“I never joke, and don’t call me Shirley!”
Ted Striker (Robert Hays) and Dr. Rumack (Leslie Nielsen) in the 1939 Oscar-winning epic tale of love, romance, red things and things that hold back water in the Old South during the Civil War and Reconstruction, “Gone with the Wind.”
Nearly a century ago, when I first started this blog (or as erudite playwright and day-old coleslaw connoisseur, Luke Nyland, would put it “locationally bereft conglomerate of thematically destituted amalgamates”), I had one thing in mind — French Fries. Golden, crispy, pipin’ hot french fries. And deep fried Twinkies with a raspberry drizzle. Okay, you caught me. Two things.
I also held the desire to use this platform for the greater good. That of the Empire Avenue Community, and that of the world at large. It is my firm belief that You, personally, can be the catalyst for positive, limitless, earth-shattering change. I planned to use this intangible corner of ether to provide helpful hints to successfully navigate the highways and byways Empire Avenue as well as to spark a desire amongst others to use our combined influence and creativity to impact the world around us in lasting, positive ways.
Up ’til now, you have mostly seen the “lighter side” of THE INFLUENCIER. But, like an onion, THE INFLUENCIER has many layers.* It is my hope that in the coming weeks and months, the offerings posted within will be a mix, some humorous, others more helpful and serious in nature.
To help you, the reader, differentiate between the Flim-Flam and the Filet-Mignon, I will be tagging and titling all the serious, factual, educational, non-funny (but hopefully somewhat inspirational) posts with the moniker “Seriously?!?” If you glance to the top of the page, you should even see a new menu item for the “Seriously?!?” category. If you see that tag, I promise what I offer will not be tongue-in-cheek blather, but rather content created in a disciplined, rational, considered and intentional manner.
I just ask one thing in return. Please don’t tell the bots that scrape blog content for their own plagiarist purposes about the “Seriously?!?” tag. It would soooo make my month** if one of the poppycock posts on THE INFLUENCIER were to appear in some scammy-spammy-pyramid-marketing-get-rich-quick-schemer stock blog, as has previously happened with posts from the Empire Building Network. Classic!
One of my personal goals in life has been to help others discover and develop within themselves, gifts and talents that they may or may not have known they possessed, and to encourage and provide opportunities for them to apply those gifts and talents in new and powerful ways. If “Influence” were ice cream, this flavor of it would be my favorite in the Empire Avenue ice cream parlor.
For more than a decade, I served in leadership positions of several faith-based, non-profit organizations in either an executive or programmatic role.*** One of the biggest challenges I faced was helping the people “around the table” look beyond the the perceived limitations and obstacles faced by the particular organization, and dare to dream. All too often, we lose the race before we are even out of the starting blocks, because we limit ourselves with preconceived notions of budget concerns, inadequate facilities or lack of resources. My view is and always will be this: Let’s decide what we want to accomplish first, the rest, well that’s just details. By building on our strengths, turning perceived weakness into advantage and connecting with others in partnership we can achieve our vision.
Now, that might sound like a lot of heady talk, but I truly believe it. For those interested, I’d like offer two “buy recommendations.” For a couple of books, not Empire Avenue Stocks, sorry to disappoint. The first is called “What Kind of World Do You Want?” by Jim Lord and Pam McCallister.
Jim is well-known as a Guru in fund-raising circles. In the book, he and Pam detail the stories of various folks and organizations who have made tremendous real-world impact with their ideas. One of the stories inside is about Ferncliff Camp & Conference Center (where I most recently served as Program Director) and the programs Ferncliff created for the students at Columbine High School after the tragic shootings that occurred in Littleton, Colorado. If you visit www.whatkindofworld.com you can download a free PDF of the pre-publication version of the book. The site itself is a little over the top, but if you can look past that, the book is a good read. To find the PDF, Click the link on the bottom right under “More Ideas You Can Use” scroll to the bottom of the page that opens, provide a name and email and you’ll get the download link. If you prefer a hard-copy in your hands, there are several used pre-publication hardcovers on Amazon at http://amzn.to/cV59Na
The second book I’ll recommend is one of my personal favorites. It’s entitled, “Stopping at Every Lemonade Stand: How to Create a Culture that Cares for Kids” by James Vollbracht. You can find it on Amazon.com. The author shares personal experience and insights from others who are in the business of changing kids lives: police officers, teachers, parents and grandparents, and outlines steps that individuals, organizations and communities can take to foster an atmosphere that encourages and supports children in their journey through life’s adventures. My favorite aspect of the book are the illustrations used to show that even the simplest actions, like flipping an aspiring child-entrepreneur twenty-five cents for a glass of sour, watered down lemonade that she is selling out on her front lawn, can spark confidence and success in that child’s life.
Well, I’ve probably rambled on long enough. If you’re still reading at this point, I leave you with a question, one which I’ve adopted as the tagline for THE INFLUENCIER: Influence is an extraordinary tool. What will you do with it? I look forward to hearing your answers, sharing mine, and exploring how they might complement and combine to become “ours.”
*Also like an onion, THE INFLUENCIER will make you cry, give you bad breath, and grow well in any type of soil or loam, provided a sufficient amount of fertilizer (of which we have plenty, as you may well have seen. Hands up, who loves footnotes?). [Back To Post]
** “But Doug, we’re only 5 days into the month?” Yes, the bar is set relatively low. [Back To Post]
*** I intentionally state it that way, because if I started off by saying, “I served as a Summer Camp Director” you might think that all I got paid to do was play tag, sing songs and roast marshmallows for two months out of the year, while throwing pencils at the ceiling during the other ten months. And while I did get to do some of that, there’s a heck lot more involved with operating a 500+ acre site that provides year-round lodging, staffing, food service, programming and recreational opportunities for up to 200 people a night, and finding ways to fund such organizations. If you’re curious and would like to know more, drop me a line and I’ll be happy to share my experiences with you. Also, if you’re looking for a place where your child might have the most memorable and positive experience of his or her life, I’d be glad to suggest some excellent summer camps I am familiar with, or at least provide you with some questions to ask the leaders of a camp you are considering having your child spend time. [Back To Post]