Specializing in social marketing and business communications training

5 Signs You Know You’re Prepared to Work in PR

IMAG0387Whether you’re gearing up for your coveted “first job in the real world” or you’ve been working in PR for a bit, we know preparation is the key to success. Well, preparation mixed with perseverance, persistence and patience. Caffeine’s good, too.

Adjectives aside, here are five ways to know you’re not only ready to work in public relations, but you’re willing to step up and blow the doors off the hinges.

1. I will always bring (tons of) value. Adding value to client relationships is obsolete. You must consistently add IMMENSE value to clients. This requires that you study, distill, learn, and have a deep understanding of your client’s niche, industry and team. When you know their business inside and out, you can head off problems in advance of disaster. Anticipate their challenges and offer creative solutions BEFORE problems arise. Don’t have panicky clients coming to you about a problem they heard in a webcast. Today’s business climate demands that you share solid and quantifiable information long before the buzz begins. Hint: This strategy goes well beyond reading trade pubs and dropping in on a LinkedIn group every few weeks. You must commit to lifelong learning, and professional and personal development.

2. I will show up big. The most successful people in business are those who focus on what they can give to others, and not what they can get, get, get. High achievers are comfortable in deflecting attention away from themselves. They have absolute faith that by helping others, abundance will find its way into their lives. Individuals with this mindset aren’t in a hurry to get the deal. Instead, their priority is to build relationships and trust. People who show up big, regardless of the scope of the task or the stature of the other person, are also flexible. They are agile workers who can course correct in the midst of a project. As a result of these attributes, they are the “go-to person” who is irreplaceable. Marketing pro Seth Godin’s book, Linchpin, talks about how to make yourself indispensable. Hint: Mediocrity is not for you. Become a person of excellence.

3. I will focus intently. Your ability to pay attention will completely change every all of your professional and personal relationships. You must be willing to fight mental distractions and enter into the deep, “in the moment sphere” of listening. This is a rare attribute in today’s world, but it is so desperately needed. Consider the practice of “silent listening.” It requires us to mentally quiet the unrelenting soundtrack that plays in our heads 24/7. Silent listening demands that we give our undivided attention, free of distractions, judgments and response planning. It calls for us to be fully present. Hint: Be patient as focus requires awareness and discipline. Meditation and yoga can help.

4. I will have a curious mind. One of my favorite quotes is from TV journalist Diane Sawyer: “Wake up curious.” Get out of bed each morning with a newfound sense of excitement of what the day will bring. This childlike trait will serve you well. People and stories are not what they appear to be. Your willingness to ask good questions and truly listen to uncover what lies beneath will bring fresh perspectives and enthusiasm for your work and life. Hint: Become an emotional archaeologist. Take your shovel to every client meeting and interaction, and dig away.

5. I will commit to communicating in new ways. These days, PR pros are communicating like project managers. You must be prepared to track the minutiae in assignments. Constant communication with team members has to be tempered with independent thinking skills. Whether you’re a newcomer to public relations or a more experienced PR professional, you must know how to use online spreadsheets, dashboards, graphics and images to track progress, next steps and metrics. Data visualization is essential. Executives don’t have time to distill reams of reports and analytics. That’s what you’re here for. Respect your manager’s time and provide easy-to-view pie charts and graphs that highlight only the most relevant business-related outcomes. They will appreciate your efforts. Hint: Communicators must be adept at this thing called communication.

Speaking of success, I invite you to visit CareerTapped.com. The site provides free educational business content to help college students develop workplace skills and connect with employers before graduation. The result is quality mentoring, internships and jobs. CareerTapped.com offers new ways for high achievers to keep up with PR, communication, marketing and business information.

The Evolving Definition of Success

Measure_success_meaningIt’s a loaded question that we often hear from Oprah: What’s the definition of success?

Strayer University has launched a formal effort to convince publisher Merriam-Webster to update its dictionary definition of success. But it’s not quite as it appears. After reading posts on Vice and Business Insider, there may be more sizzle than steak to some of their reporting.

