MediaVillage's Insider InSites podcast on Media, Marketing and Advertising
Jack Myers on The Future of Men and Media
Jan 1, 2018 · 31 min
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E.B. Moss: I'm E.B. Moss, managing editor of MediaVillage, and this is episode lucky 11 because I'm here with my boss: I'm lucky to work with the erudite and elegant media ecologist, Jack Myers.

E.B. Moss: Welcome to, well, your Insider InSites!

Jack Myers: Congratulations on such a successful podcast and for taking MediaVillage in to a whole new audio domain.

E.B. Moss: To those listening, it might've sounded like I was trying to flatter you, but when you hear a little bit more from Jack -- the founder of MediaVillage -- you'll understand my appreciation. So, let's get some insights....

E.B. Moss: Let me read more of your bio: “Jack Myers is an author, media ecologist, and visionary whose years of leadership in the media industry has garnered immense respect and admiration. Jack has studied, reported and consulted on the impact of technological advances on culture, society, business, education, politics, entertainment, and relationships. He's produced multiple award-winning films and has become a leading expert and speaker on a societal transformation being driven by technology and led by a post-millennial generation that he considers to be the next great generation.”

Wow, Jack. I have known you for maybe half of those many years in the industry, and I know you've done even more than that. You've even authored five books. Let's talk about one of those books that's getting a lot of press now. And not just MediaVillage press, although we definitely give you some props there. The book is called The Future of Men. That, in and of itself, is an intriguing title, but can you first fill in some of the blanks about your personal history?

Jack Myers: Well, you know, I did not have a television in my home until I was seven years old. My parents really didn't believe in TV; they believed in reading, but they also had a radio, which I remember as being a really big floor model radio. I actually remember sitting there as a kid and listening to radio programs and being completely engaged, and it came alive. But then, as soon as that television came in to the home, the mistake my parents made was putting it in their bedroom, which meant that I was in their bedroom far more than I should've been. I binge watched. I just became passionate about television. I loved it. I loved everything about it. I would watch it from first thing in the morning until I went to school, and then when I came home, it'd go on.

And it still does. I still love television, and when I went to Syracuse, I majored in radio/television. I wanted to be a disc jockey or an announcer. I wanted to do documentaries. I produced a few documentaries, which I'm very proud of; nominated for an Academy Award as best documentary in 1996 for Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream.

E.B. Moss: Oh, your other passion, which I know. Baseball.

Jack Myers: Yeah, baseball. I partnered with Denzel Washington on that, and Hank Aaron, of course, and Turner Broadcasting. And I still have a passion for making documentaries, but in a lot of ways that passion has segued over to a lot of the work I do now in the area of diversity and the focus on young men and protecting ... protecting is the wrong word... defending them, in terms of helping them make the transition from a very feminist society in which they've quite comfortably grown up, to a society in the workplace where we're now seeing the reaction to the realities of the negative patriarchy that are now coming to the forefront, and appropriately so.

E.B. Moss: Yes. So, let me actually read one more written piece, here. This is from the intro of The Future of Men. Just these couple of sentences to me, I think, are very telling about what you can glean from this book: "The last generation of traditional males is now in their late 20s. The first wave of internet natives is just entering their adult years, heralding a new age of gender relationships that have different role models, a history born with the internet, and new guidelines for behavior."

Jack Myers: That was written almost two years ago, just before the book was published. It's a very honest and forthright book about the realities of the negative patriarchy and the challenges that women have been confronting for decades, if not centuries, of a culture that has really permeated society of male dominance...whether that dominance is financial, regulatory or physical. Like Chapter Five - "Deny, Deny, Deny: Men's Destructive Instinct To Lie." Women are appropriately fighting back and rebelling, and it's overdue in a lot of ways. The book was published a year and a half ago so we've added a new subtitle: The Future of Men: Men on Trial, because men are on trial and many men are being found guilty.

