Archive for the ‘News and Views’ Category

h1

ACT 10 Experience Welcomes MPA’s IMAG 2020… Change Is The Only Constant… Save The Date: April 21 to 23, 2020

December 9, 2019

The Magazine Innovation Center at The University of Mississippi’s School of Journalism and New Media announces the theme for its 10th anniversary ACT (Amplify, Clarify, and Testify) Experience: Change Is The Only Constant.  The ACT 10 Experience is also proud to announce that it is welcoming the MPA: The Association of Magazine Media’s IMAG 2020 community to the magazine media experience in Oxford, Mississippi.  The dates for the event are set for April 21 to 23, 2020.

The Magazine Innovation Center was founded in 2009.  The Center is the birthplace of the annual ACT Experience, which in 2020, will be in its 10th year. Each year MIC strives to provide industry leaders and aspiring media members a Think-and-Do Experience, brimming with ideas, inspiration and a little fun along the way. It’s also a time when students can meet and network with industry leaders and professionals in the media community to further their own portfolios and knowledge. The magazine students are paired with industry leaders to shadow and learn from their expertise and experience. It’s a three-day world filled with possibilities for everyone; from potential careers for students to new friendships and business conversations between leaders.

Nowhere else can future industry leaders (the students) exchange ideas and inspiration with current industry leaders (CEOs, presidents, publishers, editors and other magazine and magazine media professionals); it is truly a one-of-a-kind experience.

The ACT Experience brings together leaders in the magazine industry including MPA’s IMAG community to share best practices, resources and learning unique to enthusiast brands. Peer-to-peer networking, coupled with intelligence on issues central to enthusiast brands and the wider industry, make this gathering a “must attend” for indie leaders and their vendor partners.

In 2020, the ACT Experience will continue the discussions of the important issues facing the magazine and magazine media industry in this ever-changing world of media and technology. And of course, the value and benefit it will provide to anyone else interested in publishing and content will be incomparable.

The ACT 10 Experience will focus on the following six topics under its 10th anniversary theme:

 Change Is The Only Constant

  1. Transformation of magazines from pure ink on paper entities to multi- magazine media platforms: print, digital, video, audio, events, and social media.
  2. The future of social and marketing roles of magazines and magazine media
  3. The future of paper and printing industries
  4. The future of circulation and distribution
  5. The future of advertising and marketing
  6. The future of magazine launches

We will cover each of these important topics: distribution and circulation, advertising and marketing, creation and curation, transforming beyond print into digital, video, audio, and events, and last but not least, new magazine launch stories, along with other issues and information.

In addition to that, we’ll celebrate two awards during the conference: the IMAG award for excellence in Independent Magazine Media for 2019, and also the Magazine Innovation Center’s Launch of the Year for 2019.

Stay tuned for more details… and feel free to email me with any questions at samir.husni@gmail.com

Looking forward to seeing you in April 2020.

 

h1

Mr. Magazine™ Reveals the Future of the Magazine Industry*…

December 2, 2019

Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

When Mr. Magazine™ talks, publishers listen and readers reap the rewards.

Dr. Samir Husni, the man behind the persona, is the founder and director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media. He is also professor and Hederman lecturer at the school. Executives from most of the major publishing houses have consulted with Dr. Husni, and he’s regarded by many as the country’s leading magazine expert, making Mr. Magazine the go-to authority on periodicals that are published and printed on paper.

We spoke with Mr. Magazine about the exciting evolution of the medium — from the emergence of short-run niche publications to the shift among digital brands toward using print to connect with customers.

Mr. Magazine on the Allure of Print

“If it’s not ink on paper, it’s not a magazine,” Dr. Husni declares. He rejects the idea that blogs, lifestyle sites or content aggregators qualify as so-called digital magazines. Instead, he draws a line between magazines and magazine media — the various digital content-delivery satellites that orbit a brand. Ultimately, he challenges anyone to find a definition of “magazine” that doesn’t involve print.

Dr. Husni is known for telling his students, “The day you’re happy with a virtual boyfriend or girlfriend, let me know.”

For Mr. Magazine, print is the only reality. He talks about the human desire to own things and the need to lose oneself in the reading journey. “With digital, we search for something specific,” he says. “There’s no element of surprise. With a magazine, I may be interested in a cover story, but then all of a sudden … ‘Oh, wow! There’s an article on inkjet printing!’”

Mr. Magazine on Finding His Purpose

Before he was Mr. Magazine, Samir Husni grew up in Tripoli, Lebanon. He was first exposed to American comic books (also known as comic magazines) when he saw a television ad for a new series: “Superman.” The weekly comic magazine cost 40 cents, the exact amount of his allowance. He ran to the newsstands to get one.

“As I crossed the street, flipping through the pages of that magazine, something happened,” he says. “Either the ink on paper or the smell of it seeped into my body. From that moment, I knew that’s what I wanted to do with my life.”

After graduating from college at the top of his class, Samir was awarded a scholarship to come to the United States to work on a Ph.D. in journalism. He and his wife left Lebanon for the United States in 1978 on a journey toward what he called “the magazine Promised Land.”

Mr. Magazine on Why Print Magazines Aren’t Dead

In design, marketing and printing — where pundits are quick to pronounce things dead — Dr. Husni notes that there are more magazine titles on shelves than ever before.

“When I came to America in 1978, I think we had around 1,500 or 1,600 titles available to the general consumer. Now, we have more than 7,000,” he says. “Are we selling more magazines than we did in 1978? No, because we don’t have TV Guide with 18 million subscribers, Reader’s Digest with 18 million or National Geographic with 11 million. But for every TV Guide that sold 8 million copies a week on the newsstands, we have maybe 1,000 titles today to fill that void.”

According to Dr. Husni, the big difference is digital printing. “I remember the days when it used to take 10,000 copies to adjust color on press. But now, technologymakes it possible to print 500 copies. We’re seeing very niche, very specific magazines with press runs of 1,000 copies.”

These hyper-focused periodicals serve up in-depth content to narrower yet more loyal audiences. As in other industries, with magazine publishing, it seems the way to go is deeper, not broader. “That’s why I advise publishers and even printers to invest in short-run digital presses,” he says. “That’s the future of the magazine industry.”

Another player is the branded magazine — a periodical produced by a company for its unique audience. (Think Uncommon Path from REI and Paper Matters from Domtar.) By engaging customers with relevant content delivered in a high-touch format, brands can foster a sense of belonging and community.

To Dr. Husni, such tools aren’t merely a luxury — they’re mandatory. “How can you say that you have a 360-degree brand if you don’t have all of the components?” he asks. “To have a complete brand, companies need to manifest on all platforms.”

Mr. Magazine on the Future of Print Magazines

Looking ahead, Dr. Husni remains optimistic. He says print is neither winning nor losing the race against digital; rather, print is integrating itself into the branding ecosystem. Perhaps nowhere else is this more evident than among digital businesses.

“If digital were the same as a magazine, then why would digital companies like Airbnb and Netflix produce printed magazines to engage their audiences?” he asks.

Dr. Husni asserts that people value the sensory experiences of turning physical pages and navigating their way through content. Perhaps more importantly, brands that publish their own content have control over that content. He gives an illustration: “If, for example, Twitter decided tomorrow to ban media companies from using the platform, then what could a brand do? Twitter is a private entity; they control who’s in and who’s out. With print, brands can have complete control.”

Experience matters and print delivers — so much so that it’s redefining the role of the publisher. In the modern glut of information and noise, Dr. Husni believes magazines can help defragment our culture by creating communities around shared ideas.

“We’ve moved from mere content creators to content curators,” says Dr. Husni. “And now, we must become experience makers. The only way to engage your readers is to provide them with an experience in which they can lose themselves. A reader has to feel like a magazine was designed and curated with them in mind — and we have to make that happen.”

*A version of this story about Mr. Magazine originally appeared in Domtar’s Paper Matters magazine. Subscribe today to explore the world of print, design and paper.  This article is taken from Domtar’s Newsroom and was published on Nov. 26, 2019.
h1

The Definitive Guide On How To Launch Your Own Magazine In This Digital Age… A Mr. Magazine™ New Ink On Paper Book.

November 8, 2019

This last summer I spent quite a bit of time traveling and working on two new books: The Magazines And I which is in progress and The Definitive Guide on How To Launch Your Own Magazine + Lessons Learned From Those Who Have, which is out now and can be ordered by sending a check or money order for $80 to the Magazine Innovation Center, 114 Farley Hall, 555 Grove Loop, University, MS 38677.

Below is the Introduction to the book to give you an idea of how unique, applicable and spot on the advice is; advice from both me (Mr. Magazine™) and the 17 industry leaders and magazine entrepreneurs who were interviewed during 2018/2019 on Mr. Magazine’s™ blog. It’s a defining moment for all dreamers out there who want to start their own magazine, but just don’t know where to begin.

So, enjoy the Introduction and order your copy of the book today! The sooner you have it, the closer you are to fulfilling your magazine dreams!

The Never-Ending Power of Print in A Digital Age.

One word sums up the power of print in a digital age for me: magazines. That’s what this book is all about: magazines and how to launch them in this digital age.

It won’t be the first time or the last that someone will accuse me of losing my mind for advocating launching a print magazine today. In 2009 when I started the Magazine Innovation Center at The University of Mississippi with the tag line “Amplifying the Future of Print in A Digital Age,” colleagues, friends and foes alike thought that I had lost it. They all believed that I was so in love with print and magazines that I wasn’t thinking clearly. The future is digital and there is no room for magazines, they told me. But is it?

We have more magazines today on the marketplace than ever. More than 260 new magazines were published in the last 18 months, and more than 1,000 bookazines arrived on the nation’s newsstands. Both major publishers, Meredith and Hearst have published new magazines in the last six months, and so did hundreds of entrepreneurs.

Columbia Journalism Review wrote an article at the end of 2015 titled “Print Is The New New Media.” My reaction to the naysayers was very simple: I told you so. Every time someone starts a new magazine, or pub- lishes a new issue, it is new media. Magazines are ever changing and each issue is a continuation of what was published before.

Magazines, like the rest of humans and products, have a life cycle. A time to be born and a time to die. Today’s magazines, both new and old, are not like yesterday’s magazines and will not be like tomorrow’s magazines. However, they all have one thing in common. They are all much more than just content providers. They are experience makers that will take you into a “me time” journey like no other medium or platform can, engaging, appealing, pleasing, rewarding and above all satisfying to all your senses.

You are here for a reason. You are ready to take on one of the biggest undertakings of your lifetime. Without any delay, dive into this book that is the culmination of 40 years of studying, teaching, and consulting about the only subject I know, magazines. Allow me to present to you the definitive guide on how to launch your own magazine in this digital age.

Enjoy and let the fun begin.

