Category Archives: Current Events

#WhyIMarch

My head has been spinning for months now trying to articulate how I feel to the Internet. I’ve been afraid to share my true feelings with the world. I’m not sure what changed but I’m ready now..and I won’t apologize for how I feel. 

Thankfully, we all are allowed to feel however we want. The range of emotions in this country (and around the world) right now is powerful. From love to hate, from proud to petty, from afraid to awakened. The list is long. I beg all of you to keep feeling, no matter what. And express those feelings respectfully. 

On Friday, I watched our 45th president get sworn into office. I watched. I listened. I learned. It is history. On Saturday, I marched. Before you assume, please let me clear it up for you: I did not march because of the president. I marched so that all of our elected officials and people (not just men) around the world know that women’s right as just as important as anything else. More specifically: I marched for my beautiful, strong baby img_3281sister, who I pray never loses her sense of self and stays as confident as she is today (at almost fourteen). I marched for the strong woman who raised me, who sacrificed so I could have. And for my father who has never once disrespected me or asked me to silence my voice. I marched for my grandparents who started lives here and built them as best they could for us. I marched for the women and men who have encouraged me to think deeper, go further, to want more. I marched for every woman who came home and was met with a fist. For those whose dignity was taken from them. For those who never had a choice. That’s why I marched. The beauty of such a movement is that we all marched for different reasons. It was and always will be personal. 

For me, Saturday’s march was not about right or wrong. Republican or Democrat. It was about using my voice for good. To stand up for something bigger than myself. To make it known to the every sexist man on this God green earth that women matter. That no means no. That my gender should not determine my pay or my rights. 

Let me also say I know good men. Many marched beside me. Even those who didn’t, you are still good men who empower women and are fighting the good fight next to us. I am NOT saying all men are wrong or bad or sexist. But some are. I hope those some were watching. 

To the women who didn’t march or say it was a waste of time, I respect your choice. However, please don’t put other women down. That does nothing for us. And no matter how you feel, we are an us. Empowered women empower women. 

I don’t feel oppressed. But the fact is I make less than my male counterpart. And even though I don’t feel oppressed doesn’t not mean I can’t stand up for the oppressed. That’s called empathy, this world needs more of it. 

I have never been more proud to be an American. A woman. A sister, daughter and friend. I will remain proud and will continue to make my voice heard. 

group-shot-march

Starting the Conversation

For those who don’t know, May is Mental Health Awareness Month. An entire month is dedicated to these debilitating diseases that impact approximately 57.7 million Americans over the age of 18. The first step is truly generating that awareness and starting the conversation.

The problem we face today is the stigma around mental illness. It should be treated like any other disease. Just because the symptoms aren’t always visible doesn’t mean they aren’t real. Anxiety, addiction and others paralyze people in ways that are indescribable. Unless you’ve experienced it, you should not judge.

I apologize if this post sounds like a rant; that’s not my intent. I know too many people who suffer in silence from mental illness. Mental health is just as important as physical health and people should realize that. Without your mind, you’re just a body wandering around. Talking about it will ultimately help save lives.

Over the weekend, a Temple alum and successful professional athlete, died at the age of 25. The cause of death was confirmed as a suicide yesterday. This was someone who had everything going for him. What could have possibly been that bad?! We will never know. If he only would have talked to someone and been vulnerable enough to admit something was wrong, could that have saved his life?

kindnessI think about him and others and wonder: If we as a society embraced mental wellness more, would people suffering be more comfortable talking about it? Today, I am inviting you to start that conversation with me – share experiences, offer advice or just listen. The quote to the left is our reminder that you just don’t know what people are experiencing. Approach your day with empathy and a smile – it could change someone’s world.

Slam Dunk Controversy

If you’ve been near a television, radio or basically any social media outlet over the last couple of days, you’ve heard about Donald Sterling and his less than appealing commentary. In short, Sterling made negative comments about his girlfriend being friends with “blacks” and said he did not want them at his games. Once the audio of his remarks were made public, Clippers players as well as the NBA were outraged. In response, the NBA banned Sterling for life and fined him $2.5 million dollars. Anyone else think Sterling is kicking himself right now?!

As PR people (note applicable to all human beings), this mess can serve as a teaching moment for several reasons. Numero uno: Nothing you say is private if your life is public, meaning if you live in the public eye, you are vulnerable to have whatever you say and do examined by the world. In Sterling’s case, the comments he made were said in private but clearly it didn’t make a difference. It’s important to make our clients aware of this and make sure they know what they can and cannot say in various situations.

donald sterlingPoint number two: Trust no one. Now, this is a hard sell because you need people in your life to talk to. But for those in the public eye, it’s important for them to realize not everyone should know every detail of their lives. There are bad people out there who just want to get close to someone for the story or the almighty dollar. Public figures and celebrities need to keep this in the back of their minds.

