Last week I was reminded of the quote, “If you don’t know where you’ve come from, you don’t know where you’re going,” attributed to the world famous author, Maya Angelou.
Thirty-eight years ago I graduated from Syracuse University, and one of my classmates and fellow Orangeman was the well-known ESPN sportscaster, Sean McDonough. At Syracuse Sean announced many of our soccer games, and he was influential in helping me secure a few of my very first jobs in public relations. The summer of my Junior year, Sean helped me land a role with the Empire State Games in their PR department, while also working in the press office of the Syracuse Chiefs, feeding Sean updates on baseball scores that were spitting out from a ticker tape. Remember, this was well before the Internet! I knew nothing about baseball, but that didn’t matter to Sean. I had a great summer working with him and many other Syracuse graduates who are now recognized sports media personalities.
Well, last week I got together with Sean after some 38 years, and he hasn’t changed. He has accomplished a ton in the last four decades. He has called almost every big game in most sports, and he is a familiar face on television to anyone who follows sports. I have never forgotten the kindness Sean shared in helping me land my first jobs in public relations, and I got together with him to let him know how grateful I am. Here’s a picture of the two of us in Sean’s hotel when he was in Los Angeles calling the National Football Championship for ESPN.
Past Relationships Matter
In many ways my career has been defined the relationships I have cultivated along my 38 years in public relations, including many of you who are part of this Monday Morning Mojo readership. In fact, there are a few people from my youth who have also been instrumental in my career.
Last week also I had lunch with Howard Bragman, who went to the same high school I attended and grew up in the same neighborhood. Howard is now one of the foremost crisis management experts for celebrities in the United States. I got together with Howard in Los Angeles to thank him for agreeing to speak to a graduate class I am teaching this Spring on Crisis Management at the University of Southern California (USC), Annenberg School of Communication.
There are many other colleagues, both past and present, who will join my class as speakers, providing USC graduate students with some of the best advice on managing crises globally. I will write more about this class in forthcoming posts, however, I wanted to recognize Howard and others who will assist me in teaching this course, most of whom come from my past.
My Mother’s Advice
As kids, my mom would frequently remind my siblings and me to, “remember where you came from,” to keep us in check and reinforce the importance of recognizing our roots. Most people who know me know I am proud of my Flint, Michigan upbringing, and the friends I have stayed in touch with over the years. Huge shout out to those Flint, Michigan folks who take the time to read this blog, and of course, to my mom, who passed away six years-ago from this past weekend.
Celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Today in the US is Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Day, a day we celebrate the famous reverend for his leadership in the civil rights movement dating back to 1955. Reverend King was a fantastic orator, and for those who are not familiar with his famous “I have a dream” speech”, I have shared it here. My mom was very active in the civil rights movement and that also frames a lot of my sentiments for this holiday.
Great Career Suggestions From Steve Jobs
As I was looking through videos related to remembering one’s past, this clip of Steve Jobs, former Founder and CEO of Apple, came up. This was one of the last commencement speeches at Stanford before he passed away, and he spoke about recognizing your past as a path to future success. This talk is brilliant and has many great lessons for anyone looking for a job in this New Year, or for those of us looking to improve ourselves in 2023. If you have a spare 15 minutes, this is most inspirational.
Wishing you a great week ahead and thank you for being part of this community.
Thank you for sharing this article, Scott! Thanks to the past experience to work as an intern in Ogilvy & Mather 7 years ago. I’m sure that it’s a big milestone in my life which leads me to the extra miles. What I’ve learned during that period molds what I’m doing right now or in the future. It broadens my horizon and reminds me never forget where you comes from.
What a gorgeous picture of Maxine!
Dear Scott, once again you are bringing excellent advice. Bravo! Al
The girls and I have many memories of your mom’s warmth and kindness. She was particularly kind to the underdog always championing causes of one kind or other.
She also was a community leader and deeply involved in civil rights. You are right about her passion for it. She often referred to the I Have a Dream speech wondering when or even if it would become reality.
Listening to Steve Job’s commencement talk about the importance of connecting the dots is one of the ways I remember your mom. An example of this is her Western Hills fervor for looking back at previous swim meets remembering which swimmer from the opposing team to look out for coaching our team from along side the pool. She inspired all of us not just the kids. She was great at dot connecting.
Your noting the anniversary of your mom’s passing was a chance, as an admirer of Monday Morning Mojo, to point out the outstanding stock you come from. It’s no happen chance you’re the fine adult you’ve become.