And check out the Mr. Magazine™ interviews at the end of each chapter to read how 17 different people launched 17 new titles into the marketplace. Their stories are definitely worth the read. The interviews are:

  • Tom Tom magazine
  • MJ Lifestyle
  • Luckbox
  • The Magnolia Journal
  • The Pioneer Woman
  • Jugular
  • Sesi
  • Chill
  • Culturs
  • Jez
  • What Women Create
  • Sports History Magazine
  • Happy Paws
  • The Golfer’s Journal
  • Showstopper
  • Weekend Escapes
  • Oh-So

Millions of thanks to Canon Solutions America, Inc. and Domtar Paper for making this book possible.

Don’t forget, in order to get a copy send a check or money order for $80 to the Magazine Innovation Center, 114 Farley Hall, 555 Grove Loop, University, MS 38677.

h1

New Magazines Aplenty… The Mr. Magazine™ Launch Monitor

November 4, 2019

The Autumn season is upon us and Old Man Winter isn’t far behind, but be of good cheer, the world of magazines is providing you with some wonderful new magazines, jam-packed with information and entertainment for those Autumn evenings spent curled up in front of the fire.

For those planning an Italian Thanksgiving or just a fantastic meal for dinner one evening, I’m sure you will enjoy Condé Nast’s latest launch of La Cucina Italiana as a quarterly print magazine and website. Its arrival on our shores brings a good addition to the food magazines in the marketplace and brings a smile to a lot of fans of the culinary legend.

This beautiful magazine from Schumacher’s, the manufacturer and supplier that designs products for the  interior design industry, has hit newsstands for the first time. As an in-house title, The Bulletin, was published and sent as a trade magazine for the interior design industry, but now people across the country can buy this great title. Schumacher’s should be proud of its efforts, the magazine showcases the beauty of what they do in a most excellent way!

The Spectator, one of the world’s oldest, continuously published magazines (since 1828), had its first U.S. edition hit newsstands recently after starting a U.S. digital presence last year. The British bulwark is a weekly which  features politics, culture, and current affairs. With its unique brand of journalism, this great title is a breath of fresh air to the political scene and Mr. Magazine™ welcomes you to our shores!

Please enjoy the beautiful covers of our other great titles and in the meantime, get ready for a dynamic December!

Until the next time…

See you at the newsstands…

***And please remember, if Mr. Magazine™ can’t physically hold, touch and purchase the magazine, it does not enter the monthly counts. And counts now include only the titles with a regular frequency that are either new, first-seen on Mr. Magazine’s™ radar, or arriving to the national newsstands for the first time

 

h1

Kill Pretty Magazine: For The “Freaks” Out There Who Thrive On Being The Outcasts & Who Revel In Each Other’s Differences – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Tyler Nacho, Trash Editor Supreme, Kill Pretty…

October 29, 2019

“With my magazine, I like the fact that it can sit around your house and you can pick it up two years later and find an article that maybe you never read. It can keep giving you more different kinds of entertainment. There’s also a real tactile feeling when you’re holding a magazine. I love the concept of a Kindle, but I would never own a Kindle because I really enjoy the feeling of holding a book and turning the pages. I also like the idea of knowing how many pages are left in the book, how far I have to go. It might just be an old school way of thinking, but I’m a really tactile person and I just love everything about print. There’s also the visceral experience of turning the pages and showing your friends the pages and flipping through it that you just can’t get with the Internet.”… Tyler Nacho

A Mr. Magazine Launch Story…

A magazine for the societal outcasts, the uniquely different and the ones who run from normal;  Kill Pretty is a big, bold, splashy publication filled with defiant, unapologetic, raunchy content that dares to stand out and be wildly and honestly different. In short, Kill Pretty has given its self-proclaimed “Freaks” a call-to-arms. The magazine is a finger gesture to the world that in the vintage words of a Quiet Riot song says: “we’re not gonna’ take it anymore.” We are proud of who we are and we welcome our outcast natures.

Tyler Nacho is, in the words of his own masthead, the Trash Editor Supreme of the magazine, along with being the founder and creative mind behind it. He is also a long-time freak and outcast himself, at least according to him. He knew from the young age of 13 that he didn’t fit into the surroundings that he called home. He heard a different drummer, one that didn’t find the beat of what many called “normal” seductive. So, he began to seek out the weird, the different, the unique; the outcasts.

I spoke with Tyler recently and we talked about Kill Pretty and its place in the world of magazines. Passion and love for his product is something that Tyler has an abundance of. And with a strong ardor for the avant-garde, whether it’s art or the people who create it, Tyler is a master of the unorthodox and an honest storyteller with a vivid style.

So, please enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Tyler Nacho, the trash editor supreme, Kill Pretty magazine. It’s a conversation as open and honest as the man himself is.

But first the sound-bites:

On why he was and is so fascinated with print: I grew up in a suburb in the Bay area and everyone around was rich, old white people. And my town just had nothing in it. There was nothing interesting or fun to do, and all the people in my school were these rich, snobby kids that I just couldn’t relate to. And I didn’t know why I didn’t fit in, but I didn’t. I knew that they just weren’t my people, but I’d never been exposed to anything but that. It was really frustrating, I had a really hard time growing up. I was like an outcast. Then one day I was walking down the street and I looked in a head shop, a bong shop, and they were selling this really weird magazine called “While You Were Sleeping” and it had articles about serial killers and interviews with porn stars, basically everything a 13-year-old boy would be really into. (Laughs)

On how he turned his upbringing into making his own magazine: I’ve always been a workaholic my entire life. There’s something in me that drives me to just work and work. I am always making things and as soon as I saw that magazine, I knew that I had to do it too. I immediately went home and started interviewing my friends. I was 13 years old and I thought of myself as a philosopher. I was having all of these deep thoughts at 13-years-old. (Laughs) And they were ridiculous now if you look at the early stuff that I put out, it’s pretty embarrassing. Even my first zine, a little black and white zine, I had a table of contents, articles and interviews, it was like a full-on magazine from the very start.

On how the magazine evolved into the Kill Pretty of today: As I said the vision hasn’t really changed. If you looked at one of the earlier magazines and then the new one, there are a lot of similar themes, but it’s just better. I’ve been doing this over 20 years now and I’ve put out somewhere between 30 and 40 specific publications, and each one has just gotten a little better and a little better. That’s how you get better art, by creating something and putting it out into the world, having everyone hate it, not like it, (Laughs) and then asking yourself why no one likes it. (Laughs again) I have to make it better.

On whether he is now living his dream: I’m definitely living part of the dream. I’m living the dream where I’m making a magazine that I actually like. The last few issues of Kill Pretty, I didn’t have any problems with and that’s really weird for an artist, to like their own art. I’ve hated every magazine that I’ve ever made. (Laughs) But the last two issues I still look at and tell myself they’re good. I wouldn’t change a thing with them and that itself is an incredible dream. That’s 20 years in the making to get to a point where I actually like what I’m making. But the dream would be a little better if I could sell some magazines. (Laughs) If people liked it enough to buy it, that would really complete my dream. My biggest dream is to have the magazine pay for itself.

On what he thinks differentiates a printed product today in this digital age: The problem with websites is that anyone can make a website, it doesn’t take a lot of work. I’ve made websites in a day and filled it with content. I’m a hard worker, but anyone can do that if they really want to. To make a magazine takes a tremendous amount of effort. Websites feel a little disposable. For example, I can go to a website that I really like and forget about it. If I get distracted by something I might never go back to that website again. I’m a collector and I’m also a materialist in a lot of ways. I’m not a materialist that buys fancy clothes, or a materialist in the traditional sense, I’m more of a collector. I’m into vintage antiques and weird things. I just love collecting stuff.

On the phrase “Twerk It. Work It!” being hidden in the UPC code on the cover: (Laughs) As a kid I used to buy all of these music albums and in the liner notes there would be descriptions of the producers and everyone that made the album. And sometimes, if you were lucky, at the end of the liner notes there would be a sentence or two for the people who were nerdy enough to read the liner notes. And sometimes it was a joke, sometimes it was a personal note to a friend; it was always something different, but I valued finding those things and I like creating things in my magazine for the people who are going to take the time and scour it.

On choosing the name “Kill Pretty” for the magazine: There are a few reasons why. One is I’m always trying to find ways to feel a little edgy and stand out. The word “Kill” is definitely a harsh word that stands out. Kill Pretty is a juxtaposition where I find a lot of beauty in destruction, beauty in things that aren’t typically beautiful. I also like the idea of more of a feminist nature of killing what we see as pretty in this world. Killing the idea of what’s typically pretty. Originally, when I came up with the name, it was about the juxtaposition of the beautiful and the ugly, because that’s what my magazine is. I cherish beautiful things, but I often find my inspiration in the ugly stuff. And I think they’re both worth looking at.

On the magazine having “Freaks Only” on the cover: (Laughs) Freaks only…well, I’ve been thinking a lot in my life about what the magazine means and why I’m putting it out and who it’s for. All of those questions are constantly going on in my mind and the reality is that I think everyone is realizing that a lot of us don’t fit into the normal ways of society. As in what people expect from us,. And everyone is kind of realizing they’re a little freaky in different ways. The idea behind it really is to cherish and respect the part of you that is different from everyone else and who doesn’t fit in completely.

On anything he’d like to add: It’s hard to say where the future of print is going. We’re seeing things like vinyl records coming back, but also I’ve met two people this year that didn’t even know what the word magazine meant. They said, oh, it’s a book, right? That was just so weird to me. I don’t know where magazines are going. It’s a really strange world, but I will definitely never stop making them for the rest of my life, even if it kills me. (Laughs) It’s too late for me to turn back now.

On the biggest misconception he thinks people have about him: That’s tough, because I’m a really open, honest person. And I’m trying to think of something… maybe just that I’m more judgmental than I am, because I have a lot of opinions. And oftentimes I have thoroughly thought out my opinions. And when people come into contact with someone who has a lot of opinions or really jumps on things, they kind of think that maybe I’m really judgmental. And I think I am judgmental, but not exceptionally that way.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at his home: After hard work, probably more work. (Laughs) Often, I find myself working all night long. But if it was like Labor Day and I needed to just relax, then definitely watching movies. I’m a huge movie buff; I own over 1,000 VHS tapes. I collect VHS and I watch a lot of very obscure movies from the ‘70s and ‘80s. So, I will probably be smoking pot and watching some really weird movie. (Laughs) Or making a puppet. If I didn’t make puppets all day long for work, then that’s probably what I’ll be doing.

On what he would have tattooed upon his brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about him: (Laughs) Wow, that’s a huge question. How about just a really big smiley face?

On what keeps him up at night: I’m in a place right now where everything in my life is really coming together and I’m getting a lot  of the things that I’ve dreamed of. I have a lot of big dreams and a lot of big projects coming up. My dreams are keeping me up. I’m imagining the world I’m living in now and my future. And it’s really exciting. I’m in a really good place right now. If anything is keeping me up, it’s just imagining what is to come.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Tyler Nacho, trash editor supreme, Kill Pretty magazine. 

