Saturday, May 16, 2015

Atul Gawande feature on unnecessary medical care

There's a really fascinating piece of writing by Atul Gawande (who I've posted about a few times previously) from a recent New Yorker with "Overkill" on unnecessary, expensive and often harmful medical care provided. In terms of the scope of the problem, Gawande writes below...

"In 2010, the Institute of Medicine issued a report stating that waste accounted for thirty per cent of health-care spending, or some seven hundred and fifty billion dollars a year, which was more than our nation’s entire budget for K-12 education. The report found that higher prices, administrative expenses, and fraud accounted for almost half of this waste. Bigger than any of those, however, was the amount spent on unnecessary health-care services."

The reasons for the waste, or no-value care as Gawande describes it, include tests and treatments both unethical recommended (with providers trying to collect all available insurance and Medicare dollars) and simply not needed, often as a result of there being so many tests and treatment paths available. What occurs is doctors, with patients buy-in, often test for problems that really aren't likely to have a terrible result if the problem found in someone, and then treat the problem because it's been discovered. The issue from this is the care costs money for someone, whether an individual paying out of pocket, an insurer (who as a result may raise rates) or government. Additionally, testing can bring complications for patients, not to mention problems that can result during procedures; and treatment for a given ailment can preclude different, and perhaps more needed, treatment for the same or another ailment.

Just as interesting to me as the problems that Gawande presents is the better path that he provides in the piece, with two examples including one driven from a corporate perspective and one out of a government act. Gawande tells the story of a Walmart employee with back problems who had surgery recommended to him and could have had the procedure done locally, with large out-of-pocket expense incurred, or follow a path Gawande wrote about...

"Taylor had heard about a program that Walmart had launched for employees undergoing spine, heart, or transplant procedures. Employees would have no out-of-pocket costs at all if they got the procedure at one of six chosen “centers of excellence”: the Cleveland Clinic; the Mayo Clinic; Virginia Mason Medical Center, in Washington; Scott and White Memorial Hospital, in Texas; Geisinger Medical Center, in Pennsylvania; and Mercy Hospital Springfield, in Missouri. 

Walmart wasn’t providing this benefit out of the goodness of its corporate heart, of course. It was hoping that employees would get better surgical results, sure, but also that the company would save money. Spine, heart, and transplant procedures are among the most expensive in medicine, running from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Nationwide, we spend more money on spinal fusions, for instance, than on any other operation—thirteen billion dollars in 2011. And if there are complications the costs of the procedure go up further. The medical and disability costs can be enormous, especially if an employee is left permanently unable to return to work. These six centers had notably low complication rates and provided Walmart a fixed, package price."

Gawande writes of how Taylor went to Virginia Mason in Seattle, and after examination there, was recommended to not have back surgery, and instead focus on recovery through rehabilitation, an approach that Taylor agreed to and as Gawande quotes him saying, "within a couple of weeks, I was literally pain free." It's a fascinating story and not entirely unexpected one as Gawande writes of the Walmart program around spine, heart or transplant procedures...

"Two years into the program, an unexpected pattern is emerging: the biggest savings and improvements in care are coming from avoiding procedures that shouldn't be done in the first place. Before the participating hospitals operate, their doctors conduct their own evaluation. And, according to Sally Welborn, the senior vice-president for benefits at Walmart, those doctors are finding that around thirty per cent of the spinal procedures that employees were told they needed are inappropriate. Dr. Charles Nussbaum, until recently the head of neurosurgery at Virginia Mason Medical Center, confirmed that large numbers of the patients sent to his hospital for spine surgery do not meet its criteria."

As a wrap-up to Taylor's story, Gawande provides the following...

"If an insurer had simply decreed Taylor’s back surgery to be unnecessary, and denied coverage, the Taylors would have been outraged. But the worst part is that he would not have got better. It isn’t enough to eliminate unnecessary care. It has to be replaced with necessary care. And that is the hidden harm: unnecessary care often crowds out necessary care, particularly when the necessary care is less remunerative. Walmart, of all places, is showing one way to take action against no-value care—rewarding the doctors and systems that do a better job and the patients who seek them out."

