When I took over as the editor of Cleveland Magazine a few months ago, I knew exactly what we needed to do.
We would make the photos bigger and designs more ambitious. The stories would get longer and more provocative, and the reporting would be more in-depth and in-the-know. Our social media and website audience would explode thanks to engaging videos, newsletters and daily news. As a manager, I’d inspire without ever raising my voice, hit every deadline without micromanaging and be the mentor I so craved as a young writer. Plus, I’d do it all by 5 p.m.
That last part — OK, fine, a lot of those things — I’m still working on.
Getting into a leadership position is a surprisingly easy first step. Once the congratulations subside and it’s time to get to work, you often learn to have new appreciation and empathy for the challenges that faced those who came before you. I know I do.
This month, we put a spin on our annual Most Interesting People issue by getting to know some fresh faces. Right now, a wave of young leaders, forward thinkers and energetic dreamers have stepped into new roles. They are eager to redefine what it means to live, work and play in Cleveland. But many of them are probably learning the same lesson I’m learning: It ain’t as easy as it looks.
That’s why the old guard — nay, seasoned veterans — have such an essential role to play, too.
When things get hard for me, I turn to more experienced members of our Great Lakes Publishing Co. family. Publisher Denise Polverine, who earned a spot in The Press Club of Cleveland Hall of Fame for her leadership in the digital space for WKYC and cleveland.com, is both a mentor and a connector. Editor Jim Vickers, who has revitalized Ohio Magazine since taking over its editorial, is probably the only person in Northeast Ohio who’s walked in my shoes.
Fresh ideas are needed to combat the huge issues we face, but to execute them we need the people with a proven blueprint to get things done and the institutional knowledge to not repeat the past.
After all, building the Cleveland of the future is a task big enough for all of us.