Another Good Year for The Good Men Project

CallForBloggersI have just finished my third full year on the board of directors and as strategic advisor to The Good Men Project. It’s hard to believe that much time went by so quickly. On the other hand, it is amazing to see how far we have come in such a short amount of time. Every day we publish no fewer than thirty new stories, and every day we learn something about ourselves and each other. It truly is a remarkable journey. If you haven’t joined us yet, please stop by the site for a read. I’m pretty convinced one visit will not be enough. Like the three to five million people we reach each month, you’ll be back.

If you’re not yet familiar with The Good Men Project, we are an editorial site that focuses on men’s issues in the 21st Century. We call our electronic publication, “The Conversation No One Else Is Having.” What sets us apart and makes us unique is that we are a site with the word “Men” in the title above the masthead, while only half our audience is male. Likewise, we are a site where half our writers are women. In the many comments that follow our stories, men and women discuss difficult issues about marriage, parenting, work-life balance, career stress, family stress, health, sex, romance, relationships, dating, splitting up, advice, confessions, sports, ethics, faith, discrimination in all its forms, justice, growing old, staying young, entertainment, the arts, and pretty much any other human issue you can imagine. We demand high quality writing, respectful commentary, and a firm commitment to dig a little deeper emotionally than you otherwise might expect in high volume editorial. Beyond that, we are an experiment in progress, and we welcome the creativity of every voice that joins us.

This past year has been particularly exciting for us, because our endlessly devoted CEO, Lisa Hickey, relocated to the west coast and set up shop in Pasadena, California. We are now in a fabulous shared workspace environment where any of our writers or editors can stop by and have a cup of coffee with Lisa. Our team of three executive editors, over thirty section editors, and more than 2000 regular contributors around the globe generate topical as well as perennial stories with precision teamwork. We have almost 500,000 Facebook fans, up from about 60,000 the last time I summarized our business for you in early 2014. Something is definitely going right at The Good Men Project. I get the sense you are all heavily into this conversation. Don’t worry, we’re still just getting started.

One of our editors recently asked me in a comment string on another site what I thought was working well at The Good Men Project, and what could be learned and applied to other endeavors similar in aspiration. Well, the number one thing that’s working here is the people — the readers, the writers, the commentors, the staff — all of you are what make this thing matter. Beyond that, I offered three themes that Lisa and I pledged way back would be core to our focus and that we try very hard to make real. Here is what I wrote:

1) Our platform is meant to be a dialogue, not a diatribe. The brand does not define what being a good man is, it poses that question to the community to sensibly discuss in a conversation that never ends. We don’t name a good man of the year, because if we did, the chances he would be unveiled as flawed a minute after we did are 99%. We discuss goodness, we don’t cement a model of good.

2) Diversity to us is air. Because good is so hard to understand, we see the whole of our contribution base as vastly more important than one dominating voice. We are The Good MEN project with half our writers women and half our readers women, so men and women can discuss important things with each other, not at each other. Ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, we cast the widest net we can, so we can learn from each other.

3) We demand good behavior without imposing political correctness. You can disagree with a point of view, but you can’t attack a contributor. We encourage articulate contribution over invective. Again, it’s meant to be a conversation, which means there are rules of civility, but not so many that they curtail free exchange of voice.

Lisa and I spend a lot of time thinking about our brand, the promise we make to all of you and to each other, and my sense is if we are true to these three core values, we will keep growing on a steady trajectory. Like I also say, because we tread on creatively dangerous terrain, it is inevitable that we will step in poo now in again. When we do, we go back to our values, and that’s how we hope to get unstuck.

In the coming year you will see some forward strides at The Good Men Project, where we are now investing the limited but stable financial resources we can forecast.

First, you are going to see a much-needed and long overdue redesign that prioritizes mobile in a way we haven’t before. We know you tolerate our templates with “pinch to expand” dexterity, and that’s not fair in a world gone mobile. Both a responsive site and an app are on the way. Both a responsive site and an app are on the way.

Second, we will be expanding our sponsorship model, where we work with relevant brands to produce content that helps tell their stories in ways that align with our values, but also lets us grow our business. We have always been careful about this, but we have also become quite good at it. When our phone rings with a great sponsorship opportunity, we want to connect the right writer with that message. That writer could be you!

Third, you will see more emphasis on our premium product, where we ask a modest annual membership fee to help support our efforts in a world where advertising can not be our only business model. By the way, if you write for us, you are entitled to a free bronze level subscription badge, so if you don’t have it, email lisa@goodmenproject.com and she will set you up.

Finally, we are going to be experimenting more with video, and we will have some production days in our office for pilot shorts we want to test. If you have ideas or original videos you want to share, don’t be a stranger.

We also plan to increase our coverage of the Presidential Election with unique perspectives on the meaning of campaign verbiage. We will continue to collect far-ranging points of view on movie favorites both current and classic. We will also stay on top of breaking news stories and events, not so much with added mainstream reporting, but with analysis and interpretation of the implications and underlying meaning in mainstream reporting. All in all, we have quite an ambitious agenda, as you would expect of us.