Another thing Gawande writes of as leading to optimism for care in the future is out of a provision in the Affordable Care that "allows any group of physicians with five thousand or more Medicare patients to contract directly with the government as an 'accountable-care organization,' and to receive up to sixty per cent of any savings they produce." Gawande writes fairly extensively of McAllen, TX and how "two McAllen accountable-care organizations together managed to save Medicare a total of twenty-six million dollars. About sixty per cent of that went back to the groups. It wasn’t all profit—achieving the results had meant installing expensive data-tracking systems and hiring extra staff."

It's a fascinating piece from Gawande and as he towards the end writes "waste is not just consuming a third of health-care spending; it’s costing people’s lives." 


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Remarkable pieces of writing on tragedy - by Carr, Junod & Teague

There were three pieces of recent first-person writing on the subject of death that really struck a cord with me, two from Esquire and one from Glamour.

The Glamour piece was the fairy short essay "My Dad, My Mentor: How Do You Say Goodbye to Your Father?" by filmmaker Erin Carr about her father, David Carr, who died in February. It was a really nice remembrance on the writer who I a few times posted on writing by and about.

The first of two Esquire pieces to note here was by Tom Junod with "The Death of Patient Zero," a followup story to his 2013 "Patient Zero" on Stephanie Lee. I wrote about the original feature in this blog post and as sad as it was to read of Lee's passing, it was almost heartening to read of the friendship that Junod and Esquire Mark Warren formed with Lee and devotion they showed to her. Also, even with the awfulness of Lee dying of cancer so young is the hopeful idea that the efforts to save her put forth by Eric Schadt and his team could continue to move forward and help save others.

The last piece to mention also centered around someone dying of cancer with Matthew Teague writing "The Friend" on his wife Nicole Teague, her diagnosis with terminal cancer, and his best friend Dane Faucheux moving in with them and staying past her death. The essay from Teague is quite possibly the most personal and open account I've ever seen someone write and Faucheux someone that comes across as an absolutely remarkable person.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Solid business writing - on Disney MagicBands, Y Combinator, NBC News & Starbucks

Some really good recent business stories included two features from Fast Company and one each from Vanity Fair and The Atlantic.

The Fast Company pieces were by Austin Carr and Max Chafkin with the Carr piece titled "The Messy Business of Reinventing Happiness." It's a lengthy feature about the MagicBands that were introduced at Walt Disney World in Orlando (and which were written about in fairly gushing terms in a recent Wired Magazine story) and this look by Carr is a much more nuanced look at how difficult at times it can be to get things done in a corporate environment. Particularly fascinating to me was how the Imagineers responsible for much of the great creative output at Disney Parks appear to have been largely left out of the process, and as a result haven't really bought into the concept of the MagicBands. The piece by Chafkin was also a solid one with "Y Combinator President Sam Altman is Dreaming Big" about the Silicon Valley business incubator.

From Vanity Fair, Bryan Burrough wrote "The Inside Story of the Civil War for the Soul of NBC News" about Brian Williams and it's very much an "inside baseball" type look at corporate dysfunction and poor talent management and the last piece to note here was "The Upwardly Mobile Barista" by Amanda Ripley for The Atlantic. Ripley is the author of the excellent book The Smartest Kids in the World (which I reviewed here) and in this recent magazine piece she writes about the corporate initiative at Starbucks to fund university education for it's employees. Ripley gives a thorough look at the hiccups in the program, but all in all, it really appears that Starbucks attempting to do a very good thing.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown was a really great book about the University of Washington rowing team that went to the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Brown's writing of the story came out of a fairly chance meeting late in the life of one of the rowers, Joe Rantz, and the book a fascinating one that covers a huge amount of ground. Some of the things that struck me were around the idea of a great rowing team needing to be comprised of people with absolute trust in one another, what America was like in the 20s and 30s and then the German propaganda machine leading up to WWII.

