3 Words

4 Jan

I often share with folks with my concept of sherpas. Finding those people whose opinions, insights and path you respect. They are out in front cutting trail and you can take their path and be part of their journey – learning and growing along the way.

I consider Chris Brogan one of my sherpas – (along with Tac Anderson, who I affectionately think of as ‘The Original Sherpa.’ Heck, that would make a great t-shirt!)

Do I always agree with the insights these two share or the path they are going down? No. But they always get me thinking, force me to revaluate my position, my opinions and develop stronger strategies and insights of my own.

Case in point – I really enjoyed the concept of 3 Words that Chris shared last week…“I come up with three words that I use as guidance for how I should conduct my efforts in the year to come. I set goals around these three words. I build deadlines and projects around these words…”

I have trouble setting resolutions. They’ve never really sat right with me. But I love a good mantra. And I love ‘3’s. 3 words? I can get behind that, stick to that and be inspired and focused through that. Per Chris’ guidance on coming up with your 3…

“Pick three words that help you the way a lighthouse helps a ship in a storm. Give yourself a word that guides you towards a powerful new opportunity, and that keeps you focused on what comes of this year. Use these words as starting points for tangible goals, SMART goals that can be measured and have dates to accomplish tasks by. These words sit above the actual goals, and set your guiding principles in place.”

Here are my 3 Words for 2011

Bones. Breath. Reach.

Bones – because this is a year where I need to really get the bones of the house in order, the infrastructure, the stability upon which to continue to build our agency. Growth has been good and good to us. Unstructured and unsupported growth would not be.

Breath – because besides needing to stop holding my breathe all the dang time I need to remember to take a breath first. Before I react, before I interrupt, before I dismiss an idea, before I say yes, before I say no.

Reach – because this year I need to extend my reach. Reach beyond the comfort zones of the groups and connections I have made to date. Expand my reach in my industry, expand the reach of my voice, reach for new opportunities.

– Jess Flynn


New Year’s Resolutions

26 Dec

“A New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other.” ~Oscar Wilde

https://i0.wp.com/farm1.static.flickr.com/151/339912423_4416699c99.jpgYup. It’s that time of year again. With the ending of 2010 and the bright new dawn of 2011 upon us, many of us are looking inward to what we perceive as our faults and what can be our New Year’s resolutions.

I’ll start: I need to figure out how to get more organized; I need to get more sleep and I need to cut back on the six-pack a day Diet Coke habit. Will these be my resolutions this year however? Probably not because I realize I don’t have the passion needed behind turning around these “bad habits”. Passion you ask? Why is that necessary? I have never been able to articulate why I choose some resolutions over others but today, I read a blog on leadership from Michael McKinney.

Today’s blog discussed the concept of setting goals as discussed in Mark Murphy’s book, Hard Goals. He reports that in a recent study of over 4000 workers, only 15 percent of them believed that their goals for this year were going to help them achieve great things. And only 13 percent thought their goals would help them maximize their full potential.

The problem,” says Leadership IQ CEO Mark Murphy,is that we are trying to execute goals we don’t really care about. The kinds of goals that lead to success ‘stimulate the brain in profoundly different ways than the goals most people set. In nearly all cases where greatness is achieved, it’s the goal that drives motivation and discipline—not the other way around’.”


The solution, says Murphy, is to create H.A.R.D. goals—targets that are:

  • Heartfelt—you’ve got to have an emotional attachment to your goal; it has to scratch an existential itch; you have to develop a heartfelt connection to the payoff.
  • Animated—goals need to be motivated by a vision, picture or movie that plays over and over in your mind.
  • Required—it needs to feel so urgent and necessary that you have no other choice but to start acting on them right here, right now. You need to place more value on the future than you do the present.
  • Difficult—goals need to drag you out of your comfort zone, activating your senses and attention.

Every goal you set needs to pass these four tests. Murphy devotes a chapter to each of these four tests. “The overwhelming majority of human beings have tremendous untapped potential but there’s nothing pushing them to access it. Setting goals that are difficult helps unleash the depth of that potential.”

This blog really spoke to me as this was the first year that I had truly met my New Year’s Resolution of “living fearlessly”. A year ago, I found myself in a constant state of regret…regretting what I didn’t do in the past because I had focused all my efforts on others and towards my career. I made the decision in December 2009, that 2010 would be the year of saying yes to the possibilities. Sounds easy right? For someone who is shy, a control-freak and a little gun-shy, this proved to be more difficult than I thought.

