Why did you choose to major in philosophy?
I was a triple major at NIU, and graduated with two degrees. The first was politics, the second was journalism. They sort of hinted at what my future life would look like. And truth be told, they were super easy majors. I racked up easy A after easy A.
But then I took an Intro to Philosophy class and was intrigued. An animal ethics class and I became vegetarian (and still am today). A philosophy of religion class, and I was hooked. These weren't easy classes. My only non-A classes in all my undergrad years were probably philosophy courses and what little math I was required to take. But I kept taking those philosophy courses because they challenged me, and because unlike most other classes, I wasn't taught WHAT to think, but HOW to think.
How did NIU Philosophy help prepare you for what you’re doing now?
To this day, whether I'm writing about something, or whether I'm starting a company (I'm now working on number three), I have the ability to step outside of conventional thinking to examine an issue from new angles. Philosophy taught me to avoid rigidity, to be open to alternate viewpoints and interpretations.
What do you feel is special about NIU Philosophy?
When I got to NIU, I was coming off a three-year stint in the Army, so was more mature, with a richer life experience than most freshmen. So I coasted in class, putting in minimal effort, and scoring those easy As. Then I took a philosophy class, and after I turned in my first paper the professor called me into office hours. I expected to be praised for my awesomeness. Instead, the professor proceeded to spend 20 minutes talking about how embarrassingly bad my paper was. I was mortified!
That experience shook me to my core, and I worked my ass off the rest of that class, and the rest of my time at NIU, and through law school, and through all of my subsequent accomplishments. And I no longer try to coast though anything because if I feel myself slacking off, I remind myself of that horrible day in that professor's office, and I never want to be in that position again.
So NIU philosophy also taught me to work my ass off, because if something is worth doing, it's worth doing right.
Founder and Publisher of Daily Kos
Co-Founder of Vox Media
Daily Kos is the largest political online community in the United States, currently averaging about 13 million unique visitors per month. The Vox Media network is a global top-50 web property, currently averaging about 110 million monthly unique visitors.
J.D., Boston University, 1999
B.A., philosophy/journalism/political science, Northern Illinois University, 1996