According to Merriam-Webster, success is a noun defined as “the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame.” This part of the definition has leaders and students at Strayer calling for the modification. However, both Vice and Business Insider didn’t mention Merriam-Webster’s second definition of success: “The correct or desired result of an attempt.” The latter, of course, has plenty of wiggle room in the word “correct.” What may be “correct” to you may not sit well with me.

I agree with Strayer University’s take that the first definition of success doesn’t truly reflect the way in which many people today think of ultimate achievement. And, of course, times have (significantly) changed since Merriam- Webster first published its definition. To me, the second definition is closer to my own belief, but it remains far off from many others’ musings.

Take It to the People

To gauge public sentiment, Strayer University commissioned a survey of 2000 people ages 18 and older. The research was conducted last year and revealed that 90 percent of respondents believe Merriam-Webster’s definition of success should be revised. Only one in five people connected monetary wealth with being successful.

Those polled say success is more about happiness than “money, power and fame.” In addition, the survey found:

  • Nearly 70 percent of people associate success with achieving personal goals.
  • More than 65 percent defined success as having good relationships with friends and family.
  • Some 60 percent said it’s about loving what you do for a living.


Welcome to a New Age

Does the definition of success change with the coming of age of different generations? Millennials have certainly had their collective asses reamed for being too narcissistic, disengaged in politics and lacking basic business and communication skills. These traits don’t exactly paint a picture of success. Still, despite all the criticism heaped on this demographic, millennials get high marks in corporate social responsibility and diversity. These characteristics are certainly aligned with Strayer University’s definition of success: “Happiness derived from good relationships and the attainment of personal goals.”

In a press release, Strayer University president Brian Jones said that Merriam-Webster’s official definition of success doesn’t reflect the reality of how Americans think about, discuss and ultimately pursue success. “If we take it literally, it would mean people who love their jobs, have happy families or help their communities aren’t successful. This is a dangerous notion as it can lead people to believe they are unsuccessful because they haven’t amassed a certain amount of wealth or fame,” said Jones. “Our belief is that there are many definitions of and paths to success and that all journeys to success are unique and should be celebrated. We believe the official definition of success should reflect that,” he said.

As publisher of CareerTapped.com, an educational business content community for college students and employers, I love the fact that one of our most popular features are the “Success Profiles.” We highlight students and sponsors who share not only their successes, but their failures and lessons learned. These candid admissions are critical motivators in professional and personal development.

Here’s a sampling of how college students in the CareerTapped community define success:

  • Samantha Pasciuto: “Success is the sense of pride one gets after hard work is completed.”
  • Kyle Beebe: “Success is achieving a long-term goal or aspiration leading to financial freedom, and business connections that last the entirety of one’s life.”
  • Makayla Smith: “Success is being able to set a goal and then achieving that goal. You aim to do the best that you can to get to where you want to be. “
  • Myles Biedermann: “Success is when you achieve your goals and daily aspirations to the fullest potential.”
  • Matthew Nesti: “Success is reached when you are satisfied with the work or job you have done and you feel a sense of pride.”
  • Lydia Snapper: “I’m an aspiring writer, so success is having someone I don’t know reach out to me and tell me that something I have written meant something to them or has inspired them.”
  • Nicholas Suriani: “Success is not a measure of wealth. It’s a measure of accomplishments. It is ambiguous, and allows for everyone to have their own interpretation of the word.”
  • Austin Ogiba: “Success is achieving a goal or task that makes oneself feel accomplished and happy.”


