About Paula Kiger

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

When private words become public

When private words become public

COMPROMISE

I don’t really know what this has to do with compromise, but it’s on my heart so here goes.

There are some types of compromise in this world that are the right thing to do. There are others that are not.

Recently, I read a blog post that had some points I agreed with, but the title, for lack of a better word, painted all people of a certain ethnicity into one particular stereotype.

I hemmed and hawed for a few days about this. I said something about it on Twitter, and someone I respect and admire reminded me that civil discourse matters.

When the individual had posted their blog to one channel, everyone had agreed with the individual’s viewpoint. My decision to take a civil approach was to send a private message.

The response back was snide, dismissive, accusatory and belittling.

I replied back with a civil but brief reply. I thought the situation was over. The individual definitely did not have to agree with me. It was their blog after all!

I revisited their profile a few days later because I was still interested in their work (which is in the diversity field). Lo and behold they had posted my initial message (without identifying me). All they said besides posting my message was “No.”

Here’s the thing. I said what I said. I didn’t plan for it to be made public, but I don’t write things without knowing in the back of my mind they *could* be made public.

I responded to each person (and ALL of the comments were negative toward my message) to the degree possible (except the truly obnoxious ones — there’s no response adequate in that situation). I gave my email address publicly to engage in a dialogue that would hopefully be more constructive than adversarial.

***end of five minutes***

Ultimately, the person who originally posted my message left a lengthy comment and said they were “not going to spend any more emotional labor” on me.

Here’s the thing. If my words are shared in a way that threatens to compromise my integrity, the most human thing I know to do is to account for those words.

Unfortunately, the lesson I learned was that not everyone is willing to do that. And no matter how much life experience you have, that can still be a tough relationship truth to accept.

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” (But I can’t resist spell checking, as you can imagine.) 

When private words become public

4 ways you can help improve global health

I spent part of this weekend participating in the RESULTS International Conference.

The conference was originally planned for Washington, D.C., but as with so many other plans, the pandemic forced a change of venue. I’m not sure I would have been able to go if travel had been involved, so I saw this as an opportunity to participate I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Today, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, spoke to us about how we can all have a role in shaping the future, especially when it comes to global health. Many of his comments (especially “COVID politics should be quarantined”) pertained to the pandemic, but they also apply to global health more broadly.

4 ways you can help improve global health

Here’s the 4-step action plan he recommends:

Continue advocating for more investment

There are a variety of types of investment that can make a difference for global health. Examples include the World Health Organization itself. President Trump has said he intends to withdraw US funding from the WHO, although it remains to be seen exactly how that will play out. Other organizations that make a difference include The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

Fight misinformation

Misinformation is confusing at a minimum and could cost people their lives at the worst extreme. Learn more from this Columbia Journalism Review article, which outlines why misinformation is so dangerous. Learn more about taking an active role in combating misinformation here (I am signed up and looking forward to the next steps).

Support accelerated innovation

The WHO has a research and development blueprint that has been activated to try to speed a reliable remedy for helping people recover from (and keep from being infected with) COVID-19. Learn more here.

Advocate for national unity and global solidarity

The 800+ RESULTS advocates were not all in the same room for Dr. Ghebreyesus’ speech, but in my head (and heart), I feel like every one of us stood up and cheered when he said this, perhaps not literally, but the sentiment was there.

Dr. Ghebreyesus went on to say, referring back to the potential of the US withdrawing funding from WHO, “It’s not the money. It’s the relationship with the US that matters, as it can lead to more money. When the US is generous, it gives hope to others. When others are safe, the US is safe.

4 ways you can help improve global health
My screen capture skills need a little work, but I wanted to catch a memory of this moment.

I appreciate the opportunity to hear Dr. Ghebreyesus speak. The last thing he said was that number four (about the solidarity) should be number one.

I agree, and I’m ready to do my part! If you want to learn more about RESULTS, please visit this link.

