You Don’t Learn Much When You’re Talking

For about 30 years, the editors of the biggest city magazines got together once a year for a long weekend to talk about what we were doing and how we could do it better. We all were different but there was one split that persisted: Some of us were talkers, some of us listeners.

During the discussions a talker sometimes would go on and on and we’d look at one another and silently communicate. During the coffee breaks the listeners usually gravitated toward one another to talk about what we’d learned.

I think we listeners thought we were smarter than the talkers but a few of the talkers became fairly successful, showing that for editors—and writers—there are different paths to success. But over the long run the traditional measures of success—circulation growth and editorial awards—showed that the listeners were more successful and put out better magazines.

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