Monday, December 31, 2007

My Biggest Lesson of 2007

My biggest lesson of 2007 was that you cannot change a pig headed / closed minded / self righteous person who always feels superior….so don’t even try. Instead, just smile and say nothing or nod as if you think they are smart (even though you think them to be an ignorant fool). It does nothing but raise your blood pressure to debate arrogant ignorance.

I had an incident this year that clearly pointed out to me that too many people run their life based on their inner emotional feelings and group-think. They view other by teams..Us vs. Them. It became clear that people like this do not want an honest open discussion where both sides walk away having learned something, but rather want to "school" everyone who disagrees with them. They do not want to hear a conflicting point of view, and dig in when they do. They see those who are not in line with them as just plain wrong. These folks run in packs, so you will always be out numbered.

This was a hard lesson to learn. My parents taught me that I will always have opinions, thoughts and ideas, but that I must remember that I will not be right 100% of the time (nobody is always right!)....and that talking with others is always a great way to learn and grow. Because of this I love debate. I really enjoy talking with people who are open minded and well educated on a topic. But with most people you do not end up with a healthy discussion, you instead get name calling, finger pointing, Utopian wishing, and emotional wheezing.

So I just shut up.

Finding people to talk about the issues of the day without them having to be right at all cost is rare. Yet no conversation with a self-righteous person will ever end well. I now just avoid such conversations, as these people do not respect me...and why would anyone want to engage in conversations with someone who is not respectful?

The funny thing is that these people never know (because they don't care to listen) that I am open to hearing their point of view. I long to see how they came to such conclusions, as it makes me look inside myself. I was sad when I discovered that so few others want to do the same. It took me to be 41-years-old to realize this (apparently I am slow).

I try to teach my kids that they will not always agree with others, but they should try to act respectfully and civil towards other people's political, religious and philosophical ideas. (Yes, there are exceptions: racism, hate speech and illegal issues should never be tolerated). Obviously not all parents teach this lesson to their kids. That is a shame.

Have A Great Day.


The Celebrate Passion Project - What I learned

A month ago I began The Celebrate Passion Project after being inspired by a chance meeting with a 26-year-old guy who was over flowing with excitement for his future. I remembered being 26 and feeling that same way. The world was wide open and full of opportunities. I admired this young man's passion, and it launched a month long dedication on this blog to honoring all who ooze with a lust for life.

So What Did I Learn?

My initial thoughts were how easy it would be to write posts for the blog in December. I had imagined stumbling upon people with amazing passion at every corner. My hope was that so man people would be excited about life that choosing what to write would be difficult. Instead I found few examples worthy of being highlighted.

I learned that passion, I mean real PASSION, is rare. Too many people are just going through the motions. Some lose their optimism and drive because of negative experiences, others just never started with any spark in their soul.

When we cross paths with those who truly have passion, it inspires us to accomplish more in our own lives. Therefore we should celebrate these individuals regularly. I discovered from this writing project that there is far too much "blah" in the world. I am newly dedicated to stamping out that "blah-ness" in my own life, and to inspire others to do the same thing.

From a standing ovation for a seminary student during a Catholic mass to a journalist who views her job as a calling larger than herself, The Celebrate Passion Project touched my heart. I want to live with joy and excitement as my companions. By looking for those with passion, I re-discovered it in myself.

I also learned that people express their joi de vivre in different ways. I was reminded by other bloggers that just because I do not see passion, that is evidence proof of its absence. We are all different and people express their joy and dedication in a variety of ways. Not all will wear their passion on their sleeve.

Finally, passion can change the world. My interview ("PEAS and Passion") with Connie Reece about her involvement in the Frozen Pea Fund and the raising of money via Twitter and other social media for breast cancer research was my favorite of all the posts. With passion you can move others to take action!

I hope everyone has enjoyed these special blog posts. I have.

Have A Great Day


Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Celebrate Passion Project - Guest Blogger, Anita Bruzzese - "A Goat is NOT a Ferrari"

In my search to celebrate the passion that people have for their work and lives I reached out to many bloggers to share their stories. Few took me up on the offer to be my guest blogger, as they were "too busy" (too busy for passion?) or they did not see my audience as large enough to match their level of celebrity. But those who have participated have helped make this project spectacular (see Connie Reece, Jon Ray, and Steve Harper).

Today I have a guest blog post from syndicated columnist Anita Bruzzese. I got to know her this year when we were introduced by blogger, author and career guru Jason Alba. I admire the passion she has for her career, and it comes through in her writing. A BIG TEXAS "thank you" to Anita for being today's guest blogger.

A Goat is NOT a Ferrari
by Anita Bruzzese

First, let me admit that I sent Thom an e-mail as soon as I read his entry about the “A-list” blogger who couldn’t be bothered to write for Thom’s “little blog.” I won’t get into specifics of my note to Thom other than to say that after I provided some personal commentary about the blogger, I offered to write about my passion if Thom was interested. Thom’s response was immediate: “yes, yes, yes.”

I’m a journalist, and telling a story is my passion.

For the last 20-plus years, I’ve been a journalist and probably will be writing a story when God calls me home to work for The Heavenly Times. I took my first journalism class at 17, not because it was a big interest, but because I needed to fill an English credit on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

I can still remember that first class like it was yesterday. I literally felt my heart pick up speed as the teacher began talking about how to construct a story and how to use reporting techniques to get the facts. I never looked back. I went to college and got my degree in journalism, and have been a working journalist ever since.

As a journalist, I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of amazing things. I’ve been on drug busts with the DEA, I have helped catch armed robbers while on a story (I have the police citation to prove it), I’ve covered and attended Presidential Inaugural events, I’ve attended and reported on numerous hearings on Capitol Hill (bor-ing), and I’ve written about fire and tornado victims stumbling through the remains of their homes. I’ve even seen a few murder victims, reporting on crime scenes for readers who think it’s like what they see on television (it’s not…it’s much worse).

