h1

On the Eve of Independence

August 15, 2012

I have found myself saying, “I can’t believe how fast time has gone” more and more these past five years of being a parent. Almost to the point where I know I am annoying other people because I am annoying myself. But the truth is, it has gone fast. Tomorrow my first child… my little girl… my sweetie… is going to kindergarten.

Addi has given me the greatest gift I could have ever been given, the opportunity to be a father to a daughter. I’ve had to learn patience, how to remove a “piggy holder” without pulling hair, change a diaper, cry and not feel unmanly, love deeper than I ever have, and to understand and embrace change.

It is that last one that gets us all. It hits us deep. Our little ones aren’t so little. They aren’t so dependent. They are growing up and in a fast way.

It all hit me tonight. Maybe I internalized it, maybe I tried to avoid it, but it is here. As a parent none of us are really prepared, how could you? Until you have been through 12 weeks of sleep deprivation, spit up, mustard poop, crying (from all involved), when does the belly button fall off, and any other first time parent stresses, as a civilization we would have died off long ago if this thing came with a pre-test.

Those first 12 weeks of her life seem so distant now. She has changed, I have changed, our family has changed, our lives have changed.

Addi, I know you’ll do well, not just in kindergarten, but in life. Your sense of humor, your compassion, your competitiveness, your kind heart, your smile, will all serve you well. I have had the privilege of seeing you grow as a helpless infant into a classy and fabulous five year old who has helped her old man understand the importance and priority of things in life. You have given me an even greater love and respect for my parents, your mother, your brother, my sister, our entire family and friends, and that what we do in life means nothing, if we aren’t living for something greater than our own self.

When you get on the steps of that bus tomorrow and we wave as you head off on your next journey, don’t forget the thousands of amazing steps we have already taken in your first five years together. I only wish with every step you take, I could hold your hand, because it is so damn hard to let go.

I’m proud of you. I adore you. I love you Addi.
Dad

Advertisements
h1

We are…losing grasp on what is important

November 10, 2011

After all the events that transpired since the weekend and then the 10:00 news conference last night, I am, like many, saddened.

But not like most die-hard Penn State fans. Not like the ones who are crying foul that their beloved head coach has been treated so poorly by administration, media, and some fans; that he himself has faced a criminal act. No I am sad that people are placing a higher value on the game of football and a coach, than the true criminals who hurt and abused countless little boys in University facilities.

How can anyone lose sight that the real issue here isn’t an NCAA violation, it is the violation and vile acts against innocent children? Sure, I am bitter. I spent 35 years cheering for a man and program that up until last week I would have defended like my own. And the weight of feeling cheated and let down is crushing.

I can see why people can’t let go and acknowledge this was indeed the right thing to do. In a world that seems to get more violent, disgraceful, disgusting, and selfish every day; there was a man whose values rose above those acts; a man who single-handedly changed a game, a city, a University, and even a culture.

And it just that reason why I feel no sympathy or sadness for Joe. Had he truly been the man above, he would have used that idol status that so many in central PA and around the country anointed him, to do the right thing. To go above and beyond a protocol, to tirelessly defend those who can’t defend themselves, and selflessly, not selfishly put himself out there at all costs.

Everyone makes mistakes and ironically the biggest mistake this icon made, might be the best lesson he inadvertently taught. As a society, we all fail, when we sit idly by and hope someone else will make things better. All 6’5 and 230 of Mike McQueary could have been used to stop a stomach churning event and helped a little boy who God only knows how much he has suffered and sadly will probably always continue to do so. Instead he cowardly left, he left the facilities. He talked to his father and then to Joe and they left it up to someone else, who then left that repulsive excuse for a human, back into their facilities until last week.

I hope as a society we all take back responsibility, accountability, and respect in ourselves so that we feel empowered as individuals to make a difference and do the right thing, especially when those decisions and actions impact the world’s greatest gift, our children.

