Where No One Will Be a Rank Stranger to Me

Where No One Will Be a Rank Stranger to Me

Go to any reunion, or homecoming, or alumni weekend, and you’re bound to hear the following phrase, in some variant:

“This isn’t the place I remember!”

Well, of course it isn’t.

Time marches on.

Our experiences are formed not only by the place where we had our first kiss, or discovered that we weren’t the center of the universe, or found love, but also by the times we lived through, and the people we lived through them with.

Our experiences of place as an unchanging anchor in our lives is a trick of our minds; they are mere snapshots of our passage through time, not indelibly frozen for eternity.

A favorite song of mine, several decades old now, is the Rank Stranger, by the Stanley Brothers. It’s a song about homecoming: but bitterly finding home is no longer home, with family and friends having long moved on, while youth has given way to the cares and toils of life. It touches upon the truth of it – that place is only where your experiences happened; but dear friends, family, and loved ones make place truly what is longed for: home.

They knew not my name, and I knew not their faces. I found they were all rank strangers to me.

These are the thoughts I think of, when I pass through where I grew up. Connecting with old friends. Telling the old stories. Re-feeling the joys and the regrets.

It leaves me wanting. Not sad. Just recognizing – and acknowledging – that I am only passing through, while someone else’s experiences of home are being made afresh.

This knowledge, however, is not an onerous burden; it is a charge – a charge to be a good steward for the experiences created surrounding me.

To build a good home for my boys. To work on my marriage. To foster a great working environment for my employees and colleagues. To craft exceptional beauty and creativity in everything I do and say.

So that Everyone. AnyoneSomeone. Will one day look back, and say, “this is the place that I remember.”

Where no one will be a rank stranger to me.




I’m excited to (finally!) announce, that I am starting a new step along my professional journey as the new Executive Vice-President, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Information Officer at Drury University, in Springfield, MO.

I begin August 1.

In addition to being tasked with supporting the planning, strategy, and oversight of technology on campus, I will be responsible for the operation and stewardship of some 1.2 million square feet of facilities under roof, across Drury’s 50-acre campus in Springfield.

As much as I am excited to be arriving in Southwest Missouri (and just a few hours away from friends and colleagues in Central Arkansas), I am equally saddened to be leaving our life here in the Northeast.

Working in Brooklyn has truly been one of the most unique, transformative, and enriching experiences of my life to date. I highly recommend living and working in the City – at least once in your life – to everyone, given the chance to do so. “Broadening your horizons” doesn’t quite capture the gestalt.

Finally, to the members of the board, colleagues, mentors, families and friends of the Yeshivah of Flatbush: please accept my heartfelt appreciation for the opportunity to serve an exceptional school, to work with a staff committed to academic excellence, and to being challenged – mentally, intellectually and even physically – each and every minute I stepped onto campus. Thank you: שלום.




Surprised? You shouldn’t be.

Taking Aim

by Roger Pynn

Journalists, journalists-turned-public relations people and lifelong PR folks seemed aghast on social media yesterday when news broke that Florida Today announced plans to cease publication of the Central Florida Future, the newspaper targeting University of Central Florida students.

Serving the nation’s second-largest university with a population in excess of 61,000, many couldn’t get their arms around how this could happen.  After all, the Future started out as the on-campus, university-sponsored newspaper at my alma mater just two years short of half a century ago. The Central Florida news and PR community is heavily stacked with alumni from UCF’s Nicholson School of Communication … many of whom cut their journalistic teeth reporting and editing at the paper.

The Future became part of Florida Today in 2007 when its parent company Gannett purchased it after more than a decade of private ownership following a move off campus in…

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Lessons I Learned in the City

Lessons I Learned in the City

Yes, it’s big. 

No, the people are nice. 

Yes, I eat a lot of pizza. 

No, it’s not good. But it’s cheap. 

Yes, it’s crazy expensive to live here. 

No. I don’t take Uber everywhere. 

Yes, Metrocard is your best friend. 

No, I’m not afraid to ride the subway. 

Yes, New York is safer than other cities in which I’ve lived. 

No, the irony of paying to get onto Staten Island, rather than off, is not lost on me. 

Yes, Jersey is nicer than it appears on the Sopranos. 

No, I’m not ashamed I live in Jersey. 

Yes, there are a lot of people here. 

No, they aren’t all rich. Or homeless. 

Yes, I have been to a Yankees game. 

No, I am not a Yankees fan. 

Yes, I have walked across the Brooklyn Bridge – several times in fact. 

