William Safire: The Life of a Writer – by Judy Bachrach – Obit Magazine.
A friend sent me this William Safire Obit today – I wasn’t aware he had died, and reading it set off a whole memory train.
My mom, Jean Andersen, who died in 2004, was a huge William Safire fan – not of his politics (she moved further and further left as she aged) so much as of his writing and of his unyielding and often irritable passion for the English language.
The two of them, Willam Safire and my mother, were soulmates in that regard – both of them dearly loved the language, were appalled at any ill-use of it, and were the staunchest defenders of grammatical purity and syntactical clarity.
I remember her reading snippets of his NY Times columns to me over the decades, always with a kind of relieved glee (finally! someone else on the side of the angels!) and always nodding in complete complete agreement. Understand: my mother was more than capable of an extended rant on the sad state of proof-reading in the world of modern newspapers; she had a special disdain for failures to spot the improper use of the apostrophe.
So, as I read Safire’s obituary, and thought about him and my mom, I realized how much I owe them both. She (and later he) called out, supported and honed my own love of language, and my passion for expressing myself as well and clearly as possible, from my earliest years. Certainly I’ve been inspired and encouraged to a high standard in my use of language by many other people (my brother Kurt, for instance, and my partner Jeff) but my mother influenced me most, and she introduced me to Safire as an influence, as well.
Thanks, mom, and thanks, Mr. Safire.
Being Strategic: Live from the Inc. 500.
I had an absolutely wonderful time yesterday, speaking at the Inc 500 conference, and this is a live-from-the-event blog post from Janine Popick of Vertical Response.
So, Janine: thank you! You have truly made my day; you understood everything I was trying to say, you got why it's important, and you've made it your own.
This is why I do the work I do. I'll go back into the fray on Monday, knowing that some of the people in that session (or at least one) found it valuable.
Onward and upward!
Macmillan, the parent company of my publisher, St Martin's Press, has invited me to participate in a promotion to celebrate the release of my new book Being Strategic, as well as the release of Allen Adamson's BrandDigital in paperback. They’ve set up a three-book prize giveaway of Being Strategic, Brand Digital, and Allen's earlier BrandSimple.
Here’s how to win: Write a comment on this post naming a company – any size or industry – that you think is being strategic about their brand; approaching branding in ways that are both innovative and powerfully focused on the future.
Allen will be posting this on his blog, as well, and Macmillan will choose 3 winners from the entries we receive. We’ll announce the winners on our blogs, and each winner will receive his or her copies of the three books directly from Macmillan. (And now for the legalese: the contest is only open to US and Canadian residents, and the prizes cant be sent to a PO box.)
The contest starts right now and ends on November 2, so start your mental engines!
I look forward to reading your comments….
Bernanke Says Recession ‘Is Very Likely Over at This Point’ – NYTimes.com.
In this brief article in the NYTimes, Ben Bernanke opines (with supporting data) that the recession is officially over. Pretty much. He cautiously states:
"the consensus of economic forecasters is for moderate economic growth for the remainder of this year and next, particularly as credit markets thaw, consumer confidence takes time to heal and the federal government begins to unwind spending and lending programs intended to mend the economy."
And that's certainly what I'm feeling and hearing in talking to clients and observing my own business. It feels like a slow thaw, but a thaw nonetheless — with executives beginning to move forward in new ways, invest, grow, develop people, build teams.
It's kind of like those first couple of weeks of spring, when it's still a little chilly, a little brown, patches of ice in the shade…but then you look across the river and notice that the trees are just in that green-gauze state that precedes actual leafing out.
I'm looking forward to seeing what this new season brings in the world of business…
What are you all seeing and feeling in this regard?
Reuters: Times of Crisis.
A powerful and well-crafted retrospective on the world-changing 365 days since Lehman Bros declared bankruptcy. I suggest you watch the video first, and then look at the timeline.
It reminded me that this is a global change – it's easy to be too US-focused in thinking about this – and it made me want to do whatever I can to help re-establish our economy and our expectations in a new and more sustainable way.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines providence as "the quality or state of making provision for the future."
I was in Providence today, meeting with two groups of people who are focusing on the future. I was asked to speak to the Chief Executives Club of Rhode Island about Growing Great Employees, and to EClub RI – a group of entrepreneurs and small business owners – about Being Strategic.
Bob Fiske, the energy behind both groups, made sure both sessions were well set up and lively – and that the food was both good and plentiful! It was lots of fun, and seemed valuable to the club members who attended.
What was most heartening to me, though, was to feel, hear and see both groups' combination of hard-headed practicality and uniquely American optimism. If these are the kinds of people who are running US businesses today, we're going to be OK on the other side of this big re-set we're all in. These folks are "making provision for the future" in ways that seem to balance care for the bottom line, the need to find new ways of reaching it, and a recognition of the importance pf engaging your employees in figuring out how to get there.