Editor-in-Chief of Food & Wine, Dana Cowin shares the ingredients to a great career, from the importance of design to lessons learned from Gen Z.

I discovered my passion for food and writing when…

I was 7 years old. I would go into Central Park in New York City with a babysitter and my cat and compose poetry in a journal. My passion for food came much later! It started the minute I became editor of Food & Wine.

The biggest lesson I learned during my first year at Food & Wine…

The importance of context and design. During my first year we began to look beyond straightforward recipes and to the people who prepared them (like star chefs), but the design didn’t evolve with the mission so it was a little bit like carrying a beautiful handbag when the coat is super ugly.

How my approach to strategic planning has evolved since my early leadership roles…

In the beginning of my tenure, the strategy was quite simple: We wanted to gain more subscribers and newsstand buyers. Over time, it’s gotten far more complex and exciting. So our planning now occurs across multiple platforms, some live, some digital, some print. It’s as if I used to plot progress on graph paper and now I plot on a Cartesian coordinate system.

Opportunities in the food industry that didn’t exist 3 years ago…

The next big idea will somehow be shaped by virtual reality—and the idea that a restaurant doesn’t need to have walls.

My best advice for entrepreneurs…

Create a culture that lives for the product you’re selling; then, nurture it every day.

The trend in the food industry that excites me the most…

Star chefs expanding into fast casual restaurants, like Dan Patterson and Roy Choi with LocoL. It will bring fabulous food to more people, which I find thrilling.

Tools I use to motivate my team to achieve and surpass our goals…

Communication: information, inclusion, and support.

The person or event that instilled giving back in me was…

My mother. In fact, she has been on a couple of nonprofit boards for more than 50 years! So growing up, I discovered not only the power of giving back, but also the value of sustained support and not losing focus.

I am inspired by…

Everything — chefs, walking down the street, blogs, TV, friends, kids of friends, art, stores. It’s important to me to draw influences from different cultures and I try not to get too lost in what’s hot or trendy.

By 2017 I want to…

Act like Gen Z — take some risks and try to help change the world (not necessarily at the same time).

The aspect of my work that I love most is…

Working with a team of super-talented, creative people to bring joy to an audience. Everything from identifying great stories to giving new photographers assignments to coming up with new content themes gets me excited.