Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Ode to Spring in the Texas Hill Country

It's an amazing time of year in the hills of Central Texas. Wildflowers bloom, tomatoes grow, peppers produce, grape vines stretch towards one another. And all the birds sing their sweet songs.

I am at peace with my hands in the dirt at Love Life Gardens. My fingers and back sore from the labor. The air gives life in these big blue skies. The smells are sweet with innocence and opportunity. Everything is new again.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

My quest to celebrate diversity in America

I seek to be a tolerant, patient and nonjudgmental person. My heart is usually in the right place, but I sometimes rush to express things before thinking about them through the perspective of others. My wife is encouraging and guiding me to grow in this area. I am grateful for her patience and wisdom.

Last week I stumbled when trying to express my desire to be part of a world in which diversity is celebrated. My intentions were good, but my communication was bad (ironic that I am a communications professional). In the process, I hurt people I love who are kind to me and my family. My heart is heavy with remorse. I have asked forgiveness, but I know scars take time to heal and that trust must be rebuilt.

I must also learn to celebrate diversity in terms of everyone's individual life experience, generation and worldview.
In New York City (where I work and spend much time) I am constantly exposed to diversity. It is part of the landscape everywhere in the city. On the subway, I love to observe diversity in race, culture and language. In a way, the subway represents an equalizer. Rich, poor and middle class people of all ages, races and religions exist together in the same place for a little while. In those moments, all are somehow more equal. 

The mindset I get in New York City does not directly translate to my home state of Texas. People in Texas are beautiful, thoughtful, kind and generous. Texans celebrate independence and self-dependence in a way that is uniquely wonderful. But Texans have a worldview that is quite different than that of New Yorkers. In Texas, I live in Austin. And people in Austin have a much different worldview than people anywhere else in Texas. Austinites embrace diversity to the point of celebration. “Keep Austin Weird” is in fact the theme of the city.

The combination of living in Austin, working in New York City and being raised in Southern California has contributed to my worldview that embraces diversity and is socially progressive. Yet, I often overlook the fact that mine is but one view. To truly celebrate diversity I must not only do so in relation to race, culture, religion, language and sexual orientation – I must also learn to celebrate diversity in terms of everyone’s individual life experience, generation and worldview. This is an important lesson I learned this week.

When I make mistakes interacting with others, I try to focus inward. The last few days, I’ve thought about my life. I’ve thought about times when my son told me that things I said or did were inappropriate or insensitive. I’ve remembered my father telling me about his childhood. He shared some of the phrases people used commonly back in the 1940s that would today be completely inappropriate. I thought about phrases I’ve used in my life that were totally inappropriate, considering when I stopped using them and if I was still in fact using some.

This inward thinking has led me to realize that we are all to some extent racist or at the least insensitive to others. None of us are completely right or wrong on the issue of diversity. We are each progressing through phases of perceptions, understanding and tolerance. In my quest to celebrate diversity in America, I now have a greater desire to personally listen more to people of other races and cultures.

Over the last few days, I took time to sit down with a few people and ask about their unique life experiences. I met a saxophonist from the Bronx who loves jazz so much that he adjusts his entire life to play it as often as possible. His music and stories touched my heart and soul. A cabbie from Brooklyn who happens to be Muslim told me about being born in Macon, Georgia, moving to with his family to New York City and encouraging his children to embrace being different. Their stories have enriched my life and broadened my worldview.

A beautiful thing about this world is that everyone truly has a unique story to tell. Here’s one such story from Milton Creagh about his father: Overcoming Racism and Why It's Pointless to Hate.

To enjoy these stories and celebrate diversity, all we have to do is ask. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

LinkedIn: How Professionally Connected are the 2012 GOP Presidential Candidates

LinkedIn is arguably the most important social networking website for business professionals in America. I was interested to see how the current crop of 2012 GOP presidential candidates were represented on LinkedIn. The results are indeed interesting.

Below are the LinkedIn profiles and some key statistics for each of the current GOP candidates. Candidates are listed in order of rank based upon the following criteria: do they have a profile, how well are the profiles completed, links to website / social pages, how many connections and how many recommendations.

