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Who is your PR Inspiration?

The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your bestEpictetus

We (hopefully) get inspired by many things in life. A big promotion, getting your degree, or even starting your own business. However, in many cases, it is the people in our lives who inspire us to be more and do more. Over the last few weeks, I’ve had an opportunity to think about those who have inspired me to be more as a public relations professional.

2013-06-27 17.20.57Folks like Larry Litwin, Deirdre Breakenridge, Shonali Burke, and, of course, my wife, have had an indelible impact into my PR career. Every day, I am inspired by something they have done. It is why I love what I do and why I enjoy working with future and current pros to make our industry great.

Now, I ask you. Who is your PR inspiration? Why do we need to let our networks know they are great? What have they done to inspire our industry?

Let me know on Twitter, Facebook and in the comments below. I’ll then shout them out on Twitter. Be inspired by what you have learned and pay it forward!


Develop Your Hustle

“Nobody’s hustle is like anyone else’s” – Robert Downey, Jr.

I’ve been very open about how much of a fan I am of Robert Downey, Jr. He can act, sing, and he’s pretty good with a crowd. He’s also someone I derive inspiration from.

A few months back, I watched Downey on “Off Camera with Sam Jones.” It was a great look at how the Academy Award Nominee prepares for a role and how he views his impact on the world. Downey said something during the show that really hit home for me.

I think the greatest gift anybody can give anyone is the opportunity to develop your hustle. Sam, you didn’t
wind up with these great pictures on the wall and documentaries in the can because it was all handed to you. You have to develop that, and nobody’s hustle is like anybody else’s you know?

Think about that for a moment. You can’t fit your career goals, ambitions, and dreams into someone else’s box. 20140731-075807-28687361.jpgSo, while you may look to people for inspiration, your trip in this life will not mirror what they have done. Nothing is ever handed to you.

In 2010, I landed hard after getting let go from my job. But, I didn’t expect any handouts and wanted to work for everything. That is absolutely what you need to do, as well. Focus on your hustle… Make your hustle like no one else’s.

Over the coming weeks, I am going to focus on people who have developed their hustle. These will be folks that haven’t been given a handout; they’ve put blood, sweat, and tears into their careers.

I’m excited to feature these hard-working and great folks.

Awakening in Life and Work

“I don’t need to fight, to prove I’m right. I don’t need to be forgiven.”– Baba O’Riley, The Who

Over the weekend, I turned 40. For some, it’s a reminder that we are getting older. For others, it’s the thought that the greatest years of your life are still ahead. Prior to my birthday, I had a few weeks where I felt really old. I was no longer a “young guy,” but an older man. However, the day my birthday hit, a real change came over me. This wasn’t some magic light or message from above, it was an awakening.

earth-horizon-m_1You may not realize it, but your awakening can happen at any time and any place. It can happen at age 21, 30, 40 or 50. It can take place in your car, with a friend or even in your office.

Say you get let go from your job, like I did in 2010. Is this your awakening? It very well may be. For me, it was the start of a dream. For you, getting let go may be the beginning of the rest of your life or it may be something that hurts you for a bit. There is not a super serum that changes you overnight (even though you may think you are Captain America). Your awakening may take some time to grow.

The same goes for your work. You may have been exposed to some great mentors and work in an environment that has allowed you to grow. Does this mean it is time for you make the leap into starting your own business? It could be. Is this, as Oprah calls it, an Aha! moment? Probably.

The moment your mind and body align, you are having an awakening. I have a good friend in PR that was putting together some social media marketing plans. He read a post about B2B marketing with Facebook at Social Media Examiner. It changed his perspective and was an awakening for him moving forward. He now understood what it took for him to really grasp the connection with social.

Remember… Your awakening may come at any time. You need to grasp it and understand the how it will shape you. Now, and for the future.

Let me know what your awakening in life and work has been in the comments.

Winning in sports… winning in business

I’m a huge sports fan and find tons of inspiration from coaches and players that show great leadership qualities. There’s Mark Messier, Herb Brooks, Derek Jeter… the list goes on. Tom Coughlin is another person that leads by example with words and actions. The two-time Super Bowl winning coach of the New York Football Giants released his new book on March 5, titled “Earn the Right to Win.”

