UPDATE AUGUST 10, 2010: Lisa and Melissa made the last cut of 5 finalists! Thank you for your votes! Now let's get them the WIN! ** This round ends tomorrow!
Ever run a business? How about a growing business in a shrinking industry? Try that in your off-hours, on weekends and nights after work? Now try running that business on sheer volunteer power -- including your own. You pay your suppliers, you deliver your product, but you don't put a dime in your pocket.
It's not a nutty new season of The Apprentice; it's what our publisher Lisa Lee and founding editor Melissa Hung do and have done for years.
And if you've seen our magazine, you know why they do it. Here Asian American journalists write their passions: ask questions that matter, but not necessarily to CBS. Here new writers let you in on their stories before they're famous -- or come back to stash a story after they are. Here top talent lends us their pens and lens because these are more than pages; they are a showcase.
Hyphen curates today's creations. Hyphen incubates tomorrow's creators.
And that this improbable publication is still standing seven years since someone dreamed it up, has everything to do with these two women.
Melissa has at some point performed nearly every task that making a magazine happen entails. Her responsibilities when editor in chief were supposed to stop at content, but there have been times when Hyphen has not had a publisher, and she has been its everything. She's kept books, sold ads, filed taxes, gone to the post office on her lunch breaks to mail issues to new subscribers one by one.
And throughout, she has been its vision. Melissa set the high standards of writing, thinking, and production that made me decide, when I saw my first issue, to volunteer.
But to describe Lisa, I have to resort to the language of miracles. I speak as a former publisher, and yet have no idea how she's managed what she's done: brought Hyphen emphatically into the black. She has given us a steady operating budget, one that doesn't hang on garage sales or shoestrings.
When Lisa first took the helm, Hyphen had about $1000 to its name. Worse, all the long-time leaders had left or were leaving -- to start grad school, make babies, launch careers... Our lives were taking many new forms, but they all seemed to entail leaving Lisa holding the bag. The very empty bag. So this here tribute is one part apology, two parts gratitude, and three parts awe. Though Hyphen ain't rich, we are perhaps the only Asian American magazine today not at dire risk. We'll be here tomorrow, thanks to Lisa -- and Lisa, we'll follow you anywhere.
So now Lisa and Melissa have been jointly nominated for a contest recognizing people under 40 who are making sh*t shake in San Francisco: 7x7 Magazine's Hot 20 Under 40 Reader's Choice. The 7x7 editors say they like creativity and innovation; they think do-gooders, entrepreneurs and risk takers are hot.
Well, I think we've found their winners.
Love what these two have done for Hyphen? Vote here. (Vote early and often! There are four rounds of voting -- the last one closing August 11th.) Lisa and Melissa are still #1 on the top 5 list; scroll to the bottom of the page to click on their bubble, then look just below the ballot to locate the cunning little Submit button. Don't worry about adding a comment if you don't want to; it's not part of the voting process.
And do tell your friends to vote, too. Such an easy way to say thanks, and wow, don't you think?