The big speech on BYU’s campus yesterday was given by Jimmer at the Marriott Center. But Jan. 26 was also the day I was invited to lecture at BYU’s Marriott School as part of the Women Entrepreneur Lecture Series. Marriott Schmarriott.I don’t know how many points I scored with the audience, but I did steal a few laughs as I revealed embarrassing magazine moments such as knocking on Steve Young’s bedroom door and trying to leave a message for Ken Garff (who was no longer living at the time of my phone call). But mostly, I shared lessons from interviewing fabulous women like Ann Romney, Stephanie Nielson, Jane Clayson Johnson and others. The students popped questions I would have asked when I was a backpack-carrying, ponytail-wearing twentysomething. “How do you handle your roles as a mother and as a career woman?” Sigh. There’s no slam-dunk answer to that one. But I did share what I’ve learned from interviewing woman of all ages and childbearing backgrounds. Truth? It’s not easy. But neither is handing San Diego State their first loss of the season. You just put together a solid team and go after it. Granted, there will be wins and losses along the way. But that’s the madness of it. Count me in.
I once joined a committee just so I could rub shoulders with Mary Crafts (owner of Culinary Crafts). Four years later, I’m still involved with the United Way of Utah County Women in Philanthropy and I’m an even bigger fan of Mary’s shoulders. But I also rely on her tastebuds to try out the new and the proven eateries around Utah County. Today Mary and I shared a table and a feast at Milagro’s in Orem, as she will be reviewing Utah County’s newest Mexican hot spot in our next issue of Utah Valley Magazine. Milagro’s founder Dave Tuomisto has been feeding our community for years. He’s the brains and the hands behind Rosa’s, Bajio and Marley’s. And now he’s serving up a fresh menu that will bring him a loyal following yet again. Dave seated us at “Bronco’s table,” and told us we may have to step aside if BYU’s big man showed up for lunch. (Bronco has brought recruits and possible hires to Dave’s kitchen.) The VIP wooden table, which literally sits inside the kitchen, was originally the breadstick table at Magleby’s. Dave is a big-time promoter of locally owned restaurants. Mary’s review will come out the first week of March in our next issue of Utah Valley Magazine. But you don’t have to wait till then to find out her favorite local fare. Read her past reviews here. There’s a lot riding on her shoulders when it comes to promoting good local eats!
When I met photographers Kenneth and MaryLyn Linge in 2001, they were working out of their house and we were working out of ours. We met in their living room office soon after they moved to Orem from Norway, and we chatted about Utah Valley Bride Magazine — which was dancing around in my head but hadn’t yet seen the light of paper.We quickly recognized the quality of their work, and our first cover of Utah Valley Bride Magazine featured their photo of bride Leanne Freedman (wife of Downeast Outfitters owner). Since that 2002 cover (which is enlarged and displayed inside our lobby), we’ve done photo shoots together for Utah Valley Bride, Utah Valley Magazine and BusinessQ Magazine. And we’ve developed a picture-perfect friendship along the way. But last night, the cameras were turned on the Linges as their oldest daughter, Lindsey, married Benjamin Braithwaite. Beautiful Lindsey interned with us as a high schooler in 2005 and wowed us with her editing skills. We also put Lindsey to work last year blowing papers around and testing lights for the Audra McDonald photo shoot for our July/August cover feature for Utah Valley Magazine.
After 10 years of producing Utah Valley Bride Magazine, we still love seeing beautiful brides. Congratulations, Lindsey! Thanks for being you and for raising such great parents.
Today’s to-do list got nary a scratch. As soon as I got to work with Lindsey (the self-diagnosed-sick kindergartner), I began putting out fires like a NYC chief. She became chief of the whiteboard.My fires included four batches of changes to a Spanish version of a Nu Skin magazine — and mi espanol is not muy bien. Then I met with a local video whiz who shared her energy and ideas for adding moving pics to our moving stories. I looked through a photo shoot of Jimmer Fredette. (I know I wrote about him last week, too, but I’m not the one in the office with a Jimmer obsession. Or at least not the ONLY one …) Sam and I finalized the list of Fabulous 50 nominees. Kate and I talked through distribution of our Bride magazine. I asked my brother-in-law to try out the locally made ties that landed on my desk over the weekend. And my Macbook Pro kept up with the news about Steve Jobs and Apple stock. What I did NOT do was take my to-do list out of my bulging bag. And even if I had, I wouldn’t have crossed off “test the background/lighting for our happy couples photo shoot.” Dave (our art director) eventually got tired of waiting for me and Matt to be available at the same time for a photo, and he grabbed two new test subjects from the editorial room.
