Moms, Millennials, Money, Values and Impact

If you’ve followed the evolution of Make It Better Media, you know that we started as a small community website for North Shore moms more than nine years ago. Fortunately, we caught powerful rising tides of influence that helped make us what we are today — the internet, women, millennials, money and social impact.

Now we are well-established with a print magazine, vibrant social network, events and awards. Because of our mission, values and quality content, we are trusted by both women and men.

Make It Better grew up to be a small but mighty full-service media company.

Please pause with us and give thanks for those “rising tides of influence.” They not only helped Make It Better grow, but they also suggest that a better future for everyone is possible, and perhaps even likely.

WOMEN, THE INTERNET AND MONEY

Women control most consumer dollars. Increasingly, they control or share decision-making authority with their partners for family investment and philanthropy decisions too. Given that, on average, women live longer than men, trillions — not just billions — of dollars are or will soon be under female control.

Women meeting

The really good news is that 92 percent of educated, affluent women, like our original target audience and the founders of Make It Better, are likely to change their brand loyalties if they think it will make the world a better place. The more money that is aligned with that statistic, the faster our world changes for the better.

Thanks to the internet, it’s easier than ever to make monetary choices based on research and values. It’s also easier than ever to connect and share ideas and decisions with others. Social network shares are like rocket fuel for a good cause or a good deal. Increasingly, an ever-expanding group of consumers and investors expect a double bottom line — a good deal that also does good in the world.

Many women enjoy working collaboratively to improve the world — think giving circles and service clubs. Social media exponentially amplifies the power of those collaborations. Women are far more likely than men to share on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

As women control more money and spend or invest it according to their values, all while sharing information online, it creates a tidal wave of social impact for the better.

THE WOMEN OF MAKEITBETTER.NET

Julie Chernoff is not only Make It Better’s dining editor, she was one of the original founders of makeitbetter.net. She also is a great example of the talent and community leadership represented by the group that launched our site on May 1, 2007.

Chernoff is a Yale grad who worked on both coasts in theater and the culinary arts before settling in Evanston to raise two great kids with her husband. She rises to leadership positions in every organization she joins. She served on the Evanston/Skokie District 65 Board of Education, ran a catering business and cooking school out of her historic Daniel Burnham-designed home, and has chaired numerous fundraisers.

In short, Chernoff serves her community — your community, too — with love and a phenomenal skill set. She’s the prototypical North Shore Wonder Woman.

Chernoff’s values reflect those of the entire makeitbetter.net founding group. Those values are embedded in Make It Better’s DNA.

From the beginning, every Make It Better article and activity has reflected an educated common sense, a gratitude for (and affectionate exasperation with) family, a love of community and support and amplification of philanthropic best practices. We offer entertaining and thoughtful solutions — not angst or luxury lifestyle trivia — that connect our audience to the best local and national resources.

Our 2007 launch was so early in the internet era that other media referenced our endeavor as a “weblog” instead of a website or online community. Fast-forward to today though, and Make It Better thrives because people understand and embrace the power of online community.

Make It Better Mission

We’ve honored our mission to be the most-trusted, easiest-to-use community resource that helps make your life and the lives of others better. You’ve responded with passion for our brand and content. (Thank you very much!) In the process, we’ve helped a lot of worthy organizations and businesses, which also makes our hometowns and Chicagoland stronger.

MEN LIKE AND RESPOND TO MAKE IT BETTER TOO

A funny thing happened along our publishing journey. Men joined us too. Turns out they want to know about and connect with what is best for their family and community too. They want to make the world a better place. They also yearn for trustworthy, easy-to-use media.

Charles Tillman. (Photo courtesy of the Cornerstone Foundation. )

Charles Tillman. (Photo courtesy of the Cornerstone Foundation. )

The savviest men and women have created powerful careers because they reflect the Make It Better values addressed by Wharton professor and bestselling author Adam Grant in his book “Give And Take: A Revolutionary Approach To Success.”

