20th Anniversary

A sober celebration

Back Commentary Jul 1, 2009 By Winnie Comstock-Carlson

For all of us at Comstock’s, this month is a cause for great celebration — and for a sobering assessment. We are celebrating 20 remarkable years in the business of delivering insightful commentary to the Capital Region’s business leaders. At the same time we are assessing what the next year or two, or 10, will mean for the magazine and for all of us in the region.

First the celebration: Comstock’s has grown and matured in ways I could hardly have predicted when I launched the publication in 1989, with only a few dollars and my credit cards to pay the bills. The first issue was like a newborn, perfect in my eyes but still awkward and immature. For years we scrimped and struggled, first to establish the magazine, then to build and improve it. By the time we marked our 15th anniversary, Comstock’s had come of age, growing and maturing along with the rest of the Capital Region, reflecting greater confidence and sophistication.

I, too, have grown and matured as an individual, a businesswoman and a manager. In the early days I had my hands in every part of the magazine, constantly micromanaging. As time went on, I learned a critical management lesson: To be successful, you have to trust the people who do their jobs better than you could ever do them yourself. Today I rely on our outstanding team to exercise leadership, and the result is a better magazine.

The challenge for all of us is to use this time of recession wisely by making our organizations as lean and efficient as possible.

I’ve also learned the value of balancing my priorities. Although the magazine is always on my mind, I no longer spend every minute of every day absorbed in my role as publisher. My faith, my family and my community are equally important to me. This is natural for most of us, I suspect, as we get older and see fewer years ahead of us.

Now the assessment: We are living in an economic landscape that defies easy analysis or prediction. Recessions are not simply variations in economic levels as Robert Fountain, one of our most astute regional economists, points out. In fact, they are times of extreme change, and their recovery sometimes creates even more turmoil than the original recession. Seldom do we see the same structure after a recession hits: Some industries and regions never bounce back, entirely new financial and market structures emerge, and new market leaders take charge.

The challenge for all of us is to use this time of recession wisely by making our organizations as lean and efficient as possible. We at Comstock’s are taking that challenge seriously.

We’re eliminating waste, most importantly by moving into a smaller space in downtown Sacramento. More of our staff will telecommute and use public transportation, saving not only time and money but reducing our carbon footprint as well. We’re evaluating industry trends, developing a stronger presence on the Internet and finding new ways to improve the magazine, even with fewer resources.

An anniversary, a recession: Both lead to a reassessment and an opportunity to reshape our organization. Both also lead to a commitment to you, our readers, to continue to provide the astute reporting and analysis that will help you guide your own organization through these turbulent times.

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