I’m linking up with the Kat Bouska prompt to write about “Something someone said recently that made you think.”

4 ways you can help improve global health

How small things can make a difference

How small things can make a difference

HOW

I love these women at Gadsden Correctional Facility (GCF). I have been part of a group that has held running and training events with them since 2012 (!).

So much has changed since then. I am no longer able to run, but I go and do the events and either walk or volunteer. There’s always a job to do or a conversation to hold — these people truly don’t care how long it takes me to cover a walked or run distance.

Our group received an update from our staff contact at GCF recently. We had all been worried about COVID-19, especially based on what we were learning from newspaper reports.

There was COVID-19 at the facility, but we learned that the women who are involved in the facility’s programs are back in their regular dorms and participating in their regular routines. (I don’t really know what that means for the facility as a whole — I imagine there is still exposure there, but it sounds like, in general, they have things under control. I hope so.)

Our group asked if we could contribute a banner to hang on the fence by the field where they run so they would know we are thinking of them.

Our leader shared his email about their condition and his response to the idea of a banner. He said, “always remember the smallest things matter to these ladies.”

And those few words — “always remember the smallest things matter to these ladies” — have stuck in my mind ever since I read them.

This is a time in our nation (and world) where we often feel at odds for how to help.

Although there are VERY big things that need to be done to set our world on the right track, it’s important to remember that “the smallest things matter.” That applies whether our prison is one of literal bars and security measures or one built from our own insecurities and inadequacies.

How small things can make a difference

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” (But I can’t resist spell checking, as you can imagine.) 

How small things can make a difference

Doing what’s right and being human: SmartBrief May 2020

The first Sunday of every month, I share my favorite SmartBrief stories from the prior month. The timing is a little odd this month, since the first Sunday occurs when a full week has already gone by. Because the first week of June was such a monumental one for our nation, and for the nonprofit sector, I have already accumulated stories I plan to use when I write my June wrapup on July 5.

One of the benefits of doing things the same way every month, though, is having a little time capsule of what transpired. In that spirit, I’m sharing my favorite stories from May (with one exception).

Business Transformation SmartBrief

In the May 8 issue of this newsletter, we shared a story about takeaways leaders can gain from the pandemic. One of the story’s points was how it can be effective for job-hunters and others in need of connection to ask for “warm introductions” from people in your network if you’re job-hunting during a pandemic. The story has to do with a lesson Ryan Smith, Qualtrics CEO, learned during the previous economic crisis. Conclusion: “The lesson here is if you do what’s right, it may pay off 10x down the line.”

BoardSource SmartBrief

It’s almost quaint how the pandemic seemed like our only and biggest problem on May 11. But it certainly was front and center in many of the stories across my eight briefs. I did not know about Sean Penn’s charity, CORE, what it did in Haiti, or the topic this story addressed: how he made sure so many people in California were able to be tested for COVID-19. The organization, at the time of the story, said it planned to expand the drive-through testing beyond California, to make sure rural areas were covered, and to serve the Navajo Nation reservation too.

National Association of Social Workers SmartBrief

In the May 15 issue, we shared a story in which a social worker discussed the challenges of doing their job while wearing personal protective equipment.

“As the hospital eventually required us to wear PPE when meeting with patients, I found myself trying to convey empathy from behind a mask. My job involves talking to people who are in a very delicate state, especially now. Day in and day out, I hoped that these patients were able to feel my empathy through my body language and tone of voice, since they were not able to see my expression behind the mask.”

I related to this social worker’s concerns.

Public Safety SmartBrief (National Emergency Number Association)

I’m not exaggerating when I say “I love dispatchers.” I had an appreciation for them before I started editing this newsletter, but now I think they are absolute heroes. An article in the May 5 issue was part of a trio of pieces that explained the changes dispatchers have experienced due to the pandemic, both regarding the volume of calls and the way they do their work. “We’re not very comfortable sitting at home,” said one. This does not surprise me at all.

