Welcome to the April edition. 2019 seems to be ripping by. Thought you might like to see my revised and updated brief on Profiles In Failure, and my

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Welcome to the April edition. 2019 seems to be ripping by.

Thought you might like to see my revised and updated brief on Profiles In Failure, and my instructional piece , The Perfect Apology. Mr. Barr will need both.

The non-release of the Mueller report by US Attorney General Barr, and his intention for perhaps extensive redaction sets up what is usually a public relations catastrophe. In this case it would appear that 90% of Americans want to see the whole report released. Failure to do this is likely to cause a communication conflagration in legacy and social media.

As we've seen with other cabinet members notably the Secretary of Education, last week, the president has a bus warmed up and waiting to run Cabinet Secretaries over when their actions cause controversy and distraction for his boss.

Whatever Barr says will become his “verbal vegetables.” He and his boss will be eating his words for a long time. It is up to Mr. Barr to make a strategy of silence, delay, denial, redaction and blame shifting work. Good luck with that. Your bus is waiting Mr. Barr.


Profiles in Failure: Behavior Patterns That Precipitate and Perpetuate Trouble

Sometimes the only way to help organizations avoid embarrassment, humiliating visibility, enormous litigation, and just plain stupidity is to illustrate dramatically the pattern of behaviors and attitudes that lead to catastrophic reputational trouble. I call this pattern “Profiles in Failure.” These behaviors can be easily recognized, and their impact predicted. If you are looking for trouble, here’s the pathway to quickly multitask your way into long-term difficulty and, if you are the leader, unemployment.


The Perfect Apology

The most powerful action in reputation recovery and rehabilitation is to apologize. If you want or need forgiveness, you’ll need to apologize. “Wait a minute,” you say, “The lawyers won’t ever let me apologize.” Well, let’s talk about apology, understand it, and then we’ll get back to the attorneys.

Management avoids apologizing by using an amazing array of avoidance strategies. There’s self-forgiveness: “It’s an industry problem, we’re not the only ones,” “Let’s not blow this out of proportion.” There’s self-talk: “It’s only an isolated incident,” “It’s never happened before,” “Not very many were involved,” and “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.”


Five Things I learned About Myself in an Hour with Jim Lukaszewski


Going into my meeting with Jim Lukaszewski, I assumed it would be similar to the rest of my most recent interviews. I prepared answers to questions such as to why I chose to study psychology, why I chose to apply for an internship in public relations with my psychology major, what some of my past experiences were that provided me experience I need to succeed in this role, what I hope to learn and accomplish in this internship position, and what some of my future goals are within the public relations field. Very soon into the meeting, I realized it was going be different than I had expected.

We sat down for my interview and Jim started sharing his life story with me. My immediate thought was ‘this is a nice change of pace’ in comparison to my past interviews were I was drilled with back-to-back with questions by a straight-faced interviewer for a solid twenty or thirty minutes, so I listened. I learned about what colleges he attended, where he worked in his earlier years, that he met his wife when he was in high school and they are still married, that he lived in New York for many years, and that he is currently back in his home state to continue to work under someone else’s business. During his bio, I noted that Jim cares to be known by the events and accomplishments in his past to describe where his work and reputation lie today as well as to express where his career goals continue to grow. This was the first thing he taught me about myself: I learn more while listening than talking.

From there, Jim began to review my resume. He acknowledged my psychology degree but took special notice of my neuroscience background. I soon learned that his niece has a graduate degree in neuroscience and was proud to share that she recently got a job at the University of Minnesota. After briefly reviewing the first job listed on my resume, he asked the question, “what did you do in this role?” and in that moment, he taught me a second thing: I don’t give myself enough credit. He wanted to know exactly what I did as an individual during my experiential and leadership roles and to elaborate on them, rather than limiting my expertise to the job title or its summarization in terms of our responsibilities within the role.

