Blake Snow

content advisor, recognized journalist, bodacious writer-for-hire

Hi, I'm Blake.

I run this joint. Don’t know where to start? Let me show you around:

As seen on CNN, NBC, ABC, Fox, Wired, Yahoo!, BusinessWeek, Wall Street Journal

Ignorant teenage vandals deface wilderness sign but the good still outnumber the bad

Photo credit: Blake Snow

My family and I encountered the pictured sign recently while biking our river trail. Immediately the older children collectively remarked, “That’s sad.” My wife and I agreed. So we went home, grabbed some spray paint, and returned to censure the offending message and alert the authorities to replace the defaced sign.

By the looks of the handwriting, the up-to-no-gooders were probably teenagers and likely less-educated. Young minds exploring anti-social behavior rather than full-blown racists. Nevertheless, the words still stung. But I was proud of my children’s response. Not anger. Not over-reaction. Just concern and an immediate quest to right the wrong.  Continue reading…

The best children’s books, according to my nine year-old daughter

The book reviewer at Green River Overlook in Canyonlands

In addition to books for young and adult readers, my family buys a lot of picture books. We have three shelves packed tight with them and three overflow stacks spread across the rest of the house.

For years I’ve wanted to catalog my favorites but never got around to it. So this spring, I hired my nine year-old daughter to do it for me.

After reviewing well over 100 children’ books, these were her favorites rated 4.5 out of 5 stars or better:  Continue reading…

Published works: New tech, great outdoors, why we overlook Puerto Rico

Courtesy Puerto Rico tourism

Excluding non-bylined stories written for commercial clients (i.e. the bulk of my work these days), here’s what I published last month:

What 12 years of content marketing have taught me

The following was updated and adopted from a hired-speech I gave to a group of 50 portfolio CEOs and senior partners in June 2015 at the headquarters of NEA, the world’s largest venture capital firm.

Since 2005, I’ve written for half of the top 20 U.S. media publications and dozens of Fortune 100 companies as a featured contributor, branded storyteller, and retained content advisor. In that time, this is what I know for sure: marketing is the way you let people know you exist. Content marketing is the ongoing explanation for why they should care.

As a discipline, content marketing (or brand journalism, executive editorial, and thought leadership) is important, because it allows companies to persuade highly-informed buyers in an increasingly noisy world. Not only is it the fastest growing marketing strategy in recent years, it’s also the most effective for supplying search demand, engaging target audiences, enabling messaging, and satisfying the buyer’s need to read and inform themselves before making a purchase.

What surprises people most that engage me? Here are the top five:  Continue reading…

Why your second act should be designed by an adult instead of a teenager

Courtesy Universal Pictures

Best-selling author Marshall Karp used to work in advertising. But then he realized he didn’t like what he was doing because the original architect was a lousy planner.

“This rut that you’re stuck in, this life that you’re trapped in, who planned it?” he writes on Quora. “Not you. Most of us form our life’s plans shortly after high school. I was pushing 40 and still living the dream of some teenage kid.”

So he decided to switch careers and become a screenwriter and author. “My Act Two was conceived, written, produced, and directed by an adult. And I’m grateful for the insight that convinced him to take on the job.”

Sage advice.

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Where is America on the gender equality scale?

My wife and I were discussing gender equality over lunch today. On a scale of 1–10 (one being female dominate and 10 being male dominate), we both agreed that America today is probably around a 6.5/10 in favor of men.

That might vary a half point in either direction depending on what part of the country you live in. But overall I think that’s a fair assessment.

What will it take to get to an equal five? Two big things: equal pay for the same job and greater access to leadership roles. I’d also add being able to walk alone a night without fear of being assaulted, but my wife said that’s a tricky one. After all, how much of that perceived inequality is unfounded fear versus actual threat?

Either way, I’d say things are looking up for my daughters, wife, sisters, and mother and hope to be at or around a five within 10–20 years. What do you think?

Is excitement for electric cars “optimism bias”?

Courtesy Tesla

Before I write another word, let the record show that I admire, appreciate, and even covet Tesla cars. Their instant torque, modern styling, simple engines, and overall innovation are a thing of beauty.

But there’s a fundamental problem with electric vehicles today: they’re all powered by dirty energy and heavily subsidized by government incentives, argues Berkeley physicist Richard Muller. “There is little to no environmental benefit, since in most of the world the electricity is derived from coal,” he writes. In fact, “an electric car in China produces more CO2 than does a gasoline car.”

