Archive for October, 2015

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Butternut: Creating Content That’s Mentally And Physically Nutritious For Young Readers – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Jill Colella, Founder, Butternut Magazine.

October 29, 2015

A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story…

“Having been a teacher, I worked in a school that had no lack of resources. It was a private school in D.C. But whenever I tried to use the laptop cards or bring my kids to one of those free computer labs, we always had trouble. Through the tried-and-true ink on paper; I was never let down, nor were my kids. And just the tactile nature of it and being able to pull it off a shelf and escape into text; it’s just a kind of reprieve that kids need to escape the noise in their lives.” Jill Colella

200px_pumpkin cover A children’s magazine that teaches reading literacy and food literacy; Butternut is a breath of fresh air on a hot sweltering day at the playground. The magazine encourages basic food and reading knowledge by inspiring curiosity about food in young readers, and adult kids too. It’s fun, smart and unique, a new launch that Mr. Magazine™ definitely gives two thumbs up.

Jill Colella is founder of Butternut and also of the five-year-old Ingredient Magazine, a food magazine for young readers 6-12. Jill has been working with kids, both as a teacher and a writer of educational materials, for quite some time. And as a very picky eater who became a chef to get a better understanding of different foods, she also knows a thing or two about nutrition and great recipes

I spoke with Jill recently about her new ‘baby’ Butternut and its targeted audience of 3-6 year-old’s, who not surprisingly, have an innate curiosity about where their food comes from and how it’s prepared. Getting the word out about the magazine is paramount as she moves forward to show that food and reading are connected in more ways than one might think. It’s a concept that has originality and a whole lot of passion behind it from a young woman who is dedicated to the brand and the cause. The magazine is supported by a subscription-base and shipped to many school libraries across the country as teachers all over are discovering the food and words relationship and finding it very beneficial to their students.

So, sit back and get ready to enjoy a conversation with a real entrepreneur and a woman who isn’t afraid to stay true to her own DNA and follow her dreams…the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Jill Colella, Founder, Butternut Magazine.

But first, the sound-bites:


jill_blue.background On where the idea for Teach Kids to Cook media came from:
It really had been simmering for a long time and it came out of my being very unhappy in a job on Capitol Hill more than ten years ago. I took the training to be a personal chef and never actually became a personal chef. And so I used all of the training that I had gotten and started a business giving hands-on cooking lessons for kids. But it mostly meant birthday party entertainment. And I loved it. I loved the direct, hands-on teaching and at that time I was building up a little reputation in the area and I eventually became a spokesperson for a publishing company and most of their authors were in England. It ultimately became a relationship with this publisher where I wrote books for them and did educational writing and all kinds of PR-type stuff and I really loved it. And I had this idea in the back of my mind for a while; why wasn’t there a magazine about food for kids?

On how she came up with the tagline for the magazine and the driving force behind it:
I was invited, probably two years ago now, to speak at a conference that was held by a school of architecture. When I wrote that speech was the first time that food as a lexicon occurred to me and that’s really the root of Butternut, the idea that food literacy can go hand-in-hand with reading literacy. And as a sort of system of language, food and the English language function very similarly. We have parts of speech; they work together in different order to create meaning. And the fundamentals of food work the same way. If you don’t have basic vocabulary, you can’t formulate a sentence. If you don’t have the basic vocabulary of food; if you can’t identify what is a potato, what is a sweet potato, and what is a yam; you can’t create sentences with those.

On how she plans to market Butternut:
The ongoing challenge of independent children’s magazine publishers is how do you make this a business instead of a hobby? And that’s the double-edged sword. I don’t have ambitions of being on the newsstands, unless someone reads this interview and finds a good way for me to make that happen. And for me distribution is about good old-fashioned hustle and individual outreach to those inspired. Subscriptions are available online, because it is a gift-able item, so lots of grandparents, aunts and uncles love to give this to members of their families.

On how she felt when she held the first issue of Butternut in her hands:
The way that you described it is pretty accurate. When I held it in my hand, it made sense; it just made sense. And I felt a sense of satisfaction. It’s making it as a hypothesis when I have the results in my hand and I get to interpret that data. And for me it made sense.

On whether Butternut and Ingredient Magazine will grow together as happy siblings:
Definitely together. Ingredient has five years of content and Butternut can pull from that, where it’s age appropriate and meaningful. In some ways, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Of course, it won’t be identical content, but we already know what readers were interested in, where things were interesting and fun for our team of editors and writers.

On why she thinks there has been such a fascination with the food category in magazines, even with young children:
I think the interest in food is in response to the Great Recession. When you don’t get a raise or your job is scaled back or there’s no overtime money, things like dining out go first. And you have to think about where you’re going to invest the money you do have in luxuries and in some ways that put people in the mindset of finding the pleasure in food again. It’s a hobby that you can invest time and energy in. There’s this beautiful alchemy; you can take ingredients that don’t really cost that much and are pretty accessible to most people, and create something amazing and offers a great experience in the creation of it. So, I think that’s really where it comes from.

On the major stumbling block she will face in the future:
It’s always going to be numbers and getting a robust circulation. And the question is what will be the outcome of that? In my case, more than likely, price point. Each magazine, Ingredient and Butternut, is published almost six times per year. And the price for the subscription is $35 to U.S. addresses. And to many people, that’s expensive and it is to some extent. But we’re very different from other magazines. Of course, we look like other magazines, but we’re different.

On what motivates her to get up in the mornings and never quit:
That’s a great question. This business moves me and I need to see what happens with it. I would never have told you in a million years, if this were 10 years ago, that I would be making kids magazines about food. (Laughs) Everything that I’ve really done was all of these weird moments that aligned so that I could see the light on the path that led up to all of this. And nothing else in my life has been that way, even though I’ve written tons of educational material for teachers; I’ve been a teacher myself; I’ve been involved in publishing; there’s just something different here.

On why she thinks there is still a need for ink on paper in a digital world:
Having been a teacher, I worked in a school that had no lack of resources. It was a private school in D.C. But whenever I tried to use the laptop cards or bring my kids to one of those free computer labs, we always had trouble. Through the tried-and-true ink on paper; I was never let down, nor were my kids.

On anything else she’d like to add:
Yes; I’ll get on my soapbox for a minute. I also worked in children’s book publishing and I worked for an imprint that’s based here in Minneapolis. And I did that job to learn a lot about how the publishing world works. Most of that job was a publicity job and so when you have a new book there are protocols for how to get that book reviewed. You have a list of people who expect to get a ton of galleys and books twice a year and their sole purpose is to write about them and then put that out into the world. Magazines don’t have that at all. And I just corresponded with School Library Journal and asked them if they had a protocol for magazine reviews. And they don’t. Even something like Highlights that has been around for a very long time and other great magazines; there’s a new magazine for kids about computers and coding; there’s a great magazine for kids in the military who move all around because of Mom and Dad’s careers, and librarians have no idea that these exist.

On what keeps her up at night:
The easy answer is circulation. It’s really getting the word out there into the world about these magazines. There will be a point where I run out of runway and I see that in my colleagues who also do independent magazines for children. It’s getting these materials into the hands of people who will most benefit from them.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Jill Colella, Founder, Butternut Magazine.

Samir Husni: Congratulations on the first issue of Butternut.

Jill Colella: Thank you.

sm_2015SeptOct Samir Husni: I know you’ve done Ingredient Magazine, but tell me a little about the Teach Kids to Cook media as a company. Where did the idea for Teach Kids to Cook come from?

Jill Colella: It really had been simmering for a long time and it came out of my being very unhappy in a job on Capitol Hill more than ten years ago. I worked in publishing for a large, well-known think tank and I just ultimately wasn’t feeling it there anymore. I had a mentor who retired and was replaced with someone that I just couldn’t see eye-to-eye with and one day I literally quit on the spot, packed up my things and walked out the door. I remember it was 9:30 in the morning when that happened. I was downtown in D.C. after I left wondering what came next. (Laughs)

I had been interested in food and cooking and interestingly enough, Julia Child’s Kitchen exhibit had just opened at the Smithsonian and I hadn’t been to it yet, so I decided since I was downtown anyway, that’s where I was going to go. So, I literally had my bag of personal effects that I had taken when I walked out, and went and just stood in Julia’s Kitchen and thought about what comes next.

At that point, I had been flirting with the idea of becoming a personal chef. So, that is in fact what I did. I went and I took training to do that. I myself had always been a picky eater and that’s’ why I started getting interested in food and cooking.

And it was the job on Capitol Hill that forced that. All of a sudden I was going to executive lunches and the boardroom on the eighth floor, where it was a set menu from caterers, and it was things that I had never eaten before. And as a finicky eater, it stressed me out terribly. Something that seemed as delicious and ordinary to most people, such as salmon, sort of induced panic attacks in me. (Laughs) I realized that I needed to expand my palate, so it was in that position when I began to do that. And that’s when the interest in food came in.

I took the training to be a personal chef and never actually became a personal chef, because I was this girl who’d rather eat grilled cheese than salmon or some sophisticated dish. So, I wondered if I could actually pull it off.

And so I used all of the training that I had gotten and started a business giving hands-on cooking lessons for kids. But it mostly meant birthday party entertainment. You could pay Chef Jill to come do a birthday party for your kid and we would make something to eat and we’d make something that the other kids could take home as a party favor. And I did that for a few years.

And I loved it. I loved the direct, hands-on teaching and at that time I was building up a little reputation in the area and I eventually became a spokesperson for a publishing company and most of their authors were in England. They had a really hard time connecting their cooking authors with American journalists. They would send me the books and I would read them all and I would give interviews about the virtues of kids and cooking. And this was pre-Mrs. Obama, but the kids cooking just started to take off. And I enjoyed that.

It ultimately became a relationship with this publisher where I wrote books for them and did educational writing and all kinds of PR-type stuff and I really loved it. And I had this idea in the back of my mind for a while; why wasn’t there a magazine about food for kids? So, finally I just made one to see what it would look like and that was Ingredient Magazine in 2010 and had been producing those at that point.

Butternut has come along more recently. It was another one of those ideas that sort of poked at me and I just needed to make one and see what it looked like. The other thing that we’re doing as a company is to look through the different content that we have and find ways to identify and fill needs in the market that aren’t being met right now.

There is a large category of kid’s cookbooks, but they don’t necessarily answer how or why or dig more deeply into the more fundamental levels of curiosity. So, we’re in the process of creating e-books to do that and eventually some of those books will be print books as well.

Samir Husni: I noticed on the first issue of Butternut the tagline is: food literacy for young readers and eaters. And somehow you don’t think about literacy when you’re thinking about food. How did you come up with that tagline and what’s the fertilizer behind Butternut that urges it to grow?

200px_whats for lunch bn Jill Colella: Much of the time that I was Chef Jill giving birthday parties on the weekends and also piloting a magazine because it was an idea that I couldn’t get out of my mind, I also had a full-time job and that was as an English teacher. So, I basically viewed the world through the lens of an English teacher. And as much as I liked teaching literature, my skill is teaching writing and that’s what I love more than anything else, kind of skill-building.

I was invited, probably two years ago now, to speak at a conference that was held by a school of architecture. I had to double-check when I got this voice mail that a school of architecture was inviting me to speak at their conference. It just didn’t make sense.

It turned out that this particular college focused on outdoor play spaces, educational outdoor play spaces for children and some of my work had been in kids and gardening and that’s what they were interested in. So, the majority of attendees at this conference were teachers of very young children, ages 3-6. So, I gave my talk and I really had to think about what I was trying to say. I told my story and talked about the virtues of letting kids get hands-on in the dirt.

When I wrote that speech was the first time that food as a lexicon occurred to me and that’s really the root of Butternut, the idea that food literacy can go hand-in-hand with reading literacy. And as a sort of system of language, food and the English language function very similarly. We have parts of speech; they work together in different order to create meaning. And the fundamentals of food work the same way. If you don’t have basic vocabulary, you can’t formulate a sentence. If you don’t have the basic vocabulary of food; if you can’t identify what is a potato, what is a sweet potato, and what is a yam; you can’t create sentences with those. Language acquisition comes very early on; we don’t think anything of talking to babies when they don’t talk back.

It’s funny, magazines exist about poetry, dinosaurs and baby animals, and that’s all well and good, and those publications are wonderful, exciting and educational, but kids have a lot more debate ability and love and curiosity about food, and that’s from day-one, than they do about baby seals, which maybe they’ll never encounter in real life. Or they do occasionally at the zoo or something like that.

For me, there is a fundamental connection between building blocks and learning how to order those to be really empowered. The greatest thing that you can teach children right now for a lifetime of success is reading literacy. That is how to find meaning, how to ask questions, how to be a critical thinker, and food literacy. That’s a running start.

Samir Husni: What are your plans in terms of the distribution of the magazine? Will it be available for subscriptions and on the newsstands, because I noticed with the first issue that there’s no advertising and no cover price. How are you going to market Butternut?

Jill Colella: The ongoing challenge of independent children’s magazine publishers is how do you make this a business instead of a hobby? And that’s the double-edged sword. I don’t have ambitions of being on the newsstands, unless someone reads this interview and finds a good way for me to make that happen. (Laughs) It’s a speculative venture, as you well know. The thought of hundreds of copies being shredded makes me physically ill. (Laughs again) But that’s likely not going to happen, unless I can sell into a major distributor. I send copies of the magazine to Costco and Wal-Mart, to their magazine acquisition arm on a weekly basis. But if they never accept, really my primary audience is schools and libraries.

And for me distribution is about good old-fashioned hustle and individual outreach to those inspired. Subscriptions are available online, because it is a gift-able item, so lots of grandparents, aunts and uncles love to give this to members of their families. Those are the majority of subscribers, families and schools and libraries.

Samir Husni: When that first issue came back from the printer and you held it in your hand; can you describe for me how you felt at that moment? From conception to birth, people often compare the journey of launching a new magazine to pregnancy; how did you feel when you held your new baby in your hand for the first time?

Jill Colella: The way that you described it is pretty accurate. When I held it in my hand, it made sense; it just made sense. And I felt a sense of satisfaction. It’s making it as a hypothesis when I have the results in my hand and I get to interpret that data. And for me it made sense.

Samir Husni: And how is the new ‘baby’ in comparison to Ingredient? Are they going to be growing up steadily together or will one outgrow the other?

Cover.2014.mar.apr Jill Colella: Definitely together. Ingredient has five years of content and Butternut can pull from that, where it’s age appropriate and meaningful. In some ways, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Of course, it won’t be identical content, but we already know what readers were interested in, where things were interesting and fun for our team of editors and writers.

The other thing too is that I have been surprised that more middle schools purchased Ingredient than I thought they would. I taught 7th and 8th grade English for a very long time and I know the level of sophistication that kids at that age can read at and what their attention level is and also what topics they might be interested in. So, I’m pleased; I’m very pleased that school librarians are seeing value in Ingredient as a title for middle schools.

And food and cooking is a classic topic, where you can see that kind of high-low subject area where there are cookbooks and it’s not a babyish book or a babyish magazine. So, if you’re in 7th grade and you’re reading this magazine, it doesn’t feel like you’re reading something better-suited to third graders. So, that’s important. It allows us to really run with the age group 3-6 and really dial-in and calibrate age appropriateness in both magazines.

Samir Husni: Almost for the last five years, since Ingredient came onto the marketplace, we’ve seen more food magazines than any other category, aimed at every age group, about every specification and specialization under the sun. Why do you think there’s this fascination with food, even from such young ages as 3-6 year-old’s, which is Butternut’s targeted group?

Jill Colella: I think the interest in food is in response to the Great Recession. When you don’t get a raise or your job is scaled back or there’s no overtime money, things like dining out go first. And you have to think about where you’re going to invest the money you do have in luxuries and in some ways that put people in the mindset of finding the pleasure in food again. It’s a hobby that you can invest time and energy in. There’s this beautiful alchemy; you can take ingredients that don’t really cost that much and are pretty accessible to most people, and create something amazing and offers a great experience in the creation of it. So, I think that’s really where it comes from.

And while piano and Mandarin Chinese lessons and all those things are great for kids, it’s a wonderful thing to realize that we’re standing on this great, sort of uncut diamond with kids and food. We can spend hundreds of dollars on camp and Mandarin Chinese lessons, but we can actually go in our kitchens and have some meaningful time too.

Samir Husni: Now, with two magazines under your belt, what do you think will be your major stumbling block in the future and how will you overcome it?

Jill Colella: It’s always going to be numbers and getting a robust circulation. And the question is what will be the outcome of that? In my case, more than likely, price point. Each magazine, Ingredient and Butternut, is published almost six times per year. And the price for the subscription is $35 to U.S. addresses. And to many people, that’s expensive and it is to some extent. But we’re very different from other magazines. Of course, we look like other magazines, but we’re different.

Recently, I saw a promotion on Facebook that was the price of four magazines and they were Better Homes and Gardens, maybe Food Network Magazine and maybe Rachael Ray, those kinds of magazines, four of them for an entire year for $12. The truth is that I’ll never be able to produce Ingredient and Butternut for that price. We’re just not subsidized by advertisers. That’s not a place that I want to go with kids and food, not that it’s inconsistent with my values, but kids advertising food to kids is a can of worms and that industry is self-regulated. I do know that I don’t want to use that cover to advertise Pop-Tarts. I didn’t grow up on Pop-Tarts and whether I love them or I don’t doesn’t matter. I would rather have the food experience and for it to be truly about curiosity and not about selling kids. So, that’s my stumbling block, helping people see the value in supporting independent magazines for children, because more of us keep showing up and it’s a really tough industry.

Samir Husni: When I was reading the first issue of Butternut; what fascinates me is that combination of eating with purpose, eating for both the brain and the body. You’ve hit on a very unique DNA for a children’s magazine.

Jill Colella: Thank you.

Samir Husni: Now that you’ve moved from D.C. and the corporate world and you’re doing these magazines as an entrepreneur, what makes you tick and click and motivates you to get up each morning and say to yourself, I’m not giving up?

Jill Colella: That’s a great question. This business moves me and I need to see what happens with it. I would never have told you in a million years, if this were 10 years ago, that I would be making kids magazines about food. (Laughs) Everything that I’ve really done was all of these weird moments that aligned so that I could see the light on the path that led up to all of this. And nothing else in my life has been that way, even though I’ve written tons of educational material for teachers; I’ve been a teacher myself; I’ve been involved in publishing; there’s just something different here.

And that to me means that I just need to see it out. And if it hits and clicks and has the same power as Highlights and is around for 50 years that will be amazing. That’s what I want. But if it doesn’t, I still believe this is the truest expression of my DNA. And I just need to put it into the world. And that’s why I get up each and every day.

Samir Husni: Why do you think your audience, the schools and the children, still need an ink on paper publication in today’s digital world?

cover.2015.jan.feb_lowres Jill Colella: Having been a teacher, I worked in a school that had no lack of resources. It was a private school in D.C. But whenever I tried to use the laptop cards or bring my kids to one of those free computer labs, we always had trouble. Through the tried-and-true ink on paper; I was never let down, nor were my kids. And just the tactile nature of it and being able to pull it off a shelf and escape into text; it’s just a kind of reprieve that kids need to escape the noise in their lives.

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

Jill Colella: Yes; I’ll get on my soapbox for a minute. I also worked in children’s book publishing and I worked for an imprint that’s based here in Minneapolis. And I did that job to learn a lot about how the publishing world works. Most of that job was a publicity job and so when you have a new book there are protocols for how to get that book reviewed. You have a list of people who expect to get a ton of galleys and books twice a year and their sole purpose is to write about them and then put that out into the world.

Magazines don’t have that at all. And I just corresponded with School Library Journal and asked them if they had a protocol for magazine reviews. And they don’t. Even something like Highlights that has been around for a very long time and other great magazines; there’s a new magazine for kids about computers and coding; there’s a great magazine for kids in the military who move all around because of Mom and Dad’s careers, and librarians have no idea that these exist. There’s no outreach arm to this audience, and really no one that I found who specializes in periodicals.

I wish there was a blogger who was a mouthpiece for these magazines. We have wonderful people creating beautiful, much-needed magazines and there’s no way to get the word out about them to the rest of the world to decision-makers who have purchasing power. Just pay a little bit more attention to magazines.

I remember reading a magazine when I was a kid; someone bought me a Barbie magazine. I can still see it in my mind, completely clearly. It’s different in ethos from what I do. But that magazine influenced me and it is a large part of what I do. It’s one of the dots on the path.

There are a bunch of kids reading these magazines and I would love to see some of these outlets get recognition.

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

Jill Colella: The easy answer is circulation. It’s really getting the word out there into the world about these magazines. There will be a point where I run out of runway and I see that in my colleagues who also do independent magazines for children. It’s getting these materials into the hands of people who will most benefit from them. Connecting with the audience and making sure that I have a viable business to do that.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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W Magazine: Inspiring The Cultural Dialogue In Fashion, Film & Art – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Stefano Tonchi, Editor-In-Chief & Lucy Kriz, Publisher, Chief Revenue Officer, W Magazine.

October 26, 2015

“I think that you can really have a lot of things on your desktop or on your mobile phone, in the sense that you collect movies, TV shows, music and images, but the type of collectability that we’re talking about is very different. A magazine is something that lives as a whole and not just as one story. A magazine is about the conceptualization of each image and the way each story relates to the other. It’s a living package, a living organism and it’s not just something that can be taken apart.” Stefano Tonchi

“Now, that we’re incredibly successful, the challenge is how do we continue to keep this beautiful print product special and continue the growth? I believe we absolutely have runway in print, despite the decline in the overall print market, and we’ll scale digitally. And that’s really what’s exciting for both of us because we’ve achieved such great success in the past five years and there’s so much brand love. When we look at various studies and data about our readers and brand awareness; if they know us, they love us. So, how do we spread the brand love and how do we scale? And that’s been a really fun and exciting challenge for us.” Lucy Kriz

W Jessica Chastain Nov 2015 Cover Collectability in its finest form; Condè Nast’s W Magazine represents the very best in fashion, film, and art and is filled with awe-inspiring images that are often unanticipatedly cutting-edge and always some of the most beautiful photography around.

Stefano Tonchi has been editor-in-chief since spring 2010 and Lucy Kriz, publisher and chief revenue officer since 2012. The two together are an unbeatable team that has brought the magazine to new heights under their combined leadership. With W experiencing its strongest advertising performance in five years, and being named to Ad Age’s A-List under Lucy’s guiding hand, the magazine is on track with its third consecutive year of growth, in both print and digital revenue, with new positioning to “escape ordinary.”

And with Stefano’s unprecedented direction, the magazine has been a finalist 7 times in the past two years for the prestigious ASME Awards, with two nods in the General Excellence category. And in 2012, Stefano oversaw the publication of W’s first-ever special-edition book, W: The First 40 Years, a photographic celebration of the magazine’s 40th anniversary.

To say the two make an incomparable tandem for success would be an understatement. Recently, I visited with them in their new offices at the 32nd floor of 1 World Trade Center in downtown NYC and I must say the dialogue was open, oftentimes filled with humor, and really delightful. We talked quite a bit about the DNA of W and how Stefano redefined the magazine’s roots without digging them completely up and tossing them onto the weed pile.

