The Monday Media Diet with Elizabeth Selby
On Istanbul, home design, and the perfect scrambled egg
I first met Liz Selby (LS) in Abu Dhabi when she was working in marketing for Etihad. Fast forward several years and multiple continents, she’s become a good pal and an also an early supporter of WITI. Here she shares her reading habits and recent obsessions. Enjoy and have a great week. -Colin (CJN)
Tell us about yourself.
Oof. I always find this question kind of hard. Born in Jakarta, Indonesia, I’m half-American and half-Indonesian and grew up between Jakarta, Singapore, Bangkok, and the US. Your typical TCK (Third Culture Kid), really. I was convinced as a kid that moving all the time was torture but realized later in life that it was actually an honor (thank you, parents) and have since gone on to live and work in Bangkok, Chicago, San Francisco, London, Abu Dhabi, Singapore, and now Los Angeles. I love the adventure of new cities, new people, and cultures and even more so when it lends itself to my work! Moving back to the US after being gone for ten years feels a bit like coming back to a new country too!
I’ve recently taken on a newly established role as Netflix’s Global Director of Publishing Innovation. My entire career in advertising, gaming, travel, and now entertainment has been spent at the edge of whatever the “next wave” of digital was at the time. Whether it was digital marketing, programmatic, web dev, social, ad tech, VR, or editorial and publishing. If it has to do with pushing boundaries that put content and stories at the heart of an experience designed to make people feel and connect - It’s where I want to be. I LOVE TV and movies and am obsessed with the internet and culture. Will talk to anyone all day about it.
What else... When I’m not working, I live for trips to remote scuba destinations and am passionate about marine conservation. Since travel is currently not a thing, those trips have been replaced with a new wakeboarding and wake surfing obsession. So really anything on or underwater.
Describe your media diet.
As it relates to news: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post for what I like to tell myself is a balanced diet of news. I’ve been trying to limit myself to half an hour in the morning and at bedtime, as part of a digital diet plan that I am already failing at. BBC’s World Business Report is one of my favorite podcasts to start the day with. I love how they always a different angle where they go deeper than your average news update in thirty minutes. I actively avoid Twitter with the exception of checking things for work and personally don’t find it productive.
The New Yorker and Harvard Business Review were the two magazines I used to read cover to cover when I had more dedicated reading time, sitting on a plane. I have more subscriptions than I actually keep up with but these get fairly regular attention: The Atlantic, The Economist, Bon Appetit, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Architectural Digest, and Variety.
Podcasts I listen to regularly: 99% Invisible because they are right, “design is everywhere” and it is fascinating. A member of my team introduced me to the Newcomers Podcast last year. I’ve listened to most of Season One where Nicole Byer and Lauren Lapkus explore Star Wars, having never watched it before. Kind of a brilliant and really fun exploration of an incredible fandom.
Ok. And Instagram. A lot of time on Instagram. I’m in the thick of life as a first-time home buyer and find it oddly cathartic at the end of a long day to go through endless interior design and garden design feeds. Some of my favorites: Emily Henderson, Amber Lewis, Paloma Contreras, Scott Shrader, Richard Beard, Veranda Mag, Elle Decoration France and UK, Interior Design Mag, Instyle Home Turkey, Elle Decoration Turkey, My House Idea,Richard Shapiro and Jute Interiors.
What’s the last great book you read?
I just recently reread The Glass Castle: A Memoir. I guess that given the past year, my subconscious was looking for a story of resilience and so I came back to this book. The way Jeanette Walls writes is so real and so raw. She’s able to create incredible amounts of empathy in her writing style that I love. Whilst a small part of the book, there is one part where her sister describes the first time she wore glasses and what it was like to see individual leaves for the first time. And this has stuck with me since I read the book for the first time twelve years ago:
“On the way home, she kept seeing for the first time all these things that most everyone else had stopped noticing because they'd seen them every day. She read street signs and billboards aloud. She pointed out starlings perched on the telephone wires. We went into a bank and she stared up at the vaulted ceiling and described the octagonal patterns. At home, Lori insisted that I try on her glasses. They would blur my vision as much as they corrected hers, she said, so I'd be able to see things as she always had. I put on the glasses, and the world dissolved into fuzzy, blotchy shapes. I took a few steps and banged my shin on the coffee table, and then I realized why Lori didn't like to go exploring as much as Brian and I did.”
What are you reading now?
I just downloaded and started reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I guess there is a definitive theme of personal stories and overcoming hardship that is appealing to me at the moment. I can’t comment much on it so far other than that similar to Jeanette, I love the humor and the authenticity she brings.
What’s your reading strategy when you pick up a print copy of your favorite publication?
Depends on the pub. Usually have a favorite section I dive straight into and then work forward or backward from there.
What is the best non-famous app you love on your phone?
Flight Radar 24. Unless you’re an aviation enthusiast or in the travel industry, I don’t think many people know this app. There is just something kind of insane about being able to hold your phone up to the sky (when there used to be a lot more air traffic) to track a plane (how fast it is going, how high it is, its altitude, everything!) or look at the hundreds of flight paths through the sky and wonder how on earth that system works.
Plane or train?
What is one place everyone should visit?
Istanbul. It is such a magical city. Have been more than ten times and it does not get old. Also, I know it can get old to hear “East meets West” as a description - but it really is. The Bosphorus river literally divides Asia and Europe as a major waterway and the view and sites along it are incredible. You can spend days exploring palaces and castle fortresses, from the Ottoman and Byzantine empires. And if you love textiles, tiles, designs, and colors - you will get ALL the design inspiration one could want for days from the historical sites and the markets. And last but not least the food is incredible and there are beautiful rooftop bars to enjoy their amazing sunsets.
Tell us the story of a rabbit hole you fell deep into.
Scrambled eggs. I am constantly on a mission to improve my technique for the creamiest, most delicious scrambled eggs. Have gone down a rabbit hole on YouTube, food blogs, Instagram, every food site ever. I think scrambled eggs are potentially the most underrated and misunderstood way to cook eggs with the highest potential. Here is one of my favorite recipes and also little mini experiments I’ve come across to create the perfect Creamy French Scrambled Eggs.
Thanks for reading,
Noah (NRB) & Colin (CJN) & Liz (LS)
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What a great article, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The opening paragraph of "The Glass Castle" is what has stuck with me forever. Happy to see you so happy!