Category Archives: Inspiration

The Passion Principle

One of the many points that I mentioned during my CEO of You talk on Oct. 26 in Philadelphia was that you have to have passion to make your personal brand work. If you are nonchalant or ambivalent, it will show in your brand. You have the opportunity to be great, so why not jump at the chance to do so.

1420035_820830198011_132505009_nMy daughter celebrated her 7th birthday this week and we ordered cookies from a new cupcake shop in our area, Prohaska’s Oh, Sugar. We had never tried them out, but their Facebook page showed that the products looked pretty awesome. When I went to pick up the cookies for my daughter’s class party, Jeanette, the owner, was there. In talking to her, I immediately saw just how much she enjoyed what she was doing. The passion showed in her products and as well as in her demeanor. You could hear how passionate Jeanette was about making her business a success and, by the looks of the comments on her Facebook page, it’s working.

What this little trip to a cupcake shop continued to prove to me is that passion is the center of all success. Whether you have a business of one person or 100,000, if you don’t have the drive for what you do, you might as well not do it at all.

At some point in our lives, we lose a little bit of that passion. There’s nothing wrong with that, though. But, it’s up to you to find a way to get it back. During PRSSA’s National Conference, I mentioned a number of times how much being there really energized me. The energy of the speakers and students re-ignited my passion for public relations and being a better professional.

Ask yourself these two things if you feel like you are starting to lose your passion: What can I do to improve myself/my career? What is the one thing that I truly enjoy about my life? If you can find one answer for each question, your passion principle can be fulfilled. While you may have an “A-ha Moment” in your life, you essentially have to have the passion to move forward. Life without passion is not great. It’s flat. But, life with passion opens up a completely different way of looking at how you want to succeed.

To paraphrase Robert F. Kennedy, some people go through life and ask why? I chose to see things that never were and ask why not? Ask why not… because your passion will emerge and take you to great things.

What is your passion principle? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

Getting Canned or Why I’m Glad I Got Let Go From My Job

Two years ago on Sept. 4, I started the day by putting my daughter on the bus for kindergarten, not knowing that I would be embarking on my own new journey a few hours later. See, I was canned by my firm. While I wasn’t exactly thrilled with being let go from a job for the first time in my life, it was the best damn thing that ever happened to me.

(courtesy: John DeMarco

(courtesy: John DeMarco)

Looking back on that day, I should have seen it coming. I was going in one direction, the firm in another. Did I want to get let go? No way. But I’m glad I did. Does this mean you should look forward to getting fired? Absolutely not. But, for me, this was the realization that my dream of running my own business was about to come into focus. So, yes, I’m glad I got let go.

I’ve learned much in two years; things I would not have learned otherwise. What have I learned in a relatively short time span? Let me tell you:

  • There’s no overnight success- Unless you have a Rolodex full of big spenders, you are going to have to hustle, sweat, and pound the pavement. Matthew Cerrone of Metsblog is a perfect example of this. He started Metsblog and turned it into a incredible success story. But, it wasn’t something that he took for granted. And he still hustles like an all-star every single day.
  • Have a plan- This should be very obvious, because without a plan, you are a ship without a rudder. Every successful business, no matter how big or small, has a plan. The day I got let go, I sat down that night and put the small plan I already had and expanded it. Think about what you need and how you want to go about growing your business.
  • There will be failures- Why sugar coat it? The first few months of my business were a huge gut check. I needed to collect unemployment for the first time and the money wasn’t coming in. I learned more about myself and where I wanted to be during this time. You want to be a success? You need to understand failure.
  • Never stop learning- Every single day, I read or hear something new. In a recent post for PRSA’s new professionals, I was asked about ways to gain more experience. I wrote, “Gaining knowledge is up to you. Don’t rest on what is in front of you; look beyond the now, and see the future. YOUR future.” The only way you’ll continue to grow, is to always act like a student (as my friend Stephanie Florence likes to say.)
  • Go with confidence- There will be moments when you feel your lowest. Sure, being canned is a very tough pill to swallow. How can you overcome it? Believe in yourself, your skills, and your experience. This doesn’t mean be cocky. It means to take that first step towards future success, you need to believe that you can do it. This means no rope, no parachute. You rely on your skills and knowledge to make it work.

