One of my closest friends is a lawyer. He and I talk business all the time. After moving to California and passing the Bar Exam, my attorney friend set up his solo practice, and is working hard to establish himself professionally.
Our discussions are lively. I grill my friend about contract law, ethics and, I get to learn about how the law is applied to day-to-day circumstances. But our real affinity comes from elsewhere. While he grows his solo legal practice, the evolution of my solo PR practice mirrors his. I’m struck lately by how similar what we do is.
Both publicists and attorneys strive to represent clients to the best of their abilities. We help clients share their story, knowing that a judge will rule on the facts of the case. And while legal clients plead their case in the court of law, entrepreneurs are tried in the court of public opinion.
And while my job is to present the best version of the truth, I know it’s not the full story. My clients hide things from me. Sometimes–often–important things. Whether intentional, or accidental, it’s a tricky part of our professional relationship. As a lawyer will tell you, there’s always two sides to a story. There’s no perfect client or business. It’s important to complete due diligence before entering into a relationship, but if I were waiting for the unblemished, inoffensive and media-ready client to walk up to my door, I wouldn’t last long in the business.
Just like my attorney friend, I take the good and bad parts of a client’s story, get them ready for the public, and help them reach the outcome they desire. I don’t like it when my clients hide things from me, but it happens. I need to be prepared for it. But while the public may be fickle, they know when something works, and are very unforgiving when people try to pull a fast one.
Attorneys and PRs are here to help. If we don’t get the full story, and something blows up, it’s very, very hard for us to do our job after the fact. That doesn’t mean we won’t do everything in our power to get the desired outcome, it just means the relationship will be strained afterwards.
Exactly three years ago I left Bangalore, India, and moved back home with my parents. A publisher in New York soon offered me a job as a full-time reporter and tasked me with the mission to help launch a daily blog covering renewable energy and transportation. It seemed like a dream come true.
I moved to San Francisco for work in the summer of 2010 and began a whirlwind of career highs and lows that has pounded me into a tougher and more resourceful individual than I imagined was possible. I’ve made amazing new friends, and have watched happily as old friends launched successful businesses, married wonderful spouses, and welcomed children of their own into the world. I am also honored to have lead weddings for two friends.
Six months ago I was at a low point in my life. I had recently lost my grandfather on the same day I was fired from a job that was destroying my soul. I was running out of options, and I did the unthinkable. I sent a letter hiding none of the urgency of my situation, and asked for your help finding a new job and a new path forward. What made it hardest was that no one wants to announce to the world when their ass is flapping in the wind.
I just saw the Harlem Shake video that put me over the edge. Path founder Dave Morin filmed his team in their office cafeteria doing the Harlem Shake, and I couldn’t hold back.
For the record, I haven’t seen that many Harlem Shake videos, but the Internet is abuzz with them. After the Grammys on Sunday I had no idea what people were talking about, and it was a little disconcerting. As someone who lives on the Internet–and by it–I take trend spotting very seriously. Either on my client’s behalf, or for my own edification, I appreciate knowing the scoop.
The Harlem Shake is the new Gangnam Style according to New Media Rockstars, whose opinion on all things Internet I value highly. In the YouTube era, dance crazes like the Harlem Shake are part of a global conversation. Millions of Gangnam Style tribute videos have been produced, and their proliferation adds to the popularity of the original. See below:
The original video that spawned the craze was posted to YouTube on Feb. 2, 2013 and has racked up a respectable 5 million views. The song itself was released by Baauer more than one year ago on his SoundCloud page, and published to iTunes on Jan. 8, 2013. According to NMR more than 11,000 tribute videos have been uploaded, as of Monday. I wouldn’t be surprised if the number of new uploads has tripled or quadrupled this week. That’s just how things go on the Internet.
The digestible, 30-second length and semi-predictability are no-doubt triggers for the rapid proliferation of the meme. It’s also a pretty damn cool song.
D’Vo, a UK-based producer who has quickly become one of my favorites, first exposed me to Baauer’s Harlem Shake as part of his Winter Warrior Mix, which I’ve embedded below. I like to listen to it when I jog.
Going back further in time, the real Harlem Shake dance, was a street style that was laughed out of existence after being popularized by Sean “P. Diddy” Combs of Bad Boy Records fame. If you tried to break out your best Harlem Shake moves on a dance floor I think you would still get seriously clowned. I’m including the quintessential video of Harlem Shake moves, from G Dep’s ‘Let’s Get It’ so you can just how far the dance has come in the last decade.
And in case you’re still interested in reviving the lost art form, here’s a handy tutorial. Shine like a diamond!
This morning it dawned upon me that I’ve set a chess board for myself, and I’m playing both sides. Professionally I’ve trimmed back my activities to the few that I can do best, but they’re in direct competition for my attention.
I’m in the process of growing my consulting practice, while experiencing a creative and entrepreneurial tug. Both lines of business have to do with my writing talent, but work opposite sides of the brain. My consulting work requires me to think like a small business owner, pour over Quickbooks, and obsess about taxes, cashflow and new customer acquisition.
The more creative side project is about content curation, developing a community and having an eye for what is cool and cutting edge. These two are not polar opposites, but there’s no easy way to make them work in tandem. I’m spending lots of time online (nothing new there), but it’s a matter of focusing my efforts to achieve a client’s goals, or to treat myself as the client.
The metaphor is striking. On the one hand, it’s an intellectual and emotional challenge. On the other, I can’t lose if I execute well. I am carving out a life for myself where online
I love to write. I love plot and strategize. More than anything I’m committed to getting myself professionally established and having a career on my terms. I’ve never been good about saying no to cool opportunities. It’s a trait that goes back years. At this point, fortunately I suppose–these are opportunities I’ve created for myself, and ones I definitely intend to see through.
Playing the patience game. It’s not easy. My Uncle Andy once told me that anything that comes easy isn’t worth a damn. I know he’s right. There’s always the delicate balance between the urgency of the current moment, and building a future. We have the present only.
When the cold winds howl, can we wrap ourselves in trajectory to seek comfort in trajectory, and wrap it around ourselves like a blanket? It’s a new year, and the possibilities ahead seem endless. Before we know it, though, we’ll be turning our calendars over to 2014. Hard to believe when I’m still grappling with 2013 atop documents.
At times like these I need to remind myself that I’ve got my health, my family, and supportive friends who are there for me when I need them to be. What more can we really ask for. My wants are not material anyway. What I would like is a greater sense of security and stability, but that goes for anyone, at any stage of life. What I have now I wouldn’t change for the world, so why even fret?
Perhaps patience isn’t what is needed, after all. Maybe it’s even more gratitude. I’m grateful that people come to me for advice when they’re in need. That alone makes me feel that I’m making a contribution in the world. I know there’s more to it, but that’s enough for now.
As Americans we have a thing for watching how the other half lives. It makes us feel better about ourselves. When we watch reality shows about down-and-out 16-year-old moms, it reminds us that we’re doing ok, in spite of any hardships. Equally, we enjoy watching shows about the ultra wealthy, because when seen with all their warts, it’s clear they’re tacky, unsophisticated people who happen to have tons of cash.
Such is the case in The Queen of Versailles, a movie watched tonight on Netflix. Timeshare magnate and billionaire David Siegel is building America’s largest house, a 90,000 square foot monster outside Orlando, FL, when the global financial crisis erases his fortune overnight. The dream house Siegel and his wife designed has an indoor ice skating rink, a bowling alley, a grand ballroom, 17 bathrooms and $5 million of Chinese marble. I’m sure I’m leaving stuff out, but the point is made. Right?