Memorial Day


I was born on Memorial Day. A day we remember the dead.

If you met my grandfather, he may tell you if it wasn’t for my mom, he’d be one of the war dead. I’ve heard him say it a few times.

Grandfather Chet was drafted into the Korean War. His entire troop was killed hours after he was flown back to see my mom born in Illinois. My mom saved his life. I’ve heard my grandfather say it. He knows how lucky he is.

Good timing means I don’t have a cemetery plot to visit on Memorial Day, but so many do.

There are more than 7,500 American soldiers still “unaccounted for from the Korean War” as of June 2014. 33,651 were killed in battle. That’s just Korea.

Joseph Janicek fought in World War II. Grandpa Joe joined the Army and then told his brother, John, they would never take him. Basically – he dared his younger brother to join up.

“John, you’ll be 4F… they won’t take you!”

John joined the Marines, proving my grandfather wrong. Brothers, Joe and John were sent to WWII. They both came home, had children and grandchildren.

I only know the story of my grandfather’s sense of humor because John told his grandson (my second cousin), J.R. Janicek, later. J.R. followed his grandfather into the Marines.

My grandfathers didn’t talk about the wars.

I was in a newsroom in Detroit when the World Trade Center collapsed. At the beginning of the Iraq War, I spoke with a lot of mothers who’s children were leaving the country to head over. I watched men and women come back to their homes, hurt. Many were my age.

I started feeling guilty. I wasn’t doing my part. Unsure of how I felt about going to war, I knew how I felt about us being at war. It felt like almost every family knew or had someone involved somehow. I covered stories of hundreds of people gathering to create care packages and I helped create them. I spent hours on the phone fighting to get a mother’s money back when she was grossly overcharged for calls to her son serving overseas. I needed to do something more.

When I moved to Illinois, I found something more. I started volunteering for Illinois Patriot Education Fund. The non-profit organization raises money so veterans can continue their education. IPEF helps build better families and communities. Please watch this story and donate if you can. No story is the same. But, they all have a common need – and that is help from the rest of us. It’s one way we can thank them. Our veterans need us.

Thank you to Ryan Brockmeier. You are an incredible editor.

If you can donate to help Illinois veterans continue their education, please go to:

Have your own family war stories? Share them here if you’d like. We all should brag a little about our families…

Why I like my women smart, successful & gorgeous – and I’m OKAY if they’re smarter, prettier & more successful than me


I love helping people find their success – and I gravitate toward people who do the same.

There’s enough people out there who are so afraid of other people being happier and making more money that… I just wanted to be different.

Maybe it started when my parents moved me around to 5 elementary schools and three high schools? Maybe it was just how my parents raised me? I don’t know… I just felt like there were enough women (mainly) who didn’t want their friends to be prettier, happier or have better boyfriends… that, well, I just didn’t think that way of thinking needed another member.

I was always the new girl. We lived in 5 states by the time I was in 6th grade. I felt the nastiness with each move. The stares. The whispers. Little girls can be little devils. It’s crazy! This is how we’re raising our kids? Where do they learn this? Are they hearing their parents talking about the neighbors? Their coworkers? They have to be learning this somewhere… because they’re taking that nastiness and teaching other little girls. I didn’t want to be one of them.

Even though it’s burned me a few hundred times — I still try to help others be better. Even if it means being better than me. Hell, I WANT to be surrounded by smart and successful women. It’s better for my business and let’s be honest — it’s way more fun when it comes to cocktail hour. We have REAL shit to talk about.

We talk about businesses we’re going to start and how to make each other more profitable in their current roles. We talk about each other’s brands — and how to make them stronger. We’re brutally honest — and we can take it. That’s why I love each and every one. I’ve been labeled sometimes as someone who’s a little harsh, brash, bitchy… the list goes on… but it always came from a place of love and concern. I want everyone I work with to be BETTER than they were and are. If I didn’t CARE so much — I’d just fix their mistakes and move on… not caring about them learning anything and getting stronger. I’m PROUD of the fact that the strongest ones went on and landed better jobs after they worked for me.

We have a real opportunity now to make a difference in our economy and our culture by changing this way of thinking — but we need to make sure we reach the girls before they become the little devils. :)

Please share this if YOU love your women smart, successful and gorgeous — and you’re OKAY with them being smarter, prettier and more successful than you.

