Ode to a fabulous marketing team — and a note to my replacement.



I am leaving a wonderful marketing team this coming Friday.  It was a tough decision to change jobs, solely based on this wonderful marketing team.  I have been the Executive Director of Marketing at Joint Commission Resources for 3.7 years, but it seems much longer some days and like I just arrived on others.

This marketing team works hard, is dedicated to the work and to each other.  It is a family of sorts, and one tough to leave. So, if you are poised to take this job, beware:  you will get attached.

You will learn to appreciate and rely on Krista McGorrian’s insight and lean six sigma green belt skills.  And a killer instinct for e-marketing!  You will have fun with Gia Riney, who joined us just a year ago to take on international marketing and bring a whole new set of insights and marketing expertise to this group.  You will depend on Kathy Atkinson to take on all your tradeshow needs — top to bottom and I’m telling you I’ve seen no one on this planet who runs a tradeshow more smoothly with her new sidekick and former intern, Chris Grelyak.  Kathy also does all the production management in a newly-minted role and the whole account team relies on her to get the tactical work completed every day.  Her production team includes the talented fine artist (true story) Katlin Mulligan and in the future, Margaret Conley, who has spearheaded a very dynamic website development project this year.  The new jcrinc.com and jointcommissioninternational.org will debut late this year or early 2014!

Amy Sobczak is the friendliest and best Salesforce.com administrator anyone could wish for.  Beware, she is passionate beyond belief about this business system and will turn you into a believer too, if you aren’t already. 

Our account managers, Holly Jordan (publications and education) , Thad Sochacki (software)and Linda Bosy (consulting) are hard to beat.  They are creative, dedicated to their internal clients’ success, and work diligently on their behalf every day.  The detail and the scope of what they do are not to be believed.  But believe it.  They are truly great.

And last but not least, Sharon Sheehan, our administrative assistant, who can wield the Accounts Payable wand like know one else.  She keeps us on track with our various marketing expense ledgers and also moonlights for the Operations team!

So, whomever you are that takes over this wildly talented and connected team, good luck to you and you will be blessed.  And fair warning, it will be very difficult should you ever make the decision to choose another opportunity.  This team is hard to beat.

Love and blessings to all the great marketers out there… some whom I have yet to meet and many, many friends and colleagues who are out there slogging through the marcomms jungle.  Keep slogging, my friends!

Song of a Mom

The day I first felt the fluttering of you inside my womb

I knew I was not alone

It was scary and lovely and full of promise

… did I mention scary?

And then all too soon, you were here, a part of me, a part of my heart

… Living, breathing outside my body

I got to know you and what you liked and didn’t … you loved water, you loved the dog, and you loved music; you were playful and happy

 ….but you didn’t like cacophony or discord

You grew into your own person and uniqueness

You had your own opinions

I helped shape you;  you and I were a team, where you let me be a part

I loved you more than I could even imagine a person could love another

… and I was proud

I saw you almost every day, listened to you practicing your music, learned your habits and your ways, watched you grow, and I was proud.

Then, all too soon, it came time for you to leave.

I never thought it would get here, and then when it was, I was not ready

… it happened in an instant.

And now, you live apart from me.  A part of me is living there with you, where ever you are.  Proud and happy for you.  Processing what has happened to me. 

I was whole before you came, and when you arrived.  Now that you are gone, I am whole still, but in pieces …

Fly my little bird, my grown man.  Be strong and happy and loving to others.  But remember, you will always be mine.  You will always have a home where ever I am.



sunshine through trees

The other day I was going through the drive through (yes, I crave a giant diet coke now and then and it has to be a fountain drink).  It was a sunny Chicago day, but only about 34 degrees and windy.  As I gave my money to the cashier, who was dressed in a coat, cut-off gloves and had a red nose from the cold, I felt bad for him in my toasty sun-warmed car.  He asked me how I was doing today.  I gave the standard answer, “I’m good, how are you?”  “Blessed,” he said.  It made me pause.  Then, as he gave me my change, he said, “have a blessed day,” and I drove to the next window.

It made me think.  Just before I drove up to that window, I was thinking about all my troubles: I think I’m getting a virus; did we pay the mortgage yet?; this car is filthy — it needs a wash; how am I going to get all my work done this week? etc.

We live in one of the wealthiest, “busiest,” robust countries in all the world. Blessed? You bet we are. Most of us. And how many of us, despite all we have, complain that we want more? How many of us look around to help those who don’t have enough? And yet, I suspect there may be many of the “less fortunate” who feel more blessed than the average American does.

How do we feel blessed? It’s about practicing gratitude, not feeling so entitled, relaxing and letting things be less than perfect, loving our fellow humans. I was “blessed” just by going through that drive-thru and having the short interaction with the cashier. I learned something that day. And I’m hoping that others who went through this guy’s line during his shift stopped and paused as I did, just to say, “yeah. I’m blessed.” I can only hope.

What is your personal mission statement?

Personal mission statements should take the place of a personal brand, in my humble opinion.

I’ve had a personal mission statement for many years … it dates back to when my company (Fleishman Hillard) sent me to a Stephen Covey seminar on the 7 Habits of Highly Successful People — must have been 1997 or 1998.  In that session, I learned about big rocks and small pebbles (send me a message and I’ll tell you that one if you haven’t ever heard it) and one of the most valuable tools I’ve ever learned…. Create a Personal Mission Statement and live by it.

Here’s mine:  Make Every Interaction Count

To me, that means not only with my family and work colleagues, but with the grocer who is helping me a the produce aisle as well as the UPS delivery driver who delivers my packages.  It means I am cordial, but beyond that, I try to offer a bit of kindness that is so lacking in the world.  Most days, I do well with this mission statement.  There are days I fail.  And for anyone who knows me and knows the days I have failed at this, I offer my apologies  here and now.

