Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Shooting in North Carolina

A couple of weeks ago I got word that someone I knew from childhood ended his life in a pretty violent way. It was a barricade situation, and before killing himself he shot a police officer (who is recovering, thankfully).

I was not that close to Steve. We were Facebook friends, but he was one of those Facebookers who wasn't very engaged, and I hadn't seen him since maybe high school.

Truthfully, I had to dig out my old yearbooks to recognize who he actually was, and when I realized and remembered I felt even worse.

As I recall, Steve was a smart, funny kid. Kind of nerdy and brainy. So the way he went out just did not compute.

I learned from the news stories that the last year of his life was pretty tumultuous. Drugs, divorce, getting fired from his job. Apparently he was at the end of his rope and even warned a therapist just hours before that he was ready to do something drastic and violent.

Some people who knew him better and kept up with him are naturally pretty broken up about it, expressing guilt and remorse. It's hard to know what you can actually do for someone in that state -- how you could even recognize just how bad it is and find a way to intervene.

The whole episode is unsettling. I feel bad for him, his family (he had kids) and, of course, the wounded officer. It's also disrupted my view of these things. They're on the news practically every night -- man holed up in house, authorities trying to talk him down.

And you (I) always have a notion of the kind of person it is. Bad. Violent. Terrible upbringing. Loser. And then something like this happens. The Steve I knew, what little I knew, was nothing like that.

These are hard, hard times, and I think a lot of people are barely hanging on. I'll certainly look at these things with a different perspective and a little more empathy.

As one of my friends put it on Facebook the other day: "Thinking about the suicide of my closest childhood friend and how his life will probably be defined by his worst year."

I hope he found peace, and that the people he left behind manage over time to find their own.

Monday, February 27, 2012

What do I do with my arms???

These days I don't love too many photos of me, but I really like this one.

There's something about black-and-white. That and not facing the camera makes for a truly sophisticated and supremely artsy look.

Of course, let's not take anything away from the model. Certainly not that deftly held pencil. Seriously, do NOT take that away. It's so NATURAL!

It's ridiculous but true that photographers and directors are constantly awed by the authenticity of my gestures and object work. I guess they work with a lot of actors and models who forget how to hold a pencil or a coffee mug or fold their arms.

Which always brings to mind this classic bit from 30 Rock (What do I do with my arms??):

This one's not so bad either. But I prefer less of my face.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Easy Come, Easy Go

Last week I got offered an opportunity on the "business" side of my life that I was kind of torn about. Good money over a six-month period. Secure, fairly lucrative.

On the down side? A big time suck. Occasional travel that would disrupt other things, like auditions, bookings, media and speeches. Lots and lots of meetings and conference calls. Being part of a committee that's part of a giant global corporation. So progress in increments and all the other frustrations that come with trying to steer a giant ship with a tiny little paddle.

Not to mention a distraction from focusing on getting this speaking career launched.

Still, I thought hard about it overnight and decided to give it a go. What the hell, right? You never know what other opportunities it could open up. And in the meantime, there's always the money.

As with all these big projects that come along, I don't count my chickens until they're hatched. And so I wasn't too surprised when this morning I was told the client changed course.

I have to say I'm more relieved than disappointed. It just means I'll have to take this time I've now been given and really put it to use.


Monday, February 20, 2012

As Seen on TV

View more videos at:

And here's the video of yesterday's appearance on NBC Chicago. Other than an overuse of hand gestures and the word "well," I think it went great. Also, Stefan kind of butchered my name, but there's only so much I can do about that.

Anyway, this is not the time to pick. (I can do that tomorrow.) Now is the time to savor the moment. And leverage the video for other media and for speaking opportunities ...

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Good Week

This week I am a multi-media phenomenon.

This morning I was on NBC Chicago's Sunday morning news talking with Stefan Holt about how we can all do a little more showing and a little less telling -- in presentations, job interviews and even dating. Video to come.

Thursday I'm doing a workshop for 25 people at a PR firm. The person who organized it saw me do a speech last month and booked me. For pay. Including a purchase of 25 books. (Which I have to get there early to sign.)

