Thanksgiving 2022

Thanksgiving 2022 was a good one! Making it unique was that I did something on the holiday for the first time. So tonight I thought I would share with you five highlights from our Thanksgiving, including that item I had never experienced before Thursday…

Turkey Trot – Okay, I am not going to keep you in suspense. Up until Thanksgiving 2022, I had never participated in a Turkey Trot. That all changed a few days ago when I went with my brother and sister-in-law to Spokane’s Manito Park for a three-mile “trot” through the beautiful grounds. The course even took us through a neighborhood where homeowners offered hot chocolate and apple cider (perhaps even a little Fireball if you asked nicely) to runners. It was cold and it probably took me the first mile to truly warm up, but it sure was a good time.

Glen, Carrie, and I off to the Manito Park Turkey Trot.

On The News – The Turkey Trot proved even more memorable than expected because we got on the news! KREM 2 sent reporter Janelle Finch to cover the race and we appeared in her live shot! As the camera panned, Glen and I gave big Forrest Gump-esque waves as we entered the picture. Before we could even say “Turkey Trot” my sister-in-law received a text from her friend saying that we were spotted.

I know the picture quality is awful but you get the idea…during KREM 2 reporter’s Janelle Finch’s live shot, Glen and I were spotted waving to the camera.

Cinnamon Roll Breakfast – After the Turkey Trot, we headed over to my brother’s house. As we watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, we ate cinnamon rolls that Glen made from scratch. Now you may think I am joking around about what I am about to type but I am not—Cinnabon could not have made them better.

One of the delicious cinnamon rolls prepared by Chef Glenny Crocker.

Thanksgiving Dinner – Of course it doesn’t get better than the main event. As usual, the family meal/discussion was beautiful, intimate, and absolutely hilarious at times. It is always important for me to pinch myself during these holiday dinners and realize how lucky I am to enjoy a delicious meal with loved ones on such a special day.

Our family gathered around the dining room table for Thanksgiving 2022.

Mitten Holiday Game – Later in the night, we sat around the dining room table once again. However, instead of eating, we were competing to open up a gift. We played a rousing round of the mitten holiday game. We must have went around the table about five times before my brother was ultimately successful at opening the package to reveal a gift card to a local restaurant.

My brother-in-law trying to open up the package as my sister rolls the dice ferociously.

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I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving. As we now approach the Christmas seasons, I hope the next several weeks are happy and magical for you. Perhaps more importantly, let’s remember the reason for the season—Advent started yesterday and it will serve us all well to begin preparing for the arrival of the King of Kings. Don’t Blink.

The Thanksgiving MVP

Over the years, I have examined Thanksgiving from countless angles. However, I have embarrassingly neglected to focus on the MVP of any Turkey Day celebration. Let me explain…

I once read a quote that advised men to wear a suit and tie to Thanksgiving dinner out of respect for the painstaking lengths that the cook(s) went to prepare the holiday meal. Although I personally don’t go that far, I think it is important to properly appreciate and recognize the “architects” of the Thanksgiving feast.

My mom has been the “architect” of the majority of the Thanksgiving feasts I have enjoyed in my lifetime.

There is a lot of pressure on the person who is responsible for preparing the bulk of the Thanksgiving meal. Not only is the menu expansive and many of the items tricky to master, but Thanksgiving is a special occasion. Because of this, people naturally will remember the day for years to come. Making sure the food is a positive memory is important to many cooks.

I vividly remember holiday dinners at my grandma’s house. Adults would do their best to barricade the entrance to the kitchen so my grandma could cook in peace.

“Your grandma gets nervous when people are in the kitchen,” my mom would say.

Nervous? No way. My grandma’s cooking was so superb that I doubted anything could rattle her. However, I do remember one time breaching the invisible barricade that was the warnings of my elders and coming pretty much face-to-face with my grandma as she did her thing in the kitchen. The look on her face told me that the very last thing she needed was a kid with no cooking chops taking up space in her kitchen.

I feel like a useless slouch in the respect that I have never prepared a Thanksgiving dinner before. Perhaps you are in the same boat as me? Although I am sure we would both do our very best to make the meal if we were called upon to do so, something tells me that our families are just fine with us sitting on the sidelines (although my cooking is improving). With that said, I think the very least we can do is be the biggest cheerleader for the cook and help out in non-culinary ways.

