Wednesday, September 21, 2011

local inspiration

Visit the website by clicking here > Queen

A HUGE thank you to Shannon from Queen of the Castle Magazine for doing this interview.  Your words are inspiring, your drive and ambition are encouraging and I'm so happy to share this with my readers! Enjoy everyone.
1. Tell us about the Queen of the Castle and how it came to be.
It’s quite a long story. Many things had to fall in place -and fall out of place elsewhere- for the magazine to start. In a nutshell, I wanted to see a women’s magazine here and kept telling everyone I knew. We all agreed it would be a wonderful thing, and so we eagerly waited for an EXPERT to start it. No one ever did. I finally ran out of patience and I decided (after many months of arguing with myself) to run with it.  I was driven by the memories of when I first moved to the area many years ago and the disconnect I felt.  It was important to me that I do my part to help others feel connected.  We are a women’s magazine, in that most of the staff are women, but more than anything we are about connecting people and changing the world through positive perspective.

2. What were the biggest struggles with getting Queen started and how did you overcome them?
The biggest struggle I had was in getting out of my own way. In the beginning I let my fears of failure really do a number on me. I figured if I failed it would be a great big public failure – yikes. I mean, who was I, this woman with no publishing background, no ad sales experience, who was I to start something so important?  But the idea wouldn’t go away, and a small voice in my head kept saying “who are you NOT to start this, you can do it!” I decided to make a commitment to take at least one action a day toward my goal.  Sometimes the actions were just talking to people, doing research on the internet, or making lists, but every day I took some action.  What I came to notice was the more action I took, the louder the “you can do it” voice became and the quieter my fears became, it helped me get and keep momentum

3. Tell us about your awesome staff.
I just don’t know where to start (already getting teary); we are so blessed to have the world’s best staff. All of the people on this staff are people I would look up to and admire even without this magazine.  Each one of them is a world-changer, and they genuinely care for other people and making the world a better place.  We don’t play games here, we have an agreement not to make assumptions about each other, but if we must, we assume the best.  It is so easy and freeing to work with a group like that.  You can just be yourself.  It also promotes creativity and generosity. The staff is extremely whimsical.  Anyone who has ever been at an event with us knows what I’m talking about. They’re so much fun, and they laugh a lot…and that kind of thing is contagious.  I love that.  I call them the “dream team” because in my wildest dreams I could never have dreamt that such a wonderful group of amazingly positive and energetic people would find their way to each other.  I give thanks for them every day.

4. What's your favorite thing about working on the magazine?
For me it’s the connections and the evidence of what can happen when people set out to focus on the positive. It’s the whole Queen family (the readers,the advertisers,and the staff).  They say like attracts like and I believe that is true. I get energized off the people the magazine has attracted.  I do feel like, in our own way, we are changing the world and that’s a very rewarding thing.

5. How do you brainstorm for your upcoming issues?
We listen very closely to our readers.  We read every single email, listen carefully to phone calls, talk to people in person, and monitor our social media sites. We accept open submissions. We have a seven-person editorial board that meets once a month to plan issues. We are generally planning a couple issues ahead at all times.  We listen to what content our readers need and are suggesting, we look at submissions and then we plan from there.   

Shannon and Sage
6. Do you have a favorite inspirational saying? If so, why does it inspire you?
Wow…I have about a million of them.  One of them is “We must be the change we wish to see in the world” by Mahatma Gandhi.  To me that quote has always been a beacon … whatever you want to see in the world, be the instrument for its beginning.

7. Tell us about the Queen loft.
Almost everything for the magazine is done out of each person’s home.  We have a company site online where files are shared and edited back and forth, but mostly the nuts and bolts of layout, editing, and design are done by each person independently. We have such a dynamic staff that is really like a family, we needed a place to come together as a group – a space of our own. Our Queen loft is a very colorful, playful place for us to have meetings, plan issues and events, and have small gatherings with readers. It’s definitely one of the best things we’ve ever done for ourselves.

8. What advice do you have for others out there working on creating their own brand.
Believe in yourself, be your own cheerleader. Don’t reinvent the wheel; do research, read books by others in your industry, talk to people.  Lay down some core values for your business; use them as a roadmap for your business and as a useful tool when making decisions.  Be open to change, your business may turn out a bit different than you originally envisioned in your head and that’s ok.  Listen carefully to feedback and constructive criticism but know when to shut those ears – negativity can beat your dream down. Probably the most important thing I can say is to surround yourself with really amazing, honest, positive, and energetic people who believe in themselves and their ability to change the world.

9. Where do you see the Queen in 5 years? 
I am really open to wherever it goes.  One thing I have learned is that when you have a huge boulder of enthusiasm and momentum going, its best not to try to force its direction.  Just get out of its way and let it go where it’s meant to go. You can either get run over by it (aka learning the hard way) or jump on top and enjoy the ride, I choose to enjoy the ride. One thing I can tell you is that our company is all about connecting people through positive prospective and we currently have some projects in development to keep connecting people in this positive way, but on a larger scale.

10. Where can my readers find a copy of the Queen?
Queen of the Castle Magazine (aka Queen) is a free publication circulated throughout the greater Chippewa Valley (West-central Wisconsin). It comes out monthly.  You can also read the entire issue online at  If you want the issue to come to your mailbox, you can also buy a yearly subscription on the website.

Make sure you join the Queen family on facebook:

Thanks again Shannon!! I wish you all the success in the world!

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