The Nightmare Before Christmas store appears to be a shop that caters towards clothing for young women that is inspired by the movie, The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Many newspaper stands in Beijing had Sports Illustrated in China awnings. I was working at SI when they launched their China branch. Interestingly, while it was still for sale, I did not see any advertisements for SI in China while I was in Shanghai.
I walked by the Google offices in Shanghai one morning. As I walked by their offices, I realized that as Google is opening offices across the world, Time Inc. is closing foreign offices. I don’t think this is an accident; in fact, I believe it is indicative of a shift in how we receive our news.
Monday, June 11, was my final day at Time Inc. I started working at Sports Illustrated, a division of Time Inc., over 11 years ago.
Last Thursday, June 21, was my first day at BitShelter. It’s first product is PhotoShelter. PhotoShelter is an archival system for photographers; in a way, it’s a “business in a box.” It’s a great tool for photographers, and I think it really fills an important need.
It’s an exciting company and a big change from Time Inc. For example, Time Inc. has around 10,000 employees; BitShelter has less than 15. Time Inc.’s headquarters is in a building named the “Time and Life Building;” BitShelter has a small office off of Broadway. Time Inc. was founded in 1954; BitShelter was founded two years ago.
I left Time Inc. with a lot of fond memories. Not only did I get to visit any number of sporting events, but also I got to travel all around the world. I even got to attend three Olympics. Most importantly, I forged friendships I will keep with me for the rest of my life.
Time Inc. recently announced plans to cut staff. One of the best write ups I read was in the New York Post, Time Drops Bomb, by Keith Kelly. The article indicates that the staff will be cut to 289. However, I personally know several people over the past weeks who are leaving Time Inc. for one reason or another in addition to the cuts described in the article. For example, one person who was at Time Inc. for over 30 years resigned after being asked. The rumor mill at Time Inc. has stated that around 500 people will be leaving Time Inc. in the near future in one way or another. 500 people works out to around 5% of the total workforce.
As a socialist, I could write a rant about companies who break their social contract with longtime employees. As a capitalist, I could write a rant about companies who have to resort to mass cuts because of poor management. Yet neither rant would allow people to retain their jobs.
I sent the following email message to the SI Edit staff yesterday:
To: SI Edit staff
Subject: Happy Holidays
Around a year ago the technology departments at Time Inc. started reorganizing and my responsibilities changed to include working on projects for all of Time Inc.’s publications in addition to Sports Illustrated. While this change happened a while ago, I didn’t get a chance to send all of you a note sooner. Of course, the holiday season is a perfect time to reminisce and say thanks.
I started at SI in 1995, when we were still on the 18th and 19th floors. The week after I started the last pages of SI were produced on Atex, and I still remember one of my first, and favorite, tech support calls from an AME:
SG: “SI Operations, Sam speaking”
AME: “Yes, I’m having some trouble with QPS, can you come down and take a look?”
[I scampered down the spiral staircase from my cube on 19 to the AME’s office on 18.]
SG: “Hi, you called for some help?”
AME: “WHAT THE F*CK IS WRONG WITH THIS F*CK*NG SYSTEM? WHY THE F*CK ISN’T IT WORKING RIGHT? I JUST CRASHED AND LOST ALL OF MY F*CKING WORK? I WANT YOU TO GET THIS F*CK*NG THING WORKING RIGHT F*CK*NG NOW.”
SG: “Ummm… Can I take a look at your computer?”
AME: “NO, YOU CAN’T LOOK AT MY F*CK*NG COMPUTER. JUST GET THIS F*CK*NG SYSTEM WORKING NOW. WHAT THE F*CK IS WRONG WITH IT?”
SG: “Ummm… How about I come back after you leave?” [Near tears]
AME: “YEAH, WHY DON’T YOU DO THAT?”
Most of the challenges I have encountered over the years have been a bit less traumatic.
All joking aside, it has been my privilege and pleasure to work with some of the most talented people in the country on the best sports magazine. I’ve learned a lot, and I hope you have enjoyed working with me as much as I have enjoyed working with you. I look forward to continuing to work with you in the future.