I personally want to thank you for embracing The Good Men Project, where I am not only a business guy, I am a regular contributor. Not surprisingly, I write mostly about business, where I try to focus on the human side of creativity, innovation, overcoming obstacles, and taking on big challenges. It is a joy to share my words with you, and it is a joy to share this space with you. Keep the good words coming, keep us honest and on our toes, and we promise to continue The Conversation No One Else Is Having.

_____

This article originally appeared on The Good Men Project.

Photo Image: Courtesy of Good Men Media, Inc.

A Very Good Year for Good Men

GMPI started writing for The Good Men Project in its second year of life, offering to share some of my thoughts on business, creative leadership, and management also published on my own blog. In its third year I joined the board of directors and became a strategic advisor to the CEO. As we embark now on its fourth year, I continue onward, helping to accelerate our growth, invigorated by what our CEO and team have accomplished in driving, “The Conversation No One Else is Having.”

What is this Good Man Project? It’s an editorial content destination you’ll find on the web and through mobile, riding the wave of digital publishing through curated editorial viewpoints on topics ranging from love and parenting to ethics and sports. Founded by entrepreneur Tom Matlack, our vision is never to tell anyone what we think a good man might be, but to share the considered points of view of thousands of vetted contributors on the uneasy questions surrounding the issues of being a man in the 21st century. Why Good Man and not Good Person? We observe that there are any number of sites dealing with the broader issues faced by both genders, but almost none taking a serious approach to some of the deeper issues faced by men. Curiously, we have found our audience to be half men and half women, with our contributors mirroring that dichotomy. Perhaps more interestingly, we find no bias as to whether a topic is covered by a man or a woman, and in the often hundreds of comments that follow our stories, we observe men and women talking with each other about subjects you seldom observe strangers discussing and debating without invective or attack. It’s a wild line we walk, and we love it.

How are we doing after three years on the playing field? Here are a few metrics that make us especially proud:

  • We have surpassed 150 million cumulative page views.
  • We have published over 22,000 articles.
  • We have ranked as high as #243 in Quantcast.
  • We average about 3 million page views per week, with more than half our stories getting over 5000 views and our best stories over 100,000 views. And of course we occasionally have runaway hits that are off the charts.
  • We have over 60,000 Facebook fans and over 100,000 Twitter followers.
  • Our work is overseen by more than 30 editors from the U.S., Canada, Costa Rica, Malaysia, Spain, and the U.K.

What do we think about this? We call it a decent start. If you had asked anyone at the launch of The Good Men Project how far into the future 100 million page views would be, I promise you no one would have said 3 years–not a chance! So when we think about what our business might look like a year from today, it is impossible for us to predict much of anything other than to say we aspire to do better.

When asked to what do I attribute our joyous success to date, that’s easy: People, Products, Profits, in that order. Yes, that happens to be my life mantra for innovation and the theme of my blog, but like I say, for me, these aren’t words, it’s a mandate. Recently I was reviewing a draft of our annual report with our CEO–more about her in a moment–and as we edited our slides, I got fixated on a virtual org chart that we didn’t have a year ago. It was a matrix of our editors and the categories they cover every week. In looking at that chart and how it tied back to our exponentially increased workflow, it was once again obvious to me that none of this would be possible without the immense talent in our community; these are the People who create our Product. That Product, our collection of stories and voices to which we add new material almost every waking hour of the day, is what our customers experience. The excellence of that Product is our lifeblood, and our unending commitment to improve it is what has graciously allowed us to create an embraced customer experience. Customers mean the world to us, their experience is what matters most, but it is our team that creates that experience, and that is where we focus our energy. And I’ll let you in on a little secret, having focused on People and Products, we are already modestly profitable, albeit at a very early scale, enough to let us recommit to our core values.

None of this would be possible without the ceaseless commitment of our CEO, Lisa Hickey. Lisa’s passion for this subject is exemplary, and her evangelism for our brand and our community is a source of pride for everyone involved with this mission. I honestly don’t think she sleeps. She is at the helm of every aspect of The Good Men Project from uptime to story selection to ad sales to social media integration. And yes, Lisa is a woman guiding The Good Man Project, and that is a big part of what makes us unique. She is welcoming, encouraging, open-minded, and forward-thinking. Most of all, she is a great partner, and I will have to twist her virtual arm to leave this paragraph in the post.

We thank everyone involved–our readers, our commentors, our writers, our editors, our sponsors, and our suppliers–for being part of this launch. We hope if you are a regular, you will sign up for our free email list (we publish a fantastic daily digest) or consider becoming a premium member for a small fee that includes a welcome gift. If you haven’t visited The Good Men Project in a while, come see how we have shaped and molded and evolved our site over the first three years, then join our community and help us take it together into the future. Like I said, we’re just getting started. We have a tremendous amount of work to do, and we can’t do it without you!

