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For your next big thing—whatever that thing may be—consider going at it alone

Illustration © Ross McCammon

Because I’m writing this story alone, I don’t need to discuss with anyone how to start it off. So it will start with a story (an efficient story, I promise) about how for years I fundamentally misunderstood my mother’s experience raising me. …

A native Texan’s endorsement (and rediscovery) of the greatest pronoun in the English language

Illustration © Ross McCammon

Me and “y’all” go way back. I grew up in Dallas hearing a rich Texas vocabulary made even richer by thick Texas accents. My mom would order a “wat wan” with dinner, for example. As a kid I pronounced “cement” as “SEE-mint” and “umbrella” as “UM-brella.” (Sometimes I still do…

May I suggest a professional theme song?

Illustration © Ross McCammon

I have this record player next to my desk that has had the same record — side 5 of a live-concert box set — on its turntable since well before the pandemic. And every day when I sit down to work, I reach over my shoulder and press the turntable’s…

When all hope is lost: hope grenade

Illustration © Ross McCammon

The hour-long meeting was becoming a slog. Forty-five minutes of doubt and negative thinking. FUD City. Population 7.

And then something magical happened. Someone who’d been silent the entire meeting said, if memory serves, “Maybe no one wants to hear this, and I’m being an annoying optimist, but I love…

A simple note-taking strategy, featuring the greatest pen in the world

Illustration © Ross McCammon

I’ve stumbled upon an approach to taking handwritten meeting notes that has surpisingly transformed my work life over the last couple months.

First, the strategy. Then the idea.

The strategy is basically this:

  1. Acquire a sturdy full-size notebook (may I recommend the iScholar brand) and a Bic 4-Color Ballpoint Pen…

A simple thought exercise for when you’re experiencing boredom or burnout

Photo: RunPhoto/Getty Images

Over the weekend, I walked into my living room to see my kids bored to the point of physical incapacitation. They were strung out across the sofa, apparently crushed by the weight of, I don’t know, having all of their basic needs met. Their sighs were deafening.

For kids their…

A less-masked future is near, and our facial expressions will matter more than ever

Illustration © Ross McCammon

As vaccination rates increase, we’re getting closer to a future where masks are less of a presence in our lives, and our smiles (and non-smiles) will once again be visible to friends, co-workers, and the strangers we pass on the sidewalk and in the grocery store.

If that sentence didn’t…

A mental framework for making it through a difficult time

Photo: Seven Shooter via Unsplash

I like “shopping” for books in my own home by walking over to my bookshelf and pretending I’m in a used bookstore where every book costs zero dollars. It helps that I have terrible book memory, which means that every book feels new to me. (“Which one was Moby Dick…


Always remember — they won’t miss what isn’t there

Illustration by the author

When I can’t quite figure out how to start a piece of writing—from a Medium post to a feature story to an important email to a set of presentation notes— I write my way into it. …

A fashion maxim that works for the rest of life, too

Image: Kurt Brodbeck/EyeEm/Getty

It would probably surprise a lot of my current colleagues to learn, but I once worked “in fashion.”

I loved this part of my magazine job precisely because I’ve never been all that interested in how to dress. As a story editor, I could look at the subject unburdened by…

Ross McCammon

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