The complete Wayward Journey

Empathy, compassion and coronavirus

McKinsey & Company began a recent article on leading with purpose during the pandemic with a quote from celebrity chef and World Central Kitchen founder José Andrés: “Without empathy, nothing works.” … Continue reading

‘Ain’t That Peculiar’

Sometimes a word strikes our fancy, delighting us like a rainbow after a storm or refreshing us like a splash of cold water. Maybe a word is used in a novel way… Continue reading

Is your blog on life support?

Do you have a blog that you haven’t posted to in a while? You’ve been meaning to write something, but you just haven’t gotten around to it… Continue reading

Email and echo chambers
Posted on

I’ve been doing some work for Aartrijk, a content marketing firm in the property-casualty insurance space, for the past year or so… Continue reading

NAFCU turns 50

This past week, the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions turned 50… Continue reading 

What we need is a little optimism

I was going through some dusty old things the other day and found a “Youth Appreciation Week Citation” I received in 1969 from the Optimist Club of Reynoldsburg, Ohio… Continue reading 

Writing: the fundamental building block of communications

Last month, I was interviewed by Jimmy Minichello for the Public Relations Society of America – National Capital Chapter’s Insider newsletter. I talked about the basics of good writing in this video… Continue reading 

How to succeed in business the ‘indie’ way

Last month, I invited Ami Neiberger-Miller and Sandra Wills Hannon to speak at our Independent Public Relations Alliance meeting about what it takes to become a successful independent practitioner… Continue reading 

Instead of time management, consider energy management

Time is something that we constantly obsess about. An army of business consultants and self-help gurus has made millions with countless time management courses, day planners, books and apps that we eagerly devour… Continue reading

Credit unions are proving to be a smart alternative to banks

Credit unions are on a roll. In March, I wrote about the gains they’ve made in auto lending (“Credit unions rev up for growth”)… Continue reading

Start your day in a good mood and get more done

How does your day start? Meditation? Exercise? Reading? Or maybe you have to get the kids ready for school, solve a family crisis or battle traffic. Arriving at work with a positive attitude isn’t always easy… Continue reading 

Can’t think of a good lead? Try writing a story

Remember those boring expository writing assignments in high school? Everything had to fit neatly into a three-step formula: 1) an introductory paragraph with a thesis, 2) supporting paragraphs and 3) a conclusion that summarized your ideas… Continue reading 

Memorial Day: ‘The victory for what it lost and gained’

I’ve never lost a family member or friend to war. So it is hard for me to imagine the feelings Memorial Day must stir up in those who have been close to someone who never came home… Continue reading 

Standing with others may be the first step to helping them

I have been thinking these last few days about a quotation attributed to the German writer Goethe: “If I accept you as you are, I will make you worse… Continue reading 

In sales, the first or last person up may have an advantage

Is there an advantage to being the first or last person when giving a presentation, interviewing for a job or making a sales call?… Continue reading 

‘Because you matter’

A small group I’m in has been reading Father Gregory Boyle’s Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion, which is based on Boyle’s 25-plus years of work with gang members in East Los Angeles… Continue reading 

Do you have the rights to that photo you’re posting?

When’s the last time you posted a photo to your Facebook page? If you’re like many Facebook users, it may have been just a few minutes ago. It turns out we’re uploading images on social media at mind-boggling rates… Continue reading 

Does writing well still matter? Let me count the ways

Kudos to Deborah Brody of Deborah Brody Marketing Communications for launching a new feature called “On Writing.” Each month, she’s interviewing a communications professional on the craft of writing and then posting the interview on her blog… Continue reading 

Mountaintop experiences and valley duties

This past weekend, I spent some time in New Jersey—first on Long Beach Island and then in the Pine Barrens. It was cloudy and rainy when we walked along the shore… Continue reading 

When’s the last time you used a map to get somewhere?

Before there was GPS, before there were navigation apps, there were maps. I’m talking about paper maps that you kept in your car’s glove compartment or stuffed behind the seat… Continue reading 

10 demographic trends that are shaping our world

Demographic trends have always fascinated me, not just as factoids to be used in a clever infographic, but as vital intelligence that can help us better understand consumers, target markets and engage customers… Continue reading 

Is fear holding you back? Consider these three lessons

Napoleon Hill once said that fear is the single greatest obstacle to success. Yet, even with success, fear does not go away. Instead, it burrows into your subconscious in more subtle and insidious ways… Continue reading 

Make talking to your customers a learning experience

One of the things I like about my line of work is that I’m always learning something new. Over the past year, I’ve learned about cybersecurity, satellite technology, electric utilities and asset/liability management, to name a few… Continue reading 

Give me your tired, your poor, your aging baby boomers

The generation that wore bell-bottoms and tie-dye shirts, smoked pot, marched for peace, started a sexual revolution and vowed never to become part of the establishment is getting old… Continue reading 

Credit unions rev up for auto loan growth

You might say that reports of the automobile industry’s demise are greatly exaggerated… Continue reading 

Tips for making your writing plain, clear and scrupulous

The same year Congress passed Obamacare, another monumental piece of legislation made its way to the president’s desk: The Plain Writing Act of 2010… Continue reading 

The afternoon is bright…

“The afternoon is bright, with spring in the air, a mild March afternoon, with the breath of April stirring, I am alone in the quiet patio looking for some old untried illusion… Continue reading 

Excuse me, is that a fake Einstein quote on your blog?

