The Monday Media Diet with KJ Sidberry

On manga, consumer motivations, and podcasts du jour

We got to know KJ Sidberry (KJS) from the Lean Luxe Slack group, a digital hangout for a lot of smart founders and investors. He was kind enough to share what he’s paying attention to as he settles into his new Brooklyn digs after moving back from California. -Colin (CJN)

Tell us about yourself.

I’m an investor at Forerunner Ventures, where I try to find opportunities at the intersection of commerce and culture, with a specific focus on the human condition. A huge part of my job is understanding what makes people tick - what motivates them and how they are thinking about their needs and desires. Previously, I worked in management consulting, where my job was coincidentally somewhat similar. After 6 years of living in San Francisco, I recently moved back to New York, where I was born, and currently in the midst of exploring Williamsburg. 

Describe your media diet. 

Diet is a funny way to describe this. I’d definitely say that I’m operating on a bit of a nutritional deficit at the moment. Given the current state of the world, I’ve been trying to selectively filter and curb content in a somewhat futile attempt to preserve my mental and emotional health. But, I can say that I’ve been enriched in some ways by the tectonic shifts in culture highlighted in newsletters like Lean Luxe, TheFutureParty, and a handful of others. 

Outside of written content, I used to be a bit of a podcast fiend, but that identity has been challenged by the complete elimination of a commute. Under more normal circumstances, you could usually hear bits and pieces of The Daily Zeitgeist, Hidden Brain, Planet Money, Bodega Boys, and Dissect through my AirPods. 

Also, a friend of mine recently founded a collective called Confluence and releases a weekly podcast featuring up-and-coming venture capitalists. It’s a pinch venture-specific, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed silently rooting for fellow young VCs with incredible perspectives and great ambitions for the future of culture.

Lastly, I find a great deal of poison in TikTok. The creativity and entertainment housed on the platform are amazing and oftentimes the genesis of many black holes. 

What’s the last great book you read?

Hot take but I’m candidly not much of a traditional reader. My content consumption typically comes in the form of conversation or shorter form content. That said, I have close to 15 cookbooks scattered around my apartment. Food has always played a critical role in my life. It was the means by which I communicated best with my father growing up and has always been a social outlet. So I’m satisfying my literary pursuits in cookbooks (which offer the secondary benefit of improving my ability to feed myself). Most recently, I’ve worked my way through Night + Market by Kris Yenbamroong. 

What are you reading now?

I haven’t quite started it yet but a really good friend of mine and a bit of my spiritual sherpa recently sent me David Chang’s memoir, Eat A Peach, as a housewarming gift. In the rare moments I pick up a book, I tend to get pretty engrossed, often sacrificing most things like sleeping and bathing. So with this, I’m looking forward to a good stretch of time to immerse myself in the experience.

What’s your reading strategy when you pick up a print copy of your favorite publication?

I’m the weirdo that would pick up a book, open it to a middle page, and just start reading. I recognize there is nothing to gain by doing this and at this point, it’s become something of a habit. From there, I dart from chapter to chapter in no particular order until I decide that the book is densely interesting enough to read from start to finish. 

Who should everyone be reading that they’re not?

Manga, which I realize is more of a genre of content than a specific recommendation. Since I was a kid, I’ve been a huge fan of the medium and it has recently brought me a great deal of comfort during this past year. There’s the magic that exists at the intersection of written and graphic narrative, and I suspect it’s why comics and graphic novels are also so captivating. If you’re looking to get your feet wet in the world of manga, I’d spotlight Death Note. To date, it’s been one of my favorite reads and really hits all bases in terms of artistic sophistication, character depth, and intellectual intrigue. 

What is the best non-famous app you love on your phone? 

Marine Snow. It’s an app created by a good buddy of mine that aims to surface and celebrate music and artists that wouldn’t ordinarily shine on Spotify or more popular channels. It truly indexes on culturally relevant artistry, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed discovering dope tracks from across the globe. 

Plane or train?

Plane nearly 100% of the time. I recognize that it’s the journey, not the destination and that magic is often found between points A and B, but time is truly precious and there’s something to be said for efficiency. Also, as a relatively tall man (6’3’’), travel is never truly comfortable, so I prefer to spend as little time as possible not feeling like a sardine in a can. 

What is one place everyone should visit? 

Recently, I’ve been daydreaming of getting back to Frascati, which is just a short trip away from Rome’s metropolitan center. It’s a hilltown with impeccable views and a shopkeep who understands zero English and makes her own wine in plastic liter bottles. Watching the sunset with an inappropriately sized bottle of wine (for a party of one) sounds like the dream right now. 

Tell us the story of a rabbit hole you fell deep into. 

This is very much a daily occurrence for me. I am susceptible to rabbit holes of all types: Youtube, TikTok, random factoids are all triggers for my curiosity and seemingly endless capacity for procrastination and distraction. Most recently, I spent entirely too long researching all the samples featured in Drake’s discography. (KJS)

Thanks for reading,

Noah (NRB) & Colin (CJN) & KJ (KJS)

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