I Am 32 Years Old. This Is What I Believe.

I am 32 years old, and I’ve taken the leap. Twelve months ago, I was at The New Yorker — a dream job at a dream organization — and focused on the work ahead of me. Nine months ago, I started giving regular talks about how news organizations could get more out of email, and realized that I could help those newsrooms in a more hands-on way — you know, in the future. Six months ago, I started thinking that maybe that work could happen sooner, possibly as soon as mid-2020. Three months ago, I left The New Yorker and launched a consultancy to start the work immediately.

This year moved fast.

What changed? I started asking more questions of my colleagues in other newsrooms, and really listening to what they were telling me. I heard over and over again: We need help growing our audience and turning them into subscribers or supporters, and we want to learn from the work you’ve done at BuzzFeed and The New Yorker. I realized that my moment to help was right now, and that if I wanted to serve this community, the work couldn’t wait.

So I made the leap. I’m thankful for everyone who had my back: The friends and family who offered support (and free legal aid!), the colleagues who helped me figure out how to approach consulting work, and the readers who reached out to work with me (and told their networks to do the same). This consultancy is just me, but it also feels like the biggest team I’ve ever been apart of. I feel incredibly, incredibly lucky.

This year, I’ve given talks on four continents in front of more than 100 news organizations. I’ve written more than 35,000 words about email for newsrooms and non-profits, and had nearly 3,000 readers in more than 50 countries sign up to be alerted every time I write. I’ve launched a consultancy, signed more than 20 clients, and helped launch dozens of email products.

It’s been the single most transformative year of my life, and the work’s only just begun. I don’t know what the future holds, but I’m pretty sure I can see just around the corner — and what’s coming next is exciting and terrifying all at once. I can’t wait.

Above all, I’m thankful for Sally. A year ago, the idea of leaving my job to start my own business — while she was still in school! — would have been unthinkable. But it was Sally who gave me the green light to do this. She kept telling me: “You can’t wait. You have to do this now.” I’m remarkably lucky to be married to someone so supportive, and so selfless. Doing this work meant that I would be busier than ever before, and traveling more than ever — and yet, she’s been my biggest champion. I wouldn’t have, couldn’t have done this without her. Every day, I try to do work that makes her proud.

Over the past year, there are certain things I’ve come to believe hold true. I know that my beliefs will continue to change. I know that I will change.

But here, at 32, is what I believe:

God bless Google Docs.

I tend to oscillate between “This is going to work!!!” and “Holy shit, what am I doing???” on a weekly basis. I’m scared and excited, but never bored, and always thrilled to be doing this work. That’s how I know I’m in the right place.

Nobody has everything they want. Life is about making the most of whatever you have.

Just be honest with people. If you screw up, if you don’t have the answer, if you’ve got something that needs to be known: Be open, be transparent, and be direct. It’s the best way.

Doing the right thing is usually the right thing.

Be confident but not arrogant. There’s a line there. Don’t cross it.

Keep making things better. I gave this one talk six different times this year — but every time, I learned something new, and then made the next one a little better. Just because the work is finished doesn’t mean the work is done.

Life is unexpected. One minute you’re waiting in the Brisbane airport, thinking about the giant presentation you need to put together on the flight home. The next, you’re freaking out because your water bottle leaked in your backpack and your laptop’s dead and the presentation’s in 36 hours and you’re completely, totally fucked. The next, you’re wondering why there can’t be an Apple Store inside the airport. The next, you’re walking through duty free and realizing: They sell MacBooks here — tax free! The next, you’re boarding your flight, passport in one hand, the brand new laptop you bought 20 minutes ago booting up and restoring all your files from the cloud so you can finish that presentation on the plane.

Like I said: Life is unexpected, but also pretty amazing if you’re ready for it.

New rule for traveling: Water bottles always stay outside your backpack.

Whatever it is you do, be the best at it. I’ll always be thankful to The New Yorker for teaching me that.

Less isn’t always more — but it’s enough.

When you start traveling regularly, you’ll realize that the four greatest words in the English language are: “Sir, we’ve upgraded you.”

Listen. Learn. Work. Repeat.

Right now, everything is potential — and potential is pure fucking joy.

Privilege is a tailwind, and I’ve had a strong wind at my back all these years. I know I’m lucky, and want to do the most I can with this opportunity for as long as I can.

And lastly: You don’t have to have all the answers when you start. Keep trying new things, and keep learning along the way. You’ll get there.

I Am 31 Years Old. This Is What I Believe.

