Like a lot of magazines, Inc. has one wall in the office dedicated to the issue in process. Each month, as pages are edited and designed, they're tacked up in the order in which they'll appear so that we can stand back, look, comment, and then get to work on what needs fixing. We consider the flow of the content (should the essay on intellectual property go between the cover story on hiring and the How I Did It with John Stallworth, or after Stallworth?), trying to gauge what serves the reader and the stories the best. We check the mix of articles: Are we giving our readers what they need? Are we missing something? Are we fulfilling our mission? Occasionally, as I stare at the wall, I become attached to a particular image or pullquote or headline and find myself going back to it simply to experience it again and again.
This month, it's the portrait of Fred Carl, the founder of the very successful company Viking Range, maker of the high-end stove found in serious kitchens (including the one in the White House) and the homes of the affluent. Well, not only these places. A donated Viking can also be found at the Cotton Row Club, a funky gentlemen's establishment in Greenwood, Mississippi, where Viking is headquartered, and others are scattered around that town in all sorts of places. Carl, you see, did not stop at creating a great company. He also decided to help return his small, a-bit-down-at-the-heels southern town to its former glory by taking it on as a project--renovating buildings and helping people build their own businesses. When I look at Carl's face on page 113, I see an entrepreneur with a clear, focused eye, someone who looks comfortable with himself and his place in the world, a person I would like to know. Greenwood is a long way from New York City, and I'll probably never get to sit down with Fred Carl in his office overlooking the Yazoo River. But I've got the wall, and during the past month I've been visiting this likable and admirable man quite a bit.