The Art of Career Growth in Journalism

After years of visiting with my late husband Timothy Robinson’s  family in Birmingham, Alabama each

March as we attended the annual  Robinson Forum together  at Samford University,

I was unable to book a flight this year because of complications in locking in a speaker  far enough in advance.  So I

watched a live feed instead here in Michigan at https://www.facebook.com/SamfordJMC/.  While I plan on flying

south later this spring or summer to visit the Robinson family,  I will miss being able to talk to the guest speaker,

always a formidably talented journalist – this  year, Roy S. Johnson, columnist and director of content  development

at AL.com/The Birmingham News.

 

Johnson, one of the early pioneers among black journalists to work at mainstream national publications

– in his case starting in the 70s as a sports writer at  Sports Illustrated and Fortune Magazine, both

published by Time Inc. —  he is currently enjoying shaping news coverage at a Birmingham, Al

newspaper.  He challenged Samford journalism students to constantly challenge the breath of their

talents – for instance, not staying only focused on one area, like sports.  His journalism resume not only

includes stints as assistant managing  editor at Sports Illustrated, but vice president and edit-in-chief of

Men’s Fitness magazine, editor-in-chief of History Channel  magazine and staff writer at the New York

Times.  He also has experience producing national TV and radio content for Sport Illustrated and he has

co-authored biographies with Avery Johnson, Charles Barkley and Earvin (Magic) Johnson.

 

It reminded me that when I knew Tim, he was a pioneer in legal journalism, with a degree from Yale Law

School – after developing his talent as an investigative reporter for UPI covering the civil rights

movement in his home state of Alabama, then as an editor and  investigative reporter at the

Washington Post.  He ended his career by jumping into the dotcom boom, developing editorial

content for news websites Exite, Alta Vista and AOL.  Tim also pushed me to take the leap into becoming

communications director for new online media sites covering the Asian American community.   After his

death, I even found the courage to take on the task of being development director of a sports non-

profit.  I hope the Samford students this year heed that call to constantly test their talents – it’s a

challenging and exciting way to keep growing.

A HIGH ENERGY SECRET – WORKING IN 90 MINUTE CYCLES

I recently became interested in how to better manage my stress and productivity and became aware of the work of a thought leader in high performance.

Tony Schwartz, chief executive officer of The Energy Project (www.theenergyproject.com) has studied stress and what keeps us at peak energy and concludes that most of us have it all wrong.  Less is more.

We actually have more energy and get more done when we take more breaks and, yes, even more vacations.  In fact, Schwartz cites studies that revealed we move from a state of alertness progressively into physiological fatigue approximately every 90 minutes.  As he puts it, “Our bodies regularly tell us to take a break, but we often override these signals and instead stoke ourselves up with caffeine, sugar and our own emergency reserves – the stress hormones adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol.”

Schwarz recommends working in 90-minute intervals as a prescription for maximizing productivity.  A study of elite performers, including musicians, athletes, actors and chess players, found the best performers typically practice in uninterrupted sessions that last no more than 90 minutes.  They begin in the morning, take a break between sessions, and rarely work for more than four and a half hours in any given day.  Schwartz does his writing in three uninterrupted 90-minute sessions – beginning first thing in the morning, with breaks between.  “I learned,” he said, “that it’s not how long, but how well, you renew that matters most in terms of performance. “   The more rapidly and deeply he learned to quiet his mind and relax his body, the more restored he felt afterwards.  For more inspiration, try reading his blogs at http://www.theenergyproject.com/blog/author/tony-schwartz

 

 

Motown Plays Important Role in 2018 Women’s March

The U.S. Government may have been shut down on the first anniversary of President Trump’s inauguration by a huge political divide in Congress , but hundreds of thousands of women across the country marched to prove that they have become a potent political force for 2018.

What may be lesser known than the televised view of women marching in New York, LA, Las Vegas  and dozens of other American cities including Detroit, is the importance of the Motor City in hosting a crucial convention last October for women leaders.  More than 4,000 people heard speakers there such as Me Too campaign founder Tarana Burke and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Ca) and also participated in panels and training sessions on topics like running for office and confronting racism. *

On Sunday, an event in Las Vegas kicked off a nationwide voter registration initiative call #Power to the Polls that has a goal of signing up 1 million voters.  More than 26,000 women have signed up to run for office, according to Emily’s List, which aims to put pro-choice Democratic women in power.   Organizers have identified battlegrounds in districts in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Wisconsin and yes, Michigan, as well as other states.

So even if the dysfunction in Washington DC needs to play out further this year, don’t lose hope. Motown  is joining cities across America to help women bring new energy to the nation’s  Capitol.  For more information, read the links below.

*https://www.vox.com/identities/2018/1/19/16905884/2018-womens-march-anniversary

https://www.cnn.com/2018/01/22/politics/womens-march-political-goals/index.html

Mudslides, Sub-Zero Wind Chills and Climate Change

I grew up in Michigan and expect severe winter weather occasionally.  However this year set a record in sub-zero wind chills.  It is the first time I remember spending holiday celebrations through early January  in multiple layers of winter clothes.   It is not only the Midwest suffering this winter.   In its coverage of the January California mudslides and the destruction of homes in wealthy Santa Barbara county, The New York Times recently noted that it is only the latest in a string of natural disasters signaling evidence of climate change.