In my first chapter ["Men: Are Even the Good Ones Bad?"], I point out that, in many ways, there are very few men - when you go from that generation that's older than 27, 28 - who aren't guilty of objectification, of misogyny, of sexism. Because it has been a part of the culture, and in too many instances, that has gone overboard into harassment and rape and a culture that's also been accepted in society that has held the women responsible. We are in the midst of an appropriate backlash against that that I think is going to continue. 

But my focus in the book and in my conversations are to make sure that we recognize there is this younger generation of men who have grown up in a feminist society, in households where more than 50% of them grew up in homes where their mothers were either single moms or primary wage-earners or equal wage-earners in the home. And that's a growing percentage ...where their teachers are 80% women, where their classmates are 60% female. That's what they're comfortable with, and they -- for the large part -- should not be held guilty or responsible for the sins of their fathers or their older brothers or their grandfathers. So, we need to make sure we have systems, organizations, processes in place that support them just as the women's movement has put systems, organizations and processes in place to support women. Other cultural groups have support groups; the young men do not have an organized support group unless it's an angry men's group, and that's the danger we're facing today.

E.B. Moss: It's interesting because, as I've said, I've known you for quite a few years and I know you to have your finger on the pulse. I'm very interested in how this area of interest came about. I suspect that some of it was through your renown research and some of your marketplace assessments of what was going on in the media industry. But I also know personally -- we were talking about this the other day -- that 20 years ago, you built in for anyone who worked with you some guidelines about what to do if you're feeling uncomfortable in the work environment. Jack, I guess this has been a thing for you for a long time. How did this first come to light for you?

Jack Myers: I'm asking that question myself all the time. I'm sure it goes back to something in my childhood, but no matter how much therapy I do, I can only go so deep. But realistically, the focus on men and the focus on diversity, the focus on recognition of equality -- whether it be pay equality, women's equality in the workplace, at home -- was really inborn because my mother started working when I was two years old. Got her bachelor's degree and then her master's degree - going nights at the school when I was young. She became, as a civilian, a senior accountant in the Air Force and was doing computer programming in the Air Force in the 1980s and 90s, and became one of the lead computer programmers. And I never really saw my father as necessarily a role model until I wrote the book on the Future Of Men and realized that he was doing housework. He was always supportive of my mom. We always had a different kind of home than my friends growing up, and I didn't realize how different it was. So a lot of these passions are inborn.

In terms of the evolution, it came from my passion and interest in looking at the impact of technology on society, culture and business, and several years ago thinking we should really be looking at this first generation to grow up with the internet and mobile, born '95 and after. Those are the younger Millennials; they're a bridge generation between the Millennials and what we now call Gen Z. Then I began researching Gen Z, who are now 22 and younger, who are really on steroids: taking the best qualities of the younger millennials, and they're now exhibiting many of those qualities. And looking at what impact they were having, who they were, what they were like, how media impacted on them, what their influences were and are, and studying them and realizing that it's a female-dominant, female-led generation that's increasing. Then, getting questions: “Well, what's happening to the men? Why are the men underperforming? Why do we have lean out generation of young men and a lean in generation of young women?” ...and wanting to answer some of those questions.

E.B. Moss: You've also mentored and done your part to help other women along. My recent podcast was with Arlene Manos, and I know that you gave her a pretty significant boost in her career. The two of you forged new ground together. Talk to me about how you hire and what you look for in men or women.

Jack Myers: That's a really difficult question, 'cause there's no clear answer to it. I don't look for any particular qualities. I look at the person and I've not always been right in my choices and selections. I've found, more often than not, the women have outperformed my expectations. In many instances, men who I've hired have underperformed in my expectations. But there's also been the flip of that, so I really don't have a set hiring formula or strategy. I think I look foremost at their interrelationships with others, and how they're perceived, and what their passions are, and see where the passions connect with the interests that they'll have in their job. And, to try to make them make sure that intersection between their passions and their careers are ... I'm able to help bring those together.

