In a cruel trick, one of the first things the DoD did to us tonight was move our wake-up call from 6A to 5:30A. We have to be in the lobby for breakfast at 6A, which means I really have to get up at 5A. I should have asked if I agreed to skip breakfast and simply have a Payday bar if I could have slept in. Our bus doesn’t leave until 7:15A, so I could have slept in until at LEAST 6:15A. Truthfully, I’m just griping to gripe. I’m actually having the time of my life!
Tonight at dinner they introduced all five team captains. Christine, our team leader, was introduced last and our entire table stood up and cheered. I think we may have shocked the room because all of the other captains got mildly polite applause. But hey, we’re Team Army. Nothing but the best for our captain!
We heard from Doug Wilson, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs. And Sumit Agarwal, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Outreach and Social Media. But the best was Major General Eric Fiel, Chief of Staff for U.S. Special Operations Command. He was so nice and personable and gave a great (read: not boring) speech. Among his notable quotes:
“The boss said to put the wow factor into your trip.”
“Don’t come home [in reference to this JCOC crew] unless you’re crawling.”
In regards to the military: “They’re all pretty special men and women. They’re all leaders. I think you’ll be really proud of the men and women who defend your country.” MM note: Based on those who we met tonight, and to those few that I know personally, I already am.
Tomorrow looks like a bunch of presentations with a flight out that evening. I might get to sit in the cockpit for takeoff. Fingers crossed!
Will update tomorrow sometime between my 5A alarm, the 5:30A wake-up call and the 6A breakfast.
Short post tonight. We checked in and they had…MARY KAY PRODUCTS waiting for us! So awesome. Last year someone from Mary Kay attended and sent these out this year. I am trying to commandeer as many as possible for myself. Lotion, especially stuff that smells good, has many valuable uses!
So excited…we’re going to get to go on a helicopter runs, shoot guns, fly in the cockpit during takeoff and/or landing, see a Black Daggar demonstration (a US Army Special Ops jump team), sniper demonstration, a rappel demonstration (Marines)and so on and so forth.
Our group only gets four slots for takeoff and/or landing. I really want to go up in the cockpit for takeoff. Think I can convince the guys to let me?
Less than 24 hours until JCOC! Today I was up at 4A to get to my position as volunteer captain for Checkpoint #30 at the American Odessey Relay. 25 of 120 teams were military and I dare say many more had military connections, such as the friends who got me involved in the running community in the first place. (A shout-out to Jon and Kyrah and Team “Run for Wine.” You did great!) Of all the teams, the military teams were the most courteous of the volunteers and respectful of our rules. (Not that these rules were very difficult: 1. Keep the chute open for the transitioning runners and 2. Don’t get hit by a car on my watch.) A big congrats to all who finished, especially the Bucknell Fossils for what I believe was their second win in a row. On a 200+ mile road race, that’s impressive.
And before I go away, another special shout-out to those who have been keeping me from stressing out over work and the race - Cindy, Bobbie, Stephanie, Sean, Dr. J. You guys rock. Kerry, I know I owe you a call.
This is quite possible the most random blog post but it’s 8P, I’ve been up since 4A, and I’m at work trying to get stuff ready before I go. I still think I’ll be working harder next week than I am now.
And to my Army teammates, loved the email correspondence today. Remember, P90X is our competitor! And if we get on an obstacle course and you need someone small to throw over a wall, I think that will be me. Just please, be careful with my shoes.
I was hoping to find a good quote from Great Expectations to use in this post, but a Google search reminded me of just how tedious Charles Dickens can be. (Apologies to all the Dickens fans out there and Mr. Reidy, my high school English teacher.)
At lunch the other day, it was suggested that I outline my expectations prior to heading out and then see how they match up on the back end. The challenge, though, is that I’m not quite sure what to expect. I suspect that I’ll work harder next week than I have throughout most of my career - and that’s really saying something. I know that it will be many early wake-up calls and lots of late nights. I’m hopeful that I’ll get to eat at least one bacon, egg and cheese sandwich in the chow hall - and maybe even an entire pizza. (I suspect we’ll be moving so fast that the extra calories won’t be a problem.)
Chris Graves @cgraves, Ogilvy PR’s global CEO and a wildly smart individual, suggested that I look for parallels in industry sectors or thought categories. How does the military handle supply/demand? Operations? Communications? Leadership? What are military best practices that can be applied to the private sector? This seems a good place to start. (And this is why Chris is our global CEO…always thinking and leading the way, yet never too busy to give personal advice and connect one-on-one with his folks on the ground.)
I’m looking forward to seeing what it REALLY means to “Be All That You Can Be.”
Hooah from DC. Tampa and Special Ops, here comes Marie Manning!
