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In search of the good life.

Communication professionals work from urban townhouses and rural farms; they work in glitzy corporate towers and on cozy waterfront houseboats. They churn out employee news sheets and act out theatrical productions, oversee staffs of hundreds and rely solely on themselves. For the 20th anniversary of Communication World, we took a look at a few communicators who live and work outside the mainstream to see what the profession has to offer the inner self over the long run.

Herb McLean:

COMMUNICATOR/NATURALIST or veteran corporate communicator Herb McLean, life is and-as in the grand vista from his office on top of a 1,400-foot mountain on Orcas Island in the San Juan Island archipelago, about 100 miles northwest of Seattle, Wash.

McLean, 60, has lived on Orcas Island for the past six years, conducting a communication consulting service from his home with the aid of modem technology: fax machine, answering machine, two computers and printers, copy machine-"I'm quite automated, there's no way I could live here without automation." By contrast, his woodstove-heated home is at the end of a long, rough, heavily wooded rocky road. He has physical contact with the mainland by a ferry that delivers passengers right to the freeway.

McLean boasts "a rather checkered professional background." He started out in newspapers in Southern California, worked in corporate communication in California and Utah, owned an advertising agency in Utah for five years, and taught a magazine course at Brigham Young University. "It might not be the most lucrative work, but what I do now is what I really want to do," McLean said. "I have to work very hard, but I don't have the financial concerns out here that you do in the urban, corporate environment."

McLean's work today involves, primarily, freelance writing about forestry and aviation for several magazines, including American Forests and Forest World; as contributing editor to Rotor & Wing International and, for kicks, not cash, Law & Order. He also does occasional corporate consulting such as a recent project for U.S. Bank that involved writing a combined history of three banking organizations along with a slide-sound production that were the major pieces in a bank merger and transition process; and a centennial piece for the Seattle-Tacoma Box Co.

One reason that McLean and his wife-who works with him as editorial assistant, photo archivist and manager, researcher and support staff-moved to the great Northwest was to have access to Alaska for writing projects and personal exploration, McLean said. "I've been there about 30 times"-including a month-long trip to the Tongass Natural Forest, and two weeks at Valdez.

"I can see across Lopez Sound about 150 miles to the southeast-I can see the top of Mt. Rainier on the clearest mornings," said McLean. "I'm in heaven right here on earth."

Diane Chapin, ABC:

A SUBURBAN LIFESTYLE

There are more doctors, lawyers, dentists, Arab sheiks and horsebreeders than independent communicators in the tony "hunt country" of Potomac, Md. Long-time IABC member and corporate consultant Diane Chapin, ABC, 47, balances a successful career and comfortable family life in this posh Washington, DC suburb, thanks to her constant vigilance toward professionalism and the willingness of her husband to take on nontraditional roles in childcare and homemaking for the couple's three daughters.

"What's nice is that I sit in a large office at a lovely mahogany desk with a beautiful view from the window, said Chapin, who went into business for herself in 1977 but had a separate office in downtown Washington, DC until last year. She decided to work from home when "I realized that the cost of rental space downtown, in view of the number of hours and days I would have had to work to cover that expense, was ridiculous."

"Home" is a spacious, three-story house, complete with horseshoe drive, garage, front yard and open ground in the back, on a quiet street off a two-lane road that winds gently past the sprawling horse farms and mansions of the old and nouveau riche, five miles from the Washington Beltway and about two miles from Potomac's town center. Inside, the furnishings are warm and comfortable, yet elegant, with few signs of the chaos that might be expected in a household that includes daughters ages 9, 13 and 15, along with six rambunctious cats.

Chapin's husband, Lewis, 70, a retired C&P Telephone Company executive who also works at home, "decided to stay home and took over management of hearth and home" when Diane decided to work full-time in 1984. "He does the car pools, most of the cooking, packing lunches for the kids," Chapin said. "He doesn't clean, do laundry, fix the girls' hair or take them clothes-shopping, but his handling everything else has freed me from needing a childcare worker at home and from a lot of the household stuff. He also has freed me from a lot of the guilt that women feel when they have both work and kids, which is most important. I'm free to pursue my career objectives. I've concluded that we can't have it all, but that I lead as close to a balanced life as one possibly can."

