Blogger Socialites: Reynolds, Richmond, Rittereiser, Roesler, Rosen, Rosenberg

When 80 Marketing bloggers get together in NYC for the first Blogger Social , you know it’s going to be a lively time. Because the attendees are one lively bunch! This group of BS’08 profiles was prepared with the assistance of Mario Vellandi, his second batch- thanks, Mario!

s-reynolds-150.jpgSusan Reynolds
You know you’re in for a treat when you land at Susan’s blog, entitled Case-Notes from the Artsy Asylum (Dominant magpie gene driven consultant Susan Reynolds tackles Relationship Media).

And there is simply no better way to write her up than to drop in her self-desription:

A woman who is interested in everything, I grew up on the banks of the Niagara River less than a mile from Canada, then spent a decade in the Philadelphia PA area before coming to Washington DC.

My bio page says “After work with various media outlets and directing art for a manufacturer, Susan shifted her focus to painting and independent projects while raising a family.” What that really means is that I worked in public relations, design and marketing in the government and corporate world; and taught studio art while juggling children and corporate wifedom. It was a lot like tap dancing while twirling flaming batons.

The children can now cook, use power tools and use the right fork. Though somehow I remained out of psychiatric hospitals I do not claim to have managed this unmedicated.

Using the blogosphere, twitter and other social media I work with others to help them achieve the same sort of buzz about their projects and services that was generated for such things as my participation in an Traveling Flat Artists – a takeoff on the Flat Stanley books and artistamps from my imaginary Empire of Ephemeria. (from Susan’s About page, which includes the best lineup of Relationship Media links that you’ll ever see!)

Have you seen mysterious appearances of frozen peas all over the blogosphere? Yep – that’s in honor of Susan – the backstory is here. Can’t wait to meet this high-impact gal!

marianne-richmond-150.jpgMarianne Richmond
Marianne is a branding strategist at Resonance Partnership, a consultancy she founded specializing in word of mouth marketing, and is based in St. Louis. They provide market analyses, concept development, program strategy, implementation, and measurement. Establishing and measuring metrics and ROI through quantitative/qualitative analysis is one of the greatest skills her clients value her for. Marianne has a BA in Psychology, MBA in Marketing, and a Masters in Clinical Social Work. Her professional history spans from consumer packaged goods marketing, to the exciting world of participatory media. A full profile of her background can be found at the about page on her blog.

She is passionate about green marketing, design, and sustainability, and writes about these subjects on her blog and as a co-author at Mary Hunt’s Smart Solutions for Sustainable Businesses. Marianne has two teenage sons, a sense of humor; enjoys reading, tennis, and listening to NPR; and lastly cherishes her mom as a hero in her life.

cathleenrittereiser-sm.jpgCathleen Rittereiser
Cathleen is VP of Business Development at Alternative Asset Managers in NY, marketing alternative investments to institutional investors; these include start-up and emerging hedge funds, and the firm’s own private equity fund. She has an undergraduate degree in Business and English, and an MBA from NY University. Cathleen is a co-author of the book: “Foundation and Endowment Investing: Philosophies and Strategies of Top Investors and Institutions“. While her knowledge in finance is impressive, she’s also well versed in digital marketing and creating brand development strategies online.

Additionally, she enjoys performing stand-up comedy in the evenings and writing about humor and other topics on her blog, including productivity, popular culture, procrastination, food & cooking, and technology. Last, but definitely not least, Cathleen is a co-founder of the Frozen Pea Fund.

steveroesler-150.jpgSteve Roesler
Steve is a communications specialist from greater Philadelphia, providing clients with training and development with an emphasis on improving systems, relationships, and large-scale change. At All Things Workplace, he passionately writes about how people can become extraordinary, among other topics in organizational behavior, communication, and leadership. Steve holds a Masters in Public Relations & Communications, and began his professional career with a 2-year assignment with Saudi Arabian Airlines. Here he developed and trained up-and-coming managers in Europe, Northern Africa, and the Middle East. Following his return to America, Steve established his own firm (The Roesler Group) in 1977, and has since worked with a variety of large clients in the United States and abroad.