Brown chronicles in the book how as Rantz was growing up, America suffered the effects of the depression and dust bowl, leading to widespread westward migration and a number of farmers simply picking up and leaving behind homes and properties in search of something better. It was a hard time for many and the circumstances of Rantz's childhood were written of as key to what came later in the book.

Additionally, Brown has fascinating material in the book about Germany leading into the Berlin Olympics, with Nazi leadership focused on presenting to the world an image of themselves as a good and peaceful neighbor, towards the goal of buying them time to secretly build up their war powers prior to launching armed aggression. This time and place in the world is really interesting to me and brings to mind the excellent Erik Larson book set prior to WWII, In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin that I wrote about in 2011.

Shortly after finishing The Boys in the Boat, I came across an interesting San Jose Mercury News feature story in "Bay Area native’s book showcases bitter rivalry between Cal and Washington in top-selling book" and the piece by Elliott Almond and Mark Emmons covers information about Brown and how his book become an enormous success and basis of a movie now in development.

Interesting Bloomberg Businessweek pieces - by Wieners, Vance, Clark & Coen

There's been some particularly interesting writing from Bloomberg Businessweek magazine over the past few weeks including a great feature story and multiple smaller pieces.

The feature was "Dying at Europe's Doorstep" by Brad Wieners and it's an important look at refugees from Africa dying as they try to cross the Mediterranean into Europe and the husband and wife team of Chris & Regina Catrambone attempting to rescue as many as possible. The parts of the story about many Europeans not wanting the immigrants to come there made me think of a June 2013 blog post I wrote linking to stories of xenophobic behavior and also fascinating from the Wieners piece was mention of Catrambone partnering with The World's Most Dangerous Places author Robert Young Pelton.

The smaller pieces from BW that struck me over the past few weeks included two at least in part by Ashlee Vance. Along with Jack Clark, he wrote "How Amazon Swooped in to Own Cloud Services" and excerpted from Vance's May 19 book release of Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future was "Elon Musk Had a Deal to Sell Tesla to Google in 2013."

The other short piece to note here was written by Jessica Coen with "Nick Kokonas Is Selling Tickets to Dinner" about the restaurateur, who co-owns three Chicago-area restaurants with chef Grant Achatz, and his forthcoming for wide release restaurant reservation system Tock that revolves around diners prepaying for meals and flexible pricing based on time selected.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Solid sports writing - by Burkholder, Posnanski, Arthur, Wetzel, & Tullis

Some recent great sports writing included a couple of pieces that that struck me as fascinating along with a few more that were really impactful as well.

Stories in the fascinating category were "Being Andre the Giant" by Denny Burkholder for the CBS Sports website and "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Dalkowski?" by Joe Posnanski for the NBC Sports site. Both pieces are on really interesting people with pro wresting star Andre Rene Roussimoff having passed away in 1993 and retired MLB pitcher Burkholder now 75-years-old.

Two pieces that felt to be on very cool people were "Canada’s Steve Nash calls time on transcendent NBA career" by Bruce Arthur for the Toronto Star and "Aaron Hernandez finally taken down by a 5-foot-tall operations manager" for Yahoo Sports by Dan Wetzel, with him writing about about jury foreman Lesa Strachan and the courage she showed in delivering the guilty of murder verdict to Hernandez.

The last piece of great writing to note here was by Matt Tullis for SB Nation. "The Ghosts I Run With" was a feature story about Tullis and how his running pastime makes him think back to his teenage years battling cancer, and how many of those he got close with didn't make it. It's extremely personal writing and really really good.

Twenty-four job searching thoughts

After about a month ago successfully completing my first job search in over ten years, I wanted to list out what things I learned through the process…

General:
1. It really is easier to look for a job when you've got a job.
2. There’s something to the idea of you’re more desirable when someone else wants you.

