Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Who's the boss of me?

MAD ABOUT PLAID: Portrait of the editor as a
young show-off.
Last night I decided to write down the names all the terrific managers I've had since I started working as a journalist.

There's a lesson here somewhere.

Starting with my first reporting job, in 1979, they are:

Jon Butler, The Standard in Elliot Lake, Ont.: Jon hired me twice. Then, when I tried to quit, Jon didn't let me go. In 1981 I spent an evening drinking beer with a man named Mark Cranford and we came to the very sensible conclusion that we should both quit our jobs and go to India. Mark backed out. Me, I handed in my letter of resignation, which Jon flatly refused. He said if I wrote stories for The Standard from India, my job would be waiting when I got back. That was only one tiny part of Jon's stellar bossness. As publisher of the first newspaper I ever worked for, The Standard, Jon set the bar against which all subsequent managers would be measured. The Standard? Get it? Never mind. 

Rick McCutcheon, Manitoulin Expositor. I still write for this, the best community paper in the world, whenever I get a chance. Rick told me one of the reasons he hired me was I wore red Converse high-tops to my job interview.

Glen Brisebois, Northern Life: Speaking of shoes, Glen put on his front page a story I wrote about my parents' neighbour Joe Hughes' 40 year-old shoes. At the time, I thought keeping an item of clothing for four decades bordered on the miraculous. As I type, this I'm wearing a red t-shirt I bought 25 years ago and still think is pretty cool. 

Jim Cormier, Influence Magazine: When our kids were little, my wife Helena augmented Kraft Dinner with extra cheeses and spices and it was delicious, but Jim always prepared KD according to the directions on the box, which the kids preferred and called Kraft Dinner a la Jim Cormier. Jim died far too young in 1998 at 39, but I think about and consult Jim so often he might as well still be alive.

REJECTED LETTER : My notice of
quitting that Jon Butler turned down.  
Alan Lofft, Sound &Vision, ProSound: Alan's not only an editor, banjo picker and actor, he's a hi-fi expert. When I applied for a job with his hi-fi magazine Sound&Vision, he gave me a little test that asked what the terms "wow" and "flutter" meant. I didn't have a clue. I answered "what I would say and what my heart would do if I got a job here." I got a job there.

Peter Worthington, Influence:  An "every idea is a good idea" guy who taught me that the only difference between a good and bad haircut is three days. Plus he said my ability to write attention-grabbing headlines probably stems from me being the youngest of 10 Carter kids. 

Ernest Hillen, Influence: When I first met Ernest, he had already travelled the world for various magazines including one I grew up with, Weekend, but despite that, he shared the same excitement and sense of wonder of a 12-year-old and never made me feel like a junior. He turned 90 this past April 6 and strangely enough, our phone conversation just yesterday lasted a mere 47 minutes. By Ernest's standards that was scarcely enough for a hi-how-are-ya?

Alan Morantz, Metropolitan Toronto Business Journal: Years after I worked for Alan, after he had moved on to another magazine; as I had,  I one day found myself fired. (That was neither the first nor the last time.) Next morning, Alan, sensing how much I'd feel like a loser, assigned me a story about Mississauga rattlesnakes. Those snakes made me feel like a writer again.  

GENTLEMAN JIM: He still helps me
make decisions.
Patricia Anderson, Metropolitan Toronto Business Journal: Pat was my boss the year my wife Helena gave birth to our twin daughters Ewa and Ria. A year or so earlier, Pat had become mom to Zoe. So sweet was Pat that one day, visiting our house and holding Ewa or Ria in her arms, my boss Pat actually mused about her actually nursing our daughter. My late brother Ed was on hand. Ed was like, "I work at the post office. Every day, we're fighting  with our managers. If my boss showed up right now I'd call the cops to get him off the property. And yours is talking about breastfeeding your baby??? "

David Bailey, Financial Post Magazine: Here's David, to me, when our baby son Michel arrived into our lives: "I really like what you've done with Michel. If you need any extra days off, just call me and say 'I need a Michel day' and don't worry about it." David died young and is now in heaven. 

Maureen Cavan, Harrowsmith Country Life: My mom and three of my sisters are nurses. Maureen was a nurse before becoming a publisher. That was evident in everything she did and that's all you need to know.

Caroline Connell, Chatelaine: Everybody who has worked with Caroline calls her the best manager they've ever had. And she might kill me when she reads this next part but what the hell I've had a good run. Before Facebook; before Instagram, before emojis, Caroline's family and close friends and her jazz-piano wizard husband Peter Hill called her, presciently, "LOL"! As in laugh out loud. There. I've outed Lol, one the best bosses on the planet. 

Rona Maynard, Chatelaine: Before Facebook, before Instagram, before the invention of everything, Rona let me brag about my family in a column in her magazine. But also, before I worked at Chatelaine, and shortly after Rona was named editor, I wondered, in the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors newsletter, how a physically wee woman like Rona could hold sway over such a behemoth as Chatelaine. She told me later that helped convince her it wouldn't hurt to have me around. Humour. More powerful than you know.

