Looking at indie sports magazines through the lens of a Monocle

Midori House - nondescript outside, wonderful inside.
Midori House – nondescript outside, wonderful inside.

Last week I had the opportunity to do something that I have wanted to do for quite a long time: to see the inside of Midori House, the home of Monocle magazine and Winkreative, two businesses that are headed up by Tyler Brûlé.

I actually had the opportunity to meet Tyler many years ago when he was still running Wallpaper magazine and Winkreative was just getting started. My girlfriend at the time was working for Tyler on a project and I lent a hand, so there were a few trips to his offices, just off the Strand at the time.

But for quite a while now, Tyler and his team have been in Marylebone in Midori House.

I have admired what Tyler has built for as long as I have known about him. After Wallpaper, which was never really my thing, I was delighted to discover his next title: Monocle magazine. Every month I impatiently wait for it to be published and really enjoy the mix of content.

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Tyler Brûlé

Part of the Monocle publishing empire are a number of radio shows, covering subjects as diverse as entrepreneurship, foreign policy, finance and independent publishing – the latter radio show is called The Stack and it has become my favourite Monocle24 show since launching Like the Wind.

So I was really delighted to be invited to be part of Monocle24’s The Stack looking at independent sports and fitness titles.

Midori House is everything I expected of the HQ for Winkreative and Monocle – behind the fairly bland exterior are achingly cool offices and a waiting room that is as fitting for the businesses that it represents as it is possible to be.

After a brief wait, during which I browsed the Monocle books on the shelf in the reception area, I was joined by Andy Waterman, the editor of Meter magazine (published by Tracksmith, the running apparel brand). The two of us were shown through to the recording studio and Tyler jumped up to greet us and make us feel at home in what he clearly understands could be an intimidating environment. The studio is very dimly lit, with no windows, save for one that allows the production team, in the next room, to look in on us. Andy and I had a microphone and pop filter on the table in front of us. Tyler sat to the left of me, at the head of the table, behind his laptop with his own microphone and headphones on.

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 19.41.16We had a couple of instructions from Tyler and then we were off. If you have a chance to listen to the recording on the radio show, I am sure it will be immediately apparent that Tyler is incredibly professional. His questions were well researched and he is clearly passionate about his subject. I stumbled early in the show with one of my answers, but Tyler just picked that up and turned it into another question, without missing a beat.

I hope that the show is interesting. I love talking about running and magazines. Personally I really enjoyed hearing Andy, from Meter, give his perspective on publishing in the running sector. In particular, his theory on how the English translation of a great cycling book, The Rider, launched a thousand ships in cycling including Rouleur and, indeed, Rapha, was really interesting.

All in all, being a part of the show was a huge pleasure.

Actually just being in Midori House was great for me – really inspiring. Tyler launched Winkreative 18 years ago. Monocle is nine years old. I really want Freestak and Like the Wind to be the best they can possibly be and looking at what Tyler has created inspires me to work even harder on what Julie and I have started.

And more than anything, I discovered that I have a great face for radio!

Unbalanced: how I need to fit sport back in to my life

I raced a 5km leg of a triathlon relay today and found myself thinking about a question that someone had tweeted me, all about how to attack a race of that distance. My advice a few days ago had been to go out hard and concentrate on catching the person in front. Having raced today, I followed up on that tweet and said that I had used that tactic. Frustratingly the person in front wasn’t up for getting caught and I never closed the gap. I finished in 17:47.

The tweeter then asked me:

How come? Your pb is much faster than that.

To which I replied:

The short answer is that since that PB @freestakuk & @LikeTheWindMag have happened – work vs. training is not balanced!

And that is the truth.

Simply not training

In the last 7 days I have raced a mile (on Saturday), run 14 miles (on Sunday) and then not managed to do any exercise whatsoever until last night when Julie and I messed around on some gym equipment in the park. And then today’s 5km relay run-leg. That is possibly a total of 18 miles and around two and a half hours of exercise.

At the same time I estimate that I have been getting around five and a half or six hours sleep per night. For some people that is fine. But I have always needed sleep and when I was training hard, 8 hours was the minimum. Nine was preferable.

Love Freestak. Love endurance sports.

So what point am I trying to make? Well, I feel pretty frustrated at the moment. Don’t get me wrong – I love what I do for a living. I love what we do at Freestak and I truly believe in us as a business. We have amazing clients and we work on fantastic projects.

I just can’t understand why I seem to be unable to find 45 minutes in an 18 hour day to do some exercise – go for a run or swim or bike ride.

I think the answer to that question is that I do have a bit of a single-track personality. In the build-up to the 2012 London marathon, I was almost totally consumed by the race and I made sure that as far as possible life fitted around training. Now the situation is different and I love what I do at Freestak so much that I happily prioritise that over exercise. I know plenty of people – even some who own their own business – who prioritise their sport over their business. That is up to them.

I also think that I enjoy running more when I do it with other people and with all of the excitement at work, it is too easy to put off meeting people for a run or a ride, because I don’t want to commit to that in case something more exciting or pressing comes in to the office.

So I have decided that I need to achieve a more zen-like balance. I really am not going to try to deny myself the amazing opportunity that we have at Freestak. But I must, surely, be able to find 45 minutes every day to do some exercise? In fact, you can all help me. Could you send a tweet or write a comment on this post or send me a message asking me what I am going to do today or what I have done: that will keep me honest… So who’s up for helping me get back to some semblance of fitness? I’d really like to get back to my tweeter and give him a different answer soon!