I am 31 years old, but I know I’m not too old to try something new. It was a year ago, right around Thanksgiving, when Sally made an incredibly brave choice: After nearly a decade in social work, she decided she wanted to go back to school to pursue a new career in nursing. We talked about the sacrifices she’d have to make to become a nurse, the work she’d have to put in. But we both knew: If she didn’t do this now, she might never get the chance again.

In January, Sally started taking classes at a community college in the city. It hasn’t been easy. There was a stretch those first few weeks where she’d come home every other night in tears. “Can I do this?” she’d ask me. “Should I drop this class?” But she always kept at it. I’ve watched her grow at school: making new friends, forming study groups, going to office hours and study halls, and taking notes until her hands hurt. She’s made more than 6,000 flash cards this year —I’ve got the Amazon order history to prove it. But my greatest joy has been those nights when Sally’s asked me to stay up late to stay with her to study, and I’ve asked her about something on one of those note cards, and her face lights up. “Oh my God, so this is so cool…” she’ll say, and then talk for five minutes straight about the human heart or the periodic table or a concept she learned in bio. I’ve known Sally for six years, and we’ve been married for two, but I didn’t know that the woman I married was this hard-working, this tough, this smart. I do now.

A few weeks ago, Sally got into nursing school. She starts in January. I’m so proud of her — of the work she’s put in, of the dream she’s still chasing, of this idea that with a nursing degree and a social work background, she can do even more to help her patients. I know how lucky I am to be married to someone who has the courage to do this.  She’s an absolute wonder, and she’s going to be an amazing nurse.

Over the past year, there are certain things I’ve come to believe hold true. I know that my beliefs will continue to change. I know that I will change.

But here, at 31, is what I believe:

You can learn something from everyone. You just have to ask the right questions.

There are going to be moments when you look at former classmates or colleagues and think that they’re ahead of you in their careers. Remember these words: You are not behind. There is no timeline but yours.

Your plan can be complex. But your goal should be simple.

Leadership means being willing to accept blame, even when it’s not your fault, and doling out praise to others, even when you deserve the credit.

If you’re reading, you’re learning. Read more.

New York City can be such a frustrating place to live. But once a month, it still does something that makes me go, “I can’t imagine living anywhere else.”

The staff at LaGuardia Community College deserves so much credit for Sally’s success this year. I’ve been so impressed with the resources — in particular, the study halls for several classes, and the library — that they have for their students. I’ll always be thankful for the support they gave Sally — she couldn’t have done this without them.

Wedding hashtags are out. 2019 will be the year of the shared iCloud wedding album.

It’s O.K. to believe.

Be kind. The world needs more of it.

Commit to making time for something simple in the year ahead. Make a goal to try the crossword every morning, or to invite friends over for a home-cooked dinner ever week, or to see live music once a month. It’s the little things that often make you the happiest.

And one last thing: This year was incredible in so many ways. I got to launch some new products at work. I got to see some of my favorite people in the world get married. I got to drink champagne out of the Stanley Cup. I got to watch my wife take an incredible step in her career. I am so lucky, and thankful, for all of this.

I Am 30 Years Old. This Is What I Believe.

Dan Oshinsky talking to the Digital Brisbane podcast

I am 30 years old, and I have so much more to learn. I’ve gotten the chance to work with amazing people at BuzzFeed and The New Yorker. I’ve led teams, launched products, and given talks at conferences. I’ve even been introduced on stage as an “expert” in my field.

But I am definitely not an expert. I’m only just starting to learn how to do this job, and learning how to build and lead teams that can do amazing work. I left my last job partially because I felt like I was no longer being challenged in my role, and I hated feeling like I wasn’t pushing myself to get better. There is a lot I can’t control in my work, but I can control the way I develop my skills and learn new things.

Complacency is the enemy of the work — and I’m determined to keep learning and keep growing.

Over the past year, there are certain things I’ve come to believe hold true. I know that my beliefs will continue to change. I know that I will change.

But here, at 30, is what I believe:

You don’t need to be able to predict the future — but it helps if you can see what’s coming around the corner.

Direction is more important than speed. It doesn’t matter how fast you’re going if you’re headed the wrong way.

The smartest people I know ask a lot of great questions, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

If you’re in a job where everybody else is smarter than you, you’re challenged every day, and you feel like a complete impostor, congratulations! You’re in the right place.

There’s always a way.

Challenge the ideas you hear about. Don’t take other people’s successes or failures at face value. Test them for yourself and see what works for you.

I need to get better at so many things: Not offering unsolicited advice. Asking questions even when I think I know the answer already. Saying “no” when I don’t have the time.

