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Fighters And Survivors Of Cancer & Many Other Challenges Are “Out Living It” With Positive Energy And An Outdoor Commitment That Helps Heal The Soul – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Sarah Hubbard, Director of Marketing, Out Living It Magazine

August 21, 2015

“We kind of struggled with that in the beginning, because obviously our age demographic is a digital age group: 18-39. They’re engaging with mobile more than anything, but what we wanted to start with was something really tangible. So, at the base level we wanted it to be something that when you’re in a waiting room, you could find it on the table and you could see it, experience it and actually hold it in your hand.” Sarah Hubbard (on why they decided on a print publication instead of digital-only)

Out Living It-1 First Descents is a non-profit organization that provides life-changing outdoor adventures for young adults impacted by cancer and many other challenges. The lifestyle promotes the peace, serenity and positivity of nature to bring people who are facing some of life’s biggest trials a sense of zeal and confidence despite their circumstances.

Sarah Hubbard is the marketing director for the organization and a cancer survivor herself. As a survivor of pediatric cancer, First Descents and the new Out Living It magazine are a combination of Sarah’s love for the outdoor lifestyle and the cause that is the nearest and dearest to her heart.

I spoke with Sarah recently and we talked about the foundation for the magazine, the First Descents organization, and the need she felt was there for a print publication in a world where digital content is fleetingly plentiful. The tangibility of print and the substance of something that could be held and enjoyed was a powerful motivation for Sarah when it came to bringing the magazine to fruition. The passion she has for the First Descents mission is transcended only by her dedication to making the magazine Out Living It a success.

After reading this interview with Sarah, maybe you’ll be reminded of how each day we should all be “Out Living It” to the fullest. I know Mr. Magazine™ was. And now the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Sarah Hubbard, Marketing Director, Out Living It magazine.

But first, the sound-bites:


On the launch of the magazine and on why they decided to add a print publication to their organization:
First Descents provides outdoor adventures for young adults, and for us that means ages 18-39, who’re fighting cancer. The really unique thing about First Descents is, even if you go to the website, but more importantly if you meet some of our participants in person, is it’s a really positive energy. It’s not your typical cancer organization; it’s this incredibly positivity. And I think our participants really embody our mantra of “Out Living It.” So, in thinking about how this would resonate with a larger community, we realized that we use the outdoors as a way to challenge these people and remind them that they’re capable of living a really wonderful life, but that goes way beyond our campus. There are people out there who are facing other diseases and going through really difficult life stages and they might need that mantra of “Out Living It” as well.

On the connection between Mountain Magazine and Out Living It:
Mountain Media publishes a lot of custom publications; I actually had worked with them in a prior career and so when I thought about whom I wanted to publish the magazine and partner with, they were the obvious choice.
Sarah Hubbard
On why they chose print instead of digital-only content:
We kind of struggled with that in the beginning, because obviously our age demographic is a digital age group: 18-39. They’re engaging with mobile more than anything, but what we wanted to start with was something really tangible. So, at the base level we wanted it to be something that when you’re in a waiting room, you could find it on the table and you could see it, experience it and actually hold it in your hand.

On whether the tagline “Out Living It” was always a part of the organization or was added for the magazine: It wasn’t, no. I believe it was added to the organization around 2011. Our founder was trying to come up with a mantra and a tagline for the organization and he came up with Out Living It, which I think is an absolute success. It means getting outside and living your life, but it also means living so well that cancer doesn’t stand a chance or whatever disease doesn’t stand a chance or any given challenge doesn’t stand a chance; just whatever your circumstances might be.

On some of the major challenges she thinks the magazine will face: We put together a combination of content where I think anyone could pick up the magazine and it would look and feel like maybe a Mountain Magazine; it’s travel tips and recipes and it’s these incredible feature stories. But for those who are in our community and those who are really paying attention to the content; I think it’s really easy to realize there’s a thread that goes through all of the stories. And that thread is that every single person from the photographer who is at the very front of the magazine to the athlete at the very end is living the “Out Living It” mantra; there’s some sort of challenge that’s being faced through every single story. The easy part is finding that content; it’s easy to find inspiring content. I think the testing for us is going to be growing this community on just the First Descents family.

