Changing gender roles are key to accelerating the culture shift around changing the way we work and live. Redefining Masculinity is an editorial package that investigates what it means to be a man in 2017—and beyond. As part of it, we’re asking a wide range of men across industries, ages and background to answer 6 questions about what masculinity means to them. Read more about the project here. Here’s Ben Lerer, co-founder of Thrillist and the CEO of newly-formed Group Nine Media.
Thrive Global: How would you define masculinity?
Ben Lerer: Masculinity is not actually having to feel like you need to be perceived as “masculine”… Which is a gross sounding word when you say it a few times. It’s whatever attributes or characteristics you self-associate with being male. And it’s being comfortable enough with yourself for those attributes/characteristics to be a huge spectrum of things, rather than a narrowly defined set.
TG: Who in your life shaped your view of masculinity?
BL: My dad. My friends. Many people I’ve met throughout my career. It’s all part of just being comfortable in your own skin.
TG: Was there a particular moment when you felt you’d become a man?
BL: When I had my first child. I think you can’t be a kid with a kid, so at that point I had literally no choice but to be a man. It’s a terrifying realization. But also, I still sort of think that I’m a kid. I’m confused.
TG: How has society’s view of men changed since you were a kid?
BL: I think it’s become a lot more encompassing. It’s moving to being more self-defined. When I was a kid I think there were stricter norms around what people think a man looked or acted like. Today, thanks to a lot of hard work by a ton of people, society’s definitions are broadening. Slowly.
TG: Does masculinity influence your work? If so, how?
BL: It did a lot in the early days of Thrillist, when the brand was more directly connected to me and needed to try a bit too hard. I think less so today.
TG: What do you try to teach your sons about what it means to be a man?
BL: I haven’t thought about that before. I just want my kids to be happy.
Ben Lerer is the CEO of newly-formed Group Nine Media – a new digital media holding company consisting of Thrillist, NowThis, The Dodo and Seeker. He is the co-founder & former CEO of Thrillist. Lerer was among Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award Winners, Vanity Fair’s Next Establishments, Crain’s “40 under 40”, Forbes list of “Most Powerful CEOs Under 40”, AdWeek’s “Young Influentials”, Inc’s “30 under 30” and Entrepreneur Magazine’s “Top 5 Entrepreneurs of the Year.”