Welcoming a New Year. What Lies Ahead?

Communications, Growth, Life

I’ve always been centered on goals. Even as a kid I set goals like a maniac. Everything was centered around competition and achievement, mainly with myself. It went well beyond basics like grades in classes and included daily goals in terms of my athletics. Make the shot 80 percent of the time, the ball hits specifically here 10 times in a row, one more set of steps or weights to break your record. This kind of goal-setting and competitive view is hard-wired into me.

Like many people this time of year, we look back at the year and what we’ve achieved and what lies ahead. I also expect that for many goal-setters, this year creates a whole new experience in this assessment process. Over the years, many of my professional goals have centered around titles and milestones.

For 2021, I certainly have some concrete goals as a new business owner that are specific and centered in traditional metrics but more involve others than ever before. More are focused on the impact that I, and each of us, can have on each other. It’s been a hard year for everyone. It’s been a hard year for Minnesota. It’s been a hard year for many I know personally.

As I look at how I can be better, professionally and personally, some non-traditional goals include:

  • Connect with partners, former colleagues, and others I can help weekly: This can be a simple call. A Zoom coffee chat. Mainly though, I can’t wait for in-person conversations and spending time hearing more from others again on how they are working to adapt to our current world. It’s easy to do but it’s also easy to ignore. We collectively become so busy and it’s easy to lose track of people that we value as colleagues, mentors, and friends.
  • Identify and work on behalf of organizations that transform my community: One of the core goals I have in working independently is to have the chance to help others. This year has pushed so many people from “getting by” to struggling or true crisis. I hope that one of the long-lasting positives we can take from our loss-filled, strained year is a caring for others. This important part of us has always existed but came to the surface again as we work through a pandemic, the tipping point of social justice issues, and economic struggles.
  • Spend time in thought on what’s next for the industry and how communications must evolve: When my father passed away, I received a publication from the Society of Real Estate Appraisers (he was an appraiser and Realtor) which included comments from him on adapting at a time of great change in that industry. It included “…use your time learning new skills, finishing educational hours, researching or relaxing at the beach.” This came to mind this year as there was more unstructured time in most of our lives than we’ve ever had before. We must collectively continue to think and plan for what may come but also allow moments to breathe and just think.

What did you learn in 2020 that you’ll bring forward into your goals? How can we strive to do better in 2021 as we all seek to create a better year and a better world?

I wish you all a Happy New Year and a transformational 2021!

Getting Back on the Court

Uncategorized

For any sports fan, Hoosiers is a classic film highlighting the story of a small-town Indiana basketball team achieving more than they ever thought they could. I don’t really need to say anything more than Jimmy Chitwood to most basketball fans to get the vision of a pure shooter in their mind. But today, the reason I’m thinking of young Jimmy Chitwood is his line “I don’t know if it’ll make any change, but I figured it’s time for me to start playing ball” when he decides to play again.

In my world, it’s time for me to start playing ball…. well, writing… again. Having been on the agency side for the last decade, my writing became utilized for other sites and it’s time to get back to writing for myself on topics that matter in the communications world. For those who read my work before, welcome back. For new readers that find this page, I hope you share your views and thoughts to discuss as we all grow better through smart dialogue.

If you haven’t seen Hoosiers for some reason, go see it immediately. Then keep an eye out for new topics here in the coming days.

Innovation, Inspiration and a Life Well Lived

Entrepreneurship, Life

Steve Jobs, Apple, RIP Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

The impact of  a life can be seen in many ways. It will be measured in what you achieved, what you thought, and what you dreamed. Steve Jobs dreamed big and changed the world and how many in the world live their own dreams. Rest in peace sir and see what you’ve begun…

  DaveWaite via HootSuite

Bought my first Mac SE/30 in 1990. Lots of great machines and devices since. Steve has left quite the legacy.

lulugrimm via Twitter for iPhone

Just heard Steve Jobs died. Incredible sadness, but full of gratitude that he actualized all he did. The world is better because of him. #fb

  joshbecerra via Twitter for iPhone

RIP Steve Jobs…you will always be an inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs.

  rribbitz via Facebook

Thank you, Steve Jobs, for the technology that ignites and fuels so many dreams, including mine.

  hdueitt via web

amazing how much of my life is revolved around dreams that Steve Jobs created.

  balemar via TweetDeck

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” youtu.be/UF8uR6Z6KLc #RIPSteveJobs


  MikeBloomberg via Web

Steve Jobs was a genius who will be remembered with Edison and Einstein. His ideas will shape the world for generations bit.ly/nxI3N4

Reflecting, Remembering and Learning

Leadership, Life

American Flag, September 11, 9/11, AmericaThere will be a ton of posts today talking about the impact of September 11 on our world. I’m going to go a bit off script of this blog and the communications focus today as well though I will note only that the lessons learned about belief, honor, and doing what’s right apply to everyone in whatever you do.

In 2001 we collectively saw the most horrendous moment in many of our lifetimes, especially for those of us that hadn’t lived through Vietnam or World War II. An attack on U.S. soil was something that seemed unimaginable. I, like so many others, began my morning at work before any news of the Towers came in. I heard on the radio first that a plane had crashed into the first tower. I assumed it to be a tragic accident. I went online and looked to find more but sites were overloaded and locked up. Our office turned on a television in a conference room and we began to realize the magnitude of what really happened.