Here are several examples of how business professionals—most of whom work in communication, social media and education—define success. Notice their definitions aren’t exactly aligned with Merriam-Webster, either:

  • Attorney and blogger Sara Hawkins: “Many people define success by money. However, when I was very young, I learned that if you define success by the money you have or earn, you may never see yourself as successful. Success in an inside measurement. Yes, money is good, but it’s not the only metric.” @sarafhawkins
  • Small business consultant and entrepreneur Brian Moran: “Success has a thousand different definitions. It doesn’t matter how I define it; it matters that you have a definition for it.” @brianmoran
  • Ophthalmologist Dr. Robert Scharfman: “Success is doing what you like, doing it well and making a living doing it.”
  • Marketing and PR CEO Ashley Cisneros Meija: “Success is truly achieving balance professionally and personally.” @chatterbuzzz
  • Adjunct communications professor Kevin Freeman: “It’s about achieving and completing a targeted goal with results that the individual feels comfortable with at the end of the activity.”
  • PR entrepreneur and adjunct instructor Deirdre Breakenridge: “Making a difference in the lives of your family, friends and industry colleagues.” @dbreakenridge


Personally, I like actor Denzel Washington’s definition of success: “For me, success is inner peace. That’s a good day for me.”

It remains to be seen if Merriam-Webster will revise the definition of success. But Strayer University’s movement to draw attention to our changing social mores and values are important, as it goes well beyond a play on words.

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8.5 Creative Ways to Grab People’s Attention

New research finds that we have just under 9 seconds—8.5 to be precise—to get someone’s attention. Our attention spans have decreased from 12 seconds in 2000 to just 8.5 seconds this year. No surprise here, but the culprit is external communication.

Video, of course, is the hot commodity these days. And short videos are ideal. This graph reminds us about the importance of snippets:










Based on our limited ability to focus, here are 8.5 things communicators, PR pros and entrepreneurs can do to grab—and hopefully keep—someone’s attention. Whether you’re trying to reach a reporter, your target audience or a social media connection, short form content reigns supreme.

  1. Record a Twitter video. To truly connect with your followers on Twitter, put in some extra (video) effort and you’ll both be amazed. True to his style of recording quick videos on the fly, entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, aka @GaryVee, takes us along on a cab ride in New York and shows how easy it is to use Twitter video. A 10 second clip can truly differentiate you from others, and if you’re pitching tech reporters, this will be impressive.
  2. Nail your headlines and email subject lines. No one will read your content unless the headline or subject line is so brief yet compelling that they simply can’t resist. Choose each word carefully with a focus on a benefit for the reader. Put yourself on the receiving end and be relevant. BuzzSumo can help.
  3. Use Periscope in the morning. Interact with your morning news anchors with Periscope. The early morning news is a fabulous time to use this technology because most people are half asleep and the news anchors are more apt to interact with the few who are engaging and interested in their programs. You’ll feel like old friends in no time.
  4. Read a journalist’s last five posts. Before you pitch a new contact or reporter, read —don’t skim—their last five posts or articles. When crafting your pitch, mention specifics from their previous work. We all appreciate when our efforts are recognized by others. Let reporters know you’re paying attention.
  5. Keep an eye on trending topics and hashtags. These hints can help dictate your content. Run with it while your competition is distracted with other external noise and nonsense.
  6. Incorporate easy tools that help with micro content. Less is more in our attention-starved world. Use memes, Inline Tweet Sharer, Canva and Facebook videos to keep things brief and interesting.
  7. Consider Snapchat. According to Social Media Examiner, Snapchat is one of the fastest growing social networks, with more than 100 million daily active users. Some 70 percent of Snapchat’s U.S. users are between the ages of 18 and 34. With Snapchat, you can create a video narrative with filters, emojis, music and text that will pique the attention of your audience. You can promote a contest or offer a glimpse behind the scenes of an event or conference.
  8. Look at new ways to encourage engagement with millennials. Are you familiar with Comment Bubble? It’s a free tool that allows people to react to videos. You can specify the type of feedback you would like to receive—text, audio, video, or by clicking instant feedback buttons. Here’s an example from SocialMediaSlant.com:










8.5. Repurpose longer content into micro content on Pinterest. If you have a tip sheet-style press release or valuable piece of advice, create a visually appealing image with one or two quick tips. Post it to Pinterest, with a link to the longer content. Many businesses generate a significant amount of revenue from Pinterest. Don’t miss this easy opportunity.

The bottom line: Be brief.