For me, 2010 saw a year of changing jobs and practice areas; finding love and losing it; battling chronic pain and facing a health crisis and in general, forcing myself to be a social butterfly even when every instinct told me to run and hide. Needless to say, this year was one of constant challenges. While I didn’t know at the time that I was following Murphy’s  H.A.R.D. principles, the goal of living fearlessly I had set for myself helped me through this year because I was passionate about not playing life safe as I typically did. I had promised myself, no matter what happened, I was going to go for it whenever I could. So, while I may have a few war wounds to show for my efforts this last year, I think the growth I have received both professionally and personally far outweigh those scars which will eventually fade with time.

Getting started doesn’t have to be overwhelming. For example, a goal of mine for 2010 was to run a half-marathon. Why was this a goal? Honestly, because I was told I couldn’t by my doctor. [Yes, the inner 16-year old still lives in me and when I am told I cannot do something, I immediately set out to prove whoever wrong]. But here’s the thing, I was passionate about it. So, I sat down and looked at my calendar and week by week put my training plan immediately into my calendar. I also joined two running groups which helped as well.

As Murphy state’s in his book, “First determine the timeframe for your goal—say a year. Then cut it in half and ask, “What must I have accomplished at the six-month mark in order to know that I’m on track to achieve the full HARD Goal?” Then cut that in half and ask, “What must I have accomplished at the three-month mark in order to know that I’m on track to achieve all of my six-month targets?” Continue to cut the time in half until you get to one week and then ask yourself, “What must have I have accomplished today in order to know that I’m on track to achieve all of my one-week targets?”


My challenge to each of you is to constantly make resolutions at any time of the year. Constantly challenge yourself and reevaluate your goals. Did I run my half-marathon? Yes, I did. In fact, I ran two within the course of 4-weeks which I never thought was achievable given some of my physical limitations. What’s next? Well, my goal is to accomplish an Olympic-level triathlon in the Summer of 2011. Am I scared? Do I have doubts that I can pull this off? Absolutely.  Am I going to go after this with everything in me? You bet. Again, my passion is there. If I can do it, you can too. I challenge you to find yours.

– Ashley Ford

The PR Profession: A Legendary Misconception

22 Dec

“I thought it’d be more glamorous.”

Yes, yes, we know. We’ve all seen or heard of PR people… they usually reside in L.A. or New York, plan elaborate parties, drink a lot of expensive champagne and resemble Victoria’s Secret models.


We can generally thank Samantha Jones for that. You know, the notoriously outspoken and vulgar one on Sex & the City. She’s a publicist, and is relentlessly getting her and her friends into the most exclusive parties, shopping at Gucci and Dior, and using that sharp wit of hers to sway others to get exactly what she wants.

And then there’s me.

So I’m two months into my job here at Red Sky, and have hit reality. Like a ton of bricks. From ten stories high. I’m learning more and more about the public relations industry everyday, and trust me, there’s a lot to learn. It can be intimidating and overwhelming at times. It sort of feels like everything I learned in college has no meaning (which I think about every time I open the student loan statement in the mail), and won’t until it’s applied to real-life situations. Steve Nash did not win MVP by studying the physics of basketball in a classroom for four years, now did he?

Sure, I knew better than to expect glitz and glamour. I’ll never forget the hush that fell over the crowd as my PR 275 teacher told us what the average starting wage was for public relations professionals. There were a few more empty seats after that day. But Dr. Pinkleton didn’t quite prepare me for what I’ve recently realized….

  • PR is about spending hours and hours taping up boxes and carrying stacks ten high, three blocks to FedEx.
  • It’s about having to share a bed with your boss on a business trip (Although I have not yet had the pleasure, Steph).
  • It’s about getting your tender heart hurt every time a reporter is vile and shuts down your pitch you worked so hard on, or coming across “PR Friendly” tabs on websites (that’s when you know it’s rough out there for us).
  • It’s about urgent, sudden deadlines, daily conference calls, long hours and working on the weekends. If you’re looking for a Dolly Parton 9-5, you might want to consider something else….

But you know, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Because working in PR is also about gaining self-confidence you never knew you had. It’s about learning to exceed your own expectations. It’s about learning from your well-versed coworkers and gaining valuable knowledge you can’t learn from a book.

PR is about constantly getting to meet new and exciting people. And achieving personal goals and pushing your limits.  It’s about that satisfaction you feel when you know you have helped an organization succeed through your efforts. It’s about always getting to do something fresh and new, and seeking out innovative, exciting possibilities.

Being a part of Red Sky feels like being part of a special government ops team. Or an elite club you can only be invited to join. It’s a privilege. It’s an advantage. It’s everything I had hoped for in a public relations job. It’s not what most PR college grads expect; it’s hard work. But I don’t care- I am honored to be here and excited for all the opportunities that lay ahead for me.

-Danae Castellaw