Samir Husni: Why are you so fascinated with print and why have you launched all these magazines and continue to launch magazines in print in this digital age?

Tyler Nacho: I grew up in a suburb in the Bay area and everyone around was rich, old white people. And my town just had nothing in it. There was nothing interesting or fun to do, and all the people in my school were these rich, snobby kids that I just couldn’t relate to. And I didn’t know why I didn’t fit in, but I didn’t. I knew that they just weren’t my people, but I’d never been exposed to anything but that. It was really frustrating, I had a really hard time growing up. I was like an outcast.

Then one day I was walking down the street and I looked in a head shop, a bong shop, and they were selling this really weird magazine called “While You Were Sleeping” and it had articles about serial killers and interviews with porn stars, basically everything a 13-year-old boy would be really into. (Laughs) It had very childish, silly articles, comedy articles, stuff like that. And it was this beacon of culture and a way of learning about things that I was interested in. I was obsessed with the library; I would read tons of books all the time, but I wanted new information. The Internet has kind of taken the place of that, but when you didn’t have the Internet in the ‘90s, all you had really were magazines and the backs of albums to read. It was really hard to get that kind of information.

So, when I found a magazine and it had all of that information collected and curated just for me, it was like this incredible piece of knowledge in a world that was completely devoid of anything like that. I just loved the idea that a magazine could be curated by someone and then travel to a place that they didn’t go and be this little nuclear bomb of comedy, inspiration and art. That it could be all of those different things for someone that really needed it and maybe didn’t know how to find it.

Samir Husni: How did you take that upbringing and turn it into a decision to make your own magazine someday?

Tyler Nacho: I’ve always been a workaholic my entire life. There’s something in me that drives me to just work and work. I am always making things and as soon as I saw that magazine, I knew that I had to do it too. I immediately went home and started interviewing my friends. I was 13 years old and I thought of myself as a philosopher. I was having all of these deep thoughts at 13-years-old. (Laughs) And they were ridiculous now if you look at the early stuff that I put out, it’s pretty embarrassing. Even my first zine, a little black and white zine, I had a table of contents, articles and interviews, it was like a full-on magazine from the very start.

I saw the vision and I knew immediately what a magazine was and I knew exactly why I wanted to do it. I kind of saw the whole thing from day one and it has evolved, but hasn’t changed a lot from that.

Samir Husni: The latest issue of Kill Pretty is a beautifully printed magazine, but bears no resemblance to any zine you’ve ever produced. How did you evolve into the Kill Pretty of today?

Tyler Nacho: Well, as I said the vision hasn’t really changed. If you looked at one of the earlier magazines and then the new one, there are a lot of similar themes, but it’s just better. I’ve been doing this over 20 years now and I’ve put out somewhere between 30 and 40 specific publications, and each one has just gotten a little better and a little better. That’s how you get better art, by creating something and putting it out into the world, having everyone hate it, not like it, (Laughs) and then asking yourself why no one likes it. (Laughs again) I have to make it better.

I’ve never had people like my magazine, but I always kept making it. And at first, early-on, it was a way to get attention, to get girls; to show people that I had all of these interesting thoughts and I had a well-curated brain. And I had proof, the magazine that I made.

Now I question myself every single time I make my magazine. I ask myself why I’m doing this; should I stop; it’s really hard. With the new issue I had to move out of my house and sleep on couches to print this magazine. It’s like my entire life is dedicated to putting this out and I lose a lot of money with every issue.

But there are two specific reasons I do it. The first is I just love doing it; it’s my number one passion and I love having a magazine finished. It feels so good. The second one is that I can walk into a room, into an interview, and I can hand anyone my magazine and it’s this immediate resume, where people can look at it. And they can judge  a lot about me knowing that I created every single page of the magazine, it shows how much I can do and how hard I work. All of my biggest jobs that I’ve gotten, most of them have come because I make this magazine. So, even though the magazine itself doesn’t make me money, I’ve made a lot of money because I make the magazine. It’s an amazing way to get my foot in the door.

Also, I get to interview my heroes. My list of people that I worship and want to interview is getting smaller and smaller, because every issue I get a few more of those people and that’s an incredible opportunity. To be able to sit down with someone that I’m really obsessed with and have an hour or two hour, sometimes three hour, conversation with them is priceless.

Samir Husni: In doing the magazine, are you living your dream now?

Tyler Nacho: I’m definitely living part of the dream. I’m living the dream where I’m making a magazine that I actually like. The last few issues of Kill Pretty, I didn’t have any problems with and that’s really weird for an artist, to like their own art. I’ve hated every magazine that I’ve ever made. (Laughs) But the last two issues I still look at and tell myself they’re good. I wouldn’t change a thing with them and that itself is an incredible dream. That’s 20 years in the making to get to a point where I actually like what I’m making.

But the dream would be a little better if I could sell some magazines. (Laughs) If people liked it enough to buy it, that would really complete my dream. My biggest dream is to have the magazine pay for itself. I would love to survive off of it, but I don’t think that’s going to happen in the form it is right now. For it to just pay for itself is the ultimate dream.

Samir Husni: What do you think differentiates a printed product today in this digital age and why you chose a printed magazine to showcase your work?

Tyler Nacho: The problem with websites is that anyone can make a website, it doesn’t take a lot of work. I’ve made websites in a day and filled it with content. I’m a hard worker, but anyone can do that if they really want to. To make a magazine takes a tremendous amount of effort. Websites feel a little disposable. For example, I can go to a website that I really like and forget about it. If I get distracted by something I might never go back to that website again. I’m a collector and I’m also a materialist in a lot of ways. I’m not a materialist that buys fancy clothes, or a materialist in the traditional sense, I’m more of a collector. I’m into vintage antiques and weird things. I just love collecting stuff.

With my magazine, I like the fact that it can sit around your house and you can pick it up two years later and find an article that maybe you never read. It can keep giving you more different kinds of entertainment. There’s also a real tactile feeling when you’re holding a magazine. I love the concept of a Kindle, but I would never own a Kindle because I really enjoy the feeling of holding a book and turning the pages. I also like the idea of knowing how many pages are left in the book, how far I have to go. It might just be an old school way of thinking, but I’m a really tactile person and I just love everything about print.

I love the fact that it’s on newsstands and it just shows up in all of these weird places. I like the fact that when one person gets a magazine, they share it with their friends. And I think there is some statistical average that 16 people see one magazine every issue, something like that. Whether that’s true or not, I’m not sure, but it’s cool how you can give someone a magazine and they’re going to pass it around.

There’s also the visceral experience of turning the pages and showing your friends the pages and flipping through it that you just can’t get with the Internet. The great thing about the Internet is it’s free. (Laughs) Besides that, it comes with a disposable nature.

It’s hard to do, but I’m trying to create articles where people have to be interactive with the magazine, such as an article where someone has to cut something out of the magazine or draw on the magazine or turn it upside-down.

We’ve been talking a lot about how do we get people to actually destroy their copy of the magazine for some reason. (Laughs)  I just think that’s really funny, because everyone sees everything as a valued collector’s item, it’s funny to challenge people’s ideas of collector’s items. Collector’s items are kind of silly anyway because most of the time people never actually sell these things they see as valuable, so whether it’s worth 100 grand or $2, it doesn’t really matter if you’re never going to sell it. It’s a little funny to me to say, well, if you want to play this game we put in the magazine, you have to ruin it, make it unsellable. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: You make me pay a $10 cover price for the magazine and hidden in the UPC code is: Twerk It. Work It! (Laughs) Tell me about that.

Tyler Nacho: (Laughs) As a kid I used to buy all of these music albums and in the liner notes there would be descriptions of the producers and everyone that made the album. And sometimes, if you were lucky, at the end of the liner notes there would be a sentence or two for the people who were nerdy enough to read the liner notes. And sometimes it was a joke, sometimes it was a personal note to a friend; it was always something different, but I valued finding those things and I like creating things in my magazine for the people who are going to take the time and scour it.

In the third issue of the magazine I hid a couple of things. And the one that was my favorite was a bunch of text in the spine of the book. So you could stretch the magazine open and read it, but if you wanted to read everything you had to actually pull the magazine apart to read all of the text there.

Samir Husni: Why did you choose the name “Kill Pretty” for the magazine?

Tyler Nacho: There are a few reasons why. One is I’m always trying to find ways to feel a little edgy and stand out. The word “Kill” is definitely a harsh word that stands out. Kill Pretty is a juxtaposition where I find a lot of beauty in destruction, beauty in things that aren’t typically beautiful. I also like the idea of more of a feminist nature of killing what we see as pretty in this world. Killing the idea of what’s typically pretty. Originally, when I came up with the name, it was about the juxtaposition of the beautiful and the ugly, because that’s what my magazine is. I cherish beautiful things, but I often find my inspiration in the ugly stuff. And I think they’re both worth looking at.

Samir Husni: Do I have to consider myself a “freak” for buying it, because the cover reads that it’s for “freaks” only?

Tyler Nacho: (Laughs) Freaks only…well, I’ve been thinking a lot in my life about what the magazine means and why I’m putting it out and who it’s for. All of those questions are constantly going on in my mind and the reality is that I think everyone is realizing that a lot of us don’t fit into the normal ways of society. As in what people expect from us,. And everyone is kind of realizing they’re a little freaky in different ways. The idea behind it really is to cherish and respect the part of you that is different from everyone else and who doesn’t fit in completely.

If you’re someone who really just wants to fit in and who really loves the social norms of the world, then I’m not sure you’d really care for my magazine. It’s probably not made for you. This is a magazine to learn about the strange, weird subcultures of the world and artists that are doing things outside the norm. It’s kind of like a warning sign to the squares, to the people who aren’t interested in being creepy – hey, don’t pick this magazine up. Go get “Martha Stewart Living” if you need a magazine to read. (Laughs)

But for the people who want to explore the sides of themselves that aren’t as easily digestible, that’s who Kill Pretty is for.

 Samir Husni: Even if they pick it up by mistake, you tell them in your editorial that if they don’t have an inner freak, put down the magazine. So, they’re warned from the cover to the editorial page. (Laughs)

Tyler Nacho: (Laughs too) Yep.

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

Tyler Nacho: It’s hard to say where the future of print is going. We’re seeing things like vinyl records coming back, but also I’ve met two people this year that didn’t even know what the word magazine meant. They said, oh, it’s a book, right? That was just so weird to me. I don’t know where magazines are going. It’s a really strange world, but I will definitely never stop making them for the rest of my life, even if it kills me. (Laughs) It’s too late for me to turn back now.

Samir Husni: What is the biggest misconception you think people have about you?

