Commentary: One Week for an Entire Year

2012 Mazda CX-5 2
Closing out the "season" in this. Photo by Randy Stern

Wow, what a week!

I needed a few more days to parse out this past week between job transition, the Midwest Automotive Media Association's Fall Rally and other things that made it so. Not that it was not the best week – or, worse. It was just a lot to take in, soak up and break down.

The focal point remains my journey to and from the Chicagoland area and the MAMA Fall Rally. It was the kind of defining event that builds layers onto a career. Having never been to such an event, I came away prouder of the work I have done because of it. Association membership, along with leveraging now three outlets cemented my position amongst the automotive media corps.

Maybe that is too ambitious a statement. Or, perhaps it is too audacious to even consider such an assessment at this point? I did walk away feeling better about where I stand within the automotive media corps, at least in this part of the U.S.A. and the responsibility I have to maintain that position for all of the stakeholders.

As I said this before, it is a responsibility I take seriously.

It is a unique responsibility, however. I continue to be one of the few auto scribes published directly in a local LGBT media outlet. I have been added to the roster of contributors at GayWheels.com. Plus, I have this site – with a shiny asset, called the Vehicle of The Year.

Since last November, these points on the map added value when it came to opening up doors that have never been presented before. By awarding the VOTY to a General Motors executive was never in the cards before this year's Chicago Auto Show. By being invited and attending a media drive event in another city was also a distant nod never envisioned until this May. Adding my membership to MAMA with three outlets under my belt also was seen as a distant notion until the end of 2011.

In all, I have gone further during the past 11 months than I have over the past 11 years in doing this work professionally.

During these past 11 months, I learned plenty of lessons along the way. For one, know when to listen to my own instincts. I had a situation when doing a couple of stories resulted in a miscommunication between a marketing person and I. I should have known that there was something not entirely kosher about the stories I was doing. My instincts would rather be read properly before agreeing to do something that would put myself and my outlets at risk.

For 90 percent of this 11-month timeframe, I was fortunate to strengthen some connections with colleagues and industry people. These connections add value in the work you see here, in Lavender magazine and on GayWheels.com. The conversations that result from social media interactions and beyond are what makes V&R (and, to a further extent, Lavender and GayWheels.com) the (relatively) small outlet that (still) could and do.

However, there is room for more. That is what the next 12 months will be all about. Though my time will be less available to do "more," the added value in those available times will leverage opportunities in creating quality content. Quantity is all great and such, but I would rather put out quality that resonates with you, dear reader.

My goal for the 2013 "season" is to raise the bar on the quality quotient. If it means tweaking the eligibility for VOTY in 2013, it will have to reflect what goes on the remainder of the year. If it also means producing better quality in evaluating automotive subjects, the challenge is simply on!

I am grateful for the past "season." I welcomed a lot of new OEMs and brands to the V&R Garage than ever, established new relationships with said brands and OEMs and have been able to present my results to a wider audience than before. The only direction to go is up from here.

That is why I went to that event near Chicago. That is also why you will see me at the Chicago Auto Show next year – along with other opportunities along the way.

This is why I am grateful you are reading this site, the other two outlets I write for and following me on social media.

Thank you.

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