Publisher – October 2022

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Dearest EXPLORE reader,

What an amazing issue this one is.

1. it’s our BEST OF issue which is always so much fun and 2. It’s the 15th Anniversary issue. WOW.

Story time:

I was 29 and had 2 little kids at home. I was a single dad with 50/50 time with the kids and I had a shitty job I hated in the Medical Center of San Antonio where I had to wear slacks and a tie. If you know me, then you’d know I was repulsed to wear that. I was dropping the kids off at 6am, and picking them up from daycare at 6pm and it was grueling and miserable. I hated it, the kids hated it, but I have to make money, right? I felt like I had no choice.

And then I didn’t have a choice anymore.

I went to work a few weeks later, some lady from HR grabbed me from a meeting, asked me to follow her, and then explained that my position was “being transitioned” and that today would be my last day. I sorta stood there stupidly, said “Ok” and drove home. I walked in the door of my little house, dropped my crap just inside the front door, walked to the fridge, grabbed a beer, tore off that stupid tie, and walked onto the patio and flopped down. I stared blankly across the yard and thought “What in the holy hell am I going to do now?”

I had a couple of hours before I had to get the kids, and my brain spun. But I was in shock and was confused and fatigue would have been the wrong word – I was utterly crushed.

It was a Friday, I pulled it together, got the kids for the weekend to begin, and did my best to just enjoy them. But my brain spun and spun with possible solutions.

Ultimately, I realized that I would be getting unemployment. This wouldn’t cover my bills but it would slow the sinking. So what do I do in the meantime? “Look for a job” is one obvious solution. Strangely, and happily, one of my other ideas was……….”Start a magazine”.

Now, please understand that I had zero experience with magazines or publishing. I didn’t know the first thing about them. I had always loved the written word, and even more so, I had always loved to write. Lastly, I have always just loved PEOPLE so I enjoy learning about people. So with those 3 ingredients, and with a 30 year history of having lived here and countless relationships, I thought to myself “Why not? I could talk some friends into advertising and see what happens!”

And here we are 15 years later.

Since then, I’ve published a total of 9 different magazines at one time or another, opened a men’s hair salon, and have founded several ventures covering every industry you can imagine. I’ve succeeded, I’ve failed, I’ve struggled, and frankly, I’ve had the time of my life. I’ve raised the kids and they’ are nearing graduation now, so this little adventure has afforded me the ability to be as present for them as I can be, to provide them a stable home and income, and to be the best Dad I can be, or at least I tell myself that.

And I only have all of YOU out there to thank for that. If you don’t read, advertisers won’t support the magazine, and I’m back to putting on a tie at 530am. So THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. I have told people for years that I’m not self-employed….I’m just un-employable. That’s not far from the truth.

But sincerely, thank you for letting me go on this adventure. My children got a better father, my friends got a better Ben, my parents got a better son, and I’ve had about the best life a person can hope for.

I don’t know what’s on the horizon for me. I really don’t. If I had my way, I’d publish EXPLORE (and the other magazines) until my body can’t keep up, but I’m not sure how realistic that is. I mean, let’s be honest – print marketing isn’t exactly growing by leaps and bounds. But things are stable, and I’m having as much fun as I did on Day 1 as I am here on Day 5,475.

I also wanted to include this little image of the very 1st EXPLORE cover which I’m sure none of you remember. I spent HOURS digging through cover image options and I saw this image and said “Yup – there it is.” I love the symbolism of the young boy (me) staring down the rough road (life) and I want to think he’s taking a big breath and finding his bravery to move forward. It has forever made me smile.

Some thanks are in order: To Ben Weber who worked with me for 10 years, I’ll forever consider you a friend. Jeanna, my favorite little fireball. Alison, the office’s voice of reason. My late brother who worked with me for a few years gave me memories for all time. Leah had a laugh that just made you laugh with her. Kate had the best sense of humor and she gave you everything she had. Meredith has been this soothing presence for me during some tumultuous times, and I’m grateful. To my parents who I am sure were frequently stressed with the volatility of my work, yet would always help me if asked. To my kids who have forever inspired me and given me people larger than myself to love. And for always reminding me that there is so much more to life than “WORK”.

And to all of you reading this.

As I’ve said, without you I have no job. Thank you for the encouragement via emails and handshakes at Dobbs. Thank you for the suggestions, the critiques, and the laughs. Thank you for making me feel important some days, and for making me feel included in my community on other days. You have no idea how it sustained me to be feeling down or discouraged and get some random email from a reader that just said “Hey man – I read your last Publisher Letter and I wanted you to know that it spoke to me.” Yeah, I’d get misty eyed frequently cause that’s a seriously humbling emotion for me – to connect with YOU.

Anyway, I should probably wind this down.

Here’s to you, me, my kids, employees current and past, friends, clients, and random “fans” that would send me emails: THANK YOU. I’m forever grateful for the gift that you all have given me, which is to be able to say that I’ve lived the past 15 years on my own terms, to laugh every single day, and to have lived a life I never could have dreamed.

I’ll be forever grateful.

Welcome to October 2022 issue, as we celebrate the distance to here from my October 2007 issue!! May you hopefully enjoy some cooler temps, may you hug your own children and the life that they have given you, and may you enjoy this issue of EXPLORE – and may you know the smile that will be on my face the entire month.

Sincerely,
Ben Schooley