A few of the magazine’s achievements with Lucy and Stefano at the helm:

• Print revenue is up +7% in 2015, and up +32% over the past three years since Lucy’s appointment as publisher and chief revenue officer

• Digital business is up +42%

• Ad paging has increased by +15% vs. five years ago

• Total audience (including print, digital, social) is 7 million, with a +17% increase vs. 2014 (according to the MPA 360 July brand report)

• Social media footprint is up +52% vs. last September, with more than 5 million total across social platforms

• Digital edition single copy and subscriptions continue to grow (+9% year over year) (Source: AAM June 2010-2015 statements.)

So, sit back, relax and enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with two people whose alphabet always begins with the letter “W” Lucy Kriz, Publisher and Stefano Tonchi, Editor-In-Chief, W Magazine.

But first, the sound-bites:

Stefano Tonchi, editor in chief, W magazine.

Stefano Tonchi, editor in chief, W magazine.

On whether he thinks W Magazine in its digital format will ever be the collector’s item that the print magazine is (Stefano Tonchi): I don’t think digital can be a collector’s item in that sense. I think that the idea of collecting something is having something tangible and that you can actually possess or have in your hand, so something that’s on a screen and is available to everybody is not really anything that you can collect.

On how the role of editor has evolved through the 40 or so years that he’s been in the magazine business (Stefano Tonchi): This is interesting because a lot of my colleagues would say it used to be pure and now it’s a lot of different things. Maybe it’s because that when I was 15 I started my magazine and I had to go and sell the ads, do the stories, hire and fire; I was playing all the roles, so the job was quite similar and still about making choices and taking responsibilities.

On the nature of the first magazine he created in high school (Stefano Tonchi): The magazine that I was doing when I was in high school was about the records we were listening to at the time, the people we were admiring and nothing has really changed; it was all about the people and the things that defined the times we were living in.

Lucy Kriz, publisher and chief revenue officer, W magazine.

Lucy Kriz, publisher and chief revenue officer, W magazine.

On how the publisher’s role has changed over the years (Lucy Kriz): It’s definitely changed. Sometimes I think that I became a publisher 10 years too late (Laughs), because it was just easier back then when you could make a phone call, have a meeting, talk about your unique selling proposition and in-book the pages. Now, we have really evolved from sales people to modern-day marketers. And it is a much more involved and strategic approach to partnerships, and I think in a way I didn’t come 10 years too late, I came at exactly the right time because that’s what invigorates me and gets me excited every day. It’s just more involved.

On whether she uses the unique size of W when selling the magazine to clients (Lucy Kriz): : There’s a sea of sameness in media and you can really look across the digital landscape certainly, it’s been commoditized enough, and even in magazines, and you don’t even know what anyone stands for anymore. And W has always been memorable. And so I absolutely use our oversized format and our bold editorial to sell. And to make sure that we’re highlighting that it’s really about the consumer who engages with the magazine because they love our editorial and believe it offers something different.

On whether his five-year journey has been all smooth sailing or he’s experienced some choppy seas along the way (Stefano Tonchi): Every year you have to prove what you can do. It was very hard at the beginning because I didn’t have the full knowledge of the magazine. The DNA of the magazine was very diluted and there was a lot of misunderstanding in what W meant and people were very confused about the magazine.

On how the challenges they’ve faced have redefined the magazine and made it even more successful (Lucy Kriz): Now, that we’re incredibly successful, the challenge is how do we continue to keep this beautiful print product special and continue the growth? I believe we absolutely have runway in print, despite the decline in the overall print market, and we’ll scale digitally. And that’s really what’s exciting for both of us because we’ve achieved such great success in the past five years and there’s so much brand love.

On whether it’s been a rose garden for her since she began at W (Lucy Kriz): I would say that I’ve never been happier in my life to be out in the market with this product. Is it a rose garden? I would say yes. When I can walk into any one of our partners, certainly in the luxury space, and now Coach’s, we’re one of their biggest partners, because they know that we have a really desirable consumer market, and to be honest, that particular consumer; we have more of them. So, it isn’t a struggle, it’s a joy and we love what we do.

On the nudity in W: We never do anything to provoke just for the sake of provoking. We’re not in the business of scandal; we’re not that kind of publication. What we do is really express the conscience of the time we live in and I think there have been times, especially in the 1990s, with certain kinds of images; W was there first. We worked with photographers who were expressing a sensibility of the moment. We will follow wherever the culture and the social conversation takes us. We’ll cover up if that’s the conversation or we’ll undress if that’s the conversation. We are moved really by the creativity of our contributors.

W Art Drake Nov 2015 Cover On whether any advertiser has ever canceled an ad because of the nudity (Lucy Kriz): Our advertisers are also interesting because the people that we work with want to be on the leading-edge. They come to W for a reason. There are some advertisers who don’t love our content and that’s OK. They can keep their money because there are more advertisers and we have great, great partnerships, who want to be a part of the culture conversation.

On anything else he’d like to add (Stefano Tonchi): I would say quickly, touching on diversity, that’s also part of our DNA too, in terms of how the magazine relates to different cultures and how it also presents many points of view. This is not a magazine that has one vision. I really let my editors express their personalities; I think that’s very important. It’s a magazine that has a lot of personalities and people who come from all over the world, so that’s kind of our way of being really diverse.

On what motivates him to get our bed every morning (Stefano Tonchi): I’m very curious. I think curiosity is the most undervalued quality in people. A new exhibition, seeing what’s in the paper for that day; I’m just very curious about everything. What makes me get up every morning is questioning and discovering all the new things that the day might bring.

On what keeps him up at night (Stefano Tonchi): My kids very often. (Laughs) I don’t necessarily bring home my problems. The last couple of years have been very positive at the magazine. Clearly, I think a lot about how to bring this content to a new generation and how to keep our signature and our content branded, so that people understand that it comes from us, it’s not free, and that there are people who work very hard to make that happen.

On what keeps her up at night (Lucy Kriz): The question that keeps me up at night is how do we be as bold and provocative in digital as we are in print, because we’re not interested in doing what everyone else is doing. And we have a plan in place to do that. We love to foster innovation here at W and we support our teams and it’s an exciting moment for this brand.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Lucy Kriz, Publisher & Stefano Tonchi, Editor-In-Chief, W Magazine.

Samir Husni: As you have mentioned before; W Magazine is a collector’s item with every issue. Do you think you’ll ever reach the stage where digital can be a collector’s item?

W Jane Fonda Cover June July 2015 Stefano Tonchi: I don’t think digital can be a collector’s item in that sense. I think that the idea of collecting something is having something tangible and that you can actually possess or have in your hand, so something that’s on a screen and is available to everybody is not really anything that you can collect.

I think that you can really have a lot of things on your desktop or on your mobile phone, in the sense that you collect movies, TV shows, music and images, but the type of collectability that we’re talking about is very different. A magazine is something that lives as a whole and not just as one story. A magazine is about the conceptualization of each image and the way each story relates to the other. It’s a living package, a living organism and it’s not just something that can be taken apart.

Samir Husni: You’ve been working with magazines for…

Stefano Tonchi: …for almost 40 years, I think. (Laughs) I had my first magazine when I was in high school, that’s when I started my first magazine; it’s my passion.

Samir Husni: How has the job of editor evolved through those years?

Stefano Tonchi: This is interesting because a lot of my colleagues would say it used to be pure and now it’s a lot of different things. Maybe it’s because that when I was 15 I started my magazine and I had to go and sell the ads, do the stories, hire and fire; I was playing all the roles, so the job was quite similar and still about making choices and taking responsibilities.

And you always have to think about your financial responsibilities. I’ve never had a job where I had carte blanche to do whatever I wanted and everything else was taken care of for me. That’s something that I think is still a constant.

On the other hand, clearly it used to be only about editing a magazine on paper and all the people around you were working on paper and you were creating one product and that product was also from you to the readers. They might like it or not and they might write you back, they might come and protest at your door if you were a political magazine (Laughs), but it was still kind of a one-way communication. And it was also one medium and it was once a day, if it was a newspaper, or once a week or once a month. But it was something very specific and it was the final product when it was printed, it was there. You could not change it.

Today, we live in a completely different time. The digital revolution makes your magazine as though never finished basically, because your digital version is evolving continuously. It’s no longer a one-way conversation; it’s at least a two-way conversation. You continuously relate and hear back from your readers. And they want to be part of the magazine. They want to participate. There are magazines now that are just made by the contribution of the readers. I don’t know if that’s the right way or if you can really define it as a magazine, but it is a collection of things written by people.

Samir Husni: What was the nature of your first magazine that you created in high school?

Before he lead W, there was Westuff...

Before he lead W, there was Westuff…

Stefano Tonchi: Technically, I never changed my interest, because it was all about contemporary culture. That moment in time and place growing up in Italy in the 1970s and 1980s; it was about music and music was what we grew up with. I had so many friends who ended up working at Rolling Stone or Musical Express or other magazines of the 1980s.

Clearly, in the 1990s, I moved into the direction of fashion and design and architecture and all those kinds of areas that were probably more right for me at that moment, design in particular.

Recently at W, we’re doing a lot of art, but fashion is our bread and butter, but it’s always in the context of contemporary society. So, the magazine that I was doing when I was in high school was about the records we were listening to at the time, the people we were admiring and nothing has really changed; it was all about the people and the things that defined the times we were living in.

An early byline from Westuff, the magazine he published at age 20.

An early byline from Westuff, the magazine he published at age 20.

Clearly, my point of view was a little bit more provincial than it is now (Laughs), but by age 20, I had interviewed John Galliano and Yohji Yamamoto, people who are still alive and significant. I could still show you my magazine from those days.

Samir Husni: I would love to see them.

Stefano Tonchi: I have a deep love for paper.

Samir Husni: On a side note; I started at age nine and I still have three of my magazines that I created. There was no technology then, of course. When I needed pictures in my magazine, I would bring a candle and drop wax onto the paper and rub it across the surface and then rub the waxed paper on an old newspaper or magazine to lift the pictures. And after 40 or 50 years, they still look great.

Stefano Tonchi: Amazing, isn’t it?

Samir Husni: Lucy, let’s talk a bit now about the changing role of the publisher. I think the main role is still chief revenue officer, revenue, so that’s selling and selling and bringing in the money. Is your job easier or harder today? How have things changed over the years?

W Art first cover Pharrell 2014 Lucy Kriz: It’s definitely changed. Sometimes I think that I became a publisher 10 years too late (Laughs), because it was just easier back then when you could make a phone call, have a meeting, talk about your unique selling proposition and in-book the pages. Now, we have really evolved from sales people to modern-day marketers. And it is a much more involved and strategic approach to partnerships, and I think in a way I didn’t come 10 years too late, I came at exactly the right time because that’s what invigorates me and gets me excited every day. It’s just more involved.

Instead of a more tactical transactional relationship, you’re having conversations about solving real business challenges and coming up with solutions that are much more than run a page in my magazine, right? So, the solution could certainly involve media, but it involves potentially experiential and social; it could involve really measuring a lot of factors, depending on the objectives of the client, it is just a much more in-depth approach.

Stefano Tonchi: It’s a 360° kind of service that you offer.

Lucy Kriz: And what you have to do is really think about who are the right partners; you have to prioritize your time. All of the time/energy resources that you put into every interaction have to mean something. So, you have to make sure that you’re doubling down on the clients who really understand your brand and W has a very specific brand. We’re a bold, provocative, differentiated brand now more than ever and that means something. And the world has come to W in a lot of ways, which we’re benefiting from; this is our third year of consecutive growth, in both print and digital, since I’ve been here, while most in the industry are declining. It’s the fifth year of growth since Stefano has been here. And that’s really important.

So, this brand has had consistent growth across all platforms and also growth in audience and relevance and that’s something that we’re really proud of. We’re the only brand in the competitive set to show print growth in paging and share this year. And obviously, we’re growing exponentially in digital, but the job has changed and it’s changed from when I was a salesperson 15 years ago to publisher, but in a good way. It’s very exciting.

Samir Husni: Literally, W Magazine stands apart from the competition…

W Kristen Stewart Cover Sept 2011 Lucy Kriz: (Laughs) Literally; based on its size.

Samir Husni: (Laughs too) Based on its size. How do you use the uniqueness of the magazine’s size to your advantage when selling W? Or do you?

Lucy Kriz: When I came here, in a way I always felt like being different, oversized, bold, and provocative; that was our greatest strength, because every consumer and marketer wants to stand out. And our brand position and value proposition is “escape ordinary.” So, what does that mean?

There’s a sea of sameness in media and you can really look across the digital landscape certainly, it’s been commoditized enough, and even in magazines, and you don’t even know what anyone stands for anymore. And W has always been memorable. And so I absolutely use our oversized format and our bold editorial to sell. And to make sure that we’re highlighting that it’s really about the consumer who engages with the magazine because they love our editorial and believe it offers something different. And that audience is so desirable that it’s easy to bring that to a client, so how I then create the package is where the magic happens, right? But absolutely, I take our oversized format and our differentiation to market successfully.

Stefano Tonchi: It starts with the content and I think that we have a very specific point of view that is not only edgy and provocative, but very often it’s really like the insider point of view. Mr. Fairchild (John Fairchild – former editor-in-chief of Women’s Wear Daily and founder of W magazine), was obsessed with being an insider and with being first too. And he really wanted to have a voyeuristic look into the life of the rich and famous, for example his obsession with Jackie O. and the paparazzi and with what she was doing, what she was wearing; how she would keep herself beautiful and where she would go on holiday. And that was his attitude.

And interestingly enough, that is very much the attitude over the Internet, but we’ll go there when it’s time. (Laughs) I think that is really like the social set and the social scene; an insider point of view into that scene is like the core, the DNA of the magazine.

What I think has happened in the last 20 years, after Mr. Fairchild left his position as editor-in-chief of the magazine, is that the visuals also took a very important part of the DNA, especially a provocative type of photography. Fashion photography, portraiture, I think art photography; they all came together to define this brand in a new and different way. And through the 1990s, it really took on a strong personality.

It’s the first magazine where people like Steven Meisel, Mario Testino and Mario Sorrenti; like the most important 10 living photographers started their careers in W. Still today, I think it’s a magazine that has a strong recognition in the photography and art communities.

What I’ve done in the five years that I’ve been here is to maybe clarify our stand in the cultural context because sure, there’s always been a lot of art in the magazine, but there was never an art issue in December and two art issues every year and structured in a certain way. The same way we always had; W has a great tradition of covering Hollywood, it’s not that I invented anything, but they did inherit something called the Golden Globe issue that is kind of the opening of the Oscar season. And we made it really like something straight out of the awards. It’s probably our most important business proposition somehow, the Golden Globe Week and our presence.

We really push the Hollywood scene. I hire people like Lynn Hirschberg from The New York Times; I met her, and she has been my partner and is probably the best-known and most respected, for sure one of the most controversial, Hollywood journalists around today. She’s a great writer and has an incredible nose for what’s happening in pop culture today. She came to me and she said, ‘We have to do Kim Kardashian because the world of TV is changing, it’s all about reality TV, most of the programming is going to reality,’ and this was six years ago. I followed her clearly; I took my risk and we were early and everybody else followed.

We became very close with David Fincher and we did Rooney Mara on the cover. My first cover five years ago had Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence on it, two of the hottest actresses of that moment. And last April we had Alicia Vikander, she has seven movies coming out this year. She’s one of the hottest actresses today and we put her on the cover before anyone else.

We can take those risks, because in my mind, we don’t have to sell millions of copies at the newsstand; we’re very specific, but we also know who to put on the cover. We can take risks, but we take the right risks, I would say, and those risks have been paying off. Most of our covers really start conversations or they are of people who people do not know, but they soon discover them in a big way. Or we show people they do know in ways they’ve never seen them before. Take Jessica Chastain in the last cover that we did of her and it received so much exposure. Or the ones of Jane Fonda or the so many surprising women we have featured.

Samir Husni: Has this five-year journey been all smooth sailing or have you had some
choppy seas along the way?

Stefano Tonchi: Every year you have to prove what you can do. It was very hard at the beginning because I didn’t have the full knowledge of the magazine. The DNA of the magazine was very diluted and there was a lot of misunderstanding in what W meant and people were very confused about the magazine. It took a good two years and Lucy arrived at the right time and we have gone through a lot of problems, because when I took this magazine, it was at the lowest possible point it had ever been, so that was a marketing problem, but it was also a positioning and financial problem, just a lot of problems in a lot of areas. I was seduced by the history of the magazine, but it did have problems when I first arrived.

David Granger said something very interesting once, I don’t know if he said it in the interview you did with him too. But he said, ‘Sometimes your past is your worst enemy.’ So, everybody when I took this job at W five years ago could only remember the 1,000-page advertising issue or the great Brad and Angelina issue, they all had those in mind.

Lucy Kriz: The truth is this brand has so much life in it, with consumers and certainly with the industry. Stefano has really hit the ball out of the park over the last few years, just refining that vision and going back to our roots.

Now, that we’re incredibly successful, the challenge is how do we continue to keep this beautiful print product special and continue the growth? I believe we absolutely have runway in print, despite the decline in the overall print market, and we’ll scale digitally. And that’s really what’s exciting for both of us because we’ve achieved such great success in the past five years and there’s so much brand love. When we look at various studies and data about our readers and brand awareness; if they know us, they love us. So, how do we spread the brand love and how do we scale? And that’s been a really fun and exciting challenge for us.

Samir Husni: Lucy, has it been a beautiful rose garden for you, since you came after Stefano?

Lucy Kriz: I would say that I’ve never been happier in my life to be out in the market with this product. Is it a rose garden? I would say yes. When I can walk into any one of our partners, certainly in the luxury space, and now Coach’s, we’re one of their biggest partners, because they know that we have a really desirable consumer market, and to be honest, that particular consumer; we have more of them. So, it isn’t a struggle, it’s a joy and we love what we do. We are one of the only print magazines to really maintain a print audience as well so the audience is not declared in the same way either; certainly digital is leading a lot of audience growth, social in particular. It’s very exciting for us.

It’s interesting as far as spending power; I think we have the number one most affluent consumer and the most influential. When you’re talking about bringing a consumer to a marketing partner who is that desirable; it’s a pretty powerful proposition.

The challenge now is how do we expand on that partnership and bring it into digital and bring it into more of a 360-type relationship.

Stefano Tonchi: The last year has been incredibly interesting from my point of view and I would say that Lucy would probably agree, because we’ve kind of reached a great place when it comes to print. I think we have, I always say, the mothers of mothers; we have a very solid audience of women and some men who love this magazine and they’re very in touch with it. They understand what it is and they want more of it, but W isn’t for everybody, so in that group of audience I think we have them with us.

But suddenly we have exploded on social media; we have exploded with a completely new generation and I ask myself, do they know this is a magazine? What they love are the images. The images and the stories that we tell; they love the way we photograph people and the way we report even from the street, because our editors, especially the young ones, or the ones that are doing the social media, have a point of view. They show things from the main side. It’s never like the obvious. Not your usual picture of a cat or something. It’s always somebody in a provocative pose; there are a lot of celebrities in places and in ways that you don’t expect.

Our audience is 1.4 million in print and 7 million total with print, digital and social. It just exploded on digital. In one year, we’ve reached the top five in our building for Instagram followers. Why, because premium imagery means something, certainly on that front and content is king even on the Internet.

We have that generation that knows and loves paper, that generation of people who have grown up with W and they’ve had the magazine in their families forever. But now suddenly, we also have a new generation that I don’t think necessarily relates to the magazine, they’re really just in love with the images, totally mobile; they get our content on social media. So, our questions are how are we going to monetize that and how are we going to understand this audience and make them basically addicted readers or users, however you want to call them, but in a completely different media.

But the quality and the tone of the content is the same; it’s just delivered in different ways. You customize this content that we know on paper in the way that serves that specific platform. We may have a series of photographs on Instagram; a series of quotes on Twitter; we’ll show videos on Periscope; a mood board on Tumblr, and so on. And who knows what else is coming. We think we know, but Snapchat wasn’t around even two years ago, so who knows what’s next. It’s about customizing our DNA, our history and bringing it into the places where our readers are already, social media, and at the times and in the ways that they want to see it.

Lucy Kriz: And ultimately, this isn’t about reaching everyone even there. We’ve done market sizing and we know that we have a young, affluent audience now, we’re at number one with that and we’re trusted. And so how do we take some of the unexpected risks, taking the bold imagery that we do in print and then scale it across digital, making sure that we’re serving content to the right people, on the right platform. And that’s a fun thing for us to do and with our plans we expect to scale significantly within those target audiences of affluent millennials, culturally connected, those fashion and style enthusiasts.

Samir Husni: Can you ever imagine yourself editing W without the print edition?

Stefano Tonchi: I think that’s something that could happen; that’s like asking a film director if he could see himself directing movies only on Netflix, but why not? I think it has a lot to do with what digital media will offer as a platform. I believe there are a lot of new platforms that will come up. People didn’t think about TV as cable or premium, then suddenly it’s all about premium TV.

Everybody thought that serialization was the way to go, a little bit every week; suddenly we all look at shows, five episodes in a row or the whole season in one night. I think science and technology could really change our proposition, so yes, I can see myself working on digital media. Can I see myself just doing Instagram? That would be hard. (Laughs) But who knows what else digital technology will offer us.

There is so much happening. We’re in the middle of a huge revolution. We don’t even know where we’ll go. And at the same time, hopefully, and I really hope that the magazine on paper will not disappear. I think it will probably become more and more precious and something that we’ll want to hold onto since it offers something very special as an important object like a book.

Even books I think somehow on the one side are disappearing, but on the other side you have all of these photo books and large format-type books that are exploding everywhere. So, you’re living this contradiction of yes, we want to read a quick novel on our Kindle or iPad, on our digital device, but if you want to hold that book, you take an edition that actually has a hard cover and it’s tangible in your hands and actually tells a lot about who you are and your place in society, because it becomes a signifier. It’s very important. What you have on your coffee table is significant.

Samir Husni: Part of the DNA of W is the nudity; with Playboy removing its nudity, is W going to be the last standing magazine to maintain it?

Stefano Tonchi: I think what they’re doing is playing devil’s advocate. They remove it from the print pages and put it all online or something. It’s a bit like playing a game on that.

But we never do anything to provoke just for the sake of provoking. We’re not in the business of scandal; we’re not that kind of publication. What we do is really express the conscience of the time we live in and I think there have been times, especially in the 1990s, with certain kinds of images; W was there first. We worked with photographers who were expressing a sensibility of the moment.

We will follow wherever the culture and the social conversation takes us. We’ll cover up if that’s the conversation or we’ll undress if that’s the conversation. We are moved really by the creativity of our contributors. In the end, I’m very lucky to work with a lot of photographers, writers and stylists who are geniuses in their own right. They’re artists in their own right. And as all artists, they feel things, sometimes even unconsciously, before we rationalize them. Sometimes I see pictures or I see stories that express a feeling of happiness or frustration that is very much the feeling of the moment in a certain cultural environment. I don’t use boundaries when it comes to expression.

