This year in How I Work, we interviewed academics, comedians, politicians, activists, reporters, entrepreneurs, engineers, executives, authors, and artists, learning about their careers and their work habits. These are our favourites.
Around me is exploration and technology memorabilia, from my still-working Apple ][ to the seat from the Soyuz I rode to space in.
I don’t do pre-interviews very often because if someone has already talked to me, they may think they don’t need to go into all the details because they’d be repeating themselves.
I pretty much just need a screen and a keyboard. I worked on Wall Street in the days when using a mouse was a sign of weakness.
I work from home when I’m not on the road. My cats aren’t great at water-cooler talk.
Over the years I’ve accumulated a ton of guitar pedals. I find it’s a very fun (and tactile) way to manipulate sound.
One time we ran an article that was “Fun Date Night Ideas You’ll Never Experience Because You Date Band Dudes.” This band came to town and we were booking their concert, and they were pissed. They were flipping our live events guy off, they were being very standoffish, and eventually one of us had to go “Guys, what’s going on, why are you being dicks?” They said “Well that article just came out, and our girlfriends all shared it in their group chat right before we went on tour. And they’re all pissed at us now.”
I use folders and clipboards to keep my projects separate, file folders for financial and personal matters and stacks of colouring books—including one unauthorised one of Drake.
When you’re acting and producing and writing, it’s very stressful, but it was combated by this ludicrous sense of being high. Which is probably what motherhood is like—I haven’t had kids!—but I think it’s that sense of sleeplessness that has a lot of wonder attached to it. Your body and your brain are like, “We’re going to keep doing this, this is important, I’m going to give you reasons to feel euphoria as well as incredible fatigue!”
I own my own table tennis club, the Westchester Table Tennis Centre, where I play every day after work. Table tennis serves a purpose for me that crosswords do for others: When I play a match, I focus completely on the game and forget everything else in the world.
When I’m reporting in the field, I keep the public informed during big storms and weather events, sharing each update as a play by play, sort of like a sports broadcaster sharing updates during a baseball game.
I am absolutely and completely paranoid about not having drinks on the same surface as my computer. Last winter I was writing at my coffeeshop and somebody knocked her entire iced coffee into my computer. Fried it completely. Apparently even if you can dry it out, the acid in coffee just corrodes everything.
Estonia at the time was flat broke, absolutely broke. I drove myself to the embassy, we had a 10-year-old Mercedes ambassadorial limo. Sometimes I’d go to receptions and the valet would say “Where’s the ambassador?” and I’d say “I am the ambassador!”
When I have to work on something that’ll need a lot of processing or rendering time, I do it on a cheap desk in my living room that is dressed up to look like it’s built entirely out of cardboard.
BMG Records was one of the big players at the time, and their office was right at Times Square, overlooking the square. They asked for questions. So I asked, what are you guys doing about Napster? He said what’s Napster?
That’s it for this year! Come back in January for more interviews with famously productive people.