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Get Out Of Your Mind & Step Into The GOOD World…Re-launching A Good Magazine – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Max Schorr, Co-Founder & Will Tacy, General Manager, Good Media…

April 7, 2015

“As we designed the magazine we weren’t thinking, OK – we need to make sure that everything in this magazine is going to work in digital just as well, because that’s not what it’s meant to do. It’s meant to work beautifully as a magazine. And everything that we do on the site is meant to work beautifully in digital. We’re not trying to make sure that we can optimize every effort so that everything is working in both media. I think by doing that, you lessen the quality of both and you don’t let either media do what it can do wonderfully.” Will Tacy

Good_COVER The “Good” movement was born 10 years ago with the ambitious dream of “pushing forward an emerging community of people committed to living like they give a damn.” This statement comes from the minds of the original founders of Good: Max Schorr, Ben Goldhirsh and Casey Caplowe. In 2012, Good shifted its focus to its social network and stopped print production.

Today Good in print has been reborn from its social pixels-only, with a new format and redesign. The mission is the same, to live well and do good, but the journal-type magazine with a quarterly frequency is a brave new attempt to get back into print with the positive gusto the brand has always stood for and believed in.

I spoke with Max Schorr (one of the original co-founders of Good) and Will Tacy (former managing editor of The New York Times.com) and now general manager of Good Media, recently about the innovative design and re-launch of the magazine. It was an informative and affirming conversation about the magazine’s mission and where the two men see the brand heading in the future. Their positivity and assurance of the need for that mission was contagious and emboldened our discussion and the re-launch with the same zeal and impactful appetite.

I hope you enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Good Co-Founder, Max Schorr and Good Media General Manager, Will Tacy, because it’s a given you’ll find it a “good” read.

Max Schorr, (right) Co-Founder GOOD and Will Tacy, Good Media General Manager.

Max Schorr, (right) Co-Founder GOOD and Will Tacy, Good Media General Manager.

But first, the sound-bites…

On why Good magazine shifted strategies and came back to print in journal form: Good never actually moved away from print. We took some time to reimagine and redesign the magazine, but there was never a time where we decided that we weren’t going to be in print. We did want to make sure that the magazine was something we felt would really resonate with the audience.

On defining the audience as a global citizen: The one thing I would say is the nature of global citizenship hasn’t really changed from what it was in 2006. It’s still rooted in this idea of people who give a damn; people who have faith that the world can be better and are willing to invest in it and make it better.

On the major stumbling block they anticipate on facing with the re-launch: I think that we have to reintroduce ourselves to the world, but I have faith that the audience that has been there for Good all along is still there and in fact, is bigger than it’s ever been. I also have faith that there is an audience that understands what we’re trying to create: something that’s not disposable and that was very intentional on our part.

On defining the magazine’s mantra of living “the good life,” to live well and do good: We see an increasing amount of people who really feel connected across the whole world and so part of it is creatively engaging the world where you are and finding what it is that brings your purpose alive.

On how Good balances digital and print: As we designed the magazine we weren’t thinking, OK – we need to make sure that everything in this magazine is going to work in digital just as well, because that’s not what it’s meant to do. It’s meant to work beautifully as a magazine. And everything that we do on the site is meant to work beautifully in digital.

On where they see Good Media a year from now: I think that in both the digital realm and in print, you’re going to see Good as an ongoing part of a cultural conversation about what it means to live well and to do good; what our shared values are; what we need to push toward; what progress means; so, Good is going to be a reference point, a sounding board and a source of inspiration for people having that conversation, and also increasingly a source of pertinent and pressing questions.

On how Good has evolved over the last 10 years: We’ve been an independent media company for 10 years and it feels like now we’re sort of ready to go into the world. Maybe we’re graduating college and we’re now armed with a lot of knowledge and really ready to stand on our own in the world, but there are definitely challenges that are ahead and we need to now bring these things that we’ve learned into the world and really thrive and make the contribution that’s possible.

On what motivates Will Tacy and gets him excited about Good: What gets me excited, this opportunity to actually give people inspiration and energy and ideas to let them move forward to unleash their creativity and inspire them. On a personal level, I think that apathy and cynicism are the two things that are going to undermine us as a society, as a people and as sort of a global tribe.

On what motivates Max Schorr and gets him excited about Good: I think what motivates me is seeing how much work remains; we have everything from the warmest temperatures on record to wars to all sorts of hatred to a lot of inequality; so there’s so many vital issues that need attention and just being able to contribute as a part of that is a great honor.

