In the company of entrepreneurs

When I get a chance to talk about Raising Arizona Kids to people outside my office, I often find myself repeating these two sentences:

“Everyone on my staff is fully capable of running her/his own company. They’re all entrepreneurs at heart.”

As the original RAK entrepreneur, I know that my imagination just got the ball rolling. It’s been the creativity of dozens of others since then that has molded the magazine — and now our daily eZine — to the current (and still evolving) status.

Marketing Director MaryAnn Ortiz-Lieb has always been one to push me past any periods of complacency. When I first dreamed of Raising Arizona Kids, I thought of it as a newsletter for a couple of thousand Valley moms. A former radio sales account executive, enthusiastic new mom MaryAnn came to me through a mutual friend. Her first words to me: “I can’t sell a newsletter. We’re publishing a magazine!” And so we did.

Several years later, when I was mired in a perpetual sense of overwhelm from running a monthly magazine and raising two boys, it was then-Managing Editor Sandy Liberman who had the vision to push our leap to the Web. I went reluctantly, dragging my feet in protest over the extra work it created for all of us, but quickly realized she was not only right — but ahead of the curve in the media industry.

Vicki Louk Balint brought the next dimension to our Web site. Around the time she received her master’s degree from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications, she began writing articles for the magazine. Before long, she introduced me to the word “podcast.” Once again squirming at the extra “to do each month” commitment and added expense, I agreed to move our company into the multi-media aspects of the World Wide Web. Once she had RAK Radio comfortably under way, Vicki started talking video. By then, my excitement about what what she could do far outweighed any fears.

Brittney Walker

Then we come to Brittney Walker. Brittney has been freelancing for Raising Arizona Kids magazine for several years. As one of the youngest staffers who attends our weekly editorial meetings, she also has been the voice for the new generation of mommies.

It was Brittney, for example, who first got fired up about creating an interactive RAK family through Facebook and Twitter. She took it upon herself to set up RAKmagazine accounts in both media and did the initial work to build an audience. (I almost laughed outloud when I ran across an email from Brittney dated almost exactly one year ago: “We have over 200 followers on Twitter! Yay!” Thanks to her efforts, and those of Community Relations Manager Katie Charland, another Cronkite School master’s degree grad who joined our staff last fall, we now have 2,850.)

Another brainstorming success from Brittney, our weekly RAK Mompreneur stories, have consistently proven to be among our most popular offerings on the Web. Each week, Brittney profiles a local mom who has created and is working resourcefully to sustain her own business. (Find links to the dozens of moms she already has interviewed.)

Not one to rest on her laurels (or waste a moment of the day), Brittney recently undertook two more weekly projects. Her “How-To’s Day” blog posts offer imaginative ideas for make-at-home gifts and crafts. Beginning next Sunday, she’ll also be filling a weekly RAK Recipes feature that incorporates recipes from local moms and dads and some of the “back stories” behind them.

With such a creative and energetic staff, it’s all I can do to keep up.

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