Five years after leaving my job at Popular Woodworking Magazine, I’m still asked why I left my post as editor, a job I fought for 10 years to get.
There are about a dozen answers to the question. This is one of them that I can tell because enough time has passed for me and enough people have left the magazine’s parent company. The people in this story do not run the company anymore. And thank goodness.
In 2011, I was picked by the parent company to attend an “innovation summit” to brainstorm new ideas with other editors, managers and marketers from all our satellite offices worldwide. Most of the people in the room I’d worked with for years – fantastic creative types, hard workers and some number crunchers.
A few weeks before the summit, Japan had been rocked by the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. Like many other companies, we’d helped the relief effort by donating a portion of all sales during a special corporate-wide event.
We were briefed on how much money went to relief efforts – plus how revenue had increased dramatically overall as a result of the additional sales in our online stores. Then the highest-ranking person in the room made a proposal, and that’s when the floor fell out below my chair.
“We should find one natural disaster per financial quarter and run a similar promotion corporate-wide,” he said.
My head spun and I started saying stupid things. I remember asking how many people would have to die for it to be counted as significant enough to hold a special promotion. Would domestic disasters be better than international ones? I’m not sure what else I said, but I should have kept my mouth shut.
It was that moment that I realized I was done with corporations. Not just this one. All of them. I spent the rest of the weekend a bit dizzy and nauseous.
Two other events in May 2011 had to happen before I wrote my resignation letter, but I’m not ready to discuss those – maybe in 2021.
— Christopher Schwarz