Chapin began working part-time as a consultant in 1977, after working full time as a public relations manager for C&P in Washington. "I felt I was missing something by being away from them so much," she recalled. She has worked full time since 1984 when her husband retired. Her husband's willingness to take on the "role reversal" of primary homemaker means that "I still have time to be active in church, be a full-time Brownie leader, serve on the YMCA board and continue my professional involvement. I do much of that in the time I would have spent commuting, if I had kept an office in downtown Washington."

Chapin specializes in corporate communication projects - writing assignments, communication audits, community relations, strategic planning, publications, etc.- for major companies, primarily Bell Atlantic, AT&T and the federal government. Because she has established a formal work space at home with professional linkages, her lifestyle is far more relaxed and comfortable - and lucrative - than it would be in a traditional full time commuting arrangement.

The decision to work from home was carefully considered, Chapin noted. "One of the parameters I set for myself when I moved my office into my home was that I had to have a professional space and set-up" she said. "I decided to try it for six months and see how it would work. I had to ask myself whether it would interfere with my client base, which was essentially downtown; whether I would lose contact with clients or lose jobs by being out of downtown; even whether I could work at home."

Chapin set up her office on the second floor of the family home. "I couldn't have my office in the mainstream of family life, so I put it on the top floor, out of the way and quiet," she said. "I gave up my guest

Bill Cunnea:

THESPIAN/FARMER

For corporate consultant and business thespian Bill Cunnea, he urban amenities necessary to his work are only a motorcycle ride away from a bucolic retreat in rural Wisconsin. room, which I dearly miss, but I was able to put together a businesslike setup." She has a separate phone line for business calls, a fax machine, copier, computer, laser printer, word processor, answering machine and messenger-service account, as well as the standard business supplies such as letterhead and business cards. She drives into Washington two or three times a week to meet with clients, but rarely spends full days in town and always structures those appointments around her work and family schedule.

"It has worked out quite well," Chapin said.

Cunnea, 43, left most of the corporate, urban rat race behind in 1988, when he bought an 80-year-old farmhouse 35 miles from Madison and put his worklife into a different gear. Before the move, he had spent about two years commuting from Chicago to Texas to "nurture" people and create a business environment for the communication department of an oil-industry manufacturing company being taken public. At first, the project involved being in Texas from Monday through Friday; then, it started taking over his weekends, too. "I put together a kick-ass program and I was a little money machine, but I had no life," Cunnea recalled. "I did work on airplanes and late at night. I'd come home and spend what little time I did have unpacking, doing laundry, packing, and going back to the airport."

At some point, Cunnea decided that "if I was going to travel anyhow, why not to and from somewhere I could live and thrive in fantasy?" He spent a while "wandering around on my old motorcycle and one day just followed an old farm road that led to what is now my house. It's in rolling, hilly terrain with a 'crick' gurgling away all year long. I looked for a place no one knew-and I found it. Even people in other parts of Wisconsin don't know about Blanchardsville!"

Since he had reached a point where his work could be done and promoted from almost anywhere and his daughters were increasingly on their own, Cunnea made his move. The new lifestyle has its unexpected moments-"I have freshly caught trout for breakfast, pheasant and venison for dinner," Cunnea said. "My neighbors are dairy farmers. My best friends here are a couple in their late 40s who now raise sheep-this year, I helped with the lambing!"

The move to Wisconsin was not Cunnea's first leap away from corporate certainty; he launched Cunnea Strategic Communications & Business Theatre when his boss at Velsicol Chemical Corp. In downtown Chicago "took me out to lunch and wanted to make me director of communication," he said. "Familiarity with the subject was one thing, but I feel that if you do the same thing for more than a couple years, you lose your edge. I'd done everything I could there-brought in videos, bulletin boards, face-to-face meetings between employees and managers, quality publications. I was afraid I'd get bored. Living in a corporation becomes vital to people; I didn't want that." Rather than become part of management, Cunnea left and went out on his own.

Now, Cunnea works for several clients doing fairly standard corporate communication work and also doing improvisational business theatre, a communication genre he said "I think I created," in which he uses informal role-playing and characterizations to help corporate clients improve training and internal communication systems. Instead of a brochure, he has a videotape with vignettes of different projects to showcase his talents and the applications of his work. His concessions to modern technology include an answering machine, personal computer and video dubbing system; he does not have a fax. "I get a lot of my work through word-of-mouth referrals, which I find ironic in this age of fax and technology," he said.

The new lifestyle is working well, Cunnea said. "My attitude has always been that if you really want to do something, you can do it. I didn't want to wake up at age 65 saying 'I wish I had done this."'

