A Top 20 USA Business & Marketing Podcast
Josh Ellis - Editor-In-Chief of Success Magazine

July 06, 2021

Josh Ellis - Editor-In-Chief of Success Magazine
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Welcome to this week’s episode on The Radcast! Get ready for Josh Ellis, the Editor-In-Chief of SUCCESS magazine.

Welcome to this week’s episode on The Radcast! Get ready for Josh Ellis, the Editor-In-Chief of SUCCESS magazine.

In this episode on The Radcast, host Ryan Alford talks with guest Josh Ellis about the definition of success, how it has changed dramatically in the modern social media-driven world we live in, and shares professional highlights of his career at SUCCESS and more.

Josh also has a quick take on RAD or FAD trending topics;

  1. Online Coaches
  2. Clubhouse and/or "Social Audio"
  3. TikTok for Mainstream
  4. Zoom Call's
  5. Seltzer Beers

To learn more about Josh Ellis, follow him on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/ajoshellis) and Instagram (@ajoshellis). Get the magazine updates (https://www.linkedin.com/company/success-magazine/)

If you enjoyed this episode of The Radcast, let us know by visiting our website www.theradcast.com or leave us a review on Apple Podcast. Be sure to keep up with all that’s radical from @ryanalford @radical_results @the.rad.cast


Josh Ellis [ ] It’s a high stress, pressure filled, there is no safety net. When I was younger, I thought people with a lot of money were successful.

Ryan Alford [ ] And finally, Seltzer Beers?

Josh Ellis [ ] RAD. I don’t think we need fewer types of alcohol, we need more!

It has to start somewhere. It has to start sometime. What better place than here? What better time than now?”

“You’re listening to The Radcast. If it’s Radical, we cover it. Here’s your host, Ryan Alford.” 

Ryan Alford [00:00:22] Hey guys, what's up? It's Ryan Alford. Welcome to the latest edition of the Radcast. We're getting radical today. We've got the editor in chief Josh Ellis, from Success magazine. What's up, Josh? Welcome to the show.  

Josh Ellis [00:00:53] Ryan. Glad to be here. Thanks for having me. 

Ryan Alford [00:00:54] Yeah man. Hey, I think everyone that listens to the Radcast is all chasing the same thing. I think we're all chasing success every day. So I'm just glad we can talk about the magazine and what you guys have going on. And maybe; do you have the formula for success? Are we going to get down to the absolute magic formula for success today? Can we promise that yet? 

Josh Ellis [00:01:18] That's right. I'm the only person that has it and I did it. And we're going to be selling it. We’re bottling up and selling it 

Ryan Alford [00:01:26] B minus four squared times hustle equals some form of success. 

Josh Ellis [00:01:34] You've been looking at my notes. 

Ryan Alford [00:01:36] Uh, I did. Well cool man. I know you're the editor in chief at Success and you've done some things with the Cowboys and TV. We talked, pretty upset a little bit about your old Miss SECC Guy. But let's tell everybody that doesn't know Josh Ellis personally, a little bit about your background, what brought you ultimately to Success magazine and where things are at today. 

Josh Ellis [00:02:05] You know what?  When I was a kid, I was a pretty good writer and I owe that to a fantasy wrestling form that I stumbled upon in sixth grade, where we would do; now it's very clearly nerd stuff, but back then it seemed pretty cool to me, where we would do full play, and you would type and you'd write out a wrestler to distract the other pretend wrestlers. And so I wrote a lot as a kid, and I'm thankful that those haven't been saved anywhere on the Internet. So just being your average teenage boy, I wrote about my interests and so I wrote about football and wrestling and stupid stuff and the opportunity came along when I was looking for a job as a 16-year-old. My first one was to haul SECC around. It was very heavy and it was very hot in East Texas where I grew up, and that sucked. Then came along the opportunity to write for the local newspaper, covering the junior varsity volleyball games and soccer and stuff that the actual professionals didn't want to bother with and so I got even more writing experience and I decided that I wanted to go into sports writing. So I went to college for journalism with the full intention of being a sports writer and I did it. You mentioned writing for the Cowboys, which was my first gig out of school, and after a few years, I just kind of felt like what I was writing about was trivial and there wasn't much room for me to grow when you're writing the injury report most days and talking about how they blew a fourth-quarter lead or fell apart in December again, and so I started looking for ways to grow as a person through my work, but then also professionally. Success happened to be in North Texas and happened to have an editing position. I applied and I got it. I was very lucky I got to evolve and develop as an editor to become the editor-in-chief back in twenty fifteen and I’ve been enjoying that ever since. 

