Hello from the two newest members of the Matter team! We’re Lindsay Abrams and Shereen Adel, the Associate Producers for Media and Program Operations. That’s a long way of saying that we’re here to do a little bit (okay, a lot) of everything to support our team, our partners, and our entrepreneurs as we work to change media for good. We’ve been here running things behind the scenes for awhile now, but we thought it was time to properly introduce ourselves.
Holding down the NYC office is Lindsay, the summer fellow who couldn’t bring herself to leave. Lindsay came to Matter straight from earning her Master’s in Journalism from Studio 20 NYU, a program similarly focused on media innovation in a time of digital disruption. Prior to that, she was on the front lines of this changing industry as a blogger and reporter. It only took a few years for her to grow tired of watching companies cram old models into the new landscape, and some more time after that for her to figure out what she might do instead. What she eventually realized, as she put it rather earnestly in her original application to Matter, was that “I still wanted to do what I’d always dreamed of doing: use my words, creativity and strong sense of civic duty to help build a more engaged and informed society. I just wanted to do it better.” She’s thrilled to find herself working with people who are committed to starting from scratch and building something even better than what we had before.
Joining us from the West Coast is Shereen Adel, who can be found getting shit done in Matter’s SF office. Shereen walked into Matter at first not knowing what to expect— prepared for anything. After working as a producer in public radio, she was looking for a way to keep telling stories that matter. Fate happened! Now, not only does she get to produce Matter’s podcast, sharing tales of the “drunken walk” of the entrepreneur, but she also gets to help foster a community of entrepreneurial problem solvers committed to reimagining the media landscape.
The two of us work closely together on everything, from developing Matter’s media strategy to planning the partner and entrepreneur experience, but with a continent between us, we’re still in the process of getting to know each other. So we figured we’d work on that, and let the rest of the Matter community get to know us as well, by interviewing each other. It turns out, we have a lot in common.
Shereen: Let’s start with the same thing we ask our design review panelists, what’s your single biggest excitement?
Lindsay: I am four days into officially being in this new job. So I’m still kind of in that phase of being amazed that I found a way to work in media, an industry I deeply care about, but in a way where I feel like what I do has impact.
That’s big picture; in day-to-day terms, I can’t wait to go back to California for bootcamp, because that’s how I spent my very first day at Matter as a fellow. When I was going through it the first time it was just this amazing, intense time unlike anything I’d ever experienced before, and I thought it would be like nothing I would ever experience again. And I was very wrong about that.
What about you? What are you most excited about?
S: As we get closer to starting Matter Eight it’s been a whirlwind again that reminds me of when I first started. It’s exciting.
L: Remind me what was happening at Matter when you first started.
S: I started just before Matter Seven’s third Design Review. I spent a couple weeks learning the ropes, and then dove right into Demo Day prep. There was a lot going on.
L: I remember you looking a little dazed.
S: Yeah. I remember thinking then a lot about what I was most excited about. I wrote down how my excitement changed day by day. I finally landed on just being excited to work in media, doing something that I care about, and doing it with people I’m really excited to work with. I’m excited to see these big media organizations innovating and to see new companies working on things that, you know, are so needed. The best part is getting to work with people who are really problem-solving in this environment.
L: I’m totally with you. We’re solving everything from how to save media to where we’re going to take everybody on retreat.
S: Yeah, it goes from really granular to really big picture all the time.
So, we also ask our panelists about their hesitations. What would you say your biggest hesitation was starting out?
L: You know, being here is a different way of working in media than I traditionally envisioned for myself.
I feel great about the decision to work somewhere where I can be working with our partners, who are those people in traditional media companies who are really interested in change, and with the people from outside of those companies, or formerly of those companies, who are going out on their own and trying to do something completely new. But I’m still defining what my role in all of this is going to be.
And I’ll be honest, the “Problems Worth Solving” are daunting. I saw it first-hand when I was working directly in media, and I learned how deep some of the industry’s troubles go in my graduate studies. I love how optimistic and fully committed to our mission everyone at Matter is, but I won’t pretend I’m not hesitant about how much needs to be done.
S: I think that’s something we have in common. I had in my head more traditional producer positions in audio or video. I didn’t expect to land here. But I love that we’re in a place where we’re really looking for people who are journalistically minded, especially since we’re in the midst of tech, in San Francisco, startup capital, and we’re really trying to foster integrity here.
L: The first day when we talked about how we were going to run media at Matter, and you suggested doing it like a newsroom, I had a feeling we had similar mindsets.
S: Yeah, now we just have to do it.
L: I think both of our journeys really reflect the Drunken Walk, we both had experience in a few different fields, we were at a place where we weren’t sure which step to take next, we both stumbled into Matter and are seeing where it takes us.
S: Yeah, that’s another thing that was unexpected for me — I was like, oh, I’m going to learn a lot more about what it takes to be an entrepreneur than I ever would have thought!
L: I aspire to one day have the hustle of Matter entrepreneurs.
S: I know. I dipped my toe into freelancing and even that could be disheartening — the Trough of Sorrow is a real thing — but being here I know I’ll be better prepared for anything I put my mind to.
L: And if you can work with really great people while doing that, that’s an added bonus.
S: That’s something I knew I was looking for! It’s really important for me to work with a team of people who know how to bring a community together and how important it is to create a warm, welcoming environment. I like that we challenge what we think we know every step of the way so that we can continue to be more and more inclusive.
L: So is it safe to say that your excitement outweighs your hesitation?
S: Hm. Let me think about it. Yes!
L: Same here, by a long shot.
Before we get back to work, I would like to learn one fun fact about you that I don’t know yet.
S: I don’t really like potatoes. Everyone always thinks that’s weird. I don’t get what all the fuss is about. What about you?
L: I don’t feel strongly one way or the other about potatoes, unless you’re including sweet potatoes in that group. In which case, yes, I think you’re weird for not liking them. But I won’t hold it against you so long as you promise not to tell anyone that I don’t watch Game of Thrones and I don’t plan to start.
S: Deal. (For the record, I do like sweet potatoes.)