Grant’s research proves that the most successful people are givers, not takers or matchers. This proves to be true for entrepreneurial publishers, as well as those climbing a corporate ladder.

WOMEN POWER IS ON THE RISE

Glance at the number of college graduates, postgraduate degree holders, new hires and the members of the U.S. work force under 40, and you’ll see that women are outpacing men in most categories and professions. Note that the majority of TV talking heads in that age group are women, and more commercials than ever are geared towards women — even during the Super Bowl. According to Forbes, 2016 will see more support and growth of entrepreneurial women than ever before.

Also notice that more men than ever are the parents standing outside the kindergarten doors, and they’re grateful for the opportunity. Men and women are doing a better job than ever of sharing parenting and domestic responsibilities and supporting each other in career choices too.

In many cases, women have to fight less for equal rights today (though there is still much room for progress on this front). Oh yeah, and absent a catastrophe or a dramatic remake of Donald Trump’s character, a woman is about to become our next president.

In the digital era, collaboration rather than competition is the fastest way forward. As mentioned above, many women seem to be particularly adept at this too. As women power is on the rise, the potential for women to foster change for the better elevates correspondingly too. Fortunately for Make It Better, the power of women-owned media is also on the rise.

MILLENNIALS EXPECT MEANING

Educated and affluent moms like Julie Chernoff helped raise millennials (the generation born between the early 1980s and early 2000s) with great values. According to PEW research, millennials are the largest generation in U.S. history. Intriguingly, they expect and demand to make the world a better place. Period.

Unlike any prior generation, millennials expect meaning and social impact with their time, talents and money. They choose Toms shoes, Whole Foods and Starbucks because of the values embedded in those brands. They say no in record numbers to the kind of jobs that offer big pay, but poor lifestyles which long attracted most young talent before this generation.

Social impact investing is another example of this generation’s effect on our country and economy. Millennials with money to invest choose investments with a double bottom line. The companies they invest in have to create social impact as well as deliver profits.

A recent survey by U.S. Trust showed an astonishingly high 93 percent of millennials with assets in excess of $3 million said that a company’s social and environmental impact was key to their investing decision.

Millennials likely drive the growth of B Corporations too. These are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency.

Needless to say, millennials also are internet natives. They grew up googling their choices online. Their sensibilities, choices and clicks will continue to fuel the growth of the internet and business in general, creating greater positive impact.

TURNING OFF THE BAD, ACCELERATING THE GOOD

It should surprise no one that affluent Americans have turned away from the traditional media’s relentless barrage of bad news and biased reporting.

This opens a wide door for media people trust that provides information and solutions that help. In recent years, as national broadcast news numbers plummeted, TED Talk views soared. This helps explain the growth of Make It Better too.

That’s not to say we’re “Pollyanna.” We know inequities exist. The escalating violence between the police and blacks, and the sometimes stupefying presidential election dynamics are two examples. As Scott Turow said in our interview a few years ago when discussing the difference between the ‘60s and now:

“There are still massive differences between rich and poor, a lot of it focused on race. But we’ve come such a long way.”

Scott Turow

Scott Turow

“There are millions and millions of people in this country whose lives are not only better [now than they would have been in the ’60s], they can now achieve their full potential. This also is true for women and for gays who don’t have to hide who they are any more … We’re not done. But please, let’s do stop and smell the roses here.”

Fortunately, there are examples of individuals who care, and there are resources to help that are growing. Most people really do want to help, especially if you make it easy for them to do so. This is Make It Better’s specialty — making it easy to help yourself and others, while growing a trusted and powerful network of good people, good organizations and good communities.

We’re grateful for these trends. They helped grow Make It Better Media. More importantly though, they will also grow a much better world for all.

Make It Better Philosophy

 

Time, Money, Values, Impact

Make It Better Founder Susan B. Noyes speaks at Money, Values & Impact

Make It Better Founder Susan B. Noyes speaks at Money, Values & Impact (Photos by Erica Barraca)

We all have complicated relationships with money. We need it, but we don’t want this to overtake living our life well.

