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(out April 2011)

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Sea to Shining Sea
company newsletter – February 2011

Debbie Graber

bonus features:


CEO Un “Max” ed!

Theresa Baker in tax accounting had the chance of a lifetime to sit down with CEO Maximilian Stewart, in his corner office, no less, and ask him some hard-hitting questions. Theresa has edited the Sea to Shining Sea for the past fifteen years, and has been called a number of things, but mostly “tough but fair.”


TB: Hello Mr. Stewart.

MS: Welcome to my office! Every employee-owner should have the chance to see my office at least once before they die.

TB: It’s real nice. I like that coffee table.

MS: I thought that was an ottoman! I’ll have to discuss this issue with my assistant, Jillian. Do you know Jillian?

TB: She translated for my Sea to Shining Sea interview with your dog Cookie last year.

MS: Great girl, that Jillian. Knows a lot about a lot of things. Except for office furniture, apparently! HA HA HA.

TB: I don’t have any office furniture. I work in a cubicle.

MS: Is a cubicle anything like an ottoman? Anyway, you’re here to interview me right? Ask me anything! I am an open book! First, what’s your name, rank and serial number? Seriously, who are you?

TB: Theresa Baker from tax accounting.

MS: Ah, tax accounting. Necessary but boring!

TB: I enjoy my work.

MS: Theresa, please! We’re all employee-owners here right? And when I say employee-owners, it’s implicit that you and I do not work together in tax accounting. Frankly, I would rather put a gun to my head! I specifically went to college and business school to avoid having to work in departments like tax accounting! What I am trying to say, Theresa, is that you do not have to lie to me just because I am the CEO. In fact, it’s a bad thing to lie to the CEO. Some people around here don’t know any better, although I am not grouping you in with those bums! Ooh, don’t write that – make it valued employee-owners!

TB: I am not lying.

MS: Whatever you say, Theresa. Can I call you Theresa? What do your friends call you?

TB: Theresa.

MS: What does your dad call you?

TB: He used to call me Theresa but he’s had his larynx removed so he doesn’t speak real well anymore.

MS: That’s a real shame Terri! Let’s say get this interview started, shall we? Time is money and I’m sure those valued employee-owners over in tax accounting will be pretty upset if you take longer than thirty minutes for lunch!

TB: What do you think about our health benefits?

MS: I love health benefits! Health benefits make our company attractive to prospective employees; that is, if we were ever to be interested in hiring new employees, which currently we are not - no new employees, not in this lifetime! To all the employee-owners reading this, don’t get any fancy ideas about the company hiring your brother who’s been out of work for six months or your neighbor who can’t afford her townhouse payments anymore! No new employees ever, until I say so.

TB: Have you ever used our health benefits?

MS: Sure! I go to the doctor all the time! I have him on speed dial! I play golf with him on Sundays.

TB: Are you happy with our HMO?

MS: Getting involved with an HMO is a surefire way to certain death or at least a staph infection! Wouldn’t send my worst enemy to an HMO!

TB: But most of the employee-owners are on the HMO. It’s all anyone can afford.

MS: Interesting tidbit of information. I’ll have to get back to you on that. Teresita, the health and welfare of every single one of our employee-owners is very important to me. That’s why each and every year, I send each and every employee-owner a holiday card with a professionally taken photo of me and my beautiful family dressed in varying holiday themed costumes. I literally spend thousands of dollars on those cards, Terri, thousands. Out of my own pocket. Do I write it off? Of course I do, but that’s not the point.

TB: What do you think about the corporate culture here?

MS: Now we’re talking! I love corporate culture! In fact, I have an MBA from UC Irvine with a concentration in corporate culture. The corporate culture here is excellent. Anyone who knows anything about corporate culture knows that we have some of the finest corporate culture in the state.

TB: What comprises our corporate culture?

MS: Terri, c’mon now. You work here – you tell me!

TB: Does it have anything to do with Bagel Thursdays?

MS:  I implemented Bagel Thursdays myself. That was one of the wisest business decisions I have ever made.

TB: What’s so special about Bagel Thursdays?

MG: Terri, I get it – you work in tax accounting, so I it makes sense that you can’t express yourself well either verbally or in writing. Each and every Thursday, we feed our employee-owners, even the morbidly obese ones, bagels with two different types of cream cheese. It’s a huge perk. I can’t tell you how many people in the industry know about Bagel Thursdays and have implemented it for their employees! They may not hand out the bagels on Thursdays, it might be on a Friday or a Monday, but it’s the concept that matters.  If I had a dollar for every time one of our competitors handed out a free bagel to one of their employees, I would be a millionaire! Oh wait, I already am a millionaire!