On what Max Schorr’s role is today at Good: I’m helping across the company right now and really focusing on partnerships that can help bring our brand to life and also help other organizations embody the meaning of Good and to realize their purpose and engage people in a smart way.

On anything else they’d like to add: The heritage of Good, being the first company to curate YouTube’s home page, as one of the early players that was providing high-quality media that would also be shared, is now really hitting its stride and we’re growing digitally, while back in a strong way in print, makes for an exciting time.

On what keeps Will up at night: One thing that keeps me up at night, not really in a worried way, but in a my-brain-can’t-turn-off way, is wanting to be sure that we’re executing at the highest level every day on everything. I want us to be excellent all the time.

On what keeps Max up at night: I just want to keep strengthening this business model so that we can support all the great people out there doing this work and be able to have wonderful jobs for people who want to live well and do good and realize their potential to contribute to the world.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Max Schorr and Will Tacy, Good Media…

Good-1 Samir Husni: Congratulations on the re-launch of Good. Tell me, why did you decide to come back to print and shift from the strategy of Good – the magazine, to Good – the journal?

Max Schorr: Good never actually moved away from print. We took some time to reimagine and redesign the magazine, but there was never a time where we decided that we weren’t going to be in print. We did want to make sure that the magazine was something we felt would really resonate with the audience. So, we took our time to be sure we were exactly where we wanted to be with the magazine.

In terms of the change in format and the change in design, it was really a question of what we thought the audience was hungry for. And the recognition that the magazine that was launched 10 years ago was, in many ways, perfect for that time and moment. But today, the media landscape has changed, culture has changed, and the movement that Good launched to embrace and cover has changed. Therefore the magazine needed to change and evolve along with that.

Samir Husni: I just came back from Cape Town, South Africa where I gave a presentation on: if you are still creating a magazine in the way you did before 2007, there is something wrong with that picture.

Max Schorr: (Laughs) Exactly.

Samir Husni: Then along comes Good with a very solid example of the role of the curator versus creator and how to reach an audience. And you’re now calling that audience the global citizen; can you define that audience for me and how you’re trying to reach them through the magazine?

Will Tacy: The one thing I would say is the nature of global citizenship hasn’t really changed from what it was in 2006. It’s still rooted in this idea of people who give a damn; people who have faith that the world can be better and are willing to invest in it and make it better.

One thing I would say that has changed is that sensibility and that movement has moved from being something that would look good on the fridge of common society and common conversation, to something that’s more a part of who we all are.

One of the things that we’re seeing is that global citizenship, which really means being rooted locally, but thinking globally and being global-conscious, is becoming more and more a part of how a larger and larger section of society behaves.

Samir Husni: Will, what do you envision the major stumbling block you’ll have to face with a magazine as good as Good to be, with its very hefty cover price of $14 and its quarterly frequency?

Will Tacy: I think that we have to reintroduce ourselves to the world, but I have faith that the audience that has been there for Good all along is still there and in fact, is bigger than it’s ever been. I also have faith that there is an audience that understands what we’re trying to create: something that’s not disposable and that was very intentional on our part.

A lot of magazines have moved into this realm of being truly disposable. And that’s not a great place to be. To be in a place where a magazine is bought by someone to take with them on a plane and then they leave it there when they get off. So, we wanted to build something that has lasting value that people would want to keep on their coffee table and come back to and continually think about over the course of weeks and months.

But I do think that we have to introduce that to a larger audience; we need to make sure that we’re creating something that is resonant and that people want to make that kind of investment in. And that’s not just in terms of the cover price, but also in the audience’s time. We are building a print product that’s asking people to spend time with it and not just to skim through and read one or two pieces and then set it aside.

Samir Husni: In one of the promotional cards inside the magazine, it reads: Good is from people to meet to ideas to ponder, each issue of our quarterly journal spans the globe, exploring what it means to live the good life today. Tell me in an elevator pitch how you define “good life today?”

Max Schorr: We see an increasing amount of people who really feel connected across the whole world and so part of it is creatively engaging the world where you are and finding what it is that brings your purpose alive; part of it is being present; part of it is doing work that you believe in and part of it is helping to make your community better, and the combination of people doing that locally everywhere, connected all around the world, is a really exciting proposition for us.

Samir Husni: Do you think that meets the definition of a good life?

Max Schorr: You remember our first issue, Samir; it was ___________ (blank) like you give a damn, and we’ve always liked definitions that are open-ended. We don’t try to prescribe to people that there’s one answer for the good life, but we think when people have their own questions come alive in a very real way and they find out how they can contribute locally in their own lives that begins to tell a really great story.

