Author Archive

Photo Friday

June 11, 2010

Nicole praying for her Protos award!

Let’s all keep our fingers crossed that the HKA team will win SEVERAL awards Friday, June 25, 2010 at OC/PRSA’s 35th Annual PROTOS Awards celebration.

Good luck team HKA!


Turning Fear into Action

May 3, 2010

I’m lucky; I like and respect pretty much everyone that I get to work with.  But sometimes, a client will say or do something that really makes me think about things in a new way.  Recently this happened when I was talking with my client, John Brown of Primary Freight Services.

John mentioned to me that he tries really hard to not allow fear to effect his judgment in business.  In fact he said, “I often have to ask myself: what would I do if I wasn’t afraid.”

Powerful words.

Hearing this got me thinking about a variety of things that I might do differently in my work, if I wasn’t afraid.

Years ago, I battled and overcame the demons of fear regarding media relations.  I was chronically afraid to pick up the phone and boldly pitch story ideas to reporters I’d never talked to, and had at least in my mind, put on a pedestal.

I walked through that fear, day in and day out, challenging myself to write and deliver strong, meaningful story ideas and pitches to media, building relationships along the way.  The result:  I am no longer afraid of media relations.  In fact, I love it.

I acted as if I wasn’t afraid, even though I was, and overcame it.

Powerful actions.

As a result of facing those fears and becoming strong and confident in media relations, I’ve won almost a dozen awards, am viewed my by peers and coworkers as an expert and a resource, and most importantly, I’m able to pass those skills along to others in my field.

If I’d been paralyzed by fear, I may have changed careers before I’d ever had a chance to see where this journey would take me.  What a shame that would have been!

Powerful results.

So, what would you do in your business if you weren’t afraid?  Would you fight to save jobs instead of handing out pink slips?  Would you stretch your personal abilities to grow expertise in areas that you know you need, but feel afraid to reach for?

Whatever the answer, I think it is the question that is important to ask ourselves over and over:  What would I do if I wasn’t afraid?

No Fooling Around

April 1, 2010

Here we are on April 1st, and in all honesty…this is not my favorite day of the year.  Why?  Well, I’m just not a fan of April Fool’s jokes and pranks.

I credit this little piece of my personality to my parents, who raised their children with an intolerance for mean-spiritedness and teasing.  Hence, practical jokes and pranks just don’t sit well with me, and I’ve never enjoyed this “holiday.”

So, I’ve made a decision this year to change the way I feel about April 1st.  I’m recapturing the day, and giving it a new meaning.  April 1st is now officially:  Give My Coworkers a Pat on the Back Day!

Here goes:

Robyn – Your laughter and joyful spirit, even when in the depths of chaos, are some of my favorite traits about you.  You have a great attitude, and walk through your days with an air of calm, even when there is a storm blowing around you.  You set a great example for all of us.

Inez – Your perseverance is beyond admirable.  Goals become reality for you, because you have an amazing ability to focus on what’s needed, and make it happen.  I’ve watched you grow over the past few years into a force to be reckoned with.  Also, you make awesome cakes, and that makes you a winner in my book.

Mari – Let me just call you lightning!  I’ve never seen someone work so fast, and so thoroughly.  If you were a super hero (which I’m not totally convinced you aren’t) you would absolutely earn the cape on your back and emblem on your chest every single day.  Oh, and you’d wear them well, making them fashionable and trendy.

Linda – Ah, the quiet yet so talented one.  You are so fun to work with, because…well…you are just so darn smart.  Nothing is ever too hard for you; I think you are pretty much unstoppable.

Nicole – I’m so glad you’re on my team!  Whenever I feel like one of the balls I’m juggling is about to fall, you lob it right back up into the air in perfect formation for me.  Also, I’ve never worked with someone with such a great attitude, come rain or shine, you bring your “A” game and play it with a smile on your face.

LaDonna – What can I say about you…you are the perfect office mate, the one who takes up the slack in every imaginable way it needs to be taken up.  I’m convinced that you can do pretty much anything, and there is no doubt in my mind you’ll have an opportunity to showcase that while at HKA!

Hilary – There is so much I can say here about you.  You’ve helped me to grow professionally and personally and given me opportunities I would have never had.  I’m just so lucky to have you as a boss.  Period!

So, there you have it – my take on this day where most people are putting yucky stuff in each other’s coffee or rigging chairs to collapse.

Will you join me in recapturing this day with a new meaning?

Finding Peace In Play Doh

February 19, 2010

Balance. We hear this term “work/life balance” all over the place.  People talk about it like it is an ideal to strive for, the ultimate workplace perk, a symbol of success in home and professional circles.

