Last year, a friend who runs a middle school in Red Hook, Brooklyn invited me to speak to a group of eighth graders at their career day. My fellow speakers were an education administrator and a pharmaceutical salesperson. Compared to them, my career arc was a little harder to explain.
My message boiled down to this: I had built a career off of making things and putting them on the internet.
I started with an idea: a sports website called Bleacher Report that my friends and I had dreamed up. We didn't feel like there was a sports site out there that covered the teams we cared about, or talked about sports the way we did with our friends.
So we built it. We put it on the internet. People liked it. We kept improving on it. Kept creating and building. Rinse and repeat, that’s been my career.
I wasn’t telling these kids to go post everything they did or thought they had to the internet. In today’s era of oversharing and social media anxiety, that sounds irresponsible. I may have even seen the teacher wince as I started to go down that path.
My message was more about trusting the creative process. Not being afraid to think of something new. To create and put it out there for the world to see. To share your ideas and dreams with others. To seek feedback and collaborators. If you have the courage and conviction to do that, good things can happen.
Being creative means being vulnerable and avoiding self censorship. Do that, and you can open up new pathways and possibilities. I never would have imagined that the sports website I started with friends in my early 20’s would one day rival ESPN. And yet here we are.
I've built my whole career on making things and putting them on the internet.
First there was Bleacher Report. Then inspiration struck again. I had an idea for a site that covered science and innovation alongside science fiction and comic books. So I created Inverse. Within each of these larger projects there have been countless smaller components of creation.
There’s no greater adrenaline shot for me than creating. The process of forming an idea, building on it, and bringing it to life never fails to get me into a flow state. Every startup or creative pursuit provides boundless opportunity for this process. That’s where the fun is.
The internet is the perfect medium to engender this process. You can think of something, and instantaneously put it out there for all the world to see. Others can find it, and build on it. It’s magic.
Over the course of building two companies, I found less time for being creative. Many of my days filled up with managerial and operational responsibilities. Those parts of building businesses are essential, especially as you scale. But for me, nothing beats the spark of creativity.
Recently, I’ve been re-evaluating how I spend my time and mental energy. After selling Inverse last year, the thought of “What’s next?” has become more front and center. And spending more time at home these last few months has led to more moments of introspection.
We all have the choice of what we focus on, what activities we make time for in our lives. As I’ve pondered that decision, the path for me has become clear. It’s led me back to the one thing that has been a through line my entire adult life.
I’m excited to go back to the beginning. To making things and putting them on the internet.
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