Industry Profile: Transworld Business Senior Editor Mike Lewis
09 Jun, 2009
Shay: So tell us about yourself?
Mike: For starters I’m used to being on the other side of these questions. Other than that, I’m a Colorado native and hang my one-piece, neon suit in Boulder with my wife and son. I love to eat, drink coffee, and long moonlit walks through alleys.
Shay: What is your job title?
Mike: My card reads “TransWorld Business Senior Editor.”
Shay: Did your parents question your job choice?
Mike: No. They were pretty stoked actually as they know I love what I’m doing. Fortunately they didn’t pay for grad school (I’ve got an MBA from Illinois Inst. Of Technology), otherwise their hackles probably would have been up.
Shay: What was your first set up?
Mike: Sims Kidwell with Sims binders – just found it in my parents’ attic a couple months ago. Reverse camber is definitely not a new concept – that thing looks like a half pipe if you look at the profile.
Shay: What is your current set up?
Mike: You mean when I leave the bigfoots at home? This year I mostly rode a T.Rice 161.5. That last point five got me out of some hairty situations. I’m rocking Flux Super Titan bindings and ThirtyTwo Circuit Boas. Good stuff!
Shay: What was your first job?
Mike: Wow, it’s been a long time. Mammoth hunter maybe, jeez. First job in the industry was working at the Wave Rave shop in Boulder back in ‘96ish.
Shay: What’s a great day of snowboarding to you?
Mike: Any day. I love getting out regardless; I mean most of my days this year were at Eldora which sums it up if you know that mountain. Dream days are the clichés – friends, powder, bluebird, teleporter. The standard.
Shay: Who are your influences?
Mike: My biggest influences have been my folks and my wife. My son definitely is these days – reminds me that thinking old thoughts is dumb. Everybody I work with right now inspires me in some way or another on just about a daily basis. That’s pretty cool in my book!
Shay: How long have you been snowboarding?
Mike: Damn, back to the geologic scale questions. 21 years.
Shay: How many days do you get to ride a year?
Mike: I think I got around 35-40 this year? Not bad for a desk jockey.
Shay: Was it a difficult transition from freelancing to writing for one magazine?
Mike: Not really. I had been freelancing for Biz for a long time and for the last few years before I started was working in health care and owned a café here in Boulder so was really only writing for them as a way to stay connected. It came time to hit the reset button and love it here.
Shay: What is your role at Transworld Business as the Senior Snowboarding Editor?
Mike: To tell it how it is. Stay up on what’s going on in our industry, the business landscape as a whole, and tying it all together.
Shay: What’s your favorite article/interview you’ve done for the magazine?
Mike: Hmmm, tough question. They say you’re only as good as your last project and right now I’m feeling like our last issue (May) has been one of our best. I did a feature on the future of the snowboard film industry and one on a diversity and retention in snowboarding that I’m pretty stoked on and had the opportunity to hear a lot of interesting folks’ stories.
Shay: What are your thoughts on the current state of the industry?
Mike: You know, despite the barrage of negative economic and managerial news, there are a lot of people in this industry that are super creative, motivated and visionary that will help it come out the other side. Add to that the fact that snowboarding is fun and people want to do it, I think we’re going to be alright in a couple years.
Shay: When it comes to ideas for articles, do you work collaboratively or individually?
Mike: Definitely collaboratively. If you create the agenda on your own, you’re going to miss the mark a lot of times.
Shay: How do you select articles for print versus online?
Mike: By talking with our edit staff and retailers and figuring out what has the biggest impact for core shop owners. It’s definitely one of the toughest calls of the job. The Web’s great though in that we can tell an unlimited number of stories and get news out there for everybody.
Shay: In regards to the snow editorial, what is the focus and mission?
Mike: It goes back to telling it how it is. We try and be as unbiased as possible and cut through all the PR’ey spins to help core retailers and manufacturers run their businesses effectively.
Shay: Is it important to edit your own writing?
Mike: For sure. I read through my stories a ton of times and always find ways to make them better. There comes a time when you have to just hit send though.
Shay: Does snowboarding need more honesty and brutal truth?
Mike: That’s one commodity you can never have too much of. I think it needs more ownership though. A lot of the conversation takes place on message boards where people hide their identity. Real, honest conversation and debate will raise the entire tide.
Shay: Is there an adjustment to magazines with online content versus print content?
Mike: For sure. The biggest thing for us is timeliness. You can’t run straight news in print anymore because everybody already knows it by the time the publication comes out. It’s all about analyzing things and digging into it.
Shay: What do you see for the future of snowboard magazines?
Mike: Editors driving Bentleys. No probably more like this with a bigger smile:
Shay: Do you travel a lot for Transworld Business?
Mike: I’ve had some fun opportunities to go to Japan, Europe, and around the states this last year. I love checking out new places and meeting folks, so every trip winds up being a blast.
Shay: Prior to Transworld Business, what other jobs/companies have you worked at?
Mike: A bunch of newspapers, magazines, shops, restaurants, colleges, and syndicates.
Shay: What’s your average day like working on the magazine?
Mike: Answer fan mail from 8-12, take a nap in the hammock, repeat step one. No, generally spend the first few hours of the day trawling the Web for news, answering emails, and doing interviews. The afternoons are all about the to do list for print. There’s never a dull moment in the magazine biz.
Shay: What are some memorable experiences from working at Transworld Business?
Mike: The coolest things have been the opportunities for travel and interviewing the people that really are the wheels and motors of this industry.
Shay: How is working for Transworld (any cool work events, work environment, job perks)?
Mike: It’s such a great group. The coolest part is the history of all the mags – I grew up reading all these publications and to have the opportunity to be a part of it is great.
Shay: What education/experience did you have before getting the job?
Mike: Probably the most relevant education was a journalism degree from CU and the MBA is a great base for handling biz. I’ve done a lot of different types of reporting and writing over the years that helps for handling stories from pro riders to balance sheets.
Shay: What’s the best perk you’ve gotten from your job?
Mike: Getting to ride and call it work.
Shay: Any disadvantages of your job?
Mike: It’s hard to please everybody. Writing about shitty economic news.
Shay: Since you started in the snowboard industry, what’s been the biggest change?
Mike: The scale of some of the companies is massive these days. That’s definitely a huge one. Also this recession is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Sucks.
Shay: What’s the busiest time of year for you?
Mike: There’s not much down time, but the biggest season for me is Thanksgiving to Christmas as our January issue is the biggest on the snow front with SIA and product previews in January.
Shay: Education vs Experience…which do you think is more important?
Mike: C. all of the above.
Shay: What advice would you give to people wanting to become a magazine editor?
Mike: Work hard. Ask questions. Learn from your mistakes. Repeat.
Shay: Final Thoughts?
Mike: See you on the hill.
*Pictures courtesy of Mike Lewis