As you enjoy Thanksgiving tomorrow, make sure to seek out the cook to offer assistance and properly convey your gratitude for his or her efforts. May everyone have a blessed holiday. Don’t Blink.

Bingo and Life

Q. What is better than playing Turkey Bingo in November?
A. Playing Turkey Bingo TWICE in November.

This past weekend, we were once again testing our Bingo luck in hopes of winning a turkey. Only this time, we had to travel up north. After my St. Mary Knights of Columbus council hosted Turkey Bingo on Nov. 13, another parish in the Spokane Diocese recently took its turn. My parents’ church, St. Thomas More, held its version of the popular Knights of Columbus fundraiser on Sunday.

What made this particular outing special was that all Resers participated. The four in my clan, my parents, my sister and her kids, and my brother and his wife all assembled in the St. Thomas More parish center to play some Sunday Bingo. We pushed a couple of tables together, ordered a bunch of popcorn, and sprawled our cards in front of us.

A portion of us Resers who played Bingo on Sunday.

One fact about Bingo is that it can be stressful. Have you ever sat on the end of your seat needing only one number to win? As others in the hall also await for their winning number to be called, the nervous energy can become overwhelming. If the next number isn’t what you need, surely someone else will yell “BINGO!” followed by the caller uttering those dreaded words: Clear your cards.

Sidney playing some Turkey Bingo at St. Thomas More Parish in north Spokane.

I am not exaggerating, for a game typically stereotyped as an old person’s activity, Bingo can pack a lot of anxiety. I surely felt it on Sunday. After an afternoon of playing some extremely cold cards, I found myself knocking on the door during the second half of the event. Needing just G-49 to notch a victory, I held my breath as the caller announced several other numbers. Luck was on my side as I successfully dodged those bullets with no one hollering out that five-letter word. When the caller did end up calling my new favorite number, all of my built-up energy and anxious anticipation was released when I enthusiastically blurted out that magic word.

Not only did I win, my wife ended up winning too. We were given Rosauers gift cards to purchase our turkeys…although we will probably use the funds to buy cookies and beer instead.

As I exercised yesterday, I reflected on my Bingo experience from the previous day. I thought more about the stress induced from playing the silly game. I contrasted it with other events in life that require people to wait for their number to be called—adoptions, organ donations, medical trials, etc.

Although I have played many a games of Bingo and felt that “stress,” I have never had to sit on pins and needles waiting for a call about whether we were selected to adopt a baby or whether a loved one will receive a new heart. I figured that the feeling of Bingo anxiety might be very slightly relatable to that of an actual life event if you multiplied it by a million.

Are you someone who is waiting to yell “BINGO” with all your might when it comes to something that actually matters? Are you on a list or part of a lottery system that holds real life implications? If so, please know that I am thinking of you and praying for you. Don’t Blink.

The Twitter Mess

Over the past few weeks, I have followed Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover. With interest and concern I have watched as the billionaire has brazenly attempted to “cleanse” the company and “re-build” it into an engineer-optimized, “everything app” platform. Okay, whatever.

Elon Musk has definitely made an impression since taking over Twitter.

As a social media professional, you can’t get too attached to any specific channel. Just like with the longevity of fashion trends, today’s TikTok can easily become tomorrow’s Vine. Platforms come and go. Need evidence? Just take a stroll through the social media cemetery and view headstones that are labeled with names such as MySpace and Google+.

But even with that said, the possible demise of Twitter is shocking to us all. Even though we have a front row seat to the misguided decisions that are making the platform’s complete implosion possible, I think we all are still asking ourselves is this really happening? You see, Twitter isn’t just a fleeting social media app that jockeyed for its 15 minutes of fame before fizzling out. No, Twitter is a social media powerhouse that earned a spot on the industry’s Mount Rushmore alongside giants like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

Twitter earned a spot on the Mt. Rushmore of social media. What will happen if it ceases to exist?

Personally and professionally, Twitter has meant a lot to me. I joined the platform in 2009 and more than 47K tweets later, I can say that there is no other social media channel I have used more. Throughout the course of my three professional stops in higher education, Twitter has been a major vehicle in our social media strategy at each institution. A post-Twitter social media world, if it does in fact occur, will be strange.

This was my first tweet more than 13 years ago. Obviously, I didn’t quite know how to use it at the time.

