John Y. Brown, III: Maddie Yates

maddie yatesI didn’t know Maddie Yates or her family but my heart goes out to them tonight.

Maddie is the Louisville high school student who committed suicide yesterday after posting a video explaining her plan to kill herself and why.

The video is no longer on the internet but the transcript is. I just read the transcript and was drawn to this part:

“Remember how bad of a person I really am. I say awful things. Even if I don’t mean them, I say them. You don’t even want to know the things that I think; I am not a good person. I’m doing literally the whole world a favor.”

I was drawn to these words because I wish more adults would say from time to time –and say it so a young person can hear it:

“I say awful things that I don’t mean and later regret saying. I think thoughts that no good person would think. I sometimes wonder to myself how someone like me could ever be a ‘good person.’  But that doesn’t make me a bad person. It makes me about average–and the same can be said for everyone else who has thoughts like this. We just aren’t very good at talking openly about the uncomfortable parts of ourselves… but maybe one day we’ll get better at it.”

JYB3_homeAnd I think if each of us adults would say something like that from time to time –and say it so a young person can hear it–I think we would be doing literally the whole world a favor.

Elisabeth Jensen: Kentucky Kynect the Right Remedy at the Right Time

MpHJO.AuSt.79I am passionate about healthcare for the people of Kentucky. That is why I am proud of the leadership Governor Steve Beshear has done with our Kentucky Kynect, which now covers more than 402,000 people in the Commonwealth. Governor Beshear recognized opportunity, and knew the remedy for at just the right time for the people he serves.

And that is why I am disappointed that Representative Andy Barr and Senator Mitch McConnell are still blind to the facts, maintaining even stronger attempts to undermine Kentucky Kynect for people who had no insurance.

I often say Kentucky moms like me get more done by noon than Congress gets done in a week.  So when I learned Congressman Andy Barr has voted 19 times to repeal healthcare reform I was disappointed.

Barr, along with Mitch McConnell, voted to end Kynect and let insurance companies drop coverage, deny care and charge women more.

Barr has been in office as 6th District Congressman since January 2013. Since then, he has voted at least 19 times to repeal healthcare. His latest effort was just last week, when he cast his vote for the disastrous Barr/Ryan Budget, which would also change Medicare as we know it. During his career, he has taken more than $148,000 in contributions from the insurance industry, according to Opensecrets.org.

Overall, Congress has voted about 54 times to repeal the health care law. McConnell has even been criticized nationally for grossly distorting statistics, particularly when Governor Beshear’s office was reporting great success right here in Kentucky.

When I am in Congress, the families of Kentucky’s 6th District won’t have to be afraid of me serving special interests over their interests. And when it comes to their healthcare, I will protect Kentucky Kynect. When it comes to Andy Barr and me that is a big difference.

Elisabeth Jensen, as an executive of a non-profit and with deep experience in the business community, brings the tools and experience needed to get the economy working again. She is running for Congress to seek common sense, bi-partisan solutions to the challenges facing our country. See www.elisabethforkentucky.com for more information.

 

 

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Life lessons from the Billy Joel concert

Billy Joel Concert

The author at the Billy Joel concert with some nudnick and two beautiful women

Billy Joel The StrangerThe first two music albums that I fell in love with were Billy Joel’s The Stranger and Steely Dan’s Aja. I was 13 years old. Over time I came to like Aja better but initially The Stranger was my favorite. First favorite albums always have a special place in your heart and which is why I was so excited to attend my first Billy Joel concert at the YUM center last week.

The first thing I noticed was Billy Joel looks a lot different today than he did when I was first introduced to him in 1977. He even joked when introducing himself that he was really Billy Joel’s father. A lot of time has passed since The Stranger was released –37 years to be exact. But as I was treated to a generously long lifetime of songs from the legendary Billy Joel I couldn’t help but notice that –at least in my opinion—almost all of Joel’s greatest songs came from The Stranger (1977) or earlier works.

