All posts filed under: Work

Love your work, try something new, reboot your systems

Do You Know Who I Am!? Perils of a First-Time Fashion Week Assistant

Photo: Stocksy I was a 20-year old recent math graduate with enviable job offers and a potentially lucrative career in banking already on my horizon. But… something was missing. For one, I never actually wanted to work in finance. I wanted to be creative but no one would ever let me. Ever since my school teachers discovered at the tender age of eleven that I had a talent for math and sciences, I’d been nudged, cajoled and downright shoved (the shoving part by my parents) in that unwanted direction. Now I felt backed into a corner. Most people rebel in their teens but I’d been raised by strict Ghanaian parents in London. As an immigrant, I was well aware of the sacrifices they’d made to give me a good education and I didn’t dare start pushing back against authority until I was prepared to leave home.. Then one day, I was walking down the street, deep in thought when I caught a glimpse of the really swanky west London office building that always had the …

6 Things I Learned Tracking the First Jobs of Famous Folk

Photo (Stocksy.com) Everyone gets a start in the working world somewhere. So, as the Money editor at Reuters, I thought it would be interesting to use the monthly jobs report released by the U.S. Department of Labor as a springboard talk to notable people about their very first gigs. (For non-financial types, the jobs report is by far the most closely watched economic gauge of the U.S. economy’s health.) After all, no matter how famous or powerful they have become, all of us remember the first moment of bringing home the bacon. Here is what I’ve learned from editing three years’ worth of first job stories: 1. Many people got their start delivering newspapers It sounds so old-timey, but the list includes MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, baseball legend Ron Darling and financial wizard Warren Buffett. However, so far no one has mentioned being chased by a dog. 2. Many more of them worked in restaurants Fredrik Eklund of Million Dollar Listing New York, Olympic gold medalist Carmelita Jeter, football star Damien Woody, Wheel of Fortune’s Vanna …

And Still I Rise: Answering the Midnight Muse

3:27 a.m. That’s what time she woke me up this morning. Two days ago, she woke me up at 3:49 a.m. Today? Tomorrow? Who knows. I’m talking about the writing muse — that seductive voice that whispers in my ear when an idea strikes me, and I’m compelled to jot it down, explore it. My Muse comes in many forms: a memory, a feeling, a longing, a joke  As a non-fiction writer working on a memoir, I welcome my muse. I need her.  I love her. Just not at 3 a.m. in the morning. At first I would fight her. Wait it out. Lie in bed, unable to go back to sleep but refusing to move. Or I’d turn on the television; its bluish glare illuminating my darkened bedroom. Now I know better. Now I give in. Now I know that nothing will satisfy the early morning mystery except my writing. So I’m prepared. Before I go to bed I make sure I know where my laptop is. Or my legal pad and pen. Or my journal. …

I’ve Pivoted My Career So Much, I’m Pirouetting

In August 2014, I lost my freelancing job as the Director of Content at Grey, a global, 100-year-old advertising agency, often referenced in Mad Men. (It’s where Duck Phillips landed after being dumped by Sterling Cooper.) Because Grey slashed my short-lived position, a frequent mini-tragedy at ad agencies, I was searching for a new full-time gig. I became obsessed with joining one of the bright, shiny digital media start-ups in New York City, partly out of fear that if I didn’t work at a hot, tech-based company, I would soon become a dinosaur. I had studied journalism, and traditional media were on life support. As a Gen-Xer, I felt that my professional currency was quickly fading and I needed to switch gears so I could sparkle…or, at the very least, find a job. I interviewed at a small hybrid PR/social media agency where a dozen under-30-somethings sat shoulder-to-shoulder on ergonomic chairs, huddled around an eco-friendly, reclaimed oak table. Macs lit up the room as an Irish Setter meandered down the narrow aisles, looking to be …

The Woman Who Taught Me to Chase After My “Big Life”

The room was quiet. Ann Shoket, Editor-in-Chief of Seventeen, had just finished giving a keynote address to a room full of hundreds of young women at a HerCampus conference in midtown Manhattan. When she asked for questions, you could feel the room hesitate. What do you say to someone who you’ve looked up to for over five years? I was an upcoming senior in college, and something in me knew this was my chance to start planting seeds for my dream job — becoming Ann’s assistant. I raised my hand, not really even knowing what I was going to say, and managed to ask, “Ann, considering what everyone is saying about the magazine industry right now, what would you say to parents like mine who worry about me chasing my dreams of becoming a magazine editor?” She started to answer and then paused. “Do you want to record this to send to your parents?” she asked. I pulled out my phone and, with a shaky hand, recorded an answer I will always remember: “Your job …

