If I actually sit down and think about it, I realize that one way or another, I’ve been a writer and content wrangler for over forty years. Words have always fascinated me, despite which I’m a tragically mediocre Scrabble player.
Some personal background: I grew up in a big family in the village of Painted Post, New York, in the Finger Lakes region. Summary: incredibly beautiful and remote, and really tough winters. My father was the town surgeon, and I had four brothers and sisters: Cindy, Chuck, Cassie and Molly. Interesting fact: I am a direct descendant of William Brewster, of the Mayflower. My mother was one of the first women to graduate from Cornell Law School — one of two females in the class of 1952. My father paid his way through medical school by playing poker and selling his own blood, which you could do in those days. It was about as All-American a childhood as you can possibly imagine — I spent a lot of time outdoors and everyone kept time by a factory whistle, which still blows. I’m not sure that kind of boyhood exists anymore, which is a profound pity.
It was also unique because Painted Post is exactly two miles away from Corning, New York, world headquarters for Corning, Inc, a leading global technology company. Our house was about a five-minute walk from Sullivan Park, Corning’s main research facility. I was immersed in tech from birth, basically. I remember writing BASIC programs on a PDP-11 terminal when I was in seventh grade. The dads in our neighborhood were ceramic engineers, chemists, physicists. I dated the daughter of one of the guys who invented fiber optics. Technology has always been part of my life. That may explain the startups.
I left for college, then lived in, among other places, Manhattan, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Chicago, Silicon Valley, Santa Cruz and finally, Carmel Valley, California.
Along the way, I’ve done a lot of different content-related things. I was, for instance, the youngest editor ever of my high-school newspaper. I won the J. Walter Thompson copywriting award in New York, and worked for two years as a copywriter for Peter Arnell‘s ad agency, on accounts like Donna Karan and Lifetime Television. I worked for Conde Nast magazines for two years. I studied copywriting at the School of Visual Arts in New York, and legal writing at the Law School of the University of Pennsylvania, where I received a J.D. in 1993. Before that, I got my undergraduate degree with honors from Swarthmore. English major, of course.
I have also been part of the founding teams of three tech startups, all of which were content-based. Flycast Communications was one of the very first online ad networks, which went public and was then sold. ComScore Networks is an online media measurement company, which also went public. Zero Cognitive Systems is an enterprise generative AI startup. All of these companies explored the place where content and commerce intersect.
I now live and work in Carmel Valley, sort of where cowboys meet movie stars. The best example of what the Valley’s culture is like is a very battered pickup truck I saw once parked outside The Running Iron, the local cowboy bar. It had two bumper stickers: the Salinas rodeo, and the ultra-exclusive Swiss resort town of Gstaad.
My commute is exactly seventeen steps. My house is in the Santa Lucia mountain range and has two fireplaces, which means I spend a fair amount of time splitting kindling. When I’m not working, I spend my time hiking, training with my coach, the beautiful-but-cruel Madison DuBois, fly fishing, trying to get my Siberian Husky Koda to listen to me and, of course, reading a lot. I have three daughters — Amelia is a no-kidding Internet influencer and model, and Laura and Grace attend Vassar and Tulane.