Melanie Raskin:

WRITER/ACTRESS

Being an actress often means leading a life of frustration and deprivation, struggling for recognition and waiting for that big break. Combining business communication with acting has given Melanie Raskin a life that is just the opposite.

"This is fun!" said Raskin. "I work from our new home with seven windows from floor to ceiling and a family of squirrels watching me work!"

Raskin has been doing professional voice work and acting since 1977. She began incorporating public relations and script writing in 1982. "I've always entered speech contests and have been in radio work since I was 17," Raskin said. "I got into corporate training in 1980 by doing audio tapes for Hardee's (restaurants). At one point, I was the face and voice of Hardee's-I could walk into a Hardee's restaurant anywhere in the world and get great service!"

Raskin's work is built around the fact that "I'm the most average-looking woman my clients have ever seen," she said cheerfully. "They say I can be anything-I have the perfect retail face and voice." Being able to offer more than just acting, though, is what sets her apart and got her career going, she said. "I did one acting job for an insurance company and gave my card to one of their people," Raskin recalled. "She called me because of the "actress/writer" label on the card-and I got two writing jobs out of it."

Raskin gets many of her referrals for new projects from her affiliation with the IABC/North Carolina chapter, of which she is president for a second term. "I work on the love factor, she said. "I meet people at professional meetings, we like each other, then we work together. I capitalize on a great network of IABC, other writers' groups, even social settings. I've gotten assignments just by talking to people when we're out for the evening!"

One of Raskin's tenets is the Nietsche philosophy of "Is life not too short to bore ourselves?" A typical week involves a variety of projects: teaching creative writing to high school students, acting in a corporate video training for sewing machine operators, doing the voice for a real estate magazine's television commercial, and revising the script for a television college orientation program.

"I love what I do," Raskin said. "I just laugh all day long!"

Roger Haywood, ABC:

COMMUNICATOR/CAR COLLECTOR

Roger Haywood's over-the-top lifestyle combines two offices in England with home in a converted 17th century water mill and a collection of 10 antique exotic automobiles. In his spare time, he plays the sax.

A few years ago Haywood and his wife, Sandra, converted the 17th century water mill in the regional capital of Norwich in the eastern counties of England. The mill did not even have electricity or running water-apart from the historic river Yare, which it straddled and which could be seen running through the many holes in the floorboards. Shortly, it had been converted into a comfortable, informal home, with barely a right angle and acres of exposed beams.

The living room is an open space where the machinery originally operated and is some 40 feet square and complete with half a dozen cast-iron columns supporting the floors above. Indeed, the floors above the original grain bins have been converted into small bedrooms which accommodate the four children when they return on weekends.

From one unused end of the mill, Haywood operates the Norwich offices of his marketing communication consultancy.

The ground floor provides an enormous indoor open space to indulge one of his hobbies-car collecting. As he explains, "It is a little of a perverse blessing as every car collector will tell you that the number of vehicles expands to fill the amount of space available."

His current project is a 1939 Buick coupe-perhaps the only right hand drive example in the UK. This is currently awaiting restoration and will be following a couple of Rolls Royces, a Cadillac and a Bentley, which is nearing completion. It is a 1964 S2, which, "when completed, will probably be better than it was when delivered new."

In his time, he has owned an Aston Martin, Alvis, a Daimler, four or five Mercedes-and even a World War II DUKW amphibious craft.

Though cars are his hobby, he does use them occasionally for business. His Rolls Royce was used to pick up VIPs from the airport and also by clients as a prize in competitions-a day with a classic chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce. One American visitor was astonished to be picked up at the station by an authentic 1943 World War II jeep, in camouflage color, driven by Haywood's secretary.

Haywood now splits his time between the Norwich and London offices. By happy coincidence, in acquiring the London consultancy, the company also obtained the lease on a small seventeenth century building not far from Buckingham Palace. This is currently being renovated to create offices with a lot of period style. "We will have space for up to 30 people-though it may be a year or two before we get to that number."

One other hobby of Haywood's is that he plays the saxophone-as he explains, "very badly." "Like many communication specialists, I have been used by my clients as an after-dinner speaker, but there cannot be many who have been asked to bring their saxophone." He says he has always resisted this invitation and intends to keep his playing a deep dark secret.

Phil Frank:

CARTOONIST IN A PILOTHOUSE

Picture the typical corporate graphic artist: hunched over a drawing board in a windowless office, buried under a pile of sketches for dozens of uninspiring, cliched assignments and "grip-an' grin" photos; in a comer of the attic at home is the oil painting started five years ago that the artist thinks of as "my real work" and hasn't touched in months.