9 Ways to Benefit from Social Media

IMG_20150502_141223074[1]Most of us who are entrenched in social media are driven by the goal of growing our credibility, visibility and revenues. Yes, we’ve met wonderful new people and friends along the way. Had a few yucks online and maybe a few drinks in person.

However, the goal is business development.

When you think back on what you’ve learned since embarking on this technological journey, it’s quite amazing. Sometimes, I have to just pinch myself. Would you agree?

Here are the 9 Cs of social media that have had a significant impact on my professional and personal development.

  1. Clarity. 140 characters. Six second videos. Infographics. Data visualization. Memes. All of these require clarity in our communication.
  2. Community and curation. Was there life before #hashtags, groups, chats and hangouts? Now, we enjoy sites, apps and platforms such as Kik, ooVoo, Flipboard, 99U, the Skimm, Vice and more. By nature, human beings long to be accepted and be part of a group. There are plenty to choose from in the world of social media.
  3. Compelling. The most successful people in social media are the individuals and brand managers who realize they have something valuable and compelling to share. Their willingness to pass along relevant and timely information that piques the interest of others is magical. It leads to a curiosity that motivates people to want to learn more about you and your business. When your messages and content resonate with others, they’ll be compelled to reach out to you.
  4. Cultivate. Have you learned the lesson of patience? Social media is a fine teacher of patience. It takes time to cultivate relationships, friendships and business. If you’re looking for instant gratification, you’re in the wrong place. We can all benefit from slowing down a bit.
  5. Competency. You’ll be able to grow your business, community and yourself when you stick with your core skills and expertise. Social media demands transparency. You can’t fake competency; long-term anyway. Social media affords all of us the opportunity to commit to a life of learning and the development of new competencies.
  6. Communication. The cornerstone of success is communication. Haven’t your communication skills significantly improved since you began this online journey? Aren’t you savvier about your Tweets, posts and messages than when you first published your profiles and set up your accounts? You’ve likely dabbled in video and are getting more acclimated to different forms of communication. Never say never.
  7. Crisp. Our world and attention move at such warp speeds that we have to use crisp words, language, metaphors and images to connect and influence people. Twitter and texting have taught me to be much more selective about every single word and sentence I use, sans abbreviations and emoji’s.
  8. Charisma. You won’t build business if you’re a social media wallflower. Our new form of networking, blogging and chatting requires personality and allure. Boring doesn’t build business. Introverts are learning how to navigate in this environment, and when they do, they are enjoying it on their own terms.
  9. Comment. Yes, people want to know your opinion! How cool is that? The prerequisite to a meaningful comment (not “great post!”) dictates that I take the time to read someone else’s prose, think about it, consider my own opinion and insights, and try and add to the dialogue. When we comment on posts, we improve our outreach, writing and critical thinking skills. Above all, we invite differing opinions and may just open ourselves to new perspectives and ideas.

What would you add to this list of social media benefits? What have you learned?


Why We Need Chief Digital Officers

2 reframe picturesWhat do Gannett, New York City and Columbia University have in common?

Each were early adopters when they created the role of Chief Digital Officer. The CDOs bring together strategic business practices, technology, skilled leadership and internal and external communications. Most Chief Digital Officers can be found inside of media companies, sitting just a seat or two away from the CEO.

A recent post on emarketer.com says CDOs are most common in these five sectors:

  • Advertising
  • Media
  • Publishing
  • Nonprofit
  • Retail

In 2010, there were lively conversations that CDOs were those who didn’t get the coveted title of President. Others maintained organizations that supported the CDO position were advocating for silos, the curse in marketing and communications.

Today, demand for CDOs is outpacing supply.

A report from The CDO Club released last month finds the estimated number of CDOs worldwide would double between 2014 and 2015, to 2,000. That’s an 800 percent growth from 2012, when there were some 200 CDOs.

The CDO Club, a community of executive digital leaders comprised of 1,000 members, has just named Starbucks CDO Adam Brotman as its 2015 U.S. Chief Digital Officer of the Year.

