HEROES

WHAT FULFILLS YOU? Is it far fetched or presumptuous of me to believe that each one of us wants to be the hero of our own life? Perhaps you’ve never examined your life journey in such context, but if not, WHY NOT? Perhaps you think seeing yourself as a “hero” is the ultimate indulgence…the height of self- absorption…the pit of hubris. But avoid outrage for just a moment to consider this: what is fulfillment if not the awareness of oneself as a hero, at least in some sense?

What does fulfillment mean to you when measured in the context of your own existence?

My mother would have put it something like “Scot needs to be adored.”
Perhaps that is all that needs to be said.

My wife said she had never seen me more alive, more involved, more purposeful, more fulfilled than when I was coaching swimming and water polo…and that’s a key part of it too. Because she’s right.

My daughter? Well, she thinks that it is simply the completion of things (any projects, etc.) that fulfills me, regardless of nature, subject or audience.

Coaching. Teaching. The imparting of knowledge. The sharing of skill, the reward of seeing my suggestions/instructions/lessons reach fruition. That’s very much a part of what fulfills me…and although swimming has essentially passed me by, it goes without saying that I have incorporated coaching into everything I do professionally. As a consultant, creative director, group leader and blogger.

Those convinced that people don’t change throughout the course of their life would point to the previous statements and maintain that I was where I should have been when I chose Teaching as a career. They would be right to a very real extent, but the core question here is one of scope.

My first career simply wasn’t enough.

I wanted more. I continue to want more. I want to impact lives on more than just one level.

Leaving a mark. Working with a team as part of a team (most often as the leader) to create something lasting and profound and meaningful… something of value. The coaching function feeds this need to make a difference, to be looked upon with respect and even reverence for what I know and what I provide.

My earliest literary favorites were illustrative of teamwork and groups of heroes (often of the unlikely sort) thrown together and winning against overwhelming odds – most notably OZ books; Tolkien; Greek, Roman and Norse Mythology; E.R.Burroughs, et.al; and, of course, comics. I still read comic books today – a testament to how important these concepts remain in my life.

To this day, my favorite movies are A Thousand Clowns and The Magnificent Seven — one espousing the importance of maintaining self respect and not following the crowd, the other the nobility of team play and sacrifice in the interest of achieving something bigger than oneself. At once complimentary and contradictive, but telling nonetheless.

In a very real and obvious sense, my greatest fulfillment comes from being a hero…from winning (or contributing in an important way to a winning effort). And in being recognized (adored?) for it.

Don’t we all want to be a hero?

Leading. Conducting. Masterminding a plan and managing resources and overseeing contributors to the plan’s completion. Shaping awareness and consciousness to a cause. When people listen, I am fulfilled.

As a writer I often create something from nothing. Meaning and metaphor from commonly unnoticed, underappreciated or everyday things. As a fiction writer, I champion the importance of memory and connection and feelings. In advertising I seek to communicate at least the semblance of truth. I open people’s eyes to value and significance and essential truths. And when the something I create has the effect of changing the way people think or feel or act or react, then I am a hero. I have spoken an ideal that is worth reaching toward – at least in some small way.

I have achieved many goals in my life. I have been many things to many people as a result of my numerous career and life choices. If I refuse to see at least some of my accomplishments and choices and experiences as heroic, then I am truly minimizing myself as a result.

I would postulate that we are all the heroes of our own life…and rightfully so. If nothing else, just believing it is a fulfillment of sorts.

Believe.

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CHALLENGING THE UNKNOWN

The following piece from my new collection “CREEK SONGS (and Other Seductions), is certainly one of my personal favorites. One of the first comic books I bought as a kid was Jack Kirby’s Challengers of the Unknown. Over time, it has emerged as my all time favorite – quite a distinction when you consider that we’re talking about a kid who started collecting comics in 1962…and still does.

 

No regrets. No shame. I still LOVE the expensive little piles of paper.

 

But that’s a topic for another time. I still love the Challengers, because I was able to join them.