There’s nothing like a good quote to spice up your prose. That’s why speeches, essays, books and social media are peppered with the sayings of Lincoln, Twain, Edison, Gandhi and other notables… Continue reading 

Convergence and the brave new world of PR and marketing

A few weeks ago, Phil Rabin and Paul Duning of Capitol Communicator spoke at an Independent Public Relations Alliance luncheon about trends they are seeing in the PR business… Continue reading 

‘How will I find you?’ 5 ways to build brand awareness

Suppose you are meeting someone for the first time in a public place. Wouldn’t it make sense to tell this person what you look like? It seems only natural to describe your most identifying features… Continue reading 

Leadership advice from the remarkable Frances Hesselbein

It’s Girl Scout cookie season, which means that soon I’ll be enjoying one of my favorite cookies—Do-si-dos. The sale of millions of Girl Scout cookies brings to mind the remarkable Frances Hesselbein… Continue reading 

I see dead people…on Facebook

Facebook is very good about reminding me of my friends’ birthdays. Its notification feature automatically prompts me to post a birthday greeting, and I can do it without even visiting the friend’s page… Continue reading 

How to make book reading a daily habit

I recently wrote about the importance of reading books (‘I cannot live without books’). In this follow-up post, I discuss how to make book reading a daily habit and how to get the most out of what you read… Continue reading 

‘Shoveling Snow with Buddha’

Snowzilla may be one of the DC area’s biggest snowstorms ever before it’s all over. This poem by former Poet Laureate Billy Collins just about nails it on the head for my day with the shovel… Continue reading 

‘I cannot live without books’

One of my earliest memories of my Grandfather Pollard is a figure sitting in an armchair in the living room of my grandparents’ house in Columbia, MO, reading. My grandfather was a prodigious reader… Continue reading

‘I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in’

Before he became a country music star, Kenny Rogers recorded a song with the First Edition called “Just Dropped In.” It’s a relic from the counterculture ‘60s with lyrics that don’t make a lot of sense, but I’ve always liked the refrain… Continue reading 

This New Year’s, resolve to be less busy and more productive

It’s the end of another year, a time for reflection, planning and goal setting. We get out our calendars, dust off our business plans and review our accomplishments over the past 12 months… Continue reading 

Christmas in the here and now

Christmas is a magical time of year. Gifts under the tree, choirs singing alleluia, friends and family stopping by, lots of cookies (yum!) and kids giddy with excitement… Continue reading 

What does a Millennial want?

What do Millennials want for Christmas? Or, put more broadly, what do they want, period? It’s a good question… Continue reading 

Interest rates, the Fed and taking risks

The financial press and the stock markets have been teeing up a Federal Reserve rate hike for weeks… Continue reading 

Thanksgiving, gratitude and the value of encouragement

The other day an email popped into my inbox from HostGator, my web-hosting company. I get marketing emails from them from time to time, so I didn’t pay much attention at first… Continue reading 

Right brain, left brain—let’s just call the whole thing off

By the time I finished high school, I was pretty certain that I would not be majoring in engineering when I went to college… Continue reading 

‘Break every chain, break every chain, break every chain’

You could hear a pin drop at our table at Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt, Va. It was chapel time. Six residents and three volunteers sitting in a circle in a prison gym, leaning in to hear one of our Kairos brothers … Continue reading 

Need to make an apology? Here’s how to do it right

“I’m sorry” and “excuse me” are words we hear on a daily basis. When used liberally and expressed sincerely, they go a long way towards preserving civility and smoothing over awkward moments… Continue reading 

Everything I know about management I learned from gardening

It’s September again. The days are getting shorter, the nights cooler. The grass is staging a comeback, the liriope is in full bloom and the crepe myrtle is taking its final bow… Continue reading 

Keep your data secure with these simple steps

Over the last few years, I’ve done a lot of writing for clients on the topic of data security. I’ve pored over reports and talked to experts for articles and white papers on POS systems, smart cards, data breaches and … Continue reading 

Using digital tools to make change stick

Last year, when I was doing research on change management for a book project, I came across a depressing statistic: up to 70 percent of change initiatives fail… Continue reading 

To subcontract or not to subcontract, that is the question

I’ve been wrestling lately with a question that all self-employed people face at some point: to subcontract or not to subcontract. Is it better to retain the business you have, or should you farm some of it out?… Continue reading 

Struck & White’s little book on style still packs a punch

It’s been 95 years since William Strunk Jr.’s guide to style was first published by Harcourt. In the years prior to its publication, Professor Strunk circulated his “little book” to English students at Cornell University… Continue reading 

Social media’s growing influence with consumers

An article in the latest McKinsey Quarterly by Jacques Bughin, “Getting a sharper picture of social media’s influence,” describes new research involving European consumers and the growing impact of social media on their buying decisions… Continue reading 

Great leadership, like storytelling, answers ‘why’ not ‘how’

Several years ago, I attended a Dave Ramsey EntreLeadership seminar. Ever since then, Dave (or more likely someone on his staff) has been very good about emailing me with business tips and info on his latest offerings… Continue reading 

Are you the Duck tape or Allen wrench of your organization?

Many years ago, when I first moved to Washington and started working in communications, an older and wiser colleague gave me some sage advice: “Jay, you can be a generalist or a specialist, there is no set path to success… Continue reading 

On rereading ‘Walden’ and the seasons of life

Midway through my vacation last week, I opened Thoreau’s “Walden,” the same paperback edition I first read in ninth-grade English class… Continue reading 

‘Attraching’ and other portmanteau words

I’m a big fan of portmanteau words. These made-up words combine elements of two existing words to form a new one with a blended meaning. You might call them verbal mash-ups… Continue reading 

‘Blend their sweet music to my ear’

Just before Thanksgiving, I had my last guitar lesson at the Music & Arts store in Springfield, ending a six-and-a-half-year run that had been frustrating, delightful and inspiring… Continue reading 

Content marketing, Star Wars and customer service

If you want to see content marketing in action, the Microsoft Dynamics Blog is a pretty good example… Continue reading 

How to make better to-do lists and get things done

Are you a list maker? I make lists all the time—in notebooks, on scratch pads, on the back of envelopes, on my iPhone, in Notes on my computer or just in my head… Continue reading 

Managing risk, like change, is a process: 10 tips to follow

An article I recently wrote on enterprise risk management (ERM) is the cover story in the current issue of The Federal Credit Union magazine… Continue reading 

Stand and deliver: how to give impromptu remarks like a pro

You’re at a meeting, a retirement party, an awards banquet, a birthday celebration, a wedding, a funeral—any place where people are gathered. Suddenly you hear your name called. Then the dreaded, “Can you say a few words…”… Continue reading 

‘The blissful cloud of summer-indolence’

The other day, when I should have been working, I picked up a paperback that had been lying around the house—Stieg Larsson’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”… Continue reading 

So you want to be a CEO?

