Not a Week for the Weak

Things are hopping at Bennett Communications this week. Sure, we turned in the Utah Realtors Association quarterly magazine. True, we hand-tabulated thousands of reader choice surveys. Yes, we are organizing interviews with five Olympians. But the real newsflash has everything to do with photography. Dave Blackhurst photographed four members of our magazine family for our next issue of Utah Valley Bride. When you see this pic in the magazine, these dresses will be cropped and headless. But in this behind-the-scenes shot, you can see (from left) Leah Aldous (graphic designer); Kate Lehnhof (editor); Alison Dyer (ad rep); and Whitney Behling (office manager). They obviously look amazing in solid-colored dresses and brown cowgirl boots, but you should also see how beautiful they are at their jobs — and their job descriptions are obviously all over the place, including this field behind our Orem office. Here is a close-up of Kate (green dress) who is our very own Utah Valley Bride. She’s planning her nuptials as she plans the pages of our bride magazine. You might call it editorial research — with a bit of permanence attached to it. We also photographed 20 locally sold wedding dresses this week with Kenneth Linge at InStudio. It’s been a picture-worthy week here, and we can’t wait to show you the final results!

10 Things I Shoulda Blogged About

So it’s been six weeks since I blogged. I have at least six excuses, but instead I’ll tell you 10 things I shoulda, coulda, woulda blogged about. Hailey, my 11-year-old, accompanied me to the fifth annual Women in Philanthropy Gala this past Saturday. Several people said she looks like a mini-me … maybe it’s because she gets dressed in my closet.
One of the women who caught my eye at the Women in Philanthropy gala was Meredith Gaufin, who was our “cover girl” for our May/June 2010 issue of Utah Valley Magazine. There are THREE girls in the photo above (which hopefully explains the “bump”). At my 20-week ultrasound two weeks ago, Matt and I identified the gender and smiled at each other before the technician could type, “I’m a girl!” The tie has been broken. We’re all happy except for Carson, my youngest son. He fasted on Sunday that the baby would be a boy. And the kid’s got faith, so this could make for an interesting March delivery. My kids threw two things off the Space Needle in Seattle during fall break. We’re lucky we’re not sitting in the Seattle Jail right now. I turned 37 this past month. Matt’s thoughtful streak of presents is still alive. He grabbed a brick from the rubble of our first Provo apartment (affectionately called “rat hole” by our affluent newlywed friends) and had “1995” engraved on it. That’s the year we became roommates and I became a Bennett. I plan to keep this brick for the rest of my life. And I plan to avoid living in another rat hole for the rest of my life.) This made up for his other birthday gift, which was the same book he gave me for my 36th birthday. He thought it looked familiar …) My youngest son turned 8 on the same day his grandfather turned 65. Neither of them plan to retire anytime soon.My oldest son turned 14 and had his birthday all to himself. I put on a race-themed leadership meeting for Young Women leaders. Despite a recent stall in my running career, I was out of breath during my entire presentation (see item #3). I spoke on three panels within a month’s time. One was at TouchPoint, one at a book conference at UVU, and one at a Women’s Business Conference. Panels are the way to go. Expectations for visual aids are low, I can “pass” on a question, and I learn oodles from the other panelists. Oh, and I sit behind a table where nobody can see my ankles (again, see item #3).So there you have it. Ten news items, zero excuses, 22 weeks gestation and three birthdays within a month. Life is good — and that’s more than just a T-shirt slogan in my often-raided closet.