He was once a drill instructor in the Army, is a musician and singer, and has been involved in broadcasting for over 30 years. While Steve has attended various institutes for the study of human behavior, he believes that none of them equals a single day’s education watching people at an airport check-in line.

john-rosen-sm.jpgJohn Rosen
John Rosen is an Executive Director of Marketing Consulting Associates, a strategic marketing consulting firm based in Westport, CT, that advises Fortune 500 companies on developing growth strategies. He is a co-author along with AnnaMaria Turano, of: StopWatch Marketing, Take Charge of the Time When Your Customer Decides to Buy. In the book and at their blog, they argue that consumers have a figurative ticking stopwatch with them when they shop. Consequently, the job of the marketer “is to understand that ticking and to either slow it down so that they can get their message across or stop the ticking and close the sale right then and there. It is this line of thinking that John brings to clients, from mom-and-pop stores to consumer product giants, in helping them analyze, evaluate, and appropriately respond to the time sensitivity of their customers.

John has 25+ years of sales and marketing management experience, and has two teenage sons who are shocked that he really knows how to blog.

robert-rosenberg-sm.jpgRoberta Rosenberg
Roberta is President and CEO at MGP Direct, Inc., where she provides clients with direct response marketing, search engine optimization, and copywriting services.  She has 20+ years experience primarily with print and web B2B customers.  She passionately writes about these subjects at The Copywriting Maven, where she indulges readers with tips, techniques, and resources (in addition to some ‘wry, cranky commentary’). Additional information about her professional background can be found on her About page.

Roberta also owns and operates an online gift shop, AdoptShoppe.com, which sells a variety of unique items. It started as a hobby while awaiting the adoption of her 2nd child from Korea.  She even started a specialty site, devoted to helping parents understand the process of adopting Korean children.

Here’s the full list of Blogger Social registered attendees:

Tara Anderson
Todd Andrlik
Mike Arauz
David Armano (these four are profiled here)

Matthew Bailey
Ryan Barrett
Cam Beck
Shashi Bellamkonda (these four are profiled here)

Jennifer Berk
David Berkowitz
Rohit Bhargava
Susan Bird (these four are profiled here)

Toby Bloomberg
Tim Brunelle
Katie Chatfield
Thomas Clifford (these four are profiled here)

Mack Collier
Saul Colt (these two are profiled here)

Terry Dagrosa
Luc Debaisieux
Gene DeWitt
Matt Dickman
Paul Dunay (these five are profiled here)

Gianandrea Facchini
Jason Falls
Anna Farmery (these three are profiled here)

Mark Goren
Heather Gorringe
Kristin Gorski
Amanda Gravel
Lewis Green (these five are profiled here)

Vahe Habeshian
Ann Handley
Gavin Heaton
Kris Hoet
Kevin Horne
Sean Howard (these six are profiled here)

Joseph Jaffe
Ryan Karpeles
CK
Chris Kieff
Joe Kutchera (these five are profiled here)

Jennifer Laycock
CeCe Lee
Geoff Livingston
Lori Magno
Valeria Maltoni (these five are profiled here)

Caroline McCarthy
Matthew McDonald
Paul McEnany
Tim McHale
Drew McLellan (these five are profiled here)

Doug Meacham
Virginia Miracle
Scott Monty
Darryl Ohrt (these four are profiled here)

Rita Perea
David Polinchock
Marilyn Pratt (these three are profiled here)

Jane Quigley
Arun Rajagopal
Connie Reece
David Reich (these four are profiled here)

Susan Reynolds
Marianne Richmond
Cathleen Rittereiser
Steve Roesler
John Rosen
Roberta Rosenberg (these six are profiled above)

Mike Sansone
Linda Sherman
Nathan Snell
Paul Soldera
Marshall Sponder
Terry Starbucker
Seni Thomas
Tangerine Toad
Mario Vellandi
Greg Verdino
Neil Vineberg
John Wall
Tamar Weinberg
CB Whittemore
Kaitlyn Wilkins
Steve Woodruff

Twitter Day One

twitter.jpgOkay, I finally did it. I Twittered. Decided to find out what all the fuss was about.

