Advice to my younger self...Media Week Alumni

From Media Week's founders through to its current day editor, the magazine brand's alumni offer advice to their younger selves as part of its 30 year celebrations.

John Thater, co-founder and publisher, 1985-1991 (now: owner, Thatermedia)

Never underestimate the commercial survival instincts of traditional media. TV didn’t kill radio, so the internet won’t kill newspapers and magazines – just shake them up a bit.


Tim Brooks, founding editor, 1985-1987 (now: chief executive, BMJ; member of the Cabinet Office Digital Advisory Board)

It’s always better to ask people what they want than to guess; they will tell you. Not everyone is as honest and trustworthy as you. It’ll all be all right.


Duncan Edwards, sales executive, 1985-1989 (now: president and chief executive, Hearst Magazines International)

If I met my 21-year-old self, I would suggest that it is not necessary to go to every single party and eat and drink everything that you are offered. In fact, come to think of it, I am sure I was given that advice, which I quite rightly ignored – these are concepts that are grown into. You’ve joined an amazing industry full of creative and fun people where success is highly meritocratic and opportunities are everywhere. You won’t believe the changes that are coming over the next 30 years but, if you are curious and up for an adventure, you can have a hell of a ride.


Neil Thackray, chief executive, 1991-1996 (now: chief executive, Briefing Media)

Things don’t matter as much as you think. Your competitors have good ideas too. Teams win. Take a chance.


Colin Morrison, chief executive, 2001-2005 (now: chairman, Globelynx and Skips Educational)

Don’t accept that yesterday’s demise is a certain precursor for tomorrow’s collapse. Don’t be dazzled by the digital technology. Understand it. Exploit it.


Richard Abbott, features editor, 2002-2005 (now: account director, Cicada Communications)

Never invite Kelvin MacKenzie to be your guest editor. Hilarious but messy. Never, ever plan to have a "quiet one" at the Media Week Awards. It’s just not going to happen.


Mark Banham, reporter, 2003-2005; deputy editor, 2012-13

Never be afraid to take the leap to start up on your own. No-one will push you – you have to do it yourself. You are more creative than you think.


Tim Burrowes, editor, 2002-2005 (now: content director, Focal Attractions; founder, Mumbrella)

Listen to Kevin Brown – he’ll teach you lessons in how media planning works that will stay with you for your whole career. Take that breakfast with Mark Holden – a decade later, on the other side of the world, he’ll help you think of the name for your own website. Meet John Harlow while he’s at his brilliant best – he’ll be gone too soon. And whenever you meet anyone who used to work at BMP, remember that they’ll be able to teach you something.


Kevin Costello, chief executive, 2010-

Work hard and play hard. Enjoy yourself because this stage of your life will go past in a flash. Have faith and confidence in your own ability. Don’t be intimidated by anyone. Stay true to your values and don’t waste time behaving like somebody you’re not. Oh, and lose that appalling footballer’s 80s haircut. Save the hairstyle – it’s the same advice I give to my two daughters who are studying at university. It worked for me and I hope it works for them.


Philip Smith, editor, 2005-2006 (now: content director, Quill)

Believe it or not, some media clichés are powerful. Some even come true. Content is king was the cliché of the day in 2005 and, if anything is still king in 2015, it’s content.


Steve Barrett, editor, 2006-2009 (now: editor-in-chief, PRWeek US)

Head abroad and experience another country and culture much, much earlier. Working abroad widens horizons, enriches your skillsets and is just plain good fun. You should also learn a second language – plump for Spanish or Mandarin.


Emma Barnett, senior reporter, 2007-2009 (now: women’s editor, Telegraph; BBC 5 Live presenter)

Amp it up. You will never be as young as you are right now. Your energy levels will never be higher either. 


Jeremy King, editor, 2012-2013 (now: content director, C Squared)

I strongly advise against heading into PR after 16 years in journalism, and make sure you invest in a couple of e-commerce start-ups like Alibaba.


Arif Durani, editor, 2013-2015

Be fearless and fair. Generally speaking, it really is better to seek forgiveness than ask for permission. Everyone has different strengths so play to yours while being generous to those around you. You’ll be busy, so make time to tell your family how much they mean to you. It’s a fantastic business – enjoy the ride.