Jeff Smith: Why Black Democratic Mayors and GOP Governors Are BFFs

From The Atlantic:

The paralysis of Atlanta—and its rising-star mayor, Democrat Kasim Reed—during the first of two recent storms highlighted more than just a possible managerial deficiency. The fact that Reed had spent the morning of the storm receiving an award from Republican Governor Nathan Deal—as well as Reed’s post-storm refusal to blame the flummoxed governor—suggests something broader: a durable alliance between the Obama 2012 pit-bull surrogate and his conservative Republican governor. Such an alliance is less rare than one might imagine. In an age when people lament partisan polarization, one area of stubborn bipartisan cooperation endures: the seemingly counter-intuitive pacts between black Democratic mayors and conservative Republican governors.

National political observers detected a similar relationship a thousand miles to the north in 2012, when then-Newark Mayor Cory Booker tied himself in knots to pretend he was considering a challenge to Governor Chris Christie. Most New Jersey political insiders understood this to be a necessary feint—one that a playful parody film featuring the two men seemed to confirm. After Senator Frank Lautenberg died, Christie repaid Booker—and did himself a favor—by spending $25 million in state funds on a special election for Senate just three weeks before his own November election. It wasn’t enough to simply not run against each other; Christie ensured that he and Booker would not be turning out their own supporters (who would be unlikely to split tickets) in the same election.

Reed’s actions—and his reluctance to endorse Deal’s highly touted Democratic opponent, state Senator Jason Carter, grandson of a former president—suggest this is a trend worth watching, especially as we see it happening elsewhere too. For example, the mayors of Ohio’s two largest cities—Cleveland’s Frank Jackson and Columbus’s Michael Coleman—are working closely with Republican Governor John Kasich and declined throughout 2013 to endorse likely Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ed FitzGerald.

Jeff SmithFrom the white governor’s side, there are several things to gain:

  1. Direct short-term electoral benefits: By dividing urban black mayors from their party, a Republican governor can do slightly better in cities for his reelection campaign, either by winning a premium of black voters above the roughly 10 percent a generic Republican can expect, or by minimizing black turnout (not through underhanded Ed Rollins or Allen Raymond sort of way, but by dampening the enthusiasm of black community leaders who are often critical to urban voter-mobilization efforts).
  2. Indirect short-term electoral benefits: By wrapping themselves in black political clothing, these white Republican governors are pulling a sort of reverse Sister Souljah: They are using black mayors as a vehicle to show white suburban women that they are not the scary, borderline-racist kind of Republican who howls about birth certificates, Kenya, and food-stamp presidents.
  3. Long-term electoral benefits: For more a decade—and with special urgency since Election Day 2012—we’ve heard about the Republican Party’s acute need to diversify its electoral base. The instant elevation of Marco Rubio into a likely presidential candidate —before he was even sworn in!—and a similar phenomenon with Dr. Ben Carson are proof of the party’s desperate quest for a candidate with appeal to minorities in a rapidly evolving nation. Of course, white Republican presidential aspirants won’t cede this niche to minority candidates; indeed, one of George W. Bush’s key selling points as he positioned himself for the 2000 Republican nomination was that he had received 49 percent of the Latino vote in his 1998 re-election. (It later emerged that this figure was inflated and the actual number was 40 percent).
    Chris Christie’s concerted efforts to win Latino and black votes (of which he won 51 percent and 21 percent, respectively, compared to Romney’s 27 percent and 6 percent) in 2013 suggest a similar thrust, albeit one that is likely obsolete now. Clearly, ambitious governors like Christie and Kasich use Democratic mayoral support—generally, the kind of tacit, “sitting-on-their-hands” support that accompanies tepid endorsements that mayors like Booker, Coleman, and Reed offer Democratic gubernatorial candidates—to burnish their electoral resumes for future national candidacies.
  4. Possible entrée into the Obama White House: Republican governors who may face future primaries aren’t always keen to be too closely associated with President Obama (Christie’s infamous post-Hurricane Sandy embrace notwithstanding). Forging close ties with mayors who acted as top Obama surrogates and can get calls to the White House quickly returned can come in handy for those whose public rhetoric may preclude close relationships with the Obama Administration.