You asked about global citizenship; we actually brought back a Thomas Paine quote from the first issue; my country is the world and my religion is to do good, and that sort of speaks to this idea of a global citizen.

We intentionally used the term “the good life” because part of what we want to do is push against the assumed definition of it; that the good life is a life lived for the common good as much as it is for the personal good and that there’s not a conflict there. There’s not a conflict between doing good and living a good life, in fact, they’re connected; they’re necessary to one another. Just as we say we firmly believe that there’s not a conflict between pragmatism and optimism; the solutions are born from the combination of those two things. We’re intentionally using that term to say it’s time to think more deeply about it and redefine it for our new time.

Samir Husni: Will, you were the managing editor of The New York Times.com and now you’re the general manager for Good Media. Where do you see a balance between, what I call, the seductive, beautiful mistress called “digital” and the old man called “ink on paper?” Since you have been and still are in both worlds; how can you balance digital and print?

Will Tacy: It’s funny, because I never saw a conflict between the two. I’ve always felt that they serve very different purposes; very valuable purposes, but different. And one of the things that I think, in particular a lot of magazines have stumbled on, is trying to figure out how you do the same thing in both, rather than simply embracing the two different media for what they’re wonderful at.

And some of that means that things we used to think were really the province of print, particularly newsweeklies, don’t really work anymore. They’re more effective in digital. And print has a very different purpose. The same audience is going to be incredibly psyched and excited about what you’re producing in print and in digital. As long as you’re meeting them where they are and where they want to be in each of those two media.

For instance, as we designed the magazine we weren’t thinking, OK – we need to make sure that everything in this magazine is going to work in digital just as well, because that’s not what it’s meant to do. It’s meant to work beautifully as a magazine. And everything that we do on the site is meant to work beautifully in digital. We’re not trying to make sure that we can optimize every effort so that everything is working in both media. I think by doing that, you lessen the quality of both and you don’t let either media do what it can do wonderfully.

Samir Husni: Put your futuristic cap on for a minute and tell me where you see Good a year from now.

Will Tacy: I think that in both the digital realm and in print, you’re going to see Good as an ongoing part of a cultural conversation about what it means to live well and to do good; what our shared values are; what we need to push toward; what progress means; so, Good is going to be a reference point, a sounding board and a source of inspiration for people having that conversation, and also increasingly a source of pertinent and pressing questions. Part of what we’re going to increasingly embrace is the idea that as this movement has matured and as it has moved farther and farther into the mainstream, part of our role is to ask the movement tough questions about itself and about ourselves.

I think you’ll see a much larger digital footprint; we’ve already seen our digital audience grow at an almost exponential rate over the last several months. You’ll see Good as a source of more and more content in pure digital streams, social streams and otherwise. And you’ll see Good as a voice in the national and global issues and values conversation.

You’re not going to see us playing in the breaking news game, that’s not somewhere that I think we can add value. You’re not going to see us playing in the “Gotcha’” media game and you’re not going to see us playing in the celebrity media game, but you will absolutely see Good as a contributor to a national conversation about what we all should value and where we all should be pushing.

Samir Husni: Max, this question is for you since you were there 10 years ago when this baby was born, and in the life of a magazine 10 years is an incredible lifespan; where do you see Good now from that infant that was born with a lot of fanfare 10 years ago?

Max Schorr: That’s a great question. We’ve been an independent media company for 10 years and it feels like now we’re sort of ready to go into the world. Maybe we’re graduating college and we’re now armed with a lot of knowledge and really ready to stand on our own in the world, but there are definitely challenges that are ahead and we need to now bring these things that we’ve learned into the world and really thrive and make the contribution that’s possible. The ideals from when we started are alive and well and they’re really what bring us all together as a cohesive team. So, we’re mature, but still hopeful and vibrant.

Samir Husni: I’m talking with two out of the three parents of Good: Will and Max.

Will Tacy: I would say that Max is definitely a parent, but I’m maybe a recently-discovered uncle. (Laughs)

Max Schorr: A wonderful uncle. (Laughs too)

Samir Husni: What happened to Ben (Ben Goldhirsh – one of the original founders)?

Max Schorr: Ben is still very much in the mix. He is currently recharging his batteries in Costa Rica; he visited us a couple of weeks ago and he’s coming through again in couple of weeks. He’s been such a huge part of this entire effort; he’s just recharging now because we’ve all put in a lot of work over the last decade.