But some of the stories I remember most include the mother and her four children living in a shack in the hills of Missouri with no running water or electricity or the couple who adopted 11 severely handicapped children and repeatedly mentioned how they were so “blessed.”

My passion is making sure stories are reported and told in the most honest way possible. I became a journalist in the post-Nixon years, when it became clear that this country needed journalists to continually seek the truth, no matter what the obstacles. Of course, things have changed since I entered the business. To be honest, some “media” types who now populate the airwaves and various publications with the single-minded objective of boosting their own popularity turn my stomach. I don’t count them as journalists, any more than a goat can be counted as a Ferrari.

I feel even more strongly about my profession when I remember that in the last year, 64 journalists have been killed, the highest level since 1994, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Many of these were killed in Iraq or Somalia, victims of war and local violence. But many were targeted and killed because they were journalists. In fact, murder is the leading cause of work-related deaths for journalists worldwide.

So, while it’s easy for some people to criticize the “media” and blame “them” for being the messenger of the world’s news, it’s also important to consider where we’d be without journalists, especially the ones who put their lives on the line every day.

While the job may seem glamorous for some of the more well-known television journalists, the truth is that most of us labor in high-stress, pressure-cooker environments, facing continual layoffs and low pay as well as a 24/7 demand that takes a terrible toll on our private lives.

But we do it because it’s more than a job – it’s a calling. For me – and thousands of other journalists – we remain passionately committed to telling stories. And despite all that we face, we know one universal truth: We’re so very lucky.

Have A Great Day

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Celebrate Passion Project - PEAS and Passion - Connie Reece

If you have been actively or passively involved with any variety of online social networking sites over the past few weeks you most likely have seen a cavalcade of frozen peas. Yes, that is right, FROZEN PEAS.

Blogger and media relations consultant Susan Reynolds was diagnosed with breast cancer (and used bags of frozen peas on her boobs to dull the pain from all the tests), and her online friends took up the cause to support her and raise money to fight this disease that has touched the lives of so many of us (side note, my mother died from breast cancer when I was a teenager). The Frozen Pea Fund is an amazing example of passion and how passion can circle the world.

Fellow Austinite and social networking maven Connie Reece became very passionate about her on-line friend Susan's battle with cancer and not only organized much of the PEA phenomenon, but updated people via Twitter throughout Susan's day of surgery and recovery.

This is a great example of how honest feelings of love and support, coupled with passion can have an impact. Below is an interview with Connie Reece about PEAs and Passion:

1. What is the Frozen Pea Project and how did you get involved?

The Frozen Pea Fund, a campaign to raise money for breast cancer research and programs, is one of those things that just happened, and it has grown organically. When I say it "just happened," I'm referring to the speed and spontaneity with which it was birthed. The frozen peas theme came from Susan Reynolds, a blogger and relationship media consultant, who used a pack of frozen peas instead of an ice pack following multiple stabs during a biopsy that diagnosed an invasive form of breast cancer.

The fund-raising project started with an off-the-cuff remark by Cathleen Rittereiser on Twitter, which turned into a Facebook discussion thread among a handful of online friends. I called on a contact at American Cancer Society here in Austin, David Neff, for help in creating the link to Making Strides. Then I registered the domain name, enlisted Michelle Wolverton's help in creating the blog and asked Ryan Karpeles to design a logo -- and all this was done in less than a week. I call this "community-driven fundraising," and in addition to the FPF blog, we now have a wiki where people who want to help determine the future of the Fund can participate. ( http://frozenpeafund.pbwiki/com)

2. Do you know Susan Reynolds personally or just through her blog and twitter?

I got to know Susan on Twitter and became a fan of her blog, Case-Studies from the Artsy Asylum (, and then wound up buying an island adjacent to hers in Second Life, where Susan has created a virtual co-working space. While I haven't met her in person, we have spoken on the phone a number of times and were about to collaborate on a work project when cancer intervened. I'm happy to report that Susan is recovering from surgery and we're hoping to get that work project back on track.

3. How many people got involved in this and how far was the reach of this movement?

I wish I knew the answer to that question! People in South Africa and the UK were helping to create peavatars (avatars that feature peas) for people to use on Frozen Pea Friday. We heard from a number of people in Australia who were participating. One online friend in the Philippines reported that she was able to make a donation from outside the U.S.

Marcel Lebrun of Radian6 volunteered to help with social media monitoring. So far they've helped us identify over 200 blogs or podcasts that have covered the story. I created a page titled Who's Talking About Peas ( that will link to all of the sites as I'm able to update it.

A couple of Twitter friends reached out to Duncan Riley, who wrote a great post on TechCrunch for our launch. That post was picked up by the BBC and ran on the front page of their Technology section that day. Even earlier, noted tech blogger Robert Scoble had written about Susan and peavatars in relation to Davos and the world economic forum, as did Web pioneer Dave Winer.

4. How much money has been raised so far.

Due to the holidays we haven't been able to get a current update, but I can tell you that during the first 15 hours after its launch the Frozen Pea Fund generated 118 contributions from people on 3 continents totaling $3,500. The money goes directly to Making Strides, the breast cancer campaign of the American Cancer Society. I can hardly wait until Monday to get a new report.

5. What have you learned about the power and speed of viral campaigns through this experience?

The main lesson -- which I knew going into this but really had to put into practice -- is that you cannot create a viral campaign. You do the best job you can to make it easy for people to spread your campaign virally, but it's out of your control. Just put it out there, stand back, and let it happen. The speed and reach are amazing. And all of this was done with no advertising, no press release -- not even a budget or a business plan. Now, a week after the fact, we're slowing down to ask questions like, should we incorporate? trademark? How do we go forward?