Of course, benefits also accrue to the black mayor in these détentes. Here are a few:

  1. Direct economic benefits: This might include support for major projects (both public subsidies and assistance in lining up private-development financing), as well as political backing for initiatives that require state support. These create jobs and bolster the tax base in cities like Newark and Cleveland that have suffered steep declines. More broadly, Republican governors give mayors someone who can lean on legislative leaders on matters that aren’t too ideologically charged but can help the mayor’s city—often a leading state economic engine.
  2. Support for urban school-reform efforts: This may come in the form of political support (urging legislators or executive branch appointees), economic backing (money for performance pay bonuses or charter-school start-up, for instance), or a hybrid of both (Christie’s alliance with Booker to attract—and spend—Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million gift to the state-controlled Newark public schools).
  3. Long-term political benefits: Ambitious black mayors hoping to be the next Obama—or at least the next Deval Patrick—can take advantage of their relationships with Republican governors to provide a veneer of moderation. The goal is to avoid the fate of candidates like former Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt, who are seen as being too liberal for a statewide race (an impression driven in part by their color, political-science research has suggested), even if they’re not particularly liberal.
  4. Fundraising: Governors can quietly introduce the mayors to their donors, and/or provide a sort of “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” with traditional Republican business donors, giving big-city mayors access to contributors who would not otherwise be inclined to support them.

But what are the costs for each side? The answer is, not many. Republican governors have little to lose by propping up big-city Democratic mayors; Republicans have almost no chance of ever competing for office in these areas. Though extra attention to urban areas could potentially have a slight demobilizing effect on rural conservatives, the effect is probably negligible.

Black mayors also have little to lose. Though their constituents have been pressed into action around election time, local black political elites have historically been excluded from state and national party strategy, instead being belatedly pressed into action around time. And of course, white statewide aspirants have been engaged in mini-Sister Souljah acts around the country for years, distancing themselves from the party’s urban base and focusing electoral appeals on white suburban and exurban swing voters. Consequently, some black Democrats feel scant party allegiance, making it easier to cozy up to Republican governors.

The biggest risk is that their Republican allies might lose. As mayors, they’ll be forced to travel to the state capital and supplicate to Democratic governors who can likely glean from a precinct analysis of urban election returns whether a mayor really worked to turn out voters in his home wards—and could probably ascertain a decided lack of enthusiasm from any number of actions or non-actions during election season.

Of course, these mayors wouldn’t be cozying up to the governors if they thought the Democratic candidate was likely to win. Politicians’ self-preservation instincts are as powerful as those of coyotes, who will without hesitation chew off a trapped limb in order to escape a bear trap.

Given the federal investigation swirling around Chris Christie, Cory Booker may already be detaching himself from his old ally. Likewise, given how widely panned Deal’s storm management performance was as we head into election season, Kasim Reed might want to consider gnawing off his own leg caught in the trap named Nathan Deal.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Insomnia

Helpful tips for curing insomnia

Usually, if you are an insomniac, and will start practicing good sleep hygiene, and turn off the TV around 10pm, always have clean sheets and fluffy pillows, take a warm bath before bedtime and don’t eat heavy meals, sweet snacks or drink caffeinated beverages in the evening, turn out all the lights and don’t have any background noise to distract you, and one-by-one relax every muscle in your body as you visualize yourself resting peacefully, you will eventually doze off after 6 or 7 hours.

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Late night thoughts….

Just because you’re an insomniac doesn’t mean you can’t also be a vampire.

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I think….when I was born…I wasn’t wound up properly….and have been about 6 hours off the rest of the world ever since….
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jyb_musingsThe difference in an insomniac and non-insomniac when they look at the clock and see it is 5:04am?

The non-insomniac feels they can get a 3 hour jump on the rest of the world.

The insomniac realizes he has 3 more hours to get any sleep at all before he has to get up and start the day with at least 6 fewer hours of sleep than everyone else in the world.

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The Secret Productivity of Insomniacs.

We insomniacs don’t use our extra waking hours in the wee morning hours to better solve life’s problems.

But merely to come up with bad ideas that won’t work for solving life’s problems that we can dismiss.

Jason Grill: KC’s Sock 101 Stepping Up Its Game

From This is KC:

3 reasons why Kansas City’s “Sockpreneurs” started off on the right foot

By Kathryn Jones

It’s been the general rule for centuries that a gentleman can’t go wrong with a well-cut suit. But for those who like to spice up the monotony of their 9-to-5 uniform, the options are fairly limited. Ties are the obvious choice (particularly the retro skinnies popularized by the characters on “Mad Men” and the beautiful bowties sported by Mayor Sly James), and you can add a little flare with a pocket square. But that’s pretty much it, right?

Wrong. According to Jason Grill, there is one accessory often overlooked: socks. As far as he and his fellow “sockpreneurs” at Sock 101 are concerned, a dresser drawer full of nothing but black GoldToes is better left to Grandpa. “Men who like to dress well and are looking for ways to step up their style can wear colorful socks—it’s OK,” Grill assures. “In fact, it’s very trendy right now.”

