Last Day of Movember

Today is the last day of Movember, and though I enjoyed growing the facial hair of a long-haul trucker, the time has come for it to end.

We have an official Movember team, and are trying to raise money in awareness of prostate cancer. Even if you don’t have money to donate, please like and share our video; after enough shares, eventually one person will donate ­čÖé

Or donate to my personal Mo-space: https://www.movember.com/us/donate/payment/member_id/4284225/

Thanks!

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Remembering a Friend

How do you measure someones life? Is it by self improvement, or is it by the change you make in others’ lives? For most, just having positive self improvement is a milestone, but making a change in others lives is an accomplishment that can resonate farther than anything else. Chuck Cook was not only one to make a drastic┬áimprovement in his life, but reached into others’ lives and helped improve theirs as well.

I first met Chuck during our orientation days at the University of San Diego. Being that USD is a “traditional” school, students ages range mostly 18-22 years old; it is very rare to see anyone past their mid 20’s. Myself, being 28 at the time when I transferred to USD, and Chuck being 31, we met because we had the “hey, you don’t look like you just graduated high school” look from across the room. We immediately became friends and stuck together throughout the rest of our time at USD.

Being non-traditional students, transfers, and living off-campus gave us a huge disadvantage for meeting and relating to students, so we both wanted to be as involved as possible. Chuck was the only person that I knew that that was involved in more clubs and organizations than I was, and had this uncanny ability to balance all of it. Granted, anyone that knew him knows that he would run around as this big stress ball, but that was his way of balancing all of it, and damn was he good at it.

While at USD, Chuck served as a mentor for a lot of the younger students and helped them in more ways imaginable. We were both in unique situations being undergraduates later in our lives, being able to work with and become friends with people 10-15 years younger than us. He would serve as a mentor, teacher, counselor, and most importantly, friend, to everyone he knew and worked with. He improved lives, and for that will forever be remembered.

Chuck was not only an inspiration because of the change that he made to others while at USD, but also because of the change in his personal life. I am not going to go into great detail about his amazing transition, but just know that he made a complete 180 for the absolute best. Not everyone follows the traditional path of college right out of high school, but for him to come back to college in his 30’s was a major success. He not only went back to school and graduated with a B.S. in Accounting, but got a job at KPMG, one of the best accounting firms in the nation. I can not even begin to explain the major success story that Chuck is, but just know that it is hands down one of the most motivating stories that I have ever witnessed.

Another way that Chuck influenced me personally was the introduction to the LGBT community. While serving in the military, I had friends that were gay, but never knew anyone that could openly talk about it. I can say that Chuck opened my eyes to the community and shared with me, not only the lifestyle, but the struggles of everyday life. I was honored to have such a close friend that was able to openly talk about it, and help me understand the LGBT community.

I know that if Chuck could have lived longer, he could have made an impact on so many other lives, as he has mine, but I also know that his story and memory will forever live on and help others in their lives as well. Rest in peace, Chuck: you were an amazing individual.

The Power of Public Relations for Small Business

How many times have you relayed on something you heard someone else say in a previous conversation, later only to hear that same person pass on what you just said? This is called the third-party effect, and is one of the largest tools of influence people can use.

Welcome to the world of public relations.

Using public relations benefits two-fold for small businesses: it is a cheaper means of promotion than advertising, and it has more justification for the end-user because of the third-party effect. I worked on a consulting job recently for a local small business owner with a small budget; he didn’t have money for a graphic designer and ad placement, so I recommended doing a bit of PR to get his name out. After only a few sent emails, he had a placement in a local newspaper. ┬áThis was about one quarter of the cost to him than if he would have bought ad space in that same paper.

Small businesses need to use public relations as a primary means of promotion when on a budget. Think of how often we are bombarded with advertisements daily; It takes a very well made advertisement to catch our attention anymore, and small businesses do not have the budget to compete with the larger competitors. Take Facebook for instance: you can buy ad space and get 100,000 impressions, but how many people actually pay attention to Facebook ads? I know I don’t, and neither do any of my friends – one of the most sought after age target markets.

I have worked in public relations for almost two years, and can surely say that it is the most cost effective means for getting out your message. PR is cheaper, more effective, and easier to catch the attention and make a lasting impression of your end-users. One of the largest differences for me as well is it is generally more fun; it sometimes involves events that can benefit a variety of things, including community or charity organizations. I once hosted an event that gave back to the American Lung Association, promoting clean air around San Diego. This event was great because not only did we get to do something fun and worthwhile for the community, but it also served as a promotion tool by landing media coverage, boosting our public image while getting free recognition.

PR is a great tool and a wonderful asset to any company; hire someone to do PR for your business for just 30 days, you will be surprised at how much publicity you will get for a fraction of the cost. Don’t even get me started guerrilla marketing, you might be here for days…

Drive and Passion

One thing that has always been on my mind is if greatness is achieved by what one does, or is it simply who you are. My time at the University of San Diego has been very fulfilling; I have gotten involved in every club, professional event and business related venture I could get my hands on. When I explain to people my involvements around campus, including an internship and time in the Navy Reserves, they like to say, “I’m sure the Navy had a great part in shaping who you are, making you a overly motivated person.” This has always lead me to wonder, was it the Navy or was I always this way?

My time in the Navy was an eye opener for me; I was able to see what I could and couldn’t handle. Was this enough to drive me to become a better person and take on more responsibilities than before? I don’t think so. While I was in high school, I was involved in just as many things as I am today, joining several leadership clubs geared toward helping underclassmen. When I first joined the Navy, I was stationed in Japan and had never really been out of the country; this was initially difficult for me because of my small town upbringing, and the fact that I had not traveled much outside a 30 mile radius. After the initial culture shock, I soon realized that there was even more of the world outside of Japan, and I wanted to see it. Was this curiosity sparked because I was ignorant, or because I was curious to seek out more?

I believe that at a certain age people decide to be curious about life, to find and create something better than what they have been dealt, or to remain stagnant. Is this something than can be taught? Possibly. Is it something that is learned through experience? I believe so. Every one shapes their experiences, and while some are born with a curious mind, others create it. As long as you maintain that curiosity and drive, others will see it, and it will be your own willingness to learn more that will make you a better person and make others question how it is that you are so driven.