Reserve Officers Association SmartBrief

I’ve read multiple “deployment ceremony” stories since I began editing this newsletter in September 2018. This one in the May 6 issue had a pandemic twist: although there were 130 service members being deployed, the ceremony was a “rolling farewell” and the governor, who attended to see them off, said he was “really sorry I can’t shake all your hands.” This was probably a good logistical choice, but I felt for these service members not being able to share the moment together.

Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Honorary, SmartBrief

I will often go to a scientist’s own website when reading a story for the Sigma Xi newsletter. Ostensibly, it’s to check that I’m spelling their name right or to see if they are on social media (sometimes I share the stories I’m editing via Twitter and/or Instagram). There’s a scientist, Tim Bedding, whose research was featured in our May 18 issue. His research charted the “heartbeats” of 60 pulsating stars.

But that isn’t the main thing that got that story to this point. It was the fact that his website contains a link to pictures of his kids. I love anything that gives the people behind these stories more dimensions than a passing mention in an article can provide.

UN Wire SmartBrief

I learned a new word from the May 11 issue. The word is “renovictions” and it means when a company “purchases apartment blocks, often with tenants already living in them, and then undertakes renovations to communal areas and vacant apartments within the block, regardless of need.” Renovictions. They sound dreadful and unfair.

International City/County Management Association SmartBrief

I’m doing something different with this final share of the post. It’s not a story that ran in May. It’s not a story that has run yet. It’s a story slated for the June 8 issue, which will be published tomorrow.

It’s a story no one could have anticipated when May started, but that, in my opinion, is the story that speaks most eloquently to our time.

In the June 8 issue, readers will see that Washington, D.C. added a street mural reading “Black Lives Matter” that covers two city blocks with massive letters on a road leading to the White House.

Photo credit: Unknown

I’m also proud to work for a place where our CEO said at the beginning of last week, “We have never made a political statement … and we’re not making one now, this is a fundamental truth – black lives matter.” I agree with her and it matters to me to be part of a company that feels that way. It’s an important place to start, even though every company, every organization, every city, every town, every institution and every individual who does not have lived experience as a black person has work to do. A great statement is only a starting place, and we each have to take responsibility for being true to that promising start.

Working at Future/SmartBrief

Each month, I share the open positions at SmartBrief and Future for anyone who is interested in being a part of finding and sharing stories through business-to-business newsletters.

wrote in more detail about my experience as a SmartBrief employee here, which may help answer any questions you have. As always, I’m happy to answer inquiries and provide more information about the process.

Open positions at SmartBrief and Future plc can be found at this link. As of this writing, the most recent position listed is this Senior Sales Development Manager position in our New York City office. If you are interested in applying, please list me as your referrer or email me so we can discuss further.

To subscribe to one (or more) SmartBrief newsletters, including the “end of the work day” While You Were Working, for which I am a contributing editor, click here. We’re also still producing a brief specific to COVID-19 on Tuesdays and Fridays, and you can subscribe to it here.

If you aren’t in a subscribing mood, you can still keep up with us at the site of our parent company, Future; on FacebookSmartBrief TwitterLeadership SmartBrief TwitterLinkedIn and SmartBrief Instagram.

This is an older picture (from my first visit to our Washington, D.C., office in January 2019 — the appearance of this entrance has changed since then). But I still like it, because I was so happy to meet everyone in person. And I imagine it will be a good sign for our world when the doors greet employees again after a long period of working from home.

*The views expressed here are my personal opinion and not those of my employer.

Goodbye to a true-blue vehicle

I bought a new (to me) car yesterday.

I’m so excited about the new car, partially because I’ve been enduring a car without air conditioning through three long Tallahassee summers. That’s not the only problem with the car, but arriving at events with melted makeup and clothes stuck to my skin had grown old and uncomfortable.

Before celebrating that car, though, the car it’s replacing deserves a proper sendoff.