But when I do fall down on this, I do pick myself up, remind myself of what that mission statement means to me and try to start again with a fresh perspective.

The reason I think having a personal mission statement is important is that a good mission statement will provide not only the essence of what you stand for, it is actionable.  It goes beyond “personal branding,” — even as a marketer, I have a love/hate fest with this concept — it should reflect who you are and even more, who you want to be as a person, not as a commodity, product, sales or service.

If you have a personal mission statement, tweet it out, put it in the comments here, put it on my Facebook account or just tell the world!  Being accountable for the change you want to see in this world is a great way to live out the mission you were brought to this planet to achieve!

What is your personal mission statement?



My son has senioritis. He’s entitled. He’s 18 and does not want to go to school. Of course it’s 2 degrees outside and he’d rather stay in but so do the other 6 people who live in this house. But somehow, he’s entitled. It’s not that he’s a bad kid. He has stellar grades. I just got his report card and it’s all A’s (again). That’s great. But he’s driving the rest of us up a wall!

So I realized as I was driving him to school again today (I’ve driven him all week to make sure he’s actually going… yes, it’s that bad) that I also have senioritis. Now, I’m more of the age that it should probably be capitalized, as in Senioritis, pertaining to the condition of “seniors” who have inflammation of the knees, ankles and phalanges when they have too much sodium. Or, it could be that I’m on the edge of burn-out. I don’t know. But I’m putting off things I know I should do.

I call it “being creative.” You can’t push creativity, you know, just as you cannot tell someone to “be funny.” Don’t get me wrong, I want to be more creative, more alive. As I’m sure my 18-year-old does. He’s just ready to move into the next phase of his life and he’s impatient for this part to be over. I wonder if that’s what’s going on with me?

Problem is, I don’t know which part I want to be over. Maybe if I knew, this “senioritis” could be pointed in the right direction and provide a catalyst for me to go into my next spurt of amazing creativity! Who knows?

Until I figure this out, I’m going to take it easy for a while…. rest and drink a bit of tea, perhaps. Listen to jazz. Read a book that has no intellectual value. Play with the dog. But I hope I still get A’s like the other senior in the house!

Life is a rollercoaster…

roller coaster… or a box of chocolates. Or whatever cliche or trite phrase you want to [insert] here.
It’s definitely interesting and entertaining. I love roller coasters because they make me feel alive. I also like them because I know in my heart it’s a controlled, (mostly) safe journey.

I’m harnessed in, taking deep plunges and hairpin curves. But I know that it’s very likely I’ll return back to the smiley, pimply-faced teenaged attendant who strapped me in, all in one piece.

So life is like my type of roller coaster experience only if you have that same sense of security — who you are and who you trust in your life. If you feel like you have that sense of security, you know you will actually enjoy the ride.

I’m working on this — giving up control to God above who loves me and knows me as his own. I’m working on trusting the people in my life who love me and want the best for me. And, I’m working on trusting that my instincts are right, that God has given me the sense to know and understand myself and make the best choices for me.

This comes up whether I decide to fight the good fight, make things right, compromise, or trust someone else with my feelings and thoughts. I’m working on trust. The roller coaster is a piece of cake. LIfe is much more difficult.

So, once again, I find myself sitting up tall, taking a deep breath, maybe a sip of wine, letting it all out — and most of all, trusting that I will eventually conquer this thing —
learning to trust in the goodness of life, even when it brings hairpin turns and plunging declines. Ever notice that the ride to the top takes a long time and the plunge down only a few seconds? Hmmmmmm.

Toxic inside or toxic outside?

Toxic TrollfaceI find it difficult to decipher sometimes whether the negative energy coming my way originates from me or from the outside environment. I understand those who say what you feel inside is what is reflected back to you, but there are times when I’m actually having a pretty good day and something negative comes sauntering up from what seems like nowhere and hits me in the face.

It’s like the twitter post I saw recently that made me laugh (it went something like this):

Me: Hey, I’m having a pretty good day. I’m happy and good with things right now.
Life: LOL. Wait a sec.

So what are we supposed to do with that? Sometimes I’m tired of fixing myself and being positive when some things are downright just wrong. Ya know what I mean?

That’s when I pick myself up and stand up for myself. It’s like I’m in a bar and I’ve heard enough of your yackin’. I slam the beer down, draw myself up, roll up the sleeves, take the watch off and invite the intruder outside. Well, I’d like to think I do that. It’s harder than it looks, believe me…

It’s about boundaries and all that. I get it. But when is it you say for real “I’ve had enough!” ?? I can’t take it anymore!! I’d like to think I am quietly assertive and roll with things pretty well, but I admit, there are times I just sit and listen, take quiet breaths, and try to be in a calm place but it just DOES NOT WORK.

Like when my kids refuse to wash their hands after going to the bathroom and the doorknobs get sticky leading to the bathroom… eeeew.

Like when the neighbor’s hound dogs (all three of them) bay at my poor little dog day after day when she’s just trying to go outside and pee. (Okay, I promise it’s not all about the bathroom that makes me want to scream.)

Or when I get a toxic e-mail, voice mail or text that I clearly did not deserve, and from someone who barely knows me but thinks she does. All that negativity spewing at me from my favorite electronic device. It’s just not fair. I refuse to believe I put that out there for myself to “reap…” ! I really am such a happy person at my core. I can subscribe to the fact that some toxicity comes from inside, like the gurus are telling us, but sometimes…. sometimes it really does come from another very unhappy place.

So when does your “toxic” button get pushed? I’d like to hear some great stories.