Ryan Alford [00:04:42] I love it, man. People rarely follow their passion as it seems like more and more people don't know what they want to be when they grow up, but to be writing at such a young age and following that passion and it ultimately leading to a career, is cool. And I think I was probably one of the rare people that was a marketing major in school and went into marketing. So it's kind of relatable on some level. I knew I liked you when you started talking about wrestling. I remember coming off the top rope of my parent's couch when I was eight years old, big elbow drops, pretending I was the macho man or something. 

Josh Ellis1 [00:05:23] I was an only child, so we just had a duffel bag filled with old clothes. And I did so many powerbombs, chokeslams, leg drops, and northern lights suplex, I can go all day with the moves. 

Ryan Alford [00:05:38] Who was your favorite wrestler when you were a kid? 

Josh Ellis [00:05:43] It's so embarrassing to say, but he's still going now, Chris Jericho. 

Ryan Alford [00:05:47] Oh, yes, he played a lot of different characters, started like WCW days and he made his hay in the WWF now WWE. I never quite got over the acronym change there, but understood it. World Wildlife Fund went to worldwide entertainment, but 

Josh Ellis [00:06:11] As an adult, I have a much better appreciation for how hard of a job those guys have and what athletes and entertainers they are. 

Ryan Alford [00:06:20] what it's like writing right out of college, writing for the Dallas Cowboys? I know on paper it may sound sexier than what it was having been in this industry; I did some work with the Cowboys myself in 2008, with Verizon in the NFL and all that agreed. Any fond memories from riding with them or was it as sexy as it sounded or unsexy. 

Josh Ellis [00:06:48] It was a cool job. The pay sucked. I made starvation wages pretty much, which is when you work in professional sports is like; yeah, you have to work hard, but we could get anyone to do it because a lot of people do think it's sexy. And it was fun. It was a fun job. I got to travel. I got to talk about football for a living. And a lot of people would want to do that. And I have no regrets about it. The best thing that it did for me was it made me comfortable around lots of people. And, as a kid growing up in Texas, the Dallas Cowboys are like this huge thing and their players and their ownership and coaches and the front offices, these are like huge celebrities. And so when I got there as an intern at like 20 years old, I drew Bledsoe with that spot in the hallway and my knees would tremble. And then over several years of working around famous people, rich people, newsmakers, what have you, I just got comfortable. And so in my job today, I get to interview a lot of influential people and people who have extremely high net worth or have done impressive things and are intimidated. I'm more comfortable around them. And that's everything that it did for me and kind of taught me to just see everybody as a person, one to one, see the same personal problems that we all have and foibles and what have you. 

Ryan Alford [00:08:44] I mean, you wrote for America's team and now you're writing for America's version of what we define as success and entrepreneurship and all of those things. You went there a little bit and it's interesting to hear you talk about the net worth and the celebrities and being around people and how they have the same problems. I had Tim's story on the podcast. It hasn't been released yet who's the life coach of the stars and Oprah Winfrey's coach and Quincy Jones and all the people you talked about that very thing. And it's hey, we all have to put our pants on in the morning and we all have the issues. I think once you realize there's human nature to all of us, some of that starts to fall. Talk about Success and the journey. I believe in the last year the magazine was sold but maybe talk about the evolution of the magazine and some of your favorite moments writing with the publication. 

