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There is no magic — you’ve got this

“It was and always will be about serving your readers and now viewers, listeners, users and continuing to do so by adapting journalism fundamentals to ever-evolving contexts and challenges.”

The Pareto principle, which is also known as the 80-20 rule, states that 80 percent of your outcomes come from 20 percent of your inputs. It’s named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who helped develop the field of microeconomics. He observed that 80 percent of land in Italy was owned by about 20 percent of the population. Another example can be how 80 percent of a company’s revenue is generated by 20 percent of its customers.

But the numbers aren’t important here: It’s about the vital few and how a small number of things you do account for the majority of the outcomes.

“Personal wellness is 80 percent behavior and 20 percent knowledge,” Rebecca Shern writes. “And here’s the secret: we already have the necessary information. Stop searching.” As someone who goes down productivity rabbit holes, I found this statement life-changing. It’s not only about seeking more knowledge, but improving our daily choices.

You could replace personal wellness with doing good journalism. We know the best practices and what the tools are. It’s about the day-to-day doing, the actions and behaviors driven by your values that become good habits that become the foundations of a sustainable business.

I started my career launching a membership model, then moved to podcasts, newsletters, and apps, with some other stops in between. That was almost a decade ago now — and if you’ve been in this longer, time can feel like a flat circle. Homepages are back again after being dead, and back again after another death. Things change, but slower than you think, and mostly cyclically.  

“True innovation isn’t just some magic carnival of invention, like a Steve Jobs keynote with a pretty toy at the end. It is a continuing process of gradual improvement and assessment that every institution and business experiences in some way,” writes David Sax in The New York Times. “Often that actually means adopting ideas and tools that already exist but make sense in a new context, or even returning to methods that worked in the past.”

It was never about putting all your eggs into one platform basket, or chasing every new thing. It was and always will be about serving your readers and now viewers, listeners, users and continuing to do so by adapting journalism fundamentals to ever-evolving contexts and challenges. That means also adapting how you reach them, whether that’s through search, social, an email, app, or ideally directly, and in whatever the best format may be. And finally, that also means constantly experimenting and diversifying your revenue streams to adapt to ever-changing market conditions.

Next year will be the year of going back to basics. Play the long game. There is no magic, only work.

Millie Tran is global growth editor at The New York Times.

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