No, Times Square is not a must see. And stay away from the Fake Elmo. 

Yes, Central Park is a treasure. 

No, some people do like Prospect Park better (not many – but a lot more than you’d think).

Yes, the museums are awesome. 

No, I haven’t  visited them all (or often enough).

Yes, mass transit is one of the best – and worst – things about living and working in the City. 

No, I don’t enjoy “showtime.”

Yes, I did see a Broadway show. 

No, it wasn’t “Hamilton.”

Yes, the energy of the City is incredible. 

No, catching the train at 5:30 am, for an hour plus commute, is not, in fact, incredible. 

Yes, Grand Central Station is amazing. 

No, Penn Station is not

Yes, I do love walking below the Empire State Building each morning. 

No, that never gets old. 

Yes. I will miss it. 

The Early Bird Gets the Worm

The Early Bird Gets the Worm

Absolutely true in my experience. Another great post from Kim Stangle.

Taking Aim

by Kim Stangle

For years, my business partners and I have been participating in an annual cohort of agencies from non-competing markets to share best practices and learn from each other.  Sometimes value comes during the “formal” sessions and other times it’s just a nugget of wisdom passed on in a roundtable.

During last year’s session, the founder of a very successful Texas agency shared his ‘nugget of wisdom,’ which I’m paraphrasing as essentially, the early bird gets the worm.  He went on to tell the story of at least one client his firm had won because (among other reasons, I’m sure) they were first to respond to an inquiry for service.

We saw the same result unfold last December when we quickly answered an email inquiry through our website.  With little to no cost to “land” the business, we suddenly found ourselves in the middle of a new brand…

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Make It Work

Make It Work

For all my many (many) flaws, there is one strength I have, that has always been my saving grace, throughout my personal and professional life: the ability to “make it work” (I’m sorry, Tim Gunn, but it was a thing for me before it was a thing for you.)

By “make it work”, I mean, making do; work with what I got; go to war, with the army I have, not the army I want (or need).

Some of my closest (and longest) friends may not realize, that I am practically blind in my right eye. My depth perception is not exactly the world’s greatest – probably why I’m not the best date to see a 3D movie with, or to share your favorite ViewMaster slides. But that didn’t stop me from being a decent center fielder and catcher. Not the best necessarily, but pretty damn passable. Still can’t hit a curveball. So there’s that. But still.

And when I started my company a few decades back, I can’t tell you how many “stretch” projects I took on; projects where I sometime could barely pronounce the name of a tool I was to use, didn’t know the language, or had an impossibly tight deadline. But I found a way to make it happen. It’s how I learned C, Flash, and Photoshop. Scared s*#tless.

Making it happen. Making it work.

Today, I’m a redneck boy from Old Hickory, TN working in a yeshivah in Midwood, Brooklyn. Even Nostradamus couldn’t have called that one. I’ve learned things about myself, and my ability to work – and succeed – in any setting, among any group of people, that I wouldn’t have, if I hadn’t put myself in a position of risk, and uncertainty.

Even though there are days challenging beyond my ability to cope, even though my Hebrew is impossibly bad (but quickly and scarily improving), and even in an environment where words are spoken at 500 words per minute (and gusts of 700) – I’m finding a way to make it work; some days, even work great.

It’s not about settling. And it’s certainly not about treading water.

Making it work is about finding a pathway to success, when you don’t have all the pieces to the puzzle in front of you; finding a way to say yes, based upon faith in your own abilities and talents, rather than a sure and certain guaranteed outcome.

Today, I’m gonna make it work.

Tomorrow? Well. Tomorrow is Saturday.


The Golden Pause

The Golden Pause

Great thoughts on listening for comprehension, and thoughtful reflection.

Taking Aim

by Kim Stangle

One of the most valuable classes in my Mini-MBA program was titled “Unlocking your Leadership Potential.”  It was the final session of the 18-week program, so longtime Rollins professor Dr. Rick Bommelje had a lot to live up to.  And, boy did he deliver.

Instead of being a class about how to lead people—which is what I fully expected—it was a class centered around the art of listening.  Hopefully you can immediately connect the dots on how the two relate.

Two of my favorite nuggets of wisdom came from the explanation about listening for comprehension.  While listening comprehension is not a new concept, the art of listening only for comprehension is an incredibly difficult practice.  Many of us are guilty of listening only to answer, advise or critique.  But, if you only listen to fully understand what is being said, it changes the landscape completely.


The second…

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