Step One: Remind yourself how large the world is

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A moment from 2014 that stands out to me:

It was mid-January and my friends in Nashville had been enduring a cold snap while Chuck Ellis and I sipped bottomless pina coladas on Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. On Punta Cana in January, it was in the mid-80s all week — sunny, a nice breeze, unspoiled. We ate whatever we wanted, drank whatever we wanted, went topless, slept late, went for walks, got lost on the beach, etc. We had one of the most revelatory conversations of our relationship during a session at a swim-up bar, seriously. It was an important week for us.

But it did take me about four days to stop checking email constantly, and I never did stop checking it altogether.

At home, three colleagues and I had just launched 12th & Broad, an experiment combining media, real-life experiences, community, philanthropy and advertising. It was the first time our parent company had given me the opportunity to brainstorm, plan and launch a business unit from scratch. My background is in journalism. As a reporter, editor, columnist and newsroom leader, I had 15 years experience writing and helping craft pieces and projects about other people’s personal adventures and business ventures. But this was the first time I, myself, was doing such a thing. Continue reading

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Time and the Price of Wasting It

I had a moment of freak-out earlier this week when I received an email from WordPress letting me know that the domain on this blog had expired.

I’d been so busy with my real job that I’d forgotten to do the routine maintenance on the one I do for fun. The domain name is cheap (not a lot of demand for KnightStivender.com; shocking), but my time isn’t.

Whose is?

And yet, unless we clock billable hours, we frequently fail to acknowledge the value of our time.

A colleague told a story today about how when she was a teenager she lost the gas cap on her car, and her father made her drive to the dump and rummage around for it for a few hours. A gas cap costs, what, $12? I’m sure somewhere in this story is a lesson about responsibility, but I think it’s at the expense of productivity.

I wonder what else she could have done in those hours spent searching for the gas cap, and if it could have involved something useful to earn her $12 to buy a new one.

I shouldn’t pass too much judgment on this well-meaning father. I do this kind of thing all the time – robbing Peter to pay Paul with my time, rarely pleasing anyone but often disappointing people.

For example: At the office I tend to push time beyond the last possible second – sending just one, two, three more emails; editing one, two, just three more stories; writing one, two, just three more proposals – at a gain to no one but me in that particular moment but at a loss to the people waiting for me at home, at dinner … in worlds that don’t involve a single one of those last few whatevers I’ve felt compelled to do.

I cheat myself, too, of time. I often do this in late evening, sifting through social media feeds and clicking on news stories when I’d be much more fulfilled reading the novel on my nightstand…

And this has the effect of stirring up bad ideas and weak emotions when I ought to be settling down and drifting off.

And all of that is followed up with time I waste the next morning, after a restless night, hitting the snooze on my iPhone when I’d be much happier awake (as I am, ironically, on the weekends) enjoying a quiet moment alone before the carousel begins again.

Tonight, it cost me less than a minute to email WordPress and ask what to do, and another 30 seconds and $18 to click the link in their response and renew my domain during their – hallelujah – two-week grace period.

In return, I get to keep my name — and so much more.

Six Reasons To Listen To Younger People

For the first time in my career, the majority of people I work with are younger than I am – often by a decade or more. I love this – even though one of the things I’ve learned from them is that 25 is the new standard for beginning a “preventative” Botox regime, and that is craaaaaaazy to me. There are a number of reasons why I enjoy the role of elder statesman, at the grand ole age of 36.

Here are six reasons to enjoy the company – professional, personal and otherwise – of people who are younger than you are: Continue reading

Who is 12th & Broad?

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A close friend who once worked with me at The Tennessean said I was the kind of editor who got excited about every possible story, including the ones we seemed to cover every year.

An example: It was time again for the county fair, and instead of writing another who-what-when-where-why report, I wanted a reporter to ask the carnival workers to interview each other. “Carnies interviewing carnies!” she recalls me squealing at this weird idea.

I am “fizzy”, like a bottle of champagne someone has shaken. At the same time, I am a hometown girl, living within an hour’s drive of my parents and working for the same company that hired me as an intern at age 18.

Nashville has my heart.

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It is an effervescent city full of creative people – artists, musicians, writers, entrepreneurs, community builders, fundraisers, chefs, designers and stylists. It’s also an unpretentious one, in love with its funky old buildings, at ease in jeans or sequins, and unconcerned with how late anyone arrives.

Y’all know it.
You made it this way.

And it’s for you – fizzy and folksy Nashvillians – that a team of us is working hard to launch 12th & Broad: a celebration of the city’s creative and entrepreneurial culture through unique events, collaborations and storytelling. Continue reading

What It’s Like To Work In News

Thanks to Keith Miles for this photo of me, which he took at the city's kickoff for its 35-year planning process.

Thanks to Keith Miles for this photo of me, which he took at the city’s kickoff for its 35-year planning process.

When I was a reporter in The Tennessean’s Williamson County office, one of the things I could count on was a daily phone call from a cranky but hilarious school board member who absolutely loved to gossip about his fellow board members and make outlandishly inflammatory accusations of school administrators.

These calls were frequently conducted from his bathtub and often he’d be smoking at the same time. I know this because I could hear the splashing and exhaling. Also, because I asked him. If a man is naked when he calls, it’s best to know it up front.

Anyway, this guy is on a long list of characters I’ve been graced to know because of what I do for a living.

Continue reading