The 37 years that followed had produced some memorable and even exceptional songs but none that rated, again in my opinion, as classics or truly extraordinary pieces of music.

jyb_musingsWhich made me think to myself that perhaps in music—and other professions—the key is to have a huge creative burst in your late 20s and then you can coast the rest of your life by replaying your greatest hits, so to speak, to sell out crowds. In other words, I asked myself, Was Billy Joel and so many other of our greatest artists their own version of Orson Welles –who stunned the world with his prodigy and prodigiousness in his early career before falling relatively flat during the ensuing decades?

But as I remained entertained and even entranced by Billy Joel I knew something more was at play. Perhaps for some artists they do flame out early and coast for many years after that. But that is not what we were witnessing with Billy Joel. Yes, his greatest music perhaps was written when he was a younger man but we were not watching a man who was past his prime. He had matured from a great song writer to one of the greatest entertainers of our time. Joel may have been at the apex of his creativity in his 20s but now in his 60s Joel was still peaking as a performer and master musician.

So, as we were slowly filing out after the concert, I wondered to myself what this all meant. Perhaps it was that great creativity and breakthrough originality are breathtaking to experience but like all things that take your breath away are hard to sustain. But real passion and dedication that lasts not for months or years –but for decades –and is nurtured while honing your life’s work, may not take your breath away, but does elicit something even greater—an awe and respect as well as a record of sustained excellence that is even rarer and more special than moments of genius.

The author at the Billy Joel Louisville concert with some nudnick and two beautiful women

The author at the Billy Joel Louisville concert with some nudnick and two beautiful women

I learned, I suppose, that the depth of our devotion is more profound than the height of our creativity. In music. And in life. The former can create one of the great albums of a generation. But the latter can establish one of the greatest entertainers of our lifetime. And made me glad that the Billy Joel I finally got to see live wasn’t the brilliant 28 year old at his creative flashpoint, who would have still been very exciting to see, but rather was the 65 year old master of his craft and consummate musical performer, who truly was amazing to behold. And who also taught me an important lesson about life.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: De-victimize yourself

Playing the VictimIf you are an adult and think you are a victim in life, you are sadly correct.

You are a victim of your own need to be a victim.

I am not saying we are not sometimes victimized. We most certainly are. People get raped, maimed, murdered, and harmed physically and emtionally in inmumerable and unthinkable ways. But those instances of being victimized are situational and do not permanently define us.

Unless, of course, we decide it is preferable to be defined as a victim than to get on with our life.

There are many enticing advantages to being a victim. When we are in that role we get pity, attention, compassion, concern, are the center of attention, less is expected of us and we expect less of ourseleves.

Not a bad deal.

jyb_musingsIf you don’t mind spending your life “on the sidelines,” so to speak. We are like an injured athlete that sits with the team during the games but never gets to play and we are always pointing to our injury to explain why.

We nurture and promote how we have been harmed until it really does define us.

It is as though we place a sign around our neck for all to see that says, “Wounded. Don’t expect much of me.”

But on our back is another sign that only others can see that says, “Because I choose to be a victim. And don’t expect much of myself.”

And the sign on our back doesn’t come off until we take off the sign that proclaims we are a victim –that we put on ourselves.

RFK and the Healing Power of Improvisation

In my latest column for The Daily Beast, I discuss what I believe was the greatest speech of the 20th Century.  Here’s an excerpt:

rfkmlkAmerica is the story of improvisation.

From the ad hoc debates that framed our founding documents, to the native jazz syncopations that power our cultural soundtrack, to the deeply American notion that we all deserve second chances – our national fabric is woven together by motley patches of spontaneous innovation, creativity and reinvention.

It’s no wonder that we cherish the myth that our history’s greatest oration was scribbled furiously on the back of an envelope during a train ride to a Pennsylvania battlefield.

But while Lincoln’s words were more planned and deliberate, the most significant speech of the 20th century was indeed improvised, a spontaneous burst of prose and poetry in the immediate wake of national tragedy. And much as the Gettysburg Address forever redefined the Founders’ promise that “all men are created equal,” Bobby Kennedy’s extemporaneous eulogy to Martin Luther King, Jr. — delivered 46 years ago today — can offer a path toward a more just, compassionate second act for our country.

===

It was the evening of April 4, 1968, and a bitter, black nightfall had descended on one of our nation’s grayest days.