Preparing to search:
3. Have a two page resume that includes accomplishment stories & top of resume summary built around them.
4. Have a presentation statement of who you are and what you've done ready for conversations.
5. Have prepared the answer to what type of job you’re after and why you’re looking.

6. Career coaches can be extremely helpful, especially around creating a resume and presentation statement.
7. People that hire career coaches typically do so after they’re frustrated, perhaps engage one before that.

Active searching:
8. Connections, people you know and those you're introduced to, are what’s going to get you looked at for a job.
9. Connections are good both in talking to people about what might exist and job postings you find.
10. Several good places to do keyword job searches include: LinkedIn, Indeed and VentureLoop.

11. Should focus on meetings with people every week (3–5 a good goal)… in-person best, but phone also good.
12. In these meetings, focus on telling interesting accomplishment stories from the resume.
13. People want to help, sometimes there’s not a lot they can do.
14. Be sure to thank people for their help and offer to help them any way you can.
15. Then let people know once you’re successful and start somewhere... and keep in touch with them.

Expectations:
16. Likely three-six months dedicated looking after goal identified, resume & presentation statement done.

17. If not qualified per the description for a job, you shouldn't feel bad about not being in the mix for it.
18. Timing is everything, and there’s any number of reasons why a particular job might not work out.
19. Be patient as your level of urgency not the same as other people’s.
20. Recruiters and hiring managers often don’t want to say why you’re not chosen, that’s ok.
21. If people say you’re not a fit, they’re probably right, and it’s not necessarily because of you.

22. Focus on continuous action & activities that you know are the correct path.
23. You can only put so much time each day into looking, also do things that help you feel good about yourself.
24. All the work you put in counts eventually.

Inspirational sports pieces - on Nate Boyer, Francesca Weems & Lauren Hill

Some remarkable sports pieces lately included a story on a 34-year-old NFL prospect, one on a sportscaster who spent several years of her childhood homeless, and two pieces on college basketball player Lauren Hill who recently died from cancer.

The NFL story was by Peter King for Sports Illustrated with his weekly Monday Morning Quarterback featuring the story of Nate Boyer, a former Army Green Beret who then went to the University of Texas, walked on to the football team, earned a spot as the long snapper and now aspires to an NFL spot.

The second piece to note here was by by Dave Reardon for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser with "HNN's Weems is hungry for life" on Francesca Weems, a 29-year-old sports media employee of Hawaii News Now who along with her older brother Marcus was homeless for several years of her childhood. It's a really cool story made all the more interesting by the mentoring and friendship that was provided by Neil Everett, current ESPN Sportscenter anchor who worked at Hawaii Pacific University when he got to know Francesca and Marcus.

The final pieces to mention are about college basketball player and inspiration Lauren Hill with first a WKRC Cincinnati story on her passing the prior day that included a great 7 minute video feature and then a Fox Sports piece the day after her public memorial service.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Interesting business pieces - on Dropbox, Chris Sacca & Ron Conway

There's been a few interesting pieces of business writing I've seen lately, including pieces recently published and related ones from a few years ago.

The latest issue of Fast Company Magazine had the feature story "Dropbox Versus the World" by J.J. McCorvey on the cloud storage company and the recent Forbes cover story was "How Super Angel Chris Sacca Made Billions, Burned Bridges And Crafted The Best Seed Portfolio Ever" by Alex Konrad.

Sacca is a venture capital who I've a few times posted on writing from and about him and after reading the Forbes profile, I then read two interesting older pieces, both written by Miguel Helft"A Post-Google Fraternity of Investors" was from the New York Times in 2007 and in part about Sacca and "Ron Conway is a Silicon Valley startup's best friend" was done for Fortune in 2012 on the venture capitalist noted in the Forbes piece as a former mentor of Sacca's.

Two great pieces of rememberance

There were two amazing recent pieces about parents remembering children who died, one written about a twin who five years ago died shortly after birth, as a result of fatal problems discovered in utero, and one by a father eulogizing his 21 year-old son.

