SRCCON:POWER Talks: Robert Hernandez on the power you have right now
Day & Time: Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018, at 5:15pm
KIM: Stop with your riffraff! That is squeaky! Hello, it’s the end of the day. Well, I had a wonderful day. I hope you had a wonderful day of thinking inventing, and learning, and prodding — yeah? I’m going to take silence as, “Yes.” So our next speaker for the day before dinner and then you have to listen to me one more time and then you go to dinner. But keeping you from dinner is Robert.
[ Laughter ]
I could say that because we’re — he was my virtual work husband for, like, years. There’s that one game of Wolfgang where he killed me. He’s a professor and he’s a confounder of WJChat and whoever. He didn’t give us a fun fact and I’ll tell you the story of how we met. When I was applying for a job, I was laid off for the second time, and I met somebody at the sale tent and I was somebody was liken, you should meet his digital editing guy, he’s really smart. And so we were emailing back and forth, and I met Robert at a Unity conference in Chicago. In twenty… 2008? And he walked — and he was late —
[ Laughter ]
Number one, he was late, and number two, I was like like, this dude is pretty cool, he’s wearing a leather cuff. He’s pretty with it.
ROBERT: Did I disappoint?
KIM: No, we’re still friends. So he is going to give a talk about power — as in the power that you have and the idea that you already have it; you don’t need to go seek it, and get it. You have it. And I’ll let him explain more.
ROBERT: Thank you. Thank you, Kim. First of all, the order to these things. It’s been a long day. How’s everyone’s energy level?
ROBERT: No, we need Big Freedia to bring us up a little bit! Who knows Big Freedia? Hats everywhere! Hats everywhere!
Was anyone at ONA and attended the session? Of course, Matt Thompson was. So my session is called Blank is the Future of Journalism. But I started to hijack it, and make a game show out of it and to not let contestant number two cheat, I had noise-canceling headphones. But I thought nothing is better than Big Freedia. And literally as I was getting out of my hotel room, I was like, this is going to give me fire! But luckily, the ONA people were like, what was the playlist, and who was that. So thank you for letting me play that. All right. So, my clock… Erika approached me about speaking about SRCCON:POWER. I’m a fan of SRCCON. It’s so inspirational, and affecting so many conferences from ONH, to NHJ, and I was like, yeah, sure, I was at a conference together, and I was like, we talked about something and we talked about them. Yeah, I got back, I got some ideas, I wrote up some notes. And I got here, and I heard every speaker, and I’m like, “Shit these people are amazing!” And you are adding, with realizing, and we’re going to end it with Robert. You know the feeling you get when the microphone is being passed around the room and you’re feeling how wonderful everyone is and it starts to fill your gut as it gets closer and closer? I’ve had that all day. So you may have seen me in the back going, “What did I do?” I don’t know I have no idea how long I’m going, I apologize. What I opted to do is to talk about how I’ve evolved with power. First when we talk about you have power, there are always excuses. Right, we talk about how we diversify. Well, I’m not hiring, dude. I don’t have money. I’m not the influencer. I’m just the intern. I just started. We come up with all these damn excuses no matter what situation we find ourselves in, we come up with all these excuses. Well, excuse my language but it is bullshit. It is bullshit! Because you have power now, more than you think. More than you think.
And let me also say that regardless of where you are in in your career, you have more power than you think, right? Now people know me through different prisms and we’re going to talk about that. And they’re like, man, you’re at a private university, USC. That university would not have me as a student. I am not an affluent person. I am not a lower-rung Ivy League school that strives to be higher than it is. I am a product of the newsroom, a product of immigrants who has found success through Twitter. Somehow, that connects with people.
And so when I say regardless of where you are with your career, I mean that. There’s stuff that I fell into that I was like, really? So no matter where you are in your career, you have power, and no matter where you are in your career, it will never feel like enough. They will never pay you enough whether you leave journalism and go into banking but you have more power and influence than you think.
