Dave Nemetz Rises: the Cadence edit

The man behind Bleacher Report and Inverse returns.

Newsletter Challenge, v. 6

Quick note: I recently wrapped up a writing coach arrangement with Ari Lewis, host of the Mastering the Attention Economy podcast. We enjoyed working together (see Ari’s ROI here), and he proposed I take on a newsletter editing challenge.

The challenge: Twenty edits by 22 September. In paired blocks below, you’ll find the original and my edit, separated by a “~~~~~~.”

My primary goal: it’s typically simple: “add clarity, concision, and cadence.” Mr. N.’s essay poses a different challenge. Check my note at the end.

For details on my process, click here, a Google doc. Leave suggestions as you see fit. Thanks!

“Making things and putting them on the internet,” Sept 2

@ https://davenemetz.com/making-things-and-putting-them-on-the-internet/, by Dave Nemetz

Regular face: Dave.

Bold face: me.

Key metrics here: not really useful, since the essay was already at a reading level of 5. (My edit is grade level 4, in case you’re curious, but I’m after the question of voice here — see my note at the end.)


Making things …”: the Cadence edit

August 4, 2020

Last year, a friend who runs a middle school in Red Hook, Brooklyn invited me to speak to a group of eighth graders at their career day. My fellow speakers were an education administrator and a pharmaceutical salesperson. Compared to them, my career arc was a little harder to explain.

My message boiled down to this: I had built a career off of making things and putting them on the internet.

A dear friend of mine runs a middle school in Red Hook, Brooklyn and, last October, invited me to speak to a group of eighth graders on career day. My fellow speakers included an education administrator and a pharmaceutical salesperson. They both provided a clear sense of what they do at work. For me, that wasn’t quite so easy, especially when it came to explaining how I made it to this point of adulthood.

My message boiled down to this: I made things, I put them on the internet, and people really, really liked them.

~~~~~~

If it weren’t for the pandemic, class would be in session.

I started with an idea: a sports website called Bleacher Report that my friends and I had dreamed up. We didn’t feel like there was a sports site out there that covered the teams we cared about, or talked about sports the way we did with our friends.

So we built it. We put it on the internet. People liked it. We kept improving on it. Kept creating and building. Rinse and repeat, that’s been my career.

I wasn’t telling these kids to go post everything they did or thought they had to the internet. In today’s era of oversharing and social media anxiety, that sounds irresponsible. I may have even seen the teacher wince as I started to go down that path.

Most things start with ideas — or dreams, really. Years ago, my friends and I dreamed up a sports website called Bleacher Report. The bleachers, as you probably know, are the cheapest seats at a stadium, and they’re often filled with the most devoted fans. We started Bleacher Report because we believed the world needed a sports site that covered the teams we cared about. And talked about sports the way we talked about sports with our friends.

So we built it. We put it on the internet. People liked it. We kept improving it. Create, build, improve. Rinse and repeat. That’s my career model.

Now, I didn’t tell these kids to go post everything they did or thought onto the internet. In today’s era of oversharing and social media anxiety, that would be irresponsible. I even saw the teacher wince, as she seemed to think I was headed down that path.

~~~~~~

My message was more about trusting the creative process. Not being afraid to think of something new. To create and put it out there for the world to see. To share your ideas and dreams with others. To seek feedback and collaborators. If you have the courage and conviction to do that, good things can happen.

Being creative means being vulnerable and avoiding self censorship. Do that, and you can open up new pathways and possibilities. I never would have imagined that the sports website I started with friends in my early 20’s would one day rival ESPN. And yet here we are.

I’ve built my whole career on making things and putting them on the internet.

My message was reckless, but in a different way: trust the creative process. Think of something new, and don’t be afraid it. Make it real. Put it out there for the world to see. Share your dreams with others. Seek feedback and be grateful. Find collaborators. If you have the courage and conviction to do that, good things can happen.

Being creative means being vulnerable. You will have impulses of self-censorship. Accept them when they sneak into your brain, and gradually show them the door. Now open up new pathways and possibilities. I never would have imagined that the sports website I started with friends in my early 20’s would one day rival ESPN. Yet here we are.

I’ve built my whole career on making things and putting them on the internet.

~~~~~~

First there was Bleacher Report. Then inspiration struck again. I had an idea for a site that covered science and innovation alongside science fiction and comic books. So I created Inverse. Within each of these larger projects there have been countless smaller components of creation.

There’s no greater adrenaline shot for me than creating. The process of forming an idea, building on it, and bringing it to life never fails to get me into a flow state. Every startup or creative pursuit provides boundless opportunity for this process. That’s where the fun is.

The internet is the perfect medium to engender this process. You can think of something, and instantaneously put it out there for all the world to see. Others can find it, and build on it. It’s magic.

After Bleacher Report, inspiration struck again. I wanted a site that covered science and innovation alongside science fiction and comic books. So I created Inverse. Within these two big projects, we created countless, smaller components of value for our audience.

I love a good shot of adrenaline, and there’s no greater adrenaline boost for me than creating. The process of forming an idea, building on it, and bringing it to life delivers me into a state of flow. You know that state: it’s what dreams are made of. Every startup or creative pursuit provides boundless opportunity to get back in that space. That’s where the fun is.

The internet is the perfect medium for this stuff. You think, you build, and you put it out there for all the world to see. Others find it, and they build on it. It’s magic.

