We've never taken a survey to find out who reads our masthead, but we know that some people do, because when we make a change, we hear about it. "Whatever happened to so-and-so?" the letter writers ask when marriage, divorce or a switch in jobs causes a familiar name to be changed or dropped. "It's about time," they'll write, when a promotion moves a staffer from one slot to another further up the page.
Eagle-eyed masthead mavens have already noticed that Julia Lamb, a senior editor since 1980, is now Julia Lamb, assistant managing editor. What they may not have known, however, is that Lamb is the first woman at SPORTS ILLUSTRATED to earn that title. When her promotion was announced at our Christmas luncheon, the response of her colleagues was just short of a standing ovation.
"She's amazingly organized," says executive editor Peter Carry. "You go into her office and there's a blizzard of layouts on her desk, and her computer is blinking away. But she's like the eye of a storm. She can manage five projects at once with equanimity, and she has the longest fuse around here."
Lamb, who recently oversaw the closing of our 282-page 25th anniversary swimsuit issue, reveals the secret of how she works. "For a project like that, in which we had 26 stories to keep track of, I make a list on the computer of where everything is in the editing process, and I update it a couple of times a day," she says. "The rest is in my head. The main thing is to remain calm at all times, remembering that there's always a way out of any corner."
For most of us that's easier said than done, but Lamb—as we've known for a long time—is not like the rest of us. For instance, she credits her organizational success to a nonchalant approach to life. "It's a kind of optimism," she says. "I can't believe that everything isn't going to work out fine. It's always a great surprise to me when things don't go right."
If, indeed, nonchalance is the key to success, Lamb has been preparing all her life. Even as a second-grader in Michigan, N.Dak., she showed signs of what was to come when she was late to school 35 times in one year. "The school was across the street, and I was always tardy," says Lamb. "My mother would stand in the backyard and shout, 'Run!' and my teacher across the street would shout, 'Run!' Then the bell would ring and I'd see my teacher's shoulders droop because I'd been late again."
So take heart, slugabeds. Everything's going to work out fine. Just ask our newest assistant managing editor.
Lucy and Lamb are two imperturbable cats.