How NOT to Find a Mentor

I had just gotten off the phone with a friend telling me how her mentor recommended her to a new job that she was thrilled about. Just the same week, another pal described her amazing lunch with her mentor who gave her feedback on her business plan and introduced her to potential investors. Another friend was going to a book party for her world-famous mentor. The idea of a mentor sounded great! How could I get one? These same friends told me varied acquisition stories, from being assigned a mentor during their stints at big corporations to reaching out to industry leaders cold (and then somehow magically transforming the acquaintanceship into a mentor/mentee arrangement). No place where I had worked offered those programs, and, if they did, they weren’t geared for those of us in editorial. And as for the reaching out cold, I just didn’t see how that was going to work. I considered my job history. Maybe I had a mentor and didn’t realize it? Thinking over my early years in the job force, …

7 Unexpected Business Lessons I’ve Learned From Millennial Women

I am a VP and editorial director at a large media company. Now 56 years old, I follow with interest debates about whether women at my level do enough to mentor millennial women — a heated and sometimes fractious discourse that covers why they do or don’t, if they should or shouldn’t and so much more. Famously, there’s Madeleine Albright’s “special place in hell,” arguing from the “should” camp (although she’d later characterize the statement as “undiplomatic”). There’s Harvard Business School professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter’s supposition that women feel obligated not to show a gender bias, leading the “why they don’t” discussion. And then there’s the less discussed but pervasive — and patronizing — attitude of a certain kind of senior leader toward her younger female colleagues. The sentiments shared with me, because I am old and it is assumed I will feel the same way, are as follows: Millennial women are entitled, brash, not deferential enough toward leadership, look at their phones when I’m talking in meetings and let’s not even get into what they wear …

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Why Being a Gossip Columnist is the Best and Worst Job You’ll Ever Have

The elevator was too small for the big personalities stuck inside of it. I had just left a fancy cocktail party at the home of a very famous wedding dress designer and at first I was delighted to find myself trapped in the elevator with two of my very favorite television stars. That was until they turned on me. We were stuck and tensions ran high. It was one of those small elevators, cramped as hell and someone hadn’t put on enough deodorant that morning. Looking back on this night ten years later, I tell myself they were just hungry. They probably hadn’t had bread or sugar in more than a decade. “You’re that gossip columnist,” one carped when it became clear that we would be waiting in the small space together for some time and everyone should settle in and get comfortable. [pullquote]I can tell you without a twinge of doubt, guilt or shame that most celebrities deserve the intense scrutiny that the celebrity press puts on their lives.[/pullquote] I shrugged. “It’s not really …

I Was “Breakup Girl,” And Then My Job Dumped Me

This will not endear me to you: Until my mid-20s, I was convinced that I was special — that my life was actually charmed. That was the through line to my life story: Things just went my way. Hard work paid off. I earned good grades, had halfway normal parents and halfway decent boyfriends. My high school graduation speaker was Gloria Fucking Steinem. I got into Yale. I had the time of my life. I had an amazing dog named Montsi — a gorgeous white shepherd/tundra wolf mix who was my protector and soul sister. My books got published. I always had cool, land-in-your-lap life-changing experiences, like living and bonding with a family and “sister” in Mexico who looked just like me — whom I’m still friends with — and lucking into an awesome apartment with my best friend in Boston and winding up on both Geraldo and Ricki Lake in 1994, just because I looked exactly like Tonya Harding, which is a long story. It wasn’t that things never went wrong. They did. All …

My Company Sank and Nearly Took My Morals With It

I’ve never been afraid of failure. I always think of the potential for failure as pure “dare”—and can’t resist staring it straight in the face to see if I can beat it. I always thought this was a noteworthy trait of mine, a good trait. Hell, I even gave speeches about the benefits of not being afraid of failing: learning, experience, trying out innovative ideas, pushing your boundaries, surprising yourself. The trick, I say in those speeches, is to pick good failures, failures that give you more than you lose, whether insights or learning or experiences or, heck, even just great friends or one helluva a good story. You weigh the pros of what you might achieve and accomplish against what the worst-case scenario might be and say: Can I live with the worst, if it comes to that? I had always taken risks in publishing, tried to do things people said “couldn’t be done,” made things from scratch without enough money or enough time or enough team or all three. I did these things, …