~~~~~~

Over the course of building two companies, I found less time for being creative. Many of my days filled up with managerial and operational responsibilities. Those parts of building businesses are essential, especially as you scale. But for me, nothing beats the spark of creativity.

Recently, I’ve been re-evaluating how I spend my time and mental energy. After selling Inverse last year, the thought of “What’s next?” has become more front and center. And spending more time at home these last few months has led to more moments of introspection.

We all have the choice of what we focus on, what activities we make time for in our lives. As I’ve pondered that decision, the path for me has become clear. It’s led me back to the one thing that has been a through line my entire adult life.

I’m excited to go back to the beginning. To making things and putting them on the internet.

In the course of building two companies, I couldn’t avoid the growing list of managerial and operational responsibilities. Those parts of building businesses are essential, especially as you scale. But for me, nothing beats the spark and the rush of creativity.

Recently, I’ve been thinking again about how I spend my time and my mental energy. After selling Inverse last year, one question loomed: “What’s next?” And spending more time at home these last few months has given me plenty of time to answer that question.

We all have the choice of what we focus on, what activities we make time for in our lives. For me, again, that path is clear. It’s led me back to the one thing that has been a through line my entire adult life.

I’m excited to go back to the beginning. Again. To make things, put them on the internet and, best of all, to see what you do with them.

# # #

Note: Dave’s essay posed a real challenge, a fun challenge, really, since it is distinctively autobiographical.

Folks like my friend @arilewis might call Dave’s style “authentic.” It’s from the heart. It’s easy to connect with. It inspires you to call Dave and ask him to share a beer with you over Zoom. (I don’t know Dave, so I don’t know what weird things he does on Zoom.)

An anecdote: Years ago, while riding in the car with a mentor of mine in Orange County, CA, we started talking tacos, and I mentioned my devotion to El Gallo Giro, in Santa Ana. “The best I’ve found,” I said. “Totally authentic.”

“Authentic?,” he chortled. “What does that even mean?” He asked if I could imagine Italian food without tomatoes. “Of course not,” I blurted. Then he reminded me that tomatoes are a New World food. He went silent, and let me draw my own conclusion: so, is every red sauce a fake? Of course not.

The tomato is not the problem. The esteem we give authenticity is the problem. It was a great lesson to learn, one that is useful to recall in discussions of cultural appropriation: nothing is innocent (or pure or authentic). Everything is hybrid. (Is there theft? Sure, but that’s a different question.)

So it’s important for talking about food, music, art … so why not writing? What does it mean to be “keeping it real”? How is writing hybrid, a mix of a personal voice and stylistic variations? (Let’s imagine a voice can be personal — rather than completely social.)

I do believe in stylistic mastery, and Dave’s got a brilliant sense of style. It’s conversational, of course, and deceptively simple. It takes work to master any style. My changes here aim to give his work a slight boost in that regard.

For example:

Dave: “Last year, a friend who runs a middle school in Red Hook, Brooklyn invited me to speak to a group of eighth graders at their career day.” For the lead, I made it a dear friend (more familiar) and pegged the date to October (more specific). If Dave’s friend reads this and is surprised to learn Dave considers them a dear friend, no harm done.

Dave: “My message boiled down to this: I had built a career off of making things and putting them on the internet.” I love a good power trio. Jimi Hendrix in 1967. Duke and Max and Mingus. And I love a list with three things, too. So, I elaborated that line into,

My message boiled down to this: I made things, I put them on the internet, and people really, really liked them.

I was first tempted to say something about money, but Dave steers clear of any mention of money. (It defies the unwritten rules of this style of voice.) Since Dave — like all writers — is writing for an audience, it’s useful for him to regard them here and, of course, now he’s all set up for the coda.

Part of this style, too, entails a willingness to explain. Dave uses no insider acronyms here, so I took that a step farther to explain the likely inspiration for the name “Bleacher Report” to the non-baseball fans. (Serious question: are there bleacher seats in other sports?)

Dave: “After selling Inverse last year, the thought of “What’s next?” has become more front and center.” This question is a big one — big enough that it should come with the emphasis that’s only available at the end of the sentence.

After selling Inverse last year, one question loomed: ‘What’s next?’”

I hope that gives you a sense of why “authentic” might not be the best adjective here. How could any editor make Dave’s voice more authentic?

I’d like to imagine I recognized the parameters of Dave’s style and nudged it forward a bit.

And that’s a wrap. If you like what you see, drop me a line over here.

Thanks!

Happy writing!

Published by Randal Doane

Living the good life in NE Ohio. I dig science and the written word. Let's build something amazing together.

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