In the days and weeks that followed, our world truly changed forever as we heard stories of immeasurable loss that have stayed with me for a decade now. I can’t imagine the fear of not knowing if a loved one made it out or not. The hurt of so many children who lost their parents in an instant. The feelings of those on the planes and realizing what was happening.

However, today as I look at the events of 9/11 I also see many things that we should honor and remember.

  • Sacrifice- I recall the images of amazing people from FDNY, NYPD, emergency responders and citizens moving toward the Towers while others were trying to get out. Hearing their stories and the story of those on Flight 93 including a Minnesota native, Tom Burnett Jr., who gave their lives to try to prevent that day from being even more deadly all deserve our respect.
  • Belief- There was an unwavering belief from all those noted above and involved that they could make a difference and help. Sometimes the worst and hardest moments in our lives bring out the best in us. On that day, there was no question and no hesitation from people all across our country but just a desire to do whatever they could to help others. There was also a belief that America was worth defending and fighting for.
  • Unity- In an era where politicians can’t wait to take credit for the good and blame the bad on others, Americans came together and ignored our differences and a spirit of unity and teamwork developed and we were all united. An attack on one of us was an attack on all of us and it was a great feeling to see people here in the Midwest and all over supporting our citizens on the East Coast.

After ten years and time to reflect it’s still painful to think of that day and what it meant. My daughter will never know a world without the underlying threat of terrorism and I have to explain why anyone would ever do such a thing. I think of all those who lost family and friends that awful day. I think of many friends and people I love in New York and am so thankful they’re here today but know I can never fully understand the meaning of this day in their lives.

However, I am proud that New York and the United States got back up and rebuilt and we go on. We remember, we hurt, but we also hope for a brighter future and that our children will never know another day like that Tuesday morning where our world changed.

The Slime Gets Everyone Dirty

Communications, Public Relations, Writing

I was excited recently when I happened to see a link to an article from The Economist on PR. I knew it would obviously be a bit on the sensational side given the title of “Slime-Slinging” that screams link bait but I really love the writing in the publication. The article takes a look at the recent mess that is the Google vs. Facebook debacle and was interesting indeed but I was again irritated by the painting of all PR people as the evil slimy underbelly portion of the “new” media environment.

I think at the core my real problem is that despite the vast majority of PR people operating in an ethical manner it’s seemingly always a fun story to write about the bottom of the barrel. However, if we’re going to get at these issues honestly then let’s really do it.

There are bad PR people who operate very questionably and will sell their ethics

Or maybe they never had ethical standards in the first place. Yes, it’s sad but true and I will concede this but I’ve been working in the communications industry 15 years now and would say that there have only been a handful out of a thousand plus I’ve known who truly missed Morality 101. It’s really unfortunate when things like this happen and chasing a story or the almighty dollar becomes a priority and someone is willing to throw their reputation and career out the window. However, most communications pros understand that all you have at the end of the day is your credibility and integrity. If I am going to work in this industry I must always remain honest, upfront, and seek to provide good counsel to clients, employers, as well as bloggers and journalists. Most of us understand this point.

There are journalists that aren’t saints either

Again, the very, very vast majority of journalists I’ve worked with over the years are honest, credible, good professionals. Yet if we really want to open this discussion up and have a conversation on what our new media environment looks like with the rise of blogs, social media, and citizen journalism we need to acknowledge that there are a few journalists that don’t like playing by the rules either. It happens.  In truth this particular sentence in The Economist bothers me a lot on the hypocrisy scale, “The PR flacks who did Facebook’s dirty work were two ex-journalists who had only recently gone over to the dark side.” Really, just recently went to the dark side? Clearly nobody could’ve been an ethical question mark until crossing into the PR world right? The fact that these journalists weren’t trained in PR ethics is part of the problem as they likely believed the myth that any journalist makes a good PR pro. It showed they don’t know where the line is in working credibly with a client or they didn’t care. It’s the people, not the job.

There are bad bloggers, writers, and social media snake oil salespeople

Anytime there’s a new market it takes a few years to settle in and become a functioning (or at least semi-functioning) environment. It has been a pretty long-standing joke with many in the social media community around how thousands instantly became self-appointed “gurus”, “ninjas”, or “rockstars” in the online community. Opening up to new viewpoints and ideas has been one of the truly great benefits of all these new channels. The ability to connect with smart people professionally or personally regardless of location has transformed how we collectively communicate but it also requires that everyone looks with a critical eye on who is worthy of trust. Because someone has a great looking blog or a large follower base on Twitter shouldn’t grant them a free pass to report or publish anything under the sun as gospel truth.

The Burson Marsteller, Facebook, Google mess is an example of what happens when people lose sight of their ethics. Let’s not look at this only as a PR problem though. It’s a credibility problem, one that impacts all of us working in communications regardless of what “side” you’re on.  The day I compromise my morals and can’t look my colleagues in the eye or can’t tell my daughter that I’m proud of what I do is the day I need to leave.

I think a real discussion of the issues facing PR, media, and bloggers would be outstanding and I’d greatly appreciate viewpoints and representation from all of them here.

How can we collectively work to boost credible collaboration so all of us aren’t smeared with the same slime generated by a few?

*initially posted on http://www.prevolutionblog.com