Wednesday, September 19, 2007

At odds with my hometown

Well, it's been several weeks since I've heard from my major client of recent months, so I think this a timely juncture at which to ask this genteel question:

What in Hell is wrong with New York City-based companies?

I've worked for many companies and organizations based in the Rotten Apple over the years--as both an employee and a contractor. Only one of those experiences--the very first--can be described as positive.

Overall, I find an extraordinarily high level of drama, neuroses and conflict when I deal with New Yorkers. When working with my latest client--a magazine publisher that will otherwise remain unidentified--I dealt primarily with two people who actively disliked each other and worked at cross-purposes, effectively undermining each other's efforts. My contacts were almost stereotypical New Yorkers too--very high energy, disorganized, more than a bit weird and heavily invested in the job at the expense of everything else (read that as business emails sent at midnight--on Saturdays and Sundays).

The one saving grace was that, as a contractor, I was able to charge more when efforts were complicated and duplicated. The situation would have been intolerable if I were an employee.

I'd write it off as the luck of the draw if it weren't for two decades of similar experiences.

Two decades? So why do I keep going back for more abuse?

Errr. Good question. The fact is that there are a lot of companies based in NYC, and they tend to pay better than businesses elsewhere. Also, I'm a former New Yorker myself, and I still have contacts in that city. It's hard to turn my back on lucrative projects from my hometown.

Also, I did have that one good experience with a New York-based company--and I have had an occasional bad experience with clients based elsewhere.

I wonder how much of the discomfort I have with New York clients has been the cultural transition I've personally made over the past ten years. Despite my upbringing in and around that city, I now have far less in common in terms of values and attitudes with New Yorkers than I do with folks from that great unknown area between the Hudson River and the California border.

Yeah, I've changed. But New Yorkers are nuts.



Anonymous Paul said...

While I know this blog entry speaks to the craziness of New York companies/publishers, might I add that the publishing world itself has gone crazy? Working for a major publisher as I do, I can't explain the daily disarray, "controlled" chaos, and miscommunications that somehow manage to support the company I work for. Maybe this is how large companies operate, but I doubt it: a vacuum of feedback that praises the average, encourages the ordinary, and expects the impossible. On a daily basis, I'm shocked by the blind decisions and rampant indecisions that affect the course of our K-6 reading program. Of course I'm upset, but it seems to be a problem across the board: Harcourt, Houghton, etc. The educational publishing world is quickly contracting and you can practically hear the rats fleeing the sinking ship right now. The publishing world is currently, quite frankly, insane. End of rant, but they're located in NYC nonetheless. Guilty as charged? ;)

September 20, 2007 7:03 PM  
Blogger J.D. Tuccille said...


I'm sure you're right--the publishing industry as a whole is in turmoil. Changing technology, a shifting market and management seemingly incapable of meeting these challenges have everybody running scared. Book publishing was hit first, but magazine publishing is playing catch-up in the race for the bottom.

But I'll be the New York connection makes everything just a tad crazier. ;)

September 20, 2007 8:37 PM  

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