What a Decade It’s Been

That word – decade – seems to carry so. much. weight.

When looking forward, it seems an eternity. When looking back, it often feels like it flew. 2004 was the year I made the jump from my first love – journalism – to my second career – public relations. And a decade ago today – December 15, 2004 – the place where I cut my PR teeth opened to the world.


Tamarack Resort, billed as ‘the world’s newest all-season destination’ featuring mountain, meadow and lake, made a big push to snag the spotlight on its opening day and the years after. And for many in Idaho and across the Northwest, the high-speed quad ascent and downhill slide for the resort has played out over the decade in just as big a spotlight.

TamHeadshotTo have a front-seat to a startup like Tamarack is an experience I would never trade. (Well, maybe I would have traded in that sweet sweet ‘blonde in front of a fireplace’ headshot.) For two years I was part of a team of marketing and PR consultants who helped shape and share the message. Then for two more years, I was in-house holding on as Tamarack grew in that hockey-stick shaped way that startups often do.

The Tamarack story was never just about an outdoors playground. It was about rural economies, community development, history, construction, investment and financing, environmental considerations, celebrity, global brands …oh, and golfing, hiking, mountain biking, skiing and boating.


Source: New York Times, Tim Neville

And more than anything, it was about the melting pot of people that came together to try and bring it to life – from lifelong Valley County residents to risk-takers from across the globe. The business owner and communication strategist I am today, and the leader I try to be, is all shaped by the lessons I learned on the Tamarack journey. Lessons from the people who poured their hearts and souls into making something happen in this beautiful part of the world, as well as those who led it astray and whose decisions negatively impacted its success.  And now, those brave ones who have hung on and believed and are helping Tamarack enter its newest chapter.

Among the lessons I’ve gleaned:

  • Those visionaries who bring forth a great idea and inspire people to jump on – aren’t always the best to lead when a startup enters its operational stage.
  • When you build a team and delegate, make sure you’re not just giving them responsibility but also authority to act.
  • While there is comfort in structure, there can be danger in too rigid of a hierarchy. Your team should feel safe in challenging ideas and bringing forth concerns and questions. With the changing dynamics of workplaces, and the generations entering the workforce, hardcore hierarchy won’t cut it.
  • The power of communication – both positive and negative. It was communication that drew the spotlight and kept it shining bright. But great communication is never just external facing. Your people can be your greatest advocates and evangelists if they are kept informed and engaged.
  • The strength of a team that believes in something bigger. In the great words of Simon Sinek, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.” Through the ups and downs of Tamarack, there have been the believers. Those individuals who always thought this journey was about more than a real estate deal or an investment, but had vision and belief in the potential of this place and wanted to share it with the world. To create something that spoke to the beauty of Idaho and the adventure and risk-taking nature of life here.

Yes, I do realize that what happened at Tamarack is also a textbook example of the hubris of that time. Those pre-2008 days when money was being spent and decisions were being made in heady moments. But I also know that good people put blood, sweat and tears into the startup… people whose names and faces we don’t usually hear about when the rapid rise and fall occurs with a startup. In the history of great destinations that are household names to many – there have been quite a few falls and rises.

To those people…who I was honored to call friends and colleagues… a toast to the journey we were all part of, to believing in the ‘why’ of a place and the dream of what it could be, and to the next chapter for Tamarack.


Source: Los Angeles Times, Amanda Jones


Source: USA Today, Gene Sloan


Source: Bloomberg Markets, Anthony Effinger







Manifesto: It’s Not the Critic That Counts

Not sure if Theodore Roosevelt’s poetic words technically count as a Manifesto, but his Man in the Arena hits home for me so often. When I need a shot of confidence, when I need that extra oomph, when I need something to think instead of spouting off at competitors and doubters. These are the words I turn to…



Manifesto: Expert Enough

For all those suffering from Imposter Syndrome (you know who you are!), this week’s manifesto is for you… Corbett Barr’s Expert Enough.

Expertise doesn’t come from a piece of paper.
Life is richest when we become good at a lot of different things.
Know-it-all, Jill of All Trades, and Renaissance Man are compliments.



Manifesto: A Credo for Making it Happen

Pulling again from the speakers I was fortunate enough to witness at the 2012 World Domination Summit, this week’s manifesto comes courtesy the amazing Danielle LaPorte - A Credo for Making it Happen.

Don’t let perfection become procrastination. DO IT NOW.
Launch + Learn. Everything is progress.
The universe is always expanding, and that includes YOU.



Manifesto: Daring Greatly

All hail the manifesto!

Maybe it’s the typeface, or the layout. Or the bite-sized inspiration these one-pagers bring. Whatever the reason, and despite Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’ imprint on the term, ‘manifestos’ have always stirred something in my soul and pulled me in. I tag them, bookmark them, print them, tack ‘em up and use them as visual reminders in my office.

So, why not start aggregating the ones I love here?

As mentioned in my New Year’s ‘Seed Sower’ post, I’m a big Brene Brown fan. So who better to kick off this manifesto binge! Here’s Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly Leadership Manifesto

We are hard-wired for connection, curiosity, and engagement.
We crave purpose, and have a deep desire to create and contribute.



I Am My Mother’s, Grandmother’s, Aunt’s, Stepmom’s, Mother-in-Law’s Daughter

This is a post six years in the making. It seems fitting to finally write it on ‘Women’s Equality Day’ (aka the 93rd anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment.)

Six years ago, I was working for someone else but had just-below-the-surface drive and ambition for something more.

Today I am a CEO, founder and owner of my own company.