Josh Ellis [00:09:52] Well, Success was founded in 1897. So if anybody is not familiar with it, it's just we're too new. We need a chance to break through. Twenty, twenty-two will be one hundred and twenty-fifth years of the magazine in and out of publication several times over the years. Different ownership groups, defunct heir bought back their title, change here and there. The history goes back to 1897. It was founded by this guy, Orison Swett Marden, who was like a preacher philosopher. At that time, the general philosophical idea was that our fate was decided by the creator, there was very little utility and trying to improve our circumstances. He disagreed with that. The magazine has always been for a person who wants to take control of their destiny, their finances, and their future and that is what it is still today. Over the years, it has become a magazine for entrepreneurs and leaders. Today, we see it more as a solo producer, like a real estate agent and an independent salesperson. Anyone who is self-reliant for their income and their outcomes. It's a magazine that is not just about business and growing income for the company. We have a lot of competitors who do that on the newsstand next to Fast Company Entrepreneur Inc. and Bloomberg Business. Those magazines are extremely valuable in what they do in helping companies grow. What we do is, help the individuals who run those companies grow first. The thinking is that, if you are a business owner, then you are most likely the most important person in your business. The better you are, the more you bring to the table and the better off your business will be. We help people grow in their leadership capacity, their understanding of how they do business, their sales and marketing strategies, and things like that. We help them as much as anything in some soft skills and intangibles, their happiness, their mental health, and their feelings of growth and purpose in what they do. That’s how we try to serve the reader and feel that it's really important. These entrepreneurs are the people who employ America and so it's a really important societal mission to keep those people running strong. 

Ryan Alford [00:13:05] It's interesting to hear you put that lens on it. Having read Fast Company, I’ve read Entrepreneur and I've read the last few issues of success and that really did encapsulate it for me and you spoke so eloquently. The difference because you read, even myself, I'm a solopreneur, I read and I'm in the industry, in marketing and business, so I read certainly with a more; educated might not be the right word, but the lens of it's my everyday job at Fast Company, but it's like, oh man, this is not adding a lot of value to the everyday small to the medium business owner, other than just high-level interest. But reading Success and reading the articles, the tips, and everything that goes into, again, nurturing, maybe that perspective in that mindset of the solopreneurs does separate Success from the others. 

Josh Ellis [00:14:14] It's those people like yourself, it's a high stress, pressure-filled existence where you have no safety net and in a lot of cases, people relying on you. It’s really important, we found, to provide something that those readers can know that they're going to get something good from. They're going to grow in some way when they open the magazine and give us ten minutes or two hours to read it. It's as much as anything and hopefully, it lifts them. Hopefully, it's motivational and inspirational. You see other stories in the magazine that you can have some take away from. Also, there's humanity in the magazine and I hope that people can see that there are others like them who are going through it too and to see their potential in their capacity to reach the next level, whatever it is, whatever goal they're after, they've got it in them. 

Ryan Alford  [00:15:40] Having written for 8 to 10 years with the magazine and publication; has it changed your definition of success? or I'm sure it's molded in a lot of ways, speaking with the level and the quality of the people that you get to speak with. But has it summarized or I guess I'm getting back to that magic formula, but more in a realistic lens, for you for now, how do you define, not just for yourself, but in general, does it bring it all into crystal form, like what success is? 

Josh Ellis [00:16:26] When I was a younger person, what I viewed as successful was people that had a lot of money. I came from a lower-middle-class, so I just thought getting ahead and having a good life for me is going to be, being more comfortable. I do make a lot more money than I did when I got here and still have problems. My life is better because of the people that I have around me, not my higher salary or the difference in my lifestyle. I think that what it's taught me is that you can make a lot of money, unhealthy and not in good enough shape to play with your kid or you can. I have viewed successes over the last few years like four basic temples and I ran through a little bit earlier, happiness, health, growth, and purpose. You can be in really good shape on the counter side of that, but still, be depressed. There's an alignment with the things that. And the same token… If your passion in life is surfing and all you want to do all day is surf.  You don't care that you live in an efficient apartment and all it takes to afford that lifestyle is to give two hours of surfing lessons a day and then you could surf for the rest of the day. If that's success for you, then it's for nobody else to define it for you. That's all that you need and that's all that matters. As I've gotten older and matured and been around a lot of people who define success for themselves. You're up to us individually to determine what we're after. 

