What futurist David Zach didn’t tell us about “trends” – SCN Encourager

Tracking the dang things takes effort!

I shoulda figured.

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 3.47.12 PMLast month’s Lunchinar with David Zach was so much fun, I almost forgot the fact that deriving value from anything (or anyone) rarely comes without a fair amount of focus and sweat.

Yeah, it would’ve been nice to have heard about an easy way to stay on top of TRENDS…

but nope.

There isn’t one.

You can either wait until they wedge themselves your world by surprise and become your new reality or you can do the work required and try to anticipate them. 

Our SCN Lunchinar guest on Thursday is Jason Wheeler, a talented school PR pro in Carrollton, Texas.

Jason went to the 2016 Social Media Marketing World Conference 2016 in San Diego last month and – you guessed it – he came back with a few interesting trends (and more) to tell us about.

Thursday’s Lunchinar with Jason and Holly should be a dandy.

Here are the details.

At first I was tempted to just sit back and wait for those emerging trends to plop onto my lap in the same way soup, BBQ sauce, and mustard always seem to.

But I’d rather have lunch with you on Thursday.

Really… I would!

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Ready to make a little Monday magic? – SCN Encourager

Here’s how – straight from the old The Andy Griffith Show!

You do remember this classic TV show, don’t you?

Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 2.54.20 PMIt’s somewhat embarrassing to ask.

I know it dates me horribly.

But one of the lessons learned by a young Ron Howard back on the show’s set in the 1960s grounded his future success, and you know, I think it’s a good one to keep in the spotlight.

It’s definitely relevant for us.

It’s not all that fancy, I’ll grant you that.

But you know what they say about the importance of the fundamentals.

This falls into that category.

Howard has enjoyed an incredible career.

From about 1960–1968 he played Opie Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show (the 9th ranked TV show of all time according to TV Guide).

Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 3.59.48 PMIn adulthood, Howard directed the movie Apollo 13 with great acclaim, went on to win an Oscar with A Beautiful Mind, and has masterfully directed a total of 40 big budget films to date.

He was asked how he creates his “magic?

Specifically, what does he do to inspire his cast and crew to make magic happen?

His answer was short.

“You prepare… prepare… and prepare.” 

Huh? That’s it?


“Then after you’ve prepared,” Howard explained. “You just do what you’re prepared to do. The magic will happen. But you must WAIT for it to show up and be ready to catch it when it does. The WAITING is the hard part.”

Rock-solid words, don’tcha think?

Of course, leave it me (as the official Barney Fife of school communications) to disagree.

I believe preparing is actually the hardest part, not the waiting.

I can wait and stall around with the best of them.

Preparing is the part that takes the effort.

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Join us for our May Lunchinar!

It's happening Thursday, May 26, from 12:15–1pm EST

We’re bringing you a great guest from Texas.

OThursday, May 26, we’re sponsoring another one of our popular #scnLunchinars!

So what’s an #scnLunchinar?

It’s a FREE live streaming school PR micro-event that runs from 12:15 – 1 pm EST.



Imagine a 45 minute virtual lunchtime get-together with an awesome guest and a great group of your fellow school communicators who are all eager to “grow in what they know.”

Our previous Lunchinars have featured some incredible guests.

Here’s the proof– and May’s guest will be no exception.

Every #scnLunchinar is hosted by our multi-talented host Holly McCaw, the communications director of Otsego Public Schools.

Holly’s lined up Jason Wheeler for Thursday, an energetic and cutting-edge school PR pro from a very large school district in Carrollton, Texas.

You’ll enjoy Holly’s conversation with Jason.

Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 4.57.16 PMAs the Marketing Coordinator for the Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District, his duties are varied –and he pursues them all passionately with a willingness to keep learning.

Naturally, he’s an active member of TSPRA and NSPRA, and he’s also a videographer, blogger, and teacher (and like most of us, probably carries out many other duties “as assigned”).

Now last month, Jason attended the 2016 Social Media Marketing World Conference in San Diego. (Our Lunchinar guest Amy Schmittauer  in March was a presenter, by the way.)

This event is a real big deal (it’s not just me being jealous) and it shows the high level of dedication Jason has for school communications.

