” — Rory Vaden

 
Success isn’t an easy thing to define. It is — at best — elusive. You set a goal, and then when you get there, you find that the goalposts have moved. Your definition of it has changed.

Still, I’m finding on a day-to-day basis that there are ways to measure success — and they’re not quite what you might expect.

Success is…

Taking the first step.

…Getting to unexpected places and knowing how to find your way out.

…That smile when you mention what you do.

…Surprising yourself with answers you didn’t know you knew and lessons you didn’t realize you’d learned.

…Being willing to do work every day.

Finding your focus.

Defining your greatness.

…A to-do list that’s been finished off and loaded up again for the next day.

…Loving something and giving everything to it.

…Staying in over your head without fear of eventually going under.

Finishing what you start.

Most of all, success is often unexpected — even when you’ve been chasing it all along.

That gold medal at the top comes via @johnphotography.

An Oshinsky Family Lesson: Do Big Things With Crazy Amounts of Love.

“Of all the things to be picky about, people is the most important.” — Nick Seguin

 
Two years ago, I wrote a happy birthday message to my mother on this blog. It read:

“A very happy birthday to you, mom, without whom this blog would not be possible, and without whom I would be rendered hopelessly, painfully normal.”

Normal.

Normal.

Normal.

I shudder just thinking about it.

Normal isn’t something we Oshinskys do, and it gets us some weird looks. I’ve done a lot of things that I keep being told I’m not supposed to have done. For me, lots of stuff has come out of order. I covered my first NFL game before I went on my first real date. My first paid job in newspapers wasn’t a full-time gig, but it did involve covering the Olympics in Beijing.

This thing I hear from others — that there is some sort of order to this life — has never really applied to me, and I don’t mind that at all.

Mine is my path, and I’m rather fond of where it’s been taking me, potholes and steep climbs and all.

I learned the ways of the unmarked path from my family. The Oshinsky family does not do ordinary.

My father, at 55, decided he wanted to get into the best shape of his life, and he spent a year doing just that.

My mother, at 52, decided she wanted to run a marathon, and she finished at a 14:30-per-mile pace.

My sister decided she wanted to spend a semester of high school studying abroad — and then pulled off five months on the beaches of the Bahamas.

My brother decided he wanted to use his bar mitzvah for good, and raised $15,000 to build a playground in post-Katrina New Orleans.

I do not believe that we are an extraordinary family. We are not the smartest people you will ever meet, and we are certainly not the most athletic.

But in the Oshinsky family, we take pride in our work. We do big things with great amounts of love. We hustle.

When we go for something, we go all in.

I cannot imagine life any other way.

That photo at top is of my little sister, Ellen. She does crazy beach workouts.

The First Step To Greatness Is Defining It.

An empty Hammons Field

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.” — William Hutchinson Murray

 
There’s a moment you’ve probably never seen at a stadium. It’s about 30 minutes after the game ends. The fans are already on their way home. The ushers are cleaning up the aisles. The grounds crew is on the field. The lights are still on.

And there’s this strange quiet in the stadium. There’s no music playing, no athletes on the field.

What you’re left with is a big, empty stadium, just waiting for someone to come on in and do something amazing.

It’s impossible to look at an empty stadium — for me, at least — and not think about all the great things that are yet to come in such a place. When I look at a stadium, I see an incredible stage on which greatness can and will soon exist.

For many of us, such greatness is elusive. It’s within all of us, but it can’t just be unleashed on the world. Greatness, like anything else, needs to be focused.

Here’s the thing with greatness: First you have to define it, and only after you’ve done that can you go out and actually be great.

That’s what I love about sports: It’s easy for an athlete to define greatness. It’s defined by what happens on the field — the plays they make, the records they set. Sports give athletes a defined space and structure in which they can be great.

Outside of sports, greatness is a little harder to define. To the entrepreneur, to the writer, to the salesman, what is greatness? There are no rules out there in the real world — just you and your work.

So define how you will be great. And there are so many ways to do it. There is greatness in being a great dad or a great friend. There is greatness is shooting for the moon.

There is greatness in taking the first step.

Not all of us have — in the literal sense — those big stadiums, where the lights are shining and just waiting for us to step out and do something great.

But all of us have those places within us. When we define them, we build them — and we give ourselves the stage on which great work gets done and great dreams get achieved.

Go find your stage. Define your greatness, and then go out and be it.

That photo at top is of an empty Hammons Field in Springfield, Mo. It was taken by yours truly.

The August Edition of The Awesome File.

Last month, I published the first edition of The Awesome File, a list of 10 awesome things that you should make time for each month.(1) It’s August, and that means The Awesome File is back, with 10 new awesome things for your month ahead.

Inside this month’s installment of The Awesome File: Stories of Olympic awesomeness! Feats of tremendous hustle! And sexual decadence!

Read on — and be awesome this month:

1. READ: Joe Posnanski on Rulon Gardner

Like everyone else, I’ve been watching a lot of the Olympics lately. To keep you in the spirit of the Games, here’s the craziest Olympics story you’ll ever read. (If you’ve never seen the event that inspired that story, you can watch it here.)

2. PAUSE: Nike’s Find Your Greatness Ads

My personal favorite part of the Olympics? The ads. Per usual, Nike’s produced a whopper. This one’s about all the Londons and all the greatness in the world:

3. HUSTLE: Here’s How Hard You Have To Work To Make Things Happen

And now that you’re inspired, here are three amazing tales of hustle. The first is a basement-to-breakthrough kind of story. The second is a tale of full on hustle. And the third is about an awesome portfolio site that got big — and rightfully so. Inspiring stories, all.