A complex blend of talent and leadership

Chief Digital Officers are not self-described social media gurus or community managers. CDOs have competencies in the convergence of technology, business, boards and organizational development.

“Business strategies now must be seamlessly interwoven with ever-expanding digital strategies that address not only the web but also mobile, social, local and whatever innovation there may be around the corner,” write Rhys Grossman and Jana Rich of Russell Reynolds Associates, a global executive search firm. In their article titled, The Rise of the Chief Digital Officer, Grossman and Rich state: “To help meet these challenges, companies are increasingly looking for a Chief Digital Officer who can oversee the full range of digital strategies and drive change across the organization.”

To lead a business through a technological transformation is no easy task. CDOs are innovators despite internal skeptics who whisper and rant about the pitfalls of social media.

According to emarketer.com, a 2015 study from Accenture asked executives worldwide about their progress in leveraging digital governance and decision-making. The results: Eighty percent of those surveyed say they had a CDO or comparable role to oversee the use of digital technologies.

CDOs must have the following five competencies: 

  1. They must be comfortable as a possible successor to the CEO. CDOs have to lead a global culture and drive an online presence. He or she must have experience in business operations, management and recruiting and retaining top talent. A CDO is a visionary, especially in our technology-based world.
  2. They must act as agents of changeand grasp the underlying psychology of consensus-building and conflict resolution.
  3. They must have Board experience and solid communication skills. This is imperative, as the CDO is the conduit between stakeholders and senior executive leadership.
  4. They must know how to set—and implement—sound business strategies. An assembled team of seasoned project managers to implement strategies must be a priority.
  5. They must possess deep knowledge of technology, e-commerce, consumer behavior, and social media. This is especially important for media organizations, as the industry’s entire business model continues to transform.

Where is this person?

You may be wondering: Does such a person exist? Where do organizations find one individual who encompasses this blend of intellect and talent?

And if you work in PR, marketing or communications, you may be curious if you have what it takes to be a Chief Digital Officer.

Grossman and Rich maintain that people considering CDO positions “may be reluctant to join established organizations, viewing them as old fashioned.” The co-authors note that many CDO candidates come from cutting-edge, entrepreneurial organizations.

Here’s another noteworthy point from Grossman and Rich. “Companies… have to move very quickly when they find and meet talent that has potential. The current state of supply and demand almost guarantees that other opportunities will be available to talented candidates.”

The bottom line about the evolving role of CDOs brings us to the real bottom line in business. Chief Digital Officers are leading new revenue streams through digital channels that can leave many people and employees feeling uneasy.

If the CDO is unable to succeed in brand management, e-commerce, transactions and customer engagement efforts, his or her organization can soon face financial disaster.



Fundamentals Lead to Success

With plenty of talk about the astonishing end to Super Bowl XLIX—and the Seattle Seahawks coaches—it’s important to remember another big sports story that made headlines recently.

Coach K book coverDuke University’s esteemed basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski (aka “Coach K”) celebrated his 1,000th career win when the Blue Devils beat St. John’s University at Madison Square Garden in New York.

The 67-year-old is the first NCAA Division I men’s coach to reach the milestone, another highlight of his 35 coaching seasons at Duke.

How has Coach K amassed such an outstanding record with the Blue Devils (927-249)?

Players from years ago still talk about the many leadership, discipline and sportsmanship lessons that they have learned from Krzyzewski.

In his best-selling book Beyond Basketball, Coach K winds his way through the alphabet and explains his key words for success.

You don’t have to be a basketball fan to appreciate the chapter on Fundamentals:

“I sometimes find myself trying to devise complicated schemes, trying to be more creative. Because I have been coaching for so many years, I sometimes forget that a team, even a veteran team, needs a solid foundation. Business mogul Steve Wynn is right, I need to remind myself that I can be the best in the business by merely doing the basics, better.”

He goes on to say:

“To help turn fundamentals into habits requires intensive, intelligent and repetitive action. If any one of these elements is missing, something will be missing from the foundation of your team. This is why, in every practice, even late in the season, I always have my team continue to work on fundamental drills. It is vital that the athletes actually drill these basics. I constantly remind myself of the most basic formula of teaching: you hear, you forget; you see, you remember; you do, you understand. And when you truly understand, that is when the basics become habitual.”

