16 Kinds Of Dangerous People I’ve Been Staying Away From

April 4, 2015

Am I a people person?  Depends what kinds of people.

I’ve got the great fortune of a life filled with amazing folk.  People from all walks of life who inspire everyday wonder and joy — they’re probably the greatest thing I’ve got going for me nowadays.

As we emerge from the brutal winter, I’ve noticed certain kinds of people I’ve been staying away from.  Who, as I learn more about who I am and what I care about, I’m flagging on my radar faster than I used to.

Self-defense?  Maybe.  Or just that I know what I want, I know what makes me happy and healthy, and I’m going for it.

My friend, Gary Vaynerchuk, had an idea: “I’d round up the top 50,000 to 500,000 people that I can find who have those qualities — empathy and self awareness (which in turn lead to lack of cynicism) — and make them mate with each other at scale.”  Good idea!  (Then he wondered what we’d do with all the other people still around, people “who make the world worse.”)

Here are some of the kinds of people I say we all start watching out for.  If we team up, maybe we can scare them away.  And maybe we won’t become them, either.

1. People who know how this all began.

2. People who can’t contain themselves.

3. People who think nobody notices.

4. People who don’t know what they’re afraid of.

5. People who read too much.

6. People who don’t take naps.

7. People who know the answer.

8. People who take real vacations.

9. People who have no tattoos.

10. People who have no questions.

11. People who would never work for you.

12. People you can’t not invite to the meeting.

13. People who don’t show wonder.

14. People who can’t even.

15. People who can sit still.

16. People who know how this will end.


A Brisk Morning & A Morning Risk

September 19, 2014

If you told me when I was a graduate student in poetry that, 20 years later, I’d be addressing someone called a “Chief Risk Officer” and his executive leadership team at one of the largest financial services institutions in the world, sharing strategies and insights on innovation and risk management… I would have told you to please not interrupt me when I’m playing NHL Hockey on my Sega Genesis.

Quite a risk, this executive took in handing me the mic for an hour this morning!

So there I was, bright and early, kicking off my talk by offering common ground between the risks a big bank takes and the risks media companies (like the one I work for) take. I led with a clip from Comedy Central’s incredible series “Nathan For You,” now wrapping up its second season.

If you haven’t seen the show, it’s so worth checking out here. In the meantime, here’s a segment from the show’s already famous “Dumb Starbucks” episode, in which Nathan attempts to mitigate risk by implicating a befuddled “attorney” in his scheme.

Comedy Central’s programming, lauded recently in this great piece on Vox, is filled with examples of a network taking risks — and winning because of it.  From Key & Peele to Drunk History, not to mention the daily fearlessness of Jon Stewart, “the channel always has something worth watching,” says Vox writer Todd VanDerWerff.
Yes.  And that’s because there’s nearly always something it bets on, something at stake, something not exactly safe.Like putting a poetry major in front of a bank’s risk management team.


Congratulations To Viacom’s MBY Graduates

September 18, 2014

I had a super fun time today celebrating the 151 graduates of Viacom’s “Maximizing Brand You,” a peer counseling and career development program that helps assistant- to director-level employees define and strengthen their own personal brand.  The year-long program has participants define their career goals and gives them the mentoring and skills they need to achieve them.

Congratulations to all of this year’s graduates.  Your selfie sticks are on their way.  In the meantime, here’s the shot I just took with you!