Why did I wait so long? Frankly, because I just couldn’t see the purpose. I could not envision the business application.

Nonetheless, all the cool bloggers were tweeting, so it was time to jump in. And, unexpectedly, I found something I wasn’t looking for…

Way back a year ago or so in the Age of Conversation book, I contributed a chapter called The Lowered Fence of Collaboration. Here is part of what I wrote:

    “While we still have nearby families and friends for support and fellowship, we now have a neighborhood far greater in scope. Collaboration and communication via the web means that I can now find others of shared interest — wherever they may be. I can create my own neighborhood, based on common professional interests, shared life experiences and mutual hobbies. The common space has no boundaries.”

This metaphor – neighbors chatting over a backyard fence – was something I never really experienced growing up. I guess I’ve always found the idea appealing at some level, but have been too task-oriented to see the value. But now, I work on my own. And even before, in a prior work situation, there was little like-minded communion – I was a marketer amidst technical folks.

So, I’ve found great enjoyment getting to know (even virtually) dozens of marketers through blogging and various collaborative efforts. But Twitter? Why, it’s the backyard fence! For me, it’s not about business – it’s about conversing over the virtual fence, and being less alone as a professional and as a person.

Hmmm…what’s not to like?

Social Media and RO__why?

A thought-provoking post by Debbie Weil on the ROI of Social Media had the effect of…well, provoking some thought.

tape-measure.jpgI’ve always had a hate-like relationship with ROI and its many first and second cousins (ROE, ROC, ROwhatever). The concept is sound at a certain level – if we invest (x), what will be our Return on that Investment? This works well in the tangible, definable, prior-track-record arena of business.

The problem is that it is a narrow, accounting-centric, and transaction-centric set of lenses. And not all decisions (both business and personal) are best viewed through the green RO__ eyeshades. Some things cannot be given proper value based on scheduled dollar returns. And some things, like Social Media, are emerging and evolving – no track record. We’re still making up the rules for crying out loud!

When it comes to Social Media and other aspects of business and life where measured returns are “squishier,” trying to do ROI calculations is a matter of undergoing artificial contortions (this has been true in the training industry, where I’ve been involved for many years). So you have to exercise judgment, faith, vision, and long-term thinking, answering this question primarily: is this likely to have a positive impact?

At the risk of oversimplifying the already obvious, I think a judgment about the value of Social Media and other such avenues can be made based on weighing these three factors, some of which don’t fit nicely into the simplistic RO__ model:

    Anticipated Positive Benefit (APB) – both long-term and short-term!
    Anticipated Potential Risk (APR)
    Anticipated Resource Allocation (ARA)

roi-borg.jpgIf the potential benefits outweigh the foreseeable risks, and there are sufficient time/people resources to move ahead – then why require make-believe ROI calculations? Just plow ahead and make things happen.

Just spewing here. What are your thoughts? I’m sure many of you are already running into the Business Borg (“ROI Resistance is futile…”) – how do you work around it?

(Image credit-tape measure)

Blogger Socialites: Perea, Polinchock, Pratt

This set of Blogger Social registrant profiles comes to us courtesy of Jennifer Berk, one of those who will be joining us in early April for a humdinger of a blogger get-together. Thanks, Jennifer!

rita-perea-150.jpg Rita Perea

Rita recently described how she started blogging, a conversion since she originally “just could not ‘see’ the power of using social media to grow my speaking and coaching business.” Since her change of heart, bringing her career, leadership, and public speaking advice to the blog has become “the new and improved way that I do business.”

One particularly interesting category on the Rita Perea Consulting blog is Coachability – stories about how coaching works and how best to take advantage of advice. Rita has also started the P List – her award for “Business People Who Live Their Passion With Integrity.”

