Won for all and all for one.

The United States collectively lifted joyous voices and hands up high in celebration as the Chicago Cubs broke its 108-year “curse” – finally winning baseball’s World Series in extra innings over the Cleveland Indians.

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Even Indian supporters joined in, putting aside differences to come together for the good of the game.  People recognizing the unique skills, dedication and team work that was a part of realizing the victory.

Festive fireworks exploded throughout the Windy City.  Hundreds of “Cubs Win” banners painted with a single W, were waved.  It’s a time for collective merrymaking.

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As Game Seven neared, a news report showed hundreds of people spontaneously turning out to chalk words of encouragement on the famed brick walls of Wrigley Field.

“This is the year!”

“Let’s Go!”

“Believe.”

They wrote to share their special relationship with the Cubs.

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A team to root for and keep believing in for generations.

For at least three generations, the Cubs were a part of my family.  I was born in a town in northern Indiana that’s part of the American region known as “Chicagoland.”   During my youth, the TV at my maternal grandparents’ house seemed to be permanently tuned to baseball as I recall many a time hearing them cheering on their beloved Cubbies throughout their lives which ended, sadly, decades before this epic win.

I thought of my grandparents two summers ago, when, as a speaker for a large tech conference, we participants were all given a tour of the historic stadium home of the Cubs.  We were treated to free hotdogs, pretzels and beer and were encouraged to take to the field! There, I met Hall of Famer, Billy Williams, I hit a ball that was lightly lobbed toward me by a guest pitcher and I ran (okay jogged) to the base.

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Me hitting a ball at Wrigley Field, home of the 2016 World Series winners, the Cubs! 

Shh.  I even delicately (and secretly) walked into the outfield to caress the sacred ivy that climbs the back walls of Wrigley.  And although I freely admit I am not an ardent fan, it was a moving experience.

Because the experience made me realize, that even more than the Cubs of Wrigley Field, my grandparents were actually fans of the spirit of baseball. When I stopped and thought about it, I remember they often cheered on other teams too like the Chicago White Sox, or the Cincinnati Reds.

The spirit of the game can transcend team rivalries.

Maybe it can transcend even more than that.

For instance, the Cubs fans who collectively wrote on Wrigley’s walls may have been Democrats, Republicans or Independents. It didn’t matter.  They were unified to their commitment to the game.

Can’t the same be said for my country?

After all, the spirit of baseball is a spirit that is often listed as part of the America.  You know,

“Baseball, hotdogs and apple pie.”

On Election Day this Tuesday, when America turns out to the polls and a presidential winner is ultimately declared, can Americans commit to join together in celebration of our collective spirit?

Can we celebrate the spirit of America? For the freedom that too many died defending.  For the dreams that so many immigrated to its shores to seek.

Maybe we have been battered by this election season’s bitter rivalries. Maybe we have been abandoned by friends on Facebook or Twitter.  But surely, although tattered, we can still find a way to wave our united W banner.

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For the love of the game, and for we who love America even more than baseball, I hope after Election Day, we will proudly raise our joyous voices and hands high together and celebrate that other banner which signifies our collective principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Kindly, 

Gina

 


Reflecting on Treasures.

Yesterday an article was published about me in The Sunday Times. A lovely article by a lovely reporter with a lovely accompanying photo.

And yet, for a variety of reasons yesterday I did not feel so lovely. I was, in fact, awash in melancholy.

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I’d gone to a moody movie with an equally moody score that sent me spiraling alone. Into myself.

I was aching for something. Something missing.

My thoughts turned to my grandpa. Robert Raven.

A man who had the kindest, twinkly blue eyes that matched the star-sapphire ring he wore on his right hand.

Above is a photo of Grampa and Grannie Raven and my mom. He may look ordinary to you, but if you look closely, you can see the extraordinary twinkle behind the glasses.

* * *

Grandpa was a man who could and would happily strike up a conversation with just anyone. A man who never met a stranger. He knew that a friend was waiting after the warm greeting, “How do you do?”

A man who, while not formally educated after high school, had a voracious love of reading about history, nature - in particular the red rocks and sage brush of the western United States, and people. He kept every single copy of National Geographic in pristine condition in a bookcase in the basement. I used to thumb through them when I’d visit. Learning about places I never thought I would ever travel to. But many, by now, that I have been fortunate enough to have even lived in.

We would take long exploring walks in the Indiana woods behind the home he had built and that he still shared with his equally kind wife, my Grannie, Dolores. He loved that woman so. And she loved him back joyfully. The bond those two humble humans shared is something I envy.