Last night, I ran into witty wordsmith Steve Daley, who suggested I call my blog “I Joined The Wrong Army.” Alas, I don’t think Ogilvy will go for a total rebranding, so instead I’ll pay homage to Private Benjamin and Daley with this blog entry.
The conversation took this turn when I mentioned my most recent correspondence with MSG Thompson. She advised that there was no guarantee of a hair dryer at every “lodging facility” on the JCOC trip (we’ll get back to that in a sec) and that while the usual amenities would be offered (soap, shampoo, etc.), she also threw in the words “quality” and “ideal” and now I’m thinking that it might be good to bring my own. So into the suitcase went the Bulgari amentities procured from my last vacation at the Ritz-Carlton San Juan. I’ll be the best-smelling guest soldier in the history of Special Ops. Quite possibly the JCOC, too.
Now, let’s get back to the words “lodging facility,” which were used in the following context: “I cannot guarantee a hair dryer at every hotel or lodging facility…” Something tells me that not only will there be a dearth of hair dryers, but there won’t be 24-hour room service or fluffly white bathrobes either. Lodging facilities, huh? I’ll be sure to let you know what that means once I get there.
To steal a quote from Goldie Hawn, “You see, I joined the Army with the condos and the private rooms.” Here’s hoping “lodging facility” does not mean a tent on the beach.
Of course, that counts as ocean view accommodations, doesn’t it?
I am beginning to feel a bit like my grandmother, whose bags would be packed and ready to go two days prior to any trip. I say this because last night I packed and zippered my suitcase for JCOC. Yes, Dave and RoseAnn (our JCOC coordinators), I fit everything into one bag. It’s truly shocking. MSG Thompson (our fabulous Army Team captain), are you sure I can’t get a private to assist me with my luggage?!
I also received an email from my friends vacationing in Mexico that my Harley Davidson boots have arrived and I can pick them up Friday. I think I’ll wear them when volunteering at the American Odessey Relay on Saturday; standing outside for eight hours tracking runners (and supervising the set-up of the Port-A-Potties) should be an excellent test of their comfort.
Now that the clothes have been purchased, we’re moving on to other necessary essentials for JCOC 79. Dramamine for potential motion sickness (I’ve only ever gotten sick on an anchored sailboat, but this former Girl Scout always comes prepared). Advil for headaches. Sunblock (lots of it). Bug and tick spray/wipes (Really don’t want to be scratching while meeting the higher-ups.). Liquid Band-Aid for cuts. Tylenol PM for allergies and sleeping (don’t think the latter is going to be a problem, though).
And last but not least, what every great fashionista masquerading as a soldier needs in her first aid kit:
The person who invented these is pure genius.
Took the weekend off since next Saturday/Sunday will be booked up with the American Odessey Relay (if anyone is running, I’ll be your volunteer team captain at Checkpoint #30) and then the start of JCOC 79. Can’t wait.
It got me thinking, though, that while we in the private sector get days off - be they Saturday/Sunday or some other combination - many of those serving overseas don’t have that luxury. Instead, they spent their weekends getting the cars clean and shiny, on patrol, doing mandatory workouts at the gym and who knows what else. They can only dream about spending an entire lazy Sunday in bed with a loved one or outside in the sunshine having a picnic and flying a kite.
A good friend of mine who serves in the Air Force once told me that when serving overseas, “Every day is Wednesday.” So here’s to Monday, the start of my work week, but probably the long, long middle of someone else’s. I’ll be keeping this in mind over the two weeks, especially when fumbling for those 4AM wake-up calls.
PS LTG Whitcomb told me to practice my “Hooah.” If you hear a strange noise coming out of my office, let me know how it sounds!
After about six months off from blogging, I’m back. Don’t worry, I didn’t have a David Schuster moment. So to cover the time off, some things I think I think.
I have to admit I was not amazed that The New York Times knew about the Securities and Exchange Commission filing a civil case again Goldman Sachs before many at Goldman Sachs did. (According to Politico, someone must have tipped off the Times since they were able to get a 1,200 word story up on their Web site minutes after the suit was filed — updated version here.) On the other hand, some at Goldman Sachs found out when the story appeared on CNBC. I originally thought Goldman’s DC lobbyists would have known something was coming, but I’ve been hearing they are viewed as lepers and treated accordingly.
This has been a bad year for the vaunted Wall Street investment firm. Suspicions about Goldman’s activities in the AIG and Greece collapses, the ongoing talk that it puts its interests over those of its clients, the so-called revolving door between the firm and the government and other real or imagined black eyes have united the left and right in putting the firm as the centerpiece of their anti-Wall Street, anti-bailout opposition.