Matt gave some cub scouts a tour of our office this week — and delivered to them the devastating news that we don’t house our own printing presses. “There are only computers to see here, boys.” But these 8-year-olds delivered a surprise to him, too. They hadn’t heard of Jimmer Fredette. Jimmer!! Even if you don’t know about his 47-point highlight reel from Tuesday’s series-long-tiebreaker against Utah, you should know about this BYU wonderboy with a basketball. If nothing else, his name is fun to say. Jimmer. Jimmer! Jimmer!! But it’s not all about Jimmer (contrary to my paragraph above). He happens to have an impressive sidekick named Jackson Emery. And if you are a voracious Utah Valley Magazine reader, you’ve known about him since 2005 when he was one of our “high school students who will change the world.” (Click the pic to read about his favorite movie and high school memory.)We conducted this interview and photo shoot in April 2005 at the treehouse at University Mall (that crowded former landmark where every kneebiter in the county laughed and cried at one point). Jackson was kind and impressive and driven — and less bulky than he is now as a BYU senior. We also wrote about Jackson and the other local boys on the BYU squad in our Nov/Dec 2010 issue. As for that Jimmer character? More on him in our March/April 2011 issue.
We started BusinessQ Magazine in Spring 2003, which is also the year I had my third child. It was a year of laboring — and of being outnumbered. By children and magazine titles. With b-to-b stories pie-charting their way around the valley, the premiere issue of BusinessQ practically launched itself out of our first office at the mouth of Provo Canyon. Alan Ashton (of WordPerfect fame and fortune) graced the first cover with his tennis tie. It was word perfect. (Editor’s note: Please read that as clever — not boastful.)Fast forward eight years, and I’m the proud mother of an 8-year-old magazine and an almost 8-year-old first-grader. BusinessQ took a turn for the cool four years ago when we launched the UV50, which I describe as our version of the Fortune 500 or Inc 500. We name the top 50 companies in our spring issue, and we throw a gala in their honor. It’s nifty.This Friday is the deadline to apply to be part of the hoopla, and we’re still looking for fastest-growing companies, top revenue generators and startups to watch. The application could have been completed in the time you took to read this blog post. And with that, I’ll stop babbling while you apply.
My Grandpa Reeve handwrote a check for $10 in 2000 and became one of the first subscribers to Utah Valley Magazine. He now lives in West Jordan after outliving two wives, one of whom was my maternal grandmother — a former English teacher who died of cancer when I was 10. As a single 88-year-old World War II veteran, he carries on the grandparenting duties — including watching his great-grandson (my Carson) play Tiny Tim at Hale Center Orem last month. Grandpa was the best-dressed man in the theater.After receiving one of our 2003 issues of Utah Valley Magazine, Grandpa Reeve called and told me he was shocked (and not in a good way). That’s a conversation I don’t plan to have again. (And I won’t be linking to the shocker in this post. I’m smart like that.) Knowing Grandpa is going to read the magazine plays into the topics we cover — and the covers we design.Grandpa gave me similarly profound guidance when I was deciding who to marry. “Don’t marry a dunderhead,” he told me knee-to-knee. I speak “Grandpa,” so I knew what he meant. Shortly after, I married Matt Bennett who is certainly no dunderhead. In fact, he’s my level-headed business partner and best friend. Subscribers like Grandpa Reeve motivate me to produce magazines that are shocking only in good ways. And if I don’t succeed, I hope he’ll continue to tell me. If you have comments and advice to share, let’s go knee-to-knee electronically at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be a dunderhead not to listen.
You’re joining this blog “in progress” as today is the fifth and final day of behind-the-scenes pics and quips from our NieNie feature article in Utah Valley Magazine. Welcome!We took about 267 original photos, and we only ran five (the cover, table of contents, two in the main article and one with my editor’s letter). Here’s another great shot!You see, while the photographer was adjusting his equipment, Stephanie relaxed and googled around. “Want to know some of the top baby names in 2010?” she asked us. “Aiden, Jacob, Chloe … “This unrehearsed baby conversation at her “table for 8” was one of the reasons I started the story with the pregnancy anecdote.At the end of the photo shoot, the house was alive with all four of Stephanie’s kids, Christian (Mr. Nielson), two photographers, two stylists from Dear Lizzie and myself. Stephanie was appreciative of the hair and wardrobe assistance and quipped, “Jane, take notes!”Lastly, I want to share a smattering of quotes that didn’t make it into the article. Pages can be so confining!• “I’ve been given this second chance. How did I escape? I need to do some amazing things in life to make up for that.” “Sometimes I feel like giving advice is silly because we are all going to learn things however we need to. But hopefully what I say to people will put a seed in their heads.”• “I still enjoy hiking the Y regularly. Last week I crashed on the trail. My skin is so thin that I get huge sores. When I bend my elbows and knees, my skin breaks open again.” “People sometimes say, ‘I sound stupid saying this, but I feel like I know you because I read your blog.’ But I love it when people tell me that. It gives us something to talk about.” “Oprah didn’t want to meet with me before the show because she wanted her reaction to seeing me for the first time to be captured by the cameras. Oprah is a very warm woman and was joking during commercial breaks, but as soon as they said ‘cut,’ she was gone. I wasn’t expecting to go to dinner or anything, but it ended rather abruptly.”• “I’m mad that Oprah’s show comes on right when kids are coming home from school and need their moms. I know moms like to watch it, but it’s at such a bad time.” “It’s satisfying to hear readers say things like, ‘After reading about your weekly dates with your husband, I’ve started doing things with my husband again.’ “The first time I was back on an airplane, I was a little anxious on takeoff. But I don’t have the time and energy to worry about another plane crash. I don’t have control over what happens, so I just let it go. I figure if it’s my time to go, so be it.”Speaking of planes (Jeanette’s words now), Stephanie’s son Ollie whirled into the living room with an airplane made of Legos. I asked him if he made it. “No, my dad did,” he said. Yes, this family has done a lot of healing and letting go. And meeting them did me a world of good, too. I guess that’s the point. We all turn to Stephanie and her family to remind us that even though there’s bad in the world (like crashes and burns), there’s a whole wide world of love and possibilities that await each of us on our journey.
