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Monday, December 03, 2007

Some fears: Will I (again) lose touch with the clients?

Last night, I felt a tinge of fear. Our business is growing again, with a new full-time staff editor and competent salespeople and administrative staff. This is excellent and I should feel good. But I fear that I will soon 'retreat' into the executive management/boss role and repeat my old mistake of forgetting who our clients are. And this will again lead to short-term thinking and downright bad business practices and management.
The reason is that when I did 'everything' as working editor as well as publisher, I could never lose touch with the clients and marketplace. Either in writing the stories, or speaking with clients about advertising features, I felt comfortably on the ground, in touch, connected, and responsive. For example, when I attended meetings of the Greater Ottawa Home Builders' Association (GOHBA), alone, I had to work hard -- focusing on the stories to be written; and also on the association members and executive who were in the room, as well.
Last meeting, Daniel Smith (sales) and Ken Lancastle (editor) joined me -- and suddenly the character of our presence turned into the "away from our office company meeting". I know, there are books that suggest you break up your team and sit at different tables, but this seems unnatural and forced to me. Next stage, I fear, is that I will start saying "well, we have two people at the meeting, and really don't need three, so I'll stay home and enjoy some time with my family." This is especially the case tomorrow, for example, when the big annual Christmas meeting clashes with a little Hanukkah party we are having at home. (Hanukkah is an important festival, but at least with our level of observance, does not require us to stop working or avoid important business functions.)
So, what should I do?

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