Editor-in-Chief's Farewell

Somehow it doesn’t feel quite right. It may say “Editor-in-Chief” under my name, but the drive behind this year’s edition of The Harbus most definitely came from someone else – a person who revamped the design, content, and attitude of The Harbus in more ways than most people recognize. That person is Nicholas Allen Will (OI), who resigned as Editor-in-Chief on November 7th. I feel it fitting to intersperse some of Nick’s own thoughts and words throughout this collection of my own reflections, since this farewell should really be his.

In the beginning…
“Nick believes that The Harbus could play a strong role in spotlighting the personal experiences and views of students to help broaden the ‘human face of HBS’. He feels The Harbus could play a vital role in HBS community life by digging for as many facets and lenses as possible through which to see the school, and through which for us to see ourselves.” – from “New Faces in Gallatin Basement” by Prashant Agarwal (MBA ’02), published in The Harbus on December 12, 2001.

My own rise to the position of Editor-in-Chief was in many ways more dramatic than Nick’s, but I’ve managed to stay behind the scenes for the most part (though my plan of staying under the campus radar for my two-year stint at HBS has gone up in smoke and I didn’t even get a date out of it). Truth is, I haven’t had the time to even think of doing otherwise! To most MBA students, the words “multiple interviews” conjure up good thoughts about positive job prospects. Well, shortly after I became Editor-in-Chief there were interview requests coming in fast and furious – but of a different sort. One local radio station even managed to find my cell phone number and leave me a message. Unfortunately, these were not the type of interviews that would have resulted in gainful employment, so I decided to hold out and wait for a few of my favorite periodicals to call in order to give them the scoop. Some day Hefner, Guccione, and Flynt will regret not picking up the phone and dialing…

Reactions from my friends and colleagues were mixed. I received congratulations from some and concerned words of support from others, but perhaps most amusing were the typical reactions from those who know me best: “they put YOU in charge of the paper?” Some expected front-page rugby articles. Others expected me to flip the administration the bird. And, for some reason, quite a few people expected me to start publishing pornography – you know who you are. I quickly realized, however, that The Harbus’ core competency was not in smut, but in its fantastic team of editors. And so I decided that my brief term as Editor-in-Chief would be hallmarked not by iron-fist governance, but by working closely with my colleagues – and friends – on the editorial board. Could I have done things differently? Absolutely. Would the benefits have outweighed the costs? Unlikely.

And fire made it good…
“Finally, a note of continued thanks: by allowing an independent organization such as The Harbus to both operate and distribute our paper on campus with no official oversight beyond that of self-governing students, the Harvard Business School administration shows extraordinary forbearance and trust in our Editorial team and the independent voices in our student body. The administration’s support is a testimony to the values they challenge us as students to espouse, and for this they deserve our abiding respect and gratitude.”- from “Welcome to The Harbus, Your ‘Other’ Section” by Nick Will, published in The Harbus on September 3, 2002.

One of the things I’ve learned in the past several weeks is that, much to my surprise, people actually read The Harbus! Not just students, but especially faculty, staff, and members of the administration. I remember fondly my FRC professor Asis Martinez-Jerez for, among other things, referring to my sectionmates and me by the nicknames I had given us in an IM soccer writeup, published just that morning in The Harbus. But only a few people in class understood what the heck was going on, and other professors never used this trick, so I surmised that most people on campus just picked up the paper and leafed through it, never having much interest in the articles unless it was about their section ski trip. Recent events have disproved this theory, though I must admit I’m pretty glad that apparently nobody does read Sports & Health. (See my farewell as Sports & Health Editor in that section…it’s the one all the way in the back.)

Here’s one thought I’d like every one of our readers to take home, put under their pillow, and sleep on: learn to give – and take – criticism as a means for improvement, not as an insult. There’s a difference between saying (hypothetically speaking), “Spangler pizza tastes like cardboard” and “Perhaps Spangler pizza would taste better with higher quality dough, sauce and toppings.” But there is also a difference on the receiving end – of both of those prior statements – between hearing “that person says my product is bad” and “perhaps I can improve my product so that person will like it.” Food for thought.

An ending; a beginning
“Now on with our journey. None of us knows what this year will bring. But each of us knows we won’t be in it alone, and The Harbus hopes to be a gathering place for the ideas, passions, and laughter of a community that walks through it together.” – from “Welcome from the Editor in Chief” by Nick Will, published in The Harbus on January 14, 2002.

It is indeed time to move on. Come January, The Harbus will be in the hands of the RC, led by incoming Editor-in-Chief Allen Narcisse (NJ). I, on the other hand, will become once again just a humble reader (though a well-tanned one after four weeks of vacation in Australia). But before I go, I want to share one final learning: it’s hard damn work making The Harbus look so good! And so I would like to give thanks where thanks are due. To the following:

My fellow Editors: Damien Coady (OJ), Hashem Montasser (OH), Daniel Pullin (OA), Zibby Schwarzman (OB), Michelle Shell (OD), Matt Stovcsik (OI), and former Editor-in-Chief Nick Will (OI). You have helped make my experience at HBS a memorable and rewarding one, and I hope you are as proud of our legacy with The Harbus as I am. Thank you for your hard work and endless devotion.

Our Featured Columnists and other contributors, of whom there are too many to list here by name. Thank you for sharing your words with us.

The Board of the Harbus News Corporation (including the Harbus Reps). Thank you for your support and assistance, especially Board Chairman Todd Krizelman (OC) who has helped tremendously behind the scenes.

Delivering the product… Publisher Susan Kim (OC) and CIO Ankur Agrawal (OI). Thank you for your hard work behind the scenes, making sure the Harbus reaches its audience both in print and online.

Running the business… Cristen Calamari, Meg Dolan, and Jennifer Henry – partners one and all! Thank you for your persistence in keeping the paper afloat.

Turning text into art… Thank you to Jessica Brilli and Karen Hendrickson, whose talents in layout and design turn The Harbus into a work of art.

And last but not least, I would like to thank YOU, our loyal readers. Even if you don’t bother reading Sports & Health.

Derek Mendez