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The Keys to Success

Writing.  Passion.  Presentation.

These three qualities were stressed by Scott Deitz, Vice President of Fleishman-Hillard, as the most important qualities necessary for success.  Though Deitz was addressing an audience of young Public Relations students, his message can easily be adapted to nearly any profession.  Upon closer inspection, it’s easy to see why he would praise these qualities.

All three have one important theme in common.  Writing, passion, and presentation all relate to our ability to interact with other people.  Writing is a product of our ability to tell stories, and our personal stories are the building blocks of our friendships and relationships with other people.  Our passion for the things we do is evident in how passionate we are in our relationships with other people and in our passion for the memories we make and the stories we tell.  The way that we present ourselves is a reflection of our self-worth, yet another indicator of our passion.

Writing comes first.  Every person has a story to tell, and if you can tell your story you can relate to one another.  Being able to write the story, however, is a special skill.  Anyone who was there and lived the moment with you knows the story and how special it was.  They know all those minor details that made that one moment something special, worth remembering.  But if they weren’t there, our job as storytellers is to make them feel like they were.  To tell the story so vividly that it comes to life and is able to be lived again and again.

This is true for professionals as well.  Your product represents something- an idea, an emotion, a feeling, a concept, a moment, a lifestyle.  Our job as PR professionals is to make sure that your company is reflecting the original inspiration of your product.  The product tells a story of its creation, and we are the medium through which it is told.

Passion.  Passion leads to inspiration.  Nothing great has ever been created by accident.  The passion with which we begin is directly proportional to the quality of the end result.  There is a story behind every passion, and if the passion is strong enough then the story is worth telling.  Our passions define us, and the things we do and create are the product of years of passion.  Passion is enduring.  Our passions take on a life of their own and dare us to pursue them, through any obstacle.  The realization of our passions becomes the very definition of the success we seek.

It all starts with presentation.  A first impression says everything about a person.  The way someone presents themselves discloses their opinion about themselves, and that is more information than any question in an interview could obtain.  If you don’t feel that you’re worth what you’re asking, no one else will feel that way either.  As Deitz continuously reminded us, the way to secure your success is to dress, act, and feel like you belong.  Dress, act, and feel as if you are already a success, and it will surely come to be.

New iPad a Letdown

ImageWednesday was Apple’s first product launch since Steve Jobs’ passing, so there was understandably a lot riding on it.  Unfortunately for Apple fans, and the for the company, the new iPad (don’t-call-me-3) was quite a disappointment.

Aside from boasting a new screen resolution 2048×1536 (basically the same resolution as the ASUS Transformer 700 series and a few other high-end Android tabs) and an improved GPU, there’s not much to talk about.  It’s using an updated version of the same old dual-core processor, which has yet to show any performance advantages to Android’s Tegra 3 quad-core chip, or even the Snapdragon S4 dual core chip, despite Apple’s claims.

Apple has finally brought a couple of features to the table that really should have been on the iPad 2 already, so at least they are catching up to the present.  They’ve added 4G connectivity and an updated camera, although the camera is still just a 5mp shooter.

So is it worth another $600 for an iPad 2 with a better display?  Maybe to loyal fanboys, but not to the average consumer.  To be realistic, the iPad 2 already sports 720p video recording and 1080p playback.  This is more than enough for the average user.  The only real advantage to the new iPad is the 4G connectivity which, as usual, does not require a new 2 year contract.  That’s a very nice feature.  The rest, however, leaves quite a bit to be desired.  If Apple can’t deliver on a stellar new product every year, then maybe they shouldn’t release a new product every year.  Or at least don’t price it like it’s a new product when it’s just the same old thing with a couple tweaks.

Restore Omaha

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On Saturday I was lucky enough to attend the Restore Omaha conference as a volunteer and cover the events and speakers.  Restore Omaha is an annual conference centered on restoring older and historical homes, promoting green energy alternatives, and implementing energy efficient renovations to existing homes.

It was an educational experience, to say the least.  The opening address was given by Arnie Breslow, who recently restored the Cornish residence on 10th and William Street in Omaha.  He detailed how, over the last 13 years, he dedicated his weekends and holidays to restoring the French Second Empire-style house, built in 1886.  The Cornish house is just one of several houses that Breslow has restored in the Omaha area.

After the first session was a lunch break followed by the keynote address from Patricia Gay, Executive Director of the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans.  Gay highlighted several similarities, as well as a few differences, between New Orleans and Omaha and their respective preservation and restoration efforts.  She spend a great deal of time focused on federal and state legislation that can aid restoration projects, and how restoration projects can help stem problems of urban blight and actually be a financial boon to a city.