But sure enough we will adapt and adjust. Perhaps another platform will replace Twitter’s microblogging niche or perhaps we will just use the Twitter-less void to devote more time to existing platforms. Who knows?

With that said, there is something about the current Twitter shitshow that bugs me a helluva lot more than the implications for my personal social media brand or the impact it will have on WSU’s social media strategy. What has caused me anxiety and anger is the authoritarian, intimidation-based managing assault that Elon Musk has unleashed on his employees.

It has been outright brutal to watch. Mass firings, threats, midnight emails, and ultimatums have all been trademarks of Musk’s “leadership style” since he took over Twitter. How’s that working out for you, Elon?

I strongly dislike how Elon Musk is treating his employees.

To see someone grasp power and then use it to make the lives of others a living hell strikes a chord with me. Maybe it is just me, but I prefer a humble leader who puts forth an effort to earn the respect of their new employees instead of a maniac who strong arms those under him to meet unrealistic expectations. The notion that employees must embrace a “hardcore” Twitter and work “long” hours is a sham, and, in my opinion, an outright abuse of employees. Thank goodness most Twitter personnel were in the position to reject such blatant B.S.

Leadership is the exact opposite of what Musk embodies. I have cringed watching the Twitter boss mismanage his talented workforce with each demand and ultimatum that surfaces. Perhaps my sensitivity is just heightened because I have experienced an executive who employed similar management tactics to the exact lack of success that Musk is yielding. Just like with many of the now ex-Twitter employees, I didn’t stand for it. But the real tragedy is that not everyone is in the position to sever ties with an authoritarian boss and so I worry about the remaining Twitter workforce.

Even though the selfish part of me doesn’t want to see Twitter go under, so be it if it means Elon’s maniacal power grip on hardworking employees is released. Twitter has had a good run but it shouldn’t continue if it means that it can’t be sustained in an ethical way. Don’t Blink.

Bodyguard Thursday Rundown

To all my Thanksgiving fanatics, you are just a week away from turkey and football. Until then, here is a five-item appetizer…

Views – When I make my weekly trip to Pullman, it is now dark for most of the drive and the same holds true for my return trek to Spokane. However, the glimmer of daylight I do observe from the sunrises and sunsets are pretty scenic. The below image is from yesterday’s Pullman trip. The top half is from the morning drive and the bottom is from the evening drive. These scenes always provide me with a sense of calmness as I drive in solitude.

During my Pullman commute earlier this week, the sunrise (top) on the way there and the sunset (bottom) on the drive back to Spokane were beautiful.

Turkey Bingo 2022 – Sloan, Sidney, and my dad returned to the St. Mary gym for the second consecutive year to play Turkey Bingo. I also returned for the second consecutive year in my capacity of volunteer. As I wrote a year ago, Turkey Bingo events are common fundraisers staged by Knights of Columbus councils at Catholic parishes across the country. Do you desire a relaxing and fun Sunday afternoon filled with treats, 50/50 raffles, and many chances to win your Thanksgiving dinner? If so, Turkey Bingo is your jam! Although we came away empty handed in the turkey department this year, we sure had fun. As always, I sure am proud to be a Knight!

Sloan and Sidney enjoy Turkey Bingo this past Sunday at St. Mary Catholic Parish in Spokane Valley

Costner Roles – While most of the country is watching Kevin Costner’s portrayal of John Dutton in “Yellowstone,” we opted for an earlier work of the actor’s storied career. Netflix recently made available “The Bodyguard,” a blockbuster from 1992 that cast Costner as a bodyguard who protects a music celebrity played by Whitney Houston. Sidney and I are both Costner fans and we enjoyed watching his chemistry with the late Houston. The music in the film is also on-point so you might want to give it a watch. Elsewhere on Netflix, I am currently watching “Killer Sally” and the third season of “Unsolved Mysteries.”

We enjoyed watching “The Bodyguard.”

College Gameday in Bozeman – Last year, I wrote about the heartbreak that the University of Montana suffered after ESPN pulled the rug from underneath its feet. College Gameday seemed poised to set up shop in Missoula for the Brawl of the Wild but priorities changed last minute and the show went to a Power 5 site. Well, ESPN tried to make things right this year…kind of. College Gameday is finally going to the Montana vs. Montana State rivalry game but it just so happens that the contest is in Bozeman this year. Okay, whatever. The important thing is that the game is receiving the coverage it deserves. But between you and me—as someone who has enjoyed gamedays at both UM and MSU—the Griz experience is just so much better than what the Bobcats offer. Nonetheless, I will be watching on Saturday. GO GRIZ!