Which fundamentals have you moved away from? Which fundamentals have to be revisited?

Do you need to get back to basics? F is for fundamentals.

(Image via)

How Leaders Communicate Their Vision

YOU editedIf you’ve ever had your pupils dilated during an eye exam, you know the frustration of the distorted vision that lingers for hours.

People in all walks of life and occupations deal with blurred distorted vision every day.

  • There are eye doctors who have no vision. No, they don’t need drops to dilate their pupils. They are bright, educated professionals with tunnel vision and closed minds.
  •  There are graceful and poised dancers and actors who can make all the right moves on stage. Yet they can’t seem to get out of their own way.
  •  Ever spend leisure time with teachers who know everything?
  •  Have you talked to truck drivers who have no sense of direction in life?


Leaders must have clear vision, the right moves, the willingness to learn, and the discipline of direction to be successful.

The ‘Ralph Kramden’ big idea moment

There is actually nothing mystical about vision, states a post on Bates-Communications.com, an executive leadership consulting firm.

“A vision is a picture of what an organization could and should be. A hallmark of great leaders is that their vision includes big ideas. Big ideas get people excited. Nobody wants to do something small. Leaders want to feel motivated about coming to work, because what they do matters. Some examples of big ideas that most of us are familiar with are Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech and President John F. Kennedy’s vision for the space program, ‘We choose to go to the moon . . . not because it is easy, but because it is hard.’”

The post goes on to say that great business leaders also know how to paint a vivid picture of the future. They make it look easy. However, most of them have worked hard to develop and articulate their powerful thoughts.

Steeped in value and structure

Matthew Richter is a global management performance consultant who says leadership requires a vision that isn’t just a picture in someone’s head. It has to be a complete understanding for the big picture of where the leader wants to be.

“Leadership guru Stan Slap says that the vision should be a better place than where we are today. It should be a clearly communicable picture of the future, steeped in value, and philosophy, as well as structure,” writes Richter. “A clear vision provides direction and establishes purpose. For example, a training department may have a clear vision for curriculum development. They know what it will look like three years from now. When a problem arises, their vision facilitates them toward a solution. When their vision is challenged by outside forces, they have the structural strength to defend it.” Richter points out that not everyone has to agree on the vision, as it belongs to the leader.

The followers work with the leader to find the best way to get to it, he says.

“Great visionary thinking utilizes a symbiotic relationship between the leader and the follower, fostering collaboration, innovation, and camaraderie,” notes Richter.

Speaking of vision

Leaders also know when to speak about their companies and articulate their visions.

Stanislav Shekshnia is anaffiliate professor of entrepreneurship and family enterprise at INSEAD. He has interviewed many Fortune 500 leaders, and concludes:

“Not only did we feel the sheer passion of these individuals, but saw that their personal ambition is merged into the goals of their organizations. They appeared to be on a self-defined mission, rather than on a job.”

What do you envision?  Is it clear?


Saving Face at the NFL: What’s the Cost?

Cluttered windowI’d like to thank the NFL for bringing the horrific issue of domestic violence to the forefront of our social conversations and values. Maybe lives will be saved.

I’d also like to vomit on the NFL for downplaying (actually ignoring) this horrific issue of domestic violence. Maybe the NFL’s face can be saved.

But at what expense? 

Thankfully, there is outrage from the public who has taken to social media and other communication channels to ensure their voices rise above Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson.

Meredith Vieira, thank you for having the courage to stand tall and proud against NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s deafening silence in the cases of Rice and Peterson.

I realize neither Rice nor Peterson have been convicted. Please don’t whine about ‘innocent until proven guilty’ because you can refer to Rice’s video and press conference with his wife, the woman he knocked unconscious in a casino elevator in New Jersey before they were married.

And Peterson, the towering, powerful NFL player who thinks it’s OK to hit his four-year-old and call it discipline.

