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Thoughts on Martin Luther King Day

16 Jan

A thought struck me out of the blue on MLK day.  The assasination of Martin Luther King, Jr. gave me my first real taste of bigotry.

I grew up in Manchester, CT in the 1960s.  Located two towns west of Hartford, Manchester was a pretty ‘white bread’ community, most of the workforce split between United Aircraft (now United Technologies) and the several insurance companies headquartered in Hartford, then known as the Insurance City.

I had very little interaction with ‘diversity’, but I was taught to treat all people equally, and have tried to live up to that standard.

When MLK was shot, I was a junior at Manchester High School.  I was sitting in driver ed class when we got the news, the teacher said, and I quote, “Well, we got rid of THAT troublemaker.”

The fact that I remember that statement TO THIS DAY, speaks to its effect on me.


What is Networking for? Thought provoking post from the PLM Group on LinkedIn

21 Dec

Thanks to Jennifer Montez, Online Marketing Coordinator at New Grad Life for this one.  Unlike most of my blog ideas, this one sort of came out of  ‘left field’.  The referenced article struck me because of a combination of the holidays, thinking about family, and about my youngest, who will soon enter the job market.  The article’s provocative title:

“Networking means you’re looking to use people to achieve selfish goals, or opportunistically ask people for help.” – True?

That statement pushed me back in my chair.  Is that really what networking is?  Is that what I want my son to be doing as he enters the workforce?

A little introspection.  I like to jokingly say that I’m a ‘recovering engineer’.  When I was 22, I knew that I was really smart, and I wanted everyone else to know it, too.  Deep down, it was insecurity talking.  People that know me would probably not think of me as shy or insecure, but I talk a good game.  Always have.  Happy to give you my opinion.  At great length….

It has been a combination of tireless coaching by my wife, a bit of maturity, Dale Carnegie, and, strangely enough, the internet, that has started to turn me into more of a social being.  If I’m posting, I have time to be thoughtful, to edit, to think about how my comments would be received.  People that I have never met, from all over the world, become friends via shared interests (it’s also harder to interupt someone on the net).

So, what is networking for?  Is it shameless self-promotion?  For some, I’m sure.  For me?  I would be lying if I said it wasn’t an exhilirating feeling when someone responds to a blog, or decides to follow me on Twitter.  It makes my day.  But,  I don’t see it as self promotion, and it is fairly easy to see who’s interested and who’s promoting when I get responses and followers.

The best ‘networker’ I ever met was my mother-in-law, Nora.  I believe you could have parachuted Nora into a foreign country and in 24 hours she would have made a dozen new friends.  Her daughter (my wife, Mary) has the same trait.  When we go to a party, I tend to look for people I know.  We talk.  I run out of things to talk about, and I’m ready to go home.  Mary makes it a point to meet new people and find out about them.  When we drive home, she always has an interesting story about someone she met.  It’s a skill that I wish came naturally to me, but it’s something I have to work at all the time.

So what is the key to successful networking?  Dale Carnegie said it best:

“Become Genuinely Interested In Other People”

… or as the New Grad Life article quoted (also from Carnegie):

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

That is the advice I will share with my son, and the advice for anyone entering the job market.



This One’s Personal

20 Nov

I was contacted by Hoxworth Blood Center here in Cincinnati last week (@hoxworthUC).  Like thousands of others, I give blood.  This time, they called to ask if I would donate white blood cells. I had never had that experience, but they told me I was a ‘match’.  As it was a three hour procedure, I was a little hesitant.  They offered Sunday morning, so I agreed.  I grabbed my copy of “Real Time Marketing & PR” by David Meerman Scott (@dmscott) and headed downtown.

This is not a ‘hey, how about me’ message.  This is about what I heard when I got to Hoxworth this morning, and how I felt.  When the procedure was nearly complete, I asked Rick and Julie (who had come in specifically for me),  about ‘being a match’.   Julie said, “We’ve had a run on white blood cells for Children’s Hospital.  The cancer treatments leave the children susceptable to all sorts of infections.  You were a match for one of those children.”  Then, while holding the bag that I had just filled, she said. “A child will have these cells by dinner time tonight.”

Think about it.  Take 3 hours and possibly save a child’s life?  Do it!