Late last year was punctuated by three devastating hurricanes, Harvey, Irma and Maria. The newspaper reported that “ extreme weather that scientists say is partly attributed to climate change” caused more than $306 billion in damage, a record that surpassed even the $215 billion cost of natural disasters in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina battered New Orleans, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  The figure goes up dramatically if you include damage from fires and rains in California this year.

And that’s the mainland.  Months after two category 5 hurricanes pummeled Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, both are still struggling to get all the lights on – nearly half of Puerto Rico’s more than 3 million people still do not have electricity.  That’s more than 100 days after Maria cut a brutal path across the island.

There’s still a lot of resistance to the idea of climate change and its causes.   My hope is that attention will shift from denial to focus on the optimism and innovation that defined America for so long – optimism that that we can lead the world in softening this disaster with sensible actions. We already have the research and expertise to prevail.  Extreme temperatures, hot or cold, are here and increasingly impossible to deny.

http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/climate-change/solutions/

https://climate.nasa.gov/solutions/resources/

 

Make a Holiday Resolution to Share Your Traditions!

As 2017 draws to an end and we celebrate our traditional year-end holidays and then the New Year, I want to focus on the need to draw on our commonalities, rather than let our differences tear us apart.   Back in 2010, when I was still living in Brooklyn, I wrote a blog on the importance of sharing traditions to bring us together.  I am posting the blog again – enjoy!

The holidays are a time when entertaining should be considered more than just a yearly obligation – it can really make a difference now and all year long in showing you care enough to share your special seasonal recipes with your friends, family and even your clients. At my Brooklyn food coop, we held our Annual Meeting for our members during Hanukkah and ended it with a reception that included store made latkes from the deli, fresh apple sauce, and holiday cookies from a kosher bakery, along with our regular fresh fruit and vegetable platters and other organic staples. It was an opportunity to spread an appreciation of special recipes, along with goodwill and good cheer.

In Manhattan, event planner Pat Ahaesy and her husband Vince, partners in P&V Enterprises, host an annual Hanamas Party in the same spirit of sharing beloved recipes. The guests love tasting their selection of mixed Hanukkah and Christmas traditions that includes latkes and Swedish meatballs. One of their guests, another event planner, is a gospel singer in a Harlem church, who brings along her sister and some friends, and they are easily convinced to share a medley of beautiful gospel songs.

I now call sharing traditions with clients, as well as friends and family, The Hoppin’ John Agenda, after a southern holiday tradition that my late husband Tim and I started together– sharing a New Year’s Day feast of black-­eyed peas and rice with greens that is called Hoppin’ John with friends and family in LA and San Francisco. This tradition was originally meant to bring prosperity and healthy eating to folks in the Deep South — in Tim’s case, it was Alabama.

Sharing authentic cuisine is an amazing networking idea at any time of year, as I wrote about in an earlier blog that recommended sharing your passions, including food, as a way to network authentically. If you aren’t a cook or just don’t have the time to prepare complicated recipes, consider sharing in other ways. Rosemarie Hester from my Brooklyn writer’s group loves to surprise her sons when they celebrate together with locally grown honey, unusual cheeses and special balsamic vinegars. She includes Christmas caroling in the evening’s agenda, and brings along xeroxed pages with the lyrics. When she visits her son’s girlfriend’s Chinese American family, she brings fig bread or olive bread to complement their lavish banquet of Asian food. Dania Rajendra, a fabulous cook who is also in my writer’s group, added she is always delighted when guests contribute their favorite holiday treat when they visit, even if it is Junior’s Cheesecake (from the famous Brooklyn deli) or cookies from that neighborhood Norwegian Bakery.

So consider this your reminder all year long that those authentic recipes, whether you personally prepare them or not, are really appreciated by your relatives, as well as by friends and clients, who love being included as “family.” Happy Holidays!

 

Meditating in Paradise

I recently returned reluctantly to Michigan’s often cold and blustery late fall weather  after a week in what felt like paradise – the foothills of the mountains near Tucson Arizona, where it was 80 and sunny every day.  I was attending a six-day Meditation Training led by Pragito Dove, a master who trained at the Osho Multiversity in Pune, India.  I am already certified in laughter meditation and was now adding accreditation in more Meditation techniques.  My goal has been to learn more about how to help others achieve control over  their happiness and health in a world dominated by a flood of stressful news and a lack of sane medical  solutions to the resulting  illnesses.

The fact is we are too often missing life while we create or recreate childhood drama – or suffer the emotional  consequences of living in an often angry world.  In a strange way,  I was lucky.  I grew up with parents from two different cultures and different dramas.  That confused me and worried me as a child.  Who was right?  I loved them both.  Yet it also made me a young Seeker, questioning  life, not just accepting it.

I discovered Meditation in my 20s when my father’s unexpected death and other tragedies left me struggling with deep pain and guilt.  Meditation  gives you techniques like Witnessing the Mind to remind us that we are love, we are divine – it gets rid of all the inner noise telling us otherwise.  Always our goal is to be in the present.  Witnessing the Mind is sitting in silence, watching our thoughts and letting them go.   Living in the present moment is meditation.

Laughter Meditation is especially simple for instantly transforming pain and fear into soothing mirth.  Even faking laughter releases brain chemicals called endorphins in the brain that act as a tranquilizer to calm us down.  You only need a few minutes in the morning to get powerful effects.  And you can use laughter anytime during the day to change your mood.  Try it.  Just laugh for one minute in the morning, followed by one minute of silence.  You are inoculated – and this drug is life-affirming!

For more information on Meditation, I recommend visiting Discovermeditation.com – Pragito Dove’s website.