On since all of the stories in the magazine are based on survivors of many types of medical and other challenges, whether it’s also written by those same survivors: It’s not. In the first issue we really tried to incorporate other people who were using the outdoors as the root of their therapy, if you will. In the first issue we did a great feature on an amazing organization called High Fives and it’s based more in treatment for people who’ve had debilitating injuries. We try to go beyond campus as much as we can. The articles are not written, at this point, by the people who are going through the challenges. We do have professional writers interviewing them and putting the stories together just like for any other publication.

On what she’d like to be able to say the magazine had accomplished one year from now:
This magazine for us is less about the financial and more about connecting a group of people who are finding common ground in the way that they’re facing whatever challenges are in their lives. So, I really want the energy that exists within First Descents, this really positive outlook on a very difficult situation, to spread outward. For us, obviously growing subscriptions would be really great, just in the fact that it would show us that the momentum was building and that people were really liking the idea and really gravitating toward it.

On being a cancer survivor herself and what motivates her to get out of bed every morning now and look forward to going to work: I was involved with First Descents as a volunteer here and there over the years, even before I came on as the marketing director. And the reason that this really resonated with me, and I think the reason it resonates with so many people is, first of all, the positivity that I talked about; there’s something so unique about this organization; it’s not depressing; it’s so inspiring and happy and funny. But beyond that, I realized that if I were to get cancer again at the age of 33, this is how I would fight it. This is the organization that I would seek out.

On what keeps her up at night:
Right now, this magazine. (Laughs) I’m so passionate about it. It’s really become my little baby. It’s an experiment, for sure, and something that our staff has really gotten behind. I feel like it’s my responsibility to make it successful, so yes, I woke up in the middle of last night, about 2:00 a.m., thinking about how I can do things better for the fall issue; how we can make it successful.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Sarah Hubbard, Marketing Director, Out Living It magazine.

Samir Husni: Would you tell me about the launch of Out Living It magazine and why you decided to add a print publication to the organization?

Sarah Hubbard: Sure. First Descents provides outdoor adventures for young adults, and for us that means ages 18-39, who’re fighting cancer. The really unique thing about First Descents is, even if you go to the website, but more importantly if you meet some of our participants in person, is it’s a really positive energy. It’s not your typical cancer organization; it’s this incredibly positivity. And I think our participants really embody our mantra of “Out Living It.” And they say over and over again that they wouldn’t trade anything, even the cancer diagnosis, because the energy they received from the First Descents organization reminded them that they need to be living.

A lot of us live in this sort of default; we go to work; we come home; we sometimes just go through the motions and this community of people at First Descents really doesn’t live that way. They’re living this packed, engaging and actively-positive lifestyle, which for me, coming in as an employee, was really inspiring. They have more energy and passion in their little finger than I do period.

So, in thinking about how this would resonate with a larger community, we realized that we use the outdoors as a way to challenge these people and remind them that they’re capable of living a really wonderful life, but that goes way beyond our campus. There are people out there who are facing other diseases and going through really difficult life stages and they might need that mantra of “Out Living It” as well.

I started looking out into the marketplace to see what sort of publications were out there in, first and foremost, waiting rooms. If you’ve ever sat in a waiting room, there can be some really depressing type of publications there. They’re either research-based or there’s a bit of a melancholy element to them, so I wanted to come up with a magazine that really exemplified what this “Out Living It” energy was, which is exciting, colorful and adventurous and a wonderful tool for anyone going through something difficult. And they could read it and relate to what others were going through and maybe say, “OK, I got this. If other people are going through something similar to what I’m going through and they’re looking at it with this amazing perspective; I can too.”

And I also wanted it to be a magazine that anyone could read, healthy or unhealthy. Anyone could have it on their coffee table and have a really exciting collection of stories that would really light a fire under them, regardless of whom they were or what they might be going through. And a magazine that would give you great reasons to travel or tell you a little about companies that you didn’t know were doing great things, but they are. I just wanted the magazine to be a really amazing tool on how to live that “Out Living It” type of lifestyle for everyone.

