In my family, when I tell the folks a story from childhood, especially something that they did not remember or witness, it was called a confession. As someone brought up in the Catholic tradition, I find that quite ironic, but true. This series of Publishing confessions, will come and go during the year, but this is the twenty fifth anniversary of my first job in publishing, at Runners’ World in Mountain View, California. Remember, this is colored by twenty five years, so beg with me. It is hard scaring up the old memories.
I was going to be a history professor. Someday, I would finish my masters, then my Ph.d, and teach European Cultural History, or perhaps, Eastern European history as a homage to my professor, Istvan Moczy, a man who taught me the meaning of euridite.
My neighbor, Tom Walsh, was the director of circulation at Runners’ World and he got me in for an interview. I met with Rita Anderson, the wife and business partner of Bob Anderson, who had founded Runner’s World. I also met with Derek Clayton, the Vp of Advertising and the former world record holder in the marathon. I remember Rita as being very nice and Derek as being tough, but quite honest. I liked him from the beginning. That day, I was told that there were no jobs at RW at the time.
I sent a thank you note for the interview and in about three weeks received a call to go in and meet Rick Aquaveva. Rick was the manager of advertising at RW and he was a character. Picture Latino, about five foot, five, with an Afro and hip huggers, and soundling like Mr. Kotter ( the seventies show, remember?) and you had Rick.
Rick has ten to twelve sales people, all on the phone, who sold RW ads in the twelve regional editions. He and a guy named Stan Singer sold the national ads. They wanted me to be the advertising production department. That meant I kep track of the ads sold, checked in ad film and made sure that marketplace was billed properly. That was on a Friday. And I had my first job! Starting salary: $11,000 a year!
On the Monday, when I started, I walked into the ad production room, and no one was there! Apparently, on the Friday after I left, a mistake on a Heineken ad was found and the staff of three was canned on the spot.
So, I came in and no one was there! Imagine my surprise when the VP of advertising, Derek Clayton walked in forcefully, opened the door, looked at me and said, ” And if you don’t do this right, you will be bloody well fired next!” and then stormed out.
I went home that night to my new wife, Christine and told here that I was not sure if this job would be a long term one, so I would just try and make it until the end of the week. And then, we went out for a run.
I kept doing that one week at a time for seven years…
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