Fortunately, there is growing awareness that aligning our values with how we earn, invest and spend our money can allow us to earn greater profit as we also contribute to greater social impact that makes the world better too.

Impact Investing — to improve your finances and your philanthropy — is a growing, powerful, positive change agent for you and the world.

But there is one thing even more powerful and valuable: our time. Our minutes, hours and days are most precious indeed. That is why I am particularly grateful to our sponsors and our audience who attended March 1’s Money, Values, Impact event at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Thank you!

For those who missed it, please watch for the Powerful, Positive, Connecting content soon to follow from Make It Better. You can also read all of the live updates we posted from the event.

Make It Better President and CEO Francia Harrington with Money, Values and Impact speakers J. Steven Auston of Morgan Stanley and Kathy Roeser of The Roeser Group.

Make It Better President and CEO Francia Harrington with Money, Values and Impact speakers J. Steven Auston of Morgan Stanley and Kathy Roeser of The Roeser Group.

Pies provided by Mrs. Green's Natural Market

Pies provided by Mrs. Green’s Natural Market.

Random Acts of Flowers provided the centerpieces for the event.

Random Acts of Flowers provided the centerpieces for the event.

Make It Better Associate Publisher Michelle Morris with Money, Values and Impact sponsors Tony Perry and Anthony Perry of A. Perry Homes.

Make It Better Associate Publisher Michelle Morris with Money, Values and Impact sponsors Tony Perry and Anthony Perry of A. Perry Homes.

Money, Values and Impact guests read through the day's program.

Money, Values and Impact guests read through the day’s program.

Morgan Stanley's J. Steven Austin welcomes attendees to Money, Values and Impact.

Morgan Stanley’s J. Steven Austin welcomes attendees to Money, Values and Impact.

Kathy Roeser of The Roeser Group gives the Money, Values and Impact audience a month by month timeline for their finances.

Kathy Roeser of The Roeser Group gives the Money, Values and Impact audience a month by month timeline for their finances.

Annette Findling and Leslie North of Stonebridge Wealth Advisors

Annette Findling and Leslie North of Stonebridge Wealth Advisors spoke about insurance.

Tony Perry of A. Perry Homes talked about Home Trends and Solutions that Protect Wealth.

Tony Perry of A. Perry Homes talked about Home Trends and Solutions that Protect Wealth.

Susan B. Noyes with Hilary Irby of Morgan Stanley.

Susan B. Noyes with Hilary Irby of Morgan Stanley before the Garden Side Chat.

Perika Sampson of Morgan Stanley

Perika Sampson of Morgan Stanley

Forefront President and CEO Eric Weinheimer addresses the Money, Values and Impact audience.

Forefront President and CEO Eric Weinheimer addresses the Money, Values and Impact audience.

Make It Better Editor-in-Chief Genevieve Lill moderates a panel with Make It Better Founder Susan N. Noyes, Forefront CEO Eric Weinheimer and Make It Better President and Chief Strategy Officer Francia Harrington.

Make It Better Editor-in-Chief Genevieve Lill moderates a panel with Make It Better Founder Susan N. Noyes, Forefront CEO Eric Weinheimer and Make It Better President and Chief Strategy Officer Francia Harrington.

The Most Amazing Way To A Better Life, Business, Year — Your Help Wanted

“Don’t think what’s the cheapest way to do it or what’s the fastest way to do it …. Think ‘what’s the most amazing way to do it.’” — Richard Branson, Virgin Brand Founder

The best nine Instagrams posted by Susan B. Noyes

May #2016BestNine be even more amazing than 2015.

Happy New Year! May 2016 be your best, most amazing year ever.

My 2016 will be just that — my best, most amazing year — if I get to enjoy amazing adventures with my husband, family and friends AND Make It Better’s über-talented staff, freelancers, partners and audience enjoy amazing, creative collaborations that help each other and the world.

People often say, “Look at all you’ve built with Make It Better. It’s amazing!” My response, “It’s not what ‘I’ built, it’s what ‘we’ have built together.” And we’ve only scratched the surface.

