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  • Russ Newton

Life lesson number 2.

Updated: Apr 27, 2020

The second big secret I unlocked at 25 was how to supervise people. I had achieved journeyman status as a press operator two months earlier. I was working at the Chicago Tribune during a strike when I was offered a supervisors job. (see life lesson number 1 for how that happened) The morning of my first shift, as I was preparing for my first day as a supervisor, I had a panic attack! I didn't know anything about how to be a supervisor! I wasn't trained, I was totally unprepared for this role! I took a deep breath and started to think about the problem. I had no experience, but I realized I had been an employee for nine years (seven years in newspapers, two as a bus boy) and had supervisors over me. I thought about all the things I liked (being told why a task was needed, not just being directed to do something) and that exhausted the list of good things. Then I thought about all the bad things supervisors had done to me. Yelling, screaming out of control rants about something I had done. Not explaining the why, only giving orders that made no sense. Gossiping about others (Hint, that meant they were gossiping about me when I wasn't there) bad mouthing employees and never talking about how the business we worked it was doing and so on. So I had a big epiphany! Do the one thing I liked when I was being supervised and do the opposite of every action I had expereienced as an employee and that should work. It took some practice, but that simple approach worked wonders for me as I advanced through the ranks. And I mean I really took off. I was a crew supervisor for two months, then a training supervisor for six months then shift supervisor over ten presses and 80 employees on the third shift production of the daily Chicago Tribune. After 16 months in that job, I was named pressroom manager of the Daily Press in Newport News, VA. More on that later.


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