Today, very nearly all the adapters of old models are intersecting with technology.
In Brooklyn that means the young guard at storied media brands and their upstart competitors often talk about software and efficiency and data in a way similar to self-identified technologists. Look at Andrew Nusca, a senior editor at Fortune at 30 and a frequent observer of tech startup circles.
He’s a loyal steward of the 86-year-old magazine, but with a twinge of punk rock in his dress he takes a different approach. The resident of Prospect-Lefferts Gardens holds true to many of the most traditional of editor tasks: assigning reporting, editing stories, working with writers.
In addition to the storied print mag, Nusca is busy making good on Fortune’s web vision, the kind of careful exploration that legacy media brands have been exploring for years. He’s the host of the publication’s video series, Tech Debate, in which he and a colleague walk through a familiar point-counterpoint method. But it’s a web series. On tech. From a nearly-century old print magazine.
Between the 5,000 emails he fields a month and executing a new survival plan for an old brand, Nusca relaxes with music and coffee. Yes, he’s one of those coffee drinkers — you might find him at his favorite shop, “Tip of the Tongue Baked & Brewed, for the record.”
In our regular series of learning from Brooklyn’s best and busiest, we asked him about how he gets done what needs getting done.
What’s the first thing you do every day before doing any tech-related work?
Coffee, coffee, coffee. I make a fresh pot, throw on some music, and drink it slowly as I pull myself together. There’s nothing but sensory overload waiting outside the door — the street, the subway train, the office, the inbox. I value the way that first cup or two lets me gather my thoughts in isolation.
"I've largely given up on the idea of Inbox Zero. As a public-facing member of the press, it's basically an impossible goal."
How often do you check your email, and do you use any program to get to ‘Inbox Zero’?
Far too much, but hey, it takes two to tango. I’ve largely given up on the idea of Inbox Zero. As a public-facing member of the press, it’s basically an impossible goal. Look — in the last 30 days I’ve received 5,000 e-mails to my Fortune inbox. And that excludes personal email accounts and Slack and the inboxes that come with Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and everything else.
My solution to all this is pretty rudimentary — let it wash over me.
I’ve disabled most push notifications on my phone and those little, anxiety-inducing red bubbles that appear on icons. I figure I’m already going to impulsively check things anyway, so no need to tempt myself into doing it more. I use Google Inbox and let things group themselves into oblivion. My boss for my old job at CBS, whom I loved working for, had a theory — if someone seriously needed him, they’d go beyond leaving him a voicemail or some other single communication. Depressing, but it’s proven true. Fight fire with fire.
How do you keep track of your revenues and expenses?
I don’t run the business of Fortune, but I do keep an informal P&L for my team of editors and reporters in a Google Sheet, just like most small business owners. I’m one of those editors who doesn’t run screaming when people start talking about how we make money. I like knowing what I and my team cost my company and what ROI we’re bringing to the table. For an editorial operation, that shouldn’t be the focus, but I don’t think there’s any glory in ignoring it.
When you need to take a break, what are you turning to?
I’m turning off, to be honest. I love going out to eat. A restaurant experience is a great way to dial back on information consumption. I occasionally go to the gym or walk the long way home. I’m also a musician, and there’s no better way to block things out than turning it to 11. And there’s always overseas travel.
What’s your gear?
I’ve evolved into a gadget minimalist, so I don’t use too much gear. My 13″ Apple MacBook Pro and iPhone 5S are basically extensions of my body, and I love them as much as a kid loves an old baseball mitt. (Ditto my sunburst Fender Stratocaster.)
As far as software, nothing too shocking — Google Apps and Sunrise and the usual social apps for the day to day; Adobe Creative Cloud and WordPress and Slack and Chartbeat and Omniture for work; Foursquare and MenuPages for, uh, personal productivity.
"Quality-of-life measures keep you fresh to take on what must be done. I don't always follow them as well as I should, but I try."
What’s one, specific time-saving tip you have?
Act, don’t react. It’s very easy to lose your handle on your time if you spend all of it fielding someone else’s balls.
What’s one way in which you believe your day-to-day work is better now than it has been?
Right now we’re closing our mega-thick Fortune 500 issue, so you’re catching me at a time when my day-to-day is at a nadir. (It’s worth it though!)
But seriously, one thing I’ve taken to heart is taking time to do and enjoy the small parts of your day. Don’t throw your jacket on the back of your chair — hang it up properly. Don’t capitulate to the terrible office coffee machine — if you’re taking a break, make the trip to somewhere better. Eat lunch with a companion and not at your desk. These are all ideas borrowed from the Tyler Brûlé playbook. Quality-of-life measures keep you fresh to take on what must be done. I don’t always follow them as well as I should, but I try.
Why Brooklyn for you?
It’s a great compromise between the metropolitan density of Manhattan and the relaxed, low-roof feel of the rest of the country. And since it was once its own city, it’s got good infrastructural bones — a genuine downtown, a centrally-located park, lots of public transit, an identity of its own. I’m from Philadelphia, and Brooklyn is very analogous to my hometown.
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