I have been to Bozeman for multiple games and it just doesn’t hold a candle to the Missoula and/or Washington-Grizzly Stadium experience. This is me with my former boss Brynn after another Brawl of the Wild victory for the Griz.

Hamster Dance – This past weekend, Sloan and Beau had the chance to become acquainted with a hamster. Some neighbors in our cul-de-sac own Stormy, a friendly furball who took kindly to my two children. I hope their time with someone else’s pet provided them plenty of joy because I don’t know if we will be getting one of our own anytime soon.

Beau holds “Stormy” as the neighbor mom looks on.

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That will do it for tonight. Let the countdown to Thanksgiving begin! Don’t Blink.

My “P”eculiar Breakfast Choices

A memory that is brought up frequently with my cousins and siblings revolves around a trip we took to Silverwood probably 25 years ago. My late Aunt Nancy and Uncle Randy loaded us all in their RV and took us to the theme park. That evening we camped inside the vehicle on Silverwood’s campground. The next morning, we ate cookies and drank plenty of milk for breakfast. We still laugh when we reminisce about stuffing our faces with Oreos and Chips Ahoy cookies.

That was definitely an unconventional breakfast. Although I have not had many more cookie morning meals in the past quarter of a century, I have commonly fell back on some other non-traditional breakfast fare. Tonight I figured I would share with you four non-traditional and Peculiar breakfast foods that I regularly eat in the early morning.

Pizza – Okay, I admit, pizza is probably the most popular “non-traditional breakfast food” in the country. In fact, at this point, it might actually be considered a legitimate breakfast food. Oh well, for the purpose of this blog post I am categorizing it as non-traditional. The “cold pizza” breakfast is Americana at its finest and I frequently indulge. Is there anything better than waking up on a Saturday morning and raiding the Friday night pizza box in the fridge? I think not. Sidney and I love to celebrate Saturday mornings by grabbing a cold slice and watching Netflix. Breakfast of champions.

Pizza for breakfast is awesome.

Pumpkin Pie – Legendary ESPN NFL Draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. is well-known for his habit of eating a piece of pumpkin pie every morning for breakfast. An unconventional choice for an unconventional man. But just in the same way that his NFL knowledge is brilliant, his decision to elevate pumpkin pie as his most important meal of the day is as well. I have taken a page out of Mel’s book during the holiday season when leftover Costco pumpkin pie is readily available in the fridge by cutting myself a piece for breakfast. After all, doesn’t pumpkin pie simply capitalize on the Pop-Tart breakfast staple combo of crust and fruit filling?

Pumpkin pie is acceptable for breakfast…just as long as it doesn’t have mold on it.

Protein – For the past three years, I have dedicated myself to a 6-week body cleanse in the fall. Part of the cleanse is a protein-packed diet. For breakfast, I eat a protein bar and a protein shake. Because I am eating less than usual and because I am not eating sweets during this time, I always look forward to my protein morning meal because the flavors of bars and shakes kind of satisfy sweet tooth.

A look at some of what I would eat. For breakfast I would have a protein bar and shake. For lunch I might have scrambled eggs or a pork chop and banana.

You mean this can actually be good for you? A look at one of my actual protein breakfast combinations.

Peanut Butter Sandwich – For many years, I would eat a peanut butter sandwich for breakfast. Oh, you mean peanut butter toast? NO. I mean a peanut butter sandwich. For the nearly six years I worked at CCU, I would exercise on-campus, shower, and report to my office. I would eat breakfast once I got settled and 95% of the time it would be a peanut butter sandwich.

Eating a peanut butter sandwich at work!

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Although many of these options are unconventional, the silver lining is that I ate something for breakfast. No, eating cookies was probably not a good choice but chomping down a slice of pizza is probably better than beginning the day on an empty stomach. Don’t Blink.

An Evening Washington D.C. Monument/Memorial Tour

When I was at the AMA Symposium last week, my mind was focused on one thing: presenting to my peers. With that said, it wasn’t lost on me that Washington D.C. and all its glory was just a stone’s throw away from the conference hotel.