6. Can this type of on-line passion effect the off-line world?

Absolutely. What I'm seeing in social media these days is a blending of on- and off-line communication. People who connect online are scheduling face-to-face meet-ups -- or tweet-ups as we call them on Twitter. And people who meet at conferences or coffee shops are forming communities online. Just this morning a Twitter/Facebook connection suggested that we create Frozen Pea Fund T-shirts and recruit people to wear them while walking for breast cancer - a nice mashup of an online idea crossing over to the physical world.

7. Where do you see passion in the world?

I see more people following their passions into the work world, or looking for ways to incorporate their passions into their careers. Technology enables this, giving us more freedom to work from home or third places, and giving us the tools to be productive while working remotely. Technology also makes it easier to find people online who share your passion and create a community around it.

8. Your final thoughts on the passion of PEAS

My hope is that the Frozen Pea Fund becomes a model for community-driven fund-raising and an example of how to creatively unite a diverse, disparate group of people around a common goal.

Back in the early 1980s I was working in direct mail marketing and fund-raising. I remember the first appeal letter I wrote that raised over a million dollars; it was the first time that particular organization had used a personalized greeting and envelope. That was state-of-the-art technology at the time. That's one of the things that get me so excited about social networking and conversational media. We now have these powerful tools and technologies, with extremely low entry costs, that make it affordable for nonprofits as well as small businesses to communicate in a new way.

But -- and this is a big but -- it's always the people, not the technology, who will determine the success of a social media campaign or a fund-raising effort like the Frozen Pea Fund. That's where the passion comes in -- people have passion. Give the people with passion a voice, and watch something magical happen.

Have A Great Day

To make a donation to The Frozen Pea Fund, CLICK HERE. Give! I did.

****The Celebrate Passion Project on "The Some Assembly Required Blog" will run all month in December 2007. Every post this month will touch on honoring people who have a special spark for life or helping others (and me!) to discover ways to re-ignite our internal passions for our world.

I challenge other bloggers who read this to dedicate one day in December on their blog to "The Celebrate Passion Project", and in their own way praise those they encounter who have a special way of expressing the excitement in their soul. And then encourage your readers to do the same!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Celebrate Passion Project - Presidential Politics

One would think I could find passion in politics. I used to love watching the hoopla of the presidential campaigns every four years in the United States. Regardless of political affiliation, I longed to see the candidates pontificate about their views, debate, and woo the American people.

To run for political office one needs some level of passion. I like to assume that all the candidates (those on the left and those on the right) have good motives and feel compelled to impact the world. I do not think any of them are "bad" people.

However my desire to experience the 2008 campaign season has come up flat. There is not one candidate whom I see with the level of passion I want in my leader. All of the front runners appear to me as manufactured face plates that are playing like a cover band for the special interests of the constituencies they are courting. A cover band can punch out some good music, but we all long to see something unique. We want to be wowed.

The presidential hopefuls are all dabbling with the Web 2.0 / Social Online Media tools....but it comes off stale. I do not believe that the candidates are texting their own twitter messages (most likely this is done by younger cooler staff members who actually know that Twitter exists!) or are writing their own blogs. They are certainly not putting things on YouTube that are not thought through and over produced. The toe in the water attempts into these mediums are as sculpted as everything else they do on a daily basis. In the world of "new" marketing (is it really new?) the term "transparency" reigns. I do not believe for a minute that we are seeing the "transparency" from these politicians in the same manner that it is demanded of others on the web.

Those who are leading in the 2008 race are all so guarded that we can never see their inner spark. It reminds me of Bob Dole (1996) and Al Gore (2000), who allowed their personalities to emerge after their losses. When they appeared on late night TV afterwards they were warm, funny and real. Why were they not like while running for office?

Where I do find passion in this race it is from the American people. But it is not passion FOR a particular candidate, it is passion AGAINST the other side. The two political parties are both equally engrossed in being nasty toward each other. There is so much hate in politics on both sides that it has sapped my enjoyment of the whole process. I want to be FOR someone, not just against someone else. Hate for the opponent is never as powerful as passion for your own cause. Everyone I talk with has opinions, but few are inspired by any candidate. Instead they so badly do not want one candidate that they will settle for anyone else.

I would love to see a candidate for President of the United States who can inspire the people of this country to excel. A man or woman who is so passionate about serving all Americans that people can overlook some of the single issues that so effectively divide our republic. I long to see Democrats and Republicans agree that they will disagree on certain topics, but to stop making those on the other side of the isle out to be the anti-Christ. We are fortunate in this country, and we need to remember that to whom much is given, much is required. Hate should not run our politics.

But for now, we have political machines that are working hard to develop talking points and crafting sound-bites that can be fed to the media and debated by well groomed talking heads on cable TV. Consultants make huge money to take polls and tell the candidates what to say to get votes. Campaign staffers look for ways to keep people from voting, because they know that if 100% of Americans voted it would change everything (and they don't want that). That is not passion, that is positioning. I want to see passion.

Have A Great Day.


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Celebrate Passion Project - Guest Blogger - Jon Ray

Last week I interviewed Jon Ray for The Celebrate Passion Project, today he is the Guest Blogger. I like what he has to say about needing passion to bring success to your social media efforts. You can read more of Jon's insights at

Good Social Media Takes Passion
By Jon Ray

Have you ever wondered why some social media campaigns take off instantly and others just wallow around the internet, wondering where they’re supposed to find the action? It amazes me the approach that many companies take to their online and social media campaigns. Social media is about having something to say. Give a typical CEO a blog and the majority will be too busy or too guarded to add content of any real importance. But, delegate that blog to the dreamer down in HR and you might just have an asset that will get people excited about everything your company is doing.

Social media is a fickle beast, as I describe in my post on creating a successful social media campaign. The right approach for one company might be a terrible approach for another. The tools of social media are constantly changing and evolving because in the end, social media is really whatever you want it to be. The more imagination you have with the possible applications for the tools available, the more engaging you will find your social media campaign becomes.