I’m not sure if I will watch this weekend. I so badly want to move on and cheer loudly for the 125 young men who want nothing more than to escape on the football field and do what they love. They have done nothing wrong. However, at this time cheering for a game seems wrong and almost inappropriate in light of what has happened. I’d rather cheer knowing that those guilty will never see the light of day again and for any victims who have overcome this. It is their strength, comfort, and peace I pray for.

h1

One love

April 19, 2011

My son turned one today and I am amazed at how fast the year has gone. This time last year, my wife went into labor, we believe, due to the smoked ribs my friend Tad made for us the night before. Jill headed home and I stayed for drinks. It didn’t hit me until the next day that it was the last time it would just be my wife, daughter, and me at our home.

Since the first time I saw his face until now he obviously has changed. He started out with jet-black greasy hair to now stick straight blonde hair like his mother. He is almost walking and is showing signs of his dad’s impatience, temper, and sense of humor (especially bathroom jokes.) And as he has changed, I am constantly changing and learning lessons too.

Just this past weekend, we had a baby shower for a fraternity brother and his wife expecting a son themselves here soon. And upon arriving at the party, hugs, handshakes, and hi-fives gave way to conversations, laughing, and advice for the new parents. I love those guys. They are really more family than friends, and we pick up quickly from the last time we saw each other, even if it was a year ago. So Cam, lesson one that I have learned is you will never be alone, never be lost, and never without a smile with great friends.

After the party we all went back and got our kids and brought them together at the expecting parents house. What a torturous thing to do for two people waiting to have their first child…fill their house with six kids all under the age of five. (No turning back now, Mr. and Mrs. Benson.) Within five minutes our daughters and sons were playing, laughing, and having a good time with each other. And for some, they just met. Our kids know no prejudice; they don’t care about money, religion, or politics. The girls like big girl shoes and candy necklaces, the boys popping balloons with their mouths and throwing things. Cam, lesson number two. Be open, honest, and respectful to each person you meet.  Don’t ever lose the gift of seeing people for what we really are…people.

And yesterday we had our big first birthday party. Family and friends joined us and watched as Cam decorated himself in cake and blue frosting. All the while, he just laughed, half-naked and all. Cam, here comes lesson three. Never take yourself too serious. I sure as hell don’t. I’m not perfect and never will be. That doesn’t stop me from trying to be great, rather knowing that mistakes are part of the game makes the score easier to tolerate when we don’t win. Keep smiling and give it all you have.

And the last lesson goes without saying. Your dad loves you and always will. You’ll never know how strong that love is until you have kids of your own; so for now trust me and thank you. Thank you for being my little man.

Happy birthday son.

h1

When he passes the name

April 1, 2011

Time passes without asking, yet we ask for more
Pain can end quickly, yet burns forever more
We make peace with what we have been dealt
But that doesn’t take away the hurt that was felt
When we look in the mirror, we do not see our faces
Rather our fathers are looking back at us from different places
Pictures stir memories, some of which were distant
But the bond in sharing is easily reminiscent
Of times when things were easy and care free
Now we must face life and its harsh cruelty
Since we were born we shared more than we really new
And as we grew those characteristics grew too
As we seek out and ask for answers we may never find
We must be comforted knowing that all the time
We were really him and he was really us
A father and son’s love, more special and glorious
So when he passes the name, we must show the world
That the lessons we learned from him we did not ignore
Because one day too we will pass the name
But not yet…not yet… there is too much life to gain.

 

h1

Designing the future.

March 1, 2011

Last week I had the privilege to sit down and talk creative strategy, critical thinking, and innovative ideas with two junior visual communications classes at the Herron School of Art.

A close friend of mine from high school, Professor Jeff Tzucker (wow, does that sound funny) invited me in to “critique” the work his and Marcia Stone’s students were presenting this week to their clients. They had all been separated into groups, “small agencies”, and were paired with real clients looking to re-brand, in some cases launch a brand, and get their message out.

I got a little of what I expected and a whole lot of the unexpected. I expected to see creativity in visual form. And I did. There was some serious eye candy. I expected to see some students fighting the internal struggles of what to do and how to do it. Check. And I expected to feel the fun and excitement of being back in a college setting. Check there too. I witnessed a Cheez-It run, a tub’o’animal crackers, and lots of amazingly cool style. I was thankful, unlike my college and fraternity experience I was not overcome by the smell of cheap whiskey and waffles. (That will be a blog for another time.)