Lucy Kriz: There is a lot of creative freedom at W.

Samir Husni: If you look at most of the fashion magazines overseas, nudity is part of the equation. But when it comes to the United States; we are much more conservative. Does that have any impact on advertising? Has any advertiser ever said they were pulling their ad because of the nudity? Recently, Norm Pearlstine at the Folio show told us that 300 people canceled their subscriptions to Cooking Light because it has Michelle Obama on the cover. And that was the first time ever they had an actual person on the cover. And 300 people canceled their subscriptions.

Lucy Kriz: That’s interesting because it’s also about what the audience expects and about whom they are and are they curious and global. You’re talking about who our audience is, right? We’ve always been provocative and our audience is super-curious, they expect to be surprised and delighted.

And our advertisers are also interesting because the people that we work with want to be on the leading-edge. They come to W for a reason. There are some advertisers who don’t love our content and that’s OK. They can keep their money because there are more advertisers and we have great, great partnerships, who want to be a part of the culture conversation. What we did is we always put something in cultural contacts and we did something called “Privacy Settings” recently, which was a shoot with several top models, and it was certainly provocative and it created a cultural moment. And I don’t know many brands or publications that could create that kind of moment and “Nipplegate,” Chrissy Teigen, was a moment. And that was a big deal.

Stefano Tonchi: We started a conversation about whether Instagram should have censorship or not.

Lucy Kriz: This is a big deal in social media, should pictures be censored. Why is it OK for men and not women? I think that we as a brand feel very strongly about freedom of expression and creativity and I know Stefano gives his photographers a lot of elasticity. I don’t want to speak for him, but advertisers that we work with believe that is part of their brand ethos as well and feel very strongly that the consumer this content attracts is that culture creator consumer that is so powerful to them. And to convert that culture creator consumer for their brand is really important.

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

Flipping through the pages of Westuff

Flipping through the pages of Westuff

Stefano Tonchi: I would say quickly, touching on diversity, that’s also part of our DNA too, in terms of how the magazine relates to different cultures and how it also presents many points of view. This is not a magazine that has one vision. I really let my editors express their personalities; I think that’s very important.

It’s a magazine that has a lot of personalities and people who come from all over the world, so that’s kind of our way of being really diverse. We’re not only different, but really diverse inside our editorial content. It’s not about quota; it’s not about being politically correct; it’s really about an environment of multi-opinions and a magazine that offers a lot of points of view and actually cultivates those types of people with points of view and opinions. It’s never about fitting in; it’s about standing out. And that’s something that I believe in and that we try to do with every issue.

We also want to surprise. One of my missions is to surprise. You cannot just deliver the same package over and over. Diversity and you have to have a certain constant consistency of values, but really every month you have to surprise, every week and every day.

Samir Husni: What motivates you to get out of bed every morning and say it’s going to be a great day?

Stefano Tonchi: I’m very curious. I think curiosity is the most undervalued quality in people. A new exhibition, seeing what’s in the paper for that day; I’m just very curious about everything. What makes me get up every morning is questioning and discovering all the new things that the day might bring.

Samir Husni: Lucy, what gets you out of bed?

Lucy Kriz: My kids wake me up in the mornings. And I run to work every day. I have to say; I run to work.

Samir Husni: Hopefully, you don’t live in New Jersey. (Laughs)

Lucy Kriz: (Laughs too) No, I live here in the city. And I’ve never been more invigorated by what I do and what’s happening in the industry. We’re meeting these challenges head-on. We want to stay true to our DNA, which is bold and provocative and risk-taking.

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

Stefano Tonchi: My kids very often. (Laughs) I don’t necessarily bring home my problems. The last couple of years have been very positive at the magazine. Clearly, I think a lot about how to bring this content to a new generation and how to keep our signature and our content branded, so that people understand that it comes from us, it’s not free, and that there are people who work very hard to make that happen.

What worries me is that there is a lot of the younger generation who are used to getting everything for free on their phones or the web. They don’t understand how difficult it actually is to create good journalism, and when I talk about good journalism, I mean great stories and great interviews and great pictures, because to make that actress or that artist do something, you need a relationship, an investment and time and talent; it’s a lot of work to create one of our cover images. There is really a little army of people who work on them. I’m talking about talent, time and passion. It’s not just something that magically happens and then appears on the covers. And it’s perfect.

Samir Husni: Lucy, what keeps you up at night?

Lucy Kriz: The question that keeps me up at night is how do we be as bold and provocative in digital as we are in print, because we’re not interested in doing what everyone else is doing. And we have a plan in place to do that. We love to foster innovation here at W and we support our teams and it’s an exciting moment for this brand. And there is going to be a lot more to come. It’s just a really great time.

Samir Husni: Thank you both.

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Cannabis Now Magazine: Bringing A Higher Level Of Conversation And Entertainment To The Cannabis Industry – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Eugenio Garcia, Co-Founder & Publisher, Cannabis Now Magazine

October 23, 2015

“How can you be relevant if you’re a print publication when you have to be able to bring all the information together, digest it, make it pretty and distribute it? The print publication is I would say a quarter of our business. The media aspect of it – the web presence, the mobile app, the videos – they all support the now, the immediacy of the information. But the print publication puts it into a medium that is coming back into popularity. I think in the last 10 years for publications there has been a downtrend of desire for print publications. But, specifically for niche focuses and for connoisseurs, having that print medium is a fundamental need in the core business.” Eugenio Garcia

Cannabis Now 1-1 The cannabis industry is booming as the laws begin to change in the United States regarding legalization of the plant for more than just medicinal reasons. Many states are lifting the veil on the usages of cannabis for recreation, while still touting its benefits for assistance with many illnesses, such as epilepsy and cancer. Some people say that within 10 years cannabis will be legal from coast to coast. Whether that’s true or not, remains to be seen. But one truth that never changes is that magazines are the reflectors of our society. And the cannabis industry is no exception as publications about the plant, the lifestyle and the business of growing it, have begun to be plentiful on newsstands across the country.

One that stands out above many of the others is Cannabis Now, which according to co-founder and publisher, Eugenio Garcia, brings cannabis to a higher level in any conversation. I spoke with Eugenio recently about the magazine and he shared with me many interesting facets of the brand, such as Cannabis Now was the first cannabis magazine in the world for sale on iTunes and one of the few distributed in Barnes & Noble. And a little history about how the magazine was started in 2012, when after Montana abruptly made it illegal for marijuana companies to advertise, Cannabis Now quickly shifted into the national market. Eugenio oversaw the expansion, helping Cannabis Now become the first magazine since the 1970s to successfully reach across the nation. In the process, he brought the magazine’s social media reach from 35,000 in August 2013 to 3.5 million followers in August 2015 — and according to Eugenio, made its Facebook page the largest interactive media page about marijuana in the world.

Worthy accomplishments for a young man who has been a long-time advocate for cannabis and an entrepreneur since he began working as a cannabis industry consultant in 2008.

So, I hope you enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Eugenio Garcia – even though it isn’t actually 420. It’s always the right time for a great magazine story.

But first, the sound-bites:


Eugenio Garcia On his ‘Aha” moment that gave him the idea for Cannabis Now:
The ‘Aha’ moment came from the fact that I was a political science graduate with a minor in business. I was constantly looking for an opportunity. Here in Montana, I believe it was in 2004, when the laws changed and medical cannabis became legal. In 2010, I was living in San Francisco, and I had a close friend who was doing some growing of cannabis in Montana so I brought him back a publication called the West Coast Leaf, which was a newspaper-type publication that was focused on cannabis. I brought it to him as a gift, and it was he who actually came up with the concept in a moment saying, ‘We should have a medical cannabis journal for the rocky mountain region.’ That was the ‘Aha’ moment and we put out two publications that were focused to be a quarterly for the rocky mountain region.

On his plan to become one of the top 100 magazines in the nation: Well, we built a foundation, a core group of about 10 passionate professionals in our core team that work on the day-to-day, and then we’ve accumulated a group of over 200 to 300 photographers, contributors, activists, politicians, who contribute to our magazine. We’ve developed the core base from which to build upon, and define our brand image, our quality standards, and our tone.

On the DNA of the magazine and its mission statement:
The DNA and editorial mission of the magazine is to educate, enlighten, and entertain. So, it’s really a three-tiered focus, which is fundamentally based on articles to bring education, first and foremost, to the readers. The demand for information is at the highest level. We also want to enlighten, so we want to bring a higher level of understanding about cannabis and the industry to the nation and the world. And we also want to entertain.

On whether he’s trying to reach both the business and consumer communities with the magazine:
Fundamentally, we are going after the end user. The business user, business leader is a natural by-product. Because we are in a very heightened level of transition in this space, there is more focus on the business than will be in the future just because of the acceleration.

On why he thinks Cannabis Now in a print publication is the best resource for immediate information on cannabis:
How can you be relevant if you’re a print publication when you have to be able to bring all the information together, digest it, make it pretty and distribute it? The print publication is I would say a quarter of our business. The media aspect of it – the web presence, the mobile app, the videos – they all support the now, the immediacy of the information. But the print publication puts it into a medium that is coming back into popularity. The print magazine is not the all-encompassing of what Cannabis Now is, but it’s a complement. Sometimes there is immediate, news-breaking stuff happening right now, and we will throw that up on our website right away.

On how Cannabis Now is different from High Times, Skunk and Marijuana Venture magazines:
You bring up three different magazines that actually operate in three different spaces in the larger dynamic, that being cannabis. High Times is a national publication focused on what they call the counter-culture, on what some classify as the aggressive smoker. The differentiation there is that we are looking at a user who is not so committed to that lifestyle, but they are committed to cannabis, which we believe is the greater population right now. The differentiation between Cannabis Now and High Times, the feedback that has been given to us, is that the conversations that we’re having are at a higher level, a more investigative level, and a more mature, for lack of a better word, model. For the other publications like Skunk, it is an international magazine; I believe they are published out of Canada. They are very focused on growing, and also a little bit of that counter-culture. As far as the last publication that you mentioned, that is a trade magazine and falls into the category of free regional publications that are being distributed in force.

On whether maintaining that higher level of conversation makes his job easier or harder:
(Laughs) Well, if you go to McDonald’s, it’s going to be somewhat easy to put the hamburger together and if you go to the Michelin Starred Steakhouse!, the job is going to be harder but more rewarding. Our challenge is how do we put out a high level product, while still keeping the cost down and the price low? A subscription right now for our magazine is $30 per year and $7.99 on the shelf. And our challenge over the next two years is to bring that price significantly down and not only for the magazine subscriptions, but for the apps which we’re going to be launching and our memberships too.

On the 420 Goody Box: The 420 Goody Box is a partner that we have teamed up with; he’s actually a family friend who got into the industry after we started. And we’re actually working together. The 420 Goody Box purchases Cannabis Now, so the magazine is in their Goody Box, and they have a membership service where for a small amount of money you can receive a box full of cannabis-related items every single month that they source at a low cost.

On whether they test out everything in the magazine:
Absolutely. We battle over this all of the time in our meetings. We always come into situations at the most basic level of when we do product reviews. I’m actually on the left-hand side of things; I say, ‘Can’t we review this product without actually reviewing it?’ whether it’s a pipe or an edible or a piece of clothing. And our editorial staff is actually a good checks-and-balance for me as a publisher because they say, ‘Absolutely not.’ Everything needs to be vetted; all the sources need to be crosschecked and we’re not going to review anything that hasn’t been tasted or smoked or used by somebody that has the reference to give us.

On where he sees Cannabis Now and the entire media brand one year from now:
I would say that a year from now I would like to see us with at least a minimum of 400,000 magazines in circulation. I’d like for us to have an interactive online app, which has a minimum of 100,000 members that is able to produce media content that is rich with news and entertainment and video content.

On his most pleasant moment throughout his Cannabis Now journey:
One of the most rewarding long-term is the emotional and loving feedback that we get from readers, whether it’s mothers who are trying to cure their kids of epilepsy with cannabis or individuals who have chronic pain and are treating it with cannabis or just people who want to use it recreationally and have been scared for 10 years because of the laws. They’re all coming to us and saying thank you so much for putting out a magazine that we can actually read. There’s been nothing for us to read ever and thank you so much for it. Getting that kind of love back; that happens every day.

On why Cannabis Now for the title, rather than Marijuana Now:
We actually had a long week of trying to come up with our name. Are you aware of Cannabis Culture magazine? It’s no longer a print publication because Mark Emery was in jail so long, but we were actually not aware of Cannabis Culture when we started our magazine, so we were all excited about having the name Cannabis Culture, but then we quickly realized that it was already taken. So, cannabis is the closest, most accurate word for the plant. We want to bring the readers into what’s happening now with Cannabis Now. We don’t want them to have to spend a week researching it on the Internet or an hour flogging away. We want them to be able to read it right then in our publication.

On anything else he’d like to add:
All that I’d like to add is that we are in the most exciting time that I have witnessed as far as a change. I’ve never seen something like this happening. I look at the tech boom, the industrial revolution, just all of these different paradigm shifts. This is a paradigm shift and maybe only five come around in a century. The Slow Food movement is another paradigm shift. It’s such a pleasure to be a part of it and so rewarding to be able to be accepted. This paradigm shift is only going to happen once and to be involved in it at this level has been a true pleasure and a really humbling honor.

On what keeps him up at night:
Competition. Where there’s opportunity, there’s going to be talented people, thinking about how they can do it better, faster and cheaper. And I like I said; we’re a small fish swimming in a big ocean and I’m not worried about a bigger fish swallowing us up; acquisitions happen, that’s part of business. What I’m worried about is being swept away by the current and not being able to keep up with the school.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Eugenio Garcia, co-founder and publisher of Cannabis Now Magazine.

Samir Husni: Let’s start from the very beginning. You created Cannabis Now almost five years ago. What was the thinking behind your decision? Were you a futurist? Were you seeing things happening in that marketplace? What gave you the idea or that moment of conception where you said ‘Aha?’

Cannabis Now 2-2 Eugenio Garcia: The ‘Aha’ moment came from the fact that I was a political science graduate with a minor in business. I was constantly looking for an opportunity. Here in Montana, I believe it was in 2004, when the laws changed and medical cannabis became legal. In 2010, I was living in San Francisco, and I had a close friend who was doing some growing of cannabis in Montana so I brought him back a publication called the West Coast Leaf, which was a newspaper-type publication that was focused on cannabis.

I brought it to him as a gift, and it was he who actually came up with the concept in a moment saying, ‘We should have a medical cannabis journal for the rocky mountain region.’ That was the ‘Aha’ moment and we put out two publications that were focused to be a quarterly for the rocky mountain region. Subsequently, the laws changed dramatically after our second issue in Montana, causing no cannabis businesses to be allowed to advertise. We lost our entire business overnight. We had to make the decision to accelerate our growth probably four years ahead of schedule and move our offices to Berkeley and go national. We decided to transition quickly to Berkeley and submitted our third publication to Barnes & Noble. Once we were accepted at Barnes & Noble; we saw our sell-through become double the industry average. I would say that was when I said ‘Aha, we have the potential to be a top 100 magazine in the nation.’

Samir Husni: Now, with things changing even more, what is your plan to really become one of those top 100 magazines in the nation?

Eugenio Garcia: Well, we built a foundation, a core group of about 10 passionate professionals in our core team that work on the day-to-day, and then we’ve accumulated a group of over 200 to 300 photographers, contributors, activists, politicians, who contribute to our magazine. We’ve developed the core base from which to build upon, and define our brand image, our quality standards, and our tone. Now we are doing a seed round of investments from which we will start to wrap up our distribution, expand our web presence, develop our app from which to have a platform for not only our publication, but also our multi-media venture for Cannabis Now.

Samir Husni: Lets go a little bit backwards, for people who don’t know about Cannabis Now, tell me about the DNA of the magazine. What are you offering? What is your mission statement? What are you trying to accomplish with this magazine?

Eugenio Garcia: The DNA and editorial mission of the magazine is to educate, enlighten, and entertain. So, it’s really a three-tiered focus, which is fundamentally based on articles to bring education, first and foremost, to the readers. The demand for information is at the highest level. We also want to enlighten, so we want to bring a higher level of understanding about cannabis and the industry to the nation and the world. And we also want to entertain. I think it’s really important to be entertained, not everyone is a scholar. In order to capture attention and to give the opportunity for them to be engaged, you need to put in a medium that is entertaining. That is really what differentiates us, and which has really caused our leaders to gravitate toward our publication. Cannabis Now’s focus is to bring a higher level of conversation and entertainment to the cannabis enthusiast.

Samir Husni: Are you trying to reach both the business community and the consumer community?

Eugenio Garcia: Fundamentally, we are going after the end user. The business user, business leader is a natural by-product. Because we are in a very heightened level of transition in this space, there is more focus on the business than will be in the future just because of the acceleration. We are Cannabis Now and our job is to highlight what is happening now because the business aspect of the space is growing so rapidly you’re going to see a lot more of that in our editorial coverage right now. We are not a trade publication; we are more focused on the end user.

Samir Husni: Your tagline is the future of cannabis is happening now, with the focus on now. Do you think a print publication is the best way to curate all that information? When people can go to the web or their mobile phones and get all that information at their fingertips? What makes a print publication the source for what is happening in Cannabis Now?

Eugenio Garcia: How can you be relevant if you’re a print publication when you have to be able to bring all the information together, digest it, make it pretty and distribute it? The print publication is I would say a quarter of our business. The media aspect of it – the web presence, the mobile app, the videos – they all support the now, the immediacy of the information. But the print publication puts it into a medium that is coming back into popularity. I think in the last 10 years for publications there has been a downtrend of desire for print publications. But, specifically for niche focuses and for connoisseurs, having that print medium is a fundamental need in the core business.

The print magazine is not the all-encompassing of what Cannabis Now is, but it’s a complement. Sometimes there is immediate, news-breaking stuff happening right now, and we will throw that up on our website right away. Then there is also more investigative journalism pieces that not only will we put on our website and make it available digitally through our app, and at the same time will be available in print for people to read in comfort and to archive.

Samir Husni: If you go to an advertiser and are trying to get an ad for the magazine, if somebody asks you, ‘How are you different than High Times, Marijuana Venture or Skunk?’ what is your point of differentiation?

Eugenio Garcia: You bring up three different magazines that actually operate in three different spaces in the larger dynamic, that being cannabis. High Times is a national publication focused on what they call the counter-culture, on what some classify as the aggressive smoker. The differentiation there is that we are looking at a user who is not so committed to that lifestyle, but they are committed to cannabis, which we believe is the greater population right now. The differentiation between Cannabis Now and High Times, the feedback that has been given to us, is that the conversations that we’re having are at a higher level, a more investigative level, and a more mature, for lack of a better word, model.

On the inside of the industry, just to give you some insight, a lot of the feedback we are getting from advertisers is that High Times is not focused on their magazine, it’s not their priority. They are focused on their Cannabis Cups, so a lot of the interactions and relationships that are fundamental between an advertiser and a publisher are not being taken care of or conducted in the spirit at which the industry is at right now. And that’s just the feedback we’re getting from our advertisers. So if an advertiser asks me, ‘Why should we advertise with you?’ not only would I talk about our high level of conversation, but I would also talk about that we are more focused on the advertisers than potentially High Times is right now.

For the other publications like Skunk, it is an international magazine; I believe they are published out of Canada. They are very focused on growing, and also a little bit of that counter-culture. They were actually just purchased, I believe, or acquired by a much larger parent company, so I don’t know if they have the DNA and the spirit and the special sauce at which a publication might need right now to communicate as dynamically as we have the potential too. I have to say I’m a big fan of both High Times and Skunk Magazines. As far as the last publication that you mentioned, that is a trade magazine and falls into the category of free regional publications that are being distributed in force. Also another magazine we are big fans of is Dope Magazine, that’s a Seattle free publication. Culture Magazine is another free publication, which is also going after the counter-culture individual and hasn’t really been able to break through to that higher level of conversation.

What I’m most proud of for our team is that we have been able to tap into that vein of higher level conversation, which nobody else is doing in the world right now.

Samir Husni: Having said that, does that make your job easier or tougher?

Eugenio Garcia: (Laughs) Well, if you go to McDonald’s, it’s going to be somewhat easy to put the hamburger together and if you go to the Michelin Starred Steakhouse! the job is going to be harder but more rewarding.

Our challenge is how do we put out a high level product, while still keeping the cost down and the price low? A subscription right now for our magazine is $30 per year and $7.99 on the shelf. And our challenge over the next two years is to bring that price significantly down and not only for the magazine subscriptions, but for the apps which we’re going to be launching and our memberships too. So for the services that we provide and for that quality to remain high while still not having it cost a lot for the end-user will be our challenge. But that’s the challenge for any business, I believe.

Samir Husni: Would you rather see your competition go up in smoke, no pun intended, or you’d like to join them in the bigger ocean?

Eugenio Garcia: I think there’s a lot of room for media and for publications, but I would like for us to be the leader. I think it’s a responsibility to lead. High Times has been a leader in this space for a long time, but now the space has changed. And with leadership comes a responsibility. And I trust that we are responsible to communicate this message the way that it should be. And we won’t mess it up.

Samir Husni: I see ads in magazines about the 420 lifestyle…

Eugenio Garcia: Pay attention to the 420 because the cultural aspect; you just wouldn’t believe. The 3½ million fans that Cannabis Now has on Facebook is indicative of how passionate this industry is, so the 420 lifestyle and the 420 thought process; pay attention to that because that’s a big part of what’s going on. And also pay attention to what’s happening in Israel, the biochemistry, the science, the medicine; it’s blowing up on both ends. The cultural 420 thing is blowing up, but also the business and medicinal science is going toe-to-toe with it.

Samir Husni: What’s your 420 Goody Box?

Eugenio Garcia: The 420 Goody Box is a partner that we have teamed up with; he’s actually a family friend who got into the industry after we started. And we’re actually working together. The 420 Goody Box purchases Cannabis Now, so the magazine is in their Goody Box, and they have a membership service where for a small amount of money you can receive a box full of cannabis-related items every single month that they source at a low cost. So, they’re able to source the products at a lower cost than when you buy the items traditionally at retail stores. And they also put together the ensemble instead of you having to shop them, so different businesses, not connected, but partners for fun.

Samir Husni: I have to ask this question; is everything in the magazine tested? Do you have like a Good Housekeeping test kitchen?

Eugenio Garcia: Absolutely. We battle over this all of the time in our meetings. We always come into situations at the most basic level of when we do product reviews. I’m actually on the left-hand side of things; I say, ‘Can’t we review this product without actually reviewing it?’ whether it’s a pipe or an edible or a piece of clothing. And our editorial staff is actually a good checks-and-balance for me as a publisher because they say, ‘Absolutely not.’ Everything needs to be vetted; all the sources need to be crosschecked and we’re not going to review anything that hasn’t been tasted or smoked or used by somebody that has the reference to give us.

And I’m glad you brought that up because that’s actually one of the strongest feedback that we get from our readers and our clients, is that you can tell that the information has been vetted and source-checked and properly investigated, which is rare.