Sock-101-Jason-KCShareTweetPin+Add to MyKC

Sock 101 presented at 1 Million Cups during Kauffman Foundation’s 2012 Global Entrepreneurship Week and made a splash right out of the gate. In less than two years, the company has generated quite a bit of buzz both locally and nationally. In addition to making the rounds of the KC media circuit, it’s been featured in Forbes, Accessories, Modern Fellows and Killerstartups.com. The always fashionable Mayor James, UMB President and CEO Peter deSilva and former U.S. President and self-described “sock man” George H.W. Bush are alleged fans of the brand.

It should also be noted that Sock 101 is 100 percent self-funded. “We have investors come up to us after [1 Million Cups], but we have not taken on any outside equity investors,” Grill says. “We don’t feel the need to at this point.” So what’s the secret behind this local startup’s success? Well, there are a number of factors that come into play.

1. Sock 101 founders were already rock stars in the business community.

Grill, the visionary and “face” of the company, is an attorney, former member of the Missouri House of Representatives, owner of JGrill Media & Consulting, a political analyst for Fox 4 WDAF and host of the Entrepreneur KC radio show on KMBZ.

Dave Feyerabend is co-founder and managing member of startup incubator D&K Ventures and CEO of Renuva Back & Pain Centers. He handles company operations and logistics and co-presented the concept with Grill at 1 Million Cups.

Lea Bailes is an attorney and marketing specialist who’s worked in and/or owned businesses in the areas of law, construction real estate, consumer products, fitness, fashion healthcare and technology. He’s responsible for general marketing and legal work for Sock 101.

Kelly Yarborough built his career in wireless and is now business partners with Feyerabend for both D&K Ventures and Renuva Back & Pain Centers. He’s involved in day-to-day operations at Sock 101, including customer service and sales.

WantBuySock-101-KC-DesignShareTweetPin

2. Sock 101’s concept, product and business model are solid.

As Grill mentioned, colorful (but not cartoonish) socks in high-quality fabrics are a growing trend among fashion-savvy professionals. They appeal to men and women of all ages but are especially popular with the Millennials currently making waves in the creative and tech realms. “If you want to buy a nice pair of colorful socks at places like J.Crew or Banana Republic, you’re going to spend $12 to $15,” Grill says. “We wanted to make socks more affordable for the 20 to 40-something young professional.” Sock 101’s maintain the same caliber of quality, he says, but are sold at a lower price point: $7.

For $9 a month or $108 annually (shipping included), customers can sign up for the Sock of the Month Club at sock101.com and have a pair delivered to their doors. “Of the Month” clubs are growing more popular by the day because consumers love receiving a “surprise” gift in the mail in the sense that they already know what it is but aren’t quite sure when it will come or what exactly it will look like. “It’s a good feeling having a sock shipped to your house every month. We want to make sure our Sock of the Month Club members feel special in that they get a new design each month before our other customers,” Grill remarks.

Sock 101 also has a corporate sock offering whereby it will custom-design 50+ socks with a company’s logo. The KC Convention Center & Visitors Association, for instance, ordered custom socks featuring its trademark blue logo. “It makes for a unique marketing gift or a giveaway for an event or a celebration item for their clients and employees,” Grill says. “We hope more businesses will make custom socks with us.”

Sock-101-KC-StyleShareTweetPin+Add to MyKC

3. The company knows how to market its brand.

Socks are a relatively simple and straightforward product to push because they’re a universal necessity. Everybody buys them. Customers want the best quality at the lowest price point, and successful companies deliver on that promise.

But quality and price aside, the companies most successful at marketing their brands are the ones that ultimately dominate the marketplace.

Lesson #1 at Sock 101 was to build a campaign on Kickstarter.com in order to raise funds and school the competition. “It really opened my eyes to how the whole crowdfunding process works; it takes a lot of dedication,” Grill says. “We included custom socks in our Kickstarter campaign, which helped us reach our fundraising goals.”

When it comes to spreading the word, “you really have to work your network hard,” he says, “whether it’s through your email list, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram. You have to continuously post content. With socks, it’s all about the photos. A lot of people share their photos, which makes marketing and social media easier for us.”

Sock 101 initially targeted male professionals in the Gen X and Y age range, playing up the idea that purchasing a pair in a particular color pattern would demonstrate pride for their alma mater or favorite sports team, and that the sock can be paired with a suit or a more casual outfit.

