Get to Know Team MR: Leslie, Editorial Director
After you get to know Leslie, meet our Graphic Designer, Emily Zirimis, our President, Kate Barnett, our Managing Editor, Elizabeth Tamkin, our Audio Engineer, Quazzy, the woman who founded this website, Leandra Medine, our Photographer, Krista Anna Lewis, our Senior Writer, Amelia Diamond, our Social Media Editor, Harling Ross, our Content Strategist, Yvonne Dunlevie, our Director/Filmmaker/Podcast host, Jay Buim, our Junior Editor, Haley Nahman, Director of Integrated Marketing, Patty Carnevale, Account Strategist Jasmin Aujla, and Director of Business Operations, Matt Little.
You’re the Editorial Director! What does that mean and what do you do?
Well. The quickest way to describe what I do would be to say I direct content and editorial strategy as well as manage our edit team. That sounds super boring, though, and totally vague! What I actually do on a day-to-day basis: edit incredibly funny and smart MR writers like Haley and Amelia and Leandra, discuss and refine pitches with freelancers (pitch me!), sit in meetings, talk in meetings, check our traffic tools constantly, check Slack constantly, check my email as infrequently as I can get away with, concoct editorial plans for things like the election or our new Facebook Live show, look at budgets, write meeting agendas, write to-do lists, oversee the day-to-day editorial calendar, make sure things go up on the site, look at the site, look at my RSS feed reader, remember I’m starving and order a sad salad from some place near our office, do interviews, and I’m sure there is more I am not thinking of right now. Oh, and wait for the bathroom to be free because this is an office full of women and someone is always peeing.
Where were you before this/doing what?
Before this I worked for Vox Media as the EIC of Racked, a site that I founded in 2007. Before that, I worked at Conde Nast (at Lucky magazine, RIP) and briefly at Time Inc. (at Stylefind, RIP). Before that, I was a food writer at Time Out New York Magazine. I started my career as an art writer at a quarterly, ARTINFO magazine, that is also defunct. The magazine industry just isn’t what it used to be…
What did you go to school for?
English lit with an emphasis in gender studies.
How did you get started at Man Repeller?
An editor who I used to work with connected me with Leandra. After one call I told my husband, “I have to take this job.” She was just so smart and I was really inspired. Working for a strong female entrepreneur has been a dream of mine for years.
Favorite part of your job?
Working with writers, especially young writers.
Least favorite part of your job?
Spreadsheets and trying to stay on top of my to-do list. And hyphens. I am bad at hyphenation generally.
What’s one thing that surprised you in your path up until now?
The media world in New York is so, so small. People don’t really leave, they just change jobs. It’s incredibly important to be professional, to not burn bridges and to treat everyone on your team, from the senior editors on down to the interns, as you would want to be treated. You never know what turn your career may take.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
I always wanted to be in publishing, so it’s hard for me to picture leaving the industry completely. But I do dream of operating a senior dog rescue like these ladies.
What’s one piece of advice you can offer to someone who wants a job like yours?
I mostly discourage people from entering this industry! You really, really have to love it, because you can’t have an “off” day. You have to be ready to work extremely hard. If you can push past the brutal edits (and let’s be clear, as a young writer you will get brutal edits), if you can push past the competition for jobs, the long hours, and the general toughness of trying to make it as a writer/editor in NYC, you will survive. It’s survival of the fittest!
But if this is your goal and your dream and nothing I said in the above paragraph discourages you, then do work hard. Be excited to get feedback, it’s so valuable. Do kind things for people without expecting anything in return. Show up before your bosses, and do all the mundane things they ask of you. Exceed their expectations. If you do a crappy job on something small, why would I trust you with something big?
What’s one piece of advice you have for someone who has no clue what they want to do?
Plenty of people have trouble figuring this out, even people with established careers. Interning really worked for me because it cemented my interest in my field. Interning is trying something on before committing to the purchase. Also: Do not, do NOT, just apply for any and all jobs available in your area of interest. Be selective, then politely relentless. It’s not just about someone choosing you, it’s also about you choosing the position that plays to your strengths and talents. Figure out where you want to be, and target that place. And know that people, editors especially, are so busy. They get thousands of emails. It’s not personal if you don’t receive a response right away, or ever.
Tell me something weird about you.
Is it weird that:
I need to sleep with a “flat” pillow and will request one at every hotel I stay at? “Please, thin and flat. The flattest you have.”
I can eat a full avocado daily (but don’t due to issues with the avocado supply chain and general cost-saving)?
I have gone through phases in my life where I only wore sweatpants, once for a whole year straight?
Photographed by Krista Anna Lewis.