Samir Husni: Did you ever lose any of your staff after testing?

Cannabis Now 3-3 Eugenio Garcia: No, they’re the ones who are challenging me not to just push things through, whether it’s a story or a product review or whatever it is; they’re committed to excellence. The brand image of Cannabis Now is that we’re the highest level voice out there and so people need to trust us. You break the trust once; they read something or we say, ‘Hey, this is the best pipe around,’ and they get it in the mail and it’s a piece of crap, we’ve lost that customer for life.

Samir Husni: Where do you see yourself and the magazine or the media brand as a whole one year from now?

Eugenio Garcia: I would say that a year from now I would like to see us with at least a minimum of 400,000 magazines in circulation. I’d like for us to have an interactive online app, which has a minimum of 100,000 members that is able to produce media content that is rich with news and entertainment and video content.

I also see us producing documentaries, publishing books and potentially working on some higher level media like network television, interaction for cannabis; I believe that a demand for video content is extreme.

So a year from now we’re just going to be getting into all that. Right now we’re fundamentally focused on expanding our print publication, but we will be transitioning into the media aspect as we stabilize the print product.

Samir Husni: What’s your print circulation now?

Eugenio Garcia: Right now we have 50,000 in circulation. That’s a combination of the digital downloads of our app and our print magazine at 20,000. We’re just a baby fish swimming in a big ocean.

Samir Husni: (Laughs) But it’s a very beautiful fish.

Eugenio Garcia: Thank you, and a fast, lean fish. (Laughs too) Having a small group of ten, with editorial, sales and everybody included; whenever we have professionals over to our office, they always marvel. We have three in the office space and they always marvel, ‘Wow, we can’t believe you put out this quality product with just limited resources.’ I always say, ‘Yeah, I can’t believe it either.’ (Laughs)

Samir Husni: The major stumbling block for you had to be, as you mentioned, when they changed the laws and you had to move to California. But what has been the most pleasant moment throughout your Cannabis Now journey?

Eugenio Garcia: One of the most rewarding long-term is the emotional and loving feedback that we get from readers, whether it’s mothers who are trying to cure their kids of epilepsy with cannabis or individuals who have chronic pain and are treating it with cannabis or just people who want to use it recreationally and have been scared for 10 years because of the laws. They’re all coming to us and saying thank you so much for putting out a magazine that we can actually read. There’s been nothing for us to read ever and thank you so much for it. Getting that kind of love back; that happens every day.

Being the entrepreneur that I am, I’ll answer your question in a more business way. Being accepted to iTunes was big for us. We were the first magazine in the world to be accepted to iTunes. And I think it was a reflection of the fact that iTunes had rejected cannabis magazines for years and cannabis media for years because of the stigma. And we were able to show them that cannabis can be communicated in a higher level way that’s appropriate for their brand image. So basically, what I got from that was Apple saying that their brand is OK with our brand, which validated what we’re doing. And it was great.

Samir Husni: Forgive my ignorance, why Cannabis Now and not Marijuana Now?

Eugenio Garcia: (Laughs) We actually had a long week of trying to come up with our name. Are you aware of Cannabis Culture magazine?

Samir Husni: Yes.

Eugenio Garcia: It’s no longer a print publication because Mark Emery was in jail so long, but we were actually not aware of Cannabis Culture when we started our magazine, so we were all excited about having the name Cannabis Culture, but then we quickly realized that it was already taken.

So, cannabis is the closest, most accurate word for the plant. Marijuana has a strong history, coming from the Spanish derivation ‘marihuana’ which we actually believe for the historical purposes came into being around the early 1940s and 1950s. It’s a derogatory word from the historical context, but now it’s more mainstream. Most people don’t know the history behind the word has strong connotations that we didn’t want to be associated with and cannabis seemed like a more positive and accurate term for the medium.

We want to bring the readers into what’s happening now with Cannabis Now. We don’t want them to have to spend a week researching it on the Internet or an hour flogging away. We want them to be able to read it right then in our publication.

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

Eugenio Garcia: All that I’d like to add is that we are in the most exciting time that I have witnessed as far as a change. I’ve never seen something like this happening. I look at the tech boom, the industrial revolution, just all of these different paradigm shifts. This is a paradigm shift and maybe only five come around in a century. The Slow Food movement is another paradigm shift.

It’s such a pleasure to be a part of it and so rewarding to be able to be accepted. This paradigm shift is only going to happen once and to be involved in it at this level has been a true pleasure and a really humbling honor. I just hope that we can do it at the level of where it should be at. Just appreciation to the community and everyone who has embraced us and we look forward to expanding our reach.

There are a million potential readers out there who haven’t heard of Cannabis Now and I really look forward to growing to a level where we can introduce ourselves to them.

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

Eugenio Garcia: Competition. Where there’s opportunity, there’s going to be talented people, thinking about how they can do it better, faster and cheaper. And I like I said; we’re a small fish swimming in a big ocean and I’m not worried about a bigger fish swallowing us up; acquisitions happen, that’s part of business. What I’m worried about is being swept away by the current and not being able to keep up with the school. I think that’s part of why we’re raising equity capital right now is to be able to make that needed expansion.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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NewBeauty Magazine Reinvents Itself After 10 Years With Fresh Editorial & A New Design – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Yolanda Yoh Bucher, Chief Content Officer & Editor-In-Chief

October 21, 2015

“When I look at another reason magazines aren’t going to die, it’s because one of the most enjoyable things to do for people is to go sit on the beach or by the pool, or in the mountains and bring your magazines along with you. Or bring your books and you just read. And for me that’s a great pleasure. If I can have time to sit outside and read my magazines, I have a one-year-old (Laughs), so if I can have that time, that’s heaven. And some kind of device is never going to replace that.” Yolanda Yoh Bucher

NB41_Celeb_JM_Cover To deepen the brand’s mission to help smart women make the most educated beauty decisions, luxury beauty brand NewBeauty has implemented a significant investment in an editorial redesign of its quarterly magazine. The team worked with award-winning, New York design firm Priest+Grace to debut the new look in the Fall-Winter 2015 issue, featuring cover star Julianna Margulies.

It’s a print investment that Chief Content Officer and Editor-in-Chief Yolanda Yoh Bucher said was totally worth it, even in this digital age. Yolanda believes in the print experience and that nothing, no device under the sun or moon, can replace the feeling you get when you have that intimate moment with ink on paper.

The magazine boasts the highest cover price of any beauty magazine on newsstands, at $9.95, and its readers have the highest average household income of any magazine in its category, at $197,000, according to Yolanda. To that end, NewBeauty took a decisive step and reinvented the magazine’s entire editorial lineup and look – from bolder, brighter visuals to new color schematics – to continue to engage its upscale readers.

I spoke with Yolanda recently and we talked about the redesign and the magazine’s past, present and future. It was a delightfully uplifting conversation about the value of print and the quick resources of digital that could be offered to the magazine’s audience, a dual contribution that she feels each of the magazine’s readers deserve. Audience first and that undeniable “experience” is what the “new” NewBeauty is all about.

So, re-comb your hair and take one last glance in the mirror just in case and get ready to enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Yolanda Yoh Bucher, Chief Content Office & Editor-In-Chief, NewBeauty.

But first, the sound-bites:

NB Yolanda Yoh Bucher Headshot On the highlight moments in her life as editor and in the life of the magazine: We wanted to create a magazine that would be trusted, educate women, and give them enough information to where they could actually make a decision. That was one of my core beliefs with beauty. Beauty can tend to be a little bit fluffy. Women really want serious answers. They want to understand the complete picture when it comes to beauty. We looked at it as doing serious journalistic research. A lot of it is very science-based. And I think our readers really responded to that. They wanted that kind of information. And that is what really set us apart and what really got us noticed.

On what she did to maintain the magazine’s DNA over the years and why now, after 10 years, she felt a facelift for the publication was needed: Well to maintain the DNA it’s really just staying true to everything that we’ve always believed in, which is our core focus on education, information and research. We are the only magazine that has a board that vets our content. So they vet every single page of editorial and advertising for accuracy. I think that’s really important. Whether that clicks in the heads of our consumers or not, they recognize that that information is trusted. To answer your second question, about giving ourselves a facelift, you know when we launched the magazine we kind of wanted to break every magazine rule, and be so, so different. It has definitely garnered us much success over the years. But sometimes being so different in a magazine space is not always a good thing. We took a look at re-doing the entire structure of our editorial while still staying true to that core message, and really just freshened up our entire editorial.

On why she’s invested in print in this digital age: I think it’s a different experience. It’s important to have all the touch points for your reader. Obviously, you have to have that robust digital experience. And like you mentioned earlier, we are finding that most of our readers are looking at our website on mobile devices. But when you think about how someone is looking at information, especially in a mobile environment, they’re maybe looking at it, if you’re lucky, for eight minutes. With our magazine and with all of our research, we found that our readers spend a staggering 94 minutes with our issue. That is a deeply engaged reader.

On whether she thinks print is going away: No I don’t. I think it’s a way to inspire. I think people will always want to look at beautiful images, and be able to spend the time to digest the information they are looking for. And I’d also say that in a digital environment everything is moving so quickly and the nice thing about having a magazine in print is again, you can take that quiet time and you can sit with it; you can digest and absorb the contents that you’re reading. It’s just different than when you’re playing with your phone and you’re looking at websites and you’re doing 800 things at the same time. That’s a very chaotic type of energy, so reading is actually very relaxing and peaceful, and I think healthy.

On what motivates her to get out of bed every morning and come to work: It’s the passion. It’s the creativity. It’s always reinventing something new. I think that’s the challenge. You’d think that over time we would have exhausted all the topics, but it’s funny because every day I wake up with a new question, a new beauty question. Or there’s something new I read that I think is interesting and I want to find out more information. Having a magazine and a team of extremely amazing editors who do all the research is fantastic.

On how she relates to her audience: That’s how we relate. The magazine’s foundation is built on problems and solutions. We believe in providing a range of options, so that a woman can choose something that is right for her. We don’t believe in hyping something, ‘hey this is the latest, greatest new thing. You have to try it.’ We’re going to explain all the different types of things that she could use to solve a problem. We’re going to give the pros and cons and let her choose for herself.

On whether she thinks the audience’s easy access to her and the magazine in today’s digital world makes her job easier or harder: We hear about it all the time from brands or experts that we cover in the magazine. They’ll tell us that readers will reach out to them asking for more information, or there will be an increase in sales. All those things tell us that we have given them enough information to be interested in something.

On reinventing the look of the magazine using Priest+Grace in New York as the designers: They are fantastic. When we decided to redesign the magazine after so long, we realized that it was important to work with an outside group. It was obviously myself and my team, and the majority of my team has been with me for the whole 10 years. So sometimes you can’t give yourself a makeover, but you have to go to somebody else, and they were the experts. They are topnotch when it comes to redesigning magazines. We went through a very lengthy process. It was maybe five months of brainstorming, them really understanding our content and our mission.

On whether she’s taking a gamble by reminding people they’re aging: No, I think everyone realizes that they are aging. I don’t think that’s a secret we can hide from people. Everybody that we interview and talk to is proud of aging. They’re proud of how they are aging. If you look at Hollywood today, the major stars are the older ones, and they look amazing. Everyone wants to know what their secrets are and what they’re doing. That’s something we talk to them about and go back and explain what’s the science behind that, what’s the research and why do they look so good.

On any challenges she’s had to face over the years with NewBeauty: There are challenges along the way because we’re always looking to reinvent and always trying to do the next best thing to always be better, so there are always going to be challenges. Early on, one of our biggest challenges was that we freelanced out a lot of our articles when we first designed the magazine. They came in and our Board reviewed them and said, ‘you can’t print this. This is why we’re here. We’re here to vet this information for accuracy and this is misleading. You’re making surgery sound easy; you’re making these claims that are incorrect.’ So, we learned quickly the value of that trusted, researched information and to this day we actually write all of our articles in-house, which I think is unique.

On anything that she’d like to add: I think that as I said to you before, it’s important to recognize that you have to provide your reader with what they’re looking for. You have to provide them with answers and you have to meet them at all possible touchpoints. So, you have to deliver something amazing and well-researched in print that they get at their doorsteps. You have to be able to keep them engaged and stay on the breaking news in your digital space, because obviously with a website there are things that are happening much quicker and faster than you could get in print. And so you have to make sure that you stay on top of that cutting edge news.

On what keeps her up at night: In order to continue to grow you have to keep changing. And change, like this redesign; change can be a little bit stressful. (Laughs) I stay up at night thinking about change and everything that we have to adapt to in order to continue to grow and to build a really strong and successful business. That keeps me up.

And now the lightly edited transcription of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Yolanda Yoh Bucher, Chief Content Officer & Editor-in-Chief, NewBeauty Magazine.

Samir Husni: I still remember when the first issue of NewBeauty came out 10 years ago. It was published in 13 regional editions and all of the regional editions were put in one magazine.

Yolanda Yoh Bucher: Yes, a huge phonebook. It’s funny because I remember you as well. Didn’t you speak to Adam Sandow? (Chairman and CEO of SANDOW®) He was excited back in the day. Adam and I actually both built new beauty together, 12 years ago. We just kind of celebrated our 10-year anniversary, but we’re heading to 11 years in print, which is exciting.

Samir Husni: Take me through that journey. Since you were there from that moment of conception. And now the baby is….

Yolanda Yoh Bucher: The baby is older. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: The baby is older. And even the job of the editor has changed so much through those years. You were born pre-digital and you’ve survived after digital. What are those highlight moments in the life of you as the editor, and the life of the magazine?

Yolanda Yoh Bucher: Absolutely. It was an amazing experience. Adam and I approached building a magazine from a different standpoint. At that time, people were actually just starting to look for a lot of information in a digital space. And so, we kind of broke traditional magazine rules. We created a magazine where you could find information. We basically laid it out extremely logically. So we had, sections where you could again find what you were looking for, and that was extremely well-received.

We wanted to create a magazine that would be trusted, educate women, and give them enough information to where they could actually make a decision. That was one of my core beliefs with beauty. Beauty can tend to be a little bit fluffy. Women really want serious answers. They want to understand the complete picture when it comes to beauty. We looked at it as doing serious journalistic research. A lot of it is very science-based. And I think our readers really responded to that. They wanted that kind of information. And that is what really set us apart and what really got us noticed.

Samir Husni: You had a lot of imitators that have come and gone. Some are still there.

Yolanda Yoh Bucher: We’ve had a few. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: So what did you do to maintain that DNA over all these years. And why now, did you decide, no pun intended to have a facelift?

Yolanda Yoh Bucher: Right. Well to maintain the DNA it’s really just staying true to everything that we’ve always believed in, which is our core focus on education, information and research. We are the only magazine that has a board that vets our content. So they vet every single page of editorial and advertising for accuracy. I think that’s really important. Whether that clicks in the heads of our consumers or not, they recognize that that information is trusted. It’s validated, it’s researched. That is very, very critical. We stay true to that core. Beauty has changed so much in 10 years. There has been so much innovation, so much science, that kind of vetting is so critical.

To answer your second question, about giving ourselves a facelift, you know when we launched the magazine we kind of wanted to break every magazine rule, and be so, so different. It has definitely garnered us much success over the years. But sometimes being so different in a magazine space is not always a good thing.

We took a look at re-doing the entire structure of our editorial while still staying true to that core message, and really just freshened up our entire editorial. We re-laid out the whole book; we took those sections that I mentioned earlier away. We gave ourselves more of a traditional magazine lineup. But yet we still have the in-depth scientific articles. We have invested a lot more in our photography. We’ve gotten brighter with a lot more white-space, so it is even easier to read. I think we have elevated ourselves to another level in terms of luxury. To us, obviously we’re invested in print. We believe in the magazine as being a core foundation of the brand.

Samir Husni: That leads me to my next question, why are you invested in print in this digital age?

Screen shot 2015-10-20 at 9.14.29 PM Yolanda Yoh Bucher: I think it’s a different experience. It’s important to have all the touch points for your reader. Obviously, you have to have that robust digital experience. And like you mentioned earlier, we are finding that most of our readers are looking at our website on mobile devices. But when you think about how someone is looking at information, especially in a mobile environment, they’re maybe looking at it, if you’re lucky, for eight minutes. With our magazine and with all of our research, we found that our readers spend a staggering 94 minutes with our issue. That is a deeply engaged reader. You’re spending a lot more time and you’re able to really do the research that you need again to make that decision. That is how we look at print. It’s that much more engaged experience.

Samir Husni: So you don’t think print is going away?

Yolanda Yoh Bucher: No I don’t. I think it’s a way to inspire. I think people will always want to look at beautiful images, and be able to spend the time to digest the information they are looking for.

And I’d also say that in a digital environment everything is moving so quickly and the nice thing about having a magazine in print is again, you can take that quiet time and you can sit with it; you can digest and absorb the contents that you’re reading. It’s just different than when you’re playing with your phone and you’re looking at websites and you’re doing 800 things at the same time. That’s a very chaotic type of energy, so reading is actually very relaxing and peaceful, and I think healthy.

When I look at another reason magazines aren’t going to die, it’s because one of the most enjoyable things to do for people is to go sit on the beach or by the pool, or in the mountains and bring your magazines along with you. Or bring your books and you just read. And for me that’s a great pleasure. If I can have time to sit outside and read my magazines, I have a one-year-old (Laughs), so if I can have that time, that’s heaven. And some kind of device is never going to replace that.

Samir Husni: Let me change the gear of the questions a little bit and go to personal things about you. What drives you? You’ve been with this magazine for 12 years, what makes you want to come to work everyday? What gets you out of bed to come to work every morning?

Yolanda Yoh Bucher: It’s the passion. It’s the creativity. It’s always reinventing something new. I think that’s the challenge. You’d think that over time we would have exhausted all the topics, but it’s funny because every day I wake up with a new question, a new beauty question. Or there’s something new I read that I think is interesting and I want to find out more information. Having a magazine and a team of extremely amazing editors who do all the research is fantastic.

If I have a question about a new trend, our team will dive a lot deeper than what I’ve typically found when it comes to beauty. I get my questions answered. Our team gets our questions answered. I think that’s our service for our readers. We get to something interesting. We get to the heart of a topic. That’s exciting for me.

Samir Husni: How do you relate with your audience?

Yolanda Yoh Bucher: That’s how we relate. The magazine’s foundation is built on problems and solutions. We believe in providing a range of options, so that a woman can choose something that is right for her. We don’t believe in hyping something, ‘hey this is the latest, greatest new thing. You have to try it.’ We’re going to explain all the different types of things that she could use to solve a problem. We’re going to give the pros and cons and let her choose for herself.

That’s one of the biggest things I believe in. That it’s not about editors dictating and saying, ‘hey this is my opinion. I think this is something that you should do.’ Our job is to report. Our job is to be fair and balanced. We have access to experts that consumers don’t have. We need to take all that information and aggregate it in a way that is digestible for our consumer. The fact that she has enough information to make a decision, that’s the real end goal. That is what I’m proud of.

Samir Husni: Do you think that that interaction today has become easier? Readers can respond to you instantly or if they see something, they email you, tweet about it or write about it. Or does that make your job harder as an editor?

Screen shot 2015-10-20 at 9.14.08 PM Yolanda Yoh Bucher: We hear about it all the time from brands or experts that we cover in the magazine. They’ll tell us that readers will reach out to them asking for more information, or there will be an increase in sales. All those things tell us that we have given them enough information to be interested in something.

Samir Husni: I know that you have used my friends Priest+Grace, those marvelous designers in New York, to reinvent the look of the magazine. Can you tell me a little about your process?

Yolanda Yoh Bucher: Absolutely. And they are fantastic. When we decided to redesign the magazine after so long, we realized that it was important to work with an outside group. It was obviously myself and my team, and the majority of my team has been with me for the whole 10 years. So sometimes you can’t give yourself a makeover, but you have to go to somebody else, and they were the experts. They are topnotch when it comes to redesigning magazines. We went through a very lengthy process. It was maybe five months of brainstorming, them really understanding our content and our mission.

When we went into the redesign we didn’t want to be unrecognizable to our readers. We didn’t redesign the magazine because we weren’t successful. We were doing extremely well. Our consumers were extremely happy with what we produced. But we knew that we needed something fresher. My big thing was that we needed to stay core to our DNA. Like I said, be recognizable to our readers, so someone wouldn’t pick it up and say, ‘what is this? This is like a whole different magazine.’

So they had to take that on as a big challenge. We went through a lot of rounds in that redesign process to get to where we are today, which I’m so proud and so happy with. It’s so much brighter, so much easier to read. I think we really elevated the brand. Obviously, it was a big investment. We did a big investment with them; we invested more with our photography and our imagery. To round it back out, we don’t believe print is dead. It’s such an important part in how consumers digest information.

Samir Husni: You don’t have an average audience; your readers have a very high household income.

Yolanda Yoh Bucher: We have an extremely high household income, $197,000.

Samir Husni: The magazine is not cheap; it’s almost $10 per issue. Yet when you look at this new issue, as I read Julianna’s quote (Julianna Margulies – who is on the cover of the first redesigned issue), “If I was not aging, I would not be living. You have to embrace it.” Are you taking a gamble by reminding people that they are aging?

Yolanda Yoh Bucher: No, I think everyone realizes that they are aging. I don’t think that’s a secret we can hide from people. Everybody that we interview and talk to is proud of aging. They’re proud of how they are aging. If you look at Hollywood today, the major stars are the older ones, and they look amazing. Everyone wants to know what their secrets are and what they’re doing. That’s something we talk to them about and go back and explain what’s the science behind that, what’s the research and why do they look so good. What is it they are doing that I can do to be the best that I can be? We’re all going to age. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: So my line that I’m 62, but look 42, and act 22 doesn’t really work, right? (Laughs)

Yolanda Yoh Bucher: (Laughs too) No, I think that totally works and I think it’s fantastic. When the first issue of the magazine came out I was 30 and I just turned 40, so it happens. A decade definitely makes a difference. A decade changes you.

Samir Husni: Has your trip through that decade been all smooth sailing or you’ve had some stormy seas along the way?

Yolanda Yoh Bucher: There are challenges along the way because we’re always looking to reinvent and always trying to do the next best thing to always be better, so there are always going to be challenges. Early on, one of our biggest challenges was that we freelanced out a lot of our articles when we first designed the magazine. They came in and our Board reviewed them and said, ‘you can’t print this. This is why we’re here. We’re here to vet this information for accuracy and this is misleading. You’re making surgery sound easy; you’re making these claims that are incorrect.’ So, we learned quickly the value of that trusted, researched information and to this day we actually write all of our articles in-house, which I think is unique. My edit team is terrific, and again my edit team stayed with me for all of these years. So, it’s all of that knowledge and still working with our Board that creates good, core content.

But that was a big challenge and very stressful. (Laughs) There were late-night conference calls with the Board, ripping our articles apart.

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

Yolanda Yoh Bucher: I think that as I said to you before, it’s important to recognize that you have to provide your reader with what they’re looking for. You have to provide them with answers and you have to meet them at all possible touchpoints. So, you have to deliver something amazing and well-researched in print that they get at their doorsteps. You have to be able to keep them engaged and stay on the breaking news in your digital space, because obviously with a website there are things that are happening much quicker and faster than you could get in print. And so you have to make sure that you stay on top of that cutting edge news.

