Chapter 1

I'd never met Paul Huntsman when he invited me to his Salt Lake City office to ask me to join The Salt Lake Tribune's inaugural board of directors. The paper was transitioning to a nonprofit organization. Like all Utahns, I admire Paul's father immensely. I believe his brother, Jon Huntsman Jr., was an excellent governor who went on to represent the best our state has to offer, serving in prominent roles in both Republican and Democratic administrations.

Junior would've made a great president. Or maybe not. It's hard to know or care, given the current state of things out there in Washington, D.C.

The board member gig sounded easy enough. I just had to show up to a meeting every month, and I wasn't even required to say anything if I didn't feel like it. Plus, I studied journalism in college and have been fascinated by the Trib's history for as long as I've been pretending to be fascinated by it.

To be honest, the main reason I said yes can be attributed to a personal rule I set for myself many years ago: never say no to someone important who asks you to do something you're entirely unqualified to do. Given how well this principle has served me in my life, I'm contemplating becoming a life coach to encourage people to do things they shouldn't even be considering.

I'll name my coaching business "Of course, it's preposterous! What isn't?"

At the end of the meeting, Paul and I shook hands. I was ready to start another adventure with another Utah billionaire. That appears to be the theme of my 30s. If grandpa could see the man I've become, he'd tell me to stop dinking around. I can hear his voice now. "Are you dense or something? You have chores to do, weeds to pull, and those cows aren't going to feed themselves."

I miss you, grandpa. Hopefully, they'll cancel me soon so I can spend more time on the farm.

We had one board meeting in person at Huntsman's office, and then Covid-19 hit. It would be Zoom calls for the rest of my one-year tenure. Zoom suits me fine because I can mute myself and pretend my camera's not working. Also, I don't like pants.

TestUtah is a different story. Like most modern stories, it has to do with Covid-19. It started with an email from a local tech CEO calling on Silicon Slopes leaders to step up and help the state however they could in response to the pandemic. These were the early, naive days. I was washing Amazon packages with Clorox wipes as the president called a press conference and told every state they'd have to fend for themselves. When he said that, I remember thinking, "That's not good."

So a group of us Utahns got on a call and started talking about ways we could help. Those early conversations were centered on how to get PPE to front-line healthcare workers. We somehow helped with that, and soon private planes started landing in Utah airports chock-full of PPE. Feeling accomplished, I thought to myself, "Is there any problem tech can't solve?"

Those were the early, naive days.


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