Welcome to my disclosure statement! In an attempt to be thorough, this is going to sound like I’m pretending to be a lawyer. Let the jargon and cliché commence!
Though I identify primarily as a journalist, I have historically earned much of my income from public speaking and my own media business ventures. These careers intertwine to make each other stronger (my business ventures inform my writing; my reporting and writing as a journalist educates me as a businessman; I get paid to speak about both of these, and use feedback from public speaking to inform my reporting and writing; and round we go.)
One of the core tenets of journalism is to ensure that the audience is not deceived about what they are seeing. I feel a strong duty to do this in not just my journalism, but ensure than anyone who engages with any of my work will not be deceived in any way about who I am or where I am coming from.
Though I attempt to make necessary disclosures of potential conflicts of interest in my individual works themselves, this disclosure statement is intended to document my history, current and past affiliations, and current business stakes for full transparency.
Though much of my writing is what I consider journalism (non-fiction chronicling and explaining of facts that attempts to 1] seek the truth as fully as possible; 2] seek to minimize harm; 3] be accountable and transparent; and 4] act independently), I also write what I consider non-journalism "content"—e.g. commentary, entertainment, and fictional television. I am often paid for these different kinds of writing, but have also often not been paid for my writing. I do not disclose what I have been paid within the context of each work of writing because that would be clumsy and weird. However, if I ever receive payment (whether monetary or some other form of payment, like a gift or dinner or a taxi fare) from the subject of one of my works of writing, I will disclose it within that piece. As a rule, I do not accept payment from subjects I write about in any form for my journalistic works, unless somehow what I am receiving is part of the story, in which case I disclose it in the story.
E.g. When an ice cream company offered me a bunch of free ice cream after I published a piece about it in GQ, I turned the offer down. (To the chagrin of all my friends!)
E.g. In a story for Fast Company about Samsung's secret celebrity phone conversion program, I became a member of the program and received a Samsung phone and "white glove" experience like the celebrities in the program. I explained this in the piece, and then went and paid for a new Samsung phone myself afterward.
This is my personal policy: Disclose when you are given anything by anyone other than the publication that you work for, and only accept offers for goods, services, and payment when doing so and disclosing it will 1] not offend or deceive the audience, and 2] make the story better than it would be otherwise.
I have often been paid by corporations, nonprofits, government organizations, and other groups to speak about my work and writing to their constituents. Sometimes these are organizations that I personally support. Sometimes they are not. In the same way that anyone, whether I support them or not, is welcome to read any of my published writing—or to purchase a copy of my books or magazine articles—for their own use, if an organization wishes to pay me to present these same ideas to a live or recorded audience, I will often be willing to do so. Simply because I have been paid to speak at an organization does not mean that I consider myself a supporter to that organization or am loyal to its owners or constituents, in the same way that such an organization purchasing a book of mine does not make me loyal to that organization.
As a rule, when I am paid to speak at an organization, I do not speak on behalf of that organization. I speak on behalf of myself, and in some cases my businesses (in which case I disclose this). There are some occasions where I will refuse to speak for a certain organization that I feel morally opposed to (e.g. a machine-gun manufacturer that markets to teenagers). However, I am generally okay with being allowed to express my ideas to organizations I don't agree with in an attempt to help change hearts and minds. (E.g. if the teenage machine-gun company will pay me for my time to speak to their employees about how they should stop marketing machine guns to teenagers, I would consider doing it!) (Real-life e.g.: I have in the past been paid to speak at energy companies about our obligation to protect the environment, admonishing them to be congruent in doing what they say they will do, rather than having "environment" be empty PR lines. If more energy companies want to pay me to say this sort of thing to their employees, I will likely accept. But I will refuse to be paid by an energy company to say something I don't believe, e.g. that burning fossil fuels into the atmosphere is a good idea.)
A comprehensive list of organizations that I have been paid to speak at can be obtained from my agent at Epic Keynotes.
(I will list other business engagements and affiliations below.)
I have spoken for free at many organizations and conferences (too many to count). I often get non-monetary benefit from these appearances in the form of publicity and brand awareness for myself and/or my businesses. It is hard to quantify the benefit for these kinds of appearances, but I hold myself to the same standard of accountability for these as if I were paid in cash.
Business & Investments
I own stock in various companies (mostly my own). My being a shareholder in a company does not necessarily mean I am aware of or agree with everything the leaders of that company do, though I do try to vote with my feet (and/or dollars) when I disagree on principle with any organization that I'm affiliated with.
At the last update of this page, I owned substantial stock in Contently, Substack, SHOWRUNNER, and Snow Media. I also bought a lot of Shiba Inu coin at one point and am filled with regret about it.