I Lost $52 Million and Lived to Tell About It

“I know this isn’t what you wanted to hear, but I promise you this is the very best thing for the business,” he said. “Yup, I know. I’m 100 percent on board,” I exhaled. And with that, my then CFO and I knew we were ending a $52 million contract. Making that decision was the best thing I’ve ever done for my business. I’m here to talk about failure, but, to be clear, losing this deal wasn’t my big failure. Sure, I felt like a failure to my team. We felt totally incompetent, like we had been playing a game of checkers when my supposed collaborators had been playing chess. And, sure, I felt like the business was going to take a nosedive towards a dramatic end. But still, those things didn’t make me feel like a total failure. The failure was in ignoring the warning signs that had been looming for at least two years. Anyone looking at my predicament could have spotted this dramatic, climactic ending 50 miles away. And when I look …

10 Ways to Keep From Retiring in a Cardboard Box

I’ve never had access to a 401(k) plan — I’ve been working full-time freelance since 2006. I’ve always wanted to retire, no matter how anathema that sounds in workaholic America. Maybe it’s because I’ve also lived in countries where people actually look forward to — and many can afford — a labor-free later life: England, France, Mexico and my native Canada. Not coincidentally, fear of medical bankruptcy  — the greatest single destroyer of Americans’ finances — isn’t an issue there either because they offer single-payer government healthcare from cradle to grave, working or not. I’ve been saving hard for years. I’m married, so I do have the advantage of an additional income and shared costs. If I were single, I’d probably sell my home and rent or use a reverse mortgage. As a journalist who’s been covering personal finance for years for outlets like The New York Times, Reuters, Investopedia and others, I’ve learned a lot about the common financial mistakes people make. I’ve also handled my own money for decades, moving out of my …

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How to Have the Money Talk with Your Parents

Even if you began planning for your Golden Years at an early age, there is one thing about retirement that no one ever warns you about: You might be on the hook for some (or all) of your parents’ retirement. How, you may ask? Well, there is a high probability your parentals will outlive their savings. The median household approaching retirement has a nest egg of just $10,000 to $20,000, according to the Government Accountability Office. Among folks who have saved for retirement, the median amount of their savings is about $104,000 for households age 55 to 64 and $148,000 for households age 65 to 74. That’s equivalent to a payout of $310 and $649 per month, respectively. That’s not even accounting for inflation. And you shouldn’t count on Social Security to give Mom and Dad much of a safety net. Social Security coverage is minimal at best – this year, the average monthly benefit is $1,341, which equates to $16,092 for the year. That’s barely enough to stay out of poverty. [pullquote] The average …

How a Finance Pro Saves for Retirement After Leaving Her Job

As the author of How to be a Financial Grownup, I am the original Financial Grownup. Right after college, I got my Certificate in Financial Planning so I would know enough to ask the right questions. Yeah, I’m that kind of person. I’ve been researching and dishing out advice for as long as I can remember. But now, I needed to give a little advice to myself.  How do I keep investing in a retirement fund after leaving corporate America? This week was the first week in my entire post-college working life that I did not contribute to a retirement fund. I’d recently left my job at Thomson Reuters, a place I’d worked for 16 years as an anchor and personal finance columnist. It was time – I was burned-out to a crisp. I’d run the numbers on what leaving would mean for my new self-employed lifestyle, and things would be fine financially. I had opportunities as part of the release of my book, several paid speaking engagements, offers for freelance writing and anchor/reporter fill-in …

6 Apps to Remember Stuff and Get Comfy in the Cloud

In this age of constant alerts, badges, and notifications, it’s increasingly difficult to filter signal from noise. How do you remember what’s really important when the flow of information never ceases? In our busy modern lives, it’s way too easy to let essential material slip through the cracks. The good news is that there are a plethora of tools available to help manage the onslaught. With a little planning, technology can become an extension of your mind, improving your memory and helping you maintain focus. As a digital fanatic, I’ve created a system that allows my entire brain to live in the cloud. A brief introduction: I’ve worked in digital since the late ‘90s, back when people told me that the internet was a passing fad. Today, I run a social media agency – and to say that our work moves fast is putting it mildly. The good news is that by putting our memories into the ether, we become smarter humans, with an enhanced ability to understand and process information that our minds alone …

From High-Powered Exec to Pilates Instructor — Am I Happier?