1. Ron Paul - Profile: Yes, Extensive Details, 3 Links, 500+ Connections, 16 Recommendations
2. Newt Gingrich - Profile: Yes, Moderate Details, 1 Link, 500+ Connections, 4 Recommendations
3. Rick Perry - Profile: Yes, Few Details, 4 Links, 500+ Connections, 1 Recommendation
4. Rick Santorum - Profile: Yes, Almost No Details, 1 Link Working (2 Broken Links), 358 Connections, 0 Recommendations
5. Mitt Romney - Profile: Not Really, No Details, 0 Links, 0 Connections, 0 Recommendations
6. Michele Bachmann * - Profile: No, No Details, 0 Links, 0 Connections, 0 Recommendations
7. Jon Huntsman * - Profile: No, No Details, 0 Links, 0 Connections, 0 Recommendations
*Note: You will have to log in to LinkedIn in order to see search results for candidates that do not have a public profile on LinkedIn.

Other 2012 Presidential Candidates:
Herman Cain * - Profile: No, No Details, 0 Links, 0 Connections, 0 Recommendations
Barack Obama - Profile Yes, Moderate Details, 3 Links, 500+ Connections, 0 Recommendations

It is also worth noting that some of the candidates do have LinkedIn Groups dedicated to their 2012 Presidential run.

Movember Reminds Men to See Doctors for Annual Check Up and Cancer Screening

Another Movember has come and gone. Another month of manly mustaches were grown by many a men to encourage men worldwide to see their doctors for their annual check up and cancer screening. This year I was proud to be a member of the team Fantastico Mustachios, who raised over $8,000 in our combined fund raising efforts. All proceeds go to support issues around men's cancer, including the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

My 16-year-old son supported my Movember campaign this year by growing an impressive 'stache in his own right. In the photo, Ayrton and I ponder the ever increasing importance of Movember to men's health. We encourage everyone to get a check up with your doctor and help the fight against men's cancer.

You can still contribute to the cause @

Monday, September 5, 2011

5 Days & Nights @ the 2011 US Open Tennis Championships in New York City

A montage of photos and videos I took while attending the first five days and nights of the 2011 US Open Tennis Championships at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, New York.

The music is "Remember the Name" by Fort Minor. Please support this artist by buying and playing their music.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

MOVEMBER: Top Ten NFL Mustaches

In honor of this Movember Sunday full of football, I have compiled a top ten list of the greatest NFL Mustaches. I'm sure my selected order and omissions will create controversy and spark some lively mustache debate. My credentials were: look, style, image and how it contributed to their identity as a football player. Here we go:

#10. The Original Buccaneer

#9. Mike Ditka

#8. Scott Player

#7. Cliff Harris

#6. Drew Pearson

#5. Jack Lambert

#4. Walter Payton

#3. Joe Namath

#2. Ben Davidson

#1. Conrad Dobler

This list is inspired by MOVEMBER and the fight against men's cancer. If you wish to support this worthy cause, please donate to our team the Mostachio Fantasticos. You can also Like our team page on Facebook.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Social Media Grows Up & Delivers R.O.I.

When it comes to advertising, I have always been a much bigger fan of programs that drive business results than those that win awards for creativity. I guess this is timely being that everyone gets so geared up about creative TV ads during the Super Bowl. Today's big trend in advertising and marketing is social media. It's so hot these days that Pepsi even made big news by ditching their normal Super Bowl ad spend in order to fund The Pepsi Refresh Project, their 2010 social media initiative.

I've been fortunate enough to work in the social media industry for many years at companies like BOSSdev and Powered. It's been enjoyable watching social media evolve from a little something that innovative clients would fund as a proof of concept into what is today an important component of most marketing plans.

One marketing professional I follow and admire who is very versed and steadfastly focused on the R.O.I. of social media is Olivier Blanchard aka The Brand Builder. Olivier has a nice style about his presentations. They are engaging, relevant and entertaining. But do not mistake his style, for lack of substance. He delivers plenty of substance and advice on how to track the business results of your social media efforts (hint: it's about more than tracking media). Here's a great presentation by Olivier on the basics of social media R.O.I.

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