T his is not a full autobiography, so suffice it to say, the relevant part of my life began when I gave up baseball, started following the Watergate hearings, and went to university to study business and politics, or more precisely, Public Administration.
New York City (my hometown, of sorts) had just narrowly escaped bankruptcy and, with an interest in politics, I thought Public Administration seemed an interesting and logical subject.
Fortuitously (but only in hindsight), my plans were disrupted as I read the first half of John Kenneth Galbraith’s book Money: Whence It Came, Where It Went during my first year of college at the same time I was taking an Introduction to Philosophy course. For those of you who have yet to pick up his book, Galbraith graciously explains that money is a multi-level abstraction built on a fickle social order and so far removed from real value that it’s a wonder we survive (or something like that).
So after graduating in philosophy (with some accounting and economics), I became a business reporter to help explain all this to the world.
From there, my life is pretty much a series of intersecting straight lines. I spent 12 years as a business reporter and editor at four newspapers, including The Sun in Baltimore and The New York Times in the Dallas bureau. I then spent another 12 years at MBNA America Bank, the largest independent credit card issuer in the world and the pioneer of affinity card marketing, where I was Director of Corporate Communications, National Sales Director for Mexico, and Director of Commercial Cards in Europe (after the bank was bought by Bank of America).
Throughout it all, I have also intermittently worked in, written about, studied, and condemned politics from inside and out. And beginning in 2009, I have been consulting, writing, editing, lecturing, TV presenting, marketing, and teaching here in Bucharest, Romania. (For a bit more detailed CV, you can visit my LinkedIn page, here.)
And I’ve discovered the wondrous thing about business (and life) is just how complex we make the simplest of things. I think Jim Ling of the former LTV Corp. probably expressed this best when, in an interview, I asked him (repeatedly) how he managed to make his small electronics shop into one of America’s largest conglomerates: Each time he answered, he just smiled and shrugged. “Money is fungible,” he kept repeating. It’s as simple as that.
So I’m still trying to explain, whether by consulting, teaching, or writing both business and fiction, which means there are too many days when I struggle to tell the difference between the two.