Mark R. Howard
Rabbi Moshe Scheiner, leader of the Palm Beach Synagogue and a wonderful thinker and teacher, regularly records short commentaries that he posts on YouTube. His audience is primarily Jewish, but he consistently offers plenty of food for thought for anyone inclined to learn about faith and life.
Recently, he spoke of how the first instructions that the Jewish people got when they became free and left Egypt had to do with how to count months and years — counting time. In answering why that instruction was paramount, Rabbi Scheiner says there are three kinds of time.
The first, he says, is “restless time — time that we’re bored, going around aimlessly, not knowing what to do.” The second is productive time — “time that is used maximally, where you’re so busy that you have more things to do than the time allows.”
The third type of time — the ultimate form, Rabbi Scheiner says, is “redemptive time” — when we do things that have a transcendent impact, not just on our own lives but on the lives of others. “Because then we release and redeem the power and the potential of the moment” — and surpass the limitations of time, which, as he notes, is the greatest teacher of all, but one that ultimately kills all of its students.
For Rabbi Scheiner, redemptive time lies in making small steps in observance and learning that collectively leave an enduring effect. As I’ve moved toward retirement these past few months, I’ve thought a lot, in a more secular context, about how I’ve counted time over the past quarter-century and 11 months.
I have experienced a few restless, idle hours during my years at Florida Trend — putting golf balls down a 75-foot hallway at work with my managing editor comes to mind. And I think Trend’s edit staff and I have had plenty of productive time as well — somewhere north of 125 journalistic awards, and commercial success as well, perhaps the only real measure of a business’s value. At a time when other print publications have faltered or failed by failing to adapt their business models and journalistic styles to changing times, Florida Trend has been able to grow both its circulation and ad revenue.
As for redemptive time, I’m neither egotistical nor naive enough to think the magazine’s work over the past 25 years has made an earth-shattering difference in how Florida has evolved.
But I do think that we have spent our time — or tried to — in redemptive ways. In each issue, in each story, we’ve tried to provide a sober, uncynical, sophisticated alternative to the blizzard of misinformation, tripe and vitriol that has infused most daily media and social media, particularly in the past decade. We’ve tried to give our readers a fair, informed, reliable place to turn for an account of the people, issues and events that have defined Florida over the past 25 years. In my columns, I’ve tried to be more thought-provoking than preachy, and as challenging to the people I agree with as to those with different opinions.
Collectively, I think we at Trend have modeled an understanding of how to keep our craft a higher calling, one worthy of the status accorded to it in the U.S. Constitution as essential to the functioning of our democracy and civic life. I’m proud of that, and I wish more publications would aspire to do the same.
A comment I got from a reader years ago testified to the competence we’ve brought to at least some of our coverage: He told me he’d read a story about a company in the magazine. He didn’t know the company, he said, “but I know that industry, and whoever wrote that story understood that industry.”
We’ve also tried to be true to the magazine’s title, consistently reflecting the evolution and growing diversity of the state’s business community. Some have noticed: An attorney at a major firm in Southeast Florida, an African-American woman, pulled me aside after a roundtable event a decade ago and told me she had noticed more African-American faces and more women in Trend’s pages. She asked whether that was happening intentionally. I smiled at her. I was proud that she noticed. And I was proud that what she’d noticed had come about not as the result of an edict or some “inclusionary,” quota-driven corporate policy, but simply because we pay attention to what’s going on in the state’s business community and reflect that in our pages.
As executive editor, I get more than my share of credit. The plaudits belong most to the writers and others with whom I’ve been so fortunate to work: Lisa Gibbs, John Finotti, Barbara Miracle, Cynthia Barnett, Lilly Rockwell, Jason Garcia, Amy Martinez and our current powerhouse cadre of Art Levy, Amy Keller and Mike Vogel. John Annunziata, as skilled a managing editor and as good a friend as I could have wished to spend the past 20-plus years with, has kept us running on time, and with good humor. Gary Bernloehr, an artistic genius, has created a look and feel for the magazine that’s as compelling as any in the country. The publishers I’ve worked for — Lynda Keever, who put me in this job, Bruce Faulmann, Andy Corty and David Denor — have supported everything the editorial staff has tried to do, and they’ve even been amenable to business-related suggestions from the edit side, some of which actually generated revenue.
My successor, Vickie Chachere (pronounced Sasheree), is someone I admire and respect enormously. She’ll continue to elevate Trend’s aspirations and ensure that the magazine finds a new generation of readers. I’m grateful she was interested and willing to take on the job.
All these people have enriched my life beyond all measure, made me a better thinker, a better journalist, a better person. I’m proud of their work and its impact on the state, however that may be measured. I’m grateful as well to all the readers and advertisers who have supported Florida Trend and validated our approach to serving them. Trend is important to Florida, and I hope you will continue to read and advertise in the years to come.
And so, farewell. I’m off to my next chapter and new adventures.
For a quarter-century and 11 months, I’ve lived a life of abject professional luxury. I’ve come to work each day looking forward to working with people I admired and loved, in a workplace that has been kind and supportive, doing work I enjoyed that I felt was meaningful. My working life has left time for a healthy personal life — with plenty of room for family and friends and pastimes. And I have done my best to ensure that the people I worked with enjoyed that same luxury.
I hope that in some way it all meets the rabbi’s test for redemptive time. “Counting time,” he says, “means that not only do you count time, it means that you make sure that your time counts. And that your time leaves a mark. Not only on yourself, but on others.”
A good goal for us all.