Tyler Nacho: That’s tough, because I’m a really open, honest person. And I’m trying to think of something… maybe just that I’m more judgmental than I am, because I have a lot of opinions. And oftentimes I have thoroughly thought out my opinions. And when people come into contact with someone who has a lot of opinions or really jumps on things, they kind of think that maybe I’m really judgmental. And I think I am judgmental, but not exceptionally that way.

I’m also very open to people proving me wrong. I love being wrong about people. If I see someone and I think certain things and then they prove that they’re not that way, it’s thrilling to me. It gives me a sense of hope in the world. So, I’m very open to people being different. There really aren’t a lot of misconceptions about me. If you talk to me, I’m really open, honest and truthful. I’ll give you my two cents. There used to be a lot of misconceptions, but over the past five to ten years, I think I am becoming more and more just an honest person.

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly at your home one evening after work, what would I find you doing? Having a glass of wine; reading a magazine; cooking; watching TV; or something else? How do you unwind?

Tyler Nacho: After hard work, probably more work. (Laughs) Often, I find myself working all night long. But if it was like Labor Day and I needed to just relax, then definitely watching movies. I’m a huge movie buff; I own over 1,000 VHS tapes. I collect VHS and I watch a lot of very obscure movies from the ‘70s and ‘80s. So, I will probably be smoking pot and watching some really weird movie. (Laughs) Or making a puppet. If I didn’t make puppets all day long for work, then that’s probably what I’ll be doing.

Samir Husni: If you could have one thing tattooed upon your brain that no one would ever forget about you, what would it be?

Tyler Nacho: (Laughs) Wow, that’s a huge question. How about just a really big smiley face?

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

Tyler Nacho: I’m in a place right now where everything in my life is really coming together and I’m getting a lot  of the things that I’ve dreamed of. I have a lot of big dreams and a lot of big projects coming up. My dreams are keeping me up. I’m imagining the world I’m living in now and my future. And it’s really exciting. I’m in a really good place right now. If anything is keeping me up, it’s just imagining what is to come.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

From The Wombs Of Legacy Print, Condé Nast Entertainment Is Born – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Matt Duckor, Vice President, Video at Condé Nast Entertainment…

October 23, 2019

“I think you really have to understand the platforms that you’re playing on and who is consuming them. If you look at Bon Appétit’s YouTube channel and you look at the magazine; recently we launched the November issue of the magazine, which is a Thanksgiving issue and one we do every year. This year is a little bit different in that we launched at the same time a six-part series on YouTube launched. It’s about 4½ hours long, so this is long-form content and it’s called “Making Perfect.” This is a show that we started earlier this year in February, where we got together all of our YouTube stars from Bon Appétit and put them all in a series together, sort of our answer to “The Avengers,” and we asked them to make the perfect pizza, each episode is a different component of that pizza, from dough to cheese.”… Matt Duckor

“That’s the same piece of content being expressed really differently on two platforms. You don’t often have that much of a one-to-one, where we’re doing a print piece directly tied to something in video. We want to do more of that, and our audience is telling us that’s working really well, they love seeing these people depicted in the magazine and on the cover, it’s really fun.”… Matt Duckor

Matthew Duckor is Vice President, Video at Condé Nast Entertainment (CNE). CNE is an award-winning next generation studio and distribution network with entertainment content across film, television, premium digital video, social, and virtual reality.

With Matt at the helm, Condé Nast is connecting its print legacy brands deeply with its digital video programs on YouTube. And audiences are loving it. Matt oversees the video programs at Bon Appétit, Epicurious, Architectural Digest and Condé Nast Traveler. He has produced highly-popular franchises, such as “Kids Try,” “Gourmet Makes,” “Working 24 Hours At,” and “It’s Alive with Brad” for Bon Appétit, “Price Points” for Epicurious, “Open Door” for Architectural Digest, and “Culturally Speaking” for Condé Nast Traveler.

In February 2019, he also launched, along with his very talented team, he’s quick to point out, “Making Perfect,” a show that has made video stars out of Bon Appétit’s own talented test kitchen staff. Audiences who have been with Bon Appétit for years, along with a brand new base of fans, are following the brand through this journey and it’s making for a very exciting trip.

I spoke with Matt recently and we talked about these deep legacy print and digital video connections and how they are exciting and compelling viewers and readers to come along for the ride. It was a very intriguing conversation that centered around some highly intriguing concepts and ideas.

So, without further ado, I hope that you enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Matt Duckor, vice president, Video at Condé Nast Entertainment.

But first the sound-bites:

On whether a day in his life is like a walk in a rose garden: Yes, it’s absolutely a walk in a rose garden. No, as you mentioned, I work in video programming across four brands: Bon Appétit, Epicurious, Condé Nast Traveler, and Architectural Digest. And what that means is I oversee all strategic programming decisions and production for those channels, so that’s distribution across our sites, obviously, but primarily YouTube, which is sort of the core of our digital video business here at Condé Nast. And it’s really ensuring that there’s a deep connection between the brands that we represent and the platforms that those brands play on. It’s promoting the brands obviously in print, on their websites, the social platforms, like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and the brand extensions we’re building in video, really making sure that there’s a deep connection and that those platforms are talking to each other.

On whether it’s easier to work with brands that have a print component in place or with brands that have no print counterpart since he has now done both: There’s something great about the brands at Condé Nast because there is brand recognition for many of the brands and so users at least have an awareness of what Bon Appétit is, even if they haven’t really experienced it before. But I think brand awareness only takes you so far; at the end of the day it’s the content strategy that’s put in place that’s either going to resonate with viewers or not. It’s going to be optimized for the platform you’re playing it on or it’s not.

On one of his Condé Nast colleagues being quoted as saying: we don’t create magazines anymore, we create brands and the magazine is part of that brand: I think that’s true. Part of that is just the necessity of how the media landscape is changing and I think it’s very difficult to exist on any one platform, especially print, with what’s happened with ad spending there over the past five years, in the U.S. especially. But I think the division for what a brand can be at Condé Nast has changed dramatically, even separate from the economic realities.

On his thinking process when he is putting together a video for audiences: I think you really have to understand the platforms that you’re playing on and who is consuming them. If you look at Bon Appétit’s YouTube channel and you look at the magazine; recently we launched the November issue of the magazine, which is a Thanksgiving issue and one we do every year. This year is a little bit different in that we launched at the same time a six-part series on YouTube launched. It’s about 4½ hours long, so this is long-form content and it’s called “Making Perfect.” For Thanksgiving, we asked them to make the perfect Thanksgiving meal, so each have to put in a different iconic dish from the Thanksgiving meal, the whole test kitchen works together, and that’s connected to the print magazine in a real way where there’s an 18-page feature in the well documenting the making of these recipes and of this series.

On what he thinks is the biggest challenge that magazine media companies face today as they move toward the future: There are so many challenges. I think so much of what we’ve gone through over the past few years at Condé Nast has been structural organization. On the editorial side, the editorial staff is really built around magazines and then around digital, and there was a shift that happened probably five years ago where the company had to take a hard look at who is here, and who are the editorial leaders that are right to bring these brands into the digital and social era.

On whether he ever fears YouTube will stop hosting the videos: I don’t think that’s in anyone’s best interests, including YouTube’s. We bring something really unique to the YouTube platform. Condé Nast is a premium content publisher. There is all sorts of content on YouTube. And I can direct you to other news stories to read some of the challenges that YouTube has with the platform, but I think one of the real bright spots is companies like Condé Nast and brands like Bon Appétit making YouTube a center of their digital video strategies. We have a really great relationship with the platform.

On getting people out of this digital Welfare Information Society: We’re working on that. That’s a huge priority that everyone is trying to figure out, how to do these membership products. And we see people launching them, and we believe that we have the right to win in that category. We have brands that people are, Bon Appétit especially, incredibly passionate about.

On whether he has a favorite out of the four brands he oversees: I’ve worked at Bon Appétit the longest, I will say that, since 2011. I started on the editorial side of the print magazine, before digital video was something that Condé Nast had really gotten into, and that was also before the creation of Condé Nast Entertainment (CNE), so I’ve been with that brand since six months after Adam Rapoport relaunched it in 2011. So, I’m certainly closest to the brand, I’ve worked on that the longest.

On the biggest misconception he thinks people have about him: I don’t know if people think of anything when they hear my name. I don’t know if there’s a conception, much less a misconception about me. I don’t know if people really understand how many people work on the video content that we do here; how much of a team effort it is. There aren’t only the 26 other people who are on my team working with me, directors, producers, associate producers, camera people, culinary producers. So, maybe a misconception is that I run the Bon Appétit channel by myself and there’s no one else involved in the creation of it. Absolutely not the case.

On what he would have tattooed upon his brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about him: I hope that people connect me to what we’ve done at Bon Appétit. I’m incredibly proud of the channel that we’ve built. It’s a collaboration between a lot of people, as I mentioned, including Adam Rapoport. It was his vision for Bon Appétit to have two things: one, a channel that would sort of center around a test kitchen as a place where everything happens. In  reality, the test kitchen is a place where everyone loves to hang out, where there’s always food coming out, people are gathered around, much like kitchens in everybody’s home.  The test kitchen is the center of all other parts of the brand, so naturally it needs to be the center of whatever we do in the video.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at his home: You’re welcome at any time. (Laughs) I have two kids, one just turned two and the other is almost three months old. So, you’ll probably catch me and my wife, Dawn, dealing with them. My wife Dawn used to work at Bon Appétit, we met here, she worked in the test kitchen as a chef. She’s worked everywhere from Real Simple, where she currently works now, to Martha Stewart, and  Bon Appétit. She’s currently working on a cookbook that will be released in a couple of years, so she might be testing recipes for that. So, that’s what we’ll be doing. Drinking a glass of wine, for sure, is something you’ll see. But mostly taking care of our two kids, and getting to spend time with them.

On what keeps him up at night: We have one of the most positive comments sections on the entire Internet at Bon Appétit’s YouTube channel. The thing that keeps me up is will that turn on us. (Laughs) Will fans ever think we’ve lost our way? We haven’t had that happen, thankfully. I think we have really great instincts about our content, because we’re building around real people who have real appeal. I think they have a really good understanding of what makes for interesting content for our audience. It doesn’t keep me up too much, but I do think about that fan reaction, which can be an addiction.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Matt Duckor, vice president, Video at Condé Nast Entertainment.

Samir Husni: You’re a director, a vice president in charge of four brands; so, how does a day in your life go? Is it as easy as a walk in a rose garden?

Matt Duckor: Yes, it’s absolutely a walk in a rose garden. No, as you mentioned, I work in video programming across four brands: Bon Appétit, Epicurious, Condé Nast Traveler, and Architectural Digest. And what that means is I oversee all strategic programming decisions and production for those channels, so that’s distribution across our sites, obviously, but primarily YouTube, which is sort of the core of our digital video business here at Condé Nast.