You hear about those folks who eschew corporate America — who just bail and find some trade that makes him or (more likely) her happier, more fulfilled, less angry. You envy them at times. Maybe you crave to do what they’ve done. Perhaps you have a plan to do the same at a certain age or net worth. I’m that girl. I did that. I used to be a media executive. I made the big bucks. I was a Senior Vice President at several major media companies: Scripps Networks Interactive (aka, the parent of Food Network and HGTV), Discovery Communications and Time, Inc. Having started my media career later than many (I did odd stuff until I arrived to it at 30), I ascended fairly quickly. I was a VP by 35 for a high-profile company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. (Fun fact: I started the week after she got out of prison.) Among other things, I had teams under me numbering over 100 people and managed P&Ls in the multi-millions. I was a kind of …

The Beauty of a Bullet Journal — and How it Keeps Me Organized

I have always struggled with organization. I would make to-do lists on Post-its, update calendars and planners but nothing really stuck…until I tried a Bullet Journal. I first heard about the journals through a Facebook post and was intrigued by the beautiful handwriting and colorful drawings that covered the pages. I love to doodle, paint and scrapbook, and so I knew that the creative aspect of a Bullet Journal would keep me interested. It’s not monotonous like a planner, so each page is something completely different and new. Unlike a traditional planner, a Bullet Journal doesn’t require you to stick to a pre-designed layout or theme – in fact, it thrives on creativity and sporadic inspiration, allowing you to organize your thoughts in a way that works best for you. While you could use virtually any notebook to create a Bullet Journal, there are a few rules you need to follow. Every Bullet Journal starts with a Key, an Index and a Future Log. The Key explains what all of the different symbols you’ll use …

How A Fox News Feminist Changed Things From the Inside Out

Fun fact: I never considered myself a “feminist.” I hated the word as well as the connotations it suggested. But my mother — my biggest fan and toughest critic — changed all of that. She, too, started out as a reluctant feminist.  Sure she believed in women’s rights. Yet, when she came to the United States, she strived to be the opposite: a quiet Indian immigrant, existing between the lines as a med school resident, striving to be the best doctor she could be, but never questioning authority or stirring the pot. That was until the director of Yale School of Medicine told her she could be chief resident if she was more assertive. “Assertive” meant she was committed. “Committed” was a direct shot to chief resident, and “chief resident” meant she would be the BEST.  She would be granted access to what was known as the “Vatican” of Yale medical school. At 27 years old, she would have instant street cred, clout and a possible bump in salary. It also meant she could cut …

11 Women Who Started Brand New Careers in Midlife— and Never Looked Back

Big changes in career, vocation and lifestyle in midlife or the years leading up to it are more often an evolution than a radical change. I went back to journalism school at 35 because the writing degree I’d started at 18 — and never finished —nagged at me for years. Going from full-time college counselor and teacher to graduate student was intimidating — financially, intellectually and emotionally. It was also one of the best, richest experiences of my life, and, no matter how many zeroes got added to my student loan balance, I have never regretted it. I traveled to Vietnam to cover business growth there. I was a reporter in the arena on the night Barack Obama accepted the nomination for President of the United States. I helped to run a student digital newsroom and emerged as the de facto den mother of several classmates a decade or more my junior. I now have a degree that means I can teach writing if I want to (because I loved teaching too much to leave …

How I Came to Love Shipping (and the Hot UPS Guy)

I was fifteen years old, answering phones in the main office of my high school. “Good afternoon, Park Ridge High School, how may I direct your call?” I’d look up the extension on the printed sheet and punch the square plastic buttons for HOLD and TRANSFER. My best friend had a work-study job in the guidance office, and I put in a few hours a week at my floating desk in the front office. One day, I was answering phones and a tall, handsome woman in a pantsuit pushed open the glass door. She introduced herself as a small business owner from down the street, and said she wanted to post a help wanted notice. “I need someone to work in my business, doing office work after school hours.” I took the index card from her and read the typed requirements. Typing, filing, something about shipping. “I’d like to apply,” I said. I put the card in my pocket, as if to say, I’m not posting this on any bulletin board. “All right,” she said. …

