I’m a journalist by training, a product person by conviction, and a generalist at heart. I’ve been in journalism and the media business in various roles for the past 20 years. My guiding principle has always been that journalism, in its essence, is about helping people make good decisions in their lives.
I’ve come to realise that the best way to stay true to that principle — and to have the largest possible impact for good — is not to be an expert in one particular field, but to embrace my profile as a generalist, in and beyond journalism. I know something about many things, and I’m good at connecting dots from various fields.
My main areas of expertise are strategy, journalism and leadership. With every new challenge I take on, I try to leverage my skills in at least one of those areas, and combine them with a new area where I yet have a lot to learn.
Strongly held views
Since this isn’t LinkedIn, I prefer to show you an evolving list of strongly held views. I see this as a more accurate reflection of my career than a sequence of jobs and trainings. To me, moving forward means refining my views on the topics I care about — and finding challenges where I can put them into action.
- Always scrutinise your motives.
- Go easy on yourself and others day-to-day. Push for excellence on a quarterly basis.
- Someone can help. Find them.
- Celebrate wins, but always examine what role luck played.
- Think in probabilities.
- You can always get better at giving and receiving feedback, and you should.
- Crafting strategy is foremost about understanding the context you’re operating in.
- A strategy isn’t complete until you’ve decided on what not to do.
- The strategy isn’t what you write down, but what others understand when you communicate it.
- If nobody fights your strategy, something is off.
- Execution is not the last mile, it’s the whole marathon. A good strategy only gets you to the starting line.
- If things don’t go as planned, you need to figure out whether the strategy needs to change, or its execution.
- Journalism, in its essence, is about helping people make good decisions in their lives.
- Fostering a culture of collaboration across disciplines is the make-or-break skill for media organisations in the digital age.
- Users value complexity. As long as you don’t hit them with it, but guide them towards it.
- Open and transparent should always be the default.
- Investing in your future means building a community of people who want to see you succeed, and are willing to help.
- Diverse teams are better teams. Constantly work on your blind spots.
- Communicate more than you think is necessary. And then some.
- There is nothing more rewarding than seeing someone succeed after you helped them build confidence.
- Train and challenge the people in your team to make their own decisions, and to flag issues they need help with.
- Spend half of your time working with the team rather than managing it.
- Regularly ask your team members how they are and foster an environment in which they can give an honest answer.
These views have evolved and will continue to evolve. Even though I hold them strongly, I don’t cling to them when new evidence and new experiences point another way. An incomplete list of people and other factors that have informed these views, in no particular order:
David Epstein’s «Range» | Founding and managing 78s | «Thinking fast and slow» | The annual retreat with a group of likeminded changemakers | Carolin Emcke | Working on and scaling up graphics toolbox Q | The ever inspiring Twitter community | Trying and failing with tagewoche.ch | Seeing colleagues and team members grow and struggle | Anita Zielina | Lucy Küng | Being a father | Being a father of two | Friends of mine who are growing into leadership roles at the same time as I am | Curating the Weekly Filet | The daily struggle to be a good leader to my team at NZZ | The Journalism Festival in Perugia | Joining Refind.com as employee #2 | Being part of a lot of well managed and even more badly managed projects | Clayton Christensen | Alfie Kohn | Career Advice by 80000 Hours | Struggling to balance family and work | Attending «Leading Newsroom Change» in Oxford | This blogpost by Juliane Leopold | Managing managers | «Radical Candor» | Books by the Basecamp founders, especially «It doesn’t have to be crazy at work» | Hyper Island Toolbox | Hannes Gassert | Learning to code at age 30 | Countless people I worked with that made a lasting impression on me | Lots and lots of books | …