The glue behind the product

First, to settle old business: I will publish the winning "Iconic Madison" submission in the October issue. Judging was delayed to accommodate some last-minute entries, and the lot is being judged even as I write this. So mea culpa, but the results are worth waiting for.

In the meantime, I’d like to share IB’s latest "issue celebration" and make a couple specific comments about IB’s editorial team.

IB staff was given a time frame to be available to come together to celebrate meeting our latest issue deadlines and sales goals – with the advice to dress appropriately to spend casual time outside. We were going on a magical mystery tour!

At the appointed time, they were each given a box lunch from Cousins and then put into either Jon’s vehicle or mine, both of which seat eight. We then drove to the Dells, where they were ushered onto the multi-terrain vehicle affectionately called a "Duck" for a lower-higher region tour of the Dells on water and on land.

Of course, that is a tourist hot spot, and all but four had done it before, though all were happy to do it again. But the second surprise location is not so well known (I was one of only a couple who’d been there), and it was a real thrill for me to share the Wisconsin Deer Park with my colleagues.

We walked on trails in the habitat where more than 100 deer are free to wander as well, and while the deer have the option of staying behind a "safe zone" fence post, many will venture right up to strollers who are sporting packages of crackers. Deer have learned who those special treats are intended to feed, and they will overcome natural timidity to take one out of your hand. Many will stay by your side to nibble appreciatively, and even let you pet them.

There is something really spiritual about delving into a doe’s eyes or caressing a little fawn. I’m obviously not a hunter, except with a camera, so I find the opportunities to visit the park to be almost medicinal in nature. The experience is just really, really good for my soul. And to share it with friends (I’ve already shared it with family many times) is priceless. Which brings me to the comment about my editorial colleagues.

While we were there, I photographed one of our does – Jan Wilson – accepting a cracker from another staffer. She mugged for the camera, cracker in lips, like the really good sport she is.

Jan is part of the glue here at In Business. You know her as our departments editor, but she began at IB as associate publisher. She moved into a writing slot when that became the company’s greater need, and she excelled at it – and enjoyed it – so much that she’s never looked back.

But before that, she was my personal friend of many years, and I used to muse that if I ever got the chance to hire her at IB, I would, because I knew her work ethic and her strengths. I knew she was a team player wherever she worked, and I knew she always invested her heart and soul as well as her time into her work. And as far as loyalty, when I woke up from a major surgery over a decade ago, Jan was there. When she woke up from an equally frightening surgery after that, I was there to greet her.

Likewise, Joe Vanden Plas was my friend long before he was an IB editor. I recruited him immediately after starting and, when he couldn’t yet accommodate the move (he lives in Whitefish Bay), I kept after him for a couple years until we could make it work. Again, because I knew his work ethic, his values, and strengths. And his loyalties.

Tom Breuer was an unknown (I was out of writer friends, apparently, by the time I created his position), but he’s proving to be a gold nugget, too. I like him a lot.

They are the reason I most enjoy the issue celebrations – they and all the others who staff IB and create our products for you. It gives me a chance to say "thank you" to them and acknowledge their contributions in-house. And this column gives me the chance to witness it before you.

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