CYOP #90 - Creating Thoughtful Reader Experiences + Mixing Things Up with Chris Brown of Refueled Magazine

CYOP #90 - Creating Thoughtful Reader Experiences + Mixing Things Up with Chris Brown of Refueled Magazine //

Photo: Jason Lee

I’ve got Chris Brown of Refueled Magazine on today's show to talk about his beautiful quarterly publication, which is all about community, heritage, and discovery. In the interview, we chat about the importance print publications as they fit into the context of truly experiencing the stories and art we consume.

Chris also talks about the balance between doing what fulfills us creatively and focusing solely on what the audience wants or needs, how successfully selling a neighborhood newspaper at a very young age cemented his love for storytelling, and why he has taken Refueled in a slightly different direction this year. 




"I think it's important to wake up in the morning and go to bed at night knowing you're being true to yourself." — Chris Brown, Refueled Magazine


Other resources mentioned:

Follow along with Chris' adventures:

CYOP #89 - Merging Creative Work + Business Smarts with Lizzy Okoro of Bunch Magazine

Lizzy Okoro of Bunch Magazine is joining me on the show today to kick off a series dedicated to those who create print publications. With Bunch Magazine, Lizzy has built entire company based on the idea that creative endeavors and business acumen are not mutually exclusive. 

In the interview, Lizzy chats about how she came to the realization that her creative passions didn’t have to be relegated to hobbies—that she could actually build a sustainable business around them. She also goes into the details behind the growth of Bunch over the years, how she and her team share stories across multiple mediums and why she’s found it so crucial to be mindful about how she approaches the business.





"Ask for what you want. Tell people what you're doing. I promise the whole world will open up to you." — Lizzy Okoro, Bunch Magazine // 


Other resources mentioned:

Follow along with Lizzy's adventures:

This episode is dedicated to my stepmom, Debi. You can find more information about how my family and I are honoring her memory below:

The (Seemingly) Lost Art of Running a Business Like a Human Being

The (Seemingly) Lost Art of Running a Business Like a Human Being //

Can we chat for a few minutes? I've been thinking about how things are going around here and I've come to a few conclusions.

At the end of August, I sent out an issue of my weekly Creative Digest that ended up serving two purposes. You can read the full email here, but let's talk about those purposes.

The first purpose was intentional: I wanted to communicate to my most dedicated readers and listeners that I needed to put things on hold for a bit. My family and I were watching my stepmom's health deteriorate rapidly and I felt the need to press pause on the elements of my work that I knew could survive my leave of absence.

The second purpose was slightly less intentional, but was—dare I say—more important: I was really honest with subscribers. I was emotional while writing, I dropped a curse word (which aligns pretty seamlessly with the real, everyday me), and I didn't censor myself. My stepmom was dying and, to be honest, censoring myself didn't even come to mind. Bottom line? I showed my humanity in that email.

A few things have happened since:

  • Immediately after hitting send, more people unsubscribed from my Creative Digest list than ever before.
  • Within hours, dozens of subscribers checked in with me by replying via email, texting, calling or reaching out on social media.
  • To date, that issue has a higher open rate and click-through rate than any other Creative Digest issue.

Here's the thing: I was initially a little disheartened to see subscribers dropping like flies. It's never fun to have quantitative evidence that shows people opting out of your humanity. However, I got over those vanity metrics pretty quickly because I knew, in my heart, that those who read my words, reached out, and engaged are the people who matter.

You see, I'm not a brand. I'm a human. I'm a person who has feelings. Those feelings are likely to surface on occasion.

Sadly, there seems to be an enhanced (and sometimes aggressive) focus on cutting humanity out of business, altogether. So much of what we see in this strange, amazing, creative world of entrepreneurship has to do with building a perfect brand.

"DON'T share your personal story," they shout.

"You've got to have consistency," they demand.

"Here are the seven things that will guarantee your success," they promise.

If you run a business, freelance full time, or have a side gig, it's important to think about how you present yourself, your products and/or your services to the world—no doubt about it. I am here to tell you, however, that being a human and running a business aren't mutually exclusive.

Take me, for example. I'm in the business of sharing stories. Some of the stories are my own and some are the stories of others. Sometimes I share via my podcast, sometimes I share on behalf of clients, and sometimes I share through various print and online publications. Depending on the medium through which I share a story, the presence of my voice tends to vary.

However, if you've opted into a medium I own and produce—like the Creative Digest, the podcast, or this space—you will likely notice that my voice has a strong presence. You have a front row seat to my humanity, my thought processes, my emotional state, my vulnerability, and my flaws. Take it or leave it.

I am not running this side of my work—my business—like a brand. I'm running it like a human. In a world full of deeply edited, perfectly staged brands, I hope many of you will find that refreshing.

Those only interested in a one-dimensional experience, free from any and all human traits, can opt out at any time. It's completely okay—encouraged, even. I realize that my brand (ahem) of humanity isn't for everyone. My life is real, my work is real, and sometimes the two collide in sad, wonderful, frightening, and exciting ways. 

My hope is to recapture and revive the (seemingly) lost art of running a business like a human being and, thanks to the kind souls who make up the last two bullet points in my list above, I know many of you are with me.

I'm so incredibly honored to have you along for the ride.