Bringing back the days when social networking was a cocktail party


I recognize you from Twitter.

At some point, hearing that in a grocery store – or at a restaurant over and over – you realize, it’s time to start living in the real world more.

We’re all busy — we work hard, and for some of us – our social lives have moved online. Our friends travel a lot… are getting married (some for the second time by now)… they’re trying desperately to keep up with their children’s busy social lives… and so, communication has moved from meeting at a bar — to chatting online or texting.

I’ve moved so much for work – that most of my really good friends don’t live anywhere close to me anymore.

This lack of in-person communication struck me in the past year — so when the opportunity for me to start connecting my friends IN PERSON arose – I grabbed it.

I come from a long line of party-throwers.

My grandparents, Rita and Chet, threw parties in their Barrington basement. My mom and dad loved having people over for drinks and cards. That got a lot harder when they started moving the family across the country to follow my dad’s jobs — but, we just started throwing our own small parties for our immediate family. My mom LOVES a theme party and she takes event planning to another level. From the Oscars party with a real red carpet, to Sunday morning Bloody Mary brunches – to our theme birthday parties… she’s a force. I missed the Kate and Will wedding party because I was doing the news at NBC Chicago that morning… but I heard it was pretty incredible.

For me, it’s not the drinks, food, etc — it’s about introducing friends. I love connecting people. I find so much pleasure in helping people find the expert they need. Lots of folks call themselves uber connectors, etc… but I do this to help people. I’m not looking for anything in return.

I want my friends to be successful and happy. It could mean meeting the next person they’ll hire, or their next boss… even a future date. I’m smart enough to know it’s good to help my tribe become happier and happier — and more successful. More importantly, I surround myself with people who also want to help others.

For the Academy Awards 2015, I wanted to acknowledge all the best picture nominees with signature drinks. Yes, lots of people do this:

… but mine have a little more thought behind them. Here’s what I created for my guests:















See you at the next one!

Oh Chicago – sometimes I just pinch myself…


I used to think I was the only person this giddy about my hometown.

Sometimes, I find myself trying to figure out how I’ll schedule in sleep because this city is at times just so intoxicating.

With NBC 5's Lauren Petty at Yak-Zies before Cubs home opener

Hours before the Chicago Cubs home opener last week, Lauren Petty said aloud what I’ve said to myself over and over the past few years: “sometimes I just have to pinch myself.”

Lauren is one of the reporters on my morning show at NBC 5 in Chicago. We’re both women who’ve worked in TV markets outside the Chicago area — and always wanted to come home. But, no matter how long you’re here – sometimes you just can’t believe you’re finally home. For me, it was a long time waiting — and even though I’ve been here for over three years now, I still just can’t get over how incredible the city is to me.

Terry Hemmert at 93XRT studios

This year’s Cubs home opener was one of those incredible Chicago days. We worked on the show for weeks,

starting with a meeting at the WXRT studios with Lin Brehmer and Mary Dixon (saw Terry Hemmert too while I was there — I’ve heard her host “Breakfast with the Beatles” for years — so cool to see her in the booth).

Day of the opener, I was in the office before 1am… the show looked great – shots were beautiful – team did an awesome job as always… and we even ended the show with a “7am stretch” live from “Yak-zies” with everyone singing “Take me out to the ballgame.”

Afterwards, I met Lin & Mary from XRT at Yak-Zies to thank them. As I was standing behind Yak-zies chatting with Lin back by the dumpsters… the back door opened – and a face from my high school years emerged.

Billy Corgan and me... just chatting behind Yak-Zies

It was Billy Corgan from The Smashing Pumpkins.

I found myself so unprepared for the moment. I was torn between wanting to belt out a few bars for him… and telling him I’m also from the northwest suburbs. Instead, I went the real dorky route and asked Lin if he wouldn’t mind taking a picture for me…

I really need to get some guts.

Watching Guster at 93XRT Cubs home opener show at Yak-zies

Merry Christmas to YOU…


Like any warm-blooded woman… I love jewelry. In this way, I am not at all unique.