So, what does any of this have to do with passion? EVERYTHING! Passion is contagious. Have you ever gone to a conference where everyone seemed to be talking about the same person? That person they’re talking about is filled with passion (or he fell asleep on stage during the keynote panel). People love passion and that’s what makes a good blog great. Anyone can write a few paragraphs a day about the industry they’re in, but only a passionate person can make someone genuinely interested in those things.

Where does passion come from? It can come from anywhere and you’ll usually find it in the strangest of places. If you’re looking to start a social media campaign at your company, start talking to your employees and figure out the people who are your company’s number one evangelists. Is it an employee, a vendor, a consumer? Who is it?

Now that you have a list of people that love your company, who are the ones that have a little bit of tech sense, or even better Web 2.0 sense? When your list is narrowed, have a social media consultant come in and advise one or all of the people on this list in best practices for utilizing social media tools. When everyone is ready and agreed on a general premise for the campaign, let your new team of online evangelists get out there and raise some awareness. Woohoo!

People that are passionate about what they do don’t have a problem coming up with content for a blog. They don’t need a committee to decide what kind of blog post will gain the most viewership. All they know is that they are in love with their job, or their company, or their industry and they want everyone to know it. SEO doesn’t concern these passionate bloggers, they don’t write for search engines, they write for people. And because they are writing for people, they use their imagination to tailor your social media campaign to better serve the reader, which, of course, is your customer.

Not everyone is cut out to run or manage a social media campaign, but by doing a little digging you will find that somebody at your company is and has been waiting to share their voice with the world. Passion is what fuels the entrepreneurial spirit. Many companies have lost sight of that while building a loyal army of drones. But, drones write terrible prose. So, let your company wiggle a bit and find the entrepreneurial passion in your company.

There is someone, right now, inside the walls of your company that has something that your customers want and need to hear. Show the world that your company has a big smiling face and thrives on enthusiasm. Show them that the fuel that propels your company’s success is passion. Show them those things and your social media campaign will have success beyond your wildest dreams.

If all else fails, buy a Super Bowl ad and cross your fingers.

: )

Have A Great Day.

****The Celebrate Passion Project on "The Some Assembly Required Blog" will run all month in December 2007. Every post this month will touch on honoring people who have a special spark for life or helping others (and me!) to discover ways to re-ignite our internal passions for our world.

I challenge other bloggers who read this to dedicate one day in December on their blog to "The Celebrate Passion Project", and in their own way praise those they encounter who have a special way of expressing the excitement in their soul. And then encourage your readers to do the same!

Only SIX days left in December...I am still looking for great examples of passion for life. Any help is appreciated.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Celebrate Passion Project - Families At The Holidays

Nothing seems to stir more passion in the people I talk with lately than their feelings about having to spend time with their family or their in-laws during this holiday season.

Many conversations in the last week involve intense emotions about folks upcoming travel plans to get somewhere for Christmas, or the pending invasion of their home by out of town guests. Even those who do not need to cross vast distances, since family members live nearby, are super charged (positively or negatively) about their obligations.

One guy passionately told me about how they have to drive 400 miles before Christmas to visit his in-laws, then will return to Austin for Christmas Eve so that his son can be at home for Santa's arrival, only to drive 300 miles again on the 26th to see his parents and siblings. He is passionately frustrated by this plan, but the family members on both sides are passionate about giving them guilt for not making these long treks. He really wants to stay at home and enjoy a few days off from work with his wife and son, but instead this annual ritual has him hating everything about the season.

Another friend shared how excited he was about flying to Michigan to spend five days with his wife's family. Apparently she is the youngest of five children and every year they all gather at her parents home for four nights of celebration of Christmas. He beams when he talks about how much he enjoys these trips and longs for his two children to experience the time with their cousins. Apparently his in-laws have fourteen grandchildren ranging from age 26 to 6 and this makes 28 people for Christmas dinner. He says this time with his wife's family is the highlight of the year. The love and respect that these people have for each other annually amazes him and he is excited about the season. He is thrilled that his kids get to experience such a positive experience.

One woman told me how no matter what she does at Christmas, she cannot please her family. Regardless of what she cooks to bring to her family gathering, her mother or older sister will find fault with her efforts. Her clothes, weight and lack of a husband will be the table topics. She passionately despises the way she is treated and is dreading the next few days. All she wants for Christmas is the people in her life to celebrate the positive and love one another, but at 44 years old she knows it will not change.

How about your family plans for this holiday season? Is there someone in your clan that gets you all riled up and makes you go nuts? Is seeing your family exciting? Seems everyone has an opinion one way or the other.

Sorry, I don't have a solution for dealing with family obligations for Christmas. Just make sure you are not the one in your family who is being critical of others, finding fault or making situations difficult / uncomfortable. If you are not the person in your family that is causing the problems, that is all you can do. Instead, be the person who celebrates the passion for those around you. Identify what makes your family members spectacular as an individual and only focus on those qualities...regardless of how they behave.

I would welcome your stories and comments on what makes you passionate about seeing family over the holidays.

Have A Great Day.


****The Celebrate Passion Project on "The Some Assembly Required Blog" will run all month in December 2007. Every post this month will touch on honoring people who have a special spark for life or helping others (and me!) to discover ways to re-ignite our internal passions for our world.

I challenge other bloggers who read this to dedicate one day in December on their blog to "The Celebrate Passion Project", and in their own way praise those they encounter who have a special way of expressing the excitement in their soul. And then encourage your readers to do the same!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Celebrate Passion Project - Who Is Jon Ray?

Who is Jon Ray of

He is 23. An actor. The producer of music videos. Cutting edge marketing consultant. Generational media guru. Web 2.0 sculptor. Blogger. Student of humanity. And so much more. Jon is a guy full of passion for life.