My 2005 Honda CR-V, which I got in 2008, had 45,768 miles on it at the time and is now 300 miles away from having 200,000.

Our Odyssey died unceremoniously one day in 2008 when I was driving down I-10. Wayne had just gotten approved for financing to get a vehicle of his own, but once our family workhorse had been declared terminal, we ended up needing two vehicles for the financing that was intended to cover one.

We got both of them from our credit union’s buying service. He got a 2006 Chevrolet Silverado. I got the CR-V. I don’t remember much discussion at all about the cosmetics. I did know in advance that it was blue. All that mattered (pretty much) was that it would run.

And run it did.

There are so many memories in that car:

Goodbye to a true-blue vehicle
A Monster energy drink sticker can only mean “Wayne Kevin was here” (years ago)

Multiple trips taking kids to school.

A trip the kids and I took to Kennedy Space Center and Cypress Springs.

The kids using it as *their* first car when they began driving.

Me backing into a pole at the Subway on Tennessee Street after taking Tenley to a college visit at FSU.

Goodbye to a true-blue vehicle

One child (won’t single them out) having their first accident in the car.

Me thinking the Idiots Running Club seriously meant we had to use our last names when we got our IRC decals made.

Goodbye to a true-blue vehicle

Many trips taking my father-in-law to doctor’s appointments, to his beloved afternoons at the bar, to radiation treatments. I never figured out how to get this visor to stay in the “up” position once the spring broke, which was frustrating. At the time, there was some kind of “as seen on TV” product that WAS a car visor. He would say, “you ought to get that.” And I would kind of blow it off, but he was actually right. This problem was probably easily fixed, but we were pretty deep into the challenge of dealing with debt at the time, and I just couldn’t muster the energy (or finances) to pursue fixing something that seemed like a relatively minor issue.

Goodbye to a true-blue vehicle

The paint slowly getting so degraded that the paint job looked just as resigned as I did about the car’s appearance.

Goodbye to a true-blue vehicle

I was always relieved that I ended up loving this car, which I didn’t test drive and didn’t have much to do with choosing, so much. I’m pretty sure I treasured this car more than Wayne loved the truck he bought in the same transaction.

I never gave it a name, but maybe “True Blue” would be a fit. It got me through 12 years safely and mostly reliably. The air conditioning pooped out the last few years, but it was always a cool car.

Thank you, True Blue. You served me well.

Goodbye to a true-blue vehicle

I’m linking up with Kat Bouska’s blog for the prompt “Tell us about the last thing you purchased.”

This is the time to be forward

This is the time to be forward

FORWARD

Being “forward” in the sense of speaking up first, taking a risk, not sitting back to hear other opinions before expressing mine, does not come naturally to me.

Maybe it shouldn’t.

There’s something to be said in this world for the tendency many of us introverts have to process lots of information, take time to formulate our stance, and craft whatever we are going to say or write.

But I feel awash in a world of “forward” people.

I think it’s the “instant” nature of social media that makes this feeling of being awash so potent right now. Maybe the closed-in situation created by the pandemic too.

We sit at our keyboards, watching issues like the Amy Cooper/Christian Cooper confrontation and the killing of George Floyd, seeing social media explode with outrage, premature conclusions (sometimes) and lives being changed rapidly (or in Floyd’s case, lives being ended) and we don’t know what to do.

I think the people in our history who ended up making a difference — bigger names such as Malcolm X and Andrew Goodman and less well-known changemakers didn’t do so by not being forward, brash, courageous, brave.

So much of the discourse I’ve read over the last couple of days (and a little bit of the opining I have shared) had to do with what we teach at home. I do believe that creating a less racist world depends (in part) on what we teach at home and how we raise our kids.

I also know hate-filled people have emerged from homes where acceptance and love for one’s fellow humans were taught and demonstrated.

Somehow, we have to teach our children (and ourselves) to be forward in the moments when it matters, to call out racism when it is tempting to stay silent — when the relative makes the racist joke, when they post the meme that stereotypes and degrades.