Ryan Alford [00:18:42] Well put, HHGP, we're going to have that in the show notes, health, happiness, growth and the P was the purpose. There we go. I love that, we're going to create something around that.  Social media has been a blessing. I don't want to call it a curse. It's the foundation of my life in some ways with our business, with what we do. So I don't call it a curse. Not for myself. But, you know, we all know the pluses and minuses of social media and the lens that it puts success on like you said, money and cars and Lambos and all these things. Has it had an impact that you've seen? And obviously, social media's been around for 15 plus years now in a mainstream way. But has it impacted the magazine's view and lens with which the stories that you tell for success more specifically? 

Josh Ellis [00:19:45] Yes, because as I mentioned, our readership, we sort of define solopreneurs. Those people need to market themselves and build a community or a sphere of influence, whatever you want to call it and social media is the primary way that we do it today. If I'm looking for a life coach and you don't have Instagram or Twitter or Facebook where I can find something out about you, then I'm probably going to move on just because people do their homework these days and the new word of mouth is sharing posts, things like that. That is how people grow businesses and gain influence. It is important to understand it and use it rather than be used by it. But I also think that as users and we all are at some capacity, we're not getting what we signed up for. I remember when Facebook came out and I was a freshman in college, I thought, this is great. What an awesome way to connect with my friends and have no strings attached! Are you kidding? How amazing and that wasn't the case. And we see it with all the other platforms these days as well, that not only are they just selling to us and marketing to us and selling us really to the advertisers, but in a lot of cases, they don't make us happier or more healthy mentally. They don't help with our feelings of growth or purpose. They just drag us down. And so actually, throughout the first half of this year, Success has been trying to do something about that, trying to improve it. 

Ryan Alford [00:21:39] Yes and I think you have transitioned perfectly because I wanted to get into what you guys are building. You guys are putting your money where your mouth or writing is, so to speak, and building a community for all of this to take place. I think you guys have naturally been doing this anyway with your content and all of the coaching and all of the things that Success does, you guys are all coming together here with the Achievers platform, Success Achievers community. It looks impressive so far. I started to play around with it and I'm going to get signed up. You just nailed some of the pitfalls and some of the detriments of what's been happening on some of the other platforms and there’s kind of a lack of that. The ability to transition from self-promotion or the commerce aspect of other social media, into the development portion that I think you guys are doing with Achievers, I'd love to hear more about what you guys are doing with that. 

Josh Ellis [00:22:56]. So Achievers is the platform. People can check it out at achievers.success.com or download the app Success Achievers Community. And like you said, it is meant to create the community that we were supposed to get on those other social networks. Instead, we got representations of who people are.  Achievers’ is a mentorship platform. Some people sign up, are there to find mentors, people who have had the experience in their field or their lifestyle or their interests and they're there to give mentorship to people who are a little bit early. So there's a give and a get and we don't collect anybody's data, there are no ads on the platform, it’s entirely a community. It's what we all expected and thought we were getting when we signed up for these other places. And it's so geared for the solopreneur or the entrepreneur or the person who's self-reliant for growth and that could be an entrepreneur in a company just trying to understand how to get ahead one way or another. But whatever your interests are, there's somebody in this community who you could learn from and they may post. You may need to ask them a question; you may need to seek them out. That's the idea to bring like-minded people together. The magazine, as I mentioned, has been around for a hundred, twenty-five years. We have websites, podcasts, and things like that. Now, evolving is a digital media company, but that's all one-directional content. We create it, push it out into the world and you absorb it. We think the future of media is these communities, hubs for the people who would be our readers would be our audience members to gather and serve one another and ask for the help that they need on-demand and just bring people together to create these positive collisions where they'll get actual value out of it, not just to place to neurotically doom scroll or to just waste time while sitting at a red light, but some actual good from it. 

