Publisher’s column: A mistress can be very demanding
It is time for a confession. For 40-plus years I’ve had a secret mistress. While we have had ups and downs over the years, I’ve truly loved her. She’s pushed me to take on challenges and to accomplish things in life that I never dreamed possible. And she’s been one of the most fulfilling parts of my life.
On the downside, she’s taken me away from my wife, family and alone time. My mistress can be very demanding.
As another birthday has passed, I’m beginning to think about an amicable separation. And that won’t be easy as I’m as tied to her as she is tied to me. We first met in May 1974 at the Town Crier newspapers in Haddonfield, New Jersey.
You see, my career has been my mistress. Decades ago during an annual work review, the constructive criticism I received was that I needed more balance in my life. I was told that too much of my persona was tied to my work. At the time I shrugged it off, as my job has always been so much more than work. It is my hobby. It is my pleasure and pain. It is who I am. In retrospect, my boss was correct.
While my plan after leaving West Virginia University’s School of Journalism was to write, the only job I could find in the industry was selling advertising. Like a good reporter, a good seller asks questions, takes good notes and then provides creative material. And then we follow up as needed.
I learned quickly that I was able to help businesses grow through smart marketing. The first “thank you” I received from a customer for helping the business was an awesome feeling. I felt as if I did something worthwhile. I was not much of a student or athlete growing up. Being the oldest of five, much of the attention of my parents shifted to my younger siblings by the time I was 5. It was pretty cool to have someone show appreciation. That is why my career has became one of the key drivers of my life. It was never money, trust me, Dear.
Later as I worked my way into advertising management, I found I could gain similar fulfillment by helping my staff grow as professionals. The more I put into my work the more I got out of it. My work has been my greatest addiction.
Rising to the role of publisher in Xenia, Ohio, back in 1996 added to my fulfillment. As a leader at the newspaper, I was able to utilize our resources to help improve the community. Part of my biggest kick over the years has been helping nonprofit organizations reach and surpass their goals. While helping a business grow is rewarding, helping to do good things in a community feels far nobler.
I have never taken for granted the privilege I have earned to be a publisher for a community newspaper. But that, too, has taken additional time from my day, as I have had a tough time saying “no” when asked to serve. If I accept a position on a board or a committee, I feel obligated to provide my all.
At the age of 63, I am challenged to work at the high energy level to which I am accustomed. I get in the office by 8 a.m. and go full steam, but I find myself getting tired by 3 p.m. I just don’t have the same level of energy as I did at even 53. Age does sneak up on us.
At the Post Independent I handle two full-time roles. Some of you know me as the publisher, while others know me as the advertising director. While I try to always do my best work, I’m never fully satisfied with my own performance. That can be a difficult way to live. I think the days of gracefully going into retirement are gone.
As I write this column, my daughter is in the hospital to give birth to twins. I’d sure like to spend more time with them than I have been able to spend with my 14-year-old grandson, Caleb.
Based on how I feel now, I plan on finishing my career, as I know it, at the end of 2018. At that time, I see myself working but in a position that will require less of my time and provide me more personal flexibility.
It is easy to talk about, but when the time comes, I am sure it will be a sad day. Until that time I will commit to give it my all. Thanks for having me.
Michael Bennett is publisher of the Post Independent.
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