The Boss of Me

He was the editor of a well-known men’s magazine. A short man. Not an attractive man. After I interviewed with him I said to my boyfriend at the time, “Why he looks just as much like a turtle as a man can look.” This was the 1980s. This was my first media job, although we called it publishing back then. I interviewed in a navy linen suit from Bonwit Teller, nude pantyhose and navy pumps trimmed with flat grosgrain ribbons. I was a 22-year-old from Iowa and I thought the look I should be going for was “appropriate.” Inexplicably, I was hired. And I realized within the first hour of my first day that I had it all wrong. “Cool” was the style that prevailed among the girls on staff. A girl called Muney wore a pink tutu and black motorcycle jacket like Cyndi Lauper. A girl called April, who was whippet thin and wore lank bangs in her eyes, rimmed all around in kohl, wore leather jeans, the first I’d ever seen. Let’s just say …

I Learned Everything I Needed to Know at a Vegas Cosmetic Counter

In the summer of 1989, I got myself gussied up and stepped onto a gleaming marble sales floor ready to beautify the world, or at least those fortunate enough to pass my counter. A 21-year old small-town girl with retail stars in my eyes, I had confidently parlayed my limited (and decidedly unsophisticated) local-mall sales experience and a few freelance makeovers into credentials for this glamorous new gig, but I was unprepared for the insane, international and immensely delightful cast of characters who would teach me everything they knew about selling and survival—whether they meant to or not. Why and how I came to be in the cosmetics department at Saks Fifth Avenue in Las Vegas is a story for another time, but suffice to say it had to do with a car breaking down in the desert and someone’s uncle’s girlfriend knowing a manicurist who knew someone in human resources. Long story short, Saks—and later Neiman Marcus—empires of elegance, service and style, served as my first salt mines. Livelier and more luxurious than any …

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Working in a Magnet Factory and the Lessons That Stuck

I have always understood about working for a living. In fact, I got my first job at age five. My dad ran a magnet factory. Yes, you read that right. A magnet factory. I hear business is picking up! (yuk yuk yuk) What an attractive business! Drawn in to the magnetic field. You know, opposites attract. Yes, I’ve heard them all. My dad hired me when I was still in kindergarten. My job? To stamp manila envelopes. Small ones. Coin envelope size. Inside each was a sheet of magnutties — a sheet of scored magnetic rubber that you could break apart into 50 (or was it 100?) teeny rubber magnets. All I had to do was ink the stamper and stamp the envelopes. I distinctly remember staring at huge piles of envelopes. [pullquote]I filled in where I was needed. I busted my ass. It was hot and fast and fun. We were a team.[/pullquote] I’m not saying it was hard, but you know what it’s like — sometimes the stamp isn’t straight, sometimes some words …

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Are Journalists Allowed to Be Fans?

When I was starting out my career in the ’90s working as a business journalist, the rule was always be in the background of (and not part of) the story. The first-person voice-y thing was for the columnists — and if you were doing that and weren’t one, you were clearly a novice reporter in her first weeks on the job. Worse, if you were a fan of a subject’s work or their mission, showing your hand beyond a detached view of why their company might be good for society — or, really, shareholders — was a nonstarter. This went double if you were a person in her ’20s covering complex topics. Note that this was before the ubiquity of blogging and disruption. The old order reigned, and it didn’t exactly revere lack of years of experience and naïve exuberance. In turn, neither did I. #Judgy This worldview of mine took a little time to coalesce. One incident that helped it along happened when I returned from a reporting trip where I was trailing an entrepreneur who …

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My Half-Baked Life and the Pastry Job That Saved Me

Last summer, two coworkers and I left our jobs running a hip and lauded bakery in Brooklyn to start our own catering and cakes company. The plan had come together organically: We shared mutual affections, bonded over grueling workdays and were all possessed by a deep desire to pull ourselves out from under the never-ending task of producing someone else’s dream to ride high on our own vision. We conspired over margaritas how we together would take over the world — or at least the New York Slow Food scene. The “plan” lasted a solid two months and eventually fell apart when a project shaped distinctly like something bigger than we could chew, coupled with an epic no-sleep, Adderall-fueled prep session flushed out our deeper natures. We pulled it off and the client was thrilled, but I was deemed both too soft and too harsh to enter into a long-term relationship with. The other partners pushed me out. My ego was left battered, but — oh god — in no way would I for a …

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Day Job: I Work for a Temporary Tattoo Company