I originally discovered Jon when he started following me on Twitter. I found his twitter mini-posts and his blog to be entertaining and educational on topics marketing, branding, image and capitalization of all areas of new media. Today I spent ninety minutes with him at the Starbucks at 5th and Lamar, simply because I could. You see, Jon lives and works in Austin, Texas. I figured I would invite him to coffee and find out the answer to "Who is Jon Ray?"

I know from following his variety of online social media adventures that this man does not sleep much. I was surprised that someone who burns the midnight oil would so readily accept an invitation for 8 AM coffee....but he was there, and awake even before his latte kicked in.

Jon's entrepreneurial instincts ingited early, as he was working as the sales manager of a health club while most of his peers were still trying to get a drivers licence. He launched his music video production company at 20 years old with his younger brother, whom he describes as "the best natural cinematographer ever born in Texas."

He admits that he has been both tactical and lucky in having achieved so many different things at his young age, including serving as a New Media Consultant to one of the country's largest advertising agencies. I was not surprised that he has had so many people mentor and assist him in his efforts, as he is instantly likable, engaging, and loud (I am sure all of Starbucks now knows more about marketing via social networking than they did yesterday!).

I have been looking for people like Jon Ray all month for this Celebrate Passion Project. It is exciting and contagious to encounter raw excitement and the ability to execute on dreams. I asked Jon four questions that I will share below:

1. What excites you? - Having ideas and having the opportunity to test those ideas. The reason many people find corporate jobs monotonous is you don't get the freedom to explore.

A paradigm shift is happening with companies that take risks and look at the long term in regards to brand loyalty and marketing. People do not always realize how easy and inexpensive it is to position yourself as an expert and demonstrate your value.

I get excited by clients who accept crazy ideas and let me run with them. Not all of the ideas will work, but many do and I love to see those results.

2. Why do connections with other people matter? - The old saying "its not what you know, its who you know" still matters. You never know who could be the person who is plugged into the opportunity you need. Pre-judging people for being young or showing up in jeans is a bad idea, as in today's environment anyone could positively effect your future.

Every business should treat every person as if they are the most influential customer or referral source on the planet. Every contact is important and the more people whom speak highly of you and your business the higher your chances of success.

3. You are 23 year old today. Who is Jon Ray at 41? - I hope to be drinking a cocktail on a private island while the Google guys fly in for a consultation. Hopefully I am not the Britney Spears of the social media world!

That is 18 years from now, and everything will be so different both for me and with the internet. 18 years ago I was running around drinking Cool-Aid and eating Ruffles. It is hard to predict the future, but I hope that I am constantly trying to learn about the media and marketing world and seen as a person who pioneered new forms of communications and promoted clients' brands.

4. Where do you see passion in the world? - Young people! I know I am young, but I mean those even younger. I am only five years out of high school, but I work with some web designers who are seventeen. Talking to today's kids you can quickly identify the trends of the future.

Young people do not have the "filters" that keep them from saying what is on their mind. They just say what they feel.

I am inspired by people who really love what they do. It amazes me how many people do not enjoy their lives and their jobs. Instead they just play it safe. People who try new things are what inspire me to do more. Positive energy is contagious. The more people you can get working together who are passionate about the cause, the bigger dent you can make in any problem.

I really enjoyed talking with Jon and look forward to continuing to get to know him better. I asked him to write a guest blog for Celebrate Passion Project, so check back in the next ten days to read his own inspiring take on the topic of passion. He was funny in accepting the invite to guest blog, claiming he had read my online appeal to bloggers to write for me. He said that "I wanted to wait for our meeting first and make sure you weren't a dick".

That made me laugh. It is a clear generational difference,..... while I would have thought the same thing, I would never had said the words. I guess I passed the test!

Have A Great Day.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Celebrate Passion Project - Entrepreneurs

My friend Aruni at the entrepreMusings Blog has reminded me that entrepreneurs have passion. She sent me an email with some good suggestions of people who have that internal fire for their work, as she could tell from my posts that I was disappointed not to see as much real excitement in the world as I had hoped for when I began this Celebrate Passion Project.

Her words are still ringing loudly in my ears days later:

"It is hard to find those people with true passion but keep in mind that passion manifests itself in many different ways. quiet passion. loud passion. still passion. smart passion. boisterous passion, etc.."

Aruni is correct. Passion is not necessarily something that has to smack us in the face. Many are engaged in work that inspires them at the core, but they do not necessarily advertise their feelings.

She also shared a post on her blog a couple of days ago about her own journey as an entrepreneur. She founded a company years ago during the "Tech Boom", and after that experience had removed herself from that crazy nutty start-up world. Yet entrepreneurs who have that inner drive cannot escape the calling. Now seven years later she is back with a new passion for a new business, Babble Soft.

I know Aruni has passion for this new company, and she has focused my attention on the fact that entrepreneurs in general have that spark to create and build that I have been seeking in this project. I appreciate her emails and blog post, as they reminded me that I am surrounded by people with passion. She also reminded me that it can wear many hats.

Here is to entrepreneurs everywhere. I celebrate you!

Have A Great Day.


Monday, December 17, 2007

The Celebrate Passion Project - Guest Blogger, Steve Harper

I have reached out to several other bloggers and asked them to share their passion. Interestingly so far only Steve Harper has taken the time to write a guest blog post. Others have told me they are too busy and one "A-List Blogger" told me that my "little blog" did not get enough traffic to warrant his effort to write for me, ... that by doing so would benefit me more than him (that spoke volumes about HIM! Oh well, you live and learn about people everyday). There are still 14 days left in December...I welcome your guest posts about what fires you up!

Thank you to Steve for the below Guest Blog Post, as by sharing his passion he impacts the world!

