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What’s in My Media Diet?

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Catching COVID in December 2020 was life-changing for me, although not exactly for the reasons you might think. What was most life-changing about my experience was that it helped me reevaluate how I spend my time and, inevitably, where I place my mental focus. Sleeping 20 hours a day for the better part of 2 weeks will definitely leave you with some thoughts on what you can trim out of your daily routine.  

The biggest area of my life that I’ve changed is how I approach what’s in my media diet. I’ve tried to keep my media diet as lean as possible while also making sure I’m staying informed in areas where my leadership requires it. At the same time, I’ve also amped up my efforts around creating content because I believe there’s real value in not just consuming but also in creating.

Here’s a rundown on the changes I’ve made in what I consume: 

I’m All-In on LinkedIn

I made the conscious decision after taking a forced 2-week break from social media that LinkedIn would be the only social media platform where I spend my time. Work is never far from my mind, so it only makes sense that if I had to pick one, LinkedIn would be the social platform for me.

There have been times in my life where I’ve really enjoyed aspects of Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, but those times had largely passed. Just before I caught COVID, it was much more likely that, in a moment of down time, I would mindlessly take out my phone and scroll through one of those platforms. Now, after more than a year and a half of going dark on every network besides LinkedIn, you couldn’t pay me to get back on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. I find myself more present in the moment and far more connected to the people in my life that matter than I did when I was much more “technologically” connected.   

Business News Goes with Breakfast

The only news I consume in the morning is business or work-related. My first stop is usually LinkedIn, where there’s almost always something in my feed that piques my interest. Oftentimes it will be a post from someone I’ve personally connected with over the years whose voice I’ve come to appreciate: Anna Catalano, Alan Stein, Jr., and Gill Haus are just three recent examples I can think of who shared content that really resonated with me for one reason or another. 

After LinkedIn, I’ll check Apple News to get up to speed on any business news I may have missed. Using Apple News and Apple News only is one of the main ways I’ve been able to stay so regimented in limiting my media diet to topics and subjects that I know will really matter to me. Facebook and Twitter especially make it so easy to fall into the outrage trap of whatever social or political topic du jour seemingly has the whole world’s attention.

Outlets whose articles I regularly find myself reading are the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Economic Times, Washington Post, Business Insider, Harvard Business Review, Fortune, and Forbes.

Beyond Apple News, I also keep a running list of saved articles that I consult periodically in case there’s anything I’ve come across that I couldn’t read in the moment but knew I wanted to consume while I’m in “deep work” mode. 

Current Events Come After Dinner

As much as I detest the 24-hour (or less) news cycle, executives have to stay attuned to what’s happening in the world around them. With 3Pillar’s 2000+ employees spread across 9 countries, so many things can impact our ability to serve our clients. Everything from inflation and employment rates to geopolitical conflict and the latest COVID trends has factored into my decision-making at some point within the last several months.

Like with business news, I use Apple News to manage what current events news lands on my plate. Many of the same outlets I listed above are my most trusted sources for catching up on the day’s current events. 

I also love to listen to audiobooks and podcasts, and the evening is usually when I dig into those. Patrick Lencioni and Michael Hyatt are invaluable resources and inspiration on the leadership front. Anything from Simon Sinek will typically catch my attention (and often change the way I see an issue), and you can’t beat Jocko Willink when it comes to motivation and leadership principles. Harvard Business Review’s podcasts, including IdeaCast and Coaching Real Leaders are two that I’m really enjoying currently. 

And while I have by and large tuned out political noise because of the toxicity and cravenness of it all, I do make it a point to educate myself about upcoming elections and where candidates stand on issues that are important to me. 

Sports are for the Weekend 

My guilty pleasure when it comes to media is binging sports news on the weekend. I’m a die-hard Celtics fan, so I had tons of great reading to catch up on this summer when the Celtics made it all the way to the NBA Finals under first-year coach Ime Udoka. While they fell in 6 games to the Warriors, the Celtics’ remarkable run kept me entertained from April to June.

I’m also a big baseball fan and have followed the Red Sox since I was a kid. Sadly, the Red Sox news of late hasn’t been as riveting as all the stories on the Celtics were over the summer. My usual suspects for where I turn for sports news: the Boston Globe, ESPN, and I’ve also been trying out and liking the Athletic for the personalized coverage you get based on your favorite teams.

Wrapping It Up: A Leaner Media Diet Equals More Focus, Greater Connectedness 

Why does all of this matter? Why have I spilled 900+ words (and counting!) on my changed media diet? Because it has been a force for good in my own life. Because I think we could all use a little more focus and intention in our lives. And because I know we could all stand to live in the moment more and be attentive to our colleagues, families, and friends rather than to the slabs of glass and titanium buzzing incessantly in our pockets or on our wrists.

So, give the lean media diet a try for a week or 2. Don’t even bother customizing an Apple News feed for now, as that may well end up defeating the purpose by replacing one guilty pleasure with another. Just start with removing something superficial that you know is one of your media weak spots — Twitter, anyone? — and go from there. Other than a little anxiety, take it from me that you have very little to lose.