Friday, June 11, 2004

June 11, 2004
The latest book sales report from Tri Star came in this afternoon and shows that True West is pulling four times as many hardbound sales of Classic Gunfights than our competitors, Wild West. This is great news especially since Wild West has a much stronger newsstand position. They are owned by Primedia (160 titles) and can command a bigger presence almost anywhere they want. Still, we are holding our own and for that I’m mighty pleased.

Several of my employees have taken time to write down a list of “the things we do that are stupid.” Although much of it is aimed right at my forehead, it really is a strong air freshener. People can vent and get the toxins out, so we can hopefully move forward. Here’s some of the highlights so far:

• It would be nice if we had a little more praise than criticism. (one of the things I learned in Keystone is “praise in public, criticize in private.”)

• I’m tired of all the backstabbing in the office. (I took the all the knives and put them in a sack and threw them in Mike Melrose’s face.)

• We vacillate between changing editorial direction at the drop of a hat (actually my hat, or at least one that Buddy hasn’t eaten yet), and making departments as inviolable as a government program. (This is too true and it’s my fault. I get excited about new ideas and go running off in an Attention Deficit Disorder tizzy, taking the whole staff with me and as Chief Dan George said in Little Big Man, “Sometimes the magic works and sometimes it doesn’t.”)

• There’s a tendency to throw ideas against the wall to see what sticks. At times, I get the feeling that True West is a sailboat that tacks too much (zig zags in the water, trying to catch wind, see above).

• Too much Monday morning quarterbacking is bad for morale. Critiquing a decision is one thing; changing one’s mind after a decision has been carried out is quite another. (once again this is mostly me. Wait! No, maybe it’s somebody else. I think I should take responsibility for this. Or not. I think I might. Don’t ruin an apology with a lame excuse—okay, it’s me.)

• We never go over a new issue as a group. (This is true. I go over the issue with production but not with the sales people.)

• You take production out to lunch all the time but you never take us (This is because I like them more than you. Not true, I’m taking sales out to lunch on Monday.)

• We rarely attend out of state trade shows. (I’m reversing that trend and we are going to start going, in fact Sue and I are going to Cody in two weeks to the Brian Label Auction and I intend to send our troops out as much as we can in the future. It’s very expensive but I think we have to get out there, he said in an Attention Deficit Disorder tizzy.)

• We need more training. (Evidently, so do I. Good point, though. Need to work on this one.)

“The indispensable first step to getting the things you want in this life is this: Decide what you want.”
—Ben Stein

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