9 Years and 9 Things

(Above: Greg Bennett at a recent interview/photo shoot with the UVU basketball coach. Greg is our “sports editor” here at BC.) This month marks NINE YEARS since my brother-in-law came on board as an editor and writer here at Bennett Communications. There are many kind quips I could share about being related to Greg and working with this man who is 13 months my junior, but here are nine to celebrate the same number of years we’ve breathed the same deadline air. Although Greg and my husband are the same height and hair color, those of us “in the know” can tell these brothers apart instantly by looks and personality. But many clients and community members think Matt and Greg are one and the same. I love that Greg knows when to correct people and when to just “go with it.” Greg is the world’s expert in organizing and producing Parade of Homes magazines from start to finish. I have a call into Guinness to make sure the world knows there is nobody better at coordinating floor plans, subcontractor lists, sponsor ads and last-minute changes. Greg keeps our HBA clients happy in Utah Valley, Park City, Northern Wasatch and Salt Lake. And that keeps me happy. No other staffer can add humor to our monthly meetings like Greg can. His serious side easily gives way to pop culture references and spot-on impersonations. In our first out-of-home office at the mouth of Provo Canyon, I shared a small room with Greg, Matt and our intern. Tight quarters led to funnies and frustration. When Greg repeatedly asked a certain intern to turn down her Celine Dion music, she started to hold her head down close to the speakers to hear the single decibel Greg would allow. I can’t hear Celine Dion anymore without picturing someone voluntarily getting a neck cramp to keep Greg happy. I’ve been bossing Greg around since 9th grade when I was the yearbook editor of our junior high, and he was the star seventh grader on the staff. He knows when to listen to me, when to ignore me and when to spoon feed me advice and perspective. Greg patiently waited at numerous press conferences and media moments trying to line up an interview with THE JIMMER for our March/April 2011 cover story in Utah Valley Magazine. Greg did eventually get to ask the Qs to the man-of-the-hour. Some have asked why I didn’t do that interview. Of course I would have loved to chat with Jimmer, but I didn’t have the stamina for the media frenzy. Greg to the rescue. Greg organizes a Bennett Communications tradition — Pick ’ems, which is a weekly lunch dedicated to predicting football outcomes for the upcoming weekend. He tracks the games and names the winner each Monday morning. Greg also organizes the cleaning assignments here at the BC. We’re not fancy pants enough to have an after-hours janitorial crew. Our staff cleans toilets and takes out garbage in between photo shoots and interviews. And Greg is the one who keeps the job chart alive. You might say he’s the mom of the office — but if you do say that, be prepared for him to sling a lighthearted comeback your way.9) As our longest-tenured staff member (other than myself, Matt, Kendall and Roxanne), Greg has lived BC history. Last Christmas, he volunteered to create a video celebrating the company timeline. He tracked down embarrassing pictures and ensured everyone’s face got some face time. And today I wanted to shed a little spotlight on him. Thanks for nine dedicated and delirious years, Greg! You make the office a happy — and funny — place to be.

Jeanette Squared

Back in May, Jeanette Herbert and I chatted in the parlor of the Governor’s Mansion in Salt Lake City. Our conversation jumped from parenting, to marriage, to home repair, to running a business. Her expertise and experience run the gamut, which made for a great interview and (hopefully) an enlightening cover story in our July/August issue of Utah Valley Magazine. Last night, I returned to the parlor as a guest at the Governor’s Mansion Artist Awards. Matt and I were invited by Layton Construction, which sponsors the awards. We publish Layton’s quarterly magazine and enjoy our business and personal relationship with this commercial construction company. The Herberts were gracious and entertaining hosts. The governor read a cowboy poem Jeanette had written for him. It poked fun at politicians and had the crowd giggling. I love that the Herberts take all forms of art — but not themselves — seriously. The program also named past recipients of the awards, and I easily found nine former Utah Valley cover stories on the list: Karen Ashton (September 2000 — premiere issue) Donny Osmond (March 2001) James Christensen (Christmas issue 2001) Ruth Hale (Christmas issue 2002) Gary Price (Christmas issue 2003) 5 Browns (March 2005) Sam Cardon (Christmas issue 2005) Kurt Bestor (Christmas issue 2009) Michael McLean (Christmas issue 2010) Jeanette and I continued our chat after the guests filed out of the third-floor ballroom. I’m proud to share a name with this classy and approachable First Lady.

Four Score and Seven Days Ago

Here are four “scores” from my first week of September … TIMPANOGOS STORYTELLING FESTIVAL. This annual event is where we go for a new batch of inside jokes and catchy rhymes. We love hearing from tellers around the country who bring their diversity to the stage and to their stories. My 11-year-old (you can see her hands in the bottom right) got so into the stories that she started painting her nails without remembering she was in tight quarters, which is the wrong place for strong smells. Maybe I’ll tell that story someday in a talk about manners. One of our favorite things to do when we’re at this beautiful late summer event is to browse the festival store. I’ve been talked into buying puppets the past several years. Now that our closets and fingers are full, we settled for a picture with puppets.
FLAPJACKS Another “score” this week was fixing Tree Street Grains pancakes for breakfast. We featured this locally made mix in our current issue of Utah Valley Magazine here. Although the mix has 16 grains, it touts itself as “amazingly mild,” which is important for my picky pancakers. They gave it two forks way up!
POWER WITH A POINT I also spoke to the Utah County Association of Realtors this week. Other than a major PowerPoint glitch that was fixed with a little audience participation, it was a great event. (FYI: I was “Plan B” when the president of SUU had to cancel last week, but I’m OK with Plan B because I feel like the expectations are lower.) I told them stories from our 11 years of running magazines, and here I am showing our very first cover of Utah Valley Magazine — which was oh-so-exciting in 2000 and oh-so-difficult to look at now. The lighting on Karen Ashton’s face wasn’t quite right. The best part of this meeting was a box lunch from Spark Restaurant. I’m still thinking about that wrap and guacamole. Click here to see their ad in the July issue of Utah Valley Magazine, which happens to include a coupon that doesn’t expire till the end of this month. Head to Provo and be fed.FABULOUS FRIEND AND HIS MOVIE Back in March, we printed one of my favorite stories of the year: our Fabulous 50. Christian Vuissa was part of our 2011 batch shown here. His latest creation is in theaters, but he also sent me a media review copy of “Joseph Smith: Volume 1 Plates of Gold.” I watched it this week, and it is really well done.  I learned new insights about the founders and founding of the LDS Church. If you want filmmakers to make clean, meaningful films, then vote with your dollars and catch this flick in the theaters this weekend. That concludes my “four score” roundup for the week. September is off to a winning start!