I am not particularly good at anything by myself. Everything I do well, I do with people I love.

One the hardest parts of getting older is deciding what you really want to spend your money and time on, and actually sticking to it.

The best nights out are the most unexpected.

Everything is better shared.

Four magic words that will change the way you fly: “Can you help me?” People can be so rude when they travel. Just be kind, and ask for help. It’ll take you far.

Overcommunicate. Don’t assume that people around you are on the same page. Make sure they know what’s expected of them, and what they expect of you.

Your plan isn’t much of a plan if you can’t get your team to buy in.

When you’re making a big decision, lay out all the options, get all the information you can, and make the best choice with what you have. It won’t always lead to the right outcome, but you don’t have much control over the outcome. Worry about what you can control: the process, and the work.

And most of all: Every day, I try to be a little more: more enthusiastic, more helpful, more loving. I’m so lucky to have married a woman who is all of those things — and, yes, even more. I love you more than ever, Sally.


That photo at top was taken by the @DigitalBrisbane team.

I Am 29 Years Old. This Is What I Believe.


I am 29 years old, and I’m learning how to be grateful for the life I have. The truth is, I don’t know what happens next. I don’t know what I’ll be doing next year, or where I’ll be working. I don’t know if the big decisions that are just ahead for me and my wife are ones we’ll be making sooner or later. All I know is that this year, the changes kept coming, and there’s still more to come. A year ago, I wrote: “By the time I write the 2016 version of this post, things could be very, very different.” If only I’d known how right I’d be!

But with all the uncertainty, I keep coming back to one thought: I’m a truly lucky guy. I get to come home every day to my wife and share a home with her. I am so grateful to have married someone so kind and big-hearted and silly and wonderful — and have married into a family equally warm and generous.

I know I’m grateful to have siblings I can count on, and parents who have always supported me — even when others lost faith. My wife and I are especially lucky to have such incredible friends, a group that keeps us anchored even when everything around us seems to change. We have good-paying, stable jobs. We have our health.

We really do have a lot to be thankful for.

And the older I get, the more I understand how important it is to find a few moments every day for gratitude. There is a lot we can’t control about our world. Best not to worry about all that, and instead be grateful for the lives we have and the company we keep.

Over the past year, there are certain things I’ve come to believe hold true. I know that my beliefs will continue to change. I know that I will change.

But here, at 29, is what I believe:

What you say matters. What you do matters more. How you treat people matters most.

Ask more questions. There’s always more to learn.

Words to live by: It takes a lot to know a little.

If you wait until you’re 100% ready to try something, you’re already too late.

Read more. The smartest people I know are always reading, and especially reading things that challenge them.

Travel more. Travel to places that inspire you, and travel to places that make you uncomfortable. Travel isn’t just for vacation — it’s also an opportunity to learn.

A great wedding has three things: Enough food, enough drink, and enough dancing. That’s it. Everything else is just for show.

Be someone who gives wedding gifts months before the wedding. As soon as you find a couple’s registry, buy them something, and make it something they’ll use. They won’t remember most of the things they got, but they’ll remember your gift, and they’ll love you for it..

Thanksgiving leftovers > Thanksgiving dinner (and it’s not even close).

Some things are worth spending a little extra money on: A direct flight. A comfortable bed. Nice shoes. Pay a little extra now, or pay for it in time or pain later.

Ever been in a room where you look around and realize, “I have something to learn from everyone in here”? That’s a great feeling.

You don’t need permission to do the best things in life — to get dinner with a friend, to call someone you care about, to try something new.

And most of all: Nobody knows what happens next. So don’t wait. Get moving. The good stuff is worth working for.

I Am 28 Years Old. This Is What I Believe.

the entire family

I am 28 years old, and everything is about to change — again. That’s what happens when things start to seem settled in your life. You meet a girl, and she’s amazing. You move in together. You’re in a job you like, and you’ve been doing it well for a long time. (Well, “long” as far as internet standards go.) Things are good!

And then you look at the calendar year ahead and realize: You have 11 weddings to go to next year. Eleven! And one of them is yours! Your friends are having kids and buying homes. You drive through the suburbs and think, Having more space might not be so bad!

It hasn’t all happened yet. But it’s happening. By the time I write the 2016 version of this post, things could be very, very different.

For now, though, there’s 28, and it’s been an incredible year. Over the past year, there are certain things I’ve come to believe hold true. I know that my beliefs will continue to change. I know that I will change.

But here, at 28, is what I believe:

The hardest part of the work isn’t getting it going — it’s keeping it going, week after week, year after year.