[ Applause ]
Great! Thank you! Enjoy dinner!
[ Laughter ]
All right. So you have power. Now, right? Now like I said, I’m a professor at USC. I’m at ten years this summer,. My plan was two years, then bounce, but now I’m at ten years. So when I talk about power, I have a disclosure.
I don’t know what I’m doing more than half of the time. All right, guys? I was introduced to that song by Lady Dynamite, an underrated show. Maria van Burn, an incredible comedienne talks about mental health. She’s a wonderful person and talks about that all the time. And when I was asked by Erika to speak, I was like, well, I’ll talk about the stuff that I’ve gone through, and maybe people will relate to it, and, you know, let me tell you a little bit of who I am. My pronouns are he/him. I am a professor at USC. I am the product of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. I work on a lot of stuff.
Some things you’ve heard of like WJ-Chat and we’ll talk about that in a little bit. Just different aspect of my life, tinkering, doing things. But I wish it was part of some sort of master plan that I planned out. Really, a lot of people first knew of me in 2010, when I asked if Patch was evil.
And it was on C-Span. I googled it just to see, and it was like, ah… so full disclosure, at that moment, I was running for the board, I had nowhere hell of a chance to get elected to the board. I think that moment got me elected to the ONA board. And I was in a roomful of journalists not talking about something we wanted to talk about: can we trust this company. And that feeling I’ve had all day today, pit in my stomach. I preach about owning a seat at the table. I preach about speak up when other communities aren’t there. As if these really smart people aren’t gonna say, “Shit!” then I will say it. I was able to do that. I managed not to get sued but that was a big moment for me in my career: understanding what my responsibility is whether I’m on stage, or I’m in the audience and how we need to hold each other accountable and push us forward to share and communicate, and in some case, probably too much. In fact, just to prove my wife doesn’t believe that I’m an introvert, and my work wife doesn’t believe that I’m an introvert. This is the first time that I ever wrote in community college about my fear of public speaking. I took speech class three times before I finally passed it. I hate public speaking but I’ve found a way to find a hack where if I’m so passionate about it, I get over it, right? I got into journalism because the fear of missing deadline and letting my editor down was bigger than my fear of saying, “Hi.” So I found a way to hack that and so that’s what this isn’t.
I also found Twitter. Twitter was a fantastic way for an antisocial person to be social, right? You know, allowed me to say “hey” without making eye contact first. In fact, I tweeted this out a couple times, and people think I’m kidding, please say hi first, because I’m not good at saying hi first. I have found times when in my brain I do the math, I know this person’s name, I know this person’s name, are you sure you know this person’s name, you don’t know that person’s name, don’t say the name. And then I say, have courage! Say the name! I fuck up the name. It happened earlier today. Dude, I I saw you earlier on the web! God damn it. So Twitter allowed me to connect with people. And find more comfort in who I was. And I just tweeted what I felt like, and what I wanted to share like. And someone at XOXO said that it was privilege that you have. That was something that I didn’t process because that was just me and I was very lucky that I was able to to be engaged with it. I have an analogy. There’s two types of comedians, people who write jokes and they present you the jokes, and if you don’t laugh at them, that’s okay. They were work, jokes. And then there are other comedians, who tell you about their life will be and if you don’t like their experiences, you don’t like them. I am lucky for some reason that people respond positively to my tweets or my blog posts and that has begun to unlock myself. That was a privilege that by default, went my way. So perhaps the real title of this talk is: how I found power and you can, too! But how I found power completely by accident because remember…
I don’t know what I’m doing more than half of the time, right? So all these different projects organically happened for a variety of different reasons, opportunities, things that I thought were very possible but one of the concepts that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately when I’m reflecting almost ten years as a professor, which, they didn’t do a background check…
[ Laughter ]
… I realized there’s something through that I really like. And I worked with my first editor, my wife, and she’s like, I don’t like that phrasing. And then I worked with my second editor, Kim, last night and the phrase that we agreed on is I love acts of self-interested selflessness. By that I mean I like to do things. I like to do a lot of things. I don’t like to do things alone. I enjoy collaborating. I like to win. Whatever win means. I like to share these things with as many people as possible. So with that big list of all these icons I thought maybe I’d share my stories with you guys about how I got involved with these projects. I think some people have projected a narrative on me as a guy who’s great at keynotes — not sure — but is confident but I will tell you a curse of not saying hi first, middle school, high school, people think you’re conceited, it’s not the case, I’m just really damn shy. But I just thought I’d talk about some of these projects that I worked on, and why I worked on. And one of the first ones was the ONA chapter in Los Angeles. This was in 2009. I finally had the time to go on Twitter and I had an account on something called Web Journalist. I thought, hey, I’m a professor now, and maybe I should be professorial and Web Journalist has a good ring to it. And LA is a big town. Where do we hang out? Where do the journalists hang out? And Kim Buoy responded, the Redwood, it’s the bar for the Times. Do we want to meet, stranger?