Samir Husni: What’s the link between Out Living It and Mountain Magazine? I get Mountain Magazine and Out Living It was sent to me.

Sarah Hubbard: Mountain Media publishes a lot of custom publications; I actually had worked with them in a prior career and so when I thought about whom I wanted to publish the magazine and partner with, they were the obvious choice.

We work on the editorial content together; I kind of put together to edit what stories I want and who I want to profile and then they take it from there. They contact the writers, they do the editing and layout and they’re not making any profit off of it. They’re doing it absolutely as a passion project and they’re such an amazing group of people and they really believe in the mission as well and that was very important to me.

Samir Husni: As you reflect on your own life, you’re a survivor of pediatric cancer; do you think having a printed magazine instead of digital-only content is a better way to reach that audience? Why print?

Sarah Hubbard: That’s a really good question. We kind of struggled with that in the beginning, because obviously our age demographic is a digital age group: 18-39. They’re engaging with mobile more than anything, but what we wanted to start with was something really tangible. So, at the base level we wanted it to be something that when you’re in a waiting room, you could find it on the table and you could see it, experience it and actually hold it in your hand.

We also wanted it to be a great tool to connect our community; we wanted to be able to send it out to people who were supporting us and have it be something that they actually received in the mail and could look at and flip through.

So, I think the plan is to start with the print magazine to show people what this really looks and feels like, and then potentially, hopefully we’ll be successful and can transition to just digital down the line. I think we needed the print to kind of show people what we’re doing, because it’s such a new concept; I believe we needed something that they could actually hold in their hands to really understand what we’re trying to accomplish.

Samir Husni: Did you always have the “Out Living It” logo under the First Descents umbrella? Was the tagline always there or was this something strictly added for the print magazine?

Sarah Hubbard: It wasn’t, no. I believe it was added to the organization around 2011. Our founder was trying to come up with a mantra and a tagline for the organization and he came up with Out Living It, which I think is an absolute success. It means getting outside and living your life, but it also means living so well that cancer doesn’t stand a chance or whatever disease doesn’t stand a chance or any given challenge doesn’t stand a chance; just whatever your circumstances might be.

I think it speaks perfectly to our audience. We still use the logo without sometimes for marketing purposes, but for the most part we do use the “Out Living It” script logo as much as we possibly can.

Samir Husni: What do you think will be some of the major challenges that will face this new magazine and how do you plan on overcoming them?

Sarah Hubbard: Good question. We put together a combination of content where I think anyone could pick up the magazine and it would look and feel like maybe a Mountain Magazine; it’s travel tips and recipes and it’s these incredible feature stories. But for those who are in our community and those who are really paying attention to the content; I think it’s really easy to realize there’s a thread that goes through all of the stories. And that thread is that every single person from the photographer who is at the very front of the magazine to the athlete at the very end is living the “Out Living It” mantra; there’s some sort of challenge that’s being faced through every single story.

The easy part is finding that content; it’s easy to find inspiring content. I think the testing for us is going to be growing this community on just the First Descents family. And trying to get the Out Living It message out to a broader group of people and have them accept it and be interested in it, especially with a medium like print.

That’s going to be a big challenge. It’s a print magazine; print magazines and content in general can be challenging; I think anyone in the editorial world would say that. So, just trying to make a name for this publication, I think, will probably always be challenging.

I was with the publisher yesterday and we were talking and he said, you know, we’re always going to have to fight for this. And I agree. But I believe it’s really something to fight for and the feedback that we’ve gotten from advertisers, writers and people reading it, has been great. They’ve said they’ve never seen anything like this before. So, I’m really hoping that momentum builds, but you know better than anyone, it’s always a challenge to try and come up with content that people are going to engage with.

Samir Husni: I know all of the stories are featuring survivors; will that always be your DNA? And since all of the features, everything you’ll find in the magazine is about survivors; is it also written by survivors?