Even in states such as California, where only 25% of their energy is renewable, we’re still along ways from sustainably clean cars. Obviously, we’ve made progress and don’t want to throw out the baby with the bath water. But Muller brings up a good point: Is 100 mpg gas mileage from combustable engines (which we’re approaching) more environmentally friendly than a 250 mpg coal-based electric vehicle?

For the time being, Muller argues no. “Prices of batteries have come down, but not nearly enough to negate the high cost of owning such a car.”

All of that could change, of course, with breakthrough gains in battery storage or clean energy. But for now, we’re still in the “Kickstarter” phase of electric vehicles. Exiting but not fail-proof.

Published works: The future of TV, film tourism, first time in Hawaii, Trump’s #1 hotel

Excluding non-bylined stories for my commercial clients, this is what I published last month:

Thanks for reading.

5 reasons sad stories are good for you

Courtesy Amazon Studios

My wife and I recently watched Manchester by the Sea. It’s a beautifully-acted but heart-wrenching story about a Boston man (played by Casey Affleck) that is left utterly devastated and largely alone after a careless act and some horrifying bad luck. In fact, it’s one of the saddest movies I’ve seen in years.

Although I appreciated the film, I forgot the importance of tragedy while exiting the theater. “For someone who is living in a comedy, is there any value in being reminded that life sucks sometimes?” I asked myself. “Is there any harm in solely watching movies with happy endings?”

With the help of the internet, this is what I learned:  Continue reading…

Is it ethical to have children amid global warming threats?

Photo credit: Blake Snow

I wholeheartedly agree with Cal physicist Richard Muller’s optimistic and informed answer to this question.

“Global warming does not threaten humans with extermination,” he writes. “In the history of the world, I would say now is the best time to be born. The problem of global warming is minuscule to the dangers faced by my parents when then had me (i.e. world wars, more tyrants, worse civil rights for minorities and women, more violence, poorer health, less economic wealth). We will handle global warming through mitigation and adaptation. Don’t deny your future children their opportunity to enter this wonderful world.”

I don’t think Muller, I, or any other optimists are delusional in that outlook. After all, history is on our side—humans are survivors, tinkerers, and self-improvers.

Statistically we’re collectively better off now than ever before. Read and try to refute this if you don’t believe me. There’s no looming threat suggesting others—only unfounded human fear, old age, or alarmists rooted in emotion (or self interest) rather than fact.

If you disagree with Muller, Louis Armstrong, or Viktor Frankl, you’re wrong.

Published works: Hiking Patagonia, biking Buenos Aires, and apps killing websites

Courtesy Argentina Tourism

Excluding non-bylined writings for commercial clients, here’s what I published last month:

10 things I’ve thought about recently

  1. Reading about humanity’s underbelly is hard, but its exposure is important work.
  2. PREDICTION: “On fleek” will never be as cool as rad, righteous, legit, wicked, or even “groovy.” Like “dank” did before it, it’ll fade.
  3. Bad news: Corporate spies steal $300 billion from U.S. Good news: Can’t steal ingenuity.
  4. Nice! This story helps me appreciate “good parent privilege,” less talk, and the danger of overconfidence
  5. This classy, elegant Mozart masterpiece never gets old. I still adore it two decades after first hearing it.
  6. Continue reading…

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8 people you should be extra kind to

Deal_with_it_dog_gifI was jogging last week and ran past a parked patrol car. A cop was in it.

I make it a habit to wave to everyone I encounter, so I cut the air with my hand and smiled. He waved back and flashed a big grin, as if I had just made his day—as if he rarely gets acknowledged by civilians.

Surprised by the effect it had, I started thinking of other people that might benefit from extra kindness. This is what I came up with: Continue reading…

Why some people don’t eat pork

An estimated quarter of the world’s population doesn’t eat pork—mostly for religious but also for vegetarian reasons. Why?

“Islam and Judaism both originated in a region where pigs were scavengers and rooted through garbage to survive,” explains Jeff Dege on Quora. “They were unclean in every sense in that environment.”

On the other hand, Western civilizations are more accustom to non-scavenger or otherwise domesticated pigs that aren’t as infected as the ones the Middle East grew up with.

“If I lived in the Middle East 1500–200 years ago, I wouldn’t have eaten pig, either,” concludes Dege. “But I don’t and the reasons for avoiding it then and there don’t apply here and now.”

Which explains why the other three quarters of the world happily consume pork, mostly for barbecue, bacon, sausage, and chop reasons.

On a personal note, I rank edible animal muscle as follows—beef > poultry > pork > fish—but I try to limit my intake of it to no more than 2-3 times a week in favor of produce.

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