Cool and the Gang

I spent the first half of seventh grade eating my lunch alone in the locker room, so I don”t have a lot of experience being part of the cool group. But last week I spent two days being part of what feels like the “in crowd” of local business owners. Corporate Alliance hosts the coolest, weirdest, most memorable-est event every November for a couple hundred business owners and execs. This year”s version had an ”80s theme, complete with mullets, pegged pants, giant Rubix Cube and Bon Jovi background music. We networked, learned and laughed. Chris Dexter and I even got a little teary while talking about — ironically — the junior high students we”re raising.

Corporate Alliance’s Jeff Rust was sporting a mullet while entertainer Jason Hewlett was spouting about his “flux capacitor.”

During the conference, I found myself bouncing to the ”80s tunes they blasted in between networking sessions. My iTunes collection is about to get it”s “cool” on when I purchase my favorite singles from my cassette tape collection — because “I can”t fight this feeling any longer” ….This gotta-see-it-to-believe-it event has inspired me to streamline and grow our business. It has also reminded me to have a little fun along the way, which is why I”m glad Matt and the kiddos (swimsuits in hand) came up to join me for the last night at Zermatt.

Two months of gymnastics class means that a luggage cart is an Olympic venue to Lindsey, who is my 5-year-old Mary Lou Retton (my ’80s hero!). 

This one’s for the girls

I like men. I really do. But I”ve felt a little outnumbered as the only female at the first three BusinessQ roundtables this year.\r\n\r\nOur spring roundtable was with nine men who talked about the various aspects of starting a business.In the summer I interviewed four male lawyers.And the fall roundtable included five men in the health industry.It was time to trade the suits for skirts!Our fourth quarter roundtable (held today) featured six women who chatted it up about stereotypes and gender hype. I tried to end the videotaped discussion on time, but the women wanted to continue making connections and swapping business cards and stories. I came away grateful that I live in 2010 when every door has been flung open for women. There are still choices, priorities and sacrifices to be made, but the glass ceiling went the way of Y2K.Thank you to the six women who multi-tasked their way into our conference room today: Mary Street (Commerce Real Estate Solutions), Lynette Hilgenberg (Bank of American Fork), Kris Hoffman (Hoffman & Company), Cynthia Gambill (Remedez), Diana Hunter (UVU) and Judy Copier (Kim Brown & Associates).Today”s conversation was for the girls, but there was no “man bashing” going on. Husbands were praised for being supportive partners of their working wives. The truth is, any economy is stronger when supported by both genders.Look for a portion of the transcript in the Winter issue of BusinessQ Magazine (coming out the first week of December).

The males have taken “cover”

It”s time for the annual excruciating task of picking Bride covers! It takes a village to pick four weddings to feature on our seasonal covers of Utah Valley Bride Magazine. And by “village,” I mean all 16 staff members. But as you can tell from this picture, we tend to squeeze out the males in the office when it comes to saying “I do” to a cover.I’m seated at the computer, toggling back and forth between mockups (great design job, Leah!) while my work sisters say, “That one looks the most natural” or “When it”s zoomed out there is more room for text” or “The bouquet really pops on the third one.”Yes, weddings are joyous occasions. But picking which ones to share with the community? Now that”s one part joy and three parts pain … mostly because every bride looks happy and beautiful enough to perch on a cover. And we honestly feel mean as we eliminate choices from the running.The wedding “festivities” continue tomorrow with the complicated dress photo shoot. Who knew that something so lovely and simple as brides could dominate our publishing village?

Deck the halls and coffee tables

Our holiday issue is hitting mailboxes this week, and I hope the community likes its present!This issue features a voice (and a face) I”ve grown up humming with — Michael McLean. I first hinted about this interview here and here, and then I let the cat out of the stocking here. It”s hard to contain my excitement about meeting the man who created the soundtrack to my growing up years in Idaho and Utah. Let”s just say “I see a diamond” when it comes to Michael McLean! I”ve purchased my Christmas spirit several years in a row by seeing his “Forgotten Carols” in both states.\r\n\r\nMy favorite parts of the interview are in the printed version, but there were other tidbits that didn”t make it into the word count. For example, he told of a BYU comedy troupe doing an impersonation of him years ago. The Michael “stand-in” wore big glasses and a curly wig and asked the audience which of his songs was their favorite. When they couldn”t decide, the fake “Michael” strummed up and down the piano keys and said, “Yeah, my songs all sound the same to me, too.”\r\n\r\nI will admit I laughed at the story, but I immediately worried Michael would be offended. He said at first that joke didn”t sit well with him — he works so hard to create unique music. But then he said in a way he HAS spent his life rewriting his first big hit, “You”re Not Alone.” His songs teach that we can get through the ups and downs of life with help from above.\r\n\r\nThis interview was one of my all-time favorites in the 10-plus years of Utah Valley Magazine. And it”s not just because he made me laugh. Or that he gave me a signed copy of his new children”s book. Or that he forced me to take Peanut M&Ms “for the road.” I loved this interview because Michael is real. He brought up the depression he has battled. He admitted having insecurities. We adjusted the photo shoot time to accommodate housecleaning and his mother”s dentist appointment. He is not trying to put on a perfect facade. He just happens to be extremely talented and willing to share his notes with the rest of us. Yep, we”re not alone — or forgotten. Thanks, Michael, for reminding us about the age-old meaning of Christmas!

