It has taken me well over a month to actually blog about the death of my friend and colleague Roger Waynick, and his contribution to WordStream Publishing.
Here it goes . . . (This is a longer-than-usual one, but I know you can handle it).
On February 17, I posted a few words about how important it is to “invent opportunities.” (Inventing Opportunities blog post from Feb. 17). In that post, I mentioned “some great opportunities and partnerships have come along.” I was specifically speaking about the partnership I was able to forge with Roger Waynick, and what he gave to WordStream Publishing and to me personally.
Roger’s publishing ventures included the very successful Cool Springs Press, the well- known gardening publisher. While working for Ingram Publisher Services, I was the Publishing Account Manager for Cool Springs Press, and I got to know Roger well. Roger was quirky, he didn’t always play by the rules, and being the Cool Springs Press account manager was not stress free. But, as I got to know Roger, I saw how it was actually his quirkiness and disinterest in doing things “by the book” that made him so endearing. Of course, that infuriated people who saw things differently.
I have heard a couple of publishing professionals say that Roger wasted time on too many “side projects.” In fact, when I was an IPS account manager, I know I often agreed, thinking he should focus on Cool Springs Press books and Cool Springs Press books alone. But, after leaving IPS and starting WordStream, I got to know Roger in a new way, in a new setting. Roger was one of the publishing professionals I occasionally called, to hear and compare various thoughts. He was creative and innovative, and he thought outside the box. I think he saw that I was also trying to color outside the lines too, and we agreed that was the way to eventually survive in publishing, especially in order to serve lesser known authors, writing on niche topics.
A little recent history: In the beginning of 2011, Roger asked if I would take on the task of reviving one of his little “side projects,” Common Thread Media, with its tagline of “helping faith flourish.” (See the CTM website). This was a publishing venture that many saw as a waste of time. But, Roger saw it as “missional” and meaningful. I agreed. I heard him say several times how Common Thread Media was one of those things that he had wanted to do to make his publishing work more significant. Unfortunately, because of many company transitions and problems, Common Thread Media really never got off of the ground when they first tried. Roger wanted me to work on reviving it, improve the presence of the existing books for consumers, acquire new authors for future projects. I was thrilled to take on the task, as he also pledged to help WordStream along the way. The arrangement we came up with was mutually beneficial for both companies, and for me personally and professionally.
We made great strides in a short time, and together we were able to fix problems in data feeds for existing Common Thread Media books: God, Cornbread, and Elvis and What Now? While Roger focused on Cool Springs Press, I focused on Common Thread Media, and he seemed pleased with the progress. We had even talked a bit about officially merging WordStream and Common Thread Media.
On March 22, Roger suffered what appeared to be a massive stroke and died. Very unexpected. Very shocking. He leaves behind a fabulous family, whom I have enjoyed getting to know. I can not imagine the pain and grief they are experiencing. I only know — to a much smaller degree, I am sure — how much I miss him and how much I miss working with him. In a short time, Roger reminded me of my own calling as a minister, and he reminded me that I could in fact combine both of my interests: publishing & communications and ministry. I will forever be grateful for that.
I will forever be grateful for Roger Waynick, who taught me that it truly is more important to waste time on the side projects. In a blink, it can be gone. Be significant. Be purposeful. Do things that are driven by call more than by profit.
Roger will be remembered by most as the “think-outside-the-box gardening publisher.” Some will remember tense business meetings about focus and profits. Some will remember what appeared to them as “wasted time.” But, regardless of what others remember, I will remember him as the man with the big heart, who helped me remember to put family HIGH on the priority list and who helped me find my ministry calling again, reminding me that ministry and publishing do not have to be mutually exclusive. (I am searching for another great fit like the one Roger provided).
My closing thought: If you want to know somebody, don’t just look at what they do, but what they do on the side.
– Marti Williams