I am driven, ambitious, competitive, direct, outspoken and full of opinions I am completely happy to share with those who want to hear them. (And sometimes, those who do not.)

Because I believe in my voice, have confidence (still growing, admittedly) in my expertise and a desire to make a dent in the universe.

But until recently, the mantle of ‘female business owner’ and feminist was not one I felt comfortable taking on.

Blame it on my good fortune to grow up middle-class, raised by a working mother, supported by parents who emphasized higher education and in the era where Title IX gave me the opportunity to compete on sports fields so I grew to understand and embrace competition in other fields.

I never felt that I had to overcome anything or right any injustice because I was able to achieve whatever I set my sights on. The only obstacles I saw were ones I put in front of myself through self-doubt or not working hard enough.


So when I became a business owner and my stepmom proudly sent me this poster, it didn’t resonate. The Art Nouveau painting by Evelyn Rumsey Cary is an iconic woman’s suffrage poster from the early 1900′s. I hung it on my office wall and appreciated its beauty, but not its message nor history. My mother-in-law and aunt-in-law were equally supportive and effusive in their praise of my business ownership, sharing their pride in what I had accomplished, reflecting on how rare it would have been to do so in their time in the professional world at my age.

I felt like a fraud. Here I was being held up as a woman business owner and yet I felt that being a woman had nothing to do with what I had accomplished. I started feeling a debt, a responsibility that I couldn’t quite verbalize.

Then I started seeing that I, and the other strong, vibrant, intelligent women I work and collaborate with weren’t always the equals I thought we were.

Yes, we could vote.

Yes, we could work.

Yes, we could buy our own houses and get our own bank accounts and loans.

But it also became very obvious that we still fell far below equality when it came to elected and appointed leadership at the local, state and national level; that the experts called on in the media and showcased as thought-leaders were way out of balance male; and that subconsciously, a disrespect of women as leaders still permeated our society.

This was brought home recently when a male peer that I admired referred to a group of women leaders – CEOs, Executive Directors, state Senators and Representatives – as ‘girls’.

So today I say I am a feminist, because I do support equal political, economic, and social rights for women. And I believe with all my heart, soul and brain that adding women to any conversation is vitally important. It is not that a woman’s voice is better than a man’s – it is that it brings a different perspective. And that matters.

My pledge moving forward

  • Never apologize for ambition
  • Embrace strong adjectives
  • Be visible and vocal
  • Demand respect if its not freely given
  • Live up to the legacy of those who went before me
  • Pay it forward and support those who come behind me
  • Lean the hell in every. damn. day.



If you have to say you are, you aren’t

Being powerful is like being a lady.

If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.

That Margaret Thatcher quote has been roiling around in my brain for the past few weeks. In particular, in relationship to leadership.

imgresIn a chicken-or-the-egg type of quandary - does someone become a leader because their title and responsibilities deem it so, or is one considered a leader based on the actions they take?

My belief is in the latter, with a small dose of the former.

Responsibilities force individuals to rise to the occasion. To realize that their actions – or lack thereof – impact more than themselves. Responsibility for others and their welfare is weighty. And it can make or break those put into leadership positions.

Regardless of your leadership style, I believe the actions you take determine how you are seen by your peers, colleagues and those you hope to lead. Leadership is more about them than you.

You can call yourself whatever you want. But if no one wants to follow you, what kind of leader are you?

In my book, the best leaders I’ve had the honor to spend time with all had elements of the following:

  • An explainable vision 
  • Up, down and sideways respect for those around them
  • A get-in-the-trenches work mentality
  • Approachability
  • Consistency, consistency, consistency
  • And at the end of the day, whether it be good, bad or Armageddon, they showed up.
    Oftentimes, physically being there and providing value and input is one of the quietest yet most effective forms of leading.



Recently got the opportunity to share the desk with Better Business Bureau CEO Dale Dixon as part of Business at its Best, a half-hour television program about doing business right. Up for discussion, the importance of communication strategy and why it’s important to integrate paid, earned and owned media opportunities.


When tomorrow comes…


When we wake up tomorrow we’ll share the same things…
Disappointment and joy
Hope and discouragement

Despite the year+ of rhetoric and doom and gloom, no matter who wins, the sun will rise, and our country will move forward as it always does.

Perhaps, with respectful discourse, solution-oriented collaboration and bipartisanship as core values.

A girl can dream, can’t she?


If Only…

If only we learned to compete and honor our opponent along the way.

If only respectful discourse was the highest law of the land.

If only you both could make your points without denigrating the other.

If only collaboration was more lauded than conquest.

And as Mitch Albom so elequently put it, if only a president sounded this way

Whoever wins the presidency on Tuesday, this is the acceptance speech I dream of hearing:

“Thank you, America.

“And I’m sorry.

“I’m sorry this election turned into a campaign of hate. I’m sorry every ad was dipped in venom…


“The truth is, the guy I ran against is not a bad man. He’s not a total fraud. He’s not the death of all good ideas. He’s not the devil incarnate.

“He wouldn’t have ruined the country. He would have done the best he could. He would have picked smart people, and they would have tried the way most of us try…


…now that the voting is over, let’s get this straight: Not everyone who earns money in this country is the devil, and not everyone who doesn’t is a freeloader.

“We pitted you against each other to try to win the election. It was wrong. It was disgusting. America is the land of opportunity — for everyone. That’s what we should celebrate. Instead, we painted a picture where you were on one side of the 47% or the other. We encouraged the poor hating the rich and the rich resenting the poor. We used class warfare to get us to this office, not because it is right or decent or moral — but because it works.

“Shame on us.

“Shame on me for being a part of it…

For the full ‘If only…’