Has anyone checked this person (I wouldn’t call him a man at this point) for a concussion?

Peterson, who is also accused of hitting another one of his young children, says this form of discipline is what he knows. After all, his father used physical beatings, and he (Adrian) is just fine.


Was Peterson’s father a professional football player with a similar physical prowess and power? No, he wasn’t. Clearly, Adrian Peterson is confusing the use of the word ‘discipline.’

For Peterson to make it to the NFL, didn’t he need discipline and mental fortitude to compete and succeed?  If he could apply his mental prowess to the game, why couldn’t he apply it to his child, and choose a different form of ‘discipline’ without beating the boy?

Did Adrian Peterson not realize that he is taller and bigger than his son, which makes him the grown-up?

And where has Commissioner Goodell been hiding these days?

Goodell is hiding from women who are using their voices to express outrage over his acceptance of this repugnant behavior.

In New Jersey and California, women who serve in state government are calling for the Commissioner’s resignation.

“When someone sucker punches an innocent woman or takes a switch to his son, something is terribly wrong,” all 10 Assembly Republican women from New Jersey said in a statement. “The league either delays disciplinary action or issues a slap on the wrist of the offender. The victims are vulnerable to the power of these men. Commissioner Goodell is unsuccessfully trying to appease the fans and advertisers that the league takes these actions seriously.”

And there it is.

Why is Goodell as quiet as a church mouse?

Because football is big business first and money is speaking louder than the victims of Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson.


20 Surprising Ways to Recharge Your Career

Power lines at beach editedSlowing down for the lazy, hazy days of summer?

While others are complaining that business is tapering off and everyone is on vacation, use this time to recharge your battery and kick-start your success.

Here are 20 things you can do to prepare for a triumphant rest of the year. These small tasks can make your life less stressful and easier to manage day-to-day. You may even develop a new habit.

1. Clean up your database.

2. Sort through your Favorites and Bookmarks. Categorize them and delete the ones that are no longer relevant.

3. Go paperless when possible. Shred or toss old papers you don’t need.

4. Read the magazines you’ve been saving for the past three months.

5. Get rid of the magazines you’ve been saving for the past three months.

6. Contact someone you admire and invite them to coffee or lunch.

7. Volunteer with a local nonprofit that can benefit from your business expertise.

8. Update your social media profiles and headshot.

9. Register for a webinar or course you’ve been meaning to sign up for but haven’t had the time.

10. Read the biography of leaders such as Gandhi, Ronald Reagan, or Florence Nightingale.

11. Schedule time to think.

12. Identify a few online chats that can help you grow professionally or personally. Mark your calendar and start participating.

13. Pay attention to self-talk soundtrack that plays in your head. Replace the negative with positive, more compassionate language.

14. Back up your blog, website and computer—every day!

15. Write a thank-you note to a former boss or mentor, expressing gratitude for what they have taught you.

16. Unsubscribe from all the e-mails, newsletters, and other junk you receive but never read.

17. Research awards or contests in your industry that you may be eligible for and note the deadlines in your calendar.

18. Write down five things you are afraid of doing. Do one of them. Repeat.

19. Subscribe to the blogs of five leaders in your field—or your competition.

20. Make a list of 10 reasons you went into your profession and why you are still passionate about it.

Come September, you’ll be glad you worked on this checklist. Surf’s up!

The Easy-Breezy Struggles of a Former 22-Year-Old

WTC PATH Banner NYC 2013(Editor’s Note: Dan Roth of LinkedIn recently asked me to contribute to his #IfIWere22 series. Influencers share their own career journey with new college graduates. The following is my reflection of what I learned at 22).

I’m 51 years-old, and damn it if 22 doesn’t feel like yesterday.

And some days, 22 feels like a lifetime ago.

In 1985, I had just graduated from Quinnipiac College (now Quinnipiac University), in Hamden, CT. Armed with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Mass Communication, I was hell-bent on launching my radio news career. I had great contacts and mentors, and a bit of professional on-air experience. The harsh reality was that broadcasting was an extremely difficult field to break into, and to stay in.