E.B. Moss: Yes, I've actually seen that in action. I've seen you support interns, the fellows that you've brought in through the IRTS and their foundation, and even with hiring some -- as you call them -- "first fivers," for the first five years in the media industry. I've seen you throw them in the deep end and help them swim, so it's a great approach. We've talked about The Future of Men, so is there hope, Jack?

Jack Myers: There's great hope for this next generation of young men and for future generations if we pay attention to them right now. This is the moment in time when media and others are so heavily focused on the problems of the older generations of men. The challenges, the outings. The media loves the negatives. Well, let's start focusing on the positives, 'cause this next generation of young men who are just in college, coming out of college, coming out of high school, looking at their future are very confused. They're very conflicted by the mixed messages they're getting of what is a real man and the strength and being the authority, being the provider versus the new definitions of men. Being more authentic, being more emotionally open, being more vulnerable. And they're confronted by a society that's not embracing men in general right now, and they're saying, "Wait a second. This is not me." But yet a lot of those realities are being foisted upon them as well. So we have to start focusing on this next generation. If we do that, then yes, there's a lot of hope for young people. Not just young men.

[Young people] don't look at male/female. They look at a spectrum of gender, and they're not looking at the differences between men and women because they've grown up in a culture where those differences have been crossed over. Those lines are being crossed over uniformly. If we start saying, "Men over here, women over here" ... 90 plus percent of all corporations have women's groups. The young men come in and they say, "What about me?" The young women come in and they say, "Wait a second. We've been together in high school and college. Why are you taking the women over here and saying we get special treatment?" I'm not saying take that away, and nor am I saying, "Create groups for men." I'm saying the women's groups that have built the structures and organization need to start becoming gender-neutral, themselves, and stop looking at "Women, over here. Men, sorry." It needs to be, "What can we do to build a better workforce and a better culture within our organization and recognize that we can learn from the young people who look at themselves as one, and not male/female."

E.B. Moss: Yes, and so the words "better culture" and the environment overall seem to be really key right now. That's where the needle is so far to the right as we try to course correct. Hopefully we'll find our true north -- our center -- where that environment does treat people equally and does give all people a voice.

Jack Myers: E.B., I'm afraid we're a couple decades away of having that nirvana, but I do think that what's happening today in society and business ... In many ways, I think we're just beginning to see the negative output that has resulted from the harassment that's taken place over the last decades and forever. It's going to continue and it's going to get worse. More and more men are going to be exposed, rightfully so.

I think that's going to create a lot of opportunities and openings for women to move in to more senior roles. And they are staying in their careers longer because they are being well-paid. They are primary wage-earners more and more. There are more and more single moms. But I do think we have to take responsibility for making sure that the stay-at-home dads are not considered out-of-work dads but are also honored and respected.

15 years ago, I said we're at the beginning of a major transformation that the internet is bringing on us. I think we're only about halfway through that. We have another 15, 20 years to go.

E.B. Moss: When the whole Harvey Weinstein scandal was just breaking, you wrote a terrific piece in MediaVillage. It was sad and terrific, but you said the same thing then - that many, many more dominoes are about to fall. You called it, yeah.

Jack Myers: I think we're, again, they're going to continue to fall. We need to begin bringing more and more solutions in to the conversation-

E.B. Moss: Not just finger pointing.

Jack Myers: ... and also highlight those men and women who are doing positive things for-

E.B. Moss: So, replace the role models?

Jack Myers: Replace the role models.

E.B. Moss: Got it.

Jack Myers: And that's why I've created Advancing Diversity - to honor those organizations, people and companies that are doing good things.

E.B. Moss: Well, thank you for teeing that up. Let's talk about Advancing Diversity, because I know beyond just your words you're actually taking action. You're honoring people coming up at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. Tell us about that.

Jack Myers: Well, that's the beginning. The Advancing Diversity Honors, the Diversity Hall of Honors induction taking place at CES is the beginning of what I hope and expect will be a long-term focus and initiative in the industry on the positives and what is being done positively to provide best practices, to create recognition that there is a strong business model for advancing diversity in organizations and making organizations look more like society.