Right now, I can’t think of anything dramatic to illustrate the love they had. It was the composite of little things.

For me, my grandpa's love was expressed through small moments that made lasting memories - during our walks in the woods.

Grandpa showed me how to make Sassafras tea from the root of a small Sassafras tree sapling.   He taught me how to find Morels that seemed to purposefully hide under the broad, low leaves of Mayapple plants.

The spongy mushrooms were so abundant; it was only after I had grown up and moved away from Indiana that I realized they were considered a rare, culinary delicacy. Maybe most important of all, he taught me to stop talking for a moment as we meandered amidst the trees, stand still and just listen.

Listen.

Grandpa Raven, or just Grampa, as I used to call him, wasn’t tall. He was only about 5’6” before cancer began to curl his body forward. But to me, especially after my own dad died when I was 11, Grampa was a solid, strong refuge.

His strength was his kindness. His natural curiosity and his enjoyment of others. He was a steady presence of comfort.

It’s been many years since cancer finally won over my grandpa’s inner strength. I still have his star sapphire ring that he bequeathed to me, his eldest grandchild. It’s a treasure.  My daughter’s middle name is Raven, in tribute to him. She’s an even greater treasure.

I hope each of you has a Grampa Raven.

Someone who shows their love and strength through consistent and confident kindness.

I hope you treasure them too.

Kindly, Gina

I’m so grateful you are reading my essays. I train, consult and speak about leadership, better communications, business and life empowerment. Please click ‘Follow’ (at the top of the page) and reach out to me directly to support you or your organization via LinkedIn, TwitterFacebook and at GinaLondon.com or with my terrific new strategic communications alliance at Fuzion.


What we do when no one is looking...

Rob runs Café Velo, one of the loveliest breakfast and lunch cafes here in Cork, Ireland.

When I’m there, it’s as if I’ve walked back in time to when I lived in the 15th arrondissement in Paris.

Pastries are arranged behind the counter glass with artistic flair. The servers are just the right blend of warmth and chatty and the tea is served in delicate china.

I ran into Rob unexpectedly this week downtown - in a rare moment when he was not in his cafe. We stopped and chatted a bit and I casually asked about the single large book I glimpsed in the white shopping bag he was holding.

Rob smiled and told me the book was for an elderly customer. The man, in his eighties, reported in to Velo every morning for his daily scone.

Except for this week when he suddenly did not appear.

Rob inquired and learned the customer had had a stroke. And was in the hospital.

The man has no family to speak of. So Rob went out of his way on his own time to buy a book he thought the man would enjoy during his recovery. Now Rob was off to the hospital to pay the man a visit.

I was touched by the story and asked if I could write about it. Rob looked at me a bit embarrassed, but said, “Sure, go for it.”

So I am.

I want to contrast a man like Rob with another man.

Rob was simply doing a kind thing. Without, in our day of Social Media marketing, even posting about it. Doing a kind thing when no one, he thought, was looking.

Compare that with that now notorious video, of a certain person running for US president objectifying women when the women weren’t present. Then he steps out of the van and “politely greets” one of the same women he had just talked so horribly about.

What we do when we think no one is looking says a lot about our true character, doesn’t it?

Not all men are the same. Rob’s act when he thought no one was looking was kind. And it was more than caring for a regular paying customer, it was caring of a fellow human being on this planet.

The more we can strive to get past race, religion and gender, and consider that we’re all just people together on this planet, perhaps we can all be a little kinder too.

Thank you, Rob, for a lesson all of us can learn.

Kindly,

Gina

I’m so grateful you are reading my essays. I train, consult and speak about leadership, better communications, business and life empowerment. Please click ‘Follow’ and reach out to me directly to support you or your organization via LinkedIn, TwitterFacebook and at GinaLondon.com


Driving Change. aka "When I Drove A Tesla MODEL X!"

Billed as the

"safest, fastest and most capable sport utility vehicle in history”

- you likely already know about Tesla’s MODEL X.

But have you actually driven one?

I have. And it was a game-changer!

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Now, I wish I could say I am the proud owner, but it’s my sister’s husband who holds that distinction. Tony ordered one of the touch-screen paneled, falcon-winged doored, electric vehicles three years ago and it recently arrived to their Ohio home.

So! Last month visiting my family in the US, my gracious brother-in-law invited me to give the luxury car a test drive and of course I said,”Yes!”

I’m honestly not one to pay attention to the kind of car a person drives. I usually don’t remember if it was a black Jeep or a dark blue Ford that you picked me up in. I care more about the person inside than the metal transporting us.

