The Best Is Yet to Come

Paul Reuter, Founder and former CEO, CSP

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On July 3 in CSP Daily News, we ran a column I wrote that announced that after 22 years almost to the week, I was turning the leadership of CSP over to Mike Wood Jr. He and his father, Mike Wood Sr., will lead CSP Business Media. Mike Wood Jr. is the new CEO, and Mike Wood Sr. is the new chairman. (See the full story about the acquisition in this issue on p. 18.)

One of the many advantages of my job over the nearly four decades of meeting great leaders and studying and great companies is what it has taught me.

A key learning: Embrace change. So for some time, I have been working on how to transition my leadership.

CSP has a first-class team, working in fast-paced, exciting industries. That team has innovated a very successful mix of products and brands.

So my job as I saw it was to find a path for them that included leadership energy, passion and resources needed to grow in these very exciting times we’re navigating. The Woods bring all those ingredients, and far more.

I will become a member of the board and an investor, and hold the role of chairman emeritus/contributing editor.

I’ve been contemplating this change for about a year and a half. I counseled with several close friends, read up on the topic and talked with many others who have traveled this road. I must say that as much as I was prepared, I was still surprised at what I have experienced and learned since the announcement. Let me share a few highlights:

The industry feedback has been overwhelming. You told me about the high regard and value you have for the CSP team and our brand.

The CSP team, like me, feels the transition is bittersweet, but they believe I made the best decision possible for them and all concerned. They trust this decision.

Many at CSP told me they are grateful for the company they are part of, and for our culture. Many more have told me that they have grown personally and professionally, and are better people today, because of what they’ve experienced while working for CSP.

It was with tongue in cheek that one industry person said to me, “OK, you must be rich now!” Well, I will say that, yes, my ROI from the past 22 years will keep me off unemployment benefits. I am thankful that we live in this free country that affords us all the opportunity to work hard and succeed. But frankly, no amount of money could come close to the wealth I have received these past weeks from so many.

A few months ago, one of our board members asked me how I was feeling about the transition. Well, I told him it’s like when my children went off to college or, more so, when I gave each of my three daughters’ hands away in marriage. As a father you cannot help but feel joy for what’s ahead for them, but you also know things will no longer be the same.

As I worked on this transition plan for the past year or so, many advised me to prepare myself for seller’s remorse. Some even said I could easily feel depressed after letting go.

Well, yes. Candidly, some mood swings have come my way. However, the strong medicine I have to fight this is just what the doctor ordered—and it’s all of your messages! I read them and felt good very quickly. They tell me this was just so right to do at this point in my life.

And finally, on the subject of what’s ahead: Well, “retirement” is the wrong word. Being retired just does not work for me. It is not only imprecise, but it also deflates. It was a word for my grandparents, not me. And it just means “tired” to me.

I like this period. My son-in-law Cory wrote me, “No doubt for you, Paul, the sale of your company will be no denouement. So enjoy you will, as will we with you, all we can, in whatever you do or don’t do, in your healthy, loving and joy-filled ‘revitalment.’

”So now, considering I am officially in the revitalization period, write me [email protected] whenever you’d like to check in or share any good news of your own!

I have no doubt that the best is yet to come for CSP, the industries we serve and me personally. So thanks to so many I need to thank, and thank some more. I look forward to seeing you around our “industry campus.”

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