Blog Posts

At our house, there are certain chores that just never seem to get done during normal times. They might get discussed optimistically, but usually they end up taking their usual place at the bottom of the to-do-list. But these times are anything but normal. For me, darkness and daylight replaced hours and minutes. Tasks left undone due to time constraints no longer seem out of reach. Traditional chores, like cleaning the bathroom or vacuuming remain relevant. But, at least lately, these odd jobs are getting my attention.   One of those jobs sat undone in our basement for years. Half of this unfinished room directly beneath our kitchen serves as a food pantry. The other half is a workshop, of sorts. This is where light bulbs, batteries and tools live. There are paint cans, deck screws and leftover weatherstripping. But it got so cluttered and dysfunctional that my son began to add air quotes whenever the room came up in conversation. Really, Dad? “Workshop?” I took that personally. I needed my workshop back.   It had become a sad gathering place of stuff too valuable to throw away, but not important enough for its own space. Distractions were everywhere. There […]

Turning the table

Let’s start with important context. Our healthcare workers and researchers are brave, incredibly hard-working heroes. We honor all of our essential workers. Folks who care for the sick and provide for our basic necessities do it under the most trying circumstances. History will show these people were the ones who got us through this.   Any discomfort the rest of us might be feeling as we shelter in place pales in comparison. But our stories matter, too. Each of us faces a set of circumstances we’ve never faced before.   My oldest is a junior in college. He lived in a run-down college house about 650 miles away. He has friendly, loyal roommates. At school he’s independent and completely in charge. He studies hard, plays hard and has a great time. Then COVID-19 hit. His college told him to go home. He moved back into his childhood bedroom to live with Mom, Dad, a sister and a brother. Now he’s pursuing his degree in theater performance using the internet with something called Zoom. Let’s just say he’s a little grumpy.   My daughter, a senior at a Minneapolis public school, hasn’t been in class since Friday, the 13th of March. […]

Not a hero on the front lines of the pandemic? Your story still ...

Experts say it’s time “to pump the brakes” MINNEAPOLIS (March 28, 2020) – Saying there’s no time like the present, expert procrastinators from middle school to middle age and above have a message to all those non-essential Americans sheltering in place: grab the remote and put your feet up. “There are people all over this country stuck at home wondering what to do now,” said lifelong procrastinator and accomplished foot dragger Frank Bartmann (who agreed to be interviewed only under a fictitious name). “Trust me. This is not the time to repaint the kitchen.” As world health experts advise people to cancel plans, stay home and avoid crowds, Bartmann says all Type A personalities should turn to procrastinators for guidance. “We actually meant to get our message out a month ago. But, whatever. Here it is—this is our time.” Bartmann says there’s never been a better time in our nation’s history to crumple up that to-do list and toss it into the wastebasket. “We believe the results-driven go-getters of the world are playing right into the dirty hands of the coronavirus,” he said. “You all want to be first in line, first to get 1,000 followers and first to board […]

With millions homebound, America’s procrastinators say put the to-do-list away and relax

March is basketball nirvana for me. High school tournaments fill large arenas with fans, pep bands and dreams of a trip to state, while top seeded college teams and Cinderella hopefuls push for a national championship. My love of basketball and my career in public relations seem to be inextricably connected. Both were built on solid coaching, fundamentals and hustle. After earning my degree in journalism, I cut my teeth in small market TV news, covering crimes and courts, school boards and features. I chased deadlines, gained experience and put new skills to the test. On the court, my high school school playing days were over, but I searched for a way to stay in the game. After seven years in TV I switched to public relations. I knew what kind of PR person I wanted to be, based on the myriad interactions I had with them as a journalist. I started with a short stint at a large PR firm, then landed a media relations role at a large hospital and clinic system. I pitched incredible patient care stories and the media were happy to gobble them up. This was about the time I discovered a regular Sunday game […]

At work or at play, set a pace that keeps you in the game

Back in my corporate media relations days, I truly enjoyed working with colleagues who eagerly sent me story ideas to earn positive news coverage for their internal clients. Sometimes folks marched in with bona fide, slam dunk headline makers. Sometimes, bless their souls, they dropped off some real stinkers. And yet we loved the ideas, just the same. Because at a minimum, ideas were conversation starters. Conversations often led to more ideas. Sooner or later, something would stick. But every so often the pipeline of ideas would run dry. Years ago my partner and I tried to think of ways to create a steadier, more predictable flow of story ideas into our media relations office. We agreed on one thing: Sending out yet another meeting invitation to “pitch your story ideas to Ryan and Jen” was not going to get it done. Nobody had the bandwidth or the desire because these meetings usually played out like tension-filled congressional hearings. As the meeting drew closer, people began to feel the pressure to feed the insatiable media relations monster—or else. The pressure to share great ideas often smothered conversation altogether. It could also have the opposite effect, forcing people to cough up […]

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