This annual conference attracts more than 3000 communicators and online experts from all around the world.

It has become the mecca for acquiring the latest in marketing trends and tips and Jason is going to give us a fun review of his best school PR related takeways.

Get ready to freshen up your personal school communicator’s toolbox.

So jump in and reserve your spot for the Lunchinar.

Thursday, May 26, from 12:15 – 1 pm EST.

Here’s what to do:

1.  Make space on your calendar for our #scnLunchinar.
2.  Use the link below to tell me (one sentence is all) to sign you up.
3.  Feel free to include a question you’d like Holly to ask Jason.
4.  On late Thursday morning, May 26,  I will email you the #scnLunchinar link.
5.  Then just click on the Zoom link from your desktop, tablet, or smartphone.
6.  And tahdah! We’ll all be able to eat and learn together at 12:15 pm.

Our Zoom audio/visual live chat system is easy.
You won’t need to download any software.
You won’t need to use meeting codes.
You won’t need to pay one cent.

Just email me a one sentence message to hold your spot.
(The email is: connectATscnforyou.com)


Strengthening your mindset often involves a mind-shift – SCN Encourager

At least it does for me – since I hold onto my old notions with an iron grip.


Not my fault. Someone bumped into me.

Not my fault. Someone bumped into me.

they’re about the only things I can hang onto with any certainty.

But it’s a good thing (as I’m constantly reminded by Cindy and the girls) to give fresh thinking a chance every now and then.

They’re probably right.

No doubt the gap I mentally maintain between my NOW and my THEN is far wider than it should be.

What caused me to bring this to your attention today is this thought-stimulating article by Principal George Couros.

It’s only a 3-4 minute read.

(And I’m embarrassed to admit I probably wasted more time rationalizing why I didn’t need to read it.)

But Sylvia Duckworth’s colorful visual drew me in.

Sylvia is a French teacher in Toronto and her sketch-notes are incredible.

She captured all 8 characteristics attached to George Couros’ “Innovator’s Mindset.”

Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 7.37.10 AM












This ties in perfectly with the 8 questions Couros believes are good ones to ask during an interview.

Plus, Sylvia expertly “drops in” teeny-tiny think points which amplify every characteristic.

They’re special gifts.

So don’t miss ’em.

I wish I had her talent.

You’ll notice on #6, though, that Sylvia does make use of  parentheses.

That gives me hope.

As you can see, those I can do.

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Is your school marketing “mmm mmm good?” – SCN Encourager

Whip a “foodie” mindset into your marketing planning


Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 9.07.06 PM

Finally, a challenge I’m over-prepared for!

The experts have weighed in.

There’s a new ingredient to mix into our communication strategies.

Oh, we’re familiar with the traditional fare.

You know, those communications where we aim for –
Sweet, not sour.
Satisfying, without any after-taste.
And high in health, low in calories.

But now there’s another kind of icing on the cake we can’t ignore.

Of course, we all want our marketing tactics to be DO-ABLE.

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 10.19.59 PMBut it’s not enough.

We also must make them SNACKABLE.

And the stickier, the better.

That’s what it takes today to make our messages memorable.

People aren’t into heavy “big meal” communications anymore.

They want engaging and useful information delivered in bite-sized snacks.

This is just my luck!

I like big meals.
(As rare as they are.)

But I guess there’s a bright side.

There’ll be fewer leftovers.

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Beware the narrow path – SCN Encourager

Don’t confuse it with the proverbial road less traveled

The difference is critical.

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 8.15.04 PMOh, you might not think so.

But it’s the narrow path that hides a sting.

Because once we’re on it… we’ll do anything to stay on it.

Even if we’d have been better off evaluating alternative courses.

Chip Heath and Dan Heath say we do this all of the time – and the higher the stakes – the more we’re likely to do it.

Once we start leaning in a certain direction it seems, “yes or yes” rationales are about all we want to hear.

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 9.01.15 PMAnd then, thanks to the growing momentum for “that direction” in our minds, we typically disregard any voices of dissent or caution that might be raised.

We don’t want to consider anything that’ll knock us off our narrow path.

