Co-founder of “The Onion” talks to students at Heidelberg
As a child, this speaker had a rough childhood — enduring poverty, divorce and bullying — and he was able to use these circumstances to create an original satirical news platform.
Scott Dikkers, co-founder and longest serving editor-in-chief of “The Onion” — one of today’s most recognized comedy brands — spoke to students at Heidelberg University Thursday morning kicking of this year’s first HYPE Career Ready program talks.
“With my upbringing, I had a life tailored made for comedy,” Dikkers said.
The HYPE program provides students with co-curricular learning experiences that focuses on the HYPE skills, communication, collaboration, conflict management, work styles, job search skills and values.
Dikkers’ talk focused on the topic of job search skills. He discussed how he staffed The Onion with writers who had similar situations like his own and who brought their own unique flare to their writing.
While in third grade, Dikkers discovered MAD magazine and found his calling, comedy, and began to write and draw. As an adolescent, Dikkers began to write and draw his own cartoons and kept sending them in to local news organizations until he was able to publish one entitled “Jim’s Journal.”
“It is critical that you find your mission,” Dikkers said. “Find what you need to do and what compels you to do it and just go and live it.”
Later in college, Dikkers and a group of guys decided to make their own comedy magazine — “The Onion.” Dikkers said the name came about after discovering magazine print would be too expensive and it would be printed on newsprint with having to peel away the layers of a story to reveal the facts. Also with the fact that one of the guys would eat raw onions on bread for breakfast every morning.
Dikkers started out just drawing cartoons and later took on the role as editor. After he took on the production as owner, more and more people would come to help and volunteer.
“My writing staff was some of the best writers of satire in the world,” Dikkers said. “To find the best at times you have to search low.”
With comedy writers, Dikkers said the best people are the misfits, werdos and those who don’t fit in.
Dikkers soon discovered the more freedom he would give his staff, the more work they would get done and the better work they would produce.
“When you become a boss someday, the more you empower people to grow the more they improve without you breathing down their necks,” he said. “You need to free your people.”
As the internet became a constant, The Onion began to increase its readership and make more money in advertising, which Dikkers then invested back into the institution and the writers.
Dikkers today is the author of “Outrageous Marketing” and travels the country for speaking engagements.