Content Will Always Be King

The amount of content I absorb on a daily basis is ridiculous. It isn’t a new phenomenon. At one point, I probably subscribed to over 25 magazines a month, not including the indulgent People magazine I’d read while having a pedicure. Cocktail party fodder. That fodder is probably why my investment portfolio is all over the place.

I still get magazines, but not as many. Yet, there is still something extremely satisfying about flipping through a magazine, pulling out interesting information, going online to check it out, and making a note to self.

My first investment was in content, so not shocking. Curbed made money from advertising and events. That is still the main source of revenue for content providers. I noticed that Vox is now pushing $5 a month on Curbed to have access to all their content. I wonder how many people clicked on that?

There is no doubt that content will always be king but can there be other revenue models besides advertising to keep publications or people afloat? We are seeing many companies aggregate blog writers with turnkey solutions for their site. Some are even paying the most read authors the opportunities to join. We are also watching known people jump ship from their publishers and go on their own with newsletters charging an annual fee. The same model goes for podcasts, which is just a different form of content.

I know how hard it is to write something every day. I pared down to M-F a few years ago. There have been times when I wonder if I have any content left in me. But of course, if you keep the mind at work, then there is always something in there to write about.

There will always be a new Substack or now Clubhouse but garnering an audience over time while paying the bills with that content is tough.

As we move into the hope of more paid content, including places like the NY Times, Washington Post, and WSJ, will people be willing to pay enough that they won’t need advertising? I doubt it, but perhaps as people realize that it is worth paying an annual fee for the content they want to read or hear that there can be a blended business model that might work….or not.

Thanks, but I will pass

How many hours have entrepreneurs wasted with investors who ultimately pass? I would love to see the data.

I have heard countless stories from founders who have been in conversations with investors for hours and hours with tons of diligence only to be turned down. Did the founder see this coming? Generally not because they so want to believe. Was the investor honest about the reality of them investing in the opportunity? Probably not.

I understand how the process works depending if the round is a Series A or a Series C. There are so many people raising money for their companies, and there is so much money in the venture world. There is also a lot of the same concepts being repeated, and VC’s tend to move forward after seeing a sector fail.

There is a reason I love to see companies become profitable early on. Although it is not as easy to grow quickly when there is not a big number in the bank but you also want to be in business with an investor who supports your vision. You have more control when you are profitable.

Entrepreneurs should take the opportunity to also say to an investor, “Thanks, but I will pass”. Think about that. Only a few times have I seen that happen and there is something so gratifying about seeing an entrepreneur who is struggling, working 24/7 with their head down to turn the tables on the countless investors who spend too much time tossing darts into the wind only to pass on the entrepreneur who spent hours with them when they could have been spending time on their business.

I don’t know the answer but it reminds me of a story that happened a long time ago. I went to visit my brother in college and on his dresser were a handful of small ripped pieces of paper with phone numbers on them. I knew exactly what they were. I said to him “are these numbers of women you have met at parties and at the end of the night took their phone numbers and never called them back”? Of course the answer was yes. I told him to stop it. It isn’t right and it isn’t fair. These women are hoping that after you saw them that the following week you are going to call. You are much better off ending the night with, “hey, it was great talking with you, I hope I see you around.”

The night was fun, the diligence was short and you move on. Maybe more investors could work like that?

City Life…and good sightings

Every film that shows city life, be it 1960 or 2010, makes me ache for city life. Someone asked me, what would you be doing if you weren’t locked down in a pandemic? Where do I begin?

We’d probably be in LA right now. What I miss, as everyone does, is going out with friends and acquaintances. We are always meeting new people, but that has ceased for the time being. Going out for dinner, for a drink, going to the theater, going to a museum, going to galleries, going shopping, and most of all, just feeling free.

One of the fun things about living in cities is the random sightings. C’mon, everyone loves a good sighting! My sister-in-law is the Queen of good sightings. I thought I’d share some fun sightings we have had over the years.

We were in Barneys (obviously in the good old days) with Josh in the men’s department. The elevator opened, and there was Ben Affleck with a salesperson. They were the only two in the elevator. He walked out right past us. A seriously handsome human.

Crossing the light on 72nd Street on the West Side. Why I was there, I have no idea, and it was super cold out. Ruth Gordon walked right by me, wrapped in a long puffy coat with the hood tied up around her face. She looked like she was on a mission. Seeing her took my breath away. I mean, Where’s Poppa? is a classic.

Having lunch uptown at a club, someone had invited me to. Very stuffy stuff. The room was basically empty, but our table sat next to Brooke Astor. New York royalty.

Walking on a path through Central Park with Fred at dusk. Yoko Ono and her friend walk past us. It was just the four of us. I felt like time stopped.

