OFF-THE-CUFF

We heartily thank our readers who nominated their colleagues or friends for our Tenth Annual Connect Business Magazine/KEYC-TV Business Person of the Year Awards. After Minnesota State University College of Business professors finish their judging, three worthy winners will receive crowns in our January issue, with the top vote getter appearing on our cover. So get excited. As for this issue, buckle your seat belts and away we go….

On the day this issue of Connect Business Magazine went to the printer for publication, the winner of the Presidential race wasn’t yet known. I’m sure someone won. As for elections in general, I voted for the first time in 1976…..

Back then you could best describe me as a budding socialist interested in politics who was quickly coming around to believing that greedy businesspeople were collectively no better than a worm-infested Beelzebub. I remember quite clearly my conversion to socialism happening one evening while reading a persuasive Time or Newsweek article about Jimmy Carter’s explosive popular appeal. My diverse high school—25 percent Jewish, 33 percent Black, and students spanning literally every inch of the socioeconomic spectrum—produced ‘60s radical Jerry Rubin, one of the Chicago Seven, and recent General Mills CEO Stephen Sanger. One of my favorite activities then was driving around Cincinnati with friends Tim and Bob—and often the Benz twins—while inhaling and talking smart about politics. This was the ‘70s, you know…..

After high school, I went one way and they another. Liberal Tim developed a polyglot career that included being an avant garde musician (his band briefly made one of the British charts with an ‘80s single) and a Salvadore Dali-inspired artist. Bob embraced liberal politics and, after being a Columbia University graduate student and teaching assistant during Barack Obama’s college years, eventually became a journal editor and freelance writer. In contrast, my life veered from theirs in nearly every respect….

This summer, Bob mentioned over Facebook he was bicycling cross-country to sate some vague mid-life crisis and in August would be pedaling Mankato. The last time we had been face-to-face was 27 years ago only weeks before a burglar set fire to his New York City apartment. By 1985, we were already poles apart in nearly every respect, yet in meeting had what I would call congenial conversations. Our meeting this August went the same. He’s still a Blue Team Lefty. What I enjoyed in part about our time this summer was hearing again his depth of political conviction and sensing in him a generous tolerance for my opposing views. As for Tim, he and I have had friendly meetings and shared positive experiences, too….

Due in part to having been psychologically desensitized by these two, I have felt comfortable over the last 16 years in Connect Business Magazine featuring just about any flavor of businessperson—just so that individual represents a certain segment of our magazine demographics. Before scheduling an interview, I first learn about the person and sometimes find out he or she is ultraliberal or ultraconservative or has close associations with Republican, Democratic or Reform politicians. If meeting my basic business and magazine demographic criteria, I will feature that person anyway. In that vein over the years, I have knowingly featured huge pork and beef producers, Hispanics, feminists, Catholics, atheists, people with disabilities, billionaires, ex-military, outspoken Christians, gays, Masons, Mormons, farmers, media and business competitors, green advocates, Rotarians, Chamber members and non-Chamber members, cat lovers (with some regret), people I like and don’t like (although liking makes the process easier), non-advertisers and advertisers, men and women in exact proportion to magazine demographics, and one now-deceased Mankato business legend who owned a gold Rolls Royce, donated heavily to Democrats, had been tight with Hubert Humphrey, and became a personal friend. Really, the only things besides breath the members of this mongrel menagerie held in common before being featured was having an involvement with business and representing a segment of our demographics….


Looking back, I’m thankful for having attended culturally diverse public schools. If you have an idea for a feature in Connect Business Magazine involving a person or business you think I wouldn’t feature in a million years, think again—I just featured Tim and Bob. I try offering readers fare that mirrors our demographics rather than my own personal likes and dislikes, and relish receiving detailed information from people proposing feature stories on businesspeople of any make or model….

One last thing to mention before wrapping up: I would be remiss not noting the death in September of Happy Chef co-founder Sal Frederick. He was a gentleman, legendary businessman, state representative, hard worker, husband to a wonderful woman, father of six girls. I can only speculate, but my guess is his only life regret was not living long enough to cast a Presidential ballot this year. As a state representative, he helped create the North Mankato Port Authority, and, at one point, he and his brothers owned 56 Happy Chef restaurants. Having ghostwritten his autobiography, I remember him best as a man of his word….

Finally, be sure to read our January issue for the unveiling of our Connect Business Magazine/KEYC-TV Business Person of the Year 2013 Awards, which are chosen by a knowledgeable panel of Minnesota State University College of Business professors. Thanks for reading southern Minnesota’s first and only locally owned business magazine, the one established in 1994 that grows businesses and reaches 8,500 business decision makers in nine southern Minnesota counties.

Daniel Vance

Daniel Vance

A former Editor of Connect Business Magazine

One thought on “OFF-THE-CUFF

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    November 14, 2012 at 5:02 pm
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    Dan,
    I loved the article on Mike and Kathy Brennan. These two are the type of people that any town would love to have working to make things better for all citizens. My wife worked for them for several years and enjoyed them both. I also liked your Off-The-Cuff editorial this month. Tim and Bob sounded like some interesting guys! I’m sorry to hear that Sal Frederick died. What a great guy, I’m blessed to have met him and had some great conversations with him and his wife. I happy to see your magazine doing so well. Keep up the good work you also do for the communities you serve.

    Blessings,
    Jerry Wilke

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