A Passion For Helping Kids
by Steve Harper

First I would like to thank you Thom for inviting me to be your guest Blogger and contributor to your Passion Project series. I think this is a great way to expose your readers to people who are really out there following their dreams and making it happen. I am honored you think so much of my work that you invited me to share my passion with your readers.

I am passionate about helping kids understand that nothing is out of reach if you believe in yourself and just try. I guess you could say that my passion was first discovered way back in high school when my marketing education teacher, a man by the name of Jay Stephenson, took me under his wing and showed me the world of possibilities by being an entrepreneur. Mr. Stephenson showed me that despite whatever negative thoughts I may have been feeling about myself at the time (and trust me in high school there were a lot), I could achieve anything I dreamed of if I had the courage to believe in myself, put in the hard work and go for it.

Mr. Stephenson helped me break out of my shell and discover that I had a good head on my shoulders and a creative mind when it came to business. He helped me express my ideas into foundational concepts and he helped plant, nurture and cultivate my entrepreneurial passion. His invaluable lessons to this day continue to drive and motivate almost everything I do.

In the years since high school I have been fortunate enough to work with kids in various arenas whether it be through Junior Achievement, The Alternative School Programs, National Junior Tennis League and of course another huge passion of mine…coaching soccer. I have seen kids who didn’t believe in themselves and thought they had nothing to show the world surprise themselves and those around them. I have been on the other side of the table, the place where Mr. Stephenson once sat across from me, and I have seen the ember s of change begin to warm, catch fire and eventually burn in the eyes of so many young people. I have to tell you that there is nothing more rewarding in the world than to know you have started a young person down a path to success simply by believing in them.

So if your readers could do just one thing in 2008 I would ask them to find an opportunity to make a difference in a young person’s life. There are so many kids out there that are growing up without believing in themselves and they just need someone to believe in them…so they can learn to believe in themselves. Amazing things can happen to our schools, to our communities, towns and to this country if we all just do our part to help a young person realize their true potential.

That’s my passion…hope it becomes a little of yours as well.

Ripple On!!!

Have A Great Day.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Celebrate Passion Project - Post-Dreaming Reality or The Recapture of Youthful Desires?

One of my favorite bloggers is Hugh MacLeod at The GapingVoid Blog. I like his cartoons, and I admire the way he approaches his life. He has the passion of an artist, and that alone makes him worthy of celebrating.

I actually hope to meet him in 2008 if he comes back to South By Southwest in Austin this March. The guy just seems genuine. Cool. Real. Someone I would enjoy listening to over a beer.

But he has a post today with the below cartoon that flies in the face of my current quest. I am not saying he is wrong in how he feels (hell, maybe I am wrong....I have been wrong before!), I am just stating that when I read the post I was pained by how opposite the message is to my desire to re-ignite the passion and desire for life's harvest.

He wrote:
I was thinking today about how, after a decade or two working for a living, one reaches what I call the "Post-Dreaming Reality".

Every kid wants to be a rock star one day, in whatever industry she chooses to call her own.
One day I'll be a filmmaker!

One day I'll be a famous artist! One day I'll be a CEO! One day I'll be a Creative Director! One day I'll be a Venture Capitalist! And so forth.

Then you get to a certain age and you realize that the time for "One Day" is over. You're either doing it, or you're not. And if you're not, a feeling of bitter disappointment starts hitting you deep into the marrow. Which explains why we all know so many people in their 30s and 40s having mid-life crisis'.

The other day, someone fifteen years younger than me asked me what I wanted to be "One Day".

I answered, "Doing exactly what I'm doing now, just with more money. And if the money doesn't come, well, that's a shame, but it's not the end of the world, either."

No more dreaming of "One Day". I am here and now. This is it. I can highly recommend it. But I had to kill a lot of dreams, a lot of beautiful dreams, in order to get there.

My personal quest is just the opposite. I miss the lust for life that I had twenty years ago. I crave the joy that comes from the dreams and goals of a wide-eyed post adolescent who believes the world is an oyster full of pearls. When I just knew in my heart that I could have it all.

Sure, life disappoints. Paying the mortgage, raising kids, career pressures, etc... all jade us to some degree. But do they have to dull our soul? Why can't I live with the reality and keep my dreams alive?

Why does one have to accept "reality" if that reality is not all it could be? The greatest part of being human is that we can change the course of our lives and create a new script for our future.

Now, MacLeod is not me. I believe he is content with where he is, and I am not faulting his peace in being in the present. I admire it. I think that we all long for that acceptance of self. I am just not there. I cannot make peace with my today. I want more from life....I want to feel that way I did in college when everyday was a party.

Don't misunderstand, I am happy with what I have achieved. I have a loving family, a job with a truly entrepreneurial company that makes me want to contribute to the success of the whole, two books that continue to sell (with two more coming out in 2008), and a career as a professional speaker. It is a good life. And I am grateful to God and content with all the blessings that surround me today.

But I have a tugging inside of me that pushes me to keep going and dreaming. I do not think I have reached the place in my life where I can rest. I have upwards of 50 more years to live (I am not yet half way done if you use my father, who is 93, as a gauge), and I want those eighteen thousand (plus) days to be filled with passion for life and discovery. For that I need to dream of what I will be "one day".

Have A Great Day.


****The Celebrate Passion Project on "The Some Assembly Required Blog" will run all month in December 2007. Every post this month will touch on honoring people who have a special spark for life or helping others (and me!) to discover ways to re-ignite our internal passions for our world.

I challenge other bloggers who read this to dedicate one day in December on their blog to "The Celebrate Passion Project", and in their own way praise those they encounter who have a special way of expressing the excitement in their soul. And then encourage your readers to do the same!

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Celebrate Passion Project - Leadership Austin

I have participated in many business, educational and networking groups over the past eighteen years. Some are just what you would expect, and most provide good opportunities to meet others, learn from the speakers, and grow as a professional. I have always actively participated in these groups, even talking leadership positions in a variety of organizations.