But my Tesla experience was transformative.

From the outside, it didn’t grab me. While the wrap-around windshield might say, "modern," my first glance at Tony’s white Model X exterior didn’t really make me do a double take. And even though the self-opening falcon doors are “Back to the Future” awesome, I was really blown away once I was inside the cock-pit, I mean, behind the wheel.

The large computer screen dash-board is comprehensive. The autopilot feature – keep your hands on the wheel! – was very user friendly.

And the acceleration mode: “Ludicrous” – which tilts you from 0-60 in under 3 seconds is well, you know!

I felt my stomach lurch. Not quite the Ludicrous Speed effect it had on Rick Moranis in Space Balls, but pretty darn close!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygE01sOhzz0]

Speaking of ludicrous, Tesla founder and self-made billionaire Elon Musk has been described by observers as an “Inventor,” “Engineer,” “Explorer – and “Eccentric.” Business Insider lists a string of Musk quotes is says are either “Crazy or brilliant or in some cases both.”

However you describe him, there’s no mistaking that Musk’s Teslas are accelerating the way the auto industry considers electric mobility.

With more than 125,000 of the Tesla Model S sold since mid-2012, there’s high demand for the more expensive Model X released in November last year. The success has prompted the competition to step up. BMW is now expected to soon introduce its own all-electric version.

So remember that if you’re out there pursuing some dream at the moment that your colleagues or family are perhaps criticizing.  It may seem ludicrous to others, but worthwhile to you.

I’m not here pretending that every and all ideas are positive, productive or even really worth pursuing. There are plenty of them that really are just crazy – not brilliant. Sorry.

But I am saying that sometimes being persistent against all the naysayers and odds may be, like a Tesla, what drives change in your organization, your industry, your world.

Not so ludicrous at all.

Here's to driving change. And for me to save up for my first Tesla.

Cheers!

Kindly,

Gina

I’m so grateful you are reading my essays. I train, consult and speak about leadership, better communications, business and life empowerment. Please click ‘Follow’ (at the top of the page) and reach out to me directly to support you or your organization via LinkedIn, TwitterFacebook and at GinaLondon.com


Back to the Future!

I arrived this week back to my adopted home country of Ireland.

In August, after I hosted a tech conference in Florida, I enjoyed most of the remainder of the month with my family.  (In the photo below I am with my sister, nieces and yes, my 8-year-old daughter Lulu was also happily in tow.)

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So we were back in the US. In the heartland of Indiana. My birth state.  And, incidentally, the home state of Governor Mike Pence, the running mate of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

It’s probably no surprise then, that I was surrounded by a forest of Trump/Pence 2016 yard signs.  The only Hillary Clinton sign I saw was in the form of an “I’m with Her” bumper sticker on the back window of a Ford that also had an “IRELAND” emblem on the bumper. Go figure.

Other American things of note I witnessed during our month-long stay at my parents’ peaceful lake-front home were:

1. Whopperrito: Since I’ve lived overseas almost a decade now, I am constantly teased about America’s obesity problem and many restaurants' large portion persistence.  Enter this summer’s new offering from Burger King. It’s part Whopper, part burrito. Get it?  I swear I only saw the commercial. I have not sampled one. I promise!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wpxigJB3kII?wmode=transparent]

2. No gun signs: Although tragic school shootings occurred when I lived in the US, (I covered Columbine for CNN, for example), the frequency and numbers have increased since I have been gone.  For the first time, this summer, I noticed signs prohibiting guns had gone up.  On grocery stores, restaurants, and here at the doctor’s office where I was visiting an ENT to examine my vocal chords (which are fine, by the way).  When I previously posted this photo on Facebook, an Italian friend asked, “Do they really think this sign would stop someone?”

3. Software for Marching Bands:  If you don’t know about summer band camp, you’re probably not an American! I once played clarinet and then was part of the flag troupe. Now, my high school-aged cousin, Meghan, who came to visit, is an awesome trumpet player in LaPorte, Indiana.  But the routines she has been practicing with her band, look NOTHING like the lame marching around we used to do.  Bands these days are highly choreographed affairs looking more like Cirque du Soleil interpretive dance! And, guess, what? There’s 3D software to help the directors guide the band members in formation.  Of course there is.  Take a look at this and I bet you’ll marvel the same way I did when Meghan showed me.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6H6f3IaHXU?wmode=transparent]

4. English usage tweaks: Here in Ireland, we put our groceries in “trolleys.” In the US, we pop things in a “cart.” We ask the waiter for directions to the “restroom” at an American café, but we’re more direct here in Ireland asking plainly for the “toilet.”  For back to school supplies, your American child may want a few new “erasers” while here in Ireland, I find myself giggling like a teenager when my daughter says she needs new er, “rubbers.” That’s right. That’s what the kids call erasers here. No, I don’t know if it’s the same usage for condoms. Let’s move on.