A lifelong learner, Rita is working toward a doctorate in organizational psychology, and her book will be released this fall. In an information-oversaturated world, couldn’t we all use advice on going “From Frantic to Fabulous in Forty Days”? Looking forward to hearing more about it in April!

david-polinchock-sm.jpgDavid Polinchock

David has been working in new media for more than 15 years, and now focuses on making companies’ product experiences extraordinary as Founder and Chairman of Brand Experience Lab. BEL and David were profiled in Fast Company a couple of years ago, with mention of cool new technologies they were playing with then – who knows what they have now!

David is also an Adjunct Professor at CMU, and he’s taught classes on experiential branding at NYU. You can also find him microblogging on Twitter.

The Experience Economist blog will be almost four years old during Blogger Social. I love the tag cloud category listing, showing many posts on advertising news, emerging technologies, events, the future of advertising, and retail news. Posts often springboard from customer experiences to talk about how companies and ad agencies need to improve how they connect with people. For instance, a recent, provocative story is reprinted from BEL’s first newsletter in 2003, saying “The consumer has become the baby seal of the Twenty-first Century, and we are the mighty hunters.” Go read to find out how the baby seals are fighting back and how companies can learn to drop the club.

marilyn_pratt-sm.jpgMarilyn Pratt

Marilyn’s job title is Community Evangelist at the SAP DeveloperNetwork’s Business Process Expert Community, and her work blog posts are an interesting mix of community events, introductions to features, and BPX-specific discussions.

On her own time, Marilyn’s “A time to mourn a time to rejoice….” is a thoughtful blog with longer posts, usually only a few a month but going back to 2005. (She Twitters far more frequently, but with similar care.) The blog was one of the ten
selected for Sam Lawrence’s text cloud redux (with women) post (scroll down to #7), and he rightly remarks on Marilyn’s international orientation.

One of her posts from last November beautifully combines her personal advocacy interests with her professional life, talking about applying business process expertise to corporate responsibility. Marilyn also has a background in theater directing, and I’m betting that translates into enormously useful experience for a community manager and advocate!

Here’s the full list of Blogger Social registered attendees:

Tara Anderson
Todd Andrlik
Mike Arauz
David Armano (these four are profiled here)

Matthew Bailey
Ryan Barrett
Cam Beck
Shashi Bellamkonda (these four are profiled here)

Jennifer Berk
David Berkowitz
Rohit Bhargava
Susan Bird (these four are profiled here)

Toby Bloomberg
Tim Brunelle
Katie Chatfield
Thomas Clifford (these four are profiled here)

Mack Collier
Saul Colt (these two are profiled here)

Terry Dagrosa
Luc Debaisieux
Gene DeWitt
Matt Dickman
Paul Dunay (these five are profiled here)

Gianandrea Facchini
Jason Falls
Anna Farmery (these three are profiled here)

Mark Goren
Heather Gorringe
Kristin Gorski
Amanda Gravel
Lewis Green (these five are profiled here)

Vahe Habeshian
Ann Handley
Gavin Heaton
Kris Hoet
Kevin Horne
Sean Howard (these six are profiled here)

Joseph Jaffe
Ryan Karpeles
CK
Chris Kieff
Joe Kutchera (these five are profiled here)

Jennifer Laycock
CeCe Lee
Geoff Livingston
Lori Magno
Valeria Maltoni (these five are profiled here)

Caroline McCarthy
Matthew McDonald
Paul McEnany
Tim McHale
Drew McLellan (these five are profiled here)

Doug Meacham
Virginia Miracle
Scott Monty
Darryl Ohrt (these four are profiled here)

Rita Perea
David Polinchock
Marilyn Pratt (these three are profiled above)

Jane Quigley
Arun Rajagopal
Connie Reece
David Reich
Susan Reynolds
Marianne Richmond
Cathleen Rittereiser
Steve Roesler
John Rosen
Roberta Rosenberg
Mike Sansone
Linda Sherman
Nathan Snell
Paul Soldera
Marshall Sponder
Terry Starbucker
Seni Thomas
Tangerine Toad
Mario Vellandi
Greg Verdino
Neil Vineberg
John Wall
Tamar Weinberg
CB Whittemore
Kaitlyn Wilkins
Steve Woodruff

Eliot Spitzer: A Tarnished Man, A Tarnished Brand

spitzer.jpg

[3/12 update: Spitzer has just resigned. Some further thoughts on my Impactiviti blog: Flawed or Fraud?]