16 New Things I’m Thankful For (2013 Edition)

With Thanksgiving on the horizon, it’s time again to take a step back from our daily grind and consider the rejuvenating goodness that dots the landscape all around us.  Last year I kicked off my own blogging tradition with a post that featured 16 Things I’m Thankful For.  Here in reasonably simplicity that speaks without much preamble is my itemized, non-prioritized, yet still incomplete version for this year:

1) I can stop saying someday I am going to write a book.  I did that.  Many of you have been exceptionally gracious in your embrace of it.  The reviews are heartening, and the emails I am getting from people telling me they chuckled, teared up, or are living through similar challenges tell me the words are starting to meander to outer circles.  To share these words is pure fulfillment.

2) Health care is going to be accessible to a lot more people who desperately need it.  Yes, the ACA website was botched and Obamacare v1.0 is not exactly what the doctor ordered, but we have started on a long overdue journey of empathy and caring that is befitting of our prosperity.  In a decade the launch will be no more than a footnoted glitch, and wellness will be broadly understood as a civil right.

3) U.S. armed forces previously on combat duty are largely out of Iraq and have not fired a shot in Syria.  Hopefully we are turning the corner.  Give Peace a Chance.

4) Our new little rescue pooch (Kole) is teaching our senior bigger dog (Ellie) a lot of new tricks.  I have the pictures to prove it.  Dogs are good for each other, and good for the soul.  I learn a lot from these mutts, and they don’t much complain when I read dialogue to them.

5) I have not opened a bad bottle of Rioja this year, and not paid more than $20 retail for the privilege.  The values in Spanish wines remain astounding.

6) My amazing wife continues to change the world by bringing English language skills to college students studying in the U.S. from abroad who love her for it.  She is so good at what she does, it is humbling.

7) The Dodgers made it to the NLCS and got as close to the World Series as they have in 25 years.  Wait ’til next year.

8) Good Men Project is at record traffic levels and building a tremendous community.  Our CEO, Lisa Hickey, is heroic.  Our team of editors, staff writers, and independent contributors is tackling complex issues with equal parts gravitas and good humor.  Next year we focus on video, mobile, and subscriptions in addition to new categories, better sponsorships, and broader syndication.

9) Thrift Books is growing, growing, growing.  Our new President, Mike Ward, is 100% focused on People, Products, Profits, in that order.  All three are really good.  We are blessed, we are expanding, and we are green!

10) The feedback I receive from our CTI Executive Coaching students gives me reason to smile ongoing.  They are taking the message of People, Products, Profits into corporations all over the world, helping executives perform better with a grounded human approach that unlocks creativity and makes innovation happen.  Teaching this workshop has been a rare opportunity.  Hearing back from our coaches in the field reminds me that business can always be made better and more sane.

11) The FDA just banned trans fats.  We won’t miss them, not even a little bit.  Fewer heart attacks, longer lives, healthier families.

12) Trans-Siberian Orchestra returns this year to Southern California.  My wife and I missed the last two holiday tours (although we did see Night Castle live) and we are going the day after Thanksgiving.  #TSOtime

13) Our Celebrating Children event at Dodger Stadium raised over $150,000 to help support the kids and families we serve.  Click on the image at the bottom of this post for a little video that tells Hector’s Story and you’ll get an idea why this work matters as much as it does.  And hey, we got to meet Dodger Great Maury Wills, who was on hand to share stories of Chavez Ravine past.

14) I am working on my next writing project with one of the most talented editor/publishers a fellow could ever hope to welcome into his life.  And the project after that.  And the one after that.  So hey, go buy the one that’s out there so I can come tour your neighborhood on his nickel guilt free.

15) Two of my close friends beat nasty forms of cancer this year.  They were brave, resilient, noble in their struggle, and triumphant.  They taught me a lot, more than I could have imagined.  Raise a glass of Rioja, you earned it!

16) I’m not hungry.  I’m not thirsty.  I’m not sick.  I have a comfortable place to live, plenty of clothes to wear, time to read and share ideas.  I wish everyone on earth could type those words.  The basics are still too much a rarity.  We would all do well to remember that before we utter the words, “I want…”

Happy Thanksgiving 2013, whether you share the holiday in the United States or somewhere else in the world in spirit.  Celebrate the joys that are yours.  Earn Each Moment.

Hector

Belief and Perspective Are Highly Nuanced

From The Good Men Project — January 3, 2011:

“Men, Faith, and Goodness” by Tom Matlack

Not an easy topic, which is why it produced so many different points of view.

Perhaps the underlying message is that enlightenment is more about understanding the spectrum of opinions and belief sets that surround us than latching on to any single act of judgment. We have to learn from others if we want dialogue to be real and produce shared outcomes.

Any purely strident point of view is as unlikely to be changed as it is entirely correct.

GMP Banner