And it’s really ensuring that there’s a deep connection between the brands that we represent and the platforms that those brands play on. It’s promoting the brands obviously in print, on their websites, the social platforms, like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and the brand extensions we’re building in video, really making sure that there’s a deep connection and that those platforms are talking to each other.

We have this amazing megaphone in YouTube that’s reaching a whole new audience for Condé Nast separate from most of the other platforms. Bon Appétit, for example, 75 percent of the audience that we reach is between the ages of 18 to 34 and that’s really different than any other platform. There’s this amazing opportunity to really introduce these iconic brands to people for the first time and we need to make sure that it really connects with the rest of the ecosystem.

So, if somebody’s first test point for Bon Appétit is YouTube and they don’t know that a magazine exists or they don’t subscribe to magazines, and maybe never will, but they want to check out the magazine, they want to go to our social platforms, they’re on Instagram and they go follow us, there needs to be a connection between those platforms, otherwise there’s a total disconnect and the audience’s journey just stops at YouTube. Which we monetize YouTube and that’s great, but we really want people to experience these brands on every platform.

So, my day is really spent in making sure that connection is happening. It’s working with the editors in chief of these brands to really understand the vision of what drives their editorial strategy on other platforms. And then use the inside expertise that we’ve built up at Condé Nast Entertainment, which is the video division of Condé Nast that’s really in charge of all video production and programming strategy in operation, to ensure that we’re sort of matching that brand’s DNA and vision with best practices and videos that are going to actually scale and reach large audiences and that can be monetized. And to allow us to build a business off of a video that reaches new audiences and continues these brands into the future as the media landscape continues to change and video becomes the place where more and more advertisers are shifting their ad dollars.

We want that transition to be seamless, and obviously, print is still a huge core part of our business, but we don’t want to create different identities for these brands that have nothing to do with the equities, the legacies that they’ve built up. We want this to feel like part of a holistic strategy moving forward and not just: well it’s a new thing and we call it Bon Appétit, but it has nothing to do with the Bon Appétit of yesterday.

It’s the same people who are making the recipes in the magazine, on the website, who are on the podcast; the people who are powering our strategy. So, really I’m overseeing a team of 28 people now who are working across those four brands as well as various centralized departments that we tap on for pilot development and content optimization to make sure that those connections are happening and that we’re really moving these brands forward into the future through video.

Samir Husni: You’ve worked on brands that have had no print entity and now you’re working with brands that have a legacy print component. Which is easier to introduce into this digital age? Do you find it easier for you in your job now, working with brands that have actual print products that are still being published or was it much easier with the brands that had no print counterpart?

Matt Duckor: There’s something great about the brands at Condé Nast because there is brand recognition for many of the brands and so users at least have an awareness of what Bon Appétit is, even if they haven’t really experienced it before. But I think brand awareness only takes you so far; at the end of the day it’s the content strategy that’s put in place that’s either going to resonate with viewers or not. It’s going to be optimized for the platform you’re playing it on or it’s not.

I feel like that’s why a lot of our competitors who are not getting into video strategies, or who are just beginning to invest in platforms like YouTube and look for a meaningful engagement with the audience and new audiences, are struggling because I think you can’t just rely on the equity of a legacy publication to power the content on a platform where most of the audience doesn’t really have a connection to that brand. We’re building new connections with new audiences and funneling them back to other platforms, but we can’t rely on what Bon Appétit has done for the past 65 years of the brand to reach someone who is 18 years old and has no connection to magazines period, much less one magazine, Bon Appétit.

So, of course, we want to create a compelling experience that stands on its own, but then also make subscribers or event attendees or merchandise purchasers out of those viewers. And again, we bring people into an ecosystem where we can give them more of the Bon Appétit experience,  any of the three things that I just mentioned, or just them watching more videos on the YouTube channel, that’s what we’re looking to do.

I’d say that brand equity can help to a point, but really it’s sound content strategy and a deep connection with whatever that legacy is in order to actually put that print legacy into a platform like digital or social and get it to work, because otherwise you’re just sailing on a new platform in a new medium if you’re really not resonating with the people that are there.

Samir Husni: One of your colleagues at Condé Nast was quoted as saying: we don’t create magazines anymore, we create brands and the magazine is part of that brand.

Matt Duckor: I think that’s true. Part of that is just the necessity of how the media landscape is changing and I think it’s very difficult to exist on any one platform, especially print, with what’s happened with ad spending there over the past five years, in the U.S. especially. But I think the division for what a brand can be at Condé Nast has changed dramatically, even separate from the economic realities.

When I started at Condé Nast in 2011, Instagram did not exist, hadn’t launched yet. I launched Bon Appétit’s Instagram channel in 2012. YouTube was still a place primarily for short form cat videos and maybe the occasional blogger or creator, but major media companies weren’t playing in that space.  So, not only have the economic realities of print changed, but the landscape around it and the other options for brands to express themselves have grown so dramatically in the past few years that we’d be ignoring huge flocks of audiences as well as creative opportunities if we didn’t play in these platforms.

And again, with advertising dollars moving from print to digital video and from TV to digital video, that sort of requires us to have an answer for how do these brands exist in this new medium? It’s not even really new anymore, but compared to print, which has been around for centuries, it is newer, but digital video has been growing now for the past 10 years.

And I think it’s hard to be a brand in 2019 and not have an answer for how do we express ourselves on a platform like YouTube, which is the number one destination for people watching video on the Internet and the number two website behind Google.com overall on the Internet. If you don’t have an answer for how your brand exists there, I’m not quite sure that your brand is relevant and it’s not reaching a huge section of the Internet, which is people who just watch video, they’re not reading words or looking at pictures. Moving images are the way that they consume content, so I really think it’s so necessary to think, obviously, beyond  just print and beyond just social.

You need to have that collective ecosystem that’s connected, like I mentioned, it makes sense. All those parts speak to one another. If it were just the YouTube channel, we’d be missing out on a huge part of the depth and richness of a brand like Bon Appétit or Architectural Digest. There are multiple platforms that people can experience these brands on and each of them are different, but they’re all connected together and they make sense as a whole. So, why just plan one platform when we can express ourselves on many, connect them, and monetize all of them.

Samir Husni: You just explained that the brand has to be platform agnostic, yet some of the audiences are still platform specific. Can you tell me a little bit more about how you go through the thinking process? You’re making a video, while still using the same DNA of Bon Appétit, but it’s for ‘this’ audience and when you’re doing print, you’re doing it for ‘this’ audience.

Matt Duckor: I think you really have to understand the platforms that you’re playing on and who is consuming them. If you look at Bon Appétit’s YouTube channel and you look at the magazine; recently we launched the November issue of the magazine, which is a Thanksgiving issue and one we do every year. This year is a little bit different in that we launched at the same time a six-part series on YouTube launched. It’s about 4½ hours long, so this is long-form content and it’s called “Making Perfect.” This is a show that we started earlier this year in February, where we got together all of our YouTube stars from Bon Appétit and put them all in a series together, sort of our answer to “The Avengers,” and we asked them to make the perfect pizza, each episode is a different component of that pizza, from dough to cheese.

For Thanksgiving, we asked them to make the perfect Thanksgiving meal, so each have to put in a different iconic dish from the Thanksgiving meal, the whole test kitchen works together, and that’s connected to the print magazine in a real way where there’s an 18-page feature in the well documenting the making of these recipes and of this series. And then each of the different test kitchen stars are on the cover of Bon Appétit, so there’s eight different covers out there that are sent to subscribers and that are on newsstands that feature our talent front and center on the cover. So, we’re really connecting those platforms in a real way.

The print execution really focuses more on the recipes themselves, so it’s less focus on the talent, other than the cover of the magazine, but it’s more focused on the nuts and bolts of the recipes because we know that the print subscriber that we currently have is really most interested in that. They’re interested in the personalities, we definitely have crossover between our YouTube audience and subscribers, but we know that a lot of people take the magazine really to have the best tried-and-true tested recipes. They are avid home-cook, that is why they subscribe to Bon Appétit, because they get amazing recipes in the mail every month.

Of course, the YouTube series is also based around the creation of these recipes, but it leads far further into the personalities, to Brad (Leone), to Claire (Saffitz), to Molly (Baz), to Carla (Lalli), because we know the audience connects there most with the people behind Bon Appétit in the test kitchen, the place where everything happens. As Adam Rapoport, the editor in chief, likes to call it, it’s the sports center of food. It’s the one place where all these people come together to create these recipes, these iconic shows we’ve provided over the past few years.

That’s the same piece of content being expressed really differently on two platforms. You don’t often have that much of a one-to-one, where we’re doing a print piece directly tied to something in video. We want to do more of that, and our audience is telling us that’s working really well, they love seeing these people depicted in the magazine and on the cover, it’s really fun.

But I think if you look at the rest of what we’ve done, a show like “Gourmet Makes,” which is our larger show on YouTube starring Claire Saffitz, where she goes on journeys to recreate packaged iconic snack foods, from Twinkies to Twizzlers to Kit Kat bars, that’s not something that exists in the pages of Bon Appétit and never has. And it doesn’t quite feel right for that audience that we currently have there, who’s an avid home-cook and is looking for tried-and-true recipes. There may be a version of that which could play to that audience, but really that show is designed to reach a younger consumer on YouTube, who is really more interested in entertainment through the lens of food than sort of pure food service.

But Claire is someone who has worked at Bon Appétit for six years and has developed many, many recipes for the magazine in the test kitchen. And she brings all of that experience to this fun, viral format where she’s basically recreating junk food in the gourmet way. But she’s doing it with the authority and expertise and intensity that we would bring to any recipe that we would develop for Bon Appétit.

So, there’s that spiritual connection between the brand, Bon Appétit, and a the platform YouTube, and that makes a ton of sense, but allows us to reach a new audience without trying to shoehorn in something that we would do in the magazine into a platform like YouTube, where maybe it doesn’t make a ton of sense and wouldn’t let us reach a new audience in a real way.

Samir Husni: Since you started working at Condé Nast, and seeing all the changes that are taking place in the magazine media environment, what do you think is the biggest challenge that magazine media companies face today as they move toward the future?

Matt Duckor: There are so many challenges. I think so much of what we’ve gone through over the past few years at Condé Nast has been structural organization. On the editorial side, the editorial staff is really built around magazines and then around digital, and there was a shift that happened probably five years ago where the company had to take a hard look at who is here, and who are the editorial leaders that are right to bring these brands into the digital and social era.

And I think the same thing is happening now in video, where we just need to scaffold around some of these amazing people that we have creating iconic print magazines and digital websites, with the right expertise in video to ensure that we’re translating those things in a way that, again, is allowing us to reach new audiences in video, as well as creating a sustainable business out of digital video. And ensuring that transition happens smoothly and it’s connected to the rest of what the company is doing, or what the rest of a brand is doing. And it doesn’t feel like we’re creating these offshoots that are removed and have nothing to do with what the brand is doing on other platforms. If there’s a real connection, I think we will be the key to this really working.

