I've never been very interested in awards.
The last one I really coveted was The Pulitzer Prize, in my mid-20s, for a series we did at The Modesto Bee, where I lived with in homeless camps for a week to highlight how far - and how little - we'd come in the 50 years since John Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath." Our paper won several other awards, was a finalist for the Pulitzer, but came up short.
Since my 20s, I haven't given it much thought. It seemed more important to accomplish things. Investigative journalism, exploring new technologies in the early 1990s called "interactive media," launching websites in the mid-90s in Modesto, running them in Sacramento and Minneapolis through the start of the 21st Century, then conducting media research and doing consulting for media companies for M.O.R.I. Research - an imprint of Magid - as Director of New Media, back when that meant something.
I won the Online Innovator Award in 2005 for my work with dozens of media companies and for the road that led there. Given by what was then the New Media Federation of Newspaper Association of America, it was considered the highest honor in digital media for the industry. Many people referred to it as a "lifetime achievement award." I was 39.
It freaked me the hell out.
Because if you're not into awards, that sends a signal that all boxes have been checked. You've done more than most, and now it's time to step aside. Here's something for the desk. It can join the other baubles you will spend your life dusting and reliving glory days.
No thank you.
In my early 30s, as the father of young girls in a city I didn't like with a corporate ladder that seemed more and more compromising - you've been there - I took a knockoff of the Erhard Seminars Training, or EST. It involved no small amount of confrontational group work. A career counselor recommended it, saying I needed to confront what really motivated me, because it sure wasn't the ladder. What I most came away with was one of their catch-phrases:
"In the end, you either have results or reasons."
I lump awards into the same bucket as reasons. I lump accomplishments with results, which are boxes that have been checked so decisively they can't be unchecked, like a cleft in a rock.
And, once checked, open your eyes to the unchecked boxes.
I've worked in local media my whole life. I've also written novels, fathered two children with my first wife and parented three more with my second. I have worked with major technology platforms and helped the diaspora of local media come together under a shared mission. I re-learned to ride a motorcycle in my 40s - which is much different than learning as a teenager. I threw a baseball 73 miles per hour in my early 20s - and then never went near a radar gun again.
I've checked boxes. Rechecking them sounds as interesting as painting the same car three times, and I last did that when I was 19.
There are so many opportunities. So many boxes left to check.
Results or reasons? Awards or accomplishments? It's a binary choice.