Today, we welcome Kate Herman, president and publisher of the Nashville Business Journal (NBJ). Kate moved here from Milwaukee in 2006 to head the Nashville publication. She has seen the city grow through good and bad economic times and fully appreciates what a fabulous city we all call home! Welcome Kate, today’s FACE of Nashville.
How has the city changed since you first got here?
The growth and notoriety has been incredible. New companies continue to move here for the low taxes, central national location and the lifestyle. The leadership here is working toward the right things, like continuous improvement in education. The Nashville TV show is a worldwide commercial for us. The new restaurants are fantastic. With all of this, traffic is something that needs to be better managed.
Are there any new industry areas that are starting to take hold in Nashville that you find exciting?
Definitely. The mix of industries has always been a plus, starting with health care and music/tourism. The work being done at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center is increasing the number of start-ups, particularly in technology. I get a kick out of reading articles we write on companies and am constantly thinking, “That’s happening here in Nashville?”
I love that we are telling the stories so more people know about what’s happening. The professional services that support all of this are increasing, too, and more companies are opening offices here to get a piece of the action.
NBJ hosts many awards for business leadership. Is there one particular award that always receives the most nominations?
Yes. 40 Under 40. That is where we award the 40 people under the age of 40 making a difference in Nashville. That is followed by Women of Influence and Most Admired CEOs. One of the best parts of my job is meeting smart, interesting people. Being able to highlight them for others to know is an important part of what we do.
We find it interesting that so much of media management in Nashville is now led by women. Do you find that this changes the dynamic of these organizations?
I find this interesting, too. It’s funny, I never was big into women’s advocacy only because I never had, or maybe never noticed having, trouble advancing because of my gender. I always strove to be the best at what I did and was confident in my abilities and decisions. Now more women are coming to me asking for help, and I realize that there are things I can teach or help with in this vein. I have realized that just because I didn’t experience it doesn’t mean it isn’t there; that would be like saying that because I didn’t grow up poor there aren’t people who are poor. So now we are adding more programs for women and just recently launched our Women in Music City Awards to highlight women in the music business, again because someone told me this is needed. I am really proud of the work we are doing here. In the end, you want your organization to have all types of brains working toward your goals. You get the best results that way.
Is there someone who you consider a mentor?
There are mentors all around me. I learn things from people every day. My parents were great mentors … they are total opposites. My dad, a banker and Navy captain, taught me rules and structure and to dress for the job I want, not the job I have. My mom, a nurse, was completely laid back, and we would have coffee every morning before I left for my day at high school. She taught me to always be happy with what I have. They are divorced, and somehow they managed to give me the best of both of them.
What differences did you find in the South when you moved here from the North?
Drivers let others in when traffic is heavy; men wait for women to exit an elevator before they do; I have never had a meeting that starts with the words “I have 15 minutes, what do you have;” everyone talks about church and God; and the word Yankee is part of the regular vocabulary.
What quote or advice have you relied upon through the years?
One of my favorite quotes is, “It is good to have an end to journey towards, but it is the journey that matters in the end.” This helps me to remember to enjoy the moment. The toughest lesson is to realize that everyone has their own journey and needs to do it their own way. I used to want to fix everything immediately instead of letting things work themselves out … drove my very patient husband nuts. It’s best if I can step away from something and let it work its course.
What do you do to unwind after a particularly hard day?
Go home to hang out with my husband and whichever of our three teenagers aren’t out or working. Lately we have been playing Pass the Pigs or Bananagrams after dinner. Which one we play depends on how much brain I have left after my day.
Are you a cat person or dog person?
Oh, people who know me would laugh at this question. We have a dog from hell. Really smart and cute, but we don’t keep her busy enough. She most recently chewed up our irrigation system — wires and everything. So, right now I am not keen on any pets.
Can you name a favorite indulgence?
I am an early riser. Coffee on our deck as the sun comes up in the morning is the best.
What books are on your nightstand or e-reader?
I read or listen to two or three books at a time, flipping between what I am in the mood for — work, pop culture or self-help. Right now, The Hard Things About Hard Things, The Fault In Our Stars and Deep Meditation: Pathway to Personal Freedom.
Where was your last best meal in Nashville?
My husband is an incredible cook. His Thanksgiving dinners are made from 10 years of the best recipes in Bon Appetit and Cook’s Illustrated. We have family and friends to dinner and eat leftovers for three days.
If I am eating out … the Chef and I in Lenox Village. They have the best Caprese salad I have ever had in my life. I sit at the cooking counter and chat with the owner and chefs while they make it.
Is there a particular Nashville event that you are looking forward to this summer?
We like music and being tourists in our own town. My husband and I just went and sat on the riverfront lawn at the CMA Music Festival. Have you ever walked down Broadway on a Saturday afternoon and stopped in the venues to listen to music? I highly recommend it. Half the fun is talking with people from out of town.
Special thanks to Ashley Hylbert for today’s fabulous photography. Check out more of Ashley’s work, including her Zeitgeist series, here.