And then you have to kind of round that out with an experience. So actually right after we launched the magazine, we launched something called the Test Tube in 2006, which was actually the first beauty product sampling program. We were the first, but we kind of kept it to ourselves and a little bit quiet and really only marketed it to our readers. So, we looked at that as a service so that our readers could learn about something in the magazine. They could try it in the Test Tube and then eventually if they found something that they liked, they could take action and they could buy it.

Again, it’s that 360° approach in how you communicate with your audience. And I think that’s really important and the core foundation always being your print piece. And then how do all of those extensions build off of it. And that’s the way that we look at it.

Samir Husni: Now that you mention the Test Tube, I remember the cost was either $19.95 or $29.95, something like that.

Yolanda Yoh Bucher: My memory doesn’t serve me very well, but I think it was something like that. The pricing was different. But we actually produce them now 6 times per year, so we have more Test Tubes. We added onto it because they were so wildly popular.

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

Yolanda Yoh Bucher: In order to continue to grow you have to keep changing. And change, like this redesign; change can be a little bit stressful. (Laughs) I stay up at night thinking about change and everything that we have to adapt to in order to continue to grow and to build a really strong and successful business. That keeps me up. Change is one of the most difficult things for human beings.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

Duncan Edwards: Head Above The Clouds and Feet Grounded On Earth — Inside The Great Mind Of The President And CEO Of Hearst Magazines International And FIPP Chairman. The Mr. Magazine™ Interview

October 19, 2015

CN Tower photo by Samir Husni

The Mr. Magazine™ Reports from the FIPP 40th Congress in Toronto, Canada.

“The future of print is good. It’s changed, particularly in the more mass market area of the business. It’s changed a lot. And consumers have not fallen out of love with what we do and our content, but their habits of buying printed magazines have changed. It’s much less so at the more high-end of the market where the products are very tangible and nice to have.” Duncan Edwards

HMI Duncan Edwards, president and CEO of Hearst Magazines International, has been elected as the new chairman of FIPP. The chairmanship of the international magazine media association was passed to Edwards after Fabrizio D’Angelo, CEO, Burda International, completed his two-year term. And for the man who spends half of his life above the clouds, but always has his feet on the ground, it is only fitting that he acquire yet one more title to his long list of accomplishments.

Duncan is man who is a clear leader as his strong convictions to brand, customers and Hearst management teams all across the globe are succinct when he talks about the future of the company. His dedication is superseded only by his love for magazines and what he does.

I had a chance to catch up with Duncan during the 40th FIPP congress and was able to engage him with a lovely and insightful conversation about his role as president and CEO of Hearst Magazines International. It was an intriguing trip inside the mind of yet another great magazine maker….So, I hope you enjoy this most cosmopolitan of conversations (no pun intended) with Duncan Edwards.

But first, the sound-bites:


On a day-in-the-life of Duncan Edwards:
About half of my working life is spent traveling outside the United States. And the other half, I’m in the office in New York. So, to be honest, they’re very different. When I’m traveling, I spend time with the management of our local companies doing all of the normal things that you would expect. I’m doing business reviews, talking with the senior management about the implementation of strategy and I try to spend time every day when I’m in a foreign country meeting editors of our products, print and digital editors. When I’m in New York it tends to be different; it tends to be more corporate-oriented, more budgeting and planning, administration and those sorts of things.

On which chapter of his professional life he prefers, overseas or New York City:
There’s nothing I like better than talking about product. So spending a day or an off-day with editors and product people talking about the content that we’re creating and the ways that we’re delivering it to our customers is by far my favorite part of my job. And if I could spend all of my time doing that I would.

On whether the globalization of many of the Hearst brands made his job easier or harder: Well, we’ve been fortunate in that the products that we create and the brands that we produce have always been desirable by international publishers as licenses. So when George Green drove that business for so many years and so successfully, he could choose between partners in most countries, it wasn’t like you had to really sell the idea of becoming a Cosmo licensee because everybody wanted to do it. And that was because it was pretty much a guaranteed way of making money. Clearly the world is changing. And certainly on the print side of the business it isn’t as easy as it was and the predictable profitability of magazines outside of the U.S. is not as much of a guarantee. On the other hand though, what we’ve created, particularly around Cosmo, but also around our other brands, is really strong digital products.

On the fact that Hearst has been reacquiring or establishing Hearst licenses in countries like Spain and the Netherlands and whether that was a corporate decision or more like a trend:
What happened was in 2010 we negotiated the acquisition of the Lagardere’s International publishing business, the Hachette magazines’ publishing business. And that was a deal that I led on behalf of Hearst to acquire a number of companies, primarily because they published Elle and we always felt that Elle was one of the true global magazine brands, alongside magazines such as Cosmo, Bazaar, Esquire and Vogue. There are only a handful of true global magazine brands and Elle was one of them. In the process of acquiring Elle, we acquired companies in different markets, like Holland, Spain, one in China and another one in Russia and also Japan. And so of course in that sense, that meant if we already had licenses then we were in a slightly complicated situation.

On what it is about himself that is said to attract people like magnets:
I’m an Englishman, so talking about one’s self is very difficult. (Laughs) But let me say this. I’ve spent my entire career in this business, from the age of 21 to now, 51. I’ve spent that entire 30 years in the magazine business and I’ve done lots of different jobs within that time frame. So, I know what good content is like and I know what good ad sales are like and also good marketing. So, hopefully some of that experience and knowledge I’m able to pass on as I go around the world.

On the biggest challenge he’s faced since assuming his present role with Hearst:
It was a challenge and a huge opportunity when we made the acquisition for the Lagardere Company. We acquired businesses in more than 10 countries, with a very large turnover, and integrating that business into Hearst and all of the issues that go along with that; the management teams becoming Hearst managers and getting everybody aligned, in terms of expectations and delivery was a hugely complex job.

On anything else he’d like to add:
The future of print is good. It’s changed, particularly in the more mass market area of the business. It’s changed a lot. And consumers have not fallen out of love with what we do and our content, but their habits of buying printed magazines have changed. It’s much less so at the more high-end of the market where the products are very tangible and nice to have.

On what motivates him to get up every morning: Do you know it’s funny; I’m such an enthusiast. I was born with the enthusiast gene. There’s almost nothing that I’m not interested in, whether it’s sports, books, music, politics or business. So, I never have any problem at all getting out of bed and facing the day because I know there’s going to be something exciting and interesting that’s going to be happening, whether it’s at work or in my personal life.

On what keeps him up at night:
Truthfully, first of all I’m an extremely good sleeper, which is also a good thing if you travel as much as I do. Work issues, they honestly don’t keep me awake at night. I have two young sons at college and worrying what they’re doing is much more likely to keep me awake.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Duncan Edwards, President and CEO of Hearst Magazines International.

Samir Husni: As the president and CEO of Hearst Magazines International, could you describe a day in the life of Duncan Edwards?

Town & Country Thailand Duncan Edwards: About half of my working life is spent traveling outside the United States. And the other half, I’m in the office in New York. So, to be honest, they’re very different. When I’m traveling, I spend time with the management of our local companies doing all of the normal things that you would expect. I’m doing business reviews, talking with the senior management about the implementation of strategy and I try to spend time every day when I’m in a foreign country meeting editors of our products, print and digital editors. And then I’ll spend time with our customers as well. I always like to see our advertising customers when I’m in a different country to make sure they’re happy with what we’re doing.

When I’m in New York it tends to be different; it tends to be more corporate-oriented, more budgeting and planning, administration and those sorts of things. Also, as I’m obviously an EVP of the magazine division as well, I spend a lot of time with my colleagues David Carey and Michael Clinton, and Troy Young from the digital side of the business; again, talking about strategy and execution. It’s a combination of thinking about what we want to do and then making sure that we actually do it.

Samir Husni: And which chapter of your professional life do you prefer, overseas or New York City?

Duncan Edwards: There’s nothing I like better than talking about product. So spending a day or an off-day with editors and product people talking about the content that we’re creating and the ways that we’re delivering it to our customers is by far my favorite part of my job. And if I could spend all of my time doing that I would.

I think second after that I really like talking to our customers. I’m ad ad-sales guy by origin; my entry into the magazine business was through selling advertising. And so I consider it responsibility and a passion to actually continue to be actively talking to our customers and supporting the sales organizations of our companies around the world. But you can’t travel all of the time though. At least, my wife would not thank me for doing that. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: (Laughs too).

Duncan Edwards: So, it’s a balance, like any big, serious job. There’s a balance between that external facing functions and the more internal things that you need to do.

Samir Husni: Hearst has been a leader in licensing and in expanding and publishing a lot of its titles overseas, whether it’s Harper’s Bazaar or Cosmopolitan, which is the biggest one if I’m not mistaken. With the digital age coming upon us in 2007/2008; how did the licensing or the globalization of the brands that Hearst has in the United States affect your job? Did it make it easier or harder to preach the Hearst gospel overseas?

Duncan Edwards: Well, we’ve been fortunate in that the products that we create and the brands that we produce have always been desirable by international publishers as licenses. So when George Green drove that business for so many years and so successfully, he could choose between partners in most countries, it wasn’t like you had to really sell the idea of becoming a Cosmo licensee because everybody wanted to do it. And that was because it was pretty much a guaranteed way of making money.

Clearly the world is changing. And certainly on the print side of the business it isn’t as easy as it was and the predictable profitability of magazines outside of the U.S. is not as much of a guarantee.

On the other hand though, what we’ve created, particularly around Cosmo, but also around our other brands, is really strong digital products. And we’ve been as disciplined about that, in terms of creating brand books and processes to create really strong digital products, as we have been around the print side. So our partners, when they’ve followed our guideline as well, are also doing extremely well in digital.

Samir Husni: I’ve noticed that in some markets you’re reacquiring the licenses or establishing Hearst magazines, such as in Spain or the Netherlands; is that a trend or a corporate decision or is it that circumstances have forced you to move in that direction?

Harper's Bazaar China Duncan Edwards: What happened was in 2010 we negotiated the acquisition of the Lagardere’s International publishing business, the Hachette magazines’ publishing business. And that was a deal that I led on behalf of Hearst to acquire a number of companies, primarily because they published Elle and we always felt that Elle was one of the true global magazine brands, alongside magazines such as Cosmo, Bazaar, Esquire and Vogue. There are only a handful of true global magazine brands and Elle was one of them.

In the process of acquiring Elle, we acquired companies in different markets, like Holland, Spain, one in China and another one in Russia and also Japan. And so of course in that sense, that meant if we already had licenses then we were in a slightly complicated situation.

What we tried to do was take a careful and respectful approach to consolidating our licenses and we did. We took Cosmo back in Holland and Harper’s Bazaar back in Spain. We’re in the process of taking all of our licenses back in Taiwan, for example. And it makes sense; if you have your own company in the country, then having a license for one of your major brands with a third party doesn’t really make sense.

So, we’re respecting the contracts that we have, but in the end it is very likely that the magazines that are owned by Hearst, the brands that are owned by Hearst, will be published by a Hearst company if that company exists in the market.

Samir Husni: As you travel across all of these continents, cities and countries; I’ve heard a lot about you. There’s almost a halo around the name Duncan Edwards. When people say Duncan is coming, there is an angelic tone to their voice. But I didn’t hear the same about your predecessor; is it you or is it the way you interact with people? What makes you attract people that you deal with like a magnet?

Duncan Edwards: I’m an Englishman, so talking about one’s self is very difficult. (Laughs) But let me say this. I’ve spent my entire career in this business, from the age of 21 to now, 51. I’ve spent that entire 30 years in the magazine business and I’ve done lots of different jobs within that time frame. So, I know what good content is like and I know what good ad sales are like and also good marketing. So, hopefully some of that experience and knowledge I’m able to pass on as I go around the world.

Fundamentally, I’m quite an international sort of person. I don’t come to any country with any preconceptions of what it should be like. But I’m very respectful. I’m a huge believer, by the way, in the power and importance of local culture when it comes to editorial. We’ve learned, even though we have these incredible, global brands, that the most successful editorial content is the local content.

It’s impossible for someone sitting in New York or London to really know what’s going to be the most exciting content for someone in Southern Italy or Northern China. You’ve got to leave those kinds of decisions to the local management.

So, hopefully some of those kinds of things come across. You’d be much better off asking the people who say that about me than myself. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: One of the most amazing comments that I heard once was that although you’re the CEO and like the guru of Hearst overseas, when people are talking with you, whether they’re editors or CEOs themselves, you’re down-to-earth, with your feet securely planted on the ground, although your head may be repeatedly in the clouds the way you travel, and they only want to learn from the master.

Esquire Singapore Duncan Edwards: We’re all just human beings. We’re all employees of Hearst and we all have our different jobs to do and I think it’s not just true about me, but I think it’s true of Hearst, that we are not a big, kind of ego-driven organization. We are much more interested in the success of our company than we are in the reputation of ourselves as individuals. And that permeates through from the very top of the Hearst Corporation to management every level. We’re interested in what can we do to make our business more successful, rather than it being all about any one person.

Samir Husni: Since you took over this job; what has been the biggest stumbling block or challenge that you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?

Duncan Edwards: It was a challenge and a huge opportunity when we made the acquisition for the Lagardere Company. We acquired businesses in more than 10 countries, with a very large turnover, and integrating that business into Hearst and all of the issues that go along with that; the management teams becoming Hearst managers and getting everybody aligned, in terms of expectations and delivery was a hugely complex job.

And you couple that with the changes that are going on in the industry at the same time. So, not only have you just acquired this very big business, but you’ve also got these massive changes in consumer behavior.

And how do you deal with it? You deal with it step-by-step. First of all I think we’d look very carefully at the managers we had in those companies and quickly came to open conclusion as to whether they were the right people or not. Fortunately we felt in pretty much every case that they were.

And then what we tried to do was be clear about strategy and I think this is really important. Maybe one of the things that I do well is be very clear about what the strategy is and I try to be consistent about it so that we’ve been saying the same kind of thing for the last four or five years, so that our business and our managers and our partners know the direction that we’re going in and how we should align our businesses. There’s no secret sauce to any of this stuff. It’s about their being disciplined and well-organized and doing things step-by-step.

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

seventeen Argentina Duncan Edwards: The future of print is good. It’s changed, particularly in the more mass market area of the business. It’s changed a lot. And consumers have not fallen out of love with what we do and our content, but their habits of buying printed magazines have changed. It’s much less so at the more high-end of the market where the products are very tangible and nice to have.

But at the more middle-end mass of the market, it’s changed a lot. We have therefore been building a digital business with real energy and real resources behind it. And we’ve deliberately not tried to do something twice, so we’re taking all the learning and knowledge from the U.S. company, where we’ve had real success, and we’re pushing that out around the world. That’s an important story and an important message and all our managers know that we are becoming a digital, mobile content company. And I use that expression sometimes in somewhere like Holland and it’s true. We’re really a digital content company that produces magazines, rather than a magazine company that produces websites. And it’s a mental switch and a semantic change.

Samir Husni: What motivates you to get up every morning?

Duncan Edwards: Do you know it’s funny; I’m such an enthusiast. I was born with the enthusiast gene. There’s almost nothing that I’m not interested in, whether it’s sports, books, music, politics or business. So, I never have any problem at all getting out of bed and facing the day because I know there’s going to be something exciting and interesting that’s going to be happening, whether it’s at work or in my personal life. I was just born enthusiastic, which is a good asset when you’re dealing with jet lag as much as I am. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: Before I ask you my typical last question, any message from the guru to your disciples all over the world?

Duncan Edwards: (Laughs) Just keep up the great work.

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

Duncan Edwards: Truthfully, first of all I’m an extremely good sleeper, which is also a good thing if you travel as much as I do. Work issues, they honestly don’t keep me awake at night. I have two young sons at college and worrying what they’re doing is much more likely to keep me awake.

But honestly, I’m fine. Work is work and it’s important to separate that from your personal life. You give your work everything and you do the best you possibly can, but it’s certainly not something you should lose sleep over.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

The Changing World Of Magazines & Magazine Media According To Chris Llewellyn, FIPP President and CEO. The Mr. Magazine™ Interview.

October 16, 2015

CN Tower photo by Samir Husni

The Mr. Magazine™ Reports from the FIPP 40th Congress in Toronto, Canada.

“They key thing for FIPP is we bring an industry together to work with each other. And that industry now is the old silo definition of breaking down. We’ve heard of silos within an organization breaking down, but it’s happening in associations. We are no longer defined by magazine; we’re defined by the content we create, how we create it and the audiences we reach. So, I think FIPP is about content reaching defined audiences.” Chris Llewellyn

FIPP – The Worldwide Magazine Media Association, held its 40th World Congress in Toronto, October 13-15. The event is the largest and most prestigious global magazine media event in the world. It offers the opportunity to hear from some of the industry’s top speakers on the latest trends, developments and innovations in magazines and magazine media publishing.

I had the opportunity to attend the event and listened to and spoke with so many industry leaders and magazine media publishers who talked about creativity and audience first, along with innovation and change. The energy that could be felt at the World Congress was palpable.

Chris Llewellyn 2 Chris Llewellyn has been the president and CEO of FIPP since October 2009. He is a man who is both knowledgeable, with 30 years in the magazine business under his belt, and open-minded about the future of magazines and magazine media. His thoughts on the fact that he believes the industry cannot be defined by the word “magazine” anymore is proof of that. Chris said that we’re defined by the content we create, how we create it and the audiences we reach, definitely an accurate description in the digital age we live in.

During the World Congress, Chris and I sat down for a riveting conversation about all of those things and many other issues that face magazines and magazine media today. From global digital changes to the FIPP events (such as the World Congress) that help industry leaders and individuals come together to learn the latest trends and innovations in order to do business with each other and discover many other opportunities.

As always, the event was enlightening and insightful, much like the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Chris Llewellyn. I hope you are as inspired as I was.

But first, the sound-bites:

On the major change that he’s witnessed worldwide in magazines and magazine media over the years and on whether it was a change for the better or the worse: There have been some changes that have affected our geography. In some countries they still don’t know there’s change in the air. In China or even in India, magazines are still being launched. The Indian magazine conference was held earlier this year. I was there five years ago when one of the publishers, who shall remain nameless, said the Internet will never catch on in India, and that was five years ago. This year the Association of Indian Magazines was 90% discussing digital; in India. And I think that’s a sign of the times. It’s changed. We’re talking about the digital transformation of this industry.

On why he thinks it took five or six years for people in the media industry, who are supposedly the most creative people on the face of the earth, to discover that digital is not our enemy and print isn’t going away: I think there are two reasons and one is your stakeholders, whether you’re public or private, they want a return and they want to launch magazines and make money. And even then we’ve got a problem. But digital just seems like such a gamble. And there are just so many gambles you can make in a year, so you have a lot of failure. And a lot of shareholders started resisting that level of investment. I think now as we start to see some success, they’re starting to see it too.

On the biggest challenge he thinks magazines and magazine media companies are facing in 2015: If you look at my program from this World Congress, you’ll see that this isn’t a magazine conference. Peter Kreisky and I argue about who invented the first magazine major, but that in itself is becoming redundant as a phrase. If you see my program, we’ve had BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, the Business Insider, Politico; Slate was on this afternoon, world famous magazine companies, world famous content creators, and world famous audience aggregators; yes, that’s what we are.

On what FIPP does to help magazines and magazine media companies to complement their new competitors, such as Google, Facebook and Twitter: By exposing different levels of thinking, by bringing more examples into the picture. Again, look at this Congress. The events are really what it’s all about. We’re there to network. We’re not there as a national association that does lobbying and argues with different services, things that I find extremely necessary, but frankly boring. We’re there to help the members, but that’s businesses. And the way to do that is meet face to face. That’s the best way to do it.

On whether he thinks in this digital age we live in, licensing and going across borders has become easier or harder: Ironically, both, which is not very hopeful. If you’re an English-language publication, your audience isn’t just, from my point of view, the U.K. And if you’re American, it’s not just America. You have to do business across borders. And there are great opportunities there. But what you also find is borders do still exist, borders of culture and language and borders of this-is-how-we-do-things-here.

On anything else he’d like to add: We are no longer defined by magazine; we’re defined by the content we create, how we create it and the audiences we reach. So, I think FIPP is about content reaching defined audiences. And therefore our events and products and services will start to reflect that, so it’s not about “here’s good news for magazine publishers,” it’s about “here are some people producing some great content and distributing it in a really interesting way and there’s a business opportunity getting together.”

On what motivates him to get out of bed in the mornings: It’s such a great job. I’ve got 30 years in magazines. I love magazines; I love the brands that we have in this industry and I’m really excited about what those brands are doing and I lead an organization which I think its job is to get out in front of what’s happening. And that’s really interesting.

On what keeps him up at night: Nothing really; I sleep pretty well. I think when I was at EMAP, that’s a publishing company I spent the bulk of my career with; you were really involved in the day-to-day activity and as a manager the accounting of everything, especially when they had to announce to their shareholders why we were down three percent. Well, no one is asking me that at FIPP, which is a great release. The Board doesn’t measure me on a P&L. The Board doesn’t measure me on year-to-year growth. The Board measures me on is this event delivering.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Chris Llewellyn, President and CEO, FIPP.

Samir Husni: Through the years, you’ve been witnessing the change in the magazine and magazine media environment worldwide, not just in one specific country. What do you think has been the major change that took place in the industry and was it a change for the better or the worse?

Chris Llewellyn: There have been some changes that have affected our geography. In some countries they still don’t know there’s change in the air. In China or even in India, magazines are still being launched. If I took more time and looked at the Indian magazine conference earlier this year; I was there five years ago when one of the publishers, who shall remain nameless, said the Internet will never catch on in India, and that was five years ago. This year the Association of Indian Magazines was 90% discussing digital; in India. And I think that’s a sign of the times. It’s changed. We’re talking about the digital transformation of this industry.

I think we’ve gone through the phase of wanting it to be like it was in the past and then the blind panic of what do we do. I think we’re in the phase now where we’re experimenting; some of those experiments are working really well. And we’re finding new businesses and new business models. Actually, I’m seeing a lot of confidence and I’m going to share some information at the conference on how we measure industry pessimism and optimism and it’s becoming more optimistic.

Samir Husni: Why do you think it took five or six years for people in the media industry, who are supposedly the most creative people on the face of the earth, to discover that digital is not our enemy and print isn’t going away?

Chris Llewellyn: I think there are two reasons and one is your stakeholders, whether you’re public or private, they want a return and they want to launch magazines and make money. And even then we’ve got a problem. But digital just seems like such a gamble. And there are just so many gambles you can make in a year, so you have a lot of failure. And a lot of shareholders started resisting that level of investment. I think now as we start to see some success, they’re starting to see it too.

And that’s one issue, the financial pressures. I think the other one is a generational issue. I’m a Baby Boomer like you are, and it’s hard, isn’t it? It’s really hard to understand some things.

