A new chapter

Columns - PARTING SHOTS

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March 11, 2019

Elena Schweitzer | adobe stock

By now you may have heard that I am embarking on yet another chapter in my career. Here’s the scoop …

After nearly a decade of running GCI, I’m handing over the editorial reins to Guy Cipriano. Unless you’ve been under a rock for the past five years, you’ll already know that Guy is a vastly better journalist than me. He has a pile of awards to prove it – including the first-ever Golf Writers Association of America award given to a turf editor. He was also lauded last year by Folio as one of the Top 100 innovators, thinkers and disruptors in all of American publishing.

But more importantly, he’s built terrific relationships with superintendents, architects, builders and suppliers around North America. He’s quite simply the best editor and finest storyteller I’ve worked with in 30 years, and you folks are damned lucky to have him.

Dave Szy, who is the finest salesperson I’ve ever met, is already capably running the business side of our group. Russ Warner – who is a close second to Dave in the Best Sales Pro Ever competition – and young Lucas Coleman continue to give advertisers the kind of fabulous service that has made us quite profitable for (get this) eight straight years. The rest of our fabulous team – notably creative director Jim Blayney, production coordinator Caitlin McCoy and e-mail guru Erik Sales – deserve huge applause for what they do behind the scenes every day.

In short, GCI is kicking ass and taking names. So why on earth am I leaving?

First, I’m not really leaving. I’m going to continue to write this column until I run out of stuff to say or they pry my cold, dead hands off the keyboard. I’ll also be contributing odds and ends of other stuff and offering lots of sage advice that Guy can happily ignore as he takes the magazine to a whole new level.

Second, what I am doing is practicing what I preach. Allow me to explain.

For years, I’ve given speeches and written articles about how to effectively manage your career. I yapped endlessly about how you should be thoughtful about planning your career and try to find a job that rewards you in the ways that matter most.

But I have to confess that I was a hypocrite. I never practiced what I preached when it came to strategizing my career. Instead, I stumbled along through the ups and downs of life: I was drunk then sober, divorced then remarried, fired from a magazine that I created (sorry Herb Graffis), then miraculously hired to run this one.

Somehow I survived the self-inflicted chaos. Last year, I found that I was in the enviable position of being able to consider the future. So, I sat down and thought carefully about my goals. I talked to my wife and other people I respect. I considered which things I loved to do and which jobs would give me the best chance to do them. And I came to some conclusions.

I knew that I had pretty much done what I could do as publisher of GCI. My goal was to give myself a new challenge without giving up the things I love most: writing, teaching, being out in the market and – mainly – being an advocate for turfheads. I knew I wasn’t that good at sales or managing a bunch of people. What I do best is tell stories. I just needed to find some place that would pay me to do that.

Financially, I wanted to make enough money to buy a little retirement place somewhere warmer than Cleveland. I wanted to stay in the industry, but I knew I wouldn’t last 10 minutes at one of the giant industry manufacturers. I’m a cowboy and cowboys don’t do well in humongous multinational corporations.

Finally, I wanted to work for a company with a great culture that really “gets” superintendents and the green industry. A place that – like GIE Media – feels like family.

I literally wrote all this stuff down on a yellow legal pad. Pages and pages of notes. Dozens of potential companies considered then crossed off. And, finally, at the bottom of the last page, one company name remained:

Harrell’s.

I reached out to my friends there and I was gobsmacked to learn they wanted to bring an ink-stained wretch like me on board to help them tell their story and to help you do your job better.

So, I’m incredibly grateful that I get to have my cake and eat it too. I get a new challenge with an awesome company that is just as passionate about this crazy business as I am. And I get to keep ranting and preaching to y’all in this space every month.

I love it when a plan comes together. Stay tuned for the next chapter … and keep reading GCI.

Pat Jones is editorial director of Golf Course Industry. He can be reached at pjones@gie.net or 216-393-0253.