Ashley Boncimino – Always Improving

This week we sat down with Ashley Boncimino – a journalist for the Upstate Business Journal (http://upstatebusinessjournal.com/) who spends most of her days interviewing local business leaders throughout the Upstate. We turned the tables on her and she was the one answering our questions this time.

Ashley’s upbringing makes her no stranger to meeting new people and exploring new places. She has lived in cities like Houston, San Diego, Chicago, and even Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for several years. She holds a degree from Northwestern University in Chicago and currently calls Greenville her home.

When Ashley isn’t reporting on the latest business news in Upstate South Carolina, you can usually find her on the Ultimate Frisbee field with her team. If not there, she might be climbing, biking, or running a trail with her dog (a lab mix – “she’s got so much energy!”)

And for those of you that know nothing about Ultimate Frisbee it’s basically soccer and basketball combined – but with a disc. It’s a non-contact sport but there is occasionally contact 😉

What keeps you up at night?

I think a lot about the future of my industry and my place in that industry. And how I am able to carve out a niche for myself and continue learning at the same time. I think it’s very important to have people in your life that constantly teach you things, and I’m always looking for someone who can be that next person. So I seek out mentors a lot.

What gets you up every morning?

My dog probably gets me up every morning – she runs up onto my bed and tries to get me to feed her, so that literally gets me up every morning.

On a more figurative level, I try to start my day off with a lot of coffee meetings because I love talking to people and figuring out what they are passionate about and what they are doing with their lives. I try to schedule those meetings for mornings so I have a reason to come here [Coffee Underground] or for example, the other day I went to Stax Omega.

I think people are a little less guarded in the morning and a lot less stressed than in the middle of the day. So if you can talk to them in the morning they are usually a little more open about what they actually do and what they are working towards.

So that’s probably what get’s me out of bed in the morning – knowing that I get to talk to people.

Why do you do what you do?

Because it’s the only thing that lets me constantly learn right now. I think if I found another job that lets me do that – whether it’s an analyst or anything else… if I can find something else that lets me talk to people and discover what they are passionate about, then I think I would do that. I mean, you guys get to learn all the time – about logistics, manufacturing, marketing, etc. And if you’re not learning then what are you doing?

Where do you see journalism in ten years?

It all depends on the business model that traditional news sources are able to get into. There was this fantastic article by the New York Times – someone from Buzzfeed incidentally leaked it, it wasn’t supposed to get out. The story was all about how the New York Times has a strong tradition of great journalism but they haven’t been able to latch onto the online platform as well as they should have. So the idea is repurposing stories – continue to do the great journalism the New York Times does, but packaging it in a way that people actually want to read it. Buzzfeed does a fantastic job of packaging stories so that once you click on them you really didn’t need to waste 30 seconds reading to be quite honest. So it’s one of those things where the packaging and getting people the content they want but tricking them into clicking on it and giving them the content they really need.

In ten years I think we are going to have a lot more corporate or branded content that masquerades as journalism. You see a lot of large corporations doing this for example. They’ve got phenomenal news rooms, a lot of their content could actually run in magazines or newspapers because they’ve got access to the people and data to write those stories. Stories like this they’re never gonna trust to journalism, you know, how a traditional journalism agency would write them because they don’t want it to be spun in the wrong way. They want to keep it controlled, even though it might be spun the right way.

That’s what I see, and it depends on the reader. I’m not going to trust something if it’s from a corporation as opposed to coming from let’s say, the Wall Street Journal. However, I am a more sophisticated user so I think you can’t say it’s good or bad. I think you need to look at it from the question: “Is it helping people make better decisions about their lives?” Because if it’s biased, it might not be true.

If someone came to you as a mentor, what advice would you have for them?

I think if something is important to someone you will make time for it. You can tell a lot about a person based on what they make time for. That includes hobbies, free time, everything. If it’s important enough you will make time for it regardless. I know this is terrible to say, but I think that if you say you’re passionate about something and you don’t do anything about it then you’re kind of a hypocrite.

Also, if you’re not learning then you’re wasting your time. This is something that I struggle with on a daily basis. I feel like you should be constantly improving.

And constantly seek out people that can teach you things that you know nothing about. It sounds super “pie-in-the-sky”, but I believe it.