I know exactly how to put a magazine together, there’s nothing you can tell me about the design of a cover and the flow of the pages and what makes a good story or why that logo is that color and why we should use that type font. But I have no idea if any of that works on a website. I’m learning, but it’s going to take a lot of time.

Meanwhile, there are 26-year-olds who just do it. And that’s another thing that we’re seeing now, that generation of managers, the Baby Boomer managers, who don’t understand accepting that they’re never going to learn from the 26-year-olds. And the role of those managers, and we have some of this information from FIPP surveys that we do with our members, those managers now if you asked them what are the most important things they’re looking at, the biggest thing that they manage is culture, not product. They’re not looking at the nuts and bolts of the business, it’s the managing of culture that’s the big change over the last three or four years.

And that’s what has taken us so long; it’s that manager-mindset that had to grasp what its real role was. And we needed shareholders, people who fund what we do, to accept that things don’t always work as they used to.

Samir Husni: As you travel the globe and head an association that brings all magazines and magazine media companies together; what do you think is the biggest challenge that we’re facing in 2015?

Chris Llewellyn: If you look at my program from this World Congress, you’ll see that this isn’t a magazine conference. Peter Kreisky and I argue about who invented the first magazine major, but that in itself is becoming redundant as a phrase.

If you see my program, we’ve had BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, the Business Insider, Politico; Slate was on this afternoon, world famous magazine companies, world famous content creators, and world famous audience aggregators; yes, that’s what we are. And I think defining us as magazines is over-summing.

Samir Husni: I did an interview with Bob Garfield not too long ago. He said our biggest competitors today are companies that really don’t consider themselves media companies, such as Google, Facebook and Twitter. How is FIPP helping the magazines and magazine media companies complement all of these new competitors?

Chris Llewellyn: By exposing different levels of thinking, by bringing more examples into the picture. Again, look at this Congress. The events are really what it’s all about. We’re there to network. We’re not there as a national association that does lobbying and argues with different services, things that I find extremely necessary, but frankly boring. We’re there to help the members, but that’s businesses. And the way to do that is meet face to face. That’s the best way to do it.

So, I’m bringing people together who want to do business. And increasingly, the people who want to do business…well, it used to be, “I want to do business with that magazine company in that country.” But now that’s not the rules. There all kinds of different options they want. They want to meet e-commerce companies or data analytic companies. They want to meet the new digital pure plays.

It’s interesting, talking about one of the big innovation trends coming, which is Refinery29, they’re speaking at my conference in Berlin in March. I’m exposing them to a new audience that wants to see and hear about these people. FIPP’s objective is to find people you’ve never heard of, because they have something to say.

Samir Husni: I noticed at this FIPP Congress, a lot of companies are trying to license their products and to reach across borders; do you think in this digital age we live in, licensing and going across borders has become easier or harder?

Chris Llewellyn: Ironically, both, which is not very hopeful. If you’re an English-language publication, your audience isn’t just, from my point of view, the U.K. And if you’re American, it’s not just America. You have to do business across borders. And there are great opportunities there.

But what you also find is borders do still exist, borders of culture and language and borders of this-is-how-we-do-things-here. If we go back to India, the Bollywood magazine, I think it’s Filmfare; suddenly, they sold their digital edition to the Indian diaspora and they’re rubbing their hands with glee. They’re making more money off of that than they ever did in India.

What the digital change has meant is content can become feed really quickly and easily. Content management systems make that easy. I think they realize that there’s an international opportunity, look at the Huffington Post My Story. I think what they’re doing is probably the right way. They’re getting to market quickly.

George Green is here, the grandfather of 50 editions of Cosmo; we were doing this 30 years ago. And I just discovered the joy of having an international network and how it amplifies your brand and your opportunity to make money.

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

Chris Llewellyn: They key thing for FIPP is we bring an industry together to work with each other. And that industry now is the old silo definition of breaking down. We’ve heard of silos within an organization breaking down, but it’s happening in associations. We are no longer defined by magazine; we’re defined by the content we create, how we create it and the audiences we reach. So, I think FIPP is about content reaching defined audiences. And therefore our events and products and services will start to reflect that, so it’s not about “here’s good news for magazine publishers,” it’s about “here are some people producing some great content and distributing it in a really interesting way and there’s a business opportunity getting together.”

Samir Husni: What motivates you to get out of bed in the mornings?

Chris Llewellyn: It’s such a great job. I’ve got 30 years in magazines. I love magazines; I love the brands that we have in this industry and I’m really excited about what those brands are doing and I lead an organization which I think its job is to get out in front of what’s happening. And that’s really interesting.

It’s all about innovation. I was a marketing manager, but I was also a marketing research manager for a long time, specifically on new products. Something new and exciting has always gotten me out of bed. I don’t want to be doing a budget for the same thing for the twentieth time.

So that’s really what motivates me. This is not about industry; these people are really interesting people. They’re clever, they’re smart and intelligent and they have interesting things to say. You really want to work with them.

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

Chris Llewellyn: Nothing really; I sleep pretty well. I think when I was at EMAP, that’s a publishing company I spent the bulk of my career with; you were really involved in the day-to-day activity and as a manager the accounting of everything, especially when they had to announce to their shareholders why we were down three percent. Well, no one is asking me that at FIPP, which is a great release. The Board doesn’t measure me on a P&L. The Board doesn’t measure me on year-to-year growth. The Board measures me on is this event delivering. And that’s wonderful. And that makes me sleep easier because I can do that.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

Joe Ripp, Time Inc.’s CEO, To Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, “We Are Putting Emphasis On Wherever The Customer Wants The Content…” The Mr. Magazine™ Interview

October 15, 2015

CN Tower photo by Samir Husni

The Mr. Magazine™ Reports from the FIPP 40th Congress in Toronto, Canada.

“We’re going to put emphasis on wherever the customer wants to consume content. If customers like our print products, we’ll continue to sell them. Print isn’t going away; it’s going to be around for the next 50 years. It’s still a very significant part of our business and it will be for the next 25 years.” Joe Ripp


When Joe Ripp speaks, media people listen. After all, he is the head of the largest magazine media company in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Joe was the keynote speaker at the the 40th FIPP World Congress in Toronto, Canada, and in typical Joe Ripp style he told the audience that when folks at Time Inc. were questioning him about what the company founder Henry Luce would think about all the changes he is making at Time Inc., Mr. Ripp had one answer, “Who cares, Henry Luce is dead.” It was the the new style of forward-looking leadership and full-steam ahead attitude that the leader of Time Inc. has in place as he surges ahead with the new and improved Time Inc. after its separation from Time Warner.

After his keynote, Joe and I discussed the great success of Time Inc.’s bookazine titles and the fact that the magazine division is opening up its portals and looking at the many platforms that Time Inc. offers to its many brands. Audience first has always been paramount with Time Inc., but never more so than now as the company is determined to offer the consumption of its content on whatever platform its readers want.

So, first is my Mr. Magazine™ minute with Joe after his speech and later my interview with him about some new exciting information that was released later in the day. So sit down and relax and watch this Mr. Magazine™ Minute with Joe Ripp and then read the transcript of the interview, plus the additional questions-and-answers with Mr. Ripp at the later part of the blog entry.

We also talked about the news that Wallpaper* Magazine is moving across the Atlantic and making its debut in the United States, with the launch of a U.S. bespoke edition of Wallpaper* which will significantly increase U.S.-related content to Wallpaper.com.

The launch of Wallpaper* U.S. Bespoke Edition on November 1 coincides with the 200th issue of the international design, fashion and lifestyle title. The new print edition will be delivered four times a year to 250,000 young, affluent consumers in major markets throughout the United States. Digitally, Wallpaper.com reaches 500K consumers each month and has a social following of more than 2 million. With the launch of the U.S. edition, that reach is expected to grow significantly.

And now the Mr.Magazine™ interview with Joe Ripp, CEO, Time Inc.

But first, the sound-bites:

On plans to bring Wallpaper* Magazine from the U.K. to the United States: Yes, we’re very excited about that. It’s the first crossover from our British compatriots.

On why the selection of Wallpaper* with so many other titles the company has in the U.K.: Wallpaper* has a very large international following; people around the world follow it and love it.

On the enormous volume of bookazines that Time Inc. puts out each month: I believe we have 182,000 pockets out there in supermarkets where we sell bookazines. Bookazines are highly profitable for Time Inc. We publish them for many other publishers; we work with National Geographic, for instance and other publishers, creating content around them. They’re highly-priced; they help the distribution chain and the distributors love them because it’s helping to fuel profitability there.

On why he thinks bookazines sell so well: They sell because of the richness of our archives. We have the most incredible content in our archives. And for the most part the bookazines can come from that. However, we recently did one on the Pope’s visit to the United States. I actually gave a copy to the Pope.

On where he sees the future distribution of Time Inc.’s content heading: As a platform agnostic company, Time Inc. is really heading for distribution of its content to whatever platform is available. Our audiences have not had any lack of interest in what we produce, there’s more interest in our content than there’s ever been before.

On whether the company is going to place less emphasis on print or will it be equal attention to all of its platforms: We’re going to put emphasis on wherever the customer wants to consume content. If customers like our print products, we’ll continue to sell them. Print isn’t going away; it’s going to be around for the next 50 years. It’s still a very significant part of our business and it will be for the next 25 years.

On why, if media people are supposedly the most creative people around, it took five or six years for the industry to recognize the credibility of his plan for the future of Time Inc.’s content: I don’t think it had anything to do with the media people; I think it was the structure of Time Inc. within Time Warner. At Time Warner there was a video division and there was a division that dealt with the Internet, and so Time Inc. was told: you’re the magazine division. It’s that label that was the problem, because once you define yourself by your distribution vehicle, then you’re stuck with that vehicle. So, when Time Inc. said that it wanted to grow its websites, the response was, well, you don’t really need to do that, you’re a magazine company.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Joe Ripp, CEO, Time Inc.

Samir Husni: I just learned that there are plans to bring Wallpaper* to the United States.

Wallaper_200th_CMYK2-1 Joe Ripp: Yes, we’re very excited about that. It’s the first crossover from our British compatriots. Wallpaper* is a great magazine, and as you know, it was started in the U.K. and now we’re bringing it in to the United States and we’re going to be talking about that very shortly.

Samir Husni: From all the titles that you have in the U.K., why Wallpaper*?

Joe Ripp: Wallpaper* has a very large international following; people around the world follow it and love it. And we think there’s a great opportunity for U.S. advertisers to reach the audiences who love it in the U.S. and we’ll distribute it even further here now.

Samir Husni: May we talk a little bit about bookazines? Time Inc. is putting out, by last count, at least 15 or 20 titles every month…

Joe Ripp: I believe we have 182,000 pockets out there in supermarkets where we sell bookazines. Bookazines are highly profitable for Time Inc. We publish them for many other publishers; we work with National Geographic, for instance and other publishers, creating content around them. They’re highly-priced; they help the distribution chain and the distributors love them because it’s helping to fuel profitability there. They’re also very profitable for the retail establishments, the supermarkets and other venues where they’re sold. And consumers love them because they have great content produced from our archives for the most part, about particular topics of importance.

Samir Husni: And why do you think they’re selling so well? I looked at the numbers and one of the highest selling ones was Time: D-Day, which actually used the same cover that was used on TIME Magazine on the 60th anniversary of D-Day.

Joe Ripp: They sell because of the richness of our archives. We have the most incredible content in our archives. And for the most part the bookazines can come from that. However, we recently did one on the Pope’s visit to the United States. I actually gave a copy to the Pope.

So, the reality is there’s a tremendous number of things, pop cultural events and others, which we can create content around, because we can come up with a bookazine within three days. When Robin Williams died, three days later we had on the newsstand two bookazines about his life, his movies and his death. And that sold very, very well because there was a huge interest in that subject.

Samir Husni: Where do you see the future of distribution with Time Inc.’s content heading?

Joe Ripp: As a platform agnostic company, Time Inc. is really heading for distribution of its content to whatever platform is available. Our audiences have not had any lack of interest in what we produce, there’s more interest in our content than there’s ever been before. There’s just less people interested in printed pages. So, by growing our digital audiences and by growing our video output, by growing our conferences and events, there’s more ways for consumers who love the things that we produce, to interact with us and that’s what we’re doing.

Samir Husni: Does that mean you’re going to put less emphasis on print or all platforms will be equal?

Joe Ripp: We’re going to put emphasis on wherever the customer wants to consume content. If customers like our print products, we’ll continue to sell them. Print isn’t going away; it’s going to be around for the next 50 years. It’s still a very significant part of our business and it will be for the next 25 years. But the reality is there are other areas of growth for us and we’ve ignored those for years and we’re going into those areas right now and that’s why our digital audiences are growing substantially; our video and mobile audiences are growing substantially, because we are recognizing the fact that our print product has incredible content that can be distributed quite easily in other formats for distribution.

Samir Husni: Supposedly, the most creative people on the face of the earth are media people. If that’s true, why do you think it took us five or six years to discover this fact that you’re preaching now?

Joe Ripp: I don’t think it had anything to do with the media people; I think it was the structure of Time Inc. within Time Warner. At Time Warner there was a video division and there was a division that dealt with the Internet, and so Time Inc. was told: you’re the magazine division. It’s that label that was the problem, because once you define yourself by your distribution vehicle, then you’re stuck with that vehicle. So, when Time Inc. said that it wanted to grow its websites, the response was, well, you don’t really need to do that, you’re a magazine company. When we wanted to get involved in video projects, the response was, well, you’re not the video department, go talk to the studios; they’ll do that for you.

The reality is we were a content company. It was the definition of ourselves by a distribution vehicle that was what limited our ability to distribute across multiple formats.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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Esquire Magazine @ 1,000: Creation And Curation At Its Best – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With David Granger, Editor-In-Chief, Esquire

October 14, 2015

“The advantage that print has is really two-fold. One is that as digital media moves to the phone, it’s pretty easy to see what the difference is between digital media and print media. Print is just so much bigger and the display is huge, the colors are vibrant and you get to use design and it’s just a completely different experience. Fifteen years ago everybody was just trying to put what magazines did or what newspapers did onto a computer screen. And this is kind of the same thing. Now, what gets created for a phone is very different from what gets created for a magazine. In general, though there are some exceptions to this these days, what’s being created for a magazine is more ambitious and more sprawling and more built-to-last.” David Granger

“I’ve been discouraged and disappointed when people expressed this idea that inevitably print was going to go away. And it’s not just because I believe that it’s the greatest medium ever created. I think that there is some appeal to it that is being demonstrated all over again. You see sales in books, in paper, are climbing while the digital experience in books is beginning to decline.” David Granger

Esquire 100-4 Esquire has been the original men’s magazine on style and fashion for the last 82 years. And with a legacy of quintessential content such as that, finding an innovative and creative way to present it to the masses and bring that premier information to life once again in new ways was the driving force behind Esquire Classic. Well, that and its prolific team led by their insightful Editor-In-Chief, David Granger.

David has been at the helm of Esquire for 18 years and knows a thing or two about what the magazine’s readers want when it comes to their essential dose of Esquire. He has immersed himself in the brand and believes the key to being a successful editor in 2015 is to be constantly open to new ideas and possibilities, whether his own or ones from his superb staff.

Recently the 1000th issue of Esquire was lovingly dressed (in Esquire-finest, of course) and sent on its way, with scores of references to people, events and articles of the last 82 years. And as an added feature to its readers, and through a partnership with Shazam’s new visual recognition technology, readers are able to use their mobile devices to connect directly from the print magazine to Esquire’s coverage of those moments within the new digital archive.

And also to celebrate the 1000th issue, Esquire joined forces with PRX, an award-winning public media company, to launch a podcast deconstructing classic non-fiction stories from the vault of the 82-year-old magazine that continues to push the envelope when it comes to narrative journalism. These podcasts will be published every two weeks. Talk about creative innovation.

I spoke with David recently about his time at Esquire and the many innovations and creative ways he and his team are constantly reinventing and reinvigorating the brand. It was a delightful conversation that took me back to the magazine’s past and invariably full-circle into its future. And truly it’s a given, no one knows Esquire like the man in charge.

So, I hope you enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with the charismatic David Granger, editor-in-chief, Esquire, as you read how a legacy magazine can take a cue from its past and continue to flourish.

But first, the sound-bites:

ESQ040113_024 On the last 18 years he’s spent at Esquire and what conclusions his own life has lead him to draw about the magazine: That’s such a good question. The only thing that seems to be consistent about Esquire is that for it to thrive we have to constantly think about how to reinvent and reinvigorate it and continue to enable it to address the desires and needs of our readers as the world changes. I can’t say that there’s something that we can do or have done consistently for 18 years, except to try and come up with new ways to use the magazine mediums. We try to find interesting new ways to use paper and ink and design and words.

On how busy he is as an editor in the 21st century and when he has time to sleep: I have really good people working with me and that enables me to entrust them with many responsibilities. I don‘t do this all by myself is what I’m saying. I think the key to being an editor now in 2015 is being constantly open to new things. I don’t have every idea but I have to be open to the possibilities when the people on my staff or people from outside my staff present me with new opportunities like the whole thing we’re doing now with the archive and with trying to make a business essentially out of our past. That wasn’t my idea, but I was open enough that I wanted to advocate for it with David Carey and the other people in the Hearst executive pool to make it happen.

On whether his editor’s role today makes him more of a curator than a creator, especially with the launch of Esquire Classic: It’s both. Yes, have the idea, but once Tyler had the revelation, I thought, wow, we have like hundreds and hundreds of audio interviews; what can we do with those? And then I think it might have been Cal (Fussman), who’s done the bulk of our “What I’ve Learned”s, who introduced us to an animator who’d actually animated an interview that Cal had done with Larry King just for his own purposes. And after that I knew that we could do this with a lot of people, so it’s not just being a curator, but it’s having the idea to do something different. Curating is very important, especially with the archive.

On whether he thinks there are more editors out there like him that believe in both print and other forms of expression: I think there are a lot of really excellent editors who believe in print, but also believe in expanding their creative impulses across other forms of expression too. I don’t think that I’m unique; I think there are more people who see the unique value of print, but also see the power of dissemination that’s offered by the web or other forms of digital media.

On whether there was ever a time in his career that he believes that print was a dying breed: No, I’ve never felt that. I’ve been discouraged and disappointed when people expressed this idea that inevitably print was going to go away. And it’s not just because I believe that it’s the greatest medium ever created. I think that there is some appeal to it that is being demonstrated all over again. You see sales in books, in paper, are climbing while the digital experience in books is beginning to decline.

On a major stumbling block he’s faced and how he overcame it: The biggest challenge for anybody is overcoming the conventional wisdom, because from 2008 and for at least five years after, the conventional wisdom was that print was a less exciting medium, which is kind of why I did all of those gimmicks because I wanted to prove that print was the most exciting medium ever. It makes your job even harder when you have to do your job, plus convince people as well as you can, that what your life’s work is will continue to be the most exciting medium that’s ever been invented.

On whether he thinks consumers today are gravitating more toward the tried and true brands that they’ve always known rather than the new ones that have come and gone: If that’s true I think it’s because in this generation that advertisers and marketers call millennials, there’s a hunger for the most overused term in marketing, which is authenticity. I believe a younger generation that’s looking for guidance looks to tried and true sources.

On what he might be doing in the evenings if someone came unannounced to his home: (Laughs) It depends on the season. When it’s warm, I’m usually sitting on my back deck with a glass of tequila and reading either a magazine or a book. But I could also be watching television, but yes, I think you would find me most likely having a drink and reading something, or enjoying dinner with my wife.

On anything else he’d like to add: I’m in the midst of a series of planning meetings for issues in 2016, so I’m intensely looking forward to what we’re doing and where we’re going. But I’m also finding that exploration of our past to be really fascinating. It’s just so cool that in addition to the archive, we’ve also launched this podcast series called Esquire Classic that dovetails with that. So, the archive is promoting the fact that we are using elements from our archive, whether it’s an F. Scott Fitzgerald story or a Nora Ephron story, to create new forms of entertainment in this podcast that we’re doing with PRX that we recently launched.

On what keeps him up at night: I’ve been sleeping pretty well lately. It’s been an extremely good year and I guess that’s my answer; I’ve been sleeping pretty well lately.

And now for the complete, lightly edited Mr. Magazine™ conversation with David Granger, editor-in-chief, Esquire magazine.

Samir Husni: David, you’ve published at least one-fifth of all the issues Esquire has done in its entire history, and if my math is correct, that would be about 200 issues under your belt.

David Granger: Yes, it’s more than 200, but I don’t know exactly how many.

Samir Husni: But it’s around one-fifth of the total number of issues.

David Granger: Right.

Samir Husni: You took the job in 1997 and Esquire was a completely different magazine then than it is today. Through those 18 years, what conclusions has your own life lead you to draw about the life of Esquire over the last 18 years?

David Granger: That’s such a good question. The only thing that seems to be consistent about Esquire is that for it to thrive we have to constantly think about how to reinvent and reinvigorate it and continue to enable it to address the desires and needs of our readers as the world changes.

I can’t say that there’s something that we can do or have done consistently for 18 years, except to try and come up with new ways to use the magazine mediums. We try to find interesting new ways to use paper and ink and design and words.

The only thing that I can think of that we’ve done the entire time is this column called “What I’ve Learned,” which seems to have some enduring appeal because we do exactly what you’re asking me to do right now; try and draw conclusions and wisdom from them. And that has proved to be sort of eternally entertaining or gratifying to our readers. But other than that I think we’ve changed just about everything.

Samir Husni: With the column “What I’ve Learned” and in just taking a look at the older issues of Esquire; you’ve left almost no one out when it comes to learning something from them, from God to just about every mortal. (Laughs)

David Granger: (Laughs too). Are you saying we should be running out of subjects?

Samir Husni: (Laughs again) You have all the angels left, you can expand on them.

David Granger: (Continues to laugh).

Samir Husni: When you started 18 years ago, you knew exactly what the job of editor entailed. Today, if I follow what you do in just one week, the question that comes to my mind is when does David have time to sleep?

David Granger: I have really good people working with me and that enables me to entrust them with many responsibilities. I don‘t do this all by myself is what I’m saying.

I think the key to being an editor now in 2015 is being constantly open to new things. I don’t have every idea but I have to be open to the possibilities when the people on my staff or people from outside my staff present me with new opportunities like the whole thing we’re doing now with the archive and with trying to make a business essentially out of our past. That wasn’t my idea, but I was open enough that I wanted to advocate for it with David Carey and the other people in the Hearst executive pool to make it happen. That started more than two years ago when I was able to convince Hearst to allow Tyler Cabot to accept a Nieman fellowship. And nobody in the Hearst magazine division had ever been offered or accepted a Nieman before, so they had to make an exception. Their policy is to allow that to happen and they did.

When he got back and he had a billion different ideas of new ways to both tell stories and sell stories, I had to advocate for his ideas with David and get him to approve a modest budget so that we could move forward.

