International Women’s Day is a great opportunity to consider where we are and how far we still have to go in order to see women recognized as they should be in so many ways. Within the communications industry, there is better representation than many professions and for that I’m truly thankful. I’ve had the opportunity to work with so many smart, talented women throughout my career but, even in this industry, there remains an unequal gender balance in many of the very senior and executive levels.
Today I want to thank a number of people that have had an important impact on my professional life over the last 20 or so years.
Thank you to Patti Engel and Janet Stacey for your support and the opportunity to learn from each of you. The stages of my career were different but being able to work for smart, dedicated health care leaders was tremendous.
I appreciate the great industry friends, colleagues, and client contacts I’ve been fortunate to have over the years. Whether working together directly or just within the industry and crossing paths, it’s been such a pleasure to collaborate with people like Heather, LeAnn, Christina, Melissa, Jenna, and Maggie.
I’m also so excited to see how many of the young professionals I met during the earlier stages of their careers have gone on to do some wonderful things. It’s probably just that I’m old now but these “young” pros success is amazing and well-deserved. As an example, Jessie Clapper was an intern that put up with me way back when and has gone to do tremendous achievements for a number of leading brands. As have Kirsten, Nicole, and Janey.
I would be remiss to not-mention my amazingly talented wife Christina who is so dedicated and doing awesome things in her professional world and for our family.
Still a long road ahead, but I’m thankful that it’s being paved by this group and so many others.
In 2020, one positive that came from such an unusual year with more time at home was a re-birth of time spent reading by so many of us. While I didn’t get through as many books as I personally hoped, (it was still an odd year with plenty of other things to deal with) finding ways to learn through traditional business education or inspiration to think was a critical way for so many to keep some balance in an upside-down world.
I recently completed Fear Is A Choice which is the story of James Conner and all he learned in facing cancer as a young athlete. Initially, I wanted to read this book mainly as a Pittsburgh Steelers fan but as I read I found much more. Conner recounts his experience as a college player with dreams of the NFL, through diagnosis and treatment, to ultimately learning to embrace the new role he carries as a face for thousands of others facing cancer.
Through his personal journey, Conner gained wisdom beyond his years and I found myself thinking about how many of his messages are true values that can apply to our professional lives in addition to being great advice for daily life.
A few highlights included:
- The more you are able to recognize the people who are walking beside you, in whatever capacity they can, the more grateful you will become for the allies you have, and the stronger you will feel.
This was included appropriately enough within a chapter titled “Recognize Your Team” which we overlook far too often during tough parts of our professional journeys. When you consider this in the context of a career, it’s a pretty powerful concept. In a year when so many faced significant career change, think about those that have made an impact on your professional journey and how much it means when someone really believes in you, and walks with you during the challenging days. Take the opportunity to look around from time-to-time and do all you can to walk beside others whenever you can too.
- You are in your position, living out your story for a reason. You were uniquely created to do something with the exact circumstances you’re facing. Your story exists for you… Don’t wish yourself into someone else’s life. Don’t wish yourself out of your own story.
Over the course of your career, there will be success and failure. Everyone will be faced with both and often times the grass always looks greener on the other side, but the obstacles hold the potential to be the moments that transform us.
For young professionals, please know that while you may not be where you want today, don’t run from or rush your story- it’s meant for you. For my fellow gray-haired friends, your story continues to grow and may even change dramatically from where you’ve been and that can be THRILLING.
- Your courage to engage life with passion and chase your dreams despite setbacks sends a message to others. By coming out the other side of a challenging time stronger than ever, you are carrying a little bit of their fear and discouragement; you are making their load a little lighter because they know you’ve already walked this road.
It’s been a year— we’re all working through things together and every time you do something brave you inspire the next person behind you. At a time when inspiration is needed, the work you choose and how you react to challenges can be more meaningful to others than you may ever know.
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!
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
There 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.