“Each sock tells its own story,” Grill says. But consumers decide what the story will be. The black-and-gold striped “Truman” sock, for instance, can be a tribute to Truman the Tiger if you’re a Mizzou fan. Or if you’re a KU fan, the same sock can be an homage to Harry Truman instead.

When photos of ladies wearing their boyfriends’ Sock 101s spread throughout the company’s social media network, it became apparent to the sockpreneurs that “women were stealing our socks from their boyfriends, so we might have to do a marketing campaign about that at some point,” Grill muses.

 

Saul Kaplan: Needed – A National Innovation Agenda

In the coming months, our government is going to throw a lot of money at some very big problems. The amount is staggering—a $787 billion stimulus packagecombined with a proposed $3.6 trillion federal budget. That kind of market-making money should be able to drive the bold changes we need in health care andeducation.

I fear it will not.

It would be a shame if the nation’s palpable hunger for fresh ideas and approaches resulted only in incremental change. The problem I see is that most of the money is about to travel through existing pipes to sustain the way the health-care and education industries currently operate. This path simply maintains the status quo.

If we want bold change, we have to allocate more of the federal investment to the design and testing of new approaches that are not constrained by existing ones.

Saul KaplanEducation and Workforce Development

A report last year from the nonprofit network America’s Promise Alliance showed that 1.2 million students drop out of high school each year. Only about half of the students served by school systems in the nation’s 50 largest cities graduate from high school. The U.S. public education system, especially in the country’s urban centers, must be transformed.

Only about 40% of the U.S. adult population earns a college degree. That may have been fine in the 20th century when an industrial economy supplied good jobs to those without post-secondary education. It is not fine today when a college degree is a necessity for a good job.

Our education and workforce development system was built for the 20th century. Stimulus money spent solely to support the current system will not result in a population of life-long learners prepared for the new economy.

An example of how to channel resources toward bold change is the Labor Dept.’s WIRED (Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development) program. Launched in 2005 to catalyze the creation of a new 21st century workforce development system, WIRED has made three rounds of grants to 39 regions. Each grant recipient gets $5 million per year over a three-year period. The funds must be used to integrate a region’s economic and workforce development activities. WIRED funds are targeted to accelerate state agency coordination and system change in order to demonstrate that talent development can drive economic transformation in regions across the country.

WIRED is the right idea, but it doesn’t go far enough. There is not enough money allocated to it, and it is not bold enough in holding regions accountable for experimenting with truly transformative workforce development approaches.

Health Care

The first baby boomer turns 65 in 2011. By 2030 there will be 71.5 million Americans over the age of 65, vs. 36 million today. Our health-care system struggles to deliver quality care today at an affordable price. Imagine the implications of the coming silver tsunami, when 10 million to 12 million elders will need long-term care—and an estimated 5 million will need nursing-home care.

The current federal prescription calls for a big investment in electronic health records and making insurance options available to all. Ensuring access and increasing efficiency in today’s system is necessary but not sufficient.

We need bolder solutions to deal with the impending crisis. We need to transform from a sick-care system to a well-care system, with the patient at the center. Patients must become more responsible for their personal wellness and sick-care choices. Too much of the stimulus money is allocated to institutionally driven electronic health records, which will only increase the efficiency of today’s health-care system. A meaningful share (20%) of the funds should go toward electronic records controlled by the patient and to experimenting with patient-centered health-care approaches.

Unconstrained Experimentation

Every federal agency must be held accountable for channeling resources toward transformative and systemic change in its respective area. That should be the focus of Aneesh Chopra, America’s new chief technology officer, or Sonal Shah, head of the new Office of Social Innovation & Civic Participation. They should be armed with resources moved from agency budgets and tasked with driving bold change to build a national innovation agenda. While we balance the management of today’s systems, it’s imperative that we also experiment with new configurations that are not constrained by existing ones. It’s not easy, but all of the public and private sector levers and capabilities should be up for analysis—and reform—in order to enable these experiments.

I used to think you could catalyze innovation by proselytizing. You can’t. It is more important to network today’s innovators from every imaginable silo, sector, and discipline in purposeful ways. It is the innovator’s day. This is the time to experiment with bold new solutions. We must invest in the capacity to explore and test systems-level innovation. Our future depends on it.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Why I’m Nervous

Why I am nervous today.

Over the weekend I was venting to my wife about something annoying that had happened at work.

When I was finished I said, “But it’s all good.” And, as usual whenever I use that phrase, my wife didn’t respond.

And it occurred to me that I have never once heard Rebecca say, “It’s all good.” In fact, I have never heard any woman say, “It’s all good.” Only guys. And we say it a lot.

