For as long as I can remember, my father has communicated with me through newspaper clippings. This is not to say this is the only way we can talk — far from it, luckily — but my father is a voracious reader. He rarely appears in public without some form of newsprint poking out of his back pocket, and spends countless hours at the dining room table working his way through stacks of Wall Street Journals and back issues of the Economist. Armed with a red pen and a paper cutter, he creates messy stacks for me, my mother, and anyone else who has made it into his inner circle of newspaper clippings, and then stuffs them into envelopes (ones he’s recycled from credit card offers, usually, with clear plastic windows and the return labels crossed out) and puts them in the mail.
I love my dad’s articles, but there’s a problem: he tends to wait till the envelope is full (or, for that matter, he’ll let a stack of newspapers build up for months and then plow through them in an afternoon). So oftentimes, the articles are from several months — if not years — in the past. I’ve developed a quick test: if it’s yellowed around the edges, I make sure to check the date.
I bring this up because in the hands of a reader like my dad, the “email this” link on the computer is a dangerous tool. Can you imagine? No need to clip, no need to carry a pen — you just click and send. You could share hundreds of articles this way, maybe even thousands.
Luckily — and for reasons I don’t entirely understand — he holds himself back, and I only get a few forwards a week. This means that I actually read them. And there’s an additional benefit: timeliness. Take the article he sent me today, a profile from the Wall Street Journal of Sandra Peterson, the CEO of Bayer HealthCare’s medical division who “is credited with propelling the [company’s] diabetes business from a market laggard to a market leader in diabetes monitoring.” It was published today. As in, several hours ago. As far as I know, Sandra Peterson is both a. still CEO of the medical division and b. alive — and might still have time left to enact some of the business advice she dispenses in this interview.
It’s mostly about her overall career — and doesn’t focus much on diabetes. But here’s my take-away: the woman pulls in more than a half a million dollars a year (if not more) working on ways to help people with diabetes. Not a bad job — and it’s interesting to read about how she got it.