Live Happy Magazine: Happiness Finds Its Way to Print. The Mr. Magazine™ Interview with Editor in Chief Karol DeWulf Nickell.October 28, 2013
Live Happy – Print Magazine, Website, Movement – Brand. Happiness Is Not Just An Old Adage Written On A Plaque In Your Mother’s Kitchen Anymore – It’s A Science Now And There Is Now A Magazine To Dispense Its Findings! Mr. Magazine’s™ Conversation With Editor-in-Chief Of Live Happy Magazine – Karol DeWulf Nickell.
It’s a given that we want to “Live Happy.” On that, I think we can all agree. Now there’s a magazine out there that is going to help us scientifically learn how to do it and show us data that not only backs up the old adage Mom used to wish for us, but proves that the endless quest isn’t as incessant as we might believe.
From her experience at Better Homes and Gardens, Fresh Homes and the home and gardening group at Reader’s Digest, Karol DeWulf Nickell is now learning to “Live Happy” as Editor-in-Chief of the magazine by the same name. She talks with Mr. Magazine™ about the print magazine, website and the Live Happy Movement.
But first, the sound-bites:
On why Live Happy Magazine is not just a print title but a brand as well:
It’s very difficult to launch a traditional magazine with only two streams of revenue, circulation and advertising. So this magazine is not just a magazine, it is a whole brand.
On the role of the print magazine within the Live Happy brand:
The role of the magazine is obviously to be the first thing a customer sees.
On the value that Live Happy Magazine provides consumers:
So it’s the science of happiness that is new and what has not happened up to this point is there’s been no translator of that science to the general public.
On how Live Happy Magazine standing out in a crowded, mature marketplace:
If you look at our cover, you’ll see immediately that it stands out. We have snapshots of newsstands all across the country already and we are placed very well beside either lifestyle magazines, health magazines or food magazines. And we stand out.
On the versatility of Live Happy Magazine:
I think that this (concept) translates very well to digital, to web, to social media and apparel. So think it’s very translatable. I think print, in our case, is a lead vehicle, it’s going to be an essential vehicle, but it is one within a group.
On the important of science within Live Happy Magazine:
When you look at the magazine and you look at the number of science articles in the first issue, our first issue has 70 percent science and 30 percent lifestyle. We did that deliberately because we think that a lot people won’t have known about positive psychology.
On potential stumbling blocks for Live Happy Magazine:
I think Live Happy is going to have to very quickly explain itself. We are not a magazine of just feel good stories. This is real data. This is real science. We have to be able to explain it real quickly and to get our message out.
On what keeps Karol Nickell up at night:
Well, I am building a magazine at the same time I’m building a staff so I think that those two very, very essential responsibilities are keeping me up at night.
And now the lightly edited transcript of Mr. Magazine’s™ conversation with Live Happy Editor-in-Chief, Karol DeWulf Nickell.
Samir Husni: Launching a new magazine in this “connected digital age” about happiness; the first thing that people will ask, is are you out of your mind or are you happy to do it?
Karol Nickell: It’s very difficult to launch a traditional-model magazine with only two streams of revenue: circulation and advertising. So this magazine is not just a magazine, it is a whole brand. We have a live website which is part of the launch. But we also have a happiness movement and this movement will in time also provide different customers and different avenues of revenue to be a part of the brand. That kind of multifaceted magazine base is important; the magazine driven brand today is different than the old model.
SH: What role does the printed magazine in this model play?
KN: The most important thing is that it’s a fresh face out there. So we launched this week as you now. We printed 500,000. You’ll see us all across the country. It is truly a country-wide launch.
We will be doing what you consider to be a monthly rollout again in 2014, so this is a soft launch and then we’ll have monthly circulation starting in 2014.
The role of the magazine is obviously to be the first thing a customer sees. And she and he are people who care about other people, who like to live happy. So that kind of describes a lot of us. So we think the audience is large, we think that’s it’s international, we think it’s non-generational and we think that it’s very much a positive statement in a world where some negativity can cause stress and cause life to be less than happy.
SH: With your experience at Better Homes and Gardens, Fresh Homes, the home and gardening group at Reader’s Digest and with all these magazines, there are a lot of competitive titles in the marketplace. Why do you think no one has come up with a Live Happy Magazine before with the need for happiness that we have since we live in a much more stressful world?
KN: That is the question I asked myself when I was asked to consider this role. The beautiful thing that’s happening here is, people wanting to live happy is not a new deal. Your parents wanted to live happy and they wanted you to live happy. Their parents wanted to live happy — it’s not a new deal.
However, what is new is that positive psychology has come into the idea of positive emotion, positive thinking and now that has provided us with new data and how the body, both mind and physicalness, can come together and help people understand what’s going on when you have a happy moment and what’s going on when you feel stressed.
So it’s the science of happiness that is new and what has not happened up to this point is there’s been no translator of that science to the general public. People who are in positive psychology and the other related scientists are well versed in this. It has been 20-some years since Martin Seligman sat on the stage and said, “We really need to think positively versus negatively as psychologists.”
