Where are you going, where have you been?

Journalist, writer, digital entrepreneur and epiphany seeker

My work is inquiry — I get to read, write and think almost every day, and those three words stand in place of a job title on my business card. It’s a formulation I arrived at in my early years at college, when good-hearted souls peppered me with the question of what I wanted to do with my life. If pressed, I’d say, “I’m studying the law.” A colleague of mine once described that kind of evasion as “vague enough to be true,” and thus my conscience rests easily.

Jack Beaudoin

At this particular moment in time — 2022 — I spend about half of my time as The StoryJack, developing freelance projects in journalism and content marketing based on the fundamentals of narrative theory. I’ve posted select samples of this work on the site.

I commit the other half of my work to a variety of writing projects in fiction, personal essays and feuilletons. My current reading and research interests include information theory, ontology, the roots and legacy of the Enlightenment, behavioral economics, the history of French colonization in North American, and descriptions of the self.

A more traditional account

I was born and raised, mostly, in Biddeford, Maine (43.4926° N, 70.4534° W), a predominately French-Canadian community where one was as likely to hear French as English on the streets, in the churches, and at Friday night football games. Educated at a parochial grammar school and the city’s public high school, I was only minimally prepared for the first culture shock of my life — attending a traditional New England liberal arts college. After graduating from Colby with a degree in Government and concentrations in literature and philosophy, I did graduate work at Harvard, Syracuse and Boston College (with only a Masters in English and Textual Studies to show for all those glorious years).

Next, I kicked around northern France for a year to write, cycle and get married (not necessarily in that order). My wife and I then returned to Biddeford to start a family and our respective careers. I contributed a couple of feuilletons to the venerable Maine Times before picking up a beat reporter’s job at the Journal Tribune. Over the next dozen years, I traded newspapers, switched beats (local politics, the environment, crime, business, features and the Maine Legislature) and climbed the journalist’s ladder to my first dream job: writing editorials and op-ed columns for the Portland Press Herald. On the side, I contributed to dozens of magazines, newspapers and websites, which now include Fast Company, Northern Woodlands, Habitat, Search, and React. My work was regularly recognized with state and regional awards, and I was honored to be nominated for both a Pulitzer Prize and a National Magazine Award.

Nice recognition — I hope someone remembers to mention them at my funeral — but by early 2003 I felt like I needed a fresh challenge.

That’s when I ran into an acquaintance on a small ski mountain in the western hills of Maine. Which was remarkably providential, in that it is the only time I’ve actually skied since high school.

Anyhow, Neil did what every good salesman does — he opened the conversation with “I have an idea for you.” In that moment was born MedTech Publishing Company, later rechristened MedTech Media, and then HIMSS Media. That year we launched our first healthcare trade newspaper, Healthcare IT News. Over the next decade, we added Healthcare Finance News, Healthcare Payer News, Government Health IT Magazine and MobiHealth News to the portfolio, affording me with the opportunity to serve as editorial director, chief content officer, and later CEO, of a rapidly growing media brand. During our ownership, MedTech’s newspapers, magazines and websites were consistently recognized among the nation’s best B2B publications. More importantly, it was a period of tremendous innovation and creativity, thanks to the colleagues who came to work with us. For a business founded in Maine with just four employees, MedTech ultimately achieved a cosmopolitan status, with offices, coworkers and strategic partners in Berlin, London, New York City, Washington D.C., Chicago, San Francisco, and Hue, Vietnam.

During this time, I developed a keen interest in what can charitably be called digital media and publishing. Although my job descriptions emphasized leadership and strategic direction, I couldn’t help but get down into the weeds, teaching myself rudimentary HTML, PHP, MySQL and the ins and outs of various content management systems. We were early adopters of Joomla and then Drupal, used “artisanal” hand-coding and WordPress to quickly build and deploy microsites, and entered a close partnership with a Vietnam-based development team that contributed original plugins, themes and modules. Without a playbook to follow, we launched webinars and virtual events, experimented with podcasts and video, and like a lot of other media companies, found our way into content marketing.

These days

Since exiting the company in 2014, I’ve managed to combine all three of these aspects and experiences into a boutique advisory and content creation career. Today, I work with leading tech companies — including Intel, Salesforce and Amazon — to tell their healthcare stories with compelling and engaging content. I’ve leveraged my experiences as a former CEO to help other digital media companies maximize the value of their mergers and acquisitions. And I continue to pitch and place articles in a variety of publications. If you’re interested in a consultation or engagement, please take a look at the service descriptions under the The StoryJack tab.

I’m also actively involved in the “tools for thinking” community, and am a veteran guide for the Linking Your Thinking curriculum. I’ve been developing the conceptual framework for a digital universal notebook and a new (to me) writing methodology based on nonlinear note-making and fluid frameworks introduced by Nick Milo . You can find my notes on the writing methodology in the Projects section of this site.

Meanwhile, my volunteer work in the nonprofit sector has focused on expanding information literacy, having recently served on the board of The Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, a non-profit civic news organization, and as managing editor for The Maine Review.