Wednesday, January 10, 2007

'You damn kids don't understand the mathematics'

I can still hear Larry marching into the production room proclaiming that “you damn kids don't understand the mathematics” of how the paper is put together. He was right, of course. It always seemed easier to just do what our predecessors had done (headlines were this size, photos had to go here) without understanding why. At some point, I realized it would be easier to stop getting berated and actually learn something.

When I became an attorney, the easy thing to do was simply to take a form contract and mark it up to reflect what I was working on. But of course, I would hear Larry telling me I didn't understand the mathematics. So I took it upon myself to learn why a provision was there and I became a better lawyer. When I switched careers and began managing money, it was always easy to shy away from an investment that was too complex. And there was Larry in my head, telling me I didn't understand the mathematics — unwittingly pointing me to ways to make more money for my investors.

Getting a Princeton degree was nice, but it didn't compare to Larry looking at me suspiciously on my last night on duty and saying “you know, you weren't the worst chairman in the history of the paper.” That to me was an honor.

— Marc Sole ’03, editor-in-chief emeritus


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