But unlike a lot of woman — I do not own a lot of it. I have just a few signature pieces. Some vintage — and a few that remind me of my travels. I don’t collect postcards anymore, never was a shot glass girl, don’t like magnets on my fridge, do not collect patches or other knickknacks… but I LOVE looking down at my ring remembering my shopping trip in Egypt… or putting on earrings I picked up in Panama or on my recent trip to Cuba…

When something really strikes me. I want it.

I especially LOVE vintage… and pieces that look as if they could be. I remember when my first fiance asked me what kind of ring I wanted. I didn’t know anything about diamonds or cuts. All I knew, it that I wanted something that looked like a period piece. Watch what you ask for ladies…

I have a feeling you’re going to hit it out of the ballpark 100% of the time with Isabella Rose Designs. She’s a designer a friend just turned me onto this year. You need to look at this website. I truly do not know if you’re going to be able to pick out just one piece. That’s the problem. The first time I went shopping — I found 3 I needed right away.

Renee Trikolas created the line. She’s a fellow Chicago woman and was also born in the suburbs. She named the company after her daughter Isabella Rose. What I love about her look – is it will last. It’s classic and clean. You can wear one bracelet … or take a few and mix them up on your arm at the same time. She was really smart to make many of them that look so great together.

Need a pick-me-up? Go shopping! Make it a very Merry Christmas for YOU!

There are several collections including:

  • Covet: Created with hand crafted semi-precious stones
  • Couture: Custom and one of a kind designed pieces
  • Perfection: 22 karat plated gold collection using semi precious rocks
  • Enchantment: The designer merged Swarovski crystal with metals.
  • Glo: Designed exclusively with Swarovski crystals
  • Little Miss Couture: All for little girls… and every little bead is Swarovski
  • Little Miss “Crittoure”: Princess meets pooch. No detail is forgotten with every crystal canine collar.

A Week in Cuba – a Lifetime of Learning


I went to work today after being “offline” for 10 days with three strands of seeds on my neck and an arsenal of at least 20 new Spanish words I hadn’t owned 7 days prior. My body was strangely relaxed, my hair was wild and air-dried… and I was humming Bésame Mucho.

I also had a whole new knowledge and even more questions about the very eccentric and passionate country of Cuba.

This was no easy trip. But it’s getting easier now for U.S. residents to discover Cuba. Just a week before we left — O’Hare International Airport started weekly flights nonstop to Cuba — and on the second day of our trip, we ran into NBC Today Show shooting with National Geographic. A very strange coincidence… we talked about my show numbers here in Chicago (I’m an executive producer at the NBC station) and I made sure to introduce my father to anchor Natalie Morales. Great memory. We bumped into the crew a few more times during the week.

I just confirmed the NBC Today Show Cuba segment airs Friday, December 16.

We saw the crew after walking right through the middle of an Afro-Cuban music session in ‘Salvador’s Alley’ in Callejon de Hamel, Havana. I felt like I was sleepwalking. Music — chanting, smoke, pot, art, a mass of people everywhere… it was like a rave, orgy and Dave Matthews concert all in one.

Cuba felt like that several times during my week there… I’d look down the street, and swear I was dreaming or was just cast in a 1950’s era flick. I had only seen cars like that in the museums in Detroit. It was truly surreal. Everything people tell you…

I have about 1500 pictures and 45 videos. Believe me – each view is incredible. The music is unbelievable — and you will LOVE the Tropicana. Trust me.

An hour of advice to future PR professionals


I had the honor of leaving work today – getting into a cab – and heading straight to college. Columbia College Chicago.

The school’s Public Relation Student Society of America Chapter (@ColumbiaPRSSA) invited me to speak at it’s social media conference:

Social Media in PR: Connecting YOU to the Real World
Tweet. Update Status. Check-in. Blog. Repeat. Social Media has changed the world as we know it and no one wants to be left out of the loop. Come learn about the ever-evolving uses and benefits of social media in PR and Marketing from the following social media gurus:
Kathryn Janicek
| NBC Chicago Executive Producer
Ernest Wilkins | RedEye Social Media/Special Events Coordinator
Tim Toomey | Rockit Ranch Productions Interactive Marketing Coordinator

What I love about speaking at events like these… is I never think I have a lot to share. That is, until I read what’s tweeted about me after I leave.