And that got me a little worried. And it’s why I am nervous today.

jyb_musingsWhat do women know that we guys don’t know about why it’s really not “all good?” And why haven’t they said anything to us about it? Just like Rebecca did with me over the weekend, whenever a guy says “It’s all good” in the presence of a woman, she just remains silent.

I am going to find some woman today who looks like she knows the answer and ask her. And if your a guy, I suggest you do the same.

Something is up and we guys need to figure out what it is.

I would ask Rebecca but I am embarrassed that I don’t know why things really aren’t “all good” and don’t want her to know I don’t know. It’s a guy thing.

And, yes, I would also like to know without Rebecca knowing I know so next time when I am venting about work–or whatever–I can say “But it’s all good” and then add “except…” –adding whatever it is that I find out today from some smart woman why isn’t all good.

That will make me feel a little smarter around Rebecca. And reassure her that I am not just another clueless man who makes uninformed remarks.

Jason Grill in Missouri.com

“Kansas City is a sleeping giant on a national and international level when it comes to entrepreneurship.”

February 18, 2014 – Written by
Jason Grill

Jason Grill is the principal and founder of JGrill Media, LLC, where he focuses and consults on media relations, public relations and strategies, communications, digital media, marketing strategies and branding, thought leadership, public/civic affairs and government relations. He also works as a local, state and national contributor, commentator and analyst. He has worked with businesses from small to large, major foundations, accelerators, associations, startups and entrepreneurs.

Jason writes for the Huffington Post, Yahoo! and the RecoveringPolitician.com. He has written for Politico and KC Business Magazine. He is a TV political analyst for WDAF Fox 4, a regular contributor to Wall Street Journal Radio, and host and producer of the Entrepreneur KC Radio Show on KMBZ (Entercom).

Jason is a former two-term member of the Missouri House of Representatives, and has worked in The White House and at CNN. Jason is the Co-Founder of Sock 101, which produces colorful high quality and professional socks and sells them for an affordable price. Sock 101 has a unique Sock of the Month Club and does custom logo and branded socks as well for organizations, events and corporations.

Jason Grill Media Missouri.com: Can you expand on how JGrill Media is not only focused on strategic consulting across various industries but how it also encompasses your very own personal media work with radio, TV and writing?

Jason: I started the company with the intent to focus on my own writing, TV work and radio hosting. Through my work and the relationships I begin to build I found that many individuals, entities and agencies wanted to hire me as a consultant to help them with their own media/pr, public affairs and government/public policy related issues. Through this evolution I have been able to continue to grow my own personal media brand, as well as consulting work with some incredible people and clients. I truly enjoy doing my radio show, TV analyst work and contributing writing with some great media outlets and hope to continue to move forward on both fronts of the company in the future with some strategic partnerships.

Missouri.com: What advice would you pass onto someone looking to build credibility through thought leadership?

Jason: Quality content and thought leadership are king these days. Building yourself as a true opinion leader, expert and thought leader in your industry is one of the best ways to build your business and credibility. This is so important especially if you’re a startup or small business. You need to get high quality content out in the marketplace to establish your brand. It’s ok to start slow on this endeavor, but make sure if you’re a CEO or a co-founder to be doing this and talking to your customers’ pain points. Give them information that they might have never thought about and ways to make their lives easier. Be willing to do this for free and make sure to highlight your community with quality content. Don’t be selfish. Give back to your city or your customers through your writing or contributing. Thought leadership is not an ego play.

Missouri.com: Why do you think that Kansas City has seen such a big surge in entrepreneurship over the last few years and how do you predict that growth will play out in the coming years?

Jason: Kansas City is an amazing city and has a rich entrepreneurial history. We have the best foundation for entrepreneurship and education in the world with the Kauffman Foundation being here. We have an abundance of resources, Google fiber, corporate innovation and some of the best accelerators in the US. However, the real reason for Kansas City’s surge the last few years has been the community. The entrepreneurial community in KC is ultra supportive of each other in all facets. People and businesses work together and are willing to introduce you to just about anyone to help your startup or entrepreneurial endeavor succeed. In a competitive world, KC entrepreneurs are about bringing the entire ecosystem up, rather than just their own business. Kansas City is a sleeping giant on a national and international level when it comes to entrepreneurship. With a great standard of living and numerous first-class amenities as well the sky is the limit for Kansas City. KC is not flyover country.

Missouri.com: Can you talk us through the inspiration behind your other business, Sock 101?