5. Tesla: I am thrilled to say I drove my first Tesla this summer.  A top-of-the-line “Model X” that my brother-in-law ordered three years ago.  It was amazing. So amazing, in fact, I’ll write more about that experience later. Stay tuned.

6. Songbirds.  Here in Ireland, I always smile when I see the cheery flicker of a Pied Wagtail. In Indiana as my mom and daughter sprinkled seeds on the deck even in summer, I welcomed being reminded of the cute chickadees, soft-grey tufted titmice and upside-down nuthatches that I had enjoyed as a child.

7. Tornadoes.  On Wednesday, August 24, Lulu and I were shopping at Hamilton County Town Center when the area’s tornado sirens went off – which mean a funnel cloud has been spotted. I grew up in Indiana so I’m used to these.  Lulu was frightened to tears.  A record-setting EIGHT tornadoes touched down that day. Many buildings were destroyed, but Governor Mike Pence (him again!) said it was a miracle that no one was killed or badly hurt. The power of nature always awes me. (This photo was taken by a family friend on that record-setting day.)

8. Lake swimming.  Here in Ireland, we’re surrounded by the bracing, icy waters of the sea.  It was a pleasure to relax and float in the much warmer water of Morse Reservoir after my brother, Brad, (who is a real-life yacht captain based in Florida, joined us the first week and took the helm of my step-dad’s speedboat) finished whipping Lulu and her cousin, my sister’s young daughter, around on the raft.

9. Family.  The hardest part about living overseas is that we’re far away from family. Thankfully we all gathered together.  Mom, step-dad, my sister and brothers and their partners. Cousins. Nieces and even my 101-year-old incredibly independent Aunt Neatie.  We talked, ate, drank, and laughed. Like family should.

(Grammie, Lulu, Grampa - on the lake, of course!)

And now, we’re back in our adopted home of Cork, Ireland.  And it’s back to work for me.

Back to meetings: I had a great one Tuesday with the head of finance of a major multi-national.

Back to news analysis:  I was on air Wednesday on national radio discussing Donald Trump’s surprising visit with Mexico’s president.

Back to speaking engagements: Next week, I’ll be part of a Dublin photo shoot to promote the national Network Ireland Awards event I’m excited to be a part of.

And today, my 8-year-old daughter, Lulu, goes back to school.  As she’s starting third grade,

it’s a “back” that’s actually a “forward.”

And that’s how I like to look at my own life.  Yes, holidays are over and it’s “back to work” but it’s also an opportunity to “move things forward!”

So, I’ll fondly remember the songbirds, boating on the lake and my family. And embrace the fun I’m embarking on now.  Hope you do too!

Now, get back to work!

Kindly, Gina

I’m so grateful you are reading my essays. I train, consult and speak about leadership, better communications, business and life empowerment. Please reach out to me directly to support you or your organization via LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and at GinaLondon.com


Postcards from the US: Do the Irish toss rocks and roll cheese?

“I know the Irish toss rocks, right?”

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Cesar put this question to me yesterday when I mentioned I lived in Ireland. “That’s like one of their big sports.”

“What?!” I replied, shaking my head and laughing.

“I saw it on TV. A bunch of guys with red beards so I figured they must have been Irish,” the 27-year-old explained.  “And cheese rolling too. Great big flat wheels of cheese. But then again, maybe they were Swiss. The cheese and the people. I don’t know. I saw it on ESPN.  So it has to be something.”

“Listen,” I was practically rolling and gasping at this point, “I don’t know where to begin. I know a bit about the GAA (Ireland’s sports league, the Gaelic Athletic Association) but outside of hurling I haven’t heard of rock tossing as an Irish national sport. And you’re on your own on the cheese bit.”

Cultural exchange

For me, the best part of traveling is not the new architecture, foods or landscapes, but meeting new people.

Anyone. My Haitian-born taxi driver, Louis, who is now an American citizen but reached Miami on a boat in 1997 with 146 other people fleeing the chaos of their country.

Luciana, my Diplomat Resort Hotel concierge who upgraded me to a suite and whose father was an Argentine diamond miner. Before he died, he made an exquisite ring embedded with six pea-sized diamonds that she proudly wore and that I admired.  I also commented on her name and she shared that her mother was from Italy. Since I lived in Tuscany for three years, we enjoyed a quick chat in Italiano.