He then asked me what I wanted him to know about myself. In the moment that I could have shared my entire life story, but I didn’t. I didn’t share it because I wasn’t sure what was relevant to the position, and more importantly, to Jim. I told him I decided on the University of Minnesota to study psychology because I always knew I wanted to work with and help people. I also told him that I chose to start applying for public relations roles because I found an interest in the field during my past leadership roles. He told me that at the end of everyday, he has his intern answer one of five questions in a notebook for both him and the intern to later look back upon. These questions were not only for reflection, but also a critical thinking exercise. The questions were geared towards making sure all learning opportunities were taken advantage of in a day’s work. This is when I learned the third thing about myself: I don’t challenge myself intellectually enough.

When Jim started reviewing some of the job’s responsibilities and example work of his expectations for me in the role, I was first confused about why there was a bound manual on how to do everything correctly. As soon as he opened it up to an index to find the exact page he wanted to take me to, I learned that this manual was my dream come true. I often consider myself a creative thinker with a difficulty to abide by routine and micromanagement. However, sharing this highly thought-out and perfectly organized binder with me was reassuring in the strangest way. It gave me a sense of security with the job duties in the potential situation that if there weren’t someone directly able to help me perform a task perfectly, I would have my own resource to complete it. This was the fourth thing he taught me about myself: it’s okay to be a little wild-minded and perfectionist at the same time.

Nearing the end of our meeting, Jim asked me two of the five questions he asks his interns to answer everyday. When he asked me what I learned so far today, and I responded with an answer about how his line of work is so helpful to people of many sorts, which I find both interesting and inspiring. He then asked me another question regarding what questions I had that were left unanswered. This one I had to ponder. Jim had run me through his life story, his accomplishments and goals, and his expectations. I wasn’t sure at the time what else I wanted to know. I answered with my curiosity, stating that I want to know more about his exact work. I want to see what its like to work with a company in crisis and experience how Jim is able to teach and guide them through something so catastrophic, with ease. This is where I discovered the fifth thing I learned about myself: my curiosity is occasionally distracting. I am easily intrigued and may get lost in thought before thinking ahead when given clues. Even though Jim had clearly introduced me to the five questions he asks his intern to answer everyday, I didn’t think ahead to the possibility that he would ask me right there in my meeting with him. I was too distracted by my curiosity in wondering why he does the things he does and how they have made him so successful over the years.

Meeting Jim Lukaszewski was incredibly different than I was expecting. I felt our conversation was enlightening, yet challenging. He has an inspiring regard for education and work ethic. In such a short amount of time, his expertise taught me five things about myself that I hadn’t necessarily pinpointed before. He got me to think critically about how I think and work in different settings, and how I think and speak about myself. I feel that this internship would give me an unbelievable level of learning experience with understanding people, communication, the public eye, professionalism and perspective taking in public relations. Jim’s incredible dedication to crisis management and service to his clients is something I find not only inspiring, but also contagious.


2019 Upcoming Appearances

April 16th, 2019: 1:00pm CT - Kirtley Ethics Class, University of Minnesota:

April 18th, 2019: 12:00pm ET - IABC Circle of Fellows Podcast, Episode 44 - Get Off the Sidelines and Into the Game www.iabc.com/category/podcasts

May 3rd, 2019: 8th Annual APS PIO Symposium – Tempe, Arizona

May 16th, 2019: 12:00pm ET - IABC Circle of Fellows Podcast, Episode 45, Consumer Activism: The risks and rewards to your company’s reputation www.iabc.com/category/podcasts

May 23rd, 2019: IEEE WIE International Leadership Conference. Austin, Texas. Take Charge of Your Career and Destiny http://ieee-wie-ilc.org/

October 17th, 2019: 12:00pm ET - IABC Circle of Fellows Podcast, Episode 50, Shaping the consultant/client relationship www.iabc.com/category/podcasts

December 19th, 2019: 12:00pm ET - IABC Circle of Fellows Podcast, Episode 52, The mutual benefits of being an effective adviser and coach www.iabc.com/category/podcasts