Ted Brown, Codeword
💭 Thoughts on bolstering community with deliberate acts of connection, Aimé Leon Dore, and being at ease and peace with things generally.
Thought Enthusiast is an AdHoc Project where we chat with fascinating thought leaders across various facets of music, tech, and culture whose work we admire, simply asking “what’s on your mind?” and “why do you care?” 💭
Ted/Teddy/T.M. Brown is a writer based in Brooklyn. He works on both sides of the commercial and editorial divide, leading content projects for brands like Spotify, Figma, and Visa, while writing for the New York Times, Rolling Stone, and The New Yorker website. For the first five years of his career, Ted was a city planner and he will gladly tell you about what's wrong with modern transit systems if you ask—or even if you don't.
What are you currently working on that you're excited about?
Few different freelance pieces (NYT + New Yorker); running a creative team at Codeword.
💌 Bolstering community with deliberate acts of connection
Something I've been doing a lot more of in the last year or so is hitting up people I admire or respect and just... telling them that. I grew up moving every couple years so I don't have much in the way of a permanent community. That's combined with the fact that I had a total career change at the age when most people are settling into their professional community. I didn't come up with other writers so I lack that gallery of peers I can look to for inspiration or solace or competitive spirit, so I've just made a more deliberate effort to create it for myself. And to my surprise, most people are absolutely wonderful. I've struck up genuinely sweet email correspondences with incredible writers and creative folks, and some of those have become real-life friendships. Anyway, I'm advocating for sending that email. The atomization of community is a real thing, so it needs to be countered by deliberate acts of connections.
🎶 “Isn’t It a Pity”
Nina Simone's cover of George Harrison's "Isn't It a Pity" has been stuck in my head since I first heard it in Ari Aster's Beau is Afraid.
"We don't know enough to worry" is an important one. Also—and I *hate* productivity books—I read Oliver Burkeman's book 4000 Weeks recently and it did a bit of rewiring for me around the concept of time. I'm someone who feels an immense amount of guilt over not spending time wisely, but Burkeman argues that the conceit that time is ours to spend is flawed. We have very little control over anything, and the more we think about the competing utility of different options, the more we engage in a losing game. It's about being at ease and peace with things generally, and it's been a really liberating philosophy to engage with.
✍️ Nitsuh Abebe
I have a lot of mentors in my life, but I'll talk about two people, one of whom I have a personal relationship with and one who I've DM'd with, like, once. Nitsuh Abebe is an editor at the NYT Magazine and a writer I've admired for a long time. We emailed a little bit maybe 5 years ago when I pitched him on a story that he eventually passed on, and we got in touch again earlier this year when a friend suggested I pitch him something. We haven't officially gotten to work together yet, but Nitsuh has made me a better writer and thinker in just our correspondence. I so deeply appreciate his curiosity and *also* his self-awareness that his curiosity may just be an open ended question and not seeking some sort of dogma.
📰 Newsletters as a means to consume content
[My] favorite way to consume content these days would be newsletters––even though there are times when it feels like a bunch of narrow garden paths tracing lines through culture.
👀 All eyes on…
Aimé Leon Dore as they try to figure out what comes after a massive influx of cash and extreme popularity that was built on a very specific and contemporary aesthetic and feel.
Follow Ted on LinkedIn.