Exiting the Comfort Zone – from the Atlantic Council’s Art of the Future

Today, I recalled some of the lessons learned from MWG’s recent workshop that took place at Defense Entrepreneurs Forum’s DEF[x]DC conference for the Atlantic Council.

A conflict erupting in Iran and a speech delivered to Congress on the eve of a Department of Defense shutdown. These were the stories, if only the germinated seeds, that greeted participants as they entered the recent Military Writers Guild workshop at the DEF[x]DC conference. A crowd, save one, entirely out of their comfort zones when confronted with a writing challenge that stemmed from a fictional prompt.

When first approached with the idea of hosting a writing workshop at Defense Entrepreneurs Forum’s annual DC conference on behalf of MWG, I knew that first and foremost, the workshop should reflect the unique qualities of the organizations it was supporting. For MWG, this task meant building into the program a diversity of viewpoints, backgrounds, and writing styles. For DEF, it meant intellectually and interactively engaging some of the brightest young innovation-focused minds in the national security sphere. What better way to accomplish both these goals than a writing exercise whose only constraints were the mind of a participant?

Read the full write-up at the Atlantic Council >

On the (mis)use of history – The Pen and the Sword

This weekend, I sat down to chat with Nate Finney and Angry Staff Officer about the use and misuse of history in the military and national security professions. There were some really great points, both practical and big-picture, brought up. I also particularly relished the discussion of the latest episode of Hardcore History – a section I knew I wanted to bring up as soon as I heard it on the metro.

The podcast series, in general, is also hitting a bit of a stride (if I may say so myself). Learning the mechanics behind both producing and hosting is not something I would’ve encountered otherwise. Some of the software has a steep learning curve, but I think we’re quickly coming up with a product that is well and above some of the competitors out there.

From here, I’m going to work on creating a more consistent schedule for episodes. It’s been a bit of a worry since the inception of the podcast that I would eventually run out of ideas, or at least have a barely filled hopper. That worry hasn’t exactly gone away, but I’ve become slightly more confident in my ability to get it done.

In any case, here’s the episode. Hope you enjoy!
 

A Belated Year in Review

There was much to be thankful for this past year. Perhaps that’s not a particularly insightful phrase. After all, if a year goes by without those moments of brightness, it’d be an awfully disappointing prospect. Nonetheless, it’s still worth mentioning – if not for the mere fact of its existence than for the diversity of opportunities afforded to me both personally and professionally.

I’ve grappled with how to best organize and prioritize this post. This rumination alone should signal to you the reader that I haven’t been entirely successful in that regard. For my policymaking friends with broad agendas and limited time, I apologize and I hope to continue improving upon it in this new year.

Much of what I did this past year either directly or indirectly involved writing. In addition to continuing my (semi-) regular posts on strategy, books, and technology, I was also given the opportunity to join the Military Writers Guild in the early months of its founding. Thanks to the efforts of individuals like Ty Mayfield and Nate Finney (the full list of people who I should thank will turn up on my #FollowFridays with regular frequency), our organization has grown to over 100 members in the past year. What’s more, we’ve become a diverse set of individuals with an equal appreciation for some of the more innovative and insightful schools of thought surrounding the military and national security around the globe. For someone who enjoys listening as much as talking, it’s a privilege to interact with them everyday. Going into 2016, I’m both confident and eager that whatever comes out of the Guild will continue to build upon those qualities that we’ve begun to ingrain.

Looking forward into this next year, I hope to better take advantage of my free time to continue writing. Too many incomplete drafts of works no longer relevant sit in my Google Drive. Even if they’re to remain unpublished, I hope to at least finish those drafts in an effort to better organize thoughts and work on the loquaciousness. I didn’t meet all of the goals I set forth with writing the past year, and for better or worse that only harms me. I also hope to continue giving back in the ways that I can to those who have gotten me to this point and to those around me at a similar point. It’s something I’m reminded of on a regular basis when working with people as great as those mentioned above.

My unabridged draft of this roundup included my more professional efforts and goals, but I’ve left them out for this version. Consider it my resolution to be a better DC resident and only bring up work within the first fifteen minutes of a conversation rather than within fifteen seconds.

Unleash Your Inner Voice – My MWG Interview

While at our inaugural barbeque this Summer, I had the opportunity to sit down with John DeRosa on the tour de force that is his MWG interview series.

The interview covers a number of aspects of my writing style, reading preferences, etc., but one of the main things that I wanted to get across  is the philosophy that writing shouldn’t be limited to what you feel comfortable talking about without fear of being wrong.

This philosophy, that one can write about what they want to know, rather than only what they do know, is an important one to me. Of course, it’s also important to be honest in one’s limitations and true to the reader. I hope that you’ll check out the full interview at our Medium page and please, recommend and share with your friends. I hope you’ll join in on the discussion.

Full Interview