There are times to be forward, and we’re going to have plenty of them in the near future.

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” (But I can’t resist spell checking, as you can imagine.) 

This is the time to be forward

WestPhillyAuthor: My writing inspiration

WestPhillyAuthor: My writing inspiration

I am thrilled to welcome Gerald Jackson, known as West Philly Author on social media, to share a guest post. I heard him read his book, “A Father’s Message,” on the Philadelphia Parks Alliance Readalong, and I wanted to know more about how he came to write the book. He tells the story best:

I never knew the title “author” would one day be a name associated with me. Little did I know my story would be able to connect to so many. It all started in a single-parent home, my mother, brother, and me. That’s right, someone was missing, and that person was my father.

My father was out of the house before I could remember. As the days went on, the void grew stronger. I struggled with knowing that my father knew I existed and knew where I lived, but still didn’t make it a priority to be there. I was crushed and did not know how to handle my emotions. For me, all I really wanted was for my father to play an active role in my life. I wanted a childhood filled with memories of my father to pass down. Instead, I was left with days feeling all alone praying one day my father would come around and knock on my door. The sad truth was days turned into months and months turned into years. What I became used to was times when my father would pop up out of the blue and before I knew it, he would again disappear.

I tried to keep myself busy playing sports to ease the pain. I played little league football in my community but felt like the only kid on the field without their father around to cheer their child on. So, I didn’t go back the next year. Next, I tried swimming my freshman year in high school and really enjoyed it. My neighbor, who was like a father figure to me, came to see me swim one day and I was smiling from ear to ear. I felt for once in my life somebody other than my mother cared. Unfortunately, the next year my swim team switched practice location, and it was too far for my mom to make the travel commitment. So, I decided to quit the team because I didn’t want to put a burden on my mother. My neighbor and uncle were the consistent men in my life, but still couldn’t replace the void I was feeling. I found myself putting barriers up to prevent getting let down. Honestly, what I was doing was making matters worse and harder to ignore the pain.

One day I had enough and could not handle the void I was feeling. I wanted to throw in the towel and call it quits. Yes, I was about to end my life. I thought if I committed suicide that would be a sure way to end the pain. In that moment I heard a voice saying, “all this time you are looking for a physical father, you have a spiritual father who has never left your side”.

Now, things didn’t change overnight but that night something did change. From that day forward I knew I was never alone and that was enough for me to keep going. I no longer looked at my situation as a failure. In fact, God has opened my eyes to see my situation as a blessing. I believe God gave me this test to share with the world. I wouldn’t even have a story to tell if my upbringing was different. I never had a vision of becoming an “Author” and reading or writing wasn’t my strength in school (that’s why we need editors in this world).

I started to look at things from this angle, my message wasn’t just for me, it’s bigger than me. So, it was imperative to share my message so every child who needs to hear it has the opportunity. I would have failed if I didn’t share the message given to me. Initially we don’t know what comes from sharing our story, but one thing for certain we all know what happens when we don’t.

Now, I stand before you as an independent author who wrote a children’s book titled “A Father’s Message” to encourage children to know they are never alone and to let them know their situation may start one way but it doesn’t have to end that way. “A Father’s Message” provides life lessons that give strength and encouragement throughout this journey called life.

Your favorite @WestPhillyAuthor,

Gerald L. Jackson

Here’s WestPhillyAuthor reading his book:

To get a copy of your own, visit this link.

And to learn more about WestPhillyAuthor, here are his links:

Website

Facebook

Instagram

WestPhillyAuthor: My writing inspiration

Thank you, WestPhillyAuthor, for sharing your story and your book!

A mistake that made things better

A mistake that made things better

These are not normal times, and the Army’s 54th Quartermaster Company does not have a normal assignment. Members of the unit, which does mortuary services, have been serving in New York City, assisting the NYC Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) with managing tasks related to casualties of COVID-19.

