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Me and Norman

I teamed up with Norman Jacobs in 1972, and we launched a magazine publishing business that grew from one soap opera monthly to more than 20 newsstand titles – and beyond.

To begin with, we rented a small office at 34th and Madison Avenue, one block from the Empire State Building. We had a staff of zero – just the two of us, working at drawing tables, facing opposite directions, pasting up layouts with rubber cement (back when a MOUSE was a filthy rodent), telephone clamped between shoulder and ear, doing business with printers, advertisers, writers, the stat house and our national distributor – learning, planning, arguing, and always urging each other onward.

Except for designing, we totally didn’t know what we were doing. We were art directors, and neither of us had studied business, journalist or how to start a company with only $900. We spent every moment thinking about what we were doing and how we could do it better. Like Indiana Jones, we were “making it up as we go.”

Norm grew up on the streets of a Jewish/Italian Brooklyn neighborhood, and I grew up on a hillside of pecan trees in central Texas. I think we were fascinated with each other because we were such opposites. I know coming at things from different directions, often with volatile voices, was one of the prime assets of our partnership. Argument is good. Argument can promote thinking, build knowledge and yield better solutions.

That our differences generated frequent disagreement was of no concern to either of us. We were devoted to the same goal: building a business that would yield creative freedoms, entrepreneurial opportunities, and profits that could finance other fun projects that could make even more money.

 

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