Ryan Alford [00:25:39] Yeah and I heard you talk about this in an interview and we want to go completely down this path, that was the promise of LinkedIn on some level, at some point and it's turned quickly down the Facebook path, of content and individually trying to get our next job or our next opportunity and certainly, there's an educational aspect. I think what you guys are doing is nurturing and enriching in things that are improving the person, improving people, and bringing them together to share those experiences is the real differentiator. 

Josh Ellis [00:26:30] LinkedIn is a networking platform. We did not set this up to be anything like a competitor for LinkedIn. People are on LinkedIn nakedly trying to get ahead of themselves, create more startup businesses or find a job, whatever crafter. Achievers are for people to give of themselves. I think that in my experience, the jobs that I've gotten, the side gigs, speaking opportunities, so many of the good things that have come along in my life is because I gave with no expectation in return. And that's as much as anything that we're trying to create some love around, it is just to be the offering of ourselves on this platform and good things will come from that. People will see that we all individually have something to share. There is the potential for it to be huge for people if they use it the right way. We're still very early in the platform,  So we're paying a lot of attention to community management people that are on there that aren't using it in the right way. We'll let them go. We'll give you a nice, polite warning at first that this is not what the community is for and won't be shy about managing it to make sure that it's not abused. 

Ryan Alford [00:28:13] How are you guys attracting creators or coaches? Can you talk about any of the specifics around what people can expect in the way with which interactions take place or that kind of thing? 

Josh Ellis [00:28:32] I think it happens naturally to me as much as anything. The people that are aligned with that mission and see me doing an interview or see the new content we created to explain it. If it sounds like something that they're into, then they find us.  Achievers do not have to have three billion users like Facebook to be valuable to our audience and a useful platform for us and to serve our mission. I think that there's a domino effect to the kind of content we put out when it makes the audience better or the kind of content that exists and is shared naturally on Achievers’ when there are those positive collisions. Somebody comes away from it a little bit better, a little bit savvier, a little bit better leader from something that they learn from someone else there. Then I think, one; they're more likely to tell a friend or invite a friend to it, and two; there are just positive developments that come from paying it forward and in some way or another. Over time we are working on an affiliate program, where if you join our networks, then there could even be a financial incentive to it for you. We use achievers to find talent partners in this community, to find voices of people that we'll feature in the magazine and on our podcasts. So as much as anything, there's a chance to be seen and to give your voice away to our other platform. 

Ryan Alford [00:30:30] I love it. It makes a lot of sense. And go figure, a company paying it forward, a media company that is, I know purpose marketing is all the rage now, but from a media perspective, it seems you guys are starting from the right perspective. We’re getting towards the end and closing out here. Any personal highlights with SUCCESS or people that you've interviewed or done articles on or anyone you'd want to mention that may have surprised you or just highlights that stick out like one above the others or something that someone might be surprised to hear? 

Josh Ellis [00:31:22] I've interviewed a lot of people others consider real influencers in personal development and marketing. Life coach type people Tony Robbins and Mel Robbins and thought leader Simon Sinek, these types, and they have something to teach, of course, but I think if you ask the right questions, then everybody does through their own experience. Don't expect to get many perspectives from somebody if you just judge off of the thin version of a personality that you see on TV. Somebody like Guy Fieri has as many insightful and deep things to say as Tony Robbins if you know how to ask it if you can get him out of his comfort zone. I interviewed DJ Khalid last week, and at the beginning of it, he is very on-brand doing “We the best” and doing the whole shtick. Then by the end of it, he opens up and you can learn something from him.  I think what's interesting to me about my job is going deep with people to uncover the layers of the onion that can be insightful for our readers, successful people. They may not have identified the reasons for themselves that it is working out for them, but there's always something there deep down that allows them to get ahead or keep working harder, to come up with great ideas or to be a great partner for other people. So ask the right questions and it's there with just about everybody. 