Jason: Sock 101’s mission is to provide high quality cotton based socks that are professional and affordable to individuals throughout the country. I have always been a fan of men’s fashion and classic style. As an individual who always was in a suit and tie, I got tired of paying $15-$25 for a nice, colorful pair of socks. There had to be a better way. The solution to that problem is Sock 101. In year one we sold thousands of pairs of socks at a price point of $7 at Sock 101. We also built a Sock of the Month Club that delivers a new pair of Sock 101’s to your door or your client, friend or loved one’s door every month. By the end of year two we will have over a thousand members in this club. Lastly, we are very excited to offer custom logo and branded socks for organizations, businesses, events and groups. We have seen a tremendous response both locally and nationally to this new service and have made socks for organizations such as the Kansas City Convention and Visitors Bureau, Veterans United and Influence & Co. I believe custom socks are a major part of future marketing budgets and separating yourself or your brand from the typical gifts or ideas. Whether it’s the bright colors, a custom logo, a dot or a stripe, socks truly are a statement piece that don’t have to be and shouldn’t be boring gold toes anymore. In a world dominated by blue jeans and dark suits, socks show an individual’s personality and style almost more than any other men’s accessory. Socks are the new tie.

Missouri.com: How did you come up with the concept behind the book you Co-Authored, “The Recovering Politician’s Twelve Step Program to Survive Crisis” and what do you hope that the average reader walks away with?

Jason: Jonathan Miller, the Former State Treasurer of Kentucky, actually contacted me about writing a chapter in this book. Jonathan is a friend and an exceptional writer and businessperson. This book offers individuals in any business or vertical really great advice on crisis management and public relations from experiences in the brightest of lights. It gives the reader some incredible stories on how to survive a crisis in any aspect of their life or business, as well as how to move forward if you do experience what you think is the worst thing that can happen. The former head of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele also has written a chapter in the book. Out of this book and the relationships it formed a national speaking group has evolved called Second Act Strategies. This exciting new service involves leadership, teamwork, integrity and reinvention seminars, as well as crisis simulations from esteemed, qualified experts who’ve earned their stripes in the arena’s spotlight.

Missouri.com: What are some trends that you’re excited about or think that our readers should be paying attention to?

Jason: Socks. Socks. Socks. In all seriousness though, I think the rising trend of entrepreneurship and startups that are solving problems in this country is exciting. I am very excited that the mainstream media is covering these stories and individuals more often. If policymakers can realize that young companies are the engine of our economy good things will continue to happen!

Always remember this quote from C.S. Lewis and try to live it out everyday, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream…”

Julie Rath: 14 Bad Habits that Get the Axe

How did 2013 go for you style-wise? Were you totally on point, or was there room for improvement? I’ve been traveling over the past month visiting out of town clients and doing some serious people-watching while on the road. I was sitting in LaGuardia Airport at 6AM one day, and I started a list of don’ts, which grew at each of my stops (Minneapolis, Chicago, North Dakota, and Palm Springs), evolving into the New Year’s Bad Style Cleanse below. Read on for 14 habits to purge from your style diet.

1) Don’t wear a crewneck undershirt with your button-up shirt. Showing your undershirt collar is like showing your underwear, something you don’t want to do in public (I hope). This goes for both casual and dress button-ups. I like Tommy John for great undershirts with v-necks that are low enough not to be visible. Here is my review of the brand.

Men's Personal Shopper: Monk Straps

2) Even if you’re traveling, you shouldn’t wear loafers with a suit. Try monk straps instead, as they can slip on and off easily when going through security (tip: packing a travel-size shoe horn will make your life easier).

3) You can leave the top button of your dress shirt undone with a tie, but don’t have the tie hanging down below your collarbone. Your tie knot should be no more than an inch lower than the top of where your shirt collar closes.

Men's Style Consultant: No Backpack with Suit

4) Never wear a backpack with a suit or sportcoat. It’s terrible for the shoulders. Also, you are going to work, not for a trail run.

5) Don’t wear a striped jacket as though it’s a sportcoat. A striped jacket is only worn as part of a suit, never as a separate.

6) Don’t wear a Hawaiian shirt unless you are going to an actual luau.

Men's Stylist: Avoid Hybrid Shoes

7) Avoid those hybrid sneakers-shoes at all costs. It’s a sneaker or a shoe. Not both.

8) While you’re at it, say no to those hiking-type sneakers for anything other than an actual mountain trek.

9) Skip the strong colognes or aftershaves (Old Spice, I’m talking to you) if you know you’re going to be on an airplane. This is a courtesy to those around you!

10) Grab the waistband of your pants (yes, right now) and yank on it. If you can pull it away from your body more than half an inch, your pants are too big. Go down in size until you find the right fit.

