Many years ago, when I arrived in San Francisco as a new American, I encountered two newspapers that served this community of fewer than a million. The San Francisco Chronicle which was published in the AM and the Examiner which was published in the PM. The Chronicle was the most popular, perhaps because of a columnist by the name of Herb Caen, the Master of three-dot journalism, the west coast’s Walter Winchell who dominated the water cooler conversations of the day. He began to write for the Chronicle in 1930 but in 1950 he moved to the Examiner, following an argument with publisher William Hearst, and took with him thousands of readers. I found his daily 1,000 words in 1967 and became an instant fan. I wanted to be like him. I wanted to write for a living, about people and things all around and do so every day of my life.
But there was another guy I would like to have been if I could not be Herb Caen and that was Charles McCabe. McCabe published his 1.000 words in the afternoon paper, the Examiner and his rivalry with Caen was one of San Francisco’s best known. McCabe thought of Caen as a gossip columnist and Caen thought of McCabe…well, to be totally truthful Caen never thought much of McCabe. McCabe was San Francisco’s opinion of the world that day “any clog can have the facts but having an opinion is an art” was his most famous quote. I never did become a Caen or a McCabe, I moved from San Francisco, acquired an academic career and became an “expert”, you can’t write a general column if you are an expert. So I write a blog.
This is my first posting in my first blog. My blog is called Oohm, which stands for “Out of his mind” the title I would give a column if I ever had one. My wife said “Don’t you think that title might prejudice some people into not reading you?” She’s right. That’s why I made it Oohm, sounds like a mantra if you do meditation.
Oohm is about strategy in organization and leadership. BORING. Unless you are a Trustee, or an Executive, or an Alumnus, or a Faculty member in an institution of higher education. Then Oohm will be your essential reading as it addresses the latest development in Higher Education strategy, that is, how to compete for the students you want to attract to your place in a very dynamic global market.
My job is to look at how the players are lining up in the field and to study the plays. Then, using my expertise, translate those moves into strategies and counter strategies. Some I will discuss here others I will discuss only with my clients. But I won’t use 1,000 words, in today’s world that is too many words. Enough, you will hear me say, is the optimal amount. Less than enough is too little, more that enough is too much. Five hundred words seem enough.