Professional cartoonist and clip-art distributor Phil Frank's lifestyle is considerably different. Frank draws the "Farley" cartoon strip which used to be syndicated nationally and now is an exclusive feature of the daily San Francisco Chronicle newspaper. Frank also has disseminated an annual book of corporate and newspaper clip art for 20 years. He does his creative work in a studio that is the pilothouse of a houseboat on the waterfront in Sausalito, Calif. He's there three days a week, in the company of his research books, drawing table, art table and "a little bed-the first thing I do when I get there is take a nap!" There is no phone and he usually keeps the shades drawn on the windows all around him because "the panoramic view can be pretty staggering and distracting."

When not working in splendid, waterborne isolation on the houseboat, Frank conducts the more mundane details of his business life from a studio at home. Home is a 1912 California Arts & Craft/Mission house in Sausalito overlooking the water, a couple blocks from the waterfront. His other projects include a weekly cartoon for Network World magazine, an every-other-week comic strip for Wine Spectator and a monthly feature in Road and Track.

Frank, 46, has been working independently since 1970, when he taught journalism and advertising at Michigan State University. He also had a corporate communication lifestyle at one point, working for Hallmark Cards for three years. His wife Susan also does communication work and has a studio at the house, but does most of her work at clients' offices.

"The pilothouse studio is where I write and draw when I want to be alone," Frank said. "It's like having a cabin five or 10 minutes away. It's hard being creative as a writer or artist in the midst of phones ringing and other people."

Rick Butterworth:

BUSY DROPOUT

For Canadian Rick Butterworth, 39, the communicator's lifestyle pretty laid-back and smalltown even when work demands are crazed and big-time.

In 1982, Butterworth moved his work and personal life from the hectic big city to the small-town environment of Perth, a city of 6,500 located between Ottawa and Toronto. He had been working for Metropolitan Life in Ottawa since 1975, moving from sales promotion as a designer to editing publications, to editing and producing the publications. He had joined Met Life after doing some freelance work for a real-estate company in the same building and doing freelance multimedia production work for the company; "I ended up as a supervisor," Butterworth said.

By 1982, however, corporate life had gotten a little harried and was becoming less fulfilling. Butterworth suffered three herniated discs in his back one New Year's Eve and "spent seven months flat on my back counting the dots on the ceiling," he said. "I had a lot of time to think about my life and realize that I had been less and less comfortable with it."

Butterworth had visited his brother, who had moved to Perth earlier, and "been quite taken with the area," he said. "Our parents also had retired there. They all were living this pleasant life on a lake."

He made the move and established his company initially "in a third-floor garret, with nine of us in 1,100 square feet," Butterworth said. He has since moved the company to an historic former Carnegie Library building and renovated about two-thirds of the 4,000-square-foot space.

Living and working in Perth has its drawbacks, Butterworth said. "I have to make some major daily trips to the city sometimes, so I try to gang appointments together," he said.

"There can be some pretty brutal days, but just because I've chosen to live this lifestyle shouldn't remove me from the realities of doing business. Some clients are antsy about dealing with a company that's 60 minutes from anywhere, but clients relax once they realize that we are accessible in person and from a distance." In fact, "our location makes us different," Butterworth said. "It creates a mystique."

The company uses fax and modem to communicate as needed: "We were one of the first to have a fax machine," Butterworth said. "People were beating our door down to use it. We've done projects where we never had a face-to-face meeting with the client."

The rewards of small-town life have been significant, Butterworth said. His company is thriving, with eight to 10 employees, its own building and a portfolio of major clients. His personal life also is thriving. "I have a real tough commute-five minutes from home to office on four or five miles of country road." He has been married 17 years and has two sons, ages 12 and 15.

For Butterworth, "it's easy to be part of a community when you're in the community; it's easy to get swallowed up in the city. I'm more involved in community activities now-I'm on the local hospital, tourism and business development committees of the Chamber of Commerce and I'll be chairman of the city's 175th anniversary celebration. It's a learning experience-and a lot of fun."

Bruni Nweman, ABC:

COMMUNICATOR/ARCHITECT

Bruno Newman, ABC, always was torn between a career in communication or one in architecture. And even though he now has no second thoughts about his professional career in communication, he knows that deep down he is a potential architect. That inclination was perhaps inherited, since he is related to the internationally known Pritzker Prize winner Luis Barragan; or perhaps it was due to a natural aesthetic which has allowed Newman to enjoy inventing spaces and then putting a personal touch to their design.