In their book “Decisive – How to make better choices in life and work” the Heath brothers highlighted how Quaker’s purchase of Snapple for $1.8 billion nearly bankrupted the entire company.

Because the leaders of Quaker had successfully purchased the Gatorade brand years before, they thought the Snapple deal would hit gold again.

They didn’t want to hear from those (on their own team!) who thought Snapple was a far cry from the universal “athletic” appeal of Gatorade.


Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 9.09.17 PMQuaker was forced to sell off Snapple later for around $300 million.

(It’s the kind of financial maneuver I’d make, sadly enough. If I ever beg you to invest your $1.8 billion in some goofy scheme of mine, don’t do it.)

Now you may be thinking, “So what? The Quaker saga is just one example.”

Well, wise guy, the Heaths also report that more than 80% of all of those mega business mergers and re-directions have similarly frittered away shareholder value in the very same way.

It’s not an isolated problem.

Business and team leaders who feel they’re “on a roll” will rarely entertain thoughts that their singular narrow path could ever be the wrong one.

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 9.34.04 PMA number of leaders in the aftermath of their major financial miscues admitted to the Heaths they never sought out any alternative voices for their inner circle.

Which is totally understandable said the Heaths, but it’s all the more reason to appoint a trusted team member or two to play the role of cautious nay-sayers and alternative path creators.

You’ll do better with them than without them.

And you know, I think here is where the Heaths make another one of their “life and work” connections.

I can tell you from personal experience that cautious nay-sayers and alternative path creators certainly have significant roles to play in marriages and other valued relationships.

Trust me on this.

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Kaboom! That’s the sound of our exploding communications challenge – SCN Encourager

As if most of our challenges are not already… well, challenging enough.

Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 9.46.20 PMDang.

Do we really need our challenges exploding on us?

But Adam Penenberg, a leading tech writer and prof at New York University, believes the exponential growth of “ad blockers” is a warning sign we should take seriously.

Audiences everywhere have grown tired of being targeted by folks like us (retailers, marketers, politicians, schools…) and now they’re finding it easier to just tune us out altogether.

For sure, we have a wide variety of communication tools to draw from, but we’re still in a horrible place tactically according to Penenberg.

Today’s audiences members have made it clear.

Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 10.14.11 PMAcquiring their attention will take more effort than before.

Apparently (if we didn’t already know it), we’re no longer dealing with yesteryear’s body of “stakeholders.”

They’re not shy about telling us about the kind of future messages they want to receive.

“Give me something I want or might like.”
“Tell me something I’d enjoy hearing about.”
“Don’t waste my time with something boring.”
“To catch my interest, add value to my life.”

And this sentiment is exploding.

Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 10.20.56 PMSwell.

We’ve got our work cut out for us.

And creativity, empathy, timely, and relevant are our new cornerstones.

Sometimes I wish there was another way.

But Penenberg says the only alternative is to “pay people directly” for their time and attention.


I sure don’t see that happening anytime soon, do you?

I can’t even pay you for the time and attention you give me!

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Which are YOU? A Creative or an Original? (Neither, maybe?) – SCN Encourager

Let’s start by tagging you as an Achiever.

This is good for starters.

Screen Shot 2016-05-14 at 12.10.16 PMYou’re an Achiever.

And while many adjectives may describe you – and some of them we may even share (and I’m sorry ’bout that) – the word LAZY probably never, ever comes up.

Even I never hear the word LAZY used to describe me – just the five letter word it rhymes with, dang it.

We’re “get ‘er done” kind of people.

So now I must ask, are you a creative or are you an original?

And don’t start squirming… you can be both, you know.

But here’s an interesting measuring stick that’ll help us tell.

Adam Grant is a professor in the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

Screen Shot 2016-05-14 at 12.11.49 PMHe’s got an amazing background and has written two books.

He also grew up in West Bloomfield, Michigan, which isn’t as cool as hailing from Flint, of course, but he hasn’t let this significant disadvantage hold him back.

His latest book is titled “Originals.”

Now here’s where we get around to answering the question about you.

His basic definition of original is this; a propensity for pushing out boundaries, breaking rules, and challenging the status quo.

Do this a lot and you’re an Original.

