It was a cold and dreary Autumn day in 1987 as I found my way through Syracuse University for the first day of classes. As I settled into Maxwell Auditorium for Sociology 101, I vividly remember feeling very small in a world where most folks were on a first name basis. It was then that I noticed the kid sitting in front of me drawing an insanely talented render of the Tasmanian Devil in the margin of his notebook. I was fixated by the precision of his pen and found myself periodically checking on his progress throughout the lecture.
As class ended, I struck up the nerve to compliment this fellow on his artistic abilities. Kevin, a large but not particularly muscular person with no facial hair to speak of, was friendly and engaging as we swapped stories. I knew right away that I had my first college friend and, one semester of painful pledging later, we were roommates in the Zeta Psi fraternity house. I'll err to the side of discretion regarding the following few years but suffice to say that I've never had a better friend since. He is, save Ruby, the very best man that I've ever met.
After college, Kevin followed his heart and moved to Hollywood where he started his career at Creative Artists Agency. I moved to New York City and began my journey at Morgan Stanley. Our chosen professions were drastically different but we each found success and climbed the corporate ladders on either side of our country. The next fifteen years were a blur but the one constant--the one thing I could always rely on--was that Kevin was there for me in good times and bad.
Kevin moved back to the east coast and founded the digital marketing division for J Walter Thompson in 1998. The world's oldest advertising agency was behind the digital curve and quickly losing ground to upstart media concerns. Kevin, always a visionary, built his group into the world's tenth largest digital marketing services company. His efforts as CEO of connect@jwt won him critical acclaim in the media industry and the respect of his entertainment peers.
In the early days of Minyanville, as Casey Cannon and I shaped the critter vision, Kevin was always on the periphery with a helping hand. He was intrigued by the multimedia applications and the potential for the critters to pollinate across traditional media channels. He counseled me through the tough times, championed me during achievements and was steadfast in his belief of what Minyanville was and where it could go. It was validation, in many ways, as there are few people in this world who I respect more than I do him.
So why do I share this story with ye faithful?
Kevin Wassong, starting today, has assumed the role of President of Minyanville Publishing & Multimedia. This is a dream come true for me and a massive shot in the arm for the critters. I've always offered that my greatest strength is knowing my weaknesses and building a digital media franchise would be fertile ground. He has been there (done that) and will now manage the day-to-day operations while I focus on the content proposition and community networking. Best of all, I get to walk into the office each morning and share my journey with one of the best people I've ever met.
You're gonna see a lot of progress in the next few years and I wanted to "officially" introduce you to the man we call "Fish." Please join me in welcoming him to the City of Critters as we wish him continued success in his professional endeavors. I've long said that the ability to do what you love with people you respect and an eye on the greater good is a blessing. Today, above all others, I feel especially blessed for the good fortune that has come our way.
Fasten your seatbelts, Minyans, as the critter adventure has just stepped through the looking glass...