KIM: We weren’t strangers!
ROBERT: We had known each other but we weren’t, like, best buddies at the time. And we started to meet, and we started to say, like, hey, other digital people, and I think a couple of other digital people started saying, can we come, too? And we were, like, sure! We’re just going to a bar and that evolved into angle ONA LA chapter that I’m a confounder of, but really, it’s me wanting to hang out with Kim. And it just brought more of the community together, and then we started to have all these events and then we had Akani Ho, God bless her, made legit, our panels and discussions like that. But I moved to LA with no one but I wasn’t going to network in person if I networked through Twitter, if I was unable to do that. This is a project that not a lot of people know, that’s called Learn Code for Journalism With Me? Did you do it? I bought this domain called forjournalismwith.me because it was a 12-year-old who bought a domain called .withme. And at the time, this has got to be 2011? 2012? And I wanted to learn to code. And I tried online tutorials solo. Tried books. I like working with a group of people. So I thought, Google Hangouts just came out. What if I get three other people to hang out with me and give me the peer pressure to code together? We can stumble through not knowing what the fuck a semicolon is doing to our code together. So I thought, well, why don’t I do a Google doc and tweet that out, looking a lot ten max, because that was the maximum was for the hang out. And you know what? 100 people signed up. And lo and behold, I had to start building cohorts and figuring out times for the code. My cohort met every Monday at 3:00 for a year. One of the folks that joined this project was Eric Reina? Does anyone know Eric Reina? He was a photographer. Learned code for journalism. I hope I’m not overall embellishing. But he says that’s what helped him get on the coding path. Right? A little project that was about my self-interest to code helped people.
WJChat was the one that started with a snarky tweet. Who knows WJChat. It’s wonderful when people know about it. This was also at the time when I met Kim and I tweeted out, like, how come there isn’t a journalism Twitter chat? And lo and behold, Kim and four other strangers or three other strangers came together and said, “Why don’t we do a weekly chat?” And it ended last year?
AUDIENCE: Last year!
ROBERT: Last year. Seven and a half years, every Wednesday, 5:00, Pacific, 8:00 p.m., eastern. Every single Wednesday. God bless my wife, and my kid for letting me do that while we were eating dinner. She hated Wednesdays. But I want to point out that there — this thing that was a hashtag because I was being a jerk on Twitter saying, like, where are these people so we can talk? A community responded and we had meetups, and then had an idea for temporary tattoos, and then someone sponsored in real life, events at ONAs, and it was magical, and beautiful, and Kim, Kelly, and Andre, please stand up. Andre, stand up. These were folks every week, that we had not met in real life, and write a script, and come up with this weekly chat. And thank you. You can all sit down. Came to create something really beautiful. And one of the things that I don’t share too much about is the cool thing about WJChat for me is that I got invited to the party because I put the party on.
