The World’s Longest Out-Of-Office Message

Early last year I started talking about taking a sabbatical from The Awl. But we had a whole ton of fun, hard and cool stuff to do in 2015 (like seeing The Billfold move onto Medium!) and I didn’t want to miss it. So I put that idea out of my head and we got to work.

At last we arrived here at a healthy breathing place where it seemed organic to consider it again. So now it looks like I’m actually going to step off the mound for a while, to do something as yet unknown.

Here’s why!

  • I spent a lot of time this last year watching how we work here, both at the central company and in our work publishing four titles. I saw that there was something slightly logjamming our progress across the board. I couldn’t put my finger on it, and then, inevitably, I realized that the inefficiency… was me! With Michael Macher heading revenue, Dusty Matthews heading technology, and my partner Alex Balk handling editorial and marketing and staffing and so much more, well, that’s already a great, autonomous, informed decision-making team. Sometimes cofounders get underfoot! I’m totally amazing obviously, and everyone here is just so lucky to even know me, much less work with me. But really? I’m replaceable with a good bookkeeper (hi Meg), a good lawyer (hi Diana), a sardonic Slackbot, and a refurbished Roomba.
  • When David Cho, our founding publisher, couldn’t resist the opportunity to go work with Bill Simmons to launch Grantland in 2011, it was a huge pain for us. It turned out to be an awesome opportunity too! Balk and I got to really get our hands dirty and learn how to be partners in a business. We all benefited. So I think my taking some time off will give other people chances to stretch and learn new things.
  • I’d like to learn some new things myself. I’ve slowly moved from editorial toward the operations and business side here over the last six years, and I’ve taken on various roles and learned a lot about small businesses. But small businesses do things eccentrically. Independent media definitely does things eccentrically. I’d like to go look at how other people do things, maybe try on new ways of being. Then I’m going to steal all these ideas and use them here. :)

So yes, I’ll be back. Maybe in like six weeks! Or, just as likely, much less soon. As when we started this company back in early 2009, I definitely don’t have a plan. (Do you have a plan for me? Let me know!) In the meanwhile, Balk and I, after all these years, still equally share 100% of the company’s voting rights, so I’ll have the privilege of weighing in on the big decisions here.