A little wisdom and stuff

Toby Shapshak. Photo: conferences.ted.com
Toby Shapshak. Photo: conferences.ted.com

I knew Toby Shapshak was awesome when he said he might not make it to our guest lecture because he would be “fucking dead” after having to walk up ten flights of stairs to our department.

He was our guest speaker last week, tasked with teaching us a thing or two about technology feature writing. As the editor of Stuff  magazine, he was the perfect man for the job.

Toby mostly weaved in-between technology talk and general journalism talk. A lot of what he had to say has been replaying in my mind over the week.  So I figured it would be a good idea to jot some of his most memorable quotes down.

Toby’s pearls of wisdom

  • On agenda’s and agenda setting: “Everyone’s got bullshit filters”
  • On dodge politicians: “If you lie, cheat or steal – you will get caught. It’s just a matter of when”
  • On life: “You get to a point in life where you deserve aircon, power steering and electric windows” :’D
  • On readers/audience: “Never underestimate the stupidity of your reader”
  • On being a journalist: “It’s like a calling, you don’t do it for the money,” he went on to stress that we do what we do because we are compelled to; “The great thing about being a journalist is that you don’t have to be an expert, you can just call one”.
  • On practicing writing: “You must practice, practice, practice. In the East repetition leads to enlightenment”.
  • On people as “brands”: “I hate that so much. Just be good at your job” 
  • On magazine covers: “I would drop that [white] woman in a heartbeat if I could”