I’ve officially launched Free Verse Media, a strategic marketing consultancy offering actionable solutions for businesses and brands who want to engage audiences across multiple platforms more effectively—in alignment with specific business goals and key performance metrics. I’m taking 25 years of hard-earned experience and going the freelance route (gulp!), looking to work with organizations that value developing genuine relationships with communities in service of a greater good, at least as much as they value generating revenue for stakeholders.
There was no announcement back in August because celebrating a new gig in that context felt wrong, and as subsequent events would confirm, it honestly wasn't all that clear how long it would last. WD is and always has been a strong brand, but when your parent company is headed towards bankruptcy, the path forward is anything but clear.
Thinking about my early days with comics, I realized they were the gateway to my interest in publishing, my first real awareness of people and a process behind the scenes that connected me to the stories and characters I enjoyed so much. I read "regular" books just as voraciously as comics, but Marvel and DC were meaningful brands while book publishers weren't. I had no idea (and didn't particularly care) who published Encyclopedia Brown or Stephen King until my first job in a bookstore (at 19 years old), and even then they were just vague corporate logos with no personal relevance.
There's nothing like the buzz of delving into a new passion and I've thoroughly enjoyed my serendipitous and circuitous journey into the world of rally. I've also realized my interest in rally had always been hiding just under the surface, an influence on almost everything I've ever found interesting about cars—it just took an unpredictable confluence of events to suck me in.
While there are different ways to lead and different styles of leadership, without the ability to develop realistic budgets, communicate consistently and transparently with staff, and define a compelling mission and vision for all to rally around, they're just meaningless personality traits. If it's raining outside, don't sing me "the sun’ll come out tomorrow," give me a damn umbrella.
Having spent the last 12+ years helping legacy print brands navigate the digital transition (excepting that 18-month run building DBW from scratch), I'm excited about the opportunity to jump into the digital present with both feet, no print crutch in sight. I still love the magazine industry and have a fondness for print that will never die, but I couldn't resist an opportunity to help build something in the digital book world that will challenge me in new ways and allow me to expand upon skills that have always been somewhat constrained in print-centric environments.
Between The World and Me, is one of the most important books to be published this decade, surely, possibly even this young century. In context of the long list of tragic events of the past few years (from Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, and Sandra Bland, to Ferguson, Baltimore, and Charleston), it is timely, but that's the easy part. It's the combination of Coates' framing (a letter to his son) and his raw, unapologetic tone (no white gaze-y appeasement here) that makes it stand out as a singular work that has drawn deserved comparisons to James Baldwin.
Even in defeat, there's nothing like watching a soccer match in person, but when your side wins, it's an absolutely glorious feeling, and Friday night's game was a great reminder of that. From the great beer selection and unexpectedly delicious chicken & waffles with sriracha syrup, to the perfect weather and entertaining result, it was a great night.
RPGs, simulations, and strategy games are my preferred genres, but I've played and enjoyed several shooters that prioritized story over gameplay (BioShock Infinite), explored the moral gray areas of violence as a solution (Spec-Ops: The Line), or whose sci-fi settings simply put things in a less problematic context (Halo). The timing of Hardline's switch from military fantasy to militarized police fantasy couldn't possibly be worse, either, in light of the ongoing problems in Ferguson, MO, one of the more egregious examples of a systemic cultural problem in this country that most video games either completely ignore or cynically tap into.
That desire for community, to connect with others who share your interests, is what drives the best and worst of what, as a whole, makes the internet so invaluable -- from the early days of Usenet to Tumblr and whatever comes next -- and for some (including business execs who don't get it), so dangerous. I'm sure there are plenty of business lessons to be learned from all of this, and I'm sure there will be plenty of think pieces and hot takes addressing those, but I'm far more interested in grappling with the human element.