Name: Mark Phillips
Gig: Editor & Video Host, Aftermarket Intel (aftermarketintel.com)
Current mobile device: iPhone X
Current computer: Macbook Pro 13” (without the Touch Bar thingy)
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Tell us a bit about your background and how you got to where you are today.
I started out as a crime reporter at a small newspaper in central Ohio. The editor at the time gave me a short speech about how crime reporting can be quite an experience. I didn’t understand what he meant until I started seeing the result of car crashes, homicides and other crimes. It was something I did for about four years until I realized I didn’t want to see that stuff anymore and needed to go somewhere else.
So, I did what most newspaper people at the time did. I moved up to larger and larger newspapers. I made it to a larger paper in Northeast Ohio, where I was once locked inside a maximum security prison in the death chamber wing to report on the execution of an inmate. I went four times before the inmate was finally executed in the next room, while I typed on my laptop. The entire experience was sobering, to say the least. I also reported from around Ground Zero in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City.
Later, I decided to totally change course and become a business journalist, something I’ve done for the past 15 years or so. I started Aftermarket Intel this summer and am enjoying it thoroughly. No two days are ever quite the same.
My work takes me all over the world, including Asia this year. And I traveled to Italy for the 2018 edition of Autopromotec Conference. In June, I visited Panama, where I spoke at the Latin Auto Parts Expo and I just got back from Germany for Automechanika Frankfurt. And AAPEX is just on the horizon, so it’s been a very busy year!
Take us through a typical workday.
I normally get up at 5 a.m., grab coffee and a quick breakfast, help get the kids out the door and start working. I always read through several newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and Financial Times. I begin posting to the Aftermarket Intel website by 7 a.m. most days, sometimes earlier. In between writing and posting and working on videos, it’s emailing, calling and texting and more emailing.
By the time I get up, my sources and clients in Europe are already well underway working and their day is nearly over.
As for clients and sources in Asia, their work is already over when I awaken. So, I usually wait to begin chatting and emailing with them until around 9 p.m. at night. It can be tough trying to straddle the workdays of three continents virtually, but that’s what the job requires.
What’s one tool you have that makes your day easier?
My Apple Watch. I use the modular face which shows me the date, local time, time in two cities in Europe, and another two cities in Asia. It’s a way to try to keep all my time zones straight. I haven’t really found a better way.
What’s a recent interesting thing you’ve gotten to do?
Ride in an completely autonomous car in Taiwan. Actually, two cars. A fully autonomous golf-cart-like vehicle took me to another, fully autonomous vehicle, which drove me around Taipei. This all happened outside the Taipei AMPA/AutoTronics show earlier this year. It was an amazing experience.
What’s your workplace setup like?
My Macbook Pro 13” laptop is the workhorse. Like I said above, it doesn’t have the Touch Bar, which I’ve used before with terrible results. It’s a great technology but I have long fingers and I always mistakenly tapped the wrong keys with it.
I always have my iPhone X sitting nearby. When I’m on the road, I carry an iPhone 6 Plus for recording videos, along with a Manfrotto mini tripod, a Glif to hold the phone and a Rode VideoMic Go. For one-on-one interviews, I use a Rode SmartLav+ mic, which gives me really great sound.
What’s your best work shortcut or hack?
Mobile Passport. It’s an app for smartphones that allows you to get into the country faster at airports. It’s like using Global Entry, which I have, but many times, Mobile Passport can be faster, depending on the lines. Basically, you load your passport details and photo into it before you land and it transmits the info to the U.S. customs and immigration people. Mobile Passport has literally saved me hours a year in line.
How do you keep track of what you need to do?
The Reminders app on my Macbook because it’s also native on the iPhone. Nothing fancy.
What’s your favorite side project?
Keeping up on cryptocurrencies. They’re amazing to me and the blockchain holds a great deal of promise for applicability in the automotive aftermarket as a bonus.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
Never give up. Norman Vincent Peale told us that at our graduation from Ohio Wesleyan University. He said it over and over and over again.
Tell us about someone you worked for who made an impact on you?
Herb Klein, who was the White House Communications Director for President Nixon. I first met Herb at a dinner in the early 2000s. He was the editor-in-chief of Copley Press, which bought the newspaper I was working for in Ohio, and I ultimately reported up to him. He was the editorial conscience of the newspaper chain. The first Christmas after we met in person, he sent me a handwritten Christmas card. It struck me that this man, despite having worked for the president of the United States, was extremely down to earth. And he also had some amazing stories to tell!
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