Ryan Alford [00:33:24] Well, nothing warms my heart more than hearing you talk about Guy. I don't know what it is, but my wife and I watch every one of his shows and I think at first he's over the top, a little cheesy but then I've grown to like him, at least through the lens with which I get to watch his shows and everything. I'm like; “Oh, I like this guy”. So nothing warms my heart than to hear that he was breaking it down for you. 

Josh Ellis [00:33:53] He was on our cover several years ago and he's aware that people make fun of him. He doesn't care. He says; “This is me. I'm happy being me. I don't want to be the 80 percent of me that is more palatable to a wider audience. I want to be all of me”. He's happy with that and he gets to eat some awesome food and drive around in a convertible. How bad is that! 

 [00:34:18] Dude has life.  Literally on Friday nights; this is how boring I guess our lives have gotten. I’m going to open it up to our audience. It's cool, but just pretend it's not cool, Friday nights my family and I search for his show because there is so little television now that you can watch with your family now, which drives me crazy. I have kids under 10 and we would all watch Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, from like 7 to 10 p.m. every Friday. And I’m like; “Dude, this guy's got the life, he’s just munching on food, driving his convertible and being himself”. 

Josh Ellis1 [00:34:54] That is the person, that is the guy in the surf passage, right? Like other people are like these highly respected French chefs,  you wanted to be like him. And so that's a success. 

Ryan Alford [00:35:16] I love it. All right. You got time for our little Rad or Fad buzz words. I'm going to give you one topic and you can say one word with Rad or Fad or you can add a little context if you feel it's necessary. We allow either one for our guests. The first one is online. Coaches, RAD or FAD? 

Josh Ellis [00:35:45] RAD. I think that we could all stand to grow and we all need somebody to call us out on our BS, and sometimes people just like having another perspective of somebody who is not in our heads, someone who can tell us what we need to hear. And so I think it's good. 

Rick Alford [00:36:04] No. Two; clubhouse, and or social audio, RAD or FAD? 

Josh Ellis [00:36:13] RAD. Maybe in some future iteration where they could cut out the FAD and just present the gold, then maybe it'll work out, but I can't stand it. 

Ryan Alford [00:36:25] Ding, ding, ding, ding. Mark, I know a smart guy, when I meet him.  Tik Tok for the mainstream, RAD or FAD? 

Josh Ellis [00:36:35] I will say, RAD, it's not for me, but there are millions and millions of tens of millions of people younger than me who consume content like that. So I think it's not going away. RAD. 

Rick Alford [00:36:50] Yeah, agreed. Zoom calls? 

Josh Ellis [00:36:58] RAD. We work from home now and. Yeah, it seems futuristic to me, so I gotta love it 

Rick Alford [00:37:05] Yes, it is enabling a better life and potentially a different version of success for people. I agree. And finally, seltzer beers? 

Josh Ellis [00:37:18] RAD. OK, there's a big tent for happy hour. We don't need fewer types of alcohol, we need more. 

Rick Alford [00:37:28] All right. Very good. Well cool, Josh. I appreciate you coming on. I know you've mentioned it, but let's do it one more time for everyone listening to where to keep up with you, where to keep up with Success and how to find the Achievers community. 

Josh Ellis [00:37:45] Yeah, you can find the Achievers’ community @achievers.success.com or download the app from whatever app store at achievers.success.com. You can find me there. You can find the magazine on newsstands every other month. We've got a brand new issue that just hit in June. We’ll be back again with another new one in August and one every other month for another hundred and twenty-five years. 

Rick Alford [00:38:10] But we'll be around for it, I hear we're going to live to one hundred and fifty. According to some articles I read, I don't know, I might not make our generation. 

Josh Ellis [00:38:18] Beers are the key to that. 

Rick Alford [00:38:19] Yes, it is. Josh my brother, really appreciate you coming on. Hey, guys, you know where to keep up with us. We’re @the.rad.cast, on Instagram theradcast.com. And I'm @ryanalford on all the platforms. You could follow all of our content there. We appreciate you. We appreciate Josh from Success magazine. We'll see you next time on the Radcast.

Josh Ellis

Editor-In-Chief Of Success Magazine