Just a couple of weeks after I announced in October 1992 that I would be leaving Mosby-Year Book (MYB) to start Doody Publishing, Rich Lampert announced that he would also be leaving MYB, as he had accepted a job to head up the editorial program at J.B. Lippincott, which had recently been acquired by Wolters Kluwer Health.
From 1993 to 2004, Rich worked in Washington Square in Philadelphia, first with Lippincott, then he crossed the Square to join Saunders, shortly before it was acquired by Harcourt and then, in turn, acquired by Elsevier, where he eventually held the title Vice President, Global Surgery. During these 11 years, Rich and I stayed in touch. Indeed, he ensured that Lippincott, then Saunders/Elsevier were active participating publishers with Doody’s Review Service and he encouraged his marketing colleagues to advertise on Doody’s platforms. From these early seeds of encouragement Rich had sown, both Lippincott and Elsevier have grown to be among Doody’s top 10 customers, ranking second and seventh respectively.
In 2004, Rich decided to leave Elsevier and, in his words, “hang up his own shingle,” offering his publishing consulting services to other medical publishers. I was on his list of people to reach out to shortly after he established The Lampert Consultancy. He sent an email announcing his plans. He called me a few weeks later, wondering if I’d be willing to refer prospective clients to him.
My reaction to his big move was instantaneous. I immediately thought this might give us the opportunity to work together again. I told Rich that I was sure that I could refer business to him. Several societies who had relatively modest publishing programs and were participating publishers in Doody’s Review Service had approached me over the last couple of years asking if I could provide publishing consulting services to them. While flattered they would ask, I always politely declined, explaining that I simply didn’t have the time to devote to consulting since running Doody Publishing was a full-time enterprise. As participating publishers, these organizations were familiar to me; I knew their editorial and marketing directors, and I had a snapshot of their book publishing activity since 1993 in the Doody’s Review Service database.
I told Rich that I was confident that I could develop consulting clients but that I’d like to do so in partnership with him under the corporate umbrella of Doody Enterprises, Inc., not The Lampert Consultancy. The “Doody” consulting clients would be strictly limited to nonprofits – professional associations and university presses – enabling The Lampert Consultancy to work directly with for-profit publishers, and I’d be happy to refer these kinds of clients to The Lampert Consultancy. (This was an important distinction for me. I always characterized Doody’s Review Service as “the Switzerland of medical publishing,” entirely neutral with no favoritism shown to any publisher. I thought we could maintain our neutrality if we confined our consulting to the specialty-specific, nonprofit publishers. And, in fact, our reputation as Switzerland has remained intact.)
As another important provision in my pitch to Rich, I proposed that I would handle all “outside” work – marketing, sales, client relationships, billing, etc. – if he were willing to handle 80% of the “inside” work – the work on the consulting assignments we’d be given.
I was willing to make such a firm offer to Rich during this initial conversation for three reasons:
- From our 11 years of working together at MYB, I was confident we shared a mutual respect and absolute trust of each other.
- I had tremendous respect and admiration for Rich’s productivity and work ethic. If he was willing to take on 80% of the inside work in exchange for the revenue share we agreed on, then I had confidence we’d always be able to deliver a quality product on time for our clients.
- I was sure that the need among societies was real and that I could generate business fairly easily and quickly.
Rich agreed on the phone. Our handshake agreement morphed into a written agreement we both signed. As proof of the mutual trust and respect we have had for each other, we have never had to refer to that agreement. We make a point of having a checking-in conversation every six months or so, and both of us maintain that developing this consulting practice has been one of the most enjoyable and fulfilling professional pursuits either one of us has had in our 40+-year publishing careers.