Rejecting the impassioned urging of local officials who feared imminent violence, Senator Robert F. Kennedy ascended the back of a flatbed truck in a vacant lot, surrounded by dilapidated public housing units, in the heart of the Indianapolis ghetto. Hair tussled, wearing the old overcoat of his fallen brother, Bobby stepped up to a single microphone before a growingly angry African-American audience that had waited hours in the freezing cold to confirm what many had already heard: that Martin Luther King, Jr. — their Voice — had been permanently silenced.  And without notes, speaking directly from his heart, a heart that ached from an unimaginable half-decade of grief — grief for a brother, for a comrade-in-peace, for a nation in turmoil — Robert Kennedy improvised the speech of his life.

Click here to read “RFK and the Healing Power of Improvisation.”

And watch RFK’s moving oratory below:

Politico: The Man of Steele Returns

Awesome piece by Roger Simon in today’s Politico on recovering politician Michael Steele:

steelerncSteele, who is a resident fellow at the university’s Institute  of Politics, manages to traverse the entire breadth of the Midway before the  inevitable happens: A passing car comes to halt, and the driver lowers her  passenger window and hails Steele as an old friend, even though they have never  met.

While Steele was once the (first black) lieutenant governor of Maryland and  the (first black) chairman of the Republican National Committee, today he is far  better known than he was then. This is largely due to the airtime he gets as an  MSNBC analyst and his appearances on “Real Time with Bill Maher” and “The  Colbert Report.”

He is outgoing, bright, magnetic, recognized on streets and in airports and  is the one thing he was not while he ran the Republican Party: popular.

“I am the most misunderstood man in politics,” Steele tells me.

Steele was elected to a two-year term as Republican Party chairman on Jan.  30, 2009. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Barack Obama had moved into  the White House, and a lot of people were talking about a “post-racial” America.  Nancy Pelosi was running the House, Harry Reid was running the Senate and it  didn’t seem as if the Republican message was selling all that well.

So maybe it was time for a change.

Except Steele’s election took six ballots and, though Steele had conservative  Republican credentials, the reaction of some of the party kingpins ranged from  displeasure to dismay. And then there was the race thing. Maybe the country was  not so post-racial after all.

“After I was elected chairman, there were some people who refused to shake my  hand,” Steele says of some Republican bigwigs.

He was a different kind of chairman. He got involved in controversies that  earned him the wrath of Sen. John McCain (not that hard a thing to do, actually)  and made a series of statements that some found baffling.

He said the war in Afghanistan was a war “of Obama’s choosing” and that he  was going to tell local Republican chairmen, “Don’t think this is a country club  atmosphere where we sit around drinking wine and eating cheese and talking  amongst ourselves. If you don’t want to drill down and build coalitions to  minority communities, then you have to give that seat to someone who does.”

Some of his ideas were actually pretty good. He said he wanted an “off the  hook” public relations offensive to reach out to “the young, Hispanic, black, a  cross section” and apply party principles “to urban-suburban hip-hop  settings.”

This earned him the wrath of Rush Limbaugh, which could be considered a badge  of honor, but Steele was the chairman of the Republican Party, a party  that didn’t actually think of itself as being that “off the hook.”

Click here to read the full piece.

Jeff Smith Breaks Down the Latest in Bridge-gate

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Memories….of my memory….remembering things….

memoriesMemories….of my memory….remembering things….that I didn’t really remember….but thought I did…but was something else.

Seeing someone on the street late last week I said to them…

“Hey there! How are you? I was just talking about you to someone the other day….Oh, who was it…Actually it was about a month ago not the other day. Who was it I was talking to? I can’t believe I can’t remember. Oh, it wasn’t about you but something you were doing.

What…you know ….that, umm, what is the name of that charity you are involved with.

Or not charity, but project you are on the board of. The, um, the…..Oh, I remember now. It was about someone who wanted me to introduce you to them because they wanted to discuss the project with you.

jyb_musingsThat’s what it was….and, well, darn it, I told them I would introduce you two and I just forgot all about it until just now.

I’m glad I ran into you so it jogged my memory!”

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…”

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…”

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