End results matter, but the routines and processes you use to get there are so much more important. Master those, and the results you want will come more often than not.

When you stop feeling like a little like an impostor at work, that means it’s probably time to take on a brand new challenge. You should always have something to prove.

There are so many big, weird ideas I want to try. I’m just waiting for the right teams and the right time to try them with.

Inbox Zero is too hard. Shoot for, like, Inbox Twelve. It’s more do-able.

The no. 1 secret to wedding-related sanity: Stay the hell off Pinterest.

Travel reveals who you really are when things get stressful. So if you’re dating someone, and you’re thinking about popping the question, and you haven’t taken a big trip, well: Maybe it’s time to see how much a round trip for two to Thailand costs.

I don’t know what happens at my alma mater next, but I do know this: We stood up for Michael Sam. We stood up for Jonathan Butler. We can stand up for a whole lot more, Mizzou.

Once a week, reach out to a friend you haven’t talked to in a while. Write an email. Send a text. Or (and this sounds crazy): Make an actual phone call! The 15 minutes you spend laughing and catching up might be the best 15 minutes of your week.

I still think this is the year my Washington Capitals are going to win it all.

Screw “Fake it ‘till you make it.” Don’t pretend to be someone you aren’t. Recognize your weaknesses. Be willing to say: “I don’t know — but I can find out.” There’s power in that.

I used to say, “Define your greatness, and go out and do it.” Now I see it a little differently. First, you’ve got to define what success means. Because if you don’t know how to define it, how will you know when you’ve achieved it?

Friday is my 10-year high school reunion. On the day I graduated, I had never held a smartphone before. Never even owned an iPod. Never blogged. Never tweeted. Never posted a photo or a video online. Never downloaded an app. Never started a video chat. I don’t know what the next 10 years will bring, but I know it’s going to be amazing.

And most of all: I know change is scary for some. But when I think about Sally and the things we want to do together, I’m not scared at all. I’m excited.

Bring it on.


In that photo at top, from left to right: Sam, Mom, Dad, Sally, and El. Love you, guys.

I Am 27 Years Old. This Is What I Believe.

I am 27 years old, and I think I’m on the cusp of something very big. This year, I see amazing things on on the horizon. This can be the year my team at BuzzFeed turns our little newsletter project into something huge. The groundwork has been laid. Now it’s about putting in the work and finding new people to help take us to the next level.

And then there’s everything that’s happening at home — all of it big and wonderful and scary and amazing. 27 has already brought such great things, and I know there is more still to come.

This isn’t quite like the versions of this post I’ve written before. Those posts were different: at 24, feeling young and still learning to do the work; at 25, just days before I got a job offer in New York that would change everything; and at 26, as I started to truly find my place. Those years were about the slow, often awkward transition that happens as your college years fade away and your 20s really hit — with all of the responsibility that comes with it.

And so at 27, I’m embracing a brand new sort of shift. I’m not trying to prove that I belong here anymore. I do belong here. I feel grounded in who I am, I feel confident, and I believe that I have the right people behind me. So I want to use 27 to set big, ambitious goals and then blow right past them.

27 feels like the year I make the choice to say, Fuck it, why not me?

Over the past year, there are certain things I’ve come to believe hold true. I know that my beliefs will continue to change. I know that I will change.

But here, at 27, is what I believe:

You should ask for more.

Nothing good comes from setting the bar low. Aim big.

The best shit is hard to do, but we should try to do it anyway.

Anyone can have a good idea. Anyone can find the money to back it. But the only thing that really matters is the leadership behind it.

We need more people who want to learn how to lead.

People can always learn new skills, but not if they don’t already know how to do the work. Find people to stand beside who value the work the way you do.

It’s OK to cut things out that you don’t believe in anymore.

It’s OK to say “no.”

Great work starts with setting great habits. A lot of the work is about doing the same stuff over and over again. Even on the days where you don’t feel like it.

People get tired of success. Don’t believe it? Go ask any college football fan who just saw their coach fired for “only” winning 75% of his games.

Don’t mess with happy.

Enthusiasm is a wonderful, contagious thing.

Good things come from messy situations — if you know where to look.

You learn the most about people when you go on big adventures with them.

We’d all be happier if we found five or 10 days a year to celebrate with people we love. There are plenty of good opportunities — college football tailgates, Friendsgivings, long weekends — but we could all find more reasons to get together with friends and family.

You don’t have to be serious to be successful. Some of the best people I know are the silliest. That’s not an accident. They’ve figured something out.

