Please Vote on New Yorker Cartoonist Ken Krimstein’s Three Choices

Make It Better Holiday Cartoon Contest

We are thrilled that “The New Yorker” cartoonist and DePaul University professor Ken Krimstein is an avid reader of Make It Better.

Even more thrilling, we have asked him for one of his hilarious cartoons to appear in our December 2014 issue of Make It Better Magazine. But all of his work is so terrific and funny; it’s hard to choose.

So it’s up to our online readers to help us decide. Which of the three following holiday-themed cartoons is your favorite?

Click here to cast your vote.

 1. Christmas in China


2. The First Christmas



3. Regift


Yes, most definitely. Giving is the secret to getting ahead, along with passion and the ability to collaborate

Yes, most definitely. Giving is the secret to getting ahead – along with collaboration and passion.

Earlier this year, a New York Times Sunday magazine cover story posed the question “Is Giving The Secret To Getting Ahead?” The article – written by Susan Dominus – is based on an interview with Wharton Business School professor and best selling author Adam Grant.

Photo courtesy of NY Times

The article:

Our answer is a resounding “YES!“- particularly when that giving accompanies passion for the work you are doing and the ability to collaborate with others.

Tony Perry of A. Perry Designs who graciously served as host of the party last night for the Philanthropy Awards winners, judges, fans and Make It Better staff, is a perfect example.

Anthony Perry, President, A Perry Designs

Tony’s passion for design and working with people to help them build their dream homes launched his business. Adopting the Northwestern University Settlement House (NUSH) as a philanthropic partner to embed giving back into his marketing campaign to launch their Winnetka Showroom Opening fueled remarkable growth – for A Perry and NUSH, too.

We think of the A Perry Design/NUSH/Make It Better Media relationship as an ideal example of the kind of Virtuous Circle our business likes to utilize.

Therefore, we were particularly delighted that our Philanthropy Awards judges selected NUSH as the winner of the Most Improved Fundraising Philanthropy Award and NUSH credits A Perry’s support for their recent fundraising success.

Representatives of the NUSH preschool, Rowe Elementary School, beneficiary families, board, staff, Tony (back row 4th from the left, peeking over the blong woman in front of him) and Make It Better staff at NUSH yesterday, following the Award presentation.

Good business as well as good philanthropy flows when a leader like Tony prioritizes helping as many as possible – growing a network of good – as part of their core mission.

Thank you Tony.

Your Mother’s Fix-It Gene

Wharton Professor Adam Grant has built a fantastic career by being as helpful to others as he can. His work demonstrates that the most successful businesses do this too. According to yesterday’s New York Times magazine cover story, Grant attributes his work and his success to his “mother’s fix-it gene.”

Image courtesy of New York Times magazine

I recommend that you read the article here.

Most mothers have fix-it genes, right? It develops soon after giving birth. We want to create a better world for our children.

My mother not only wanted to fix-it for her kids, other family members and friends, but also for society. That drive led her to great success as an Indiana State Senator and AG Edwards Investment Advisor.

The psychology of a mother’s fix-it gene is deeply embedded in Make It Better Media too. We believe deeply in the power of mamma and built our company to do well as we do good and help moms.

Do you have examples of what your own mother’s fix-it gene has influenced? If so, please share them with me.

Thank you.

True Stories Of Imperfect People = Strong Families

Above photo courtesy of the New York Times article.

The first thing Nick Noyes — who was to become my husband and the father of our six kids — said to me was, “Do you know how to make refried beans?” Those were also the only words he spoke directly to me that day, even though we were together for at least another 10 hours with a small group of friends. It was an inelegant start to our relationship.

Our children love and frequently repeat that story, in part because it reminds them that one doesn’t have to be suave to find true love. But also because it is just so typical of their dad at the start of any new relationship. He’s a shy and sometimes awkward guy. But his still waters run deep enough to have nurtured a large and loving family.