Last month, an article I wrote on “Tomorrow’s Leaders” landed on the cover of The Federal Credit Union magazine, NAFCU’s bimonthly publication… Continue reading 

10 ways to step out of your comfort zone

I read a LinkedIn post recently by Paul Lanigan on why it’s important to step out of your comfort zone if you want to be successful… Continue reading 

Old dogs and new tricks: One generation sharpens another

Last week, Shira Harrington of Purposeful Hire spoke about generational differences at an IPRA luncheon. Listening to her talk, I was transported back to the early days in my career… Continue reading 

Eliminate the inessentials and focus on the essentials

Sitting in a client meeting this past week, I realized that so much of our success as managers and leaders lies in determining what we can realistically accomplish—and what we can’t… Continue reading 

Designers are the unsung heroes of communications

I’ve been working on a white paper for one of my clients, and this past week I got to see how the designer turned my copy into a fresh, reader-friendly piece that really pops… Continue reading 

Breathing life into the Valley of Dry Bones

My visits to Greensville Correctional Center, Virginia’s largest prison, remind me of one of Ezekiel’s visions. It’s the one in Ezekiel 37… Continue reading 

Libraries can teach us something about customer experience

When’s the last time you went to the library, and what did you go for? If you’re like most Americans, you’ve used your local library’s services at least once over the past 12 months… Continue reading 

The power of a handwritten letter

This week I’ve been writing letters to inmates at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt, Va. Forty-two handwritten letters to be exact… Continue reading 

Seven things not to do if you want good volunteers

Some years ago when I was volunteering on a board, the chairperson turned to me at a meeting and whispered, “I’ve given up way too much of my time for this organization.” I was surprised to hear her say that… Continue reading 

Stop procrastinating and start hustling

I’ve been thinking about writing about procrastination for some time now, but I keep putting it off. Ha, ha, but it’s true… Continue reading 

Honey, have you seen my Apple Watch?

All of a sudden, we are obsessed with watches. It started with those images of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his Rolex… Continue reading 

The blogs that got away…

This month marks the third anniversary of The Wayward Journey. It seems like a good time to take stock of how far I’ve come on the Journey… Continue reading 

From ‘good eats’ to fine dining…

Looking for a good restaurant to go to this weekend? Then this post is for you… Continue reading 

Why limitations can lead to greater creativity

My guitar teacher, Matt, likes to remind me that there are only 12 notes in music—A, A#, B, C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G and G#… Continue reading 

The ‘secrets’ to great leadership really aren’t secret

What makes a great leader? I’ve been posing that question to credit union CEOs for an article I’m writing for NAFCU’s magazine. Without spilling too many beans, let me share with you some “secrets” I’ve learned about great leadership… Continue reading 

Never send to know for whom the bell tolls

My brother Craig died 13 years ago at the end of August, two weeks before 9/11. It was a season of grief and sorrow as one fateful event spilled into another… Continue reading 

Are you a good steward or a bad steward?

Remember the scene in “The Wizard of Oz” when Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, asks Dorothy if she is a good witch or a bad witch?… Continue reading 

‘A great day lies ahead in the not-too-distant future’

I have a new Tuesday evening tradition. After my guitar lesson at Music & Arts, I head over to Panda Express for some stir-fry… Continue reading 

Best practices for blogging and posting on social media

Maybe I should go back to posting my blogs on Tuesdays…or Thursdays. Or maybe Saturday is best? We’ve all seen those articles about the best times to post on social media if you want to increase visits, shares or click-throughs… Continue reading 

Five things  you need to know about encore careers

Baby Boomers are reinventing retirement. Instead of fading into the sunset to enjoy piña coladas by the pool, they’re choosing to work longer—but not at just any job. Many are pursuing second-act or encore careers that combine their passion with a social purpose…Continue reading 

Writer’s block? Try tying yourself to a chair

John McPhee tried tying himself to a chair so that he would stay focused on his writing. Victor Hugo had his servant take away his clothes each morning and remained in his room (supposedly naked) until he finished writing for the day… Continue reading 

Keep your head in the clouds and your feet on the ground

Years ago, when I was working at a DC trade association, the CEO stopped by my office one night before heading out the door. “Why do businesses fail?” he asked me… Continue reading 

The seven habits of highly effective enterprises

McKinsey & Company published a short article a couple of weeks ago that is long on leadership and organizational insight. “The seven habits of highly effective digital enterprises” by ’Tunde Olanrewaju, Kate Smaje and Paul Willmott is worth a read… Continue reading

Is business dynamism on a permanent decline?

Last year I wrote a post that looked at some worrisome trends suggesting a decline in U.S. entrepreneurship. This was based on data compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development… Continue reading

Just 30 minutes a day

Today I pushed myself further than ever before in my exercise regimen. I turned on the treadmill. Actually, I’m getting better about exercising… Continue reading 

Life goes on…and that’s a good thing

Posted on 

Three months have gone by since I last posted here at The Wayward Journey. As the days and weeks passed, I imagined a great celebration in the blogosphere the day I finally pushed the “publish” button again… Continue reading 

Why the Beatles were so good: They practiced!

Posted on February 19, 2014

Last week, Washington celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ first concert in America with the tribute band Beatlemania Now taking the stage at the same venue (the Washington Coliseum)… Continue reading

Please, no more faux customer service!

Posted on February 12, 2014

Have you ever been the recipient of faux customer service? It’s service with a saccharin smile—plastic, mechanical and insincere… Continue reading →

Green socks, Hess trucks and the cocoon room

Posted on February 8, 2014

Over the past week I’ve been collecting nuggets of wisdom to impart to you, dear reader—veritable gems, I tell you. Actually, I’ve discovered that it’s far easier to string together three little stories than to write a regular blog post. … Continue reading →

Roy Rogers and ‘good’ brand incongruence

Posted on January 29, 2014

I didn’t make it up—“brand incongruence” is an actual term. It’s when a company or organization does something that is incongruent with its brand attributes… Continue reading →

The unintended consequences of change

Posted on January 23, 2014

Just before Christmas, I made a lot of changes to my 2009 Apple iMac computer. I installed new memory cards and doubled its RAM from 4 to 8GB. I upgraded the operating system to Apple’s newest Mavericks OS… Continue reading →

