In the last issue, entrepreneur and founder of SAY Magazine, Leslie Lounsbury spoke about the successes and challenges of starting a new business. In this issue we find out more about the inspirational people she has met throughout her journey and her hopes for SAY Magazine’s future.
SAY Magazine: In all of your years working on SAY Magazine, you’ve interviewed and met so many people. What personalities stand out most? Which stories impacted you most?
Leslie: I’m not sure that I could say there’s one or two that stood out because people are different. They have different skills, different strengths and different stories. There was a story we did on a fellow from the United States, a veteran. He wasn’t a celebrity or very well known, but he was a hero and his story had a major impact on me.
Jordin Tootoo, who was on the very first cover of SAY Magazine, stands out in my mind as a very impactful individual because he has changed so much over the years. He went from a 19-year-old kid to a very respectable young man who gives back and who’s trying to change things for the better.
Kenny Dobbs, member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and International Slam Dunk Champion, is another young man who I was very impressed with. My son owned a place in Phoenix and when I was down there, I phoned Kenny and he said, “I know exactly where you are, I just live down the road from where you are so why don’t we meet at Starbucks. I’ll see you there in half an hour.” And so I went, and there he was. He brought his wife and his two daughters; and his children were amazing! He shook my hand and was very respectful. I found him to be a very committed young man – committed to his family, his craft, his work and his faith.
Another one that did really impress me was a man in Guatemala. He came to a presentation and you could just feel that there was such an aura about this man. And then, there are youth that I’ve met along the way and many are so honest and true to themselves. Those are the ones that really affect you – the ones who can change the world.
Lastly, people like Val Kilmer (on the cover of SAY Magazine in 2011), who is not native, started doing work with the World Indigenous Business Forum. He was really keen to participate and he gave of himself. I mean he is a celebrity and he is a big deal, but he still gave what he could and that’s all you can ask for.
SAY Magazine: In this day and age companies need to have a social media presence. How do you feel about SAY Magazine being more active on social media moving forward?
Leslie: I think it’s marvellous because I’m 70 years old and I am not particularly computer savvy, as Dominick will tell you, but in today’s world you have to be with the times. Nowadays, whatever generation, you have to keep up with the changes otherwise you get left behind. And I must say that was one of my fears with SAY Magazine, that we weren’t keeping up with the new technology and we were going to lose the young people if we didn’t make that change. So, that’s why I’m so delighted that the two of you (Dominick Blais and Kent Brown) are taking over because you will bring a whole new element and I think the young people will be more likely to stay interested.
SAY Magazine: Generally, people like on-line interactions and to be able to ask questions and get a quick response. SAY Magazine is more interactive with social media
Leslie: I agree. That’s why I think it’s so important to have younger people involved in it. They are so tech savvy! But there is something to be said about having something tangible, a hard copy of something, especially when someone’s been in the magazine; it’s a keepsake for many people. It’s not like old technology can’t intertwine. I think it’s just being able to find that balance.
SAY Magazine: Thank you for answering all of our questions, Leslie. Lastly, we want to know what has been your inspiration to keep going all these years?
Leslie: You know, in closing, from my perspective, the magazine was never about me or celebrities or making someone rich or famous; it was ALWAYS about giving someone who didn’t have a chance to be heard the opportunity to share their story and to have the opportunity to maybe be on the cover of a magazine. We don’t spend enough time acknowledging and respecting that everyone is special and unique.
I had a responsibility, and the creator was very clear that this should be done. That’s what kept me going and what I believe will keep you folks going on the same path in a different way, as it should be! It’s going to be a great adventure, and I can’t wait to see what you’ll do with SAY.
SAY Magazine would like to thank Leslie Lounsbury for being a leader and paving the way for Native people, for celebrating diversity and culture, and for giving a voice to those that may have otherwise never been heard.