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Pockets Half Full

If you’re anything like me, your days probably end with a ritualistic emptying of the pockets. Loose change in the piggy bank, gum wrappers in the bin, wallet set aside safely for the next day. Easy right?

But if a typical work day looks anything like mine, running from meeting to meeting, coffee here, lunch there, capped off by a ‘networking’ engagement at yet another bar before heading home, your day’s collection probably also includes several new business cards and an unwieldy pile of slips of paper with random notes.

There was a time when I was much more consistent with the follow up- and as we know following up is key to building and maintaining meaningful relationships. But admittedly I have slipped, business cards lay unentered into any sort of filing system, and loose paper accumulates long enough that by the time I look at them again I’ve forgotten what the notes mean!

Perhaps this is a symptom of the too rapid pace many of us operate in, maybe it’s a little bit of laziness. Whatever it is, it’s surely not productive, and the cost, financial or otherwise, associated with doing better is surely less than the cost of losing relationships, sometimes before they start, because of a lack of order.

Things have to change, and as they say, that change starts with me!

Check back soon to see how I’m doing!

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Life is Short… Don’t Get Caught!

ashleyThis is an amazing story that continues to play out for Ashley Madison, and the many, many, surprisingly many, individuals who have decided to go online to have a ‘discreet’ affair. No matter how unseemly or morally corrupt their service may be, it’s hard to dispute that they are ‘disrupting’ the industry and institution of marriage.

Their radio commercials are always entertaining and humorous, who hasn’t caught themselves inadvertently singing one of their jingles? Company CEO Noel Biderman has an uncanny ability to position Ashley Madison like any other startup, one that has simply found a way to fill consumer’s needs. It has often been said that we are part of the advent of the ‘on demand’ marketplace, why not bring this concept into meeting people’s companionship needs?

More importantly than the facts surrounding this story though, are the interesting studies in both public relations, or crisis management, and the continued reliance on technology, combined with the hope that what we do online remains secret, this situation offers.

As we all find ourselves doing from time to time, I was clicking from one story to the next when I came across the media statement released by Avid Life Media, the parent company of Ashley Madison, in which they come out swinging against this act of ‘criminality’ and express their “outrage” that anyone would commit such “illegitimate” acts against “innocent citizens simply going about their daily lives.” A brilliantly crafted piece, you almost forget that those whose information has been exposed are taking very real steps to break, or have already broken, their vows of marriage. These “free thinking” people, the press release continues, have been judged by “thieves” seeking “to force their personal ideology on citizens around the world.”

From one PR professional to another, I tip my hat to the person or persons who crafted this statement and made us all forget, if even for a few minutes, what those user’s motivations were for signing up for the service to begin with. There is no doubt that the users of Ashley Madison are operating within the confines of the law, and neither I, nor anyone else, have the right to take action against them based on our own beliefs or values. This press statement made us remember that.

Ashley Madison’s business model is based on them maintaining absolute secrecy for their users. In this instance, it seems they have failed. Time will tell how much of the information stolen in this hack is authentic or relevant enough to cause genuine security concerns. In any case, I’m sure there’s more than one customer who is now second guessing their decision to log in! We will see if this strong response against those responsible will be enough to salvage their reputation, and restore their customers’ trust in the site’s ability to offer the discretion they promise.

The second point this raises, the intersection of relying on technology and hoping for secrecy is much more straightforward. Simply put, if you don’t want people knowing you’re doing it, you probably shouldn’t be doing it, and you certainly shouldn’t be going online, giving your most intimate details to a third party, to get it done!

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Face to Face Still the Best Connection

image The following also appeared in the July 1-7 edition of the Irish Echo.

 

It is indisputable that the advent of mobile technology and social media has changed the way we live our lives. There is no doubt that the information that makes the world go around is right at our fingertips, keeping us ‘plugged in’. And for many, this access to information, and the devices that provide it, is a critical lifeline to the outside world.

 

However, while the benefits that come with having these powerful little computers always at the ready far outweigh the negative, it is fair to say that they have brought with them just as many unintended consequences. For many, connectedness means the ability to communicate their every thought with the world quickly.   Technology has broken down many barriers to communication, reduced individual’s inhibitions when it comes to sharing opinions, and offered anyone with an internet connection access to an audience that far surpasses that of this publication, or that of any other individual outlet. Thanks to these powerful tools the whole world is indeed a stage.

 

But have we lost the ability, or forgotten the importance of, connecting with each other on a personal level? The art of the deal sealed by a handshake, the need to look someone in the eye to truly understand their needs, the importance of being ‘in the moment’ with others are quickly becoming parts of a forgotten era.

