Nobody Cares What You Know UNTIL They Know You Care..advice from CEO Chris Calcagno

Chris-Calcagno_Headshot_LowRes

My next contributor touches on what should be an obvious but often forgotten tenet in this noisy world–the importance of care.  This doesn’t surprise me because Chris Calcagno is one of the most caring people I know.  He the CEO of Seventh Point, a full service advertising agency–one of few agencies to bridge the gap between traditional and digital media. For more than 30 years he has navigated a constantly changing marketing environment, from radio, television and print to digital, mobile and social media.  For, me his message applies not just to the written word, but to all aspects of our life–do we show care in our interactions with just select people or everyone we encounter?  Do listen to others carefully or pay half attention while scrolling through our Facebook feed?  Empathy and real connection seem like  scare commodities these days, and I’m grateful for Chris’ reminder to not think we care, but show it.

Many of the greatest lessons of my life I have gotten from writers and from writing.  Some of my best friends over the years have been people with a command of the written word.  A recent gift I got from one was a book titled Nobody Wants to Read Your Shit.* Nice hah?  Yeah, these are my friends.  

What is it about all of us verbose writers who really think people wanna’ read our shit?  I have a guy who works for me who writes two and three page emails.  No matter how many times I say to him, “Jeremy, what makes you think I’m going to read all this?” it doesn’t matter.  I have literally, emphatically told him “I AM NOT GOING TO READ THIS therefore you are wasting your time.  Walk in my office and talk to me.”  Nope.  Clearly he is too in love with his written word.

But of all the things I have ever learned from my writers and my writing is that one and only one element must be present.  You gotta’ care.  In today’s overly verbose, overly flooded blogged-tweeted-emailed-eNewslettered-eBlasted world writers are scrambling for connection and engagement.  And while it’s hard to attain, it’s simple to do.  All ya’ gotta’ do is care.  If a true, sincere, concern and empathy for your target audience is tangible, you can achieve engagement.  

My wife recently launched a blog site.   When she said she was going to be doing one I said to myself, “oh lord, another blog.”  So she wrote.   And she launched. Her messages are about women, and connecting.  They’re funny and engaging.  And they are seeping with empathy and connection with her audience.  It is clear how much she cares.  I read every word.  

*Nobody Wants to Read Your Shit by Steven Pressfield

Listen to your mother and you, too, may become an Obi-Wan… advice from Dale Feltes

daleMy next contributor graduated from the Naval Academy, earned an MBA from Harvard,  served his country for 24 years and now overseas millions of dollars of construction as the Director of Design and Construction at Old Dominion University.  While those are, indeed, worthy accomplishments, for many of us it is the role he plays as an Obi-Wan Kenobi of our community that we admire the most. Dale Feltes is a mensch. When there is a challenge or decision that needs to be made, the question that is asked is, “What would Dale do?” He is the epitome of calm, level-headed decision making, a skilled listener, kind in his correction, possesses incredible discipline with his words, and can run a meeting like nobody’s business. He is a role model to many and it is my great privilege and honor to share this advice from Dale Feltes.

My mom gave me the most important piece of advice I’ve ever gotten, and no, it wasn’t about always wearing clean underwear.  When I entered my teens and started trying to figure out how to handle difficult decisions and make good choices, she told me to always trust my judgment and never take counsel of my fears.  I came to understand that she meant to examine options/decisions objectively but then also search my own heart to understand what deep-down I thought I should do, never letting fear of failure, ridicule, etc. overturn that judgment.  I’ve come to rue the few times I’ve ignored her advice and always take it into account whenever I have to make important decisions.

 

Tom Cruise, the Eagle Scout and the Man in the Mirror…inspiration from attorney Don Marcari

atty-Don-MarcariOne of the most memorable scenes In the movie, A Few Good Men, is the fiery and oft quoted exchange between Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson–  “I want the truth!” –“You can’t handle the truth!” Now most people would think this iconic movie is a work of Hollywood fiction, but that isn’t so.  The movie was based on a real case, and Cruise’s character, Lt. Daniel Kaffee,  was inspired by the efforts of real JAG attorneys, including my next contributor, Don Marcari.  He has tried more than 200 jury trials, went up against major companies such as  Ford, Firestone, American Honda, Home Depot and  represented clients whose cases became the basis for the movie, The Paula Coughlin Story, and a book, The Story of the U.S. Navy’s Tailhook Scandal.  While I admire his accomplishments as a top attorney, I was inspired by a talk  he gave at an Eagle Scout ceremony for a dear friend’s son.

 In a dynamic, engaging and humor filled manner, he spoke of the importance of being earnest in your goals and not giving up when life starts to challenge your fortitude.  He warned against the short-term lures that can trick you into thinking that your friends are out and about sucking the marrow out of life while you are wasting your time keeping your nose to the grindstone.  He applauded those with the grit, determination and perseverance to see things through to the end and told the boys of his respect for those with the tenacity to endure the rigors of the Eagle process. It was at this point I had to remind myself that this talk was for the boys and not me as I was feeling the weight of the process of starting a new business. Years later,  as our son became more interested in activities at school and wanted to spend more time with his friends, his interest in making it to Eagle began to wane.  However, Mr. Marcari’s words kept ringing in my ear, and I truly felt one of the best gifts his father and I could give him is the lesson of the importance of being earnest.  You never know when your words might impact someone, and in this case, our son is a newly minted Eagle Scout because of Don Marcari’s reminder to always be steadfast. Here is some advice that proved important to Mr. Marcari…

The advice that impacted my life the most is something I think about every day. It was something my father told me when I was a teenager (you know how hard those years are, when you’re still trying to find yourself and your place in the world).

My father, who didn’t finish high school but had a lot of common sense, told me that every night before I went to bed and every morning when  I awoke to take a good look at myself in the mirror. He reminded me to always do what was right,  even if no one else knew, because you couldn’t fool the man in the mirror (I believe this is the title of a 1930’s poem).  And he reminded me that if you liked the person you saw then it didn’t really matter what anyone else was saying about you.

So even today, 45 yrs. later, when I have a difficult decision to make I remember those words and, while I can’t say that I’ve always made the right decision, hopefully, I’ve made the best decision I could at the time.