Digital video on its own is, at least for us, can’t be the only business that a company has at this point in time. So, there really needs to be a deep connection; we need to be able to take a viewer from YouTube through a journey to experience some other platform that we have. Attend an event, spend money with us in some way. Ad supported business on YouTube has been fantastic and we’ve been incredible at working with our sales team to build up a real business there.

Obviously, we also work with brands in a new capacity and monetize there as well, but we have these other platforms that should be a part of the viewer journey, if we’re doing our jobs correctly. They should want to experience the brand in some other place besides video.

Continuing to make those connections and ensuring that the viewer journey is obvious, and there’s a way for that to happen, with examples like what we’ve done in print this month with “Making Perfect,” it’s like having a signpost saying: if you love this thing, you’ll absolutely love ‘this’ thing because they’re connected in a really tangible way. It’s not like, well, the videos are inspired, but the spirit of this brand isn’t there. No, this is a direct one-to-one connection, so subscribe now. That’s a really powerful message.

And figuring out the question around consumer revenue and how we move away from a business that’s entirely ad supported to one that involves people paying us directly for content. And not like print subscriptions, where we’re asking people to pay $10 that doesn’t even really cover the cost of creating the magazine, and magazines are still an ad supported business. We’re getting people to really support us for our content.

Again, whether that’s events, membership products; these are things that we’re looking at for 2020, and certainly, I think, most media companies are looking at. How we can balance out our really robust advertising business that’s incredibly strong with emerging platforms where we have audiences who are so passionate about our content, like our videos at Bon Appétit, that are willing to pay for things, but we don’t actually have a product beside the print magazine where they can pay us. Everything else is advertising supported.

So, coming up with incredible products and creative solutions for people to be able to give us money. (Laughs) I was looking at the “Making Perfect” first episode that launched recently and we have comments literally that read something like, at this point, I’m just looking for a way to give Bon Appétit money to pay for this content. That’s an amazing problem to have, viewers so passionate about what we’re doing, that they’re asking us to devise ways to take their money. And we are about fan service and about providing an amazing experience on a platform like YouTube, which is ad supported, and we have a great business there. But we want to create, for sure, more in depth experiences for those core fans who really do want to take their relationship with these brands to the next level. They feel personally connected to them and they want to have a deeper involvement.

I even think there’s a feeling of wanting to support Bon Appétit. We see sometimes that people who subscribe to the magazine and say they have never subscribed to a magazine before, also say they subscribe to Bon Appétit because they love the magazine and they love what we’re doing on YouTube and they want to support us. And that’s an amazing dynamic and we need to figure out how we can continue that into 2020.

Samir Husni: Do you ever have the fear that YouTube might say one day that they’re no longer hosting these videos?

Matt Duckor: I don’t think that’s in anyone’s best interests, including YouTube’s. We bring something really unique to the YouTube platform. Condé Nast is a premium content publisher. There is all sorts of content on YouTube. And I can direct you to other news stories to read some of the challenges that YouTube has with the platform, but I think one of the real bright spots is companies like Condé Nast and brands like Bon Appétit making YouTube a center of their digital video strategies. We have a really great relationship with the platform.

We see the insane benefits of working with a platform like YouTube, which as I said, is the number one destination in the world for people watching video on the Internet. That’s an amazing platform to speak to and we have a great relationship with the company. It’s in everyone’s best s not to stop, so I don’t think too much about that.

Samir Husni: If you can do that, take people out of this Welfare Information Society that has been created in digital, that would be truly amazing.

Matt Duckor: We’re working on that. That’s a huge priority that everyone is trying to figure out, how to do these membership products. And we see people launching them, and we believe that we have the right to win in that category. We have brands that people are, Bon Appétit especially, incredibly passionate about.

Even Architectural Digest launched a product called “AD Pro” this year, which is more of a trade-focused membership program, and is a little bit higher priced. It’s for fans of the brand and professional people, like interior designers, decorators, architects, who are really interested in the trade. But that is also an amazing experiment in seeing whether we can launch a product that has real value to it and that is a trusted source of information news for industry professionals and people will pay us for it, not just have this be an ad supported site. In fact, it’s not an ad supported site, it’s 100 percent member supported. And they have a team of people who are running that site.

These experiments are happening at Condé Nast, the company is incredibly supportive of these efforts. Roger Lynch, our new CEO, I think he uses the two words consumer revenue more than any other words, maybe digital video he uses more, but it’s an incredible focus of the company and something we will figure out in the next few years.

Samir Husni: You’re in charge of four different brands that go from food to travel and other topics in between, do you have a favorite?

Matt Duckor: I’ve worked at Bon Appétit the longest, I will say that, since 2011. I started on the editorial side of the print magazine, before digital video was something that Condé Nast had really gotten into, and that was also before the creation of Condé Nast Entertainment (CNE), so I’ve been with that brand since six months after Adam Rapoport relaunched it in 2011. So, I’m certainly closest to the brand, I’ve worked on that the longest.

Every other brand that I work on I’ve been on for about two years. I love working on Architectural Digest, Epicurious, and Condé Nast Traveler, but I’m probably closest to Bon Appétit, and we’ve invested the most time and resources into that brand. So, there’s not a favorite, but the one I have the longest relationship with, for sure.

Samir Husni: What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about you? When they hear your name, what do they think of?

Matt Duckor: I don’t know if people think of anything when they hear my name. I don’t know if there’s a conception, much less a misconception about me. I don’t know if people really understand how many people work on the video content that we do here; how much of a team effort it is. There aren’t only the 26 other people who are on my team working with me, directors, producers, associate producers, camera people, culinary producers.

But there’s also a centralized strategy and development team here too. People like Joe Sabia, who is our director and senior vice president of development. Many of the great kernels of ideas that have become iconic shows that are synonymous with Bon Appétit’s video and in some cases, me, really started with him and other really talented people on our development team.

It really does take a village to launch something like this, especially inside a company like Condé Nast, where, obviously, we were incredibly print-centric and the idea of doing something that wasn’t directly tied to that product was not well-received in the way that it is now. Now it’s seen as we absolutely need to play to the strengths of these other platforms and find the elastic expressions of these brands that are yet connected to the DNA of the brand, but are just sync-fully made for these platforms that we recognize as being very different from the print magazine.

Five years ago, I think video was seen as a diversion and there are a lot of people here who understood that this was, in some ways, the future of the company. We were looking at new revenues streams, a new vision for what  Condé Nast could be and how these brands could continue to live. We’ve been working really hard within the walls of CNE to make that happen in collaboration with our edit teams throughout the building.

So, maybe a misconception is that I run the Bon Appétit channel by myself and there’s no one else involved in the creation of it. Absolutely not the case.

Samir Husni: If you could have one thing tattooed upon your brain that no one would ever forget about you, what would it be?

Matt Duckor: I hope that people connect me to what we’ve done at Bon Appétit. I’m incredibly proud of the channel that we’ve built. It’s a collaboration between a lot of people, as I mentioned, including Adam Rapoport. It was his vision for Bon Appétit to have two things: one, a channel that would sort of center around a test kitchen as a place where everything happens. In  reality, the test kitchen is a place where everyone loves to hang out, where there’s always food coming out, people are gathered around, much like kitchens in everybody’s home.  The test kitchen is the center of all other parts of the brand, so naturally it needs to be the center of whatever we do in the video.

And two, that our staff would be the talent powering the channel, and that was the vision from the beginning, that we would elevate our talent and make them on-camera personalities. And the fact that they were real people would be the strength of the channel, not a weakness. That we didn’t have media-trained professionals and celebrities that we were just plopping into the world of  Bon Appétit and calling it a Bon Appétit Production, we had the people who were actually working here.

And we’ve been able to take those to criteria and build a really special thing about it. So, I hope that people associate me with the work that we’ve done, but as I said, it’s not just me.

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly at your home one evening after work, what would I find you doing? Having a glass of wine; reading a magazine; cooking; on your iPhone; or something else? How do you unwind?

Matt Duckor: You’re welcome at any time. (Laughs) I have two kids, one just turned two and the other is almost three months old. So, you’ll probably catch me and my wife, Dawn, dealing with them. My wife Dawn used to work at Bon Appétit, we met here, she worked in the test kitchen as a chef. She’s worked everywhere from Real Simple, where she currently works now, to Martha Stewart, and  Bon Appétit. She’s currently working on a cookbook that will be released in a couple of years, so she might be testing recipes for that. So, that’s what we’ll be doing. Drinking a glass of wine, for sure, is something you’ll see. But mostly taking care of our two kids, and getting to spend time with them.

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

Matt Duckor:  I think the world of video production is constantly moving. There are always fires popping up, we deal with a lot of people. We have a big team; we have multiple productions happening every single day. We also work with talent who have their own special quirks, I love all of them. Dealing with people, managing people is most of the job and ensuring again that we’re doing what we say we’re doing, which is creating a really valuable proposition for our viewers, which is we’re giving you incredibly high quality content that you enjoy that is up to the standard of what people expect, especially with Bon Appétit. The fans are so connected to what we’re doing and have such a high standard for content that we produce, because they feel personally invested in these people.

When you launch a new show with somebody, there’s a real reaction, mostly almost unanimously positive. When Chris Morocco got his new show and the pilot came out four months ago, there was like a sense of joy that we had done right by Chris and had given him a show that was just for him. And it’s also the perfect show for him, it plays into all of his best instincts.

There may be a new show with new talent that doesn’t feel quite right for the audience, it’s not in the mold that they expected. So, it’s really anticipating what our audience wants and that we’re doing the right thing, that we’re really creating valuable content that feels like we’re predicting what the audience wants before they even know they want it. And making sure we have that positive reaction.

We have one of the most positive comments sections on the entire Internet at Bon Appétit’s YouTube channel. The thing that keeps me up is will that turn on us. (Laughs) Will fans ever think we’ve lost our way? We haven’t had that happen, thankfully. I think we have really great instincts about our content, because we’re building around real people who have real appeal. I think they have a really good understanding of what makes for interesting content for our audience. It doesn’t keep me up too much, but I do think about that fan reaction, which can be an addiction.

It’s really gratifying to see people get lit up when we launch a new series or just a new episode of “Gourmet Makes.” The joy that brings to people’s lives, and I get messages and emails about it, about Bon Appétit just being the one bright spot in people’s day when a new video drops, or Bon Appétit got them through a hard time, or they just binge watched a whole show that they didn’t even know existed on YouTube; you don’t want that joy to go away. It’s really exciting as a programmer that people are spending absurd amounts of time with our content. We’re a real part of people’s lives. So, not wanting that feeling to go away keeps me up sometimes, but I think we’re mostly doing a good job.

