Talking to Harry Jarman, Gentleman's Journal

A Life Well Lived

As part of our journey to redefine Wealth we are exploring what “A Life Well Lived” means: interviewing artists, entrepreneurs, explorers, and change-makers as they share their stories and ask “what is my life well lived?” Here we talk to Jeff Taylor, founder of Courier Magazine, about his business and what living well means to him.

Launched in 2011, Gentleman’s Journal has since grown to become one of the leading lifestyle media brands for men in the UK.

Far from growing up with ambitions of running a media brand, after leaving school Harry became a deckhand and explains that the idea for launching Gentleman’s Journal came from his first, albeit less successful, business venture.

“At the time I had a men’s swimwear company and I was looking for magazines to advertise in. I couldn’t find anywhere in the UK that catered towards men that just liked really good quality – an investment in terms of men’s style, not necessarily trend-led. So we wanted to start a publication that was all about quality in the fashion world.”

“We are still a media brand, we’re still a print magazine, we still have a website – all the stuff we started off with we still have, but over the years we’ve also developed things that were never in the original business plan. Today, we have a full creative agency side of the business, called G Studio, which creates campaigns for some of the leading watch brands, car brands and property brands. And we’re about to launch a lot more things next year, which I can’t talk about but, yes, the business is developing in completely different and weird and wonderful ways than we ever thought it would.”

On Launching the Business

“If you ask the guys I work with, I’m not a great planner and it was really just a case of diving in, which I think is the best way to do it. I’ve known people who’ve spent two years planning businesses, and sometimes they fail, and so I think the key thing is you’ve just got to get on and learn whilst you’re doing. Whichever way, you’re going to be thrown something that you’re not really expecting and you can’t plan for, so get in, do it and then deal with the problems as you go.”

On Milestones

“Getting the first issue out was a really big moment. It was put together on a laptop with Adobe Photoshop, sent to the printers and that was it. That was a really key moment for me.”
“I think in terms of the business side, it was getting our first paying advertiser on-board. That was a big, big moment. I still remember it to this day, coming out of the meeting with Breitling Watches, who were our first. It felt amazing.”

On Being an Entrepreneur

“I toyed with the idea of joining the army at one point, but I don’t know how good I would have been in the army, because as an entrepreneur you tend to just get on and do your own thing. I was always just really interested in people who’d made these amazing businesses out of nothing.”
“Running your own business you’re always on, even when you go on holiday.”
“It is work, and there are times when you’re leaving very, very late or you have to get in really, really early – a lot of the time, actually, not just sometimes – and so it does feel like work, but I guess you don’t mind it as much. If you have to work over the weekend, you’re doing it because you’ve got an aim to get somewhere, so I guess that takes the pain out of it a little bit.”
“Running your own business you’re always on, even when you go on holiday. I made the mistake this year of not really going away and just having a long weekend, and I think to really start relaxing, you need at least five days before you can really switch off. You’re always on, 100% of the time. An idea pops into your head, you write it down, so it can be very hard to relax.”

On Advice

“There have been a huge amount of things along the way that, of course, I would do differently if I was going to do it again, however I don’t regret them because I’ve learnt so much. I think if I was going to launch the business today, I could probably do it in half the time, but I think you’ve got to make those mistakes to help you realise how to do it properly in the future. So in a weird way, the more you mess up, the better entrepreneur you become.”
“My advice to anyone thinking about starting a business, is just get on and do it.”
“My advice to anyone thinking about starting a business, is just get on and do it. Everyone always says how hard it is, and it is really hard; but I think the key to any business is the people within it and so hiring is the one thing that you should really spend time on. It can cost the business a lot of money when it goes wrong, but they’re what make the business, so just surround yourself with really good people.”

On Success

“I think personal success is about getting that work-life balance right, which can be impossible. It’s something you’ve got to try and find every day.”
““I think success for the business – obviously profit and turnover is part of it, and key to make sure you maintain that – but also creating something that’s helping, doing something different, and always developing.”

On Fulfilment

“I think professional fulfilment for me is when I’ve created something. I still get the same fulfilment as I did on day one, when we have a new issue that comes out, or when we get a really big cover star and we manage to do an amazing photoshoot with him.”
“Personal fulfilment for me is just doing and learning as much as possible.”
“Also from the people within the business. There are some guys who’ve been with me for a long time and I get a lot of fulfilment from them too. When they finish an amazing project or when they come back and they’re like, this is what I’ve created.”
“Personal fulfilment for me is just doing and learning as much as possible. I get personal fulfilment from so many places, from reading an amazing book or going climbing or sailing.”

On Wealth

“To me knowledge is the main source of wealth. I know there’s the financial side of wealth, but you really can go through the whole of your life and always be learning, which I find quite fascinating. Whether that’s learning about a new place, travelling or reading about the life of an amazing person. I would say that’s wealth.”

On Retirement

“I don’t see myself retiring. I think I would get too bored in retirement.”
“If this business was successful – which I hope it will carry on being – I would really love to be involved in some way with other younger entrepreneurs, as I have people now who are much older than me. People who have been there, done it. Who you can just have a coffee with and they will say that one thing that will help you make a decision. So yes, retirement is a long way off, and I don’t think it will ever happen.”