Ut prosim, Virginia Tech and fall commencement

Posted on December 23, 2013

There I was, a U.Va. graduate, in the heart of the Hokie Nation, watching my son receive his undergraduate degree in construction engineering from Virginia Tech… Continue reading →

Giving thanks for the things I don’t have

Posted on December 5, 2013

Walking through my house after being gone for four months, I was struck by what I hadn’t missed while I was away. I didn’t miss my belongings or the furniture or even the neighborhood… Continue reading →

The bald truth about power and leadership potential

Posted on November 20, 2013

In the mornings lately, when I take a shower and dry my hair, I’ve noticed a little thinning on top. Uh-oh. My hair has always been what shampoo makers call “fine,” but nowadays it seems to be even finer… Continue reading →

The magic of great branding

Posted on November 14, 2013

Who can explain why an Apple customer is willing to stand in line for hours for a new iPhone or why coffee drinkers will drive miles out of their way to find a Starbucks? It’s the magic of great branding… Continue reading →

The ‘incidental reader’ and the future of newspapers

Posted on November 8, 2013

Last week, I attended a very informative PRSA-NCC 20+ LeaderPack luncheon organized by D.C. PR pros Jeff Ghannam and Tracy Schario… Continue reading →

A blogger’s lament: ‘You were always on my mind’

Posted on November 5, 2013

I’m not a huge fan of country music, but I do like Willie Nelson. Maybe it’s because Willie has recorded so many great songs in a style that doesn’t strike me as excessively country… Continue reading →

Note to self: write a personal branding statement (now)

Posted on October 9, 2013

Is it asking too much to expect a high school student to know what career she wants to pursue? Probably. Okay, what about an adult? Shouldn’t adults know what they want out of life?… Continue reading →

Signs we’re going to have a harsh winter

Posted on October 4, 2013

This week I had a meeting downtown, which meant I had to dress up for a change. As I peered into the closet, I spied two nearly identical dark-blue slacks—one size 34 and the other size 36. I’m an optimist… Continue reading →

Give up trying to find your passion and just do it

Posted on October 2, 2013

I was reading Daniel Pink the other day and reflecting on one of his counterintuitive pieces of advice: “Give up trying to find your passion.”… Continue reading →

A teachable moment at Home Depot

Posted on September 27, 2013

The sales associate had dreadlocks and was as skinny as a rail. The customer was in her early 70s, short and a little plump. She could have been three times his age… Continue reading →

iOS 7 and the end of skeuomorphism

Posted on September 25, 2013

This past week, I learned a new word: skeuomorphism. A skeuomorph is an object or feature that imitates the design of a similar object made of a different material…Continue reading →

Oh, how we love (and hate) our social media

Posted on September 13, 2013

Those of us who use the popular WordPress blogging platform got quite a scare on Wednesday afternoon when, “poof,” all of our followers disappeared in front of our very eyes… Continue reading →

What business are you in? Or how not to be a railroad man

Posted on September 10, 2013

In his 1960 essay, “Marketing Myopia,” Harvard Business School professor Theodore Levitt famously asked readers to consider what business they were really in… Continue reading →

EMV ‘smart’ cards: the next big thing in payments

Posted on September 5, 2013

An article I wrote on EMV cards just came out in The Federal Credit Union magazine, a publication of the National Association of Federal Credit Unions. So today I’m going to tell you about EMV… Continue reading →

Stop the world, I need to make a decision!

Posted on August 29, 2013

Has this ever happened to you? You finally work up enough nerve to ask someone out, but the person already has a date. You ponder for days whether to put in for that new job at work… Continue reading →

What does a CEO want?

Posted on August 27, 2013

It seems that we are always guessing what CEOs want. Even the Mentalist would be hard-pressed to figure out some of the inscrutable things they say… Continue reading →

Don’t be a ‘dunce’ when it comes to blogging

Posted on August 20, 2013

Imagine that you’ve written what might well be the next great American novel. You submit it to Simon & Schuster, and they seem interested. They ask you for some rewrites, but ultimately they drop it… Continue reading →

How to hit your speech out of the park, metaphorically that is

Posted on August 15, 2013

As a communicator, I’ve spent my career helping organizations and their leaders better tell their story, so I’m always on the lookout for a good analogy or metaphor… Continue reading→

5 lessons children can teach us about employee engagement

Posted on August 13, 2013

You’d think that with all of the books, seminars and coaching out there on building winning teams, we’d be doing a better job of engaging employees… Continue reading →

On judging people and being a better conversationalist

Posted on August 8, 2013

Judging people is a difficult, but necessary part of running a business, managing a team or being a volunteer leader. It’s especially crucial if you are an independent consultant since you are often entrusting your future in partners, vendors and… Continue reading →

Evaluating Vine and other social media

Posted on August 6, 2013

I had lunch last week with my friend and former NAFCU colleague John Zimmerman, who showed me a clever 6-second video he made on Vine—a social media app that has gotten a lot of attention lately… Continue reading →

Protecting your good name in the digital age

Posted on August 1, 2013

From time to time I have tried to help out a small business owner in my neighborhood with marketing ideas and advice. Lately, we have been looking at Yelp and pondering how to mitigate the damage to her reputation… Continue reading →

‘Your current circumstance is not your conclusion’

Posted on July 30, 2013

I have written before about my involvement in the Kairos prison ministry program. This past weekend, our team from Northern Virginia spent two days at Greensville Correctional Center in southeastern Virginia… Continue reading →

Spaces, places and where we live

Posted on July 25, 2013

Good old Gaston Bachelard, the French philosopher who wrote about houses having souls. I was thinking about him recently as I prepared to rent my house to Gordon and Teca, a missionary couple from Brazil, and their family… Continue reading →

Too much information at my local Panera

Posted on July 23, 2013

I love Panera Bread, the bakery, salad, soup and sandwich chain that has great food at reasonable prices. I often go there around midday to grab some lunch, especially if I’ve been working from home… Continue reading →

Brand relevance and the art of finding your sweet spot

Posted on July 18, 2013

Reblogged from The PRSA-NCC Blog. I recently invited D.C. marketing expert Bob London to speak to the Independent Public Relations Alliance. He gave some great pointers on indie branding… Continue reading →