Watching the Phones

Maybe it’s because we write a lot about local dining options. Maybe it’s because we photograph food and design delicious pages. Or maybe it’s just because writing/editing/designing/selling equals appetite. For whatever reason, our staff likes to eat out. All summer, we’ve met on Wednesdays for lunch at either Milagros, Cafe Rio or Costa Vida. (We thought we’d pick a theme and go with it. Mexican for all.) Today marks the start of our fall lunch tradition — pick ’ems. Once a week during college football season, we go to lunch and jot down our predictions for the wins/losses on the field this weekend. The winning staffer is announced on the following Monday, and he/she picks the restaurant for the next pick ’ems. Week in, week out. Food in, well … you get the picture.College football starts THIS WEEK, and my husband thinks it’s basically Christmas. Today’s football lunch is at Mama Chus at the mouth of Provo Canyon. Our first office was just up the hill from this must-eat location, so it’s a pick ’ems tradition to kick off college football around the Mama Chus table. Lunch specials all around. The only drawback is that I drew the short straw and I’m watching the phones while everyone else prognosticates and pounds down enchiladas. Truth? I haven’t been studying the teams and wouldn’t be a good predictor of wins/losses. But don’t tell my husband. He thinks I’ve been listening the past few weeks when he’s been giving me the rundown on teams, schedules and injuries.So far during my lonely office time, I’ve talked to a print salesperson, someone with a question about her subscription and a client who walked in to pay his bill. And I’ve looked through old pictures of staff lunches like this one  … I hope they remember to bring me back an entree.

Ann or Bust!

“Iowans for Mitt” tracked me down a few weeks ago. They wanted to make buttons of Mitt Romney and Ann Romney as part of their efforts to elect the best man for president (so much for my journalistic objectivity). Although they already had a photo of Mitt, they were searching for a great shot of Ann — and they came across our July/August 2008 issue. So we tracked down the raw image and e-mailed them our lovely Ann Romney photo, which we took on a Thursday in Southern California. It had been a year-long process to land on Ann’s busy schedule in June 2008. I jumped at the chance when her assistant finally offered, “She DOES have time this week if you can come to California.” Being editor of Utah Valley Magazine doesn’t involve much travel, so I was giddy to buy plane tickets for me and for the photographers. After all, I’d been staring at the “Ann or bust!” note pinned above my desk for months (I actually still have it up for a confidence booster). And now that long-awaited interview and photo shoot is memorialized on the lapels of Mitt lovers in Iowa and beyond. (I think our photo of Ann outshines Mitt’s mug, no?) My friends in Iowa sent us a batch of pins as a thank-you for the photo rights, and our art director, Dave, sports both faces on his shoulders. Instead of a devil and an angel whispering advice, Dave says the pins represent two angels helping him make decisions about layouts, fonts and photo backdrops. Watch out, readers! The next issue will be truly inspired!