The eulogy was "Remembering Max" posted to Medium by ESPN writer Ivan Maisel and the newspaper piece "Thomas Gray lived six days, but his life has lasting impact" by Michael Vitez for the Philadelphia Enquirer.

Really profound writing on both Max and Thomas.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Best non-sports writing linked to in 2014

Following up on my just posted best sports writing linked to in 2014 is the below listing of the best non-sports (and non-business) writing I read and posted on in 2014:

"Salvage Beast" by William Langewiesche for Vanity Fair - on Nick Sloane, a salvage master ship captain who comes in when vessels are in distress and works to either save them, recover goods aboard or reduce the environmental impact of a wreck. The story also struck me as particularly interesting in that it brought to mind Susan Casey's great book The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean.

"The Human Factor" by William Langewiesche for Vanity Fair - on the crash of Air France Flight 447 in the Atlantic Ocean, a disaster that's written in this excellent piece as being one that both become more rare with automated flight systems and was caused in part by pilots not being prepared to deal with problems that arise, given due to their reliance on... automated flight systems.

"The Plane That Fell From the Sky" by Buzz Bissinger for the St. Paul Pioneer Press from 1981 - on TWA Flight 841 that suffered severe mechanical failure (as opposed to the human failings from the doomed Air France flight) and then required herculean efforts from the captain to try to land the plane safely.

"The Long Fall of One-Eleven Heavy" by Michael Paterniti for Esquire from 2000 - on Swiss Air flight 111 that crashed into the Atlantic, killing all 229 passengers. Just an amazing piece that made me wonder what it was like to write when just reading it was heart-wrenching.

"The Perfect Fire" by Sean Flynn for Esquire from 2000 - on a giant warehouse blaze fought by firefighters in Worcester, MA and remarkably tense writing that brought to mind some of the best works of authors like Sebastian Junger or Jon Krakauer.

"The Strange & Curious Tale of the Last True Hermit" by Michael Finkel for GQ Magazine - on Christopher Knight, who spent close to 30 years by himself in the woods of Maine off supplies he pilfered. Knight's story is a tremendously interesting one and Finkel wrote the piece with himself in it as someone who visited Knight in prison. This first-person approach definitely worked in the story and was made even more interesting with Finkel's own back-story as a journalist fired for creating a composite character, and Finkel then having his identity assumed by a murderer. It's a remarkable tale that Finkel wrote of in the 2006 book True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa that's the basis of a soon to be released movie starring Jonah Hill and James Franco.

"Beyond Belief: A Journey to Antartica" by Chris Jones for AFAR Magazine - an almost dream-like read on time in a remarkable place.

"The Brief, Wondrous Life of Zina Lahr" by Grayson Schaffer for Outside Magazine - a piece that sticks with you as a reader, in part because of what the family has had to go through with Zina's seven-months pregnant sister dying in a 2010 car accident and also just because of the description of Zina herself. Really just captivating writing on someone that most people would never have known of if not for this story.

"A Speck in the Sea" by Paul Tough for the New York Times - on fisherman John Aldridge who fell off a lobster boat into the Atlantic. It was also interesting to me that the piece written by Tough who wrote the book How Children Succeed, which I wrote about earlier this year.

"Can You Say... Hero?" by Tom Junod for Esquire from 1998 - on Mr. Rogers and one of the most memorable magazine pieces I've read (for the first time in a prior year and posted online by Esquire in 2014).

Best sports writing linked to in 2014

I realized recently that while I did put together a book of the best business writing I've read through 2014, I hadn't done any compilation on best writing not about business since my Jan 2014 post covering stories from 2013. So... here's my favorite sports writing read and posted on in 2014:

"‘OMG. You’re So Much More Than Awesome’" by Michael Powell for the New York Times - on time he spent in rural North Carolina with Kevin Bumgarner, who was proudly watching his son Madison Bumgarner make history with his World Series pitching performance against the Royals.

