It’s time to thank all of the people who provided great content in 2015 that accompanied me and filled my mind on my walks to work, flights across country, and drives around the state. Despite all the struggles in the world today, I wouldn’t want to be alive at any other time. Just pause for a moment to think that anything you want to learn is probably available anytime for under $20 and 60 seconds of download. That kind of access to information is unbelievable and levels the playing field in an unprecendented way.
Between podcasts, digital books, YouTube clips, and online courses of every kind you can learn anything you want. And, on Twitter (and other platforms) everyone is accessible. Of course, you can also choose to fill your head with conflict, nonsense, and time wasters. I try to think of my brain and my time as a super exclusive club with a fancy velvet rope and a huge, mean looking bouncer at the door. Fortunately for me, it doesn’t require dressing up or buying bottle service! Yoga pants and a box of red wine works just fine, but I am vigilant on the exclusive guest list. So, thank you to some of my favorite content creators for making my year one of exceptional learning.
Books I’ve Loved this Year
The Non NonProfit Steve Rothschild. Yes, it’s a new day and the lines have blurred.
How the World Sees You Sally Hogshead. Move beyond identifying your strengths and start dialing up your brand.
Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget Sarah Hepola. I absolutely love this book because I think we have a dangerous amount of glamorizing the Trainwreck mentality. I love me some Amy Schumer and her Court of Public Opinion skit is probably the most important piece of media created this year, but I worry. This book steps in when the bottom falls out. Fascinating read.
The Road to Character David Brooks. I think we’re all waiting for the grown ups to enter the room and set us straight. This is it. I also love it when you look at the personal behavior of earlier generations and realize that the nostalgic “good ole days” featured the same stuff (booze, sex, divorce, etc.) as today. People lose their way and find their way back. That’s the road to character, I suppose.
A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life Brian Grazer and Charles Fishman. He actually does have the secret!
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up Marie Kondo. Such as quirky book that plays right into my obsessions. I know it’s on everyone’s list so I won’t dwell.
The Blue Zones Dan Buettner. As a public health practitioner this is a must. There are many pathways to a healthy life and they all involve great food, great relationships, movement, and humor. Write yourself that prescription daily.
Yes Please Amy Poehler. Thank you Amy, for everything.
Contagious Jonah Berger. Love, love, love and will be on required reading every January to think about business development, creating the spark, and fanning the flames.
Choose Yourself James Altucher. How to understand and survive the new economy. There really is no better time than today. How very fortunate we are.
#GirlBoss Sophia Amoruso. Picked this up in physical copy on a whim in the airport. Read it all in a two hour flight and was left absolutely impressed by someone who bet on themselves and figured it out. Read this.
I love the Lenny Letter. I’m not a fan of Girls. I’m way outside the target demographic, but I also don’t find it relate-able to the many women I know within the demographic. I wasn’t really interested in what Lena Dunham had to say until I stumbled upon the Lenny letter. We’re in good hands moving forward with this generation at the wheel.
Altucher Report Read this to understand the new economy. I’m a Gen Xer that loves the gig economy and Generation Flux but depending on what circles you run in, this may be lonely territory. This is like a survival guide and ready made tribe for the new frontier.
So Money A must listen to hear what top performers are doing and thinking about.
The James Altucher Show see above
Cool Things Enreprenuers Do I found Thom Singer at the beginning of last year and I love his low-key style. Just a flat-out pro.
Neen James — Thank you for giving me my “client filter” this year. “work with people I love, on projects I love, in places I love“. Amen!
Life-changing apps for the freelancer:
Harvest I was introduced to this through my work with Urban Health Solutions and Urban Health Partnerships. The best for billable hours, expenses, and project management.
MileIQ Elegantly simple mileage tracking
Just for Fun
Songza (so good it’s becoming Google Play music) I’ve been a fan for a long time. I love Pandora, but something about an app that provides you with choices like “songs for an afternoon dance party” and “waking up pumped” is deserving of my earbuds.
Let’s Get Local
The more complex and global the world gets, the more the local media matters. Serving one of my clients, the City of Lansing, reinforces how important professional local media is to the function of local government and an informed citizenry–thank you Lansing State Journal . Democracy depends on you.
Of course what a year it’s been in local sports. I love The Drive with Jack Ebling and hanging out on Friday’s at the Blue Gill Grill with Jack & Tom who is, of course, my uncle. Living in South Florida for five years was a fantastic experience, but one of the biggest things we missed was being in Big Ten country. I’m just not built to live in a pro sports market. It also helps that MSU is on fire — thank you to Coach Dantonio and Coach Izzo for being the embodiment of the Midwestern work ethic and putting your programs at the forefront nationally through serious understated hustle. You are the essence of a regional brand. It won’t last forever folks, enjoy the heck out of it!!
Finally, my dinner table is much richer for the experience of Lansing Eastern High School. The daily discussions with 8th graders about immigration, refugee policies, police relations, educational funding equity, economic equity, present day impacts of historical segregation, gender dynamics, the global economy, local and global violence, and school financing is more informed and nuanced than anything I see adults attempting in the media.
These are not abstract academic concepts studied during some “diversity exercise” or month of recognition, but the real-life daily experiences of the student body as they sit shoulder to shoulder with children from all over the world and across the economic spectrum. These lessons in inquiry, empathy, and dialogue are exactly the skill set of the coming century. It’s messy, ambiguous, and hard — just like the actual world. We see you, Eastern faculty, slugging it out in a school day that’s long and under-resourced. May the community rise up to meet you.
Content matters — thank you to all of you for making it a great year. May peace and learning fill your 2016. Let’s fight like crazy over ideas and walk out as friends.