Yng-Ru Chen is the head of partnerships at Tattly, a company that makes artful, fun and often elaborate temporary tattoos. (We had one made for our first TueNight birthday party.) Her Tattly partner work even brought her to an easter party at the White House! We wanted to ask Yng-Ru what it was like to work for one of the coolest Brooklyn-based teams, and quiz her, Prosustian-style, on her work essentials and career history.   Tell us in your own words: What are Tattlys exactly? That’s a fun question to answer. Tattly is a temporary tattoo company that adults seems to love as much, if not more than kids. All of the designs are by amazing artists who receive royalties from the sales. What exactly do you do for Tattly? As head of partnerships I work on developing clients for the custom Tattly side of the business, I oversee the events we do, I manage our large licensing properties and I create relationships with partners so that our tiny, 12-person company can have the largest …

6 Easy Ways to Tidy Up Your Desktop

Got a jumble of icons cluttering your Mac’s desktop? Are the icons themselves too big—or too small? Wish they would just arrange themselves? Read on for six ways to whip your messy Mac desktop into shape, starting with… 1. Arrange Your icons Automatically Want to see your desktop icons arranged in nice, straight columns, and in some kind of logical order? First, here’s the secret weapon you’ll need to use: the View Options tool in the Mac OS X “Finder.” Here’s your secret weapon for cleaning up your desktop: the “View Options” menu. Just right-click your desktop, then select Show View Options. (If you’re fond of keyboard shortcuts, you can also hit Command-J after clicking the desktop.) Next, click the drop-down menu that’s labeled “Sort by” and pick an option, from Name and Size to Date Created and Date Last Opened. Note that no matter which automatic sorting option you choose, your Mac will group your icons by type—meaning internal hard drives come first, then shared and external drives, and finally your folders and files. …

F#$@ It. Why I Love to Use Dirty Words.

It was my use and vast knowledge of colorful language that led a former boss (now friend) to nickname me “TSJ” — aka Truck Stop Jody. As in, curses like a trucker. He told me that I introduced him to some words and phrases he’d never heard before, and wouldn’t dare utter in front of most people and all women. Except me. I’ve been experimenting with sailor-style language since elementary school. Even back then, I tested out a few gems on my dad (not yet knowing how offensive they really were, or how to use them appropriately, with fervor and panache). Me: “These pants are green. They’re horny!” Dad: “Never say that word. Who taught you that word? That’s not what it means.” Dad was not into dirty words. “Damn” was not allowed. Hell, “fart” wasn’t even allowed. We had to say we “beeped.” Early on, I think the excitement of cursing appealed to me. I got immediate attention, even though it wasn’t always positive. Back then, ANY attention was good. Both at home and …

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What No One Tells You About Planning for Retirement

I put at least 10 percent (or is it 15 percent?) of my salary in my 401K every year. I contribute to a ROTH every other year (or so). I own my home — or will in 28 years. I have enough in stocks to carry me at least a few weeks. Financially, I’m not that bad off… am I? I ask this of my financial advisor, whose primary value seems to be telling me that I should save more. Disappointingly, he can’t make magic of what I have put away thus far. We meet annually to review where I would be financially if I were to retire at an age that increases with every meeting. He routinely poses questions that start with “If you plan to ever stop working…” or “If you’re serious…” My current retirement plan seems to be not to retire. But then, as I’ve seen with my parents, retirement can come unplanned and earlier than you think. They did everything right — scrimping and saving, counting their pennies and on their …

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I Went All the Way to Switzerland, and All I Got Was Chewed Out by My Boss

Seeing my hairbrush down the hall from my hotel room after a long day of not-so-helpful interviews should have been my first clue that this was not going to be the reporting trip of my dreams. In 1996, I took my first international reporting trip to Switzerland, researching the wealth of Swiss billionaires for my magazine’s annual billionaires list. My portfolio of targets included a family with vast grain holdings, a private bank, oil interests, the family behind Swatch, a cement baron, and the scion of a pharmaceuticals company that made good use of nuns’ urine. I was also asked to report on and write a lifestyle piece on the state of the Swiss watch industry, which was then rebounding from a Timex and Japanese-based assault. Getting to go on an international reporting trip was a coveted boondoggle, not that rare though in the flush 1990s when magazines sold so much advertising that editors begged reporters for more copy to fill the pages. Two fellow reporters famously went to the Far East every year for …