And diversity is not just gender. It's not just culture. Ernst & Young has a Neurodiversity initiative that brings autistic people in and gives them a meaning and an opportunity because they are very good at certain things in data and analytics. There's diversity of experience; there's diversity by bringing people in from community colleges as opposed to the four-year schools --even people who have chosen not to go to college and have certain types of experience.

We're expanding out the depth and breadth of diversity, and I think when we go in to a lot of the tech companies, we criticize them appropriately for lack of gender diversity, lack of pay equality, lack of cultural diversity, but yet you walk their halls and you see a myriad of different ... You see goth, you see people with purple hair...

E.B. Moss: ...So, cultural inclusion.

Jack Myers: Yeah, so inclusion takes many forms, shapes. Our goal is to really create an organization that identifies, recognizes and honors those individuals who are taking positive steps to support diversity. And we're going to be expanding that out pretty dramatically not just across the diversity spectrum, but in focusing on young people and our 1st Five. Focusing out with our Legends & Leaders organization on those who are either retired or not able to find work and honor their experience and connect the generations, because there's value to learn and teach at both ends of the spectrum.

E.B. Moss: Like the De Niro film, The Intern. I think we could all learn from that.

Jack Myers: That's exactly right. And there are a lot of other films out there that I think we can look back at that will be done and are being done about our culture that we'll look at and say, "Oh, my God, do you believe that they could even make that movie?" Then we'll look back at other films and say, "Oh, my God, they really had their finger on the pulse of things."

E.B. Moss: Yes. So it's nice to see the evolution, because I've seen how you have focused on supporting young people. How you've focused on supporting women, how you're instructive and try to be a role model to men. I think your wife is amazing, and she must really appreciate you. You've even spoken at TEDWomen, so you have all of that evolution-

Jack Myers: Well, and my wife, Ronda Carnegie, was a co-founder of TEDWomen and spent many years at TED building that organization. Her co-founder of TEDWomen, Pat Mitchell, was my co-producer on Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream when she was at Turner Broadcasting.

E.B. Moss: Oh, I see how this works. Got it. Powerful women support you.

Jack Myers: But my application to speak at TEDWomen was a blind application. They were not in the decision-making process...

E.B. Moss: Did she at least coach you a little?

Jack Myers: She did.

E.B. Moss: Well, I want to spend just the last few minutes ... We've talked again about The Future of Men, we've talked about hopefully our future as a society. Let's talk a little bit about the future of media. Clearly, those are your core chops where you are best known. Now that we're entering 2018, which I can't believe, where do we see the media world going, Jack? And I know that you don't exactly rely on a crystal ball; you're pretty smart, but you also have a history of research and marketplace assessment. So, between that and all the people you know and your insights, what can you tell us?

Jack Myers: Well, E.B., as you know, I started working on the concept of MediaVillage ... It was 2002. It was very early and Ed Martin was involved...

E.B. Moss: Our Editor.

Jack Myers: ...Our editor. And Maryann Teller, who's our Chief Administrative Officer at MediaVillage, was involved. But MediaVillage does, in many ways, reflect what I believe is the future of media, which is as data and analytics become more and more prominent, as the business of media buying/selling/planning moves more and more toward programmatic and toward automated models, as we move more in to the internet, more in to digital, and we move further and further away from relationships, maintaining the village -- the media village -- will really be the solution for a lot of companies to maintain their relationships.

