Sometimes I sits and think. Sometimes I just sits.

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By Greg Henderson, Founder
Southern Oregon Business Journal

2015-2020 SOBJ

The missing date of publication was an oversight, not since repeated. 

The first issue of the Southern Oregon Business Journal was released in July 2015.  Article topics included information about Oregon’s connection to the “Timber Belt”, mention of leadership responsibilities to “Delegate”, “Desalination”, “American Education”, and “Healthcare Finances”. It was a nervous start with concern that it would not be accepted by the three dozen friends and colleagues who were the test subjects of this eleven-month effort. Today, I believe they were far too kind in their praise for what they received. Some suggested minor changes but all were happy that finally there was a business journal for and about southern Oregon. Their encouragement provided the impetus to become official. On August 10, 2015 the Southern Oregon Business Journal LLC was listed with the Secretary of State as a legal entity.

To be introduced as the owner, president, or publisher of the Southern Oregon Business Journal became my tag. With it came a responsibility that was expected and accepted. Relevance, accuracy, honesty, integrity, fairness, timeliness, in support of business of all sizes, all were included in the promise to be as good as possible. The object was to be current in the subject matter, as unbiased as possible and to deliver a product written at a higher level than readers might find in other publications.

On October 1, 2015, evolution of the journal began almost immediately. On that morning a heavily armed shooter entered the campus of Umpqua Community College killing nine students and faculty and wounding eleven others. The shock sent waves across America. As a member of the UCC Foundation Board, my duties through the journal connection took on a much higher level of responsibility, a difficult welcome to the world of journalism.

It takes personal involvement to successfully lead any business; the Southern Oregon Business Journal is no different. On the horrific day of the shootings the journal and I became inseparable. People must have thought I spoke of nothing else. Mostly, they were right. Eighteen-hour days became the norm. I asked everyone how to make it better. All knew the mindset. There is no such thing as perfect, and good is not good enough. My habit was to be tough on everyone in what they contributed, but I was toughest on myself in every aspect of the creation.

At the age of 66 some were surprised at my decision to start the business journal. It quickly grew to shear delight, making me say that it should have been my primary career in the first place. The varied experiences of life since high school have been great contributors to the development and distribution of articles that have come from dozens of sources. The excitement of learning invokes a desire to learn more which can lead to unexpected meetings with authorities whose education and willingness to share expands the breadth and depth of quite interesting subjects.

But, carrying on with that would be boring. All of my successes should be credited to someone not me. My failures belong to me.

People I’ve had the pleasure (usually) of meeting have helped to set a rather high bar in knowledge, leadership, business achievement, and life in general. There is football hall of famer and Heisman Trophy winner Roger Staubach, a true gentleman and intelligent man. Having coffee at the kitchen table of Oregon Attorney General David Frohnmayer was a grand honor; besides, he endorsed me in a campaign to be an Oregon legislator.  A conversation with Zig Ziglar, one of the top motivational speakers of the 20th Century led me to take my communication skills in public speaking to a higher level. Having dinner with Frank Abagnale, Jr. was a thrill – he being the subject of the book and movie “Catch Me if You Can” was allegedly the most successful bank robber in American history. To hear the smooth, convincing, and likeable deception expert talk of his experiences forced me to be cautious in what or why I may be led to believe a certain thing. Standing around a campfire in a meeting with General Chuck Yeager was another thing, he the first to fly faster than the speed of sound. Perhaps the most self-confident person I’ve ever met, he had no fear of dying in his quest to do things unimaginable. Some say he inspired the movie starring Tom Cruise, “Top Gun”.

My advice to everyone is to take the opportunity to meet these types of people. You will grow from it in ways you won’t realize at the time of meeting. 

The Southern Oregon Business Journal developed from a single county publication in Douglas county to five in the first three months. Scalability was necessary and logical. It didn’t take long to advance the sphere of our reach to include the southern Oregon coast, south central Oregon and south eastern Oregon. Now, in 2020 the 15 counties served are geographically two-thirds of the state where 1.5 million people call home.

Years of banking and finance helped to develop an appreciation for business planning and financial awareness. By working with the Small Business Development Center in Roseburg we were able to understand better the processes and need for creating our own business plan. The diversity of industry sectors in the articles published each month helped to improve dramatically in Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. That means we can be found on the first page of an internet search provided continuous effort is put into this KPI (Key Performance Indicator).

In these five years sixty issues of the business journal have been produced containing nearly 1,000 articles about events or experiences of seventeen industry sectors. Constraints of time and space forced several dozen articles to be left out of publications that were of quality and value. Lessons learned along the way encourage consideration of making the articles more restrictive, a bad idea in most instances, or to expand the capacity of the journal. The choice to expand the content of our digital information, foregoing much of the print content, modernized it in obvious ways.

From the beginning advice has been on the table to be digital only, leaving behind a disappearing print relic that is too expensive and too inconvenient in the cyber world of the 21st century. I like holding the journal in my hand. There’s a comfortable and non-invasive feeling about it.

No plan was made to exit my focused involvement in the journal unless an international crisis happened. The fact that the health and economy of the world is in the throes of COVID19 is circumstantial to my reduced participation in the production of the monthly issues.

Jim Teece and I began a conversation about his participation in the publication over a year ago. By July of 2019 he became half owner of it. His long-term business activities and service on boards of directors and in the technology services industry made his inclusion a safe bet. He has added greatly to many aspects of this journalistic effort.

Effective June 30, 2020 I will bring to a close my tenure as the owner of the Southern Oregon Business Journal. Jim Teece will take the ownership reigns into the future. I am confident he and his staff will continue to provide a useful and relevant publication to the print and on-line subscribers of the journal. My presence may be felt with occasional articles of my own and through a blog site I am now preparing that plans to keep a finger on the pulse of southern Oregon’s industry sectors.

I am forever indebted to hundreds of people with whom I’ve come in contact around the two-thirds of the state we’ve served. You may find me in an occasional meeting, or as a guest speaker at a Chamber meeting, a Rotary Club, or sitting in on a non-profit discussion. Feel free to say hello or to send me a message.

Greg Henderson

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