Andrew Beattie, Ethos
Ethos is a new magazine about business, business people, and business practice. Published from Liverpool after a crowdfunding campaign, it reflects today’s consumer-orientated view of business, using examples from across the world of business. Its scope is summed up by the three stories highlighted on the launch cover – Etsy, Everton and Elephants. We spoke to managing director Andrew Beattie about his working week.
How was your weekend?
The weekend was great thank you. I spent most of Saturday doing some long overdue housework and the rest of it hanging out with my wife, Amy, and our son, Max, at home and in the park close to our home in North Liverpool. And I booked a holiday to Paris for Amy and I, which I’m beyond excited for.
Tell us about your typical journey to work.
I live about 40 minutes on the bus away from the office and I’ll either spend the time reading or listening to podcasts. I generally avoid emails at the start of the week until after 11am as they have a habit of breaking my plans for the week before I have a chance to get up to speed, but I look forward to a read in the morning on my way in as its the only time I get for it really. I’m reading ‘How will you measure your life?’ at the minute which is nice and I have a copy of the Tao of Wu in my bag too which I’m excited to read next. Podcast wise, anything by Gimlet Media or Monocle 24 and various business podcasts tend to be it.
Describe the state of your desk.
Both my desk at home and in the office are organised chaos - stacks of weird things I’ve collected and bits that I like having there. I like having various things to hand for moments when I need to shut my laptop and be distracted for a while - a stack of magazines, reports, books and a good set of headphones. I haven’t had a lot of time to sit at my desk of late as we’ve had a few teeth grinding deadlines and so I need to re-familiarise myself with it this week and unload some of the things I’ve been collecting in my bag on to it.
Which magazine do you first remember?
The first magazine I remember is probably Beano or The Dandy - does that count as a magazine? My dad was seriously into collecting comics and so I’d always get a copy of both of those after he went comic book shopping - Desperate Dan was a hero. I bought a set of The Dandy stamps a few years ago. They’ll be under a pile of papers on my desk somewhere. I grew up with those kind of stories in our house and I loved superhero stuff. Still do.
Which magazine matters to you the most right now?
Lots to be honest. Monocle always makes a big impression on me. The quality of the reporting in it is incredible and the design and photography is inspiring. I always look forward to getting my copy. There’s a lot in their world view that matches my own.
I tend to buy a few different magazines each month for inspiration and encouragement - things I stumble across online or things recommended to me by friends. My favourites I’ve bought this year have been Gentle Rain from Hamburg, which for me has totally redefined what a city based magazine can be. Lodestars Anthology (Canada) and Pallet were nice additions to my collection too. Pallet is about craft beer, an industry I know reasonably well, and is wonderfully illustrated and a joy to read.
There are lots of magazines that focus on the creative thrills of starting a business. How do you make the business side interesting and relevant?
The things that makes the stories we write about or film interesting and relevant for us are a) the people behind them and b) the thing that they are trying to change in the world. We find these people incredibly inspiring (and lots of fun to talk to and spend time with) and the journeys that they go on to change the world in whatever way that they do are always great stories. And so we try and get as much of that feeling of inspiration that we feel into the stories as possible.
Ethical businesses tend to be small and local. Is it possible for good practice to continue with scale?
It definitely is. Patagonia are a great example of that, as are Oatly and Etsy.
More than anything else it’s about fiercely defending the values and principles which make a company ethical as it grows and running all your decisions through them, getting each new member of staff or supplier/partner to sign on to these values before doing business with them and being totally and radically transparent with customers and everyone else who plays a part in your journey - always and with no exception. These things shouldn’t be hard to do if you implement them at the start of your journey but are much harder to retrospectively do to a large company.
The transparency one is a big thing. Companies are run by people, and people make mistakes, and both customers and employees will respect you if you hold your hands up and say, ‘In this instance, we’ve been a bit of a shit, and we’re sorry and wont do it again.’ And mean it.
What’s the single, essential, piece of advice you'd offer someone planning to start a business?
Make sure you love it enough to do it at 3am in the morning, on your own, at your dining room table, for considerably more time than you’d suspect. And remember that creating a positive social outcome from your business is just as important as a measure of success as profit.
Pick a spread from the first issue of Ethos and tell us what it says about the magazine.
I’ve literally just flicked through it and landed at the Karma Cola spread. I love the image on the intro page to this and to be honest it says a lot about what Ethos is about as a story.
Firstly, the image is perfectly human, bright and fun. And its about a product that most of our readers will have seen in cafes across the country. I found the story behind a product I’d seen and tasted before I knew it really surprising (I say that a lot about stories we cover). And like a lot of the stories we cover, its international, being set in different places - New Zealand and Sierra Leone in this case.
What are you finding most frustrating about your work this week?
A lot probably! Fitting in time to speak to people I’d like to write about and sitting down to write are things that I find most frustrating and will so again this week. I got into the magazine business to write articles for magazines and I don’t spend as much time doing that as I’d like.
What’s going to be the highlight of this week for you?
Seeing Issue two of Ethos come together in mockups is going to be great and sitting down with the team to review progress on it. I’ve also got a couple of calls for stories I’m working on planned and I’m very excited for those.
We’ve also recently sent out copies of a special edition newspaper about community business (above) which we’ve been working on and I’m excited to get feedback on that this week.
What will you be doing after this chat?
I’ll plug in my earbuds and start transcribing an interview for a piece I’m writing for issue two.
Editor: Lucy Chesters
Designer: Nicholas Dawes