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President Olson, distinguished faculty, families and class of 2015 graduates, my name is Arik Hanson and I am an independent marketing consultant and a graduate of the class of 1996.
I am your 2015 commencement speaker.
Apparently, the other 5,421 grads from 1996 as well as pretty much everyone else that graduated between 1997-2014 was unavailable for today’s event. So, you’re stuck with me.
But, believe me, you won’t be disappointed because I have prepared a speech today that will have you LOLing and tweeting every other line because you’re feeling so damn inspired.
And, I based in entirely off a story I read in NPR.
See, this is one of the first things you’ll learn when you leave here today: There are no original ideas. There are only people who steal ideas!
And today, I’m stealing from NPR because people who work at NPR are very, very smart. And I am, well, I’m an independent marketing consultant.
NPR’s first piece os sage advice: Be funny.
See, I’m screwed right off the bat. I’m not funny. Never have been. In fact, I’m the guy who laughs at the funny guy. I’m the funny guy’s best friend. So, being funny just isn’t going to work for me. But see, I discovered that early in my adult life. I figured out I wasn’t funny. I couldn’t make people laugh. Heck, I can’t even make my 10-year-old son laugh right now and he basically still worships his Dad. But, you see, there’s a lesson here. I’m not funny. I know that now. And, knowing what you are–and what you aren’t–is an important thing. Because trying to be funny all the time can be exhausting. It can drain you of your true energy. Energy that you’ll need to pursue your dreams. So stop trying to be so damn funny!
Number two: Make fun of yourself.
On the flip side,I’ve been making fun of myself since I was about 12 years old. I pretty much had to since 1) I wasn’t all that smart, 2) I wasn’t all that attractive, and 3) I wasn’t all that funny. But, self-depricating humor? That, I could pull off, thanks to oodles of material. And, that’s really never changed. I play the self-deprication card often when meeting new people–in meetings, over coffee, at a Twins game. It’s one of my go-to moves, to be honest. It works because it softens you up to those around you. But, it also plays a vital role for you: It keeps your ego in check. Humility is one the key characteristics of almost every successful person I know. I’m talking about people you really admire–not LeBron James or Bill Gates. XXXXX
OK, number three: Downplay the genre.
Everyone always says you’ll never remember much about your commencement speaker. I say that’s hogwash! I’m willing to bet you’ll remember me for a good 10-15 seconds after this event! After all, I’m an independent marketing consultant! I patterned my speech based on an NPR article! I followed a can’t-miss playbook! I shall be remembered!
Number four: You must have a message.
So, I’m going to steal even MORE ideas. Hey, maybe that should be one of my messages: ALWAYS STEAL IDEAS!
I have three quotes I think outline three key messages I’d like to impart to you today.
“People talk about getting lucky breaks in their careers. I’m living proof that the ‘lucky breaks’ theory is simply wrong. You get to make your own luck. … The world is run by those who show up…not those who wait to be asked.” —Steve Blank, Philadelphia University, 2011
I used to believe in the “lucky break” notion, too. Except, I thought I was the victim of NOT receiving any lucky breaks. Why did I have such bad luck, I thought? Why was the world against me? Why didn’t I just fall into these great jobs that my other friends were getting? Then, it kinda dawned on me. You need to make your own luck. You need to create your own change. You need to STEAL MORE IDEAS (no, Arik, wrong message–stay on point here). Over the years, I’ve come around to Mr. Blank’s way of thinking: There is no luck. There are only people who show up. Be someone who shows up. Every. Single. Day.
“You are now entering a world that’s filled to the brim with idiots. Since there are so many idiots out there, you actually may start to think you’re crazy. You are not. They are idiots.”–Lewis Black
For YEARS, I’ve been meeting with students. Speaking at classes (including many here at Winona State). Grabbing coffee with students. Allowing kids to job-shadow me for a day. And, over those years, the number of students who really stand out–I mean truly stand out–I can count on one hand. Lewis Black, unfortunately, was right. The world is full of mediocrity. And, because of that, I would argue it’s easier than ever to stand out from the crowd. It just takes a lot of hard work. And, people don’t want to put in hard work anymore. They want things easy. If you’re not afraid to put in the time and effort to get what you want, you will succeed.
“As you start your journey, the first thing you should do is throw away that store-bought map and begin to draw your own.” —Michael Dell, CEO, Dell Computers, University of Texas at Austin, 2003
When I graduated in 1996, a fellow grad of mine had it all planned out. I mean, she had her whole life locked down. She was going to be a VP by 30. She was going to have twin girls by 28. I’m telling you, she had it LOCKED DOWN! But, then something funny happened. Life happened. She got side-tracked. Thrown a couple curveballs she chased into the dirt. Then, life threw her a high-and-tight fastball that knocked her down flat on her ass. Her plan was kaput. But, she started to form a new plan–one that was better than the first because it was based on where she was going. Not where she thought she had to go. There’s a big difference. If you would have told me that by the time I was 42 I’d be a successful independent marketing consultant who’s keynoted conferences, earned top-billing as a national blogger, and earned more money than he could have possibly imagined as a 22-year-old, I would have said you were crazy. My life took some unexpected turns. Not everything out the way I planned it. And that’s OK. In fact, I kinda like that. I like how sometimes I don’t know what’s around the corner. I like that I don’t know what’s coming at me next (even if it might be scary). I’ve come to accept that I simply don’t have that much control over my life.
This gift you’ve been given, life, it’s a ride. And, you’re among the very fortunate who now have a college education. You have a chance to do what so few in this world can. Anything you want.