Having lived away at school for four years, you can understand my reluctance to return to my parent’s house in Edison, New Jersey. But reality beckoned me back to my old bedroom, a rent-controlled unit (free) which included food, laundry facilities, and general run of the house. My responsibility was to make monthly payments on my 1981 Chevy Camaro and two student loans. One of the few rules was to come home at night.

Central New Jersey was a great place to grow up because it’s sandwiched between New York and Philadelphia. The challenge for an aspiring broadcaster is that it’s one of the most competitive media markets in the country.

At 22, I had landed part-time weekend gigs at two different radio stations.Out of a necessity for money and a job, I went to work at an international shipping company based at the World Trade Center in New York. To this day, I don’t remember applying for the job and I certainly had no interest in being there. In my spare time, I prayed for a full-time news position that paid poverty wages and required working nights and weekends.

When my friends were planning vacations to the Caribbean, I joked that I was going to the islands, too. Coney, Staten, and Long.

Every day for three months, I would put on my work clothes, drive to the train station in nearby Metuchen, and take a train and a subway into ‘the City.’ I wore my clunky Sony Walkman headphones; Scandal’s “The Warrior” was the big summer song.

I worked on the 11th floor of Tower 2. At lunchtime, I would venture outside and eat by the fountains, people-watching and enjoying the absolute beauty of the iconic buildings. I often wondered what I was doing there. It was so tempting to just take the escalator downstairs and ride the PATH train back to Jersey. Would anyone miss me?

On the weekends, I recorded my newscasts. I made cassette copies, which were needed to apply for on-air jobs. An air check often carried more clout than a résumé.

The odd thing about my schedule was that I didn’t realize I was working seven days a week.

One Friday, a co-worker in New York asked if I had plans for the weekend. She was dumbfounded when I told her I worked in radio, and she was even more shocked that I worked every day of the week.

It didn’t seem to faze me. It’s what I had to do to succeed in my field. And get out of my weekday job. It took exactly three months.

After 10 years of working in radio news, I went on to serve as Deputy Director of NJ Governor Christie Whitman’s Office of Radio and Television, started a software marketing company with a former colleague, and worked as PR director for a statewide nonprofit. In 2000, I launched my PR, news and social media training company. In between, I got married, had two children and moved to San Antonio, TX.

#IfIWere22, I wish I had known:

  1. To take some business classes, even after graduation.
  2. There is a huge difference between surrendering and giving up.
  3. How to love myself unconditionally, just as G-d has created me. I am enough.
  4. To take pictures at the World Trade Center to remind me how stunning and glorious those Towers once were.
  5. The importance of a quiet mind and a peaceful soul.
  6. How to better manage my finances.
  7. To take my typing class seriously.
  8. There are no accidents or coincidences. The world is unfolding exactly the way it should be.
  9. Hobbies unrelated to work are essential.
  10. Everything I swore I would never do…I did.
  11. There are no ordinary moments.

Am I where I thought I would be? Yes, because I have spent my career doing what I love: Working in news and communication.

Looking back, I had that “entrepreneurial spirit” but I don’t recall ever thinking I would own a business. Until 14 years ago. And I never imagined I would be in sales and would travel around the country speaking and training. Please refer to No. 10 above.

My advice to 22-year-olds:

  1. There are no shortcuts; put your head down and work.
  2. Be persistent, patient, and resilient.
  3. Believe in yourself and honor your values. You are so much better than you think you are.
  4. Develop a positive mindset and be a lifelong learner. Professional and personal development are integral to success.
  5. Work on your communication skills, as the experiences you have in every job and relationship will depend on your verbal and nonverbal communication.
  6. Help people solve their problems and the universe will bring you abundances beyond your wildest imagination.
  7. Avoid being a crap magnet.
  8. Ask good questions. When you ask quality questions, you get quality information.
  9. Schedule time to think.
  10. Keep promises, especially the ones you make to yourself.
  11. Express gratitude every day.

I hope the 22 nuggets above will help you along your journey.