As a person that subscribes to being a “student always” (thanks to Stephanie Florence for that), I began reading the book, which is like a manual of how to prepare for and achieve success, based on Coach Coughlin’s decades of coaching experience. The great thing is that it can be applied to your business as well.

As you all may know, I am a big Giants backer. However, when I’m looking to improve myself, team loyalty doesn’t matter. Coach Coughlin’s book can really teach you something about how to better yourself and be successful. It’s the first book that I highlighted sentences and points as I was reading (thanks Nook!).

Tom CoughlinHere are a few things I’ve taken from Coughlin.

Create a Structure- Without this, how will you ever begin to succeed? You need structure in your life and business. Any successful entity has set a foundation for future success. This starts with hiring the right people or working with the right clients that are interested in achieving the same goals. Speaking of goals…

Set a Goal or Goals- Coughlin says, “Achieving any goal begins with thorough preparation.” He’s spot on. When we are trying to win a client or project, we can not just give a half-hearted effort. If you are trying to set a goal of having three full-time clients by the end of 2013, then prepare to give it all you’ve got. Show a potential (or current client) you are willing to go above and beyond your retainer.

Go All In- Tom Coughlin learned a life lesson from his father after a loss in a high school football game. “If your going to do something, do it to the best of your ability- or don’t waste your time.” That is the same way we should be as we conduct ourselves as solo professionals or in an agency/firm setting. Give that client project all you’ve got. If you don’t get the client, at least you know that you did everything possible. If you don’t, you’ll always wish you could have done more.

Go with Confidence- This is something I subscribe to as a business owner. Coughlin’s point here is the more confidence you have in yourself and your preparation, the better you will perform. That, in turn, will help your confidence in your own ways and abilities. Don’t doubt, BELIEVE!

All four of these tips can go a very long way in helping you earn the right to win. I recommend Coach Coughlin’s book for new and current pros who want to be- or continue to be- a success. I read the book in one night and since it is on my Nook, I’ll be carrying it with me for inspiration and wisdom for years to come.

If you could speak at commencement…

“Members of the Class of 2012…” Those words are going to be uttered by college presidents and deans, and commencement speakers over the next few weeks. It has been 15 years since I graduated college. It’s a day I remember like it was yesterday, though. Bill Cosby’s wife, Camille, spoke at Temple University’s commencement ceremony at the Spectrum in Philadelphia that day. It was inspiring. Mr. Cosby even got up to say a few things.

After seeing blog posts and tweets about student friends that were graduating, I began to think. So I posted this on Facebook on Thursday.

I didn’t initially plan to make a blog post out of these, but the responses were wonderful. So, I share with you what friends in the social space would tell a graduating class.

@MattLaCasse– Your profession is likely practiced in every state in America, and most everywhere else in the world. Your happiness will be more dictated by where you are than what your job is. Do your job someplace that makes you happy.

@JBMHR (Jeannine Brown Miller)- ‎”Listen” to the direction that you are intended to be going..if you keep running into obstacles..stop and reassess where you are, what you are doing and determine change necessary to remove some of them. If we keep doing the same thing that isn’t working, we will get the same results (the old insanity thing). Embrace change, recognize that challenges bring lessons and blessings, and be open enough to be able to find the good in all that comes your way!

@JoshfromMaine (Josh Morris)- You don’t choose a life, you live one. There are no such thing as limitations, only fears. Pursue a position based on people, profession and location, and paychecks will come. Don’t get cable.

@BigGreenPen (Paula Kiger)- Don’t fool yourself into thinking you have all the time in the world/don’t think you are above doing the unnoticed little work to get familiar with an environment you want to be a part of.

Temple University commencement

courtesy: Temple U. Col. of Liberal Arts

@PaigeHolden– Stay in your own lane. You only start to doubt yourself when you worry about what everyone else is doing. True success has nothing to do with conventional measurements like position, wealth or winning thing. It has to do with finding a balance that works for you, and only you.

(I liked the honesty with Rachel Donner’s answer) @RMiriam– The next 6-8 years are pretty much going to suck. You’ll be at a frustrating entry-level job with lots of work and no authority. You’ll likely drift away from most of your college friends, and have to establish new relationships. Don’t let it get you down and doubt yourself. You’ll get through it and be better off for it, knowing much more clearly who you are, where you want to be and the path ahead.

And finally… @Buffalogal (Nicole Schuman)- You cannot plan every aspect of your life. Embrace change!

