by Gwen Moritz
Posted 7/28/2014 12:00 am
Updated 5 months ago
Later this week, I’ll celebrate my 15th anniversary as editor of Arkansas Business. If your first thought is, “Wow, you’d think she’d be better at it by now,” let me assure you that I am in complete agreement. The longer I do this job, the more I realize just how much I don’t know. But that’s one of the reasons I keep doing it: I learn something about something every day.
I also stay because Arkansas Business Publishing Group is by far the best place I’ve ever worked. This company’s mission statement talks about producing excellent products in a model work environment, and it is important to me to work for a company that really is striving for those goals — although I know we sometimes miss the mark in both cases.
Back in March, you may remember, we marked the 30th anniversary of Arkansas Business with a special issue that was sort of a “greatest hits” compilation of memorable stories from the past three decades. The realization that I have been part of this product for essentially half its existence — and well over half of its issues, since AB was biweekly for its first six and a half years — was a palm-to-forehead moment. In my mind, I still feel that I’m just trying not to ruin the quality, respected product with which I was entrusted on Aug. 2, 1999.
The editors who came before me, and there were several, had already done the trial-and-error of creating a publication specifically for our state’s business community, and I have been the happy beneficiary of that experimentation. I had some editing experience when I arrived, and I had been a reporter for a business journal, but I don’t think I could have succeeded had my predecessors and the management of ABPG not already built a strong journalistic foundation and a solid financial foundation of loyal subscribers and advertisers who wanted to reach that niche audience.
Here are some things I’ve learned from the privilege of being your business journal editor for a decade and a half:
• The No. 1 interest of Arkansas Business readers is what I call O.P.M. — Other People’s Money. Who has it, how did they get it, how much do they have, what are they spending it on and, most importantly, how can I get some of it? It may be indiscreet to put it so bluntly, but as long as I keep O.P.M. in mind, I stand a very good chance of holding onto my subscribers.
• Wealth and the appearance of wealth are two different things — very different. And yet we — lenders, investors, employers, journalists — fall for appearances over and over again. I meet a lot of charismatic businesspeople, and I have to remind myself that today’s high-flyer with the Midas touch may be tomorrow’s federal prison inmate.
• As counterintuitive as this seems to me, money is often not the primary factor driving business decisions. That honor belongs to ego. From my seat, I see a whole lot of ego in action, but the best businesspeople I’ve observed are the ones who are able to check their egos in favor of clear financial goals.
• Women, having been just treading water in the business world for more than a decade, are again starting to push forward — or “lean in,” as Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg put it. I’m lucky to have landed in a woman-owned company where I haven’t had to spend much time worrying about this personally, but if your company isn’t actively seeking out and promoting female talent, I predict your more insightful competitors are about to eat your lunch. Why? Because, at least for now, businesswomen in general don’t seem to be as handicapped by that ego thing.
• The lesson I learned at my first job covering nine school boards in Jefferson County in the 1980s is true in business as well: There are competent and incompetent people at every level. Don’t let the title fool you.
My job is harder now than it was 15 years ago. Some of that may be the fact that I’m 15 years older, and a lot of it may have to do with the fact that we now have the ability, and the imperative, to engage with our audience daily, even hourly, rather than just weekly or biweekly.
But mainly I think it’s because 780 weeks in the editor’s seat have made me ever more aware of the infinite number of business stories that we need to find a way to tell. I hope I have the opportunity to tell a few more of them.
Email Gwen Moritz at GMoritz@ABPG.com.