A Revolutionary Opportunity

I received a call last November from a writer with Minnesota Monthly, the magazine Minnesota Public Radio sends to its donors, saying that its editors had been brainstorming an article idea for February’s issue and wanted to include me. The feature was to include a dozen Minnesotans they called “The Revolutionaries” and would involve a professional photo shoot, which they scheduled for December.

The February issue was sent to subscribers and available on newsstands in mid-January, but the articles weren’t online until last week. Here’s the lead-in to the “Revolutionary” profiles in the article, entitled “The Revolutionaries: 12 Minnesotans who are changing the way we think about the world—and its future.

It’s never been harder to think big. From an economy that keeps many of us clinging to crummy jobs to small-minded partisan bickering that puts innovative projects on hold, looking beyond ourselves and this moment can be mind-bendingly hard.

Nonetheless, there are still dreamers out there—and more important, dreamers who take action. We rounded up 12 Minnesotans who are tackling projects that have the potential not just to change their industry, but to change the state, the country, and the world.

Check out the whole article, and you’ll see the photo I’ve adapted for my Twitter avatar.

Breakfast with Evie

I had a delightful experience this morning before I left for work: having breakfast with my granddaughter, Evelyn.

There was a time when this wouldn’t be such a remarkable event. For most of human history, families typically lived in close proximity across several generations. In many cases, extended families might live under the same roof.

The mobility made possible by the internal combustion engine brought many benefits, but one of downsides from a parental perspective is that children grow up and move away instead of raising their kids close to home. We’re happy for the opportunities, but we miss our babies (and their babies).

I’m now starting to appreciate the bittersweet moments we created for my parents when my wife Lisa and I moved to the Twin Cities (100 miles away) in the late 1980s, taking our two children with us in pursuit of gainful employment. And when we moved back home to Austin in 1994, with two more little girls (one of whom turned 20 today!) and a baby boy on the way, it was really special to be able to be close to their grandparents.

Still, during that eight-year period, I think my parents probably got to see our kids about every six weeks or so.

Now my two oldest kids are married, and my daughter Rachel and her husband have moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where Kyle is going to seminary. They have two children, Evelyn and Judah. Anyone who has been in one of my presentations has been introduced indirectly to Evie.

But I see Evie and Judah much more frequently than my parents saw our kids, even though we’re about 500 miles away.

This morning I had a really special experience that illustrates the power of technology to strengthen those family bonds weakened by distance. Through the magic of Skype (and I do mean magic), I had breakfast with Evie (click photos to enlarge):

Evie was having a bowl of oatmeal at her table in Grand Rapids at 8 a.m. her time, while I had my gluten-free Corn Chex at 7 a.m. my time in Austin, a nine-hour drive away.

For us, though, her breakfast with “Bapa Eeee” was just like being directly across the table from each other. And I think I speeded up her eating, because when Grandpa took a bite, so did she:

What applications can you see to enrich your life and work by using free videoconferencing?

Meet me in Paris?

This would ordinarily be the place where I would insert a punch line like, “Yes, I’m speaking in Paris, Texas” or one of the other 22 cities in the U.S. named “Paris.”

Or maybe I’d be referring to a convention at the casino in Las Vegas with a miniature (though still very large) version of this:

But this time it’s no joke: two weeks from today I will be in the original Paris for a three-day conference called the Health Executive Summit, where I will be on a Thursday panel.

I just found out from the organizers that I can offer guest passes to up to five of my contacts to also attend for free.


If you can get to Paris, FRANCE in a couple of weeks and would like to attend the Health Executive Summit, send me a tweet (@LeeAase) or send me a note via email via my contact form. I will send you the discount code to use in registration.

Given that we have a few SMUGgles on the Continent, maybe we’ll be able to use those passes. If you know someone who might be interested, please send them my way.

If TV Newsrooms Are Requiring Versatility…

…do you really think as a PR professional that you will be immune from the need to retool and innovate?

See what the Chicago Tribune’s Phil Rosenthal reports today about restructuring at WMAQ-TV, Chicago’s NBC affiliate.

News producers, writers and editors at NBC-owned WMAQ-Ch. 5 were told Wednesday they must reapply for new multi-faceted positions, the demands of which reflect the station’s efforts to provide content not just for TV but the Internet, mobile devices and other emerging platforms.

The new jobs – with titles such as platform manager and content producer – are to be posted beginning Thursday, not just for internal candidates but outsiders as well.

In response to concerns about whether existing staff will be able to adapt, station manager Frank Whittaker says WMAQ plans to make training available.

Continue reading “If TV Newsrooms Are Requiring Versatility…”

50 Ways Marketers Can use Social Media to Improve Their Marketing

As part of her homework for Facebook 107, SMUG Student Peggy Hoffman used Facebook to send me this helpful overview list from Chris Brogan. It’s worth a look.

Social media isn’t always the right tool for the job. Not every company needs a blog. YouTube worked for BlendTec, but it might not work for your company. And yet, there’s something to this. Over the last three days, I’ve spoken to four HUGE brands in America that are considering social media for one project or another, and there are many more out there working on how these tools might integrate into their business needs. Here’s a list of 50 ideas (in no particular order) to help move the conversation along. Note: I mix PR and Marketing. They should get back together again.

50 Ways Marketers Can use Social Media to Improve Their Marketing | chrisbrogan.com.

Chris has created a nice list of some potential ways to use social media; SMUG’s objective is to give you hands-on experience using the tools, so you can go to management with confidence both that a given tool is right for your organization AND that you know how to use it.

For example, the Podcasting curriculum, and in particular the 10 Steps to Your Own FREE Podcast post, walks you through the process to recording, publishing and promoting your own personal podcast.

So please follow Peg’s example by using Facebook to share some more of these good finds (or put them in the comments below.)

Have a great weekend. I’m hoping it doesn’t rain so we can begin painting the SMUG North Annex. Video reports about our construction process will be coming soon.

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