It’s been amazing, but as the editor I don’t always have all the ideas, I just have to be open to the best ones or the ones that seem like they can lead us to someplace that enhances the potential of the magazine. And this idea of trying to use elements of the magazine’s past to create something that’s completely new is thrilling to me right now. We’ve been working on this for 2½ years, this notion and how to bring it to life. And I think it’s really something that’s pretty unique and it’s exciting. It’s going to do good things for us.

In my editor’s letter about this issue, I talk about this idea of “the eternal now,” how more than ever everything is present and my metaphor was when the iTunes store launched I would see my daughters browsing it and occasionally buying music from it, and they weren’t buying music because it was new, they didn’t know if they were listening to the Beatles and a song that came from 1967, they were just experiencing it as something new. And I think that’s what’s happening with the archive that we’ve created and launched. And with several other projects as well.

What we’re doing is we’re taking things that were created decades ago in many cases and we’re making them completely new to people who were never aware of their existence, which is just fascinating.

We did that with the “What I’ve Learned” mini-site that we created on the medium platform where we used the old interviews from “What I’ve Learned.” We actually had the audio and we turned them into animations. So, we had a three minute animation of George Clooney’s “What I’ve Learned” and a three minute animation of Tom Cruise’s “What I’ve Learned” and we did eight or ten others. And then we did a lot of original ones and some classic ones and created a whole new experience for people who were probably never aware that Esquire did this. And we got Microsoft to sponsor it and actually made some money.

It’s like this whole idea of taking things that we created a long time ago and giving them new life; I think it has a ton of potential and it’s really exciting right now.

Samir Husni: Does that put more responsibility on the editor to be more of a curator, rather than just a creator?

David Granger: It’s both. Yes, have the idea, but once Tyler had the revelation, I thought, wow, we have like hundreds and hundreds of audio interviews; what can we do with those? And then I think it might have been Cal (Fussman), who’s done the bulk of our “What I’ve Learned”s, who introduced us to an animator who’d actually animated an interview that Cal had done with Larry King just for his own purposes.

And after that I knew that we could do this with a lot of people, so it’s not just being a curator, but it’s having the idea to do something different. Curating is very important, especially with the archive.

And that’s what’s radically different about Esquire’s archive from any magazine archive that’s come before. Most magazine archives, or all of them that I know of, they’re just sort of presented for you. Here it is. It’s from The New Yorker and it’s organized by issue date and cover and there is a search function, but they don’t actively tell you what you might be interested in reading. So, we created a homepage that is distinct from the archive platform, but it dovetails with it, on which we take news events and say, OK, this happened today, people could be interested in reading this. Recently when the MacArthur grants were announced, we went back into the archive and found all the MacArthur geniuses who had written for Esquire in the past. And we surfaced their stories.

Or when Elon Musk recently launched a new model X, we resurfaced Tom Junod’s epic profile of Elon and promoted it on the homepage of the archive. So, we’re giving people the sense that the past is urgent. In order to understand the present, you can come to us and we can help you put things that are happening right now into context.

Samir Husni: You’ve always been a defender of print and talked about the necessity of print, but you’re always looking to all the other platforms or media and everything that’s out there. In fact, on the web you identify yourself as the editor of Esquire magazine, not just Esquire. Why do you think we don’t have more David Granger’s out there?

David Granger: I think there are a lot of really excellent editors who believe in print, but also believe in expanding their creative impulses across other forms of expression too. I don’t think that I’m unique; I think there are more people who see the unique value of print, but also see the power of dissemination that’s offered by the web or other forms of digital media.

It’s a cliché, but look at Adam Moss who creates a great magazine and whose web offshoots are as exciting as anything on the Internet. The guys at Fast Company in ink work really hard across all sorts of media without ever thinking that print is the ugly cousin. I think there are a number of people who are thinking in all of these different ways, while continuing to try and improve what they do in print. And they seem even more vital and special.

The advantage that print has is really two-fold. One is that as digital media moves to the phone, it’s pretty easy to see what the difference is between digital media and print media. Print is just so much bigger and the display is huge, the colors are vibrant and you get to use design and it’s just a completely different experience.

Fifteen years ago everybody was just trying to put what magazines did or what newspapers did onto a computer screen. And this is kind of the same thing. Now, what gets created for a phone is very different from what gets created for a magazine. In general, though there are some exceptions to this these days, what’s being created for a magazine is more ambitious and more sprawling and more built-to-last. I think more than ever, and I see this when I go out and talk to advertisers around the country, that they’re beginning to see that we’re not even in the same game. Digital media has created one thing and print is creating another and they’re probably appealing to different kinds of people in large part. So, you have to create advertising and marketing that’s unique to those forms. I think you kind of have to keep your feet in both camps while you’re trying to do amazing things in each.

Samir Husni: You’re one of the few editors that I’ve met who never lost faith in print. Am I dreaming that fact about you or did you believe at one stage in your career that print was dying?

David Granger: No, I’ve never felt that. I’ve been discouraged and disappointed when people expressed this idea that inevitably print was going to go away. And it’s not just because I believe that it’s the greatest medium ever created. I think that there is some appeal to it that is being demonstrated all over again. You see sales in books, in paper, are climbing while the digital experience in books is beginning to decline.

There’s just an inherent appeal to it that, even if you don’t do anything extraordinary, is going to survive. But then when you take the advantage of the print, the things that get me excited that we’ve done to try and expand what print can do then I think it will have a long and colorful and wonderful life. I’ve always believed that and I’ve been open to the possibility that I was completely wrong, but as it turns out my and my staff’s faith in our medium has been rewarded for quite some time.

Samir Husni: For you personally, what has been the major stumbling block that you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?

David Granger: I would say that each year every editor in the business is faced with trying to do the things that we value and the things that make a magazine successful with slightly fewer resources. So, you have to be endlessly creative on how you get the most out of the dollars you spend.

But that’s been true for every year of the 18 years that I’ve been at Esquire. We’ve produced cost for at least 17 of those 18 years. There might have been one year where we stayed about level with the previous year. And that’s always a little bit of a challenge, but we’ve sort of gotten used to that.

The biggest challenge for anybody is overcoming the conventional wisdom, because from 2008 and for at least five years after, the conventional wisdom was that print was a less exciting medium, which is kind of why I did all of those gimmicks because I wanted to prove that print was the most exciting medium ever. It makes your job even harder when you have to do your job, plus convince people as well as you can, that what your life’s work is will continue to be the most exciting medium that’s ever been invented.

Those are like little stumbling blocks, but mostly the hardest thing is having good ideas. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: (Laughs too).

David Granger: But that’s the joy of the job too.

Samir Husni: As we look ahead to the next five years; I feel, at least as an outsider looking in, there’s some sort of resurgence of men’s magazines, such as Esquire and GQ, they seem to be getting fatter and bigger. Do you think that our audience, our consumers, our customers out there are gravitating more toward the tried and true brands that they’ve always known, rather than the new brands that have come and gone, and if so, why?

David Granger: If that’s true I think it’s because in this generation that advertisers and marketers call millennials, there’s a hunger for the most overused term in marketing, which is authenticity. I believe a younger generation that’s looking for guidance looks to tried and true sources. I just think that we can be trusted in a way that some newer brands can’t. Newer brands have the advantage of being exciting and groundbreaking and all of those things, but I do think there is a valued heritage and that may be part of why some of these well-established brands are having a pretty good run right now.

Samir Husni: If I was ever to visit you unannounced at your home, what would I catch David doing in the evening? Are you reading a magazine or a book on your iPad or none of the above?

David Granger: (Laughs) It depends on the season. When it’s warm, I’m usually sitting on my back deck with a glass of tequila and reading either a magazine or a book. But I could also be watching television, but yes, I think you would find me most likely having a drink and reading something, or enjoying dinner with my wife. When I’m home, I’m pretty low-key. I dabble in watching sports and television series, but when I’m home it’s mostly time for some kind of relaxation or meeting with friends.

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

David Granger: I’m in the midst of a series of planning meetings for issues in 2016, so I’m intensely looking forward to what we’re doing and where we’re going. But I’m also finding that exploration of our past to be really fascinating. It’s just so cool that in addition to the archive, we’ve also launched this podcast series called Esquire Classic that dovetails with that. So, the archive is promoting the fact that we are using elements from our archive, whether it’s an F. Scott Fitzgerald story or a Nora Ephron story, to create new forms of entertainment in this podcast that we’re doing with PRX that we recently launched.

I love doing original journalism, but I’m also really getting excited about doing completely novel things with archival material. It’s like to make the past present and it’s really exciting. It’s like a new way forward and I think there are many entities that have done that, whether it’s movie studios using their catalogue of old film, but it’s very rare in the magazine business that people have found a way to make the old both new and profitable. And I think it’s really exciting.

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

David Granger: I’ve been sleeping pretty well lately. It’s been an extremely good year and I guess that’s my answer; I’ve been sleeping pretty well lately.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

GQ – The Magazine & The Brand: Much More Than Just Two Letters – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Howard Mittman, Publisher, GQ.

October 12, 2015

“I think forever and always there will be an audience for print. I don’t think the inevitable path for print is to go away, I don’t even think the inevitable path is for print to be some sort of retro-iconic version of what records are to music lovers. But what I do think is print will evolve and print will change and I believe the path that we’re on, expanding the size and the weight and increasing the experience for consumers as opposed to decreasing, which is what most of our competitors are doing, is the right path.” Howard Mittman

Ryan Reynolds Cover The pinnacle of men’s fashion and lifestyle, GQ Magazine is looking to the future with creative innovation and boldness, both with its print product and all of its digital facets. And the man leading and driving the brand into the future is celebrating his one year anniversary with the magazine this month.

Howard Mittman is gregariously passionate when he talks about the brand he now calls his own. Coming from Wired after serving as vice president and publisher; Howard took the technologically savvy magazine to new heights under his guidance and he’s doing the same with GQ.

I spoke with Howard recently and we talked about the changes that have already been implemented at GQ and a hint about a few that are in the works. It was a lively and enjoyable discussion that made me feel as if I was talking with Howard in the comfort of his living room at home. The man is personable, open and very knowledgeable when it comes to the role of publisher of a major magazine.

So, straighten your tie and polish your shoes (ladies too) and get ready to enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Howard Mittman, Publisher, GQ.

But first, the sound-bites:

Howard Mittman GQ Publisher-Pablo Frisk On why if print is dead, the October issue of GQ is filled to capacity with advertising: Let me say first; print is not dead, a statement I’m fairly certain that you agree with. I truly think that print is evolving, and really all of media is evolving. So if you’re lucky enough to have the opportunity to work at a brand like GQ that is clearly number one in its category, whether you’re looking at fashion, style or just general interest for men, I have a really strong notion that we’ll be able to capture a significant part of the, not only advertising dollars, but the consumer mindset and attention that comes along with having a brand that’s more than a brand; it’s an adjective.

On how his approach has changed from being chief revenue officer at Wired to becoming chief revenue officer at GQ:
One of the opportunities afforded to me at Wired was to be deeply immersed inside the digital culture. And the opportunity to take that kind of culture and bring it here is enormous. GQ, from a digital perspective, has a fair amount of really good things going on. Think about it this way for a second and this almost translates back to your first question about print being dead; every 60 seconds a consumer types in #GQ into Instagram. Every 30 seconds a consumer types in #GQ into Instagram and Facebook and every 20 seconds a consumer types in #GQ across all social media. That means consumers are associating their pictures, their friends and themselves with our brand. That’s a really powerful statement about what GQ is, what it means and the relationship it has with not only it’s current consumers, but with millennial and Gen Z consumers.

On whether he believes the tablet and the homepage are dead:
So often in the industry things are cool, and shiny new objects get our attention, like dogs with firetrucks that go down the street, inevitably we realize that we can’t catch them. One thing I will say though, what happens is maybe tablets haven’t realized their full dream, in terms of transforming the entirety of our business, but they’re a really smart component to print. The whole direction of the future of Condé Nast and the industry of print has not been changed by tablets, but we still have 85 or 90,000 subscribers a month and it’s a really healthy component to print. And I think that’s the difference; we’re too quick to anoint new things as the next savior, or the next end-all-be-all versus the reality of them as just being a part of a larger story.

On whether GQ is doing anything different with its print product:
We’re doing a few things that I think you might find really interesting. In September we pushed the cover price from $5.99 to $7.99. And we’ve seen no negative impact at all on sales; it’s been a really wonderful test that gives us a sense of the potential of elasticity on the consumer side. In December, we’ll be doing the same thing, but in addition to pushing the price, we’ll also be pushing the size of the folio. It’s going to be a larger folio and a heavier paper stock. Again, testing the consumer side’s demand for a product that we think can be more luxurious and look more like a coffee table book than a magazine. And I think the inevitable future of print is that it will become an enthusiast’s product; people who love it will love it.

On why it took so long for publishers, using Jim Nelson’s (editor, GQ) quote to “make print printier,” when it wasn’t too long ago everyone was decreasing their print product instead of increasing it:
That’s a good question. I think ultimately like all businesses and all mediums everywhere, like television or radio, when you’re the only game in town; you tend to do things that work for that moment as opposed to building for the future. Who could have predicted that GQ’s Instagram feed would have 2 million followers or that Taylor Swift would have 50 million, right?

On any major stumbling block he’s faced and how he overcame it:
The challenge has been transitioning the mindset and the behaviors of the team. What I’ve been really excited to find is that there was and is this absolute thirst to learn the secret sauce of what it means to exist in a multi-platform business and a digital environment. And I’ve seen this team, on both ad and edit, and not all because of me, run toward this opportunity to transform themselves in so many different ways.

On how his role of publisher/chief revenue officer has changed over the years since the dawn of the digital age and is it easier or harder: We’re competing with startups that don’t care about profit, but care about evaluation. In video we’re competing against broadcast, networks and cable networks; in digital we’re competing against social networks; in events we’re competing against event spaces. So as we continue to grow this footprint, to grow this brand, we’re seemingly in competition with everyone. That’s the challenge. And there are only so many hours in a day and you have to figure out how and where to focus your attentions. So, it is harder; I think it’s significantly harder. The flip side is this kind of challenge or opportunity, or these kinds of distribution mechanisms, digital and otherwise, interest you; I don’t think there has ever been a more interesting or exciting time to be in this seat or have this role.

On whether he can ever envision the GQ brand without the print component:
I can envision it, but I don’t actually think it will ever happen. I think forever and always there will be an audience for print. I don’t think the inevitable path for print is to go away, I don’t even think the inevitable path is for print to be some sort of retro-iconic version of what records are to music lovers. But what I do think is print will evolve and print will change and I believe the path that we’re on, expanding the size and the weight and increasing the experience for consumers as opposed to decreasing, which is what most of our competitors are doing, is the right path.

On what motivates him to get out of bed every morning:
I set the alarm for 5:23 and I go to SoulCycle most days before work, so that truthfully is what gets me out of bed. What gets me showered and to work is there’s a genuine level of enthusiasm here for this brand at GQ and for the opportunities that lay ahead. And some days I’m just completely left in awe at the level of intelligence and passion and dedication of the team here at GQ. They are some of the smartest people that I’ve ever worked with. And I think that what you find throughout this floor is that the cheekiness and the irreverence and the humor, the intelligence and the style that exists in the magazine and in the content online permeates the offices and the cubicles here in a way that I’ve never seen before.

On anything else he’d like to add:
I’d like to talk about young talent for a second because we hear a lot about millennials and the challenges of working with millennials, but I’ve found the complete opposite hear at GQ. We’re surrounded by so many 20-somethings who work incredibly long hours and are passionate and dedicated and are the complete opposite of what popular culture and mass media would have you believe about that generation.

On what keeps him up at night:
Finding a private school for my son. (Laughs) To be honest, I’m sleeping soundly with GQ, but the private school admission process in New York City is a daunting one for sure.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Howard Mittman, Publisher, GQ.

Samir Husni: If print is dead; why do I have to wait until page 56 to find the Letter from the Editor in the October, 2015 issue of GQ? It’s filled to capacity with advertising, what’s going on?

Rob Lowe Cover Howard Mittman: Let me say first; print is not dead, a statement I’m fairly certain that you agree with. I truly think that print is evolving, and really all of media is evolving. Television is probably going through what print went through three or four years ago. There are a lot of seismic shifts happening.

But from a print perspective, gone are the days when men are going to subscribe to three, four or five magazines. There’s just an infinite amount of choice and there’s an ability to find likeminded content almost anywhere these days, from your laptop to your phone to the screen inside your elevator.

So, I think what’s happened is men specifically, and I’ll speak about men since I know that market better, are looking to maybe invest in one magazine brand. And they’re looking at it not as a magazine; they’re looking at it as a media property that they can go deeper and wider into.

So if you’re lucky enough to have the opportunity to work at a brand like GQ that is clearly number one in its category, whether you’re looking at fashion, style or just general interest for men, I have a really strong notion that we’ll be able to capture a significant part of the, not only advertising dollars, but the consumer mindset and attention that comes along with having a brand that’s more than a brand; it’s an adjective. GQ is a heck of a lot larger than just two letters, it’s an actual representation of what it means to be an American gentleman; it’s a compliment.

From my perspective, magazines are evolving but strong brands and brands that even outpunch their weight, such as GQ, have a real opportunity in a variety of different ways and places.

Samir Husni: Coming from being publisher of Wired, you were used to working with people and technology. When you were offered the job of publisher at GQ, where you would be dealing more with humans-only and men specifically; can you take me back to that particular moment when you took the job and what you were feeling?

Howard Mittman: Probably wow; I’ve got to buy some new suits. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: (Laughs too).

Howard Mittman: (Laughs again).

Samir Husni: Can you tell me the difference in your approach from being the chief revenue officer at Wired to now the chief revenue officer at GQ? How has your modus operandi changed when it comes to selling, marketing and just taking care of your new brand?

Howard Mittman: One of the opportunities afforded to me at Wired was to be deeply immersed inside the digital culture. And the opportunity to take that kind of culture and bring it here is enormous.

GQ, from a digital perspective, has a fair amount of really good things going on. Think about it this way for a second and this almost translates back to your first question about print being dead; every 60 seconds a consumer types in #GQ into Instagram. Every 30 seconds a consumer types in #GQ into Instagram and Facebook and every 20 seconds a consumer types in #GQ across all social media. That means consumers are associating their pictures, their friends and themselves with our brand. That’s a really powerful statement about what GQ is, what it means and the relationship it has with not only it’s current consumers, but with millennial and Gen Z consumers.

It also speaks to the opportunities inherent from a social and digital perspective to us should we put ourselves in a position to capitalize on it. And I’ve spent the better part of the last year, along with Jim Nelson and Mike Hofman and a lot of really talented people here, doing just that.

We revamped the entirety of our web program from the CMS (Content Management System) the site runs on, to the homepage, to the article pages, to the mobile platform, the recirculation modules and the slideshows, to say nothing of the massive amount of content we’re now producing. We’re doing maybe 35 to 36 unique stories per day on GQ.com. We’re publishing across multiple platforms and doing it seamlessly and we’ve seen our track click increase from 6 million uniques to 11 million uniques. These are some miraculous jumps inside of a year and I think they hint at just the very beginning of what opportunities that we have digitally.

Wired helped me because I knew how to do this; GQ helps me because the enormity of the brand is unlike anything else, I think, in this entire industry. There are very few brands, maybe a Vogue that has that kind of presence, and so capitalizing on that and being able to stand on the shoulders of it is fun.

Samir Husni: The first time you and I met you were at Wired and you were showing me the Wired app.

Howard Mittman: I remember that, yes.

Samir Husni: Now I hear people in New York telling me that the tablet is dead, the homepage is dead; why do you think we’re so quick to welcome all of these new digital devices and platforms, yet so quick to bury them as well? Do you really believe the tablet and the homepage are dead?

Howard Mittman: So often in the industry things are cool, and shiny new objects get our attention, like dogs with firetrucks that go down the street, inevitably we realize that we can’t catch them.

One thing I will say though, what happens is maybe tablets haven’t realized their full dream, in terms of transforming the entirety of our business, but they’re a really smart component to print. And I think that what we’ve found is ultimately the tablet is in between a desktop and a laptop, but moreover it’s really much more of a consumption device than a production device. And in that, it’s more akin to a digital magazine than it is a mobile phone or a desktop, so sure, the whole direction of the future of Condé Nast and the industry of print has not been changed by tablets, but we still have 85 or 90,000 subscribers a month and it’s a really healthy component to print.

And I think that’s the difference; we’re too quick to anoint new things as the next savior, or the next end-all-be-all versus the reality of them as just being a part of a larger story.

Samir Husni: Why do you think now, more than ever before, that we’re seeing this resurgence of life to the print product, specifically GQ, it’s becoming bigger and fatter. Is it the whole combination of your process or are you doing something specific with print that you haven’t done before?

Howard Mittman: We’re doing a few things that I think you might find really interesting. In September we pushed the cover price from $5.99 to $7.99. And we’ve seen no negative impact at all on sales; it’s been a really wonderful test that gives us a sense of the potential of elasticity on the consumer side.

In December, we’ll be doing the same thing, but in addition to pushing the price, we’ll also be pushing the size of the folio. It’s going to be a larger folio and a heavier paper stock. Again, testing the consumer side’s demand for a product that we think can be more luxurious and look more like a coffee table book than a magazine. And I think the inevitable future of print is that it will become an enthusiast’s product; people who love it will love it. And what we’ll find inside that reaction of enthusiasts is that they’ll be willing to pay more for a product that has a greater level of luxury that gives them more of what they love about the medium and as Jim Nelson is fond of saying. “Makes print printier.”

We’re testing this now actively on the newsstand; we’re testing the size and the weight of the issue in December and I believe that will help us transition the kind of experience we deliver in print at the same time that we increase our digital offerings and make sure that we push content out across a variety of distribution mechanisms, because ultimately it’s the consumer who decides if they want to interact with GQ. We just happen to be fortunate enough to be in a brand they want to interact with in all these different places. Print will still be a big part of that.

Michael B Jordan Cover Samir Husni: I’m delighted to hear that because I’ve always wondered why magazine publishers as a whole went through a period where they were decreasing the quality of paper and almost giving the magazine away. Why did it take us so long to quote Jim, “Make print printier?”

Howard Mittman: That’s a good question. I think ultimately like all businesses and all mediums everywhere, like television or radio, when you’re the only game in town; you tend to do things that work for that moment as opposed to building for the future. Who could have predicted that GQ’s Instagram feed would have 2 million followers or that Taylor Swift would have 50 million, right?

We used to own the printing press, literally and figuratively. Now, there’s a printing press in Taylor’s pocket; there’s a printing press in my pocket. As the world evolves, I think some of those decisions to decrease the point of entry for the price of the magazine to increase the scale of the audience and have that subsidized by advertisers, well, that model doesn’t work in the same way that it used to.

And so what we’re doing, in terms of pushing price and trying to move the brand out, is get it into a space where we can probably transition subscription through membership. That’s our goal. A subscription is $20 per year and someone sends a check. A membership is $60 or $100 or $200 or even $500 and it involves product boxes, samples or access to events and concierge services, and just a whole host of other things. All of those opportunities are being explored around this moment of disruption. And in spite of the disruption, it brings a ton of opportunities if you have a strong brand and strong connections with your community and GQ has both.