What would I tell a graduating class? “People are going to tell you that you can’t. You can. People are going to doubt you. Don’t doubt yourself. Most of all, you will be faced with adversity. Don’t turn away from it. Take it head on and conquer it. The only way you’ll grow is if you face failure, doubt, and negativity. Why? Because all those things will make you stronger. It’s up to you to use the failure, doubt, and negativity, and make it positive. Go with confidence.”

I’d love to hear what you would tell a graduating class. Leave your thoughts in the comments.

My inspiration is YOU!

It’s been over a week since I let go from my job. While it’s not a time where I’ve kicked my heels and celebrated, I have relished the new opportunities that are out there.

While getting ready to work from home yesterday, I saw this Tweet from friend Stephanie Florence (@StephanieFlo):

I didn’t know anything about the post or what it contained. When I clicked to read it, shocked would not even come close to describe my feelings. Sixteen people typed their support, encouragement, and compliments about me. Now, I’ve never been great about receiving praise. I’d rather dole out kudos to others.

The words from Stephanie, Britten Wolf, Jackie LampugnanoJessica MalnikKimberly LucioLauren FernandezLauren GrayLauren NovoMatt CheuvrontMatt LaCassePaula KrigerRachel Esterline, Samantha Ogborn, Valerie Simon, Stephanie Majercik, and Scott Hale were enough to move me to tears. Yup, that’s right… I cried. 

Nowadays, we don’t always meet our friends in person. We meet them through this wonderful social media community. Want to know why I’m so passionate about what social media can do? Because it is inspiring. Those sixteen people listed above inspire me and there are thousands of others that I follow that also drive me to be better and pay it forward much more than I do.

Time and time again, I’ve blogged how the combination of public relations and social media marketing is very powerful. It can change perceptions of brands and help get the word out on blogs, among other great things.

But, we must continue to realize that social media is not to be taken lightly. It’s a tool that can crush people, if not used correctly. In talking to students and current pros, it can’t be stated enough, if you are honest, open and transparent, you will succeed at social media.

And remember this: Don’t focus on networking for just a job… focus on networking for life. Keep in contact with friends, colleagues, former co-workers, people you have met a conferences. They will be your champions when you need them most.

Courtesy: Marvel Studios

I’ll be honest with you… I use to view myself as weak. There was a great line from this summer’s “Captain America: The First Avenger.” Dr. Abraham Erskine is asked by Steve Rogers why he picked someone weak. The doctor replies, “Because a weak man knows the value of strength, the value of power.”

Lately, I feel like I’ve been injected with strength serum. I feel like I can do anything now. It’s not because I’m being cocky. It’s because I respect what many have said and done for me in these last few weeks and even prior to getting let go.

One event doesn’t shape me, but this wonderful social community does. Remember, you will always inspire me.

The Power Inside

“Hollywood is dead… you can find it in yourself.” – Michael Buble

I find a lot of inspiration in the lyrics of songs.  The one referenced above is from Buble’s song, “Hollywood.”  It’s a fun tune that can give you a little jump when it comes on in the middle of a long day.  From the first time I heard it, that line “Hollywood is dead, you can find it in yourself” has stuck in my head.  Every time I listen to that particular lyric, it hammers home this thought:

The power to control your destiny is inside you. And only you!

You may have the title of PR manager or marketing assistant, but it’s a title.  An important one, for sure, but are you letting that title say who you REALLY are? What I’m not saying here is to have a revolt and march to your boss’ office and demand freedom. Too often, we get in a position where we let a label define us instead of the other way around.

Say you work in an office. Do you see just the four walls, or do you see endless possibilities? That’s the key to grasping the power inside you.  Don’t see limitations!

There are some of us who question where we are exactly. Maybe your work doesn’t mean what it used to. So why are you sticking with something that frustrates you? Look at your accomplishments. YOU are the one who did it! No one else.

Remember that it’s NEVER too late to have a life and it’s never too late to change one.

What have you found inside yourself? Let me know in the comments.

An “AH HA” moment

During last night’s #HAPPO Twitter event, I was looking at all the advice given out to and for public relations pros (Thanks go out to Valerie Simon and Arik Hanson for their leadership on paying it forward in our field). I’m proud to be a HAPPO champion in the Buffalo, N.Y.-area.  But, I learned a valuable lesson as the tweets came flying by a like speeding bullet that Superman is faster than…

I DON’T KNOW SQUAT. You can unfollow me on Twitter if you feel it necessary.