I know I promised a full writeup of the technology SI used at the Final Four, but I’m afraid I never got around to it. On the other hand, check out this neat picture of our setup. I’m the guy in the blue tie. The grimacing guy is my coworker Mike.
I started working at Sports Illustrated in 1995, shortly after graduating from Carnegie Mellon. One of my first assignments at SI was working on the Power Mac 7500, one of the earliest Apple computers that used a PCI bus. Several new technologies were introduced with this machine, including MacOS 7.5 and Open Transport. It was a rocky start. MacOS 7.5 didn’t work very well, and QuarkXPress 3 barely functioned. As I recall, I only started to get the machine working with pre-release builds of MacOS 7.5.2 and QuarkXPress 3.3.2r5.
Peter, my boss at the time, stopped by my desk one day with a slight woman with a short dirty-blonde haircut, a pixie grin, and a cheerful demeanor. He introduced her as Anne; she was responsible for technology on the publishing side of SI. (At the time, the editorial and publishing divisions of SI had two different tech support departments. The editorial operations group had close and technology responsibilities for the editorial division, and the corporate group provided technical support for the publishing division.) Anne had just bought a bunch of 7500s and was having some trouble getting them working. She gave me her card, and we discussed what was required to get the machines minimally working. As I recall, she couldn’t wait for a working OS and ended up returning the systems for computers that actually worked.
Less than a year later, I learned that Peter was leaving his editorial operations position to become head of SI’s online efforts. When I asked who would be replacing him, he smiled and said, “I have someone on the publishing side in mind.” By the time we all went to the Olympics in Atlanta, Anne was working by my side. It was Peter’s last event for the printed magazine, and Anne’s introduction as a manager on the editorial side of the house.
SI produced a daily magazine at the Olympics, and the magazine production went very well. I would like to be able to say that the Olympics went smoothly as well. However, on Day 9, an evil lunatic set off a bomb in Centennial Park across the street from the main press center. I remember the bomb going off; it sounded as if someone was moving around on the ceiling above but the ceilings were 20 feet high. More importantly, I remember the concern Peter and Anne had for my welfare. Even though I wanted to dash outside with a camera, they held me back because they were concerned for my safety. SI considered changing the cover to an image of the bomb site, but decided to stick with the original. Anne had a color photocopy of the cover that never ran in her office. And now it is on my wall.
The Olympic daily was certainly a great way to start an editorial career at Sports Illustrated. It was high pressure and high profile. During the Olympics, I learned several facts about Anne that are as true today as they were then: she is wicked smart, she cares about the brand, she knows what is important to produce a magazine, and she cares about people.
Anne is wicked smart. She has an ability that is unique to intelligent people: if she doesn’t know a fact or a figure, she asks a question. She isn’t shy about asking, and she remembers the answer. She draws a distinction between making a guess and stating a fact, but her guesses are rarely wrong. This isn’t to say that Anne is overly cautious when speaking. She just knows what to say.
Anne cares about the brand. Anne knows the Sports Illustrated brand as well as anyone currently at the magazine. She had her 16th anniversary working at Time Inc. with Sports Illustrated on Monday, and she used that time to get to know the people and the culture. She has done almost every support job at the title, from orchestrating huge projects to taking care of guests at hospitality events. Anne has been a shining example of the work ethic here at SI. She understands the decisions we make from both an editorial and publishing point of view, and has acted as a bridge between the two distinct organizational cultures.
Anne cares about people. Anne is one of the most compassionate people I know. Not only does she follow basic rules of courtesy (she doesn’t miss a thank you note), but also she provides comfort to people in need. She has volunteered to read to children in schools, and she volunteered around the city in the aftermath of September 11. She has always been available for her staff at any hour of the day, and she understands what is important in life.
September 11 was a horrible time for everyone, but I will always remember the help Anne provided for me. As I have written before, I was in Paris during the attacks on September 11. Like everyone, I was upset and confused. I spent most of the evening trying to get in touch with everyone I knew. I reached Anne later in the evening; she was on a train from Chicago to New York City. She was the one who told me about a former coworker who had perished in the attacks. I didn’t believe her at first, but she made sure that I accepted the facts. I mentioned how hard it was to stay in touch with everyone as I was calling people from a pay phone on the street. Anne immediately provided her AT&T; calling card number and told me to make as many calls as I needed.