Luciana’s incredible kindness radiated in such a way you hardly noticed the six-inch scar winding along the left side of her neck from the cancer surgery she endured last year. She teaches grade school children how to recycle and take better care of the environment in her spare time and was recently named one of her county’s 100 “Outstanding Women” for her work with the schools and with the Boys and Girls Club.

When you ask new people about themselves, you get a chance to be informed andinspired.

And, in the case of Cesar, you sometimes get a chance to have a cultural exchange.

As my audio technician, this guy was already more familiar with me than many people – since the lavaliere microphone I wore for the global tech conference I was hosting – had its cord connected to a receiver attached to a black Velcro garter that Cesar fastened high around my right thigh.

I thought it only fair that I get to know him a bit better too.

First off, when I asked how he preferred to have his name pronounced, he said he didn’t mind.  He gets it both ways.  His mother, who is from the Dominican Republic, calls him “Say-zar” while his American father calls him “See-zir.”

He spent the first 17 years of his life in the D.R., and moved over to South Florida to go to college and to live near his dad who came back to the US after he split with Cesar’s mom.

With three brothers and a sister, Cesar is the baby.  Teasing, I asked him which sibling is his least favourite.  At first he smiled as if he might divulge a story, but after the momentary hesitation he diplomatically declared he liked them all equally.

Who will he vote for?

He also declared he had a great interest in the upcoming presidential election. Yes, he’s registered.  He is planning to vote.

He and a lot of his young male friends were Bernie Sanders supporters during the primaries.  They especially liked Sanders’ pledge to tackle college debt.

Now he’s not sure what he’ll do.  He said he can’t believe the things that keep coming out of Donald Trump’s mouth. But he doesn’t trust Hillary Clinton.

I asked him to tell me one thing he really liked to do – besides watching rock tossing on ESPN – and he revealed he shared my passion for travel.

Cesar was curious to learn more about Ireland.

“The Irish drink a lot, don't they?" he fired off. 

"Many enjoy the odd pint,” I demurred.

“Can you do an Irish accent?!”

He really pressured me on this one, cajoling me with a string of “C’mon’s!” and “Just try’s”. But even after living for nearly two years in my adopted country, the fact that there are so many variations of dialects combined with the other fact that I’m just no good at imitations helped me manage to duck his repeated request.

He also asked me about the weather in Ireland.  In South Florida, we were coming off of a couple of pounding thunderstorms.  I told him it rains like that a lot in Ireland.

“That’s okay,” he brightly replied. “I like the rain.”

“It also averages about 15-17 degrees Celsius which is about 60 Fahrenheit.”

“Oh,” said my new Dominican Republic-American friend,” That’s too cold.”

So for now, anyway, Cesar may continue to learn about Ireland through TV. But perhaps I can recommend the National Geographic Channel in place of ESPN.

P.S. Should I tell him about Irish road bowling??

Copyright 2016 Gina London. All Rights Reserved. 

I’m so grateful you are reading my essays. I train, consult and speak about leadership, better communications, business and life empowerment. Throughout August while I'm back in the USA, I'll be writing postcard portraits of people I meet.  Their perspectives on life, Ireland and the US Presidential election.

Please Follow me and reach out to me directly to support you or your organization via LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and at GinaLondon.com

 


Postcard from the US: Election 2016. Stormy Weather.

After a year away in Ireland, I’m back home in the US for two full days now.  Today I’m in Miami hosting a tech conference. Inside it's the bright lights of the studio.

Outside it’s hot. It’s muggy.  Thunderstorms are darkening the beach. The rough weather seems to reflect the mood of the latest presidential election news reports.

At the moment, CNN is interviewing Florida Governor Rick Scott about the state’s efforts to contain the Zika virus with 15 confirmed cases in a single neighbourhood. Scott, a Navy veteran, also happens to be a Donald Trump supporter, and as such is also being asked how he feels about the Republican candidate’s escalating feud with the family of slain US Muslim soldier, Humayun Kahn.

Scott tries at first to avoid answering the question by bringing up Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and the economy. When pressed, he reaffirms his support and adds that Donald Trump is a friend to those in the military.

This, as the Veterans of Foreign Wars and a group of families who also had service members killed in action are blasting Trump on another channel and demanding he apologize for his remarks.

Next, the topic around the candidate in question shifts as this breaking news comes across: Trump is refusing to endorse House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator John McCain in their re-election campaigns.