After I presented on Tuesday and the conference wrapped later that evening, I could breathe a sigh of relief. Before I headed back to Spokane early the next morning, I had a few hours at my disposal to do whatever I pleased. Luckily, I had someone willing to help me make the most of them.

My boss at WSU graciously volunteered to take me on a walking tour of the National Mall so I could see the monuments at night. Holly Sitzmann is our assistant vice president for marketing and communications and happens to live in the Washington D.C. area. It meant enough that earlier in the day she dropped what she was doing and made the trip over to the hotel to watch my presentation but now she was giving up her evening to show me around!

My boss, Holly Sitzmann, took me on an evening D.C. monument/memorial tour that provided some incredible views.

The last (and only other) time I was in D.C. happened to be nearly 20 years ago. As a 16-year-old high school sophomore, my dad took me to our nation’s capital for a special father/son trip. It was an incredible experience and the monuments we were able to see left a memorable impression on me. To go back and re-visit them a couple decades later, this time under the D.C. night sky, was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.

Myself at Arlington National Cemetery in 2003.

Holly met me at the Washington Monument at around 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday night. As the country voted, we gazed upon the Capitol knowing that chamber seats were up for grabs as we spoke. Over the next 2.5 hours as we walked, many of those races would go final. Here are some of the monuments we visited…

Before we embarked on the tour, I took this photo from the Washington Monument of the Capitol Building.

The Washington Monument – Holly filled me in on the history of the Washington Monument, enlightening me to the fact that it is really old. The structure was built between 1848-1884 and different materials were used to construct it over the years depending on availability and cost at the time.

Our tour began at the Washington Monument.

WWII Memorial – When my dad and I visited in early 2003, the WWII Memorial was not open yet so this was my first time seeing it. Pillars surround the memorial with an individual state or U.S. territory engraved on each one. Holly was quick to point out to me the Washington and South Carolina pillars.

Hope you don’t mind my shadow. It was neat to see the WWII Memorial for the first time.

Lincoln Memorial – Wow, this is so much bigger than what I thought. That was my 16-year-old reaction when I saw the Lincoln Memorial for the first time. When I look back on that trip, the Lincoln Memorial is one of the few experiences that I vividly remember. To view it again in-person was pretty cool.

It was cool to see the Lincoln Memorial after such a powerful experience viewing it back in 2003.

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial – This was another memorial that wasn’t built when I visited in the early 2000s. I thought viewing the MLK Memorial was unique because you enter the memorial from behind, pass a couple pieces of granite, and then approach the Stone of Hope. You walk in front of it and there is King’s statue.

The way you approach the WWII Memorial is pretty powerful.

FDR Memorial – As we arrived at the FDR Memorial, Holly told me that all Roosevelt really wanted was a park bench. He ended up receiving a literal park that uses its vast space to chronicle FDR’s four terms.

He wanted a bench and got a park.

Jefferson Monument – My dad and I missed out on visiting the Jefferson Monument during our trip. Holly took me to it and as we drew close I realized that although I had seen the exterior of the monument before in pop culture, I had no idea what was exactly inside. When we entered, I was surprised by the towering statue of Thomas Jefferson.

I had to include a couple photos from two different angles. I had no idea that the Jefferson statue was so large and impressive.

The White House – Because 9/11 was still fresh during my first visit to D.C., my dad and I couldn’t get that close. With Holly as my tour guide, we were able to basically walk right up to the fence. As I peered in, I couldn’t help but think, I wonder what President Biden is doing?

I had never seen the White House up close before.

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It was past 11 p.m. when I hopped on an Uber to take me back to my hotel. As I rode back, I reflected on what a peaceful and relaxing tour it was. Thanks to Holly for providing me the perfect way to conclude my AMA experience! Don’t Blink.

Monument Thursday Rundown

Good evening, everyone. I am back in Spokane as I try to re-acclimate to the Pacific time zone after a few days in Washington D.C. Although a little groggy, I think I do have the energy for a Thursday Rundown…

School Portrait – Sloan recently brought home her individual school photos. I am unable to download a digital file so this version taken from one of the hard copies will have to do. My 5-year-old daughter is getting older but she still has her unmistakable curly hair and that mischievous grin.

This is Sloan’s kindergarten school photo.

D.C. Night Tour – I was able to escape the conference hotel for a bit on Tuesday night. I ventured to the heart of Washington D.C. where I was given a night tour of the monuments. I will write more about this next week but I wanted to point out now that a history buff like myself didn’t squander the opportunity to explore our nation’s capital.

