Embracing Liminal Identity : Uncovering Hidden Diversity : Celebrating Cultural Mobility

SERIES part 2 of 3: Matt Minich’s home away from home

Matt Minich has been editing and writing content for more than 10 years now. Currently, he works as the editorial director for Shoulders of Giants. The company is a digital space with a selective team of journalists and coaches that fit the theme: anything outdoors-related. In addition to its journal, its online shop features a selection of tools, gear and merchandise from the most trusted brands. In an interview with the editorial director, Minich comments on the company’s focus and his experience with Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

The logo for Shoulders of Giants featured on their website.

Q: How did you get involved with Shoulders of Giants?

A: I co-founded a business six years ago called Bootprints, which was basically a network of email newsletters about outdoor sports and adventure. That company was purchased by Shoulders of Giants last summer, and I was hired on there and given an equity share as part of the acquisition.

Q: Where do your users spend the most time on your website? (prepare, outfit, experience?)

A: Definitely in our shop. Shoulders of Giants is an e-retailer above all. We produce a steady stream of new content to keep our audience engaged, but the real business is in selling stuff.

Q: In what areas of the company are you more focused on right now?

A: Right now, we’re trying to hone our focus. Shoulders of Giants has been an online-only business for the last year, but we are planning to open a retail location in Dallas and would like to focus in on our Dallas-area customer base. As a part of that sales push, I’m working with some writers and photographers to produce a whole bunch of adventure content about the southern central U.S.

Q: What would you like to see improve?

A: What I would really like to improve is our analytics. We have a general idea what sort of content and what types of products our audience responds to, but I think there are far more sophisticated tools out there that would allow us to know a lot more about our readers.

Q: How was the team at SoG selected?

A: Shoulders of Giants had a team in place when I was hired on, and I had some team members from Bootprints. Things sort of worked themselves out from there. A few members of the old SoG team weren’t great fits for the new direction, but we ended up with a strong core group.

Q: How do you reach your audience?

A: Email, mostly. We send out email blasts to about 200,000 readers. Email newsletters get maligned as being old-fashioned or clunky, but most people in the digital media sphere know they’re still one of the best tools for reaching a big audience.

Q: Would you say you are culturally fluid/mobile?

A: I’m not sure I’d say I’m totally culturally fluid. I lived in Colorado pretty much my whole life, so this last year of life in Puerto Rico has involved a pretty steep learning curve. I have found that in pretty much any circumstance it’s easier to fit in if you listen rather than talk.

Q: How is working remotely from Puerto Rico? Are you planning to live there long-term or just temporarily?

A: It’s fine. I’ve been working remotely for almost my entire career, so I’ve figured out how to deal with all the time management/self-discipline challenges that come with that. Working in Puerto Rico presents its own challenges because the island has a pretty shaky electrical grid. Obviously, that was a big deal after Hurricane Maria… that’s why we had to relocate to Colorado for two months.

Hurricane Maria was a Category 4 storm that hit Puerto Rico in late September of 2017 with over 15o mph winds. The people of Puerto Rico are still suffering the drastic consequences of the storm with little to no power or access to water. For more information about the hurricane from Matt Minich himself, click here.

Jude Del Hierro recently returned to Colorado after a trip to Puerto Rico through FEMA to provide water filters in areas with very little access.

“We drove around the island for six days, and only saw two power trucks working,” Minich said. “It was apparent the entire area is still in critical condition. We brought water filters, good for 100,000 gallons of water with the objective of getting it to the right people — the people who needed it most. The saddest part is, it felt like only a drop in the bucket. There is still so much more to do.”


The category four Hurricane Maria devastated the people of Puerto Rico late September 2017. Courtesy of Matt Minich.

 

 

Matt Minich pictured with his girlfriend. The two work remotely from their apartment in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Courtesy of Matt Minich.

Q: Can you describe a typical day for you and your partner? 

A: We both set our own hours (she’s an illustrator), so no one day is the same. But we spend a lot of time around our house just working at our respective desks. I’ll often take a break to go surf for an hour or two, or we’ll walk down to the beach. But all in all, we’re pretty much homebodies during the day.

Q: Where or what is home to you?

A: The Colorado mountains will always be home.

A: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be?

My apartment in San Juan! We’ve been away for two months now, and I’m ready to be back.

By: Alicia Bonilla

Alicia Bonilla is a Colorado native with a diverse ethnic background on both sides of her family. Bonilla has been involved in multiple organizations including Confluence Ministries and Young Life, serving as a mentor specifically geared toward minorities and inner city kids on a weekly basis. Bonilla has been fascinated with learning about other cultures since her experience with mission trips to developing countries and her study abroad experience in Europe. Her writing began as a personal passion, later igniting the desire to share with others around topics people from all corners of the world may find interest in. Bonilla enjoys recording her global experiences through personal journals and social media platforms.