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When asked what made her decide to write an autobiography, Nancy Zieman’s reply is simple.

“Google made me do it,” she says.

Zieman explains that a couple of years ago, she was looking for a new website for a project and she started to type her name into the search bar.

“The quick search that comes from Google had ‘Nancy Zieman face,’ ‘Nancy Zieman smile,’ ‘Nancy Zieman stroke,’” she said. “I thought, no ‘Nancy Zieman sewing?’ No ‘Nancy Zieman quilting?’ I had to pick up my ego from the floor and then say, well, I understand. I understand why people would want to know about this, because it’s unusual to have someone on television who is not picture perfect. And I’m certainly not.”

Zieman’s show, “Sewing with Nancy,” features a segment called “Nancy’s Corner,” where guests are invited to talk about their area of expertise, whether that expertise is in art or philanthropy or another area.

After the Google search, she decided to work with UW-Hospitals and invited the chairman of the neurological department to be a guest on the show. The doctor accepted and spoke about Bell’s palsy, which is what affected Zieman at 14 months old, as well as acoustic neuromas and strokes.

After that, she wrote a blog about the palsy. Despite being a few years old, that particular blog remains popular and is consistently in the most viewed of Zieman’s blogs.

In addition, people would read the blog and post stories about their own challenges — be it hip surgery or severe illness — and would use Zieman as an inspiration.

When a business associate suggested she write her autobiography, she thought of an editor from the magazine “American Quilter,” who had interviewed her for a previous article. That editor, Marjorie Russell, quickly agreed.

“The purpose is not to bring myself glory or notoriety, but each and every person has an issue. It may not be visible like it is on me. It may be social, economic, physical, mental, you name it,” she said. “If my story can help one other person overcome what they think is an obstacle and get beyond it, then I would be happy.”

The book, “Seams Unlikely,” will be available on Feb. 4, and Zieman is planning a free book signing at Nancy’s Notions, 333 Beichl Ave., Beaver Dam, from 1 to 3 p.m. that day. She’ll give an overview of the book and refreshments will be available. People are asked to register for the event by calling the store at 800-725-0361 or 887-7321.

Other signing events are planned in Lodi, Cedarburg, Madison and at the sewing weekend on May 1 to 3. For more information on the events, visit www.nancyzieman.com/blog/events. For more information on the book, visit www.seamsunlikely.com.

Zieman said she’s been asked if a follow up might happen, but she doesn’t think there’s more to write on the subject. She said if she were to consider writing another non-sewing book, it might be more business oriented.

“My husband and I were asked to speak at Viterbo College in La Crosse to a business entrepreneurial class. That was a lot of fun,” she said. “Obviously starting a business in 1979 and starting a business in 2014 are galaxies apart. Everything is so different. But some of the same principles apply.”

She learned over the years to work hard to get co-workers and employees as engaged and informed as she was about new products. It was good to have everyone analyzing, and sometimes questioning, things.

“People did not hesitate to tell me to reanalyze things. They felt very comfortable with that. Sometimes I liked it. Sometimes I’d think, ‘Oh darn. I’ve got to rethink this,’” she said. “Treat your employees like family, which they were to me. They still are. No one is better than the next, because I may have been the band director, but without people playing the instruments, there would have been no music.”

Family is a consistent theme in her story, from her brothers while growing up, to her husband and two sons.

“My husband didn’t want to read the book or any of the drafts until it was printed, which made me nervous,” Zieman said. “We printed advanced reading copies. I had people close to me and people who contributed to it read it to make sure I did not misquote them or forget some details. He had a suggestion now and then to change a word, but all in all, he was good with it.”

She said it’s a little unnerving to be so open, but as a public figure she often gets asked the same questions.

“Everyone just treats me normal, like I’m nothing special and I don’t need to be treated specially,” she said. “Living in Beaver Dam is wonderful, because you can just blend in. You don’t have to have any notoriety, you’re just Nancy.”

She said some people may read the book, not to know about her, but because her story is an example of how small ideas can manifest into something if a person is diligent and passionate.

“Bankers used to say to me, what’s your two-, five- and 10-year plan? I used to secretly think, my plan is to get to two, five and 10 years,” she said. “You’ve got to be passionate about starting a business in order to start it. If you’re lukewarm, there are going to be so many ups and downs that you’ll give up way too soon.”

“If my story can help one other person overcome what they think is an obstacle and get beyond it, then I would be happy.” — Nancy Zieman

 

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