During the primaries, Ryan and McCain have had their share of disagreements with Trump and now, analysts say on air that Trump is getting his retribution. According to them it’s personal.

And it’s this string of behaviour that has turned Sam off from the presidential candidate for whom he was once planning to vote.

Meet Sam from Minnesota.

Sam is from Minneapolis but he’s here with me in Miami as the director of the on-line conference I am hosting.  He heads up his own event production business with ten employees.  He considers himself socially progressive and fiscally conservative.

He voted Republican in the past two elections and was preparing to vote the same way in November.

“I was impressed with Trump’s speech at the Republican convention,” Sam told me today.  “He talked calmly. Slowly. He seemed to be reading the teleprompter.  I listened to it on the radio and I thought he did a good job.”

Then came Trump’s string of polemical comments. The Khan controversy plus Donald Trump’s answer on Monday to a USA Today newspaper reporter that he would like to think his daughter Ivanka would find another career or find another company if she encountered sexual harassment on the job.

Sam has an eight-year-old daughter.

Trump’s verbal thunder has destroyed the calmer presidential image Sam thought he heard portrayed during the Republican nomination acceptance speech.

“Now I have no time for him,” Sam told me.

He wouldn’t say whether he would vote for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton instead.  Only that he, unlike Florida Governor Scott, would no longer support Trump.

It’s been a stormy couple of days in South Florida -  and for Donald Trump.

Copyright 2016 Gina London. All Rights Reserved. 

I’m so grateful you are reading my essays. I train, consult and speak about leadership, better communications, business and life empowerment. In August I'll be writing about my experiences back in the US during the US presidential election. Please reach out to me directly to support you or your organization via LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and at GinaLondon.com

 


Postcards from the US. Election 2016.

As an American now living in Ireland, it’s been a year since I last stepped foot on native soil.  In that year, Donald Trump emerged from the field of 17 as the first Republican presidential candidate since Dwight Eisenhower to not have previously served as an elected official. And since Eisenhower was a general in WW II, Trump notably is the first GOP candidate to not have had any form of prior government experience since lawyer Wendell Willkie in 1940.

Over on the Democratic side, another first is that Hillary Clinton’s name will forever be highlighted in the record books as the first female candidate (from a major political party) for US President.

With the primaries and both the Republican and Democratic conventions behind us, the heat is really on. Not only because temperatures in the States are record setting this August – but because now with the General Election upon us, America is truly in a first-of-its-kind race for the White House. 

 I won’t try to demonstrate any broad science that political polls may offer, but during my time back in the States, I’ll try to interview people from as many different walks of life as I can find – to give you who may be living abroad and watching with interest and perhaps trepidation a little insight into the minds of some of the Americans who will be casting a ballot in this historic election.

 Jim from New Jersey

 I landed yesterday. Sunday.  In Philadelphia. Host to the just-ended Democratic Convention, the city’s airport was still brilliant in red, white and blue. Shops were still stocked with convention paraphernalia like glasses, corkscrews and T-shirts sporting Hillary Clinton’s face onto Rosie the Riveter’s muscle-pumping likeness with the straightforward words, “HILLARY 2016.” Or the other T-shirt with Donald Trump’s image and the more snarky slogan, “WE SHALL OVERCOMB.”

I posted a photo of my eight-year-old daughter, Lulu, on Facebook as she held up the Hillary cork screw. It elicited a slew of quips from my Stateside friends: “She should be locked up.” “She sells favors to foreign governments.” Trump didn’t escape either as one friend blasted him for his recent comments that he wanted to “hit DNC speakers.”

The political battle-lines were clear. And I thought I’d landed in the City of Brotherly Love.

Earlier, my American Airlines flight had lifted-off quietly enough from Shannon, Ireland.  It didn’t take long, however, to notice that the plane was old and outdated. Among other things, it was lacking, as Lulu quickly pointed out, her expected modern convenience of individual video screens in the seats.

According to our flight attendant, the plane was 35 years old.  She apologized in one frustrated breath that the movie projector to the single overhead screen was broken so my daughter couldn’t watch Pan as advertised in the seat-back magazine, that the bathrooms weren’t equipped to handle the er, “needs” of the passengers on a long overseas flight and that there wasn’t even enough trash bin space to hold the used cups and sandwich boxes and other garbage. Instead, the excess refuse was piled high on top of the metal aisle carts.

My seat-mate on the flight from Shannon to Phily was named Jim.  He and I agreed that many of the flight attendants’ grumpy demeanors likely stemmed from the expressed consternation they were feeling with the conditions of the aged plane.

