Help Yourself

26 09 2008

Maria and I have really felt called lately to get more involved with helping the homeless.  We decided to hook up with Good Works in Athens, Ohio. In their own words Good Works is:

“A community of hope for those struggling with poverty in rural Appalachia. We provide biblical hospitality through The Timothy House (our shelter for the rural homeless), The Hannah House (our long term residential care-community), job experience programs, creative volunteer service opportunities and community development ministries in the context of Christian Community.”

Last Friday, Maria and I took a tour of their grounds and got a brief overview of what they do.  I was amazed at all the programs they have and how they are able to do so much with so little.  However what really impressed me was their philosophy and approach to how they serve.  The very people they serve are the ones who maintain the GW mission.  For instance, GW has car donation program.  If a person wants to recieve a car from GW, they need to earn 24 points.  You earn points by spending an afternoon maintaining the grounds, serving at one of the houses or working one of the many other programs they have.  Instead of being a place where people can come and find help, they can come and find how they can help themselves.  This is a much less degrading process, and shows the individuals that they can take control and responsibility of their own lives.

The more I thought about this, the more I realized that this is what social media is all about.  Helping people help themselves.  No longer are we dependent on “experts” to explain how things work, we now have the power to discover on our own with the help of other people just like us.  Again, this has become a less degrading process and has encouraged a whole new generation of responsible consumers.



23 09 2008

I’ve been energrized!  A wave of blog posts has bubbled up in me, so get ready…

As is customary for the start of the school year, Aaron Brown from Fahlgren Mortine came and spoke at our PRSSA meeting today.  He brought his A-game again and really challenged me to think about what it is that I do as a PR practitioner.

I started going down the list:

– Cultivate Relationships

– Follow Market Trends

– Communicate Key Messages

The list could go on and on.  However, the more I looked at it, the more I began to think that public relations is more than just strategies; we do something larger.  What I propose good PR Practitioners/CIO (Chief Integration Officers as Aaron Brown puts it) do is create value for their brand/product.

Let’s think about this for a second.  What is the intrinsic value of a Big Mac or a Data Cooling Center or a politician’s credentials?  I’d say they have no value at all.  However, when people are made aware of them, they can then be given a price tag, earn a reputation or grow exponentially.

Here’s another way to look at it:

Say I go into my room and find the cure for the common cold.  I find a way to mass produce it and keep the price down so no one will ever have to be sidelined from the sniffles again.  However, I decide to never take it out of my room or tell anyone my secret.  What I did in that room becomes completely worthless.

But if I decide to share my work with the world, instantly the cure can be given a value – and not just a price tag, but something worth time, energy, conversation etc.

This idea excites and invigorates me to no end.

Idea Machine

21 04 2008

I have ideas. Many different ideas actually. I’d wager to say though that you have ideas too; we all do. But I think my ideas are special and I want to save them for that right moment to get a “wow” from my next employer. But I’m afraid… I’m afraid that one day the ideas will run dry, and when they turn to me and say

“What should we do, Aaron?”

I’ll freeze and look like a “one-idea-wonder”.

But last Friday I found ideas I didn’t know I had. I went to lunch with a good friend of mine, Paul Matson and as we sat around – first at a bar having lunch, then out on his roof playing djembe and guitar – and talked. We talked about everything, from communications to politics to life in Athens. Paul had some great insights into many things I never thought of, but that’s not what surprised me (not because his ideas weren’t great, but because I’ve come to expect him to bring interesting thoughts to the table). What shocked me was some of the ideas I had. Things that I knew, but never articulated. And once I got them out there and talked them out with someone, I found new value in them.

This made me wonder, “why haven’t I talked these ideas out before?” So I came up with a list – Top five reasons we are “Idea Hoarders”

1) Like my example above, we want to save our ideas for that right moment in order to get “fully appreciated” for our thoughts.

2) It’s not socially acceptable to have ideas. Just try to think back to the last time you were in class and the prof asked a question that you knew that answer to, but didn’t raise your hand… you know what I mean.

3) We’re afraid of idea thieves. We know that someone’s around the corner waiting to take what we have and run with it.

4) We’re just not smart enough. That guy over there has better ideas so why embarrass ourselves and get shown up by the real geniuses.

5) Ideas take time to grow and it’s 73 degrees outside and my dog, Cubbie is here with me. I’m going outside to play.

These are all reasons I’ve used to swallow my words and keep my thoughts to myself. But think about the last really good idea you had and what you did with it. If you kept it to yourself, talk about it with someone – a friend, a teacher or even your mom – and see where it goes. You’ll be surprised at what your capable of, I was.