For a few minutes after the chat, I was a little embarrassed.  Here I was giving information and trying to help fellow pros and I’m doubting my skills.  You know what though? It’s alright.  It was one of those “Ah Ha” moments that mark our lives.  Sure, I never thought I knew it all. I always want to keep learning.

The minute we stop learning is the time when we begin to think we are better than we really are.

And that’s the one thing I never want to stop doing.  The more I learn, the better I get.  Every day, I pick up something new.  It may come from a client email, a tweet, or even a phone call.  Great ideas and teachable moments can come in any size package.

You may not always agree with what you learned… that’s good.  You can learn something from disagreement. I’ve been in positions were I didn’t always see eye-to-eye with people.  Sure, it caused some pretty stressful times.  But, in the long run it taught me to stick to what I believed.  In my current job, we are always tossing around ideas.  It’s a collaborative atmosphere.  High-octane learning, I like to call it.

Do me a favor… take a moment today, whether it be at lunch, on the train, or at home, and learn something new.  Have your own “Ah Ha” moment!

What has your “Ah Ha” moment been this year? Let me know in the comments.

Follow Friday: Ryan Knapp

Welcome to Follow Friday! For those that are new to the blog, I’ve taken the Twitter tradition and started to pay it forward in some small way by highlighting someone I think you should know.  This week, Ryan Knapp authored a

Ryan Knapp

post that really impacted me.

His confession, “Being Good at Nothing, But Mediocre at a Lot” was a heartfelt post that really hits home with many of us. This part was what really impacted me:

You see, the price I personally paid for hustling was losing myself in the process. I ended up hustling for the wrong reasons. I lost focus, and was generally ineffective.

I admit, after reading blog post after blog post on Top 10 ways to do x or How to succeed at Y,  I hustled because I was trying to live someone else’s life.

I think Ryan’s post is something we can all use to show what is important and what isn’t.

Who is Ryan? I’m honored to say that I had the opportunity to have lunch with Ryan earlier this year before he moved from Buffalo, N.Y. to Kansas City, Mo. to work as the New Media Coordinator at the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA).  He’s a triathlete and, to be honest, one of the nicest people I’ve met.  Ryan is a genuine guy and someone you should be following.

You can read more of his blog at:
You can follow him on Twitter: @ryanknapp.

One Giant Leap…

“That’s one small step for (a) man; one giant leap for mankind.”Neil Armstrong, July 20, 1969.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve done a bit of soul searching.  I don’t mind admitting I’ve been doubting myself as of late.  You name it, I’ve felt it: Frustration, anger, and disappointment.  As I was flipping the channels at home the other night, I saw a special on the Apollo 11 mission.

I’m a huge NASA nut, always have been.  You’ve read about the Apollo 11 or even lived the moment.  Neil Armstrong descending the lunar lander and onto the surface of the moon, then uttering the words I’ve quoted above.  It was a mighty leap for man.


But, it also provided me with a bit of inspiration that I was looking for lately.  In my opinion, social media is the new frontier of digital exploration.  We constantly look for new ways to use it to our advantage, educationally and professionally. We are essentially the astronauts on a new mission: Push the envelope and find the vehicle to promote our company or brand.

A few days ago I asked on Twitter: What is it about social media that makes us so passionate about it? I received a great response from Deirdre Breakenridge, the president and executive director of Mango! Creative Juice.  She tweeted to me:

To answer your question…collaborating and sharing ideas with people around the world! There are no borders.

That is what NASA accomplished with not just the space program, but the Apollo missions.  To prove that we are not defined by just this planet, but by what we explore outside of it.  The more we collaborate with each other, we gain knowledge that helps us in public relations, marketing, journalism, etc.

We can sometimes be hesitant to take that next step or venture out of our own borders.  Don’t be.  NASA has had its share of failures: Apollo 1 and then the two Space Shuttle accidents.  Each time, the agency picked themselves up and moved forward.  We are not defined by failure, instead we are defined by how we learn from it.

Remember this: We can shoot for the moon all we want, but we need the rocket to get there.  What will be your rocket and what are you looking to be your giant leap?