School bus driver saves children

Everyday heroes part I

I saw an inspiring story on the news this week about a school bus driver in Indiana who  saved 11 children from a tornado.

Angel Perry stayed calm under immense pressure and didn’t panic though destruction was literally minutes away. She even counted the children as they ran into the school for safety, seconds before the 18-ton bus was picked up and thrown into a nearby building. Seeing the wreckage  shows what the fate of those children would have been, if she hadn’t acted quickly and courageously.

This reminds me of the incident a few years ago when pilot Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger landed a plane in the Hudson River after it struck a flock of Canada geese. Because of his quick action, all 155 passengers and crew survived.

These are just two examples of normal, everyday people who acted heroically. I know there are many more.

The good news for today is that the world is full of heroes like Angel and Sully. Do you know any heroes? Are you one? Please share your story.

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Where’s your happy place?

“You’re happier when your friends are happy (by about 15%), but research shows that you’re also 10% happier when their friends are happy. Even crazier, a friend of a friend of a friend being happy increases your happiness by about 6%. We aim to amplify world happiness by leveraging this network effect.” (Taken from the Happster app page)

Where’s your happy place? Now you can share it, and find new ones.

I just learned about this new app called Happster that has me excited for several reasons:

  1. It’s all about place-marking and sharing ‘happy’ (isn’t it great when happy goes viral?)
  2. The creation of it was amazingly…well…happy
  3. It was occasioned by South by Southwest (a.k.a. SXSW)

This app was created by six people during a mobile ‘hackathon’ called The Startup Bus. It was finished on their way to SXSW. Now, for those of you who don’t know SXSW (really?), this 10-day annual festival in Austin,Texas, is a convergence of music, film, interactive, and education. It celebrates innovation and creativity.

Now, I’m a SXSW fan because I’m all about using technology to communicate and bring people together. Which is why I’m also excited about another recent example of technology in action.

I co-lead a special interest group that focuses on bringing communications and technology together. Tech/SIG, a sub-group of KC/IABC, is a hands-on think-tank of people from various backgrounds and vocations…all connected in some way to communications. This week we launched a redesign of the format and it was a huge success.

People can join in three ways: in-person, via teleconference, and by Google+ Hangout. Which breaks down geographic barriers! At this meeting we had people from four states including California and Costa Rico (see photo  from the Google+ Hangout perspective).

The most exciting part of last week’s meeting, however, is that it was attended by social media superstar Shel Holtz. He wrote about the meeting in his Holtz Communication + Technology.

The topic, led by guest speaker Sara Folkerts, was about Sprint’s Social Ninja program, an award-winning employee social media ambassador program. It’s all about empowering employees to share the good news about their company. (To read about this program, visit the KC/IABC blog that I contribute to.) One of the group’s co-leaders is at SXSW and I’m looking forward to a recap at our next meeting.

So the good news for today is:

  • There is now an app for happy
  • There are people out there dedicated to using technology to bring people together, in a good way.

Until next time, get your happy app on, and let us know where your happy place is.

To learn more visit:

IABC Kansas City Wins International Chapter of the Year

Since July I have had the honor of serving as a board member of KC/IABC, the local chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators. Last week we received the great news that we won the IABC International Chapter of the Year award. This is a major accomplishment in the communications world.

One of the VPs on our board, Donna Schwartze, also won Chapter Volunteer Leader of the Year. We won six individual awards, as well as Large Chapter of the Year (the International Chapter of the Year is chosen from the small, medium and large chapter winners).

I am so proud to be a part of this group. As the director of social media for this organization that is focused on excellence in communications, I have enjoyed working with very talented and gifted individuals. My only hope is that I can give back as much as I have gained.

Congratulations to KC/IABC, my fellow board members, and all who support this great organization. The good news for today is that there is only one way to go from here for KC/IABC, and that is up!

To learn more about the award and KC/IABC visit:
We’re International Chapter of Year
www.kciabc.com

The universe is unfolding as it should

Many people I know are going through tough times lately.  They’re experiencing failing health, financial struggles, work issues (or lack of work issues), stress, and overwhelming change.  A theme that cuts through my conversations with friends, family and colleagues is if there will ever be stability again. The questions they keep asking are “why?” and “is there a reason for all of this?”

I don’t have answers, other than I personally believe there is a reason.  There are days when all you can cling to is that there must be a bigger plan that we just don’t know about.  There are other days when it is clear how things are all coming together. 

One of my touchstones that keeps me going through the tough times, and makes me joyous in the good, is the poem Desiderata.  Today’s entry is dedicated to keeping the faith that there is purpose in all that we go through, and there is ultimately peace

The good news for today is that things do work out.

Here are some excerpts from Desiderata that I turn to regularly:

“You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.  And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.  Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him/Her to be.  And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.”
Max Ehrmann

Don’t stop believing

Did you know that Journey’s classic song “Don’t Stop Believing”  just turned 30?  It’s the most covered song in modern history and has sold over one million downloads.

