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We’re half way through our 11th year of publishing, and good things are happening here at SJ. So good, we’re putting up a billboard to tell the world – or at least SJ – but I’ll tell you about that in a minute.

Over the past several years, there have been different quirky things I envisioned as benchmarks of success. Sure, I know the usual – the bottom line, sales revenue, customer retention – but that’s boring stuff. Important, but boring nonetheless. I like setting my own goals – dreams I have for the business. When I reach them, the feeling beats any bottom-line triumph.

The most frequent dreams involve who we can get for cover-story interviews, like Bon Jovi and Kelly Ripa. I had to work hard for those, and now their blown-up covers – autographed – hang in my office.

The hardest interview to secure was Philadelphia Eagle DeSean Jackson. That took almost 18 months of talking to lots of people to find the one connection to him. Now, his blown-up cover hangs in my office, too.

Something both Joe and I have wanted for a few years just happened in March. We expanded our office. We had been working in a great office on Main Street and our sales people worked on the road. We’ve moved around the corner into a beautiful Victorian where we fill two floors with our entire staff. It’s been an adjustment for us all. Those of us in production have had to get used to the added noise from our sales staff on the phone every morning. And the sales team has had to learn how to tread lightly when the production team is approaching deadline. So far, it’s been a great mix.

And our biggest we’ve-been-waiting-for-this accomplishment also happened in March. We hired Todd Moreland as our Vice President of Marketing and Sales. Joe and I have known Todd for almost 15 years. When we first took over the magazine, Joe met with Todd, knowing he was the man we needed to lead sales. (He’s had a successful career – over 20 years – managing advertising sales teams.) But being a start-up, we couldn’t afford him. So we put that hire on our “someday” dream list.

In March, we hired Todd. He’s been here for almost four months, and he’s taking the company to a new level. He’s teaching and motivating. He has already brought in new advertisers, including national accounts. He’s been able to get into these larger companies and explain the value of SJ Magazine. We’re finding if you talk to the right person, they like what they see, understand what we can do for them and they come onboard.

And there’s something more about Todd, something that is really important to me as a business owner – Todd’s a good guy. So good, in fact, we named him a Person Worth Watching in 2009. We honored him then because he had just started a nonprofit, called Circle of 12, which helps special needs children who live in the sugar cane fields of the Dominican Republic. He raises money here to help kids there with medical expenses, therapy visits and even housing costs. He makes the trip to visit the families he helps several times a year. He even made sure we were okay with him taking time off to do that work before accepting the job.

And, of course, there’s the billboard. I  mentioned to Todd in passing that I’ve always wanted to promote SJ Magazine on a billboard. Without me knowing it, he got to work. And now we are putting up our first billboard. And I’d like to have some fun with you to celebrate this dreamy accomplishment.

I’m not going to tell you where the SJ Magazine billboard is. Instead, I hope you find it. And when you do, email me the location (maleardi@sjmagazine.net). The first ten people to email me will get two day-passes to Great Adventure – ’cause really, this has been one great adventure.

July 2011
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