So many good people in our Make It Better community already are connecting with and amplifying each other’s good. My pledge is to use this blog in 2016 to inspire as many others to participate in our most trusted community resource — makeitbetter.net — and live amazing lives too.

Please help me do this too. Please share what inspires and amazes you. Please recommend makeitbetter.net to others. And please remind me to sometimes let go of work and just enjoy life with my amazingly supportive husband, too.

Thank you.

Happy New Year from Susan and Nick Noyes

Happy New Year! Hope 2016 is your best year yet. How can we Make It Better for you?

Why I’m Grateful for Make It Better’s Powerful Audience

Make It Better August September Best Of 2015 IssueDear Make It Better Readers,

You—our audience—curated our August/September magazine issue and our online “Best of 2015” content. You chose well, too. Thank you.

You cast over 105,000 online votes to choose the Best Of 2015 winners. To be precise, you cast exactly 105,617 online votes. Those are extraordinary numbers!

It’s my great pleasure to present the Best Of 2015 winners to you in the August/September issue, online at makeitbetter.net/bestof2015 and at our Best Of 2015 Celebration at the Chicago Botanic Garden on September 1. (By the way, please be our guests for this music-filled night under the stars in Chicago’s most beautiful outdoor venue by registering at makeitbetter.net/bestofcelebration.)

In the August/September issue though, you didn’t just curate the Best Of 2015 list. You also influenced much of the other content too, because we “reverse publish” from online into print what our audience finds most engaging. This includes content about food, family, fun, fashion, money, love, home, fitness and ways to make a difference.

I’m also particularly proud to share two other newsworthy facts with you:

Fact #1
Make It Better Cofounder Mindy Fauntleroy and I recently received Top Women In Media Folio Awards.make it better folio award top women in media

We were given these awards as Most Inspiring Entrepreneurial Women in New York City on June 8. We were the only regional publishers to win. Other winners included the New York Times, Hearst, Financial Times and the Harvard Business Review. In the publishing world, this was a bit like winning an Oscar. Pretty cool, right? You can see the video at makeitbetter.net/mibtv/folio.

This award was only made possible because of the outstanding quality of our audience. Remember, we reverse publish what you tell us is important to you. Fortunately, because you are smart and have great values, you intuitively create or support win/win scenarios. So following your lead takes us in inspiring and successful directions. Again, thank you very much.

Fact #2
94% of our audience reads our magazines cover to cover.
The Circulation Verification Council (CVC) audit data we recently received proves that our audience keeps our magazines three months or longer, refers others to our content, and intentionally supports our advertisers.

CVC LOGOThis is powerful data. And, again, that is because of you. You are powerful for us too.

Therefore, please keep engaging with Make It Better Media. If you don’t yet do so, please follow us online by subscribing to our biweekly “Better Letter” email newsletter, watching MIB TV videos, joining our vibrant social networks listed below and coming to the events we sponsor.

But, even more importantly, please keep telling us what is important to you. Because you are important to us.

Thank you, very much.

With Warm Regards,

Susan
susan@makeitbetter.net

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Working With, And Leading, Greatness

The not-so-secret sauce of Make It Better’s success is our people. Many great people – talented, kind leaders all – laid a strong, trusted, valued and valuable community foundation when we launched makeitbetter.net on May 1, 2007. Watch that story here.

Susan B NoyesMany more have been building greatness upon this foundation ever since – particularly our staff, savvy advertisers, outstanding nonprofit partners and smart, engaged audience. I thank and celebrate each and every person.  But, most of all, I thank and celebrate my partner (and sister in a former life), Mindy Fauntleroy.

Two days ago, in New York City, Make It Better’s unique success was recognized nationally – when we received Folio’s Top Women In Media Award as Inspiring Entrepreneurs.

Other Folio Award recipients included publishing superstars from the New York Times, Hearst, The Atlantic, Financial Times, The Economist, Forbes, Time, Glamour, Meredith, Guggenheim, Harvard Business Review and Slate. Here’s the full list.  See #FolioTopWomen too. So we were in delightful, inspiring company. You can watch the story on this video.