McKinsey’s 10 IT-enabled trends for the decade ahead

Posted on July 16, 2013

Last week, I wrote about the McKinsey Global Institute’s list of 12 most disruptive technologies; this week, I want to look at a companion piece from McKinsey: “Ten IT-enabled business trends for the decade ahead.”… Continue reading →

Mobile Internet tops list of McKinsey’s disruptive dozen

Posted on July 11, 2013

I am a big fan of the research that comes out of McKinsey & Company, and I’ve mentioned some of their work in previous posts. In May, they released two big trends pieces that I wanted to sink my teeth … Continue reading →

‘The only thing we have to fear is fear itself’

Posted on July 9, 2013

Ever since eighth-grade history class, when I first encountered those famous words by FDR, I’ve wondered about their meaning. How could you fear fear?… Continue reading →

Jefferson, revolution and independence

Posted on July 4, 2013

I had the good fortune of attending the University of Virginia, a school with many traditions associated with its celebrated founder Thomas Jefferson… Continue reading →

Watches, pocketknives and smartphones

Posted on July 2, 2013

It used to be that a watch and a pocketknife were the two most practical things a guy could carry (in addition to his wallet). Now days, it’s a smartphone… Continue reading →

Small Business Week, taxes and being ‘independent’

Posted on June 21, 2013

I meant to post this at the beginning of Small Business Week (June 16-22), but I was too busy being a small business. I suspect most of the nation’s 28 million small businesses probably weren’t celebrating much this week either… Continue reading →

Aristotle, mentoring and the friends we choose

Posted on May 31, 2013

A few weekends ago, I was searching for something to read and found a slim volume by Peter Taylor that had been gathering dust on my shelf. Taylor was the gifted short-story writer and novelist who won a Pulitzer Prize… Continue reading →

How to manage difficult animals (and people)

Posted on May 24, 2013

I was surprised last week while visiting the Smokies that spring hasn’t quite “sprung” yet in the mountains. Trees at the upper elevations were just starting to leaf, resulting in beautiful, photo-op-friendly shades of green and copper on the mountainsides… Continue reading →

‘Riding along in my automobile’

Posted on May 21, 2013

I recently took Augie, my 2006 Acura TL, on a road trip to the Great Smoky Mountains. We drove as far as Gatlinburg and then wandered up the Blue Ridge Parkway to Roanoke before heading back on 81… Continue reading →

One man’s austerity is another man’s opportunity

Posted on May 17, 2013

This past week, I had the privilege of guest-blogging on the Fletcher Prince blog, an excellent, long-running blog authored by D.C. public relations expert Mary Fletcher Jones. Below is my post in its entirety… Continue reading →

Words and the meaning of leadership

Posted on May 6, 2013

I can be very persnickety when it comes to words. I keep a dictionary and thesaurus program open on my desktop, alongside Word, as I write… Continue reading →

When being bamboozled is a good thing

Posted on April 19, 2013

Hobo: “What exactly is your persuasion on the big man?” Boy: “Well, I want to believe, but…” Hobo: “But you don’t want be bamboozled. You don’t want to be led down the primrose path. You don’t want be conned… Continue reading →

A sad state of affairs for America’s news media

Posted on April 17, 2013

Two journalists—Gwen Flanders, a breaking news editor at USA Today, and Arin Greenwood, associate editor for HuffPost DC—spoke at an Independent Public Relations Alliance luncheon I attended earlier this month… Continue reading →

Alzheimer’s, my mom and David Hilfiker of Joseph’s House

Posted on April 6, 2013

It was late afternoon on a perfect October day, and I was walking across the neatly landscaped grounds of the retirement community where my parents live. My mom was next to me, stopping to look at plants and flowers… Continue reading →

Powering through those painful ‘slog’ days

Posted on April 2, 2013

When I began The Wayward Journey in the fall of 2011, I noted that there are many ups and downs on the road to establishing your own business. One of the bumps that I often stumble on is staying motivated… Continue reading →

Hey, dreamer, start paying attention to your firm’s goals!

Posted on March 27, 2013

I rarely remember my dreams; and when I do, they generally aren’t about work. Usually some childhood fear rears its ugly head, and once again I am reliving the anxiety of forgetting my homework, failing a test… Continue reading →

Free e-tools and apps for the busy professional

Posted on March 21, 2013

We’ve all had those exasperating moments at the office when we stomp and fume, “There’s got to be a better way of doing this!”… Continue reading →

Technology, generations and the joy of creating

Posted on March 12, 2013

A visit from a five-year-old, the recent purchase of an iPhone 5 and fond memories of recording my own “shows” with a Craig 212 tape recorder got me thinking about technology, generations and creativity… Continue reading →

Don’t be a creature of habit, change your routine!

Posted on March 6, 2013

The other day I had one of those Aha! moments. It was such a small thing that at first I didn’t think much of it. But as I contemplated my “discovery,” I realized it had repercussions… Continue reading →

Is America the best place on Earth for entrepreneurs?

Posted on February 27, 2013

Now that I’m self-employed, I run into a lot of other independent business people. Call us indies or solo practitioners—we’re the ones with the big ideas and the not-so-big bank accounts… Continue reading →

Love, leadership and Valentine’s Day

Posted on February 14, 2013

Flip through radio stations or your own collection of CDs and MP3s, and I bet every other song will be about some aspect of love or romance. Looking for love, falling in love, falling out of love, breaking up… Continue reading →

Why is delegating so hard? Let me count the ways

Posted on February 12, 2013

I am not the best at delegating. And judging by the volume of “how-to” articles on this subject in journals like HBR, I’m not alone. Many executives and leaders fall down when it comes to delegating… Continue reading →

Snow-deprived in D.C.