But there have been a number of self-inflicted wounds too. Whether it was Lloyd Blankfein’s comment about the firm doing “God’s work” in The Sunday Times that quickly went viral, the widely mocked announcement from the firm’s charitable foundation about making a billion dollar donation to small business around the same time that firm reported it has billions to release as bonuses, or the firm’s increasingly frosty relations with reporters, the firm has made a number of missteps that the firm’s in-house PR team was slow or unable to counter. (UPDATE: Another example, CNBC’s Erin Burnett on “Morning Joe” Monday morning said that it took Goldman 10 hours to get out any response the federal charges, which esstentially lost the firm one whole news cycle.) The fact that Goldman hired an outside public relations firm (not Ogilvy PR) showed that some at the firm were not happy with the results the in-house team under Lucas van Praag was producing. When Charlie Gasparino, who has both defended and attacked the investment firm, went live on Fox Business to report about the infighting by the board over the outside PR firm’s recommendations, you could tell how divided the firm’s leadership was on what steps the firm needed to take to stop the reputational bleeding.
Now, with the SEC suit, the firm has gone from having a PR problem to having a real problem. Look for the firm to circle the wagons even tighter. The Obama administration will likely use the SEC suit as justification for pushing harder for financial services reform, which will create more headaches for the firm in the short term. (What, you thought the filing on the law suit and some of the White House’s harshest criticism of Wall Street was coincidental?)
UPDATE 2: President Obama is going to Wall Street on Thursday to make a speech on financial services reform.
There was a very interesting story in Politico about the views of the Obama administration inside the Beltway and outside the Beltway. Here are several key paragraphs:
While Washington talks about Obama’s new mojo, polls show voters outside the Beltway are sulking — soured on the president, his party and his program. The Gallup Poll has Obama’s approval rating at an ominous 49 percent, after hitting a record low of 47 percent last weekend. A new poll in Pennsylvania, a bellwether industrial state, shows his numbers sinking, as did recent polls in Ohio and Florida.
So there are two Obamas: Rising in D.C., struggling in the U.S.
Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell admits that Republicans won the health-care messaging war and says he has been traveling to dinners and fundraisers across the country to implore Democrats to fight back.
“The spin took hold,” Rendell said. “I expected more of a bounce than he got, but again it all goes to 16 months in which the Republicans have dominated the spin on stimulus and health care. … It’s time for us to roll up our sleeves and say, ‘Game on.’ And the more we do that, the better it will be.”
It’s yet another deficit for Obama to tackle: The Republican Party has closed its popularity gap with the Democrats, and people say they’d be at least as happy with the GOP in charge of Capitol Hill. Wall Street sees a recovery, but everyday Americans think their country is still on the wrong track. And health reform is even less popular now in some polls than it was before it passed.
“Everyone in the pressure cooker in Washington got all excited like the millennium had arrived [when health care reform passed], but I don’t think most reasonable people read it that way,” Democratic Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen said. Bredesen said people are worried about the cost and “appalled at the process in the Congress that produced it.”
Bredesen said that in the states, it’s not about power politics and who’s up and who’s down, but about the cost — an estimated $1.1 billion for the Volunteer State from 2014 to 2019, with the costs ballooning just as the state was expecting to begin recovering from the trauma of the past three years. “We haven’t given raises to state employees for three years and probably won’t for three more years,” Bredesen said.
Now there are still six months to go until the mid-term elections and plenty could change if the unemployment rate goes down. But right now the signs are not good for the Democrats.
Speaking of November, my first post on The Intersection asked if it was time for MoveOn.org to move on. One of the things I pointed at was threats by it (and other liberal activist groups) to punish Democratic incumbents they viewed as insufficiently liberal by finding candidates to run against them in the primaries. Even if their candidates didn’t win, they hoped that the incumbent would tack to the left in the future. That strategy had limited success in 2008.
In 2010, MoveOn.org and others are trying the same strategy by backing Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter in a primary challenge against incumbent Blanche Lincoln. To help Halter the groups helped raise millions to fund his campaign through their grass roots networks. Now, with less than a month to go before the primary, the most recent Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll (April 12-14) shows that Lincoln is leading Halter by 12 points (45-33).
Assuming no major changes until the May18 primary, the question becomes what did MoveOn.org get for its effort? It has forced Lincoln to spend money on a primary challenge that she certainly needs for a general election campaign where she currently trails all five potential Republican challengers. The primary battle has also driven up Lincoln’s negatives, again something she didn’t need. She was always one of the most vulnerable Democrats incumbents in a state that has been trending increasingly Republican. If she loses, it would be fair for the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to place some of the blame at MoveOn.org’s feet. If the Democrats lose control of the Senate, look for MoveOn.org and its allies to be placed in the center of the Democrats’ circular firing squad.