"The right thing to do vs. the state of Florida" by Michael Kruse for SB Nation - on the death of 18-year-old Devaughn Darling during a 2001 Florida State University off-field practice and what's occurred since. Darling's family sued the state of Florida over the circumstances of Darling's death and agreed to a $2M no-fault settlement, with $1.8M of it still not paid to them as it's up to the discretion of the Florida state legislature whether they actually pay the settlement money. It was a maddening piece to read at times due to both the money and details around and after Darling's death, but Kruse wrote the story incredibly well.

"The Umpire's Son" by Lisa Pollak for the Baltimore Sun from 1987 - a Pulitzer Prize winning story on MLB umpire John Hirschbeck and his family. In 1992 they learned of the rare genetic disease Adrenoleukodystrophy, or ALD, that would claim the life of eight-year-old John Drew Hirschbeck and leave his younger brother Michael afflicted with the disease, along with his two sisters as carriers that could pass it along to any males they might eventually give birth to. It's an empathic story from Pollak that becomes even more profound with the Hirschbeck family's tragic news from April 2014.

"A Long Journey to Spring" by Chris Jones for ESPN The Magazine - on Kansas City Royals coach Mike Jirschele, who Jones writes of having endured enormous family tragedy with three brothers dying from muscular dystrophy and this season has his first big-league job after 36 years in the minors.

"Precious Memories" by Tommy Tomlinson for ESPN - on former North Carolina men's basketball coaching legend Dean Smith and powerful reading on the toll that Dementia takes on people and their loved ones.

"Lockerbie: A story beyond tragedy, a story of curling and Olympic pride" by Jeff Passan for Yahoo Sports - on a town, it's painful past, current Olympic heroes and a writer wanting to tell it's story.

"Eggs and wisdom" by Chris Jones for ESPN The Magazine - on the late college basketball coach Rick Majerus and his former player, Keith Van Horn.

"The writer and the puzzle: Richard Ben Cramer couldn't crack A-Rod" by S.L. Price for Sports Illustrated on the late writer and his attempt to write about Alex Rodriguez and boy, does Price ever write it well.

"Crews, Olin families persevering 20 years later" by Anthony Castrovince for MLB.com - the piece was written as a letter to the Cleveland Indians pitchers Tim Crews and Steve Olin who died 20 years ago in a boating accident during Spring Training. It was really well done and covers both the lives of Crews and Olin and what's occurred since with their respective families.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Mooallem & Titus pieces - on end of life decisions & dealing with depression

It's really not with the intent of closely linking them together, but two great pieces of writing I've seen recently were "Death, Redesigned" by Jon Mooallem for California Sunday Magazine and a post to reddit that Mark Titus did about overcoming depression.

The Mooallem piece brought to mind the great Atul Gawande book Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End (which I wrote about here) and Mooallem wrote of many of the same concepts around end of life directives and palliative care, but for much of the piece with a business-focused approach. Covered in the story was entrepreneur Paul Gaffney and his idea for an app around planning for one's death, with brainstorming sessions led by Paul Bennett from Ideo. Mooallem in his story also wrote of Ideo partnering with BJ Miller, executive director of San Francisco’s Zen Hospice Project dedicated to the field of palliative care, and Miller last week did a TED Talk, that once available online, likely can be viewed from either the TED or Zen Hospice websites.

The Titus piece is his first-person take on what he did to deal with his depression and the writing from him can probably can be generalized to just doing things, and then keeping up the momentum of doing things. It's solid stuff from him that brought to mind for me a post I did in 2011 on mental health writing in Esquire, with pieces by Chris Jones and Mike Sager.

Dead Wake by Erik Larson

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson was a good book on the British ocean liner that was sunk by a German U-boat on May 7, 1915, killing over 1,000 onboard.

I've now read the last five books of historical non-fiction from Larson, with the prior ones In the Garden of Beasts, Thunderstruck, The Devil in the White City, and Isaac's Storm and while I enjoyed Dead Wake quite a bit, I probably put it in the middle of the pack for me, with my favorites from Larson Isaac's Storm and In the Garden of Beasts.