[ Laughter ]
At ONA I wasn’t invited to the New York Times party, Guapo party, Google party. But I was invited to the ONA party and let me fuckin’ tell you, we threw damn good parties. Eric admitted that he had too much to drink to allow me to put that tattoo on his neck. He had to leave early, but he allowed me to show that photo. At one point I asked Neiman Lamp and they asked me what’s the impact? Cool. And then they hurt my feelings but then I wrote a post about a couple folks that was our proof for our impact including this young man here who graduated from ASU, and on his cap, he put #WJChat. Like, holy shit! I just to want to meet other people. And seven and a half years later, I got to connect with folks where people — here’s the best bonus — said hi to me first because they knew me on Twitter, right? That, to me, is an example of this, by-accident powerful things that happened. My current jam at the moment is something called Jovrnalism. My students and I are doing immersive stuff and one of the things I did there was create a Google group and have people who are doing this professionally apply to join in that group.
We have people all over the world. Every — every country, all over the world. Colombia. And they’re freelancers, and we have a wonderful, off-the-cuff, wonderful conversation about this crazy — gimmicky, is the bubble bursting? What’s that new camera like? Conversation through this ListServ. I know that I would not be invited to the — and I love the Knight Foundation — the Knight Foundation gathering if I didn’t put that group together. I know that I wouldn’t have been invited to the ONA to talk about anything because but I’m the guy that created the ListServ. Guess what, I’m in here because I made the fucking ListServ. You can’t kick me out! That was a hack that — this was a conscious hack that learning how all these things come together, it was a learning thing for me. And it’s so amazing and beautiful that when I meet folks from this group it’s wonderful. It’s like thank you for putting it together. I feel like a million bucks. I feel like an influencer, I guess.
The thing that really matters, too, about that is that I’ve been teaching emerging technologies kind of hackathon-style class for — this is completing the seventh semester for three and a half years. Every semester, I bring students from — we have a good rep of students across the university come to me to try to get into this class. And we’ve done work for ProPublica, the New York Times, U.S. Today, MSNBC, earlier this year, I took students to South Korea, I don’t know how that fucking happened but that happened. I took students to DC for the Women’s March 360 and every year, a crazy experience for me, this year woe focused on Annenberg decided if you’re interested in a topic, work on that topic. Sure, let’s try that out. I’m doing 360 VR, and I have this interest in a brain tree, and we focused on homelessness. The project that I wanted to do, the proof of concept that I wanted to do was using this technology called photogrammetry, taking images of a static object, ran through a program, and poof, a 3D model appears. Versus if we wanted to do a 3D model of this room, we need an artist from Pixar to create this hall, pixel-by-pixel, the chairs, the hall. But if I use photogrammetry, it wouldn’t be an interpretation of the hall, it would be the hall. And there were these things called portals, a student figured it out a year before but there was no way to show it, or distribute it. So I told a colleague in the class, I had an idea. What if I had a photogrammetry of a homeless dwelling and you can step inside the 3D model and hold presence with someone who’s homeless? And I was like, wow, that’s amazing. That’s also really insensitive because he was a com colleague, not a journalism colleague and he decided the media are voyeuristic. They parachute in, and say, hi, homeless person, cry for the camera. We hijack their stories. And this community, rightfully so, are standoffish. That home is one of the few things they own. You need credibility to get into this community. So the student started to work for this semester trying to tell stories around homelessness and using this technology and, of course, they were hitting the wall. They couldn’t break through. Not many people wanted to get on the record and I thought of this idea. While we made contacts with these non-profit organizations, maybe they could help us. What if we offer — I offer — a two-day training for select members of the homeless community and teach them how to tell their own stories in 360 and VR and I mentioned that to some of the non-profits and they were like, this is fantastic, great, can you nominate people? And the public library where I worked with on an AR project, they were like, we’ll host you and we’ll buy you lunch. And that’s what we did. We did a two-day training at the downtown library where we trained folks on how to tell their stories on 360 cameras. But before that, I was like, I can show you how to use a 360 camera, but but what’s the fucking point if you leave without a fucking camera. And I looked at the little money I have, and I figured out I could create workable kits for $300. The kits were cheap enough, and workable quality enough, so I was able to bring kids together, bring folks from the homeless community together, show them how to use the camera, and I said, look, now you have this camera. Two-day training, that was the deal. You can do this and say, peace out, Hernandez, your jokes were lame but I got a camera out of it. Or you can work with us, and the students and help produce your stories. In a sense granting us access, and showing them the power of their storytelling. And another thing happened in preparation for it. I was talking to Al Jazeera’s VR campaign. They have a campaign called My People Our Stories. And they were like, if it works, we will run your stories. So the third option to the participants, the clients was: do you want to attempt to get published by Al Jazeera? We’re ten. We can only publish four. And all ten said we’re all in. And that’s what we’ve been able to do. One older woman came up to me and was like, hey, I’m going to see you in your office tomorrow? With these two trainings? No, I want to work with you. Oh, shit, okay! Next week? And the next cohort came together to review the footage they produced. The stories they’re producing are so amazing. One story is about this couple that both were homeless and fell in love.
