Introducing, Alan Kotok [Science Business]

The Arlington, Virginia based writer and editor Alan Kotok has made a name for himself illuminating the connections between the scientific discoveries and what this can mean for the world of business. 

Kotok has written three books including ‘The New Global Standard for Doing Business on the Internet’, started two companies, ran two marathons as well as held the position as managing editor of the careers section of Science Magazine for seven years. More recently he has retired, however still runs and writes for the Science Business blog which presents the riveting breakthroughs in the lab (see the brilliant piece on extracting contaminants from water on the Chorus+Echo homepage) to those with keen interests in the future.

Image: David Kotok, MD

What was your earliest ambition?

To be a reporter. Among my earliest memories as a kid is spreading out and reading the newspaper on the floor.

Who inspired you most in your work life thus far?

I had an mentor in college who was a grad student while I was an undergraduate. He taught me more about journalism than the rest of the university faculty combined.

Intellectually, W. Edwards Deming, who taught the Japanese about statistical process control and continuous process improvement after World War II, had an immense influence on how I do my work. Even on my blog, I try to continually improve the processes for turning out the product.

Are you politically engaged?

Yes, mainly as an observer. Living inside Washington’s Beltway makes it easy to get caught up in politics. My level of engagement, other than watching the show, consists of occasional letters to the editor and small financial contributions.

Do you make your own luck?

Yes. Whoever said, “Fortune rewards the prepared mind” knew what he or she was talking about.

It’s not what you know but who you know, or visa versa?


Rent or own?

That’s my business

What’s the most expensive thing that you own?

My reputation for integrity. There’s no getting it back if I lose it.

What inspired you to get into your current field of work?

I didn’t need much inspiration to get into journalism. All I ever wanted to be was a reporter.

Would you call yourself ambitious?

As ambitious as any retired person can be.

If you could live anywhere, where would that be?

New York City. I love visiting there. There’s an energy in New York that’s missing from most other places.

Do you believe in an afterlife?


Can you rate yourself a la Top Trumps?

I have no idea what Top Trumps are.