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Satisfaction


There are lots of opinions about life and how long – or not so long – it is.

Days can sometimes feel like weeks, and years can go by in a flash.

Along the way, we struggle, sometimes an awful lot. Some of those struggles are big, some are small. Some are for trivial things, others are for literal life and death.

We lose a bit. We win a bit. Hopefully, we give back more than we take.

Every once in a while, things just go right. When they do, I believe we have the people who surround us to thank.

I’ve been riding a bit of a positivity wave lately, with more than the usual share of things going right for me (Maybe that means I’m due for a loss, but I’ll take that as it comes).

So I feel obligated to let out a big THANK YOU to the people in my life who have helped me. Not in a laundry list type of way – more of a “you know who you are” kind of thing. But if you’re reading this, and you and I have crossed paths in the last few weeks, please know that you have contributed to my personal and professional happiness in ways that I am forever grateful. Never hesitate to knock on my door – because I’d love to return the favor.

New Beginnings


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The start of a new school year has had our house buzzing, stocking up on classroom supplies and snacks. As I desperately cling to summer, the rhythm of our weekly routine has changed. Time is moving us – like it or not – into the next season. I choose to embrace it.

With that progression comes a new perspective on everything around us. And so I thought it was as good an excuse as as any for restarting this blog. I’ve missed writing for myself the way I used to here. Spilling my daily thoughts onto the page is cathartic and therapeutic – and can deliver some unexpected goodness along the way.

I’ve logged a lot of miles (literally and figuratively) since my last blog post, which, even though a click away is some two years (or more?) in the rear view mirror. In that time, I’ve made new friends and had new experiences. I’m sure you have too. So why not tell some of those stories and embrace the new ones on the horizon?

Sine nothing good in life happens by itself, I’ll need your help. As I begin to share the fun and important things in my life again – family, friends, work experiences and extra curricular activities – I want to also hear from you about what’s happening in your world. A shared experience is always the best experience, I say.

So let’s start this new journey together.

Here we go.

The Price of Social Media Incivility


Internet Incivility
The cruelty of the Internet can be shocking.

We are reminded of this every time we read about a teenager who slips through the cracks of society, bullied into a psychological corner by anonymous and hurtful comments on social media. In the worst cases, we discover their torment too late to help.

So I was pleasantly surprised to see Jimmy Kimmel’s skit from the Oscar Red Carpet on Sunday – well before the celebrity selfie and the John Travolta mouth mush meltdown during the broadcast – where he climbed through the TV screen and into a fictitious couple’s living room, comically scolding them for their nasty celebrity-targeted tweets and warning them to be on their best behavior during the telecast. What a great moment, I thought, for someone like Jimmy to champion social media civility in front of a TV audience of millions, worldwide.

The feeling didn’t last long.

The very next day, a post popped up in one of my social media feeds about “The Most Beautiful People at the Oscars with the Ugliest Spouses.” The barbaric writeup (no, I’m not going to link to it; I’m not giving them any more clicks) scolded the chosen celebs on the list for marrying spouses deemed far beneath their own physical beauty, and chided them for not doing better, questioning both their judgement and their eyesight. It was a cheap stunt meant to generate web traffic from gawkers who like to spend their days scrolling through celebrity pictures and from internet trolls who are all too eager to lend to the acerbic stream of comments from the anonymous safety of their computer screens.

Worse, it occurred to me, is that some of the victims targeted for these caustic comments in the article aren’t celebrities themselves: they are regular people with regular jobs, regular co-workers and bosses, who buy their own regular groceries and drive themselves to work in regular cars through regular traffic. And while they probably are used to the nastier side of their better half’s business, I am also betting they didn’t sign up to be targeted in such a personal and mean-spirited way. It must have hurt them greatly, even if just for a moment. And it must have made their Monday unnecessarily sad.

Back in December, I wrote about my “Three Words for 2014” and chose “Community & Kindness” as my first and most important for the next 12 months (alright, they’re two words, but I copped to that in the post).

As PR people, we coach people on how to make positive statements and to approach things from a “half full” perspective. We urge clients to seek deserved publicity for when they do good, and apologize for failure when they do bad. We guide them on decisions, and try to help them forecast the consequences of bad ideas before they become bad actions. As private people, shouldn’t we all walk that same walk? Shouldn’t we all be the Jimmy Kimmels of our social (and social media) circles, and refuse to fan the flames of self-righteous and nasty words and actions? Shouldn’t we even chime in to take people down a peg when they are unfair? Wouldn’t that create a better and more productive community for all of us? Most importantly, wouldn’t that set a great example for our kids, and for young people who see and read what we post? If they are to imitate our behavior, isn’t that what we want them to learn and repeat?

For my part, I’m going to spend some time scrolling through my feeds and delete any comments that fit this definition. I will suspend that rule about “owning everything you put on the internet” in favor of the “Community & Kindness” that I think 2014 needs so desperately.

Stop, Look, Listen and Enjoy


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It’s been quite a work week for me.

I had the privilege of organizing two very important media events that I know you have heard, seen and read about by today. My team did an amazing job with each assignment and I am very proud of the work we produced. The reporters, producers, photographers and cameramen we worked with gave (for the most part) wonderful and smart coverage. They are the best in the business and were an absolute pleasure every step of the way. (Hey, this is New York City; you don’t get here with second rate skills).

