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 nienidialogues.com 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.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas — and pioneers

Our Nov/Dec issue of Utah Valley Magazine will go to the printer in less than two weeks, so naturally we took our staff Christmas pic yesterday when the high was 69 in sunny Orem.I sent out a reminder text on Sunday night to wear black, denim and red accents. What did we do before texting? I”ll tell you what we did. We LOL when someone showed up in bright blue for our staff Christmas photo shoot a few years ago — a mistake that cost us two hours in Photoshop. That sales rep no longer works with us (not necessarily because of the blue shirt incident).\r\n\r\nThis year, everyone followed the dress code so well that we looked like the staff of Suggestions Salon or Remedez. Bang trim, anyone?\r\n\r\nAs we finished setting up the lights, our gregarious writers, designers and ad reps swapped stories from the weekend, including a sighting of one of the “Sister Wives” coming out of Victoria”s Secret.

I love it that Matt takes charge of the chaos that is the staff photo. He brought our garland from home to add holiday cheer to this Christmas card pic.
Kendall (my cool bro-in-law) says he was blinded by the flash. We think he’s showing us his ’70s dance moves (he is the senior member of the staff). 
Who says working with your spouse is difficult? Kendall and Roxanne show a little love. Apparently Alison doesn’t approve.
This pic WON’T be on our Christmas card. We were attempting to do the “pioneer pose” with straight faces. Some pulled it off better than others.

Ironically, the “soundtrack” to this photo was baby Addison screaming at the top of her lungs while rocking her carseat next to the tripod. She wanted her mom, Kristy (seated on the far left), to pick her up NOW. Poor thing. This felt like the opposite of Christmas Day to her.\r\n\r\nIn the end, we got a great shot that will be coming to a mailbox near you — if you are one of our clients or colleagues.\r\n\r\nAnd now we”ll jingle our way back to our regularly scheduled fall weather and clothing while we wrap up our Christmas issue. Ho, Ho, Ho will be over for us before Ha, Ha, Halloween. Maybe I”ll put my black clothes back on and call it a hair stylist costume.

A peek at my week

Other than a giant gash to the forehead I sustained on Sunday while sustaining my church leaders, I could do Oct. 3-Oct. 8 again. With my birthday, a festive Christmas interview, 7th grade football victory, staff lunch at Malawi”s and pleasant parent-teacher conferences, this would be a good Groundhog”s Week (repeat, repeat, repeat).\r\n\r\nBut first, the gash. Last weekend was General Conference, which means two days of church on TV. Which means I don”t have to play the organ OR create a weekly bulletin. It”s fantastic. But it”s also sleep-inducing. So I decided to listen while I cleaned out the cupboards, including the too-crowded-to-be-useful recipe cupboard above the fridge. I was up, down and all around while I pawed through each recipe book and magazine scrap. I finally came to terms that I do not use the Lions Club Cookbook from the early 1990s and buried it in the trash. Then I leaped back up on the stool and stood straight up into the open cupboard door. The blunt force left me with a Harry Potter-sized scar on my forehead and a headache the size of a groundhog.

The day after the gash, we had lunch at Marley’s in Lindon so we could use our soon-to-be-expired coupons for free sliders. I chose salmon. Yum!! (My head is still throbbing, but the Advil is helping out.)

Once we got the bleeding to stop, the week picked up. I turned 36.

My staff surprised me with a birthday cake. My favorite part of this pic is Dave — he’s in the doorway wearing a hard hat. I had told the staff they didn’t need to buy me gifts because my “love language” was acts of service. He served me by removing the hat, which has been hiding in the top of my cupboard for years. (Think recipe books.)

\r\nI also did the interview for our Christmas cover of Utah Valley Magazine on my birthday. Ready for another clue on this mystery man? He has a new Christmas book coming out, but you wouldn”t necessarily think of him as an author. Any guesses?\r\n\r\nAs a magazine staff, we had lunch at Malawi”s on Wednesday in the Shops at Riverwoods (old Magleby”s location). Our tastebuds like to visit our advertisers, and this will be the first of many visits to this pizza/pasta heaven. The Santa Fe pizza was like Cafe Rio on a perfect crust. I ate the whole thing. This diet is not going well so far.\r\n\r\n

Briana (plus baby), Kate and Whitney shared their Malawi’s entrees on their side of the table.

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Trish, Greg and Kendall did not share their entrees on their side of the table.

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Roxanne and Alison realized they knew the waiter. Our sales staff has friends all over town.

I ended the week with a lunchtime speech at the Pleasant Grove Chamber of Commerce where I shared what I”ve learned about leadership in the past 10 years as owner/editor of Utah Valley Magazine.

At the luncheon, Veronica Chapman of Pro Digital Photos was given an award. She advertises in Utah Valley Magazine and Utah Valley Bride. Great lady! Great business!

This post feels long. Like a week long. So I”ll finish by saying I hope I wake up tomorrow and find myself at the beginning of this week again. (My diet is telling me otherwise … did you see how many times we ate out?)

Tried and Texted

Christmas might seem like it”s over the river and through the three-months-away woods to you, but in the magazine business the holidays are over before they even start. For us, Christmastime is September through mid-October. Which is why I”ve been PANICKING about the Christmas cover of Utah Valley Magazine. It”s been a calendar conundrum of a summer/fall, and up until this week the only effort I had put toward the Christmas cover was to stress about it. But today while having a celebratory lunch at Emmett”s and Ethel”s in Lehi, I exchanged texts with the PERFECT Christmas cover subject.He (there”s your first clue — it”s a MAN) said he”d be happy to take my call and schedule the interview. What a gift! But Lehi High and Westlake High were having a healthy rivalry in the surrounding booths, so it didn”t seem like the perfect setting for an important call regarding a festive photo and interview about figgy pudding. Plus, I wanted to enjoy the fish platter and “Peach Bomb” while I gathered my thoughts.

With fried peaches dripped in caramel, the Peach Bomb is the ultimate “healthy” dessert. We’ve written about it in Utah Valley Magazine and MainStreet Magazine, and I had never tasted it for myself. And since I started a new diet this morning, today seemed like the perfect day to give it a try. 

So, I delayed the Christmas phone call and laughed at my co-workers while we ate and retold stories of the BC (Bennett Communications). Today was Dave Blackhurst”s seven-year anniversary of being the art director for our magazines.

Dave, the most patient man on the planet, is in the middle. (He’ll move things a little left, a little right, all day long if I ask him to. And I have.) Matt, my main man and business partner, is on the left. Greg, my bro-in-law and eight-year BC veteran, is on the right. I was his yearbook editor when we were in junior high. He once passed me a note in the hall. True story.

Over our fries and milkshakes, we relived the days when four of us shared one small office. We laughed about the delivery man who asked to use our bathroom and then left the door open while he took care of business. And we patted ourselves on the back that the most PG-13 day at BC was when Dave s-p-e-l-l-e-d out a swear word after he lost a big magazine file. It was loud. And funny. And mildly offensive to our BYU-grad ears (he”s the only non-Cougar in the editorial/art department).

Leah Aldous and Kate Lehnhof are relatively new to our company, but they still giggled at the stories of yesteryear. Kate and I have made a few memories of our own doing interviews in Phoenix and Newport Beach. Think “poetry” on speaker phone.

After the last slurp, we headed back to our Orem office. I called Mr. Christmas, who invited me to his house on Tuesday — which happens to be my birthday.\r\n\r\nI have a feeling more magazine memories are just over the river and through the woods — which is exactly where I”m going for the interview (yet another cover clue. I”m practically giving it away).