Last week, I shared a story about the company’s work in the Reserve Officers Association newsletter, which I edit. The story came from the Army Reserve News Articles, and we try to feature stories about the Reserve and the National Guard when at all possible (as opposed to active-duty service members).

One thing I loved about this story was the fact that a health care provider is making therapy dogs available to the company’s members. Their work is grueling, and the animals provide needed support.

That evening, I posted the story to my Facebook and tagged the company. I did that mainly because I often post stories about “dispatch puppies,” dogs adopted by emergency services units to help dispatchers deal with their stress.

The dispatch world has been pretty light on puppy stories lately, so I shared the story about the 54th Quartermaster Company because at least it mentioned therapy dogs.

The next morning, I had a message from the company clarifying that they are an active-service unit, not a Reserve unit. The source article we had summarized was incorrect.

That left me with a quandary. I could theoretically just leave our publication alone, except for making a correction in the archived copy. Our copy desk chief suggested I do a correction also (so that readers of our next issue will know we made the change).

I have a couple of thoughts to share about how all of this happened.

First, I appreciate the conversation I had with the copy desk editor. She said sharing this kind of story demonstrates that we care about our work on a personal level in addition to an editorial level (this is true for me).

Second, the conversation I had with the communications person for the company brought tears to my eyes amid pandemic craziness. After I had apologized for the error and explained what I planned to do to fix it, this was the response:

No, thank you ma’am for highlighting the work that has been accomplished here in NYC! Overall [it’s] a whole-of-government approach that regardless of component or agency we all have a shared understanding about the ultimate goal: Assist a beleaguered city in their time of need!

Member of the 54th Quartermaster Company

That service member saved the day by bringing the error to light. More than that, the unit is doing their part to save the dignity of those who have passed from COVID-19 and to support a city I love.

A mistake that made things better
A memory from a 2012 walk across the Brooklyn Bridge

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” (But I can’t resist spell checking, as you can imagine.) I also threw out the five-minute rule for this one!

I’m also linking up to Kat Bouska’s blog for the prompt “Share a story about someone who ‘saved the day’ for you.”

A mistake that made things better

Mom would tell me to refrain from…

Mom would tell me to refrain from...

REFRAIN

On this Mother’s Day, I’m thinking of things my mom would have asked me to refrain from. (I realize this graphic probably means for us to write about musical refrains, but I’m doing something else.)

I’ve been grappling with the challenge of being respectful and responsive on social media, both on my personal blog and professionally.

On my personal blog, I wrote something I believe wholeheartedly that many people took exception to. I wake up every morning and check the comments to see what new thought has been shared, holding my breath a little bit as the site comes up. I’ve gotten 28 comments. A reporter who wrote beautifully about the same topic (apologies – paywall) has gotten 1,000+, and the comments on her post are brutal. I don’t have it so bad, but I think on balance my mom would have suggested I refrain from writing about the topic at all.

In addition, a reader of one of the publications I edit made a comment on Twitter that worked its way all the way up to a senior leader at my organization. The leader was even-handed in their response, but I still felt the heavy weight of a reader’s disapproval for days. My wise boss simply reminded me that we put out a good product (true) and that you can’t make everyone happy (also true). My mom probably would tell me to refrain from checking that reader’s Twitter stream so much to see if they say anything else. My mom would probably be right. (The irony, though, is that I can tell this reader and I have such a similar take on the world. Thanks, social media and the odd lens of Twitter for driving two people apart.)

My mom was not one to make big public statements. Yet, I think it was growing up as her daughter that made me a) write to figure things out and b) want to fight just a little bit harder to create equilibrium where things don’t make sense.

She always told me to be pretty (in my attitude — it wasn’t an admonition about appearance). Time will tell if there’s a way to blend that with standing firm.

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” (But I can’t resist spell checking, as you can imagine.) 

Mom would tell me to refrain from...