And it’s about dating and being in love while homeless and the student who’s producing the story wrote this piece so I wanted to convert it into something I could publish. He’s a news editor and he said that if someone pitched him that story idea, he would be like, no, there’s no story here. But because this is their reality and their story, and the whole premise is to produce this effective, immersive experiences, it redefined what is news for him. This is someone’s reality and what I also found with this technology is I could hijack. Everyone knows the dancing hot dog that was supposedly going to save Snapchat from bankruptcy. If you still have Snapchat now, take out your phone, point at that QR code and what it’ll do is you’ll be our first beta testers, public folks, you will be able to unlock a lens, place a homeless tent in front of you on your tabletop, or on the ground at scale. You can hear the woman, Jennifer take a tour about her home and you can fuckin’ walk inside. I had to leave earlier today to talk to students saying, I had another version of 360 version where we do it in the studio but to do it in an experience, it’s a maximum of 4 megs. To do a 360 photogrammetry model is 2 gigs. Don’t rip us off yet because I want to publish it first. But I wanted to show it to you guys. But this is where the students won and to be able to connect with a community that was under-represented. It’s pretty phenomenal to do that, right?
And so all these different things all come together through community. They may not have invited me but because I created it, they had to include me. And as an organizer, I also get to include — I get to decide who gets invited. I know who’s under-represented, I know that when it comes to tech, it’s skewed way male, so I ensure my classes are diverse. So when I make a panel, I make sure it’s diverse and plus, because it’s the community, I don’t have to say hi first. I made a blog post of differences you can do now to make an impact to your industry. One now is pitch a session. Who pitched a session for SRCCON? Right? It takes work but you can have immediate impact by pitching a session to say why you think I, as a person of color, or a younger person, or a woman, and you don’t hire me because you don’t think I’m qualified. I’m qualified, by default I’m going to own the stage and be the expert in the room by organizing a session.
Right? Excellence in journalism, SPJ, their deadline for sessions is coming January 18th. We missed for SXSW, and ONA for New Orleans, where I’ll be able to get campaign to perform. But the act of you pitching a session gives you power. You can own that. Don’t “I’m not ready yet.” Fuck that! You are ready from whatever perspective in your career. And when you pitch a session, don’t make it about diversity because no one’s going to come. What you do is you make an inclusive, diverse panel and you don’t even talk about it because that is the reality of our world. We don’t have to say, “Oh, look, everyone! We’ve got a black person!” Just look at the room. We had to call out and we were very diverse… no! Just make an inclusive panel. You have that power when you pitch, when you get selected. If you want to be real crazy, run a conference! You can do that. Now, when you get that, if you’re on a panel, the other power that you have if you’re an established — maybe you’ve done a couple panels and now you’re an expert, someone asks you to be on a panel, all you have to do is ask: who are the other panelists? Are there women, are there people of color? You know what the answer is going to be. You can also use their power to say, you know what? Why don’t you give my spot to somebody else. Here are some names, right? Or how about I help you find — that’s the better one. Don’t just shit on them and critique them. But say, how about I give you some names to give you inclusivity? We have one woman, she’s on the path to moderator. That’s not really giving them the power they deserve but you have the power and influence if you’re invited on a panel to do that.