Before and after the keynote address were dozens of mini “breakout sessions,” dealing with a more specific topic related to classic homes and homeownership.  I attended classes on electric safety given by a local contractor, Tom Taylor.  I saw a history of the “modernist” movement in architecture, given by Paula Mohr of the Iowa State Preservation Office, and ended the day with a sneak peak of the newly improved reEnergize program, a collaborative effort between Omaha and Lincoln to improve energy efficiency in old homes.

In between there were plenty of opportunities to meet local merchants and enthusiasts, and lots of networking opportunities.  I happened to meet the son of a UNO alumni who ran the UNO Gateway for many years, and a number of other interesting people.

I spent over seven hours at the convention and it flew by.  I look forward to it next year, and encourage anyone who plans on owning a home or currently owns a home to attend as well.

“I Inherited this Mess”

When attempting to make a case for why the public should even consider reelecting a man who has failed to keep nearly every promise he made prior to swindling- I mean, winning- office (http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/promises/obameter/rulings/promise-broken/) there is one fallback that the President would most certainly not use this time around, although it would actually be the truth.

“We inherited this economic mess.”  (Or one of a million versions of that statement oft repeated)

We’ve heard this line before, of course.  It has been used by Team Obama for four years to explain why his administration can’t seem to do anything with the economy (or anything else).  In fact, this line has been repeated so often the mainstream media has taken it as fact, and seems to have completely forgotten about that pesky little housing bubble that was the catalyst for it all.  No, now it was all George Bush and the GOP that caused the recession.  Never mind that subprime mortgage practices were introduced and encouraged by President Carter’s “Community Reinvestment Act” over 30 years ago (http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2008/09/28/franks_fingerprints_are_all_over_the_financial_fiasco/).

The Clinton administration and Andrew Cuomo (Director of FHA at the time) only exacerbated this problem (http://www.openmarket.org/2008/09/16/clinton-pressure-to-promote-affordable-housing-led-to-mortgage-meltdown/).  Weak attempts were made during the Bush administration to reform lending standards as well as Fannie and Freddy, but these were half-hearted attempts at best.

But to rely on actual facts would mean that nothing was inherited from the previous administration, and someone in this administration would have to assume responsibility.  Perhaps the President?  Not a chance. Ms. Clinton?  Not likely.  Maybe the first lady?  It would seem not.  Eric Holder?  Nope.  Nancy Pelosi?  Harry Reid?  Any Democrat in Congress?  No, no, and no.

Lucky for Obama, come November this year, the previous administration will be his own, and then he can accurately blame “the previous administration” all he wants.  It might just be the first time I would take this President at his word.

Habitat

“The economics of Jesus.”

Words that would be public suicide for any of today’s politicians, but this is how Mary Barrett, founder of the Omaha chapter of Habitat for Humanity, describes the Habitat philosophy.

“It’s a biblical business model.”

“We don’t work for the poor.  We work with the poor.  We don’t want to lose that focus.”

This is how Jesus would have run a business in today’s world.  That’s not to say that Mary sees herself as Christ-like; far from it.  Mary is one of the most honest, sincere, humble women I have ever met.

So how exactly would Jesus run a business in the modern economy?  If it were a housing business, he would first house the poor, the homeless, and the helpless.  He would have those who he helped repay him by doing the same kindness for another, and building more homes for the homeless.  By paying it forward, he would soon have amassed a volunteer base that could build not just one house, but a whole neighborhood, and much much more.  Instead of sheltering profits, he would shelter people.  And he would call it Habitat for Humanity.

This idea of people helping people at the most basic level, with no interest in profit, is what motivated Mary to found Habitat for Humanity in Omaha.  On a visit to Georgia in 1984, the same year that Jimmy Carter discovered Habitat for Humanity, Mary saw the Habitat organization and what they were doing, and how it got to the root of the problem.  She had worked with her church and other organizations at homeless shelters and charitable foundations before, and had seen the revolving door of the same faces coming in time after time with the same problems, stuck in the same rut.  Habitat for Humanity was a different sort of project, one that aimed to empower people and give them a foundation on which to build their own futures.

Mary came back to Omaha with the idea to help the communities in her hometown that needed the help most.  After receiving little initial support, she invested $1,000 of her own money into the project, and when that ran out, she invested another $1,000.  Her initial investment fed the organization hand-to-mouth until enough support was garnered to interest donors and grants.  Once the project was underway, it became completely self-sustaining; the money gained by mortgaging the houses is directly channeled into building more houses, with no profit to the organization.  The homes are mortgaged at 0% interest.

Now, 25 years later, Mary is still involved heavily with Habitat in Omaha.  Though not officially a staff or board member any longer, she often visits Habitat sites and continues to lend a helping hand.

For more information on the Omaha chapter of Habitat for Humanity and the organization in general, visit habitatomaha.org

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