No sports? No problem! Here’s a news game

The world is pretty much without professional and college sports right now. I have done 18 posts to highlight my favorite SmartBrief stories for each month, so although this little game won’t replace the thrill of the Final Four or a spring of baseball, hopefully it will change things up a little bit from my previous formats and exercise your brain.

The briefs I edit fall under the “nonprofit” umbrella, yet they are pretty diverse. Maybe it’s just the pandemic talking, but as I looked back at my favorite stories from April, there seemed to be similarities I don’t always see. Is it logical that there was an intersection between social work and business transformation? Is there a way science and social work converge?

I will do my usual breakdown of briefs and favorite stories after this, but if you want to challenge your mind, here’s an option.

Click on the graphic below and it will take you to a game.

After clicking on the graphic: 1) Click the green arrow to start 2) Click the red “next” button 3) Now you’re at the game! Drag the topic area to the quote you think it matches. For example, if you think “public safety” matches up with ‘Why don’t we just try … then become that?’, drag “public safety” to that quote. It will only stick the correct brief area to the correct quote, so the good news is you’ll have scored “100” by the time you’re done!*

No sports? No problem! Here's a news game

Whether you played the game or not, here are my favorites.

BoardSource (Nonprofit board management)

This story in the April 7 issue of the BoardSource newsletter was about how the American Refugee Committee went about rebranding itself. The article goes in-depth about how the organization arrived at its new name, “Alight.” I was struck by the executive director’s comment that they asked themselves, “Why don’t we just try to do what we think is right, and then become that?” So many businesses and nonprofits do things the other way around — picking a name or logo and then trying to squeeze themselves into that identity. I liked the call to really think about WHAT you are doing before telling the world WHO you are.

Quote: Why don’t we just try to do what we think is right, and then become that?

Business Transformation SmartBrief (Business transformation)

This is the newest brief to my lineup (it was created in December of last year). It has the word “business” in its name for a reason, but I like the stories that encourage people to think in transformative ways as much or more than the stories that are more narrowly focused on business and the fourth industrial revolution. In the April 10 issue, we shared a story about the power of imagination, even at times like this when businesses are forced to make very cut-and-dried decisions to survive.

Quote: Imagination is … one of the hardest things to keep alive under pressure.

International City/County Management Association (City/county management)

The reason I chose a quote from this story that was in the April 14 issue requires a brief explanation. The county council involved found itself in the position of choosing to reassure citizens that they would not increase taxes. That sounds a bit vanilla BUT … the prospect of a tax increase (which only one of the five members was supporting) really only got public attention because it was, for the first time, published in a larger newspaper than usual. It had to be published in a larger paper than usual because the smaller newspapers that used to carry legally-required ads of this type are now defunct.

The quote I chose for the “game” is “there are no more local print newspapers closer to the area,” but this is one that needs to be read in context.

“The advertisement was placed in small, local publications in years past. This was the first year that it was published in The Washington Post because there are no more local print newspapers closer to the area, [the county budget director] said.”

and

“The ad might have received more attention this time because it was placed in a large newspaper and people might be reading through the newspaper more because of a stay-at-home order in effect in Maryland.” (Also a statement by the budget director.)

Moral of the story: Newspapers of all sizes matter.

National Association of Social Workers (Social work)

Our team member who does the searches for the social work stories does a great job of trying to find angles we haven’t covered before. That’s why I especially liked this story in our April 23 issue about how the pandemic challenged traditional Ramadan practices this year. A social worker talked about how stay-at-home orders are especially difficult on elder members of the Somali American Muslim community where she works in Minnesota. The quote I used came from a business owner who was providing more context (and it’s certainly universal beyond social work).

Quote: The businesses here are losing a lot of money because few people are buying.

National Emergency Number Association (Public safety)

One of the areas of focus for the NENA Public Safety brief is how law enforcement uses social media to communicate with the public. That’s why I loved this story in the April 2 issue about a sheriff who is being a creative communicator. Sheriff Robert Maciol and other department staff members have been going to schools around the community to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and broadcast it on Facebook live. I’ve heard so many instances of kids missing their school routines. I have to imagine this delights some children (and their parents).