The news is just breaking this afternoon – Eliot Spitzer, controversial Democratic governor of New York, has apparently been linked to a ring providing prostitution services.

Spitzer is hardly the first politician to be caught (as of this writing, allegedly caught) in a situation of moral compromise. But Spitzer is in a very awkward position – his entire public career was built on being the ethics enforcer. The prosecutor. The one going after the transgressions of the rich and powerful. Brand Spitzer was all about fighting corruption. But it was more than that…

Eliot Spitzer managed to gain a reputation for ruthlessness, pettiness, and arrogance. Some of his moves as Attorney General – and as Governor – were highly questionable. And so, when someone like that is caught in hypocrisy, there is little chance of recovery. If the charges prove true, Brand Spitzer is tarnished forever.

Mere mortals who stumble morally are often forgiven, particularly if they have a track record of seeking to do what’s right, and tend to show mercy and understanding toward others. But when you make a career out of applying the law with exceptional zeal, and then manage to do something that looks like you think you’re above the law – well, there won’t be a lot of sympathy or forgiveness, I suspect.

Lesson learned? People (and brands) make mistakes all the time. Sometimes grievous ones. If we’ve built good will and kindness into our brand, we can recover. But if we’re all about right/wrong, win/lose, and the self-aggrandizing exercise of power, then we have to face the uncomfortable fact that the stakes will be far higher when we muddy our shoes.

Blogger Socialites: Laycock, Lee, Livingston, Magno, Maltoni

OK, so this group of Blogger Social registrants got done out of sequence. But it’s only because we were running short of superlatives, and had to search high and low for new and creative ways to brag about our blogging colleagues (does that sound good, Valeria??). Many thanks to Kristin Gorski for writing up this set!

jennifer-laycock-sm.jpgJennifer Laycock

As Editor of the Search Engine Guide blog, Jennifer Laycock loves to share her knowledge of search engine marketing, viral marketing and social media to help small business owners master their business domains. But did you know that she may also be the “Goddess of All Twitter Knowledge”? After reading her informative ongoing series “From Twits to Tweeple, Why I Embraced Twitter and You Should Too”, both experienced Twitter users and newbies will undoubtedly learn valuable tips.

Do you “retweet”? If you don’t, after reading Jennifer’s post, you will. Your viral marketing efforts will thank you for it.

When Jennifer isn’t clarifying some of the Interweb’s most challenging and vital fine points for the hungry online masses, she is happily explaining the world to her young son and daughter. From seeing how well she educates on Search Engine Guide, it is clear what a gifted teacher these young ones have in their mother!

cece-lee.jpegCeCe Lee

A PR veteran of agencies like Ogilvy & Mather, Niehaus Ryan Group/Wong, and Blanc & Otus, Cece knows how to get the word out. She writes about blending public relations with marketing to make results for her clients at her personal blog PR Meets Marketing. Cece shares what she is learning along the way; check out her post “Pitching Bloggers”, a resource that all PR folks dealing with Blogville should read thoroughly and refer to regularly. With both feet planted firmly in the tech world, Cece is currently doing in-house PR at ON24, a company which specializes in making rich media applications (like webcasts and podcasts) easy to use and packed with value.

Looking at all her company’s services, I have many questions to ask her about web- and pod-casting. Bast on her extensive work experience, I’d like to get insights from her about blogging and PR, too. From looking in awe at her photo on her blog’s “About” page, I would also like to know this: how long did she stay on that mechanical bull?!?

geoff-living-150.jpgGeoff Livingston

Geoff Livingston is co-author with Brian Solis of Now is Gone: A Primer on New Media for Executives and Entrepreneurs, which just recently won the Silver Medal in the Advertising/Marketing/PR/Event Planning category at the 2008 Axiom Business Book Awards.

