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  • Writer's pictureRuss Newton

Another life lesson of sorts

I was SVP of operations and Circulation in 2008 or 2009 and I received a call from a headhunter. I always believed in checking out new opportunities so I listened. I was making $280,000 a year with a bonus

of about the same amount but it doesn't cost anything to listen. So this guy went on and did a fifty question interview. The job was running an undefined manufacturing operation with about 600 employees. He kept growing more and more excited as I answered his questions. As we got to the end he said "you are perfect for this job! And the money you need to take it will not be an issue, the owners will love you."( I told him I would need $400,000 a year with the same bonus potential) He then said just a couple of background questions and we will get you in front of them. He asked where I went to school. I told him. He said Robert Lafollette Universtiy? I said, no, high school. He started to mutter to himself. He was saying stuff like you were perfect for the job but the requirements are for a masters in business. He then said, I am going to put you in front of them, you answered every question perfectly. You are the right guy for the job. I said who required a masters in business for this job? He said the owners. I said I would withdraw then. He tried to talk me into it but I refused. I closed with these comments. "I have managed to work myself into the SVP position of two major departments of the largest newspaper in the United States, doesn't that make you wonder how a high school graduate could accomplish something like that? Do you imagine to yourself the path was easier with only a high school education? Or maybe, just maybe I was so damn good I made it here in spite of my lack of education? Or more realistically, I found a way to earn an MBA in business somehow on my own? I can't work for a company that is that blind to reality."


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4 comentários


Brent Woodman
Brent Woodman
16 de fev. de 2021

Spot on Russ. I'll take the person with 30 years of experience over someone that's still wet behind the ears and a fresh college degree EVERY time! - Brent Woodman

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Russ Newton
Russ Newton
15 de fev. de 2021

Gordon, thank for the kind words. Even though I am retired it still means a lot to me to hear that, thanks. Donnie I am running out of lessons but hope to mine a few more in the days ahead. Thanks, Russ

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don.gramling
don.gramling
14 de fev. de 2021

Excellent lesson Russ. Keep them coming.

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gdtomaske
gdtomaske
14 de fev. de 2021

Russ, you were easily one the very best executives I have ever worked with (Chris Avetisian being one of the others). Period. I had plenty of bosses with MBA's who did not have a clue about how their own business worked but thought by virtue of their degree they were qualified. I watched these same people destroy more than a few companies.


You on the other hand understood what your departments did and how they did it. More importantly, you knew your people and what they were capable of which is really what leadership is all about.


Unless you are looking at a job in medicine, law or engineering I see little need for a degree and you were right…

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