By Dale S. Laszig
While payments is future-focused by nature, a backward glance can reveal how far we've progressed as an industry and as individuals. Continuing The Green Sheet's 40th anniversary celebration, industry leaders have shared reflections on a journey that began in 1983 with the launch of Paul H. Green's one-page newsletter and continues today through a multimedia platform dedicated to empowering and connecting payment professionals.
When did you discover The Green Sheet? What impact did it have on your career? In this article, payments experts address these questions and look ahead to the industry's future.
Natasa Cvijanovic, co-founder and CEO of Tesla Payments, described her first encounter with the publication as an initiation into payments.
"As someone who stumbled into this industry and needed to learn quickly, The Green Sheet was an invaluable resource as one of the rare payments industry publications," she said. "Its in-depth analysis, industry trends and expert perspectives helped me keep up with the industry and my competition, and ultimately, make more informed decisions."
Christian Murray, chief revenue officer for Ionia Inc., agreed, stating that his introduction to the platform occurred at an opportune time in his career. "In the early 2000s, specifically around 2002-2003, as I was immersing myself in the intricacies of merchant services, I had the privilege of being introduced to The Green Sheet," he said. "This introduction by peers at a national tradeshow was a pivotal moment."
Mark Dunn, founder and president of Field Guide Enterprises LLC, discovered the magazine while working for Verifone in the early 1990s. "I was training sales agents on equipment and applications," he said. "One of the sales reps showed me a copy of The Green Sheet, which was smaller in those days but gave me some insight into the growing channel of ISOs and agents."
Max Sinovoi, chief revenue officer at Hubwallet, who also worked at Verifone in the 90s, saw The Green Sheet at the company's West Coast office and was intrigued by its unique look and color. "It looked different than anything else I'd seen," he said, adding that his career began when he started reading it. "It opened the whole world of payments and, over my 30-year career, has provided unbiased news and commentary on the changing landscape of our special business."
Allen Kopelman, co-founder and CEO of Nationwide Payment Systems, remembered meeting Riad Alakkam, who later founded JR's POS Depot, in 2000. "Riad gave me two copies of The Green Sheet and encouraged me to start my own company," he said. "Now I tell his son Sami, 'It's your dad's fault that I'm in this business.'"
Elizabeth Rucker, director of sales for VizyPay, recalled hearing about the unique industry resource within the first week of starting in payments. "Austin Mac Nab, our CEO, was adamant that if I wanted to do big things in the industry, I needed to immerse myself in it," she said. "The Green Sheet was one of the first things he pointed out to stay current on all the trends."
Starting out not knowing anyone and being geographically distant from in-person networking opportunities, Rucker found that the articles and other platform features quickly gave her a pulse on the payments space and painted a picture of the players in the industry's landscape.
Austin Mac Nab, co-founder and CEO of VizyPay, recounted how The Green Sheet helped launch his payments career. "I was a 1099 contractor in the field and heard from another contractor about a magazine that covers the payments space," he said, describing it as a timely resource for a new person in a relatively new industry that provided insights on technology, mergers and acquisitions and other trending topics.
"I always rushed to the M&A section, not because I could even do it, but because it showed me what is possible in the payments space, keeping me in," Mac Nab said, noting that the past 17 years have been marked by consolidation, disruption and innovation. Through it all, he said the magazine's best articles have offered true advice without hidden sales pitches.
When asked about favorite sections, respondents cited everything from ads to cover stories, and some, like Cvijanovic, chose more than one.
"While it's challenging to pick just one, I've always enjoyed the Street SmartsSM column and Industry Update sections," she said. "They consistently provide fresh perspectives and insights into emerging technologies, regulations and market shifts."
Peggy Olson, president and CEO at Strategic Marketing, cited lead articles, company profiles and new product stories. "I read cover stories to keep up with what's happening in the payments industry, company profiles to familiarize myself with new companies entering the space, and new product stories to learn about new offerings and opportunities to grow business."
