We are each a collection of the experiences and interactions we’ve had over our lifetime. If we’re lucky and smart, we remember the important lessons and carry them into new experiences.

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I started my new job as Director of Digital Strategy at United Therapeutics about 45 days ago. The two weeks before starting, I reread The First 90 Days. I also reflected on how I’d started previous projects and jobs. I’ve written about many of them on this blog.

Yet, now fully into my new role, three specific lessons have had lasting effect. They, along with a calm disposition, are what have helped me gain the momentum needed to make progress. If you’re starting a new project or job, they may help you too.

Every day, month, year, and generation is marked by transitions. Being present means noticing them and giving them the attention they deserve. But the real key to life is to anticipate transitions and prepare for life on the other side.

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When I was a senior in high school, I worked at the local cable access station in my hometown as a board operator. After a shift of keeping programming on air, I’d go sit in the editing room to watch the editor slice grainy footage from a Sony Hi-8 camera into a local car dealership commercial.

I remember two things…

It is important to have reflections at the ready for daily rumination. Internalize them. Make them personal. Find solace in words of wisdom passed down for generations.

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Nothing is perfect.

Nothing is permanent.

Nothing is personal.

This concise wisdom was offered on a recent podcast episode of Ten Percent Happier with Bonnie Duran, a professor of public health at the University of Washington. It sums up in one reflection the thoughts expressed by generations of wise people. They make up a set of principles to remind ourselves that our expectations are often misaligned to reality.

As a strategist in client…

A trip to the local bookstore on a warm fall Sunday morning revealed a good way to improve the retail shopping experience in our digital-first era.

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On a warm fall Sunday morning, my wife and I went for coffee and a walk in downtown Davidson while my mother-in-law watched our daughter. There were at least two places we wanted to visit unencumbered by the need to keep our baby fully covered: Summit Coffee Co. and Main Street Books.

We parked the car about ¼ mile away from Main Street to give ourselves time to enjoy the weather. We bought two…

You can’t truly solve customer’s problems on your own. No matter the industry, the time spent building empathy with the people most affected by your decisions will pay dividends.

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The editor-in-chief of Our State Magazine, Elizabeth Hudson, used to tell our team that we couldn’t create a magazine for the people of North Carolina by sitting at our computers all day. She urged us to get in the car and go explore: Notice what’s most interesting about a small town, stop and talk to strangers, and take time to hear people’s stories. This is how you mine for gold as…

Today, this week, this era. There are, at least, three necessary and interconnected abilities we need individually and collectively to survive. They are as — if not more — important now than they have been for generations. While I will not unpack them in a substantive way in this one post, they’ll continue to be a source of contemplation and writing for some time to come.

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1. Literacy in Easily Obscured Areas

Distrust is ameliorated by literacy. When we understand something in a nuanced way, we are more likely to notice irregularities, false arguments, and conflations. This is especially important in two areas of our modern…

Ah, General Data Protection Regulation. Don’t those words just conjure warm feelings of bureaucracy, red tape, and legal documentation? I don’t know about you, but the first time I heard about GDPR, I had one of these moments:


This new law was proposed by the European Commission to unify and strengthen data protections for individuals living in the European Union, and address any of the data exported outside of the EU. The law goes into effect on May 25, 2018. You can dive a little deeper into the subject here (and nervously watch their countdown clock).

So what? Why should…

There are 68,700 acres of wilderness area in North Carolina. I’ve walked through about 0.015 percent of them. And all of that was in the Grand Canyon of the East — Linville Gorge.

Surrounded by dense canopy, overwhelming Catawba rhododendron, and a thick layer of humidity, we pushed ourselves along the trail. (Calling it a trail is generous, especially in the summer or early fall when the lush mountain growth overtakes what you hope is the path.)

According to the map, it was just one or two or maybe three more miles until Bull Hole — a swimming hole at…


Andy Busam is the director of digital strategy at United Therapeutics. He writes at andybusam.com.

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