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Laura Kessel is managing editor of The News-Herald in Willoughby. She writes a weekly column and shares her thoughts here.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Pleasure and pain in a single work day

I’m going to resist the urge to tie these events together.

As the old saying goes, “one of these things is NOT like the other.” That’s never been more true than in this column.

So, sit back and hold on as I take you through one day this week, with plenty of ups and a tragic, devastating low.

Furious, and loving it

A year ago this week, I listened to a teenager discuss how he and his friends had spent a recent evening.

They’d gathered together, formed a business, and decided how it would operate. The next day, something went wrong, and their workflow was disrupted.

The media wanted answers; so they decided to hold a news conference.

At the news conference, the media had so peppered them with questions and follow-ups that some of the businessmen and -women were reduced to tears.

With a description like that, I had to get in on the action!

Thus, this past Tuesday, News-Herald Staff Writer David S. Glasier and I drove over to Lake Erie College to get our shot at the latest business owners to work their way through the Learning About Business program.

About 65 students from Lake, Geauga, Cuyahoga and several other surrounding counties gather for a week of training in business. It’s just what the name says.

They meet business people. They learn personnel, management, operations and everything else involved in running a successful business.

One of the first people I encountered when we arrived Tuesday was a young man with a nametag that read “Furious Guerrieri.”

With his curly, jet black hair and height about two heads above mine, he instantly stood out. As he made his way past, greeting me with a hello and a thank you for coming, I inquired about his name.

He explained that his parents had named him after a character Laurence Fishburne played in “Boyz n the Hood.”

About an hour later, Furious and his fellow business owners took their turn at the company table in front of us and detailed how they were handling their problem.

The Concord Township resident was the company’s CEO and led his team through the questions we laid out.

The goal of the exercise is for the students to hold their own while not admitting wrongdoing. They should keep their cool. They should think out their answers but not take too long. And, they shouldn’t give us any information beyond what they’ve said in their opening statement.

In about 10 minutes of questions to Furious’ team, we got nothing. They stuck to their script, never hesitated and held their own.

Needless to say, when I saw him after the exercise, I had only one response:

“You made me so FURIOUS!”

I doubt I’m the first person to lay that joke on him. The Andrews Osborne student responded with a laugh and was thrilled with the feedback we offered. He also asked about feedback we’d given to other groups.

The program is filled with many inquisitive, adventurous and bright people just like Furious. They know programs like LAB give them a head start in the business world — up to two years before they head to college.

Among the CEOs of the LAB companies were plenty of young ladies, who managed the faux electric-car companies with flair. They were precise, professional and even-tempered.

Here’s hoping that someday, during their careers, someone like me won’t even feel the need to pick them out of a crowd for anything other than their excellence.

I certainly wouldn’t be FURIOUS about that.

(I had to!)

Goodbye, Michael

On Tuesday afternoon, as I was set to shut down my computer for the day and head to LAB, my email let out a familiar bing.

I looked over at the alert in the lower right-hand corner, and noticed it was from a familiar, friendly name.

Andre Parhamovich.

The box shows the sender’s name, the words in the subject line and usually part of the first sentence of the email.

In my hurry, I noted Andre’s name and that the subject said “Michael Hastings.”

“Oh, Michael must be coming to town for the golf outing next month,” I said as I clicked the box to reveal what was in the email.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

“Michael was killed in a car accident this morning — my family is devastated.”

Hastings became a friend of The News-Herald after the death of Andre’s daughter, Andrea, in January 2007 in Iraq.

When we received news of Andi’s death, we heard she’d followed her boyfriend (and later fiancee), who was based there as a correspondent for Newsweek.

He became the voice of the early stories we wrote about the death of the Perry native.

Over the years, I’ve seen him many times, as he returned to Ohio to take part in the annual Andi Foundation golf outings. He learned to play golf so he could take part and seemed to relish his chances to hit the links and relax with family and friends.

Every time I saw him, he’d walk over and give me a hug, and then sit down to talk about his work and ask about mine.

One year, we discussed his departure from Newsweek to write a book about Andi’s death, “I Lost My Love in Baghdad.” One year, I started the conversation asking about whether he’d ever get another embed assignment after his article that detailed former Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s remarks about President Barack Obama.

The last time I saw him, he’d gone to work for Buzzfeed, an Internet-based news organization.

The next outing is July 13, and Michael won’t be there, because he died early Tuesday in a car crash in Los Angeles, where he was living while working on a story.

I lost a friend. The Parhamoviches lost family.

Journalism lost an old-style reporter who wasn’t afraid to find and tell the truth, no matter what people thought of him.

Rest easy, Michael. The work will go on, and we’ll remember the lessons you taught us.
Twitter: @Lauranh


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