If you can afford it, if you get invited to a panel, chances are you don’t have to pay for your registration. If you are fortunate and your employer is going to send you to that conference anyway. Don’t tell them, no! Save that money! Give away your free comps registration away. Not many people know this, but we did that at WJChat. Which ONA? How did we get that? That was my coached registration. I didn’t need to tell you not to see me. Someone might have told me that’s embezzlement. I don’t think that is. Don’t tweet that shit out! But what’s the matter if they’re going to send me anyway. Give that comp registration away. Find someone who needs it. And don’t say, hey, everybody! Look at this diversity fellow. You just normalize it. Treat them like everyone else and if you can afford it, and this organization gives you an honorarium use that, and that’s something that SRCCON does well. Amplify is an easiest way for you to use your power wherever you are. I see you, I hear you. Retweet our endorsements to a certain extent. And I asked him if it was okay to share because he tweeted out, I’ll review your résumé if you’re applying for this fellowship. That simple act is saying, I can help you. That is really powerful. To say, hey, there’s this opportunity. Who knows if someone’s going to click on it? And I will tell you in my life on Twitter, about six people’s careers have changed because I’m like hey, there’s a job and to be able to amplify that goes a long way. But also to call bullshit on things when someone uses their voice to write: you know what, we need to change our newsrooms. We as Americans need to do a better job of listening to them. You have to have the courage to be like, psst, dude, minority journalists are Americans, too. So maybe say “we fellow Americans?” Right, you’ve got to use your voice even if it’s 140 characters, or 22 or whatever. So those are opportunities. The opening talk today was amazing. Sara’s formerly branded podcast called No You Go First goes along a few things where we’re at a meeting, or a discussion table, and two people speak at once. And nine times out of ten, a woman says, no you go than the guy does. I want you, especially the men, to go, no, you go first and let them go first. And I would ask women and many of them here don’t need this plea, to go first. Say, god damn it! I’m going first! But if you need a defamation. I instill that power and I give you that permission.
One of the things that I appreciate that SRCCON does is pronouns. And for a while I thought, why am I using pronouns. I feel like I’m co-opting something. And I thought the act of using cis-male pronouns, just in the last year I realized that using pronouns exercises power. You’ve got that little act, you have that power to say, my pronouns are. So it doesn’t seem odd when someone does that. Be the change you want to see. He didn’t say that quote. That was a bumper sticker. Gandhi didn’t say that quote. He also didn’t invent that quote. That was a poet named June Jordan. But we want to be the change we want to see in the world but we are the ones we’ve been waiting for. You’ve got this power. You’ve got this power because you are here at SRCCON. You got here somehow because there were people who couldn’t be here but couldn’t couldn’t for the time, the money, or the health reasons. So you have that power. And right now they’re living through you. Share your power by all the knowledge that you’re gathering. Share it. Put it out there. Use etherpad and use public notes. You have such an advantage that a lot of folks in our industry don’t. That simple act of sharing! Use it and let me know how I can help but remember…
♫ I don’t know what I’m doing ♫ More than half of the time
Probably like most of you guys, I don’t know what I’m doing more than half of the time. But thank you for letting me ramble for a bit. Questions?
[ Laughter ]
[ Applause ]
KIM: I’m just going to use my moderator, my MC power for one second. I hope Robert isn’t embarrassed by this. Last night, we had dinner because we don’t see each other anymore because I moved away. I’m sorry. And when we were walking, we were talking about my new job and how I’m so confused, and how I’m lonely. He stopped me and said, Kim, I need you to hear that you had an amazing career in spite of adversity, and I was like, no! I don’t want to here it!