 

Today, we seek to communicate, negotiate and facilitate our interactions, whether business, personal or otherwise in short and snappy messages that dare not exceed 140 characters in length.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I am by no means anti-technology, and in fact am a great proponent of, and have spoken and written about, the value of social media in connecting with others. But I also believe that to truly communicate, these tools must be part of a greater plan, used to supplement and continue discourse that comes from face-to-face conversations.

 

Two events earlier this month  (June) showed again that when it comes to engaging the global Irish community, lawmakers in both Dublin and Belfast also believe that bringing people together is critical in efforts to make outreach to the Diaspora even more effective. Irish Network USA was proud to be a part of both.

 

The first of these, the Global Irish Civic Forum, was hosted by Minister Jimmy Deenihan. Over the course of two days more than 200 delegates from 17 countries came together at Dublin Castle to connect with government, learn from each other, and deepen their own understanding of what it means to be ‘Irish’, and specifically ‘Irish abroad’. A series of panel discussions and workshops intertwined with networking opportunities where attendees had the chance to ask questions, share best practices, and develop relationships that will continue to grow as we all returned back to our organizations and redouble our efforts to keep our members connected to ‘home’.

 

Not knowing what to expect going into this event, I was inspired by the dedication of the leaders in the room whose “year -round commitment to Ireland and Irish people” Minster Charlie Flanagan commended during his own comments, had for making sure the conversations we began in Dublin continue on. Noting the success of the ‘inaugural’ Civic Forum, Minister Deenihan brought the event to a close by noting that he believed we’d be back together for the 2nd Global Irish Civic Forum in the not too distant future.

 

Running concurrently to the Global Irish Civic Forum, in a city that has been largely built on the blood, sweat and determination of Irish immigrants, Mairtin O’Muilleoir convened his 6th annual New York/Belfast conference at Fordham University. The largest to date, #NYNB15, as it became known in the ‘twitterverse’, served as an opportunity for community and business leaders to focus on the growing economic relationship between New York and Belfast, while again offering plenty of time for one on one networking and personal interactions fostering formidable relationships.

 

Reflective of Irish Network USA’s own mission, both of these events deftly combined efforts to connect Irish around the world not just through business links, but also through a celebrations of Irish arts, culture, sport, and education. They also created environments that allowed for real conversations and meaningful dialogue to flourish. With new foundations laid, the opportunity exists for many of these relationships to continue to grow , and truth be told much of this will be done within the prism of social media, but now with an incredibly strong base to work from.

 

While getting people to take time out of their busy lives, sacrifice time away from their families, and put away their mobile devices long enough to listen is never an easy task, efforts to engage the Irish Diaspora in a more meaningful way are stronger because of the Global Irish Civic Forum and New York/New Belfast.

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Ireland, The Little Island That Could

It has been a pleasure to watch the campaign for marriage equality in Ireland progress over the past several months. Not just because of the final, and in our opinion right, outcome, but also because of the activism and energy it inspired.

From a campaign mechanics perspective it seems the Vote Yes side did everything right. They got their message out clearly and succinctly, didn’t fall prey to negative and untruthful attacks, and never took their eye off the prize, even when it was clear momentum and public sentiment was firmly on their side.

Efforts to capitalize on social media, notably through the ‪#‎hometovote‬ twitter movement, showed again the power to connect through a still largely misunderstood and underutilized medium.

Great to see friend Jay Lassiter mentioned in the Irish Times, his energy and that of others like him that took part in this election showed that the Vote Yes campaign was about more than just marriage equality in Ireland. It was also about showing that Ireland, a tiny island across the Atlantic, is a beacon of freedom and progressive values. It also showed that the fight for fairness and freedom, in whatever form that takes, is one we must all take on together.

Ireland has long “punched above it’s weight” when it comes to attracting foreign investment, today we know also that it does so in matters of equality!

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Steve Lenox Responds to New York Times Article

“Police Unions, Facing Public Anger, Rethink How to Address Shootings”

It has been a pleasure to work with the unions that represent the members of the Jersey City Police Department for nearly two years. During this time we have worked side by side with union leadership to help them develop a strong communications strategy to make sure their voices are heard on a number of issues.

They have been committed to engaging in thoughtful and meaningful dialogue, whether it was responding to the brutal murder of Detective Melvin Santiago, highlighting their many positive community outreach efforts, offering their thoughts on public policy affecting law enforcement, or reacting to some of the national stories the attached article mentions.

I would contend that these efforts have been well received by the members, who just overwhelmingly reelected their leadership; the media, with whom an improved line of communication has opened; government officials at all levels who are ever more rightly seeking input and opinions on matters that affect law enforcement; and the community that are increasingly appreciative of the efforts of the men and women that wear the badge of the JCPD to make their communities safer.

— Steve Lenox

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