 

I challenge the unknown. All writers do. We stare into the abyss of a blank page and pull something from the nothingness. Entrepreneurs (of which I am also a proud member) challenge the unknown every damn day. They take that first step, and the next one, and however many more it takes to build a business from what began as an idea, a dream, a passion.

 

That is what I love about both writing and entrepreneurship. Dreaming. Questioning. Thinking. Creating. They keep me near that edge that Vonnegut talked about…and I still really like what I see. Every damn day.

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THE CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN

If I was a super hero, I wouldn’t be one. I’d be

The Challengers of the Unknown!

 

They’re not super – even though they hang out in purple jumpsuits with white gloves.

White Gloves. What’s up with that? Not very practical. Probably had to wash them every damn day, for crying out loud.

 

They’re not super. We’re not talking Superman or Spiderman or Jonn Jonzz, The Manhunter from Mars.

 

We’re talking guys like you. Guys like me. Well, close anyway. They get dirty saving the world. I guess that’s actually why the white gloves bother me. They get dirty. And even apart from the dirt factor, I don’t think I’d ever wear white gloves for anything.

 

Too formal.

 

Ace (the decorated pilot). Rocky (the world-champion wrestler). Red (the mountaineer/daredevil). Prof (the scientific genius/skin diver) These guys are like every thing a kid ever wanted to be. Except maybe a cowboy.

 

                                              But that wouldn’t work.

 

See they’re on this plane. Don’t know each other, never met. The plane crashes. They survive. They cheat death (big skeleton guy with a wicked sickle standing menacingly above the wreckage of the plane as my boys emerge, you know, “unscathed”).

 

Now they’re…

 

Living On Borrowed Time.

 

They are The Challengers of the Unknown.

 

They get it done because they don’t. fear. death. Not because they can leap tall buildings or telepathically command all the creatures of the deep. Not because they have a magic lasso that bends men to their will.

 

They can’t fly to get away from danger. They can’t burst into flame to melt bullets. They can’t teleport. Or run faster than the speed of light.

 

They’re just…

 

Living On Borrowed Time.

 

They’re not afraid. Not of the dark or what’s in it. That kinda makes them super.

 

Super-er, actually.

 

They fight the fear, the chill, the I-can’t-do-its. They take on Multi-Man; defeat the insidious Gargoyle; discover alien artifacts and solve ancient mysteries.

 

They challenge the unknown. And they win.

 

Wow. I always wanted to do that.

 

 

FROM CREEK SONGS (and Other Seductions)

                              AVAILABLE NOW ON AMAZON.COM

TELL YOUR STORY, GROW YOUR BUSINESS

 

Creativity. Clarity. Connection. To make your business work, you’ve got to make a critical connection – with your clients, your employees, your potential end-user. You need to communicate – clearly, creatively and compellingly – the distinctive aspects and advantages of your particular product or service.

 

The Simmons Group is a marketing communications firm that specializes in crafting compelling content, brand strategies and collateral –web sites to white papers, articles to ads, media kits to media networks — that engage and impact your target audience. In short, we help you tell your story, sell your product, grow your business…and we back our efforts with the resources, skills and savvy born of more than 50 years of cumulative experience in all things creative.

WHY YOU NEED A WEBSITE: CULTIVATING AN OPEN DOOR POLICY

Incoming metaphor! Your website home page – or single web “id” page or blog page — is the front door to your business. Casual viewers, service seekers, potential partners can open that door to you…and discover the essence of your service, your operational philosophy, your Unique Selling Proposition.

Yeah. I know. “Salespeak.” But that is, after all, what we’re talking about.

We sell ourselves every day…whether we intend to or like to or even want to. Part of the deal…the rules of survival…even for us “creatives.” Especially for us creatives, actually, because most times we have to work harder at it in order to get results.

Know what I mean? I know that you do. Open the door.

WHY YOU NEED A WEBSITE REASON #2:
BECAUSE it can connect you.