In other words, an Original is a person who will frequently forego the easy default path whenever it’s presented.

According to Grant, there is research which proves you can tell if a person is an Original or not by the web browser they use.

It works out this way.

If you are using Internet Explorer or Safari… you are not an Original.

(You merely accepted the default browser that was preloaded onto your computer and started using it without a fuss or whimper.)

If you are using Chrome or Firefox – now, you’re an Original.

There’s no idle rolling along with the flow for you!

You’re in the rebel pack.

As simple as this test is, I’m still not sure what I am.

Screen Shot 2016-05-14 at 11.51.39 AM(The story of my life…)

I remember getting started online using AltaVista.

So I don’t know if this makes me an Original or a Creative.

But I have a bad feeling about this.

I think it just makes me OLD.

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You won’t find a marketing template any simpler than this – SCN Encourager

And that’s probably why I was attracted to it

Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 8.02.58 PMThe fact that it’s also “low budget” didn’t hurt, either.

Sally Hogshead is a TEDx speaker, master copywriter, and marketing coach.

Even though she started her own advertising agency at age 27 and served mega big buck clients, her heart is with helping communicators who have minimal dollars at their disposal.

I’m grateful.

I have minimal dollars at my disposal at work and at home! (Dang wedding!)

Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 8.32.17 PMHogshead is known for her succinct communication insights.

See if this one unlocks some value for you.

“In marketing, you want your product or service to be DIFFERENT and BETTER” she said in a podcast last week.

“But we don’t live in a perfect world” she acknowledged. “So sometimes the best you can do is choose one.”

“If you must choose between DIFFERENT or BETTER, choose DIFFERENT.”


“DIFFERENT will always work BETTER for you than BETTER.”

Interesting observation, don’tcha think?

Last month Hogshead updated her NY Times best-selling book Fascinate.

I’m dying to get my hands on it.

Cindy’s birthday is today.

If I had any guts at all I’d wrap it up and give it to her at dinner tonight.

But… I won’t.

Cindy’s more of a BETTER is BETTER kind of person!

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Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 7.51.14 PM


Want to feel good about your day? (and your life, in general?) – SCN Encourager

Just keep reminding yourself that you’re not me.

That’s it.

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 9.18.16 AMIt can’t get any simpler.

And this isn’t a lame “poor me” lament, either.

The facts (the “trends” as futurist David Zach would say) are what they are.


This afternoon is the annual Tulip Time KinderParade in Downtown Holland.

As one of the co-chairpersons of this event, it’s the grand culmination of an incredibly busy few weeks.

There are more than 5000 1st-5th graders in our area marching down main street in Dutch costumes in front of thousands of out-of-town visitors and proud parents. And there are also about 1500 middle school and high school band students on top of this.

PrestigeThis should be MY day of glory and prestige.

MY day to yield raw unbridled power, in other words.

I really don’t think city leaders would’ve given me this special “Cap of Top Importance” to wear unless this was supposed to be the case.

Am I right?

Now I know you’re probably green with envy.

Don’t be.

You wouldn’t believe the number of times I have to tell tourists that the 1929 date on my cap refers to the first Tulip Time, not when I was born.

Unfortunately, it remains true that with great power comes responsibility.

One of my duties (as the possessor of this cap) is to assist in monitoring the daily weather reports.

What laugh riot this is.

Weather 2016-05-11 at 9.09.57 AMEspecially when the weather outlets keep popping up with these kind of predictions (or “trends” as futurist David Zach would say).

So if I sound cranky…


But you must admit I have a good reason.

I only get ONE DAY to be a big man in town and I have to now live it as the one most likely to have an anxiety attack.

And I’m not exaggerating.

If the parade is called off this morning due to the weather, instead of our students having a 1/2 day of school, we transition into a full day of school… and then extend our early release “KinderParade” schedule into Friday.

As you can imagine, this kicks off a sequence of school communications that’s best described as ultra uber-challenging. (AKA real-time “messy”)

And trust me, our parents don’t give a hoot about any of the power accorded to my cap!

They could care less.

And neither could Cindy.

She agrees with the Mayor.

My “Cap of Top Importance” only needs to come out of my closet on one day every year.

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