No one is denying that what Sterling said was completely wrong. He should be held accountable for his actions regardless of where or when he made these comments. One could argue, though, that more severe acts have been committed with minimal consequences. For example, Riley Cooper of the Philadelphia Eagles made racist comments at a concert. He was fined as a result of his actions but is still an active player within the NFL. I understand each sport’s leadership is different but Sterling’s lifetime ban versus Cooper’s fine makes me wonder. Other athletes, say Michael Vick for example, have gotten away with far worse too.

The bottom line is people, public figures or otherwise, need to be held accountable for their actions. PR people need to aid their clients in being responsible for their words and actions. Donald Sterling’s situation is unfortunate but can be used as a lesson for all of us.

How Do You Define Success?

Lean In” and Sheryl Sandberg have permeated every news channel, major corporation and magazine cover during the last couple of months. The book has been wildly successful and Sandberg has led an army of mainly women in the charge for equality in the workplace. While her book is very helpful and it’s great companies want to aid women in the work/life balance struggle, “Lean In” is not a gospel for every woman out there.

The work/life balance is such a personal issue for men and women alike that no one prescribed way can be applied to everyone’s situation. In reality, it comes down to how you define success. Is is a c-suite office, a certain pay grade, or having happy, responsible children? I can’t answer that question for you and neither can Sheryl Sandberg. What we can do, as women fighting for a better tomorrow, is lift each other up rather than bring one another down.

acsuccessSuccess is one of those obscure topics like happiness. There’s the dictionary definition but that can’t possibly capture everyone’s feelings on these sometimes lofty out-of-reach ideas. A co-worker recently shared a Harvard Business Review (HRB) article that eloquently addressed the topic of success saying “You have to define what success means to you—understanding, of course, that your definition will evolve over time.” I experienced this epitome earlier in the week when I made the conscious decision to attend my fitness class instead of staying later at work. As a young professional, my career is top of mind, but since the start of 2014, my health has become a top priority too. Right now, being successful means taking time for myself, whether that is a yoga class or a manicure.

It is easy to define success right now as a single, young professional with no responsibility to anyone but myself. However, I know it will gradually become harder, when I add a significant other and children to the mix. That is why I enjoyed the HBR article so much; it is okay for your definition of success to change as your grow and figure out what you want from this life. I look at others my age and occasionally question their lack of ambition. But who am I to define success for them? I can’t want for others what they don’t want for themselves. We can’t define success for anyone else but ourselves.

I think that having a clear definition of success and sharing it with your board of directors is important. Of course,definesuccess you can change this definition whenever you need to, but keeping it top of mind will help you make tough decisions. If you define success as being home with your children by 6 p.m. three nights a week, write it on a post-it, share it with your team and make it happen! I doubt it will always be easy and sometimes you’ll have to sacrifice, but keeping your definition of success top of mind should help.

How do you define success? Please share your thoughts with me in the comments section!

 

In Remembrance

Last night, I slept at my cousin’s apartment which happens to be right next to the 9/11 Memorial. Even at 10pm last night, security was present, blocking off streets and redirecting traffic. This morning, there was an NYPD officer at every corner, every subway entrance and at every building entrance. Who could have imagined the events of September 11, 2001 and now, no one can forget them.

I can tell you every detail about that day, from sitting in my 6th grade social studies classes, watching students leave school one by one to sitting outside at recess wondering with my friends what was going on. I distinctly remember meeting my mom at the bus stop and thinking how weird it was since our bus stop was only three houses away. I remember the entire two-minute conversation I had with my dad and the feeling of relief I had when I knew he was alright. I remember the first images I saw and the great sadness I felt. I remember it all.

At the time, all of my parents worked in Manhattan as well as almost all of my aunts and uncles. Our lives could have turned out a lot differently that day. I know it effected my dad and stepmom, who lost lots of friends. I know my aunts and uncles will never forget watching the plane burst into flames as it hit the first tower. I can’t help but feel eternally grateful that my loved ones returned home safely that day, when so many others didn’t.

As I commuted to work this morning, I thought about those who lost their lives 12 years ago today. The only crime they committed was going to work. They were innocent. Now being someone who goes into Manhattan every day, what happened that day hits me even harder. All those people did was go to work like they were supposed to. Today is truly an example of how quickly life can change.