Posted on February 9, 2013

Here in D.C., it’s sunny and clear in the Land of Unsnow. Up north, it’s wall-to-wall snow; it’s our Snowmageddon of a few years ago times two… Continue reading →

‘What is it you do again?’ or how to explain the indie life

Posted on February 8, 2013

It’s surprising how you can be working in the same profession, doing the same kinds of things you’ve always done, but if you’re not attached to a company you become an enigma in the minds of many… Continue reading →

Add one more to the pile of discarded technology

Posted on February 5, 2013

My first and oldest iPod died last week. The dreaded Sad iPod icon appeared on the screen… Continue reading →

5 keys to better time management in your organization

Posted on January 30, 2013

Perhaps you made it a New Year’s resolution to better manage your time. If you did, you’re not alone. I have wrestled with time management for most of my career… Continue reading →

13 trends for 2013, courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Posted on January 25, 2013

Last month, Ford released its first-ever trend report, “Looking Further with Ford: 13 Trends for 2013.”… Continue reading →

10 sure-fire ways to disengage and be left alone

Posted on January 23, 2013

If you’re like me, there are times when you just want to be left alone. No phone calls, no emails, no tweets, no text messages, no interruptions or meetings… Continue reading →

Brand awareness and a glass of red wine

Posted on January 17, 2013

On one of the warmer afternoons we had last week, Debbie and I escaped to The Winery at Bull Run, where we tried a couple of the red wines… Continue reading →

‘I’ve got a name’ or personal branding 101

Posted on January 15, 2013

Why does Jim Croce’s “I’ve Got a Name” come to mind whenever I hear the words “personal branding”?… Continue reading →

The true measure of a man

Posted on January 11, 2013

The other day, I was at Annandale Florist, a family-owned business that recently closed its doors after 56 years. A group of us were helping the owner, Gary Sherfey, clean out the shop… Continue reading →

7 tips for achieving your New Year’s resolutions

Posted on January 8, 2013

There’s something noble about resolving to improve yourself or better the world. On the other hand, we humans seem hardwired for failure… Continue reading →

Very Inspiring Blogger and Sunshine Awards

Posted on January 2, 2013

With the beginning of the New Year, I’d like to gratefully acknowledge two blogging awards that David Kanigan nominated me for last year—the Very Inspiring Blogger Award and the Sunshine Award… Continue reading →

4 fears you need to eliminate to become more creative

Posted on December 20, 2012

In my last post, I wrote about the power of prototyping, something that the international design firm IDEO has used quite effectively to help companies become more innovative… Continue reading →

Try prototyping to jump-start your next project

Posted on December 11, 2012

It was the night before a client meeting where we would be discussing ideas for a brochure, and I spread out on my kitchen counter some photos I had pulled off the Internet and some preliminary copy I had drafted… Continue reading →

Giving and the high performance leader

Posted on December 6, 2012

Starting with Thanksgiving and continuing throughout the holiday season, most of us spend a lot of time thinking about giving… Continue reading →

Story time isn’t just for bedtime

Posted on December 4, 2012

“Hey, kids, who wants to hear a story?” As a child, those words were music to my ears and still are today. After all, who doesn’t like to hear a good story?… Continue reading →

Powerball, homelessness and having enough

Posted on November 30, 2012

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about “how much is enough,” mostly in the context of my little PR and marketing firm… Continue reading →

Content marketing, storytelling and blogging

Posted on November 20, 2012

“Content marketing” is all the talk these days among marketers and advertisers… Continue reading →

Letting go and moving on

Posted on November 14, 2012

Last month, I wrote about the power of forgiveness and how learning to forgive yourself (as well as others) is essential for personal growth and change… Continue reading →

Exercise, health and having a purpose

Posted on November 8, 2012

Exercise is one of those things that you either love or hate. All my life, I have firmly been in the “hate” camp. Forcing myself to exercise just seems to be the low point of my day… Continue reading →

Psst! Does your organization have a gossip problem?

Posted on November 6, 2012

Dave Ramsey’s most recent EntreLeadership Advisor newsletter is entitled “Silence is Golden” and is on the debilitating effect that gossip can have on a workplace… Continue reading →

The captain is on the bridge

Posted on November 1, 2012

My son gave me a copy of “Around the Year with Emmet Fox: A Book of Daily Readings” for Christmas last year… Continue reading →

Leadership, Sandy and ‘being prepared’

Posted on October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy is just making landfall, but its massive power has been felt up and down the East Coast… Continue reading →

Is time on your side when it comes to social media

Posted on October 25, 2012

Do you think you can manage your social media each day in just 18 minutes? Lisa Buyer of Search Engine Watch, picking up on the popular time management book by Peter Bregman called “18 Minutes,” suggests that it’s possible… Continue reading →

Judging the value of a college degree

Posted on October 23, 2012

Recently, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance ranked “the worst majors for your career.” Kiplinger looked at the likelihood of graduates finding employment in their field… Continue reading →


Posted on October 18, 2012

Forgiveness is a wonderfully liberating and healing act. It frees you to move on, to advance to new stages in your life… Continue reading →

‘Nothing happens until someone sells something’

Posted on October 16, 2012

A common lament among employees-turned-entrepreneurs is that they are unaccustomed to scratching for business… Continue reading →

In life it’s always good to ‘test drive’ major changes

Posted on October 11, 2012

The USA Today Money section recently ran a story advising Baby Boomers to “test-drive” retirement while they are still working. That’s good advice, I thought, and I’m living it… Continue reading →

‘Do it now!’ or intentional vs. accidental growth

Posted on October 9, 2012

I’ve been reading selections from John Maxwell’s new e-book, “The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth,” which hit digital book stores last week…Continue reading →

Rachel Carson and ‘pigtail’ light bulbs

Posted on October 4, 2012

Last week was the 50th anniversary of the publication of Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring,” the book that many say launched the environmental movement…Continue reading →

6 lessons from the journey, one year in

Posted on October 2, 2012

This past week marks the one-year anniversary of The Wayward Journey.… Continue reading →

Entrepreneur meets leader in Ramsey’s ‘EntreLeadership’

Posted on September 27, 2012

I attended a seminar last week by best-selling author and “get-out-of-debt” money expert Dave Ramsey… Continue reading →

Exploding the boundaries of social media

Posted on September 25, 2012

There was a time when I paid a lot of attention to “the Other” and all those post-modern concepts that preoccupied academia during the “culture wars.”… Continue reading →

The brothers Morris, together again

Posted on September 20, 2012

When my brother and I were younger, we sometimes were mistaken for each other, as if we were twins… Continue reading →

On the threshold of a dream…

Posted on September 18, 2012

Have you ever felt that you’re standing on the threshold of a dream? Maybe you’ve gotten in on the ground floor of the “next big thing.” Or you’re part of something that just might change history… Continue reading →

Dealing with uncertainty

Posted on September 14, 2012

In these economic times, you can’t really escape uncertainty. Even Warren Buffett, I would guess, lies awake some nights wondering if he invested in the right companies… Continue reading →

Do you suffer from passive-aggressive neatness?

