This story I originally wrote for a friend who'd just been laid off from her first startup, and was embarrassed about it. I assured her that surviving a startup shakeup is a badge of honor in Silicon Valley. "So why doesn't anybody talk about it?" she asked. Point taken - and challenge accepted. I published this story on LinkedIn, for all of Silicon Valley to see.
Adobe picked up my story for publication in Create magazine, adding retina-twitching punk graphics by Robert Blatherwick. Best of all: my friend came out of hiding, and found a new job she loves. Because when you speak your truth, there is no shame.
In the first Venice guidebook I wrote, I included a sidebar on how to avoid crowds at St. Mark's cathedral. Those are the only words I wish I hadn't published. Almost a thousand years ago, St Mark's was purpose-built to awe crowds with the glory of Venice. Only with a crowd do you realize: those medieval stonemasons totally nailed it.
To make amends, I wrote "The Joy of the Crowd." The story was adopted as the manifesto for Fest300, a travel startup focused on festivals. Within a month of launch, Fest300 generated high-profile coverage; its first year, the site won a Lowell Thomas Award for travel journalism. In the next edition of the Venice guidebook, that sidebar on avoiding crowds mysteriously disappeared.
Trendspotting is a tricky business. Among the trends I pitched a couple years too early: hybrid cars, communal tables, social media. There wasn't much glory in it – mostly polite rejections from editors. But urban farming was a trend I clocked at exactly the right time, when editors were clamoring for front-line coverage from the wilds of San Francisco. There was just one catch to this cutting-edge reportage: just across the bay in Sonoma, urban farming was already 140 years old.
Never let the facts get in the way of a good story, as Mark Twain supposedly said. But facts can make a good story fascinating - or at least earn you credibility at a bar. So I wrote a reverse-trend piece instead, featuring downtown Sonoma's historic urban farm. The New York Times ran it as a feature, and they still talk about it in Sonoma … mostly at bars.