TB: So Bagel Thursdays is the extent of our corporate culture?

MS: Heck no! It would take hours for me to describe even a tiny aspect of our corporate culture. Company surveys for example. Who do you think came up with that idea? Me of course!

TB: Do you read the surveys?

MS: Terri, here’s the thing: Have you really just fallen off the turnip truck?

TB: I beg your pardon?

MS: Why would anyone care what the employee-owners had to actually say? What do employee-owners know about anything?

TB: Maybe they know something about the jobs they do.

MS: Jobs – I could wave my magic wand tomorrow and get rid of all the jobs! And someone would still fill out the company survey because they thought that what they had to say mattered. And who am I to say that what they have to say doesn’t matter? The CEO, that’s who I am!  I am the only person who knows for an absolute fact that what the employee-owners have to say doesn’t matter in the least. And do not mention my magic wand! That’s a trade secret we don’t want getting into the wrong hands.

TB: So nothing we think or say or do has any bearing on the company’s decision making.

MS: I did not say that.

TB: Well you sort of did.

MS: Terri, are you married?

TB: Me? Um, no.

MS: Divorced?

TB: What does my divorce have to do with anything?

MS: Kids? Pets? Both?

TB: One dog. A Springer Spaniel.  Her name is Mrs. Flanagan.

MS: Adorable. I love dogs. I am a dog person. And you know what else I am, Terri? A people person. A person who needs people. And you know what else Terri?

TB: You’re the luckiest person in the world?

MS:  I love the synergy between us. Now let’s wrap this up!

TB: With three hundred employees, how do you stay on top of what everyone does?

MS: Fair question. Well, let’s see: I employee a lot of people who obtain information for me, using various quantitative methods, and they turn that information into a spreadsheet with an accompanying power point presentation which they show me at meetings. Those people are managers. Do you have a manager Terri?

TB: Amy Lin is my manager.

MS: Ah, Amy Lin. Now we’re getting somewhere! I know Amy Lin! I am certain that I have been in Amy Lin’s office!

TB: Amy doesn’t have an office. She has a modified cubicle. 

MS: Hmm, well I was in some short Asian woman’s office not three days ago.

TB: Amy has been out on stress leave for three weeks.

MS: Stress leave! Now there’s another great thing about our corporate culture. We encourage people to take all the time they need to clean up their messy personal problems. And we know how that goes, don’t we Terri? Messy personal problems are part of life – heck, for most people, that is life!

TB: What are we supposed to do while our manager is out on leave? Who do we report to?

MS: Terri, you and the other folks in tax accounting answer only to yourselves. And to all the other employee-owners. And to a higher power, namely me! Which is to say, I designate you to be the person to create the spreadsheet and power point presentation for me in Amy Lin’s absence. Although I can’t say I’m too interested in anything that happens in tax accounting! HAHAH – I am just kidding, do not print that.

TB: Amy has to move her parents into a nursing home. They both have dementia.

MS: Whether someone is a meth addict trying to kick the habit, like that fellow in Customer Support, or a person looking after her Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, like that gal in Marketing, it’s none of my business. Stress leave is for any kind of stress there is. And the best part about it is that you don’t have to worry about receiving a pesky paycheck for work that you are not completing! Now that is corporate culture at its very best!  Now Terri, I’ve got to run to a lunch appointment myself.

TB: Thank you for your time.

MS: I’ll look forward to seeing this interview in print – Rolling Stone is my favorite magazine!

TB: Um, this interview is for Sea to Shining Sea – the company newsletter?

MS: We have a newsletter?


    Full Table of Contents

Metroid: An Appreciation
by Mike Meginnis

How to Build a Spaceship in Five Easy Steps
by Douglas Silver

Sea to Shining Sea company newsletter
by Debbie Graber

Suggested edits for "Saucer"
by Karl Taro Greenfeld

The Beartender (a photo w/ caption)
by Melinda Moustakis
Brian Oliu reads "Super Mario Bros." & "Ninja Gaiden Trilogy"

A Couple Short Movies Written
by Etgar Keret

Two Notable Emotion Pianists
by Sean Adams

What Could Have Also Been (Alternate Endings)
by Robert Baumann
An Annotated Map of Littlefield, TX
by Aubrey Hirsch
Addendum: Notes on the North Country
by Roxane Gay

1 issue = $10 + s&h ($2.00)