Samir Husni: Thank you.  

h1

Ink’s Cofounder & Co-CEO, Simon Leslie To Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni: “I Think Sometimes People Forget How Important This Media [Print] Is And How Much It Means To People On Their Journeys,” The Mr. Magazine™ Interview…

October 21, 2019

“My products are in a place where we haven’t got as much digital interference as some of the other people have. And readers don’t have to get out there and buy it, it’s right there in front of them. They have to spend $300 or $400 on an airline ticket, but the magazine is there and it gives them stuff they didn’t know they needed to know, and I think that’s why they’re still engaged with it and still excited by it, still inspired by it. And because of that, we find brands that want to be associated with that. The biggest challenge that the other brands are having is they have stopped investing in their product, they have stopped believing in their product, they have stopped loving their product. They have listened to what the naysayers have told them, as opposed to believing in why they existed in the first place.”… Simon Leslie

Motivational speaker, motivational writer and author, Simon Leslie, is a man who defies defeat, yet accepts it when it comes and learns from it. He is a believer in the print product, but knows the advantages of digital and doesn’t write off either. He is also seeing growth and optimism in the future of his company, Ink.

Simon heads up Ink’s global commercial operations, overseeing the media sales teams in six of its offices around the world. A natural-born seller, he began his career in door-to-door insurance sales at the age of 17. Today, Simon is responsible for Ink’s global sales and business strategy. He is also instrumental in defining Ink’s unique sales culture, of which he believes in motivating his team to believe in themselves and the products they’re selling wholeheartedly, along with helping the brands they represent to reach and help more people.

In fact, the help factor is so strong in Simon that he has written a new book, “There Is No F In Sales,” that offers many tips and advice, and his unique and successful approach to selling, to people who are just starting out or those who are in the thick of it today.

I spoke with Simon recently about the new book and about the ever-growing success of Ink, the inflight travel brand that has more than 30 print publications for its travel partners. The book is a culmination of the knowledge he’s learned over the last 33 years in sales. And if Ink’s success story is any indication of his expertise, salespeople from around the globe may want to pick up a copy as soon as possible. By the way, all the proceeds from the sales of the book goes to charity, Simon informed me.

But until then, I hope that you enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Simon Leslie, cofounder and co-CEO, Ink.

But first the sound-bites:

On why he wrote the book: I wrote the book because I wanted to share some of the things that I’ve learned and accumulated over the last 33 years of being in sales. I wanted to write the book because I wanted to generate money for charity, all the profits from the book are going to charity. And I wanted to help people, who I think, are going through some of the same struggles as I’ve been through, to maybe not make the same mistakes that  I’ve made along the journey. If they’re starting out, they can learn something from it; if they’re halfway through their career, they can learn how to accelerate, and if they’re getting to the end of their career and thinking about what to do next, there are bits of advice in it for that as well. It’s giving a full list of ideas of how to deal with certain situations, and hopefully people won’t make as many mistakes as I did.

On what he would say about the book if he were writing a review: I would say it’s not a difficult read; it’s written in short chapters with tips at the end of each chapter. It’s funny, the author is incredibly funny, and there is some great advice for people going through different phases. And it’s delivered in a conversational way. A lot of books give you lots of ideas, but those ideas may have never been done at all. These are real life situations that I have encountered and then I tell you how I dealt with them.

On why he thinks his company Ink is flourishing while many others are not: The answer is going to be timely. Recently somebody ran a sub-2 hour marathon for the first time and I love that. I love the fact that they went through every little detail to make sure they performed and everybody did what they needed to do, and that got them the result they wanted. And I think that sums up how I operate. I look at all the details, I work out what we need to do, how we need to do it, and we work together, and that’s mostly coming from the team. I have a great team. And they believe what I believe and together we’re all rowing in the same direction. We believe in our media and we believe in our product.

On his secret sauce of why his advertising revenue-based business model still works for Ink: (Laughs) My magic formula. I can only tell you it’s a good team and a 100 percent belief in our product. We spend a lot of time training, and in personal development, working on mindsets of how do we get these people performing at the level they want to perform at. How do they deal with all the excuses and reasons why people don’t want to work with us? And how do they come up with better stories? It’s a story, life is one big story. And it’s encapsulated in the book: the ones who can tell a better story are the ones who succeed. And if you tell good stories, if people believe your stories and they believe in what you’re doing, that’s important.

On whether his business has felt more like a speedboat, such as the one in the ad he tore out when he was only 21, propelling him to do more than dream: The example of me tearing out Sunseeker ads from The Sunday Times goes along with what the ad actually read: Many dream and few achieve. That really inspired me and I was trying to explain how much that did for me in my career. It was so motivating, but that’s not necessarily what Sunseeker wanted; they wanted to sell boats. And sometimes you don’t realize the correlation between the message that you put out there and what it does for people.

On what position he places Ink when he goes out to sell for the magazines: Today we are focused on travel media, and it’s more space. I’m spending nearly every waking hour looking at how I can be better in that space. At the moment I have airports, I have people at home, I have people who, before they check in, I inspire them before they even decide where they’re going to go. I then get them on the airplane and I can talk to them about where they’re going, where they should go or might go, where they should think about going. And then I get them on the way back, and I have a different message for them. So, I am interested only in the traveler. And that traveler has a high propensity to spend money. They’re agile, opportunistic, and they don’t think twice about spending money.

On whether he differentiates between selling the traveler to the advertiser or selling the stories to the traveler: I have to make sure that I inspire the traveler. I have to keep the new content fresh and well-researched pieces of editorial to make sure they pick that magazine up and that they’re excited, which is what they continue to do. In our research we did the Harris poll about six weeks ago, and the recall and pickup was getting close to 90 percent. It was unbelievable. Then I have to make sure that the airlines love their products as much as we do, because they have to carry this around the universe and their customers have to be engaged and inspired, and have to do great feedback.

On whether he’s had to face any challenges along his journey: I’ve had more challenges in 25 years than anyone should have. When we started in 1994 it was a recession, then we had the dotcom boom and bust, then we had 9/11, we had 7/7, we had the Great Recession; we had countries going bust. Then we had our own growing pains; when you’re private equity-backed, there’s never-ending growth, so you have to keep growing and making decisions. And sometimes you make wrong decisions and you live with the consequences of those as well. And there will be another 20 challenges in the next 20 years. The thing that I really do want to get across is that I’m super-excited. Probably more excited than I’ve ever been.

 On mentioning in his book that he doesn’t admit defeat unless he’s tried every single, possible path: Well, sometimes you have to lose. I question if I prefer losing to winning, because I’ve learned more from losing than I have winning. You do have to keep going, it’s a hurdle race and sometimes you’ll fall over and sometimes you’ll jump beautifully. Or you’ll get to the hurdle and you’ll refuse. And that’s the art, you have to keep racing and the opportunities will present themselves.

On Ink’s expectations for 2020: We’ve just went into Ethiopian, so we’re getting back into Africa. I’m really excited about that. With this business, one of the first airlines we had was in Africa, so it’s going back to where we started, which is quite exciting. Ethiopian Airlines is the largest airline on Africa and we’re launching a new magazine, which will come out this month. And that will get bigger and bigger next year.

On whether this year will be a financially bountiful year: I think we’ve had records in about a dozen titles and that’s not records for this year, that’s the best ever. I have to say, we’re not seeing a downturn, if anything we’re seeing optimism. Our U.S. operation is up 24 percent from last year. The problem with that is, next year we’ll expect that again, but we keep doing it, we keep finding growth. And what’s exciting about the growth is that we’re helping companies at the same time reach new customers that they weren’t reaching.

On what motivates him to get out of bed: I’m getting more and more excited by watching the team grow, I’ve seen them develop. The pace that we are seeing some of the youngsters come through at is just incredible. They’re 19, 20, 25, 30 years old and they’re just doing things that even they didn’t believe were possible for them to achieve. And we’re just excited by that. Every time we have success, we also have some that don’t succeed, but we’re doing more and more to improve our ratio of making them absolutely great salespeople, with great customers.

On if he ever believed he would become a motivational speaker, writer and author from his days of clipping ads from the Sunday Times years ago: Some days, as you may have seen in the book, I have to pinch myself to actually believe what I’m allowed to do, what I’m making happen, and it’s incredibly rewarding.

On the biggest misconception he thinks people have about him: I only see positive; I don’t worry about what people say about me, everyone is entitled to their opinion. (Laughs) When I started out, people said I’d be bankrupt, and I use those statements from my younger years to motivate me, I was going to prove them wrong. In the last 10 years, how many times has someone told us that print was going to die, that there is no place for print and they’re wrong. And they’ll continue to be wrong.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at his home: You’ll probably listen to a podcast with me. You’ll find me with my earphones in and working on my brain, working on my knowledge, working at how I can learn to get better, and relaxing, I do meditation. It’s really important to me to give my family time as well, so I’m making sure that I’m sharing my knowledge with them and that we’re all growing together. I’m the father of four boys and I’m incredibly proud of the way they’re all developing. And that’s good, because for a long time I was an absent father, but I’m very proud of them.

On what keeps him up at night: Normally indigestion. (Laughs) No, it’s very rare that I get up at night, I sleep really well.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Simon Leslie, cofounder & co-CEO, Ink.

Samir Husni: You’ve just written a book “There Is No F In Sales,” tell me, why did you write the book?

Simon Leslie: I wrote the book because I wanted to share some of the things that I’ve learned and accumulated over the last 33 years of being in sales. I wanted to write the book because I wanted to generate money for charity, all the profits from the book are going to charity. And I wanted to help people, who I think, are going through some of the same struggles as I’ve been through, to maybe not make the same mistakes that  I’ve made along the journey. If they’re starting out, they can learn something from it; if they’re halfway through their career, they can learn how to accelerate, and if they’re getting to the end of their career and thinking about what to do next, there are bits of advice in it for that as well. It’s giving a full list of ideas of how to deal with certain situations, and hopefully people won’t make as many mistakes as I did.

Samir Husni: The book reads as though you and I are sitting and having a conversation. I can hear you talking throughout the book, telling me it’s okay to not be okay, that challenges will be faced and this is what I do with them. I am going to have successes and I am going to have failures. If you were to write a review on Amazon about the book, what would you write?

Simon Leslie: I would say it’s not a difficult read; it’s written in short chapters with tips at the end of each chapter. It’s funny, the author is incredibly funny, and there is some great advice for people going through different phases. And it’s delivered in a conversational way. A lot of books give you lots of ideas, but those ideas may have never been done at all. These are real life situations that I have encountered and then I tell you how I dealt with them.

Samir Husni: I know you have encountered many of those real life experiences on both sides of the Atlantic, if not all over the world. Once, in an email, you asked me why all of these people were closing magazines or selling them, your company, Ink, was doing very well. Why do you think Ink is thriving during a time many others are not prospering?

