Tag Archives: spread the love

Nancy and Julie.

When I look back on the women who’ve had the most impact on my life, I don’t look to teachers. I don’t look to historical figures.

I look to my mother and her friends. I look most of all to Julie, and I look to Nancy.

About five years ago, Julie died. Cancer.

Last week, Nancy died. Cancer.

And I am at a loss for words — again.

But if there’s something I should say about these two women — these two amazing women, these two women I am so blessed to have had in my life — I say these two things:

Julie and Nancy laughed as hard as any people I’ve ever met.

Julie and Nancy always made you understand that they loved you, and that they put you first.

Laughter and love. Those are two of the most wonderful things in the world, and I know it because of them.

I miss you, Julie, and I’ll miss you, Nancy. Thanks for teaching me so much about this world. I won’t forget it.

You Are Not A Phony.

“It’s all going to be okay.” — Rick Webb

There is a certain point in your life when you realize that you don’t know anything.

Up until that point, you thought you knew what was up. You thought you’d experienced heartbreak. You thought you’d experienced pain.

And then comes this big breakthrough, and you realize, you don’t know jack. You’re just starting your life, and you’re starting from zero, and everyone else seems to know more than you do.

You feel like a fraud, and a phony. You feel like you don’t have anything to offer this world.

And there’s that expression you’ve heard: Fake it ’til you make it. That’s almost true.

Because there’s a second realization that comes a little later: Nobody else knows anything, either.

Everyone, turns out, is kinda faking it. Nobody is just born an astrophysicist or a banker. (And nobody is born or a social media expert.) We mold ourselves into these people. We see what others are doing, we think about what we like to do, and we make ourselves into the people we want to be.

But we are all just making this up — and figuring this out — as we go along. All of us.

And once you realize that, you don’t feel like a phony. You don’t know anything, but hell, neither does anybody else. We’re all just trying to make it work in this world.

So just do good work and surround yourself with good people, and you’ll be okay. It’s normal to feel like you don’t know anything.

We all feel that way, and we’re all in this thing together.

The Thing That Makes The Internet So Amazing.

“The future ain’t what it used to be.” — Yogi Berra

In Feb. 1995, Newsweek published a story titled, “Why Web Won’t Be Nirvana.” It is a piece that has not aged well.

And this is my favorite quote from the story:

“What’s missing from this electronic wonderland? Human contact. Discount the fawning techno-burble about virtual communities. Computers and networks isolate us from one another.”

Which is, of course, not what played out.

What makes the internet so amazing in 2013 is that we have such powerful communities. NPR keeps chugging along because there’s such a strong community that supports it. Kickstarter’s a place where community directly funds its most creative members. Tumblr, Twitter, Reddit — they’re all places built and maintained by communities.

For all of the amazing stuff about the web, it turns out it’s the people that makes it such an amazing place. And when you leave out the people — when you don’t ship your work, or you avoid your communities on the web — you miss out on the thing that makes the internet so great.

What Really Matters.

“To practice courage and compassion is to look at life and the people around us, and to say, ‘I’m all in.'” — Brené Brown

What really matters in this life?

People. That’s it.

Get good people in your life. People who lift you up. People who challenge you. People who help make you you.

People matter.

Money, anger, jealousy, things — the rest of it is just filler.

Find good people, and you’ll understand what makes this life all it can be.

How You Know.

Love Letters | Schipul Love Fest 2011

“There’s always better. There’s always faster. There’s always more. But there will never be another now.” — Dustin Curtis

A question I’ve gotten a lot this year:

How do you know?

How do you know when you’re doing something you really, really love? How do you know when you’re doing the work that’s meant for you?

The answer is a strange one: You just kind of know.

Here’s how I knew with Stry.us: At the end of last year, things were starting to ramp up with the project. Then my family asked me to join them out west to go skiing for a few days. I took a week off. And after a few days, I found myself on a chairlift thinking a very strange thought.

That night, I wrote this note to myself:

“I had a weird sensation today. I was on the slopes, skiing. And I realized: I shouldn’t be here. I should be working.

“I actually WANT to be working right now. Rather than skiing.”

It was a strange feeling. It was the first time in my life that I can ever remember wanting not to vacation.

My work, I realized, was just more fun.

The more I talk to people who do work that they love, the more I hear that same refrain: At some point, I just knew. I wish there was a better way to measure it, but I haven’t found it just yet.

When it’s right, there’s something that finally just clicks inside of you.

So if you’re searching for the right work, make sure you listen to yourself. If you find yourself telling friends that you can’t go out for a drink because you’ve got some work you really want to do, then you’re doing something you love.

If you find yourself setting your alarm earlier in the morning so you can squeeze more work into your day, you’re doing something you love.

And if you’re considering flying home from a ski vacation on New Year’s Eve so that you can get back to work — well, you’re definitely doing something you love.