As head of Livingston Communications and Editor of The Buzz Bin, this marketing strategist has developed a diverse clientele in the Washington, D.C.-metro area: the Duke Ellington Jazz Festival, the Washington Nationals, Verizon Wireless, and a host of others. Geoff is also a sought-after speaker on marketing, PR and new media. After having given keynote presentations to the Direct Marketing Association of Washington, The New, New Internet Web 2.0 Accelerator and Success in the City’s New Media Nouveaux conference, everyone knows that Livingston really talks his talk.

According to a mysterious item listed on his blog’s “About” page, Geoff also seems to have some space travel on his résumé. If you’d like to know what he forgot to pack on his trip to the moon, just click here!

lori-magno-150.jpgLori Magno

Lori Magno runs the Moda di Magno Blog for Stylish Living. As a Creative Liaison with Digitas Boston, she also posts at The Digital Hive, the Digitas account planning group’s blog.

This multi-faceted creative shares her rich artistic interests online. She recently embarked on an iPhone photo safari around Boston and posted the images to her blog; they are the latest in an ongoing series of “iPhone pix” and capture moments of interesting visual details, fun spontaneity, and how design communicates. Lori is also an accomplished jewelry designer. If you’d like to spend some time gazing at elegant, unique necklaces, earrings and bracelets online (like I did in researching this blurb), do check out her Accessories for Stylish Living webstore.

Lori pens in her Blogger Social bio that she is “an Audi-driving, Mac-using, doppio-drinking (mostly), Red Sox-loving liberal”. From seeing her work online, I suggest she add “Renaissance woman” to her list.

valeria_maltoni-150.jpgValeria Maltoni

Valeria Maltoni is the Conversation Agent. Her client list reads like a “Who’s Who” of the most influential corporate and academic business minds in the world. She is a Fast Company Expert blogger and also posts at The Blog Herald and Marketing Profs Daily Fix.

Originally from Italy, she now resides in Philadelphia. Publishing her writing in both English and Italian, her marketing insights truly reach a global audience. Maltoni is a well-recognized speaker on topics like “Building a Successful Team”, “Building a Great Brand” and “Knowing vs. Doing”. Actively involved in professional organizations, she can be found in the membership of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), the American Marketing Association (AMA), the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia (WACA) and the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC).

Thought-leader Valeria lives and breathes inspiring marketing. Her post “Conversations on the Future of Advertising” is one current example of this hallmark trait of hers. Read any of her posts or her blog’s “About” page to experience how marketing, insight and generosity combine to advance the field of modern business.

Here’s the full list of Blogger Social registered attendees:

Tara Anderson
Todd Andrlik
Mike Arauz
David Armano (these four are profiled here)

Matthew Bailey
Ryan Barrett
Cam Beck
Shashi Bellamkonda (these four are profiled here)

Jennifer Berk
David Berkowitz
Rohit Bhargava
Susan Bird (these four are profiled here)

Toby Bloomberg
Tim Brunelle
Katie Chatfield
Thomas Clifford (these four are profiled here)

Mack Collier
Saul Colt (these two are profiled here)

Terry Dagrosa
Luc Debaisieux
Gene DeWitt
Matt Dickman
Paul Dunay (these five are profiled here)

Gianandrea Facchini
Jason Falls
Anna Farmery (these three are profiled here)

Mark Goren
Heather Gorringe
Kristin Gorski
Amanda Gravel
Lewis Green (these five are profiled here)

Vahe Habeshian
Ann Handley
Gavin Heaton
Kris Hoet
Kevin Horne
Sean Howard (these six are profiled here)

Joseph Jaffe
Ryan Karpeles
CK
Chris Kieff
Joe Kutchera (these five are profiled here)

Jennifer Laycock
CeCe Lee
Geoff Livingston
Lori Magno
Valeria Maltoni (these five are profiled above)