Our kids also relish our tradition of telling embarrassing stories about the celebrant at family birthday dinners. It’s your party — we lovingly lampoon you. But, we don’t forget to mention the achievements — athletic, academic, social, whatever — either. We love your strengths as well as your weaknesses.

These stories have become the bedrock of strong, loving Noyes family ties. Do something stupid?  That’s okay, we still love you. Do something great? We still love you too. Nobody’s perfect – particularly us. We have our ups and downs. We will always be there for each other though.

Bruce Feiler’s “This Life” column in today’s New York Times, titled “The Stories That Bind Us Help Children Face Challenges,” explains that this type of family narrative and tradition — which recognize good times and bad — builds stronger kids.

Feiler concludes, “The bottom line: if you want a happier family, create, refine and retell the story of your family’s positive moments and your ability to bounce back from the difficult ones. That act alone may increase the odds that your family will thrive for may generations to come.”

Read more here.

Life Holds Its Miracles

Life Holds Its Miracles, Good Erupting From Darkness Chief Among Them

“Life holds its miracles, good erupting from darkness chief among them,” concludes John Patrick Shanley’s New York Times editorial, The Darkness of an Irish Morning.

The playwright, screenwriter and director brilliantly describes visiting relatives in Ireland for the first time and learning that his grandparents had been poor, illiterate, vindictive and quite dislikable. Despite this, his father and other relatives grew up to be good people, and he became the creator of shows with stars like Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams.

Photo courtesy of

Beyond doubt, this is a life lesson for all of us. Let no predecessors or dark others keep us from creating much good in our lives too.

Power Players – Women Making Their Mark. You Can Too

As seen in Make It Better magazine:

Eight Chicago leaders, embracing their power to build a great life for self and others.

As seen hosting the Golden Globes:

Tina Fey & Amy Pohler, hosting the 2013 Golden Globes (photo courtesy of ABC News).

At Sunday’s Golden Globe Award Ceremony, Fey and Pohler reigned with wit and charm.

As seen in the New York Times:

From left, Maggie Hassan, the governor-elect; Ann McLane Kuster and Carol Shea-Porter, elected to the House of Representatives; and Senators Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen. Photo credit: The New York Times.

In New Hampshire, women rule – literally. Every major office is filled by a woman.

Dear Daughters, Sisters, Girlfriends and Women Across the USA,

Our time is now. We can and will do anything to which we set our minds and hearts.

Thanks to great women and men who came before us, glass ceilings have been shattered. Thanks to the freedom, education and opportunities accorded us as American women, our employment and other life options are equal to those of any man. (OK, maybe not if you wish to pursue Major League sports…) Thanks to our enlightened culture, our life partners are more likely than ever to share child rearing and domestic responsibilities.

We can now make our mark, make a family and make a difference – over time and with intention and love. Our ability to multi-task and find win/win scenarios for ourselves and others in most situations is perfectly suited for the demands of our complex, developed world.

You are smart, talented, beautiful, and able to create a better world for yourself and others.  Please follow your heart to do so now. And, please, let me know if I can help. It would be my honor.


Brooks On Humility and Leadership

NY Times Columnist David Brooks offered pearls of wisdom in Chicago at the Executives’ Club of Chicago luncheon yesterday:

Humility and success often go hand in hand, he explained, citing Chicago’s Lester Crown as a perfect example. Furthermore, understanding emotional biases and weaknesses in general, and developing strategies to compensate for them, is integral to good leadership. We’re born with inherent biases – how we deal with them makes all the difference.

As Ida Eisenhower taught her 5 Star General and US President son Dwight: “He that conquers his own soul is greater than he who conquers a city.” Eisenhower claimed this quote as his most important life lesson – and one he had to relearn throughout his career.

Eisenhower visiting with his mother, Ida, in 1943, Courtesy of the Eisenhower Library.

Thanks to Stacy Keefe and WBEZ for making my life better by treating me to this luncheon and these lessons.