Business is connection. From connection comes trust. From trust comes EVERYTHING.
Handing out your business card is a proven essential element of generating new business…and having a website is like passing out your business card every hour of the day, every day of the week, to thousands (maybe millions) of potential clients and partners. It says “This is what I do and here’s how it can benefit you and this is how you can reach me” – and it says it all the time.

In addition, as a change-up alternative (or reinforcement, if you will) to attending mixers and dinners and speed networking and lunches and “pass the mike” breakfasts, you can opt to gather information about your customers and prospect for potential customers by using online forms and surveys. This is not to downplay the value of active networking. But occasionally letting the leads come to you can be a welcome break from doing the “ shake hands and pitch” circuit.

Just a thought. More later.

WHY YOU NEED A WEBSITE: ARE YOU KIDDING?

Americans are spending more time online. In fact, studies show that roughly 80% of us now spend as much time online as we do watching television. Pretty compelling statistic…tells you a lot about our culture, our communication, and our commerce.

Most importantly, it gives us — entrepreneurs, craftsmen, business professionals — a very clear picture of where our audience is and how to reach them.

The “them” is  27 million (and growing). And they’re not just computer nerds or techies or trekkies anymore…they are your customers.

Get a website. Get online. Get a life.

If you still need convincing, here’s another reason why you should Since the Web has several very good search programs, your interest group will be able to find you, or your competitors.

WHY-YOU-NEED-A-WEBSITE REASON #1:
BECAUSE your potential customers already expect you to have one.

In order to succeed in today’s world, you MUST have an internet presence. There are billions of internet users – a few million of which live in the U.S. – with more and more logging on every day. It is truer now than ever before: If you don’t have a website, you don’t exist. Chances are, if a potential customer can’t find your website, they won’t find you. But they just might find your competition.

A website can create a powerful first impression. Consider it your new storefront. The front door to your business. And consider this: it is always OPEN, always working for you. That’s 24-hour service without requiring you to put in a 24-hour day.

I know…you’ve tried.

There is no more nine-to-five. We’re all on different schedules, driven by different priorities, shaped by different obligations. Availability and accessibility can make all the difference– the critical difference between being seen and being left behind. And that alone makes having a website vitally important to any business, organization or individual.

More to come…

5 REASONS TO WRITE A BLOG

Want to hear a story? Of course you do. Everybody wants to hear a story. The facts they can Google, but the story, your story, your take, your opinion on any given topic or discovery or service or occurrence —  is what readers want. And isn’t that wonderful, because you can give them all those things…in a blog.

1.    Everybody isn’t doing it. Actually, according to David Meerman Scott, author of  “The New Rules of Marketing & PR” only about 30% of the population are writing blogs. That can be a big number or a small number, depending on how you choose to view it, but the point is, there’s an opportunity there for the individuals who actually act on the desire to differentiate themselves from the pack – either personally or professionally or both.

2.    You don’t have to do it yourself. No time? No discipline? No writing comfort zone? That’s ok, hire a blogger to fill in the gaps and make you a THOUGHT LEADER. All you need is a product or an idea or a story to tell…and the inner drive to tell it. And by the way, we all have a story to tell. Sometimes it just takes someone else to (painlessly) extract and package it.

3.    It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. A blog can be added to your existing website or can be your website – for relatively little cost expenditure – especially when you consider the number of potential customers your message can reach every day, every time, everywhere.

And there are writers out there (like me) who will harness the power of the written word to present your thoughts, ideas, stories in format, on schedule, and on the money – for less money than you’d think. Check it out.
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WRITE A BLOG, LEAD THE WAY.

Let’s talk about blogs. Why? Because they’re everywhere. Because in a very short time, blogs have managed to demonstrate a very long reach. Because virtually everyone is either doing them, having them done, or dreaming of doing them. Even stiff, staid, conventional corporate America has managed, in it’s own special way, to embrace the concept.

And because I write them. There is that. Yeah.

