Asked what skills they envied in their publisher counterparts, all the editors stressed the need to develop a business sense and to learn how to articulate and sell the magazine's vision. And Glamour's Cindi Leive said, "Editors like to make fun of publishers for their team-building language and their trust exercises. But the truth is, you do have to do things to make your employees feel valued." Real Simple editor Kristin van Ogtrop said she wished she had the "patience and diplomacy" of her publisher in the face of often-absurd advertiser demands. "There's not necessarily more pressure [to appease advertisers], but the requests are getting stranger," she said — without, unfortunately, being specific.
In an age when wrangling a hot celebrity is make or break on the newsstand, editors are also fielding ever-crazier requests from celebrity publicists. Susan Schulz, editor of Cosmogirl, recalled a celebrity's request to have her hairstylist paid $10,000. "We're put out on a shoestring. We were able to get it down to $2,500, which is not really a proud moment in my life — I got a celeb's hair done for $2,500." (Perhaps she should have gotten John Edwards' barber.)
Despite the panel's apparent mission, panelists underplayed their ambition — which, of course, is easy to do now that they're at the top of the masthead. Van Ogtrop said she hadn't come into the industry with a plan: "It feels like I was walking down the street, looked the wrong way and fell into a hole....I've never had a plan, but if you're good at what you do, you'll make it happen." Min struck a similar note: "It's off-putting when a junior employee tells you they want to be editor in chief." Instead, she said, the key is to be indispensable. So when Bonnie Fuller left Us Weekly, Min said, "I was the easy solution. Make yourself the easy solution."