Posted on September 4, 2012

I seem to go through these phases: One day I’m a lazy, disorganized slob; the next I’m a super-charged neatnik who absolutely must control his environment… Continue reading →

Marketing is dead. Long live marketing!

Posted on August 29, 2012

Here’s how to get a few extra hits on your blog or website: Declare something that is obviously not dead (yet) “dead,” as in: “The Internet is dead. TV is dead. Print is dead. Blogging is dead.”… Continue reading →

Happy birthday, Augie!

Posted on August 23, 2012

Once upon a time, I had many obsessions. I was obsessed with money, success, work, clothes, my house and lawn—you name it… Continue reading →

Become a missionary for your cause or company

Posted on August 22, 2012

On Saturday, I returned home from a mission trip to Mozambique where I had the privilege of working with a group of Methodist missionaries who are making a difference in rural Cambine…Continue reading →

The lessons I take to Mozambique

Posted on July 31, 2012

This Friday, I leave for Mozambique, part of an 11-member mission team that will spend two weeks in Africa… Continue reading →

It makes no sense to have a plan if you don’t review it

Posted on July 26, 2012

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the importance of having a written plan—whether that’s a business, financial or life plan—and the value of writing things down… Continue reading →

‘What are we doing about this?’

Posted on July 24, 2012

Have you ever received an e-mail or note from a boss or board member—usually with an article attached—that simply says, “What are we doing about this?”… Continue reading →

6 lessons we can learn from U.Va.’s leadership crisis

Posted on July 19, 2012

Most of the time I’m proud of my alma mater, the University of Virginia. But when it was in the news so much last month, I cringed with each new report of trouble… Continue reading →

Are you adding value to your organization?

Posted on July 17, 2012

“Make yourself indispensable” is one of those career bromides you often hear when you’re first starting out, but how many people really do make themselves indispensable… Continue reading →

Good-bye resources, hello 50 posts

Posted on July 16, 2012

Last Thursday marked my 50th post on The Wayward Journey… Continue reading →

The value of a written plan

Posted on July 12, 2012

It’s been said that we spend more time planning vacations and weddings than we do our careers, finances or business… Continue reading →

I’m back…

Posted on July 10, 2012

I honestly did not intend to go “dark” for a whole month when I last posted on June 7. But one thing led to another, and so today I am ending a longer-than-expected hiatus… Continue reading →

Facebook fatigue…and remembering Ray Bradbury

Posted on June 7

Friends, do you suffer from Facebook fatigue? LinkedIn lassitude? Twitter torpor? No longer gaga for Google+?… Continue reading →

Passion and integrity from Alan122 of Detroit

Posted on June 5, 2012

I have become a fan of “Shouting from the Rooftop,” a blog by Alan122… Continue reading →

Burger King delivers…and the world’s biggest bride

Posted on May 30, 2012

Yes, it’s a strange juxtaposition, but as Dave Barry would say, “I am not making this up.”… Continue reading →

‘Things couldn’t be better’

Posted on May 25, 2012

Many years ago, when I first came to Washington to work as a newsletter editor, I got to know my printer’s sales representative pretty well… Continue reading →

How many of these 10 habits are you ‘passionate’ about?

Posted on May 22, 2012

My thanks to David Kanigan at Lead.Learn.Live. for putting me onto an excellent piece by M.A. Tohami called “The 10 Habits of Passionate People.”… Continue reading →

8 things you absolutely have to do to make it as an indie

Posted on May 17, 2012

Seven months into my new life as an independent public relations practitioner, and I am still learning every day… Continue reading →

Maybe success is ‘living meaningfully well’

Posted on May 15, 20

When I embarked on the Wayward Journey last September, I dreamily contemplated a sabbatical of self-examination, writing and study, coupled with starting my own business… Continue reading →

I’m no Alton Brown, or 7 lessons learned from (not) cooking

Posted on May 10, 2012

Sure, I’ve been known to watch the Food Network, but that doesn’t mean I’m a foodie… Continue reading →

Making our way around the Internet

Posted on May 8, 2012

We bloggers often direct our readers to the work of others. In fact, that is the whole point of blogging—to share with each other… Continue reading →

Celebrating the loss of my late mustache

Posted on May 4, 2012

It’s been a year since I shaved off and unceremoniously washed down the sink a 35-year companion and confidante—my mustache, my friend, my alter ego! … Continue reading →

Hats off to longevity and late bloomers

Posted on May 1, 2012

I’ve been reading in small doses Jacques Barzun’s acclaimed “From Dawn to Decadence: 1500 to the Present.”… Continue reading →

Hard evidence that soft leadership skills matter

Posted on April 25, 2012

It’s interesting that Inc. and the McKinsey Quarterly both had articles this week on what you might call the softer or “emotional intelligence” side of leadership… Continue reading →

Are you a filer or a piler?

Posted on April 20, 2012

Tax season has again come to a close, bringing with it many firm resolutions to be better organized next time around… Continue reading →

Avoid these 10 pitfalls when having ‘difficult talks’

Posted on April 17, 201

Having what executive coach Alan Cohen calls a “difficult talk” with an employee, business partner or client isn’t easy… Continue reading →

Remembering Robin Johnston: ‘Mission accomplished’

Posted on April 12, 2012

Sometimes events stir up memories. Disparate strands become tangled. Thoughts converge. Then sweet reflection, followed by a blessed “Aha!” moment… Continue reading →

‘If ever there were a spring day so perfect’

Posted on April 9, 2012

If ever there were a spring day so perfect, so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze that it made you want to throw open all the windows in the house and unlatch the door to the canary’s cageContinue reading →

Climbing on the bus is just the beginning of the journey

Posted on April 5, 2012

From literature and cinema we learn that momentous changes can net larger-than-life results… Continue reading →

Are you watching your business or just letting it be?

