Why I'm starting Forestview
Taking time to see the forest in a world full of trees
Why start another newsletter? Why build a startup around digital content and media? We live in the Information Age where there is no shortage of ways that people and companies are engaged in “attention hacking”. Yet the irony is in today’s world, it feels harder than ever to find good quality information - the kind that is easy to understand, sparks new ideas and associations, and makes you want to discuss it with other people.
Growing up as a kid, my family watched the local TV news followed by NBC Nightly News each day. We even set up our dinner table so that my dad was seated on one end of the table, my mom and I on opposite sides, and Tom Brokaw at the other end (figuratively). My parents also subscribed to the local newspaper and several magazines including Newsweek, Time, National Geographic, Scientific American, and more. News and information were a big part of my life, and as an only child accustomed to listening to adult conversations, it drove many of the discussions that my parents had with family members, friends, neighbors, and work colleagues.
The changing information landscape
When I started my career, I sought to emulate some of the same ways of consuming information - less television (it was difficult to schedule life around the TV guide) but more from newspapers and magazines. I enjoyed reading the articles, but as life got busier it became more of a challenge to keep up with the news of the day. As my time became more of a limited resources, I gravitated towards those news items of the most interest to me. While this approach maintained a level of entertainment, I found over the years that the items that dominated headlines didn’t translate into trends and developments that had the most impact on my everyday life - the stuff I needed to know.
Over time, I started gravitating away from periodicals and got more into books. I love reading books because they allow me to go more in depth on a topic that I am interested in and want to learn more about. I feel more educated about the subject after I’ve read a book than in reading several different articles which are inherently more superficial. I remain a devoted bibliophile and strive to read at least 50 books a year; but, given the demands of a full-time job, family life, and external obligations, it is difficult to achieve. As I get older, I also find that my attention span is shorter and mental capacity to reflect and process what I’m reading is more limited - too many other items are competing for my “brain space”.
The rise of the Internet forever changed our information landscape, and with it came the rise of blogs, YouTube videos, social media, podcasts and more. Much of the content produced for consumption is by individuals and firms that are not part of the traditional media landscape. This has a major advantage and a major disadvantage. On the plus side, it widens the aperture of what information is available to you as a consumer, and exposes many more voices to you than before. On the down side, much of the information we consume today comes with little to no filter or context. Sifting through what is important and what is not is time-consuming and exhausting - there is no longer a faceless editor behind the scenes deciding what you should see and read (although there are faceless algorithms that are).
So why write Forestview?
I’ve spent 25+ years working as an industry professional in the financial services industry, most of that in insurance. Over a dozen of those years were in leadership positions where I was leading a team of people and responsible in some way for charting a course for my department and organization. As a professional and leader in an industry built around knowledge work, it was my job to be aware of current trends and build strategies and design tactics to help our firm effectively compete in the future. To do this, I was an avid information consumer, perhaps no more so than when researching a book I wrote on the rise of emerging technologies and their impact on the insurance sector called The End Of Insurance As We Know It which was published in 2019 and has subsequently become an international bestseller.
I’m been amazed by worldwide reaction to my book - while I certainly hoped that it would find a readership, my expectations were tempered by the fact that it was about a relatively niche topic called ‘insurtech” in an industry that typically doesn’t generate a lot of attention. While I’d like to credit the success of the book to my keen insights and compelling writing style, upon reflection I think it’s more basic than that. The book succeeded because it 1) presents high level current trends in an accessible way, 2) synthesizes why these developments matter to people, and 3) describes how those trends are impacting the future of business.
Perhaps the most frequent question I get is “when are you going to write another book”? While I do hope to write and publish several more books, I know that the writing process can take a while (my first book took a year to write). I also know that books are not the most digestible format - it takes a lot of time and commitment to make it through whether you are reading it or listening to the audiobook version.
So my answer to the question is this newsletter - Forestview. The name is intentional - the purpose of this newsletter is to provide you with “big picture” information on current trends that are or will likely impact you and your business in some way now or in the future. My goal is to present this in a digestible format that’s easy to understand and to apply to your own unique life circumstances. I also hope Forestview stimulates your own original thinking and - ideally - you’ll feel compelled to share it with others to invite their own reflection and start a dialogue. I do not expect that every edition of the newsletter will succeed in meeting this high standard, but I hope to have enough topics that do reach this level that you find value in subscribing.
What to expect going forward
Forestview is the first product from my new firm called Forestview Insights. My ultimate goal is to create a digital media company that produces newsletters, videos, podcasts, books, and online courses that inform you and stimulate original thought and creation to help shape our uncertain future. Forestview is launching with a twice-weekly publication schedule on Mondays and Fridays, and each edition will be designed to take no more than 5-10 minutes out of your busy day to read (this extended intro notwithstanding). My hope is that, in the deluge of e-mails you likely receive, Forestview will be one that you look forward to reading and allows you a brief moment to pause, reflect, and see the “forest view” while sipping coffee, tea, or whatever your favorite beverage may be.
Finally, I’d love to hear from you! As with any new product, customer feedback is critical in shaping the development of this newsletter. You can leave comments using the button below or send me a DM on LinkedIn or Twitter.