Jim was returning to the US after a vacation in Ireland with his wife of almost 50 years and their children and grandchildren.

A New Jersey resident, Jim was a retired operations manager from Wawa, an East Coast convenience store chain. He told me he’d worked his whole life for Wawa.

"It’s named after the wild geese or “wawa” that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow described in the poem Hiawatha,” Jim explained.

He also confided to me that the company had left him with a healthy 401K plan and retirement package. He and his wife were considering taking a National Geographic sponsored world tour for their upcoming 50th anniversary  - at 75 thousand dollars a person.

While in Ireland, Jim’s family had toured the Dingle Peninsula, the Jameson whiskey plant and played a lot of golf.  They had also stayed at “Donald Trump’s golf course” as Jim described it in Doonbeg, County Clare.

“I noticed the Irish really don’t care for Trump,” Jim said. “Especially in Doonbeg.”

In many ways, as a retired professional who isn't disenfranchised about losing a manufacturing job, Jim doesn’t fit the easy profile of a Trump supporter.  But Jim told me he is planning to vote for Donald Trump as the next American president.

He voted for Trump earlier in the New Jersey primary too.

When I asked him why he chose the Republican candidate over the Democrat, he immediately blamed Hillary Clinton for “messing up Benghazi.”

“She got those soldiers killed,” he flatly stated.

(In fact, none of the four men killed in 2012 in Benghazi were active soldiers.  Ambassador Chris Stevens, his information officer and two former CIA operatives died in the attack.)

Jim added that he’s not one to defend Donald on his comments against women, or Muslims like Khizr Khan, the father of the fallen US Army Captain or about calling on Russia to find Clinton’s missing emails.

“I’m just ready to see him shake things up,” he told me simply, when I asked him to give me one reason why he was going to vote for Trump.

He said he doesn't trust politicians and he’s tired of things as they are.

Like that aged plane with the piled up garbage,  Jim is frustrated with what he sees as American problems that are chronic and not getting fixed.

Copyright 2016 Gina London.  All Rights Reserved. 

I’m so grateful you are reading my essays. I train, consult and speak about leadership, better communications, business and life empowerment. During August, I'll be writing about my return to the US and the Presidential Elections.  Please click ‘Follow’ (at the top of the page) and reach out to me directly to support you or your organization via LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and at GinaLondon.com


Speaking like a Living Legend. Poised and Inclusive like Gloria Steinem

To listen to her speak, her voice robust, smooth and calm as she responded to a flurry of questions, both supportive and confrontational, you would never imagine that she is 82 years old.

(pictured above, Gloria Steinem at the Bantry Literary Festival in Ireland, July 23, 2016)

As a leader of the feminist movement in the 1960s, founder of Ms. Magazine and after writing six books (including her most recent one chronicling the incredible range of people she’s met during 40 years of traveling as a journalist and speaker that I just purchased, “My Life on the Road”), it makes sense that her age reflects her numerous accomplishments.

Up close, you will notice she is slight as a sparrow and she did accept assistance descending the dias  after speaking yesterday at the West Cork Literary Festival in Ireland.  But!

On stage, Gloria Steinem’s delivery was dynamic, funny and youthfully vigorous.

Vocal quality can be trained and improved. And yes, that’s a service I provide having developed my own professional delivery style as a network television correspondent and anchor, but that is not the purpose of this essay.

I was simply struck as I listened to Gloria, not only by the content of her responses, but by the way in which she delivered.

(pictured above, I'm next in line to meet Gloria Steinem! July 23, 2016, Bantry, Ireland)

  1. Gloria’s Humor: When someone questioned the scanty outfits and nudity of Beyonce and Kim Kardashian, Gloria deftly distinguished between the two with humor, “We should all be body proud, able to walk the streets nude and expect to be safe. Beyonce…had me at hello.. but Kim Kardashian has no content that I’m aware of.”
  2. Gloria’s Inclusiveness: She agreed with a man who asked why there weren’t more men in the room saying, “If it’s not inclusive, it isn’t feminism.”

I was most impressed how she handled opposition.

3.    Gloria’s Composure: One impassioned woman, opposing the campaign to repeal Ireland’s Eighth Amendment that prohibits abortion, spoke of her children and speculated that her adopted husband could have been aborted before going on to slam Gloria as not understanding since she had no children of her own.

A few boos rippled from the audience. The questioner was clearly in the minority in the room. But Gloria didn’t try to exclude her or shame her or make her feel embarrassed.  Gloria’s expression was soothing as she answered in dulcet tones.

“Reproductive rights respects your power to decide to have children as well as someone else’s decision not to have children….Let’s work together.”