Make the most of that opportunity. And remember: ALWAYS STEAL THOSE IDEAS!
Note: Photo courtesy of Winona State University.
The first thing I noticed upon meeting Maggie Lamaack is this is one woman who’s not afraid to speak her mind. Or, share her loves (Hello–Tay-Tay! More on that later). I’m drawn to people who aren’t afraid to share their opinions or perspectives–even if they run contrary to popular opinion. And, I also tend to like people who just kinda march to the beat of their own drummer. I’m not sure Maggie would describe herself that way, but I say that in the most positive way. So, it came as no surprise to me at all when she won the MN PRSA Young Professional of the Year a couple weeks ago at the MN PRSA Classics event.
Let’s hear more about this PR rock star…
I would say it was an honor just to be nominated, but that would be incredibly cliché, right? Well, it was an honor.
I didn’t get to give a speech at the ceremony because I was the PRSA committee member in charge of the script this year and wrote in, “Maggie walks on stage, accepts award and walks away as fast as possible.” (Just kidding, sort of.) But if I had given a speech it would have been about how fortunate I have been in my career to work under talented people who have given me the opportunity to grow both personally and professionally, and haven’t fired me for tweeting about Taylor Swift too much.
When I first started in PR, I always felt a little out of place. I would go to interviews and hear a lot of feedback that I was too shy, or too quiet to work in this industry. It was a fair assessment at the time, and now I can even go to networking events without feeling nauseous beforehand! But I think to me this award really proves that if you do good work, any personality type can make it in this profession.
Working at small agencies has given me so many leadership opportunities I may not have had otherwise. I have never worked at a large agency, but I think it is safe to assume I would have had less responsibility earlier on in my career. Having face time with clients and running entire events with the help of one or two other people has taught me a lot about this industry in a very short period of time.
It’s also fun to know all of your coworkers. Everyone at Bellmont is very different, but we all get along great. I think I would miss that.
Writing for LOL/OMG Blog was one of the best professional decisions I ever made. I started my #MSPtweeps column around the same time I started working at Bellmont. I am so lucky that I work for people that encourage their employees to have outside interests.
Writing that blog each week allowed me to start writing for other outlets like City Pages, Vita.mn and the Flyover. I landed my first City Pages cover story through a tweet I sent about how someone should write an article about the normal people on Twitter.
In terms of how it helps my real work, I have met so many journalists and members of the media through social media. I think I have more “Internet” friends now than I have “normal” friends. While those relationships are valuable, I also think keeping tabs on what is happening on Twitter is so important. It keeps me informed and teaches so much about human behavior, which easily translates into my day-to-day job.
Right now we’re in full on event mode, supporting the planning and implementation of nine Fuel Up to Play 60 Reward Summits throughout the Midwest for our client the Midwest Dairy Association. I will be traveling a lot over the next month, putting on events to reward students for their work throughout the school year.
I was recently talking to one of our clients on the phone and she was telling me how excited all of the kids were to come to these events, and get to meet a real life NFL player. It’s easy to get caught up in all the work and tiny details, and kind of forget you’re creating an event that these kids are going to remember forever. That is pretty cool.
It’s funny, because at the time I never thought five internships was a lot. When I graduated from college I still had a hard time finding a job.
I learned more about PR in those internships than I did in college (no offense, U of M). I think there should now be college classes about how to send emails correctly, because it’s things like that that make internships so valuable.
Now, getting a job is more about who you know than anything. So, building those relationships within the industry is important, and internships are a great way to do that.
Both! I think “1989” is perfect — other than “Welcome to New York,” which is terrible. But I also love her last album, “Red.”
I also think Tay is a PR genius. I’m sure she has quite a marketing team behind her, but I would also venture to guess the woman knows what she is doing. I could write a whole guest blog post about this. The way she has handled herself throughout this press tour has been genius, and she and her post-gym outfits are going to be laughing all the way to the bank.
Spyhouse Uptown for real work. I don’t know why but it is the only place I can really be productive. Plus, they play good music.
Spyhouse Northeast when I’m writing. Everyone there looks like they just walked off some sort of independent movie set. It’s inspiring.
Canteen on the weekends. Their toast bar is the best and you can get unlimited refill coffee.
Every two weeks, this is where you’ll find who’s been promoted, who’s changing jobs, who’s looking for talent and who’s hosting events here in the Twin Cities. It’s your one-stop shop for all things PR and digital marketing here in town!
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Congrats to Maggie Lamaack at Bellmont Partners PR for winning the Young Professional of the Year Award at #mnclassics a couple weeks ago!
Sad to see fellow MIMA board member and friend, Brad Spychalski, move on to the Windy City. Chicago–I hope you know you’re getting one of the good ones. PS: You’re also getting another Packer fan to incessantly heckle you!
Jolina Pettice was recently promoted to vice president at TopRank Marketing. Couldn’t happen to a better person!
space150 is seeking PR and social media interns: http://www.space150.com/contact/careers/pr-emerging-media-intern/
Bachman’s is seeking a corporate content manager. Apply at firstname.lastname@example.org (if you want the job description, please send me a note).
Preston Kelly is seeking a public relations specialist: http://prestonkelly.com/about-preston-kelly/news/public-relations-specialist/
Maccabee PR is looking for a PR and social media account executive: http://maccabee.com/pr-social-media-account-executive-technology-sought-by-maccabee-public-relations/
MIMA will be hosting a new kind of event on May 20 with “Tactics in 20″. The format? 3 panelists sharing tips in 20 minute increments. Simple as that. The first topic–data and tech. Register here.