However, that bubble is still a bubble and so now with the magazine and a brand and a consumer positioning in the marketplace, that science is being adapted and translated to the general public.
SH: So what are some the challenges that you will face so you won’t be lost in the translation of that science of happiness?
KN: I think that is a big challenge, but it’s a challenge that anyone faces when they’re out there because we’re in a very crowded, mature marketplace.
If you look at our cover, you’ll see immediately that it stands out. We have snapshots of newsstands all across the country starting with Monday already and we are placed very well beside either lifestyle magazines, health magazines or food magazines. And we stand out. Hudson, when we talked to them about this magazine, said that anything that has happy on it really sells.
So we think the consumer poll is going to be very strong, we think we’re unique within the marketplace and we think we have a really solid product and positioning.
SH: You said you wanted the print magazine to be the first thing that the customer, your audience will see. So how important is print today?
KN: I think that print will always be important. I think that in some cases some brands need print more than other brands. In our case, it is truly just a first step. I think that this translates very well to digital, to web, to social media and apparel. So I think it’s very translatable. I think print, in our case, is a lead vehicle, it’s going to be an essential vehicle, but it is one within a group.
SH: So within this entire science of happiness, what’s been the most stressful part of creating a Live Happy Magazine or has it been one happy, smiley road so far?
KN: When you look at the magazine and you look at the number of science articles in the first issue; our first issue has 70 percent science and 30 percent lifestyle. We did that deliberately because we think that a lot people won’t have known about positive psychology.
So then we have brought the story of positive psychology in the story that starts on page 50, we actually explain how these two sciences met randomly on a beach and started a conversation. I mean this is really an incredible and unlikely story.
We really wanted people to understand that this is based in science and it’s also based in years of science. It has the founders like Martin and Michael, but it also has young stars like Barbara Fredrickson and Sonia. It is not a difficult science. People are just observing what people do and they are putting it into the matrix of research and bringing back data and that data is easy enough to understand but it is not usually in the everyday conversation. We hope to put it into the conversation of every day.
I just attended a positive education summit in the UK. Positive psychology has been applied in schools, especially in the UK and Australia. Those schools have results five years in the making that show kids actually excel when character strengths and positive emotions are laced into the curriculum. So there’s really remarkable things happening and we need to know about them.
SH: How can you apply that positive psychology to the role of the editor today? In this world, and I’m sure you are familiar with all the doom and gloom articles about journalism, editors and the role of the media; did that affect your role 10 years ago when you were the editor of Better Homes and Gardens? Is it any different now being an editor of a magazine than what it used to be?
KN: As an editor of Better Homes & Gardens, I was responsible for stories that talked about happiness and talked about positive psychology, so I was very aware of it.
However, that was not the core category. This magazine being dedicated to it cover to cover is unique. That is different for me in this role. However, I truly believe and always have the idea that you have people in your life who inspire you. You have people in your life who show resilience.
The point is, these are things that we witness, we know. Now science is backing this up and showing how that actually happens and how you have a decision to make in your own life to be resilient, to be happy and to give happiness to others. There’s a story on page 66, The Good Guys Win, it’s actually based on research and basically it showed two professors at The University of Michigan and they have actual data that shows that when you have compassion and virtue at work, that business is better on the bottom line.
These are real things, it’s not just a good thing to do, but these are real positive results of people doing the right thing. That’s a great message.
SH: How does that message impact the messenger, in this case, you?
KN: This is the way I’ve approached my own life and my own business. This is the way that I also get inspired and continue to work hard in a very hard industry. So I really feel like this is integrated. I think it’s a discovery.
For example, I have a young gentleman who’s working with us. Magazines are not his world, he’s an IT guy. I was explaining to him some of the content that was going into the magazine about three or four months ago and he kind of put his hand up to his face and said, “Stop Karol, that’s enough.” And then he said, “You know Karol, I’m glad you’re telling me this but it really doesn’t matter — content just doesn’t really matter.” I said, “OK, fine.”
I came back after three weeks of being on the road. The first issue is now out. He’s read the magazine a number of times because he manages all the files. He turned to me and said, “Karol, my life has been changed by reading this magazine. I get it.” So that to me is amazing. There’s a story for how this might indeed change someone and have a positive result.
SH: What’s the major stumbling block that’s going to face Live Happy?
KN: I think Live Happy is going to have to very quickly explain itself. We are not a magazine of just feel good stories. This is real data. This is real science. We have to be able to explain it very quickly and to get our message out.
SH: My last question to you… What keeps Karol up at night now?
KN: Well, I am building a magazine at the same time I’m building a staff so I think that those two very, very essential responsibilities are keeping me up at night, but I also know that everybody that we’ve had on this team are wonderful and dedicated and I feel very confident that after the first issue is out, the second one is going to be even better.
SH: Any last words of wisdom you want to share with the world out there about happiness or about Live Happy?
KN: I think the important thing is please take a look and please go to the website and please join the movement. The movement is really essential to the fact that happiness starts with you. This magazine is not about stars and experts; it’s about the individuals and that I think is the best message. Happiness starts with you.
SH: Thank you.