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Innovation, Inspiration and a Life Well Lived

5 Oct
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

11 Sep

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.

Kids Teaching the Workplace: Three Tips to Getting Along

7 Sep

It’s that time of year again where students of all ages head back to school.  From kindergarten to grad school, brilliant minds are being molded and shaped. So why are office dynamics still so challenging? Why is it that seemingly grown adults still get caught in “I don’t like so and so from marketing, they just have it out for me.”

I wish I had the one solution…I’d be an instant “business guru” making $50k a day on the corporate speaking circuit. (*Note here- I may not be a guru but if you like this post, I’m significantly cheaper that the $50k crowd. Call me.)  Thus, like any good communications professional, I went to my best source.  I asked my wonderful, brilliant daughter to share how people should work to get along.  Her points are brilliantly simple and truly do remind me of the principle of All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.  Really, after years of study we should all know this but here goes.

1) We get along because we’re one class.  We’re a team.

An honest point and realistic understanding that, unless you’re the CEO, you aren’t going to have the ability to build your team *exactly* as you might like.  Fact is you’re always going to have different personalities, styles, and talents on any team.  It’s not always fun to work with, or for, people who you may not love but the sooner you can accept that life isn’t always a bed of roses the better.  You’ve got your team, the key is to best fit in and make the team better in any way you can.

2) If we disagree, we still get along.

Really? Kids at five and six get this, why don’t we?  Disagreement happens and in the grown-up world it can actually be a good thing.  In my experience, if you never disagree it means that you’re probably not trying hard enough and thinking about ideas that will really make a difference.

There are ways to disagree professionally.  It shouldn’t be a personal issue when someone questions an idea or a particular effort.  Give feedback that will move you toward the ultimate good of the company and accept feedback or questions that do the same.

3)  If we have problems, we talk to the person first.  Then you go to a teacher after you try to work it out.

Seriously, if everyone did this there’d be so much less drama at the office.  It is so much more effective to go to “Bob” in accounting if you’re having an issue than complaining to your boss about Bob. Nobody (CEO’s, Presidents, Exec Directors) likes a crybaby.  If you haven’t even made an effort to professionally resolve a potential issue with a colleague before raising the issue with your boss and making it a high corporate priority you very much risk damaging your own reputation as much or more than that of the person you’re discussing.  Obviously there will be times in your career when higher-level intervention is needed and there are cases when a co-worker is seriously inappropriate and in need of an attitude adjustment.  Just be sure you’ve done all you can reasonably can do to solve the issue directly first before pointing fingers.

I had a blast hearing how simple this all seems to a child.  What else have you learned and what other tips do you have to avoid needless office headaches?

The Growing Pains of Growth

3 Jul

I’m going to go way back in my bank of stories for this one but that’s part of the point. In one of my high school history classes, which is getting far too long ago for my comfort, I had a teacher that would push us in all kinds of ways.  He was a former member of the military and you’d better believe that you *were* going to listen and behave in class.  If not, you could wind up standing with a foot in a garbage can during class, perhaps doing push-ups, or (my personal favorite) running laps around the parking lot…clockwise or counter-clockwise depending on the day of the week and you got it right or you did it again.  He could be both extremely funny and brutally tough on you as well.

One day in class, he was looking for a response on the War of 1812 that he wasn’t getting.  A few people threw out guesses but nobody had struck on the right approach to get the answer he wanted.  Eventually, after thinking for a while, I got a bit tired of the silence and thought I’d give it whirl.  The question?  Who was most responsible for the War of 1812 between Britain and the United States.  My answer- Napoleon.  Well, his response was enough to make a relatively quiet student like myself squirm more than a little bit.  In a tone eerily similar to Jim Mora’s famous “Playoffs?” rant, I received “What, Napoleon is French?!?”  How could he be responsible for the war?

At that point, I began mumbling my rationale and was summarily cut off with “France wasn’t even in the war.  You awake over there?”  The nervous teen embarrassment heartbeat began.  Not sure what the pulse rate was but I’m sure it’d be the equivalent of a great workout today.  My already dim dating hopes dashed, surely my academic future was now on thin ice,  perhaps I’d wind up in a garbage can for such crazy thinking the rest of the hour.  Some of my other classmates then tried jump in and save me, throwing out other names to move the discussion along.  Each one shot down as the teacher went through the events of the war.  I was hoping for the bell to ring soon, kind of like a beaten boxer just hanging on to survive.

Finally, after seemingly four hours in a 45 minute class, he came back and said “You know who was responsible for the war?” Everyone was more than ready to take our lumps and move on…”Napoleon.”  He looked and smiled a bit at me.  At that, a chorus of “he said that” went up to the heavens.  For goodness sake, why had we all (and mostly me) been subjected to the torture and embarrassment for an extra ten minutes??

The teacher wanted us to think critically and be confident in our opinions.  It was another in a long line of tests and challenges that we needed to meet.  I *had* the right answer but he could tell I wasn’t entirely comfortable with my view.  How was a guy not directly involved with the war responsible– well, my thinking had something to do with destabilizing a region and then encouraging the upstart U.S. with trade agreements and support.  However, the most important lesson I learned that day of challenging each other and how we think is one that applies equally well today in the business world.  It’s not easy, really it can be agonizingly difficult like those moments I sat sweating out my high school future and reputation as the “Napoleon idiot” from history class.

Challenges help us grow.  And, in an era of shorter attention spans and more distractions than ever, spending a little more time thinking critically and challenging how we think is essential to advance the work we do each day.

P.S.- I have a story about this teacher and nearly having to wash a car too if you’re interested. ;)

Some Public Relations for Public Good

31 May

In recent weeks I’ve been impressed by a trend of blog posts from people I’ve met online who are doing some great work to help or lift up others.  This is one of the most positive aspects of social media that can be lost amongst the negative stories (Facebook privacy issues, security challenges, and sites that may put your information at risk like Spokes) that accompany use of new technology.  However, for each horror story, I’m guessing there is an equally positive case of social media connecting good people or advancing important change.

I want to share a few examples with you illustrating the concept of good:

Erica Mayer:  Erica began a campaign for Charity Water to celebrate her birthday.  She created a page that outlined her reasons for getting involved and began sharing the page with her online network. What happened? Well, over $10,000 later, Erica has changed a lot of lives for her birthday.

Jeanne Bowerman: Inspiration also comes in the form of inspiration and insight. On her blog, Jeanne outlined a moving experience she had by connecting with a single person…who is often overlooked. Through her kind actions, Jeanne created a moment that changed his life, hers, and those that read her story.

Danny Brown: I couldn’t leave out one of my favorite social media for change guys. Danny is the driving force behind The 12for12k Challenge.  Over the last couple years, Danny has raised well over $100k to help out a number of worthy charities and connect a huge list of supporters that also work together to create change.

These are all just a few top of mind examples in my world of people making a real difference in their communities. Chances are if you’re reading this blog you’re working in a professional job, likely college educated, and connected with a variety of different networks. While we each have our own struggles, between a tough economy and the business known as life, there’s also a good chance you’re in a position to make a difference to someone.  It doesn’t have to be a gigantic commitment, it may be a single event that helps someone (much like Jeanne’s example) but in finding an issue that is meaningful to you, it actually engages others to help too.  I am blown away by many of the kind and smart people I’ve met in my community (both physical and online) and feel so blessed to say that you all inspire me. When you’re in a position to help someone, you can truly change lives…including your own.