I took this photo, along with many others, on Tuesday night. I can’t wait to show more from my night tour in a post next week.

Special Visitor – We are blessed to have my mother-in-law currently in town with us. She flew to Spokane last Friday to visit and to assist while I was out of town. I think we were all pleased that our first snow of the season has coincided with her stay. There is nothing like experiencing the white stuff when you live in a climate that rarely sees it!

Brenda surprised Sloan when we picked her up from school last Friday.

Spokane From Above – As my flight descended on Spokane yesterday, we took a unique route. Because of the way the wind was blowing, the pilot took us for a cruise over the city, something that usually does not happen. What a treat it was. With a dusting of snow and the sun shining, Spokane sure looked gorgeous. I had an unobstructed window seat that allowed me to identify as many landmarks as possible. When we flew over the Shadle area, the famous water tower sure stood out.

I took this photo from my seat window as we flew over Spokane. Can you see the Shadle water tower?

Gourmet Mac and Cheese – How do you make an impostor upscale macaroni and cheese? Well, this was how I did it last week: I cooked some generic Great Value macaroni and cheese. I then added crushed Ritz crackers, melted shreds of string cheese, and salt/pepper. It sure hit the spot.

This was my “gourmet” mac and cheese.

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Off to spend time with my wife, children, and mother-in-law! Thanks for reading Don’t Blink and make sure to thank a veteran tomorrow. Don’t Blink.

AMA 2022: Presenting With New Friends

What an hour it was. Yesterday afternoon, I stood on stage with some special colleagues and presented to a crowded conference room at the American Marketing Association’s Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Ed. For 60 minutes, we had the undivided attention of our fellow higher education marketers as we poured out our TikTok expertise and experiences.

As we concluded our presentation and conference attendees swarmed us up front to ask questions, the satisfaction of that particular moment was savored. We had successfully presented to a large group of dedicated higher ed professionals and made the most of our time on stage. However, the presentation itself wasn’t necessarily what brought me the most pride. Rather, it was the process that led us to that opportunity and the relationships that were forged.

The four of us were all smiles after we presented at the American Marketing Association’s Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Ed in National Harbor (from l-r: Me, Katie Camacho Smith, Victoria Mendoza, Andy Thompson).

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Over the past several months, I have had the pleasure of working with Victoria “V.” Mendoza from USC, Andy Thompson from the University of Utah, and Katie Camacho Smith from TikTok. After receiving notice back in the spring that our speaking proposal (#LearnOnTikTok: Higher Ed Strategies) had been accepted by AMA, we “met” for the first time on August 5. Of course I use quotation marks because that initial meeting—and all subsequent ones—would be held via Zoom.

Before I got my AMA credential badge earlier this week, a lot of work was devoted toward our session in the months prior.

Although V., Andy, and I knew of each other, that early August meeting was the first time we truly worked together in earnest. During that initial Zoom call we planted the seeds for what our presentation could become. From that point forward we met pretty regularly, basically once every couple weeks. Our presentation went from a concept to an outline to an actual Powerpoint. When we weren’t meeting on Zoom, the three of us were collaborating on our working files within Google Drive.

At the beginning of October, a very fortunate development occurred. Our efforts to include someone from TikTok materialized. In fact, V. received notice of our new group member as the three of us were in the middle of one of our Zoom meetings. Katie Camacho-Smith, head of the TikTok “EduTok” vertical, was on board to present with us!

Katie’s presence immediately added credibility and a new level of intrigue to our presentation. The four of us worked together to instill Katie’s material into our Powerpoint. We really have content that AMA attendees will crave, we thought.

As late October and early November arrived, we started to put the bow on our presentation. Katie made an intro TikTok video (watch here), we submitted our final Powerpoint slides to AMA, and we participated in a Zoom dry run. It was then time to fly to Washington D.C.!

Our TikTok intro video used the “Full House” trend. Give it a watch!

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I met Andy first. My flight itinerary to D.C. called for a layover in Salt Lake City and Andy was on my connecting flight. Once we landed at Reagan Airport, we Ubered together to the conference site—the Gaylord National Resort in National Harbor, Md. We would meet V. in-person that night and Katie the following morning.

