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On the Job with Scott Brooks

Scott Brooks is the director of sales and marketing for The Albany Herald.

Scott Brooks is the director of sales and marketing for The Albany Herald.

DOSSIER

NAME: Scott Brooks

AGE: 51

POSITION: Director, sales and marketing, The Albany Herald

FAMILY: Three children: Shane, 27, Lauren, 25, and Sammy, 8

EDUCATION: Faulkner University, Montgomery, Ala.

ALBANY — Although he describes his entry into the business as a fluke, Scott Brooks says he cannot imagine doing anything outside the newspaper business.

Brooks is director of sales and marketing for The Albany Herald. He joined the company in April to head up the advertising and circulation departments.

Brooks completed this question-and-answer session with reporter Jim West.

Q. What was your first job?

A. I was a stock boy at Kmart back in the late ‘70s in Corona, Calif., when I was 16 or 17 years old.

Q. What was the first thing you spent money on when you received your first-ever paycheck?

A. I spent money on a little Toyota Celica I had and probably an 8-track tape, as I recall.

Q. What’s the single most effective technique you have found over the past two years for keeping employees motivated?

A. I think getting to know them, understanding what motivates them on an individual level, then supplying them with tools and techniques to do their jobs, get rewarded, get feedback and that sort of thing. Really, knowing them is the key.

Q. What led you to your current position? Why did you want to be in the newspaper business?

A. It’s the only thing I’ve done since getting out of college in the ‘80s. I’ve been a newspaper guy since then and it’s something I know, something I enjoy, something I excel at and look forward to doing every day. It was a fluke getting the job out of college, but once I got it I’ve stuck with it.

Q. Do you have a role model or mentor in your career?

A. I do. A couple of guys I worked for — my first job — my supervisor, and one of the directors I worked for. Those guys shaped my passion for developing great relationships and the creativity to solve difficult business challenges. One is deceased now, and the other is still doing well in Alabama.

Q. What is the biggest lesson you as a business leader learned from the recent recession?

A. That you’d better have a plan in place to really be a part of what your customers and advertisers need. So establishing rapport, relationships, strategies that truly help them — almost be a necessity for them. That’s key.

Q. If you could turn the clock back on one aspect of technology – examples email, automated phone systems, cellphones, PDAs, etc. – what would you most like to see go away?

A. I think we’ve lost the ability and the desire to communicate face to face. I think eye contact and really listening to people has been mitigated by these technologies. Still, I love technology, and I love the way it helps us, but at the same time it’s made it a colder kind of world, I think.

Q. What is your favorite work-related gadget?

A. I couldn’t survive without the iPhone and all that it allows me to do. Like most people, it’s key to my existence.

Q. What is your favorite tradition?

A. On a personal side, I’m certainly traditional since family is important, holidays are important, going to ball games is important — those kinds of things. I reflect back on my childhood, and that’s how I was raised. In that sense, I’m very traditional.

Q. What was the last book you read? Do you have things you read daily or regularly?

A. I do read about four newspapers online every day. The last book I read would have been “Killing Lincoln” by Bill O’Reilly, about the two weeks leading to Lincoln’s assassination. A really great book.

Q. I’m up and going by? And what is your morning routine?

A. I’m not the best kind of morning person, to be honest. I’m usually up by 6:45 a.m. I get in to the office by 7:45, something like that. When I hit the office I go to work, but I’m not one of these people who rises at 5 a.m. and plays racquetball and runs eight miles and that sort of thing. I get up and come to work. That’s about it.

Q. What famous person would you like to meet? Why?

A. Well, I just mentioned Abraham Lincoln. I think he’d be a great one to meet, given what he did for our country and the pain and turmoil he went through in order to do it. He would certainly be somebody I’d want to meet.

Q. Favorite hobbies or activities outside work?

A. I play golf ... not very well, but I play golf. I played basketball all the way through college and into my adulthood, so I enjoy that. I have a little boy who consumes most of my free time.

Q. If you could take back one business decision you made in your career, what would it be?

A. I took a job on the East Coast as publisher of a very small tri-weekly newspaper. I hated every minute of it and would never do that again, for sure.

Q. Best thing about your job?

A. I work with great people in a city I’m coming to really like and for a product I think has a bright future. Definitely the people component. I know that’s an overused cliché, but I do enjoy the people I work with.

Q. Worst thing about your job?

A. Being handcuffed to all the analytical budget kind of stuff.

Q. The most beneficial course I took in school was?

A. I went to two Christian universities, so I would say Christian-related courses, whether it be ethics, morals, that sort of thing — even some Bible courses. But in a professional sense, certainly communication, marketing courses. Those were the courses I really enjoyed.

Q. What would be your dream job if you were able to pick a position outside your current career path?

A. I would be the best golfer on the PGA tour. That’s for sure.

Q. Finish this thought: On the first anniversary of my retirement, I see myself …

A. Staying very active, playing a lot of golf and being with my children and my grandchildren.

Q. What is the one trait a strong business leader cannot afford to be without?

A. Well, certainly boldness, and the ability to lead with compassion. The boldness, particularly in today’s society, is key.

Q. What kind of music might I find on your list of most played on your iPod?

A. Oh my goodness, it’s all over the place. Of course, Phillip Phillips’ song “Home” leads the list, but other bands like The Silent Comedy, which people have never heard of, to Foreigner. Those sorts of bands.

Q. What do you think is the biggest change Albany will see in the next 10 years?

A. As a city, we’d better address our educational issues and become stronger with that and take advantage of all the technologies that are coming. We’ve got to be on the cutting edge, so to speak.

Q. What was the best vacation you’ve ever taken? Why?

A. Probably when I took my family to Disney World back in the late ‘90s when my older kids were younger and we had a blast for about six days.

Q. What are the biggest changes you have seen in your specific line of business over the past few years?

A. How everybody gets their information. Print’s not dead by any stretch. We just have to morph into different means by which people can get their information, such as digital and mobile delivery or ancillary print products. We are truly a multimedia information source.