Now that it’s a new year it seems only fitting that we at U.S. 1 reflect upon what last year has been like for us. We asked some of our frequent contributors to tell us how 2010 shaped up for them and where they see themselves going in 2011.
#b#Scott Morgan, U.S. 1 Business Editor#/b#
One old piece of wisdom suggests that we don’t regret the things we do, only the things we don’t. There must be at least some truth to that because at the dawn of 2011 I’m fairly disappointed in myself for being exactly the same person I was at the dawn of 2010. Only older.
The odd thing is, though I’m haunted by my own complacency, I don’t have anything on my wish list. I would like to visit Italy, but not enough to pay for it. I’d like to have my own business, but not enough to run one. And I’d like to film a love scene with Sienna Miller and keep making mistakes so that refilming lasts one entire, glorious summer, but not enough to … No, wait. That one might be all right … .
The underlying complaint here is that I don’t want to be 40. Forty sucks. I’ve seen 40. Everyone in my family turned 40 a long time ago and it always sucked. Sadly, I know that when I’m this close to 50 — two months from Christmas Day — I’ll wish I could turn 40 again.
It probably isn’t helping my mood that I received my first piece of age-specific mail from my life insurance company last week. It was a nice postcard with a picture of a good-looking dad (just enough gray in the hair and a sensible shirt) telling me “You’ll be older soon — and more expensive.” How thoughtful of him to notice.
Maybe I’m less bothered about being complacent, or even about being 40, than I am about being a cliche. I’m (unfortunately) in the full throes of a mid-life crisis, realizing certain disappearing options (i.e., the Cubs still haven’t called me), and wondering whether I’ll ever figure it out.
Precedent is against me. I haven’t figured it out yet and I’ve been trying all this time. I don’t know who I am, I don’t know who I want to be. I talk to a lot of people at this job and so many of them tell me to find and follow my passion. Great advice. Or at least it would be if I knew what my passion was. And I admit I’m a little nervous that my passion might be something like collecting TV Guide that will trigger an early death beneath a pile of collapsed publications.
And I’m not making that up. Google the words “Collyer Brothers” and you’ll understand.
So at the beginning of 2011 I can’t say there’s much new for me. I’m lucky enough to have a job, my wife and cats are still the collective apple of my eye, and I suspect things will somehow work out for me. But I said all that last year too.
The one good thing about New Year’s is that it prods you to take stock of yourself. Sometimes just noticing that you’re the same pasty lump you were 12 months ago is enough to get a fire stoked. Let’s hope so. And hey, if you know Sienna Miller, please tell her I said hi. My number’s on the cover of this paper, she can call me anytime.
#b#Karen Hodges Miller, Publisher and Freelance Writer#/b#
My most significant change in 2010 was learning that by setting larger goals I can accomplish larger things. I’ve always been afraid to set my goals too high, fearing I’d be disappointed if I didn’t reach them. My company, Open Door Publications, had published two books a year for the past three years, and I was satisfied with that. This year I decided to double that number and publish four books. Instead I published six.
Accomplishing triple the business in one year brought about a second significant change in 2010. I had to admit to myself that I couldn’t do it all. Like many business owners, I tend to have a difficult time with delegation. I had to reach the breaking point and finally listen to the advice of several friends, family members, and particularly my business coach before I learned this lesson. I’m sure I’ll need to be reminded of it several times in 2011.
When I sit down in the next few weeks to makes plans for my business in 2011, I will have the confidence in my ability to reach ever- higher goals; and I think that is one of the most significant changes I can make in myself and in my business.
#b#Michele Alperin, Freelance Writer and Contributor#/b#
Increased stress is probably the signature quality of my 2010. As a freelancer, the local market has become more competitive as area newspapers have had laid off experienced journalists. One paper I was writing for regularly, “The Jewish State,” bit the dust last summer. And even my other work as a bar and bat mitzvah tutor has decreased as a result of the financial pinch.
