JFD Blog


Why History Matters: Sharing Organizational Legacy

It’s become popular to believe Millennials don’t care about the past…that all they are interested in is right now and what’s ahead. But I suspect Millennials are no different in this respect than any other generation. As with those who preceded them, the newest generation to enter the work force is simply eager to chart their own path unrestrained by the errors and follies of their predecessors.

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In Praise of Business

Isn’t it kind of weird that while the media-opolis is caterwauling about the doom at our doorstep, out here in the real world, business is “getting it done”? Maybe it’s always been that way, some people talking, some people working. But there is a surreal irony watching the contrast between what we are hearing and what is actually happening every day.

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Triple Threat Leaders

In theater, we celebrate those Triple Threat performers who excel in not one, not two, but three distinct disciplines. Attending a recent performance that was a threat or two short of the caliber I’d been expecting got me thinking about the rarity of Triple Threat performers not only on the stage, but in the world of business.

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The Day After...Across Time

As Main Street and Wall Street await with trepidation the U.S. presidential election returns, tonight seems an appropriate time to ponder the most valuable lesson the art world can impart to the world of commerce. Those who have been blessed with a classic liberal arts education are likely to survive the outcome of tonight’s election with some measure of grace, recognizing in this real-world drama unsettling patterns we’ve seen grappled with and overcome before, by characters who are as real to us as the friends with whom we share this time and place in history.

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An Actor’s Guide to Workplace Presentations

I recently stumbled across a rudimentary guideline I put together years ago for actors participating in Readers Theater. Not surprisingly, these simple rules make equally good sense for presentations made in the corporate arena. Next time you are scheduled to take your place on the corporate “stage,” take a quick run through these guidelines as you prepare for your big moment.

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This is NOT an Easy Read

I’ll be the first to admit that I have shed tears over a 60 second commercial, so please don’t take this the wrong way – but why have so many intelligent people acquiesced without protest to the minute-is-all-it-takes syndrome? On the literary side, we have steadily regressed from the three act… to the two act… to the one act… to the ten minute…and finally (blink and you will miss it) the one minute play. On the marketing side, the once standard 2400 word “long-form” article is now 800 words…the 30 second commercial has shrunk down to a 140-character Tweet or, better yet, a photos-only-please Instagram. Ephemeral messaging is rapidly displacing deep-dive writing as the new norm.

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The Critic as Autobiographer

At one time, virtually all literary critics were participants in some aspect of the art form they were critiquing – and for good reason. There was an assumption that only those intimately acquainted with a particular art form could do a creditable job of criticizing it. This now-antiquated custom had an added benefit: it fostered a level of civility amongst professionals who were loath to poison their darts knowing that a return volley might be headed their own way in the not-too-distant future.

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Labor of Love

When I started this series of essays three months ago, my objective was personal. I wanted to better understand how my avocation of playwriting and my vocation as a strategic communications specialist intersect and influence each other.

Well, it being Labor Day, I thought now would be a good time to assess where I stand in relation to this dual career. The truth is, I could not continue to develop and implement communications successfully for my clients for so many years if I didn’t truly love what I do. Anyone familiar with the Siren Call of creative work stirred solely by one’s own inner voice will immediately understand that the responsibility of earning a living is not strong enough to pull oneself away from that lure for long.

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The Theater of the Mind

You may have seen the Terry Teachout story in the Wall Street Journal a few weeks back essentially complaining that "the spell of the stage" is nowhere to be found "on the page" in today's play scripts. For a couple of generations now, playwrights have been taught their words should be "heard" but not "seen," with the gurus of theater education insisting that everything except the dialogue belongs to the director rather than the playwright.

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The Stories We Tell

When I was in my 30s, and confronting some serious life challenges, I remember asking my father why it was that grown-ups spend so much time telling fairy tales to children given the fact that in real life things don’t always end happily. To his eternal credit, he took the question seriously, answering without hesitation, “If you knew how hard things were going to be, you’d have given up before you started.”

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Persona and the Art of Improv

Creating personas based on the demo- and psycho- graphic profiles of targeted audiences has been a standard technique in marketing communications for at least a decade. Like so many other aspects of our business, this technique has its roots in the art of scriptwriting.

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All the World’s a Stage

Organizational content creation is a lot like playwriting. It needs a sound infrastructure to soar skyward, but its bones ought to remain selectively invisible. The art, of course, is in knowing when to expose and when to obscure.

In theater, this is called text versus sub-text…

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Motivation: What's in it for Me?

Have you heard the story about the actor playing the ambulance driver in A Streetcar Named Desire? When asked what the play is about, he explains how it’s really all about his character. People outside the theater often laugh at this story, assuming it’s an anecdote about the oversized egos of actors. But any actor who has actually given life to a character knows that for him or her, the story they are living on stage, however brief they walk upon it, really is about them, and what has brought them to that particular moment.

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Brainstorming as Rehearsal

According to Brainstorming.co.uk, ad exec Alex Osborn introduced the idea of brainstorming to the world of marketing in 1941, and the process subsequently spread to a wide array of development challenges, from industrial product R&D and governmental policy to management methods and start-up idea factories. Yet today, within its crucible of marketing, the brainstorming ideal devised by Osborn is often mimicked but rarely replicated – largely due to a lack, not of creativity, but of leadership.

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Two Roads Meeting

I have been writing every day of my life for 35 years, some times vocationally…some times avocationally. But always, writing.

Associates on the vocational side of The Great Divide are either unaware of my avocational interests or tolerate them somewhat quizzically, oblivious of how much my creative life contributes to the quality of my work on their behalf.

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