As I mentioned, being canned isn’t the most optimal way to start out. But, whether you step out into a new beginning on your own volition or not, believe the best is yet to come.

Be Inspired

“People who achieve great things that the world will never forget, start out by accomplishing small things that the world will never see.” -Tom Coughlin.

Last week, I blogged about how it is tough, at times, to spark your creative juices. We aren’t always creative and we need to be honest with ourselves about that, I wrote. However, just because you don’t feel incredibly creative does not mean that you can’t be inspired. There’s inspiration everywhere and the above quote from New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin is a perfect example of that.

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There are two people who really have a knack at being inspiring: Matt Cheuvront and Jessica Lawlor. I’ve been lucky to know both for some time now. Matt is the founder of Proof in Nashville, Tennessee. Not only is he an outstanding entrepreneur, Matt is also the genius behind Life Without Pants. His newsletter, “The Hustle” is the jolt you need to be inspired (it’s better than that first cup of coffee). His blog, though, is always a great way to set off that inner flame towards inspiring you to be better. Case in point, here’s an excerpt from a blog earlier this month, titled, ” Redefine Normal. Act Accordingly. Be Remarkable.

You’re hustling. You’re working hard. You’re trying new things and coming up with new ideas. You’re writing blogs, pouring your heart out for others to see. You’re starting amazing companies. You’re inventing new ideas and improving upon existing ones. You’re traveling the world and experiencing new things. You’re falling in love. You care. You do. You matter.

It was exactly what I needed that day to realize… I MATTER.

Jessica Lawlor is as wise as an Owl. She should be… she graduated from Temple University, like me. I’ve been lucky enough, though, to mentor Jessica from time to time. But, on many occasions, she’s actually mentored me. Her website, JessicaLawlor.com, always has something to make you stand up and say, “I can do this!”

She challenges her readers to “Get Gutsy” and it works because Jess inspired me to do the same. Her post “How Saying No Helped Me Open Up To a World of Yes,” was a game changer for many reasons. This quote encapsulated what I’ve felt, but could not put into action:

The moral of the story here is that sometimes you need to say no. You need to recognize when enough is enough. You need to recognize (and respect) your boundaries in order to reach your goals.

We sometimes find it tough to say no (me included), but to read what Jess did and how it opened up new ideas and new opportunities helped me do the same.

Now, while I recommend that you check out what Jessica and Matt are doing and writing on their blogs, there are many others out there that inspire. We all have ways to do it; in actions and in words. You can find inspiration right around the corner. But you have to open your mind to it.

When in Rome…

Colosseo

In late June, I spent eight days in Italy, specifically Rome and Tuscany. For years, I had admired both places from afar. As a history buff, I longed to visit Rome to see the Colosseum, The Vatican, The Sistine Chapel, and to get an idea of how the Roman Empire shaped our world. Exploring Tuscany, especially Montepulciano and Montalcino, was one of the most exhilarating experiences ever, from the rolling hills, the unbelievable wine, and delectable food. I never expected to return home and have this trip change my life.

My family’s history begins in Sicily, but being in Rome (or Roma) was a moving experience. Seeing St. Peter’s Basilica and the Holy City (regardless of religion) is something one can’t explain. There is absolutely nothing like it. Then, there’s the food. Oh, the food. The grilled calamari was incredible; the pasta was freshly made. You like coffee? You’ll love the espresso and cappuccino much better.

What I learned from those eight days is that my life is good, but it could be so much better and so much more fulfilling. What do I mean? I have four things that I’d like to share with you and help you have UN’ottima vita (Italian for “an excellent life”).