Determined to maintain my relatively paltry salary, I responded to a LinkedIn ad to write entries on pop culture for high-school school students — for a legit publisher, ABC-Clio. Yes, writing about the longest running soap opera, “The Guiding Light;” the history of Yankee Stadium; and Buddy Bolden, an early New Orleans jazz artist was interesting. But despite their protestations that research would be relatively straightforward, each short piece often combined untold numbers of sources, each one painstakenly uncovered, often in old books on Google Books.
Another step to buttress my income was to look for more editing work with book publishers, which is not bad, but can mean brain-crushing work imposing the Chicago Manual of Style on unruly footnotes that are longer than the chapters they annotate.
At the same time, I wanted to explore some new paths this year, which I have succeeded in doing. I really enjoy them all, but at the same time they create their own stress by creating even more of a time crunch. I took a tutor training class through Mercer County Literacy Volunteers and have been doing ESL tutoring for a dynamite Japanese woman. I also decided to audit a class on the psychology of language at Princeton University, where I’ve managed to do almost all the reading.
I signed up for the monthly Saturday Sampler class at Pennington Quilt Works and so far have managed to finish the monthly blocks that get you the following month’s material for free. And, finally, I joined a book club.
The result of all this — duh! — is that I seem to be busy every minute and working through the weekends, which isn’t all that much fun. What I haven’t been doing is exercising enough or staying in close enough touch with friends and family. So the question is: what needs to change?
The obvious answer is that I need to do less. Or to get more organized to free up some time. Maybe not having my ego dependent on earning a certain salary will help, as might not feeling like (as I get older), I have to do everything that I haven’t yet managed to try.
#b#Bart Jackson, Publisher and Freelance Writer#/b#
The call had come for something new. So Prometheus Publishing LLC, with its tributary “BartsBooks Ultimate Business Guides,” has stepped into the arena. Whodda thunk? Me, a CEO — with my very own staff and website, www.bartsbooks.com.
As 2010 dawned it was time for me to purchase new pens. Each year, as two-faced Janus smiles, I make a pilgrimage to that certain shop that carries those pens that feel just right in my hand. I purchase a few in soft, leather boxes, and with these tools, I know it is time again to forge something and some self anew. This year it was really time.
Thirty-plus years of adventure writing, from Tibet to Tierra del Fuego, paddling that river, traipsing behind this archeologist, blended increasingly with business pieces. Entrepreneurs join explorers as my two favorite writing topics. Worn feet, bedrolls, inexcusably worn adjectives — perhaps it’s time to stop passively reporting, and join pen with the entrepreneurial sword. Build something.
Easing away from Biz4NJ, an online New Jersey business journal I had co-founded a couple of years back, I indulged in that modern luxury of re-planning one’s career. The profferings of magazine staff positions and various PR writing slots set me shivering with distaste. Two publishers had suggested historical fiction novels, which fired my artist’s blood. Yes, novels are demanding, novels are impressive. But they preach only to the choir.
Able friends and cohorts gathered to help. My wife, Lorraine, who edits both the works and the husband; Eileen Sinett of Comprehensive Communications Services; Sharon Sheiman of Creative Collaboration; tech wizard Hari Gopal; and Alberto Molina, head of SureTech.com, became my personal asset mentoring team.
Our final solution — BartsBooks — was simple. The players of this world are those in business. Prod them with your pen and you just might make a difference. Why not work to nudge business in fact and perception toward what it should be — a force for good?
The “how” took some hammering. Each BartsBook offers solutions on one business topic. Each is collaboratively compiled from selected authorities and online contributions by website visitors. Slowly we lumbered into publishing.
Our first effort, “Business Basics,” is coming into print. It joins “The Garden State Wineries Guide,” an effort that required my visiting each of the state’s 36 wineries and sampling their wines. That book is published by the Wine Appreciation Guild of San Francisco and will be available in March in stores and at www.BartsBooks.com.
The writing goes on, the pace grows more frantic, my days more varied — the pen comprises merely a part. Nice change. Hope to heaven I am answering the call correctly.
As for U.S. 1, I could never quit my over-quarter-century hitch. Rich Rein and Scott Morgan still deliver silver platter assignments that set me chatting with presidential advisors, Nobel laureates, and wide-eyed techies launching software startups. Long may this fun continue. Thanks to them and to my countless friends who have blessed my days in so many ways.