Tag Archives: Arizona business

Debbie, the reason I can now focus on what I love – #2

It was the culmination of two years of tiny, incremental steps — of conflicting emotions, of learning to let go, of recognizing my own limitations and finding ways to compensate for them, of doing what I knew in my heart was best for my “baby.”

Isn’t that what mothers do? We spend a couple of decades nurturing, feeding, supporting, losing sleep in worry, loving with an ache that is both exquisite and unbearable. And then, because it’s what is right, we step away.

I took one of those steps yesterday, the first business day of this new decade. And my “baby,” the magazine that grew up with me and my now-adult sons, is taking its first bold steps away from me.

At our staff meeting yesterday, I made an announcement. It wasn’t a great surprise to anyone who has seen me laying the groundwork. But I felt it was time for the demarcation — a formal declaration that we have crossed a line and won’t be going back.

“As of today,” I told my staff, “I am no longer the person running the business side of Raising Arizona Kids.”

My voice was shaking. Though I am confident about this new direction, it’s hard to admit you can’t do it all. Wearing the many hats required of a full-time editor and publisher is exhausting. For 20 years I have been in triage — always making tough decisions about which aspects of my job would get my full attention.

I have loved running my business. For someone who played “office” as a little girl instead of “house,” it has been the culmination of a dream. But I had other dreams when I first got into this — dreams that have gone unfulfilled as I’ve done what mothers do when raising their children: make time for everyone but themselves and their own creative fulfillment.

So I have turned over the business operations to longtime staffer Debbie Davis. And Debbie, who has run our circulation department since the fall of 2000, is turning over her duties to Community Relations Manager Katie Charland. The shift will create more time for me to focus on what I love best: content development for the magazine and raisingarizonakids.com.

It’s been two years since I first brought Debbie into the process of business and financial operations for Raising Arizona Kids. We started out gradually, working together on budgets and tracking. Debbie has a long career history in publishing, a good head for business and better business instincts than mine. I am not sure we would have survived the difficult economic downturn in 2009 were it not for her perspective and foresight.

Bit by bit, I taught Debbie what I’d learned in 20 years of making decisions, making discoveries and making plenty of downright disastrous mistakes. Sometimes it was really painful for me; it is easy to feel vulnerable and defensive about something as laden with emotion as money (or lack thereof). Sometimes I’d find myself feeling territorial as she gently probed for explanations or reasons. When she sensed my back was up, she backed off. We waited for another day.

Ultimately, I had to accept two things in order to make this work: (1) that Debbie was not judging anything I’d done and in fact was full of admiration for self-taught systems I’d created from years of trial-and-error and (2) that you must embrace the fear of letting someone in if you want the relief of letting go.

A few days ago I stared a list of “1,000 people to thank before I die.” Today, I’m adding Debbie to that list. Thanks to her patience, her perseverance and her sincere desire to improve the quality and stability of both my life and my business, I am looking forward to new adventures. — Karen


Moments of exasperation

The Oki printer hates me. Especially on Monday mornings, when I need it most.

We have 10am staff meetings every Monday. These meetings are very important to me. It’s a time to get everyone on the same page, share concerns, problem-solve as a team and set the tone and direction for the week ahead. I stress about these meetings because I want them to run smoothly. No one on my team has time to waste and I certainly don’t want to be the catalyst.

So I spend quite a bit of time each weekend preparing. Culling through emails from the week before, sifting through notes I’ve plopped into my “meeting agenda” folder, printing handouts everyone will need to make informed decisions. No matter how much I do ahead of time, I rarely achieve the flawlessly efficient meetings I crave. And I’m often late getting them started.

So I blame that darn Oki printer. I bought it in haste a few years ago when our old printer conked out and we had a deadline to meet. I didn’t do any research. I didn’t go online to read the blogs or visit Consumer Reports. (Neither of my brothers will make a purchase without taking both of these steps.) I think the Oki senses my utter lack of regard, so it punishes me every Monday, when I inevitably discover just one more document I need to print for my staff meeting. It simply won’t print from my computer.

Mala, our calendar & directories editor, is the computer’s muse. She seems to be able to coax it to do anything she wants. But she is nice to it. She nourishes it with new cartridges, fills its paper tray, talks to it in soothing tones. I flail around the office in a panic, saying to anyone within earshot, “This darn thing won’t print again!”

Inevitably, it works absolutely fine as soon as our meeting has ended.

There are many moments of sheer exasperation when you’re trying to run a company. I’ve been going through some of my old RAK History files, laughing as I read and remember some of them. Here’s one example.

On a Saturday morning in 1991, I  was driving up the Dreamy Draw (now Piestewa Peak Freeway). I had just picked up a load of magazines from the printer. (I can’t remember now why I would have been doing this on a Saturday.)

The back of my mini-van popped open, spilling boxes of magazines onto the heavily traveled road. Both my sons were in the car with me, safely strapped into car seats (thank goodness). So I took them home to Dan and went back by myself, recklessly darting into the road to recover as much of our precious inventory as I could manage. Many boxes worth were ruined or lost.

It’s funny now. It wasn’t so funny then. So maybe some day I’ll be able to laugh about the Oki printer, too.