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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Down the Road I Go: A Personal Reflection on Leaving

Friends and Colleagues,

Today is my last day in the office; I will depart Thomas Nelson a little later in the month but will office from home for the rest of my tenure.  My departments need to focus on their respective new leadership and figure out how they will work together: that won't happen with me still in the office and available.  If you are in the office today feel free to come by if you like; I'll be finishing up a few odds and ends and should have time for farewells.

As for leaving Thomas Nelson after almost 12 years I am excited, and a little sad, but mostly excited.  To paraphrase Reagan, I didn't leave Thomas Nelson, Thomas Nelson left me as it becomes a Harper Collins brand name.  My role was to develop and uphold the Nelson culture although I was not alone in that duty. My departure at this moment in the integration with Zondervan beckons in the new Harper Collins Christian division and culture.  I came in a change agent and am leaving the same way I came in.

I came to Thomas Nelson in the spring of 2001.  I was recruited because the Company had many problems, among them being extremely high turnover (25% each year), low morale, a palpable sense of unfairness, and concerns over career paths, fair pay and poor benefits.  We fixed all that and for the last eight years less than 5% of our people left each year for other jobs.  Under Mike Hyatt's leadership we ushered in a modern era embracing social media and a general modernization of our attitudes. Gone was the bunker mentality of "The world is no friend of Grace" and we actively engaged the market and the culture with authenticity.  We then entered the dark years of the recession and had sound leadership in Mark and Stuart who saw us through financial peril.  Last year was our best year ever.

All that is amazing as I look back on it, but it is not the most important evolution to me.  That one is my own.  I came here so long ago on a one year contract to fix the HR department, take a check, and ride off into the sunset. I came, a Catholic boy from the auto industry, with a stiff back and a corporate attitude completely focused on the business.  What I found were the most amazing people with whom I've ever had the pleasure of working.  My staying here these many years does not just reflect the passing of time, but my own personal and professional evolution from a change agent to a steward.  Upon leaving I am excited, and I am a little sad, but most of all I am grateful.

I came here to change Thomas Nelson and, along with the hard work of many others, we did. But it also changed me and for that you will all have a fond place in my heart always.

I'm not sure where the road takes me yet but there are many exciting possibilities.   Just seven days since getting the news that I wouldn't be part of the new company the market has warmly welcomed my resume.  I hope to stay in Nashville but some interesting possibilities have presented themselves elsewhere.  Bookmark this blog and I'll keep you posted on where I wind up and why. If you want to keep in touch send your contact information to me at:

jimthomason@bellsouth.net

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't reserve my highest gratitude to Sam Moore, who built The House we've lived in all these years and who took a chance on me in 2001.  Many will be in charge but there will only be one "Chief".

Peace and Blessing to you and your families.

Jim


1 comment:

Joan said...

Well said my sweet, dear friend. Many blessings are coming your way. You have indeed left your mark. Thinking of you and all of your com-padres this week. Godspeed to each and every one.