Men's Personal Stylist: Avoid Tie and Pocket Square Combos
11) Avoid pocket square and tie combos that match too closely (and especially ones that come in sets!).

12) A t-shirt is too tight if it pulls such that the fabric creates a diagonal crease from your collarbone to your armpit. Go up a size if this happens to you.

13) Don’t be that guy who wears a parka with ski tags dangling from the zips out to a restaurant. Technical/athletic gear is meant for just that – not date night. This includes outerwear and accessories like hats and gloves. One of my favorite brands of outerwear that gets the job done sharply is Aether.

Men's Image Consultant: Avoid Ties as Wide as Lobster Bibsa lobster bib in the truest sense of the term

14) Don’t wear ties that are too wide for you. This is true even if you paid a lot for it/wide ties may come back in style someday/your Aunt Edna gave it to you. Either donate or send them to somewhere like Tiecrafters to have it narrowed. Here’s my guide on how to choose the best proportion for you.

Now that you’ve effectively cleansed yourself of bad style habits, check out this list of 8 style resolutions to embrace for the new year. Out with the old and in with the new! What are you adding and removing from your style repertoire this year?

Jason Grill in BusinessInterviews.com

“Building yourself as a true opinion leader, expert and thought leader in your industry is one of the best ways to build your business and credibility.”

Written by B.I.
JasonGrill

Jason Grill is the principal and founder of JGrill Media, LLC, where he focuses and consults on media relations, public relations and strategies, communications, digital media, marketing strategies and branding, thought leadership, public/civic affairs and government relations. He also works as a local, state and national contributor, commentator and analyst. He has worked with businesses from small to large, major foundations, accelerators, associations, startups and entrepreneurs.Jason writes for the Huffington Post, Yahoo! and the RecoveringPolitician.com. He has written for Politico and KC Business Magazine. He is a TV political analyst for WDAF Fox 4, a regular contributor to Wall Street Journal Radio, and host and producer of the Entrepreneur KC Radio Show on KMBZ (Entercom).

Jason is a former two-term member of the Missouri House of Representatives, and has worked in The White House and at CNN. Jason is the Co-Founder of Sock 101, which produces colorful high quality and professional socks and sells them for an affordable price. Sock 101 has a unique Sock of the Month Club and does custom logo and branded socks as well for organizations, events and corporations.

JGrill Media

BusinessInterviews.com: Can you expand on how JGrill Media is not only focused on strategic consulting across various industries but how it also encompasses your very own personal media work with radio, TV and writing?

Jason: I started the company with the intent to focus on my own writing, TV work and radio hosting. Through my work and the relationships I begin to build I found that many individuals, entities and agencies wanted to hire me as a consultant to help them with their own media/pr, public affairs and government/public policy related issues. Through this evolution I have been able to continue to grow my own personal media brand, as well as consulting work with some incredible people and clients. I truly enjoy doing my radio show, TV analyst work and contributing writing with some great media outlets and hope to continue to move forward on both fronts of the company in the future with some strategic partnerships.

BusinessInterviews.com: What advice would you pass onto someone looking to build credibility through thought leadership?

Jason: Quality content and thought leadership are king these days. Building yourself as a true opinion leader, expert and thought leader in your industry is one of the best ways to build your business and credibility. This is so important especially if you’re a startup or small business. You need to get high quality content out in the marketplace to establish your brand. It’s ok to start slow on this endeavor, but make sure if you’re a CEO or a co-founder to be doing this and talking to your customers’ pain points. Give them information that they might have never thought about and ways to make their lives easier. Be willing to do this for free and make sure to highlight your community with quality content. Don’t be selfish. Give back to your city or your customers through your writing or contributing. Thought leadership is not an ego play.

BusinessInterviews.com: Why do you think that Kansas City has seen such a big surge in entrepreneurship over the last few years and how do you predict that growth will play out in the coming years?

Jason: Kansas City is an amazing city and has a rich entrepreneurial history. We have the best foundation for entrepreneurship and education in the world with the Kauffman Foundation being here. We have an abundance of resources, Google fiber, corporate innovation and some of the best accelerators in the US. However, the real reason for Kansas City’s surge the last few years has been the community. The entrepreneurial community in KC is ultra supportive of each other in all facets. People and businesses work together and are willing to introduce you to just about anyone to help your startup or entrepreneurial endeavor succeed. In a competitive world, KC entrepreneurs are about bringing the entire ecosystem up, rather than just their own business. Kansas City is a sleeping giant on a national and international level when it comes to entrepreneurship. With a great standard of living and numerous first-class amenities as well the sky is the limit for Kansas City. KC is not flyover country.