If you have read my books, or this blog, you know that I am an enthusiastic advocate of the benefits of being actively involved in your business community. Opportunities come from people, and therefore you must create and maintain at network of contacts that can and will become part of your inner circle. The trick is to find the right people who are capable of making a difference.

But the truth is that most people you meet are not as passionate about cultivating a real relationship with you, and do not actively desire to invest the necessary time to become your real friend. Many you meet are just there to see what you can give to them, and they hope you will open your rolodex and supply THEM with leads, not vice versa.

The good news is that there are also AMAZING people out there whom can come into your life and inspire you to new levels. You just have to keep looking for them and get involved in unique business and professional organizations.

I am currently part of a phenomenal group of local business leaders in Austin. The Leadership Austin program has been an important part of the community since 1979. Each year for three decades this organization has created a class of 55 individuals from a variety of backgrounds. Monthly for nine months the class meets for day long classes where community leaders (from business, government, healthcare, social services, etc...) come in and share information about the past, present and future of our community. We also have the opportunity to spend time together socially and get to know each other.

I was amazed at first that I only knew six of the fifty-four other members of the class, as I had assumed I was well connected in my city. As it turns out, there are many silos of interest where we live and work. When one becomes known in their "world", they assume their silos are everything. The truth is that our own area is not the whole. To understand this we must get outside of our routine and become exposed to people of different backgrounds and interests.

Now, three months into the program, I am even more amazed that clearly many of these recent "strangers" are quickly becoming my friends. They are all passionate people who desire to make a difference. We met earlier this week, and since I am currently focused on viewing the examples of passion in people, it was evident that my fellow classmates are all amongst the most enthusiastic and visionary people I have ever met. This post would be too long if I described them individually, but rest assured that the future of our community is in good hands.

Most larger communities have programs like Leadership Austin. They are not easy to get into (I applied and was rejected three times over the past few years) because of the large number of applicants and limited annual class size. However, if you wish to find real passionate people who are making things happen in their businesses and communities, then this is a great place to start. I am proud to be an active member of the 2008 Essential Class (The best class ever!). These people have amazing passion for life.

Have A Great Day.


****The Celebrate Passion Project on "The Some Assembly Required Blog" will run all month in December 2007. Every post this month will touch on honoring people who have a special spark for life or helping others (and me!) to discover ways to re-ignite our internal passions for our world.

I challenge other bloggers who read this to dedicate one day in December on their blog to "The Celebrate Passion Project", and in their own way praise those they encounter who have a special way of expressing the excitement in their soul. And then encourage your readers to do the same!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Celebrate Passion Project - The Kid At The Bowling Alley

I took my daughters bowling on Saturday afternoon. We had a great time, and I always love having the chance to spend time with them doing something fun.

We all got a kick out of watching the little boy in the next lane. His name was JJ and he was four-years-old. He got so excited every time he bowled. It did not matter to him if he got a strike or a spare, just hitting one pin made him so dang happy. He would leap in the air and run back to hug his mom and dad.

The score meant nothing to him, as just rolling the ball sent him into a state of pure joy. It was great.

Attaining this state of passion that is naturally exciting is what I have been talking in the last few posts and the whole point of the "Celebrate Passion Project". It is what you see in a four year old kid who is just engulfed in fun. That is what I think we all long to feel.

Why is this so rare in grown-ups?

Have A Great Day.


****The Celebrate Passion Project on "The Some Assembly Required Blog" will run all month in December 2007. Every post this month will touch on honoring people who have a special spark for life or helping others (and me!) to discover ways to re-ignite our internal passions for our world.

I challenge other bloggers who read this to dedicate one day in December on their blog to "The Celebrate Passion Project", and in their own way praise those they encounter who have a special way of expressing the excitement in their soul. And then encourage your readers to do the same!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Celebrate Passion Project - Audio

This is my first post using I really like it. Click on the audio file below and listen. I hope you are inspired to help me find people who have real passion. This project is harder than I had most people I encounter just seem so blahhhhhhhh.

Mobile post sent by tsinger using Utterz Replies.  mp3

Have A Great Day.


Monday, December 10, 2007

Celebrate Passion Project - Evil Knievel

I learned on the news over the weekend that 1970's icon and motorcycle dare-devil Evil Knievel passed away on Friday at the age of 69. His funeral is today in Montana.

Any boy, and many girls, who grew up in the United States who is over the age of forty remembers this guy. Who can forget the image of this caped man on his bike jumping cars, buses and Snake River Canyon.

He was not Superman, as he sometimes crashed and even spent time in a coma following an accident. But this is why everyone turned out to watch. You are not a real life dare-devil if you are not taking risks!

Evil Knievel had passion. This is what created the hype for his jumps long before it became trendy to create hype (today's world of celebrity is all about hype).

I had an Evil Knievel action figure as a kid. It rode a fast speed toy motorcycle that would go over the plastic jumps high over my collection of Hot Wheels. More often it crashed into furniture or the dog. Yet it was the real man's love of jumping his motorcycle over large objects that captivated people.

Have A Great Day.


****The Celebrate Passion Project on "The Some Assembly Required Blog" will run all month in December 2007. Every post this month will touch on honoring people who have a special spark for life or helping others (and me!) to discover ways to re-ignite our internal passions for our world.

I challenge other bloggers who read this to dedicate one day in December on their blog to "The Celebrate Passion Project", and in their own way praise those they encounter who have a special way of expressing the excitement in their soul. And then encourage your readers to do the same!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

A Book Makes A Great Holiday Gift

Are you in need of a great gift idea for a friend, co-worker or family member?

Give them a book.


Both are available at



Saturday, December 08, 2007

Celebrate Passion Project - Rene Godfroy

I recently had the chance to see author/speaker Rene Godefroy and was moved by the passion that the man brought to the stage. He was born into poverty in Haiti and found his way to the United States as a young man. He worked a variety of jobs while learning to speak English and discovering his internal calling that has lead him to become a professional speaker.