The birth of two careers

The Jeanette Gazette isn”t intended to be a “mommy blog,” but the truth is I became an entrepreneur only after becoming a mother 13 years ago to this brand-new teenager.\ Nathan has the same temperament now that he did as a 7-pound-12-ounce bundle of goodness. He was a responsive and practical baby — he only cried when there was a reason. But somehow it was still incredibly difficult to trade my career as a full-time copy editor at the Deseret News to be an overtime copy-cat mother (I only did what I learned in “What to Expect the First Year”).\r\n\r\nAt first I didn”t know how to pace my time. If I rushed to cross off my to-dos before 10 a.m., the clock ticked …. very … slowly …. the rest of the day. But if I didn”t start the morning with speed, I was still unshowered by the time we sat down for a grilled cheese dinner.\r\n\r\nI didn”t want to leave my swaddle with anyone else, but I found myself craving more structure and focus. For the first time, I saw my business minor as not just a transcript — I saw it as a solution. My husband, Matt, naturally loves the idea of “putting it all on black” and going for it. So within a few months of cutting the umbilical cord (literally), we started Bennett Communications. We wanted to provide for Nathan without missing out on his touches (which have now turned into touchdowns).Thanks to Nathan”s nudge, our entrepreneurial journey has led to a life full of structure, focus and purpose. We”ve swaddled three more babies since Nathan, and they have gurgled on our laps while we typed, and they”ve napped in the storage room of our Orem office. Our family life and work strife are intermingled in imperfect ways, but it”s the only life our two sons and two daughters have known. Together, the six of us are raising this demanding publishing business.

Nathan and Carson deliver Bride magazines to student housing.

\r\n\r\nThe truth is, Nathan”s birth was a present to me. I unwrapped my entrepreneurial side along with the most rewarding career of all — motherhood. Now I just hope there”s a book titled “What To Expect During the Teenage Years.

A leader is a tough act to follow

It snowed six inches at my house on the morning I was to speak at Snow College, which received no precipitation. Ironic.\r\n\r\nThe business department at this Ephraim campus asked me to speak about leadership qualities. Also ironic. I do spend my time interviewing and studying leaders, but I certainly don”t consider myself to be the leader of any pack.\r\n\r\nA leader keeps a clean desk. A leader works far in advance as to avoid any last-minute stress or frustration. A leader only takes on what she can handle and turns away opportunities when her plate is full.\r\n\r\nI”m no leader.\r\n\r\nBut I did enjoy thinking about leadership and presenting what I”ve learned after interviewing successful leaders the past 10 years. I guess you could say I”m more of a follower.\

UVU is for you — and me

I”ve been invited to the UVU Scholarship Ball for several years, and I”m embarrassed to say that there was always a scheduling conflict that led me to say “thanks, but no thanks.”\r\n\r\nIt”s not because I”m a Cougar (which I am). And it”s not because I don”t love UVU (which I do.) In fact, the cover story on Matt and Paige Holland (president and Mrs. president of UVU) in our Sept/Oct 2009 issue was one of my favorites. I”ve been telling people ever since then how much I liked both of them. In fact, (and for the record, that”s two facts in one paragraph), Michael McLean and I spent a few minutes singing Matt Holland”s praises during our recent interview for the next cover of Utah Valley Magazine. UVU is getting even better under his leadership.\r\n\r\nSo this year when we were graciously invited to sit at the Kirton and McConkie table at the UVU Scholarship Ball, we cleared our schedules and found our Wolverine pride. Which I”m happy to say we have WAY MORE of after going to the ball. The six-course meal was perhaps the fanciest feast I”ve ever laid a fork on. Although this picture doesn”t do it justice, here”s the dessert.\r\n\r\nIt was an amazing night, emceed by Noelle Pikus-Pace, who was featured in our Jan/Feb 2010 issue as she headed to the Winter Olympics. She”s a local favorite, and for good reason. The entire night was first-class. And so is Utah Valley University.

