Neil Gladstone is busy working as the Editor-in-Chief of both Asylum, a website dedicated to men age 18-34, and Lemondrop, a website that brings some humor to the otherwise somewhat serious conversation of relationships and personal lives.
A busy man to be sure, Neil Gladstone also finds time to practice cooking and swimming. He found time to talk with us about the ongoing relationship his websites have with the world of trendspotting.
11 Questions with Neil Gladstone
1. How did you get involved with Asylum and Lemondrop and what motivates you to continue?
In the summer of 2007, AOL wasn’t exactly known as a big destination for men 18 to 34. The execs thought it might be interesting to experiment with an independently branded site that had a small budget and an editorial staff of one. I was told to act like I was publishing the site in my basement, not at AOL. While I wasn’t going to ignore everything I’d learned in previous years at the company or ignore the advantages of being at a large media company, allowing me to take chances and feel a strong ownership over a “basement project” made me want to see it succeed. I worked much more than 9-to-5 to make sure I was doing everything possible.
Once Asylum was up and running, the editorial staff quickly grew, and so did the readers. We soon had an average monthly audience of 5 million unique visitors. It wasn’t long before I pitched a site that would speak to all aspects of a young woman’s life, covering big issues, relationships and personal stories—but with a smart sense of humor, rather than just focus on celebrities and fashion the way many women’s publications often do. That became Lemondrop.
2. How significant is the topic of trendspotting to Asylum and Lemondrop?
Trendspotting is something we discuss every day, although you could probably say that some of things we find “trends” are more like “micro-trends” or “nano-trends” and we don’t typically call it a trend. One of us will just say, “Hey, have you noticed everyone’s talking about this today?”
3. How do you define a trend?
That probably depends on how big of a trend you want to find. For plenty of blogs and SEO geeks (us included), a term being searched on Google for half a day qualifies as a significant trend. One day it might be something about Megan Fox’s thumb, and then the phrase disappears, never to be heard from again. Then there are larger trends like photobombers and steampunk design—always replenishable. They ebb and flow but never go away.
4. How do you define cool?
Some combination of these pretentious references: Sly Stone, George Orwell, St. Vincent, The Last Poets, Skee-Ball, The Roots, and the food of Paul Liebrant.
5. Do you need a culture of innovation to create something that is cool?
It depends on your definition of cool. I’m sure powdered wigs and leeching are cool to someone. Not everything that’s innovative is cool. It can appear as trying too hard. A classic approach can also be cool in the right circumstances. If you’re editing a website, you have to keep innovation and experimentation in mind and trust it will often lead to some cool things.
6. What is the best way to create an infectious idea, product or service?
Listen to what everyone is discussing and then find a distinctive perspective or way to meet a consumer need.
7. What is the key to innovation?
Maintaining a healthy competitive spirit with your rivals and yourself.
8. What are your ambitions for Asylum and Lemondrop?
To be the leading publications in their categories.
9. How do you reset yourself to be creative? Do you have any rituals?
Swimming laps, listening to “Zaireeka” by the Flaming Lips (not necessarily at once).
10. Professionally, what do you want to be doing in 10 years?
Creating content that gets people thinking, talking and laughing.
11. What are your most important hobbies?
Playing music and cooking. The amount of turmeric bottles I’ve acquired over the years forces me to be an trendsetter every time I’m in the kitchen.
Neil Gladstone, Editor-in-Chief of Asylum and Lemondrop (INTERVIEW)
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