notes

11.26.12

Day 716 — Salt Lake City, UT –

Life is a string of challenges that a man can face head on or he can step to the side of them and let them pile up behind him. Our choices in the present seem to dictate a simple reality in the end — a bloody face full of scratches and bruises or being crushed below the weight of all the things you chose to avoid along the journey.

I want to take it in the teeth.

I’m in no way self-proclaiming toughness. I’m not a tough guy. And I especially hate getting hurt — who does? However, I’m keen to wipe up the inevitable mess of life, to the best of my abilities, as I move along through the proverbial gauntlet before me. It seems much more manageable and real.

This past week has proven to be a good reminder of how business can sometimes be less than kind if you rely on anyone but your time tested allies and especially yourself. I’m not going to go into too much detail on any one particular thing. There will be no name dropping. And I’m especially not going to blame anyone. Doing any of those things is tacky and weak in my book. But I do feel the need to share a glimpse into something that I think many of us encounter on a daily basis — cold shoulders.

When I acquired Telemark Skier early last year I was ecstatic. I’d already had an incredible opportunity to serve as Editor of the magazine and learn the ins and outs of publishing. So to have the chance to become the publisher was a once in a lifetime chance. So I took it.

I’m a two-time college dropout with a high school education. I don’t have any hang-ups about that. That would only slow me down in my daily routine. There isn’t time for that. But I do realize how fortunate I am to have the opportunities I’ve been given. I’ve always thought that if I keep running faster and working harder than the next guy, with a little luck and timing I can keep making things work. And up until now it has worked. My firm belief in that philosophy is what drives me. Motion is my muse. And without her I’m dead long before I arrive anywhere. So I keep running.

When I became the Publisher I inherited a magazine based on a traditional magazine model. The model is simple: Telemark Skier produces content based around telemark skiing, its culture, gear and travel. To fund the creation of this content we seek out companies who create products for the audience we write for, and sell them space in our magazine to promote their latest products and offerings. In return they compensate us through funding that allows us to continue forward.

It seems like a simple model to the average person, only it is usually much more complex. Especially when the companies are much larger than just the niche market we deal with. At that point it becomes a time-consuming sales fiesta where we spend more time selling than the companies do by responding to the stimuli. It’s like putting dry ice into a two-liter bottle, adding water and then capping it off. In theory you just created a concoction that you think is about to make a huge explosion. Only in this particular scenario with magazine ad sales, what seems to be the correct formula for a successful bomb, is actually a dud.

Over the past eight months I’ve had the privilege of watching people and companies, who I once shared warm conversations of support and encouragement with, turn into cold and non-existent people and conversations. It reminds me of a great Black Flag lyric, “My war – you’re one of them. You say that you’re my friend, but you’re one of them.”

I’ve never been a fan of being at the mercy of someone’s else’s decisions about what I should think is possible or cool. That only reminds me of every shitty high school clique I encountered as an adolescent, where judgment of others and the classification of cool was determined by those that thought they had the power to make that ruling. So I’m resisting.

A good business must be financed well in order to grow and be profitable. Since what I’ve acquired is based on a model that no longer works — the model must be changed or it will die. Instead of relying on those that I once deemed allies, I’m going to put my hope into the people — the readers. And in the meantime I’m going to change the direction of how our financing works.

In order to accomplish this, I’ve decided to plug myself back into the workforce of America and manage Telemark Skier by financing it myself. Is it a sure thing that it will survive for another ten years? No. But it deserves the attention and care any art form does. It requires a vision that is not based on a spread sheet line item created by the cool kids. We are going to detach ourselves from the mainstream and take this underground where it can breathe and build itself on a new set of rules and principles.

I’m mobile. I can drive anywhere in the lower 48 of the United States to find work. I’m determined. And I’m fueled by the inaction of others. I believe that when I put water into a two-liter bottle of dry ice — it will react as planned, simply because I double checked the ingredients myself.

Thanks for checking in

— JM

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