Samir Husni: Just from hearing you, it would seem that it’s been smooth sailing and full steam ahead during your first year as publisher of GQ. Have you had any moment that you would call a major stumbling block during this past year, and if so, how did you overcome it?

Howard Mittman: The challenge has been transitioning the mindset and the behaviors of the team. What I’ve been really excited to find is that there was and is this absolute thirst to learn the secret sauce of what it means to exist in a multi-platform business and a digital environment. And I’ve seen this team, on both ad and edit, and not all because of me, run toward this opportunity to transform themselves in so many different ways.

So, making sure you have the right people in place; making sure that you have the right mindset in place; these things are never easy and they take time. But from a digital perspective, whether it’s traffic or the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) we’re delivering for advertisers or the revenue that we’re bringing in, we’re so far ahead of where I thought we’d be at this time. But like always, there’s still work to do.

Samir Husni: Speaking of more work to do; comparing your job of publisher/chief revenue officer prior to 2007, prior to the dawn of the digital age, to today’s role; do you think the job has become easier or harder? How has it changed?

Howard Mittman: I was promoted to publisher in February 2009 at Wired, so I wouldn’t know what it was like before that. And that was the worst time to be promoted as far as the economy goes, by the way. (Laughs) But the job is significantly different. It’s significantly harder.

We’re competing with startups that don’t care about profit, but care about evaluation. In video we’re competing against broadcast, networks and cable networks; in digital we’re competing against social networks; in events we’re competing against event spaces. So as we continue to grow this footprint, to grow this brand, we’re seemingly in competition with everyone. That’s the challenge. And there are only so many hours in a day and you have to figure out how and where to focus your attentions. So, it is harder; I think it’s significantly harder.

The flip side is this kind of challenge or opportunity, or these kinds of distribution mechanisms, digital and otherwise, interest you; I don’t think there has ever been a more interesting or exciting time to be in this seat or have this role. We are in this wonderful position where we get to look out onto the horizon and chart the course for what this business will look like in the next five,10 or 20 years. And that’s a really enviable position. And it’s probably the most fun thing we do. The decisions that we’re making now are building the foundation for what GQ will look like in the next 50 years and what the magazine will be. That definitely means longer days and a little less sleep and it means the era of the three-martini lunch is long gone and won’t be coming back. But I love my job and I think it’s so much fun to have this opportunity to do more than just sell a page for a color bleed.

Samir Husni: Can you ever envision the GQ brand without the printed magazine?

Howard Mittman: I can envision it, but I don’t actually think it will ever happen. I think forever and always there will be an audience for print. I don’t think the inevitable path for print is to go away, I don’t even think the inevitable path is for print to be some sort of retro-iconic version of what records are to music lovers

But what I do think is print will evolve and print will change and I believe the path that we’re on, expanding the size and the weight and increasing the experience for consumers as opposed to decreasing, which is what most of our competitors are doing, is the right path.

And when you look at things like GQ Style, which is our biannual magazine that we produce; we’ve seen enormous consumer success with that, and it sells for $13.99 on the newsstand and it’s up 30% every year. So, again there are opportunities for expansion in print if you can find the right opportunity to hit the cross-section between advertiser and consumer interest. And I think some of those specialty properties like GQ Style are doing a really nice job of that.

Samir Husni: Can you expand a little bit on the whole idea of the GQ membership; are you going full-force with that and testing it now as we speak?

Howard Mittman: We are testing it now, but I probably don’t want to get too far down the path with that, but we are in the middle of doing a handful of tests that are producing great excitement about the possibilities of what this could do to transform the subscription model here.

Samir Husni: As you celebrate your first anniversary as publisher of GQ; what motivates you each morning to get out of bed and say it’s going to be a great day?

Howard Mittman: I set the alarm for 5:23 and I go to SoulCycle most days before work, so that truthfully is what gets me out of bed. What gets me showered and to work is there’s a genuine level of enthusiasm here for this brand at GQ and for the opportunities that lay ahead.

And some days I’m just completely left in awe at the level of intelligence and passion and dedication of the team here at GQ. They are some of the smartest people that I’ve ever worked with. And I think that what you find throughout this floor is that the cheekiness and the irreverence and the humor, the intelligence and the style that exists in the magazine and in the content online permeates the offices and the cubicles here in a way that I’ve never seen before. And so there’s a collegiality and a level of dedication and pride for what we do that I’ve never had the opportunity to work with in that level of intensity before. Coming here to work every day is a treat and I’ll do it as long as Bob and Chuck let me.

Samir Husni: If I met you on the streets of New York today, would I say that you’re definitely a GQ man?

Howard Mittman: (Laughs) It’s funny; I laugh because I think the power of the GQ brand when it comes to fashion and style is such that the things I wore at Wired that no one noticed, I think they’d notice now. I have a feeling that I could come in wearing tuxedo pants and a Knicks jersey and people would think that’s in style just because I work at GQ. (Laughs) It’s hard for me to say.

But if you’re lucky enough to see folks like Jim Moore, Mark Anthony Green, Will Welch and Jim Nelson come in everyday, you can figure out ways to copy a little ebit of what they do so you look better than most, but never as good as them.

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

Howard Mittman: I’d like to talk about young talent for a second because we hear a lot about millennials and the challenges of working with millennials, but I’ve found the complete opposite hear at GQ. We’re surrounded by so many 20-somethings who work incredibly long hours and are passionate and dedicated and are the complete opposite of what popular culture and mass media would have you believe about that generation.

And I think part of the reason that we’re able to have that is because while startup brands and places like Google and Twitter seem like wonderful opportunities for young talent, the truth is that in the same way that it was true in the 70s, 80s and 90s coming with us is an incredible experience and incubated unlike anything else we’ve ever seen.

And the way that this company, and not just GQ, but this entire company is pushing out into digital and social, events and licensing and a whole host of other places, the access and the opportunity you get on these brands is unmatched, I think. We don’t produce people or brands that stay in one specific vertical. We don’t produce linear opportunities for knowledge and I think I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by so many smart, talented young people who see that. And I wish that was spoken about a little more frequently inside of magazines and with the popular press because these jobs are a treat, a pleasure and a privilege and we’re always looking for smart people.

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

Howard Mittman: Finding a private school for my son. (Laughs) To be honest, I’m sleeping soundly with GQ, but the private school admission process in New York City is a daunting one for sure.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

Beekman 1802 Almanac: Two Men & A Magazine – From Farm To Press. The Mr. Magazine™ Interview with Brent Ridge, Co-Founder and Co-Editor-in-Chief.

October 9, 2015

A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story…

“I also think that there is a way for print magazines to live on, they just have to adapt. We look at some great magazines like Kinfolk Magazine and Sweet Paul Magazine, even Edible Magazine to some degree; these are people who are doing great things with print, but also trying to rejigger the business model of the print magazine. And that’s really what we’re doing with the partnership with Meredith; we wanted to create this really beautiful magazine using amazing paper; a magazine that people would actually want to keep and hold onto, rather than toss it away.” Brent Ridge

1802-1 Most of the time you’ll hear the phrase “I love all magazines equally” flow from the lips of Mr. Magazine™. And that’s because it’s true. Very rarely do I differentiate between my children; I love all of them the same. Every cover, every size and every finish; just every element of ink on paper brings me joy.

However on occasion there have been times, few and far, far between, where I have been overwhelmed by the subtle beauty and the pleasing content of a magazine. So much so that I find myself reading and rereading from front cover to back many times over.

That would be the case with Beekman 1802 Almanac. It’s an original twist on a generational favorite: the Farmer’s Almanac. Modernized, but not to the point that the old-time concept is unrecognizable, the magazine is a breath of fresh air on a hot, sweltering day at the newsstands.

Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell are co-editors-in-chief of this new title. And the two young men practice what they preach when it comes to the content and concept of the magazine. They live on a rural farm that was built in 1802 by Judge William Beekman and they love the farm life and experience it daily; they raise pigs, protect their apple trees from deer and practice the art of soap making. All farm-type things they learned from their neighbors, who are people that always believe in being neighborly. It’s a throwback existence that they enjoy immensely. And it shows throughout the pages of the magazine.

Partnered with the Meredith Corporation, which has assisted them in reaching a much broader audience, the sky (or I better say, Brent and Josh) seems to be the limit for this refreshing magazine.

I spoke to one half of this farm-loving duo recently, Brent Ridge. Brent and I discussed the genesis of the magazine, whether he and Josh had been accused of being crazy for starting a print magazine in this digital age, and we even covered a stumbling block or two that they had to face when getting it off the ground. But hey, for two guys who can muck out a barn, putting together a magazine should have been a piece of cake, right?

Find out the answer to that one as you read and enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Brent Ridge, co-editor-in-chief, Beekman 1802 Almanac.

But first, the sound bites:

Brent Ridge, co editor-in-chief and co founder, Beekman 1802 Almanac.

Brent Ridge, co editor-in-chief and co founder, Beekman 1802 Almanac.

On the genesis of Beekman 1802 Almanac: We’re always looking at the past and trying to modernize things from the past. So, the idea of doing a modern version of an almanac was something that had always intrigued us. We also felt that just from the people who were on our blog and our social media; there was a hunger for really great content that wasn’t being met.

On whether anyone has asked them yet if they’re out of their minds for starting a print magazine, especially an almanac, in a digital age: As I said, we always try to modernize old things; we do a modern take on very traditional things. So, that was in our wheelhouse. I also think that there is a way for print magazines to live on, they just have to adapt. We look at some great magazines like Kinfolk Magazine and Sweet Paul Magazine, even Edible Magazine to some degree; these are people who are doing great things with print, but also trying to rejigger the business model of the print magazine.

On any stumbling blocks they had to face and overcome during the process of putting the magazine together:
For us the hardest part was figuring out what the architecture of the magazine was going to be. And thinking about the things that were typically in a magazine, such as the letter from the editor and what our take would be on our own letter from the editor. So, that became “Life Lessons” for us. What will be the front-of-book feature in our magazine? And so that became the “Gazette.” And so, really just figuring out what was going to be the hallmark elements of the magazine that was the labor part.

On the most pleasant moment they’ve had throughout the process of the first issue: I think the most pleasant moment was when we saw the layout of the Gazette, which is our front-of-book feature. The theme of the magazine is “cultivate a better life” and that tagline was chosen deliberately, particularly the word cultivate. So many people today talk about living your best life and going after that best life, so that word cultivate has a certain amount of grit to it and the idea that you actually have to work for something in order to get it to grow and flourish. And that’s really what we believe.

On whether he thinks it’s easy to cultivate and duplicate the farm life through a magazine to someone who may be confined to the city limits:
I don’t think living a better life is ever easy; I do think it’s something that you have to work towards. We’re not experts at anything. When we got the farm, we weren’t farmers; we had to learn how to do that. We had to learn how to start our business and we had to learn how to put together a magazine.

On how they go beyond just a content-provider to being an experience maker instead:
What we hope to do as future issues of the magazine come out; we’re aiming to be a quarterly, so each season we would have this almanac guide to enjoying the individual seasons, but we hope to have actual events around the country built around each season of the almanac so that people could come and experience the content and we’ll bring the content of every issue to life and we’ll do that all across the country.

On if someone only had 15 minutes to read the magazine he would suggest reading only the Gazette: Yes, if you only have 15 minutes to sit down and read it, I would start with the Gazette because you’re going to get 20 amazing things to educate yourself and learn about.

On whether the 1802 concept of the magazine will keep me in the past the entire time I spend with it:
No, definitely not. Again, we say that everything that we do is a modern take on traditional life. We think that there are a lot of lessons that can be learned from the way people lived their lives in 1802, in terms of the quality of things that they produced, the level of detail on the things that they produced and the overall craftsmanship of their work.

On the working relationship between him and Josh while creating the magazine:
We are complete opposites. Anybody who has ever spent time with us will realize that. And I think that’s actually very beneficial to us, because we’re opposites and we’re also not afraid to present our viewpoint and to argue our viewpoint and I think that makes everything that we design, whether it’s one of our books or one of our products; I think it makes everything better by the fact that we have differing opinions.

On who the magazine’s audience is:
What we’ve found with our company, Beekman 1802, is that we’re really a mother/daughter brand, which I think very few brands like that exist these days, where you’re getting the moms and grandmothers to show an interest in what you’re doing. But we’re also getting that 22-year-old who’s just starting out their life out of college. And we go to do our book signings and other events; we can sometimes have three generations of people who are there to see us and get their books signed.

On what gives them the most satisfaction out of everything they do:
I think the biggest satisfaction for us comes from building community and finding likeminded people. We call everybody who comes into our realm our neighbors, whether they happen to be right down the street or halfway around the world. We call them our neighbors because we have a collective mindset.

On anything he’d like to add:
I hope that everybody enjoys the magazine as much as you did. We think that it’s different from anything else out there and we’re so lucky to have a great partner like Meredith. We just hope people find enjoyment in it.

On what motivates him to get up each morning:
I am a true Pollyanna. I get up every morning singing and I’m always in a good mood. And even if we’re not on the farm, if we’re traveling some place, I get up every morning and go outside and try to find something beautiful to reflect on.

On what keeps him up at night:
I’m a very good sleeper. Nothing keeps me up. I exhaust myself during the day so that when I hit the pillow I’m ready for sleep. So nothing keeps me up right now.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Brent Ridge, co-editor-in-chief, Beekman 1802 Almanac.

Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell Samir Husni: Congratulations for putting out such a great magazine. I loved it. I found myself looking at every page; I couldn’t put it down.

Brent Ridge: Thank you; I’m so pleased to hear you say that.

Samir Husni: Could you give me a little bit of background about the genesis of Beekman 1802 Almanac – this two men and a magazine dream? When was that conception moment when you both said, “We can do a magazine?”

Brent Ridge: We’re always looking at the past and trying to modernize things from the past. So, the idea of doing a modern version of an almanac was something that had always intrigued us. We also felt that just from the people who were on our blog and our social media; there was a hunger for really great content that wasn’t being met.

That’s really why we decided to do the magazine, because we felt that there was a desire for great content and then we just used the old Farmer’s Almanac as a jumping off point for our design and the concept.

Samir Husni: But has anyone asked either of you yet if you’re out of your minds for starting a print magazine, especially an almanac, when we’re living in a digital age?

Brent Ridge: As I said, we always try to modernize old things; we do a modern take on very traditional things. So, that was in our wheelhouse. I also think that there is a way for print magazines to live on, they just have to adapt. We look at some great magazines like Kinfolk Magazine and Sweet Paul Magazine, even Edible Magazine to some degree; these are people who are doing great things with print, but also trying to rejigger the business model of the print magazine.

And that’s really what we’re doing with the partnership with Meredith; we wanted to create this really beautiful magazine using amazing paper; a magazine that people would actually want to keep and hold onto, rather than toss it away. But in order to do a magazine like that and get it out to a wide audience, we needed the partnership of someone like Meredith, who could help us out with the paper, printing and distribution, so it’s a match made in heaven with Meredith.

Samir Husni: After you and Josh (Josh Kilmer-Purcell, co-editor-in-chief) decided once-and-for-all to do the magazine, tell me about that nine month experience; was it a tough labor or was it a strictly smooth delivery? Were there any stumbling blocks that you had to face and overcome?

Brent Ridge: Obviously, we had never put together a magazine before. I had worked at Martha Stewart, so I had contributed to a magazine, but had never actually sat down and thought about the elements that needed to be in place to make a great magazine.

For us the hardest part was figuring out what the architecture of the magazine was going to be. And thinking about the things that were typically in a magazine, such as the letter from the editor and what our take would be on our own letter from the editor. So, that became “Life Lessons” for us. What will be the front-of-book feature in our magazine? And so that became the “Gazette.” And so, really just figuring out what was going to be the hallmark elements of the magazine that was the labor part. After we got the structure down, it was easy to come up with great stories and pictures and things like that because the world is full of interesting things to talk about. It was just figuring out what was going to be the format.

Samir Husni: What has been the most pleasant moment for you during this process?

Brent Ridge: I want to say being finished with it. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: (Laughs too). But you know there is a second issue coming, so you’re never really finished.

Brent Ridge: Yes, exactly. I think the most pleasant moment was when we saw the layout of the Gazette, which is our front-of-book feature. The theme of the magazine is “cultivate a better life” and that tagline was chosen deliberately, particularly the word cultivate.

So many people today talk about living your best life and going after that best life, so that word cultivate has a certain amount of grit to it and the idea that you actually have to work for something in order to get it to grow and flourish. And that’s really what we believe.

The idea of the Gazette was that in each issue we’re going to give you these 20 themes that will help you to cultivate a better life. And when we saw that feature come together as our front-of-book feature, we said, yes, this clearly states what this magazine is going to be about.

Samir Husni: Do you think it’s easy to cultivate and duplicate your lifestyle, living on a farm, to a mass audience who may fantasize about living the farm life, but are still confined to the city limits?

Brent Ridge: I don’t think living a better life is ever easy; I do think it’s something that you have to work towards. We’re not experts at anything. When we got the farm, we weren’t farmers; we had to learn how to do that. We had to learn how to start our business and we had to learn how to put together a magazine.

So, the approach that we take with both our website and certainly with our magazine is that we’re not experts and we’re not trying to tell you how to live your life, we’re learning how to live and cultivate a better life and we just want to invite other people to learn along with us.

Samir Husni: When you invite people to have that dinner experience with the “Fabulous Beekman Boys,” how do you see your magazine going beyond just a content-provider to being an experience maker instead?

Brent Ridge: I’m glad you said that because we often think of what we’re doing as an experiential thing. Whether it’s our flagship store or our mercantile and shared screens or when people come and tour the farm in Sharon Springs, New York, we’re always thinking about how people can touch it or feel it and experience it; we think that’s so critical.

And what we hope to do as future issues of the magazine come out; we’re aiming to be a quarterly, so each season we would have this almanac guide to enjoying the individual seasons, but we hope to have actual events around the country built around each season of the almanac so that people could come and experience the content and we’ll bring the content of every issue to life and we’ll do that all across the country.

Samir Husni: What are you waiting for to decide about going quarterly? What are the determinates that will tell you it’s a go?

Brent Ridge: It will really depend on how the consumer responds to the magazine. If enough people like the things that we’ve put together here and like the content and spread the word, then that’s what we’ll do. You have to supply the consumer with something that they want. We always say that you can make any number of beautiful things that no one ever sees, so you do have to keep the consumer in mind and give them what they want. Hopefully, we’ve done that and if the consumer says so, then we’ll move forward.

Samir Husni: And do you think that people can replicate or duplicate that experience from the pages of the magazine?

Brent Ridge: That’s our goal and all of the things that we’re going to be talking about are very simple and very easy for the person who is either living on a farm and doesn’t have a lot of time because they’re farming, or that person who lives in the city or the suburbs who just dreams of that life. And so they can bring a little bit of that into their own home.

Samir Husni: If I told you that I only had 15 minutes to spend with your magazine, would you tell me; Samir, read nothing but the Gazette?

Brent Ridge: Yes, if you only have 15 minutes to sit down and read it, I would start with the Gazette because you’re going to get 20 amazing things to educate yourself and learn about.

Samir Husni: I see that we’re in 1802 from the title of the magazine, what will bring me back to the present as I’m reading? Will I need a goat or a donkey or something to kick me back into 2015 from the pages of 1802?

Brent Ridge: (Laughs) No, definitely not. Again, we say that everything that we do is a modern take on traditional life. We think that there are a lot of lessons that can be learned from the way people lived their lives in 1802, in terms of the quality of things that they produced, the level of detail on the things that they produced and the overall craftsmanship of their work.

So, we do think there are a lot of lessons that have been forgotten about when it comes to life in that timeframe, but we also try to put everything in the context of our modern world. For instance, one of the features in every issue is going to be the InstaStory, I don’t know if you noticed the story about the ice harvest, so in every issue of the Almanac there’s going to be an InstaStory taken from Instagram. It’s a story that’s told through our Instagram feed or one of our reader’s Instagram feeds. So, it’s the whole story told in pictures, because that’s so much how the modern consumer looks at life, with their Instagram feed. And we know that’s how people are living their lives, but how does that apply to what we’re trying to say in the Almanac? So, it really is about trying to blend the two worlds.

Samir Husni: Speaking of blending; can you talk a little bit about the working relationship between you and Josh when it comes to creating the magazine?

Brent Ridge: We are complete opposites. Anybody who has ever spent time with us will realize that. And I think that’s actually very beneficial to us, because we’re opposites and we’re also not afraid to present our viewpoint and to argue our viewpoint and I think that makes everything that we design, whether it’s one of our books or one of our products; I think it makes everything better by the fact that we have differing opinions. And sometimes if you can argue your point well enough, it doesn’t change the other person’s mind completely, but it moves the needle a little bit to a place where you may not have landed before and sometimes that’s more interesting.

We’ve been together now for 15 years; we understand how to communicate with one another and I think that’s critical.

Samir Husni: Who’s your audience? Whom do you want to see reading Beekman 1802 Almanac?

Brent Ridge: What we’ve found with our company, Beekman 1802, is that we’re really a mother/daughter brand, which I think very few brands like that exist these days, where you’re getting the moms and grandmothers to show an interest in what you’re doing. But we’re also getting that 22-year-old who’s just starting out their life out of college. And we go to do our book signings and other events; we can sometimes have three generations of people who are there to see us and get their books signed.

They’re all compelled by the story and they’re all really interested in cultivating a better life, they really are. We really don’t try and segment and say this is the audience we’re going after; we just want to provide great content that everybody can learn from.

Samir Husni: From everything you’re doing, the magazine, the blog and the products; what brings you the most joy at the end of the day when you sit down with that glass of wine or warm milk? What gives you that feeling of intense satisfaction?

Brent Ridge: I think the biggest satisfaction for us comes from building community and finding likeminded people. We call everybody who comes into our realm our neighbors, whether they happen to be right down the street or halfway around the world. We call them our neighbors because we have a collective mindset.

So, I think that building that community and finding likeminded people; that’s what we love to do and when you look at our Facebook page and all the people who have bought the magazine in any given week, they’re excited by it. And that’s what we’re honored by; that someone has chosen to bring a little bit of what we’ve done or our lives into their homes and share it with us and that’s an incredible honor. And I don’t think there’s anything better than that.

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

Brent Ridge: I hope that everybody enjoys the magazine as much as you did. We think that it’s different from anything else out there and we’re so lucky to have a great partner like Meredith. We just hope people find enjoyment in it.

Samir Husni: What makes you tick and click and motivates you to get up each morning?

Brent Ridge: I am a true Pollyanna. I get up every morning singing and I’m always in a good mood. And even if we’re not on the farm, if we’re traveling some place, I get up every morning and go outside and try to find something beautiful to reflect on. And that’s why almost every morning there’s some photo on our Instagram feed or on our Facebook page of something beautiful, because I think it’s so important to start your day off with a beautiful thought. And that’s what gets me started every morning.

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

Brent Ridge: I’m a very good sleeper. Nothing keeps me up. I exhaust myself during the day so that when I hit the pillow I’m ready for sleep. So nothing keeps me up right now.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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