Reuniting with my former mentor.


The world wide net has most certainly made the world a much smaller place, as illustrated by an event from this week.

My old, old boss is a formidable woman who we shall refer to as Sue, for indeed that is her name. She started a small press back in the day, and through grit, determination, talent and champagne, she built that business into a very successful press before selling it to the Chicago Tribute Newspaper Group.

Then she retired. BOOM.

Sue was an interesting boss, with a management style all of her own. I think it would be safe to say that she made Miranda Priestly seem like Mother Theresa’s slightly angry second cousin. Not that she belittled people like Ms Priestly, but she expected a good days work from everyone and paid way beyond the average salary for it. 

She could see everyone’s screens from her office so she knew that no one was wasting time dicking around on the internet.  Which is probably why she was so successful. She knew how her business worked.

Thank GOD social media had not been invented yet, or else I would be screwed.

Sue pushed for brilliance and did not take a backseat when it came to disciplining slackness. I only recall ever having one run in with her, which was on the phone. Having copped an earful from her, I did not know what to do. So I simply, and gently, placed the phone on the desk and went out to lunch.

Sue is a big believer in independent publishing, that is opinion, content, editorial, reporting, whatever…. done so without prejudice, agendas or higher influence. Even in retirement, she is an avid consumer of news and politics.

Which is where she found me, writing the fluffy column for my beloved The Hoopla.

She got in contact last week and we exchanged a few “Well can you believe this…” type emails. I suggested we should catch up, then she told me that she in in Phuket.

Co-incidence!

Yesterday, we sat at lunch together at a beachside bar. She had not aged one bit in ten years, and her partner, who is closer to 80 than he is 70, looks like a man dozens of years younger.

She was most interested in the rise of women’s voices in social media, blogging and the business of it all. You could kind of see her mind working, whirling away at the possibilities that this medium could continue to grow in the modern publishing world. 

Although she loathes e-books.

Lunch arrived and after I had a Singha beer, I got brave. I asked Sue whether she realised that quite a lot of staff in the office thought that she was a bit of a bitch…… sometimes.

Her eyes didn’t leave her steaming plate of noodles when she simply answered“Oh, I could not have given a fuck!”

Later in the day we bade our farewells and hoped that it would not take another decade for us to catch up. As she drove down the busy Phuket road and disappeared, on her way to pack up their Thai residence before catching a plane later in the evening to Stuttgart, where they were staying for 2 months for the music festival, it hit me like a thunderbolt.

If you know where you are going and how you want to get there, it is probably best not to give a fuck what other people think.

After all, a tiger doesn’t loose sleep over the opinion of sheep.*

*not my line. Borrowed from some clever clogs.