A lot of life is just making choices and learning to live with them.

And most of all: The things that make you feel the best are the easiest to do: Saying thank you, offering someone a compliment, writing a friend a kind note. This is the easiest stuff to do. We can always do more of it.

I Am 26 Years Old. This Is What I Believe.


I am writing this from a bus on the New Jersey Turnpike, headed south for Thanksgiving. I wrote this post for the first time two years ago. I was 24, and in a major period of transition in my life. I wrote it last year from D.C., in transition to my life in New York.

And now I’m 26, and so much has changed. I’m settled in New York. I’ve got a job I love, and I’m lucky to have a lot of amazing people in my life. I met a girl. Things are really different this year — and really great.

Over the past year, there certain things I’ve come to believe hold true. I know that my beliefs will continue to change. I know that I will change.

I am 26, and this is what I believe:

You can tell a lot about a person by the quality of his/her friends. Great people always surround themselves with the best. Always.

The good stuff is worth sharing.

Know the difference between what you want and what you need. Ask for the latter.

If you can show it in a spreadsheet, you can sell it. And if you can pair that data with a great story, you’ve really got something.

Jealousy just isn’t worth the time. Ever.

Deal with things as they come. Shit happens — but it’s far easier to deal with it now than to let a lot of things pile up and overwhelm you.

Be skeptical. Especially when it comes to things you read on the internet.

There isn’t a skyline that makes me as happy as the one over Washington, D.C. But New York City’s is getting pretty close.

Everyone is asking themselves, What the hell am I doing? It’s not just you.

I don’t always know that I’m on the right track. But people keep coming to me for advice and help, and it makes me think that I must be doing something right.

You get there when you get there. Work hard, but don’t rush.

Have something to show for your work. An end product. A lesson. Something.

And one more thing, and I mean this in the sappiest, Lifetime-movie-of-the-week-iest way: Until you know, you don’t really know what you’ve been missing out on all along.

I Am 25 Years Old. This Is What I Believe.

I am 25 years old, and I’m going through a period of transition in my life. I know, I know: I wrote the same thing last year. And when I sit down to write this post next year, there’s a good chance I’ll say the same thing.

Yes, I know: The mid-20s are an unstable time — there isn’t anything yet to anchor me down (a family, a home, a city, a career). Things are changing, and that’s been a good thing. Change has brought me some really amazing opportunities.

At age 25, there are certain things I’ve come to believe hold true. I know that my beliefs will change. I know that I will change.

But here, at 25, is what I believe.

I believe that…

People who hustle are the best kinds of people.

There is nothing quite like the feeling of “done.”

Respect must be earned. Passion must be shared. Rules must be ignored.

People who refuse to talk things out are people who don’t belong in your life.

Nothing good has ever come from a “reply all” email.

The same goes for reading YouTube comments.

Next year really is our year, Nats fans.

When you’re “close,” that just shows you have far you still have to go.

There really shouldn’t be people in the workforce who are younger than me, but there are. And that’s because you’re getting old, Dan. Just deal with it.

We need more people who are willing to be kind.

We need more people who are willing to struggle.

We need more people who are willing to serve.

And most of all: Today is a work day. Today, we must do great work. It’s our time.


That’s me with the amazing Stry.us team (from left to right): Bari, Zach, Jordan, Sarah, and Roman.

I Am 24 Years Old. This Is What I Believe.

I am 24 years old, and I’m going through a period of transition in my life. It’s that time of the year when I start getting all thoughtful about where I am and where I’m going, and at this very moment, I’m stuck in Kansas City Int’l, waiting for a flight home. So I wanted to write this down.

At age 24, there are certain things I’ve come to believe hold true. I know that my beliefs will change. I know that I will change.

But here, at 24, is what I believe:

Try not to regret bad decisions. Just make the best decisions you can with the best information you have.

When you find that you’ve done wrong, and you have a chance to make it right, don’t idle.

Uncertainty breeds opportunity.

Be spontaneous.

Listening is an active process.

So is life. Don’t be passive.

Only the people who show up get to make change. So show up.

Don’t be afraid to fail.

It’s alright to get rejected. Getting rejected means you’re trying.

At 18, you don’t know that you don’t know what you want.

At 24, you know that you don’t know what you want.

Sometimes, you’ve got to do it for the story.

Do something. Be something.

Define your greatness, and then go out and do something about it.

And most of all, this: In this life, you find things you love and people you love, and you make time for both.

I’m just trying to live up to that every day.


Those lovely people in the photo at top: My mom and dad.