4. APPLY: The New York Public Library’s Wikipedian-in-Chief opening

And while you’re thinking about work, here’s something you don’t see every day: A job opening involving Wikipedia. It’s unpaid, yes, but doesn’t the thought of putting the words “Wikipedian-In-Chief” on your resume make you want to apply just a little?

5. WATCH: Charlie LeDuff Golf Across Detroit

Great things start with baby steps, not big leaps. And here’s Charlie LeDuff proving that by golfing across Detroit. One man, 18 miles, 2,575 strokes — and one great story.

6. CONSIDER: Robin Sloan’s Javascript-Based Book Review

Here’s something I’ve been asking a lot lately: Why do we do things the way we’ve always done them? Mostly, this has involved me digging into a more specific question: Why do we tell stories the way we’ve always told stories?

And then I see something new and awesome, and I get all excited. Per evidence, I would like to submit this book review by Robin Sloan. You have never seen a book review quite like this before.

7. READ: “Dear American Airlines,” by Jonathan Miles

On that note: You also probably haven’t seen a novel quite like this before. It’s called “Dear American Airlines: A Novel.” It’s the story of one man’s miserable trip through O’Hare International, and anyone who’s flown to Chicago knows what this guy’s talking about.

8. LOOK: National Geographic’s Traveler Photo Contest 2012

Of course, once you get outside of the airport, you might find some amazing things, too. Like these fantastic, reader-submitted photos from trips abroad.

9. LAUGH: “One Bed, Two Girls, Three Bottles of Wine,” by Hayes Carll

Apropos of nothing: One day, I want to write a story as good as this. The song title alone is worth the price of admission.

10. LOVE: “How to Manage Your Time”

Simple things can be powerful things. A simple story, a finite focus — that’s often what’s at the root of great work.

Here’s proof, from the awesome Amber Rae:

If that’s not the kick in the pants you need to start focusing on great work, I’m not sure what’ll do the job.

That’s it for this month’s The Awesome File. Got something you’d like to share for next month’s edition. Tweet at me with your suggestions.

  1. And that I hope will inspire you to do great work.

Devour The Moment.

“Now is the time to go for broke.” ― Jeff Goins

 
It became an unofficial life motto of mine about two years ago. I was having a conversation with my friend, Ryan. We were talking about moments. I was about to leave my job to start Stry.us. He was about to finish his master’s degree and get a job.

There was a big moment ahead of us, we agreed. We should enjoy it. That was what people kept telling us. Enjoy it. Savor it.

But then we had this little breakthrough. We didn’t want to merely savor this moment ahead of us.

We wanted to devour it.

Savoring is for little moments: the ice cream cone that’s slowly melting away, the card rush at the Bellagio’s blackjack tables.

But this is life we’re talking about, and you have to devour it whole. You have to take it on. You have to squeeze out everything that you can. You have to take big leaps, big risks, big action.

Work matters. Hustle matters. Love matters.

For nine years of my life, I’ve been a reporter. I’ve been lucky enough to report everywhere from Biloxi to Beijing. I’ve gotten to see some things that most people don’t get to see. I’ve done this job long enough to see the spectrum of what exists in our world: the pain, the joy, the frustration, the hope.

This whole thing is so fragile.

And in a fragile world, there isn’t time to do anything less than go all the way. The moments come and the moments go. We don’t get back time; we have it now, and never again.

So show up and go hard. Smile. Laugh. Work.

Wake up in the morning and devour your moment. This is your time. This is our time. Let’s use it to do great things for our world.

That ridiculous photo of the hippo at top is via @bebopbebop.

Big Auto’s Failures Can Teach Us A Ton About Building A Better Future For News.

“You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.” ― Henry Ford

 
In the late 1880s, Karl Benz built the first modern automobile. In 1908, the first Model T rolled off the assembly line.

And then came the dawn of a new age in America: The age of the automobile.

You know this part of the story.

When most people talk about the birth of the American auto movement, they talk about companies like Ford and Oldsmobile. They talk about the handful of companies that broke through and got their cars into driveways across America.

But they leave out names like Auto-Bug and Biddle and Vulcan, three of the 2,000-some car companies founded in America that have since closed their doors.

2,000 companies entered this space, and today, we’re left with about 15.

This is how it often works at the start of a big movement. In the wake of a breakthrough invention, there’s a rush of people who enter the field to offer up a product. Some survive; most don’t.

And new competitors enter the field, too. Henry Ford wasn’t thinking about skateboards or bikes or subways or buses or helicopters when he built the Model T, but today, they’re all players in the field of transportation.

The point is, at the start, it’s chaos. Over time, chaos weeds out much of the competition. Some companies innovate, but far more die off.

Out of many, few.

So here’s what it means for news:

Right now, we have the web. We’re still not sure how to make this thing work. But we’ve got lots and lots of people entering the field.

We know that what we’re doing really isn’t sustainable. We have readers; what we want are paying customers and partners.

But what I want right now is more competition. I want more people entering the field. I want more people bringing great ideas to the table.

Like Clay Shirky said: Nothing will work, but everything might.

We need more doers. We need more action. Most of us will fail, but that’s alright. It’s entirely possible — maybe even probable — that Stry.us will go the way of the Auto-Bug or the Biddle, just another company forgotten in time.

But in order to build a better future for storytelling, we have to actually do things. I so admire the 2,000 founders behind those initial car companies. They had the right idea, just the wrong luck or team or execution.

But they made something happen. I hope my colleagues in news don’t give in to the inevitability that many of us are going to die off, and that we’ll be left with a few big media conglomerates running the show.

We have to build. We have to create. We have to do.

The rush to build a better story is just beginning. This is no time to idle.

Image of the Model T at top via @erinslomski.