Inc. has its heroes, and those of you who've been reading the magazine a while can probably name a few. Jack Stack, father of open-book management. Bernie Marcus, a founder of Home Depot. Scott Cook of Intuit. Norm Brodsky. These are some of our guys. Though business magazines generally have been less hospitable to women (for a variety of reasons I won't go into now), Inc. also has its heroines. One of them is Gert Boyle.
I came across Ms. Boyle in the first issue of Inc. I ever read, in a 1992 article entitled "Why Family Businesses Are Best." That story mentioned Columbia Sportswear's groundbreaking tongue-in-cheek ad campaign, which extolled "the finickiness of the company's chairwoman, 'Mother Gert Boyle,' and the attempts by her son--company president Tim Boyle--to placate her." In 1998, Mother Boyle was back, in an article updating readers on another successful series of ads featuring the redoubtable chairwoman. And now, eight years later to the month, she's returned as the subject of our regular profile, "How I Did It."
Gert Boyle is one of those people I can't get enough of--the way readers of People magazine can't get enough of Jennifer Aniston and Princess Di. Unlike those two, however, she is a Character: feisty, funny, sharp as a tack. One of the great benefits of entrepreneurship is the ability to create a world in your own image and be true to yourself. Tell me, who's done that better than Mother Boyle?
In the spirit of the old Girl Scout song that advised us to "make new friends, but keep the old," I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Adam Hanft for his clever words and smart thinking, which he shared with us monthly for three years in Grist, his back-page column. Adam's byline will continue to appear in Inc. and, of course, on Inc.com. But this month we inaugurate a new back page called The Office. To forestall charges of shameless piggybacking, let me just say that we looked long and hard for a title that did not mirror the excellent NBC (or even better BBC) comedy. But our column is about the office: a place full of mysterious, unspoken rituals and pitfalls for the CEO. Any other title would have been less accurate. So "The Office" it is.
The Office is written by Leigh Buchanan, who joined Inc. in 1997, left in 2003 to become an editor at the Harvard Business Review, and returned, just recently, to loud huzzahs from all of us. I think you'll see that she shares certain character traits with Gert Boyle.