You might notice a giant blossom on Stephanie Nielson’s shirt. You might almost notice that it disappeared in the cover photo. (Scroll down to see the cover.) After taking a few shots with the flower, we plucked it so the attention would go straight to NieNie’s face — especially her eyes. Kenneth Linge fell in photographic love with NieNie’s eyeballs. Between takes he explained to her that eyes reveal emotion and reflect light (both key ingredients to a great photo). Stephanie’s eyes tell the story when it comes to the photographs, but MY eyes also told me a lot about her. Here’s what I saw … I snapped this photo with my phone (sorry for the poor quality), but I loved seeing Stephanie’s stacks of books on either side of the piano bench. She also had them fanned out under the tree — classic books like “Little Women.” I also saw a wooden high chair near the family table. And I noticed a box containing copies of the Book of Mormon between the couch and the dining table. When NieNie says it’s her favorite book, I believe her. I also saw two friendly faces come to her door. During the interview, Stephanie’s sister-in-law Megan stopped by. And a pregnant sister Lucy popped in during the photo shoot. When she heard we were doing a cover story for Utah Valley Magazine, she said, “That Stephanie!” Stephanie didn’t have to tell me she was sincere on her blog. I saw with my own eyeballs (aka reflectors of light) that love and friendships are everyday happenings in her offline life. “Utah in general is a very caring community,” Stephanie says. “When I go to Target, I see women who would do anything for anybody. We as women need to embrace that and stop feeling like we have to do everything ourselves. We’ve been given people in our lives who can help us.” For Stephanie, one of those “people” is Courtney. Known as “C. Jane” in the blogging world, Courtney is Stephanie’s neighbor and the second mother to her children.“She’s always the backup,” Stephanie says. “And I couldn’t be more grateful for that.” One last photo for today … This snapshot gives you a glimpse of Stephanie’s hallway. At the end is the pre-crash family photo that Stephanie and the other mother looked at during the Oprah episode. If you look really hard, you can also see the initials of the six Nielsons displayed vertically. I love how each individual is acknowledged and represented in this household. In other words, I think Stephanie is The Bee’s Nies. Come back tomorrow and read a handful of quotes that didn’t make it into the Utah Valley Magazine article.
I knew Stephanie Nielson was popular. Heck, I wrote a seven-page article and multiple blog posts about her celebrity status. But I still didn’t anticipate the electronic mayhem that erupted this morning when nieniedialogues.com blogged about the cover story in our newly released Utah Valley Magazine. I apologize if you spent time this morning staring at our crashed website as it sluggishly tried to pull up the article. But I know WHY so many of you read and need NieNie. I started following her blog this past year, and now I can’t start my day without checking in with Stephanie and her witty sister Courtney (aka C. Jane). When Stephanie revealed her 2011 calendar, I knew she’d be perfect to help us start the year with perspective. When we arrived for the photo shoot last month, Nicholas was her only child at home. But with Stephanie’s three changes of clothes, hairdos and multiple light setups, the clock ticked and tocked until the other kids came home. The girls wanted to share their after-school stories with mom. She listened intently and then invited them to go help their dad in the backyard while we snapped the last few photos. I love to watch other women juggle the good, better and best that life tosses their way.I did my own balancing act that day as my phone kept ringing and buzzing. My husband and I exchanged six texts during the photo shoot. Topics? Kindergarten pickup and prizes for our company Christmas party. Ironically, I also missed a call that afternoon from Michael McLean — the cover man from our last issue of Utah Valley Magazine. I had seen “Forgotten Carols” the night before, and Michael was returning my congratulatory call on his festive performance.But enough about my phone log and back to the woman of the week — Stephanie Nielson. Come back tomorrow for another behind-the-scenes photo of Provo’s postess with the mostess.