Time to “Roar!” into 2014, musically speaking!

Katy Perry's "Roar!" sets the tone for my 2014.

For the past five years, I have always found a song which has ¬†managed to define me as a new year began. ¬†In 2009, Stan Bush’s The Touch¬†motivated me to reach higher at my job despite all the challenges and difficulties I was experiencing. ¬†The year 2010 saw my musical tastes shift to a little more of a in-your-face approach with Loser Like Me¬†from the Glee! soundtrack, taking pride in a semi-nerdy/dorky background. ¬†When 2011 rolled around, Katy Perry’s Firework embodied everything I had hoped for in my life – drifting through the wind, wanting to start again. ¬†My life being thrown into so much upheaval in 2012 led my musical tastes to Natasha Bedingfield’s Unwritten, which was just about as straightforward a description of that year as you could possibly get. ¬†This year, 2013, saw Michael McDonald’s Sweet Freedom be my siren song, as it talked of breaking free, seeing the road for what it really was, and being unafraid of blazing a new trail.

This year upcoming shows more promise than ever, and so many tunes simply fill the bill. ¬†Coldplay’s Viva la Vida¬†was considered, but it looked more to the past than to the future. ¬†Imagine Dragons’ hit Radioactive¬†talks of revolution, but my life is not so much revolutionary as it is evolutionary. ¬†Even Robin Thicke’s rather irritating Blurred Lines¬†got a sniff, but that would have been far more appropriate for 2012. ¬†Of course, a few classics got a look too, including The Who’s Who Are You?¬†and the more recent hit All Star¬†by Smash Mouth, but none of these really hit the mark. ¬†I need to find a song which defined not just who I am, but who I was becoming, where I was going, and what I expected to accomplish in 2014.

In order to accomplish this, I had to pull a hit from an artist who had served my needs well in the past:  Katy Perry.

The theme song, which will set the tone for my 2014, is Roar.  It is perfect in so many different ways, and I will make sure that I show everyone that I am a champion and that the world will hear me in this new year.  It also annoys the hell out of my wife, which makes it even better!

Hope you find your tune for 2014 and, as always, I invite your feedback!

Katy Perry’s “Roar!” sets the tone for my 2014.

Getting past the trauma of childhood bullying and teasing

There has been a lot of talk about bullying and schoolyard trauma contributing to violence in schools and in the workplace.  Speaking from the experience of having been bullied and teased, I would like to offer up a little advice on how to turn this negative into a positive:

1.  Never let it get you down. I know, I know, easier said than done.  I’m a prime example of this.  Strangely enough, I find that when I get into a depressed cycle thinking about my schoolyard days, it motivates me to do the next point.

2.  Success is the best revenge.  Having that bully or jerk who once teased your weight, ears and nose look at you in astonishment at your achievements is worth all the barbs flung your way early in life.  The song from Glee really is true:  you wanna be a loser like me.

3.  Don’t let the pain define, or redefine you.  “To thy own self be true” isn’t just a fluffy, feel-good saying.  It’s absolutely essential to overcoming the days of emotional and mental pain wrought by schoolyard meanies.  Be who you are and nobody else.  To be something you are not actually cheapens your experience, and reinforces self doubt.

4.  Offer to mentor and guide a fellow recipient of this issue.  Note I did not use “victim” because we are better than that world.  Those of us on the receiving end are most certainly not victims.  We are survivors and we should be proud that we survived that playground jungle.  Because of our experiences, we have unique insights for parents and children who are suffering, and we can offer hope and a promise a better tomorrow.

5.  Forgive, then don’t just be good, be great.  Nothing says “you’ll never win” to a bully or teaser better than taking back your own power by forgiveness, then showing the world the person you truly are and what you have to offer.

6.  Find your faith.  It doesn’t have to be church, or bible school, or a cult or any sort.  Just finding where your faith lies can help heal the pain. Meditation, prayer, even a support group can be he key to getting past one’s pain.

7.  Learn what love really is.  Forrest Gump said it best; “I may not be a smart man, but I know what love is.” Learn the difference between love and lust and, above all, never miss an opportunity to tell someone that you love “I love you.”. Most important of all:  learn how to love yourself.

8. Live and laugh.  It may sound touchy feely, but find something you are good at or love to do and, for goodness sakes, DO IT!!!  Who cares if you blog like crazy, or love taking silly cat pictures, or Simon Cowell thinks your audition was dreadful…what matters is you do what you love and/or what you are good at (within reason, of course.)

I hope this helps!  I’m no hero, or a guru about this subject.  I simply experienced it all and learned through a LOT of trial and error.  Hell, I’m still learning, so I welcome your thoughts.