Eating at Oceana sitting across from Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn.

Walking down Broadway towards Union Square, seeing DVF jump out of a car (that waited for her) running into Patagonia to run an errand.

I am sure there are others but those come to top of mind. I so miss pre-pandemic city life. Have you had any good sightings?

Sundance On Our Couch

I spent the last few days watching endless films. I am still watching.

The concept is essentially the same but then again it is not. The premier begins at the slotted time. Sundance has always been extremely buttoned up when it comes to being on time. There is someone from Sundance who discusses a bit why they are so excited about the film and this person introduces the Director who then talks a bit before the film starts. That is what happens live as well.

That premier can be seen again 24 hours later whenever you choose over 3 days. There isn’t any movement between theaters, so if you are super-efficient, you can easily see 12 hours of films in a day. On Saturday I saw six films. Fave films are coming when we have finished.

We love supporting Sundance every year with a donation that goes to the incredible programs they run all year that benefit writers and filmmakers. Having all access is a very different experience from buying one of two films to see. Friends who have bought just tickets to see a few movies have been insanely frustrated with the experience.

As a family, we got everyone a full-access pass, so it is fun to discuss in the post or figure out what we all are going to watch.

If everyone could buy an all-access pass for the right price in their living room even when we return to the in-person movies, will it create a larger net of film watchers and makers? Are people watching across the globe these last few days? How much capital was raised this year to put towards everything Sundance does? How much money did Park City lose? How do on-line audiences vote on their favorite films? How is feedback given? Could they launch a few new films every month instead of the big blast at Sundance?

The non-profit business model had no choice but to react to the world around it, but now that we are at home watching Sundance from the warmth of our homes with a large bowl of popcorn sitting on our laps, what is to be learned to create a larger and more inclusive and perhaps better Sundance? What does that opportunity look like?

So much has changed because it had to during the grueling last twelve months that are not over yet. Doing a serious data dive on everything gives opportunity for something different. Most people are naysayers and fear change. When you are forced to change, we all might find out that change is the best thing that ever happened to us.

To Impeach?

I am so over Covid and was over Trump when he began.
Thank god he’s gone, but somehow his power still reigns over the Republican Party.  This man has thumbed his nose at democracy, yet they don’t seem to have the wherewithal to convict.  Trump was right when he said he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue, and he would get away with it.  Why?

Our culture has opened up, so people feel free to harass people who disagree with them.  I actually know people who have got those threatening emails or nasty people on Twitter who go after them.

We played a betting game the other night on what are the chances that. What are the chances that the Republicans try to impeach Biden to get back at the Democrats? What are the chances that the Republicans take over again in two years? There were a few more, but it is so depressing that we expect these things to happen.

 It’s time for civility.  To agree to disagree.  To put our hand over the aisle and shake it well, at least bump elbows.  To stop all the amplification of ugly noise on social media.  I don’t always agree with decisions made in companies I am involved with or votes in the Senate or the Supreme Court’s ruling, but I acknowledge that I can’t entirely agree with all of it. That doesn’t mean I don’t go out and threaten anyone online or in person.

How can we stop that without impeaching the man who abused all of us for a hobby?  How else can we move past white men who use their power to do anything they want and get away with it? What happened on January 6th is unacceptable. We can’t just move past it without putting the person who prompted this behavior to be punished. After all, Osama Bin Laden did not fly the planes that destroyed America as we knew it. Trump must be held accountable.

The Fund for Public Housing

For any reader of this blog, you know I have been looking to work on other initiatives. Something else in the non-profit world where I hope that I can make an impact. Something that I care about too. And so, I have just recently joined the Fund for Public Housing in NYC.

The fund works hand in hand with NYCHA, New York City Housing Authority, to enhance the lives of the people that live there. We are focused on the 100,000 youth and young adults implementing programs that empower their lives.

Almost 600,000 people live in NYCHA which means that 1 out of 15 New Yorkers lives in NYCHA’s building making NYCHA the largest landlord in New York.

The buildings are filled with the backbone of NY, from teachers to nurses to firefighters to writers to police offers. Some of the most incredible people grew up in these buildings, such as Howard Schultz, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Lloyd Blankfein, Michael Che, Whoppi Goldberg, Sonia Sotomayor, James McBride, and more.

I am thrilled to be part of this board.

Mental Health

Telling someone that you were speaking to a psychologist is not something people would discuss two decades ago unless, of course, if you live in New York City. Therapy is not only embraced here but expected. I overheard a conversation at an event where people were talking about their therapists and their advice. You can hear the best conversations in and around NYC.

