A Future Stronger Than The Empty Nest

My youngest child, Emma, will be a freshman at Harvard this fall.

Emma Noyes in the graduation dress made by her sister, Skatie.

Emma’s good news could have been my bad news because of the Empty Nest Syndrome. Fortunately though, my future as a publisher and social entrepreneur is too exciting to dwell much on this loss.

For this, I particularly thank John Lavine and Tim Bingaman.

About eight years ago, I asked Lavine to mentor me through a newly found calling to become a publisher. He had sold a publishing empire, founded Northwestern University’s Media Management Center and successfully reorganized Medill School of Journalism as it’s Dean.

John Lavine, Director of Northwestern University Media Management Center

Lavine agreed on the condition that I accept simple principles – prioritize online, identify an audience, and honor what it wants. For these reasons, Make It Better was born May 1, 2007 as a little website for North Shore women. It’s mission – to be the most trusted, easiest to use community resource that helps make life better for our audience and the businesses and nonprofits they support.

We called it Make It Better because that’s the innate inclination of this audience; helping is their most common denominator and the overarching connector of their collective lives. They make it better for their children, parents, husbands, friends, schools, churches, synagogues, less privileged others, book groups, sports teams, favorite nonprofits…etc. If – and only if – there is any time left over, they try to make it better for themselves too.

This year, we completed our first official audit by the Circulation Verification Council (CVC), which is run by 15 of the largest advertisers in the country and annually audits publications representing over 70 million readers. A readership audit is not an easy process. Imagine willingly inviting the IRS in to examine all your business.

Fortunately, our audit results were spectacularly good. Our valuable audience loves Make It Better. No hyperbole.

In fact, the audit data was so remarkable that the CEO of CVC, Tim Bingaman, asked to personally guide us through the good news and recommend a simple, rocket-fueled path to growth.

Tim Bingaman, CEO of the Circulation Verification Council (CVC).

When is the last time a CEO of an organization serving 70 million called you out of the blue and volunteered to help? This request caught our attention.

In short, our audience of affluent, educated women far exceeds national and North Shore norms. Because these women control their hhi budgets, they are uber valuable to advertisers.

Bingaman’s words energized me and our talented staff. I hope to thank him for them in person some day. In the meantime though, I’m also using them to focus on building an even better future as an almost empty nester.

Nonetheless, please don’t hold it against me this fall, if you ask me about my kids and detect a hint of tears at the edge of my answer.

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