What a difference in four years!

It was four years ago today that I started a blog called “Lines from Lee” with this post.

So much has happened in that time, and I have documented the progress with highlights posts on the first, second and third birthdays of my blog.

So this is my fourth in an annual series related to how blogging and involvement in social media has changed my life. I do more of a personal year-in-review sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas, which is the time when I thank God for his many blessings to me and our family (such as our two grandchildren, and my son getting married next month.) More reflections on those in December.

The last year has been so crazy, it’s hard to know where to begin in recounting it.

Trips to the Netherlands (with a brief stop in London) and Paris, my first ventures outside North America, are a good place to start. But visits for presentations on social media to Miami, Indianapolis (twice), Omaha, Washington DC (twice), Idaho, Arizona, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Green Bay, Madison, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, New York (thrice), Pittsburgh, Boca Raton, San Francisco, Orlando, Boston, Cooperstown, San Diego, North Carolina, Des Moines and Lake Ozark, Missouri as well as several trips to Chicago and various points within Minnesota have been memorable too. So were the videoconferences to Zurich and Toronto.

I can’t even begin to mention all the great people I’ve gotten to meet, because it would take all day. And since I’m writing this on the bus on the way to work, I have to move it along. Especially with the announcement we made this week of our new Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media. We’ve got lots of work to do as we get this ramped up. As you might imagine, I’m seriously jazzed about it.

When I got back from New York on Wednesday after the announcement of the center, my team at work had a celebration ready, complete with balloons, gluten-free treats and a new sign on my office door (click to enlarge):

(I’m pretty sure our brand standards group isn’t going to let us use that poster officially.)

What a team! I do want to mention them: Joyce Groenke, Dana Sparks, Joel Streed and Laurel Kelly. They’ve been the core group for our syndication and social media team, and they also help tweet on our @MayoClinic account.

And our broader media relations team, led by Karl Oestreich and including Traci Klein, Amy Tieder, Bob Nellis, Rebecca Finseth, Elizabeth Rice, Bryan Anderson, Kevin Punsky, Paul Scotti, and Lynn Closway have all contributed to our social media efforts (particularly YouTube videos related to research news.) It’s hard to know where to stop with this, but Hoyt Finnamore, Cory Pedersen, Linda Donlin, Kathy Barbour, Evelyn Tovar and Julie Janovsky-Mason have done great work with social media on our internal communications team, too, as have our education, research and marketing groups.

The idea has been not to have a huge social media “silo” but to instead get everyone in Public Affairs using these powerful tools to do their regular work. To infuse social media thinking and strategies into everything we do. And with our new Center for Social Media, we aim to provide training and resources to all 56,000 employees at Mayo Clinic while also offering some of those same tools and guidance to other health-related organizations.

Tonight I’m going to have another new experience, as I will be doing a live TV interview on Almanac, the weekly public affairs program produced by Twin Cities Public Television.

In my previous career I frequently accompanied my employers (government officials or political candidates) to the tpt (not sure why they don’t capitalize) studios for their guest appearances. It’s going to be really weird to be the guy sitting between Erik and Cathy for one of the early segments of the program, which airs at 7 p.m on channel 2 in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.

If you live in Minnesota and can get channel 2, I hope you’ll tune in tonight at 7. I hope I don’t look too much like this:

A GREAT Birthday

Yesterday was my birthday, and it was one of my more memorable ones.

The highlight was watching two of my daughters, Rebekah and Ruth, graduate with High Distinction from Riverland Community College, receiving their AA degrees. They are the third and fourth of our children to take advantage of Minnesota’s Post Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) program, which enables industrious high school juniors and seniors to take college classes for simultaneous high school credit. Like Rachel and Jake before them, these two graduated from the community college before they graduated from high school (Rebekah’s Austin High graduation is in a couple of weeks.) Here’s a picture of our recent graduates with their proud parents:


Lisa, Rebekah, Me and Ruth
Lisa, Rebekah, Me and Ruth

I also was extremely pleased to receive birthday greetings from my granddaughter in Grand Rapids, MI, via her parents’ blog:


Evelyn Grace Borg wishing Grandpa Happy Birthday
Evelyn Grace Borg wishing Grandpa Happy Birthday

I got a nice call from my son Jake, too. He lives in La Crosse, WI.

From a work perspective, it was a milestone day, as well. The video embedded below, which will be the subject of a future case study, cracked the 1 million mark in total views on YouTube. When I embedded it on our Sharing Mayo Clinic blog on April 7, it had been viewed 1,005 times over the preceding six months. As of this writing it’s at 1,108,201 views (and also was featured on the front page of msn.com yesterday, where it has been seen more than 133,000 times.)


It’s an interesting story that will, as I said, become a future case study…but I have a feeling it’s not done yet. But meanwhile you can get a bit of the back story through this great post on Sharing Mayo Clinic by Jodi Hume, who uploaded the video of the Cowans after her mother, Sharon Turner, a Mayo Clinic patient, shot it. I’ve never been associate with a “viral” video before, so it’s been fun watching the traffic for this one continue to grow.

We also have been delighted to have company for the last three days, as Rick and April Kelley and their children Christian, Gabe, Jake, Elijah, Grace, Ryle and Micah visited us from Louisville. Ruthie and Christian are “exclusive friends,” which is the motivation for the 700+ mile trip, but our families have become close, too.

The many Happy Birthday wishes I received on Facebook and Twitter were touching, too. It’s amazing how these social platforms can bring people together.

Lisa and I are so thankful to God for our many blessings. And if I’ve had a better birthday, I don’t remember it. This is one I won’t be forgetting.