Today, on my 3-year anniversary of jumping onto Twitter… my Twitter stream BLEW UP. I had a few dozen college students tweeting as I spoke for an hour. If you’re a young PR professional or college student and couldn’t make it — here’s the dialogue that was streaming on Twitter while I was talking:


Any twitter birthdays in the house? @kathrynjanicek is celebrating her third twitter birthday! #columSMC #HAPPYTWITTERBIRTHDAY


The amazing @kathrynjanicek here at @ColumbiaPRSSA #columSMC


Best way to brand yourself “Be on twitter!” @kathrynjanicek #columSMC


So glad I have the opportunity to hear @kathrynjanicek speak this morning, she has very valuable social media advice to share! #columSMC


“My intern checks my voicemail..If you can contact me in 140 characters, you’ve got my attention!” @kathrynjanicek #columSMC


“Know your media when pitching.. you have to know the shows” @kathrynjanicek #columSMC


“i believe a real news viewer  needs it on every platform, they don’t compete against each other.” #columSMC


“I got my job because of branding” @kathrynjanicek Brand yourself in social media and makes sure to MONITOR!! #columSMC @ColumbiaPRSSA


You need a brand, you can’t just puke everything in your life out there – advice to interns from at @kathrynjanicek #columSMC

Talking to Columbia College's Anne Marie Mitchell (@CCCPRProf)


Connecting via Social Media can be VERY powerful- leads to jobs!  @kathrynjanicek #columSMC


“Show your stuff! We’re interested in leadership/clubs/experience!” @kathrynjanicek #columSMC


Pimp out your friends for LinkedIn recommendations – @kathrynjanicek #columSMC


@ColumbiaPRSSA #private becomes #public. Show your best face always, keep it professional! Thx 4 the advice @kathrynjanicek #columSMC


“Be able to tell a good story. Work your pitch.. it will set yourself apart.” @kathrynjanicek #columSMC


@ColumbiaPRSSA Take ur brand seriously! #Google yourself & create search traffic to better ur brand. Thx @kathrynjanicek #columSMC


“you need to have a stamp out there, a clean and professional stamp…it has to be a well maintained brand.” #columSMC


“everything you send out on social media is going to be seen by the world.” #columSMC


“Over tweeting, posting, spamming can be hurtful…treat each person as a valid relationship” @kathrynjanicek #columSMC


“OMG YOU ALL NEED TO BE ON #KLOUT!” Tip of the day! @kathrynjanicek #columSMC


“Twitter has helped us tell stories,especially with Occupy Chicago. It’s a great way to keep people informed.” @kathrynjanicek #columSMC


A9: “At the end of the day, we are customer service. We deliver what the viewer wants to see.” @kathrynjanicek @columSMC

mrdeonteblue Deonté

“Tell a good story” @KathrynJanicek on selling yourself. Same thing we are taught at @disneystore when selling products. #magic #ColumSMC


Via @kathrynjanicek “if you can intrigue me in 140 characters…you can intrigue an audience” #ColumSMC

DickyJObliged Dick Joseph

Thanks @kathrynjanicek for the very insightful presentation at #ColumSMC


“if you can’t tell a really good story you won’t get your story placed.” Via @kathrynjanicek #ColumSMC


@kathrynjanicek is one heck of a #Twitter teacher. What a smart and savvy chick. #columSMC


Calculating my Klout now at #columsmc Social Media Conference! Thanks for the tip @kathrynjanicek and @MichaelEsparza7 at #nbcchicago!


Via @kathrynjanicek “use social media to build your network and get a job” #columSMC

@sidneyreuben Sidney Reuben

My favorite was e session with @kathrynjanicek RT @ColumbiaPRSSA: Did you attend #ColumSMC? What was your favorite part? What did you learn?


Thank you for speaking @kathrynjanicek at #ColumSMC Always amazing hearing your stories & advice!

@davehennessy Dave Hennessy

Thanks @kathrynjanicek for speaking at #ColumSMC today. Enjoyed your thoughts on journalism + social.


Calculating my #Klout now at #columsmc Social Media Conference! Thanks for tip@kathynjanicek


#ColumSMC @kathrynjanicek She was great today. Such power and passion!

I have a lot of good friends in the media — come on — what other advice can we share??

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Kathryn JanicekMorning Show Executive Producer for NBC Chicago, news addict, social media lead, traveler, romantic, songstress, runaway bride.. but there’s still hope!

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