Not Me, But WeFolio Top Women in Media Awards

Others often comment to me, “Can you believe how much you’ve done with Make It Better – and so quickly?”

My response, “It’s not what I’ve done, but what so many others have done.  And it doesn’t feel fast to us!  It’s been – and continues to be – so much work.”  Again, it’s only because so many talented, great people have worked well together that Make It Better has grown.

Yes, it was my brainchild.  But it’s taken a very large village to raise it – and grow our most trusted, easy to use community resource. Again, Mindy is at the heart of this success.

More than 10 years ago, I took her to lunch and invited her to be my partner launching a website for North Shore women.  Mindy has all the organizational skills I lack and an even bigger make it better heart.  She’s the perfect ying to my imaginative, self-deprecating yang. With four young children and a husband who travels a lot, Mindy only agreed because she thought this meant we were starting a little neighborhood blog.Mindy Fauntleroy

Ha! Little did Mindy know.

Now we’re a full service print, online, video and events media company with an annual audience of at least 75,000 engaged, unique online users, 150,000 print mag readers, 1000s of event attendees. And we create virtuous circles as fast as we can. Oh yeah, and along the way we also launched a Foundation.   And soon we will officially launch our Shop For Good eCommerce too.

Whew!

We’ve attracted great people to help with every new initiative.  Talented writers, videographer, sales reps, marketers, nonprofit leaders, social networkers, audience members and more. I love them all.  No hyperbole.

Our world is ever more complex and interconnected; so, it will be ever more important for people, brands and institutions to work together to solve problems, share their passions and joy, and to lift each other up. That’s why the mission of Make It Better is to be the most trusted, easiest to use community resource that helps you make your life and the lives of others better by connecting you to the businesses and resources you support – online, in print and in person.

Thanks Mindy for living our mission so well, helping us attract and work with great others together, too.

“If you want to go fast, go alone.  If you want to go far, go together.” African proverb

Food, finance, fashion, smart females to fete. We’ve come a long way baby!

If you don’t already subscribe to Make It Better’s twice weekly “Better Letter,” you should.  It’s really good – easily scanned, up to the minute articles, tips, trends and recommendations that will make your life better – and easy ways for you to help others, too.

Our recent Better Letter from March 4th really proves my point.  Every article, every recommendation, every Sec in the Suburbswriter – just great!  I’m particular proud to see tv & radio stations working our Val Haller, who launched Val’s List in tandem with makeitbetter.net, and our super talented Sex & The Suburbs columnist Marjie Kileen highlighted in it.  And please note that Val included a video of a band singing about “Making You Better” in her appearance too.  Of course, I enjoyed the CNBCSusan B. Noyes on CNBC Closing Bell opportunity too.

But I also need to give big call-outs to EIC Julie Chernoff for her cooking class with the pros article.  Brilliant idea.  Want to do every one of these classes with family or friends!

And aren’t we all proud to see that our own Maura Flaherty not only remind us of International Women’s Day.  She recommends celebrating it by honoring other smart, inspiring females that have smashed glass ceilings at work, like Crate & Barrel’s Carole Segal and the first female chair of the University Of Chicago’s Astronomy and Astrophysics Department, Angela Olinto.

We’ve come a long way baby.  Women and Make It Better Media.

Please subscribe now for Make It Better Better Letter.

Thank you.

Make It Better Grows and Changes

Just keeping all of my readers and Make it Better Fans about changes going on. We are very grateful for your time. Please read and enjoy learning more about our organization!November 2014 Make it Better

Some Announcement,  with great pleasure:

On Monday, October 13, Michelle Morris joins Make It Better as our Associate Publisher.  We enticed her away from Conde Nast, where she served as Midwest Advertising Sales Director for Parade magazine.  She is the perfect person to help us grow into Chicago and beyond.

