John A. Winters – The Interview

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Briefly describe yourself and what you do/did.

I’ve been in the newspaper business for nearly 35 years. I’ve done everything from being a cub reporter to delivering papers in the snow to being a publisher and director of a national news service. I am president of Winters Media & Publishing, Inc. and along with my wife, Corby, own The Paper and The Shopper. We have three sons, Caleb, Seth and Levi, affectionately known as the SONS of Thunder

Best piece of business advice you’ve received.

So many, but my top ones are:

Putting things in writing merely reminds gentlemen what they had agreed to.

Never listen to anyone who tells you it can’t be done.

Never tell an employee to do something you are not willing to do.

Be willing to sign your name to everything you do.

If I had it to do over …

It’s easy to say I would not have done this or that if given a “re-do.” But every wrong action, and every right action for that matter, has led me to who I am today. And I am happy with who I am.

You are going on an extended solo trip. What three albums and three books would you take?

Albums: Willie Nelson: Greatest Hits And Some That WIll Be; Alison Kraus and Union Station: Live; Van Morrison

Books: The Bible; Webster’s Dictionary; SAS Survival Handbook

Tell us one thing about yourself that few people know

Back in college, I once chugged a “yard” of beer in front of about 200 people. Naked. Yes, it was a fraternity thing.

You are hosting a dinner party for six. What five people, living or dead, would you invite and why

Julius Caesar, the Apostle Paul, Alexander the Great, Steve Jobs, Robin Williams. The first four significantly changed the world. I just want to figure out what made them tick and how they did what they did. With Williams, well I just want to laugh.

Name an as yet unfulfilled dream

To have a 45-50 foot sailboat and just cruise around the Caribbean.

If you weren’t doing what you are, you would be …

Probably just writing full time and being a fly fishing bum.

Your go-to food.

Being raised in Oklahoma, Tex-Mex is my staple.

Favorite movies(s)

Lord of the Rings Trilogy

The Last Samurai (the only Tom Cruise movie I will watch)

The Sherlock Holmes movies with Robert Downey Jr.

The Wind and the Lion

Dogs or cats?

Definitely dogs. We have four and I often take “my” dog to work. Cats aren’t really pets.

Your favorite quote and why

“Certainty of death. Little chance of success. What are we waiting for?” (Gimli, dwarf in Lord of the Rings: Return of the King). I get really, really tired of people me what will or will not work. If you believe in yourself and your dreams, the heck with everyone else. Just go for it.

Name something that you are extremely glad you did or accomplished

Back in the late 80s, I wrote a series of articles about the plight of retirees on very low fixed incomes who were going to lose their homes through no fault of their own. Augusta/Richmond County In Georgia went through a massive court-ordered tax re-evaluation. I think some properties went up by 40 percent and more. The tax commissioner at the time, Jerry Saul, told me about these poor people who literally could not pay their property taxes. Saul took all the stories I wrote and sent them to our delegation when the General Assembly was in session. A law was passed that granted an exemption from school property taxes (which can take up more than half the property tax bill) for those retirees who met certain income thresholds. Of all the stories I’ve written in more than 30 years, still what I’m most proud of – helping those who could not help themselves.

What advice would you give your younger self just starting out on their own

Learn to live by the 80-10-10. Give 10 percent of your income to worthwhile charities; save 10 percent; learn to live on 80 percent of what you make.

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