Well, I don’t buy it.

Why don’t I buy it?  I’ve beat my head against the wall for years trying to achieve a balanced life, or at least “appear” to have a balanced life, and I’ve never felt even close to having balance.

Most everyone who knows me through HKA knows that I’m the working mom in the crew.  I’ve got a preschooler and a toddler, and I am so fortunate to be able to work from home with them the majority of the time so I can be present for their milestones, while helping my clients to achieve theirs. I straddle the three equally important roles of employee, wife and mother, and while I do my best to stretch as far as I can to achieve goals on all three fronts, I cannot deny the constant feeling that I’m about ready to fall off the tightrope I’m walking, and this isn’t quite the type of balance I’m after.

So, what does this working mom do to try to achieve this elusive thing called balance? The first step for me is redefining what I’m after.  I’m going to stop worrying about balance and start going for peace.  Peace of mind, peace in the workplace, peace at home.

I think this takes a different shape for everyone.  For some, it means giving yourself permission to leave the office at 5:00 each day to make it to choir or dance class. For others, it means fitting in lunch dates with loved-ones instead of working through the lunch hour while crunching carrot sticks.  And for me, it means giving myself permission to sit and make a play doh caterpillar with my son, or making time to brush Barbie’s hair with my daughter, as we discuss the merits of storm troopers and ballet slippers.

It is about choice and taking control of priorities and tasks. For example, each evening I make a “plan” for the following day. And every day, I schedule tasks for all areas of my life, including work AND play activities. Would others find it laughable that I have 11:00 – 11:30 tomorrow scheduled for Fun with PlayDoh and 2:00 – 2:30 marked as Reading Time?  Most would, but my kids think it’s awesome. And seeing these fun moments mixed in with a heavy work task list does help to keep things in perspective.

I’ll always struggle as a working mom with the issue of, did I do enough for my kids today and did I do a good job today? Both of these areas of my life define me, and are equally important. I really don’t think balance is possible, but peace, well, that I think is.  If I can end most days in satisfaction that I’ve done the best I can to answer both the questions above with a “yes,” I think I’ll feel peace.

I challenge us all to change how we think about the balance issue, to shift the ideal to being more at peace with our schedules, demands and obligations. And if you have the secret to this balance thing, please share – we’d all love to know!

Winning Workplaces

February 2, 2010

I’ve been thinking about my clients’ workplaces a lot the past few weeks. Working in the PR industry, I’ve become accustomed to asking clients the question, “tell me about your workplace – what makes your culture special?” This is a standard question in our industry and a theme we often play off of in our work with the media.

So why has this been on my mind lately? Because I recently finalized a nomination for Inc. Magazine’s Winning Workplaces annual award for one of my clients, global freight and logistics experts Primary Freight Services.

Primary Freight's LA Headquarters Team

The application was long, 7 pages to be exact. But the nomination questions were thoughtful and really got me thinking about what makes a workplace unique and special.  The questionnaire included queries about workplace culture, growing talent within the ranks, team building exercises, and exceptions to the rule made for key staff. Primary Freight Services is a company that deserves to win this award, or at the very least be among those recognized, for a variety of reasons.

I’ve spent some time at Primary Freight’s offices, and one thing I’ve witnessed every time I’ve been there is joy in the workplace. The brother/sister team that has built the company from the ground up (John Brown, CEO, and Kathy Hogan, President) has created a very special environment for their staff. For example, this past year John decided to bring some healthy competition into the office and launched a company-wide Wii bowling tournament. Every staff member participated, from creating avatars to wearing wild-colored matching bowling shirts. Team spirit could not be denied.

The winning Avatar - and yes, they were all this good!

This was in large part done to battle the spiraling morale felt due to the crushing blow of the recession. Despite the business’s need to do a small round of layoffs and require all staff to endure a period of furlough days, team spirit runs deep in the veins of Primary Freight Services staff as a result of the on-going team building.

And as I learn more about each of the staff members, I am struck with their amazing stories of personal and workplace growth. Individuals that the company hired on a “hunch” or identified as “diamonds in the rough” are now leading divisions of the organization, and are viewed as leaders in the industry, thanks to the training, mentoring and quality supervision they were given.

Primary Freight Services is a company that really cares about its staff, and shows it through quality training programs, team building exercises and realistic goals, matched with public recognition and praise. I’m impressed by their workplace; it always feels good to walk down their halls.

So, think for a minute about what your workplace is like and what makes it special?  These really are important questions to ask. I think we should all take some time to think about our workplace and culture, make changes to the elements that aren’t working, and celebrate the things that are!