At this time of year, each of us faces a choice in how we react to the world. We could look back with regret over what might have been during the past 12 months and with despair over what the next year will bring, over the slights we suffered or the folks who hurt us or those who've absented themselves from our lives for cause or by chance, or we could recall with gratitude the gifts we received, unbidden and unwarranted, and look forward with hope to the New Year. There is no greater gift than that of self, and I've been the recipient of that giving over and over in 2006. I appreciate the gifts of the people I'm fortunate to work with, gifts of their toil, yes, and their loyalty, certainly, but the best gift an editor receives is creativity. Opening up a Word document for the first time of a feature story or a column that I will edit is like opening a brightly wrapped present on Christmas morning--even though you knew it was coming, it's a delight to tear open the paper and be surprised by what's inside--something that's meant especially for you, though in our case, I'm merely a temporary caretaker: I'll be polishing those presents and then regifting them on to you, the final intended recipient, from whom we receive our livelihood and for whom we work.
Sometimes the smallest gifts are the most exquisite: A 150-word news item for the Web can be just as well-crafted as a 5,000-word article full of grammatical flourishes and graphical bells and whistles. Prose is beautiful, the word is king, but in our line of work, a nicely turned out table or pie chart can tell a story as well as columns of type.
An editor is only as good as his staff, and I get their presents year-round, from the fine people who populate the Investment Advisor editorial staff: Bob Keane, my right-hand man and king of the Web and production; our dogged Washington Bureau Chief Melanie Waddell; Kate McBride, who shines on the investing and the independent B/D beat; our intrepid Research Editor Liana Roberts, and fast learning Staff Editor Kara Stapleton. Thank you. Special gratitude is reserved for the best art director I've ever worked with, Scott Valenzano, who looks more tired since his baby twins arrived a few months back, but who with quiet equanimity still coaxes great work from illustrators and photographers, then mixes the art so well with the words that you, the reader, perceive it as one entity.
Then there are the "outsiders" who write for us--Mark Tibergien, Olivia Mellan, Bob Clark, Susan Hirshman, Angie Herbers, Tom Giachetti, Savita Iyer, Liz Festa, Larry Chambers, Marlene Satter, Ben Warwick, Lauren Barack, Geoff Kirbyson. All professionals, all a pleasure to work with, all as passionate about their crafts as you are about yours.
These thoughts were prompted by a remark that Mr. Tibergien made in his keynote address at the Investment Advisor/Moss Adams Advisor Summit (here). The profession faces a talent shortage crisis, he said, that it must fix as the advisor population ages and the client population mushrooms. Welcoming the young, compensating fairly, building career paths, fostering the next generation, and doing it ethically--that is the next challenge facing the pioneers of this profession. Do it, and thank your fellow travelers along the way. Cherish the people you get to work with.