Blame the internet. It’s made it possible for us all to tell our story — or a story — to the world. It’s the reason that we are looking away from the newspaper and the printed page and various glossy pubs and looking toward online news sources, kindles, YouTube and SnotR and facebook and Linkedin and Twitter and, yes…wait for it…BLOGS for information, and inside stories, and content of every subject, size and color.

In the business arena, a blog can fulfill the promise of getting you close to your customer base – not necessarily the existing one, but the potential one. The one that’s out there waiting…to be wooed, to be convinced, to be assured. The bursting-with-potential base of not-yet-believers that wants to trust you.

Put bluntly, a blog can go a long way in convincing prospects that you have a brain in your head and a thought in your mind. In fact, a blog – one that is in-touch, targeted and focused – can do a lot toward positioning you as a THOUGHT LEADER.

And in these times, when everyone is scrambling to differentiate themselves from all the rest of the contenders, being recognized as a THOUGHT LEADER can be a very good thing.

All for now, but stick around. More to come.

THAT “NICHE” THING

Most of you have heard about that “niche” thing…you know, the rule that says that one of the elemental keys to success in business is to find your niche – that one thing you do best – and stick to it. The idea here, I assume, is to avoid spreading yourself too thin and/or getting into areas that you’re not so good at – because you’ll end up disappointing your client and in the process will kill the account and the referral and eventually yourself in despair.

I’m not buying it.

First of all, I’ve never only been good at just one thing. I’ve never only been good at just one type of writing. Yeeesh, even as a swimmer, I was a serious contender in four or five different events. If I’d had to swim just one race my entire athletic career, I would have drowned from boredom.

If I was only capable of writing one thing, or one way, or in one voice,  I would have written my letter of resignation and moved out of the writing biz a long time ago.

Here’s my take…

In today’s economy, differentiation is the way to succeed. Differentiate yourself effectively from the competition and you’ll have more work than you want to have – and that’s a very nice place to be. Differentiation is essentially a matter of showing how your service or product or skill is better than that of everybody else out there.

I’ve walked into consults with potential clients that could only be categorized as a  “niche ambush.” When asked for samples, the first one presented is the one I do. If it’s a press release, I’m a pr writer. If it’s an annual report, I’m a business writer. If it’s an operations manual, I’m a tech writer. If it’s an ad or a postcard or a brochure, I’m an advertising copywriter. And I frequently find myself having to kick up the pitch just to show that I’m more than a one-trick pony.

I’m a writer. I can write all those things

I can also write bios, and newsletters, and web content, and package copy, and video scripts, and novels, and screenplays, and tag lines of all sizes, shapes and colors. Because I can write (and have written) all those things, I can bring a fresh take to everything I write — a different angle on what might otherwise prove less interesting if done the        same       old         way.

And because many of the rules of marketing and pr and advertising continue to change as a result of the explosive emergence of the internet, this makes me a commodity.

End of story. A writer without limitations has limitless value in the new world order.

Nix on that “niche” thing.

ATTENTION WRITERS, CONTENT PROVIDERS AND ALL OTHER PURSUERS OF CREATIVE EXCELLENCE…

I’m reading CATCHING THE BIG FISH, David Lynch’s book (just out in paperback) on “meditation, consciousness, and creativity” and finding much that resonates.

In addition to having experienced a “first dive” into meditation uncannily similar to that of Mr. Lynch, I loved his take on depression and anger – two states with which every creative has danced intimately. Take a listen…

“I call that depression and anger the Suffocating Rubber Clown Suit of Negativity. It’s suffocating, and that rubber stinks. But once you start meditating and diving within, the clown suit starts to dissolve. You finally realize how putrid was the stink when it stars to go. Then, when it dissolves, you have freedom.

Anger and depression and sorrow are beautiful things in a story, but they’re like poison to the filmmaker or artist. They’re like a vise grip on creativity. If you’re in that grip, you can hardly get out of bed, much less experience the flow of creativity and ideas. You must have clarity to create. You have to be able to catch ideas.”

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