Fort Worth isn’t Dallas

ThisIsFortWorth

Dallas and Fort Worth are separate cities, although they’re relatively close together geographically. Fort Worth Councilman Joel Burns pointed this out to The Weather Channel, lighting up the Twittersphere.

 

Cruelty to animals at veterinary clinic defies description

 

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If you don’t know already, there’s one thing you should realize about me. I love animals, dogs in particular. That’s why the recent news about the veterinarian in Fort Worth is so horrifying.

Dr. Millard L. Tierce of the Camp Bowie Animal Clinic was arrested this week on an animal cruelty charge, stemming from the lack of care given to his personal pet, a border collie kept at the clinic. The arrest warrant is chilling. He surrendered to the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Department about 7 p.m. Wednesday and was released soon after on a $10,000 bond. But there’s more, much more. A family says instead of euthanizing their sick pet the vet secretly kept the dog alive for blood transfusions.

A long-time vet, Dr. Tierce has his supporters. I’m sure throughout his career he’s helped some of his patients and pet parents, but that doesn’t excuse what’s come to light. Admittedly, why some of these dog owners didn’t ask questions in a timely manner when things seemed suspicious is worthy of discussion. Why some of the Clinic’s employees didn’t speak up, surely aware of what was happening, is also baffling to me. (The “whistleblower” in this case is a former Clinic employee.)

Horrifying? Yes. Unconscionable? Yes. Scary? Yes.

But does it really matter what word, or words, we use to describe this? Righteous indignation? Oh, yes.

How do I feel? Just plain sad.

 

 

 

Doggone good caring and marketing

When I went out of town several weeks ago, I looked for someone to take care of my dog Levi. I found DogVacay and discovered a wonderful petsitter, Abba, located close to me. Reasonable rates, I paid online, my reservations included free pet insurance and 24/7 customer support, and Abba sent daily photo updates of Levi. Awesome.

After I returned home, I got a postcard in the mail, below. Yes, I’ll be using DogVacay and Abba in the future if Levi needs special care while I’m away.

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Be prepared for “real” Twitter conversation

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When the New York City Police Department took to Twitter recently to generate some positive vibes, the effort didn’t work as planned. With social media, you can’t control the outcome, as they discovered. Twitter fail

 

Music, bravery and job hunting

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“Say what you wanna say, and let the words fall out, honestly I wanna see you be brave…”

Sound familiar? Maybe you’re singing this Sara Bareilles song right now. This is my earworm at the moment, and it relates to job search!

Regardless of the reasons why companies ask employees to leave — downsizing, restructuring, “rightsizing,” terminations, layoffs — if you’re one of the people exiting your organization, it’s a blow to your ego. No one wants to admit that, but it’s the truth. And yes, I’m one of those former employees.

How do you weather the storm? Although I don’t profess to have all the answers, I can tell you what I’ve done.

  1. Reach out to friends, family members, and professional colleagues and associates for moral support and job leads.
  2. Fine-tune your networking strategy. I especially like LinkedIn. It’s helped me reconnect with peers, and facilitated introductions to influencers and potential employers. LinkedIn also provides interesting, relevant news and insights.
  3. Consider part-time job opportunities in your field of expertise. I realize this may not be an option for everyone, but as a writer/marketing professional, it’s working for me. There are plenty of companies right now who are choosing to work with contractors. Although this arrangement isn’t a full-time job (although it could lead to one), it’s an opportunity to keep busy, learn and make new contacts. Perhaps most important — your part-time work will help pay the bills.

So job-seekers, hang in there and do some connecting. “I wanna see you be brave.”

And a note to employers (just saw this post on LinkedIn from Bloomberg):  People who have been out of work for an extended period, once hired, tend to be just as productive on the job as those with more typical work histories, according to an analysis of almost 20,000 employees.

Be brave.

Writing, speaking and writing more

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I enjoy writing, and thank goodness I do because that’s how I make my living today. I’m grateful to be working with wonderful clients on challenging assignments, and I’m always learning new things.

I also enjoy working with speakers on their presentations. This gets at my “roots” in terms of education and experience. I was a debater in high school and college, and then went on to pursue a Master of Arts in speech communication. In graduate school at the University of Arizona, I taught public speaking classes as a graduate teaching assistant, and coached debaters on the debate team. We traveled to tournaments at universities throughout the western U.S., including California, Wyoming, Colorado and Utah, all by car, from Tucson. (This is undoubtedly why I relish being by myself in a car today, listening to music I enjoy, or just spending quiet time).

Following graduate school I entered the world of health care marketing and public relations, an amazing (yet unexpected) career path that allowed me to leverage my communications skills. I believe my communications background helped me absorb the fundamentals of marketing in a distinctive way. From a communications perspective, health care marketing functions including relationship-building, promotion, increasing awareness, patient acquisition — they all made sense to me. Learning all I could about marketing and public relations was invigorating. I continued to teach public speaking on a part-time basis at area colleges and universities.

Regardless of the setting — the classroom or the boardroom — good communication skills are vital. When you’re asked to speak in front of a group, how do you feel? How do you get started working on your presentation? Here are a few of my best tips on becoming a more effective public speaker.