  • Technology is great, but… I didn’t experience one person in Rome walking through the streets with their head buried in an iPhone or BlackBerry. They were enjoying what was going on around them. I used my phone only to take photos while traveling around Rome and Tuscany. Lesson number one: Don’t live through your phone, live with your heart and soul.
  • Go off the path- When we arrived in Rome, we had no idea where the good places to eat were. My wife and I walked around and found a great little cappuccino and gelato bar, called Mondo Gelo Dolce. It was one of the most happening places in the Roman “suburb” of Lazio. When we were in downtown Rome, we ate in little restaurants, not in big places. We enjoyed our time more because we didn’t go with the norms.
  • Enjoy your life and work- One of the things that really struck me were the smiles on all the people we came across. The waiters enjoyed talking to you, the owners came out to chat. We had three tour guides and each LOVED what they did. It wasn’t faked. They displayed passion for their work and the life they were leading. If you don’t enjoy what you do, why are you doing it?
  • Embrace the Past, Grasp the Future- Rome has so much history. From Caesar to Nero, the streets are filled with something epic. It’s that history that helps to shape what we do today. By understanding the path our ancestors laid out for us, you will be able to take hold of the future… your future! 

One last point. As we were about to exit St. Peter’s Basilica, I snapped this photo:

Roma, St. Peter's Basilica

The sun coming through the basilica shone down on everyone. It got me thinking… if you aren’t taking time to open our eyes to the great things that are around you, what are you really doing then?

Monday Minute: Setbacks into Accomplishments

One of the worst feelings in the world is having a setback. It puts doubt into your mind and makes you feel miserable. My colleague -and fellow Temple alum- Jessica Lawlor has a great e-newsletter that you can subscribe to on her website.

In Monday’s newsletter, she discussed pushing through despite personal setbacks. She wrote:

I hope that no matter what you may be going through in your personal life…despite whatever challenges you’re facing or whatever hardships may be thrown your way, that you can find a little ray of sunshine somewhere in the mess. I hope that when you find that little spark of light, you’re able to hold onto it and know that better days are ahead.

Today’s Monday Minute is a way to show you how to turn clouds into rays of sunshine.

How do you move forward? Let me know in the comments.

Inspire Series: Being the Shaper of Change

Jas’ note: It’s a great honor to have my wife, Michelle Mollica, RN, MS, OCN, as my next guest in the Inspire Series. Michelle recently gave an address to nursing graduates of D’Youville College, which was called “inspirational” by a number of those in attendance. An edited version appears here.

Firstly, I want to say congratulations. You have made it. For some, this has been a long path. Many of you have come from different fields, changed educational paths along the way, or changed careers entirely. You have gone from a scared student, afraid to do a physical assessment on your own classmate, to a confident, mature, professional graduate nurse, ready to take on the world. You have made it through the long nights of studying for exams and skills testing, preparing for clinical rotations, and balancing your home and family lives. You have made sacrifices that have finally paid off. You are now graduate nurses from D’Youville College, and you should be extremely proud of yourselves.

As you go out into the world of nursing, remember that in all ways, you are now a representative of D’Youville College’s School of Nursing. In your clinical rotations, you have seen different types of nurses; there are some who made you question the reasons you went into nursing in the first place (we’ve all met them, and we know they are out there), and then there are the nurses who are extraordinary. They seem to light up a patient’s room with just a few words. They are a patient advocate in every sense of the word. These nurses go above and beyond the basic tasks every single day. You have the potential to do amazing things, and I have no doubt that you will.

I urge you to consider what you can do to improve the face of nursing in the future. You are entering this new phase of your lives at a time when the world of healthcare is changing…. changing in ways that will call upon each of you…each one of us…to think differently about nursing…how and what you can contribute, not only to caring about individual people, but what you can contribute to the good of your community.

