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October 6, 2009

Lewis Street Glass Co.I shouldn’t say this out loud, but, sometimes, I get tired of branding. Not the purpose, the tools or the process — just the artificiality of branding for branding’s sake. Maybe that’s why I’ve always had this strange fascination with the Lewis St. Glass Co.  I have seen their trucks for years — neat, white trucks with cool trailers for hauling huge pieces of glass. But, that’s not it. Lots of companies have neat, white trucks hauling interesting objects.

It’s the name — the simple brand name. Lewis St. Glass sounds like a company that is family-owned and based in a neighborhood. The Lewis Street people don’t pretend to be something they’re not. When you need glass, you can count on them.

As bad luck would have it, I did need glass recently. I had another cracked windshield, thanks to our dirt/gravel road. Who came to mind? Exactly. Lewis St. Glass.

Turns out the company has moved from Lewis Street to a big new garage, in another neighborhood on the edge of downtown. Good for them; they’re growing. They were ready for us when we arrived — and completed the job 30 minutes faster than expected. The nice receptionist took my check. The nice installer gave me advice regarding no car washes for 24 hours. And, I snagged a pen on the way out. By the way, the pen is just a pen. It doesn’t uncork wine bottles or double as a laser. You can bet it writes great, though.

I’ve forced myself not to see if Lewis St. Glass has a web site. I don’t want my image of them to be tarnished. For me, they’re the perfect brand. They say who they are and deliver on what they promise. Long live Lewis St. Glass.

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(Guest blog post on www.lifemeetswork.com)

LifeMeetsWorkA funny thing happened on the way to my home office. Actually, it’s not all that funny. I’ve lost my knack for time management. Here’s why.

Read more here:  http://www.lifemeetswork.com/blog/blogdetail.asp?sectionID=3&articleID=150

Job title dilemma

August 4, 2009

top-logo[1](Guest blog post on www.lifemeetswork.com.)

I have lived the “life meets work” philosophy for almost 20 years now. It’s not because I discovered the trend early. I simply married into a farm family. Even in today’s world, farm families have an uncanny approach to integrating work and life. Case in point: New tractors still come with a “companion seat” option, for kids to ride along.

Lately, though, I struggle for an answer when a professional acquaintance asks me what I do. Read more here: http://www.lifemeetswork.com/blog/blogdetail.asp?sectionID=3&articleID=128.

Iva Lou

July 6, 2009

Souders Historical Farm-MuseumIva Lou would be the first to admit that words like “public relations,” “strategic planning,” “messaging,” and “goal-setting” are not part of her every-day vocabulary. Yet, she’s a master at them, in her own unique way.

I’ve learned much from Iva Lou these past few months. She asked for my help to develop a brochure for Souders Historical Farm-Museum, a 10-acre tract near Cheney, Kan., that recreates rural and small-town life in the late 1800s to mid-1950s. The museum was created by her brother, Floyd, and his wife, Norma — an amazing couple who dedicated their lives to preserving history.

When Floyd and Norma died, Iva Lou was left in charge of the estate and the museum. This is quite an undertaking for an 83-year-old woman, who would much rather spend her time playing the piano, gardening or doing crafts.

I was thrilled to help, as our family has toured the museum over the years and even has family photos and artifacts on display. I went into our first meeting full of ideas re: a web site, volunteer outreach efforts, special visitor days, etc. Iva Lou politely, but decisively, told me her goal was simple — develop a brochure so visitors could tour on their own, saving her the ongoing hassle of finding volunteer tour guides. She wasn’t interested in “raising awareness” — as we PR-types say. She was just fine with the family reunions they have scheduled year after year, as well as the handful of regular visits from school and church groups. Anything more would require staff and budget she just didn’t have. I admit that it was hard to hold back. The museum has so much potential. That potential may have to wait for another time.

We will have the brochure wrapped up in time for the many visitors during Cheney’s 125th anniversary celebration this August. I am proud to have helped Iva Lou make museum visits more meaningful for her guests.

Along the way, I have enjoyed our many chats on history, women’s rights,  mothering, yoga, Oprah, religion, country life and so much more.  I hope I find another reason to visit Iva Lou at her Ivy Laurel acres farm.

Followers and leaders

June 5, 2009

“You have to be a good follower to be a good leader.”
“Rarely do we have total situational awareness.”
“The uniform represents organizational trust that those who wear it have been thoroughly trained and have integrity.”

Those were some of the insights shared by 2nd Lt. Nick Mercurio and Sharon Hamric, McConnell Air Force Base communicators, at our recent PRSA Kansas lunch. Mercurio is chief of public affairs and Hamric is chief of community relations.

I was impressed — inspired, even — by their commitment to honestly and ethically communicate the McConnell story and raise awareness of the base and its service members. Mercurio’s comments regarding decision-makers, and the lack thereof in the corporate world, was particularly striking.

His personal example: He graduated last year with a bachelor’s in English from the Air Force Academy. He was immediately assigned to be chief of public affairs for the base, with not one day’s worth of real-world experience. Not a problem, he says, thanks to four years worth of leadership training and character development at the academy. The training prepared him to gather the necessary intelligence and then make the best decision based on that intelligence. Does he always make the right decision? No. But, he does always strive to make the best decision, based on the information available. He gives no apologies for making a decision.

A simple, but not an easy, methodology that I hope to emulate.

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