Dean Richard Franza’s column appeared in the Sunday, March 28 edition of the Augusta Chronicle. The post can be viewed here.
On May 28, 2017, the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, I made my debut as a columnist in The Augusta Chronicle. Since then, I have been writing a column just about every other Sunday.
Well, folks, if you have read them all (and who really has besides me? Not even my family has!), welcome to my 100th column. As someone whose strongest skills have always been of the quantitative variety, my younger self would have been shocked to learn that someday I would write a regular column in a newspaper.
I thought that after almost four years and 100 columns, it is an appropriate time to look back at what I have tried to do in this column, and I will let you be the judge as to whether I have been successful.
As I was about to embark on my first column, my editor at the time, Damon Cline, and I sat down and discussed the goals for it. Cline encouraged me to write a column that would be of value to the Augusta business community. This meant focusing on important aspects of the business climate in Augusta, but also writing on topics that would be of value to business people anywhere.
Since I was new to my job as dean of the Hull College of Business, he reminded me that my column was not an outlet to primarily promote Hull and Augusta University, but I knew that even without promoting directly, the column could help the branding of our college in particular.
In the past couple of weeks, I have gone back and reviewed all of my columns to date, and I have found that a number of themes have pervaded my writing. I think that I have been true to Cline’s guidance, but I have promoted the Hull College regularly, always within the context of the greater “lesson” of the column.
I imagine you have learned much about me: that I love my family; I enjoy sports; and I often try to inject levity into many situations. I have tried to weave all of these into my columns, and here is what I tried to share with you:
1. The future of Augusta business is bright. My first column was headlined “A City on the Rise” and discussed my initial thoughts of the business landscape of Augusta and the surrounding area about 100 days into my tenure as dean. Almost four years later, the rise is continuing. We have stable elements of our economy in health care, the federal government (defense, energy), manufacturing and hospitality/tourism (highlighted by the Masters Tournament), but now we also have a growing area of cybersecurity and a beautiful minor league ballpark.
The future continues to get brighter for the area as Amazon is building two facilities in Columbia County, and Money magazine recently ranked Evans as the No. 11 Best Place to Live for 2020. In these past four years, I have written more than a dozen columns highlighting the great aspects of Augusta business.
2. Don’t just watch sports for entertainment. Sports provides many lessons for business. If you are a regular reader of my column, you can tell I am an avid sports fan. From baseball to college football and basketball to golf, I enjoy them all. But I also find sports a fertile ground for lessons that can be applied to business. Areas such as team construction through recruiting and drafting; team chemistry and fit; long-term vs. short-term decision-making and success; coaching; and leadership provide us great lessons that we can apply to business.
3. Practice what you preach (or teach!). As I indicated, Damon warned me against making my column an advertisement for Hull. However, what I found was that many of the lessons that I was providing for the businesses of Augusta were some of the same lessons that we had to apply as we led Hull and the same lessons we were teaching our students – lessons such as the importance of customer service; the value of networking; the need for sales and project management skills for all business people; the necessity of strategic planning and a long-term view; and developing and living your brand. It would have been hypocritical for me to tell you to do something that I was not doing myself.
4. We are needed as leaders. I have written often about leadership because I have a deep concern for the lack of leadership we are seeing, particularly in our politicians. I have tried to provide you some guidance on how to be better leaders, not only in your businesses but also in your families and communities. I hope my columns on ethics, respect for all others and accountability have struck a chord in many of you.
I hope I have provided you some value a couple of times every month. While most of the topics have been important, I have tried to inject an appropriate amount of levity at times. Writing this column is a labor of love and a cathartic experience for me, but most of all, my goal is to share value with readers. I appreciate the kind sentiments many of you have expressed, and thank you for reading.
Time to come up with a topic for No. 101!