Stephen Petit, Today's Trucking: Hired me for what turned out to be the job of a lifetime. "There'll be as much travel," he said before leaving and handing me the reins, "as you want." I wanted lots.

 At 13-plus-years, Rolf was the longest
 putter up with me of all. 
Rolf Lockwood, Today's Trucking: Rolf was Stephen Petit's boss and then mine and let me, for 13 and change years, have as much fun as Stephen promised. 

Jim Glionna, Today's Trucking: You've never met anybody like Jim,  the founder of Todays' Trucking. Come visit me and I'll spend two days amazing you with Jim Glionna stories. But you ain't getting any here.

Okey Chigbo, CPA Magazine: Way back up there at Metropolitan Toronto Business Journal, I hired Okey to be an associate editor; his first full time editorial gig, and he's never let me forget it. In a good way. 

John Carson, The Lawyer's Daily: John's style: If an issue arises, look it in the eye, solve, move on. Staff love bosses for that.

Matt Grace, The Lawyer's Daily/Law360 Canada: Matt has put up with me as his direct charge for more than three years and hasn't fired me yet. 

And those are all the great journalism bosses I've had. 

So far.



Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Boodle Fight!

OODLES OF BOODLE: Ria, Josie (who comes from the delightfully named Sama, which 
rhymes with summer) and proud pop Michel

I don't want to  make anybody jealous, but two days ago my wife Helena, my son Michel, my daughter Ria and I ate dinner at a Filipino restaurant that's a 15-minute walk from our place and it was among the most memorable dining experiences ever. And not very expensive. 

The restaurant's called iSLAS, which is Tagalog for island. 

We were celebrating Ria becoming a licensed psyschotherapist, and Michel entertained us with stories about his visit a week earlier to see his handsome eight-year-old son Mateus, who lives in Nova Scotia.

 And who knew Filipino food would be so tasty and exotic? I don't even know what all we ate; just that there was fish and chicken and pork bellies and noodles and rice and plantain and it was all served on one giant plate made of banana leaves. I will even admit that I enjoyed a non-alcoholic cocktail called an Ubu Latte, which was cold yam juice and tastes way better'n it sounds. I'm talking spices and sizzling stuff everywhere. But one of the coolest things about the visit was that the menu was first recommended to me by a friend who lives in Manila Philippines and who has never been to Toronto.

HANDS DOWN GOOD FOOD: Hands up, actually
because Kamayan means "eat with your hands"

"Make sure you have the boodle fight!" is what Aian Nuestro told me, two years ago, when he and I first talked about this restaurant. 

"It's something that started on army bases, a long time ago. You don't use knives and forks, you just use your hands to fight for the food." Sounds to me, I said, like the 11- or 12- Carter household I grew up in.

I bet you're thinking: "But you've never been  to Manila, Peter. How can you have a friend there?"

And I'm glad you asked. 

One of the best things about my job is that I get to talk to colleagues around the globe, all day long, about anything I want, via Microsoft Teams software. Our company has something like 35,000 workers, and we're all just one click away from each other.

AND-EAT GUY: Aian, whose name means "He of good taste."
 I just made that up.
For the record, I am not required to talk to anybody outside the dozen or so Canadians I work directly with, but, frankly, what's the good in being able to connect with the rest of the planet if you're not going to meet people? 

So I do. Via  computer. People from South Africa. The Philippines.  I've even got a workplace pal in--I hope you're sitting down--Carleton Place Ontario.
As my sister Charlene puts it, "Nobody's safe from you Pete."

But never mind her.

Manila and Toronto are on opposite ends of the clock so when it's midnight there, it's noon here. When I started my shift at 8 a.m., Aian'd be starting his at 8 p.m.. and because he likes trucks and motorcycles and his family and his job and joking around, well, having him helped make logging on every day all the more enjoyable. 

He's also Catholic, funny and a real stand-up guy. Which is a joke. Aian is not only a trustworthy chap, he knows a lot about stand-up comics and in fact turned me on to his fellow countryman Jo Koy and when he saw my daughter Ewa's  most recent 10-minute stand up routine, Aian responded with "Wow! She's a natural. She could give Dave Chappelle or Jo Koy a run for their money. She's good! I'm laughing like a proud uncle!" (That was the correct response.)

He also taught me a few tagalog words and laughed when I told him I wanted to tag along to some language lessons.  

And is his English good you ask? 

Get this. At one point about a year ago, the dog who shares his, his wife Sophia's and son Aori's Manila home, gave birth to a litter of pups. 

I told him I trust he was going to name one after me and Aian's response was, "I already did. The dorkiest looking one."

If you don't think that's the kind of thing a person who loves you says, you don't have any brothers.

And p.s. Sorry if I made anybody jealous. But jeez, sometimes I make me jealous. 

And another p.s. Check out  iSLAS, featuring the charismatic and informative Josie, here