Travis Smith: my resume, bio and photos back to the main blog page

Thank You,

posted at 10:59 am
on Mar. 25, 2004

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Tomorrow is my last day at Variety.

I started this morning thinking that I’d write a funny true entry about “getting out just in time.”  Because this morning, when I leaned into the bathroom mirror after a bracing shower, I saw—gasp!—a grey hair!

Yeah, yeah, I know that it’s pathetic to folks older than 31, and cliche to folks under 31, to write about your first grey hair.  You go from being young and joking about worrying about grey hairs, to worrying about getting them, to getting them from worrying, to worrying about people joking about them, back to joking again, and I’m not through all the stages yet.

And truth be told, I got my first gray hair at age 12, discovered on the back of my head by the buxom barber my dad took me to, at the shop with the Playboy magazines in the waiting area that I would peek at on slow days after school when we were the only customers there.

Cheryl, her name was Cheryl, paused in her snipping and combing my crazy head of hair, straightened up and said “Well, can you imagine.”

I worried she knew what I was imagining.

But no, she was agog, hands on hips, that this little boy with the unruly five, no, six, cowlicks, also had a patch of grey hair behind his right ear.  It was joined several years later by a tuft on top of my head, at which point she declared I had the most perverse scalp on the planet.  How could she tell by looking at the outside?

So I was the grey haired boy, the boys in my dorm called me in college.  Briefly.  I had better nicknames that soon pushed that aside.

Today, though, I was going to write about sensing the melatonin-draining properties of Variety and the innate self-preservation instinct my scalp must have.

* * *

Instead, as I was saying final, final keepsies goodbyes at Variety, something special happened.

I’d been first at a final lunch gathering of the Web staff, with special guest appearance by the project manager at eLogic (our Web site builders—95% of my phone calls to her started with, “So where are we on…?” and yet she still kept picking up that phone…)

It was delicious Mexican food, and we laughed a bit, but it was a bit awkward. Nothing bad, just a little noticeable.

Later, at the end of the business day, the editorial team had traditional Going Away Pie—a feast offered to every departing dotcommer at, intern on up.

Tasty apple pie, eaten quickly while the ice cream melted onto the filing cabinet.  And then I went back to my cube to finish packing up my files and unplugging my lamp.

On the way out, box of loose papers under my arm, I came by again for the final good byes, for the Web editors wouldn’t be in on Fridays because of their publishing schedule.

And then it happened.  Eyes got moist.  A tear was seen—two or three, truth be told.  Hugs were shared.  What had been joking, and sad, and a little stilted though of course very well meaning and earnest all day—all week, really—became touching and real and momentous.

* * *

I have only met a few people in my life that touched me with their leaving.

Terry Schwadron, who I worked for at the Los Angeles Web site was one.  A special, special man who hid his caring behind a facade of always repeatedly asking you how you’re feeling to the point of absurdity—but when he left I realized he did it because he really did care about the people he knew, who worked for him and with him every day.  He cared and showed it, in a business world that doesn’t and doesn’t.

When Terry left, squeezed out in an awful way, it felt like I was punched in the stomach.

And Tracey Stock, my scout leader, who took a boy with a propensity for selfishness and arrogance, and helped turn up the gain in the part of me that should pay attention to others and the effects of my actions and words.  I still wrestle with these things, and think of his advice and example, almost every day—and the days I don’t, I should.

Tracey’s exit left a hole in my life the way blowing up a nuclear bomb underground leaves a void in the earth.

So for me to hope that I would touch my co-workers even a little like that—well, it was a goal, but like perfect SATs, it’s more of direction to aim than a target to hit.

But somehow, I guess I did create a bond with my own work friends these past four years, my smart, dedicated co-workers who are now the “well-at-my-old-job” people.

I’m now sitting in front of my Mac, listening to Green Day’s “Time of Your Life” and thinking how lucky I was to work with such people, and wondering how I can possibly again live up to being a leader such as they deserve, for anybody else.

I have spent so much effort and thought and energy and emotion trying to be a leader like the ones I have followed.  And today, my staff taught me a simple truth. Nothing is as important to being a good leader, as having the right people to lead.  If you have that, everything else is just pointing the direction and trying to keep up.



Previous entry:
Loh Ball

Next entry:
Bob Beamon’s Incredible Long Jump


“The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.”

...who said it?

“Almost every American I know does trade large portions of his life for entertainment, hour by weeknight hour, binge by Saturday binge, Facebook check by Facebook check. I’m one of them. In the course of writing this I’ve watched all 13 episodes of House of Cards and who knows how many more West Wing episodes, and I’ve spent any number of blurred hours falling down internet rabbit holes. All instead of reading, or writing, or working, or spending real time with people I love.”

...who said it?

“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

...who said it?

“I play with variables constantly.”

...who said it?

“Only the person who has learned Continual Love coming from a heart of Gratitude/Worship can effectively deal with the problem of loneliness.”

...who said it?




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