Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A New Chapter: Goodbye USA TODAY; Hello Gallup!

On Friday 23 May, I let my boss know at USA TODAY that after almost 20 years with this great company, I am leaving to join Gallup as a consultant.

I began working at USA TODAY in January of 1989 as a part-time Customer Service Representative shortly after I was laid-off from my data-entry job with the Washington Times.

At the time I was working on a degree in Management Information Systems. But when my dentist told me that I needed $1500 worth of dental work, I dropped out of school (it was my third degree anyway!) and became full-time so that I could get dental benefits! A year later I became a Customer Service Specialist and then I later became a Customer Service Supervisor. A few years into that, I decided to switch to a technical career within USA TODAY and became a Data Analyst, then a Database Administrator, then a Technical Manager. Then in 2002 I began working with a team of folks to roll out USA TODAY Subscriber Delivery Partners (which were usually other newspapers) first as a Circulation Manager and then finally as USA TODAY's National Home Delivery Circulation Manager also running a small group called Market Services.

It has been a wonderful ride.

The thing I'm most proud of is that we were able to expand USA TODAY's Home Delivery footprint from 20 million households to over 50 million households within a six year period.

A few years ago, I decided that I wanted to spend the rest of my life optimizing people systems for core value impact. I thoroughly enjoy reading about, writing about, and executing project management, conflict resolution, vision statement creation, running great meetings, in short all things org. And USA TODAY has provided me an optimal context to learn about these things and to practice them. I've written elsewhere about how much this has served me in ecclesial contexts. When I first came on staff at Cedar Ridge Community Church as a part-time small groups and adult education pastor in the late 90's, I used to say I didn't know if I had learned more about pastoring from seminary or from working for USA TODAY! And so with this decision to begin working to optimize people-systems, I started very intentionally looking for great organizations where I could do this. I never sent out my resume to tons of places, but over the course of maybe four years I worked to get jobs in just three organizations. I liked my job with USA TODAY; I wasn't in a great hurry, so I took my time looking. Gallup was the fourth organization I started looking seriously at about ten months ago.

A few years ago, USA TODAY began working with Gallup and their Q12 material (First Break all the Rules). Then about a year ago, USA TODAY asked me to become a Strengths Leader (Now Discover Your Strengths) working with my group - Market Services - and also with National Customer Service. I had the opportunity over the course of the year to teach the material and do one-on-one coaching, in addition to working with other USA TODAY directors and supervisors on their own coaching. I enjoyed it so much, I broached a conversation with Gallup about joining their team. After three months, testing, and six interviews, Gallup invited me to join their DC team a few weeks ago.

There may come an opportunity down the road for me to work some with the Gallup Faith group, though I also plan to continue writing for Leadership Network as long as they keep feeding me projects!

I begin 16 June and I'm very excited. I will miss my friends at USA TODAY and I told our director on the day I resigned that they have treated me like a prince.

I'm very grateful to both organizations and to God.


Darryl said...

Cool! God's blessing on you in this new chapter.

Anonymous said...

right on my brotha! glad someone is propelling the economy forward.


andrew (tallskinnykiwi) said...

well done. good job. enjoy the break and transition and get ready for a fast gallop into gallup.

do something crazy to mark the transition.

Shari said...

I am so proud of you!!!!!! Way to go! Run away before I get all silly and give you a bear hug! :-)

Anonymous said...

SS....Man what a ride!! Amazing stuff ahead!!!

God Bless


Stephen said...

thank you everyone!

kns said...

Congrats Stephen, couldn't happen to a better guy.

Todd Olthoff said...


This sounds like a perfect fit! It will be neat to see how this all plays into the personal vision for optimizing people-systems. Good for you! Gallup is lucky to have you my friend!

"Flip" M said...

Congratulations, Stephen! I haven't been in touch a lot lately, and I've been meaning to reach out to you and Beth and catch up sometime... Look for a call soon! :-)

sajid said...

Congrats and God's blessing on you. Take care

Steve K. said...

sheesh, can't believe I missed the "official" announcement, after all those weeks of foreshadowing on Twitter! ;-)

This is my "official" statement of congratulations, Stephen. Even though this means you won't be moving to Charlotte, which I would've preferred, I'm happy for you and yours. Blessings on everything!

Stephen said...

thanks to everyone!

steve, actually, I've just learned Gallup has people in Charlotte...