So, the idea of MediaVillage was to give everyone in the industry an equal opportunity to have a voice and to have a voice of thought leadership. Not just to have a voice of what are their numbers, what does the data say, but what do they think? What do they feel? What are their realities? What are the opportunities? And to put it in a context where they each control their own environment, but yet they're a part of a village. So I look at MediaVillage as a community. And at the center of the community is a town square, and in that town square is our [journalists] like you - You're in the town square. Stuart Elliott's in the town square. Charlene Weisler, Simon Applebaum, Brian Jacobs, Bill Harvey. Our thought leaders, and then their homes. ABC has its own home. YouTube has its home. Every company has its home. And in that home is where their executives and their others can share their thoughts and then we, at MediaVillage, can spread their thoughts out to the rest of the community and all the other homes. So GroupM, and Mindshare, and Omnicom, and IPG, and Publicis have their homes within MediaVillage.

It's the place where the industry can connect on thinking, on thought, on ideas, on creativity, and on relationships. We then pull them together into different events and communities and activities. So, I believe that the biggest challenge we have in terms of our future is that we become so data-centric and so analytic and algorithmic in our focus that we lose sight of what's really built our community, which is relationships.

E.B. Moss: So, we have to humanize, we have to add personality to every media brand, let's say, and sounds like we have to be one to one at scale in a way. Yes?

Jack Myers: Yeah. One to one at scale and I also think everyone wants to be a part of our community or any community needs to have a voice, and they need that voice to be amplified. That's what we do at MediaVillage.

And we do a lot of research to help them understand what the perceptions are. We look at MediaVillage as being a perceptions engine.

What I've discovered through this process is almost every major industry spends a tremendous amount of money on self-awareness...on market research both in the consumer and in their B2B community. Almost every other industry spends a tremendous amount invested in thought leadership content and communicating their executive point of view, whether it's through social media or through long form communication. Then they spend a lot on advertising to get that message out there. Well, the advertising part of it has collapsed because B2B media has declined at a rate faster than newspapers. The opportunities for community through conferences ... It's like the old Yogi Berra line. "No one goes there anymore." It's too crowded. Talking about CES, of course. Then on the research side, our industry incredibly under-invests on the B2B side.

B2B needs to be reinvented, and that's what we've done at MediaVillage. We've reinvented B2B, and I believe the model we've created at MediaVillage will be expanded out to many other industries. We've put the market research and insights, together with the content strategy, together with the content creation, which you lead, E.B.. Then what our real secret sauce is is the actual village that we've built where each of our member companies has their own home, their own place where their thought leadership is archived, centered, and becomes a destination.

E.B. Moss: Last question, Jack. Do you think that we are contraction-proof? How's the industry going to fare with all of this consolidation?

Jack Myers: No one is contraction-proof. The expansion that's happened over the last two decades is slowing. The consolidation with Scripps and Discovery, the consolidation with Fox and Disney, and the consolidation in the adtech and mar-tech side, we're going to go from about 15,000 companies down to about 500 in the next decade.

E.B. Moss: Wow.

Jack Myers: Of those 500, about 50 will actually be meaningful and relevant to the industry. So, the winners and losers from the VC side are going to be significant and challenging over the next several years. Picking the winners and the losers on the martech and adtech side is going to be a really interesting process.

And of course, Google, Facebook, Amazon are the three-legged stool that is supporting the industry. When you look at those three companies, almost individually they equal or surpass the combined value of Disney/ABC, of Fox, of CBS, of NBCU/Comcast ... So the legacy media players and the digital media players are going to have to have some kind of reckoning on Wall Street in terms of where the power really is, and what the value of the legacy media distribution models are...and which are working, and which are not in the future.

E.B. Moss: Well, a couple of years ago, when you first invited me to write for you and last year when you gave me this position, you said, "Hitch your wagon to this star. We're going places." I think that I picked the man who knows how to pick the winners. So if we're going through that consolidation, Jack Myers, I'm sticking with you. Thank you for joining me today on your podcast for MediaVillage.

Jack Myers: And if I can get the last word, the colleagues that you work with, here, at MediaVillage are really a small and very exceptional and hardworking team. It's really you and they who are driving it forward now. I just step back and watch with joy and pleasure and excitement.

E.B. Moss: Aww, this is why he's a great boss, too. Thank you, Jack Myers.

Jack Myers: Thank you, E.B.

 

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