But if you’re not getting that feeling — that sense that what you’re doing is so important and so awesome that everything else should go on hold — then maybe it’s time to start searching for new work.

That photo at top comes via.

Excuses We All Tell Ourselves.

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change. — Brené Brown

There is a voice in the back of your head that’s trying to tell you that what you want to do cannot be done.

All of us hear that voice. It leaves us wondering things like:

Where do I even begin to start?

Tomorrow will be better.

What if it doesn’t work?

I’m scared.

I’m worried.

I doubt.

I fear.

I’m not sure this is the right path.

I don’t know enough to get moving.

I’m a fraud. Doesn’t everyone know I can’t do this?

If this fails — I’m a failure.

Wrong. So, so SO wrong.

Many days, you are your own biggest hater. I know I am some days.

I doubt. I fear. I worry.

It happens to all of us. Every single one of us who does this work — we fight these voices off every day.

But there is a way past it.

Commit to the work. Hustle. Follow your effort. Start, and then keep going.

The voices don’t go away. But over time, you learn how to crush them. You learn how to fight them off.

Don’t let them overwhelm you. You have enough — right now, I promise you — to start. You have much more than you know.

Work, don’t worry.

That fortune cookie photo comes via @nellicoco.

How Can I Help You?

“You have to put in many, many, many tiny efforts that nobody sees or appreciates before you achieve anything worthwhile.” — Brian Tracy

I am at a very unusual point in my life. I have put in a lot of tiny efforts. I’m closing in on 10 years since my very first published clip, back in 2003 in the Boston Globe. I have had internships and jobs. I’ve covered the Olympics. I’ve built stuff that worked, and I’ve built stuff that didn’t. I have a whole bunch of projects in the works now.

The big breakthrough has not yet come. But I’m also starting to realize: It’s not a big breakthrough that I’ve been working toward all these years.

What I’ve been working toward is a place where I can do what I really love: Helping other people tell great stories and do great work.

The next stage of my life will be defined by a very simple question: How can I help?

That’s why I launched the toolsforreporters.com newsletter this week. I want to help other reporters do their job even better.

And it’s why over the coming months, I want to do more to help others — especially young people who are about to go through the post-college phase that I’ve just gone through.

How can I help you? Let’s get in touch. If I can help — even if it’s just offering up a link or a tool or a few words of advice — I want to.

I Now Pronounce You Husband… and Tribe.

“Revolution is whatever you want it to be, and it’s wherever you want it to go…. And the people you meet, from the mundane to the most inspiring, are the ones who will unlock it, break it open, or help you find it.” ― Jonathan Kalan

I went to a rather lovely wedding this weekend. It was a small wedding — just about 80 guests — and it felt even more intimate than that.

One of the couple’s friends, a pastor, led the ceremony. He said one thing that really struck me: Weddings are traditionally not just a joining of two people. They’re a joining of two families.

They’re a joining of the community behind this new couple, the community that will support and love and push these newlyweds forward through the world.

I love this idea. It’s at the root of what’s behind Stry.us — and every other business, venture, project or love that’s worthy of sharing.

To build something amazing, you need a community to support you and your work. You need that love. You need that tribe, to steal a phrase from Seth Godin.

Without a community of supporters, “Titanic” is just a movie about a boat sinking. “Seinfield” is just a bunch of actors talking about nothing. Starbucks is just a place with a large supply of coffee beans.

But when you bring community into the mix — when you add in family and friends and people who obsess over and love what you do — then you can create things that are truly powerful. Then you can create epic movies or TV shows or brands.

When you launch any sort of work into the world, what you’re really doing is joining together your work and your community. Together, the two can make something incredible.

The work alone is not enough. You need that community, too.

Get your work out into the world quickly. Your tribe is out there waiting for it.

That gorgeous photo of a bride comes via @yuanachan

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.

How You Hug Is How You Do Everything In This World.

I am a large human, and as a large human, I tend to give out really big hugs. They come in many forms: Bear hugs, bro hugs and — best of all — lift-you-off-the-ground-and-swing-you-around hugs.

I have a friend who loves the latter type of hugs almost as much as I do. She’s amazing in every sense of the word. When we go to concerts, she’s the one dancing as though nobody else is watching. When she was at college, she was an athlete, and the football team bought this new accelerometer machine to measure how much impact a defensive lineman could make on impact. She was the only female athlete crazy enough to line up opposite this machine and run full speed at it.(1)

And her hugs — oh, the hugs! When she hugs, she does so arms extended, feet completely leaving the ground. She does not hug as much as she leaps into your waiting arms.

This is how she does everything.

It’s really an incredible way to face the challenges of this life. Embrace the world — and all its magic — with everything you have. Leave nothing behind.

Jump into the things you love best, and know that when you need it most, you’ll find amazing people waiting there to catch you.

Thanks to Instagram user @jimmyjoephoto for the amazing photo at top.

  1. She almost dislocated her shoulder in the process.