ROBERT: Who here has been influenced by Kim?
KIM: Who’s been influenced by Robert Hernandez?
ROBERT: More people raised their hand for Buoi.
ROBERT: I don’t know how you ask questions about that.
KIM: Y’all are hungry?
AUDIENCE: I had a — you mentioned being involved with a lot of things and starting a lot of things. How do you choose what to not be involved with, or get things off your plate to keep your own workload reasonable?
ROBERT: God bless you. I try to report on that. I look to my inspiration, Matt Thomas. I don’t think I’ve told him this before because I’ve had this idea for a podcast. Because why not. This was about five years ago. People that inspire me. And Matt Thomas does a lot of amazing things and when he does them, he doesn’t do them at moral level, he does them at Matt Thomas level. And he broke out his calendar, which I swore when he opened it was gold and brilliant and he told me how he’s so disciplined to organize. That is not me. What I have found and what I’m lucky with is that my job is to try and test things over and over again. And it’s gonna fuck up life balance. All I get to do, though, with my guiding light is, I like doing this, and I like doing this with great, smart people. I’m going to do that. That’s the guide that I have. But when you have a lot of opportunities, it’s hard to say no. And you feel that weight in responsibility of, like, there’s a non-profit! I should go help them and, oh, to go to India! Oh, yeah, I’ll go to that! You just gotta be greedy but you pay for it later, I guess.
AUDIENCE: By the way, I, too, fear and envy Matt Thomas’s calendar! Seriously, y’all should ask him to see it. It is like —
ROBERT: He writes it down, and then he goes back to it!
AUDIENCE: So you talked a lot about all the things that you’re involved with, and that you kind of started just on a whim and then they ended up successful. So what about the things that failed miserably?
ROBERT: Oh, let me go back because I have lots of those! Yeah, they’re on there! It’s so funny. Where are you, where are you, where are you? So Learn Code for Journalism. That was before the industry was like, “We gotta do coding.” So when the industry was starting to write checks for these organizations to learn coding, I was like, god damn it! Missed that. Blind As a Journalism, that was a cool thing, and I turned into it, many years later, a panel or something. Talk and that typewriter. Talk.with — what the fuck was my domain name? I converted — I made a podcast, and that failed. Dude! Dude, I got lots of missed episodes and that one episode I recorded was when I died play this rambling when I’m driving to the airport. You know what’s been interesting. Lately a lot of people saying, Glass — Google Glass, it was a failure, right? People missed the point. I was going to include the gif of the class who worked with me on Google Glass. It was women and men, 50/50. The engineering school skews men. And undergrad, grad, domestic, international. All different backgrounds coming together to work on something. Who gives a shit if this product launched more? We were successful in learning and experimenting together. That, to me, some people see as a failure. But that, to me, told me POV storytelling, and micro-storytelling. A lot of things. I’ve got a lot of failures, and God bless my wife for hearing all of them.
KIM: What was that one dog thing that we did? I actually told him that was a terrible idea.
ROBERT: Yeah, oh, my gosh! I have a WordPress of all our failed projects! Yeah!
KIM: Any other questions?
AUDIENCE: Wait, so Robert so when you use the comp recommendations, how the recollect do you do that? Like, they offer you a comp registration and you’re like, I’d like to give it to this person?