So as I stare out the window of my morning train to work, I reflect on the amazing experiences that I – and indeed, that all of us – have, not just today but every day. And I think about how so much of it can just pass us by if we don’t stop, stand back, look at it and take it all in.

So for this Friday ShareDay, rather than give you someone else’s content, I share with you my own thoughts:

“We each have an amazing story to tell, people with whom to share the journey, and much to contribute before we get to the end of our run on this planet. Don’t waste a minute.”

Happy Weekend!

Thank You


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It’s the little things that point out a person’s true character.

As the father to two little people, I am constantly trying to teach – in the simplest of ways – life’s basic rules: Be nice. No hitting. Hold my hand, we’re in a parking lot. Say please and thank you.

It amazes me how some adults forget that last one. Some people always say it. Those are the people you’d do anything for.

The ones who forget it make me want to forget them.

May the Fourth Be With You!


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Here’s a rare .. even unprecedented.. Saturday post, for a special reason:

Happy Star Wars Day!

This day (for those unfamiliar) honors a set of stories that – I have to confess – created my love for space, movies and great storytelling. Thank you George Lucas!

Today, fellow geeks, is our day to let our Corellian, Jedi or Sith hang out!

So whether you’re a Padawan or a Master.. a smuggler or a bounty hunter..

Make it a great day!

May the Fourth Be With You!

And you think YOU have problems?


What's Important Now

Sometimes we lose track of what’s really important.

As part of my job, I often have to interview people – total strangers, really – to create pitches to send to reporters to get them to write stories about my clients. We call it “hanging a pitch,” because the publicity for the client will be “hanged” around that one person’s story.

Last week, I had the great honor of speaking with a retired Air Force Chief Master Sergeant. As a grade A9, he tells me he was among the top 1% of his peers, and commanded a squad of 900 in Iraq. Married with three children, there was no limit to his future.

In 2007, he was run over by a fertilizer truck in a freak accident. He suffered partial loss of his sight and hearing, severe injuries to his legs and brain, and has since been diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injury. He says he has lost his ability to do math, among other cognitive functions. He was relieved of his command, he says, on Christmas Eve 2007.

He says he reached a low point – after drinking and depression had set in – where he was set to commit suicide. Looking around the room for a weapon, he instead came upon a white, three-ring binder his wife had created, filled with mementos of countries they had visited while serving their country (she is also in the Air Force). Memories flooded back, and instead of killing himself, he told his wife he needed help.

There’s a happy ending to this story, the rest of which, hopefully, you will read in the newspaper or see on TV very soon.

But it’s stories like these which should be a reality check for all of us. We all wrestle with our personal struggles, whether with work, family, health, or loss. They all hit us in personal ways, and can take its toll in ways just as unique.

But you think YOU have problems? Try walking a mile in this guy’s shoes.

Friends


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This is a simple post.

Friends. They are invaluable. They are irreplaceable. They are gold.

Cultivate good friends who will help you when you ask.

Keep good friends whom you will help when they ask.

The world works because there are people who will help other people. Even when they disagree.

Because brotherhood is more powerful than being right.

Authenticity


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The most valuable thing we own is ourselves.

We are each a unique collection of talents, experiences and insights. We are each a commodity, with intrinsic value, able to be leveraged for the benefit of ourselves and our communities. Overlooking our own value – or shortchanging who we are and what we bring to the table – is an offense against self.

There are days when we have to phone it in. When we punch the clock and grind it out. It happens.

But the best days we have are when we find a way to allow the “me” to boil to the surface and filter out into the world for the betterment of others. It doesn’t just happen. It takes conscious effort. Work.

When we fail to extract that value from inside ourselves, and spread it around in a helpful and constructive way, we let ourselves down.

Don’t be that guy.

How will you value yourself today?

You’re Such A Baby!


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My son frequently melts down over the littlest things. Crying, sobbing, wailing and stomping his feet in a performance that is often Oscar-worthy.

Most of these events would be hysterical funny if he weren’t my own offspring, for whom my heart beats on a daily basis. This morning’s episode was because “You put the waffle in the toaster and I wanted to do it.” These are major issues. The kind that Kissinger used to negotiate.

(Footnote: Teens that want to have unprotected sex should be invited into the household of a toddler for a day. It would be a wildly successful, scared-straight program.)

His disappointment expanded when I then informed him that, because of his 15 minute crying-howling-jumping-up-and-down-waffle fit, we were now behind schedule and I would be unable to drive him to school, and that mommy would be doing the chauffeur duty today. Parents reading this know how THAT turned out.

After calming him down, I held his hands, looked into his teary eyes and drew upon my infinite fatherly wisdom, delivering the following line in my most reassuring tone: “Next time remember, ‘I’m not gonna cry, because its just going to mess me up.'”

We repeated it to each other like some kind of toddler 12-step program, until I was relatively sure it had sunk in. I know he’s already forgotten it by now.

Now having a moment to think back on it, I wonder if we’re so far removed from toddlers ourselves.

When we run into obstacles, how do we deal with them? Do we yell and scream, freak out, or pitch the adult equivalent of a screaming, kicking and crying fit? Do we allow our responses – emotional or otherwise – to put ourselves behind schedule, or off the track to our own success?

How do we cope with setbacks or unforseen events? What happens when we get thrown off our game? It makes me also think of this previous post, in which I propose that kids actually have the answer to all our questions.

What do you think?