You can become a shaper of change! You can be the one who changes the face of nursing! Embrace this incredible opportunity! And when opportunities knock, open the door, accept the challenge. You might surprise yourself!

I would like to share with you a few things that could be of use to you as you transition into your role as a nurse:

  • Understand and always remember why you went into nursing. When times get tough, and believe me, they can, this is your “go to pill.” It will help ground you.
  • You need to have passion. Do what you love to do……and take your heart to work. And on that note, when you lose your passion in whatever field of nursing you are in, consider a change. The amazing thing about nursing is that you can go anywhere and do anything as a nurse. This leads me to my next point…
  • Embrace opportunities and challenges. They will make you stronger and wiser. And they open doors. I promise you.
  • The next is one that I know you’ve heard, but it rings true especially in nursing: Always do the right thing, especially when no one is looking.
  • Set goals. Know where you’re going and what you want to do. Life is never a straight line and that’s okay. But always have a vision of what and who you want to be.
  • Always keep a sense of humor.
  • Never stop learning. I hope that we as your faculty have shown you that you will never know everything about everything. You will become experts in your field, but the education never stops. You should always strive to learn more and continue to grow.

Thank you so much for allowing me to take a small part in your celebration.

Michelle Mollica

Michelle Mollica, RN, MS, OCN is the coordinator of the RN to BSN Online Program at D’Youville College in Buffalo, N.Y. and an Assistant Professor in the college’s School of Nursing. She is also completing her PhD in Nursing at the Medical University of South Carolina.

Inspire Series: 4 Tips to Stay Motivated and Inspired

Jas’ note: I’m beyond thrilled to have Heather Whaling as the first poster in this Inspire Series. She’s one of the hardest working pros around and she has plenty to share, as you’ll see.

When I launched my own company in 2009, I had no way of predicting where the journey would lead, but I stayed focused on a core purpose: I was 100% committed to building a PR firm that people would want to work for and companies want to work with. Three-plus years later, we’re well on our way. I’m fortunate to work with an amazingly talented team and clients that I truly believe in.

So, how do I keep from slipping into neutral and just letting life progress as-is? If you’ve reached a point in your career where you feel like you’re doing what you set out to do, congratulations. But, don’t stop. Don’t get comfortable with status quo.

When Jason asked me to write about what motivates and inspires me, I spent some time reflecting. Here are my four tips for staying motivated:

Define your all. What matters most to you? There’s a lot of debate right now about “having it all,” but what does that actually mean? In PR – a professional where we often feel like we’re always on the clock – how do you blend personal and professional goals to create the life you want? At work or at home, you need to set your priorities. (If you don’t set them for yourself, someone else will.) If you take time to define your “all,” then you’re equipped to proactively make decisions that will move you toward those lofty aspirations. Living life on your terms is motivating.

Act like an owner. In her book [Re]Frame: Little Inspirations for a Larger Purpose, Sarah Evans encourages readers to act like an owner. As she notes, “We are more likely to take better care about something when we ‘own’ it. Even if it’s merely changing how we view what it means to us. If you want to be happier at work, change how you think about work.” Even if you’re not technically the company owner, shift your mindset. As Sarah says, “own your work, or go find something worth owning. There is no option C.” When you feel personally invested something, you’re naturally more motivated to make it succeed.

Embrace the crazy. This has become the de facto motto in our office, as well as my own life. A career in PR, while fulfilling, can lead to some unavoidable chaos. Plus, personally, I’m embarking on a new adventure, as a small business owner and a mom-to-be, both of which are demanding, unpredictable situations. Instead of stressing about it, I’ve decided to simply embrace the crazy. As I’ve learned, the less you dwell on the impending “crazy,” the more you can enjoy wherever the road leads you.