In the weeks following the attacks, like most New Yorkers, I was walking around in a haze. I remember sitting in Anne’s office on the spare chair reading the papers or simply zoning out. Anne never asked me to leave or gave me any kind of criticism. She allowed me to grieve and sit with her as a friend and as someone who also felt the great loss and pain from the attacks.
I have been trying to find a way to describe how important Anne has been to my success at Time Inc. It’s hard to figure out where to start. She has more than put up with an unbelievable amount of complaining from me; she has always taken the time to address my concerns and guide me towards finding a solution. Not to mention given me guidance on how to communicate concerns in an appropriate manner. From a purely work perspective, Anne has given me an environment where I can flourish and accomplish great things. (As one columnist recently wrote, Anne provided an abstraction so that I could easily complete my work.)
Anne’s help has gone beyond providing a good place to work: she has helped me become a better human being. The quality of her interaction with other is a metric I strive for in my dealings with other people. Her advice and talks with me have been honest, forthright, and spot on. Her perspective on life is mature and balanced. When I remarked last week how she must be a glass-half full type of person because she was dealing with the job change in such an upbeat manner, she responded, “The glass is not half-full or half empty; it just needs to be refilled.”
In one way or another, I have worked for Anne for almost ten years. We have seen each other several times per week; this is more than I see most other friends of mine. I believe Anne will succeed at any job she chooses to do, and I would be glad to work with her again. More importantly, I am glad that she will remain my friend.
I am reminded of Lord Polonius’s exhortation to Laertes in Hamlet. Anne has no need of this advice, but I feel it captures her personality and spirit:
This above all: to thine ownself be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell: my blessing season this in thee!
Life sometimes has a strange way of throwing many things at you at once. Alternatively, we only really notice synchronization because it is such a rare occurrence. Either way, this past week has certainly been a stressful week.
The week started out with regularly-scheduled job-related stress. As I wrote earlier, this past week was the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament. On Monday, I arrived at the arena before 11 am and left after 3 am on Tuesday. I did some more work on Tuesday morning, and returned to the office in New York City on Wednesday. I’m going to write up a description of some of the neat technologies we use at the Final Four and a description of what my responsibilities entailed. Meanwhile, check out Shawn Cullen’s final diary on SportsShooter.com. There is a photo of me in the middle of the page; I’m in the purple shirt. Back in New York City, I have been working on a large editorial systems project. That work remains a challenge, and even though I was in Indianapolis, I spent a fairly significant amount of time working on that project as well during the Final Four. However, all of this is nothing new. It has also been a fun part of my job balancing the weekly responsibilities against project and development work.
Some of you might remember my post in December, “Strange things are afoot at the Circle-K,” where I described organizational changes at Time Inc. I have had two department heads, or bosses for lack of a better word, during my 10-plus years at Time Inc. For eight of those years, in one way or another, Anne was my boss. On Friday, Anne’s position as Director of Technology at Sports Illustrated and Entertainment Weekly was eliminated. It is almost a certainty that after 16 years of service, she will be leaving Time Inc. I apologize for the corporate euphemisms, and I’ll very likely write more about Anne in a later posting. For those of you who are concerned, my job is probably secure even though it is unclear what I will be responsible for in the coming weeks.
Shortly after discovering the changes in my professional life, I received a call from my father that he was going into the hospital to fix a detached retina. He had waited a while after discovering the problem to see an eye doctor. Fortunately, last that evening I learned that the surgery went well and that he was fine. I was a bit worried, of course; and it makes me want to make sure that I visit my eye doctor and internist on a regular basis.
All in all, it was a slap in the face to make sure that my own life is in order. Whether I like it or not, I’m getting older. And in a single day, life can change dramatically. It’s good that I’ve kept my resume updated (both a pdf version and an HTML version.), but it’s also important to make sure that I have a will written and my life insurance policies up-to-date.