As with all of his books I've read, Larson provides engrossing storytelling along with great detail and what struck me the most from the book was the role played by the British Navy during this period of WWI prior to the U.S. entering the war. It was fascinating to read of how Winston Churchill as the top British Naval Officer privately expressed that if German sub being responsible for the death of a number of American passengers, the United States might cast aside neutrality and enter the war.

With it being either in the form of a conspiracy to put the Lusitania in danger or just simple gross negligence, it was interesting reading of how much information wasn't passed along by the British Navy to The Lusitania, both around movements of German U-boats and a better route to take into England, via the North Channel between Scotland and Ireland. Additionally, the ship was lacking a Naval Escort in British waters, even though that both requested by Lusitania owners and provided for another British ship. Then after the sinking, British officials tried to blame and even prosecute the captain, while knowing full well how much more they could have done to help keep the ship safe.

Really a fascinating story well told by Larson.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Interesting business writing - on Sirius & Howard Stern, Disney & MagicBands and Ikea & expansion

Three interesting pieces of recent business writing covered covered subjects across the corporate world with stories on Disney, SiriusXM, and Ikea.

Cliff Kuang for Wired wrote "Disney's $1 Billion Bet on a Magical Wristband" and this was probably the most fascinating to me of the three in that it was about a compelling new technology. MagicBands are wristbands that visitors to Walt Disney World in Orlando (the bands likely to make it to Disneyland by the end of 2016) can wear to help improve their experience at the park... with Disney of course benefiting from this as well.

For Fortune Magazine, Beth Kowitt wrote "How Ikea took over the world" on the home furnishings retailer and it's forays into new geographies being successful in large part to an attention to research on the markets and what consumers there want.

The last piece to note here was by Felix Gillette for Bloomberg Businessweek with "Can SiriusXM Survive Without Howard Stern?" on the satellite radio company. The piece covers how SiriusXM has been successful in recent years and contract renewal negotiations with Stern, it's most well-known on-air talent and likely the number one driver of subscribers for the company.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Great GQ feature stories - by Paterniti & Flynn

There's two exceptional features I've seen recently from GQ Magazine, one by Michael Paterniti and one by Sean Flynn.

The Paterniti piece from the latest issue was "The Accident" and linked at the top of it (with an editor's note of "the second of our two-part series on the ways accidents shape our lives") was "The Vanishing" by Flynn from 2014.

Flynn's story was about Malaysia Airlines flight 370 and it covers the lack of open communication from the Malaysian government and how it's made a horrible situation even more difficult for family members of those who were on the plane.

The Paterniti story is written about a time from his own childhood and on the reckless decisions kids make with booze and driving, a fatal car accident, and not knowing for certain who caused it. While definitely more personal than Paterniti's other great works, this piece similar to many other stories of his in that it sticks with you after reading.

Writers on writing - by King, Sager, Jones, Sherman & Keohane

Lately on the subject of writers and writing, there's been some great stuff I've seen lately that feels to group into a couple of categories.

In the general writing wisdom category were two great pieces with first Stephen King apparently in 1986 writing the first-person "Everything You Need to Know About Writing Successfully – in Ten Minutes" and the other piece of writing wisdom was provided by Mike Sager with the short "Tips" page from his website.

Still in the general subject of writing wisdom, but more specifically maxims about his own writing, were some rules recently come across that Chuck Jones, writer of Wile E. Coyote & The Road Runner and who passed away in 2002, put to paper and which were passed along in the below tweet:

In the writing about great writing from others category were two pieces to note here, first with Ed Sherman for Poynter writing "Why there’s not a single Alex Rodriguez quote in ESPN’s 12,000-word profile" about the profile done by J.R. Moehringer and then Joe Keohane for Columbia Journalism Review doing "Hurting for Words" about the new Michael Paterniti book Love and Other Ways of Dying, with the below tweet listing out the stories featured: