What Do You Want to Do Today?

What Do You Want To Do Today

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Happy Friday ShareDay from Alaska!

So on my flight up here, I must have ripped through a dozen podcasts that I hadn’t had the chance to listen to yet. For those of you who don’t know me well, there’s no podcast I won’t at least try out. And it’s my favorite form of learning – probably because I am mentally lazy and never quite developed the attention span that books require.

On the Dave Ramsey Entreleadership podcast (find it on iTunes) writer Jim Collins is asked to list his most important traits he looks for when hiring people to join his team. In the course of the brilliant discussion, he comes out with this beauty:

“Ask yourself ‘What Do You Want to Do Today?'”

The power of this statement, to me, is hard to put into words. In mere syllables, it conveys what I believe strongly: that we are each 100% in charge of our own destiny. We have the power to make our world exactly what we want it to be and have no one to blame for our failures but us.

We may have obligations, but how many of those are self-imposed because of our own choices? (Example: I can’t quit the job I hate because my car payments are so high. Answer: Sell the car!)

Think that’s impossible? It’s the same mentality any great entrepreneur has ever had: I will do what I want to do and dictate terms to the world. They can, and so can we. Every day we wake up we have a chance to do something amazing. By contrast, we can just sit back and coast and accept what life decides for us.

I’m printing this statement out and hanging it in my office, in my car and everywhere else I spend time. I might even make buttons. Want one?

Happy Weekend!

Good News Friday ShareDay

Unemployed Stormtrooper

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So there’s word this morning that – gasp!people are finding jobs in the middle of this horrible recession, with the private sector mostly responsible for putting the gas in the economic engine of our country. Not to make light of the people who are still struggling, but we clearly are on the right track and don’t need Washington to solve our problems.

As I am greeted with this news, I’m listening to my daily installment of the Dave Ramsey Show podcast. If you’ve not heard it, Dave is a talk-radio guy whose show is about getting out of debt through a deliberate budgeting and planning strategy. It’s quite simple, and it’s helped me and some of my friends a great deal. You may want to check it out; the podcasts are free on iTunes.

And his philosophy about “life and money” is easily translated into what we need to do as PR people to be successful:

1. Take stock of your assets – know what you’ve got to work with and what you need to acquire to do a better job of the task at hand;
2. Plan your path – sit down and write out a roadmap for accomplishing your goals. Present it to all parties involved and get them to agree on it. Then don’t deviate from that plan unless absolutely necessary and all parties agree in advance;
3. Execute, execute, execute – needs no explanation.

So for this Friday ShareDay, here’s a little taste of Dave Ramsey. Be warned, his logic is addictive!

Happy Weekend!

Crimes of Passion


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There’s nothing quite like Passion. It is a terrific motivator, can inspire legions of teammates and followers and make getting across the finish line look like a triumphant stampede of cattle.

It can also scare the be-Jeezus out of people and drive them screaming from the room, especially if they haven’t yet drunk (or acquired the taste) for the Kool-Aid.

The PR business is no different. Typically a client brings their passion for their business or project to us, asking for a plan. We, in turn, fashion a strategy and ask for the client’s passion to buy into and execute it so we can achieve their stated goals. (See also, “Enthusiasm.” I LOVE this clip from “The Untouchables.” Warning, graphic ending.)

So without picking up our own baseball bat, how do we get clients – especially those who don’t get our passion – into the starting gate, down the track and across the finish line?

1. Passion is cyclical. Just like a personal relationship, it’s the give and take dynamic that allows the passion to work its magic. If one person is screaming ahead at a million miles an hour and the other person is sitting there scratching their head (or something else), the project will have the lifespan of a fruitfly. Understanding the interplay and the personalities at work is the key to your success.

2. Temper Your Enthusiasm. You have to walk these roads together, and an exuberant partner may be intimidating and confusing to the other. Your unbridled passion towards a project or goal can ultimately be harmful to an otherwise successful idea. So go slow and explain what’s on your mind, and ask for feedback every step of the way. Dave Ramsey calls this “Understanding the Why,” and he’s totally right.

3. Clear Communication. You can’t possibly hope to get across the finish line without a clear strategy and regular updates to what’s on the other person’s mind. Ever not talk to a client for an extended period, only to get that “what have you done for me lately” call? Yes you have. That’s what I’m talking about. Keep the conversation current to avoid silly problems that derail the project.

4. A Kill Switch. I love those scenes in movies and sitcoms about a couple going to a dinner party and having a “safety word” that tells the other it’s time to go home. It’s always a fun word like “rhubarb” or “impresario” or “hee-bee-jee-bees.” You need to let your clients know that there’s a kill switch for this project too: something they can say that immediately pushes pause so you can have that “remind me what we’re doing again” conversation. Then go back to steps 2 and 3, above.

I’d love to hear how you channel your passion.

Newt Gingrich’s Tiffany Problem

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Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich has a problem.

It’s not that he bought expensive jewelry for his wife. Or that he did it on a revolving line of credit at Tiffany & Co., the diamond and bauble mecca of the Western World, which he paid off with zero interest.

It’s that this tale of a man buying a gift for his wife is being blown up and defined – and Gingrich is now letting it be defined – by those interested in perpetuating exaggerated political reporting: the political pundits and reporters (with a healthy dose of fringe bloggers and bigmouths) who are simply seeking out the appropriate quotes and soundbytes that prove their point, while Gingrich’s tempered comments take a back seat.

Disclaimer: this is NOT an endorsement of Gingrich for any office. This is about the PR spectacle he now finds himself caught up in and how it’s affecting his campaign.

Now, I’ve never bought $500,000 worth of anything (even though my wife has received plenty of “blue box” presents herself). And Gingrich is allowed to buy whatever he wants, however he wants. The fact that he took advantage of a zero-percent-interest line of credit and paid it off in full is no different than you or me walking into Best Buy and financing a TV. I don’t advocate buying on credit, but if you want to, it’s your business.

So what does Gingrich needs to do? How about cop to it and go with the joke?

For example: Gingrich could on late night talk shows (there’s one where he’s certain not to get any “cheated on my wife” jokes there) and confess: “You bet I bought a $200,000 diamond necklace! Now I have to write another book! I think this one will be co-authored with Dave Ramsey.” (For those who are unfamiliar, Mr. Ramsey is a brilliant radio and TV talk show host who counsels people on saving money, and abhors credit; the juxtaposition would resonate with middle income voters, who make up the bulk of Ramsey’s listening audience).

Making this one go away won’t be won by the typical Gingrich tenacity. And rhetorically musing whether any other politician has ever done something similar won’t work either.

And it’s a storyline with a definite end. But rebelling against the quickly solidifying opinion that his actions were out of touch with the common man won’t work.

When you get caught in a rip current at the beach, the only thing you can do is swim with it. Same rules apply here.