As an optimist, I love the message that no matter what happens, never stop trying to achieve your dreams, and never stop believing in yourself. Even when life throws curves and the outlook is bleak, good things can be around the corner.  The story of the song’s creation itself illustrates this.

Band member Jonathan Cain was the inspiration behind the song.  He was on very rough times and barely scraping by when he joined Journey.  His father kept telling him “don’t stop believing” and that was the start of the song that would make history. 

Another band member’s life was also transformed. When Journey needed to replace retired lead singer Steve Perry, Neil Schon came across a video of Arnel Pineda on YouTube. Pineda was a singer for a Fillipino cover band and was just trying to survive after years of hardship including the death of his mother at age 13, which left him and his family homeless.  Pineda is now with Journey, and sharing his good fortune with others.

So the good news for today, is don’t stop believing….dreams can come true.

Watch the CBS Sunday Morning interview:
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/07/24/sunday/main20082644.shtml

Watch the video about Arnel Pineda’s story:
everymansjourney.com

 

The freedom to speak, seek and serve

During this Fourth of July weekend I have been thinking a lot about freedom.  This is such a profound concept that I hesitate to tackle it here, but I will try.

Perhaps the best way is by exploring the lack of it.  I have been fortunate enough to have witnessed the effects of communism first-hand, and it was sobering.  Three aspects of freedom – to speak, seek and serve — were clearly defined for me during these experiences.

Two years ago I visited China during my executive MBA course through the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Part of our tour of Beijing included a visit to Tiananmen Square.  Walking through this beautiful and expansive place was sobering and haunting, knowing about the 1989 protest and massacre.  Being there in person made the event more real, and I was struck with remorse about the lives and spirits that were crushed that day.

We were told not to talk or ask about the uprising. Sadly, Americans know more about this event than Chinese citizens do.  This is because the Chinese government controls the information that people receive so as to preserve a positive image.

Also as part of my experience in China, I and a fellow student met with a social service group.  We were doing research on health care in China, which is woefully lacking.  This organization, an NGO (non-government organization), was illegal.  Their mission was to send volunteer doctors and nurses to provide much needed health care to rural parts of China. Were they to be found out, those involved would most likely be imprisoned.  The two young women (one a nurse, the other a recent college graduate) leading this effort were putting their lives and futures in jeopardy.  The reason the government does not ‘allow’ non-profit, social service organizations to exist is because it would be embarrassing.  Technically, the government provides for all needs of all their citizens.  Therefore, there should be no need for assistance, though there clearly is.

So what is freedom?  From my experiences, freedom to me means the ability to:

  • speak freely and openly;
  • have access to all the information I could ever want (Wikipedia or Google anyone?);
  • question our government;
  • and serve others in need,
    …all without fear of repercussion.

The good news for the day is that we are a free country.  My thanks go to all who protect this freedom every day.

Happy, happy Independence Day.

A Time of Courage

Today is both a day of remembrance and recovery.  Memorial Day honors soldiers who have fought and died for us to have freedom. I believe it is a day to honor those actively fighting as well.

Also today, across the country people and communities are fighting to recover from the scourge of nature’s fury.  The most recent events include tornadoes across the Midwest (including the one that swept Joplin, Mo., the deadliest in 60 years), and floods in Montana.  Others are still recovering from tornadoes earlier in the season, and flooding in the South. Many lives have been lost in these natural disasters.  Today we honor those no longer with us, and think of those who continue to fight and recover.  The word that connects both of these groups is courage.

In the midst of all the sad news, the good news for today is that while so many have lost so much, they have not lost courage.

I leave you with this quote:

“Courage does not always roar.  Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow”

Mary Anne Radmacher

The end of the world

Today the good news is two-fold: The world did not end, and we have another opportunity to ….what?  What will you do with your second chance?

Recently a friend and I discussed what it means to be successful.  I was inspired by her response, so much that I want to share it.  She said that success is not defined by a title, but by the impact a person has on people.  She said she has never been befriended by someone because of her title.  What impact do you have on people?  Are you successful? So the other good news for today is that you can be successful, regardless of your title (background, name, experience, fill in the blank), just by having a positive impact.

And because I need to get a quote in here, how about the classic by R.E.M.:

It’s the end of the world as we know it….and I feel fine.”

Peace

By Angela Connelly

In my last entry I promised to share some words that inspired a friend.  This poem that I read in an Oprah magazine years ago, reminds us that loss can bring new opportunity.  It is a poem I like to read from time to time, and that I share with people going through a life challenge.

This being human is a guest house,
every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as a unique visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
                                 Rumi

This makes me think of the people whose lives have been torn apart by the recent tornadoes, and the people in Japan recovering from the earthquake. I hope for them that they encounter some new delight by having gone through these terrible events.  The good news for today is that good things can come from rubble (even if it takes a while to realize it).

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