It’s amazing what happens when reporters actually leave the office and get out into the real world. At last week’s New Jersey CAMA holiday party at the Chauncey Conference Center, one of our staffers ran into John Witty, a business journalist and husband of Ellyn Spragins, whom Jamie Saxon profiled in U.S. 1’s October 12 cover story (“Dear Me: 20/20 Hindsight That Can Still Help”). Witty had some exciting news to share about Spragins’ first book, “What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self” (2006), which Spragins subsequently turned into two more books and an enterprise that comprises speaking engagements, workshops, and products.

At the CAMA party Witty revealed that the December 5 issue of People magazine featured country-pop star Taylor Swift praising “What I Know Now.” Sales on and soon spiked.

Saxon then followed up with Spragins, a Pennington resident, via E-mail, to get her side of the story. “Yes, it’s all been very unexpected and thrilling,” the author replied. “Here’s how I learned about it. I left PEAC after working out on the Wednesday morning before Thanksgiving, glanced at my phone and saw there were all kinds of texts from my niece and my sister. Turns out that my niece, Ainsley Gardner, had a friend who was having her hair done and looking at the new People magazine. The friend took a photo of the article, texted it to my niece, and asked, ‘Isn’t this your aunt’s book?’

“I had no idea it was coming, and I loved Taylor’s quote about the book: ‘It’s successful women writing letters to themselves at a younger age. Some of them made me cry. I keep it on my nightstand and pick it up when I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing in my life.’”

What did Spragins think about Swift being such a young person and why she might like the book? Spragins said: “From the time it came out, ‘What I Know Now’ has seemed to appeal to women of all ages, as well as teens. The idea that even the most accomplished women have had their struggles, which we can all learn from, seems to be encouraging and validating to women of all ages.”

Spragins, who keynoted “Women Take Charge: Building Leadership,” a November 9 conference sponsored by the College of New Jersey’s School of Business and the New Jersey Small Business Development Center, also reported that she was briefly in touch with Swift’s representative, who said that Swift really does love “What I Know Now.”

To read Spragins’ post about the news, and see a photo of the People magazine page, visit

P.S. We neglected to give photo credit to the beautiful portrait of Spragins on the October 12 cover. It was by Pryde Brown.

#b#U.S. 1 Trivia:#/b# What big league performer has not appeared at Yankee Stadium since allegedly making an anti-Semitic remark?

Answer to last week’s question: Before he became a CrossFit trainer Andy Mahaney was a minister.

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