Samir Husni: My question to you Will is; what makes you click and tick? What makes you get out of bed in the mornings and say, wow, I’m going to do some good today? No pun intended.

Will Tacy: (Laughs) No, actually, that’s the perfect way of saying it. I really do believe that fundamentally media has a critical role to play in providing people ways to think about our ability to move the world forward and ideas and models to inspire us.

And I think Good has such a wonderful opportunity to be that voice, that rallying, questioning, thoughtful, challenging voice that’s so necessary to begin to connect this larger and larger tribe and to be a sort of antidote to cynicism and apathy.

And that’s what gets me excited, this opportunity to actually give people inspiration and energy and ideas to let them move forward to unleash their creativity and inspire them. On a personal level, I think that apathy and cynicism are the two things that are going to undermine us as a society, as a people and as sort of a global tribe. And the opportunity to everyday try and kick down that door is just wonderful and inspiring.

Professionally, I’ve always loved being in places where you’re inventing and you’re constantly embracing the idea that there are new things we can do in media, there are new opportunities and that the audience is brilliant, hungry and thoughtful. And our job every day is to try and meet them where they are. There are no established rules that can never change and we can always think of ways to do this job better and more thoughtfully.

And to be at Good, where that’s not just accepted, but expected, and where there’s a hunger to continuously improve and to be thoughtful and forward-thinking, is just wonderful. And that’s what excites me every day.

Samir Husni: And Max, I’ll ask you the same question that I asked Will; what makes you get out of bed in the mornings and motivates you to say it’s going to be a good day?

Max Schorr: It’s just been such a great honor to start this magazine and meet people all around our country and all around the world who are putting these ideals into action and who are making changes happen in small ways, in their own lives and in their communities.

It started as a sort of audacious dream; we said that you could live well and do good and when we took the word good and decided to call our company that, people made fun of it. They didn’t understand how pragmatism and idealism could come together, or that doing good could ever be an appealing thing, but now we really see a growing movement of these people and we see it as the predominant sensibility.

And yet, I think what motivates me is seeing how much work remains; we have everything from the warmest temperatures on record to wars to all sorts of hatred to a lot of inequality; so there’s so many vital issues that need attention and just being able to contribute as a part of that is a great honor.

Samir Husni: Max, what’s your role now; I realize you’re one of the co-founders, but besides that; what’s your role at Good?

Max Schorr: I’m helping across the company right now and really focusing on partnerships that can help bring our brand to life and also help other organizations embody the meaning of Good and to realize their purpose and engage people in a smart way. So, I’m spending a lot of time here at Good and I’ve also been invited by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society out of Harvard Law School to study the intersection of social change in new media. So, I’m a student of that and doing research and also looking at how Good can really be the leading platform in moving the world forward.

Samir Husni: Is there anything else either of you would like to add about Good – the magazine, Good – digital, or Good – the global citizen?

Max Schorr: It’s an exciting time, Samir. Will mentioned our digital is really growing exponentially and that’s an important piece. We’ve launched this high-quality print journal for the global citizen and what’s really exciting is there’s a whole buzz in the office right now because we were at several million unique visitors in January, but then in February we were at over 4½ million as verified by Quantcast. And in March, it’s not official yet, but we’ve beat that by a wide margin and so we’re seeing that continued growth.

The heritage of Good, being the first company to curate YouTube’s home page, as one of the early players that was providing high-quality media that would also be shared, is now really hitting its stride and we’re growing digitally, while back in a strong way in print, makes for an exciting time.

Samir Husni: My typical last question and it’s for both of you; what keeps you up at night?

Will Tacy: (Laughs) There are so many things. One thing that keeps me up at night, not really in a worried way, but in a my-brain-can’t-turn-off way, is wanting to be sure that we’re executing at the highest level every day on everything. I want us to be excellent all the time. So, that is super-exciting and it’s what keeps my brain going.

There’s not a lot that keeps me up in terms of worry, concern or fear. What keeps me up is there’s so much to think about and so much to consider and so much great work to do and my brain just can’t turn it off.

Max Schorr: Similar to Will, I just want to do the best work possible, but also it’s been a volatile stretch of time for the media industry. We’ve learned a lot, but we’re still an independent media company and I think we’re still strengthening our business model and our financial position in the world. And we’re really grateful for the wonderful partners that are in this magazine like Apple, Patagonia and Ben & Jerry’s.

I just want to keep strengthening this business model so that we can support all the great people out there doing this work and be able to have wonderful jobs for people who want to live well and do good and realize their potential to contribute to the world. There’s just a lot of work to do.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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