I got to hang with V. and Andy in-person for the first time on Sunday night. After working together for several months on a virtual basis, it was awesome to visit in-person.

A major highlight of the conference was hanging with Andy, V., and Katie. We enjoyed conference meals together, mingled at the reception events, and promoted our session to the many attendees we would meet. We also managed to find a random spot in a hallway to rehearse our presentation the day before.

On Monday, the four of us found a random spot in one of the resort’s hallways to rehearse.

When our presentation drew near on Tuesday afternoon, the four of us walked together from lunch to the conference room (this was it….eeeeeek!). We met with the AV professional who mic’d us up, tested our audio, and allowed us to become familiar with the presentation clicker. The four of us were ready to do this…together.

This was the sign that greeted attendees of our session. We presented “#LearnOnTikTok: Higher Ed Strategies” at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.

As I chronicled at the beginning of this post, we survived the presentation. Nah, we didn’t just survive it—we rocked it. After we had finished answering the many questions from the attendees who approached us near the stage at the presentation’s conclusion, we took some time to document the moment. The four of us took some group photos, including an epic shot on the main AMA stage. Katie, Andy, and I would reunite later that night for the closing reception before going our separate ways.

The four of us took advantage of the opportunity to hop on the main AMA stage and take a photo together after we finished our presentation. What an experience!

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Undoubtedly, what I will remember most from this experience was how four people came together for a common goal. It didn’t matter that we came from four different states or had different employers. Nor did it matter that we had different professional experiences and different management/workflow styles (I was the OCD/annoying Type A personality…sorry team!). What mattered was that the four of us wanted to work together for the benefit of our fellow higher ed marketers and perhaps for the internal professional challenge as well.

I left D.C. with more than a solidified professional relationship with three talented colleagues; I departed with three new friends. Thanks V., Andy, and Katie. Don’t Blink.

Constraint Breeds Creativity

As I write tonight, I am looking out at the majestic Potomac River on a beautiful sunny evening in National Harbor, Md. It has been a packed day at the American Marketing Association’s Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Ed. I have learned a lot but perhaps the best lesson from today came from the morning’s keynote speaker/bestselling author Andrew Davis.

As I write this, I am looking out my hotel window at the Potomac River.

Perhaps his message resonated with me so much because it doesn’t have to be marketing-specific. Trust me, I am a marketing nerd who enjoys concepts that only people in my field would find remotely interesting. But I also appreciate marketing principles that transcend concepts such as ROI, KPI, and CPC. Truthfully, I have a soft spot for marketing lessons that can be applied to everyday life.

Andrew Davis is brilliant! (photo is courtesy of his Twitter account….@DrewDavisIsHere)

Today, Andrew Davis introduced the Cube of Creativity. Its overlying message was that constraint breeds creativity. In a marketing industry and in a society where unlimited budgets, excess, bells and whistles, complexities, and add-ons run supreme, his message was different…but refreshing.

Davis’ Cube of Creativity was born out of the pandemic but its components might be even more necessary in present day. Whether you want to run a marketing campaign, throw a party, get in shape, beautify your lawn, or start a podcast, his four-step model can help you. It’s tenets are…

1. Stop all non-critical work activities – Eliminate the unnecessary
2. Define the outcome – Which single result defines success?
3. Limit the options – What unreasonable limitations can we apply to whatever project we are working on?
4. Raise the stakes – What will happen if we do not achieve the outcome?

A photo I took this morning of Andrew Davis entering his physical Cube of Creativity.

These four components are meant to cut down on waste and lead to activation. You want to get in shape? Who says you need a year to do it at a fancy gym? Couldn’t you set parameters based on a 6-week program that you do at your home?

Or who says you need to plan out a whole year of content for a podcast and meticulously shop around for the best podcasting platform before you begin? Couldn’t you, um, just give it a shot?

And do you really need a couple weeks to prep and prepare for a dinner party with your neighbors? Couldn’t you just send them an invite on Thursday and host them on Friday?

In life, long-term planning is necessary. However, what if we don’t have the luxury of time? Do we just throw in the towel? No. As Andrew suggests, you might have to kill a couple of current projects if it means achieving the objective that is currently most important. We can’t let our “business as usual” routines prevent us from achieving crucial goals.

Thanks to AMA for inviting Andrew Davis to this year’s symposium. His advice can be practiced both within our jobs and outside of the office. Don’t Blink.