Monday Manager Message

Quotes, opinions, and philosophies of some well-known and lesser-known “managers.”

In 1964, US Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart offered the following quote in an opinion written for the obscenity case Jacobellis v. Ohio. As a legal standard, it was both praised and derided. As a managerial strategy it can be highly detrimental.

But I know it when I see it…”

Delivering clear instructions and/or expectations is crucial to quality internal communications and good leadership. Too often employees can waste energy, time and patience trying to hit marks that have not been adequately described. If your only plan as a manager is to hope your team members can either read your mind or spontaneously arrive at your desired conclusion, then you need to rethink your management style. Similarly, if you yourself don’t know what success looks like for your team then either hold off on delivering assignments or engage in some group think planning and develop a goal together.

[Your Org] Welcomes DeGraff to Communications Team

(Anytown, USA – July 22, 2019)

[Your Org] announces the addition of Jeff DeGraff to lead their communications team. DeGraff brings over fifteen years of experience to the position, with a background of working in both the public and private sectors. In his new role, he will be leading internal and external communications efforts to promote [Your Org]’s business goals and enhance its reputation.

DeGraff most recently held the position of Senior Director of Corporate and Media Relations for Union Pacific Railroad where he oversaw all external communications in an 11-state territory. He received praise for his expertise in story generation, communication strategies, crisis management, and media relations training.Continue reading

The Company They Keep

When I was young, people would caution about with whom I chose to surround myself. They used warnings like “guilt by association” or “the company you keep.” This was to teach me about those who are quick to judge groups as a whole as opposed to the individuals may miss my good deeds and/or intentions. Additionally, they explained that while I wasn’t committing bad acts, my association with bad actors could show tacit if not full-on approval of the actions.

My response to these counsels was a decision to never be someone with whom others would worry about associating. I worked to maintain my integrity, my public persona and reputation, and be someone found to be trustworthy and accountable. Long before I knew anything about “personal branding” I realized I wanted people to see me in a favorable light as often as possible. There were opportunities that I could have taken advantage of if I was less concerned about this or was more willing to test the “lines,” but those were sacrifices I willingly made.

Now that I have immersed myself in the corporate/professional world of reputations and “brand management,” I see some obvious similarities. The outside opinion of a company or organization is of vital importance, especially in this connected day and age.Continue reading

A Defining Document

I’d like to wish all a very happy and safe 4th of July holiday. Being patriotic is much like being a member of a family. You are proud of the successes of the family as a whole and the individual members. You recognize the shortcomings and feel a responsibility to help improve them. I’ll never be born into another family and I’ll never have a different country of origin.

For the purposes of this blog, I’d like to take the opportunity to recognize the document that makes this particular day a holiday: the Declaration of Independence. In terms of communication, a document that is more than 240 years old and continues to form the foundation for one of the largest and most powerful countries in the world is truly exemplary.

One might argue why this singular document has attained such import. Is it the actual text and prose that makes it so meaningful? Is it a product of the environment of the time and its immediate impact on those around it at the time? Has it become more a symbol and the gravitas placed on it is more important than the actual words? Regardless of the why, the fact that it remains so important and influential makes this one of the most effective communiqués in history.

I could only dream of contributing to a document with such last impact.

Happy Independence Day!

Declaration of Independence, 1776

How I Can Help You

When I was wrapping up my degree in Public Relations oh so many years ago, I recall a robust conversation in one of my final classes. The instructor was discussing life in the “real world” with us and described an on-going battle to justify the existence and practice of public relations within many large organizations.  He described it as a “PR problem for PR.” Hollywood’s portrayals and some high-profile, less-than-scrupulous practitioners had convinced many that public relations was a superfluous luxury or a necessity of the shady.

While in school learning the techniques and tactics, I carried an innate understanding of the importance of communication. I was sure that even in the “real world” people would see the value of helping share and exchange ideas and messages. Unfortunately, the purpose and value of quality public relations still seem to be lost on many decision makers in the business world.Continue reading

Perfect in that Moment

1,206 out of 1,265 free throws made in one hour. Seventeen free throws made in two minutes – blindfolded. These are world records set by Ed Palubinskas. On his way to becoming an All-SEC basketball player, two-time Olympian and professional basketball draftee, Ed developed a name for himself as a sharpshooter on the court. Even when injuries cut short his playing career, he continued practicing and refining his free throw shooting stroke. So much so, that he’d go on to be a sought after coach, demonstrator, and teacher of the skill. He was about the closest thing to a perfect shooter as you could find. And along the way, he gave a lot of thought to the idea of “perfection.”

I had the privilege to meet Palubinskas when I was a kid. He was a friend of my father’s from back when he showed up on the campus of Louisiana State University as one of the first Australian-born basketball players to suit up in the purple and gold. After his playing days, he stuck around and made his life.

By the time I knew him, he was a decorated former basketball player, coach, talented graphic artist, author, and motivational speaker. I was able to hear him speak on several occasions and one of his themes always stuck with me.Continue reading

Friday Fun: Move! Get Out the Way!

I’ve spoken with members of the media on countless occasions discussing the importance of railroad safety. But I have to give kudos to CW39 in Houston, Texas. Pairing my safety message with the rap stylings of none other than Ludacris? Genius!

Sometimes you just need to be direct.

A Look Into The Future

“Out of the mouths of babes” – “and a child shall lead them” – “I believe that children are the future”

Whatever your preferred colloquialism, we should all recognize that the leaders of tomorrow are the youth of today.

Recently, I had the opportunity to witness firsthand the preparation those future leaders are going through, and I was impressed.

NOTE: this post isn’t a blatant brag about my son, as his fellow classmates were all equally impressive.

My son graduates high school next week, and for the last two years he’s pursued the Advanced Placement Capstone designation. Students receive the designation if they graduate having completed at least four advanced placement courses and the AP Seminar and AP Research classes. The AP Research class consists of a two-semester research project, of their choosing, culminating in a written paper and public presentation. Essentially, they are high school seniors preparing and defending a thesis.Continue reading