Marchand--Hail and Farewell, My Friends . . .
We are all at risk of staying too long. Whether as a guest or in a business meeting or even, I suppose, as a columnist. Knowing when it's time to leave may be no less important for columnists than it is for boxers and ballplayers. For me, that time has come.
I haven't lost a step, and I'm still at the top of my game. But nothing erodes desire and competence faster than the loss of motivation.
I have sold my business. Confident that my former clients are now in the strong and very capable hands of Charlotte Seligman, my colleague of many years, I am no longer certain that I will remain attuned to the rapidly changing nature of our industry. If I'm not in the daily struggle to figure out how new digital applications affect printing markets, I will become even more distanced and philosophic than is already my wont.
For me, the time has come to take on other responsibilities. I'm going to provide pro bono services to a few worthwhile organizations. Can my skills be used to help people who need it? Do my abilities have more than commercial value? I really don't know. I intend to find out what my skills are good for outside of a business context.
First in the pro bono line is Lifeline, an organization that shelters homeless mothers and their children in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Lifeline provides a home for the families it takes in and supports them while the mothers receive the education and job training they need to get a new start. Will my knowledge of marketing communications and public relations translate well in the nonprofit world? I hope so.
I owe thanks to numerous readers—those who have read my columns for years and especially to those who have hired my company. You (and Eva, my successful, real estate-selling wife) have made it possible for me to turn from the pursuit of Mammon, well before the usual age of retirement, and use my energy and skills for other objectives.
In your service, I learned greater respect for market-driven business. But, I also learned something that may come as a surprise: If everything we hold dear is not to be made into a commodity, limits must be placed on the very means of our economic success. Just as unfettered competition tends toward monopoly, the application of marketing principles to every aspect of our existence eventually drives out equities that can't and shouldn't be subject to strictly defined commercial criteria.
So, I see the need for limits to marketing and, yet, I intend to use my marketing skills in support of social change and, I hope, for at least one arts organization. I don't know how to resolve the apparent contradiction, but I intend to find out.
What else will I do with my new-found time? I'll consult for selected companies, albeit not in the printing industry for several years (non-compete clause). I've been invited to join the regional board of the American Jewish Congress. I'll also travel a lot and do some gardening.
Best of all, I've got four grandchildren (and expectations of more). They don't require much of me, but I sure need them. And, oh yes, I want to do some writing, different than the brochures, features and columns I've done in the past. I want to see whether I can write something other than business prose.
It would be ungracious of me to leave without a note of gratitude to Mark Michelson, the steady and well-informed editor of this very good trade publication, who has always been supportive of my efforts.
But above all, it is to all of you, dear readers, that I owe thanks. You have kept me on my toes. Your inquiries forced me to think critically, and I am grateful for the welcome business you often sent my way. I thank and wish each and every one of you good fortune.
Hail and farewell.
About the Author
Jacques Marchand is a San Francisco-based marketing consultant—now in retirement! He can be reached by calling (415) 648-5393 or by e-mail at email@example.com.