Up front: October 2011
Numbers have special power, not the least their ability to measure more precisely than words. Nowhere is this truer than in business, where language is blunted into jargon, ground down to buzzwords, with figures often the only tools that keep their edge. But numbers also can have special meaning that sum up more than mere count or amount. For me, 30 is one such, signifying both endings and beginnings, as well as endings that were beginnings.
When I started as a reporter in the late ’60s, old-timers still concluded their stories by typing – 30 –, origin of which was telegrapher shorthand for “end.” And 30 was the age at which I set out for a fellowship in New York, followed by five years as an editor at The Miami Herald, a journey that led me to know that where I wanted to go was the place I had left. That eventually brought me home, to this magazine, and a career chronicling my native state’s economic evolution.
In my first column as editor, I wrote this: “Even the most cursory examination of the state’s economy shows that change is something we all must face. It is not the most comfortable of conditions: With change comes uncertainty. Change also brings with it opportunity — for those brave enough, wise enough to make the most of its challenges.” Change remains the only constant, whether it’s Wachovia’s brand fading away after 132 years or United Technologies buying Goodrich, news that broke after we put to bed our feature on 30 influential business figures — one of them the Charlotte-based aerospace company’s CEO.
The number 30 on the cover of this issue is a testament to the vision of Whitney Shaw, who started this magazine three decades ago, and to the scores of people, staff members past and present, whose talent and toil sustained it. There have been so many who have done so much that listing them and their contributions would overflow this page. Would it border on blasphemy to say their name is legion? Because each of them worked like a demon to make BNC the best it could be.
But all their effort would have been in vain if not for those whose number is even greater: hundreds of advertisers and thousands of readers who supported us through good times and bad. A business magazine is first and foremost a business, one that is in no way immune to the forces that cause some ventures to succeed and others to fail. You’re the reason the 30 on the cover does not mean “end.” It marks another beginning, akin to what newspapermen typed at the end of each page to note that the story they were writing was not finished:
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— Ben Kinney