We should not sit and cry all day today, though we might want to. Hug your loved ones a little tighter and celebrate your life. And never forget what happened on 9.11.01.

911

Shock Value of a Selfie

If you were in 10 feet of a television or computer yesterday, you heard about or even saw Rolling Stone Magazine’s controversial cover for their August 3rd publication. The cover features surviving Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhohkar Tsarnaev with the headline “The Bomber.” The tagline underneath reads “How a popular, promising student, failed by his family, fell into radical Islam and became a monster.” The picture, taken by Tsarnev himself, has also been featured on the front page of the New York Times. The magazine hasn’t even hit newsstands yet but already stirred up the emotions of many. 

When the cover appeared all over the Internet yesterday, people were outraged. On my own timeline, I saw several people who said they would be boycotting Rolling Stone magazine because of it. A Facebook page dedicated to a said boycott already has 26,000 likes and #BoycottRollingStone was a trending topic on Twitter yesterday. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino sent a letter to Wenner Media, who publishes the magazine, saying the cover was a disgrace and should have been about the first responders. Stores including CVS and Walgreens refused to distribute the magazine as well. After all this, Rolling Stone stands by their cover, releasing this statement yesterday:

“The fact that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is young, and in the same age group as many of our readers, makes it all the more important for us to examine the complexities of this issue and gain a more complete understanding of how a tragedy like this happens.” 

Rolling Stone CoverTo me, the question Rolling Stone needs to ask is was the shock value of this cover worth this fire storm of outrage from the public? It appears their intentions are good and that they are trying to shed light onto a situation many cannot understand. However, we will not know if this is true until we read the article. It is true that people who normally wouldn’t care about Rolling Stone are now talking about it and generating online conversation about the magazine. But, if this is all negative conversation that leads to boycotting, is it worth it. Shouldn’t a magazine’s bottom line be about sales not about trending on Twitter?

Rolling Stone has published highly controversial covers before. They’ve featured John Lennon holding a nude Yoko Ono as well as a nude Janet Jackson. Possibly their most arguable cover to date featured Charles Manson; the article attached to this cover subsequently won the magazine an award. They’ve been known to push the envelope and write pieces that could be considered over the edge. 

 I can understand both sides of the issue in this situation. Rolling Stone is committed to reporting every aspect of the Boston Marathon Bombing, including information about Tsarnaev. As a writer, I admire this and applaud them for broaching such a topic. However, the events that occurred that day were tragic and the general public is not ready to see this terrorist on a cover of a national magazine. While those affected will never be the same, more time might have prevented such backlash. 

What do you think about the Rolling Stone cover? Would you read the article?

Paula’s Past Shapes Her Future

Language and communication impact our lives every day, in both positive and negative ways. The words we use shape our personal brand as well as our relationships. There is no better example this statement then Paula Deen. Within the last month, Deen has gone from Food Network icon to a racist tyrant who demeans her employees. How did this star fall from grace so quickly?

It started when Deen told a prosecutor that she had used the “N” word before. Since she was under oath, one would assume that she was telling the truth. The firestorm then began, with people researching exactly when Deen used the derogatory term throughout her lifetime. A couple of suspected instances from her past came up and quickly she was labeled as a racist. Endorsements disappeared and The Food Network cancelled her show, despite her pleading video apologies to fans and a tearful appearance on The Today Show. Paula Deen’s career as she knows it, is over.

No one should use derogatory terms, regardless of their status as a celebrity or otherwise. Paula Deen is no exception to this statement. However, it appears that this woman’s past is being brought up and her entire reputation is being dragged through the mud. The word she used sounds like it is being taken out of context. Now, let me make this clear: I am not condoning her use of the word or using the word at all. But, in the situation she was in, being held at gunpoint, could anyone blame her for using the word?

We all can sit and speculate if Paula Deen has used the “N” word or other offensive terms in her lifetime. But, she told the truth on the stand that day. She deserves some credit for that. Now, her entire career and life have completed changed, for one alleged mistake that happened 30 years ago. If your life was examined, would you be proud of every word choice you’ve made?

Regardless of what Paula Deen has said or done, the bottom line is your past can come back to haunt you. As a young adult, the actions I take today can and will affect me tomorrow. That is the lesson we all should learn from Paula Deen’s current situation. The words and language we use to communicate whether professionally or in joking around will be judged by others. Words you find inoffensive can potentially bother someone else. If using such a word is questionable in your mind, then just don’t say it.

Unfortunately, Paula Deen learned this lesson the hard way. But, for the rest of us, it is a shining example of how the way we choice to communicate can impact us in the future. Below is Deen’s interview from The Today Show. Do you think she is telling the truth?

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