Friday morning I'm doing a radio interview. It's Internet radio, but I am told it's kind of a big deal in those circles. (I've inquired about getting the spelling of my name right.)

And between all that is another Internet radio program I recorded a couple of weeks ago. It airs Wednesday afternoon (and forever on demand after that). Not sure about this one. I deliberated on whether to even do it. I'll have to see how it turns out and whether it gets the results that have been suggested.

I want to be doing this stuff so much that I don't even have to think about it. With the TV interview this morning I was so careful last night about what I ate, what I drank, how much I slept, etc., because I wanted to make sure I did a good job. It turned out great -- probably in spite of all my care and concern and not because of it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

How You Like Me Now?

Around this time last year, I was going back and forth with the publisher, working to get the book in final shape, and I was also thinking about the next stage: public speaking.

I checked out the criteria for the annual international conference of the biggest association of PR people in the world -- the Public Relations Society of America. They required references -- at least three people who could recommend me based on presentations I'd done in the last three years.

I was a little stymied. I had spoken now and again before groups large and small, from communicators to business people to students. But it was in no way an ongoing, organized thing, and I did not have the required references. So I passed.

This year as I filled out the application, I realize I've got nine references from just six months. And these aren't just any old speaking opportunities. They're in front of PRSA's Chicago chapter, one of the biggest in the nation. And the Chicago chapter's young professionals network. And next month I'll be keynoting a conference of all the Western chapters.

I'll be astounded if my application isn't accepted. (Though stranger things have certainly happened.)

Things never seem to move fast enough. Progress doesn't come quick enough. Results don't come soon enough. But when I poke my head up and have a look around, I see I've truly come a long way.

Monday, February 13, 2012

There goes the deductible

I had four doctors appointments in eight days.

It started with a sore, swollen elbow. After four days of self-treating, I was told by Dial-a-Nurse to seek medical care "within the hour." That sounded kind of serious, and after some contemplation I decided to take it seriously and made an appointment for that afternoon.

Diagnosis? Skin infection. They put me on a powerful antibiotic that had its own pretty difficult side effects. Though nowhere on the warning labels did say anything like "Do Not Take Alcohol," so my lifestyle wasn't heavily impacted. Other than general havoc to my digestive system.

The redness left and the swelling went down, but not all the way. So off to appointment #4 with the orthopedist for x-rays and and an exam. Diagnosis? Precisely as I called it in my original Internet research: bursitis.

So now I have a label for it and am back to what I was doing before calling Dial-a-Nurse: ice and advil, as opposed to the heat and antibiotics I was first on. I guess that wasn't pointless. I guess there was a mild infection at the beginning.

I'm guessing another week or so to totally get over the antibiotic, and supposedly another couple of weeks for the bursitis to go away.

It's been a mildly debilitating year. Pinkygeddon had me gimpy for a couple of months, then some small surgery in December restricted me for a few weeks. And now this.

If this is what it's gonna be like for the rest of this ride on earth -- one annoying ailment and injury after another -- I'd like a transfer.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Okay, this is cool

I am more excited about this than I should be: Act Like You Mean Business-branded candy bars.

It's a tactic -- a tiny one -- but I can't help it. I love them. The artwork came out beautifully, the reverse has a turn of phrase so clever I wonder where that instinct was back when we were struggling to name the book.

And there's also a sweet little QR code that links mobile users to the sample chapter on the website. They can choose a mobile-optimized version of it or can even download a pdf, which has all the original graphics.

I'll mostly be using them at presentations as incentives for participation. I've been using free books and that's costly. I can also use them as leave-behinds when I do TV and radio interviews. And I may actually use them in a pitch to a specific reporter ahead of Valentine's Day.

They're off to be printed and I should have them in my hands in a few days. So that was a nice end to the week. A couple of nice ends, actually. Today I got myself booked on NBC Chicago's Sunday morning news program, which I've been pitching for a while now.

And the success of that pitch has given me some ideas for going back to other places like WGN TV.

I needed some good news this week.