We became a better us

When he’s particularly engrossed in a topic of discussion, his glasses repeatedly go from the top of his head back down to his eyes.

Back and forth, back and forth. When this happens, you know he’s fully engaged and it’s time to pay attention.

He has particularly strong beliefs, when it comes to politics, the constitution, the workings of government on all levels . . . and this thing called a pipeline.

He’s certainly not afraid to speak his mind . . . and most definitely not scared to write about it.

He is actually physically color blind . . . yet he gets excited when the “colors really pop” in the design and printing of the newspaper.

He doesn’t like the word “no” . . . but he will embrace the term of “maybe” as long as there’s reasoning behind it.

He believes in the power of the press and the rights of free speech.

He also knows when maybe we’ve gone too far.

He embraces talent . . . no matter how raw, because he knows it can be cultivated.

He celebrates when growth is shown and people live up to their potential.

He doesn’t believe the world of the newspaper is dead . . . he lives and breathes the absolute contrary. He recognizes the challenges and triumphs of print media while being a visionary in our digital age . . . and the fact both can thrive hand in hand.

He has an innate ability to quietly manage, while at the same time building a level of respect from those who call him their boss.

He doesn’t have to yell . . . although he will if needed . . . to get his point across. Maybe that’s because we all have learned to listen when he speaks simply due to the fact we want to know what he has to say.

He takes his relationships very seriously . . . whether it is with someone who has worked for him for only a month or maybe a decade. His staff became a family of sorts, even though the members have changed often over the years.

He likes his publication to receive accolades . . . but measures diligence, self-motivation and personal/group pride as true successes.

He has an ability to pass along these values to other people.

He makes you want to be a better you.

Of course, I speak of our publisher, Greg Awtry.

He took our team from a world of uncertainty to a place of success and unprecedented evolution.

He opened our eyes to the new possibilities offered by technology . . . and innovative ways of thinking about our industry.

And just because he is moving on to the next phase of his career, that doesn’t mean we won’t be left with what we’ve gained and the ability to continue down the path he forged with us.

A few days ago, it was announced that Greg will be taking on the role of publisher in Scottsbluff. While we wish him well . . . and we truly do . . . I think I can safely say this staff is sad to say good-bye. Like I said earlier, we have become an interesting and eclectic family over the years with him at the helm.

I can personally say that my eyes have been opened as to what we can do in this industry. A print entity adding video news and online products? Who knew the growth in the digital world would be what it has become? Well, Greg did.

He has pushed for innovations in story telling through graphics and the ability to convey a message with creative lay-out.

He wants “the rest of the story” to be told . . . beyond the “he said, she said, he said, she said” method that I seem to specialize in. While I continue that method, I often hear his voice in my head saying there needs to be more . . . and so I try.

And somehow, in a world where printed products are said to be losing steam . . . we, here, have seen an incredible growth in subscribers, which is unheard of in today’s media culture.

Of course, there are the emotional ties we have with Greg. There wasn’t a dry eye in the building as he told us about our coming changes.

His office door is always open to all of us, for whatever reason we need to enter. Heck, sometimes there is a line to get in.

While we regret having to tell Greg good-bye, we can also let him go with the promise that we will continue what he started. Just because he will be leading a new team doesn’t mean we won’t keep moving forward . . . after all, we owe it to him (and ourselves) after all these years of effort.

So to the Scottsbluff bunch – congratulations. You are about to be led by one of the best publishers in the industry. He comes with new ideas and fresh thoughts . . . make sure to embrace them because we can testify he’s often been right.

And to Greg . . . thank you for everything. I’m not sure who is going to grill politicians with me in the next election cycle . . . but if I go it alone, at least I learned by watching the best (even though I cringed at times).

Thanks for the ideas we sometimes thought were crazy . . . for which we were later thankful because there was a great outcome.

I don’t really know exactly what it is about you, Greg, that made us succeed . . . I guess it’s that ambiguous term of “leadership” that only few understand and only a handful can actually achieve.

And in that role, there was a recurring theme that I think made us try harder.

Greg is that type of person who makes you want to be a better you. And because of it, we became a better us.

 

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