Michelle joins Mindy, Megan, Julie, Sandy, Lesley and me as a member of our Executive Committee.  Megan, as Ad Sales Manager, and the rest of the ad sales staff, will report to Michelle. She understands well and is excited about our company’s collaborative culture too.

As of tomorrow, Mindy and I job share the CEO role – insuring smooth management and a strong presence in our office while we also travel more to grow this precious business.

Our new site officially launches on November 18.  We celebrate this, our expansion into Chicago, our 2014 Philanthropy Award winners (who you will help notify during our November 14 live-blogged road show) and our magazine’s 5th Anniversary at the best party we’ve ever thrown – at 27 Live in Evanston.

Nancy Searle will be our first $10,000 sponsor of a Philanthropy Award! This is particularly spectacular news because Nancy is one of the most strategic thinking and well regarded philanthropists in Chicago. (You might remember her from the Education Innovators cover story.)

Thank You to All of the Amazing Make it Better Staffers;   Your talent and trustworthy, creative, hard work led to all this success – starting with John Lavine, the Kitchen Cabinet and Cheryl Berman.  You honored our worthy mission to be the most trusted, easiest to use community resource and helped grow Make It Better Media.

Mindy Fauntleroy. Everything Mindy touches succeeds and shines.  We wouldn’t have our first (and particularly fantastic) Philanthropy Award sponsor, super successful MIB events or outstanding new Associate Publisher hire but for Mindy’s work.  I’m forever in Mindy Faunteroyher debt for answering the Make It Better call and now for accepting the title of CoCEO.

Julie Chernoff.  She is not only a brilliant writer, editor and organizer, Julie is the consummate Make It Better woman.  She nurtures the best from our staff and her free lance writers – thereby growing our audience and community resource network. Julie works long, long hours for not Julie Chernoffenough pay and still finds time to make better every other community she touches too.

Megan Holbrook. Megan consistently proves that we hire winners with can do and always will Make It Better attitudes. Megan accepts every challenge and makes our business stronger in the process.  She watches out for, lifts up, and makes better the rest of our talented ad sales staff  – Patti, Julie, Denise – too.Megan Holbrook

Sandy Sandy TsuchidaTsuchida.  She has everyone’s back.  Our operations are complicated, but Sandy runs them all well and without complaint.  I suspect that each of you – like me – count Sandy’s work for you as a blessing.

Lesley Smith.  Want to know the definition of crazy hard work?  Be the Art Director for a community resource and magazine celebrating its 5th anniversary, launching a Chicago footprint and new website, while being charged with making all of our many activities easy to understood and look gorgeous – often on the weekend.

We outgrew our current site many, many months ago and she isn’t a full time social networker, but Lindsay still grows our stats and our uber valuable network.  She’s likely working double time bringing the new site to life too.

Lindsay RosemanLindsay Roseman.  We outgrew our current site many, many months ago and she isn’t a full time social networker, but Lindsay still grows our stats and our uber valuable network.  She’s likely working double time bringing the new site to life too.

Katy Nielsen.  Such a talented, connected videographer!  We will grow MIB TV because Katy cares and understands how to create and improve communities with compelling, problem solving video stories.

David Canada, Adam Rubin and SureCan Productions.  Despite the production demands of network tv, David answered our Make It Better call and sent Adam (the perfect person for the job) and team to bring to life our Philanthropy Award videos.  The rest is history.  And – like our website and company – the Philanthropy Awards will take a giant leap forward this coming year too.

Sharon Krone.  She’s been heaven sent to our family since her days as a student at Northwestern University – perfectly trained to grow philanthropic best practices and a business while nurturing a great family and community too.  A lesser woman than Sharon would have been made crazy by this journey long ago. She provides calm guidance and support instead.

Stacey McClenathan & Beeline.  Stacey et al are not only bringing our online vision to life, they suggest strategies that will quickly allow Make It Better to grow Shop For Good and become relevant to large businesses who take seriously their corporate social responsibility and employee relations.

I’m extremely proud and looking forward to the next round of making it better for everyone.

Susan