I’ve been dying to send this email for five months.
While I detailed the origins of the relationship in ‘History Holds Power‘, the majority of my mentions regarding this particular “client” have been vague. While unabashedly open communication is my preferred means, there are situations in which secrets are a necessary component to surprise. In this case, it was contractually required.
Let me first start by clarifying that this email was, as of your reading, written two days ago. Right now, I am running around like a mad person and will explain why below.
When I fist met David Carrico, he shared his vision for PrimeMind, which he aptly summarized as “The New Yorker for the VICE generation.” He went on to explain that this soon-to-launch publication was “exploratory journalism designed to foster critical thinking.” I responded with the same sound effects and facial expressions that are typically reserved for my mother’s cooking, but skepticism immediately crept in.
Were these delusions of grandeur or did he have a formula for it?
To David’s credit, he wasn’t just “some guy” that I’d met. He was a 25 year old CEO preparing to launch his third company that he self-funded with a not-so-insignificant amount of his own money. His previous company sold to Yahoo. I didn’t know too much about the context so, while he seemed like a passionate dude, I wasn’t sold on his (or anyone else’s) ability to launch a new powerhouse of digital publishing.
He concluded the first meeting saying that the next step was for me to speak with his lead investor… who also happened to be his mother. I’ll admit that someone’s mom being involved in their startup did raise an eyebrow. My (also Jewish) parents have been massively supportive of my endeavors, but they’re no venture capitalists.
David’s experience as both a founder and investor would be impressive for someone twice his age. As Richard Eyre once said, “Our parents cast long shadows over our lives. When we grow up, we imagine that we can walk in the sun, free of them.” The shadow of David’s mother explained (to me) a lot about the origins of his tenacity.
Judy Estrin is the former CTO of Cisco Systems and has served on the boards of Sun Microsystems, FedEx, and Walt Disney. To summarize her already summarized achievements, she held important positions in big companies with names I knew.
That all paled in comparison to one line of her Wikipedia page stating:
“(Judy) is credited as one of the key people in the development of the internet.”
Jaw meet Floor. Floor meet Jaw. Turns out, she was one of the five people in the room at Stanford when the first email was sent. Judy and I slotted fifteen minutes to connect over the phone for which the nerd in me was admittedly excited to partake.
We ended up talking for over an hour about the state of human connection in a tech heavy world and in this conversation, she introduced me to the term Digital Empathy.
Yea, that thing I talk about all the time… Judy was the catalyst that enabled me to quantify something so ethereal in a way others could instantly understand. She also suggested I read ‘Reclaiming Conversation‘ which she had just finished as (I believe) it was her seed for the same revelation she had just delivered to me.
Glowing for days after this call I was excited to learn more. I’m extremely selective about who I work with as clients that are the right fit for my personality, beliefs, and morals greatly amplify my abilities as a marketer for hire — it enables authenticity.
Alignment of values results in a more seamless creative process.
Said differently, the existing enthusiasm I had for the company’s mission and vision meant I had to put forth less effort speaking their voice because its values are closely aligned with my own. The more we spoke about the project, the more I felt everyone involved shared a perpetually unsatisfied urge for deeper conversation.
David later gave me five of the editorials that they were going to launch with and, at 10PM the night before our next meeting, I finally made the time to read them. I’ve never been a huge fan of reading publications as the content was rarely satisfying.
Exploratory journalism for critical thinking was great in theory, but could they deliver?
I opened an article titled ‘The Impossible Gentrifier’ and started reading somewhat unenthusiastically. Within a paragraph I was astonished, within two I was absorbed, by the third I had started to question my place in the world. It was as if the ground beneath me started to groan and tremble — I could feel my paradigms shifting.
I’d known of gentrification, but it wasn’t till this moment I knew — I was a gentrifier.
I stayed up all night to read and notate everything David had shared. My attempt to maintain composure in our meeting was a struggle as the mere thought of not being involved in this project made my face quiver with disappointment.
Luckily for me (and my less than attractive crying face) they seemed to feel about me as I’d felt about them. They were, as we might say, in my minority. As Einstein said, “I have no special talents, I am only passionately curious.” The future doesn’t belong to those who wait, it belongs to those who are passionately curious — those like you.
Today, on the 137th birthday of Albert Einstein, they too are born.
I have read all of their editorials—nearly sixty thousand words—and there’s not a single one that didn’t prompt meaningful reflection and beg to be shared. They are spread across the topics of society, mind, sex, identity, and transitions — but still manage to speak the same character and voice as a result of David’s leadership.
While I started with ‘The Impossible Gentrifier‘, the editorials calling science news into question and challenging the notion of “authentic yoga” in America are two of my favorites. Interestingly, their website doesn’t have a comments section. Instead, you can highlight text and make annotations to then share with friends.
As I wrote (humblebrag imminent) for the final line of their welcome email, “Come a little closer, peek behind the curtains of the world, and question what you see.”
I’m working with PrimeMind this week to help them launch so I’d imagine my emails will be shorter and responses a bit delayed, but I will catch up eventually. I would love to hear your thoughts on any of their editorials and am more than happy to answer questions or perhaps even have David field some of them himself.
If you’re on this list (and especially if you’re still reading this) you’re already the type of person that seeks to dig deeper. PrimeMind was created for people like us.