Perhaps COVID has pushed the conversation around mental health to rise to the top. There has always been a stigma around mental health. Can’t you solve your own problems? Why do you need to talk to someone? Why do you need to take medication for your mood swings?

Sitting on the couch watching the Inauguration, I saw an advertisement with an athlete talking about breaking the stigma around mental health. People struggle with depression, anxiety, addiction, and other mental illnesses. One in five people suffers from some mental health issue.

I was thrilled to see this initiative being discussed in the open. An issue that should be embraced not ignored. Getting rid of the stigma and getting people help is the right answer so we can all be masters of our own destiny and engaged citizens of the world.

On a side note, watching the Tiger Woods Documentary drives this home. If only he had a therapist!

Korean Pancakes

I love sauerkraut. It isn’t something that I eat that often but for the right meal, it truly adds another level of deliciousness. I had never seen a pancake recipe with sauerkraut so I was intrigued. This couldn’t be easier. An added bonus is the recipe is very versatile. You could add mushrooms or switch out the sauerkraut for carrots or zucchini.

  • 3 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. warm water
  • 1 scallion trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 cup sauerkraut and 1/4 cup sauerkraut juice
  • 1/4 medium red onion thinly sliced
  • 2 scallions split lengthwise and cut into 1″ pieces
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 2 tbsp. sliced pickled red peppers (or any type of pickled pepper)
  • 3/4 cup cold water

The first group of ingredients is the dipping sauce. Mix soy sauce, rice vinegar, warm water, scallion, sugar and sesame oil into a small bowl and combine. Make first and set aside.

In a large bowl mix together the sauerkraut and juice (a little more juice is fine). Add onion, scallions, flour, starch, peppers and cold water. Stir rapidly until everything is fully combined.

You really should use a non-stick pan for this. I used the entire recipe and make one big pancake. Add batter to a hot pan, using a spatular to spread evenly. Press down, and let set for about 2 minutes. Cook until well browned, flip and brown the other side.

Cut the pancake into slices and serve with the dipping sauce. Making again!

Shanna Tellerman, Podcast #144, A Year Of Bold Transformations

Shanna Tellerman is the founder and CEO of Modsy, a design service that provides high-quality solutions to the pain points of home design.

We got together over zoom, to discuss Shanna’s entrepreneurial journey and the future of work in a post covid world.

You can also listen to this podcast on Soundcloud and iTunes.

Our next guest on Positively Gotham Gal will be Francis Bronet, the architect, interdisciplinary artist, and, most importantly, a driven educator who currently serves as the President of Pratt Institute

Madam Vice President

The last four years have been stressful. I felt that I had to check daily to make sure that Trump had not done something like start a war. Not that I could have done anything about it, but I felt it was my duty to stay on top of it. Now, I can breathe a huge sigh of relief. I know that someone is in charge, that adults are running the country. I might not agree with everything, but at least I have comfort in knowing that nothing crazy will happen on a whim.

One of the most memorable scenes from the inauguration is watching Kamala’s nieces cheering her on. They are young, they know nothing else but that their aunt is the VP of the country, and before that was the Senator of California after being the Attorney General. Jobs of leadership that many women would have never dreamed of being able to hold not that long ago.

I have been doing a bunch of research on women over the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries who have had a massive impact with the producer of my podcast. We keep asking ourselves many questions. Why is it always a constant challenge for women to be recognized? Why is having a family have anything to do with our careers? Why do men ask women if we intend on having a family when raising money or taking a big job?  Why would they wonder if we are up to the task of raising a family and a company?  Why should having children be debilitating not an asset?  Why aren’t more mothers being reflected in our culture as positive role models?  Why can’t we be more emotional?  Why can’t we stand up on the table more and shout out to the world, yes, I did, and yes, I am!  The bottom line, it is much harder for women.  And even harder for black and brown women. 

Why do some men talk down to women, even the ones who have accomplished so much?  Try managing a career, keeping the house stocked, the kid’s doctor appts, and everything else in between.  It’s always a difficult business environment for women when we are outnumbered, and most of the time, we are.  It makes us feel incapable. It makes us question ourselves. 

It shouldn’t be that hard.  Look at our history.  There countless women who have had unbelievable success, from building companies to building products, and most of us don’t know their names. Did any of these women push to be a leader and equal at the table, or did they just do their stuff and go home?  In every business, we need to figure out how to have more female voices heard and our faces seen.

Kamala Harris just changed our seats at the table. Let’s look to her as our guiding light. Let’s look to the other 12 women who have been chosen to sit on President Biden’s team. Are we move forward it’s harder to go back. The data shows the importance of equality anywhere and everywhere is better for everything. The time is ripe for change.