What I didn’t expect to encounter was the unbelievable amount of strategic thinking and prepping before the designs were created. These students knew their intended audience, they understood their client and clients’ personalities, and they knew their creative vision would only be worth it’s salt…if it worked hard to achieve a measurable result.

This is an obvious reflection of Jeff and Marcia’s guidance but also that young, fresh, and curious mind working hard to discover, process, and digest information. It always seems that no matter how many times I step back in the classroom, I always leave feeling refreshed myself. And thankful that I have pursued a career in an industry that changes daily and critical and strategic thinking is a must.

The future is bright for our industry.  With young people like the ones at Herron, there will certainly be no shortage of ideas, innovation, and intelligence joining the creative landscape in the next couple of years.

“You see things; and say, “Why?” But I dream things that never were; and say, “Why not?”
George Bernard Shaw

h1

I haven’t had a bad day.

February 17, 2011

As funny as that sounds I need to remind myself of just that. I haven’t had a bad day.

My wife recently shared another sad story from her work at Riley. I’ll save the details except that another preventable and unthinkable act was taken and the result is a child who will live the rest of their life hooked up to a machine. The child was never really loved and will never experience the most simple of activities going forward. Sliding down a slide, walking in a park, and even giving a hug. I never faced such adversity as a child. I have a loving family who has supported, encouraged, loved, and fostered my growth even as an adult.

I haven’t had a bad day.

One of our close friends is a facing a battle with their child that I can only image tests every fiber of their being and every thread of their core. I don’t know how they do it and I only hope that one day I can be that strong. Honestly, I actually hope I never have to be that strong. My kids are laughing, my kids are growing, my kids are healthy and my kids are loved.

I haven’t had a bad day.

I recently read another story about a young person who committed suicide as a result of bullying. Some of these kids are harassed because of their weight, sexual orientation, religion, beliefs, and sometimes simply because they are individuals in a world of conformists. What a shame. What a shame in 2011 we can’t embrace the differences that all make us unique and work together towards common goals that only help humanity, not tear down what makes us human. I’ve never had to feel like I couldn’t be myself. I’ve had family and friends who have put their love and trust in me and in return helped me know my place in the world.

I haven’t had a bad day.

I am guilty, just like the rest of us that I don’t reflect on what I have enough. And it is unfortunate that sometimes we don’t think of these simple blessings and graces until something bad happens. Sure I’ve had my share of pain, but never have I had to go alone and never have I had no where to turn.

I haven’t had a bad day.

 

h1

Content is king.

February 9, 2011

Being in the advertising and communications world, I often get asked by my family and friends what advertising I like the most and why. To me, it is much more than clever post work, a new technology, or a catchy jingle. And whether I am reading a blog, watching a TV spot (right who does that anymore), tweeting, or even looking at brand packaging on my favorite beverage, content is king.

This past Super Bowl is no exception. Sure I liked the Volkswagen Darth Vader spot and the Doritos finger licker, but for the most part, they all fell short. They weren’t clever, they didn’t make me think, laugh, or remotely want to buy what they are selling. And in the economic market we are still cruising through and the fact the world is moving more towards mobile and 140 characters or less thinking, I wanted short, sweet, and smart content.

With QR Codes, interactive video, and social media continuing to take its place in the communication du jour space, I am excited and a little concerned.

I don’t want to see effort ruined by poor writing, bad creative, and content best left in a trash can all because of the rush to try something new. Don’t excite me by putting a QR Code on your business card only to send me to your contact information…AGAIN. Don’t tease me with a great tweet and then drive me to a page that looks like I should be on a VIC-20 (young readers click the link, your flash drive has more memory.)

All in all the things we remember, enjoy, engage with, and ultimately own are because we made a connection with the content. There was something that stirred a response in us that made us take action.

What are some great or not-so-great examples you have seen recently?