The web these days seems to be awash in “service journalism.” Wikipedia defines service journalism as “generally consumer-oriented features and advice, ranging from the serious to the frivolous.” Per Tim Herrera at Nieman Lab at its best service journalism is “trusted guidance” with the “sole purpose of this coverage is to help people live lives that are more efficient, more productive, healthier, and smarter.”

Nor should not confuse service journalism with ‘being of service.’  Gideon Rosenblatt at the Huffington Post writes:

To be of service is to become bigger than the way we normally see ourselves. Our attention shifts. We set aside our preoccupation with ourselves and turn our focus outwards, towards others.

Being of service through a business is really no different. We expand our sense of the firm beyond the narrow interests of our shareholders and employees, and turn our gaze outwards to the many people with a stake in the impact our work has in the world.

This echoes what Steve Errey at Copyblogger wrote in his “8 laws of being of service.” In #8 he wrote:

Be of service because you want to be enthralled by the world, not because you want the world to be enthralled by you.

One blogger who seems “enthralled by the world” is Eric Barker at Barking Up the Wrong Tree. A visit to the site will give you a sense that something different is going on. There are no ads, photos…anything. You have to look hard to find a mention of Eric’s newish book Barking Up the Wrong Tree.*

The blog is filled with well-researched posts like “This is how to have a great vacation: 6 secrets backed by research.” When one of the best things we can do for ourselves is to take time away from work, Barker’s post provides you with ideas and tactics on how to maximize your experience.

I am not the only one who enjoys Barker’s work. Josh Brown, Ivanhoff, Mic, Inc. and the FT all give Barker’s book rave reviews. Eric has also appeared on some of my favorite podcasts including: The Art of Manliness, Trend Following Radio and the Good Life Project. In short, there are many ways, both free and paid, to get access to Barker’s thoughts.

In a world awash in disposable content putting together truly useful is deceptively difficult. Sometimes we succeed here at Abnormal Returns. However Barker’s hit rate on the blog and in his book is much higher and is worth your time.

*I bought a copy of Barking Up the Wrong Tree at

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