Sarah Hubbard: It’s not. In the first issue we really tried to incorporate other people who were using the outdoors as the root of their therapy, if you will. In the first issue we did a great feature on an amazing organization called High Fives and it’s based more in treatment for people who’ve had debilitating injuries. We try to go beyond campus as much as we can. The articles are not written, at this point, by the people who are going through the challenges. We do have professional writers interviewing them and putting the stories together just like for any other publication.

That being said, we do have a lot of talented alumni in our community and some very talented writers that have gone through some really challenging things and we’d love to start folding them in so that they could write from a first-person perspective. We’re hoping to do some of that in the fall issue.

Samir Husni: If we have a conversation one year from now when you’re celebrating the first anniversary of Out Living It magazine; what would you hope to tell me that you’ve accomplished within that year?

Sarah Hubbard: This magazine for us is less about the financial and more about connecting a group of people who are finding common ground in the way that they’re facing whatever challenges are in their lives. So, I really want the energy that exists within First Descents, this really positive outlook on a very difficult situation, to spread outward.

For us, obviously growing subscriptions would be really great, just in the fact that it would show us that the momentum was building and that people were really liking the idea and really gravitating toward it.

But beyond that, I think that a year from now, we’d like to be receiving the same feedback that we’ve been getting from people lately, which has been how inspiring and upbeat the magazine is for someone who’s read it at their oncologist’s office or doctor’s office. Or how people have said it’s the only thing they want to read while they’re waiting to have their bloodwork done and how the magazine really speaks to them on many levels, especially as a young person facing a really difficult time. That would be enough for me.

The financial, I think, will come later, but for me, as long as we continue to get the feedback we’ve been receiving, that would be great. There was a hole in the market and we filled it and it’s really speaking to people, that would be a huge success for me.

Samir Husni: To talk a little on the personal side, you’ve said that you love the outdoor lifestyle and this cause is near and dear to your heart because you yourself are a survivor. What motivates you now to get out of bed every morning and say wow, I can’t wait to get to work?

Sarah Hubbard: I was involved with First Descents as a volunteer here and there over the years, even before I came on as the marketing director. And the reason that this really resonated with me, and I think the reason it resonates with so many people is, first of all, the positivity that I talked about; there’s something so unique about this organization; it’s not depressing; it’s so inspiring and happy and funny.

But beyond that, I realized that if I were to get cancer again at the age of 33, this is how I would fight it. This is the organization that I would seek out, because I’ve already turned to the outdoors for my own kind of personal solace, happiness and adventure, but if I were to be facing something really difficult, First Descents would be the perfect match for me.

The amazing thing about working for an organization like First Descents is that you’re surrounded by and engaging with people all day long who are facing challenges that some of us can’t even imagine. And these people are parents; they have careers; they’re literally trying to schedule in fighting cancer in an everyday life that we all have. It blows my mind what some of them are going through. And they’re going through it with smiles on their faces and they’re making jokes and supporting one another. So, I think this job, unlike any other job I’ve ever had, is a very strong, daily reminder of how important it is to really live every day. That may sound cliché, but it’s true.

Samir Husni: We need those types of clichés in the world today.

Sarah Hubbard: Yes, we do. It’s like all the little catastrophes in my life, such as my car breaking down; they just don’t mean anything in the world that I live in at First Descents. It’s just trying to stay surrounded by the people that I love and being able to do the things that I love and living life as well as I possibly can, those are the things that are really important.

Samir Husni: Is there anything else that you’d like to add?

Sarah Hubbard: We’re just hoping to continue to get great feedback and keep the magazine going and keep it alive as long as we possibly can, because I think there’s something really unique about it.

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night?

Sarah Hubbard: Right now, this magazine. (Laughs) I’m so passionate about it. It’s really become my little baby. It’s an experiment, for sure, and something that our staff has really gotten behind. I feel like it’s my responsibility to make it successful, so yes, I woke up in the middle of last night, about 2:00 a.m., thinking about how I can do things better for the fall issue; how we can make it successful. So yes, the magazine is keeping me up at night right now.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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