  1. It’s all about the audience. Who are they? Why are they listening to you? Audience members will be asking themselves “What’s in it for me?” In other words, why is what you have to say so important? Before preparing your speech, answer this question first. That should lay the groundwork for organizing your main points.
  2. Begin with the end in mind. Consider this: at the end of your presentation, what is the most important thing you’d like your audience to remember? Is there some action you’d like them to take? Working “backwards” from your conclusion should help you develop the main points of your speech to support your conclusion/call to action.
  3. Speak in terms your audience can understand. This should make perfect sense if you’ve followed the first point outlined here. As a speaker, you don’t get “extra points” or increase your credibility by using jargon (the specialized language of a professional, occupational, or other group, often meaningless to outsiders). “Cognitive dissonance,” for example, might be understood by psychology-savvy listeners or communication theorists, but at the very least, if it’s necessary to use words likely to be unfamiliar to your audience, define those terms.
  4. Visual aids should complement what you have to say, not “replace” you.  For any presenter, visuals shouldn’t become the speech. A speaker should command an audience’s attention, not a bunch of busy slides with special effects that make listeners dizzy. More isn’t always better. I don’t have a problem with visual aids, just how they’re used. Another tip: if all you’re going to do is throw up a bunch of slides and read them out loud one by one, then why are you there as a “speaker?” Just make hard copies of your presentation (or give me a link to the presentation online). There’s no need for me to listen to you. I can read your “speech” later. Good presenters engage audiences by connecting with them verbally and visually, adding information, providing examples, and relating stories that illustrate or amplify key ideas that may be depicted visually.

Now back to writing. In the past week, three people who know I’m a “corporate” writer have asked me if I’ve ever thought about writing a novel or short story. That’s next on my list.

Take time to care

Holding Hands with Elderly Patient

Years ago I was working in a hospital in a marketing/PR role. One morning I received a call from a head nurse on a medical unit. She asked if I was available to come to the floor to translate for a Spanish-speaking patient and her husband. (As I came to realize, word spreads quickly when you speak Spanish, especially when your facility serves a significant number of Hispanic patients and families.)

It wasn’t a good time. I was busy, working on a marketing plan. What an annoying interruption. Grudgingly I made my way upstairs.

The patient I came to see had just been admitted and was violently ill. (To be specific, she was vomiting, and seeing someone throw up is enough to make me want to throw up. Fortunately, I didn’t.)

I chatted with the patient’s husband, using my rusty Spanish skills. I had learned to speak Spanish in Spain as an Air Force brat in elementary school, and although I was a Spanish minor in college, not speaking Spanish on a regular basis meant my language skills were woefully inadequate. I was able to pass along some information to the nurse about the patient’s symptoms.

As I departed, I apologized to the patient’s husband for my less-than-adequate Spanish. I thanked him and wished him and his wife well.

“Your thank you is with God in heaven,” he replied in Spanish, managing to smile faintly.  I understood that much.

Really? I was surprised. He was kind and gentle, and I had entered his world at a time of crisis, feeling irritated because I didn’t have the time to help this man or his wife.

I think about this encounter occasionally, and usually the memory surfaces when I’m in a “poor me” frame of mind. I’m glad it does, because it helps me reconnect with the things in life that are most important.

Through my years of experience working in hospitals, the most satisfying accomplishments were when I helped patients and family members directly – not as an administrative person, or a marketing professional, but as someone who could interact with patients and families at a personal level.

My “thank you” from a patient’s grateful family member is something I’ll never forget. I thank this family for their kindness of spirit and patience.

Operation Rock the Warrior concert benefits military heroes

An amazing group of young musicians, Melted Vinyl, rocked Whisky a GoGo in Hollywood on Saturday, March 8 at a special fundraising event for the MARSOC Foundation, a nonprofit organization providing support to U.S. Marines Special Operations soldiers and their families. A great event for a great cause. My nephew Derek is one of the beneficiaries, along with other MARSOC heroes and families.

The story behind Operation Rock the Warrior

 

Writing the perfect first draft (there is no such thing)

As a writer, there’s nothing more frustrating than getting started. Really. (I can’t believe I just admitted that.) I’m a writer and that’s how I make my living. And I’m fully aware that some of you may find this hard to imagine.

I’m at the keyboard, starting to draft the perfect article, perfect case study, perfect report (or whatever) and the words and sentences just aren’t coming together. That’s the problem! I’m trying to assemble the “perfect” copy at the very beginning of the writing process. A first draft should be just that, a first draft, and by definition, it doesn’t need to be flawless.

I can be more of a perfectionist later in the process, but not on the first draft.

I feel better already thanks to reading this from Copyblogger.
10 Rules for Writing First Drafts
Like this infographic? Get more content marketing tips from Copyblogger.

Giving thanks this Thanksgiving

I’m grateful for friends, family and new technology. My nephew Derek’s exoskeleton is an example of one life-changing innovation.

Exoskeleton keeps Marine on active duty