How would YOU like to be remembered?

It's amazing sometimes where inspiration finds you.  For those of you who write regularly, you know that there are days when it "works" and days where you couldn't beg your way into a coherent and cohesive article.  But then, suddenly, out of the blue, there it is: the "A ha!" Well, this time, I can thank one of my Facebook friends, "Beth" (I won't reveal her whole name or FB profile in case she is keeping it private, but email me if you'd like to connect), for the inspiration.  Just two days ago, here's what she shared on FB:

Today I shall behave ... as if this is the day I will be remembered.

~ Dr. Seuss

Wow...Dr. Seuss said THAT?  I mean, yes, I think he's brilliant with all the great things he has written (I mean, really, who can get past "Green Eggs and Ham"), and he was very in-tune with how to connect with kids -- and adults-- but this isn't something I would have expected from the professional "silly guy."
It's profound wisdom, really. Think about it: if you KNEW someone was looking at you...right here, right now...how WOULD you conduct yourself? Would you be yelling at your child? Dressing down an employee? Belittling a spouse or friend? Would you lie? (allright, we KNOW plenty of people DO lie on camera, but I truly believe they think no one KNOWS they are lying...let's not go THERE, ok?)  Would you wear your rattiest, most disheveled clothes, hair unkempt, teeth unbrushed? Generally I think most of us would say, no.

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The benefits of “Apology Tours”

What do Chris Brown, Tiger Woods, Mel Gibson, and Jesse James all have in common?  They've all had the opportunity to experience what's now known as the "apology tour."

Seems this is a new trend. Celebrity or otherwise famous person gets caught doing wrong. They not only admit to the wrongdoing, but then they launch a whole PR/Press campaign going 'round and telling their adoring public how sorry they were.

I dunno...this smacks more of another press opportunity and attempt at gaining visibility than a genuine effort to take responsibility and make up for one's mistakes? After you've read the same speech (or variation thereof) carefully prepared by your PR machine for the 10th, 15th or 50th time, how personal and real does it seem?

I would like to believe that the remorse and need to take responsibility for one's wrongdoings is authentic.  But it's interesting to analyze what occurs as a result of these mega-media opps.  If you consider that celebrities are rated on an "appeal factor," and watch what happens to this factor when the celeb blows it, you can see why an apology tour is so...appealing.

Tiger's numbers plummeted 30 points when the parade of mistresses began.  When he provided his now-famous "falling on his sword" interview at Sawgrass, the free-fall of his appeal factor slowed. Interesting, it hasn't recovered since then, but at least the hemorraghing was halted.

Chris Brown had a similar experience -- there hasn't been much bounceback after his public apology.  Jesse James?  Too soon to tell, but he wasn't a hugely popular "positive" figure to begin with.

All this analysis of appeal factors and the impact of public apologies does lend more credibility to the idea that it's more about "ratings" than it is about truly being sorry. It would seem to me that if you were truly sorry, you could express that from the bottom of your heart, rather than need an over-scripted speech. Now, I'm not saying they AREN'T sorry, but communicating that in a personal, heartfelt waywould go much farther to restoring the public's faith in the celebrity than the glossiest press opp.

Instead of another fancy public outing, perhaps next time the celeb's can save themselves a lot of cash and stress and do what most of us do: keep our personal business to ourselves, make our apologies to those we have wronged, and do what we can to make it up to them.

After all, actions speak much louder than words.

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The “It’s all about ME” decade

I was recently asked to comment for a media article about how I would define this decade.  Originally the question involved technology advances -- the things we have and use now that we didn't in the 1990's.  As I was looking at the list, it dawned on me...those things that have really exploded this decade are things that promote and market...US.

From what we’ve seen in the past several years, I suggest we call this the “All about Me Decade.”  Whether it’s expressed via MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, reality TV or any other number of outlets, our society seems to have spent increasing amounts of time being self-absorbed and self-focused, and believe everyone else will care, too.  Incidents such as Kanye West’s outburst upstaging Taylor Swift and even Tiger Woods’ dalliances shows that too many people seem to think that “if it’s all right with me, it’s all right.”

We take pictures on our ever-present cell phones, not thinking about whether doing so is appropriate or potentially intrusive to others, and can't wait to post them on the Internet for all to see.  We post "info" about our latest meal or even, heaven forbid, bathroom break, and expect people to follow with rapt attention. We strive to see how many "friends" we can collect on online social networks, believing somehow that this validates our importance. We're linked-in, followed, tweeted, IM'd, tagged and bleeped on all ends, at all times, with no relief in sight.

Is it all so terribly important or necessary?  Do people really CARE so much about so much trivia?  Our personal and professional relationships are suffering because we spend so much time "relating" to each other via a sterile, unemotional keyboard.  I say these practices can actually be harmful.  I, for one, have learned things about one of my friends I connected with via Facebook that really have me thinking twice about her character and personality -- now that I've seen a certain side of her via the Internet, I'm not sure I'd want a closer relationship in "Real Life."

Our techno tools have also led to a decrease in basic decency and civility.  We talk over each other on TV and real life -- he with the loudest voice and most persistence wins. It's nothing to 'dis someone via an IM.  Or dump a boy/girlfriend through a text message.  We gossip online, cyberstalk and bully anonymously, sharing it all at the click of a mouse for all the world to participate.  Heck, we even even join in when a suicide is broadcast on the Net, encouraging the victim to hurry up and get it over with.  And, if we're caught...well, it can all be explained away with a giggled "Opps, my bad."

I know this hasn't been all the decade has had to offer, but it's some of the lowest of the low, certainly.  It's an indication of how little we think of others, but how much we think of ourselves.

Since it's New Year's I suggest we make a resolution:  Let's work together to build a new legacy for the next decade.  I suggest if 2000-2009 was the "Decade about Me" let's make 2010-2019 "The Decade about WE."  Let's spend more time thinking of others than of ourselves.  Let's direct more energy toward bettering the lives of others than gathering more stuff for us. Let's teach our children the value of community and relationships and show them that kindness is valuable and priceless.

If we do so, just imagine what the recap for the next generation could look like. I'd drink a toast to that.  Care to join me?

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