Transition and Succession (or “The Son Also Rises”)
As President and CEO of Moffly Publications for the past two years, my son Jonathan has had operational responsibility for the company as a whole. I am proud to say he has proven his capability in the face of a changing and challenging marketplace. The time has come for me to leave the helm as publisher of Greenwich Magazine and turn the daily management of our flagship publication over to him. It has been a long-planned-for event and one that comes as no surprise to our staff or to many of our business associates.
So what is the old man going to do now?
Well, he’s not going to Florida or any other warm retreat. He’s planning to stay right here in Greenwich and pursue the things he loves to do most: be involved with everything that goes on in our fascinating and vital town and write his monthly page of observation and opinion, whether anyone ever agrees with it or not. Jonathan knows I will also be available to him whenever needed, and I look forward to contributing in every way I can.
Meanwhile, Donna will be preparing for her own transition at a later date. (This is what happens when you marry a much younger woman.) When she replaces herself as editor-in-chief of Greenwich Magazine, she plans to continue on in the role of editorial director overseeing all Moffly publications. So both Donna and I plan to do more than lurk in the wings: We will have different but active roles in our family publishing business.
Transitions can be difficult and unnerving, even foreboding; or they can be well-organized turning points that anticipate new and exciting horizons. Whichever the case, and sometimes it’s a combination of the two, transitions are necessary to the health and survival of organizations. Magazines, on average, tend to have short life cycles — some newly launched ones don’t make it past their second year — so sixty years of publishing continuity is something of which we can be justifiably proud and worthy of a party.
Last month we celebrated twin anniversaries at the Bruce Museum: sixty years of the continuous publication of our town magazine since its inception as the Greenwich SOCIAL Review in February 1947; and the twentieth anniversary of Donna’s and my stewardship of Greenwich Magazine under the banner of Moffly Publications, Inc. We wish we could have included all our present and former colleagues and many friends who have contributed over the years to the health and vitality of Greenwich Magazine, but it would have required Madison Square Garden! In lieu of inviting you all, we offer you our heartfelt thanks.
The party was enlivened by the inimitable wit of Bernie Yudain, town pundit and historian and an old friend from my Time Inc. days, to whom we turned for advice when we first bought the Review. Volunteering as master of ceremonies, he introduced his guitar-playing nephew Ted Yudain who sang and strummed through the history of the various metamorphoses of the magazine, from the SOCIAL Review to Greenwich, with original and entertaining lyrics. As might be expected, the Moffly clan was not spared well-pointed needles from both Yudains, especially our friend Bernie (shades of the Harpoon Club!).
The prospect of becoming less involved in day-to-day publishing activities creates an inevitable feeling of poignancy; on the other hand, it reminded me of the old adage of quitting while you’re ahead, and I might add, when you can still remember where you were yesterday. Actually, it seems just yesterday when Donna and I bought the Greenwich Review on my retirement from Time-Life. “What a great retirement project,” said I. “We’ll build it up and sell it in five years and really retire!” Right.
That was before Jonathan, a graduate electrical engineer with an international MBA, returned from Japan with his wonderful Russian wife Elena and announced, quite unexpectedly, his interest in joining the firm. It also marked the beginning of when the Moffly Publications title could honestly mean more than one, since we soon made plans to launch Westport Magazine followed by New Canaan–Darien, with Jonathan in charge of both. Since I am no longer publisher of Greenwich Magazine, the editors have been knocking heads at their meetings over what to call the “Publisher’s Desk,” a department I will continue to write. Some suggestions were: the Ex-Publisher’s Desk; the Ex-Desk of the Ex-Publisher; The Ambassador at Large (or Small); The Chairman Speaks — Who Cares?
We’re in a quandary, so give us your suggestions.