Caroline McCarthy
Matthew McDonald
Paul McEnany
Tim McHale
Drew McLellan (these five are profiled here)

Doug Meacham
Virginia Miracle
Scott Monty
Darryl Ohrt (these four are profiled here)

Rita Perea
David Polinchock
Marilyn Pratt
Jane Quigley
Arun Rajagopal
Connie Reece
David Reich
Susan Reynolds
Marianne Richmond
Cathleen Rittereiser
Steve Roesler
John Rosen
Roberta Rosenberg
Mike Sansone
Linda Sherman
Nathan Snell
Paul Soldera
Marshall Sponder
Terry Starbucker
Seni Thomas
Tangerine Toad
Mario Vellandi
Greg Verdino
Neil Vineberg
John Wall
Tamar Weinberg
CB Whittemore
Kaitlyn Wilkins
Steve Woodruff

Thank God for Antonin Dvorak!

I mean it. Sincerely, and without using God’s name in vain.

I thank God for Dvorak, Beethoven, Brahms, Rachmaninoff, and many other composers and musicians (not all of them classical, by any means!) whose productions fill my ears with beauty and my heart with joy.

wonderful-life.jpgLast week was rough. An uninvited intestinal bug raged through the entire family, leaving churning stomachs and blecchhy minds in its wake. Recovering, but in a physical and emotional funk, I left early Thursday morning for a business trip, to spend some time with (fortunately) a favorite client. Nonetheless, I felt drained and worthless, driving past bridge abutments on the highway and having some of those Jimmy Stewart/It’s a Wonderful Life moments (“maybe the world would be better off without me…!”). Ever felt like that? Well, despite the fact that I even had the collision damage waiver on the car, I stayed on the road and spent the day trying to concentrate on client needs instead of my own blah.

Friday the funk began to lift, creativity began to flow, and I felt like I was finally back to adding some value. But, the best was yet to come. My bride of (almost) 27 years picked me up at the airport, and we headed off for a bite to eat, and for a performance of Dvorak’slogo_njpac.gif Symphony No. 9 (From the New World) at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. The Czech Philharmonic Orchestra was on tap – fitting, since Dvorak was a Czech.

(NJPAC, by the way, if you’ve never been there, is a lovely facility right in downtown Newark. The building, and the logo, have always been favorites of mine).

njpac.jpgThe first piece performed was Dvorak’s Carnival Overture – it was an OK performance, nothing earth-shaking. Then, in a late substitution, the second piece was Beethoven’s Piano Concerto #5 (Emperor), a real favorite of ours – stunningly performed by a subset of the orchestra and a talented pianist named Simone Dinnerstein. Wonderful.

After intermission, it was time for the New World, and the performance was spine-tingling. The conductor was quite animated, the musicians clearly well-familiar with the piece, and the audience was barely able to contain its enthusiasm. Once the vigorous and stirring final movement was done, the place erupted in applause. By then, I was utterly transported out of my prior lethargy and thrilled to the marrow by such marvelous musical talent. The sounds coming out of those instruments – sounds that somehow, were once envisioned and created in the astounding mind of an amazingly talented composer – carried my feelings through the range of exquisite pleasure to minor-key sorrow to triumphant rapture.

(If you’re not familiar with the New World Symphony, waste no time getting a CD! The second movement, Largo, is one of the most hauntingly melancholy and beautiful pieces of music you’ll ever hear. The Allegro, which closes it out, will have you leaping out of your chair as your hair stands up on the back of your neck. Yes, it’s that good!)

njpac-czech.jpg
(picture taken from my handy iPhone)

dvorak.jpgLet’s be honest – sometimes, life can feel like sandpaper. Coarse grain sandpaper, on a fresh wound. Even old Antonin doesn’t look too thrilled in the picture here! But then, we have the gifts of music, food, wine, family, friends…and remembering those things, those Clarence-like reminders, we push through the bad stuff and acknowledge that we are blessed. Blessed, sometimes, beyond our wildest dreams…

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