BusinessInterviews.com: Can you talk us through the inspiration behind your other business, Sock 101?

Jason: Sock 101’s mission is to provide high quality cotton based socks that are professional and affordable to individuals throughout the country. I have always been a fan of men’s fashion and classic style. As an individual who always was in a suit and tie, I got tired of paying $15-$25 for a nice, colorful pair of socks. There had to be a better way. The solution to that problem is Sock 101. In year one we sold thousands of pairs of socks at a price point of $7 at Sock 101. We also built a Sock of the Month Club that delivers a new pair of Sock 101’s to your door or your client, friend or loved one’s door every month. By the end of year two we will have over a thousand members in this club. Lastly, we are very excited to offer custom logo and branded socks for organizations, businesses, events and groups. We have seen a tremendous response both locally and nationally to this new service and have made socks for organizations such as the Kansas City Convention and Visitors Bureau, Veterans United and Influence & Co. I believe custom socks are a major part of future marketing budgets and separating yourself or your brand from the typical gifts or ideas. Whether it’s the bright colors, a custom logo, a dot or a stripe, socks truly are a statement piece that don’t have to be and shouldn’t be boring gold toes anymore. In a world dominated by blue jeans and dark suits, socks show an individual’s personality and style almost more than any other men’s accessory. Socks are the new tie.

BusinessInterviews.com: How did you come up with the concept behind the book you Co-Authored, “The Recovering Politician’s Twelve Step Program to Survive Crisis” and what do you hope that the average reader walks away with?

Jason: Jonathan Miller, the Former State Treasurer of Kentucky, actually contacted me about writing a chapter in this book. Jonathan is a friend and an exceptional writer and businessperson. This book offers individuals in any business or vertical really great advice on crisis management and public relations from experiences in the brightest of lights. It gives the reader some incredible stories on how to survive a crisis in any aspect of their life or business, as well as how to move forward if you do experience what you think is the worst thing that can happen. The former head of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele also has written a chapter in the book. Out of this book and the relationships it formed a national speaking group has evolved called Second Act Strategies. This exciting new service involves leadership, teamwork, integrity and reinvention seminars, as well as crisis simulations from esteemed, qualified experts who’ve earned their stripes in the arena’s spotlight.

BusinessInterviews.com: What are some trends that you’re excited about or think that our readers should be paying attention to?

Jason: Socks. Socks. Socks. In all seriousness though, I think the rising trend of entrepreneurship and startups that are solving problems in this country is exciting. I am very excited that the mainstream media is covering these stories and individuals more often. If policymakers can realize that young companies are the engine of our economy good things will continue to happen!

Always remember this quote from C.S. Lewis and try to live it out everyday, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream…”

Join Me When I’m on “Dancing with the Stars”!

Rotary_Club_of_Lexington's_Dancing_with_the_Lexington_Stars_2014-SAVE_the_DATEOne of my greatest strengths is that I understand my weaknesses.

And if there is anything that I do more poorly than dance, I have yet to experience it.

That’s why I am thrilled — and scared to death — to be a “celebrity” contestant in this season’s “Dancing with the Stars”

OK, to be clear this is not the ABC national version.  I am not a washed up football player, little-known Disney Channel actor, or a Kardashian,  Rather, this is the Rotary Club of Lexington’s “Dancing with the Lexington Stars” — a fundraiser for the Rotary Club of Lexington’s Rotary Endowment Fund, which supports “Surgery on Sunday” for needy Lexington families; Cardinal Hill Hospital, a nationally acclaimed rehabilitation center; and other worthy organizations.

I hope you will be able to join me at this important event, if only to laugh at me as I trip over my poor wife, Lisa.

For now, please save the date — Saturday, May 10, 2014, from 6:30 PM- Midnight.  I guarantee a lot of fun, a good cause, and plenty of opportunities to laugh at my expense.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Motivational Thoughts

Motivational thought for the day: Car problems

“It’s not that I don’t want to go inside to work today….

It’s just that I am having trouble wanting to get our of my car.

Today I will ask God to help me get out of my car.

And if that doesn’t work I will turn off the motor until it becomes too cold to stay in my car and then I will have to go inside to work.”

===

Thought for the day.

jyb_musings“We are each responsible for making sure we have enough blueberries in our life.

Life needn’t be like a blueberry muffin that always leaves you wishing for a few more blueberries.

We just have to remember that it is up to us–and not the chef–if we don’t want to feel we’ve been slighted on the blueberries.

Have a plan each day to bring enough of your own blueberries to make you happy.”

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