Quote: In these tough times, neighbors and communities need to band together.

Reserve Officers Association (Military reserve officers)

Before I read this article in the April 27 ROA newsletter, I have to admit I was a little skeptical (ignorant, I suppose) when I would read about an entire ambulance being decontaminated or an N95 mask being reusable if appropriately decontaminated. But this article explained it very well and made me appreciate the National Guard troops who are deployed against COVID-19 even more.

Quote: We’re trying to find out how much hydrogen peroxide is needed for how long, to be effective in different HVAC systems.

Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Honor Society (Science)

We use Gizmodo as a source fairly often in this brief, but I am always excited when one of the articles we’re sharing is from its Birdmodo category. In the April 9 issue, we shared an article about a rare hybrid hawk and how it came to be. The writer has such an engaging style; he makes bird stories fun to read while also providing accurate scientific information. I’ve been married for 27 years, so I can’t say I still know for sure whether it’s swiping left or right that’s a good thing, but I definitely got the point when the writer said this:

Quote: … after years of unrequited courting, someone finally swiped right.

UN Wire (United Nations Foundation)

Finally, UN Wire, which as you can imagine for an international brief dealing with issues relevant to followers of the United Nations Foundation was heavily weighted toward the pandemic. The story I chose a quote from is related to the pandemic too, but as a Shot at Life champion and advocate for children worldwide to have access to immunizations, this is the one that stood out to me. It’s from the April 29 issue.

Quote: The effect of the lack of vaccinations has already begun to emerge.

Fun with a webinar

Since going full-time at SmartBrief in September 2018 (I had been a freelancer for a while before that), I have been reflecting on the adventure of climbing a whole new learning curve after having a career in a different industry. Some things feel much more comfortable now that I can see the two-year mark in the near future. Yet there are always opportunities to do something new. In April, I got to moderate a webinar. My part was pretty limited (introducing the speakers, helping get the questions asked by participants to them, saying goodbye and closing things out), but the whole process was interesting.

As I’ve learned from being a volunteer producer on the New York Times readalong and from some other recent experiences helping facilitate livestreamed events, preparation matters OH SO MUCH. Therefore, it was as interesting to me to see the backend pieces (meeting with the presenters, etc.) as it was to do the actual event. If you’re interested in learning more about GovPilot (government management software), you can get access to the “Cloud-Based Government Management for Crisis and Beyond” webinar by visiting this link.

Keeping people informed isn’t a game

I’m proud of the work we do at Future/SmartBrief. I take seriously our role in helping people stay informed, especially at a time when information is flying all over the place (not all of it especially accurate).

Each month, I share the open positions at SmartBrief and Future for anyone who is interested in being a part of finding and sharing stories through business-to-business newsletters.

wrote in more detail about my experience as a SmartBrief employee here, which may help answer any questions you have. As always, I’m happy to answer inquiries and provide more information about the process.

Open positions at SmartBrief and Future plc can be found at this link. As of this writing, the most recent position listed is this Digital Ad Trafficker position in our Washington, D.C., office. If you are interested in applying, please list me as your referrer or email me so we can discuss further.

To subscribe to one (or more) SmartBrief newsletters, including the “end of the work day” While You Were Working, for which I am a contributing editor, click here. We’re also still producing a brief specific to COVID-19 on Tuesdays and Fridays, and you can subscribe to it here.

If you aren’t in a subscribing mood, you can still keep up with us at the site of our parent company, Future; on FacebookSmartBrief TwitterLeadership SmartBrief TwitterLinkedIn and SmartBrief Instagram.

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*I know the score it gives you isn’t “100.” It’s actually designed for you to review the topic areas/terms first then try to beat the clock. Hey, I’m the nonprofit person, not the educational design person!

**The views expressed here are my personal views and not those of my employer.