Target breach lesson: no company is looking out for you

For a retailer which has taken pride in setting itself apart from Wal-Mart in terms of clientele served, treatment of employees and social corporate responsibility, Target is experiencing a rather organic image crisis, thanks to its recent bungled response to a major data breach resulting in the theft of sensitive, encrypted financial information of its customers. ¬†This corporate¬†faux pas, however, was not caused by social media stupidity or industrialist hubris. ¬†Instead, Target’s inability to fend off a major data breach is a matter of corporate neglect, one which has customers sitting up and taking notice and, hopefully, has the retail world thinking about how to treat such problems effectively.

The Big Red Dot’s paltry offer of a 10% discount to those customers affected by its recent financial data breach did precious little to help the retailer. ¬†Lawsuits have been filed in a number of states, including New York, California and Florida, by consumers claiming Target did not go far enough to protect customer’s financial information. ¬† That said, Target’s foul-up is just the latest in a string of¬†similar techno-gaffes occurring at other retailers, with two memorable foul-ups coming to mind.

In 2009, Wal-Mart Stores experienced a data breach which put financial data for some of its own customers in jeopardy, after the implementation of a highly touted next-generation security system in 2007. The other major breakdown occurred in 2008 when a hacker attack resulted in the theft of millions of card and checking account numbers from the databases of Delhaize, Inc., the then-parent company of Food Lion, Hannaford, Sweetbay and Harvey’s supermarkets. ¬†In both cases, critics and consumer advocates stated both companies’ data security protocols were insufficient to stop such foul ups.

Even the world of data security companies are not immune. ¬†The most infamous example of this happened in 2008, when Lifelock CEO Todd Davis’ identity was stolen after a national advertising campaign in which Davis brazenly displayed his Social Security number in an ad. ¬†Naturally, Lifelock later amended its advertising to remind consumers that no one can completely prevent identity theft. ¬†It was a prime example of advertising hubris gone wrong.

Sadly, most people, regardless of how much they say they monitor their bank accounts, really don’t pay any attention to their finances at all and, despite what major retailers may say, they really don’t give two flips about financial security records unless it hits them directly in the pocketbook. ¬†It may seem cynical, but it comes back to the own Latin cliche of “caveat emptor” (a.k.a. “buyer beware.”).

To use geopolitical vernacular, the theft of millions of credit and debit card numbers, along with their encrypted PINs, is akin to a Russian double-agent sneaking into NORAD and stealing not just the missile launch codes, but the actual blueprints for the warheads themselves. ¬†The only true defense to this sort of error, sadly enough, is for consumers to use their own “nuclear option.” ¬†Namely, cash on the barrel!

Target's data breach has exposed the simple fact that, unless the consequences are financial for the company, most retailers are not concerned about data security.
Target’s data breach has exposed the simple fact that, unless the consequences are financial for the company, most retailers are not concerned about data security.

Five changes the college newspaper business must make to survive

With colleges and universities having to tighten belts like never before, student activities are taking a major hit.  This coming year, many student publications must make significant changes to keep up with the times, and here are some simple tweaks which could help your newspaper reach the next level.

1.  Be flexible with your medium, but don’t forget the printed piece:  the kiss of death for any editor is to become set in ones ways.  Even if you are a one term boss, think in a transformational fashion.  Apps are the “x factor” for successful publications.  Still, old-school paper is the most valuable tool in your toolbox.  Say your connection goes down and there’s no way to get hack up….start the presses!  Keep an online version with a PDF copy ready to go “live” at a moments notice.

2. Specialize your outlets:  let’s assume you offer both print and online, make your printed piece an in-depth, feature oriented publication focusing on items and ads that would appeal to those who like reading books and magazines.  Use your online and WiFi medium for breaking, fast paced and pithy updates.  With the web, less is more in terms of length.

3. Get creative with income:  even though a college newspaper is usually financed thought student fees or an endowment, they are expected to run like a business.  That said, fundraising in professional manner is critical to the operational end.  Websites like GoFundMe and the like are optimal for smaller publications, while larger pubs should look at grants from major foundations and companies specializing in developing talent.

4.  Synergy isn’t just a buzzword:   it’s a survival tool.  Instead of competing with a campus tv or radio program, trying merging the operations.  Get creative with institution departments about internships and credit equivalency.  Advertising could be apply to marketing course credit.  Business management to a BBA program, and so on.  Be visionary and pitch it in manner which demonstrates a clear cost-benefit relationship.

5.  Find that one person everyone loves to hate and market the crap out of them.  Enough said there.  You get readers and there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

This is just a few ideas….I encourage your thoughts.