Find your energy. During the next couple weeks, pay extra attention to those moments when you feel incredibly energized. What happened? Did you land a major media placement for a client? Create a piece of content that resonated with online communities? Land a new client? Mentor someone? Volunteer in your community? Whatever it is – and whenever/wherever it occurs – take note. After a couple of weeks, you’ll spot emerging patterns. Then, you can start to purposefully recreate similar situations. As you infuse activities into your week to generate this positive burst of energy, you should become an even more motivated self-starter.

Your turn: How do you stay motivated and inspired so you can apply your best self to whatever you’re doing at home or at work?

Heather WhalingAbout Heather: As president of Geben Communication, Heather Whaling (aka @prTini) leads new business development, client relations and strategic planning for the firm. An avid Twitter user, Heather can trace 75% of Geben’s business back to relationships that began online. This ability to turn social networking into business outcomes has helped Geben evolve into a highly respected, sought-after, award-winning PR firm. Want to learn more? Connect with Heather: BlogTwitterInstagram

New blog feature- The Inspire Series

Earlier this year on the blog, I did a five-part series detailing how to help your career. It received some terrific feedback from many of you. Today, I’m beginning another series that I hope is a little longer than five parts.

Man_of_Steel_TIt’s called the Inspire Series and we’ll feature folks that make an impact. These people could be students, new and experienced PR/social media pros, or just regular people. My goal is to show the positive and inspiring things that are going on in our world.

We see plenty of negativity and biting commentary. Of course, things aren’t always rosy. But that doesn’t mean I can’t help give you more of a glass half-full approach. Who inspires you? Think they should be featured in the series? Drop me a line at Jason[at]JRMComms[dot]com or use the contact form.

The JourneyCast: Matthew Cerrone of MetsBlog.com

Today is a really exciting day for me as a blogger and a professional. I’m officially launching my podcast, “The JourneyCast.” I’ll be talking with those people in (and out of) our industry, who are making a difference, doing impactful work, or people you should know more about.

This week, I’m thrilled to talk with Matthew Cerrone, founder and editor of MetsBlog.com, the best blog about the New York Mets and one of the preeminent sports bloggers in the nation. I’ve known Matt for a number of years now and was even lucky enough to be a small part of Metsblog in 2006. Matt has worked extremely hard to get to where he is today and is a great example of what can happen if you have a passion to see something through. You can also check out Matt’s latest project at MatthewCerrone.com.

The JourneyCast: Guest- Matthew Cerrone

Don’t forget to leave your comments about the podcast below.

How Jackie Robinson Inspired Me

jackie-robinson-brooklyn-dodgersIt has been 66 years since the great Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball and made his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Although I never saw Jackie play, he impacted me from the time I was very young. My parents bought me a children’s story, called “The Value of Courage: The Story of Jackie Robinson.” I read it over and over again. A poster of Robinson adorned my room as a teen, as a reminder of this courage.

I never experienced an ounce of what Jackie went through, yet I have always been drawn to the way he carried himself during turbulent times. He never fought back and let his actions, on and off the field, do the talking. I think about Jackie a lot when times are tough and even when they are great. Here are a few ways that he has inspired me.

  • Tenacity- Despite great odds and constant scrutiny, Jackie never backed down. This is a great lesson, regardless of race, how we can stand up for what we believe. If you believe in your heart of hearts that you can do something, go with confidence and do it!
  • Work Ethic- Jackie never settled. He continued to improve his game and push himself to be the best he could be.
  • Pride- Jackie knew he couldn’t necessarily fight back against those who hurled racial slurs or threw an intentional fast ball at his head. He pressed forward and got stronger. The lesson here: No matter what the odds, YOU have the power to be in control.
  • Courage- Jackie could have given up at any time. He didn’t… despite what seemed like insurmountable odds. Think about your toughest time… how did you handle it? While starting your own business may not seem at the level of courage of what Jackie did, it still takes a ton to step out on your own.

Jackie Robinson was much more than a baseball player. He was a symbol of hope, dedication and pride. It’s something we can still embrace and learn from today.

(photo courtesy of MLB)