His message is one of self-reliance, avoiding excuses and going the extra mile. His success has come from his own hard work and he is clearly thankful for the opportunities that he has found in the United States of America.

After hearing him speak, I also had the chance to talk with him later that evening in a social setting. He is the real deal, the same man of integrity and passion that he was on the stage. I was moved by his story and his work ethic as a professional speaker.

I write about him here, as every post on the blog in December is about celebrating people of success and passion. Rene Godefroy deserves that recognition.

Have A Great Day.


****The Celebrate Passion Project on "The Some Assembly Required Blog" will run all month in December 2007. Every post this month will touch on honoring people who have a special spark for life or helping others (and me!) to discover ways to re-ignite our internal passions for our world.

I challenge other bloggers who read this to dedicate one day in December on their blog to "The Celebrate Passion Project", and in their own way praise those they encounter who have a special way of expressing the excitement in their soul. And then encourage your readers to do the same!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Passion In Reality TV

I have asked people to send me examples of where passion, talent, and that "inner-spark" shines through. Mark sent me this clip from a reality show out of the UK, and it is amazing to watch.

"Brittan's Got Talent" (You know, the original version of "America's Got Talent") is not just a title, it is a statement. Here is what we all wish for when watching a TV talent show, but so rarely get to see.

Enjoy the clip (video seems a good way to show passion! This guy has it).

Have A Great Day


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Find Those Feelings Of Delight In The World

The post from Friday about igniting your passion for life got nice attention over the weekend. I received a couple of emails from people who really related to my story of wanting to feel the high level of emotions, and that lust for life, that was present with youth. (And "hello" to Joe from Colorado, thanks for you great note!)

Apparently there are many who just feel dulled by the realities of living.

I continue to think about passion, emotions, excitement and joy for every little thing we encounter daily. It is not just about having the big goals, but instead we want to feel our own powerful emotions.

The spark in your soul that makes your heart beat faster is easy to misplace. Yet, as long as we draw breath, it is still there. Different people have unique ways of knowing their passion for their world, but when we lose our way it can seem a million miles distant.

Based on my recent conversations I know that people want to recapture joi de vive. I have found that I regained some excitement for life by simply wanting to feel. It is interesting that my new job has gotten me fired up about my career again. It has been a few years since I have worked in an entrepreneurial environment and this change is a good thing. I am excited about the future, and about making a contribution. However, change alone is not enough to make people really connect with their internal passion for the world around them.

In December I am going to celebrate and highlight people whom I encounter who have real passion for their lives. I will both write observations and interviews on this blog that will hopefully expose the power that I think exists when someone is really in sync with doing what they love.

I welcome suggestions of people to write about, or other tid-bits of information that can help people re-discover the spark. We all have it. We are born with it. Have you ever seen a baby that did not have that internal sparkle? It is not like you were born and the doctor said, "Nope, not this one, she has not passion". We all start out with curiosity, excitement and the need for self-expression. Dr. Barbara DeAngelis calls it being "juicy". I am not sure this is a medical term, but I get her point.

Enjoy the December focus on the blog.

Have A Great Day.


****The Celebrate Passion Project on "The Some Assembly Required Blog" will run all month in December 2007. Every post this month will touch on honoring people who have a special spark for life or helping others (and me!) to discover ways to re-ignite our internal passions for our world.

I challenge other bloggers who read this to dedicate one day in December on their blog to "The Celebrate Passion Project", and in their own way praise those they encounter who have a special way of expressing the excitement in their soul. And then encourage your readers to do the same!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

What Tech Bubble?

I know I have dedicated the month of December to celebrating the passion that drives people to succeed beyond their wildest dreams...., but this video is too dang funny for those who work in and around the tech industry. Robert Scoble claims to have spit Diet Coke out his nose he laughed so hard.

Yet this does fit with the theme of the month, because entrepreneurs (tech or otherwise) have to have passion or they could not survive the up and downs of their industry. Plus, the creator of this video has to have that creative spark, or it would not be so good.

Watch and laugh!

Have A Great Day.


Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Celebrate Passion Project - A Standing Ovation At Church!

I am not sure that I have ever seen a standing ovation for a sermon during a Catholic Mass before this morning. But when someone delivers a message with inspired passion, people cannot help but to respond in kind.

Seminarian John Kim spoke at the 9:00 mass at St. John Neumann Church in Austin Texas, and shared his story of how he went from a foreign exchange student from South Korea, majoring in Information Technology, to entering the seminary on his journey toward the priesthood.

He has a calling to serve others and God. He has a passion for his chosen path that echoed through worship hall and touched the hearts of those in the congregation. His journey has not always been an easy one, including family pressures to return to South Korea and pursue a business career. But John is steadfast and confident about his calling.

I think we all long to have a calling of some kind. Something that grabs us deep in our soul and motivates us to overcome all obstacles. This type of passion is what changes the world. When John ended this talk, I just knew that the room would be on their feet applauding. Although that is not a common response during mass, it had to happen because of the power of John's love for his chosen work. The enthusiastic clapping lasted a long time as the audience was touched not only by his words, but by his passion.

If John can keep this level of passion alive and carry it forward once ordained, he will become an amazing priest who will change the world. He has already proven that his enthusiasm for life can raise people to their feet!

Have A Great Day.


****The Celebrate Passion Project on "The Some Assembly Required Blog" will run all month in December 2007. Every post this month will touch on honoring people who have a special spark for life or helping others (and me!) to discover ways to re-ignite our internal passions for our world.

I challenge other bloggers who read this to dedicate one day in December on their blog to "The Celebrate Passion Project", and in their own way praise those they encounter who have a special way of expressing the excitement in their soul. And then encourage your readers to do the same!