A less-skilled and experienced person might not have maintained composure. Confrontations can topple any event.

So when Gloria spoke in support of Hillary Clinton as the best and “most truthful” candidate for US president, (the truth claim backed up by numerous fact-checking reports), I couldn’t help mentally comparing the verbal presentation styles of these two powerful and successful women.

I think their difference is largely demonstrated by their voices.  Gloria’s is warm. Rich. Soothing. Mellifluous.

By sharp contrast, Hillary’s voice is quite the opposite. She can sound grating. Shrill. Strident. Harsh.

Hillary, especially when she is defending against her e-mails, Benghazi or a Trumpish accusation, turns herself up to an excessively forceful volume and pitch.

But throughout yesterday’s program, Gloria’s delivery was full of poise. She even cursed as if she were merely sprinkling cinnamon on a latte.  Her occasional “F***” and “bullsh**” didn’t stand out as offensive. They were delivered in the same relaxed cadence as their surrounding words.  Mollifying pats part of a peaceful embrace.

Gloria and Hillary are friends. Perhaps before Mrs. Clinton accepts the official nomination as the candidate for president later this week at the Democratic National Convention, Ms. Steinem can fly to Philadelphia and give her some last minute delivery coaching.

Hillary needs to sound gracious and inclusive.  A worthy combination and one that is not exhibited by the Republican candidate.

Who, by the way, “Should not be elected, but should be hospitalized,” according to Gloria yesterday.

And finally, one of Gloria’s parting shots, in which she urged us all to pay attention to our instincts, may also have bearing on the upcoming election.  She declared,

 “If it looks like a duck and swims like a duck and sounds like a duck - but you think it’s a pig, it’s a pig.”

Okay, so Gloria’s not inclusive of everyone.

Copyright Gina London 2016.  All Rights Reserved. 


Bruce Springsteen and Employee Engagement!

What does Bruce Springsteen and Employee Engagement have in common? 

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The answer in a second. But first. Quick! Close your eyes and imagine your all your organization’s various processes as an expensive golden chain link bracelet.  Gorgeous.

Now, keep your eyes closed: Which link in your organization’s process is Communications?

For too many, it’s in one of the last positions.

Is your Comms team brought in only after a new employee rewards system or human resources policy or pick any type of idea or change has been decided upon and is ready to roll out? You know, the situation in which the Chief Marketing Officer or the Chief Information Officer or the Chief Whatever Officer calls in the Director of Communications and says, “Tell everyone this is happening” type of approach?

No. no. no!

Put Communications foremost in your strategy at every stage!

Instead, consider what might occur if management brings the Comms Director to the table at the planning stage. Your Comms Team should be experts in crafting and guiding strategy to drive Employee Engagement.

Last Friday, I was fortunate to lead a “Lunch and Learn” session with the super-committed Communications Team from Ireland’s electricity company, ESB Group. We explored and discussed a variety of ways to better connect the company around ideas of efficacy and activation.

For instance, consider:

  • How can you reduce the work-load from first reports and get employees to comply with a new policy – on their own accord –and happily??? 
  • Who are the various department influencers out there beyond supervisors who could help promote the new idea internally? 
  • Conversely, who are the known naysayers and what can be done preemptively to help bring them on board to champion an idea? 
  • What will it take to properly socialize your new idea? 
  • Is there a way to incrementally roll out the new idea in controlled phases and make it fun? 
  • How do you socialize the new idea? 
  • Is there a way to gamify the new idea? 
  • How can you create a friendly competition with real prizes around the new idea? 
  • What’s the #Hashtag around the campaign on social media?

It might be as simple as a popular ESB competition going on right now to winBRUCE SPRINGSTEEN tickets which, I’m told, has awesome employee engagement behind it and proves you don’t have to be “Born in the USA” to love the Boss.

Good Communication ideas aren’t simple. They’re strategic.

Employees often fear change, because it sounds like a code-word for MORE WORK!  So, bringing in your Comms Team at the planning stage (and throughout the entire process), can help your organization better strategize, plan and implement change.

Think of your Comms Team as People Strategists! And since any organization is comprised of People (NOT "HUMAN CAPITAL" – Blech, what a term), you need those People Strategists at the onset of any new idea, not merely in the implementation phrase!

It’s the human way and it’s the right way. Research (duh, not surprisingly) shows that employees who have fun, feel valued and therefore are more productive!

Get Real and Get Going!

Here's to engaging employees in the real way, Gina

Copyright 2016 Gina London. All Rights Reserved.