178: Sherrell Dorsey (The Plug)

“Quite honestly journalism is all about curiosity, at the end of the day. I think, you do this work again, we consider ourselves part of the ecosystem, and helping to tell the stories.” – Sherrell Dorsey

Welcome to Season 4 of Innovation City (The Miami Edition), a podcast featuring innovators, creators, and disruptors to discover how business is changing in the modern world.

Created and produced by SLAM! Agency and Aīre Ventures, Innovation City gives you an inside look at how rapidly business and culture are changing thanks to increasing diversity and inclusion, heightened creativity, and a stronger and better-connected business community.

Today’s guest is Sherrell Dorsey, founder and CEO of The Plug, a digital news and insights platform covering the Black innovation economy. Sherrell has also served as marketing manager for companies like Uber and Google Fiber, and has a Master’s in data journalism from Columbia University. In this episode, Sherrell sits down with the team to discuss her innovation journey, what she’s learned about the industry, what she’s most proud of, and much more! 

They discuss:

  • What inspired her innovation journey?
    • Her grandfather, who didn’t complete high school, but had an opportunity after military service to get into Boeing
  • Her superpower
    • Being able to synthesize technology for society, make it accessible
  • The Plug newsletter was founded in 2016, kind of as a hobby
    • She wrote about founders of color
    • Many of these people had created multimillion-dollar companies, but weren’t getting the recognition they deserved
    • Less noise, smart reporting
  • Some of the challenges with covering the non-traditional
    • They have to create datasets themselves
    • Combatting disparity
    • Minority representation in newsrooms is low
  • When tech journalists started to subscribe, it felt like a win
  • Asset framing vs. deficit framing
    • What Sherrell’s learned about herself and the industry
      • She recognizes there is so much she doesn’t know
      • “One percent better each day”
      • There are so many barriers against people doing great work
      • Dealing with being asked to provide data for free
        • For black and brown folks, their data and the ability to own it is valuable and significant
        • Type of data depends on the story
        • The story is in the data
  • Identifying the “trend line”
  • Sharing knowledge to share ideas
  • Data-driven (or not) issues she’s interested in and passionate about
    • Founders hyper focused on climate, clean energy and clean tech
    • How cities are investing in these
    • Infrastructure matters
    • How cities create resources to empower residents
  • What is something she’s most proud of
    • That she continued the vision
    • It would have been easy to give up
    • She’s being featured on Bloomberg Terminal and licensed by Business Insider and others 
    • Sticking with it, proud of The Plug’s wins and accomplishments
  • Get in touch
    • On social media @sherrell_dorsey, tpinsights.com (The Plug online) @tpinsights on Twitter and Instagram

Lightning Round:

What is your favorite book?

  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou

What is your perfect day?

  • Waking up, magically waffles with strawberries and eggs are available. A good yoga class. A trip to the farmers market. A walk on the beach. A massage. And then Netflix and chill with a Five Guys burger.

What was your last vacation?

  • A work-cation in Mexico City

What’s your biggest regret?

  • Not having started sooner, on a lot of things