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Happy Tweetsgiving – For What Are You Grateful?

Nobody succeeds alone.

Not you. Not a grade school in Tanzania. Certainly not me.

As part of my role as an Honorary Turkey for the Tweetsgiving movement this year, I’ve been asked to write a post about gratitude.

For the next 48 hours, thousands of people online and offline will proclaim what they are thankful for – both online and offline. If you have a blog (and I know many of you do), it would be tremendous if you could create your own gratitude post in the next day or so. And if you’re on Twitter (almost all of you), please tweet what you’re thankful for using the hash tag #tweetsgiving.

What’s the Point?

We’re building a groundswell of gratitude. All of us, working together to create a global celebration of that which is good in a world where so much isn’t. This is the second year of Tweetsgiving, organized by certified non-profit Epic Change. And in addition to raising the profile of gratitude, we’re raising money for a great cause.


Last year’s successful Tweetsgiving raised more than $11,000 to build a classroom in Arusha, Tanzania. This year, we’re building a technology lab for the school, and raising funds to underwrite Epic Change fellows world-wide (like Mama Lucy, who founded the Kamptoni School with proceeds from her chicken sales).

In honor of that for which you’re grateful, if you could donate a few dollars to the Tweetsgiving cause, I’d sure appreciate it. Dozens of kids in Tanzania will appreciate it even more. I’m in for $100, and for every Tweet that includes “@jaybaer and #tweetsgiving” I’ll donate another $1. Here’s how you can get involved immediately:

Thank You

I’m thankful for all of you, whose support allows me to have one of the greatest jobs in the world. I’m thankful for my health, and my family, and my friends, and of course my children, who have every conceivable advantage that the kids in Tanzania don’t (yet).

But today I want to give thanks to the people that helped me along my journey.

Sometimes it’s not what you know, but who teaches it to you, and my career has been largely shaped by that circumstance.

Taken Under the (Turkey) Wing

Hank Kenski
When I was in college, my advisor was Dr. Hank Kenski, a genius political science professor whose work focused on issue advertising and campaigning. Dr. Kenski introduced to me the notion that politics and marketing were two sides of the same coin, and set me on the career path that continues today. I took six classes from Dr. Kenski, and he spent countless hours guiding my development. Without him, I’d be writing for your local newspaper.

Bob Robb
As an 18 year-old college intern, I worked for Bob Robb, one of the smartest, most strategic communications professionals I’ve ever met. Bob ran one of the West’s leading public relations and public affairs companies at the time. He certainly didn’t need some kid running around his offices (Dr. Kenski got me the interview, natch).

But from day one, I was thrown right into the fire of real work. I went to key meetings. Wrote copy. Worked on proposals. At one point, due to a staff defection, I served as the interim campaign manager for a controversial, statewide ballot initiative. At 18. Talk about baptism by microwave.

Bob is now an editorial page columnist for the Arizona Republic newspaper. He taught me to give people as much work as they could competently handle, regardless of experience or background. Without him, I’d have an entirely different, and diminutive, set of goals in my life.

John LaManna
After I left full-time politics, I worked for environmental services giant Waste Management for a few years. There, my boss was John LaManna, a Pittsburgh-native with the perhaps the deftest interpersonal touch I’ve witnessed. I was just 22, but John put me in charge of marketing, communication, and customer experience training for Arizona and Southern California. I wasn’t qualified, but John had an amazing ability to make everyone believe. In yourself. In the company. In teamwork.

To this day, the single greatest managerial feat I’ve witnessed was John convincing Teamsters to vote DOWN their own union, so that they could negotiate directly with John and Waste Management. He was an incredibly nice guy, but he was a nice guy with a purpose. He taught me to defy conventional wisdom and expand your expectations. Without him, I might never have started any companies of my own.

Win Holden
Today, Win Holden is the publisher of Arizona Highways Magazine. I worked for Win for several years in the most important job of my career, as founding General Manager of azfamily.com – the Internet arm of KTVK-3TV in Phoenix.

An incredibly adept manager, he is an artist at the concept of managerial inclusion. He was always asking for input, and created this pervasive sense that every decision was a group decision.

But what I learned most from Win is the value of networking. Win has been President of essentially every organization in Arizona worth being President of, and has more awards and plaques than I have socks (a lot more). It doesn’t matter who you are, or what you do, Win wants to meet you, know you, and help you. From Win I learned that meeting people and helping them wherever you can always pays off down the road. He innately understands that relationships transcend short-term business interests, and that today’s competitor is tomorrow’s collaborator. Without him, I might not be involved in social media, and I certainly wouldn’t give away as much content.

I’m Thankful for Helpful

In addition to being my boss, Hank and Bob and John and Win all share something incredibly important. The belief that mentorship – spending disproportionate time with others to help them improve and achieve – is worthwhile. And it is. Their selflessness and belief in me has made me the professional I am today. And I’ve done as much as I can to try to live by their example. (One of the things that I am most pleased about is the large number of people I’ve hired who have gone on to start or run successful companies.)

So today, in honor of Tweetsgiving, I’m giving thanks for mentorship. For taking the time to help others. And in this social media era, where it’s so much easier to interact, promote and assist, I’d like you to think about how you can help a young professional in your agency, or your community. The assistance you provide may seem minor to you, but it could be major to them. They’ll be grateful.

Me too.

(no comments on this post, okay? Tweet them with #tweetsgiving please)…and thanks to Danny Brown for getting me involved.