ROBERT: So good question. I’ll back up something else that I did that I don’t know is replicable but try it. When I first started in this industry and started to get underpaid for what we do, I said, hey, can you send me to the NEJ conference, the National Association for Hispanic Journalists conference? And at the time, it was valued for when writing existed and they paid money. And they said, I don’t know what changed my mind, but they were like, yeah, we’re going to send you to that conference. When I went to USC, I was like, you’re going to send me to five conferences like SXSW, and ONA, and they were like, cool. And so what I was a panelist, I think I was on the board when it first occurred to me where I told the Executive Director, hey, would it be okay if I gave away my comp conference? My school is paying for it. You’re giving me this anyway. This is paper money and it could make a difference. And they were like, sure. They asked if they could be a member and I said, I make no guarantees. But they allowed me to do it year after year, every time if I managed to get a comp, I would have that agreement with ONA. And I’ve been trying to do that with other organizations, as well. The truth is, getting you there, giving you a registration doesn’t cost — they overdo it, of course, it’ll cost them money but they’re not paying you for your flight or hotel, but that’s an expensive registration, ONA. So just ask. I have friends — I’m a big on Kim and Dave Calling. When they joined the ONA board, they fucking paid out of pocket. If you’ve seen me travel somewhere it’s because someone is paying for it. Because I have a 10-year-old and he eats a lot. And he’s growing against my will and so I have no money so I can’t imagine out of the goodness of my heart volunteering. You have someone else paying for it. And you might want to reconsider your employer if they don’t want to pay for that. You are going to a conference to do training they should bring to you and they’re not. At the very least, you shouldn’t use up your vacation days. At the very least, they should comp you — go! You won’t lose your vacation days. That’s the minimum.
But I know it’s hard to ask and it’s nerve-wracking but here’s another thing that I’ve learned when I was a manager. It’s from a different budget, right? So that doesn’t — oh, that’s a different budget. Oh, yeah, sure. That’s fine! So ask the organization and see what happens.
KIM: We have time for maybe one more question. Anybody else?
ROBERT: Just staring at each other.
KIM: Okay. What next?
AUDIENCE: What next?
ROBERT: Well, you asked! I’ll tell you! So what had happened was…
[ Laughter ]
The Center on Public Diplomacy, even before that, the State Department, asked someone at the Center on Public Diplomacy and asked me whether I would ever work for the State Department. And he came to talk to me about that and he was like, hey, I’m Jay I’m ready to help. And they also said, I’m talking to the Korean government and the Korean Foundation. And I was paying attention and I said, sure. And he said, maybe we’ll work out something with them. And I said, well, if they pay for it, send me to South Korea. It was a throw-away comment, two weeks later, he got the money. MSNBC major markets, and they liked that I came back last month and asked, would you like to work with us again. And I said, hell yeah! If you pay for my entire class to go to South Korea for one week. Ask! They didn’t say no. They’re considering it. So I told my students maybe and because of that work that people come and pitch to us. By the way, if you want to work on 360 video photogrammetry, it’s a mutually beneficial partnership where my students can teach you how to do this stuff and your brand and distribution amplifies it. Everyone wins. So there’s reverend at USC who collaborates and goes to the Arizona/Mexico desert and hikes over the trails where undocumented folks cross over. I’d like to do something but I’m not fit. I’m not going to hike the desert. My parents so I didn’t have to! I’m out of shape. I don’t know if we’ll do that but a lot of projects have popped up and — has anybody heard of ROBB Report? What is it, Andrej, because I didn’t know.
AUDIENCE: It’s like a review type.
ROBERT: It’s like an affluent magazine that reviews high-quality leisure products. And they asked me to market with them. I might get out there in a jet, you guys! I might go in a jet! Hell yeah! That might be my future. Thank you guys for dealing with me. Round of applause for Erika, Ryan, the staff, Kim, I got to witness all of that so that’s why it was intimidating. Pretty fantastic. Thank you for everything!
[ Applause ]
KIM: Robert also taught me always flirt. Not always like a romantic sense. But once you have a job and someone wants to interview you, do it. He basically just tells me to do it any time I ask him a question. Dinner details. Dinner starts at 7:30. They’re mostly full now. If you’re, like, dying to get into somewhere or you have questions about it, Erika can answer your questions. We would appreciate it if you get there earlier than 7:30. I know we’re not great with deadlines as journalists but some of the reservations won’t seat everybody until the whole party is there. And they’re under Erik Westra. There are two talks tomorrow. Rick Perris, and then Richard, and Ben, and you get an extra half hour of sleep because breakfast starts at 8:30 right here. Have a good night!
[ Applause ]