Posted on April 3, 2012

I’m not a big fan of going to the dentist, but there is one thing my dentist does that leaders and business owners can benefit from, and that’s having a “watch list.”… Continue reading →

Leadership lessons from Jobs, Isaacson and Collins

Posted on March 30, 2012

If you didn’t have time to read Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, you can now read a shorter, condensed take on the Apple cofounder’s management style… Continue reading →

‘Strumming my six-string’ or how I met Parker

Posted on March 28, 2012

I have a Parkwood acoustic guitar that I call Parker. He and I have been together now since the fall of 2007… Continue reading →

Change isn’t an iPhone app

Posted on March 26, 2012

I was in a meeting the other day, and someone threw out the phrase “change management” as if it were an app you could download… Continue reading →

Random thoughts on this fine spring day

Posted on March 21, 2012

What a glorious morning. I watched for a little while as the men laid sod at Debbie’s house… Continue reading →

Learning to lead and live from David Kanigan’s blog

Posted on March 19, 2012

There are some excellent blogs out there, and one that I highly recommend is Lead.Learn.Live. by David Kanigan… Continue reading →

Putting balance in your life in 7 key areas

Posted on March 15, 2012

How many of us have achieved that elusive balance in our lives—successfully juggling career, family, exercise, learning, volunteering, and faith and spirituality?… Continue reading →

Try a little online kindness, it may be contagious

Posted on March 8, 2012

Last week I had the opportunity to hear a number of excellent speakers at several venues… Continue reading →

The ‘quiet’ storm: unleashing the power of introverts

Posted on March 1, 2012

By now, you’ve probably heard about Susan Cain’s new book, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.”…Continue reading →

‘Catch-up’ Thursday: eParachute and entrepreneurship

Posted on February 23, 2012

Last November, when I posted on the remarkable longevity of Dick Bolles’ “What Color is Your Parachute,” I noted that a new electronic version of the book was being readied…Continue reading →

Ding, ding, ding: 20 posts in 20 weeks!

Posted on February 16, 2012

When I published my 20th post last week, WordPress gave me a gold star… Continue reading →

Reassessing Steve Jobs

Posted on February 9, 2012

My post last month about Steve Jobs drew more comments than anything I’ve written about so far… Continue reading →

Emotional intelligence, or confessions of a male model

Posted on February 1, 2012

I’ve spent more time than I care to admit poring over stock photos on websites like, looking for images I can use for my JMC website… Continue reading →

What we need is more giving and less getting

Posted on January 26, 2012

Watching President Obama deliver his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, I thought of another young, charismatic president, John F. Kennedy… Continue reading →

Seriously, it’s okay to promote yourself

Posted on January 19, 2012

For most of my career, I’ve been a “PR guy.” It’s been my job to make my bosses look good… Continue reading →

The ups and downs of a solo career

Posted on January 11, 2012

Flying solo can have its moments of doubt and despair, as in, “What the heck was I thinking when I decided to start my own firm? Who’s going to pay the mortgage?” … Continue reading →

WWSJD (What Would Steve Jobs Do)?

Posted on January 4, 2012

I’ve been reading Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, which describes the late Apple CEO’s obsession with branding, product design and customer experience… Continue reading →

Practice makes (nearly) perfect

Posted on December 28, 2011

Many years ago when I was a young, budding writer (or so I thought), I received quite a blow to my tender ego from the esteemed scholar and critic E.D. Hirsch Jr… Continue reading →

4-year-olds and SMART goals

Posted on December 21, 2011

Reflecting on time spent recently with Miss Kylie, a 4-year-old who often visits us, I have come to realize that toddlers have much to teach adults about SMART goals… Continue reading →

Put in-person socializing on your to-do list

Posted on December 13, 2011 ran a piece yesterday by freelance writer Kevin Purdy entitled “Why In-Person Socializing is a Mandatory To-Do Item” that underscores many of the points I’ve made in previous posts here at Wayward Journey… Continue reading →

Accountability groups, success circles and self-discipline

Posted on December 9, 2011

No doubt about it, the possibilities for success in this country are limitless. There’s boundless potential. The sky’s the limit…and all you have to do is go out there and get it. Oh, if it were that easy. … Continue reading →

Black Friday, business plans and the homeless

Posted on November 28, 2011

As I write this, the stock market is going crazy, buoyed by news that this weekend’s Black Friday retail sales increased 16 percent to reach a record $52 billion… Continue reading →

It’s the economy, stupid

Posted on November 21, 2011

For much of my career in Washington, I’ve paid close attention to economic indicators and financial markets, something I always found ironic given that I have a master’s degree in English… Continue reading →

The importance of friendship and community

Posted on November 16, 2011

Starting a new business, beginning a new career or dealing with life changes requires not only a great deal of personal reflection and self-examination, it also is best done with the help and support of friends, colleagues and community… Continue reading →

Birthdays, Bolles and parachutes

Posted on November 8, 2011

I recently celebrated a birthday. It wasn’t one of those milestone birthdays that ends in a zero or five, but, nonetheless, it was a reminder that the years are quickly going by and I am powerless to do anything about it… Continue reading →

Caution: naming your new biz may be harder than you think

Posted on October 27, 2011

Over the last month or so, I have grappled with naming my new solo public relations practice. Trying to name any new venture can be a real challenge… Continue reading →

H stands for hernia, hold up and humility

Posted on October 24, 2011

When it comes to medical concerns, no one likes to hear the H word. Generally that’s heart attack, heart disease or heart-valve bypass. For me, H stands for hernia… Continue reading →

Relax, reconnect and recharge: easier said than done!

Posted on October 16, 2011

I am not a good patient. If the doctor tells me to rest, I get up. If my girlfriend tells me to unplug my electronic toys, I can’t help but sneak a peak at my BlackBerry… Continue reading →

Not every day can be a perfect 10 – or can it?

Posted on October 3, 2011

It’s hard when you’re changing careers, launching a new business or going through a major transition in your life to be positive 100 percent of the time… Continue reading →

Purpose and entrepreneurship

Posted on September 30, 2011

I recently attended the Public Relations Society of America’s Thoth Awards Gala at the National Press Club. It’s a popular annual event that honors the best public relations work in the Washington, D.C. area… Continue reading →

Extreme career makeover

Posted on September 27, 2011

This is my first post on my first personal blog, and I have to admit I’m a bit intimidated. I have written professionally for over 30 years… Continue reading →