About two years ago, while driving on the streets of Mexico City's Roma district-which still stands out architecturally because of its numerous stately homes dating back to the Mexico of the 1920s and '30s, Newman and his daughters Barbara and Paulina discovered the home at 145 Colima Street. In addition to its authentic art nouveau style dating back to 1908, the home was both vacant and for sale. It was literally love at first sight. Since then, Newman has enjoyed enormously the careful and authentic restoration of the home, now one of six registered, authenticated "historical monuments"-genuine originals from their original era-in Mexico City.

Daily life at 145 Colima is permeated with the flavor of an earlier time, and provides interesting counterpoint to Newman's professional emphasis where contemporary art and design is his stock in trade. For the past 20 years, he has been a partner in Mexico's leading graphic design company.

The Zimat group of companies is comprised exclusively of firms specializing in the communication field, ranging from typesetting to graphic design, from editorial activities to the development of organizational processes and the design of full-service corporate communication programs.

So, in some ways, Newman's work in creating a communication company is similar to that of an architect-he has put together the many artistic services of the group to form a highly functional entity. A grand design by an architect at heart.

Richard Gorelick:

COMMUNICATOR/BARTENDER

Providing media services to a major cultural institution all week would seem like more than enough work for the average communicator. Richard Gorelick, media relations coordinator for the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore, MD., hangs up his suit on Fridays but keeps right on working through the weekend as a bartender at a neighborhood pub.

Gorelick, 29, has been with the Walters for two-and-a-half years and edited a local tourist publication before going to the gallery. He puts in at least one shift, usually Sunday brunch through dinner hour, at Regi's, a south Baltimore restaurant that caters to a diverse mix of middle-to upper-class locals, many of whom have been making the restaurant a regular haunt for years.

"I do the bartending mostly for the extra money," Gorelick said, "but it also gives me a chance to see if we're doing a good job in promoting the Walters. Talking to people at the bar allows me to find out firsthand how effective my media relations work really is, because the crowd at Regi's is typical of the people we try to reach. If they don't know what we're doing, we're in trouble."

Working the bar comes in handy in other areas related to his "real" career, Gorelick noted. "Right now, I'm starting to look for another position," he said. "The people who come into Regi's tend to be pretty well plugged into things. You never know-this might be one avenue of hearing about openings in communications!" Since Regi's regulars include the human-resources manager for a local newspaper, a marketing manager for a temporary-help agency, a successful photographer, and a number of other business people and entrepreneurs, Richard, the weekend bartender, may be just as well placed to hear about communication jobs as Richard, the weekday corporate communicator.

The Quality of Communicators' Lives

While it may seem that the business communicators living the most interesting or unusual lifestyles are the entrepreneurs, freelancers and independents, the corporate corridors have their rewards as well. Even communicators at the lower levels of management in large companies can point to lifestyles worth envying.

Consider IABC members whose very worksites offer a wealth of exotic possibilities-Madaline Lindy Chu, senior communications specialist in public relations for the Hawaii Visitors Bureau in Honolulu, Hawaii; Ria Dickson, consultant with Mercer-Fraser, based in Windsor, Berkshire, England; IABC members based in Paris, Rome, the Virgin Islands. There are those whose very role, while the work may be demanding and the hours grinding, contributes to making history-communicators in the White House, the houses of Parliament, the Supreme Court.

Think of those with substantial businesses and power as leaders in the field-Denny Griswold, grande dame of public relations and publisher of PR News newsletter, working and living in a posh townhouse on New York's East Side when she is not relaxing on a ranch in the US Southwest or dashing around the world to exotic locations to speak at international meetings or receive awards. There are communicators whose perks include huge "comer offices," access to the corporate jet, hobnobbing with the rich and famous, political leverage on all levels, personal fame and recognition.

Communication World reflects the changing lifestyles of its readers who are using the new technology to practice their craft in new ways and from many intriguing locations around the world.
COPYRIGHT 1990 International Association of Business Communicators
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:International Association of Business Communicators: 1970 - 1990: Section 2: Coming of Age; professional success outside the mainstream
Author:Thaler-Carter, Ruth E.
Publication:Communication World
Date:May 1, 1990
Words:4560
Previous Article:Public relations firms expand abroad as clients seek worldwide service.
Next Article:The great debate.
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