[Editor's note: Freeskiing has always been a sport that prides itself on being different than the confined, regimented nature of some aspects of skiing. Freeskiing is defined by its counterculture, limitless, free-of-rules nature. This interview series aims to celebrate that by featuring individuals in the freeskiing industry who are paving their own way, doing things with their own style. They are the Outsiders. Stay tuned next Friday for the second installment.]
Suz Graham Logan LaPlante Warren Miller Scot Schmidt
For more than 10 years, Doug Bishop has been at the helm of the ski website Newschoolers.com. He's guided the site through the tides of technological change, repositioning the company and community so they're better suited for the next big thing. Along the way, the now 33-year-old has gone from being a party punk with pink hair, digging and shaping parks on the glacier in Whistler, to a married guy, raising two children, and paying a mortgage in Montreal. Throughout it all, his take-no-prisoners, grunge style has kept Newschoolers at the forefront of ski media.
I'm working my brains out, raising a newborn baby and living the dream.
There's a difference between running Newschoolers and strategizing about where it's going.
As a teenager, I loved to try and break the system and rebel against something. My dad would sit me down and say, "Doug, you know, listen. I get that you want to rebel, I get that you want to do things differently, but the problem is you can't really reinvent the system until you understand the way it works."
It took me till I was about 25 or 30 to really understand that and to see the logic in it.
I've started reading these books on management philosophies, but I try to keep the management of Newschoolers a pretty normal setup, keeping people happy.
I really enjoyed reading Sun Tzo's "The Art of War." There are a lot of lessons you can take out of it, like it's not always wise to fight people head on.
Recently, we've dramatically reinvented what Newschoolers is all about.
Newschoolers was sort of in this in-between stage of social media in the forums, people conversing and a content platform in front of that. It worked great for us in the early years. Magazines, from a words and photos standpoint, have always been so dominant, in that a few people who are experts write to the masses. Part of the reason we changed Newschoolers is to reposition it for a new spot in the market. We want to position ourselves more on the social side, more on the community side, where you can get content from a lot of different sources. I mean, you have to go to every ski media site to get their take on a particular piece of news. We wanted Newschoolers to be an aggregator of that content.
I don't know what makes me different. I don't even know if I'm different. Every person fits in the space they fit into. I'm guilty of not being at the front lines of the ski scene. I'm reading more about tech startups. The biggest difference between me and everyone else is I'm focused on community. My belief is in the power of the crowd.
A lot less changes from generation to generation than we like to think.
This is irresponsible of me to say, but becoming a father hasn't changed my approach to business. I still love taking dramatic, massive risks and putting everything on the line. The only difference is there is no option to give up anymore. If I take a big risk and I screw it up, I have to dig myself out of that hole and make sure I can still pay my mortgage and send my kids to school.
I like to keep myself out of that area where you get really comfortable in a stagnant place.
I wear black T-shirts with simple text on the chest. The crowd favorite says, "Be the pirates, not the Navy" which is a rip-off of the original Mac team. The Navy may have more firepower, but they get caught up in red tape. A pirate goes out and gets the job done.
I'm a believer in disruptive technology. When applied correctly, it can change the world. The old way of doing business is gone. One of those things for Newschoolers was Team Updates, which gave brands a direct way to tell people what their skiers were doing and get it out there. With social media, team updates became obsolete. Disruptive technology … it's one of the scariest and most enjoyable things in the world.