Give or Take 60 Minutes

Sixty minutes may not seem that long — unless YOU are the one at the microphone. A few weeks ago, I was asked if I would share my limited wisdom with BYU’s Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology and the Associate Entrepreneur Founders Organization (this is a long fancy title for younger entrepreneurs who affiliate with BYU). I agreed to speak because things scheduled into the future always sound fun to me! The organizers sent me the agenda, which indicated that my presentation would be 1 hour 20 minutes. Gulp! In 80 minutes I could tell my entire life story — including a dramatic reading of my first published work, which was a poem about Lewis and Clark. I speak fast, so I can get through a lot of words in 1 hour 20 minutes. I started jotting down ideas electronically and on sticky notes while driving and sleeping. Later I learned there had been a typo on the agenda and I really only had 20 minutes. No dramatic readings necessary! Twenty minutes is the perfect window of time to tell our business story, including how we sold our house to pay the first magazine printing bill and how we didn’t take credit cards the first year and a half because we thought the setup fee was too steep. I titled my brief presentation “Everything I needed to know I learned from running a magazine.” My table-mate took this picture of me sharing my and my Powerpoint. From this angle, you can see my open laptop. Note to self: Clean the screen before taking the silver slavedriver out in public! I was horrified when I saw the “summer of smears” displayed front and center. Sheesh. Part of the event included a tour of the Energy Solutions Arena and the Jazz locker room. Do you think Karl Malone sat in this chair? Because as soon as I took a seat I wanted to talk about myself in third person. Jeanette Bennett hopes the NBA lockout gets over soon because Jeanette Bennett likes it when Hudson Printing invites her to share their front-row seats. And Jeanette Bennett bought her son tickets to see Jimmer vs. Jazz in January! The event ended with BYU giving me a lovely wooden box full of truffles. I’m sorry to say the truffles were gone before I hit I-15. My minivan said it was 98 degrees, and I didn’t want to risk a meltdown. Thank you, BYU, for making me feel so welcome today at your AEFO luncheon! Let’s hear it for entrepreneurs! Let’s hear it for shorter speeches! Let’s hear it for sugar headaches while driving home to Utah County!

The Other Side of the Question Marks

I’ve always liked to listen. I used to eavesdrop when my mom would shuffle around the kitchen as she talked on our corded cream-colored phone. I learned new words and new information — such as the cause of death for my grandma and that my mom was officially done after having seven kids. So becoming a journalist was natural for me. I asked the questions and listened to the answers. That’s my skillset. And this is why it’s unnatural for me to be on the other side of the question marks. The only plus is that I’m reminded of how hot the hot seat can be.My most recent Q&A (where I’m the “A”) was for Startup Princess. They’ve invited me to be part of their Touchpoint conference next month, and we did a little get-to-know-you in preparation. Here is what I had to say. There’s a bit of a personal announcement buried in there that may surprise some of you just the way it surprised me and Matt. But I love surprises almost as much as I love listening.

Modern Medicine or Why I Haven’t Blogged Lately

WARNING: TODAY’S PICTURES AREN’T FOR THE FAINT OF HEART. PLEASE CLICK AWAY IF YOU ARE QUEASY OR IF YOU ARE EATING RIGHT NOW OR IF YOU HAVE ANYTHING BETTER TO DO. ANYTHING AT ALL! It’s Aug. 10th. AUGUST 10th! That means the school bell is about to ring, and my four whirlwinds will whirl back to their desks. With any luck, we may stop making regular trips to the emergency room for our summer antics.TRIP #1We had just arrived at our family reunion lodge after spending the day sniffing geysers in Yellowstone. Lindsey (age 6) kicked off her shoes and began running wild with cousins. Within minutes, she was mumbling quietly at Matt’s side about a ripped ear. I tried to do the ol’ approach of “you’ll be OK — be tough.” I was mostly doing this because I didn’t want anything to be wrong. Matt was wiser and knew stitches were needed for this jump-off-a-cabin-bunkbed-into-a-door escapade. After failing to find medical services anywhere near Mack’s Inn or West Yellowstone, Lindsey got stitched up in Rexburg. The doctor said if it hadn’t been for people from Utah, the ER would have been quiet that night. Maybe Utahns just aren’t made for the tough Idaho conditions.TRIP #2The second ER trip was just a few days after the first. We returned home from Idaho/Yellowstone and got back to work. Nathan (age 13) cleans our office in the summer, which is where he saw a dormant ping pong table. “Why is this gathering dust here when it could be gathering friends at our house?” he asked. So he and Matt strapped it on the top of our car and brought it home. Within 24 hours, Nathan was moving the table around in our basement when it fell on him and caused his leg to look like it had been attacked by an axe murderer. Luckily, I was home at the time (thanks to a flexible schedule), and I was able to overreact and scream like any queasy mother would when she saw her son’s leg dripping in blood. Nathan said, “Mom, it’s going to be OK. Just drive me to the hospital to get stitches.” That’s about all I could do. That and cry. I didn’t like watching my son writhe around when they were cleaning and numbing the deep gash. The only concern Nathan had was whether he could play in a lacrosse game the next day and try out for football two days later. No and no, they said. That’s when Nathan felt true pain.These medical excursions are just one reason this blog has dropped down the priority list the past month or so. Another reason might be laziness. Another might be laptop-itis (I find myself wanting to put away this silver slavedriver whenever I get the chance.) I’m hoping to recover in time to finish our Sept/Oct issue of Utah Valley Magazine. Hint: It’s look-alike season!