Emily Karawadra, COO for Impact PaySystem, noted that even the ads have stories to tell. "The advertisements in The Green Sheet are more than just promotional content," she said. "They provide a nuanced understanding of how various entities in payment, hardware, and service sectors position themselves in a dynamic market."
Karawadra also mentioned the Spotlight Innovator section that offers a deep dive into emerging companies, payments innovations and the broader industry narrative. And the online forums, she noted, create a melting pot of ideas, discussions and diverse perspectives.
Rucker said her favorite Green Sheet resources are the MLS Forum and Street SmartsSM. "I love that all previous articles and sections are still readily available," she added. "Understanding where the industry came from and the different perspectives of people who lived it are vital to building my confidence, keeping an eye on the future and developing sales training programs."
Murray agreed, stating, "My favorite sections are company profiles, Street Smarts columns, and, quite frankly, the ads. I always learn something with every issue."
Payments industry stakeholders have shared opinions, research and commentary as contributing writers, Street SmartsSM columnists and Reader's Speak correspondents.
Cvijanovic, a former Street SmartsSM columnist, who helmed the biweekly column from September 2022 to March 2023, described it as a rewarding experience. "It provided a platform to share my knowledge and perspectives with a larger audience, fostering connections with industry peers and creating a sense of community within the payments industry," she said. "Interactions on the MLS Forum were equally enriching, enabling meaningful discussions and knowledge exchange."
Olson appreciated The Green Sheet's collegiality and respect, which afforded "tremendous leeway to write articles on marketing topics that helped payments industry companies and individuals advance brand awareness and professionalism, generate and close more leads, and optimize marketing activity and spend."
Being a contributing writer helped Olson build her brand, she added, noting she recently met a Green Sheet reader at a San Francisco airport who thanked her for sharing marketing tips.
Dunn also met a payment professional at an airport, when waiting to board a flight. "I spotted an issue of The Green Sheet in the hands of a guy ahead of me in the TSA security line," he said. "Turns out he was a fairly new sales agent who was trying to get up to speed on new markets and solutions. The distinctive look of the magazine is what brought us together and was an immediate tip-off that he was into payments."
The Green Sheet enthusiastically supported him in 2008 and 2009, Dunn recalled, when he was developing the first version of his online training program. "I talked regularly with Kate, Wolf and other staff people about the project," he said. "I've always found the staff to be dedicated professionals who care about the payments industry and the people working in merchant services."
Sinovoi said he was honored to become a contributing writer. "I started reading The Green Sheet early on in my career," he said. "Being asked to contribute was very powerful; I must have rewritten my first article a hundred times to make it as great as possible."
For Murray, contributing content was a way to share ideas and showcase emerging products and services. "It has always been about 'what's next in payments' for me," he said. "The Green Sheet has opened many doors and allowed me to learn, grow and stay up to speed with the industry."
While experts credit The Green Sheet for helping to launch and expand their professional careers, they also look ahead to continuing opportunities across multiple channels and media. As Karawadra noted, The Green Sheet is more than a publication; it's a catalyst that deepens expertise and understanding.
"It offers a platform for me to share and exchange insights about the rapidly evolving landscape of products and services," she said. "My guiding principle has always revolved around envisioning 'what's next in payments,' and The Green Sheet, with its forward-thinking approach, keeps me aligned with the industry's pulse."
She added that every interaction with the forward-looking enterprise, be it contributing an article or engaging in discussions with fellow writers, has been underscored by a sense of purpose and mutual respect. The platform's commitment is to foster a collaborative environment in which each article is more than a piece of content but a meaningful addition to the industry's collective knowledge.
Dale S. Laszig, senior staff writer at The Green Sheet and founder and CEO at DSL Direct LLC, is a payments industry journalist and content strategist. Connect via email firstname.lastname@example.org, LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/in/dalelaszig/ and Twitter https://twitter.com/DSLdirect
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