Simon Leslie: The answer is going to be timely. Recently somebody ran a sub-2 hour marathon for the first time and I love that. I love the fact that they went through every little detail to make sure they performed and everybody did what they needed to do, and that got them the result they wanted. And I think that sums up how I operate. I look at all the details, I work out what we need to do, how we need to do it, and we work together, and that’s mostly coming from the team. I have a great team. And they believe what I believe and together we’re all rowing in the same direction. We believe in our media and we believe in our product.

Of course, we get people telling us that they have no print agenda, telling us that magazines aren’t important, but we just don’t believe it and we don’t accept it. It’s like when there was a recession, I said to my team, we’re just not participating. Let it carry on. Some of the biggest companies are formed during recessions. Some of the brightest stars were created when times were tough. I’m actually looking forward to a recession, because that’s going to bring so many opportunities that haven’t been here. People aren’t doing anything at the moment, they’re just sitting and waiting, and you actually need a shakeup from time to time to bring opportunity and fresh ideas.

Samir Husni: You’re results are more than just fiction or a dream or a belief. Your entire business is based on advertising revenue, and yet you’re succeeding where many who have that same business model are failing. What’s your secret sauce?

Simon Leslie: (Laughs) My magic formula. I can only tell you it’s a good team and a 100 percent belief in our product. We spend a lot of time training, and in personal development, working on mindsets of how do we get these people performing at the level they want to perform at. How do they deal with all the excuses and reasons why people don’t want to work with us? And how do they come up with better stories? It’s a story, life is one big story. And it’s encapsulated in the book: the ones who can tell a better story are the ones who succeed. And if you tell good stories, if people believe your stories and they believe in what you’re doing, that’s important.

My products are in a place where we haven’t got as much digital interference as some of the other people have. And readers don’t have to get out there and buy it, it’s right there in front of them. They have to spend $300 or $400 on an airline ticket, but the magazine is there and it gives them stuff they didn’t know they needed to know, and I think that’s why they’re still engaged with it and still excited by it, still inspired by it. And because of that, we find brands that want to be associated with that.

The biggest challenge that the other brands are having is they have stopped investing in their product, they have stopped believing in their product, they have stopped loving their product. They have listened to what the naysayers have told them, as opposed to believing in why they existed in the first place.

Samir Husni: Do you think your business has been more like that speedboat ad that you were tearing out and falling in love with at age 21, rather than a more relaxing and slower sailboat that others may have admired?  

Simon Leslie: The example of me tearing out Sunseeker ads from The Sunday Times goes along with what the ad actually read: Many dream and few achieve. That really inspired me and I was trying to explain how much that did for me in my career. It was so motivating, but that’s not necessarily what Sunseeker wanted; they wanted to sell boats. And sometimes you don’t realize the correlation between the message that you put out there and what it does for people.

Samir Husni: What message, in general, does Ink have now? As we approach 2020, where would you put Ink as a company that publishes several titles, websites and video? What position do you place Ink as you go out and try to sell even more ad pages?

Simon Leslie: Today we are focused on travel media, and it’s more space. I’m spending nearly every waking hour looking at how I can be better in that space. At the moment I have airports, I have people at home, I have people who, before they check in, I inspire them before they even decide where they’re going to go. I then get them on the airplane and I can talk to them about where they’re going, where they should go or might go, where they should think about going. And then I get them on the way back, and I have a different message for them. So, I am interested only in the traveler. And that traveler has a high propensity to spend money. They’re agile, opportunistic, and they don’t think twice about spending money.

When you’re on holiday and when you’re traveling, that’s a time when that credit card gets used far more than when you’re sitting in an office or at home. So, I have this affluent consumer who’s a different face than most consumers and I’m just saying this is my customer; this is what he or she or they look like, and this is what they’re going to deliver over the next 12 months. The art for me is to get more and more granular into where they’re spending their money, how they’re spending their money, why they make certain decisions, so understanding their behavior. The portfolio that we have is really exciting right now.

Samir Husni: Do you differentiate between selling that traveler to the advertiser or selling the stories to the traveler?

Simon Leslie: I have three customers. I have to make sure that I inspire the traveler. I have to keep the new content fresh and well-researched pieces of editorial to make sure they pick that magazine up and that they’re excited, which is what they continue to do. In our research we did the Harris poll about six weeks ago, and the recall and pickup was getting close to 90 percent. It was unbelievable. Then I have to make sure that the airlines love their products as much as we do, because they have to carry this around the universe and their customers have to be engaged and inspired, and have to do great feedback.

I don’t know if you remember, but a couple of years ago I launched something called #Hemigram on social media and I talked about how people want to see their face in print. We just relaunched it, we produced a 200 page book on all these pictures that people have sent us with a copy of United magazine in the most unbelievable locations around the world. And I think sometimes people forget how important this media is and how much it means to people on their journeys. So, I have to please everybody.

Samir Husni: Have you had to face any challenges on your own journey, and if so, how did you overcome them?

Simon Leslie: I’ve had more challenges in 25 years than anyone should have. When we started in 1994 it was a recession, then we had the dotcom boom and bust, then we had 9/11, we had 7/7, we had the Great Recession; we had countries going bust. Then we had our own growing pains; when you’re private equity-backed, there’s never-ending growth, so you have to keep growing and making decisions. And sometimes you make wrong decisions and you live with the consequences of those as well. And there will be another 20 challenges in the next 20 years.

The thing that I really do want to get across is that I’m super-excited. Probably more excited than I’ve ever been. I have an opportunity to affect certain people who work for inflight, to enhance it and help them improve. And I have a chance to inspire a generation of travelers.

 Samir Husni: You mention in your book that you don’t admit defeat unless you’ve tried every single, possible path. Keep on going and going and going. Is that your motto in life, your motto in selling, or is that just nice talk?

Simon Leslie: Well, sometimes you have to lose. I often question if I prefer losing to winning, because I’ve learned more from losing than I have winning. You do have to keep going, it’s a hurdle race and sometimes you’ll fall over and sometimes you’ll jump beautifully. Or you’ll get to the hurdle and you’ll refuse. And that’s the art, you have to keep racing and the opportunities will present themselves.

It’s really funny, I watch all of these viewers on Instagram every day telling people the seven things they need to do to be successful and the 10 things that can help them become a multibillionaire. And I think to myself: I didn’t know any of those things and yet I’ve had some nice success. So, sometimes what people think will make them successful is not necessarily what actually creates the success. What creates the success is the failings, the challenges, and the things that don’t go as planned and you having to adapt.

Samir Husni: What are Ink’s expectations for the year 2020? Will there be any new magazines coming  up?

Simon Leslie: We’ve just went into Ethiopian, so we’re getting back into Africa. I’m really excited about that. With this business, one of the first airlines we had was in Africa, so it’s going back to where we started, which is quite exciting. Ethiopian Airlines is the largest airline on Africa and we’re launching a new magazine, which will come out this month. And that will get bigger and bigger next year.

We have a few more airlines on the backburner ready to come over to our stables. We are now going into airlines and doing so much more than just magazines. We do partnerships; we bring brands to vend to help them grow. We just launched a new program called “Clubhouse TV,” which is a dedicated channel for airlines to have their own TV network within the clubhouse, which is starting really well.

We’ve just acquired ReachTV, which is the fastest growing airport network and is available at 90 airports in the U.S., and we’re going to grow that across the rest of the world. So, I have things that I need to do, and I promise you that we won’t slow down. If you’re talking to me around New Years’ time, and you ask me have I achieved all those things that I set out to do, I think the answer will be a resounding yes, because I’m bringing in even more coaches, even more trainers. people who are going to help my people get better. One that I am quite proud to have added is a young lady who is an Ultraman, she participates in Ultraman races, which is 520 km over three days. And she beats the guys at it. So, she has the most incredible mindset. And if I can get her to share that mindset with the people here, dealing with the old naysayers won’t be a problem anymore.

Samir Husni: As Thanksgiving approaches, I see on your website that you have a turkey made out of dollars, will you be having a financially bountiful Thanksgiving?

Simon Leslie: I think we’ve had records in about a dozen titles and that’s not records for this year, that’s the best ever. I have to say, we’re not seeing a downturn, if anything we’re seeing optimism. Our U.S. operation is up 24 percent from last year. The problem with that is, next year we’ll expect that again, but we keep doing it, we keep finding growth. And what’s exciting about the growth is that we’re helping companies at the same time reach new customers that they weren’t reaching.

People were spending a lot of money on digital and it’s getting harder and harder to get anything set, the noise is so loud. And for you to be able to understand that with all of the different changes and all the algorithms, sometimes something as simple as having a magazine on an airplane is rendering sharper returns than where they’ve been over the last couple of years.

Samir Husni: What makes you tick and click these days and motivates you to get out of bed in the mornings?

Simon Leslie: I’m getting more and more excited by watching the team grow, I’ve seen them develop. The pace that we are seeing some of the youngsters come through at is just incredible. They’re 19, 20, 25, 30 years old and they’re just doing things that even they didn’t believe were possible for them to achieve. And we’re just excited by that. Every time we have success, we also have some that don’t succeed, but we’re doing more and more to improve our ratio of making them absolutely great salespeople, with great customers.

And it’s really important that we’re spending time making sure that they understand what the customer needs and wants, because sometimes they don’t always know what they need and want, but we give them good advice, which doesn’t mean they always take it, but we’re getting better and better at understanding what brands need to do.

Samir Husni: Since you clipped that ad in the Sunday Times those years ago, did you ever think you would not only become a salesperson, but also a motivational speaker, writer and author?

Simon Leslie: Some days, as you may have seen in the book, I have to pinch myself to actually believe what I’m allowed to do, what I’m making happen, and it’s incredibly rewarding.

Samir Husni: What’s the biggest misconception you think people have about you?

Simon Leslie: You tell me.

Samir Husni: (Laughs)

Simon Leslie: I only see positive; I don’t worry about what people say about me, everyone is entitled to their opinion. (Laughs) When I started out, people said I’d be bankrupt, and I use those statements from my younger years to motivate me, I was going to prove them wrong. In the last 10 years, how many times has someone told us that print was going to die, that there is no place for print and they’re wrong. And they’ll continue to be wrong.

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly at your home one evening after work, what would I find you doing? Having a glass of wine; reading a magazine; cooking; or something else? How do you unwind?

Simon Leslie: You’ll probably listen to a podcast with me. You’ll find me with my earphones in and working on my brain, working on my knowledge, working at how I can learn to get better, and relaxing, I do meditation. It’s really important to me to give my family time as well, so I’m making sure that I’m sharing my knowledge with them and that we’re all growing together. I’m the father of four boys and I’m incredibly proud of the way they’re all developing. And that’s good, because for a long time I was an absent father, but I’m very proud of them.

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

Simon Leslie: Normally indigestion. (Laughs) No, it’s very rare that I get up at night, I sleep really well.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

%d bloggers like this: