Editor’s Desk: September 2018

Having found his dream job, Pittsburgh Magazine Editor Brian Hyslop recounts the lessons learned at his previous position as a hardware associate.

I’ve been at Pittsburgh Magazine for a year now and I still marvel at how lucky I am to have found my dream job. I’ve written before about how my journalism career, including my years at the Post-Gazette, prepared me to become editor of the magazine. But I haven’t discussed what I learned during my stint at Home Depot.

The path to my first job outside of journalism started when I left the PG to found Print, a local weekly newspaper. I always wanted to have my own newspaper so it was the ideal endeavor for me, and I learned volumes about running a small business. But eventually the time came to move on. (That’s another story).

As I was evaluating what to do next with my career, I decided rather than sit at home mourning the fact that my venture into entrepreneurship had left me battered and broke, I would get a part-time job. Home Depot was close to my home, and just like that I landed the first retail job of my life. That decision, while questioned by some people I knew, turned out to be more educational than I would have guessed.

Here’s what Home Depot taught me (besides the difference between a wood screw and a sheet metal screw and how to make keys).

We aren’t defined by what we do but by who we are. The very same traits that make me a good journalist made me a good hardware associate. I like helping people discover how to make their lives better, whether it’s how to manage your finances or how to hang a mirror. (Yes, I did have to tell a customer that Command strips weren’t the best option to hold that mirror she wanted to hang over her bed).

People in Pittsburgh work really hard. My coworkers (many of whom had second jobs or went to school) put a solid effort in each day. Manny never stopped moving from the moment his shift started at 5 a.m. He would even work through his break if he were helping a customer. He wasn’t alone; LaRon and Mike kept the Hardware Department running. And they all helped a rookie get acclimated. Which brings me to one of the most important things I learned…

It’s not our differences that define us. The employees at Home Depot were the most diverse group I’ve ever worked with, but we were a team where I was accepted even though I was a fish out of water. That sense of belonging didn’t end when I quit. Every time I return as a customer, I am warmly welcomed back.

The lessons I learned at Home Depot shape what kind of editor I am almost as much as my journalism experience. I like to think they shaped my character, too.

Brian Hyslop can be reached at ​bhyslop@pittsburghmagazine.com or 412/304-0921

Categories: Editor