If there was any issue where public relations setbacks have slowed momentum on another one of President Obama’s signature goals, it is the environment. Even before the Copenhagen climate change conference, it became apparent that the widely-hyped talks would go nowhere. Despite attempts by the President to rally the talks, all Copenhagen really produced were some largely meaningless announcements and an agreement to try to rally in upcoming talks in Cancun. Attempts to spin them differently were knocked down by pundits and the press not associated with the environmental movement.
Copenhagen was not the only public relations setback. First, the so-called Climategate scandal put climate change advocates on the defensive for several months. When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the organization that shared the Nobel Prize with Al Gore, was forced to retract a study on the melting of glaciers in the Himalayas, the environmental movement suffered another set back. Industry and conservative attacks on cap and trade as “cap and tax” and a job killer largely stuck and Sens. John Kerry, Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham were forced to stop using the phrase since it was a seen as a political negative (much like the environmental movement had to stop using global warming since the public no longer “bought” the phrase). At the same time, President Obama’s green jobs speeches fell largely of deaf ears.
As a result, and in conjunction with high unemployment, the public has soured on environmental issues. For the first time ever, a Gallup poll showed that Americans preferred developing energy supplies over protecting the environment by a 50-43 margin. A March CNN poll confirmed something that Gallup noticed last year, the public thought the country should give a higher to improving the economy than protecting the environment. (Interestingly, this is a generational issue with Americans over 50 largely supporting economic growth, while those under 50 still supporting protecting the environment over economic growth.) The poll also showed that only two percent of voters thought that the environment would be the biggest issue influencing their vote in November. Finally, a Rasmussen poll from March showed that Americans had flipped on the cause of climate change in a year:
Nearly half of voters (48%) believe global warming is caused primarily by long-term planetary trends, a number that also has held steady since last July. Just 33% blame the problem on human activity, which is one point below the lowest level measured in over a year. Eight percent (8%) attribute global warming to some other cause, and 11% are undecided.
Belief that human activity is the primary cause of global warming has declined significantly. In April 2008, the numbers were nearly the mirror image of the current findings. At that time, 47% blamed human activity, while only 34% named long-term planetary trends as the reason for climate change.
While Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has made noises about personally leading the fight to pass a climate bill, the public support for the issue and a cap and trade solution is much lower than it was a year ago. There is an outside chance that the a less aggressive bill, pushed by Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington could pass, but time is quickly running out on the Senate calendar for action this year.
Fun post from the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz on Twitter today:
Love that @KeithOlbermann is broadcasting his hate-tweets (kind that would’ve been written in crayon years ago). Very entertaining.
I understand the need for companies to get their name aligned with a good cause, some known as corporate social responsibility in PR-speak. But I pity the ESPN play-by-play announcer who has to regularly mention the new Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl (the old Emerald Bowl in San Francisco). Given the number of 250+ pound players on the field, I’m not sure that this is the best use of Kraft marketing dollars.
Speaking of sports…college football added an additional game with the new Pinstripe Bowl to be played at the new Yankee Stadium. The game will feature the number six team from Big 12 and the number three team from Big East. I’m sorry, but I don’t get it. I’ve always questioned the need for the Eagle Bank Bowl (Washington in December?) and the Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl (Boise in December?). I assume the bowl organizers are hoping that local teams Rutgers or UConn make it into the bowl every because — well, have you ever tried to navigate Manhattan or reserve a hotel room in New York on December 30? Add the potential for lousy weather and I see a lot of empty seats, similar to what we get here in DC for the Eagle Bank Bowl. Let’s call the game for what it is, another game between two mediocre teams during an increasingly crowded and irrelevant bowl week.
Finally, it appears that the Nike/Tiger Woods ad backfired on Nike. According to a poll by HCD Research, the percentage of Americans who had a favorable opinion of the company dropped after the ad ran and went viral.
In the words of Maury Povich, until next time America….
A new update came in from the Pentagon today. “We won’t be sleeping in the field…” (Amen!) followed by “…but we will definitely be in the field at times.” Something tells me they don’t mean the Field of Dreams.
The Army is warning us that they are requiring long sleeves and long pants. What on earth will we be doing? Whatever it is, they still haven’t scared me into running for the hills. They’ll have to try much harder!
Let’s see…email says bring bug repellent. Doesn’t say anything about sunblock but my Irish-Polish skin will be slathered in it night and day. Bring Dramamine because we’ll be “motoring on the water.” Cool!
If any outdoorsmen (or women) are reading this, suggestions on bug repellent and other gear to bring would be most appreciated.
Media Relations Myths