Differences don’t make much difference

Today I finished editing our women”s issue of BusinessQ. We gathered some of the valley”s most outspoken and inspoken (that SHOULD be a word) females to talk about glass ceilings, choices and balance schmalance.\r\n\r\nI”m always curious about what makes each woman unique in her approach to work and family, but when I close my laptop after each chat I come to the same conclusion:  all women are somewhat un-unique (another made-up word) because we all yearn for our families to be happy and to find our own version of peace in our roles. You”ll read more when this winter issue makes its way to mailboxes and waiting rooms in early December. (Big shout out to Briana, Dave, Greg, Roxanne, Alison, Kenneth and MaryLyn for their hard work on this issue!) In between girly editing sessions today, I spent time with three different — but same — women. First, I interviewed Stephanie Nielson of fame. I wanted to find out more about the plane crash that nearly took her life and the blog that has chronicled her journey for millions of readers. I can”t say I understand what she”s been through — every plane I”ve flown in has taken off and landed with nary a bump. True, Stephanie and I may have different pasts and skin tones, but we both have four children — two girls, two boys — and we are both living lives we didn”t envision when we were on student council in different states. Sure, she”s been on Oprah. But I”ve WATCHED Oprah, so we”re pretty much two peas in this Utah Valley pod. After the fascinating and inspirational interview (which will appear in our January issue of Utah Valley Magazine), I met Matt and our staff for lunch at Costa Vida in Provo. Matt was eager to use a new iPhone app, so he told me and Kate (one of our talented editors) to pose for our “vintage pic.”Again, we”re two women with insignificant differences. Kate (left) is an active single twentysomething who can pull off a French accent flawlessly. I”m a married mother who goes to bed at 10 p.m. and can barely speak Pig Latin. But we both care about creating quality magazines, and we like to swap stories of natural curls and the effort it takes to maintain our blonde status. Sameness all around. Tonight I spent time with my third “woman” of the day when we celebrated my sister Rachelle”s birthday over pizza. Can you tell how old she is? (My husband wanted the Purple Pig Pizza-ites to sing with sombreros, but they chose to say happy birthday with pepperoni instead.)\r\n\r\nRachelle and I were born 22 months apart, but we got married 13 years apart. She speaks fluent Spanish — and I”ve already revealed my lack of language. She teaches fifth grade, yet I would pull my curly hair out if I had to spend my days reminding 35 kids to wash their hands and use a kleenex. But Rachelle and I are the same in that we share a love for Idaho, texting, eating out and planning a girls outing (we need a little less talk and a lot more action on that one).\r\n\r\nMy three female companions today (Stephanie, Kate and Rachelle) were the perfect start to my Thanksgiving week. I”m grateful for the women in my life who teach me that differences don”t make much difference.

This week my “real life” has been really cool.

I”ve rewritten this first sentence several times, and I can”t figure out the best way to say that I love my life. And I love Utah County. And I love that Utah Valley Magazine is a way for me to be inspired by others who love their lives and Utah County. Today, I met Devin Durrant. In a blog post earlier this year, I made a “note to self” to write about the basketball phenom — and today he came in for an interview and photo shoot. My husband, Matt, grew up watching Devin”s moves on the court and listening to George Durrant”s stories as he fell asleep. It”s always cool when your heroes exceed your expectations when you meet them in real life. And father-son combo George and Devin have both done that for me! Speaking of “Real Life,” yesterday I was THE FIRST to hear a brand new song with that title (or at least that”s what Michael McLean told me). There, I said it. Michael McLean is going to be on our Christmas cover. Perfect, right? Between “Mr Krueger”s Christmas” and “Forgotten Carols,” this man is practically the little drummer boy. Here”s a sneak peek at the photo setup at the McLean home.  MaryLyn Linge was dangling out the back door to get the perfect angle for the piano and Christmas tree. My laptop was open on the table because Michael kept spouting quotables as we tried out different poses and scarves while listening to Michael Buble.

Cover to cover and coast to coast

When the magazine business gets tough, the tough go to Hawaii. With a few hundred thousand frequent flier miles under our glossy, 4-color belts (mostly from charging various printing projects to our American Express cards), we packed our carry-ons with snorkel gear and Lime Ricki swimsuits and headed out over the Pacific. But before Matt and I earned our first frequent flier mile, we started Bennett Communications by selling subscriptions to our educational newsletters in 1998. It became our full-time livelihood in 2000 when we partnered with Kendall and Roxanne Bennett to sell ads and get Utah Valley Magazine off the ground. Ten years later, we still enjoy spending time together.

Here’s the Hawaii group minus Matt (his hands were dry enough to snap this pic at Hanauma Bay).

We managed to limit our “work talk” to the morning when we all checked our e-mails, swapped information and made decisions about our Nov/Dec issue of Utah Valley Magazine, which was still in the works back in Orem. But mostly, we tried to stay on Aleutian Standard Time (4 hours earlier than Utah time).

I have new respect for Tarzan after trying to swing on this vine at the Honolulu LDS Tabernacle on Waikiki. Ouch!

Unfortunately, Honolulu already has a magazine so we hauled our publishing skills home yesterday. Now we”re sharing chocolate-covered macadamia nuts with our staff and trying to swing our way through our inboxes.